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What I Wear, What I Mean: Fashion and Identity

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Judgy Queen Elizabeth
Judging peasants’ style choices. | ELLE

Fashion is a language and, whether you shout at the world about who you are in bold red and leather jackets or whisper in a soft harmony of pastels and feminine silhouettes, you need to know the grammar. Or, do you?

A brief retrospect shows a clear link between identity and fashion choices. The queens and kings of the past didn’t dress like commoners and call it “peasant chic.” Don’t wear a headband and a braided beard in 1960s if you’re not for free love and against the Vietnam War. A girl wearing that shade of bloody rouge lipstick must be a streetwalker. Only people with provincial taste don’t match their shoes and bags in color. May I ask in which prison did you get that lovely tattoo?

But times have changed, as they tend to do. Queen Elizabeth wearing gray skinny jeans doesn’t even surprise anyone. Okay, okay, just kidding with this one, yet I can’t help but notice (my Carrie Bradshaw moment right here) that meanings and the lines of acceptable have become rather blurry (luckily just talking about fashion, Robin).

So, is fashion language nowadays lacking in obscenities and metaphors, character and poise? Is it spoken by fewer and fewer people? Is the fashion language dead?

The Creation of an Identity

“Understanding that people are always a worse version of who they want to be is a way of loving them.” – Spencer Madsen

Whatever aesthetic you’re after springs from who you want to be… or at least seem. Identity creation is heavily influenced by culture and environment, whether it’s a Lynch heroine or a professor-lady crush. It adds references to your fashion talk. Consistency is key. Details are essential. Just ask Wintour’s bob or Lagerfeld’s cat.

It’s common to assume that fashion choices are about who we are, but actually it’s a wannabe’s game. In life you can fail to become, but in fashion you can’t fail to seem. Every choice is a sum of bits you wanted to steal from others’ identities, their stories you wanted to live.

Well, at times who we want to be says more about ourselves than who we are, doesn’t it?

Sherlock holmes scarf
It’s the scarf. It was secretly always the scarf. | From the BBC series Sherlock

The Destruction of an Identity

After a while, your friends start calling certain styles “oh my God, so you!”, and you begin to think that your fashion identity has become too predictable to reflect your true self. You want to stop identifying with what you wear.

Only you can’t: everyone is playing the game of judging by the look. There is only one way to remain an enigma: confuse the hell out of everyone.

There is a technique in modern literature called “writing like switching TV channels:” “The sky is changing color. Riot.” or “I am sad. Just like Picasso’s museum in the rain.” It’s a great way to keep the intolerant contemporary reader interested. Apply it to fashion.

Your rules can be “there are no rules.” Mix it all together. Be a hippie, a queen, and a peasant at the same time. Why choose between leather and satin or between two patterns, if you can choose both and revel in an overdose of references and styles? Borrow from everyone, yet steal no one’s image. This is the only way to escape the burdensome “this is so you.”

Alexa chung outfits
“Ugly” shoes are a philosophy. | ELLE

Ms. Alexa Chung practices this technique with great success: she wears everything from ballet flats and pink dresses to jeans shorts and all sorts of “ugly” shoes. She is the confuser. And also the It-girl of our confused times.

The Dangers of Fashion Language

“A student activist came into my European History class today to talk about the documentary he made about homeless people in NYC. After he left people talked stuff about his shoes.” – ggiver

Underneath all the flairs and flower crowns, fashion language is filled with deadly dangers. One of them is the overvalued stock of fashion talk. Oftentimes, just like in the quote, it even deems what you have to say irrelevant. When Russell Brand talked about Gandhi and Che, the journalists heard “boots and tight pants.”

But the fashion world is moving on from meanings and messages. Fashion has transformed from something similar to literature, where every scene has a message, into art, where the very image, deprived of a message, stands for itself; from symbols and metaphors into abstract visuality.

So is It Dead?

Ac dc tshirt
She just likes alternating and direct currents. | Photo Credit

You approach a guy wearing an AC/DC T-shirt hoping to travel the highway to hell together, but it turns out he just liked the tee in Forever 21. You think he is a fraud, but being a fraud is the trend. You don’t have to assume meaning and he doesn’t have to put meaning into it.

Fashion language is dead; this is the time for fashion art. Tattoos and no dress codes in the workplace are increasingly common. You certainly can create a consistent identity or be consistently unpredictable, but the next step is not using fashion for communication. No one has to align style with message. No one is “asking for it.” To hell, I say, with “creating a consistent brand for yourself!”

