1.22.2016

Between Yellow and Red



Perhaps a color more suited for Halloween-time and the fall season, a bright pop of orange is a welcome sight in winter and in my cold weather wardrobe. 
Though maybe not my signature color (for which I am still searching), I am increasingly attracted to the sunny hues that rest somewhere between yellow and red.



This recent attraction is something of a surprise, as orange has always been a color I've avoided.
After pondering my relationship with the color (what a thing to ponder), I guess I must attribute my orange aversion to what I've figured to be a misplaced distaste for the 1960s (gasp! It's true).

Growing up in the 90s, the 1960s were very much still alive in my small rural hometown. Grandma's house, along with many others in town, was filled with the classic 60s color palette of green, orange and brown. Grandma's orange and lime kitchen, her orange and brown living room with the metallic floral wallpaper, and the crazy orange linoleum in her laundry room, were all symbols, to little me, of how resistant to change and out of touch our little town was. I'm not sure I knew then that this color palette was necessarily representative of a certain era, but I did know it was outdated, and to me, tacky-- something to be avoided. 
So, while brown and green were embraced in my wardrobe, orange was cast aside for years with the thought that it was an incredibly tacky color and something meant for Grandma's outdated linoleum and ugly living room (truth is, I'd kill for that living room now. sigh.). 

And, I suppose, even if Grandma's outdated home decor hadn't intervened, I may have still avoided the color for fear that it would match my hair and I'd look like a giant carrot (we'll file that under #gingerproblems).




Embracing orange feels a bit like discovering a new land and, given my coloring, a bit like coming home-- perhaps it might be my signature color after all!




Scarf-- 1960s, Salvation Army
Dress-- 60s Carol Craig, last year's birthday gift from my beau, purchased at A Second Time Around, Wilmington, NC


I always love to do a little research on a garment when it has a tag in it. Carol Craig pops up in department store ads from the 1940-60s. Here's one from the St. Petersburg Times, October 11, 1966:

I desperately wanted to find an ad with an illustration of this dress, but no such luck!


Small rhinestone brooch-- Salvation Army
Butterfly brooch-- Gift from a business acquaintance

Once I added the brooch to the scarf, I suddenly got a very Joan Holloway/Mad Men vibe from this outfit. Now if only adding something as simple as a brooch would give me her figure.




Tights-- Angelina ballet tights via Amazon
Shoes-- Aerosoles Railroad Pump
Also seen here. This is my go-to leg/footwear combination this winter.
Fur trimmed coat-- thrift shop find...? I can't remember. Possibly one of my earliest vintage purchases!


I wore this ensemble to a farewell dinner for one of my beau's co-workers and stopped in at an nearly empty, high-end housing development for a few pictures on the way. Though the coat seemed overkill when I left the house, and in the sunny drivers seat of my car, standing out in the raw winter wind for photographs made me glad to have it to slip back on. I often feel foolish in fur here, but I have it, I love it, and I'm going to wear it.

 I love it, and I'm going to wear it-- seems I should have worn that phrase thin by now!







I suppose my above expressed aversion to orange and my changed feelings on it are just a couple of my, let's call them "charming," idiosyncrasies, but is there any color you just don't like or won't wear? How do you feel about orange? Let me know below!





1.15.2016

Hair Flashes

I suppose it's only natural for each generation to think that everything they do is novel and new, however, time and time again, it's proven that everything has been done before. 

Today, the modern gal is embracing beauty aids such as false lashes, shapewear (√† la spanx) and, though the trend may be waning, pastel hair-- all of which were fads of yesteryear (click the links to read a little history on each subject!). 

That said, I shouldn't have been at all surprised when I stumbled on a video from 1955 demonstrating the ease and beauty of Chameleon Streaks. It wasn't exactly the novelty of the streaks that I marveled at, but the ingeniousness! 


Applied with spirit gum, these little licks of colorful hair are a temporary accessory "for a girl of changing moods." Actress Alicia Lotti chooses yellow hair flashes to contrast with her blue dress while Anita Collins chooses red flashes to match her ensemble. 



I've worked with spirit gum before and found it quite easy to use. The thought of simply sticking on a flash of color for the night, especially right at the hair line, is so appealing, as is being able to remove the color just as you would any other accessory. 
No bleach, no roots, no maintenance, though, as the video points out, it would be terribly embarrassing should the spirit gum fail!

You can see the entire application process in the charming video below and hop on over to Youtube for more details (including the original cost of these Chameleon Streaks) in the video description.




Having seen this video a couple years ago, it was brought to mind again when a business acquaintance of mine expressed his distaste for my own rather permanent hair flashes. A general fan of my look, he, almost rudely, exclaimed that the addition of unnatural color clashed terribly with the concept of dressing in clothing from the 40s and 50s and really ruins the whole "illusion" (so does wearing my hair natural, but he had already covered that on another occasion). 

