3.25.2016

Camellia



A week ago, I spent the first day of the last year of my twenties reveling in the splendor that is the southern spring. With the beautiful weather we've been having lately, I could think of no better way to spend my birthday than once again visiting Airlie Gardens.




In every season, Airlie is a testament to the natural beauty of the Carolina coast, but in spring it is simply resplendent. 
Each pilgrimage I've made to the gardens has been in summer, seeking refuge from the broiling sun on Airlie's moss-draped, live oak-shaded paths, but with each visit, as I approach the camellia garden, I swear that next year I'll visit in spring.
And this year I finally did.


The azaleas were beautiful too!


Airlie is a sprawling place, and though the parking lot was quite full (to include a school bus), the garden, at times, felt like a secret one-- just me and the flowers.

Despite the seclusion, I was still incredibly anxious about dragging my tripod along to snap a few photographs. While I love photographing what I wear and where I wear it, I always feel a little ashamed of the seeming excess and vanity of it all.  

But, after seven years of blogging, I can see the value in what I'm doing-- the value of having the better part of a decade of my life, my wardrobe, and my thoughts bound together here at the sea. The idea that years from now, whether I'm still blogging or not, I can look back at this chunk of time and see who I was, where I was and what I was wearing, is pretty amazing.








No matter how much I justify these photo sessions, I still find myself uncomfortable in front of the camera while in public however Airlie, of all places, is the perfect spot to embrace vanity and excess. Built in 1901 by the folks for whom the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" was likely in reference to, this sprawling garden is about anything but moderation.

While time spent amongst plants and in nature has a rather restorative magic of its own, Airlie has a lingering residue of magical evenings, high society galas and Gatsby-esque social events of the season. Wandering the grounds, I like to imagine guests, dressed in their finest, flitting to and fro under the pergola, boating on Airlie lake, or pitching woo in a quiet corner of the camellia garden. 

There's always a note of melancholy with these imaginings as I realize that, as time passes, fewer and fewer places like this will exist. We must enjoy them while we can.   








Pink jacket-- Lilly Pulitzer, hand-me-down (story here)
I really love the acrylic buttons on this jacket, but didn't realize until after I got home that I was missing one! Luckily there is a replacement button stitched inside the jacket. 

Necklace-- Belonged to my great-grandmother, sent to me as a 24th birthday present by my grandmother.


Dress-- 70s/80s Kevin Stuart Petites, thrifted. 
A bit of a polyester monstrosity, I thought there was no way I was going to like this dress, but I tried it on anyway. My polyester aversion was no match for its pastel hues and pleats-- plus it was under $1.00!
My headband is the original belt to this dress.

Bow belt-- Delia's, years ago

Shoes-- Payless. 
I later swapped out these little punched pleather flats for white plimsolls, also from Payless.

Purse-- Target

Sunglasses-- Forever21 

Orange Airlie Admission badge

Lip color-- NYX matte lip cream "Antwerp"
I'm not super fond of this lip product, the color is pretty but the formula is clumpy and drying, but at a few dollars, what can you expect.






With large, dreamy blossoms that look like a cross between a rose and a peony, the camellia is by far my favorite plant that I have discovered since moving south. A native to Asia, many of Airlie's camellias were hand selected and imported from the continent over a hundred years ago (what a wonderful job that would be to travel the world and select pretty flowers!). 

There is such a delicate old time elegance to the blooms, and with their glossy evergreen foliage (during my summer visits to the garden, I must have walked by so many shrubs that I had no idea were camellias!) the bush is attractive year round.  




This trip to the gardens set my spring fever ablaze so it was no surprise that I found myself doing a little plant shopping on the way home. And with my love for camellias newly rekindled, it's also no surprise that I came home with a flowering shrub of my own. 

The camellia is a "messy" plant, but what a beautiful mess it is! 


I selected a "Lady Laura" camellia that, after a lot of prep work, I planted along the west side of our property line. I also transplanted an azalea and rhododendron into this area and hope to create an Airlie-inspired line of shrubs. 

