Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dear Mrs. Eccentric: Can I be your Case Study?

Susan Olding models a perfect casual look
  I've been active on the You Look Fab Forum for a while now, as many of you are - Gracey, it was a treat to see your thousand watt smile as a little avatar there yesterday! A while back forum member and professional writer Suz asked for my help in pinpointing/refining her style. This case was unusual for me and a first - Suz had no photo, just a verbal description of her memories of a couple of favorite outfits from years past:

"Outfit One: perfect fitting jeans (a true rarity, back then!), short houndstooth jacket (rather large houndstooth, not tiny), low heeled black ankle boots, black turtleneck, statement earrings. (Note: I had short hair.)
Outfit Two: A heavy silk two piece dress. Sleeveless (or maybe cap sleeve?) boat neck tunic on top, with a lightly gathered but slim midi skirt, in a soft blue grey.
Associations to Outfit One: clean, classic, mod (the boots, the turtleneck), androgynous, simple, (touch of) bold (jacket, earrings), textured (jacket), structure (jacket).
It’s a “dressy casual” formula look as per Angie; you would think it would be easy to duplicate it again and again. (Yet I have struggled over the years to do so).
Associations to Outfit Two: clean, elegant, simple, soft, understated, classic, drape.
WHY did I love outfit one? I felt free, as if I could move around easily and fit effortlessly into almost any environment. Despite being dressed very classically, it somehow felt as if it had a bit of an edge—perhaps because some of those pieces were quite current at the time.
WHY did I love outfit 2? Primarily drape of fabric, texture, simplicity, and colour.
Additional note: I believe my short hair added a tiny bit of "edge" to the dressy look of the silk outfit, despite its otherwise completely classic style."

Needless to say i was thrilled to be asked. It took me a while to come up with some insight as to what Suz seemed to be saying with these looks and how she could use them to go forward. But the penny did eventually drop - you can read my analysis below.

I've included a few pictures of Suz and some of her recent WIWs. Partly of course you're curious as to what she looks like - completely adorable! As all these looks pre-date my analysis, you can see she didn't really need to hear what i had to say. Student outstrips teacher as she explodes the 'recipe' to wear a jacket as a 'classic base' piece and wear a sweater, scarf, or skirt as her 'artistic statement' focus. Suz is starting from ground zero here, as well - she recently lost a great deal of weight, enough to require a complete wardrobe overhaul.  She's had no interest in style or fashion for the last decade or so, either. Suz shows how much you can do in a little time with smarts and determination!

My analysis follows. I hope you find it interesting!!!!

Susan Olding at Writer's Fest
It's not that exciting of a name, but 'artistic professional' is a great start as a style statement. Evaluating your two favorite looks it seems that the bulk or base of the look is made up of classic/professional type pieces of elements, with 'artistic' elements on top, as the 'frosting on the cake'. This is a great approach for you to take regarding your professional life, as the professional elements reassure your audience that you are reliable, stable, competent, etc., while the artistic flair reflects your role as a writer and the more fluid nature of your professional duties.

In these two looks i see the classic/professional elements as: emphasis on perfect fit and proportions, quality fabrications, attention to grooming (great, well-maintained hair), neutral & subdued colors, simplicity of color palette/texture/pattern/details.  The artistic elements would be the statement earrings, 'edgy' hairstyle, heeled ankle boots (the love of my life), and the bold jacket (larger graphic pattern).

Both outfits provide the 'pulled together' effect of a suit without actually being a suit. This, again, fits perfectly with your style statement - professional yet artistic. You acknowledge the usefulness and appropriateness of a suit, but prefer to 'create' your own rather than wear another's creation. But for quite a while i was a bit flummoxed as to how this provided any key to generating further outfits or new directions for your personal style. The obvious places to go would be two-piece dresses and wearing turtlenecks and jeans with jackets and ankle boots. But that's boring and overly formulaic.

