Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mystic Underpants Update

So I wore my mystical underwear today, and the answer to the big question on everybody's mind is (::insert drumroll here::),


What? What do you mean you haven't spent all your free time in the last week wondering about my underpants? Hasn't everyone??

Well, in case you haven't, last weekend I bought a pair of Jockey Naturals Bamboo Boyshorts in a quest for a nice pair of drawers that I could wear under a couple of knit dresses that are tricky in the panty line department. Today I gave 'em a tryout under this dress:

(Like I said last week, we're running out of time to rock our white dresses -- smoke 'em if ya got 'em, ladies!)

I dressed it down with flat sandals and a denim jacket to run some errands (why does it have to be SO DAMN COLD in Costco???) and thought this would be a good opportunity for a trial run.

First off -- they are really soft. They are super-duper soft and they feel really good on. Also, the color is good -- mine are a nude color called "Warm Quartz" and they completely disappeared under the white dress. And when they first went on they were perfect -- the leg opening was low enough that there was no panty line evident and the waistband lay perfectly flat.


After I'd walked around for a bit (actually, by the time I'd gotten downstairs to my car), they'd already begun to ride up; and after I got into the car it was all over but the shouting. (There was no actual shouting, of course, but there definitely was the ol' underwear Hitchhiker Maneuver with the hooked thumb. You know what I mean, don't pretend you don't.)

Unfortunately, while the fit of the shorts is really good from side to side

they're not long enough from top to bottom

and so there is some serious, um... well, the tag promised "drifting" and "gliding," and let's just say they lived up to their word. (Although "scootching" and "creeping" may have been more accurate verbs.) The big dichotomy with the boy short is that the thing about them that is great -- the fact that there's no tight elastic around the leg opening that creates a panty line -- is also the thing that is a problem -- there's no tight elastic around the leg opening to keep it from traveling northward.

I always have this problem with boy shorts. (And yet I continue to buy them -- hope springs eternal!) Some of it is my semi-freakishly long rise, and some of it is my overly generous booty. Maybe if I bought a size up it would be better, but it seems like the size increase in most pants (even underpants) only increases the girth of the garment, not usually the rise. Although, honestly, I don't know who these work on. I mean, I'm not exactly the tiniest elf in the forest or anything, but still... Seems like you'd have to have a pretty compact package for these to contain all your goodies. Anyone out there a fan of the boy short? If so, speak up & tell me which ones you're getting that don't go spelunking when you walk in them.

The verdict? Like I said, these things are cuddly-soft and comfy, so I'm very likely to scoop up some more in a different style, like a regular bikini, and I'm also really liking the idea of one of the camisoles in the nude color because that would completely disappear under a sheer blouse, I think. But these boy shorts are going to be at-home-alone wear. Soft & comfy for lounging, and if I have to do The Hitchhiker... well, let's just say Shine's seen worse.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Last Chance for White

Sweet Polka Dot got me thinking about white dresses with a question on her blog. I love white dresses. There's nothing like a good white dress to help a girl struggle through an unbearably hot summer. (Yesterday was set a record in Austin -- the 67th day of triple-digit temperatures this year. I'm tellin' ya, it has been a rough summer here. We finally -- FINALLY -- got some rain last night and it's a bit cooler this morning. Forecasts are calling for temps in the high 90's over the weekend and everyone is all excited -- "Oh, my gosh! It's only going to be 98! Yippee!!" How sad is that? My friend Eric calls it "Weather Stockholm Syndrome." We're so brainwashed by the heat we're grateful for any tiny little break we get.)

At any rate... (Sorry, but even more than usual the weather is the big topic around here.) Labor Day is around the corner and theoretically we'll all have to stop wearing our white dresses. Of course, folks here don't hew as closely to that rule as they do in some parts of the world -- it's easy to justify fudging when it's in the 90's, as it usually is around here well into September.

So here's a few nice white dresses. (Click photos for links.)

