Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Fair Ladies: From Headgear to Hat Head




Jacket: Mossimo, Target
Skirt: XOXO, Macy's
Shoes: Worthington, J. C. Penney's
Bag: Nordstrom
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's

I'm not saying that these felt fashionistas were sporting orthodontic metal messes before I thoughtfully bequeathed them with elegant hats.  That would be silly.  Because they were being at one with my felt pile, an amorphous beast so big that I sometimes wonder if other, smaller beasts make their home in its considerable and cozy folds (I'm talking to you, garter snake).  I'm just saying that it's inspiring when someone or something goes from being icky to it-girl, especially when the it-girl side isn't too cool to reveal a little icky.  Teen nightmare-slash-Eliza-Doolittle-comparisons aside, there's something proper and polished about these pretties, even the tie-dyed hippie grandmas with their you-don't-own-me,-establishment silver tresses.  But as usual, I strive to tone down the pretentious.  Which is why I chucked this post's working title -- My Fair Ladies: A Milliner's Muse.  

I'm excited to finally unveil these brooches, partly because they took so long to finish.  In the spirit of speed (and sanity, photography sometimes being the opposite of therapeutic), I refrained from snapping twenty-seven outfit shots, instead settling on just this one: Tammy and her Amazing Technicolor Meme Coat (the meme being that both fur and felt have a face.  Drop in next week to see what I do with a 1940s muskrat stole!  Not to mention assorted other critters.  That felt pile beast may get its big break yet. . . ).  Making these brooches was truly a pleasure.  I loved mixing colors and patterns, tying everything together with glam cat's eye sunglasses and pouty red lips.  I also got a kick out of naming each lady, choosing just the right two-syllable moniker to portray the kind of flesh-and-blood woman she might represent.  I imagine that shoe company copywriters feel the same when they call pumps and sandals things like Kendall and Kelsey and Kendra.  Laugh if you must, but I've always thought that giving shoes such feminine names is a genius sales technique.  How many orthotic-clad Myrtles have warily picked up a pair of strappy stilettos only to glance at the side of the box and think, "Roxanne, huh?  Screw the ladies' auxiliary banquet, I'm wearing these babies to church!"    

Yes, we salute you, hats, coats, and other assorted outerwear.  As the mercury plummets this winter, we'll need you more than ever.  Not just your toasty if itchy wool, but the panache that you so cleverly ooze even as you camouflage our well-thought-out outfits.  Because if there's anything a clotheshorse hates more than frostbite, it's facing the world bundled up like Aunt Myrtle.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Legends of the Mall: Patch Madams





Top: Modcloth
Jeans: Arizona Jeans, J. C. Penney
Shoes: Christian Siriano for Payless
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Sunglasses: So, Kohl's






Top: Macy's
Skirt: Celebrity Pink, Macy's
Shoes: Payless
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's






Top: Macy's
Skirt: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, DSW
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Sunglasses: J. C. Penney's






Top: City Streets, J. C. Penney's
Skirt: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: Wet Seal
Sunglasses: Claire's






Top: Macy's
Jeans: Mudd, Kohl's
Shoes: Not Rated, Journeys
Bag: Betsey Johnson, Macy's
Sunglasses: So, Kohl's









Dress: Arizona Jeans, J. C. Penney's
Vest: Lisa Frank for XOXO, Macy's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Glamour Damaged, Etsy
Sunglasses: Michaels


