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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Fashion (35)

Friday
Jan272012

{On Trend} The Back is Back!

First of all, have you see this? I have a hang-over just thinking about it.

Second, it’s been a while since I dove right into the goodies of wedding fashion world, so I thought I’d chat about one of my fave new trends right now – the open/sheer back detail of weddings gowns.

Now, we could all roll our eyes and think of ourselves as lemmings, assuming the trend is hot because of Carolina Herrera’s gown that whatsherface wore in that incredibly stupid Twilight saga movie. Make no mistake, I was in the theater the weekend it came out, but ohmygod was it bad.

But seriously, a trend isn’t going to become one unless people like it and want it. Need proof? Is ANYONE talking about or copying that god awful headpiece that Kardashian wore on her wedding day? No. Why? Because it was stupid and no one wants to wear that shit.

If you look at trends from a spot about 10,000 feet above all the noise, you can see things moving and morphing. Trends start off small and then grow to horrid extremes and then are gone, POOF! Just like that.

So floating above the noise, looking down at the wedding gown world, it seems all we’ve witnessed for years is a variation of strapless. Strapless, strapless, strapless as far as the eye could see. Why? I think it was a knee-jerk reaction to the sleeves of the 1990’s. (Side bar: so many of my girlfriends from college got married in the 90’s and the lamentations I’ve heard over their gown choices now are TOO FUNNY!). The sleeves got carried away and then Vera Wang stepped  into the scene with her gorgeous simplicity and on a dime, the direction changed.

I love that Kate Middleton brought us back to sleeves and her sister made our jaws drop at the stellar simplicity of the backside of her bridesmaid gown. I would pay some money to know whether or not she was rockin’ some Spanx because DAMN GIRL! Nice ass!

Anyway, you can see things trending from afar. Want a tip? In the décor area, we’ve seen French Provincial and it’s iterations for SIX SEASONS. I wouldn't put a lot of investment into that look for too much longer. We've worn ourselves out with it.

So instead of further dissecting trends, let’s just enjoy some eye-candy of this current one, shall we? Love me some back detail!

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Marchesa

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Angel Sanchez

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Claire Pettibone

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Reem Acra

Here are just a few more, jaw dropping inspirations.

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All photos found in and around here.

So what do YOU think? Loving the trend or no? Do tell.

Thursday
Jan262012

{DIY Tutorial} When Your Husband Ruins His Clothes, Make Them Yours!

The last time I posted a clothing DIY tutorial, it was because The Candyman had ruined one of my favorite shirts. The Candyman, if he’s anything, is totally a guy when it comes to certain things. He never puts the dishes away in the same place twice. Clothes will lay strewn over and around his hamper, but hardly ever IN his hamper.  There is a halo of crumbs and food stuffs around the leather chair he sits in to watch TV. Like I said, totally a guy, right?  This guy status also applies when it comes to reading the care labels on the clothes he washes. This happened to include a wool sweater he had that he washed (on hot, I’m gonna guess) as well as dried in the dryer. It didn’t turn directly into felt, but shrunk way beyond wearing.

I came across the sweater last week, sitting in the closet, gathering dust and I took it out to give to Goodwill or something. The color was so pretty that I thought it might be a good candidate for a project.

And besides, I wanted a new sweater.

before after

So I would say that this DIY tutorial is rated, on a difficulty level of 1 to 5 with 5 being the hardest, at about a 3. You definitely need a sewing machine.

Here’s what I did:

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Because the sweater had a center placket with buttons, I simply cut the width of the placket up the length of the sweater. Basically, I just followed the cable pattern along the sweater.

cut sweater

So now you’ve got some raw edges to deal with. You want to finish those off and turn them to the inside. You can edge-finish with bias tape, ribbon, lace, seam binding – all sorts of goodies. I had a hard time deciding:

ribbon

You’ll want to choose one that is weight appropriate for your sweater. This is a pretty thick wool, so I choose the brown, vintage velvet ribbon.

