Thursday, May 31, 2012

Purple and Ruffles

It's barely 50 degrees today - and rainy at that! So of course I wore my Born boots again. I am thinking about buying them in black. I have two pairs of tall black boots, and certainly don't need another pair. But. These are very well made, comfortable, soothing to my feet and back, and are so well finished inside that I can wear them without socks or tights. $90 off plus another 20% at Shoemall? Hmmm.

This is a favorite combo from last summer; floofy skirt, tee and little jacket (cotton or linen). Yesterday's version was a J. Jill jacket (via eBay), Boden skirt, purple Talbot's tee (with vertical ruffles to contrast with the skirt's horizontal ruffle action).

Detail of the skirt's raw edge ruffles.

I also wore my sparkly bracelet, handmade by my friend Carol and her two granddaughters.

And on the other wrist my pink Skagen watch (via eBay).



A "Good" Color

Whenever I wear my canteloupe linen jacket I get a compliment, usually on the lines of "Great color on you!" Yet orange is one of those colors that people think is hard to wear. I've never had my colors done, and I think maybe I'm a summer or summer/fall? I have blotchy rosy skin and light brown eyes, so winter is out, and most of the spring colors are too pale for me. Except pale pink which I have expounded on before. But orange LOVES me, and this is why I have at least five orange jackets and sweaters.

The weather went from the 90s to the 60s overnight (what a relief, I say), so I started with the Talbot's skirt, which has two layers of cotton and is fairly substantial. This was also my chance to wear my Born boots again, my feet being tired from wearing flimsy sandals all weekend. Then I more or less said eeny meeny miney moe to pick the jacket, hoping it would all work out.

The jacket isn't particularly flattering in cut, being kind of boxy, even a little mumsy. CONCLUSION: COLOR TRUMPS ALL.

Underneath I have a white tee with a slather of bugle beads, and a Talbot's bracelet that looks heavy but isn't, as the "stones" are all plastic. 
Talbot's, of course
Should I buy the matching necklace?
I discovered this week that this is my ONLY short-sleeved white top (lots of ivory and beige versions), and that I have NO short-sleeved black tops (lots of sleeveless shells). So I might have to use up that Lord and Taylor gift card in my wallet.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I Wore for Graduation

We were so lucky Saturday morning. We had some cloud cover, a breeze, and the threatening storms stayed north of us. I still got a "ring of fire" sunburn following the line of my cardigan. I put on sunblock on my face and neck, but didn't quite go far enough.

In our faces, I see pride, relief, happiness, fatigue and a soupcon of sadness. I've long thought that because Ben chose to go to school near us, I got a four year reprieve from full-time empty nest syndrome.  He came by many weekends to do laundry and hang out, see a movie or go for sushi. His next move will likely be more final, and I'll have to find new friends with whom to eat sushi.

After the ceremony, he had to run back to his house and throw his stuff in boxes - they had to be out by that afternoon. Then we drove up to his Dad's house for an afternoon-long barbecue and reminiscence festival.

I can't even begin to sum up how I feel, except to say it was a BIG DEAL.

He really liked the DKNY suit, though. He said he felt like James Bond (the Daniel Craig version, of course).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Big, Big Day

Tomorrow is Ben's graduation. We have our fingers crossed that it won't rain, as the ceremony is outside.  Then we'll gather at his Dad's house to celebrate. Tonight he is packing up and getting ready to move out of his off-campus (by about ten yards) house. I celebrated at Nordstrom, spending hundreds of dollars on the start of a grownup wardrobe for him. A shopping spree is fun whether it's for yourself or not.

Four years went by very quickly for his Dad and me, but I remember all too clearly how college feels like a lifetime. Here's a glimpse into those four years.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated his senior show.

Last summer he celebrated his birthday trying to make the Millennium Falcon fly with Darren. His dad got in on the act and they finally got it airborne.
He also got to meet the very famous (and very hospitable) Chicago artist Karl Wirsum.

In his third year he took a second bronze casting class.

This is the fifteen pound mask he made in his first bronze class. Everyone else made belt buckles. I'm just saying.

In his second year of college he went as Jesus for Halloween, which I found both high-larious and strangely convincing.

In 2010 we spent spring break in Florida, because Ben won a trip for four to Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center when we went to the premiere of Star Trek. One of the most fun vacations EVER.
We also sold our house in Skokie that year, and so this is the last picture I have of Ben and the cats on the deck.  *sigh*

But the four year journey began here, on the beautiful campus of Elmhurst College, with Ben entering his freshman year. We were all so excited. Ben kept saying, "It's not YOU going to college, Mom, remember?"

