Monday, September 30, 2013

Keeping My Cool ... Then Remembering Where I Put It

As I write, it looks like fall has finally decided to visit western Mid-Nowhere. The sky is gray, deep in clouds that brought us some very welcome rain yesterday, and the cooler-looking looking skies are a relief from the sun-pounded days of our summer.

But looks can be deceiving. It's also almost 80% humidity and the temperature will reach 80° F (or, not quite 27° C) in the next couple of hours. And I'm trying to figure out what to wear to the Big City where I will be until evening when it's due to drop 15 degrees.

There are things I love about summer dressing, and I'm always invigorated when fall-winter "coat weather" begins, but this is a problematic time. It feels weird to go summery and sleeveless, but it's too warm for even a light jacket, much less a coat. Until I need it after the sun goes down.

But for once ... I'm on top of it. I got it covered. Or me covered. And I've managed to avoid just throwing on a cardi. Cardigans are wonderful tools for transitional seasons, but not all cardigans are created equal. But one of my personal prejudices is that I think they can sometimes look a little extra-elderly on me now that I'm of advanced age. This impractical peculiarity of mine comes from memories of my little maternal grandmother; silver-blue haired, stooped and fragile. She always had to have her sweater. We'd all be piled in the car, heading somewhere to enjoy a summer family event, and someone would be sent back to get the sweater, just in case it miraculously cooled off. And just about as often, we'd have to double back to retrieve what my grandfather called "that damned sweater" that Granny had forgotten and left behind.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I apply this caveat to no one but me! This is not meant as a rule or suggestion for anyone. This is just my own issue. I know I'm not yet in Granny's physical state of decrepitude. And I constantly note fabulous looking women of my age and older running around, all cute in their cardigans. I think, though, that since there are style options for even us seriously advanced citizens, we ought to sometimes apply them.

Look at it this way. Young hipster guys are sometimes seen in "grandpa cardigans" and a bow tie. It's a look. Put that on a bona fide old man, and you have a whole different gestalt. Some looks can define you in ways that might not be optimum for your self-image. Just saying.

Like I said above, though, I got it covered. Look, a faux-leather cardi! Or a leather-cardigan hybrid. Whatever you call it, this little Willi Smith item will be just the ticket later in the evening when I need it over this silky little shirt!

Granny wouldn't have touched this kind of sweater with a ten-foot pole.

(Update ... Monday afternoon, just before posting: I went looking for that cool-cardi this morning, and I found I'd forgotten it in the back of the car that Dan took to work this morning. Yikes. I can hear Granny laughing, and it's more than a little creepy. )

Monday, September 23, 2013

Slouchy Pants Redux and Cud Chewing

I'm a ruminator. One of the behaviors that identifies a ruminator is that they habitually latch onto a thought or concern and worry it into a much larger issue than it ought to be. And just when you think you should be done with it, you find yourself chewing on it again. And again. Just like a real ruminant, a cow chewing her cud.

One of my favorite special tidbits that I like to chew on until I'm furious is an edict a piece of advice ordered by offered from a 20 or 30-something fashion editor to us matured women: don't wear a style if you wore it when it was around the first time.

I fell into the old rumination cycle while I was pressing a new hem into the printed pants you see below. As I eased the slightly tricky hem of these soft pants that narrow at the ankle, I was reminded that I had done this often before, in another decade, when we were all wearing pegged pants.
That thought led to the above mentioned stupid advice. And that thought led me to remember just how many decades I have been looking at clothes and how they're worn and all the decisions I've made about them.

I've been around the block a time or two, and seen a lot of style come and go, and come back around yet again.

The 50's ...
I was born in 1950, so although I was a child during this decade, I saw a lot of fashion on my mother and especially my grandmother-the-tailor (you can read about her HERE.)  I remember desperately wanting a poodle skirt ( a circle skirt with an appliqued French poodle on the front ) so I was paying attention. I remember these fashion ideas as popular ones; fit and flare, circle skirts, shirtwaist dress, motorcycle jackets, pointy-toe pumps, cute flats, leopard print, denim, wide belts, peplums, bobby socks and oxfords.

