Monday, 20 May 2013

The Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show

It's here, it's here! The Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show's in town! Well, not town exactly - but having been hatched by my idol Melanie of Bag and a Beret, it soared to Sarah of Misfits Vintage, winged its way to Helga von Trollop-licious from whom it flew-flew-flew to Edie Pop of Homesick Blues, and most recently alighted over by Tami of Thrift Shop Commando before touching down for a spell in the country at Butane Anvil. 

I asked a feathered friend along - you met Starr Ethel Steele last summer at the bottom of my most popular post. I did have to wait a while so she could lay her egg first, and took way too many pictures while the sun cranked its volume. 

vintage handmade snakeskin-print rain cape (on tree limb): Black Market Clothing (Toronto), early 80s, previewed here

t-shirt: Denver Hayes, Mark's Work Wearhouse
obi belt with leaf-pattern topstitching: Good Times Barcelona, etsy, worn here (Aww! Bring me Kahlua chocolates!)
our meanest (alpha) hen: Starr Ethel Steele, TSC ~ 2 yrs ago
Travelling Yellow Skirt: Joe Fresh with hand-customizations, via the Sisterhood, wee video here

Madame Royale fleur-de-lis necklace: Wendy Brandes
deer and Colossus of Rhodes necklace: vintage shop on Montréal's rue St-Denis, early 80s

It took time to figure out how I could best honour the Travelling Yellow Skirt, particularly because this blog is about outfits I actually wear as I go about real life. However, I have lately been working with symbols, and thinking on concepts of metaxy and the liminal. I decided I needed to reach back across my life for the earliest similarly iconic pieces that I have worn, and complete the ensemble with a smattering of more recent bits and pieces, some from the present, all integrative-like. 

I acquired the vintage vinyl snakeskin cape when I was 14 or 15 and used it as a raincoat all through high school. Like my vintage fun fur maxi skirt, it's a handmade piece whose existence I take to be evidence of the world being at least in part a good place. Or at very least a humorous one. Though the cape is a facet of my Yellow Skirt outfit, this wasn't a rainy day, and knowing ahead how chickens feel about poufy tulle ballerina skirts and therefore being somewhat able to surmise their thoughts on tremendously billowy yellow skirts and flapping snakeskin capes, it mostly stayed perched in the plum tree. 

I'm wearing my Wendy Brandes Madame Royale fleur-de-lis pendant for the first time. Fleur is one of my middle names - I translate into yellow flower. The larger necklace is another treasured artifact, and probably the most excellent piece of costume jewelry I have ever seen. It's reserved for special occasions because the silvery coating has been flaking off its fringe-y dingle-dangles for decades. I've tucked a picture below the jump of 15-year-old me wearing it (with stupendously enormous 80s hair). 

I vividly remember spotting the necklace in the case and being unable to hand over my moolah fast enough, and how the shopkeeper went all abrupt. My friend said they'd probably expected me to haggle over price, which at that age would never have occurred to me, plus $18 seemed entirely reasonable for such a fabulously mythological objet. I still find it to be brimming with secrets and implications. 

The boots, the boots, the legendary boots, what to say? As is clear by their wear, back in the day I tromped many, many satisfyingly jingly miles in them.

black satin half-slip: Linda, Sears ~ 7 years ago
perfect tights: Ralph Lauren, Winners ~10 years ago 

(loved so much, went back for multiples)
pointy buckle boots: shop on Queen West I can't recall (Toronto), early 80s, 

previewed here
plum blossom confetti: Mother Nature

silver water ring: some booth or other ~20 years ago, and 
silver and onyx dragon ring: Courage My Love (Kensington Market, Toronto), mid 80s
worn together here 

and check out that sweet button-closure on the cape

Overall a fair assemblage for transcending time, space, and dimension, yeah? A white bird, the light's gone liquid, and life is extraordinary in its audible crackling.

But for truly transcendent expertise, I defer to Melanie's extraordinary post today: How to wear a place of mind dingle-ball style. You must go! There are dingle-balls! Also, have you seen her interview with Roz at The Citizen Rosebud? And that's only Part One!

