A Return to Fashion: Leather & Lace

I must say, that was a much longer hiatus from my blogging than usual! I confess that I have been dressing up just as much as ever and simply not grabbing the camera, so now that I recently acquired my first smartphone (iphone 4s) there can be no more excuses.

I’ve always been a sucker for lace and flattering peplum tops. All of the spring shopping to find new clothes for my mother, who recently lost quite a lot of weight, exposed me to numerous lovely pieces at Ann Taylor Loft. Chiefest among these temptations was the following two-tone lace blouse, which the staff was putting out with a bunch of new stock during one of our productive shopping trips. The regular sizes in this top were hilariously long waisted, so I had to wait a few weeks for the petite size which fits my body much better. Add to that the hard and soft aesthetic with leather boots over jeans and some studded accessories, just right for a cool early spring day.

Ode to cool weather just before spring turned hot and humid.

Ode to cool weather just before spring turned hot and humid.

Seed petal earrings by Tangleweeds on Etsy, gifted / Jewelmint brass Pulsar Necklace / Loft black and cream Lace Peplum Shell / We Dream in Colour blue glass bracelet, gifted / La Mer Collections purple studded wrap watch, from ideeli / Levi’s jean leggings / Born distressed patent leather brown Andersyn boots

I’ve started wearing a lot more gold tone jewelry, mostly on the brassy or muted side.  Also, some of my universally eschewed colors are creeping into my closet. When I participated in ModCloth.com’s last Stylish Surprise (blind-box style deeply discounted merch) one of the surprise size L items I received was a pink peplum top with loud neon embellishments around the collar. While at first I was put off by the color, it grew on me. Perhaps, as Tim  Gunn says, I’ve been in the monkey house too long but I put together an outfit with it anyway.

Different color story for me.

Different color story for me.

Anthropologie floral headband / gold Paths of Flight Earrings from Anthropologie / Jewel Have a Ball Top by Alice Moon, from ModCloth / Jewelmint two-tone Double Jaguar Bangle / my trusty ombre Dawned on You Jeans by Angry Rabbit, from ModCloth / red Indigo by Clarks mary jane pumps

In early May it was time again for the spring shows at the Craft Guild of Dallas, and I usually try to present myself well. So when I got home and noticed my cardigan was buttoned crooked, I had to laugh at myself. Good thing I had just fastened it shortly before leaving the event.

Lopsided cardigan alert!

Lopsided cardigan alert!

Vermeil and ruby jade earrings, handmade / iridescent Austrian crystal choker, heirloom / Effie’s Heart monochrome jersey Dolce Vita dress, from ModCloth / pointelle Shimmer Palette Cardigan by Knitted & Knotted, from Anthropologie / Time Will Rebel Watch from ModCloth / Jewelmint Gold Swan Cuff / red Impulse flats by Fluevog

I love mixing greyscale with red and purple, with a little added sparkle from the crystal choker and silver-shot cardigan bodice. The dress has a bulky waist sash, which I may forego under cardigans in the future, but other than that I rather liked the overall outfit.

I’m the head planner for an upcoming bachelorette party, for which I made a great many decorations and delightful plans. After the event I’ll spill my guts about the sizable artistic contribution in all its glory! TTFN.

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Open-back Damask & Scallop Shell Batik

As Spring advances I’m excited to break out the bolder, lighter dresses. One of my favorite designers, called Closet, is frequently available on sale for 50% off or better with coupons from Dorothy Perkins. Last time I ordered I picked up a black lace-back dress and this simpler black and gold baroque printed dress, both cotton frocks by Closet. A little peekaboo from the deep V back of the following dress doesn’t dip quite low enough to expose standard undergarments in an otherwise simple silhouette.

Simple a-line damask printed cotton dress.

Simple a-line damask printed cotton dress.

Paths of Flight Earrings from Anthropologie / gold damask Closet dress from Dorothy Perkins / La Mer Collections studded wrap watch / Jewelmint brass Sundial Bangle /ombre blue to black tights from TJ Maxx / Jessica Simpson black leather Tannere pumps from Amazon

Just the right amount of back exposure.

Just the right amount of back exposure.

I usually order the next size up, a UK 14/US 10-12, but due to unavailability I took a risk with a UK 12. It’s snug around the ribs but perfect everywhere else, fortunately. The overall movie date look called for a subdued color pop from the degrade tights and a touch of pyramid studs in the watch and ankle straps. Perhaps it veered a little too flashy for the occasion but I don’t mind.

After repairing the sleeves and finding a suitable waist belt.

