I was staying with friends in Astoria when I came to New York City to search for my apartment. After a boozy brunch, we wandered to PS1, the MoMA extension in Queens for art too modern for the Midtown Manhattan museum. The gallery was in transition and only two exhibitions were open, so we spent some time browsing the gift shop. It was there I discovered Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.
Worn Stories epitomizes the intimate relationship we have with our clothing that is so difficult to articulate. Instead of composing a novel or stating it outright, Spivack prompted individuals – from personal friends to fashion industry veterans – to simply select an article of clothing they couldn’t part with and tell the story behind it. The collection of sartorial memoirs could easily serve as a character study of diverse, fascinating individuals. However, the focus of the highly personal tales and recollections remains on the clothes.
“… when one of the sleeves ripped off, it reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t wear it anymore. I had a friend named Guy who was a painter in Tel Aviv. He’d been doing a series of paintings of everyday objects, so I commissioned him to make a painting of the shirt… When he was working on it, I’d get emails like, ‘Karuna, this shirt, it’s killing me. So simple and yet so complicated!’” – Karuna Scheinfeld, VP of design at Woolrich
The role of clothing in the stories and in these individuals’ lives emphasizes the significance of our apparel to our core being. Our clothing is not just what we wear, it’s who we are. Not in the sense that wearing a particular label makes you better or more elite – in fact most of the articles of clothing selected for Worn Stories are quite mundane and ordinary – but in the sense that our clothing is an extension of ourselves.
Emily Spivack is the creator of Threaded, the Smithsonian’s fashion history blog. She is also a public speaker, teacher, creative spirit, and the author of Worn Stories (which can be purchased here.) For more worn stories, visit the ongoing project here.
“Costume is all about developing characters and telling a story.” – Academy Award winning costume designer Angus Strathie
The year is 1937. You’re twenty nine years old, a young mother in your prime. By a twist of fate (and a little magic), your body miraculously stops aging. For the rest of time, you’ll experience the world in a young woman’s figure, but you’ll grow into an old soul.
“Adaline is somebody who has an incredible wardrobe. She’s dressed a little more conservatively because she’s not 29, she’s a hundred.” – Blake Lively
The year is 1976. Although your life is anything but ordinary, you’re still just like any other woman. You find it hard to resist the latest fashions. As the decades go by, your wardrobe is evolving into an archive of memories and moments, past experiences and people.
“Since the piece took place over almost a century, it was extra challenging to be able to find all those periods and all those moods and all those emotions of this character.” – Angus Strathie
The year is 2015. For seventy-eight years, you’ve had to define and re-define yourself, often through what you wore. Each article of clothing holds a sentiment and tells a story of a particular time, a particular version of you. Sometimes, when you head to the closet to get dressed, you find yourself wearing something from every decade.
“What we felt was right was to actually incorporate those vintage pieces into her contemporary look. The 2015 look is contemporary clothes mixed with vintage pieces or vintage accessories.” – Angus Strathie
We all have a relationship with our clothes. After imagining yourself as Adaline, a woman who has lived for almost a century, consider how deep that connection might be with certain articles of clothing. This is how costume designer Angus Strathie employs fashion to enhance Adaline’s story in The Age of Adaline. With a variety of styles and silhouettes from nearly ten decades at his disposal, Strathie makes use of color, pattern, and accessories to reflect Adaline’s character in her wardrobe.
In both flashbacks and present day, variations of red, blue, and black are dominant in Adaline’s wardrobe. I believe Strathie focused on this palette because each color represents a piece of Adaline’s story. Red hues carry a spectrum of meaning, anywhere from danger to love. Because of Adaline’s unique condition, she’s forced to conceal her identity and lives with the constant threat of being discovered. Adaline also spends her life grappling with relationships. Her secret prevents her from allowing herself to build deep connections or fall in love. The color blue continues to illustrate Adaline’s struggle. Blue is often associated with sadness and loneliness. It’s also a color that’s rarely found in nature, much like the miracle of Adaline’s agelessness. Finally, black represents Adaline’s mystery and intrigue. While her beauty is alluring, Adaline internalizes a great deal of vulnerability and insecurity because of her secret. Keeping people at arm’s length to hide her truth proves to make Adaline’s story even more interesting.
