Wednesday, May 25, 2005

More jauntiness

Today I found this round-up from Australian Fashion Week, captioned: "a taste of what we'll be wearing this spring". There were also a couple of looks featuring ribbon pussy-bow sashes at the waist, but what I want to point out is that clothes are becoming simultaneously slinkier and simpler in line - which I argue is a key attribute of the Jaunty Pussy look.

Today my co-worker Kate is wearing a vintage jumper which is cream with gold lurex pinstripes, and with a long line of pearl buttons up the left side. It's glamorous and prim, all at the same time. Very Jaunty Pussy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Jaunty Pussy goes mainstream

I got into work earlier and found a magazine article open on my keyboard. (Thanks Lucy!) It was from last Sunday's Herald Sun Sunday Magazine (22 May 2005) and had the following tidbit in the fashion page:

Tie me up

Primly knotted at the neck Parisian-style, tied in a pussy-bow or long, tasselled and tossed loosely around the shoulders, winter sees the return of the silk scarf in all its different incarnations. Experiment with pattern, colour and even the size of the scarves, and you'll soon wonder how you ever accessorised without them. For a modern interpretation, from one of the classic homes of the silk scarf, check out the Hermes Twilly, $185, which resembles a wide ribbon and comes in a range of prints and patterns. Or tie a little tenderness with Scanlan & Theodore's spots and stripes (above), both $120 (stockists: (03) 9826 5742).

Of course, you know something is extremely mainstream when it gets into the Sunday glossy supplements, but on the whole, most street style is mainstream. The edgy fashion that most people think of when they think "street style" is worn by a definite minority; everyone else gets their inspiration from pop culture (particularly movies and music videos), magazines, shop window displays, and to a much, much lesser extent, what they see other people wearing in public.

Jaunty Pussy has gone mainstream, my friends. I'm wearing my lilac spotted scarf today - what about you?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Jaunty Pussy!

On Monday night, I watched Anchorman on DVD, with Christina Applegate. I was struck by her 1970s corporate style. It was a combination of crisp, relaxed and glossy elements - her wavy blonde hair; her pink, shiny lips; her tailored jackets and vests; her satin shirts and Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. It reminds me of the clothes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I wanted to make it after all.

Right now all the shops are still stuck in their tiresome "boho" theme, but people on the street are getting into cleaner and more structured elements of that style: tailored velvet jackets; tucking their jeans into their boots. As I've repeatedly written, I'm interested in the combination of soft and structured elements in fashion; and back in March, I noticed the layering of soft blouses with t-shirts, singlet tops and jumpers.

For a while, I have anticipated that the 1960s mod era will start influencing the way people dress - not least because the dread Sienna Miller, who is something of a fashion touchstone, was supposed to be starring in the film Factory Girl. She has just been replaced with Katie Holmes, who is currently surfing the dubious wave of being Tom Cruise's 'girlfriend'; but I still predict that the contrasting block colours (particularly black and white) and geometric shapes of mod style are going to find their way into fashion.

Biba boutique, London, 1965. Image from Sixties City.

More generally, I think there will be more fashion references from the "Swinging Sixties", and the decorative, dandy elements of mod style - the Carnaby Street look epitomised by Austin Powers. Melbourne's indie-pop scenesters already wear this kind of thing - just go to Cherry Bar, Ding Dong Lounge, Weekender or Shake Some Action. And, being Melbourne, many people already wear black.

But I predict the emergence of a specific hybrid of 70s career-chick and swinging 60s style. It's a tailored yet slinky look. Think satin blouses with tight jeans and flat boots; berets and velvet jackets with striped t-shirts and boyish pants; messy hair, shitloads of mascara and glossy pink lipstick. The key colours are bright, space-age, Technicolours - pink, yellow, neon red, black and white, with judicious touches of denim.

Penny came up with the perfect title for this look: Jaunty Pussy. This was a work of unspeakable brilliance. I liked it so much that I've taken to saying it repeatedly in a plummy English accent.

"You're a woman of many parts, Pussy! "

I tried out Jaunty Pussy last Tuesday. I wore a hot-pink racer-back singlet with a hot-pink sash tied in a floppy pussy-bow around my neck. Over it I wore a black and white striped jumper; and I teamed it with black knee-length, man-style shorts, hot-pink opaque tights and white cowboy boots, with a bracelet made from three rows of very large pearls.

On Thursday, I wore a pale pink puffed-sleeve blouse with a black racer-back singlet over the top like a vest, with the pink pussy-bow, grey pinstriped jeans, and pink Chuck Taylor sneakers. Yesterday, I wore the pink singlet again with the pink pussy-bow, a fluffy white off-the-shoulder angora jumper, a black a-line skirt, hot-pink-and-silver-striped knee socks, and white cowboy boots. And today I'm wearing a lilac silk scarf with black polka-dots, tied in a pussy bow, with a black off-the-shoulder t-shirt, a black skirt, black tights and white cowboy boots.

It would seem that I find the pussy-bow the key accessory.

