While there are countless things you can do to improve your overall style, the unfortunate reality is that there are a bunch of little mistakes that can singlehandedly take down an outfit, rendering all of your hard work useless. No matter how well you dress, these little things are actually quite easy to overlook. Sounds scary, right?
Not to worry, because today we’re bringing you the top five errors that can downgrade your outfit, along with our tips to combat them. Consider this your checklist of things to keep in mind when you’re getting dressed in the morning (or planning your outfit the night before), in order to look as sophisticated as you feel (or hope to feel) on the inside.
Are you ready to step up your style in a major way? Scroll down to start reading.
Fact—marriage is not easy. Actually, the easiest part of it all is getting married. And then after the party is over, the real work begins. Just ask Kathy and Brandon Gunn of Michigan.
The couple tied the knot nine years ago and on the day of their wedding, they received a gift from Kathy’s great aunt Alison. In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kathy wrote that on the plain white box her aunt Alison had placed a card that read, ‘Do not open until your 1st disagreement.’
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As you can imagine, there were plenty of “disagreements” in those nine years, because … well, marriage, but Kathy and her husband never opened the white box.
“I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box, because it would have symbolized our failure. To us, it would have meant that we didn’t have what it takes to make our marriage work—and we’re both too stubborn and determined for that. So, it forced us to reassess situations. Was it really time to open the box? What if this isn’t our worst fight? What if there’s a worse one ahead of us and we don’t have our box?!? As my Great Uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse,” she wrote on Facebook.
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Finally, last May, the couple decided to open the gift. And, no, it’s not because they got into a huge argument and are getting a divorce. They were simply curious to see what her aunt’s gift was. They found two notes (one for her and one for him), some cash, wine glasses, and some bath products. Katy’s note read: “Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like. P.S. Get a bath ready.”
And Brandon’s note read: “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”
“For 9 years (and three moves) that box sat high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust, yet it somehow taught us about tolerance, understanding, compromise and patience. Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners, and teammates. Today, we decided to open that box, because I finally had a realization. I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box—they were within us.”
With an office that brims with books, toys, automatons, art works and no fewer than 17 bicycles, one might assume that Sir Paul Smith is an ardent collector, but the British designer is rankled by the assumption: “I don’t have an expert knowledge of everything I’ve got, so I don’t see myself as a collector, I just buy what sparks my interest and passion”.
And his greatest fervour is reserved for music; the designer launched his label in the 1970s, a defining era for British subcultures and music movements, and has dressed many of the greatest music legends of the 20th century, from David Bowie to Jimi Hendrix. As well as curating a series of playlists for Apple Music, which debuted last month, for his AW16 men’s collection the designer recalled the silhouettes and flamboyance of the music stars of the day. Not for nothing does a faded newspaper clipping from years ago hang in his office; the quote reads: “a Paul Smith suit is like an Eric Clapton riff”.
“I’ve been involved in the music world since the age of 18. I used to come down to London from Nottingham to visit friends who were at art school. They lived in Notting Hill – in the days before it was posh – and we’d go and see amazing bands. In those days, there were no green rooms, there was no security; you’d go to a club or a room above a pub and end up chatting to the band and having a drink. I have to admit that I occasionally had an ulterior motive; I had begun screen printing at art school in Nottingham and I’d started applying the prints to basic white T-shirts. I’d pack up my T-shirts in my old Morris Minor, drive to London – in that car it took about four hours – and try to sell them at gigs. I’d get chatting to a band, whip out my T-shirts and sell to them. Then I’d have enough money for the petrol to get back to Nottingham.
I got to know people who went on to become big names. When I was 19 I made a pair of trousers for Jimmy Page. I knew Rod Stewart when we were both in our late teens – you couldn’t help but notice Rod. He was young but he’d wear tweed suits, the kind that you’d normally see on a country gentleman. They’d be skin tight, worn with a tartan scarf and that spiky hair. Eventually I moved to London, and Jimi Hendrix lived round the corner from me.
You could tell something was happening with a whole mix of creative cultures all working in parallel and inspiring each other. Suddenly men’s clothing that 10 years before would have been deemed obscene became the norm; flowery shirts, decorative details. There were question marks over masculinity and femininity; Mick Jagger wearing make-up in the film Performance, and all the guys had long hair. I ended up making a pair of velvet trousers for Hendrix covered in decorative stars. I remember them well because he had a 24-inch waist; these guys were doing size zero long before the Noughties.