Hooray for style for the sake of style; bright and meaningless, sparkly and fun. Be light-headed and reckless in your fashion identity. Be postmodern; it’s in vogue.

Thoughts?

Is your identity related to your style? Does it carry a message? Are you more a narrative or an image? Do you find the transition confusing or liberating? Tell us in the comments.

Filed Under: Fashion News / Tags: , , ,

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Coupons & Sales: Week of 7/25/14

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Coupon codes, sales, and online shopping deals

* Aeropostale will give you an extra 30% off clearance items through 7/27. Enter coupon code EXTRA30 at checkout to receive discount.

* Alternative Apparel is offering an additional 30% off sale items with code SUMMER30 through 7/28.

* Calvin Klein is offering 40% off sitewide through today, 7/25. Exclusions apply. Discount automatically applied at checkout.

* Chinese Laundry is having a huge sale, with up to 75% off select inventory while supplies last. Quantities are limited, so shop now for the best selection!

* dELiA*s will give you $20 off plus free shipping over $75 with code DHH75 or 15% off plus free shipping over $75 with code DHH15 through 8/21. Plus take 20% off full price items and BOGO free on clearance items with code NEW4YOU through 7/28.

* e.l.f. Cosmetics has the following deal: Get $10 off, plus a $10 reward code when you spend $30 or more. Use code TREAT10 at checkout through 7/28. The reward code will be sent via email to customers on 8/1 and can only be used 8/15-9/15.

* Far Fetch is offering an extra 20% off all sale styles. Use promo code X20JULY14 through 7/26 at 8:59 am GMT.

* Folica has the following offers: take 30% off their summer sale section with code SALE30 or 15% off summer essentials with code SUMMER15. These deals are valid through 8/31.

* Forzieri is offering an extra 20% off sale items with code EXTRA20 through 7/31.

* Heels.com will give you 20% off your entire order when you use code CRABCAKE through 8/31.

* Hot Topic is offering $5 off orders of $50+ with code HTJLY14 through 8/4. Plus take 20% off sitewide (excluding denim) through 8/9. Prices as marked.

* J.Crew Factory has new arrivals 30% off (prices as marked). Plus enjoy 20% off when you spend $100 or more. Use code SHOPMORE through 7/27.

* JCPenney has the following deal: Get an extra 20% off when you use your JCPenney Credit Card or an extra 15% off with any form of payment on select original, regular, sale and clearance- priced apparel, shoes, accessories and home purchases. Some exclusions apply. Use code BUYTODAY through 7/29.

* Kiehl’s will gift you 5 packette samples with every order. Just enter code SAMPLES at checkout through 7/27.

* Les Nouvelles is offering an additional 25% off their spring/summer collections through 7/27. Use code PLUS25 at checkout.

* The Limited is offering 40% off all full-priced items and an extra 40% off sale items. No code needed! Deal ends 7/29.

* Lori’s Shoes will give you an additional 30% off sale styles with code SUMMER30 through 7/27.

* Macy’s will give you an extra 20% off with code SUMMER through 7/27. Exclusions apply, see site for full details.

* Maurices has all apparel BOGO 50% off through 7/26. Enter promo code ALLBOGO714 to receive discount.

* Nike will give you free 2-day shipping on orders over $75 through 7/30. Enter code RIVAL and select 2-day shipping at checkout. Excludes NIKEiD and gift card purchases.

* Nine West is offering an additional 30% off sale, for a total savings of up to 60%. Offer ends 7/29, no promo code needed.

* PacSun will give you 20% off your entire order plus $1 shipping when you use code 20FORYOU through 7/29. Applies to regular priced items only, excludes markdowns and certain brand restrictions.

* Puma will give you an extra 20% off sale items. No code needed. Offer ends 7/27.

* Sally Beauty Supply has clearance curling and flat irons and extra 50% off through 7/27. No code needed!

* Steve Madden will give you an additional 30% off Women’s Clearance with code SIZZLE. Offer valid while supplies last. Plus get 15% off your order of $75 and free shipping with code JULYSM1. Offer excludes clearance and is valid through 7/31.

* Tilly’s is offering an extra 50% off all Red Tag Clearance accessories through 8/4.

* Torrid has everything BOGO 50% off through 7/29 when you use code SUMMER50. Plus take 10% off your order with code AFTDJLY1410 through 8/4.

* True Religion is having a private warehouse event, with up to 60% off select styles through 7/27.

* Walgreens is offering 20% off wall decor with code WALLDEAL20 through 7/30.

Filed Under: Coupons & Sales / Tags: , ,

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Hautelinks: Week of 7/24/14

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Hautelinks - your weekly source for the best of the web

* So much LOL: This angry bunny shares your everyday pet peeves.

