No Nonsense

pintuck dress

I hope you can get a good enough idea of the gorgeousness of this dress from this slightly washed-out photo. This is the perfect dress to wear with an insouciant air of extreme competence, while still projecting that essential "I could crush you like a bug" vibe. This dress needs serious glasses, high round-toed heels, a pencil behind one ear, and a healthy dollop of Fracas or Chanel No. 5. Sexy secretary is not in it — this is sexy BOSS.

It's 34/25/35, and $68 (including shipping!) from Penny Lane Vintage, and it's magnificent. I would buy it myself (I'm a sucker for pintucks), and if it's still around in January I just might. I have two very similar dresses, not tucked, but with that high round neck and long lines, both black. I wear them when I need to be taken VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED.

Click around in the Penny Lane listings, there's some nice (and nicely priced) stuff to be had. It's not too late to make amendments to your Santa list. I hear he has an email address now …

Walter Lippman wasn't brilliant today

Anthony Price dress

Ten points for the first person who can tell me, without Googling, the source of the subject line and why it relates to this dress. I am inexplicably drawn to this acetate dress from Lost Horizon Vintage; it's calling to me, and not politely, either. This is a "Hey, you! Yes, I'm talking to YOU!" dress. If I had a spare $375 it would be mine; if you do (and can fit into 36/26/35) it could be yours.

Be sure to click through to Lost Horizon site, not only so you can see how the zipper goes around the back and over the curve of the lower back, but also to check out her other dresses. There are some amazing things there …

I can't tell if it has pockets or not but I just don't care, it's cheering me up and that's good enough!

The Lagerfeld … ah, you know the rest.

Fendi dress

Don't get me wrong–The Lagerfeld Must Still Be Stopped, but there's one point of redemption on this dress. Can you guess what it is?

Yes! The midriff band! (Okay, and possibly the round collar). Take away the godawful puffed sleeves and what can only be described as a shoulder peplum; remove (with a plastic fast-food knife if there's nothing else to hand) the apron detail and the ruffles on the skirt, and concentrate seeing a dress with that ruched midriff band and deep front slash. You could even leave it in that fabric, it's not at all bad, although I don't know if I would pair it with those sandals (and I even have a pair much like those!).

In my fantasy/theory, some design assistant at Fendi put together the dress I describe above, with simple cap sleeves, maybe, and the Lagerfeld swooped in, clanking (as he does, with all that extraneous metal, god forbid you're ever behind him in an airport security line) and says "Not enough random fug! My god, have I taught you all NOTHING!" and then he proceeds to add crap until the good dress underneath is completely obscured.

Of course, this is all pure speculation mixed with not enough sleep (and truly terrible dreams) on my part. Perhaps there was even more fug on this dress (although where you could put it, I have no idea) and the Lagerfeld, he used his weird sharp rings to pare it away. But I doubt it.

May I Digress?

prada Spring 2005 loafers

prada Spring 2005 loafers

I know I don't usually talk about shoes here, because so many other bloggers do it so well, and also because I believe someone's shoes are like their children: you should only give praise and never criticism (that is, if you want them to remain your friend!). However, take a look at these! The top pair, are (as the Manolo would say) the shoes of the surpassing comeliness, from the Prada. The bottom pair are the very faithful … homages, shall we say, from Via Spiga. Guess which pair I bought yesterday?

I've been obsessed with the Prada ones since last Spring, when I saw them in the March Vogue (the shoot with Andre 3000 and Liya Kebede) and everyplace else, and I came very, very close to buying a pair until I discovered I am constitutionally unable to spend nearly $400 on a pair of shoes. (I broke out in hives contemplating it.) I am, however, perfectly well able to spend $80 on a pair of shoes, especially when they are on sale at Bloomingdales and are the only pair left in my size …

What does this have to do with dresses, you say? Merely that a little black loafer, with a low vamp and a low heel, is simply the perfect shoe for the day dress. Dressy enough to wear to work, yet nicely informal with bare legs in the spring and summer, comfortable enough to walk long blocks, feminine (it's the low vamp) but not frilly or girly … I've been wearing variations of this shoe for more than twenty years, which I figure makes it a personal classic. There is nothing more universally appropriate before 6 PM than a cotton dress worn with loafers like these and a little cardigan. If I have anything even approaching a uniform it would be this combination.

I've already put together an eBay search for this style name in my size; I'll probably try to buy another pair before spring. When you find a perfect pair of shoes and for one reason or another, can't buy another pair right then, hie yourself to eBay and set up a recurring search for them. Everything shows up on eBay eventually, and with any luck you'll be able to grab another pair, and cheaper, even after they've left the stores.

