Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Quality Debate

Disclaimer: I wrote this a while back and never published it. Now, the election season is nearing it's climactic end, and the country is in a financial crisis. I figured I'd still post it anyway, after having spent so much time writing it (please forgive my dated references).

The race for the presidency is under way. The future of our lives and the rest of the United States of America all depends on these next few months. As each candidate begins vying for our support, we're exposed to a barrage of advertisements on television, a wealth of interviews on popular news programs, a plethora of signs posted in neighbors' lawns, and quite a few televised debates -- all designed to help us make an educated decision on who to vote for.

But I'm not a political person by any means, and hopefully you haven't stopped reading. This isn't an article about who to vote for. But it's all the talk about these debates that reminds me of a debate I've been a part of one too many times. Cheap vs. Premium clothes/labels.

I am sure there has been a time in each of our lives when we shopped at a 'discount' store (K-mart, anyone?), buying a Mickey Mouse shirt or light-up Power Ranger shoes with velcro straps. Many of us grow and look back at those bargain stores with an expression of utter disgust. It seems, once you've grown out of the K-mart phase, you move onto bigger and better - Old Navy, the Gap, American Eagle, etc. You grow a bit more, and foray into the United Colors of Benetton, J Crew, and Armani Exchange, spending a little more money for a bit more style. Eventually, you find yourself at Neiman Marcus, trying on a pair of $350 Rock and Republic jeans, pushing yourself further into fashion-related-debt.

So here's the question: Should you continue purchasing cheaper, mass produced clothing from mainstream stores and labels, or should you spend much more for stylish, better made clothing from upscale stores and boutiques? Are upscale boutiques simply a status symbol?

Instinctively, I say to save your money and invest in quality high end pieces. Of course, there are rules. Don't splurge on anything particularly trendy. A floral suit from Balenciaga's Spring 2008 collection may be "the look," but in six months, when that suit looks dated, you will have wished you had spent that money on, say, a Burberry trench coat, which will surely last you for several years. Even I will agree that spending high amounts of money on trend items is wasteful. Stick to classic colors, lines, and fabrics, and you will not simply have made a purchase, you will have made an investment. A personal example: I purchased a pair of Rayban aviators three years ago -- a classic in every sense of the word. I still wear them on a regular basis. A little over a year ago, I purchased a pair of Dior sunglasses - white, with a large blue "Dior" splashed across the temples. I rarely ever take these sunglasses out of hiding because they call for too much attention. They may have looked amazing when I first got them, but they were too trendy. And what do you know? I paid much more for the Dior pair than the Raybans.

But back to the question. I do understand why people would be opposed to high end clothing. It seems like a frivolous expensive for a flashy lifestyle. I have met more than enough people in my life who completely oppose spending 'too much' money on clothes, regardless of how amazing the clothes in question may be. I completely understand that a starving college student doesn't always have the freedom to spend $700 on that new pair of Louboutins at Cusp, especially when they can barely afford a tank of gas. But I feel like if you can afford it, why not? In all honesty, I don't always spend much on the clothes that I wear, but people assume that I do simply because of the [classic] high-end pieces that I've saved up for. A pair of skinny Levis, a top from Forever 21, and accessories from H&M that all add up to about $60 dollars can look like they cost an arm and a leg when paired with a Marc Jacobs bag, or a Chanel slingback. Of course, you'll be saving up for a couple months to even consider affording these things, but it'll pay off in the end.

I still shop at "cheap" stores. Target is one of my favorite places to shop for basics, for example. And the last four pairs of jeans I've purchased have all been from Levis! You can't go wrong with those stores!! I know the majority of our readers aren't going to be able to go out to Saks to pick up the latest "it" piece. But I don't think that's any reason to criticize people who can.

I'd love to hear what our readers feel about designer vs. mass produced clothing. What's your stand?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scent-sational: June 2008

To be quite honest, as time has passed, my love for designer fragrances has grown exponentially. I place all the blame on a certain friend of mine who will remain nameless. If you haven't yet explored the world of fragrances, I suggest you take a look. I was browsing the selection at my local Nordstrom, and the manager of the fragrance department began asking me questions about my preferences, and paired me up with the perfect fragrances. When I had made my decision, she told me actual history about the perfumer who designed it, the notes within, and even interesting information about the bottle itself. I am just a lightweight, but hopefully as time goes on, my collection of fragrances will grow to match my collection of sunglasses, scarves, etc. It would have been nice to have this post up before Father's day, as they would have made fine gifts, but better late than never.

