Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Frolicking in Fryes and Sister Rivalry

Most likely combining both genetic ingrained elements, transcribed and translated, and interactions and reactions with the molecular micro-environment and the greater world around us, with phenotype and behavioral manifests, younger sisters are jealous of older sisters. Particularly true during childhood, when older sisters seem better able to manipulate parental constraints, when older sisters have later bedtimes, and can turn the manipulation on the younger sister to steal her last few bites of ice cream cone, they just seem to exude an attitude and a capability that is desired. Naturally, the playing field grows a bit more flat and even after university when both siblings are adults, and constructs such as bedtimes are now of their own decision. But, for me, I am still often jealous of my older sister Elizabeth's impeccable style, a bit adapted now for motherhood, much different from my own, and her long history of owning and wearing beautiful Frye boots.

For most of my professional life, the Frye price range was just a bit elusive, at least, in the face of my nearly always looming and dominant rent check, and the desire to eat partly delicious and nutritious foods, sometimes. So, while I would always peruse the wares on the myriad online shoe warehouses, I never felt comfortable pulling that proverbial trigger and making a purchase. This fall, all may change; I feel ready for the plunge into a sturdy and luxurious boot, one that need not be replaced after one or two seasons of heavy use. Now, the only problem that remains is selecting a pair.

(image taken from Zappos) 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mourning: A Plastic Mishap

For the devoted, or perhaps the bored and restless with the wonderful luxury of excessive leisure time, this photograph may be familiar from here, an excerpt of life captured nearly a year ago. Aside from my typically omnipresent bodacious bangles, beautifully displayed, this image encapsulates, and for now, enshrines, in memorium, my large plastic ivory cube ring. Deviating from my traditional search for costume jewelry from another era, I found this piece at a popular contemporary boutique in Ithaca, near the campus. Ivory is an elegant and versatile color, I admired the geometry of the piece, and it evoked some of my favorite accessory aesthetics, bakelite, the first manufactured plastic ever. Since discovering this inexpensive ring nearly five years ago, I have worn it almost everyday. 

On a related tangent, my relationship with the inefficient and lazy dryer in the washing unit on my apartment floor is tumultuous and passionate, one of hate and disappointment and frustration. For one quarter, I receive seven minutes only of lukewarm tumble drying, and, quite frequently, my quarter is greedily devoured without the fickle machine fulfilling its end of this mostly unavoidable transaction. Sometimes, if one pleads sufficiently well, by banging at the top of the creature with a clenched and angry fist, the quarter will dislodge from this cruel trap, potentially a clever ruse by my conniving landlord, and fall into place.

Earlier today, amidst tackling months of laundry, as my arsenal of quarters had risen in ranks and was prepared to be depleted, I deposited my precious coin into the mouth and it was swallowed, without the satisfying cling into its rightful spot. Eyes narrowing, my hands splayed across the beast, burst forth like a hot spew of hot neurotransmitters. I feel a quick pinch and hear a snap, and then look to the ground: my ring is in three pieces, broken. I am now doubly defeated. 

It is strange, the attachment and bond we develop for certain inanimate and invaluable material items; at first, I had that phantom limb sensation of soldiers and victims of horrific natural tragedies. Now, I merely feel naked, left exposed and vulnerable. Thankfully, the filmmaker is expertly adroit with superglue, and intends to, at the least, make a valiant attempt for a repair. If he fails, well, perhaps this is some symbol of greater cosmic significance that I am due for some change in my life. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lusting for the Filmmaker: Classic Chinos

The filmmaker is morally and pragmatically opposed to chinos; while I will accept his claims that they are impractical, as often the vertically-cut pockets are not conducive for storing anything, especially change, numerous drawing implements, and a moleskin, I am more skeptical to his vehemence that chinos are uncomfortable. They are the fabric of traditional preppy leisure, though, perhaps, to each his own. While his paint-splattered cut-off corduroy shorts, basic summer garb, are certainly charming and endearing, an occasional, or even rare, appearance of khaki or navy or charcoal slacks would be welcome. This casual look with just the right proportion of primary color accenting is elegant while still maintaining that masculine, boyish flippancy. I would never hope to negatively influence his style and general artist aura, but, a girl, with an unwavering adoration of men's wear design and structure and attitude, can certainly dream. I cannot complain too much, however, as he definitely has the cute sweater look down expertly, and sometimes even layers them. Still, though my intent is selfish, it seems for shame, to obscure some shapely legs from view in a looser cut.

