Monday, June 30, 2008

I want a vintage Gucci bag for fall.

LA Times - Style Profile - Molly Ringwald: Pretty in Pucci

The actress rocked the 1980s with her vintage cool, but she's no slave to fashion nostalgia.
By Monica Corcoran
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 29, 2008

IT'S BEEN 23 years and Molly Ringwald still has a regret about her "Breakfast Club" days. Her off-screen romance with Anthony Michael Hall? Hardly. The fact that she originally wanted to play Ally Sheedy's quirky role? Over it. She bites her lower lip ruefully and shakes her rusty auburn curls.

"Now, I wish that I kept those boots," she says. "I loved those boots."

Who didn't? The lace-up Ralph Lauren equestrian boots that grazed her freckled knees in the film became every teen girl's tantrum-inducing must-have in 1985. (Just ask my mom.) As did her other unique looks, from the fedoras and chunky bangles in "Sixteen Candles" to the lacy flapper dresses and crimson pout of "Pretty in Pink."

Ringwald's style goosed fashion circles and high school social cliques alike. She was an antidote to '80s "power dressing" and empowered the eccentric social underdog. Bypassing the mall for a musty Salvation Army became de rigueur and certified vintage as cool. Preppies traded their Tretorns for high tops; cheerleaders ratted their bangs.

Even today's style mavericks -- think Agyness Deyn and Chloë Sevigny -- nod to Ringwald's on-screen style as inspiration. Entertainment Weekly just named the Picasso-esque prom dress she wore in "Pretty in Pink" as one of the 50 pop culture moments that "rocked fashion." Last year, New York magazine announced, "Ellen Page is the new Molly Ringwald."

"I never thought of myself as a style icon," says Ringwald, who still peppers her dialogue with sighs and thoughtful "ums." "I wore all that vintage because my parents kept me on an allowance, and so I shopped on Melrose. My style was based on necessity."

Now -- like it or not -- the shocking neons and tank dresses and graphic prints of the go-go decade are back. And so is Ringwald, 40, who just returned to L.A. to costar as a mom -- egad! -- on "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," a new ABC Family show that debuts Tuesday from the creator of "7th Heaven." It's been 17 years since she sold her house on Mulholland Drive, packed seven suitcases and high-tailed it to Paris.

"Not to be sappy, but people have been so warm and embracing that I feel like this prodigal daughter," she says, sipping green tea at Jin Patisserie in Venice, where she has settled with her husband, Panio Gianopoulos, an author and journalist, and their 4-year-old daughter, Mathilda. "I went and took pictures of my old family house in the Valley and it's fun to go by the old dry cleaners and the diners."

Growing up, moving on

AH, THE storied past. In 1986, Ringwald -- then 18 with Cheetos-hued hair -- beamed on the cover of Time magazine. A reporter trailed her to the Galleria and to Melrose Avenue to document her whirlwind retail whims. She tried on $49 suede granny boots at Comme des Garçons, which probably caused seismic style waves. Back then, a crop of young girls copied her signature look -- think Madonna meets Diane Keaton -- and called themselves "Ringlets."

Her quiet exodus from L.A. came five years later. Though she turned down the lead roles in box-office bonanzas ("Ghost" and "Pretty Woman"), she says that she wasn't thrilled with the material that came her way and wanted to goof off. "I never felt that I could make mistakes and be ridiculous here," she says. "I went to Paris to do that." There, she also learned French, got married to her first husband, Valery Lameignere, and starred in a few not-so-memorable American films and dabbled in French cinema. She later divorced and migrated in 2002 to Manhattan, where she headlined in stage productions of "Modern Orthodox," "Cabaret" and most recently, "Sweet Charity."

On this afternoon, Ringwald decides to browse the shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. She fits right in, looking casual in jeans, a floral Nolita de Nimes blouse and Sigerson Morrison wedges. Her own style icons are unusual picks: the avant-garde artist Cindy Sherman, who directed her in 1997's "Office Killer," and Charlotte Rampling.

