Saturday, March 31, 2012

colorphile challenged!

Ah, dress inspirations- the main reason to get up in the morning, and particularly fun when it`s associated with a movie.  A few weeks ago, I finally watched Hugo.  I thought the art design was beautiful, though overall there was something just a little over-crafted and orchestrated that made the film less emotionally satisfying.  Perhaps it's because earlier Parisian fairytales like Amélie Poulain and La Cité des Enfants Perdus felt more sprawlingly fun and authentic (okay, yes these are both the same director, but whatever).  I think it`s about time I rewatched Cité again actually- it`s awesome!  I already went through a huge street-urchin/striped shirt/sailor-style spree upon watching it in the mid-90s (did I mention costumes by Gaultier...) so this time I was ready for a new look.

I loved Emily Mortimer's flower seller character and thought it was the perfect occasion to try out a cute polka-dot Anne Taylor cardigan set that I found recently.  I used to wear a lot of brown, and it sets off bright jewel tones really well. I love the contrast of her yellow blouse against the knit print, and a floppy bow is always fun.  I totally wish I had this gorgeous darn green skirt though!

thrifted Ann Taylor sweater set, J Crew Lucinda blouse, thrifted knit skirt and silk scarf, brown Indigo lace-ups
Oh, and while we're on the topic, that colour whiz Molly over at Anthromollogies hosted another awesome colorphile challenge a few weeks ago here and here and I was totally inspired by the work of Twig Hutchinson she had featured on the blog here.  I'm a sucker for seafoam green, and couldn't resist the combination with drapey mustard silk (obviously this blouse is proving it's worth!).
thrifted tasseled cardigan and wool skirt, J Crew Lucinda blouse, Anthropologie Fanfare platforms

Friday, March 30, 2012

smiley face...?

delightful Victorian sneer, from Darwin's study The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
Argh.  This has been a pretty frustrating work week.  On Wednesday, a colleague asked me how I stay so zen in the face of the chaos.  I claimed it was the only way to stay sane, to just do what you can do and try not to stress the rest.  Ha!  By the end of the day, this beatific blogger was swearing under her breath and ready to throw and kick stuffs! 
angry muppet.  sigh. 
When I finally got home I thought I would post something about the smiley faces we pose to the world, as if everything is AWESOME and we totally have it ALL under control.  I took a couple of outfit shots, and then proceeded to make a ton of the kinds of snarling, frowny faces that I really wanted to project.

That actually cheered me up immensely!  Until I accidentally deleted it ALL from my memory card.... Argh.

Anyway, I've discovered through this process that I don't quite have the requisite icy death stare of authority.  In fact, I pretty much have two modes, neither very impressive: moppet or muppet!  Oh well.  Smiles are effective too. :)

This is what I wore today.  There's nothing like a double-dot day to make things feel better!  And if YOU have something to vent, the lovely Lisa over at Respect the Shoes has instituted a little happy hour girls-gone-cranky venting session.  Hear, hear.  Yeesh, you'd think I would have mastered the snarling librarian look by now!

Anthropologie Polka Peppered skirt, thrifted J Crew polka-dot sweater, rust tights and ochre scarf, indigo Indigo pumps

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a summer interlude and faulting the best-laid plans...

Last week was so spectacularly beautiful- the winter chill literally melted away under successive days of sunny skies and summer temperatures.  It was so hot that when I had to go to Toronto for a very quick business trip I had no choice but to rustle up some summer dresses for the occasion.  There is nothing quite like a vintage gingham sundress- crisp and cool!  The delicately-patterned silk scarf is the result of a fun online swap this summer (thanks again, Dorothy!) and has come in handy as my lavender fetish grows.
Vintage gingham sundress and silk scarf, J Crew cardigan, F21 aqua belt, Aldo flats
One of the things I love about this dress is the gorgeous dip in the back (that and it fit perfectly with no tailoring- very rare!)
Now, here's where the best laid plans come in- the purpose of the trip was to help run a book launch.  I wanted something appropriate to the weather, and darker-coloured for evening, perhaps less girly than a full skirt.  I love mixing this column dress with yellow, and threw in a striped ochre scarf to balance out the light-coloured cardigan.  I felt pretty good until someone leaned in and asked me if I'd done it on purpose...what?
Anthropologie Layered Column dress, Zara cardigan, vintage silk scarf, Kenneth Cole wedges
Oh, just dressed the exact colour of the books spread all around me...sigh...
oh, and those summer skies?  Gone, gone, gone...I'm back to tights and shivers!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

'making do'...