Oh, this is lovely.

Cake Couture Gardenia Shirt Dress in Ivory

I love embroidery, and this is really pretty. It looks like a vintage tea towel or pillow slip.

Isn't that lovely? And one of the best things about buying a white dress in late August is that they're often crazy on sale. This one sure is.

Unfortunately, this one is not


Which is a danged shame, because it's fantastic. Ann Demeulemeester jersey deliciousness. I love Ann D for the way she can create clothes that look like she just wound a piece of fabric around a manequin and poof! Magic happens and suddenly it's the coolest garment ever.

From myboyfriendAlexanderMcQueen:


Dreamy pintucked shirtdress that I'm completely besotted with. This is on sale, too, and it's a good thing I didn't see it when it was full price, because I still would have been tempted. The detailing and tailoring on this makes me really excited, click on the photo to explore it further.

Finally -- full-on, ingenue-in-a-movie-musical, skip-through-a-flowery-meadow, summer sundress guaranteed to make you at least ten degrees cooler:


Perfect. Just perfect.

So I'll pick up where Polka Dot left off -- are you gearing up your fall wardrobes for Labor Day? How big a change will it be -- full-on closet swap or gradual replacement of spaghetti straps for cardigans? Also, how strictly do you adhere to the No White After Labor Day rule?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Films for Fashionistas -- C 'est Un Rêve!

Here's my latest fashionista film discovery:

Yves Saint Laurent - His Life and Times/5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris

This DVD contains two documentaries by the same director. The first is a fairly traditional sit-down-with-a-camera-and-interview-the-subject-and-those-close-to-him sort of summation of, well, his life & times. There are interviews with Saint Laurent himself, his business & personal partner of many, many years, Pierre Bergé, muses like Betty Catroux & Loulou de la Falaise, and other people who worked with Saint Laurent during his 50 years in fashion. The interviews are intercut with wonderful footage from past fashion shows, odd old black & white television advertisements, clips from interviews with Saint Laurent when he was a young, young man, and other fun historical nuggets. Saint Laurent talks -- quelle surprise! -- about his mother and in this film we actually get to meet Maman. (And she is lovely.)

It's a short film (the two together run less than 90 minutes) and far from a comprehensive study of Saint Laurent's influence and influences, but it's well worth watching. It's a little stunning to realize just how incredibly young he was when he took over Dior (barely 22).

It's also fairly apparent that M. Saint Laurent suffered from a mood disorder, undergoing bouts of depression that his friends speak of in guarded and elliptical terms. His struggles with substance abuse in the 70's and 80's have been well-documented, and he was hospitalized for "stress" and "exhaustion" and the like repeatedly over the course of his life. By the time this film was made (in 2001) he is obviously ill and at times seems terribly frail. There are many poignant moments in the film when he talks about his (happy) childhood and both the joy and sadness that his life in fashion have brought him. Saint Laurent seems all-too-terribly human in this film -- not a fortress of ego like Karl Lagerfeld or a marketing machine like Marc Jacobs, but an artist at times bewildered by his own talent and often hostage to his own demons and black dogs.

