Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

It seems that the lack of a new tripod isn't the only thing standing in the way of my near-daily blogging. I've spent the past twelve months chronicling what I wear and why I wear it. Them. Seeing myself through the camera's eyes has given me a much more clear picture of what looks good on me, what I own, and what my style goals are. It is so much easier to get dressed these days, and it doesn't seem as necessary to process it all out loud, as it were.

So I think I'll extend my little break until the new year, and then only post occasionally thereafter.  The last outfit picture I posted was completely representational of my style, anyway, and I'm kind of digging it as an end point.

While wearing that outfit, I had a conversation with my boss about brown going with black (this was in the context of furniture, actually), and she said with a smile, "But you think red goes with purple!"

Yes, I do.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red and Purple

One of my FAVORITE color combinations! This outfit began with a more royal purple knit skirt, but it wasn't heavy weight enough, and clung to my tights, so I changed to this one.
The sweater is merino and requires a lining camisole to prevent itchies. The skirt is really more of a deep pink but looks purple enough against the deep red sweater. I have on black tights and boots, which is why my legs seem to trail off into nothing.

The whole "feeling fat" thing went away - go figure. Maybe I had just had some really salty food? We used to call that "the Greek food hangover", when you go out for a few plates of flaming cheese and sausages and olives and pilaf (and a couple of glasses of retsina) and wake up the next day unable to wear any of your rings.  At any rate, the day after my rant, I put on a plum blazer with a ginger silk skirt, matching tights and shoes, and felt lovely. Still sticking to salads four nights a week, though.

And can you tell I still don't have my new tripod? Heather took this picture for me. I'll go tripod shopping this weekend for sure. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Orange and, Whatever

Not much to report, gang. I have a lovely new phone, my tripod doesn't fit it, and I haven't gotten out to get a new tripod yet.  Plus there was a wonderful four day weekend and a visit from Ben along the way. We went out to eat, saw Skyfall (hubba, hubba, Mr. Craig), and sat around with the cats.
I wore this at some point, and really liked it even though my neck was cold. J. Jill skirt, Talbots burnt orange top, and taupe Born boots.

Then I tried to make THIS happen without success.

I look all hunchy because I'm trying to keep the blouse from gapping in the front - it is just too small in the chest. Beware purchasing something on eBay that you hope will fit even though you know that isn't your size. I trusted the measurements and hoped the tunic was loose and blousey. It is Jones New York and the most fabulous fabric; silky, drapey, filled with orange and gold and brown and even a bit of plum. The pants are brown ponte from Talbot's and went immediately back to the store. Look at those baggy knees! I don't know if they are too big and I don't care. I'll stick to brown pants OR brown Leggings, both of which I have a-plenty.

And now I'm going to have a good whine about how FAT I feel.  GIANT and PUFFY and MICHELIN MAN-ISH. I know it isn't particularly true (probably no more than five pounds) and I'm sure I don't look different, but everything feels snug except the truly stretchy things or tunics. I really don't like that big shirt/ leggings look at all, but I feel like my waist is VANISHING. Many of my pants and skirts feel very tight. Some of this might be, shall we say, timing. I'm just coming out of M (abbreviated in sympathy for my readers) and I know weird body changes are to be expected - just like puberty! Ha!

Also, I haven't been my usual walkabout self. My left foot is really hurting - plantar fasciitis - so my roaming habits have been curtailed, though hopefully only for a while. I went out and bought a bunch of rugs for my hardwood-over-concrete floors. I also ordered cushy mats for my kitchen. 

The combination of ouchy feet and many delicious meals makes me a big couch potato. And it pisses me off that I have a number of great things that I paid good money for and now make me feel like ten pounds of couch potato in an eight pound sack. I bought a shaping camisole but it mostly makes me feel squished and even fatter. It's all mental, people.  

So. Salads for dinner as many nights as possible, and no new clothes until the new year. I even resisted Monday/Cyber/Black/Whatever. I did venture out to Barnes and Noble to replace my Nook at 40% off. That was totally worth it. I went to the Barn quite early and then had breakfast at The Bagel.

And then (I'm excited to do this) I'm going to keep track of piece of clothing I buy in 2013 in an Excel chart! Tracking my eating always worked really well for me, and I think this will be a really good habit. I already track the spending, but I haven't tracked the what very closely. I'd like to do an inventory of my closet someday, but the idea has been too overwhelming. I hope this chart will be a step in that direction.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Albany Arts

I flew into the Albany Airport when visiting Mom, and I adore that airport, so I took some pictures this time.

