Sunday, 30 September 2012

Golden Glow

A warm welcome to new visitors via Already Pretty, home of the amazingly generous and articulate, muti-talented Sally McGraw! I am a huge fan of Sally's, and I was bowled over to be included in her Lovely Links roundup on Friday. Wow! 

Sally's Greatest Hits have made an enormous difference to my enjoyment and deployment of personal style, and in countless ways her blog continues to streamline my shift from essentially feral womanhood to learning how to dress myself. Thank you Sally! 

olive green velvet blazer: Joe Fresh
super-floofy dress: Retrolicious, ModCloth
cowboy boots: Frye Billy Short (DIY colour-corrected)

Through reading Sally's and others' blogs, I am learning more all the time about the why of things working or not working, which makes shopping and putting outfits together way more efficient and fun, without taking any of the magic out of the process. Knowledge allows it to be more than only magic: while those celebratory moments are still exceptions, the less-transcendent times are elevated and frustration falls away. 

yellow vegetable turquoise bracelet: Gabii, TX, worn here
watch: Stuhrling Tuskegee Skylancer

I wore this outfit last Thursday on the occasion of four Poets Laureate from across Canada gathering to read at our local art gallery. I served as MC for the performances by my writers' group, and it was fantastic to get to audience-test a portion of my commissioned-piece-in-process before such an array of heavyweight literary lights. The best part was reconnecting with and hosting the Laureate I first met 20 years ago during my undergraduate studies and who is (still) about the coolest lady ever.

Though I felt it to be more-than-sufficiently badass and as such I had to have it (i.e. Aw, DAMMIT), this dress is a bit of a departure for me - check out my usual thoughts on the colour pink here - and it was a challenge figuring out what to layer on top. Anything I have in the ideal silhouette (cropped as well as fitted) is the wrong colour, and this time I decided to prioritize colour over shape. The jacket is a richer green than it photographs, and was an excellent (fully-lined, great shaping, on sale) grocery store score years ago. Hooray!

buttonflowers: Megan Mae Designs

Thanks in particular to Sheila of Ephemera (whose year-long 30-for-30 challenge has provided me with months and months of fascinating and inspiring reading), I'm becoming a more discriminating shopper - taking into consideration cut, colour, condition, quality, and cost, and very intentionally limiting compromise on any front. In the grand scheme of things, the results are entirely wearable and therefore less expensive. But then single-exception stuff like this happens! 

I'd been hankering for a pair of Frye boots for ages and was excited to come across these in Light Yellow online at 70% off, which brought them into range. One of the caveats of online shopping is photography- and monitor-related colour accuracy, and so of course when my awesome boots arrived they were actually a shade more usually called "natural." That kind of grotty, warm, pinky-orange beige having very little to do with light yellow, you know the one. A smidge of the original colour can be seen on the inner pull-tab (below the white Frye label) in this photo: 

fishnet tights: Calvin Klein, local discount / overstock store

Because it wasn't technically a "retailer error," I would have had to pay return shipping and also be out-of-pocket the already-incurred shipping / import / duty / customs fees. Which, okay, while there MIGHT exist a couple of footwear items I would pay just to try on (Ann Demeulemeester Triple Lace Boots with the talon heel, for one), I'm opposed to the concept on principle. Plus the (70% off!) boots fit perfectly and smelled divine. And that is how I ended up deciding to DIY a brand-new pair of Frye boots. Please don't hate me. 

I thought really hard about it, re-read this book, and came to the conclusion that no matter what happened, I would not be able to wreck / render unwearable these beautifully-constructed boots. If they didn't "turn out," I would continue to customize. I must also send kudos to the incredibly creative Pao of Project Minima for lighting a fire under me with her shoe DIYs!

I don't recommend waiting until just a couple of hours before the event to which you want to wear the outfit (because if you don't wear it now you'll have to wait until next summer and you have been dying to wear it this whole time, even missed getting to it before your Birthday party and the boots have been waiting patiently with their welts all taped and smelling great for months already with the supplies standing by) before starting. I'm pleased with the results, but will need one more go to attend to details, perfect the colour, and knock back the gloss.

