Saturday, November 29, 2014

Now Blooming

Right now a lot of my fall blooming orchids are in flower. What's great about having a blog is that I have a forum where I can force iPhone photos of my orchids on a lot of people without having to ask if they want to see some pictures of my plants, because let's face it...that question makes you sound crazy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Curated, Small-Batch, Only Slightly Pretentious Gift List

I don't know about you guys, but if I have to sit through one more celebrity-endorsed, hand-picked, small-batch, curated edit of a website stocked with overpriced, annoyingly "normcore" versions of things the rest of us have been finding all by ourselves for like, ever...well, I'm starting to feel a bit stabby.  

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a bit of high-end tat from time to time. My fridge is full of soy and almond milks, and I even make my own nut butters with the special nut butter attachment on my macerating juicer. So believe me when I tell you that I am the target demographic for this kind of over-hyped flotsam and jetsam. However, there is a limit to what the thinking person is willing to tolerate. These attempts to re-sell us things that we have been finding all on our own, re-branded as somehow more special because a celebrity has "found" them...well. Pthhht. I'm so over it that basically from now on, anyone using the word curated in front of me had better work in a museum. 

Take the hot cocoa mix on the left in the above photo. Who in the blue blazes pays $30 for hot cocoa mix!? That's the latest offering from Blake Lively's curated web venture, Preserve (this exact same product also happens to be available on Etsy, for those of us who have already been shopping for overpriced bespoke cocoa for years, but I digress). Sure, it boasts the word "organic" in front of its three ingredients (that's $10 per ingredient by my counting), yet the one on the right boasts seven ingredients that promise a more interesting (albeit less organic) ride. It also includes Himalayan pink sea salt, in case you're worried about it not being pretentious enough for you. And it's five bucks on Etsy. That's more like it.

So if like me, you enjoy a potentially-pretentious, artisan-crafted, small-batch product but can't bear the thought of enduring a celebrity-endorsed, handlebar-moustached, over-inflated price tag, this list is for you, and it's all under $100. Well under. Many thanks to the many artists and crafters of Etsy whose skill and dedication make it possible. 

The Highland Fashionista's Small-Batch, Only Slightly Pretentious Gift List. 
The following list has not been curated in any way. 

For Him

For Her

For the Wee Ones

Around the House

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Americans!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Camel Hair Blazer

Some of the best clothes I own are the secondhand finds, and this Ralph Lauren Black Label camel hair blazer is very much in that category. I found it on eBay, and while it wasn't cheap, it was a great price; under $100 and nary a scratch on it. While I was puttering about on the internet, I found a more recent permutation of it online, and the price of nearly gave me a coronary. It's a really well made garment, and it fits perfectly; so soft and luxurious that it sort of defies explanation, but I'll try. It's kind of like the smooth feeling of a baby's bum crossed with that velvety part of a horse's nose, with a silk lining that feels This is such a luxurious and elegant piece, I felt that it just didn't need a whole lot of accessorising, as it can speak for itself just fine, thanks very much.

I've spent most of my adult life avoiding camel clothing, thinking it was a colour that I couldn't wear because it was so close to my skin colour, and that it would wash me out. Add to that everything you read about women with silver hair avoiding browns and beiges...well, I fell for it. I avoided camel, as much as I love the simple elegance of it. In retrospect, that was so stupid. Camel goes with just about everything, and while admittedly it is by no means the best shade for my skin tone, you can easily temper that by pairing it with black (as I have done here), burgundy, blue chambray, nautical stripes....the list goes on and on.

So basically I'm making up for lost time. I anticipate a lot of camel posts coming your way. Prepare yourselves.

Friday, November 21, 2014

An Invite To My $14 Party

This is why I love thrifting. I came across this party dress in the local Goodwill on my last trip to the US. It's a brand called SL fashions, and although I am not all that familiar with the brand, I've seen it around. It's just a simple heavy jersey knit in a loose, shift like style with a "cold shoulder" cutout and some small beaded detailing.  I love a cutout shoulder, but it is one of those design details that I think you have to be a little careful with. Sadly, quite often it is done quite poorly - you know, added to something that is already overwrought with design details that are too short, too tight, too shiny...and so on. I guess that's a fancy way of saying cheap. That said, I am in love with this dress. It's simple, easy to wear, super-comfy, would pack into a suitcase easily without ever showing any signs of trauma. Best of all, if I remember correctly, it cost me round about $14. In Goodwill money, I suppose that's actually rather pricey, but the tags were still on it, so fair play. 

