Tuesday, February 25, 2014
To speak of the length and the ardor and the fury of this long, long, bitter winter is, essentially, to speak of our inevitable senescence: known, familiar, looming, omnipresent, and no amount of complaining or commentary has the mythic power to induce any part of change. For those with an inexhaustible ability to rant, rave, kvetch, expound, and so forth and so on, certainly much more can and will be said about the unpleasant weather these last months, but, aside from transient and surely ultimately unsatisfactory sense of passive action, nothing will be accomplished. In a way, this beautiful constancy, the weather, as a perpetually reliable source of rhetoric and conversation, is a grand relief, an oasis for those overwhelmed with all the other almighty and potentially more profound life-forces that refuse to be budged.
Falling into a type of rut, since university there have been a few types of pairs of shoes that I consistently purchase and then purchase again. Black ballet flats, like the topic of weather during those brief introduction moments of a client teleconference, the agenda in pause while waiting for all invitees to join, are always useful. Tall leather boots. Red heels. And, for me, a bit less typical, a pair of pointed toe flats in some shade of indigo or deep violet. I have owned some pair or another of a lush floral blue consistently, finding them the perfect accompaniment for most black, gray, navy, red outfits. In a rare moment of change, at the start of the winter, I took a chance on this pair, a sort of neon jelly bean yellow. They were a steal, with a marked discount, and were leftover from the dregs of late summer, early autumn, which are but a glimmer in most memories these days. I bet they were intended to be worn with cropped white pants or a loose chambray shift; I have been pairing them with monochrome black, a beacon of warmth and light against the sharp winds and cruel ice of this winter.
The latest rendition of yellow against black was this past Saturday night, for an evening of rich barbecue and crazed dancing to delicious 1980s beats with some buddies from work. We were celebrating and commemorating one of our own, the only other lady in our crew, who is moving on to greener, warmer pastures below the Mason-Dixon. While breaking a sweat on the club floor, these shoes got more than a bit dirty. Luckily for me, patent leather is a breeze to wipe clean. I am still coming to terms with the loss of my office gossip-gal, and of a truly gifted designer, but I am glad we and my snappy yellow shoes could send her onto her new adventures in style.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Most of my jewelry, apparently, immediately evokes those unforgettable lines from one of my favorite poems, "Sailing to Byzantium," describing the "hammered gold and gold enameling" of some gilded mechanical bird, tasked with cooing softly and entertaining a dozing, apathetic emperor, so inundated with stimulation the world is tedious. On quite another end of the spectrum, these earrings also evince the nursery school ditty about sticks and stones, albeit rather lurid sticks, a saying that always aggravated me, a sensitive child, for its flagrant falsity. Certainly words, strung together maliciously, are unlikely to puncture the skin, draw blood, bear white scar tissue, but emotional wounds are often more potent, more profound. These nuances, though more true, are more difficult to rhyme, so they are left ignored by the nursery types and left to more probing wordsmiths.
Since moving to a markedly more expensive city, I have had to reign in the amount of frivolous spending; sign of growth and maturation. Also, a result of the relative dearth of foolishly and ludicrously affordable consignment shops that offer beauty and quality. A considerably small sacrifice for living in one of the greatest cities in the world. Thankfully, I have discovered a handful of local gems in my neighborhood that satisfy that seemingly carnal urge to peruse and gaze in awe at the glitter and glam of a bygone era.
These earrings are a bit more funky and contemporary looking than most in my collection, and are actually a bit reminiscent of a pair I purchased at a small boutique in Paris, which, apparently, I have done a poor job of adequately documenting. In each of these pairs, I admire the organic quality that directly contrasts with the sharp glint of the metal, that tension of artifice and nature so lurid, as though a pile of sticks were plundered from the forest and were then submerged in some pristine alchemic pool. To complete a full mental circle, returning to a point of childhood memory, they are also rather similar to some unique pieces that I inherited from my grandmother, gifts to her from my grandfather, crafted by a local Baltimore artisan.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Just before the Christmas holiday, I hosted a very impromptu party, my first since I moved months ago into Brooklyn. It took some time for me to feel comfortable entertaining, mostly for interior decorating reasons: working long hours, adjusting to a new social schedule, hanging my various prints and paintings was not a priority and suffered from some potent procrastination. After a productive December of putting on the finishing touches, and wanting to get into a festive spirit a bit before heading back to my childhood home, I invited a handful of my closest friends over for a spread of soft and hard cheeses, some homemade dill dip, and an array of strong cocktails. Despite being last moment, the turn out was wonderful, and we all ate greedily and shook up cold Manhattans and martinis violently, laughing and even enjoying some classic carols.
One of the greatest hidden joys of hosting a party at my own home, a joy that very nearly outweighs the hungover toiling of cleaning dishes and wiping away the grime of a good time the next morning, is being able to comfortably and confidently wear beautiful pumps that, in a pedestrian city, I would not typically choose to don unless taxis are involved. On the evening of my party, I was pumped to wear these black suede heels, adorned with tiny golden studs along the toe. With such delicate detailing, the heels have an intriguing flair, without going on a total bold offensive. These are the type of shoes that are timeless, pair elegantly with nearly any look: dark denim, a white blouse, a striped bateau sweater, some loose flannel, or, as on the evening of the festivities, a trim little black dress. Though the heels are not incredibly high, I was still a bit hesitant to wear this pair for the first time out and about strutting around on the uneven Brooklyn pavement. Thankfully, they withheld the various endurance tests of the night, standing, walking to and fro, ensuring that all guests, and myself, had fresh drinks, that the trays of snacks did not fall sallow.
