Are You A Fashion Maven or a Fashion Victim?

Having a style is about knowing who you are and knowing how to see. You can't do one without the other.

You Think This is Easy?

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the difference between fabulous and frumpy comes down to how the garment is made. What looks great on the runway is going to look like hell from Wal-mart, once you have the eye to see it.

Killer Shoes?

What makes this work and not that? Why is something fabulous and not something else? We aim to find out. Because money doesn't create taste, an education does.

I Wrote a Book.

It's a murder mystery from inside the fashion industry. You might like it.

How To Not Look Like an Idiot

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Oh look, a blog post. Must be slow at work.

This line from Dead Is the New Black gets a lot of play:

When Stu slid in next to her, she asked, “When you buy a suit jacket and you can’t get your hands into the pockets, do you assume you just bought a jacket with non-functional pockets, or do you rip the stay stitch out like you’re supposed to?”

Laura’s aggravation stems from seeing people walk around with hanger loops coming out from under their arms and (shudder) labels at the left cuff.

Garment manufacturers take a number of steps to ensure clothes got from factory to store to closet in one piece. So, here are the things you should know about your clothes before wearing them:



What It’s For

Pockets have a way of sagging during shipping, especially if they’re hung. The tacking ensures you’re getting a flat pocket when you buy it.

For years my stepdad couldn’t figure out why he’d buy nice jackets only to discover they had fake pockets. Except they didn’t have fake pockets, they had aggressively tacked functional pockets. Carefully rip the stitch open.

The better the jacket, the more likely it’s hand tacked, but if it’s not, try not to judge.

The fit on the above jacket is lovely except for the flipping open at the front/bottom caused by an ill-shaped facing. This is very very odd for Burberry, but it leads me to believe they shot an early sample.



What It’s For

When jackets are piled one on top of the other, and your finishing staff is rushing because they have to pack another four thousand of a different style the next day, and they have to finish the job and move on, vents have a way of flipping open. Then when a flipped open vent is shipped a billion miles over a stormy sea, and twenty pounds worth of jackets are on top of it, you can bet on a crease that will make the jacket unsaleable.

Do not leave the house without removing the “X” at the bottom of the vent.




What It’s For

You all know the evil you do. You go through racks, looking for your size and you are simply not neat about it. Stuff falls of the hanger. Whether or not you leave it is simply a matter of upbringing, but the store would rather it stay on the hanger as much as possible. Thus, they put in hanger tape.




Now, because hanger tape has gotten branded and attractive in recent years, and because we’ve moved to a “one strand across the neck” formation, I’ve seen this left on a bazillion backs. Even some people in the industry leave it in. You’re not supposed to. Cut it out. You look like an idiot.



Why It’s There

You’re looking at a rack of jackets. They all face right sleeve toward the wall, left sleeve toward the aisle. Always. The cuff label means if you want an Armani or Nautica suit, you don’t have to look at each neck label and push the jackets around, making a mess. The fact that things are now arranged by brand is notwithstanding. They used to be arranged by size and if we love anything in the garment industry, it’s tradition.

You need to take this off.

You really, really need to take this off.



If I see you with it I’m attacking it with a seam ripper, removing it, and checking your vents and pockets. Got it?

If you’d like to know more about the garmento side of fashion, but you like mystery and romance, you might take a look at my books. My mom thinks they’re awesome. Also, they’ve won awards that my mom wasn’t judging at all. So maybe you’ll like them too. I promise they’re better punctuated than this post.

Get Book 1, Dead is the New Black on Amazon.

Get Book 2, Death of a Supermodel on Amazon.

Or check out this little ebook called The Case of the Missing Blahnik.

All those badasses are available on Kindle if that’s how you roll.

Vote For Me (please)

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Imagine my surprise when I found out Dead Is the New Black was nominated for a Preditors and Editors Award and somehow I totally missed it.

Or don’t. Because then you’d have a heart attack or stroke out or something.

But if you read the book and liked it, I have four days to convince you to go vote for it for best mystery of 2012.

So please, really. It would mean a lot to me because life is so short and painful and this would be a bright spot I can remember on my deathbed.

Dire enough for you?

Here’s the link.

Please vote only once – though I know it’s tempting to vote seventeen times.


If you click on this picture it will take you right to the site.


Cover Reveal – A Dress To Die For

Posted on by xtine in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Good Morning!

I just finished the cover for book 3.


Just as Laura Carnegie is safely ensconced in Jeremy’s company and his bed, she gets distracted by a stolen dress worn by a murdered princess, and her father’s disappearance twenty years before. Can her career and her relationship survive her rabid curiosity?

Here’s the fun thing about finishing a cover…

It’s done!

Here’s the not fun thing….

It’s done.

I think my biggest question when making a cover is, “Can I stand to look at this thing for the next ten years?” Because I’m not going to change it. Not ever. And when I was doing this one I thought, can I stand to look at this woman for the next millennia? I mean, she’s staring right at me. But okay, I decided to just bite the bullet and decide that this woman is the heart and soul of Princess Philomena, who I created out of my head and who I love and adore.

