Sunday, August 31, 2008

Don't Sit So Close

I watch a lot of television. Probably too much. But I also read and go to the movies and knit, so it's not like it consumes me completely. But when you have as much free time as I do and so much stuff making your life complicated, it helps to spend a few hours letting your brain shut down.

Over the past year, I've spent a lot of time obsessed with Mad Men and Gossip Girl. Two shows that are as far apart on the spectrum as one can imagine. The first a well-crafted story filled with subtlety. The second a delicious romp of soapy confection. But in both, I've found myself focusing on the clothing as much as the story lines.

Mad Men, if you haven't heard of it, is a show in its second season on AMC. It features the goings on of the employees of a mid-level advertising agency in early 1960s New York City. And the women wear fabulous, fabulous clothes that make me want to reach into the television screen and put them into my closet. Part of this has to do with the fact that everything back then was so tailored. Tailoring does my body good, and though the idea of wearing constrictive undergarments makes me want to poke something into my eye, I might do it in order to wear something like this:

So every week I watch, waiting to see what the folks of Sterling Cooper are up to. And to see what Joan and Betty are wearing.

Gossip Girl, set among the students of two Upper East Side private schools, hits a bit closer to home. Having attended girls' school in Boston from the ages of 10-18, it's fun to watch these overblown exploits on television every week. It's a form of mind candy. Sweet and probably not all that good for me. I relate more to their east coast aesthetic than I did to the California beach style of its predecessor The OC. For me, the two main female protagonists represent fantasy and reality. Serena, with her mix of uptown and downtown, her tall boots (mmm, boots) and leather jackets mixed with her plaid uniform skirt, has a certain effortlessness that I envy. She looks like one of those girls who opens her closet, throws something on and yet always looks wonderful.

Blair is, like I, a fan of the headband. Hers are far more ostentatious then anything I would dare place on my head. But her blazers and tights and more classic dressing would have an easier time blending in with the rest of my closet than most of Serena's ensembles.

Like with the magazines and the newspapers and the websites, I try to be inspired by but not a slave to these influences. I still won't be wearing tights as pants. But Alexander Wang sweater dresses and golden tights are another story.

Photos via, via

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Headband

Early in my post-collegiate career, when I was living at home and not necessarily all that interested in my general appearance, I bought three headbands from H&M. Two simple full bands in black and red and a brown woven full band. I mainly wore them to cover up the fact that my hair was in dire need of a trip to the salon.

After I moved to New York in the winter of 2006, I began to accrue more of them. Thin and thick and in all sorts of colors. One day, while at a beauty supply store, I came across a scarf like one. It was black with white polka dots, and it tied at the back. At $1.50 there was no reason, in my mind, to leave the store without it. I probably wore it more than was necessary. Okay, I definitely wore it more than was necessary. I wore it to the point where the scarf piece became dislodged from the black, plastic frame that gave it its shape.

And then I continued to wear the scarf by itself. With skinny jeans tucked in boots and sweaters in the winter. With a green swing coat and brown flats. With simple summer dresses in solid colors.

In a way, it's become a pacifier. Something that I can put on when I'm not sure about the rest of my look. A fall back. A safety net.

Everyone has pieces that fall into that category. The Headband is mine. More than anything else I own. In a wardrobe devoid of patterns, save one, it goes with everything. So unlike the simple black and the shiny pink and the green and navy striped, which rarely enter the rotation, this one doesn't go a week without leaving my apartment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008


When seasons change, fashion magazines, newspaper style sections and online shopping websites are filled with trend pieces. For fall I've run into High-vamp Shoes and New Neutrals and Lace. That's great. Thanks for letting me know what I should be buying, but I think I'll stick to mustards, long cardigans and equestrian-style boots.

This reaction might come as a surprise to some. One corner of my apartment is home to a backlog of fashion magazines. Luckys and Vogues and Elles and InStyles dating back to the fall of 2006. I think somewhere in my house in Boston is a suitcase still partially filled with magazines from college. What is the point of keeping them around if I don't really listen to them?

