Thursday, 25 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Why? Well frankly, having a high waistline is profoundly unflattering to the vast majority of body shapes in this country. For some reason fashion pundits are always referring to the 'slimming' effects of empire line tops and frocks. This may be the case if it is subtle. Otherwise the result is simply that you look pregnant, fat, ungainly and your bust starts to resemble something like the prow of a tug, or something you could organise objet d'art upon. They makes us look like pregnant heiffers. This is a fact that has been observed again and again in the press. Three years ago, in March 2007, the Telegraph's Sarah Mower pointed out that:
".... the British are in the grips of their own special fashion delusion: the smock. Sometimes it takes people from other cultures - such as men and foreign visitors - to point out that there's something absurd going on.
The first warning came from my husband, who jovially exclaimed in the pub: "Oh look, have you seen? That girl from EMI's pregnant."
"No," I hissed. "It's a smock. Fashion."
The second came from a Los Angeles Times journalist whom I sent to Topshop during London Fashion Week. The next time I sat next to her she said: "When did they turn it over to maternity wear?"
I hate the smock. Only babies should wear them; grown women, never. Last time they were in fashion - about 1970, I seem to remember - only teenagers (and pregnant women) wore them, and then with long skirts or flares. Teenagers in those days were flat-chested. Women now are not, and the ubiquitous wearing of under-wired double D-cup bras renders the 2007 smock look, well, pregnant, or at least sleazy in a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? sort of way.'?"Maternity evening wear?
I concurr. The ultra gathered smockiness has been superceded by the complete dominance of the high waistline. This cannot be blamed on haute couture or designers. Their collections have contained a plethora of shapes and cuts. Who, also can forget the influence of designers such as Westwood or Mouret who champion waists and hips? Notably the high end high street retailers who cater for an older clientele have dresses with waists, sadly their prices exceed my current spending power.
The blame for this continuing slavishness to the shape can probably be laid at the feet of the current crop of teenage style leaders, the least stylish since those who inhabited the mid 70's. When, come to think of it, this shape denying cut was last dominant. Perhaps the super skinny feel that being by wearing clothing that is unforgiving to all but the borderline anorexic they are showing off their slimness? The problem is they can still be skinny and pregnant. Men now resist asking apparently pregnant women if they would like a seat on the tube, as the bearded one has complained it is impossible to tell if someone is up the duff. The genuinely bun in ovened who often have to adopt tents are being deprived of comfort by their sisters' poor fashion choices!
Ooooh, fattening and greige!
Fashion magazines of the cheaper kind also don't help as their stock response to the size 14 -18 lady in their make-overs are routinely dumped into some form of tailored smock over skinny trousers. This is partially due to the percieved unfashionableness of the wrap dress. The wrap dress is of course genuinely skimming and flattering; why has this become de trop and the fabric equivalent of a balloon suit remained popular? Is it something to do with the times? surely recession tends to breed interesting fashion, think of the stylish recessions of the past. Maybe this white collar recession has not bred rebellion and edge but a big national whinge of 'why me?' Perhaps this urge to look like fat, childish creatures is a call for help. Who knows, all I know is that it is boring the hell out of me. I suspect it is one of the factors, along the popularity of a hundred shades of griege, that has driven me towards retro and vintage influenced styling.
The baby doll look had some element of novelty in the 60's on a Bardot, but now it simply looks a bit skanky. Somehow our so called 'it' girls don't look like fresh ingenues like Julie Christie but just inelegant. It is about time someone called time on the whole thing and that the high street realised it's important, mid-level, 30s-50's customers are not being served. It is about time we told them all to 'SMOCK OFF'.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Barbie are launching a collector's edition of it's dolls based on the superb US television series 'Mad Men'. There is a picture above. As ever the Male dolls don't quit cut the mustard. The Don Draper one looks more like a character from 'Twilight'. I am, however, fascinated by their effort to produce a middle-aged man doll . Personally I think it is probably well nigh impossible to capture the caddish silver fox that is Roger Sterling in all his droll dry glory. His doll looks most peculiar, like a cadaverous Steve Martin. Faces aside the suits don't work, perhaps because men's tailoring, especially of this era, requires movement. And these man dolls are unlikely to be arranged in louche lounging positions due to the limitations of Barbie limb articulation. More to the point, the required accoutrements: a cigarette or a tumbler of whisky are rendered impossible by the prudishness of the manufacturer's home nation.