Susan Olding models straight-up artistic style

Then I remembered a concept I ran across in Jennifer Robin's book Growing More Beautiful: An Artful Approach to Personal Style. She recommends adding a 'third layer' to outfits in order to create a more finished 'look'. So, to a tee and jeans, add a cardigan or jacket or a scarf or even statement necklace or earrings.  This third item can either tie the two pieces together (a print scarf which contains the two colors present in the tee and jeans) or provide the focal point for the look (your houndstooth jacket). Aha! The lightbulb turned on!

The underlying pattern or 'formula' you could work with goes like this. You are looking to create 'made up suits' (that's what i've called them for years, don't know why!) with this recipe: take two classic basics in quality fabric with perfect fit.  And add an artistic 'third layer'. Season to taste with wonderful, edgy, artistic shoes, jewelry, and scarves.

What does this look like?  Using your turtleneck and jeans from outfit one, you could add: a lighter colored faux fur vest, studded leather belt worn in the jean belt loops or over the vest, camel ankle boots and bold gold hoop earrings.  Or, using the same 'base', go with a cropped silver jacket like Angie's with black patent higher spike heel booties and a chunky, multi-strand pearl necklace.

To vary your base, you could swap out the jeans for a knee-length, denim straight skirt while keeping the black turtleneck.  Jumble a big silk scarf in autumn colors around your neck and pull on a pair of cognac tall boots. For a change to this look, simply swap the turtleneck for a white button down skirt for a brighter look.

If you wanted to pursue this type of dressing, here's some guidelines on pieces to look for.  First, 'base pieces': for tops, try tees, button down shirts, turtlenecks, simple blouses, shells, cardigans. For bottoms: jeans, trouser jeans, trousers, denim skirts, straight and a-line skirts should all work well. For your 'base' pieces the important points will be to really pay attention to fit, proportion, quality fabric and construction. Pieces that overwhelm your frame or come across as shoddy will undermine the 'professional' aspect of your style.

Then, you will want pieces that can 'carry a look'.  These articles will convey the 'artistic' part of your style message. Jackets, vests, scarves, this category you again need to pay attention to fit and proportion so that you are not overshadowed by your clothing. A helpful technique is to compare the scale of pattern and detail elements to part of your body. When looking at a paisley blouse, for example, any patterns where the 'paisley's are bigger than the palm of your hand will likely overwhelm. If you're considering a polka dot scarf, one where the dots are about as big as your eyes will bring them out - larger and the scale could look too big for your body. If you're interested in this concept, and it could be very useful to you as a person of smaller frame, it is covered in depth in The Triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor. Again, quality fabric and construction are always worthwhile, though in this category i feel you can have a little fun as long as your base pieces are great. People expect artists to get a little creative, after all ; )

photo, stylist, model: Susan Olding
 In order to get some focus to this part of your wardrobe, creating an inspiration file of some kind will be very helpful. You want to hone in on the color palette you prefer and which flatters you, as well as the type of silhouettes, textures, patterns, and design details that you love. It's especially wonderful (and time-saving) when you can find designers or stores that provide pieces that work for you (basic and artistic), so keep an eye out for them.  And as fun as collecting inspiration can be, do not neglect getting out there and trying things on - a BUNCH of things!  It's very trixie to envision how clothing will look on us before we try it on, even more so when we're out of practice.

It is also important to keep in mind the 'background' which your base pieces will be providing when choosing your statement pieces. Angie's great silver jacket is the star when paired with a black turtle and jeans. But tossed over this concoction of complete sequin bombardment, it would quickly pale.  If you are providing a quiet background, quieter pieces will shine. This also allows you to create looks which rely on a great accessory to provide the focus. I welcome this approach on casual occasions or when it's very hot. A great fitting white tee and denim skirt can spark when paired with a silver alligator belt, big gunmetal pearl studs, and pewter metallic gladiator sandals. In a look like this, the accessories provide the 'third layer'. 