Stagewear and costume were a really important part of the look back in the Seventies; people like Hendrix, the Stones and Pink Floyd would wear these incredible attention-seeking outfits that opened up a lot of doors in terms of fashion. There was a new focus on mixing vintage with designer clothing and a real sense of bravery and spontaneity.
Musically, for me, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bob Dylan have really stood the test of time. So much comes and goes that it says a lot that they still resonate today. I have an archive in Nottingham to house all my vinyl; I have over 2,000 – my team has catalogued them. I’ve got a lot of Herbie Hancock, a lot of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Patti Smith; Patti often drops by, she likes to surprise us. In my playlist for Apple I’ve kept it very simple. It’s called “Around the World in 20 Tracks”; it’s the music I’ve listened to over the years of travelling on my own that’s got me through.
I think vintage vinyl acts as a reminder of how powerful album artwork can be; one of my most iconic ones is The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album with the Warhol-inspired image of the man’s zip. Another is Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues, with artwork by Robert Rauschenberg. The whole aspect of album design has deteriorated in recent years but with vinyl coming back, perhaps that will change. I’m fascinated by what sort of mind came up with them, why they designed what they did, what reason they had for doing so.
This year I hosted an exhibition in my Albemarle Street store of Derek Ridgers’ work to celebrate 40 years of punk; he was a photographer who documented that time. The wonderful thing about punk is that it was about self expression. Despite the aggressive image, it was non-violent, non-political – I knew a lot of punks in the Seventies and they were absolute sweethearts. I got to know Joe Strummer, Malcolm McLaren and The Clash quite well. It was about putting your mark down.
Alongside all the vinyl in my office in London, I have a photo of me with David Bowie. It was taken for a GQ photoshoot in 1997; Bowie is wearing a suit I made for his Earthling tour with baggy trousers and I’m in the background cheekily peering around the corner of the set. I first got to know Bowie in the Seventies and we stayed friends after that. Out of everyone, he left the biggest impression. What was remarkable when he died was that, in the outpouring of grief and love for him, it was obvious how many teenagers his music still touches today.
A friend’s 18-year-old son was in my Covent Garden store once, trying on his first suit. He was looking at himself in the mirror, a little self-conscious, and a guy comes out of another changing room and says, “Wow, you look great”. It was David Bowie. The boy went white and froze, but he ended up getting the suit.
I woke up yesterday morning thinking about how Yeezy Season 4 might be the most exciting thing I would attend all week — and by “exciting” I mean irreverent, original, provocative, memorable. I loved Kanye’s show last season at Madison Square Garden: the spectacle, the pomposity. I loved Kanye’s gravitational pull and how we were all sucked in. I loved watching Anna Wintour sit with the Kardashians. I loved feeling like an insignificant extra, like the fashion world was outnumbered, as he played his unfinished album and talked through his insecurities. It was massive and yet intimate, bigger than fashion, and it felt like Kanye made the season more interesting by forcing us to contend with him.
The Roosevelt Island show was something else entirely: an hours-long process that took us to a remote location, to witness what felt like a torture session for a bunch of civilian models, and a terrible experience of feeling complicit in enabling the situation. I expressed this on Twitter and spent the rest of the night being bombarded by hateful tweets. I thought it might be better not to write about Yeezy Season 4, but I think the experience deserves explanation.
The day started with a long bus ride to Roosevelt Island, where editors learned that the show would be held at the crumbling monument of a hospital that once housed smallpox victims. Fitting, we joked, all a little overheated but poking fun at ourselves for our willingness to suffer for fashion. We didn’t know what to expect and we tend to like that.
On the other side of the monument was a stark concrete staircase. At the top, a long grass plateau. Standing in lines as if waiting to be sacrificed were row upon row of street-cast extras, clad in small scraps of “nude” Lycra and arranged in order from lightest skin to darkest skin. It wasn’t clear how long they had been standing in this formation, but they already looked too hot. The show was running an hour behind. To his credit Kanye included darker-skinned models, despite concerns that his casting call for “multiracial” models meant excluding them. All of this was in keeping with the aesthetic of Kanye’s frequent collaborator Vanessa Beecroft, who sees skin color as paint chips and women as props.
