Friday, November 14, 2014

Wine Kitten Heels and a Whine

I, and my feet, are beyond grateful that the sartorial sphere is pseudo-psychotically Francophilic-obsessed, and therefore, is ready and willing to embrace and propagate any trend adopted by Emmanuelle Alt. My sincere thanks, Madame Alt, for reminding the masses, or in some cases convincing the masses, of the virtues of kitten heel. This pair, a delightful and robust burgundy suede, are a recent favorite of mine, and have already elevated a few uninspired and lazy denim-sweater outfit combinations in the office. A bit run down as of late, exhausted from client demands and internal chaos, it is a relief to have a reliably elegant and comfortable pair of shoes to kick it in. 

The week has been long; my brain, near collapse. Tonight, some actual wine, though unlikely a Burgundy, to assuage the soft wear of the days.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Emerald Envy

I often wish I had both the body type and the lifestyle to warrant skipping about the town in silk pajama pants, each and every day. A loose and soft flow. This particular pair reminds me of a craggy geode, smashed, revealing that slick slice of beautiful stone within, plates of brilliant color stacked. Miniature tectonics.

(image taken from Little Nudges)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall Fashion Lusting: Pass the Cream

After a delightfully mild summer, the warmth somehow pleasant and tamed, so uncharacteristic of the typical unwieldy and oppressive New York heat, autumn has descended. Sartorial signals have flashed: I have already worn tights a few times and a few of blazers have left the dark confines of my cramped closet. This season, the thought of wrapping my body in a thick cream sweater and donning tight black socks, perhaps with some penny loafers or my favorite leopard booties or a classic black flat, sounds comforting. Elevated simplicity, perhaps some soft cashmere. For a full fall fantasy, I would love to find an infinity pool, isolated mysteriously in a desert landscape, remote and rustic and pristine.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cream on Cream

At the beginning of the summer, I journeyed up to Montreal for the annual jazz festival; it was my first time in the bucolic yet metropolitan city and I was seduced by the warmth of the people, the energy, the delicious food. Wandering around on foot, I also discovered a few great shopping spots, my favorite of which was a rockabilly-roaring and taxidermy-touting vintage corner where I scored these pearl beading earrings. An explosion of strands, dangling and flailing like wild opalescent tentacles, they are that ideal synthesis of classic glamor and bizarre funk. They shout from my lobes, a contained shout. The adorable shop girl, mirroring the vibe of the joint in her 50s-inspired pin-up look, was delighted that I purchased these, a favorite of hers in the store. Since returning home from my long weekend of music and meandering in Montreal, I have worn these earrings regularly; most recently, I paired them with a striped cream and metallic skirt.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Outfit for a Wednesday: Dots and Dots and Dots

I have never bought a mix-and-matched outfit, head to toe, straight off the display mannequin of a store, and I can say with very, very near certainty that I never will; a firm background in both science and early James Bond films have taught that it is risky to firmly commit to "never." Although I am an independent shopper and enjoy constructing my own head to toe looks, without the aid of a sales associate, a brand look book, or style editorials of the latest seasonal trends hot from the catwalk, I still often use some type of theme, even a very loose one, to unify my look. This could be purely mood-based, aesthetic-based, memory association-based, anything. Yesterday morning, I extracted this cream and polka dot patterned vintage Oscar de la Renta skirt from the cavern that is my closet; it has not been worn in many, many months and was the ideal alternative to my recent denim rut. 

The nuance of the classic polka dot pattern of this piece, stripes varying in width, oscillating between black and yellow, the sultry just below the knee length perfect for a tall woman, and the movement of the pleats have always attracted me. Playing with the polka dots and further accenting the subtle black in the pattern, I paired the skirt with a black top embellished with three strands of muddled gold medallion dots along the neck. Pushing the trope even more, I selected this lucite bangle encasing raised dots of gold, like bits of metallic dew. The circular pattern repeats, but the texture and tone vary, offering, to me, greater interest than a precisely complementing set of pieces. Finally, to polish off this polka dot parade, I wore a pair of black and gold earrings, a mostly recent acquisition and wonderfully practical for my wardrobe resplendent with gold and black pieces. Rather than the smooth, clean geometric lines of the perfect circles, these earrings offer a rugged, organic kind of mimicry to the dot, as though they were chiseled straight from some stone, or perhaps grown in a field, like a crop of cabbage.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bobbing for a Change

To say that my hairstyle is a bit exhausted and could seriously benefit from a refresh is quite the understatement, like saying Oprah has done alright in the entertainment industry, or Dean Martin enjoyed his drink. Over the past few years, too many to definitively anchor with a hard number without feeling some deluge of lame shame, all of my styles have been variations on a theme: long layers with a usually mostly blunt bang, somewhere along the spectrum of recently meticulously trimmed and lazily grown. Autumn is upon us, a bit more aggressively than in recent years; a change would be welcome. I am considering a shaggy long bob, about shoulder length, maintaining a thicker bang for some extra shape and texture, as well as an effective defense against total snooze look those days when I am too tired to primp. Admittedly, those days are frequent and not far between. While the transition from my current long locks to a longer, choppy bob is not incredibly drastic, it will be a marked change, a beautiful and needed new perspective.

