My job is all about providing the powers that be with a plethora of options. Choices give your boss the illusion that they are the one making the decision. (When in fact, I’m the one who provided all the choices, so I’ve totally rigged the game!)
Directors and producers are notorious for changing their minds at the last minute, after you gave them exactly what they said they wanted.
"Oh, now you don’t like these red shoes that you liked yesterday? Well, snap, here are some green ones. Oh, yeah, and some blue ones. Plus some plaid and some floral ones for good measure. What’s that? You can’t think of an option I don’t already have on hand to present to you? DAMN STRAIGHT."
That’s how I roll on a job. When even your backups have backups, nobody can ever take you down.
I learned this tactic from the woman who taught me how to be a costume designer, the amazing Milena Canonero. “ALWAYS BE PREPARED,” she said. “Have options. Come at ‘em GUNS BLAZING, always.”
Of course she said all this to me in Italian, so I wasn't quite aware that she was giving me such excellent advice at the time. (I wish there was some video of me trying to explain to her that I ordered her a turkey sandwich for lunch one day. There was indeed arm flapping involved on my part.)
Milena has 3 Oscars under her belt, so I eventually (and most gratefully) took her advice and ran with it. It has served me exceedingly well ever since.
I like choices in my personal life too. I only ever wear dresses because pants suck. It’s been proven that pants suck by like SCIENCE and stuff. There are only a few dress companies I can think of that give me some sort of a choice and LET ME HAVE THE DAMN DRESS MY WAY, like I could if I was buying my dresses at Burger King.
It’s the sartorial equivalent of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I loved as a child. I am a control freak by nature, and I get really mad when a book ends in a way I dislike.
One of the dress companies I'm referring to is based in the city of New Orleans. It’s the oddly named Trashy Diva. They make vintage inspired 1940s and 50s style dresses, and if you like a particular fabric they offer, then you're in luck. Odds are they offer all of their fabrics in at least 4 different styles of dress:
I own the cage dress myself! It was a recent purchase, and it's what led me to write up the line. (I only ever write up stuff I either own myself or am legitimately interested in.) The photos below are of course taken by my lovely boyfriend Tommy, who is still tres busy sabotaging my personal style blogger career that never was.
He took that picture on the far right first and immediately was all "Oh, yeah, you're gonna love it."
My only caveat with the Trashy Diva dresses would be that they don't seem to suit those with abnormally long torsos. I had to have mine let down about a half inch in the shoulder and armpit. But I'm a freak, all guts and legs. Even the special extra-long torso swimsuits I order from Delia's still dig up into my front and back cracks when I wear 'em.
I want to wear some version of the "Trixie playsuit" every single day of my life. I'm envisioning beach balls, red lipstick and margaritas, even though I'm really sitting here at my desk on stage 4 at Warner Brothers Studios, listening to the ADs babble on walkie about what scenes we are meant to shoot today and in what order. BIG SNORE, and not a place one can easily wear a playsuit.
I think it's such an amazing idea to find a style of dress that's flattering on you, and then be able to order it in a dozen different fabrics. The older I get, the more I want to adopt a uniform of sorts and not spend so much time trying to decide what to wear.
Of course Trashy Diva makes their dresses in leopard print, duh!
Did I mention that almost all Trashy Diva dresses have pockets? That's the detail that pushed me over the edge into ordering in the first place. They are amazing pockets too -- deep and secure. I fell asleep in my cage dress the other night and awoke with the 100 open safety pins I'd stashed in my pocket throughout the day still safe and sound in their pocket cocoon.
Another dressmaker looking to give you a choice in things is Maggy Frances. Some girls want their dresses to be hot-to-trot minis, and some girls just want to be work-appropriate. Maggy Frances has got everyone covered, as her adorable A-line dresses all come in 2 distinctly great lengths.
I just realized that it's been ages since I posted about actual clothes. It's so hard to include everyone -- everything is either way too expensive or doesn't come in enough of a size range. At least some of you reading this post can now have your next dress MADE YOUR OWN WAY, DAMN IT!
(I’m on Twitter: @IveyAlison.)