The extent of my sewing experience consists of half a school year in eighth grade home economics, and most recently in grad school (hand sewing for the conservation of historic textiles). As much as I was interested in sewing, I was too afraid of gender-based parental disapproval, even though I was well aware of the existence of tailors. My sister, however, was able to follow her interests. We were in the same junior high sewing class, but she went on to take sewing in high school. We both had to make the same things, but mine were always a mess. The final project was a sweatshirt with pockets. While I chose a masculine “sweat gray” jersey with white for the cuffs (a boy’s color, I thought in my head), she chose pink fabric with black for the cuffs and pockets. (She might look back and think that she was channeling Chanel, but I think a more realistic reference was someone like Lisa Lisa or the cast of The Facts of Life). But while her sweater was a proud example of her sewing progress, my sweater was a sartorial disaster.
One thing we both enjoyed doing was taking a trip to the local fabric store. George’s Textiles was in Downtown Lowell, and we often went with our mom for her sewing projects. There was something exciting about watching the clerk take a flat bolt of fabric and unfurl it on the cutting table. Then came crisp, finite sound of the fabric scissors (with the cast iron handles), cutting fabric. As much as I loved watching this, my favorite section of the store was the remnants. Maybe it was about finding something that was no longer being sold, and the anticipating of having something unique, but there I could find affordable pieces of fabric that my mother could use to make something small for me, like clothes for some of my toys (which were never intended to have fabric clothes). There was a time when I asked my mother to make something for me, but my lack of textile knowledge left the end product not exactly as how I imagined it. (Think of a hoodie with woven cotton instead of a jersey, with a pool ball motif a la Kid n’ Play).
Through school and my sister’s continued interest in sewing, I’ve recently rediscovered the joys of the fabric store. My understanding is that George’s Textiles is still there, but the focus of their business is exclusively on re-upholstery fabric. I live near an independent fabric store, but the standard for fabric shopping is Jo-Ann’s, where one of the locations is near my sister’s home. So we decided to go together, unbeknownst to us, for the first time in possibly over 20 years.
- St. John short-sleeve sweater
- Ivan Grundahl nylon cargo skirt
- YSL platform heel loafers
- Fendi monogram baguette
Wonderful bday gift from @pamweeksquilts to add to my #fashionlibrary Thank you Pam!! #fashion #mensfashion #fashionbook #meninskirts #guesswhatillbewearing #amenfashion #fashionordie #braveheart #abramsbooks #victoriaalbertmuseum
Carla Fernandez @ ISGM
I had almost forgotten about this fashion exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is a shame, because not many fashion exhibitions come to Boston. But my friend and fellow classmate J reminded me, so we made a thing out of it. The Gardner is not typically known for having fashion exhibitions, but the Gardner is not your typical museum. I love to visit the Gardner and contemplate Sargent’s El Jaleo (my favorite Sargent painting), but now I had a fashion reason to go.
In my street style sessions with my sister, I’ve been trying to incorporate a more global/ethnic chic sensibility. But it’s not her personal style, so its a challenge. I hope she reconsiders after she sees this blog post.
I’m afraid to admit I hadn’t heard of Carla Fernandez before this exhibition. But I immediately connected with what she she is doing. She immediately became another person on my “This is What I Would Be Doing if I were a Designer/Artist” list. I immediately responded to her colors, textures, styling. Her artisanal approach to fashion and clothing reminded me very much of Zandra Rhodes. At the exhibition I learned that she had a previous Boston/Cambridge connection, lecturing at Harvard & MIT a few years ago. To which J and I responded “how come we weren’t aware of that?” Well, now I’m aware. Very aware. And in the tradition of my compulsive behavior, I want to learn everything about her work. And this is the jump-off.
This small, yet bold exhibition had it all: Fashion, art, a timeline, thoughtful and interesting exhibition design, and videos of the creating process. But best of all, it had a reference table to look at books and try on some of her pieces. Always one to be a participant, I had J try on some of the amazingly crafted wooden bangles.
And of course, I had my OOTD (outfit of the day) moment when I was able to try on one of her simple yet brilliant gourd masks.
- Carla Fernandez gourd mask (borrowed)
- American Apparel T-shirt
- Marc Jacobs cuff bracelet
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I most interested in styling things in unique ways, which includes mixing and matching pieces from different time periods, styles, etc. But There was something about creating this head to toe Alice + Olivia look that made sense.
- Alice + Olivia tunic dress
- Alice + Olivia platform wedges
- Vintage 1980s Italian straw clutch
Doru Olowu’s curated space of his fashion and other art forms in Salon 94 Bowery, 243 Bowery, NY
Coming soon! Blog post of #duroolowu at 243 Bowery #fashion #fashionhistoryisarthistory #fashionisart #lowerbeastside #africonic #globalfashion #worldfashion #salon94 #salon94gallery (at Salon 94 Bowery)
I got this #vintageaquascutum skirt for @mrsmiramenos originally as a two-piece dress but i couldnt bear to buy the top as much as i couldn’t bear to separate them. They’re called #separates for a reason. #sundaystroll #outfitoftheday #vintage 1980s #aquascutum skirt #charlesdavid heels #moschino bag #fashion #fashionordie #summerfashion #summerstyle #streetstyle #ootd #thrift #thrifted #thrifting #thriftshop #thriftstore #thriftscore #thriftlife #thriftstyle #thriftfashion
Communing With White Dresses
This is kind of a part two to the previous exhibition of wedding dresses at school. But this one is about white dresses outside of the wedding dress paradigm. Wearing white has strong associations with new beginnings, so the symbolism of this exhibition as it relates to my own new beginnings with this career change was not lost on me.