As a rule, when you allow accessories alone to provide the third layer the outfit will come across as very casual. On the other end of the casual/formal spectrum are structured jackets. Jackets also have professional, authoritarian connotations. So when you use them as the third layer the outfit becomes more professional and formal. A cardigan is less structured, and so less formal. By playing with the casual-formal balance created by your third layer, you can go show up at the great majority of your life without worrying about varying your 'base' all that much (unless you want to!) Having and using a 'recipe' like this for your dress also helps create your own unique personal style.

Others are much better at coming up with catchy, descriptive 'style statements'. But i hope this is clear and helps you with your style journey!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Siren Song Of The Bob

Well, between my last post and this writing i trimmed my hair back to a much more flattering look. Whew, that's better!  Today i'm posting a couple of looks that show how i was looking while experimenting with growing a short bob. This compulsion to attempt an above-shoulder bob knocks me sideways periodically. In theory it sounds so wonderful - and a great change, as i've never worn it before.  Whenever i 'try on' a bob, be it a wig or a sketch on a photo, it looks fresh, flattering, breezy.......

But the sad truth is that any bob sculpted of the hair actually growing out of my head is less successful. This first look gives you a feel for it (this was a 'good' hair day). Kinda fun, kinda zany, kinda like every other middle aged lady in Berkeley with kooky glasses and statement earrings.

 But there are plenty of days when this hair.....just wants to do it's own thing. Over the decades i've found it's best to honor this head of hair's wishes, as trust me it will have it's way. Days when it looks like it does in these pattern mixing pictures. The hair itself looks fine, i suppose, but the overall 'do ain't doing much for my looks. And forget about this hair adding any style.  At best, i feel this iteration of my hair doesn't detract too much from the look. At worst, it is ...... messy and unflattering.

Which is not what i want from a hairdo! When i cut my hair short a few months ago, i loved it. But the shape was very similar to the way i'd worn my hair through my twenties, which felt a little weird. And i have been very experimental, hair-wise, through the years. I started thinking it would be fun to have 'more' hair, the bob is a classic, the mock-up bobs look so i let my hair grow out some, and it started to take on a bobbish shape.

Now i will demonstrate to you the brilliance of taking a bunch of narcissistic outfit pictures. This post didn't happen until a month after i'd taken the pictures, and i couldn't help but notice how great my hair looked compared to what i was seeing in the mirror. Then, i decided on a whim to take a little video. In order to upload it, i had to look up my YouTube account - man, my hair looked awesome in the Outfit Checklist video! It even has a wee whiff of 1950's movie star about it. What the he77 was i thinking?

I am a woman of action. Snippety snip, i cropped my hair short again. Taking photos of yourself day after day, for months, nay years on end, may well be narcissistic. But if it keeps me having fabulous hair, bring on the personality disorder!

re: the outfits. I got a couple of unsolicited compliments on the pattern mix of the second look. They were especially nice to hear as they were from people who like clothes but aren't really 'into fashion'. I continue to notice how a wardrobe just 'falls into place' when you focus on pieces that flatter your own physical aesthetic and which express your own personal style. The Liz Claiborne dress is getting close to ten years old, while the Pleione blouse is fresh off the racks. Different designers, different eras - but both 'go' with my coloring, build, lines, scale. Thus, they 'go' with each other. It's a situation straight out of the theories found in The Triumph of Individual Style. Don't let the steep price of a newer book put you off - older copies are much more affordable and the information is just as good. And there's always the library!

Jacket: CAbi, thrifted
Blouse: Europa Blouse by LaFred, made by me
Skirt: own design, inspired by Hot Patterns Slouchy Fly Front Skirt
Shoes: Clark's

Dress: Liz Claiborne
Blouse: Pleione
Belt: DKNY, thrifted
Sandals: Aerosoles
Jewelry: own design

Monday, October 24, 2011

Style Blogger Confidential!

