Posts Tagged With: fashion

Inside out: Emerging interior design

F. D. Richards. Flickr. October 13, 2012.

F. D. Richards. Flickr. October 13, 2012.

Global warming will encourage us to spend more time outdoors.  Our needs for shelter from the sun and heat and conservation of electricity will prompt the design of hybrid dwellings.  Sunrooms, porches, patios, and skylights will expand the definition of indoors.  The sunroom won’t just be a playroom, reading room, or afternoon snooze nook.  The kitchen table will migrate to a sunny corner of it.  Breakfast, after school snacks, and neighborly chats will grace it daily.  Patio designs will offer partial shade through awnings and roofs as well as lawn furniture and carefully placed trees.  Mobile barbeque grills will become obsolete.  Barbeque pits will become sophisticated built in grills powered by the sun.  Solar ovens will bake bread, cookies, and root vegetables.

Eventually, indoor kitchens will disappear.  Finished garages will sport refrigerators accessible to children seeking drinking water and parents barbequing dinner.  They will be easily stocked with groceries by opening the adjacent van door.  The mudroom’s washer and dryer will be accompanied by a dishwasher.  A china cabinet will decorate its upper reaches.  The nearby bathroom will offer a sink for mandatory hand washing before dinner.  Instead of retiring to the dank if cool environs of the basement to cook and relax, families will enjoy the cooler evening air outdoors on their patios as they dine.

More families will grow their own vegetables and flowers, too.  Greenhouse designs will become human as well as plant friendly.  Instead of utilitarian rows of seedlings and delicate flowers, they will be atria harboring pools of koi, raised bed flower gardens, and family picnic areas.  In ground pools will be an expected feature of single family homes like garages and basements are today.  Swimming classes like driving instruction will be a curricular standard at public schools throughout the United States.  Expert, certified swimmers will live in Kansas and Ohio as well as in Florida and California.

Inside homes, skylights will permit indoor landscaping.  Gardens and trees will help manage the temperature, humidity, air quality, and sunshine.  Less electricity for heating, cooling, and lighting will be needed.  Floors of ceramic tile and stone will eclipse wood and carpet in their durability, ease of care, and cool comfort.  Furniture will be more functional and less decorative.  Its comfort, mobility, durability, and cleanliness will be assured by its design and composition.  Lightweight, folding frames of aluminum and washable cushions will permit immediate furniture re-arrangement to accommodate changing purposes, numbers of people, and events.

Despite the global rhythms of life in the Information Age, humans will be able to live closer to the land.  They will be able to observe the seasons and cope with changing climates rather than avoid or conquer them.  Their respect and care for their neighbors, communities, wildlife, and the earth will grow.  It will inform their daily life and their plans for the future.  This stewardship will foster the wholeness for which people long.   A nap on the couch can become Shangri-La.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Eternal spring: The “greening” of fashion

Novita Estiti. Flickr.
November 11, 2010.

Now that our clothing doesn’t have to be green to be “green”, it is possible for those of us who look terrible in green to be fashionable.  If “green” is the new black, it is even possible to be elegant on a budget.  Why?  Recycling clothing can be both economical and “green”.  A shopping spree at a vintage clothing store may be pricey.  Like vintners of fine wine, these entrepreneurs know the provenance of their stock.  They carefully selected it from reputable sources after perusing labels, stroking fabrics, and scrutinizing discolorations.  It has likely been refurbished, too.  That is, each item has been carefully repaired, cleaned, and pressed.

Instead, persistent visits to thrift stores can yield designer treasures.  Unlike t-shirts, sweatpants, and pre-washed jeans, suits, evening gowns, and overcoats are cleaned with delicacy and worn intermittently.  Their fabrics and construction are durable, so people donate them rather than trash them.  Upon small investments of money and time, even careless maintenance can be remedied.  Talented needle persons can tailor their discoveries to suit contemporary conventions in fit or style.  Those dolman sleeves can be tapered from shoulder to wrist.  That calf length skirt can be shortened to knee length.  Irreparably damaged clothing may have salvageable panels of silk, wool, lace, or handmade buttons.  Even the harvest of a zipper can repay the cost of the purchase of a thrift store garment.