* Also funny: These GIFs will never get old. (Bookmark for anytime you’re having a bad day!)

* So cool: Anthony Booyay has created a Game of Thrones sigil for all 50 states.

* If you, like me, are forever searching for a grown-up vanilla fragrance, XoVain has finally found some perfect ones.

* Vulture shares some great moments in dystopian knitwear. (Dystopian knitwear is the best knitwear…)

* Always love stories like this: Seventeen shows you some (relatively) inexpensive celebrity fashion favorites you can grab for yourself.

* Mmm, these mocha milkshakes look beyond amazing and perfect for hot days.

* Also delicious-looking: Red, white, and blueberry watermelon sorbet wedges, from Brit + Co.

* Have you noticed fashion photography’s recent trend towards “Zarafication“?

* Byrdie has some helpful shaving tricks to try.

* Also from Byrdie, a list of beauty products to ditch before you turn 30. Enjoy them while you can!

* So helpful: ELLE has a complete guide to keeping your makeup matte in summer.

* Cool new app alert: Party Party, from A Beautiful Mess, looks like it’s going to be a gigantic hit!

* Since internal and emotional health is important and fashionable: The Vagina Chronicles Podcast features discussions about relevant issues for women and is quickly becoming one of our new favorites.

* Rock on! These 51 amazing ladies will make you even prouder to be a woman.

* If your apartment is lacking in storage, this DIY ladder wardrobe may be just what your room needs!

* Speaking of decor, designer Erica Tanov’s home is described as “the stuff boho fantasies are made of,” and we couldn’t agree more.

* Pop Sugar UK might have just swayed us into the land of the matching set. (They don’t look like pajamas… right?)

* Total eye candy alert: Vogue counts down Beyonce’s best stage looks.

* 37 Solutions for Common Manicure Woes, via Buzzfeed.

* Interesting think piece on a recent Esquire article and the Buzzfeed article about beauty we linked last week: “I don’t care if you like it” – Women are tired of being judged by the Esquire metric.

* Yes, Bustle – we ARE super jealous of Jason Sudekis and Olivia Wilde’s new baby Otis. What a life.

* We’re up for this challenge: 18 Pizza Places to Visit Before You Die.

* Aaaand we’re not sure how to respond to these amazing celebrity impressions.

* If you’ve got an interview in a creative industry, why not try one of these cool outfit ideas from Refinery 29?

* Also from Refinery, some style pros share the products currently topping their fashion wish lists.

* Our new life goal: a “she cave,” AKA a 3-story, 3,000 square foot closet.

* And if you’re stuck with a dorm room instead of a she cave, you can at least make it feel like home with these awesome tricks from Buzzfeed.

* Blake Lively just launched a new lifestyle website and we’re already loving it!

* West Elm shows you the easy way to fold a fitted sheet. So helpful!

* Wow! Master Disney Animator’s New Short Will Take Your Breath Away.

* TOO funny: What if Google was a guy, part 3, from CollegeHumor.

* Because everyone loves a good makeover: InStyle lists the best movie makeovers of all time.

* Vintage photos prove selfies are nothing new.

* The Beauty Department shows you how to make a natural makeup brush cleaner at home.

* Although the “ugly shoe trend” seems to be in full force, it seems some types of conventionally “ugly” shoes are not selling as well as others.

* Beauty High shows you how to get Lucy Hale’s double cat eye makeup look.

* Racked breaks down this week’s Lauren Conrad vs Allure Twitter “feud”.

* Also from Racked, a comparison of vanity sizing at different mall stores. So interesting to see how much it varies!

* Got an ombré do? Keep it looking its best with these maintenance tips.

* Speaking of hair, here are 13 things you didn’t know you could do with a flat iron.

* Nice: Finally, serious women are standing up for fashion mags.

* If you’re attending any state fairs this summer, Buzzfeed recommends you try some of these crazy-decadent fair foods. I am dying to try deep fried cookie dough!

* Aww, this post is both adorable and important — pictures of pit bulls defying stereotypes and being incredibly sweet.

* And finally, Dice the cat won’t share his yogurt with you. Sorry!

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What Should I Wear… Instead of Juicy Couture?!

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What Should I Wear…?! is a biweekly column that is here to answer that very question. If you have an event coming up that has you stumped fashion-wise, this is guaranteed to be your best source for outfit inspiration when you need it the most!

Juicy Couture tracksuit ad
Photo: ELLE

Truly an event in the fashion world, the internet is buzzing over the imminent closing of all Juicy Couture stores by the end of this summer. Along with Limited Too, and so many other once-successful brands, you now know how it feels to be “old” and watch that which you once craved the most become obsolete.

