Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We're Today Show 2017 Style Heroes!!

Jean and Valerie here -- The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas . We are thrilled to be among the 40 Today Show 2017 Style Heroes announced in Today's "Wear What You Want" Week! 

For those of you who don't know us, we're the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas, "women of a certain age" blogging since 2009, but wearing clothes and having opinions for a lot longer! We met in 2008 at the Manhattan Vintage Show, discovered a shared a love of hats, vintage clothing and Japanese, Israeli and Danish fashion, and the rest is history!

Click here to view the Today Show's Style Heroes YouTube video clip.  (We appear in the 10th clip.) In July 2017, The Today Show posted a wonderful video and online article about us and how we are redefining style for older women. Please click here to view the July video.

Included in this year's 40 Style Heroes are such luminaries as Lady Gaga, Pink, Christy Brinkley, Tyra Banks, Serena Williams, Madison Keyes (US Open women's tennis finalist), Paris Jackson, Chrissy Metz (actress from This is Us), Ellie Kemper (actress from The Office), Zac Posen (fashion designer), Bobbi Brown (makeup guru), Laurie Hernandez & Aly Raisman (Olympic gymnasts), Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars), Sophia Bush, Mandy Moore, Michaela Prince (Dutch National Ballet) -- and us!

Bar the door!  On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Today Show Style has turned over its Instagram feed to us. Quick, before they figure out that we don't belong among such an august group, read on to learn more about us and what we're up to! Five of the shots in this post will appear on the Today Show Style Instagram feed.

Since mainstream fashion largely ignores "women of a certain age", we launched our blog to give us a voice. Our mantra is: "We are not dead and we are not invisible". We search out accessories, shoes, clothing and, of course, hats, as well as events and activities that pique our interest. For several years, we also post on Instagram (@idiosyncraticfashionistas). We get to cover gallery shows, museum openings, craft shows, New York Fashion Week runway shows and presentations as members of the press.

The photo above was taken last week at the Museum at FIT's party celebrating the opening of "Expedition: Fashion from the Extreme" which runs through January 6, 2018.  Although we rarely consult in advance, we often end up in coordinating outfits. Case in point: we both showed up in black and white at FIT.

Remember when old ladies were expected to fade into the background, not make waves and wear sensible shoes (whatever that means)? 

Although society may encourage older women to blend in and not make waves, we choose to ignore that advice and actively seek out opportunities to enjoy life, have fun and make a splash. New York City provides sooo many opportunities for fun. For example, a street art portrait of Salvador Dali provides a perfect photo op. That we both ended up in black with in red accessories was a happy coincidence.

Since fashion rules are made to be broken, Valerie offers the following non-rules: Don't be afraid to wear a green straw top hat with a veil. Match your blue and orange geometric print dress with a green shirt. Wear a Christmas ornament around your neck. (Just be careful not to break it.) Jean says: Skip the sensible shoes! Since most shoe designers do not create fashionable and comfortable shoes for older women, be resourceful. Jean discovered remarkably comfy yet stylish boots by German company Trippen, featuring geta-like double platforms aka "flatforms" for height and glamour. An Ignatius straw turban adds interest to basic black.

We encountered this punk kid in sunglasses artwork (below) in the Peninsula Hotel on Fifth Ave. at W. 55th Street on our way to the rooftop restaurant. Life advice: Don't be afraid to emulate the art work. Valerie's fashion advice? Get a 30-year old Issey Miyake polka dot skirt out of your closet and match it with a 10-year old Guy Laroche second hand striped jacket. Pull them together with a $2.99 cotton camisole from H&M. Jean says look for a hat resembling a flying saucer, add vintage Bakelite accessories, signature sunglasses, black cotton Zara tunic, black Miyake harem pants and voila! 

Life is short. Have fun! Interact with street art! Valerie's approach: Tuck in your red polka dot dress and wear it as a shirt. Buy a dull beige hat and spray paint it red. Add adhesive white dots for extra fun. Jean pairs a go-anywhere black jumpsuit with an Ignatius black straw clown hat - just the thing for fleeing Japanese sci-fi critters!  

If matchy-matchy is bad, then we're super-bad. For a recent casting call, Valerie unapologetically matched her '90s Ellen Tracy suit with a brand new Norma Kamali turban, then contrasted them with a $2.99 Forever 21 striped cotton cami and target practice flea market plastic earrings. Those donut-sized black cuffs? Hair bun donuts from H&M. Jean is rocking the black & white look with Alembika pants, C&C cotton peplum top, beaded necklace by Carol Markel, Henrik Vibskov bowler and vintage signature sunglasses, bangles and rings complete the look. Are WE wall flowers? On this wall, YES! 