(image taken from Cute Long Haircuts)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Orioles versus Yankees

A few years ago, I went on a date to a baseball game at Yankees Stadium. Normally, my sartorial selections are driven by my personal mood and style, with occasion and concern for the perception of others taking secondary influence. Desire to match a team mascot or team or university colors nearly never factors into the equation. For this particular date, my first time at Yankees Stadium and my first live baseball game in a number of years, coupled with the fact that my male prospect was a vehement Yankees fan and general true-blood New Yorker, born and raised, I decided to play into the team spirit and fan fervor with a navy and white striped dress and a navy-speckled fox hunt-patterned silk scarf. When I arrived at the stadium, immediately I was happy and relieved I had discarded my typical and simple black dress outfit. Everyone, and I mean every single person, was in a navy and white outfit, most involving Derek Jeter or Ichiro Suzuki jerseys and the classic navy ball cap. Flagrantly standing out amongst a large crowd is usually preferable, but with fans as loyal and passionate as those Yankees fans, standing out in a fashionable alternative to team merchandise seemed best. My budding romance with my date soon wilted, but, a respect for the team and their fervent followers took strong root.

Yesterday, I joined one of my best friends for an afternoon game against the White Sox, and again, opted for a navy and white striped dress. With the cooler weather, I was able to don one with a thicker, rugby-cotton fabric comfortably. Once again, I was not a pariah in the stands. Although lately my brush with baseball has involved New York teams, I was born and raised in Baltimore and, mostly due to jokes and taunts from my mother, cannot forget my heritage in the Orioles nesting grounds. Of note, the Orioles are long and true rivals of the esteemed evil empire. Growing up, I played lacrosse, and while I loved journeying to Camden Yards, sitting in that iconic ball park, shelling peanuts and sipping soda, I was mostly disinterested by the play. Now, while I still prefer more aggressive and fast-paced athletics, I at least have an appreciation for the work being done on the diamond. As a subconscious tribute to my birth place, I wore bright orange earrings to accent the navy and white palette of my dress. A find from my vacation in Paris, these orange earrings, like sleek creamsicle dinner plates, are ideal for a flourish in the summer, but are worn selectively. With so much black in my wardrobe, I am always a bit weary of appearing to be celebrating Halloween a bit early; however, navy and orange is a favorite color combination, balanced and faceted, so perhaps love for both the Yankees and Orioles can exist.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cereal Girl

Behind a towering behemoth Cornflakes box, the bargain size, almost awesome, buttressed by large plastic gallons of milk, I bowed over a bowl, proverbial prostration, then another, usually another, eating vigorously and ceremoniously. Each movement, from the pouring of those golden flakes of corn and the flow of sweet cold milk into the bowl, to the lifting of my spoon, bowl to lips, was devout, performed with the utmost respect and admiration to, in my dogma, one of the greater of the breakfast deities. Growing up, nearly everyday my parents laughed and teased me about my cereal box fort. The temple, or cathedral, trope was conceived later, as I wrote my college admissions essay. The breakfast-as-ritual extended metaphor was successful with the committee, further solidifying my love for the quintessential food. As I centered my exercise on the practices of consumption, the issue of packaging and branded was ignored, aside from the always remarkable sheer size of the family-size cereal boxes. Generally intrigued by anything retro, particularly design and aesthetics, lately I have noticed and adored the throw-back release packaging from various cereal brands, featuring the original iterations of some of American children's favorite breakfast idols.

Flipping through the July issue of Harper's Bazaar in the doctor's waiting room this morning, I idly stumbled on the incredible fall-winter handbag line from designer Anya Hindmarch, elegantly illuminating those very beloved retro cereal characters. Sophisticated and kitschy, this is honestly a perfect match. Unfortunately, I do not have the excessive disposable income to make owning a novelty luxury handbag, even one as fabulous and well-tailored to my childhood as this one. Still, delighted to see this whimsical exuberance in some high-end design.


(image taken from Anya Hindmarch)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Put a Bow on it

Patent leather is quintessential summer. Since shifting jobs, to an environment with a more casual and lax, my various pumps have been seeing less sunlight, so these taupe and black bow slingbacks have been quiet in their box. Generally, simple flats and booties have been heavy in rotation, but I am working to combat a sartorial rut at the office. With low kitten heels, a sharp pointed toe, and a simple bow decoration, these are a timeless design and add a sophisticated edge to basic pieces. Bows, as patterns on blouses, adorning shoes or headbands, always make me reminisce about my brief stint at private school for my freshman year of high school. We each wore cobalt blue skirts and white polo shirts with the school logo on the chest; we were allowed to wear white sneakers or saddle shoes. Most of the girls wore large pearl necklaces and bright neon bows in their hair, anything to add about of flair to the uniform. To fit in, among the sea of uniform decorations, I also wore the pink and green bows in my high ponytail. Despite my precocious love for the Smiths, Depeche Mode, anything New Wave, British punk, I was in many ways a stereotypical adolescent girl, wanting to stand out without standing out, too much. For awhile, I revolted against the typical preppy look for a few years. Now, I relish experimenting with my style, harkening back to my awkward and not always pleasant year at private school, not fearing looking different, or looking similar. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Watermelon Whim

