28 May 2010

Link-tastic! 28 May 2010

 The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, Fabulous Readers!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was featured (along with quite a few other fabulous bloggers!) on What I Wore. I'm really intrigued by the various ways the style challenge was interpreted.

Sal at Already Pretty writes something every week that I find thoughtful, inspiring, or insightful. This week, she's got two humdingers: letting go of the last great bargain mentality and the great fashionable/feminist divide myth.

A bit of fashion design history: Stacy from taffetadarlings talks Desses.

Finally, to slake your Memorial Day thirsts, why not try a delicious-sounding lemonade cocktail from Mrs. Lilien? If you don't have premade simple syrup, no sweat: just put equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Let it cool before you use it in a drink! I make up good-sized batches of simple syrup (~2c. at a time) and store it in a bottle in the fridge. In addition to cocktails, it's great in iced tea and coffee.

Have a fabulous (long) weekend!

26 May 2010

Sweet and Rough, Part 2: Battenburg Lace, Braids, and Balance!

I'm keeping going with this week's sweet and rough (or girly and tough, whichever way you want to put it):
today's outfit, Battenburg lace top, olive skirt, John Fluevog shoes
Battenburg lace top, Ann Taylor Loft
Belt, thrifted
Skirt, Marshall's
Studded strappy sandals, John Fluevog "Choice Hi" (style unknown), remixed
Butterfly necklace, estate sale, remixed 
Labradorite and bronze earrings, self-made

Yes, I am in the process of climbing on my deck railing. Fabulous Husband has iffy knees and sometimes isn't too comfortable hunkering down to get pictures of my shoes, so I figured I'd bring them closer to his eye level...

balancing on rail

John Fluevog sandals

...or maybe it was just the heat. I get a little silly when the mercury climbs.

I am unutterably gleeful that my hair's finally (sort of) long enough to go into braids again, especially on a scorcher like today.

braids, French braids, braided hairdo

I used to have Seriously Long Hair (as in, I could almost sit on it). Braiding was a necessity: if it wasn't confined, it was uncontrollable, prone to tangling, and got caught in things... like car doors. Ouch! I'd wake up in the morning, braid it in any one of a dozen different styles, and in the evening, it would get braided into a looser plait before bedtime.

I cut it when I woke up in the morning with the braid wrapped around my neck. There were other influencing factors (my conditioner bill was unbelievable), but anything that tries to strangle me in my sleep has to go!

For a few years, I was happy with hair far too short to braid. I was glad to be free of long hair, of the daylong wait for it to dry, of the weird ache in my arms from holding them up long enough to braid it into a coronet. Braiding was a necessary burden I was all too free to be rid of.

Recently, though, I've been seeing other bloggers, like S. from academichic and Meg from good morning midnight craft their hair into fabulous, stylish braids, and I've been incredibly envious. I miss my braids! This double French braid isn't nearly as voluminous as some of my old coronets, but it's a step in the right direction. It's keeping all my hair off my neck, which is a blessing in this weather, and it's held up pretty well - we took these photos at the end of the day, after running errands with the car windows rolled down so we wouldn't suffocate.

eclipse tattoo

Also, for (I believe) the first time, you can really see my little tattoo. It's over a decade old, and has held up pretty well for comparatively fine line work. It helps that it's in a place that's hard to show off, especially for someone as bra-dependent as I, so it's been pretty sheltered from the sun. The stylized eclipse is the symbol I use to sign my sketches and other artwork. My messy signature is for checks!

24 May 2010

Style Challenge: Sweet and Rough

A few days ago, Jessica of What I Wore posted a style challenge: mix sweet and rough in one look. I rise to challenges when it suits my fancy, and this one hit me where I live.

today's outfit, sweet and rough, velvet top, Ann Taylor Loft vest, John Fluevog sandals
Pink ruched-shoulder top, Velvet, Marshall's,
Satin-collar vest, Ann Taylor Loft
White eyelet skirt, gift
Studded sandals, John Fluevog "Summertime: Sunshine," remixed
Military bag, vintage, purchased somewhere in London (I won't admit how many years ago)
Woven leather cuff, Urban Outfitters, remixed
Bronze flower necklace, thrifted, remixed
Bronze filigree earrings, gift

What could be sweeter than white eyelet and a pink top with ruched sleeves? What could be rougher than studded sandals, a leather cuff bracelet, and a military-issue rucksack as a purse?

pink, white, pinstripe, leather, studs, military

I'm fond of looks that borrow from different style registers, causing a bit of contrast and maybe even some cognitive dissonance. Sweet/rough (I prefer the description "girly/tough") has long been a favorite of mine. Even in high school, when my fashion sense was not nearly as developed as it is now, I favored floral skirts with stompy boots and denim jackets. In college, I layered motorcycle leathers over ruffled dresses. Maybe I can attribute my fondness to girly/tough styling to my interest in Goth and steampunk looks, many of which blend exaggerated Victorian femininity (bustle skirts, corseted waistlines, tiers of ruffles) with rugged elements such as combat boots and industrial-influenced jewelry.

