Friday, September 19, 2014

Squares and Drapes

*curtains rise*
"My momma always told me that you have to be a lady to get ahead in life. No one likes a vulgar woman, she said."
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"My momma was like a pretty bird in a cage, singing the songs that she'd been taught, and teaching me the same ones. How to laugh and smile at their jokes, and never disagree with anyone about anything. She says it's the only way to get through life as a woman. I never told her how much I hate biting my tongue."
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"For a long time I still tried to be the lady that she wanted to me to be. But then, one day, I realized something..."
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"I don't always have to be good anymore."
*cue music - M.I.A. Bad Girls*
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"Now, I wear leather jackets and tight skirts. I also stare moodily off into the distance, just so show people how intense I am."
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"Seriously, it's all about the moody stare. And the really, really tight skirt."
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"I actually wish someone had mentioned that being bad would involve shapewear."
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"Ooh, puppy!"
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"But clearly, I was always meant to be a bad girl. I mean, just look at my butt. No, really, look at my butt."
*curtains fall*
Outfit 1:
Cardigan: Banana Republic
Shoes: Zara
Outfit 2:
Skirt: Ann Taylor, thrifted
Shoes: Seychelles
Jacket: Modcloth

Ok, so you guys know that I like dressing to a theme, but I thought it would be funny to try to construct an actual narrative from the photos that I took this week. It kind of struck me how one of the outfits was very "good girl" - a full skirted, high necked, long sleeved dress with a cardigan, in muted mustard and navy - and the other so stereotypically "bad" - tight skirt, red top and red lipstick, leather jacket. It wasn't intentional, but I'd say the split suits my personality pretty well.
I sort of forgot that I had this pencil skirt. I thrifted it last year for something like $3, and the nice thing about it is that it has a fair bit of stretch. Unfortunately, I really do need to wear some kind of girdle with it (I'm actually not wearing anything here) because it's so tight in the hips and thighs, as you can probably tell. MY ASS CAN'T BE TAMED.
Actually, speaking of ass tamers, I just ordered a new girdle from Rago. I already have their open bottomed girdle, and while I like it, there are some serious chub rub issues on my upper thighs. The one that I ordered is their "leg shaper," so I've got high hopes about both the comfort and the shaping abilities. I should have a review for it next week.

I hope everyone has a kick-ass weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cheap Thrills: Bargain Basement Jewelry and My First Piece of Bakelite

I went from zero to sixty in terms of my interest in jewelry, it seems. It wasn't that I didn't like it before, but now I see it more as a part of my wardrobe, rather than just an afterthought. The nice thing about it is that it's much easier to find cute, inexpensive vintage jewelry than it is to find cute, inexpensive vintage clothing. If I have to have an addiction, cheap jewelry is one of the more harmless ones I can imagine.
My dealer of choice for vintage jewelry has turned out to be an antique store on the north side, near Brian's place of work. It's called Ya Ya's Antiques, and I was surprised to find out that they've only been open for a couple of years. They have that cozy, cluttered feeling that I thought took a couple of decades to create, and I love pawing through their "2 for $5" bins of jewelry.
When I went in this weekend, he had an even better deal going on - virtually everything in the store was half off. So now the bins were 4 for $5, and even the more expensive jewelry in the cases was in my reach. It's probably a good thing I only had $20 on me...
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I was so in love with silver confetti lucite that I didn't look too closely at the construction. I was under the impression that they were earrings, but...
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The backs weren't like any clip on earrings I'd ever seen. I can actually still wear them (I have stretched ears), but I was curious about whether they're actually earrings, or something else entirely.
I asked on Instagram this morning, and one person told me they're actually scarf pins. Kind of cool, right?
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These are actual earrings.
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I was so happy to stumble across this brooch. If it's not a set with the pretty hairpin I picked up there last time, it's a weirdly close match.
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I don't think I'm actually going to keep this one. It struck me as cute when I picked it up, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it might be culturally insensitive. I might be overthinking things a little bit, but that's exactly the kind of cultural appropriation that I try to avoid in my own life. Any thoughts?
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This one was not from the bargain bin. This pretty dress clip is actually my first piece of bakelite! Probably my last one too, since I don't have a particular interest in collecting it, but I really like dress clips, and he was willing to drop the price all the way down to $15 for me. I just couldn't pass it up.
Do you guys have any not so guilty pleasures, or inexpensive ways to get your vintage fix?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be smokers

