Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fashion Week

Alabama Chanin’s Spring 2010 collection  is currently up for perusal on style.com
I love the easy feeling of this collection. These are (soon to be) old favorites that can be layered into an existing wardrobe and worn season after season.
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All images via style.com

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Slow Southern News

I had a vision of doing some sort of weekly news links but just as the title suggests the South is sloooow in the fashion news front. I’ll share my three measly links anyway.
  • Karen Elson opened a vintage store in Nashville, TN. This might be a good reason to travel to Tennessee! I haven’t been since I was a kid. 
  • New Orleans Fashion Week is having a casting call for models on September 19th at the W Hotel. The website says 5 to 8 but doesn’t indicate if that is a.m. or p.m
  • The SPCA is looking for models to work a fashion show benefit in February. 
I’m getting set to do some more local designer interviews and shop profiles so brace yourselves!
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Fashion at any cost

With all this talk of high end goodies a representation of a lower priced option is needed.  I’ve always had a penchant for well designed, well made clothing while retaining a budget frame of mind. I like to think of myself as less frugal, more smart shopper. The trick to outfitting yourself in high quality goods without spending high quality prices is scouring second hand shops, something I’m literally a professional at. The beauty of these shops is that many take clothing on consignment or better yet, buy pieces outright so you can swap out your gently worn garments for new (to you) items. I’ve listed my top three second hand stores in New Orleans. Feel free to add to this list in the comments section.

Seahorse earrings

In my slightly biased opinion Buffalo Exchange is the best in terms of selection, price, and style. The company was founded in 1974 and is still run by the original owners. This much loved chain has a location in the Garden District with men’s and women’s selections. There is a large range of price points and brands, from Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Nine West, Coach, Gucci, and Tory Burch to name a few.

Swap Boutique is the newest consignment shop in New Orleans, located Uptown. This certainly has an upscale boutique feel immediately when you walk in.  While they specialize in high end labels there are many mid to lower priced pieces to be found as well. They stock a good selection of sunglasses, bags, jewelry, as well as clothing. On my last trip I found Chanel sunnies, J. Crew blouses, and formal wear.

Native American Turquoise ring

If your style is more vintage than Funky Monkey is the store for you. This is Magazine St. mainstay is a given for costumes as they stock them year round, in addition to a great selection of vintage/retro jewelry, t-shirts, and more. I often find finishing touches for costumes here.

More terrific pieces I’ve procured thanks to secondhand shopping. All items were purchased at Buffalo Exchange. I apologize for the shoddy pictures and promise better photos in the future.

Lucky Brand handbag

J. Crew Collection flats
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A Big Easy Mainstay now in PDF format

Rubenstein’s is like the Nordstrom’s of the South, only better. Having opened in 1924 this upscale men’s clothing store knows a thing or two about how to dress a man. They are also known for their impeccable service.

In order to help you better integrate your new seasonal purchases with your existing wardrobe, we offer our clients a complimentary closet consultation. One of our sales associates will visit your home and provide suggestions on creatively mixing and matching your wardrobe.

In addition to the personal closet cleaner they also offer complimentary delivery, home/office appointments, shoe repair, tailoring, gift wrap, and a concierge service.

They are also involved with The Forum, an online magazine that provides style advice and offers tips on how to tell a quality shoe, designer profiles, and fashion editorials. While the content is similar to GQ or Details magazines it features the individual shops that are involved with the publication. I highly encourage y’all to check it out. Even if you can’t afford to dress in Brioni, Zegna, and Hugo Boss doesn’t mean you can’t steal some stylings from the best.

 

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Let the uniforms match the food

Domencia, John Besh’s latest high end eatery, is featuring waiters sporting paisley shirts with contrasting cuffs. This is sort of revolutionary in a town where most servers’ uniforms are indistinguishable from the next.
Read the Times Picayune article for more details, including the restaurant itself.

I slung hash for a number of years, getting sucked in by the good money and good hours while I was in college. During that period I had the displeasure of wearing ill fitting men’s button downs at every restaurant I worked at. I never understood how a restaurant could be so particular about the food, wine, glassware, and silverware yet be so passive about what the waiters are wearing. If you are dining at an elegant restaurant, dressed to the nines wouldn’t you prefer your server in something that at least fits, and is elegant or perhaps fun? Kudos to Domencia for injecting a little style into their uniforms.

