Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Outfit for a Monday: Pearls and Pleats

Over the weekend, when the filmmaker and I went to Lambertsville, I found this pearl necklace at one of the local antique shops; lately, pearl costume jewelry has become integral to my daily wardrobe. With such an expanse of cream, camel, and black in my closet, pearls always can be incorporated seamlessly.

For a beautiful and sunny Monday, in transition from winter to spring, cream, gold, and black were the choices; while I am happily anticipating the coming of more sun, though there is not much to thaw this season, I will only begrudgingly relent my tights. This gold glitter-infused black pair of tights have been worn in heavy rotation since procured last December; they do with everything and I can always use an additional sparkle to lift my occasionally work-wounded spirits. The cream sweater, with subtle gold embellishments running around the crest of the shoulder, is a very light weight pima cotton and is, unfortunately, rather sheer, not an optimal quality for an office environment. An arsenal of camisoles are a necessity.

The pearl necklace is actually a myriad helix, textured with tiny spheres, rather than the typical smooth curved space. The weight and the golden basket-like pendant give this piece some intrigue, making it more of a statement than a simple strand of pearls.

Pleats have been quite ubiquitous lately, which is a little surprising, given that they often exude either a juvenile innocence or a matronly dowdiness. The shorter length of this particular skirt definitely lends the feeling of a girl playing in the school yard, however, I feel not shamed; more and more, I learn the importance and the truth of trying to stay young at heart, and even sometimes in mind.

Vintage Salvatore Ferragamo shoes could bring a taste of sophisticated Italian elegance and brilliance to a pair of sweatpants.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lazy Sunday in Lambertsville

After spending a few hours allowing my body and mind to wake, slowly and leisurely, the filmmaker and I decided to take an impromptu adventure into Pennsylvania. Lambertsville is a quaint and not altogether sleepy town, where the economy and cultural loci share a particular nexus: antiques and art. Local shops of antiques, vintage, and artisan crafts scatter about a silent railroad track and a bridge to cross a river. Despite the seeming isolation from the bustling urban maelstrom of the New York metropolitan area, Lambertsville boasted an obvious crowd of weekend visitors, presumably drawn by the allures of aforementioned antiques and art.

Our first stop, following paying homage to the exorbitant sacrifices requisite of the parking meter goddesses, a nickel for three minutes to be precise, was a used book shop: Phoenix Books. It seems almost customary that small and delightfully cramped used book shops in small stores, wafting a permeating bouquet of almost-must and binding glue, and thankfully, Lambertsville and Phoenix Books did not disappointment. In one alcove, I found philosophy, linguistics, and poetry; as I often get quite distracted and overwhelmed in these situations, I focused my search energies here. I picked up three absolute gems for about 20$; my reading rate has been depressingly decrepit lately, thanks to perpetually starting at a mind-numbing computer screen whose glow assaults my retina, and further to reading equally mind-numbing tedium for my profession. Perhaps my personal reading life will pick up with these additions.

(image taken from Woodstock Wardrobe)

(image taken from Jane Hayes Consulting)

(image taken from About)

(image taken from She Finds)

(image taken from LA Times)

(image taken from In Style)

The array of Betty Draper image inspiration is not some error splice; after we meandered through a few antique stores, I convinced the filmmaker to jaunt down the main street to a charming vintage clothing shop I had spied on the journey in. Every garment, or nearly every garment, was neons, creams, whites, and navy, with perfectly cinched waists and full skirts, essentially a materialistic fantasy realm for any 1960s housewife, thriving on ennui and powerless unfulfillment. In particular, there was a navy and white wicker handbag that I adored, coveted, but, practicality triumphing, ultimately let alone there on the shelf.

The costume design for Mad Men is obviously ridiculously meticulous and has the luxury of discerning eyes cultivated by the last few decades to preen selections for perfection; I specifically love paying acute attention to the costume jewelry. Antique stores are always resplendent with various baubles and beads from bygone eras; our adventure did lead to some awesome rewards. Though I am trying pinch a penny or two or three, tickle a nickel, for my trip to Paris, I ended up with a few new jewelry acquisitions.

