One of the Originals

As one of the original tomboys, Marlene Dietrich is one of my style icons. She was incredibly versatile at pulling off the most extreme of menswear such as the tux, or something milder like a tailored shirt or pair of pants. I admire her abilities to pull off the full suit with the big boxy shoulders, which can look strange on many women if they do not know what they are doing (the 80s gone wrong anybody?). Dietrich never failed to always look chic.
What I love most about her approach to dressing is also what is most hard to imitate, her attitude. There is this nonchalant, daring, experimental attitude that made her stunningly seductive and sultry even in menswear. This is part of her tomboy spirit and what distinguishes her as a true tomboy and not just merely woman in men's clothing. Her clothes become just a natural extension of her inner self. Dietrich was honest and unpretentious–qualities that are considerably lacking in many people's approach to dressing nowadays. Though not everybody can be a Marlene Dietrich, everyone could certainly channel her energy and spirit to add a little spunk to your wardrobe.

 "Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them."

A Single Man

I just saw Submarine last night (another free college screening) and realized how much I missed doing "fashion in film posts" so I've decided to take a break from Fall Fabrics, my mini series. Originally I was afraid that I wouldn't have the time to go in depth for A Single Man and Io sono l'amore (I am Love), but I gathered it wouldn't be fair to the actors, the director and everybody involved with the production who came out with two such wonderful movies. Therefore to show my deep appreciation for their work, the two films did need their own respective posts. The reason why I love A Single Man really is a no brainer. I mean Tom Ford + Colin Firth + Julianne Moore + Jon Kortajarena + Nicholas Hoult + Matthew Goode + great clothes + super soundtrack = what's not to love?

The mohair type sweater Kenny sports (who is played by Nicholas Hoult) is particularly en vogue this season. I love everything the students wear and I find the neutral earthy tones to be very inspiring for fall. The students manage to look extremely presentable and stylish yet not stuffy or overtly formal–qualities that I too am trying to incorporate into my wardrobe.

Apart from the pretty faces, I love the aesthetics of the film and it's Mad Men-like attention to detail.  I like to think the reason is because Tom Ford is the director behind it all. I had my reservations about this film at first because we see so many hyphenated career descriptions are too common place nowadays, ex. model-actress-fashion designer-director-muse etc. and while it is possible to dabble in many side projects, to master each and everyone of them is highly unlikely. Ford wonderfully surprised me with his directorial debut. I am a fan of highly stylized movies and he has a definite feel of an auteur, in that he has complete grasp of how the film is supposed to sound, look and feel, down to every single rich detail. We have been inundated with so many period films featuring the 60s, it's about time that we have somebody with the proper finesse to execute their vision and set the bar high enough.

Julianne Moore was fantastic in her role as Charley, a hyper dysfunctional close friend. I feel obligated to devote more time to her style as a female myself, but it is the menswear (oh menswear) that caught my eye in the film. Big poofy hairdos, dramatic eyeliners and mod black and white dresses does not interests me as much as the interiors of her house (or menswear in general). The house is lavishly decorated with much opulence and pizzazz. The details of the furniture and choice in use of many prints reminds me of the arts and crafts movement with hints of art deco thrown in here and there.

Having visited a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the past, the wooden panelling, the low cramped ceiling, the narrow corridors, the many built-in spaces, the general darkness of the house and the use of indirect lighting made me think that this house was built by the modern master himself. I wasn't too far off when I learnt that the true architect of the house, John Lautner, was an apprentice to Wright in a program at Tallesin. It must have been a challenge to film at the house, with the inconvenient lighting and inability to move around freely with little room to experiment with different angles and shots.

This is film is supposed to be about the aesthetics but it is incredibly hard to ignore Ford's frank portrayal of love between two individuals, who both just happen to be men. Colin Firth's acting was outstanding in portraying a depressed tormented man whose lover has died and lost his raison d'ĂȘtre (I still think he was robbed of his Oscar). Though I enjoy a good laugh and will always been in need of a sassy gay friend, it's frustrating to see how they are continually stereotyped. Another issue that bugs me is the fact that "being gay" is somehow a full time occupation, that one cannot also be leader, visionary or a thinker without the attachment of the label. So thank you Mr. Ford, for creating a film that is simultaneously intellectually stimulating and incredibly visually appealing.