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You’ll want to measure two equal lengths of the ribbon, one for each side of the sweater. Pin and sew the ribbon on. I did what’s called “stitching in the ditch” with my ribbon. This means I sewed on the very, very edge of the ribbon (“the ditch,” if you will) to keep it pretty-pretty.

Fold the ribbon over to the inside of the sweater and press. My ribbon got a little crinkly after I turned and I pressed it, but it totally looks cute, me thinks. Once the whole thing was done, it actually smoothed out a lot.

The next step is to stitch the opposite side of the ribbon down to the sweater. I did that using  a whip stitch. Grab up a few threads of the sweater, but don't go all the way through the sweater with your needle. You don't want to see your stitches on the fashion side of your sweater.

Next, you need to make the sweater fit your bod. This isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you get the general fit, you’ll want to measure one side and mimic the measurements on the other. You can use a sweater you already have as a guide, if you’d like. Don’t forget to include the sleeves in this reduction step!

I machine basted the seam first, checked it for fit and then sewed a permanent seam. There will be a little bulk on the sides at this step, but don’t worry. We’re about to fix that.

seam finishing.

If you’re Ms. Fancypants and have a serger, you could probably use that. I think sergers are The Devil and have a theory on how they’re the demise of fine sewing, but that’s a rant for another day.

Now, since I’d cut away part of the middle front of my sweater and taken up the sides, that means there’s still going to be more fabric in the back than in the front. To fix that, I made a dart up the back.

Here’s a basic tutorial on how to sew a dart, though her methods are NOT couture (yes, yes, I'm a fucking sewing snob) and go against how I feel about people teaching shit on the internet, it's not too terrible a tutorial.

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After I sewed the dart, I cut it open (this is not what one normally does with a dart, but the material is so bulky, I had to) and pressed the dart open. I finished the raw edges like I did the seams and whip stitched the edges down to the sweater, just to keep them flat. You can skip that whip stitch step if you aren’t an anal retentive freak.

Now at this point, I could stop. I’ve got a basic cardigan with no closures, my seams are finished and it looks cute. But I’ve still got some left-overs I feel I should do something with. Remember the placket and center cable I cut out of the front?

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I decided to use these scraps as a front closure. I dug through The Button Bag because those faux leather things weren’t going to cut it. It’s been like 800 years since I dug through The Button Bag and who knew I had a whole other bag inside The Button Bag with all sort of vintage goodies! All so much cuter than that brown one, right?

buttons

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I cut the top button and button-hole of the placket off so that the top edges would already be finished. The two other edges that weren’t? I simply did a fast whip-stitch over them using matching thread. And you totally can't even tell! It blends right into the heather gray of the sweater and looks totally professional.

I changed out the button, lined everything up at my waistline and sewed the plackets on by hand. You could do it by machine, but it would stretch out the area and probably make it look like shit. I’m just sayin’.

 

So taking pictures of myself is NOT a personal strength as you can tell by the above shots. However, I am SO HAPPY with this sweater, I can’t stand it. I’m totally long-waisted and most waist closures end up under my boobs. The fact that this fits right at my waist and is long enough all over (even got to double fold the sleeves up for a cute cuff!) makes me want to do the happy dance across town. I did do the happy dance across the studio, but I’m not sure that  counts. Does it?

The stand up collar looks great with my hair up and I added some fun dangly earrings that matched the metal of the vintage button. CA-YOOT!

So, too much for your average tutorial, or do you think you could do it? Do you like? I’m definitely going to be stealing more of The Candyman’s ruined sweaters. Yeah, there's more than just the one.

I'd love your feedback!

Monday
Nov072011

A Style Council? Please?

I went shopping a few weeks ago for a suit jacket. I had a thing that required it. I thought perhaps I just needed a new top that I could wear with an existing ensemble that had been hanging in my closet since the last time I wore it, which was September of 2004.

What?

