Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Heart Don't Lie (Jacksons Week)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rei Kawakubo Knows What's Up

I own a flat, black leather Comme des Garçons (no, not from the H & M line; we've been over this) tote bag. It's by far the simplest accessory I own. There are no pockets, buttons, zippers, bells, or whistles; just two panels of leather and two handles. Most interestingly is how the bag was designed to carry only the essentials. While the bag is deep, if I carry a bottle of water, the shape is grossly distorted, compromising the aesthetic integrity of the bag.

I think our girl Rei Kawakubo knew exactly what was up when she conceived this bag. The only way this tote can retain its shape is if I kept my impedimenta to a minimum. Interesting word, impedimenta. It's the Latin plural for impedimentum, which means "baggage or other things that retard one's progress." Basically JUNK.

As our bags continue to grow bigger—in essence the SUVs of leather goods—we manage to stuff them with impedimenta: fat wallets, two-way pagers, mobiles, bottles of San Pelligrino, iPods, brown bag lunch (we're in a recession, remember?), check books, makeup case, scarf to accommodate the indecisive weather, last month's Bazaar, this month's Paris Vogue, feminine hygiene products, Moleskine notebook, moisturizer, Altoids, lip balm, sunglasses, sunglasses case we never put the sunglasses in, French pocket dictionary even though the trip to Paris was over two years ago, phone charger, those MC Hammer pants that refuse to float away so we plan on consigning them, flats to change into when the heels get to be too much, impedimenta that's been under our work desks for month, ticket stubs, loose receipts, camera and camera case we never put the camera in, Hi-Liter markers, Sharpie markers, mechanical pencil, book we should be reading but haven't gotten to because of the Bazaar and Vogue, yesterday's lunch from Los Dados, a smaller bag for later in the evening because this tote bag is too big, big tub of cocoa butter...

And we wonder why one shoulder is lower than the other.

The New Crackhead: Crack Really Is Whack

Remember my little visit to the Armory Show with the loutish and oafish gallerists from around the world? Well, I'm afraid I neglected to include a new trend I began to notice there. It may not even be a new trend per se, but it wasn't until then that I really got a good look at it. The context was different than walking down a random street. I expected people to be dressed comfortably for all of the walking around, but with some degree of refinement. We're looking at art, right?

Apparently, I'm an old fart who takes sartorial practices and manners a little too seriously. Speaking of flatulence, this "new" trend has to do with the posterior. It has come to my attention that it's now acceptable to show one's crack when seated. No longer the domain of the bent-over/squatting plumber, the exposed crack is essentially southern cleavage.

The Armory Show's seated visitors aren't the only ones with vertical lines on full display. Restaurants, stadium bleachers, and park benches all play host to the new crackhead.

People, people, people (shaking head). Come on. This lowrise business has not only created muffin tops but butt cracks free in the breeze. I know those of you who indulge in this vulgar practice can feel the air. It's not from ignorance. You feel it! For one, the daily high temperatures are still relatively low. Let's not even talk about how incredibly sloppy this look is. It's even crossed over to celebrities and lad mags. Cracks are not sexy! What happened to A-game and neatness counting? Pun coming up...we've got to draw the line somewhere.

Style Therapy Video of the Day (Chas Jankel Week): Get Myself Together

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Size Zeroes Can Be Muffins, Too

When I was in Miami this past December, the Admiral and I had brunch at an overpriced, palate-underwhelming restaurant along Collins Avenue in South Beach. Like many cities with true tropical climates, clothing is often brightly colored to reflect the natural hues in the environment, spare to accommodate the heat, and tight to show off a beach-ready body.

I grew up in South Florida, so I'm used to the stark sartorial differences between the Sunshine State and the Big Apple. But when I was a young lass, we didn't have muffin tops. Even though this trend (no doubt inspired by celebrity moms-to-be) has been relentless for the past five years or so , I've never grown accustomed to it. For the life of me I can't wrap my brain around it. Those Hollywood moms get away with exposing their bellies because there's a person living in them. Regular guts don't count. But for the record, I don't think an exposed gut on the street is cute whether you're preggers or not. Octomom anyone?

I just want to know why a young lady would leave her home with her gut spilling out? I don't have a six-pack like a That's the Way Love Goes Janet. And no one knows that because I keep my tummy under wraps. Even Janet lost her That's the Way Love Goes six-pack.

