Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: DIY

Helpful hint: Make men's hats fit better -- with Velcro

Resize a hat with VelcroAlthough the first rule of wearing a hat is to make sure it fits, when you've received the chapeau as a gift or stumbled across a stylish, but ill-fitting fedora at a flea market, that's not always an option.

That was the case with the brown beaver-felt Borsalino I've owned -- but rarely worn -- for about a year now, since it's a size 7 1/2 and my noggin is a size 7. (You can determine what your own hat size is by wrapping a tape measure around your head at the place where your hat usually rests (roughly half an inch north of your eyebrows), the number of inches is your U.S. hat size. If you lack a tape measure, a shoe lace or string can be used and then measured against a ruler. (If you don't have shoe laces, string or a ruler you probably can't be trusted with a hat either.)

Over the last 12 months, I've half-heartedly looked for the foam hat-sizing tape the Carmel Hat Co. used to adjust the size of my straw Scala hat, but to no avail. One month I did run across an online resource that sells the stuff in bulk though I'd need to buy more than a dozen oversized hats to make the purchase worthwhile. I also ran across an interesting discussion in one of the many men's hat blogs (oh yes, they exist) in which one commenter claimed that professional hat-sizing tape was actually nothing more than 3M weatherstripping tape -- something I've since been told, by a professional, is not true.

Eventually I sought the expertise of the folks at Los Angeles-based Louise Green Millinery who referred me to their preferred hat rehabilitation expert, a fellow named Dave Temple who owns the Clever Vintage Clothing boutique at 117 W. 9th St. in downtown L.A.

Temple, who says the hat business -- both sales of new ones and repairs on old ones -- has been up over the last six months, stocks the tape and says he'll gladly sell customers a hat's worth. "It usually costs less than $5," he said.

Temple also offered a DIY solution. "Sometimes just buying some Velcro is easier," he said. "Get the long strips with the self-stick backing, and peel the sticky backing off the softer, fuzzy side [as opposed to the "hook" side], and put that inside the hat with the sticky side facing away from the head."

(Although Temple was referring to the fabric hook-and-loop fastener invented by George de Mestral by its most well-known brand name, other brands will work equally as well in this instance.) 

This morning, on my way to work, I picked up  a package of Scotch brand reclosable fasteners at the local Rite-Aid and followed Temple's advice, tucking the fuzzy strip inside the inner band of the Borsalino, effectively decreasing the hat size a half an inch.

Total cost? $3.59.

Being able to say I use Velcro to keep my hat on? Priceless.


Nail care basics for men 

Helpful hint: Rehab a damaged men's hat with fly-fishing flies

Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: A U.S. size 7 1/2 Borsalino hat, left, was made to fit a size 7 head by using the fuzzy side of a package of Scotch brand hook-and-loop fasteners. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

Your Stylist: Tips on having a super chic pregnancy

NicoleChavezLast week I ran into celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez (her longtime clients include Rachel Bilson, Kristen Bell and Scarlett Johansson) at an event for a designer and was totally inspired by her super chic pregnancy style. Chavez is seven months pregnant and on that particular evening was clad in a long, soft pink Vanessa Bruno dress, a cropped black jacket and festive fur collar. The dress fell elegantly against her baby bump and the black jacket cinched in her smaller top half creating the right proportion between her belly and the rest of her body.

“I always thought I’d wear muumuus when I was pregnant, but I quickly realized that’s not the case at all, it’s more flattering to wear fitted clothes.” Says the stylist, who describes her pre-pregnancy body as petite and curvy. Chavez has eschewed maternity clothes and managed to stay in mostly designer and on-trend pieces thanks to her top tips in looking stylish while seven months pregnant: tailoring and using helpful tools such as a Belly Belt (a piece of stretchy fabric that fastens into jeans to extend the waist) and bra extenders to self-alter her existing pieces.

“I’ve been able to wear a lot of my old clothes by adding fabric or elastic at the waist,” says Chavez who also buys mod style dresses at Zara and Topshop a few sizes up to accommodate her belly and has the arms and upper back altered to fit and highlight her smaller top half. “After [pregnancy] you can have the middle tailored to fit you. Tailoring is key so then you can wear these clothes again.”

FertileMindopaque-maternity-tights-packagingChavez advises first shopping your own closet to see what pieces can stretch or be tweaked to work with a growing belly and changing body. “You can probably get a lot out of your closet. Take the stuff that absolutely won't fit away and put the stuff with elastic, stretchier fabric and A-line silhouettes to the front of your wardrobe. Try playing with those kinds of items. You can add elastic to some skirts. There are ways to get around it, you just have to be creative,” she says.

