Friday, October 31, 2014

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice

Jacket (Jones New York, Parisian); Boots (Schutz,; Watch (Michael Kors, Nordstrom); Belt (eBAy); Sterling and Neoprene Necklace (Dani Fishman, Grace Boutique)
I've worn a skirt as a dress and a shirt as a skirt, but this is the first time I've turned a pair of yoga pants into a jumpsuit! The "top" is actually just the fold-over waist band of the pants, unfolded and pulled up. The addition of a classic black suit jacket and ankle boots take the look from the yoga studio to the office.

I have to admit, the ensemble reminds me a little bit of Beetlejuice (though his stripes were horizontal), but it is Halloween, after all. I couldn't resist once again adding a little pumpkin spice to the mix with a belt and watch in my favorite hue. A pop of orange evokes the seasonal "spirits," but is hopefully subtle enough to avoid "boos" for looking like a preschooler (as I've said before, jack-o-lantern embroidered cardigans are precious on a 4 year old, but ugly-sweater party territory for a 40 year old).
Happy Halloween!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Pawn Shopping

Dress (vintage 1970s, from the liquidation sale of a local vintage shop); Belt (eBay); Watch (Michael Kors, Nordstrom)
Call me old-fashioned, but I love board games. I will choose an evening around the kitchen table playing Monopoly, Scrabble, or Blokus with friends and family over the latest video game any day of the week. The games themselves may not be as hi-tech and slick, but I care a lot more about the opportunity for face to face human interaction than I do about the latest CGI graphics. Plus, unless it's a racing game with an intuitive steering wheel-shaped controller (those, I like), I'm really pretty terrible at video games. It's a hand-eye coordination thing, or rather a lack thereof. Yeah, I've never even saved the Princess.
Ankle boots (Schutz,; Bag (Charming Charlie); Ring (David Yurman, G. Thrapp Jewelers)
Classic board games, on the other hand, bring out my competitive side. In fact, from time to time I've been accused of being too competitive. I mean, I will dominate you in a game of Monopoly or Scrabble, and I may or may not gloat a bit if I manage to fill my pie before yours in a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit. 

Things don't always go my way, though - not that I'm a sore loser (ok, maybe sometimes I'm a sore loser). I once demanded a "do over" round in Scattergories after coming up with a long list of witty, wise and wonderul "w" words that resulted in zero points because the chosen letter was "r." I must have been hooked on phonics that night, because I filled in the first category with the word "wrestling" and it was all down hill thereafter. No matter how original the answers, one gets no points for "w" words when the chosen letter is not "w." Of course, my distress over the mistake and the resulting blow to my score resulted in peals of laughter and no shortage of trash talk from everyone else in the room. As you might imagine, I did NOT get a "do over." So unfair! 
 I couldn't resist this vintage bangle (also from the liquidation sale), and its cheeky little nod to Joan Crawford. It's engraved with the phrase "No Wire Hangers, Ever!"
Like this dress (recently acquired from a vintage shop liquidation), my love of board games was born in the late 1970s. From Connect Four to PayDay, Sorry, Chinese Checkers and an obscure 1950s "Black Beauty" horse racing themed game that I played at my Grandma Coy's, I never met a board game I didn't like. Despite this fondness for friendly fireside competition, I never learned how to play Chess. I'm actually kind of embarrassed to admit that fact. After all, if the category on Family Feud was "board games," I'm pretty sure Chess would be the top survey answer. Even so, it was the chess-themed pattern on this wing collared polyester beauty that I found irresistible. Does that make me a poser? Maybe I need to find a local chess club that will take in a beginner...or maybe I just need to find a dress with Scrabble letters or Monopoly pieces all over it!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Roaming Gnome Shops Close to Home