(image taken from Coffee and the Newspaper)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lusting to be a Longhorn

For some time now, I have harbored a not completely inexplicable fascination with Texas: the second largest state in our vast, wild, glorious union, its expanse of geography and history and culture is iconic. I have not yet been, but, like many who have never met the breeze or basked in the sun or walked the paths or driven the roads or tasted the food and drink, I nonetheless feel a sense of familiarity with the place. A sort of imagined, fictional nostalgia, one built from a collective cultural consciousness of the state, an almost personified aura that is palpable and potent for even us strangers, foreigners, to this land, almost its own nation. 

A few months ago, I obsessively watched the entire series of Friday Night Lights; interest in specific character development and plot trajectories aside, I was enthralled with this sort of phantom connection I felt, for the town of Dillon and for the broader state. Where I grew up in Baltimore, lacrosse is god, football something you played in the off season to stay in shape, keep limber. The town did not close for Friday evening games. More than a handful of fans in the stadium, beyond the family members, was a successful crowd turnout. Personally, if I had been to two football games while a high school student, I would be surprised. Yet the notion of small-town football, never a direct visceral experience, is one I know; it is an American trope. The football coach, the clean-cut quarterback, the disgruntled and aggressive defensiveback, the zealous and fanatic parents, all archetypes that those who have lived here in this country long enough recognize, can feel empathy for, can find bemusement in satirizing.

On the Fourth of July, while gorging and guzzling with friends, we all shared a pack of Texan-themed temporary tattoos and applied them each other, selecting bizarre body locations for the stereotypical symbols. I chose the longhorn and, aptly, placed it on my left shoulder blade. When I spied this white leather snake hide clutch, embellished with a longhorn skull, I immediately wished it was a piece I could carry with me every day, no matter the occasion or the purpose.  My clutch collection has not had a new addition in quite some time; the cross-cultural exchange with my vintage patent leather and wicker bags could be interesting.

(image taken from Bag Poor)    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Outfit for a Tuesday: Fierce Tiger

My rant on potential remedies to the suburban blues was in jest, a rather pathetic attempt at satire during a slow week, though, my penchant for what I associate with suburban style is mostly earnest. What started as a not completely ironic activity and aesthetic is now not exactly dominant in my wardrobe, but definitely gaining traction. This sort of silky, flowing tiger patterned tunic blouse from Michael Kors is the latest addition and a prime example. Within this billowy and comforting fabric, casually elegant, I can definitely envision myself at a local Whole Foods Market, fingering the avocados for ripeness. Yesterday, I paired it with thick cream slacks and, for some decadent suburban living overkill, black leather and silver medallion Michael Kors sandals. In different times, it would have been the ideal outfit to hit the town and attempt to pick up a dentist.

Since I am not quite prepared to throw in the towel and do want a sort of semblance of keeping it real, I wore my one of my favorite lucite bangles, entombing a crumpled piece of aluminum foil, and a bodacious hammered silver cuff. For an extra glint of sparkle, for even more light refraction, my chandelier lucite necklace.

Combatting Suburban Malaise, or, Three Years, or, White Denim

(image taken from Angel Fire)

Amidst the staggering, pulsating wave of heat, one that grips the body in its mandibles, chewing and gnawing until lathering in saliva-sweat, and a pile of projects baking on my cubicle desk from the sunbeams refracting through my large window, I neglected my three year anniversary with my company. And my three year anniversary living in a small suburban town on the outskirts of one of the greatest and most exciting cities in the world. Three years in the same apartment, which I mostly adore, the same short and frantic commute to my office. Three years occasionally frequenting the same hackneyed local bars, with select but occasionally admirable wine and cocktail options. Three years where live music is a rare and special occasion, and establishments that offer goat cheese are deluxe. This has also meant three years, again, on the outskirts and thus incredibly close to a beautiful and vibrant city, but, sometimes, those are the longest twenty-five miles in the world.