Muffin tops are usually seen on naturally thicker girls. Remember, Style Therapy is all about embracing the body you have now! None of this, "I need to lose 5 lbs. before I can bring my A-game." So I'm not knocking thicker girls. But the Collins Avenue muffin top I saw on that fateful day was no thick girl. If I had to guess her size, she's hovering somewhere in the 0 to 2 zone. I'd never seen anything like it before. Her waify body was carrying Homer Simpson's gut. In her lowrise jeans and too-short top, she was letting it all hang out. Now I'm not contradicting myself here. I said embrace your body as it is now, not walk around town looking like a hot mess. Neatness counts whether you're a 0 or 22; NEATNESS COUNTS!!

It's ok not to have washboard abs. It's not ok to look like you're being squeezed to death by your jeans. Ladies (and gentleman), let's all take a few extra seconds to examine ourselves in the mirror before we walk out the door. Check to make sure there are no hanging threads, stains, lint, loose buttons, or loose guts. Remember your A-game doesn't consist of exposed gut-flesh. And as for you six-packers out there. I know you've worked hard to get to this point and I applaud your efforts. But frankly, I don't want to see your guts either. Open-air stomachs are for the beach, the gym, and MAYBE the club on the RAREST of occasions, not for the streets. The only person this looks cute on is Dora; and she's subtle about it.

Style Therapy Video of the Day (Chas Jankel Week): Questionnaire

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mood Shifters

My beautiful people, there's nothing more un-stylish than a sour mood accompanied by a screwface. For you Secret believers out there, you know all it takes is a mood shifter to elevate our spirits. A mood shifter can be anything from a scent that takes us back to happier place, a food that heightens are tastebuds, or a detailed image that puts a smile on our face. For me, it's usually the thought of a late 1980s heavy metal band comprised of drunk basset hounds. But for others, it could be one of the Macho Man's appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. Below is a list of videos/songs that always work out any bad kink in my mood. If these don't work on you, you may need to see a professional.

1. I'm Ready-Kano: Keep an eye out for Diane and Lumberjack at 1:17.

2. Disco Bambina-Heather Parisi: The song is absurd and her Italian is questionable—and that's rich coming from me and my one pathetic semester of studying the language—but it's earned the right to be on this list.

3. Basset Hound Puppies: If this doesn't erase your screwface, there aren't enough meds in the world to cure you of your ills.

4. A Basset is an Asset: Yes, another basset hound video. How this hasn't penetrated the Billboard Hot 100 is a mystery to me. They ride motorbikes, too (2:17).

5. Rubberband-The Spinners: These guys knew how to perform. Now this is showbiz. Talk about A-game! A powder blue tux with ruffles never looked so good.

6. Jim Gillette's Scream: You don't have to be a metal head to appreciate this man's vocal range.

7. Macho Man on Arsenio Hal: Find out what the difference is between MachoMadness and Hulkamania. It'll change your life.

8. What's Up With You: Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy: I don't recall this video from its debut in the early 90s. A friend introduced it to me just last year. It's simultaneously disturbing and heart-warming.

9. Children's Palace Commercial: Peter Panda has the same effect on me as the What's Up With You video.

10. Shake It Up Tonight: Aside from the basset hounds, this puts me in the most stellar mood. Do you see young people? You do not need to grind on each other at the club in order to have a good time.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody

Is Label-less Worth Less?

I own the loveliest Martin Margiela grey sweatshirt. I love you sweet sweatshirt! I wear it quite often and in a world of different ways. It's no secret how much I adore the staff at the Maison on Greenwich Street and how I enjoy the deals at Century 21. But at the end of day, when all of the work is done and the kids are tucked away, it's just a simple grey sweatshirt.

For some time the label has been dangling by dint of a loose thread on the back of the pullover. I'm not a good sewer, not even in the rudimentary sense of the word. So when it falls, it's gone. But I often wonder, my beautiful people, is a Margiela (or any other designer piece) worth any less without the label to identify it. On a consignment or resale level, absolutely. The store buyer and the potential customers have no way of knowing if something is made by a specific designer without documentation—the label.

I don't foresee myself parting with this plain, little number any time soon. But even in the quiet of my own closet, do the labels matter. I'm afraid I have to answer in the affirmative. I pride myself on not being a label-whore in the most obvious sense. You know the type, LV, F, GG, and CC plastered all over bags, jackets, sneakers, visors, and umbrellas. But I'm no better than they are. I just keep my label obsession/complex under wraps. Literally. I do, however, have some vintage Gucci bags that I carry on occassion. (Check out works by artists Peter Gronquist and Tom Sachs for more on fetishization and consumerism.)