"My own personal style is pretty eclectic," she says, name-checking Marni, Mayle, Pucci and edgier New Yorkers including Todd Thomas and Rachel Comey as favorite designers. "I used to wear so much vintage. Now, I am more streamlined with my look."

Don't expect to spot her in lace gloves or fuchsia frocks on her new TV show either. "Her look has some retro flair, but we stayed away from pink on purpose," costume designer Sherry Thompson says. "She's current and wears feminine looks in a colorful palette of blues and greens."

'Is that . . . ?'

TO SAUNTER down the sidewalk alongside Ringwald is a trip. Some passersby squint -- "Is that really her?" -- whereas others smile dreamily, awash in their own nostalgia. She's like a Proustian Madeleine. Paramount Vantage recently capitalized on this Molly Ringwald effect by marketing its new documentary "American Teen" with a movie poster that mimics "The Breakfast Club" poster, right down to those Ralph Lauren boots.

And though teen angst may be timeless, Ringwald doesn't think a modern-day meringue of a movie like "Sixteen Candles" would resonate today. "The fashion and insecurities aren't different, but I think that AIDS and Columbine really changed the teen experience," she says. "I can't say that I have seen the latest teen movies. I don't really have any interest."

Ringwald pauses to admire a ruffled, fuchsia Shulami minidress at the boutique, Principessa. She still favors pink, a color that makes most red heads cower. "Makeup artists always said I shouldn't wear red lipstick because it would clash with my hair," she recalls. "So I wore bright red lipstick all the time." Down the block at Equator books, she picks up two vintage-art books, one on Juan Gris and the other about Fernand Leger, for her husband.

For now, the family is renting a modest house near the beach. Ringwald furnished it herself, relying on EBay and Craigslist for mostly Danish and midcentury modern décor. "You should see people's faces when I show up in Buena Park to look at some furniture. I just drive around, freaking people out," she says, laughing. She lingers for a moment to eye a plaid pinafore dress in the window of a children's store.

"I put all my vintage, beaded dresses from the '80s in a storage space for my daughter," she says, gleefully. "Of course, she will probably only want to wear jeans. But she's going to have these amazing clothes -- if she wants them."

But, alas, not those boots.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lacoste is always cute. Old & new.

Found this blurp over at - Jennifer Romolini's eBay Obsessed Blog -

Replacing My Hoodie with Something More Practical (and Equally Immature)


I got trapped in one of those terrifying, this-must-be-the-end-of-the-planet thunder/hail storms last week, and then another hit right after that, and then another—on the beach this time, far away from a house with nowhere to hide. Picture_2 While I'm not really all that afraid of getting hit by lightning, the whipping wind and the sideways rain get me every time. Not to mention the fact that I'm usually wearing a soft, thickish hoodie, which, after five drops of rain, becomes about as useful in a storm as a sopping wet towel. But I am going to change all this by trading my sweatshirt for a cool vintage windbreaker like this or this or this, which will not only keep me dry, but will weirdly make me feel strong and sporty too.

Currently selling a fabulous vintage Lacoste Kelly Green Windbreaker on eBay - also featured in my Etsy shop this week!

Take me out - Chopsticks

Recently made a bundle of hand painted chopsticks in carrying cases for a friend! Posted a few sets on Etsy last week.

Shopping at secondhand stores can be good for wallet, environment, cluttered closet

By Samantha Critchell/The Associated Press

Monday, April 14, 2008

WESTPORT, Conn. — Go ahead, visit a secondhand store: It’s good for your wallet. It’s good for the environment. It might even be good for your cluttered closet.

On a recent shopping spree, $88 scored three outfits, including an of-the-moment safari-inspired Max Studio wrap dress with the tags still on it, and a pair of Calvin Klein shoes with soles that have never touched the ground. It also spawned good intentions to bring to Goodwill several unworn items that hang in the closet two sizes too small.

