Like the George Gershwin song goes, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” Especially if your workweek is cut short thanks to “Summer Fridays.” The extra hours go a long way in making every weekend seem like a holiday. If you’re short on inspiration for your own Summer Fridays, just look to our new season-long series in which we ask industry people with cool jobs to share how they’ll be spending their free afternoons.
There are very few people who can seamlessly bring together the art, fashion, and social sets the way Bettina Prentice does. Maybe it’s because her company, Prentice Art Communications, throws some of the best parties in town—remember the Museum of Arts and Design 1920s gala a few months ago? But on summer weekends, this native New Yorker chooses not to roll with the city’s most-often-invited. Instead, you can find her at the family home in the Hamptons, spending time with the only VIP that matters: her toddler, Henry. Here’s how she spends her Summer Fridays:
“In a perfect world my husband would have Fridays off, but typically he can’t leave work early, so it is my day to pal around with my son, Henry. On summer weekends, I’m in my uniform of long boho dresses and sandals, with SPF head to toe. Henry’s up at 6:30 a.m., and after breakfast we go to Lake Agawam to feed the ducks or romp around the playground at The Little Red School House in Sagaponack. In the afternoon I love picnic lunches with my dear friend Casey Fremont and her adorable son, Rex, under a shady tree. We pull the kids around in a red Radio Flyer, much to their delight, and Rex, who is several months older, carefully holds on to Henry so he doesn’t fall out. Later, while Henry takes his nap, I read the Times‘ Weekend Arts section and tackle New York magazine’s crossword—good brain exercise. I haven’t made it yet this summer, but I am dying to go to sunset Fridays at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Bridgehampton to see my friend Joey Wölffer and some live music.”
Even though I was just a kid in the nineties, I feel like I’m actually experiencing the decade’s trends thanks to the latest surge of nineties nostalgia. With that in mind, I was very excited to see the new MyTheresa capsule collection of reissued Calvin Klein classics, which launched Wednesday. (Kate Moss’ little sister, Lottie, is the new face.) The CK logo sweatshirts are probably selling out as we speak, but I’m gravitating more toward these light-wash overalls. I’d wear them rolled-up with slides and a striped tee during the day, then elevate them with strappy sandals and a red lip for evening. The added bonus? They totally fall into the “art-teacher chic” trend we’re into right now. Rest assured I’ll be wearing these to Sunday brunch, not pottery class.
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“Festival fashion—that shit’s annoying,” says Meredith Graves, the front woman of diaristic noise rock band Perfect Pussy, over the phone. She’s not talking about the flower crowns and cutoffs that have become synonymous with Coachella per se, but the cultural appropriation that’s become rampant. “I’m the last person in the world who’s going to judge anyone for dressing in a way that makes them feel happy, but if I see one more girl wearing a fake Native American headdress, I’m going to start swinging. I don’t understand how people in 2014 can be so in the dark.”
The pink pixie-haired singer is excited to sound off on fashion right now—especially because, coming from a punk background, her interest in it has often been overlooked and even mocked. But the former seamstress has a lot of insights and optimism about the industry. Here, Graves candidly speaks on shock art; her favorite designer as of late, Samantha Pleet; and what she’ll be wearing when she plays Pitchfork Music Festival this Sunday. Safe to say, it won’t be like anything you’d see at Coachella.
In the past you’ve said that people often assume you’re not interested in fashion. Has that generally stopped happening?
On one hand, I’m extraordinarily interested in it and I’m not the type of musician who’s going to be favorited by designers. On the other hand, I talk about it and I’m considered deeply superficial by people who are from where I’m from. So there’s no happy medium—but since I was a teenager, I’ve always been picked on for the way I dress, so I’m kind of used to fashion being something I love that no one else understands.
What was your reaction when you first started seeing your band’s name in the headlines?
The people in our band have a strong background in the punk and hard-core scene, which means we’ve grown up with band names like Anal Cunt. For me, it’s not a big deal. I have friends in a Toronto band called S.H.I.T. This is just what I’m from. I think shocking art is pertinent to the genre we play. If people want to pay attention to us because of the name, that’s great; if they want to pay attention to us because we make noisy music, that’s great; if they want to pay attention to us because they like our politics, that’s great, too. I’m just really honored to be making music that some people like.
It seems like everything happened pretty quickly.
It literally happened overnight. It was a fairy tale. But ever since I was a child, I’ve always felt like I was a magnet for strange circumstances. I’ve had every job over the sun: I’ve been a cake baker, a seamstress, and a bartender in a town with a thousand people in it. I read a lot of books, so I’m used to the strange plot of things happening to the strange girl out of nowhere. I just watched Funny Face for the first time the other day, and I thought, That’s me: I’m a weird, philosophy-loving mediocre mousy beatnik from the middle of nowhere who overnight gets taken to Paris and put in designer clothes.
How did you form a relationship with Samantha Pleet?
I’m a longtime fashion-blogging enthusiast. I was an early adopter of LiveJournal when I was a teenager, and I made friends sharing on fashion groups that I’m still good friends with today—one of them is Hannah Metz, the co-owner of the vintage shop The Loved One, who’s friends with Samantha. I’ve admired Samantha’s designs for a while, and we started talking through Instagram. We ended up hanging out in NYC a month ago, and I tried on a bunch of her new designs for Spring, and out of the goodness of her heart, she gave me this beautiful dress for a big photo shoot I had a few days later. I’ve worn it so much I feel like it’s going to yell at me.
