Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blue and Gray for a Friday Outing

We don't have Casual Friday at my library, nor at any library that I know of. Most libraries are fairly casual anyway, as when you're bending over to get books from the bottom shelf or helping people do database searches all day long, pencil skirts and stilettos are contraindicated. Nevertheless, we do aim for amore stylish standard than most public libraries. This may not be saying much; at library conferences you can always tell the product vendors because they have heels on.

Be that as it may, last Friday I only came in to work for a morning meeting, and spent the rest of the day in the city with Heidi, so I didn't dress full-on administrator. Heidi and I went to Toast for lunch and then to Virtu. Apparently only nouns can be used in urban nomenclature; we also visited Soutache, Lush, and Tangerine.

I had to be warm, obviously, and I had to be able to walk a couple miles (our last stop was a bakery.) I also wanted to wear blue and black to remind myself that I needed earrings in those colors. I found a great pair of black dangly stone earrings at a store that defied the nouns only legislation, The Green Goddess. They had the coolest, softest Old Gringo "Leopardito" boots I've ever seen, for a mere $300. Oh, I wanted them. They were a bargain too, they're at least fifty dollars more online. But a bargain is a relative thing, no matter how soft and leopard-y.

Above, I have on a Talbot's marine blue cardigan, a Jones New York top via eBay, grey "Dipper" cords from Athleta, and warm fuzzy Naturalizer boots. I also have some CURLY hair - it just did that on its own Friday morning. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Olive and . . . More Olive

This Kate Hill jacket elicits a wonderful response. People love it; the embroidery, the cut, the color. I bought it with matching olive silk pants, but I gained some weight and the pants became uncomfortable, so off they went to Goodwill. I loved the jacket for years, but when I started branching out into more daring color combinations, it began to feel a little staid to me. I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner last year with olive cords and felt really matchy matchy all night long. I haven't worn it since then.

I thought I'd give another outing this week. The tweed pants give the outfit a little texture, though it's still pretty bland. But, oh, the compliments I got!  Seriously, I can't throw this jacket out. I just have to find more interesting things to wear it with.

The brooch is this fabulous brass and gold calla lily that my former boss bought for me years ago. It's one of those pieces that has a story - traditionally made in this particular town or county or whatever - but of course I can't remember what that story is.

But look! Here it is! Hand wrought jewelry from Stuart Nye, Asheville, North Carolina since 1933. You can shop a treasure trove here.  God bless the internet.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Missoni Wednesday!

FINALLY, the Missoni for Target dress gets worn to work. I bought it the morning that the line went on sale, September 13, 2011. I wore it to an evening event at the Des Plaines Theater last year, but had been nervous about taking it 9 to 5. Since the actual purchasing of the dress was so exciting - previewing the lookbook online, watching the Target web site collapse under the traffic, checking patiently for the web site to recover consciousness, ordering the dress I had picked out at least a month earlier - I knew I had to pull the trigger eventually.

Let's do a big reveal, shall we?
This is my hot pink Bartolino raincoat - who knew Bartolino made coats? I got it on eBay for about $15. Note the zippers on the pockets! 

Check (hee hee) out that lining! Not the best view of the outfit, but . . . Ooooh, that sweater is coming off!

Riley thinks, "Um, that's a lot of horizontal stripes, Mom."
 Let's go back to the black Jones New York cardigan, yes? 

Riley shows me some love. And how about that five dollar necklace from Macy's!

Seriously, that necklace gets more compliments than any other item I own. 

Well, that's the Missoni dress. I'll never wear the towels to work.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red, Gray and Brown - The Board Meeting

A couple of years ago I presented a project to the library board, and they declined to pursue it. I was surprised and disappointed. A colleague said to me, in jest, "It was your red suit. It inflamed them!" After that I trotted out the dark brown pantsuit and the navy ensemble. Occasionally I would splash out in olive green.

