Kim Berns’ Post Road: Fashion Sense


In this month’s Spring Fashion issue of Harper’s Bazaar, the style icon Daphne Guinness- a costumed do it your-selfer, says “I really don’t understand the idea of a celebrity stylist.  Is it a real job?  I know there’s unemployment, but frankly the railways need to be fixed too”.

Tell that to the celebrities on the red carpet this year.

If you had the opportunity to spend hours in front of the TV last Sunday watching the 83rd pre-Oscars , you too might have breathed a sigh of relief that you didn’t end up a star, forcing you to pose (hand on hip, chin up), before 500 members of the press.  Particularly if you’re a puny star, requiring you to be there at the crack of dawn, acres of carpet away from the big shots.  And what of the stylists and handlers?  Clearly no one is working on the railway considering their vast numbers.

And granted, stars are made up to not look like the rest of us, but would someone explain if there is a Hollywood code that requires the people that make the stars glow consistently look like shoppers from the Plus Size Women’s racks at Kohls?  Like Oscar’s red carpet, these folks appear to be quintessentially American, lackeys that stars don’t dare do without.

But the Oscars are fun because most of us are so far removed that we need not sit with sketch pad in hand planning our own gowns, allowing us plenty of free time to rip everyone’s to shreds.  Playing amateur psychologist to wild-eyed Charlie Sheen is like shooting fish in a barrel, but scrutinizing formal wear is an exercise in self analysis, rating ourselves on how distant we are from the catwalk.

With Fashion Week having just wrapped up in New York, Paris and Milan, even if you are a rebel of couture you can’t help but be affected by what they are telling you to be.

The Personal Journal section in the WSJ today says that it’s OK to show off your wealth, phew.

Particularly in Italy where the message is, it’s time to look like your mother, whatever your age.  But what about your mother’s age?  They might be saying that if you’re Tory Burch, you can whip out photos of your mother floating around Rome in large sunglasses, a caftan and flats and then you can design a shoe and name it after her.  Design sense, like so many talents are a product of our upbringing, causing us to either be Melissa Leo who not only plays down trodden women folk with a questionable background, but dresses like one too.  I suppose with the busy work of advertising for her Oscar she had no time to peruse W.  Didn’t she know to ask for a stylist?  At what point do any of us know how bad we look?

I’m on top of it because I have an expressive husband who often asks, “Did you buy that before you met me”, a double whammy insinuating that A., the look is dated, and B. he knows something about dressing.

First of all, on the list of why men get to rule the world more, the top of the list states that  paying excessive attention to fashion is unattractive and suspect.  Paying attention to quality is allowed as my husband did when I first met him.  I was impressed by his open suit coat label, Barneys.  He felt rich, like the inspiration coming from Italy.  I admired that he only bought his boxers from Brooks Brothers.  He was a man of discriminating taste.  Now I have to reprimand him for buying clothes at Costco.  Just because they give you a big cart does not mean you should fill it with dress shirts.  And as his wardrobe has faded his confidence has not, reminding me that his look is classic and timeless.

But that’s the point.  For those that aren’t friends with Stella McCartney, or engaged to one of the two Lauren kids that are getting married this spring, fashion can fall by the wayside because it’s too much damn trouble to keep up.

In the back of each month’s Bazaar, there’s a valuable page that tells you, What’s In-What’s Out.

So thank God I didn’t jam my closets with skintight bandage dresses, Out.  Tuxedo suits, In.   Dainty feline pumps, In.  Aggressive studded heels, Out.  With each entry of what I shouldn’t be wearing I have dodged another bullet, been smarter than others having not made that ‘this season’ purchase.

But with the thousands of ways to buy luxury items at a fraction of the price on-line, I can be in the game with a Fendi here and a Theory there.  Of course the reason it’s affordable is because it’s from last season.  If you still want to look cool and rich, the real secret is to hang out with more people like Melissa Leo, dial it down.

And there is a danger in buying anything decent that costs real money; you can never get rid of it.

I have outdated Dior, circa 1980; I have a jacket and suit from an Escada sample sale.  Escada?  My closet is stuffed with pants in every shape-not size that is just too much work to have different wardrobes.

But now my troubles are over.

USA Today reported on March 1st that at the demo Spring 2011 conference in Palm Desert, CA this week, unveiled amongst other things is a Virtual Dressing room.  FaceCake Marketing Technologies has invented a ‘reality-based full length mirror called Swivel.  It lets shoppers see how they’ll look in different outfits and with different accessories without donning the clothes.’

But here’s the kicker, soon ‘you’ll also be able to take advantage of Swivel at home using a webcam, or via Microsoft Xbox Kinect.  They say you can virtually ‘see how new clothes would work with the stuff in your closet’.

Sold!  They say that dressing well improves self esteem.  Why not have a fashion show in your own home while avoiding costly mistakes and bad lighting?

I listened closely to the speech by Miranda Priestly,the editor of Runway magazine , the true-to- life  Devil Wears Prada; she had a solid case for the amount of people employed in the world because of fashion.

I can take fashion seriously.  It’s me I’ve got a problem with.

Kim Berns is a writer and interior decorator living in Rye. Her closet is stuffed.

One thought on “Kim Berns’ Post Road: Fashion Sense

  1. Sign me up for Swivel at home! Last week I was shopping and went to look in the three-way mirror and the lighting was so so bad, showing every blue vein in my legs, my pasty midwest face, my crowsfeet all a-glow, that I literally ran back to my dressing room, vowing never to return!!
    Great stuff, Kimmy. XO Cam

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