Thursday, March 25, 2010

This day in history: 3/25/1634

This is a feature I haven't done for quite a while... it is a fun and fascinating topic, but also rather time consuming. But I decided to carve out a few minutes to give my readers another dose of fashion in the context of history.

On March 25, 1634, the colony of Maryland was founded. Just thirteen years prior to this, the cotton seed was brought to America from England.

This image of Henrietta Maria, Queen of France by the artist Van Dyck would have represented the height of European fashion at the time.
However, the common American colonial settler would have found such a costume prohibitively expensive and impractical for a life of hard labor that they had to live. The populations of the settlements were sparse, and everyone had to pull their own weight, and then some. Aside from participating in the more traditional womanly arts of sewing, cooking, housekeeping, and child-rearing, the average American colonial woman would also often be required to attend to the livestock, keep up the family garden, serve as midwife to other women, and step into any more traditionally male role should her husband perish or become otherwise incapacitated. But somehow, they managed to do it all while wearing a corset.

And if that doesn't impress you, try putting on a belt a few notches too tight and doing the vacuuming... you'll get the picture. For good measure, throw on a wool sweater and hat (even if it is summer on the east coast... it didn't stop our founding mothers!)

Rather than the opulent silks and laces of their upper class European sisters, women in early Colonial America would have worn sturdier fabrics such as wool. The garments would have to be mended repeatedly because a lack of time and resources would prevent them from having new bodices and skirts when their old ones wore out. And washing didn't happen nearly as often as today.

If you are curious about what life was like for early American settlers, check out the information on Colonial House, a PBS show that aired in 2004.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Round Ones

For a fashion lover, I don't spend much time flipping through the magazines or drooling over images from various fashion weeks around the world. And this is why:

This woman

and this woman

are the industry standards of "curvy", "fleshier", and "voluptuous" and industry big-wigs are having a great time patting themselves on the back for breaking the "weight barrier".

It has even gotten to the point, after a death of a model from heart failure after stepping off the catwalk, that the industry is being pushed to institute minimum BMIs and provide food backstage.

To folks like Karl Lagerfeld, I say, "Give me these gorgeous, fit women on the catwalk any day..."

..."and tell your models who have to run around in the shower to get wet that we aren't buying what they're selling."

(PS. I'm pretty sure that modern Venus in the first picture would count as being round. And I'm pretty sure that plenty of people are more than pleased to look at her.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fashion Challenge, Part I

Some days, you feel like you have nothing to wear... Well, there are a couple of inspirational ladies who have taken that idea and embraced it!

The first woman I want to introduce you to is Zoe from So Zo (of Stash Bustin' fame). She has created a "Me Made March" challenge in which she only wears clothes that she has made all month long. Down to the pajamas and a totally awesome leopard coat! This is a pretty terrific challenge, and I can only imagine how amazing it would be if this trend took off. I think that sometime soon, I will take on something similar, but for now it will probably have to be that everyday I wear something I made rather than self-made from head to toe... but someday I will definitely be up to giving this challenge a try!

Thanks for the inspiration, Zoe, and keep up the awesome work!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Red Hot

(image via Love My Dress)

I certainly don't want to diminish the beauty of a white wedding gown (I wore white, too!), but have you noticed how I'm a little obsessed with brides wearing alternative colors? This real bride wore a show-stopping red gown for her wedding and it is absolutely stunning. It is traditional for Chinese brides to wear red on their wedding day, a tradition I hope more Western brides will consider borrowing!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Big O's!

The Academy Awards were held this weekend at Hollywood's Kodak Theater. One thing I hope that my readers will understand (and forgive me for!) is that the Oscars are usually a big social event for my friends and family, so the evening was spent more in chatting and enjoying the company of friends than in taking notes and scrutinizing what everyone was wearing. However, from a fashion standpoint, the Oscars are always my favorite awards show because it is the most formal and fashions tend to be more spring oriented (ie, less black, warmer colors and softer, more flowing fabrics).

I was not able to catch every detail, so I will share with you a few of my big favorites.

My heart skipped a beat when I spied Up in the Air's Vera Farmiga in her Marchesa gown. What can I say, I'm a sucker for ruffles, pleats, and bright pink, so this dress was my complete package!

I also happen to be a sucker for deliciously deep reds, so Penelope Cruz's strapless Donna Karan Couture was right up my alley (this picture really doesn't do it justice. It was especially lovely under the stage lights).

Avatar's Zoe Saldana truly shone (literally and figuratively) in her bold Givenchy gown. She took a chance and this fashionista says she pulled it off gorgeously.

I also really enjoyed Rachel McAdams' gown, it was a lovely juxtaposition between a formal, conservative silhouette and a fresh, somewhat whimsical, water-colory print. Her gown kept to the full, flowing, muted-color trends of the evening, but did not include any ruffles, which helped her stand out from the crowd.

There were, of course, disappointments. I thought that Demi Moore dressed too young in her peachy ruffled number. Jennifer Lopez dressed seemed to be channeling Barbie in her iridescent pink Armani Prive. And I did not love Sarah Jessica Parker in her awkward Chanel sheath.

Overall, everyone looked amazing, but I hope that next year the program will be more engaging and that the stars will be willing to step outside their fashion comfort zones a bit more.