It felt so good to get my hands dirty and to work outside to create something beautiful-- I hope to do it again soon. 
Here's hoping that my 29th year is the of the green thumb!
 








3.11.2016

Daffodilly





The rise of the daffodil signals a farewell to wool and corduroy in these parts as the temperatures soar into the seventies and, this year, into the eighties. Though I look forward to spring each year (the beauty of this season is unsurpassed here in the south), there's always a bit of sadness when I pack away my favorite wool skirts and say goodbye to my cozy outfits.



Orange cardigan-- thrifted, no label
Corduroy vest-- thrifted
Vintage tie--  from Mrs. Bolton, Ultra Trojan brand bought at The Kleinhans Co. Buffalo, NY (original price tag reads $2.50!)
Blouse-- Lands' End 
Skirt-- thrifted, Pendleton Woolen Mills
Tights- Hue
Loafers-- Michel M... same cheap-o loafers I always wear!

Lipstick-- Besame Merlot + Besame Carmine




My ensembles this winter have had a bit of a formula-- pops of bright colors, peter pan collars, neckties and pencil skirts. 

This last outfit of winter certainly follows suit but incorporates a few items that were on the Twin Peaks-inspired wishlist I developed in my last post
One trip to Goodwill and I was able to tick off a few of those Twin Peaks must haves: the short, chunky sweater and the vest, along with a few other pieces that will have to wait until next winter to make their blog debut. 




Sometimes my thrifting adventures can be quite aimless-- hours of pawing through racks in search of something, anything that tickles my fancy and, though sometimes an aimless trip leads to an excellent vintage find, many times I wind up with an armful of fashions that I will likely never wear. 

After a recent major closet purge, I've decided my shopping needs to have a bit more direction and that I need only bring home things that I will actually wear-- sensible, right?!




This, the first thrifting adventure of the year, quickly developed a purpose when I pulled this orange cardigan off the rack.
 If you, by chance, read my Between Yellow and Red post in January, you'll know that the color orange is a recent and surprising fascination of mine, so between the color and the waist accentuating length I had been pining for since watching Twin Peaks, this sweater was a must.

 Once one thing on my TP wishlist had been checked off, the thrifting adventure became a scavenger hunt for other items on that list. It took some digging but finally from the men's rack came the vest and instantly an outfit was born. 

While nothing genuinely vintage was found on this thrift store trip, it sets the bar high for future shopping adventures. Perhaps each time I go shopping I should actually have a wish list in mind-- what a novel concept!




Speaking of lists, I was actually able to accomplish one of those Pinterest-inspired projects on my home decor to-do list, and re-purpose a vintage umbrella that is no longer fit for service. 

I really love how this looks on my front door and, once it is no longer daffodil time, I hope to find another bunch of season appropriate flowers so I can enjoy this bit of cheery decor for a bit longer. 


Warm weather has made my curls go crazy! I'm a bit nervous as to what the hot and sticky summer will do...



For those of you on this side of the equator, has spring found you yet? 
With the change of season, what are you most looking forward to wearing and what are you most sad to stash away?



2.19.2016

Style Study: Twin Peaks

I suppose I'm late to the party on this, but I've absolutely fallen in love with the quirky and campy early 90s series Twin Peaks.

I had the opportunity to, thanks to the magic of Amazon streaming, take in the entire series in an epic binge watching session just before Christmas, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. 

While I'm quite taken with the outlandish characters and supernatural themes, and seriously considering the Black Lodge's red room as a decor choice, I'm also finding myself inspired by the fantastic fashion and hair in the series.



With her signature saddle shoes and penchant for pleated plaid, Audrey Horne is every vintage lovin' gal's favorite Twin Peaks femme fatale. 

Audrey is totally summed up by her footwear choices-- innocent girl on one foot, womanly temptress on the other.

Dressed for destruction: Audrey acts innocent while single-handedly destroying her father's business deal.
Tucked vs. Untucked: While I'm always a fan of tucking into high-waisted anything, I'm really loving the short sweater paired with the pleated plaid skirt.

