Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sailing . . . Takes Me Away . . . with BYT

It gets the best of me
When I'm sailing
All caught up in the reverie
Every word is a symphony
Won't you believe me
- Christopher Cross, "Sailing"

Last Thursday I joined several hundred other water lovers and some of the winners of the recent "Best Dressed DC" mini-contest - sponsored by Propper Topper and Farinelli's - on the Odyssey for a night of drinks in plastic cups (boo!!) and quite a good time (yeay!). Note: Your author was able to convince one of the bartenders to mix her drinks in a reusable glass (She said, "we're not supposed to tonight, but okay." She got a big tip.) BYT organized the cruise (first picture of Odyssey sign by Chris Svetlik - find more of his photos from the night on the BYT site) as a way to toast the winners of the contest, many of whom were photographed and interviewed by BYT over the last few months. Check out the photos - especially my squeeze's pictures of U.S. Royalty, Tyler Larish and Carole Greenwood.

I was really inspired by the fashion choices that night - almost every one of the Best Dressed winners was wearing something vintage or something thrifted. Although the lighting was horrible for my little point and shoot, I took a few snaps of some pretty cool outfits and accessories. Unfortunately, the lighting made everybody's faces look, um, ragged, so, I, um, cut them out. But. I included links to much better photos of each person at BYT.

Anna Fuhrman (left), Owner, Proper Topper and Betsy Lowther, fashion writer and senior editor at Fashion Washington. Betsy is wearing a beautiful kimono, which she had shortened to be worn as a dress.
Here is Betsy's whole outfit (I swear, this is the only good picture of someone's head that I took that night.)

This is Holly Thomas, writer for the Washington Post. Her cute little jacket was a consignment find. Definitely read her interview at BYT. I think her description of the DC fashion scene is right on. On one had we have all the people who shop at Banana, J. Crew and Intermix and on the other hand we have people who actually give a shit. LOL. Just kidding (and she didn't say that - just my own interpretation!!). What I mean, of course, is that putting your look together from vintage and thrifted pieces takes some thought - you're not just buying the new spring line with that new hot color off the rack. It has to be more of a reflection of your own expression of style and take time and effort.

Eric Brewer, of Dissident Display, was looking razor sharp as always with his little vintage silk pocket scarf and shirt designed by his friend, Pranav Vora, of the company Hugh & Crye.

I had to snap a photo of Chris Burns' fabulous vintage Ocean Pacific down vest. He shared with me that he actually collects vintage OP items. Ahhh . . flashback to my pre-teen years and my favorite white corduroy OP shorts. Chris has some hot tattoos too - not your average koi and waves bullshit. He actually has some Keith Haring art on one of his forearms. I love me some Keith Haring.

And this red-hot lady is Carole Greenwood, chef, ex-co-owner of Comet Ping Pong, artist, musician, creative spirit . . . in a short, vintage dress.

Not sure if what Svetlana, one of the founders of BYT, was wearing was vintage, but it was pretty cool (and I love this shot).

Lastly, there's me. I bought this vintage, no label coat at Secondi last winter for about $60. I love it. I am also wearing my Obama hat, which some douchebag on the metro decided to mock. Luckily for him, I didn't notice until right before I got off the train - I can be pretty defensive of my President.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Vintage Dreams Will Come True (on February 27-28)

Betsy Lowther, fashion writer and the blogger behind Fashion is Spinach (and one of the DC-ers selected as "Best Dressed") is selling off some of her vintage clothing in a two-day pop-up shop at Proper Tooper in Georgetown.

Oh. My. Where's the credit card?!??!?

Here's her note about it with all the details.

"There comes a time in every fashionista's life where she looks at her wardrobe and says, 'When on earth did I acquire enough clothing to fill eleventythousand closets?' For me, this time is now. I have *so many* adorable vintage pieces that I just can't possibly wear/store/enjoy, and I've decided it's time to pare down.And so: Proper Topper has been delightfully kind enough to offer their adorable Georgetown store for a one weekend only Spinach Vintage Pop-Up Shop, Sat.-Sun. Feb 27-28. There will be dresses! And coats! And purses! And jackets! And some cute little housewares and such! And they will all be priced very, very low ($20ish for dresses, $10 for bags, $30 for coats... frankly, I don't have the space to bring it home again. So I'm not kidding when I say: Everything. Must. Go!)I'll be around all weekend to offer advice, styling tips and make sure all my cute '60s dresses go to happy, fashion-loving homes. We'll also be having champagne on Sat. from 11-3, and will also be keeping a stash of good stuff to put out just on Sunday, so you don't have to worry about missing all the best finds if you can't come before then.Stay tuned for some item previews over the next two weeks. Hope you can make it!*Although I certainly understand if those of you not in the D.C. area need to send your regrets."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My New Designer Crush: Raquel Allegra