The filmmaker and I agreed that if this lad were not several hundred dollars, and thus quite a comfortable permanent resident here on this antique store wall, he would have accompanied us home; a fine coat rack.

After I had concluded ogling costume jewelry and the fantastic tiny waists on beautiful dresses, we went to dinner, a place called Lilly's on the Canal. The fare was mostly basic contemporary American, with a few nuances, and the soundtrack and decor were quite eclectic, a strange hybrid between bed and breakfast and new age dance club. At some point during the meal, a water hose turned on behind what appeared to be a wall of scalloped aluminum, creating a trickling industrial waterfall effect, simultaneously soothing and hilarious. Small towns can be quite creative.

To start, as we were immediately famished, we had homemade fried tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa, and a bean salad; each chip was large and probably sufficient for a single person appetizer. I devoured a number of them.

The filmmaker likes chicken, a lot; he also likes bacon, a lot, thus ordered this grilled sandwich, but, unfortunately, bacon does not return the congeniality.

Most of the time, I find it hard to turn down a Kobe beef burger, medium rare, garnished with a heavy helping of sharp cheddar cheese and rich bacon. This type of dietary preference may be indicative as to why my wardrobe has been leaning towards the over-sized, some almost old western and others more investment banker, button-down men's shirts. They, if nothing else, are quite forgiving.

I have not had a root beer, a real root beer, in ages; alas, vanilla ice cream could not be procured. I know what my summertime secret dessert is going to be.

This window pane patterned button-down was an appropriate choice; perhaps my ordering the larger than my face burger was inevitable, a beautiful act of fate. Pairing this type of shirt, such a piece of stereotypical casual masculinity, with my carved cameo was an ideal juxtaposition.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ebony and Ivory

Being one of those few and far between, at least in this beautiful Union, who indulges in the loneliness of television, as I do, indeed, agree with T.S. Eliot, I did not watch the presentation of the Academy Awards last night. While I will jocularly mock the lavish and superficial nature of these all too frequent ceremonies, I nevertheless relish in the delight of the sartorial successes and shames. This year, there were a number of hackneyed, obviously reminiscent of something else gowns, a number of sequined numbers, some beautiful and some less than impressive, however, few that I found simply remarkably stunning. My two favorite were rather unanimous across the media: Angelina Jolie in Versace velvet and Rooney Mara in Givenchy glamorous glitter. Each was an immaculate nocturne, representing day and night, ivory and ebony, and an almost innumerable list of dichotomous pairs representing light and dark. Rather appropriately, each allowed the dramatic draping of their decadent gowns to remain focal, as opposed to dripping their wrists, clavicles, ear lobes, and the like with borrowed jewels. With women this gorgeous, a risky slit, a plunging neckline, and a pair of red lips are more than sufficient to entice, seduce, and execute.

(images taken from Yahoo)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This and That

Today has been surprisingly and remarkably productive, despite my feeling more than a bit under the weather the past few days, stalking around like a feeble wizened old woman and sneezing bursts attacking at regular intervals. I awoke at a decent time in the morning, ran one very important errand that had been postponed and delayed these past few months: a visit to my bank, which holds the most inconvenient hours for any professional who works typical business day hours. Following this sweet success, I gorged upon some huevos rancheros for brunch, sated and content. Whomever decided that avocado, black beans, fried eggs, sour cream, tortilla, cheese, and salsa should become a breakfast stable must be rewarded handsomely, or become the namesake for some highway or bridge somewhere. Perusing a local thrift shop, I then found a new wooden wine rack for cheap, which also seamlessly matches some of my other wood shelves. There was also the pathetically triumphant dissembling of my very fake plastic miniature Christmas tree, which, though it has been providing ample cheer and glow these past few months, needed to retire.

In this fury of productivity, a simple and comfortable almost ballet-inspired off the shoulder sweater covered me. Perhaps, in another decade, I could have been that iconic metal welder who moonlights as a provocative but prudent and pragmatic exotic dancer. If only.