For anyone who's come back and / or is still here, what's on my mind and wants to fit here too is a follow-up to the tulle-and-teacup phenomenon, which was also inspired by Melanie: I did photos last September (surprise! I took way too many) and made some "virtual party" appearances but never formulated a stand-alone post. I've collected a few images after my 80s hair below the jump. Starr won't mind returning the favour and letting MJ-the-hen visit the fluffy bottom of her post - they are flock animals after all. 

Stay tuned for the next landing of the Travelling Yellow Skirt, which is presently in migration to the Forest City Fashionista. In the meantime, join us for a fly-by over at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday. A very special thank you to my Travelling Yellow Skirt Sisters! 

Safe journeys, all. 

spring 1986
genuine unprocessed '80s hair of righteous and spectacular amplitude: Dep gel + Final Net hairspray (WendyB reminded me of the smell of Dep, which triggered reminiscences of the bubbly colours - and the spackly sound of it, ew!)
black hairband: self-made from the leg of a pair of tights
deer and Colossus of Rhodes necklace: vintage shop on Montréal's rue St-Denis, early 80s
big black trench coat: thrifted at the Sally Ann, worn in other 80s pics here
spiral-bound sketchbook: Studio/Derwent (with the line drawing of a pen nib on the cover), surgically attached
black sweatshirt, long stretchy pencil skirt, tights and socks
pointy lace-up shoes: 
Le Chateau men's section


Tulle-and-teacup intro here
Re-contextualizing the ballet costume I was wearing at age 12 while a dance teacher body-shamed me onstage during a dress rehearsal. My hen Maryjane Frystack was a big help with making things right, RIP dear girl.


  1. Ah the marvelous yellow skirt - and I love what you've created with it (and written!) Your Starr Ethel Steele looks perfectly at one with it, too. Love the juxtaposition of the two necklaces. Thanks for sharing all the beauty and thought with Visible Monday xoxoxo

  2. i adore this post, its fashion and visual and word art all rolled up and loaded onto a time portal! you had exactly the same 80's hair as me...except mine sat on top of a chubby face with about 6 chins! oh how i love this xxxx your yellow skirt outfit with hen is sublime!

  3. I love the look on Starr Ethel's face. So much judgement in her eyes! She knows we bloggers are crazy. :) I love, love, love those buckley boots so hard. I'm sure you could find a pair that to replace them physically but you could never replace the miles and memories in them.

    I love the stories that your photos evoke. I must strive for more of that in my posts.

  4. Right - where's that dance teacher, I want to give him/her a piece of my mind! I'm feeling in feisty protective mode at the moment, and your 12 year old dancing self is coming under my protective, slightly fiery wing, OK?
    Ahh, Amber Fleur, I do adore these photos so much. Your grace and elegance in the yellow skirt are just beautiful to see. The setting, Starr Ethel, the necklaces, the boots, the cape, the past, the present - it's all perfect.
    Those pendants are so wonderful - I have particularly fond memories of Mandraki harbour in Rhodes Town, where the Colossus was meant to have stood, and I am impressed that your 15 year old self had such great taste. And there you are wearing it, huge hair and all, looking amazing!
    I had to look up metaxy and liminality, cos you is cleverer than me, but I like thresholds and in-between-ness and cusps and transitions; as you say, they reference the past but look forward and onward, and that seems to me how we make some sense of life.
    Your tulle and tea cup pics are always a joy to see.
    I think you are a dancer, Amber. xxxx

  5. Exquisite! I love your photo shoot of the yellow skirt Amber. The priceless shot of Ethel Steele perched on your lap...the play of light and shadow, beautiful.

    Sue xo

  6. Wow--how stunning!! The scenery is fabulous and i think it's safe to say you'll be the only person accessorizing the TYS with a CHICKEN!!!!

    I love you pendants, the boots--just the whole everything about this post!!

  7. Chickuns!!!!! Love them, so cute!
    You look amazing in both outfits, I can't really pick my favourite.
    How cute were you back in the 80s? I love seeing old photos of people, it's always very touching.
    Much love xx

  8. Amazing Amazing Amazing- The Fashionable Beaurcrat just did her homage to the Tulle and Teacup so how wonderful I just got a sip of you both back to back! And I love your yellow skirt freak show! What marvelous memes!

