KONZUK

The last year has left me feeling uninspired by clothes. Being pregnant created a body that still feels foreign and I find it difficult to dress. My shape has been in constant flux and, as a result, it's hard to know what to wear or buy.

A beautiful piece of jewelry always looks good though and when you aren't feeling at your best it's a simple way to elevate a basic look.

Simple clothes in neutral colors have been my go-to over the last few months. I've always been drawn to basics but, when you spend much of the day changing diapers and wiping spit-up off the chest of a newborn, they don't leave you feeling very chic or sophisticated. That's why I was instantly drawn to KONZUK. The brand's jewelry is elegant and invokes a degree of calm in the wearer. The stellar collection is made from stainless steel and concrete that is sprinkled with diamond dust. This unlikely pairing references the night sky - bright stars scattered across an infinite black. It's impossible to wear the jewelry without feeling somewhat grounded. The symmetry lends a degree of balance that life with a 3 month old, or perhaps anyone's life, can benefit from. For that reason, and because they garner a lot of compliments, they've been a steadfast feature in my post-pregnancy wardrobe.

KONZUK jewelry & Celtic & Co. sweater on The Style Crusader
KONZUK jewelry & Celtic & Co. sweater on The Style Crusader
Firecracker Press

By happenstance I found myself at a print fair back in June put on by The Firecracker Press. While I was there I realized a few things: Pyro makes the best pizza in St Louis (seriously), exploring areas that appear to be out of your comfort zone is a completely worthwhile endeavor and the print world is a mysterious creature which I want to know more about.

A few weeks later I headed back for a tour of the company's design and print studio. My knowledge of print is extremely limited but I'm pretty mesmerized by it. It's one of those magical things that is all around but often goes unnoticed. I'm really interested in the way fonts are put together and used to form a brand's identity. I always thought those sorts of things were done (and dreamt up) in far away places atop towering skyscrapers set within big city skylines.

Not so.

The Firecracker Press is based on the outskirts of downtown St Louis in a completely inconspicuous neighborhood. Walking by you would never guess that within its discreet walls sits a collection of antique printers used to bring together modern design with techniques long forgotten. 

 

Eric Woods founded The Firecracker Press back in 2002 to bring together his love for graphic design and traditional forms of craftsmanship. The enterprise truly does exactly what he set out to accomplish. At a time when cheap design is available in abundance it's refreshing to see an organization creating in a way that is more time consuming, thoughtful and labour intensive. The invention of print was revolutionary but nowadays printers are often reserved to offices and university libraries. With so much moving online it's easy to overlook the importance and significance of printers. To see antique ones being brought back to life and serving their original purpose through restoration is inspiring. 

The Firecracker Press create completely bespoke materials using old printing techniques that have been cast aside by most others in their field. Equipment that would normally be viewed as out-of-date is restored and brought back to life. The studio is like a working museum that fuses functionality and commerce with history. 

The company is big on humor. Many of their pieces touch on the everyday idiosyncrasies of life. Dirty diapers. Dutch ovens. Dancing naked in the summer with the fan on. These are all topics referenced in their most recent collection of greeting cards. They are simple yet sweet and capture the imagination of any onlooker that is open to having a cheeky laugh.

They also do a great selection of items that focus on St Louis.

If you're passing through the city, or even if you're a local resident, visit one of their two locations on Cherokee or North 14th Street. There are tons of quirky cards and notebooks to be purchased and prints to make a statement on your wall. 

All the items serve as a great reminder of the diversity and talent that can be found in the most unexpected places of our city.

Massive thank you to Missy at The Firecracker Press for inviting me down. 

Overcoming the obsession to shop

Sunday morning trips to car boot sales were what I grew up on. My clothes were hand me downs or were found in charity shops. I felt like I stood out in all the wrong ways and all I wanted was to blend in.

Under stimulated by my clothes and thanking God daily for the invention of the school uniform, hope came in the form of a part-time job when I turned 16. No more 'I can take this in a little and it’ll be perfect' and no more awkward hemlines. I was finally free of second-hand clothing and had the independence to make my own sartorial choices. I became known as 'that girl who shops a lot'.

 

 

I’d hold my friends hostage for hours while I tried on garment after garment... 

