Thursday, July 24, 2014

No Return a Dress

Returning things you've decided you don't want, don't need, or don't like is a pain in the behind.  But, for the most part, it's definitely worth the effort.  After all, no one wants to leave money hanging in their closet unworn and unappreciated.  Sometimes, though, I just don't get around to it, especially if it was a low dollar investment (not that all those bargain buys don't add up, and it's no bargain if you don't actually wear it...)

This pink and orange number, purchased in the summer of 2011, is one of those items I intended to return but never did.  I didn't love it when I bought it (which should have been enough to keep me from buying it to begin with).  But, I'd just learned I needed to leave on short notice for a two week business trip to India.  It was the height of monsoon season and incredibly hot, so I knew I wanted to pack clothing that was lightweight; didn't wrinkle; took up very little space in my suitcase; and was culturally acceptable.  This maxi dress was the first one I tried during a quick, pre-flight shopping trip.  It fit all my criteria and was clearance priced, to boot.
Ring (Payless); Dress (INC, Macy's); Shoes (Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos); Bracelet (Macy's)
Despite the fact that it made the trek half-way round the world with me, I didn't end up wearing it.  I'd been in such a hurry to prep for the trip that I hadn't even bothered to remove the tags when I packed it, so I thought I'd return it.  After all, I didn't love it, and it's not a dress I'd have purchased had it not been for the unexpected excursion.

I don't know why I never did get around to returning it.  I had no desire to keep and wear it, yet I can't say I forgot about it.  The errand remained on my "to do" list, but somehow never seemed to make it to the top (I am a ridiculous list-maker, just short of being that person who makes a list of the lists they need to make).  I wasn't too worried about prioritizing the return since it didn't cost much and the department store I bought it at has a fairly generous return policy.  But, I have to admit three years is probably unreasonable even for the most customer focused store...

Carnelian and glass bead necklace (
So when I pulled it out this summer during a closet reorganization, I decided to try it on one last time.  Lo and behold, this time around I really liked it...liked it enough that if I'd been trying it on in a store that day, I'd have bought it (again).  Suddenly, I didn't know why I ever wanted to return it, and why I hadn't ever worn it before.  I wore it the very next day, and packed it for my European adventure this Summer.  Maybe the dress just needed to age, like a fine wine... or maybe it was me that aged, and my evolving taste changed my opinion of the dress.  Either way, in this case my procrastination paid off.
Perusing the fresh produce at a street vendor in Como, Italy.  I may not have worn it in India, but it turned out to be a great dress for cross-continental travel after all.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Full Monty

Dress courtesy of Karina Dresses.  It's a perfect dress for packing (no wrinkles), and it has pockets!
The "Full  Monty" - it's not what you think, at least not in the context of Red's Shoe Diaries!  I'll leave the more traditional definition to that similarly titled 1990s Showtime series.  For me, "Monty" will always be the enormous, mouse-eating python that lived in Mr. Randak's Freshman biology class.  Like this blog, Monty's name was wordplay for a pop culture reference.  Monty Python -get it?!  It's probably not terribly original to name a python Monty, but my 15 year old self thought it was brilliant.  I've always loved a good play on words - it's probably one of the reasons I liked Mr. Randak and his class so much, though I also liked feeding the snake and the fact that I sat next to a boy I had a huge crush on...
I can't get enough of these Poetic License shoes - I have three different color schemes in this style.  They are incredibly comfortable, and I can't resist a spectator.  It was total coincidence that the snakeskin leather on the heels is a perfect match to the patterned dress.
Come to think of it, that boy had a lot in common with Mr. Randak.  They both had very muscular forearms (I know this is a really weird observation - don't judge), and he was good with wordplay, too, once cracking up our entire Speech and Lit class during a discussion of Great Expectations when he mentioned that narrator Pip moved away from the "marsh" and now lived by the Kroger (admittedly, this is a reference that only a Hoosier is likely to understand).  The Speech and Lit teacher did not think it was as funny as I did, but then again, the Speech and Lit teacher did not appreciate how cute this boy was. 
I also have this Bodhi bag in three colors- when I like something, I really like it; The Aqua Master watch was a bargain Overstock purchase to celebrate my first jury trial victory several years ago; The SunChip-inspired sterling silver pendant on a black leather cord was handmade by local Indianapolis jewelry artist Dani Fishman - you can find her spectacular pieces at GoldMine Jewelers.
Why am I telling you any of this?  Monty was the first thing I thought of when I received this snakeskin print dress from Karina in the mail.  I have a tendency to involuntarily word associate, so thinking about the python led me down memory lane.  It also increased the frequency with which I have randomly spouted Monty Python quotes of can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