So I’ll live with it.

One Step Forward….

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I finally added a mailing list. If you want to be informed of new releases, please put your info to the right.

I will never, ever sell your information, even as a joke. I will never spam you. I’ll only use the list to let you know when I’m publishing a new release or doing an event or whatever. All other announcements will be done on this page. And of course, I’ll have what to say on my facebook page, which is here –

I’m cranking out book 3 and book 4′s already written. So I’ve been productive :) You can expect them to magically appear on Amazon in March and April, respectively.

In other news, I put a new cover on The Case of the Missing Blahnik. The old one just didn’t go with the other two and it was really starting to bug me.

In fashion news, nothing important has changed. We still work too hard for too little. We still place importance on the wrong things and do not embrace our inner awesome. Go give your inner awesome a hug. I’m going to get Laura and the gang into worlds of trouble.



Please sign up for my mailing list

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I need to feel like when I release book 3 – I have people to tell about it.

Also, you can hit the button to the right to like my facebook page. Your call.


Tag, I’m It!

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog | 1 Comment

I am so not a good blogger.

Actually, I am profoundly bad at it. I have lots of things I care about that I’d like to blog about but the fact is, a 400 word blog post could be 400 words of my next novel.

But lots of my writer friends have blogs and sometimes they do something nice like tag your ass in their post, and you want to keep the nice stuff happening.

So, parody genius PJ Jones tagged me. I’m supposed to post  seven lines from page seven of whatever I’m working on now, then tag seven other authors.

I really wanted to find something from my WIP The Case of the Jealous Lover, but every single line was a major spoiler (for those of you who care), so I went with my as-yet-unreleased-and-currently-being-proofed second book, Death of a Supermodel.

This is an earlier draft of the cover. I ensmallened her head to be less lollipop-like.

So here goes (unedited, out-of-context):

“And the company?” Cangemi asked. “How is it going?”

He seemed genuinely interested and warm, and Laura needed a friend after the show, the stress of prepping for it, then the episode with Thomasina. “We got a backer through our agent, Pierre Sevion, and that was okay, but it was only enough to pay for everything up to the show, which was today. After that, there was supposed to be matching backing from somewhere. I don’t know where, Pierre wouldn’t say. But if we get favorable reviews from a major, or any kind of celebrity placement, which is when they wear our stuff to an event and mention it, we get some vague amount of matching dollars that might, and I’m saying might, cover our production. Except in order to get the review and the placement, we had to go all out whole hog on the show, and that means the fabric is super expensive, and the matching backing may not cover it. And here’s the other thing. Without that matching money, we have to crawl back to the initial investor, Bob Schmiller, whose wife is Ivanah Schmiller, who according to Ruby, has been telling everyone she wants more say in the line.”

“Ivanah Schmiller, the interior designer?”

“Decorator. She’s a decorator. And yes. If you like someone who vomits animal skin prints on crushed velvet and chrome, she’s an interior decorator.”

And now I’d like to tag these poor souls:

The great M Edward McNally

The lady who makes me look s’damn good, Heather Adkins.

None other than David Gaughran who will have the good sense to ignore this

Maker of hilarity, Mike Cooley

My hero, Cheryl Bradshaw

The ever-delicious Alisa Tangredi

And our favorite dropper of relevant commentary, Jolea M Harrison

What Fashion Manufacturing and Book Manufacturing Have in Common. Or Not.

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I’m not a journalist, and this is an opinion piece. You’ll find some non-journalistic wording and non-absolutely-accurate stuff in here. Like I used “collusion” below and that may not be the same as “anti-trust.” I may have to correct stuff as I go. Mea culpa in advance.

Watching the media report on the DoJ investigation into price collusion between publishers is fascinating stuff. The hue and cry over where people get their books from, and the government intervention over what is basically a form of entertainment is so far removed from what happens between businesses who deal in something we all need — clothing.

The Seattle Times started it, with the LA Times and NY Times picking up from there. Those are the three I read, I’m sure there are more, and what occurred to me today is…why?

Why is the DoJ interested in protecting book prices? Why do they care? Why, during a fierce election year, do the biggest papers in the nation feel the need to dedicate so much space to this issue? Is it possible the publishers are whispering in their ears? But why, when they have the world at their fingertips?

Publishers are lucky ducks.

1) Bob-mart squeezes clothing manufacturers on price after the garments are on the boat with a Bob-mart tag on them. In my opinion, this feels a lot like extortion, and though I imagine it is possible with physical books, it is impossible with e-books. There is no boat. Discounts may and will happen (as is the issue with Amazon) but if the publisher doesn’t like the price, they can pull the product. Try doing that with ten thousand dresses on a slow boat.

2) Federated (now Macy’s) releases a calendar that forces designers to create a line 12 monts ahead of delivery. Because they’re so huge, everyone makes it happen and cries success. Every other department store falls into line and every year the calendar becomes more onerous, while the customer is looking at old crap designed a year ago. With e-books, you can write and release in half the time as a physical book. The customer is happy, and discounts and chargebacks are reduced. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that was fashion manufacturers are dying for? I’ve attended dozens of meetings with the urgent goal of shortening the production calendar, and here’s big publishing trying to defend a two-year calendar. Did they miss a meeting or something?

