Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Boots & Billy Pilgrim

Red reading glasses found at Meijer (my very first pair) do double duty as accessory with my favorite Old Gringo sugar skull boots and an embroidered lace jacket. I found the tulle and cotton dress in a local Austin, Texas boutique last fall.
If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, you probably already know from a recent post that I've recently succumbed to the need for reading glasses. It took exactly two days for me to understand why people usually own multiple pairs, and it's not just because they want to match every outfit. Those little suckers are hard to keep track of! 
The bead and crystal pendant was a Parisian find several years ago.
That said, they really do make a difference, whether I'm reviewing a contract or reading Slaughterhouse Five for the second time. I first experienced the famous Kurt Vonnegut novel as an 8th grader, primarily because it was one of THOSE books... you know, the ones behind the counter at the school library that require a permission slip from your parents to check out.
The embroidered jacket is a remarkable match for my embroidered, handmade leather boots. I've had the boots a few years, but stumbled across the jacket last month at Steinmart. It had a black lining when I bought it, but it obscured the intricate detail of the sheer embroidered outer fabric, so I cut the lining out of it.
I decided to read it again this Spring because I've been frequenting the author's childhood home in Indianapolis. Though I didn't know it when I first met Billy Pilgrim and Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut is a Hoosier native, having spent his early year in the city's Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Over the last several months, the historic home (rumored to be haunted) has been transformed into this year's St. Margaret's Hospital Guild Decorators' Show House
When I bought these boots, I thought I'd forever be stuck wearing them with solid colors, but a year later I happened on this floral print dress from Zulilly; and then in December while walking down the street in Downtown Las Vegas at midnight, I hit the jackpot with the sugar skull purse from a street vendor (and I was even wearing the boots and dress at the time). These boots have some good juju! 
As a member of St. Margaret's Guild, I've been fortunate to witness the transformation of the home first hand, but from April 29th - May 14th, you can see it, too! The Show House is a tradition dating back to 1907, giving central Indiana residents the opportunity to peek inside some of the most architecturally significant and historic homes in Indianapolis while also showcasing the latest design trends. As if that weren't enticing enough, all proceeds go to support Eskenazi Health and its programs for underserved populations. Find out more and get your tickets here.
The Guild also hosts other events related to the Decorators' Show House, one of which includes a special celebration of Kurt Vonnegut by another reknowned Hoosier author, Dan Wakefield (of "Going All the Way" fame). If you're a Vonnegut fan (or a Wakefield fan), consider joining me on the evening of May 3rd for a tour of the show house and gardens followed by appetizers, beverages and personal stories about Vonnegut from his friend, Wakefield. Reserve your spot here. It's the perfect way to celebrate "the Year of Vonnegut" and support a great cause at the same time.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!





Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Ghost of Easter Hat


Deja vu - my Easter ensemble circa 1977 is uncannily similar to my weekend brunch outfit, though my choice of "accessories" has changed!
This weekend I was fortunate to take part in a delightful Spring champagne and chapeau brunch hosted by a dear friend. Hats were de rigueur, and as I chatted with other guests about all things millinery, someone asked if I had always been a "hat girl." 
The heart shaped heels on these shoes from Amazon are everything, and they're very comfortable. I added the aqua shoe clips to coordinate with the dress.
In truth, I didn't truly embrace the hat (baseball hats excepted) until my mid-twenties. Specifically, it was during a trip to San Antonio with girlfriends the weekend after I took the bar exam in 1999. We went to an art fair, where I met a local milliner and fell in love with a handmade embroidered linen sunhat. When I put it on and looked in the mirror, I felt so...me! After that, I was all about the hats.
Dress (Jessica Howard, Amazon); Cardigan (Neiman Marcus)
Yet, last night when I was looking at photos from the brunch and thinking about Easter, I suddenly had the strongest sense of deja vu...and after a bit of digging through a drawer of old photos, I uncovered the Easter Sunday photo taken on the sofa (or the "davenport," as she called it) at my Grandma Spangler's house circa 1977. 
Heart shaped sunglasses complement the heart-shaped heels, and my Kate Spade champagne bucket purse was a "must" for a champagne brunch. The hat is from Steinmart, but was a plain white base - I added the aqua details.
I had to laugh at the similarities between my brunch outfit and the dress/hat combo I sported as a five year old, from the aqua and white color scheme right down to the ruffles. I guess I was a hat girl just a few years earlier than I thought...though the "accessories" have evolved from stuffed chicks to champagne!
A huge thank you to my beautiful friend, Christy, for hosting a fabulous Spring party celebrating champagne and chapeaus (and for teaching me how to saber a champagne bottle!)
Wishing you all a peaceful, joyous Easter celebration filled with His grace (and maybe a Reese's Egg or two).
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Giving Back is Always in Style

