Are You A Fashion Maven or a Fashion Victim?

Having a style is about knowing who you are and knowing how to see. You can't do one without the other.

You Think This is Easy?

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the difference between fabulous and frumpy comes down to how the garment is made. What looks great on the runway is going to look like hell from Wal-mart, once you have the eye to see it.

Killer Shoes?

What makes this work and not that? Why is something fabulous and not something else? We aim to find out. Because money doesn't create taste, an education does.

I Wrote a Book.

It's a murder mystery from inside the fashion industry. You might like it.

» fashion

What Fashion Manufacturing and Book Manufacturing Have in Common. Or Not.

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment

I’m not a journalist, and this is an opinion piece. You’ll find some non-journalistic wording and non-absolutely-accurate stuff in here. Like I used “collusion” below and that may not be the same as “anti-trust.” I may have to correct stuff as I go. Mea culpa in advance.

Watching the media report on the DoJ investigation into price collusion between publishers is fascinating stuff. The hue and cry over where people get their books from, and the government intervention over what is basically a form of entertainment is so far removed from what happens between businesses who deal in something we all need — clothing.

The Seattle Times started it, with the LA Times and NY Times picking up from there. Those are the three I read, I’m sure there are more, and what occurred to me today is…why?

Why is the DoJ interested in protecting book prices? Why do they care? Why, during a fierce election year, do the biggest papers in the nation feel the need to dedicate so much space to this issue? Is it possible the publishers are whispering in their ears? But why, when they have the world at their fingertips?

Publishers are lucky ducks.

1) Bob-mart squeezes clothing manufacturers on price after the garments are on the boat with a Bob-mart tag on them. In my opinion, this feels a lot like extortion, and though I imagine it is possible with physical books, it is impossible with e-books. There is no boat. Discounts may and will happen (as is the issue with Amazon) but if the publisher doesn’t like the price, they can pull the product. Try doing that with ten thousand dresses on a slow boat.

2) Federated (now Macy’s) releases a calendar that forces designers to create a line 12 monts ahead of delivery. Because they’re so huge, everyone makes it happen and cries success. Every other department store falls into line and every year the calendar becomes more onerous, while the customer is looking at old crap designed a year ago. With e-books, you can write and release in half the time as a physical book. The customer is happy, and discounts and chargebacks are reduced. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that was fashion manufacturers are dying for? I’ve attended dozens of meetings with the urgent goal of shortening the production calendar, and here’s big publishing trying to defend a two-year calendar. Did they miss a meeting or something?

3) The trend right now is to avoid the wholesale calendar entirely and open your own clothing store, a costly endeavor, but with an easier calendar and no chargebacks. But publishers have an even easier option. Their own web stores. I know authors who do it in an evening. What’s stopping St. Martins from doing it? Sure, it’s not as convenient as Amazon, but if every big publisher sold e-books direct in all formats, my guess is that software that netted all participating publisher purchases into one cart would not be far behind.

4) Target and H&M have reduced garment prices to a nub by taking advantage of the first law of production, which states, the more you make of something, the cheaper it is. Mom and pop boutiques can’t buy ten thousand dresses, so the same dress costs more. If you want to be a big player, you have to move huge units. And if you want to move huge units you have to be a big player. Big publishing makes 30 dollar physical books and wonders why they’re not selling Target/H&M volumes (no pun intended). You simply can’t move millions of units at that price. This is not rocket science.

5) Every day I deal with factories that can’t sew an armhole right five times in a row, and publishers don’t want to commit to e-books, which have zero wasteage? I don’t know what I’d give to have a product that only has to be made right one time and then sold repeatedly.

Guys, wake up!

The world is your freaking oyster.

I really like this article on manufacturing and the blog is pretty good too.

What to Do To Maintain a 50 Hour Work Week

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment

No pictures here, and a quick post.

