Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Circle City of White

A Sunday afternoon email with the French salutation "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll!) identified the top secret setting for a "Diner en Blanc" in the heart of the Circle City that same evening. The invitation for the whitewashed outdoor soiree had been extended just two weeks prior, with the instructions to wear white and bring wine and a picnic platter to share. The location, we were told, would not be revealed until the day of the party itself. The last-minute revelation added an auspicious air of mystery and anticipation. Because we live some distance away from Indianapolis, we actually left for the party before we even knew where we were going! But, coming into the city a bit early also gave us time to make an unplanned stop at one of downtown's "I" AM INDY art installations on the way.
The concept of "Le Diner en Blanc," more commonly referred to in the US as a "White Party," is French, and originated with Fran├žois Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the famous Parisian park, Bois de Boulogne, many years ago. To find each other in the park, the guests all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided to recreate it the next year. Each person invited other friends and the event grew organically into the 10,000+ dinner it is today. The location is kept top secret until the last minute, though it is always held at a very public (and often historic) locale, such as the Arc de Triomphe.
We are so grateful to our hosts for bringing this traditional City of Light celebration to the Circle City, and to our friends who extended the invitation to us. It was truly an elegant evening of revelry. Also in true European fashion, it was an evening to relax and slowly savor the smorgasboard of sweets and savories, as well as bubbly and good conversation with chums both old and new. 
The bright white palette of the decor (courtesy of the talented Elizabeth Taylor) and the guests' attire was visually striking against the green trees and red brick backdrop of the Basile Opera Center's terrace, and became even more so when the sun went down and guests lit hundreds of sparklers as eagerly as children at a Fourth of July parade. 
It was inspiring to see so much individuality in attire despite the monochromatic color scheme. There is just something about white clothing that exudes elegance (so long as wet weather doesn't turn it into a wet t-shirt contest - luckily the skies were kind on Sunday). My own dress was purchased at a street market in India a few years ago. I'd only worn it once before (to a public White Party hosted by Yelp last year), and was pleased to have the perfect opportunity to wear it again. After all, there are only so many places one can pull off a sheer white caftan embellished with heavy gold embroidery...
I also created a new recipe for the occasion - Watermelon Shrimp Ceviche, which I adapted liberally from a basic watermelon salsa recipe I found on Pinterest last year. It was delicious, so I thought I'd share it below:
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lb peeled, deveined, cooked shrimp (the ingredients are acidic enough to cook the shrimp in true ceviche style, but I was pressed for time so pre-cooked the shrimp)
  • 4 cups ripe watermelon, finely diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large jalepeno pepper, finely diced and without seeds
  • 1 medium bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (I squeezed the oranges directly into the mixture, so measurement is imprecise - add to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of garlic salt (to taste)
Directions
  • Gently mix all ingredients together in large dish and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Strain mixture in fine mesh strainer to remove excess liquid just before serving.
  • If you use uncooked shrimp, you will need to let the mixture "cook" the shrimp in the refrigerator for several hours until no pink or tranlucence remains).
  • Serve with tortilla chips (I chose lime and sea salt infused chips) and/or crostini
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Golf Course Blues

A golfing buddy has accused me of having CCOCD - that's OCD of the color coordination variety. I'd protest, but...yeah. 
Golf is not (just) about the shoes, though. I promise! Actually, I've been playing sporadically since the third grade. Last Summer, I played a lot. The repetition made a huge difference in my game, and I found myself enjoying (nearly) every second of it. I even played several solo rounds, and not just so I'd have more opportunities to wear the shoes.
 
Skirt (Ralph Lauren); Shoes (Callaway with custom kilties); Watch (Oakley)
When the leaves started to fall, I was on the cusp of breaking 90, which was my personal goal for the year. But, I am a fair weather golfer so when the temperatures dropped and the sun started setting too soon to squeeze in a round after work, I put my clubs (and shoes) away without seeing the 80s.
Dress (J. G. Hook); Cardigan (Jessica Howard); Belt (eBay); Orange python cuff (Diego Rocha); Ponytail holders (courtesy of some lovely houseguest who forgot them); Headcover (Winner's Edge Designs); Shoes (Callaway with custom kilties)
Though I should have known better, I expected to break out the sticks this Summer and pick up just where I left off. Uh...not so much. It's amazing how quickly bad habits return after just a few months without playing. It also seems both the weather and my schedule have colluded to keep me from playing as regularly as I did last year.
     
