Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Online shopping

Mr. Porter, 'Suits' wheel out a bicycle promo built for two

If your daily commute across Los Angeles Wednesday (or Thursday) finds you crossing paths with a well-heeled, two-wheeled flash mob, it's not a crowd scene dream sequence being shot for a Pee-wee Herman movie, it's a cross-promotional awareness campaign between USA Network's legal drama "Suits" (which kicks off its second season June 14) and the men's luxury shopping site Mr. Porter.

Groups of identically clad gents -- decked out in gray Acne suits and white Converse sneakers -- are set to bicycle the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, handing out copies of the website's "Mr. Porter Post" publication along the way. For anyone unfamiliar with the show, the bicycle part of the equation is a nod to "Suits'" bike-riding, suit-wearing Mike Ross character (played by Patrick J. Adams). 

The velo fellows kicked off the promotion Tuesday in  New York City (where the TV show is set and Mr. Porter's U.S. offices are located) with the rolling panache mob taking to the streets and a fashion show of "Suits"-inspired looks curated by the Mr. Porter team on the High Line.

As part of the promotion, Mr. Porter has a dedicated "Suits and Style" web page that can be found here. As for the second season of "Suits," that can be found on your local USA Network channel starting Thursday at 10 p.m./9 Central.


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 -- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A publicity photograph shows the kind of suit-wearing, bike-riding spectacle that will wheeling about the streets of Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a joint awareness campaign between the TV show "Suits" and the men's shopping site Mr. Porter. Credit: Mr. Porter

New swimsuits for summer 2012

Black swimsuitThere will be plenty of tiny bikinis near the water this summer, but some of the season's swimsuit trends can be worn by the merely mortal. Yes, there are suits that flatter the less-than-perfect body and look stylish at the same time.

Among the top styles: the crocheted look, which is popping up in suits at all price ranges and in cover-ups as well. Seems as though the haute hippie wants to take her look to the beach as well as the clubs.

What else might a swimsuit shopper encounter? Cutouts. Bold prints. Asymmetrical silhouettes. And a retro, high-waisted look (think Bettie Paige posing in all her 1950s glamour).

Jenn Harris surveys the swimwear landscape in Sunday's Image section.

Gentlemen, there are new trends in bathing suits for you as well. Think slimmer fit, bold colors and wild prints. Think fabric imprinted with classic photos. Think trunks that can be worn as shorts at the pool party. Just don't forget to take your phone out of your pocket before you jump in the pool.

-- Alice Short


A new wave of L.A. swimwear designers

Frugal fashion: Jessica Alba summer-ready in a maxi

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times

Luxury resale comes to TV with VH1's 'House of Consignment'

"House of Consignment"Consignment shops have long been considered the domain of the dowdy. But "House of Consignment," debuting on VH1 Wednesday, takes thrift upscale.

In a program that fuses all the glamour and fashion-forward freneticism of "The Devil Wears Prada" with the surprise and auctioneering of "Storage Wars," "House of Consignment" follows Corri McFadden, founder of eDrop-Off, a luxury consignment business in Chicago that resells gently used, high-end designer items through a dedicated portal on EBay.

Missoni, Prada, Versace -- you name it. EDrop-Off sells more than 2,000 such items each week, and "House of Consignment" shows viewers exactly how.

The fast-paced and upbeat show tags along as McFadden visits client's closets, which are packed, in many instances, with millions of dollars worth of Hermes, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and other exclusive designer items.

"Some of these closets, the merchandise just sitting on the floor could send an entire city to college. It's crazy," said McFadden, who applauds her clients' vulnerability for allowing her into a space that is so personal and letting her guide them through the purging of rarely, if ever, worn items.

McFadden, 29, is a charismatic and high-energy businesswoman in hot pink lipstick and heels who started eDrop-Off with $37 and an idea when she was a senior in fashion school. A self-described hustler who used to sell lollipops to her classmates during elementary school, she's raked in more than $5 million in profits with eDrop-Off, which takes a 40% cut of its consignment sales. The consigner gets 60%.

"House of Consignment" is an outgrowth of an article about McFadden that ran in Chicago Social magazine in 2010. A production company approached McFadden about doing a reality show, a pilot was shot and VH1 bit.

"Our audience is women in their late 20s. They love the idea of women following their passion and designing a career for themselves," said Jeff Olde, head of programming for the cable television network, which has had a lot of success lately with "Single Ladies" and other shows about "very strong, unapologetic and wholly unique women making their mark in the world. Corri is the embodiment of that."