I did feel marvellously visible in this outfit, and am joining the wonderful Patti's Visible Monday over at Not Dead yet Style. I hope you will talk to me in the comments about excellent mentors, overwhelming desires to buy things that go with nothing else in your closet, and your most memorable DIYs.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Blue Language

Hey everyone! Among other non-fashionable activities, I finally got the bathroom ceiling mended and re-painted. Hooray! Teeny-tiny white polka dots weren't quite enough to post about - although I did assemble a whole coordinated outfit which included matching socks. 

earrings: Lollapalooza vendor, early '90's
scarf: Cynthia Rowley, Winners (clearance)
antique moonstone necklace: gift from my parents, worn here
gear-print top: Snazzie, now-defunct local shop
usual wrist wear: rubber O-ring, Swiss Army Cavalry watch (beloved gift, 1994), silver OM bracelet (Lollapalooza vendor, early '90's), leather and silver "hands" bracelet (AGO, precious gift, early '90's, replaced 2005)

trench coat dress: Cynthia Rowley, Marshall's, worn here
dress worn as skirt: Trendyland, Winners, worn here
shoes: Fluevog Prepare Guide, worn here

Today's post is dedicated to the brilliant innovators of things which make the lives of countless people less sweary, such as how a paint can opener is also a bottle opener. I really, really hope the person who thought of that got a raise. 

Another superior thinker well-deserving of extra compensation is the inventor of exterior Xmas lights on giant nets to drape or wrap the bushes. That is a lot of Xmases un-ruined right there. I bet they too would have a high-five for the designer of my blender, who looked at the lid and said, "You know, we should make this knob into a shot glass." 

It was probably an awesome problem-solving nurse who suggested perforating the wax paper backing Steri Strips near the little ends so you can just pull that off and flag the whole bunch of them for easy removal afterwards. Before that, I bet a whole lot of new swears were invented because those things are used for major owies and they stick hard to skin. Not that it's a bad thing to have plenty of shades of blue language to choose from, just that if you've got a reason for Steri Strips, you've likely already put forth your fair share. Potty mouth. 

This is perhaps less an outcome of genius vision than a particularly happy synchronicity of the universe, but the way an open empty pizza box makes an exactly perfect absorbent splatter-container for your paint roller tray is something which never gets old. (Neither does the word "spackling," although it is definitely more fun to say than to do.)

I may yet be high on paint fumes, but man, all those smart, smart, smart people deserve giant hugs as well as promotions. Which are your favourite happiness-bringing, cuss-banishing, functional design features or advancements? 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Of Boots and Friends

Holy smokes, I am always rushing to catch up to the crowd at the lovely and generous Patti's Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday - go see, so many amazing participants! Also, I am thrilled to be featured wearing the gorgeous creations of the talented and kind-hearted Megan Mae Daily in her Sew Sunday post. May I just say that this corner of the internet is inhabited by the greatest people, and I am privileged to be among you. 

scarf: Charming Charlie, worn here and here
vintage stylized fish skeleton necklace: a gift from my mother
grey flower:
a gift from my mother, worn here and here
corduroy blazer: Costa Blanca
skirt: Amanda, outlet mall, $10
cowboy boots: Browns I.D., Holt Renfrew

I happened to see these boots in a fashion show on daytime TV of all places. They of course gave me the "Aw, DAMMIT" feeling and I basically died on the spot. Especially because it was a Canadian show featuring Canadian stores, and my dear friend would be accompanying me on a Birthday outing to Toronto where these boots lived right shortly.

pullover sweater: Esprit
(Blazer, sweater, and boots all from 2005; scarf, skirt, and belt new-to-me this spring.) 

