Me with my boys (when they were still boys, wearing youth sizes)
There is a rude awakening as a mother of young sons when your child goes from child to young teen. Well, of course there are many jolting awakenings but the one to which I refer here has to do with clothes. As a child, boys’ clothing (sizes through 18 and XL) is reasonably priced. In fact there is that magical moment when your kids, almost ready for adult sizes, can still wear the youth and you feel like you have hit the jackpot. But sure enough, like every growing thing, one day you can no longer fake it with the XL. That is when you realize your budget will forever be shot because that is the moment that you are forced to buy men’s sizes and in doing so pay the price. It is no small adjustment either. The jump to men’s clothing is enormous and frankly, shocking.
My boys are older now and have been shopping in men’s sizes for a few years. And as often happens with the benefit of time I had forgotten the horror of the price increase – it had become a distant memory. Until my friend, whose son is twelve, reminded me of this reality. She was forced to find the men’s size for the very same pullover top (I won’t name the store) – the price jumped $100. She passed on the item altogether.
Now I understand that more material is involved to make men’s clothing. But what about the in-between ages and sizes? Can’t they find a fair in-between price-point? Do we as mothers have to deal with price shell-shock as well as the fact that we are now living in the land of the teenager? Can’t stores give us a break? I mean, come on!
I am often in search of the male perspective and point of view. That changes today, with my interview with Steve Nicoll. This fashion-forward Brit has made his life with his family in The United States. In this eye-opening exchange we talk about his background, his relationship with fashion and why American men are aging themselves before their time. Here is Steve…
MKG: Can you share a little about you, where you grew up and how long you have lived in The United States?
Steve: I was born in Chiswick, a borough of West London, England, but I am 3/4 English and 1/4 French. My paternal grandmother was originally from Paris.We stayed in and around the London area until I followed in my father’s footsteps and moved to Grasse, France, at age 19, to apprentice as a Perfumer. After my training I returned to England and spent five years working in Manchester where I met my wife Deborah, before returning to work in London. We spent two years on assignment in South Africa shortly after that. We then transferred permanently to the US in 1993 and started our family. Life is hectic but good; I stay fit by exercising and playing competitive soccer regularly. Once a year I take a few days of personal time in the outdoors to decompress with the guys.
Today I work as a Perfumer for functional products with International Flavors and Fragrances, which means that I create the fragrances that are sold to customers who Continue reading →
A few months ago, Kevyn at Prada, told me that, for the first time, more men than women are coming in to shop. He told me “they are looking for something new and are not afraid to try new things and experiment. It used to be the opposite …” ~ Kevyn
Ingrid Steffensen has been keeping an eye on the New York City streets and is seeing exactly what Kevyn is seeing. I am grateful to Ingrid for being my eyes and ears in the city. Here is Ingrid’s story about: The Men in Red Pants (and Green, and Orange, and Purple, and …)
“With our daughter studying abroad for a year, my husband and I are trying out a year of living in New York City. We have temporarily left our charming three-bedroom suburban house in New Jersey and we’re renting a tiny Manhattan apartment in the Flatiron District. Is this as fun as it sounds? I’m sorry to have to say – yes, yes it is. After sixteen years in New Jersey, I’m having the time of my life soaking up the city – so much to see, so much to do! One of the most fun things is keeping an eye out for what everybody is wearing. And do you know my conclusion? Right now it’s the boys who are more interesting to watch! Continue reading →
I couldn’t resist one more feature on prom 2013. Eric is my son; he is 16 and a junior in high school. Last night he went to his first prom. There wasn’t much fanfare to prepare for the occasion except to take a trip to the barber shop for a new haircut, rent a tuxedo and shoes and purchase new dress socks. And of course, he selected a corsage for his date. But this story is worth telling because he attended his prom in the very same location where my junior prom was held 36 years ago! That does kind of freak me out but it is special and something that he and I will share forever.
My last prom feature is about my own son and a connection with me, his mom.
