Most stylish New Yorkers: The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas

The blogging duo surround themselves with a sea of tribal prints and goth accessories.

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  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "We find that when we both dress up, people think we're going to or coming from an event in the vicinity," says Valerie, right. "Dressing up is a great way to start a conversation." On the left, Jean strikes a pose in her "A Clockwork Orange look," complete with a Commes de Garons wool jacket and Zara harem pants.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean's black bowler hat, a Stetson purchased at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show (manhattanvintage.com), fits in nicely with these vintage '80s Revue frames from Fabulous Fanny's.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    These Lucite bangles also came from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, while the plastic die necklace is from one of Jean's favorite jewelry designers, Kirsten Hawthorne. Both the black and clear cube rings were scored at the Antiques Garage (112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-5343 hellskitchenfleamarket.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "I don't worry if someone doesn't like what I'm wearing, or doesn't understand it," declares Jean. Here, she wears matching die earrings from the now-defunct outdoor market on West 26th Street.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean lets her goth flag fly with these patent Dr. Martens boots, purchased at Mind Boggler (43 W 8th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-529-8755).

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     "Initially, I intended to get a graffiti artist to paint something wonderful on it, but I fell in love with it in its pristine condition, and kept it as is," says Valerie of this thrifted Calvin Klein suit. She wears it over a blouse by Allison Taylor, purchased at Syms (locations throughout the city; visitsyms.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Valerie commissioned Ignatius Hats (ignatiushats.com) to create a near-scale model of the Guggenheim museum---in hat form. The natural straw topper, complete with gossamer ties and a Swarovski-crystal reproduction of the building's skylight, gained her free admission to the museum. The checkerboard shades were purchased from a vendor on St. Marks Place.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean is not the only one who used to frequent the West 26th Street market---Valerie got these bull's-eye earrings there. "I so miss that market!" she laments. "I went nearly every weekend!"

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "The pink gold ring was my grandmother's," Valerie says of this zodiac ring. "She bought it in Tunis when she lived there in the '20s." The checkerboard bauble is from Pastec (437 E 12th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-219-3922).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "Valerie is more adventurous, more of a risk taker with color, fabric, texture," says Jean. "My look is probably harder-edged than hers." The ladies model their signature looks: Valerie in a yellow nylon jacket by Issey Miyake and red harem pants from a consignment shop, and Jean in black pants from Brigitte (The Ansonia, 2109 Broadway at 73rd St, room 1666; 212-226-4550, brigittenyc.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Valerie's jacket can be rolled up into a bag that's sewn into the neck seam. She tosses her ruffled Issey Miyake coat in the air---safely tucked into its pouch. Her linen polka-dot blazer is Missoni.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "This orange polyester blouse, labeled Juansilk, appealed to me because its whirlpool designs were reminiscent of Gustav Klimt's work," says Valerie of her swirly blouse. She picked up the necklace in Tokyo.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Valerie estimates that this velvet turban, purchased at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, dates back to 1940. Her ICU reading glasses (icueyewear.com) came from the Brooklyn Museum's store, and the plastic fruit earrings were bought at Pippin Vintage Jewelry (112 W 17th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-505-5159, pippinvintage.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    The warm color scheme continues with these vintage gloves from the erstwhile 26th Street market. "The yellow spotted velvet bangle is actually a dog's chew toy," says Valerie.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean adds leopard to the mix with this vintage Norma Kamali number from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show.

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    Jean matches her signature manicure color to her accessories. The red resin skull ring is by Made Her Think, while the rest of the Bakelite rings and bracelets come from her extensive vintage collection.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    The '40s Minnie Mouse hat was picked up at the Stella Piers Antique Show (stellashows.com) five years ago, while Jean's costume earrings came from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. The gum-ball necklace was scored at the GreenFlea Market (Columbus Ave between 76th and 77th Sts; greenfleamarkets.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "I cajoled one of the East Village shoe-repair guys who used to make the giant punk-rocker platform boots to make these for me," Jean says of her customized saw-tooth Dansko clogs (dansko.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "From my perspective, we keep each other on our toes," Jean says of the duo's blogging partnership. "I, for one, have to step up my game."

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "I'm only wearing black until they invent a darker color!" jokes Jean. She shows off her favorite hue with a black Louis Fraud blazer and a Kedem Sasson polka-dot skirt (kedem-sasson.com), purchased at Rosebud.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean's black-and-white resin skull rings are once again by Made Her Think, while the brass pinky ring is by Kirsten Hawthorne. The assorted '30s and '40s vintage bracelets are the result of 30 years of scouring flea markets, while the black felt skull purse is by Habla. "I love skulls on anything and everything," she says.

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    This vintage '50s hat was purchased at an antique show. Jean models Moss Lipow's "Scimitar" eye glasses and Japanese designer Ayaka Nishi's globe earrings (ayakanishi.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Jean purchased these Trippen boots at A Uno Tribeca. "I call them my Lady Gaga--for-granny shoes!"

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "These red, yellow and black stripes evoke the bands of the coral snake," Valerie says of her Yoshiki Hishinuma dress (yoshikihishinuma.co.jp). She pairs it with thrift-store black nubuck ankle boots by Arche (arche-shoes.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Valerie bought these wooden earrings in Japan and picked up the reading glasses at Syms. "Red seems to go with most of my current wardrobe, and simplifies my life," she says of her signature lipstick color.