Entering the local corner pharmacy is always tricky; nearly always, I have a specific set of items, necessities, toiletries, but also nearly always I am tempted by the sweet, seductive siren calls ringing loud and pure from the cosmetics aisles. The inexpensive tubes of lipsticks, rows upon rows, like a choir, singing; bottles of captured color, nail varnish, each cheekily and brilliantly named, an array, singing. I succumbed, weak to the potent allure of these two watermelon shades, quintessential summer alchemized into a bit of chemical decoration. For future endeavors, I need to angle my body, equip myself with either proverbial or literal blinders, dash for my bit of toilet paper or box of toothpaste and run out, blind, ears shut. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall, Brains and Beauty

(image taken from GlamAmor) 

(image taken from Bright Wall Dark Room)

I was indoctrinated into the cult of early Hollywood obsession young, my mother thrusting films like Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve and A Patch of Blue onto me, opening my cultural world to a bygone era of studio productions, infinite glamor, timeless influential style, violently romantic personalities. Lauren Bacall, obviously, became among the cast of favorite actors once the addiction took its hold and began to manifest without the coaxing persuasion of my mother, her nonchalant attitude, purring voice, sharp wit, and utter sexiness too alluring to ignore. Her impact on film history is grand, playing the beauty-brains-brawn trifecta opposite Hollywood stalwarts like Humphrey Bogart, but her impact on fashion trends and fashion classics is also undeniable, serving as muse to artists like Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani, helping to shape their penchant for impeccably tailored lines. She was strong, and her immaculate suits mirrored that inner strength. With her death, we are reminded that those days, that old Hollywood institution, is remote, apart from our current reality, but a force whose palpitations we continue to feel and to love.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Loafer Lusting Encore

Back and forth to the daily grind at his office, my father wore a pair of leather loafers, selecting a color, black or dark brown or cordovan as appropriate for his suit, each pair nearly identical save that minute chromatic variation, each pair adorned with tassels. Each pair made a similar resounding echo as he trod across the wooden hallways of the house, passing from foyer to kitchen to staircase to bedroom, where something more comfortable replaced the stiff leather. He smelled of paperwork, of letters written and sent, of tobacco smoke. I found these shoes to be utter ridiculous, occasionally sticking my small socked feet into the large opening, shuffling around, shoes like skis, feigning importance, a trip and a tumble always imminent. If you had stopped me, and told me that in about twenty years, I would actually want a similar pair for myself, to wear as I went to and fro my own office, each day working, my brain my have imploded. If you had visited me later, say in high school, or even in university, and told me that I would one day be drawn to the same, or nearly the same, tasseled leather loafers my father wore, I would have laughed, argued vehemently that such masculine aesthetics were just not for me. One of my favorite pair of shoes in my closet are a warm caramel penny loafer, cherished and treasured shoes selected among a sea of stilettos while I was vacationing in Paris. I am endeavoring to be more frugal, but, if my will fails, I would like to add some tassels to the mix. This pair from Jeffrey Campbell is especially alluring. People change. This is a good thing.

(image taken from Polyvore)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Poised and Proper

Soft satin, soft leather gloves, a worn but immaculate skin of fabric, protecting, preserving, artfully paired with the dress. Radiating rhinestone brooch, adorning that space between soft chest and hard shoulder bone, a bit of gleam against the background shift. Pristine red lip. Soft curl. Everything about this look is perfection.

(image taken from Story Telling Hour)

Seasoned Strappy Sandals

In the mornings, the air is cool, the walk from apartment to subway station, subway station to office refreshing. Odd, almost eerie, for August in New York, but I welcome and appreciate the uncharacteristic temperatures and overall pleasant atmosphere we have been graced with. Most days, I opt for leather boots, rather than slip into a pair of slinky sandals, the weather more akin to those blissful transition days of early autumn. Though it is painful to admit, alas, truly cold temperatures that necessitate boots will be upon us, before we would like, so earlier this week, I pushed aside my boxes of booties and selected a pair of black strappy sandals from the back reaches of my bedroom closet. Passed down from my mother, who wore them once, at most twice, to me, these shoes have seen a bit of action in their day, but recently have mostly lain sallow. Towering at a mere two inches or so, the heel height is perfect for a long day of running to and fro; after the office and a family dinner with my sister and niece, they were still comfortable. The winding vector of black fabric is beautifully designed, but I think these beauties will have to sit and wait for another display, until I have time to treat myself to a pedicure.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hello Sailor!

Tuesday was apparently International Lipstick Day, a decidedly frivolous commemoration of commercial beauty products and a celebration that shares the calendar honor with International Tiger Day, notably more worthwhile as the aims appear to be raising awareness and protection funds for this beautiful species. I accidentally observed Lipstick Day, joined by countless other unknowing women surely, when I haphazardly slapped some red tint on my lips after work. Joining a friend at a fiction reading in the East Village, I wanted to add some color, some flare to my classic blue jeans and white tee shirt combination. Adding a layer of lipstick after a long day of grueling cubicle work is my default approach to attacking, to shedding the work blues, before hitting the town, even for a super casual event. Usually, by the end of the day, I feel a little disheveled, and a pigment-pop peps me up.

For my birthday this year, my sister Elizabeth surprised me with an incredible present: a tube of Hello Sailor lipstick from Lipstick Queen. As a belated and purposeful homage to International Lipstick Day, I cannot selflessly and shamelessly promote this product enough: the package design is cheeky and sleek, the lipstick endurance is admirable, and the versatility of the shade is incredible. The potent blue of the case and the pigment is a bit misleading; this is not a high school goth-pop shade, rather, the lipstick produces a soft, subtle sheen, accenting the natural pigments of the lips. In my case, the deep rose pink of my curved puckers is embellished; the look is glamorous, but utterly effortless. It is a wonderful ruse, pretending to the world that I naturally wake this way. At 25$ a tube, Hello Sailor sets the wallet back a bit more than my typical adored pharmacy brands, but is well worth the indulgence. 