If you saw my last post, you know how excited I am to be on the first Board of Directors for The Gifted Gowna 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide formal and semi-formal attire free of charge to both women and men who would otherwise miss out on special occasions because they can't afford to dress for them. Last Saturday, the organization hosted a public event geared toward ensuring central Indiana students in need wouldn't miss their proms for lack of a beautiful dress or dapper tuxedo. I am so excited and humbled to share that in five seemingly short hours, we were able to help 152 young women and men from 31 different schools!  
Our volunteers all sported stylish Gifted Gown tees like this one. FInd out how to get your own below! You may wonder why this post doesn't include photos of Saturday's prom event. I'd love to share all those smiles with you, but The Gifted Gown takes the privacy of its guests seriously and we would never take or share photos without permission. Plus, we were so busy helping more than 150 young men and women that there wasn't much time to take photos anyway - a great problem to have!
While it's unfortunate there is so much need in our community, how beautiful it was to see the smiles on the faces of students (and their moms) who were quick to let us know how welcomed they felt by our volunteer personal shoppers; and how impressed they were by the diverse and high quality collection of prom attire we were able to provide in sizes for every figure. This event would not have been successful without the support of so many individuals (and a few local businesses) who donated formalwear and accessories (much of it brand new), as well as the cadre of volunteers who showed up to help sort, size, set up, shop, and break down our temporary "boutique" at The Hatch, which was generously donated for the day. I would love to extend a personal thank you, by name, to each and every volunteer who helped make the event such a success, but I don't want to risk leaving anyone out! 
My "Giving Back is Always in Style" tee from The Gifted Gown worn Red's Shoe Diaries' style with an embroidered tulle skirt (Eliza J, Nordstrom), a fedora (Marigold Boutique), and grey suede ankle boots (Karl Lagerfeld).
Of course, The Gifted Gown isn't just for prom and it isn't just for students.  If you or someone you know is in need of formalwear for any occasion at any time of the year (eg., weddings, military balls, homecoming dances), The Gifted Gown is here to help! Right now, the organization manages "non-prom" requests on a one-off basis, working with each client in need to pull a few potential ensembles from storage and arrange a convenient place to meet. As a new organization, we don't yet have a permanent "home" where clients can "shop" our inventory in an easily accessible manner, but we are working toward that goal because the need is so great. If you'd like to help The Gifted Gown with its mission through a tax-deductible monetary contribution or a donation of formalwear, find out more here
A beaded necklace from Francesca's and the ultra-feminine embroidered tulle skirt provide fun contrast to the more casual tee and denim jacket.
You can also help by purchasing a tee shirt like the one I'm wearing in this post. These super soft heather grey Gifted Gown tees come in two styles: "Giving Back is Always in Style" or "be kind." They're a bargain at just $20, delivered, and all proceeds go directly to The Gifted Gown in support of its mission. You can ORDER YOURS HERE. Not a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal? That's okay - I'm not either, but I love these tees with tulle! 
Fashion is what you buy;
Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Fair Lady

