Monday, November 30, 2015

The Great Outdoors

Dress (Four Eyed Girl on Etsy); Cardigan (ModCloth); Sunglasses (Kate Spade); Boots (Tommy Hilfiger)

I can't lie. Even though supporting local and small business owners is important to me, I'm a frequent internet shopper. I live in the boonies an hour outside the city, so shopping for staples in the comfort of my own computer screen (and often my pajamas) is a blessing for a busy schedule (thank goodness for Amazon Prime). But buying online doesn't mean I can't still "shop small" and, in fact, some of the most unique items in my wardrobe have come from independent artisans I would never have discovered but for the wonder of the World Wide Web. 
Hands down, one of my favorite online sites is Etsy, a virtual marketplace that features handcrafted and vintage items from small business owners and makers around the globe. From a favorite, handmade hat designed by a milliner in Estonia to custom cufflinks from Kansas, Etsy is an endless online art fair. Of course, buying an item (especially a garment that may or may not fit) from small businesses and individuals takes a certain amount of trust, and Etsy's rigorous customer feedback feature is super helpful in that regard.
One of my favorite Etsy shops is Four Eyed Girl. The shop's owner, designer, and master seamstress Ashley Kopera is one of the friendliest online merchants I've ever (virtually) met. More importantly, she makes a mean dress! I discovered Four Eyed Girl in July, when I fell in love with Ashley's version of a 1950s fit and flare style in an "Exploding Tardis" pattern. The science fiction lover in me couldn't resist the (subtle) Dr. Who themed design, so I took a chance even though I was a bit nervous about ordering a made to measure dress without the opportunity for an in-person fitting. 
If you saw my post about that dress, you won't be surprised to learn that I've since ordered three more custom dresses from Four Eyed Girl, including this one featuring a favorite but somewhat hard to come by Alexander Henry fabric called "The Great Outdoors." My Mom made some pjs for me in a flannel version of this fabric (which I scored on eBay) several years ago, and when I asked Ashley to find the cotton poplin version of the same fabric for the dress, she delivered in record time. As with my first purchase from Four Eyed Girl, this dress fit like a dream, and Ashley was even able to match the pattern at the seam up the back of the bodice, a hallmark of master craftsmanship. I've lost track of the number of people who've asked where I found such a unique dress, which is what happens when you "shop small" whether in person or online!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hidden Treasures and Local Gems

Cardigan (Pretty Woman, Bedford, IN); Suede Boots (Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos); Bag (Brahmin); Necklace (Debbie Mikulla Studio, Carmel, IN)

My favorite colors skew orange. "Jody orange." Or at least that's how I refer to it. It wasn't me who coined the term. Rather, the moniker was bestowed by a friend who several years ago noted my predilection for a range of deep red-orange hues that in more commercial realms may be called sienna, rust, paprika, burnt orange, copper, spice, or carnelian (apparently "Jody orange" doesn't adequately convey the color of an Anthropologie sweater or a new Jeep Grand Cherokee if you don't already know me...)
In any event, Jody Orange is a staple of my wardrobe in every Season, but it feels especially appropriate in the Fall. This oversized cardigan paired with spicy suede boots is the quintessentially cozy Autumn outfit. I found the sweater a few years ago in the most unexpected, chic little shop in Bedford. Pretty Woman is a Southern Indiana hidden gem that carries a range of unique styles and high end boutique brands like Frank Lyman, Samuel Dong, and Tribal. My mother-in-law introduced me to it, and despite my initial skepticism, it's now on my "must visit" list whenever I find myself in the vicinity. I've found several treasures there, like this dress, and this Colts Blue Monday staplePretty Woman is located at 3124 5th Street, Bedford, Indiana. Call 812-279-5710 for store hours.
...And then, there is THIS necklace. This exquisite statement piece was entirely hand strung by my friend (and woman of many talents) Debbie Mikulla. It consists of hundreds of individual carnelian beads accented with gold and suspended between two large disks of crackled fire agate. Debbie didn't create it with me in mind, but the moment I spied it in her Carmel studio last month I knew it was made for me. Like Pretty Woman, my discovery of Debbie's jewelry was most unexpected. We've been friends for a while, and I visited her studio this Fall to see the latest looks from Etcetera (more about that in a future post). What I didn't know before my visit was that she has also been designing and making jewelry for years, with an emphasis on semi-precious and natural stones. Hidden gems, indeed! You can check out all Debbie has to offer in her Carmel, Indiana studio by appointment: 317-201-9509
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Friday, November 27, 2015

