Tag Archives: Rachel Zoe

Things I Learned From Really Bad Reality Television

I had no Internet access for seven days. Seven days, people! I had my iPhone, and that was it. Instead of reading good books, I watched a lot of bad TV. Here are seven lessons I learned for each day I was without the world wide web.

1. From Animal Planet’s The Haunted: If you are stressed out, don’t, under any circumstances, meditate. Because it’s likely that an evil satan-worshipping dead relative WILL invade your home, haunt you AND your dogs. ESPECIALLY your dogs.
2. Also from Animal Planet’s The Haunted: Don’t investigate the paranormal, if you are a man. You may be stalked by an evil, beautiful Succubus trying to suck out your, er, lifeforce. Also, your dog won’t like you anymore.
3. From My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding: Where to even BEGIN! This show was so incredibly FUBAR that my jaw was often on my couch. First off, if you’re a woman, you have NO rights, except to throw incredibly expensive, lavish, gaudy weddings. Then you go live in a trailer for the rest of your life. Depressing.
4. From Paranormal Witness: Yes, you may be noticing a trend here. I am somewhat obsessed by paranormal shows. This is the scariest show of this genre I have EVER seen. If you have an opportunity to buy a massive, enormous home in Connecticut for almost nothing, please, please check property records. Your property might have actually been the site of the most terrible insane asylum, ever. Shudder.
5. From House Hunters: If you live anywhere EXCEPT the Bay Area, Hawaii, NYC, LA and Boston, you have every right to expect to buy a 5 bedroom house with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a massive backyard and heated bathroom floors. You’ll get it within your budget of $250k, no problem. The rest of us? SUCK IT!!
6. From The Rachel Zoe Project: Your pregnancy will never, ever show. Even if you are nine months along. Also, you’ll be a size zero again directly after birth. Ugh.
7. From Home By Novogratz: Jjiraffe will covet your chic, effortless, boho lifestyle and your extreme fertility. How does someone have seven kids, live in a FABULOUS home in Manhattan, have a fun design company with their husband and somehow is so likable that I’m not even mad at her? Courtney Novogratz rules.

What have YOU learned from bad TV?

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Inspiration Vs. Aspiration

Because I am the last to everything, I finally saw an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project. She’s the “super stylist” who became famous for dressing celebrities like Nicole Ritchie and Lindsay Lohan all the time, because the paparazzi followed them 24/7 and they didn’t want to be photographed only in sweats and tank tops. Her 60s/70s/sundresses/platforms/giant sunglasses style is very popular today, especially here in California.

I have notes.

1) She was six months pregnant in the episode I watched and looked like she had maybe eaten a big burrito for lunch. WTF?
2) I don’t get her husband. He squawks about how Rachel spends too much money but then agrees to leasing a 7,000 square foot house for three people. (And a bunch of clothes?) He also decides to hire some guy basically to hang
out with Rachel and be her friend for the remainder of her third trimester. That’s right: money CAN buy friendship.
3) Whoever the wise wag was who noted that after 40 you choose your face or your ass should probably revise that downward to 35 for the super, super svelte. Just sayin’.
4) Rachel herself is charmingly self-deprecating. She says at one point that she never thinks that anyone will ever come to a party she hosts. And you can tell that she really, really means it.
5) I kinda like her spirit. I disapprove of her weight, but I do like that she’s attempting to shift a paradigm of fashion that has existed since Coco Chanel’s reinvention of the fashion house in the 1920s.

Fashion for almost the last century has mostly focused on the “High”: collections shown in Paris, Milan and NYC sold at a high price to the upper classes, then knocked off and distributed through middle-end shops and department stores and finally discounted to the lowest prices to the masses. Fashion, while maybe inspired by the street styles of London or Brooklyn, really is a few style makers (mostly men) dictating in a trickle down way what we women wear.

Fashion for the last century has been, for the most part, Aspirational. We see what comes from on high, then we want it. In college everyone wore flannel shirts, jeans, boots, leather belts. Marc Jacobs, a high fashion designer, had designed my college uniform with his infamous “Grunge” collection in 92. As well as the casual, jeans and floral dress heavy styles that lasted pretty much throughout the 90s.

You may be noticing that ankle boots are having a moment. They actually first showed up in the 2007/2008 collections of Chanel and Prada. Vogue declared 2009 “…the year of the ankle boot.” From there they filtered through the fashion pages into other midpriced collections like Nine West, finally making an appearance in our every day life this fall: Kohl’s, Payless Shoe Source now has variations on the ankle boot.

Something different is individual fashion bloggers who each have their own unique style and have garnered followings. Reading someone like Tavi is like reading one of my back issues of Vogue in ’92. Sonic Youth? Grunge? 70s revival? Been there, done that.

What I like best is bloggers who have their own unique style little affected by the big designers. Women like Nie Nie who has created her own sort of wholesome Americana style. Or, LuLu Letty, whose style does not pay any attention to the overlords of fashion: her style is sublimely unique: featuring moccasins and penny loafers, Graphic sweaters and vintage blouses and skirts. Lulu Letty is a fashion original. I find her inspirational: she has created a new look by not using the usual touchstones and created a style her own. Another favorite of mine is Danimezza, another fashion blogger who creates chic, timeless looks for herself in plus sizes. Her outfits are about as polished and unique as it gets.

Do you think that Fashion should be aspirational, mostly looking to a few tastemakers to determine the trends for the next few years or would you prefer to follow a more inspirational look?

How do you pick your clothes? Do you look online at bloggers? Do you look at Vogue? Do you follow trends at Macy’s/Kohls/peer pressure?

In this economy, should we still admire clothes that we will never ever be able to fit into or afford? Or should we look for inspiration elsewhere?

Postscript: I was looking for dresses for a wedding a few years ago and went to a Barney’s sale. I found a lovely couture gown, by Isabel Toledo, for Anne Klein. Apparently there was only one collection done. Isabel Toledo went on to greater fame after designing Michelle Obama’s inauguration outfit. Anyway, the dress was a different color and hem length to the one shown on the runway. It looked very different than the dress did on the runway. The dress was originally $1800. I got it for $250. I felt pretty good about that.

From the runway

To the hanger

To being worn by a size 6

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Filed under Design, Discovering joy