9 September 2006
It's that whole toe-complexion thing

Forget these sandals, if you can. What catches my eye is this statement:

Nicole Richie has become the new face of Jimmy Choo, the hot Hollywood shoemaker.

Are shoemakers looking for faces now?

Then again, I don't suppose anyone is going to write "Nicole Richie has become the new foot of Jimmy Choo."

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:25 PM)
17 October 2006
More than size matters

Mary Stella's thinking cap obviously fits well:

I'm not saying that this will earn you anywhere near what the creators of YouTube raked in from Google, but I think it's an idea that could catch on and revolutionize clothing shopping on the Internet.

We need a program that will work with a company's website and a web cam to visually scan consumers top to bottom, front, back and both sides. That information will then be processed by the software so that the clothing companies know the exact size of each garment to fit and flatter each individual consumer.

Better yet, let's add a feature so that a picture pops up of the customer wearing the garments instead of the models. Ohhh, that would multiply sales 100 times!

Simply brilliant, right? Remember, I said it here first, so I deserve a cut of anything you make once you develop the software and sell the service to companies. We'll both be blissfully happy with the profits, I'm sure.

I like. It might be easier, if more cumbersome, to tie this to newer, presumably higher-tech cams, which you could borrow from the store or purchase outright. (If this is as big a hit as I think it would be, the price would come down rather quickly.) This might simplify the software development, and as a fringe benefit, given the sheer sophistication of the cam, you'd hear from some disgruntled fanboys: "You built a tricorder, and you're using it to order clothing?"

Which, if you think about it, is almost enough justification in itself.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:08 AM)
27 October 2006
Maybe you wear them inside out

Are you ready for size -2? No, that's not a typo:

[T]here are some people for whom size 0 is too big, and it's not just those banned runway models and Rachel Zoe's clients. For these people, designers like Nicole Miller will introduce negative sizes (that's not what they're really called, but what is smaller than 0?!?!) that have waistlines the circumference of "a soccer ball."

An official match ball is 68-70 cm around: 27 to 28 inches. This is a size 6, maybe an 8. A size 0 woman measures something like 31-23-33, so a -2 would have about a 22-inch waistline. This is below volleyball size.

(Geometric digression: A standard 45-rpm record is 7 inches in diameter, just under 22 inches in circumference. If you need to imagine a minus-two woman, pick up a 45 and hold it by the edges.)

I was tempted to attribute this phenomenon to "vanity sizing," but according to Kathleen Fasanella, it doesn't really exist:

[G]iven manufacturers are sized differently, [and] so are labels within a given design house. The reason is simple. Ralph Lauren produces a range of products across different labels that appeal to different types of consumers. The products that are intended for the vanity market — those who buy a tee-shirt at resort for example — are sized very differently from their core designer customer. The customer with more discretionary income is thinner than the former so if it were true that Ralph Lauren (for example; I have no bone to pick with him) sized for vanity then Ralph's core customer wouldn't be able to find a size to fit them. And you know that's not true.

This is not to say that vanity doesn't play a role. Just ask Dave Barry:

Here's how you could get rich: Start a women's clothing store called ''SIZE 2,'' in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words ''SIZE 2.'' I bet you'd sell clothes like crazy.

Your zeroes and minus-twos? Why, yes, they will have fries with that.

(Via Neil Kramer, who has more Infiniti than I do.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:13 PM)
3 November 2006
You're too young to have an Inner Slut

There's a scene in Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl that's always stuck with me. It appears that someone has it bad for Gregory's younger sister; in fact, the someone in question says admiringly, "She's only ten, but she has the body of a woman of thirteen."

At the time, this seemed innocent and goofy. Twenty-five years later, it sounds like a warning shot: somewhere between then and now it became de rigueur to turn tween girls into oversexed Bratz. A week doesn't go by that I don't get some Googler looking for risqué photos — even fake risqué photos — of twelve-year-old Dakota Fanning. One could argue, I suppose, that I don't deal well with female sexuality of any sort, and maybe that's even true, but I can't see any upside to having middle-school students looking like tired call girls.