(image taken from Fashion Monitor)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gold Chunky Heels

Subway grates, uneven pavement, spilled soda, discarded chicken bones, melted ice cream cones, bits of flotsam trash, blown from receptacles, resplendent with plastic refuse, lay in wait, traps, to soil shoes. Maneuvering through the city sidewalks, dodging in and out of these slick and sickly landmines can be tricky, requiring dexterity and resilience, especially if one is to maintain a quick urban pace. While I am certainly impressed, and sometimes both confused and bemused, at the women who can strut around in their stilettos, without toppling, victim to the wilds of the concrete jungle. Since moving here and relying on walking as one of my key modes of transportation, my penchant for any heels above an inch or two has dwindled, approached and nearly collided with that zero-tolerance asymptote. Occasionally, though, I find a pair of shoes with a steeper incline that still fit my standards for comfort and practicality, standards that are admittedly a bit vague and wavering at times, and standards that often cede to aesthetics, forever omnipotent and dominant. 

These brown and gold sandal-pump hybrids from Kelsi Dagger are a prime example of shoes that offer an attractive edgy vibe, but do not veer too far from the realm of comfort, thus do not incite fear for pinched toes, aching arches, or rolled ankles. Partly due to living a bipedal life, usually on the go, partly due to working in a more lackadaisical casual environment, throwing on the same few black flats is easy. To combat this lazy, automatic response, I have been digging into my closet for my wedges, my pumps, the pairs that integrate style and ease. To embellish the summery side of these dual purpose shoes, I coupled them with a white and yellow full floral dress, feigning as a skirt, with a light and almost sheer golden metallic short-sleeved sweater on top.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pink Stripes and Cocktail Ring

Stripes certainly run rampant in my wardrobe, though, predominantly in various typical neutral tones: cream, black, navy, white, gray. There is the occasional red stripe, unrelated to the beverage, amid the sea of classics, but, generally, that is about as saucy as it gets. As I grow older, and in some respects, my style choices become more refined, or restrained, depending on the perspective, I tend to rely and be attracted to those neutrals, those timeless creams, blacks, grays, with the occasional and more impactful infusion of sharp color. Diversity, variety, while maintaining a sense of an identifiable personal look, is something I have tried to hone; in addition, particularly working in a more reserved leaning industry, I also teeter between the cautious and the risky. Moderation is usually a challenge for me, but, a few years of dressing for the office has taught me the art of balance.

So, despite the penchant for my typical cream paired with black or navy stripes, earlier this summer, rather uncharacteristically, this pink, orange, black, and white pattern screamed for my attention. Orange was never a particular interest of mine; lately, though, between the brash branding of my office and it being my niece's absolute favorite, orange has pierced its way into my aesthetic subconscious. Typically, orange makes a splash as an accessory, often against an all white canvas. Paired with a lipstick pink, two brights vying for attention, the coupling could be overwhelming. With this dress, a cheap and cheerful sale find online, I found the chromatic optimism charming. For much of the long, dreadful winter, black clothing seemed like the only practical solution, the only palette to really mirror and absorb, and in a way, shield from the drudgery. This summer has been, thankfully, wonderfully and remarkably pleasant, warm and muggy as this climate dictates but not yet ungodly oppressive. Celebrating the sun with pink and orange is only appropriate.

To pair with my against the grain orange and pink stripes, I wore a large, bodacious pink cocktail ring, a find from my days scouring the consignment shops of northern New Jersey. Gilded peony petals devouring pale pink crystals; this ring is a pair of plucked flowers dipped in soft metal. Daring, but still delicate. I wear rings everyday, and like my stripes, lately, I am generally wearing the classics, which, in my jewelry box, are a vintage diamond engagement ring and a ruby ring both from my  maternal great-grandmother and an amethyst ring from my paternal grandmother. Big rings have always been my weakness, and while I do not wear them nearly as regularly as I have in the past, I still love them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Montreal Jazz Festival

Last week, I jaunted over the northern border, into Quebec, for the opening weekend of the International Jazz Festival in Montreal. My younger brother is about to move across the country, to Texas, for his first real job; we traveled together, our first trip as adult siblings. Air hot and heavy, a fierce but pleasant sun, in a city renowned for its abominable ice, snow, and sleet, its underground commercial fortresses designed to help citizens avoid the biting winds, the people were out and scattered like an army of foraging ants, bustling, energized by the heat.  After a much too hurried June, I easily fell in love with the hybrid city, a beautiful cross between North American familiarity, in a known climate and terrain, and French romanticism and languish. That European pace, nonchalant and dismissive, with the pretension stripped, a sort of lazy friendliness permeating. Setting up base in hip but understated Mile End, we discovered the ideal local brewery beer hole, some delicious food and coffee, and a ton of envy-inducing art deco furniture window shopping. Everywhere we strolled, street art murals appeared along the crevices of alleys, on large swaths of building, intricate and bold and beautiful, obviously commissioned or at least condoned by the city. Joined by throngs of locals and tourists alike, we crowded into neighborhood cafes to watch the top World Cup games. Barely breathing, Adam and I took anxious sips of beer on an outdoor patio for the Brazil-Chile shoot out; we crashed the area, already crowded, just sidled up and saw the big screen. Thankfully, the waiter forgave our trespassing and served us, rather than pushing us to move along the walk way. 