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-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: EDrop-Off founder Corri McFadden and her staff. Credit: VH1

Bonobos launches a collection of L.A.-made denim

Bonobos Denim
Bonobos, the men's pants brand known for its colorful khakis and e-tail-only business model, is expanding into denim, rolling out made-in-Los Angeles jeans that will retail for $125 each. 

"When we moved from San Francisco to New York City four years ago and launched our business with 400 pairs of pants, it was to make people who looked bad in khakis look good in khakis," Bonobos co-founder and Chief Executive Andy Dunn told the attendees at the Nov. 15 launch party at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Spare Room. "And now we're taking that fit into denim." (By comparison, Dunn said the company shipped close to 12,000 pairs in October alone.)

While bright colors, patterned pocket bags and quirky names are all things the core Bonobos customer has come to expect in chinos and corduroy trousers, Dunn said the denim is done a bit  differently.

"The denim market is overcrowded, over-priced and over-detailed," he said. "We thought that your denim shouldn't say so much -- a lot of jeans out there say too much."

The result is jeans in three washes in two fits (straight leg and boot cut) with no back pocket detailing and no exterior badging, cut and sewn in Los Angeles using denim from Cone Denim's famed White Oak plant -- a fact noted in the laundry list of specifications printed on the playful nautical-stripe pocket liner (including such facts as yards of denim and thread used to make each pair). Titled "Bonobos Denim Birth Announcement," it reads, in part: "North Carolina Denim, Conceived in NYC, Born in L.A. 12.25 ounces. Made in the U.S.A." 

Like the rest of the company's trouser assortment, the jeans will be sold online-only, and are expected to be available at before the end of November with a price tag of $125.  (For comparison, Levi's USA-made 501s start around $178, and L.A.-made Citizens of Humanity starts at around $152.) 

And denim isn't the only place the brand is expanding either. Despite the gloomy economic environment Bonobos has been in full growth mode, growing from 23 employees at the beginning of 2011 to 50 currently. Among the new additions -- both eight months ago -- are Richard Mumby (late of Gilt MAN) as vice president of marketing and Brad Andrews, hired away from J. Crew to serve as vice president of merchandising. 

And Dunn said the expansion isn't over yet, taking the L.A. denim launch as an opportunity to announce that the New York City-based company would be opening a West Coast office in Palo Alto in early 2012, spearheaded by another new hire -- Chief Technology Officer Michael Hart, formerly the director of engineering at Netflix -- who joined the company in October and is tasked with building a Silicon Valley-based IT, engineering and product design team.


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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Bonobos Denim collection consists of two fits and three washes and is made in Los Angeles using fabric from Cone Denim's White Oak plant. The $125 jeans will only be available through the label's website. Credit: Bonobos launches online shopping in the U.S.


Online browsers who happened to be on on Wednesday might have noticed something a little different. You can still find the clothing retailer's classic clean-cut blazers, shift dresses and cropped trousers, but sneak a peek at the upper-right-hand corner of the site and you'll see a tiny, much-anticipated surprise: a pint-sized shopping bag icon. The Spanish brand, known for its modern styles at moderate prices, launched online shopping in the U.S. on Wednesday.

Before Wednesday, online shopping at was exclusively offered to 17 European countries.

With my credit card in hand, I visited to look for two fall staples: a pair of boots and a versatile sweater. I easily located two affordable finds in the TRF high heel ankle boot with turn down lapel in brown, for $69.90, and the V-neck jersey sweater for $59.90. The boots will be great with a long dress and I'm excited to wear the comfy sweater with jeans and rain boots (weather permitting) or riding pants and heels for a night out.


I have a feeling that I must not be the only one shopping online at work. Numerous sizes for different items on the site have already sold out.

-- Jenn Harris


Good buy: Zara plaited shopper

Mr. Porter meets Malibu: Men's luxury shopping site celebrates SoCal cool

Nordstrom delves into online flash sales with acquisition of HauteLook

Photo, top: Screenshot of Credit: 

Photo, bottom from left: TRF high heel ankle boot with turn down lapel and V-neck jersey sweater. Credit:

Frugal Fashion: 'Friends with Benefits' star Mila Kunis in Balmain at the MTV movie awards

MilaThe MTV movie awards tend to deliver that certain wow factor every year with a musical performance or outrageous skit of some sort, but this year Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis stole the show. While the two "Friends with Benefits" stars announced the award for best male performance the two "friends" decided to prove their platonic status by, ahem, groping each other's private parts.

As I gasped in amazement at the utterly ridiculous yet hilarious spectacle, I became transfixed. Not because of the incessant groping, which seemed to go on forever, but because I suddenly -- and more importantly -- realized that I needed to get my hands on Kunis' uber sparkly, 1980s-flashback Balmain miniskirt, stat.

