Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fourteen Favorites

Three Perfect Pieces
1. Polka dots, spectators, and vintage jewelry - three of my favorite things! (get the details in my original post)
It's hard to believe that 2014 is coming to a close. The year seems to have passed in the blink of an eye (or the change of an outfit, as the case may be). My simple blog posts are a chronicle of personal style and shopping tips, but they've also become a journal of sorts, and looking back over this year's entries reminded me again of the many opportunities and experiences I have to be thankful for. It also reminded me of some outfits I can't wait to wear again, so I thought I'd recap 14 of my favorite looks from 2014. 
Stripes of All Types
2. The coral pants have been in my closet for years, but a $7 scarf from Wal-Mart made them feel brand new. (original post)

3. Mustard yellow awning stripes have turned out to be more versatile than I anticipated, and I've paired this skirt with both green and navy. (original post)

4. The last thing I expected to buy while shopping in South of France was overalls, but this white cropped pair makes me feel like a French painter, and they're super comfy. (original post)
 The Sleek Silhouette
5. I tend to gravitate toward dresses with a fit 'n flare cut, so I was surprised to find that three of my favorite purchases this year featured narrower cuts below the waist. This navy blue Black Halo dress from Profyle Boutique feels like it was made just for me. (original post)

6. My friend Murph Damron spotted this graphic print sheath at The Secret Ingredient and knew I'd love the "Jody orange" color. I was skeptical of the cut when I first saw it, but the colorblocked sides are so flattering. (original post)

7. It was the chess piece print that made me fall for this vintage 1970s dress. I think if it were in stores today, it would sell like crazy. (original post)
A Plaid for All Seasons
8. Stewart tartan in a 1950s style cut to celebrate the holidays. This is one of the most comfortable dresses I own. (original post)

9. Pink and orange is such a happy color combination for summer, and the lightweight fabric of this sundress made it perfect for the golf course, too. (original post)

10. Chocolate plaid paired with dark cherry suede boots and a turtleneck was cozy chic, and also brought back warm memories of my Grandpa Coy. (original post)
Formal Affairs
11. I LOVE to get dressed up, and I'm fortunate to get several opportunities to do so. But, I'm not a fan of spending a lot of money on a dress that will only be worn once or twice. This Temperley London dress retails for more than $2000, which I'd never pay, but Rent the Runway made it a reality for me. (original post)

12. I love this old Hollywood style lace dress more than any other gown in my closet. I've worn it twice, and I already want to wear it again. (original post)

13. The "Jody orange" paisley print on this dress is amazing, and it was perfect for Zoobilation 2014's "Rock Your Orange" theme. (original post)
It's a Wonderful Life
14. This outfit came together at the last minute on Christmas Eve, but it made me feel like I stepped out of a classic holiday movie. (original post)

Happy New Year, and remember, Fashion is what you buy; style is what you do with it!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Christmas Eve Caper

Blackwatch dress (British Retro); Blackwatch umbrella and leopard belt (Ralph Lauren); Purse (Wilson's Leathergoods); Boots (
Christmas Eve brought raindrops rather than snowflakes this year, but warmer temperatures meant I needed only a capelet to ward off the Winter chill, and a blackwatch umbrella kept the rain from my wool plaid dress as we took in the lights and enjoyed the caroling of the post-service bells ringing from the cathedral on Monument Circle. The Circle of Lights really is spectacular in its holiday finery. Though I see it nearly every day as part of my commute, it had been some time since I'd stopped to appreciate the history and charm that is the centerpiece of downtown Indianapolis.
The leopard capelet is an Indy Style Swap treasure - find out more about it here
The city began decorating the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument for the holiday season in the early 1960s, its thousands of lights forming what is often referred to as the World's Largest Christmas Tree. The historic lighted landmark may not have a skating rink at its base like New York's famed Rockefeller Center, but the horse drawn carriages and 15 foot wooden soldiers standing sentry around its base make Monument Circle feel like the set of an idyllic holiday film. 
Pearl and crystal necklace (Etsy); Gloves (TJ Maxx); Hat (Betmar, Steinmart)(For more hat inspiration, check out Style Crone's monthly Hat Attack); Earrings (Nadri, Nordstrom); Bangle (Tory Burch for Fitbit)
Though all of the elements are contemporary, this dress paired with the leopard cape and red leather gloves also reminds me of classic silver-screen holiday style. Apparently the retro vibe wasn't lost on my friend, Jim, either, who remarked that it reminded him of Marlo Thomas in the late 1960s sitcom "That Girl," a series as well known for lead character Ann Marie's wardrobe as it was for her madcap capers. In fact, In Style magazine dubbed it one of the most fashionable TV shows of all time. Thanks, Jim - you made my day!
Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie in the opening credits of That Girl
Of course, he might also have been referring to my propensity for getting into Ann Marie-style messes... Much to my chagrin (but not to my surprise) as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas morn I found myself standing in the kitchen baking cookies in monkey sock slippers and Christmas pjs with nearly a dozen broken eggs at my feet. Just a few hours later, the kitchen floor was covered in three inches of bubbles after I accidentally used the wrong detergent in the dishwasher. At least all the soap bubbles removed any remaining egg residue. Despite my messes, it was a happy holiday anyway. I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas, as well!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tartan Tradition

