Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Minimal Me

Just a dress I love.
With me in it.
With a waist, for a change.
No big whoop.
No, this isn't haiku.

Dresses are the best thing about summer.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spring Lust List 2014 ... Update!

Back in late March, I posted my strategy for freshening up my spring wardrobe. So far so good, but as with even the best of plans, some strategic adjustments were warranted.

Shoes: Since my size goes fast, I got busy early and I have been lucky enough to find the requisite bargains in mid-heel ankle-strap pumps and sandals. I'm extra pleased that they work with dresses as well as they play with trousers and jeans, and help keep my closet staples from previous years looking fresh. I'm happy I took a risk and tried them in spite of the conventional wisdom about short girls with short legs and the evils of ankle straps.

I've found that two pairs of pastel shoes are plenty (pink and mint). I'm happier with more saturated colors and neutrals. Fun to be able to play a little, though. And although I was adamant when I started seeing them about this year that I wouldn't wear white shoes on a bet, I've found a pair of little white D'Orsay pumps that are delicate and flattering and summery. Sometimes being wrong can be delightful!

Still haven't found the replacement go-to plain black pumps, but have decided to wait for fall. Just not in the mood.

No dressy mules (that's a picture, isn't it?) anywhere. Only chunky ones. The quest continues, albeit halfheartedly.

The Rest of the List: Funny how things work out. The combination of my recently cropped hair and new shoes has given my old wardrobe items a better attitude. Some old favorites are looking better for the change up, and feeling relevant again. I've been sewing a little, and doing a lot of alterations for better fit, so stay tuned for the results.

I have given up my unrealistic plans about wearing long sleeved blouses this summer, and certainly any new acquisitions. What was I thinking? No matter how much I probably should be covering my old arms, the summers here are too miserable to wear an extra ounce of clothing. My money is better spent on a lot of hefty SPF sunscreen. I've found a pair of silky, sleeveless tunics that will serve me much better. Better to just go ahead and plan for summer and naked arms. Those who object must avert their gaze.

Speaking of long sleeved tops, not all old pieces are making the transition with equal success.

You can always tell when I'm in a stubborn frustrated
self defeating crappy problematic mood. 
That's when I put on this top and try one more time to make it work. Threatening, dark-gray skies, high humidity, a strapping wind and a late start made photographs difficult to plan and accomplish this Sunday. When faced obstacles guaranteed to make everything more difficult, this blouse is my go-to piece that never fails make things even worse.

This is officially the last time you'll see this shirt. I give up. I love everything about this blouse; the floaty fabric, the Asian print, the unusual cut of the shoulder, the length, everything. But I'm always unhappy with the results when I try to wear it. It's one of the most demanding pieces in my wardrobe, this little blouse. It's needy and whiny and uncooperative. So naturally, I pull it out when I'm feeling bad about any aspect of my appearance, or my weight or all the personal faults that have accrued on my Permanent Record over the decades. This defies logic, I know, but somehow it just seems to be the thing to do.

Just to be clear, I'm keeping it. And I know I'll wear it again. But this is as good as I'm ever going to look in this blouse. It's an improvement on the last time I tried it. You can see it HERE , but I don't blame you if curiosity doesn't get the better of you. Wave goodbye, because it has had as much attention on this blog as it's going to get.


Linking up with the Visibly Velvet and Blue Patti, the hostess of her amazing link-up Visible Monday .

Monday, May 12, 2014

Jan Goes Shopping. Shop, Jan. Shop!

Okay, it's not like I never get any retail therapy. Clearly, I get my share. But I don't often get to go to a much bigger area with a lot more stores.

Last month, I wrote about meeting the lovely Trina of Tea Time with Trina up in Rogers and a pre-meet-up shopping trip that made me disgracefully late. (See what I did there? I blamed an innocent mall for my tardiness. Sad.) But instead of the pitiful Karma I deserve, Dan kindly took me back up for a belated 20th anniversary dinner/ Mother's Day treat that included more time to shop at the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Yeaaaay.

Since it was hot and humid again, I wore some carefully calculated shopping togs. A favorite linen top with sheer paneled yoke, easy skinnies and comfortable heels that are cute enough to wear to dinner.
Yes, the top wrinkles like mad in the car but it's wonderful to wear; cool, un-soggy and flattering. I just carry on and carry my clutch so it covers the wrinkles.

I know you've all seen this mall ... it's just like yours where you live.  But this is one of the best in our little state, and I was happy just to be an elderly mall rat for the afternoon.

While I was checking out the first shops, Dan settled in the food court to read and have a cup of coffee. This court just like the one in your local mall, except that not one of the little specialty vendors offered the cup of coffee that Dan had wanted.  So he had to get a coke.  And then he had to have a slice of pizza so he'd have something to wash down with the coke. 

Of course. 

 I got a bite, then left him to it while I went for more shoppy-shoppy.

Unlike our more local mall, The North West Arkansas Mall boasts a set of water features/wishing fountains.  Burbly and peaceful and a lovely damper for the hum of ever-present mall noise that Dan dislikes a lot. He was happier and more comfortable than usual, and accordingly, so was I.  The mid-afternoon lunch didn't hurt his mood either.

