Archive | June, 2012

Purse, Purse…Where For Art Thou, Purse?

26 Jun

It has been my sole mission in life to find the “perfect purse”. I found it once. It was a small caramel colored shoulder bag made by Nine West, when Nine West used to make purses out of leather. It was awesome. It fit everything, but not too much, perfectly. My best friend bought the exact same one. Then it got a tear in the front pocket, a small one, but I obsessed about it. I went to buy a replacement one, but they were out of the amazing color. Figures. Lesson learned: When you find the perfect purse, buy every one they have.

 

I was 21 when I owned the perfect purse. I am now 31, and my hunt continues. I bought a vintage doctors bag last fall, mainly because I saw Blake Lively had one and I thought, well, THAT’S gonna catch on, so I hurried and got one for myself. It’s nearly perfect. I love EVERYTHING about it, except the way I have to carry it. It only has a handle, like a doctors bag would, and it won’t go on my wrist without hurting. Add that all to the fact that I’m a mom, and an avid shopper, and that leaves me with only one hand to shop. You can see my dilemma.

I’m quite fond of the “Kelly Bag” style, named after Grace Kelly herself, who made the bag so popular, but again, sans child. The only bag I’ve found that is “child-friendly” is the shoulder bag, but again, sometimes they make them only big enough to carry those teeny-tiny tampons that only supermodels and women with eating disorders use. I am neither of these. I love food and don’t like people to tell me how to look or dress.

I’ve collected many purses

over the years; so much so that my husband doesn’t question my need for a “new purse”. I am not that into labels anymore, and most of those labels don’t include a bag made of real leather anyway. I like something no one else has, isn’t made of fake, petroleum-smelling leather, and isn’t what I consider gaudy. Yes, I live in Texas and I don’t carry a purse with a thousand rhinestones or a giant cross. I know, I’m a horrible person and should be banned from the state. I like something simple, but I also like getting the compliment on what an awesome bag I’m carrying, and then followed by the question of “Where did you get such an amazing bag?”… There’s no better advertising than the free kind.

We had a Lucille De Paris alligator bag at the store earlier this year, well actually we’ve had a few. But this bad boy was full cream colored alligator, and without imperfection. Many had eyed the beauty but only one became “Lucy’s” lucky owner. I’m sure she’s gone to a good home. I can’t image myself carrying a purse like that without a security system permanently attached to the item. I don’t think I’d ever let it touch the floor, and I’d probably be less likely to open the latch as often as need be for fear I’d wear it out too soon. Needless to say, it wouldn’t suit me and my active lifestyle. I’m also quite accident prone and probably put a tear in it immediately, which of course would put many a tear in my eyes.

 

So there’s the rub. I’m needy when it comes to purses, which may be the reason I own so many. That perfect purse is out there somewhere. I have yet to find it. I currently find myself in the dilemma of finding a purse/diaper bag that I don’t hate and want to cuss at every three seconds. I won’t get into the horrific choices in diaper bags that are out there today, but just be warned, it’s slim pickins. I really want a Coach diaper bag, for the simple fact that it comes in a shoulder bag, I wouldn’t mind carrying it in public, and for once, the non-leather material would work to my advantage. My little cousin says she is going to buy it for me when she goes to the outlets next time. We’ll see. I’m pretty sure they cost close to $300. Would it be wrong to have a diaper bag that was more expensive than the crib? I’m sure my daughter will appreciate it one day. In the meantime, I’m on the hunt. What have I said before? Don’t get in between me and a vintage Louis Vuitton, or a Coach diaper bag on sale for half off. Ah, the joys of Mommyhood.

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The Art of the Link

19 Jun

My husband has recently had to change his daily wardrobe. He starting working an office job and realized his regular “work clothes” just weren’t up to par. Taking him shopping is a personal shopper’s worst nightmare. He thinks black can only match black or red, and insists on pairing dark shirts with dark pants. It’s a regular Johnny Cash situation. We recently attended his sister’s wedding up in Minnesota, and he decided him and our son were going to dress up and dress alike. First, we had to find an outfit for the monkey. Of course, he’s the one who’s hard to please. Then we went in search of finding my husband a shirt that was close in color. Unfortunately he’s a very popular size. The only shirt we could find with all the specifications was a Donald Trump original (we’re high class like that) and was french cuff. My husband has never been the one to dress up. In fact, first words out of his mouth were, ‘this one doesn’t have buttons on the sleeves, what a rip off’. My ex husband was the exact opposite. He spent more money on clothes for himself than me and my son combined. I am very well aware of a french cuff shirt, the need for cufflinks, and the fact difference between a sport coat and a blazer. So here I am, explaining to a 31 year old man what a cuff link is, in the middle of the Katy Mills mall.

