We all have our own style icons. While some of them are constantly at front of mind - Isak Dinesen, Amelia Earhardt - others work their magic in our subconscious for decades until one day they decide to stroll out into the spotlight and take a bow.
Most of you are quite familiar with my love affair with beige. Beige - the perfect low contrast neutral to go with my low contrast coloring, beige keeps me from feeling overwhelmed when i pile on the details or play with an outsized silhouette.
Which is why i felt perplexed at my choice of daily uniform. The last six months have seen me ever more reliant on uniform dressing. Nine days out of ten I'm in a dress or a full skirt and white linen blouse. Even better if it is a full, black skirt. With a white blouse.
Black and white. While this combo indeed comprises neutrals, it is the quintessential high contrast look. Why did i love wearing it so much, why did it feel so me? I knew not why, but continued sporting this combo in hopes it would trigger some insight.
It didn't. What did was a post by Marcy Tilton, sharing with her facebook readers her love of designer Carolyn Quartermaine via a little video. While the focus of the video was Carolyn Quartermaine's promotion of toile de jouy, the calligraphy Ms. Quartermaine favored reminded me of Lauren McIntosh's own artwork. Lauren McIntosh co-owns Berkeley boutique Tail of the Yak with fellow artist Alice Erb. I of course remarked that Lauren McIntosh's personal style was also something to behold.
|Lauren McIntosh with her artwork via hat designer Momoca's blog|
If you walked into Tail of the Yak today, you would be awed by the exquisite taste in everything from water glasses, to Victorian-era mourning jewelry, to hand-cut garlands and 1920’s era French ribbons by the yard. But you would not be shocked with a through the looking glass punch to the gut – because Tail of the Yak has been so influential and copied through the decades.
Not so in the early 1980’s. I grew up in Castro Valley, half an hour south of
Berkeley to which we’d go on the weekends. I found being so out of place at ‘home’, then 'just
another weirdo' a few miles distant to be more comforting than strange. And in Tail of the Yak, I got a glimpse of people
living the type of life in which my talents and preferences would at least be
accepted, maybe even admired.
The idea of living with people who didn’t actively scorn me was arresting enough, but what I really loved about Tail of the Yak was looking at everything. I loved the taste and aesthetic and thirstily drank it in.
|from Remodelista: Lauren McIntosh, Artist Doyenne of Berkeley|
On the best visits Lauren McIntosh would be working in the shop. She’s strikingly beautiful, but more than that I loved her outfits. When first I haunted the store, she wore crisp, full black cotton skirts with white cotton petticoats, black leather booties, and white or black cotton blouse. She braided her long black hair and sometimes topped it all off with a straw hat painted black.
|jewelry influenced by Tail of the Yak and Ms. MacIntosh herself|
|photo from the Real Isabelle Allende's blog|
I haven't the words to convey the atmosphere of Tail of the Yak. I did find a few pictures which may give you a taste of it - here is Isabelle Allende sprucing up Ms. Erb and McIntosh's macquillage for a photoshoot, later published in American Craft magazine. That's Tail of the Yak in a nutshell.
|"6 places to check out in the Elmwood" from sfgate|
Happily, my unconscious was having none of that! I find it so wonderful that our subrosa selves can take inspiration from people and places no matter what 'we' make up our 'minds' to do or not. In this instance certainly my subconscious had very strict and correct views on the matter, and i am grateful to it for showing more common sense than 'me' up here in the brain!
I made this double-layered skirt as part of a Lagenlook Sew Along organized by Garden Girl (Rene) on the Stitcher's Guild sewing forum. These sew alongs started in January and have been quite active - check out the threads for a ton of eye candy, inspiration, and helpful advice. For this double-layered skirt i chose 100% cotton lawn, embroidered in a kind of eyelet/wallpaper stripe. It is easy to sew and very comfortable to wear. (Click here to see some photos showing the skirt details more clearly.)
I bought the fabric at Stone Mountain and Daughter - at $9 a 54" wide yard, an excellent value. Even more as it has been wearing quite well, no pilling on the embroidery, twisting, etc. I had been kicking myself for not buying more, when last Saturday i went upstairs at Stone Mountain to find the same fabric on sale for half off - I snapped up four yards to make a dress. Thank you fabric fairies!
Do any of you want to take a guess at what style icons lurk in your own subconscious, working patiently while awaiting the right moment to burst upon your awareness? Maybe you've had a similar realization? Please share!