 I've noticed over my time as a reader and author of style blogs that there's a nice little controversy over 'how to get the most truthful picture' of an outfit. Should you 'pose' or not, what about camera angles, showing your face, etc. Most people who hold very strong opinions in this discussion seem to feel this way because of two ideas. The first is that they want accurate 'feedback' (from other's eyes or their own) on how the outfits looks. Does it flatter their physical form? In order to accurately judge you need to have an accurate image to work with. They feel that exaggerated poses, cropping part of the body, etc. will distort the image. The second idea seems to be that it is possible to get an 'accurate' image of how all outfits look on all bodies via still photos. This second idea appears to be related to a belief that it's important to be 'honest' when presenting your physical image in a photo.

Some of these beliefs are moral or philosophical positions (that you should present an honest image of yourself in photos) and some are practically provable (the camera never lies). Cameras 'see' objects in their own particular way. They record some things and not others and thus are constantly editing. We've all had the experience of certain colors looking very very different in a photograph than in real life. As it turns out, cameras are performing similar but more subtle distortions on all the objects in our world.

This does not mean that photos can't be wonderful tools for evaluating aspects of our appearance. I think they are a god send! But my personal belief is that it's important to keep in mind that cameras and photos are one tool among many - mirrors, friends, video. Seeing as we can't view each other in real life to judge our various 'OOTD' pix against the outfits in real life, i thought i'd post a video for you to compare to some stills of the same look.

 To help you understand what i'm talking about, i'll tell you what i did. I used my regular little camera to take a few run of the mill still photos. Then, i took two video clips using the same camera in the same position.  Finally i switched back to still photo and took some detail pix.  This camera isn't a video-alone cam, so the sound is weird (i've no clue why the sound of the radio goes up and down) and the re-focus as i move toward and away from the camere isn't lickety-split.  I did not download the biggest file possible to YouTube, so a bit of clarity is lost.  But not enough to influence what i'll point out to you next.

Compared to the still camera pix, the video downplays the pearl necklace and plays up the waist. Looking at the still photos I'd be tempted to call this a 'waist-surrendering' look. But when i'm on the move, the top moves as well and showcases the waist. The earrings and chain belt move a lot in real life and the video catches this (of course the still camera cannot - unless i really slowed down the shutter so these items blurred). Also, the video captures the glasses sliding down my nose, me pushing them up, me making faces, radio continually on in the background.

Is one of the media 'more accurate' than the other? I can't say. Probably both together give a better feel of how this outfit looks on me. I will also note that other types of clothing (very floaty fabrics for example) will 'look' much more different in still photos than they do in real life. I hope this post gives you a little more insight as to how you can use different techniques to evaluate your own looks. Also, maybe it gives you a feel for all the information you might be missing when you only have a single still picture by which to evaluate an outfit.

re: my hair. i've been growing it out a bit, thinking about trying an a-line bob.....but after seeing pix and video from my earlier, shorter look i'm cancelling the bob (which has never worked in the past) and going straight back to my earlier, much more glam look STAT!!!

Top: Cubism
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Skirt, necklace, earrings: own design
Sandals: Aerosoles

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes......

Or, "Why I Stink At This Style Blogging Thing".

Of a Saturday Mr. E and i ended up in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley, as is so often the case. We'd been bopping around town a wee bit when Mr. E realized that he needed to get to the pharmacy - back home in Pleasant Hill - before it closed in an hour. However, we had not completed our Berkeley hanging out.....i suggested he run back home, transact his business, and meet me back at the cafe at 6:30pm for more knocking about.

Pookies like people-watching, too.
Let's see, an hour and a half to myself in a darling little neighborhood commercial zone. What to do, what to do.......I know! I'll go clothes shopping! First i stopped by Jeremy's, a Bay Area institution reknowned for it's designer bargains. They seem to achieve these incredible deals through buying a lot of samples which are dreadfully abused and misused in photo shoots, runway shows, satanic sacrifices maybe. Fabric tears (not seams, fabric), makeup and lipstick stains smack in the center of a bodice - this on items selling for $70-150 or more. Many ladies swear by the bargains they find there. Sadly, all i run across is frustration. Jeremy's requires bigger shopping cajones than this girl possesses.