Since Albany is the capital, they've devoted time and money to what is essentially a small town airport. There are less than 100,000 people in the community, but the airport has multiple art installations, reliable and powerful wifi, and an eclectic gift shop featuring merchandise from dozens of small regional museums. So get yourself a latte and a cinnamon roll, and we'll tour some of the artwork.

So this is pretty cool, right? The whole installation fills a wall, so it's maybe ten feet across and six feet tall. Up at the top you can just make out a herd of mustangs, and Mt. Rushmore, and maybe some elephants, and throughout the piece the forms hint at faces and places that are more recognizable when you're looking at it full size. But then you get up close:
And it's willow twigs, all hand-knotted together with bits of twine!

Then there were several hanging installations of invented historical artifacts (the artist called them "treen"), modelled on small functional wooden items from the nineteenth century. Wikipedia says these are actual things, but in this case the artist made her own from found objects.

Same installation, photographed at two elevations.
Finally, and I am only sampling this beautiful space, there was the whimsical Cormorants and the Whale:

It reminded me of the scene in James and the Giant Peach, where all the seagulls fly the peach over the open ocean.

To see more of this amazing airport, book a flight to Albany International Airport - or visit 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pig, Turkeys and a Fisher

Last week I visited my mother in Indian Lake, New York, unofficially known as the Middle of Nowhere, just north of Forever Wild. Every time I travel there, I re-visit my childhood haunts, at least those that still exist.

Every summer (and the occasional Christmas school break), my family drove from Akron, Ohio to the Adirondack Mountains, specifically Indian Lake (12842). Indian Lake is in a little hollow at the confluence of three lakes; Abanakee, Adirondack and Indian Lake. It was a long, boring drive, even when you were allowed to do 80 MPH on the thruway in a Chrysler Newport.
By the time we reached the border of the park it was always dark, so we kept our eyes peeled for the first official landmark of our vacation, The Rock Pig:
Freshly painted, 2012
The Pig has been there since I can remember, and means we are only about 15 minutes from our destination. I have no idea who keeps up the paint job.

For many summers, we rented a cabin or house owned by a particular family, the Chamberlains. Violet Chamberlain cooked a mean apple pie. The story goes that she left one on the window sill to cool, and a bear took it. Her husband was named Shirley, which made my brother and I giggle. A favorite location was Forest House in Blue Mountain Lake, just north of Indian Lake, with a handy restaurant next door. One summer there was a friendly doe who came to the yard at twilight and let us feed her windfall apples. Behind the house were sunny boulders and blueberry bushes, picked by us and occasionally black bears.
Sorry about the glare.
Eventually my parents bought property in Indian Lake in the early 70s, a three bedroom house and a garage with a full apartment over it. After my father passed away in 1977, my mother moved here permanently.
My rental car at right.
There have been bears in the yard here, too. My mother stopped filling the bird feeders after she looked out the window and saw a bear licking one clean (this is a true story). She also has a fox family, and one spring looked out into tall grass (not mown yet) and saw a sleeping fawn. 1 2 3 awwwww! This is the view from her deck:
My dad could name every one of those peaks.

We drove into Speculator on my first day there, right past a flock of wild turkeys. Apparently they are becoming a nuisance, like disrespectful teenagers, hanging out in parking lots and on the side of the road. The drive to Speculator is really beautiful, going south along the shores of Indian Lake.
One day I had lunch at this scenic overlook.

Of course, I stopped to visit the Indian Lake Public Library. No flies on them, they have ten public PCs, which is a ratio of one computer to about 90 people. My library has one computer per thousand. Their hours are limited, but their selection is great! I got the latest issues of Vanity Fair and the new Kurlansky bio of Clarence Birdseye. And a Dennis Lehane novel that I didn't have time to read.

Mom and I had a really good visit. It always takes me 24 hours to slow down to Indian Lake velocity, but it was made easier on this trip by my mother's new-ish PC, and wifi in the house, thanks to good-looking Bill, the technician. She is a news junkie, and kept asking me if I wanted to watch Rachel Maddow with her. We read and walked (she more than me) and ate. I cooked, she washed the dishes. I wore jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt every day, and took off my Smartwool socks only to bathe (it was COLD there).

It was a great thing to see her, and know that she is feeling well, and living well, in that remote area. Indian Lake doesn't have much of anything, but she doesn't desire anything beyond cable news and email and the beauty of the natural world.