Along with an epic portion of poutine and the unique brews of Dieu Du Ciel, seeing Diana Krall perform live, the evening clear and bright, was a trip highlight. She played many songs from her latest tour, but also covered three of my absolute favorite musicians: Fats Waller, Tom Waits, and Neil Young. For her encore, she was joined by husband Elvis Costello and they performed a couple of songs from The Band. Classical cool.

It was my first time to Montreal, and the temperatures startled me a bit. Initially, I felt a bit ill prepared, but my suitcase of slowing maxi dresses and my trusted leather booties proved to be perfection, especially when garnished generously with various necklaces and large earrings. To battle with the setting sun at the outdoor music stages, I wore some of my favorite vintage sunglasses, a subdued cat-eye shape of blonde tortoise shell, snagged from a small outdoor market in east London. While enjoying tunes led by trumpeter Alexis Baro, I snapped an off-kilter portrait, adorned with some coral lipstick and some cascading turquoise beads, despite the waning oppressive heat. I love throwing on some simple pharmacy lipstick to add some flair, but sometimes, in practice, it becomes cumbersome, namely while trying to eat ice cream cones and sweating from cheap beer and the sun. The contrast between the sharp coral and the milky turquoise made the hassle mostly worthwhile. My black sleeveless maxi was plain and comfortable; the gold, turquoise, and coral accents sent it into a higher echelon of sleek.

I hope to return to this so close, but just far away enough city soon; next time, provided I am not in a group of Anglophiles, I can dust off my French.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Outfit for a Thursday: Silver Stacks

When I was young and first began wearing jewelry, I refused to don any gold metal; in my ignorance and general myopia, I associated gold with old, mature women, namely my mother, grandmother, and various great-aunts, and insisted on silver. My first pieces of jewelry that I wore fervently and religiously were a silver spoon ring, gifted to me by my mother, a relic from her own childhood in Cincinnati, and a long dream catcher necklace. The dream catcher, a cheap replica of Native American aesthetics that was popular in that moment, broke, likely while romping around and climbing like a monkey on my wooden playground. My spoon ring, which fascinated me, with its intricacies and its age, its history, its lineage, its relation to my mother as a little girl, someone foreign and amazing to me, thankfully garnered more respect and care. I was vigilant about its safety. It was the only item in my wardrobe, clothing or accessory, that really carried meaning and that I protected. Despite my reckless and boisterous tomboy proclivities, my various misadventures, I never lost it. I continue to wear it today; it is on my left-hand ring finger now, as I type.

Eventually, during my later school years, I came around to gold tones, reconciled my initial dismissal, and wore silver less and less. Now, gold metals prevail in my jewelry boxes, so I often overlook my first love, silver. Last week, I proverbially dusted off these two silver cuff bracelets, both from my adolescence, and layered them with a newer sparkling rhinestone piece. The turquoise cuff is another heritage piece from my mother, a trinket discovered on a trip to Greece in her early twenties. While this beautiful and delicate bracelet has shamefully sat sallow in recent times, I am unwilling to relinquish the piece to my mother, who occasionally asks about its whereabouts. Sneaky.

The white with black paint splatters tee shirt was a recent purchase from Uniqlo. After some wine and some World Cup unwinding with a colleague, we trekked over to peruse the affordable wares. Lately, I am not drawn to graphics on my basic tee shirts, they often seem juvenile and are a look that I have mostly evolved beyond. The MoMA-inspired designs of the current Uniqlo line offer a more refined and visually compelling alternative to some of the typical large, popular-image tees that are also floating around. For whatever reason, probably the intense 1990s aesthetic revival that is permeating fashion at the moment, those over-sized tees emblazoned with cartoon characters, like the Tasmanian Devil and Tweety Bird, have resurfaced. Still goofy, and since I am no longer in elementary school, I can easily abstain. This paint design is whimsical, but mature.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Birkenstock Bounty

Some of the most beautiful and most hilariously frustrating aspects of fashion and particular, au courant style trends is the revivalism, the cyclic come-back, the oscillation conversion from aesthetically displeasing and laughable to obviously inherently cool and chic. With technology and media platforms that allow for and encourage instantaneous reporting, that dispel that lag time between designer conception, runway presentation, and mass commercial replication and consumption, the sort of omnipresence of particular trends is all the more palpable. The past few seasons, the paragon of both omnipotence in the digital style editorial world and the eek-to-sleek metamorphosis has been the white Birkenstock sandal. They are everywhere, flaunted by fawning fashionistas on nearly every blog, on a meticulous and calculated clockwork schedule. The mighty and oft-capricious pendulum has swung; once a snickering style, now, one apparently to envy for and lust after. Naturally, as with so many trends these days, or at least so it seems, for the Birkenstock moment, we can thank the boldness and the cavalier attitude of the Olsen twins, about four years ago.