From birth we're all about validation. Whether we're getting high-fives from dad for receiving high marks on our report card or hearing mom brag about how pretty we are to her friends, we're reminded that our self-worth is quantifiable. Some folks manifest it differently. A Maseratti does the trick for the recently signed rapper, while getting that corner office is just what the father-of-three in the suburbs needs to feel special.

I'm certainly not saying that if I were stripped of all my sartorial goodies I would instantly perish. I've got some clothing hanging in my closet that's on the bottom rung in terms of designer hierarchy. Mystique and Necessary Clothing in SoHo anyone? No doubt there's an issue of quality, but that label still has a powerful presence no matter how ill-fitting or well-made the garment is. And on some level, I have to dress a certain way to attract more clients for Style Therapy. But there's one thing we must remember. I don't mean to get all Joel Osteen, but God doesn't love us any less if we wear Mystique instead of Margiela or shop at Filene's instead of Fendi. And the Style Therapist doesn't love any less either. ((Hugs))

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Chega Mais

When You Take A Picture of Yourself...

My beautiful people, when you take a picture of yourself, please remember to crop your arm out of the picture. We've all taken personal snapshots for either a laugh or do to sheer boredom. But I would argue that at times, self-picture-taking is akin to talking to yourself; but that's not what this post's about. We're talking about self-branding.

I can't tell you how many Facebook profiles contain a large batch of people either snapping themselves in the mirror (the lowest of the low) or stretching out their arms and quickly taking a shot. In both cases, the subject can come across as being vain. Whether you are or not is beside the point. Others have taken pictures, with camera in full-view, of an outfit or haircut they thought was cute. Ain't no shame in that game. If you think you're cute, document it. But you lose cool points for doing it yourself...or at least clearly showing to the world that you're doing it yourself.

We live in a time of digital cameras. We're able to easily set these on timers, run to our spot, and make it look like a friend or loved one was so enamored of us that they had to take a picture straight away. But when you've got the camera in plain view? (Shaking head)

Come on beautiful people. Let's get ourselves together and stop being so obvious about it. Until we do have that friend or loved one at hand to snap a picture, set that timer! And if you can't set the timer, crop your arm out of the picture!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The other day I made a trip over to Cognac to have brunch with a dear friend. Wanting to enjoy the unseasonably balmy weather, I waited outside and indulged in a bit of people-watching. Since the restaurant is as midtown as one could possibly get, there was an interesting mix of people. There were folks leaving the matinee showing of Shrek the Musical, looking up at the lights of Times Square with mouths agape, or heading up to Central Park in a hansom cab.

All of these people seemed like your everyday, run-of-the-mill, standard warm bodies roaming the streets at midday in midtown. But there was one who stuck out, I mean really stuck out. This young lady...and I use that term with a great deal of circumscription...in any case, this young lady was walking down the street in black leggings. No major calamity there. Who among us does not own a pair of black leggings? Let he who is without sin and black leggings cast the first stone. It wasn't that she showed up in black leggings, it's what the black leggings were showing. Her reproductive organs were there for the world to see. Everything! It's not as if these leggings were super tight, they were just thin and reflective.

Some of you are asking, "Style Therapist, why were you even looking?" Why was I looking? It's like asking someone not to look at Octomom's belly during her third trimester. The young woman's anatomy was THERE. She was just bopping down the street in her sunglasses and Urban Outfitters scarf, impervious to what was going on below her southern hemisphere. The fact that the fabric was shiny was not helping matters either.

My beautiful people, the moral of the story is to check and re-check your bits and pieces before you leave the house. Sure, some people enjoy exposing the imprint of their biology and others enjoy looking. These people are called perverts and you certainly don't want to be associated with them. Or do you?

I Confess

I talk a lot about cost per wear. Basically you take the cost of your Proenza Schouler blazer (retails for $1,285) and divide it by the amount of times you wear it. So if you wear it every other day of the year (let's not factor in the dry cleaning bill just yet), that's roughly $7 each time you throw it over your shoulders. On the other hand, if you wear your Forever 21 floral strapless dress (retails for $22.80) to the club just that one time, then the cost per wear is $22.80. So in the long run, the higher priced item is the better value in this case. But that's not how we operate, is it?

Three years ago I had just started working with Tim Gunn at Parsons School of Design. Each year there's a benefit runway show that highlights the best and brightest of the graduating class. A lot of important people attend this show in hopes of finding America's Next Top Designer. From Anna Wintour to Barneys Julie Gilhart, true architects of fashion careers are seated at every other table.

