Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Men's Style Pajamas

Princess Ann: I hate this nightgown. I hate all my nightgowns, and I hate all my underwear too.
Countess: My dear, you have lovely things.
Princess Ann: But I'm not two hundred years old. Why can't I sleep in pajamas?
Countess: Pajamas!?
Princess Ann: Just the top part. Did you know that there are people who sleep with absolutely nothing on at all?
Countess: I rejoice to say I do not.
~Roman Holiday, 1953

Someone once asked Marilyn Monroe what she wore to bed, and she famously replied, "Chanel No.5". I'd expect nothing less from a bona-fide sex goddess, but when it comes to bedtime fashion, there's nothing I like more in the world than a pair of crisp cotton men's style pajamas. Sure, a tee and boxers will do, and sometimes you want something silky and lacy, but a good set of pj's is the most versatile kind of sleepwear that money can buy. You can go from cuddling on the sofa to catching some zzz's to making breakfast the next day without having to worry about being too revealing or sloppy, or having to throw on a robe if you need to let the dog out or get the morning paper from the front steps. When I travel, the only kinds of sleepwear I'll bring along are pajamas because you never know when there might be a fire alarm that goes off in the middle of the night. Nobody wants to be caught at the Holiday Inn with their junk hanging out. Me and the Boy Scouts always like to be prepared.

The word pyjama/pajama stems from the Hindi word paejama, meaning "leg covering", and men first started wearing them around 1870 after the returning colonials brought them back from the East. In the 1890s, pyjamas were starting to replace the nightshirt for gentlemen and, by the 1930's, they had become a key part of a man's wardrobe. One of the first times that a woman was shown wearing men's pajamas in pop-culture was in a scene from the Clark Gable/Claudette Colbert film It Happened One Night, in which a spoiled runaway heiress and a hard-boiled newspaper reporter find themselves forced to share a hotel room for the night.

Peter Warne: Now just to show you my heart's in the right place, I'll give you my best pair of pajamas.
~It Happened One Night, 1934

I'm assuming that women everywhere rushed home from the theaters, immediately commandeered their husbands' cotton pj's, and went to sleep with devilish moustachioed grins on the brain.

Coco Chanel did her part to popularize pajamas as well in the 1920's, with her "lounging pajamas" that were worn while hosting parties at home in the evenings, and there was even a version designed to be worn at the beach! I couldn't find an image of real-life Chanel in pajamas, but here is Audrey Toutou doing a decent impression of her in one of my favorite movies:

~Coco Before Chanel, 2009

I've seen many fashionistas in magazines wearing pajamas as street-clothes nowadays, accessorizing their pj's with tons of jewelry and sky-high heels. I'd never do this myself (I never even wore sweatpants to class in college), but it's totally an option now for the more adventurous out there.

You can, of course, find pajamas all over the place at all different price points. My favorite places to look are TJMaxx and Marshalls, where you can pick some pj's up for as little as $14.99. A more expensive at $150 - but still affordable if you love them - option is this white-on-white striped pair from Frette, as seen on Cameron Diaz in The Holiday:

The Holiday, 2006

J.Crew also does really nice pajamas in the $75-$100 price range. I have two sets, one of which is a pair of men's pajamas (from back when they made pj sets for men) that I found at a sample sale in Baltimore when I was 16. They are green and have multi-colored billiard balls all over them, and the cuffs are fraying from years of wear and love. Right now I'm really hankering for a monogrammed set of pajamas and, for $10 extra, J.Crew will custom embroider your chosen initials on to either one of these perfect pj sets:

J.Crew Vintage Pajama Set

J.Crew Vintage Short-Sleeve Pajama Set

*Apparently lots of people like this short-sleeved set...the white pair is on backorder until August!

How about you? What is your favorite kind of sleepwear?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

J.Crew New Arrivals: Beautiful Jewelry...and Merino in June?

New online arrivals today at J.Crew! I have to say, I have been really taken with their jewelry this year, especially the necklaces (I know that RynettaPhD feels the same way, and you can see some great irl pics on her blog). I wear very little jewelry on a day-to-day basis, and I can't do the "arm party" trend since multiple stacked bracelets are too flashy and loud for my office, but these necklaces totally remind me of 1950's costume jewelry that you would find at an estate sale and could wear to special events for years. If the quality is there, I'd definitely classify these as investment pieces worth spending the money on if they catch your fancy.

Flower Lattice Necklace

This is awesome. Any plain sheath or strapless dress is immediately ready to party if you combine it with this necklace. I'd also love it if J.Crew would do a brooch in these colors!