The mission: to find clothes that represented current fashion trends, even if the clothes themselves weren’t new. Since what goes around comes around in the world of fashion, you can always find old styles that look fresh even if “vintage” isn’t your look.

The savings could be significant, if relative. A Gap safari-style jacket in khaki twill was $9.99 from Goodwill, a two-piece Carolina Herrera evening outfit that would normally have a four-figure price tag was $275 at Designer Label Consignment.

Joleen Higgin, a teacher from Redwood City, Calif., recently scored a full-length cashmere coat for $10 and new Salvatore Ferragamo boots for $50.

For her, it’s not just a bargain, it’s a pleasant shopping experience. Sifting through rack after rack of used clothing may not sound like a good time. But many secondhand stores are laid out like a typical retail store — and the merchandise can be similar, particularly if you scour wealthy areas.

“I often go as a way to wind down from work,” Higgin said. “It’s kind of like ‘Cheers’ ... They all know me, it’s a friendly environment.”

Laurie Perren, owner of the four Roundabout Designer Closeouts & Consignments stores in Fairfield County and neighboring Westchester County, N.Y., said that some of her top consignors do their shopping in Europe and want to be the first to wear something. That means the following year, when they clean out their closet and bring the item to her, the garment actually is in line with the trends.

On the flip side, only the most fashion-conscious people would notice the difference between this year’s pinstripe Dolce & Gabbana pantsuit from last year’s “except it’s $450 here instead of $2,500.”

Perren also receives from boutiques brand-new merchandise that didn’t sell the first time around. She encourages her customers to visit traditional luxury retailers, such as Barneys New York or Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, and then come to Roundabout to appreciate the savings.

At the Children’s Cottage in Ridgefield, a consignment store specializing in children’s items, owner Maura Sullivan said she sees a ton of unworn clothes because either the children didn’t fit into the items or the seasons never aligned with a growth spurt. She also gets a lot of dressy clothes that children need for that one big event and never again.

“I have such a big collection of navy blue blazers,” she said with a laugh.

But she also sells a lot of blazers, along with communion and flower girl dresses, because parents don’t want to spend big bucks on something children will wear once.

Sullivan said it’s not uncommon for customers to either call before coming to see what’s available or to ask her to keep her eye out for something specific — say, a pink raincoat, size 6.

But Barbara Lindsay of Palo Alto, Calif., said she has more success by just browsing.

“I mostly buy clothing, but I always look at accessories, furnishings, dishes, knickknacks, all of it,” she said. “I go sporadically with my daughter because we love bargains.”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Home Made Butter Sounds like Fun!

Article from

Can't wait to try this! Wonder if it stays fresh as long as store bought?

We found plenty of online resources for making butter and they all focus on one thing: shaking your groove thing. That's right, making butter involves lots of shaking which is really fun for kids. It can be tiring so the more kids you have on hand to share shaking duties the better. (If you're in a hurry, you can always use a food processor, but really now where's the fun in that?)

Okay, are you ready for the complex instructions?

  1. Find a jar with a lid.
  2. Pour in heavy cream and close lid.
  3. Shake
  4. Keep shaking
  5. Realize your biceps aren't what they used to be.
  6. Hand off shaking duties to a child.
  7. When the cream has thickened and become, well, buttery, drain off the remaining buttermilk (around 20 minutes depending on fitness level or number of child helpers).
  8. Refrigerate to harden a bit.
  9. Serve to friends and brag!

That's the basic gist of it. There are some variations (adding a pinch of salt for one) and you can find tons of instructions by plugging in "make butter" or "homemade butter" into any web search engine. Or, if you're lazy, you can check out Oishii Eats or Instructables.

and another recipe:

D.I.Y. Butter
about 1/2 cup
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

Whir the cream and sour cream in a food processor for about five minutes. (Alternately: shake energetically in a Mason jar for about 15-30 minutes.) After the cream becomes thick and clotted like whipped cream it will suddenly start spattering against the top again as it clumps into yellow butter. Whip until the butter has formed a solid yet grainy mass.