She also applies these rules to her clients. Chavez recently styled a pregnant Jessica Simpson and used a lot of Dolce and Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli items for their stretchy fabrics and fun, bold prints. “Dolce's a great brand for pregnancy because a lot of their fabrics are stretchy and many silhouettes are fitted and have a v-neck, so you really can see the bump and the body.” She adds that Jessica Alba also wore a lot of Dolce and Gabbana clothing during her last pregnancy. If the Italian brand is out of your price range, Chavez also loves Topshop, Zara, Fertile Mind and the long, colorful, light cotton wrap skirts found at the flea market.

She emphasizes focusing on proportion when getting dressed up and recommends looking for cropped Fertilemindbellybelt jackets to cinch in a dress on top or otherwise,going longer with vests or cardigans that hit below the waist, creating a more elongated line. “A jacket or sweater really has to be higher or lower than your belly for the most flattering shape.” She says. Empire-waist dresses are a good option for getting that smaller on top, roomier through the middle proportion. Chavez buys empire-waist dresses from department stores and has them taken in through the side of the arm so there’s no potentially unflattering billowy fabric.

Aside from altering clothes to fit her changing shape, Chavez loves to use accessories that she says have nothing to do with the baby bump but really work at adding stylish flourishes to an outfit. Her go-tos are fur and faux-fur collars that loosely fall around the neck and add some drama to a blazer or simple dress.

Opaque black tights from Fertile Mind are also a huge help as they smooth and support the belly area while adding a nice layer to dresses and skirts, both long and short.

“I think you have to be really flexible and realize that you are not the size you were, but you will be again. Be patient and focus on what fits and looks good,” Chavez says. “It's definitely the ultimate fashion challenge, but it's been really fun.”


Your Stylist: An easy 1940s style hair how-to

Your Stylist: Hydrating beauty masks to save dry skin

Your Stylist: The right evening jacket to wear with a cocktail dress

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Top photo: Celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez attends the Vanessa Bruno dinner in West Hollywod. Credit: Donato Sardella

Middle photo: Pregnancy tights in opaque black from Fertile Mind ($19.95). Credit:

Bottom photo: Belly Belt from Fertile Mind ($19.95). Credit:


Vogue Knitting Live comes to Los Angeles this weekend

LA Vogue Knitting Live
Vogue Knitting Live, a three-day event offering classes, lectures, demonstrations, fashion shows and shopping for the fiber enthusiast is scheduled to make its West Coast debut at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Friday through Sunday.

Hosted by Vogue Knitting magazine, a similar event in New York City in January drew 6,000 attendees, and with 3,000 already preregistered, organizers say that the West Coast one is on track to push the needle(s) even further -- partially because, we're told, the West Coast is home to more knitting shops than anywhere else in the country.

In addition to fiber-focused fashion shows, the event will be offering hand-knitting master-level Vogue Knitting NY Fashion Show workshops and technique-driven courses taught by the knit community's A-list instructors (including Debbie Bliss, Nicky Epstein and Deborah Newton), with world-famous master colorist Kaffe Fassett slated to deliver the gala dinner keynote speech on Saturday night.

And it's not just for the professional purlers either, for the novice knitter there will be free lessons -- by knitting celebrity Vickie Howell -- all day Saturday and Sunday. 

While we've never knit a stitch in our life, we can already tell what the big draw will probably be -- the marketplace area which, in addition to hosting fashion shows, celebrity book signings, live technique demonstrations and giveaways, will be stocked with everything and anything a knitter might need including needles, yarn, gifts and accessories.

Tickets for the Vogue Knitting Live LA marketplace ($20), lectures ($25) and classes ($95) are available at the door starting at 7 a.m. each morning. A detailed schedule of events and additional information can be found at Vogue Knitting Live takes place Friday through Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles.


DIY: Felted wool hot pads

 Namaste Farms puts a different spin on yarn

International Yarn Bomb Day on Saturday

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: The January  2011 Vogue Knitting Live event, which drew 6,000 attendees to New York City. The debut West Coast event is scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday in Century City. Credit: Vogue Knitting Live

Video: Deborah Lippmann shows how to get the perfect manicure

This week's Image section talks about the latest trends in manicures and pedicures -- be it from the runways or the salons. But crawl before you can walk: Nail expert Deborah Lippmann, creator and chief executive of Lippmann Collection, shows you how to buff around the edges in this video.


