Roaring Prohibitions

Today in bar prep, I have been “furiously” reviewing Criminal Procedure. All the terminology stirs the imagination towards gangster movies. “Terry” frisks? Search and Seizures? Warrant based off an anonymous tip? You gotta be kiddin me… I got my rights!

You know the Hollywood schmaltz.

In the fervor of the period, here’s today’s selection from my very own rotating crap game. Don’t ask questions. After all, you know the score, kid.DSC_0569 (2)DSC_0580DSC_0564 (1)

Outfit Details: Cloche: Merona | Scarf: Liberty London | Lipstick: Chanel | Velvet Coat: Vintage | Frock: Theory | Belt: Souvenir from Budapest | Watch: Vintage | Shoes: Vigevano (Fun Fact: Vigevano actually produced the first rubber soled tennis shoes in the 1920s)DSC_0592 (1)DSC_0588 (1)

Now scram (if you know what’s good for ya).

Fireside Chat: Cultural Appropriation


The fashion industry is routinely harangued for so-and-so designer’s latest cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation?  As defined by Susan Scafandi, a Fordham University law professor and author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, it is the

“Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from
someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another
culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols,
etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been
oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive,
e.g. sacred objects.”

Most recently notable, Native American headdresses are sure to stir the waters (whether from H&M or Victoria Secret). Noticing the attention these stunts garner, Urban Outfitters almost bi-annually produces a controversial headline-grabbing garment of some sort, and while not all of these (*ahem* Kent State) involve cultural appropriation per se, it is certainly a tick mark on their list of tactics. However, one of the most high-profile perpetrators of cultural appropriation, is none other than Chanel designer (and superstar himself) Karl Lagerfeld (here is his headdress).

Arguably one of the most productive designers today, Mr. Lagerfeld works as creative director for Chanel, Fendi, and his eponymous line, resulting in quite a few shows when you start to tally, not to mention, the larger-than-necessary number of looks Lagerfeld usually incorporates in each. Lately, he has adopted the practice of designing Metiers D’Art shows (acting kind of like a pre-fall collection) around their upcoming locations (Dallas, Mumbai, Edinburgh, and Austria to name a few). In Dallas, we were given boots, buckles, and prairie skirts galore. Edinburgh brought kilts, puffed sleeves, and collar bibs. Mumbai sported tikkas, lots of gold flourishes, and sarong sandals (despite preparing for autumn weather). And about a month ago, we received Lagerfeld’s “take” on Austria.

The question I’d like to explore is how Lagerfeld’s “take” on different cultures co-exists with cultural appropriation (for better or worse). Further, why has there been no decriers of cultural appropriation accompanying the Salzburg release? What makes us feel (righteously) that headdresses are offensive, while the Austrian — shall we call them yodeling? — hats are just cultural appreciation? How does the majority/minority influence constitute our opinion (and from what perspective do we consider what makes a minority). Does Lagerfeld’s German ancestry provide him an out in regards to Austria?


So why would cultural appropriation or borrowing be a problem? It would seem that fashion, that steadily evolving amalgamation, depends on borrowing as a form of transformative imagineering to survive… Yet, cultural appropriation can be interpreted as the wealthy majority robbing the disenfranchised of their only commodities (and meanwhile misrepresenting them). It’s also a bit of a power trip, since cultural appropriation serves as a reminder of those who have been in power versus those who were historically marginalized. You can read here for more information.

So what does Lagerfeld do that would make him the exception to the rule (besides his signature look)? I like to think that Chanel is such a beloved global brand that everyone feels a part of it, meaning that rather than marginalization, edification ensues. Still, let’s be honest, when I wear a tikka to go out, I am going to look culturally insensitive. If I dress in the new Salzburg line, I might seem eccentric, but not insensitive. Is it because both American and Austrian culture are predominantly “white” and historically empowered? Then again, India was dominating the power food chain way back when, and far as forming a people majority, has America beat by nearly 1 million. Given that China and India have the two largest world populations, can Americans borrow from them? Should we feel sorry for the Austrians who come in at 95th in terms of population (and never borrow from the Vatican, at 245/247)?

