October 22, 2008

God (Non-liberal elite kind) love her: Sarah Palin's new image cost Republicans $150,000

I am fascinated by the story. Not because I think it's appalling that someone running for office needs a makeover - but I'd love to know how she dressed before the GOP makeover.

Next time around, I'd like to be picked to run as VP.

The Republican party has spent $150,000 (£92,000) on clothes and accessories since late August for Sarah Palin and her family, according to records of party spending.

(more from the Guardian)

In my run, I'd buy the Fitzgerald line of suits from Brooks Bros. I'd get knitted ties from JPress. I would still cut my own hair.

Admittedly, I wouldn't wear a bow tie. The world may have a US president who is black but the ugliness of prejudice still remains against bow tie wearers.

Leather jacket tips for men

(Ocean Drive Leather's B-20 and B-18 jackets make fit and proportion the secret to looking good in leather. Courtesy Ocean Drive Leather/Gordan Dumka.)

Besides crimson leaves and pumpkins, is there any surer sign of autumn than the arrival of leather coats and jackets?

Leather warms against chilly winds and can shed water. Leather also captures perfectly the seasonal melancholy of rain-slicked streets, longer nights and the sense of rebellion a man feels when he leaves behind the summer of childhood and is forced to embrace the cold hard reality of adulthood.

As fashion historians Richard Martin and Harold Koda once wrote in their book, Jocks and Nerds, leather is 'wild' and 'the essence' of men 'who sign their defiance of civilization by wearing black.' Leather is totally cool or should be - and it can be if men know how to wear it correctly.

Too bad many don't.These last few weeks I've identified a number of atrocious leather faux-pas and found a few fixes...

(continue reading my tips in the Vancouver Sun)

October 20, 2008

Sir Paul Smith reflects on life as a fashion designer

Tonight, Sir Paul Smith presented a slide show about his 30 years in fashion at Holt Renfrew Vancouver.

Starting with a 12' x 12' shop in Nottingham, which he rented for 50 pence a week and opened only on Fridays and Saturdays, Smith has built an empire that wholesales to 35 countries and owns 14 shops in England.

Smith's talk combined autobiography, fashion philosophy and retail pointers and really underscored the importance of finding inspiration in art, architecture and travel and appreciating colour found in everyday objects.

Smith draws ideas from Lithuanian churches painted in aquamarine to seed packets (leading to floral patterned shirts) to tomatoes on a vine.

Here are a few of the things he said tonight:
  • On his Spring 1996 cerulean blue suits - "I like to pretend they were Yves Klein blue but the colour really came from a security guard uniform."
  • On his Guatemalan inspired collection - "I didn't go to Guatemala. I went to the library and opened a book. It was a lot cheaper."
  • On his limited edition Austin Mini-Car - "They said it was impossible to do 28 colours. But the man at the shop said, "I'd like to see if I could do it." It was perfect but when I saw him, he said, "I am divorced now."
  • "Be brave. Do things more punchy, more special."

October 13, 2008

Fashion blue chip portfolio: classic style items for austere times

JJ Lee - our man of style - brings us little simple items that have stood the test of time and will hold their value no matter where the market goes.

Levi's 501 reissue brings back an iconic jeans for women.

What will bring fashion dividends regardless if it's a bull or bear market?

I think they should be affordable. I see classic iconic style as a form of austerity measures because you're buying something that never goes out of style.

Q. The idea is to go from head to toe. What do you have for the top?

People are willing to pay $300-$400 for glasses by Gucci, Prada and Calvin Klein. Then, there are hipster brands like Moscot - which do nerd glasses for a hefty price.

Instead, I recommend a true stylish frame: Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

This style of frame has been worn by the likes of Buddy Holly, Elvis Costello, and Audrey Hepburn.

Wayfarers have been in production for the last 55 years. For $140, you can pop out the tinted lenses and have a true fashion frame.

Q. What do you think about all the big, honking watches out in the market the last few years?

Here's a funny thing: Gentleman's Quarterly, the leading men's fashion magazine, gave the nod to humble designs after pushing really expensive Swiss watches these last few years.

But recently the humble Timex has found its way on GQ's pages. Consider one of the classics in the Mercury style. My favourite is the blue-faced version at $69.99 at The Bay. It has simple san-serif numerals.

Classic Timex watches have a great following. Recently, Andy Spade - of the luggage company Jack Spade - curated a store for J. Crew in New York where a number of vintage Timex watches are for sale.

Q. You've talked about fairly expensive jeans in the past. What is your austerity dungaree?

This is the season of the boyfriend jean. Levi's has reissued a distressed version of the 501 for women. It costs $88.

I would wait a couple of weeks for the darker, less distressed version to come out. No holes, just a straight, classic, Americana cut.

