Friday, September 30, 2011

Casual Friday: Orange Creamsicle

This week has been simultaneously calming and frenetic; I have been working furiously, though not as diligently as I would hope, on a project while attempting to physically and emotionally recover from the tribulations of my business trip to Las Vegas last weekend. Today, I am fully and reluctantly embracing the dregs of summer, sporting a tunic-style long tee shirt and lighter weight chinos. Orange and white color combinations never fail to connote a nostalgia for the delicious frozen treat, citrus and cream mingling, both sweet and a bit tart.

My hair is long overdue for a trim; traveling has proven quite the barrier to regularly scheduled appointments. Lately, as opposed to blow drying, not wanting to endure the heat and the effort, I have been wearing my hair naturally wavy.

Smiling like a fool, dreaming of a weekend of apple picking and some fall weather.

This shirt is a bit longer than most, and will pair well with either leggings or tights, perhaps with a pair of tall mahogany leather riding boots. Orange can be difficult to work with, since pairing it with black, a staple and neutral bastion in my wardrobe, is fatal; the evocation of Halloween candy and commercialism cannot be forgiven. So, I stick with either white, for the summer, or navy and browns, either chocolate or camel, in the fall as my neutrals.

The tuckered pinch in the middle of this shirt adds some movement, creates some waves that ripple outward and disrupt the symmetrical parallelism of the traditional stripe pattern.

Navy polka dots are such a classic; this scarf in particular I wear quite regularly with my navy chinos, white summer dresses, red, and gray. Combining the stripes and polka dots, unified by the white, adds a bit of texture to this relatively simple tee shirt and chinos outfit.

Large pearl bracelet worn with a heavy gold chain-like bracelet.

Navy, gold, and pearl earrings, found at a small vintage shop in a neighboring town, to complement the various elements of the look.

These nude patent leather peep-toe heels are quite possibly the most versatile shoe I own; they literally go with everything, which has been a true salvation when packing for business and needing a shoe that matches any suit.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cardigans and Thin Belts

While I can enumerate the benefits to online shopping quite easily, the foundation of which being the convenience, being able to incorporate into an individual daily schedule without adhering to store hours, avoiding the occasionally overbearing or aggressive assistance of sales associates, there are just as many weaknesses. From the disadvantage vantage, ordering incorrect sizes can be ameliorated by shopping exclusively within stores where pant, jean, blouse, dress sizes can be appropriately gauged, or by ordering multiple sizes, the latter of course incorporating a return trip for at least some of the items. For me, I tend to online shop only at stores where I feel confident in my knowledge of their garments and how they fit; even so, I can be surprised and can falter.

Earlier in the spring, I ordered some basic, light weight transitional cotton cardigans from Gap, one of those stalwarts of my online shopping, selecting the size I felt would be comfortable and suiting. Gap offered this piece in an array of colors, and I chose the versatile camel heather brown, as well as a light air blue. Alas, when they arrived, the fit was a bit looser than I had anticipated and would have wanted. Unfortunately, a burdensome work schedule and a desire to have some free time for relaxation and fun impeded the inclination to actually physically visit the store for a return or exchange. So, the loose fit has been adapted.

A looser fit works well when wearing a cardigan over a collared blouse, as they tend to also be a bit looser and not form fitting; the blouse above is a favorite cream silk of mine, which I tend to forget despite its classic cut and color. To even better provide sufficient shape, I finished my look with a thin eggplant leather belt, to accentuate the waist, to remind everyone that it is still there beneath the two layers of fabric.

I like the look of the curved, soft blouse collar with the deep plunging v-neck of the cardigan; it is a great contrast.

With a cardigan, I prefer a thinner belt, as opposed to some of my wide leather belts, which I will use to accent a dress or certain longer tunics, because of the proportions: this cardigan is on the shorter end of the spectrum, in terms of length, and a wider belt would be overwhelming. Eggplant and deep purple are great color choices for camel and brown, especially when the rest of the outfit is subtle and neutral.

