Sunday, May 29, 2016

Got Milk?!

A fedora (left) was fun for a late-May party, but sitting in the bleachers for several hours at the Speedway on race day calls for a wide-brimmed hat (right) to shield me from the sun.
Good morning, race fans! If you're not familiar with the Indy 500, you're probably wondering why on Earth I'm carrying a purse that looks like a milk carton. But if you're from Indiana or you follow the Verizon IndyCar Series and its most famous race, I don't have to tell you what the milk is all about.
I used a pair of 1980s mother of pearl checkered earrings turned shoe clips to add a little Indy 500 style to my pink sandals.
Yes, it's a little kitschy (and admittedly, so is the checkered flag sundress). But you know what? I just couldn't resist the cheeky little nod to the iconic Indy 500 Victory Lane beverage of choice (even though I personally prefer the taste of fine champagne...or Diet Coke...!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Bag (Betsy Johnson, eBay); Shoes (ShoeStory, Amazon)
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Wine, Women & 100 Wearings

Skirt (American Living, JC Penney); Sweater (TJ Maxx)
Whew! It feels like May has passed in the blink of an eye. I suppose that's not surprising in a month punctuated by two of the world's most famous races, both of which have a special place in my heart. It begins with the thundering hooves of thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs, and ends with horsepower of a different sort at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The entire month is a celebration of speed, both on and off the respective racetracks!
With the Kentucky Derby behind me, it seemed fitting to switch gears (pardon the pun) and move from the exuberant hats iconic to the historic horse race to the black and white color scheme of the checkered flag that signals victory at the Indy 500. A mid-month "Wine, Women & Shoes" fundraiser for Gleaner's Food Bank at the beautiful Lucas Estate was the perfect opportunity to make a smooth transition, combining style elements representative of both my favorite races. 
Shoes (Donald J. Pliner, Zappos); Sunglasses (Prada, Revolution Eyes); Hat (Steinmart, with feather embellishments from Etsy)
As it happens, this year Indianapolis celebrates the 100th running of the World's largest one day sporting event, which is around the same number of times I've worn this skirt in the last several years (or at least if feels that way). As for the hat, I actually wore it in my very first blog post more than three years ago, and it's been borrowed countless times by friends. Like the Derby and the Indy 500, classic black and white never go out of style!
 Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Truly, this chevron stripe skirt is one of my "most worn" wardrobe pieces: last Summer I paired it with bright coral (far left); in 2011, I went all black and white (center); in 2009, I paired it with leopard print for a bit of unexpected pattern mixing.
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Jade Chapeau

Chiffon floral dress (Jessica Howard, Amazon); "Ice Bucket" purse (Kate Spade); Sunglasses (Prada)  
This year was the second time I've worn this hat to Churchill Downs (albeit the first time with a different dress). I've worn it to other events, too. I like it. I really do. And this dress. I really like this dress. I knew the moment I tried it on months and months ago that it was a Derby dress contender.... So why was I less than excited when I pulled it all together on the first Saturday in May?
I added floral clips to a pair of super comfortable platform sandals to match the dress - Derby day always means A LOT of walking, so stilettos are out. For men, seersucker and spectators are de rigueur.
It was because it just didn't compare to the ensemble I'd sported one day earlier for the Kentucky Oaks, with its spectacular and sparkling skyscraper chapeau. It seems odd to say that the riot of coral; peach; feathers; flowers; and pearls felt kind of, well..., pedestrian. But there you have it. As I admired all of the pageantry that epitomizes the Kentucky Derby, taking in the myriad looks on parade with varying levels of appreciation, I wondered whether I was becoming jaded about a weekend I look forward to with eager anticipation every year.
The delight is in the details - the crystal and pearl embellishments are my favorite aspect of this particular hat.
But you know what? I'm not. The Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby are still two of my favorite days of the year, and I have enjoyed every one I've attended (even the years it rained). You know what else? I'm already thinking about next year!
Fashion is what you buy: Style is what you do with it!
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Roaring 20s Style

