Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wherein Style Spy Succumbs to the Cute, and Feels Okay About It

I'm not big on the cute. I don't do twee. Not much in my closet could be described as "sweet" or "adorable," and that suits me just fine. I myself am neither sweet nor adorable, so that kind of clothing would just be false advertising. However. Rules are made to be broken and when I saw this, I snatched it up.

(It's driving me crazy because I KNOW I've seen this photo before -- can anyone help me out here? It seems like it was a National Geographic cover or something.)

Believe it or not I've actually been in the market for something like this. I am bored to monochromatic tears with most of my tops -- almost everything is a solid color and it just gets soooooo dull. The very few tops I have that are patterned are getting worn to pieces. So I've been looking for something that had a pattern or a graphic on it, and I wanted it to have some COLOR. I have found a lot of silk blouses that are wonderfully patterned, but that was another thing hanging me up -- I really wanted something cotton or equally easy-care & casual. And I wanted it to be something I could dress up or down, so something too straight-up t-shirt-y wasn't really what I was after. This is technically a t-shirt, of course, but it's long & slinky & has a banded bottom, so it's a small step up from t-shirt.

I know. It's a panda. But it's a GREAT panda, not an overly cutesy-fied cartoon version of a panda (Cutesy-fying a panda really is bringing coals to Newcastle -- seriously, what is cuter than a panda bear?) and I LOVE it. I was flicking through a rack of clothing, saw it, grabbed it, and bought it without even trying it on. Bam. Just like that.

So here's my new favorite outfit, with my new panda shirt:

(click to make bigger)

Panda went to dinner Saturday night with my Prada ombré sandals, my fantastico Fragments lucite neckstravaganza, and my BCBG Leger-esque bandage skirt.

A word about this skirt: I love this damn thing. I really do. I typically do not buy a lot of BCBG. It's not that I dislike their clothing; although I do have a real grudge against the shoes -- I have bought several pairs and every single one of them have been cruel shoes that I couldn't wear because they were so painful. Often I really like BCBG and I think they do a good job at their price point. And I usually quite like Max Azria's namesake collection, which is their upper-end line (I think they call it "Runway" in the stores.") I don't think the Miuccia Pradas of the world have anything to fear, design-competitor-wise, from Max & Lubov Azria (his wife functions as his creative director). But given how intensely commercial most of their product is, I think they do an interesting job with the Runway stuff -- it's more grown-up, more interesting, more fashion-forward. The reason I rarely buy BCBG is its ubiquity -- oooooooh, good googly-moogly, it's freaking EVERYWHERE. There are three BCBG boutiques here in Austin, and if that weren't enough, all of the major department stores devote LARGE chunks of real estate to the brand. (If you based your information on a walk-through of the Austin Saks, you would think there were only four labels at this price point/demographic: BCBG, Diane von Furstenberg, Theory, and godhelpus Juicy Couture.) Since I don't really want to look out across any given restaurant I'm visiting and see 6 other women wearing the same dress as me, I tend not to shop BCBG too much, although I do have a few things from them that I like a bunch.

A few years ago their company took over Hervé Leger's. Leger was the creator of the original "bandage dress" in the late 80's, a look that became practically a uniform for supermodels, trophy wives, and other ornamental young women around the world.

There's been a resurgence in the popularity of the bandage dress the last couple of years (say what you will about Azria, the man is a marketing
tornado) and I know that some folks are heartily sick of it, but I gotta tell ya -- they work. I mean, really -- look at my ass in this thing:

I am here to tell you -- my ass is not really that good. Seriously. Not even close. That's a big reason why these things are so popular -- they're like wearing a really good-looking shaper garment instead of a dress. All the lumpy bits? Smoothed right out. Cellulite? What cellulite??? It's fantastic.

There is the snob factor, of course. Given my druthers, I'd be sporting authentic vintage Leger from the 90's. That'd be great. However, until I win the lottery or the Pulitzer or something, if Mr. Azria wants to make virtually the same design available to me at a fraction of the price? Well, thank you, Mr. Azria! This skirt is well-made, the fabric is great, and it's shockingly comfortable. (I wore it to dinner.) I honestly recommend it. No, it's not for everyone, I understand that, but before you completely write it off as something only Posh Spice wears, check out this article with a size 14 model looking pretty damned hot in one of them. And here's Beth Ditto, unmistakably plus-size-and-proud, wearing one.

(Note to Miss Jody: Look! She's wearing those little Stella McCartney sandals with the cherries that you thought were so cute!)

I honestly think she looks fantastic in this. Yeah, she's a big, curvy girl. And she is locked and loaded in that dress and I think she looks like a million bucks.

I thought my skirt was a good foil for the panda shirt. And vice versa. The neatness of the skirt keeps the slouchiness of the top from looking sloppy, and the ease of the t-shirt loosens up the skirt a bit.

I'm very pleased about my new panda shirt, not least of which because it set me back less than 30 bucks (Hooray!). I think I'm going to get a lot of wear out of it. For instance, if it ever, EVER gets to be actually COOL again around here again, I have plans to wear it with my red & black striped suit, among many other things. It was an impulse buy, but it was definitely the right impulse.

How about you guys? Anyone have an momentous fashion epiphanies or strokes of luck this weekend?

Images: Style Spy, sassychic.com, dailymail.co.uk

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Thumbelina Fashionista said...

Great top. I have been on the hunt for some good print tops. I'm waiting for D&G to release its fall line--so many nice Renaissance prints.

I'm a fan of BCBG and Max Azria (mostly the latter though). The prices are reasonable and the designs are pretty good!

Miss. Ore said...

i love the panda shirt i'm gona buy one now!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I've seen the photo before, but the position of the panda looks exactly like the World Wildlife Fund's logo. I admit I was skeptical about the shirt until I saw your outfit- you made it work!

dana said...

Welcome to the 80s revival. Seems as if even Style Spy is not immune. As I've noticed, those of us at a certain age are in a tricky spot. Too old to have missed it the first time around, but maybe too young to shun it altogether. I think you've done nicely!

r r s said...

I like the shirt, and I really like the skirt. I like BCBG; it's always on-trend, good quality, and affordable enough that I can buy it.

I noticed the other day that I have nothing but solids in my closet, too. I bought a patterned purple smocked top at good ol' Target for $20 over the weekend. So, now I have ONE patterned item.

Denise said...

I have to say, when I saw that panda shirt on the hangar, I had severe reservations. And then they were blown away by the photo of you in the shirt! Wow! Absolutely fabulous. And thanks for the photo of Beth Ditto. You're right: she's really wearing that dress well.

marjorie said...

what a great post. i gotta say i loathed the WWF (wildlife panda, not wrestling panda) shirt on sight, and could not IMAGINE it looking chic, but look at you!! i loved what you paired it with!! so cute, not vomitous. PLUS you have opened my eyes to the wonders of the bandage skirt/dress. i was edified in two diff ways by one post!

Sister Wolf said...

You look great! Whatever you're doing to look great, it's working.

Sian said...

I've always thought Beth Ditto looked fantastic in that dress. Works with the curves.

Robo said...

I giggled at the Newcastle comment, but that's just because I'll be living there for a year and know what you mean. That skirt really does flatter you -- well done!

My find for this weekend was a purple Miss Sixty wool trench/military style coat for $110 at Burlington Coat Factory. It has more pleats in the back to give it more of a frock-like feel on the bottom half. I daresay I'm set with my coat wardrobe for Newcastle.