Fashion and Inclusivity

The fashion industry has been long thought of as an exclusive world. The reality of becoming a fashion model was always dependent on your height, build, ethnicity, and even age. Growing up in a world where there was only one accepted standard of beauty is a traumatizing experience. Thankfully, those days are nearly over. As the fashion industry is diversifying, we are seeing a more and more inclusive approach to fashion in general. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons inclusivity is now considered a norm in today’s fashion world.

 

Standards of Beauty

 

Personal identity, individualism, and self-expression have become a significant factor when it comes to consumers and how they make their fashion choices. The shifting norms of our culture have put traditionally exclusive beauty brands in a highly complicated position. The old standard of beauty is slowly making it’s exit off the runway, making room for a more diverse approach to beauty standards.

 

Today’s beauty consumers are part of a highly engaged, vibrant audience that is not limited to a single type of woman. Instead, it encompasses a variety of people from all ages, ethnicities, and genders. The standard of “mainstream” is gone, and beauty brands still trying to target this group of consumers will inevitably fall short. Marketers are now navigating a much more complex market and are actually finding an incredible opportunity for growth, authentic connection, and creativity, like never before.

 

Marketing Changes

 

Marketers used to be able to just push their unattainable, “aspirational” standards of beauty on the world. Today, they are forced to look to the consumers themselves and work with them as individuals. Consumers want products that take into consideration their unique needs, whether they are searching for makeup, skincare, or even fashion. They want clothing that is specifically designed to fit their unique body shapes.

 

What It’s All About

 

Self-care, self-love, and body positivity are what today’s consumers are after. They want to embrace the bodies they were gifted with and draw attention to their best features, not merely transform into another person’s ideal of what beautiful should be. When we give people the opportunity to love themselves, there isn’t a reason to want to be someone else.

 

This is such a positive movement and step in the right direction. In an industry that has historically excluded people for reasons such as their skin tone, or their ethnicity, their gender, and especially their body shape, there has never been many options for normal, every-day people. Recent studies point out that this is not just a trend either, this appears to be the long-term solution many women and men alike have been searching for.

 

The Runways

 

If you have not read about New York City’s 2018 Spring Fashion Week, you might be surprised to learn that it was the most curve-friendly runway show since, well forever. It was record-breaking, to be frank. 208 women, weighing more than the standard industry model, were featured in the show. It didn’t stop there. It also showed a variety of models of all ages and races across them gender spectrum.

 

Brands

 

It has always been a challenge for women to find beautiful clothing that fits their bodies properly. Thankfully, this new age of diversity-friendly fashion has given us more options than ever before. Until recently, the most popular brand of clothing for women over a size 12 was Lane Bryant. Now, it is mostly up and coming independent retailers who have been leading the market for inclusive clothing. Various startup such as Eloquii and ModCloth are leading the market currently, reaching more consumers than many other brands.

 

Corporate retailers are slowly catching on as well. Stores such as Walmart and Target have both launched their very own plus-sized clothing lines, and they have been a tremendous hit. These options have consumers ecstatic due to the variety of styles and relatively low price point. Recent studies show that the online marketplace Amazon is looking to branch out and setting its sights on plus sized clothing as well.

 

This is just smart business. The average American woman is between the sizes 16-18. To paint a picture of what that means, an average women’s medium is between a 6-8. When retailers only offer sizes as large as 2XL, they are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity. What they fail to take into consideration, is men and women are not just numbers and dollar signs, they are individuals who now want their clothing catered to them and marketers have to take that into account as well.

In summary, inclusion is so much more than offering clothes in a wider variety of sizes. It is offering consumers quality clothing in an array of price points and styles. It is showcasing men and women of all sizes and ethnicities as models. And it is eliminating the destructive standard we have placed on ourselves, thanks to the fashion and media industry. This is a new age, and it is good to see industry leaders revolutionizing the fashion world.

Red Pants: Trend or Investment?

Once I said in 1998… “Leopard print is so 1997.” I’ve said similar things about camouflage, army green, platform shoes, one shoulder dresses, grey…. and to my knowledge most of those things have hung around. Red pants came on the scene last year. They were just right, adding a “pop of color” to an otherwise drab winter wardrobe. I don’t know about you, but come January, my wardrobe often gets sucked into a black abyss, which only adds to the SAD.

