Friday, October 24, 2014

In The Mood

Fun fact - Glenn Miller grew up in my home town. Fort Morgan, Colorado might be the only place in the country where small children are still familiar with him. In the basement of the public library, there was a little museum dedicated to local history that had an exhibit for him, and there was a button you could push that would play a little bit of In The Mood.
What does this have to do with today's post? Nothing, really, except that I'm in the mood for Halloween (I know, I'm sorry. I'll show myself out). It's funny how it infects my style as it creeps closer and closer. You could argue that my style is always a little costume-y, but when Halloween roles around, I start to feel like I'm playing a different character every day. That, I think, is one of the best things about the season - no one bats an eye if you look like you might be on your way to a costume party, because you might actually be on your way to a costume party.
It seems fitting that I included an autumn fairy makeup tutorial in my costume post yesterday, because this outfit definitely verges on the same thing. This is probably the second vintage dress that I ever purchased, and I still love the vibrant paisley print.
This little motorcycle jacket from Modcloth is probably the best thing I ever bought from them. It's very old, and the zipper doesn't work very well anymore, but I feel like the combo of black leather and khaki fabric goes with everything.
And this is definitely my Coco Chanel costume. I know, I know, I just said that I don't want to dress like a French girl, but... well, I guess I probably just don't want to be told to dress like a French girl.
These high-waisted pants from Asos are my new favorite thing. They are ridiculously comfy, and while the length means that I have to wear them with my highest heels, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
They're pretty dramatic looking, but they don't feel dramatic. They feel like pajamas. I think these are going to be my traveling pants from now on.
Brian's getting in on it too. He's got this whole "impoverished dock worker" thing going on. It's pretty hot.

Do you guys take the month of October as license to dress to kill, or is Halloween a one night only thing for you?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween Makeup Tutorials

Halloween is easily my favorite holiday. Any reason to dress up is a good one to me, and it seems that the groundswell of enthusiasm for the holiday has given people license to spend the entire month of October doing it. I've got a couple of costumes in mind for the season, but there are so many great makeup tutorials and costume ideas online that it's easy to find something if you're feeling uninspired, or waiting for the last moment to see what you can put together out of your closet.
Pop Art Girl
I love this straightforward tutorial from Emma Pickles about how to get the look of a classic Roy Lichtenstein pop art girl. It's the sort of look that doesn't require much in the way in materials (black eyeliner is pretty much your main tool), but is definitely a wow look that would make for amazing photos.

Silent Film Star
I'm so amazed by photos that I've seen of other black and white Halloween costumes, and this tutorial makes it look it look easy. My love of the 20s makes this one a no-brainer, and it also offers a good excuse not to talk to anyone at a party. No video, but she lays everything out really well in the article.
Silent Film Star Tutorial
Fall Fairy
An autumnal fairy would be a beautiful costume, and an easy one to accessorize with a short trip to the craft store to pick up some leaves and fall flowers. The makeup is a little involved, but it's the sort of stuff most of us have in our makeup boxes. A floaty dress is all you really need to complete the fae image.

There are more detailed and ghoulish zombie makeup tutorials out there, but I love the simplicity of this one. It would be pretty easy to put this together using items that are either in your makeup box already, or cheap and easy to pick up from Walgreens.

Kim Kardashian
If you really want to scare people, there's always Kim Kardashian. (I kid, she's fine, and a lot of the criticisms of her come across really misogynistic to me.) This video from Alle of XOVain is a hoot to boot.

You guys saw my horns in a previous post, so a deer seemed like a natural fit for me this year. I'm really excited to do this easy, pretty fawn makeup.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