While I appreciate that there are not set, firm standards of attractiveness, of what can or should be in, and that any style or form or brand, even those previously laughed and scoffed at, can emerge from the flames as a brilliant sartorial-phoenix, what I find aggravating is the promotional portion. That style-makers across media seem to band together in this flagrantly contrived and predictable manner to peddle trends, while rational from a business-perspective, always incites a heavy sigh. Where is the creativity, the individuality? At the least, I would propose those in power at least stagger the slew of blind endorsements for the brand or the look. Rather than a behemoth barrage of bravado for the once mocked Birkenstock, the brand bragging could be interspersed with another all too common topic in the blog realm, the deliciousness of the not-so-novel avocado toast.

Certainly I am cranky and cynical, especially at the moment as my head pounds from the maddening pressure of florescent lights flickering in my office, but I think I am justified in ranting and in wanting a little variety, a little creativity in a purported creative field. 

(image taken from Birkenstock)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Swimsuit Scramble

Earlier this week, rather spontaneously and abruptly, it came to my attention that I no longer own any proper bathing suits. Towards the end of last season, upon realizing in a separate moment of lucidity that most of my swimsuit repertoire was dismally dated and dingy, I tossed them. Wearing them infrequently, my neutral-toned one-pieces had served me well for a number of years; they were classically cut and simultaneously chic and comfortable. One, in a deep chocolate brown, survives, in a drawer, along with my black bikini, for which I currently lack the appropriate abdominal muscles. Now, I find myself marching steadfast into June and into summer season, having already passed that optimum and narrow window of ideal swimsuit selection in the retail world. 

Being both busty and young, thus, generally, not wanting to look like a matronly retiree who is about to spend the rest of her life baking underneath a Florida sun in her floral suit with a built-in skirt, swimsuit shopping has always posed a unique challenge. When I was growing up, tall, strong build, the suit solution always came easily, since I swam competitively. My racing suit was perfect for the pool and bouncing into the crashing waves at the beach. A tomboy, all I cared was that it fit and I was covered; I wanted to be able to maneuver, glide like a porpoise. Now, I want fit, I want comfort, but I want to look sexy too and avoid that dowdy, post-menopause territory. Thankfully, recent trends have revived some retro flair: the one-piece again prevails, with a multitude of attractive cuts, colors, and patterns. Hopefully, my neglect and procrastination does not mean I missed out on all the good picks; it usually feels as though for seasonal items, like swimsuits and winter coats, locusts have descended and devoured anything worth having, leaving a barren field for the rest of us. This weekend, I will attempt to make some time for a swimsuit scavenge, fingers crossed that it is not in vain.

(image taken from Slate) 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Branded Shoes

Etymologically, to brand has its roots in fire, flame, burning; the brand colors for my company are red, orange, and yellow, aesthetically rather bold and bombastic, but ideal for connoting the visual of a spark. A creative spark, that moment of synaptic power when insight and innovation align, a catalytic spark, that instigates forward motion. A spark that grows into fire, fueling. Unknowingly, in wearing these dark pink, orange, and yellow sandals to the office the other day, I was mirroring our company branding. The orange and yellow painted walls of the office, brazen and almost nauseating, seem to have seeped into my subconscious. Generally, brighter primary colors, particularly shades of yellow, do not entice me; after a generally dreary and dark winter, with lots of black palettes, yellow and orange accents are an ideal introduction to the hot, hot heat. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Denim Trends, or, My High School Maxi

While it would certainly be premature to dance upon its proverbial grave, various fashion editorials have been itching to predict the next denim staple that will supplant the seemingly ubiquitous skinny, cigarette-leg jean. Recently, an article flouted denim maxi skirts as a potential contender. I do not disagree with the outlined attributes of a long denim skirt, however, the two pieces of clothing fulfill, for me, rather different niches, despite being made from the same glorious and comfortable fabric. Unlike a pair of well cut, tailored pants, a maxi skirt, particularly one from denim, fails to attain a certain level of structured sophistication. It is, inherently, flowing, whimsical, a bit cheeky; the skirt can be edgy, but falls short of polished. On a spring or mild summer day, this skirt can lend some movement and a bit of interest to a casual outfit, perhaps a simple tee or button-down. Pairing this denim with a sharp blazer, however, will result in a lackluster look. So, I will advocate for the maxi denim and echo that it deserves a place in most closets, though not in the stead of a great pair of fitted jeans.

That trends are so reliably cyclic is no surprise; while almost a banal certainty, it remains amusing when particular looks or cuts or colors swing back into favor. In high school, I had a much adored dark denim maxi skirt, a precious hand-down from my sister, which, unfortunately, was styled most dreadfully. A time for learning and mistakes in all things. For game days, our varsity basketball team dressed up, arriving to other courts in style to intimidate our opponents; the denim maxi was a personal favorite. A vision of this skirt with a pair of chunky blue hiking boots, still somewhere in the bowels for my closet for those occasions of actual hiking, continues to haunt me. Donated to some charity long ago, if I had another opportunity, I would probably pair it with my leopard booties, a current favorite in heavy rotation.