Orange & Black Friday

This year I skipped the Black Friday crowds in favor of Netflix by the fireplace in my pajamas, resting up for a little local shopping on Small Business Saturday. If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, you know I'm always on the lookout for the unique and unexpected. So, while I will shop anywhere and everywhere, I often find the best treasure in small, independently owned businesses that are often overlooked in the onslaught of the holiday media melee.
Profyle Boutique carries a wide selection of eye catching pieces. I wear thes earrings (top right) and leather moto jacket (bottom left) frequently.
Chances are your mailbox (both electronic and streetside) are already filled with ads giving you the scoop on deals at the big chain department stores, so I thought I'd use Black Friday to instead highlight two of my favorite local places to shop: Profyle Boutique and RevolutionEYES. In fact, I'm such a fan of these two independently owned businesses that last month I jumped at the chance to host a private shopping event to introduce them to friends...and because I'm me and the event took place just before Halloween, you won't be surprised to learn that both my outfit and the party favors channeled the colors of the Spookiest season - my own personal "Orange & Black Friday," if you will.
I appreciated the opportunity to fete my friends while introducing them to the unique finds and excellent customer service offered by two of my favorite locally owned businesses. From top left: party favors to match my ensemble and the season; with RevolutionEYES staff Brandon and Donna (and sporting a favorite pair of orange Tory Burch sunglasses, exclusive to the store); talking style; limited edition Prada sunglasses from RevolutionEYES.
Of course, you don't need a personal invitation to visit either place, and if you're local, let me share a few reasons why you should! Besides the warm but modern ambience that greets guests as they enter Profyle's IronWorks at Keystone location, you'll find a mix of classic and trendy wardrobing pieces,including some unique lines (like 724 llc) that can't be found elsewhere in the city, or even the state. Beyond that, it's a "go to" place to find statement making accessories like the collar necklaces, earrings, and clutches pictured in this post.
Profyle Boutique's owner, Wandini Riggins (bottom right) is as stylish as she is friendly, and the selection she showcases in the store never disappoints.
As for RevolutionEYES...let me just say that it is the only optometry office that I have ever been truly excited to visit. It's not just a place to get your eyes checked; it is an experience in eyewear. Whether you're looking for corrective lenses or the latest and greatest in super stylish sunnies, Brandon and Debbie will help you find it. My latest obsession (and one that can only be found locally at RevolutionEYES) are the customizable, interchangeable glasses from French designer Zenka. Like my beloved SwitchFlops, these eyeglasses can be changed in a heartbeat to coordinate with every outfit. Last time I visited, I couldn't resist trying on about 25 combinations. Function AND style - at RevolutionEYES you can find glasses to help you see better and look better!
I want a these Zenka glasses in my life - one pair of corrective lenses; hundreds of different looks!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Autumn in NYC

At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I was annoyed when this Times Square street performer insisted on swathing me in Old Glory during a long weekend in the Big Apple last month. I recognize how blessed I am to have been born a citizen of this great country, but red, white, and blue just didn't coordinate with the autumnal hues of my ensemble. Didn't he realize I was trying to get a photo for this blog?!
Olive wool beret (Nordstrom, embellished with a vintage brooch that belonged to my Grandma Dorothy. Find more fun hats on The Style Crone's Hat Attack); Plaid jacket (Gordman's); Tulip Skirt (Focus 2000, Steinmart); Whipstitched leather and suede bag (Burberry Prorsum); Boots (Burberry)
You have to admit that an olive green umbrella with burnt orange trim is a better accent for this outfit than Lady Liberty's painted plastic also kept me dry on a day dominated by drizzle.
I was so glad I brought an umbrella. This one is from Nautica. The boots are Burberry, and were remarkably comfortable for an afternoon of sight seeing despite their height.
As much fun as I had snapping photos all over the heart of the city that never sleeps, I didn't even consider pulling out a camera while visiting the 9/11 Memorial. It was my first time at the site, and I was not prepared for the overwhelming and complex emotions I experienced as I gazed into the reflecting pools situated in the footprint of the Twin Towers. It was a powerful reminder of how precious life is and how fortunate we are to live in a country where acts of war and terror are still met with outrage and not just as an inevitable part of our daily lives. So as I give thanks this Thursday for all the good in my life, I'll couple it with a prayer that we should all be so lucky.
I couldn't resist adding a little Red's Shoe Diaries' "digital graffiti" to this Times Square food truck! Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Siren Song