 

 

Every afternoon was spent in Forever21/Miss Selfridge, taking up temporary residence in the changing rooms. I’d hold my friends hostage for hours while I tried on garment after garment. Checking the “new in” section of Topshop’s website became routine practice over breakfast. The staff at my favorite stores and the UPS delivery guys became my acquaintances.

I was addicted.

Often I would read about the horrors of sweatshops. The awful hardships workers would have to endure. Hours on end bent over a sewing machine. They’d often be tired and hungry but still were committed to making our cheap clothing. My thoughts never stayed with them very long. Soon I would be opening another tab, gloating over a new chiffon dress and wondering if it would go with the black strappy shoes I had bought a week earlier.

It was the Rana Plaza tragedy that really helped put things into focus. The garment factory crumbled and crashed, killing over one thousand people. Most of them were women. It took this event to make people aware of the extent that some suffer for our disposable fashion addiction.

 

 

I inspected my wardrobe and it overflowed with greed. Half of the items were hardly worn and some still had price tags intact.  

 

 

I inspected my wardrobe and it overflowed with greed. Half of the items were hardly worn; some still had price tags intact. It forced me to consider my spending. I had played a part in all this. People’s lives were being lost as a result of my purchases. But it wasn’t just that, I realised I didn’t appreciate clothes anymore. I just wanted something new and as soon as that new item had been worn and banished to the back of my wardrobe, I was out there, clawing at the rails in search of my new fix. I had become a magpie, only interested in the shiny. 

It was then that I became more thoughtful about what I spent money on, researching brands before committing to buy. The silly assumption I made was that the fancy high-street shops that sell better quality clothes have decent working conditions. But that's not necessarily the case.

Burdened by the unsafe working environments for workers in poorer countries and the guilt I had from not appreciating my clothes, I put an end to my fast-fashion habit. This choice led to a renewed love for my existing wardrobe. Sometimes I still scan eBay and pop into a charity shop but now my wardrobe is my favourite place to look for clothes because I challenge myself to get new experiences from the clothes I already have.

My mind-set towards fashion and clothing has changed. I no longer associate 'new' with shopping. Plus, those hand me downs and charity shop finds I disliked so much as a kid have taken on a whole new appeal.

 

Written by Lola Byatt

Essentials

Bright and bold accessories are fun but simple pieces in classic color-ways are what we love the most.

Take this TRIWA watch, for example. It will never go out of style. The face is large without being overbearing and the gold accents make a statement but don't look obnoxious. It works just as well on a man as it does a woman. It's the perfect, wear anytime/anywhere, watch. 

These glasses by Hardy Amies are also a keeper. I've had them for years and keep coming back to them season after season. They have a retro old-school glamor about them but not in an obvious played out sort of way. They have little details that make them feel special (the brand's signature square monogram sits along each arm) but they are incredibly discreet. 

Quality craftsmanship and attention to detail are what make a brand compelling. Much like this USA greeting card, it might not look like anything special at first but when you dig a little deeper there is a whole history and process behind its creation. That is exactly what we are looking for in our essentials.

Sunglasses by Hardy Amies via Task PR, watch by TRIWA via Sane Communications and USA postcard from I AM HERE found at the Firecracker Press print fair.

Words & photos by Jennifer Inglis

SLAM Dunk

It's really easy to get down on a city like St Louis. It's not a place you often hear people talking about - at least not in a positive way. It doesn't stand out as a cultural highlight or rank highly on the list of most people's travel list. But that's what adds to its charm.

St Louis is the sort of city that requires its visitor to work a little.

Don't bother googling '10 best things to do in St Louis' or turn to Yelp for a list of our best restaurants. It's not that easy. The same things will come up every time. Check out the City Museum, hit up Pappy's Smokehouse, go up to the top of the Arch. These are all great and I'd recommend anyone to do them but it's the less obvious things about St Louis that really make it a treasure. 

Take the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) for example. 

It is overflowing with world class paintings that, in no way, look like they belong in the Midwest. If you are interested in the big guns then Picasso, Monet and Chagall should float your boat. If you'd like something more off-beat then there are Warhols, Segal and Lichtensteins to tickle your fancy. Go down stairs and you'll find ancient artifacts. Or just wander around the main hall and oggle at the larger than life flower displays set against ceilings that reach up higher than the sky. 

There is truly something for everyone.