The 60's ...
As a teenager, my style world was rocked by the Beatles and the British Invasion, Twiggy, Courrèges and the mini skirt, anything Mod or Rocker, as well as these ideas; color blocking, preppie looks, Madras plaids, anything "flower-child" or bohemian, denim, knee high boots.

The 70's ...
For me, this time marked the worst of the Vietnam Era (continuing from the mid-60s and the end of the war in 1975). Lots of politics in ideas about clothing. Style ideas included; minis (still), midis, maxis, a-line and pleated skirts, wide leg pants and flares, pantsuits, jumpsuits, more denim, especially high-waisted jeans and bell-bottoms. Wedges, platforms, knee high boots (still), over-sized sunglasses, camo, psychedelia and graphic prints.

The 80s ...
This was my Art School Era and I was thinking about leggings, high-waisted jeans (still), tulle skirts, more motorcycle jackets, neon, layers, underwear as outerwear, 18th century military jackets (New Romantic anything), slouchy and harem pants, pegged jeans, punk anything.

The 90s ...
Out in the world in Seattle I saw grunge anything, flannel, plaid, baseball caps (forward and backward), ripped jeans, leggings (still), Doc Martins, flatforms, platforms (again), overalls, animal prints (again), denim (still), moto jackets (again), menswear blazers.

The 00s ...
The Aughties were marked by lots of change (straight leg jeans and skinnies) but also lots retro looks; leggings (still), knee high and thigh-high boots (again and still), platforms(still), wedges (still), flatforms (again and ew!), blazers (still), minis (again and still), camo (again).  Here in Arkansas, lots of stuff just leftover from the 90's.

The Present 10s ...
All 00s, most of the 90s, and quite a lot from the other eras above in one form or another.

Here's the big point, if any of you youngsters still believe the stupid advice we still have shoved at us from time to time. Women my age have seen it ALL before. Given all the stuff I tried, or could have tired and rejected the first time around, my question for those edict-issuing young editors is this: just what do you think I should be wearing? Bustles? A toga?

Any cud worth chewing is generally swallowed by the ruminant. Human ruminators like me always have the option of swallowing whatever it is that's fretting them, or spitting it out. So finally, in the spirit of finally exorcising this particular source of reoccurring annoyance I reply:

Ptooey ! " (Splat.)

So here I am in slouchy pants redux. They are happening in lots of lengths, but I'm grateful that I'm seeing them in a longer length. So much nicer on my squatness petite frame. I would have worn these the first time around with big, swoopy hair, a pair of platforms, a blouse with some serious shoulder and perhaps a wide belt. 

Here's that peplum I promised to show from last week's strange experience at Target and 3.1 Phillip Lim! I like it with these soft, drapey pants.


Popping over to join the Still Summery Patti at Visible Monday  Come over and see what's up, why don't 'cha !

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Private Show ... 3.1 Phillip Lim at Target!

Although September 22nd is the first official day of fall, my own personal fall style-season has already arrived. At 5:30 Sunday morning when my alarm went off, my quest for a few fall pieces began with our very early trip to the Big City Target for the 8:00 launch of the Phillip Lim 3.1 collaboration.

For at least two months, I've been seeing the glossy ads for this, even in all the ginormous fall issues of the Big Important Fashion Magazines. Target spent some bucks on this. Articles touted it as the most talked about collaboration since the Missoni debacle of the previous year. (A debacle only for customers who wanted merchandise that was instantly sold out to crowds and never replenished. Target and presumably Missoni did just dandy.) I've been a fan of Lim's really interesting handbag designs for a while, but only a fan as they are generally beyond my budget by a couple of digits. The big deal about the bags for Target is that they are very like his nearly-iconic-It bag-status "Pashli", but not complete knock-offs of his own more rarefied line. More like companion pieces. What a good idea for EveryWoman like me!

At the very same time Dan and I were hustling our sleepy selves into the car so we could make it to town in time to queue up if we needed to, stores in an earlier time zone were already selling out of dresses, sweaters, tops, pants and especially bags. As I'm writing this there are articles like the one in the Los Angeles Times  by Tiffany Hsu, wherein she describes the line of shoppers waiting and the mini-melee that ensued when the coveted handbags ran out of stock and restocking was attempted. Bloggers from the east coast began reporting that handbags where out of stock online and in stores an hour after store opening. The clothes went fast, but the handbags were, as expected, the stars of the show and disappeared even more quickly.