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Beloved Light Vintage

I’d like to introduce y’all to Aimee Boudreaux MacIver, a native New Orleanian, high school teacher, and owner of Beloved Light Vintage.  Her store combines both her love of vintage and her hometown pride. Each piece is lovingly handpicked as an extension of her personal wardrobe and appropriately named after southern icons. Please read on to find out what makes her Etsy shop so special.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I consider myself something of an old soul. I’m drawn to anything with a story–objects, books, cities, and especially people, which is one reason I love teaching high school so much. I’m sort of a contradiction in that I have both a deep sense of home and a passionate lust for travel. I also love learning, reading, writing, creating, and thinking. And nothing beats watching the New Orleans Saints win a game.

2. How did you get in the business of selling vintage clothing?

I think I’m like a lot of vintage sellers who really are just vintage collectors who ran out of space for their treasures! Essentially, the more I collected, the more intrigued I became with all the possibility of vintage shopping. Sharing that thrill of discovery was the natural next step. And now I truly enjoy rescuing great vintage finds from obscurity so that someone else can fall in love with them.

Also, in my own collecting, I found that a lot of vintage shops can be overpriced, which just ruins the fun of the whole experience. The last thing I’d want is for vintage collecting to get overly commercialized and then end up homogenized like everything else. Instead, I wanted to create a venue that would allow other people to enjoy the same things I do about vintage shopping, but with more streamlined and efficient access–an online Etsy shop makes an ideal forum for that.

“Clear Creek” horse flounce skirt- $16

3. Is there a set style or item that you hunt for, or do you know it when you see it?

Selling vintage, for me, is kind of like match-making. I never try to sell anything I wouldn’t buy for my own closet or home. (In fact, I often decide to keep items from my own inventory or give them as unique gifts!) I just stay alert for some special detail–a fabric, a print, a color, a shape, some purely fun,kitschy element–that simply deserves to be appreciated.

I do keep a general awareness of current trends, but most of the time I’m drawn to things with a sort of classic eclecticism–retro-mod, maybe a little quirky, always stylish and well-designed.

Yet what most attracts me to vintage is that each piece has been loved by somebody, somewhere, and giving that piece a new home is a way of perpetuating the love story. It’s also a way to indulge a bit of fantasy, because vintage items give you freedom to imagine–for instance, maybe this dress was worn on the first date of a 50-years-long marriage, or maybe this handbag was used to carry the keys to a first home. With vintage, there’s a tactile connection to real, unique people whose individual dreams and lives have already been fulfilled, and that’s so much more appealing than just grabbing something mass-produced at the mall.

“Maison Dupuy” 1970s secretary dress- $24

4. What are some of the more popular items that you sell in your shop?

Our most popular items are the things you won’t find anywhere else–a piece that is unique, yet somehow has a comfortable familiarity that you recognize when you see it. Handbags, jewelry and scarves are a perfect starting entry into vintage shopping. Vintage accessories are so beautifully well-made while also being totally original and affordable. And–as I long ago realized–accessories always fit, so they’re very easy to buy online. We also sell a lot of vintage dresses, which are also easy to fit online. I’ve found that truly retro housewares are also very popular. Why buy expensive mass-produced reproductions when you can get the real thing with free shipping?

 “Mystic Tea house”
 Pyrex teacup trio- $9

5. I noticed each of your pieces have distinctive New Orleans names, such as Nottoway [Plantation] and Duplex. How do you come up with the names of the items?

I love New Orleans in that borderline-obsessive way that only other people raised here can understand. I’ve never known another city that has a soul of such wonderful contradiction like New Orleans does–lazy yet always simmering with life; deeply mysterious yet warm and hospitable; with a flair for theatrical drama yet always resilient and steadfast. You don’t live in New Orleans; New Orleans lives in you. In that sense, New Orleans captures the mystique of history and romance that I love about vintage things. Naming my items after local streets, sights,and sounds is an attempt to honor that soul.

6. Where do you see your business going in the future?

Beloved Light Vintage will always be about sharing the experience more than anything else. Customer hospitality is paramount, and I believe shoppers appreciate that commitment. From pretty wrapping to fast shipping, we want our customers to feel like they’re receiving a gift package, not just a generic order. As long as we strive to maintain our basic philosophy–that vintage shopping should be fun and satisfying, not overpriced or overly serious–I’m sure we’ll continue to grow.

“St. Tammany” mod daisy scarf- $12

7.What is your definition of Southern style?