Sheila will be pleased to know that Jeremy's featured a saggy boob bag!
I then strolled into Krasa. Krasa's motto is 'Get DRESSed' or, as the charming owner Elena expresses it, "Everybody in dresses!" Krasa carries every type of dress a modern woman might need - sundresses, office dresses, cocktail dresses, bridal shower dresses, clubbing dresses - all at excellent price points (generally $35-200). Krasa also carries a vast selection of unique leg wear, perfect for the starving student wanting to spark up the Saturday night outfit for a smaller cash outlay.

I fell for the gorgeous olive floral-burst Nine West dress right off the bat. Be still my heart! I tried it on and Elena graciously took my picture. Elena next suggested a coral and magenta dress (picture below), which looked smashing as well. Well, the clock was ticking and my pumpkin was approaching. I left to go meet up with Mr. E. I handed over the camera as we snacked at a sidewalk cafe.  He took one glance and said, "Let's go get this green one as soon as we finish eating."

 We then spent a lovely half hour as my stylish swain picked out a few more items for consideration. In the end, i only (only!) bought the 'olive cocktail' dress. But i plan to pop into Krasa on a regular basis from now on, and i urge anyone in the area to do so as well. Elena is passionate in her desire to revive dress wearing - in Berkeley, the belly of the Birkenstock-wearing beast. If anyone can pull it off, she can! Beautiful, practical, well-made, flattering and lifestyle appropriate dresses at very attractive price points. That's my definition of a smart business that deserves our patronage.

This dress is very happy in it's new home.
So, how does this post demonstrate my blogging failings? "of a Saturday" was a month ago! Everyone knows that internet readers want new content, they want it fast, and they want it now!!! What blogger in her right mind lets this type of material sit around on the hard drive that long??!?!  Take a real hard look at your monitor, dear reader, squint a bit and you may be able to see allllll the way down that fidgety internet connection to discern   -   me.

Dresses: Nine West from Krasa
Sandals: Aerosoles
Black velvet shoes: vintage Filippo Raphael

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally Grasping The Obvious

 I love everything about this tunic - cut, color, pattern, details - except where the ties hit. It's almost up to where an empire waist would lie, not quite, and it does nothing for the lines of the garment itself or my figure (kind of a weird matronly young girl feel).  For years now i've worn this top while finding the silhouette distasteful.

The other day it occurred to me - just tie the ties loosely at the back, then belt the thing wherever you like. Bingo! Why this insight took several years to settle through the gelatinous synapses of my noggin, i cannot say. But i hope my confession will save some of you a little grief.

I think this is an example of a look that's not traditionally 'figure flattering', but where i love the way the lines of the tunic drape over the figure. It brings the curves into full relief, highlighting them in a unique way. Maybe not for every one, but i like it. It reminds me of the drapery folds in ancient Grecian wear.

In another flash of the obvious, i had a realization about capsules. The concept is a little hard to explain and grasp (until you get it, obviously). A while back i received a copy of Land's End's catalog and noticed the new 'Starfish Collection'. This is targeted towards middle aged ladies with casual wear needs. Every piece in the collection can be worn with every other piece - they all are made from a strictly crafted color palette, of similar fabrics, with continuity in silhouettes and design details. You could pick any 8-12 pieces from this collection of twenty items and create a perfectly functioning clothing capsule. Land's End Canvas, while offering a much bigger selection (a couple hundred pieces), could also be seen as a huge capsule. You'd be hard put to pick any 12 pieces from this line and find any pieces that would not work with the others.

Many catalog companies design and present their offerings in this way - you could pick out any several items from the catalog and they would all work well together. This is especially true for Land's End and L.L. Bean, which makes sense as part of their appeal is 'ease in dressing'. But companies such as Banana Republic and J. Crew operate on much the same principle, in these latter cases i suspect it is more as a result of attempting to maintain a coherent brand image. At the same time, i am sure that busy young business people with time at a premium can see the appeal to 'ease in dressing' as well as the khaki and polo crowd.

