Black Friday

I’m declaring this the official, unofficial national holiday for all wardrobe and prop stylists.  None of us should be in stores for any reason, unless it’s to buy alcohol.  We need this day to blur the burn of retail America from our minds while drinking a scotch in front of an open fire.  This holiday serves us to rest up before we get pummeled by frantic holiday shoppers for the entire month of December.  As of today, I can now comfortably say, “Thank goodness it’s Black Friday.”

Propping Innuendos

I had a request from my friend to be more of my snarky self on my blog.  This one’s for you, Bob.

One downfall of being a wardrobe and prop stylist is that you get a lot, I mean a lot of catalogs in the mail.  The specialized catalogs out there are definitely onto me because of the random crap I frequently have to buy for jobs.  The thing is, I actually look at a majority of them, A) because it’s my job, and B) because there is a lot of hilarious stuff being sold out there portrayed in an equally hilarious manner.  Those of you who back me on Sky Mall as being the best runway entertainment, I highly recommend dumpster diving my recycling bin.  There are a pile of gems tossed out there every couple of days.

I get a lot of manly, hunting catalogs for whatever reason, but I especially liked this one and wanted to share it.  I like it’s subtle, manly innuendos of the life you could have if you started to incorporate more forest green utility shirts into your wardrobe.  I mean beer, cigars, guns, COYOTE???  If we’re going manly, then let’s show some chest hair AND nail hair.  The only thing I’m not sure about is if they hit their wives.  I can’t wait until Spring 2012.

One cigar is never enough.

You can balance wearing a less manly rugby shirt by drinking a draft beer.  I mean, look at that neck stubble.

Rest your head with some manly ease on a coyote, of course.

The forest green half zip pullover sweater gets to have much more fun.

All that work propping up my denim shirt made me want a beer.

I imagine this is how you get some genuine coyote pillows.

Here’s are some more serious prop innuendos for the ladies.  I would have loved to have been on the conference call discussing art direction on this one.  “Let’s make lingerie fun…. Blah, blah, blah….”

Street Etiquette

I apologize for the gaping holes in between posting.  I’ve been working out-of-town and have only had my iPad in hand, which won’t let me post to WordPress for whatever reason.

Any who, I’d like to share this men’s fashion blog in case you haven’t come across it yet.  Street Etiquette, comes from the masterminds of Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, who are only a mere 20 years old.  The blog has only been around since 2008, but is already recognized as one of the most influential men’s fashion blogs.  It’s thoughtfully put together, and full of a ton of inspiring ideas from a wide range of eras, assembled in a way that looks like tomorrow.  I grabbed a lot of inspiration from it to create my mood board for the men’s khaki lookbook I was working on last week.  Bookmark the hell out of this.  Done.

The Land of Nod

I can’t tell you how elated I am to be part of the amazing crew who creates  The Land of Nod catalog.  To add icing to the cake, the main art direction I got for the wardrobe styling was to “think outside the box.”  This was exciting to me because with kids, you can be a little more weird.  You don’t want things to look perfect, instead it needs to be imaginative.  I approached this project in creating grown up personas for each of the kids and shopped for elements that would be telling of their future personalities.  Grant it, first and foremost, this is a kids home catalog.  We’re not marketing clothes, and we don’t want them to be too over-the-top so that we lose sight of what we’re selling.  The trick is to conquer this while still having the kids look aspirational.  Since I was shopping for a holiday catalog in July, it involved a lot of thrifting, a lot of rummaging through antique stores, and a lot of vintage perusing; mixed with your basics from Target, Nordstrom, etc.  I also aged a lot of clothes to make them look less off the shelf.

Some challenges I encountered were that some kids already had strong opinions on what they would and would not wear.  “What do you mean you don’t want to wear a top hat with a pipe cleaner brim?  But you’re my mini Johnny Deep, via Benny & Joon!”  Unlike a disciplinary mom who can lay down the law and tell her child to be quiet and buck up, I had to compromise with the talent.  They’re still kids, and they’re not going to give you what you want on camera if they feel uncomfortable.  In the end, we made a deal and I’m pretty excited with the outcome.  Here’s a couple of shots I scanned from the catalog.  You can now find the holiday catalog in stores or in your mailbox.

Future PGA golfer who listens to 90’s hip hop artist, Kris Kross.

Vintage shopping graphic designer.

The 70’s inspired poet.

The musician influence by 90’s grunge.

Urban planner.

City shop owner.

Courtney Rust, wardrobe stylist, The Land of Nod.

Kids sizing tip.

A couple of things I’ve learned about the never-ending battle of trying to find kids clothes that actually fit them properly:  First, always talk to a parent after you receive their comp card to double-check that their sizes are up to date.  My second tip, one that took a couple of sizing blows to finally understand why their clothes were too big; parents always tend to buy clothes that are a little big for their kids with the hopes that they’ll grow into them.  If they say they’re a size 3T, buy 3T’s, but also get a whole bunch of 2T’s because that’s what is most likely going to fit them like a glove.  Also, kids sizes are the next most inconsistent thing behind women’s jeans.  If I find something I really like, I bracket the sizes, meaning I buy one size up and one size down as well.  Boring, yet useful information.  Call me the Today show.

Online shoe saviors.

The length of every wardrobe stylist’s day could be cut a little shorter with these online shoe sources.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for online, well, you’re probably not going to find it at DSW, Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, etc., especially kids shoes where if you like the style, it’s almost a guarantee they won’t have the size you need.  Do yourself a favor, and the nice man who looks at you very perplexed when you say you don’t want to try on the 10 different styles of men’s hiking boots you just picked out, order online.

