Au Courant

SOMETHING ABOUT A BAILOUT: Is it just me, or does it feel a tad-oh, I don’t know-frivolous/sacrilegious/just plain wrong to be thinking about fashion and shopping in times like these? I mean, in case you missed the memo, the sky is falling. And falling skies call for cozy knits, comfortable boots, a chic umbrella, maybe a chapeau. : But seriously. In times of stress, even we stylephiles crave comfort: whether in the form of a bottle of two-buck Chuck and a Project Runway marathon or a pair of Chuck Taylors and an afternoon of (sigh) window shopping. But hey, we will get by. We will survive. We will try not to get hit on the head by chunks of falling sky. And we sure as hell know better than to open up our 401K statements. If, against all odds, you do find yourself shopping sometime soon, remember: Santa Barbara’s locally owned boutiques need you, so consider any dollars you drop in such shops charitable donations. If only the IRS saw things my way.

UNDEAD DUDS: Vintage-minded folk in need of a Halloween costume would do well to check out Cominichi’s (421 E. Cota St.). While it’s always a good move to give fashionable cast-offs a second life, Halloween is all the more reason. Would-be flappers, Goodfellas-era gangsters, and pin-up girls will score everything they need to pull off a Thriller of a transformation, as well as a special treat: this year, for the first time, Cominichi’s is offering rentals. (Although, if you find a flapper dress that suits you, methinks you’d be a fool to let it go.)

POLITEES: Remember when the election was the only big news? Obviously, it’s still pretty important. Yet, in the face of the latest horrific news regarding The Economy, Stupid (or is it the stupid economy?), debates, pandering, and untruthful mud-slinging seem almost quaint. Wildly inappropriate political humor? Bring it on! Go to to check out local tattoo artist Pat Fish’s take on the times that would make even Tina Fey blush. Prepare to be amused and offended-just like watching Governor Six-Pack “debate.” In fashion as in politics, there’s no accounting for taste. But who couldn’t use a distraction?

Spotlight On: Jill Johnson

Jill Johnson

“It’s the one time of the year where you can be anything you want!” said Jill Johnson of Halloween, her favorite holiday. A veritable Jill-of-all-fashion-related-trades, Johnson, once owner of the now-defunct True Grit, has had no trouble channeling her bottomless creativity since the shop’s closure in 2006: designing and sewing for Bunny Jackson, her body-conscious line of silkscreen-atop-vintage-fabric dresses; producing fashion shows for Lucia Loves Luigi, becca:christian, and Bryan Lee; designing commissioned cowgirl ensembles for the Bowl’s Summer Roundup; or painting with longtime, on-again/off-again all-purpose sidekick Wallace Piatt. But right now, she’s happily consumed with her most favorite activity: making costumes. “The costumes are so much more fun than the regular work,” she said, “I would do it year-round if I could.”

Her meticulously constructed pieces are available for sale or rent, and Johnson is happy to craft a custom costume by commission, too-in fact, custom designs comprise the bulk of her work. She’s consciously keeping things small-scale-for the moment anyway: all sales, rentals, and commissions are done via Facebook or word of mouth. “It’s not necessarily very lucrative, but it’s so much fun at this level.” Her studio is a wonderland: you’ll see everything from a mermaid, a Viking, a couple of Wonder Women, and a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, to “Afro”dite, Wilma Flintstone, Betty Rubble, an Oompa Loompa, and a Hot Dog on a Stick girl (in a word: epic). “I can make anything anyone can dream up,” she said.

Dreamers should consider that a challenge.

Shop This

On November 6, the drool-worthy duds of Susan Pitcher’s Montecito outposts dressed and ready will take to the runway at EOS (500 Anacapa St.). Produced by none other than Jill Johnson and sponsored by PINK Vodka, the show will feature all the stuff that makes you wish you were an investment banker-no, wait! working on Wall Street! no, wait : independently wealthy?-including the latest from Stella McCartney, Barron Duquette, Herve Leger, Haute Hippie, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Members Only, Rag & Bone, Young Fabulous & Broke, and The Row by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Doors at 6; show at 8. Expect a grand, glam affair; so plan on looking fabulous. RSVPs encouraged: : Now through the day before Thanksgiving, surf and skate shop Esteem (907 State St.) is stoking students during its Student Appreciation Month: score 15 percent off everything except hard goods (that’d be surfboards, wetsuits, and skate accessories-I didn’t know either) and sale stuff. : And if you’re stocking up for the winter, Lucia Loves Luigi (502 Brinkerhoff Ave.) is currently in the midst of a cool deal on cozy duds: now through Saturday (Oct. 25), stop by for 15 percent off all their sweaters; the store will donate an additional 10 percent to the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Resource Center. You’ll be so warm and warm-fuzzi-fied, you won’t even need to turn on your heater.

3 Reasons To Get Naked

Have a Naked Lady Party! In the spirit of fiscal responsibility and the newfound chic of living within one’s means, I’ve decided to spotlight a cost-free, reduce/reuse/recycle mode of shopping, the increasingly popular Naked Lady Party, also known as Let’s Get Drunk and Swap Clothes! Here are three reasons why I think now’s the time to host one:

1. Free and friendly: It’s eco-friendly and free, but with all the delights of actual shopping. Let’s be frank: On the fun scale, when getting dressed in the morning, is there any difference between donning something that’s new versus something that’s merely new to you? Um, actually, there is: In the case of not-new-but-new-to-me, there’s no risk of buyer’s remorse. And that is beautiful.

2. Closet cleanser: A delightfully pleasing side-effect is that you’ll spend a little time addressing that omnipresent To-Do-List item: Clean Out Thine Closet. And your friends will be doing the same. Ergo, that amazing dress that your best friend used to wear alllll the time, which you’ve long coveted? It may soon be yours.

3. Par-tini: Such an affair is the perfect excuse for a theme cocktail! A Swap-tini? A Rum on the Banks? A Broke Mary? A Cosmo-Poll-itain? Sorry :


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