For young and intelligent and spirited young women, suburban malaise is a prevalent condition, one with myriad manifestations and an even vaster array of potential solutions, with, naturally, varying degrees of efficacy. Conflicted with my own malaise, at this realization of time spent between manicured lawns and franchise-laden strip shopping centers, my creativity has been sufficiently suffocated and stunted. So, in cataloguing some of the appropriate remedies, I have turned to revered and beloved icons, fictional and fantastically real, for inspiration. 

Though Primrose Hill is decidedly not suburban, and is in fact an epicenter of wealth and culture, Sylvia Plath cannot shed her status as queen of feminine frustration, of an insatiable and unfulfilling quest for intellectual challenge. For a mutually respected love. While I can totally get aboard writing notebook after notebook of confessional poetry, unleashing my aggression on the characters of my life in verse, sticking my head in an oven seems a bit extreme. The filmmaker is far from a philandering liar, so, I think I can avoid this measure.

(image taken from All Movie Photo)

April Wheeler of Revolutionary Road plotted an expatriate escape to Paris, a whimsical and romantic device I can support and would follow, awkward neighbor-sex, self-performed abortion, and death aside. Her husband also not completely faithful, to his wife, and to their ultimate fantasy of fleeing the country.

(image taken from Film)

Seduction by the powers and the cunning of my own inexplicable sorcery, in the vein of the older and sultry temptresses of The Witches of Eastwick, would probably be optimal, especially as there are a plethora of ridiculous folks in my town that could benefit from the surprise. Alas, summoning threatening thunderstorms and efficacious effigies does not seem to be happening with my hands and my concentration alone. Hopefully, though, in a few years, and after a failed marriage, my competencies in flirtation and casual liaisons will not be stifled by a lackluster environment, if I am still wallowing here among the picket fences and elementary schools.

(image taken from Helen Glory)

If I had the financial resources, for the appropriate wardrobe and the appropriate accoutrements, like the crucial and expensive horse, I could take up riding, like the contemporary poster-girl for suburban ennui, Betty Francis, formerly Betty Draper. On trend, while Mrs. Don Draper, she tolerated, and also retaliated against, a fair amount of rousting philandering that seems to be associated with advertising demigod status. Banal, but effective, her horseback riding obsession alleviates some of the frustration that comes with both sexual and intellectual dissatisfaction. A bit of a healthier alternative to the oven solution.

(image taken from Book Tryst) 

(image taken from Lucindaville)

Arguably the most feasible, least destructive, and rationale approach to battling suburban doldrums is to dive into a collection of poetry or a thick, stream of consciousness novel and spend the lazy, quiet days reading. I do indulge, though, unfortunately, not as often as I would like given my professional fettering to my computer.

  (image taken from Real Simple)

For now, without a cheating husband or a literary giant to imbue me with marvelous magic, I have embraced a sort of if-you-cannot-beat-them, join them approach, basically, by dressing like a young suburban mother, only without the breast milk and vomit stains, and without the over-sized pastel pink diaper bag. My latest indulgence has been a pair of white cigarette-leg skinny jeans. Given my earlier innocently inappropriate allusion to young mothers and stained clothing, perhaps my associating them with white is a tad misrepresentative. But, it is my suburban party, and I can lie to myself if I want to.

I ordered the jeans from the Gap, falling victim to their latest online sale. They have not yet arrived, but, when they do, I have the perfect flowing tunic and golden sandals to accompany them, each items plucked from the sartorial stylings of my own mother. The prospects are thrilling.   

Monday, July 23, 2012

Outfit for a Thursday: Midnight Blue... or Midnight Black?