Purple striped top (Chadwicks); Purple skort (Athleta); Shoes (Callaway with custom purple kilties); Black and white striped top with lace neckline (Kohl's); Capris (Worthington, JC Penney); Braided leather belt (Lauren Ralph Lauren, Macy's); Braided leather golf shoes (Aerogreen, Lori's Golf Shoppe)
I did join a league for the first time, which has at least given me a modicum of consistency. Knowing that I've prepaid my greens fees, coupled with the fact that I have a partner counting on me to show up, gives me the freedom to prioritize 9 holes once a week when it might otherwise be all too easy to bail in the face of a crowded schedule. I'm still not feeling too optimistic about that personal goal, though...
Top (Apt. 9, Kohl's); Capris (Counterparts, Steinmart); Scarf, used as belt (Marley Lilly); Golf Shoes (Callaway, with custom kilties); Hat (Lacoste); Flip flops (Lindsey Phillips Switchflops); Watch (Skagen)
Nevertheless, I'll keep chipping away at my scores (actually, chipping is one of my biggest problems), and even if I go another summer without seeing the underside of 90, I won't be singing the golf course blues. I might, however, be wearing them...
      
Pink and navy top (Ralph Lauren); Navy capris (Casual Living); Turquoise and navy top (August Silk); Turquoise capris (Couterparts, Steinmart); Shoes (Callaway with custom kilties)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Argyle Cardigan (G.H. Bass & Co.); Cargo Pants (Sonoma, Kohl's); Braided Leather Golf Shoes (Aerogreen); Watch (Gordmans)
For more information regarding my custom kilties: check out this post:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Flour Sack of Strength & Dignity

Today, I am literally wearing a flour sack. It's not your average flour sack (whatever that might be...is there such thing as an average flower sack?) Anyway, this vintage inspired dress by Indianapolis based design company Liz Alig is constructed from recycled African flour sacks. Owner and head designer Elizabeth Roney founded the company on principles rooted in a commitment to fair trade and ethical production of her clothing from fabric to sewing. This incredibly soft cotton dress (called the "Lucy" dress) is the result of a partnership between Liz Alig and Global Mamas.
Global Mamas is a non-profit organization in Ghana working to help women in Africa become economically independent. Their purpose is to reduce the economic inequality of women by helping to significantly increase the revenues and profits of women-owned businesses through facilitating the export of Global Mamas fair trade products. This in turn increases wages, generates new jobs and improves the standard of living for women, their families, and the larger community.  
Because these dresses are hand dyed and handmade from recycled material, each is as unique as the women who make them. When I met the founder of Liz Alig at a local designer open house last Winter and first laid eyes on this dress, I was immediately attracted to the 1950s silhouette and soft, chambray hand. When I learned the story behind the dress, I fell in love.    
It seemed appropriate to pair my Lucy dress with a delicate, hand-strung freshwater pearl necklace that bears the inscription "she laughs" in reference to Proverbs 31:25 - "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Much like the dress, the necklace is also the product of an organization working to transform communities through holistic economic empowerment that brings dignity and opportunity to individuals who have been caught in a web of poverty and injustice. Fashion & Compassion works in both the US and abroad to accomplish its mission by providing employment opportunities and fair wages to vulnerable populations, and educating the public about the injustices facing women around the world. My necklace, in particular, was handcrafted in Charlotte, North Carolina by artisans employed through the Freedom Jewelry Project, which helps local women escape the cycle of poverty and abuse.
Both the Lucy dress and the necklace are tangible reminders to not take for granted how very fortunate I am, but also that there is hope for a world in which all women are clothed with strength and dignity.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Red Headed Stepchild


Father's Day Weekend 2015
You know your parents have done more than a little bit right when a friend you've only seen a few times in the last 20 years comes to visit and says she hopes she'll get to see them while she's in town, too. And when your Dad shows up with an entire bucket of Double Bubble for that same friend because he remembered how much she loved it when we were kids (he ALWAYS had it on hand when we were kids), you're reminded just how lucky you are to call such a thoughtful, generous, loving man your father. That man is my stepfather. I am, quite literally, the red headed stepchild of the family. In nearly 30 years, Mike has never once made me feel that way. He is my father and I am his daughter. I am the luckiest red headed stepchild on the planet.
Easter 2011
Mike gets me. He always has. He even appreciates my love for fashion. He actually bought me my first pair of spectator shoes from the Mason shoe catalog when I was 16 (I've been obsessed with spectators ever since). He also has his own unique personal style. It's more than appropriate that he channeled Jimmy Buffet at the lake this Father's Day weekend. When I was in high school, his favorite shirt was a wild red Hawaiian shirt covered with parrots and flowers. I hated that shirt. Mike relished the fact that I hated that shirt. I'll never forget coming downstairs on the evening of my National Honor Society induction to see him standing in the kitchen wearing a bespoke three piece charcoal grey pinstripe suit (at my request)...with that damn Hawaiian shirt underneath! My Mom told me at breakfast this morning that he wore this weekend's blue parrot version as a purposeful nod to the past. It's one of my favorite memories. My revenge, some 25 years later, is to share with the world his high school prom picture - just look at that pink ruffled shirt and plaid tuxedo! I love you, Mike. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for being you.
Clockwise, from top left: April 2011; Oct. 1997; July 1997; May 2013; the best prom tux, ever.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Zoomerang!

