Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Crashes In

Rather than her usual dignified and gently gradual arrival, spring's appearance here felt more like a teenager slamming through the front door and flinging herself dramatically on the couch, shouting "I'm HOME!" in case you somehow missed all the commotion. Two weeks ago, my pasture was snow covered at 28 degrees, followed by another week of mostly rain with temps in the high 30s, turning my pasture into a soggy gray-brown mess. A couple of days ago it was 74 degrees and sunny, followed by a couple of days of soft rain. There's green grass that's suddenly all over the place and some of the white-blossomed trees are already in bloom, but today we're under our first major thunderstorm alert with tornado watch at 78 degrees.

I wasn't ready for this kind of arrival. Although I knew logically that spring would be here any minute, this winter seemed eternal, and I was not ready for this Snow's Gone-I'm-Here-Right-NOW entrance. Consequently, I'm suddenly digging around for warm weather clothing, and our springtimes don't last very long so we could be into summer in nothing flat. Yikes.

Happily, I can now wallow in a satisfying fantasy of looking and feeling lighter and more optimistic after the weight of this last winter. To last winter's receding back I shriek, " ... and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!" I always look forward to winter's arrival, but am particularly relieved to see the back of this one.

Google Keep is a list-making app on my phone that I've been using to record notes on Spring Stuff that Appeals and Interests. This year especially, the array of retro ideas that designers are re-approaching is extra fascinating. I'm charmed with the idea of evolved versions of my old favorite statements and silhouettes. Since I'm old enough to have loved and worn earlier iterations, it's like personal validation to see them enjoyed and appreciated again, with fresh inspiration applied in current context. Feels good to know what was groovy then still shows some potential now ... just like me!

More playtime with old playmates, but with the advantage of hindsight. I have questions, though. The best part of fashion revivals is that they're not exactly the same as the first time around. So how, exactly, does that translate, and how, exactly, is the old good idea made new and better? Here's some of the ideas that interest me the most:

Consider implications of modern Boho elements.
I actually wrote that pretentious little exhortation to myself, but it's not a bad bit of advice to me from me. See, although I love the Romantic era as well as Bauhaus modernism, I have a hard time integrating them into a single visual idea. After a few seasons of fascination with more minimal silhouettes, my little soul is craving a bit of Boho. Maybe. Where do I put it, though, and how to play with it this time around? No set opinion on this just yet ... stay tuned.

Shoes! A broad subject always of interest to me with several elements:

1. Platforms ... shop the closet!
As a short woman, my joy at their renewed availability is palpable. And I'm smug that I didn't pitch my favorite ones in recent purges. Out they come.

2. Big, blocky heel sandals, lowish & high
These haven't been around much in recent seasons, and I'm happy to see them again. The first time around they felt rebellious, as we differentiated ourselves from our mother's stilettos. Nice to have both shapes playing nice in the store windows!

3. Mules
Here's evolution; I wouldn't have worn these on a bet when I was a younger woman. They had a louche quality to them when famously worn by bad-girl bombshell actresses of the late 50s, suggesting high-heeled bedroom scuffs, festooned with marabou pompoms. They've changed a lot and now look more modern and a bit tougher with a higher vamp or strappier versions with a chunkier heels. I like that remaining hint of their slightly sinful past along with what seems to my eye a more sophisticated, cooler construction. They've come a long way, baby, and I like the new iteration a lot.

4. Red sneakers ... just because.
Got 'um, love 'um. My size goes early, so very specific shoes are always a first seasonal purchase. So cute, I think. You'll see them soon. As Dan said, though, they're "very un-Jan-like" but that's probably the best reason to add them to my mix.

5. Nude Sandals and Shoes
I have several pairs of these, in different shapes and styles, all much admired but rarely worn. They go with everything, are said to lengthen the leg, but they always seem the second best choice. But with such a strong emphasis on neutral colors, I intend that this will be the spring-summer when I figure out how to best style them. I really want to know how to wear them to best effect. Any ideas, tips, rules I don't know or silly-wild-ass-guesses are welcome.

Graphic dress and shift dresses
Sewing projects!? Yes, I think so. Stay tuned. The two ideas combine in my imagination. I love the idea of a graphic print in a shift shape. A classic shape that is noticed again and welcomed with pleasure. Below, I recently pushed the season a bit and gave this bright shift it's first outing. Making it cower beneath a blazer and pairing it with work shoes isn't the best presentation, but you'll see it again in sleeveless comfort as the weather warms.

(Shift dress from JCPenny)

Long tunic tops / Asymmetric tops with leggings or skinnies
I love this look, and I love how easy it is to wear, dressed up or down. Especially with cute summer sandals. I'm all over this one, but I know when I'm this dizzy for a look, I'd better check twice in the mirror for proportions.

I welcome these back too, and I love the sleek, minimal ones. Maybe these are the elusive, summer-time Third Piece solutions to my personal style puzzle. A good style principle, but always a challenge in hot humid climes.

Suede? Really? Suede for summer?
Interesting. What if I made an easy Ultrasuede tunic or even just a minimalist top? (Not likely to see any of this in stores around here any time soon.)
A recent Dillard's sale netted a ridiculously low price on some light cognac-ish suede sandals that I adore, and that might about all I can manage for this intriguing idea.