Put a small mesh strainer over a bowl and pour everything into it. Refrigerate the liquid; this is buttermilk and it will last for several days. Use it for pancakes, or Pecan Cake, or Meatballs with Buttermilk Gravy.

Put the butter in a small bowl and rinse under very cold water until the water runs clear. You want every bit of the buttermilk removed; any left clinging to the butter will cause it to get sour and bad overnight.

When the water runs completely clear squeeze the butter inside a clean paper towel or cheesecloth until dry, then turn out into a crock or small bowl. Mash in the salt, if using. Refrigerate and use within a week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

She's Thrifty

Thrifty Hint of the Week:

If you're a college student shop Goodwill Thrift Stores on Thursdays - Show your College ID and get 10% off! However, I'm not sure if all Goodwill's offer Student Discounts - Check your local store.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Awesome Father's Day Project!!!

Father's Day : Rolled Hem Handkerchiefs
Article from the Purl Bee:

- One 1/2 yard cotton fabric makes 3 hankies (or at least 12 1/2-inch square per hankie)

Here are the fabrics we used from top to bottom:

* Fabrics with a pattern that you can follow as you stitch make the process easier. It helps keep your stitches a consistent distance apart when you can use the pattern as a guide. Once you cut the fabric square, the pattern isn't always perfectly square to the edges, but not to worry, a little irregularity contributes to the lovely handmade feel.

You will also need:

Posted on June 3, 2008 by Registered Commenterpurl bee | CommentsPost a Comment

Rolled Hem Handkerchiefs: The Pattern


Cut Fabric

Square up your fabric and then cut to 12.5 inch x 12.5 inch squares. If you need help with this step, please see our Rotary Cutter Tutorial.

The finished handkerchief size is approximately 12-inches square.



We chose to sew some of our hankies with contrasting thread for a more fun look (as shown above and throughout these examples). Others we made with thread that matched the ground of the fabric to give a more subtle look.

Keep in mind that when you start this project that the first one might feel a bit awkward, but don't be discouraged. As you continue you'll get the hang of it!

Roll Edge


Hold the fabric with the wrong side facing you. Roll the edge of the right side of the fabric towards you between your moistened thumb and index finger. (You can just lick your finger as if to turn a page, but if this is unappealing to you just summon your inner bank teller and have a wet sponge at hand to moisten your finger.) Roll approximately 1/4-inch of fabric. Be sure that its tight enough so that it feels secure and also so it won't reveal itself after the hanky has been washed several times.

Create Hem

Thread your needle and tie a small knot at the end. You can make the thread long enough to go around the entire hanky so that you don't have to deal with a lot of knots which means using a piece of thread that is at least 55-inches long, or you can use several lengths that are around 18-inches long. Do whatever is easiest for you.


Place the needle into the end of the rolled edge as shown above and come out about 1/2-inch away to make the first stitch. Pull needle through.

Catch approximately 1/16-inch (or 3 or 4 threads-worth) of the body of the fabric just where the roll meets the fabric. Pull needle through.


Insert the needle back into the roll a few threads to the left of where you previously came out as shown above.


Run the needle through the roll for approximately 1/2-inch. Bring the needle back out of the roll and again catch approximately 1/16-inch of the fabric. (If you are using a contrasting thread and want the stitch to become part of the decoration on the right side of the hanky, you can make the stitch length slightly longer. When using a matching thread you may choose to make the stitches as small as possible.)

Continue in this way along the entire length of one side of the hanky. Stop approximately 1/2-inch before the end. To make the corner, roll the perpendicular side of the hanky just as you did the first side. This time you will have the roll of the first side contend with, but if you roll it tight it will make a neat edge. Stitch the rolled corner down using the same stitch technique that you used above.