So I took said ensemble shopping with me. We walked the mall together. We looked at a myriad of tops and accessories together in attempt to make the old new again. We bought a bright red top and considered some animal print shoes. We went home and showed The Candyman.

Let’s just say that from there, everything went downhill…and fast.

My old outfit fit, therefore I thought it was suitable. Workable. Doable. I thought a spicy new top and some new shoes and hip accessories might bring it back to life.1 I had spent ALL DAY  at the mall with this theory and  Tim Gunn’s “make it work” pulsing over and over in my head. I spent more time than I wanted to trying on crap, checking the sale racks and trying on more crap. In hindsight, the red top was a cry for help. It was an act of desperation.

When I modeled for The Candyman and told him my idea about adding the shoes and the jewelry, he stared. “It’s not you. You just don’t look like you.”

This started a HUGE fight that lasted the rest of the night. The fight broke off into different semi-related segments that all pretty much lead back to the fact that I was super-stressed and taking it out on him.

I went out the next day and returned the red top, went to yet ANOTHER mall and stomped around in a general state of hate and discontent, attempting to find me.

It took me almost 6 hours, but I found a top and jacket I could wear with a totally different skirt. The top was more than I would have ever paid for a plain, black knit top, but it fit (SHOCKER!) and I suppose it balanced out the low cost of the jacket I got. I didn’t show The Candyman. I didn’t want a repeat performance of the last bedroom-cum-runway show so kept my fashion choices to myself.

I did ended up looking like myself and when I came home in the new outfit, he complimented me and said how nice I looked. When I asked, he agreed that I looked like me.

Thank God.

But it’s been nagging at me ever since. What is it that makes me look like me? Since I’ve been semi-self-unemployed-working-from-home for the last year, my necessity for clothes and my budget for them has pathetically waned. I’ve purchased a few things, but always on sale and mostly because of a drastic need for them.

I was looking through my closet this weekend and realized that desperation purchases do not a selection make. Lots of pieces I bought in my mid-thirties. I am no longer in my mid-thirties and the continuation of my old fun and funky, sometimes hippie-chick style seems…..unnatural.  Then again, I’m not even close to ready to shopping at Chico’s where Boxy-R-Us is the costume de rigueur. I don’t want to cut my hair into some coiffed shoulder-length, overly-processed and highlighted bob. I don’t want to look like a MILF or a Cougar, nor do I want to let myself go the frumpy hippy or soccer mom route either.

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Skirts too short. Hair too blonde. Boobs to over-processed. Even if you took all that nonsense away – simply too trendy.

And please, for the love of God, someone shoot me if I ever go the way of “The Glam Gals” who promote (and I use that word lightly) fashion for women over 40.

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Not that they look bad or inappropriate or anything like that. They just look like they are about to sell me some Mary Kay product and that scares me. These are women I want to run from, even though they might actually be really nice ladies.

I think I still feel the need to channel that Sarah Jessica Parker/Carrie Bradshaw vibe that I’ve identified with before Sex and the City even existed. I still feel that need to be fun and funky, but without baring too much skin, being disgustingly trendy and shall I say it….yes, I will: age appropriate.

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The question that nags at me constantly is: how do I accomplish that on a shoe-string budget and a waning sense of self-confidence?

Anyone with answers? Yeah, those would be much appreciated.

1 The fact that I just referred to a top as "spicy" might be the bigger issue here.

Wednesday
Aug102011

{Vintage Fur Stole} Product of the Week!

I have a feeling I might get a little back lash for this post/product, but so be it. The item in question is a fur stole.

My 2 cents on fur:

I don’t think animals should be raised purely to slaughter for the sake of fashion. This kind of “manufacturing” simply doesn’t fit into our contemporary society. I wouldn’t want to wear fur in that way and I don’t support it. I do however, believe in recycling, up-cycling, refurbishing and reusing. And I am carnivorous. It is my hope that all parts of the animal end up in good use — including skin and fur. Vintage furs are out there in the world. I can’t help what has already been done. I can’t undo it. I can, however, redo it. 

