Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"New Look" Silhoeutte; "New Age" Fabric

The dress is by my favorite current designer, Byron Lars. His exquisitely detailed and unique pieces from his Byron Lars Beauty Mark line are available in Indiana only at local Indianapolis boutique, Enza's. Anthropologie also carries a few pieces from a secondary line.
Solely from a fashion perspective, I often think I was born in the wrong era. The late 40s and 50s embody the design aesthetic that most appeals to my personal sense of style. In particular, I have and will always love the revolutionary post-war silhouette introduced to the world by Christian Dior in 1947 and immediately dubbed the "New Look."
The dresses to my right and left are vintage Christian Dior couture from his 1953 collection; My own, updated version of the New Look is contemporary designer Byron Lars' reinterpretation of the iconic silhouette in modern fabrics with an edge.
It's feminine but modest; dressy but not restricting; demure but statement-making. It's also figure flattering to the those of us who embody certain lyrics of a well-known Sir Mix-a-lot song. It's a style that will remain part of my wardrobe regardless of what's coming down the runway in any given Season. Luckily, as avant garde as the silhouette was when Dior revealed it to the mid-century masses, it's become a timeless classic, reinvented over the decades in new fabrics and by new designers so that it maintains a modern edge despite a vintage pedigree.  
These boots from Diba are exceptionally comfortable and are currently available through Amazon for just $25!
Byron Lars, one of my favorite modern day designers, excels at reinterpreting classic shapes with new fabrics and novel twists. This dress is a perfect example. Despite the voluminous skirt and floral pattern, there's no mistaking a piece rendered in shiny waxed leather and lace for a vintage frock. The materials are thoroughly  modern, and the olive green and black color-scheme lend an edge that keeps it from looking overly "girly." Yet, there's also no denying the historic "New Look" influence, either.
The 1953 Dior dress on the right features a metallic floral pattern, which was very modern for the time; what's old is a "new look" all over again in waxed floral lace by Byron Lars on the left.
In keeping with the modern approach (keeping the old "New Look" new, if you will), I paired the dress with two-tone knee high boots that are a better balance for the weighty fabrics than the demure pumps Dior might have selected back in the day. I also added a thin, 3/4 sleeve top underneath for the sake of warmth and coverage without covering up the detail of the bodice. May the New Look always be new!
I switched out a black, waxed leather tie belt that came with the dress for a wider, snakeskin print belt from Amazon. Chunky, dark metal jewelry and a large Tag Heuer watch better suit the fabric and color of this dress than delicate pieces would; the black "undershirt" is by Sleevey Wonders.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos: A Footwear Revolution

I fell in love with the heavily embroidered tulle on this gown from Victorian Trading Company.
If it wasn't obvious from the name of my blog alone, I kind of have a thing for shoes, so I was excited to be honored at last night's Revolution Ball with a prize for the best footwear (and not just for the sweet swag). What may surprise you, however, is that I was wearing black high top tennis shoes underneath my ball gown (blinged out Red's Shoe Diaries style, of course)...
You know I wasn't going to pair any ordinary tennis shoes with a ball gown...I found the rubber soled heeled hightops on Amazon and blinged them out with crystals left over from one of my Halloween costumes, weaving silk flowers through the shoelaces to coordinate with the floral motif of my gown.
Tennis shoes would NOT be my first choice for a black tie event, but when it's a fundraiser for the Greater Indianapolis YMCA, gym shoes were the ONLY choice. It's the hallmark of the organization's signature annual gala, and was more important than ever this year because the event was held in the Y's state of the art new facility at City Way, which has some of the most beautiful hickory floors I've ever seen (gotta protect them from street shoes). The City Way Y also boasts one of a kind, museum worthy art installations. Of course, there is also a bevy of cutting edge workout equipment, though the venue was transformed into an ultra hip lounge for the night, belying its more utilitarian features.
There were a lot of creative tennis shoe and tuxedo / gown combinations on display at the Revolution Ball - check out #revolutionball on Twitter to see all manner of sneaker swagger!
My personal support for the Y was dedicated to the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp in Southern Indiana. It's the kind of Summertime sleep away camp I dreamed about as a kid; and being a camp counselor there was my idea of the perfect Summer job in college. Unfortunately, it was the perfect Summer job I didn't get, so I spent the summers waiting tables at Waffle House and selling suits in a menswear store while some of my best friends hung out in the woods and mentored youngsters at Flat Rock.
I found out later that I didn't get a counselor role because a then casual acquaintance responsible for the selection process was afraid I might not be willing to get my hands and hair dirty. She didn't know at the time that I grew up on a farm and have a distinctive tomboy side despite my penchant for pretty clothes and sparkly shoes. That same acquaintance went on to become a college roommate and close friend who later admitted (around the campfire on a white water rafting trip in Kentucky) that her first impression about me had been wrong. I still wish I'd had the opportunity to experience a camp like Flat Rock first hand, and seeing how much joy it brings to several of my friends' children each Summer, I'm proud to support it. In fact, if Flat Rock offered a camp for grown ups, I'd be first in line!
Barb Ellsworth (left) and Lindsey Anglin (right) also brought sneaker swagger to their Revolution Ball formal wear.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Friday, January 22, 2016