What do you think - do you agree with my take on this? Does this make the concept of 'clothing capsules' any more clear?

Tunic: thrifted April Cornel dress, shortened
Skirt, bracelet: own design
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Shoes: Aerosole
Earrings: Meg's Ragged Edge

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What IS It That Bloggers Gaze At?

 As promised, another look or two featuring my new love. These outfits are more casual, taking advantage of the versatility of this piece. The styling in this post is pretty self-explanatory - you've seen all these pieces before.

But you may have wondered now and then about so many outfit of the day pictures you see on style blogs - what is that lady looking at? As it happens, there are many reasons for a style blogger/model to look someplace other than the camera lens.

Modeling takes a degree of nerve, and some bloggers frankly feel uncomfortable looking straight at the lens. Others are not 'out' as bloggers in their private or business life, and not showing their face mystifies their identity.

 There are additional possible factors.  Even if you post a modest three times a week, the sheer quantity of photos adds up quickly. Most bloggers strive to add a degree of variety to the look of their photos - but on a long term basis running around to photogenic locales for scintillating backdrops is not practical more than occasionally. The outfits provide a degree of difference, but is it enough?

Fortunately one of the most cost and time effective solutions is for the model to vary her poses. This provides visual variety, as well as affecting the emotional tone of the photograph.

And, to be blunt, the point of style blog photographs is to show off the clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and other style choices of the blogger in the most attractive possible light.  Certain poses and gestures are more flattering to certain styles of clothing, or may emphasize a particular feature of the outfit which the blogger/stylist would like to showcase.

But the reason i was looking off to the side during the 'black cargo pant' shoot had nothing to do with any of that. It had everything to do with why i love living in California, and right here in particular.

Blouse: Bobeau
Jacket, cargo pants: thrifted
Jeans: Levi's discountinued
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Mid-calf boots: Bass Lamont

Friday, October 14, 2011

yeah, I Fell. I Fell HARD.

 You've seen this blouse here recently. What you don't know is that since i bought it, on September 25, 2011, I've worn it about six times. hmmm, sounds like someone was truly pining for a ladylike pussybow blouse! And in newtrals, no less.....

 This outfit was a pretty obvious one. In fact i plotted it on BART as we made our way home from the city, Nordstrom bag in hand.  My favorite aspect of this look is the complete contradictoriness it embodies. It's a very reto-sixties lady like 'dress', straight out of Belle de Jour, while at the same time it is a blatant example of outrageous pattern mixing. Nothing more fun than inhabiting two opposites quite comfortably at once.

These Betsy Johnson tights weren't my first choice - i came to them through a process of elimination. But in the end i like the way they pick up the geometry of the skirt and the mid-grey tones in the roses. The waistband on these tights is the most brilliantly hothothot pink i've seen since 1967!!! It has Betsy Johnson's logo name woven in the fabric - very fun, but it does bleed in the wash. They have to bathe alone in the sink, like cats.

Another reason i've been reaching for this blouse every other morning is the way it mixes with denim. Just like they were made for each other. It's hard to imagine a better piece to work into Angie's 'Smart Casual' formula. Another Bobeau blouse look to come this weekend - and a round of applause for Mr. Eccentric, our most excellent in-house personal stylist.

Blouse: Bobeau at Nordstrom's
Skirt: own design (suggested by Mr. E)
Belt: DKNY (thrifted)
Tights: Betsey Johnson
Jacket: YMI lets UBU (thrifted)
Shoes: Clark's

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking Like a Jackson Pollack Painting; And a Conundrum

 I received the high compliment of our post's title while wearing this look for day of shopping and tromping through San Francisco. Oddly enough, it didn't feel like i had a lot going on......but looking back on it i can see where a person might get that impression.