Look out for Jaunty Pussy on a footpath near you. It's also making its way back onto the catwalk - here are some looks from the Fall 2005 collection from Diane Von Furstenberg.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

No slouch at fashion - or not?

You may remember that I commented on Janice Breen Burns' theory of soft versus hard in clothing, saying that the majority of people will find a way to be fashionable without sacrificing comfort. Well, along these lines, I was very interested to see that at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, Josh Goot has just presented a collection of very soft, comfortable, sporty clothes made entirely from cotton jersey ("t-shirt material"). You can find them in Melbourne at Marais in the Royal Arcade, above Caffe e Torta. Here are a couple of my favourites:

(Photos: Sydney Morning Herald)

There were other pics, as well. Maybe I should call this look "Back to the Future". They look very 80s in that baggy, preppie, pastel-coloured way that to me, makes them look like something from old-school Benetton, Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren, especially when you go to the website and see the models lined up. But at the same time, they're completely futuristic - you know, that image of "the future" that you sometimes see in movies, where everyone wears floppy, unisex clothes in grey, white and beige. In The Matrix they wear weird homespun t-shirts when they are in "the real world", as opposed to the tight, structured, tailored clothes they wear in the Matrix.

Goot won the Tiffany Design Award at this year's Melbourne Fashion Festival. He's only 25, and all the usual pundits are predicting he's one to watch. But what I find most interesting about Goot is that he creates structured pieces like jackets, trench coats and tailored pants. I am interested in this combination of formal tailoring and casual fabrics.

Today I am wearing a cropped, double-breasted jacket with raw edges on the lapels and cuffs, made from windcheater material. I got it from erstwhile hippie shop Rasa Rani in the Royal Arcade, which has now closed for renovations, after which time they'll reopen as Hello Gorgeous (the brand name of the clothes they produce). I was drawn to this jacket because it looks dressed-up, but is still casual and very comfortable; and I think that's also the attraction of Goot's clothes. As one anonymous commenter says on Coolchiq:
at first sight, the jackets doesn't make you want to own one. But once you put it on, you'll know what josh is trying to achieve in his line "easy and affortless" ... it will remain one of your staple wordrobe item for a while... you can dress it up or down by playing with scarfs and accessories... the silver track suits definately capture the vintage feel if you are looking for one!!! try one and you'll know!
I am drawn to this idea: "try one and you'll know." It implies an affective dimension to the clothes: that they are made to instil feelings in the body. For example, today I'm wearing thicker than usual socks and my cowboy boots sit quite snugly. I don't have a word for the pleasure this gives me as I walk around; but it makes me feel more cosy and luxurious, even though the actual items I'm wearing are not particularly 'glamorous' in appearance.

Perhaps the genius of Josh Goot's clothes is in creating an innocuous, everyday garment that doesn't look like much, but feels like everything. As he told The Australian:
"People today want to feel relaxed and easy, to counter the stress in their lives. I'm taking that feeling and putting it into my clothes."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Business casual is back, mofo!

Rockin' the Chicago street. (Picture: WearWhatWhen)

As I pointed out on my other blog, the idea of wearing a tie with casual clothes was huge a couple of years ago when Avril Lavigne and a million teenage girls did it, but that it is probably considered "totally played" by hipsters. Well, it's funny how many people I see around actually wearing ties. Skinny ties, fat ties, ties pinned to the side and worn as kerchiefs (kerchiefs, if you'll recall, were one of my 2005 Fashion Predictions). Ties with shirts, polo shirts, t-shirts, singlets. Business casual is here to stay.

Now, when I say "business casual", I don't mean it in the Andrew G sense of "let me put on a blazer with the sleeves pushed up with my jeans, t-shirt and appalling Farrah Fawcett hair," nor in the pragmatic sense "clothing to wear to work when professional dress codes have been relaxed". Many companies have given up on their business casual codes because workers were confused by them or because they actually prefer to wear suits.

This ties into the careless luxe trend I identified several months ago - the mixing of signifiers. So, what is business casual all about? Is it a nostalgia for dressing up in an era when dressing casually is more widely accepted than ever? Well, you have to admit that the more prominent new-tie wearers are the usual artsy, creative types, who can afford to wear whatever they want. Perhaps they wear business casual as a declaration of their independence from the socioeconomic tyranny of 9-5 labour. As Dougie (my source on the ground for Japanese fashion) wrote recently:
Watching MTV, I realised that one of the reasons punk and rock bands dress bizarrely and let their hair shag out wildly is effectively telling the world that they've made it, because they're completely unemployable by any other industry.
This week, I've been doing my own version of business casual - cutting off old black or navy pantihose and turning them into sheer footless tights. I wear them ankle-length with my cut-down Dunlop Volleys, or hitch them up to mid-calf or just under the knee to wear with sneakers or cowboy boots. I was reading with interest an article (the link is to the cached version) about how business casual policies have meant that pantihose fall by the wayside as corporate wear. Most young people I see (even business types) wear opaque tights. So, I'm interested to see if my idea of sheer leggings takes off.

But I am not so much into the Tommy Hilfiger look of tucking the shirt into the jeans. No, Tommy, no!