(image taken from Refinery29)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tie Dye Explosion and Golden Elephants

When I was in elementary school, I remember sporting an array of tie dyed tee shirts, a handful of which were passed down from my older sister, all of them swimmingly over-sized, nearly dipping down to my scuffed, scraped knees. Bright colors sublimating from shade to shade, those capricious and accidental fireworks, were so appealing: impulsive, impatient, impractical. These fun fabrics faded from memory and my closet, as they approached rag status and the entire look swung to the dated, period-costume end of the sartorial spectrum. Throughout middle and high school years, donning tie dye only occurred in proximity to Halloween, or daily, for that small but loyal contingent of Grateful Dead and Phish devotees. Truthfully, when I was younger, I did not have the confidence to wear tie dye, or to pair scarlet and purple, elegantly. So, when I spied this pencil skirt a number of months back, I was captivated, but it hung idle in my closet a little while. The pattern, the colors at once impassioned and subdued, reminds me of a more potent Impressionist painting, with shades more saturated; perhaps a landscape, a lawn of roses, drenched in blood and wine.

This elephant necklace has been in my repertoire since high school, always a popular item for comment and compliment by any and everyone. Random teachers, cashiers, passerby on the street. A gilded gold elephant makes a bombastic statement, offering a challenge to my loud pattern skirt.

Tuesday evening office soundtrack: Ancient Melodies of the Future Built to Spill 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Outfit for a Thursday: Mustard and Ketchup

When I was in high school, my friends presented me with a gag ketchup bottle as a gift. The classic tomato red plastic cylindrical bottle, found in diners and dives across the county, a silhouette immediately inducing saliva for all food greasy and fried, appeared to be full, but instead only housed a bit of red string. When the bottle was squeezed, sharply, the string spewed forth, for a very transient moment almost resembling a geyser of condiment. Naturally, I took to carrying this ridiculous item with me on school field trips, needlessly tormenting the kind, generous parent volunteers who sacrificed days of soap-opera-lounging to chaperone, to the delight of everyone else on the rocking school bus. It was, of course, a simpler time, before all of us had become addicted to and enamored with the hand-held computers we now are unable to separate from our clenched fingers.

Generally, when it comes to color, I prefer jewel tones, those deep and brilliant emeralds, amethysts, rubies, sapphire blues. A life that abides by generalizations, though, is certainly a dull one. For some sartorial adventure, I opted for a sun-bursting, mustard yellow blazer, the hue of the real low-brow mustard, no seeds or fancy spices, just yellow, to pair with my ketchup-red nails. To mellow out these bold colors, and to avoid looking further like a baseball stadium meal, I selected my windowpane-patterned black and white dress. With the gridded, geometric pattern of my shift dress and the yellow accent color, the overall effect was wonderfully mod.

After a typical grueling day at the office, I sauntered downtown to the nether regions of the Lower East Side, for a Venezuelan-inspired meal of pisco and arepas with friends, and then a jaunt through the Cutlog art fair. The filmmaker composed the music for a performance piece by his longtime friend and collaborator, conceptual artist Taxiplasm, which was debuting at the French fair. Dallying downtown with artists, gallery owners, and various creative characters deserved some added funkiness; these gilded funnel cake earrings turned out to be quite the hit. While ambling through the haphazard gallery space, frenetically decorated with work from galleries scattered all over the world, I participated in two separate group art pieces. I was also mistaken for an artist, myself, twice; rather than perpetuating the illusion, adopting a personality for a bit, speaking with some affected accent, weaving some tale of growing up in Lyons or Bangkok, I always seem to just shake my head and blush. Not enough pisco.

During an after-party at a nearby bourgeois hotel, some middle-aged man was seduced by the coiled serpentine metal, then politely asked if he could take their picture. A far cry from photogenic, I posed awkwardly; luckily, the earrings were indeed his focal point, my ear and hair just happening to occupy the background space. I was delightfully flattered.

For me, these bit of soft fried dough look-alikes contrast nicely with the harsh barbed wire gold of my favorite lucite bangle, the demure, out-of-the-spotlight bit of jewelry for the evening.

Monday night at the office soundtrack: "Prince Johnny" St. Vincent (on repeat)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Graphic Black and White, Episode Three

A few weekends back, the filmmaker and I joined his mother and aunt uptown for a Saturday evening meal at a cozy local favorite. With a diner-like ambiance with more refined offerings, the meal was that perfect blend of familiar comfort and decadent treat. Balancing casual and crisp, I threw on a closet favorite, my black and white vertical striped silk blouse. As the weather was delightfully cooperative that evening, seasonal appropriate, a tweed blazer was all I needed, no small boon after this past winter. Every green patch we passed during our stroll to the restaurant housed beds of red and yellow tulips. Petals opened into soft cups.

The black and white color palette has infiltrated all facets of my consumerism as of late; recent accessories acquisitions have fallen into one of the following categories: black, white, both. This pendant, in the both category, adapted easily to necklace form; I layered it atop an older black and gold beaded piece, which had actually been sent to me when I was in high school from a distant relative. Once my paternal grandparents both died, family reunions with extended members seem to only happen at funerals. During a luncheon years back, a great-aunt noticed my love for the unique, the forgotten, the bygone. A few weeks later, a small treasure chest arrived at our house; enclosed within, an array of jewelry she had not worn for years, plucked from some drawer of abandon. I, shamefully, do not really remember my conversation that afternoon with this great-aunt, what thoughts were shared, what knowledge imparted. When I wear this necklace, either alone or entangled with another piece, its own history and memories, I think of her, but in a sort of nebulous way. The moment is not concrete in my mind, but the sense of giving, of passing on, is palpable.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Escape to the Beach

The sun is present and warm, yawning lazily, brazen, feigning coy licks, ignoring that his absence these past long months has been palpable and painful. Nonchalant. Complain I will not. My legs are bare, my various pairs of stretched out bits of hosiery stashed under my bed, praying for good. I am going to the beach for a quick escape this weekend. My bathing suit will stay at home, but, finally, the fantasy of a scene by a beautiful lake, by some shore along some large and palpitating body of water, cool and sparkling, is no longer cruelly absurd.