After repairing the sleeves and finding a suitable waist belt.

I’ve also been involved in a lovely generous gesture in one of my swap groups, called a Pay it Forward or PIF. Basically, a member of the group offered to ship a cute dress that she wasn’t using to someone who wanted it. I lucked out with one of these lovely offers and received a scallop sea shell batik shirt dress by another awesome UK brand, Sugarhill Boutique, that only needed some minor sleeve repair. It was such an ideal opportunity because the dress has a unique look and attitude compared with the rest of my closet.

That's right, it's a perfect hat dress!

That’s right, it’s a perfect hat dress!

Goorin Bros. blue and orange Lady Carrie fedora / Lionette orange lab coral and rhinestone fan Deco Earrings / Sugarhill Boutique scallop shell batik shirt dress from a PIF / gold-filled and jade crystal necklace, gifted / JCPenney red belt / La Mer Collections studded wrap watch / brass bangles / HUE textured black tights, eBayed / studded black leather Kenneth Cole Reaction purse / Miz Mooz leather cutout folded cuff Daffodil ankle boots

It's a wee bit shorter than I'd like, but cute otherwise.

It’s a wee bit shorter than I’d like, but cute otherwise.

In addition to looking right with a hat, a certain mix of casual with fancy touches like gold buttons and gathering make for an effortless dress. The rayon fabric doesn’t build static with tights like cotton or polyester, either, which qualifies as a major plus! So even though the skirt is short I didn’t have to worry that it might ride up immodestly while I was on my ladies’ day out with one of my best friends to wander at Northpark mall followed by a few cocktails at happy hour. Stay tuned for more springtime attire!

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Mystique of the Tawny Garden Dress

Catalog shot of the Tawny Garden Dress on a model.

Catalog shot of the Tawny Garden Dress on a model.

Hailing from a period of time many Anthropologie customers call “the Golden Age of Anthro,” this jade green silk dress by their house brand Lil (designer Fleur Wood) called the Tawny Garden Dress has a sort of cult following and sustained appeal, making it a classic piece that doesn’t come up for resale too often. I received it as a much-coveted birthday gift in 2008 from my mother and it has easily stood the test of time in my closet of dresses. To this day the dress, which is pinned to my closet on Pinterest, gets re-pinned on a nearly weekly basis: currently a total of 75 times. From weddings to dinner dates I find the dress as appealing and relevant as ever.

As seen on the Anthropologie website when it was avaiable.

As seen on the Anthropologie website when it was available. Click on the photo to see the Anthro item page.

During the 2009 engagement photography session with my now-husband Aaron, I donned the fabulous frock for about half of the photos. See the entire post featuring photos from the occasion at photographer Brandi Thompson’s blog HERE. At the time I was a little more slender with a smaller bust so the bodice fit more loosely than the model photo. Nonetheless the soft jade color and gold floral appliques coupled with the open neckline and plunging v-back still inspire my adoration.

Engagement photo by Brandi Thompson.

Engagement photo by Brandi Thompson.

Another image from the same session, not on the blog but one of my personal favorites.

 

Saturated color makes the greens pop.

Saturated color makes the greens pop.

For this past Valentine’s Day, 5 years later, hubby and I went to dinner a few days after the holiday. That way we always avoid the crazy crowds but can still use the occasion as an excuse to be romantic. I pulled the dress out, afraid it wouldn’t fit since I’m a dress size larger than I was in 2009. Much to my delight it still zipped up albeit a much more sultry effect due to my current bust size. We enjoyed our meal at Japanese restaurant Tei An immensely, from the white seaweed salad with house made pickles (daikon, cucumber, and cabbage) to the uber-fresh sashimi (tuna, flounder, yellowtail, and salmon), then a serving of Wagyu beef fried on a hot rock, a filet of miso-marinated grilled Sawara whitefish, and a final satisfying bowl of handmade crab omelet soba. The lychee citrus martini was certainly no slouch, either. Just thinking about it all makes me salivate.

The current fit of my beloved Lil dress.

The current fit of my beloved Lil dress.

Jeweled skinny headband from a 3-piece Anthropologie Charmed Headband Set / heirloom gold, diamond, and opal jewelry / Plenty by Tracy Reese glorious Ruched Marigold Coat (shown in next photo) / Tawny Garden Dress by Lil from Anthropologie / Ted Baker watch, from RueLaLa / handmade yellow opal bracelet / Abounding Vines Ring with blue topaz from James Avery / Fig 2 mary jane pumps with Haruyo Morita artwork from Icon Shoes

I also love this retro coat from Plenty by Tracy Reese.