J Crew Snap Stripe tee and Liquid Silk skirt, yellow silk scarf and indigo Indigo shoes
 It's funny how things happen- I was so sure that this spring I was in for another round of seafoam green/mint obsession, (you know, throw in a little rust and maybe a soupçon of pink) but then I got blindsided by a bevy of fresh new tones.  Argh.  I have been totally into the bright, near-neon yellow that's been infiltrating pretty much everything this spring.  It's just so vivid and fun and...and  oh I thought I would be smart and pick one item to satisfy the need. 
 J Crew Colorblock stripe boatneck
Yes- classic stripes with a bit of fun thrown in!  But then a lot of other items kinda already infiltrated my closet this month and I kinda had to let go of that idea.  Plus this thing sold out at full price last week, so I couldn't even try and grab it with the free shipping this past weekend.  sigh.  maybe it will pop back on sale some day.

Anyway, I figured in the meantime I should have fun with what I've already got, which is, um, countless nice striped tops, and a great citron yellow silk scarf. Oh right, and a ton of navy blue- I don't know how it happened but somehow in the last few months I've accumulated multiple navy dresses and accessories.  weird  And navy just looks awesome with an intense nigh-neon yellow.  love.

So, am I just succumbing to the fashion industry's whims, or am I maybe avant-garde? Because I'm pretty sure that this is the garment that started it all for me this Christmas.  A neon running jacket, to counteract my habitual sloppy ninja blacks...
Not the same jacket, but oh yes, definitely the colour!
 (and my other new colour is lavender...except I haven't got any...yet...working on thrifting over consumption on that one!) 

Monday, March 12, 2012

and yes there were kittens in tutus on my cake...

Natalia Matsak, Ukrainian National Ballet
My mom made my sister and I take ballet lessons for years as young children.  At the time, I liked the themed performances we put on every season (hey, costumes!) but I hated the drudgery of weekly classes where I was uncoordinated and unfocused, though of course I appreciate it now.  A couple of years ago I started following a contemporary dance class for beginners- I loved it but found that even though the will was there I was still uncoordinated and unfocused!  Anyway, another wonderful thing my mom did was take us out to see the yearly touring ballet companies as they put on all the classics- Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia- and that I absolutely adored!  I would study the stories beforehand and was entranced by the costumes and choreography.

When my birthday was coming around this year I noted that a company was bringing Swan Lake to town and realized it's also been over 20 years since the last time I've been to a ballet (darn those advancing birthdays....) Now, that's kinda the mothership of tutu and tulle extravaganzas, and so I asked the family to send the manfriend and I to the ballet as a gift. He scored some great seats, and we toddled off on Friday, dressed all nice and such.
Anthropologie Rodna dress, J Crew cashmere cardigan, vintage tassel necklace, Indigo pumps
apparently I dressed to coordinate with the decor!
It wasn't the most extravagant production, one that unfortunately opted for a happy ending to the story (I mean, come on, the swan's gotta die at the end or it ain't the ballet!) but the dancer incarnating the swan queen was absolutely light and ethereal and inhuman (she's the one pictured here), and my favorite parts are the large flock of swan maidens dancing in unison.  Now I just want more! 

I was happy I ended up wearing the Rodna dress since the first act of the ballet features a similar cut bodice and skirt on the dancers- I felt right at home.  There was also one dress just right for Anthropologie- a heavy cream lace skirt similar to the Spinning Lace Dress with a dark honey-coloured velvet bodice.  I would buy that! This was also a good outing for the Oxidized Ruffle coat I picked up in the fall- the cut is just right for wearing with a full skirt, and as the coat is really not very warm it was appropriate since I didn't have to be outside much!  Um, definitely a very matchy-matchy outfit with the rust tights and navy shoes, but it felt kinda Edwardian that way, like a whole set.

Ah, and just because it's so awesome, here is the pas de quatre performed by American Ballet Theatre.  This one just puts a smile on my face- they're like little kids, but with intense skillz.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

marni 'n me...