This dilemma of mine is, indeed, a wardrobe trope: is that a very dark navy, almost midnight blue, or is it just black? With certain articles of clothing, it is nearly impossible to discern, at the store, even if surrounded by a collection of other items in the same ambiguous shade, at home under the kitchen light, in the office under an interrogating fluorescent light. When I bought this dress a few weeks ago before heading to Barcelona, for the second time in recent memory, and was certain the stripes were navy and white. Like so many other items in my closet, the dress is a versatile basic, and with the navy and white combination, a typical preppy and nautical-inspired piece, or so I thought.

The first few times I wore this dress, I was still convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was navy. My styling, however, each time was such that it made no difference whether that second neutral, now in question, was a deep navy or a bluish black, like squid ink. First, attending a colleague and friend's birthday party cook-out, I cinched the waist slightly with a bright, true pink suede sash, coupled the look with copious and opulent rhinestone accessories and a pair of silver and turquoise sandals. The second, in Barcelona, I paired it with red and gold. Each time, the color combinations could have just partnered perfectly with a black stripe.

On Thursday morning, during my indulgent and long warm-cold shower, I remembered this orange and navy and gold paisley cardigan that has been sitting quietly in my closet; I decided, perfect, easy, ideal for this striped navy dress. Suddenly, to my dismay, the colors before me were becoming slippery, intangible, impossible to define: black or navy? Physical laws of light were being questioned before my eyes, as what had been navy now seemed something a bit off, darker, colder, more cruel. Pushing my histrionics aside, I decided to just push forward and ameliorate the situation with a different cardigan; the dress is black, was my verdict.

I replaced the paisley number with this black alternative; still, though, the color transience persisted, a sort of refusal to fall neatly within one category or the other. This cardigan also looked, simply, wrong. By this point, however, I was thoroughly confused and had not yet imbibed a sufficient amount of caffeine to make a quick, intelligent, and prudent judgment. Since I put this on second, it just stayed on.

Later that evening, while basking in the incriminating lights of the wardrobe room at my local TJ Maxx, I decided that my initial assessment was in fact correct. The dress is blue. Why, two outfits and a number of weeks later, I convinced myself that I had just at that moment become enlightened, I am unsure. I will plea temporary insanity, or, more aptly, oscillating insanity. It comes in waves.

Delicate crystalline patterns, merging simultaneous construction and destruction, have always fascinated me. With a blend of blues overlaid on the black, perhaps pairing this with my navy dress was not so egregious. 

Unfortunately, large and loud costume jewelry often does very little to distract and detract from one's incompetencies in discerning color.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sartorial Lusting: Milly Marvels

Integrating Americana and traditional tea party aesthetics always seems to work flawlessly, for me, for exciting my sartorial neurons, poised and anxious, waiting for the calculated click of an online purchase and the dreaded anticipation of the always too long shipping period. Red, white, and blue surely evokes a deep sense of patriotism, but also a sense of ideal chromatic balance. I spent a good portion of my morning iced coffee perusing the sale wares on Piperlime, a bit flooded with the sheer volume of skirts and dresses, maxi and pencil and shift and tunic, numb, ignoring the various requests of productivity on my time. These two Milly dresses are magnificent, simple and yet engaging in their geometry, and are also, naturally, wonderfully beyond my current price range. If I had more croquet and cocktail parties on my impending social calendar, then, perhaps, I could justify.

(images taken from Piperlime)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Outfit for a Thursday: Pretty Woman

This brown and white polka dot dress is one that has sat neglected in my closet, admittedly completely forgotten as it was obscured from view, clamped between an array of other lighthearted summer dresses and a bevy of heavier winter knits and various cocktail attire. Immediately as I stepped from the elevator into my office, our office manager, the ever cheerful and garrulous, a sort of cry-on-her-shoulder matriarch figure, commented that my look resembled that beautiful silk brown and cream dress from the infamous polo scene in Pretty Woman, despite my lack of an over-sized hat. Despite the comparison to a fictional and wildly unrealistic prostitute, needless to say, I was flattered. 