And if $88 sounds too much. How about buying 501's at $9.99 a pound.

is a vintage store on Commercial Drive and there's one also opening on Fourth Avenue. You can find a pair, perfectly worn in for around $15 when it's weighed in.

October 9, 2008

Digital Camera, Megapixels and the Fashion Writer's Dilemma in Vancouver

I'm going to do it. Buy a digital camera.

I will buy a Nikon D40 at 6.1 megapixels because megapixels don't matter. It's enough. To have a leap in quality one would have to use a 24 megapixel camera to double the resolution of an image. Not needed. And my suspicions were confirmed by the New York Times tech columnist, David Pogue.

Now why do I need a digital camera. Well, it seems Vancouver designers are under-served by photographers. Certainly it can be expensive. Also, it's hard to get the shot you want for the articles you are writing.

If I had Kris Krug or Fiona Garden in tow with me all the time, that would be different. I would shutter up and let them shoot. But we all can't be graced with such lovely company and artists...so I'm doing my own thing. So I may catch what I catch.

I'm going digital. To check out my film stuff, go to my photo project: Everybody in New Westminster.

Nikon D40 here I come.

October 2, 2008

Fashioning a national leader: Green Party leader May requires a makeover

In the recent federal leadership debates, the Green Party leader adopted masculinist-politico outfits.

Many female politicians feel and look comfortable wearing the standard uniform.

However, May did not during the debate.

And what do her clothes say? For better or for worse, the dress of female politician comes under greater scrutiny (though both male and female dress choices make an equal impression).

The take-away: May IS NOT Margaret Thatcher. Nor is she Hilary Clinton. She doesn't have to be.

May's masculinist suit choice had a negative impact on her visual branding. May wearing an out-dated Ghillie collar - that's a suit jacket with a shirt-like collar - paired with an open shirt collar OVER the Ghillie was the most notable.

It's just too much. Look at the collars. They crowded the face and presented too many downward angles which gives the impression of slumped posture.

I'd like to see her finally put together some of the elements she's relied on in the past to construct a polished and complete look that says "Hey, I'm not a 'suit'", all the while,
demonstrating she's fit to hold office and stand in Parliament.

Here's my Elizabeth May debate makeover:

1  Drop the dated Ghillie - it is so early Nineties and NBA draft choicey. Instead, May should wear a standing collar like a Nehru or Mandarin collar that will cast shadows on her neck and strengthen her jawline. Trust me, it would have shaved perceived years and pounds under the unforgiving TV lights, something everyone has to worry about when stepping in front of a camera.

2, Wear a melton or felted cropped jacket or even a Bolero-like shrug instead of the smooth serge found in a business suit may be an option. Something more matte, more homey, comfy, and feels like a sweater BUT looks like business wear. May likes black and she should keep it black...
3. ...but I think a nice satin ruffle of green or even an ivy embroidered along the collar and the lapels would be a perfect way to put the green on the Green Party's leader.
4, A green patent leather belt. Make it wide and have it sit at the thinnest part of her torso. Perhaps just below the bust. This will give her a nice waist line and keep eyes above the equator.
5. Finally, a high-waisted A-line skirt down to mid-calf.

Five rules for fashion friends

  • Never say, "It doesn't really suit your body type. Can I try it?"
  • Also never say, "It's a great look. Everybody in New York was wearing it last season
  • You can ask a woman about her shoes and where she bought them but you're not allowed to go out and buy them unless you plan to never see this woman for at least a year
  • Don't even ask about the handbag if it cost more than $1000
  • When buying the Hermes watch - you know the one your friend arbitrarily wanted since she was 13 years old - make sure you're buying it for that friend and not yourself

GOTCHA!!! Did Green Party leader Elizabeth May reuse an outfit for the federal election debate en francais

From the CBC, Elizabeth May on the release of The Green Party's Green Plan 2 on September 27, 2006.

Here's Ms. May from a still at last night's French debate.

What does this all mean? Is she staying tried and true to the Green Ethos of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

I called out Ms. May on CBC Radio One's The Point today. I DARED her to wear the same outfit again during tonight's English debate.

With Ms. May as a role model, no longer will women fear being caught wearing the same outfit twice, no longer will women loathe finding themselves wearing the same outfit as another woman.

In the masculine world of dress, two men in the same tie (see Layton and Duceppe) is only an opportunity for convivial recognition - "Hey, we have the same taste!" - perhaps women will now feel the same way.

JJ on the great debate: Fashion and the Federal Election

Today, on The Point I'll be going over the fashion sense of Canada's federal party leaders as they appeared in last night's French debate from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

The Point segment will air between 3-3:30 PM local time....however...if you live in a major market like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, you'll have to tune in online at CBC.ca and listen to a live link from a different city.

My particular point will be: Did Ms. May's sweater-skirt outfit pass muster?