But I have a mission this week, to wear things I have not worn yet in 2012, and this Boden blouse called to me. Short sleeved and chiffon, it definitely needs a jacket. I intended to wear gray pants, but realized my gray "slacks" (it's 1950 in my head, clearly) had a hem that was stapled up. Huh. So, I pulled out the red cords (entirely different from the red velvet pants I've worn previously) and these brown croco boots that I found on eBay. The jacket is a favorite Talbots denim jacket.

The boots had a NAIL in the sole which poked me once I got to work, so I accepted my fate and threw them in the trash. They were overdue for disposal, and the nail rendered them un-donateable. Luckily I had a pair of leopard flats at work. As one does.

The jewelry was unremarkable.

I know I was taking a chance with the board, wearing red pants, but it worked out all right. I wasn't asking for anything special last night.


White and Camel and Pearls!

In keeping with wearing unseen items this week, here is Monday, and my favorite white sweater from J. Jill. It has an open weave, and so generally a summer or spring item, but I tucked a long sleeve white t-shirt under it to make it a bit warmer, and wore it with camel flannel trousers. The pants are a bit short, and I'm not sure the wider leg and shorter length is entirely flattering. I took about seven pics trying to find a flattering angle. You can't see that I am wearing slippers in this picture, can you? It was almost eleven o'clock at night, after a very cheerful dinner, and I flung my boots off as soon as I got home. 

White and camel feels kind of luxe to me. "This woman never gets spaghetti sauce on her front and owns many camelhair items." Neither of these statements are true in my case.  Look at all the pretty necklaces, though:
Left to right; Lia Sophia necklace, special gift from a colleague, RL necklace, and I think those are Robert Rose earrings from Lord and Taylor. The pearls were a gift from someone I work with, who brought them back from the Philippines. They're glass, and look and feel like the real thing. I finger them all day long when I wear them. I have other fake-o pearls and they are nowhere near the quality of these. What a generous thought they were!

Another colleague gave me a very useful lesson about white, yonks ago. I said I never wore white because I worried about staining it, and she said, "Honey, that's what bleach is for." EXCELLENT advice.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Psychic Fashion, Purple and Animal Print

Do you see where I'm going with this?

We see this all the time at the 'bary. An invisible memo goes out, and we show up in the same color scheme. I've walked past the Youth Services desk and seen three staff wearing the identical shade of blue. The combination of animal print and purple is clearly a powerful siren song. The red hair and glasses just make us look even more like soul sisters.

The jacket is Boden, the skirt is Talbot's, and the boots are Anne Klein.

The watch is my first ever eBay purchase, at least eight years ago. I had bought this Sointu watch for my husband from the Museum of Contemporary Art store (I worked there). He wore it for years, perhaps still does, and I always wished I had bought one for myself, but they were very expensive back in 1986. There's an interesting snippet about the Sointu line here. When I heard of eBay, this was the first thing I looked for. I knew when I found it that eBay and I were going to have a very special relationship. If you look closely, the "numbers" are little hash marks. This line of watches are still sold under a different design name (though not THIS design), and if you're looking for an elegant unisex watch that will last for years, I recommend them highly.

The ring is from Premiere Designs, which my sister-in-law sold for a couple of years. The cross necklace is Lia Sophia, seen here. This was worn last Wednesday, and I now officially surrender any hope of posting a daily picture. You were warned.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Red and yellow, snag a fellow?

It's a well known fact that men are attracted to bright colors. Like cardinals. I cannot confirm that based on the following ensemble, though one friend delightedly said, "You're so CUTE!" Another said that looking at me made her want a hot dog. You know, the ketchup and mustard? 