(image taken from A Well Traveled Woman)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Graphic Black and White, Episode Two

So few things in life exist in a binary system; black and white, eponymous with the saying, rather trite, are actually quite unique, anamolous. So few things exist with those hard, sharp edges, so definitively and clearly and beautifully delineating one from other, one from opposite. Graphic black and white, my current trusted motif, is being touted as a in-the-moment trend, a label that seems, simply, unfair. Sun and moon rise and fall each day; black and white has never left.

The window pane pattern, that perfection of replicable and straight grid lock, is a classic, a classic that has somehow eluded my wardrobe until recently. This window pane pattern dress, a form-fitting shift with a flattering scoop neck, joins the ranks of my various recent black and white acquisitions. It has a Georgy Girl mod-vibe, an era and an aesthetic that I can always support and am always in the mood to rock. The other week, I paired my new dress with a bevy of black and white bangles; the oblong curved bangle, black and white lines imperfect and asymmetrical, offered a great contrast in texture to the stringent pattern of the dress.

Three neon red spheres suspended from golden rods, deconstructed cherries. These earrings added an unexpected and welcoming bit of color spark to the look.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Graphic Black and White, Episode One

A robust, elegant, and impressive history of style icons, from Coco Chanel to Emmanuelle Alt, have proven, time and again, with beautiful and visually illustrative arguments, that the black and white motif rarely falters. The past few weeks, my daily wear has been heavily reliant on bold, geometric black and white patterns, predominantly in straight lines and sharp right angles, with a sprinkling of black and gold accessories. Despite owning a preposterous volume of black clothing, and black jewelry for accompaniment, streamlining my outfits to this eternal light-dark dichotomy makes morning wardrobe decisions much easier.

Featuring uneven black grid lines, as though hand-drawn with a waning perfumed permanent marker, occasionally interrupted with a black square, this silken-like tunic dress has become a new favorite. Mod-inspired, the gritty imperfection of the pattern lends an updated, more contemporary look to the piece. Unfortunately, the cream backdrop has an ephemerally sheer quality to it, which, pairs fine with opaque black tights, but will not transition well into warmer spring weather wear. The earrings, also new, have a similar tension between polished and rugged, the golden outer detailing encasing the onyx innards as the talons of an owl crush some bewildered black rodent. They were a remarkable find in the rather haphazard bargain bin of a local consignment shop I frequent. A worthy prize, for one willing to hunt.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Leopard Booties and Neon Purple

With the polar-like climate seemingly firmly entrenched in the northeast, it has been increasingly challenging to stay motivated to roll out of bed, let alone rummage through my narrow closet and unearth something interesting and attractive to wear. Mostly, I have been relying heavily on neutrals, which is never a mistake; the other day, though, I decided to combat the dour temperatures with a pair of rarely worn, nearly neon purple tights. Pairing them with my recent favorite booties, leopard calf-hair emblazoned with gold detailing, the bottom part of my look was bodacious and bold, so I kept my torso muted in heather gray and cream. Animal prints, leopard in particular, have the advantage of walking the line between neutral and pattern, playing to each depending on the tone of the rest of the look. I snagged this pair of booties earlier in the season, for a remarkable price, and have been wearing them in consistent rotation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Matthew Barney, Belated Valentine's, and Bronchitis

To commemorate this past Valentine's Day celebrations with the filmmaker, I had bought tickets for the global premiere of the latest marathon art-film work by Matthew Barney, River of Fundament at the Brooklyn Academy of Music theater. Spending the stereotypically commercial and contrived evening enduring about six hours of visual commentary on the legacy, or lack thereof, of Norman Mailer and the tension between contemporary American culture and mythology, vis- à-vis the text Ancient Evenings and an elaborately staged wake, and resplendent with copious excrement and automobile scenes, seemed rather appropriate. Alas, my dutiful planning was foiled; the filmmaker stayed at home, ensnared by bronchitis. So, I experienced the work alone, viscerally eviscerated, sipping gin and tonic cocktails through a plastic theater-proof, adult sippy cup. While not a romantic evening, it was certainly stimulating.

So, after the filmmaker recovered from his plague and I returned from my brief jaunt in Providence, we decided to have a brick-oven pizza and red wine date at one of our favorite local haunts. Just before dinner, the filmmaker surprised me with a spread of small gifts: a trio of kitschy cowboy boot shot glasses and some earrings, including this rather unique and exquisite pair, some mementos from his trip up north to New Hampshire. I adore the sharp contrast of the milky gray stone, cold and opalescent and pristine, with the sculpted brass, printed with soft ferns, warm and raw. The blend of materials, the almost painted blue shading, remind me of something archaic, something noble and medieval. Bits of jeweled finery that could have framed the face of some young duchess, sent to a neighboring kingdom to lure a landed husband. They are quite unlike any other pair of earrings I own, which I will be the first to admit is quite the feat, given my costume addiction. The filmmaker can be a bit anxious picking out jewelry for me, deliberating over what he supposes I would choose for myself, and I can vehemently proclaim these were an exceptional find.