Squeeze it, stretch it, smash it, pack it -- there's nothing you can do to the "Hugging Kisses" top to make it any more wrinkled than it already is. But, here's the good part: That's how it's supposed to look. Nordstrom is selling the tops, which are made from an age-old, Japanese tie-dying process called shibori. They can't keep them on the shelves, they say, which appears to suggest that more people than expected enjoy looking like a large pineapple.
The tops, which come in a variety of colors, are made by first sewing a T-shirt shape and then gathering hundreds of puckering pleats and hand-dying their tips. The pleats' stitches are then pulled out, and the result is a shirt that's now about 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall. That makes it hard to believe the "one size fits all" label, but once you put it on, the top conforms to fit your body -- with all those little puckers standing at attention and adding an extra inch or two to your silhouette. But in some places -- hey, that's not all bad.
Nordstrom sells the polyester, machine-washable shirts for $78, a heavy price perhaps, unless you take full advantage of their stretchability: Buy one for a toddler and watch it grow with her over the years.
A head start
Use elastic bands on your hair? Got any hair left?
The little buggers seem to rip out more strands than they hold, which leads one to believe there's just got to be a better way. Neal Head, Texas-based creator of NooDoos clips, might be on the right path with his invention -- but still a few blocks from the final destination.
Head's foam-lined, brightly colored plastic ponytail holders grasp hair without pulling or tearing because, unlike traditional ponytail holders, NooDoos don't get wrapped around a handful of hair. They simply clip on the pony, and the foam holds them in place. To take them out, just unclip.
There are still a few kinks to work out, though. The foam is held on by glue and falls off easily, and the closures can snag hair and break it. But they're still a step in the right direction. NooDoos come in four sizes and six colors and can be found at Claire's and Afterthoughts in packs of two ($6) to six ($10). -- T. B.
Shopping for elite bargains
Label hounds have a new spot to search for bargains, that is if they can get over the fact that the clothes on Style.com's auction site are used.
The site (http: / / auctions.style.com) puts up for sale items the shopping elite no longer have a use for: Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Donna Karan designs among them. Bid on dresses, outerwear, accessories, shades, suits, shoes and more, and pay a fraction of the original cost -- which for many of us is still pretty hefty. (A pair of size eight Ralph Lauren pumps sells for $250.) -- T. B.
Picturing the moment
Ever looked at a clothing ad and thought: "Huh?" Well, Catherine Chermayeff, former picture editor at Fortune magazine, has taken the photos from all those ambiguous ads and slapped them into a book.
"Fashion Photography Now" (Harry Abrams, $29.95) isn't trying to make it any easier to tell why a picture represents a product. Instead, it honors the pictures themselves as an art that captures a moment or an innuendo, which seems to be the key to fashion photography these days, anyway. It's all about the essence of the scene. The clothes are secondary -- a point this book drives home because most of the models in the photos are only half dressed.
The images beg reflection and careful analysis, almost as if they are puzzles to be solved through scrutiny, which makes the collection a great conversation starter.