Lately, I’ve been making a commitment to not only getting a pair of boots for the new season, but also an investment trouser. Last year, I got a brown tweed pair by Theory, that just looks so nice no matter what. This season, I initially started with a pair of J Crew wool trousers, but they got destroyed — torn and bloodied — when I tumbled down marble stairs just outside the Burberry SS12 show. Talk about grace!

To replace them, I invested in a nicer pair of Alice + Olivia red wool trousers. I have to say, the beautifully rich color will boost any day. The fit is snug, comfortable and classic. According to my husband it even enhances my derriere! (Is that too much information?) Anywho… it may be strange to say this, but as far as investing in such a trendy piece, it really depends on how much you’ll like wearing it. I bought a leather midi skirt last month, and so far, I’ve been wearing it a few times a week. Because of the quality, it holds up quite well and it’s worth it. As far as red pants go… I have a pair of bright green jeans that I wear almost weekly. Colorful britches work easily with the tops in my wardrobe so it’s almost a no brainer.

As for the red pants trend lasting another season? It may or it may not but as much as I love red, and I love pants… these ones are a keeper.

I’d Like to Be a Fashion Blogger, But I’m Mostly Wearing Sweatpants

There used to be a time when I would dress up every day. Get up at 5:30, go to the gym, curl my hair. Put on makeup. Put on one outfit. Take it off. Try another. Still not right, try on something else. Arrrgh! Nothing looks GOOD, and now all my clothes are on the floor, it’s now 8:15, I’m half naked and if I don’t get dressed right that second, I’m going to be half an hour late for work.

These days, Jasper normally wakes me up at 5:30. We go out into the living room. I read him about 20 baby books (it takes about 5 minutes). We play with trains. I push him around the house in his bobbycar. Then at 8:15, in my sweatpants, I slip on a pair of shoes, brush my hair, and drop the baby off at daycare. Then start work, still in sweatpants until noon, where I take a shower and that’s it. Afterwards I might just put on a cleaner pair of sweatpants. Or I might wear a pair of skinny jeans… the super stretchy kind. And that’s pretty much my sartorial schedule.

The fashion blogger who wears sweatpants when they’re not posting outfit shots is nothing new. I’ve heard many fashion bloggers admit that most days they’re in sweats, working all hours of the day semi-disheveled. Yet, you wouldn’t know it because everything looks beautiful, all the time on their blogs and social media.

It’s great, don’t get me wrong, I love an escape from my unmade bed and microwave burritos. But I wonder how much my life can I really share on a fashion blog when my actual favorite pair of pants is a pair of last season’s Uniqlo sweatpants.

Maybe it’s just a phase.

Or maybe everyone, everywhere is just tired of agonizing over what to wear. The pendulum swings both ways. After years of the the fashion industry trying to top itself in ridiculousness, or as Suzy Menkes noted, the Circus of Fashion where she complained how people wore crazy clothes to fashion shows in hopes of getting internet famous. Because you know, once you’re internet famous, your life is complete.

Or maybe, fancy sweatpants are now a staple for fashionistas everywhere? The Cut listed both sweatpants and sweatshirts for their “stylish basics.” Here’s to hoping. Even though wearing sweatpants as a fashion statement is just as ridiculous as wearing a giant cherry on your head. Yesterday, The Gap launched their new ad campaign, “Dress Normal” which, as my dad likes to say, “Normal is a setting on a dryer.” I’m guessing The Gap is meaning “normal” by understated and somewhat boring.

I actually kind of like it. Elizabeth Moss just needs to unbutton that top button though.

The point being, is that when fashion trends take a turn for the understated, what then happens to the conversation. Does the conversation quiet down too? Do people move on to talk about other things because talking about how this pair of sweatpants is cool, but those pair of sweatpants are terrible gets to be a bit tedious?

Do we all suddenly realize there is more to life than looking good, even while wearing sweatpants?

In all seriousness though, those sweat pants from Uniqlo last season were really good. I wish they would bring them back.

