Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm on Vacation!

We arrived safely in New Zealand on Friday. I was pretty happy with the comfortable enough for a twelve hour flight, but not too sloppy, layered outfit that I wore on the plane but I was far too rushed to take a photo of it before we left, and I was too travel weary to do so once we arrived. I'm planing on wearing exactly the same thing to fly home so I'll post it then. We spent an overcast Saturday lounging around my father's house and, since I didn't even bother to take a shower, there are no pictures from Saturday either. Today was a gorgeous day, and I managed to get up and showered and dressed so there are photos!

It is actually Sunday here. I'm not sure if the date on the blog will reflect this. Not that it really matters, but I think the date stamps will be a bit off until I return.

Chris and I wandered around Palmerston North this afternoon. It's the town I grew up in and I feel at home here but my accent marks me as a tourist rather than a local. My camera battery died while taking these outfit photos so I wasn't able to take pictures in town today. I'm charging it now to be sure not to miss any photo opportunities in the future.

I found a wonderful book on New Zealand fashion that I can't live without. I came back to the house and immediately got online to see if I could get it from Amazon so I could avoid having to lug it back home and have it delivered to my doorstep instead. No such luck. I will have to carry the heavy thing back myself. I did find another book on Amazon in the process of searching for the unavailable book which I am going to order when I get back home:

This one is available on Amazon

Here's the blurb:

"Offering a fresh look at the role of clothes in New Zealand history, this reference examines what New Zealanders wear and what they have worn—from the shrinking bathing suit to the black singlet—over the past three centuries, proving that clothing reveals as much as it conceals. The authors show that, despite a reputation for being wary of “looking flashy,” New Zealand has not always been a dowdy country."

Totally right up my alley!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Incontrovertible proof that I'm a total geek

Today I'm presenting my thesis research to a group of professors and students from my department. A week ago I reserved an additional hour in the conference room and asked another graduate student if she'd meet me there in the morning before I presented. She agreed right away, asking if I intended to practice my presentation. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to admit that, though practicing sounded like a really smart idea, and was something that I probably should do as well, now that she had mentioned it, the thought of practicing in the conference room hadn't yet occurred to me. The reason I had reserved the room was so I could take outfit photos there and post them to my blog, prior to presenting, so that when I referred to my blog in my talk, there I would be on the screen, in the same clothes, in the same room, on the blog, and in person. I was already orchestrating this meta-moment and I hadn't yet begun working on the actual presentation.

My current (but by no means final) title.

I also think it's hysterically funny, when someone compliments something I'm wearing, to respond- "If you like it now, wait 'till you see it tonight on my blog!" Yep, I'm officially a complete nerd.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I love Monday!

My Monday smile.

Today wasn't bad for a Monday but, Monday isn't ever my best day. It's always the day I spend wondering how I manged, in spite of my best intentions, to get so little accomplished on the weekend, and how I will ever meet the challenges of the coming week if I am as behind as I seem to be. The Monday I'm loving right now is actually a lipcolor. I've historically had a troubled relationship with lipstick. I'm attracted to the glamor of a rich red lip, the luxe packaging of a slim, sexy tube, the iconic femininity of lipstick, but frequently the reality is not nearly as pretty as the promise. Lipstick requires an all day commitment and I tend to be more of a a set it and forget it makeup wearer- reapplication rarely ever happens. Lipstick gets on my teeth, runs into the lines around my mouth, retreats from my lips leaving it's dark residue at my lipline, or leaves my lips cracked, patchy and peeling. There is little glamor in these scenarios, but being a glutton for punishment I've kept trying to locate the perfect lipcolor for the better part of thirty years. There was the brief infatuation with a very wearable color form Origins called Sugared Toffee. It was a bit too glossy, and was so slippery that I was compelled to constantly rub my lips together, giving the appearance of having developed a nervous twitch. Lately I'd fallen in a comfortable but not very satisfying liaison with Covergirl's Outlast Lipstains. There were some things that just were not working between us: peeling, fading, blotchy color- but I figured anything was better than having nothing and being left alone with bare, pale lips. But I never stopped searching for something better. And I've finally been rewarded for my almost life long commitment to the search for lipcolor perfection, for my unfaltering belief in a lipstick love match. Monday is my reward for my tenacity. I love Monday. I also adore Saturday. I'm tempted to give Friday a whirl. I'm terribly fickle, I know, but my new love forgives me my weaknesses.