If you know me, even a little, you know how much I love a themed event, and you know how much I love a vintage look. So, it might surprise you to learn that, until last month, I had never been to a 1920s themed soiree.
Dress (Unique Vintage)
This, despite the ongoing resurgence in popularity of the era as a party theme in the wake of Buz Lehrmen's big-budget remake of Gatsby in 2013. This, despite the fact that I've had this heavily beaded 20s style cocktail dress in my closet for quite some time. This, despite the fact that I own an actual costume from the Indiana Repertory Theatre's production of Gatsby. This, despite the fact that I go to a. lot. of. events...
Crystal embellished satin dance shoes (Dyeables)
So, I was excited when I learned this year's JDRF gala would have a "Roaring 20s" theme. The annual fundraiser is always a stellar event for a great cause, but the addition of the theme added an extra spark of energy to the evening, and set it apart from a Spring full of hotel ballroom chicken dinners and silent auctions.
The burned-out velvet gown and feather boa (left) once graced the stage in the IRT's production of The Great Gatsby, though it can pass for a more contemporary design that I'll wear to other events.
That said, I actually faced a small wardrobe dilemma when choosing my 20s attire for the evening: should I go with the vibrant peacock-print burned-out silk velvet gown that once graced the stage in the IRT's production of The Great Gatsby, or should I go with the the iridescent glass-beaded black mesh flapper dress from Unique Vintage? Decisions, decisions...
A vintage beaded handbag, vintage jet beads that once belonged to my Grandma Coy, a black wool cloche, and black crocheted lace gloves with crystal accents, complete my 20s era look for the gala.
Though I love both dresses, the black fringed flapper won the day. I felt like it was the most obvious nod to the decade, whereas the velvet gown could pass for a more contemporary design. Indeed, while the LBD is not an actual vintage piece, the hand-beaded reproduction is spot-on: the iridescent glass embellishments are affixed to a transparent black mesh base that must be worn over a solid slip to avoid a "wardrobe malfunction." 
This was typical of the era...and I was shocked to learn just how heavy such dresses were. Who knew that a knee-length, see-through cocktail dress could weigh nearly 10 pounds! Those thousands of beads are heavy...all the better for burning off dessert on the dance floor at the after-party in the "Speakeasy!" 
I used Hollywood fashion tape to affix it the glass beaded applique to my black cloche, so that I'd be able to remove it at the end of the night and continue to use the hat for everyday wear.
I expected to (and did) see a number of feather-embellished headbands at the gala, but I went with a simple black cloche I wear often. I glammed it up for the occasion, however, with an inexpensive glass beaded applique from Etsy that echoes the elaborate design of the dress. I love how it came together, and I'll be happy to pull it out again should another invitation to a "Gatsby" affair come my way.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hats Off to the Fashion Arts Society

Spring may be struggling to bloom in central Indiana this year, but you'd never know it from my Hats Off ensemble, designed around this one of a kind chapeau from milliner Loreta Corsetti; The fabric flowers on my champagne satin Nina sandals are actually hair clips - a simple, inexpensive, and temporary way to add panache and coordinate a look from head to toe.
"Friends are flowers in the garden of life." I'm not sure who first coined the phrase, but I certainly agree with it, and the friendships I've cultivated through the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Fashion Arts Society are some of the brightest blooms in my garden
Though I've owned it for more than a year, you can still find my floral Julian Taylor dress on Amazon; The fabulous and stylish women flanking me (as well as in the last photo, below) are definitely flowers in my garden of life, and I'm fortunate to count these fellow Fashion Arts Society members among my dear friends.
The Fashion Arts Society is the art museum's fastest growing affiliate group, and its members all share an appreciation for clothing design as art, as well as a commitment to helping the museum grow its significant textile collection.  
I'm all about details - always - and those on this Loreta Corsetti hat are exquisite.
The organization hosts several social and educational opportunities throughout the year, giving its eclectic membership a chance to forge meaningful connections with roots much deeper than a shared passion for fashion. Indeed, though I knew only one other member of the group when I joined, in the past three years I've developed several personal friendships with individuals I'd never have met otherwise.
The fabric floral accents I added to my shoes carry the Spring floral look from head to toe; the handbag is from Charming Charlie
My first introduction to the Fashion Arts Society was through its "Hats Off" luncheon, an event held annually in early May. This year's event, as in past years, did not disappoint. Far more than yet another opportunity to sport a favorite Spring dress and chapeau (though always enjoyed), the well-attended soiree was the perfect opportunity to see old friends and introduce new ones to the organization, all while raising funds to support the museum's acquisition of historic fashions. If you're in Central Indiana and the Fashion Arts Society sounds like an organization you'd like to join, I'd love to introduce you, too!
 Fashion is what you buy: Style is what you do with it!
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Same Chapeaux, Different City

