Month: May 2010

Cannes don’t

For the last week or so, the world’s fashionable people have been descending in (stylish) hordes upon the south of France for the Cannes Film Festival. For mere peons like me that means a plethora of red carpet photos to peruse, and critique, at my leisure. [Best site for that is Red Carpet Fashion Awards. It gives a side-by-side comparison with the runway version of each dress. Handy!] I love the ballgown-heavy drama of red carpets; every now and then a real stinker will turn up and I will chuckle to myself, smug in the knowledge that, even if I don’t have that person’s money, I at least possess more sense. I’m catty like that.

I love the Cannes red carpet in particular because it affords one the rare opportunity to see a lot of French actresses in fashionable action. I love French women; they have a unique sort of inexplicable, effortless chic that no one else can reproduce. Take Charlotte Gainsborough – she always looks like she hasn’t brushed her hair in weeks and has only a casual acquaintance with make-up, yet manages to exude an almost aristocratic elegance. If I tried to pull off that kind of look, I would exude the elegance of a smelly vagrant. I could write sonnets about French women’s style, but I will spare you the pain.

Anyway, the other day I saw a picture of one of my current girl crushes, Marion Cotillard, on a Cannes red carpet and I have to admit that I was disappointed. She was wearing some sort of sparkly black jumpsuit thing. Why, MarCo, why? You are a lovely woman. More importantly, you are a lovely woman who is regularly bombarded with beautiful gowns from the top couture houses in the world. Ok, so you want to be edgy. I get that. But, surely, there are better options out there than a JUMPSUIT. For the love of Lanvin!!

Alright, so I guess you now know my prejudice against jumpsuits. I tried to like them, I really did. When they first started to trickle down to the Edmonton retail scene, I tried on a pair at H&M (the first stop of the trendy fashion express around here). After all, I am willing to experiment. Proof of that is the fact that somewhere in my basement there is a pair of dhoti-style pants (better known as “Hammer pants”) that I bought last year – and even wore in public (once). But jumpsuits … no. This is where I draw the line. Even for the 1% of the population who is able to wear them without looking utterly ridiculous, they do no favours. My own brief experience with them is better left forgotten. In fact, let us never speak of jumpsuits again, and pretend they do not exist.

Hear that, MarCo?

So, what’s your fashion bugbear?

I’m on a boat!!

Every summer, fashion magazines inevitably get around to dedicating a spread or two to the “sailor” look, and I am tempted once more by the siren call of stripes. They remind me of fabulous summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and the yacht I’ve never had. This year, in particular, they seem to be everywhere. Stripes are difficult, though. Somehow, most of them conspire to make me look like a much shorter and dumpier version of the WASPy goddess I imagine I could be, if only I could find the perfect mix – not too thin, not too thick, not too close together, not too far apart. [Well, the WASPy goddess I could be if I found the right kind of stripes and looked like Gwyneth Paltrow in the bargain. Ahem.]

I finally got the courage to try stripes, for real, a few weeks ago. It was an $8 Joe Fresh T-shirt that pushed me over the edge of my hesitation – you can’t get more “low risk” than that. The stripes are red, not navy, and they’re maybe a liiiiiiiittle bit thinner than I’d like, but the T-shirt has a cute, useless pocket and I’m a sucker for cute, useless things. I figured I could pair it with one of my some of my favourite earrings, featuring the very summery combination of turquoise and coral.

I might not be rocking a yacht this summer, but I know just what to pack for any last minute getaways to the lake.

Ahoy matey!

Bag lady

Earlier this year, I reached a rather interesting conclusion.

I am a bag lady.

Actually, to be more accurate, I am a bag person. I love bags. And I don’t just love them – I am willing to spend the money to prove it. A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation with some co-workers that revolved around shopping habits. A male co-worker started half-seriously quizzing three of us (all women) about the max amount we have (or would) spend on various articles of clothing – general categories like business suits, watches, shoes and, yes, bags. Each of us gave wildly different answers, reinforcing the argument that value (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder. Of the three, I was the one prepared to spend the most amount on bags and, funnily enough, far far less on shoes. Which is odd, because I love shoes too; I’m just not inclined to spend a lot of money on them.

We also talked about the price ceiling – the maximum amount we would pay for something even if money was no object. Personally, I am convinced that there is a direct and proportional correlation between one’s income and the price one is willing to pay for an item, but only up to a certain point. I might spend $200 on a watch now as easily as I might $20,000 if I were a billionaire, but would I spend $50,000? $100,000? $1,000,000? No, I would not. It would not be worth it, intrinsically, to me. Someone else might disagree.

Anyway, to return to the matter at (or, rather, on) hand – bags. My love affair with bags is a relatively recent development, though it has taken significant strides in the last year. I think it has to do, in part, with the function that bags fulfill in my life on a daily basis. I travel everywhere like a pack mule, so I favour large, capacious bags by necessity. They have to be sturdy, and they have to be pretty, and they have to be easy to maneuver … which can be a tall order. It helps if they are made of real leather (sorry PETA!), especially in the wintertime; one of my last cheap-ish purchases was not, and the “patent” finish started cracking within a few months. I’m partial to totes because they are so convenient, and I love coloured bags because they liven up an outfit while being pretty versatile too. Most people consider a black bag to be a wardrobe staple, but would say that you can probably make do without one. A grey bag will substitute in a pinch, and for a pop of colour, there is nothing like red patent.

I could wax poetical about my favourite bags and brands, but that would require a lengthy tome (with footnotes!). My love-hate relationship with Coach would take up a whole chapter, for starters. [I would recommend, however, the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas for anyone interested in the history of luxury brands, including the granddaddy of them all, Louis Vuitton.] So I will mention only my current obsession, to which I was introduced by a very fashionable friend of mine last year. It is Arcadia bags. Behold:


I now have three of these beauties (in different colours and styles, natch) and I am always on the hunt for more. They are beautifully made and well worth the investment; you can find them from time to time at Winners for $100-$150, which is a great deal for an Italian-made leather bag. Considering the prices being charged for poor quality fake bags out there (another story), these are a real find. And if you do find one, let me know!