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So, here's my deep, dark secret, which is really only a secret from the internet, because it's sort of hard to hide from people in the real world - I smoke. I haven't had a cigarette for about two weeks, which is a pretty long stretch for me, but I'm feeling a little stressed out, so I'm trying really hard to fight those cravings.
Both of my parents smoked while I was growing up. I remember being deeply disturbed by the anti-smoking ads that were on TV when I was in my early teens, and begging my mom to stop, even running out of the house in anger on a couple of occasions. My parents always smelled like stale cigarette smoke, and they both had that deep, hacking smoker's cough. In my dad, that later developed into emphysema and congestive heart failure.
The obvious question to ask, then, is why did I ever start? Honestly, I don't know. I smoked cloves very briefly in college, mostly because I liked the taste and the look of the black, sugared paper. I smoked one too many one time, though, and now the smell just makes me nauseous. I guess it really started, as a lot of stupid things that young women do, with a guy. I dated a guy that smoked, so when he would smoke, I would smoke. It didn't seem like a big deal - I would bum one from him once in a while, and then one or two a day, and then he'd get annoyed that I was smoking all of his cigarettes and I'd end up buying my own pack. There's no sharply defined transition between occasional, social smoker and that person that's huddled under an awning when it's -10°, desperately puffing away.
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When I young, I didn't realize how hard my parents were trying to quit. It seemed like they smoked constantly, but I also remember a lot of nicotine patches and gum being purchased. My mom had probably been smoking for 20+ years, my dad for close to 40. After so many years, I'm not sure what was stronger - the force of addiction, or the force or habit.
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I hate that I'm repeating their mistakes, but in a way, I understand them so much better than I used to. There are so many things that make me want a cigarette. I'm a huge stress smoker. When my father died, I sat on my porch for hours, chain smoking between bouts of tears. Being angry or frustrated makes me crave them. Drinking makes me crave them. Seeing other people smoke makes me crave them. Seeing anti-smoking ads makes me crave them. Talking about smoking, right now, makes me crave them.
Even though I know that, after one or two of them, they're not going to make me feel good; that they're going to make my clothes smell; that they're going to give me wrinkles; that they're going to shorten my fucking lifespan, I still want them. There's this stupid little part of my brain that thinks "come on, just one more pack. One more pack, and then I'll really quit forever. And look at all the cool people that smoke. Models and old movies stars and people like that. If Lauren Bacall does it, why shouldn't you?" It's just hard to keep saying no when saying yes just seems like such a reasonable thing.
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But it's been almost two weeks since my last one, and somehow I've managed to keep saying no. Brian's birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I've made a deal with myself that if I can keep on the straight and narrow until then - healthy eating, no drinking, no smoking - I can debauch myself a little bit while we party. The promise of a little craziness in the future seems to be helping me restrain myself right now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

I used to watch this show obsessively when I was a kid, and I hated the fact that they could never catch her. "Why are you stupid kids so stupid?!?! You suck!" I was not the most patient or understanding of children.
Anyway, I know I'm missing the signature red trench, but as of this weekend, I now have not one, but two lipstick red hats. It's funny - I never used to like red very much, but as of this winter I just want to live in it. I'm also really into a slightly Dior-ish silhouette. I love the volume that this trench has, especially when paired with more fitted bottoms.
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From Saturday, with my new hat. I realized recently that none of the hats that I own actually have brims, so I'm trying to rectify that.
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Partly because if a hat has a brim, you can do that mysterious thing where you pull your hat down over your eyes. 
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I feel like this outfit, from Friday, is a little more artsy. Must be the flat shoes.
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Trying to do the old fashioned model poses. Note to self - girl, you are not Dovima.