In fact, the very concept of a corset could be seen as the ultimate blend of femininity and roughness. Corsets first appear in fashion subsequent to the development of plate armor in the 14th century. Some fashion historians consider corsets to be an adaptation of masculine armor styles to female fashion, neither the first nor the last: 13th-century fashionistas wore men's hunting hoods with their fitted, floor-sweeping cottes, while in Jane Austen's era, women wore Spencer jackets, originally a military style, over their Empire-waisted gowns. Throughout history, women have adapted men's styles, whether from the hunt, the military, or work clothes, and adapted them to suit their fashion requirements.

yellow eyeshadow, pinstripe vest

This vest is a perfect example. It's a very menswear-influenced style, with its satin-faced notch collar, and it's done up in suiting fabrics. Its cropped, shaped cut and faceted 'jet' buttons make it clear that I haven't stolen part of Fabulous Husband's suit collection, though.

Incidentally, I'm quite pleased with my makeup today. I discovered bright yellow eyeshadow about a year and a half ago, and really can't get enough of it.

John Fluevog, Summertime, studded sandals, eyelet skirt

I had so much fun wearing this outfit that I might just see if I can keep up the girly/tough look all week long!

Do you like to mix style registers in your outfits? What are some of your favorite combinations?

22 May 2010

Link-tastic! 22 May 2010

Gracious, sometimes weeks go by so fast that before I know it, it's Friday and instead of patiently collating a week's worth of browser tabs into a Friday link roundup, I'm kayaking through a swamp with Fabulous Husband. Oops!

The academichics did a roundup of Dress Your Best Week posts (part three of three, internal links to parts one and two). It's wonderful to see the different ways in which the participants celebrated their bodies and overcame the dominant social message that women should criticize and hate their own bodies.

Next project: a week without black. My wardrobe is very black-heavy (surprise, surprise!) so this one will be quite a stretch for me - I don't know that I have five days worth of non-black clothing. We shall see.

On a more theoretical note, why are we willing to pay for fashion magazines but not blogs, especially considering how much it can cost to run a fashion blog?  This is a key question in the ongoing debate about blogging, advertising, and legitimacy. I've been a journalist as well as a blogger, so my perspective (which I think I'll delve into in a post in the near future) is informed by both professions.

Also from threadbared: a political view of sweaters.

Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve (although the dress itself is sleeveless): my friend Ellan uses microscopy, computer rendering, laser cutting, and traditional dressmaking techniques to represent the human heart - and its symbolism of passion - in dress form.

Now that I've delineated an ideal thrifting outfit, bone up on your rack-combing skills with some tips from a pro.

Have a great weekend, Fabulous Readers!

20 May 2010

My Day in the Sun

Mmm... sunshine at last!
today's outfit, warm colors, tunic, skirt, belt, Born shoes, Anthropologie sunglasses
Orange striped tunic, l8ter, Marshall's
White cami, Ann Taylor Loft
Pink studded stretch belt, Betsey Johnson, TJMaxx, remixed
Pink twill skirt, thrifted
Orange flower sandals, BOC Born Concept, DSW, remixed
Sugar skull pendant, Jenn Feldman Glass, remixed
Orange bangle, thrifted, remixed
Turquoise-look earrings, mall accessory store 
Sunglasses, Anthropologie

I was so happy to wake up to a warm, clear day - and so glad to have colorful clothes after yesterday's thrifting expedition - that I went for a very intensely colored analogous color scheme for today's outfit.

pink and orange

These colors verge on clashing: if they were any closer together on the color wheel, they'd be eye-watering (and the rhododendrons in the background may be a bit much). Something about spring brings out my craving for vivid hues.

I think it's the sunshine.

Usually, Fabulous Husband and I take pictures during the "golden hour," that brief period right before sunset when the light is flat, even, and not blinding. As a result, I don't need sunglasses while we're taking pictures. Today we had to take pictures earlier, though, necessitating the shades.

I've always had a love-hate relationship with glasses of any sort. Something about the shape of my face makes finding flattering glasses a trial - they're always too narrow, too square, or just the wrong shape. It's only recently that I've found a pair of prescription glasses that I'm willing to be seen in public in. These sunglasses are even newer, and I'm happy not only with the way they look on me but with the amount of light those huge lenses block.
not without my sunglasses!

