Train Wreck OSCARS 2011

God. I love the Oscars but…god. How to sum up the night….

Night summary in one image

James Franco seemed either stoned or too cool for emotions, Anne was overcompensating,  the writing was horrid, we were constantly reminded that Titanic actually won an Oscar, we learned Fancy Feast cat food creates marriages, Gwyneth Paltrow can sing flatly, Bob Hope holograms are creepy, Randy Newman  writes the same song over and over and WINS , red carpet dresses can be a SNOOZE, the Academy hates Facebook, the Academy loves the Brits, period pieces and disabilities, and everyone loves ethnically diverse children singing Somewhere over the Rainbow while Hollywood congratulates itself for the 70th time. Oh, and then there was THIS:

no words

Jesus Kirk Douglas not leaving. Look, I love the Oscars. I wanted it to be good. I wanted James Franco and Anne Hathaway to do well. But didn’t you breathe a sigh of relief when Billy Crystal took the stage for those few minutes? Or when Sandra Bullock said a few jokes? Or RDJ? Yes, it was the writing, but it is also comic timing and, well, some people just don’t have it.


However, I think the greatest travesty was the fashion. My friends and I bought snacks and gossip mags – we were armed and ready to quickly judge months of image preparation while stuffing our faces with Doritos in the most hideous of sweatpants. But everything was just… meh. I didn’t even HATE anything vehemently, let alone love things. Pastels, some red thrown in. Here are three of my favorites and least favorites

And my most derivative – I know some people loved this. I hated it. The hair was tacky and reminded me of Julia Roberts….

I know. You disagree. You disagree with Cate Blanchett’s boob circle and Amy Adams’s neckline. I don’t care. I CRAVED different. It’s the goddamn Oscars. Anyways, hopefully this “young Oscars” experiment is over. I am surprised Anne Hathaway didn’t rap. AND, because I am an altruistic SPY, I wanted to leave you with something that actually was hilarious. Tom Hanks doing Toddlers and Tiaras on Jimmy Kimmel after the Oscars.


Happy Oscars!

Ready your wallets: Two new vintage stores open on U Street

Why is it that all the new clothing stores arrive when I have voluntary taken on a life of poverty? Sigh. So goes the life of a SPY. Anyways, for all of you that have a bit of money to spend (this includes men AND women), two stores have joined the U Street vintage fray: Ginger Root Design and Dr. K’s vintage.

Ginger Root Design
1530 U Street NW

I will not talk too much about the story behind Ginger Root Design. ReadySetDC, Quarter life and the Washingtonian have written extensive articles on the shop, and Kristen Swenson, one of the owners, currently appears on the cover of Worn Magazine.  I know. It’s quite a hip little place. Observe:

Photo credits (clockwise from left): Worn Magazine, Washintonian, ReadysetDC, Washingtonian, my terrible camera

Beautiful. I have to add that the owners, Erin Derge and Kristen Swenson, are lovely, lovely people. Ginger Root Design is about taking old vintage clothing pieces and modernizing them for the hip DC set today. Kristen and Erin are usually found sewing in the shop. The collection is very edited, has an excellent taste level and is…wait for it… AFFORDABLE. My awesome oxfords (pictured) were under $30 and in a somewhat large, unnamed size that is usually hard to find. I had to restrain myself. And with inventory that changes regularly, you will too.

Dr. K’s vintage
1534 U Street NW

Dr. K’s opened this past week one door down from Ginger Root Design. It is an adorable and eclectic little place, filled to the brim with men’s and women’s shoes, clothes and accessories. Right now there may even be a bit more men’s clothes than women’s clothes, although Dr. K assured me more merchandise was coming in for the weekend.  Some pics:

These pictures do not have credits because they were taken from my terrible camera

Very cute, non? Their items are stylish and moderately priced (women’s sweater at $30-50), and I especially liked the extensive shoe collection. Dr. K himself reminded me of a salesperson at a Bazaar, opening random umbrellas and encouraging me to try things on. Although I do prefer to shop in the shadows (I am a blogger after all), I gave his enthusiasm a pass. The store is BRAND new. We all can relate.