To makeup or not to makeup

I read an interesting pair of articles on Buzzfeed recently. One is by a woman who typically wears makeup who went without it for a week; the other is by a woman who never wears makeup who put on a full face every day for a week. They did the challenges together, just to get both perspectives, and I found what they had to say really thought provoking.
A pertinent image from an article on
I'm the woman who never leaves the house without makeup. I guess you could say that I'm not entirely at peace with my looks, even now, but I was deeply uncomfortable with them growing up. I could look in the mirror and see a girl that I thought was cute, but no one else seemed to agree. I didn't date, and I didn't have a lot of friends, and in the way of teenagers everywhere, I thought it was mostly because of my appearance.
My mom didn't wear makeup, so it wasn't like I had anyone to learn from. It wasn't until college, when I could go into a department store and have them show me the ropes, that I started to figure it all out. I looked pretty ridiculous for a while - I would wear mascara, but not fill in my blonde brows; blush was either in poorly blended circles on the apples of my cheeks, or streaked up to my hairline. I had a penchant for very glossy red lips, which I'm sure went very well with the rest of the mess going on on my face.
These days I've got things down pretty much to a science. There are about 10 products that I wear almost every day, and getting them on, start to finish, takes about 30 minutes. It's a significant chunk of my morning, and sometimes I think it would be nice to skip it and sleep in, but even if I was running behind I'd find a way to do some of it.
Slightly different makeup, drastically different results. At least to me, but I'm way more aware of changes in my face than anyone else is going to be.
Reading those articles made me question the way that I think about wearing makeup. While I have never really thought of makeup as armor, which is how I've heard some people describe it, it is me choosing how I want to present myself to the world. People look at my face all day long, and I don't think I could deal with that if I wasn't wearing concealer, or mascara, or didn't have my brows filled. I am, literally, covering up things that make me feel vulnerable, which I guess is the textbook definition of armor. I wouldn't refuse to leave the house without it on, but my bare face just don't feel like my face.
Most of my normal makeup, but no eyebrows. I feel like I lose a lot of my expression by not having visible brows.
Practically speaking, the ladies who wrote these articles have hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes that are all the same color, which I don't. Am I just being pragmatic in "fixing" that, or am I giving in to something? Really, if I'm not some hideous troll beast with makeup on, why do I tend to feel like I would be so unattractive without it? And why is being attractive so important to me in the first place? Am I really just doing this for myself, or is my effort directed outward? There are a lot of questions that I really don't have the answers to, even though they're about my own feelings.
On the other hand, I like wearing makeup. I put it on even on days when I don't leave the house. However questionable the reasons are that it makes me feel good, comfortable, and confident in myself, the fact that it does all those things for me is something that I can only regard as good. It may not be the most empowering thing to redraw your face, emphasizing some features and playing down others in order to better conform to some ideal of beauty, but I do find it kind of empowering that we have that ability. 
Blue lips aren't really what I'd call man bait, unless the man in question is a necrophiliac.
The articles themselves are pretty great, but I did find the end graphics a little glib and trite. Sometimes, makeup does make you a little more beautiful, at least in the sense that things like smooth skin and large eyes and plump lips are considered beautiful. While confidence is a feeling and does have to come from an actual person, wearing makeup so that you don't have to feel bad or worried about some perceived flaw can certainly give your confidence levels a little boost.
I feel like I've been talking about makeup a lot, partly because I just tend to think about it on a regular basis, and partly because it's something that seems to be bubbling up in our collective consciousness. How do you guys feel about wearing makeup? Is it something that you do on a regular basis, for special occasions, or not at all? Do you feel like it changes the way that you see yourself?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HOW to get aWAY with MURDER

I think the idea of a "guilty pleasure" TV show is a funny one. It's not that I don't have them myself - actually, I don't really have "guilty" pleasures so much as I have "pleasures that I'm vaguely embarrassed about having but will still expound upon enthusiastically to anyone who will listen." The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, basically anything the CW puts out that stars really attractive people having drama and doing sex.
I've heard a couple of people refer to Shonda Rhimes' shows as guilty pleasures. I can't really speak for any of the other shows she's part of, but I started watching How to Get Away With Murder because it's buzzy and because I'm trying to get out of my supernatural teen soap opera box, and it's really a treat. It's a little campy and melodramatic, but frivolous to the point to guilt? Hardly. If the somewhat random caps in the post title don't make sense, just watch the first episode. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Normally I don't go out of my way to avoid spoilers, but this time I will because the show's just getting started and I really want to encourage people to catch up on it with me.
While diversity alone isn't enough to make a show good, or even interesting, it's definitely a major selling point in this instance. Their lead, Annalise Keating, is played by the very talented Viola Davis. They don't make the fact that she is black, or a woman, the sole defining aspect of her life, but it's something that subtly shades her character in the show. The last five minutes of the most recent episode have made a lot of waves, and for good reason - Annalise slowly strips away the layers of her armor, taking off her jewelry, her wig, her false lashes, her makeup, all while maintaining eye contact with herself in the mirror until her natural state is revealed.
You can read it a lot of different ways in context, but what it comes down to is an African-American woman removing all of the signifiers of assimilation, of whiteness, from her face on a nationally televised show. It's a bold and riveting moment, and it's played completely naturally.
The rest of the cast is just as diverse. There is a great mixture of races, genders, and sexual orientations. Inter-racial relationships are not just present, they're strikingly common, and again, played very naturally. There's more than one scene where the most prominent gay character, Connor, uses his seductive wiles on a chosen target, and holy shit are those scenes hot. How often do you see scenes involving gay men getting physical with each other on network television? How often are those scenes shot with the same sense of forthright titillation as any straight sex scene? Again, what's striking is how naturally all of this treated. It's not gross, or exotic, or other in any way.
Like I said before, it's a bit campy and melodramatic. Everyone's sleeping around and murdering people, and apparently everything about how it portrays law school is laughably inaccurate. There are two parallel timelines that the show follows - one is current day, in which someone (I won't say who) has been murdered, and a group of college students are trying to cover it up; the other one starts about three months ago, and follows a case of the week and the setup for the mystery of what's going on in the current timeline. The cases of the week vary in strength, but so far I'm finding the central mystery pretty involving. Some characters are definitely better developed than others - Annalise, obviously, is the star in more than just name, and Connor is the only character that I think has been given equal weight - but I expect that to improve as the show goes on.
Any fall TV shows that you guys are excited about? I'm also really enjoying Forever, and I'm also really interested in Jane the Virgin, which I've heard very good things about.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Working for the weekend

