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I saw this guy in the backyard today.

And this one, too.

For the record, Bibs has never bagged a squirrel, and that record still stands.

But forget about Cat and Squirrel for now. This is the picture that I want you to ponder today:

This is a page from last Sunday’s New York Times special edition Style Magazine. I HATE THIS PICTURE.

This is a photo of the lovely actress Claire Danes posing in a $2,980 dress by Jil Sander and a $2,540 Brunello Cucinelli skirt worn underneath taken in Tel Aviv.  The fact that she’s wearing a skirt under a dress is something I have to take on pure faith from the caption because I can’t see the damn dress and I can’t see the damn skirt (well, not $4,000 worth of them, anyway). As for why the lovely Claire Danes has made the somewhat bizarre choice to wear a skirt under a dress I am clueless, as there is nothing in her body language that suggests to me how she feels about wearing a skirt under a dress (NARRATIVE, I need NARRATIVE) and there is also nothing — not a shred of attitude, expression, composition, etc., that gives me any insight about the reason she’s hugging that damn ice cream cone while wearing her skirt under her dress. Don’t even get me started on this picture’s sense of place. (Look Ma! I dragged the lovely Claire Danes all the way to Tel Aviv so I could take a picture that looks like it came from some back alley anywhere in the world!) The New York Times should pay me for having to look at dreary, stupid, pointless pictures like this.

Well, it serves me right. I only bought last Sunday’s New York Times because I was still a little woozy from the surgery on my quadricep tendon and it looks like I will be wearing my husband’s loathsome but roomy sweat pants for the foreseeable future (ortho casts are bulky!) and I feel cruddy. I am desperate, out-of-my-mind frantic for some style. So, like my little buddy squirreling away sustenance for the coming Winter, I need to gather my criteria for how I plan to make my post-op life better than ever. I need a new wardrobe (and it’s about time).

Street Style Barcelona (Google street style and you’ll be amazed at what you get!).  Of course I like this. Because this is me in London in 1987:

They say that the saddest thing that a woman in her 50s can do is hold on to the fashions that made her happy when she was in her 30s. So let’s try to update this, shall we?

London, 2011. (Oh, how I love fashion shots with weather!)  I get it: longer layers, bulkier accessories. And I guess that open-neck detail is for venting the hot flashes. But I need something a little more effortless. Like this, maybe:

Barcelona again. (Don’t you love the puddle???) Yes! Leggings Forever! But I’m always cold, so I think I have to go with this:

Yes! Street fashion in Seattle in the Winter! This happens to be a picture of a tourist from Britain, which from now on is the official name of Vivian Swift Style: British Tourist in Seattle. Altho, as fond as I am of shades of grey, I think I need to add a little color:

(street style in Paris, and in Winter. I really like bare trees in a fashion shoot.) Cute, but no. More like this:

Ochre in Stockholm! I must have pockets! But where is the whimsy? Like here:

Perfection. As far as fashion photography goes, I mean. The weather, the framing, the bits in the background, even the diagonal lines on the asphalt are all wonderful. And I love this young lady’s sense of style and color (whoever thought of combining goldenrod-yellow and vermillion??) and I will note it for when I am able to hobble out to the mall and get me the antidote to these sweatpants that currently imprison me.

And as for writers looking swell, there’s this:

J. K. Rowling in a gorgeous, age-appropriate, elegant dress with the most awesome accessory of all: a husband in a kilt.


Will I ever be able to fulfill my fashion dreams? Well, I have already looked up pattern making classes available this Winter on Long Island (none. I’ll have to go to Brooklyn) because I suspect that my fashion needs (no ironing, nothing that I have to hold my stomach in for, big pockets, three-quarter sleeves) is not commercially available. And I am determined to spend the rest of my life looking spiffy, comfy, cool, and  functional.

Yeah. Like that.

And as for that other icon of British style…

…Congratulations Christine for winning the 50 Years of James Bond Christie’s catalog!

Yeah, Daniel Craig’s not a bad accessory either.



11 comments to Fashion Forward

  • Claire Danes is pregnant..could be the new maternity look:)

    Love layers and scarves etc..My daughters pull it off perfectly..I’m a hit and miss:)

    Hope you are healing well..Helen Mirren is just gorgeous.

  • Nadine

    Congratulations Christine on winning the catalog.

    And thanks for the Fall fashion tips, Vivian. It’s been ages since I shopped for new clothes because I’m in my mid-50s and all the styles are either too young or ugly. Now I know the secret: layers and scarves.