Wearing: Sweatpants: JCrew (Why am I showing the J.Crew after talking so much about the Uniqlo ones? To keep you guessing!) Tee: JCrew • Zip up hoodie: Target • Bag: Proenza Schouler • Flats: Jenni Kayne 

How the Simplicity of Alex Katz Inspires My Style

The worlds of fashion and art constantly cross paths. Moschino’s MacDonald’s handbags nod to the pop-art of Andy Warhol, think Campbell’s soup cans and Brillo pads. Or, in photography, think that 1999 Steven Meisel editorial of Nicole Kidman reenacting John Singer Sargeant paintings. Painters may not exactly follow trends the way fashion designers do, but they do feed off of their environments, and being as most people wear clothes. Fashion does play a part.

“My subject matter is not particularly interesting,” Katz says with a smile…

Alex Katz, 89, began painting in the 1950′s when Abstract Expressionism was en vogue, he noticed no one was painting people, or landscapes. So he decided to take that route. Of course, painting people, there is nothing unique about it. He told the Smithsonian in a 2009 interview, “My subject matter is not particularly interesting,” Katz says with a smile. “It’s not hot subject matter—you know, no crucifixions, no violence, no sex.” His paintings are a stripped down version of the world, which is where they become interesting. Though the paintings span fifty years, they still have a timeless quality. n a sense, his work portrays a universal truth. Even if you don’t live the life of an artist in New York, I can relate to the snapshots of his paintings. They’re like little moments in my memory.

What I find interesting about Katz’s work is that even though his paintings are about nothing really,  he finds a way to make them interesting without resorting to embellishment or gimmicky tricks. The paintings are distinctly personal (many of his paintings include is wife since 1958, Ava) yet universal. So, maybe I wouldn’t recreate a painting for one of my outfits, but in the search of my own personal style, the lesson is, that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I don’t have to resort to gimmicks to make my outfits “pop.” They don’t have to be special to be striking.

But… my style does have to be distinctly personal.

(yes, that’s Anna Wintour!)

We Need to Make It Easier (and Safer) to Talk About Suicide

When the news about Robin Williams broke, it felt like someone punched me in the stomach. While I was deeply saddened to hear of his death, and that he committed suicide, I was not shocked. I did see him in real life once, in 2006, and while I can’t disclose the details of where I saw him, I can say that he appeared to be going through a very rough time. I remember thinking that he too was as fragile as any human, and how hard it must be to go through difficulties when everyone expects you to be on top of the world.

“My conscious was like, “Did you just say ‘Fuck life?’” ~Robin Williams

Yesterday, I listened to Marc Maron’s 2010 interview with Robin Williams, where Williams talked about the time he thought about suicide:

Maron: Before you had the heart problem, you don’t seem to be someone who is morbidly fascinated with death…

Williams: No. I mean, it’s weird, there was this ONE time, when I was drinking  I thought had this thought “Fuck life.” Then my conscious was like, “Did you just say ‘Fuck life?’… You know you have a pretty good life…even though it’s not working right now… First of all you don’t have the balls to do it… I mean, what are you going to do, cut your wrists with a water pick? That’s erosion.”

I highly recommend listening to the whole podcast, the conversation between Maron and Williams is just so real and uncontrived. It is actually, really beautiful.

Robin Williams was the first person on television I remember admiring. I loved Mork and Mindy, and had these rainbow suspenders like he wore on the show. They were my favorite, and I wore them often. Of course I loved a lot of his films, as we all did, but the real reason why his death hurt so much, because what happened to him could also happen to me. As horrible as it is, I get it. I’ve been there.

Now, before you call 9-1-1, allow me to explain.

I’m not going to kill myself.

For those of you who know me, already know that I have suffered from depression almost my entire life. Part of that depression has included the presence of suicidal ideation. Every since I can remember, I had this reflex where I imagine my demise every time there is a quiet moment in my brain. I don’t know where it comes from, and yes, I am seeking professional help. It’s like I have this, as Dexter, puts it a “dark passenger.” Only, my passenger just likes to tells me things like, “No one cares, so just drive a knife in your chest.” Obviously, my dark passenger isn’t a very strategic planner, since it often picks methods I’m not even physically able to do.

Over the years I’ve tried many things to silence this “passenger” including drinking,  and other things like shopping, working, relationships, diet, exercise, self-help books, professional help, etc. To this day, it’s always there, lurking in the quiet.

Why not talk about it? (Until now?)