Dress (Bernie Dexter); Cardigan (; Shoes (Isabel Toledo); Bag (Wilson's Leathergoods); Bangle (Tory Burch for Fitbit)
This weekend we celebrated Christmas with extended family on my Dad's side. It was fun to catch up with aunts, uncles and cousins I rarely see, many of whom drove several hours to join the festivities. We were a large and boisterous group of nearly 40, and the din of animated conversation filled the house throughout the traditional Hoosier holiday feast. My Great Uncle David knew how to get our attention after dinner, though, with a DVD slide show of photos from family holiday gatherings going back more than 50 years. It must have taken him a solid week to organize, digitize, and set all of those captured family memories to music. It took only moments for the room to devolve into peals of laughter as we watched younger versions of ourselves and our loved ones dance across the screen in the height of fashions (and hair styles) from decades past. There was also more than one embarrassed "oh my gosh, Daddy, is that you?" from some of the younger crowd.
Ruby and white sapphire pendant and earrings from India (Grace Boutique)
What I noticed, beyond appreciating yet again how beautiful my Mom has always been (and the undeniability of how big my hair was in the 80s), was plaid. Lots and lots of plaid. The iconic pattern of interlocking woven stripes was present in every form; in every generation; on men and women alike. My great-grandfather sported flannel workshirts in some of the earliest black and white photos. my Mom and Aunt Janet were stylish in head to toe plaid bell-bottom suits in the 70s. Even some of the tablecloths in my Grandma Norma's basement were plaid. The pattern was, quite literally, a common thread between the decades.
Glasses (Revolution Eyes)
I was personally wearing plaid of some sort in several photos, my favorite being the rust and brown plaid pants in the photo below (I actually have similar pants in my closet today!) It was only fitting, then, that I was wearing this black Stewart Tartan dress from Bernie Dexter for this year's fete. The tartan tradition continues...
With my cousin, Jay, in the late 70s. See my present day version of these pants here.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Tree Skirt

If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, it probably won't surprise you to hear that I'm a Christmas tree in every room kind of girl. Even my closet gets a tree, albeit in the form of this ponte knit skirt from Anthropologie. No kidding, this bell-shaped skirt has so much structure that it stands on its own in the corner of my closet like a little fabric shrub. I bought it last Spring to go with a favorite cobalt and kelly green polka dot silk blouse that I've had since 1997. I expected to wear it only in Spring and Summer, but pairing it with black tights, boots, and a black turtleneck makes it suitable for Winter, and the color gives the whole look a little holiday flair. I guess it truly is an "evergreen" skirt!
Given my penchant for (excessive?) color coordination, of course I had to complete the look with a black patent and green suede spectator bag by Relic; a green watch; and an emerald ring. It might look like the whole ensemble was purchased together but, in fact, each piece was acquired separately and without any regard for the other items. It's rewarding to pull together a brand new look from items you already own (and easier on the budget!)
The simple colorblocked palette also provided the perfect opportunity to wear a unique statement necklace from offbeat British designer Tatty Devine.  Every bone of this quirky matte gold T-rex moves separately. I discovered it on a trip to London in 2011 and coudn't resist. It's a smash with my 7 year old nephew, but also a surprising hit at the office. Tatty Devine designs are not widely available in the US, but Nordstrom sometimes carries the line, and online retailer Asos is also a good resource. Currently, I'm coveting this season's alpine skier necklace...
Hopefully, my evergreen skirt won't be the only indoor tree I get to enjoy this year. I typically start decorating for Christmas just after Thanksgiving and work systematically through the house embellishing stairwells, door frames, and chandeliers to coordinate with each room's decor. I even swap out duvets, artwork and dishes for the season. And the house doesn't feel ready for St. Nick until I've put the Leg Lamp in the front window, that oh so glorious, tongue-in-cheek Major Award greeting every visitor with the soft glow of electric sex. I like to clothe the house in all of its holiday finery by early December so that we can enjoy it all month, and I can turn my attention to baking Santa Bread, making stained glass cookies, and hosting holiday soirees. 
2013's lineup of trees (clockwise from left): the Great Room tree trimmed in copper, burgundy, and gold; the "beach room" tree; the "cowboy room" tree; the basement tree with its theme befitting the lakehouse setting; and a guest room tree. There was also an additional tree in the entry hall and two more that stood sentry on the porch, flanking the front door, but apparently I didn't take any pictures of them. Yep-I'm definitely not good at moderation...
But this year, several competing interests have kept me from my festive decorating frenzy. Christmas is just one week away, and I've had to admit that I'm just not going to get it done. So I'm trying "simplicity" on for size this year, putting up only a few modest decorations (like my Grandma Coy's hand beaded velvet treasures). I'm not really good at moderation when it comes to that sort of thing...(which may be the understatement of all understatements), and when I look at photographs of last year's trees in all their holiday sparkle, I'm disappointed I didn't find a way to make more time this year. On the other hand, the time I'd normally have spent decorating was used, instead, to create some very special gifts for people I love. Few things (not even the Leg Lamp) bring me as much joy as surprising people with the perfect present. For me, it truly is better to give than receive, and this year I am bursting with holiday spirit even if the trees aren't trimmed.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goodwill Toward Men

