Posts tagged ‘This Girl’s Life’

Turning Japanese

Let me tell you a story about a very special dress. We first met at Bendel’s in September of 2004. Uncharacteristically, I was armed with a flush checking account – alas, if only I could graduate every spring – and ready to buy. I left the store excited about my purchase, but certainly not aware that I had just embarked on a lifelong love affair with kimono sleeves (more on that later).

Mizz Von F herself, wearing a variation of my dress at her Fall 2004 show

Mizz Von F herself, wearing a variation of my dress at her Fall 2004 show

Four years have passed, and my dress has lived the kind of life that most of the other clothes in my closet can only dream about. It’s been to jazz clubs, school dances, birthday parties, and at least one European discotheque. It’s also been on many a SoHo shopping date with my favorite jeans, and things have gotten serious between the two of them. Whenever I put it on, no matter how tired/bloated/antisocial I might have been  just a few minutes earlier, I instantly feel sexy, confident, and ready to take on the world. (And to those who think fashion is frivolous, I ask: isn’t there REAL value in anything that can make someone feel that way?)

Unfortunately, my story has a bittersweet ending – Frost’s sentiment that “nothing gold can stay” can be applied not only to springtime and Edenic paradise, but also to 100% silk garments. A half-dozen trips to the tailor have prolonged the life of my dress, but with each new patch I feel it weakening. Soon it’s going to be time to say goodbye and mourn the loss of such a valued member of my wardrobe. In the meantime, I’ve been desperately scouring the new generation of bold-sleeved tops and dresses to fill the gap.

Top contenders are this rich, grownup hippie look from DKNY, this racy but sweet off-the-shoulder number from Geren Ford, and this simple but elegant jersey dress from saint grace. I’m also obsessed with this peacock jacket from last season’s Elizabeth and James collection, but I got greedy waiting for the sale prices to drop and it’s sold out everywhere now. Not surprising that the Olsens often incorporate this sort of dramatic look into their line, seeing as Mary-Kate is one of the kimono sleeve’s staunchest advocates. No one loves M.-K. O. more than I do (seriously, NO ONE DOES), and with this particular trend, sometimes she totally rocks it. But other times … well, let’s just say that only someone over 5’10” could wear that without looking like a pygmy. Another victory for the tall girls!

On a completely unrelated note: tell me these are not the ugliest shoes you’ve ever seen. Seriously, I know “Fit Flops” are all the rage right now, but if the choice is between hanging on to my cellulite and wearing those sins against shoe-manity, I’ll stick with the former. Although, they’re so morbidly fascinating that I can’t stop looking at them, so I guess that counts for something.


August 12, 2008 at 5:04 PM 2 comments

I’m Back!

Hello, dear readers. You may have noticed that there has been a whole lot less traffic on my blog over the past week or so. Rest assured, I haven’t grown bored of fashion and shopping (the horror!), but have in fact begun a whirlwind tour of the U.S. – one which will continue into August – viewing the upcoming Spring/Summer 2009 shoe collections. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting the major trends I’m noticing at the shows.

Still, all work and no play makes Tess a dull girl, so lest you think I was simply toiling away into the wee hours of the night, I’ll share a few non shoe-related discoveries from the New York leg of my travels.

 Crocodile Lounge – A favorite among my downtown amigas, this place offers a free personal pizza with every drink. More importantly, they have Skee Ball AND – a true rarity among NYC bars – Erotic Photo Hunt, a.k.a the most horrendous yet addictive bar game of all-time. (If you don’t know, don’t ask – but if you’re from Baltimore like I am, you DO know.)

16 Handles – I’ve nicknamed the East Village the “frozen yogurt” district, because there are literally no fewer than six Pinkberry knock-offs (plus one of the real deal) within five blocks of my friend’s apartment. Most of them are located on St. Mark’s, but the real gem is this 2nd Avenue outlet (located between 9th and 10th streets), where a sweaty gal can serve herself from 16 daily flavors and over 30 toppings – think fruit, cereal, and yummy gummies. And yes, they provide tasting cups so you can sample the wares before you commit.

American Teen – I’ve come to take post-Sundance buzz with a grain of salt, because sometimes the hyped films disappoint in a major way. Not so with American Teen, the documentary brainchild of Nanette Burstein (The Kids Stays in the Picture) which plays like a real-life John Hughes movie, invading an Indiana high school and finding its stars in the prototypes of “prom queen,” “jock,” “rebel,” etc. It’s sweet, funny, sometimes devastating, and miles more complex than any television series or film chronicling teenagers made in the last decade. I challenge you to watch it and NOT leave the theater with a little bit of a crush on Mitch, the “heartthrob.” (Currently screening only in New York and L.A., but set to open in more theaters nationwide.)

Sunshine & Shadow silk scarves – First I saw them in Barneys. By the end of the weekend, I’d spotted chic city gals in virtually every Manhattan neighborhood sporting these supersoft tie-dyed wraps with everything from crisp sundresses to black skinny jeans. Available in many beautiful color combinations, these will take you into fall and, judging from the rampant incorporation of tie-dye into next spring’s shoes (more on that later), way beyond.


