Sunday, March 29, 2015

An ode to funky shoes ...

Oh funky shoes,
those with platforms and rhinestones
pleather, feathers, zippers,
those that "talk" to my cell phone.

Where were you when I was 16
or 22, or even 33 years old?
My foot was much smaller then
I had gorgeous feet then, I'm told.

But no, you had to enter my life
at the same exact time frame
as bunions, blisters, callouses,
and things I'd rather not name.

But still, I love seeing you on e-bay
would love to buy you just the same
walk the red carpet, you matched perfectly
to my couture dress and unintended fame.

No, I dare not buy a pair of funky shoes
Lest, my sister viciously accuse me
of trying too hard to recapture my youth
and expose my true age for the world to see.

I show my age truthfully, gracefully
wear what is true, and not "rad"
go traditional, stylish, elegant
Chose classic over passing fad. Sigh ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It takes a fashionable village … part two

It's official, I'm a snob. A bespoke snob. I can't help it! When you shop at ready to wear places which think all women are herded into a few categories of small, medium, large, etc., then have a dress tailor made (bespoke if you will), there is a tendency to become a bespoke snob.

I just went to the movie Kingsmen in which there is a scene between Merlin (actor, Mark Strong) and the young, street-smart, wanna-be spy Eggsy (actor, Taron Egerton). Eggsy asks Merlin, "do you think the suit will fit?" Merlin replies to the absolutely absurd question with, "A bespoke suit always fits."

In part two of my "fashion village" analogy let me introduce you to the bespoke and couture designers of DC Fashion Week's Trunk Show which was held in Arlington March 21.

MAKASON: Maryland -- African designs with contemporary western flare using gorgeous, unique fabrics. 

- Sera Vero Nik: DC -- Lovely African-inspried clothing by designer Fruwah Boma Chapman, a military spouse and mom.

SJB Millinery: Virginia -- Beautiful one-of-a-kind headpieces and hats for lovely, discerning people.

Styles by Hakeemah: DC -- A hijab designer and modesty fashion blogger/stylist creating stunning yet modest women's fashions.

Svelte Couture: DC -- Stunning couture and ready-made styles for every woman. 

B. Benton by BrittanyDC -- Classy couture made for the chic woman for comfort, luxury and practicality.

ITES INTERNATIONAL: New York -- Irresistible Reggae, Rastafarian and African inspired clothing. 

ItsyBitsy Swim: DC -- Fresh, unique swim styles that bring the Caribbean to you.

LAMESA: Maryland -- Incredibly comfortable and stylish organic cotton clothing for the eco-friendly fashion minded. 

Leighel Desiree: DC -- Fabulous fashion creations for men and women using a vast array of colors.

Magnum UnderwearDC --  Designed by a former NASA engineer, these men's underwear are scientifically engineered for maximum comfort. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It takes a fashionable village … part one

I always knew it took a village to raise children but never thought the same concept would apply to fashion. I was privileged to be able to attend the DC Fashion Week (DCFW) Designers Trunk Show March 21 and found this little cliche to be absolutely true. It takes not only the designers who create gorgeous clothes to dress the fashionable, it takes all the members of the fashion village (as I like to call it).  Browsing the booths at the DCFW Trunk Show vendor's fair, I got wonderful fashion advice nuggets from seasoned professionals in the "Fashion village". Here are a few of my favorites:

The jewelry experts:
Kerem Kabatas, owner of Ke Bella (handmade jewelry from Turkish artisans), who reminded me that jewelry can be delicate and make a statement.
Doniele Ayres, a consultant with TraciLynn Jewelry (unique and vibrant creations), who said jewelry must be "fun, affordable and fashionable."
Tarsha Howard, owner of ToRaDiMo Jewelry (named for Tarsha's daughter), explained that "her creations were global elegance because they offer something for everyone."
LaNorma Huggins-Hopes, owner of Signatures by LaNorma (handcrafted one-of-a-kind loveliness), instilled the thought that couture jewelry need not have a couture price tag.
Kristin Biggs, independent stylist at Stella & Dot (she also goes by "Star Stylist"), claims that DCFW is like a family as she has participated in the show for years and its always wonderful meeting new people and helping them pick just the right piece of jewelry for their style.