The ladies are more appealing. Betty Draper, the most tedious female character on the show is virtually a Barbie anyway, albeit a frustrated and trapped suburban one. The frou frou fifties prom style dress and the Grace Kelly swirl of ice cream hair look completely appropriate. The character is a doll. The Joan Holloway doll is a little disappointing, it seems Barbie did not have the guts to represent the voluptous gorgeousness of the sharp sassy secretary. The hair and dress design are, however, charming. I'd have liked a Peggy, but expect a comparatively plain yet intelligent character might be a step too far... The dolls have a special ceramic style finish which is interesting and they do at least seem to have the right skin, not the colour of old prawns favoured by the modern Barbies. Despite the carping I do sort of covet the Joan doll, but only sort of. Actually I would rather have Pan Am Barbie, or raunchy rockabilly Barbie if I were not too old for dollies.
Hard Rock Barbie.
This post was not intended to be about disappointment but I feel let down that the Mad Men style seems to have had more effect on menswear. My friend Laurence was wearing a wonderful suit last weekend which echoed that rat pack styling. The beautiful curve hugging dresses, wonderful rich colours and elegant shoes worn by the female cast do not seem to have had much of an effect, but when they do it is ruined by odd tailoring. This dress (pictured below) from Phase Eight looked promising but was far too short and the waist was, quite unlike the photograph, high. I am hoping that fashion is being slow and that Autumn/Winter '10 on the High Street will see a feast of lovely clingy tailored frocks; but I am not holding my breath.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
3 Colourful shoes, life is too short for black and brown. Red, orange, yellow and green. Vintage shoes usually reflect the daintiness of our grannies feet and our modern shovels require reproduction foorwear. They may be flat, high or wedged but we all have at least one pair of shoes that make a statement, one that is not always appreciated by others. One peerlessly stylish vintage chum of mine was told that her green wedges made her 'look like Kermit the Frog' and my mater tells me my taste in shoes 'shortens my legs'. But frogs or short legs we loves our shoeses. Remix specialise in great vintage styled shoes: http://remixvintageshoes.com/handtd.html
4 Tattoos. Bit of a controversy this. The retro-bores insist it isn't authentic and that Laura from Brief Encounter would drop her handbag in horror at the idea. The fifties rock types have embraced Las Vegas like trad tatts with enthusiasm. Many fall somewhere inbetween. So many find themselves in the scene via punk, garage, goth routes that many arrive inked. Personally I think, unless an actor or a passionate re-enactor drawings on your skin are fine. I'm going to write on friend's tattoos and post their suggestions so watch this space.
Some of Sophie's cakes.
8 Bright red lipstick every vintage girl's gotta have it , especially Mac. Simply because Mac do good rich pigment matt sticks. I was planning to compose an 'every red lipstick in Selfridges' report but fear that I would rapidly end up looking like the scary clown in Stephen King's 'It'.
9 A 'signature' cocktail. I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with a glass of wine, a jug of trappist brewed pilsner (although there is plenty wrong with mass produced lager) or a tankard of real ale. Indeed a tumbler of whisky, a la Mad Men has it's own appeal. Cocktails however match all outfits and eras. Thirties elegance? sip a Brandy Alexander. Forties zing? a Martini or Margarita. Fifties pzazz? a jamaican punch topped with pineapple and a plastic monkey. Again a certain strand of vintage lady is too concerned about her image, or feels her own grandmother went no further than a small sherry and demurrs. How dull. I really don't like people who are tee-total, it's my personal prejudice. There are, of course, those poor souls with no choice due to allergies and intolerances. But being tee-total isn't like being vegetarian or vegan. Most seem to adopt it because they are scared of themselves, have no faith in others or are religiously extreme. A friend of mine said yesterday that fruit juice is for vodka. Cocktails are for fun. Make mine a white lady!
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Oscar wilde's words of wit dangling from your neck..