Recycled fashions permit an expansive wardrobe with a minimal investment.  There’s always something to wear; you’re always suitably dressed.  Even more, it is possible to establish a personal style.  Seldom will you attend an event or even work with someone who is wearing the same outfit.  Thrift store finds, of course, are from last season or last decade.  You can demonstrate your taste with your choice of classic designs such as the sheath or the shirtwaist dress.  Your refashioning of a dress or suit, of course, renders it unique.  Emerging fashion designs will become “greener” if not greener.  Professional designers and their customers are more concerned about the provenance of their materials.  Now, if only their marketers would create a new, less confusing term to describe environmentally-friendly clothing.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Just in time shopping: The smart closet

City of Marietta, GA. Flickr. May 19, 2010.

City of Marietta, GA. Flickr. May 19, 2010.

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley notwithstanding, shopping can seem magical today.  If it weren’t for the human delivery person and the wait for his or her arrival, the whole process might seem downright ethereal.  Isn’t loading that virtual shopping cart with clicks and beeps comparable to waving a magic wand?  There’s no need to soil your fingers by handling cash or the soles of your shoes strolling the mall.  Now, if only the purchased item would instantly materialize on the desk beside the computer.  For those of us who would sooner eat Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans than window shop, even perusing web photos for new shoes may be exhausting.  Mobile applications simply compound the demands on your time and attention.  After all, a store window is a store window even if it is the screen on your mobile phone.  Is there hope for even the virtual shopping adverse?

Personal shoppers may be one source of sustenance.  Their enthusiasm for style, browsing, and purchasing cannot be quenched or fulfilled by their own needs for clothing.  They have ample to spare for any number of the fashion unconscious and shopping phobic.  Their services, though, usually require meetings, telephone conversations, and loyalty to a major department or apparel store.  Virtual consumers may have to wait for the innovators of the near future.

What will they provide?  Automated and digital shopping services customized to fit your personal tastes and lifestyle.  Like the smart refrigerators that maintain a digital inventory of their contents, they will develop smart closets.  Digital tags will document the demise of clothing.  Even more, the closet will automatically shop and purchase items to replace items that are shabby or outmoded.  Your credit card or store account will be debited.  Each store’s staff will package and ship your purchases to you.

Human stylists and programmers will design interfaces that permit you to complete a profile of your tastes and your physique online.  You will be able to add a digital mannequin with more detail than currently offered by some online apparel retailers.  Those personal shoppers will have the store all to themselves as they shop for their absent clients.  Video conferences will still be available for customers who want to have final approval of their purchases.  Such conferences will be routinely available for special purchases such as evening and wedding gowns and interview suits. For those of us for whom shopping is recreational, museums and theme parks will be developed.  For the price of admission, visitors will be able to window shop on Main Street and purchase souvenirs that memorialize shopping malls and department stores.  Will you want a patent shopping bag adorned with the colors and vanished logos of Marshall Field’s or Circuit City?  For the truly nostalgic, only a replica of a paper cup with a food court restaurant logo will suit.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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T-shirts: Style meets substance

Methodshop.com. Flickr. June 22, 2012.

Methodshop.com. Flickr. June 22, 2012.

Even for those of us who grew up without the web, it may strain the imagination to remember life without it.  Prompts might include black vinyl bound photo albums full of shiny black and white photographs in a hall closet.  There may be a rotary telephone in the attic, although the landline cord has disappeared.  Stacks of vinyl records, though, are likely remembered, dusted, and cherished.  Popular music tends to accompany important events and fondly remembered relationships.  As its performers fade into an obscurity that eludes Beethoven and Mozart, reminiscing necessitates those LPs.

The t-shirt has retained a similar place in our affections.  Before Twitter, it was the only place that one could proclaim one’s identity, beliefs, values, politics, school loyalty, or favorite restaurant.  In much less than 140 characters, but with accompanying illustrations, you could become a walking billboard.  Of course, you had to supply your own animation.  That became relatively easy to accomplish as the wearing of underwear in public became socially acceptable.  In an earlier era, the formerly white and cotton men’s undergarment was only glimpsed at the necklines of men wearing their button-downs with the collar open.