All in all, I love that U Street Corridor is becoming a vintage design destination. Between Treasury, Junction, Nana, Ginger Root Design, Mr. K’s, Legendary Beast and all the vintage furniture stores, you really can spend a day shopping around.  Sure, the new stores increase competition, but this downside is outweighed by the fact DC really needs hip one-stop-shopping areas like this. Let’s get people to spend a day in Midcity, not just visit a store or two.

Oh no they didn’t: InStyle Magazine takes recession-friendly fashion to a new low

So as my readers know, I read a lot of fashion and gossip magazines. During my younger and more insecure days, I used to be ashamed of this, hiding my People or Us Weekly between the pages of my Economist, pretending to read about aftermath of the Orange Revolution while really just judging Britney’s hideous extensions. However, now that I am older and increasingly apathetic, I have learned to embrace my love of stupid magazines. I heart women’s magazines. I read them ALL THE TIME. Given my devotion, I can spot trends.

One of these trends is recession-friendly fashion. Yes magazines, we get it. People have less money, so you are trying to promote affordable solutions to staying in fashion: do-it-yourself options, revamping your closet, bedazzling tank tops etc. I generally support your efforts. That is, until I saw THIS:

WHA?! Are you serious?! First of all, everything paired with the sweatpants is ridiculously expensive. I would never pair a $487 sparkly tanktop and $298 feather clutch with effing SWEATPANTS. Second of all, if you had little money, how much more depressed would you feel going out in sweatpants? Do they come with a pint of ice cream? They are even in light grey, the saddest color of sweatpants.

Third, InStyle magazine broke a fundamental fashion rule. No matter how poor or sad you are, you never mix home clothes with outside clothes. Home clothes are sweatpants, free t-shirts and croc-like shoes. They are the clothes of couches, no makeup and fug bun. If you are strapped for cash, you don’t want to look like you couldn’t afford jeans, you want cheap jeans that look designer. Nobody feels pretty in stupid sweatpants. Fashion FAIL.

(Oh and as I know many dudes read this blog, I apologize for the fashion-heavy posts of late. Back to restaurants and news tomorrow)

Fall Fashion Faux Pas: 6 Fashion Trends to Avoid this Season

YES. Fall fashion season is here. From menswear-inspired looks and bold prints, to leather jackets and contrasting textures, there is a lot to look forward to this season. However, with these timeless looks also come the stupid trends. You know, those trends that are fickle, ugly, or virtually impossible to execute. To help you navigate through the uncertainties of fall fashion, here are my top 6 pitfalls to avoid this season. Proceed with caution:

1-3: White tights, Peep Toe Boots, and “Unexpected” Fur

1. White tights: what would Brian Boitano do? Probably wear white tights better than you. White tights conjure up one of two images to me: figure skater or catholic schoolgirl. Trying to these combat these cliches without looking tacky (or 90s), is very challenging, especially in the unforgiving light of day. Your only hope is committing to winter white 100%, and that’s a bold move to say the least.

2. Peep Toe  boots: Stupid. This trend was most likely invented by my fellow Angelenos that have no winter (you can also thank us for the “summer scarf”). Is a peep toe supposed to show off tights or are you supposed to endure freezing toes? I am convinced this trend is invented only so people buy new merchandise. Heaven forbid you just wear the ankle boots you already own

3. “Unexpected Fur“: Yes, those were FUR PANTS.”Unexpected uses of fur” basically translates to “add fur to every clothing item possible”: purses, boots, multicolored vests, and crazy coat accents. Now, if you have a bohemian style and love  the ewok vest,  go for it. However please, for the love of Zeus, avoid fur accessories. No matter how cool “fur blocking” sounds  in fashion copy, it will look CRAZY TOWN in practice. Exhibits A, B, and C. Upset? Blame Karl.

