Thursday, May 28, 2015

Five Years of Friendship & Fashion

I always look forward to spending time with Yolanda and Kristen at FAS events, as we rarely have time to catch up during the busy work day.
On May 5th at 5:55 pm, the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Fashion Arts Society celebrated its Fifth Anniversary with a gala event and the opening of a fabulous new fashion exhibit built, in part, on funds raised by the Society in its first five years. The exhibit itself is phenomenal. It's impossible to wander through the historical pieces on display and not appreciate that fashion is, indeed, an art form. The IMA also has a "Dream Cars" exhibit this month, so between the treasured textiles and one of a kind concept cars, I was pretty much in museum nirvana.
I might never have met Dedee if it weren't for FAS, but we've bonded over our shared love of vintage fashion, fast cars, and Halloween.
Yet, as the evening flew by in the blink of an eye, I was keenly aware that my affiliation with the Fashion Arts Society has wrought multi-faceted friendships in my life that are far more valuable than clothes and cars. The women and men I've met through FAS are incredibly creative, diverse, and genuine. I have been enriched and inspired by having these people in my life. There are Madison and Crystal, who encouraged me to start this blog; there are Yolanda and Kristen, who I brought into the FAS fold, but with whom I've developed deeper friendships as a result of our shared FAS experiences; there is Angie, who shares my love of the whimsical; there is Dedee, who is my kindred spirit with respect to vintage clothes and cars; there is Tanya, a fellow attorney I once faced off with in litigation but who is now a good friend and lakehouse neighbor; there are Paco and Jamie, who take the art of entertaining to dizzying heights and whose delightful stories I could listen to for hours; and there is Deborah, who reminds me to fearlessly be myself. 
Deborah Dorman is a study in individuality and personal style. I'm honored that she considers me one of her "BFFs." One of the IMA's "dream cars" serves as a backdrop for the FAS 5th Anniversary gala.
There are more, to be sure, and I don't mean to offend by leaving anyone out. At an FAS event, I never feel like I have enough time to spend with all the living, breathing works of art that exhibit the beauty of the human spirit. Thank you, IMA, for being so much more than just a place to see pretty pictures. 
Deborah Dorman (center) and Lorene Burkhart (right) were the first inductees into the FAS Fashion Hall of Fame, along with the always dapper Stephen Taylor. All three are fiercely individual in their style and an inspiration to others not interested in cookie cutter clothing. Lorene, who has donated more than one haute couture garment to the museum's collections, also demonstrates that money is not essential to style - she's wearing a sweater that was crocheted by her mother decades ago.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

For an adventure in fabulous headwear, check out this month's Hat Attack by the Style Crone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jody and the Technicolor Dream Skirt

In honor of last weekend's Indy 500 (one of the most exciting in recent history), my last three posts were nearly devoid of color beyond my ginger locks, a "caution flag belt," and a pop of pink for Pippa. With the big race over and the arrival of Summer to the Circle City, it only seemed proper to put away the black and white and welcome the sunshine with a circle skirt exploding in color.
I generally march to the beat of my own drum when it comes to personal style. That means I often wear things that others find, well..., let's just say unusual. I'm not trying to be different, I'm just trying to be me. My wardrobe is just another expression of my creativity.
Recently, I've discovered a kindred style spirit in fellow fashion blogger Lauren Blair at Prefer To Be Demure. It was Lauren who introduced me to Chicwish, an online boutique full of pieces that have me dreaming in technicolor. I fell in love with this skirt  the moment I saw it, and when it went on sale I snatched it up. 

I was delighted to find it every bit as vibrant and detailed in person as it looks online. It is also poofy. Very poofy. It definitely fits this short, curvy, "Sir Mix-a Lot sings about my body type" girl differently than it does the statuesque online models on the Chicwish site
I love it anyway. It makes me smile. I already had the perfect pieces to complement it. I couldn't bear to return it. You know what, I'm glad I kept it, poofiness and all. It is a very "Jody" skirt. Thank you, Chicwish for making my technicolor dream skirt a reality. I only wish I wasn't dreaming about so many other Chicwish skirts, too...
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Taking the Checkered Flag (too far...?)