Raquel Allegra is a LA-based fashion designer who designs drapey, diaphanous, asymmetric, Mad-Max goddess-like tunics and tops. In the post-apocalyptic world of Mad-Max, people were forced to reuse whatever was available for clothing, transportation, homes. Raquel Allegra's designs also focus on reuse (or, "upcycling") - she takes discarded tshirts from LA county jails and stretches and distresses them into these amazing one-of-a-kind designs. I want one!! Looking forward to a sale some time soon since the full priced versions are a bit steep. But still beautifully sustainable.

(Picture from Loft in Soho)

In the mood for DIY? Check out the tutorial from Childhood Flames (this process takes a long time!) But, to stay with the sustainability theme, please don't buy a new t-shirt!! Thrift one or steal one from your man. ; )

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cute Organic Stuff from Etsy

Found some great things on today - all hemp or organic cotton. Beautiful, simple designs that could easily become year-round staples of your wardrobe.

Hemp/organic cotton dress. Top can we worn as a hood! $165.

Hemp/organic cotton jersey hooded dress. I am totally obsessed with hoods! $115.

Hemp and organic cotton skirt. I ♥ this skirt! Obviously perfect for bike riding too! $128.

Organic cotton t-shirt. I love the screen-print. $20.

Organic cotton sateen dress. Dress it up or down! $95. Find it here.

Stretch Hemp dress! HOT! $185. Find it here.

Organic Flannel Secretary Blouse. Just want I need for this extra-chilly DC winter. $135. Made to your measurements here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen Leaves Us to Fend for Ourselves

(photo courtesy of

Just yesterday I posted one of Alexander McQueen's dresses and reflected on how much I loved his designs.

It seems he ended his own life at his home in London. How completely tragic - he was only 40!!! Below is my favorite piece from his Spring 2010 RTW.

And I'll never forget this spread in Vanity Fair of him and Isabella Blow (photo by David LaChapelle). I think this is the first time that I really noticed who he was.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Your Leather Leggings are Evil

For the last few seasons, I've been getting more concerned about the growing fashion trend for leather and feathers. Mind you, I think that the rocker-chic thang is great - I am a big fan of dark eyeliner, tight jeans and motorcycle boots, sprinkled with some vintage rhinestones.

Feathers have been used throughout history for accessorizing fashionable ladies, as you can see below in a painting by Thomas Gainsborough from 1777.

And some of the recent creations that have come off the runways have been just magical (I am thinking specifically of Alexander McQueen's red feather dress from his RTW FAll 2008 collection, which was featured, I think, in almost every fashion magazine that year). The photo below is from Harper's Bazaar (photo credit: Richard Burbridge). I just really love McQueen's aesthetic.

Anyway, if you have read this blog at all, you know that I am not a radical anti-leather, anti-meat person. For full disclosure, I have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years, but have been known, in moments of Italian-smoked-meat weakness, to indulge in some prosciutto. But rarely. And although I don't really like to wear real leather, I do have a small shoe-lust that does not exclude leather shoes. I also have used some vintage leather in a few jewelry designs.

But, back to the story at hand. I have never been into wearing leather except for shoes and a coat here and there. But, recently, on my first foray into Value Village (OMG! Who knew?) I came across a black leather Marc Andrew skirt for $10 (yes, that is what you can find at Value Village - totally awe-inspiring). I usually would not have bought a leather skirt, but the price and the recent deluge of leather fashion overtook my inhibitions. Since then, I have thought often about this skirt and the general trend toward animal by-products in fashion - so I decided to do some research . Here are my thoughts on this, in no particular order:

  1. Aren't leather/feathers just a by-product of the meat industry? I have always thought that most leather and feathers are a by-product of our society's ridiculous meat-centric diet. Isn't it better for us to use the remains of the animal instead of throwing it out? In a better world, more people would give up meat (since this would actually feed more people in the world and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental pollution), so there would be less leather/feathers. But, as leather/feathers become more fashionable and the demand for it increases, could it encourage more meat consumption (i.e., sell meat for less because you are getting more for the leather due to higher demand)? It would be an ugly cycle.

  2. Our meat industry is inhumane. It is true that our large-scale meat industry lacks ethics. Therefore, by wearing leather/feathers, we are supporting this. For instance, many goose feathers are actually plucked from live geese that are being raised for meat, but are too young to be killed for meat. I am sure this is painful.