Photo by Erin Yamagata, Uptown Target, NYC ... see street-style pictures and notes by editor Annie Georgia Greenberg at the Refinery 29 site.

We arrived at about 7:50 and pulled in to an almost empty parking lot. At 8:00 we wandered into the store, all by ourselves. We found one lone employee, hanging a few things on a rack that I recognized from the Lim group. There were only about about eight items from the dozens of items available in Lim's clothing line. ( Rats.) No bags. None. (Double-Rats.) As I was picking out the items I wanted to try for size, I chatted with the young woman leisurely putting out the few items from the collection. I asked about bags, and she pointed at a big pile of huge boxes, all packed with the Lim bags, just waiting to be opened.

I need to call the store today and brag on this nice young lady. She obligingly called another very nice young lady and together they opened the boxes as Dan and I watched, effectively giving us a private showing and lavish choice of all the bags in the collection. They dutifully opened boxes until I found just what I wanted. Both colors!

The dress I had my heart set on was there, but after trying it on I wasn't thrilled or even pleased, so I didn't buy it.

The dress looks like it hangs softly on the model in all the ads, but it's made of very crisp, almost canvas-like fabric that stands away from the body in awkward ways. It's proportioned for a much taller woman, and the back of this dress ended at the top of my calves, and the waist about mid-hip. Sad. I love this print.

However, the same fabric worked a treat on a zip-up peplum shell that fit very nicely.

 (Yessss! I bought this, but no pics of me yet ... too tired to try to make photos. So many possibilities to combine it with, 
so watch this space)

And the print was repeated on a flowy, georgette-like fabric shirt, and I'm happy with the way it hangs from the interestingly cut shoulder. (Happy me. Bought this one, too, and look forward to trying this in several ways. There's a teaser in the title pic at the top of this post.  But for the full treatment ... again, watch this space as well! )

I also bought a navy circle skirt that is just the right length for me, but a mini on the models. Sometimes it works out that way for me, sometimes not.

 The one piece that I really wanted to try on was a navy and black tuxedo jacket, but our store isn't big enough to warrant this item, it seems. Never mind, I'll find one that will probably fit better later on, somewhere else.  (Harrumph.)

After I picked out my pieces, Dan and I wandered around for another few minutes, picking up every-day staples that we usually buy at Target. When we left, there were still no other shoppers for the collaboration. I know it seems a little ( or a lot) silly that a woman my age would be so enthusiastic about a Big-Box experience like this one. In a place where not much of any consequence for the world at large ever happens, these little experiences allow me to participate in the smallest way with other women in the world who look at and think about design, care about the process and don't have the resources to respond to current ideas and dress like we might wish. Just a little good design at a really affordable price comes our way only once in a while, and because it is rare, it has meaning for me when it appears.

So, sad little events like these are what keep me connected to the larger world, even if I'm the only one at the party. Frankly, lucky me. 

I had fun!


Linking up with the lovey and talented Elena Fey at her Monday Bloom  linky-party today!

Monday, September 9, 2013

One Year in My Corner of the Blogiverse


Ta Daaa! This is my 1st Blogiversary week. The first issue of Fort Smith Stylista was published September 6, 2012 and I've made it an entire year. So many changes since the beginning! I initially focused on a local readership, but that lasted about a month. That just didn't happen ... not much call for style-talk in our little area, it seems.

My local physical world is pretty small. The choices we've made here to be with our animals and business tie us down pretty tightly. Dan and I don't get out and about at all beyond our local Big Town, and we live 45 minutes away from there. I've been around a bit in terms of distance, and lived in some pretty cool places, but because of the accident of birth and other people's priorities. Not so much because of my own choices.

As a much younger woman, I chose the elements of my formal education to gain an appreciation of a much broader world than my own, to be put to good use when I would be able to travel, finally. I'm not quite ready to give up that goal completely, but I haven't yet made it to many of the exotic places I've dreamed of seeing.

This year, though, through the efforts of other women (and a couple of fellas) I'll probably never meet, I've seen places that I'll likely never see in person. And I've found sisters in style-spirit whose like I simply cannot find here where I live. What I have found endlessly cool is the fact that I have readers in at least seven countries ( real faces with minds attached, not just robots!) and I am and always will be blown completely away by that. Many of you who share so much with me are right here in the US; it's a big place and I'm thrilled to learn more about our amazing diversity through your own blogs.

