Fashion Friday 5/2/14

This is just a quick post. I’m out at DFWCon, a writers’ conference in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  One of the other writers here has some kitty cat shoes from ModCloth. Had to share!  My cat-obsessed daughter is going to love these…

 

Meow!
Meow!

 

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Fashion Friday 10/4/13

So last week Fashion Friday went on hiatus while I was traveling and didn’t have a guest contributor lined up.  I went to Los Angeles for a writing conference, which was super fun.  I met some very interesting writers — I always love making those connections — and had a really positive response from the agents I pitched my novel to.  Plus I got to have dinner with some dear friends who live out there.  All in all, a good trip.

One thing I really like about going to L.A. is that it’s a town I can go shopping in.  Now, of course I can go shopping at home if I want to.  The problem, though, is that my kids are at home.  I love my kids, but taking them shopping is…not ideal.  And leaving them at home to get away for a few hours by myself is just a recipe for guilt and trauma.

Take this example from the beginning of last summer… Continue reading “Fashion Friday 10/4/13”

Fashion Friday 9/20/13

Today was the homecoming pep rally, and we were all encouraged to wear our school’s colors, one of which is purple.

shoe pic 1
What? It’s purple.

These are the Iron Fist brand American Nightmare shoes, but I like to call them my zombie stompers.  They have a shoe like this called Zombie Stomper as well, but I don’t care for its neon color palette.  So there.

Even better from this angle.
I’ve got spirit, yes I do. I’ve got spirit, how about you?

These shoes have four-inch heels, and they make me almost as tall as some of my students.  Win.

I especially like the little bows on the backs and the criss-cross lacing up the heels.  And the poetry fragments on the inside don’t hurt.

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Fashion Friday 7/26/13

Welcome to another installment of Fashion Friday!  To make up for showing a picture of flip-flops last week, here are some exquisite shoes that used to be available from ModCloth.  Alas, they are no more, and I sort of wish I’d gotten a pair when they were around, though I balked at the price (which is why I didn’t buy them in the first place).

Since ModCloth doesn’t allow pictures to be yanked from their site, please click here to see this marvel of footwear, the Nest Big Thing Heel by Brighton-based designer Irregular Choice.

Maybe if I get some free time one day I’ll get crafty and make a DIY version of this shoe.  Of course, that would require free time.

Don’t hold your breath.

But if I do embellish a shoe in this way, and if it looks halfway decent and is wearable, you can be sure I’ll post it here.

Have you made any interesting DIY fashion accessories?  I’d love to know about them!

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Would you like to be a guest contributor to our Fashion Friday series?  Click here to find out how!

Fashion Friday 6/28/13

This week’s Fashion Friday post comes to us from guest blogger Casey Fleming. Casey is a friend and colleague of mine and an excellent writer. She also routinely comes to work wearing some of the most adorable and benign-envy-prompting outfits I’ve ever seen. Her post is also available on her blog, (Non)Secular Girl. Check it out; you’ll be glad you did.

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from the 1948 film "The Red Shoes"
from the 1948 film “The Red Shoes”

When I was in seventh grade, Charlie Chavez asked me to be his date to the homecoming dance.  We attended T.H. Rogers, a public school in Houston for “gifted and talented” kids, all bused in from neighborhoods as diverse and far away from each other geographically and culturally as Denver Harbor, Bellaire, and Third Ward.  Charlie lived in Sharpstown.  His single mother arrived with him to pick me up from my aunt’s townhouse on the Southwest side the night of the dance. Continue reading “Fashion Friday 6/28/13”

SWAP! (Or, Are You Going to Wear That? I Mean, Like, Ever Again?)

Remember that adorable black-and-white sweater I was wearing back on the 13th?  (Click here to see that post.)  I promised I’d tell you the story of how I’d acquired it.

me -- February rêveuse

A couple of years ago, it became very chic for women to host swap meets with their girlfriends.  The recession had been hammering down upon the whole country for so long, the recovery slow.  In a strong environmental push, some of the people who suddenly had little (or less than they’d had before) were finally realizing the intelligence of reduce, reuse, and recycle.  And women’s magazines began featuring articles about Swap Meets.

The concept is simple:  you bring the things you don’t want or need anymore and give them to others who can make use of them, and you take home their stuff you can make use of that they can’t.  (The generally-accepted rules for how to host your own party are below.)  Parents of small children have been enjoying this principle with other young families forever:  how many of us wore hand-me-downs?

There’s new terminology for it now, too, to give the whole concept a little flair and to encourage everyone to feel good about it all.  “Recycle” has become “upcycle,” “hand-me-downs” have become “hand-me-ups.”  Euphemisms aside, though, it’s a concept that, if performed thoughtfully, frequently works.