Juicy Couture was a celebrity favorite in the early 2000s and epitomized the era with their “bling, bling”, “purse dogs” and, of course, the tracksuits. When I say that they “epitomized the era” though, remember Paris Hilton was probably their best customer.

Paris Hilton in a pink juicy couture tracksuit
“Peace out, won’t forget about you.” | ELLE

Those trendy Juicy Couture tracksuits – which used to be “it, ” literally “it” for almost everything and everywhere – are the focus of this “What Should I Wear…?! post. I know what you’re thinking: “What?! Nobody has worn those in forever!”, but the looks below are current (I promise!) and this post is for more than just nostalgia.

Juicy Couture tracksuits became popular because the brand’s founders, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, answered the pleas all females have about getting dressed. These velour wonders were comfortable, yet cute and flattering, they were oh-so versatile, and were the epitome of easy dressing – all you had to do was put on the matching top and bottom.

While you may not realize just how much they had going for them and maybe didn’t even particularly like the brand, at least consider how revolutionary they were. You live – and, more importantly, dress – in a (fashion) world that was forever influenced by the allowances set by Juicy Couture.

And since “nobody has worn them in forever,” a replacement was never found… well, a good replacement, at least. To fill the void, here are outfits based on the four places 2000s trendsetters wore Juicy tracksuits the most: while shopping, at the spa, during airplane travel, and to yoga class.

Shopping

“The glamorous U.S.A.” does not seem so glam when one goes shopping these days. I don’t understand why, but when shopping for fabulous clothing, people wear that which is not. At least when tracksuits were the uniform for shopping trips across the country, there were cohesive ensembles going on that looked intended and practical.

Britney Spears in a blue Juicy Couture tracksuit
Brit’s so “blue” about this… what’ll she wear to the stores now? | ELLE

Of course, you can wear whatever you like when you go to the mall (within reason), but if you’re looking for a new shopping “uniform,” check out this chic getup:

Juicy Couture inspired shopping outfit
Product Information: Dress, Cardigan, Shoes, Bag, Earrings, BowPhone Cover

That dress, look at it! It was just made for shopping. The buttons down the front mean it’s easy to get on and off, and your hairstyle won’t be sacrificed in the process.

Flats are a godsend when you’re going to be on your feet all day and this bag (ironically called a “shopper”) is ideal for holding smaller purchases along with your other necessities. Aside from their practically, the shoes and bag both add a polished vibe to the look.

This clip-on hair bow is a feminine way to pull back your hair and keep it away from your face while shopping. This is so beneficial when you’re trying a bunch of stuff on in a dressing room!

The earrings mimic the buttons on the dress, and a long cardigan adds a pop of color. The cardigan keeps the outfit grounded, but also adds visual interest while keeping you warm in the notoriously cold stores (A/C all year long, it seems).

We love Audrey Hepburn here at CF, so we went with a Holly Golightly-inspired phone case to finish the look. After all, the stylish Miss Hepburn is the perfect gal to guide you on your shopping expedition.

Spa

Whether you were just stopping in for a mani/pedi or went in for a full day of rejuvenation, Juicy tracksuits and spa days used to go hand-in-hand. However, if you’re planning on pampering yourself sometime soon, this ensemble is what you should be wearing.

Juicy Couture inspired spa look
Product Information: DressBandeauHeadbandBagSunglassesFlip Flops, Book

Versatile pieces are the best, and the “dress” in this outfit fits that mold – it’s actually intended to be a swim cover-up! I found it on Etsy, and it’s based off the popular Victoria’s Secret Wrap Cover-Up, which is as easy to put on as:

Victoria's Secret wrap tutorial
Product Info

This is the perfect thing to wear when you go for a massage or are just going to undress and model one of those soft-as-a-cloud bathrobes the rest of the day. Also, if you’re into DIY projects, keep an eye out: our resident DIY genius, Gloria, will be showing you how to create your own version of this cover-up very soon!

Until then, plan on wearing yours with a bandeau underneath for more coverage. Keep your hair pushed back with a headband and slip on a pair of Havaianas… because is there really any other choice for footwear here? (Hello, pedicure!)

I chose this tote because the pink contrasted so nicely with the color of the dress, plus tote bags are easy to reach into for tipping and grabbing a good book. Please, do not just reach for any old tabloid the spa leaves around, but instead plan to bring your own book – it will be much more satisfying.