When you come to the last corner, secure the thread by making a small knot and popping it into the inside of the hem then repeat. You won't want the hanky to come unraveled while your dad is in the middle of using it!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Appetite for endurance: '80s, '90s bands big sellers

Decades later, vintage Gun ’N Roses, AC/DC, Nirvana albums still big sellers
The Associated Press
updated 2:35 p.m. ET July 24, 2007

NEW YORK - Much of the rock 'n' roll and pop canon is well established.

Buying the albums of ’60s and ’70s acts like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley is akin to a rite of passage for any young music fan. These are the artists that baby boomers love to keep buying, and with whom seemingly every teenager at some point experiments. (Remember A.J. hearing Bob Dylan for the first time in the "Sopranos" finale?)

Now that the ’80s and ’90s are ancient history, what albums are people still buying from those decades? Do critical favorites like Radiohead and the Pixies grow more popular with time? Or do the Backstreet Boys and Madonna still rule the charts?

The short answer is that, above all, people are buying vintage Metallica, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Guns 'N Roses and, well, Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

AC/DC's "Back in Black" (1990) last year sold 440,000 copies and has thus far sold 156,000 this year, according to the Nielsen SoundScan catalog charts, which measure how well physical albums older than two years old are selling. (All figures for this article were provided by Nielsen SoundScan.)

Those "Back in Black" numbers would make most contemporary CDs a success. Metallica's self-titled 1991 album is altogether the second-biggest selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era, which began in 1991. "Metallica" sold 275,000 copies last year.

Bon Jovi's 1994 "Cross Road" last year sold 324,000 copies, while Guns 'N Roses "Appetite for Destruction" (1990) sold 113,000. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" (1996) continues to be a holiday favorite; it was bought 289,000 times last year.

Greatest hits compilations are counted as catalog releases, and account for the majority of vintage best-sellers. Artists that commercially peaked in the ’80s or ’90s that have had lucrative best-of collections include Garth Brooks, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tim McGraw, Creed, Queen, Tom Petty, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Lionel Richie.

U2, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Dave Matthews Band and the ever-touring Jimmy Buffett also all continue to sell large amounts of old records.

Michael Jackson, of course, still has one of the most desirable back catalogs. His best-selling "Thriller" moves more than 60,000 copies a year and his "Number Ones" collection yielded 162,000 sales last year.

Avid fans may be buying everything their favorite artist puts out, but there's more than nostalgia fueling vintage sales.

"Young fans aren't excluded from catalog sales — especially the ones who really get interested in music, there's always that sense of discovery," says Geoff Mayfield, the director of charts at Billboard Magazine.

Not everything maintains long-term success. Asia's self-titled 1982 album was the biggest seller of 1982, but only sold 5,000 copies last year. Whitney Houston's 1985 debut, also self-titled, was 1986's top album, but now sells about 7,000 discs a year.

The same trajectory has befallen past mega-hits like Ace of Base's "The Sign," Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" and the Spice Girl's "Spice." Though one of the best-selling artists of all time, Mariah Carey's self-titled debut sold a measly 5,000 copies last year. The Backstreet Boys' "Millennium" managed only 9,000 sales.

Alas, the turning wheel of fortune isn't always kind to boy bands.

"The only thing that kept coming to mind to me was that line in the Bruce Springsteen song: ‘Someday we'll look back at this and it will all seem funny,'" recalls Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke.

Now, some critical hits that were trounced on their initial release by the likes of 'N Sync can claim a measure of commercial superiority. The Flaming Lips' "Soft Bulletin," often hailed as one of the best albums of the `90s by critics, sold a solid 38,000 copies last year.

Radiohead's legendary "OK Computer," currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, last year sold 94,000 copies. Nirvana's "Nevermind" has done even better; it sold 143,000 copies in 2006.

Events can boost sales of old albums
Current events can alter the charts. When Ray Charles died, his older albums spiked for months, says Mayfield. A new album from Alanis Morissette would surely increase sales of her 1995 disc "Jagged Little Pill," one of the best selling albums of the past 20 years.