The do-it-yourself manicure

Nail salons on the cutting (and polishing) edge

New nail designs debuting on fashion runways

Video: How to do a marble manicure at home

This week's Image section talks about the latest trends in manicures and pedicures -- be it from the runways or the salons. Not willing to cough up the cash for a professional polish? We also have some DIY tips-- including this video on how to get a marble manicure from Kristina Baune Estabrooks, nail pro and educator for Creative Nail Design.


The do-it-yourself manicure

Nail salons on the cutting (and polishing) edge

New nail designs debuting on fashion runways

Everything old is new again. Customized clothes by Amal Guessous

It will be interesting to see how people who have reigned in their spending will resuscitate pieces in their wardrobes to make them feel fresh and exciting.

L.A.-based designer Amal Guessous is customizing old clothes and accessories for people who want to feel like they’ve got new duds. He has been jazzing up 1untitledeverything from jeans to bags in his Melrose Avenue store and will apparently adorn Ugg Boots, Birkin Bags and American Apparel T’s with Swarovski crystals, crosses and fleur-de-lis.

Custom designs start at $45.

A word of advice: If you’ve got a Birkin and you’re tired of the way it looks -- crystal crosses are not going to make it better. Trust me.

Your initials on a T-shirt or the pocket of an old pair of jeans -- fine. Leave the Hermes at home where it belongs.

My plans for a customized spring wardrobe? A bathtub and a bottle of $3.99 Rit dye.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

A&G by Amal Guessous, 7922 Melrose Ave.

Photo: Leave the classics alone. Birkin bag with crosses. Credit: A&G

The perfect prep school blazer

Maybe it was a backlash to yesterday’s slothfulness that caused me to wake up bright and early this morning with a hankering for some Target shopping.               21missypics_001 

I hit my local store at 8:30 a.m., snapped a few things from the Thakoon for Target line and pushed my cart over to the little boys section where I sometimes find cute button-downs. There they had two racks filled with mismatched suit jackets and slacks in navy and black. I love the look of a shrunken preppy blazer, but the boys sizes at Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren are still more than $200.

Slipping on a boy’s size 10 or XL in navy, I immediately felt a rush of Hogwarts meets “School Ties” chic and the jacket was just $34.99. The only thing missing was the burnished gold buttons.


I stopped at a downtown fabric store that has bins of old buttons and found university-esque styles. I replaced the two buttons in the front and 2 on the cuffs. All 6 buttons cost just $3.

For under $40, I got the shrunken, prep school look I’ve been wanting. It also made for a fun and easy rainy day project -- perfect for today.  1ppolo25041561_mailer_t208_2


-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: Top: Target blazer "before." Credit: Melissa Magsaysay

Middle: Target blazer "after." Credit: Adam Tschorn

Bottom left: Ralph Lauren Rugby "little boy polo jacket" ($298). Credit: RL Rugby

Bottom right: Brooks Brothers little boys navy blazer ($268). Credit: Brooks Brothers

Adventures in gift giving: DIY jewelry

Last month I wrote about Bead for Life, the colorful beads made from recycled paper by poverty stricken women in Uganda. I bought a bag of beads from the website with plans to make most of my holiday gifts this year. Yesterday, I did just that.    1missypics_067

With high hopes of making a bunch of great bracelets for my friends, I walked into the Bead Boutique on 3rd Street thinking I would just buy some elastic or soft wire to string up all my beads, tying a little knot on the end and viola! It’s not that simple. It turns out there’s tons of different techniques that go into making even the most simple-looking accessory. 

I ended up taking a “Basic Beading” class. The two-hour class is $45 and teaches you super useful skills on the basics of jewelry making.  Even after my tutorial was up, they let me sit in the front of the store and work away at my bracelets all day long. I ended up with seven items made of a mixture of the Bead for Life beads and some fun vintage beads I bought at the boutique. Anything purchased the day you take a class is 10% off.


Throughout the day, crowds of people came through looking for ideas or supplies to create the holiday gifts they planned on making and giving. I sat in the front of my temporary “studio” feeling so clever and crafty. Check out my work above.

There are four classes: Basic Beading, Beginning Wire Wrapping, Intermediate Wire Wrapping and Silk Knotting. Call (323) 966-5880 for schedule and reservations.

Bead Boutique, 8313 West 3rd St., L.A., CA 90048

-- Melissa Magsaysay


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