4-6: Clogs, Mismatched Prints, and Capes

4. Clogs: You can take a clog out of Holland, but you can’t take the Holland out of the clog. Heeled clogs look like a Candies catalog and normal clogs remind me of tulip farms. No win. Avoid.

5. Mismatched prints: The Sarah Jessica Parker trend. There is always at least one. This is one of those trends you can see SJP rocking on Sex and the City, using designer pieces and flattering frames, but when you try it yourself, you look more like a poor man’s Ugly Betty. If you go here, I would consult a color wheel and stick to nice fabrics. I am serious. Try to get complementary colors and maybe a more neutral skinny belt to tie the patterns together.

6. Capes: Capes are a product of fashion spreads. We envision the waifish caped model riding a bicycle through the streets of Paris. In practice however, you just end up face-caping the person behind you on the soggy metro escalator. Oh, and your arms are cold but if you wear long gloves you end up looking like Cruella de Vil.  No win. Just buy a nice coat with your poncho money.

That’s about it. Beloved readers, anyone care to argue?

DC’s unexpected gem: Fashion Boutiques in Old Town Alexandria

Everyone loves a good boutique clothing district. Those elusive hip areas where you can simply be dropped off to wander for a few hours, window to window, looking at all the covetous displays they have to offer, stopping only for coffee or a glass of wine. Georgetown is DC’s best known shopping district, 14th Street is the new up-and-comer, but old Town Alexandria? Could the land of 18th century vases, Americana knick knacks and neoclassical armchairs also be a center of DC fashion? I mean, one of the three pictures on their shopping webpage is simply balls of yarn. Yikes.

golden retriever couture?

Turns out Mr. Washington’s neighborhood is hipper than I thought. In addition to having a vibrant art scene anchored by the famous Torpedo Factory (Alexandria was named one of the top 5 mid-sized art cities in 2010 by the United States by American Style magazine), the shopping is fantastic. The thing is, 1) most of their best shops are on side streets, not on King Street and 2) most affordable options are hip consignment. Here are my favorites, with plenty of pictures and little copy:

Treat (103 S. Saint Asaph Street):

Treat is an interesting little store. A very small space with a highly edited collection, it is a sample sale boutique. That is, they offer designer brands at sample sale prices they find by looking through overstocked inventory, end of season specials and discontinued designs. Designers are big, Nanette Lepore, Phillip Lim, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Theory and many others, and so are the discounts.  Most importantly, the clothes are wonderful. I have a Groupon and have been saving it for Fall.

Mint Condition (114 S. Royal Street):

Mint Condition is a very cute modern consignment boutique. Nestled in a townhouse with ivy covered walls, the first thing you notice about the inventory is the color. Granted I went during summer, but there were many beautiful colors and patterns set against the well lit space. Items are normally a third of the standard retail value and designers tend to be high end, similar to those found at Treat with big names like Chanel and Chloe scattered about. It’s level of inventory is a perfect middle ground between Treat and Current, and operates on two floors of a townhouse.

Current Boutique (1009 King Street):

Oh Current Boutique. I saw you when I lived in Clarendon and now once again in Alexandria. Current Boutique is a consignment shop. Like Mint Condition, the pieces err on the side of modern, rather than  vintage and there is ALOT of inventory. However, unlike other consignment shops, the whole place is nicely organized by size. The brands range quite a bit, from BCBG, Alex & Olivia and Diane Von Furstenberg to more mainstream pieces of Anthropologie and Free People. The prices are often between $50-$100 for dresses, so not expensive but not super cheap either: a cute but deadly combination.