So, on to the fragrance department. Any lover of fashion can pick out the best fashion houses in the world. Of course Dior, Chanel, and Balenciaga come to mind, but it's Hermès that really puts class and utter luxury in the fashion game today. I'm sure we've all heard of the elusive Birkin and Kelly bags, and many of us would give our right arm to snag one -- but until we can save up a couple thousand dollars and get our names on that waitlist, we'll have to work with what we've got. Hermès fragrances are amazing, and an easy way to had the Hermès lifestyle to your own life, at a fraction of the cost.

Eau d'Orange Verte: This was my first Hermès fragrance purchase. I much prefer citrus fragrances to more woodsy ones -- even in the wintertime! And Eau d'Orange ("orange" should have given it away) is no exception. The citrus notes really shine through in this one. It's quite light, and fades a bit too quickly for my personal tastes, but I've begun layering it with Terre d'Hermès, so it lasts a bit longer. Searching around on Basenotes, I've found that the general consensus is positive for Eau d'Orange Verte. And it's unisex, so you can get one to share with your lover, brother, sister, daddy, mama, etc.

Terre d'Hermès: Two weeks after purchasing Eau d'Orange Verte, I ran back to the mall to purchase another. I was hooked on Hermès, and just couldn't get enough. I'm going to be honest for a second, and say that when I first smelled Terre d'Hermès (on one of those paper test strips), I was completely turned off. But that orange "H" pulled me in! I sprayed a bit on my wrist, and let it sit for a while. While I didn't buy it that day at the store, I spent pretty much the rest of that entire day sniffing my wrist because it smelled so good! Now Smell This describes it as follows: The vegetable and mineral juice, made without animal by-products or musk, sparkles with orange (specifically formulated for Hermès by Albert Vieille) and grapefruit that blends with flint for a mineral note, and combines with pepper, bay rose, geranium, patchouli, benzoin and vetiver around the central note of Atlas cedar to enhance its Earthly tones. My citrus fragrance loving self couldn't get enough of this. There is a definite grapefruit/mango scent that comes through, with a strong prevalence of orange. It came as no surprise to me to find out that the Fragrance Foundation awarded Terre d'Hermès as the best Luxe men's fragrance in 2007. But aside from the delicious scent itself, there is so much history behind this one fragrance. It was designed by famed Hermès perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, and the bottle itself was meant to portray a combination of the elements. Escentual aptly describes Terre d'Hermès as being "for the man who has his feet firmly on the ground, but his head is in the stars." I couldn't agree more!

For more information, visit: 1 2 3 4

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Brief Update

To the few who have stuck with us,

We are incredibly sorry for the delay in postings! We know we said we'd resume posting once school was over, and school has been over for nearly a month! I think my vacation time, however extended, has finally met it's end. Hopefully, we will resume regular posting very soon. We've had weeks to assess some of the latest styles and trends, and we're ready to fill you in on them!

Thanks for not giving up on us!

- Anthony & AJ

Friday, April 4, 2008

It Never Ends...

Faithful readers, we're very sorry for the delay in posting. School takes a lot out of us! We'll be back soon enough!

Until then, Style on!

-- Anthony and AJ

ETA: Don't give up on us yet!! Give us two weeks! Up and running! Back to normal!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Celeb-rate: The 2008 Oscars Red Carpet

I wish I could have come here today and reported on how happy I was to see Marion Cotillard win the Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, but alas! After a busy day of moving my sister's furniture back down from Philly, I was too late to catch the red carpet, and simply too tired to watch the ceremony. But I woke up this morning, checked the winners, and was very happy to see that Cotillard did in fact win! Congrats to her, and to all of the other winners last night!

Just now, I finished looking through the red carpet looks last night, and was overall unimpressed! Nothing really caught my eye, but this could all just be bad photography and the fact that the dresses did not photograph well. Maybe once I watch "Fashion Police," (tonight on E!) I'll change my opinions, but as of now, these are my thoughts.