Dress (Grace Karin); Shrug (The Limited); Belt (eBay) 
Another beautiful race day in the books. I'm sunburned and sleepy this evening, but I wouldn't have missed it. It started slow, with a multi-car crash a mere three seconds after the green flag was raised. After several laps under the yellow, I thought maybe my last minute choice this morning to grab a yellow belt over a green one was a jinx... But, it ended up being a nail-biter at the end, with quite a bit of screaming and jumping up and down by yours truly. I drew Scott Dixon in our annual pool, and even with three laps left to go, I really thought he might be the 99th winner of the Indy 500. Alas, Juan Pablo Montoya took the checkered flag, but it didn't dampen my enjoyment of the race. 

My friend (and Pariah5K fashion designer) Barbara Riordan looks chic in red accented with her own checkered flag pin and fingernails.
Speaking of the checkered flag, I usually wear black and white on race day, and last year sported the iconic checks on my fingernails and flipflops. But this year's sundress was, admittedly, (perhaps) a little over the top. Then again, I am who I am, and I loved the dress. It's lightweight cotton perfect for a hot day; it's as comfortable as shorts and t-shirt; and it's just, well, me. Staying true to my personal style also meant that local fashion designer and fellow fashionista Barbara Riordan (check out her work here), recognized me almost immediately from several bleachers away. It was a treat to find out we've both been coming to the race and sitting in the same section for years! 
The Izod IndyCar Series backback was a favor from a race event a few years ago, and I've put it to good use; Lindsay Phillips Switchflops are the only flipflops I wear - the checkered flag straps are infinitely interchangeable to match any outfit; the watch is from AquaMaster.
Race day is a long one, so my gear has to be practical, too: a small backpack takes the place of a purse; comfortable flipflops make the mile plus walk to and from the car an easy one; and a hat helps keep me out of the sun (though I still always end up a little pink, even with SPF 70). Headphones and a race scanner are also key, both to protect my ears from the constant barrage of high decibel engine noise, and because I love tuning in to the behind the scenes chatter and strategizing of the various race teams. I'm already looking forward to the 100th running of the Indy 500 next year!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

For an adventure in fabulous headwear, check out Hat Attack by The Style Crone.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Poetic Pop of Pink for Pippa

Dress and jacket (Pretty Woman Boutique in Bedford, IN)
More black and white...
What can I say? 
I just can't resist
in the month of May. 
Shoes (Elle Runway Collection)
Satin striped shoes
with bows of black
echo the colors
of the checkered flag.
Watch (Tag Heuer, G. Thrapp Jewelers)
The shoes make this outfit,
of that there's no doubt,
with a bright pop of PINK
 as a Pippa shout out.
Safety Pin Clutch (Bodhi)
Why the bright hue?
It's not what you think.
It's not just 'cause she's a girl
that her racecar is PINK.
She's sponsored by Komen.
She drives it with pride.
for her PINK Indy ride.
Like me she loves fashion,
fast cars and shoes, too.
We met at a style show,
After the Komen for the Cure Fashion Show, Fall 2014.
On Sunday I'll cheer for the driver in PINK
I hope when it's over, Pippa,
the milk will be yours to drink!

You may also enjoy my Guest Post for the Karina Style Diaries, below, or these other racing & fashion related posts:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Indy Indy Indy!

