Tuesday, March 1, 2016

my mother's brooches

I am going through my jewelry drawer to find broken, orphaned, boring costume jewelry for a local workshop on upcycling such things, offered by Tanglewood Works.

I opened the box holding my mother's brooches and began to cry. The week has started on a rocky note and unearthing one of the many, many collections of things I have of my mother's pushed me over the edge, yet comforted, hence the tears.

My mother loved brooches: on a blazer lapel, to hold a scarf in place, on her hand-knitted wool coats.

In her honor, like an pseudo-OCD meditation, I sorted the little collection. Five distinct categories are clear.

1. The ceramic, usually obtained from local Sydney artists, such as Vicki Grima:

2. The museum shop pieces:

3. The travel souvenirs:

4. The family heirlooms:

5. Her Sydney roots:

One question: what is that delicate little chain on the antique/vintage brooches for? I have yet to grasp its use. Extra security in case the main clasp gives? A way to attach two sides of, say, a scarf? I could use the Internet, I suppose, but I prefer to simply pose the question and ponder possibilities.

Re-boxing the brooches. Must remember I can take them out and wear them myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

last hurrah of my layers

French Courtship Slip
(Mine is a mint green.)
I am loving a few cold spring days in a row because I love my layers. I did not complain about our extended winter, and I fear the heat of the coming summer.

I built the outfit on the mint-green lace maxi slip from Free People. I knew I wanted to wear it, and have not worn it enough, but how?

Underneath, I wore a body-conscious black and white knit mini dress, found at a thrift store but originally from H&M. And a pair of black-grey textured tights. Over the top of the maxi slip, I pulled on a light cotton black sweater with a nice subtly open knit, one without a label, also found at a thrift store years ago. I love how the sleeves cover my hands to the knuckles.

The black lace-up ankle boots, found in the Anthropologie clearance, from CoupleOf, a, Israel-based brand that creates fun, often vintage-inspired footwear. A close up of a pair in brown:
The leather coat? Vintage 1980s Spiegel, found for less than $10 at the thrift store, and a light pink cashmere-silk blend scarf originally from Bloomingdale's, also a thrift store find.

So happy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

colors in black

Death Becomes Her, a show exhibited this past fall (2014) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was a must-see the day before I ran the New York City Marathon. I was in my hometown, I love the Met, I enjoy clothing, and I am drawn to the dark and even morbid in art, fashion and design.

I came away with this post card, a close up on the details of a mourning dress from the early 1900s.

The different fabric textures catch and reflect the light. The loop details make me thing of links in a metal chain. In the black, I can see reds, yellows, browns, and even silver in the shimmer.

I wanted to paint something using the textured, hourglass image. I wasn't sure where the inspiration would take me.

Yesterday, I retrieved the postcard from a pile-o-inspiration. I should paint in oil, I thought; if I am using a lot of black, it had better be rich in color.

A round wood plate offered a place to start. So far, I blocked in the shape, the basic colors. I am not sure how literal it will remain.

It will end up as a wall hanging or even tea tray. What it will look like in the end is unknown for now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

in progress

I wing it. Okay, okay, I do know how to handle (many of) my materials, but they can be unpredictable, I often pick up something new to try, and mistakes sometimes lead to necessary fixes or interesting ends.

I jump in, sometimes with just a color or pattern in mind.

A friend gave me a worn wooden salad bowl. It was nothing special, and not even vintage, simply plain, old secondhand (originally from Pier One, then unearthed in a thrift store, yeah...).

I had saved some black and white striped tissue paper (because I save and reuse things), thinking of decoupage possibilities down the line.

I pictured the exterior of the bowl covered, haphazardly, asymmetrically, with the paper.

I didn't know where I was going to go from there. I jumped in, cut up the paper, and broke out the Modge Podge. I discovered that tissue paper requires a delicate hand, and that it wrinkles and crinkles in an unexpected way.

The black and white was not enough, I thought, when done applying the paper. I turned to my acrylic paints and blocked out stripes and shapes in grey, midnight blue and pink. Then I highlighted, defined, sharpened those with crimson, green, and turquoise.

The paint not only served an aesthetic purpose, but also a practical one, covering any seams or tears I did not like.