My beloved Marion. After that stunning Nina Ricci dress at the SAG awards, I was expecting so much better. That being said, I thought this dress wasn't necessarily a horrible choice. She still looks amazing, like old Hollywood royalty -- which she is undoubtedly sure to be.

I haven't yet seen Atonement, but I thought this dress was worth posting. In a world where young girls look more like prostitutes with each passing second, a young girl dressed as Saoirse Ronan was last night is so refreshing. She looked age appropriate, adorable, and aside from the embroidery at the bottom of the dress, I think this was definitely a great pick for her.

Everyone calls George Clooney this generations Cary Grant. I could not agree more. His classic tux, his impeccable coiffure, his gorgeous date -- it all screams old Hollwood. Definitely one of my best picks for best dressed man -- not necessarily modern and edgy, but perfect in every sense of the word. Now, if only my hair could look that good (you'd think it's easy, but trust me, it takes forever!)

Let me just state here how much I loved Juno and Ellen Page. I think she's a gorgeous young woman, and usually her clothes are so fitting for her personality (and most of the time, without forsaking elegance or class). This dress, however, I thought was a disaster. It looked so aging on her. She should have been in something a little closer fitting, without the long string of beads on her neck, or the clutch in her hands. As much as I love her, Ellen gets a no from Anthony.

The Juno clan simply got it wrong last night. Pictured here is Diablo Cody, screenwriter for Juno. I thought the animal-print looked a little out of season and too loud for last nights festivities. The hair is entirely too dark, the lips too red, and the jewelry just didn't stand up to the dress. Finally, one can't overlook the gold flats. If you weren't aware, Stewart Weitzman offered to let her wear a pair of One Million dollar shoes to the Oscars (which he apparently does each year), and for some reason, she was offended and chose not to wear the shoes. She instead went with a Payless gold flat. How utterly disappointing. For any of you who are interested, here are the million dollar shoes.

Finally, one can't forget about the color du jour last night. It seemed as if anyone who was anyone was wearing red! I thought these red dresses (for the most part) were elegant, classy, and timeless! Good job, ladies!

Miley Cyrus. As much as I dislike this girl and her awkward red carpet smile, I will admit she looked gorgeous last night. I tried to think of a cute Hannah Montana reference, but couldn't, for which I am sorry.

This color looks amazing on Heidi Klum, but I thought it was just plain awkward. It doesn't necessarily look BAD, but personally, I wish the collar/neckpiece wasn't there, so it would look a little more classic. Sorry, Heidi, you're out! (I couldn't help myself!)

Lets just be honest. There is a little too much going on with this dress. The off the shoulder peices, the draping, the train. Combine that with the simple hair, makeup, and jewels, Anne Hathaway could have done a better job. Again, I don't necessarily hate this look, but it just looked a little messy and overworked for my tastes. Since Anne Hathaway is wearing it, however, I may let it slide.

I am just going to put it out there. I can't stand Katherine Heigl (so much that I'm not even going to check if I spelled her name right). I don't see why everyone is so infatuated with her, or why they all go on about how sweet and kind she is, when to me, she looks like she would be incredibly rude and mean in real life. Putting that aside, I thought she looked beyond amazing last night, and is probably my choice for best dressed female. Everything, from the dress to the jewels to the hair -- it was perfection. I may just have to give her a chance after seeing her in this dress. (edit: I don't think she is a bad person. She just doesn't have a friendly face to me)

So that's it! I could go on and on, adding photographs of other amazing dresses (Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner) and some not so good dresses (Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz), but I think the ones I chose were just enough to wet your palette, readers. Again, I've spared the pregnant women, cuz I understand it is difficult to dress a pregnant woman! That being said, they all looked amazing and glowy! So what do you think? Do you agree with me? What were your favorite looks, and which ones did you hate?

Photo Credits 1 2

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rave: Old Navy Spring Collection 2008

Every year, Old Navy tends to fall into a rut of winter depression. Their winter collections are cute and cozy but above all, they tend to be a bit too matronly. Don't get me wrong - I love a good cable knit sweater but when everything they offer seems to be straight from a grandmother's closet, the spring collections seem even more refreshing when it arrives.