Alternatively, is it okay for Lagerfeld to use these parts of culture because people trust he will do justice to their history? Or do they not feel that he is robbing them and accept that he is melding cultures? Thus, they give him the okay, and it’s not cultural appropriation. Then again, how do people give an okay, here? Just by not dissenting?

How can we positively borrow from another culture in a way that the galloping masses can digest and regurgitate it (as fashion so often does). Is there a positive way to experiment with reference to foreign sources? And if not, what entitles fashion (which is seemingly global) to unjustly ignore the customs of different groups? I am of the opinion that fashion should be a conglomeration of the palate of the world. But if it is, can only locals use it, and/or wear it?

I would love to hear your input. Clearly I haven’t solved anything here, but when I look at the Austrian feather hat, it seems to me the marginalization of a richer culture for the kitschy mass consumer (and let’s throw Sisi in there for good measure), or if it’s not, why is anything else? Thanks for reading!

Welcome to the Link-up: Eccentric Glamour


Hi! Welcome to my link-up: Eccentric Glamour, designed to showcase forgotten, yet fabulous articles in your closet. The idea is to create an outfit once a month around some piece languishing in the back of your closet, helping us to better know what’s in our closets, force creativity, and appreciate what we have (you knew there’d be moral somewhere around here). All bloggers will be able to submit their post links via the inlinkz widget below beginning the 1st and ending the 3rd of every month.  You can find more information below (or feel free to ask).

For my contribution, I wanted to show you this fabulous (and very Downton, I hope) coat I bought on a whim. To go with it, I’ve made up an eccentric backstory to match the outfit. It’s 1933. I, Mrs. Rosemary Fitz-Simmons, wife of the late grain tycoon, Mr. Cornelius Edward Fitz-Simmons, married up to gain a large fortune for myself. However, upon Mr. Fitz-Simmons’ unexpected, unwarranted, and mostly untimely death, I discovered the ledgers in disarray, and our fortune lost. Anxious to secure another wealthy millionaire before anyone discovers my secret, I have chosen to attend the opera, though still under the guise of mourning and wealth. In reality, I’ve dressed to kill under my coat and am scoping out any marriageable bachelors still circulating in the middle of the Depression. Cross your fingers I find luck!DSC_0346




Outfit: Jacket: Vintage (eBay) | Hat: Vintage | Jewelry: Macy’s (and some old costume jewelry from my Mimi) | Hat: Vintage | Lipstick: Chanel | Dress: Ted Baker | Gloves: Target | Fur: found at an estate sale- also shown here in another life | Hose: Primark | Ostrich Feather: Thrifted | Opera Glasses: found in Covent Garden market

Please add your link below so we can better meet and appreciate our fellow fashion bloggers. Here are the rules:

  1. If you’d like to regularly contribute, please take a moment to follow my blog (links can be found on the sidebar).
  2. Please confine posts to those which showcase some spectacular article of clothing. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but just a bit in line with our theme of “Eccentric Glamour” (although choosing one half or the other of that mantra will also suffice). However, if you choose to post, please provide a link back to the Eccentric Glamour link-up somewhere in your post.
  3. Try to check out a few other bloggers posts to build inspiration and community!

Thanks everyone, and I look forward to a bright 2015 linking with you!

Then We Open Again, Where?



As I’ve mentioned, I’m a few weeks behind on updates from my trips (look out for Budapest and Morocco). I got lucky on my outfit here, despite the delay, since cheetah print is booming right now. I’ll try to be better about upcoming Christmas posts!

