Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Short of It

Everyone has their favorite article of summer clothing. Whether it's your jersey knit dress, your white chinos, or a classic pair of madras shorts, you've surely sported your seasonal best at least a few times since the mercury rose past 70 degrees. A warm weather trend I've always been a fan of is the ankle length pant. (Not to be confused with the capri pant, which doesn't actually look good on anyone and has the affect of turning perfectly average legs into stocky hamhocks.)

Despite my affinity for the cropped trouser, I was confused and slightly bewildered to see Docker's ankle length pants for men while browsing the web for a linen sport jacket for my husband (an upcoming Ritz Carlton wedding in Jamaica certainly calls for linen). While a woman' slim, smooth ankle may look cute exposed under a pair of 26' inseam chambray pants, is a man's thicker, bear-like extremity really attractive? (my best friend Rebecca might have a thing or two to say about womens' ankles be called 'slim' as a generality, but she always likes to argue both sides of the case.) I'm just not sure how I feel about this new trend for the average man.

Whether you prefer to feel the breeze against your ankle bone, or like it covered up with some summer weight cotton, be sure to pull out all your best for the 4th. I'm sure I will pack my madras for a boating trip to Eastern Long Island on my parent's new yacht. Hopefully the hubs won't confuse our plaids.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Train-ing Days

To be a commuter in the true sense of the word, is to be a warrior of sorts (commuting 4 miles to work, no matter that it takes me 45 minutes to traverse the distance, does not actually count). Setting off each morning for a long, arduous day bettering the world one pair of shoes at a time is a daunting task in and of itself most days. But add to that a crowded train, 90 degrees, 80% humidity, and a gaggle of New York's un-finest, and you have quite a war of attrition.

I may be in the minority in some of my style views, but I just can't understand how a person shoe-horns themselves into a pair of snug, airless denim on a hot summer day. The sausage casing becomes engorged with flesh as the mercury rises, and the sight is painful for both wearer and passersby alike.

After a short 10 minute ride into Manhattan from my office, and a lovely dinner with a college friend at Lugo Cafe, (the only acceptable restaurant near NYC's Penn station, location chosen to ease her commute home to Hoboken and mine to Forest Hills) I had the displeasure of sharing a snug train car home with some disgruntled, disheveled, and dogged Long Islanders. (If that is what suburbia looks like after a 12 hour work day, do not sign me up for life out of the City.) I'm not sure I've seen that much polyester in one place since the time I rented Studio 54 from Blockbuster in the 90's. The odor of cheap take out and the sight of red and white grease soaked paper bags caused the Aperol Spritz to rise in my throat. The train is not only where synthetic fabric and faux leather hand bags go to die, apparently its also a dinner table and fully stocked wet bar rivaling that at a basement fraternity party.

As the woman next to me in a head to toe acrylic turquoise jump suit with black Reeboks audibly munched on her Taco Bell Gordita, I couldn't help but wonder when exactly the generation gap swallowed all sensibilities whole, without a single chew (much like the feasting lady to my left).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fall Foreward

Though for most normal people July signals the thick of summer, for fashion people, it rings in the first deliveries of fall (all in-warehouse dates after 6/26 are classified as fall, believe it or not). If you've been shopping lately you've no doubt noticed large sale signs, to clear the way for the fresher fall palette that often doesn't sit cohesively among the summer's citrus hues.

Rather than breaking out the tweed and cashmere, retailers take you into the new season gently, like those initial tip-toe tests of the icy ocean water in early June. Coral and brown is a popular transition combo I've seen around, done in short (but not too short) skirts and silk trimmed tanks for the hot temperatures. Blazers are seasonless, and J.Crew's Ikat number (pictured left) is right on for the in-between. And of course nothing beats a floral Zac Posen dress done in darker tones and cinched with a black belt for easing the conversion into cooler times.

For a peak at whats to come, take a trip down Madison (or to the local mall) and have a look around. As usual, the fashion world is a few steps ahead of the calendar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Legally Speaking

Though there are very mixed reviews when it comes to Coach (the once classic leather ware company now turned quasi-designer with the ever popular logo tapestry and a raging arsenal of 'C' configurations) there can be no ambivalence when it comes to my pet peeve: fake bags. On June 8th, the company filed suit naming Klass Fashion ASIM Enterprises as defendants in the Southern District of Texas. The cause of action was the ever popular trademark infringement claim.

I remember when my parents first realized I had outgrown my gap messenger bag days and was ready for something a touch more sophisticated (this was circa 1993, when I was in the 6th grade. My poor parents). A trip to the Coach store ended with a glorious, camel colored, butter soft leather tote, with stamped Coach logo inconspicuously under the top handle. A decade and a half later, and such iconic staples have been replaced by fuchsia, eye catching nylons with flagrant brand identifiers accosting the senses like designer impostor perfume. I'm sure from a business perspective, this was a calculated endeavour to place the brand among the rank and file with premium, luxury houses (had they hired my new company to consult for them, I certainly would not have disagreed with this move. I would, however, have advised against such blatant unoriginality in strategy to compete with the big wigs of bags).

