Thursday, February 28, 2013

Liebster Award: From Donna at Pretty Sparkly Things ...

The lovely Donna, from her stellar blog Pretty Sparkly Things, has generously nominated me for the very fun Liebster Award. The award given to up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. No one knows where it came from or who started it, but it's an interesting and fun thing to participate in.

Thank you Donna, both for the Award and for your almost-divine patience in waiting for me to respond. I encourage the world at large to hop quick over to Donna's and check out all the major prettiness!
Here's the way this thing works:

Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
Write 11 random facts about yourself
Answer the 11 questions written by the person who nominated you
Nominate 11 other bloggers
Write 11 questions for the other bloggers to answer
Here goes! Eleven Random Facts About Me

1. I'm an animal lover ... any animal at all can capture my heart.

2. I don't have a favorite color. Really. I can't pick just one.

3. I am married to the most amazing man who is way too good for me.

4. But I don't want him to find that out that I think that.

5. I love music by so many people, but currently am listening to a lot of The Jacques Loussier Trio (jazz that takes off from the Baroque composers,) Bruno Mars, Train, Fun and Florence and the Machine.

6. I wear size 6.5 shoes and they are almost all high-heeled.

7. I blog in my jammies. (Doesn't everyone?)

8. I like pink gold the best ( Are you reading this, Man Who Is Too Good For Me?)

9. I'm a political Liberal that has tested out just a little left of Ghandi.

10. I'm really yearning for a tulle skirt. Black.

11. I am on pins and needles waiting for the season premier of Game of Thrones.


Donna's Questions for her Nominees (including me!)

1.What blog post would you write if you could do ANYTHING?
Pretend that you'd have money, great camera and lighting equipment (if necessary), as many assistants as you needed, you could be anywhere, and you'd look great in any type of clothing.
     Easy. I'd write a very long, rambling post on the 3 months the Huz and I spent in Europe (with all our dogs, of course) following our big bazillion dollar lottery win. I'd feature all the beautiful duds we bought with special emphasis on leather goods. From Tuscany, of course. Sigh.

2.What color clothing do you have the most of?
     Black, unsurprisingly. Depressingly.

3.Have you done any collaborations yet?
     No, but I've got one planned. No details ... that would be telling.

4. What are your hobbies?
     My blogging, my current obsession with my tablet and Sketchbook Pro, and lots of reading.

5. What subjects do like to read about?
     Right now? Steampunk fiction, some of what falls under the category of Literary Fiction, detective fiction, Jane Austin fan fiction (keep that one under you hat, please) and a surprising amount of solid history.

6. What are your favorite TV programs, if you watch TV?
     Elementary, any version of Masterpiece, BBC version of Sherlock Holmes, The Stephanie Miller Show, Modern Family, The Neighbors, Touch and all the CSI versions. Also, anything on Acorn TV, a subscription service for British programming.

7.What makes you the happiest about your blog?
     Really, the comments. Nice to know that someone is getting something from it.

8. Do you have any pet peeves about blogs? Is there something that makes you decide NOT to read a blog post?
     Yes, but my reasons are so politically incorrect that I don't dare detail them. The answer to the second part is the same as the answer to the first. Yes, I am a complete coward.

9. What social media do you like the best? (there can be more than one)
     Facebook, I suppose. I'm not crazy about it, though.

10. Do you like reading about celebrity fashion?


Why or why not? 

     I do like to see what the increasing number of actresses over 50 are wearing. Gives me hints about age appropriateness, which is a challenging subject all on it's own. If Angelica Huston would be seen in it, I feel okay about it. And some of what Helen Mirren wears, and although I admire her enormously, none of what Meryl Streep wears.

11. Is there anything that you wish that you could do more of with your blog?
     Yes, lots of things. But the main one is this: I originally started out to try to reach a local audience. That's much more difficult than I thought it would be ... much easier to reach a larger audience of grown-up women who are far away but with similar tastes and concerns. I'd like to be able to have local readers as well. Odd, isn't it?

