Blue, White & Red

What I wouldn't give now, as we enter these sweltering dog days of summer, to return to this afternoon by the bay. The gentle rumble of thunder in the distance, a soft storm-cooled breeze and the smell of rain in the air-- it was a beautiful way to wrap up a lovely day of indulgence.

A self declared, yet undeserved, day off (I'm terrible at being my own boss), I took in bit of window shopping, got a fresh haircut, and spent sometime exploring history at the Wrightsville Beach Museum
Spending time so close to the beach, be it near my house or in an area like Wrightsville, this time of year is always a challenge. Places that were ghost towns just weeks earlier are suddenly packed with people: swimsuit-clad, flip-flop wearing people.

There's an osprey and its baby in the nest behind me!

As I am rarely swimsuit-clad or flip-flop wearing, save for an actual trip to the beach and back, it's safe to say that I am never more out of place when spending time near the beach but not on it.

 On days like this, I answer a lot of questions (where are you going all dressed up? do you always look like that?), attempt to graciously accept awkward and sideways compliments and smile politely at those that stare. 

Funny thing about this outfit is that nothing, save for the scarf, is vintage. Take that away and this ensemble can be entirely procured at any modern mall or shopping center.

 There is a certain shame that comes with admitting this fact, partially because I love having a story to tell about my clothes (it makes my answers to those aforementioned questions so much more interesting) and also because there is a bit of disappointment in knowing my clothes were made overseas-- a big change from my usual American-made, or even homemade, vintage.

 It also seems odd that my patriotic hued ensemble features pieces made in Cambodia and China.  

Vintage scarf signed Honey-- estate sale find
Sweater-- Maurices
Dress-- Old Navy
Belt-- Thrifted
Shoes-- Ralph Lauren

This dress was purchased in a moment of weakness while shopping with a friend who loves to frequent the major discount chains and fully supports the new American tradition of disposable fashion. 
It has been nearly a decade since I purchased anything from Old Navy and now, after bringing this dress home, I fully understand how folks can cast aside a garment so easily. 

I suppose one shouldn't expect quality from a $13 dress, but when I can find a high quality vintage garment at a thrift store for nearly half the price, I'm disappointed in how I chose to spend my money.

I in no way intend to let this dress become disposable. I hereby swear to care for it, to alter it to fit, to reinforce the seams and to replace the zipper when it (inevitably) ceases to zip, just as I would any other dress in my collection.   

I also swear that, this July Fourth, I'll be wearing something made in the country whose independence I am celebrating. 


Style Study: Amelia Earhart

A recent post on my shop's (Fair Sails) Facebook page, celebrating the 87th anniversary of the first transatlantic flight completed by a woman, lead me to scouring photographs of famed aviatrix, and America's favorite tomboy, Amelia Earhart. Well aware of her feminist spirit and accomplishments in aviation, I was surprised to discover her fashion line and impeccable style. 

Before this discovery, the image I had of Earhart was along the lines of the one above: leather jacket and cap, vest and tie-- the typical apparel for aviators (male and female) of the time. What I failed to realize, until this very moment, was exactly how well Earhart pulled off this androgynous look, which is really something to be appreciated from a fashion standpoint.

In her personal fashion, along with her clothing line (which she models above), Amelia Earhart favored simplicity, with little frill or embellishment save for a scarf, a string of pearls, and, of course, her winged aviator pin. 
Declared one of the ten best dressed women in America in 1934 by the Fashion Designers of America, her simple, practical approach to fashion obviously worked.

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt, 1935
There is something so modern about Amelia's ensembles, a point which is even more obvious here juxtaposed with Eleanor Roosevelt's outfit. Amelia's hat, again a nod to menswear, paired with that giant bow and fur, is fresh and sophisticated.

This is one of my favorite Earhart ensembles. The jacket and skirt flatter her tall, thin frame, and that blouse is truly amazing-- I can't help but wonder what it looked like without the jacket.
 Shorten the skirt a bit and this outfit would not look out of place in 2015.

It might be safe to say that scarves were Earhart's signature accessory.
 She wore them often, many different patterns and styles, worn in many different ways.

I particularly like how she is wearing her scarf in the photograph below. Such a smart way to change the look of an otherwise ordinary button up. I think it particularly works with the ensemble below because it connects with the dark knit collar of her jacket. 
I'm also really loving her hair here too; I can totally relate to her curly, unruly, cropped cut. 

This last photograph is the earliest of the bunch and possibly the most lovely. Behind Earhart, the large brims of ladies hats can be seen in stark contrast to hat she wears, almost a flap-less, feminine play on her aviator cap (and are those feathers?). Long strands of pearls, a flowing neckline and check out those fur cuffs on her jacket-- so elegant!

In the past I've assumed that it pained independent women, like Earhart, to conform to fashion and wear dresses, however Earhart appears to exude confidence no matter what her ensemble. While Earhart's fashion line was understandably a means to make money for her flying endeavors, it also stemmed from a desire to see more functionality in fashion. 
Clothing for "active living," a modern notion just as much ahead of its time as Earhart herself.   