Without your writing, your thoughts and stories and pictures, your daily coming and going and dressing up and down, your pets and your kids, I'd never have found out how much we all have in common. And I've learned massive amounts about how our differences can help me continue to grow at even my advanced age!

Getting to know all of you would have been a much longer, more difficult process without the help of the divine Patti, hostess of her Visible Monday  gatherings and author of her always beautiful and thoughtful blog, Not Dead Yet Style. Thank you, Patti, for helping me stay visible. I thought about listing all of the blogs that I read often and personally thanking all of you, but sure as hell, I'd miss someone important to me. So I rely on those of you who listen to me ramble on a regular basis to know who you are. I'm sending all my thanks to those of you who patiently read what I write in your comments sections. And I'm sending even more thanks to those of you who take the time to read and comment here.

It's not my blogging that thrills me, it's yours.

In the coming year, I plan to continue trying to entertain and look forward to being entertained. I hope my personal style will continue to evolve, and I know I'll be learning from what you choose to show us of yours. Thank you for including me in your worlds. It's just what I've always wanted.

Heading off to Popped Collar Patti's Party ... Visible Monday to celebrate, now.  Join me!

Monday, September 2, 2013

So, This Is What Happened ...

Those of you who have been here before will probably note that I've chopped off my hair. Here's what happened ...

On Thursday evening last, I decided to make a huge jug of hibiscus-raspberry iced tea to put in the refrigerator so it would be all lovely and icy cold when I wanted some. Besides thinking of pre-cooled convenience, I was feeling all motivated to have something seriously healthy and really good for me there to drink instead of my fave diet ginger-ale. Yummy, but not absolutely healthy.

But while I was pouring the just boiled water and bulk tea leaves in a strainer, the strainer tipped toward me, spilling the very, very hot water and very, very hot tea leaves all over my right wrist, top and bottom. I screamed very, very loudly.  When I got my wrist cooled down and iced up, I had a little cry ... mostly adrenalin fueled ... ruefully aware of how unhealthily my attempt at healthiness had turned out on this occasion.

By Friday evening, it felt quite a lot better, and didn't look too bad. I'd almost forgotten about it when I was removing dinner plates from a table of four diners when one of them simply could not wait for me to make a second trip back for her empty plate. She was all but waving the plate at me from across the table and I reached for it, stupidly allowing my ultra-heat-sensitive wrist too near the lit candle at the center of the table. Owwww! I leaned forward to balance as I pulled my hand clutching the pile of plates toward me, and WHOOOSH!  Locks of hair fell forward, too near the candle and a largish chunk of the front ends of my hair sizzled off, along with the tip ends up the side of my face and part of my bangs. My face wasn't burned at all, but the smell of burnt hair and Elnett filled the room. Humiliation at my own stupidity followed instantly.

I was too tired to do more than rinse off the singed ends when we got home, but I could smell burnt hair all night.

While I drove Dan in to the restaurant the next morning, I silently argued the options with myself about what to do about the side of my hair with the singed ends and missing bangs.  Trim it myself? Part it on the other side and do a comb over? My hair stylist was an hour away in the Big City and, on Saturday morning, booked up for sure. Working that evening in the current, asymmetrically fried state was not an option. What to do?

As we drove through the minuscule village where our restaurant is located, I remembered that there was a tiny salon right next to the only real grocery store. I noted that all the parking in front of the salon was taken. I made a deal with myself and the Universe right then that if there was a parking space available right in front of the salon on the way back, I'd pull in and at least see if they could help.

There was a spot, right in front of the door. One of the only two chairs was vacant, but the nice lady squeezed me in. So I now have a chin-length bob that I had not expected to have.

I've decided to like it, since not liking it won't help.   I've been wishing a change of some kind, and my own klutziness made it happen sooner than I imagined. Be careful of non-specific yearnings for change, because (paraphrasing the Rolling Stones lyric) might not get what you want, "but you get what you need." It's an ill wind that blows no good, it seems.

So that's what happened.

Have a nice Labor Day evening.