Thursday, February 25, 2016

From the Horse's Mouth

Last Summer I did a little trail riding around the family farm and surrounding area on a horse that hadn't been ridden in quite some time. Rusty is mild-mannered and sweet as pie, but was far more interested in the carrots in my pocket than he was in my desire to ride. In fact, he wasn't at all happy about having his "healthy" midsection tightly cinched with a saddle, and filled his belly with air when I tacked up. This is a common horse trick, those clever devils. The temporary expansion of girth while being cinched means the saddle will actually be loose once they let the air out. While less constraining for the horse, a loose saddle can be disastrous for the rider when it slips sideways and suddenly you find yourself anything but upright.
For more about my Summer adventure with Rusty, see my prior post here.
This can generally be avoided by walking the horse a bit after you tighten the cinch for the first time, giving him time to relax his belly before you tighten it again. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to outwit Rusty and make sure the saddle was secure, he initially outmaneuvered me and, sure enough, it wasn't long before the phrase "riding side saddle" took on a whole new meaning when both saddle and I ended up nearly horizontal with the ground.
My love of all things equestrian started young - I started riding when I was only 18 months old; The wrap skirt from now defunct department store Parisian is nearly 20 years old, but a timeless design; The leather bag has been with me even longer - I bought it from a street vendor in Florence, Italy in 1995; Leather belt (Nordstrom); Monogram necklace (Ross Simons); Three-strand statement necklace (Secret Ingredient); Leather riding boots (Frye; Zappos).
I get it. I really do. Nobody likes a tight waistband, be it horse or human. That's a primary reason this equestrian print wrap skirt has been an absolute staple of my Fall and Winter wardrobe since 1997. The beauty of a wrap skirt is that it's forgiving - if you fluctuate between sizes (an unfortunate reality for many of us), a wrap skirt will generally fit, and it's very simple (even for a non-seamstress like me) to move or add additional buttons at the waistband for comfort. This particular skirt has two permanent sets of buttons so that it can be adjusted for comfort on the fly in the event I've inhaled a tad too much Thanksgiving pie (or Reese's eggs, as the case may be...)
This pearl bracelet with bridle bit clasp is from the gift shop at Churchill Downs.
The other reason this nearly 20 year old skirt has remained part of my wardrobe year after year is that it's a timeless design. I cannot remember the last time the "equestrian look" was not featured somewhere as hot for the Fall and Winter season. Not that I would really care in any event, because it suits my personal style regardless of what any beauty editor deems "in" or "out," and embracing our own personal style (regardless of waist size) is really what it's all about!
A blue fox-trimmed Burberry scarf provides an extra layer of warmth and texture, and a fur and sequin trimmed head wrap from AH Collection in Clay Terrace adds practical warmth in addition to a little pizzazz; The earrings are from Profyle Boutique at Iron Works; My Longines watch also has a "horse" connection - I won it last year in the Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest (see my post about it here). It's also a timeless (pun intended) classic I'll still be wearing twenty years from now.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Frye boots are made of the softest leathers that look better and better with the patina of age and wear.
I'm linked up with Hat Attack this month!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tulle we meet again...

Tulle skirt (Anthropologie); Jacket (vintage); sequin tank (Gordmans); Suede boots (Simply Chic Consignment). All photos courtesy of Jason Jones, Jones Photo.
This jacket. Chocolate brown. The softest nubuck leather. More than 70 years old...No, that's not a typo. This jacket has more than seven decades of stories to tell.
It's one of my prize possessions. Not because I'm a lover of vintage clothing; not because it's in pristine condition despite its age; not because it fits me like a glove; not even because it was a gift.
All of those things are true, and all of those things make me love it even more. But the primary reason this jacket means so much is because it belonged to my Grandmother Dorothy Coy. 
According to my Aunt Linda, the jacket (which still bears its original Montgomery Ward label) was a staple of Grandma Coy's wardrobe throughout the 1940s and 50s, and she often wore it with jodhpurs and knee high boots to accompany my grandfather to motorcycle races on Friday nights. She also regularly paired it with plaid skirts (as do I). We are so alike, Grandma Coy and I.
She is my personal style icon, and I'm pretty sure my love for shoes, purses, jewelry, and fancy schmancy dresses came from her. I used to marvel at the collection of perfectly organized accessories in her closet.
She's been gone more than two decades. I have faith that one day we'll meet again. But until then, every time I wear the jacket I'm reminded that she's actually with me always. 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
The photo on the right is my Grandma Coy wearing the jacket for a walk in the fields behind her home in the 1950s; the photo on the left was taken the first time I wore it. My original story about the jacket, including how I came to have it, can be found here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