*My Nominations ...

1. Debbi at  She Accessorizes Well 
2. Rebecca at Grown Up Plus 
3. Kemia (hope I got that right) at Beauty, Style and Growth
4. Kim at In My Forties & In Style  
5. Sara at 365 Days of Sara Style  
6. Carrie at Expressive Style 
7. Alyssa at Matchy Matchy Midlife 
8. Lisa at Dreams n Wishz
9. Sara at LifeStyle Over 40 
10. Sheila at Style Agent 909
11. Trina at Tea Time with Trina

*Darling Nominees: If you have done this and don't want to do it again, please feel free to ignore. If you are too busy, too shy, too anything, and just don't want to play, I understand absolutely! And if you want to wait months to play, be my guest ... catch up with us later, and at your convenience. Just know I admire your blogs and wish you all well!
My Eleven Questions for My Nominees:

1. Who is your style hero-role model-doppelganger-influence? 
     (As many as you'd care to mention)

2. What's your favorite media delivery of your fashion-fix?

3. When you dine out, what's your favorite destination?

4. If you had to choose just one word to describe your personal style, what would it be.
     (Okay, make it three words if you want. )

5. Do your hobbies have anything to do with what you do/did for a living?

6. Tell me all about you pets. Please?

7. What's the cutest/sweetest thing you husband/wife/significant other ever did for you?

8. Current favorite song, please?

9. Heels or flats, and why?

10. Dresses or pants, and why?

11. What is the very first thing you'd buy for yourself if you had a winning Power Ball ticket?
     ( We know you'd buy for everyone else first ...)

Thanks again, Donna. And thanks in advance to those of you who decide to come out and play!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trying to Get Comfy with Leopard ...

The women in the family of my youth never EVER wore leopard print. The combined opinion of my mother and two grandmothers was that only girls of questionable character ( fast girls, cheap girls, easy girls, tacky girls ... bad girls generally) wore leopard.

Am I the only one who was taught this?

It's certainly not news to anyone reading this post that leopard had been in serious revival for several years now. I never thought it would last, and boy, was I wrong about that! Of late, I'm seeing even more of it, and in all colors and in every kind of clothing. And on women of the absolute highest character and stiffest moral fiber. It has clearly transcended it's seedy reputation, if it ever actually had one. Maybe the women in my family were just that style-repressed.

Let me be clear: I absolutely understand that leopard print is something that I should just ignore if it makes me uncomfortable. And that would be the sensible thing to do. However, it's everywhere. Everywhere. And it just grates on me that I'm squeamish about a piece of fabric. So, face what bugs you, right?

I decided to take a brief sashay down memory lane, and take a look at who wore leopard and why it so was so dangerous and it so upset my foremothers.

Well, yeah. I get this one. Famous pinup Betty Page was hard to compete with for pure animal magnetism. Yikes.

Ava Gardner presents a less primal sort of heat, but still, there's no mistaking the message.

Jayne Mansfield held aloft by Mickey Hargitay. Not much equivocation here either. Nope. Not only did one need to be curvy, but athletically gifted as well. I can see why a woman like this might intimidate Mom and the grandmas. 

And Marilyn Monroe, of course. 
I'm beginning to see a pattern here.

For me, the most memorable leopard-wearing lady was the wondrous Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. I was an unsophisticated seventeen year old in 1967, the year I saw The Graduate.

She wasn't just wearing leopard lingerie as she stalked poor, flummoxed Dustin Hoffman. She was a leopard. Completely predatory. Talk about a woman wearing the clothes instead of clothes wearing the woman.

But then, there are the mixed messages sent by some leopard wearers. For example, here's one of the eternally virginal Sandra Dee. 

Rizzo may have underestimated her a little. But still, she's a long way from being overtly sexy.