My assistant wants to take a single tech pack that services like, five different artworks, across two deliveries into five separate tech packs. A request I denied, because it would create make work, when there is actual work to be done. But I do enjoy her persistence so. I actually like people who argue with me. (and I especially like her. No you cannot hire her away from me. Stop sniffing around.)

But it got me thinking about my first trip to Hong Kong in 1994.

We sat in a windowless room after all the sweater graphs and layouts had been hand done (I was actually a designer at the time) and we did the graded specs. We did them with thin Sharpies and white out, and after the first few hours we had tape all over our fingers because our hands were cramping so bad.

As you can imagine, the rule at the time was to keep as few points of measure as possible, because you were going to want your arms amputated at the wrists after the HK trip, and what did you need more points for anyway? You had to write that shit by hand and it was not a joke by the time you were done breaking out XS-XL on 200 styles.

So, then computers became the norm, and you’d think, my god, not having to write all that by hand, not having to graph each stitch by hand, not having to hand write faxes, think of the TIME that will save.



Now we have to do in 7 pages what we used to do in 2. Now we just break out five tech packs for one style instead of finding  a way to simplify it.

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law. It’s like gravity.

Work Expands to the time available for its completion.

I say that if we stopped spinning our wheels around, if we stopped prioritizing dotting i’s and crossing t’s over getting the job DONE, we could break the law, and work three days a week. But we don’t want to work 3 days a week. We want to justify our existence in the office, and our bosses wouldn’t consider granting us a shorter week because, by gum, they’re paying us, right?

The problem is we don’t respect our own time.

I think the issue is bigger. I think it has to do with the way we treat our partners in China, but that is a different post entirely.

The Problem with Fashion Design – Part 1

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and sweaters were made with a 45/55 ramie cotton blend. Back when working with China meant Hong Kong and not Huagzhou. Back when Bush the first was in office, I entered the fashion industry.

This is what I looked like:

I worked at a bar and was transitioning into fashion. I bought the jacket used from a biker for 100 bucks.

Wasn’t I cute? The jacket I’m wearing was a Shott Perfecto, made in the USA. Unbelievably, I just checked and found they’re still made here. I expected a completely different answer. And this answer has changed what I’m going to talk about.

Currently, this jacket’s running $580. How does this relate to the fact that it’s made in the US? It’s not a joke. A living wage for a skilled worker who knows how to sew leather is probably around 40K+ per year. Consider also that they’re made in New Jersey, which ain’t Kansas when the cost of living is calculated. It’s great that they keep their manufacturing close. We love it! We love the Made in the USA stickers and we love thinking about how awesome they are, Woo hoo!


Are you paying $580 for a leather jacket?

It’s gorgeous. Really.

No? Not shelling out that kinda cash are you?

How about this one? Sixty bucks. Much cheaper. I have no idea where it was made but at that price, you don’t care right? Why, you can wear the thing twice and not feel like you’ve wasted a penny. And isn’t that what we want? To wear something twice and forget about it so we can buy the next thing?


What To Wear When You’re Quite Mannerly and Quite Unemployed

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog, Literary Outfits | 4 Comments
The Manners Doctor goes to Sherwood (Limited.)


Button down shirt
$298 -

Ralph Lauren Collection suede leather coat
$7,000 -

Burberry black blazer
€698 -

Alexander McQueen pencil skirt
$660 -

Stella McCartney high heels
$459 -

Helen Kaminski rain hat
$98 -

Jil Sander silk scarve
330 -
Camilla Randall is a US manners columnist in a state of rapid downward mobility. She’s lost her job and nobody’s interested in her book but some outlaw publishers in the wilds of Lincolnshire. She arrives at Robin Hood airport with nothing but the couture on her back. She wore the Lincoln Green trench in honor of the setting, and the Stella McCartney boots, Alexander McQueen skirt and Burberry jacket to honor her host country. The Jil Sander scarve is one of the few accessories she hasn’t sold at a resale shop. She thinks her life is about to improve now she’s met her new publisher–the charming, self styled Robin Hood who owns the place. But she couldn’t be more wrong…
Anne’s blog is a must for writers. Do check it out regularly.
Her books can be found on Amazon. Here’s her author page which will get you all the goodies, including Camilla’s current adventure, Sherwood, Ltd.