I am so freaking tired lately. I get up before 6am most mornings, and this time of the year the sun isn't even up then to help me out. It seems like Brian is having an even harder time, and I've started gradually turning on the lights for him when I get up to help him wake up easier.
My weekends aren't usually super exciting, but it's so nice to be able to take my time with things. I sleep in a little bit. I get up and make myself a breakfast that's not just fruit and yogurt. I take a long shower, and I do my makeup with a little more care than I can take on a normal morning. I usually walk down to the coffee shop and drink coffee and read for a couple of hours. I'll catch up on a little TV (Supernatural and Twin Peaks were the programs of choice this weekend), do some cleaning and some laundry, maybe work out a little bit so I don't feel quite to bad about all of the couch sitting. There might be a nap, because all that relaxing makes me sleepy.
With the days already getting so short, it's kind of tough to get good photos for here. I sort of like the dim, moody lighting of dusk on an overcast day, but it's not great for picking up details. This weekend was lovely, crisp and sunny, so it was nice spending some time out in the yard getting some good shots.
This may have been a very roundabout way to say that I took a lot of pictures this weekend. Check me out, y'all.
This sweater is Brian's, and I may have to steal it from him. Oh, and I bought a beret. Does that invalidate my rant about not wanting to dress like a French girl?
I haven't worn an outfit like this in a while, but I used to dress like this pretty much all of the time. Over-sized top, leg-baring mini, tights, boots - that was pretty much my fall uniform. It's kind of nice to fall back into old habits once in a while, but I don't think that'll ever really be me full time again.
I was taking makeup pictures by the door when I realized that there was a much better backdrop right next to me.
The leaves on the tree are this brilliant shade of chartreuse. I know people say that taking photos all the time distracts us from really experiencing the moment, but I think taking pictures actually helps make you aware of things you might not have otherwise noticed.
So this hat is probably my favorite of all the ones that I own right now. I saw it at Vintage Underground, passed it over, and then spent a month thinking about it. There's just something so flamboyant about the broad brim, the bright green color, the gold braid that practically drips from it.
It's different from anything else that I own, which is probably why I love it so much. It does have the unfortunate tendency to go flying off my head at any stray gust of wind, but there's a strap to keep it in place. A little dorky, but no dorkier than chasing your rogue hat down.
It makes me feel like a bullfighter, or at least the hostess at an Argentinean steakhouse. (I should note that I don't really know what bullfighters do, other than swirl their capes dramatically. This might have already been obvious.)
Some details. 
Brian's parents did take us on a tour for part of Open House Chicago, which is a pretty interesting event. Different buildings and companies open up for free tours, and the one that we went on was of a concrete factory, which was surprisingly interesting. I'll be putting some photos of that up on Instagram, if you want to check them out. 
And Halloween is just 11 days away! I'm definitely going to have some costume ideas popping up on here before the big day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Leopard is a neutral

