WTFashion: How do I wear the floppy felt hat?

An accessory that I am personally excited about is the floppy hat. Inspired by iconic 1970s bombshells like Jane Birkin, Faye Dunaway, and Brigitte Bardot (pictured above), the floppy hat takes the best of that era’s cool look and lets us incorporate it into our own. Not only is the design universally flattering, but you can wear the hat year-round. So if it’s one of those summer days where you don’t feel like styling your hair, keep it tousled and throw on a felt floppy hat. Here are some ideas to get your started.

Top image via RunwaysandWardrobes

Images via Premiere, SaucyGlossie, CHICTOPIAWrinkledChiffon

Fabric Facts: What’s So Great About Silk?

Ahhh, silk — the mere thought of it makes our fashion senses tingle. Silk first began delighting people in 2640 BCE, when according to Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi became interested in silk worms and learned how to reel the silk and weave it into fabric. In the 3,000 or so years since, silk has became synonymous with luxury. But with so many synthetic alternatives available, why should you splurge on the real thing?

Iconic Silk Scarves by Hermes

The International Silk Association of the United States touts the tagline: “Only Silk is Silk.” And if you’ve ever worn a polyester blouse made to look like silk, you know this is true. Imitation fibers are prone to static, stick to your body and lack silk’s natural luster and drape. Here are a few more reasons silk is often imitated but never duplicated:

  • easily dyed and printed in brilliant colors
  • inimitable natural luster
  • moderate abrasion resistance; one of the strongest natural fibers
  • sheer fabrics are cool in the summer while heavier fabrics are warm in the winter
  • available in a variety of fabrics that can be used for apparel and furnishings
  • smooth, soft and not irritating to the skin
  • natural and renewable resource
  • good absorbency
  • moderate resistance to wrinkling
  • seldom shrinks during care

Silk is so wonderful that many people attribute the development of the manufactured fiber industry to the ongoing desire to emulate silk at a lower cost.

Do you splurge on silk or opt for synthetic alternatives? 

Info Source: Kadolph, Sara J. Textile Tenth Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2007. Print.
Image Source: Vogue.com

Design School: The Origin of TOMS Shoes

It seems today that everyone knows about TOMS and loves them. While the philanthropic business model is both innovative and admirable, the design of the easygoing slip-ons, called alpargatas, has been around for centuries.

The founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie got the idea for the design while on a polo trip to Argentina, where it is common for polo players to slip on their alpargatas after matches. The alpargata is a form of espadrille that came out of the Basque region of Spain and France. Its origins are said to have started from the Ancient Egyptian sandal and altered by the Romans, who added full coverage to the top. Akin to the espadrille, the original alpargatas were made with woven jute and canvas.

While Argentina is one of the most prevalent locations to find alpargatas. The design is an import from Spain and was spread by Basque immigrants that landed in Argentina.  From there it was the Argentine gaucho (or cowboy), who loved the comfortable fit and easy design, that spread the look as they traveled. Today alpargatas can be found in the native dress of many South American countries.

Images: TOMS Shoes (above); an Argentine man wearing traditional garb, including alpargatas.

Sources: Alpargatas, Herald-Tribune, Paez Shoes

Image Sources: Toms.com and Vogue Italia

Runway to Everyday: Metal Cap-Toe Pumps

The classic pump gets stronger each season (studs, anyone?), so it’s only natural that Spring 2012 brought the addition of metal cap toes. We’re especially smitten with the pointed silhouettes Marc Jacobs sent down the Louis Vuitton runway — but the $1,000+ price is a little steep. Luckily, we found similar metal/metallic styles on some of our favorite shopping sites.

Everyday Styles: Topshop Lilac PumpASOS Black Pump, Topshop Neutral FlatVince Camuto Snake-Print Pump, Calvin Klein Yellow-Toe PumpASOS Floral Pump

Which pair is your favorite? (We’re especially partial to the floral print!)

 Runway Image Source: Style.com

Fashion History: How The LBD Came to Be Popular

The Chanel “Ford” the frock that all the world will wear is model 817 of black crepe de chine. The bodice blouses slightly at the front and sides and has a tight bolero at the back. Especially chic is the arrangement of tiny tucks which cross in front. Imported by Saks.

The picture and text above appeared in an October issue of American Vogue in 1926. While the style transformation was not immediate, this Chanel editorial piece is credited as the first to define the Little Black dress, simply known as the LBD.

Every lady is familiar with the power of the LBD. It’s the go-to look that you know will fit the occasion. It’s slimming and always suits the occasion. Vogue described it as the “‘Ford’ of the frock” alluding to the universal popularity of Henry Ford’s motor car that was prevalent at the time.