I arrived in Venice the night before Halloween. When I made the booking, I didn’t mean to plan it that way, and to be honest, I completely forgot (although people in England celebrated way more than I anticipated, adopting it as a veritable week-long festival rather than a single night). But in this case, fate interceded on my behalf. For as Romantic and dreamy as the canals and bridges are in Venice, the ambience of the night could have invented the meaning of phantasmagoric. It is no accident that Poe set “The Assignation,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Masque of Red Death”* here. Walking through the darkened alleys at night they seem to grow narrower and deeper. You pass the same bridges, walking in a circle fueled by the frenetic energy of despair, suspicion, and above all fear. Meanwhile, in glass windows all around hang ominous masks in a variety of shapes, their darkened eyes glaring eerily in the moonlight. With this collection of photos, I’ve tried to capture a bit more of the creepy vibes, but I also included just some of the general beauty of the change to Autumn which November brings. DSC_0350








DSC_0343Outfit Details: Jacket: bought on a LadyBirdLikes Instagram sale (vintage) | Lipstick: Chanel | Shirt: American Apparel | Necklace: thrifting find | Leggings: The Row | Shoes: Primark (and on sale now for 3 pounds in leopard print and black) | Purse: Kate Spade


DSC_0324The title of this post is taken from the song “We Open In Venice” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate. Here’s the Rat Pack’s rendition of the song. Also, while I was in Venice, I had the pleasure of meeting Louise, the amazing mind behind Pandora. To see her interpretation of Thomas Mann and the Marchesa Casati, see here.

*The exact setting of “The Masque of Red Death” is in a castle and nothing else is described specifically, but as it doesn’t disclude Venice, and the story has a Venice-esque feel to it, I included it (possibly erroneously) in the list.

Fall of the Habsburgs

DSC_0689Important piece of information: for those of you travelling to Vienna, if by chance you are taking a bus from the Bratislava airport, “Vienna” in English is “Wien” in German. Give up on a sign that looks like Vienna, and hasten to “Wien”-er land! Once there, get ready for delightful food. To start, Viennese coffee and Vienna stew at Cafe Schwarzenberg, as fancy as it was overpriced, and even though my meal screamed tourist, an unexpected bread charge for 6 euros is positively excessive (especially for two pieces). And yet it looks so unassuming…DSC_0699DSC_0701Vienna marked my first stop on a 5 day trip, ending in Berlin. Necessarily, by only bringing a carry on, my fashion options were a bit limited, so more so than usual, cool comfort won the day, and it’s probably a good thing considering how much we walked. I knew almost nothing about the city before I arrived, save its particularly musical upbringing. I have a habit of wearing fashionable shoes walking, only to lose feeling in my smaller toes for over a week. This time my trusty travel Bass shoes kept me supported to see this:DSC_0770 and these:DSC_0717DSC_0707DSC_0744And I walked until I was positively inspired…10807518_10204551773807933_1117419402_oeven if Chanel is known to make people a bit mooney and swoony….DSC_0787We never figured out what this next thing was, but it looked cool. With the Latin writing, I like to think of it as a Roman temple re-incarnate. DSC_0681What I wore:
Bowler: Brixton
Scarf: estate sale find
Sweater: H&M
Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Bass

DAY 2DSC_0696DSC_0702 2DSC_0700DSC_0688The second day in Vienna, I toned the walking down and actually did a few things, starting with the Habsburg Palace. I could tell I would be new money when I was surprised at how sparse the inside of the Habsburg Palace. However, what they might have saved on wall hangings, the certainly lost on cutlery. Every successive ruler had to have a travel set of cutlery, one for each house, and even one solely reserved for Easter Day. Accompanying this display, before the advent of the lightbulb, one had to be well stocked with ornate candlesticks. The Habsburgs have an entire room.DSC_0683


Less than expected, but very red

Next, I headed up towards the University of Vienna (and its surrounding area)  to pay homage to one of the great Austrian economists (Von Hayek) alma maters. While we were there, they were having an impromptu book sale, and I managed to snag a few English vintage Penguin editions. Subsequently, I decided my daughter will attend the University of Vienna; now to have the daughter…DSC_0713DSC_0719DSC_0723 2DSC_0731For the rest of the afternoon I wondered a bit taking pictures of things I liked and getting lost. Somewhere along the way, I decided I would try to see if there were standing room tickets to whatever opera was playing. The opera was about 10 minutes from my hostel, so I thought I could run back and change if I stood in line for a ticket at 6:30 for a 7:30 production. As it turned out when I got there, the opera started at 7:00! Thank goodness, I was early. They also only asked three euros to get into the opera. DSC_0791DSC_0736In our lives we all need personal rituals (whether buying scones on Saturdays or keeping an involved makeup routine). Personally, I maintain a ritual of always drinking champagne when I go to the opera. I thought they sold it by the glass, only to receive a small personal bottle to add to my personal routine. What could be nicer than standing on the balcony of an opera house drinking champagne?IMG_0368IMG_0363What I wore:
Hat: Brixton (see above)
Scarf: thrifty find
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters
Shirt: GAP
Pants: Antonio Melani
Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger

Madeline meets Dubai in South Bend

DSC_0018This week in South Bend, a squirrel frolicked amongst the hedgerows I found this wall:DSC_0006

I also found the Chanel 2015 Cruise collection and its ingenious pairing of tunic/ pant sets. (These photos link back to the Chanel website, where I got them).

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This collection is an education on the “piquant pant.” Yes, you could run through the mountains bare-legged (probably unshaven) in your Salvation Army shirt-made-dress, but why would you when you can look perfectly chic and tailored in 1. see-through geometry pants? 2. sailor swag pants? 3. Harem pants (all day long)? Frankly, I’m ecstatic. Manrepeller termed them unnecessary but deeply necessary pants.” I would have to agree, but would go one step further. On the strawberry walnut salad that is the outfit, it seems that Lagerfeld’s ankle-cinched pants are the dressing. You could go low-cal boring, trying to choke down spinach and iceberg without something to whet your whistle, but the taste simply won’t be “piquant” without the wisp of vinaigrette. I got my first taste of this melangé last year in India.

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Pay no attention to the sunscreen-slathered blonde-haired reflector beam who in her Lawrence-of-Arabla-cultural-appropriating frenzy decided to shop for tunics kurtas at the open market based on color combinations alone (because I am one size to fit all). The point is India rocks the “tunic” cinched- ankle combo, and using the term “regional” loosely, I feel like as Lagerfeld is known to do, he kept this in mind designing Chanel’s 2015 Cruise looks.

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So for those of us who want to look Chanel at the supermarket (as our consumer spirits should now be more than blitzed for), how can you bring the look home short of a Sailor Moon tweed tornado? Here’s my interpretation, un peu francais, n’est pas?

DSC_0019I started with color. A hybrid pair of sometimes pants, maybe leggings, and a bright dress set the tone. The hat and collar reminded me of Madeline (twelve little girls in two straight lines sounds almost like a runway), and the scarf was a piece which preserved the Dubai vibe while remaining distinctly Parisien. What do you think?

DSC_0020Outfit Details:
Dress: GAP outlet
Scarf as Belt: Talbots (thank you Mimi)
Pants: The Row (ebay) also shown here
Shoes: Anthropologie
DSC_0008Spotlight on Accessories:
Hat: Antiquing
Collar: I cut this off of an otherwise frumpy Primark clearance shirt (and it was well worth the pound I paid for it!)
La Petit Prince Watch: Madrid find!
Ring: Fossil

I’m sharing this to my favorite link-ups, Patti’s Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style and Trend-SPin at The Fashion Canvas. Check it out, or even better join in!