I had a pretty solid weekend. Saturday included some shopping (more on that tomorrow), meeting up with Brian for a tasty lunch, then grabbing Polish food for dinner and playing Katamari with a friend. Sunday was a little more low key - about all I did was get groceries and nap, so I'm calling that one a success. 
What did you guys get up to this weekend? Anything fun? There was a huge music festival in the city this weekend, and while I didn't attend, I could still hear it from my porch. Given that there's about 2 miles between us, that's pretty impressive.

Outfit 1
Hat: Vintage Underground
Trench: Forever21
Pants: Topshop
Shoes: Asos

Outfit 2
Hat, Skirt: Vintage Underground
Trench: Forever21
Shoes: Asos

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's fall, bitches!

According to the thermometer (if not the calendar), yesterday was the first day of fall. It was chilly and cloudy, staying below 60° the entire day. Do I actually have to tell you how much I love it?
Ok, I know I'm probably getting a little bit repetitive with all of the "I love fall! Fall clothes! Pumpkin spice everything!" cheerleading, but I can't really help it. I do genuinely enjoy all of the seasons, at least for a little while, but I love fall all the way through. It's the back-to-school thing, I think; it's that sense that anything could happen, that there's an entire new world of possibilities open to you. It's like New Year's, but more so, at least in my opinion, because there are actual, practical changes. And, of course, growing up it was the only time of the year that I could reliably expect to get new clothes, so there's that.
But whatever, enough introspective bullshit about why I like fall. I promise, that was the last of it. Let's talk about how cute I looked yesterday.
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I may have gone slightly overboard with the blacks and browns and bronzes, but whatever. I was excited.
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This was my attempt at a sexy face. I'm pretty sure I just look like I want to murder someone. Thoughts?
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The view from the back. I love how this cape comes to a point, it's such a nice little detail.
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A couple of close-ups to show off this lipstick and this bracelet. The bracelet is from Topshop, and it's one of the few souvenirs I picked up for myself when I was in Dublin last year. I actually find it really annoying to wear, but it's so cute that I'm trying to acclimate myself to it. The lipstick is Sephora's Rouge Cream Lipstick in Truth or Dare.
I don't know where you guys stand on furs, but in the past few years, I've come to accept that I like them and want to wear them. I think there are a lot of issues with how they're produced these days - like all mass production involving animals, a lot of the time they're kept in poor conditions and killed in ways that can be unethical and unnecessarily painful. However, I eat meat and wear leather, and while I try to make sure that that is ethically sourced, it seems hypocritical for me to say that fur is bad because... ?. With vintage furs (which both of mine are), it just seems like a non-issue. The animal has been dead for 50+ years, and what are we supposed to do with them, if not wear them?
I'm probably over-thinking the whole thing. I mean, I can't remember the last time that I actually encountered someone that had something negative to say about the fact that I wear fur. I've heard people online say that they don't wear theirs out and about very often because they think Peta's going to track them down and throw paint on them, but that's such a silly rationale. They're not lurking on street corners with buckets of paint, waiting fur wearing folks to pass them by.
So, what do you guys think? Do you have special things that you're waiting, with bated breath, to bust out on the first cool day? Or are you more of a "throw a sweater over my sundresses" type?

Shoes: Seychelles
Skirt: Asos
Top: f21 (gifted from a friend. It's got foxes on it!)
Fur: Paper Moon Bakery (a coffeeshop/bakery in my neighborhood that usually has a rack of vintage clothes. This was only $10! The tarts we picked up for a dinner party cost more than this thing did.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Links to love