The thing is that I do listen to them, in my own way. I pick and choose what I like from every season. Not everything is going to look good on me. And some trends I just find hideous. I have a profound dislike of all things Boho Chic. Fringe on bags makes my brain itch in an unpleasant way. And I, and my chest, are a fan of the bra. Something that seems to be missing from many Boho Chic ensembles. So though I've heard that this trend is making a comeback for Spring/Summer 2009, it will be staying out of my closet.

Personal style is something that needs years to take shape and requires a steely attitude to maintain while also being open to modernization and evolution. I've only recently found this balance. So no High-vamp heels or Lace will be making their way into my life. New Neutrals, however, will fit right in.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shape Up

My recent flakiness can be explained by a long week of The Olympics and happy hours and watching people do unfortunate karaoke renditions of Creep.

A few weeks ago while on the subway with my best friend, a seat opened up. I told her to take it as I continued to stand. I was wearing the wide leg jeans I bought at H&M near the beginning of the summer when she looked up at me and said It's not that your thin, you just have the right shape for those pants.

Don't think that this was a backhanded compliment. It wasn't. It was merely an observation on her part and a correct one. I am firmly a double digit size, and that's probably not changing anytime soon, no matter how much my stress level affects my eating habits. When I was in middle and high schools, I hated that fact. It's not that I'm necessarily pleased with my body at the moment, but I've come to terms about how I should be dressing it. When I was younger, everything was about the size. I bought clothes in a size smaller thinking that this action would provide the push I needed to lose weight. Instead I ended up looking at a closet crammed with ill-fitting clothes while eating a cookie.

It wasn't until I was older that I understood that badly fitting clothes added pounds. And usually this visual trickery occurred in the most unfortunate of spots. For me that was always the middle as my stomach hung over pants and skirts that barely closed. When I stopped obsessing about the number on the tag inside my clothing, I could finally focus on what was really important.

Shape in clothing is everything. And I'm not talking about this curvy, boyish, full-figured bullshit that you see in every women's magazine. What if you are a larger size but boyish in shape? What if you are short and thin? What if you, like me, are busty with small hips? There are too many possible combinations to try and squeeze yourself into just one category.

So I don't anymore. I search for certain silhouettes. I try everything on. And I remind myself that sometimes the rules that I've made for myself should be broken.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

School Boy

I like blazers.

With my body shape, I favor anything that gives more structure to my top half.

Photo via

The Dress

I mentioned The Dress in my first Favorite Pieces post. As summer winds down and The Dress prepares to breathe its last breath before being pushed into the back of my closet, I decided it was time to talk about it.

I am not one for patterns. In fact, I can't stand them. I understand why people like them. I see others wear them beautifully. But I can't bring myself to even try them on. In stores, I touch them gingerly. Almost as if they are offensive to my sensibilities. Beyond a few simple pinstripes and a polka dotted dress, all in neutral tones, my closet is devoid of them. Well, except for one piece.

A couple of weeks after my 24th birthday, I was sitting in my office when a box arrived from my mother. I opened the card first. Nestled among the birthday greetings was a Post It. Call me immediately after you open the gift. Within the outer packaging lay a Marc by Marc Jacobs gift box. I opened it and pulled out the dress. Then I excused myself to call my mother.

If you don't like it, you can return it. My mother was used to my hatred of patterns and had steeled herself for my disapproval. But it didn't come.

A few weeks earlier, on a window shopping adventure in the SoHo Bloomingdale's, I had tried on the dress. I liked it but all of the colors scared me away. I was in the middle of a black/white/navy/gray phase also known as My Life. But apparently my mother can read minds. Or she just knows me more than I give her credit for.

In its second spring/summer, the dress is worn often, usually with one of the wide belts that I bought last year from Banana Republic. They nip in my waist. The dress billows out. And I suddenly take on a curvy shape.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fall Back

In terms of unfortunate humidity and insufferable heat, this summer hasn't been all that bad. Of course that could mean that Earth is really, truly and sincerely fucked, but hey, at least my hair hasn't devolved into a bird's nest.

I kid. I kid.

Sitting at a bar this week, someone mentioned that it smells like fall. I had to agree. Fall, as I've mentioned at least three times, is my favorite season. Especially for clothing. My black skinny cords from Uniqlo hang in my closet saying Take us out and wear us, maybe with your tall black boots. I'm quickly growing tired of my summer clothes. I want sweaters and tights. I want to be motivated to finish the scarf I started knitting last year. The one made with the thin, soft and peachy yarn that had been sitting unused for at least two years prior.