For the record, the ASPCA does not believe in vintage fur. While I generally stand behind them on many issues, there are others I don’t. Vintage fur is one of them.  I like the idea of using second hand fur. The material lasts for generations if handled well and the use value of fur is really good in northern climates. Fur is WARM!

OK, now that that’s out of the way….on to the Product of the Week!

Vintage Fur Stole

OK, so I found this fur collar at a flea market along with some other collars and cuffs for a steal. The pelt was in relatively good condition: it was pliable, no cracks or tears. There was one little crinkly spot, but I bought it anyway.

I’m not sure what this fur is, and neither did the seller. We think it’s mink. Or rabbit. I don’t think it’s fox, but it could be. I have a vintage fox fur jacket and the furs are nothing alike, but I’m not a furrier. All I know is that it’s definitely animal (it wasn’t lined when I bought it) and it’s definitely pretty!

So I lightly oiled the inner pelt to make it as soft as possible. There are recipes online that include natural oils (olive, flaxseed, etc.) that you mix with a mild acid (like vinegar) to condition leather and skins. I’d never done this before so was super nervous. However, it totally worked! No weird smell afterwards and I got it as soft as possible, methinks. The one little wrinkle can still be felt, but I don’t think it deters from the overall piece.

Now this collar had clearly been ripped off of something else. It still had an odd sort of binding tape sewn to it that I was fearful of removing based on the delicate nature of the piece. I left it there.

I completely re-lined the fur with a super-soft felt batting, just to give it a little more dimension and softness. Then I lined it with a slub weave, satin-back matte gold silk that matches those darker areas of fur. 

The clasp is a vintage rhinestone brooch that I still have to clean before I add it on. You can see the little pin holding it on in the below photo. 

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I’ve got some hang-ups on this piece though. The edges were not trimmed well and I needed to preserve as much of the fur as possible. As a result, some of the outside edges  feel wonky if you run your hand across the underside of the stole. I don’t like how the lining isn’t laying completely flat either, because of those wonky edges. Honestly, there’s nothing I can do about it and it’s not noticeable when the piece is on. However, my highly critical self is wondering if it’s sellable.

To a regular consumer, I bet it’s just fine. Most people think my concerns are too hairsplitting anyway, so I’m trying to keep that in mind. And I can totally see this on a fall or winter bride – someone who has or wants a bit of vintage flair to their wedding ensemble. I like it because it’s not one of the big white puffballs you see everywhere on the interwebs.

I’m considering it for a give-away, but that vintage rhinestone piece is sooooo beautiful (and it wasn't cheap), so maybe not.

And did you notice my lovely model? That’s right, I got a dress form from The Candyman for my birthday! And this is a no shit, kick-ass dress form. I actually DIY’d my own body form out of duct tape (check out this tutorial from Thread Bangers) but it just stood in the corner and stared at me, mocking me in it’s inadequacy. The Candyman really came through with the most awesome and generous birthday gift. Here’s a full length shot:

Ooooh, and from this angle, I just noticed that wonky edge. See it just above her left boob? You can’t see it straight on or looking down on it though. Hm. I’m also noting that my bottom book shelves are actually sagging under the weight of all my books. And yes, those are my cake toppers poking out from one of my pattern drafting folders.

OK, so loving my dress form. I’m kind of loving the fur stole. I need feedback though, people. Should I sell it or consider it for a give-away since its not 100% perfect or what? Or am I over-analyzing, yet again?

Help.

Thursday
Jul212011

Trend Alert on Friendship Bracelets–What Are We, 14?

OK, OK – so they say that nothing in fashion is new – everything is repeated. As someone who sat through a semester of the History of Apparel, I can vouch for this validity, save a few styles like wearing cones of scented beeswax on your head (Egyptians. Oh yes they did!) and Chinese foot binding (do you know where men use to put those teeny tiny feet? Oh yes they did!).