Diva Designer Consignment (116 South Pitt Street):

Diva is probably the most eclectic of the boutiques. A consignment-vintage store made out of a refurbished townhouse, it is 3 stories of clothes and accessories hanging in every possible open space. The whole place is warm and inviting, but is a bit all over map in terms of style,  so be warned, its gems require a bit more digging than the others, especially if you venture into the basement sale section. There are also tons of pictures of Diva, the little dachshund for which the store was named. A nice, personal touch.

Finally if you are not already shopped-out, Hysteria carries big name brands like Nanette Lepore, at regular prices. The selection is exquisite, but very expensive. Further afield (not walkable from Old Town), Periwinkle also carries beautiful designer clothes and is worth a look. Even if its just the sale rack.

Thanks to the boutiques’ websites and facebook pages for the photos! And Alexandria for the retriever couture pic!

Charm boutique: Cute, eclectic and affordable jewelry (and in Georgetown no less!)

Gasp! It’s true. And no, I do not mean ‘Georgetown affordable,’ i.e. a boutique of $950+ pieces with ‘affordable’ $35 key chains and plastic bracelets in a bowl by the cashier’s desk. I mean, when Jaclyn Mason, the owner of Charm, said “I wanted to have a jewelry store in Washington that catered to everyone, to have a store packed with jewelry and accessories from $18 to $3,000,” (the Georgetown Dish)

She meant it. It really does have everything. I picked up these earrings and bangle for $50 and $38 respectively:

(And yes, I juxtaposed my new bangle with current bangles for effect)

GORGEOUS. You see, Jaclyn knows a bit about boutiquing. She started Wink clothing boutique down the street with her sister (although Wink falls more into the “covet” than “purchase” category) and now at Charm, gets her inventory from all over the globe. The interior is quaint and painted white, to show off the wares, like so:

(Second photo from the Georgetown Dish)

You should stop in! You are SURE to find something. Oh and Charm, coincidentally, also rounded out a bird-tastic week for SPY. You see, in addition to the mockingbird events of this morning, my biology SPY brother landed a job researching bowerbirds in Australia (congrats spyinthesky!) and I helped Charm get a rogue sparrow out of their store.

Satin bowerbird collecting items for his bower. They MUST be blue

It’s random, but true. The poor little guy somehow got into Charm and was sitting, petrified, on their beautiful white chandelier when I came in. Meanwhile, the nice store clerk was peering at the sparrow, also petrified, from the hallway. After a couple failed attempts at bird herding (the bird kept flying into the window instead of the open door, I mean COME ON), we finally herded the little guy out to freedom.

The day was saved, they offered me a bird herding discount, and I got new jewelry. Score!

Charm, 2910 M St., DC, 20007, (202) 298 0420, website

Rounding out U Street Fashion: Nana and Rue 14 Boutiques

Happy Thursday readers. So as I was  working on my “spy map” page yesterday, i.e. the only psuedo-useful part of this blog, I realized I left two of my favorite boutiques off the U Street Corridor list: Nana and Rue 14. I know, these stores are not new. Nana was even voted DC’s best boutique in the “Best of 2010″ awards. However, I NEED to finish this arbitrary list I made up. So go my neuroses. Humor me.

First, Nana. Now I have blogged about Daisy Bandera-Duplantier, one of Nana’s main jewelry designers (j’adore)  but never Nana itself. Nana’s lovely wares:

Yes, the style is a bit vintage and a bit whimsical, in a Parent Trap-meets-Anthropologie sort of way. All of Nana’s designers are environmentally conscious, which makes you feel good about your purchases, and the store maintains a rack of carefully edited vintage as well. The staff is also nice…VERY nice. They always remember me when I come in, which is good in theory but terrible in practice because, confession, although I often covet Nana’s wares, I rarely BUY them. Oh the guilt! It’s just that a $130 skirt is alot for a SPY in the public sector. Although, the striped dress (pictured) is only $99 and dangerously cute. They also stock lovely Hobo International accessories.

