Best and Worst Dressed at the Oscars

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Sally Field, ageless AND age-appropriate in Valentino.

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Halle Berry, risk-taking perfection in Versace.

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Nicole Kidman shows the younger generation how to do glamour right in her Balenciaga gown.

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Jennifer Aniston couldn’t go wrong in this stunning red Valentino gown. This is what I would wear at the Oscars: something glamorous and appropriate yet comfortable and simple, so she gets my best-dressed award.

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Charlize, you’re just hot, and you’d look great in anything, but this Christian Dior gown was a fabulous choice.

Disappointingly, no major celebrities wore vintage at the Oscars Sunday night; it must be too seductive having designers like Valentino and Oscar de la Renta offering you free couture gowns. In lieu of my annual “Vintage at the Oscars” post, here are my picks for best and worst dressed:

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Kristen Stewart was a hot mess, and so was her ill-fitting Reem Acra gown.

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An attempt at glamour gone terribly wrong: Catherine Zeta-Jones in Zuhair Murad.

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The color, the wrinkles…and don’t even get me started on the darts on this Prada dress that made Anne Hathaway’s nipples look like they were going to attack someone. Worst-dressed!

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Jennifer Garner’s Gucci gown did nothing for her body: her boobs were non-existent and her stomach stuck out.

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Sunrise Coigney looked inappropriate and just plain bad in this Zero + Maria Cornejo dress.

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Sophie of Saks

“A woman and her waistline should never be separated.” – Sophie Gimbel

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The Parsons Show, featuring a portrait of Sophie to the left.

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Sophie and Adam Gimbel

“Sophie of Saks” (Sophie Gimbel) was the head designer for the Salon Moderne for forty years. An incredibly talented designer and astute businesswoman, many thought of her as the quintessential American designer, but today many are unaware of her popularity. Always an admirer of her designs, I was happy to hear that the Parsons School of Design and Saks Fifth Avenue have collaborated on an excellent show featuring her dresses.1101470915_400

Sophie was born in Houston and her design aesthetic was purely and proudly American. She was hired by Adam Gimbel, the owner of Saks, in 1929, married him in 1931 and stayed on as head designer there for forty years. Although she enjoyed using exotic materials like Indian sari fabric, she was a bit of a workaholic (churning out over 500 designs per year) and ironically didn’t travel much. But she had such good instincts and was so successful that Time Magazine featured her on their cover in 1947. She is also credited with the invention of “culottes.”

I owned a Sophie of Saks many years ago, a stunning green strapless gown from the 1950s worthy of being in this show. At the time I knew little about her designs, but I knew the workmanship was exquisite and the fabric incredibly luxurious. I don’t regret selling it, but I do hope the customer who bought it is appreciative of what they have.

For more information and to see many of her designs online, see http://fashion.parsons.edu/sophie/

Posted in "vintage is green", adam gimbel, elisa casas, parsons school of design, saks fifth avenue, sophie gimbel, sophie of saks, vintage clothing | Leave a comment

Vintage at the SAG Awards

wenn20088760After two slip-ups (at the Emmys, in poorly-fitting Louis Vuitton, and at the Golden Globes, in gold Alexander Vauthier) Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) finally got it right in her sleek “vintage” Chado Ralph Rucci gown. The press went crazy over her side boob exposure, but I thought it was pretty tame. Although I’m thrilled that she got a lot of press coverage (no pun intended), I do question if a dress by a designer who has only been in business since 1994 can be considered “vintage.” Nevertheless, her gown was certainly green, and we applaud her for that!

To see all the looks on the red carpet, go to www.styleite.com.

Posted in "vintage is green", chado ralph rucci, michelle dockery, ralph rucci, SAG awards, Uncategorized, vintage clothing | Leave a comment

Vintage at the Golden Globes

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Bradley Cooper in an eco-friendly Tom Ford tux.

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Francesca Eastwood in vintage Armani.

I have such respect for celebrities who are bold enough to wear vintage clothing to awards shows. Not only is it the right thing to do for the environment, but it shows a great sense of confidence, style and individuality. I hope we see more celebrities wearing vintage (or eco-friendly designs) this awards season.

Check VintageIsGreen.com throughout the 2013 awards season. I’ll be posting photos of all our favorite environmentally aware celebs!

To see more from the red carpet, click here.

Posted in 2013, armani, best dresses, bradley cooper, eco friendly, francesca eastwood, Golden Globes, Golden Globes Best Dressed, jennifer garner, jessica chastain, red carpet, tom ford, tux, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sustainable Practices in the Age of Fast Fashion

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The symposium was held at Coco-Mat, a sustainable housewares store in SoHo.

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending a symposium about “fast fashion” and its impact on the environment, the economy and our buying habits. The panel included Elizabeth Cline, author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” designers Timo Rissanen and Anthony Lilore, fashion rep Amy Dufault, and Owyn Ruck from the Textile Arts Center. Carmen Artigas, who teaches Ethical Fashion at FIT, moderated.

It was exciting to feel like part of a real movement: there’s a growing interest in sustainable fashion, as evidenced by the impressive turnout. I’ve educated myself about the negative impact of fast fashion and written about it in many blogs here, so the information provided was not news to me, but many attendees hearing it for the first time were inspired. I urge everyone to read Elizabeth’s book and carefully consider your choices when buying clothing. Be responsible: buy less, read labels, support local and eco-friendly designers and wear vintage, Vintage Is Green™.

