Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eccentric 'On The Go'

Angie of You Look Fab has a great ongoing series of 'mom on the go' outfits. These are simple formulas for outfits you can put together that are fun, non-fussy, casual but put-together. I'm not a mom but yesterday was a typical errands around town day, in 92 degree heat. Lots of walking and get into a very hot car.

This outfit performed really nicely. Nothing to fiddle with, the soft cotton soaked up any stray 'glow' i may have experienced, the easy to walk in, strappy sandals kept my feet cool. This look is a mix of this dress and this skirt. (Click on the links for better pictures of each item - sorry for the washed-out photographs.) I added the skirt for variety and extra length. The additional 4-5" gives enough coverage so i don't have to worry about flashing too much when i sit, bend over, or so on. This turned out to be a crucial factor at the end of the day when i went to pick up Mr. E., who got out of work a little later than usual. There was no way i was sitting in a hot car for any amount of time, so i took my book onto a shady spot on a little hill nearby and curled up on the ground to wait.

Dress: Liz Claiborne
Skirt: own design
Shoes: Naturalizer

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remaining Stylish Whilst Nude

Is it possible to be stylish while nude? And i mean stylish in the sense of an individual's presentation of their bodily person, not the stylish lifestyle a person lives. Just the person.

I say 'yes'. I can't help but think of Marilyn Monroe's Playboy centerfold. The milky skin, up-to-date and flattering hair and makeup, and sensual pose all telegraph a sense of her style to the viewer. Although even more memorable, because unexpected, are her answers to the reporters' question 'Did you have anything on?' ('I had the radio on.' or 'Chanel No.5.').

Years ago i read an article about Elizabeth Taylor touching upon the beginning of her relationship with Richard Burton. She was incredibly glamorous, he was a star of the British acting stage, they were both married to other people, and the movie they were making was a huge media event on it's own due to the spectacle and budget involved. When word got out that these two fascinating personalities had become romantically entangled, a paparazzi bomb exploded on their location.
Years later Ms. Taylor recalled, while trying to convey the complete lack of any privacy the paparazzi gave her and Burton, 'We couldn't even use the toilet without them trying to take our picture.' 'So what did you do?' 'You learned to pee with style.'

Ms. Taylor's response got me thinking about the limits of personal style. So many of us feel comfortable with our style choices when we're casual, or dressed up, or at work or vacation or before we had the baby or got married or when we were ten years younger - but not in all these aspects. Even though they may be a large part of our life right now. Ms. Taylor had a different approach. Commit to finding your style in all the areas of your life, your life right now, whatever that life throws at you.

This philosophy will appeal to some more than to others. It appeals to me because i've always been fussy about clothes (physically and aesthetically). Other people not so much, because of reasons ranging from lack of interest to intimidation at the amount of work involved. And it does involve work, commitment and creativity. But, you have to get dressed anyway. And life will always come up with crazy new situations for you to cope with. A commitment to finding your own individual style in all the areas of your life expands your range and creativity, and those new challenges start to feel less intimidating. As with any skill, you'll improve with practice.

Soon enough, you may even start to feel comfortable in nothing but your own skin.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Avoiding the Eccentric Sunburn

No pix today. We're having a spate of 'skivvies only' weather, but it is set to ease up on Wednesday. In the meantime....

All sunburns suck. They hurt, you look like a lizard when you're flaking, they cause wrinkles and skin you're diligent and take precautions. You wear a short-sleeved tee and long shorts to the beach, and sneakers since you'll be hiking to the sea. You slather sunblock all over ever exposed surface and wear a hat with a big bill. The waves look so inviting, and you and your friend while away an hour or so tossing a frisbee back and forth, running in and out of the waves.....of course you kick off your shoes......that nite, the tops of your tootsies and your instep are inflamed and crispy. The thought of shoes and socks makes you break out in a sweat.

Eccentric sunburns usually result from a change of plans or an overlooked detail. The 1" gap between your crop top and pants that only becomes apparent after you fall asleep at a picnic, arms over your head, and wake up with a sunburn belt. The shoulder straps that gap and let afternoon sun in under your arms while you're playing catch. The worst part is these areas tenc to be extra tender and in spots that get rubbing from bras, waistbands, shoes, etc.

