Against everyone’s innocent predictions last March, we are now coming up on a full year of life under stay-at-home orders and working from home. And, while dressing as if our video calls were red carpet events (at least up top) was a fun way to delay Zoom fatigue for a few months, it seems that recently, many of us are opting for clothes which come as close to pajamas as the office dress code allows. It is my professional opinion that jewelry, and lots of it, is our nearly effortless solution to the conundrum of less than put together WFH outfits.
It is undoubtedly the case that my advocacy for Zoom-friendly jewelry comes from my life-consuming attachment to jewels as well as my unhealthy quarantine habit of buying pieces at every opportunity, but take this bias as an indication that my taste is flawless rather than as a sign that my emphasis on jewelry is horribly overstated. As pertains to Zoom-friendly jewelry, necklaces are the best investment since your neck is more likely to be visible in a video call than bracelets or rings. And the logic is probably quite clear to those of us who have stopped putting effort into dressing sharply for 8 a.m. team check-ins.
Clothing has to be changed daily, washed after every use, and kept as far away from food and drink as humanly possible, which is asking a lot since WFH means eating and drinking coffee around the clock. High quality jewelry, on the other hand, does not have to be changed daily, can go without washing for extended periods of time, and can be submerged in coffee, marinara sauce, rosé, or any combination thereof without a major problem. A daily necklace of high quality materials is, without contest, the laziest way to appear put together, but why stop at one?
This is where my quarantine obsession, #neckmess comes in. For a few years now, the fun 60s era trend of layering an array of pendant, sautoir, and station necklaces has been back in vogue, championed in part by the iconic Gwyneth Paltrow, who is fond of layering fabulous pieces on screen and off. As demonstrated by the lovely Mrs. Goop, hallmark themes of #neckmess include astrological, zodiac, and nature-inspired pendants that hang from a mixture of glamorously long and intimately short choker chains. Of course, as with everything else in life, jewelry should be fun and personal, so feel free to step outside the bounds of the traditional limits and rock any piece that sparks joy.
For example, my friends at Tiffany & Co. on The Magnificent Mile helped me create the breathtaking neck chandelier that you see above; rather than being astrologically motivated, our creation favored natural motifs rendered in diamonds from the Paper Flowers collection, the Tiffany T collection, and the Elsa Peretti line. And, because this article is really nothing more than my thinly-veiled attempt to get you to flood my DM’s with pictures of jewelry, for god’s sake please send any and all #neckmess photos to @milesfrankliin on Instagram!
The last several months have been the most challenging and uncertain time many of us have ever faced. With record numbers of people losing jobs, students being forced to return home from school, and nearly all of us risking our health and that of others simply to make a run to the grocery store, there is much that appears bleak right now. As pertains to those of us who love to dress and are now stuck at home without a reason to carefully consider our garments every day, self-quarantining can feel like a creative block. Wishing to bring some inconsequential drama back into my life in lieu of the gossip my friends and I would regularly exchange in campus coffee shops, I turned to rewatching John Hughes cult classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles. While watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink in particular, I was surprised to find so much iconic mid-80s fashion on display, and in the spirit of staying at home while still remaining inspired by how people dress, I present the most fashionable characters in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink.
1. Sloane Peterson
Sloane Peterson, played by Mia Sara, was Ferris Bueller’s effortlessly gorgeous girlfriend. Throughout the movie, Sloane is seen wearing a white, cropped fringe jacket with gray above-the-knee shorts and beaded white boots to match the jacket. The cowgirl-meets-Los Angeles aesthetic is completed by Sloane’s light brown leather crossbody bag, and the Cartier Must de Cartier watch that sits on her wrist alongside a delicate bracelet. Combining this ensemble with the demeanor of the character that Sara plays ensured Sloane’s status as an 80s teen movie icon.
2. Jeanie Bueller
Jeanie Bueller’s contribution as a fashionable character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has less to do with her outfit per se, and more to do with her accessories, chief among them being her quirky, angular 80s car (which Ferris is quite jealous of) and her tote bag that she’s seen angrily lugging around throughout the film. Perhaps intentionally, Jeanie’s bag is featured quite prominently in many of her scenes; it’s a glossy black tote covered in large, distinctive patches which seem to be logos of some kind, and the bag itself sticks out particularly because of how dark it is in contrast to her bright pink sweater. Then, of course, there’s her car; a white, 1985 Pontiac Fiero which Jeanie is seen throwing around the road in several scenes, eventually skidding to a halt in the Bueller’s driveway towards the end of the film. Given Jeanie’s brooding and decidedly perturbed disposition, the bag and the car both seem to be more extensions of her personality rather than simply objects she uses.