Strathie also uses pattern, specifically florals, to characterize Adaline and develop her story. Flowers symbolize growth and renewal. They’re often given as a sentiment at milestones throughout our lives: birth, marriage, holidays, and ultimately death. Because of her inability to age, Adaline circumvents the typical human life cycle, and she must constantly reinvent herself to hide her true identity. Flowers represent the normalcy Adaline so intensely desires.
Adaline’s collection of clothing and accessories helps to keep her grounded despite the lack of stability and consistency in her life. Strathie uses a particularly unique accessory as a signature for Adaline’s look: the scarf. Scarves were a popular accessory in the first half of the twentieth century, during Adaline’s true youth. Although they’re a more unusual contemporary accessory, scarves remain a part of Adaline’s style in present day. For Adaline, the past feels never-ending, but her scarves signify a time when she was purely young at heart.
Strathie’s costume design in The Age of Adaline beautifully illustrates the connection between clothing and storytelling. Whether you’re a wardrobe stylist working with an individual, an editorial stylist working on a campaign, or a costume designer working to develop a character, fashion is a way to express a narrative. Clothing is a part of our daily lives, from what we wear to the magazines we read to the films we see. Most of the time, we don’t realize the impact clothing has on our interpretation of a person or character. However, the saying, “clothing speaks louder than words,” is often true. Within a single article of clothing, an outfit, or a closet, there’s a story.
The Age of Adaline debuts in theaters nationwide this Friday, April 24, 2015.
Remember that girl from class whose style you adored? At times she was a bit eccentric, but she wore everything with confidence. Something about the way she dressed just worked, and you couldn’t go a day without noticing her ensemble. For Katelyn Kosinski, that girl was Willa, a classmate from her college days. Little did Katelyn know that a few short years later “Willa” would become the inspiration behind the name of her business, Woodbury Lane.
“When I searched the name ‘Willa’ and ‘Willa Boutique,’ I found it was already taken. So, I played around with ‘Willow” and ‘Willow Lane’ for a while. Realizing that I was hooked on the W and L being together, I landed on the name of my childhood street, Wood Berry Lane, but changed it to make just two words:” Woodbury Lane.
Willa was just the first bold, fashion forward female who inspired Katelyn to create Woodbury Lane.
“Truly my greatest influence has been the entire movement of women who are doing their own thing right now. There’s this revolution of girls who are insanely confident and driven, yet totally realistic in their goals… Gone are the days where women can only work for the man.”
Long before Katelyn took her first step toward launching Woodbury Lane, she had a clear vision of what drew her to a particular sense of style. The fashion was just one component. The confidence with which a woman wears the fashion and the pride a woman takes in her fashion are the foundation of Woodbury Lane’s aesthetic.
“[Woodbury Lane] speaks to the woman who takes pride in her wardrobe. Women who are not looking for ‘disposable clothing pieces,’ which are all too easy to come by nowadays. ‘Disposable clothing pieces’ are the ones that are incredibly trendy and poorly made. Woodbury Lane is the opposite – our clothes are of a great quality, and they’ll last for more than one season. Most of what we offer are classic basics and subtle trends that don’t necessarily scream ‘2015.’”
Katelyn gave a taste of what Woodbury Lane had to offer with a pop-up gift shop last holiday season, but the boutique officially opened its cyber doors last month with its first spring collection. The current inventory is stocked with a full line of clothing and accessories as well as select home and gift items. While each and every piece has its own unique appeal, Katelyn was quick to share a couple of her favorites.
“The Cream Tapered Pants are amazing because they could truly be worn all year long. They’re lightweight enough to wear throughout the summer, but they also look killer in winter thanks to the ‘winter neutrals’ and ‘winter whites’ trends that are happening right now. I’m also pretty obsessed (a word I try not to use often) with our Floral Drape Top. It’s just the most flattering piece, and the colors are spot on for spring and summer. It’s also really versatile because it’s slightly cropped, which would look awesome paired with a high-waisted skirt. However, it’s not so cropped that you’d be showing belly, so it still pairs well with denim too!”
