Genius Steamer

If this hand-held steamer works half as well as Kim France says it does, well, I’m going to need to buy one stat and take it with me whenever I travel (maybe the mini with travel pouch). The burn mark on my leg from attempting to steam one wedding dress and two bridesmaids dresses in a hotel bathroom in Mexico a couple weeks ago might be a thing of the past!

(By the way, what 5-star resort does not have a steamer for its customers to borrow, especially when one of those customers is getting married at said resort? Please take notes all resorts and hotels that host weddings. You need a steamer.)

But back to this genius little steamer — this is a seriously nifty idea for anyone traveling to a fancy event, involved in event/wedding planning, or working with fashion on a shoot or runway show.

Friday File – Weird Week

This week turned out to be very weird to me, and everyone at work agrees. Tuesday, we had both a false emergency alarm go off across the entire campus and a snow storm that shut down the school. We are approaching mid semester, which is always a busy time, so the unexpected disruptions did nothing for productiveness.

But I’m hoping to shake it off with my best friends this weekend. They are coming to Chicago for a ladies’ weekend, and I can’t wait!

Here are the most interesting things I found online during this peculiar week:

These photos don’t picture cutting-edge historical fashion, but they show life inside a castings factory in Derby, England during the 1920s and 1930s. I think it’s just as valuable to learn about what the working class wore as the elite.

Ever wonder how museums mount garments so beautifully during exhibitions? The best shows require custom mannequins for each dress. Often this is achieved by building out the form on an existing mannequin. Here’s a peek of my friend Emma Denny at work behind the scenes at the Chicago History Museum.

Christina Brinkley of the Wall Street Journal cuts through the fat to break down the Fall 2013 fashion shows.

Is Vogue kidding with this article? “How to Not-Wear a Jacket” is practically Diana Vreeland-esque. But apparently Fashionista agrees that this is the cool way to dress for winter. Personally, I think this is just a way for fashion insiders to one up the masses who are edging into their territory. The wannabes don’t have the financial resources, but you can bet these women pictured are taking cabs so they don’t need coats anyway.

New Balance is exploring the use of 3-D printing to customize shoes for pro athletes. Sensors track each foot’s motion and how much pressure is created at different points in order to print a plate for the shoe’s sole. This is expected to enhance performance. Eventually New Balance anticipates this will end up at the consumer level.

Athletic shoes seem perfectly matched to 3-D printing, but can you imagine other possibilities in footwear? I’m thinking of a high-heel sole created specifically for your foot! 3-D printing could reduce painful pressure points and make heels safer and more comfortable to wear — customized to each person’s feet!

An Old Dress Made New

I stumbled upon this film on the BFI National Archive YouTube channel and found it really amusing. This silent short from 1926 teaches a woman how to create an evening dress out of a morning frock with a few homemade modifications.

This kind of economization was quite common until ready-to-wear clothing became so cheap and ubiquitous in the second half of the 20th century. Women frequently updated last season’s garments with new trims and simple alterations of the neckline, sleeves, or hem.

Do you restyle your garments like this? If not, maybe this video will inspire you to make a few adaptations yourself instead of buying something new. Think about it — do you have any pieces from last spring you can modify to fit this spring’s trends?

Rachel Rose on Of a Kind Collections

I’ve professed my love of the site Of a Kind before. And now they are moving into designer collections rather than just limited editions. Still focusing on independent and on-the-rise creators, Of a Kind Collections currently has women’s apparel and accessories by 12 different designers.

Last week I checked out Rachel Rose’s section to see what new pieces are available. I love my Rachel Rose tee that I bought as an Of a Kind edition, and I really like the new stuff that’s for sale.

Rachel Rose Gray Dot Tee, from Of a Kind

I was really interested in the way Of a Kind styled the new tees. Each has a basic shot of the tee on the model, but also includes a shot of the tee mixed into a stylish ensemble. I thought some of the outfits were cleverly done, and they gave me some new ideas about how to combine my silk tees with other pieces in my wardrobe.

What do you think of the styled ensembles?

Style File – New Rachel Rose Tee

I love my Rachel Rose silk tee. So when I saw she had posted a new one for sale in her Etsy shop, I perked up.

I have put myself on a clothes shopping freeze for the time being, so the most I can do is fantasize about how I’d style it. I figured a pair of cropped jeans, triangle necklace, envelope clutch, and flat sandals would make a lovely outfit for a summer weekend.

