Saturday, April 28, 2012

Red and Gray, no, Taupe, no, Gray

I don't know what color this J. Jill skirt is. I do know that it is regularly voted MVP in my closet for comfort, flattering my figure, and going with everything for nearly a decade.

The Talbot's jacket is wool and warm enough to wear on a crisp April day with only a scarf. The jacket is a little big on me and a little staid, as I mentioned yesterday. I did order the Sundance jacket after all. Sundance has ruinous shipping charges, so I really hope I like it.

I thought when I put these together that the outfit was a little more cohesive than it actually appears in the pic. It kind of looks like two halves of different ensembles. Maybe a gray tee and red boots would have been better choices? Of course that never would have happened, because I intend to wear these boots EVERY DAY. I'm also wearing a new ring - but this is the last one, I swear. It's Lia Sophia, via eBay.

This weekend I'm going to a Rotary Trivia Night, determined to win a set of Chicago Shakespeare Theater tickets in the raffle. Even if I don't win them, I'm still going to see this:

The extraordinarily elegant Ian McDarmaid
Who wouldn't want to see the Emperor Palpatine in Timon of Athens? Appearing now through June 10 at Navy Pier.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Want To Go To There

Jon Hamm made me pee my pants on 30 Rock last night. "Banjo!" I will just be saying that randomly from now on. Also high-larious, the sixties news skit in which a "girl with a nice shape" appears to have kidnapped the male reporter. The full episode, including different east and west coast versions, is available on Hulu if you need more of that Hamm sandwich.

In other news, I want this jacket:
Sundance catalog Wellesley Ruched Blazer
And I have wanted this jacket for almost a year (that's when I ripped the page out of the catalog). I was looking wistfully at the picture last night and wondering if waiting a year was long enough to "earn" it. Good reviews on the web site, marked down to half price, I could TRY it, right? The only jacket I have remotely like this is a red tweed affair which is kind of big on me and which you will be viewing shortly. I'll keep you posted. 

Thursday's outfit was also based on a clipping from a catalog, except I reversed the colors of jacket and shirt.
The jacket is a venerable suede number that was one of my first eBay purchases. The front has a row of metal snaps that make a wonderfully satisfying sound when you rip them open. A pale pink winter-weight jacket is a rare chimera indeed. I used to have a pink wool crepe three button jacket that I wore until the lining fell apart, because I couldn't find anything to replace it. Now I'm wearing this pink suede jacket into grimy obscurity (cleaning suede is never worth the huge expense).

Underneath I have on a beautifully made Talbot's wing-collar blouse. The placket and cuffs are a fine herringbone trim and the sleeves are three quarter length. I don't wear it often, but it is just too nice a shirt to retire.
The necklace is a slice of golden agate that a friend put on a chain for me 30 years ago. I have very few sentimental possessions, and they're all in my jewelry box.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Purple and Leopard

This outfit is not complicated, but I really like it on. Royal purple Talbot's tee and J. Jill straightleg cords, combined with a Boden leopard (ish) velvet jacket. The jacket lining is the same royal purple. I wore it previously with a purple skirt, but am not keen on the proportions. The jacket is pretty boxy, and also a fairly stiff fabric (though luscious to the touch). it looks better with pants.
Riley is head-butting me to feed him, not loving up my jacket. The Talbot's tee has these great vertical chiffon pleats down the front, seen below with the jacket front.

Someone please explain why occasionally my pictures rotate themselves and nothing I can do will fix them. Are they turning to face Mecca?

I bought this ring with matching earrings on eBay for a few dollars. It appears to be sterling (and wood) and is fairly heavy. The earrings are identical, but are wires and too heavy for me. I'm sure that's why they were on eBay. I'm all into rings suddenly; I've bought at least half a dozen on eBay in the last two months, none of them for more than $15. Big spender! 

Green and Black and Leopard

This skirt is one of my very favorite pieces of clothing because:
  • It was a gift from a friend
  • It does great things for my bottom half
  • It's wildly comfortable
  • It has never seen the inside of a Talbot's store
It's a black, stretchy, wool Moth skirt from Anthropologie!

Forced "I'm tired get this over with" smile.

I'm wearing it with a (sigh) Talbot's cardigan, Anne Klein boots, and the leopard chiffon top I made last year. The skirt has "inside out" seaming, which I hope you can see a little better here.