Oh, the fisher. I went to Blue Mountain Lake, to visit the Arts Center (where my mother's Steinway now resides), and of course all the summer residences are now closed up for the season. I walked along the lakefront.
We swam here sometimes - brrr!
I spied a beautiful dark-pelted creature, bounding along the water, too bouncy to get a picture. I thought it was a pine marten, but my mother's friend (a trapper long ago) told me it was a fisher. 
Photo courtesy Wikipedia.
Thank you for coming on my wilderness journey with me!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Black, White and Velvet

Of course, I don't reach the top of the pyramid every day.

The top is Jones New York via eBay, and a little big, but so lovely and silky that I don't really care. I have the arms scrunched up for the picture. The pants got pulled out of the Goodwill bag this morning. They were there because they are a cat hair magnet and and also pinch my tummy. However, the color is great and they make my legs look longer, and that was essential with this long boxy top. Maybe I'll hang them back up in my closet. I wore my pointy black ankle boots, which you cannot see. I'm wearing two silver necklaces, virtually invisible against the print.

I will be in upstate New York all next week, so no blog updates. I'm not even sure how well my phone will work in Forever Wild, but I'll definitely take some pictures with it. See you soon!

Buffy gets nervous when I pack.

That Grey Skirt

I had something entirely different laid out for this morning, but it seemed too much "work", by which I mean it felt like I had to hold my stomach in all day. I was going to wear the yellow pencil skirt, a black and white long sleeved top and a yellow skinny belt. It looked good, no doubt, but it also felt, I don't know, sort of attention-drawing. I didn't feel up to that. Puzzling.

So I went to my closet and thought about Favorite Things.

I love this J. Crew striped shirt. They don't call it the Perfect Shirt for nothing. It's just the right length for my new (ahem) grey skirt. Then I thought about my red Boden boots, also beloved, and the rest was easy.  Seriously, when I put this on I didn't even REMEMBER this picture. From, you know, five whole days ago.

Funnily enough, the Rotary "boys" (all in their 60s) made a big fuss over me and the red leather boots at lunch.  I felt like a go-go dancer (young and blithe). So trying to avoid attention didn't exactly work out.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Climbing the Pyramid

My ability to dress myself - I wouldn't go so far as to call it fashion sense - has admittedly come a long way. That is what I was thinking about a week ago, when I said my outfit had particular resonance to my style journey. That outfit, not particularly daring, nevertheless pairs  a tough denim shirt with a fluffy pleated skirt, mixes red (shoes) with pink (skirt), and incorporates a statement necklace. I would not have done any of those things even two years ago, and certainly not without looking doubtfully in the mirror. As it was, I just grabbed things from my closet, thought about red and pink in the necklace, and ran out the door. 

If there is a Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in clothing, it leads from wrapping yourself in a blanket to keep warm (physiological), having actual shoes and shirt and pants (security/safety), having an assortment of outfits for various occasions (belonging/society), having clothes that are "nice" or new or otherwise attractive (esteem), and having a wardrobe that is creative and an expression of your self in some way (self-actualization).

And because no idea is new under the sun, here is Zulema's Fashion Hierarchy of Needs:

These days, I often feel at the top of the pyramid, and that is a fundamental change. For many years after I moved to Chicago, fresh out of college, I felt out of step with how everyone dressed. I wondered where women found the right outfits for weddings or work without looking like robots or matrons. I dressed too old or too young. A well-meaning friend said, "You're wearing THAT to church?" I was the perfect candidate for What Not to Wear.

Because I sewed, I knew good fabric and construction, at least, and eventually I found Talbot's and J. Jill. I embraced my inner matron, and comforted myself with the fact that my clothes were well made, if not stylish. That worked for years - I was reaching the third level of the pyramid and occasionally the fourth. Still, I admired friends and co-workers who achieved so much more, who had real style. I figure it was something you were born with (or maybe your mother gave it to you when You Became A Woman). Then I discovered fashion bloggers; non-models who looked great every day, and were generous enough to share their ideas on customizing your wardrobe, being thrifty, loving your body and expressing yourself.


And thanks for reading! Here's what I wore yesterday:

Talbots jacket, Boden skirt, Born boots, necklace from random Cocoa Beach boutique.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

I knew I wanted to wear black and white today - the presidential election seems a black and white issue no matter who you are voting for. This was my first try:
The tights are black in the front, white in the back!
Love the color, not so much the silhouette. This top is great under a jacket, but that gathered neckline gives too much emphasis to the top of the hourglass. I thought about my denim shirt, but I tend to go to that well pretty often.

This was my second and mostly final choice:
The fit and the length of this top is much better with the skirt. I eventually switched out the necklace for a black and white chiffon scarf, to keep my neck a little warmer. I'm rarely cold these days in the office, and I wore my heavy denim jacket over it all with a red pashmina to walk to work. 