Actress Sherilyn Fenn has such an effortless Old Hollywood glamour to her look (the arch of her eyebrows just kills me). Having seen her in more recent roles before I watched Twin Peaks, I love seeing her look used to such full effect here.
The arch of her eyebrows kills me, so does this dress-- perfection.

Beyond the fashion, I love the hair on this show. Twin Peaks debuted in 1990, so there's plenty of big crimpy curls (I'm looking at you, Lucy), but there's also some fabulous short hair, too; fabulous enough, in fact, I'm kicking myself for not watching a year ago when I was in desperate need of short hair inspiration.

Audrey's funeral look.

Of course, I can't talk short hair without mentioning Josie Packard. Her jet black power pixie paired with a ruby red pout is so alluring, and she's got a pretty fantastic wardrobe too!

High-waisted slacks, a chunky belt and an over-sized cardigan: Josie's look is masculine in that fabulous Katherine Hepburn way.

Josie also has a fantastic lingerie collection. I'm particularly in love with the backside of this peignoir.



While many of the other characters' hair grows throughout the series, Josie's seems to remain the same (though it does get combed forward when she's in her maid uniform--  still adorable but less sophisticated).
Donna Hayward's hairstyle seems to change the most throughout the series, starting out with a big, fabulous curly bob (dream hair!) and winding up long and wavy. Her fashion choices are pretty interesting, too. While Audrey has a very set style, Donna's wardrobe is always a surprise.

There's that great hair! I do love me a triangular bob.
Some of Donna's outfits have so much fabric-- smart choices for winter I suppose, Twin Peaks is in the mountains after all!

Love that sweater! Must look for sweaters with a waistband like that.


Donna's funeral look.
There's so much plaid in this show. Pairing a flannel shirt with a vest is unexpected but fun. I think I may need more vests in my life.

Twin Peaks recycles a lot of clothes in its characters' wardrobes. Audrey can be seen wearing the same (I think) pleated skirt several times, and Donna wears the same blue sweater on a few different occasions. I believe the red skirt below is the same as she's wearing in the first still above.
A very romantic look for Donna. Really in love with that blouse. 
I had to check and see how tall Lara Flynn Boyle (Donna) is to see how she's pulling off all of this fabric and the long skirts-- she's 5'6" (according to the internet), that's an inch taller than me, yet I know if I tried to recreate the first or last look above, I'd look so boxy (ah, to be slim!).
Speaking of height, Sherilyn Fenn is reportedly 5'4" and those knee skimming pleated skirts are quite flattering, I suppose that's something to keep in mind when I'm out shopping (though excessive length has never kept me from a pleated plaid skirt).


Okay, now that I've unnecessarily analyzed everyone's height, let's get to my favorite character and personal style icon: 
the Log Lady.

A log makes the best accessory, especially if it talks to you and foretells the future.


More chunky sweaters and plaid for the Log Lady, but check out her wooden brooch!

At first I thought this accessory, like the log, was reserved for the Log Lady, but while browsing stills at intwinpeaks.com (the source of all these images), I came across several shots of Lucy Moran wearing wooden brooches too.

I never would have thought to center a brooch like this, but it looks great!
Is that a clover? I love the different color leaves that dangle from it!

One of my favorite Lucy outfits. Gotta love those chunky sweaters.
A closer look at that wooden maple leaf she's wearing.

I guess I'll add wooden brooches to my shopping list along with short cardigans, chunky sweaters, vests, and lots of plaid.

 I think a move to [a quirky town] in the mountains might be necessary to make my fantasy Twin Peaks wardrobe wearable more than two weeks out of the year-- I'm more than willing to make that "sacrifice."




Ooh! And before I wish you all happy sailing, I just have to share this still I stumbled on from the Black Lodge-- check out Agent Cooper's excellent neck tie; such a departure from his usual, conservative neck wear. 
Such a fabulous tie, it reminds me of some of the 40s ties I rescued from Mrs. Bolton's. I do love a good necktie!