Red Dress Revisit

This Summer I spent time with a colleague visiting from Russia. His grasp of the English language is superb, and during his nine month stay in Indianapolis he became quite fond of wordplay and puns (of which I am also a big fan). He also discovered, and fell in love with, "knock knock" jokes. I found this hilarious, and probably expended way too much energy recalling every grade school joke I could think of, both "knock knock" and otherwise.
One dress, two very different looks: switching accessories and accent colors can double your wardrobe options. Winter white details are below; Black accent details can be found here.
When I pulled out this heavily embroidered deep red dress to wear for the second time in a month, restyling it with Winter white as opposed to black accents (see my prior post here), it reminded me of that old newspaper joke: "What's black and white and red [read] all over?!" In this case, it's more "what's black or white and red all over again?" It was funny at the time, but doesn't translate as well now [sometimes I'm the only one who laughs at my jokes]. I also came up with a few more related to the color red and my Russian friend, though the references are outdated and politically incorrect so I'll spare you a groan.
Red dress (Maggie London, ModCloth); Red wool felt hat (Burlington Coat Factory); Fur stole (vintage); Beaded ivory cardigan (Nordstrom).
Bad jokes and bolshevik aside, switching out accessories and accent colors really is a great way to expand your wardrobe options and get more wear out of favorite pieces. If you spend a little time taking inventory of your closet, you'll likely find you have many more "outfits" than you thought, which can really help on those days when you think "I have nothing to wear" despite a closet full of clothes. It can also help you save money, especially when it comes to party and special occasion dresses. Many women tend to think a new dress is required for each party, wedding, fundraiser, etc., even though we already own a few (or more than a few) that we love and make us feel great. This mindset has become even more prevalent with selfies and social media ("I can't wear that dress again, I 've already been photographed in it...") So what! If a particular dress looks great on you and you love it - wear it, wear it, wear it! And then figure out how to restyle it so that you can wear it all over again.  
Even these Winter White open toe booties (an eBay find) got revamped for this outfit with the addition of red crystal brooches from JC Penney. (See how I styled them with different accents for a head to toe monochromatic look here).
Fashion is what you buy: Style is what you do with it!
I'm linked up with Hat Attack! You may also enjoy these posts:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Jumpsuit (Miss Candyfloss; ModCloth); Belt (eBay)
"Who is your classic movie star doppleganger?" I typically ignore the countless "quiz apps" that periodically float around on social media, but given my love of "Old Hollywood" style, this one piqued my curiosity. I was surprised at the result, though it's obviously based solely on some reasonably clever algorithm that identifies certain similarities in social media pictures of the subject and archived photographs of a small library of historical figures. 
I can see why a non-human app would select this particular photograph of Ingrid Bergman to compare to my black and white headshot, but I don't actually bear much resemblance to the 1940s star most most well-known for her role opposite Humphrey Bogart iCasablanca
The jumpsuit came with a narrower belt in the same fabric and color, but I preferred the contrast of a wider belt in dark grey to break up the otherwise monochromatic look.
That said, I do admire her style. And coincidentally enough, just a few days prior to taking the "doppleganger quiz," I sported my own, updated version of a classic 1940s look similar in details to some of Ms. Bergman's classic wardrobe pieces. The jumpsuit was first popularized in the World War II era (a la Rosie the Riveter), and this one by Swedish line Miss Candyfloss deliberately echoes the past in its tulip sleeves, V neckline, bust darts, and voluminous legs. In fact, it looks as though it might have been modified directly from this vintage 1940s pattern.
There are definitely similarities between Ingrid's Casablanca wardrobe and my current day retro look.
I have other jumpsuits, and I like the style because it's effortless and comfortable. But I have to say this one wins high marks in particular for the fact that it fastens in the front. My first foray into jumpsuit territory a couple of years ago had more of a 1970s Charlie's Angels vibe, and while I love how it looks, I don't wear it often because the rear zipper is very inconvenient given the volume of Diet Coke I consume on a daily basis, if you know what I mean... 
I like wide leg pants, though these verge on being too voluminous. They're about as far from skinny jeans as you can get, and are not for the fashion timid.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
This hat has been one of my Winter staples. I found it at local Indianapolis boutique Marigold ClothingThe purse is a vintage find made from an actual cedar lined cigar box - it smells divine every time I open it; The suede spectators from Poetic License also have a vintage feel. They're a favorite pair.
I'm linked up with Hat Attack!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snow White & the Severed Snow Tire

