Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Some Mules, Some Culottes and a Satchel Walk Into a Bar ....

... and although I can't come up with a punchline here, I was so cool and and happy wearing them on a very hot evening, I don't mind leaving that title-set-up flapping in the breeze without its punchline.

I found this pair of denim culottes (with the tags still on them!) while closet diving. I vaguely remember putting them in the "alterations needed" pile some years back, and although I don't remember what I was going to do with them, I slipped them right on and was as tickled as if they were a brand new purchase.  This flowy tunic is just one of a dozen shirts and tops I'll be able to wear with these. 

Whether the top I choose is shorter or longer, this silhouette just cries out to me for a dressy heel, so ... ta-daa! Meet my new black mules ... with a tiny, cushiony mini-platform for comfort and that extra height I never mind pretending to own.

When I first saw this little satchel, I didn't mind a bit that it had bright yellow panels on either side, with warm and cool beiges and some subtle black trim.  I love that it's a color interesting a lot of designers this season, but for me it's a problematic color to wear ... just like it seems to be for a lot of women. Seems like everyone and their giddy aunt is wearing it on a tote this year as a good solution, so this little bag seemed like a fun variation on the theme.

And since I'm loving yellow, blue and white together this summer ... ta-da Part 2!  I bring you an inky blue, rough denim shirt (with popped collar, of course) with my blue and white batik culottes.  A yellow belt, the new satchel and I'm set. 

These culottes were only recently a pair of long palazzo pants that I felt looked more like sister-wife-wear on me than a garment meant for traipsing lazily about on the cool tile floor of an Italian villa.  Snip-snip, hem-hem, and there we are.  I haven't seen any printed culottes here in South Fly Over yet, so that's a problem solved.

Nude, buttery-soft leather mules make me so happy with this outfit.  I love these.  In fact, this particular pair of shoes (which I have been looking for more than a couple of seasons!) have inspired me to make a serious effort to wear the shoes I love much more often than the ones I just like or seem merely practical at the moment.  If I got hit by a WalMart truck, I'd hate to croak knowing my especially-beloved shoes where not worn completely out.


At the very last minute as usual, I'm ducking just under the wire to attend the Season Finale of Patti's Visible Monday . Sincere thanks to you, Patty, for the wonderful past year... and I'll look forward to Fall even more than usual for the season premier of your brilliantly cast link-up!  Ahem.
Come on over to see the red-carpet looks at VM.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Artifacts from my Way-Back Machine

I'm always interested in bags and shoes. And shoes and bags. Always. But this year, stores and the glossies seem to be offering so much more of them both to love, so I'm not surprised that they are so especially intriguing to me. Some years for me it's skirts or dresses or tunics. This year looks like it's shaping up to be the Jan's Year of the Accessory.

We are enjoying strangely extended mild spring temperatures this year, with lots of rainy days, so I've been enjoying a few more days that I can keep comfortably wearing the perfect-for-me, long sleeved, crisp, white and black tailored shirts that I discovered last year. They'll make way for similar-but-sleeveless tops in the miserable heat that is coming soon (and as you see below, the transition is already underway) but I've been digging the unexpected extra opportunities to wear them with my recent and typically Jan-Come-Lately discovery of straight leg jeans on the skinny side. This very simple combination just begs for a great shoe and notice-me bag ... I know "third pieces" are not supposed to be about the shoes, but I think they can often function that way with very casual outfits. There are so many fresh looking shoe shapes, many of them creative iterations of retro classics, that it's easy to focus on feet-first outfit planning. A bag, too, can make a huge difference in how polished a basic shirt-jeans combo can look.

I was shoe shopping when I found this Boho-beauty, and it was a huge accessory crush for me at first sight. I had a similar bag long ago, a much loved and more rustic version in the way-back, that sported antiqued brass metal rather than the shiny and sleek silver fittings of this more polished design. My current tastes don't usually run to strongly Bohemian looks, although it has never gone away and seems to be enjoying some extra fashion-passion from trend lovers, classicists and vintage enthusiasts alike. I was there for the late 60's version and have frequently dipped a toe into some revivals in the decades between then and now. We eldest are so often cautioned that "if we did it the first time around we shouldn't do it again" but this bag, for me, is an illustration of why we absolutely should do it again and as often as we wish.

One of the things I love about having lived through the decades of style that I have is that I can enjoy the evolution that allows past favorites to reappear, renewed and reinvented and with refreshed relevance.

