Spiked Vanilla

how to wear jeans

This morning, it took me about 10 minutes from start to finish to get dressed knowing full well that my creative prowess is at it’s lowest on a Friday morning at 7am. I put on a white turtleneck, black jeans, black booties, and a black leather jacket, my standard uniformready to face the thrills and chills of another winter’s day.

For the record, I tried other options while sipping my morning juice. I put on fringe boots, but there was too much dancing going on south of my ankles. I put on a crop top. Nope, too freaking cold for that. I took off the heeled booties, and switched to those white standard sneakers I have been obsessed with, creating a boring blank look, devoid of all expressions.

This so-called blank look was mimicking the anti-style movement, or the “divorced dad” look (decked in REI and Crocs). Is this the vanguard of fashion darlings right now? To say that I was dressing intentionally to look like Larry David or Seinfeld, the sitcom about nothing, might be falling short. I just want to be comfortable, and exude an air of je ne sais quoi about what I put on. But instead, I was falling into a generic (for those in the know, I pray to the Céline tribe) trap.

It is not Times Square tourist’s fault. It is normcore’s fault. For the record, I don’t have an affinity for 90’s dressing, I lived in the Mall loud and clear and don’t want to relive it.

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Normcore is a fashion trend, pure and simple, and like most fashion trends it’s a riposte to the styles that came before it. While the spirit of “normcore” is intended to evoke understated expressionism, these rather deliberate choices in aesthetic ‘normalcy’ lead me to feel as though these outfits choices spilling all over the internet often fall flat; dull, contrived and au contraire, full of effort.

In my closet, I have far more inspiring pieces than plebeian sweatpants and sneakers and nondescript hoodies or mom jeans and unassuming flat boots. Sure, those items are currently de rigeur but after the novelty wears off — and it wears off quickly — they’re also decidedly boring. But isn’t any trend or non-trend an indication that no matter the garment, we all have something to express through our fashion choices?

Even by adopting the normcore style, one is in fact making a statement regarding their choices, likes, levels of comfort.  And while many are quick to blame the commercialization of fashion and streetstyle for the new war on the antithesis of normcore, I’m sure we can all agree that dressing up is not only more fun and exciting, but also much more pleasing to the eye. I changed and paired this simple white shirt and jeans with a plaid top, a grey blazer, and a tweed coat just to make a statement about making a non-hipster statement. What? Consider this a plea to opt-out of any named trend as I’m not boring vanilla ice cream.

plaid top

plaid top

tweed coat

tweed coat

Photos: Lydia Hudgens

Shop the look:

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Hitting the Sale Rack

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Trendy Tevas

I remember back in the 1990’s when I attended overnight camp, Teva Sandals were more popular than Céline Birkenstocks are now. I went to the local store and purchased them, and where the legions of ugly shoes are small but notorious—Teva’s are the predecessor to the Crocs, Vibram Five Fingers, and Uggs, these rubber-soled ones were just a good-intentioned velcro sandal. I wore them for several months even into the school year, and although they were ugly as sin, there was nothing besides bare feet, that were more insanely comfortable. It wasn’t until all of that pond scum caused their porous rubber and flimsy Velcro to decompose—an annual end-of-summer occurrence that any Nineties child could recall with grotesque distinction — that I had to throw them out.

But that was then, and now fast forward to Spring 2014, Prada, Rag & Bone, and Tibi are throwing in the towel and chiming in.  Fancied by recreational hikers and dads on holiday, Teva has been relegated to the very end of the “practical versus pretty” spectrum. Until now, that is. Lower, flatter shoes make a comeback in recent years, with outdoors-y details and utilitarian styles looking nearly—dare we say—cute in recent seasons. Heck, even Chloë Sevigny has taken to Birkenstocks. For quite some time now, the fashion industry has been on a trickle down theory. Think last season’s Birkenstock craze. Fast fashion is grabbing what they can from top designers and “interpreting” it for the mass market. Of course, one walk through Zara and H&M and it is still happening. Think #Normcore.