More than anyone else, my friend understood these imperatives, being given to sporadic episodes of the "Aw, DAMMIT" herself, and though she was 6 months pregnant at the time, we chased a particular pair of pointy cowboy boots all over the city in the blazing heat. The closest we came that day was a full size too small (I thought really hard about them even so), and, across town, one pair in my size which someone had put on layaway. Though that other lady-of-extravagant-lower-appendages had missed the payment deadline and I wanted to give them all my money immediately, they would not sell the boots to me. I went away barefoot and despondent. 

They totally make this sound

For some reason, it was really hard to learn what inventory other stores had, phones went unanswered, calls were never returned, information was even less available on weekends, yet it emerged that there was only one woman who might be able to (possibly, maybe) help me at all, but she was on holiday for a year. 

It was the Dark Ages of Shopping. 

When The Oracle returned from vacation five years later, during which time I'm sure I spoke to every member of their retail staff in the entire province, she delivered the news: though Browns stores were all sold out, there was one pair in my size at the Holt Renfrew this side of the city. However, they would not hold them for me, nor would they take my credit card information over the phone, despite the fact that I wanted really, really badly to give it to them. Being already practically dead, I quit breathing then. 

Though this whole process had dragged on for about ten years, it took my friend no longer than ten seconds to plan and initiate execution of our mission, which lucky she did, because I couldn't even see anymore, what with all the being essentially lifeless and the subsequent oxygen-deprived delirium. The grey-and-silver box looked like it had gone through a wood chipper, but inside they were waiting, cool, pristine, and sentient. 


That night, my friend bought a pair of these same boots for herself. Though she has since released hers back into the wild and I feel her absence from my life so keenly you wouldn't believe, I think of her with much heart whenever I wear so many of my favourite things, having acquired them when she was at my side.

Dark and Linty Heart

Lately it seems I am wearing all of the colours or none - no middle ground for me! This was Thursday's outfit. Posts are a little sparser due to work overload / long days / commission deadline / full plate, but everything is all right. It's just that pesty time business! Aargh! 

shirt: Levi's, local discount / overstock store, $4
concho belt: Gabii, TX
skirt: Kische, Beyond the Rack
shoes: Fluevog Mini Gorgeous, worn here

I wouldn't usually look twice at anything (non-anatomically) heart-shaped, for fear of suddenly POOF! becoming a Precious Moments figurine inside a Thomas Kinkade painting photographed by Anne Geddes with naught to eat but Marshmallow Peeps and no music except Sharon, Lois & Bram and I would just ... I don't know, barf and die. It's a hard job holding back that avalanche of smarmy sweetness every minute because, people, I am always on the brink. 

lint: everywhere, man

Somehow, these hearts don't give me the creeps: I love that this belt looks to have been embossed with a leather-tooling punch, and the weight of the thing and the larger buckle-heart just slay me. It's my favourite! Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against other people loading themselves up with hearts and pink (another avalanche-rumbler for me) and looking completely awesome. Those things viscerally dramatically simply fall towards the outer edges of "not-me" style for me

scarf: local discount / overstock store
trench coat: Bebe, Haute Look, worn here

I talk about my Beyond the Rack, Haute Look, and My Habit shopping experiences here

Further to totally cool heart-shaped stuff, just the other day, Wendy Brandes wrote about her Diana heart jewelry. If I weren't deep into a replacement-vehicle-odyssey, let me tell you I would be having a little feeling I fondly refer to as the "Aw, DAMMIT" 
and this or this would be mine. (Never mind that I am already madly in love with this.) 
Do you know that feeling? 

scarf: local discount / overstock store
total dog's breakfast of a belting job: DIY

Here are some bloggers wearing hearts that I love: Melanie (with pink!), Audrey, Sally, Megan, and Lilli. EDITED TO ADD: Sara and Bella too! Here are a bunch more, fabulous in pink: Catherine, Ally, SheilaAudrey, Lynne, and another Amber (who rocks her heart-topped Vivienne Westwood Lady Dragons hard). 