To celebrate a DuBuffet sculpture at the Seagram's Building, Valerie advises: Wear a Calvin Klein white linen suit after Labor Day with spectator oxfords. For contrast, pair them with a Forever 21 cami.  Show off your gray hair with an open-crowned hat. Add striped foam donut size bracelets.  With a Donna Karen top, Brigitte harem pants and vintage Bakelite jewelry, Jean dons a jaunty Henrik Vibskov molded straw bowler with its own topknot and Trippen flatforms.  Now, just ask a tourist to take your picture. 

Hope you enjoyed our blog and Instagram posts. Tell us what you think! Follow us. Come back again soon.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


It's that time of year again! We joined the Easter Parade celebrants in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral.  As for our colleague? Somehow, this was not our mental image that comes to mind when hearing the lyrics "Here comes Peter Cotton Tail, bouncing down the bunny trail", but he was quite jovial and charming.  (Hard not to be when wearing such an outfit and bunny tail.) Fun facts about rabbits: They have an excellent sense of smell, hearing and vision - essential for survival from predators. When happy, they exhibit a behavior known as "binky", in which they jump up in the air, twist and spin around.  A baby rabbit is called a "kit", a female is a "doe", a male is a "buck", a group of rabbits is a "colony" and a group of domestic rabbits is a "herd". Go figure. While hares are born with their eye open, hair covering their bodies and can run within a few minutes of birth (like Guinea pigs), rabbits are born blind, naked and remain in a fur-lined nest for the first days of their lives.  Sounds like a Hollywood celebrity baby.

A reminder of the world outside Fifth Avenue on Easter morning was the visible presence of NYPD - aka "New York's Finest". This officer and his Belgian Malinois (no, he's not a German Shepherd) were vigilant and professional, walking that fine line between being reassuring and non-threatening while remaining watchful and ever-professional.

We joined our posse who gathered on East 50th Street off of Fifth Avenue for group photos. Arlinda, Carol, Andre, Carola, Carol (Femme et Fleur)  Elke, Dayle (Artful City Style)  and Valerie. Look quickly - this is one of the few full-length shots in which you can see Valerie's footwear!

Aleksey Federov ran into our group, and joined in the fun.   He towers over everyone.  Aleksey is a super fan of Easter, and made his own outfit.   We pride ourselves on finding a variety of people at Easter, but Aleksey puts us to shame.  See his fabulous video of the Easter parade here.  From his vantage point, way above the crowd, he has a great view of everything.

This color-coordinated couple joined the throngs of well dressed New Yorkers and out-of-towners on Fifth Avenue while managing to look cool and chic in unseasonably warm 87-degree weather.

One of the treats each year is running into friends and 2017 was no exception. Linda, Marianne, Helga and Xtine always promenade together and then retire to Bob's Burger, their traditional post-parade hangout.

True to form, we didn't consult the night before about what we'd be wearing, other than to complain about the warm weather forecast, so the extent to which our outfits coordinated so well was a source of amusement.

Videographer and pal Lina Plioplyte and her friend Jacob stopped by to visit and take photos with us. Pink is definitely Lina's color!

Loved this stylish couple. Her red dress and his colorful scarf worked well together. And we also love the fact that Jean's shot of them and Valerie included her shoes!

Debra Rapoport topped off her multi-color, multi-texture outfit with a parasol to fashionably shade her from the strong sunlight.

M&M!  Marja Samson and Martina Deitrich joined us on East 50th Street, along with Marja's pug, Bibichibi.

Zondra Foxx opted for fishnets, mini-skirt, off-the-shoulder top and a blue-black bouffant wig for the occasion. Jean wore the black and white IF (Idiosyncratic Fashionistas) necklace and pin -- on her Ignatius hat -- which were designed and made by Zondra.

This woman had her own unique take on headwear.

Quite a few people made political statements.  Here's one:

In our Instagram feed, we showed "twins" in polka dots; here's another pair of colorfully - almost psychedelically dressed - "twins", in this case, mother and daughter.

Suzi Redhead was among the first people we ran into.  GREAT costume!

Here's her calling card:

This young woman wore a green dress and hat from the '50s.

This woman loves everything green.

Loved this paradegoer's ensemble.  When she put her jacket on, it looked like she was wearing a completely different outfit.

Our friend Lydia, her husband and two children.

This woman wears her own artfully hand made gorgeous huge pink paper flower hat.

A really good photographer would have taken this woman's picture against a better background.  But people disappear into crowds so easily, one has to seize opportunities when they arise.

We had run into Tallulah a few weeks ago at the Manhattan Vintage Show, where she said she was opening her own vintage shop in San Antonio.  Funny how, in a city of eight million people, you can still come across someone you know.

We looked up and down and high and low for Elaine and her husband Steve at the parade without success, so we were thrilled when they tracked us down at our post-parade hangout, The Modern, for our traditional post-parade cocktails!  Elaine's theme for her hand-painted hat was the Q train and the new East Side subway line whose stations feature skylights and airy, open stations with art-covered walls. At the left is Shiho, who joined us in an earlier parade a few years ago, and caught the eye of our beloved Bill Cunningham.

