New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians: Fighting with a Needle and Thread

I moved to New Orleans from France about a year ago, and have since fallen completely in love with the city, the culture, and the people, and I just had to share these pictures and a little story about the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians.

There are 38 tribes of Mardi Gras Indians that come from all around New Orleans, including the traditionally low-income areas like the 9th Ward. The Indians spend thousands of man-hours each year hand-beading and hand sewing these incredible costumes. It takes about 9 months to complete a single suit. When they are finished, they can weigh up to 100 pounds. Then they all parade around town singing, dancing, and chanting the songs of their particular tribe. The songs typically consist of a unique mixture of African/Native American dialect and musical influence.

Here’s the crazy part…… Continue reading

Quick Tip: Easy Way to Create a More Interesting Outfit

Ever have an outfit on and you look at it and it looks fine, but also kind of boring? Or you have a great outfit, but you just can’t find the right accessories? Here’s an idea: Try adding an accessory that you expect to be completely terrible.

Most of the time…. yeah, it will look a little terrible, and you will have a good laugh. But in my experience, 1 out of 3 times, you will actually discover a combination that has just the perfect amount of “wrong-but-somehow-oh-soooooooooo-right” appeal. (Like this amazing grunge beanie/brightly colored tailored suit combo).Unexpected Combo

Bonus: It will help you stay open minded about what kinds of things can go together, and help you stay fearless about experimenting!

8 Easy Ways to Recognize And Avoid Low Quality Clothing When You See It!

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1. The seams aren’t straight or have loose threads. 

One of the fastest way to determine the quality of an item is to turn it inside out and look at the seams! If the seam has loose threads, is not straight, or appears to have been stitched over multiple times, the item is not good quality. You can also grab the fabric on either side of the seam and gently pull it apart a little. If the fabric at the seam separates, the seam is very weak and was most likely poorly sewn.

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2. The fabric is mostly synthetic or poor quality.

First step, read the fabric tag. Ideally, you would want the fabric to be mostly natural fibers (cotton, wool, angora etc.) rather than synthetic fibers (polyester, rayon, viscose etc.). There is a big drop in quality when you drop below 80% natural fiber.  Fabric with mostly natural fibers and somewhere around 1-5% synthetic fibers (particularly lycra and elasthane) is more likely to retain it’s shape without getting baggy over time. Also, viscose is one of the fastest synthetic fibers to stretch, pill, and generally fall apart. So don’t buy viscose if you want to be able to wear the item over and over.

Second step, inspect the fabric. Run your hands over it and look for flaws. Grab a section and crumple it in your hand for 10-20 seconds and then release.  If it retains tons of wrinkles, steer clear. If it retains no wrinkles at all, steer clear. Hold the fabric up to the light and stretch the fabric to see how tightly woven it is, and how much give it has. A thin low quality cotton will have lots of give and let through lots of light, in comparison to a higher quality cotton.  

3. There are no facings or interfacings. 

If there are no facings or interfacings, the item will quickly get that rumpled sad baggy look that cheap items get after a few wears. Interfacing is a strong fabric sewn in between the layers of a garment to help it hold its structure. Facing is a piece of fabric inside a garment opening, like a sleeve or neck opening, that enclose the raw edge of the fabric. Both facings and interfacings help a garment hold its shape. You especially need them on blazers and skirts/pants. There should be interfacings around the waistband, by the buttons, on the collar and shoulders, at the edge of the sleeve, and on the hem. You can see facing just by turning the item inside out, and you can tell whether there is interfacing by feeling around where it should be. Cheap clothing manufacturers will often skip facings/interfacings to save money, and the garment will look just fine on the hanger, but it will quickly become misshapen after several wears.

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4. The garment doesn’t have a lining. 

Well ok, not all articles of clothing need a lining, but the kinds that do need one really really do need it. Linings seriously prolong the life of an article of clothing by providing some slip when you put a garment on or move around in it, which minimizes stretching of the garment fabric. This keeps the fabric from getting misshapen and baggy, especially in key movement areas like the elbows, knees, and butt. Linings also protect the outer shell from sweat and skin oils. If you buy a skirt that doesn’t have a lining, you can actually accomplish the same thing by wearing a slip underneath the skirt.

