SXSW Trends

South by Southwest was lame for me this year, especially compared to last year. This time, over 30,600 paying attendees and about one billion random people who felt like basting themselves in free booze convened to turn the city into a loud, gridlocked, wonderful and terrible week-long party. One truth holds each year: SXSW is a great place for style watching. Here are a few trends I spotted on cool girls waiting in lines and looking lost:

1. Cutouts


Nasty Gal Candy Cut dress, $58

Cutouts have long been the sexy detail of choice for dresses and tops, but they’re especially perfect for the premature swelter of spring in Texas.

2. Twee Minidresses


Pop Boutique shift dress, $42

1960s styles are enjoying a thorough replay lately, and I love it. Peter Pan collars, straight cuts and short hemlines are going strong.

3. Prints

minkpink shorts

MINKPINK shorts, $69

Usually I roll my eyes when prints are called a trend. (You know what else is in style? Clothes! And colors are having a moment!) But prints were the focal point if not the whole point of outfits. Festival goers wore them on tops, bottoms or both.

4. Open-back tops


Asos knot tank, $37

I spotted this breezy style on several girls. Give your stomach a break from crop tops and try showing a little lower back instead.

5. Embellished shorts


Rag & Bone Highclare shorts, $255

Spikes, patterns, patches, colors and fraying jazzed up the music festival staple.

Basically: Minimalism is nowhere to be found. Pile it on, mix it up, and maybe even power clash.


Rennes and St. Malo

Rennes, arrival 

There should be a word for that feeling when one sees a familiar face after a day of being shuffled around with massive amounts of complete strangers. Relief comes close. Hugo picked me up at the Rennes airport after my 18 hours of travel. It had been an awkward ballet of failed sleeping positions with no intermission.

He took me to the apartment where I’d be staying, which used to be a suite in a very old hotel right next to the city center. I spent the afternoon fighting off jet lag, reading and touring Rennes on foot.

For a day, I felt sick to my stomach and could barely eat anything. I slowly replaced my bloodstream with Coca-Cola Light (suspicious of the tap water by this point) and some God-given medicine called “Spasmocalm.”

Sounds dumb, but really: It hits like a drug, the realization of how far away I was from anything I knew.


St. Malo, beach

There is so much mica that the beach looks like two parts sand to one part glitter. Rows of algae coated tree trunks stand ready to break breaking waves that could wash over the street. The ocean is freezing, but it’s a welcome jolt after the long walk from the only quasi-legal parking spot left thanks to hoards of French folks ready to bask in the high temperatures.

Vintage sunglasses and earrings, A wear sweater, American Apparel shorts, Bisou Bisou bikini


Seagulls swoop, I read a few chapters of Into the Wild, get covered in sand and freckles, etc.

I wish I could claim responsibility for this sand fortress.

In the time it takes to walk into the city, peruse shops, eat two crepes (one crispy, with finely chopped vegetables wrapped in a black flour pancake, one sweet with a caramel unique to the Brittany region), and saunter along stone walkways, the shoreline has receded 50 meters, accommodating more sun bathers.

If the sea can come so close to lapping at the city streets, only to take it all back, I’ll be a little fickle, too.

Fort St. Pere, music festival

La Route Du Rock has a pretty great set-up. The music runs from about 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Who shows up to these things at noon, anyway? It helps that noise ordinances mustn’t have been too strict at the makeshift venue, which was accessible by long dirt roads through wheat fields. The camping area had rental huts with locks available to patrons with interests such as sex and not being stolen from. The first few hours were shadeless and therefor kind of miserable. I heard it would be cold here. The first band is some bad electro group that America back-washed. In fact, all the music (except for an excessive set by Dominique A) is in English. Alt-J puts on the best show.

Here’s some good footage from Rennes TV, though I can always do without musicians denying they have a genre and analyzing the “internet age.”


Between sets, I affectionately watch the interactions of a group of drunk teenagers. The most outgoing girl kisses everyone, but saves the public make-out session for the boy she (presumably) likes most. They grope in a sunny, open area right by the stage. I’m smiling to myself, but the next time I look over, a visibly wasted girl has taken their place and is trying to vomit with the disturbingly involved encouragement of two friends. Maybe 18 is a bit young for the legal drinking age, after all.

As soon as the sun sets, it gets very cold and I can’t ignore how exhausted I feel. A photographer comes by. I smile broadly because I like the idea of looking ecstatic in a French magazine I’ll never see.

For Those About to Rock

Photo by Thomas Allison

Albertus Swanepoel for Target hat – Urban Outfitters top – Forever 21 bustier – vintage necklace – Target belt – vintage shorts

Jessica Lee (of Sparkle and Stripes)  kindly featured me in an article about South by Southwest style for The Daily Texan, our university’s newspaper.