Dress (Enza's Boutique in downtown Indianapolis); Cloche (Marigold Clothing in Broadripple); Necklace (local jewelry designer Yaprak Gut); Watch (Fossil); Bag (Brahmin); Shoes (Irregular Choice)
If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, you know that I'll shop anywhere. From the Burberry Boutique to Goodwill and the grocery store (not always the best idea, as evidenced in this old post), it's fun to look for quirky items that suit my personal style and, on occasion, add a touch of whimsy. 
I'm also a big fan of "shopping local."  I can't deny I enjoy department store and on-line shopping, but locally-owned, independent businesses are far more likely to carry unique pieces that suit my desire to dress as an individual regardless of what society says is the "must have" style of the season. (That's why you'll never see me in skinny jeans, Uggs, or sweat pants with the name of a pastel color emblazoned across my derriere, no matter how pervasive they are in popular culture.) 
For colder weather and slicker sidewalks, I'll switch out the shoes for teal suede boots
I also like to shop local when I'm away from home, whether I'm in Bedford for beans and cornbread with family (I can't resist a stop at local boutique, Pretty Woman), or traveling to some more exotic locale. On vacation, in particular, seeking out independent shops provides an opportunity to find special souvenirs indigenous to the local community. Likewise, if you're visiting friends in a distant city, gifts from your hometown that can't be found anywhere else will always delight.
Unique selection aside, shopping local provides myriad other benefits to the community. For example, did you know that every dollar you spend at an independently owned store returns three times more money to the local economy than one spent at a chain? According to research compiled by the American Independent Business Alliance, local businesses also invest more in their immediate communities anare proportionately more generous in their support of local charities, schools and community events. If you're environmentally conscious, it's also worth noting that local shops often stock a higher percentage of locally sourced goods, which means cross-country (and world) transportation needs are reduced, resulting in a smaller, greener global footprint. 
On a selfish note, frequenting small businesses also results in a more personal shopping experience. When I visit Marigold in Broadripple, where I found this great cloche, the long-time staff know me on sight and stopping by feels like a visit with old friends. In a similar vein, every time I set foot in Enza's Boutique downtown, I feel like I'm visiting family, and I look forward to catching up with Enza herself, as well as daughter Lisa and son Tony. They also go out of their way to recognize items that reflect my personal style and it's not uncommon to stop in on a whim only to discover Tony has held a garment in reserve just for me. As a matter of fact, he ordered this plaid dress specifically with me in mind. The fact that he'd done so was a great surprise, but I wasn't a bit surprised that he was right on target with both my taste and my size! This is the sort of customer service you're just not as likely to find at a chain store. 

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

For more fun with hats, check out this month's Hat Attack!
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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Secret Ingredient

Dress, Jacket, and Necklace (The Secret Ingredient); Ring (Marc Aronstam custom design, Aronstam Fine Jewelers); Watch (Tag Heuer, G. Thrapp Jewelers). I'd be remiss if I didn't note that both Aronstam and G. Thrapp are also local businesses that routinely give back to the Indianapolis community!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
I love this quote by Margaret Mead, and I've seen the truth of it time and again while working side by side with other dedicated Dress for Success Indianapolis and Women's Fund volunteers to make a tangible difference in the lives of women and children in central Indiana. I witnessed it once more on October 3rd when I participated in the Day Nursery Auxiliary Style Show.  This annual event raises funds for the 115 year old Early Learning Indiana (formerly Day Nursery), which provides child care and early education support to Hoosier families struggling to achieve financial independence.  

I was familiar with Early Learning Indiana through my work with the Women's Fund, but until my friend Mimi asked me to be part of the fashion show, I was largely unaware of the work of the Day Nursery Auxiliary. This incredible volunteer group, founded in 1938, works tirelessly to raise funds that support the critical work of the childcare organization. When I learned about the history of the Auxiliary and the significant, sustaining contributions it has made in support of Early Learning Indiana's mission, I had no doubt that its members truly exemplify the philanthropic spirit behind Mead's words. I was honored to be part of their annual fundraising event.
All fashions are from The Secret Ingredient; Someone remarked that my beautiful friend Mimi (who did an amazing job co-chairing the event) and I looked like we were wearing parts of the Chrysler Building (top right). I love the architectural, geometric prints on these dresses - so flattering and fun!
The Auxiliary Style Show was produced and featured fashions from The Secret Ingredient. This independently owned boutique with a 35 year history in Indianapolis proves that local businesses can also play an important role in making our community a better place. In the past few months alone, I've had the pleasure of working with owner Jeanne Rush and her staff on style shows benefiting no less than three different local non-profit organizations: Early Learning Indiana; Dress for Success; and the Pink Ribbon Connection. The boutique regularly supports other organizations, such as St. Margaret's Hospital Guild, as well. 