It’s been reported that most cases of suicidal ideation go untreated. While I cannot tell you the details of those cases, I can tell you that above the stigma of talking about suicide, there is the real fear of being locked up and/or having your children taken away. Once, while I was in a particularly dark place, I called the doctors office, and they asked me if I had suicidal thoughts. When I asked, “Why?” they answered with, “Well if you have suicidal thoughts, we’ll have to send an ambulance and hospitalize you.” Then, I quickly answered with, “No. I do not have those thoughts.”

“Well if you have suicidal thoughts, we’ll have to send an ambulance and hospitalize you.”

So basically, even under the protection of “doctor-patient-confidentiality” it is not easy to talk about suicide. Would you talk about it to your doctor if you even thought  they were going to hospitalize you? If you tried to talk to your friends or family, they would freak out and treat you like a mental patient? Or worse, roll their eyes and think you were “just trying to get attention?” Would you talk about your thoughts  if they would become the subject of gossip and judgement?

Would you talk about your thoughts  if they would become the subject of gossip and judgement?

According to an article on Psychology Today, “The truth is that suicidal thoughts, even the fleeting ones, are a very serious symptom of illness.” While the thought of ending your own life is indeed serious, until discussion about suicide is normalized, then we have no idea how serious it can be.

Looking back on Robin William’s conversation with Maron about the ONE time he thought about suicide, it’s obvious now that it wasn’t just that one time. Williams was very open about a lot of dark details of his life, but maybe suicide was the thing he didn’t feel entirely comfortable talking about. Perhaps things would be different if he had been more comfortable talking about suicide. Or maybe things would have ended the same way.

One thing is clear, we need to make it easier and safer to talk honestly about suicide.

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

Slow and Steady Wins The Race

So here is my first complete NYFW presentation this season, the last day, of the last hour of fashion week. Sorry, I really messed up this coverage bit. Deanne from Dream Sequins invited me along to see Slow and Steady Wins the Race, a label which is most famous for recreating luxury designs in canvas. Here she takes it a step further by taking the classic tee shirt and recreates it in 10 different fabrics. I of course was tickled pink by this and you can well see it in this video… I swear, I have a way of making everyone appear drunk, including myself in videos. Maybe I should stop making them, but somehow I feel compelled to continue.

Objects Without Meaning: The Brand That Doesn’t Pretend, Yet, Still Profound

Have you ever read a fashion label’s about page? Or a fashion show review? Often sounding more like those little placards you’ll find next to a painting in a museum, the language used in the fashion industry is heady, full of rag jargon. I get it. I went to art school, I know all too well explaining to the professor why I used certain colors or imagery. Which, for me anyway, was mostly bullshit… 99% of the time, I just “felt” that it was the right thing to do.

I believe fashion designers, like artists, graphic designers, architects, basically everyone in the visual arts, has a hard time linking that indescribable force compelling them to create to words we can actually understand. For those that can write about art and fashion, they’re like decoders, translating visual language to written. Some writers are great translators, others, well, churn out a lot of gobbley gook, which is why a lot of fashion reviews end up sounding like they want to mean something, but really mean absolutely nothing.

While Objects Without Meaning is a label with wonderful designs, I mean that’s what caught my eye at first… what really resonated was the bold-face admission that their clothes don’t have any “meaning.” They just exist.

“Objects Without Meaning resides in the present with no long-winded story to tell. We propose clothing as an empty vessel, a blank slate to be filled by the many experiences and emotions of daily life, merging nonchalance with a true sense of spirit.”

Perhaps the fashion industry has it all wrong. Our clothes shouldn’t do the talking for us, so why try so hard to make a statement?

The Young Family McCartney

You’ll have to pardon my lazy post today.

I was working on another post, for Eat, Sleep, Denim (The Beatles in Denim) and while researching, I came across this photo of Stella Mary McCartney as a baby tucked into Paul’s jacket. I just about fell out of my chair! You know, one of those moments when your ovaries burst? That happened.

Then getting lost in a Pinterest spiral, I kept finding more and more photos of the family McCartney. So much love! You could really see it in the photos. We all love our babies, our parents, our siblings, etc. but how often are we able to capture that on film (or pixels)? It’s not so easy. Anyway, this post has nothing to do with anything, but just how much I was touched by this beautiful family.

And… they are also very cool.

This just about killed me with cuteness!

Why the “Not-Feminist” Feminist Trend Is Frightening

When I think of “Not-Feminists,” usually images of older men, probably not very educated. Older women, like from my grandmother’s generation. Some people who didn’t go to college, or maybe high school. Hillbillies. The religious right. Sarah Palin types.

