Friday, May 30, 2014

Anchors Away!

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.
~William Wordsworth
Though a few of my die hard, barefooting neighbors have already been skiing for a couple of months, Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the "unofficial" start of summer on the lake.  Barbecue, boating, fishing, and firepits everywhere make me feel like I'm on vacation without leaving the back yard.
Our boats are undergoing some much needed Spring maintenance this year, however, and they weren't ready for the weekend.  But, that didn't stop me from channeling my love of all things nautical at the office last Friday (in patriotic red, white, and blue to honor the fallen heroes we celebrate on the holiday, of course).
Necklace (Gift); Dress (J.G. Hook); Belt (Boston Proper via eBay)
My favorite part of this outfit is the anchor charm necklace.  Sure, it's a fun statement piece, but it's even more special because it was given to me by a friend and former colleague.  She found it late last summer while vacationing in Michigan and knew it had to be mine. Thanks, Kim!  She clearly knows my taste and her thougtfulness makes my day all over again every time I wear it!  
Starfish earrings (Ross-Simons); Watch (Anne Klein); Shoes (Talbots)
 I may not have been able to go out on the lake over the weekend, but that didn't stop me from fully embracing the fantastic weather with a round of golf on Friday; a lakeside dinner and campfire with an old friend on Saturday;  the Indy 500 on Sunday; and another 27 holes of golf on Monday. I'm particularly excited about golf this summer, and not just because I have a long-standing, nearly obsessive love affair with classic golf shoes.  I actually feel like I'm on the verge of taking a big step forward in the consistency of my game, so I'll be playing every opportunity I get (and, yes, always in shoes that match my outfit)! 
I love these Calloway golf shoes, which I customize to match whatever I'm wearing - learn how here.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ice Cream with Norma

In my mind, my Grandmother Norma will always be the 54 year old woman who used to whip my behind in endless games of ping pong and pool played in the basement of the home she shared with my Grandpa George for more than thirty years.  As a child, I was always excited to spend time with them, and I have enough treasured memories to fill a book, from countless camping trips with their Good Sam Club in grade school to getting surprise care packages at college filled with Grandma's homemade oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookies (my favorite).  My grandfather passed away shortly before I got married in 1997, but Grandma gave me the tie he'd already picked out for the ceremony, which I wrapped around the handle of my bouquet so that he'd be with me in spirit as I walked down the aisle.  At the reception afterward, she shook her groove thang with me on the dance floor.  I can't hear "Now That We've Found Love" by Heavy D and the Boys without fondly recalling the moment.

As I got older, moved farther away, and grew busy with career and everyday life, however, I no longer spent as much time with my Grandma as I once had.  As she grew older and less active, suffering more often from the severe bouts of depression that accompany her bipolar diagnosis, our quality time together dwindled even more.  Despite my good intentions, my visits became far too rare, and it was all too easy to rationalize that she wasn't up for company in any event.  Indeed, in the midst of her "down" times, she would prefer to sit alone in the dark.  My busy life was a poor excuse.  So, too, was her illness.   
I can't get enough of these Irregular Choice shoes with ice cream cone heels! I knew they'd be a hit with my Grandmother, who enjoyed pointing them out to all of her friends as I wheeled her around her long-term care facility on a recent visit.  Dress (Nine West); Cuff (Churchill Downs Gift Shop)
After overcoming my own bout with depression a couple of years ago, I realized that I needed to rethink some of my priorities - and that included making a point to spend more time with my Grandma even when she didn't want me there.  Sometimes she's "up" and sometimes she's "down," but she has played and does play an important role in my life regardless of how she's feeling on any given day.  I want her to know that.  So I visit.  Still not as often as I wish I could, but often enough that she has noticed the difference.  

She was one of the first people in whom I was able to confide my own story of depression, and that has given us an opportunity to connect on a different level than we ever have before.  On our most recent visit, she was in wonderful spirits - as talkative and vibrant as I've seen her in the last two years.  What I thought would be a relatively brief visit became a delightful afternoon of laughter and storytelling.  I seized the opportunity to ask her questions about her younger days, like how she met my grandfather.  Imagine my surprise as she relayed how her handsome enlisted man was "going with another girl" when they met and that she "didn't turn him on at first" but told her brother to "keep an eye on that one" for her!  