All the jewelry is from eBay: a Premier Designs sparkly shiny glittery bracelet, green amber earrings and a Fossil watch. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blue and Born

Not a misprint - I'm all about these Born boots because they make my feet so happy.

I also have on a new blue knit skirt from Talbot's, my faded wash J. Jill jacket, and a blue, purple and green chiffon top from Lord and Taylor. I've been looking for a dark blue skirt that is multi-season; I have a blue cord skirt that is winter-weight, and a couple linen and cotton summer versions. I was a little dubious of this one when I opened the package, but it is really comfy on, and is the perfect length, so I'm keeping it. I might still be looking for a more formal navy pencil skirt.

In a while, crocodile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Grand Day Out

On Sunday, I met two friends downtown to watch Simon Callow explicate Shakespeare.

On a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, I strolled from the train station towards Water Tower Place. Along the way I overtook a group of about 25 Red Hat Ladies. I wondered if they were going to the matinee show along with me. Would they take their hats off in the theater? But I turned onto Chestnut, and they kept walking north on Michigan Avenue.

I've never been in the Broadway Playouse, though I've seen several shows at CST at Navy Pier. The Broadway Playhouse has lightsabers in the ceiling.
I was politely chastised for taking that picture. Simon Callow was, quelle surprise, remarkable. He was very lively, jumping about the stage with swords and crowns, moving chairs around. He took the audience through eight stages of Shakespeare's life, from schoolboy to elderly sage; "Out, out brief candle." He wasn't miked, and I had to strain a bit to hear everything (boo, hearing loss), but he had such clear speech, and was so expressive, that I didn't miss much. During intermission we admired people's clothes. A woman walked by in a gorgeous unlined celery green wool coat and we all raised an eyebrow. Somehow I knew if we asked her where she got it, she'd say, "Oh, you know, Singapore." As one does.

 Afterwards, we went to the Mity Nice Grill for an early supper, and I had very tall nachos.

On our way out, I heard someone call my name. It was an old friend from my Museum of Contemporary Art days (25 years ago now). Once in a great while, you DO run into someone you know in a city of 9.8 million people! I had a horrible 30 seconds where I could not dredge up her name. I remembered everything else about her, she was at my wedding, for heaven's sake! She looked ageless. One of her cheerful friends (no red hats here) took our picture.

The truncated sign behind us says Mean people are ugly. Or as my friend said, "Eople are gly." I showed her pictures of Ben and promised to give her love to everyone.

On my way back to Ogilvie I spotted this piece of rogue knitting by the Wrigley Building. 
I walked more than five miles that day. Good thing I was wearing my new Born Magda boots.

It was an excellent day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brown, Red and Modesty Considered

On Friday I brought out a Nine West blouse I really like - and really don't like.  The color and pattern are really great, and it feels wonderful on, except when I bend over and I think that there is way too much bosom on display.  I wore a jacket over it today, and kept sneaking surreptitious looks downward. I am always reluctant to show any hint of cleavage; I got way too much attention as a teenager because of my cup size, and am always making an effort to Cover Up Up There. It's my area of Shame, nonsensical as that might be.

Taking the daily pictures has been making me think about this more and more. I realized I am always yanking my sweaters and jackets closed in the slightest breeze, pulling anything drapey across my chest, pulling up necklines. However, the camera tells me that wearing my cardigan open looks - FINE. If my jacket blows askew in the Chicago wind, I am not instantly drawing the Male Gaze. Wrapping that waterfall sweater around me  or crossing my arms looks defensive and kind of weird.

By the end of the day in this troublesome blouse, I was wondering what harm was done if someone got a glimpse of my bra. It's not exactly a plunging Victoria's Secret, and I'm revealing only a sliver. I concluded that I would wear that blouse anytime I felt like it.

Only now, looking at the pictures, I don't think it's very flattering on its own. All of that soul-searching was for naught.

Over the weekend I was introduced to the concept of the modesty blog by this wonderful article at The Blind Hem. There are apparently many blogs devoted to the idea and practice of dressing modestly, primarily for religious reasons. This had never occurred to me, as the bloggers I follow are all pretty covered up, as a rule. The modesty blogs are more than clothes, of course, they discuss dietary habits and sexual attitudes and religious practice as well.