French Navy

Sweater (Lauren Ralph Lauren); Editor Pants (The Limited)
This morning, I'm headed to Europe for a holiday with dear friends from Germany.  We'll spend a bit of time in Duetschland and Switzerland (plus a stop in Lake Como, Italy to visit my pal George Clooney), but most of our vacation will be spent soaking up the sun on an island in the French Riviera.  Well, everyone else will be soaking up the sun...this fair-skinned redhead will be slathered in SPF 70 and wearing a big hat.  Not that I'm complaining - I've been looking forward to this trip for months, and I love wearing big hats!  

The last time I was in France, I was 22 years old and backpacking around Europe on my own.  After getting hopelessly lost in Paris and leaving in tears without even visiting the Eiffel Tower, I left my passport, traveler's checks, Eurail Pass and camera on a train in Monaco (thankfully, they were retrieved by another backpacker and returned to me, for which I'll be forever grateful).  This time around, I'm looking forward to sleeping in real hotels rather than youth hostels, and traveling with companions who know exactly where we're going!

In anticipation of spending time in the Cote d'Azur, it was only fitting that I channeled the spirit of the French Navy last week with an iconic nautical look.  My Breton striped Ralph Lauren sweater may seem as American as apple pie, but it's actually a historical nod to the French Navy's adoption of striped uniforms in 1858.  Coco Chanel introduced the design to the fashion world in 1917 after a visit to the French coast inspired her nautical runway collection.  Adopted by affluent Europeans in the 30s; beatniks in the 50s and 60s; and featured in countless films, the style has an enduring quality that's never out of fashion.  It has also been popularized by iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe, Pable Picasso, Bridgette Bardot, Andy Warhol, Jean SebergAudrey Hepburn, and James Dean (click on the links to see how they wore the look).  Intrigued by the history of these stripes?  You can read more about it here! 
Spectators (Steinmart); Watch (Steinmart); Sapphire and Diamond Ring (Ross-Simons); Pearl ring (Princess Cruise purchase)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Butterfly Effect

Blouse (eBay); Capris (Ann Taylor); Sandals (Rack Room Shoes)
This summer I've noticed an abundance of butterflies everywhere I go, and they seem to be drawn to me.  As much as I'd like to imagine they're following me around like Snow White's forest creatures, I'm no princess (and if I could be a princess, it would be Merida, not Snow White).  To tell the truth, I'm not sure if they like me or hate me and are trying to attack!  On a recent golf outing, a monarch continually circled my head while I was teeing off, and a small yellow butterfly landed on my skirt and clung on for dear life, hitching a ride for a few hundred yards in the golf cart.  Do butterflies poop?  Maybe it was pooping on me... Regardless, its delicate, colorful wings perched on my thigh reminded me of these embroidered silk shantung capris from Ann Taylor.  I've had them since 2001, but they've been cocooned at the back of my closet and I haven't worn them for a couple of years.  
I picked up the blouse last Winter to go with a long blackwatch plaid skirt, but those pieces didn't end up working together, and I left it hanging in my closet, unworn.  So, I was excited to discover how well the peplum waist and satin-edged, ruffled neckline of my eBay find paired with the mariposa and dragonfly-adorned pants.  It feels like a brand new outfit: reborn like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly...
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bell Curve

With one notable exception during my scholastic endeavors, I was never a fan of bell curve grading (ironically, the exception was a statistics class)...  but I do love the curve of this bell-shaped ponte knit skirt from Anthropologie.  To be honest, I didn't expect a skirt shaped like the Liberty Bell and stiff enough to stand up on its own to be flattering (true story - it looks like a little green shrub in the corner of my closet).  But, the store's online reviews for it are almost universally glowing - with every shopper touting the high waist and bell shape as most loved features.  It's been offered in different colors over several seasons, all of which have sold out quickly, and second-hand options from eBay are selling for near retail price.
Blouse (Tommy Hilfiger);Skirt (Anthropologie); Bag (Bodhi); Belt (eBay); Watch (Embassy); Necklace (Grace Boutique, vintage)
I chose it not just for the unique shape and fabric, but because it was the perfect complement to this circa 1997 Tommy Hilfiger blouse, a favorite purchase from my law school days moonlighting as a sales clerk at the now defunct Parisian.  In fact, I like it even more now than I did when I first brought it home 17 years ago (I guess polka dot prints really are timeless).
Typically, I'd have reached for my kelly green suede Coach bag to finish the look (see it below), but I decided to break the curve with a bold tangerine safety pin clutch from Bodhi.  The result is much more fun and highlights the truly unique bag.  Don't be afraid to add the unexpected!