So I headed out way too early this morning to meet up with my friend (cough) Marni.  It was actually pretty tame an experience, but the '10 minutes in the cage' allowance for picking up your selections was a bit short and frenzied.  Inevitably I found myself in the dressing room with all the wrong sizes- I sized up when I didn't need to and down when I shouldn't have (thankfully I got another chance as the line cleared out).  Some of the pieces I had been anticipating were a turn-off in real life for fabrics and cut (oh such sadness that the navy two-tone patterned pieces are just weird, in a stiff oversized cotton!  maybe I can get 'em on super liquidation one day and have some fun) but oh such lovely, lovely prints and silks!!

I found the floral necklace that I HAD to have, and I love,love, love it so.  They 'misplaced' it when I went to try the clothing on and I'm afraid I may have channelled a wee bit of my mom's death stare until someone ran off to find me another!  I wore it all day today, and it is quite possibly the best accent piece ever!  I was quite conflicted over some of the dresses though- the silk has a lovely liquid quality, and the prints are gorgeous, but the cuts are unusual, and the oversized tags are so heavy that it's hard to get a faithful idea of how the fabric hangs!  I decided last night that I suddenly couldn't live without this green and purple pattern/colour combination, but I wasn't sure how to make it work on me.  Turns out a belt, a fantastic necklace and pushing the sleeves up so they billow slightly balances out all the shapes.  It feels great, and the print mix just tickles!
The problem was that these pieces are all rather pricey (especially for Canadians) and so I felt like I absolutely had to keep it to 3 items.  Except then I couldn't decide between the drapey gorgeous pyjama top (a must) and the brown silk chevron shift with tie neck (also absolutely my favorite print/colour combination).  I decided to bring them all home and decide later.
I've wanted a nice silk pyjama top to wear as a blouse for years- and this print is a doozy!!  Throw it on with a classy pencil skirt and it looks like you just rolled out of a most elegant bed and went straight to work...(heh...yes, I was up at 5 this morning, and the hair was looking pretty rough by the end of the day...)
And I was so sure all day that this chevron dress would be the one to go back, since it's a bit big on top and somewhat shapeless.   and then I made the mistake of pairing it with a green sweater and belt (inspired by Anjali's outfit here) and gee, now I really, really love it!  The dithering continues. This will be a great light summer dress- it's so cute with just a little skinny belt and coloured accessories!  The oversized part is super easy to take in too...sigh.  I fear I have been very bad.  I don't think I can go shopping with Marni anymore- she's a bad influence :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

colours courtesy of...

Oh, I am very susceptible to suggestion (suggestible!)- a catalogue shot here, movie character there...a combination of colours and textures can become an instant obsession, though generally just a fortuitous inspiration. The monthly J Crew catalogue is usually a good source for new colour deviations (deviancy?).  I mean, I consider myself pretty handy with the colour orange and know a lot of goodly things to pair it with.  However the March J Crew catalogue threw a new magical combo my way- lavender and orange! (I haven't ventured into the leopard zone yet, but I do like this elegant yet somehow relaxed outfit)

Right away, I knew there was not enough lavender in the wardrobe to have a lot of fun with this, but just enough to be able to put it in action right away:

J Crew vibrant flame pencil skirt, striped top and rust tights, Le Chateau floral silk scarf and Indigo lace-ups
I suppose it helps when many of your colour elements all come from J Crew in the first place (darn them and their wizard stylings!)  The lavender cardigan is made of the softest, thinnest wool- it's from the lovely UK brand Whistles, but was found at the equally lovely Brooklyn vintage shop/warehouse Beacon's Closet (oh, those racks and racks of tops arranged by colour!)  Incidentally, the last time I visited there with a friend she almost mistook this short-haired mannequin for me (my hair never looks that sleek)!

So I must have been in some kind of extreme-vibrancy-zone this past week because all I can think of is finding more blinding colours to counteract the dull slushy grey of March in the city. I mean, it is soooooo slushy and sooooo grey- I haven't seen colour outside in months!  Maybe that's why we get that last gasp of riotous colour in the fall before the leaves fall- it's an act of mercy.  However perhaps getting dressed in the dark is the culprit- I just reach for whatever is glowing!

Anthropologie Gathering tank,Cockatoo Kaleidoscope skirt and Fanfare platforms, with J Crew cashmere cardigan (in "golden chartreuse"- is there any more beautiful colour name?)
Are you, like me, becoming absolutely colour obsessed, as spring catalogues and magazines taunt us with soft neons and playful prints?