Even those that are uninterested in art can take refuge outside under the 56 foot stainless steel tree that casually sits in the grounds next the museum. So inconspicuous is it that every time we take people to the SLAM I have to point it out lest it go unnoticed.

Much like the museum itself and St Louis as a whole, unless someone takes the time to point out how awesome it is, it might get overlooked. And that, I'm afraid, would be a terrible shame.

Tank top from Old Navy, Rowan pant borrowed from Pink Sheep Heiress, slides from Urban Outfitters, Nixon customized watch courtesy of Sane Communications, canvas bag from Ganni and bittersweet hair tie bracelet courtesy of The Grommet.

Words by Jennifer Inglis

Photos taken at The St Louis Art Museum by The Style Crusader

Timeless

Trends come and go each season but, to me, what's really interesting are the pieces in your wardrobe that are able to stand the test of time. 

A chambray shirt, for example, or a simple black leather skirt might be pieces that you reach for continuously. An easy go-to cross body bag could also be something you come back to. Sometimes our staples change. I used to be a die-hard Converse devotee. But, in the last couple of years I've switched over to loving slip-on Vans. They might not be timeless in the same way that Audrey Hepburn is but they've got a certain longevity - at least in my wardrobe.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for a funky trend.

Oversized plastic lightning bolt earrings? I've worn them. Socks and sandals? Been there. Floral jeans? Well, I haven't had a pair recently but I did wear them back in 1999. 

Every once in a while I'll buy a throw-away fashion magazine just to get reacquainted with what's trending this season. It's fun to know. Plus I love seeing how ready-to-wear collections filter down and how the street style stars are wearing their clothes. Trends give you ideas and help you think about your closet in a fresh new way.

All I'm really trying to say here is that I'm a sucker for a trend just like the next fashion blogger but I like my go-to staples more. They are the building blocks that your whole wardrobe is based on. If you don't have the timeless basics down then your foundations aren't solid. 

Timeless pieces might look ordinary but they can actually be beautiful and inspiring - much like a cow's face or a winding road.

Words by Jennifer Inglis

Photos by Stephanie Bannon Photography

Shot in Stienen, Germany. Featuring: chambray denim shirt from J. Crew, cross body croc bag from & Other Stories, teal plastic sunglasses courtesy of River Island, checkerboard slip-on sneakers from Vans and leather skirt courtesy of IPR London

Post No Bills

Language is a mine field. The words we choose to use and the underlying meaning behind what we say and hear is of crucial importance. 

Our understanding of a word is often not as straightforward as being provided a simple definition. Feminism. Conservative. Fashion. Their meanings are in flux. They have a historical story as well as a place in contemporary culture. The way I understand feminism today is not how I understood it ten years ago and, surely, it is not the same as the way my mom understood the word back in the 1970s. 

The way we perceive and use language is influenced by the media, politicians, Instagram captions, books, movies, our friends. We're influenced by everything around us and all of the subtle changes taking place within society are slowly (or abruptly) altering the way we understand and use specific words. 

Tate Foley's exhibition, Post No Bills, taps into this idea.

Currently on show at the Contemporary Art Museum in St Louis, Foley's display of large-scale sculptures work to reframe the language of protest. This is particularly relevant in a divided city that sits within a nation struggling to wrap its head around the implications of an upcoming election. 

Language is of crucial importance because it provides people with a voice. It is when people feel that their voice cannot be heard (or is not valued) that a society truly starts to break down. 

Created using a Risograph, words such a 'bourgeoisie', 'systematic' and 'explicit' are deconstructed into their phonetic components and attached to wooden structures.

Ultimately, the typography resembles gibberish. What looks like random combinations of letters are collaged together, creating colorful montages that are juxtaposed by the simple shades of wood that form the sculpture's structure.

The Contemporary Art Museum describes Post No Bills as an installation that dismantles systems of power. While the benefits and risks of doing this are far too complex to dive into here one thing is abundantly clear from Foley's work: print is not dead.

Foley's ability to turn, what looks like, a simple combination of letters into larger-than-life sculptures with captivating aesthetic value is alarming. At a time when magazines and newspapers are struggling, and most people no longer own a simple printer, his use of old-school printing techniques breathes new life into the future of print. 

A printers worth is no longer found in its ease-of-use, cheap ink or speed.