Enter Up Stream Girl, which aims to be the anti-Abercrombie and/or Fitch:

We founded Up Stream Girl with a desire to provide fashion apparel with a more feminine, classic look for girls, teens and juniors. The kind of clothes we had when we were younger, but with today's fashion — the fashion which makes these clothes great! Fun and cool colors, new fabrics and great styles. We call these "Todayís Classics".

We know today's girls can be demanding when it comes to the clothes they wear. And they should be. They want clothes that make them look and feel both beautiful and feminine. We also know that our girls face challenges that we never had when we were their age. The clothes a girl wears says a lot about her. The confidence she shows, her beauty, her character, and her belief in herself, can all be inspired by the clothes she wears.

And surely there has to be a middle ground between the burqa and the "Who needs brains when I've got these?" T-shirts.

(Discovered here.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:21 AM)
15 November 2006
A needle pulling thread

You hear the word "sweatshop," you automatically think of a humongous room full of miserable people sewing away, and you just know they'd dream about a place like this:

  • Eight-hour work days
  • Seamstresses earn two to three times as much as teachers and policemen
  • Child labor is unheard of
  • All overtime is paid
  • Free medical care on site
  • Three months paid maternity leave
  • Employers must give breast-feeding mothers unimpeded access to their infants
  • Forty-three paid vacation days per year

If only there were such a place ... oh, wait ... there is.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:36 AM)
6 February 2007
Proving e-commerce still has life

endless.com adA car dealer around these parts used to bray about all the free stuff they threw in with the deal, with the tagline "What could be better than free?" I'd like to think this would have shut him up. (Endless.com is an Amazon.com offshoot that deals in shoes and handbags, but not even Amazon Prime is offering a shipping deal this remarkable. It expires on the 28th of February. I have been so far unable to identify this specific shoe; I spotted this ad on Go Fug Yourself.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:51 AM)
8 February 2007
Hey, maybe it is rocket science

HBN Shoe, LLC is the manufacturer of something called Insolia, which pulls off this remarkable feat:

Insolia products fundamentally change the inside of high heel shoes, shifting weight off the ball of the foot back to the heel. It actually feels like you are wearing much lower heels which is a true comfort factor for many women. This weight shift improves body alignment and balance dramatically reducing leg and lower back fatigue while reducing pressure on the ball of the foot. Thanks to Insolia products, women no longer have to sacrifice style for comfort or comfort for style.

The developers of Insolia included podiatrist Howard J. Dananberg, founder of HBN, and Brian Hughes, an actual MIT rocket scientist.

It's stuff like this that gives me hope for the future.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:11 PM)
17 February 2007
Size matters

Jacqueline Passey declares that yes, there is such a thing as vanity sizing:

10 years ago I had a 24 inch waist and 36 inch hips and I wore a size 6. Today I have a 26 inch waist and 38 inch hips and size 6 is too big.

Ten years ago she was 18 (I think); do teenagers get their own size scale? Not that anyone eighteen thinks (s)he's a teenager or anything.

Maybe it's time for something other than numbers. Example: In the early 1950s, hosiery manufacturers were trying to distinguish among a line of three or four sizes without using accusative terms like, say, "large." I shuffled through some advertising pieces from this period and happened upon a 1953 ad from Wayne Knitting Mills, who sold stockings under the Belle-Sharmeer brand. They offered four sizes, as follows:

BREV (purple edge) for slender or small legs. Sizes 8 to 10½

MODITE (green edge) for average size legs. Sizes 8½ to 11

DUCHESS (red edge) for tall, larger legs. Sizes 9½ to 11½

CLASSIC (plain edge) for largest legs. Sizes 9½ to 11½

Now obviously there's more description necessary for a dress than for a pair of nylons, but I, for one, would like to be able to go into the store and ask for shirts in, say, "Duff Man," rather than ask where all the 4X Talls are hiding.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:06 PM)
18 February 2007
Pattern analysis

It was almost 50 degrees yesterday when I hit the supermarket, historically a below-average temperature for this date, but a veritable heat wave compared to what February has been dealing us so far, so I wasn't too surprised to catch a glimpse of a woman in fishnets over by — well, it wasn't the seafood counter, so I suppose it doesn't matter where she was.