But what’s new in this landscape is this role reversal that top-tier designers are playing on the copycats. More and more, they are borrowing silhouettes and concepts from the streets and reinterpreting them for the luxury market. Let’s call it a trickle up theory. BirkenstocksVans, Tom’s, Chinatown bags a la Céline, garbage bags from Lanvin, and plastic pearl headphones around your neck are all chanting “Started from the bottom now we’re here.” Here being at Celine, Givenchy, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Marni and Chanel.  Here is Prada’s version of the Tevas. Whoh..whoa…whoa…

Prada spring 2014

Prada spring 2014

Rag & Bone elevated rope-strap sandals onto a thick, black platform. Hilfiger took his Tevas to the beach, fabricating Velcro-strap shoes in an array of sherbet colors. And Marc Jacobs, true to form, took a distinctively downtown approach to Teva’s reinvention: pairing black-satin strap sandals with a 1890′s take on dark fashion. Here is Marc Jacobs’s vision.

Marc Jacobs

There is no doubt that Tevas still have entered into the proverbial limelight. The ultimate purveyor of vomiting quick-trends, Urban Outfitters is selling these for $40, and they are flying out like hot cakes. 

And for my oh-so-amazing styling challenge series, I fashioned six pair that put the Teva to the test.

Teva Sandals

From left down the column 1. 2. 3: Marc Jacobs // Teva // Prada // Marni // Balenciaga // Rachel Zoe sandals

You tell me, would you try these on for size? Happy hiking!

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Those Giant Pearls

Since fashion month has recently departed, what is left is the layers and layers of designs/ trends that are left to dissect. What is sent down the runway each season though may not always be the most practical for IRL situations. Here’s the thing. Where matters of Céline is concerned, I turn to Zara for the look for less since spending upwards of $1500 on a top isn’t in my budget. I stick to the basics for my daily uniform including striped shirts and jackets, wide-leg pants, and sheer tops.

But sometimes all that can be a tad boring or shall we say vanilla ice cream? And I am a bit more chocolate chip mint, ya know what I mean? As far as what makes a bold statement, and what constitutes editorial gold, the subject of Chanel and bold accessories (logos, chains, et. al) always arises with a bang. When Chanel came out with these oversized speakers that are actually pearls? The Kaiser never fails to impress.

For me personally, it’s the combination of mixing high and low that pulls me out of my comfort zone, and leads me to experiment with existing pieces in my closet with the new looks that I crave.

Chanel bag

Zara coat

tibi cotton shirt // rag & bone black jeans // ZARA coat get a similar one at whistles // topshop lace-trim ankle socks //miu miu metallic-top slip-ons sneakers // chanel bag // kate spade ribbon belt

Chanel bag

And what about my true admiration and trying to approximate this look featuring Lindsey Wixon in the spring 2014 Chanel ads.

Lindsey Wixon

oversized pearls

Yes?

No? I needed red lipstick!

Maybe?

oversized pearls

zara necklace

It seems safe to say this trend of giant pearls is just getting started. We can only hope the fashion world has an ample supply of humongous oysters from which to harvest them.

Miu Miu sneakers

Get the look here:

photos: Lydia Hudgens 

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Chanel Fall 2014

Leave it to Karl for the biggest spectacle of the fashion season. For a man who never dabbles in the banal, obsessed with the modern, and love of pop culture, the Kaiser erected his very own mega shopping mart for Chanel this season. Highly anticipated and always outdoing himself, for his fall collection there were aisles brimming with Chanel-branded pasta (carbs!), soda, meats (a very cleverly packaged “Jambon Cambon”) cleaning products, home goods, and even a Chanel broom and doormat.

Watch the 2 minute video below, in English, and weigh in on Chanel’s extravagant grocery store theme.

 

 

 

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From Paris

Fashion is not all smoke and mirrors. This past weekend in Paris brought a bevy of  sure-to-be copied looks and focused on the conceptual avant-garde — the stranger and wilder the looks, the better. Only a few designers could take the fashion industry’s breath away by the way they place a flower on a lapel, draping on a sleeve, the fringe on a coat. These heavy hitters including Céline, ChloéGivenchy, and Kenzo presented collections that are surely going to inspire a craze or two next fall.

Here are my top looks, so far, from the city of light.

1. Céline

The looks on Céline‘s catwalk featured sleek, thirties-styled tailoring, and double-breasted closings gone wild. The thirties were on Philo’s mind when she was first thinking about the collection, especially women like Hannah Höch and Lee Miller, who were pivotal figures in the Dada and surrealist art worlds.  The new, sinewy silhouette was complemented by soon-to-be-coveted knockout accessories: a single statement earring, a bold colorful cuff, and an oversize tangerine fur muff.