  9. Beautiful! Your pictures are always so dreamy, but this particular set is downright magical. I cannot imagine the insult that started the traveling yellow skirt would lead to so many lovely outfits and so many inspirational posts. I'm always so happy to see positivity sprout from negative sources.

    Miss Starr may be your meanest hen, but she looks quite happy to be with her 'flock mother' - I'm also glad to see more of Miss Maryjane Frystack. You have such lovely hens.

  10. The setting is stunning, and your choice of accessories works for both the superficial and the profound! I am wondering if you added your own mark to the yellow skirt (or did Starr add a mark).

    And now I have the song White Bird in my head. It's a beautiful song.

  11. Breathtaking even as I catch a preview on my phone; I'll be back later to drink in all the beauty on a larger screen. Your yellow skirt location shots are amazing. The colors and breeziness are captivating and if I were to imagine Mother Nature as my dearest friend, you'd be her!! Liminal. I'll never forget the day I learned of that word many years ago.. It was used to describe my racial identity and it fit perfectly.Finally I didn't "chose" anymore.

    I have to run to work but I'll be back later to absorb and comment. Love you!!

  12. Breathtaking even as I catch a preview on my phone; I'll be back later to drink in all the beauty on a larger screen. Your yellow skirt location shots are amazing. The colors and breeziness are captivating and if I were to imagine Mother Nature as my dearest friend, you'd be her!! Liminal. I'll never forget the day I learned of that word many years ago.. It was used to describe my racial identity and it fit perfectly.Finally I didn't "chose" anymore.

    I have to run to work but I'll be back later to absorb and comment. Love you!!

  13. You have style it so wonderfully, dear Amber, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  14. The yellow skirt looks fabulous with this outfit, lovely to see you have a Wendy B necklace too. Bad girl hen is getting good at striking a pose xx

  15. The photo of you on the hillside with the billowing yellow is glorious...and the waiting for the chicken to lay her egg! And the big rubber mud boots with the tulle--a veritable feast for the eyes!

  16. The wait was so worth it - you did a marvelous job of integrating the yellow skirt into your surroundings and your iconic wardrobe memories. Excellent hen-balancing by the way! Yes, Starr does have a rather disapproving expression on her face - in my head she's doing the "all of this fuss for a skirt, REALLY!", said with a Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey voice. I love the photos of you in the sun by the tree - it looks like you're wearing part of the sun with the skirt. You look elegant, and timeless.

    You had the hair I wanted to have in the 80's! I did have very similar boots.

  17. Thrilled to pieces to see the necklace on you but I can't take my EYES of your '80s pictures. You know I love the hair!

  18. Oh, there is so much to love in this post. Chickens, the yellow skirt, the cape, the boots (I had some Le Chateau ones like that - miss them), the tulle and teacup marvelous.

  19. Absolutely wonderful. The last photo of you with Starr Ethel Steele is perfect. One of my favorite photos from any blogger ever.

  20. Bloody hell, there's a LOT to love and think about here!
    I'm quite fascinated by your intellectual approach to frocking up! I never consider anything but shallow reasons, I think, when frocking myself up...if I think anything further, I'm certainly not able to concentrate on it long enough to verbalise it!
    These are some beautiful pix! I adore Starr as a prop and co-star! Your jewellery always rocks, most especially today I love the Colossus of Rhodes and your new Fluer de Lis pendant is just lovely.
    The yellow skirt billowing in that Spring breeze is enchanting!SQUEE!

  21. O, and I am ALWAYS excited to see old pix! XXX

  22. Amber, I did not know that chickens dance so beautifully.

    This is my fave post of yours ever.

  23. Yellow skirts, hens, amazing necklaces, reclaiming tulle skirts....I don't there's any way another iota of fabulousness could be shoehorned into this post. Made. My. Day.

  24. Oh that yellow skirt. For some reason I am seeing a sunnier version of Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World."
    Everyone should have a chicken as an accessory.

