Improvised Life » apparel If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:14:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Our FIX for the Flawed Cos Backpack Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:50 +0000

Sally Schneider

In July, we posted a compelling backpack we’d bought from the stylish COS site only to discover that its design was profoundly flawed. If you put all but the lightest items in it, its magnetic closure instantly popped open, inviting strangers to dip their hand into the bag and steal our wallet (image below).  In that post, we experimented with a possible fix by using binder clips. Since the approach seemed workable, during our recent break we hacked the straps and sewed on sliding holders. We’re proud to say our fix WORKED: a lesson in trying ideas out, and flexing our own untrained design muscles to make things better or at the very least learn a few things.  (more…)

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Huge Linen Shirt Becomes a TeaTowel Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:36:53 +0000

Marella Consolini

This just in from our friend Marella Consolini (whose daybooks with custom covers we love):

A new improvised project! Jimmy bought a gorgeous linen shirt on eBay for pennies, that turned out to be about a hundred sizes too big. But I fell in love with the pattern and the quality of the linen. Rather than send it on to the thrift shop, I folded it up and put it in my drawer, certain that I’d eventually figure out something to do with it.

Finally it dawned on me: the back was big enough to turn into a small pillow case or a towel — yes, a linen tea towel, which I love best! (more…)

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An Embroidered Fix for Torn, Treasured Fabric Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:00:52 +0000

Virginia del Giudice

We recently received another inspiring fabric fix from Virginia del Giudice, photographer and co-owner with Alejandra Agüero of La Percalina, a fine vintage clothing shop in Buenos Aires. 

Alejandra and I had a beautifully made maxi skirt from the sixties at La Percalina. We worked on it for days to clean and restore it and when it was ready to be hunged we found a little hole at the front!  I had to do something to rescue this beauty!

This is what we did:


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Sculptural, Dimensional Textiles—for Couture or DIY Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:00:05 +0000

Zita Merényi

We love designer Zita Merényi’s Provo-CUT collection of seared-and-soldered neoprene garments. Forgoing traditional draping and stitching, these pieces are instead constructed panel-by-panel, pleated together, and heat-joined into dimensional, puffy, future-ish jackets and cloaks punctuated by thick, raw seams and unlikely openings. The gist: synthetic fabics melt, so heat, not thread can be used to join the seams. (more…)

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Annals of Bad Design: COS Lightweight Backpack + Our FIX Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:01:02 +0000

Sally Schneider

When we looked at images of the COS Lightweight Backpack online and read the product description we thought PERFECT. Just what we’re looking for:

Made from a lightweight technical fabric, this cotton-lined backpack has an all-over print and fastens using a magnet and wide drawstring. Multi-functional, it can also be worn as a tote bag using the two top handles.

We ordered one and the harsh realities set in. (more…)

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Chic Newspaper Hat (Inge Morath) Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:29:04 +0000

Ilse Bing

We love this curiously stylish newspaper hat that a new dealer wore in 1947 in Paris at Place de la Concorde. Captured by the great Inge Morath.  Dig the little ends turned up. “Chic” can be fashioned out of pretty much anything!


With thanks to Chris Eldredge! 

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Closet Strategies with a Simple Piece of Fabric Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:00:05 +0000

Since when is it hip, slick and cool to lie in bed and stare at your clothes and shoe racks––no matter how neatly organized––when you’re rustling up romance? I’m talking about a very particular theme of design porn these days: highly-styled, out-in-the-open clothes racks that make me wonder: What would happen in this uber-neuter scheme if one dared to own something scarlet, purple or orange!  Is it old school not to want to have all your clothes in your face 24/7?


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DIY Fake Fingernail (Vegetable) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:00:24 +0000

Holton Rower

Holton Rower sent us his latest off-the-cuff improvisation, done while making dinner: an inspired fake fingernail made of celery.

Hmmm. Wondering about that exact moment when Holton SAW the possibilities in an ordinary stalk of celery.


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Use the Difficulty (Michael Caine) Wed, 25 Jun 2014 08:17:53 +0000

(Video link HERE.) I was bogged down today in a creative funk, head-buttingly blocked, wandering in a dark wood, wrestling with a component for a necklace that is carved from clear, rock crystal so that it seemed, well… simply invisible. How do you showcase something invisible?

I recalled something I’d read in an interview long ago with actor Michael Caine: (more…)

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DIY Fab Paint-Spattered Jumpsuit Wed, 11 Jun 2014 17:00:35 +0000

Bemanoy Photography

At Design Boom, we stumbled on an art installation called Third Eye by the band, the Krrrrr, and artist Anya Muangkote. Barbarians that we can be, we couldn’t really wrap our heads around the art, but are smitten with the paint-splattered jumpsuits.  Now there’s a swell outfit that would also be quite thrilling to make.

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Conceptual HIGH Heel Redesign: Oh Yeah??? Thu, 05 Jun 2014 23:00:36 +0000

Silvia Fado

We USED to wear high, wild high heels. Over the years, the heals have slowly come down in height as we find ourselves unable to walk tilted forward…and because we really want to WALK, far and fast. Footwear designer Silvia Fado put her creativity to work solving the problems of unwearable heels, that, while they make a woman’s legs look great, make the woman herself FEEL lousy. 

“I have been analysing comfort elements in footwear, and specially studied and developed impact absorption, shoe weight, traction (the relationship between shoe and surface) and upper durability,”

Fado uses hydraulic pistons and rubber balls in the heels of her shoes, aiming to improve the wearability of high heels, which are like sculptures.

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A Net Bag Becomes a Scarf and Necklace + DIY Thu, 05 Jun 2014 17:00:59 +0000

Sinnae Choi

A couple of weeks ago I met Virginia del Giudice at Maria Robledo’s house. Virginia is a long-time Improvised Life reader, photographer and co-owner of La Percalinaa shop that sells very fine vintage clothes in Buenos Aires whose stained fabric fix Improvised Life posted recently. That evening, she presented me with the most lovely gift: a net bag made by Kichi indians in the north of Argentina. She said: “When I read your post about these king of bags, I decided you should have this one.” And what I beauty it is, made with natural fibers and dyes; I did not want to put it down. Something made me drape it around my neck and loop it like a scarf so I could wear it:  A suprising, impromptu use of a beautiful neg bag: (more…)

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How to Salvage Stained Cloth: Embroider It! Thu, 29 May 2014 20:00:46 +0000

Sally Schneider

Recently we met Virginia del Giudice, a long-time Improvised Life reader who lives in Buenas Aires, and whose post about giving home-made lemon-scented olive oil as gifts (with a template to make the label) we published several years ago. Virginia is a photographer who is also co-owner of La Percalina, a shop that sells very fine vintage clothes. She was visiting our mutual friend, Maria Robledo. Virginia has both a wonderful eye AND, we discovered, a fine hand with fabrics.

When Maria told her she had taken down beautiful kitchen curtains because of the permanent oil stains on them, Virginia said, “Don’t worry, Maria, I can fix them.”

We spotted and admired Virginia’s beautiful “fix” halfway through the process: (more…)

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The “Let Men Wear Skirts” Movement Wed, 07 May 2014 23:00:04 +0000

Women wear pants. Let Men wear skirts.

Our friend Chris Eldredge alerted us to a fashion trend he’s noticed: Men Wearing Skirts. He said that he’s seen a number of stylishly dressed men wearing skirts lately —definitely NOT in drag. Interesting. A search took us to The Facebook page of Women Wear Pants. Let Men Wear Skirts, which features a lot of compelling examples (below).  We love its philosophy, which is curiously in line with Improvised Life: (more…)

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