sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 22, 2011

Style and Fashion Pick-Me-Up: Anthropologie Does Eastern Europe

Filed under: taste — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:05 pm

Today Ahmadinejad is getting the UN all worked up, but since we already know what he is going to say, why not actually do something fun while generating a decent amount of traffic.  For reasons that don’t fail to mystify me, an unlucky wedding gown continues to bring hits.  So I decided to do a style and fashion feature on a semi-regular basis.  To placate my male readers I will do some silly FLOTUS get ups now and then — not that my female readers are universally opposed to these kinds of posts.

In today’s inaugural thread I’m going to look at the latest Anthro catalog.  I always look forward to the late summer/early fall fashions.  I love the deep sumptuous colors of the season.  The cooling weather allows for more layering, more interesting cuts and a variety of textures and fabrics.

Even if I don’t like the styles, which is true for about 75% of their garments ( but, boy, if something catches my eye, I have to have it… although I usually wait until it goes on sale), Anthro catalogs are interesting.  Although not as bad as Urban Outfitters, where sometimes there is just no way to figure out what an outfit is like, the catalog is more about photography and location than the actual clothes.  The September 2011 theme was Eastern Europe.

Anthropologie September 2011

One of those 75% of Anthro looks... although there is probably a way to work the pants.

Grandma with a chicken and a kerchief, and grandpa in a suit — that’s some ironic nostalgia for you!  If you look at the catalog, they pretty much got the entire village to pose with their models.  I couldn’t identify the exact location of the village at first; it could be anywhere in Eastern Europe. The Latin alphabet seen in some shots narrowed it down a bit, but it’s the hat worn by the man in the background that offered the clue:

Anthropologie September 2011

Love the shoes!

Water buckets are a classic, of course, but it’s the distinct straw hat, called a clop, that places the man in Romania.


Romanian boy wearing the clop.

Current Anthropologie offerings include Russian-inspired clothes.  Check out this dress called Vasilisa:

Anthro 2011

Vasilisa is a princess in Russian folktales, and this dress incorporates a Russian rug design.  I love the colors and proportions.  Unfortunately, the has to be dry cleaned, which is a no-no for a mom with young children.

Here is Orenburg pullover, another take on traditional Russian dress:

Orenburg pullover

The inspiration here is the grey Orenburg shawl:

It appeared in the Orenburg region in the 18th century. The first Russian settlers in the Urals were surprised how lightly the locals – nomads and cattle- breeders – dressed in severe Urals’ frosts. The secret was most unusual: as a lining under their clothes, they used light goat fiber, or goat down hair shawls. […]

The Orenburg goat fiber is the thinnest in the world:  16-18 micrometers, while in the case of Angora goat (mohair) – its 22-24 micrometers. But at the same time, the Orenburg goat fiber is stronger than wool, and retains heat well. Such high quality of goat fiber is due to climatic conditions and the special local diet of goats on the pastures of the mountain slopes of the Urals. Moreover, the goats with this particular down live only in Orenburg region. All attempts of the French in the 19th century to breed the Orenburg goats were unsuccessful: these goats require their super-thin down to keep warm in the extreme climate of the Urals, while in the mild climate of France this was not needed. Orenburg goats bred in France reverted to ordinary breeds of goats with thick rough down. Western Europe still buys goat fiber in Orenburg. Incidentally, in the early 20th century in England they began to make products labeled “Orenburg imitation”.

It is said that a true Orenburg shawl will pass through a wedding ring and fit inside of a goose egg.  I have a deep-seated suspicion that tricks like that won’t work with the Anthro sweater.  It’s certainly not made out of any special goat fiber.  In fact, it’s a blend of acrylic, wool, angora and nylon.  Well, at least it’s hand-washable.

An authentic shawl can be obtained at a lower price from this retailer.

Russian suvenierI can’t say I’m a sucker for authenticity, and I love the way Anthropologie interprets traditional designs, but they certainly have a problem with quality.  It’s not just that the sub-par fabrics lacks the mystique of the original.  Anthro garments certainly have the hanger appeal, and they know how to spruce up their catalog.  Their Orenburg pullover can make an early fall staple, although it will not translate easily into a winter sweater because the wide sleeve will not fit inside most coat.  While the pullover is an interesting twist on the contemporary macrame look, I just don’t know how it’s going to look on me.  I found that the items I order online are often poorly made, and I never know how they are going to fit.

Having said that, I’m fairly certain this sweater would work out just fine.  Supposedly cowlneck is going out of style, but this one just looks so luxurious.

Anthro cowlneck



  1. OH. I love both the Orenburg pullover and the cowl neck. I’ve stopped looking at Anthro catalogs and am more of a Boden fan these days. Quality is better. Much better. Like you, I wait for sales, but these sweaters rock!

    Comment by pjMom — September 23, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    • I’m sure Boden is better. I got another British catalog in the mail yesterday. It’s called Wrap, and it looks good.
      Even if I’m trying on Anthro clothes in the store, I’m not sure of the quality. The buttons are not attached securely, etc. I do have a few of their items that are really well made, though… They certainly have interesting ideas that are worth taking a chance on.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 24, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  2. What is up with this putting hot women in rustic scenes with beaten down peasants?

    I think it would be very funny to sell the peasant outfits instead (with optional chicken).

    Comment by Harrison — September 24, 2011 @ 9:20 pm

  3. Yeah, I’m with Harrison on this. How does “peasantry” help sell clothes to presumably urban and suburban women?

    Not that I know the first thing. Never opened an Anthro catalog in my life, nor heard of Boden. If I’m not finding anything at the TJMaxx or the Ross, then I head uptown to the Kohls, LOL.

    That’s why I enjoy your fashion posts, Missy. I might actually learn something. And good sleuthing on the Romania clue.



    Comment by nooneofanyimport — September 26, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  4. I’m afraid Harrison will give them ideas. I’m not sure the peasants in picture have running water.
    I love Ross and TJMaxx. Shortly after I had my first baby I realized I can no longer invest time into shopping there. So now it’s mostly more expensive stores where I can get everything I need. And Target, of course!

    Comment by edge of the sandbox — September 26, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

  5. You are welcome to visit Orenburg Lace Shawls Online Store at Here you will find original shawls and stoles from Orenburg goat down.

    Comment by Orenburg Lace Shawls Online Store — December 12, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

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