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

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pippi Golfstocking

Dress (J. G. Hook); Cardigan (Jessica Howard); Belt (eBAy); Orange python cuff (Diego Rocha); Ponytail holders (courtesy of some lovely houseguest who forgot them!)
I don't know if it was the citrus striped Mary Janes; the circus bright color combination; the fact that I'd be going straight from the office to the golf course in 85 degree weather and wanted my hair off my neck; or if I was possessed by the spirit of Pippi Longstocking (one of my favorite ginger haired childhood heroines), but yesterday I made a spur of the moment decision to wear my hair in pigtails.  This might not seem like a big deal, but I literally have not worn my hair this way since grade school.  And, yes, I'm using the term "literally" in the correct manner...have you noticed how often people misuse it?  It drives me crazy, but not "literally crazy."  It actually just annoys me quite a bit. 
Mary Janes (Poetic License, with custom monogram clips from Etsy); Golf shoes (Callaway, with custom kilties)
I have to say, this hairstyle certainly shortened my morning routine.  I didn't time it, so I can't say that it was "literally" a three minute hairdo, but it can't have taken much more than that.  Bonus points for extra time under the covers (have I mentioned I'm not a morning person?!)  It's definitely not an everyday 'do, but a nice change from a standard pony tail and maybe a little more polished looking (despite the juvenile sounding description...isn't there a better term than pigtails?)
I love this fun, tulip-shaped headcover by Winner Edge Designs - it protects my new driver and coordinates with my golf bag and the orange grips on my irons.
Speaking of saving time, I don't like to mess with lugging a change of clothes with me to the office, so I try to make sure whatever I wear to work will make a smooth transition for any after-hours activities on the calendar.  I can't always accomplish this - I once attended a Killers concert in a black pinstripe business suit and felt like the only adult in a sea of skinny jeans-clad teenagers (though I don't think I was "literally" the only adult).  I also can't really get away with wearing my softball uniform to the office.  But for golf, it's pretty easy to get by with only a change of shoes.  Literally!
Then and now:  even my beloved childhood dog Cinnamon, an Irish Setter, was a redhead; the bottom photo was taken at Service Merchandise (remember that place?) when my parents were testing out polaroid cameras.  I don't remember wearing pigtails much after that, though I did have some unfortunate banana clip 'dos in middle school.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, July 7, 2014