I also love this retro coat from Plenty by Tracy Reese.

In my wedding shoes and another gorgeous piece originally sold from Anthropologie, the Ruched Marigold Coat, I felt like a million bucks. My mister gifted me a beautiful ring from James Avery at dinner, as well. When this beloved dress no longer fits, I fully intend to store it in my cedar chest for my daughter (hopefully) or another equally deserving young lady in my future. TTFN!

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Fawn Spots, Pansies, & Periwinkle Damask

Texas winter this year so far meets the usual expectation of hectic variability. The meme you may have seen suggesting that TX has 2 seasons, summer and winter, and that they alternate days during the same week is not that far off in truth. Last week it snowed, then a few days later climbed into the low 60’s. True summer weather can be scorching so I tend to enjoy the temperate winter days, typically toggling between wearing sweaters and skirts. The following day outing ensemble represents the minimum presence of frills and makeup, since a pared down comfy look was the goal.

Dressed for a day of chores.

Dressed for a day of chores.

Molded teal plastic flower earrings from a swap / Foxy Originals enameled floral necklace, gifted / Fawn-semble Sweater by Sugarhill Boutique from ModCloth / Elle skinny pants from Kohl’s / Mia oxblood suede Exhibitt bootie

Check out the adorable wraparound deer.

Check out the adorable wraparound deer.

If you are familiar with my blog you may already be aware of my affection for novelty prints and cute critters on sweaters. The U.K. brand Sugarhill Boutique is on of my favorites from the ModCloth website, although most of my other pieces from the designer feature batik prints. This sweater with a spotted fawn wrapped around one side on grey cotton fits well and feels lovely, easy to care for and adorably understated. A pair of loud pansy floral skinny pants and oxblood flat booties added a much needed pop of color and visual texture.

Hubby found the necklace at a boutique in Portland, OR during a recent vacation.

Hubby found the necklace at a boutique in Portland, OR during a recent vacation.

I find it difficult to bridge warm with cute sometimes but it worked out this time. I still gravitate towards skirts, just not when ice forms outside so much. I also relished a chance to utilize my new vintage gold velvet upholstered armchair, bequeathed from my cousin after moving to a smaller house. She knows how much I adore all things retro, after all!

sbh-fawn3

In honor of a small grill party with some of mine and hubby’s nearest and dearest I switched to flashier and more ladylike garb. In between short stints of frigid weather a bout of mid-50’s graced us just in time for the get-together. Between burgers, chips, a veggie tray, and caprese bites the mister and I socialized and mixed one of our two chosen specialty cocktails for the evening: White Russians and Old-fashioned’s. Never had one? Both qualify as delicious and pretty to look at, check out these stock images which resemble what we served:

Bourbon with orange zest, maraschino, water, and bitters.

Bourbon with orange zest, maraschino, water, and bitters.

Cream with vodka and coffee liquer, 1:1:1 ratio tasted great.

Cream with vodka and coffee liquer, 1:1:1 ratio tasted great.

I would say that my outfit didn’t quite combat the outdoor temperature as thoroughly as I prefer but a little black leather jacket thrown on for stints outside certainly helped. Our small assortment of 10 or so guests drifted between the kitchen, dinner table, back patio, and upstairs apartment so the shindig had a nice active flow.

Freshly cleaned apartment? Why, yes indeed.

Freshly cleaned apartment? Why, yes indeed.

Paths of Flight Earrings from Anthropologie / Kevia necklace from Ideeli / Julianna Rae dewberry silk camisoleEdme & Esyllte tunic with silk trim, Ebayed / Banana Republic white and periwinkle damask skirt from Buffalo Exchange / HUE Plum Frost tights, Ebayed / Born brown patent Andersyn boots

More dramatic eye makeup and elegant details always make me feel pretty.

More dramatic eye makeup and elegant details always make me feel pretty.

Although the tunic has a perfectly flattering fit, cinching in the waist with an elongating v-neckline, I always keep the garment slim on the bottom with tunic tops to keep the overall silhouette lean enough to fend off added aesthetic weight in the hips. A dose of bright, bold damask pattern, sheen from the silk waistband, a few buttons, and lace trim brought the luxe factor with plenty of visual interest while flat feminine boots and easy to wear pieces made it excellent hostess wear.

Another view of what I wore.

Another view of what I wore.

Mixing purples and blues is a no-brainer for me since they’re my favorite colors. It appears that they’re more flattering for my fair skin tone as well, particularly cool and dark teals. I also tend to stick with either black or brown, gold or silver, but on this occasion I had a perfect excuse to mix metallics.