The second part of this DVD is the fashion documentary I've been searching for. Ten minutes in, I hit the pause button on my remote, marched over to my computer, and ordered the DVD from Amazon. I needed to own it. If you are a fiend for the actual design and construction of clothing, this is your movie. The process being observed is the run-up to one of Saint Laurent's final Haute Couture shows (one of the reasons YSL is so important to fashion history is that he is usually credited with being the first haute couture designer who opened a full-fledged ready-to-wear business, but he continued to design haute couture until 2002) and if you're a construction ho like me, it is absolutely enthralling. I watched this film like a 13-year old boy watches his first dirty movie -- on the edge of my seat, mouth agape, wineglass forgotten on the coffee table in front of me. This is hard-core fashion porn. Designs are followed from sketch to toile to final fabric choices, with models parading before Saint Laurent and Loulou de la Falaise (who wears a seemingly endless series of perfectly-fitting trousers and blouses with big statement-y pieces of jewelry tossed on in just the perfect way -- oh, I want to be her when I grow up!) and Anne-Marie Munoz, who worked with Saint Laurent from his early days at Dior. Bless director David Teboul's heart, he just plunks the camera down on a tripod and lets it roll, showing us long, uninterrupted, unedited takes of staring, judging, tweaking, and discussing the designs. You get a real feel for how painstaking and stop-and-go the process is as Saint Laurent and his sidekicks chat about the placement of a pleat or the shape of a collar. But it's not just talk. Teboul also goes into the workrooms and films the garments actually being made. We get to see the hands and hear the voices of the tailors and seamstresses who construct these beautiful garments. Saint Laurent , at least in this film, is a kind and respectful boss who beams at the employees who bring his designs to life and thanks them profusely. The appreciation seems reciprocated -- there is no disguising the pride of one of the head seamstresses as the gorgeous dress she has nursed into creation swings and sways and swoops across the salon in front of Saint Laurent, followed by a murmured string of his favorite compliments: "Ravissant! Ravissant! C'est un rêve!" It's by far the best representation I've seen yet of what goes on deep inside an atelier and made me want nothing more than to go and sit quietly on stool in the corner in that studio and just watch & learn. These men and women have already forgotten more about design, construction, ornament, fabric -- all the building blocks of fashion -- than I will ever learn in my lifetime. It's awe-inspiring, at least to me. Click here for a sample of what I'm talking about.

These films are definitely worth your time, especially if you're as big a fan of Yves Saint Laurent as I am, or if you appreciate the skill and time that goes into creating a truly artful piece of clothing. This DVD, especially the "Avenue Marceau" segment, is going to be one of my rainy-day movies -- you know, the ones you pop into the player when it's gray & rainy & you've got nothing to do but stay home and snuggle into the couch and entertain yourself with your favorite dish of cinematic comfort food. Highly, highly recommended.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Go Bananas

I'm very pleased to announce that the blog has a new affiliate -- Banana Republic! I'm quite happy about this. I know that BR is part of a big ol' conglomerate and I'm not usually a fan of the gigantor corporate entity, but dangit, they've just had really, consistently good design the past few years, and the quality for the price point is unbeatable. I'm always hesitant about buying things that are too recognizably "design-y" from BR, like a distinctive print, because the stores are ubiquitous and you're bound to run into yourself walking down a street or at a party someday. But as far as good, stylish basics go, they can't be beat. Ferinstance, I'm pretty smitten with this cardi:

Women: Short-sleeve belted cardigan - Black

(Click photos for links as usual.)

Trust me. You will wear the hell out of this. So cute over a printed blouse.

They've also had really good jewelry for a while now, at pretty decent prices:

Women: Locket bib necklace - Gold

That is a super-cool necklace and this fab cuff

Women: Petal cuff - Gold
which is right in Style Spy's wheelhouse, is on sale for a measly thirty bucks.

This dress greatly appeals

Women: Heritage eco-blend leopard dress - Bronzer

It's pretty subtle for an animal print, and it also comes in Petites.

I've also been really impressed with the quality of their handbags -- they look great in the stores, I'd love to hear from anyone who's bought one about how well they hold up. This fantastic blue tote

Women: Leather tote - Ocean teal 837

is only 100 bucks and I lovelovelove that. Such an amazing color!

They also have a couple of offshoot lines now -- BR Heritage, which does a lot of sustainable fabrics (mystical bamboo, perhaps) and BR Monogram, which appears to be their upper-end line, at slightly higher prices. This dress

BR Monogram: BR Monogram silk draped abstract dress - Gold light

is really wonderful. I love the asymmetric cut and that graphic is really gorgeous. That's a seriously good dress, and it's under $160.

Banana Republic is my go-to store for basic solid button-front blouses.

