Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Fashion Snob's Dilemma

I'm a snob. I freely admit it.

This is not a new phenomenon. Ask my mom -- I have ALWAYS been a snob. I'm a snob about just about everything. I refuse to eat fast food. I have never watched "America's Got Talent." Don't even get me started on my beer & bourbon prejudices...

And yes, I am a snob about fashion.
Quelle surprise.

There are certain labels I cruise past without a second look in a store because I just do not want to support them, or worse yet, be forced to admit I'm wearing them if someone asks, no matter how attractive the item in question. (And no, I don't think I could get away with, "I do not recall." That may work for certain high governmental officials, but none of Style Spy's friends would buy it. They know I can recite the label, place of purchase, and cost -- the Fashionista's equivalent of name, rank, and serial number -- of every single garment I own. With the fiber content thrown in for good measure.)

One of those labels, like it or not, is "Jessica Simpson." There's a multitude of reasons for this, not least being I really don't love celebrity "designer" labels when I know full well said celebrity has nothing to do with the actual design. So typically I just swan past the Jessica Simpson shoes that are usually simply variations on knock-offs of Louboutins, anyway. But today I bumped into this:

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(click for link)

while looking at coats on the internets. (Yes, it's 90+ degrees here and I'm looking at coats, but that's a discussion for another day.)

What a pretty coat that is. It's so feminine and vaguely retro with that nice big collar and the nipped-in waist leading to a lovely swingy a-line.

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Nice trapunto detailing on the belt, and even the buckle is attractive. The fabric is a wool-poly-cashmere blend (only 10% cashmere, but still, every little bit helps). I've never seen a Jessica Simpson coat up close to know what kind of quality we're talking about, but the thing is on sale for $160, which is awfully reasonable for a winter coat. I have a bit of a quibble about the sizing, which ranges from XS to XL. I do not believe tailored clothing should be sized S-M-L, I think it should be numerically sized (8-10-12). S-M-L is for sweaters and athletic clothes. But it's more expensive to create garments in specific sizes, so many companies these days are copping out and taking the cheap & easy route. (And given the WILD disparity in numerical sizing among clothing labels these days, numbers are of increasingly limited usefulness themselves, aren't they? I mean, do we really think a Gap 8 is the same as a Theory 8 is the same as a Carolina Herrera 8? Ummm, no. But again, discussion for another day.)

So. The Fashion Snob's Dilemma: what is a Fashionista to do when she encounters the lovely item from the label she disapproves of? Does she swallow her Fashionista pride? Or does she cling steadfastly to her sartorial principals? What say you?

In the interest of full disclosure, the above coat is not actually on the menu for Style Spy, who is still quite deliriously happy with the winter coat she bought last year:

(It's so soft that you can actually see the softness, can't you? Sometimes I just crawl into the closet and stroke it. Which is not weird at all.)

Which coat is a gorgeous, gorgeous butter-soft camel Italian wool full-length single-button wrap number from Adrienne Vittadini. (It went to Paris in February and kept me soooooo warm, not to mention flaring out at the bottom in a hopelessly chic way as I strode across the Pont Neuf.) Living where I do, I'm not called upon to wear a winter coat all that often and once I buy one, it's good for several years. But I love coats and like looking at them and since others in the world need coats, it's my responsibility to do the research!

So: thoughts on the Fashion Snob's Dilemma? How do you handle it? Are there any labels you absolutely refuse to wear, and why? Style Spy wants to know!

Photos:, Style Spy

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Glove Lust

I have glove lust.

Which I'm now choosing to abbreviate as "glust."

Heaven knows I have plenty of gloves:

(Style Spy's glove drawer. Actually, it's only half a drawer, but I'm working on it.)

I've always had a thing for gloves. I just love the way they look. They're elegant. They're old-world. They're Hepburn-esque. They're a great way to add interest to an outfit, and an accessory most people don't pay all that much attention to. (They are a bit problematic when you consider how much I like to wear big honkin' cocktail rings, but I just slip the ring into my handbag before I put on the gloves. Problem solved.) And besides being great to look at, the excellent thing about gloves is that they're functional. Being the sort of person whose hands are usually cold if the temperature drops below 60 or so, I am a big fan of the glove. And this season is absolute heaven for glove junkies like me, they're showing up everywhere.

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(Burberry Prorsum. Very, very glustworthy.)

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(Miu Miu)

You may also remember me raving about the beauties at some of the couture shows. With all the fantastic short-sleeved and bracelet-sleeved coats happening right now, long gloves certainly make sense.

I can remember being accosted by an irritating young man I knew in college (named Fritz, of all things) and him mocking me because I was wearing leather gloves (bright early-80s blue, if I recall correctly) and he didn't think it was cold enough to justify them. I pointed out to him that he was wearing an entire jacket made of leather (a completely unmerited Perfecto -- oh, he was such a poser!), but the irony of that was lost upon him.

(Those same gloves died an ignominious death when an otherwise much-loved roomate borrowed them to put the snow chains on her tires. Oh, it still hurt a little...)

