Thursday, May 28, 2015

Found My Field Jacket

I had forgotten that I had taken my old Air Force field jacket home from my parents' house a while back, and it surfaced again today. I think technically you're supposed to remove all the insignia from it before wearing it in public, but they've changed the camouflage of the BDUs (battle dress uniforms) since my day, and I'm pretty sure that nobody is going to mistake my 43 year-old grey-streaked self for someone masquerading as enlisted in my backyard in Scotland.  I kept this one for sentimental value. This was the jacket that was handed thrown at me when I went to basic training, and so every once in a while on a day like today, I trot it out to walk the dog. Maybe not in these shoes.

So today is the 28th of May, and I'm wearing a military-issue field jacket, a cashmere sweater, and booties. And I'm freezing. Because it's still gale-force-windy and cold here, and the rain showers are still coming hard and fast at intervals close enough to have made me run off of the tennis court about 7 times today during my near-futile attempt to get in a few sets before hypothermia took us all to meet our makers. Look, we know summers are short here, but this seriously bites. Nobody is expecting high art at this point, but if mother nature would throw us a bone....well, that would be great. If not for us, do it for these poor tourists I see all huddling around the town with their backpacking and camping gear on their backs. God help them. I'd be backpacking right to the pub in this weather.

Today was virtually awash with obstacles - one after another. I encountered yet another, slightly different kind of obstacle trying to get a few shots of the Outfit Du Jour, although at least this bunch of obstacles had the common decency to make me smile.

Air Force issue jacket, similar / Levis hi-rise skinny jeans (old), similar / thrifted shoes, similar

Monday, May 25, 2015

70's Skirt

Continuing the recent trend in high-waistedness, we have here one high-waisted, front-button, a-line denim skirt. Paired with a yellow pussy bow blouse (do you hate that it's called "pussy bow" as much as I do?) and wedges, the look takes on a bit of a dressed-down, just-wandered-away-from-the-secretarial-pool-circa-1978 vibe.

I was an actual secretary for about a hot minute in Seattle in the 90s at various temp jobs, and I can honestly tell you that I am the worst secretary ever. I am a person who is easy bored, and in a job where you just need to be efficient and get tasks done as per protocol, my creative flair for renaming files with clever (I thought) puns and monikers and my inability to behave obsequiously in the presence of misogynist old-school boss types usually didn't win many points. I used to find these cowering office types who would practically prostrate themselves in front of their ruddy-faced, golf-obsessed bosses sort of funny. Like, sad-funny. Funny odd, not funny ha ha. The Emperor has no clothes, and all that.

There were good things too. The good part about being a temp secretary is that you got to see the insides of a lot of the cool big buildings in the city. It was also great being able to say no when you were asked back to an assignment that you didn't care for. However, the best part about it was learning what type of professional environments you definitely wanted to avoid in the future. Believe me, there were many.

Ann Taylor blouse (old), similar / thrifted denim skirt / Clarks Elsa Purity wedges

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fun with Fakery: Color Contacts

I've always had a bit of a fascination with color contacts. It's not that I don't like my naturally dark brown eyes, I do...very much. In fact, I look best with my natural eye color, as do most people. But just the idea that you can temporarily change your eye color as you would your underpants just seems, And sometimes, it's just nice to do things that are fun, if only for fun's sake.

I like to think of color contacts as an accessory, to be played-with, enjoyed, talked about, and then put back in the case when it's time to play tennis or do something serious. I don't wear regular contacts, so the feeling of something on my eyeball is, at this stage in my life, purely for recreational purposes.