Dress (Betsy & Adam, eBay); Crystal shoes in "Grape" (Littleboutique, Amazon); "Zoomerang" Boomerang bag (custom designed by Indianapolis' own Enza's Boutique)
Zoobilation is one of my favorite annual events in the Circle City. I'm not alone in that sentiment - tickets to the state's largest black tie fundraiser always sell out within a day or two of going on sale February 1 of each year. It's described on its Facebook page as a "black-tie, outdoor dining event" that raises money to support the care of the zoo's animals and plants. It features fine food from more than 50 local restaurants; open bars; a DJ; and live music on multiple stages throughout the venue. The event is so much fun that attendees line up to buy tickets regardless of personal philanthropic priorities. We had friends in from Russia and the UK last week, so I was excited to share this quintessentially Indy experience with them. It did not disappoint and, as usual, we were among the last wave of guests to leave when the bands stopped playing at midnight.
 Although billed as black tie, Zoobilation lacks the stuffy air of the typical tuxedoed event. The outdoor location combined with a changing annual theme encourages guests to push the limits of formality and sometimes abandon it altogether in favor of full-on themed attire and/or a smidge of kitsch. As a result, many revelers take advantage of the opportunity to highlight their creativity and personal style. It's the one night of the year when the "human peacocks" roaming the zoo are at least as much fun to watch as the animals that are the typical focus of a visit.
The graphic design on the dress reminded me of boomerangs; I knew wearing heels was a risk, but I couldn't resist these Crystal shoes in "Grape" (Littleboutique, Amazon).
This year's event was a "Boomerang Bash" in celebration of a new koala exhibit. I spent 3 months working in Australia several years ago and to this day it remains my favorite place on Earth, so I was definitely down with the Down Under theme. I knew there would be plenty of Crocodile Dundee and Crocodile Hunter inspired bush gear on display, but I settled on this bold satin pleated dress because the graphic undulating design reminded me of boomerangs. My friend Tony took the theme to a whole other level, though, with his creative idea to incorporate actual boomerangs into the look. Together we created the "Zoomerang Bag" - custom designed and locally fabricated handbags featuring boomerang handles!
Tony found the perfect faux crocodile to coordinate with the bright colors in my dress, and I bedazzled the boomerang handles with small crystals in black, fuschia, purple, and topaz.
Tony is the chief buyer for Enza's, a family-owned and operated jewel box of a boutique in the Chamber of Commerce Building just a few blocks north of Monument Circle. This well-curated, time tested store may be a hidden gem, but those who discover it are loyalists. Tony has a keen eye and I have more than one friend who relies on him to make special event wardrobe selections for them sight unseen. Of course, I'm much more hands on, and Tony knows I enjoy helping others discover their own personal style as much as he does. So, I was both flattered and ecstatic when he invited me to breakfast to pitch our Zoobilation collaboration. It was so much fun to consult on the design of Zoomerang Bags to coordinate with the dresses of a number of Enza's long-time clients. The bags were a hit, and I was stopped a half-dozen times within 15 minutes of arriving at the zoo by people who wanted a closer look at my own bedazzled boomerang handles. We've got even bigger plans in the works for next year's theme, which will also embrace philanthropy! 
Even the heels of these Littleboutique shoes are crystal-encrusted, and nearly as sparkly as the ametrine, amethyst, and citrine rings that added a finishing touch to the whole ensemble.
I haven't typically carried a bag to Zoobilation. I'm in constant motion all evening, roaming the entirety of the zoo and rarely sitting down. So, it was important that the design allow it to be easily carried while also juggling St. Elmo's shrimp cocktail, Blondie's Cookies, or a Fuzzy's Vodka based beverage. Yet, it needed to be big and bold enough to add a kitschy exclamation mark to my "Down Under" dress.
Though it has nothing to do with the Zoobilation theme, this 18 karat gold plique a jour pendant, an estate piece from the early 1900s, may be my favorite part of the outfit, and it's definitely one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.
The resulting design achieved those goals and also allowed me to stow an umbrella and a pair of flip flops in the event that standing, walking, and dancing for 6 hours in these irresistible purple and gold crystal encrusted sandals turned out to be a bad idea... (thankfully, the rain stayed away despite a dismal forecast and the sandals were remarkably comfortable, but it was still nice to have insurance on my arm).
These women looked fantastic in their dresses selected by Tony - the coordinating Zoomerang Bags were the kitschy icing on the cake; My partner in crime and the creative genius behind the bags, himself, looks smashing in a kangaroo tee that lends the perfect amount of levity to an expertly tailored, modern navy tuxedo!
It was fun to seek out and catch up with the other women who were toting their own Zoomerang Bags, especially those whose bags I helped design. Though each was incredibly unique, they were easy to spot even in the midst of 4000 revelers. The Aussies manning the orange carpet and roaming the grounds as "guides" for the evening were also uniformly appreciative of our theme-appropriate accents.