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Ghana is Green

Making the Gyapa stoves. The metal part is 100% recycled tin.

My boyfriend is on the board of Relief International, and I’m in Accra, Ghana with him while he attends RI’s board meeting. Ghana has the fastest growing economy in Africa due to its wealth of natural resources, yet in rural areas poverty is pervasive. RI has implemented several programs in Ghana to improve sanitation, purify water and most impressively, advance the use of energy efficient stoves. The Gyapa stove cuts charcoal use by half, saves money and reduces carbon emissions.

In addition, the production and manufacture of Gyapa stoves has created many jobs. We were able to visit stores that sell the stoves, restaurants that use the stoves, the ceramic plant that employs 50 people who make the heat-insulating liners and two metal workers. One of them, Peter, works out of the Accra garbage dump, where he is able to easily find the recyclable tin that is used to make the body of the stove.

A huge, sad pile of old flip-flops. Take a good look at where your discarded items end up!

The dump is massive and nothing like anything I’ve seen before. It’s a community of people who work and live there and sort different items into huge piles that eventually get recycled. It was inspiring for me to see how every product finds its pile, and to see waste being reused in such an effective way.

Because my main interest is clothing and how to effectively reduce its carbon footprint, I was drawn to a pile of flip-flops that I saw on my way in. Flip-flops are purely disposable shoes that, as you can see from these photos, are terrible for the environment. I urge everyone to purchase items with a long life to avoid more and more piles like this from accumulating in the world.

Ghanaians are extremely welcoming people, and they love to have their photo taken. This family lives at the dump.

For more info on RI, the countries they work in and their programs in Ghana, visit http://www.ri.org/

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Just Say No To “Fast Fashion”

Elizabeth L. Cline’s book, “Overdressed,” is a fascinating look at the impact that “fast fashion” has on the economy, the environment and on us. The way clothing is manufactured, marketed and disposed of has completely changed in the past 20 years, and so has our attitude: with so many discount stores around, we have come to expect clothing to be cheap. And fast fashion is changing the way we purchase clothing: we buy impulsively, we buy with the idea of quickly disposing of it, we buy more and we actually spend more money (“fast fashion” stores replenish their wares often to encourage us to shop frequently.)

But what price are we paying when we score that $4 t-shirt from Target?

The last Levi factory closed in San Antonio, TX in 2003. The iconic, quintessentially American jean manufacturer now produces all their jeans in China.

The ILGWU label used to be a source of pride, assuring consumers that their garment was union, and therefore ethically, made. I rely on it to help me date vintage clothing.

97% of our clothing is now manufactured out of the U.S. That has translated to 80% of U.S. garment workers losing their jobs since 1996. Because more clothing than ever is being produced (H&M produces 500 million pieces of clothing per year; Zara, 1 million per day) and because it doesn’t endure, much of that clothing is ending up in landfills. Clothing production also causes a severe strain on the environment: the air quality in Bangladesh and China in particular is greatly compromised, and their rivers are irreversibly polluted. Half our wardrobes are made of non-bio-degradable plastic (polyester.) Only 1/4 of donated clothing is actually sold: thrift shops are inundated with cheap fashion that no one wants. And shockingly, the average American disposes of 68 pounds of textiles per year.

These facts really opened my eyes. Although most of the clothing I buy is vintage or purchased in thrift shops, I regularly supplement my wardrobe with trendy, cheap clothing from H&M, Topshop and Forever 21. I’ve always been an advocate for inexpensive clothing because I felt that women of all income levels deserved to be fashionable. But after reading Cline’s book in June, I haven’t stepped foot in any of those stores; it seems to have turned me off to cheap clothing forever.

It’s time to re-evaluate our relationship with clothing. We should all examine the necessity of what we buy, the reasons we buy, and do all we can to change our spending habits, which have a huge impact on the economy and the environment. Here are my suggestions for going on a “clothing diet:”

America’s biggest export is now used clothing, which is mostly sent to Africa.

-Shop in your own closet. This may sound silly, but we often forget what’s in there. Be creative with what you have.
-Buy less. Don’t buy things you already have, and don’t buy things in multiples just because they’re cheap; it’s better to buy one quality item at a time.
-Don’t buy clothing made from man-made fibers; buy organic, natural fibers whenever possible.
-Check labels. If something is made in Bangladesh, for example, google “Bangladesh minimum wage” and see what they pay their workers. Be informed: do not support companies who abuse their workers or the environment.
-Support local designers and environmentally friendly designers, even if their clothing is more expensive.
-Buy used clothing. Many thrift shops have excellent quality designer clothing for a fraction of the original retail price. It’s a win-win-win: you pay less, you support sustainability, and often (like at Goodwill) you help a charity.
-Learn how to sew, and repair your own clothing. You can even redesign items that you’ve tired of. Or ask a tailor to do it.
-Luxury handbags are one of the biggest scams in retail, marked up 10-12 times the cost of production. Don’t fall for the hype.

…and wear vintage, Vintage Is Green™.

Posted in "fast fashion", "Made In China", elisa casas, Elizabeth Cline, Forever 21, H&M, ILGWU, Levi, Over-Dressed, Polyester, Target, Thrift Shops, vintage clothing, wear vintage, Zara | 3 Comments