Here are the fastest, most reliable, and quickest to refund your credit cards post return.  Coincidentally, they also have the largest inventory.

Endless – Good for men, women, and kids.  Have a trendier selection than Zappos or Shoes.com.  Always comes the next day.

Zappos -They have the largest inventory, are the most reliable, and are the fastest at refunding your credit card post returns.  They are the best at basics, but I would look elsewhere if you want to get all crazy in style.  I also buy a lot of wardrobe from them as well, their kid inventory is better than their adult.

Shoes – Usually comes in 2 days.  A lesser version of the above two mentioned, but still good to know about.

Piperlime – Usually comes in 2 days.  This is the trendiest of all the websites listed, but has the smallest selection.  I’ll order from them if I get sizes well before the shoot day.  They only offer apparel for men and women, not kids, but have children’s shoes.  Tim Gunn and Rachel Zoe approved.

Between these four websites you should have your needs covered for 95% of advertising shoots.

Horse quandary…

Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of horses.  They’ve always kind of freaked me out.  BUT, for whatever reason, I seem to incorporate them in every other part of my life.  This horse bust plaque came off of my kitchen wall (minus the sunglasses), I own a number of horse themed shirts, and have horses plastered all over my refrigerator.

I never claimed I was normal.

Regardless, I love this image I did with Brian Kuhlmann.  It has everything I like about styling with telling a story, having a sense of humor, and a little bit of sass-mastery.

Courtney Rust – Chicago Wardrobe and Prop Stylist

Luxury Garage Sale

If you’re all fancy and love designer goods, or you love a solid victory on Ebay, you’ll be a big fan of this website.  Luxury Garage Sale curates some of the best vintage finds on Ebay in an easy to view list, to save you the time of having to rummage through all the other crap you get when you search for “Chloe brown sandals” on Ebay.  Once you select the item you think you’ve been looking for, the bidding wars begin and you’re redirected over to Ebay to place your bets.  If you have the patience and determination, you can come out with some amazing goods at a fraction of the price.    On the flip side, if you need to sell some of your treasures, they’ll come to you and post your items on Ebay and do all of the work.  You can read more about this service here.

You can start spending your money by clicking on the image below.

New Image – Chicago Magazine Fall Theatre Preview

This may have been the easiest shoot I’ve ever styled thanks to this handsome chap.  It’s a rarity when the first thing someone puts on fits them like a gem and ends up in the final image.  All of Patrick Andrews  (actor in photograph) clothes were provided by AllSaints Spitalfield new store on Michigan Avenue.  Hair and make up was done by the talented Jenna Baltes (you should hire her).  Lastly, a BIG thanks to the super duper photographer, Brian Kuhlmann for asking me to be part of his team.  Make sure you go see Patrick in the two man show called Red at the Goodman Theater.

Courtney Rust – Chicago wardrobe and prop stylist

Watch this. Bill Cunningham New York

In lieu of keeping on topic of our wise elders that we could learn a thing or three from, Bill Cunningham may just be my new hero after watching Bill Cunningham New York.  I keep finding myself being overly attracted to either kids under the age of 15 or people over the age of 75.  Maybe it’s because they share the same common thread of having less inhibitions on what is important.  The rest of us in the middle are more worried about what everyone else is doing/thinking, which makes the meat a little less easy to taste.  That’s why Bill is my hero.

Bill Cunningham is thought of the original street photographer in having shot the streets of New York since the late 60’s.  “I’m not interested in celebrities with their free dresses,” Cunningham says in the film. “I’m interested in the clothes.”  He keeps the schedule of a fisherman, rain or shine, blizzard or hurricane, he hits the street with his 35mm Nikon and tirelessly documents fashion on everyday people.  He has a spread that appears weekly in the Sunday New York Times Fashion section, that points out trends before Anna Wintour reports on them in the pages of Vogue.  More than highlighting his prolific body of work, this film really makes you love Bill for what he stands for, which is his independence and ethical stance on what fashion should be.  He often refuses to get paid because he feels then people could then tell him what to do.  He’s one of the few tenants left in the famous Carnegie Hall lofts, with a studio that is no larger than a closet, filled with filing cabinets of negatives and art books.  It’s ironic for a man who’s incredibly passionate about fashion to laugh at ever having the need for a closet.  He only has the clothes on his back and a change of the exact same clothes that he hangs through the handle of a filing drawer.  As for his ethics, he’s never taken a mean photograph to out someone for their fashion mishaps.  He only takes photos of what he loves.  He even left his job documenting fashion for WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), one of the most sought after jobs for any fashion photographer, because they took his images and divided them into a worst and best dressed list.  It devistated him to see his subjects in a negative light.

You can still see Cunningham riding his 28th Schwinn bike (other 27 have been stolen over the years) with his camera around his neck hopping from one charity event to the next fashion event, while dodging taxis from the Upper East Side to Soho.  He’s 82, has no intention to ever stop, because documenting what he sees on the streets is his one love.

“There is no reason to be doom and gloom and think that fashion is finished… The wider world perceives fashion as frivolity that should be done away with. The point is that fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life. I don’t think you can do away with it, it would be like doing away with civilisation.”

“The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

“I don’t decide anything,” he says. “I let the street speak to me, and in order for the street to speak to you, you’ve got to stay out there and see what it is.”

In 2008, Cunningham was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres , by the French Ministry of Culture. In his speech, he was overcome with emotion. He told the assembled glitterati: “It’s as true today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty, will find it.”

You should watch this documentary, whether you care about fashion or photography.  We all have a lot to learn from it.  It’s available on DVD or you can stream it on Netflix.