Women: Fitted non-iron shirt - White

The cuts are good, the construction is good, and the fabrics are really nice. Even at full-price they aren't bad but I usually keep an eagle eye peeled for a sale and then when that happens I scoop up a few. These shirts also come in petites and tall -- I think I'm going to try a tall size next time I get one, and see if that solves the long-waisted problem. (Of course, then the sleeves will probably be a foot too long, huh? Oy. My torso is a burden.) I'm also a big fan of their thin cotton t-shirts -- I think they do a great job with knits. I have a couple of their cotton/modal t-shirts and they're so soft that people pet me when I wear them.

The other great thing about shopping at Banana Republic is that, given the gigantor corporation status, is that you can also shop from Gap, Old Navy, and Piperlime and they'll count it all as one shipment. This is pretty nifty, actually, and could save a person a decent chunk of change on shipping charges.

So, go!!! Shop!!!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Kiva Update

I have been very remiss in updating you all on the status of our Kiva clients, and for that I apologize.

Remember Sophia? Sophia needed a loan of $400 to fund her clothing & textile business in Tanzania, and thanks in large part to Team Style Spy members, she raised it pretty quickly. I'm happy to report that Sophia is doing well, her business is growing, and she's already begun re-paying her loan. Go, Sophia!!

Our other Kiva client, the beautiful Nourietou, needed $625 for her textile business, which Team Style Spy helped her raise. Nourietou has also started re-paying her loan. I tell ya, these women are amazing!

And so, I think it's time we took on another client! Let me introduce you to Toyin.

Toyin lives in Nigeria and needs a loan for her business selling sarong fabrics. If she can raise the money, she can buy the fabric in bulk, which will make her business more efficient and prevent her from having to travel away from her three children as frequently. Toyin has raised $625 of the $775 she needs, which means we only have to come up with another 150 bucks to get her on her way. I think we can do that, no problem. That's just six of us ponying up 25 bucks each -- surely we can do that without breaking a sweat.

So if you'd like to help out Toyin, click on her photo and it'll take you to Team Style Spy's Kiva page, where you can donate whatever amount works for you, and also get an update on our other loans. Kiva makes it incredibly easy to lend money -- it'll only take you a few minutes and you're helping someone change her life. Check it out.

If you'd like to learn more about empowering women, check out this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The entire issue is devoted to women's rights and is filled with important information. It's definitely worth a read.

Let's go, Team Style Spy! Make it happen!!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Underwear Is One With the Universe

So I bought a pair of these today:

(click for link)

I thought they were just a nice pair of underwear -- very soft, a good nude color (Although it is apparently called "warm quartz." Because underwear that was a color called "nude"? Preposterous!) and I needed a little boy short thing for a couple of knit dresses I have that are not so forgiving of regular underpants -- VPLs, doncha know.

So, yeah, I thought they were just nice underwear, until I got home & examined the tag, which informed me proudly that my panties were made of bamboo. (Technically, they are 42% rayon from bamboo. Also 35% nylon, 18% cotton, and 5% spandex.) Bamboo! "Bamboo," the tag on my underwear tells me, "has been used in China for more than 5000 years. Before paper was invented, slips of bamboo were the most important writing medium, making bamboo an important part in the spread and development of Chinese culture."

My underpants have cultural significance!!!

And that's not all!! On another tag (yep -- one pair of shorts, TWO tags) I am informed that "Bamboo draws a fortunate, mystical & prosperous energy from the earth."

My underpants are filled with mystical energy!!! Who knew?!?! (Well, to be honest, that's not the first time I've heard that.)

Furthermore! Among other things, "This bamboo garment also:

"*drifts over skin & glides under clothing"
(Well, this makes me a little nervous. I don't really want my underpants drifting & gliding. I'd prefer them to stay put, thanksverymuch.)