  • You’ll be pleased to know you can now buy An American Girl doll with a cast on her leg!
    Who knew?
    I just had lunch with one (belonging to a nine-year old).
    Frankly I don’t think Ms. Danes had anything to do with what they put on her body. She’s just along for the ride (did they know ahead she would win the much-deserved Emmy?)
    I wish I cared more about fashion but some things slip a bit..
    At least you can order stuff online.
    No need to wait.
    Buy and return!
    J. K. Rowling looks like she’s with her nephew, ahem – that dress is too matronly mother-of-the brideish IMHO

  • no 47-yr old woman should wear grey lace!!
    what’s up with that?

  • Caroline

    How in the world do these older ladies keep their faces looking so good? Is it the make up , or a daily routine, or plastic surgery?
    When I was 18, a beautiful older ( 70) lady told me to do three things for your face every day:
    I tried, but I’m still old looking.
    Good for British actresses ( and some American)
    Thank, Vivian. You do a good job of bringing it all together.

  • Jeanne Rust

    Hi Vivian
    I took a class from you when you did your northwet book tour awhile ago. You were thrilled with your purchase of a beautiful blue fleece jacket. I loved it, but when I went to Pike Place Market to find the makers, they were no longer there.

    Anyway, I discovered Janska clothing on-line. Mostly fleece in brilliant colors and lots of pockets and amazingly stylish for being kind of on the lines of ‘nomadic hippie from Seattle’ look.Plus….. cozy and comfy looking (although I have yet to purchase anything).I need to refurbish my aging and ailing wardrobe so thanks for the great fashion forecast tips.

  • I’m with you Swifty when it comes to what you like.

    I love clothes but I hate shopping for them. I have no style because my wardrobe is a total hodgepodge of things that fit me instead of things I like. I always see these fashion models who are as tall as I am wearing lovely things and I think WHERE? WHERE??? WHERE do they find these miraculously long garments? Then I realize they are wearing $4500 jeans and $2500 white cotton blouses and I have my answer. Sigh.

  • You make me laugh! And YEAH leggings are back! As for post-op clothes… I’m getting over foot surgery. Long swishy skirts go over ginormous casts and whatnot easily, and later on will cover up thighs and leggings and be comfy. Good with boots OR sandles, too.

    That PERFECTION in quince and ochre reminds me of Imelda May, whom I heard for the first time on Graham Norton. I think you might like her … check her out on iTunes… Inside Out and some other bluesy jazzy fun tunes…

    Jackets: the Brit in Seattle: find a basic coat and add your embroidery on the pockets, like the reindeer on hers…. takes ordinary to fun.

    And Helen Mirren and Judy Dench: sigh. They just keep getting better….

    Still savoring my way through Wanderer (remember Tolkien: All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not touched by the frost. …) Thank you for sharing it with wall of us.

    Cheers, Sarah
    PS…the cats send tail waves and purr-rumbles, the pug sends pathetic feed me eyes….

  • Mary

    Oh MY Dog…..How do you buy clothes these days?
    What a good idea, Vivian..
    Mix and Match. You can find tops, pants, scarves, and bags, but you never now how they’ll look together, but it doesn’t matter if you make them look good TOGETHER.
    And if it’s what you like, so much the better.

    I’m glad Christine won the catalogue. She should have. I liked her story.Good call, Vivian

  • jacqui

    It is Monday, after that blast of a full harvest moon, and I just returned from a visit to my library. Guess what I found at the FREE BOX (for magazines)!?! Yup, there she was, Clare Danes in red in TelAviv in the NY Times… haunt me. I had never had such a reaction to your blog before…but I was railing at this fashion display for days. Well, it has only been 3, Stupid dresses with stupid price tags and she is wearing the same ouchy looking shoes throughout. I could have just looked at a whole blog column of your cats and yard without even words this Friday. No, you had to torture (me at least) with what I figured then was result of post surgical drug hangover….she’s out of her mind I thot….and now bound up in a cast to boot…I just kept thinking of all the young women Clare’s age I pass in my village, see wandering thru farmer’s market, the joyful and jubilantly festooned in their colorful hippy dippy thrift store or 2nd hand finery.
    Belts, scarfs, hats, shoes, the works….not only comfortable but they fit and are practical too. Yes, some of us look like Russian women from the steppes 80 years ago ….but it is I guess “nomadic hippie from Seattle” retro world class. Someone has to buy it for it to trickle down to the West Coast.
    And those two lovelies from the best exotic marigold hotel…you get complexions like that from growing up in a climate like Great Britain….just like the Pacific NW!!

  • Bunny

    I too like the layered look, but I agree with you, there are some things that do not go together. Skirts and dresses at the same time? NO. I like leggings, but I don’t like the look of a dress over leggings.
    But your look from the 80′s still holds up, I wish I had met a young hipster like yourself, back in the day. I was a square living in a small town, and envisioned myself with people like you.

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