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Fashion Inspired By Art: Tosa Mitsuoki’s “Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maple with Poem Slips”

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Do you guys ever feel like you get stuck in a fashion rut? Like, you’re either so insanely busy that you don’t have time to put together outfits, or you just get to a place in your life where it’s exhausting to wear anything but your favorite slubby cardigan? Or even when you become so familiar with what’s in your closet it all seems so…’meh’?

At the start of the school year, we get so caught up in the excitement of moving in, starting classes and having perfect outfits the first week. However, the next week we get SLAMMED with classwork, reading, extracurricular responsibilities and sports, and that excitement fades pretty darn quickly. When you’re so stressed and busy in college, it can feel like the last thing you have time to think about is what you’re wearing.

Yet, for those of us who are regulars here at CF, fashion and personal style is pretty important to us! So how do you power through that fashion rut?

In this installment of Fashion Inspired by Art, I’m going to show you how: by updating your favorite familiar outfit formulas with sparkly, trendy metallic pieces. We’re using Tosa Mitsuoki’s diptych of folding screens, “Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maple with Poem Slips,” as our inspiration:

Tosa Mitsuoki's "Autumn Maples and Flowering Cherry with Poem slips" (c. 1650s) via Wikimedia Commons
Tosa Mitsuoki’s “Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maple with Poem Slips” via Wikimedia Commons. (Click to enlarge.)

About Tosa Mitsuoki

Tosa Mitsuoki, born in 1617 at the very beginning of the Edo era, was the son of painter Tosa Mitsunori, and one of many in the long line of his family to head the Tosa school of painting in Japan. In 1654, Tosa Mitsuoki was appointed the head of the court painting bureau, effectively unseating the rival Kano school as the favored style of painting in Japan.

At this point in the Edo period, the aristocratic class sought to revive the art-rich culture of the Heian period, and began hosting seasonal poetry meetings, where participants wrote poems on thin slips of paper underneath a blooming cherry tree in spring or a changing maple in the fall. These poem slips were then attached to the trees in an artistic ritual similar to the offerings made to Shinto and Buddhist gods.

This set of painted screens, which depicts and celebrates these transient, poetic meetings, was either commissioned by or given as a gift to an imperial consort named Tofukumon-in. Unlike the Chinese-inspired black-and-white stylings of the Kano school, these screens use not only vibrant colors like reds, burgundies and jade greens, but also gold leaf and silver powder to add dimension and luxury to the artwork. This technique would later be used by 20th century artists, such as Gustav Klimt.

Outfits Inspired by “Flowering Cherry and Autumn Maple with Poem Slips”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Asian art – particularly Japanese art – but I feel like I hit my saturation point with it very quickly. A lot of the same mediums, themes, and compositions have been used over and over for centuries (this is due to the way it’s taught, as teachers directly pass down techniques and styles to their student.)

And yet…this piece in particular stood out because of one additional detail: the metallic element. It’s a good illustration (lol, art puns) of how one additional detail can elevate a simple, formulaic outfit to something stylish and noteworthy.

Cardigan + Jeggings + T-Shirt

Fashion inspired by art jeggings, cardigan, graphic tee, metallic oxfords
Jeggings, Cardigan, T-Shirt, Brogues, Headband, Nail Polish

Let’s start with our dear, dear friends jeggings and cardi. True, they were always there for me when I needed them on those Fridays I was hungover and late for my 8am class, but lets be real – they’re not the most exciting thing you could be wearing, are they?

Amp up this tried-and-true combo by adding a glitzy pair of gilded brogues. The menswear shape plays nicely with the slouchy boyfriend cardi, while the light gold color and lace-like details add a whimsical, girly touch.

The studded headband adds another complementary gold element, while the graphic t-shirt has a wry, self-aware, feminine edge. Finish with a minty jade color on your nails to emulate the natural but unexpected color combo on the painting.

Cardigan + Dress + Boots

Fashion inspired by art white maxi dress, duster, and ankle boots
Dress, Backpack, Boots, Bracelet, Duster

I am very, very guilty of this combo, too. IT’S SO EASY. Especially when you own like, 20 pairs of black boots. But who needs black boots when you can have that backpack(!!!). You can be your very own Jenna Marbles.

To mix it up with this combo, swap your average floral sundress and grandpa cardi for a white maxi dress and a floor length duster. Grab a fabulous metallic bag, like this avant-garde yet functional backpack. The silver bangle and the buckles on the moto boots riff off the bag nicely, but if you’re into mixing metals, go for it. If you’re not into wearing backpacks around campus, you can always opt for a cute satchel or purse.