This is all I've been thinking about for the past few weeks. In the small hallway near the door of my apartment, there is a nook that can hold coats of guests for the many parties that I never have. Instead of waiting for the coats of strangers, it is filled with mine. Blazers and Jackets and Trenches. Occasionally I pull out the new belted blazer I got at H&M and walk around trying it on with with my jeans, skinny and wide.

As a child I used to be anxious for new notebooks and sharp pencils. Now I dream of long cardigans and stacked boots.

Photo via

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life Goals and Such

I'm up at the unseemly hour of 9:19 AM all dressed and sitting, once again, at my favorite coffee shop acting like I have an actual freelance job. Though with the frequency that I post here, this blog could be considered a job. A job that doesn't pay and in which I am judge, jury and executioner.

But, nonetheless, a job. And the first one that I've enjoyed in awhile.

In one of my high school French classes, my teacher told us that we would have many jobs during our lives. I didn't believe her. In my mind, you went to college then grad school then spent over 40 years basically doing the same thing. There was a comfort in such a linear life. And at 16, everything in my mind progressed along straight lines. Let's be honest, it was 1999. The times were good. Not that they're bad now. But everything seems rosy when you're an obnoxiously smart teenager.

Last night on one of my Fort Greene/Clinton Hill evening walks, I wondered if I would have been happier with the straight line kind of life. If all this meandering was worth the insecurity and hurt feelings and pounds lost. Okay, it was definitely worth the pounds lost. But what about all the other bullshit? I've met some great people. I've wandered onto a path, finally, that I am passionate about. I get to see movies and take bubble baths in the middle of the day. So, for all of the crazy, I think that I'll reach my next milestone birthday (oy, 30) and be able to say that all of this was an unfortunate yet necessary detour on the way to the land of Happy and Fulfilled.

Wait, what is this blog about again? Oh, right. Fashion.

I love Sari Gueron. And so should everyone else.

Photo via

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Every time I start a post with when I was little, I feel like I'm meandering into Vogue territory. Near the front of the book, they usually have a story from a writer about how the lipstick color her mother wore when she was seven or her school uniform or something else equal parts sweet and annoying still informs her style today.

But I can't help it. I'm surprised by how much the choices that I made at the ages of four and five still affect me.

There's a certain fear that small children lack. They can pull off some of the most ridiculous clothing because they have no idea that it is ridiculous. Little girls walk around filled with glee at the big flowers, the bright colors, the stripes on their tights and the mismatching barrettes in their hair.

The ages of four to nine were some of my best dressed years. A long hiatus set in after the weight gain and curves of puberty made themselves known. Back then I was best described as a twig. All limbs and sharp corners. And, in some ways, very assertive and decisive. My name is Samantha, not Sam. Sam is a boy's name. I was a very serious kindergartner.

In elementary school, I had a pair of boldly patterned tights that I wore as often as my mother would let me. They resembled a forest canopy. Covered in luscious green leaves that occasionally gave a peek of blue sky. I think there might have been a bird on them. No, seriously. A bird. But in my young mind, that was the best part.

It took years for me to take those types of risks again.

But isn't that the point? Back then, I didn't see tights covered in a leaf pattern as a risk. They were simply what I liked. That reason alone was enough to wear them all of the time.

And that's why almost every post starts with when I was little. Because after the dark years, I'm finally rediscovering that what matters most about what I wear is how I feel about it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Take The A Line

I haven't bought a non-denim skirt in awhile.

I blame the dress obsession for that oversight.

Photo via

Monday, August 4, 2008


I believe that every large change that happens in one's life is precipitated by a single moment.

At a party on Saturday, someone mentioned that there was one piece that she could pinpoint as starting a shift in her style. It got me wondering if I had such a piece sitting in my closet.

During my senior year of college, I bought my first pencil skirt. It's black with a little stretch. It falls right below the knee with a small slit in the front center. The buttons, as opposed to being flat and black, are round and filled with small crystal-like pieces.