I recognize and appreciate how lucky I am to still have the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable woman who has lived a life full of stories beyond those of the grandmother I've always known.  In many ways, our journey together reminds me of Mitch Album's "Tuesdays With Morrie."  I still have much to learn from Mary Norma Jean Spangler, and I now look forward to our visits much the way I did as a child.  What once felt more like an obligation, I've realized is a true blessing for which I'll be ever grateful. I hope she knows that.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Good Friends and Classic Shoes: Always "en Brogue"

A classic pair of shoes, like good friends, will stand the test of time.  I've had these black patent and linen brogues since 1996 (the linen jacket is that old, too).  I still remember the first day I wore them - February 22, 1996.  I remember because it was my first day of work as a law clerk for the state supreme court agency responsible for investigating allegations of lawyer misconduct and unethical behavior.  I also remember because I arrived just as my new colleagues were gathering to celebrate the birthday of my fellow law clerk, who went on to become a dear friend despite teasing me mercilessly about my obsessive matching (I think he'd known me all of about two weeks when he realized I carried different umbrellas depending on my ensemble for the day).
We've now been friends for more than 18 years.  It 's hard to believe so much time has passed, and that these shoes have held up so well!  I wish the company that sold them (Clifford & Wills) was still around and making them in more color combinations.  It's fitting that I pulled them out of "Red's Shoe Archives" last week, because I'll spend some quality time with my old friend this weekend - he and his wife (I introduced them so I take credit for their great marriage and 4 beautiful children) have been our near-constant Indy 500 companions for the last 15 years.  We only get to see them a few times a year now, and he swears I pull a picture of him out of the attic only when he visits.  The truth is, however, that he gave me a really nice 8 x 10 picture frame for Christmas a couple of years after we met, and put a goofy, black & white glossy head shot of himself in it as a joke.  I thought it was so funny, I never removed it, and it's been on display everywhere I've lived since.

Like these brogues, our friendship is timeless, and when we do manage to get together, it's as if no time has passed at all.  Good shoes and good friends - worth the investment!
This druzy necklace from Nordstrom is the only new"ish" piece of this ensemble.  It's very versatile - I've worn it with both business suits and an evening gown.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rain Boots & RAGBRAI

Every time I wear this bicycle pendant, I'm reminded of one of my favorite adventures - the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI for short.  It's an annual, seven day, 500 mile bike ride with more than 20,000 participants every year.  I fell in love with cycling while training for that ride, and came home with the conviction that I would ride across a different state each year.  Then real life got in the way... I've done a number of century rides, but RAGBRAI remains my one and only cross-state ride.

But what a ride it was!  I slept in a tent every night; showered in converted car washes, church basements, and school locker rooms (cold showers all week); danced a polka in a town square with 2000 other spandex-clad, slap-happy tired cyclists; ate about 150 Fig Newtons (which I don't even really like, but they were delicious in the middle of an 80 mile day); and learned to love a product called chamois butter (if you don't know, you probably don't want to).  Completing that ride was a real victory for the one-time 10 year old girl who walked her bright purple banana-seat bike to and from the neighborhood park because she was afraid of falling.  Seriously, I would get there before anyone else and I was always the last to leave so no one would know I couldn't ride it!
Clockwise, from top left:  Teams differentiated themselves from the crowd with unique garb, such as this crew in Cat in the Hat toppers; Only in Iowa do you take a bike break to gawk at the World's largest ear of corn; sleeping accomodations every night were wherever we could find a bare patch of grass;  Dancing to the sweet sounds of a live polka band in a town square.
As soon as the weather gets warmer and drier, the old Cannondale is definitely coming out of hibernation.  For now, I'll have to be content navigating the downtown puddles in my favorite monogram wellies and wearing my tiny two-wheeled transportation around my neck.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Bag (Brahmin); Boots (Zoubaby)

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Tip of the Hat!

I wore this ensemble to the Kentucky Oaks in 2013, and I like it so much I just had to reprise it for Hat Over Heels at the IMA on May 8!  I had a blast embellishing what started as a plain peach hat and ivory sandals with bold coral flowers to coordinate with the Jessica Howard dress.  I'd wear it all Spring if I could get away with it, though the wide brim of the hat does obscure my peripheral vision - not so great to drive in!
Thank you to Current in Carmel magazine for covering Hats Off!, and for providing this lovely photo with some dear friends. From top left:  Michelle Mosgrove; Yours Truly; James Anthony; Jessica Benson Cox; Kristen Kociban Lade; Yolanda Taylor.
I wasn't the only one sporting a bold chapeau, as more than 150 guests filled the IMA's Deer Zink Pavilion dressed to the nines in dramatic headpieces and spectacular shoes for this luncheon benefiting the museum's fashion arts acquisition fund.   All manner of haute headwear was on display, from Derby hats and fascinators to turbans and completely unique designs crafted from walnut veneer, and even leather and spikes!  It was exciting and inspiring to see all of the fashion creativity in our city, and the fervor with which both men and women embraced the opportunity to revive what was once a wardrobe staple but now stands out as a statement.