Today, of course, men, women, and children wear t-shirts solo and in a great variety of hues.  Businesses that will assemble a t-shirt with your favored colors and slogans have been profitable for decades.  Such t-shirts are so ubiquitous and popular that people give them routinely and receive them gratefully.  For some, they constitute a treasured and unworn archive of achievement.  The road runner who has finished multiple marathons in several states memorializes his or her stamina, if not speed with a collection of race t-shirts.  The vacationer who has visited every American state brings home an illustrated, if not shiny t-shirt trophy from each one.

Will the popularity of Twitter and the burgeoning mobility and decreasing cost of web access bring about the demise of the t-shirt?  Twitter features that permit the attachment of photographs and video offer more sophisticated visual appeal.  There’s no need to squint at your neighbor’s disappearing back or cast sidelong glances at your co-worker’s torso, either.  Without world travel, your illustrated message can reach far beyond your own community, too.  Still, there’s no wrapping oneself in a soft, if colorful Twitter message.  Like blue jeans, t-shirts will become stylish, that is, created by fashion designers and illustrated by professional artists.  Their lines, fabrics, and colors will reflect where they are worn and the taste, not the politics of their wearers.  Which designer t-shirt will you wear to your next dinner party?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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All dressed down with everywhere to go

Meike Schonhutte. Flickr. May 13, 2008.

Meike Schonhutte. Flickr. May 13, 2008.

The advent of pantyhose rendered even formal dressing for women swift and painless.  In not too distant times memorable to living grandmothers, wearing hose necessitated sturdy undergarments and complex fasteners.  Tutorials and mentoring in their selection and wear were required to avoid unsightly bulges, afford necessary bathroom breaks, and ensure adequate oxygen intake.  Today, of course, even corporate dress codes permit no hose.  No woman need endure even the minor confinement of pantyhose.  Concern over visible tattoos, body piercings, and cleavage has long eclipsed worries over hose.

Tattooed and pierced mothers and fathers must also consider whether to teach junior the complexities of tying shoes.  Will he be wearing wingtips to the office?  Will she need steel toed boots on the construction site?  The advent of Velcro has simplified and speeded the shodding of youngsters.  There’s no more whining or kicking during the lacing of baby shoes or delays while kindergarteners puzzle the intricacies of shoe laces.  Even buckles are receding into history as they are replaced by elastic in shoe straps and waistbands.  Zippers, of course, are much more efficient than buttons.  Popping on that mundane gray hoodie rather than buttoning your cable knit cardigan guarantees a seat on the bus.  Still, climbing into baggy kneed sweatpants takes the zip out of fastening designer jeans.   Apparently, any interest in the decorative functions of laces, buttons, and zippers has disappeared in favor of the clean, if monotonous lines of now ubiquitous casual clothing.

Should these fasteners be preserved as a rite of passage?  Are keyboarding, texting, and playing video games the only socially correct ways to learn and demonstrate fine motor skills and dexterity?  Probably, the value of fastening skills as indications of cultured manners and a formal wardrobe will disappear with cursive writing, paper greeting cards, and telephone calls.  Any grieving will be reserved for owners of vintage clothing stores, button collectors, and zipper manufacturers.  Their memory will fade as their stories are relegated to the pages of esoteric fashion history journal articles.  Perhaps, instead, we will choose to embellish our conversations and more closely connect with friends and family.  Our newfangled fasteners for the enhancement of our social fabric are stylish smart phones with numerous colorful icons representing the proliferation of communication applications.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Fashion forward: What will we wear?