The thing about color contacts is that they look different on everyone. While there's a whole host of YouTube videos out there with various people reviewing and comparing the different brands of contacts. With a few exceptions, most of them are under 30 or doing drag. In other words, you probably won't find anyone who looks like you....if your "you" is like my "me" know...older. But does that matter? Meh, probably not really.  It depends on what you really want to do with your fake eyeballs, I suppose. I've found that in my 40's, the dramatic makeup I would have worn with a color contact when I was in my 20's no longer works, and with my ever-increasingly silver hair, the lighter the contact, the more zombie-like I look. That's the thing about color contacts, especially on dark eyes. They will never, ever look natural, especially upon close inspection. The lighter the contact, the deader the zombie. You simply have to ask yourself if you care, or if you're just willing to work "a look" for a night. It's a look best worn in lower lighting (like the indoor iPhone snaps I took - pictured above), as harsh outdoor natural light is generally not your friend with any kind of fakery, from contacts to hair dye to foundation.

Personally, I actually like the idea of looking a little post-apocalyptic. In fact, if anyone who works on The Walking Dead is reading this, it is my deepest desire to be a zombie in an episode or two. I'm not kidding. I've seen every single zombie movie George "Godfather of the Dead" Romero has ever made. I'm a natural. I've been practicing my walk, I have the right hair, a full set of teeth for gnashing, and will even bring my own contacts. Call me.

How to Rock (Possibly Zombie-Like) Color Contacts in Your 40s

*Low lighting situations are the best place to wear color contacts
*Wear a defined brow, especially if your hair is light or white
*The eyes are the focus, so liner is a must (but not too much)
*Go easy on the rest of your makeup, or you'll look nuts
*Stagger around room with arms extended moaning "braaaaaiins..."

My fake eyes: Solotica Natural Color contacts in Quartzo

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Enough Already.

See? This is why we can't have nice things.

Lately, the weather in Scotland has been bad...bad like a really bad boyfriend. It will be lovely for a few days, then all of the sudden turn dark and sullen and go on a bender where it behaves downright belligerently for a while. A good long while. Then, it gives you just a wee glimmer of hope, only to disappoint you yet again. It's constantly disappointing you, keeping you walking on eggshells. You're constantly wondering how it's going to react in any situation, leaving you in a constant state of worry that it might explode and make a scene, which it can do in unparalleled fashion. After a while it wears you down; you just decide to cut your losses and stop trying to wear your nice clothes, make the time to style your hair, or put on anything that isn't a rubber Wellie boot. It's a toxic and controlling sartorial confidence underminer, and if it were a human we would all be running out and getting a restraining order.

It was my hope today to show you this thrifted merino wool fabric swing cardigan that my Mom gave me, but I have neither enough light nor patience to wait out what is quickly becoming the second coming of winter. It's not really been warm enough yet this year to wear the shorts and skirts that you have seen me in of late, but I've been putting on a brave face in the hopes that the weather would take the hint. Screw it, I'm going inside. Seriously, enough already.

What's the antidote to weather like this? (No, not booze, although that sounds pretty good right now) Bling. That's what. I may be stuck wearing nothing but rubber boots and gore-tex when I'm brave enough to want to go outside, but this weather calls for a bit of bling. Take that weather, you insufferable wretch.

thrifted merino cardigan / thrifted denim skirt, similar / Homebase garden Wellies, similar / Ebay necklace (old), similar / Judith Ripka stud earrings, similar

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bee Handy With Clip-On Earrings

This is my second collaboration with Eternal Collection, and I freely admit, when my Honey Bee Enamel and Crystal earrings arrived, I let out a little squee of delight.  If you've been reading a while, you'll already know that the way to my heart is to basically slap an animal on anything. If that animal (okay fine, insect) happens to be a 3-D rendition with gold, enamel, and bling...well. That is just beyond.

There's just something so delightfully retro about these bee earrings, not the least of which is that they are actually clip-ons. Although I have pierced ears, I often find myself of two minds when faced with the prospect of a lovely pair of earrings that turn out to be clip-ons (this happens a lot if you like to hit the vintage shops). On the one hand, a clip-on earring will always sit well (if it fits properly) and gives your look a polished, ladylike feel. They can look especially edgy when worn with something dressed-down like a white tank and ripped jeans.

However, I always had this sort of foreboding sense about clip-ons, as I'm sure many of you do. Most of them will be based on experience. I cannot think of a woman I know who does not share in the experience of a painfully tight clip-on earring, or a too-loose one that never hangs right (if it hangs on at all). And remember those screw-on earrings? Omigod. I can't even with the throbbing ear pain.