Now that a number of maelstrom work projects have, hopefully, calmed a bit, I want to make casual gatherings, small dinners, and a night of fine cheese and drinks a more regular routine.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Just one day following my rather grandiose boast of donning spectacular gem-like colors, even in the face of chilled winter drudgery and of a vehemently ingrained monochrome black stereotype, I regressed, reverted back to my denim, my black sweater, my portrait in an absence of light. Since moving, I, still, have yet to establish my new professional circadian rhythm, certainly a product of many late-nights and more social stimulation. Often, I forgo my morning coffee, at home, while I dress, waiting to drink instead a cup brewed pathetically from a plastic pod, a waste. Maybe this deflux of caffeine has hindered the appropriate sartorial synapses.
Though I have been rather guilty of jeans lately, I have also sought to spice up the staple; this miniature polka dot patterned pair is a prime example. These vintage earrings, a contour of sterling silver encasing a smear of black stone, matched perfectly with my lazy gray and black look. I rather like the almost unvarnished look of the earrings, a bit of tarnished grime, some imperfection.
Like the earrings, this thick silver cuff, a kind of rippling metal water, often goes forgotten and unnoticed in my pile of jewelry. I blame the propensity to don gold, to don rhinestone, to infuse immediate and gratuitous artificial glamor to even the most boring of office garb.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Falling into the stereotypical rut of the professional New Yorker, and falling a bit lazy in the chilled winter temperatures, I have taken to wearing monochrome black almost incessantly: black sweaters, black blazers, black jeans, black booties. Certainly, head-to-toe black is classic and perpetually sleek, but against a backdrop of cold gray skies and the dirtied dredges of gray snow, some flashes of color can raise the spirits. Last week, I abandoned my urban uniform, pairing a cobalt, navy, and white striped sweater with a berry wool skirt. Working in a completely casual atmosphere, the desire to don denim is immense. Lately, much of my former business casual sartorial life has lain sallow, silent and forlorn in my cramped closet, overlooked for some easy jeans and a comfortable sweater. These silver, rhinestone, and pearl earrings, subtly loud, vehemently demure, were the bit of funky flair to my conservative and colorful look.
Monday, January 13, 2014
I have been intending to read the short fiction of Mary McCarthy, among other works, for quite some time; this outfit stems rather literally, all connotations, from the now oft-quoted and well-remembered title "The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt." McCarthy is quoted on the cover of my worn, loved paperback version of Pale Fire, which I finished at the end of last year, a visual reminder for some new year reading goals. Hopefully this weekend, I plan to officially become a citizen of Brooklyn and join the public library, a mere four blocks from my apartment.
Transitioning traditionally gaudy sequins from evening to day is an increasingly popular, now mundane topic among fashion publications, digital and print. The list of styling recommendations nearly always includes some iteration of pair with a plain tee shirt, an obvious and intuitive strategy that can successfully tone down nearly any bold blazer. Let the sequins shine solo; pare down the rest of the look. In keeping with my theme of casual sparkle, I wore a pair of plain black denim. Rather than opt for my steadfast and true white, or my perpetually reliable black, I donned this gray men's undershirt, a relic from my university days, borrowed, never returned.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Either a product of getting older and wiser, or a product of mounting cynicism, or both, the two not often mutually exclusive, New Year's Eve, the event, capitalized, does not hold the same titillating promise of fun, excitement, and drama, to which it once, briefly, clung. Tempering my capacity for exponential expectation, I am content spending the evening with a few close friends and a few chilled drinks, dancing and laughing and making merry. While I no longer care whether my party that evening is trendy or ground-breaking or even particularly memorable, I still like to make a sartorial splash, spilling forth sequins and sparkle whenever possible. Just before Christmas, while strolling around Park Slope and completing some last minute party planning for an impromptu seasonal soiree at my new apartment, I stumbled across my good friend Sarah. She then introduced me to a local antiques market, where we both stumbled on some pretty incredible finds.
Opulent silk sequin blouses offer an ideal shimmer for a party; I have a few with gold and bronze gilded glitz, so was pleased to find this silver and black variation. There is so much texture, so many detailed facets, it is quite effusive, from the cascade of pearl tears to the almost ragged pirate, almost icicle-like hem and sleeves. With such a frenetic top, I, obviously, kept the bottom simple, pairing this unique find with a long, flowing black maxi skirt. Coincidentally, it seemed there was an unspoken Stevie Nicks-theme to the New Year's Eve party hosted by my dear friend Lauren; long black skirts were running and shimmying amok. I was glad to have a belligerent amount of shine to stand out on the living room dance floor.
While I kept my look simple and prudent with my plain maxi skirt, I could not help but debut these disco-era vintage rhinestone earrings and mirror the shimmering spectacle of my silk blouse. I found these gems at a darling and exceedingly well curated vintage boutique in my neighborhood, Rosebud Vintage; while I paid a more handsome price for this pair of earrings than I would in the rural stores in Pennsylvania and Delaware, the quality and intrigue was worth it.