Jacket (Jones New York, JNY Outlet); Skirt (Lapis, Steinmart)
So a recent decision to wear Winter white from head to toe coincided with a vicious attack on my right front tire by a hidden pothole (or "chuckhole" depending on where you're from). Because of course it did.
The boots by J.Lo were a new in box eBay find; I added the crystal snowflake brooches for a bit of extra flair.
I was raised on a farm. I learned to drive on an International Harvester. I can drive a stick shift. I know how to change a tire. In fact, when I took my first performance driving course a few years ago, my instructor timed me while I changed all four tires from street to racing slicks, and I was progressively quicker each time.
The woven leather accents on the metallic and snakeskin leather clutch by Jack Rogers echoes the circular crocheted lace design of the skirt.
That said, an unexpected blowout...in the dark... in 19 degree weather is NOT my idea of the perfect opportunity to show off my pit crew skills. Add to that the fact that I was wearing perforated ivory ankle boots and a creamy crocheted skirt and well, yeah....
Think about unconventional ways to wear brooches (and even earrings) to add unique detail.
Thankfully, I was "rescued" forthwith by a chivalrous Private First Class in the Army home on leave for a visit with his family. He wasn't in his Dress Blues but he was as charming as a Prince when he stopped to help me out. And while I prefer my princesses strong willed and independent a la Merida (I don't love her only because she's a redhead), I was grateful that I could stay warm and toasty and keep my "snow white" outfit pristine. I offered to pay him but instead he asked that I "pay if forward" whenever I had the right opportunity. A real Prince, indeed.
Now, if could just eat an apple and hibernate through the coldest part of Winter... but that's not how the story goes, so I'll appreciate the beauty of the snow and the beauty of people helping other people.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
I'm linked up with Hat Attack!
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Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter Night Light