Cropped Shirt + High-Waisted Skirt

Fashion inspired by art cropped sweater, gold midi skirt, flats
Bag, Sweater, Skirt, Earrings, Flats

This sophisticated and stylish update will take you from your marketing presentation straight to your on-campus internship. The deep gold pleated midi skirt is the star here, so – especially if you plan to wear this look to work – let your top be neutral and simple, like a quilted cropped sweater. The d’orsay flats add a slight touch of glimmer to mirror the skirt.

Finish the ensemble with jewel-toned accessories, like these jade studs and oxblood crossbody bag, to add a little color to the outfit. If you wanted to be really sophisticated, you could wear comfy black heels, or edge things up a bit with sleek black moto boots.

Jacket + Skirt + Booties

Fashion inspired by art metallic biker jacket, floral skort, red wedge boots
Jacket, T-Shirt, Lip Tar and Nail Polish (both in “Black Metal Dahlia”), Booties, Skort, Earrings

I don’t know about you guys, but when I was in my ruttiest of fashion ruts, I even had a go-to formula for my going-out ensembles – namely, a bustier top, a bandage skirt, and a leather jacket. But I would try to update those pieces with little trendy touches, like a velvet skirt one night and a denim bustier another.

The idea is similar here: you’ll stand out in a sea of black leather jackets with this gorge rose-gold moto jacket. Add a simple t-shirt that you can (maybe) spill on, booties that are comfy enough to walk in after a couple of hours out, a skort that you can dance your butt off in without showing your actual butt, and low-key jewelry.

The matching metallic nails and lip color aren’t necessary, but do provide some extra sass and edge to your look and make for great selfies with your girlfriends.

Final Thoughts:

Just for clarification – I don’t hate outfit formulas! On the contrary, I think they’re wonderful tools that helped make my life way, way easier when I was a busy undergrad. I know from experience, though, that it’s very easy to rely on them too much and forget what makes great outfits great: unexpected elements and interesting details!

Like all great works of art, outfits should bring a little something new to the table – something that is not only interesting for the viewer, but helps the wearer express their individuality. I used metallic elements as an example because it fit with the artwork I showed you today, but this could be anything – pyramid studs, varsity elements, fringe, even a signature beauty look, like milkmaid braids or fuchsia lips.

Find the little touches you like and the trends that speak to you, and everything else will come together.

What do you think?

How do you feel about Tosa Mitsuoki’s dipdytch? How would you style metallics to fit your wardrobe? What are your go-to outfit formulas during the school year? What art would you like to see featured in this column? Let me know in the comments below!

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Fashion History: Dandyism

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Honoré daumier dandy
Spent all day looking at art (by Daumier) | Image: Wikimedia Commons

The author of the poem “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” got it all wrong: any self-respecting dandy would agree that liquor trumps candy when it comes to “dandiness.” So does sartorial elegance, quick-witted banter, and quoting “The Flowers of Evil”, probably.

But the elusive images of exclusive gentlemen clubs, smoky salons, and top hats hide, or at least disguise, the true definition of a dandy. Let us then embark on the noble quest of defining, identifying, and maybe seeking out the modern version of such a rare breed. Who were or even are dandies? On whose side are they?

The Birth of a Myth

Finding out the origins of the heroes of our quest requires a brief time travel to London in the late 18th century. If we’re careful to avoid the horse carriages, we may be lucky enough to make Sir Beau Brummell’s acquaintance, and he will tell us everything he knows about the topic while smoking a cigar in his decorous apartment, probably.

Dandies, he’ll sure say, never come from upper classes. Those in the ups, lords and such, think their lifestyle ordinary and, so, pay little attention to the lavish beauty of art or exquisite mastery of their cooks. They need someone from the middle class, an intelligent loner, to show them the pleasures of a beautiful life.

Dandies appeared at the crossroads of the end of aristocracy and the birth of democracy. They came to define the “new” aristocracy: reminiscent of the English ideas about the perfect gentleman, yet with no blue blood to back it up. Dandyism is a cult of a person, not background. If you’re more amusing than the prince, who cares if your father is merely a politician, am I right? (Brummell is smirking, probably.)

The Dandy Evolution

“Dandyism is the aesthetic form of nihilism.” – Jean Baudrillard

After Beau hints that it is time for you to leave (as it is time for his boots to be polished with champagne), don’t ask amateur questions: a proper dandy is always an eccentric myth. They could be guest lecturers in any Public Relations class. Dandyism is a flirtatious relationship with the public: the right amount of societal scandal or juicy rumors keep the passion alive.

Oscar Wilde gave actress Lillie Langtry a lily every day – as a play on her name – and didn’t get offended at the papers for calling him foolish. He knew the Gossip Girl motto before it was the Gossip Girl motto: you’re no one until you’re talked about.