More than once I've mentioned that I just don't get fishnets:

I have been fortunate enough over the years to have met a small number of women with incredible legs, and not once have I found myself thinking, "Gee, I wonder what she'd look like if you overlaid a pattern of polygons upon her."

And I was perhaps unduly pleased to hear a similar sentiment from someone who actually has worn them:

What do you think it is about fishnets that made someone decide that they are sexy in the first place? Is it the fact that you can see skin through them? Because surely men weren't thinking, "You know, I'm tired of running my hands over sleek, smooth, unblemished thighs. I sure would prefer some that have some texture — almost like cellulite, but more ordered, like graph paper but in 3-D, or like the weave of a wicker chair. Is there some way that we could create this effect temporarily?" Because right now the back of my thighs makes me look like I've been hanging out on a lanai, and in less of a Spring-Break-Cancun kind of way than a Golden Girls kind of way.

Well, that Blanche Devereaux, she could ... um, never mind.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:52 AM)
22 February 2007
Changing Lanes

Not being a regular Lane Bryant customer myself, for reasons I presumably need not explain, I hadn't noticed this, but it showed up in a newsletter I get: the LB catalog is being retitled "Woman Within."

I had no idea why, so I went hunting, and turned up this:

New York-based Redcats USA, the U.S. division of French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR), for several years had a licensing agreement to use the Lane Bryant Catalog name. But the rights to Lane Bryant revert back to Charming Shoppes, the Bensalem, PA-based retailer that has owned and operated the Lane Bryant stores since 2001, in October 2007.

Redcats USA chairman/CEO Eric Faintreny says that the name change for Lane Bryant had been thoroughly discussed during the past 18 months. "The choice of Woman Within gives us a name that's ours alone," he says. "It's our own brand. As they say in France, it's a necessary, but useful pain. We had to move away from the Lane Bryant name in 2007, and we thought this name was extremely suitable for our customers." From now on, Faintreny notes, there won't be any confusion between Woman Within and Lane Bryant. Plus, the new name will "refresh the brand," he says.

Not to mention the fact that the catalog and the stores will be under the same management once more. Similarly, Redcats' Lerner catalog is being supplanted by something called Metrostyle, and the Lerner name goes back to New York & Co., the retailer formerly known as Lerner.

Redcats also operates a catalog called KingSize, sort of a Lane Bryant for men, where I do buy stuff, which explains why I got this notification.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:42 PM)
28 February 2007
Paging Charles Brannock

Do one's clodhoppers eventually become less clodlike? Possibly:

Is it common to go down in shoe size as you plow through your 30s?

For years, I've taken a US size 9 or 9.5 for my footwear. But a few weeks ago, while getting fitted for a new pair of dress shoes, I got measured with a size 8.

I figured that was an aberration attributable to that particular shoemaker. But in the last couple of days, I bought another two pairs of shoes — another for dress, and a pair of long-overdue snow/outdoor boots — and sure enough, I wound up with size 8 both times.

I wore a 13 from age 17 to about 40; for some inscrutable reason — middle-aged spread, maybe? — I now wear a 14.

I don't think the sizes have changed over the years, but I can explain neither my growth nor his shrinkage.

(Mr Brannock, should you be curious, invented this thing.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:07 AM)
22 March 2007
Now where did these come from?

An urgent plea from Donna:

Take a note, hosiery manufacturers! Think about taking a class in branding. It is important that you put a tag in the pantyhose themselves that gives the name of the brand. This way, at the end of the day, when I see that the pair I am wearing have no runs or holes and I can wash them and wear again, I can check the tag and make a note to buy more pairs like it. As it is now, I desperately try to remember the brand, fail, and end up buying whatever brand is on sale at CVS that day.

Don't think of it as an extra three cents per pair; think of it as a contribution to urban aesthetics.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:07 PM)
26 March 2007
If the shoe fits, it's unsightly

Angi describes the creative process for one particular pair:

Design a shoe that will A) look slightly better than house-slippers and B) cost more than $100.