Here's a method that helps. Common sense applies: reapply sunblock after swimming or a couple of hours, wear a hat and clothes as needed, etc. But here's the basic strategy.

Get a bottle of nice, high SPF, sweat & waterproof sunblock (i like Coppertone Waterbabies). Take your shower or bath, then, BEFORE you put on any clothes, slather that glop EVERYWHERE. Toes, back of knees, neck, armpits - you want TOTAL COVERAGE. Let it soak in for 15-20 minutes so it won't rub off, then get dressed how you want.

This way, if you kick off your shoes or roll up your sleeves, or you develop some species of 'gaposis' you hadn't anticipated, you'll have some type of protection. It's really difficult to get sunblock where you need it after you dress - calculating the angle of the sun vs. you cute sundress neckline. Don't take a risk!! Give this method a try and be left with only happy memories from your next outdoor frolic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some Day My Prince Will Come......

I wanted this photo to emphasize the old-fashioned, romantic aspect of the outfit. To elicit a lingering summer afternoon, a woman whiling away the hours while waiting for her swain to come and sweep her off her feet......

But i'm a modern girl, so i went out and got my prince! And our landlord was truly a knight in shining armor - snaking out the plumbing as well as re-connecting the flapper chain. He left less than an hour after he arrived, flush with success, to go watch US v. Ghana in the world cup.

It was time for me to shine, in my role as the fairy princess of disinfectants........but i'll spare you the vision of loveliness i wore for those duties, and show you the front of my kicking-around-the-house-on-a-hot-day outfit instead.

Top: own design
Petticoat: own design, inspired by Alisa Burke
Barrette: gift

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Foggy Friday

I wore this outfit last Friday night to go grocery shopping. The checker at the next station was helping a 92 year old World War Two vet. This older gentleman took this opportunity to regale the other customers and checkers with stories of his exploits, opinions on letting the Russians take Berlin (bad idea), and how much he appreciated the leeway people gave him on account of being 92. He was a sweety and looking mighty fine for his age! And i was happy to see an elder being given the respect so many deserve and so few get these days.

After i bought my groceries, while i was waiting to use the DVD rental machine next to the exit, he told his assistant to stop while they were wheeling his groceries out. He wanted to complement 'this young lady' (me) on 'her outfit'. I said 'Back atcha!' His navy cap and violet and apple green color blocked windbreaker just jumped off his inky chocolate skin. Definitely a man with style sense. I would love to see some pictures of what he was putting together in the '40's and '50's!

As he moved on, a little creakily, i heard him telling his assistant 'That's one of the great things about being can stop and compliment young ladies....' Although, honestly, he seemed as if he's had plenty of practice at it!

Hat: ???
Tunic: Converse One Star at Target
Tank: Jockey
Belt: vintage Coach (does it count as vintage if it's vintage old but you bought it originally?)
Skirt: own design
Shoes: old Borns
Socks: Target (i made those pom-pom doo-dads to keep them from slipping down)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Navy Grosgrain

Dress from Converse One Star at Target, socks from regular old Target. Dansko Marcelles, truly ancient boater. Skeevy look from unhappy sinuses.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Outfits

Ancient dress, embroidered top and hat were gifts. I'm fighting a sinus infection so expect lite blog activity.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PJ Day

i'm wearing clothes today, so i'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Plants With Eccentric Appetites

I hope everyone had a great weekend and happy Father's Day. This is me with my dad, in the lush garden he tends along with his wife. Exotic plants abound in this small space overflowing with different colors, textures, and scents. On the right you see their banana plant, one of the many important plants which produce food for animals to eat. Without these plants, animal life would perish.

But what are those striking trumpet shaped plants to Dad's left? Those plants have a different way of making their way in this world. Faced with life in harsh, uncompromising environments, these plants have developed exotic appetites. Appetites for animal flesh.

These are carnivorous plants.