Nothing happened. For 15 minutes or so we watched as one by one the street-cast models kneeled in what looked like exhaustion. Part of the plan, I thought. Music droned, mixing with the disconcerting sound of a helicopter circling overhead. Anna Wintour arrived. The Kardashians arrived. Another model wilted. More models sat down.
“Must be choreographed,” the woman sitting next to me said.
“I wonder if we have to wait for them all to sit down and then it will be over?” another person standing behind me suggested.
On the far opposite side of where I was seated, a model appeared to actually faint. She came to and stood up, only to crumple again. “Did she faint!?” people around me wondered out loud. Another girl standing next to her helped prop her up. No one in the audience did anything. No one producing the show rushed to help her. A few minutes later, a woman wearing a head mic brought some water. Another model went down. Eventually a man in the front row gave her his water.
At this point something shifted for me internally: This didn’t feel like a good situation. I’ve seen my share of fainting models at shows. The last time it happened, at a Rosie Assoulin show, several onlookers ran to help her and the paramedics were called. Watching a model fall or faint is always upsetting, calling to mind the grueling physical nature of their work, the starvation, the expectations that they walk in clothing that hobbles them. This felt worse than usual because these women were not professionals. Due to the performance elements of the whole spectacle, we were all genuinely confused as to whether the models’ collapsing had been planned or not. It didn’t seem planned.
Then, at last, the “real” models — that is to say, the professionals, the famous ones — began to walk out in the “looks,” white thigh-high boots and sweatshirts. All of the anonymous “extras” who had been baking in the hot sun rallied and stood up again and stared forward.
A model clad entirely in black rounded the runway in boots, looking perilously unstable. She moved three steps and stopped, her ankles appearing to give out beneath her. She took three more steps, stopped, making her way slowly and holding up the show. It wasn’t clear if she was ill or her boots made her unable to walk. It wasn’t clear if it was part of the performance, but it was disturbing to witness. A few editors fled. A strange rage and anxiety began creeping through my body.
“Why is no one helping her?!” I asked. Should I have been helping her? Should I get up and make myself part of the show? Was it possible that this was part of the show? Maybe Kanye was pranking us all, or conducting some grand social experiment about the fashion industry’s lack of empathy — a Yeezy take on the Milgram experiments.
“It’s fucking beautiful,” said the woman next to me. “It’s the most beautiful thing in the whole show.” I tried to ignore her. Farther down the row, people made rude comments about how the models were failing and how “they should have eaten more.” The pressure to sit there in silence was intense. As I was about to get up, a man finally came to the model’s rescue and helped her walk the rest of the runway. It was nearly 5 p.m. I couldn’t take it any longer and left before the show ended. I felt terrible for watching this go down. As I passed Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times, also leaving, she said, “Joke’s on us.”
Perhaps. But none of it was funny. I’ve gone to every Yeezy show. The first time he showed a group of street-cast models it felt refreshing, a celebration of different kinds of beauty and body types, which is something the industry needs. It was even possible to pretend there was a bigger message in Season 3’s Madison Square Garden event — a commentary about globalism and consumption.
This time, though, there was a stark contrast between the street-cast models silently falling before our eyes and their agency-repped counterparts, who were not standing naked in the sun until it was time for them to walk. A generous interpretation would have it that Kanye was making a point about beauty hierarchies, but if he had an agenda, it was too obscure for the audience to pick up on it. Maybe he and Beecroft will clarify the effect they were going for. But it seems simpler and more likely that they just didn’t think much about what might happen if young women were forced to stand in the hot sun for a long time, and didn’t have a team that was able to act in an empathetic way when they became unwell.
Keller’s recent shift to a wider statesmanship offers the clearest hint about his future. He is doing all he can so that the U.S. team finally takes home the gold in the Bocuse d’Or, the biannual cooking competition held in Lyon, France, in January. And he talks frequently about wanting to “make cooking a bona fide profession, like medicine or law.”
“I think he has more bandwidth and more power now, ironically, than when he was working the line, and he uses it extremely well,” Achatz says.