     

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "This necklace is actually a hanging bud vase," says Valerie of her self-styled accessory, purchased at Sara Japanese Pottery (950 Lexington Ave between 69th and 70th Sts; 212-772-3243, saranyc.com).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    Valerie adds rainbow to the mix with this thrift-shop bracelet, paired with a red plastic ring from El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave between 104th and 105th Sts; 212-831-7272, elmuseo.org).

  • Photograph: Zenith Richards

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    "The volcano hat gives me the perfect excuse to have fun with my hair," says Valerie, who calls her current style a "mohawk on steroids." She got the vintage hat on eBay.

Photograph: Zenith Richards

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"We find that when we both dress up, people think we're going to or coming from an event in the vicinity," says Valerie, right. "Dressing up is a great way to start a conversation." On the left, Jean strikes a pose in her "A Clockwork Orange look," complete with a Commes de Garons wool jacket and Zara harem pants.

Jean, "sexagenerian," East Village, and Valerie, "woman of a certain age," Midtown East; style bloggers (idiosyncraticfashionistas.blogspot.com)

Jean's personal style: "Goth meets Sunset Boulevard."
Valerie's personal style: "I like wearing saturated color, bold, geometric patterns, nonstandard weaves and stark black and white. I love subtle surprises in my clothes that are only visible upon close inspection."

Jean's inspirations: "Anything Art Deco and Gotham—the city itself practically hums like a huge beehive."
Valerie's inspirations: "I think subconsciously Grace Jones of the '80s is a major style role model for me. She flouted convention and improved on it, or turned it on its head. She always looked as if she was celebrating something—even if it was only her very own private celebration. I also remember the amazing energy of Pat Cleveland on the runway in the '60s. Other models specialized in drop-dead-glamorous boredom, but Cleveland's nonstop exuberance more closely expresses the way I want to feel about my clothes."

Jean's favorite stores: "Fabulous Fanny's's (335 E 9th St between First and Second Aves; 212-533-0637, fabulousfannys.com) for the staff, the glasses and the accessories. Without fail, I find two or three things that I covet every time I go to Rosebud (131 Thompson St between W Houston and Prince Sts; 646-602-1565, rosebudsoho.com). It carries wearable, edgy, well-constructed, stylish dresses, skirts, pants and jackets that make my mouth water. Hands down, Lilith (227 Mulberry St between Prince and Springs Sts, 212-925-0080) has the best skirts. Each season I find something that haunts me: it literally sticks in my head. It also carries Trippen shoes (trippen.com). And A Uno Tribeca (123 W Broadway at Duane St; 212-227-6233)—that's my [all-time] favorite."
Valerie's favorite stores: "I love Barneys (660 Madison Ave at 61st St; 212-826-8900, barneys.com) because there's always something there that I've never seen or even thought of before. Recently, I fell in love with Balenciaga gauntlets that look as though Jackson Pollock had used them to clean his paintbrushes with. I love Issey Miyake (119 Hudson St at North Moore St; 212-226-0100, isseymiyake.com). He's always doing something that no one else has even dreamed of. It's a challenge to make one's way through the very narrow aisles of Century 21 (locations throughout the city; visit c21stores.com), but I applaud the chain for selling some really narrow, niche clothing that's fresh and creative. I also love Julie: Artisan's Gallery (762 Madison Ave between 65th and 66th Sts; 212-717-5959; julieartisans.com).

Jean's signature accessories: "My Louise Brooks silver bob, black glasses and black Bakelite cube ring."
Valerie's signature accessories: "I seem to be known for my hats. I have north of 50, most of which are vintage, and all of which get worn—always with the appropriate outfit."

Jean's favorite designers: "Eyeglass designer Moss Lipow (mosslipow.com). His frames are edgy verging on nerd. Kirsten Hawthorne, a jewelry designer based in the East Village, works in everything from rubber, brass and silver to gold, pearls, coral, semiprecious stones and diamond chips. Her work is infused with wit and charm. Meredith Katz's resin skulls for Made Her Think (madeherthink.com) from a couple of seasons ago continue to be my all-time favorites."
Valerie's favorite designers: "Biba Schutz (bibaschutz.com) is a jeweler/designer whose work reminds me of artist Lee Bonticou. Natalia Krasnodebska (bynatalia.com) is a young jeweler/designer who makes very interesting pieces in three-dimensional, geometric shapes and unusual materials."

How Jean's style has evolved through the years: "I've evolved from a '70s punk rocker with blue and pink spiked hair and an '80s wearer of big-shouldered suits into my current look, which includes draped, asymmetrical looks and a silver flapper bob. I still love Italian and French designers but now wear a lot more Asian designers, like Issey Miyake and Chunghie Lee (chunghielee.com). I wear more hats. I have become fearless. I trust my own choices and do not dress for anyone else."
How Valerie's style has evolved through the years: "It has expanded to accommodate my waistline. I find leather too heavy now. The range of colors available on the market has dropped sharply, so mixing and matching is not as much fun as it used to be. I have fewer options, so dressing is more challenging and demands more creativity from me than it did before."

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