What type of individual would grow these deadly (ok, deadly to bugs) plants in their own garden, in fact maintain a whole collection of them? Take a look for yourself - there, next to my dad:

Yep, this mild-mannered Grandmother is an active member of the Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society, attending meetings and organizing carnivorous plant shows. Never judge an eccentric by his or her cover! Glasses and a 'practical' haircut are no defense against eccentricity.

BACPS is a great organization which hold monthly meetings and annual carnivorous plant shows. I would encourage any Bay Areans with an interest in the beautiful and unusual to get involved. I've been remiss in attendance recently, but that doesn't mean you should miss out on any fun! And there's tons of information on growing these plants (which to start with, suppliers, cultivation advice) at their website and meetings.

Below you'll see one of her prize-winning plants, a Sarracenia or North American Pitcher Plant. These plants attract insects with nectar inside their fluid-containing pitchers or trumpets, where the creatures drown. Enzymes in these fluids digest the soft parts of the bodies to nourish these plants, who grow in poor soils. Thus the need to get decent food from somewhere! At the end of the growing season, if you cut open a pitcher you will see the undigested exo-skeletons of the plant's last season meals.

Traditionally thought of as the height of eccentricity, interest in these plants is growing due to their beauty and advances in cultivation. So if you want to get in on the eccentric vibe, start boning up on these plants now!

My outfit reflected this post a wee bit with the spiderweb themed print on this Ann Ferriday top. Yum!

Hat: unknown
Top: Ann Ferriday
Jeans: Levi's Curvy Cut (discontinued - wouldn't you know it)
Shoes: Clark's Passion
Necklace & Earrings: gifts

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plan B

Yesterday was a typical Saturday. The E's bummed around the house, visited the library, made muffins. My outfit looked really cute - i was wearing the above jacket and top, with some khaki capris and flats (my trusty Borns) with lace anklets. Small top, small bottom, with a flare in the middle - i made a nice diamond shape, something like Miss Anne Elk's theory of the brontosaurus.

Then, stain on pants. So i put on these black rayon trousers i made a few years ago and wore a more mainstream outfit the rest of the day. The capris are soaking comfortably in the washer.

We ended up shopping on Telegraph, using the public facilities at the University (where above pic was taken - see if you can spot the bride!), then dining at Cesar Espana. Cesar is a delicious, trendy tapas bar in the Gourmet Ghetto with a great interior - lots of wood and tile set in huge curves and arcs. Wouldn't some candid pix of me in that fabulous setting, with fabulous food and fabulous people, be great?

Well, we ended up sitting near some tourist rubes who lovingly documented every plate that came to their table with their pink-skinned iphone.......and taking snaps in the dining area started to seem less glamorous and more 'acting like a coupla schmucks'.

However, some doors have locks, and when you're alone no one can judge.

You have to admit that is some great interior design.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there - especially my dad, Mr. E's dad, the bouch's dad, and Miss Dizzy's dad!!

Jacket: McCall's M5594, made by me (fabric a gift)
Top: Target
Trousers: made by me
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Necklace, Earrings: gifts

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Does This Chiminea Make Me Look Fat?

When i set up this photo, i planned to crop out the black chiminea - it was a 'strictly outfit' pic. But when i looked at the snaps, the way the pot bellied stove echoed my own little pot belly tickled my fancy, so i left it in.

But 'that's not flattering' many would say. And it doesn't make me look skinny, which sadly seems to be mostly what 'flattering' means these days. But outfits can flatter in so many other ways. They can bring out a glowing complexion, sparkling eyes, slender hands, a swaying walk. An outfit can reflect a person's take on color, shape, texture, or their interest in a certain historical era or life passion.

For me, this outfit was more about curving lines, in the roses, the collar, the lace, my hair, the hem of the skirt. also having pockets for my grocery list, keys, and bank card for grocery shopping.

i realize many would find this outfit more appealing if i looked slimmer. And i don't rule out wearing these clothes with that end in mind at some future time. But this day, to me, the sweating, pain, and limping caused by the addition of Spanx and high heels would detract from the flattery of this ensemble.

Jacket: Donna Karan for Vogue Patterns 2862, made by me
Earrings: gift
Necklace: gift
Belt: thrifted
Tank: Jockey
Skirt: own design
Shoes: old Borns

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fresh as a Daisy?