The close fitting aspects of the Sheila skirt and the Rococo swirly cotton jacket seemed to 'hold things together', thus i enjoyed the free floating scarves, ties, and peplum. When i'm wearing a look completely composed of floaty, drapey, dangling ponchos, capes, and various doo-dads i feel spacey, even mentally askew. I like the grounding effect of fitted, structured pieces, giving a contrasting background to a few free-range embellishments.

The following ensemble, which i wore the very next day, has a similar vibe - structured, close fitting jacket and sleek leggings provide grounding in this case. Both outfits reflect a bit of a turning point which i've reached along my 'style journey'. A couple of years ago, i decided to concentrate on achieving my 'dream wardrobe'. I've always loved clothes and had a flair for putting them on. As a wee child in hand me downs, i dreamed of the wardrobe i'd have when i grew up. But, you know how life my case, chronic illness prevented me from experiencing many of the things i'd wanted to: career, hobbies, travel, children....heehee, and of course the clothes!

It struck me that i wasn't that far off from my wardrobe dreams. Between my love of the small wardrobe, compulsion to remix, casual lifestyle, and sewing abilities i saw that pulling off the closet of my fantasies was a realistic goal. Since i had spent a few years neglecting my wardrobe, i began my quest by experimenting with new looks in the most economically parsimonious way possible. That's also when i began this blog. I made skirts from draping out an old sheet, buying cheap material on deep discount, then using buttons i'd gleaned from the husband's old shirts. I won't lie - i'm cheap by nature, but i also didn't want to spend money on ideas i wasn't sure i'd be that enthralled with in a few months. I had no experience dressing who i am now - older, married, more experienced, living in a different body, climate, daily routine.

By this past spring i felt it - i'd arrived at the next stage, the stage where i had a good handle on my likes and dislikes, my needs and wants and what i actually end up wearing.  I had the confidence to commit money, time, and effort to some new duds. As it happens, my aspirational style (there's a useful term for ya!) is more minimalist, and more luxe, than the boho-tatterdemalion style with which i started this blog.  These two looks reflect that. From Emily Cho's perspective, you could say that i'm going for a look that is more mature, authoritative, 'settled'. Notice i said 'more', not 'completely'! Maybe 'more grown up'?  But not 'old'.

Anyways, this bring me to my conundrum. I've been working on the next of the Emily Cho posts, on the Arty Offbeat and Exotic Dramatic personas. These two interrelate much as Sporty Casual and Classic Elegant do - Exotic Dramatic is seen as more managerial, 'the boss', authoritative, mature, in charge, in a leadership position, more experienced, more educated, more organized and so on while Arty Offbeat comes across as more of a student, more of a 'worker bee', less experienced,  follows their own drummer, non-hierarchical, spontaneous, and so on. Both are seen as very creative in their work and social lives. Exotic Dramatic could be thought of as Arty Offbeat all grown up, and in the last few months i've been traveling down the road from Arty Offbeat, getting closer to Exotic Dramatic.

i wore feet, too!
I have asked Judith of The Style Crone to be my icon of the pure Exotic Dramatic image type. (Although she has yet to answer my e-mail, so i'm using this as a naughty pressure tactic!)  Clean lines, every outfit meticulously put together regarding line, color, detail, accessories.....describing her style as 'curated' would not be far fetched, and Exotic Dramatic is the default image type when visualizing a gallery owner, museum director, etc.

However.  I am stuck when it comes to examples for Arty Offbeat. My problem is an embarrassment of riches!! I would say 98% of all style bloggers fall into the Arty Offbeat image type. Those who aren't pure AO show suspiciously strong tendencies in that direction. Pattern mixing, playing with proportions, thrifting, re-purposing clothing pieces (ie.,dress as skirt), heavy attraction to outlandish footwear - all these are classic AO traits and they run rampant in the style blogging world.