Though I could go on, this short video produced by the Indianapolis Star's Michael Anthony Adams  provides a far better glimpse into the day's festivities and the visual feast of color and style than I might describe here.  We were also blessed with fantastic photographic coverage of the event by the Indianapolis StarSophisticated Living magazineCurrent in Carmel magazine (p.24), and 505 Photo Studio (click the links to enjoy these great photos!)
Coby Palmer Designs created centerpieces perfectly suited to the hat and heels theme, placing red-soled topiary pumps atop classic hatboxes; the Prada flame shoes on the cover of the event program are ones I've coveted since their debut a few years ago, but haven't been able to fit into Red's Shoe Budget!  The design is so iconic it's been on display at MoMA and is part of the permanent collection at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
Of course, a lot of dedication and preparation goes into to putting on a fundraising event, even when it's one as fun to work on as this one!  Thus, I'd be remiss if I didn't express my deep gratitude to my Co-Chair, Tina Pasquinelli, who is an absolute whiz with spreadsheets and budgeting.  I also want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, to the following individuals who helped make the luncheon a hat over heels success:
Niloo Paydar, Fashion and Textile Arts Curator, IMA

FAS Board: Patti Curan, Elizabeth Taylor, Leslie Bailey, Danielle Smith, Angie Mercer

Hats Off Judges: Elizabeth Semmelhack, Nikki Blaine, Tracy Forner

Hats Off Planning Committee: Patti Curan, Murph Damron, Jean Easter, Barbie Gurwitz, Madison Hromadka, Clint Kreilein, and Celia Latz 

Lauren Lucchesi, IMA Affiliate Liaison

It was honor to work with these talented, stylish, and hard-working individuals!

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Name that Film!

Dress (Ralph Lauren); Shoes (Bandolino); Watch (Michael Kors); Pearls (Ross-Simons); Bag (Kate Spade)
Quick - name the film that inspired this dress?!  I was still in high school when it debuted in 1990, and it's the first movie I remember that I loved in large part due to the costuming. Julia Roberts' wardrobe was spectacular (well, maybe not so much the thigh high hooker boots and blond wig).  Of course, I also loved that she was a redhead, and that she could drive that Lotus like a boss!
Even now, some 24 years later (wow - that makes me feel old), the iconic polo match dress still feels fresh.  In fact, this look was en vogue 24 years before the movie came out, too.  It's the very definition of classic, timeless style.  So, while I wasn't actually looking for it, when I stumbled across Ralph Lauren's version at Macy's last year, I couldn't resist adding it to my own wardrobe.  

If I'd been the stylist on set, I'd have put Julia in a pair of spectators - her plain white pumps are the only part of the ensemble I'm not crazy about.  I wouldn't mind adding some of the other dresses from the movie to my own closet, too.  The long red dress she wears to the opera - pure elegance.  The black lace sheath - sexy in a demure way.  And who can forget the perfectly fitted suit she wears to tell the haughty salesgirls on Rodeo Drive that they made a "big mistake.  Huge!"
Of course, a movie inspired post wouldn't be complete without it's own blooper reel.  You already know I'm not necessarily the picture of grace, and when I was taking pictures for this entry, the heel of my shoe got stuck in the decking, resulting is this little gem of a series!  Keepin' it real, folks.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rev Your Engine!

In existence since 1936, the Borg-Warner trophy is a work of art, featuring an intricate bas relief sculpture of every Indy 500 winner's likeness. 
It's May in Indianapolis - time for fast cars, Donald Davidson, and checkered flags!  In the past fifteen years, I've rarely missed the Indy 500, and you'll usually find me at Carb or Pole day, too.  But, I have to say I never thought I'd be kissing the famous yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor an evening gown, no less!

Yet, that's exactly where I found myself last weekend as we enjoyed the city's new hot ticket, Rev Indy, a fundraiser for the Methodist Health Foundation.  Held on the eve of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, this sold out event behind the Pagoda on the grounds of the IMS was quite the spectacle as party-goers feasted on gourmet fare from nearly forty Indy restaurants while mingling with the drivers and dancing to bands playing on three separate stages.  If you're local, picture Zoobilation at the track and you know what it's all about.