To Kill a Mockingjay

Red lace dress and velvet jacket (Nordstrom)
Friday night I witnessed a secret rendezvous between Colts' tight end Coby Fleener and Tom Griswold in East Bejeezus, Indiana. It felt like a scene straight out of a 1940s radio program, so it was only fitting that I was sporting a vintage hat and watch that actually were from the 1940s.
If you can't wear a vintage 1940s hat to a theatrical spoof of a 1940s radio show, when can you wear one?  Not that I need an excuse - I just like it!; The white gold and diamond watch from the G. Thrapp Estate Collection is also from the 40s; The Isabel Toledo shoes shoes have a vintage vibe but are just a few years old.
I'm talking, of course, about the Indiana Repertory Theatre's annual Celebrity Radio Show. For the last 21 years, the IRT has produced this unique spoof of traditional 1940s live radio entertainment. The fundraiser features a new script every year; local celebrities turned thespians for the cause; and no shortage of pop culture references and racous jokes that poke more than a little fun at local topics that, well, deserve to be made fun of (case in point, RFRA was a thinly veiled primary target). 
I added the red rose and crystal brooch to the vintage tilt hat to coordinate with the red lace dress.
This year's production, "To Kill a Mockingjay" didn't disappoint, with Coby Fleener seeking help from the always hilarious Tom Griswold (masquerading as a lawyer named Spartacus Finch) to produce his original musical, "The Hangry Games," in an Indiana music hall opposed to serving thespians (I don't think that means what those ridiculous East Bejeezus Hoosiers think it means...)
Unfortunately, if you missed this weekend's show, you're out of luck 'til next year; the Celebrity Radio Show is a one night only performance. But, by all means, put it on your February 2017 calendar. Whether you're a staunch supporter or merely a casual fan of live theatre, this particular event is sure to leave you laughing. 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gatsby & Me

I'm a sucker for a silent auction, and the chance to own a 1920s era dress and feather stole that were part of the Indiana Repertory Theatre's production of The Great Gatsby was too good to resist. After all, it was for a good cause...
What's more, the burned out silk velvet floral print seemed meant for my closet. In fact, four different people approached me during the cocktail reception that kicked off last night's IRT Celebrity Radio Show to tell me this particular ensemble brought me to mind.
I was drawn to the gown the minute I laid eyes on it. Though it's a period piece, the style is timeless. The rich colors; the elegant draping of velvet over a solid silk slip; and the iridescent glass beadwork at the waist bring art deco era drama without looking like a costume. Even so, I was hesitant to bid - I had no idea whether the dress would fit, or even if did, whether the cut would be flattering on a figure that is decidedly more 1950s than 1920s. 
Yet, as the end of the evening drew near and I saw that no one else had staked a claim on this gorgeous piece of IRT history, I decided to take a chance on such a unique and special garment. Of course, you know I had to try it on as soon as I got home even though it was after midnight, and I was so happy it fit that I may or may not have danced around the room doing my own uncoordinated version of the Charleston until I was too tired to take another step. Though the ensemble made its debut on the IRT stage, I'm the one planning its encore performance.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

100 Laps Around the Sun

I "May" be jumping the gun by a few months, but I'm ready to wave the checkered flag for the end of Winter and move on to Spring. April showers bring May flowers in every hue, but May in central Indiana also brings the roar of race cars and an abundance of black and white wearables.
May 29, 2016 will be the landmark 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, and you can bet I'll be in attendance (along with more than two hundred thousand or so fellow race fans - it's not called the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for nothing!) This year's spectacle promises to be more fantastic than ever: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Verizon IndyCar Series are planning a celebration of some sort every day for the 100 days leading up to the centennial race, starting tonight with Midnight on the Yard of Bricks. This free event starts at 9 pm and ends just past midnight, officially kicking off "100 Days of the Indy 500."
Because I'm a sucker for a theme and the checkered flag is such an iconic Indy 500 symbol, I usually wear a fair amount of black and white in May. I'm not alone; it's a tradition embraced by race fans all over the city. With 100 laps around the sun to celebrate this year's 100th race, I'm getting an early start with a black TAG Heuer (the official timepiece of the Indianapolis 500) and a crocheted Byron Lars Beauty Mark dress from Indianapolis based Enza's Boutique (which always has unique and uber-stylish black and white offerings for the month of May). Of course, I wouldn't be me without a little pop of color somewhere: a deep blue tanzanite ring and a pop of red on my heels stands out against the neutral color palette. Ladies and gentelmen, start your engines! 
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Don't Panic!"

Dress (Voodoo Vixen, ModCloth); Shoes (Donald J. Pliner, Zappos); Glasses (William Morris, Revolution Eyes). All photos by Jason Jones, Jones Photo.