Parameters set, and apparently met. On the other hand (on the other foot?), they can't possibly be as bad as these.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:46 AM)
20 April 2007
The pea is fine, but God help the pod

Caterina Fake on maternity wear:

Someone said to me once that when you're speaking in a language that is not your native language, you lose about 50-75% of your personality. The same thing could be said for maternity clothes. Talk about drab. And since you don't really want to spend a lot of money on clothes you're only going to wear for three months, you're not only drab, you're wearing the same thing over and over again.

There are workarounds, as it were, but:

I've taken to wearing flashy necklaces to offset the sad L.L. Beanness of my new wardrobe. And then a friend nodded knowingly and said: "I had a friend who wore big, noticeable necklaces when she was pregnant. She wanted to draw attention to her new, impressive boobs." This made me rethink my necklace strategy.

I'd say something about "How bad can it be for 90 days?" but I'm almost certain someone would come back with "Try passing a soccer ball through your [fill in name of body part] and see how you like it."

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 AM)
20 May 2007
Instant flats

Well, sort of:

CAMiLEON Heels have a patented adjustable-height technology that's incorporated into the heel of every shoe. Design features of the heel and the overall shoe maximize ease of transition from high-to-low heel positions without removing the shoe from your foot, removing any parts or use of any special tools. You can transition from high-to-low positions within seconds, as often as desired.

The high heel is 3¼ inches; in the lower position, the heel is 1½ inches. And the tucked-away portion is inconspicuous except to someone viewing from underneath, something you'd presumably discourage anyway. Here's how it's done.

The line is carried in a few Northeastern stores and at Zappos.com; you can also buy directly from the manufacturer. They're pricey — $300 or so — but think of it as getting two pair for the price (and in the space) of one.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:04 PM)
24 May 2007
Redefining "off the rack"

It seems they're using an entirely different rack: the medieval torture device. Rachel Lucas explains:

[W]hat kind of freaks do jeans-makers think we are? I'm serious. What's the average height of American women? I just Googled it, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average American woman is 5' 3.7". Okay. I'm exactly 5'4" and I already told you my weight. ["Less than 120."] Hence I think it's safe to say I'm within the range of normal, on the puny side. And yet, 99% of the jeans that "fit" me extend beyond my toes. I mean, really — is your average size-sixer REALLY almost six feet tall?

A commenter of the male persuasion attempts to explain:

Girl, those jeans are long because you're supposed [to] wear them with 4-inch stilettos. Don't ask why a man knows this. ;o)

Is that all there is to it, or is something more going on?

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:52 AM)
26 May 2007
Mere gazing is insufficient

Fashion plate and part-time metaphysician Jessica Simpson has affixed her name to a fragrance for one's navel.

Immediate reaction: Shouldn't there be different applicators for innies and outies?

And what's to stop her from marketing, say, strawberry-flavored toe jam?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:27 AM)
30 May 2007
Everything in balance, sort of

Matters of size, and other matters:

While perusing the shelves, I noted that the children's sizes were considerably cheaper than the adult sizes. Upon further inspection, I picked out a youth size large and hold it up to my chest and note that "Hey! This expensive piece of cotton that must be fresh from the gin, actually might fit me." And lo, it did fit in a way that doesn't show off a muffin top or compress my two boobs into a uniboob. I was pleased. Not only because I wear a youth size large, as I already do some shopping in the junior's section, but also because I pulled the proverbial wool over the eyes of the Black Dog establishment and saved myself a whopping $4.50; which I then used to purchase my third clam plate. The latter was to celebrate that I could eat three clam plates in 72 hours and still fit into child size clothing.

I'm not exactly what one would call fat or obese, unless this was the seventh grade again, and then I'd be called far worse. But I'm not exactly a size 2 or a size 8 for that matter. As far as I'm concerned, I can easily run a 5K and slip into a dress from Anthropologie or Forever 21, so really, why worry? Especially since the Great Ephedra Disaster of 2005, I'm perfectly content in eating and working out and keeping the two at some sort of equilibrium so that I don't feel like I might be in desperate need of stomach stapling each and every time I have a filet o fish.