Option one- with jacket unfastened.

This was a first outing for two pieces from last weeks thrift haul: the sky blue T-shirt and the denim jacket. I normally avoid the denim and denim combination like the plague. When I was younger we used to refer to a jeans and jean jacket ensemble derisively as a Texas Tuxedo. (My appologies to all the stylish Texans I've met since then.) I think this pairing is acceptable because:

A. The jacket is not a traditionally styled jean jacket.
and B. The jacket isn't truly denim. It's not a twill weave but more of an indigo colored broadcloth, something one might find made into a nice pair of jean-styled trousers.
Does this make it okay? I'm not completely convinced that it does, but I tried it out today. I think I might have been more pleased with white, or red, or even black pants paired with this jacket, but I don't own the type of pants I'm imagining- lean and narrow in the leg with a sharp, perhaps stitched, crease down the center of the leg- so I wore jeans.

Option two-with jacket fastened.
The jacket poses a dilemma. Unbuttoned, (or unsnapped in this case) I like how it looks from the front. However, in the side view I appear completely devoid of shape. When the jacket is completely fastened the side view is much more flattering but the effect from the front is a bit boring and the top snap looks as though it is pulling. I ultimately wore the jacket open but I'm thinking now that this was probably the wrong choice. The world does not see me as I see myself in the mirror, head on, best face forward. The world gets a 360 degree view. A complex mixture of good sides and bad, flattering angles and unfortunate glimpses. I think I chose what was more flattering in the mirror and ignored the reality of what the world was seeing. I imagine this might be a hard habit to break.

A flattering side view.

A less appealing side view.

Vanessa, this one's for you! 

Gendered? Absolutely, but also a convenient way to show both the front and side of a shoe.

I ended up giving this troublesome black skirt to my taller, slimmer sister. I think it looks much better on her. Another wardrobe problem solved.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm not as elegant as Chanel, but I'm nicer.

Today my mother and I braved the Los Angeles freeways on our own to attend The 19th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design at the FIDM Museum (my sister, the SoCal, local drove us to the LACMA yesterday). The exhibition was very interesting but it might have been more so if I had seen more than just one of the movies featured (Shutter Island.) No photography was allowed or this post would be filled with pictures. I was particularly taken with the dresses from Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, a movie I haven't seen. There's something about a dress and coat ensemble, where the coat is lined in the same fabric from which the dress is made, that strikes me as incomparably elegant. It kind of makes my heart ache, though in a good way, with a dreamy longing, wishing my life merited that kind of elegance.

The Chanel costumes have made me want to see the movie, though I've never been Ms. Chanel's biggest fan. I think she's more than a little overrated as an innovator and a trend setter, and my impression is she was never a very nice person, even before she was a Nazi sympathizer. It beats me why she's so celebrated. The costumes for her character in this move were beautiful, but it was obvious that they were intended for a body type far different from mine. Unless you're willowy thin I'd wager that sophisticated simple styling is going to come off as frumpy and matronly, not sexy.

Here's what I wore today. It's nowhere near the elegance level of the Chanel costumes, or any of the costumes for that matter. The dress has a wrapped, crossover effect in the bodice that is causing some strange lumpiness under the cashmere sweater. I didn't notice this until I saw it in the pictures. I wonder if I don't look at myself closely enough when I look in the mirror.

In front of my sister's backyard koi pond.

Looking a bit over-exposed in the SoCal sun.

After perusing the exhibition my mother and I took a turn through the museum store. I added two books to my Amazon wish list and walked away with this:

Pop-top pocketbook.
It's made of recycled soda can pop-tops crocheted together. This photo doesn't capture it's real beauty. It reminds me of the crocheted bags of the forties, while also being space-age and modern. You really have to see it in action to properly appreciate it. It catches the light beautifully. It looks like chain mail armor. (Like nineteen forties space-age chain mail armor? Yep, that describes it perfectly.)

I'm excited that it's recycled (and produced by a fair trade artists cooperative in Brazil.) I'm supportive of  the concept of up-cycling and re-purposing, but usually I think- "Well, that's a cool idea, but it's not really something I would ever wear." But this- this really turns me on, and the recycled and fair trade aspects are a bonus that makes me feel that my money is well spent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fashioning fashion at the LACMA.