We’re leaving Brummell’s apartment to pay a visit to 19th century Paris, where the “second wave” of dandyism occurred, and invited Baudelaire to be our guide. Closer to bohemian ideas, Parisian dandies made beauty and art, rather than manners into a cult. Vulgarity was the enemy and simplicity the ultimate sophistication. The Baudelairian dandy is too narcissistic to ever fall in love with another person. He’s too busy reading Byron or turning his life into art.

Oscar Wilde
“Gave a lily a day. Still friendzoned. Not bitter. I’m awesome.” – Oscar, probably | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The third and final stage of dandyism is commercial, marketable. While the original dandies valued emotional reserve and calmness, the likes of Oscar Wilde found beauty in the artificial and the exaggerated – a suffocating perfume or flamboyant colors.

Susan Sontag describes this as a phenomenon called “Camp:” a show of coded messages for the “knowing” crowd and carnival masks that have on/off modes. This ironic stage of dandyism then dissipated into the sweet monstrousness of decadence.

On Gender and Fashion

Dandies were obsessed with “the other.” Everything French was considered most fashionable in England and, of course, vice versa. Mr. Wilde called his infamous infatuation with Lord Alfred a consequence of his love for paradoxes applied to the world of emotions. The paradoxes of gender have always been an essential part of dandyism.

A man spending five hours daily on his appearance seems feminine, while dandy women have always preferred masculine clothes. “The most womanly woman,” (according to Musset), George Sand, dressed in drag to go on fashionable (at the time) strolls around Paris without attracting unwanted attention.

Elle Coco Chanel
“Orange is the new nothing. Black is the new black.” – Coco, probably | Photo: ELLE

Coco Chanel, the dandiest woman of the fashion world (according, well, to me), was inspired by traditional English gentlemen costumes and the dandyism principle of “conspicuous inconspicuousness.” She advised her clients to “dress like their maids” and changed the meaning of black from mourning to chic.

Chanel was also the first one to accidentally set a trend. After a geyser explosion, she had to cut her slightly-burnt hair short, which caused a heated discussion at the opera and hundreds of haircuts. Like a true dandy, she valued an air of carelessness and comfort in fashion.

Oscar Wilde, too, took part in fashion revolutions. In contrast to Coco, he liked purple, gold, and ornamental details, but the general principle of “functional chic” still stands: he actively supported Dress Reform, an 1880 women’s movement against corsets and high heels.

Throughout history dandies have pioneered many fashion trends and movements – changing tastes from impeccable simplicity to much-discussed eccentricity and back again – but their fashion has always been just another aspect of the personality cult.

Spot the Dandy

So, where is (s)he, the modern dandy? Maybe what’s left is a Halloween costume idea, an anachronism, a dream, a joke? Maybe we can find only pieces of the image, or read fashionable novels to recreate the pseudo-good old days of dandy clubs and narcissistic romance.

Instagram shot
Sadly, life is not just chocolate, traveling and feminism.

Or, could it be that dandies are all around us? Those who wear ideas pulled right from the runways or their imaginations, who turn their whole life into a piece of art in an Instagram-mosaic of only the dandiest pieces.

The emotional walls and self-admiration in selfies, the cult of beauty, the cult of vulgarity, exaggeration, masks, Camps, gender benders, and more personal blogs than people on the planet. Dandyism is in full swing. Yet no one is the audience.

Thoughts?

Who is the modern dandy? Are you one (even slightly)? Is modern dandyism going to end in decadence as well? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Looks on Campus: Alexandra – College of Southern Nevada

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been attending the Bates Dance Festival at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. It’s been an incredible experience and I’ve met so many talented dancers. People from across the globe attend this event, so I’ve been able to scope out unique and graceful dancers who also have an inspiring sense of style.

I saw Alexandra while leaving the dining hall during the festival, and her outfit was on point. The combination of her interesting black dress and colorful hat immediately caught my eye.

Alexandra 101

Street style at the college of southern nevada

Name: Alexandra

Major: Dance

Year: Senior

University: College of Southern Nevada

Let’s Talk Fashion

Who or what inspires your style? “Young Whitney Houston, most definitely!”

Where do you like to shop? “I like thrift shops and yard sales mostly.”

How would you describe your sense of style? “I would say it’s a mix of vintage and Hollywood.”

Why did you choose this particular outfit? “Because [this dress] was the most comfortable thing in my room. I chose my hat because my hair wasn’t up to par, so I threw on this beanie.”

What fashion advice would you give to other students looking to improve their style? “I would say: don’t think about it too much, if it works for you then it’s perfect, and if you want to add extra flair, add an accessory!”