Small polka dots arranged in a sort of concentric circle pattern almost has a hallucinogenic effect; when the eye stares too long, and loses focus, there is almost a three-dimensionality. An alternative, more nuanced take on the typical and traditional uniform polka dot, this pattern is familiar but also interesting and alluring. For me, it is also a welcome respite from my predominantly black and, more recently, navy wardrobe.

Dresses that come prepared and stocked with their own matching belts can be quite deceptive; invariably, the belts are, if not woebegone, at least a bit lackluster in the durable quality department. Also, a pattern-matching belt can scream uninspired suburban mother, whose proverbial children may or may not play on a soccer team, or uninspired suburban young professional, who lacks time and energy to harness a creative eye. This is particularly true with very classically cut, tailored shift dress. Swapping out the free belt with another one already present in my belt collection is my foremost strategy for avoiding that straight from a catalogue or I stole this off a mannequin look.

I have owned this vintage red fabric belt for years; it is a wonderful and versatile piece because of the classic cherry red color that complements so many items, from brown and black and navy and white and camel neutrals, to turquoise and yellow and cobalt blue statement shades. Also, it is easily adjustable, with some maneuvering of the slack, so can shift from high on the waist to slung lower around the hips, depending on the needs of the outfit. Frankly, I had forgotten about this scarlet beauty as well, and am thankful it sort of fell from my closet as I rushed about; it is a great pairing with the brown and white.

To complete my potential polo match garb, actual normal workday outfit, I selected some plain pearl accessories.

Lazy Tuesday soundtrack: "Jeans and Wallet" Chet Faker (on repeat)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Design Lusting: Sting Ray Skin

My dear friend Diana and her beau, Joe, recently transplanted to the Mecca of the Midwest, Chicago, to pursue new professional and social adventures north of the Mason-Dixon. Abandoning the financial stagnancy of non-profit life, Diana has jumped aboard a new and exciting start-up venture, Furnishly, as their social media prima donna, happily and frantically building their digital presence on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Though we have not lived in proximity to one another in years, before university to be precise, we have maintained a close friendship over the years for a variety of reasons, though, not insignificant has been our constant online dialogue, as we were each confined in our respective dull cubicles, griping about the bottom rungs of the corporate world. 

This dynamic is sure to change, however, as Diana is now elated with the prospects and the energy surrounding her new, so far, dream job. Furnishly is a relatively simple but nonetheless elegant and brilliant concept: a collation of vintage and slightly used second-hand furniture in cities across the country. So, users can select a location and peruse the offerings and prices in that area. Currently, actual transactions can be made through the site only in Chicago, with plans to expand I am sure; other cities, users must contact the vendor directly. With this service, the pain and fear and frustration that can almost assuredly surround gleaning through Craigslist or Upcycle posts is immediately alleviated. 

To rub some proverbial salt into the aching and bleeding wound that is my jealousy of her zeal for her new daily concerns, Diana shared with me the this post: a sting ray covered bureau. Sting ray is remarkably similar to snakeskin in terms of texture and sheen, though, the mottled pattern and the colors are often not so intuitively and immediately recognized. Instantaneously, I salivated with desire, a near Pavlovian response that most luxurious objects of leather and fur elicit, particularly those of the vintage furniture variety. It is the epitome of decadence in home decor, and I abhor whomever has the means to purchase it. As would be expected, the price for this piece is exorbitant. Naturally, it would look stunning in my bedroom, or, perhaps, would make my bedroom look stunning, but seems a bit of an impractical move at the moment, given I need, desperately, a new laptop and a tune up for my creaking and wheezing Honda. Sigh. The pains of delicate and fine aesthetics are really too much sometimes.