I can just feel my dark and linty heart mellowing, y'all. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Time Machine

Hello everybody! Special welcome to new visitors via the fabulous Susan of Une femme d'un certain age, who did such a lovely thing choosing my photo* to illustrate her post about the awesome Sheila's Dress Week of Horrors! roundup over at Ephemera. Thank you so much, Susan and Sheila - I am wicked honoured by your generosity! 

* More pics of that particular grey dress can be found in my post Dust Bunny

blouse: Mosskito, Winners
dress: Calvin Klein, Dillard's 75% off sale
necklace: thrifted
boots: Fluevog Heidi, 40th birthday gift from Beary last summer

About a year ago, my previously copacetic relationship with time hit the skids. I seem to have lost my punctuality mojo - perhaps I over-used it during the first half of my life and just don't have any left? It used to be so easy.  

Lately I find myself constantly frustrated by having to interrupt what I'm doing before I'm finished because it's time for other things - time to leave for this or that, time for my next meeting or appointment, time to take care of the chickens, time to go to bed, and so on. I'm not sure how something I used to be so good at became so complicated. 
Is this another turning-40 thing? 

Fortunately I've got some time off work coming up - I am hurting for rest and down time. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to protect it, I hang my head when I think of everything already cluttering it up. I don't know what to make of my apparent demotion from feeling pretty much in charge of this stuff! 

Something I've been musing on a while is the body as time machine. We're made up of so many measured rhythms: breathing, digestion, synapse firing, cell turnover, musculoskeletal movement and processes, hair and nail growth, sleep stages, and, of course, the ol' ticker. I'd love to figure out what's out of sync and hit the re-set button: the particular adjustment to my approach which will put things back to rights. Or at least a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile of same. 

Wishing well-suited anchorings in the space-time continuum to y'all! 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ready Steady

Hope everyone's week is off to a great start. I needed a boost up into mine, so I wore some favourite things. 

scarf: Becky's (South Padre Island, TX), worn here
skirt: Odille, thrifted
shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction, Winners clearance $14, story here, also worn here

blouse: Reitmans
obi belt: Elizabeth Kelly London, etsy, worn here and here and here too 

necklace: Tradewinds (local shop), worn here and here and here
carnelian ring: El Disco Super Centre (Progreso, Mexico) worn here with the scarf as well

It seems I am always saying, "This is my favourite!" and "This is super-comfy!" but of this I would also say it's one of the outfits I feel most 'myself' in.

cropped jean jacket: Smart Set, worn here

I don't know if I can say exactly what that means or why that is, only that it's true and good. What makes an outfit feel like 'you'? 

buttons: accumulated over time, oldest being "mellow" (25 yrs. ago) and newest my French-speaking John Fluevog robot. 

Though the particular types of clothing I associate with this 'myself' feeling have definitely shifted over time, my best guesses as to contributing factors might include colour(s), comfort, proportion / flattery, function, meaning / symbolism / memory, and degree of dressy vs. casual best fitting one's activities - yet there's still something hard to articulate, qualities which are perhaps more abstract or intangible.

Wishing you all the feeling of being grounded and centred in yourselves, regardless of the source!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Gathering Rays

Recent posts by Lynne of Practical Paralegalism and Sheila of Style Agent 909 in their amazing ruched / gathered dresses reminded me of this one.  On a day that was grey inside and out, I had an important good-bye to say, and wearing gathers and rays felt fitting. 

scarf: Charming Charlie
necklace: a gift from my mother, similar to this one
dress: Northern Reflections, consignment (new with tags)

I was really glad to have the opportunity and ability to express my appreciation to a person whose presence in my life over the past 10+ years has made an incalculable difference. It can be an oddly challenging thing to do when it's not structured or built in to the kind of relationship one has. 

shoes: Sam Edelman Kendall wedges, worn here

Have you had - or missed - opportunities for honourable leave-takings with helping and service professionals in your life? I'm thinking of the particular nurses, teachers, receptionists, doctors, hairdressers, physio / massage / mental heath therapists, lab technicians, mentors, delivery people, etc. we come to know who go about their days with a basic orientation of kindness, respect, and dignity, and sometimes only a glimmer of what a difference they make. 