Gaining a competitive edge at the Crocodile Lounge

Gaining a competitive edge at the Crocodile Lounge

August 1, 2008 at 5:16 PM 1 comment

Playing Dress Up

Confession: I love the film Mean Girls. Not just really-really-love-it, but seen-it-literally-a-hundred-times-love-it. Every time I come across this little cinematic gem on cable, I simply have to settle in for the remainder of the screening, and – at least according to my father – I get a positively geeky smile on my face as I recite the entire thing from memory. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that Cady’s (a.k.a. Lindsay Lohan’s) big revelation comes during a “mathletes” competition and I myself was a card-carrying mathlete back in the day, with trophies and a “Divide and Conquer” t-shirt to prove it. Perhaps it’s the undeniable cuteness of Li.Lo herself – after all, it was not her lifestyle choices but rather her hair/fashion choices that ultimately turned me against her. Or perhaps it’s the sheer awesomeness of lines like this one:

“In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it. The hardcore girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.”

Brilliant! And, to some extent, true. I really hate the predominance of generic “sexy nurse” and “sexy firewoman” costumes sold around Halloween, because they’re just so boring. This is – at least in my opinion – one of the only occasions of the year on which it’s acceptable to play dress up, so why not be creative? Lucky for us tall girls, we’re pretty much forced to come up with our own ideas, since those mass-produced, all-inclusive costume packages are all designed with the “average,” 5’4” woman in mind.

I know the holiday is months away, but in recent weeks, I’ve found myself brainstorming in an effort to top my valiant Amy Winehouse effort of last October. The two best things about that costume were a) the ability to pose for faux paparazzi shots – those were the pre-emphysema days when Amy’s erratic behavior was considered “kooky” as opposed to “life-threatening – and b) the comfort factor (cool wig+ ribbed tank + skinny jeans + miscellaneous tattoos/bandages = no-brainer).

Doing my best Amy impersonation

Doing my best Amy impersonation

For this year, I’m thinking less controversy and more class. My front runner is a sort of glammed-out Buddha look – not the fat, Westernized version but the more traditional portrayal. I’ll spray-paint a sheet gold for an easy toga dress, wear lots of exotic gold jewelry (I have a beautiful necklace that my grandmother purchased on her travels that will be perfect), order this wig online, and finish the whole look off with unibrow makeup, a bindi, and very red lips.



If I should find myself invited to a more scandalous, Mean Girls-esque gala, I might also fulfill my fantasy of recreating Bo Derek’s iconic beach style in 10 with the help of this nude-colored American Apparel bodysuit (usually their clothes are horrible for tall people but I figure because I’m so short-waisted, this would probably work in a larger size). Mainly, though, I just love wearing my hair in those tiny braids, and the crazy waves it gets when I take them out!



What are your ideas? What were your all-time favorite costumes?

July 21, 2008 at 7:25 PM 2 comments

The Height of Fashion

My name is Tess, and this is my blog. I know we don’t know each other very well yet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and ask you to take a (possibly painful) trip down memory lane with me.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are back in middle school. Life is tough – your best friends Janie and Amanda aren’t talking, plus you just flunked that quiz on fractions – but the Halloween mixer is tonight and you’re feeling pretty cool in a black tank and new velvet Limited Too jeans which match the orange rubber bands on your braces oh-so-perfectly. Bopping around to the smooth stylings of TLC, you begin to discreetly scan the auditorium for potential slow dance partners when you suddenly notice that – horror of all horrors – another girl has showed up wearing the exact same outfit as you!  Luckily it’s only Becca Fenstermann, and as you pass her en route to the bathroom (it’s time for the requisite body glitter touch-up) you can’t help but whisper “Where’s the flood?” while you giggle with your friends.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar – not the adolescent bitchery, but rather the “high water” faux-pas committed by the exceptionally lanky pre-teen – then I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.  I, too, spent the first 18 or so years of my life being that slightly awkward, very tall girl who slumps her shoulders in every picture, deals with boys who can’t help staring at her chest, and limps around with her feet hanging off the edges of sandals pilfered from much smaller friends. Three years ago, that last dilemma inspired me to start Barefoot Tess, this online boutique offering the most stylish of shoes in the most generous of sizes, with the help of my mother.

To be sure, girls who stack up at 6+ feet face a unique set of challenges. But as we get older and more comfortable with our bodies, we begin to understand and appreciate all the perks that come along with our height. I challenge you to find a petite girl, no matter how beautiful, who can turn every head in a crowded restaurant like her statuesque counterpart, assuming that said counterpart knows how to dress to impress.

And that’s where I come in. After two decades of following fashion religiously and (sometimes disastrously) experimenting with the runway trends on my own budget, I think I have finally figured out what works for my leggy, busty, hipless, waistless, broad-shouldered physique. Through this blog, I will endeavor to pool together the internet’s best offerings, as well as provide my readers with a forum to share their own experiences and advice on “shopping tall.”

Lastly, a hint for future reference – when someone asks you if you’ve ever thought about modeling, you’re probably doing something right.

July 12, 2008 at 5:05 PM 3 comments

"Barefoot" Tess blogs about life, fashion, footwear, and the perks and pains of being model-tall.


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