Matte’s Where It’s At

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment
Matte Matters


Vince sequin top
$435 -

Pamela Love red jewelry
$198 -

Black bangle
$13 -

Nixon crystal jewelry
$60 -

FOSSIL rose watch
$135 -

Button jewelry
$40 -

Button jewelry
$40 -

Button jewelry
$40 -

Ellis Faas ‘E103′ Creamy Eyes
23 -

Nixon Timeteller PU Matte Black
$100 -

I want to talk about matte stuff. Meaning, no shine.


   [mat]  Show IPA adjective, noun, verb,mat·ted, mat·ting. adjective

1.having a dull or lusterless surface: matte paint; a matte complexion; a photograph with a matte finish.
But I don’t want to talk, because I wrote this long post a couple of weeks ago and now I can’t find it and that it really frustrating. But the point was this. Technology drives fashion. You can’t DO matte black until you can MAKE matte black. So what happens is that usually, the factory figures out how to do something, they show designers and designers implement it.
Designers no longer drive the overall aesthetic.
In this case, everything in the known universe is going matte black and zippers and rivets have just caught up. Why haven’t fabrics? Because the technology isn’t there. If it was, it’d be in the stores already.
For me, the greatest missed opportunity in fashion right now is matte chenille and velour/velvet.
Matte satin — also not a bad idea. But I’m not seeing it.

It's matte black. The WHOLE THING.

Sample sale find but…check it out.

Who could be so hip that they have matte black windows? Heh.

This Is Why Men Hate Fashion

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment

This is a reboot of a post I did for Mark Williams International Digital Publishing

This Is Why Men Hate Fashion


I’ll send three mental images your way.

1)    A man slouches on a couch outside dressing rooms, waiting for his girlfriend to exit. He looks like he’d rather be dead, or chewing razor blades, or simply watching football.

2)    A man in a suit, outside the bathroom. His wife exits wearing something either obscene or absurd, twirls around and says, “how do I look?” The man in question doesn’t have to answer. We know he’s in trouble.

3)    A man stands stock still as a woman dresses him in something ridiculous while she squeals about how fabulous he looks.

These are all a beer commercial waiting to happen, and we have bought them in their entirety. I hate beer commercials because they play on gender stereotypes and expectations. This is a huge injustice to men everywhere, and it’s the reason most of the men in America dress like laundry sacks.

Worse, runway shows specialize in making men look like slim, asexual fourteen year-olds, while men’s magazines mention clothing as an afterthought to the barely-dressed women on the cover. The backlash is not only understandable, it’s should be expected. Fashion has been marketed as a “girl’s thing” and sports as a “boy’s thing,” and like normal human beings we follow along.

I know, you’re saying you’re different. Fine. You’re different. Are all the men in your life like you? (If you’re gay, and all your friends are gay, please don’t answer. Gay men get this right already. We need to bring the straight boys along with us, gentlemen).

So I want you all to choose a t-shirt. Go on the internet or look in a catalog with the intention of buying a nice t-shirt. I know what you’re saying. “I wear t-shirts in the yard or to hang out with my buddies I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a t-shirt.” What I’d say to that is, a t-shirt can change the way you look, and you don’t have to change t-shirts for the yard, but it’s you’re leaving the house at all, you can affect an enormous difference by not looking like a sack of crap.

First. Ladies. If you’re in on this process, stop squealing. Do not squee. Do not fawn. Do not seduce. At the first sign of any feminine behavior, you will lose his interest. This is borderline clinical. Act like a surgeon over an open heart.

Second. Gentlemen. That little twisty part of yourself that associates looking good with being less manly? Take charge of it. Go with me here. It won’t hurt, I promise.