Kunis has been turning heads at awards shows with her fashion choices, such as the jaw-dropping red Alexander McQueen she wore to the SAG awards well before her "Black Swan" glory days. She's a pro at going uber glam with a gown for the Oscars or, as in this case, fun and flirty for an MTV event.

Last Sunday Kunis wasn't the only one wearing Balmain, but she did wear it best. "Twilight" saga star Kristen Stewart wore a red Balmain dress with frenzied safety pin embellishments and "Gossip Girl" vixen Leighton Meester went hyper glam in a Balmain long-sleeved dress that looked a little like a shiny, shattered mirror.

Mila Kunis rocked her Balmain jewel-bedazzled mini with a dolman sleeve classic black top and sky-high pale pink platform pumps.

For a look-at-me mini of your own, you can ditch the jewel embellished pieces. Sequins add just as much bling without the eye-popping price tag. Go for the LaRok flirty sequin camo skirt from for $158.99, Tumbled sequin miniskirt from for $127, smoke sequin miniskirt from for $79.50 or the sequin mini skirt from Express for $59.90.


Kunis' loose top transforms the mini from night club status to elegant-party-ready. For a similar top, snag the 3/4 sleeve tee by Juicy Couture for $24.97, 3/4 sleeve dolman from for $14.90 or the 3/4 dolman sleeve twist tee by C&C California for $24.90.


Kunis' pale shoes are a great color contrast to her skirt but it might be fun to play around with the shoes you might already own, so no need to splurge there. Any pair of solid-colored pumps in bright red or even black would work great with this look.

Happy shopping!

Have an outfit you're dying to buy but need a frugal alternative? Email us a picture. We're up for the challenge.

-- Jenn Harris


Frugal Fashion: 'Margaret' star Krysten Ritter at the Fox Television Distribution bash

Frugal Fashion: Rihanna pre-'S&M' at the Billboard Music Awards

Frugal Fashion: 'Fringe's' Anna Torv on the blue carpet at Fox upfront

Frugal Fashion: "Scream 4's" Lucy Hale goes Tribal at a Nylon magazine bash

Photo: Mila Kunis on stage at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheatre on June 5, 2011, in Universal City. Credit: Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Skirt photos: (From left) LaRok flirty sequin camo skirt. Credit:; Tumbled sequin miniskirt. Credit:; Sequin miniskirt. Credit:; Sequin miniskirt. Credit:

Shirt photos: (From left) 3/4 sleeve tee. Credit:; 3/4 sleeve dolman. Credit:; 3/4 sleeve dolman twist tee Credit:

Mr. Porter meets Malibu: Men's luxury shopping site celebrates SoCal cool

Mr Porter West Coast
Mr. Porter, the men's luxury shopping site from the folks, is celebrating "the covetable coolness" of Southern California this week, serving up familiar backdrops -- from the surf of Zuma Beach to the halls of the Beverly Hills Hotel -- alongside Los Angeles-appropriate wardrobe suggestions. 

I'm glad they're giving the L.A. area some style props -- and it's more than just being happy the hometown is getting recognition for more than the premium denim business that's centered here.

I've actually been meaning to post something about Mr. Porter since the site launched in February, but until recently I hadn't had a chance to really explore the site -- get in and kick the tires, check out the wares they're offering and read some of the editorial content -- and there's lots and lots of that. 

In fact there's so much editorial "how to" goodness -- style advice (forgo the winged-collar tuxedo shirt), guidance (an illustrated seven-step guide to folding a T-shirt) and suggestions (what to pack for a one-week beach holiday) -- the content/commerce blend makes it feel more like a traditional men's magazines -- think GQ or Esquire -- than the increasingly common e-commerce sites that do little more

Continue reading »

Frugal Fashion: 'Margaret' star Krysten Ritter at the Fox Television Distribution bash

KristenritterAt the end of Fox TV's week-long screening extravaganza for foreign buyers in L.A., there was only one thing to do: throw an über bash at the Fox lot in Century City. Television stars and execs flooded the red carpet, and among the most stylish was the raven-haired actress Krysten Ritter.

You may remember her as the cheeky but charming Patty in the film "She's Out of My League" or as a regular on the Starz series "Gravity." She's also starring in the upcoming drama "Margaret" alongside Hollywood bigwigs Matt Damon, Anna Paquin and Mark Ruffalo.

The budding television star and lead singer of the indie band Ex Vivian is always striking, with a look that is distinctly rockabilly glam. Her darker-than-night  and signature red lips help define her ultra-feminine sense of style. 