As it turns out, Eternal Collection knows a thing or two about clip-on earrings, including how to adjust them to actually fit your ears. They've made videos showing you exactly how it's done, and they will even customise their clip-on earrings (and their pierced earrings, for that matter) with the fitting of your choice! This is great news, as many times I have walked away from a pair of earrings I really liked because I didn't like the back fittings. What's more, I imagine you could even use the techniques in the video to adjust any of your your omega-back pierced earrings! This is like a revelation for me, and the only thing I can even think of to say is why the heck didn't someone show me this sooner!?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Up Where We Belong

You have the song in your head already. You know the one. The Will Jennings Song from An Officer and a Gentleman. It's going to be in your head all day. You're welcome.

I am of course referring to the royal we in up where we belong...and by we I mean our. And by our I mean our waistbands. They belong UP HERE. Can I have a hallelujah for the return of higher waistbands? Louder, I can't hear you. (I'm in the Highlands, remember?)

Seriously, let's look at these for a second. I'm not talking about your front-pleated, poochy-crotchal-regioned, flat-asstic-Mom-jeans kind of high waistbands. I'm simply referring to a nice, respectable flat-fronted waistband that sits on your natural waist, that actually feels comfortable, hides a multitude of sins, and that doesn't show off 6 cm of crevasse derrière every time you sit down. Thank God. Finally. Plus, higher waistbands = longer-looking legs. See? I'm actually only 5'2".

Okay, that's a total lie. But still. Higher waistbands people. Check them out. Set yourselves free.

thrifted blouse, similar / Zara shorts / thrifted shoes, similar / thrifted scarf, similar / Eternal Collection Earrings (more to come on these) / Ray Ban sunglasses

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Wisconsin Travel Companion

Greetings internet dwellers! My apologies for the slight delay in programming, I am just picking-up the pieces from my recent trip back home to America's cheese and beer capitol. An interesting sartorial note; they now make the traditional Wisconsin cheesehead wedge hat in a top hat version! It's about time. Those of us who know fashion know that there are times when a wedge is just not appropriate. 

On a different note, this visit, I went with my sister to one of our home state's biggest attractions - The House on the Rock. Even though we were born and raised in Wisconsin, we had never had the occasion to go there, so we decided to make an afternoon of it. It is the understatement of the century to say that we were not prepared for what we saw. I may very well have nightmares for the rest of my days due to some of the creeptacular things we witnessed at The House on the Rock, and I hasten to add here that we got there late, and didn't even have time to see the whole thing. 

The history of The House on the Rock is sort of up for grabs on the Internet, but Wikipedia does a pretty good job of representing all of the theories floating around out there. Built by eccentric bajillionaire Alex Jordan Jr., the truth about its inspiration is probably never going to be fully understood, but one theory (and the one that I believe over all others) is that its entire existence is likely owed to two things: 1.) Jordan was an unrepentant collector obtainer of all things weird or otherwise (and when he couldn't obtain an original piece he apparently just made a reproduction in his workshop), and 2.) that the house was probably meant to piss-off Frank Lloyd Wright, whose legendary home and school Taliesin are very close by, and whose influence is undeniable in Jordan's work. Wright's original Taliesin burned-down when a disgruntled employee set fire to it and murdered 6 people...he rebuilt it (but I digress...that's another great tale for another time). Both of these houses are located within a stone's throw of each other in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and both are open to the public to this day.

The House on the a Rock is built on the very tip top of a cliff face called Deer Shelter Rock. Apparently Jordan liked to picnic there back in the day. Like his alleged idol/rival (depending on what you read) Frank Lloyd Wright, the house is heavily influenced by Japanese architecture and the natural environment. House on the Rock is like a sort-of charicature of Taliesin; a grotesque and less-precisely-aligned version that could be Wright's house reflected back in a fun house mirror. However, there is one element of House on the Rock that cannot help but impress. A very long, narrow "room" (it's more of a walkway, really) called the Infinity Room juts out from the house, extending 218 feet out from the precipice of the cliff, and 156 feet above the forest ground below, all with no visible supporting beams underneath the structure. 