Being able to utilize a printer from the 1980s and produce a work of art as captivating as Post No Bills is truly a sign of Foley's ingenuity and resourcefulness as a contemporary artist.

Post No Bills is being shown at the Contemporary Art Museum in St Louis as part of the Great Rivers Biennial. Exhibition runs until August 21, 2016.

Photos and words by Jennifer Inglis.

A bright future

Headlines and conversation might lead one to believe the future is bleak. Daily tragedy outweigh human triumph in the news and often cast shadow over how we perceive ourselves. 

The contrast between those that have and those that have naught is abundantly clear. At no time in the fashion calendar is that more apparent than during the couture shows. The mentality of 'us' versus 'them' runs rife. Separation is apparent in society as well as in fashion.

But there's reason to think these boundaries are beginning to break down. Digital media is morphing our understanding of everything from political imagery to art and daily occurrences are now being digested and remembered in a new way. For the first time attendees are able to stream couture shows from their front row seat via Snapchat (doodling on the clothes and giving dog faces to the models) thereby giving anybody with a smartphone immediate access to a world that was once kept apart from most of society. 

The repercussions of this democratisation of fashion are up for debate.

At the Christian Dior show the models wore, what essentially looked like, a pretty bog-standard flip flop. Does me (or you) knowing this information impact society in any great way? Probably not. It was, however, the reason I reached for my Havaianas this morning when I haven't worn them in years. My excitement for the couture shows is lost on most people. Undoubtedly there wasn't a single person I came across today that saw my shoes and drew any connection to Dior. 

I did though.

When I wore those shoes today I knew every time I looked down at my feet that I was channeling a little bit of something special. Sure, they are old dirty flip flops but when I look at them now I imagine them adorned with jewels and a ribbon that wraps around my ankle and ties in a perfect little bow at the front. I see their potential. I see myself as part of something bigger and more beautiful than my everyday life. I see a connection to couture - a fantastical dream world that transcends reality and the simple (or sometimes not so simple) struggles we face everyday. 

Christian Dior Fall 2016

Photos by Alessandro Garofalo via Vogue.com

Words by Jennifer Inglis

 

POKETO

Do you ever stumble upon a website and enter a black hole of clicking through every product listed? You start drooling, and pin every other item you come across in a board that only you and you mom can see that's full of ideas for future presents? That happened to me with Poketo.


The offerings are design led but not in that over done everyone-has-already-posted-it-to-Instagram sort of way.

It's unique.  It's different. It's what you've been looking for.


There are plenty of perfect pieces to gift yourself or to book mark for your besties upcoming birthday. My favorites include the gold minimalist jewelry, black-on-black watch, pink clay mask and an artsy phone case which has me wanting to cover my phone for the first time in years. I also love their stationary, which is quirky and isn't overpriced. If you aren't familiar with the brand yet then go check them out. They are rather glorious and I promise you will get hooked.


The Super Sleeve

The super sleeve isn't totally new. Rosetta Getty, Jacquemus, Vetements and Charlie May have all been championing it in recent seasons.

Say those brands and you automatically summon an effortlessly cool vibe. One that is discreet, edgy, laid back and, most likely, worn by the type of girls you wish you were.

Michael Kors definitely doesn't fit into the same mix.

Kors is decidedly more mainstream than most of the designers that have been embracing the super sleeve. He's known for a refined aesthetic that's tailored and reserved - the sort of clothes that are practical and veer somewhere between what you might expect from Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren. He's as American as they come and doesn't usually mess with the failsafe styles that keep customers coming back time and time again. To summarize, he's conservative. And the super sleeve, which obscures your hands thereby making it difficult to eat or use your phone, is the opposite of conservative.


Thankfully Kors decided to relax a bit with this collection and embrace a styling trick that transformed the feel of the whole show. 


Predictable and preppy looks suddenly got roughed up and messy due to the super sleeve. Kors shows that the easiest way to update a classic white shirt is to stretch the length of the sleeve a few inches. There is a youthful nonchalance about this collection and it's all due to that wonderful super sleeve.

Benefits of wearing the super sleeve include the ability to go without gloves, the lack of a needed manicure, and the fact that you have an ever present tea cozy attached to your arm. Personally I'm quite keen because I figure I'll be using the extra long sleeve to wipe up the snot of a newly acquired tot come fall.

Photos via Vogue Runway

Michael Kors fall 2016