(images taken from Furnishly)   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Outfit for a Wednesday: Linen and a Lone Bird

I have owned this white linen skirt, trimmed very modestly and neatly in a navy ribbon along the waist and the hem, for years, since I worked in retail at Ann Taylor Loft. Although it is a fabulous classic, it is one that I do not wear frequently throughout the season, so, has maintained its integrity in my wardrobe through my years at university and my first forays into the corporate world, aside from a few wrinkles, to be expected with linen and easily ameliorated with my trusted but despised iron. While I am certain I would not want to revert back to retail life, there are definitely aspects of that realm I miss dearly. I worked on my feet, walked, moved, flew about the floor of the store in a frenzy or in slow assured struts. I met new people constantly, a barrage of strangers each day, some wonderful and pleasant, others horrid, others ludicrously amusing. And, of course, I offered sartorial recommendations, gained satisfaction from the simple and anticipated transaction of purchasing of goods, the exchange of wares for money. 

Apparently, I adhere to the axiom that one cannot have too many striped tee shirts in their closet; ever. By the laws and forces of physics, which ultimately inform chemical interactions and the foundations of biologic life, it is impossible. This thinly striped navy and white number was discovered on a sale rack in the men's section of an Urban Outfitters store, a place I generally abhor and avoid, where I sought refuge from the choking swamp air of New Orleans. I had some time to fritter away before meeting up with an old friend of the filmmaker, so, I meandered from air conditioned business to air conditioned business until it was an appropriate hour to begin drinking hurricanes. In hindsight, New Orleans is the type of city where there is really never an inappropriate hour to have a drink, and is also a city where it is accepted and expected that everyone will be dripping with sweat. The width of the stripe and the nonchalant high crew neck of this tee shirt is a more nuanced take on some of my other options. It is also wonderfully soft and comfortable.

A rhinestone bird, perhaps a widow bird or perhaps a young male bird of paradise, caught in mid-flight, was a gift to me from an older great aunt, or perhaps great cousin, or maybe even family acquaintance, who I had the fortune to meet only a handful of times. At a funeral when I was still in high school, transitioning from young girl to woman, she and other distant, foreign relatives admired my love and my eye for costume jewelry. She later sent me a small treasure box of various pieces of jewelry that she had abandoned wearing long ago, but had not yet discarded and forgotten. I had nearly forgotten about this brooch, as I typically do not wear them, unless pairing them with a blazer or thicker jacket. Lately, I have been stringing my brooches through either a long strand of pearls or various chains, to wear as pendants, but until yesterday it had never occurred to me to do the same with this bejeweled beauty. Unfortunately, the bird is a bit heavy and so, as a pendant, tended to flip around and display its backside. Luckily, that is a minor detail and a quick fix.

Migrating birds have been ubiquitous, quite a trend; when tessellating in that quintessential Escher fashion, they can almost resemble a chevron pattern. These patterns resemble these large moving flocks, paragons of organizational behavior, and yet, in many species, the bird is an exemplar of solitude.This necklace is a tribute to the lone bird. 

Vintage sunglasses frames always seem like an amazing idea, and in theory indeed they are, though in practice, there is generally something amiss that makes them less than ideal. Literal loose screws make the frames slide down the slope of the nose, or they are ever so slightly askew, giving forth a perpetually tilted and perplexed look to the beholder. These 1960s yellow and clear plastic feline styled frames were a discovery at a small antiques market in the middle of rural Pennsylvania; admittedly, they are a bit loose for my liking, but for under 10$, I cannot complain. Yellow and green and orange are my favorite colors for accessories, as the tend to look strange with my complexion and so are mostly unsuitable fabric color choices. 

These are without a doubt my current favorite pair of shoes; I completely and fully comprehend the frivolity and inane girlishness spewing forth from that statement. My fate as the stereotypical and well-documented Anthropologie girl   is sealed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Outfit for a Monday: Patriotism Redux

Yesterday, the monstrous tidal heat wave subsiding ever so slightly, I decided to continue to channel my patriotic fervor and apparent subconscious desire to be a 1950s Candy Striper. Apparently, according to my quick Wikipedia search to confirm capitalization, these cheeky civic-minded hospital volunteers originated in East Orange in the Garden State, my own proverbial backyard. To continue this tangent, backyards in East Orange now are most likely replete with rusted car frames and dilapidated trampolines and a mosaic of plastic Gatorade bottles. Times have changed. 

