Book: My Favourite Dress

I realised fairly recently that what I love about magazines is the visual side. That may sound obvious, but it’s more than just the photoshoots and pretty clothes. I love the layouts and the fonts. I love the way that the same content – photographs, text and illustrations – can be infinitely rearranged and reconstructed to portray and evoke different themes and emotions. I love the thought and imagination that goes into every single page to make it look new and enticing and inspiring.

Since coming to this understanding, I’ve been constantly searching for magazines and books to feed my hungry eyes. One of my most resent purchases is a book called My Favourite Dress by Gity Monsef, Samantha Erin Safer and Robert de Niet.

I was sucked in by promises of ‘lavishly illustrated’ pages; ‘a must have for any fashionista’. The book wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, though. Perhaps my expectations are too high (after all, there aren’t many ways in which you can present a photograph of a dress along with a blurb from its designer explaining why it’s their favourite), but, after reading some beautifully-curated blogs and magazines, it just seemed a bit bland and lacking creativity.

Above: the inside cover of My Favourite Dress: notes from designers explaining their choices.

If you read my post about my visit to the V&A, then you might remember that I fell in love with the silhouette of Giles Deacon’s Pacman dress. As I mentioned then, I love the cinched-in waist and A-line skirt – I think this shape is flattering on pretty much anyone, and I was glad to see the shape again in Deacon’s favourite dress. Deacon’s blurb also exemplifies the fact that you really can find inspiration absolutely anywhere: the aptly named Car Wash gown below was (obviously) inspired by car wash brushes! Always keep your eyes and your mind open.

I also liked Alber Elbaz’s blurb (below). I like that he sees all women as equals and designs accordingly. Fashion shouldn’t be reserved for those with money, fame or influence. Fashion and, more importantly, style, has nothing to do with those things. It’s about how you convey your personal taste and express yourself with your clothing (and you don’t need to be shopping on Sloane Street for that).

Now, more than ever, we are being encouraged to experiment with the season’s trends, to mix them up with our favourite vintage and high street pieces (or to wear head-to-toe runway if you’re Anna Della Russo, and it makes you happy!). In this month’s ELLE, Susie Lau of Style Bubble says that “bending to the way people expect you to dress is not half as fun as pleasing yourself with your own style”. She couldn’t be more right. Enjoy dressing up, and turn to Vogue and Elle for inspiration – they aren’t rule books.


Snooping Around, Part 4: Wardrobes

For those of you who are starting to find this whole snooping around thing a tad monotonous, look away for the next couple of days – there are just a couple more posts in the series. It should be safe to take a peek on Wednesday or Thursday.

For those of you who, like me, can never have too many windows into a person’s life, I’ll be telling you about one of my favourite insights into wardrobes tres tres chic.

One of the key things about these Snooping Around blogs is that new posts are added frequently – much more frequently than we can get our hands on our favourite monthly magazines. There is a constant supply of new ideas and, crucially, it’s a lot easier to identify with these ideas than with a model in a Vogue shoot. The photoshopped spreads in monthly glossies speak of a beautiful way of life; a life where you can wear stilettos in fields and on sand dunes, and where dog paws aren’t magnetically attracted to anything white. And, although I yearn for this escapism and extravagance once in a while (on a monthly basis, as it happens!), day-to-day I need something less staged, more pared down, and more achievable. A ‘real’ girl’s wardrobe.

Enough chatter…

The Coveteur

I LOVE this blog. The idea of looking into the wardrobes of some very stylish people was conceived and realised by designer Erin Kleinberg and stylist Stephanie Mark. Along with photographer Jake Rosenberg, the team have built up a stunning catalogue of wardrobes full of outfit ideas and inspiration for interiors and colour combinations.

The photographs are beautifully curated and composed and feature a ‘Shop This Look’ option, in case you’re feeling inspired enough to replicate the photograph yourself (convenient, but painful for my bank balance). The photographs also include a commentary from the “talent”, as Kleinberg and Mark refer to the owner of the wardrobe, explaining the significance and influence of their favourite possessions on their style.

Photo: Screenshot (sorry about the quality) from a feature on George Kotsiopoulos (celebrity stylist, co-host, “Fashion Police), living in Los Angeles. Credit: Jake Rosenberg, The Coveteur 

Whilst many of the women that grace the photos of The Coveteur can afford significantly more Blahniks and Chanel 2.55s than I can, they are still essentially working women who taylor their wardrobes for a variety of occasions; meetings, seminars, business lunches, SATC gossip-with-friends lunches, first dates, anniversary dinners.

The details vary – a Fashion Director and a Market Analyst will have different ideas about what is appropriate to wear to a meeting – but the underlying principles are the same. We all want to look like strong, sexy, competent women. Some women achieve this with a monochrome wardrobe. Others feel confident only in Missoni stripes and Pucci prints. But each can find inspiration in the other’s style: perhaps the Jil Sander minimalist will bring some colour into her look with a bright lip, and the Missoni girl will incorporate the minimalist trend into her wardrobe with some sharper silhouettes. And you can recreate either look at the price-point relevant to you – for students like myself, stores like Zara, COS, Massimo Dutti, Whistles and Reiss offer up-to-date good quality pieces at reasonable prices. There are also some great finds on ASOS (though it’s harder to tell as you can’t feel the material), and, if you’re feeling flush, a trip to Bicester Village is fabulous for those ‘investment pieces’.

Photo: The Coveteur ScreenshotPhoto: A screenshot from a feature on Annabel Tollman, a fashion stylist and journalist living in New York. Credit: Jake Rosenberg, The Coveteur

There’s also Diary of the Coveteur; a behind-the-scenes look at the photoshoots for The Coveteur, which shows just how much fun they have…

Doesn’t it make you want to be there?! (click photo and scroll down to find the story) Photo credit: Jake Rosenberg, Diary of The Coveteur

Show Me Your Wardrobe

Show Me Your Wardrobe has a slightly more casual approach than The Coveteur; more what I would call a ‘traditional blog’, with the most recent posts at the top, and the oldest many clicks of “Older Posts –>” away.

The blog was created by Jackie Dixon, a stylist who has worked with numerous publications. If you missed any of her Show Me Your Wardrobe features for ELLE, they’re all up on her blog. She has shot for several publications, including British Vogue, and has collaborated on projects with Benetton, Matches and Selfridges (to name but a few), so she’s one ‘Fashion Insider’ that really deserves the title.

Like The Coveteur, this blog gives us “a sneaky peek into the wardrobes of today’s creative talent” (Dixon’s words). However, Dixon tends to photograph the clothes as we would see them: worn as an outfit on a person.

The Bottom Line: Although both The Coveteur and Show Me Your Wardrobe aim to do the same thing – to give us a window into how other people dress – they do it in very different ways. I go to The Coveteur for inspiration and to look at beautiful photography. Show Me Your Wardrobe (understandably) feels like more of a diary for Dixon and her projects and I go there to be a fly on the wall in in the life of a stylist.