Late November in Scotland means there is literally no natural light anywhere to be found, which makes trying to take some quick snaps of a black garment a difficult task, but we do what we can. Anyway, take my word for it, this is one of those pieces that you will be able to rely on when you either don't know what to wear, or need something simple and indestructible that you don't have to worry about. 

thrifted SL Fashions dress / Stuart Weitzman shoes

Make it Happen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

But What Do I Do With This Thing!?

That sentiment pretty much sums up how I used to feel about scarves. I found them fussy and superfluous, and really hadn't a clue as to how to make them work for me outside of wrapping up against the worst of the Wisconsin winters that I grew up with.

These days with fashion editorials and online tutorials just a click away, it is a lot easier to visualise how you can work a scarf into your wardrobe. I think there is also a wider selection of scarves available now, and in a much wider range of fabrics. What I like best about modern scarves is that you can wear them and be absolutely, positively, 100% casual in them; a look that not so long ago, simply didn't exist. The following list are some of my favourite go-to ways to wear a scarf. The names of the knots have been completely made-up by me, and most likely have actual names floating around out there somewhere.

So. Without further commentary on the matter, I give you...

9 Ways to Wear a Scarf: The Everyday Edition

1. The Amelia Earhart Wrap the scarf once around your neck and let the ends hang loose. That's it. 
2. The Celeb-at-LAX Haphazardly wrap the thing around your neck and tuck the ends loosely under. So. Easy. 
3. The Ravel's Bolero Drape the scarf like you're wearing it as a shawl, then take the ends under your arms and tie behind your back. 
4. The Chicken or Fish? Instead of starting by draping the scarf around the back of your neck, drape it around the front. wrap both ends around so that they hanging down in front (see no. 1), and tie them in a knot. 
5. The Shawl Just what it sounds like. know...wear it. Put it on. 
6. The Litigious Fake Injury Claimant Roll scarf tightly, then coil it around your neck, tucking ends under. 
7. The Eye of the Needle Fold scarf in half so that it is double-thickness with both ends at one side and a loop is on the other. Drape it around your neck, then pull both ends through the loop. Adjust.
8. The Carrie Matheson Basically this is a No. 2 pulled-up over your head. Great for keeping warm if you get caught out in some weather. In a lighter weight scarf, this one is perfect for travelling in countries where you must cover your head and shoulders. 
9. The Artsy Fankle Begin as with The Eye of the Needle, but instead of bringing both ends through the loop, bring only one. Bring the remaining end over the top of the loop, and then down through it to create this nifty cross-hatch pattern.

This post has been happily shared with Mis Papelicos' Share In Style

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jumper Dress Tunic Type Thingy


I didn't know what else to call this piece, so I just sort of strung a bunch of adjectives together. This is a thrifted merino wool jumper/dress form Limited that I picked up at the local Goodwill on my last trip back to the States. I'm not sure of the vintage of this piece, but I think maybe late 90s - early 2000s because it is a proper, respectably-crafted pure merino wool knit, and it has been quite some time since I have seen anything like that in your average mass market retailer. Seriously, don't get me started on the shocking nosedive in the quality of knitwear on the high street. We'll be here all day.

I like that this was just a little bit different. I know that this is meant to be a dress, but I liked the sort of long line, tunic vibe to it, and wanted to wear it a bit more of an unexpected way. Ideally I would have paired this with my pair of super distressed jeans, but they were in the wash. Because that is what kind of a blog this is. Sometimes, s**t's just in the wash. And yet, the republic still stands.

thrifted Limited merino wool dress, similar / Mango jeans / Dingo harness boots / black onyx earrings (old), similar

This post has been proudly shared with Mis Papelicos' and Share-In-Style

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

What's Up With Herbag!?