Know what else? The Secret Ingredient also carries really great clothes and accessories! With such a unique selection, it's easy to shop local and support this business that supports our city. You can check out The Secret Ingredient at 56th Street and Illinois in Indianapolis. There are also three other locations: Richmond, IN; Dayton, OH; and Ave Marie, FL. 
When it comes to changing the world, or at least our own little corner of it, the key ingredients are no secret at all - YOU and I have the power to make a difference!

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Old Hollywood Remake

Gown (Betsy & Adam, Macy's); Shoes (Isabel Toledo for Payless); Earrings (Givenchy, Nordstrom); Crystal barrette (Swarovski); Crystal-embellished evening clutch; Tanzanite and Diamond ring (Master Jewelers, St. Maartin); Vintage 1940s white gold and diamond watch (Wyler, G. Thrapp Jewelers)

I've worn this gown before. I'm going to wear this gown again. I don't know when or where, but I love it so much I can't imagine NOT wearing it at least one more time.
Why is it that women (myself included) are so reluctant to wear the same evening gown more than once? I wouldn't think twice about wearing this dress over and over and over again if it were an "every day, wear to work" kind of dress. But with evening wear, it's just...different. Perhaps it's because there's a "specialness" to dressing up for a black tie affair, which is not something most of us do often. Maybe it's because once we've worn a statement making, memorable dress, we think others will judge us harshly if they see us wearing it again at another event. After all, celebrities who walk the red carpet of umpteen award shows wouldn't dream of wearing the same dress twice...
But, let's face it, the red carpet culture isn't real life. Designers don't give us dresses; we're not going to be featured on E's Fashion Police (RIP Joan Rivers); and most of us can't afford to spend buku bucks for a dress we're only going to wear one time. What's more, if we're lucky enough to find a gown that we love and that makes us feel beautiful, why wouldn't we want to wear it again?!
My friend Crystal Hammon recently wrote about this very topic on her blog, Dressed Her Days Vintage. In her thought-provoking post, she included a quote from former model and fashion icon Murph Damron that really struck a chord with me. In fact, Murph's wise words are what convinced me that I could and should wear this dress again. She said: "Wearing the same amazingly stunning long or short evening dress or gown is like having a masterpiece of art that everyone sees and admires when they walk into your home again." 

Though I've long thought of fashion as wearable art, Murph's perspective was one I'd never considered. To be sure, I wouldn't remove my favorite painting from the family room just because guests at a party had seen it before. Why should a beautiful dress be treated differently?!  
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Pants (Steinmart); Top (Kasper); Cardigan (; Shoes (Kohl's)
The past month or so has been "the pits" in a lot of ways. I was in a head-on collision that totaled my beloved little convertible; the very next day we hit a deer in KDef's car (or, rather, a deer hit us); I shattered my iPhone screen; I lost a favorite pair of shoes (spectators, no less!); some of my favorite Halloween decorations sustained serious water damage; I've been overcommitted and underrested - I could carry on with this laundry list of lamentations for a bit. But I won't! I won't because it won't make me feel better to complain. I won't because it's boring to listen to other people complain. I won't because, in the grand scheme of things, these troubles that have caused more stress and anxiety than necessary of late are "first world problems," and I'm a happier me when I focus on the positive. Great shoes also help.
Artwork by Mary Engelbreit
I know people who thrive on complaining. Something is always terribly wrong in their "woe is me" lives and, frankly, I'm not sure they could carry on a conversation that didn't include a dramatic recitation of how cruel the world has been to them. I'm afraid I used to be one of those people. It was exhausting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no Susie Sunshine, and I get as frustrated by life's little lessons as the next person. In fact, on my desk is a canvas art print by Erin Smith that reads "As much as I try to be an easygoing, stretch your wings and fly type...I just can't stop trying to burst people into flames with my mind!" That statement cracks me up, and is certainly more reflective of my personality than a Mary Englebreit "Life is just a bowl of cherries" mentality.
But I'm trying. Putting the crappy things that happen in perspective and focusing on the positive is a much more pleasant way to live. Of course, we all have the occasional "get it off our chest, stomp around and rant 'til we're red in the face" moments. You better believe I did that after the (ahem) "gentleman" that hit my car lied to the sheriff about the cause of the accident (despite all physical evidence to the contrary). 

