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)