Here I am now. Not done, but getting there, in progress.

Next? Sealing the decoupage and painting with more Modge Podge, then layers of polyurethane for durability. And then sanding the interior and conditioning it with food-safe oil,

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

rare spring layering

By mid-May in the DC region, I am usually abandoning layers, drying my tears at giving up boots,
stockings and cardigans. But spring is sticking around for a wee bit, and I am smiling. I believe I would be content living where is it always between 35 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but I grew up surrounded by the tall buildings and asphalt of New York City and now live in the swamp of the DC region. Sweltering summers are expected, unavoidable, yet I despise them every year.

Ah, but last week, I wore a mini black trapeze dress with a pink cotton slip, light grey, pink polka-dotted, sweater-style tights, black chunky-heeled ankle boots, and a vintage black crocheted cardigan. I was comfortable, I was happy. And I am rarely just happy (too dark for a frivolous fashion post? Ah, well).

I am a petite gal, lean but not skinny, cute enough, and I like my clothes, but I confess that I sweat easily (blame goes to my father’s genes). I am a runner, too, so these summers really hurt. I keep going, but with sweat dripping off my elbows, my shoes sweat-soaked by the time I am done. I clean up well, but still.

This unusual temperate weather is already fading. What to wear when the 90-degree, 80% humidity days come, oh, very soon (today!)? Since I run hot, I must strip down to tanks and light cotton skirts. No layers. I hang my head, resigned.

But maybe, just maybe, something like this could be summer-friendly.

PS: If you are so inclined, you can get my layered look:

(bought on sale from FP a year ago)

(mine is a cottony jersey; I can't remember where I found it)

(mine is chunkier and has large black buttons, bought at a thrift store)
Betsey Johnson Sweater Tights
(Mine are the grey version of these)
Vince Camuto Black Suede Boots
(My lace ups are from a thrift dtore)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

somewhat grown-up grunge

My personal style takes a lot from the grunge style of the early 1990s. Hell, I was 20 in 1991, so I even have some clothes from that era. I should instead write: "My style preserves and incorporates elements of early 1990s grunge." Whatever.

Today, I wear a silky black and white dot-print shirt dress with grey and burgundy striped thigh-high socks and grey lace-up boots (from Born, and they look like I always hoped Docs would but never did on me). A somewhat grown-up grunge look:

You can barely see my vintage silver and onyx scarab beetle pendant, and not visible are the Ming blossom button earrings, silver enameled with a pearly-white resin, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art shop. (Love that shop.)

See? We Gen Xers can still play with our clothes.

The Slippery Crockery shop has a bunch of early 1990s items, including a black velvet mini dress with a flocked rose design, a flowing floral navy blue silk dress, and even a pair of Steve Madden shoes, a classic chunky pair from the early 1990s.

Play with your style, update the vintage, and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"these socks, those earrings"

Glenda Adams, late 1980s, Sydney, Australia
My mother, Glenda Adams, died five years ago today. I am her only child, and she was an amazing mother. While our tastes are different, she and I shared a love of clothing and a sense of personal style. She is a well-known Australian writer; I keep a blog about reading her writing here.

In an interview she had with Jan Hutchinson in the October 1988 issue of the journal Fine Line, they talk about whether her writing is autobiographical, morality in her writing, whether writing is political, women and writing, and my mother's two novels (at the time) Games of the Strong and Dancing on Coral.

But my mother also gets a chance to talk about clothing (because Games of the Strong includes a conflict about shorts and petticoats):

"Well, that's in a lot of my stories. What you wear. Nothing much has changed. We take as much care throwing together something casual. We choose quite carefully our tops and bottoms. These socks, those earrings. I feel that to think happily about clothes is quite a wonderful thing and it's been mistaken for -- given the fifties and sixties and the women's movement -- a sign of low self-esteem that you have to doll yourself up. You can also see it as a sign of extraordinary self-esteem. To decorate yourself with some confidence seems to me to be a wonderful urge. And not one that was encouraged in us young Australian women, especially if you were supposed to be good at your school work, which is sad for girls."

Of the many lessons she taught me? Play with and enjoy your clothing.