Screen caps via Screen Musings

Fall Fabrics: Tweed

Everybody by now must have seen all the great pics of the Tweed Run at NYC hosted by Rugby this past week from Jamie Beck and F.E. Castleberry. I would have gone if it weren't for pesky little things like essays and problem sets, grrr! Tweed is definitely a great material to wear for fall, since it keeps you warm for the cooler weather without adding bulk. You don't have to sacrifice form over function at all since it's so beautiful to look at. Mine is the more standard and traditional kind made with navy and brown wool but there is huge variety from which you can pick and choose from. I found this authentic 70s women's tweed jacket with Jada at a thrift store in Cambridge. Here is a site that I found helpful in satiating my growing appetite for tweed. I hope you liked part one of three of this new mini series, "Fall Fabrics".

New Lover in Town

Now that I am single, I am ready to fall in love again. Let me welcome my new beau, Jack Wills. Jack Wills is not only doing what Brooks Brothers can already do but doing/designing/making everything even BETTER. Boyfriend upgrade, holla! And it's not just because of the English accent or my recent case of Anglophilia. Yes things can be a tad cheesy, but it's a whole lot less awkward and campy than BB. For once, I like all the different pieces of menswear and womenswear. We will still have to see if this relationship will last, but for now things are looking good.

Via Racked

Preppy: A Review

Look at what came into the school mailbox on Friday? Only a new style book fresh off the press by the name of Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de La Chapelle. The size of the book surprised me (of course since I didn't look at the dimensions via Amazon) as I thought it would be around the size of Take Ivy. It's absolutely beautifully made and done, props to the industrial and graphic designers of the book. I had been so looking forward to finally getting this but unfortunately, I am disappointed and not at all impressed.

The sad thing is that the more I think about what I can say about this book, the more negative my thoughts seem to be. On the whole the book is comprehensive in his coverage of the origins of Preppy style till the modern times and attitudes surrounding the Preppy pantheon today, which is great if you are not so familiar with the history of the style. However, though I do not proclaim to be some sort of expert on all things prep or menswear, I am greatly familiar with the aesthetics and the history and thus everything written in the book is unsurprising and rather dull. There is nothing here that you could not have learnt on your own by reading well written blogs like Ivy Style. Even though it was generally well written, the core content remains boring. The book cannot be made better by nice fancy packaging alone. The oft ignored age old advice of "don't judge a book by its covers" ironically applies quite aptly here.

Moving beyond the writing, the images are equally uninteresting in that nothing is new or has not been seen before elsewhere. All the images were taken from past campaigns, or were culled from menswear blogs (i.e. Style Etiquette's The Black Ivy project), or and for pictures RTW collections–things that anyone could have rehashed themselves with enough willpower to open a Tumblr. Heck, Francis has unearthed much better stuff from the archives than Banks or de La Chapelle will ever will. It really is a disappointment because it does not serve any of my needs, in that it is a source of neither information nor inspiration, unlike Take Ivy. I did not want to even mention Take Ivy in here because this books pales so much in comparison to the iconic book. The point is relevant nonetheless because I had thought Preppy could do what Take Ivy did for trad and ivy styles, but of course we all know now that it sadly doesn't.

Ultimately, I believe Rizzoli achieved what it set out to do. It never planned to publish some kind of game changer from the get-go but rather wanted to capitalize on the growing interest and rising popularity of the PITA (Preppy/Ivy/Trad/Americana). It reflects how increasingly mainstream the style has become, which I will, in the most unhipster-like fashion, warmly welcome because I can finally stop shopping in the men's section. The book will just be another lackluster addition atop the coffee table–impressive to look at first but will go disregarded after a few reads. I am not quite sure what to do with my copy and don't feel like asking for a refund. I will most likely preserve the book in mint condition until Christmas when I can wrap this as an extra something something for the twins, whom I don't think would mind keeping this as something to flip through when they are bored after school or on the weekends.