Fender T-shirt and Bass pants (thrifted); Jacket (Secret Ingredient); Fedora (Marigold); Leather brogues (Frye, Zappos)
In high school, I found and fell in love with a sharp, double breasted black suit with crisp white pinstripes. It was at Goodwill. It was a man's suit. The pants were too big. The sleeves were too long. I bought it anyway. With enough safety pins in the right places, I thought it exuded a Prohibition era "gangster glam" look, especially with classic black and white spectators (yep - my obsession with the spectator began in my teens). Too bad I never actually got it tailored to least it didn't cost more than a half-hour's worth of tips from a weekend shift at Pizza Hut.
The oversized zoot suit was my first experiment with menswear, but certainly not my last. In college, I favored men's Levi's, slightly baggy and cuffed at the ankles, with silk ties from the menswear store where I had a part-time job. I actually just wore one of those ties recently (see it here).  
Twenty years later, I still like to pepper my wardrobe with menswear, though I pay a lot more attention to fit and tailoring now than I did back in the day. I also still like to check out the men's departments at  thrift stores for hidden treasures that will blend into my own wardrobe. This Fender Guitar t-shirt and the glen plaid wool pants are two of my favorite thrifted purchases from the last year. I didn't buy them at the same time, or have any intention of wearing them together, but I really like the juxtaposition of a casual cotton T with classic wool flannel trousers. It's much less predictable, and far more "me" than plain old jeans and a T. The belted trench coat from local boutique Secret Ingredient and the Frye heeled brogues make the look more feminine, though even those items are also menswear inspired. 
When you're trying to find your own unique style, consider options beyond what's on the department store mannequin. Thrift and consignment stores are good options when you want to experiment without making a big investment, and don't be afraid to throw a little menswear in the mix!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Covered Cherries