5. The buttonholes are flimsy.

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Make Getting Dressed Easy – Pick a Uniform!

Ever notice how so many designers wear the same outfits over and over again?

Vera Wang

Michael Kors

Carolina Herrera

Trying to create a new and interesting outfit every single day is stressful (not to mention a huge time-suck).  But you want to dress well because it affects affects how you feel about yourself and even how well you perform at work and in life (see this article from the Washington Post). The solution to this problem is easier than you think: develop a uniform.  Great designers and fashion icons have been doing this for years because you get all the benefits of dressing well, without having to reinvent the wheel every day.  You can wear your uniform as often or a little as you like, but the point is, when you need it, it’s there for you.  Here’s what you need to know to make this work for you:

WHAT A UNIFORM SHOULD DO:  

1. It should reflect your personality and values.  When you wear it, you should feel comfortable, confident, and like yourself. 

2. It should be tailored to your every day life. If you are an attorney, it should inspire confidence and be able to make it to 10 pm without wrinkling too much.  If you are a stay at home mom, it should do absolutely everything including the dishes and never ask for a day off or a thank you. Just kidding, it should be durable, comfortable, and washable.

3. It should bolster the rest of your wardrobe. To be economical, the items in your uniform should be able to do double-duty with the rest of the items in your wardrobe.

HOW TO CREATE A UNIFORM

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Why You Should Care About Coco Chanel

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco

1. She changed the face of women’s fashion forever. Ya know how women’s fashion revolved around corsets and pouffy skirts for a thousand years? And then suddenly, in the early 1900’s, modern fashion emerged and women started wearing normal clothes? That’s Chanel.  She pioneered the modern look.  She gave us the little black dress, trousers for women, straight skirts, black toe-capped shoes, quilted leather bags, bathing suits, the striped sailor top, costume jewelry, cardigans, and the classic collarless Chanel suit.  Before her influence, women’s clothing was only sexy in so far as it created an exaggerated hourglass figure, showed off boobs, and combined as many colors, feathers, beads and baubles as a person could possibly cram on to a single dress.  Then Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, the rebellious French orphan raised by nuns (no joke, seriously), insisted that women’s clothing be simple, elegant, and above all, comfortable.  She showed that this kind of clothing could be even more beautiful because it allows a woman to act more comfortably as herself, and after all, it’s the woman that makes the dress, not the other way around. 

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” – Coco

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Get the Look for Less on EBAY!!

This was one of the top pins on pinterest today, and understandably so. It looks great. I love that the classically structured blazer keeps the just-shy-of-over-the-top accessories from looking too goth. I’m a huge fan of ebay, so I’m going to show you how you can get this same look for super cheap on ebay just by searching for the key words. Assuming you already have at least one black shirt already in your wardrobe, here is the rest:

Search: Leopard scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search: Skull Silver Ring

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Myth: You Can’t Wear Brown Shoes with Black

This is a pretty common misconception, and you may already know this, but you really can wear brown shoes with a black outfit. People mistakenly think black and brown don’t go together because of the old men’s fashion guideline about wearing black shoes with a black suit.  In fact, its actually really easy to mix black and brown because they are both neutrals. Still, you want to look like you did it on purpose.  Here are a couple tips on getting started:

The most foolproof way is to get a pair of shoes that are both black and brown, like the pair below by Jeffrey Campbell. These can be worn with any black outfit.

You can buys these at FreePeople.com

Not entirely foolproof, but still pretty easy is incorporate another brown item into the outfit (like a leopard print scarf, or a brown bag):

Or, incorporate cream into the outfit. It makes the contrast between the brown and black not so stark:

Final tip, its easier to start out with unusual shades of brown, like a deep reddish brown or a light orangey brown like this girl:

So feel free to mix your brown shoes with your black clothes from now on.  And don’t over think it. If it looks good to you, then go for it!