Salt Marsh Seersucker

There is a fascinating balance to a salt marsh. It exists, sometimes, as a boggy meadow, home to tiny waving fiddler crabs, snails and hungry herons, and other times as grassy, brackish shallows: a refuge for small fish and a buffet for those who mean to make a meal of them.
The tide comes in and fish feed, the tide goes out, and the crabs get to work gobbling up whoever got left behind.

 Balance is something I am quite often lacking. 
While in the heat of the moment, I prescribe to the notion that you can never have to much of a good thing, while in retrospect I cling to the idea of "everything in moderation."

At the moment, I'm struggling to strike a balance between my ever aging exterior (thirty looms large on the horizon) and my personal style. After spending the first half of my twenties dressing like an old lady, and the second half dressing like a little girl (trying to reclaim my youth?), I am at sea, if you will, when it comes to fashion.

While sometimes there's a glimpse of that harmony I'm chasing (such as my in my last post), other times things just don't work. And, after looking at myself, standing here on the salt marsh dock in a pink seersucker dress with a pink handbag and a flower in my hair, I can't help but think that this is one of those times discord.

Of course, I do like this outfit, I wouldn't wear it if I didn't, but it just doesn't feel like an authentic representation of myself. I've missed the mark-- it's not the sprightly, youthful, slightly sophisticated seaside ensemble I had hoped for, it has come up childish and juvenile-- it feels a bit like my mother dressed me.

Lately, I've been digging through my closet, thinking "is this really something a 28 year old should wear?" (which is an entirely silly question because there's no set age limit on fashions, except, of course, the ones I set for myself). 

I suppose the question I am actually asking is, what's next for me? After nearly a decade spent enamored with and immersed in the fashion of days gone by, and before that, lots of time spent wearing black, it feels as if it is time for a bit of a refresh to restore the balance between my interior and exterior "self." 

I'm not quite sure what my "interior self" would wear, but I sure do know what she wouldn't. After the great purge of Spring 2015, my closet is much emptier, free from cheap impulse buys and pieces that I've been hanging on to (but rarely wearing) for the last decade and a half. 
What I will select to fill my closet with again remains to be seen, but for now I'm enjoying what remains and hoping that it provides me with the inspiration and direction I need to strike that balance I've been so desperately seeking.

dreaming of a more harmonious wardrobe

Outfit Details
Dress-- thrifted (90's chic)
Cardigan-- Maurices
Shoes-- Miz Mooz
Purse-- Target
Sunglasses-- Forever21


By the Bay

What little discussion is needed about this outfit and location. 
The modern Breton stripe is just at home next to a briny bay as it is paired with a khaki a-line skirt. 

And the scarf? My way of disguising a much abhorred crew neckline and put to use my ever growing scarf collection.
Here's a reminder to find a genuine boat neck Breton top.

Striped top-- thrifted
Skirt-- thrifted
Belt-- thrifted
Black moccasins-- Rack Room, mystery brand
Scarf-- unknown origin, not vintage
Sunglasses-- Forever21


Sailors & Chanel

In the evenings, my beau can be found unwinding from a busy day at work firmly planted on the couch, craft beer in hand, in his Marine Corps camouflage trousers and green undershirt. 

While the plain green undershirt of the modern Marine Corps uniform is far from inspirational, sometimes, while looking at my beau in this state of undress, I am reminded of Mademoiselle Chanel. 

WWI French Navy Rifleman & Gabrielle Chanel

What vision it takes to look at the underpinnings of a very masculine uniform, an object of utility, and find inspiration for fashion!

 Looking back now at the classic stripes of the undershirt of a French sailor, it is so simple to say: yes! this is fabulous, the absolute epitome of nautical fashion. 
The modern eye marvels at the fact that the man above is wearing something so stylish under his uniform (and with such a jaunty hat!), when, in truth, sailors had been doing so for more than half a century before this photograph was taken.

As the legend goes, Mademoiselle Chanel was inspired by the undershirts during a trip to the coast of France and, in 1917, introduced the shirts to the fashion world in her nautical collection, single-handedly altering women's fashion (consider what women were wearing in 1917! certainly not unstructured striped blouses). 

Embracing the Breton: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Jean Seberg. 

Now, nearly one hundred years after the conversion from uniform undergarment to fashion staple, the Breton stripe, and it's variations, are still immensely popular, widely available, and essential for stylish seaside living. 
A must-have for modern and vintage gals (and gents!) alike, the Breton stripe is where decades of fashion meet, under that wonderful umbrella of classic style. 
There's just something about stripes that appeals to everyone.

While it's unlikely that anyone will ever look at my beau's olive drab undershirt, find inspiration, and revolutionize fashion, it's lovely to think how much our current fashion landscape has been shaped by the past and by visionaries like Chanel, who found inspiration in the most surprising places.

So tell me, dear readers, has the Breton stripe found its way into your closet? How do you wear it?