My coral snake combo includes a Talbots red cardigan, Sundance yellow cords, Eddie Bauer lace tunic nightgown thingy, Boden boots. Since I've started taking pics of myself, I've realized that I'm often inclined to snag a few items, or colors (uh, yellow), repeatedly. Thusly, and also hence, my approach for the coming week will be to wear things I haven't worn yet this month, or this year, or AT ALL. I read somewhere of a woman who turns the hangers around when she wears things so she doesn't repeat herself. I think I'll pick the low-hanging fruit to start. The bits and bobs:

Skagen watch, RL necklace, gold earrings of mysterious origin, and one of the few "real" pieces of jewelry I own, the (barely visible) gold ring I bought after losing forty pounds 22 years ago. And of course, my Rotary pin because it is Thursday.

Sally wrote an incredibly stimulating post this morning about the pressure to feel chic this morning. I'm not sure pressure is the right word in my case, as it implies weight, burden, oppression, tension, force (I love an online thesaurus, don't you?). I like clothes and fashion at the meta and the micro level, but I have no particular inner sense of style or creativity. I NEED the incentive and inspiration to keep me out of a comfy rut of Talbot's, Boden, Ecco, rinse and repeat. However, I keep a fashion abatement zone, also known as the weekend, in which I put on jeans and a top and call it a day. 

Kristen also wrote about the point where something fun begins to feel like work, and what she could do to Dress Like a Normal Person. I love being able to link to all the people who said it better than me! We'll see how I feel after I've been keeping this journal for more than a few weeks. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Green and Grey

I woke up Monday morning thinking, "Yikes, interviews today!" I had put together outfits for the week without that particular need in mind. (I'm not looking for a job, but rather interviewing prospective candidates for our library)

Luckily, there was something appropriate in the pipeline.

I have struggled with this sweater in other wearings. I love the color (Talbot's, emerald), but the no-close style tends to look boxy without a belt. The dress underneath (Kohl's, Apt. 9) helps out because it is gathered under the bust. I really like green and grey together, and I think the proportions are juuuust right.

Riley is so excited about dinner that he's blurry! Here are the details.

The bee necklace is glass encased in sterling silver. I found it in Cocoa Beach, and when I dithered about having to polish sterling, Heidi said she would come to my house and polish it for me. She has never done so. The bracelet and gray suede boots are from Talbot's, in whom I really should own stock.

By the way, I wore the yellow mesh skirt with the dark denim jacket on Tuesday, and then came home and put it in the Goodwill bag. In my opinion, if you have to fight that hard to make something work, it's too much effort.    

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspiration and A Book Talk

As I mentioned, I keep a color wheel on my closet door, and a running collection of photos copied from my favorite bloggers (Hi Kristen, Sally and Sheila). I also have a folder full of pages torn from magazines and catalogs. Vogue is occasionally useful; more for color combinations than for actual clothes, since I can't afford anything in its pages. The Sundance and Anthropologie and J. Crew catalogs are clipped regularly.

There's also a fantastic website called Go Chic or Go Home that in part, is a vast clipboard of looks on a theme (like colorful tights), submitted by a zillion different women. My favorite thing about this site is the wide array of ages and shapes as well as style. I can usually find "myself" in the images. An iPad would be handy here, to prop up on my dresser while I rummage through my closet.

Of course, I like to read about clothes and fashion as well. Here's a list what has been on the nightstand in the last year (and of course I borrowed them from the library):

Autobiography of a Wardrobe by Elizabeth Kendall: too brief, in that I wish she had expanded on her thoughts about clothes reflecting a time or state of mind. The book is a little precious in its narration by the author's wardrobe, and though I bet the author is fascinating (a dancer, an author, a New Yorker), this doesn't really come across in this slight book. I recommend instead Love, Loss and What I Wore, by Ilene Beckerman, which is beautifully personal and wry.

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff: Charming and thoughtful not-quite-romance about a woman opening a vintage clothing shop in London. Her history makes her wary of love, but the people she meets while estate shopping and hunting for vintage garments encourage her to open her heart once more.

The House of Gucci by Sara Gay Forden: A generally successful attempt at straight journalism is cheerfully run down by the sheer personality of the book's subjects. Mistresses! Murder! Movies! The three Gucci sons live large enough for a dozen glamorous families.