While the evening was all about the students, I was not going to attend it in the printed pajama pants my Mommy sends me every Christmas. I set out to buy the most exquisite shoes I'd seen in a long time: the Yves Saint Laurent Dada pumps. When I was ready to purchase the shoes, a tiny voice told me to call up one of the stockists that sell YSL and have them put on hold until after work. Barneys didn't have them. Neither did Saks or Bergdorf's. I called both YSL boutiques and was relieved to find out that the second one had the last pair of size 38.5 in North America (this includes Canada and Mexico). Oh yes, there was another problem. Since I'd left a potentially lucrative career in pharmaceutical advertising for fashion, I'd taken a steep pay cut. I had to borrow the money from my boyfriend and pay him back in two installments. (Look of shame and embarrassment.)

At the 57th street boutique, the shoes felt like cinder blocks on a steep incline. I could barely walk in them and I certainly couldn't flex my feet; but I had to have them. The evening of the benefit show, I wore my beat-up flats to the venue and changed into the Dada pumps while sequestered upstairs. My boy Bill Clinton didn't notice them, but Anna Wintour certainly did. I saw her checking them out from a mile away and I felt marvelous! I felt even better after the event was over and I limped over several avenues to the subway, comfortably back in my beat-up flats.

You know how Oprah says that love shouldn't hurt? Well, neither should fashion. I only wear the Dadas once a year to keep the cost per wear ratio balanced and to prevent coming off as a hypocrite. I encourage all of my clients to donate or sell any items they haven't worn in over a year. Not only do I think the pumps make for great fashion, but I also regard them as a work of art; or at the very least, an important part of an important collection for YSL Creative Director Stefano Pilati. Excuses excuses. I'm a self-enabler. Sorry Dr. Phil.

eBay always has an abundance of Dada pumps, varying in color and style. Clearly there's a population of women (and men) out there who can't be bothered to walk around in these cinder blocks on nails. I'm not ready to give up mine just yet. I'm going to work with my cobbler to see what we can do to make them more comfortable. If that doesn't work, there's a spot saved for them on the mantle.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Come Candela

Monday, March 16, 2009

The GAULlery

Last Sunday I attended the final day of the Armory Show at Piers 92 and 94 on the west side of town. A week earlier, I'd gone to the Works on Paper show at the Park Avenue Armory. Both events showcased modern and contemporary artists (established and rising...as well as a few old masters) represented by international galleries. Both events also showcased the rudest mongrels who were more concerned with eating their limp sandwiches and chatting with fellow gallerists than saying a quick "hello" to anyone who entered their lame cubicles.

You don't have to attend art fairs to be on the receiving end of this colossal level of incivility. There are enough shops around town with bad-mannered staff to fill a horn of plenty. Sometimes it seems the higher the quality and/or price tag, the clearer the view up the nostrils. But this isn't the case with everyone. I want to take this opportunity to offer some shoutouts and biggups to the ones who don't assume the naughty haughty attitude some feel they have to project when working within rarefied realms...there's a Duane Reade bonus shoutout, too!

1. The Armory Show: Garth and Sunny of Gary Snyder Project Space were the only ones out of all of those white cubes in both piers to say what's up. In this economy? In this bloody art market?! One?

2. Works on Paper: Hal Katzen of Hal Katzen Gallery. He not only said hello, but he spoke at length about the artists he represented and offered to negotiate the prices.

3. Jeffrey: Some times the staff can be a little hungry for their commission, but they're never to the point of breathing down your neck or following you around the store like a lost puppy. They seem genuinely warm. Perhaps some southern hospitality brought up north by Atlanta native Jeffrey Kalinsky? An early occupant of really far-West 14th Street (at no. 449), Jeffrey made it chic to go west. Before them, anyone headed in that area was most likely paying a visit to the Liberty Inn hourly motel.

4. Maison Martin Margiela: Located on the southern end of the Meatpacking at
803 Greenwich Street, I've never purchased a piece there. I get all of my Margiela at Century 21 for now. Shhh! This has never deterred this dedicated staff from helping me and thoroughly discussing the history of the Margiela's design philosophy and each season's collection. By far, the sincerest sales associates in all of New York City!

5. Zero Maria Cornejo: Located down the block from MMM at
807 Greenwich Street, unlike the Margiela outpost, I have dropped a few dollars here. Again, a knowledgeable, unaggressive staff more interested in ensuring a pleasurable shopping experience, as opposed to making sales.

6. Shelley Steffee: Around the corner at
34 Gansevoort Street is this marvelous boutique with truly beautiful pieces that are sculptural and cerebral without making you look like a damn fool. The space is gorgeous and the small staff is always willing to help without being pushy or impatient.