Daniel in his Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo and his four friends with his hand made original designs
My final prom feature is a sweet story about generosity and kindness. In 2006 Daniel was a senior in high school. Already a fashion designer and a creative original, Daniel hand made four prom dresses for his friends, including his date for the evening. The Great Gatsby was the inspiration for his date’s dress – a dropped waste and a soft, silk fabric pillow of a dress. For himself, Daniel had ordered a rental tuxedo. When the day came to pick up his tux just one day before the prom Daniel was dismayed to discover that the tux did not fit him and was far too big. When he brought it home his mother took one look at the tux and said that it would not do. He had just made four exquisite dresses for his friends and he needed to look just as sharp. She said to Daniel, “let’s go!” Together, they returned the rental tux and marched over to Dolce & Gabbana: Daniel tried on an amazing tuxedo that fit him perfectly. His mother bought the outfit for him then and there, as well as a shirt, shoes and accessories. Daniel was so touched by his mother’s generosity and extravagance, but his mother told him that it was her joy to do this for him and it would be his graduation present. Daniel owns the tuxedo today and counts it among his treasures. His mother sounds like a treasure, too.
Thank you to Daniel and Samantha and Miranda for sharing their prom stories. I learned a lot about high school prom in the process; some things are quite different from when I attended my prom. The things that are the same are simple: feeling special for the day and being with your friends to mark the growing up process in a completely unique way. And Ashley? She is holding off on this year’s prom to attend her senior prom next year: she and her friends will instead make a trip into New York City for a special dinner. Sounds good to me!
Credit: Bill Cunningham, The New York Times “On the Street – Tucked In” – Sunday, November 25, 2012
Today’s New York Times Style Section, On the Street with Bill Cunningham, highlights men dressing up and looking very much like the classic dandy. Notice the layering, waistcoats, vests, and impeccable tailoring? Designer Cally’s Kal Rieman is definitely on to something!
Cally is a fashion designer with purpose and a point of view. We met because she happens to have graduated from my Alma Mater, though I am older, but that doesn’t matter, right?! What strikes me most about Cally is not just her warmth and spirit, but also her commitment to her designs and the message she wishes to convey: That women can be every bit as pulled together as a man, and that we can make choices in our wardrobe that empower us and help us stand strong. Cally calls upon the image of a classic male dandy (definition: man devoted to style and fashion) to inspire her collection. In fact, every season she has a dandy inspiration to keep her designs focused. This year’s dandy impetus is the main female character in the classic movie, In the Mood for Love. I sat down with Cally to hear more about her extraordinary story …
Mel: When did you launch your company?
Cally: I launched Kal Rieman in 2009. My first delivery was Fall 2010.
Mel: Did you always know that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Cally: No. I was going in to the business study program and became an East Asian Studies major. I wasn’t raised in the arts. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and was one of five kids. We were into sports and my fashion look growing up was preppy American – Ralph Lauren sportswear. Before J. Crew and Banana Republic modernized their lines, the big store for me was The Limited. It was a cool place to shop! Continue reading →
Vidar was born in Norway and lived there until he moved to upstate New York for Graduate School. From there, he moved to New York City and remained in the tri-state area to live and work and raise a family. Why leave a comfortable and affluent life in Norway? Vidar explains …
“I was seeking somethingthat was the opposite of everything I knew. I left a very comfortable life in Norway because I couldn’t imagine not making my own destiny. My father was self employed and my grandparents were as well. That inspired me to do the same. I was ready to ‘Go West Young Man!‘ … Continue reading →
Rachel and Josh are young newlyweds about to celebrate their first anniversary in November. Full of life and love, they have a unique way of expressing themselves. They joke that Rachel dresses in anything soft and Josh dresses like a kid’s dream of his future self! I just had to know more about these two …
What has been your personal philosophy when it comes to fashion?
Josh: My personal philosophy has always been – is it comfortable? And do I think it’s cool? What’s cool for me is patterned shirts, t-shirts, and chucks*. I design some, but I will wear others. I like an original t-shirt. I try my hardest to make sure my clothing reflects my personality, so that when people meet me, there’s no question who I am. For our wedding, I didn’t feel comfortable wearing JUST a suit; I had to have more of “me” in it. I designed sneakers that Rachel and I could wear together, and Rachel also got me a fantastic vintage monkey tie clip because I collect anything with monkeys.
Rachel: I’m with Josh on comfort, it is very important for me. I have Sensory Processing Disorder, a neurological condition affecting the way I take in sensory information, so if I’m not comfortable, no one is comfortable! This was the case with my wedding dress. I adored it; it was like wearing a gorgeous nightgown. Reminded me of the Great Gatsby, the way they describe billowing curtains in the warm breeze. My everyday wear is not nearly as much fun. I would run around in soft, stretchy, and baggy if society let me. Otherwise, I go for classic 1950s, like dark rolled up jeans, A-line skirts and dresses. Anything to compliment my Mad-Men-esque figure. Continue reading →