We took photos at the rear of the restaurant against the large photo of the great outdoors.  It was a great backdrop for showing off our graphic outfits. (Ahem. Once again, Valerie's two-tone shoes were cut out of the picture!)

As she and her companion were leaving The Modern, Mary Anna Smith - aka The Tipsy Topper - stopped for a photo of her Easter basket bonnet and his Magritte-inspired top hat.

Rogue's Gallery: Valerie, Steve, Shiho, Elaine and Jean took our waiter up on his offer to shoot a group portrait.

Until next year ...

Monday, February 13, 2017


New York Fashion Week is finally here! We both wanted to wear something dazzling to the Chromat runway event. They put on such a show for us, it's only fair to return the favor.  But the day before there had been a huge snow storm with accumulations over ten inches and all bets were off, at least for us.  Some brave souls brazened it out, but we feared the cold, the splashes of slush from passing taxis, the soggy shoes from unexpected puddles, and the semipermanent white salt rings that appear across the toes of one's shoes once the shoes finally dry. Luckily, we rallied at the last minute, since we ended up in (ahem) front-row seats. And, once again, with no prior consultation, we showed up in color coordinated outfits.

Weather or no, it's always a pleasure (to put it mildly) to see what treats Chromat has in store for us during Fashion Week.  One always knows to expect something eye-popping, although one never knows what form it's going to take.  Titled Buoyancy, the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection is inspired by "life vests and floatation devices designed for extended survival in rough, open water"!  This season, we were treated, for starters, to an energetic and eye popping introduction, which we have videotaped for you in its entirety here.

For those of you who'd like to see it full size (much preferable), click here.

One of designer Becca McCharen's themes for this show was inflatables/puffers.  We wanted to get to inspect them close up, since they were such an inspired choice. The design team collaborated with innovative outdoor company Klymit to design inflatable garments that aid with internal buoyancy and help the wearer stay afloat and protected. Brilliant, because everyone these days wants to feel protected, right?

Of course we had to show you the puffer hat, paired with the very feminine, demure little dress.

One of the most amusing dresses takes a hint from Rei Kawakubo, putting sleeves where you least expect them. But you could also say there's a hint of the pannier dresses from the French court of the 18th century.

Becca is known for dressing models of all sizes and giving them carte blanche to express their sexuality on the runway.  When the plus size models came down the catwalk, the crowd burst into applause.

There was also a man on the catwalk.  Becca put him in a marvelous dress.

The trench coat never goes away.  Below is the Chromat version.  Becca's models are always styled in an edgy manner.  This time, many of the models strutted down the catwalk with slim chains dangling from their mouths, septum rings or other face jewelry.

Becca showed the puffer/inflatable concept in several different iterations.  Here's a sleeveless puffer shirt paired with the most feminine cargo style pants ever.

We've seen Becca do a very narrow color palette (black, white, red), but she doesn't shy away from bold color.  Here, an apple green vest over a pale green zippered swim suit with knee length green rubber boots -- with wedge heels.

In a similar color scheme, a puffer jacket.  Don't the models have the most amazing legs?  They appear to be oiled for emphasis. It works!

Another puffer coat.  Slightly more conservative in color; equally outrageous in design. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was down-filled.

Toward the end of the show, this dazzling white vision came floating down the runway, and one could be forgiven for thinking that Becca had done a traditional (well, not so traditional) bridal gown for the finale.  Instead, it almost seemed as though she had re-imagined Gary Cooper as a woman in the old movie about French Legionnaire Beau Geste.  (You young ones look it up on Wikipedia, or watch it on YouTube.)

But Becca wasn't done with us yet.  For the finale, she presented a bright red puffer dress with cutouts.

Think you know what the back looks like?  You don't.

Would you like to see all the models parading at the end?  Check them out!

As before, if you'd like to see it full size, click here.

Now, for those of you who'd like to see some of the attendees, we're happy to oblige.  The woman on the left is wearing a Chromat cage.

Loved these women.  And look at the bright lights around their shoes.

More fans.

Some Chromat fans signal their allegiance by cutting their bangs short, Becca-style.

It isn't fashion week without Lynn Yaeger and we were not disappointed. We were seated across the aisle from Lynn, who never disappoints.  Her one concession to the weather - big, warm boots.

Seated next to us was TV star Camren Bicondova who plays Cat Girl on Gotham - Jean's favorite character. At the end of runway show, Jean approached her in full fan mode and Camren couldn't have been sweeter. She has the most amazing wide set eyes. Check out the show.

One of our faves at fashion week events is photographer Andrew Werner. He's like the hardest working man in rock and roll - at every show. looking calm, composed and dapper, with his signature collection of lapel pins. And he has a wicked sense of humor!

In the spirit of saving the best for last, here's one of the more creative fashion week outfits - head to toe white faux fur! Yeti-man gets extra points because his fur was spotless and in NYC, that is no small feat.

We're back and we're bad. Stay tuned for more fashion week escapades.