7. Theory: A couple of doors away at
38 Gansevoort Street is my old stomping ground. It's not because I used to work in the corporate headquarters upstairs; the sales staff in the flagship don't know who EVERYBODY is. Like the aforementioned shops above, the Theory crew was always warm, knowledgeable about the merchandise, and interested in creating a relationship with clients.

Comme des Garçons: Situated in the middle of the Chelsea gallery ghetto at 520 W. 22nd Street is this architectural masterpiece and discriminating shopper's emporium. Good luck getting that rather heavy-a** door open; but once you do, you'll be welcomed in. Like Martin Margiela, Kawakubo is a designer's designer. This mindset undoubtedly trickles down to the sales floor. When the clothes speak for themselves, there's really no need to put on airs. N'est pas?

9. Balenciaga:
At 542 W. 22nd St, just down the block from Comme des Garçons, is this cavernous cache of high end goodies with a lovely sales staff.

10. Yohji Yamamoto: This brick and glass building at 1 Gansevoort Street, shaped like a slice of cheese, is anything but. Not only does it house some pretty pricey socks, but my boy Mauricio holds the fort down with his hooked mustached and shiny, bald head. The best thing about this Venezuelan transport isn't the fact that his business card says "entertainer" as his occupation, but that he wants to buy a goat. That being said, someone with such a colorful presence could never harbor the boorish and graceless demeanor of the gallerists at the shows and sales staff at some other designer boutiques.

**Duane Reade and Walgreens**: While not perched on the highest rung of the retail ladder, I have to give a special shoutout to the Duane Reade located on the corner of Third Avenue and 10th Street and the Walgreens at 20 Astor Place. The other day, at the Duane Reade, one of the associates at the register patiently listened to an older woman complain to him about how some young chick had referred to her Labrador Retriever as a beast. "No one calls my dog a beast!" She assured the young man as he nodded in agreement. The line was building up a little, but he never rushed her and she talked about how great her dog was. This may have not been the most efficient thing to do, but she was clearly a frequent customer and he gave her the respect he thought she deserved. Hats off to you, young man with the cornrows and winning smile!

The folks further down at the Walgreens are by far the most professional sales associates out of all the pharmacies in town. The other day I needed to purchase some products that every woman has to purchase throughout the year. When I reached over the young man restocking these items, I made a silly joke and we both had a bit of a laugh. At some other store, my business may have been put over the PA system. You know how they do.

In conclusion, I'd like to stress that an affected superior air will win you no friends, and certainly no sales. When my pockets start bursting at the seams with dollars, I'll remember kindness and return the favor.

Style Therapy Video of the Day: Who's Johnny

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Style Therapy Video of the Day: I'm Ready (As Seen on Detroit's The Scene)

Deal or No Deal

In the midst of the R word (if you have to ask, you're doing okay), retailers has been bending over backwards to accommodate thinner wallets. Saks Fifth Avenue knocked 75% off of their high end items. But come bill time at the end of the month, indulging in these deals can get us into trouble.

A lot of folks will look at a pair of $895 Loubies at Bergdorf's and keep on walking. For some it's a month's rent; for others, a student loan payment. Even for the people who call that sum mere pocket change, it's difficult for them to justify spending that type of loot during this period of economic uncertainty. Put the same pair of pumps on the cluttered shelves of a Loehmann's or Century 21 and drop that price to around $200, and things change significantly.

$200 is an entirely different ballgame. It's still a lot of money to a lot of people (cable bill, a couple of phone bills, the proverbial student loan payment), but it's a number that's easier to digest than $895...which is almost $1,000 once you throw in taxes. The rationalization starts even before we see if the shoe fits. A whole week without happy hour and abstaining from take-out should cover the bill, right? Of course, that's never the case and we simply incur more debt. We go out to happy hour showing off our deal and receive the delivery man at our door in the new Loubies. We barely make the minimum payment on the credit card we charged the shoes on. As we pore over the unopened bills, we think only God (or a big-hearted sugar daddy) can deliver us from this mess. I can't stress how many CLOSET DETOXES I've performed that have involved deals; this includes clients' wardrobes as well as my own.

For the time being, we'd better start listening to Suze and start paying down the principle on our cards. Most of us have the essentials in our closet already—or at least a working wardrobe. And for those of you who don't, you know it's time for a CAPSULE COLLECTION! Hey, I have to plug. I'm trying to pay down my debt, too!