Thursday, October 29, 2009

Paris, it's COLD outside.

I know that flirty Spring frocks and strappy shoes have been breezing down the runways recently, but here in New York, it's just starting to get cold. It's kind of hard to get excited about the Spring 2010 collections with their open-toed shoes and sleeveless blouses, when I'm bundled head to toe in wool.

I've been looking at the Fall/Winter 09 shows again with more interest as the days get shorter and colder. And I keep on coming back to one, because I would wear almost every piece in the collection. Proenza Schouler's Fall line was most definitely made for me. My Fall/Winter staples of tights, tweed, and jackets are abundant.

So comfy!

Love the lines of this top and the combination of textures.

Such a New Year's Eve dress.

This top is so modern and the metallic color is gorgeous!

The olive-colored bag is such a nice accent.

I LOVE this coat. I don't even want to know how much it is because I can see myself forgoing electricity to afford it.

And the shoes! I think I need to do a whole post on their shoes...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Muriel would LOVE these shoes!

("Object of Desire," Ana Juan for The New Yorker, Sept 1, 2008)

Cute, right? Think again. Muriel could run a pair of tights so quickly you would wonder if they were torn when you put them on. She would wait under the dining room table until you rushed by, late for school, and then she'd tackle your ankles. She got my mom about once a week.

When I saw Valentino's Spring 2010 runway shoes, I couldn't help but think of Muriel.

Couture cat toys!

(Muriel photo © Littlehouse of Style, Valentino runway photos from

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gift of the Magi

I went for a walk this afternoon when my eyes were getting all computer squinty and had a little fun with the timer on my camera. It was a little embarrassing when a tourist couple came up and asked if I wanted them to take my picture though...

I love the vintage jacket I wore today so much. When I was in high school, I did a lot of theater and consequently had access to the school's costume room. Not surprisingly, 2 dresses and a velvet jumpsuit ended up in my closet after 4 years of plays and musicals. While I was in college, my mother discovered my stash and, recognizing the outfits from my roles in Pippin and The Sound of Music, returned them to the school. I knew it had been wrong to "forget" to return the costumes, but I pouted just the same.

A few years later, my younger sister got the part of Juliet at the high school. My mom spend hours sewing her complicated Elizabethan gowns. At the end of the show, they became part of the school's costume collection.

On Christmas morning that year, there was something on a hanger with my name on it. I thought it might be a new coat from my mom, but when my sister presented it to me I was surprised. She had been saving all of her babysitting money for college, so I didn't know what to expect. When I opened it, she said sheepishly that she had seen the matching dress and jacket in the costume room and thought I might want it back. My mom shook her head, but I could tell she was smiling— maybe it was all those hours she spent working on my sister's costumes...

I was surprised and touched. I put the green brocade jacket on over my pajamas immediately.

(photos © Littlehouse of Style)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Never was a Kodachrome Girl...

Everything looks BETTER in black & white.

(dress, Club Monaco)

(dress, Anna Sui for Target)

(dress, Catherine Malandrino, from Bloomingdales)

(trench coat, DKNY, from Daffy's)

(shirt, Ben Sherman, from Filene's Basement)

(coat, JaeYoon Jeong Collection)

(coat, Vertigo, from Marshall's)

(dress, Laundry, from Cohoe's about 7 years ago!)

(dress, Tandem, from Daffy's)

(Tunic, Club Monaco)

(dress, Catherine Malandrino, from Shopbop)

(Sweater, Club Monaco)

(Skirt, Byblos/Bergdorf Goodman, from The Salvation Army)

(all images © Littlehouse of Style)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fashion Worth Fighting For

I've been a bargain shopper as long as I can remember. I rarely buy anything full price unless it's God's Gift to Fashion. I don't see the point in buying a pair of Wolford stockings for $50 when I can get last season's pair for $15. Who cares what season your hosiery is?

The great thing about New York is that those $600 shoes you drooled over last Fall on Fifth Avenue will eventually end up in DSW. I've gotten Dolce & Gabanna slacks at Filene's Basement, Miu Miu shoes at DSW, and a Via Spiga bag at Daffy's. Yes, I'm not getting a Valentino cookie on a silver tray like I would be at Saks' Shoe Salon (true story!), but I will gladly dig through unorganized boxes and sit on the floor among discarded peds to try on a pair of $100 Prada heels.

Last weekend, I went to the city's discount shopping mecca, Century 21, for the first time. (I'm kind of embarrassed I had never been down there before). It's really a nightmare, especially on a Saturday, and I actually got lost and had to ask for directions. Their tagline, "Fashion Worth Fighting For" warns that you're not exactly in for a pleasant shopping experience. The designer shoes are housed in the store's dungeon, where only a shoe-obsessed lunatic would go. I kept on thinking about that Edgar Allan Poe story where the narrator lures a man into a vast wine cellar with the promise of a cask of the most amazing Sherry. As footprint-shaped stickers on the floor led me deeper into the store, I couldn't help but wonder, if I, like the poor fellow in Poe's story, would not make it out alive.

