Friday, May 29, 2009

Xtabay Introduces Bridal Collection by Sonia Kasparian

We are so excited to annouce the arrival of Portland designer Sonia Kasparian's line of re-constructed wedding gowns. Each gown is one-of-a kind masterpiece, made from bits and pieces of old retired (or just plain tired) wedding gowns and cocktail dresses. Aren't they just the dreamiest things ever?

Dip-dyed wedding gown by Urchin 785. available exclusively at Xtabay.

Chocolate silk satin cocktail dress by Urchin 455. available at Xtabay.

Lavander mist dip-dyed wedding gown by Urchin 998. available at Xtabay.

Sonia's line is also available at Flutter on Mississippi. Contact Xtabay for more information at 503 230 2899.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Lady

Michelle Obama has been getting a lot of press for her strong, simple silhouettes and basic colors. We like her style. We like how she dresses to reflect the strong, independent, modern woman that she is. But Michelle reflects the style of another First Lady we admire: Jackie Kennedy.

Jackie Kennedy also wore strong and deceptively simple clothing. Like Michelle, she dressed to flatter a slender but boyish figure. She bent the fashions of the times to work best with her body. That's what real style is.

A study of Jackie's clothing shows demure necklines, short sleeves, and sheath dresses that started from her broad shoulders and skimmed her slender hips. The Jackie suits that she made famous were cut with a narrow angle between the armpit and waist to disguise a darling but unfashionably boyish waist. Her jewel neck suit jackets and tops wouldn't have flattered a busty woman, but they showcased her elegant figure. The strong colors and simple patterns she wore attracted attention without being distracting. She was all about cut and quality, like a Brancusi sculpture, or the best diamonds.

Michelle Obama's style reflects some of this sensibility, although with a more "of the people" attitude. I'm not sure we would have caught Jackie redhanded at J. Crew, and it was only reluctantly that she renounced her favorite French designers (but hired American Oleg Cassini to copy the best of their creations). Michelle, on the other hand, publicly scoffs fancy designer duds, but hides her multi-hundred dollar sports-style shoes in the closet. It all adds up to the same thing, really: they're both women who have the confidence to dress to suit themselves despite the watchful public eye.

For a woman with more of the Italian-styled slender hips but not too much of a waist or bust, Jackie's early- to mid-1960s style is perfect. The Xtabay has a treasure trove of cocktail dresses and suits right now that Jackie would have loved. Fabrics with a real hand, like raw silk and brocade, and in lipstick pink, peony green, and radiant black reflect Jackie's style, especially when made into sleeveless cocktail dresses with necklines begging for bold necklaces. Add a structured black patent bag and a low-heeled pump, and you are the picture of mod elegance. Come into the store, and we'll tell you if you're a good candidate for a Jackie, or if you'd be better off styling yourself after Marilyn.

Michelle might do well to take a page from Jackie's book. Who knows? Maybe she has. We've heard lots of talk about Camelot from the Obamas. A few more fancy dress receptions for foreign dignitaries and we'll know for sure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What to Wear on the Road

Packing for a trip--especially to a big city--can be rough. What can you wear that is comfortable and stylish? That won't cost you an arm and a leg? That won't make you feel like a rube? You know the answer: vintage.

Let's pretend for a moment that you don't know about vintage clothes (don't worry, it's just a game) and you are packing for a trip to New York City. You open your closet and stare at its contents, your suitcase open on the bed. What should you pack?

You could pack that darling BCBG dress you bought at the mall last summer. No, surely everyone will see that it's mall wear and a cheap imitation of everything chic they picked up at the Barney's Co-op. And how about your purse? You spent a pretty penny on it down at the Coach store. You can hear their laughter now. "Coach store?" they'll roar on the subways. "That's it? A lousy Coach purse? I have the latest Dior bag right here!" 

Let's not even get started on shoes. I once heard two women dissing people who wore Christian Louboutin shoes because Manolos were so much superior. It was all I could do to point to my feet and say, "Check out these. Green patent and suede stilettos with a fetching button detail. Henry Waters 'Shoes of Consequence', and you'll never have them." Yep, vintage, and they cost me all of $12.99.

Clearly, it's no use competing with women in New York or Paris or Berlin. Instead, the best plan is to forge ahead with your own style and dress vintage. I recently spent five days in New York. I brought four 1950s cotton dresses and one 1940s dress, a 1940s rayon nightgown and dressing gown, a 1960s embroidered cardigan, and a 1940s chocolate brown suit jacket with passementarie trim for when it was cooler. I kicked butt. Crammed on an elevator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the elevator operator surveyed me and a scrubbed family and asked the family where they were from. Then he looked at me and said, "But you're a local." In my Xtabay-purchased blue cotton dress with its deep neckline and shawl collar I was better than local. I was one of a kind: Vintage.