This year's spring collection is especially eye-appealing as it is reminiscent of Missoni collections. Their bold ethnic prints and billowy designs have me extremely anxious for this summer (when it finally comes). For now, I'm going to try out these affordable but ultra-cute new fashions over tights and under cardigans.

Braided-Trim Top: $16.50

Mix-Print Henley Tank: $14.50

Safari Animal Tee: $14.50

Burnout Babydoll: $24.50

Belted Safari Jacket: $29.50

Striped Tab Shorts: $15.00

Mid-Rise Twill Shorts: $15.00

Cut-Out Strapless Dress; $34.50

Beaded Sandals: $19.50

T-Strap Sandals: $15.00

Rope Handle Tote Bag: $7.99

Wooden Handle Clutch: $19.50

Ivory Bangle: $6.65

Hexagonal Bangle: $6.65

Classic Aviator: $9.50

As you can see, your spring wardrobe can be considerably updated with the purchase of these "jungle explorer/safari fanatic" items. Head over to your closest Old Navy and get yourself stocked up before spring is here to stay.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Class, Work, Class, Work...

Goodness! Classes resumed, and so did our busy schedules!

The Lounge will be taking a week-long break to re-energize! (But check back on Friday for our February Spotlight!)
See you next week!

ETA: This break looks like it'll take a bit longer than we expected! But keep checking back to see when we've updated!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Linen Lounge Spotlight: Etro

"The New Tradition"

Established in 1968, Gimmo Etro launched his own textile company. Etro produced the finest fabrics with elaborate designs in bright chic colors. Etro quickly became known for their fabrics, made with the utmost attention to detail and remarkable use of color. In 1981, the paisley collection made a definite impression on the fashion world, and the paisley print became synonymous with the Etro brand. Eventually, the brand had expanded from a simple textile company -- they began making ties, scarves, shawls, luggage, handbags, etc. By the late 80s, Etro had grown considerably. Etro was a full-blown fashion powerhouse, with a successful line of luxury fabrics, accessories, home accents, fragrances, and a booming ready-to-wear line for both men and women. In 1994, Etro saw it's first runway collection, by '98, the brand debuted a collection of eye wear. By the 2000s, Etro had become a fashion front-runner, with several stores throughout the world, and international fame -- with boutiques in Italy, London, Japan, New York, Honk Kong, just to name a few. The Etro brand combines the most articulate craftsmanship with an amazing attention to detail and fabric selection, which even today keeps the brand at the height of fashion.

Etro Enters the New Millenium

During the 1990s, the Etro label was rejuvenated through the eyes of Kean and Veronica Etro (son and daughter of Gimmo Etro). Kean designs the men's collections for the brand, while Veronica leads the womenswear collections. It is through their scrupulous direction that the brand has continued to thrive into the next decade.

Etro Fall 2007 RTW Collection

The Linen Lounge & Our Views on Etro

To be quite honest, we at the Linen Lounge did not realize just how amazing Etro was until fairly recently. While looking for photographs to include in other posts, we happened to check out the Etro collection, only to be amazed by what we saw! Odd color selections that we would never put together not only look amazing on the Etro runway, but look unbelievably classy -- a difficult feat that I'm sure many other designers would love to achieve. The Linen Lounge loves Etro, and can't wait to see what they have planned for future collections (and we'll be the first to bring the best of show to our loyal readers!)!

"If you see something you like, it doesn’t matter whether it’s out of fashion. I’ve bought things when they were out of style and I was very proud to wear them. If you like foie gras, you wouldn’t not eat it because it’s out of fashion."
- Kean Etro

Sources & Photo Credits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

AJ's Essentials: John Mayer

It was a cold winter day when I was first introduced to musician John Mayer during a car ride. Since then, most people refer to me as "that John Mayer girl," and quite honestly, I'm perfectly okay with having people think of me on hearing his name. There's just something about the way John strums his guitar while meaningfully crooning his lyrics that made me choose him for our first installment of the Essentials section.