This is so sensible it's almost scary. I fear, though, that she would object strenuously were she to find out that someone had described her as "sensible."

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:05 PM)
1 June 2007
That doo-doo that you do so well

And even more cosmetic crap:

While millions of women are snapping up age-defying skin creams, the latest miracle cure for a sagging face has just arrived — nightingale poo.

The bird droppings, applied in a 90-minute facial, are packed with an enzyme called guanine — an amino acid which heals the skin, experts claim.

The treatment has already been used by Japanese geishas to remove make-up and leave the skin silky smooth, while monks polish their shaved heads with the droppings.

Do me a favor: just don't call it a "fecial."

(Via Scribal Terror.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:48 AM)
6 June 2007
Every pair a paradox

Note to the mythical Average Guy: You were wondering how it is that you get by with three pairs of shoes while your girlfriend has sixty-seven and says she needs more. It's not necessarily a desire to dominate the closet in some domestic version of Risk; nor is it the elevation of the mundane to the status of an icon. (Well, it could be, if everything she has came from Payless except for those CFM pumps she saw on Zappos and bought with your credit card.)

What is closer to the mark, I believe, is that while you wear those old Chuck Taylors as close to 24/7 as possible, she goes through several different pairs, styles even, in a single day. Rachel corroborates:

I love taking off my shoes as much as I love shoes. I do it unconsciously: At home, at work, or at the movies. My feet, apparently, have a need to be free. You know how some people are always looking for their keys? Or their glasses? I'm always looking for my shoes. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes and put on a pair of slippers or flip flops. (If my shoes are particularly binding, I might take them off in the car. I tend to have at least one or two pairs of shoes in my car at any given time.) Later, I'll unconsciously slip out of my flip flops, get up to perform some stupid task, notice that my feet are unshod and go into my closet for another pair. This can go on for hours until at the end of the night I look around and see that I've left a trail of shoes around the house, some of them kicked off in mid-stride as though the person wearing them had suddenly been vaporized while heading to the kitchen.

She doesn't say whether she drives barefoot — which, incidentally, is not actually illegal unless one is barefoot up to one's chin, as it were — but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

This is, I might add, a major reason why you need not fear the succubus: at some point she'll change shoes, and there's your opportunity to escape.

Addendum: This obsession, if obsession it be, does not affect Syaffolee.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:46 PM)
10 June 2007
Sort of hosed

Open-toe stockingsI am a big fan of both shortish skirts and strappy sandals, as I have probably mentioned entirely too often, but I don't quite get this open-at-the-toe hosiery, despite its construction of some "revolutionary Japanese yarn" that's supposed to keep you cool, thereby eliminating the major objection to hosiery in the summertime. A commenter noted: "The end of the stocking never coincides with the shape of your shoe, so you end up looking even dorkier than before," which seems logical to me. Maybe this would make more sense if it were cut off around the ankle, if you happened to own a pair of ankle-strap shoes. Moreover, if we're to believe some of the advertising these days, there are lots of women who will willingly put a lot of leg on display, but please, please don't look at their feet; they're never, ever going to consider wearing something like this. (And a not-so-perfunctory informal survey during this weekend's wandering about between film screenings didn't turn up a single person who really ought to wear it.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:36 AM)
11 June 2007
To everything there is a season

Attila Girl contemplates the toeless hose I brought up yesterday, and she doesn't buy the premise:

Look: stockings are one thing, and are fine between consenting adults. But panty hose of any type are not sexy. They are meant for one purpose, and one purpose only: to attenuate one's lack of tan/unevenness of skin tone.

If the environment you are going into is so casual that you can wave your bare toes around, you have no business [wearing] panty hose of any sort.

Or, if the environment requires panty hose, you shouldn't be showing off your lovely pedicure.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, I suspect, understands this premise: the wire services have carried zillions of photos of her in shortish — but not too shortish — dresses, but you never, ever see her in sandals. Nor is this a Republican phenomenon; for all I know, Nancy Pelosi may knock around in Birkenstocks at home, but in her capacity as Speaker, she's conservatively shod.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:08 PM)
19 June 2007
More instant flats

About a month ago I made some mention of CAMiLEON Heels, which can be an inch and a half high or three and a quarter, depending on how you set them.