There are a few other women I know who have that dress, and I’m honored to share their ranks: Maggie Gyllenhaal and one of the sisters from First Aid Kit. I think Samantha is a voice. Her designs are so beautiful. They fit me so well.
I would think that you would be the ideal customer because you have a good grasp on how clothes should fit from your seamstress years.
Let’s face it: I’m 5’11″, I’m a size 6 or 8, and I’ve got a 38-inch chest. There isn’t a designer in the world who wants to dress me. Nobody wants to put me in their clothes, because I look like a boy in a dress. So I find crazy thrift store stuff and hold out for friends like Samantha who design wonderful things for bodies like mine.
What are your thoughts on how the fashion industry handles sizing?
I was a high schooler during the era of the Eastern European models, when everyone looked 12 and weighed 90 pounds. I’ve always followed fashion, and I was a seamstress for a long time and I would fit women for gowns. I’ve seen what the old industry did to women psychologically, and the shift I’ve seen in the last few years has been exponential. I’m proud of people who are pushing against the program. I still don’t think there’s nearly enough representation, but it’s definitely improved.
How has your style evolved since you started playing in bands?
I see it all as one continuum. People used to pick on me and say, “You don’t know who you are. You go through phases: You’re punk one day, the next day you’re wearing something that makes you look like you’re from the forties, and the next day you’re in a wig.” I went through a phase where I wore a wig all of the time and that was really fun. I think one of the most wonderful things in fashion is that you can do that. For someone like me who has a background in costume and theater, it’s fun to wake up every day and decide who I want to be. How I’ve dressed the last month or so is different from how I used to dress. Clothing and aesthetics make me incredibly happy. Even the anti-aesthetic is an aesthetic. Not caring about the way you look is a choice, and it shapes you and the way the world sees you.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Margaret Howell and A.P.C. If I could just have a wardrobe full of those two designers, I would never need another thing in my life. That’s how I prefer to dress. I like simple, well-made clothes that make me feel like I’m in a French film circa 1961.
Will you be wearing anything special for your Pitchfork set?
The festival is definitely an event, and for me that means stepping it up and trying to elevate my style. Right now I’m planning on wearing a new dress that I love so much it’s hanging on the wall in my bedroom. It makes me feel confident.
Art-Teacher Chic: The Trend That Takes Oversize, Modest, and Comfortable Clothes Out of the Classroom-------
Trends are fun to talk about, but they don’t feel real until you see them, totally unforced, in the wild. I recently stopped by Poketo, a gallery-meets-lifestyle store in L.A.’s burgeoning Arts District. One of the most stylish women I saw there was wearing a chambray shirt so oversized it fell into an A-line, a pair of black ankle-length trousers, and clogs. Not the girlish, almost-pretty kind of clogs—the black leather orthopedic kind. Her style was practical, unfussy, simple. But more than anything, she reminded me of my fourth-grade art teacher.
Art-teacher chic—loose tunics, big ceramic necklaces, modest shoes—has become the go-to uniform for fashion-y women who are done with overdone.
“My assistant buyer always calls her style ‘art-teacher chic,’ so it has definitely been on my radar,” says Jen Mankins, owner of Brooklyn boutique chain Bird. “I like the idea of a 1970s Upper West Side art teacher—like Woody Allen’s second wife, Robin, in Annie Hall.”
It’s sort of always around, this art-teacher thing. “I feel there has always been an undercurrent of this look in the designers I work with, such as Rachel Comey, Suno, and Marni, as well as influential brands such as Prada,” Mankins says. “But more recently, I think a defining proponent of this trend has been Phoebe Philo at Céline, with her oversize coats, long skirts, big knits, and big flat sandals.” For Spring, Comey designed a denim apron dress that was hand-flecked with paint, as if the wearer had just spent three weeks in a pottery class. CP Shades, a three-decades-old line that deals primarily in loose tops and dresses made from natural fabrics, has been one of Bird’s top sellers this season—its chambray linen V-neck dress and tunic feeding right into the frenzy.
The idea was even more pronounced in the Resort 2015 collections, where both emerging and established labels presented their own versions of what an art teacher should look like. At Objects Without Meaning—a newish line out of Los Angeles—designer Alexandra Michelle paired her printed coveralls with long necklaces strung with ceramic geometric shapes. Acne Studio’s Jonny Johansson showed a purple V-neck dress worn over matching leggings—and sensible flat booties, of course. The Row’s mid-calf skirts, Enzo Bonafè oxfords, and cap-sleeve coats could belong to a faculty member at the world’s most elite private school. While Object Without Meaning’s Michelle says that she’s not thinking “art teacher” when she’s designing, “I definitely wake up in the morning knowing that I need to be comfortable today.”
Indeed, art-teacher chic is part of a bigger a movement toward relaxed fashion, whether that means couture sneakers or normcore jeans. But will women forgo their waists in droves to experience the ease of an art teacher’s uniform? “I think the style comes out of a desire to look and feel interesting and creative without being too masculine or overtly sexy,” Mankins suggests. Although that doesn’t mean she won’t tweak the look just a little by occasionally showing a slice of skin or swiping those clogs for stilettos. “Like most trends, it should never be executed too literally.”