Cabochon Fan Necklace

I saw this necklace and died. Ok, not really, but I did start drooling a little. It comes in this Spearmint color and Peach Blossom. You know where this would be gorgeous? On a bride with a very simple strapless or scoop-necked wedding dress.

Cabochon Pendant Necklace

...and all of the bridesmaids could wear this pendant version to match!

(I worked at a bridal shop for three years. Sometimes my mind just goes to "that place" automatically, I can't help it.)

Mini Ram Bangle

This little guy has been out for a few months and I luurrrrrve heem. Isn't he cute? He had a big brother that sold out really fast, unfortunately. I'd love to buy this bracelet because I'd feel like I had a little pet with me at work all day :)

Tippi Sweater in Heart Me

J.Crew had great success this past fall with their Merino Tippi sweater, and also with their wool-blend Heart Me sweater (thanks in large part to the lovely FLOTUS). They've combined the two to create the Tippi Sweater in Heart Me, and I think that it will also sell very well...IN SEPTEMBER. Seriously, it's not even July yet. Who wants to pay full price for a Merino sweater in the middle of summer??? I understand that fashion seasons don't mirror real-life seasons, but I think that most J.Crew shoppers are going to be cool with waiting until this sweater goes on sale before they buy it, simply because of the material. I seem to remember Mickey Drexler saying something to the effect of "If something ends up on the sale rack, that means that there is a flaw in the design". In this case, I think that they just should have waited until fall to introduce a wool sweater to their collection!

Now, I could be wrong. J.Crew has just started expanding into Canada and Europe, and those customers might just default to Merino as a four-season fabric for more northerly climes. Or perhaps they created a limited run of this sweater to test the waters, and will introduce more stock in the coming months. Is this the case? I guess I'll have to wait and see if all sizes end up in the sale section next month!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This Just In: J.Crew Fall/Winter 2012 Women's Collection Preview

Today in the mail, I received a little pamphlet from J.Crew showcasing their Fall/Winter 2012 Women's Collection. In general, I don't pay a lot of attention to J.Crew's Collection stuff because I'm too poor to afford any of it. Plus they tend to over-sequin their Collection items and I'm not dropping hundreds of dollars on a skirt that I can't wear to work, to the grocery store, or walking my dog, since that's pretty much the scope of my daily activities.

Well, last year they were obsessed with Little Eadie Beale, and the Collection looked like it might possibly smell of cobwebs and cat pee. This year, You'd better break out the Jell-o Pudding Pops because J.Crew seems to be basing a lot of their Collection on this guy's sartorial choices:

Dear fashion world: please stop it with the Cosby Sweaters. I mean, I loved that show as much as the rest of America did - if you had asked me as an 8-year old who I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said "A cross between Clair Huxtable and Julia Sugarbaker." - but some fashion from the 80's should stay in the 80's. I know the hipsters love this stuff, but they are buying their "authentic vintage" acrylic Cosby Sweaters from thrift shops for $4 and you are not doing anybody any favors by keeping this trend alive.

Anyway, here are some slightly blurry pics of the upcoming Women's Collection, and I've commented with few of my impressions.

No.2 = The texture of that fur looks like dog hair. Why would you wear a fur coat that makes you look like you skinned a few Cairn terriers to make it?

No.6 = "Does this hairy skirt make me look fat?" Yes, it makes everyone look fat. Except possibly Anna Wintour, so J.Crew should just present it to her as an offering along with her afternoon platter of Unicorn steak marinated in virgin tears.
No.7 = Drita from "Mob Wives" would look entirely at home in this ensemble. Just add bling and lots of eye makeup, and she's ready to visit her husband in prison.
No.8 = I would wear that (not sure about the color, though).

No.11 = I like that toggle coat in theory, but I need a coat that covers my wrists.

No.'s 12 and 13 = Pretty. I would wear both of those outfits. Am also liking the dimensions of that little melon-colored handbag in No.12.
No.14 = I don't like snakeskin prints on anything but bags and/or shoes. I guess I've just seen too many hookers on "L&O: SVU" in python mini-skirts.
No.15 = I could see Carly Simon or Sienna Miller in this look. I think it's the hat.
No.16 = What the hell is that bag?

Oh look - a hookup (No.19)! Heh. I'd split those pieces up, but aside from look No.17 (Ski chalet wedding guest?), I would wear everything pictured. In fact, I might have to rob a bank to get the money for that leather jacket in No.20.

No.24 = I need to see this dress in motion. It could go either way for me.