The highlights of this exhibition (for me) are the presentation dresses. In particular, the one below, to the left (attributed to Lanvin, 1923), was worn by the wife of a prominent Rhode Islander during their presentation ceremony to King George V of England.
Other examples of white dresses include the color white as the height of fashion, at the beginning of the nineteenth century (with the empire waist)….
…and at the end of the nineteenth century (tea dresses).
But females weren’t the only ones wearing white dresses. BOYS also wore white dresses!
Other non-wedding religious ceremony white dresses include Christening gowns for infants…
… and First Communion dresses.
White for school graduations.
White for work (early twentieth century white dress workwear)…
… and for play (1950s and 1960s party dresses).
I was hoping to lend my cousin’s Quinceanera dress for the exhibition, but when I asked her about it, she had given it away long ago. Instead, I happened upon this book at Building 19 in Burlington, bought it, and lent it for the exhibition. Consider this my first official loan of the fashion collection I am slowly building.
The exhibition evoked some memories of my own formal white dressing. My First Communion dress was a rented tuxedo. But my sister’s dress was sewn by my mother. The puffy sleeves and skirt pleating made it a complicated affair for my mother, the self-taught seamstress who only hemmed skirts and pants. But she figured out how to puff those sleeves and pleat that skirt all on her own (no Youtube videos back then!). She even created a veil consisting of gathered tulle, a lace trim edge, and a crown with little fabric roses that were ubiquitous in 1980s craft stores. In a sea of overly-styled First Communion dresses that rivaled Las Vegas wedding dresses of the mid 1980s, my sister’s dress was modest, age (and occasion) appropriate, but most importantly, one of a kind.L to R: Me, my sister, and my youngest brother. (FYI - this picture is not part of the exhibition.)
Entrenched in a Cape
I wasn’t sure if she would like this double-breasted trench/cape I recently thrifted, but I had to buy it. Mostly because I hadn’t seen this kind of design before, and the costume monger in me wants to put her in as many cape-like objects as possible.
But the clincher was when I saw Cyndi Lauper wearing a (higher end, no doubt) version of it at the 2014 Grammy Awards!
(photo from www.ilballodelcervello.com)
I’m not one of those “get the look for less” stylists, and since I thrifted the cape prior to the airing of the 2014 Grammys, I can say with confidence that this was NOT a bite. Besides, I already did my Cyndi Lauper Sinspiration Post [click here] where I style her inspired by one of my favorite singers of all time.
In theory, double-breasted/cape/trench/cargo pockets really sounds like a bad idea design-wise, but I think this is one of the few moments where it works.
- Bebe olive green cape trench (thrifted)
- Uni-Qlo black long-sleeve top
- H&M black wax-coated jeans
- Prada olive green nylon baguette
- Kenneth J. Lane wrapped core chain statement necklace (thrifted)
- Zara suede cream/maroon/black platform booties
- Vintage sterling silver bangles (thrifted) and sterling silver hoop earrings
FOR SALE - Be the first to make a statement for Spring in #BLACK: #ColeHaan black patent leather strappy #wedgesandals with #basketweave detail size 9 #nowavailable @staconsignment 219 Newbury Street! #fashion #shoegasm #shoeporn #fashionshoes #designershoes #springfashion #springblack #fashionstatement #forsale (at Second Time Around)
#forsale on @ebay - #newwithtags @betseyjohnson #betseyjohnson #sequin #wallet #tincanrose #fashion #nwt #ebayfashion #amenfashion #bestbjever #4sale #buyme #designerwallet (at ebay)
One of a series of sweater dresses she owns. You can’t see it here, but it has a deep V in the back, along with this great fishtail-like hem.
- Vintage 1980s floral knit sweater dress
- Rebecca Minkoff bag
- Obsession Rules black and goldtone platform heel booties
NOW AVAILABLE @staconsignment 219 Newbury Street, Boston - out of the box #springfashion looks, including #dvf #boldgraphic #jeweltone top, #escada #springtweed skirt and #frenchconnection #grayscalefloral dress. #fashion #fashionfinds #fashionforsale #consignment #lookforless #buyme #designerfashion #designerfashionforless #bargainhunt (at Second Time Around)
Oh yeah… I forgot about this one. #museumquality #vintage #zandrarhodes #blouse from a storage unit sale in #lasvegas we randomly stumbled upon, with others. More to follow. #fashionholygrail #fashion #vintagefashion #bestkeptsecret #designerfashion #findoftheyear #fashionisart #vintagevegas #fashionhistoryisarthistory #amenfashion (at random Las Vegas storage unit sale)
Saturday Stroll: Textured Maxi-Dress
This vintage maxi-dress was perfect for the “warmer but still winter” weather we had this past weekend.
- Vintage 1970s long sleeved knit maxi-dress
- Moschino monogrammed bag
- Calvin Klein cork and orange suede platform heels
- Vintage 1970s Lee Bernay necklace
- Sterling Silver hoops
- Clear acrylic bangles