Thursday was a typical day - morning walk, gardening, sneaking past the Sedum oxypetalum, all in the toasty 85 degrees of the East Bay......until a cool breeze picked up and it was time to get gussied up! We were taking a trip through the Caldecott Tunnel to the New Parish Club in Oakland to see Pegi Young and Bert Jansch.

Not only did i need to put on the dog, but that twenty minute drive means twenty five degrees less heat, plus wind and fog. Putting on stockings and a velvet jacket in the heat is weird, trying to get the makeup on your face faster than your face is sweating it off - is gross. But i appreciated that extra warmth by evening's end.
tomorrow i'll make some notes on the concert and the surprisingly varied audience (hopefully i can convince mr. e to contribute). in the meantime, how about some clothes?

the first pic is with jacket, the second without, since i liked both. i didn't get pix last nite (poor planning) so crawled into the outfit again this morning to get the photos. so, no, i was not feeling fresh as a daisy.

and yes, it is only my ninth post and i'm already repeating articles of clothing - maybe there's a prize?

what can i say, they're my clothes because i like 'em.

Hat: unknown
Jacket: Royal Robbins
Cami-top: own design
Cargo pants: Columbia (5 or so years old)
Shoes: Converse Jack Purcell

Hat: Down Under Enterprises
Scarf: wedding gift
Tunic: Converse
Skirt: made myself

Petticoat: made from scraps, inspired by Alisa Burke
Necklace: collaged from Marin City Flea Market finds (watch & bow), pearls restrung by me
Earrings: liliswan
Chain Belt: Betsey Johnson
Stockings: ?
Shoes: Clark's Passion

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Hail The Shirtdress!

Comfy, throw it on and you look put together instantly, buttons all down the front offer a myriad layering possibilities, wash 'n wear......i was inspired in this design by Erin's post on Work With What You Got. Erin's is a blog worth following for her consistent style and honest approach to writing. also very tasty accessories (drool)!

I've been wearing Dansko clogs long enough to have worn out one pair already. These Marcelle's are at least four years old and still going strong. I can't recommend Dansko clogs highly enough for supportive comfort. I'm thinking these Professionals (in the brown tooled leather) could be good for the next pair. I like red shoes, but it's hard to wear them and not have the whole outfit be about the red shoes. My general preference is to have an outfit be about the whole outfit, not just a part. So 'background' but interesting shoes (like the Pro's i have my eye on) are always welcome at the Eccentrics'.

Dress: own design, inspired by this dress on Work With What You Got
Belt: ??? very ancient
Shoes: Dansko Marcelle
Book: Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact by Jacques Vallee

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Question of Appropriate Attyre.

Grigori has appropriate attire going on. Dark colors don't show the dirt. Long, flowing robes drape over a body at the end of a period of monastic fasting as well as they do after a long weekend of debauchery. Sturdy shoes cope well with endless tramping through the countryside - and even hold a shine for royal audiences. Sun protection galore. Low-maintenance hair and beard style. And the dark colors of clothes, shoes, beard, and hair force the attention towards those mesmerizing eyeballs.......

Mrs. E is a different story. Stark black and white, lustrous and embroidered silk skirt, gathers and flounces on the filmy cotton blouse, fishnets and heels bring to mind attendance at an afternoon classical recital rather than stalking the aisles of a used popular music store (selling punk and metal, no less).

but i woke up in the morning and wanted to wear this blouse . it's loose and breezy. the split sleeves offer full freedom of movement. a black skirt sounded nice, except right now both black skirts i have are 'dressy' types. but the stiff material on this one stays away from my tender legs, and the waistband has plenty of room. during a day of baking and cleaning, this outfit only touched me lightly on my shoulder and waist (i was barefoot as usual). an apron kept any flour off the blackness. when we went out in the evening, i threw on some stockings and shoes. i have a little secret that makes stockings more comfy when skirts are long:

just cut them off at the top of the legs and roll 'em down. no pantyhose strangulation at the crotch or fussing with a garter belt. though i don't know if it's strong enough to hold up a flask of hootch, flapper-style.

so what's more important in 'appropriate attyre' - looks or feel?