I'm so proud of him. He more than handled the transition to living on his own, organizing his classes and jobs and studying and making it look easy. He learned a lot, and talked to me about plays he was reading and his psych classes and the Fauves. He drew and painted and sculpted and took great photographs. He made some great art and some great friends, from football players to musical theater majors. He worked really hard, at the gallery and filming football games and practices in all weather. He played a lot of Angry Birds. He texted me at two in the morning (I didn't answer). He lived in three different dorms and in a house with a few friends.

Now, the world is his oyster. And he owns a DKNY suit.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Green and Blue, Ole!

The weather has been so grand, sunny and clear, cool enough for a cardigan but warm enough to skip tights. Like living in San Diego.

Tuesday I wore my cloverleaf green Talbot's cardigan, cadet blue Talbot's knit skirt, Ann Taylor Loft scarf, and Born boots. I am constantly on the hunt for a dress in this color green. Talbot's has a couple of sleeveless versions, but then I'd have to wear something over it in the office, which defeats the purpose of wearing that lovely bright green. The Vivienne Files showed a pretty green Dorothy Perkins dress today, but it appears to be a little short for me. A side note, I'm very fond of this particular blog because she mixes high/low pricing consistently, and introduces me to new brands all the time. Dorothy Perkins is British, reasonably priced, like Boden, and has a U. S. site here. It is wonderfully easy to navigate. Not as CUTE as Boden, though.

I experimented with the scarf at my waist:
But I felt a little bit too flamenco:


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Great Wardrobe Switch

This weekend it reached 90 degrees, so I felt motivated to put (almost) all of my boots, cashmere sweaters (proud owner of four!), gloves and scarves, long-sleeved t-shirts, and about forty pairs of Smartwool socks away for the summer. I also brought a dozen pairs of sandals out of their boxes, a Rubbermaid container of tees and shorts, and a couple of summer weight scarves. 

I am always surprised at how much WORK this is. After about three hours of bending, lifting, wrapping, bagging, and going up and down to the storage unit, I have to take two Ibuprofen and call it a morning. This mid-year review also points out the items I didn't wear, not once, or the things I did wear but should not have, and those get put aside for Goodwill. Three pairs of shoes bit the dust. One pair I actually put in the trash with the tea leaves to ensure I did not fish them out again. More folding and lifting and bagging. There is also the vacuuming and dusting as I stir up dust rhinos and endless cat fur. Buffy hides underneath the couch, convinced we are moving.

Last year I switched closets, too, but this year I realized that was INSANE since they are both in my bedroom. That's an old habit from when I had to move clothes to another room (and another floor) in my Skokie house. There are very few items I wear year round.

But, look! I had forgotten I bought these sunny creatures last year in October on Amazon for a pittance. Still for sale there!
Kenneth Cole Shine Through Sandals
And THESE beauties, oh, my feet love these Arturo Chiang sandals. I should be so lucky to find another pair this year. I've only seen them at Lord and Taylor. They give me some height, are super stable, and go with everything.
Now, of course, it is 65 degrees again, but I don't care, because it gave me the chance to wear The Sundance Jacket! Yes, I bought it, and it is fabulous. It's also wool, and will be put carefully away in my closet for this fall. But NOT YET.

I felt like wearing orange on Monday, and was muttering to myself about having packed away the matching orange sweater on Saturday.  Then, because the Sundance jacket was just hanging there, I put the two together and saw how the bitty plaid actually was burnt orange and teal blue! Tres fantastique! The sleeves are long and intended to be rolled up. Here's a closeup of the jacket ruching and the blue thread in the buttons.
It was a bit too warm to wear the jacket all day, so mostly I looked like this.

Riley looks perfectly square. I could wrap him in Kraft paper and mail him. The pants are Talbot's cords, with that slightly annoying Signature rise, which hits me at a podgy spot. I much prefer the Heritage cut.

Yes, I got a haircut for my birthday too. I was feeling like I needed a visible CHANGE in my hair, and Ivana said, "Pixie?" "Yes, please!" I had a pixie like this a few years ago.
Me and Veronica at the Dewey - 2010?
It was also my birthday on Sunday, so Ben came out to visit. He took me to Home Depot to get some plants and a new chair for my balcony (pictures to come). There's nothing Ben enjoys more than languishing with the cart while I mull over little pots. Thank God for the iPhone. In previous years he would have nothing to entertain himself with while I compared the virtues of pansies to impatiens. That young man can be pretty saintly.

