Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Elf Cap? Ski Hat? Heck, No. It's an Urban Turban!

Winter weather in the northeast -- and most of the country -- has been brutal, with high winds, low temperatures, snow, sleet and freezing rain. When just staying warm is the priority, many throw style to the winds and just go for snug and cozy. With luck, they look sweet and cuddly like one of the seven dwarves above. (Photo from

Others go for the goofy ski hats, like this red number from GetaKlu's website.

Or this long tail ski hat from etsy.

Or this one.

OK. We just had to throw this one in for the shock and awe factor.

We choose a different route, a road less traveled. (What a surprise, right?) Both of us purchased fleece hats from Ignatius last November at the Philadelphia Museum Craft Show.  Each has a very long tail attached to the top of the hat. The inner cap is also fleece, so it gives an extra layer of insulation.

Although we noticed some wearers wrapped the long tail around their necks, we chose to wrap it around the top of the hat instead.  It adds height and creates a multi-level effect. Net result:  an urban turban that not only keeps us snug and warm, but also makes us feel chic.

In a real turnabout, it was Jean who selected the multi-color striped hat, after Valerie chose the black and white one.  Who says you can't survive the relentless cold and precipitation with style? Aha!  Just imagine what we'd come up with to wear while climbing the Himalayas!  Hope this gives you some ideas to cheer up your wardrobe to get through these last and hopefully few days of winter.

For those of you still rockin' your inner Disney fantasy, have you ever wondered WHICH one of the seven dwarves YOU are? Of course, there is a website that can answer that question for you. Intrigued? Take a chance and find out: Image from  Later, kiddies!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Playing Dress Up: The Senior Version

When parents are faced with snowy days, they invite a neighbor's kid over so the kids can entertain each other, and the parents can get on with the serious business of balancing the check book.  Or watching the game.  The kids go up in the attic and put on the clothes in grandma's trunk.

Faced with yet another snowy day, we too played our own version of dress-up.  Jean came over to Valerie's house with a load of glasses an optician would envy, and we had fun trying on a wide variety of frames.

Having worn glasses on a daily basis for the past 40 years, and being a hoarder by nature, Jean naturally has a large collection of frames (with and without prescription lenses).

From two boxes with about three dozen frames, we each selected six.  The frames pictured above, dating from mid-1970s to about 2008, provided a great starting point for our snowy day adventure. Valerie's half-dozen run down the right side of the photo and Jean's run down the left.

Let the games begin!

These 1986 "Gigantor" frames from l.a. Eyeworks are among her all-time favorites. The matte black frames impart a Groucho Marx vibe to the look. Apparently, they're so popular with the public, the company still carries a version in its current line. Jean paired them with a black satin Chromat neck cage, Amy Downs felted wool turban, Top Shop zip-front peplum jacket, vintage horn and bone earrings, vintage gold and bakelite rings and plastic cage bracelet.

Also dating from 1986 are these Colors in Optics "Sanford Hutton" frames, which she wore to her wedding reception that same year. Today, she's paired them with a surprisingly (for Jean) colorful Ignatius fleece hat and a red plastic necklace made of tiny Barbie Doll high heels from the Brooklyn Museum Store in honor of the "Killer Heels" show.  The black round neck crinkly fabric Brigitte jacket provides a great backdrop to vintage and current bakelite and plastic bracelets. (Can't seem to see the square red bakelite earrings in this shot.)

A girl just never knows when she might have to ride a camel in the Sahara or drive a sled dog team in the Iditarod race through frozen Alaskan tundra!  It always pays to have a pair of expedition wear glasses with leather on the nose to protect against freezing weather and at the temples to keep out sand and snow. Jean actually wore these in the late 1970s to clubs and to sunbathe on the landfill on the Hudson River that became the base of the World Trade Center and World Financial Center. This time, she's paired them with a super long-necked poly fleece neck gaiter with a drawstring hood to protect from the elements.  As always, she's wearing vintage gold and bakelite rings.

These square framed, clear lensed glasses made in England by Booth & Bruce are among the newest in the lot, dating from approximately 2006. Unfortunately, the then-popular East Village optical shop on Avenue A and East 3rd Street has since closed.  Jean added a colorful mohair plaid Amy Downs turban, blue satin Chromat neck cage and blue earrings by Keith Lewis Studio in the Hudson River Valley.  The feather weight earrings are made of recycled water bottles, carved and colored with metallic acrylics.

Gold knotted matte metal frame sunglasses made in Korea are from the mid-1990s. We both thought the vintage red honeycomb weave Issey Miyake parka made Jean look like an alien astronaut.  She added a red silk fan and lots of red plastic and bakelite bangles and rings to cheer things up on the Japanese space station!

These modified cat-eye faux tortoise shell sunglasses from the 1990s by Anne Klein for Riviera work well with a spotted and knotted Amy Downs turban, black knotted rubber earrings by Kirsten Hawthorne, bakelite and gold rings, and a vintage navy blue leather boy's pea coat.