  25. I've mentioned you and the here chicky chicky in my day's post.


  26. There are so many incredible photos of the yellow skirt I don't know which one to put up. Your mesmerizing awesomeness and the yellow skirt have cowed even alpha Starr Ethel Steele. I can't believe you were wearing that snakeskin coat in high school. I would have fainted. Light's gone liquid and audible cracking...? The read itself has been enchanting.
    Of course, your high-school hair is a entity unto itself. I was constantly perming then brushing my hair to achieve that same look but ended up with a big yellow orb.
    And your tulle and Maryjane Frystack are another whole world. The vintage-y photo of you in the door with MJF, wow. It's like Audrey Hepburn before she left the farm in Breakfast as Tiffany's. I'm glad you could work through that body shaming incident. What's wrong with people?
    Then I got lost in your blog, jumping from one link to another, and laughed at you in your birdly pose... Fantastic post, Amber. Thanks for contributing to the yellow skirt adventure.

  27. Breathtaking - the photos are just gorgeous and your text is so thoughtful and well written. What a fabulous chicken too.

  28. Outstanding Amber! Love all your pictures and the styling is over the top beautiful. Loved seeing that great 80's picture also. Very thoughtful and well done post.

    blue hue wonderland

  29. Fantastic photo that strip of photos of you holding hen up high towards end..beautiful.

  30. Beautiful yellow skirt, nicely presented. Good work.

  31. My first shot-impression ... what an astonishing and amazing yellow, white and blue surreal ballet by Dali. I just can't get over the lovely connection between you and your hen. Yes, an opus from Amber, and a treat for us all. Jewelry stories a pleasure to hear.
    Your tulle and teacup iteration is one of my best blogging mementos ... thinking of yours makes me think of all the rest that I saw.
    Please stop by, sometime, won't you?

  32. Ahhhh, the beauty of the traveling yellow skirt. You have accomplished so much in this post and I am in awe. Starr Ethel Steel is indeed a star. Regal dancer! Master of the silhouette! So much to appreciate, and I am speechless

  33. wonderful illustrated report of all your glorious yellow skirted awesomeness, I'm loving your photos, that delightful tree and lovely hen, and that floating yellow skirt floating on a sunny landscape!!, you're gorgeous and you've doubled fabulousness sharing that tulle skirt moment!, love everything!!!
    besos & enthusiasm!

  34. These is a feast for my eyes, and heart! I feel peaceful looking at these images. Your chicken is a get accessory to that skirt! Thanks for the stories!

  35. Feeling Delighted:
    To, at long last, have another view of The Yellow Skirt and have it be SO well worth the wait!
    To have found another smile-inducing and inspirational blog to follow.

    Thank you for such a fulfilling fealst!

  36. I have so much love for this post! A visual treat! Very much love the photos of you under that beautiful flowering tree in your gorgeous billowing yellow skirt having a conversation with your chook. It looks like a work of art! I love the way you worked the black tee shirt and ornate obi belt with the skirt. Just fabulous!

  37. Amber, you have done a splendid job with the yellow skirt! It looks like it BELONGS on the farm, and you are beautiful in it!! I love the stories scattered between the pictures too. I, too, would like to have a word with the ballet teacher!!! NO way! I love reading about the hens, seeing the lovely tree, with your bright yellow traveling skirt in the midst! I also love the tulle. You are beautiful!


    PS -- Love the big hair pic!!

  38. How fabulous to see you wearing that legendary yellow skirt! And looking so beautiful and graceful in it! I especially love the shots of you with your feathered friend.

  39. Wow Amber! I have just found your blog and I have to say you look fabulous.
    Has anyone ever told you that you look very elven?
    I love visiting bloggers who are into fashion because they are so inspiring for my work.
    Your yellow skirt is an amazing colour and it glows in the light. Love the chicken too who seems to be enjoying the attention in the photo shoot!
    By the way, your boots are really Gothic 80's. I remember my friend had a pair way back then!

  40. Wow. Amazing post. These images are so stunning...every last one of them.

  41. My heart has been saddened recently by (apparently) otherwise rational people savaging each other publicly through social media. I am taking a break from said social media, however it still weighs heavily. I am so pleased that I chose now to visit your site from my feed reader for this post was exactly what I needed to remind me of the wonder throughout the world and the love and care that "strangers" can share with each other. One of the things I love most about your blog (and there is so much that I love) is that you write from the heart, without shirking ups and downs, and my spirit always feels buoyed, even if occasionally sad as a result. Thank you for being you, and sharing a little of yourself with us.


Thank you for your comments!
- Amber