Dress (Tadashi Shoji); Headpiece (Loreta Corsetti Couture Millinery)
Even if your appreciation of opera stops with Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny in Warner Brothers' parody of Richard Wagner's opus, there's no denying it's easily the most dramatic of the musical genres. I wasn't even good enough to make the cut for my fifth grade choir (true story), so I find the unbelievable notes hit (and held) by those with the talent to sing it particularly awe inspiring.
You didn't really think I'd be hiding a boring pair of pumps under the lace train of my gown, did you? These crystal encrusted sandals are by Nina and come in different colorways.
I can't sing a note, but I like to think I can dress a good game, so I brought my own kind of drama to this weekend's Indianapolis Opera Ball. When I found this Tadashi Shoji gown last January, I fell hard for the nautical theme of the heavily embroidered, sheer lace. 
A parade of mermaids surrounded by starfish, angelfish, seahorses, anchors, compass roses, and seashells graces the bodice from head to toe. I had never seen anything like it, though it looks like it might have come straight from the art nouveau era. Indeed, several people have asked if it's vintage, but it was actually part of the designer's 2015 resort collection.
At the risk of gilding the lily (because we all know I'm not much of a moderation girl), I couldn't resist the opportunity to wear a dramatic headpiece by my favorite milliner, Loreta Corsetti. I've treasured this one of a kind piece of art featuring a traditional birdcage veil modernized with hand-strung irridecent glass beads for a few years. I've worn it for other events with other ensembles, but I think I love it even more with this dress, especially with the temporary addition of crystal-encrusted metal shells and starfish to extend the nautical theme, literally, from head to toe. The seaworthy embellishments were originally part of a necklace, but I used a small pair of jewelers' pliers to take it apart and repurpose it for this look. I hope Loreta agrees it was a perfect modification of her genius for this particular ensemble.
The ball itself was a splendid event: elaborate centerpieces in the rich colors of the Season; a meal that exceeded "fundraiser" expectations; two excellent bands; a stunning performance by two up and coming sopranos who got their start in the Circle City; and the company of friends and colleagues that make me smile in any environment.
My friend Yolanda brought glamour to her hunter green velvet dress with coordinating velvet opera gloves; a crystal-encrusted gold minaudierre; and dazzling green crystal heels from LittleBoutique (I have similar LittleBoutique heels in grape).
I'd be remiss if I didn't also give a shout-out to Becca at my favorite local salon and spa, Studio 2000, for creating the perfect pin curls to complement my chapeau! Likewise, many thanks to Indianapolis photographer Faith Blackwell for providing a fun "pre-party" opportunity to gather with friends in her near-downtown studio for sips, snacks, and (professional) snapshots that remove any desire for tableside selfies in a dimly lit ballroom - something to think about next time you're all gussied up!
KDef didn't neglect the details, either, accenting his classic Ralph Lauren tux with music-themed cufflinks that once belonged to my Dad.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
If you love exotic headpieces, check out The Style Crone's Hat Attack,too!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lauren, Catherine, Lana, Too...

Despite Marilyn's mug on my neckwear, the glen plaid menswear trousers, trench coat, brogues, and fedora are decidedly more Hepburn than Monroe.
"Greta Garbo, and Monroe. Deitrich and DiMaggio. Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, on the cover of a magazine. Grace Kelly, Harlow, Jean, Picture of a beauty queen. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, dance on air. They had style. They had grace. Rita Hayworth gave good face. Lauren, Katherine, Lana too. Bette Davis, we love you."
I found the scarf at a vendor booth at a fundraising walk; Brogues (Frye, Zappos); Watch (Fossil, Nordstrom Rack); Pants (Bass, thrifted)
If the sight of this scarf leaves you with an irrational desire to frame your face with your hands and "strike a pose," welcome to my world. If it doesn't, you did not grow up in the 90s. Marilyn is actually my least favorite of the sixteen icons called out in Madonna's classic hit (though I'm still a fan). My own taste runs more toward Kate than Norma Jean. In fact, Catherine, Lauren and Grace top my list of Old Hollywood style icons, along with Audrey and Veronica, neither of whom got a shout out in Vogue despite their clear contributions to Tinsel Town's Golden Age. Come on, Madge, surely you could have worked them in! (How about "Audrey, Garbo, and Monroe.... Lake and Haworth gave good face?") 
Fedora (Marigold Clothing in Broadripple, IN); Trench Coat (Insight, The Secret Ingredient). Love headwear? Check out the The Style Crone's Hat Attack for some amazing chapeaus!
I've always loved the glamour of Old Hollywood, and many of my favorite movies of the era are at least as well known for their stunning costumes as they are for their plot. Case in point: Funny Face - Givenchy's elegant designs for Audrey's librarian turned model Jo Stockton are still relevant today, making the movie a joy to watch despite the razor thin plot. Likewise for How to Marry a Millionaire - Bacall's sharp suits and the film's introduction of the "New Look" silhouette provide a visual feast, but the plot is archaic if still amusing.
 Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Handbags for Hope

