Tag Archives: Vogue

Working what your momma gave you

Vogue, April 2011

Vogue’s April issue, their annual shape issue, features a piece about dressing to emphasize your height – with a short girl talking about her love of flats and oversize clothing, and a tall girl rhapsodizing about how powerful giant heels make her feel. My first reaction was to scoff. This is revolutionary? I’ve been doing just this for years! (I’m short, and I love oversize sweaters, ballet flats and a certain pair of flat motorcycle boots that I would wear every day if I could.) What a way to state the obvious.

Then I thought about it a little more. On the surface, this seems obvious. Wear what you like, screw common convention about ‘figure flattery’. But, then again, maybe not. Most ladymags stress ways to flatter your figure – but not by making the most of what you have. By telling you the best ways to minimize those hips, create a waist, seem taller or smaller or curvier or straighter. Clothes shopping is tough enough without worrying about how to create a body you don’t actually have.

So the obvious isn’t quite so obvious. And occasionally a bit counter intuitive. See, not only am I short, but I’m hipless. Shaped like a 12-year-old boy is perhaps more apt. So when I try on dresses and skirts with shape, I end up with folds of fabric sticking out awkwardly rather than being gorgeously filled in. And that’s frustrating – there’s a lot of things I can’t wear because of my lack of hips. And I sometimes would love to look a different way. But rather than lament my shape, I’ve learned to live with it. And lately, I’ve been gravitating to fuller, higher-waisted skirts. I still get some shape and get to play with volume, but I’m not imagining body parts that I simply don’t have.

Besides, body ideals have swung from one extreme to the next. In the 1500s, being plump was desirable because it meant you were wealthy enough to eat well. The Victorian Age saw waists whittled by corsets and bottoms emphasized by bustles. In the 1920s, the flapper look called for a small bust and narrow hips. In the ’50s, it was Marilyn Monroe. The ’60s revolved around the gamine – Twiggy, Audrey. The ’90s brought Kate Moss and waif-chic. And now, well, the ideal seems to range from model tall and skinny to athletic to curvy. (Though that whole “real women have curves” thing annoys me – since I’m not curvy, where does that leave me? I do not want to add gender anxiety to my daily routine.) So who’s to say what’s ideal?

Though Vogue champions the same handful of models and a lifestyle comprising designer clothes, perfectly-behaved children and access to personal trainers and facialists, this message of embracing the shape and height you were given is definitely enlightened. And definitely something we can all get behind.

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The career slash

Kate Moss is reportedly cutting a CD. Which will, of course, be as wildly successful as everything else she touches, including cut-off jean shorts, wellies, Topshop and that whole date-a-musician grunge glamour thing. So, Kate is now a model/designer/muse/singer – truly an impressive hybrid career moniker.

The new thing to be, at least according to Moss’ example and media outlets such as the New York Times and Vogue, is a hybrid. But not just the tired actress/model/designer combination; that’s old hat. Save, of course, for Moss, who can do anything and still be awesome. Now, the hybrid has to be a combination of intellectual achievement, artistic credibility and flat-out fabulousness that only partially stems from access to an extensive designer wardrobe. Take the examples mentioned in the January issue of Vogue: Model/graduate student who has achieved the impossible by finding time not spent in class, studying or sleeping in which to actually be a model. (Grad school is all-encompassing.) College student/DJ/fashion show front-row fixture. ¬†Actress/photographer/model/face of Chanel.

The New York Times recently ran a piece featuring a 19 year-old (let that sink in) who is equal parts student, author, socialite/debutante, lobbyist, Gossip Girl inspiration and apparent royalty. It’s exhausting just reading about her.

Such features makes me wonder if I’m going about things all wrong. Instead of spending my college years writing papers and singing a cappella, and grad school working constantly and not sleeping enough, maybe I should have been writing my memoir. Or lobbying congress. Or crashing fashion shows. Though to be fair, I went to school in St. Louis – not quite next door to Bryant Park and Lincoln Center.

I am too short to be a model. Too boring to have a memoir (yet). Too unmotivated to lobby congress. And I don’t have an extensive designer wardrobe or family connections to royalty. My slash, if I had one, would be writer/editor/bookworm/geek/shower opera singer. None of which, I might add, would net me a mention in Vogue’s hallowed pages.

But then I wonder. I am a great bookworm/geek, thanks to the time I have spent reading, studying and depriving myself of sleep in pursuit of my degrees. If I was to also be a lobbyist/model/socialite, how good would I be? I’ve tried to be perfect before – my grade and high school years had me running around like my pants were on fire trying to be the best student, the best singer, the best field hockey player, the best at accumulating community service hours, the best insert-something-here. But a lack of time to devote to each pursuit got in the way. And math. I was never tops at math.

I envy these women’s accomplished slash careers and their seeming acquisition of a Harry Potter-esque time turner in order to be able to do it all. It would be nice to be a fixture at the fashion shows, friends with Karl Lagerfeld, known face in congress. But perhaps it’s more satisfying to take the time to fully immerse myself in something I find interesting, rather than just skimming off the top. Now all I need is for Chanel to realize that short, pale Dorothy Parker-aspirants are the next big thing. Friends, ready your slashes – our time will come.

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Where will all the fetish shoes go?

According to the July issue of Vogue, chic is the new chic. Yes, that sounds redundant. Chic – looking ladylike, put-together, emulating screen stars of yore rather than rock stars of today – is in. Chic. How convenient, that one word can convey so much.

For the past several years, the look beloved of fashionistas and editors everywhere (save the personal style of¬†Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who never wavers from her tailored dresses and sharp bob) has been a sort of rocker-chic – there’s that word again – comprising skinny leather or denim pants, military-style jackets and huge platformed ankle boots festooned with spikes and buckles and all sorts of hardware. These boots were made for walking. Or clomping – their precarious platforms make moving around very difficult. Continue reading

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Specs on a chain

Usually, wearing glasses on a chain around your neck falls into the realm of bubbes in Palm Beach who drive pastel-colored Cadillacs. But according to Vogue, these chains have the potential to be the next big thing. It’s “granny-chic,” meant to be combined with cardigans and frilly blouses, because fashion has stopped chasing youth.

Ha. The only way granny-chic could work is if it’s worn by someone young and fresh and preferably tall and leggy. The young can look old; the old cannot. Perhaps this is one reason why vintage clothing has been so very popular over the past few years?

Other aspects of the granny look, such as lace-up boots and mismatched florals, have been on the runways for a few seasons, and have hit mainstream popularity. But glasses chains? Even Vogue doubts they’ll be big with anyone besides the fashion crowd.

I, for one, am planning to abstain from attaching my spectacles to any sort of chain. When I was little, I was forced to attach my sunglasses and prescription sports goggles (yes, I was that cool) to a neoprene strip known as a Croakie, and wear them around my neck. Not a good look. So while I love jewelry, I am loathe to relive any aspect of the embarrassment that the Croakie so kindly lent to me.

I could see the chains working, perhaps on a cute librarian or someone who likes to dress like Emma Pillsbury from Glee, in pencil skirts and patterned cardigans. But only if done deliberately. No one wants to look like I did at 10, I promise.

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