Yet, as a cook, Keller still wants to explore. “It’s to my detriment, personally,” he says. But he doesn’t want to keep rolling out more Bouchons. “It’s a great vehicle for expansion and was the thing I thought we needed to do at the time, but it’s so hard maintaining them.” To complicate matters, he’s conflicted about the idea of opening more restaurants. “I’m not sure it’s the best thing for chefs to do with their time,” he says. “It’s a fairly recent phenomenon. We have no model.”
Keller even recalls a slight tinge of disappointment the night Michael Ruhlman, the coauthor of The French Laundry Cookbook, ate at Per Se for the first time and congratulated him. “I realized that there was a certain part of that experience that wasn’t quite as gratifying as I thought it would be,” Keller says. “It doesn’t change my commitment, and I wouldn’t have known that, and all of these wonderful things wouldn’t have happened for a lot of people, if I didn’t do it… But today, you know what I yearn for? To have one restaurant.”
Today, you know what I yearn for? To have one restaurant.
Despite his hesitation, Keller has been working on the Hudson Yards project in New York, where he’s helping to select culinary talent for the space (a Spanish-inspired restaurant by José Andrés, a Greek seafood spot from Costos Spiliadis, and 10 or so other establishments to be determined). He played a similar curatorial role at the Time Warner Center a decade ago, when he convinced chefs like Gray Kunz and Masa Takayama to join Per Se as part of that complex’s restaurant collection.
Hudson Yards will feature Keller’s first new restaurant in New York since Per Se, and he’s finding inspiration for it in the music he grew up with. “Think of Sinatra, Sammy Davis, the Beatles, the crooners, the big bands,” he says. “Think of the Carlyle. Who is the next Bobby Short?” He wants to bring back live music in restaurants. “Maybe I’m off-base, but I want people to walk in there and say, ‘How cool is this?’ “
You often hear colleagues say that Keller was always the first in and the last to leave when he worked in the kitchen. These days that work ethic manifests itself in an almost obsessive vigilance. There are, famously, live feeds in the kitchens of Per Se and the French Laundry showing the action on both coasts. Video conferencing systems have also been added to three Bouchons. Staff use the cameras primarily to share ideas and demonstrate techniques, but they also allow Keller to be available to his employees in a way that others in his position are not.
I keep asking myself what I’m going to do in 15, 20 years, and I don’t know.
Cunningham, who along with being engaged to Keller has worked with him for two decades and is the brand director of Thomas Keller Group, has seen how this intense focus has shaped people’s perceptions. “They are surprised to see that the guy laughs or reads or has interests other than living and breathing the culinary world. I encourage staff to get Thomas outside of work. That’s why golf has been so good [for him].” But it’s important to understand the reason for his focus, Cunningham says. “I don’t think people see how much he actually does care. We have people who have been with us for 20 years. He feels a huge responsibility for their future.”
It’s hard to keep track of all the renovations Keller has planned. The Laundry expansion and kitchen revamp will debut in 2017, but he also wants to redo the interior of the original structure within the next two years. He has already noticed that the garbage area in the new kitchen is too small.
Later in the summer Keller sits down in the lounge of Per Se, wearing his whites and drinking espresso. “I keep asking myself what I’m going to do in 15, 20 years, and I don’t know,” he says. “How do you reward yourself? Not by taking all the money and reinvesting it in something that will take five years to make back,” he says with a slight smile. “I’m extremely excited about it. I said, ‘I’m going to act like I’m 40,’ when I began this project.” But, he adds,”I think there needs to be a little better balance in my life, and I hope I can achieve that after the Laundry is done.” He pauses. “But there’s Hudson Yards, which I won’t finish until I’m 63.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Town Country.
Photographer Harley Weir’s Instagram account has been wiped after she shared an image from her i-D cover shoot Portraits of a Woman, which features model and activist Adwoa Aboah as well as Corey Washington and Alix Vernet, created for The Female Gaze issue
Weir first posted an edit from the shoot that showed Alix Vernet naked, her nipples and vagina pixelated so as not to invoke Instagram’s’ censoring wrath, which tends to be elicited by the naked female form, but the image was still removed.