The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant: An extraordinary writer contemplates the relationship between clothes and women, including aging, plus-size clothing, women in retail, the mere notion of "dress", even the fashion world's reaction to 9/11.
What I Wore by Jessica Quirk: I gave (forced) this book on my sister-in-law for Christmas, as one of those presents we give because we like it so much. A lot of fashion books have too much design and not enough practical advice, but I really liked Quirk's approach to building a basic wardrobe for each season, remixing elements for work, weekends and parties, and particularly her clear, sensible drawings (no over-produced photo shoots here). Ms. Quirk has a long running blog by the same name. It's a Tumblr site, which doesn't play well with Google Reader, so I don't follow it as regularly as I could.

And here's what I wore Thursday. Talbots cord jacket, Talbots camel skirt (purchased solely for the back ruffle), and Jones Wear top underneath. I am delightedly clutching the first season of Boardwalk Empire.

The bits and bobs are a ring from my dear mother-in-law, years ago, a big honking Skagen watch from eBay, some crystal earrings that MIGHT be Talbots, and of course, my Rotary pin, because it was Thursday.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Opinions Wanted

This skirt has been edging towards the Goodwill bag practically since I bought it. Pro: my favorite colors and a cool pattern, light dreamy fabric. Con: so sheer it requires a slip, bulky at the waist (a wide elastic), and awkward length. I've worn it with a brown fitted linen jacket and sandals in the summer, and that was . . . OK. I'd like to wear it now, and this is what I came up with. I quite like the boots with it; they pick up the orangey-brown in the pattern.  

Dark jacket? Light jacket? Different color tee? Time to give up on the skirt?  Please weigh in in the comments or email me directly. And ChiLibrarian, I'd like to see that outfit you described with the long lace skirt. Send me a pic?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So close, and yet . . .

Admittedly, I didn't think long and hard about this outfit. I went for comfort and warmth, and hoped everyone would admire my boots. The long sleeve under short sleeve top conundrum strikes again, sadly. It just looks so obviously like I pulled a warm tee out of the dresser to render a summer dress winter-ready. I originally had an acid green cardigan over the dress, and it wasn't warm enough in the office. My condo is so toasty (7th floor, radiant heat) that I find it hard to put on enough clothing for February weather. 

The dress is kind of great, though. I made it last summer, in a fit of "I will sew my own clothes again and save lots of money!" I bought the fabric online, and love its stained glass look and forgiving stretch. Here's a closeup of the fabric and the necklace.

The boots are Boden, and therefore fit perfectly, are really well made, and totally worth the price.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tweed and Metaphor

I took part in a market research conversation Tuesday morning, about how libraries purchase industry-specific supplies: book carts, spine labels, display materials, shelftalkers. Wait, wait, don't run off, I'm still talking!

It was a one-on-one conversation, and a flattering experience, to have someone ask you thoughtful questions and hang on your every word for an hour. the most amusing part was doing a creative visualization exercise, with my eyes shut, which sent me off to my personal happy place (a hotel balcony in Cocoa Beach, as it happens). "Now visualize leaving that place for a hallway, and at the end of that hallway, there is a door. And over the door is a sign that reads . . . DEMCO." Did you think he was going to say Heaven? I burst out laughing. And then I described my perfect DEMCO experience. So funny.

This is what I wore.

Talbots Audrey sweater, J. Jill olive tweed skirt (pretty ancient), Miz Mooz Domino boots. As Sheila says, here are the shiny bits (also from Talbots):

And a closeup of the embroidery on the boots:

I love those boots so much. 

The interviewer noticed my bee tattoo at one point (even asked to photograph it), and asked me to tell him about it and why I chose it. "Oh, I love bees; so pretty, industrious, responsible for lots of fabulous things (flowers, honey, candles, fruit, honey), they dance to communicate, the lovely mathematical structure of the comb and the hive, la la la la." He told me he thought that was an excellent metaphor for librarians. What do you think?