Take 'em off when it's this bright out? You must be kidding, right?

orange and pink outfit, bright hues for sunny days
photos: Fabulous Husband

I just picked up Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser. I was interested in this book when I first saw S. mention it on academichic. I'm about halfway through it, and I'm very impressed. It's neither a long book nor an abstruse one: in fact, one of Grant's points is that verbose academic fashion theory fails to capture the ineffable pleasure inherent in fashion. The book is not without flaws - I think that Grant's view of fashion and shopping is overly gendered - but it has been, so far, a pleasure to read. I'll post more thoughts when I'm finished with the book.

19 May 2010

The Thrifting Uniform

After a month of avoiding shopping for myself (with one or two exceptions when I encountered a demand my closet couldn't meet or was faced with a unique opportunity), it's over. International Fluevog Day has come and gone, and I am the proud owner of these beauties:

Fluevog shoes, Dollface, red
John Fluevog, "Mini: Dollface"

and, more to the point, I am free to return to my local thrift stores. Hooray! I'm particularly excited because a spate of weekend closet-organizing revealed that I have -wait for it - eight black summer-weight skirts, and virtually no other bottoms fit for hot weather. While I love my black clothes (obvs!), I feel like I need a little variety in my wardrobe, if only so as not to bore you to death, Fabulous Readers. Or myself.

today's outfit, thrifting uniform, leggings, skirt, sweater vest, tee, belt

I've spoken in passing about my thrifting uniform before. As long as I'm basking in my return to active consumerism, I might as well go into it in a little depth. I've come up with this loose uniform, which combines utility and presentability, to make my life easier when I'm trawling the racks of my local Goodwill (or anywhere else, really) for sartorial treasures.

Here's the breakdown:

outfit by the numbers
  1. Leggings: Not every thrift store has adequate (or even any) changing rooms. By wearing leggings, I can slip on skirts and pants in an out-of-the-way corner without showing the other shoppers more of my anatomy than they want to see. They also form a physical barrier between my body and any potential nastiness lurking on clothes of questionable provenance.
  2. Short skirt:  Leggings might protect my modesty (eek!) in a questionable changing-room situation, but they're not the most flattering thing on their own. I cover up with a skirt that can slip up or down over my hips: I can ruck it up around my waist if I have to try something on in the aisles. (Old Navy, remixed)
  3. Small bag with shoulder strap: I'm usually an aficionado of big bags - really big bags. I consider something sized to hold a letter-sized portfolio to be on the small side, and my larger bags double as luggage. However, the narrow, usually poorly-straightened aisles of a thrift store are not the place for a bag of epic proportions: it'll get caught on protruding hangers, stuck, and generally make a nuisance of itself. I prefer smaller bags like this vintage Coach Willis for thrifting expeditions. Not only is it small enough to not get in the way, it's got a long strap, so I can sling it over my shoulder or even across my body and have both hands free for sorting through racks, rescuing clothes about to take kamikaze dives off hangers, and haul my selections.
  4. Second-skin top layer: This silk knit tee from Reyen Design Studios serves the same function as the leggings, but for my upper body. It's thin enough not to affect the fit of clothes, but protects me from potential ickiness and indecent exposure. Depending on my mood when I get dressed, this can be a tee, tank, or camisole.
  5. Something to go over item #4: Just like the skirt, but for the top half of my body. I choose top and bottom separates, rather than a dress, for versatility: with a dress, if I want to try on a top, I have to take the whole thing off. With a top and skirt, I can just swap out the piece in question, and get a better idea of how the item I'm trying on will work with other clothes. (Hooded polka-dot vest, Demanding by Say What?, thrifted)
  6.  Wristwatch: Although this gets in my way as much as it helps, I like to keep track of time so I don't inadvertently spend hours combing through the racks. (Nicolet, TJMaxx)
  7. Comfortable shoes: Thrifting means quite some time on your feet - unless you're really lucky, you're going to spend quite some time sorting wheat from chaff. Comfy shoes are a must. In an ideal world, I'd wear slip-ons to make changing and trying on shoes easier. In an ideal world, slip-ons would fit my feet comfortably and not slip off whenever I take too vigorous a step. Compromise is key. Plus, I just got these and I'm still having the ooh-shiny-new-toy reaction (and breaking them in).
  8. Belt: As an hourglass-shaped girl, I'm pretty much a compulsive belter (defined waistlines are my friend!). Wearing a belt that I know fits and works on my body means I can play with belting garments without rolling the bones on the store's selection. (Aldo, thrifted, remixed)
Not pictured, but also key:
  1.  Favorite bra: I want to make sure tops lie right over my bust, so I wear a nude, smooth-knit, modified racerback bra that molds my bust into my preferred shape.
  2. Colorful undies: On the other hand, I want to know if a skirt's a little too sheer to wear without a slip - or if I should just avoid hot-pink panties while wearing it.
  3. No-show socks: These provide just enough coverage to keep me from getting blisters by wearing my shoes barefoot (I hate wearing closed-toe shoes without socks!) and also protect my feet from the floors at the thrift store.
Also, check out what you can't see - makeup and jewelry. I don't wear any jewelry beyond my wedding ring and infinity hoop earrings (that never come off) and watch (which serves a function). Earrings, necklaces, and bracelets can catch and pull when you're taking things on and off - I've nearly lost earrings by having a shirt pull them out of my ears as I pull it over my head. As for makeup, I know how easy it is to get a lipstick stain on an otherwise-great piece of clothing (and how hard it is to get it out). When I've got a thrifting expedition planned, I put on waterproof/smudgeproof liner and mascara and a little cheek stain and skip lip color entirely.