Valerie discovered that playing dress-up with someone else's eyewear is challenging!  After all, the colors and shapes are suited to someone else.  Valerie frequently window shops for glasses, but is still unaccustomed to the amazing world of frames.  Dresses can be bought for a song; glasses cannot.  Dresses can be (should be!) changed every day; glasses cannot.  Buying a pair of glasses is like getting married: it is an institution, not lightly entered into.  The last time Valerie got a price quote, her intern had to whip out the smelling salts.  Valerie has still not recovered, and has yet to figure out how to 'dress' her face.  But she chose the frames she liked the best for today's fun, and came up with these choices.

These pearlized Rochas late 1990s frames don't exactly have polka dots, but they put Valerie in mind of polka dots - thus the hat (Lilly Dache) and the earrings (Jean's mom).  The shirt is from Zara, the jacket is an unlabeled Mugler knock-off.

These huge Liz CLaiborne 1980s frames are hilarious.  They're a bit geeky and masculine, so Valerie had fun trying to add a feminine touch to the outfit. That's a Schiaparelli hat, Ungaro jacket (both from vintage stores), costume red and black earrings, and felted fingerless gloves by Tiiti Tolonen.

Valerie thought this huuuuuge swath of black across her face (Courreges Paris frames from about 2004) called for a bit of amusement, in the form of color, to set it off.  The big felted vintage flower corsage with contrasting stitching was found in a thrift shop, and easily attached to a turban-like black felt hat of the same period.  The gloves and earrings (more or less the same period) are unlabeled, as is the hat.  The ruched silk coat is by Elizabeth Arden.

Valerie liked the two-toned black and white Alain Mikli 1990s glasses in Jean's collection, and pulled out several two-toned pieces to set the glasses off with.   Below is another Schiaparelli hat, with costume plastic earrings, a Ralph Lauren chalk stripe jacket, and vintage black gloves with white insets.

There is no brown in Valerie's wardrobe - none - so when she chose the leopard spot Diva glasses, she thought the best thing to do was go back into her wardrobe for more yellow.  Only the man's double faced cotton weave shirt is labeled - Longue Distance ("made in France"). Jean found the wonderful earrings, whose black dots rise off the surface like tiny pearls.  Except for the shirt, everything is, alas, anonymous.  All of it is second hand, and the hat and gloves are older than Valerie, which is saying something these days.

Although not going out anywhere near the snow (remember, this is the lady who broke her ankle just stepping out into the street on a beautiful summer day), Valerie thought she'd nod to the weather with this last pair of glasses.  You can't see it here, but these Francois Pinton frames have a tiny row of rhinestones at the outer edges and have interesting white feather-spotted temples. Taking her cue from that, Valerie added the fluffy St. Laurent hat, fuzzy gloves and bulky scarf and the black and white coat.  The wooden earrings are by Monies, and the black lacquered wood pin in the hat is by Rumiko Suzuki

Bet your grandmothers didn't have this much fun on a snowy day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Positively Dotty for Dots!

Well, as we have been mentioning recently, it is COLD.  We went out and did our duty for Fashion Week, but with the wind whipping around, temperatures down in the single digits, and patches of black ice on the streets, staying at home over the weekend began to look really appealing.  So we gave ourselves a homework assignment that we could do at our respective homes.  We're revisiting one of our favorite themes: polka dots.  Bound to cheer you up when the weather makes you SAD (that's seasonal affective disorder).  Or just COLD (chilly, ornery, listless, but diligent).

What better way to banish those cold winter blahs than a post on polka dots?! We're both positively dotty for polka dots and decided to cheer ourselves -- and hopefully you too! A number of people have asked if we coordinate our outfits, but in fact we seldom do, so it is sometimes a happy accident when we both show up wearing dots at the same time, as above, when we went to FIT's Designers and Books Fair a while ago.

In this shot, taken in Grand Central Terminal, Valerie had dots on her blouse and on the veil on her hat.  Jean's cream-colored tote bag featured large black dots.

Below, in a shoot we did for Artful Home, with Jean wearing the Tokyo Dot jacket and Valerie wearing Heydari's Sunset Dress, you'll note that Valerie worked in some polka dots on the color-coordinated ribbon she added to her hat.  Just remember, people, the devil is in the details!

It often seems to happen by accident that when one of us shows up in dots, the other wears stripes.  Here's another example of that.

When we do put our heads together to come up with coordinating outfits, as we did for the Yayoi Kusama opening reception at the Whitney Museum, we sometimes improvise. We had done a post about spray painting antique coolie-style hats bright red. Valerie came up with the bright idea of wearing the hats and using adhesive dots from the stationery store on them as an homage to Yayoi.  But why stop there?!  Valerie wore contrasting red socks with white polka dots under clear shoes, and Jean put additional adhesive dots on her shoes.

We were both firing on all twelve cylinders here, and both wearing adhesive polka dots: Valerie used small colored dots to transform plain black and white clip-ons, and Jean decorated her Dansko clogs so you can hardly tell where the pants leave off and the shoes begin.  (More good advice from the IFs: every woman needs a few adhesive dots in the desk drawer.  If you have crayons, you only ever need to buy white ones.)

