Wednesday, January 18, 2017

E Plaidibus Unum

E pluribus unum. You recognize the ubiquitous slogan printed on the money in your pocket. Translated from Latin, it means, "out of many, one."  
Blackwatch plaid, the particular pattern/color scheme in this dress, originated in Scotland in the 1800s, but its appeal is univeral.
An offical part of the Great Seal of the United States, the phrase is representative of the foundation on which this country was built. We are all in this together, regardless of our different beliefs, backgrounds and circumstances. And, at the end of the day, it is my sincere hope that our common humanity will always unite us.
The vintage1960s hatbox demonstrates the timelessness of classic plaid, still popular today. It never goes out of style.
As challenging as that may be to believe in our current, politically divisive environment, we must remember to focus on those things we have in common, however small. Not to trivailize the challenges ahead, let's take plaid as an example. Surely, we can all agree on plaid. 
Hat (Betmar, Nordstrom Rack); Jacket (Joseph Ribkoff, eBay); Leopard haircalf belt (Ralph Lauren); Pear and crystal statement necklace (Etsy); Dress (British Retro)
Perhaps no pattern has more universal appeal and longevity. Think about it. Hipsters wear plaid. Prepsters wear plaid. Farmers wear plaid. Catholic school kids wear plaid. Babies wear plaid. My Grandpa wears plaid.
Monogrammed shoe clips in blackwatch plaid are uniquely preppy accents (from Etsy) that spice up leopard haircalf Ralph Lauren shoes.
Plaid crosses generational, racial, educational, and economic boundaries. Plaid is timeless. In plaid we trust. All for plaid and plaid for all. E plaidibus unum. 
I've been wearing plaid my whole life, and this dress in particular, styled differently, for three years.
Though it originated in Scotland, plaid is as much an integral part of American culture today as pizza. Or French fries. Note that neither of these originated in the US, either, and yet they are quintessentially American. Because that's who we are. A nation of many, united as one. Wearing plaid.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Patented Style

My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Coy, has always been a source of inspiration when it comes to my own style. My Mom often says I remind her of my Grandma. Like me, she loved to entertain and always paid special attention to even the smallest details of a dinner party or holiday celebration; she had shoes and purses to match every dress; and she loved to get gussied up (usually for an evening at the Moose Lodge). We even shared similar taste in clothes - despite the generation gap, the brown leather jacket she wore in the 1940s is the most treasured item in my closet.
The gold satin throw pillow is actually a clever storage solution that was patented by my grandmother and her sister-in-law in the 1950s. I still find it useful today.
My grandmother was also immensely talented. She sewed; she crocheted; she made intricately detailed and complex jewelry and holiday ornaments. Thankfully, I have a number of her creations that I still use and enjoy today, keeping her with me in spirit though it's been more than 20 years since she passed. And yet, I learned only recently that her skill and creativity were actually patented... In 1955, Grandma and her British ex-pat sister-in-law, Mary, developed the Coy Pak-a-Pillo, for which the two women were issued a United States Patent! 
Confession: my pajamas don't always match the decor, but this satin paisley set is one of my faves. They were a gift from my youngest sister and I've had them for more than a decade.
The Indianapolis Star covered the story on December 14, 1953, reporting on the then patent-pending "gadget which simply is a fancy pillow in which you can fold your pajamas or nightgown and leave on the bed." Their collaboration came about shortly after Mary immigrated to the US and observed that Americans were simply too rushed to put their bed clothes tidily away each morning. Rather, as the Star reported, it was customary to fold them under a pillow when making the bed, "hang [them] on a nail some place or chuck [them] into a drawer. Children, she noticed, preferred tossing [them] on the floor." 
I love the Headline for the Indianapolis Star's coverage of the Coy Pack-a-Pillo on December 14, 1953. My Grandma Coy is on the left and my Great Aunt Mary is on the right.
The Pak-a-Pillo offered a stylish alternative, and "the two Mrs. Coys" hoped it would catch on when people discovered they could simply stuff nightgowns and pajamas into the pillows (no need to fold) and enjoy a decorative accent at the same time. The original was made entirely by hand, but to facilitate mass marketing, they tweaked the design so that it could be machine produced; applied for a patent; and sold production rights to a Chicago firm on a royalty basis.
"Look, Ma, no makeup"... I don't devote much of this blog to beauty and skin-care regimens, but I am a firm believer of taking off makeup before I go to bed. My Grandma Coy always had beautiful skin even as she aged; I hope I inherited that from her.
My Aunt Linda, who recently gifted me with the original patent certificate and related paperwork, remembers going with my Grandma to a meeting about the product, which she describes as eloquently as I might. She recalls: "When I was 11 or 12 years old I went with my mother to a meeting with someone about the patent that Mom and Aunt Mary were applying for. It was for what they called the Pak-a-Pillo. It was a satin bag with a wire and a ruffle at the top that twisted down into a fancy pillow that went on the bed and held night clothes during the day. Mom told the interviewer how handy it was. He turned to me and asked what I thought of it. I told him the truth. I said it was a lot easier to just put my pajamas under the pillow. I suppose I remember it so well all these years later because Mom wasn't very happy about my answer."
It was fascinating to read through all of the paperwork for my grandmother's patent, and I treasure this bit of family history.
I don't disagree with Aunt Linda - it is a bit simpler to just stuff your nightgown under a pillow, but lacks the panache of the Pak-a-Pillo. I've never seen one of the originals, which were sold at boutiques and department stores, but my Mom used the pattern to make me one as a Christmas gift. I don't store my pajamas in it, but I do use it on a chair in my bedroom. It holds hosiery and is far more useful than an ordinary throw pillow. I love it! As for my pjs, I'm ashamed to admit they usually end up on the floor of my closet. Great Aunt Mary would be appalled.
The Pack-a-Pillo that my Mom made for me using the original pattern is one of my favorite Christmas gifts.
For demonstration purposes, however, I recorded a very short video that shows how the Pak-a-Pillow actually transforms from a fancy looking laundry bag into a chic but practical decorative accent. You can see the video here. It may not have made her rich and famous, but I am beyond proud of my grandmother's accomplishments. She will forever be my own personal style icon.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There's no place like home...