So after reading about Swap Meets enough times — and yes, I do occasionally read certain women’s magazines, don’t judge — I decided I wanted to try it out.  I emailed all my girlfriends to explain the concept (as if they didn’t know) and to ask, who might be up for it?

As it turned out, the answer was most of them.

We’ve had a few Swap Meets over the last couple of years.  Not everyone can make it to every one, but usually between eight and ten can, which is a really good number.  This is the sort of activity that works well once or twice a year, because inevitably the group is a little different each time, and it seems like, in our cluttered lives, cleaning out the closets is always a good idea.  If you’re like me, your closet isn’t quite big enough to hold all your clothes and wardrobe accessories, so every spring and every fall, when it’s clear the weather has really turned the corner, I switch out about half my clothes for the appropriate season.  And while I recognize that in the early 1990s the style etiquette mavens decreed that white was perfectly fine to wear in the winter in warm-weather climates, I still like to keep the bright whites, the dainty florals, and the pale flowy garments separate from the heavy colors, heavy fabrics, and heavy mood of the glorious colder months.  So twice a year I’m compelled to make an inventory of my wardrobe and clear stuff out.

It’s an exercise in streamlining that may one day, hopefully, evolve into the ability to handle all the cluttered details in my life, and I know this, and I’m okay with that.

Now, if you really want to clear stuff out of your house — because, let’s be honest, that feels good — the trick of the Swap Meet is to take and give away a whole lot more than you bring back home.  At our last one, I took about a carload of goodies and brought home four new things, one of which was that delightful sweater, and another of which was a pair of incredibly hot vintage-inspired black velvet heels which my friend Marcie wore once and then decided were too tall for her to walk around her campus in every day.  Score!  I’ll be wearing them tonight to a fancy fundraiser at my school.

Thank you for having a job where you walk to work, Marcie!
Thank you for having a job where you walk to work, Marcie!

So by now, no doubt, you’re ready to host one of these parties yourself, aren’t you?  Well, there are a few rules.  Not many, and they’re largely common sense, but they do matter just to make sure everything goes smoothly, that there’s no confusion or mismanaged expectations.

THE RULES FOR A SUCCESSFUL SWAP MEET

1.  First of all, contribute to the Swap Meet only those items which are in good condition.  Avoid bringing anything you’ve decided to discard because it’s worn out or stained or in need of mending you don’t have the time or expertise for.  The general thought is that if it could be sold at a consignment shop, then it’s probably a good candidate.

2.  This is for (insert category here) only.  That means, just the ladies, or just the guys (if they’re interested), or just children’s clothes, or just home furnishings, etc.  Keep it simple so everyone knows what they’re getting into, and if they’re not interested, they won’t show up and then be bored or disappointed.  (A side note:  necktie swaps for men have shown some promise at some workplaces, but I’m not sure they’ve truly caught on yet.)

3.  Turn your living room (or wherever you’re hosting it) into a boutique.  Lay out the clothes nicely:  hang them up, fold them neatly on a table, stack the shoes and purses artfully as if you were preparing a window or shop display.  The idea is to make the overall environment cute and appealing rather than making it look like a picked-over garage sale.  This may sound intimidating, but it’s not so difficult once you start, and if you’re not as confident as you could be about your ability to do this, enlist a friend with good design sense (think, a well-ordered or nicely decorated home) to help you.

4.  Everyone who comes to the party must bring something to give away.  (Again, this isn’t a garage sale.)  Even if you bring only one or two items, don’t show up empty-handed.  And remember that a variety of sizes for a variety of guests is a good thing!  Often what we purge from our closets is what, heartbreakingly, doesn’t fit anymore.  It’s fun to share that favorite blouse you’ll never wear again with one of your good friends on whom it would look fabulous.

5.  In order to get everything set up before people begin browsing your displays, ask that everyone give you their items before the day of the Swap Meet — or else come over an hour early to help set up.  Also have a defined time for when things begin and when they end.  For example, we usually say the party will be from 1:00 to 3:00, and that no one may begin swapping or claiming items until 1:00.  Anyone who’s late understands the consequences of that.  Anyone who shows up at noon to help set up will get a sneak preview of what’s being offered.  (Reminding your friends of this can sometimes actually  result in more people coming to help set up.)

6.  No money changes hands for anything.  This is non-negotiable, or it ceases to be a Swap Meet and becomes something else.