Dress (Nikki Blaine Couture); "No Wire Hangers" bangle bracelet (vintage); Shoes (Seychelles)
I may have started the month of May with a "Pink Out" in Louisville for the Kentucky Oaks, but as a lifelong Hoosier you know I can't resist breaking out the black and white as Memorial Day Weekend in Indianapolis approaches. Sporting the colors of the checkered victory flag may not be as closely tied to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as hats are to the Run for the Roses, but you might not know it from the sea of black and white that crops up in local boutiques and on fashionable Indy 500 fans throughout the month of May.
Nikki Blaine Couture recently opened a fantastic new boutique in Zionsville, where you can shop off the rack or request a personal consultation and let the designer herself create something special just for you.
Race day itself calls for casual attire (as my friend and long-time race companion Pete once said to me, "this ain't the Derby, you know..."), but there are plenty of other opportunities to bust out the black and white for day and night. As one site accurately describes, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing "is actually the culmination of a month long event. It begins the first week in May with the Mayor's breakfast and parade around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway" followed by qualifications, practice days, and lots of pomp and circumstance. The race itself is always on the Sunday before Memorial Day, and regularly attracts some 400,000 spectators, earning it the title of the largest one-day sporting event in the world.
....and of course I'm sporting the spectators. I may or may not have them in a green and camel color scheme, too. (Shoes: Seychelles).
I never miss an opportunity to capitalize on a theme, so I know you're not surprised to see me sporting black and white this month. Not that I need an excuse to wear this graphic print, jersey shirtdress from critically acclaimed local couture designer Nikki Blaine (not to be confused with the cigar and martini bar Nicky Blaine's, another Indianapolis icon and a hotspot during the month of May.
Ringing in the 2014 New Year with Nikki herself (center), and local fashion maven Murph Damron (right).
I met Nikki several years ago through a mutual friend, and I've long admired her attention to detail and out of the box design aesthetic, particularly when it comes to evening wear and repurposing vintage textiles or outdated styles into something fresh and exciting. This dress, which I picked up during a sample sale she held last Fall, is more basic than what I typically think of as the "Nikki Blaine style." But, it bears the hallmarks of her steadfast attention to fine tailoring and I can honestly say it's one of the most comfortable dresses I own. Plus, the fabric is so silky that it feels great swishing around as I walk! It seems fitting to wear the dress of a local Indy designer in a nod to the city's color scheme of choice this month. I may just need to stop by that martini bar after work... you know, just to help complete my Indy experience and support the local economy...
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Wine, Women & Shoes

I spent a delightful Friday afternoon enjoying Wine, Women & Shoes, an annual fundraiser and "girls day out" that helps Gleaners Food Bank combat hunger in our community (did you know that 8 out of 10 Indianapolis Public School students receive free or reduced school lunches?) The cause was noble; the wines were wonderful; and the shoes were spectacular. There were also firemen and a host of handsome "sole men" on hand to dole out drinks, hors d'oevres and other delights.
Many thanks to the Carmel Fire Dept. for supporting Gleaners at Wine, Women & Shoes, not that they minded... I think I'll stick with my own hat, though - those firefighter helmets weigh a ton!
I thought my blog post about the event would focus on the parade of high-stepping heels (this is, after all, a footwear focused fashion blog). And there were firemen. Did I mention there were firemen? 
Yet, a fortuitous typo in the Indianapolis Star and an unexpected text the following day shifted my focus from fashionable footwear to the wonderful collection of women in attendance. The caption for the photo by Matt Detrich, below, on the Indy Star website reads, "Jody DeFord of Indianapolis sported her people hat during the annual Wine, Women and Shoes luncheon held at the Lucas Oil Estate benefiting Gleaners Food Bank of Central Indiana on Friday, May 15, 2015. The event featured wine tasting, auctions, fashion marketplaces and a fashion show created for women who enjoy fine wine, great style, and female camaraderie.
See more coverage of the Wine, Women & Shoes event by Matt Detrich and the Indianapolis Star here.
That sense of female camaraderie was evident in the ready smiles that greeted me at every turn, even though I'd ventured out solo for the afternoon festivities. My purple "people" hat sparked delightful discussions with perfect strangers and led me to connect with like-minded headwear sporting souls like Christy, below, who dazzled in an ivory and black ensemble perfect for the month of May in Indianapolis. It may have been our mutual admiration for sporting chapeaus that drew us together, but a friendly text message from her on Saturday morning left an even better impression than her expertly coordinated "ladies' day out" look, and I'm looking forward to a lunch date with her next month.
I was also fortunate to run into a number of other women I am blessed to know, including a few friends from the IMA's Fashion Arts Society ("FAS"). Coincidentally enough, it was also a love of hats that led to my initial connection with FAS two years ago when I accepted a gracious invitation from a long-time friend to attend the group's annual "Hats Off" luncheon. Since that time, I've become an active member and even chaired the 2014 luncheon. 
Haute heels and stylish chapeaus may seem like like little more than shallow, materialistic trappings dripping in frivolity. To some extent, they are. But, by expressing my creativity through personal style and embracing others who do the same, I've discovered women of complexity and passion, and I've developed friendships and support networks that are far more valuable than the latest Jimmy Choos. 
One friend whom I hold in the highest esteem I met only after she posted a photo of me on her own blog about the 2013 Hats Off Luncheon, originally identifying me only as "the woman who aced [her] out in the Hatastique category, a best of show category for the best all-around ensemble." A mutual friend sent me a link to her post, and after I reached out to introduce myself, Crystal and I became fast friends. We enjoy talking fashion and share a mutual love of vintage, but she was also a tremendous source of support during a health crisis; we've collaborated to raise money for a mutually important cause; and I cherish our conversations on challenging topics that have nothing whatsoever to do with style and "stuff." 
Yes, on reflection, I am happy to say that the Women were the most important aspect of last week's Wine, Women & Shoes event - women supporting other women and women supporting a critical cause in our community. Ladies, we should be proud (and there's nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon of fab footwear and firemen, either. Did I mention there were firemen...)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it?
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...and for a fabulous adventure in headwear, check out Hat Attack by the Style Crone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Triple Crown Dreams