After a couple hours of threading through narrow aisles and saying "excuse me" every 2 seconds, I emerged with a gorgeous pair of Dries Van Noten heels. For those who aren't familiar with Van Noten, he's a Belgian designer who graduated from the Antwerp Fashion Academy (one of the world's best places to study fashion) and presented his debut collection in 1986. Being the fashion neophyte I am, I discovered him when I fell for his Spring 2009 collection. I'm a sucker for anything black & white and/or with geometric patters and that show gave me a lot of both. In addition, everything he makes has such an air of leisure to it. You start to relax just looking at his clothes.

His shoes are no exception. I snagged a pair of sandals from the above 2009 collection at Barney's massive annual sale last June. They are surprisingly comfortable and look so natural on the foot. After that, I tried to look out for his shoes. When I first saw the pair I bought last weekend, I didn't know they were Dries. I was drawn to the chestnut brown leather and the simple details— the straps on the side reminded me of riding tack and the gathering on the front looked so comfortable. They were simple, yet interesting. And then I saw they were Dries. And that they were affordable. And THEN I saw they were in my size. I practically skipped to the register— an almost intoxicated grin on my face, the kind you get when you've just had a bottle of the best booze imaginable.

(Shoes! graphic © Littlehouse of Style, Dries Van Noten Spring 2009 photos from, Shoe photo © Littlehouse of Style)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life Magazine 1998

For over a decade, I've held onto a particular copy of Life magazine. It's a issue from 1998, a Special featuring "The Best Magazine Photography of the Year." At the time of its purchase, I had gotten into Mr Nelson's coveted photography class and was considering becoming the next Annie Leibovitz. I quickly fell in love with W. Eugene Smith's miners, Man Ray's iconic eye, Eisenstaedt's celebrities, and Avedon's gowns.

Then I picked up this magazine. And discovered David LaChapelle. His photos were like nothing I had ever seen or even imagined. After weeks spent staring at black and white photography, the bright colors and fantastic scenarios were electrifying. Six of his images are featured, 2 spreads originally from Detour magazine, and one cinematic portrait of Alexander McQueen.

Next to these two images of Galliano's designs shot for Detour, it reads, "David LaChapelle took his first photo at age six. It was a portrait of his mother—wearing a Frederick's of Hollywood bra decorated with buckles and holding a cocktail on a balcony in Puerto Rico. He had found his calling. In the two photos here, as in much of his work, he seeks 'to escape into a naughty, decadent sort of lifestyle that no one's really allowed to live but,' he hopes, 'someone is living, somewhere in the world.' " (Life, Eisie Issue, Spring 1998, p. 141)

I was in awe. I had been clutching my Pentax k1000 waiting to see something magic and LaChapelle was out there creating magic. I looked at each of his photos for hours— it was like staring through the looking-glass.

His portrait of Alexander McQueen was the most amazing of all. Originally shot for Vanity Fair in March 1997, it was selected as Life's "Style Photo Winner." I learned from the caption that McQueen was "Britain's most radical fashion designer." In a voluminous ball gown and red rubber gloves that candy his arms, he wields a torch with natural ease while the wild-hatted Isabella Blow minds his train. I instantly believed that between collections he was living that naughty, decadent sort of lifestyle where one sets fire to medieval architecture if the mood strikes.

This season in Paris, McQueen's Spring 2010 collection marched down the runway, my jaw dropped, and LaChapelle's portrait immediately came to mind. I'm only posting a few images, but the entire collection is on, if you're curious. The unbridled creativity is inspiring. It's as if he's designing for another world, another time, and another species.

I hope someone is wearing this collection, somewhere in the world. And I hope that LaChapelle and his camera find them.

(Magazine photos © Littlehouse of Style, Alexander McQueen runway shots from

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Replacing the perfect boot

I can't really remember exactly how long a particular pair of knee-high black boots have been in my closet, but there are definitely photos of me wearing them in college. I bought them at a Marshall's in Connecticut, and although I did not recognize the brand (long since worn away) I knew that "Made in Italy" was a good sign when it came to leather. They had a great fit, a sturdy heel, and were comfortable—exactly what I needed to carry me across my cobble-stoned college campus. They were also about $100.

A few years ago, the seam on the calf ripped open. I brought them to my amazing shoe guy and he stitched them up. Soon after that, the heels started to wear down— another trip to my shoe guy and they were wearable again.

Of course, I always kept my eye out for new boots, but nothing ever worked. I went into Cole Haan one day and found what I thought were the perfect pair. When I tried them on, the top of the boot came up too high against the back of my knee, causing my carefully honed city strut to become something resembling the Tin Woodsman's rusty gait.

When it started to get cold this year, I pulled the boots out of my closet, broke out the shoe shine, and tried to ignore the fact that they were almost decomposing. I wore them once before breaking down and hitting the DSW— where I was met with pinched toes, synthetic leather, and cankles. Still, I knew my old boots would never survive the New York City winter, (and I would never survive the New York City winter without knee-high boots!) so I kept searching.

Persuaded by Zappos unreal return policy, I ordered 2 pairs of boots from them. The first pair didn't work out (Tin Woodsman walk), but the second pair, dramatically discounted Celine boots from last season, were perfect. Stylish, well-made, and with a fit that looks tailored to my feet, they were exactly what I had in mind. They are not nearly as comfortable as my old boots, but I have to keep reminding myself that it took over 8 years to break those in...

(all photos © Littlehouse of Style)