3) The trend right now is to avoid the wholesale calendar entirely and open your own clothing store, a costly endeavor, but with an easier calendar and no chargebacks. But publishers have an even easier option. Their own web stores. I know authors who do it in an evening. What’s stopping St. Martins from doing it? Sure, it’s not as convenient as Amazon, but if every big publisher sold e-books direct in all formats, my guess is that software that netted all participating publisher purchases into one cart would not be far behind.

4) Target and H&M have reduced garment prices to a nub by taking advantage of the first law of production, which states, the more you make of something, the cheaper it is. Mom and pop boutiques can’t buy ten thousand dresses, so the same dress costs more. If you want to be a big player, you have to move huge units. And if you want to move huge units you have to be a big player. Big publishing makes 30 dollar physical books and wonders why they’re not selling Target/H&M volumes (no pun intended). You simply can’t move millions of units at that price. This is not rocket science.

5) Every day I deal with factories that can’t sew an armhole right five times in a row, and publishers don’t want to commit to e-books, which have zero wasteage? I don’t know what I’d give to have a product that only has to be made right one time and then sold repeatedly.

Guys, wake up!

The world is your freaking oyster.

I really like this article on manufacturing and the blog is pretty good too.

How To Maintain a 50 Hour Workweek – Part III

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Last night, I got a call from a lovely lady heading the tech design department at a big big company. She needs someone with my skills, and I’d love to cut my commute. But I told her, look, I work from 9 to 4, four days a week.

“Temping?” she asked.

“Permanent part-time.”


“It’s not temping, I just work fewer hours. I get a lot of work done in that time. I’m really efficient. But no one believes me until I work for them.”

“Hunh. Interesting.”

Of course, she wasn’t interested. She had no idea what to do with me. Even if she believed me. Even if the idea that I could do a job and a half in three quarters of the time, for three quarters of the price was a message that got through, it didn’t fit into her reality.

This is not her fault.

When I spoke to my husband about it later, I wondered why it is that we drive so hard for efficiency and productivity. Though it may benefit the company to get more work out of us in a shorter time, what is the benefit to ME if I work well enough to get so much done in so little time? They aren’t going to pay me more. They aren’t going to give me time off or a part time schedule.

No. In any company in the fashion business, what they’re going to do is give me more work. Because they believe they have bought my time, when in my mind, they’ve bought the completion of a project. If they are paying for a warm body, how is it in my interest to provide more than that?

I want to spend time with my family. I want to do things and make stuff. If I can get the job done, well, in less time, I should spend less time at the office.

I’m lucky to have a job now where that is valued. If I lose it, I don’t know if I can ever return to being a warm body.

How to Maintain a 50 Hour Workweek – Part 2

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Today, I had to do a sketch to show how to fix the armhole on a halter top.

In most companies, you have to use Adobe Illustrator.

In my company, you use Excel drawing tools, which are really fast, except for the Mac, where Microsoft shit the bed entirely and made it so you can’t see what you’re doing when you draw.

So I did it the fastest way known to man. The way that has been rendered so obsolete that if I did it at any other company I’d be fired.

I can't figure out how to rotate this. Is this the person you want managing Illustrator?

What to Do To Maintain a 50 Hour Work Week

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No pictures here, and a quick post.

My assistant wants to take a single tech pack that services like, five different artworks, across two deliveries into five separate tech packs. A request I denied, because it would create make work, when there is actual work to be done. But I do enjoy her persistence so. I actually like people who argue with me. (and I especially like her. No you cannot hire her away from me. Stop sniffing around.)

But it got me thinking about my first trip to Hong Kong in 1994.

We sat in a windowless room after all the sweater graphs and layouts had been hand done (I was actually a designer at the time) and we did the graded specs. We did them with thin Sharpies and white out, and after the first few hours we had tape all over our fingers because our hands were cramping so bad.

As you can imagine, the rule at the time was to keep as few points of measure as possible, because you were going to want your arms amputated at the wrists after the HK trip, and what did you need more points for anyway? You had to write that shit by hand and it was not a joke by the time you were done breaking out XS-XL on 200 styles.

So, then computers became the norm, and you’d think, my god, not having to write all that by hand, not having to graph each stitch by hand, not having to hand write faxes, think of the TIME that will save.



Now we have to do in 7 pages what we used to do in 2. Now we just break out five tech packs for one style instead of finding  a way to simplify it.

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law. It’s like gravity.

Work Expands to the time available for its completion.

I say that if we stopped spinning our wheels around, if we stopped prioritizing dotting i’s and crossing t’s over getting the job DONE, we could break the law, and work three days a week. But we don’t want to work 3 days a week. We want to justify our existence in the office, and our bosses wouldn’t consider granting us a shorter week because, by gum, they’re paying us, right?

The problem is we don’t respect our own time.

I think the issue is bigger. I think it has to do with the way we treat our partners in China, but that is a different post entirely.