I think the magnolia is a perfect icon of Southern style. Soft, lush, and traditional fused with bold, confident, and a bit gothic–a certain elegance paired with a vivacious joie de vivre. I just love how Southern style spikes that sense of old-school graciousness and propriety with a defiant edge. A Southern woman will wear a black-and-gold beaded cocktail dress…to a football game. A Southern woman will wear lipstick, but never be too prissy to crack a beer and peel a crawfish. Southern women know their femininity and beauty are assets, not a liability like women in so many other places believe. I think of my grandmothers and great-aunts, who would fully embraced beauty and style, but wouldn’t dream of sacrificing their beignets just to fit into a tight dress. What fun is being stylish if you can’t have a life?

I’d like to give Aimee a big “Thank you” for being my first interview subject and wish her the best of luck running her business. She is currently offering 20% off all boots and shoes throughout the month of September and as always, free shipping. Also make sure to check out her “thrift scores” and “summer farewell” sections for end of summer markdowns.

All images courtesy of Beloved Light Vintage

      
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Southern Decadence

Alabama Chanin is the epitome of southern style. Founded by Natalie “Alabama” Chanin, the creator of Project Alabama.

“Project” had a following several years ago and received mention in fashion magazines such as Vogue. The Alabama Chanin line focuses on handcrafted, artisanal style, employing craftspeople in the community. However this ‘aint your maw maw’s doilies and bonnet clad geese sweaters. These highly skilled craftspeople produce beautifully stitched clothing and accessories.

“We craft limited-edition products for the individual and the home. Our products are made-by-hand using a combination of new, organic and recycled materials. Each piece is constructed with care by talented artisans who live and work in communities in and around Florence, Alabama.”

A fine example of their work are the not so basic fitted t-shirts.

The tees are crafted out of organic cotton and have beautiful appliques that showcase sublime stitching. These pieces of art aren’t cheap; the more basic variety starts at $240 and creeps up to $450 for the more intricate ones. However for those of us who can’t afford to drop so many benjamins on one garment there are options. Alabama Chanin also sells DIY kits to try your hand at recreating their masterpieces. For $45 you can purchase all of the materials to make your own Chanin shirt. There are a myriad of other DIY kits for sale, such as skirts, tea towels, tablecloths, and even journal covers. I urge you to view the rest of the site, including Natalie’s journal. This is southern craftsmanship at its finest; intricate and decadent yet laid back and completely wearable.
       
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People of the South

I just discovered People of Walmart, an excruciatingly funny look at  Walmart shoppers around the country. Unfortunately for those of us that reside below the Mason-Dixon line, things aren’t looking too good. Many of the pictures were taken in Southern states,

Proceed when you are ready.

Florida- How hard is it to buy clothes that fit?

Kentucky- ditto

These next two were taken in our very own state of Louisiana.

We have to make the madness stop! Ladies and gents show the rest of the country that not all of us dress like this. Send your outfit snapshots to nolagurl@gmail.com so we can fight the good fight.

All images via http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/

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Think before you dress

     Since this is a southern specific blog I’m required to bring up a ubiquitous look around town, the prepster. Before y’all squeal in horror and erase this blog from memory let me speak my case. I’m here to help!
      Pretty much without fail every weekend the same guys are out at the same bars wearing the same  uniform  they wore last weekend.  When done correctly preppy  can be playful and even chic but most guys take an all too literal approach to their dressing and end up looking like their dads in an oversized polo, khaki pants (or khaki cutoffs!) and boat shoes. 
     I’ve started playing a game at my neighborhood watering hole called “boat shoe count”. Fortunately it isn’t a drinking game, otherwise I would have left the bar in an ambulance the first time I played it.  Guys, y’all need to make an inkling of an effort! I’d be a little embarassed to show up somewhere wearing quite literally the same outfit as six of my friends. My point is that you can opt to wear a very traditional look and stand out in the crowd at the same time.

Let’s play with some pieces, shall we?

Both of these looks are from Obedient Sons, a designer who focuses on prepster style but manages to produce unexpected results. The hooded khaki topper would be easy to wear in real life, coupled with jeans and yes, boat shoes. A substantial watch keeps it from looking too fashiony.

I love the gray pants here. While an all gray ensemble would send most guys running, it is easy to take these pieces and add and subtract what you’d like. Take note that they are pleated and loose fitting in the leg, but they are slightly trimmed through the calf. This would be excellent with a blazer, or a simple t-shirt as portrayed on the runway.

There you have it, two simple, well made pieces that reside in the prepster realm yet are far from ordinary. Don’t say I didn’t try to help.

Images via men.style.com

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