Nicolet watch, Coach bag

I know it's only a small bag by my standards. I've never been an itsy-bitsy clutch kind of girl - there are too many things I want to have on hand. What have I got in my pocetbookses, Precious?

purse contents

For a small bag, it holds a surprising amount. From top left, clockwise:
  1. Sunglasses and case: in case it's bright.
  2. Tiny folding umbrella: in case it's wet. Today was a toss-up, and at times I needed both.
  3. Smartphone: This is bar none my most useful tool while thrift shopping. I don't see the point in buying secondhand clothes (or even new-with-tags ones) from fast-fashion or low-end retailers. Many items from these sellers are cheaply manufactured and fall apart quickly - and that's an issue if you don't know how the original owner treated them! Despite my pretty broad knowledge of brands, I'm not familiar with every label on the market. Is Tiana B. usually sold at Kohl's or Nordstrom? A quick Google search lets me know if a tempting-looking item is worth my while.
  4. Coffee corset: When I start to get discouraged and worn out, it's time to stop for a cup of coffee or tea. 
  5. Hand santizer: As previously mentioned, clothes in secondhand shops are of unknown provenance. While I'm not usually too germophobic, I figure this is one of those situations when a little bit of caution can't hurt - especially if I want to stop for a snack.
  6. Three-foot tape measure: I can usually eyeball dimensions to a high degree of accuracy, but sometimes, it helps to measure to be certain.
...and, of course, my car keys and wallet.

Do you have a 'shopping outfit?' If so, what do you wear, and why?

14 May 2010

Link-tastic! 14 May 2010

Happy Friday, Fabulous Readers!

As a style blogger, I often fall into the trap of It's Not Enough. Jeans and a top? Not Enough! Put on three more layers and try again. Simple dress? Not Enough! Add a skirt, a scarf, and half a mall store's worth of accessories. Jentine of My Edit reminded us this week that sometimes, Enough is Enough, and there's nothing wrong (and often quite a lot right) with simple.

Worn through continues to amaze and fascinate me. My favorite posts this week: a zippy history of the zipper and work wear from the Jazz Age.

Speaking of fabulous historical looks, Super Kawaii Mama has tips for looking good while you're cleaning the house. Who says you have to vacuum in baggy sweats? Maybe looking crisp and put together (and a little like Rosie the Riveter, which is never a bad thing) will help me make my house look put together too!

The Waves looks into the psychology of body image. Why do we perceive ourselves the way we do, and what's the significance of self-image on a biological level?

Speaking of self-image, The Waves also has an amazing guest post on what it's like to be a model at Already Pretty. A lot of people criticize runway models heavily, with comments like "real women have curves" and "eat a sandwich!" Hey, those girls have feelings too, and they put them on the line every time they try to do a day's work. Very few of us could stand to have our bodies examined and dissected every day - and then be criticized by random passers-by as well.

I've heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (heck, I might even have Seasonal Affective Disorder), but what about Seasonal Dissociative Disorder, otherwise known as "Why am I shopping for a wool coat in August?"

And to round up the week, how about a passel of giveaways: win a knitting book from Twist Collective, a sparkly headband from Kendi Everyday, a cute dress from What I Wore, a Molly Crabapple/Neil Gaiman print from Haute Macabre, a darling clutch from academichic, or an oversized canvas print from Jen Kaiba Photography?