Go ahead and Google "modesty blogs." I was kind of tickled to see such an assortment of women; white, Asian, African-American, frum(ish), homeschoolers, sewist, hipster. I came across at least a couple writers that annoyed and offended the crap out of me philosophically, but the clothes were mostly pretty cute. I saw ankles and knees and high heels and bare arms. They didn't look any different from what I wear every day.

Except of course when I am wearing a scandalous v-neck like the one above.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Green and Grey, Miss Holloway

What's missing from this picture is my Joan Holloway pen necklace, which I brought out to lend to a friend today. I put it on and it looked so cute that I realized I should wear it once in a while. I was attending a shower today at our weekly Rotary get-together, for a friend who recently became Mrs. Green, and we were asked to wear green in some form. I felt sad for the men, who could only wear green ties or pocket squares. I wore GREEN AND THEN SOME. Let's start with outerwear.
This is a Nine West beauty, via eBay. It is just the right length, and that wide collar is very flattering. No excitement in the lining, though.

From the ground up: Talbot's gray boots, a Target Merona (via eBay) gray wool skirt, and a Talbot's green cardigan. The color is actually cloverleaf and I love it so much I paid full screaming retail. Notice the three quarter length sleeves. I also have on my pearls from Nerissa, pearl earrings and an opal ring that Ben's Dad gave me many, many years ago. Riley is an excellent matching accessory, being sort of grey and pearl-colored himself.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brown and Yellow, Custom Made!

Quite a few years ago I had a suit made for me. It was a fascinating and wonderful experience and I have talked about it to many friends, to the point where they cover their ears - "Not the custom suit again!" But I forge on, hoping to convince someone to tread the bespoke path.

An old friend brought me to meet Vijay the tailor in a Chicago hotel room (I think it was the Palmer House), filled with fabric samples. Sarai had a suit already that she wanted copied; I wanted a three button pantsuit with boot cut trousers. The fabrics were lovely menswear in navy, charcoal, black brown, with birdseye, herringbone, chalk stripe and other textures and patterns. I chose a chocolate brown wool in something between a crepe and a twill. It has a nice drape and a smooth, but not glossy finish. I was carefully measured, gave them my check for $400, and the suit arrived in the mail 8 weeks later. The clothing is actually made in Singapore.

I've lost some weight, so the pants are in the drycleaner pile to be taken in. The beauty of menswear styling is how easy it is to alter anything. The seam allowances are generous and the waistband is sewn in two pieces so a tailor can expand or contract it in a jiffy.

May I say that this is the ONLY JACKET I own where the sleeves are the correct length. That alone is worth the price, with my short little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. See how flattering a perfectly fitted jacket can be? I'm also wearing my Sundance yellow cords, Boden leopard calf-hair boots and a Boden blue and yellow knit top.

I hope you can see the lovely hand-bound buttonholes and the full rayon (not acetate!) lining. It has princess seams (from the shoulder) and welt pockets. I bought my suit from Nickermann's, which no longer does fitting tours, but does allow you to order online. This is a very similar suit, without the princess seams.

Why have I never bought another suit from Vijay, who has moved onto another company ( Well, they're not cheap, and I have not had much disposable income for the last few years. But also, the suit I have is so useful and elegant that I don't feel like I need another one. I'm glad I chose brown, which is more versatile and less somber than black or gray. And despite not being a skirt suit, it is also perfectly fine for interviews because its quality is so apparent.

Enough about the suit already! Sorry. This is part of my rant about clothes that fit YOU and not the mannequin or the hanger or Heidi Klum. They should fit YOU.
Image courtesy of


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Green, Brown - Boots!

When my feet are happy, the rest of me is smiling too. Even on a board meeting day! Said meeting was only an hour and I was home by 9:15 to take this picture.

This might be an overshare, but this outfit is a convincing visual argument for a different bra. Still, I like the tweed skirt with the twinset and tough girl boots.

 The chunky bracelet is Lia Sophia via eBay. I really like the colors and weight, even if it leaves dents in my wrist. It doesn't clank like a bangle or FEEL heavy. The necklace and earrings are Talbot's.

Ah, the boot action. They are Born Magda, via 6pm, at a price I was helpless to resist. They are fully leather-lined, so I can wear them without tights in warmer weather, and yet they're not terribly heavy.  The sole and heel are shock-absorbing rubber, and the insole has so much support and cushioning that I literally smiled all day. Happy feet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012