But that is probably where the architectural wonderment begins and ends at House on the Rock. Unlike Wright's Taliesin (a house you could easily see yourself living in) the House on the Rock is more of a vessel for the former owner's hoard...collections, and is as dark and foreboding as Wright's designs are timeless and light-filled. In fact, it was impossible for me to imagine spending more time in there than had already elapsed three minutes into the tour. The rooms are dark, often lit by tiny cracks of what little natural light is allowed-in from the bits of the house that have settled, and that little light is augmented by red indirect lighting. Yes, red, for extra creepiness. Apparently that's how Jordan liked it. 

The "collections" themselves are a sort of hodgepodge of artefacts cramped together in inexplicable arrangements, and there is an overwhelming smell of such a strong combination of damp, rodent pee, and whatever spray they used to try to get rid of said damp and rodent pee that my sister and I literally ran, giddy with hypoxia through the first part of the exhibit, relishing the little break you get on one of the outdoor terraces way more than one should only fifteen minutes into a tour. Upon returning to the inside of the house, we were met with old books in poor condition that line the cavern-like walls and extend up three three flights of stairs. It's impossible to know which items are genuine collected artefacts and which are the reproductions that Jordan was known for, because nothing is labelled; there are no writeups about any of the artefacts, leading one to believe that more of it is probably created than collected. Items ranging from faux Tiffany lamps and Faberge eggs to gnomes, Buddhas, and statues of Jesus that stare out at you from every corner are all at your disposal. There is thick carpet, yes...carpet on most of the floors that gives the whole place a haunted 70's evil shag pad vibe (and likely accounts for much of the smell), yet it somehow makes the place seem less inhabitable and cozy than if they had just left the bare stone floors exposed. It's like at any moment, Austin Powers' evil doppelgänger will materialise in front of you in an ascot and smoking jacket and offer you a spiked drink from a poison chalice. I don't scare easily, but I have never been in a space that left me feeling as unsettled as this one. Ever. And that is exactly why my sister and I can't wait to go back and see the whole thing. 

What's even more enticing (or repellent, if you're not freaks like us), is the fact that there was a lot that we didn't see that day. Rooms full of musical instruments that play themselves. Creepy dioramas with mannequins. "The World's Largest Carousel" made-up completely of plastic baby dolls and floating mannequins, and a stories-high sea monster, just to name a few. These attractions were all added later-on, after the initial house was built and opened to the public (when Jordan realised that people would pay to see this stuff) back in 1959. 

If you want an educational day out to see a historical part of American architectural heritage, give House on the Rock a miss and head straight for Taliesin, which is superior architecturally, aesthetically, and most likely olfactorally (is that a word?). However, if you're looking for a fun day out in some beautiful country, and are the type that likes a good freak-out, then you simply must visit The House on the Rock. Seriously, this place is off the hook. Just give yourself some time to recover. My suggestion is the New Glarus Spotted Cow Farmhouse Ale, sold only in Wisconsin. That fixed us right up.  


Monday, May 4, 2015

Ya Gotta Love Ebay

Greetings shoppers! If this backdrop looks a little different than my usual one, it's because I'm actually currently in the USA visiting family. I had a quick minute to take these snaps to show you my new Michael Kors jacket. And by new, I mean that I found it on Ebay. So you know..."new." I've always loved a bouclé jacket, and this one is a perfect fit (luckily, because as we all know, with Ebay you're buying something you haven't tried on). I see myself pairing this with ripped-up jeans, or even shorts...basically all manner of things I didn't bring with me on this trip. I think it's important with bouclé to not style it too...Madame (to once again use Kors' own phraseology).

Right. I'm off. There's thrifting to be done here and happily, it's actually a little too hot for this jacket today.

This post has been happily shared with Elegantly Dressed and Stylish