Otherwise, it's a lot like our local.  They do have some shops we don't.  A smallish GAP ...

... and what I imagine to be an average size Forever 21.  I'd never been in one before!  No one asked me to leave, so I guess it was okay.  I saw some things that wouldn't look awful.  Who'd a thunk it?

But for me, all roads lead to Aldo, and sure enough, they did not disappoint.  I found the rarest of all items, a clutch that will hold my Kindle Fire and a wallet and a phone!  I really wanted one that wasn't cream or black. And it came with a Mother's Day discount for all moms, or might-be moms, future moms, or even women with no desire to be a mom, ever.   

I showed Dan my beautiful gold metal and tan and coral clutch, prattling happily on about how I had a black one with metal studs, and a black and cream one, and a black one with pink-gold trim.  And how thrilled I was with my new, bright coral favorite.

"Is that a true coral, or just orange?" he asks.

"Oh, well... maybe it's just orange ..." I concede, stupidly.


" Then is Orange really the New Black?" he asks, grinning like a very smug, graying, pizza-stuffed monkey.

Time to go.

It was.  I was finished shopping, and I didn't come home with bags of stuff.  I get a little overwhelmed by so much to choose from.  So many new stores, and so much wider selections in the larger versions of the  familiar ones that we have closer to home.  I'll do more damage next time, perhaps, but it felt just fine to go home with just my Aldo shopping bag and one perfect item in it.  

We had to go back to our favorite PF Chang's.  When we were there with Trina, it was dark and rainy and late.  Our camera was uncooperative then, but it was sunnier and earlier this time,so I thought you should see how pretty the dining room is for a chain restaurant.

We got to sit in my favorite section (again!) and opposite is a specially commissioned painting on paper that was made for this particular location.  The setting is 12th century China, but the narrative alludes to events from the history of this part of Arkansas.  It's a beauty, with hidden elements that guests are invited to try to find ... sort of an elegant and historically inspired Where's Waldo.  

I collect chopsticks and chose these to bring with us. They are a Japanese style "hashi" but I won't tell if you don't.  I like the little nicety of these tiny pieces of sculpture or porcelain figures used as a rest for the chopsticks so the tips don't touch the table. They're called "hashi-oki" and I collect them too.  I've made some, as I did this pair. They're made of a silvery coated clay in a bridge shape.  As one does.

We used our chopsticks to eat way too much completely delicious Chinese food, and we'er both pretty handy with them, if I do say so myself.  The perfect end to a special trip out of our usual stomping grounds. Don't worry ... Dan had plenty of room left after his pizza snack.  He did just fine.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Suddenly Summer ... Sigh.

In Seattle, we used to tell visitors, "If you don't like the weather today, wait a minute.  It'll change."

Here in Arkansas, if you aren't enthralled with the entire season, hang in there because one morning it will change on you in a few hours.  There is usually a day or so when you start out with the heater on to cut the chill when you get up. Then, on the same day, usually by lunchtime, you'll turn on the AC because it's starting to get uncomfortable. Typically it stays that way.  Hot and humid.

That's how many of us here mark the beginning of summer. This Sunday was the day for me. I flipped on the AC at about noon.  I also mark the beginning of the season  by the day that I can't wear a long sleeve without being really uncomfortable. Also Sunday.   

 I'd wanted to wear this particular favorite shirt one last time ... it's one of those wardrobe love affairs that should not be, but the heart often insists on wearing what the body should run screaming away from. I'm sure if my heart had eyeballs it would make better choices, but no. I've been stubbornly trying to make the Big Shirt idea work for me in spite of my shortness, so I pulled out my coolest sunnies (RayBan all-black aviators) and what I imagine are a cool pair of wedges (which I can walk all day in!  For me, and extra point of coolness.) 

Here's how it turned out.  I'm actually pleased.  
Look! I have a neck!

Here's how I wore it last winter.  The different wintry styling notwithstanding, I think it looks a lot less contrived and less constipated with the shorter hair. 
I like the different vibe the hair lends.  Better proportions, perhaps. (Although, it wasn't a bad hair day if I do say so myself.)


I didn't end up getting to wearing my spring iteration, though.  By the time we were done trying to get a decent photo of the first outfit, it was 90 degrees.  So I ran in and changed into a dress I've been wanting to wear since I got it at the Peter Pilotto for Target collaboration from February.

I was between sizes in this dress, so I bought the larger size, took it in a bit, raised the flippy ruffle about four inches and took in the width of the smock so it sits closer to the edge of my shoulder.  It's fully lined, and I love wearing it.  The ruffle ripples against your leg as you walk, and I did a lot of walking on Sunday.  These little wedge sandals where again chosen for comfort, but I have at least five other pairs of shoes that will work with this little dress.  I didn't like a lot in the collection, but I like the way this one turned out altered to "Jan size".  Happy me.


Linking up, late AGAIN with the Always Forgiving Patti at Visible Monday .  Come see how we're all dressing for our respective weather!