As much as I loved the story, the characters, and the fashion, I have to say I was a little disappointed at how the series ended. All that time establishing a relationship and setting up a traditional story arc between Agent Cooper and Audrey *spoiler alert* just to have him rescue a new, hastily introduced, love interest in the Black Lodge. 
It was dissatisfying and felt incomplete. 

That said, I am super excited that there a revival of the series in progress that will fulfill Black Lodge Laura Palmer's "I'll see you again in 25 years" prophecy. I can't wait to see if this time the ending is a little more satisfactory (and if Bob is still inhabiting Agent Cooper).


As always, until next time...

2.12.2016

Wild Green Vinyl

More than a year ago now, I was sitting on the living room floor of the apartment of an acquaintance who was getting ready to make the move to Japan (as so many Marine Corps families do).

It was her last night in town and she had heaped a huge pile of clothes on the floor near the door. As the night went on, I got the sense that this might be the reject pile-- the clothes that didn't make the cut and that wouldn't be moving overseas. I didn't know their fate, but knowing their owner, I assumed that most of these clothes would end up in the trash (oh, the American way!) but hoped she, at the last moment, would decide she couldn't bear leave her clothes behind and would somehow find room to take them with her.

After we said our goodbyes and left, blender in hand (she had two and didn't see the sense in moving both to Japan), I thought about this heap of clothes-- the wild green vinyl raincoat, the metallic pink jacket, and wished I would have spoken up and and saved a few pieces from the dumpster.



A few months later, while dining at a friends house, we were talking about how our common acquaintance was doing in Japan, when my friend said, "you should see all the stuff she left me-- makeup, nail polish, skin care items, and some clothes that I'll never wear; I was thinking of selling them, but maybe you'd like them?"

Lo and behold, the wild green vinyl raincoat and the metallic pink jacket had been saved after all! 

And from that night on, they lived happily-ever-after in my closet.




As bold as some of my fashion choices are, I must admit that this jacket is a bit out of my comfort zone. In pattern and color it is what I'd consider to be loud and, to top it off, it is made of such shiny and squeaky vinyl-- it practically screams look at me.

Of course, paired with my usual appearance, this ensemble had a feeling of being so over the top, but for a night out at a dive bar, it was fun and garnered a few curious compliments.

And, after an absolutely terrible week filled with the sudden loss of my beau's dear uncle, painful dental procedures and battling laryngitis/the cold of the century, this bit of frivolity was just what I needed-- too bad the night wound up requiring responsibility and a trip to the hospital (with me as the designated driver, not the patient).





Green vinyl raincoat -- Juicy Couture, by way of friends
Peter pan collar blouse-- Lands' End
Cardigan-- Relativity brand, JC Penney
Scarf-- Glentex (50s), thrifted
Belt-- borrowed from a vintage dress
Skirt-- Christy Girl (80s/90s), thrifted
Tights-- Hue
Shoes-- NOS Saddle shoes, bought online years ago (source forgotten)
Brooch-- "borrowed" from my mom

I suppose what is the most fun about this coat is that it is something I would never buy for myself. Being that it is Juicy Couture, and likely cost far beyond my $40 limit, it's a coat that, unless it was in a thrift store, I would have never seen, never bought and never been able to afford.

Being given clothing is like being given a challenge, you're taking a bit of someone else's style and figuring out how to incorporate it into your own.



As a kid, I got a lot of hand-me-downs from older cousins and the fashion-plate daughter of my parents' friends. I enjoyed getting her clothes, they were usually name brand and stuff we couldn't afford but that the popular kids might have worn at some point-- this was back when the idea of fitting in was still a concern.

I'd open each big black trash bag full of clothes with the hope that there was something inside that could transform me from the awkward outcast I was to the "it" girl of middle school.

There never was such a magic garment, thank goodness, but there was still the thrill of wearing someone else's clothes, as if with each "new" shirt or skirt I was trying on a different personality.




Being given the wild green vinyl raincoat and the metallic pink jacket (an outfit post for warmer weather) takes me back to those days of black trash bag hand-me-downs and cool kid castoffs.

I'm no longer hoping for a miraculous transformation, but I'm enjoying the opportunity to play dress up just the same.