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.


48 comments:

  1. Wait, wait, you dyed these yourself?? Holy crow, woman, nicely done! They look great, and the colour is just perfectly pale yellow.

    LOVE the dress (I was reminded right away of my Spanish ladies dress), and the gorgeous velvet blazer. Looks like you were perfectly adorned for such a prestigious event! I am sure you had a ton of compliments on your sartorial splendour!

    Thank you so much for the shout-out/link, Amber! I'm immensely flattered to be cited by you. Sal is awesome - to be linked up by her is such an honour! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Sheila - means a lot coming from you with your expert eye for colour.
      I have learned absolute tons from you, thanks again for all the work you put into documenting and articulating your process - credit and appreciation where it's due!

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  2. Spectacular, in every respect, Amber! And above all KUDOS on the boots: the colour is SPECTACULAR!

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  3. OK - you have a WICKED shoe collection. LOVE those boots! And that dress- perfection on you!
    XOXO
    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:
    http://psbananas.com

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  4. Oh yes, Pao is the Zen master of foot fashion makeovers. Young grasshopper, you're doing marvellously. I'd be bummed about the glee let-down on opening the parcel, but glad you decided to do lemon-aid on your own. I buy useless things always, ex. 1) ballerina dress and 2) gold lycra jumpsuit a la Austin Powers, on the weekend. Gaaa! Of course I'll wear them to, uh, um, I'll skulk into the alley and snap off a few. Your outfit is holy jamoly. Love it! No wonder Sally links you! Your writers' group is immensely intriguing...

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    1. Pao is incredible! Melanie, I love your ballerina dress, and CAN'T WAIT for the gold jumpsuit!!! Thank you for being "out" in your acquisition of things which don't particularly 'go' with anything else - it's a rare approach in blogland, where everything is needs to be endlessly remixable. "Useless" is in the eye of the beholder, I say. If I lived near, I would loan you my vintage vinyl snakeskin-print rain cape (at age 15, was my fall jacket pick) - I bet it would work beautifully with your jumpsuit, and you'd be an alley-skulking superhero!

      P.S. my writers' group also believes themselves to be so! :s

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  5. Truly enjoyed reading your blog this weekend (via Sally's link). I adore your style!

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    1. Hi Gina, welcome! Thank you ever so much for reading and for your awesome comment!

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  6. Amber, the total effect here is just smashing! I do love the print on that dress, am a sucker for Asian-type florals, even though I can't really pull them off myself. Wow, you dyed the boots? The result is superb.

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    1. Thanks for this wonderful feedback, Susan!

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  7. ooo,ooo, so those are the cowboy boots turned pale yellow. They look like they were born that way. So how'd you do it? Much more professionally then my paint jobs, I'm sure! I'm so honored to be mentioned for my shoe re-dos. Kudos for all your achievements from Sally's listings through the poets laureate MC-ing. And of course, for dressing the part so smartly.

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    1. Thank you, Pao! Similar approach to yours - because I had to go lighter, I used a paint rather than a dye / stain. Started with white & yellow (acrylic) leather paint, mixed in regular burnt umber and Naples yellow acrylic paint, built up in very thin layers, always removing excess with rag. Thanks for the inspiration to just get to it already! My other project involves dyeing suede, eep!

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  8. I love this dress! Even more, I love that you custom-colored your boots! I have been meaning to do that to a number of my shoes, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, and good luck with your shoe projects!

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  9. This is a great outfit. Lots of inspiration. Especially since I have a mother of the bride dress shaped like that dress and had no idea what to do with it now. And you're Canadian, how cool is that.

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    1. I'm honoured to be an inspiration! Except for the shipping and customs fees situation interfering with online shopping, I would say it is PRETTY COOL that I am Canadian. Thanks for your comment. :)

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  10. As others have said -- WOW, you dyed those boots?? Stupendous result. And the dress is killer-gorgeous too. Many bravas sent to you for your writing accomplishments as well - your posts are always a delight to read and view. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

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    1. Thank you so very much, Patti! What lovely feedback. I LOVE Visible Monday!

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  11. YOWZA!! Can't believe those boots didn't start their life that colour - excellent DIY-ing Amber. As for the dress - so many things to love including the print (it's pretty and girly but in the best way) and the ever-so-flattering halter neck and wrap waist. That is my idea of the PERFECT summer dress and you proved it can go into fall with the addition of a jacket.

    The Poet's gathering at the art gallery sounds like it was a blast and it is awesome(and nerve-wracking) to get to test-drive something you've written before an audience of seasoned pros. I've participated in a couple of story-telling events and it was such a learning experience, and a real adreneline rush! Good for you!

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    1. Thanks for your fantastic response, Shelley! I enjoyed wearing this dress, and it was indeed a great event.

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  12. my oh my! you really knocked it out of the park with the dress and boots - A+ - love the pairing :))

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  13. Another lovely outfit - with fantastic boots! I love the neckline and the ruched waist of the dress - it's so elegant and feminine! The velvet jacket is gorgeous of course, and just right with the colours of the dress!

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    1. Thanks so much - this is my blazer that is so like yours! The photos don't quite capture the green. The neckline really drew me to the dress for summer - I always get sunburned on my collarbone!

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  14. You? Feral womanhood? Seriously, woman, we need pics :P

    I think you are one of those women who exude style no matter what you put on. You really have the magic touch with color, line, and accessories. You always look like fine art to me.