I hate to break it to him, but colorful hair is nothing new and, as the video demonstrates, was in fashion when my 50s dresses were new. 


Every few years I get the itch to put a little color (or a blonde streak!) in my hair. Often the thought of doing my whole head occurs to me, but then I figure I should enjoy my natural color as long as I have it. (Perhaps when my hair has faded to that snowy white that red hair so often does, I'll experiment with a whole head of exotic color-- I relish the thought of being an old woman with lavender hair!)

This bout of teal and blue was inspired, I think, by that pesky big 3-0 that looms near. My beau turned thirty just after Christmas, and while I've got a little more than a year before I do the same, I'm feeling old and feeling like I look old. 
A few months ago, while enjoying a brew at a rather hip bar in Wilmington, it suddenly occurred to me that I look like a mother (now I sound like Iona-- see last week's post). Well, now, of course, there's no real way a mother looks, I mean, it's not that mothers look bad in any way... I suppose what I'm trying to say is that sometimes classic, rather conservative style without the aid of a vintage hair-do just comes off as doudy a 50 year-old woman, rather than a youthful (not quite) 30 year-old. 

Needless to say, a few days after this revelation, a few flashes of color appeared in my hair.


Teal-blue is generally my go-to fun color, but I'm looking forward to it fading enough that I can try something different.

 Of course, patience is not my strong suit and I'm "a girl of changing moods" so it's times like these I wish I had my own drawer full of Chameleon Streaks to play with. 

Hmmm... what color to choose next?


1.08.2016

Style Study: Pretty in Pink's Iona

It's no secret that I have a soft spot for the fashion and music of the 1980s, but, as a teenager, when I finally got around to watching those John Hughes' brat pack, coming of age films from the decade, I have to say I was a little disappointed. 

Having red hair and making eccentric fashion choices often brought up Molly Ringwald comparisons as a kid, so when I saw her on screen for the first time in Pretty in Pink, I remember not being very impressed.

 Sure her character is admirable for most of the movie, but in the end she unforgivably chooses the wrong guy! I was also always disappointed in Andie Walsh's wardrobe, she makes her own clothes and puts together outfits for $15 (girl after my own heart!) but what she does put together is often frilly or frumpy. Watching it as an adult, her ensembles seem less offensive, but as a adolescent with a penchant for all things black, the style icon of the film was clearly Iona, the quirky record store owner. 

After recently revisiting the film, more than 15 years after first watching it (gee, am I really that old?),  I was amazed to find that not only do I admire Iona's eccentric style, I'm quite inspired by it.

When we first meet Iona, she's wearing a vinyl tank-dress, white t-shirt and has a head full of spiked hair. Vinyl for decorating with vinyl? Kind of the perfect outfit.


The next we see Iona, she's got this great 80s does 40s inspired look going on, complete with snood, hat and peplum top. Of course, she's still got some wild 80s hair, but I think it really works with this ensemble!

"Andie, hon. Listen, it's after 7:00. Don't waste good lip gloss"


Finally we get a glimpse into Iona's equally quirky apartment and find her in a white wig and black and white dress with mandarin collar for an Asian inspired look.
 I remember watching this film originally and rejoicing at the thought of wearing a wig-- it may have been at this very point in time that I realized how much power fashion gives you to be whoever you want to be. I have yet to wear a wig for anything other than Halloween, but here's a reminder to take it into consideration.





And finally, the last good Iona look of the movie-- her prom dress and that beehive! Like a true style icon, she can't just put the dress on, she has to go the extra mile and complete the whole look with pearls, hair and make-up. 
(Can we pause for just a moment to admire the pink polka dot prom dress? From first viewing to last, I've always cringed a little when Andie cuts into it to make her own dress.)

"It was the first and last time I ever looked normal--you know, relatively speaking. It would have been a fairy tale if my date hadn't been the only one at the prom with a wife and two kids."





The last time we see Iona, she's nearly unrecognizable and, as she admits, looks like a mom. While this look is not unfathomable as her fashion choices are so varied, she explains her less eccentric look is due to her latest "yuppie" beau. Just like Andie's choice of Blane (aka the wrong guy!), Iona changing her look for a man was, and still is, disappointing. However, knowing Iona, she'd have an entirely different look should we have seen her again in the film. I think, ultimately, that's the charm of her fashion choices, nothing is off limits.



I suppose what I admire most about Iona's style is what I lack in my own. Each time we see her, her look is entirely different, yet still entirely her. While her hip, 80s mom look seems a little out of place, given her array of looks throughout the film, we can assume nothing is off limits for her. 
Her style is variety, and we get the sense that if Iona were real, and not just a movie character with a wardrobe department dishing out looks, she'd be the kind of woman that un-apologetically wears what she loves and dresses to suit her mood.