13 May 2010

Baby Blue Eyes

No matter what problems I've had with my body image, I've always loved my eyes. They're big, wide-set, and usually a blue so bright they've been described as 'piercing.'

big blue eyes, big silver earrings, micromosaic pendant

I say 'usually' because my eyes have also been known to appear grey or even green. The change in colors seems to be based on my environment, mainly the clothes I wear.

I know that warm, rich earth tones, particularly coppery colors and greens, tend to bring out the blue in my eyes, so I put together an outfit today designed to highlight my baby blues.

today's outfit, military jacket, harem pants, Fluevog shoes, antique key
Military-style jacket, Ann Taylor Loft, remixed
Ochre peasant-neck top, gifted
Black woven belt, Ann Taylor Loft, remixed
Sufi pants, Moresca, gifted, remixed
Sandals, John Fluevog, "Choice Hi" (style unknown)
Sterling earrings: gift from mom
Goldstone micro-mosaic brooch (worn as necklace): estate sale
Key (worn as necklace): antique store
Silver torc-style bracelet: Tuareg (northwestern African tribal group), antique store
Bronze Byzantine chain (worn as bracelet): Wolfgaard Armoury, remixed

While we're talking about it, I really rather like my face in general. I'm not conventionally beautiful, I know that, but I love my broad, high cheekbones, strong jaw, and clear, high brow. I have what my mother sometimes calls a shayna punnim (Yiddish for "pretty face"). It's taken me a bit of time to come to terms with my wide mouth (I was terrified of bright lipstick for years and even now have a tentative relationship with makeup that emphasizes my mouth over my eyes) and the great majority of my life to find a skin-care routine that let my skin be happy and smooth. I love the fact that at 31 I don't really have much in the way of wrinkles: people usually think I'm five years younger than I am. 

green jacket, orange top, purple pants

I thought these harem pants that I usually wear at festivals under skirts would look good with a fitted top and this jacket, and I'm pretty thrilled that I was right! I really like the color triad of muted versions of all three secondary colors. I'm not sure the shoes are entirely right, though. I almost wore the flower-bedecked BOC wedges I wore Sunday: I think those might work better. What do you think?

horse stance in funny pants
photos: Fabulous Husband

The tailoring of these pants is... strange (and leads to funny poses). It's not so much that they have a dropped crotch as that they're a long tube with hems on either end and a hole for the waist somewhere in the middle. They're inexplicably comfy, though. I didn't get any odd comments or even fishy looks while out and about today, so I guess they're not too funny-looking?

Dress Your Best Week, I'm Dressing My Best

12 May 2010

Things I Love

Cold, rainy days always seem to get me down - especially in mid-May, when I'm ready for warm, sunny spring weather.

I've got a couple of ways to get myself going when I'm feeling down, but chief among them is wearing comfortable, cozy, and flattering clothes. I've been feeling a little isolated from the world right now, so I wanted something that not only felt like an all-day hug but was a tangible reminder that I am loved.

today's outfit,heart sweater, Kenar skirt, John Fluevog shoes, Sock Dreams thigh-highs
Heart sweater, Absolutely Creative Worldwide, thrifted, remixed
Wide black belt, Aldo, thrifted
Black A-line skirt, Kenar, thrifted
Grey and Charcoal Super Stripes, Sock Dreams
Shoes, John Fluevog, "Listen Up: Jade"
Hematite and rose quartz necklace, gift
Watch: Stuhrling, TJMaxx
Silver heart bracelet: gift

This sweater is rapidly becoming my bad-mood-begone piece. It's cheery, with the heart pattern, but the grey hearts keep it from being too obnoxious when I'm feeling down. It's also soft, cozy, and fits me perfectly - just what I need when I'm not feeling my best.

I decided to play up the hearts theme with a necklace a dear friend bought me at a street fair in Manhattan approximately forever ago, and an even older heart bracelet - if I'm not mistaken, it was a gift when I became bat mitzvah.

The watch is terribly oversized because it's actually the Fabulous Husband's. He forgot to put it on when he left for work this morning: it's an auto-winder and won't keep running if it's not worn, so I did him a favor and wore it today. I kind of loved the solidity and weight of it on my wrist, even if it's so big that it slopped around a bit even on the tightest setting. I've gotten out of the habit of wearing a watch, but I really enjoyed having his on today. Maybe I need to keep my eye out for a nifty oversized chronograph of my own.

