May 29, 2011

The other men in my life

Recently Mike left town for a few days, and I was home alone. Well, not entirely alone because these other two men were with me in the house. I find them so striking and stylish. But they can't cook me breakfast.

We borrowed this Stravinsky record from our dear friend Rachel. For months I would look at this man and sort of swoon. I mean, those shades. Plus a big fur collar and a hat? So good. Despite those droopy jowls, I can see why Chanel needed to get a piece. 

Then there is Man Ray who lives in our bathroom inside a box mounted onto the wall.

We put up the boxes for more shelving. I thought I was so clever to put a half-shaved Man in with my man's shaving supplies.

I guess I have a thing for men with good style and intense faces.

May 25, 2011

Greener on the Other Side

During winter I bought my first piece of Issey Miyake, this forest green velvet skirt with turquoise backing and lots of wrinkly details:

During winter I also spent a lot of time staring at this plant in my kitchen, thinking about wearing the combination of dark bluish green with yellow-green.

I've had this Zero Maria Cornejo tank top for a while, yet had not figured out how to wear it. Inspired by my succulent I dreamed of this outfit:

Speaking of succulents, we are moving to the other side, where they really are always greener. I'll miss going out to Tin Fish on Lake Calhoun in the spring, and seeing these vibrant budding leaves on the big trees. But this green is far too temporary for me. In less cryptic terms, we are moving back to California, this time to San Francisco. And here is another outfit with this skirt, taken before eating delicious foods.

I call this silhouette the "reverse hourglass," and I'm A-OK with it.


Boxy ribbed cashmere tank top, goes with everything.

Ideal long skirt hem length for my lifestyle + soft, cozy, old loafers

May 19, 2011

For Keeps

Just a quick post to share a few things:
1) These are my first pair of colorful denim, a recent purchase from the Gap. 
2) This outfit has been a standard for me this spring. // This is how I dressed to do semi-professional life tasks at the University or to attend various meetings.
3) My ClareVivier bag (a gift, detailed here) is aging beautifully and remains the perfect size/shape/strap configuration for most of my days. I've used it regularly for a little over a year now.

I also have to thank Michael for this shirt. It is such an ideal fabric and I wear it constantly. 

Right now is a time of Major Life Changes, which is also a time for reflection. Without getting too personal, I can say that in this outfit I see things coming together. I had very few possessions 3 years ago - some of you will recall that everything we owned came with us to MN via a tiny Volkswagen hatchback. These things that I chose to bring into my life in Minnesota will remain and age with me, and will work nicely with the new. I have things that will ease the transition into a new phase, but certainly do not have all the necessities for the unknowns yet to come. My confidence and assured sense that all will remain OK has a lot to do with the strong foundations I've established for myself in the past 3 years, when I went from just barely having the essentials, to knowing the nature of the space I want to carve out for myself in this difficult physical, material, living world.

I appreciate all of you -- commenters and non-vocal viewers -- who read along and appreciate hearing about my process of living. Well, at least the tiny lil parts I share through talking about clothes.

May 18, 2011

Upgrade U, Part 2

Adding to yesterday's post about updating the shoes, I also got these new (used, via etsy) beauties. A flat summer sandal is pretty much an essential. I love the white straps so much. Not a gladiator, not really delicate or femme, and just maybe, sorta Ann D, no? In any case, they are ready for heavy use.

Before buying these a couple weeks ago I owned only one pair of truly flat, basic, practical leather summer sandals. This is a shoe genre that I know I will always need. Those plastic jellies, wedges, platforms (no matter how flat or thin), and especially heeled sandals will never compare to their usefulness and versatility.

These have been the most perfect, go-to, for long hot days, going swimming, going to the park, BBQ, walking everywhere, getting wet, muddy, dirty, gravel in my toes, summer shoes. I have had them since HIGH SCHOOL. And have worn them until the straps stretched out and things like this are happening, again. 

Three years ago, I salvaged them by having the soles glued back on at a shoe repair shop. Now I believe they are reaching their end, since the straps are stretched and water damaged and are starting to constantly slip off my foot when I walk. I mean, they are looking pretty busted at this point.

It's all good because i bought them for fifty cents at my first ever "job" -- court-ordered community service at a church-run thrift store because I was bad. I believe that was... *doing the math*... 9-10 years ago now?? Mental HOLY SHIT moment just commenced. 

Here is a picture of how I dressed IRL yesterday with the new shoes!
w/ Fifth Ave Shoe Repair dress, ClareVivier bag, vintage belt.

May 17, 2011

Upgrade U

Springtime has become my favorite time for wardrobe updating (and also for blogging). After winter, I see clearly what is working as a long term staple and what needs to be upgraded, thrown out, or replaced. (Also, my apartment gets enough light for decent photos.)

I recently did some upgrading on my shoe lineup. While these aren't really "spring" shoes necessarily, the situation with these oxfords was getting out of hand.


I've had these for only about a year. I bought them used on etsy, so I didn't have the clearest sense of the quality of the materials or their overall condition. I wore them regularly for the past year letting them get pretty beat up, and now there is this.

On my wardrobe "to-do" list, which includes things like repairing that gold watch so that it actually keeps time, was to either have these resoled or to replace them. I was on the fence about resoling because they are not that nice of a shoe to begin with.


The solution was immediately clear to me when I came across these Calvin Klien Collection (that's right, the collection - not jeans, nor cK) slip-ons on the Outnet for 75% off, with only one left, in my size. I trust in serendipity to guide me way too often in life.

