Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HOW to get aWAY with MURDER

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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I was taking makeup pictures by the door when I realized that there was a much better backdrop right next to me.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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!
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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.
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 I don't really have a good enough camera or sense of timing to capture said antics, but you get the drift.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Growing out a pixie cut

Since this week I'm talking a lot about what's going on on my head, I figured I'd do a little update about the stuff that's growing out of it as well. I've got a lot of pictures of my face, so, um, sorry? Or possibly you're welcome?
You might remember that back in May, I chopped off pretty much all of my hair. I went from shoulder length with bangs to a Jean Seberg inspired pixie cut, and I was (and still am) really happy with the decision. So much dye, so much heat styling, so many products - my hair was pretty fried, and the big chop was a necessary step.
One of the things that I was concerned about before I did it was the lack of styling options that is inherent in having very short hair. When I had a pixie cut before, I was very much in a wash-and-go phase, so I never really even attempted to explore different short styles. This time around, I was looking for them, and they're definitely there.
If you're contemplating a cropped cut or thinking about growing yours out, I do have a couple of pieces of advice.
1) Buy a tiny curling iron.
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Very similar to the one that I own, but somewhat nicer since it has settings other than hot and really hot.
I ended up owning a curling iron that I think is 1/2 or 3/8 inch in diameter because it came free with the larger barrel curling iron I actually wanted to buy. When I had longer hair, I pretty much forgot that I had it, but it comes in so handy with my shorter hair. Things like texture and the placement of your part might be the only things you can really change when you have very short hair, so appropriate tools can feel like a lifesaver when you're having a bad hair day.
2) Embrace a little shagginess...
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A really sharp, crisply cut pixie is a thing of beauty, but if you can't get to the salon every month (or can't afford to go every month), learn to love the growth. I'm actively trying to grow my hair out, but even if you're not, the softness of a slightly overgrown cut can be really pretty too.
3) ...but shave your neck.
I mean, if you want a mullet, that's cool, you do you, etc. But assuming you don't, regular neck trims are a must. If you're maintaining short hair and don't have the time or money for a full trim, it's the fastest way to look sharp if you're getting a little unkempt. When I was growing my hair out the last time I got a short cut, the best thing my stylist talked me into was getting an undercut at the back of my neck once I hit my awkward, not-a-pixie-not-yet-a-bob stage. It gave the rest of my hair time to grow out, and helped make the transition a little more graceful.
4) Take time to play.
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Freshly washed, no products, no styling. Still not my favorite look, although I'm a little more accepting of it now than I used to be.
I had a period not long after I cut my hair where I was kind of cursing the decision. My natural hair texture is very straight and rather fine, and short hair that just lays against my head isn't really a great look for me. It was a really good thing to me to realize that, oh hey, maybe the reason I don't like my hair is because I'm not doing anything with it. It can take some time and effort to find ways to style your hair when you don't have much to work with, but they are there. Products, curling irons, flat irons, hair pins, pin curls - all of these things are your friends.
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I did this on kind of a whim because I didn't want the front of my hair to just hang limply out from underneath my scarf.
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When I took the pincurls out, this is what I ended up with, and I really like it.
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It's become my go-to style lately, because it's very easy to recreate with a curling iron and takes about 10 seconds to do.
I know that I've said this before, but it's actually a pretty fun process going through all of these stages of growth, and it was one of the reasons that I opted for such a short cut. Sometimes I'll find a style that I love, but it will only work for a week or two before my hair grows just enough that it won't curl the same way, or lay the same way. It makes me feel oddly philosophical - it's a follicular reminder to live in the moment.
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Yesterday's hat. Why are bathrooms the perfect place to take a selfie? I never get the lighting and angles right outside of one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bad Hattitude

I mentioned yesterday that I'm trying to justify the slightly ridiculous number of hats that I own by actually, you know, wearing them. I fall in love with them when I see them at the store, but when it comes to incorporating them into my every day life, I either forget that I have them, or put them on, decide they're too outlandish, and take them right back off. Hence, this project where I make myself choose a hat to wear every damn day for the next week. I'm actually considering extending it for two weeks, just because I realized I have that many languishing in a big pile o' hats, sad and unworn.
Of course, human beings have a long and storied history of wearing crazy shit on their heads.
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This one is actually pretty simple, by the standards of medieval noblewomen.
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And this caricature of Marie Antoinette is certainly a little exaggerated, but only a little.
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Hats didn't really get any saner when we hit the start of the 20th century either.
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You guys know I love Carmen Miranda, but the woman was not a minimalist.
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Shoes on heads and vagina flowers in the background. Tres chic.
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Beautiful, and comparatively simple, but this would require some serious hat pins (and possibly some super glue) to stay in place.
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This hat may be the least complicated thing that she's wearing, actually.
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Compared to all these other fabulous ladies, I'm feeling a little plain Jane. (By the way, I'm not saying I took this picture while sitting in my bathtub, but I'm not saying I didn't take it there either.) It's good to get a little perspective about what really constitutes an outlandish hat.