The Accessory Gurus:
Cola Key, CEO of Shade Whore Boutique (yes, that really is her name and that really is the store's name -- fun, huh?),  said "We are trendy for less for the everyday chic" and was shameless when she reminded me that its ok to be a sunglasses whore. What kind of whore did you think I meant? Get your mind out of the gutter!
Michelle Hart, owner of House of Mimi (also known as Mimi the Maverick), is living proof that fashionable people are charitable people. Not only does Mimi sell fabulous scarves, glasses, jewelry and trinkets but she hosts a contest each year that gives an at-risk young lady (who is is doing really well in school academically) an entire prom wardrobe and even outfits the girl's date! "We need to let these girls who are excelling academically that the community cares."
Kelly Cole, owner of Accessorize Your Look (who had a snake necklace that I better get for Christmas, hint, hint), really made a huge impression on me. When asked if her items were handmade, she replied honestly, "it is handmade, just not by my hands." Being able to trust my fashion gurus is paramount and Kelly won my business!

There is always one unique village member who marches to the beat of their own drum. That is usually me, but at the DCFW Trunk Show vendor's fair it is Julie Jay Dawson. She designs whimsical things like cherry blossom trees and ladies wearing hats (you know she won me over with that one) and places her designs on linens, tablecloths, tote bags, shirts and wall paper. She is a surface pattern designer and artist whose skills are certainly going to take the fashion village by storm!

Tune in next time when I introduce you to the clothing designers of DCFW Trunk Show!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Testing your hat-iquette

Last month (Feb. 21 to be exact), I was thrilled to see hats on the catwalk of DC Fashion Week ( Not only do I think hats still have a place in our fashionable society but I believe they are one of the last few symbols of elegance and grace in a world that allows jeans and sweat pants to be used as evening gala attire. But how much do you know about hats? Take this quiz to see if you truly have a "hat head".

1) Which milliner (hat maker) was considered the first celebrity fashion designer?
2) Name the Queen of England's favorite milliner?
3) Which famous clothing designer had humble beginnings in millinery?
4) What was John Batterson Stetson's claim to fame?
5) Where would you see people wearing a hat named a "mortarboard"?
6) What is the French equivalent to the Scottish "Tam O 'Shanter" hat?
7) What does the Ascot Racecourse (in England) say about women's headwear at the races?
8) What is the difference between a hat and a fascinator?
9) Which style of hat is immortalized by Jackie Kennedy when she was the first lady?
10) At what time in history was the "cloche" hat (think Downton Abbey fame) invented and at its peak of popularity?

1) Marie-Jeanne Rose Bertin, milliner and costumer of Marie Antoinette.
2) Philip Somerville, who died at age 84 in possession of many personal letters from the Queen.
3) Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel.
4) He invented the cowboy hat in the 1860s, he was also a philanthropist who gave most of his money to charities, built schools and donated to the community.
5) At a college graduation.
6) The beret (FYI, the Tam O 'Shanter hat is named for a character in a Robert Burns poem).
7) There are rules at Ascot that state: "Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of four inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat."
8) A fascinator is a small headpiece that attaches to the head via a comb, headband or clip while a hat is a full head covering with a brim (can be small or large) that extends from the forehead and was originally intended to shield the eyes from sun and the elements. 
9) The pillbox, a type of fascinator (some say its a "hatinator" or a cross between a hat and fascinator).
10) The 1920s.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My favorite fashion things ...