Why do I love him? Well, for starters, there's his amazing guitar abilities that embellish all of his songs. And then, there's his voice - so versatile that it can help you fall asleep with some songs, and keep you up all night on others. Of course, that can't go without mentioning his meaningful lyrics which are sensitive from afar and filled with emotion when you listen carefully. Okay, okay, so I'm a little obsessed - but who wouldn't be? I mean, aside from his music, it doesn't hurt that he has an amazing sense of humor which you can see if you YouTube any of his interviews or his off-the-air TV show, John Mayer Has A TV Show.

Did I mention that he is also the most beautiful specimen I have ever seen? You're probably checking the title of this post right about now and making sure that it is, in fact, Essentials and not OBSESSION. I'd just like to call it devotion.

Anyways, don't take my word for it - check out his songs on your own. Picking out my favorite song would be like picking a favorite designer, but right now, I'm really into Another Kind Of Green off of the Try! album. And that's another thing I adore about good ol' John Mayer (as if I needed another reason) - his lyrics can have different meanings for every individual at different points of time. Upon listening to Bigger Than My Body, I would have a different reaction today than I would have had five years ago when I first heard it, and the meaning I derive from it would be different than what you take away from the song. See how cool it is?

Here are some of my favorite songs off of some of his albums in case you need (and you really do NEED) to check him out:

Continuum : Vultures, Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You), Dreaming With A Broken Heart, Belief

Try! (by the John Mayer Trio) : Another Kind Of Green, I Got A Woman, Wait Until Tomorrow
Heavier Things : Clarity, Split Screen Sadness, Only Heart, Home Life

Any Given Thursday: Covered In Rain, 83, City Love

Room For Squares: St. Patrick's Day, Back To You, Neon, Why Georgia, No Such Thing

Monday, February 4, 2008

Trend Watch: "Where's the Flood?"

In the past 6 or so years that my love for fashion has flourished and grown to great heights, if you asked me what the worst fashion faux-pas was, I'd surely have said "pants that are too short!" I'd have much preferred to let my jeans drag and get a little torn up even if it meant I had to replenish my supply of denim every few months. And even now, I guess I still believe that it's better to have a pant that is too long rather than too short. But in the past few months, my views on pant length have changed greatly. This is due in part (quite a bit, actually!) to the photographs featured on a Linen Lounge favorite, The Sartorialist. As many a fashionista would know, almost everyday, the Sartorialist posts a photograph of someone he saw on the streets of New York, Paris, Milan, London (etc.), wearing a definitive style of their own. The clothes aren't necessarily fashion forward or even current, but the way they are worn, the confidence of the people wearing them, and the artistic elements of the photographs themselves are enough to provoke thought and captivate the viewer. Months ago, when I first began paying attention to the Sartorialist's works, I noticed that the men he photographed typically wore pants shorter than what I am used to. Not just suit pants, but casual pants -- jeans, even!

Anyone who knows anything about men's fashion and tailoring knows that suit pants are supposed to be short. If you haven't gotten the memo, you will understand once you see a man in a suit with pants that are too long. It looks quite awkward. But this recent shortening of pant-length seemed to me simply ridiculous. I don't think I would have even noticed shorter pant lengths on the runways if I hadn't been so detail oriented while viewing the Sartorialists photographs. I find that slowly, my disdain for cropped pants has begun to lift.

I just believe that it needs to be done with care. Shoes are most important when attempting to pull off a cropped pant - they will, after all, be exposed for the world to see. But I think the next most important thing to remember when trying to pull off a cropped pant would be a slim leg opening. A bootleg, a wide leg -- pretty much anything outside of a straight/tapered leg would look ridiculous were it not grazing the ground. Luckily, with the somewhat recent popularity of the skinny/cigarette leg, this look is easily achieved. My jeans all tend to be bootcut, so until I buy a pair of straight jeans, I won't be attempting to pull of a cropped leg, but when I do, the world better watch out!

Shorter trousers are coming fast, and soon they'll be everywhere!

This all being said, I was looking at the Bottega Venetta Fall 08 Men's collection, and it featured long, extremely wide-legged, baggy jeans and trousers, and they looked divine! I guess it's all up to you! After all, fashion is about personal style, not simply about mimicking other people!