Cloche (Charming Charlie)(check out Style Crone's monthly Hat Attack for more hat inspirations); Cotton turtleneck (Steinmart); Skirt (Jones New York); "No wire hangers. Ever." bangle (vintage); Watch (Michael Kors, Nordstrom); Ring (David Yurman, G. Thrapp Jewelers); Purse (Dooney & Bourke); Boots (Diba,
What is it about holiday candy that makes it taste so much better than the stuff you can pick up any ol' day of the year? Take the Reese's Egg at Easter time: it is, without a doubt, my favorite (the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is far superior to that in an everyday Reese's cup). I realize there are now Reese's trees at Christmas, hearts at Valentines Day, and pumpkins at Halloween, but to me they will never be as special, or somehow quite as tasty, as the egg.
Coat (Dana Buchman, Kohls); Gloves (Ralph Lauren, TJ Maxx)
At Christmas time, and on Christmas Even in particular, the candy nearest and dearest to my heart is the dark chocolate covered cherry. These little drops of sweet, syrupy goodness were the candy of choice for the "Silver Fox" (that's my Grandpa). It's possible to find chocolate covered cherries at other times of the year; but much easier to score them in December, particularly the dark chocolate kind (milk vs. dark chocolate was a most critical distinction to a cherry connoisseur like the Silver Fox). 
With the Silver Fox and his chocolate covered cherry Christmas gift on Christmas Eve in the late 1970s. Apparently I've always had a thing for plaid....
And so, every single Christmas Eve from the time I started grade school 'til he passed away during my junior year in college, I would sit on the edge of his favorite easy chair and bestow upon him a single box of dark chocolate covered cherries, purchased with my own money. It was our own special holiday tradition, brought to mind with a mixture of joy and grief when I put this dark chocolate cherry hued outfit together and topped it with a vintage silver fox stole on the first snowy day of December.
The silver fox stole is warm and elegant, but it and the hat are easily removed for a slightly more casual but still polished indoor look.
I was fortunate to have my grandfather in my life for as long as I did, but he was still taken from us too soon in an electrical fire that engulfed the house he built with his own hands. I miss him very much, and never more so than on Christmas Eve. So every December, I make a point of buying a box of dark chocolate covered cherries in his honor, and eat them while decorating the tree with his final, unexpected holiday gift to me... 
I'll never know how those little tobacco tins survived the heat of the fire, and you can still see the soot stains on the top and sides, but the handmade ornaments within are in perfect condition.
You see, the fire that took his life also destroyed nearly every precious family heirloom within. But, somehow, in the midst of the charred rubble and ruins, we discovered three soot covered tobacco tins that had survived the flames (oh yes, the Silver Fox enjoyed a pipe at least as much as he enjoyed his cherries). Inside those tins, which my frugal and ever-resourceful Grandmother Dorothy had recycled as storage containers, was a collection of some of her finest, homemade, hand-beaded, ruched velvet Christmas ornaments. These ornaments, so delicate and elegant, had always been my favorite. My Mom gave them to me, still in their soot-stained metal vessels, on a Christmas Eve many years ago. I still store them the same way, and every year when I pull them out, I remember my favorite Christmas Eves with the Silver Fox and Dorothy, and try not to eat the entire box of cherries at one time... 
The large vintage lapel pin belonged to my Grandmother Dorothy, and was recently given to me by my Mom.I love it on this tweed coat.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Silver Fox

I also like this dress with an ivory faux fur jacket swapped in for the silver fox stole (see it here). The dress is INC (Macy's); The boots are from

My maternal grandfather, Harold Coy, was a handsome, slender man with a shock of soft, snow white hair. As a result, he was widely known among his friends (and my grandmother's) as "the Silver Fox." I just called him Grandpa, but I recalled the nickname (and his memory) fondly when a friend recently surprised me with this vintage, decades old silver fox stole that once belonged to his mother. I was honored that my friend chose me to give it new life, and I hope that I honor his mother's memory, as well as my Grandpa Harold's, each time I wear it. 
The "Silver Fox" with me and my doll, Baby Beans, on Christmas Eve i n 1973.
Actually, all of the "details" of this ensemble (worn for a recent holiday fete) are a nod to the past. The hat is from the 1950s, and the diamond and white gold Wyler watch is from the 1940s. And then there is the purse. Oh, the purse! This tiny little evening bag with hundreds of hand-sewn seed pearls and crystal beads is more than one hundred years old!
The diminutive pearl clutch is in remarkable condition for it's age, but I probably won't carry it often - it's simply too precious as a family heirloom; The 1950s hat is from Viva Vintage Clothing; The 1940s Wyler watch is from the estate collection at G. Thrapp Jewelers.  
It belonged to my great grandmother, Zelda. It was part of her wedding trousseau in 1902. I never met Zelda, and I don't know too much about her. I look forward to sitting down with my mom to look at old pictures and learn more. What I do know is that her evening bag was beautiful and her waist was a waifish 18 inches when she married my great grandfather. I know this because, throughout my childhood, the little beaded clutch was stored in the drawer of an antique trundle sewing machine in the corner of our dining room along with a silk hook and eye sash that was part of her wedding ensemble. Though elegant, the sash looks child-sized, though I suppose she wore the tightly laced, boned corsets of the time period. As beautiful as it is, that's one heirloom garment that will be forever cherished, but certainly never worn by this girl! 
My grandmother (and style icon) Dorothy with Zelda and my mom. Zelda is holding my mom as a little girl.
When you wear multiple vintage details at one time, an outfit can look more "period costume" than party perfect. Since that was not the effect I was going for here, I paired the timeless accessories with a modern embroidered and beaded jersey dress and knee high suede boots to add a modern edge.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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