Straight leg jeans
Here's where I have lots of questions. I dug out some "straight" leg jeans from my past, but nowadays they look like wide leg jeans. Terms have changed, shapes evolve, and I've found that a modern take on this cut is basically a skinny that is straight from the knee but not tapered to the ankle. That's what I'm using as a working definition while I figure out if these can be flattering on me or not.
Again, stay tuned.

(I'm serious.  I need some feedback about modern straight leg silhouettes and how to wear nude shoes to best effect.)


I'm heading over to the Inimitable Patti's at Visible Monday
Come see how spring is evolving for a whole lot of fabulous people!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Mojo Calls Home

Thanks so much to all of you who wrote and expressed sympathy for the loss of my mojo. I wanted to let you all know that she finally called very late last night!  She was happily inebriated and all giggly, declaring loudly that she was okay but not coming home until the weather warms up a lot, and that I'd just have to manage by myself for a while. She wouldn't tell me where she was calling from, but I could hear raucous laughter and steel drums and what I thought might be crashing surf in the background.  Of course, I checked caller ID but the number was blocked. Bitch.

What I want to know is where she got the money for a plane ticket.

So, I'm on my own for a bit but you deserve an update.

The weather here, like so many places, has been too rainy, snowy, windy or just plain cold to photograph outside.  So I finally got a bit of blank indoor wall space cleared where there is some decent light.  I sort of like the effect of the natural light, but I see that I'll need to devise some kind of fill light-reflector-thingy as the shadows intensify my wrinkles facial flaws a bit more than I'm thrilled with.  I'm comfortable with the better focus in my new camera showing more of them, but I'll be damned if I let them be exaggerated.  I'm getting better with the camera as well, so I haven't completely wasted the time away from the blog!

As you know, we mostly take these on our way out of the house when we head into the Big City for supplies.  This was on a miserably cold day, and on top of this I wore a big old coat, big old scarf, and fleece lined gloves. 

Photographing indoors invites more dog bombs.  Here you see our elderly boxer, Sophie, wondering why Mom is standing here all weird and posey-like.  She's also asking to go with us, but it was not to be.

Last weekend it warmed up considerably, and we had a very mild, 60ish-degree Sunday, so I decided to go all peep-toe in a pair of Ralph Lauren mules I lucked into.  Some recent closet diving netted my old minty trench ... I'm sorry that I wasn't able to capture its elegant, slightly shiny texture.
I have to remember to wear this outfit again.  Salespeople were amazingly attentive, like I had money or something. Had to be the coat.

.As one does this time of year, I've been feeling like the Goodyear blimp, so I'm pleased that these monster plaid pants don't look too bad.  Especially with my perfect-for-me, curvy and crisp white shirt.  I had a nice day wearing this outfit.

I'm off to begin catching up with all of you over at the Incredible Patti's Visible Monday !  I'll be over to check in as soon as possible.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Missing My Mojo

Sometimes I just loose track of my mojo, my moxie, my swagger, my game. Not for long, usually, but recently it's gone walkabout.

Mojo: "Self-confidence, Self-assuredness.  As in basis for belief in ones self in a situation ... ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative attitude." 
          Urban Dictionary Online

"A quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy"
        Cambridge Dictionary Online

In situations like this, the only reasonable thing to do is to show you photos of cats.

This is Lucy, one of my herringbone tabby sisters that let us live with them. It was taken in twilight, handheld, in very bad light with my shiny new camera that I'm trying to learn how to use. Pretty snazzy little zoom lens, not especially fast and therefore surprising in this low-light situation.

Our newest family member is Mi-ke ( close pronunciation Me-kay, Japanese for calico; "three fur"). She was born in our garage and is still so much a baby. Doesn't she have a great face?

This is not a cat, of course. It's me in an old London Fog trench-coat that I found while doing some closet diving. I paired it with black Pixie pants from Old Navy, a fairly recent Bisou-Bisou surplice blouse and some cute mules I finally found at good old Target.

I've not only mislaid my mojo, but I've lost my brick wall on my porch. The wall is still right where I left it, of course, but this new lens that I'm so fond of requires more distance than I have between me and a three foot drop off the porch. So I have to find a new place to make my shoot-and-run photos. I'm trying the north-lit garage front. Not ideal, but I persevere. I do like it that, along with the lovely sharp lens, this camera has a very nifty "soft focus" tool right in-camera ... and I don't feel even a little bit guilty about using it.

By the way, if you see my mojo wandering around, would you please tell it to come home? 


Even mojo-less, I can still find my way to the Always Sleek and Chic Patti's Visible Monday . Hope to see you over there!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Attitudinous Me

Attitudinous : "(informal) Having a bold and possibly unfriendly attitude; sassy."

Yes. That would be me on Sunday, still tired after a satisfyingly busy but unusually physically taxing Saturday night. I was not so much feeling unfriendly as fiesty-ish with a "mess with me today at your peril" approach to life and a warning to those who might cross my path while brandishing their own problematic attitude.  We woke up to a very cold and rainy-icy morning, and neither of us was roaring to hit the long road to the Big City, but hit the road we did.