When the box came I immediately went into regret-for-spending-any-money-at-all-while-mostly-broke-guilt mode. I decided to wear them out, eliminating the ability to return. That morning I was complemented on them by a sweet young woman. And while I don't live for approval from the general public, sweet compliments always help assuage buyers guilt.

I think I made a good decision.

May 15, 2011


Inspired by Proenza, this summer I'm all about exploring prints and knee length (not skintight) shorts. (Reference here.)

During our spring that never was (meaning: it stayed fucking cold here till nowish minus that one 80+ degree day with humidity and golf ball sized hail and tornado sirens) I had time to get all the necessities for a summer of weirdness.

So, these are my new crazy pants. Bought em on the etsy.

I will be wearing them this week in perfectly beautiful weather. I also found my linen shirt w/ vent. I'm already so happy I bought this shirt last summer. I can see it working with everything during this summer, too.

As you can see above I gave up on the stupid tripod and put the camera in the window. Sometimes this shit really does feel idiotic. I mean the self-portraiture, not the pants. Those clearly rule. 

May 9, 2011

The More You Know: Tokio Kumagai

One of my favorite things about the internet is learning more history of fashion tidbits. Today I was searching for some images of Anne Marie Beretta designs, which led me to a page for Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century. This book proved to be a fantastic scroll. Plenty o' images. 

This page in particular caught my eye. I went on to learn that Tokio Kumagai lived from 1948-1987, attended the Bunka Fashion College (alumni including Kenzo Takada, Yohji Yamamoto and Tsumori Chisato), then worked in Paris for Castlebajac and in Italy for Cerruti before opening his shoe boutique in 1980.  

His 1984 "Shoes to Eat" collection seems to be among the most internet archived. In addition to the beans and rice and sundae shoes above, he made meat shoes.

He also created shoes with faces, legs, race cars, geese, and mice.

And while the shoes that look like things that are not shoes are a nice lil piece of fashion history, Kumagai also made timeless and fully wearable t-straps, oxfords, and slip on flats in basic colors. The best catalog of his work is on this page, Hommage à Tokio Kumagai, which includes some clothing and vintage editorials as well as many more shoes. 

Aside from reinforcing my belief that neither Gaga nor Marc Jacobs have ever had an original idea (but maybe no one does anymore, so it's fine), tonight's internet fashion history moment has given me another Japanese fashion designer to admire and add to my searches on etsy and ebay. Turns out these were once available on the former:
Which bring me to a different topic: Would you buy a used shoe this stretched out and dirty? I'm on the hypothetical fence.

May 3, 2011

Foraging for Luxury

This dress is one of my favorite shapes: round on top. Please pardon my face, I'm very congested right now. 

I'm mostly interested wearing it in a casual minimal-hippie style, which is my vibe for spring. More on that later. (It all started with these Birkenstocks.) But it can be dressed up with a chic pair of 9 West block heels and I'm ready for a fancy night out to dinner and a lot of walking, because with this wide of a foot bed, I don't have to worry about pinched toes at all.

From creepy to classy!

The neckline is high in the front but drapes down slightly across the back to reveal upper shoulder blade. And yes, the one where I'm coughing was the best shot. I'm currently in that phase of sickness where mouth breathing is the only option.


Unintentional Versatility?
^^ There is a hidden zipper along the side hem for putting on and taking off.
However, a zipper is always an opportunity. In this case it means I also have a voluminous tee.


As I was telling you, this item is a nice one. I'm pretty into owning it. I found it secondhand and seeing the label made my heart skip a beat. But I would have bought it regardless of tag based on the cut, feel of the fabric, and overall quality. I have a process when rummaging for nice things, which I thought I might share.

Thrift, consignment, and resale shops can be overwhelming, like a task. You need to go in with a plan. I love this dress for the cut, but you can't see that on a rack stuffed with secondhand garments. And a butterscotch sleeve on a thin hanger might not catch your eye, but this fabric feels incredible.

Tip 1 = Shop with your hands not your eyes. Fondle your way down the rack touching everything, pausing when you feel luxury or high quality fabrics. Get to know the difference. This will instantly cut down on how long it takes you to get through a round of thrifting and increase the odds you don't skip nice things.

After you have paused over a nice-feeling item, pull it out and even without a label you can know how well it's made by the stitching.

Here is the neck opening. This flap that lines the inside is nicely finished and the overlock part is tucked under, out of sight.

Tip 2 = Turn (or imagine) the garment inside out. Nice things look as finished on the inside as they do on the outside.

The sleeves look like they've been hemmed an inch (I kinda think they originally came this way), but a piece had come undone and was hanging down. I've never done an invisible hem before, but I liked the shorter sleeve length better than letting it out. So I copied what remained of the hem, and as a non-sewer I'm pretty proud of myself.

When I got inside the sleeve I was impressed by the finishing. The seam on the right side of the picture is the one that runs under the armpit and down the side of the dress. The stitching is completely finished on the inside with no overlock stitch showing.

I learned these things buying secondhand clothing at my old job, where I was trained by my husband, who also sometimes used to blog here. (Illicit workplace romance!) We had to read this book, Secondhand Chic, as a work assignment. The book looks cheesy at first glance but it's filled with good information. These lessons stayed with me and I still think of them whenever I go thrifting.

Is this helpful or shit everyone else already knows? I'm sorry, I've been a teacher this year and it may be affecting my brain.