Katelyn has been a successful blogger for almost two years, but Woodbury Lane is her first small business endeavor. Throughout the entrepreneurial process, she has realized the importance of taking the time to celebrate each and every achievement.
“As a small business owner, I’ve quickly learned that every endeavor, no matter the size, is exciting! My first sale, a new shipment of merchandise, or even a really nice compliment on the shop feels like a huge accomplishment!”
So, what’s next for Woodbury Lane? If you’re in the Milwaukee area, don’t miss the exclusive launch party on March 22. For the first time, you’ll be able to see, touch, and try on the items from Woodbury Lane’s first spring collection. Be sure to arrive early! Woodbury Lane has partnered with a number of other local creatives to compile swag bags for the first 30 purchasers. Don’t live in the Milwaukee area? Shop Woodbury Lane online 24/7, and follow along with the boutique’s latest collections, events, and special offers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happy shopping!
Photographed by Laurelyn Savannah Photography
Several weeks ago I was chatting with fellow blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie about contests. It seems that a number of fashion outlets from magazines to social media are constantly presenting contests to their communities to boost engagement. We both admitted to being skeptics of such competitions for a long time. Surely there are hundreds upon thousands of eager followers entering these contests depending on the particular outlet hosting the competition and the prize. Then Gabby had a life changing experience that shifted her view of contests forever: she won. No, no, she won BIG.
Last fall, Marie Claire magazine partnered with Twitter and Yoplait yogurt for a contest that appealed to every fashion lover’s dream. The grand prize: an exclusive behind the scenes trip to New York Fashion Week, a meet and greet with Fashion Director Nina Garcia, and a feature in a Yoplait ad in the magazine’s November issue. The contest required participants to tweet a photo of an original look inspired by one of Yoplait’s 40 flavors. Gabby’s mixed berry inspired ensemble scored her the ultimate NYFW experience.
While Gabby’s win certainly gives me faith that real girls actually have a shot in hell at winning these contests, I would still venture to say that her victory was once in a lifetime. My contest story isn’t nearly as special, glamorous, or life-changing, but my small win is just another piece of encouraging evidence that contests are actually worth your while. If two regular gals can win, so can you!
My win was also for a contest involving social media. Last fall, one of my favorite denim lines, Level 99, hosted a series of Freebie Friday contests on Facebook. Each Freebie Friday contest had a theme that related to the particular denim style being given away. To win, followers had to answer the theme-inspired question in the comments. Instead of entering each week with a generic and ultimately underwhelming response, I waited for weeks when the theme spoke to me and tried to give an honest and personal reply, and it paid off. I won a pair of jeans!
Like I said, my win is not nearly as awe inspiring as Gabby’s, but hey, who doesn’t want a free pair of denim? The takeaway here is if you’ve ever thought of entering a contest but never actually done it because you thought, I’m never going to win, maybe next time you’ll think again. I believe Gabby would agree that an important factor to winning these contests is being genuine and true to yourself. So, keep that in mind and roll the dice. The next success story could be you!
I’m beyond thrilled to share that I will be styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan AGAIN for her upcoming show at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta next Saturday, July 26 with alternative rock band Amsterdam Station. Today, Erica and I are launching an exciting initiative to get YOU involved in the styling process.
I’ve styled 2 looks for Erica featuring jewelry from my latest accessory obsession Must Love Sparkle, and now it’s time for YOU TO DECIDE!
Head to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or straight to the bottom of this post and use the hashtag #DreaminginDenim or #RompinAround to VOTE for your favorite look. Then, come out to the show to see which look is the FAN FAVORITE. What are you waiting for? VOTE NOW in the comments section!
Don’t live in the Atlanta area or just can’t make it to the show? Stay tuned to ARTicles of Clothing Blog, and I will reveal the FAN FAVORITE look in a post after the show!