My soggy little soul wanted my warmest and coziest coat; faux fur, not quite vintage, and one I pull out on days when I need to wrap myself in a little spirit-uplifting glamor as well as some substantial warmth. It has that 50's dress-up-fur-coat styling, and really needed a bit of toughening up with my highly attitudinous, lug-soled Ralph Lauren lace-up boots, and my big, old studded shopper. The sleeves need my ancient, long leather gloves for complete comfort in this weather, and my big, red and black plaid scarf just begged to complete the outfit, so I obliged. All old friends, all well used and all completely and reliably cozy on these coldest, dampest days.

It's nice to have some attitudinous pieces in the closet, just for days like this, 'cause if you are not completely up to showing the world a bold face, you can, at least, let your outfit hint at one.

(No, the hem isn't wonky. The coat is lined with soft, heavy satin and the big, wide sleeves allow it to slide around a bit ... I sort of like the louche, 70's-style attitudinous feel it gives to the whole get-up.)


WooHoo! Instant attitude improvement: It's Visible Monday  at the Voluntarily and Happily Unemployed Patti's link up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Guidelines Than Resolutions, Really ...

So many of my style-bloggy buddies don't make a pile of resolutions for the New Year. Imagine that! Old cultural customs die hard, but it might be time to rethink this traditional process that causes us to make long lists of lofty self-improvement goals that we may or may not even remember past the first week of January. It is telling that we usually embark enthusiastically on this hopeful project just after coming through a joyful-stressful Very Important Big Holiday season. We've just concluded an intense and often expensive family celebration, after which we ritually finalize the year with an often calorically rich, frequently boozy, and occasionally embarrassing New Year's Eve ritual. That's followed by a sometimes regret-filled New Year's day spent on the couch, recuperating from the always unintended excesses of the night before. It's then that we decide to re-assess everything.

Of course I'm not talking about YOU, dear reader. Perish the thought. I'm talking about almost everyone else.

I'm always drawn to the idea of "doing better this year," but I just can't take it too seriously. As you may know from last week's post, I dance around the commitment that it takes to grimly impose FIRM RESOLVE on a goal (hello, instant failure) by softening the commitment level to a more gentle and foible-forgiving aspiration.

So far, here is my list of wardrobe and style improvements that I may or may not accomplish in 2015, and for which I certainly will not feel even a moment's self-loathing if I forget it all by spring.

1. Keep my end of the closet tidier.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. I always imagine how that might be done, but rarely get past a half-hearted seasonal weeding. Frankly, the most effective way of gaining more usable space for myself is to pester convince Dan to clean out his end. Poor baby. He is saintly in his tolerance.

2. This is the year that I transform our extra room into my dressing room.
Speaking of Dan, I need to pester urge him, somehow, into lots of help in making this aspiration a reality, and sooner than later. We talk about it a lot, but it's always in the planning stages. I need to remind him that he could have our whole bedroom closet all to himself if I had a whole room for my wardrobe, including shoes and accessories. Would I resort to bribery? Oh, yes. Of course.

3. Keep adhering to the "Love It or Leave It "rule that worked so well last year.
It's always good to put at least one fail-proof aspiration in your list. It's especially effective to aspire to something you've already largely accomplished or perfected. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and be proud to claim it again.

4. Seriously, renew your commitment to closet diving and constant remixes.
Some of my best outfits lately have been new/old match-ups. It's masses of fun, and very satisfying. Remember that all my pre-pixie cut items look very different on me now, so let them see some sunshine.

5. This year, remember to be my own best style adviser.
Old age is a wonderful time to rely on the personal taste you've been constructing for a bunch of decades. Taste, at it's best, can evolve and change but still define your best core aesthetics.

6. Take the time to write scorching letters to style and fashion institutions, blogs, magazines and individuals that are dismissive/insulting/condescending or just ignorant about how older women actually still have and maintain style lives.
Not much feels as good as punching that "send" button. Join me in this one, if you like. We should start a movement.


On another subject entirely ...
I have a lot of coats. You will see more of them in the coming weeks. Winter always seems short when it comes to getting all the chances that I'd like to wear some of my favorite wardrobe staples. The outfit underneath always seems more important, somehow. But for two nights in a row last week, I had anxious dreams ... not quite nightmares, but more like quandary-solving dreams ... about styling a particular coat I haven't worn in a couple of years.
I have no idea why I dreamed of this coat. To dream of a particular article of clothing one night seems like mere stage-setting for my usual subconscious issue-processing during sleep. But two nights? In a row? That's a clear sign to make a blog photo of it.

The plaid is a dark purple, black and cream.  The cut is sort of retro-swing, and it does move beautifully when I walk. It's Nine West, and a couple of years old.  Aren't these the prettiest shaped shoes?  And such a great color ... from Gianni Bini, like my boots from last week.


I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful beginning to 2015.
Late Breaking: Joining up at Patti's Visible Monday ... I also hope you come with me to see what we're all up to!