VIP guests were also treated to a private performance by recording artist John McGlaughlin, access to the Pagoda, and an opportunity to get up close and personal with the famous Borg-Warner trophy, which is rarely outside its roped off enclosure in the Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
Dress (Betsy & Adam, eBay); Shoes (Glint, Nordstrom); Ametrine and Diamond Ring (St. Maarten); Citrine Torsade (Ross Simons)
Black cocktail dresses and black and white ensembles were prominently on display, as were black and white checkered flag print ties, dresses, and vests. This is not surprising as ebony and ivory have long been the "official" color scheme for the month of May in Indy (I think I wore at least a week's worth of black and white ensembles in the days leading up to last year's race, some of which are featured in the links at the bottom of this post).  For this event, though, I opted for a riot of color, but still gave a nod to tradition with a hint of checkered flag in my dress and in my nail polish.
I'm obsessed with these chrome heeled, crystal encrusted shoes, and have to admit the desire to wear them played a big part in my choice of dress.  The forecast called for rain, which might have been disastrous for an outdoor-based event, especially in stilettos and a long dress, but the evening turned out beautifully.  Though it was a tad chilly toward the end of the night, a plethora of outdoor gas heaters kept guests warm as they roamed the grounds and took in a magnificent fireworks display.  Kudos to all of my friends on the planning committee for creating a memorable experience and raising critical funds for an important cause.  I can't wait for Rev Indy 2015!
Clockwise, from top left:  Rev-branded bracelets grant access to special areas; Preparing for my close encounter with the yard of bricks; Just one example of the myriad of gorgeous gourmet fare; Celebrity Chefs Vic Vegas and Spike Mendelsohn; John McGlaughlin's intimate performance thrilled guests in the VIP tent.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Good Humor

Shoes (Irregular Choice); Blouse (Banana Republic - a $6 Butterfly Consignment find!); Skirt (Tribal); Clutch (Bodhi)
"I love people who make me laugh.  I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh.  It cures a multitude of ills.  It's probably the most important thing in a person.
~Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn cufflinks, Pearl and crystal statement necklace (Etsy); Pink tourmaline ring (Taxco Sterling); Watch (Elgin)
This quote by the beloved style icon and role model for inspired philanthropy has long resonated with me.  The ability to see and appreciate the humor in life makes every day better, and I cherish time spent with people who make me laugh often and with abandon.

Having a bit of fun with a fabulous pair of far out shoes also reminds me not to take life, or fashion, too seriously, and these shoes add two scoops of "Good Humor" to every step I take! 

My friend and fellow blogger, Crystal Hammon, at Dressed Her Days Vintage always says "Life is short.  Wear the good stuff."  To that I'll add, "Life is short.  Wear what makes you smile."  And more importantly, invest even more in the PEOPLE who make you smile than you invest in what you're wearing. A good belly laugh  with a friend is more precious than the hottest pair of Louboutins or ice cream on a hot August day!

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

For more fab shoes, check out Sheila's Shoe Shine!
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Derby Day Blues

My friend, Jen, and I both had the Kentucky Derby blues on Saturday, but it had nothing to do with the fact that neither one of us picked California Chrome as the winner.  Rather, on the hooves of the annual Kentucky Oaks "Pink Out," we both went in the opposite direction for our Derby day attire.  Rose-colored hues for Friday's filly races were a given, but our color-coordinated ensembles on Saturday were a happy accident.
Dress and hat (Nine West); Shoes (Bass); Necklace (Steinmart)
This was Jen's first Derby experience, and I have to say she got it right from hat to toe.  I would wear this outfit in a heartbeat.  The pockets on her sundress are perfect for the racetrack - all the better to keep hands free for juggling mint juleps and wager tickets.  The striped hat is crushable, which makes it much easier to pack for a roadtrip (my own hats took up a lot of room in the car).  And I don't think I would have thought to pair lace up oxfords with a sundress, but the choice was an inspired blend of Southern style prep and all-day walking comfort.  I also love that she switched out the standard laces for bright blue!  
Dress (Jessica Howard); Hat (Macy's, embellished with laser cut acrylic monogram from Etsy and grosgrain ribbon from Hobby Lobby); Beaded horse handbag (Mary Frances); Kitten heel switchflops (Lindsay Phillips, embellished with removable monogram clips from Etsy)
My own navy and lime color scheme highlighted my love of all things monogrammed.  I may be a born and bred Hoosier, but I've got a Southern soul in that regard.  If you're a regular follower, you  may recognize the navy and white hat.  Last week, I embellished it with bright yellow grosgrain ribbon for a TV spot to promote the IMA's upcoming Hats Off luncheon (see it here).  Creating a new look for Derby day was as simple as switching out the ribbon.  It may not be as wild as the Mad Hatter look I crafted for the Oaks, but the versatility of this hat makes it one of my favorites.