Retired Indianapolis Colt and superbowl champ Justin Snow and I compare our auction wins: he was the high bidder on my Diet Coke clutch, while I went home (coincidentally) with a Colts clutch.
Yesterday I sold the purse off my back (well, literally, off my arm rather than my back) to retired Indianapolis Colt and Superbowl winner Justin Snow, and threw in the coordinating bracelet from my wrist for good measure. How's that for an unexpected Saturday afternoon? It's not quite as odd as it sounds... 
This insanely puffy, pleated Chicwish skirt featuring a London street scene is not for the timid, and was quite the conversation starter at Handbags for Hope.
If you follow Red's Shoe Diaries, you know I'm addicted to Diet Coke. So, naturally, when I found a small silver clutch that mimicked my favorite caffeinated beverage can, I had to have it. I carried it for the first time on Saturday, to the 8th Annual "Handbags for Hope" fundraiser. This event features a live and silent auction that raises funds for the Beacon of Hope Center for Womena local non-profit whose mission is to empower victims of domestic violence to become self-sufficient by providing safety, support and education. It was my first time at the PNC Bank-sponsored fete, and my introduction to Beacon of Hope and the valuable programs and services it provides to the central Indiana community.
I sweetened the pot for the live auction of my Diet Coke clutch by throwing in my custom-made bracelet made from an "upcycled" Diet Coke can. Find out more about this upcycled aluminum can jewelry here.
A friend who knows well my penchant for unique purses invited me, and I have to admit I agreed to go as much for the unusual format of the event as for the cause. Each guest brings a new or lightly used handbag filled with "surprises." Some of the purses were put in a traditional silent auction (a popular staple of Indiana fundraisers), while others were reserved for the live auction that took place following a delightful meal. 
Striped top with lace trim (Kohls); Shoes (Donald J. Pliner); Safety Pin Clutch (Bodhi Bags, eBay); Sunglasses (Prada, Revolution Eyes)
My initial contribution to the live auction was a large, special edition Vera Bradley tote bag filled with two smaller Vera Bradley pieces (a cosmetic bag and travel jewelry case); blown glass wine charms; a braided leather and silver bracelet, gift cards for Starbucks and iTunes, and a Bath & Body Works gift set. I hadn't planned to put my brand new and beloved Diet Coke clutch in the auction, as well. But, I was so moved by the program and the impact that Beacon of Hope makes on the lives of women who, but for the grace of God, could be me that I made a spur of the moment decision to offer up my shiny little piece of Diet Coke kitsch for the cause, too.
The Vera Bradley prints in my contribution to the live handbag auction were all special edition designs
As you might expect at a handbag-focused event, the guest list was overwhelmingly female. But several local news anchors, athletes and other philanthropic-minded men stepped up to "model" the purses, with emcee Chuck Lofton and volunteer Justin Snow also bidding handsomely during the live auction on items intended as gifts for loved ones. And that's how Justin ended up buying the bag off my arm. I told you it wasn't nearly as odd as it sounded! 
There's no denying the contrast between my new Colts clutch and the "purse" that I rigged up at the last minute to meet NFL stadium security requirements earlier in the Season (inset), though that bag definitely served its purpose (I blogged about it here).
I haven't heard any final numbers yet, but by all accounts the event was a big success, and I was thrilled that my handbag contributions raised nearly $600 to help Beacon of Hope serve women and families in need. Not surprisingly, I didn't leave the auction empty-handed either. I came home with a super cute Indianapolis Colts-themed clutch. Although I'm still quite proud of the NFL stadium rule-friendly zip tie and a clear plastic curtain bag I MacGuyvered for this year's home games (remember my Black & Blue Monday post?), there's no denying my new clutch is quite a bit more stylish (though it is, unfortunately, still a bit too big to pass muster with Lucas Oil Stadium security). 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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