7.  Lay out some treats for the party:  light finger-foods, a little dessert, some wine or punch or whatever.  Remember that it’s not a typical meal-time, and that people are going to be trying on clothes — bedrooms and bathrooms usually work well as fitting rooms — and that probably no one wants to eat anything heavy.  Keep the menu simple, light, and festive, and don’t forget the small plates and napkins.  One successful menu I’ve used which resulted in very little waste and general yumminess all around:

  • hummus and pita bread triangles
  • simple antipasti tray:  cubes of three different kinds of cheese, sliced pepperoni, mild olives (Some gently-herbed flatbread crackers make a lovely companion to this.)
  • sliced vegetables with Love Dip or some other festive spread rather than just the same old Ranch (Remember, we’re not kids anymore and can try other interesting flavors.)
  • bite-size cream puffs (You can find them in the frozen section of the grocery store.  Just get one box, though!  Or if you’re extra health-conscious, go for a fruit salad or tray of already-cut fruit, which people will often be more likely to nosh on than whole fruits like bananas, apples, and even clementines that haven’t been peeled or cut.)
  • a light white wine if people are interested, assorted individual teas, bottled water, maybe a ginger ale punch

8.  When your party comes to an end, make sure everything left over gets either boxed up to store for the next Swap Meet or else donated.  This is very important if your goal is (at least in part) to clear the clutter out of your house.  No one should repay the hostess for her hospitality by leaving all the unclaimed stuff in her living room!  Make a plan before the party to take what’s left over to a nearby charity or donation center, if you like, thereby doing something really good for other people in need.  Just be sure everyone knows from the outset that they must either take their leftover items back home with them or else have an immediate/same-day plan for getting them out of your house.

And ta-da!  It’s a party with little clean-up, you’ve had fun with your girlfriends, and your closet has been cleaned out.

Swap Meets for the win!

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 4)

Just a reminder:  tomorrow is the 13th of the month, and so it is a Rêveur Day.  Be sure to wear black and white with a pop of red, and then send me your picture if you feel so inspired.  (And thanks to all those of you who are doing it even when you don’t send pictures.  I enjoy hearing about it on Facebook, too.)  For more information on what I’m talking about, please click here.

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Here is the continuation of my six-part gothiness series.  You can read the previous three parts by clicking on these links:

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 1)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 2)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 3)

And while you’re at it, check out this review of Werewolf Songs over at As You Were.  This CD went on my Christmas list faster than you can say lycanthrope.

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Part IV:  Tim Burton, I’m Sorrowful to Report, Just Might Have Lost His Edge

I had always been a fan of Tim Burton’s work.  Even before I knew who he was, Beetlejuice was my favorite movie.  I had seen it fourteen times by the time I hit my senior year of high school, which in that pre-Internet time of Blockbuster Video and VCRs was a big deal.  His movies were macabre and funny, visually appealing and well acted.  I thought his stories were original.  And who doesn’t love, love, love Danny Elfman?  (I’m still listening to Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party.)

I loved his trademark black-and-white stripes, not because of any affection for black-and-white stripes, but because he had a trademark.  Burton could be known even without an introduction.  He had a strong sense of himself, and I gravitated toward that even before I consciously understood how much I admired and yearned for that quality.

But as much as I have always loved The Nightmare Before Christmas — to this day autumn finds me singing “Sally’s Lament” in the shower — I have to admit Corpse Bride left me feeling a little hollow.  It didn’t have the fully realized grandeur of his previous movies, even though all the right elements were there.  And with the notable exception of the incomparable and exquisite Big Fish, most of his movies lately have been…disappointing.  His new take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was goofy, and his reimagining of Alice in Wonderland just about broke my heart.

But then he tackled Dark Shadows, and I allowed myself to hope.  The early trailers and studio stills looked promising, the cast of the usual beloved suspects (with Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green thrown in for a bonus), impeccable.  I started to feel excited, sure that his pitiful streak couldn’t go on for this long.  And how could you go wrong with Dark Shadows?

He found a way.

Crackpot storytelling, that’s how.  An inability to remember what denouement is — or the integrity of plot.  More style than substance.  And the worst use of werewolf ex machina I’ve ever seen.

I sat in the theater in a long black skirt and the most incredible Iron Fist shoes and wanted

These shoes are actually purple, not blue.
These shoes are actually purple, not blue.

to eat an entire box of Raisinets and chase them down with a whole bag of Twizzlers.

I don’t know why I should have felt betrayed.  I do know I felt stupid for having allowed myself to hope.

But now there’s Frankenweenie, a film which has been expanded from its original short version — a short version which was one of Burton’s first projects thirty years ago.  The reviews so far have suggested this one is worth a look, even considering the last several years of shlock. *

And once again, that eternal fountain of hope is bubbling up inside of me.  If I could just find someone willing to see it with me, I’d be set.

One last look before we go.
One last look before we go.

*  Check out this review of Frankenweenie by Tom Charity.

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Click on these links to be taken to the rest of the posts in this series.  Thanks for reading!

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 5)

Embracing My Inner Goth (part 6)