I have come to realize my husband is not the only person who doesn’t realize the importance of the cufflink. So I am taking it upon myself to educate the masses. I feel like it’s my calling in life. Well, not really, but here it goes:

A cufflink by definition is a “decorative fastener worn by men and women to fasten the two sides of the cuff on a dress shirt or blouse”. Originally a cufflink was made of string, and referred to as “cuff strings”. The cufflink’s popularity grew during the reign of Louis XIV, then being made of colorful glass buttons and jeweled studs, typically diamonds, connected by gold links, so becoming the cuff-link.

Today cufflinks come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more gaudy, in my opinion, and remind me of used car salesman, others are more depictive of the wearer’s personality. Even Apple and Star Wars geeks like cufflinks! Working in the store, one of our biggest conversation pieces has to be the large tray of cufflinks we keep at the register. People will spend thirty minutes examining the tray, going through all the pieces. Kalen finds some of the greatest shapes and designs, some looking more like trinkets and something you would keep on display than wear. But where better to display something so unique than on your person. As women we spend hours putting together the perfect outfit, just hoping it will make heads turn and show our personality in a way a few words can’t. I met a woman not too long ago that said she likes to wear mens’ french cuffs, if nothing else than to show off her cufflinks. Cufflinks are like jewelry for your clothes. The best part about them is you can find them for just about any interest you may have. We’ve found train ones, golf ones, peaches if you’re from Georgia, even beer steins. Those are still my favorite.

I was SO excited when my husband bought his first cufflink shirt. I immediately thought of all the cool cufflinks I could get him, Viking related most likely. He’s not into jewelry, he owns like four watches that he never wears. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him consider a bracelet or a necklace. He says they’re for girls. I love not having to compete for shopping time with him, but after awhile, he’s a little hard to buy for. At least I’ve opened the door to something new I can shop for when it comes to him. We were in a time crunch for the wedding, so I had to settle for some boring, ordinary, run of the mill cufflinks. He still needs help putting them on, but I definitely see more french cuffs in our future. Even a manly man likes to feel pretty sometimes.

A Hat in the Right Direction

13 Jun

I bought this cool little sports-like car after my divorce. It wasn’t the nicest, or the coolest, but it had a sunroof. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the little things. One Easter weekend, I decided to take myself and my sunroof down to Galveston for the weekend. Yes, it is sad that when you’ve lived in and out of Houston as much as I have, you consider Galveston an acceptable beach. On my way down to “the coast”, third coast if you speak “gangsta”, the sun was shining and the weather was amazing. You get few days in Texas when the weather is amazing. This was one of those days. Sunroof open, speeding down 45, I thought I was the coolest person ever. Little did I realize that the wonderful sun was giving my wonderful scalp a sunburn. Not my whole scalp, mind you. Just the part. I had a nice red line marking the spot where I had neglected to remember, even in spring weather, the sun will burn you. Had I took the time to wear a hat, this never would’ve happened. Hi, my name is Wendy, and I was hat-ignornant.

We’ve all been guilty of it. It happens to the best of us. We leave the house without a
hat and head out, literally, into the gleaming sun. Up north, we never left without a hat in the winter. That would’ve been dumb. But in the summer we all suffer from hat-ignorance. You know when that cute girl comes wondering in your local shop or restaurant and everyone turns and looks at her as she walks by. It’s not because she’s a celebrity, or even necessarily that cute. It’s because we notice something going on north of her forehead. What is that? Oh my gosh, she is wearing a HAT!!! Do people even DO that anymore? I have often been guilty of rolling my eyes after hearing the statement, ‘I wish hats would come back in style,’ or my favorite, ‘People just don’t wear hats anymore’. I’m sorry my hat-ignorant friend, people do wear hats. People like me. People like my mother, who is told when she does wear her hat, she gives “hat-itude”. Trust me, my mother doesn’t need a hat to give you attitude. Needless to say people DO wear hats, and you are not cool if you don’t wear one occassionally. There, I said it. If you don’t wear a hat every once in awhile when the weather, or an outfit calls for it, you are NOT cool. Or you’re not in style, either way, go buy a hat.