It occurs to me that the white, sleeveless shirt-waist, complete with popped collar was typical of the late 50s-early-60s. By the late 60s and 70s, it would have been looking dated, and the fringed bag would have been paired with quite a different look ... my straight leg jeans wouldn't have arrived yet and the bag would have paired with bell-bottoms. The wooden platforms were throwbacks even then to the 40s and 50s, and now I'm happy to reintroduce them (yet again!) to other pieces from other decades. Like the rest of the pieces, it's become a classic in it's own way, and I am delighted to field the compliments I've been getting. I fully admit to enjoying again the swish of fringe when I walk, without going full-on hippy chic from the Summer of Love. This slightly sleeker version of the my grubbier, rougher, Woodstock-era carryall has evolved, and so have I. (Just from the era ... I wasn't AT Woodstock.) Neither of us are exactly the same as we used to be, but both of us in our current versions are more versatile, more useful than we were then.

And if that isn't a perfect excuse inspiration to indulge in a new bag in a style from my youth, I don't know what is.

(The color isn't as true as the photo above, but you can see
what a nice drop it has from the shoulder.)

That's it for this week ... come with me over to Pretty Patti's 
Visible Monday and see what all the glamourati are up to!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


It does NOT seem like almost a month since my last post, but it's that, just short a couple of days. Wow. During my absence, we've had thunderstorm-intense weather with lots of rain (we did need the rain) followed by some gray, chilly days and all that has been unsettling for tornado wary folks here. Dan and I spent a lot of these weeks annoyed and inconvenienced by March Madness nonsense and dealt with customers staying at home because of tax time (an annual non-treat for us, too.) We've spent an inordinately large chunk of the lost weeks reestablishing our stuff with a new primary health-care provider ... another ultimately good thing, that. 

 But my last nerve finally shredded last week because I was still afoot after the old-car debacle of some months ago, and Dan had to coax me down from the tree-tops with a promise of car shopping. At least I thought it was my last nerve, but I found I had still had some left to be frazzed during the compulsory shenanigans pulled by the local, good ol' boy used-car dealership in the process. I have no proper words for this experience, really. But I do have a decent vehicle that ought to be returned into my anxious arms tomorrow after a critical bit of repair is finally completed. So, that's really good and I can only rejoice that it's about freaking time at last !

So, that's some of what I've been doing. Oh, yes ... I almost forgot having to face the dreadful, cold squeezies of the Mammogram Monster. But the result was clean as a whistle, so more good news to report. Yay.

During all this day to day stuff, I did manage to take pleasure in the change of seasonal wardrobe and bring a few items from last month's list out to play! Look ... I managed photos as well!   

So nice to be able to jazz up old favorite combos with a fresh pair of kicks. Keds Double Ups, in this case, and I was delighted with the slightly thicker sole, matching red pin-stripe and red laces! Delightfully and magically, the red laces relieve some of the gunboatish quality that old-school tennis shoes sometimes have. I'm not crazy about how I look in large, flat RED shoes, so they've been worn since then with rolled up BFs, sloppy T shirts and my coolest sunnies. They work better in that context on a short girl, I think, and make a trip to the grocery store a little more fun.

 I wore this on a trip to town on one of those thunderstormy days and tried a nude shoe where I might have worn a bolder color. The otherwise uninteresting and matronly top worked pretty well with pale coat and shoes and a mid-blue pair of skinnies.   I always get compliments when I wear this coat, and I like that it makes a faint swishing noise when I walk. Nice to get one more time to wear it before it gets too hot.

I always go after handbags and shoes if I'm unsettled about everything else ... so here you see a pale pink, white and nude one from Call it Spring (JCPenny) with my favorite rose gold-tone accents.

I couldn't make this photo do justice to the rich cognac color blocked with black in this Sorial tote. It's much better IRL, as are the cognac mules. I could really fall hard for these "straight leg skinnies" from Old Navy. They may be my new favorite jeans cut as they definitely remind me how elongating and curve-flattering a longer line can be.  I like this current iteration of the straight leg; it's like my old style, wider, straight leg stacking jeans married a pair of skinnies and had these!

Ah. That's better, closer to the real life color. Along with black and white, I'm seriously attracted to brown, blue and black combos in all the possible variations for this spring, so there's more to come.