This is just the right movie mash-up pun to kick off a post about shopping for fall trends.  (Although it should probably say "mademoiselles" instead of "madams" because all of these clothes came from the juniors department.  Also, because of the whole lady-of-the-night association thing).  The theme of these outfits is patches.  And the mall with it all has got plenty.  It's patches, patches, and more patches, enough to make an overzealous Girl Scout green with envy (no Thin Mint hustling necessary!).  Some are in the old-school collegiate and military designs; others mirror our favorite foods, text shorthand, and emojis.  Stylish and silly, they make us smile, like wearable stickers of the digital age.  Which may seem like a random (albeit whimsical) comment if it weren't for this Lisa Frank vest!  That's right, 1990s design icon Lisa Frank has joined forces with juniors giant XOXO (and also someone named "Doe" that I've never heard of) to create a clothing line as bubblegum bright as the iconic school supplies of the 1990s.  Now, I've never owned a denim vest.  Not even in the 1990s, when it seemed like every girl, tween, and teen was throwing one on over a daisy-print slip dress to watch "90210" and practice Hacky Sack.  But I couldn't help but be drawn to this one.  I don't know if it's the heart, the unicorn, or the fuzzy pink bear hidden by the collar (Who decided to put that there?!  Probably Doe . . .), but I instantly knew that I had to have it.  It has a campiness that just sort of screams mall, boardwalk, or any other nostalgic retail attraction where you can get an Icee and an ice blue pair of jellies (this being a mall-slash-boardwalk located at the intersection of 1989 and 1990).

Browsing the mall is still thrilling.  I purchased every single one of these patchy pieces in department stores mere feet away from hair extension kiosks and combination Cinnabon-Auntie Anne's.  Yep, the mall is a fixture of American culture.  It offers a range of adventures as diverse as its stores, a universal truth immortalized by everyone from Kevin Smith in Mallrats to Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  Which just goes to show that you don't need to buy anything at all to make your trip memorable -- although I'll admit that bringing home a souvenir helps to elevate the experience.  Board game creators of the 1990s seemed to know this, too.  When we were kids, my sister had two such games: Mall Madness and Meet Me at the Mall.  Meet Me at the Mall was more realistic because it featured real stores like Casual Corner and Nine West (hey, this was the 1990s), but Mall Madness was more fun because it had two levels and talked (Attention shoppers, secret sale at Perfume Palace!  I repeat, secret sale at Perfume Palace!).  Still, both were pretty rad, and not just because their names showcase the alliteration that I so love.  Ten-year-old me, by the way, had one of those grow your own crystal kits.  Despite my best efforts (and craving for sparklies), it never yielded anything except sad, stunted piles of lurid green powder, a sure sign that I was right in abandoning science for making accessories.

Which brings us to this fresh influx of Flash Charms.  It's no secret that I find these quirky little pieces of plastic addictive.  Like shopping.  And collecting folders emblazoned with kittens eating lollipops and sliding down rainbows.  

Who am I kidding?  My favorite part of that vest is clearly the unicorn.          

Monday, November 7, 2016

Puff Piece: Pompom Wonderful






 Big Pink Pompom Bow Barrette

Top: Kohl's
Dress (skirt): Modcloth
Shoes: Guess, DSW
Bag: Marshalls
Belt: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's







Top: Macy's
Pants: Xhilaration, Target
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Marshalls
Bag: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: Michaels







Top: Kohl's
Skirt: Eric and Lani, Macy's
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bags: Charming Charlie
Belt: B Fabulous
Sunglasses: Rampage, Boscov's







Maroon top: Kohl's
Pink top: Macy's
Skirt: Forever 21
Shoes: Alloy
Bag: Nine West, Marshalls
Belt: B Fabulous

Pompoms are big this season.  Pop into any department store, boutique, or craft supply mecca, and you'll see them exploding from keychains, purse charms, and hair accessories.  Most are in fall or spring colors.  Think tans, maroons, creams, pinks, lilacs, and mints -- basically anything that reminds you of a chocolate with a gooey soft center (and not, incidentally, the healthy fruit juice for which this post is named).  Also, they're usually oversized, guaranteeing that their big, plush selves are the first things you notice when their wearers walk into the room.

I, of course, love the trend, although I've yet to purchase any pompoms of my own.  So in the meantime, I embellished these bows.  Fanciful and fun, they're reminiscent of other fluffy stuff, like clouds and cheeseballs and most of Louisa Clark's outfits in Me Before You.  Okay, so maybe that wasn't the most subtle of segues.  But in the world of pompoms, subtlety gets you sidelined.  