Likewise, recent reunions of the Police and Genesis can be expected to increase sales of their catalogs. The Police's 1986 compilation "Every Breath You Take" has already doubled its already strong 2006 sales by selling 107,000 copies so far this year.

Many well-regarded albums continue to do healthy business, including: U2's "Joshua Tree," Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," Beck's "Odelay," Wu-Tang Clan's "Enter the Wu-Tang," the Clash's "London Calling," Weezer's "Weezer," and the Pixies' "Doolittle." Each sold at least 20,000 copies last year.

Still, many albums that are consistently revered on critic top 10 lists of the ’80s and ’90s have not sold much. Joy Division's "Closer," the Smiths' "The Queen is Dead," My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless," and REM's "Murmur" all sold 12,000 copies or less last year.

Labels often reissue classic releases to capitalize on the devotion of die-hard fans and to attract a new audience. In the past few years, revered indie label Matador Records has released Pavement's first three albums, including "Slanted and Enchanted," a disc frequently ranked among the best in the `90s.

"It's almost like a new release for us," says Matador founder Chris Lombardi. "We probably sold in a one-year period, pretty much what those records sold in their first year period when they were initially released."

Though hip-hop continues to rule today's charts, many of its most historic albums don't enjoy the catalog sales that those from rock's heyday do. Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" sold 15,000 copies last year; Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" sold 22,000; and Run DMC's "Raising Hell" sold far less than both.

So far this year, catalog sales are down 11.7 percent, but that's stronger than overall sales, which are down 14.7 percent, according to Billboard. It's a major portion of the music business. This year's total catalog sales of 95.6 million copies accounts for about 40 percent of all albums sold physically.

When people switched from cassette tapes to compact discs, catalog sales received a windfall as people re-bought their collections. The onset of digital downloading hasn't had that affect because CDs can easily be downloaded to your iPod.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has pegged catalog downloads as 64 percent of all download sales in the U.S. (Apple declined to share its iTunes data on catalog sales.)

That still leaves illegal downloads unaccounted for, as well as a more important quantity: cultural impact. Though bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones and Public Enemy may never sell as much as other acts, their influence remains immeasurable.

"Impact is not strictly about sales," says Fricke. "Otherwise everyone would be running around forming bands that sound exactly like Poison."


UK shuns designer wear for thrift

UK shoppers are avoiding potential "fashion victim" purchases by turning to cheap chic instead of designer clothes, a new survey indicates.

It appears shoppers would now rather use supermarkets, Primark, Matalan, or Etam, than fashionable designer stores.

In fact, half the 2,000 people taking part in the Morgan Stanley survey said they had hidden designer-clothing buys.

Londoners remain proudest of high-price outfits, while those in south-west England are most proud of thrifty buys.

The bank said more Britons were now looking to be "clever shoppers", with 85% saying they were more likely to show off something they paid a pittance for than an item they had splashed out on.

And among women of all ages, four-fifths have been most proud of bargains snapped up at supermarkets, with the likes of Tesco and Asda taking an increasing share of clothing spending.

'Affordable clothing'

Only teenagers appear to be hanging on as willing "fashion victims" - happy to show off their stylish buys to their friends.

But, as age takes its toll, it seems most Britons lose their interest in 'haute couture' - with the survey showing that by their 50s only one-third can take a pride in having designer wear.

Patrick Muir, of Morgan Stanley Consumer Banking, said: "Quality items are now so accessible, whatever the budget, and we are seeing some of the country's top designers producing affordable clothing ranges for the supermarkets and department stores."

While those in the People in the South West are most likely to be proud of a bargain, the Welsh are said to be most likely to revel in finding a large reduction at sales.

Those in Londoners were most likely to be pleased with labels, with the majority telling friends when they bought designer clothes.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/18 08:18:20 GMT

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Getting Dressed

One way to keep up with the economy is to keep your eyes on the runway.