Blouse: own design, inspired by some girls wander
(i plan to add some lace at the hem)
Skirt: splurgy gift from mom
Earrings: liliswan
(i did switch out the original pearls for some grey 'potato' ones)
Stockings: ?
Belt: ancient Coach
Shoes: ancient Beautifeels

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chattering Oriole

in the bushes on my left. i didn't get a look, so no idea of sex or species.

thiss outfit was just right for a day of walking in the heat and cleaning around the house. all lightweight cotton with room to move, both pieces are at least four years old. the dress was spotted by Mr. E. the hat's 'stampede straps' do spoil any clean lines around my face. on the other hand, several years later i still have my hat......

Dress: Liz Claiborne
Jacket: Royal Robbins (shape altered by me)
Hat: Tula
Shoes: old Borns
Earrings and Pendant: Gathering Tribes
Flower Pin: own design

Monday, June 14, 2010

That Deadwood Vibe...

here's what i used to clothe my nakedness Sunday while hiding out in the house from the 97 degree heat and resting my leg.technically, i suppose it would be categorized as 'loungewear'. frankly, i thought it was too boring to document, but i did as part of the 'outfit DIARY' project.

but when i laid them out, i saw how much even these little clothes look so 'me'. the lace trim and eyelet,the light neutral color, 'victorian' type details grounded by a utilitarian piece (a men's undershirt). it got me thinking about how our personal style is, or is not, reflected in different areas of our lives. i've know women who dress extremely appropriately for their high-powered careers, then spend all weekend in faded sweats. other women look sexy and up-to-the-minute while clubbing, but don't feel they are taken seriously when they wear similar clothing in an office environment. but they've never put any thought into what else to wear.

when i married i moved to a new climate, after living in the same place for most of my life. this resulted in a lot of new situations for which i needed to dress. when i lived in a very mild, foggy climate i relied on layering disparate pieces to create an eclectic look. i was able to style my hair different ways without it being ruined from sweating under the huge hats i suddenly needed for sun protection. when you're doing housework in 85 degrees, the last thing you need is layers of contrasting colors and textures. now i was challenged to project an eclectic style through wearing just a few pieces at any one time.

the difficulty i had in making this transition helped me see the wisdom in getting to know your own personal style in depth. if you have a color palette, library of style details, fabric preferences, and clothing shapes that fit your personal style and physical preferences you are way ahead in filling 'holes' in your wardrobe which turn up. when you move to a new climate, become a parent, retire, or face other big lifestyle changes you will have a much narrower focus when shopping for clothes to fit your new situation. you won't have to start from scratch and will have the knowledge to be able to recognize things that will work quickly, as well as sorting out the 'no-gos'.

spending some time and thought on developing your own personal style 'lookbook', in a journal, scrapbook, or online, is viewed by many as pretty frivolous. but new situations arise in life regularly and unpredictably. doing your homework ahead of changes can help save time and aggravation during times which are likely to be hectic enough as it is. i believe there are many other advantages to developing your knowledge of your own personal style, but this one is the most down right practical.

Tank: jockey
Bloomers: gift

and now, by Reader Request (hi mom!) - the crochet socks from previous post:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Whirligigs and Flying Mailboxes!

yep, that handsome, stylish guy is Mr. E himself. We're in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley, CA attempting to escape the scorching heat over the hills in the east bay......over 90 degrees from 2-7pm. this was taken in front of an artist's house in the Elmwood. we discovered this place since we often park near here when visiting the area. the whole span of the front yard, the drive, and on back to the house and garage are sprinkled with these enigmatic objects, as a memorial to the artist's late father. it is especially magical at night, as he has placed colored lights here and there. and yesterday the blooming lavender was covered with honey bees. i hope to take more pictures here, day and night! but i just about melted with the few minutes we spent in full sun taking these pictures.

finally, a little something for any passing fahion-eers or stylistas to sink their teeth into.....i bought this Peruvian Connection dress with some holiday money a couple of years ago. it's cotton, the skirt is very full, and the details are outstanding.

as my first love in fashion is a strong silhouette, i love that you can go with the dropped waist look or belt it at the natural waist as i've done here, as well as change the fullness of the skirt with petticoats (or twirling). but the black really soaks up any sun, so i think this may be my last chance to wear it until things cool down a bit in the fall. it's great with heels, but my leg was driving me nuts so i went with flats. interestingly, as gorgeous as this dress is, it was the sox that people commented on all day.