Although I've blogged about Me Before You before, I'll do a quick recap.  Funky fashionista Louisa lands a much-needed job as the caretaker of Will Traynor, a once unstoppable captain of industry who suffers an accident that leaves him wheelchair-bound.  Will's family owns a castle (this being England), setting the stage for the whole royalty-servant thing that inevitably unravels.  After the proverbial rocky start, Louisa and Will become friends, each teaching the other to come out of his/her shell.  Friendship ripens into love, turning things around for both -- until Will decides to end his life, leaving Louisa bereft and heartbroken.  Last summer, the movie version hit theaters.  I was unexpectedly surprised to find that Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin looked and acted almost exactly like the characters in the novel.  I don't have to tell you how rare this is.  How many times have you read a great book only to see the movie and think, "That's not how he/she sounds/looks/acts/balances a cheesecake on his/her head."  The movie plot also does the novel justice, as it's nearly identical save for a sliver of Louisa's backstory that was cut out, I can only imagine, in the interest of time.

So, when I learned that author JoJo Moyes had written a sequel, After You, I was filled with anticipation and dread.  On the one hand, I wanted to accompany Lou on more adventures.  On the other, I was concerned that her inevitable acceptance of Will's death would only annoy me, cheapening the bond that was so beautifully illustrated between them in Me Before You.  After all, that book seemed like one of those Wuthering Heights/Bridges of Madison County type love stories that should burn on in memory but never, ever be revisited.  (I'd include Love Story in this list if it weren't for the blasphemous Oliver's Story, which I have not, to this day, been able to read).  As it turns out, I needn't have worried.  As Moyes herself hints in the Reader's Discussion at the back of the book, After You isn't really a romance.  It's a story of growth and self discovery.  In other words, the very things that many consider to be the antithesis of the white knight genre.

After You begins with Louisa in a very dark place.  I won't give away too much (feeling a modicum of responsibility to the anti-spoiler alert gods).  I'll just say that she meets a hunky yet sensitive EMT and that they have a real "Gift of the Magi" thing going, only with much more at stake than hair and pocket watches.  Louisa muddles through the minefield of this new relationship as well as Clark family drama, the indignities of her job as an Irish barmaid, and a surprise from Will's past.  It's enough to make anyone run to a support group (which Louisa does, albeit reluctantly).  I've read a lot of novels penned on the other side of the pond and have come to this conclusion: Brits are equal parts charming and dreary.  It's a mix that's strangely compelling, an elixir of introspection and snark tied up in pretty ribbons that always speaks to me.  Ensconced at the crossroads of throwback and modern, this one isn't just a cozy yet class-driven drama; it's an account of one woman's attempt to find her place in the world.    

There's bound to be a follow-up installment (JoJo hints so herself!), rounding out this beloved duo into a trilogy.  I hope that Louisa finally gets to work in fashion, a long-deferred dream that appears as a strong yet unexplored undercurrent coursing below the more dramatic plot lines in the first two stories.  I think there's a chance that she might, especially because After You ends with her shifting her focus from taking care of others to taking care of herself.  Never mind that her (and I'm breaking my spoiler alert rule here, so all persnickety and/or fainthearted readers, please avert your eyes) opportunity of a lifetime comes in the form of yet another caretaker job with an affluent family.  In a way, though, I think this is a fitting setup for a finale, a kind of bookend, throw-your-beret-into-the-air sendoff into Louisa's future.  That said, at the end of After You, Lou's relationship with Sam seems uncertain.  But it's a good, romantic un-romance novel kind of uncertain.  For, as Entertainment Weekly sagely tells us, "After You may not be the sequel you expect, but it is the sequel you needed." 

I think that deserves a pair of pompom-adorned socks, don't you?