But I don't have glust for just any gloves, mind you. No, what I'm after right now is patent leather gloves. Like these:

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Those are from Neiman's and especially wonderful because they also come in brown, gray, green and plum. Mmmmm. However, as you can see if you click on them for the link, they are not cheap. $175 is a fair amount of money to spend on a pair of gloves, especially when these are an alternative:

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Okay, of course not, never, nyet, non, no, in no way in any universe I would inhabit are these actually an alternative, but... well, I went for the cheap humor. And I do mean cheap -- these PVC "beauties" will only set you back 20 bucks. (And a large portion of your dignity.)

I also found these at Saks:

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that come in black and this pretty rust-red color. Even spendier at 198 bucks. Ow.

For a shorter version we have these:

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from Armani. A comparative bargain at $108, but I think I really like the long ones better. If you're gonna go, go big, right?

There are also these at Bloomingdale's:

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for $150.

I've been searching and searching the internet for less-expensive alternatives, but no luck so far. So: big sigh. Probably no patent leather gloves for me. My glust shall go unrequited, at least until I unearth a pair at some cooperative outlet store next season. I will still be on the lookout for other fab gloves in longer lengths, like these:

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(Pink!! Pretty!!!)

at lower prices. I have a pair of black leather opera-length gloves, some red 4-buttons and some fuschia shirred 8-buttons, but as a glove junkie, that's just scratching the surface. If you bump into any glove bargains, please let me know.

Glove & kisses,
Style Spy

Photos: Style Spy,,,,,

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Will Jewelry Cure a Head Cold?

Bleah. Style Spy has a cold. And as everyone knows, summer colds are the worst. But I brightened up a little when I saw this pretty thing in Lucky Magazine:

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What a great-looking ring that is. And what is really, really cool is that this ring, and most of the other jewelry on this site ( is customizable. You can choose the metal and also different combinations of stones. How cool is that?

How cool also is this beautiful cuff?

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Oh, that's pretty. And you could potentially get it in silver, if that's your metal of choice. With different colors of stones. I don't wear silver, so I rarely post it here because it just doesn't catch my eye as much, but I think it's really clever of this designer to offer all her pieces in a choice of metals. It's terribly frustrating to find the perfect piece of jewelry in the wrong metal.

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(click all photos for links)

Nifty necklace. You could also get this in silver with a green jade briolette, for example.

Another great feature of this jewelry? Very reasonable prices! The ring above retails for $86, which seems like an awfully good price for a customized piece of bling with semi-precious stones. I was this close to ordering one to see if it helped with my sniffles, but I decided against. Remember that cool chunky Alexis Bittar lucite ring I posted about a few weeks ago? And the gorgeous faceted paisley Kenneth Jay Lane number? Well, darling friends treated me to them as birthday gifts and I've had very happy fingers ever since.

::sniffle, snork:: If only my sinuses felt as good as my fingers...


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pushing the Envelope

I know that this dress is going to upset some folks:

As a matter of fact, I predict some people will be downright pissed off by this dress. And I'll also bet you cold hard cash there are several of Style Spy's friends who are right now uttering a silent prayer of supplication: "Please, oh please don't let her wear it when she's with me!"

Ohhhhhh, they
so should know better by now...

I love this dress. It's
McQ by Alexander McQueen, and it's the lightest possible cotton voile -- it's like wearing a whisper. The asymmetry of the skirt is caused by clever little tucks and gathers, and the drawstring waist is adjustable. It is soft and light and amazingly comfy. It's also pretty hard to miss. It's a lot of dress -- this is not a good dress if you're petite, and it requires a pretty substantial shoe to balance it out. I know there will be comparisons to circus tents and allusions to Renaissance Faire wenches, but I don't mind. I really, really love this dress. Of course, as I told adorable Daniel, one of the delightful SAs at St. Thomas Boutique here in Austin (he and the lovely Andrea really did me a solid this weekend -- you should go and meet these swell people), I would wear toilet paper if Alexander McQueen wrapped it around me. I lurrrrrrve his work. There's really no one else like him. Sometimes his clothes are highly... theoretical:

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and sometimes they're hallucinogenically beautiful:

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but they are always, always interesting. Here, watch this:

Alexander McQueen pushes the envelope and for that I really love him. Sure, sometimes we all just want a pretty dress. But even pretty dresses get a bit boring after a while, and McQueen always brings something unexpected to the table. I'm going to wear the striped dress. It's pushing the envelope, all right, especially for a town like Austin where Juicy Couture is actually considered couture, but that's okay with me. I wear my clothes because I love them and they make me happy. I am going to flounce around in that dress with a big ol' grin on my face, regardless of whether anyone else gets it. Anyone who doesn't like it had best just stay out of my Flouncing Zone.

I love fashion. I love the fantasy and fun of it. I love that I can stand in my closet and decide who I want to be every day. Nothing makes me more blue than to find a gorgeous item of clothing and hesitate over wearing it because of What People Might Think. It's not that I want to run around with people pointing and laughing or chasing me with torches, but I'm unwilling to sacrifice the joyful bounding of my heart when I wear something really fantastic to the "comfort" of knowing I blend in to my surroundings. And designers like Alexander McQueen, who is such a master at finding Beauty in the Strange

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fascinate and excite me. It's about the fearlessness, I think, the dedication to following through on a personal vision whether or not others share it or like it or even understand it.