We’ve seen Empire waistlines several times: the first to rock out this style were our Greco-Roman sista’s who called it a Peplos or Chiton. If you’re an 18th century novel junkie like I am, you know that’s what all the hip gals wore back then (think: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy [*swoon*]). We saw them again with the 1920’s flappers (the true rebels: they whacked off all their hair into bobs, refused to wear corsets and drank gin and danced the night away!) and then again with the hippies in the 1960’s. Now go ahead and Google yourself “empire waist dress” and you won’t find any of the above. What you will find are links to ModCloth, ShopStyle, Zappos. Go figure. What truly goes around, comes around.

So apparently we’re back to friendship bracelets.

These first became popular in the1960’s as part of the whole hippie/free love bullshit. They were originally fashioned after American Indian weaving techniques. Did you know that? In the 1980’s there was a resurgence of friendship bracelets that I believe was due to the first 1960’s revival (trends tend to cycle on a 20-25 year turn). I mean, The Grateful Dead hit Billboard’s Top 40 in 1987 for crissakes (I swear, even now if I hear that song, I want to claw my eyes out)! Honestly, I much preferred the late punk/New Wave scene myself. At any rate, I wore plenty of friendship bracelets. I remember summers at the beach with embroidery floss looped around my big toe, knotting myself into a frenzy of BFF love. I had a purple and lavender colored one I wore around my ankle for years. It was the one friendship bracelet (anklet?) I wore until it fell off. You know that’s the point, right? The friend ties it on and then you never take it off – you let it wear off. Yeah. As a sign of your never-ending friendship. Right. In hindsight, that’s pretty fucking gross. 

I had another one that I wore around my wrist for like, ever. It was WAY special. It was given to me by one Shane Fontayne, the guitarist for Lone Justice, my most favorite 80’s band of all time (love me some cowpunk!). That band got me the worst grounding of my life. Me and a friend showed up WAY early at a club where they were playing in hopes of catching a sound check or something since we too young to get into the club. It worked. Marie McKee showed up, took pity on us (most likely because she was coked up out of her skull) and took us in through the kitchen and we hung out backstage. I’ll spare you all the teenage dream details, but I ended up making out with the guitarist. He had no idea I was 16. What I do know is that I broke curfew big time and spent 30 days chained to my house, with 2 weeks of that with NO CAR. Like, I had to take the goddamn bus to school. *shudder* I got this severe punishment because as I was being lectured to within an inch of my life, I got fed up and said the following: “Well, if I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same way.” Not. Smart. Pops whipped out an “Oh yeah?” and quickly processed me into the worst suck punishment EVER.

And you know what? If I had to do it all over again? Hell to the yeah I’d do it again! That night ranks in with the top 10 best nights EVER! It was worth every minute of grounding. Smile  In fact, in exchange for the friendship bracelet the guitarist gave me, I tied the scarf I was wearing in my hair around his neck. He’s wearing it here on MTV’s 6th Annual Rock and Roll New Year’s Eve Bash. Yeah, I’m that old. And apparently he liked that scarf cuz he’s still wearing it here.

ANYWAY, total digression. Back to friendship bracelets. I recently came across a bunch of crap in my studio – embroidery floss from the 80’s! For reals. Check it:

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And I even found this little nugget of love in that tangled mass:

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Holy shit. First, I should be shot for that disgusting color combo decision, but that, my friends, is the tail end of a friendship bracelet made only God knows when. Nice. I wonder who I gave it to? 

So the bracelets today are much fancier and totally too expensive.

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Ariel Gordon for $108

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$198 via Bottica

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$40 from Max & Chloe

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$30 from Disney Couture Kidada Collection

They are just too fancy. I mean, the point of them is that they are supposed to get grungy and dirty and nasty and wear off. But I guess as with all things that go around and come back around, there’s always a little something different to make it new again.

Me? I’ve been there, done it already. I can’t get on board with it, just like I can’t do leggings again. Or brightly colored Ray-Bans. Or drop-waist dresses or RaRa/Bubble skirts. Nooooooooooo. I cannot. What about you?