Dress: Peruvian Connection
Petticoat: made from scraps, inspired by Alisa Burke
Sox: the popular crochet ones are too old to remember, worn over this season's Target peds
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Earrings: gift
Shoes: old Borns

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Morning Chores

actually this was Friday Vaccuuming, not saturday. (i'm lying to you already!)

huh. this skirt is an example of my wardrobe 'disarray'. i wore it as a skirt today as my left leg was very painful from overuse (i have nerve damage from chronic asthma treatments). it's cotton, it's soft, and it's full so my legs don't have to 'fight' against the fabric as they do in pants or tight skirts.

Howsoever. could i look any thicker around the middle. and the length looks funky with any and all shoes i own. (thus the bare feet.) i got the fabric for this skirt from my next door neighbor, Doreen, who was selling 'stash' from an upholsterer friend of hers who had to move. it was delightfully displayed in Doreen's car trunk. if i'd bought it off a bolt, i would have purchased enough for a mid-calf or ankle length, but as it was i was constrained in design options by the amount of cloth on hand. to be brutally honest, the cami-top was made from a scrap as well (or it would have bee longer at back). it's fun and creative (and cheap!) to use up all these odds and ends, but making it my entire wardrobe strategy? eh, maybe i can expand me horizons a little........

when going out grocery shopping that evening, chauffeured by the dashing mr. e., i kept the top but threw on some cargo pants instead. (because they have pockets on the thighs, by which use i can avoid toting a bag during the rigors of grocery shopping.) i do enjoy mixing victorian-style elements with more utilitarian pieces. it keeps the frilly pieces from being overly frou-frou, and brings to mind the great feats of exploration in that era. and victorian-style undergarments cope wonderfully with the heat.

Cami-top, Striped skirt: own design
Cargo pants: Columbia (5 or so years old)
Necklace: collaged from Marin City Flea Market finds
Shoes: Dansko Marcelle

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wardrobe and Climate

well, this pic doesn't catch all of today's outfit, but it gives a decent idea of some of my clothes concerns. out here in the eastern SF Bay Area, it's dry, dusty, windy, and HOT. also lots of sun. mr. eccentric and i were out walking near our house a little before 6pm (any earlier and i'd be wearing a hat). you can easily see the discing on the hill behind me, a good third wider this year than previous years - more rains this year mean more grass to potentially burn in our rainless summer and fall.

so i wear a lot of 100% cotton, shoulders and legs covered, and a lot of clothes with 'breathing room' (fullness for air circulation and fabrics with looser weave).

two tees in two days? well, i was reading the Lucky Shopping Manual in Barnes and Noble a few nights ago. Ms. Linnett and Ms. France recommend two black tees and two white tees as a minimum for every gal's well-stocked dresser (no hanging tees!). lo and behold Target had these great 100% cotton tees on sale for $5 each the very next day.

today i'm back to a cami-top.

Tee: Merona the ULTIMATE tee
Necklace: lilliswan's swallow bird necklace
Skirt: own design, inspired by Elsita
Petticoat: made from scraps, inspired by Alisa Burke
Shoes: old Borns

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hello, World!

or, more realistically, 'Hi Mom!'

as a person who designs and sews a lot of my own clothes, and who tends toward the 'small, highly edited' wardrobe style, it occurred to me that an outfit diary would come in handy. additionally, it would allow far-flung friends and family to reassure themselves that 'our girl' is dressing as kookily as ever.

this is yesterday's outfit. so far today, my bra has given up the ghost and my most reliable barrette exploded in the kitchen. it's barely 9:30am. please excuse me while i scramble to get presentable for today's photo!

Hat: Made In China (that narrows it down....)
Tee: Target Merona the ULTIMATE tee
Sox: Target
Shoes: Clark's Passion
Skirt: own design