The decision to go to my senior prom was last minute. I didn't have a date. I didn't have a dress. I didn't really have the budget for a dress (let alone time to find one). At the urging of a few close friends, I went anyway. My talented, supportive mother solved the dress problem as best she could, working diligently the night before to alter a dusty pink Laura Ashley bridesmaid dress I'd worn for a cousin's wedding at age 14 to fit my then 18 year old self. It was a pretty dress, but it didn't give me a lot of confidence. It didn't feel "special." In fact, I didn't want (and don't have) a single photograph of me wearing it. Fortunately, in the few years...er, decades...since that time, I've gained both confidence and a much better sense of my personal style and what looks best on me when it comes to formal events. My budget has also expanded (though I'll always be a bargain shopper). Yet, I still remember how uncomfortable and self-conscious I felt in that outdated dress that really didn't suit my shape or coloring (don't get me wrong, it was a pretty enough dress - it just wasn't a great dress for me). 
I found this vintage dress a few years ago in a resale shop. it was "new old stock" meaning it came unsold from a Department Store. I wouldn't wear it to a formal gala, but a vintage cocktail hat and jewelry; crocheted gloves; and a crystal evening bag up the glam factor to make it just right for a semi-formal event.
I don't want other women to feel the way I felt, or worse yet, miss out on important life events altogether because they can't afford to dress for them.  And that's where The Gifted Gown comes in! The Gifted Gown is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide formal and semi-formal wear free of charge to both women and men for special occasions (like homecoming dances, proms, weddings, and military balls). Everyone deserves to feel special, and to participate in life's festive milestones, without wondering how they'll pay for it.
Isabel Toledo shoes from Payless add a pop of color; an updo adds formality.
I'm so proud to be on The Gifted Gown's first Board of Directors, and I encourage you to learn more about the organization here. And, if you or someone you know in central Indiana is in need of semi-formal or formal wear this Spring or Summer but doesn't have money to spend on it, don't miss the organization's BIG EVENT this SATURDAY, APRIL 8 at The Hatch in Broadripple. We will be there from 9 am to 5 pm with more than 800 gorgeous gowns ready to make someone feel special! We'll also have shoes and accessories, as well as a limited number of men's suits and tuxedoes. No appointment is needed, and we'll have volunteer personal shoppers on hand to help. Because everyone deserves to feel special. 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Divas, Dancing, and Donations

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Dance Kaleidoscope's annual "Kaleidoscope of Dance" Gala as the guest of my friend and the organization's Board Chair Elect, Jim Anthony. This year's theme for the black-tie optional event was "Diva Fever." The evening celebrated the music of legends past and present, with many guests channeling their favorite divas from Tina Turner to Freddie Mercury. Unable to settle on a particular artist, I simply channeled myself, pairing a favorite vintage 1950s cocktail hat with other pieces already in my closet to create something "new." 
I discovered this 1950s hat in a vintage store in Chicago a few years ago. It's definitely not a "wear every day" kind of chapeau, but I've worn it a few times, each time paired with a different dress and accessories. 
This was my first time to experience the upbeat, high energy annual fundraiser featuring DK's fantastically talented dance troupe performing to live music, followed by fine food and more dancing (including some decidedly less talented dancing by yours truly). If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, you probably know that I am not the most graceful person on the planet. (In other words, I trip over my own feet. A lot.)
Pale pink isn't a typical Red's Shoe Diaries color, but I love the subtle pink and white floral fabric of this dress by Eliza J from Nordstrom; The shoes are Nina; The pearl and rhinestone bag is from Charming Charlie.
Because the event was a fundraiser, the evening also featured both silent and live auctions, as well as an appeal for monetary contributions from DK Artistic Director David Hochoy and his dancers. As I listened to them talk about the organization and its financial needs, I wondered how many people realize that ticket sales for performances by non-profit organizations like DK don't even begin to cover the cost of producing them. 
The vintage pearl topper is actually intended to be worn further back on the head (think of Jackie O's iconic pillbox hats), but I prefer it forward with a quirky tilt; The statement necklace is from Jazzy Jewelry Indy.
Rather, local arts organizations typically rely on grants and donations to support the high-quality, professional productions that people clamor to see while keeping ticket prices at a level that keeps them accessible to a wide audience. This additional fundraising is critical: EVERYONE deserves the opportunity to experience the arts; and artists who share their gifts with the rest of us deserve to make a fair wage for doing so. If you haven't explored the arts in your community lately, check out what you're missing! And if you're looking to take in a fantastic show in Indianapolis soon, check out Dance Kaleidoscope's upcoming performances here!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
You may also enjoy these posts featuring the same hat styled differently:
 