And then things even became more confusing when women like Jackie Kennedy wore leopard. When you consider that part of the lure of leopard was it's exotic expensiveness, her choice gives another completely different vibe to the pattern.

But if there was one woman who could out-ladylike Jacqueline Kennedy, it was Audrey Hepburn. And when she wore leopard, it became the complete opposite of tacky-tawdry. Full circle.

It's clear that you can't judge a woman by her spots, so to speak.

Perhaps my comfort levels will increase if I find a way to try just a little bit of leopard, but still keep it at arm's length ...

Taaadaaa! Nope, not real leopard. Just teddy-bear fur. Not even a real Fendi, nor a complete knock-off. Just "inspired by".

I'll let you know if my character gets ruined.

On another subject entirely ...
I have the wonderful Pao at Project Minima to thank for an introduction to the very interesting young ladies, Salizar and Jess who produce Style Imitating Art, which is not so much a place as a movable feast of inspiration. They choose a piece of art, and encourage others to respond to it.

This time they chose an untitled lithograph by American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt.

Here's my response to it.

See what others submitted tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/26) at Jess' place, Animated Cardigan 


I'm linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style .  I know her to be a woman of impeccable taste and the highest character.  She wears leopard.  'Nuff said. 

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring Thinking

Is it time for the winter to spring "transitional" wardrobe yet? Please, can it come out to play?

Our Shopping Day was freezing at mid-morning, literally at 32 degrees. The Huz and I dressed in our customary layers to make the considerable schlep to the Big City. Scarves and sweaters, t-shirt and camisole (respectively) scarves, boots, socks and gloves. By the time we got into town, the weather had warmed at least 20 degrees. There were girls in bare legs and summer dresses, I swear to you.
More than one. I was uncomfortable and sweaty, but these young women had goosebumps on every exposed limb. However, I watched them with more than a little empathy, because in them I recognized my sister Uber-Optimists. If I had known that the temperature was going to climb, I would have dug out a dress or filmy top that I hadn't seen since late last summer, just like they did. It's a kind of magical thinking ... that if you bring out your spring wardrobe, the weather will cooperate.

Of course, we know it won't. But it's the time of year (at least here) when cold mornings turn into balmy afternoons with happily increasing frequency. By the same token, it can still get uncomfortably cold uncomfortably quickly! Our springs here last for a precious few minutes, moving directly into triple-digit heat that lasts until fall is well underway. Accordingly, our spring is highly valued.

So, since it's much closer the the Vernal Equinox than the last Winter Solstice and the first day of spring just over a month away, it's absolutely time to start pulling out the spring stuff, and plan and dream about additions. And remember a coat, of course. Transitional wardrobe time!

So, my spring planning and purchasing began with a few pieces from the Prabal Gurung-Target collaboration that hit stores last week. The Huz agreed with surprisingly good grace to make the 7:15 (A.M. !) start time, play chauffeur, and serve as cart and purse watcher.
As usual, our little old country store got far fewer goodies than larger stores, but I found what I wanted before all the late-but-better-rested ladies got there.

Besides more summery pieces, I found a pretty floral print tee that worked just right with a Cynthia Rowley silk scarf in an abstract print that I already had. I love it when that happens! With jacket and colored jeans ... Ta-da! A transitional ensemble!

Late as always, I'm linking up with the adorable hostess Patti and all the amazing presenters at Visible Monday!

Have a great spring inspired Week!

As I write, it is 34 degrees and snowing.  So, perhaps not quite the day to banish any of my winter-wear to seasonal storage.  Clearly, wishful thinking cannot have a demonstrable effect on the weather.  But if I were a less enlightened climate observer, I would suspect that Mother Nature is telling me to cool my jets for a few more weeks.  Just saying.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wherein I Rave about "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible" ...