No.25 = This kind of works...annual Hunt Club breakfast, perhaps?
No.26 = I hate the pants and blouse together, but a simple dress in this print would be gorgeous. Maybe it's the lighting, but that jacket looks cheap to me.
No.28 = Hmm...bows. I think I'm too old for bows. Those pants are fun, though.

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree with me on some of these items? Do you see any "must haves" for your cool-weather wardrobe?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Finale

Aaaarrrgh, why can't this show be on all the time??? AMC is so stingy about their shows: short seasons with humongous gaps in between each one. Do they expect me to content myself with *shudder* NETWORK TELEVISION? TV is dead to me until "The Walking Dead" comes back in October, and I am thisclose to breaking up with that show if they don't give me a strong female character to watch (I want Lori to get eaten by zombies so, so much). Also, Season 3 of "Downton Abbey" premieres this winter (I think). I've seen pics from filming and it looks like Edith is smiling, which means that another bitter Mary/Edith showdown is inevitable. Yay.


So, let's see where all of our favorite SCDP employees and their families are left at the end of Season 5....

Don = Feeling abandoned by Megan and Peggy, bogged down by guilt after Lane's suicide and seeing hallucinations of his dead brother - another man who killed himself after being treated coldly by Don. About to start back into his old pattern of trying to drown his demons through meaningless sexual encounters.

Betty = Still a delightful mess. Trying to slim down and fit back into her perfect little clothes and perfect little life so that the world can be jealous of her again.

Megan = Through a little bit of old-fashioned backstabbing and a dash of nepotism, is finally about to get her big break into acting. Sadly unaware that she's married to a man who has fallen out of love with her because she wasn't the blank little page he thought she was.

Sally = The spawn of Don and Betty (I always forget about the boys - as will the writers until they can find more children who can actually act) is growing up, and she's inherited both her parents' master manipulation skills. Woodstock is now only two years away....

Roger = Single once more and feeling frisky.

Bert = With his company on shaky ground, he's dropped the doddering old man act to reveal a lion in winter.

Lane = Dead (poor Lane, I liked him).

Pete = Ugh, woe is Pete. Still whining about his long commute and feeling overlooked by Trudy now that her attentions are turned towards raising their daughter. Will only become more insufferable now that she has relented to his pleas for an apartment in the city.

Joan = Now a full partner at SCDP, she is stepping into Lane's shoes as "the responsible one" with the added challenge of getting the other partners to treat her as an equal instead of as a nagging housewife. Other challenges include dealing with her mother, raising her son, and trying to re-enter the dating world as a single mom and divorcee.

Peggy = I am so effing proud of Peggy. When I saw her in her office, dressing-down the copy boys in full-on Draper Style I totally shouted "Get it, gurl!" Peggy has worked hard and made some smart decisions, and now she has become the success that she set out to be from the moment she impressed Freddy Rumsen with her "basket of kisses." This being Mad Men, I'm sure that she'll have a brand new set of problems next season, but right now I'm happy to bask in her sunshine. Just look at how far she's come:

From mousy secretary... advertising Copy Chief.

Peggy Olson has really come into her own! This song was running through my head whenever Peggy was on screen, and I will flip my shit if they let her be the person who came up with "You've come a long way, baby" for those Virginia Slims.

Ta-ta for now, SCDP. Until next season!

Photos courtesy of AMC.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DiY: Hero Shirt (aka What To Do with a Holey J.Crew Tee)

I loved J.Crew's Colorblocked Stripe Tee when I bought it, but after about 4 wears and 3 washings, a bunch of holes developed along the seams beneath the arms:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

This really sucks. I had given this top up for a sleep or work shirt, but then I saw this post over on Lizzie Garrett's blog TOMBOY STYLE. Her stylist friend showed her how to make a Hero Shirt/Rocker Shirt/Shirt That My Brother Wears While Lifting Weights out of an old regular tee, and the end result looked pretty cool. I decided to follow the instructions in the blog post and see how my DiY Colorblock Hero Tee turned out, since I didn't have anything to lose if it ruined the shirt.

Not bad! I think I might even like it better than the original version with sleeves.

Side view. I tried to cut it so that my bra doesn't show. I think I'll ask the bf if he has any old tees that I can make a real Hero Shirt out of, since boys always seem to be able to wear shirts until they are perfectly faded and thin and soft.

I tried to stay as close to the seam as possible, but it's still a tiny bit uneven. The fabric curls under though, so it hides the cut.

Pretty good, actually! I think I'll wear it as much like this as I did when it had sleeves. I just hope that it doesn't disintegrate completely the next time I wash it :(