I've got some great reads for you guys today.
Flashback Summer: Loving Your Body vs. Making a Change
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This is something that I've been thinking about in my own life. While I don't have any major weight issues, I have had a bit of creeping weight gain over the past few years. Part of me has just done a mental shrug, but I also know that it's easier to keep my weight down now than it would be to lose 5, or 10, or 20 lbs a few years down the road. What I think is a really important is continuing to love and respect yourself, even if you don't fit your own ideal. I don't think hating your body gets you anything but an eating disorder. You should always try to be your own friend, even when the temptation is to be your worst critic instead. After all, you wouldn't tell a friend that she's fat and ugly and gross and no one will ever love her. Why do so many women tell that to themselves? 
Ask Polly: Why Don't the Men I Date Ever Love Me?
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Absolutely epic letter from an advice columnist to a woman who wrote in. It's worth a read, and it's definitely spurring me to find my spark. Say it with me: I. Should. Be. Cherished.
Use This One Word If You Want Your Facebook Posts to Do Better
Congrats
Well, now I know how I'm going to start all of my status updates about blog posts. "Congratulations, world! You get to read more of my wit and witticisms."
The Afghan Girls Who Live As Boys
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This article was really fascinating to me. What's interesting is not just that this happens, but that it happens regularly, and is accepted in society. It reminded me a little bit of something that I read about Albanian Sworn Virgins - women in the western Balkans (these days, mostly just in Albania) who swear to remain celibate in order to live their lives as men. Like Afghanistan, Albania is a strictly patriarchal society, and in the absence of a man to take care of the things that a man is supposed to take care of (like earning money or providing protection), women have to find some kind of workaround. While I deplore the necessity for it, I have to appreciate that there are accepted measures that women can take, where everyone kind of acknowledges that there has to be a way to circumvent the rules sometimes.
Take a One Way Trip From Tatty to Natty
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And she eve handles her own luggage.
I love this article about the virtues of dressing up when you're traveling. Sure, there's something to be said for wearing comfortable clothes as well, but there's never really a good reason to be strolling through the airport in your PJs. When I think of glamorous travel, I always think of this photo of Dita, strolling through the airport looking like a million bucks. Sure, most of us don't have her means, or a hoard or paparazzi waiting for us when we disembark, but I like to dress like I do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Facts About Me

With the plethora of "20 things about me" posts that I've seen lately on blogs I read and on instagram, I realized that I've never really done a getting to know you kind of post. Not that it's strictly necessary, at least in my case - I tell you all about me all the time anyway. Still, it's a rainy day, and I'm a bit sleepy, so this seems like an easy way to get through Hump Day. Twenty facts seems a bit excessive, so I thought I'd go with a more moderate ten.
1. I spent the first 16 years of my life in Colorado. No, I have never been skiing.
2. I bought my first vintage dress (it was a beautiful 50s shirt dress with a rose stripe pattern) about four years ago. My dog destroyed it about three years ago, and I still miss it.
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3. When I was a kid, I would make up the most ridiculous stories, like that I was adopted from the Netherlands and had forgotten about it until I found the diary that I had written when I was still there, or that I had published a book but it was only available in Rhode Island. I'm pretty sure no one believed me.
4. The library in my home town had a great selection of pretty old books, and I would read the Oz books obsessively. My favorite color is green because I would pretend that green things would magically transport me to Emerald City.
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5. I have pretty... eclectic tastes in music. I listened mostly to heavy metal and folk music all through high school and college, but recently I've gotten into what I've jokingly come to call "lady pop" - indie pop music with female singers.
6. I actually got my passport to fly to Norway to see the final concert of one of my favorite bands, a Norwegian folk rock group called G├ąte.

7. Although I don't sing much anymore, I studied opera in college and played with a band for a few years. I still really enjoy going to the Lyric Opera here in Chicago when I can afford tickets.
8. I am not a picky eater when it comes to most things, but I have some serious issues with texture. I've eaten Rocky Mountain oysters, balut, and more than one dish made with brains with some enthusiasm, but just looking at prime rib makes me slightly nauseous.
9. Tilda Swinton is one of my celebrity icons. I swear, she's some kind of elfin sprite who's been transported to our universe, not an actual human woman.
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10. Sometimes it actually, legitimately makes me sad to think that magic doesn't exist. When I finish reading a really good fantasy book, I'll often be kind of depressed afterwards.

If you comment, I want you to tell me one interesting thing about yourself. Have fun!