Welcome to Saturday peeps, where we (sometimes, when I feel like it) discuss sartorial events in the context of pop culture. Today, as much as it pains me to give any more air time to The Kimye Corporation™, I was left thinking about this particular sartorial choice for longer than I care to admit after seeing it over at Celebitchy earlier in the week.  If you are not familiar with Celebitchy, it stands a visit. Gossip items written, read, and commented-on by smart women (and some men) with real lives and jobs and a pretty large helping of advanced degrees. Read the comments, enjoy the witty repartee, and enter the debate about who's hotter, Cumberbatch or Hiddleston (Team Hiddleston).  It's good fun. The first time I visited the site, I felt that I had finally found my people.

This is an Hermès bag that Kanye presented to Kim K, upon which he had their daughter make some artful "modifications". Although the original story wrongly identified this bag as a Birkin worth anywhere from $11,000 on up, it is actually the much lower-priced canvas and leather Hermès Herbag, which is a relative bargain coming in at just under $2,500. But that's not the point.

I guess I'm of two minds here.  There's my live and let live side, which firmly believes that people should be allowed to spend their money any way they see fit, and the rest of us should just keep our noses out of it. But there is also the pragmatic midwesterner in me, who looks at a bag worth more than the monthly salary of most of the occupants of the small town I live in, and thinks that really, this is a way to sort of signal to the world that you have so much money that you can afford to let your one year-old paint all over a $2,500 handbag; that this is not just an attempt at sentimentality, but rather some sort of attempt to reinforce social stratification. That part of me feels like this kind of thing is right out of the Thurston Howell III playbook, or perhaps Sacha Baron Cohen as the Dictator Admiral General Aladeen using paper currency to wipe his bum after using his (solid gold) toilet.

Don't get me wrong, I see what Kanye was supposedly going for here. He has given Kim an art-customised Hermès bag before, so this is not exactly new territory. Also, Angelina Jolie had the fabric of her wedding veil adorned with drawings her children created and started a bit of a trend in the process, so Kanye, creative genius that he is, probably took at least some of his inspiration from that. But does it matter if your one year-old paints on a $2,500 handbag versus a $40 canvas tote?

Also, I wish she wouldn't have gotten paint on the leather bits. That's just sloppy. Kids these days.

Your thoughts?

Make it happen.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Roving Gang of Chicness

You've probably already seen this if you are tuned-in to what is going on amongst our bloggy peer group, but juuuuuust in case you haven't, I would like to direct your attention to the venerable Catherine over at Not Dressed as Lamb, who was kind enough to include me in her list of 8 40-plus style bloggers post that went live on Thursday.  As always, a heartfelt thank you to Catherine, and if you are unfamiliar with any of these fantastic bloggers, take the time to get to know won't regret it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Birthday Bag

I recently realised that I really didn't have a sort of everyday handbag that I could rely on any more. Having been a fan of the gianormous, hardware-laden, weighs-a-ton "it" bags that were so popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, as fashion (and therefore our collective taste in bags) has changed, I had abandoned most of my huge bags. Instead, I resorted to using my ripped to shreds leather tote that I use for work, or my off white Dooney & Bourke shopper, which is really only appropriate at certain times of the year. So this year for my birthday, I decided that my present to myself would be a new bag.

Enter this, my new Louis Vuitton Speedy bag. I freely admit here that I had absolutely no intention of buying a Louis Vuitton. Although I have always been a fan of the Vuitton Speedy bag (in theory anyway) for it's practicality and classic design, I just really wasn't very tuned-in to the Vuitton brand, thinking of it as something people bought who wanted to be seen with a logo bag.  However, having to really think hard about what I needed in a bag, combined with a very well-timed long-term freelance writing job for a handbag retailer (which forces me to research all things handbag, I quickly changed my tune. Several of my writing assignments have now sent me over to Louis Vuitton for research purposes, both on the net and in person, and that is really what clued me in to the history and tradition that is behind the design house. I suppose the fact that they have been around since 1859 should have clued me in, but well...some of us are stubborn and opinionated once we've made up our minds. Anyway, when the pay check from my handbag freelance gig came in, I used it to buy my Speedy bag. It seemed only right.