1.01.2016

New Year's Eve's New Look

Lying in bed on the last morning of 2015, I pondered my closet and the tired old frocks and cardigans I've been wearing for the better part of the last decade. My mind wandered over my usual New Year's Eve ensembles-- the 40s peplums with sequins and beads, the respectable little black dresses, the sparkly boleros... and felt wholly uninspired. 
Earlier in the week, I had listened to my hair stylist gush about the fantastic vintage dress she planned to wear to ring in the New Year. As she rinsed my hair, she described the fringe, the beads and the surprising flattering way the dress fit-- like it was meant to be. I didn't realize it then, but hearing her talk was like listening to myself describe clothes that I love; I only then realized it had been a very long time since I described anything with that sort of enthusiasm.



I'm not exactly sure at what point during my pondering my mind turned to the Chinese brocade dressing gown that has been hanging on my closet door for ages, but once it did, I was off and running-- planning, scheming and pulling together an unlikely outfit for an eventful New Year's Eve.
Suddenly, that spark, that long-lost enthusiasm, had returned, and it felt good!


 photo dressing gown 1_zpsjr9cyam6.jpg


Is this the end of my fashion rut?
 Maybe not, but boy it sure felt wonderful to break away from the safe and increasingly frumpy seeming wardrobe I've been embracing for years now.




2015 was a year of fashion aimlessness for me, beginning with the cropped haircut that set me drifting away from comfortable mooring in familiar fashion harbors. Since then I've been entirely adrift, purging my closet, embracing my curls and, ultimately, though I didn't realize it until now, looking for that spark that has always made me love getting dressed.
The search for the spark continues in 2016, but here's hoping it's a little less aimless and a bit more fruitful. 




Outfit Details
Chinese brocade dressing gown-- Goodwill
Black lace slip dress-- Heavy Red 
Belt-- TJ Maxx
Vintage bracelet and ring-- gifts, read more here
Necklaces-- Claire's
Bow brooch-- Salvation Army

Lip color-- Besamé Merlot


High school me would be proud of this outfit as it includes many pieces from my creepy kid days, including the really lovely slip dress, and has the general aesthetic I was always aiming for but could never achieve at eighteen. Ah, what a decade does for outfit (and hair) styling abilities. 

Speaking of hair, I'm enjoying exploring the messier side of my curls. While I love the precision and consistency of curler-set or pin-set curls, I'm loving the adventure that comes with each shower with my natural curls-- each curl, wave, and coil has a mind of its own. It has also been quite liberating not trying to get my hair to "fit" into any particular style or era, instead it just does what it does and I'm learning that can be pretty awesome.






So here's to the new year, to inspiration, and to that spark that makes life a little more fun.
As always....


10.23.2015

Autumn in New York


"Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first knighting
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel
They're making me feel, I'm home." 
 --Autumn in New York, Vernon Duke, 1934


There are no crowds or canyons of steel in my autumn in New York but the season is inviting just the same. The crisp air and the colorful leaves never fail to beckon me back to my childhood home.





Growing up, these fields and forests were my playground, the home of my many forts and fairy houses, where I, and my imagination, were always free to run wild. 

As a kid, there was always so much to do in fall, there were leaf piles to jump in, pumpkins to pick and carve, apples to eat, houses to haunt, and a most treasured visit to Pumpkinville
All of this, of course, leading up to the grand spectacle, the highlight of the season, Halloween. 





Some of that childhood magic still lingers here and throughout Western New York, magic made by enjoying each season to the fullest, spending time outdoors and fully embracing the wonder and possibility life has to offer.

Of course, fall comes with a magic of its own, setting the world ablaze with vivid color.
And, while the change comes every year, every year it feels as if I'm seeing it for the first time.







I suppose it's safe to say, fall is my favorite season, if not for the spectacular leaves and celebrations, for the cooler weather and the clothes that come with it.



And, while it's still a bit too warm in Eastern North Carolina to whip out the wool, New York provided that fall crispness I needed to slip into my favorite fabrics.

The Outfit
Hat-- Marshalls 
Scarf-- thrifted
Sweater-- GAP (thrifted)
T-shirt-- Target
Belt-- TJ Maxx
Skirt-- thrifted
Tights-- Hue
Booties-- X-Appeal

Absolutely nothing truly vintage in this ensemble, but that's absolutely alright! This look got me a lot of Indiana Jones comments (and that's alright too.)



I see now how much of my childhood magic was so carefully crafted by my mother. Even now, she's constantly planning little surprises to help me savor the season. This year, with my quick road trip back to New York, she and Dad whisked me off for an Adirondack weekend of hiking, kayaking and trivial pursuit. Even though I'm old and married, it's still nice to be Mom and Pop's little girl again if only for a weekend.  

Pops and me at Whiteface Mountain's Oktoberfest. 

View from the top of Silver Lake Mountain





Where ever you're experiencing this season from, here's hoping there's a little magic in it for you too.