Sheila Driving HeelNow comes a driving shoe for women, based on the same idea if not precisely the same technology. Devised on behalf of Sheilas' Wheels, an insurance company in the UK targeting female drivers — they offer, for instance, handbag coverage up to £300 as part of Comprehensive — the Sheila Driving Heel is switchable between heel and flat with the touch of a button. It's being touted, of course, as a safety measure: "Itís astonishing," says Sheilas spokesperson Jacky Brown, "that so many women are putting themselves, their passengers and other drivers at risk by wearing the wrong shoe or no shoe at all whilst behind the wheel. Stilettos, sling-backs and strappy sandals arenít the sensible choice when it comes to controlling a car." And while driving with no shoes is permissible Stateside and in parts of the UK, for some reason it's illegal in Scotland.

I must admit here that I can't see where this mysterious button is located, and neither can the writer for Autoblog, who also complains that "we waited almost a week for them to send us a pic of the shoes," which pic I have duly appropriated and slightly cropped.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:14 PM)
22 July 2007
Just when I was getting used to thongs

It's called, um, Backless Lingerie:

Designed by a woman, Backless Lingerie was crafted to enable fashionable girls to wear anything, from low-cut jeans to evening gowns, with class, comfort and confidence that you will not show your thong.

And God forbid anyone should detect a VPL.

(Seen, so to speak, by Wild Bill. Possibly not safe for work.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 AM)
25 July 2007
Eventual shortcomings

An informal survey of 2500 women by a British shopping center suggests that after age 28, it's time to toss out the miniskirts.

I am of course distraught at the possibility that someone might actually take this seriously: as Bill Blass is supposed to have said, the legs are generally the last things to go, and I've seen some spectacular stems on fiftysomethings. I continue to believe, however, that every woman has an ideal skirt length, and it's usually not around mid-thigh. (And if it is, you know where to find me.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:58 AM)
31 July 2007
Worst. Shoes. Ever.

Worst shoes everWell, maybe not the absolute worst — you might have to go back to Chinese foot-binding days for that — but this pair of whatever the hell they are demands a full flushing with eye bleach. Remember when "cruel shoes" meant "uncomfortable"? These are cruel to the observer. I imagine some wan fellow in the studio, feeling the pressure of a deadline, when suddenly it occurs to him: "I've got it! It's a boot and a flip-flop and a floor wax and a dessert topping!" Then, of course, his head explodes, because there is balance in nature. You can look at the entire outfit if you're so inclined, but trust me: it's not going to help. (There's also a snarky poll at that link.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:46 AM)
1 August 2007
In case of any doubt

Trini got her first shipment from Woot's T-shirt operation, and it's a pretty decent piece of work, executed in 100-percent cotton by the American Apparel guys.

One thing is troubling, though: the fabric-care tag contains the ominous notation "not for use as pants."

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:41 AM)
14 August 2007
The Keds are alright

This, however, is a tad weird: a patent-leather sneaker by Michael Kors.

What's next? Chuck Taylors being upgraded to "Charles"?

(Via Shoewawa.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:09 PM)
23 August 2007
Up to date with the oldest profession

I have to admit, this pitch is unique:

The Aphrodite Project Team is pleased to announce the launch of Platforms, a new line of footwear specifically designed for sex work. Platforms are both an homage to Aphrodite and her prostitute-priestesses as well as a practical tool for the contemporary sex worker. With Platforms, we have created a seamlessly integrated system of shoes and online services. Our shoes use the latest technology to bring sex workers on par with other public workers, whose lives are valued highly because they work in dangerous professions that serve the needs of the community.

Platforms contain integrated audio and video (for getting attention, I suppose), a GPS system, an alarm system, and hidden compartments for stashing cash and condoms and such. What I don't want to know is what happens when she steps in a puddle.