What’s disturbing is the new generation of Anti-Feminists are young women. Young women with careers. Seemingly educated.

They also believe that they should have the right to vote. They believe in “equality.” They believe they can be whatever they want without feminist principles.

Via Women Against Feminism

But they aren’t “feminists.”

Sure, Taylor Swift is one of these not-feminist feminists… back in 2012, she said in an interview:

I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

She’s bubbly, talks about boys, and I get it. When I was younger, I tended to dumb down my demeanor. In fact, it’s a bad habit (drives my father bananas) I still do to this day. (See my video from yesterday). Maybe she knows what feminism is, but knows very well what identifying as one would mean. Maybe she didn’t want to politicize her work because that would cost her the “nice, non-threatening girl” image.

She’s not alone. Lana Del Rey is not interested in feminist issues. Lady Gaga “hails” men. Shalene Woodley says you can’t take power away from men.

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept,” she says. “I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”  says Lana Del Rey, “My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.”

At first I thought, “Whoa, people need to get themselves a dictionary.” Here’s the Webster definition of “feminism”

fem·i·nism

noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Do we need a new word for “feminism” then?

Somehow, the word “feminist” got confused with misandry. I’m going to make an educated guess, and say the dominant group (men) felt threatened and mistook requests like, “I’d like to own property and vote” for “I want world domination.” The feminist brand is that of an angry woman, who probably hates men. Has a chip on her shoulder. Doesn’t shave. Wants to be a man.

I’d like to say, yeah, let’s get a new word! Woo hoo! New word! But the fact is, it’s called “feminism” because at the moment, women do not have the same rights and privileges as men. Feminism focuses on how to get women the same rights as men. Not more rights. The same. They don’t focus on getting men the same rights as women, because you know, why would a man want to be subjected to slut-shaming or having his wages cut by a third, even though he got better grades in college.

What needs to happen, like with any misconception, like remember when smoking was marketed as being “good for you?” No? Yeah, because people campaigned heavily for the truth: smoking is bad for you. The truth is feminism means men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

We need to talk about what feminism actually is, rather than pulling a Taylor Swift and saying we’re not feminists, but we do believe in feminist principles.

Pretty or Chic?

I used to go to this early morning support group. 6am early. In order to get there, I would just roll out of bed, throw on a sweatshirt, ratty jeans, sneakers and a baseball cap and go. For months, I did this. Then I got a job which required me to be there at 8am, so I woke up early and got dressed, put on makeup, etc. before leaving the house.

“Woah! You’re… pretty!” said one of the guys in the group.

Sure, it makes sense. We ALL look “prettier” when we dress up and wear makeup. The late Isabella Blow was notorious for using fashion to feel better, “If I feel really low, I go to see Philip [Treacy], cover my face [with his hats] and feel fantastic… Wearing a hat is like cosmetic surgery.” Blow would transform herself from what some perceived as “plain” into an exotic beauty with the extraordinary use of hats and clothes.

“If I feel really low, I go to see Philip [Treacy], cover my face [with his hats] and feel fantastic… Wearing a hat is like cosmetic surgery.” ~Isabella Blow

On the flip side, think Kim Kardashian or Lana Del Rey. They are both “beautiful”, and they obviously put a lot of effort in their image, but do you think they have great style? Beauty does not automatically give you style.

This year, with the rise of normcore, dressing down has never been more trendy. Baggy jeans, the more ripped, the better paired with Birkenstocks is practically the most trendy thing you can wear this summer. The no-makeup look is also super hot this summer. After several years of over-the-top styling and six-inch platform shoes, I do have to say dressing down is a welcome shift in trends. However, I have to wonder if the people who really carry it off, carry it off because they’re… pretty.

To put it into perspective, if, for my outfit posts, I were to wear the same exact outfit as pictured above, would it get pinned all over Pinterest?

No. I probably would just look like I gave up on life.

Now, this by no means is a ploy to get compliments or support. I’m completely comfortable with my looks …and my insecurities.

But it does make me wonder where the line between beauty and style lies.

Is a person beautiful because they have great style? Does a person have great style because they’re beautiful? Or is it their personality that makes them have great style and/or beauty?

Where do you draw the line between beauty and style?

totop