What are your favorite trends right now? “Natural hair and Orange Is the New Black!”

Do you have any favorite fashion designers? If so, who? “I do; I like Coco Chanel because she has good quotes. I also like McQueen because he’s really creative. I enjoy St. John’s because it’s very timeless.”

What do you do for fun-do you have any unique hobbies or interests? “Singing [and] step. I used to be on a step team. And poetry.”

If you could raid anyone’s closet, who would be and why? “It would be Carrie from Sex and the City. I need all of her clothes today. Right now.”

Elements of Alex’s Style

1. Colorful Stand-Out Beanie

Stylish college student wearing knit beanie

The bright colors and knit texture of Alexandra’s beautiful beanie contrasted with her stark black dress in a stylish way. Ultimately, it made her dress more casual, which was ideal for an afternoon spent at a dance festival.

2. Attention-Grabbing Cutouts

Cutout dress trend at the college of southern nevada

Alexandra’s dress, from Nicki Minaj’s collection at Kmart, has unique lower back cut-outs. The trendy cut-outs not only flaunt her gorgeous shape, but they really upgraded her classic LBD and turned it into something cool and edgy.

What do you think of Alexandra’s unique LBD?

Did she nail the casual summertime look? What do you think about her knit beanie? Do you ever rock cut-outs? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Runway Looks for Less: 3.1 Phillip Lim Resort 2014

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3.1 Phillip Lim Resort 2014
3.1 Phillip Lim Resort 2014 | ELLE

3.1 Phillip Lim’s Resort 2014 collection featured its signature oversized silhouettes combined with tailored features and cool pops of color. With lighter, brighter hues that are perfect for warmer weather, quirky topless floppy sunhats, and the introduction of a backpack version of the trademark Pashli bag, Lim put forth looks that are fashion-forward, wearable, and incredibly fun.

Are you in absolute love with Lim’s fabulous collection, but are balking at the price tag? Keep reading for three budget-friendly outfits inspired by Phillip Lim Resort 2014:

1. Oversized Structure

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 look 1
Photo: ELLE

This first look is the perfect example of how to combine oversized, borrowed-from-the-boys silhouettes and structured pieces. The cool blue shorts are loose yet fitted, while the blazer is both casual and office-ready. The printed flats and orange clutch add a touch of fun to an otherwise basic outfit.

Get the Look:

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 blue shorts and tan blazer
Product Info: Shorts- ASOS, Top- H&M, Blazer- Forever 21, Shoes- NastyGal, Clutch- ASOS, Sunglasses- Forever 21

Recreate this ensemble with a pair of light blue shorts that are flowy but flattering. Combine these shorts with a white t-shirt and an oversized beige blazer. Continue channeling the original look with an orange clutch that has zipper details, as well as round sunglasses and a pair of patterned loafers.

2. Orange You In Love?

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 look 2
Photo: ELLE

Orange was a reoccurring color in Lim’s Resort 2014 collection. While the first outfit incorporated just a dash of the hue, this ensemble centered around the gorgeous orange skirt. By pairing this strong color with an equally rich dark purple top, the resulting outfit is incredibly bold and fashion-forward.

Get the Look:

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 orange skirt and colorblocked jacket
Product Info: Skirt- NastyGal, Top- Express, Jacket- Windsor, Shoes- Go Jane, Eyebrow Pencil- Target

Start by pairing a pleated orange mini skirt with a deep purple top. Slip a black-and-white color-blocked jacket on over the blouse and add some classic-looking strappy white heels. Define and shape your brows á la model with an easy-to-use eyebrow pencil.

3. Summertime Chic

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 look 3
Photo: ELLE

This outfit is my personal favorite from Lim’s resort collection. Not only does it featured the chic combination of black and white, but it upgrades that classic look with both edgy components (just look at that leather detail!) and unconventional ones (like that envy-worthy floppy hat).

Get the Look:

3.1 Phillip Lim resort 2014 black and white outfit
Product Info: Top- H&M, Romper- Forever 21, Shoes- Go Jane, Hat- Free People, Bracelets- Forever 21

Slip on a white tee with rolled sleeves under a black romper that has edgy details; for this recreation, we chose zippers over leather. Incorporate a black floppy hat and metallic ankle-strap heels. Finish the look with silver bangles for a bit of bling. We think this outfit would be perfect for a brunch date!

Your Thoughts?

What were your thoughts on this collection? Were you guys inspired by these stunning outfits by Phillip Lim? Which of these is your favorite? Would you wear any of them? Remember to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, along with any designers you’d like to see in the next few weeks!

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