I love all things style-wonkish, and I always want to read more, go deeper, and examine it all more closely when it comes to articles about fashion concept and theory. I want to find out what people are thinking or feeling when they design, buy, or style a particular garment. Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible ( by Tim Gunn and Ada Calhoun, published by Gallery Books, 2012) is a deeply satisfying dose of creative nosiness for inquisitive people like me. And I am such a Tim Gunn fan.

Do you remember the scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Miranda Priestly lectures the style-challenged Andrea on the design history of a cerulean blue sweater? (You haven't seen The Devil Wears Prada ? Seriously? Okay ... you can watch a clip of the scene HERE  .) This little book is about that, and a lot more. It's all about the fashion genealogy of every item of clothing we own, and that's a lot for one little book to accomplish.

Beginning from the year dot to the present day, right down to the contents of your very own closet, Gunn and Calhoun trace the forebearers of each item you own. You will learn whether your taste in dresses is more like Cleopatra's or that of Helen of Troy. You'll learn about the bodices, sleeves, waists, menswear, military boots and pointy-toed shoes of the past, and how much we owe to history for our contemporary style. The book details how, throughout the centuries, silhouettes have narrowed or widened, hems and heel heights have gone up and down, depending on war, famine, exploration, technology or just the whim of a king insecure about his height.

By the way, it's not just for women only. For a change, the authors include ample history of how men's fashion developed. How else can we fully consider the politics of gender without at least a brief look at how the adoption of men's clothing has changed the world for women? And who among us has not lost sleep fretting about the proper way to choose and wear a pocket square?

The pictures are on the small side, but what they lack in size they make up for in frequency. Every time I began to wish for an illustration of a particular historical example, the very thing would appear. The authors have successfully made this book entertaining as well as informative, and the illustrations are a big part of the book's appeal.

I think the name of the book is problematic, as it seems to me to suggest that it offers unbreakable fashion commandments, issued from somewhere on high. It really doesn't do that, but it does broaden our understanding of why the history of what we wear is relevant. It's certainly authoritative in that sense. There are concluding chapters that address the contents of most modern closets, and why it's useful, interesting and fun to consider the contents of your own closet in the context of fashion history. The book also touches on the modern history of the fashion industry, how it affects us as consumers and how to use that knowlege for a better shopping experience. Lovers of the new and innovative will enjoy this fascinating history, but recyclers, repurposers, thrifters and vintage collectors will adore it.

We are used to seeing Mr. Gunn in the role of fashion mentor (and former department chair of fashion design at Parsons) of "Make it work!" fame on Project Runway. His self-described, urban fashion nerdy-ness comes out here in his serious treatment of the resources needed to examine the subject. He and Ms. Calhoun have carefully footnoted and fully cited their source materials. That may not constitute biblical authority, but it is the proper way to present research, and it gives an interested reader direction for an even more in-depth study of the subject.  I really LOVE that a lot.

So, every time I pull out my trench coat, my blouse with Raglan sleeves, my Eisenhower jacket or choose from my Cowboy, Wellington, English Riding or Cavalry inspired Over-the-Knee boots, I will be more aware of what I'm saying about myself through my choices. If you are the kind of nerdy, fashion-wonk, history-loving kind of woman to whom this is important, you really need to read this book. (And if you have bothered to read this far, you just might be.)


Please join me at the amazing Patti's (Historically Significant) Visible Monday !

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Toys ... Back ASAP!

I'm taking the week off from wagging on about my views on style and other related subjects that I am equally unqualified to address.  I've got NEW TOYS  that I am learning to use to illustrate my opinions and ideas.(Alright, I've used them for an excuse for a couple of weeks already.)  I expected a little shorter learning curve.   But I was, as I so often am, mistaken.  I should know by now that one of my favorite corollaries to Murphy's Law still holds true: anything I attempt takes twice as long as I think it will.  I have no idea whether or not the results will be worth the effort, but I am sure having a great time trying. 

You are invited to stay tuned.  My plan is to see you all again on or before Monday, February 11th!
Thanks for stopping by!