Sameer Reddy
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 12:16 PM ET Jun 3, 2008

Over the past year the windows of high-end Manhattan department stores have exhibited a remarkable uniformity, with most of the sculpted mannequins clad in variations of one particular style: the dress. Heralded by stories in glossy fashion magazines and in the style sections of major newspapers, it has descended, like manna from retail heaven, designed with the masses in mind. Long, short, loose, tight—it's helping to keep women interested in fashion at a time when sales figures have begun to lag, alarming indicators that the economy is slowing down.

Sartorial trends signify more than just simple material desires. As retail marketers know, they're linked to socioeconomic cycles. In times of uncertainty the most appealing apparel functions as a panacea; bursts of color and conventionally flattering shapes can soothe our troubled minds. This year would certainly qualify as spectacularly uncertain. The stock market rides up and down like a high-speed roller coaster, while the dollar drops ever lower. The U.S. armed forces remain mired in Middle Eastern conflicts. And the economy is in, or is dancing close to, recession.

The dress is the most traditional form of Western female attire. Pants became popular as a symbol of women's lib, and the denim and casual separates that became best sellers in the '90s were options that symbolized postfeminist empowerment. But the dress has remained an almost primal marker of female identity in the postmodern world. Its multiple variations—flowing, body-conscious, mini, sheath—accommodate many different identities while simultaneously bringing to mind more traditional times, when America was still sitting securely on top of the world. "The dresses that are selling definitely have an air of innocence about them," says Cesar Padilla, an owner of the New York designer vintage boutique and showroom Cherry. Padilla works with many of the industry's best-known designers, who come to him to source inspiration pieces. "They're a solution to dressing that expresses feminine values without necessarily being formal. The contemporary woman seems to be reacting to modernity by returning to simplicity and femininity, as opposed to the in-your-face working woman in a power suit."

Fashion, by nature, is about perpetual change, which raises the question: what comes next. This question in the context of fashion is not much different from the question policymakers are asking. The next shift in fashion trends will signify more than just hemlines. It will also potentially signify the direction in which the economy and the social mood are headed. If the prevalence of the dress is a reaction to our collective unease, then a shift to more unorthodox styles might signify greater social security.

What might those unorthodox styles be? Horacio Silva, features director and online director of T, the New York Times Style Magazine, ventures a guess as to where fashion, if not society, is headed. "The retro trend cycle is so much shorter these days, which makes predicting the future a lot harder," Silva writes in an e-mail. But "if the ineluctable forces that have shaped fashion in the past are any indication, the current 'dress moment' will be followed by two divergent aesthetics: the cerebral and the sexy."

Though trend forecasters would have us believe otherwise, no one can definitively say what the next economic upswing will look like. Previous cycles of prosperity have yielded minimalism, deconstructionism (which originated in the '90s courtesy of Japanese innovators) and the body-conscious style of the early '80s, defined by the skintight designs of mavericks like Azzedine Alaia. And the next round might revert to some of these established forms, or blaze an entirely new fashion trail.

For the time being, however, we're preoccupied with grasping for any kind of safety we can get our hands on, even of the symbolic, knee-length variety. In our society's current state, the cerebral and the sexy are luxuries we seem not to be able to afford. After all, who can appreciate the avant-garde or fully escape into hedonism when the party atmosphere of the American economic landscape is evaporating before our eyes? But sooner or later things are bound to stabilize, with new styles emerging as part of this societal shift. Recently the talk among fashion editors has been about their hunger for harder-edged, more androgynous styles that don't portray women as delicately. (Market observers might want to keep their eyes peeled for women in black leather jackets and knee-high boots.) If George Bush's recent prediction that "the economy is going to come on" proves true, then things might butch up as soon as the next round of runway shows this fall. If he's right, women will find themselves faced with a host of innovative options that are more diverse than just the dress. And if not—well, there's always next season.