The Grand Budapest: A Reaction to Normcore

Today I read a fascinating article in NY Mag (that bastion of culture) about normcore. Normcore? You know, the latest trend that has everyone dressing like 24/7 sports fanatics, ignorant tourists, and male adolescents. Throw on a white shirt, whatever jeans are most readily available, and the now-pervasive Adidas sneakers that would have made you vomit like four months ago (that you hid when you had to play indoor soccer). You know, those illustrating the informed person’s response to all the contrived wannabees out there praying they walk down the street Bill Cunningham happens to frequent, Oscar Wilde’s millennial progeny, and those people who obviously can’t have a real job because if they did they would never have enough time to weld themselves together in the morning. Normcore to high fashion: we’re not pretending that haute couture is an effortless when it’s obvious to everyone it’s not (you’re probably wearing a Prada jacket). We don’t need the attention. We also happen to love Phoebe Philo.
I find this all disheartening and rather ironic. Yes, normcore, you are now representing what is really “street style.” When I walk across campus this Winter, I am doing well to see someone who isn’t in knee length boots, jeans and a neutral jacket. Now, I am on a relentless search to find someone who doesn’t look like Nike’s next poster child any given Wednesday. On a similar note, I can appreciate Phoebe Philo like the rest of them and have nothing against comfortable, well-tailored clothing. But as I am constantly reminded that as a future lawyer I will need to confine myself to a neutral palate of revolving suits, I am inwardly disgusted. I also wonder in part if this Philo-esque appeal to homogeneity is a woman version of the grey flannel suit. It’s like if we contrive ourselves, or show individuality we can’t be taken seriously. I may be reading the situation wrong, but I don’t like that outcome. While I agree that clothing doesn’t make the woman (or give her power), I’d prefer AKRIS to Celine because I can have confidence to look like more than the carbon copy of the  contents in the next cubicle.
I was talking to an aspiring architect the other day and I asked him why we should care what our buildings look like. He said What we create reflects the pride we take in ourselves as people. While I may not be totally on board with that rationale for buildings, I do think that my fashion sentiments lean in that direction. The whole contrived aspect of high fashion and NY street style does sometimes give me acid reflux. In a sense, I think fashion should feel effortless, because it is. Some people will still feel contrived because our imaginations are fearsome and wonderful factories of ingenuity. So yes, for those of you with no imagination or cares, normcore is probably just your style. But for those painstakingly attempting to look normal (and at such high prices?!?), you are nothing more than a troll.
We’re not all Isabella Blow or the Marchesa, Luisa de Casati, but we love them nonetheless because they were who they were. Yes, if they dressed normal it would be a fashion statement in itself, but I think everyone would be decidedly underwhelmed, not to mention bored. If the contrived aspects of fashion are being overdone, yes, there is no reason not to retreat to a more minimalistic approach, but normcore seems less like a creation and more like a bedraggled critique.

Oh Marchesa, you kill me.

After G. K. Chesterton published Heretics, the Catholic church told him (basically): “Great. You’ve told us what’s wrong with the Catholic Church. So does everyone. It’s a lot harder to actually fix the problems.” In response, Chesterton published Orthodoxy, which laid out his solutions to the issues he originally championed. You can take that as moralistic, or just recognize that ol’ G. K. was a BAMF (for more see here). So in efforts to practice what I preach, I must admit that my latest ensemble (in preparation for The Grand Budapest Hotel) was nowhere in the vicinity of normcore. And like that noble edifice, probably far too decadent to survive in modern times.

IMG_6932Hat / necklace / gloves / earrings: Antiquing
Faux fur cape: Estate Sale
Lipstick: Chanel
Turtleneck: H&M
Tweed skirt: See by Chloe
Leggings (pulled down): Target
Shoes: Lanvin


But just in case… I’ve made a polyvore collection of the crux of what I was wearing.
Grand Budapest
But I have to admit it wasn’t all my imagination. I may have channeled someone….
Screen-Shot-2014-03-26-at-12.02.28-PMI’ve included a younger rendition of her costume. But then again, if you like the original, who can argue with FENDI fur?

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  1. On that note, I’ve been noticing a suspicious number of fur stoles on blogger’s sites this Spring. Is the pastel stole/ collar a thing?
  2. Also, what are your thought on normcore? Have I really gotten the whole thing wrong? Am I just another Saoirse “hating on” Miley?

Fashion Late-ly

My loyal followers and fortuitous visitors! I have emerged from the depths, a happier Orpheus, bursting with song (and silent anxieties) since my brief (an edifice of law school’s vise and unsolicited grip round my throat), ripened, has relinquished my bonds!

Yet during this struggle, I have shown that I run the most miserable attempt of a fashion blog, seeing as I left the grid just long enough for both Fashion Week 2014 AND the Oscars to pass me by. Let’s just say I’ve been cogitating.
I mean is anyone really sure how they feel about Chanel’s grocery store?