Any chromatic combination of red, white, and blue, coupled with a striped pattern, is sure to evoke the American flag, at least on this side of the Atlantic, and perhaps the French flag on the other. This empirical fact bothers me little, obviously. I purchased this Ralph Lauren blouse earlier in the spring and adore its girl-like, preppy charm. Naturally, as so many Ralph Lauren pieces do, it pairs incredibly well with a deep navy and a pair of classic pearls. So, in the spirit of a belated Independence Day enthusiasm and a premature Bastille Day zeitgeist, let freedom ring, and long live liberty, brotherhood, and equality. 

Straw Hats in the Summer, and My Penchant for Excess

A few weeks ago, I spent at least twenty minutes trying on large, though still appropriately sized, straw hats in some crevice in Century 21. Apparently, the circumference of my skull is massive, though, thankfully, this is not immediately noticeable.  It does mean, however, that most of these wildly coveted summer straw hats look utterly absurd atop my melon. Peering into the mirror, my head a mammoth, I was discouraged, and decided to not throw away my money. This bodacious brim on a bodacious Brigitte Bardot made me laugh hysterically yesterday evening, and has caused some stirring of rather ambiguous feelings. I am now no longer sure if my original discouragement and defeat is sustained, or if I am compelled to search for a larger and more histrionic straw hat variety. If only I wear a blonde and were more easily forgiven for my actions, this decision would be so much simpler.

(image taken from The Washington Post)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny: Happy Birthday

(image taken from Pop Neuf)

(image taken from Women Profile)

(image taken from About)

Last week, the iconic bikini celebrated a great sixty-five years young. As temperatures skyrocketed to the triple digits at dizzying velocities and as the former colonial haven for Puritanical prudism celebrated its own birthday in a patriotic and beer-filled frenzy, the timing of it all seemed cosmically convenient. Tuesday afternoon was spent lounging and lazing on the hot sands of a local beach, alas, sporting a sleek one-piece suit. My recent travel adventures have been fabulous, but equally treacherous to my girlish waistline. Before heading to the shore with Rebecca, I stared down my own plain and chic black bikini, eyes brimming with both disdain and longing. Ultimately, I knew I would not be completely comfortable in it, though, arguably, would have looked fine.  It certainly goes without saying that the bikini has both aided and confounded woman's continued long journey to social, professional, cultural, sexual, and biological equivalency, a term perhaps more nuanced and accurate than equal; from this, combined with the inherent tantalizing anatomic allure the look elicits, a dichotomy of innocence and seduction, naivety and knowledge, the bikini will forever be a creature of marvel and intrigue. 

During the past week or so, I have been working on a collection of short stories by Italo Calvino; one, entitled "Adventures of a Bather," was deliciously apt. A plump, young Italian woman, proud of her body and accustomed to modestly flaunting her assets to gain the favor, attention, and affection of others, naturally to her own advantage, wears a new bikini to the beach. Pleased to showcase her legs, stomach, breasts, and pleased to move fluidly and languidly through the water, a porpoise performing and on display. To her dismay and to the chagrin of the reader, she realizes that she has somehow lost the bottoms to her new beloved bikini, a dilemma that many of us can surely appreciate. Unsure of who to trust, man and woman, boy and girl, she is vulnerable and trapped, paddling carefully far out beyond the surf.  She is desperate, a bit ashamed, but still proud, refusing to approach just anyone swimming or fishing or boating in proximity with the conflict that confronts her. It grows darker and cold, and when she nearly surrenders, an unlikely and jovial pair come to her rescue. The story is fundamental and mundane, and supremely heroic and amusing.

