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.