"*breathes well & possesses a mystical sheen"
(I hadn't noticed the mystical sheen, but perhaps I am just unenlightened. Perhaps they will look sheen-ier when they are mystically drifting over my ass.)

I gotta tell ya -- I'm really looking forward to wearing these things. These are, apparently, far and away the most powerful underpants I've ever owned. I fully expect to be able to communicate with animals and channel healing energy (via my butt, I guess -- this will make for very interesting sickbed visits) when I'm wearing them. I'll let you know -- first I have to wash them. I don't care how enlightened my panties are, they get washed before they come in contact with this gal's mystical properties.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pucci-ing the Envelope

So I stopped by Sister Wolf's hilarious blog Thursday morning and saw her post about how this dress

is sold out on Net-A-Porter. Her point was that, good googly-moogly (although she uses less curlicue'd language), the stupid thing cost about five large and it sold out in about 90 seconds. What the hell is up with THAT? is the gist of her much-funnier and better-written observations.

Yeah, amen to that, but here's the part that really kicked my seatback into an upright position: that dress? Is Pucci.

Um, WHAT????

Yeah, really. It's Pucci.

I knew that Matthew Williamson had left as head of design at Pucci and that Peter Dundas had taken over. Dundas has done design duty in assorted capacities at places as varied as Cavalli, Lacroix, and Ungaro -- he's been around a long time and has an impressive CV, but I certainly couldn't give you any sort of brief on his vision or style -- he's more a journeyman designer than a household name, and there's no shame in that. Currently, he's creative director for the French fur company Revillon, and is remaining with them for at least the next two years to serve out his contract. (Which will 'splain a few things to come.) Anyhoo, I realized that even though I am an enormous fan of Pucci, or at least I definitely have been while Williamson was heading it up (Really, was there ever a more perfect combination of designer & existing house? I can't think of one.) I didn't ever check out the collections that Dundas has shown so far. (Because there is SO DAMN MUCH FASHION stomping down the aisles these days that a serious person cannot possibly hope to pay attention to all of it, which is just frustrating.) So I did.


Fur & leather are not what I think of when I think of Pucci, but I'll try to stay open. I just wish those pants fit better.

It's a yeti! A super-expensive, exceptionally well-groomed, Evian-sipping, cigarette-inhaling Fashion Yeti!!! Honey, get the camera!!! (To be fair, I do not know for sure that Lily Donaldson smokes. But since all I've ever seen models raise to their lips in photos & videos are cigarettes & those little individual bottles of champagne with straws in them, it's a fair bet.)

Helloooooooo? Is there a Pucci in there? Also, that dress doesn't appear to fit very well, either.

Oh, hooray! A print! In possibly the most depressing color combination I've ever seen on a Pucci runway. I wilt.

Now I yawn. Did Elie Saab stop by?

Now we're talking -- color and print! It's color and print in service of the ubiquitous and tired super-glam rock chick thing that only works if you're under 30 and built like a ski pole, but hey! I'll take it!

Now we're talkin'.

And then... they harsh my buzz with those muddy colors again.

I really wasn't getting the eagle and wolf motifs at first, but all the notes about this show say that Dundas was influenced by the Palio of Siena, which is a centuries-old horse race in which the wards of the city of Siena are each represented by a horse & rider. Each of the wards is named for an animal (some real, some mythical) and Aquila ("eagle") and Lupa ("wolf") are two of them, and their colors and symbols make up a big part of the pageantry of this famous event & festival.

Too bad Dundas couldn't see his way clear to make it as colorful as the original.

How fantastic is that? I want to go there!

So the Palio thing explains some of the other motifs, too.

Which is good, because at first I thought, Oh, great, yet another designer-embellished t-shirt. (This item seems to be de rigeur these days -- little cutesy t-shirts from expensive designer labels. I guess they serve the function of being "accessible" items for the various lines, price-point-wise. So sure, they're usually cheaper than say, a dress from any given designer, but in my opinion it takes some damned nerve to charge 500+ bucks for some damned silkscreened & be-dazzled t-shirt, no matter how many famous fashion designers rubbed their little paws all over it. Harumph.)