After this photo was deleted by Instagram, Weir shared another version, this time of just the lower half of Vernet’s naked body — again with her vagina pixelated. It was then that Weir’s entire account was wiped. What these apparently offending images share that seems too much for social media to cope with is period blood, smeared between Vernet’s thighs. Describing how the image came about, Weir says “Alix, who was modelling alongside [Adwoa] happened to start her period on set, I thought she looked absolutely stunning, so natural sat out in this parched yellow grass. It’s a fantasy of mine to walk naked in a desert and let nature do its magic, this scene reminded me of that.”
Weir says she didn’t receive any negative comments about the image before it was removed, but did get positive ones from both men and women. “My work isn’t pornographic and I really believe that images like these are important,” says the artist. “It would be more than nice if the beauty in natural things could be seen for what they are, rather than grotesque.”
Instagram is well-known for its censorship of women’s bodies, from pubic hair protruding out the sides of underwear — which became a topic of international debate after photographer Petra Collins shared just such an image and had it quickly removed — to nipples, which has sparked a global feminist movement. It’s not the first time an artist’s work has been erased by Instagram over period blood. Last year writer and artist Rupi Kaur shared a photo of herself in bed wearing period-stained trousers. After it was removed she put out a statement challenging the misogyny of a platform (and a society) that has no qualms objectifying and commodifying the female body, but gets squeamish about menstruation in connection with a fully clothed female. As the story spread so did support for Rupi Kaur, and anger towards Instagram. The social media giant eventually re-published the image, saying it had been removed by mistake.
Responding to the censorship of her work Weir states, “I understand how difficult it must be for Instagram to police such a huge app and I also get the need to have rules regarding nudity, especially as an over 18 app rating would mean a lot less users…but I do feel wronged, Instagram is rife with offensive and masturbatory words and images that are not policed, the lines are very off.”
Currently a groundswell of support for Harley Weir is growing across Instagram, with many calling for the photographer’s account to restored and questioning both the idea that in 2016 an artist’s work is being censored in this way, as well as the attitudes behind the belief that periods are obscene.
Editor’s note Since publication, Harley Weir’s account has been reinstated, @harleyweir. An Instagram spokesperson shared the following statement: “We apologise for the error made here. When reviewing reported content from the Instagram community, we do not always get it right and we wrongly removed this image and temporarily suspended this account. As soon as we were made aware of this error, we restored the content.”
Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street, I will notice something and think to myself that it would make a good photo. When this happens, I almost always take out my phone to take said photo and very rarely feel embarrassed about it. Why would I? I have identified a scene that I believe is worth capturing, and in this day and age, we’re all photographers and storytellers, aren’t we?
Of course we are.
I bring this up because this rule no longer applies to fashion week. On the contrary, having your phone out at a show has become somewhat, dare I say, embarrassing. Which is ridiculous if you think about it, because many of the attendees are at these shows for the sole purpose of gathering photos for later use. So why has this happened, and should we do anything about it?
My guess is as good as yours, but if I had to share it (which I don’t, but I will), I’d say we’ve been too trigger happy. The new guard, human iPhones to some degree, came stomping in to watch shows not through their eyes but with their phone lenses. Undoubtedly this incited dismay among the seasoned seat holders of these shows, who’d mastered this rodeo, covering the clothes for decades with nary a problem in sight. But that’s not even what was problematic. We are who we are, dammit, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for that. The thing of it was, we’d do anything to get a shot (as opposed to the shot) and frankly, too, it didn’t matter what was in the shot — pics or it didn’t happen, etc. Forget the artistry, the craft, the actual clothes. It became about proving that you were there. Which sucks!
I have fallen victim to this plague too; it is so easy to get caught up in doing what you see everyone else doing. But over the last couple of seasons, I have also developed a strange discomfort. It’s not around posting from shows, but of actually taking the photos. Sometimes, I’ll position my phone really discreetly, like I’m texting in class or something. Other times, I’ll skip the photo all together. My thinking is such that someone else will have no doubt gotten the photo, so why do I need it anyway — which brings up another interesting piece of the evolution of social media at fashion week.
If we’re all posting the same photos, from the same shows, and the quality blows, what’s the use? Have designers become too caught up in creating clothes that photograph well (as opposed to wear well) and have we, the spectators, forgotten what a critical opinion looks like because we’ve become too invested in getting the shot first?
Illustration and GIF by Max Dower of Unfortunate Portrait.
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