The photo above was an of several recent photobombs by an eager 5 month old puppy yet to master the "down,stay" commands. Yet, as I was about to delete it, I was reminded of a recent Wizard of Oz Meme sent to me by a friend that featured the above quote, and it made me smile. 
Boots (Lauren Lorraine)
Welcoming a puppy back into my life has brought me joy every single day. Far more joy, even, than these sparkly boots that called to me from a store window in Vegas over the holidays (which I then ordered online for 1/2 the price!) Not to say that these boots don't bring me joy, too...they really do. I practically giggle every time I look down at my feet.
Hat (Betmar with custom embellishments by yours truly); embroidered soutache jacket (Damee; The Secret Ingredient).
You may see a bit (or a lot) more of fur baby Tim Riggins in the coming months, even if it's just a blur of red fur in the corner of a photograph as he runs by...have I mentioned fast-growing little guy has a lot of energy? So. Much. Energy.
The embroidered soutache detail in red and burgundy adds texture to the sheer mesh fabric of the Damee jacket, but I still added a black tank underneath for modesty.
I'm no Dorothy and the Hoosier Heartland is about as far from Oz as you can get, but I'll take my red boots over the ruby slippers and Tim Riggins over Toto every day of the week. There's just no place like home with my dog after a night out in great shoes!
 Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm linked up with Shoe and Tell!

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year's Revolutions

"I can't wear that - It was already on social media..." Have you heard someone say this? Have you said this? I call bullsh%t on that mindset.
Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, December 2016
When the Style Editor of Indianapolis Monthly magazine called a few months ago asking to feature yours truly wearing party attire in the publication's December "My Look" column, a well meaning friend asked whether I was going to buy something new, the underlying assumption being that I wouldn't want to do the photo shoot in an outfit that had already been seen.

I get it. I really do. The prevalence of social media has imposed a new kind of "wardrobe pressure." But to that idea, I say pshaw. I say bollocks. I say who cares. If you like a dress; if wearing it makes you feel happy, and beautiful, and gives you confidence, why on Earth would you want to relegate it to the back of your closet just because you've already been photographed wearing it? 
Dress (Byron Lars; Enza's Boutique); Hat (Loreta Corsetti Couture); Shoes (A. Testoni; Steinmart)
And let's be honest - you're probably the only one who knows or will recognize you wore the same dress to the office Christmas party that you wore to your cousin Eleanor's wedding in November. If someone does remember, all the better - you've left an impression with your good taste! When friends ask me for advice about what they should wear for an event, I rarely start with "go buy something new." Rather, I start by looking at what they already own and look great in.
"Champagne Bucket" purse (Kate Spade)
A wise and fashionable friend once analogized great clothing to great art - we don't change the paintings on our walls just because our guests saw it the last time they came for dinner. If it's worth wearing, it's worth wearing more than once!
Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jan. 1, 2017
As for that ensemble I wore in Indianapolis Monthly? It's one of my all time favorites. It is a quintessential Red's Shoe Diaries look. Of course it was the right call for the magazine's "My Look" feature. It was also the perfect outfit for ringing in the New Year with Bruno Mars for the 24kt concert in Las Vegas, being that it's covered in 24kt gold accents and all. And yes, I also wore the very same outfit for New Year's Eve 2016. Photos of me at both celebrations showed up in news coverage (Current in Carmel last year; the Las Vegas Review Journal this year). Should I be embarrassed about that? Do I wish I'd worn something else this year in retrospect? Nope. Nope. Nope.
Where's Amy, Current in Carmel, Jan. 2016
If I hadn't just outed myself and told you I wore the same dress for two different New Year's celebrations, would you have remembered? I'm guessing the answer is no, despite the fact that is was on social media and in the press. If you did remember it, it's because it's exactly my style. In fact, I've also worn the same dress (sometimes with the hat, sometimes without; sometimes with the fur stole, sometimes without) to two fundraisers; a wedding; and a masquerade party (that time with a mask).  Whether you did or you didn't remember it, I've had a great time while wearing it. Every. Single. Time...and that's what really matters.
Dress (Bernie Dexter); Hat (Loreta Corsett Couture)
The same can be said for my New Year's Eve 2014 dress, above. It's so much fun to wear this retro dress covered in bubbly that I couldn't resist restyling it for New Year's Day brunch in Vegas... and before that, it was my fashion-contest winning Kentucky Oaks dress. If you love a dress, WEAR THE DRESS!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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