Today my sister, my mother and I met my aunt at the LA County Art Museum to see the Fashioning fashion exhibition. The clothes were amazing. I took lots of photos, even though I already bought the exhibition catalog, which contains plenty of pictures taken by much better photographers than I. My sister obliged me by taking photos of me for the blog but I was too embarrassed to have her take as many as I usually make Chris take.

Inside the exhibition hall.

Luckily, even with few pictures to select from, I was able to find a couple that I liked. I was worried all day that I was going to have to post outfit photos that captured me with a weird look on my face or from a terrible angle because I was too shy to admit that I usually take about fifty photos in order to have three that I actually like.

My aunt peruses the exhibition catalog while I pose. Yeah! Textiles!
I was much happier with this outfit than when I wore the skirt with the shapeless black top. However, I still haven't managed to paint my toenails. I will have to make sure I do this before our trip next week- I'm going to be wearing sandals most of the time in New Zealand.

A distance shot for context.

And a closeup for the outfit.

A collection of bustles.

Amazing stripes that my photography skills do not do justice.

With very slight alteration I could see this jacket at Anthropologie (and I'd buy it.)

I so wish this could be me.

Road Trip!: I pack for a five day excursion to Southern California.

I’ve always aspired to be a great traveler. In reality I’m really miserable at it. I always get stressed and grumpy. I’m perpetually uncomfortable. I never manage to pack what I need. I end up wherever I am wishing I had brought completely different clothes from the ones in my suitcase. I’ll admit that the clothes I generally wish I’d brought are usually not clothes that I actually own, but left at home, they’re usually things I don’t even own. A large part of my dream of stylish minimalism is to own a wardrobe that works so well that I could get the call- you know, "The Call," the one that goes- “We need to fly to Paris this afternoon. Meet me at the airport in an hour.”  And I could race home, tear things from hangers and throw them in a suitcase and jump in a cab secure in the knowledge that I’ll look fantastic in what I’ve chosen because I look fantastic in all my clothes.

The catalog for the exhibition that inspired this trip.

I’m not there yet, and I’m not convinced I ever will be, but I keep hoping. My goal for this trip is to end up clothed in something I like enough to post to the blog everyday and not to take more than one rolling suitcase. The truth be told, a rolling suitcase (large carry-on sized) is about what I need for any trip, overnight or extended stay. Chris can manage to go away for a weekend with just a backpack but I always end up bringing a suitcase-full. But I can manage a month long trip with the same suitcase (provided there are laundering opportunities.) We have a two week overseas trip planned soon so this mini road trip with my mom is going to serve as a practice session. On this trip I'm going to the LACMA to see the Fashioning fashion exhibition.

Everything I'm packing.

Here’s what I’m taking:
Dark skinny jeans
Striped sailor pants
Black yoga pants
Red linen skirt
Multi-colored dress
Tank top
2 White t-shirts
Long sleeved white athletic top
Black athletic jacket
Purple cashmere cardigan
Navy cashmere cardigan
Purple patent ballet flats
Red cork soled wedges
Walking shoes and socks
Sports bra

Makeup, toiletries, underwear and socks are not pictured.

I did replace the athletic shoes (pictured in the bottom right of the above photo) with a smaller pair of sneakers that are not as good for fitness walking, but are considerably smaller for packing. We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My brief love affair with this skirt may be over.

I was my intention to show you this skirt again today as part of a really smashing outfit. After trying it with several different tops and shoes I settled on this, which is not remotely approaching smashing.

I'm not sure why I'm finding it so hard to create an outfit I like using this skirt. I was completely enamored with it when I tried it on. Now, I think it's just a rather dowdy black skirt. I don't know what has changed, but it must be me because it can't be the skirt. In the dressing room I felt absolutely delicate and feminine in this skirt. I was swishing and swaying; admiring it in the mirror from all angles. I loved the swing of the skirt and the mid calf length. I felt like I was channeling Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday:

Image from Here's Looking Like You, Kid
Maybe that's what the trouble is. Maybe I shouldn't judge this skirt until I try it with bare legs and strappy sandals and short sleeves; the way I first imagined it. I thought this morning that perhaps I should shorten it a few inches. I just don't know what to do. I only know that today (and yesterday) I'm not loving it like I thought I would. Any ideas?

Green boots and a green clutch.