3. Katie Bueller
As one of Ferris’ responsible and doting parents in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Katie Bueller is perhaps the most unexpected character from the film to make it into an article about 80s fashion in teen films, yet a closer look at her outfit reveals some interesting insights into business casual dressing in the 1980s. Pieces of her look that stand out include her shiny one piece necklace, gaudy earrings, and belt with an asymmetrical geometric buckle (sadly not pictured).
Moving on to Pretty in Pink, a movie which follows a few days in the high school experience of a girl who makes many of her own outfits, it is only fair that we first highlight the fashion prowess of the protagonist Andie Walsh, played perhaps unsurprisingly by Molly Ringwald (a staple in many John Hughes films).
4. Andie Walsh
Perhaps what is so compelling about Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink is not her outfits themselves, but the fact that they had been handmade. The storyline of the movie prominently features scenes of classism and highlights the financial disparity between the students of Andie’s school in frequently shocking, if not terribly nuanced scenes, so Andie’s intricate handmade outfits not only serve to please aesthetically, but also to mock the de facto uniform of the wealthy students. As such, Andie’s outfits are often wonderfully layered and complementary to her sunny yet serious attitude, and the movie culminates in the unveiling of the pink (shocking!) dress she created to wear to the prom.
Iona, the owner of the record store at which Andie works, so perfectly embodies the stereotypical outlandishness of the 80s club kid that her looks end up being unashamedly kitsch, moving wonderfully from one pole of eccentricity to the other. Throughout the course of the film, Iona presents a 50s version of herself (in a pink dress which is to become part of Andie’s pink dress), a version of herself who wears spiked hair and elbow length gloves, and a version of herself who wears white hair and would have looked perfectly at home in a scene from Beverly Hills Cop.
6. Duckie Dale
Finally we arrive at Andie Walsh’s best friend and longtime admirer, Duckie Dale, who is so named in large part because of his duckbill-like white shoes. Duckie’s outfits largely play into his trademark goofiness, his shoes being case-in-point, and ensure that taking him seriously is an impossibility. Ultimately, though, there is still something admirable about the confidence he demonstrates through his wardrobe.
Having made what I believe is far too long a list of fashionable characters from movies by a single director/screenwriter from a time in film that is long past, I hope I have, at the very least, added a few cult classics to your watch list. Now that we’re all stuck at home spending an inordinate amount of time in front of screens, rewatching our favorite films with an eye to how they may have influenced our styles is a whimsical but worthwhile endeavor at any time, but especially today.
It goes without saying that the fashion industry is undergoing a critical moment of self-evaluation regarding its sustainability practices. Almost daily it seems, new brands are emerging with the goal of creating clothing that is environmentally conscious and ethically sustainable. In fact, a quick google search will reveal hundreds of clothing brands at various price points that occupy this new space of “sustainable fashion”. So why, when there are so many environmentally and ethically conscious brands out there, does it seem that this category of clothing has adopted a single, refined aesthetic consisting mainly of earthy tones, simple cuts, and unexciting silhouettes? Wanting to call attention to this self-imposed creative barrier, I looked at three ethically and environmentally sustainable clothing brands with unique visual identities, proving that sustainable clothing does not require its own proprietary aesthetic that visually separates it from fashion more generally.
With a statement about resisting the aesthetics of sustainability on it’s own website, ECOALF sets out with the intention of creating on-trend clothing from recycled materials. Amongst the wide range of products ECOALF offers, are gorgeous and durable winter coats in a variety of shapes and color ways, and graphic tees with provocative imagery and statements. ECOALF also offers a selection of visually interesting, yet functional, bags and backpacks. Happily, ECOALF’s price range is quite wide which makes it accessible to shoppers of most budgets, though it should be noted that sustainably sourced clothing tends to be more expensive, in part because its producers are paid living wages.
At a decidedly higher price point, Matter Prints is a purveyor of sustainable and ethical clothing and accessories that specializes in creating basic clothing in sophisticated but relaxed prints and patterns. Though it is true that the shapes of the pieces are largely uninteresting, the bold, eye-catching patterns applied to the pieces add visual excitement and prevent Matter from falling into the monotony of the traditional sustainable aesthetic.
