What Leandra Medine Thinks About Dressing With Originality

Krista Anna Lewis for Man Repeller


When I started my blog 7 years ago, there was an outstanding young writer starting a website called Man Repeller. That writer was Leandra Medine; Man Repeller has become a multi-media business and in my opinion, a global fashion masterpiece. I follow it – and Leandra – religiously – to this day. In fact, when Fashionista interviewed her in NYC a year ago, I ran to see her and wrote about it on TFIO.  So now, I feel like I know her! Leandra spoke to InStyle Magazine about what it means to be an original – her words are so comforting, I happily share them with you. Here is Leandra Medine on dressing originally:

There’s a quote attributed to Coco Chanel that often turns up on Facebook profiles: ‘In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.’ I’ve read it so many times that in spite of its underlying message—be original—it’s become, ironically, completely unoriginal.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We’re taught as kids to follow our heart and our gut, not what popular opinion recommends. Only when we’re truly one of a kind, we’re told, will we be destined for greatness.

But is this concept overrated? I’m tempted to think so. To be original, according to the wise oracle Google, is to be an eccentric, unusual person. Continue reading

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Ooh, I Need Those Boots!

Photo: AKM GSI

One of the joys of getting older is having a better sense of your style; in practical terms, that means making fewer impulse buys and costly mistakes when it comes to buying clothes! I have come a long way, especially in the last few years – in terms of buying clothes more efficiently (and happily!). So that when I wake up in the morning I look at my closet and know that most of the clothes I select will feel like me. I have come a long, way, yes, but … there is still that moment ….

You may know that moment; you could be flipping the pages of a magazine, or catching a television show, or even a movie. You see an image, a look, a moment, and you say to yourself, “I love that ____! I really need it!” In my case, I had my moment checking out a site online and reading about Malia Obama, who is currently working as an intern for film producer Harvey Weinstein, in New York City. Apparently, she is very fond of a pair of lace-up caterpillar boots and wears them often. So often that she is photographed styling them in every which way (with dresses, with leggings, and in this photo, with jeans). I scanned the pictures and it happened … I said to myself, “Ooh, I need those boots!”

I checked out the Caterpillar website and I seriously considered it. But, then I realized that what really inspired me was the feeling in the photos -the thrill of working in New York City and the on-the-street excitement. It wasn’t that I needed those boots particularly. In fact, I am the wrong age to be wearing them with short dresses and leggings – but I was taken in. The power of suggestion is strong and hard to pass up. I guess that’s why we all get sucked in with a good advertising campaign.

My trick is this: sit with it for a moment – if the feeling goes away, pass on the clothing. If it doesn’t – grab it and wear it!

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Fashions of the Times


I have been under the weather and homebound these last few days. One of the ways I am cheering myself up (as my brother used to say!) is to turn on Turner Classic and watch old movies. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 thriller, The Man Who Knew Too Much, was particularly riveting. The story involves a British couple who become inadvertently involved in a political assassination plot and learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet. In typical Hitchcock style, it’s a thriller where the authorities cannot be trusted and the husband and wife are left to figure things out on their own and unsupported.

I loved the suspense, but I of course, was mesmerized by the fashions of the times. The year was 1934: women’s hairstyles were pin-curled and framed to the face with a softness, and eyebrows were pencil-thin. I noticed the soft, satin gowns and dresses, accentuated with flowers, probably gardenias. And lots of fur. Reading up a bit about the style of the 30s, it was probably a reaction to the more boyish, flapper styles of the 1920s. The men in the film wore fine suits that were well-tailored, with topper coats, mostly trench, to carry out their espionage. I wouldn’t recommend getting sick to catch an old movie, but if you happen to find yourself with free time sit back and watch the fashions of the times come to life.

Photos from 1934 Film The Man Who Knew Too Much


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The Juicy Backstory of Lilly Pulitzer’s Designs

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 - Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 – Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

The story behind the fashion is the most interesting. And it seems there is always a story. This one is juicy – literally! I recently read that Lilly Pulitzer’s original designs were a means of covering up juice stains! Lilly Pulitzer was a New York socialite who eloped with Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, full-time (which was unheard of in her social circles at the time). The story goes that Pulitzer opened a juice stand in Palm Beach – from the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves. But when stains from the fruit found their way on to her clothes she designed a cotton sleeveless shift dress splashed with bright colors – pinks, yellows, greens, and oranges – to disguise the messy stains! The original dresses in her collection were called “Lillys” and their simplicity and style grew so popular that they became the go-to uniform for resort-goers, socialites, and celebrities. One especially famous friend and former schoolmate, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, was often seen wearing Lilly Pulitzer’s colorful sheaths. Eventually, Lilly Pulitzer opened stores up and down the East Coast. And the rest … as they say … is history.

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960: Courtesy Lilly Pulitzer


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My Off-The-Shoulder Blouse is Made Well!

Optimized-P1050926Optimized-P1050931Optimized-P1050935After a long search, I finally found an off-the-shoulder blouse that feels right. It took a lot of sorting and examining, and simply – trying on. Here is what I discovered about wearing this hot summer trend:

– off-the-shoulder blouses and dresses absolutely require that you stand straight and use your best posture

– I prefer this style blouse with a cover flap at the top. I found that the style without the flap was less flattering and simply hung on the body, without much shape

– although I had my mind set on a dress, off-the-shoulder blouses are just as versatile, and perhaps even more so, in that you can wear them with several options

I chose this white eyelet blouse by Madewell for its simplicity and style. I feel good about my choice. You?

Blouse, Madewell; sandals, Tory Burch; denim shorts, Kohl’s – Photo by Abrina Hyatt


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Celebrating British Vogue at 100!