Thursday afternoon soundtrack: James Blake James Blake (self-titled debut album)

Where Milkshakes are Cabinets

The other weekend, I endured the incivilities and physical ardor of public transportation to journey up north for a return visit to Providence, Rhode Island, spending the weekend with my lovely and dear friend Rebecca. During my prior visit, we had driven past the Brown University campus, where Rebecca attends graduate school, however, did not stop to actually traverse the grounds. As she was teaching a literature section Friday morning, I took the opportunity to amble a bit, in solitude, and was pleased but not at all surprised at the bucolically traditional nature of the institution. New England was in the midst of fall temperatures, and despite the verdant trees, the entire campus had an autumnal aura. While I loved the almost schizophrenic amalgamation of architecture and design at my own alma mater, a campus quad of cohesive brick and stone buildings is always beautiful.

Following her class, Rebecca and I enjoyed the sun, walking to a favorite brunch and lunch location near her new apartment, Nick's On Broadway. Before dining, we captured a few photographs in the sun, facetiously feigning earnest street style poses.

This wool jacket, with its loose structure and extreme versatility, is a wonderful seasonal transition piece; Rebecca scored the beautiful number while visiting one of our mutual friends out in Los Angeles. It looks meticulous and lovely whether hanging open, or wrapped with a thin belt; I am definitely envious.

Black teaching appropriate shoes that tie, with comfortable heels, perfect for standing before your trembling students and exuding an air of intellectual superiority. While simultaneously instilling a sense of academic confidence, or something.

Rebecca is petite; this beautiful fuchsia wool skirt was once her mother's, who boasts longer legs, and Rebecca wisely had the skirt altered to better suit her frame. The result is an ideal skirt for class, or for social calls. Though vintage, from another era, a tailored wool skirt never fades from style.

With round lens among the trends recently, I was drawn to these vintage Isaac Mizrahi sunglasses, as they emulate the look, without being so bombastic. This black tuxedo blazer served me well for the weekend against the chill; clean black goes with many outfits, when packing accordingly.

I was not able to resist this cotton maxi dress, especially since I found it on the cheap; it is comfortable, and for the most part, has served as a long skirt these past few weeks while wandering around and running errands.

After making a spectacle of ourselves in the street, we arrived to Nick's On Broadway famished; Rebecca enjoyed the corn-encrusted blue fish, politely declining the optional poached egg garnish. Perhaps the correct decision for her cholesterol, but I have a poached egg whenever presented the opportunity.

Pretending to be ladies who lunch, we drank a glass and a half of wine with our meal; mine was a stubbornly subtle and strong red, from France, an organic wine that I probably would not have selected in a store. It was quite enjoyable.

Pulled pork sandwich, an atypical choice for the New England area, but delicious nonetheless.

Friday evening, Rebecca and her new roommate, Devon, hosted a housewarming party to welcome friends old and new into their joint home. Naturally, we journeyed to neighboring Massachusetts in order to purchase an arsenal of tax-free, reduced priced gin and vodka for the classic cocktail features of the evening. I found this greater than life-sized rendition of Captain Morgan, affixed to a platform near the ceiling, to be particularly alluring.

Accessories for the evening: large round gold earrings, potentially an inch or so in diameter, red leather belt with gold buckle, and lucite and black bangles. Leopard print and bright cherry red has always been a favorite combination. This particular dress has a looser fit, and definitely benefits from being cinched at the waist.

An array of cheeses, bleu, cheddar, and brie, to help sate the group of party-goers and to pair with martinis.

The temporary bar for the evening, constructed from Rebecca's butcher block; her chivalrous boyfriend Andrew was a kind and diligent bartender.

Golden Betsey Johnson shoes, also from a shop out in Los Angeles, and Rebecca's new carpet, a beautiful present from her father.

Party preparations, as they tend to, included some artfully crafted text messages.