Adornment.

Adornment.

The moonstone and crystal Kevia necklace sports both muted silver and bright gold, so gold-plated brass peacock plume earrings paired perfectly with it. TTFN!

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Throw Back Thursday!

Once upon a time, long before I was born and my mom met my dad, my uncle Rex had a full head of hair. I’m going to venture a guess that this photo is from the ’60’s? Early male pattern baldness had him pretty much tonsured by the end of college, a fact which he still makes no attempt to hide with shaving. Nor should he! Something about the ‘do is so consummately recognizable and that rebellious, unapologetic streak definitely runs in the family. I recently stumbled onto this amazing old photo of him with one of his original bikes. He still hauls his current ride out on his trailer and kicks up some dust as often as possible to this day!

My cool uncle kickin' it with his auto and bike as a young fella.

My cool uncle kickin’ it with his auto and bike as a young fella.

TTFN!

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Eggplant Leather & a Great Maxi Dress

Although I just recently attended my own 10 year high school reunion, the mister showed me up so to speak with a 16 year potluck meet-up to visit his 10 closest buds from that period of his life. Since the event took place primarily outside in roughly 50 degree F clear weather I opted for a long dress and boots on top of tights. This would be the first time for me to meet most of them so wanted to make a positive impression! Without being either overly exposed (easily adhered to due to the temperature) or dowdy (which I could end up with by accident), of course.

My mister on the right with 2 of his nearest and dearest.

My mister on the right with 2 of his nearest and dearest.

When we arrived the burgers were already on the grill along with cheddar-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos. We chatted with guests while I heated up our own contribution of homemade from scratch spaghetti and meatballs. I supervised hubby the night before and the dish turned out delicious. Outside on the patio and driveway, all fully transformed with chairs, tables, and comestibles, we conversed and hammed it up with frosty beer and Wild Turkey whisky cocktails.

To keep out the minor chill, I donned a purple leather jacket.

To keep out the minor chill, I donned a purple leather jacket.

Jewelmint enamel, gold-tone, and crystal Erin Earrings / handmade vermeil and green stone necklace, gifted / Kenneth Cole NY eggplant leather moto jacket, gifted / We Dream in Colour bracelet / Nixon green Trixie watch / assorted rings / Fluxus color-blocked maxi dress / HUE plum frost tights, Ebayed / Nine West polymer distressed suede Midnightsun boots

Seams designed to flatter curves = the best!

Seams designed to flatter curves = the best!

When I found this oatmeal and forest green number at a designer clearance sale, the overly long hem and a few bleach spots on the bottom of the skirt demanded a bit of careful tailoring. Due to the weight and stretch of the soft rayon jersey I opted for a zigzag stitch and maintained the original slight hi-low hemline while carefully removing the regions damaged by bleach stains. My mother-in-law gifted me the gorgeous eggplant leather jacket, and I brought in a different purple shade with the tights. Despite the cling-that-hides-nothing I felt perfectly confident with only a control top on my tights to smooth any panty lines. I’m pleased with the opacity of the fabric now that I see the flash didn’t reveal anything underneath, either.

swayback

 

I think all women should both take care of their health and find a way to love or at least accept their body. I certainly strive to model that behavior, although I often feel far less than pretty. It takes a lot of effort to set aside negative body image conditioning since I’m living in a curvy size 10 frame. Which puts me in mind of a meme that strikes me as hilariously correct and thoroughly applicable:

Basically? This.

Basically? This.

TTFN!

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Winter Garb Mixup

Texas winters in the northeast of the state where I live can be quite mild from time to time, often warmed by the sun during the day with quite chilly night temperatures. I practice the wisdom of the truly cold climates by layering pieces to reach the desired level of warmth. Sensible dresses made of jersey or other knit materials get the most wear during this season, as do boots, leather jackets, and sweaters of variable thickness.

An exceptionally lovely winter day, nearly 74 degrees F and sunny.

An exceptionally lovely winter day, nearly 74 degrees F and sunny.

Handmade sterling silver and purple agate earrings / white bronze raven skull necklace by Moon Raven Designs, from Etsy / wave print side shirred dress from Loft / Ted Baker watch / carved skull bone bead bracelet, gifted / bright blue HUE tights, Ebayed / Clarks  black suede Abbess Jewel boots

Fun with a minimal color palette.

Fun with a minimal color palette.