Coco Chanel was forward thinking in her use of jersey (because of its low cost) and simple silhouettes. As a never-married, business-savvy woman, Chanel championed a new kind of woman who was self-efficient. In fact, when Christian Dior’s New Look, which featured waist-cinching, A-line-cut silhouettes, became popular, Chanel felt they were old-school and not suitable for the post-war ‘liberated’ woman. In turn, she pushed her simple, boxy silhouette and pant looks. Today she is often credited with getting the woman out of the corset. Simplicity was key to her, even focusing her wardrobe on neutral black, white, and tan colors. All of these distinguishing characters make it fitting that Chanel would be the designer who eventually began the concept of the go-with-anything, perfect-for-any-occasion, go-to dress. And the rest, really, is history.

Sources: Voguepedia and Metropolitan Museum

Image and Source from OnThisDayinFashion.com

 

WTFashion: 3 Strangly Beautiful Looks that Stuck with Us

Whether it’s stunning statement makeup or exaggerated shapes and silhouettes, Fashion Week never fails to thrill. But each time, there are a few collections that truly take us by surprise. Here are 3 of our favorite strangely beautiful looks from recents seasons.

Anne Demeulemeester Fall 2012

The shades of blue and black were luxuriously saturated, but the models’ hair was even more captivating. Stylist Eugene Souleiman intermixed feathers and spikes for a punk meets Navajo warrior look. The effect meshed perfectly with Demeulemeester’s Fall themes: construction, shape, and architecture.

Junya Watanabe Spring 2011

Junya Watanable offset feminine seaside styles with neon wigs and face-obscuring masks in his Spring 2011 collection. The masks, which the models held in place with their teeth, were meant to resemble dolls that have not yet had their faces painted on.

Comme des Garcons Spring 2011

Rei Kawakubo drew inspiration from multiple personalities for Spring 2011. The clothes were topsy-turvy, even accented with institutional stripes and straight jacket straps. But what seems chaotic at first becomes carefully thought out upon closer inspection, and we definitely respect that.

Do you like outlandish runway looks, or do you prefer designs that easily translate to real life?

Image Source: Style.com

Keeping Current: Summer 2012 Olympic Designer Uniforms

Let the games begin! One of the most exciting moments of the Olympic games are the opening and closing ceremonies. For decades, countries have worn special tailor-made uniforms and walked together holding their flags high. Every olympic games has a few uniforms made by famous designers and the London games are no exception. Here’s a look at a few of the best known designers who had the honor of dressing their home country’s 2012 olympians.

Giorgio Armani with Italian olympians in his designs.

Stella McCartney with members of the Great Britain olympic team in her designs.

Which designer’s looks would you give the gold?

Fashion History: The First Bikini

It wasn’t the first (technically) and it won’t be the last, but the picture above shows the first bikini designed by Louis Reard on July 5, 1946. Considered scandalous because the low waistline revealed the navel, Reard could only find nude dancer Micheline Bernardini to model his design.

Four days earlier on July 1, the U.S. Army had conducted nuclear test at the Pacific island Bikini Atoll. Hoping his design, which was deemed “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit,” would cause an explosion of interest, Reard called his garment the “bikini” after the island.

While midriff baring swimsuits preceded the bikini, as well as formfitting one-piece bathing suits, it’s specifically the two-triangle top and triangular front and back bottom (that sits below the navel) that comprise the original ‘bikini’ design. The designer boasted that the minimal design could fit into a matchbox like the one Bernardini is holding in her hand in the photo.

For a more in-depth look at the bikini please check Time MagazineEsquire, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image via retronaut

Word of the Day: Ready-to-Wear

If you’ve worked in retail, you’re probably familiar with the term “ready-to-wear” and maybe even the French “prêt-à-porter.” And if not, chances are you find the term self explanatory. But why do we use this term? Isn’t everything we buy ready to wear?

prêt–à–por·ter \ˌpret-ä-pȯr-ˈtā\: French for ready-made clothing; clothing intended for wear with little or no alterations; first known use 1959

Fast, fabulous mass-produced fashions from Forever21

Until the 1920s, most women’s clothing was custom-made at home or by professional tailors and dressmakers. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t even began collecting women’s body measurements for standard sizing until 1937.) But the improvement of industrial production techniques, the rise of the advertising industry, the growth of the urban professional class, and the development of national markets through chain stores and mail order catalogs caused the ready-to-wear industry to grow and flourish. Ready-to-wear clothing became easier to obtain and replace than custom-made garments. As a result, ready-to-wear clothing became the modern, fashionable choice.

While most of us buy ready-to-wear (RTW) clothing that is mass-produced in factories, the term still contrasts customized haute couture and bespoke clothing. Many of fashion’s most famous houses  produce both RTW and haute couture collections each season, and bespoke men’s suiting remains a respected craft.

Do you have any custom-made clothing, or is your wardrobe strictly ready-to-wear?

Info Source: National Institue of Standards & Technology
Image Source: Forever 21 Blog