Rebecca and Devon in their lovely cocktail attire; thankfully, most of the guests followed the suggested dress code. It was a pleasant and fun atmosphere, without the rowdiness of undergraduate affairs; graduate students are certainly refined. Pop music never, ever starts playing past midnight.

Devon is a vegan, and had received these vegan pearls as a gift; I would love to learn more about the process.

Anticipating the guests, we made sure to capture the only photograph of the two of us for the evening.

Devon debuted her Mad Men-inspired Banana Republic dress; the blue floral pattern is a great modern update to some of the trendy florals of the 1960s, and complements her coloring so well. An ideal cut and dress for an evening of traditional libations.

Saturday morning, Rebecca and I went to the Providence farmer's market, in search of luscious shellfish. Up north, the peaches are still heavy on the tree boughs.

The boutique hotdog and sausage stand that parks near the farmer's market sells the substance dreams are made of: chorizo with sweet and hot peppers, doused in egg salad. I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this treat is.

Local soda, which, though amusing, I must admit did not quench my appetite for a strong cream flavor, as I was hoping.

After the farmer's market, Rebecca and I visited the heart of Providence's Italian neighborhood, which a recent and beloved mayor transformed to a type of faux Mediterranean terrace, complete with a large trickling fountain and these frescoes mimicking Renaissance iconography.

It is in this neighborhood that one can have poultry and other fine game animals butchered for them, thrashing feet and a racing heart quickly become a mound for an evening meal.

Despite having devoured a delicious sausage and bun a mere few hours prior, I managed to sample some of the baked goods: an eclair and a cannoli.

Since moving to Providence, Rebecca has acquired a seafood expertise, specifically honing her shucking skills; while I tend to order oysters from Canadian waters while at restaurants, I found these local oysters simultaneously mild and flavorful.

Freshly made ravioli, stuffed with prosciutto and provolone; Rebecca made a delicious homemade tomato sauce to top the pasta.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stripes and Sequins

Chance and happenstance have worked synergistically in such a way that, much to my own chagrin, I have been unable to indulge in a schedule suitable to my needs. My heart continues to beat and my major organ systems continue to be sustained with mostly appropriate nutrition, fulfilling those lower tiers of Maslov tenets, however, time spent at the gymnasium has decreased substantially in recent weeks. Also, importantly, I have been unable to coordinate a moment to relax and have my hair trimmed and style, leading to some improvisation. Desperate and exhausted, confronted with long and reckless bangs in my bathroom mirror in the morning, I must be adroit and creative and aggressive to survive. In a moment of most dire need, I discover this tiny silver lizard hairpin, from a decade ago, at least, that has somehow miraculously and shockingly resisted perish as I have grown older and moved around across state lines.

With my bangs then skillfully tucked away from my forehead and eyes, I could fully appreciate that this little lizard embellishment blended well with its environment, expert camouflage, with my lucite earrings and bracelet, with my gray and sequined cardigan paired with a gray striped tee shirt.

I purchased this cardigan, and another in a peach color, from Ann Taylor Loft while I was visiting my beautiful friends Katherine and Diana in Richmond. Being mostly lured by the discounts of TJ Maxx or Century 21, as of late, or the ease of online shopping with Gap and Banana Republic, I had not stepped foot into an Ann Taylor store in quite some time. Loft has a high volume of merchandise, which they rotate through the store with high frequency, resulting in great sales and constant price reductions. Having once been a sales associate there, I learned that purchasing anything there full price was plain foolish.

This cardigan is very light-weight and is neutral, without being overtly plain, with its sequence band along the bottom; it makes a great transitional piece as the fall weather oscillates wildly, a tantrum, between hot and cool.

Pairing the sequins cardigan with a striped top creates a nice pattern of texture; since both are in shades of gray, the result is not overly busy. Similarly, wearing a few strands of pearls, with slightly different hues and sizes, gives a textured and more complex feel to the look, but, again, avoids being overwhelming.