I want to start by showing you what a t-shirt should NOT look like. I mean it’s so bad the model looks like he’s cringing.


Why is this so bad, you ask.

Why, indeed.

Look at those sleeves. He looks like a slight breeze will send him flying away. There’s a good four inches of excess fabric in there. This is bad. Worse, the outsleeves are hiking. The outsleeves are the outer edge, on the sleeve fold. Do you see how the sleeve opening angles down in toward the body? This is a no-no, and it’s making him look like a big trapezoid.

Now I’d like to direct you to the placement of the shoulders. They’re way down on his arm! Which, honestly, would be just fine if the sleeves weren’t flappy-dappy.

Which brings us to the biggest problem. Because the sleeve balance is something easy to see and obvious. But the less obvious problem is proportional. The chest fits really nicely, and when you buy something online, it’s the chest you’re buying against. You look at the chest measurements and you compare to your body measurements, and there you go! A chest that fits with these big stupid sleeves. And that’s why you need the big, shoulders, to make these two pieces to the puzzle fit together. If the shoulders were the correct size to the proportion of the chest, they’d be narrower.

But he’s wearing two different t-shirts. One fits (the chest) and one doesn’t (the sleeves).

So, why is it this way?

Part of the reason is that the customer’s gotten sloppy and doesn’t care (yes, I’m talking to you). The other reason is that those sleeves are easier to sew than sleeves that fit. In order to get the curve of the armhole to fit around the body, a bunch of cool easing and stretching techniques have to be used so there’s not four yards of fabric in the armpit. But if you make big shoulders and a straight-ish armhole, you can sew a million of them consistently and sell them for ten bucks each.



This is better. At least he doesn’t look like he’s going to fly away. The sleeve openings are level to the earth and the shoulders hit in the right place. And though the chest still fits, to be honest, the sleeves now look too small for the body, proportionally. And there are draglines on the sleeve (little vertical creases) caused by a poorly balanced sleeve cap. Fixing that is another whole order of patternmaking and sewing though, so you can ignore me.


This is the nicest-fitting t-shirt I’ve seen. The sleeves are tight, which makes it good for wearing a jacket or sweater over it, and the shoulders are just where they should be. The problem of course is that it’s generally too tight. It’s also short. You can see how high it’s falling on his crotch.


OK, so I went looking for a Guess tee, because they fit better than 90% of the men’s tees out there (disclaimer – I was employed by Guess and yes, worked on the men’s t-shirts). But this one is not good, and led me to something else I wanted to point out. When you buy a graphic tee that’s really soft and has these cool stitches and stuff, be aware they are beat to hell in the production process. Dyed, washed, printed, dyed and washed again. One medium likely won’t fit like the next medium. So you get one like this, that’s about an inch and a half too short, and the stitching on the sleeves didn’t shrink at the same rate as the rest of it – so you have these bizarre ruffle/wing things at the cuff.


OK, this one looks good. I mean I could pick it apart, but I know you guys don’t want to spend an hour in the dressing room, with your girlfriends sitting outside wishing you were watching football.



Winners of the Holiday Blog Hop!

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog, Literary Outfits | 2 Comments
I’ve been asked to post the winners…and here they are:
I have to tell you, I was having some organizational issues.
I got results from the judges based on the polyvore sets, and some had emails and some didn’t. Some put them inside the set comments and some were in the blog comments. Some had names and some didn’t. Sometimes the name was in the blog and the email was with the set. It was kind of frustrating. Like herding cats. Next year, I’m using a form.
Big winner: (no name)
Winners of print books (Ash Breen)
Winners of eBooks (Kimberly) (name is Jenn Gruenberg) vargo) (craig smith)
Christina Busby

Holiday Blog Hop!

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog, Literary Outfits | 27 Comments

Honestly, I’m as lost as you are. I’m just doing what the voices on Indie Writers Unite tell me. And what they told me to do, is to set up a giveaway with prizes and a fun contest. Well, I love all that, so here we go!