Céline

Céline Fall 2014

2. Chloe

Fall excursions for Clare Waight Keller’s Chloé  are often a swing between soft and hard, the girlish and the boyish. But this Fall there was perhaps an injection of a new element: something wild. The coherence and boyish discipline, together with the pretty-prettiness of Chloé, was given an additional jolt with the wild and woolly today. See this leopard fur coat with strips of marigold and ruby fur worn over an ivory fringed dress. The bag tucked underneath the arm exudes just enough nonchalance. Love the  great new bags and enticing outerwear.

Chloe

3. Acne

One of the reasons I love what Acne does, is mastering the perfect sweater and that they did. Sweater dressing is the season’s hot topic, and Acne had ideas to contribute, including ribbed knits that draped the body like beach towels. Take note of the large pom-pom hat you will find on heads everywhere next season.

Acne Studios

4. Stella McCartney

It’s official: Chunky knit pajama-style pants are one of fall’s key trends and Stella is giving her customer what she knows and loves. Borrowed from the worlds of sport and loungewear, I love the zipper detailing and embroidery on her oh-so-sexy clothes, stirrup pants, and those flatforms are back with a vengeance. I can’t think of a better way to start your day– put on your fringe and dance!

Stella McCartney

 

 

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These Jeans

fringe jeans

Junya Watanabe jeans // Costume National mules

Image via W magazine

After furiously scrolling the internet to find street style looks from London and Paris to emulate, I found this picture and then fell into a rabbit hole in a mad search for these fringed jeans. The must-have embellishment for the upcoming spring season is fringe and these pair of jeans are on my must-have wish list. Now you don’t have to be a granola loving, earth-loving kind of gal (though what is more chic than being eco-friendly) to pull of this trend. Frankly, I don’t see myself spending over $700 on a pair of jeans anytime soon. I am on a jeans cleanse.

So, if you, like me, have wanted to start wearing fringe on steroids, why don’t you high tail it over to your nearest craft store, buy a yard or two of fringe  and take the fate of your imminently future style cues into your own hands with a DIY that seems impossible to screw up.

There will be many replicates coming soon to a blog near you and it’s certainly worth a try. But if you’re not creatively inclined, go for the real deal.

Shop it here:

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Age-Defying Hair Care

It’s a common fact of life that us ladies have it harder when it comes to hair, especially as we get older. If you’re a man, showering and getting a cut is as hard as it gets. And if it turns out you’re balding, you just shave your head and that’s that. You won’t have to worry about shampoo ever again!

On the other hand,  we look at our bathroom shelves and they’re a mess — shampoos, conditioners, serums, masks and oils and we’re still not fully happy. And that’s because we want our hair to be exactly what we imagine it can be — supple, long and shiny.

Looking at fierce ladies such as Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep, it seems like nothing’s impossible. Hair doesn’t have to grow old with us.

But the question is: are we on the right track with all the products or should we change it up a bit? Here’s the scoop on age defying hair.

Stop torturing your hair

healthy hair

When you’re 20, a pony tail is often enough. But at 40, you probably feel the need for control. You have to know exactly what your hair will look like and that usually involves a good measure of heavy styling.

Would you be surprised to learn that styling is one of the worst things you can do to your hair? Probably not. But keep in mind: if it’s silky locks you’re looking for, getting a perm will kill the mere thought of it.

This is partially because heat damage is bad for hair, and mainly because the follicle function diminishes with age, which means you don’t have too good a material to work with in the first place.

Feed it protein!

To make your hair look better, omega-3 works best. Fatty acids in salmon, flax seeds and dark green leafy vegetables should be on your menu, because they’re a good source of protein, vitamins A and C, which the follicles use to produce sebum, which in turn keeps your hair moisturized.

Don’t skip the eggs, poultry or beans either, as they are a good sources of protein too.

Eating enough as opposed to starving yourself is not only good for your health, it’s also good for your hair, which gets the benefits of a natural conditioner without the actual silicone-heavy product.

Nature’s path leading to the supermarket

coconut

As it turns out, conditioner and hair masks aren’t necessarily good for your hair.