Having skyrocketed in popularity over the last several months, it is an understatement to say that VEJA Sneakers deserves a spot on this list. Founded 15 years ago after troubling evidence emerged concerning the conditions of shoe production around the world, VEJA has remained committed to producing ethically sourced, environmentally conscious vegan shoes made from rubber and recycled plastic bottles among other materials. Ironically, VEJA is so good at designing and producing fashionable, comfortable shoes, that many people who know of the brand are unaware of its mission of sustainability. In this regard, VEJA is an exemplary sustainable fashion brand that has established its own visual identity without feeling it necessary to make explicit ties to sustainability. Prices for VEJA shoes range between $95 and $200 making them expensive, but not out of the realm of reasonability for sustainable clothing.
There must be a reason why sustainable clothing brands have largely tried to assimilate under a set of shared aesthetic principles, but as was the case with electric vehicle designers working too hard to ensure that their designs “looked electric”, the bid to visually distinguish sustainable fashion from the larger sphere of fashion may serve to alienate customers who care for the environment but don’t feel that it is necessary for their clothes to announce that care. For those who care about the survival of humanity but fear being labeled a treehugger, there is ECOALF, Matter Prints, and VEJA.
Strolling along the world famous Oak Street in Chicago’s Near North Side, one passes the storefronts of legendary labels such as Moncler, Van Cleef & Arpels, Graff, Harry Winston, and Chanel. Historically, an Oak Street address has been a marker of success for jewelers and watchmakers, and it appears that the avant-garde watchmaker Richard Mille intends to keep this tradition with its imminent opening set to occur at 109 East Oak Street. This location will be RM’s sixth in the United States, as currently only Geneva Seal on Oak Street is authorized to sell Richard Mille products, and will further efforts toward solidifying Chicago as a city with an entrenched watch scene. Having little more to go on than a temporary shroud over the storefront announcing its future presence adjacent to Razny Jewelers, perhaps a proper introduction to Richard Mille is in order for Chicagoans.
First and foremost, Richard Mille is known for its aesthetically and materially revolutionary timepieces inspired by and used in Formula 1. In fact, the brand’s founder, Richard Mille, introduced his first timepiece in 2001 after leaving Mauboussin citing creative constraints. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a particular sect of people in watchmaking became discontent with the constant production of watches that were advanced technologically, but all more or less resembled one another. Founded in 1991, it was really Franck Muller who broke the glass ceiling and, with strong sales and famous clientele, proved to the watchmaking world that expensive watches need not necessarily also be serious watches. Owing much to Franck Muller but naturally taking watchmaking to the next level, Richard Mille has from its beginnings been a brand inspired by Formula 1, and this is reflected in everything the brand does, from the naming schemes of its pieces, to sponsoring F1 teams and drivers, and even in its advertisements, where Richard Mille refers to its products as “A racing machine on the wrist”. As pertains to advertising, Richard Mille is famous for gracing the wrists of celebrities from many different spheres, including Margot Robbie, Felipe Massa, Rafael Nadal, Romain Grosjean, Bubba Watson, and Pharrell Williams, with Watson and Pharrell lending their names to special edition RM’s.
At this point, it’s important to address the elephant in the room, and that’s the astronomical price tags attached to any Richard Mille product, price tags which are especially difficult to justify considering that RM is such a young brand. Though any piece serves as a fine example, it seems that the public has been especially shocked by Richard Mille’s sapphire pieces, or pieces like the RM 19-02, an artistic watch which houses a tourbillon complication inside of a flower bud, the bud opening to reveal the complication at the push of a button. The sapphire pieces regularly retail for over $1.5 million U.S. dollars, while the RM 19-02 is not far behind at $1.1 million U.S. Though many would say that there is no explanation for such eye-watering prices, Richard Mille, a company at which each piece is produced through a revolutionary process, with revolutionary materials, and in small quantities, the costs of production are obscenely high. Each sapphire watch RM produces, for example, is machined from a single block of sapphire, taking more than 1,000 hours for the piece to go from raw stone to watch case. Not only is it incredibly difficult and expensive to source such a large piece of sapphire, but the machinery necessary for transforming raw sapphire into a watch case is in itself rather costly. Adding to this the fact that Richard Mille insists on manufacturing unique components, down to the screws, for nearly all of its products, the high cost of entry into this brand is more understandable.
All of this to say, regardless of one’s opinions on how much is too much to pay for an object essentially meant to tell time, Chicago’s watch scene has much to gain from the opening of this legendary, cutting edge marque. Though no official details have been released concerning the date at which the boutique will be opened, it is safe to say that I remain anxious for the not-too-distant day when the racing machine comes to Oak Street.