Having always been a bit of a leather bag snob, a coated canvas bag has been a bit of a revelation. As it turns out, coated canvas is at least as hard-wearing as leather, if not more so. Even better yet, it's incredibly lightweight, so you're less likely to get that heavy handbag shoulder ache. I chose their classic Damier canvas, largely because the pattern is one of their original designs (revived in 1996 for their 100th anniversary - I like a bit of history), and to be honest, I am still a bit logo-shy.  The LV logo stuff wasn't made until later on in the Vuitton manufacturing timeline, ironically as an attempt to quash counterfeiting. I think its safe to editorialise a bit here and say that it didn't work.

So here it is. Ta-Daa. The Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 Bandouliére in Damier canvas. I decided to go with the Bandouliére (shoulder strap version) because I really like the idea of having the hands-free option, and I'm sick and tired of tucking a bag under my armpit, 90s style. Plus, it looks really cute when worn cross-body, and the strap is adjustable, so you can put it exactly where you want it. The bottom line is, I was totally wrong in my assumptions about the brand, and I am in love with this bag...which is good, because it needs to last me for a long, long time.

If you want to read a brief history of the Vuitton Brand, there are some excellent overview articles online. Try this one from Vogue, or try the Louis Vuitton website.

Make it Happen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ladylike Meets Tough: A Truce

This whole look sort of came about because I wanted to revisit these shoes. I found these All Saints sandals a few years ago for £5 on a sale rack, and I snapped them up. I have not worn them very much, not because I don't like them, but I've found them sort of difficult to style. They are sort of girly and tough at the same time, and have a bit of hurache look to them that I suppose I found sort of hard to reconcile with my current wardrobe. But I've hung on to them, because they are just so darn unique.

I think I've finally found the answer as to how to style these babies, and as usual, I was just trying way too hard. Instead of trying to style a perfect look to showcase the shoes, I just sort of put together something rather...well...normal-looking. It's a mix of feminine and tough, just like the shoes themselves. After all, none of us are just one thing, right? The top half of this look is a sort of retro-inspired gal who spends her time reading recipe books from 1956 and clutching her pearls when she thinks about Elvis shaking his pelvis on the Ed Sullivan show, while the bottom half arrived here on her motorcycle and wants to kick your ass, steal your wallet, and leave you bleeding in a back alley.

See? When you put it that way, these shoes become a whole lot more fun to wear. I suspect you'll be seeing more of them in the future. Roll on 1957.

All Saints sandals (old), similar / Gap jeans / Neiman Marcus cashmere cardigan (old), similar / glasses / Wallis camisole

Make it happen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Earning Your Stripes

No. you're right. It's not really warm enough to wear this dress outside without a jacket. But I have an excuse. See that pile of logs in the background, just over my left shoulder? That's just the tip of the iceberg. I spent the morning dragging a bunch of felled wood down the hillside and deadlifting it over that big stone wall so that my logs-obsessed husband can have something to do with his new electric chainsaw.  Plus we needed it, it was there, and so was I. My dog helped, if helping means jumping up and grabbing the ends and trying to play tug while I am struggling down the hill trying not to lose my balance. We both had a nice little workout, and we earned the right to stand outside for a moment in the freezing cold. Or in his case, sleep in the middle of the bed.

Anyway, this dress.  I was in the US last week, so you know that can only mean one thing....thrifting. Yes, this dress was a thrift store find from my hometown. It's a Calvin Klein, and it fits so well it's actually a little creepy. It's perfect for more buttoned-down stuff like work things and conferences, and I am in love with the detailing that makes it just a wee bit special, like the multidirectional stripes on only one side, and the wee overlapping flap in front. This dress is also perfect for pairing with a pair of statement glasses. I love me some statement glasses. Funny how in the movies, a pair of statement glasses can render you virtually Clark Kent (don't be silly, Superman would never wear glasses), or the "dowdy" minor character in the movie who the leading man doesn't realise is beautiful until she takes off her glasses and shakes her hair out of the bun. You'll notice I have done neither of those things...because...I mean come on Hollywood, you don't need to spell it out every time, you know?

thrifted Calvin Klein dress, similar / Stuart Weitzman pumps / frames