Heart sweater, wide belt, A-line skirt

I'm still Dressing My Best with the academichics (and others), and this outfit highlights what is perhaps my favorite part of my appearance: my curvaceous hourglass figure. My bust and hips are within two inches in diameter of each other: my waist's about a foot smaller. Playing this up with a fitted sweater and a wide belt is almost a no-brainer. I've never minded having relatively big hips - they just make my waist look smaller in comparison!

heart sweater, heart necklace, hourglass figure

Do I need to mention that even naturally curvy figures don't look like this unaided? Every style blogger harps on this occasionally, but for a good reason. Small-busted or large, you need good bras - ones that support, shape, and smooth your bust. I stopped bothering with Victoria's Secret a while ago: massive ad campaigns notwithstanding, their quality's hit-or-miss (miss, more and more often); their sales staff receive inadequate training, and what they do receive is inaccurate ('sister sizing,' the insistence that because a 36D and a 34DD have the same size cups means that a woman with a 34DD bust can wear a 34D bra, is a pretty obvious ploy to sell more product to women outside the 'standard' size range without all the inconvenience and bother of creating a wider size range); and the bras are terribly overpriced for what they are. Instead, go to a specialty lingerie store with experienced fitters and a wide range of manufacturers. I go to Orchard Corset on Manhattan's Lower East Side (they also sell online!).

Yes, there are downsides to the dramatic hourglass figure. Classic collared shirts are hard to find with enough shaping: so, for that fact, are most trousers. Given my predilection for retro-styled clothes, it's not hard to cross the line from figure-flattering workwear to "naughty secretary" (or, as the New York Times once called it, "Library Spice") if I'm incautious about my skirt length or neckline depth. I developed a quite aggressive and standoffish attitude when I was younger, the result of being hit on, whistled at, and leered at far too often (although I've since discovered that most catcalling men are completely disarmed when you respond with an cheery grin and "Thanks!" - they really, honestly don't know how to respond).

I'll take it, though: I love every inch of my curves. They make me feel feminine and womanly both.

John Fluevog Listen Ups Jade, heels with ribbons, stripey socks

And then there are these shoes, which are just flat-out girly. Hourglass heels, a micro-platform, and big, floppy velvet bows? I love these, but I don't wear them nearly often enough. I keep wanting to save them for fancy parties and special occasions, but those roll around all too seldom. So I wore them grocery shopping instead.

10 May 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

As I mentioned last week, Fabulous Husband and I were invited to go to a baseball game by my parents on Sunday. Several of you gave me wonderful suggestions on what to wear, so even though I don't usually post my weekend outfits, I wanted to show you what I ended up wearing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that these pictures were taken today: we didn't get a chance yesterday and forgot to grab the camera before we left the house just before 8 a.m. So I put the same outfit back on long enough to get photos for you, Fabulous Readers. No, I don't make a habit of this sort of thing.

today's outfit, baseball game outfit, cuffed jeans, jean jacket, BOC shoes, floppy hat, scarf
Hat, TJMaxx
Denim jacket, Calvin Klein Jeans, Century 21, remixed
Blue-grey tee, gifted
Black lace-trimmed cardigan, Heart Moon Star, remixed
Orange scarf, TJMaxx
Orange bangle bracelet, thrifted, remixed
White and gold woven belt, thrifted, remixed
Light wash jeans (worn rolled), Victoria's Secret
Orange flower sandals, BOC Born Concept "Edith," DSW

We went to see the New York Mets, hence the overwhelming blue-and-orange matchiness.

Our seats were excellent, as promised. Unfortunately, the weather was not: instead of warm and sunny, it was unseasonably cold, overcast and windy.


I spent what part of the game we spent in our seats like this, with one hand stuffed into the kangaroo pocket of Fabulous Husband's sweatshirt, the jeans unrolled (which, with the flower-bedecked shoes and floppy hat, gave me a sweet hippie-chic look), cardigan and jacket buttoned, and my purse balanced on my toes to provide some minor shelter from the wind. I'm super-glad I grabbed that cardigan on a last-minute whim as we dashed out the door!

At my parents' request, we left after the fifth inning - we were all similarly dressed and equally cold. We had a great time, though.

Fabulous Husband and I each put on approximately six sweaters and huddled up under our warmest blankets as soon as we got home.

I'm Dressing My Best

All this week, I'm going to be dressing my best with the academichics and a whole bunch of other fabulous bloggers. I hadn't intended this outfit to be part of that, necessarily, but I realized as I edited the photos that it fits the theme.

I love my extremities: my arms below the elbow, my legs below the knee. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the rest of my arms and legs, but the lower portions of both are, I feel, particularly shapely, toned, and graceful.