My suggestion: The Glitter Plan by the founders of Juicy Couture (I know, it is like I planned it….), which came out in May and is a great summer read of all of you aspiring entrepreneurs!

Airplane Travel

Juicy Couture tracksuits and airplane travel used to be synonymous, but that was also back before the “Kardashian Klan” had their own television show(s) and Kim was just Nicole Richie’s replacement as Paris Hilton’s best friend.

Kim Kardashian wearing a gray juicy couture tracksuit
Going on vacation to somewhere “that’s so hot.” | ELLE

The flyer friendliness of this look is as over as their friendship. In fact, Kim has probably gotten rid of this tracksuit (anything to forget the days before she graced the cover of Vogue) and that Louis Vuitton bag. It was a “best friend bag” with Paris (see the second picture on this Buzzfeed list).

Ah, I digress. Anyway, when it comes to traveling, deciding on what to wear to the airport can be harder than figuring out every outfit in your suitcase combined. No fear though, I’m here with the perfect pieces to take that flight!

Juicy Couture inspired airplane outfit
Product Information: TankPantsCardiganBagShoesSocksSunglassesEarringsNecklace, Book, Drink Tumbler

The loose-fitting bottoms and tank are comfortable, breathable, and look stylish – the perfect start. Now, you’ll need to wear socks (two words: airport security), and that means finding shoes that will allow this. I love wearing boots at the airport because they are sturdy, comfy, and good for walking.

The black hue of the boots looks sleek, as does this roomy bag. These pieces also add a bit of professionalism to an otherwise fun and relaxed outfit. The cardigan is a must because the airplane will be cold (you’ll also appreciate those socks!) and the airport probably will be, too. Style-wise, this cardigan adds dimension with the different threading: some matches the black pieces, but the blue and gray play against the pants – it even sort of resembles the sky.

Back at security, you won’t have to remove stud earrings, and these are fabulous anyways, so wear them. You will have to remove necklaces though, but long chain styles can just be slid off the top of your head and back on after you are “all clear.” The little details make an outfit, and this airplane necklace looks chic but also adds a touch of whimsy to your look. Don’t forget a pair of aviators because, again, they make such a statement, plus you’ll need them anyway to look out the airplane windows during daytime flights.

As someone who travels a lot, I have an important tip to share: bring an empty drink tumbler. You can take it through security – make it a large one – and then fill it up on the other side. Airplanes are very low in humidity and that dryness can destroy your body, so you need all the water you can get!

My other piece of advice? Make real use of the time in-flight and read a book. My suggestion this time: #GIRLBOSS by the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso – you’ll appreciate the advice and edge.

Yoga

When it comes to intensive yoga classes or those designed to make you break a sweat (think Bikram – oh, so hot in there – or others that are deviations of this style), there is plenty of cute yet practical workout gear out there.

For restorative or relaxation yoga, though, Juicy Couture tracksuits would have been more suited to keeping your body feeling soft and warm. But since those are no longer an option, the look below is ideal for an upcoming yoga class.

The Answer:

Juicy Couture inspired yoga look
Product Information: CamiPantsSweatshirt, Gym Bag, Mat CarrierShoesHair TiesNail PolishTowelettesBlanket

Most diehard yogis love black yoga pants because they hide sweat during vigorous sessions. However, for a more low-key yoga class, we say expand your horizons by opting for colored bottoms. (Psychologically, shades of green promote relaxation.) The sweatshirt is French terry cloth – can’t get much more comfortable than that – with embellished zipper detailing, and is also 50% off! Of course, put an athletic cami underneath and bring hair ties.

Even though you do not wear shoes to practice yoga, still consider the pair you come and go in. Sport sandals are in, and the pair pictured here are actually made from – get this – yoga mat material, which will get you in that yoga mindset before you start.

Don’t forget your bag either! Catwalk into the yoga studio with a sleek mat carrier and a matching gym bag. In the bag, always have a blanket (it is really recommended for restorative yoga and, also, shavasana) and yoga towelettes – I can’t live without these, they are great for relaxing during mediation.

Never forget the details, and since yoga puts you in some awkward positions where you will be forced to catch sight of your hands at weirder angles, make sure you are not distracted by them in the wrong way. Always, have your nails manicured. I really like this fun nail polish color from OPI’s Brazil collection called “Red Hot Rio!”

Tell me what you think:

How did you react to the news about Juicy Couture? What did you think were some positives of the brand in its heyday? Did you own one – or, maybe many – of  the tracksuits? What did you think of these outfits? Would you wear any of these looks?

Are there any special events or occasions you would like to see covered in “What Should I Wear…?!”? Let me know in the comments!

Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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