  3. Some leather is NOT a by-product of the meat industry. According to several sources including, yes, PETA, some leather comes from cows raised specifically for their hides - though I am not sure what happens to the meat. Deer, alligators, crocodile, toads, ostriches, kangaroos, lizards, snakes and seals are also used for leather. In many countries, wild species killed for leather have no protection at all, they may be clubbed to death or caught in traps - quite painful ways to die.
  4. Leather production is toxic. The tanning process (which is the process that makes the hide soft and keeps it from decomposing) can involve cyanide, arsenic, and other chemicals linked with nervous disorders, asthma, skin and respiratory disorders, among others. Tanning produces waste, which is often dumped into the environment (esp. in China and India, the largest producers of leather, where environmental laws are only marginally enforced).
  5. Is pleather better? Well, it comes from petroleum, so it unnecessarily increases our dependence on oil. Also, PVC, a popular material for faux leather products, is incredibly toxic to manufacture. Polyurethane (PU) is considered better, but the manufacture of it still creates a lot of pollutants. Plus, neither will biodegrade and their decomposition will release toxic chemicals. Leather will biodegrade after about 40 years (depending on where it is since landfills are designed to keep things from decomposing), but will release chemicals as well when doing so.

  6. What about wearing vintage or thrifted leather/feathers? My only hesitation with this approach is that it promotes the wearing of these trends even more. Most people who see you will not know that what you are wearing is actually from your grandmom's attic or that you salvaged it from the $5 bin at a thrift store in Alabama. On the other hand, it is important to show that there is actually SO MUCH stuff already out there in the world - why do we always need to buy new things? There are plenty of NOT NEW things to fulfill your leather/feather dreams.

  7. You can get cruelty free feathers. It is possible to find people who sell feathers that have fallen naturally from their farm birds. Yes, these birds are probably being raised for their meat anyway (or at least for eggs), but at least they are not being plucked. Plus, many of these "cruelty-free" feather vendors are small-scale, therefore having less negative impacts on the environment and likely treating their animals in a humane way.

  8. Its the cumulative impacts, stupid. In essence, everything that we do is probably okay on a small scale. The problem comes when millions of people demand the same thing, it intensifies the various negative impacts of providing said thing on a smaller scale. For example, there is a big difference between a farmer raising cows for his own consumption and using the leather and the industrial meat and leather production industry.

I will be honest, I have gazed longingly at various leather leggings on sites like shopbop. I have. But, knowing what I do now, I won't buy any. But maybe I'll get a pair of PU ones - or find a pair of vintage pants and have them restyled. And perhaps I will wear my thrifted leather skirt again, but I will make sure to use it as a conversation starter about the many issues with leather production. And no feathers. I don't eat chickens, so I don't want to wear their feathers. (I mean I do, I do. But I won't.) As I have been, I will continue to reduce my new leather shoe consumption.

The most important piece, I think, is to be educated about where the things you buy come from.

But. I do wish more designers selected/bought into sustainable fashion trends (i.e., that don't involve numerous quantities of chemicals, environmental damage or mass execution of animals.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowed In . . . and the living is easy.

Yes, as you may have heard on the news, DC has gotten one of the biggest snowstorms in history - with more on the way. (I keep looking out my window for the first flakes of the second leg of this thing - there they go!)

But, today, what I really want to talk about is Timberland. Specifically, my Timberland Winnicut boots that I bought 1 week before the first big snow storm this year (right before the holidays in December). Every day of this snowy season, I have thanked the universe for these lovely, warm and waterproof boots. Which, on top of it all, are made with recycled materials by a company that has taken bold strides toward acknowledging and reducing their environmental footprint.

The rubber sole is made from 5% recycled rubber - which may not sound like much, but hardly any other mainstream company is using these types of materials! Almost 80% of Timberland's shoes feature at least some recycled and sustainable content like recycled rubber, hemp, recycled PET (from water bottles). Plus, all the packaging that the boots came in is made from recycled paper.

The boots are toasty warm with faux-fleece lining and have kept my toesies dry through not 1, not 2, but 3 snowfalls so far this season (geez, feel like I live in SD, not DC).
Timberland also has this new line called Earthkeepers, where they use more organic, recycled, and sustainable materials than in their other lines.

The point is this: mainstream companies can and should start integrating more sustainable materials into their products. Especially materials that are recycled since we have a lot of of waste and not a lot of place to put it.

Here I am putting these great boots to the test sledding at Meridian Hill Park:

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