I've been wanting these windowpane pixie pants, and got them at deep discount. Not as huge a pattern as the black and white plaid version I showed you not long ago, and closer to flattering, I think. I'm enjoying wearing fitted shirts like this one with a collar to pop, and the close-but-not-tight fit feels like a good thing. 

Speaking of shoes and bags to make me feel grounded; I love this chunky heeled and thick strapped pair (Steve Madden) and adorably cheap-and-trendy clearance bag from good ol' Charming Charlie ! I'll get the good out of it with all the black and white graphics that are appearing on my radar. Stay tuned.


So.  That catches me up, and I'm off to check in (sooner, I hope, rather than later) with all the Glamazons and Glamoratti at the Lovely Patti's Visible Monday .  I need to see what you're all up to!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Crashes In

Rather than her usual dignified and gently gradual arrival, spring's appearance here felt more like a teenager slamming through the front door and flinging herself dramatically on the couch, shouting "I'm HOME!" in case you somehow missed all the commotion. Two weeks ago, my pasture was snow covered at 28 degrees, followed by another week of mostly rain with temps in the high 30s, turning my pasture into a soggy gray-brown mess. A couple of days ago it was 74 degrees and sunny, followed by a couple of days of soft rain. There's green grass that's suddenly all over the place and some of the white-blossomed trees are already in bloom, but today we're under our first major thunderstorm alert with tornado watch at 78 degrees.

I wasn't ready for this kind of arrival. Although I knew logically that spring would be here any minute, this winter seemed eternal, and I was not ready for this Snow's Gone-I'm-Here-Right-NOW entrance. Consequently, I'm suddenly digging around for warm weather clothing, and our springtimes don't last very long so we could be into summer in nothing flat. Yikes.

Happily, I can now wallow in a satisfying fantasy of looking and feeling lighter and more optimistic after the weight of this last winter. To last winter's receding back I shriek, " ... and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!" I always look forward to winter's arrival, but am particularly relieved to see the back of this one.

Google Keep is a list-making app on my phone that I've been using to record notes on Spring Stuff that Appeals and Interests. This year especially, the array of retro ideas that designers are re-approaching is extra fascinating. I'm charmed with the idea of evolved versions of my old favorite statements and silhouettes. Since I'm old enough to have loved and worn earlier iterations, it's like personal validation to see them enjoyed and appreciated again, with fresh inspiration applied in current context. Feels good to know what was groovy then still shows some potential now ... just like me!

More playtime with old playmates, but with the advantage of hindsight. I have questions, though. The best part of fashion revivals is that they're not exactly the same as the first time around. So how, exactly, does that translate, and how, exactly, is the old good idea made new and better? Here's some of the ideas that interest me the most:

Consider implications of modern Boho elements.
I actually wrote that pretentious little exhortation to myself, but it's not a bad bit of advice to me from me. See, although I love the Romantic era as well as Bauhaus modernism, I have a hard time integrating them into a single visual idea. After a few seasons of fascination with more minimal silhouettes, my little soul is craving a bit of Boho. Maybe. Where do I put it, though, and how to play with it this time around? No set opinion on this just yet ... stay tuned.

Shoes! A broad subject always of interest to me with several elements:

1. Platforms ... shop the closet!
As a short woman, my joy at their renewed availability is palpable. And I'm smug that I didn't pitch my favorite ones in recent purges. Out they come.

2. Big, blocky heel sandals, lowish & high
These haven't been around much in recent seasons, and I'm happy to see them again. The first time around they felt rebellious, as we differentiated ourselves from our mother's stilettos. Nice to have both shapes playing nice in the store windows!

3. Mules
Here's evolution; I wouldn't have worn these on a bet when I was a younger woman. They had a louche quality to them when famously worn by bad-girl bombshell actresses of the late 50s, suggesting high-heeled bedroom scuffs, festooned with marabou pompoms. They've changed a lot and now look more modern and a bit tougher with a higher vamp or strappier versions with a chunkier heels. I like that remaining hint of their slightly sinful past along with what seems to my eye a more sophisticated, cooler construction. They've come a long way, baby, and I like the new iteration a lot.

4. Red sneakers ... just because.
Got 'um, love 'um. My size goes early, so very specific shoes are always a first seasonal purchase. So cute, I think. You'll see them soon. As Dan said, though, they're "very un-Jan-like" but that's probably the best reason to add them to my mix.