I'm also linked up with Hat Attack!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Four Eyed Girl

I do not have a happy history with glasses. I did not want them; I cried the first time I had to get them; I rarely wore them; I often misplaced them. My first visit to the optometrist in grade school prompted the kind of shoulder-shaking, lip-trembling, over dramatic sobs that insecure tween girls are given to. Oh, the wretched horror of having to wear glasses. 
Boots (Tommy Hilfiger); Glasses (OGI from Revolution Eyes)
I cried again in law school when I found out my eyesight had deteriorated to the point that I could no longer meet the minimum uncorrected vision requirements to qualify for the FBI, which was actually the reason I went to law school in the first place. The poor optometrist who delivered the news about just how nearsighted I was didn't know quite what to do with the sobbing mess before him. An awkward hug ensued. It did not make me feel better.
Hat (Jessica Simpson from Nordstrom Rack); Scarf (Amazon); Cardigan (ModCloth)
A few days ago, I nearly shed a few more tears when I realized I'm now having trouble seeing things close up, too, resulting in the need to add reading glasses to the mix. Does that make me a "six-eyed" girl? Can bifocals be far away? Oh, the wretched horror. Thankfully, in the past several years I've come to appreciate glasses, embracing them as accessory rather than merely a utilitarian necessity when giving my eyes a break from my daily contact lenses. Case in point, these unique ivory and tortoise OGI frames are the perfect complement to this whimsical eyeglass print dress.  
I saw this eyeglass print cotton fabric online and immediately envisioned it as a dress.
The dress was custom made for me by...wait for it...a Memphis based seamstress whose business moniker is "Four Eyed Girl." How apropos! Four Eyed Girl owner Ashley Whitten Kopera specializes in whimsy, and her dresses always fit just right (she's made four of them for me in the past few years). I find a fabric I love; send her a link; and she goes to work creating a one-of-a-kind piece just for me. Check out her shop here!
Statement jewelry in smoky quartz and opals from Ross-Simons adds a touch of sparkle to the simple cotton dress and cardigan combo.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
The silver and rose-gold Fossil watch is from Nordstrom Rack
You may also enjoy these "Four Eyed Girl" posts:
 
I'm also linked up with Hat Attack!







Sunday, March 26, 2017

Off-Stage Style Story

It may be a challenge to recycle the average bridesmaid's dress, but I'll happily wear hand me downs from the Indiana Repertory Theatre's costume and prop warehouse. This taffeta, velvet and tulle skirt that once graced the production stage is the best black skirt I've ever owned. Even better, it cost me a whopping...wait for it...five dollars!
The dramatic, wire-collared paisley top is from a small independent boutique in Bedford Indiana called Pretty Woman; I added marcasite and pearl brooches from Premier Designs jewelry Five Diamond Designer Sherrell Bundy Smith on each turned back sleeve to create a French cuff look. The Nina crystal shoes are from Amazon (find them here, on sale).
Wondering who let me loose in the IRT's warehouse and what other treasures I unearthed while there? Read more here. I was surprised to learn while scouring the several thousand square foot storage space that theatre "costumes" were more often than not high quality garments that could easily have a life beyond the stage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another back stage shopportunity soon! 
This versatile cocktail hat was an inexpensive Amazon find; The earrings are from Gordman's and were $2 on clearance, yet I have worn them to more black tie events in the last two years than my diamond and pearl fine jewelry earrings, demonstrating once again that cost that how much you spend on something is not particularly relevant to the "style" you embody.
In the meantime, a few weeks ago I wore the skirt to the IRT's Celebrity Radio Show fundraiser, giving it a theatrical comeback in the same historical venue where it made its debut. Though not on-stage this time around, the skirt still brought plenty of off-stage drama paired with an iridescent paisley top; crystal encrusted heels; and, of course, a cocktail hat. This is exactly how I prefer my drama: ONLY in my wardrobe and on the stage!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
You may also enjoy these "theatrical" posts:
 
I'm also linked up with Hat Attack!