Last night, the filmmaker and I indulged in a long discussion about the nature of the influence the fashion institution and industry has on other creative outputs, music, film, visual art, and poetry and literature, specifically, how fashion as art seems to exist in a bit of its own vacuum and with a sort of semi-permeable membrane encasing it from interacting with and fusing with other arts. In short, we agreed that while individual specific cohesive collections very rarely, if ever, seem to serve as the sole inspiration for a film or music composition, or short story, for a variety of reasons, fashion through an anthropological and cultural lens is nearly inextricable from all other works of art. Especially when certain articles of clothing or an accessory, such as a leather jacket or a bikini, gain such collective cultural notoriety and impetus, the creative pursuits they subsequently subtly inspire are innumerable.  

Perhaps, if I adopt some of that dreaded but pragmatic Puritan work ethic and dedication and loyalty to ascetic measures, I will be able to slink casually into my own itsy bitsy suit in a few weeks. Luckily, it will most likely still be a bit tight about the bottom, and I will hopefully not be subject to any mortifying predicaments.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Marché aux Puce St. Ouen

Early on a Saturday morning in Paris in the spring, the air chilled, feeling tangible and crystalline when swallowed too fully, too generously, I took the metro to the north boundary of the city to explore the renowned and old Marché aux Puce St. Ouen. The market vendors are arranged labyrinthine in a series of corridors, cascading across the landscape, seemingly frenetic primary, secondary, and tertiary organization to the booths and stores built into old building escarpments and alleyways, reminiscent of the meticulous structures and hierarchy of our own archival genetic bodies. In the various shops, jewelry, art, furniture, weaponry and ancient armors, pottery, china, statues, anything and everything abound. A complete amalgamation of the epitome of trash and of treasure. 

At first, I attempted to tackle the task before me in a rational and methodical approach, walking down each aisle, taking note of which had been explored and which still lay ahead, fresh and wild and new. Within moments, this strategy was abandoned; I wandered and meandered, following the acute visual and tactile and olfactory stimuli, rich and wonderful. Since I was a young girl, art deco furniture design has enthralled and captivated me; here, among booths bursting with old oil paintings and waterfalls of costume beads and beheaded baby dolls, I saw the most opulent and beautiful pieces of furniture in my entire life. Unsurprisingly, the samples of Scandinavian furniture were equally splendid, and expensive. Perfect lines and streamlined structures. Never before has perusing antiques incited such passionate lust for a huge home in need of decorating and a huge bank account in need of depleting. 

In one unique booth, artifacts that appeared plucked from the plains of African wilderness; large cream eggs from ostrich, crooked antlers contorted into chandeliers, furs and hides treated and thrown across tables and chairs. In another, I was immediately amidst a samurai army, silent and obedient and opulently protected by intricate and faceted layers, swords still erect and sharp, ready to slice their air and break the skin to find blood. Unfortunately, many of the proprietors frown upon their wares being obviously and copiously photographed; I have never been skilled in the covert camera work, and generally do not have the desire. So, I walked and imbibed with eyes, ears, mouth, nose, without the filter of a device. Photographs cannot capture the true essence and history of these markets, anyway; they must be experienced. I highly recommend the journey to anyone stopping over in Paris for more than a few days.


These antique large industrial film lights, obviously, reminded me of the filmmaker, far and away on another continent. There is something so austere and proper in their posture that I admire. 

In addition to paragons of impeccable and meticulous furniture design, there were countless shops featuring absolutely luxurious and high-end designer vintage costume jewelry, pieces that had been showcased in runway collections and exhibited in fashion editorials decades earlier. Bodacious golden breastplates, long chains, thick cuffs. Again, I was limited both my meager burgeoning young professional funds, as well as my own physical prowess and the limited volume capacity in my suitcase, so, some self-restraint had to be practiced. In the end, I left with a beautiful cream bakelite bangle and a pair of perfectly circular vintage 1960s Nina Ricci sunglasses. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate an appropriate locale for breakfast or brunch of any type, brunch, alas, being a somewhat foreign meal to most in Europe, but the trip was nonetheless a success. Resplendent with vibrant colors and colorful characters, again, these markets deserve a few hours of exploration for anyone interested in antiques, treasures, and odds and ends who finds their way to Paris.