Bo Gilbert, 100 year-old model, Photo by Phil Poynter

Bo Gilbert, 100 year-old model, Photo by Phil Poynter

I always liked keeping myself looking quite decent, even if I wasn’t going out. I try to keep the standards up. I dress to suit myself – I certainly don’t dress up for boys.” ~ Bo Gilbert, 100 year model

Harvey Nichols, the London department store, debuted a very special campaign to celebrate British Vogue’s 100-year anniversary in May – starring Bo Gilbert, the first 100 year-old model to be featured in the magazine. “We devised a campaign that reflected the playful attitude Harvey Nichols is famous for, celebrating both the 100th Anniversary of British Vogue and also style in its entirety,” commented Shadi Halliwell, creative and marketing director at Harvey Nichols. Photographed by renowned fashion photographer, Phil Poynter,  the campaign was featured exclusively in its centenary issue.

Bo Gilbert was the perfect choice to celebrate what it means to be a timeless fashionista; someone who loves fashion and dresses for herself. In the accompanying documentary film, which shows the journey of Gilbert’s Vogue fashion shoot, Gilbert shares how she loved wearing hats (and misses that women don’t wear them now), the styles of the 1950s and the first time she saw a lady in a trouser suit, and her deep fondness for Audrey Hepburn. Says Gilbert, “I love wearing nice things – it’s always appealed to me, and it still does,”

Celebrating beauty at every age. I’m buying it! Happy Birthday Vogue … and Bo Gilbert!




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A Personal Wedding Dress Story!

Whitney Houston's Marc Bouwer Wedding Dress

Whitney Houston’s one-of-a-kind Marc Bouwer Wedding Dress

Another dress. Another auction. She was not a princess. She was a mega singer – and one of the best in the world. She married at a time when her voice was everywhere on the radio. But this singer and this wedding will always be much more personal to me. Because the singer was Whitney Houston – and she was my next door neighbor. While the world was listening to her on the radio, I was listening to her from my backyard, recording music from her own studio. No one could ever know what hearing that stunning voice meant to me. When my parents were invited to her wedding, my heart started singing. I will always remember my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law, unapologetically situating ourselves at the entrance to her house, watching the cars enter and waving and talking to the guests – until the sun went down.

Yes, the story of this wedding dress is very personal.Whitney-Houston-Marc-Bouwer-Wedding-Gown-up-auction-1

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Prince’s Purple Reign

Courtesy T Magazine:

Courtesy T Magazine: Liu Heung Shing/Associated Press

The news of Prince’s passing last week brought images of him to the forefront of our minds. The Washington Post described this one-of-a-kind person and performer and his striking looks: “Prince was pretty — with his coiffed curls, magnificent afro, blow-outs and shag. He was not a performer who wore his clothes like armor. He didn’t hide behind them. Instead, no matter if he was slipping into a chiffon shirt, a fringed jacket or a purple metallic redingote, he was stripping himself bare. He expanded the language of menswear. It didn’t have to be stoic, he-mannish or boho. A man could be raunchy, beautiful and divine.” Prince took the color purple and owned it – he wore high heels often. He fearlessly wore elements considered the ultimate in femininity and turned them into maximum masculine sex appeal. Prince challenged the ideas of gender with attitude and bravado. His purple reign was epic and will live on …

AP Photo: Prince in concert, 1985.

Associated Press

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A Fashion Show for my Mom

photo 2-2

I spent my younger days shopping with my mom. In fact, I spent the sweetest part of my life with her next to me in the dressing room. As soon as I hit my teens she would take me to shop for myself; I remember visiting jeans stores where I would try on colorful bell-bottoms and Huckapoo shirts (it was the 70’s!). My mom would also take me to her favorite shopping spots; stores like the then-small boutique, Ann Taylor, where I learned more about young designers and style and dressing from the most stylish woman I have ever known. Continue reading

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Ellen: “I dress to express not to impress!”

Ellen Lubin-Sherman

Ellen Lubin-Sherman – Photo by Chris Jorda Photography

I met Ellen Lubin-Sherman recently at Talbots; she had come to shop for a white blouse for a friend. After spending just a few moments with her it was clear to me that Ellen was sophisticated and talented with exquisite taste and a strong sense of self. Ellen knew what she liked and how to express herself through clothes. We had a conversation about why she loved Japanese fashion, the necessity of having a proper tailor in one’s arsenal, and why, when it comes to style, labels aren’t what matter most. Here is more from Ellen …

MKG: What is it about Japanese fashion and its fashion culture that you find so appealing?

EL-S: I fell under the spell of Japanese fashion about six years ago. I was visiting L.A. and stayed in Santa Monica. I discovered a marvelous shop called “Weathervane.” Evidently, the owner has a love affair with Japanese designers and my ace saleswoman/stylist introduced me to the concept of wearing pieces that don’t accentuate the body but rather establish an idiosyncratic look that’s original and quirky. I’ve been “quirky” for the last 10 years in terms of my style but these clothes — the oversized shirts, the selvage baggy jeans, the unfinished hems on a skirt — spoke to me.

MKG: You spoke to me about the fact that Japanese fashion is made without labels; why is this important to you? What has happened to American culture, that we follow labels?

EL-S: I totally get it when it comes to wearing a label. It’s comfortable, non-threatening, and indicates the kind of money you can spend on a handbag or a pair of glasses or a shirt. These “labels” are, unfortunately, a result of insecurity. It’s hard to wear clothing and accessories that don’t “shout” your financial wealth. Most of the designers — Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Kate Spade — make a deliberate effort to keep the labels front and center. They’re very much aware that people prefer to be in a “community” of like-minded people so they feel as if they belong. Clothes that are label-free are what I call “stealth.” They’re under-the-radar and mysterious and confident. Continue reading

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