But guess what? I didn't get hurt despite two accidents in two days; I have a new (to me) car that I may just like better than the old one; I have a new iPhone and the service people who helped me out with it were prompt and gracious; the shoes I lost hurt my feet anyway; I love October and I love Halloween; and I just spent two lovely days with friends in Chicago where I got to sleep in and wake up without the aid of an alarm! Maybe life really is a bowl of cherries - we just need to savor the sweetness despite the pits. And wear great shoes. Always wear great shoes.
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography; Dress and purse (Steinmart)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Seventeen Percent Symphony

Dress (Betsy and Adam, Bealls) 
Several years ago, only 17% of the musicians in major symphony orchestras were women. Faced with evidence this was the result of gender bias, an industry-wide effort was made to rectify the imbalance through "blind" auditions. Initially, these "behind the curtain" try-outs yielded the same results. It was later discovered that the continued lack of parity was not because because men are better musicians than women, but rather because the subconscious bias was perpetuated as selection committees responded to the distinctive sound of the female musicians' heels as they crossed that stage for their auditions. When the same blind competition was repeated in bare feet, the percentage of men and women who made the cut was about equal! This is just one of the interesting tidbits I learned last night from Academy Award winning actor and Olympic Archer Geena Davis at a fundraiser for the Women's Fund of Central Indiana
As I mentioned in my recent post, Bond Girl ChicGeena has made a life long mission of bringing gender equality into the popular culture lexicon and to working within the entertainment industry to alter stereotypical reflections of girls and women in television and film. In fact, she feels so strongly about the topic that she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which has produced some groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) research not only on the way that women and girls are portrayed in television and film, but also on the disparity in sheer numbers of roles for women vs. men. For example, even in "crowd" scenes, only 17% of the actors or extras are women (what is with the number 17?!) In her keynote address, Geena posited, tongue in cheek, that this must be because the writers, directors, and casting agents think that women don't like to gather in groups...they should have seen the crowd of Women's Fund supporters who came out for this evening's celebration, the vast majority of whom were women!
Bracelet (Nadri, Nordstrom); Ring (David Yurman G. Thrapp Jewelers); Clutch (Profyle Boutique)
The research pertaining to "G" rated movies and child-focused television programs was, to me, the most disturbing. From the significant imbalance of male to female roles to the hyper-sexualization of female characters(and wildly unrealistic body proportions in the animation world), the images that young girls ares spoon fed in high definition Dolby surround sound are not doing them any favors. Of course, there are some notable heroines who break the mold, but the lack of parity between men and women is startling. Among movie roles in which the characters have jobs, 81% were men, and the most prevalent "job" for females that actually have one is royalty (good work if you can get it). Why does it matter? It matters because kids believe what they see, and research has demonstrated that girls' self-esteem goes down as the amount of time they spend watching television increases, while boys' self-esteem goes up. Thankfully, Geena's outreach efforts are having a positive impact on the imbalance. Visit for more information on the Institute's research and outreach.
Geena's speech was about much more than statistics, though, and the self-deprecating and humorous stories she shared about her own youth were very entertaining. Geena Davis is a funny woman! But, as she recounted childhood and adolescent insecurities about her "too tall" body and perceived lack of athletic ability, she made a comment that really struck a chord. This larger than life, vibrant, funny, and beautiful woman admitted that she spent many years trying to take up as little space in the world as she could, feeling as though she didn't deserve to stretch her limbs and live out loud. I expect her experience resonated with a lot of women in the room, as it did with me. I certainly spent a number of years self-conscious and insecure, wishing I were invisible and trying to take up as little space in the world as I could.
Who knew that Spanx made fishnet tights, and I love these Badgley Mischka shoes so much that I also have them in red!
Fear of taking up space, standing out, being I pondered the concepts on the way home, it occurred to me that such insecurities may be a significant reason so many American women are afraid to wear hats even though they'd love to do so. At the opening gala for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra a few weeks ago, I was the only woman in attendance wearing a fascinator, but I lost track of the number of women who stopped me during the course of the night to say they wished they had the courage to don one. To me, the hat "made" my ensemble for the evening, and the entire look was based on my desire to wear it. 