The weather was perfect for both the Oaks and the Derby this year. I'm so glad I didn't have to cover up my aqua polka dot dress from Jessica Howard under a rain poncho.
This year's Kentucky Derby is in the books, but I've already registered for next year's tickets! It's not too early, people - if you have your own Derby dreams, you can register here for 2016! If you saw my recent post "Toast to the Oaks," you know the process used to be much more challenging, but now you're only a few clicks away from an opportunity to purchase tickets during an exclusive online pre-sale in the Fall. It's still not easy to guarantee your spot for this in-demand, always sold out event, but you'll have a much better shot if you take advantage of the pre-sale. 
Coincidentally, this year's souvenir mint julep glasses and Grandstand wristbands were a perfect match to my Derby day attire. I'd also brought a watch with an aqua leather band, but I swapped it out for the beautiful Longines Conquest Classic I won in this year's Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Show - definitely my luckiest day at the racetrack, ever!
I don't think I'll ever get tired of spending the first weekend in May at Churchill Downs. What started as a bucket list adventure has become a tradition that I treasure. Someday, I'd love to complete the Triple Crown circuit with a trip to the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. 

But, not just so I can wear more hats, I promise...
This hat was self-embellished to coordinate with the dress.

Well, maybe the hats have a little something to do with it...
A few sparkles here and there are always appropriate at the Derby. If you are a lover of hats, you may also enjoy the monthly Hat Attack series by the Style Crone.
But I've also loved horses and everything horse related since I was toddler, and the smell of saddle leather in a well-stocked tack room is my favorite smell on the planet. As a child, my room was decorated floor to ceiling in all things equine, and my Mom often found me schooling my barbies to "keep their heels down" when they "rode" my vast collection of Breyer horses - a common refrain I picked up from my Aunt Linda, who gave riding lessons at her farm just down the road. My Mom and I also kept our own horses there, trail riding or just tooling around the fields or the indoor arena whenever we had the opportunity.
With my first love, Arkansas Traveler. We called him Arkie and together we had a million imaginary adventures.
I miss riding with my Mom and my Aunt, and I miss the smell of the tack room. To this day, even the hint of saddle leather in the air brings back countless memories. I think one day owning another horse might be on my bucket list right along with a trip to the Preakness and the Belmont.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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