Start here and when you’re done, hit that icon over to the right. The green sunshiney one. Hop around to all the different blogs and do some contests.


This is a fashion blog, so we’re doing something fun and fashionable. We’re creating outfit sets. Now, don’t be scared or turned off if you’re a guy. One, if you leave me an email address in the comments section, or on my  facebook author page, you’re entered into a drawing for one of 5 free ebooks. So if you don’t want to do the fashion thing you don’t have to.

But you should. Because it’s fun and if you have a sense of humor, you can really have a blast being anti fashion. And if you do a fashion set you can win a print book (or a hat and scarf set from Guess? but if you’re a guy, well, maybe it’s not for you)

Okay, enough.

Go to and sign in.

ID: bloghop

password: iwubloghop

Go to Create up on top there. Click on “SET.”

Make me something. Leave me your email address in the set comments. You can publish it or save it as a draft. I and the judges will see it in either case.


We have celebrity judges!


Dominic Sabella

Dominic is design director at Tommy Bahama. He’s been a fashion designer since…well, I won’t say. What I will say is that he has a wicked sense of humor and a sense of style that’s just about as spot-on as it gets.

Emily Ellerbeck

Emily wrote a bio. But what I want to say is I worked with her for 5 years at Guess and not only was she the bomb to work with, she got my baby daughter the single best outfit she owns. It wore out before she grew out of it.

Combining her love for warm weather and fashion, Emily packed her bags and moved from a cold winter in Iowa to sunny Los Angeles in 2000.  She has applied her passion for knitwear design to successfully design for companies such as global retailer Guess, and premium lifestyle brand Dylan George.  Although knitwear design is her first passion, she also makes time for SPX fitness classes, walks with her darling Pomeranian, cooking, and dinners out with her amazing boyfriend.


Right on!

If you choose not to do a polyvore set, you’re still in the running for one of 5 ebooks of Dead Is the New Black, and one surprise mystery to be gifted through Amazon or Barnes and Noble (your call).

If you do a set, it gets good. Our judges will pick the top 6 sets. Five winners will get a print copy of Dead Is the New Black. One winner will get a fabulous hat and scarf set from Guess?


Nope. You’ll also be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire. yes, a real live piece of electronics that I myself chipped in to buy. So you know I want one of my peeps to win.

I hope you enjoy this contest! Best of luck!


How To Not Ruin Your Jeans

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | Leave a comment
How your should wash denim - not at all


You need to freeze them. Because the wash technique that makes them look so beautiful washes out, and that sanding effect on the butt and thighs has weakened the fabric to the point where washing them is just ruination.

Now though I knew about washing destroying jeans, I didn’t know about the freezing thing, and since I no longer have a chest freezer full of breastmilk, why not have a chest freezer full of denim?

I wanted to try it this week but my husband did the laundry before I could tell him to stop. So next week, I’m freezing mine. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Here are some interesting articles on the subject:




What to Wear to the Apocalypse (if the Apocalypse Involves Dragons)

Posted on by xtine in Literary Outfits | 4 Comments
Rain Mauri - Dragon Wars


MuuBaa genuine leather jacket
330 -

MICHAEL Michael Kors patchwork jeans
$120 -

Jeffrey Campbell studded shoes
$240 -

All For the Mountain cuff jewelry
$230 -
It’s 25 years after the apocalypse, so you can’t exactly pop down to your local House of Targét for the latest designer knock off.  What’s a girl to do?

Rain Mauri is a Tracker for the compound of Sanctuary.  That means comfort comes first.  Don’t want to break a heel while exploring underground bunkers or fighting off dragons.  Rain can usually be found sporting a pair of well-worn jeans, a beat up old leather jacket, and some seriously kick-ass boots.  Not to mention a little homemade bling.
Who says the Apocalypse can’t be sexy?
Dragon Warrior is available at
Read Shea’s story here.