Douglas Adams had it right. "It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes"... even when they come in a small red and yellow cardboard box full of salty deliciousness. The same is true of girl scout cookies. And Reese's Eggs (which are far superior to ordinary cups). Mmmmm. Reese's Eggs.
I am an emotional eater. Lately, I have been feeling a bit more emotional than usual. Emotional in the "I want to eat an entire box of Thin Mints with a Reese's Egg chaser while buying eleven pairs of very expensive shoes from Zappos" sense. Both of these things are bad ideas. I will not indulge them.
This time of year is always a little depressing for me. Chalk it up to lack of sunshine and socialization (a touch of self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, perhaps). And as tempting as it is to eat my feelings, it's just bad medicine. This is particularly true when my feelings taste like things that give me a rash and a stomach ache. Funny, I am actually that person who loves vegetables (especially mushrooms, asparagus, and cucumbers), but my feelings never taste like salad...
One of my favorite things to do in the midst of the Winter doldrums, however, (and which gives me neither a rash nor tummy trouble) is to read. I can wrap myself in a fluffy blanket and read for hours, completely lost in someone else's story. I don't indulge that particular pleasure as much as I'd like to because I often find myself unable to stop. "Just one more chapter" becomes the antithesis of endlessly hitting the snooze button for nine more minutes of sleep. Yep, I am really, really bad at moderation.
In any event, I've recently spent a few lovely evenings reading (for at least the fifth time since junior high) Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Yes, it is completely goofy science fiction (I am also a lover of Dr. Who and Lost in Space, so you shouldn't be that surprised). But, it is also brilliantly written and full of witticisms and thoughtful observations that reflect real life even while couched in a story line full of utter nonsense (the potato quip is not even one of my favorites). If you've never read these tomes, by all means put them on your list. Doubt me? Just check out some of the books' best quotes - I guarantee you'll smile (and if you don't, well then, as the great Zaphod Beeblebrox said, "Shee, you guys are so unhip it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off.”)
Shoes (Badgley Mischka, Zappos); Sunglasses (Prada, Revolution Eyes)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Making a Statement

Sweater (Steinmart); Skirt (Eva Franco, Enza's Boutique); Necklace (Jazzy Jewelry Indy); Purse (Charming Charlie); Boots (Schutz; Amazon)
"You are always so serious about your job and so thoughtful with your counsel, but I appreciate that you smile with your clothes." This unsolicited statement from a longtime client after a recent meeting on matters of much more substance than what I was wearing really resonated. You don't have to wear a navy blue suit to be taken seriously, but what you wear does make a statement about who you are, so think about what you want to say! My own workday style is "professional with personality," so my colleague's comment was much appreciated.
Lately, I've been wearing a lot of "statement necklaces." It's a quick way to add pizzazz to otherwise basic pieces like a solid color turtleneck. This pearl collar necklace from local Indy retailer Jazzy Jewelry Indy is a current fave, and I've even found myself building outfits around it. Jazzy Jewelry Indy offers a host of statement making pieces - check them out online here, and find pieces like this one at Profyle Boutique!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Monday, February 8, 2016


The ombre satin underlay of this gown from Macy's reminds me of an African sunset, and the subtle silver zebra stripes pay homage to the Zoolala theme without screaming animal print.

Four legged wild beasts of the eqqus variety ruled my weekend (Nerd Note: Scrabble should have two "q" tiles - eqqus would make an excellent Scrabble word). Sunday belonged to Peyton and the Broncos, but Saturday was all about zebras at Zoolala, the Indy Zoo Council's annual fundraiser at White River Gardens.
A lacquered wood bangle painted with silver zebra stripes was a $4 consignment store find; The brass and crystal statement necklace was a gift from my Mom two years ago. I was excited for the perfect opportunity to wear it. Thanks, Mom!
This year's theme was "Amazing Africa." Though the attire was simply "black tie optional," you know how hard it is for me to resist a nod to the theme of an evening, and it was easy enough to do using pieces that were already in my wardrobe and a $4 consignment store purchase.
I wore this gown to Zoobilation (a different zoo fundraiser) in 2011 (left), with a druzy necklace and really big hair; I couldn't help noticing the parallel between the old photo with Indiana Pacers Roy Hibbert and Paul George and a snapshot from Saturday night's Zoolala with a couple of gorgeous towering giraffes as a backdrop!
In fact, I took advantage of the opportunity to recycle a subtle silver zebra striped and ombre satin gown that I hadn't worn since 2011 (to a different zoo fundraiser where animal print attire was de rigueur). I laughed a little when I pulled out an old photo from the prior event. Holy cow (or zebra), my hair was MUCH bigger five years ago!
An intricately beaded evening bag I picked up at a bazaar a few years ago adds another textural dimension to the ensemble and, more importantly, is large enough to hold essentials and fits over my wrist so that I can eat and drink without having to juggle a handbag, too.
I also wanted to evoke the African theme of the night in my jewelry, and a brass and crystal statement necklace (a birthday gift from my Mom two years ago), was the perfect tribal-themed accent. Add to that a $4 set of zebra striped wood bangles from local consignment store Simply Chic and I was good to go.
I go to a fair number of events that call for formal or cocktail attire, and while I love shopping for a new dress, I actually get just as much pleasure out of finding a new way to wear something I already own and love (not to mention the fashion budget benefits). Moreover, when you're wearing a dress that's five years old, the chances are exponentially greater that no one else will show up in the same thing, and that's just how I like it. 
Though mostly hidden under the long gown, I love these gold leather sandals by Schutz (Zappos).
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Photobooth fun; (inset) My new favorite cocktail, served as part of a Zoolala mixology contest and created by Ball & Biscuit master mixologist Kendall Lockwood - it tastes like a chocolate banana milkshake with a hint of coconut, but it's entirely dairy free. Delicious! I may or may not have tried more than know, just to be sure it was the one I wanted to vote for...
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