(Via Shoewawa.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:40 PM)
8 September 2007
Such a tease

Christian Louboutin heels worn by Sarah Michelle GellarI have never quite made up my mind about toe cleavage: like its upstairs cousin, it hints at further delights, but I always wonder if maybe she's wearing the wrong size, or wrong style, shoe. This particular shoe is a design by Christian Louboutin, who usually doesn't push the envelope too much, but geez, Chris, if you'd cut this vamp any lower you'd have a sandal, fercryingoutloud. I suppose it would be fairer to see this shoe in context — Shoebunny, from whom I pilfered this thumbnail (!), has more pictures — and I figure that maybe the overall intent is to make legs look longer, not that Sarah Michelle Gellar, who's wearing the shoes in the picture, needs any help in that regard. Ultimately, I suppose, this is more ammunition for the folks who think toe cleavage is some sort of freak show, and I suspect you'll never get Miriam into a pair of these.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:42 PM)
10 September 2007
The cameras were kept in the fridge

The girls of Go Fug Yourself show up at New York Fashion Week, and something about it seems vaguely familiar:

Just as we ... began eavesdropping, we were ushered to our seats. "PLEASE UNCROSS YOUR LEGS," one of the photographers bellowed when he got a gander at the narrow runway lined with women in imposing shoes. This marks the first time a fashion show began the same way as an appointment with the gynecologist.

We will not entertain the idea that this particular Hasselbladder was trying to stirrup some trouble.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:37 AM)
Remembering Lane Bryant

Now this is fascinating: Fashion-Incubator has scans from old Lane Bryant catalogs, 40 to 50 years ago.

Which, in turn, led me to look up Lane Bryant herself, who was born Lena Himmelstein in Lithuania in 1879 and shipped off to New York in 1895, supporting herself as a seamstress. ("Bryant" was David Bryant, her first husband, whom she married in 1899 and who died shortly after the birth of their child.) Mrs Bryant continued as a dressmaker, and some time after 1904, at the request of a customer, designed a chic maternity dress with an elasticized waist and a pleated skirt, a distinct departure from traditional maternity wear, which no one would ever see because you simply didn't go out of the house while you were expecting. It was an immediate hit.

In 1909, Mrs Bryant remarried, to Albert Malsin, who took over the business end of the Lane Bryant shop while she concentrated on design. New York newspapers, however, would not accept advertising for the store, what with all those evil maternity outfits on display. Eventually one paper did agree to run an ad, and when it appeared, the store was completely sold out within twenty-four hours. A second store had been opened in 1915, in Chicago, but feeling that they could not rely on newspapers, the Malsins opened up a mail-order branch, which by 1917 was bringing in $1 million a year.

This, though, is the story that gets me:

Lane Bryant Malsin was a pioneer in customer relations and corporate philanthropy. At her suggestion, Lane Bryant, Inc. worked with the Red Cross to replace any Lane Bryant customerís wardrobe that was destroyed in a disaster. In 1947, for example, after a major explosion and fire in Texas City, Texas, the company re-outfitted 58 mail order customers whose homes were destroyed. After World War II, Lane Bryant stores became clothing donation centers to benefit displaced persons in Europe.

This, boys and girls, is how you build customer loyalty.

The catalog excerpts are also instructive, because while they did list sizes, they encouraged you to send in a total of eight different measurements, and if based on those measurements they thought you had ordered the wrong size, they sent you what they thought was the correct size instead.

Mrs Malsin died in 1951; The Limited bought the company in 1982. The original catalog still exists as Woman Within, operated by Brylane/Redcats, and the retail chain (with Web storefront) continues under Charming Shoppes ownership.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:45 PM)
13 September 2007
She's so good with her stiletto

Or so Camilla Morton would have us believe:

Since writing the book How to Walk in High Heels, I have felt duty bound to practise what I preach. In my six-inch stilettos I keep my head held high and my eye on the goal. They are my shot of confidence and secret weapon against any rivals.

Well, of course they're a weapon. They'd better be. Because you certainly aren't going to run away from anyone in those six-inch heels.

There is a downside to living half a foot closer to the clouds, though:

It's true that as a heels devotee, plasters, pedicures, paracetamol and ta