I am currently nursing my summer fedoras through reconstructive therapy. My movers decided it was appropriate to shove two straw fedoras into a small box, and crunch them down to make space for, oh I don’t know, toilet paper. If you are in need of movers, I can officially tell you who NOT to call. Normally I would be donning my two favorite fedoras with just about everything I wear. I try to match them to my outfits or throw one on when I know I’ll be outside for a while, or I don’t feel like washing my hair. I give them one more week of reshaping therapy before they will make their appearance again. One problem I have with hats is that my head is too big. Kalen can sympathize with me. There are few vintage hats that fit my massive head. It’s massive ’cause my brain is so full of sarcasm. Needless to say when I find a vintage hat that fits, I buy it. Most of my vintage hats are winter hats, while my fedoras I had to opt for local shops to find my head gear. I fell in love with this all feather hat just over a year ago. It was one of those pieces that sat on your head, more like something from the 20’s than an actual hat. Whoever bought this hat, if you are reading this, can we time share??!?! It never really fit on my huge head, but I’d like visitation rights. We had many great talks together, and I miss it desperately.

I have an obsession with shoes and purses, but I cheat on my high heels sometimes with hats. They are a little more comfortable for the feet anyway. I don’t care who you are: young or old, tall or small, big head (like me) or small head, like so many of you I am jealous of, a hat looks good on everyone. It not only protects your head from the scorching sun, the cold,wintery day, it also makes a fashion statement. And that statement is, I’m seriously too cool for you to be seen with me, hence the hat.

A Kalen Review: Schiaparelli and Prada

6 Jun

One of the destinations on our list this summer is NYC (well, really, when isn’t it?) to see the new exhibit at the Costume Institute at the MET. Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations opened May 10 with the annual Met Ball Gala. Considered to the be the ultimate Red Carpet event for the fashion industry, the Met Ball Gala brings out the who’s who of the fashion and entertainment world. We’ll talk more about the Gala in a later post, but for the moment I want to dive in a little deeper to the seemingly odd pairing of Schiaparelli and Prada.


Elsa Schiaparelli began her career in Paris in 1928 with a single item; a black sweater with a trompe d’oeil bow.

She opened her first workroom specializing in sport attire to be worn for golf, tennis, etc. In 1930, she added an atelier to design couture and evening wear and began the most successful decade of her career. Her clothing was very much influenced by the art of her day; Cubism in the early 30s with clean, architectural lines, and Surrealism in the later 30s with whimsical buttons, creative fabrics and abstract accessories (insect necklace, anyone?).

During the war, her atelier closed and the house reopened in 1945. Schiaparelli’s post war designs were still artistically influenced; they lacked the humor and novelty of her pre-war collections.

Miuccia Prada took over the family leather business in 1978. Becoming famous for nylon bags and backpacks in the 1980s, Prada launched their ready –to-wear collection in 1989.

While other designers in the late 80’s were designing lines that were short, sexy and flirty; Prada came on the scene showing clean lines, luxurious fabrics and basic colors and the fashion world took notice.

By the 1990’s, Prada was a leading force in the fashion world producing simple, classic styles in luxurious fabrics and neutral colors. In 1995, Miuccia Prada won the Designer of the Year award by the Council for Fashion Designers of America.

Today, Miuccia Prada is known as one of fashion’s most intellectual talents. She plays with fabrics and colors; pairing the opulent with the every day, and creating color schemes only she could dream up. Yet luxury and high quality continue to be the core of the brand.

So, two driven female designers breaking the mold and innovating fashion, one in the 1930’s and one in the 1990’s. Elsa and Miuccia were bound together by their love of opulent fabrics, clean lines and impeccable detailing. Creatively, their influences were vastly different. Elsa looked to the art of her time and was not afraid to take risks in quirkiness. Miuccia was driven by technology and manipulation of fabrics and sought to innovate while always maintaining her high standards. If you look at the images from the Met Museum website, it is uncanny how similar their styles were. There is no evidence that Miuccia was influenced by Schiaparelli, but undoubtedly, she was familiar with her. It is a conversation that I for one, would love to be a fly on the wall to witness. If you find yourself in NYC this summer, make a point to drag whoever it is that you are with to this exhibit. There are very few female designers past or present as influential in the fashion world as Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada. If we are lucky enough to make it there ourselves, we’ll be sure to give a full report!