This outfit, with the cuffed sleeves and jeans, emphasizes those parts. The bulky cuffs draw the eye, and the lace trim on the sleeves adds extra emphasis.

outfit closeup, denim jacket, scarf, belt, tee, hat

I wear a lot of three-quarter sleeves, and I'm loving the comeback of the rolled-cuff blazer. I just wish I could find more bangle bracelets that fit my hands: I love the way they look, but I can't fit most of them over my knuckles. It's not that my hands are that large (they're long but narrow), it's that they don't fold enough to fit through most bangles. So I treasure the bangles I do find that fit.

I also love hats with floppy brims.

BOC Born Concept wedges, flower shoes
Photos: Fabulous Husband

I broke my shopping ban to get those shoes, because I wanted a bright orange super-walkable wedge heel. I'm a little bummed out that I would have been better off in nice warm boots, but I still don't regret it one bit. We were up and down stairs all afternoon, and I didn't have the slightest bit of trouble keeping up (even with my Dad, whose years of race running and being a pedestrian in Manhattan have made him a world-class speed walker, even when he's not trying) or the tiniest bit of foot pain. They might not have been the right shoe to wear yesterday, but I'm sure I'm going to get a huge amount of wear out of them over the next several months. Oh, they are so comfortable - they feel like little foot pillows!

What do you love about your body, and how do you dress to emphasize it?

Living through clothes

I just came across this article in the New York Times' Arts section. It's about an art installation currently being erected in New York City's Park Avenue Armory. The artist, Christian Boltanksi, has assembled the piece from a giant crane, 30 tons of used clothes, 3,000 cookie tins, and a recording of human heartbeats. The clothes are arranged in a giant pile: at intervals, the crane plucks a clump from the pile and scatters it. The cookie tins form a giant wall, sheltering and concealing the installation. The heartbeats are a constant soundtrack - visitors can even record their own beats to add to the track.

The article examines the work in terms of its context of mortality and loss. Using piles of discarded clothing as a signifier of the dead is not a new concept - perhaps the most striking example is the pile of shoes collected from victims at Auschwitz. As a frequent shopper at thrift stores, garage sales, and even estate sales, I know that clothes can be one of the most visceral, intimate reminders of the departed. Perhaps only scent carries more freight, emotionally.

However, I wonder if there's another interpretation that can be put on this work - one not of mortality and loss but of consumption and consumerism.

Thirty tons of used clothes. Let's say that again. Let's do a little experiment.

I put together a moderately representative outfit: jeans, socks, a blazer, a hoodie, a tee, and a tank. I deliberately chose a mix of heavier and lighter items. I didn't include shoes because the article specifially mentioned clothes only, and didn't bother with underwear in the theory that even the most massive bra weighs only a few ounces.

The pile of six items weighed about seven pounds. I'm willing to round that up to 10 pounds, for argument's sake and to make the math easier. So if we figure every 10 pounds is approximately six items of clothing, one ton (2,000 pounds) is 1,200 items; 30 tons is 36,000 items. Thirty-six thousand pieces of clothing (give or take a few hundred, I'm sure) that people bought, wore, and then eliminated from their closets.

For contrast, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has over 35,000 pieces in their costume collection, while the Victoria and Albert Museum has "14,000 outfits plus accessories."

Some of those items may come from the deceased, but I'm willing to bet (although there's no way to confirm this, really) that most came from living people who just decided they didn't want those pieces of clothing any more.

Now, these clothes came from a textile recycling plant, which maybe - hopefully - means that they were in such poor condition that they couldn't be resold. It also means that they were slated for re-use, rather than disposal, before they got pegged to become part of a major art installation.

Looking at it, I must admit I think more about our society's patterns of use and waste, of the cycle of accumulating and then discarding material possessions, than I do about the fragile nature of life. The random scattering of the clothing pile, in particular, makes me think of the often arbitrary nature of fashion trends. It reminds me of the way my own floor looks after the frantic search for an outfit that works on one of those days where nothing seems to fit or work together right - piles of discarded clothes that I disconsolately pick up, fidget with for a while, then discard into a different pile. I'm also reminded that being fashionable and amassing a wardrobe can easily turn from an enjoyable pursuit into an obsession, and, like any obsession, leave you hollow and devoid of meaning, an empty building full of a pile of discarded clothes.

In some ways, that makes it even more melancholy than its original intent.

I also kind of wonder who ate all the cookies that came in those tins.

Regular outfit posts will resume (hopefully) later today.

06 May 2010

Skulls and Stripes Forever

This outfit did not, in any way, turn out the way I anticipated.