No More Alibis, by Sylvia of Hollywood (1935)

I got this as a present last night (OMG best.present.ever.) and am already entranced by the absolute sadism of Sylvia. Check this out:

from The "In-Between" Figure
"In-Betweens" have worse problems than the fat or skinny ones, who know their figures are wrong. They don't need anybody to tell them so. But you "in-betweens" often get the idea you're all right. And you aren't. Just take a good look at yourself. No, you aren't fat. And you aren't thin. But look at that chest. It's too flat. your ankles are too thick. Your abdomen sticks out. I haven't space to tell you your other defects. But I bet they are there–and plenty!

from Keep That Perfect Figure!
… you fat babies must always watch your diet. And watch those scales daily just as a scare. Now that your proportions are right, your scales will warn you the minute they begin to go up. That minute, back on the reducing diet for you.

on liquids:
Fatty people must not drink too much water. Two glasses a day are plenty with the liquids I've given you. Too much water enlarges the stomach. …

on foundation garments
I don't believe in trying to hide bulges and bumps of fat by tight corsets. As a matter of fact, they are never hidden, just shifted from one place to another, in most cases making you look worse. The only sensible thing is to get rid of those bumps. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that you should go waddling into a room without any corset. I'd call that stupidity.

on swimming
Remember, too, that swimming builds you up. It's wonderful for you thin ones. But it won't reduce you fat ones. For you, sun baths in moderation and cold plunges in fresh or salt water are splendid.

on posture
If you think I am too hard on you or exaggerate, just go to a museum and take a look at the early Egyptian figures. Notice their sitting posture. You will see there wasn't a slumping abdomen in a tombful, and that many thousands of years before Christ, the Egyptians used Sylvia's methods.

on relations between the sexes
I am aiming to please the husbands, too. I don't want them to have to sit across a table from a woman with a mean disposition and hungry, wolf-like expression in her eye. It pays the nationally advertised beauties to take care of themselves because their living depends on their looks. And more and more, every woman's living depends on her appearance. We all have to earn our living one way or another. And men are getting more particular and critical about women every day.

Oh, I could quote Sylvia all day! But I'll stop now. More later.

Black and Blue

Donna Karan Spring 2006 Dress
I seem to be drawn to that bruise color combination lately; maybe it's an outward extension of my inward clumsiness (I still have a bruise on my hip from falling down a flight of stairs MONTHS ago). Anyway, I went to to go find a picture of this OTHER Donna Karan dress, that I saw in Harper's Bazaar, but then was distracted completely by this blue and black number.

I really, really love square necklines — have I mentioned this before? I mean, more than five or six times? And you can't tell from the picture, but the sash goes THROUGH the side seam to tie UNDER the fabric of the dress in back, so that the whole back tents out and streams behind you. So lovely, although I'm sure in practice you would always be closing it in the car door.

I also am a big fan of those square sleeves and a wide hem band, so all in all this dress is nicer than the one that originally caught my eye, because on that one I wasn't completely convinced that the nude fabric over the shoulders (that makes the dress look as if it started abruptly right above your cleavage) was a Great Idea.

Check out the whole Donna Karan slide show. She seems to have gotten over her crazy idea that women only want to dress in beige jersey knit, and the dresses for next spring are lovely! Abstract prints and nice lines. Sure, there's plenty of brown, but in a darker shade, not the walking Band-Aid it seemed she favored before …

Dresses on the wire

The AP Wire, that is. There was an article on how "the cocktail dress is back!" that ran last week. I'm linking to the version from the Winston-Salem Journal as a shout-out to my hometown …

Some highlights:

"We're seeing a fitted bodice, fuller skirt – often knee-length to midcalf – with a raised or natural waist, a very defined waist."

Hear, hear!

But with all the choices available, Andrews suggests trying something other than the round-neck, sleeveless black sheath that's become the standard "little black dress."

Yes, please!

But, in The-Lagerfeld-He-Must-Be-Stopped Dept.

His fall-holiday Lagerfeld Gallery collection features … a brown sleeveless dress with a pleated hemline, beaded waistband and white high-neck collar.

I believe this is the dress in black:

Look how cunningly the armscye is cut into a point, making it impossible to wear an ordinary brassiere under the dress! Look how high the collar is, so that it will make a red mark on the underside of the chin, and create a double chin where none exists! Look how the pleats are placed to highlight the widest part of the thigh! The Lagerfeld! He MUST BE STOPPED.