Love them or loathe them, infringement is never the path to dominion. I just miss the days of originality (as in the definition of copyrightable material).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Day in the Life

The day began with a few clouds, punctuated with occasional stabs of sunlight. Since it was nearing the end of Shoe Show week, and the office would be nearly empty, I opted for causal olive chinos, flat sandals (from a brand other than the one which employs me), and a white cotton tank topped with a navy linen blend open front cardigan. (Sneakers don't exist in my wardrobe, except for the gym.) The train ran on time, my ticket was never collected, and the fruit stand had a fresh delivery of Red Delicious apples. A fine start to the day.

As the clock struck 1pm, the fashion gods began to pelt me with stones. Though I had run a PTO search before we assigned a certain pseudo-controversial name to a certain shoe weeks ago and come up empty, I had advised against such a move to be safe. Since no one really acknowledges my presence most days, my legal advice went unheeded, and a unfriendly letter from an unhappy lawyer arrived in the mail. Lovely. Next, the showroom visit previously scheduled for Friday at 8am was suddenly moved up to this afternoon at 3pm (yes, picture the scene in Devil Wears Prada where the fall preview is rescheduled with 15 minutes notice, and then Andy dribbles corn chowder onto her blue, lumpy sweater). With 2 hours to finish a days worth of work, an outfit not suited for the buying big wigs of the top department stores, and footwear that would get me fired, I had a lot to accomplish.

The sample closet contained only size 6's and, try as I might, my size 7 foot just wouldn't conform to fit (regardless of how hard I crammed it in). Off to the subway I ran. Unfortunately, the express trains were running local. The store nearest the showroom where I could swap my favorite flats for some company branded wedges didn't have anything in my size that I would remotely consider placing on my foot. My preppy chinos had sagged and wrinkled from the long subway ride and the heat I was producing at rapid rates with the impending deadline approaching. The further away store had something that would work, so out I ran with the new shoes on my feet and the salesperson yelling after me that leaving behind the box made the shoes a final sale (standard in the industry in case you should find yourself in a similar predicament). I skidded into the west side showroom with seconds to spare, proud of myself for arriving (in brand) on time. Too bad the presentations had actually started early (probably for the first time on record). Perhaps I'd be better suited for another career. Maybe something in botany or still life painting.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer in Spring

I'm not sure what exactly happened to spring, those 6-8 weeks between frozen feet and icy sidewalks, and sweltering, city sun pressing down on bare skin like an omelet pan. But it seems summer is upon us in full force, despite what the calendar says. So what does one who must commute to work in the oppressive city heat wear? (Despite the lax dress code in my office, I won't be seen in public wearing dresses that resemble nightgowns or shorts that hardly qualify as underwear. And besides, just because you can wear something, doesn't mean you should.)

The dress, in its many forms, is the single best wardrobe option for sultry, sun-drenched days. Can you tolerate the mere thought of anything structured, with seams and waistbands strangling your skin? No matter your shape or size, there is an office (and fashion) friendly dress out there for you. (Though skimpy straps and plunging necklines seem like ideal options for staying cool, the more skin you have exposed to the sun, the warmer you actually will feel. And not everyone needs to see that much of you anyway.) My favorite destination for vintage charm suitable for any age, Anthropologie, has some irresistible frocks for surviving the summer. When it comes to fabric choice, steer clear of words you can't pronounce (they don't breathe, and will only add to that stench you know and loath on the 4 train). Instead, stick to cotton. Classic black and white, in the tradition of Chanel, is still relevant for the hot months of summer, and Trina Turk does pattern worthy of boarding a plane to St. Barths. Sweet, light and still covered, this punchy smocked dress is a must have, priced at just $98 (machine washable is a nice bonus). Or if you prefer a touch more structure, this shirtdress can go to work, or do weekend duty. A few seasons ago I bought a dress just like this jersey number from the Gap (for $39) and still end up wearing it often, with a navy blazer and heels for work, or flip flops for play. The maxi dress is still a popular choice for a lot of people (who doesn't love anything by DFV?), and even those south of 5'4 can wear one (though a trip to the tailor probably needs to be factored into the cost). I'm not so sure about the long, flowy option in the office, but it has become a summer staple that's weathered fashion's fickle fancy.

Stay cool (and covered) in the heat ahead.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shoe Full

As the first full week of June approaches, the shoe gods are aligning themselves for June 2010 FFANY shoe show all over New York City. This entails many hours spent on foot, merchandising shelves upon shelves of shoes, only to have the boss catch one glimpse of it over Blackberry, and order the whole store to be flipped upside down.

Though some people find the exposure effect to have the opposite result, I find that spending upwards of 12 hours a day knee deep in knee high boots and sandals creates a desire to own even more pairs of shoes. (The memory of moving 2 weeks ago, and individually bubble wrapping an inordinate number of shoe boxes should quell this urge, but women's minds are not always machines of logic.) Perhaps its a coping mechanism, along the lines of cognitive dissonance, to crave the goods you dedicate most of your waking hours immersed in.

But regardless of the explanation, the economic predicament that some feel has subsided has not extinguished people's dedication to buying footwear (Monday reports don't lie). Though I sometimes check my math 2 and 3 times over, numbers (unlike people) are easy to read with the right calculations. (News of impending lay offs after more budget cuts in District Attorney Offices City wide make people's spending habits seem even more confounding, but again, logical is not the name of the game.)

Enjoy the best looking shoe shelves you'll see all summer, but buy wisely. You too may have to fit them all in a moving box one day if you decide to cross the river to save some dough.