5. Nude Sandals and Shoes
I have several pairs of these, in different shapes and styles, all much admired but rarely worn. They go with everything, are said to lengthen the leg, but they always seem the second best choice. But with such a strong emphasis on neutral colors, I intend that this will be the spring-summer when I figure out how to best style them. I really want to know how to wear them to best effect. Any ideas, tips, rules I don't know or silly-wild-ass-guesses are welcome.

Graphic dress and shift dresses
Sewing projects!? Yes, I think so. Stay tuned. The two ideas combine in my imagination. I love the idea of a graphic print in a shift shape. A classic shape that is noticed again and welcomed with pleasure. Below, I recently pushed the season a bit and gave this bright shift it's first outing. Making it cower beneath a blazer and pairing it with work shoes isn't the best presentation, but you'll see it again in sleeveless comfort as the weather warms.

(Shift dress from JCPenny)

Long tunic tops / Asymmetric tops with leggings or skinnies
I love this look, and I love how easy it is to wear, dressed up or down. Especially with cute summer sandals. I'm all over this one, but I know when I'm this dizzy for a look, I'd better check twice in the mirror for proportions.

I welcome these back too, and I love the sleek, minimal ones. Maybe these are the elusive, summer-time Third Piece solutions to my personal style puzzle. A good style principle, but always a challenge in hot humid climes.

Suede? Really? Suede for summer?
Interesting. What if I made an easy Ultrasuede tunic or even just a minimalist top? (Not likely to see any of this in stores around here any time soon.)
A recent Dillard's sale netted a ridiculously low price on some light cognac-ish suede sandals that I adore, and that might about all I can manage for this intriguing idea.

Straight leg jeans
Here's where I have lots of questions. I dug out some "straight" leg jeans from my past, but nowadays they look like wide leg jeans. Terms have changed, shapes evolve, and I've found that a modern take on this cut is basically a skinny that is straight from the knee but not tapered to the ankle. That's what I'm using as a working definition while I figure out if these can be flattering on me or not.
Again, stay tuned.

(I'm serious.  I need some feedback about modern straight leg silhouettes and how to wear nude shoes to best effect.)


I'm heading over to the Inimitable Patti's at Visible Monday
Come see how spring is evolving for a whole lot of fabulous people!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Mojo Calls Home

Thanks so much to all of you who wrote and expressed sympathy for the loss of my mojo. I wanted to let you all know that she finally called very late last night!  She was happily inebriated and all giggly, declaring loudly that she was okay but not coming home until the weather warms up a lot, and that I'd just have to manage by myself for a while. She wouldn't tell me where she was calling from, but I could hear raucous laughter and steel drums and what I thought might be crashing surf in the background.  Of course, I checked caller ID but the number was blocked. Bitch.

What I want to know is where she got the money for a plane ticket.

So, I'm on my own for a bit but you deserve an update.

The weather here, like so many places, has been too rainy, snowy, windy or just plain cold to photograph outside.  So I finally got a bit of blank indoor wall space cleared where there is some decent light.  I sort of like the effect of the natural light, but I see that I'll need to devise some kind of fill light-reflector-thingy as the shadows intensify my wrinkles facial flaws a bit more than I'm thrilled with.  I'm comfortable with the better focus in my new camera showing more of them, but I'll be damned if I let them be exaggerated.  I'm getting better with the camera as well, so I haven't completely wasted the time away from the blog!

As you know, we mostly take these on our way out of the house when we head into the Big City for supplies.  This was on a miserably cold day, and on top of this I wore a big old coat, big old scarf, and fleece lined gloves. 

Photographing indoors invites more dog bombs.  Here you see our elderly boxer, Sophie, wondering why Mom is standing here all weird and posey-like.  She's also asking to go with us, but it was not to be.

Last weekend it warmed up considerably, and we had a very mild, 60ish-degree Sunday, so I decided to go all peep-toe in a pair of Ralph Lauren mules I lucked into.  Some recent closet diving netted my old minty trench ... I'm sorry that I wasn't able to capture its elegant, slightly shiny texture.
I have to remember to wear this outfit again.  Salespeople were amazingly attentive, like I had money or something. Had to be the coat.

.As one does this time of year, I've been feeling like the Goodyear blimp, so I'm pleased that these monster plaid pants don't look too bad.  Especially with my perfect-for-me, curvy and crisp white shirt.  I had a nice day wearing this outfit.

I'm off to begin catching up with all of you over at the Incredible Patti's Visible Monday !  I'll be over to check in as soon as possible.