I had a similar experience when I wore a different hat to dinner and a New Year's party last year. To be sure, because hats are not common accessories in the average American woman's wardrobe, wearing one will likely draw attention. It might even land you in the local newspaper. And yes, women wearing hats take up more space in the world. To that I say, hats on!
The percentage of women who gathered as part of the real-life crowd enjoying  cocktails and conversation before the symphony's season opener was much higher than 17%
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Off Course

Top (Ralph Lauren); Pants (Casual Living)
I have a very good driver.  I love my driver - it's the most consistent club in my bag (and the reason I don't like par 3s). The ball may not go quite as far as I'd like (maybe stepping up my P90X game would help), but I usually hit it straight down the middle so I don't have to worry about losing too many balls.
Watch (Skagen, with custom-made grosgrain ribbon band)
I wish I could say the same when I, myself, am the "driver." So, yeah... To say that I am "directionally challenged" is an understatement. I still recall with a red face the first time my parents let me drive out of town. It was my junior year in high school and my best friend and I were visiting the campus of Indiana University, which was about two and a half hours south of our hometown near Kokomo. I had handwritten directions and the confidence of a 17 year old who knows it all and thinks she's more grown up than she is. 

We were cruising along in my old Camaro (recently repainted smoke blue after a different incident that involved my directional impairment) and singing along to everything from the Eagles to Vanilla Ice to Guns 'n Roses without a care in the world.  And then, without warning, I saw it - the big green sign on the side of the highway that said...Purdue University, next exit. What?! If you're familiar with the Hoosier state, you may recognize that Purdue's campus in West Lafayette is only about an hour west of Kokomo. This was not good, especially since we'd already been driving for two hours and thought we were headed south. 
Shoes (Callaway, with custom kilties that I made myself)
Fortunately, the kind officers at the State Police Outpost where I stopped in despair hid their laughter as they highlighted an Indiana map and put us back on track. Unfortunately, what should have been a two and half hour drive took eight hours and two tanks of gas. It took me a couple of years to figure out how that happened (it involved a confusing split on the northwest side of Indianapolis where I-65 and 465 diverge). It took me a couple of more years after that before I told my parents what happened!
Sandals (Report, with custom monogrammed clips from Etsy); Tote bag (freebie with purchase from Ulta)
If a recent outing to a new golf course is any indication, my directional acumen has not improved much with age and experience, despite electronic navigation aids. After getting hopelessly lost on country roads and phoning a friend for help, I arrived about 40 minutes after my tee time and had to sweet talk one of the pros to help me find the rest of my foursome that had started on time. 

Once I got on the course, however, my "driving" was just fine, and when I got "off course" again, it was only to change into sandals to join my friends for an apres golf cocktail or three on the clubhouse patio!

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