Monday, February 6, 2012


Much ado about nothing this weekend. I tried a new exercise DVD after work on Friday - Jillian Michaels beats you up and you pay for it or something like that. It was easy and hard at the same time, if you get my meaning, and I think I'll invest the ten bucks. Then I watched Cowboys and Aliens while eating buttered toast and tea for dinner. The movie wasn't as bad as I'd been led to believe, though unexpectedly dour; Harrison Ford doing his best grumpy Clint Eastwood imitation. I kept expecting him to rasp at the aliens, "Get off my lawn!"  Also, literally dark; unless they were in the blazing desert sunshine, they were creeping around in caverns and ruined shacks and I couldn't see anyone's faces clearly. If you take a drink every time Ford adjusts his hat, you may enjoy it more.

Saturday I had lunch with MFD at Blind Faith and talked about weighty things. We recently lost a friend: unexpectedly, unknowingly and at a very happy time of her life. MFD was very close to her and distressed on many levels by her death. Our conversation was about our desire to tie up our life neatly at the end, to make sure everyone knew that needed to know. An organized person, she is making a list. Our increased connectivity doesn't seem to help. Someone could just go dark on Twitter or Facebook, and you wouldn't know what had become of them. Or worse, they could linger on Facebook, with their friends wondering sadly what to do about their spectral presence.

We felt better for seeing each other, and made a life-affirming visit to Thee Fish Bowl across the street. The place is chock full of cheerful anima; the warmth, the people, the dignified tortoise roaming the place, the black cat bumping your hand to be petted, the lovely rabbit sitting peacefully in a corner. It's a tiny, cozy space, and MFD got a scratching post and a dose of joy as well. I was too distracted to take actual pictures, but the tortoise sort of looked like this:

I eventually wandered home and took a nap - completely missing all the doings at the library on Saturday, which I regret. Then I sat down with a Kage Baker novel that I haven't read (she's left us too) and that was my day. A good day.

Sunday I got a start on my taxes. Last year I owed $$$, so I bumped up the amount taken out for 2011. This is the first year in 20 that I haven't had a mortgage, though. On the other hand, I get to claim The Boy this year. All I'm hoping for is to break even, really. Wish me luck!

P.S. I watched most of the game, but skipped the half-time show to work out. I caught Madge on Youtube later, and admired her enthusiasm, but not so much the actual show. It looked like a high school dance team with a REALLY big budget. Points for bringing along MIA, though.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday love

Today I love:

Our tireless IT staff. They smile and fix anything, and never blame me for breaking it (like in the bad old days.) My laptop's puzzling coma is all better, thanks! But the bigger picture is knowledge and trust and common goals. I actually look forward to our weekly meetings.

DHC. This Japanese skincare and cosmetics company landed in my mailbox a few years ago and changed my life. Four free samples with any order! Fragrance free and nothing irritates my sensitive to the point of needing therapy skin. I use their moisturizers, cleansers, primer, sunblock, a few hair products, masks, and blotting paper. Their makeup remover sheets are the only such product that don't irritate my skin.  I wear this stuff every night:

My job. In these times, I'm lucky to be employed, let alone liking all my colleagues AND believing our work is exciting and valuable. Every once in a while I lie in bed thinking, "Really? You're thinking about what to wear AGAIN? This is what your life amounts to?", and then I remember and am awed by the all-round value a library brings to its community. I'm so fortunate to be a part of it.

Limpa bread. I made two loaves this weekend, with raisins and fennel seed and orange peel and I've been eating it for breakfast every morning. Yum. I used one of the recipes in Beard on Bread, but here is another one.

My other cat. You've seen so much - and there is so very much to see - of Riley, well, here is my little slayer. Despite the fact that she IS a slayer of mousies and cicadas, etc. Buffy is a bit of a fraidy cat with people. Few of my visitors have actually seen her. Last summer there were people working on the balconies every day for a month, and poor Buffy resorted to the sink.