Saturday afternoon dusting and dancing soundtrack: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Twilight to Starlight the Smashing Pumpkins

Friday, February 24, 2012

Organization Frustration

Books scatter across my apartment, coalescing and coagulating like the clumps of dust and fragments of hair that somehow migrate into the apartment from beyond, infiltrating my occasionally permeable isolated world. In some places, the books tower, teetering, like some childhood game where pieces are slowly removed, clutched in sweating palms, then strategically relocated to build ever higher. Not infrequently, I pass over a new pile, discover a title that I had once remembered purchasing, neglected, allowed to crawl bow-legged into some recess of neural space; in a sense, it is a delight, a renewed surprise.

When we were younger, inordinate amounts of time were spent fixated on the deaths and burials of ancient Egyptian kings, stowed for an eternity, or, until a raiding opportunity, to desiccate in an arid tomb of gilded delights and fantasy for the living. Futile for the ones who have passed. In my sepulcher, the gilded items, vases and tapestries and oozings of fine jewels, are replaced with the simple spines of books.

My fantasy: hollowing my walls, emptying them of marshmallow ventilation and collections of antiquities to be expected from such structures of old, build them anew, into a neat array of shelves, complete with a ladder. Naturally, leather and chrome sitting chairs would be included in this delusion.

(images taken from The Pursuit Aesthetic)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Celebrating Grant, Taft, Nixon, Hayes, Polk, and Van Buren

Three or four years ago, I do not think I would ever believe that one of my most beloved wardrobe staples, both professionally and socially, would become button-down blouses, particularly Oxfords and other traditionally classic striped and gingham numbers. I cannot quite fathom what the negative connotation was, or from where it specifically arose, though if I think back upon certain contextual cues perhaps it was merely a visceral aversion to the idea of mundane, bureaucratic corporate responsibility, which transcended to my aesthetics. Though the aversion, to some extents, persists, alive and well, I have fully embraced the uniform. To give the look a casual feel, I paired it with tight denim and tall ombre riding boots.

For Presidents Day, a federally enforced and superficial national recognition of our former leaders, albeit one that is notably and thankfully more benign than the mourning charades in North Korea over the recently deceased maniacal monster, I wore a new black and white gingham blouse. The occasion was a casual afternoon visit to Brooklyn, for some quality family time with Elizabeth, Winona, David, and the gang of expressive pets. For the past few consecutive weekends, during my visits, Winona has accomplished some impressive milestones for a plump and pretty infant her age: first, the back to belly roll over, second, the complementing belly to back roll over. We were all elated. We also made sure to spend a few moments in silence remembering those lesser memorialized presidents, even Carter; Lincoln and Washington get sufficient face-time, literally (currency) and figuratively.

On a more serious note, after a childhood of the iconic profile of inaugural president, General George Washington, it has been mildly interesting observing the variation in our coins, to commemorate others who have shaped and formed this country.

Monday also marked the first time I read a picture book to my niece, a pastime I have firmly resolved to remain loyal to and to cherish; as a child, many of my most fond memories are those when I was being read to aloud. It was not clear how much she retained from a literary comprehension perspective, but I could tell from her eyes, wide with wonder and innocence, that she was fascinated with the bold colors and shapes. I sound like my mother, but it will be before I know it, blink of an eye, when she can start to sound out the words and then begin to read along with me. Exhilarating, learning the intricacies and the verbal and textual signaling of a language.

Red, black, and white are a classic chromatic trio; since my blouse and jeans were so dark, this bold pop of cherry from my broad bakelite bangle was perfect.

For some added pizazz, I wore these rhinestone and pearl earrings, arranged as though they are a cosmic vortex, perhaps some spiraling galaxy, or, more colloquially, the bird eye view of a bouquet of flowers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dalliances in the Kitchen: Roast Chicken

(image taken from A Writer's Desk)

(image taken from Ale Heads)

On Sunday afternoon, feeling simultaneously domestic and refreshingly rested and refurbished, I decided to embark upon what is generally considered a modest and unassuming kitchen adventure: roasting a chicken. Partially, I wanted to expand my skills and horizons, mostly, I wanted to prepare something actually decent and delicious for my filmmaker, for once. The week before, I had stopped into Brooklyn for a typical visit of cuddling and giggling with my niece and in staying for Sunday dinner, earned a free tutorial from my sister. Despite her culinary and pedagogical expertise, and the relative ease of my task in terms of steps and necessary cooking ambidexterity, I still managed to muck a few things up.