I vote for fearless. Be fearless. Be brave, every day. Be who you are. Be what you think is beautiful, and you will be.

Photos: Style Spy,,

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Monday, August 20, 2007

This Is A Call

Style Spy is bereft!

This weekend, while visiting the beautiful Prada sandals below, I learned that Ted, my favorite Shoe Guy at Neiman Marcus, has left his job! No Ted = Sad Style Spy. Happily, there are lots of other nice folks in the shoe department there, but still..

So Ted, if you're out there: phone home! I would love to buy shoes from you wherever you've landed, and if you're no longer purveying footwear at all, well, it'd be nice to know that you're well & happy. Take care, dear!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Want Monster Has Me By the Neck

Ow. The Want Monster is worrying me, chomping on my tender flesh and drawing a little blood.

I want this shoe:

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(Prada. Also available at Neiman Marcus.)

I have been wanting this shoe for quite some time now -- since I saw it in the Prada F/W '07 runway show. It's an odd shoe, but I am deeply enamored of it. First of all, I've always loved an ombré effect. Secondly, not only is it ombré, it's ombré patent leather. (And we know how I feel about patent leather, non?) This shoe is elegantly simple -- two large bands across the foot (that are very comfortable, since they're nice & wide and won't cut into your dainty little feets) and a really beautiful slightly underslung heel. Check out this view from the runway:

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(My sense of adventure, however, will not be extending to the half-foot tights. Unless I'm taking a modern dance class, of course.)

The heel seems to have been straightened out a little bit for production, which I think is a shame, but that isn't dampening the shoe-lust that is frothing in my soul one single bit.

When I first started talking about this shoe, a few of my friends raised their eyebrows, but I knew, with my unerring Style Spy-dey sense, that this was the shoe of the season; and since then it has shown up everywhere, including this gorgeous spread in Vogue featuring Natalia Vodianova in some pretty darned fabulous evening gowns.

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(I just love her -- such a great model.)

What I really love about the styling of these photos is the contrast of the very solid, almost bulky shoe and the long sinuous lines of the gowns. It's a great proportion, and very happening right now. There are a lot of good anchor shoes out there this season -- look at all the ankle booties and high-heeled oxfords popping up with skirts and dresses.

The shoe is so very much the thing that Nine West has already ripped it off, to pretty good although not-quite-spectacular effect. Usually it takes them a season to get to something -- witness their version of the satin Miu Miu mary janes from spring.

So this is going to be my big shoe purchase this fall (in a size 39, in case anyone wants to send a belated birthday present). It's going to take a while to get to it, but I'm determined. With these and my as-yet-unearthed perfect pair of red ankle booties, I'll be set.

What are you looking at for the fall? Any must-haves?


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Monday, August 13, 2007

Flat Shoe Society

Hello, my stylish friends!! It's been too long!! I'm so sorry I abandoned you for two weeks -- I've just been insanely busy with a styling project for a photographic shoot that happened this past weekend and much of my life just ground to a halt while I outfitted seven (seven!!) models on a very limited budget. In consequence of which I have developed a new theory, called Style Spy's Law of Labor & Budgetary Inverses, which reads:

The less money available for a project, the more time, energy and ingenuity it will require.

When you think about that, it makes sense. If you need a new outfit and you have unlimited funds with which to buy it, you can just go shopping and throw money at the problem and before you know it, you have something fabulous. If you have to be a little more fiscally cautious, however, it can be a lot more work to create something wonderful with limited resources. It's a shame, but it's true.

So I'm sorry for ignoring the blog for so long, and thanks to all the people who sent me concerned e-mails -- that was so sweet of you. It made me feel like I truly have friends all over the world. And the shoot, after all the hard work, was wonderful and resulted in some absolutely breathtaking photos, so it was all worth it.

In other news -- today is Style Spy's birthday!! I hope you will all trot out and wear, at least for a moment, your favorite shoes in my honor.

Here's a little prezzie I bought for myself a couple of weeks ago, in celebration of mon anniversaire and my newly-repaired foot which can once again wear flat shoes without pain:

How cute are those?? I love them so much!! Quilted black patent leather, and what's even more exciting are the rubber soles that make them comfy and easy to walk in. These shoes are definitely coming to Paris with me in November. I hesitated about buying them, fearing that they were too open to wear into the fall, with tights, but I came home and ran the experiment:

and decided they were a "go." What do you think?

They also come in silver, but I needed new black flats. And I'm buying patent like a madwoman because I predict that it's only going to be big for a little while longer before it fades out of favor and I want to stock up. I don't think it's going to disappear entirely, but we've had several big seasons of patent lately and it's bound to run its course before long.

If I have enough time today, I might go shopping for an entirely different kind of shoes:

May we interest you in something in nylon and rubber, madame?

Mmmmmmmm, those are beauties. (You see? I'm open-minded. It's not ALL about the stilleto and the patent leather and the rhinestones!)

Have a great day, everyone! It's good to be back!

Photos: Style Spy,

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