Goodlooking storage. I found this fantastic bracelet stand on Amazon, but it is also available at the Container Store. The price will vary online, but I got mine for about twenty bucks, including shipping. It's very solid and sturdy, and covered with lovely black velvet. I know that if I can't see my stuff easily, I forget I own it. I had bracelets tucked away here and there because they were too big to fit in my pathetic jewelry box. Now I can see them all AND all my watches. And hey, I have enough bracelets and watches! I have a gracious plenty!

Designer Collaborations

Am I little cranky lately? I might be over the "famous meets cheap" synergy. At least, I'm finding it hard to keep up with Jason Wu at Target and Trina Turk at Banana Republic. Karl Lagerfeld collaborating with Garanimals, now THAT I'd be down with. I think the concept is becoming oversaturated.

Oh, I was waitin' by my computer last fall to buy a Missoni for Target dress and some towels, believe you me. And it's funny, because considering the millions of items they sold (and then were resold on eBay), I've never seen anyone wearing the stuff. Maybe they all bought the pillows.

Now I feel like I don't have time to consider each collection and get even a little excited about it. I thought the Natori for Target line was darling, but never did get around to buying the chemise and slippers. That was the very last high/low debut I marked on my calendar.

You heard it here first - Lagerfeld and Garanimals. "Easy to pair, fun to wear."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

30 Days and Counting

I am one month into the attempt to not buy any new clothes. How have I done? Well, I did buy one maxi skirt on eBay, which was advertised as suede, but instead turned out to be "suede". Ish. Which is why I got it for nine bucks. I chastised the vendor, who claimed it had been "an honest mistake", blah blah blah. Like the label didn't clearly say polyester.

Aside from that skirt, I acquired a jacket, pants and skirt from Talbots with awards dollars, and I weeded two large bags of clothing from my closet. I own fewer items of clothing now.

That's all well and good, but how is the savings coming? You see, I bought two belts and some amazing boots this month (they are ACCESSORIES, not clothes). That means the overall savings is nil for January.  Here's to February being a model of thrift and restraint!

I love bright yellow year-round, but especially in January when our eyes are starved for color: 
There are those Golc Mary Janes again. Heather suggested last year that I wear them with dark patterned tights, so I did and she was out sick. Cheers, Heather! The sweater skirt is an old reliable from J. Jill, which has fit me through thick and thin. The leopard chiffon tee I sewed myself, and the crocheted cardi is an eBay steal (defined as under ten bucks). 

I really didn't intend for this blog to be a daily shot of Riley, but I take these pics when I get home, and he is trying to impress on me the idea that he luuuurrrrrves me and is only incidentally hoping I will feed him.

C'mon, Glamour!

I might be old. It feels like, at 52, I am increasingly grumpy about changes to the things I love, but hear me out.

Glamour raised my ire when they put the Kardashian sisters on the cover of their January issue. That was one issue I did NOT read (seriously, I was mad), and I am a devoted Glamour fan. The problem is that their sales are down 17%, and I can't fault them for trying to reach a new audience. Now they're tinkering with their design and perhaps their overall concept, according to The New York Times: 

Fashion Changes, and So Do the Magazines

Here's the new and improved cover:

I submit, how is this magazine any different from Cosmo? Are women only capable of reading five key words? The NYT article suggests a "heavier focus on celebrities." Good Lord, I have the Fug Girls for that - don't mess with my Glamour!

How much of this angst and anger is self-inflicted? How much do men struggle with loving and supporting the fashion world AND being a feminist and supporting everyone's right to like their body and dress any damn way they like? This makes my head hurt, not to mention about a hundred women in the blogosphere are more articulate than I am. As Jo says, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It.

Now, because I am a librarian and deeply believe in being fair and balanced, I Googled the 2011 Glamour covers. I of course found they were all devoted to sex, beauty, shopping, guys and gossip. The content, though was smart and empowering, including articles on health, and women's rights, and financial sense - and women of all ages and colors. We'll see how Glamour's new look alters its insides.