Now, don't we all feel a little perkier after a dose of dots? Chin up, kiddies.  And keep reminding yourself: spring is just around the corner.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Georgine at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week A/W 2015

Last Tuesday morning, we both took time off work to go to Lincoln Center for the Georgine runway show. Since we are big fans of her gorgeous gowns and refined aesthetic, we were very excited to see her Autumn/Winter collection for 2015.

Given the weather, and given that we were dressed up like polar bears (no, not in white fur, you wags!), we decided to have a little fun with our fashion, wearing knit Diesel caps with faux fur embellishments. We gave you a little background on them in this post a few weeks ago.  Getting these hats in hand was no small feat. Valerie hounded a number of hapless but endlessly patient sales assistants about them on a number of occasions. Who, she thought (not incorrectly), could wear these hats to better effect than we?

Alas, they were not for sale, beg, plead, wheedle and cajole though she did.  In September, she was told they'd be available after Fashion Week.  After Fashion Week, she was told they'd be available after Thanksgiving, free with a purchase over $250.  By January, they had disappeared, and the new story was that there had not been enough to go around. But we have our ways! And so, at long last, our determination was rewarded. (Not telling how.   In every woman's life there needs to remain a bit of mystery.)  As in interesting aside, when we first saw them, they were ski masks, and by the time we scored them, the eye and mouth holes had been sewn up and the excess material rolled up as you see here.

But we digress!  Back to the reason we were out despite the dreadful weather.  The most memorable images from Georgine's runway show were the glamorous silhouettes: shiny, long, slim outfits with tall metallic platform sandals topped by curly brown pyramid-shaped wigs. It was magical. Jean had that exact hair do in 1977-79, so to see 33 models with the exact same look was deliriously wonderful. (Wigs by Janet Connection and hair by the legendary Ric Pipino for Melville Pipino Salon.)  All the wigs were custom styled. Valerie wants this wig. What would it look like in gray?!

Juana wore a green lame top with green cigarette pants, gold patterned platforms and a red fox handbag by Max Steiner for Georgine, reminiscent of Jean's red faux Ivan Grundahl muff.  (Remember it in our Chromat posting?)

Valentyna rocked a mustard t-shirt and green lame pants with lots of movement. Jewelry is by Kenneth Jay Lane.

Georgine does gorgeous day wear. Case in point: In Moscat sunglasses with her gold foil shearling bomber over a swiss embroidered turtleneck and orange wrap skirt, Carola owned the runway.

Mari walked the runway in a blue jacquard coat over a luci embroidered sweater with a deconstructed mustard wrap skirt.

We confess, we love Georgine's evening wear. Daniela wore a gold silk dress that looked just as great coming ...

... as it did going!  The mustard pocket added a touch of matte color. (Apologies for the blurry first photo, but it does impart the sense of motion inherent in the collection.)

Here's a video of the final line-up.  Click on the link to see the full sized version, or see this in the mini-version that fits on our Blogspot screen:

Production, press and casting were handled seamlessly by MAO Public Relations.  We ran into Mauricio Padhila (in his fab frames) and Brynne Formato out front, managing the mayhem the way Leonard Bernstein conducted an orchestra, and meeting and greeting, while Roger stayed backstage, making sure the trains ran on time and the models hit the runway on cue.

Roger Padhila (left) and Evan Lenhoff, relaxing backstage at the conclusion of the show.

And here was Georgine herself, being interviewed after the show.

As we have so often noted, not all of the show is on the runway.  The Georgine show was no exception.  Luann de Lessaps (aka "Countess Luann"), being interviewed before the show, was among a lineup of Real Housewives inhabiting the first row at the show.

Valerie photographed this woman because she loved her outfit. Foolishly, she asked if if was vintage, and the woman responded it was Georgine.  This photo doesn't show the colors nearly well enough.  It was gorgeous.  Later, Jean told Valerie (and perhaps some of our readers could have told her as well) that this woman is none other than Kristen Taekman, one of The Real Housewives of New York City.  (Valerie would like to point out that in March she will celebrate her third anniversary without a television set, and is not always up on current events.)

Photographer and Instagrammer Gazelle Paulo cut quite a dapper figure in his hat, glasses and coat, taking dressing for the weather to a whole new level.

These two fabulous women were tall to begin with, their high heeled shoes made them taller, and the blow-dry mohawk on the woman at the right was the proverbial whipped cream on top.

A gorgeous lady asked if she could photograph us with her gorgeous daughter.  (They were dressed nearly alike.  Soo cool!)

Outside on the Plaza after the show, we saw:

A woman showing off her backless blouse (and remember, this is at a time when a good portion of Niagara Falls is frozen, and we're wondering if there is a heating system beneath the Lincoln Center fountain),

a photographer who looked like he'd been on the runway in front of a hundred cameras just minutes before we took this shot,

a man dressed from head to toe in the same color (how did he do that, and how long did it take him?),

and Anderson Cooper. The hand in front of the face is no accident. He walked the length of the Plaza that way, looking neither right nor left. Oh well.

And just like Cinderella, when the clock struck midnight and her coach turned into a pumpkin and she beat a hasty retreat, we reverted to our work-a-day selves and went back to our respective offices -- wearing our Diesel hats, of course!