Thursday, August 14, 2014

Madewell picks

Madewell has become my go-to store these days, surprisingly as I always found their clothes disappointing in person. I believe they have a new design team and I like what they're doing. Additionally, their clothes have the kind of ease (and washability) that works when you are running after a very active toddler. Here are a few pieces I'm likely to get if they are still in stock next time they have an extra percentage off.

It's cotton, a print, washable and has some interest around the collar. It also has pockets.

Not yet on sale, this one has mixed reviews but it's in cotton and has pockets. I'd definitely have to try it on as the other poncho dress they had looked ridiculous on, even in a size S (two sizes down).

This oversize lightweight linen cardigan is perfect--just what I need right now to cover my summer dresses when I take Severin out for a walk at 7 am or 6 pm. It's on sale but I need a promo to bite.

This one I own. It's so much nicer in person although it's more brown than orange-y red. I could wear it every day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall

Just the other day, I found a website listing the decreasing number of surviving Hollywood stars. I confess I was most interested in the few surviving figures from the silent screen--surprisingly a couple of (then) teenagers from the very late 1920s are still alive, although none reached any level of prominence. Lauren Bacall was on the list, but she wasn't the oldest and it wasn't a surprise (although I had no idea her near contemporary Lizabeth Scott was still with us). Just a teenager at the start of her career in the mid-1940s, she was one of the younger stars of the Classical era. Still working, tough, witty and in charge of all her faculties and still attractive, she appeared to be indestructible, a centenarian in the making despite her smoking habit.

Of course, she wasn't. On balance, I suppose a stroke at 89 is probably not the worst way to go but the loss of such an iconic figure is very sad. Besides losing such a talented figure who seemed like such a great woman, we've lost one of the few remaining links to Hollywood at its finest. I shouldn't say this as a film scholar, but the more I see of contemporary American film, the more my adolescent belief that the beginning of sound and the Paramount decrees severely diminished cinema seems less prejudicial and more accurate. (I now allow for the genius of much 1960s cinema and the work of later auteurs like Stanley Kubrick). Obviously, there are great films from every era--Joe Wright, Michael Winterbottom, Wong Kar Wai and Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Sofia Coppola are always interesting/brilliant but they aren't exactly of the mainstream, which used to be so strong.

I remember watching To Have and Have Not as an undergraduate. I was resentful that we had to study the stodgy Howard Hawks as an auteur not the more thrilling Langs of the year earlier, but he did bring Bacall to prominence and showcase her at her most beautiful. Watching that film, it's amazing that this was her first screen work--her presence is so strong and composed and she is utterly compelling. By the 1950s, she had taken on a more down-to-earth persona that was perhaps a little too mature for a 20-something, which was, perhaps, a reflection of 1950s fashions and feminine ideals. But at the end of the day, you can see why the men in The Cobweb, Written on the Wind and How To Marry a Millionaire might have favoured her characters over her more glamourous, flighty and/or neurotic costars.

Throughout her life, Bacall could act, was beautiful, mythical and bright, had a conscience, a brain and latterly showed us all how to age with style and grace. I'm glad she was with us so long but wish she could have survived just a little longer. Rest in well deserved peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Zara picks

I'm still at a stage where I can't contemplate spending a lot of money on clothes. We're well past the  infant messiness, but I want to be able to play without worries in clothing that's both easy and machine washable and I don't want to feel that anything can be destroyed by a messy toddler hand. Recently Severin grabbed the back of my new dress from & Other Stories with a chocolate covered hand but it was machine washable (and cheapish) so it didn't matter and the stain washed out. I suppose my priorities have changed--I still love clothes but I want to save for the boy and any sibling I hope he may have.

For the autumn/late summer, I like these pieces from Zara:

I like the colour, I like the fact that it's a print (better to disguise any spills) and while I know it's synthetic, I'm inclined to buy this one now. With a cardigan, tights and boots, it will take me into November.

It looks comfy, elegant and useful but as it is black (and I've got too many black dresses), I may pass. But still a nice option for the new semester. I like the fact it's really drapey, especially after having a child.

This one is lovely. That said, I'm annoyed as it's one of those Zara pieces I loved and would have probably paid full price (and it's a steep $129 for a synthetic) but they chose to only make it in S and M. Why on earth would they do that? If you are tall, like me, it doesn't take that much to need a L at Zara. What a stupid decision on their part.

Love the fabric and the style. The colours reminds me of discount Rachel Comey. It's from the junio TRF line so I'm not sure if it will fit or if it will look too cheap but I may order it anyway (returns are free).

Zara's knitwear is actually pretty decent and this cotton mix sweater looks like a perfect autumn option, pulled over either of the blue dresses above or worn with jeans.