Friday, February 26, 2010

Still on the Orient Express

Elegantly chugging down the fashion track...

Here's another view of last week's featured outfit from Annie Lantz:
the Couchette Car Shirt in denim. (Click on images to see close-up details.)

"Grab your ticket and your suitcase," they said, so she pulled on her Autumn Traveller's Shirt and Pants, Grand Tour Overshirt (with coordinating cotton lace), plus a chunky-weave Autumn Traveller's Scarf for good measure,
and climbed aboard.

The Royal Scotsman Shirt is a smart piece in textured bias-cut check, with a front placketed Autumn Traveller's T-Top underneath for extra warmth, worn (below) with a poly-cotton jersey Portmanteau Skirt.

So you can be absolutely clear on the style of a garment, Annie Lantz catalogues provide line drawings as well as photographs. Below is an enlargement of the above styles...

The Australian label's autumn catalogue takes the luxury of the Oriental Express down a bi-coloured track. Ruby Red and Navy Blue turn out in a variety of fabrics and textures, a restricted palette that nevertheless creates a myriad of coordinating wardrobe options.

Just what you need when travelling -- harmonious items you can pull out of your case to make a fresh and feminine outfit. I've read travel advice from frequent flyers who all seem to pack in Black and White. Here's how you can pack in Practical and Cheerful.

Above: The Royal Scotsman Shirt, The Royal Scotsman Scarf, and Autumn Traveller's Pant.
Below: Orient Coach Shirt worn with Orient Express Skirt and The Royal Scotsman Scarf.

Cosy corduroy is used for skirts, trousers, tops, over-blouses, and jackets. At Annie Lantz, this season's details are in accessorizing sturdy basics with crocheted lace, jazzing them up with a bias-cut check or a contrast lining, and draping a bright scarf around your shoulders.

The catalogue features 4 scarves, all modelled as shawls: Royal Scotsman Scarf; Grand Tour Scarf; Autumn Coach Scarf; Autumn Traveller's Scarf. Don't these names almost make you feel as if you're on your way somewhere?

In the cosy library car, she wore her non-crush jersey knit Autumn Traveller's Shirt with feminine net frills on cuff edge and bodice front, her comfortable, cotton print Orient Express Skirt, and in case of chilly drafts, her Autumn Traveller's Scarf.

The shirtdress continues its tour de force, offered here in classic, go-anywhere pinstripe denim. A modesty tip for when purchasing this style: you may need to add extra buttons or domes at the top and bottom of the button placket. My solution has often been to permanently stitch the placket from the hem up to hip level.

I hear the whistle blowing.
That's me away,
For I'm to explore another station.
I wish you warm thoughts, bright colours, and closet innovation,
and from the Orient Express, my friend,
Happy Travelling in 2010.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fashion on the Orient Express

This year's opening whistle from Australian fashion designer Annie Lantz is a stunner.

I received their autumn postal this week, and as usual it's a work of art, a catalogue unlike any other store brochure I've seen.

The theme is timeless: a trip on the Orient Express. The luxury inherant in the name spills out on every page.

Here's my favourite outfit, blue denim and cotton crocheted lace tailored with a skilled hand into a classic, go-anywhere expression of modest, feminine elegance.

Australian and New Zealand free-phone numbers for Annie Lantz are listed at the bottom of the second image in this post (click image to enlarge for more detailed viewing). Call to request your own copy of the catalogue or to make an order.

More from Annie Lantz next week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Prince's Dream Girl

Are you internally breath-taking?
Drop-dead gorgeous on the inside?

The physical beautifying obsessions of men and women demonstrate they are not willing to grow old gracefully or fearlessly. We all grow old (27 is the scientific age which this process begins), and we all know physical beauty doesn't last. Surely, if we want a healthy investment portfolio, we will devote our energies to amassing the treasures of a beautiful heart!

She is the most acclaimed and celebrated woman of the world's all-time best selling book, the Bible. Prince Lemuel's dream girl became the millenium Ideal for others to aspire to.