One of my favorite things about Zoobilation, from a style perspective, is that it also gives the men in attendance creative license to color outside the lines of the basic black tux and bowtie. A friend who wore orange Chuck Taylors with his tux last year (the theme was "Rock Your Orange") wore Chucks with a Southern Cross on them this year, accented with a coordinating bow tie, suspenders, and shoe lace keepers I found for him on the internet; Tony rocked a kangaroo tee under a trim navy tux; and KDef gamely wore a boxing kangaroo tie from Zazzle and purple (faux) crocodile shoes I found on eBay. The irreverence of the men's "formal wear" at Zoobilation was definitely in keeping with the laid back Aussie spirit of the night (not that the sleeping but still cuddly koalas appreciated it)...
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Umbrellas & Ice Cream

Dress (Eshakti); shrug (Amazon); Belt (Amazon); Shoes (ShoeBakery); Diamond, peridot, citrine and iolate pendant (Ross Simons); Orange Python Cuff (Diego Rocha); Umbrella (Totes)
This dress from eShakti (an affordable online favorite) reminds me of the multitude of beach umbrellas that line Phillipsburg Beach on the island of St. Maarten, but since it rained so much in the Circle City yesterday, my little passion fruit parasol was a more apropos (and necessary) accessory. You won't hear me complain about the rain, though, even if my hair is not a fan of the wet stuff. Despite a miserable forecast, the skies have been remarkably clear for a few recent outdoor events I was really excited about, and I've been able to squeeze in a few rounds of golf between downpours, too.
I may love these ShoeBakery mint chocolate chip shoes even more than the real thing!
What I do sometimes grumble about is the fact that I can't eat ice cream. And I love ice cream. Ice cream, unfortunately, does not love me. Ice cream hates me more than my hair hates the rain. I can (and do) enjoy sorbet, but sometimes even the tart fruity sweetness of the best black raspberry sorbet pales in comparison to the mint chocolate chip creamy goodness I'd like to have.
The shoes were a splurge, but the belt and shrug were a combined $15 bargain purchase from Amazon.
But then there is Jiffy Treat. Ah, sweet Jiffy Treat. If you went to IU or have spent much time in Bloomington, you likely know all about the tiny ice cream mecca that is Jiffy Treat. What you may not know is that this bastion of frozen treasure has a non-dairy soft serve "ice cream" called Dream Delite that comes in decadent flavors like peanut butter cookie dough and cherry cheesecake. They only offer two flavors per week, and I never know before I get there what will be on tap, but it's always delicious, and it satisfies my ice cream dreams without repercussions not fit for polite conversation. I think I probably enjoy it even more because I can only get it when I head south; stopping at Jiffy Treat on the way home  from an IU game or a visit with friends and family is the icing on the cake (or the ice cream, if you will...)
The "sugar cone" heels are my favorite part.
KDef was recently in Bloomington on a Friday afternoon for an IU baseball game and sent me a text around 10 pm saying he'd be home after a stop at Jiffy Treat. Harumph! Thanks for rubbing it in, KDef. What I didn't know was that he'd had the forethought to take a cooler with him, so when he got home an hour later he surprised me with not one, but two cups of still semi-solid sweet deliciousness (he wasn't sure which flavor I'd want). His thoughtful largesse may or may not have been because he spent the day in Bloomington when I thought he was at home doing sorely needed yard work, but that's beside the point... I may or may not have eaten both cups that same night, but that's beside the point, too... 
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