    I have never thought about the smell of new shoes. What is wrong with me? :o

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    1. Lynne, it's true! It may be more a feeling of outsiderness / disconnection with our learned cultural practices associated with femininity - stems from growing up quite isolated, with no TV, being an introvert, the sense that I missed big chunks of arcane girl-and-woman-knowledge, plus I am kind of messy. I must be doing an excellent faking-it job! Thanks for being so kind.

      These boots exude an especially delicious fine leather smell!

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  15. The dress is gorgeous, the print and the shape are so pretty but not too over-the-top girly.
    And your revamp of the boots is brilliant, I love the colour and they look so good with the dress.
    I struggle with being very analytical about my clothes, I can't for the life of me establish a capsule wardrobe, and I am always buying things which don't go with anything else. Stand Alone Gorgeousness, who can resist?
    Your literary event sounds great, congratulations on hosting and performing, and on your growing blog fame! xxxx

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    1. Aha! I'm so glad to find another person who accumulates single-outfit scores. Stand Alone Gorgeousness, love it!!! Thanks, Curtise!

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  16. You just kill me with that wonderful dress pair with boots and jacket. AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhThat what isnpiration is about.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. Thanks, Sacramento, you are way too fabulous - I am so honoured to be an inspiration, please don't die! ;)

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  17. LOVE the dress, the shape is so gorgeous, and the fabric looks very lovely. And omg - you DIY'd your boots!! I've wanted to try DIY'ing shoes, but the most I've ever done is change some ribbons out or something. Super cool!

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    1. Thanks, Megan! It is nice fabric, but has a very scratchy crinoline. I'm on the lookout for crinolines, which seem to be plentiful to thrift - elsewhere! My next shoe DIY involves dyeing suede, and given the shoes I'm starting with, I'm even more scared than I was with this one!

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  18. I have followed Sally forever, even though I've never commented. She, along with Advanced Style, provided early inspiration and I'm forever grateful. I would never have imagined you as a feral fashionista. You seen so very confident in your personal style, like this is totally what you've been doing all along.

    Megan's button flowers are so very beautiful and look good on everything you wear!!! I like the combination of floral dress, jacket, and boots. Those boots are amazing and I'm really happy to know you jumped into the DIY abyss. It's inspiring.

    Any chance of hearing more about your writing? Something tells me I would find it fascinating.

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    1. Thanks, Jean! The Advanced Style ladies, including our own dear Judith, are my North Star. Part of the issue has been that I somehow made it to almost 40 without understanding (or ever having had occasion to try on!) certain cuts of clothing which work for rather than fight my body - for example, this shape of dress (and wrap dresses), wide-leg dress pants, different ways of using belts, etc. I've been learning fast the past couple of years, but how did I not know this stuff??? This kind of thing is why I'm so grateful to Sally.

      Other factors were significant body changes in my early '30's, missing most of my late '30's due to illness, and an ongoing recovery process from punk / goth-related rejection of fashion and colour. :) On the other hand, since my tastes and preferences have been so consistent, and I've accumulated nice things over a lot of years, together with learning how to style things more effectively, I can understand how it looks like I kind of know what I'm doing. It's all a front!

      I'm still in process in terms of deciding how compartmentalized to keep my literary writing / facebook / blogging / etc., but I love that you asked about my writing! xo

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  19. Hey there! I LOVE that dress. But I tend to love florals and that sort of floofiness of which you speak. How cool the mention at Sally's blog! I love Megan Mae's button flowers, and how awesome that you DIY'd the boot color!! yay!

    xoxo
    Lynn

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    1. Thanks, Lynn - high compliments coming from you! xoxo

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  20. Wow! Who would've ever guessed you colored those boots yourself? I would have been deathly scared of altering a pair of Fryes.
    The dress is marvelous. I really like how a lot of your clothes have emphasis at the waist. The jacket(which looks brown on my monitor) with the button flowers is the perfect topper.

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    1. Thanks, Sheila! I was shaking in my boots! :) I'm glad you think the blazer works - I thought that it was too long for my proportions in this outfit, but the colour IRL is perfect. Interesting how some things don't show their true shades in photographs, this jacket is one, maybe it's vampire green.

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  21. The boots look amazing Amber - and I LOVE them paired with such a feminine dress! Such a great contrast... and I love your writing - so entertaining and interesting sweetie :)

    And for all those reasons I've nominated you for a Sunshione Blog Award - see today's post for the details!

    Catherine x
    http://notdressedaslamb.com

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    1. Well thank you so much, Catherine! What an honour! It may take me some time to attend to my awardee duties, but I appreciate your kindness and generosity. xoxo

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  22. You're such an inspiration! I've been to our local second hand store twice now, since I got back from my visit with you, and have even tried posing on camera (you saw the results). Now just have to source some red shoes. I enjoy your posts and photos. And your poem was gorgeous. Liz

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    1. Hi, Liz! Hi! I am thrilled to see you here, and that your style has been blossoming. You were already well on your way, as was immediately apparent from your great outfit and incredible accessories at the event - sometimes all we need is our own permission to be joyful about it. I am so moved to be an inspiration to you in some way, and by your generous feedback on my writing and my blog. Thank you!

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  23. This is a spectacular outfit. The boots turned out wonderful, way better than the original. The dress fits you beautifully.

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    1. Thanks, Debbi - means a lot from a Western-wear appreciator!

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  24. Oh my such a gorgeous dress, right up my alley. :)

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  25. Overwhelming desires to buy things that don't match anything... this has been my motto for several months and ironically, it is working. Outfits just seem to come together now, even though I never intended for them to be together in the beginning. There are magical connections going on in my closet (behind my back). :-)

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Thank you for your comments!
- Amber