I knew I wanted to wear my new glass skull pendant, my skinny jeans, and my green heels.

today's outfit, skinny jeans, striped top, John Fluevog sandals
Striped tank, FDJ French Dressing, thrifted
Jeans, Victoria's Secret, skinnied by me, remixed
Sandals, John Fluevog "Fellowship Hi: Laurelei"
Silver bracelets, gifts from parents
Sugar skull necklace, Jenn Feldman Glass, remixed
Red mother-of-pearl flower barettes, gift from grandmother
Pearl dangle earrings, depths of the jewelry box

Um, two out of three ain't bad?

The outfit I had planned in my head had two major stumbling blocks:
  1. I intended to wear my green kimono-sleeved Michael Kors top, but when I put it on, I realized I'd sweat to death in short order, which is Never A Good Look.
  2. Ditto the heels, with the added problem of not having anything short and lightweight in the sock department. Seems all I have are heavy-weight hiking socks and things knee-high and longer. Oh, and these socks, which are still too heavy to work with the green heels. I hate wearing closed-toe shoes without some form of sock or stocking.

Plan B was this cute striped top. It reminds me a bit of the Breton stripe tops that Jessica from What I Wore has been featuring a lot lately. My plan is to replace the buttons over the collarbones on this top with regatta-inspired brass anchor ones.

I figured  that as long as I had the nautical inspiration going on, I might as well take it and run with it, so I piled on some silver chain bracelets:

stacked silver chain bracelets

These three bracelets were all gifts from my parents at various times. I love their solid, massy links and the buttery glow of good-quality, handwrought silver. I also feel like I'm wearing an anchor chain around my wrist: those three bracelets in combination weight about a quarter pound!

I usually wear these bracelets individually, but I was inspired to try wearing them in combination by a lovely lady I frequently see at a local coffee shop. She always has a three or four inch wide stack of silver bracelets, all different weights and chain patterns, around one wrist, and it looks gorgeous and elegant.

My only real associations with green and sailing are pondweed (yecch) and seasick fellow sailors (double yecch), so the green heels were completely out of the question at this point. Fortunately, these sandals went perfectly:

John Fluevog Laurelei sandals

They were the first pair of Fluevogs I bought. Expect to see them lots during the warmer months: they're about the lowest heel I own and the beige/white/black color scheme is terribly versatile.

The only thing I needed to complete my vaguely-nautical (but not terribly I-just-got-off-my-yacht) look was a touch of red. These barrettes that my grandmother brought back from Mexico for me years ago supplied that, tied in with the sugar skull necklace, and controlled my unruly, just-washed hair:

red mother-of-pearl flower barrettes, hennaed hair

I'm trying something new with makeup: using a powdered kohl with a technique that I saw in a blog post I now can't find again (if you recently wrote about how to apply powdered kohl, please let me know so I can give you due credit!). Essentially, the kohl comes loose in a little canister: you unscrew the lid and there's a stick-like applicator. Pull your lower lid down a tiny bit, bounce the stick lengthwise along your water line (the pink line just inside the lower lashes), then blink aggressively a few times to distribute it to the top lids as well.
outfit closeup, sugar skull necklace, powdered kohl eyeliner

I'm pretty happy with the results. Unlike previous times when I've used powdered kohl above my top lashes, as I would a traditional eyeliner, it's stayed in place pretty much the whole day, and it makes my eyes look big and ever-so-slightly smoky.

There's a nice closeup of my new pendant, too. It's two-sided, with the other side in inverted colors.

Do you plan out your outfits in advance, or do you improvise? How do you deal with unexpected hitches in your outfit plans, whether it's items you lack, weather surprises, or detours in your plans for the day?

05 May 2010

Ask Away!

No outfit post today, Fabulous Readers.

Instead, I'm opening up the floor to you. Have any questions? Anything you'd like me to focus on? Ask away!

Leave a comment on this post with your question or request. Do you want to know more about my academic background? How I got hooked on Fluevogs? Why I love skull motifs? How to find comfortable heels? What colors redheads should wear? Like to see more theory discussions and fewer outfit posts?  Let me know!

In return, I've got a question for you, Fabulous Readers. I've been invited to go to a baseball game Sunday (that would be, ahem, Mother's Day) with my parents. I'm not exactly a sports kind of girl. What the heck do I wear? I know it's going to be warm and sunny, and our seats are in an unshaded area so I'll need a hat. Beyond that, I'm at sea...

04 May 2010

Off Playing With the Faeries

After three days at the May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm, I spent all Monday in a half-awake daze. Here, though, are the pictures I promised of my outfits from all three days. This is pretty much an unabashed image dump, so I'm putting the pictures after a cut. Because there are so many pictures, I'm keeping the text and commentary to a minimum. I'll catch up with more analysis and examination of faerie festivals and clothing as the summer progresses - there are plenty more of these events on the horizon!