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Casual dress escaped the barn and garage to transform the backyard and the shopping mall.  Then, it jumped the fence to the office, the classroom, and religious services.  Ease of care, freedom of movement, and promotion of equality prompted this fashion trend.  Cotton blend clothing needs no ironing.  It can be cleaned in an automatic washer with soap and water.  It breathes to help regulate body temperature and dries quickly.  Chino, gabardine, and denim fabric can endure frequent washes without diminishing the longevity of the garment.  Cotton knits drape the body comfortably and attractively because they stretch with movement.  They represent visual equality in that they can be economically mass produced.  No matter one’s income or occupation, it is possible to be well-groomed.  No more stains even if work requires more exertion than sitting at a desk.  Wrinkles are nonexistent even when ironing isn’t in one’s repertoire.

In earlier times, clothing distinguished social status.  Hand tailored clothing created of delicate, natural materials demonstrated that the wearer was a person of substance.  The cut and fit of the outfit, the expense of the fabric, and the demands of its care were evidence of taste, intellectual pursuits, and wealth.  Well-educated and professionally employed people wore silks, wools, and fine cottons.  Housekeepers, laborers, and trades people wore durable, loose-fitting, and easy to clean clothing in fabrics such as denim and twill.  Today, the boss is likely wearing the same type of clothing as his or her staff.  Whether it is overalls, blazers and slacks, or polo shirts and chinos, the company dress code applies to all.  Position is demonstrated by performance, not appearance.

Concern about environmental pollution, conservation of water, and the institutionalization of two paycheck families, not social status will have major influences upon fashion in the near future. Working adults want to spend less time on laundry.  They want to live in communities with clean air and sufficient water supplies.  They’re concerned about the quality of the life that their grandchildren will live.  Clothing that is self-cleaning is already under development.  Imagine never having to wash clothes again.  Anti-bacterial clothing is now for sale, but needs improvement.  Knits are likely to prompt the demise of ironing.  Add the electricity savings to the savings from using unheated water to wash clothes.  Business casual workplace dress codes permit cardigan and v-neck sweaters, turtleneck tops, stretch slacks, and knit dresses.  Knits may ensure the disappearance of the fastener, too.  T-shirts, sweatpants, turtlenecks, pullover sweaters, and elastic waist skirts need no zippers or buttons.  Even dressing will consume less time and energy.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2012

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Coffee: All buzz; no percolation

Jeremy Noble. Flickr. June 5, 2005.

Jeremy Noble. Flickr. June 5, 2005.

Starbucks and, of course, the web have brought us all buzz all the time.  Even McDonald’s – with billions of burgers served – must be anxiously contemplating the day that more Americans choose coffee and oatmeal for breakfast.  If Americans aren’t drinking coffee, they’re shopping for coffee, brewing coffee, talking about coffee, or watching coffee commercials.  We relish coffee cake, spoon up coffee ice cream, slurp mocha milk shakes, sip coffee liqueurs, and savor coffee candies.

Whatever happened to percolation?  This decorous and melodious form of animation provided us with an enthusiastic rather than an edgy start to each day.  Sure, it was likely bland, slightly stale, ground, canned coffee burbling, but its aroma was still fragrant and powerful.  Consumed at the table in a bone china tea cup or a pottery mug and accompanied by the rattle of newspaper, the chatter of children, or the quiet contentment of adult loved ones, it was a lovely and homely ritual.  Refreshment was due more to the warmth of family, kitchen, and beverage than to ample amounts of caffeine.

There were no stainless steel to-go mugs and automobile cup holders.  Repeated infusions of caffeine weren’t necessary to jumpstart each day.  Although its breakfast ritual can’t even spark a reminder of a Japanese tea ceremony, coffee cups have become so ubiquitous in autos, on buses and trains, in television dramas and newscasts, and at public events that they might be deemed accessories.  White, squeaky Styrofoam cups of generic, automatically brewed, ground coffee accompany polyester slacks and a spandex t-shirt.  Sturdy, creamy white paper cups with corrugated, brown paper sleeves are gripped by manicured nails attached to the wearer of designer jeans and a hand knit sweater.  Of course, the beverage is Columbian or French Roast.  Still, fashionable and technical sophistication due to programmable coffee makers, thermal brewers, or espresso machines can’t replace the homey charm of percolated coffee.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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