Then we had The Eating of the Chinese Food and The Cake, and watched Sherlock. A perfect day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

On "Uniforms"

Sally over at Already Pretty posted a brief post on the idea of fashion uniforms - not scrubs, but rather, "tunic with leggings and boots" or "dress and a cardigan and cute shoes". I gave it some thought myself. I tend to dress in the style of particular women (fictional and otherwise).

Joan Holloway Harris at the Office: Pencil skirt, fitted sweater or blouse, pumps and stockings. I know this flatters my figure, but I can't wear heels every day, and sometimes the narrow skirt feels like a hobble. I like to take long strides.

Heather: And not from the movie. My awesome colleague Heather, who wears big interesting accessories, floaty and drapy tunics, leggings or narrow pants, and cool boots. I don't do her justice. Whenever I put on a belt I'm thinking of you, babe.

Heidi: My OTHER fabulous colleague has a fantastic eye for texture and layering. She specifically inspired the Deadwood look. We own a lot of the same pieces from Talbots and Boden and J. Jill, but she puts those same items together in really interesting ways. I always try to remember color, texture, pattern and shine, or What Would Heidi Do? I miss being inspired by her every day.

Who do you emulate?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Red and Brown, Farewell to Boots

I have really resisted the move to regular shoes, or Heaven forfend, sandals, this year. We had that aberrant and fabulous heat wave in March, and even then I could not bring myself to unveil my toes.

However, I've faced reality, and this is the last you'll see of these red boots. 

From the ground up: Boden red boots, Boden red and brown skirt, Talbots brown cotton twinset, slightly shrubby hair.

I am going to try boots with skirts this summer. My Born boots are comfortable without socks or tights, so they're a possibility. I find boots so much more comfortable than most shoes. I hate to put them away in their little coffins for months.

Because I'm missing my old garden in Skokie a bit, here are a few pictures of it in full June glory.
Tulips, sage, allium, lilacs

Ruby wiegela
Burgundy irises
I am not unmindful that pride is a sin.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Comfort is Not Everything

Friday outfits tend to be based on a certain sentiment of "Yay! Nearly the weekend!" Sometimes this leads to trouble. Here I am trying to create a waist for myself in such an ensemble.

Good luck with that. A belt would have helped, but that wouldn't have been perfectly COMFY. This was, however, perfect for lying on the couch watching Grimm. As a rule of thumb, a work outfit should not be the same outfit you wear to be a couch potato.

I had a perfectly lovely weekend. Saturday morning I attended a memorial service for the wife of a Rotary friend. A sad occasion, yes, but I almost always find memorials very revealing and heartening. The family tells stories, shares history and reminds us all to behave as we'd like to be remembered. This lady, whom I had met only once, seemed to have lived her many decades with joy and vim and faith. She surely wasn't a saint, but as her 60-something daughter said, "I want to be like you when I grow up."

Getting to and from the service involved a two mile walk, admiring gardens and lilac trees and enjoying all the good smells of spring. After that I felt virtuous enough to eat lunch and take a nap. Then I read a new-to-me author (Kerry Greenwood) for the rest of the day, alternating with laundry, etc. (but not very MUCH work).

Sunday was my Mother's Day treat, in which I get to spend the day with Ben. This year was lunch, The Avengers (thumbs up, Joss!), a latte and stroll around the beautiful Elmhurst College campus, capped off by the senior voice recital of one of Ben's wildly talented friends. His mother was also in the audience, and he did two special songs for her which got us all choked up. 

Andrew sang a classical program of lieder and Mozart and one particularly moving song called Come Ready and See Me. So beautiful. The second half of the recital was contemporary music, with a chorus of friends; Sondheim, MacDermot, Schwartz, etc. I LOVE show tunes, and I was surprised how much more I liked the classical program. A chance to hear Andrew's voice unadorned.

I hope every mother had half as nice a day as I did.   

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shocking Pink and Camel

I'm sure you know that Elsa Schiaparelli coined the phrase "shocking pink." And that she created a endlessly imitated hat with a shoe on it after posing with Salvador Dali's wife, Gala, with a slipper on her head. The Met Ball has honored her this year with an exhibit subtitled Impossible Conversations. I want to go to there.

I probably can't, so yesterday, I wore my shocking pink cashmere sweater instead.

The sweater is from Lord and Taylor, and is getting a bit pilly, but I'm not ready to go on the hunt for its replacement yet. Maybe next year. The skirt is my flirty camel Talbot's skirt.  

The shoes are my exceptionally reliable Eccos, and the lavish necklace is from Kohl's.