The graduated stripes create a nice optical effect while the directional change on the bodice and side shirring lend a slimming appearance. The fully lined jersey fabric was plenty insulating. Between the graphic print, pop of bright color from my tights, and patent leather trim on my ankle boots, the end result had the visual interest and flattering silhouette I strive for. It worked perfectly for a day outing with my mister to do chores and stop for lunch.

When my friend Allee hostessed a tea party complete with 20+ teas, homemade baked goods, and handmade pottery galore I went all out in honor of the occasion. I had been waiting for a chance to give my new used Floreat dress a test wear, but covered up to combat the seasonal chill. Plus it gave me the perfect excuse to bust out my flashiest hat, which isn’t particularly flashy but has a lot of attitude.

This happened on a much colder day, on top of which I wore a coat to venture outside.

This happened on a much colder day, on top of which I wore a coat to venture outside.

Goorin Bros. black wool Lady Latchford fedora / seed petal brass and moonstone earrings by Tangleweeds Jewelry from Etsy / Kevia two-tone metal and moonstone necklace from Ideeli / Laureate Lane alpaca blend shrug, Ebayed / Floreat embroidered strapless One Hundred Summits Dress, Ebayed / grey leather Elise M belt / porcelain medallion bracelet from Etsy / Ted Baker watch / assorted rings / herringbone HUE tights from Macy’s / Corso Como tan side-laced Milly bootie

Feeling pretty.

Feeling pretty.

I assembled another dark-hued black and grey color combination punched up with touches of purple, tan, and mustard in this outfit. The high and tight waistline accentuated with a wide belt, a-line strapless silhouette, jaunty fedora, and ladylike stiletto boots made me feel like a million bucks. I added the shrug for warmth and it really fit in well with the other pieces.

A house party in honor of my bestie Tina’s birthday warranted a similarly simple overall look, more like the first outfit featured in this post. This woven ombre black and white knit with white trim sweater dress fits like a dream with such a flattering style. I paired it with muted dark purple tights and neutral tan booties to keep it ladylike and festive.

My new favorite sweater dress.

My new favorite sweater dress.

Sea Crystal Earrings from Jewelmint / white bronze raven skull necklace from Etsy / Ivanka Trump seamed black and white sweater dress from TJ Maxx / aubergine purple HUE classic rib tights, Ebayed / Corso Como tan Milly Bootie

Sisters, cousins, and friends. I have Tina's youngest darling on my lap.

Sisters, cousins, and friends. I have Tina’s youngest darling Alma on my lap.

I recently enacted a cheat to keep my feet warmer: low cuff socks underneath my tights. It  works fairly well, and as a bonus adds sole padding. I combined a pop of color with neutral hues yet again, still keeping the overall ensemble fairly simple. Aaron and I had a fabulous time with old friends and many tiny people at the party, as you can see. The practical attire definitely served it’s purpose.

Check out the new Ikea red Expedit shelving unit behind me, the perfect storage solution for my art studio.

Check out the new Ikea red Expedit shelving unit behind me, the perfect storage solution for my art studio.

To celebrate the 40th birthday of cousin Jason, hubby and I caught a ride with my parents to a gorgeous ranch near Venus for the party. We enjoyed many a beer and cocktail over catered delights including clam chowder, chicken sliders with caramelized onion, and bacon-wrapped chicken tenders. Live music provided by Jason Crabtree and Dempsey Pullen rocked the house until well into the night.

Another birthday party ensemble.

Another birthday party ensemble.

Yellow rhinestone headband from Anthropologie / handmade freshwater pearl earrings / Animalia Heirloom Necklace from Anthropologie / Bernardo oxblood zip trim leather scuba jacket from TJ Maxx / Confetti Western Dress in printed rayon by Corey Lynn Calter, from ModCloth / vintage heirloom silver watch / assorted rings / bright blue Hue tights, Ebayed / NYLA rust suede Itheil bootie from DSW

The uncomfortably steep angle of these high heeled boots does not render them suitable for much time spent on my feet, but they’re perfect for a party with a fair amount of sitting. The casual country setting inspired my outfit, assembled around the soft flirty dress and rich colored leather jacket.

Between trips outside to sit by the fire, I doffed my jacket inside.

Between trips outside to sit by the fire, I doffed my jacket inside.

Attending all of these parties reminds me that I’ll be 30 this year. I don’t suppose I feel particularly old yet, so I’m not yet that troubled about this fact. Maybe it’ll be an exceptional party due to the import of the decade? At least I hope so. Until then I’m planning to enjoy the remainder of my 20’s.

TTFN!

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