Then I went and voted. This election is going to be a nailbiter.

And since I felt anxious about watching the returns, this is what I made for dinner:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time Warp

For the first time in at least 25 years, I spent the evening at The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wore significantly more clothing than the last time I was there, for which sadly, I don't seem to have photographic evidence. 

First of all, the movie holds up, which surprised me. Brad's underpants are still funny, Susan Sarandon is gorgeous and sly, Tim Curry is deliciously over the top, and the film's devotion to those old Hammer films is fantastic.

I was also intrigued to hear localization of the audience "callbacks." I didn't jot them down, so I just remember thinking, "Huh, that must be the Chicago version. We didn't say that in Cleveland."

It was really hard to shed the taboo against speaking loudly in a movie theater. I had to steel myself do more than whisper at the screen. And I didn't bring ANYTHING to throw.

But I looked great.  :-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Two Grey Skirts

I have a grey skirt that I like pretty well. It is wool flannel with inside-out seams, a nice detail. It is a good length, A-line, but the fabric is slightly stiff. Not a lot of swish or drape to this skirt, so when Talbot's marked down their grey knife-pleat skirt by 50%, I ordered one.

Here is the same outfit worn with each skirt. I wanted to wear grey with brown (my new Born boots), and pulled out this little cardigan my sister-in-law gave me two Christmases ago.

Riley matches perfectly.

Here's the thing - it took some doing to put this outfit together. The cardigan has just enough taupe in it to pick up on the brown boots, but it is a little tight and I rarely wear it. I could have worn a dark brown tee and a brown jacket as well, but the look would have been a little flat, I suspect. 

I love medium to charcoal grey, but it can be tricky. I tried a purple blazer and felt like I was on my way to Hogwarts. I just needed a rep scarf to complete the look. Navy and medium grey make me feel like airport security. I actually like shades of taupe and brown the best. Bright green and hot pink also work well with grey. So, no "serious", dark colors, and a blazer with a pleated skirt reads too prep school, at least on me. This is a cute possibility:

Pleated skirt casual grey img-6

I'm trying not to have two of the same thing in my closet, especially when I don't have a multitude of items to wear with it - but I really like those swirly pleats. (I also bought this skirt in emerald green and it is AWESOME.)

Comments, thoughts, questions?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Cheer?

In 1636, Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island who left Salem, Massachusetts to seek religious freedom, landed at modern-day Providence and was greeted by Narragansett Native Americans with "What Cheer, Netop". Netop was the Narragansett word for friend, and What Cheer was an old English greeting brought to New England by English settlers.

Ben eats calamari and Clams Casino.

Providence was pretty fantastic, even and above seeing Ben, who I was forced to hug and kiss multiple times. As you can see, we ate well. At Hemenway's we ordered chowder and the giant seafood platter and couldn't finish it. We had bison quesadillas at Tortilla Flats and many good cups of coffee elsewhere. I said "what cheer" to several delicious local beers over the weekend.

Ben lives in spitting distance of RISD and Brown University on College Hill, so there were tons of cute (and head) shops, bars, arthouse theaters and good-looking coeds. Even a Tealuxe! Saturday afternoon we went to a complicated graphic design exhibit at one of the RISD galleries, and here is Ben in the gardens outside:

The exhibit was beautiful and meta and mostly over my head, but I was amused by this page from a deconstructed artist's book.

We had beautiful, crisp weather all weekend except for a bit of spitting drizzle on Sunday. Saturday night we went to a multimedia dance performance at RISD, very modern and interesting with atonal electronic music and multiple projections on the floor and the screen behind the dancers. At least I thought so; color Ben "a little bored."

Providence is enormously photogenic, even with my indifferent phone camera. Many of the houses by the waterfront (where my hotel was) have plaques identifying the builder and the date.

From 1882.

Four tasteful pumpkins adorn the lintel.

My hotel room overlooked lovely India Point Park.

We also visited the Providence Athanaeum, the fourth oldest library in the country. It is still a circulating library, and there were students studying in the quiet, cozy space, the silence broken occasionally by the hiss of the Keurig machine. They still have their card catalog out to browse, though they are online now, of course.

Catalog card from 1891.
Photos make it look kind of grand, but it is full of old wood and window seats. Both Ben and I immediately grabbed a magazine and sat down to read. It's that kind of place.

They had a financial crisis in 2005, and the board, after much deliberation, decided to sell their precious Audobon "elephant" folio - for $5 million. There was apparently a lawsuit in protest, but the sale went ahead, and now the library is thriving.  This is the Egyptian Cabinet on the main floor, built in 1838 to house their copy of Description de l'Egypte, now in their rare books room.