Hat (Loreta Corsetti Couture Millinery); Dress (Byron Lars Beauty Mark; Enza's Boutique); Shoes (Chelsea Crew; Zulilly)
Why, yes, I did just wear this hat to the Kentucky Oaks last weekend in Louisville. But no, I don't feel a bit bad about wearing it again yesterday for the Service Club of Chicago's annual Hat Luncheon. In fact, I was thrilled for the opportunity to style it differently and enjoy the magic of it for the second time in less than a week. Who knew a chapeau so striking could be so versatile?!
The luncheon had a French theme, and the bubbly was chilled and flowing.
I switched out my fit and flare, pale pink jacquard Oaks day dress for a Byron Lars Beauty Mark number in heavily embroidered black and ivory lace. It's a favorite dress from one of my favorite designers (and found at my favorite local boutique, no less). I've worn it many times. Still, it felt brand new paired with the show stopping hat, whose ivory lace inlay echoes the lace that trims the hem of the dress.
My Oaks day ensemble (left, photo by Faith Blackwell Photography), played up the hat's pink flowers, while the ensemble on the right highlights its vintage lace inset.
Interestingly enough, the hat's Chicago-based designer found that striking piece of antique lace at the Midland Art and Antiques Market near downtown Indianapolis. I wish I knew more about its history, but I love that it's found its way back to Indianapolis. Truly, this hat was meant for me.
This was my first attempt at an updo like this, and I was pleased with the result. The inset photo is the low pony I wore on Oaks day with a different brooch that played up the pink.
I also swapped out my Oaks day pink satin shoe laces for ivory organza ribbons, and surprised myself when I managed to secure my hair in an updo accented with a vintage crystal brooch that looked almost professional (on Oaks day I went with a "topsy-tailed" low pony).
Milliner Loreta Corsetti looks divine in a creation of her own design featuring vintage 1960s fabrics, and I was mooning over her Brian Atwood heels.
The luncheon itself was a grand affair for 300 held in the Gold Coast ballroom of Chicago's historic Drake Hotel. It's hard to imagine a more beautiful setting, and I was thrilled that rock star milliner Loreta Corsetti invited me to attend. The ensembles and headwear on display created a visual feast that rivaled the sumptuous meal and crisp bubbly we enjoyed while raising critical funds to further the nearly 130 year old Service Club's philanthropic mission.
Four little (and not so little) Loreta chapeaux all in a row! Her designs are all one of kind.
Loreta's hats were, of course, among my favorites, and there were several of her designs gracing the room, along with those of other contemporary milliners both local and abroad; vintage designs from the likes of Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior; and a few homemade creations.
As if an afternoon sipping champagne for a good cause and forging new friendships wasn't enough, I was surprised and honored to be awarded the best-dressed award! My prize was a private wine-tasting party for twenty friends, so I'm looking forward to a return visit to the Windy City in the near future for a toast with friends both new and old.
Luncheon guests gathered in the iconic Palm Court at The Drake for champagne and conversation before moving into the Gold Coast Ballroom.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Majestic Millinery

I was so excited about this year's Kentucky Oaks hat I had to ask Faith Blackwell to capture a few images that would better show the details than I could manage on my phone's camera. If you're in central Indiana and looking for a great photographer, check out her site! Hat (Loreta Corsetti Couture Millinery); Dress (Adrianna Papell; Nordstrom); Beaded bag (vintage); Shoes (Chelsea Crew; Zulilly)
Last year, when I won the Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest at Churchill Downs, I didn't think I'd ever find a hat I loved more than the one I wore that day... I was wrong.
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
This hat. This hat is enormous. This hat is unconventional. This hat was not what I had in mind for this year's Kentucky Oaks. It wasn't even a shade of pink I typically gravitate toward.
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
...and then, I tried it on. It's not everyone's cup of tea, and not everyone could wear it. It was perfect. It was everything I never knew I was looking for in a Derby hat. It was meant for only me. After donning it, I'd have never been satisfied with another choice.
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
I expect there are people who may find it a bit over the top (or even a lot over the top). Indeed, for most events, it would be too much. But for Churchill Downs on Derby weekend, it was everything. 
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
Not surprisingly, it was designed by Loreta Corsetti, the same milliner who created my pink champagne-themed topper last year. Trained in couture, Loreta creates all of her hats by hand, and all are one of kind works of art. 
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
This one features hundreds of hand sewn crystals that glitter from every angle - it's as interesting to look at from the back and sides as it is from the front. This is important at the racetrack, where so much time is spent looking at the back of people's heads from the grandstands. 
Left and right images by Faith Blackwell Photography
The silhouette, though displaying a gravity-defying modernity and elaborate details, reminded me of the wide brimmed toppers Christian Dior sent down the runway to accompany his New Look in 1947. 
Loreta Corsetti's design (right, image by Faith Blackwell Photography), though more elaborate and angled differently,  reminded me of Christian Dior's iconic "New Look" first introduced in 1947 (images on left).
As such, Dior's iconic designs were the inspiration for the rest of my ensemble, as well. The pale pink jacquard dress is new this season from Nordstrom, but with classic pearls, a vintage handbag, and crochet lace gloves, it definitely recalled my favorite fashion era.
Left and right images depict two of Christian Dior's "New Look" silhouettes; center image by Faith Blackwell Photography
KDef was a gamer for the fashion parade, too, donning grey seersucker; spectators; a newsboy cap; and horseshoe cufflinks to complete his Oaks day "Pink Out" look. 
Oaks day was 73 degrees and sunny all day. Perfect weather for a day at the races!
Perfect hat and "New Look" aside, Oaks day was a winner in every respect, even if I didn't pick the first place filly. Great weather; gorgeous horses; fun fashion; new friends; and a mint julep (or two) make for one fabulous Friday at the races!
 Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Photo by Faith Blackwell Photography
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!