It's a Madras Plaid World

Madras plaid is one of my favorite patterns - perfect for Fourth of July on the lake. Skirt (American Eagle, eBay); Navy cotton gauze top (Casual Living)
About two years ago, I realized that I had become one those people who was "too connected."  I carried two mobile phones at all times (one work phone; one personal), and was a slave to the little red light on my Blackberry (the work phone) indicating I had a new email.  Whether I was out to dinner with friends, on vacation, or merely getting up to pee at 3 in the morning, if the red light was flashing, I felt compelled to see who needed what.  While my remote clients (especially the international ones) grew accustomed to having instant access to me across oceans and time zones, the people I interacted with face to face often got short shrift.  My own health got short-changed, as well, because sitting on the floor in the corner of the bathroom in the middle of the night responding to questions from a client in China or India does not promote restorative sleep, especially when you're already a chronic insomniac.
We were blessed with perfect weather all weekend!  Three days in a row on the water is such a treat!  Hat (Bijoux Terner - a $10 airport purchase that has served me well for years!); Sunglasses (Cole Haan - good thing they were a TJ Maxx bargain, because I lost them in the lake Saturday afternoon...)
I want to be clear, though.  The electronic umbilical cord to which I was tethered was my own choice and of my own making.  Sure, I have a busy career with sometimes demanding clients and challenging issues (which I enjoy very much and for which I am eternally grateful), but rarely are the issues so urgent that I need to keep my phone on the table at every meal or sneak peeks at it under a conference table during lulls in a discussion about other topics.  And certainly there has never been a message that required a response from my middle of the night, dimly lit bathroom.  Frankly, I'm just not that important (and in the rare, true emergency, I can be reached without the need to be on constant vigil).  
Jamberry nail appliques in a stars & stripes pattern add a fun patriotic punch to my manicure; Anchor charm necklace (gift from my fab friend, Kim); Watch (Tommy Hilfiger,
Observing others engage in this behavior frustrated me no end (it still does), and made me realize that I, too, was guilty of prioritizing electronic communication and connectivity over face to face human interaction.  It would have been hypocritical of me not to recognize that I was surely causing in others the same fear, anger, or insecurity that I feel when a client checks emails while I provide legal advice or a friend checks Twitter ten times during dinner.  So, I made a conscious effort to be better about it.  I put my phone completely out of sight during meals and meetings unless I know an urgent issue is afoot (in which case, I explain in advance to my companion(s)); I try to wait until normal business hours to respond to work emails; and I try respond to personal emails, look at social media, and spend time on this blog during down time by myself, rather than interrupting quality time with those I love and value.  I wish I could say this was easy to do, or that I'm really good at it.  It's not and I can't (and I'm not really sure why that is).  But I'm trying.
Lindsay Phillips Switchflops with "Betsy Ross" pattern straps.  These are my "go to" summer sandals because the straps are interchangeable to create hundreds of looks to match any ensemble.
What on Earth does this have to do with a post-holiday weekend blog post?  It's on my mind because in the midst of a wonderful weekend celebrating Independence Day on the lake with family, my 7 year old nephew made me realize that my electronic tether has grown too taut yet again; my incredulity at the family of four ignoring each other at a restaurant last week as every one of them stared into their smartphone or portable game has once again grown hypocritical.... It happened Saturday night on the boat.  After a long day spent outdoors, tubing, and grilling out (not to mention some downtime in the hammock), we were looking forward to our small lake community's annual fireworks display, and joined the parade of boats venturing toward the dam at dusk to take it all in.  As we sat in the boat waiting for the show to begin and mindlessly eating leftover graham crackers from our campfire s'morestraveganza, my attention was instantly jolted out of social media browsing when my nephew suddenly blurted out that he wished every phone on the boat would fall into the lake.  As we all looked around, I noted sheepishly that every adult on board was face down in their phone...and this, after I'd told him in no uncertain terms earlier in the day that we would not spend time indoors playing on the PS3 when the weather was beautiful; we were all together; and there was a lake to be played on.  Needless to say, I put the phone down.  I have to try harder.
My nephew and I both agree that relaxing on the bow of the speedboat is the best place to be, though I like driving it, too.
I love living in a real-life "madras plaid world," but I need to focus once again on being fully present there, rather than in the mad, mad e-world."

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

Check out Style Crone's Hat Attack for more fun summer headwear!

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Patriotic Polka

The World Cup Block Party on Mass Ave. fills the streets with soccer fans awaiting for the start of the The World Cup Game where the US will play Belgium in Brazil Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Who knew that soccer would bring out so much patriotism in Indianapolis?!  Thousands of Hoosiers gathered on Massachusetts Avenue earlier this week for a U.S. vs. Belgium World Cup match viewing party.  Photo by Matt Detrich, Indianapolis Star (see more of the Star's fantastic coverage of the block party here).
On Tuesday, I ran into a friend and former colleague at one my favorite sushi haunts.  She was wearing a fantastic shift dress in a graphic print.  When I complimented her on it, she mentioned she was headed straight from her office to a public block party to cheer on the U.S. in its World Cup match against Belgium and had to "dress for the occasion" in patriotic hues of red, white and blue.  Bravo, Judy!  
Blouse (Tommy Hilfiger); Blazer (Jones New York); Grosgrain and striped ribbon necklace (Burlington Coat Factory); Anchor necklace (gift); Shoes (Bass)
I always dress for the occasion and, during the week leading up to Independence Day, that definitely means sporting the colors of Old Glory.  However, when you work in a professional office setting, Old Navy's annual Flag Tee (a 20 year tradition for the retailer) isn't going to cut it.  Like my friend in her patriotic yet office-appropriate dress, I stick to garments that capture a bit of the American spirit but fall short of elementary school teacher clothes emblazoned with the Star Spangled Banner, the Statue of Liberty and Sparklers.
Pants (The Limited); Anchor bracelet - I love these! (Kiel James Patrick); Watch (Anne Klein)
In fact, this particular look favors nautical stripes and polka dots instead of the Stars and Bars, so its longevity is not limited to July, and I'm sure to wear it a few more times before summer's end.  
Wishing all of you a safe and happy Fourth of July.  'Merica!

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