"His princess was loving, faithful, diligent, financially astute, encouraging, disciplined, healthy, positive, compassionate, generous, prudent, stylish, creative, strong, dignified, wise, responsible, and humble. She loved Lemuel, but most of all, she feared God."

Is this the sort of Dream Girl you aspire to be?
What do you need to change in order for that to happen?

This post was inspired by Mary Simpson's book 31 Girl. Grateful acknowledgement to Hannah Harward for introducing me, and thanks to Mary for permission to quote a paragraph from the closing chapter of the book.

Ed. Note: While I consider the written content of "31 Girl" to be excellent, many of the photographic illustrations do not meet the standard of modesty this website strives to promote.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Celebrating New Zealand Day

February 6th, commonly referred to as Waitangi Day, is New Zealand's national day. Because there's been so much controversy over the Waitangi bit, many people forget the day should bring us together in celebration of all that is good about our country, so I call it New Zealand Day.

Have a good one!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Garments, part 2

Creating Your Own

This is my Happy Hat. Looking at it makes me smile. It makes other people smile, too. It's particularly productive to wear on grey days.

My Happy Hat is made of cotton knit, the outer layer reinforced by one layer of medium-weight fusible interfacing. I can wear it in varying climates because it has an additional lining of polarfleece that is removable (see images below). The brim can be tilted to accomodate mood or weather. The hat is a sturdy traveller, handling packing routines with aplomb.

Pink Glow is what I call this hat and bag pair. The hat was my prototype for this style (the bag will be covered in a later post). It was made to hide the result of a hairdresser's over-enthusiasm -- another reason why a girl might appreciate having a happy hat handy!

The fabric is a corded polyester suede, originally priced at NZ$60/meter and I got it for $4.

The pattern was a free download from Simplicity, and I altered the shape to take in the features I liked best in the Hats and Handbags -- Free Patterns post.

I learned from my pink prototype that while satin ribbon and diamante buckle look gorgeous, the ribbon isn't sturdy enough to support the buckle and when the hat is folded for travel, the band flops off the crown like an almost severed can lid. I left the ribbon unstitched because I wanted to be able to move the buckle to different positions around the crown. I suggest if you want such adaptability, make the band very sturdy (interface it, or use a stiff braid) so it will remain firmly where you want it, even when it's not on your head. Otherwise, thread the buckle onto the band then sew the band to the crown.

These two images (above and below) show the polarfleece insert I created to make the hats adaptable to climate change.

Here are some things to consider when figuring out what your happy hat (or garment) should be.
  • Favourite colours? They should be ones that remind you of positive things [like chocolate, warm sunshine, flowers in spring, people you love, beautiful animals, memorable occasions, etc].
  • Textured or smooth, cool or cosy?
  • Bling?
  • Luxurious or practical? Could be both.
  • Drapey or tailored? There are pros and cons for both of these. Drapey could look frumpy, but it could also float over things you want hidden and its looseness allowing you greater comfort and relaxation. Tailored could mean stiff or tight, or that a well shaped garment will do for your appearance what your body is too weary to manage.

Julia Whyte of Havelock North decided that swing coats are her specialty when it comes to happy garments. She named this the Happy Coat because it describes how she feels whenever she wears it.

This chic cover-up works indoors or out, smart or casual. It's fun and frivolous and will take you anywhere, she says. View her online coat gallery for more examples of the luxurious fabrics and linings she puts together for these glorious overcoats.

Care for black velvet lined with leapard print?
Or a hot pink lining to your periwinkle blue damask?

You don't have to spend a lot of dollars in order to stir up these good feelings. Your happy garment could be a jazzy shoulder bag. Or even simpler to arrange, tie a happy scarf to the handle of your current handbag.

Dull colours tend to be a feature of winter wardrobes, with the bright ones more often reserved for the strong sunlight of summer. If you want to sprinkle some good cheer on yourself and others to lighten this world of climactic upheavals, find/make yourself a happy garment, and I invite you to email a photograph of yourself wearing it!
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