Purchasing the necessary fresh ingredients, preparing the bird for roasting with stuffed thyme and onions and celery, dicing vegetables, and compiling all in a mess of olive oil into my cast iron skillet went off flawlessly. With my oven accurately pre-heated, or so I could only assume, in went the skillet and I had merely to wait those long, long ninety or so minutes. What happened next was a far cry from burning anything, neither chicken nor vegetation flesh; rather, I prematurely removed the entire skillet, began to slice and to serve, and then was questioned by the filmmaker. Indeed, the chicken tasted delicious, however, the chunks of potatoes could have easily just been dug up from the earth that moment, or, could have stood in as stones. They were incredibly hard. I threw the entire ordeal back in the oven and we sipped some red wine as we waited yet another twenty minutes or so. By then, the chicken was still delicious and juicy, perhaps even more so, as we were ravenous and had been cruelly teased with earlier tastes, and the potatoes were edible, though still unpleasantly so.

Crucial lesson learned for next time: remove chicken from skillet, allow to set on the counter and cool for as long as desired, up to an hour, as the skin will retain the heat and the moisture, and then continue cooking the polymer-like sinews and fibers of vegetables until soft.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Outfit for a Tuesday: Pantone 16-1439, or, Caramel

A number of months ago, my beautiful and effervescent friend Hartley sent me a friendly postcard, a true treasure in this era of electronic messages, terse and cold, which displayed a beautiful, rich caramel tone. Today, peering upon the color and the Pantone numbers pinned by a magnetic up on my refrigerator as I grabbed some milk for my coffee, I decided to use the color for inspiration. Camel continues to be prevalent in popular clothing stores and in many upper echelon designs, though, the added neon flair is also gaining traction; I can appreciate neons, but have difficulty embracing them, personally. I do not feel they are enduring.

This camel bone necklace is one that I love and hold dear, however, often neglect to incorporate enough into my daily wardrobe; lately, I have been loving the effect of exotic and bombastic necklaces paired with simple button-down blouses, underneath the collar. In this case, I paired it with a cream silk blouse and a very comfortable, also warm caramel, cashmere cardigan. The slacks and the shoes, in almost indoctrinated form, matched.

Lusting: Lucite Heels

(image taken from Debutante Clothing)

(image taken from One Fifth Avenue Princess)

(image taken from Katinka's Blog)

(image taken from Effluvia Magazine)

Over the weekend, I briefly perused a visually alluring fashion editorial spread in New York Magazine over the weekend heralding clear lucite accessories, namely pumps and clutches, as a stalwart for the spring season. With an already impressive collection of lucite bangles and necklaces in my deep arsenal of accessories, a pair of stately, translucent heels or sandals seems the logical decision. The clear heel is not only wonderfully versatile, it is also strangely seductive, reminiscent of the voyeuristic act of peering through clear glass of a window, hopeful of catching a small glimpse of something, a shred of skin, a hint of hair.

Alas, once again, I bemoan my plight: tax season. Despite my hard work and, for the most part, relatively frugal spending habits, I suspect a substantial portion of my money will be stolen away from various departments, in dire straits, perhaps distributed to those important officials deciding exactly how much high-fructose corn syrup should be saturated into the school lunches of the young of this fine nation.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Warm Socks and Cashmere

Last weekend, I spent a few hours during my Saturday afternoon having my hair professionally cut and blown dry; it was certainly long overdue. While I have been enjoying the shockingly mild winter, with the air crisp and smelling of fire smoke, more akin to that of late autumn than the cruel and turbulent month of February, I have been disappointed at the lack of opportunities to display my warm, thick sweaters and my cozy thigh high socks. Lately, I have been increasingly drawn to men's wardrobes for inspiration: crew neck cashmere, loosely fitted French cuff button-downs, chino slacks, loafers. I have a myriad of old, discarded sweaters gifted me from my father, his days of needing such items for casual days in the office now are over. It is with much restraint that I do not raid his entire closet, as well as that of my sister's husband, for that matter.

This tunic is just long enough to be mostly appropriate when worn with a larger sweater. By the looks of my goofy giggling visage, I am not in a mind to care about propriety.