The collection was not entirely devoid of color

Speaking of over-the-knee boots -- yowza. Even a skeptic has to admit those are pretty yummy.

But don't get too excited. And the best prints?

Black & white. Lower-case woo, lower-case hoo. Although I really, really do dig that dress -- I love the simple shape and the great pattern, and the placement of the pattern is fantastic -- see how it creates such a great body shape?

But this was a Fall/Winter collection, after all. Maybe, I thought, Dundas got a little more exuberant for Resort, typically a good season for color & sartorial whoop-de-doo.

Um, not so much.

This is another really amazing pattern. Nicole Phelps on's review of the collection said what I thought when I saw it -- in those tones on that fabric, it looks a bit H.R. Giger-esque (he's the guy who designed the alien for the "Alien" movies). It's beautiful slightly weird & hypnotic and a little unnerving, but good googly-moogly, do I hate that bandage bodice with the keyhole. It robs the garment of all its potential elegance.

Again I shake my fist at the sky and curse Christophe Decarnin.

This is a nice enough dress. Actually, no, this dress is lovely. I think this dress, given correct sizing, would be extremely wearable and flattering on many different sorts of women -- thumbs up for this one. And I do love a good white dress.

Oh, goodie! Here comes some print!

Oooh, and some more!

I really love this dress -- this is a classic item that you could wear for yeeeeears. (And you'd better -- Pucci is dayum'd expensive.)

Now we're right in my sweet spot -- it's jersey, it's print, it's fantastic. Only two colors, but that's okay. I love it.

Oh, dear. Oh, we should have quit while we were ahead. Oh. Dear.

I'm still reserving judgment. I think you have to give any designer a pass on his first collection when he steps into another house, especially one that's been so successfully headed by someone else as Pucci has been by Williamson. And I'm encouraged by the direction that the resort show took. And I'm trying not to be an old fuddy-duddy about one of my favorite labels, but I do SO love Pucci and all its bright, brash, printed exuberance. I fully understand that it's important for a house with a history to keep moving forward, but I'm getting plenty cheesed about the formula some of the mega luxury corporations seem to be using to make it happen. Take a label with decades of fashion history behind it, pop in some happening new designer, and use the name as a veneer to cover designs and products aimed primarily at hip young models, model-types, model-wannabes, model-worshippers, and other people whose names & faces are found inside fashion magazines and whose apparent profession is "go to gallery openings and smoke." The prototype for this is Nicholas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga, and Christophe Decarnin at Balmain and Tisci at Givenchy followed with equal success. I'm not saying none of these designers is talented (okay, I have said that about Tisci & Decarnin), but Balenciaga is not about Balenciaga anymore, it's about Ghesquiere. (And as for Givenchy? Well, may I remind you that he was one of Audrey Hepburn's favorite designers. 'Nuff said.) That's fine, I guess, but then why are we calling it Balenciaga? Or Givenchy? Why not just give them their own labels & be done with it? Why call it what it's not?

And then, like a dog chasing its own tail, I wonder, does it really even matter? If I'm so gosh-darned fashion-forward, why does it even bother me? Shouldn't I just get over myself and judge the stuff for what it is, not compare it to what it was or what I think it might have been? After all, I can't seem to be made happy ever -- not too long ago I was complaining bitterly about a house that was SO determined not to move forward that their runway looked like a morgue.

So I'll wait and see what they do to Pucci. It seems like a house with so strong a signature and look would be hard to screw up, but it may be that the PTBs behind it want to create yet another go-to label for the hippest of the hip, who wear their jeans low & skinny, their eyeliner thick & black, and their expressions blank and blasé.

Oh, the idea depresses me. I'm going to go put on some shoes to cheer myself up. I've got just the thing.

There. That's better.

images:,,, Style Spy

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