Sung to the tune of (The Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things")

Rain boots with colorful butterflies on them
Copper tweed pencil skirts with black fur-trimmed hem
Brown velvet hats that are fit for a king
These are a few of fashion's favorite things

Cream colored cardigans as soft as the fur of a kitten
White shirtwaist dresses with tiny pearl buttons
Lacy satin slips that dare-not to cling
These are a few of fashion's favorite things

Oxblood leather boots leaf pile jumping in fall
Discreet little black dresses that don't bare all
Tasteful, simple bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings
These are a few of fashion's favorite things

When the sale ends
When the size doesn't fit
When I'm feeling unfashionable
I simply remember fashion's favorite things
And then I don't feel so terrible

For those who want to see the original lyrics to the song:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What is fashion?**

I love fashion. Let me clarify -- I love "MY" fashion. I like to dress up, I like to mix and match colors,  I like the classics, I like the futuristic, I like quality fabrics, and I love accessories (hats, gloves, purses, jewelry, etc.). My favorite color is wedgewood blue and I love tailor made clothes -- mainly because I don't like seeing 10 of the same dress (the one I might be wearing at the time) at the same party. But most of all, I like to look nice. I don't always look as nice as I would like -- when I head into work, I throw on grubby clothes to ride the bus or train and then change into nice clothes at work (mainly because I'm afraid of sitting in gum on a bus seat or breaking a heel on the train platform). But for the most part, I like to look good for me, not anyone else, but for me. I like my body, my face, my mind and my personality and wouldn't change a hair on my head (well, maybe the gray ones). In fact, I think I'm lovely. That isn't conceit, its self appreciation.

But what I don't appreciate is other people telling me what the word "fashion" means. Just look at the cover of any magazine on the newsstand at the grocery store or street corner.

"Blue is the new black"*
"Mini skirts are 'in' again"*
"Big hair is making a comeback"*
"Slim down so you too can wear the fashionable catsuit"*
"If you aren't wearing leggins this fall, you are wrong"*
and on, and on, and on …

Who the Hell gets to decide what my fashion looks like? Vogue? Cosmo? WWD? Elle? New York Fashion Week? I don't know about you but I consider myself relatively intelligent. I would give a woman that "look" if she tried to tell me how to do my day-to-day job at my office. Who does she think she is telling me how to do my job? Bitch, I know how to do my job -- I wouldn't actually SAY that, but I would definitely give her the "look" that implied precisely that! And yet, we allow the people who produce fashion magazines, websites, blogs, TV shows, podcasts, runway shows, etc. to TELL us what fashion is or is not. Some of these people have never even seen the inside of a design college or own a sewing machine.

I'm not talking about the instructional videos on how to tie a scarf or apply eye makeup. I'm not even talking about the who tell you what not to wear so you won't get laughed at. I'm certainly not talking about some lesser-known clothing designers who make beautiful things because its what they love to do and take pride in offering quality goods (you don't often see these people demanding that you wear their clothes). I'm talking about the fashion industry and big brands that looks down its nose at us normal people and says "you must wear this to be fashionable." We women have been allowing other people to tell us what is "in" and what is "out" for centuries. Why? We have brains in our heads, we can make educated decisions for ourselves. So, why do we stress over what someone else tells us is "fashion"? Who cares if you wear crop jeans with stilettos and bomber jacket? Is it clean? Do you like the way you look in it? Are you showing your private bits to the world? Yes, Yes, no (hopefully you said no to showing your private bits). Fine, then that's your fashion and you go for it!

My blog will not be about making fun of anyone (other than me, myself and I at times). And it most certainly will not be about telling anyone how to dress or what to wear. Who am I to judge anyone (something about living in glass houses and throwing stones)? My blog is going to be about what I like and what I think is fashion. If you like what I like, that's great. If you don't like what I like, that's fine too. And if you like what I don't like, that is perfectly ok. Because you know what? We -- you (whoever is reading my blog) and me -- are not brainless lemmings. We can decide what we like, what looks good on us and what we think is fashionable without some overpaid pusher of a $10,000 purse and $45,000 yard of fabric they call a dress telling us we "NEED" to have a certain item of clothing/accessory in order to be accepted, loved, appreciated or "in" (i.e. fashionable).

So, there you have it. Next week, I'll dive into my closet to show you some of my favorite beautiful (of course this is my opinion, which is what this blog is all about -- having an opinion and thinking for myself) things. Until then, think for yourself and ask, "what is MY fashion"?

Happy thinking,
The Non-Fashionista

* These are all fictional headlines, but you get my point.
** This is a repost of a blog I wrote in October 2014 for another blog site, "Define Fashion".