About as big as a coffin, cool manuscripts inside.

But enough about the library! We walked all over College Hill and downtown on Saturday, which eventually wore my feet out, and I had to sit down. In a shoe store.

Born Attila. They were $65 off!
Then I had to come home, only a few hours ahead of Hurricane Sandy. My flight was the last United flight out before they closed the airport. Ben got a lot of rain and wind, but never lost power, thankfully. He's coming here for Thanksgiving (yay!), but I plan to go back to Providence after Christmas. I'm so pleased he lives in such a wonderful city. What cheer, Ben!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Quick Like a Bunny

It was very warm today, and this is what I wore. It had great significance to me this morning, it spoke to my personal style journey, but now I'm in a hurry because I have to go home and pack for my long weekend in Rhode Island with Ben!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ah, Indian Summer

Today it got up to 79 degrees. Everybody went out to lunch to celebrate the lovely weather, with the trees burning brightly all around us, mums glowing in every garden bed, a softly angled sun beaming down at us.

And of course, this morning we stared at our closets looking for warm-weather but still Fall-ish clothes. I wore black stretchy pants, a champagne silk tunic, my plastic "tortoise-shell" necklace, and leopard calf-hair flats.

No coat, no socks!
Tomorrow it will be warm, but rainy. And then it is supposed to drop to the 30s. These balmy moments are even finer because of their brevity.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Raspberry and Black

I have great affection for this rayon blouse. It's at least twenty years old, chock full of pretty embroidered details and ruffles, purchased from J. Jill when the brand was much better quality, and for years it was my go-to outfit for parties. This and a pair of jeans and boots and I was all set:
Darren, Ben and me at D's 50th birthday.
It seems immortal, perhaps because I only wear it a few times a year. The skirt is a super-flattering Talbot's double-knit pencil skirt.

Here's an over-exposed detail of the sleeve. Pretty.

And I'm wearing my Lia Sophia cross.

Third Strike for the Military Jacket

Sigh. I'm just not feeling it, as the kids say. I like the concept, the color, just not the execution. I'm going to put this jacket in the coat closet, and wear it as a light jacket on weekends. Maybe a sage green fitted cardigan would work better?

What I was aiming for is the tough/girly combination look, which I like so well on others. Here's Sally in the best example ever, but I can't love it on me, despite having tried virtually every arrangement seen on Sally. Which I hope is the sincerest form of flattery, and not stalking.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

And Another Thing I Want . . .

I have a short-sleeved leopard print chiffon tee that I made a couple of years ago and wear fairly often. It fits under jackets, even sweaters, and is light enough to wear in summer. It is machine-washable and has a flattering draped neckline that elevates it slightly. It has to be tucked in because the hem is kind of ragged, and that is why I have been looking for something to fill the same role in my closet.

But NO DICE. Everything either is cotton (too stiff or bulky), or has long sleeves, or has a weird collar, or is too expensive, or has a mystery animal print. There's a lot of snakeskin out there this year, people. So I'm adding that to my list of wardrobe goals for 2012, now amended to: 
1.  Casual, hooded, short-ish, warm coat   $100

2.  Brown-ish handbag  $45 and real leather!

3.  Beige ankle boots   $105

4.  Red short boots

5.  White lace tee

6.  Leopard-print top 

7.  Leather gloves with Thinsulate lining

If you see the leopard-print top somewhere on your shopping adventures, let me know! 

Is this list closed for 2012? I'm not sure. I've been looking at lots of tall brown boots. I had a pair of Markon riding boots that laced up the back, and I finally weeded them this year. They were at least 15 years old. They're definitely not a need, but, well, they'd be COOL. I actually tried a fabulous pair on at Lord and Taylor, but they ran a little narrow for comfort. BCBGeneration Janiss, seen from the back:

$200 at Amazon and various retail stores
Seriously, those were fantastic-looking boots. But for that price, they should also be fantastically comfortable.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Olive and Gold

I didn't actually wear these BCBGeneration booties with this outfit (I wore the Kenneth Cole moto boots), but they had arrived when I got home and I thought they'd look cute with the bronze-y Athleta corduroy skirt.
I think they work. I have on olive tights, my tweed jacket, and an olive Talbot's tee underneath. Man, I wish I had bought that tee in every color they offered. I did at least buy it in green and brown.  Here's a closeup of the bootie.

See, they're suede in front and a distressed crackly gold leather in the back. Business up front, party in the back, baby! I have a terrible weakness for gold shoes, but they're hard to find in a style that looks modern. I'm very pleased with these.