Dress (Bernie Dexter); Cardigan (Old Navy); Bow bracelet (Charming Charlie); Boots (Tommy Hilfiger)
This retro, 1950s style dress from Bernie Dexter is one of my favorite Winter dresses, though KDef says it looks like Thomas Kinkade threw up all over it. 
The glittery snow globe ring is from local boutique Silver in the City; I scored the statement necklace at this year's Style Swap Indy.
I have to admit I nearly spit Diet Coke through my nose laughing when he said it, though I wrinkled my nose and gave him the stink-eye, too.
The cloche from local boutique Ginger 'n Spice is a sometime accessory with this dress, depending on my mood and the weather.
I enjoy the Painter of Light's work on Christmas cards and cookie tins, but I can't imagine hanging his work over my couch - it's just doesn't fit my interior design aesthetic. 
That said, a quaint little Winter cottage scene reminiscent of the cover of a Wisconsin Cheeseman catalog is just the right amount of fairy-tale kitsch for a fun holiday dress!
I love these Tommy Hilfiger boots so much that I recently bought a second pair in burgundy. They're waterproof and lined in plaid flannel!
I'm linked up with Hat Attack!
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Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Resolutions and all that jazz...

Brocade and Lace Dress (Byron Lars; Enza's Boutique); Hat (Loreta Corsetti Couture Millinery). I've worn both the dress and hat several times, but this was the first time I've ever paired them together.
Happy Shoe Year! Cinderella lost her glass slipper after the ball as the clock struck midnight. I nearly missed the ball altogether when I couldn't find my own crystal slippers as we headed out to ring in the New Year.... Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement, but I did spend several minutes frantically searching my closet for the chosen A. Martinelli crystal heels before I remembered they were still twinkling amongst the branches of a Christmas tree featuring favorite sparkly shoes and evening bags in lieu of ornaments! 
Aha - that's where my shoes were hiding...I actually have a few pair of shoes that I like with the dress, but these crystal heels from A. Martinelli (which I found a Steinmart a few years ago) are the most comfortable for dancing; My champagne bucket purse from Kate Spade made its debut a year ago - it's the perfect bag for ringing in a new year.
Mini wardrobe-crisis averted, we danced into 2016 at the Palladium with New York based band The Hot Sardines, which Forbes called "one of the best jazz bands in NYC today." All I can say about this band is Wow! Whether you're a jazz fan or not, I'd be shocked if you weren't entertained by a live performance from this 8 member ensemble famous for its tap dancing percussionist. Seriously, check them out! Every number made me feel like we'd been dropped into the set of a Turner Classic Movie, and I couldn't contain myself from bouncing around in my seat and taking advantage of room to dance in our box above the stage. To my (almost) embarrassment, this did not go unnoticed by the band's Parisian lead singer, who called me out just prior to the encore for my festive chapeau and attitude. I might have blushed when she said I looked like a living Statue of Liberty making a NYE cameo in Carmel, but I was pretty excited when she asked to snap a picture with me after the show. It was a memorable New Year's Eve, indeed.
I wore the Loreta Corsetti hat with a different dress to celebrate New Year's Eve two years ago, and was excited to discover how well it coordinated with this year's dress, too. In a crowd of paper party hats, a more deliberate look will not go unnoticed.
As for looking ahead at 2016, I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. As I said last year, I believe if you can do better, you should. It doesn't matter what day of the year it is. Every day is a new opportunity to make good choices and to be a good person. I prefer to take my resolutions one day at a time, which keeps me from procrastinating (you know, "I'll start on Monday...I'll start next month..."). It also keeps feelings of failure at bay when I don't achieve my goals on a certain day - the next day is a new opportunity; a new beginning - no need to wait for a new week, new month, or new year. 
I'm terrible at yoga, so this is my own version of a "tree pose!"
I hope all of you kicked up your heels on New Year's Eve and you're ready to put your best foot forward each and every day in 2016. 
Clockwise, from top left: my 1940s Wyler diamond watch from G. Thrapp's Estate Collection was perfect for the noir vibe of the evening; Current In Carmel journalist and photographer Amy Pauszek took this photo of KDef, me, and of course, the celebratory champagne purse. You can read and see more of Amy's work here; To my delight, the band leader and lead singer of The Hot Sardines addressed their latest album to "The Statue of Liberty"; It's pretty cool when you're waiting in line to meet the band and the lead singer requests a picture with you rather than the other way around!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
This year's hat, shoes, and purse have all been part of prior NYE ensembles, too. No need to buy something new when you can create new looks with items you already own and love.
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This month I'm linked up with Style Crone's Hat Attack!