These shoes address the question of "Used shoes? From eBay? Really!?" I have had mixed success with used shoes on eBay. I have two pairs of Eccos (taupe, above and black, seen here) that I bought for about $20 each that I wear all the time. Eccos used to be my go to brand, but they are nowhere near as interesting, sturdy and comfortable as they were ten years ago, and I do not buy them any more. 

I've also purchased shoes that worked tolerably well, or once and then never again, or Dear Lord No. I can't honestly say I recommend the practice, but it isn't the "used" part of the transaction that bothers me. I just bought a pair of peach-colored Boden oxfords that I think will be very cute in the summer. 

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Purple and Green, and Comfort

This is from Friday, May 4th, way out of order - I found the photo in my mail box somewhere under the pile of pics from Ben's show, last minute frantic emails about the Rotary fundraiser, and some thoughtful back and forth with Heidi about shoes.

This is actually what I wore to the fundraiser two weeks ago (I did wash everything in between), though technically I was supposed to be wearing my Rotary sweater.  I forgot.

Talbot's green velvet jacket, J. Jill wine-colored cords, and a Lord and Taylor top in lovely flowy chiffon. The shoes are my Ecco black stalwarts. I have been feeling a little podgy around the middle lately, and this outfit is both pretty colors and very comfortable. Ha - I just did a Chic Librarian blog search for the word "comfortable" and got 33 hits.
There are very few things in my cool weather closet that are not perfectly comfortable. I have a couple pairs of pants (no more than three) that are a trifle low cut and give me a bit of muffin-osity. One or two skirts are a trifle snug in the waist. There are also a few items that are a bit too loose occasionally, like these wine-colored cords. They are a relief when I went out for Greek food for dinner and have a salt hangover the next day. Truly, if I didn't like salty food so much, everything would fit perfectly!

I know the lighting isn't everything it could be here. It's all coming from over my head, so my hair looks very shiny, but the colors of my bottom half are muddy. I could put another light source on the floor, maybe. Certainly I could make the effort for dark pants and skirts. I take pictures in the evening after work, and the cats are snarling for dinner, and I'm often feeling a little snarly too, so the pics are taken in that first ten minutes after I walk in the door. You can see, above, that I fed them first, and that Buffy is shoving Riley aside to get at his food dish.

Yellow and Green, How do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.  I love thee in a Vera Wang tank, a Macy's crocheted cardigan, and in Talbot's cords.

I also love thee in velveteen and ponte, and I even love thee when I'm discarding thee. Tomorrow's post will be green and gold, which is practically the(e) same.

Hang on, abrupt segue approaching. 
Over the weekend I started thinking, "You know that feeling you get when you're getting ready for a first date, and feeling a few butterflies? How it might be great, it might be dull, it might at least involve a nice dinner?" Well, I HATE that feeling. That feels like ANXIETY to me. That feels eerily similar to some of the board meetings I've been to in the last year.

Now, I get that many people like that thrill of anticipation. There are situations where I like it too - when I'm about to go on stage, for example. Whether I'm acting or talking to a crowd, that frisson is pleasant and energizing. It makes me sharper and more enthusiastic and more entertaining.  

But that is because I know what I'm doing on stage. I don't know what I'm doing in relationships; or at least, everything I've learned goes out of my head at that moment and I become a fourteen-year-old again. I want to do what I'm GOOD at. And I fear the outcome of dating. Stage = applause, in my experience, and dating = tears. Public speaking is cake, and dating is  . . . something less tasty. Or eating too much fried food. Oh sure, it's fun for a while, but you sure feel lousy later. Sorry, I may have lost the metaphor there.

I also note that I love picking out what I'm going to wear on stage. I love the "costume". On the other hand, for years I wore the same thing on first dates; dark jeans and a black silk top. It was a uniform, concealing rather than revealing.

So for now, I'm going to stick to dressing up and going to work. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Ben's senior Capstone show opened on Saturday, May 5th, 2012.  It represented months of work on his part, two separate presentations to a panel of art department faculty, and the bravery necessary to show his efforts to the entire campus (the show is in the student center). Being Ben, this wasn't presented as a big deal.

Here are three of my favorites. They are all on themes of oppression.



The Illusion of Self

And here is the artist himself (Thanks, Lyds!).

Many friends and family came: elder and younger, all of them admiring the work and the artist. Ben took it all in stride. His father and I kept saying to each other, "You did such a good job." I don't think I had all that much to do with it, really; Ben was his own person from birth, and that is why we all love him.

If you're wondering, I wore the Deadwood outfit.