Once I get past wanting every piece of uniquely-punned Chanel merchandise, the high culture/ low culture/ ubiquity of human experience really starts to play with me. Also, while Karl Lagerfield may think that one should wear Haute couture as if you were “going to the supermarket.” There seems to be some speculation as to whether he even knows what that is like… For more on the show see here.

Moving right along McDonalds at Moschino…

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Well, I can tell you it clearly WASN’T a whopper. Jeremy Scott’s bold choices are nothing more than a clever ploy aimed at expanding his market. But you can’t go from selling to the 1% overnight. While they may not have made it quite to the billion marker yet, Business Week reports they’ve managed to borrow quite a few. 

It came as a great surprise to absolutely no one that my favorite from fashion week was none other than…


Come on, it featured the Bloomsbury bag. Unfortunately, the real advertisements were lost in a ill-fated file backup. Luckily, Burberry sent us one of the promos before the crash and revisions. Here’s how it was supposed to be modeled:

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Pretty great, huh?

Regarding the collection, I love the mix of Monet hues with the Scottish-looking shoulder throw rugs. Tuck your blanket into your belt for a practical and fashionable snowy day. Particularly, I love the color scheme because it is so conventionally Spring, but somewhere in the midst of Labor Day I think that people forget what snow looks like.


Maybe we favor dark colors in Winter because we’re afraid we will be lost in the snow otherwise, but when I look outside across snow colored fields, the color is remarkably subdued. In the sunless places, peoples eyes are pastel blue and Burberry’s color scheme seems to recognize that. At the same time you can be the wisp of a figure trekking across the moor with your caftan, you can sit inside with it wrapped around you, watching the snow fall as you drink tea over light stories with shadowy undertones. Bravo Burberry. I think this collection really channeled that for me. While Chanel channeled its roots with requisite tweeds and pearls, Burberry’s approach was subtler. The Bloomsbury Set wrote in the time around World War I burst with all its dreary determinism, giving us if nothing else, the Trench coat. It’s nice to see Burberry hearken back with a new interpretation of the period piece.

More to come on Fashion Week, the Oscars, post offices, and more!

Paris in the Spring and Designer Sweatshirts

Paris in the Spring
I’ve. just. discovered. Heaven Polyvore. I feel like Nicola Tesla is lurking in a corner somewhere, hand outstretched, saying “Welcome to the Future, Rebecca.” Things are about to get a whole lot more sophisticated here y’all! On the downside, it may also be the most constructive procrastination I’ve encountered: fashion, scrapbooking, and unlimited supplies all in one! Just when I was getting over ebay…
Above is my second ever collage (you might see the first one later… or I might banish it to the abyss of the internets). Now, generally I am SO cynical when it comes to buying designer sweatshirts. People argue the fabrics are so much better and they last so much longer, but I have yet to see one of the $8 Michaels craft sweatshirts eat it. In fact, sweatshirts seem to always be cropping up like ice on Indiana pavements…. I do not need to pay anything over $50 to get a sturdy sweatshirt (and that figure is allowing generously for the overpriced sports team paraphernalia).
That is until I saw the adorable Marni Penguin Sweatshirt/ Blouse this compilation revolves around. I have long enjoyed the penguin sweater, but I thought it was a flippant kind of fancy almost like relish on a hotdog or a summer toe ring. I don’t own one of these gems, but suddenly, something very deep inside me seems to be crying out (in a still small voice) “Rebecca! What have you been working as a coat check girl for?” It’s like The Little Prince and East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins’  artistic lovechild. I can feel le renard begging once again Apprivoisé moi! but through the ransacked voice of a surprised penguin(as long as it’s not the Happy Feet penguin it will be okay). Am I a sentimental fool? What sweatshirt (if any) would you splurge on?
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We like the penguin sweater, and Jess does too.

It’s been a while since I’ve used this rating system, but I’m bringing it back:
Fashion: 5
Funky: 7
Fancy: 3
Function: 10 (who’s biased? who cares!)