Though the connection was less primary than the one just ending, and a couple of years have passed, the pharmacy staff who prepared my IV meds and supplies for 10 months, and the delivery person who brought them to me every week when I was so ill, come to mind. Those people were awesome. While I'm pretty sure I told them so at the time, it's something I imagine they don't get to  hear enough of: that how they do what they do matters so much. 

watch: Stuhrling Tuskegee Skylancer

Feeling extra gratitude today for everyone who worked with me to (re)build this life I have, and those few who stuck by me through it all. Further to the theme of making the invisible visible, I'm participating in Visible Monday over at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style

See you there.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Pleats and Furrows

I clapped my hands over my mouth when I read this post at The Citizen Rosebud: BellaQ, who is one of my heroes, included me on her Fabulous Over Forty list! My comment:
"Oh, Bella! I am thrilled to be included among such fabulous company! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this and for everything you do to highlight all the amazing 40+ bloggers. You are top tier, and a total doll besides." 

She tells us about a whole slew of extraordinary women, some totally new to me. Go check them out!

scarf: Gabii, TX, same one worn brighter-side-out yesterday
dress: no tag, local discount / overstock store 

obi belt: Elizabeth Kelly London, etsy, worn here and here too
skirt: Joe Fresh
shoes: WalM*rt 

Looks like I brought just a little of the serious seriousness home with me yesterday, or else the pleats have simply migrated up my dress to my forehead. As sometimes happens. 

This dress is also in the running for submission to the lovely Sheila's Dress Week of Horrors! over at Ephemera - hope to see you all there. Her round-up is for our favourite dress, though I'm sure horror-full would be okay too (because Sheila is awesomely welcoming that way). 

sports bra: Zellers

I'm not sure how to choose, though! Most comfortable? Floofiest? Most colourful? Wickedest deal? Most dangerous? Best backdrop for accessories? Scariest? (Am too scary, Melanie! Am too!

yellow vegetable turquoise bracelet: Gabii, TX
Swiss Army watch: beloved gift, 1994
usual wrist wear: silver Om bracelet (Lollapalooza vendor, early '90's), silver & leather "hands" bracelet (AGO, precious gift, early '90s, replaced 2005), rubber O-ring

I thought about being sentimental and submitting a dress from earlier in the blog, maybe the first outfit I ever posted. That being exactly one month ago makes this my one-month-blogiversary dress! Hooray! I am so glad to be here among you, dear readers, commenters, and blog friends.

Wishing everyone a great weekend and easy choices. Pleats yes, furrows not so much!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Chicken of the Sea

Today's outfit had to function in both the Subterranean Arctic Chill of my office's air conditioning and the actual heat outdoors. I was also happy to don this dress in anticipation of Sheila's upcoming Dress Week of Horrors! celebration over at Ephemera while I figure out my one dress to submit. Which do you think is the scariest so far? 

scarf: Gabii, TX near border to Progreso
dress: Jacob, thrifted, $10
brown belt: thrifted
fish belt: a gift from my mother
flip flops: Joe Fresh

boat neck
I am so comfortable in this dress, with its smooth, matte, quality-weight fabric and perfect fit. It doesn't even have Isadora Duncan tendencies near the wheels of my desk chair! 

This belt is one of my FAVOURITE favourite things - I do still have the missing 6th fish, a little gold one. Yay! 

I did end up using every combination of my layers today - just scarf, just sweater, both, and neither. I've had this sweater for years and years - it was a precursor to the now-ubquitous waterfall cardigan, and is essentially a very long semi-sheer loosely-woven rectangle with sleeves in it. I just fling the one end over my shoulder and can temperature-adjust from there.

net sweater: Le Chateau 

Don't tell anyone, but it's also kind of like a mini-Slanket/Snuggie. I messed with this last picture so you could see what it's about instead of just a black blob with a head hands, and feet. 

Wishing y'all well in your casting and catching, as you navigate depths and shallows - ease with the flow.