The pencil skirt proved a departure for me. A departure that has now became the norm. After years of buying clothes meant to hide and distract, I bought something that did everything but that. It was cut slimly. It was made to draw attention to my shape.

From there I bought shorter skirts. Tighter dresses. Fitted tops.

And all this, in turn, caused me to stop spending my time in the shadows. I'm still quiet and shy. Socializing quickly drains me of energy. But, for some reason, the clothes now in my closet make me stand out. People take notice of them. I don't disappear beneath unflattering fabrics.

Now only to inject some color besides yellow.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Judgy Wudgy Was A Bear

I spent most of yesterday sitting in a local cafe poaching their internet because Time Warner Cable is stupid and there was an outage in my area.

I get very little work done when I go there. I eat cupcakes. Sweet, sweet cupcakes. And caffeinate myself. And then I get the fidgets and spend my time smiling at babies and trying to look/not look at cute guys. So while I like to pretend that I'm being productive there, nothing gets accomplished. When I get bored of boys and babies, my little perch provides the perfect place from which to examine people's outfits. I'm on this kick of trying to be less judgmental, but I sometimes find myself shocked back into that behavior. By the sugar station yesterday, a girl stood wearing purple footless tights with a blue t-shirt and flip flops. It wasn't one of those shirts that could maybe sorta pass for a dress if the person were three inches shorter. It was a straight up t-shirt.

I have an issue with leggings/tights being worn as pants. I can accept most things. Okay, that's a lie. I try to accept most things. I'm learning. It's a process. But leggings as pants is one thing that I'll never ever ever be able to abide.

I forced myself to focus on the positive. She had nice legs. And I actually loved the color of the tights. Under a little black dress, or in any other combination but the one she was wearing, they would add a nice punch. As someone who generally looks schlumpy in t-shirts, I was slightly envious of the way hers seemed to look effortless and laid back. I had talked myself back from the edge.

And then she turned around to reveal the t-shirt tucked into a pair of hot pink booty shorts being worn over the tights.

Well at least she wasn't pantsless.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Let Your Prep Flag Fly

J.Crew and I have a complicated relationship that we'll get into later. But unlike The Gap, my love for the place has only grown.

And my love for this jacket is incalculable.

I'm having such a yellow phase right now. Apparently I can only add one color at a time to my wardrobe.

Photo via

The Tights

In the past, sexy was not a word that I associated with myself. Smart. Sarcastic. Sometimes Silly. All of these descriptors were easy for me to take on. To claim as my own. But sexy? Ha.

As I've gotten older, wiser and better dressed, I've slowly been able to accept that there are times when I am sexy. And I've started to buy clothes specifically with that purpose in mind. I'm not talking deep v-necks and clear plastic stilettos but dresses tailored to show off certain parts while camouflaging others and pretty heels that showcase my legs.

Sometime during my sophomore year of college, at the beginning of this transformation, I walked into a Banana Republic during a Make Myself Feel Better shopping spree. After picking up a new pair of jeans, I walked around the accessories section looking at shoes and started glancing at the tights. I hadn't worn tights since Catholic School. They reminded me of furiously scratching my legs while wearing unfortunate plaids. But the fishnets that I found in my hand that day were not like the woolen prisons in which I had once encased my knobby knees. The diamonds were larger than I had seen in similar tights. It would be almost as if I were wearing nothing. When I flipped them over and saw the sale sticker, my decision was made for me. I left with them and the jeans.

The jeans became one of my favorites until they had a run-in with some bleach after my senior year. The small sense of adventure that had gripped me the day I bought The Tights didn't lead to my wearing them. They were placed in the side pocket of a piece of luggage and didn't see the light of day until I found them while unpacking after my move to New York.

Moving in the dead of winter didn't help their cause much. But last spring, with a work event to go to, I pulled them on under a simple skirt. Having recently become fascinated with my legs, I liked the way they made them look. They lifted the outfit out of the mundane. They pulled focus away from my top half where I spend a lot of time artfully hiding imperfections. My black opaque tights, which I love and wear constantly during the fall and winter months, never caused as much of a stir. These were sexy without being over the top.

They gave a flash. A hint. A coy smile. A small wink.