Another great Derby weekend in the books, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Linked up with Style Crone's Hat Attack!

Talk Derby to Me!

It was fun to stop by WISH TV's Indy Style on my way to Churchill Downs to promote the Hat Over Heels luncheon and share a bit of my hat collection.
I went to the Kentucky Derby for the first time in 2002.  As a life-long horse lover and fashion fan, it had long been a "bucket list" item for me, and it remains one of my favorite all-time birthday gifts.  Uninitiated and unsure what to expect, I remember what I wore to my inaugural Derby - camel linen capris and a subdued, floppy woven sunhat.  It was straw-colored and unembellished, completely unremarkable in every way.  As we trekked the mile or so from our parking spot to the entrance of Churchill Downs, I marveled at the parade of hats - some elegant, some outrageous, and some downright silly. I knew within an hour of being there that I'd return to the Derby, and that I'd be more adventurous with my choice of headwear!

Over the years, I've become more and more enamored with hats in general and wear them often in everyday life.  Not surprisingly, as my comfort level with wearing a hat has increased, my Derby weekend hats have, indeed, become increasingly more elaborate.  My friend, KimAnn, calls this "hat courage," and we were honored to talk about the subject on WISH TV's Indy Style last week while promoting the IMA Fashion Arts Society's Hat Over Heels luncheon (If you're interested, you can see the segment here).  
There's no such thing as "over the top" when it comes to hats for the Oaks and Derby, and all things pink are celebrated on Oaks day, as both men and women dress for a "Pink Out."
For this year's Kentucky Oaks (the filly race on the Friday before the Derby), I wanted to mimic the cottage rose garden on my $30 ebay dress.  I already had the brown satin hat, and a quick trip to Hobby Lobby provided the other elements I needed to create a Mad Hatter's "hatstravaganza" embellished with all manner of flowers, butterflies,and feathers.  The finishing touch was a metallic pink, laser cut acrylic monogram from Etsy.  This hat is not the sort of thing I'd wear anywhere else, but for Derby weekend, it's go big or go home!  
Though my Kentucky Oaks horse of choice, Fashion Plate, didn't place, I did score a pink enamel and gold bit embellished cuff that matches my pink Bodhi Safety Pin Clutch in the Churchill Downs gift shop.  Derby weekend is also a rare occasion when even my husband will indulge my passion for spectators, donning a classic pair with Vineyard Vines horseshoe embroidered seersucker pants and a belt featuring the iconic mint julep.
And, while hats are certainly the focal point of Derby fashion, they are also just the crowning glory for a coordinated ensemble.  The little details -like a matching handbag and cuff with equestrian details - pull the whole look together.  I'll also mention footwear.  It's tempting to wear elegant heels, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of women do, but I find it completely impractical given the amount of walking and uneven terrain involved in the Derby experience.  Thus, this year I swapped the chocolate satin platform heels I like best with this dress for a pair of lightweight cork-soled sandals, which I dressed up with pink satin roses that clip on to the vamp.  While I saw countless women who were limping and/or barefoot by day's end, I was completely comfortable.  Kudos to the enterprising street vendors selling rubber flipflops outside the exit gates, though.  They did a stellar business with the stiletto wearing crowd!
Jen bet on the Oaks champion (No. 13 in the foreground of the bottom photo), and her outfit was also a winner.  Her husband's coordinated look was the perfect complement. 
Our friends, Jen and Sergio, attended the Oaks and Derby for the first time this year.  Unlike me so many years ago, Jen exhibited her hat courage right out of the gate!  She looked smashing for the Oaks on Friday in a watercolor silk blouse, classic pearls, and wide brimmed rose colored chapeau.  Her Derby day attire completed a wardrobe exacta, and we unintentionally coordinated our Derby day looks in shades of blue and green.  Curious?  I'll feature our "Derby Day Blues" in tomorrow's post!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Interested in developing your own hat courage?  You may enjoy these posts:

Today I'm linking up with Style Crone for more fabulous hats at Hat Attack!