So i throw myself upon your mercy, dear readers! Can you nominate bloggers or particular outfits that you feel embody Arty Offbeat for me to use as examples? It's just too much for me! The only lady  i put off limits is Sheila of Ephemera. While a proud Arty Offbeat, Sheila is that rare bird who can take any image type and make it her own. She is a proud graduate of the Emily Cho Persona Academy, and i'm saving her for the finale.

Nominate in the comments, or send me an e-mail if you prefer. Either way, help an old lady out!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Double Denim

 I just love the way it feels to say that: 'Double Denim'. Makes your mouth move in ways it definitely ain't used to doing!

So weekend before this one (or, 'last weekend') i had a day of errands, stomping around town, and so on. I was doing a bit of house/plant sitting and had brought along some usual, i was unable to put together 'an outfit' ahead of time. A mental block, no doubt. I knew i couldn't wait to wear this new Bobeau blouse (selected for moi by none other than the inimitable Mr. Eccentric his own bad self). My black denim stretch skirt is comfy and sleek, and i wanted to get a few more wears out of my Aerosoles sandals while the weather permitted. Sounded like a look, and i threw it on.

Without thinking about it, i took along a jacket for warmth. Sometime during the day i realized i was sporting none other than the Canadian tuxedo, the dreaded 'Double D'. It really wasn't so bad, and when i mentioned it to Mr. E he seemed nonplussed (unusual when it comes to matters of the wardrobe). ah, well.

Nothing feels more ladylike, to me, thank wearing a jacket tossed onto my shoulders. Combined with a fitted skirt, pussybow blouse in a drapey floral print, strappy heels, i was a veritable rama-de-femme!

Here you can see the great shaped hem on this blouse. It's polyester - wow, has this fibre changed since the 1970's gross-fest i recall! Soft, silky, nice little wouldn't confuse it with silk, but at the same time it is much more durable and less prone to snags. I finally have to admit that polyester has come into it's own as a quality clothing fibre. I could not be more shocked!

What has shocked all of you about changes in clothing over the decades - for good or ill, we want to know!!

Jacket: YMI lets UBU (thrifted)
Blouse: Bobeau from Nordstrom
Skirt, pearls: own design
Belt: Betsy Johnson
Sandals: Aerosoles

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Age Inappropriate Dressing

I wore this for dashing around town on what looks to be one of our last 'summer' days. My husband has been ranting about my style tendencies recently. Apparently i'm giving Mr. Chaz Bono a run for his title of Premier Bull D7ke of the Western Territories. Far be it from me to nudge a cultural icon out of the spotlight - in a swing to the distaff side, i've been sporting these little Ann Ferriday tops.

Most of the day was spent with the scarf worn as above. The ultra femme qualities of this little shell should be obvious. I have three Ann Ferriday tops, which we bought on sale at a boutique three or four years ago. The colors and textures Ms. Ferriday combines in her tops are complex and just wonderful - as it happens, many of these lovely tops are for sale on e-bay at very reasonable prices. As she only makes one size, shopping for a loved one could not be easier!

This outrageous scarf was a present from Mr. Eccentric a couple of winters ago. The colors, patterns, and textures (wine velvet!!! swoon.....) are perfection itself. But somehow i never hit on a really good way of wearing this scarf. Incredible frustration! Happily, while wearing this outfit i tied it in a way i learned from Paula's blog, and bob's your uncle! Long line, stays in place, warms the neck, shows off the scarf........i am ecstatically thrilled that this scarf will be getting worn to rags this winter!

The bag is also a gift from Anonymous. It's a lovely glazed chestnut color, with perforated strips outlining the major seams. It adds such a rich, colorful sheen to a look while also being ultra-practical.  Mrs. You Know Who You Are, thank you again and have a fabulous day out there!!!!

Hat: Berkeley Hat Company
Scarves, Handbag, Jewelry: gifts
Jacket: YMI lets UBU (thrifted)
Skirt: own design
Fishnets: Sock Dreams
Shoes: Clark's