Ensemble pictured:
Rachel Rose citrus silk tee | from Etsy $146
True Religion cropped jeans | from Amazon $198
House of Harlow triangle necklace | from Revolve Clothing $75
salmon envelope clutch | from Asos $29.83
strappy sandals | from Zara $49.90

Style File – Prestyled Shopping

photo by Travis Haughton

I think I originally heard about Mikkat Market on Refinery29. It’s a trendy online boutique offering cheaply priced fashion. The clothing and accessories for purchase are based around the style of the store’s owner, Katherine Kim, who is also a blogger.

Other than the cheap prices, the clothes are cool. Katherine not only models the wares, but she shows how to style them with other items for sale. A lot of online retailers do this — it’s called cross-selling — but Katherine often shows multiple ways of styling a piece. She makes the whole process of buying complete looks incredibly easy, and of course those looks are LA hip.

I wondered what would it be like to buy an almost complete outfit styled by a blogger in her online store? I love her style, but I worried we have drastically different body types. Finally I decided to try it out.

I settled on this ensemble with the asymmetric stripe top pleated in the middle of the chest and upper back by Esley, the organza drawstring skirt with the sheer striped gold overlay by Esley, and the chain link choker necklace. I passed on the bracelet and cuff because I don’t have a lot of tolerance for jewelry around my wrist in my day-to-day life. As far as I know, the wristlet purse and shoes are not available through her shop.

screen shot of items in ensemble from Mikkat Market

The items were packaged neatly when they arrived. The necklace was in a simple drawstring bag. The skirt and top were individually packaged in clear plastic with a few sheets of tissue wrapped around them.

I have received countless compliments every time I’ve worn the shirt (three times now). Everyone seems to love the pleating. The skirt is pretty too. I dig that it looks like a solid color from far away, but when you get close you see skinny gold stripes. And the necklace is versatile.

photo by Travis Haughton

I’ve only worn the complete ensemble once. I’m pretty pleased that the items in this look fit into the rest of my wardrobe. It’s nice to have a whole outfit that’s been styled that I can go to in a snap. But at the same time, I’m glad these pieces are flexible with other things I own.

photo by Travis Haughton

specified photos by Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography

Stylizing Gatsby

The Great Gatsby movie trailer is out, and I’m suddenly confused. I thought we were getting a 1920s period film, but apparently not.

Instead it looks like one of those stylized, postmodern films. Which means it has potential to go either way. It’s from the same producers and director as Moulin Rouge! (I hated) and the Romeo + Juliet with Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (I loved). Something akin to Sin City, but not quite as aggressively styled as that film.

Interestingly, Baz Luhrmann, the director, directed the eight short films for the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibition at the Met.

To be clear, I can tell from the trailer that these costumes are not period accurate. They all look like contemporary fashion interpreting 1920s Halloween costumes. The hair and makeup look like they’re from the present day. The architecture and interior design look much too contemporary to even pretend to be from the 20s. The colors are a bit too bright and the sparkle is a bit too computer generated.

As for the acting, I’m a bit let down by this first look. I imagined Leo with prohibition-like swagger, but I don’t see that here. And Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan seemed like good casting to me, but she doesn’t seem to have to mastered Daisy’s charms. Hopefully it’s just that this trailer doesn’t capture the actors fully realizing their roles, instead of disappointing performances.

I think I could wrap my head around this version of The Great Gatsby if the film never came right out and said “this is the 1920s.” If they just pretend it’s a roaring ambiguous-moment-in-time-that-never-happened, it might work. But in the trailer’s opening seconds the voiceover tells us it’s 1922. Ugh.

So what do you think? Do you like postmodern film that mashes up time periods and styles for effect? Or do you think classics should stay true to their origin?

Under the Sea

Giorgio Armani Dress & Alexis Bittar necklace | Alexander McQueen dress, mask, and cape & Carolee Necklaces — photos by Richard Burbridge, styled by Robbie Spencer for The New York Times Style Magazine

Many designers used the sea as inspiration for their spring 2012 looks. And The New York Times Style Magazine took this idea literally when styling these gowns from Giorgio Armani and Alexander McQueen.

I really like these two concepts. They both have a little whimsy, are well executed, but could not be accused of being cute or boring. If only we could get this much imagination on a regular basis in fashion shoots.