For the big party, Ritter chose a body-conscious, floral print minidress by MinkPink, bright coral-colored clutch bag by Sedgwick and nude heels by Loeffler Randall. The dress evokes that feeling fashionistas get every summer when they switch out their winter neutrals for eye-popping colors. Ritter's floral-print dress is a great, comfortable option for a summer party.

For a similar floral print dress, try the Asos cut-out dress for $59.99 in a fun and flirty red floral print and cut-out neck design, the floral print pencil dress, also from Asos for $36.93 or the Insight Inbetween Days dress for $59.50 from


For an extra pop of color get the Lorraine slim clutch by Guess for $30 or the Mundi Kylie wristlet from Kohl's for $28 for a more casual look.


Strap on any pair of nude or black heels and you're ready for summer.

Happy shopping!

Have an outfit you're dying to buy but need a frugal alternative? Email us a picture. We're up for the challenge.

-- Jenn Harris


Frugal Fashion: Rihanna pre-'S&M' at the Billboard Music Awards

Frugal Fashion: 'Fringe's' Anna Torv on the blue carpet at Fox upfront

Frugal Fashion: "Scream 4's" Lucy Hale goes Tribal at a Nylon magazine bash

Frugal Fashion: Pippa Middleton post royal wedding

Photo: Krysten Ritter attends a party hosted by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution at the Fox Lot on May 26 in Century City. Credit: Kevin Winter /Getty Images for 20th Century Fox Television.

Dress photo: From left, Asos cut-out dress. Credit: Floral print pencil dress. Credit: Insight Inbetween Days dress. Credit:

Clutch photo: From left, Lorraine slim clutch by Guess. Credit: Mundi Kylie wristlet. Credit:

Nordstrom delves into online flash sales with acquisition of HauteLook


Nordstrom created what could be an epic fashion merger Thursday when it announced that it would acquire the online sales site HauteLook for $180 million in stock, according to the New York Times.

Our Booth Moore has written about HauteLook, which is an exclusive online site similar to Gilt Group that offers members private, limited-time sales on high-end brands in clothing, furniture and travel. The department store’s acquisition of HauteLook would be the first time an established retail company delves into the world of “flash” sales by acquiring an online private sales site.

“Customers are responding to this way of shopping, so we’d like to participate,” Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, the company’s online business, said. 

HauteLook will remain separate from and will continue to be run by founder Adam Bernhard.

-- Jenn Harris

Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_

Photo: Screenshot of the private online "flash" sales site HauteLook. Credit:

Actress Lauralee Bell launches 'Just Off Rodeo' Web series with a fashion retail element

Lauralee Bell is best known as Christine "Cricket" Blair on the venerable soap opera "The Young & the Restless," but her latest endeavor has her fusing episodic entertainment with fashion retail — from behind the camera.

"Just Off Rodeo," a comedic web series Bell first conceptualized more than a decade ago, features merchandise users can buy built into the creative content of the show. So if an actress is wearing a great top, users can click to buy the exact item and have it in their hands within days.

"I would see in magazines articles on 'how to get the look,'" said Bell, who has owned two clothing boutiques in L.A. in the past. "But it's never the exact look. I thought, 'How great would it be if you could watch a favorite show and buy the clothes right off the [screen]?'"

Bell's initial idea flowered into a concept ideal for various product placement approaches. For example, '"we could have a designer make a line for three episodes," she said. "Or it can be something a celebrity loves to wear and they can make a guest appearance, with their favorite charity receiving a percentage of the sales of the item."

The first two four-minute episodes, online now, introduce us to three main characters — two shop girls and an uber-flamboyant male hairdresser — all mingling inside a Beverly Hills boutique. The for-sale merchandise  — a shawl and a T-shirt, both imprinted with the "Just Off Rodeo" logo — is presented as part of the action. Though it's in-your-face advertising, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the story.

And the story is, so far, darned amusing. It revolves around the characters: an affluent Beverly Hills brat, an earnest fashion graduate and the parody of a hairdresser, who, we find out, hadn't actually been hired by the store's proprietor.

Bell's ultimate goal is to morph the webisodes into a half-hour TV sitcom, but she's also open to staying on the Web, provided key partnerships bloom. She has yet to reach out to designers and brands, hoping to gauge interest in the series on a grass-roots level first.

"I've been developing this idea for so long," said the mother of two. "And one day, literally, I was watching 'Oprah,' and Paula Dean was on and she said something like, 'You can sit on your butt your whole life or make it happen.' I decided right then to really start doing it."

--Emili Vesilind

Video: Episode One of "Just Off Rodeo." Credit: Martin Bell Prods. LLC



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