You know what's weird? I felt like I had so many hats until I started wearing them every day, and now I feel like I need more of them. Just a fun, colorful one. And maybe a cute cloche. And a gray one. And maybe a leopard one...
Obviously, at a certain point, I reach maximum hat density, but it could take a while.
I'm starting to feel like hats both are and aren't accessories. It's sort of like shoes - sometimes you just grab your black flats that go with everything, and sometimes you have to build an outfit around a particularly interesting pair. I'd say most of the hats that I bought so far fall into the interesting category, so I've found myself reaching for sleeker, more modern, more subdued items in my wardrobe to let the hat stand out.
Well, sort of. I don't know if two tone shoes, bright blue, and leopard really count as subdued for most people, but hey, I'm wearing plain black pants! That never happens!
Something about this outfit made me feel like Michael Jackson. Maybe the shoes. I just felt like I had to try and dance around and get up to antics.
 I don't really have a good enough camera or sense of timing to capture said antics, but you get the drift.
I'm bending over backwards (well, sideways) to get good pictures!
This is actually the hat that Brian bought me that sparked my interest in vintage hats. I don't wear it very often, just because it is such a HAT, but I found it really fun with an outfit like this.
I love the combination of yellow and gray, and I think these photos turned out pretty well, but I would probably not wear this outfit this way again.
I don't know what it is, but I'm just not totally happy with it. This hat, I believe, is from the 30s, but there's a slightly Edwardian feel to it that I don't think meshed as well as it could have with the rest of the outfit.
For someone who usually is like "fuck rules, fashion should be fun!", I'm actually kind of weird about matching my tights to my boots. These tights are just slightly bluer than these boots, and it drives me crazy. I actually own a few pairs of gray tights because last winter I kept buying them, trying to find a perfect match. Seriously, how hard is it to find mushroom gray tights?

I'm still going to be in hat wearing mode this weekend, so hopefully I have something fun to show you guys on Monday. It might be a new hat. You don't know my life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Some of my favorite hat wearing, vintage loving bloggers

I love looking to other bloggers for style inspiration, and accessorizing is one place where I need a lot of it. Although I'm sure I'd still own some hats if I didn't see them in the blogosphere, the aplomb with which these ladies wear their varied and stylish chapeaux has definitely inspired me to step up my game.
Oh, and I don't own any of these photos, they are the sole property of their creators. Just FYI.
Solanah, Vixen Vintage
Come on, what list would be complete without her? She's gorgeous, she's got a killer hat collection (or at least, she did; I know she's moved away from vintage blogging a little bit), and her outfits are so varied and expressive of her personal style that she can't be imitated. Vixen Vintage is one of the first vintage blogs I ever read, and she pretty much tops my inspirational style list.

Tanith, Tanith Rowan
This Aussie milliner's blog is amazing. She not only creates amazing modern and vintage style hats, she's a great educational resource, and has done a whole series of posts on hat trends of the past. I really like to go back and reference them when I pick up a kind of random new hat that I'm not sure how to wear, since the vintage photos are a great reference for accompanying hairstyles and accessories as well. She's also hugely, adorably pregnant, so help put her baby through college and go buy one of her hats.

Jessica, Chronically Vintage
You guys all know Jessica, so I'm sure it comes as no surprise that she's a mad hatter after my own heart. And she's got an awesome name, so there's that. One of the things that I admire most about her style is her knack for accessorizing, and her amazing Etsy shop is beautifully curated and reasonably priced. I seriously want half the stuff in there.

Laura, Paper Mothball Vintage
Laura's got a little bit of a leg up in the "wearing things and making them look awesome" race, since she's actually a professional model. However, she's also an excellent writer, an even better photographer, and a seriously talented designer, so you'd be mistaken if you thought she was just another pretty face.

Just Another Wardrobe Experience
I think what I love most about this German blogger is how naturally she wears everything. She can be dressed head to toe in 40s gear, but she never looks like she's wearing a costume. The casual elegance with which she incorporates her hats into her wardrobe definitely inspire me to pop one on myself.

This, obviously, is not a complete list of all of the vintage bloggers who wear hats, or all of the vintage bloggers who wear hats that I like. It's really just a few of the ladies out there who consistently make me stop and say wow every time I check out their blogs. If you know of any other hat-crazy bloggers out there that I didn't mention, please give them a shout out in the comments. I could be that I haven't heard of them, and it would be awesome to find a new favorite.