I’ll be working a lot during SXSW, but at least I’ll be just a block away from the free, back lot shows at UO. Can’t wait to see the lovely Eleanor Friedberger and Grimes on Saturday. So many choices, so little time. 

Hands-on Experience

These are, for all intents and purposes, manicures juxtaposed with home decor:

I grasped this brass owl so hard my nail polish cracked.

OPI White Shatter top coat over NYC nail enamel in Purple Pizzaz

Sailboat curtains are boyish. Nail art is not.

Anonymous, adhesive silver strips…

Santa Fe vibes. I don’t know whether vintage sheets are gross/weird or not, but that’s not going to stop me.

Essie nail polish in Topless and Barefoot (Is that name free-spirited or misogynous?)

Jewelry: Urban Outfitters bird skull ring, Charlotte Russe gold band, Gap beaded bracelet, Guatemalan friendship bracelet

I was inspired by this Michael Parkes print, but more so by Neapolitan ice cream.

American Apparel nail lacquer in Makeup and Summer Peach, with L’Oreal Pro Manicure nail polish in French Tip White

Wildcard: This is a face (not to be confused with housewares.)

Sephora by OPI nail color in I’m Wired


I’m a Model Sort Of!

Most of these posts are about what I want. This one is about what I have!
Professional photographer Geoff Hammond teamed up with me for an original fashion shoot.  He takes seriously beautiful photos. What better way to show off a few of my favorite vintage finds?

DKNY top, Jacobies heels, vintage leather skirt and belly chain (worn as headband).

Nothing says “I’m a writer for today’s young, savvy audience” like posing with my beat-up Royal typewriter. We could have used his (he’s got some great antiques for doing a lot of old fashioned and retro pictures on iStock, but I got this sentimental chunk of metal for my 15th birthday.

Next comes an outfit for all your sophisticated garden party needs. The rain didn’t stop us from taking it outside!

Dolce and Gabbana dress, vintage hat, Geoff’s umbrella.

I’m kind of camera shy. When someone aims their lens at me at a party or something I instinctively just make a weird face. It seems that “unnatural” is my natural state. But Geoff and his lovely wife/assistant Martina were always ready with a joke to loosen me up.

American Apparel dress, Mossimo heels, vintage necklace and cocktail ring.

Check out more of his photography on his website,
, or his blog:

Role Models: Unfashion Show Promotes Personal Style

Fashion is superficial.

What you wear doesn’t mean anything.

Negative assumptions about fashion were challenged Sunday by an inclusive group of ladies, one stroll down the purple runway at a time.

The first ever Unfashion Show was hosted by BookWoman in north Austin. It wasn’t a showcase of unfashionable things, as the name might suggest, but rather a celebration of wearing whatever the hell you want. It was the fashion equivalent of an open mic, encouraging anyone who wanted to share her style to simply walk the runway and then explain to the audience why she chose her outfit or what it says about her. The event was created by the New Moon Girls national magazine and online community. The magazine is all about promoting creativity and self-esteem (no relation to the arguable threat to strong young women that is the “Twilight” series).

“There’s too much pressure to wear the ‘right’ clothes,” said Helen Cordes, the editor of New Moon Girls. She modeled her favorite outfit: flip-flops and a comfortable  dress made from olive-printed fabric she got in Madrid.

“Sometimes what we wear ends up not expressing who we really are,” Cordes lamented.

The gathering of women squeezed into a room amongst gay pride nick-knacks and feminist literature proved why that wasn’t the case for them.

The ensembles were as diverse as the crowd. Participants varied in age, race, and taste. Elementary school girls nervously shuffled in rhinestones and faux snakeskin pants. Mothers strolled between the rows of metal folding chairs and praised the convenience of pockets and slip-on shoes.  An elderly woman was pushed along the catwalk in a wheelchair by her daughter, who publicly thanked her for arguing at a 1960s PTA meeting that girls should be allowed to wear their tight jeans and miniskirts to school.

The show eventually turned into a discussion. Young girls talked about their required school uniforms. Older women shared stories from when they weren’t allowed to wear pants and were later discouraged from wearing them in the business world if they wanted to get ahead. A girl who recently returned from a Peace Corps assignment in Guatemala told us  about the long skirts necessary there.

“My fashion statement is more of a political  statement,” the owner of BookWoman said. Susan took to the runway in a baseball uniform to remind us of what Title IX did for girls’ athletics this month in 1972.

The Unfashion Show was not about looking trendy, but I snapped a few photos of girls whose self-expression happened to be pretty hip.

Abby Adamo’s whole outfit looked cool and easygoing.

Zoe Cordes Selbin wore a shirt signed by her favorite musician and a very seasonable floral skirt. She recommended the blog Austin is Burning to me.

Jesse Cordes Selbin modeled a dress that reminds her of when she wore it in Paris. Love her glasses and asymmetrical necklace!

The clothes make the man, they say.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I know these women make the statements.