Secondly Rue 14. Rue 14 is a nice complement to Nana. Some pictures: 

So while in Nana you will be confronted with small designers you may not know, Rue 14 mixes those small outfits with mainstays like Free People and Penguin. Their collection is contemporary and casual; a mix of stylish basics and more bold designs. The owners wanted to make an affordable NYC boutique for DC, and that’s what you get. It’s 50-50 split between women’s and men’s fashions, and the prices are comparable to Nana (perhaps slightly cheaper).

So basically, you go to Nana for vintage-inspired, Rue 14 for contemporary-casual and Point Chaud for a nutella-banana-crepe snack. Oh, and Midcity Caffe for an iced coffee, they are EXCELLENT. Nana and Rue 14 are at 16th & U St, and 14th & S St respectively. Spy Map in the works!

Summer style inspiration: movies we grew up with

Just wanted to include a link to brighten your day. Design Sponge, one of the best fashion blogs around in my opinion, does a segment called “Living In” where they showcase classic movies and fashions inspired by them. The movies are wonderful and the “inspired by” fashions are even more so. I obviously covet the idea. Here are some summer movies and links:

Living In: The Parent Trap


Living In: 16 Candles


 Living In: Stand By Me

Oh, such good movies, such good fashion. It’s this stuff that makes me love the summer, even in the DC crazy crazy heat. Click on the headers for more photos, it’s worth it!

Judging the Hat-tastic Royal Ascot 2010

So I was going to write on something DC related, I really was. However, as I was checking, my go-to blog for judging celebrity outfits, I happened upon the AMAZINGNESS that was the Royal Ascot.   

The Royal Ascot is a horse race. It occurred this past weekend. But no readers, it is not just any horse race, it is THE snootiest of snooty horse races. Yes, of course it’s British. The Queen was in attendance, the photos show absolutely no minorities, and the dress code for the invite-only “Royal Enclosure” area is as follows:   

Her Majesty’s Representative wishes to point out that only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator will be acceptable. Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and miniskirts are considered unsuitable. Gentlemen are required to wear either black or grey morning dress, including a waistcoat, with a top hat.    

A goddamn top hat. You couldn’t MAKE this up. Oh? And what is a substantial fascinator you ask? Not sure, but I am assuming it is something like THIS:   

1) Life is like a box of HAT


 YES, that was worn. Along with these 7 others to be judged for the title of Grand Hat Supreme. And they are….   

Continue reading

I challenge you, hipster Seersucker Social

self-described "alt-retro socialites" socializing

How? HOW is it so easy to predict these things? Honestly, if someone played a word association game for “fancy hipster garden party” here is what I would have come up with: vintage bicycle, ironic mustache, suspenders, snifter, fancy hats, faux fur. As a test, I also asked ironcityspy his opinion, to which he replied “the Great Gatsby.” Or as we know it, the 2010 DC Dandies and Quaintrelles’ Seersucker Social:

(photos courtesy of DCist)

The Dandies and Quaintrelles is a DC fashion club and the event was this past weekend. Sigh. So much…TRY. Look, I am not saying some of these people don’t look awesome. I mean, who doesn’t admire this commitment? But there is something about the concept: the trendy faux-antique photos from last year’s tweed ride, the finger sandwiches, the croquet, the ray bans, the fact that half of DC owns seersucker for serious, that makes it so… predictable.

The Decemberists would be proud

Afterwards, I half expect them all to ride their tandem bicycles to a food truck, take some vintage-contemporary juxtaposition photos with said truck, and ultimately end up at the Gibson laughing over fancy cocktails.

So with that in mind, my DC fashion avant-guard: I challenge you.

DCspy, the man in black

I challenge you to surprise me. That’s it. Muster your fashion-forwardness and come up with a costume party I could never predict through word association. If you succeed, I will give credit where credit is due and be less curmudgeonly towards your hipster-sensibilities. If you do not, throwback costumes, bicycles and PBR remain fair game.

Good luck, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England. I will be watching.