Silicone, a common ingredient in conditioners, is responsible for keeping moisture away and weighing your locks down, and that’s just one of the problems. If you’re worried about your products, you might consider not using products at all. Try switching to a natural routine and see how that works. The rule of thumb is using only ingredients that you can safely eat.

And the winner ingredient is definitely coconut oil. The hype about it is spawning all over the internet and not without reason. It turns out that coconut oil is actually a keeper. In fact, people are actually considering replacing all of their beauty products with it. The results are surprising to say the least.

In the world of hair, coconut oil is successfully used as a nighttime mask or conditioner and it works well with damaged hair. It’s even used to minimize damage from bleaching!

If you have super fine hair, coconut oil might be a bit too much for you, so try something organic, but light, like EO or Nyr Organic.

Stop the invisible damage

 One of the main causes of lifeless hair as we get old (plus other nasty problems, like a bad complexion) is inflammation.

“I believe that inflammation is negative for the hair follicle, that it can accelerate stress shedding and compromise growth,” Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist in New York told the NY Times. This is not the first time we’ve heard about inflammation, but it’s definitely the first time the focus is on the hair.

With that in mind, a healthy diet that includes pomegranates, avocado, pumpkin, mint, turmeric and rosemary could help, although the story is much longer than that and it involves stress, lack of exercise, chronic infections and many more.

In the end, it seems that we can never get away from the whole healthy lifestyle thing. There’s no miracle cure for bad hair and we should know that at our age. Everything is connected, so let’s just start with the little things – better food, more natural cosmetics and a bit of exercising on the side.

In the end, life isn’t all about the hair. But good hair is sure fun to have.

Gwen Lewis is a freelance writer who lives in Southern California. She currently works with Fair & Flawless as well as other beauty and health websites. In her free time she loves to do crafts and hike.

 

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Couture Fashion Week 2014

At the very end of New York Fashion Week I made my way to The New Yorker for Couture Fashion Week. The annual event is sponsored by Emirates Airlines, who is now flying between New York and Milan. The event I attended showcased 3 brands:  Yasmine Studio, 3zehn, and Pedram Couture. Between each show was a song by an opera, which was both entertaining and surprising. Though technological problems caused the show to run late,   the looks that appeared down the runway were unique, and it was nice to see designers being represented from around the world.

1. Yasmine Studio

As soon as looked started coming down the runway, it was clear that the focus was on coats. Underneath, models wore simple black t-shirts, leggings and black heels. The first couple coats gave a nod to the designer’s New York education at the Fashion Institute of Design. My favorite coat by far was the all black one, especially with its cinched waist and leather accents. Currently, the brand is based in Nepal, which is evident in the printed coats sent down the runway. Coats of all shapes and colors appeared, but my favorites were the ones with huge collars and red accents.

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2. 3zehn

Though 3zehn’s creator Kristin Zimmerman hails from Germany, the collection was clearly more influenced by Spanish culture. The entire collection was black and white, which was a plus for me. This collection was not for the fainthearted, every look was more body-hugging or revealing than the next. However, most looks managed to stay classy and beautiful.

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Is the leotard underneath a sheer gown a new trend?!

See: Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. Discuss in the comments!

3. Pedram Couture

Pedram Pasha Taheri has Persian roots, and a background in Interior Design. This collection contained the most looks that coincided with the trends of today. Metallic and fur made appearances. Hair was old-school Hollywood and complemented the collection nicely. My favorite look was a backless, polka-dotted gown. Overall this was my favorite collection.

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Overall, the show was very good. Suggested improvements would be starting as close to on time as possible (fashion shows run notoriously late but over an hour is a little excessive), and to give the models shoes they can actually walk in. Flats anyone?

Written by Sarah Murray. Edited by Stephanie Unter.

All photos taken with an iPhone.

 

 

 

 

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Dries Van Noten Fall 2014

Dries Van Noten

Image via W Magazine

Dries, Dries, electric Dries. Audacious, powerful, with an injection of Op-Art graphics, Van Noten never fails to twist the lid on rendering a first-rate collection that was fun, bold, and colorful yet executed oh-so-carefully.

It was a winsome combination of optic stripes, metallics, and flowers with integrated athletic references intensely layered onto hyper-focused clothes with an unmistakable menswear dash. And I am officially obsessed.

See the full collection here from  Style.com.

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