Fashion Friday 4/19/13

This week we have a grand guest post from fellow blogger and author Marie Marshall.  (Visit her excellent site here.)  Enjoy!


Wearing boys’ castoffs

I remember the first time I made the conscious choice to wear a boy’s garment. Strangely, it was during what must have been my most ‘femme’ fashion stage. I was thirteen, and along with my best friend I was hooked on the urban fashion of Continue reading “Fashion Friday 4/19/13”

Fashion Friday 4/12/13

One of the most fun and low-impact ways to experiment with one’s appearance is with nail art.  It’s a short-term commitment at best and is small enough not to freak people out when you do it.  Sometimes inconspicuous, sometimes splashy, it’s still just on your fingernails, so it’s all low-key.  Even less noticeable is nail art on your toes, even if you wear sandals.


left hand tropical nail art


This effect was created with ordinary nail polish for a base coat, and then the flower designs were hand-painted using different sizes of brush and metal tips.  In case the colors don’t show up well on your screen, the base coat is mauve, the flowers are white shot through with green, and there are understated silver glitter accents at their centers.  The flowers weren’t all situated in the middles of all my nails so as to look more…natural?  Is that what we’re going for here?  Anyway, less cookie cutter.  The overall effect is surprisingly tropical and lovely for spring.


right hand tropical nail art

And just in case you’ve forgotten, tomorrow is the 13th of the month, so rêveurs and rêveuses, dress accordingly!  I’ll be posting here.  Will you come out of the woodwork and join me?  

Not sure what I’m talking about?  Click here.

Fashion Friday 3/29/13

The first hat I ever made, and the one I’m probably the most proud of, is a spring-infused confection which I almost never wear now, but which I feel is appropriate to share with you today…

I just love the way all these blooms came together!
I just love the way all these blooms came together!


From this side angle, you can see the long ribbon and tulle train.
From this side angle, you can see the long ribbon and tulle train.

…because it’s a gorgeous late-March day in Texas, the flowers in my garden are blooming like their lives depend on it — and they do, because the more beautiful they are, the more I make time for them (sad but true) — and this weekend it is time to rotate my fall and winter clothes back to the armoire in the office to make way for my spring and summer wardrobe.

My lovely friend Elani graciously agreed to model the hat for me when she came over today to help me roll grapeleaves (Lebanese style) for Easter.
My lovely friend Elani graciously agreed to model the hat for me when she came over today to help me roll grapeleaves (Lebanese style) for Easter.

I made this hat at a party where a bunch of my girlfriends all came over and made hats.  We then wore our hats out to tea at a fancy hotel.  We called ourselves The Hat Ladies.  Maybe some day I will tell you that story, too.

Happy Spring!

Fashion Friday 3/15/13

Today’s installment of Fashion Friday has been written by guest blogger Laine over at you do doodle too.  She’s a dedicated rêveuse and otherwise just a wonderful human being in every way.  Her blog is fun to read, but she’s a little nervous about expanding her audience.  Let’s give her a nice welcome, shall we?

Here’s the link to her guest post today, which she’s published on her own blog as well.  In it, she discusses how to turn an ordinary item that so many of us need into an actual fashion accessory and her recent mild tribulations in trying to do so.

Here's a photo of Laine's jewelry stand.  Hint:  the accessory she's written about isn't on here.
Here’s a photo of Laine’s jewelry stand. Hint: the accessory she’s written about isn’t on here.

Feel free to browse around some of her other posts as well, particularly some of her book reviews and other goodies under the “mind” category of her archives.  If you enjoyed my review of the Twilight situation, you will probably also enjoy her response to it.

Until next time…  🙂



Guess What Today Is? The 13th of the Month!

Calling all rêveurs and rêveuses to show yourselves when you make your wardrobe choices today.  Below I’ve posted my rêveuse picture for March.  Feel free to post yours as well, or link to it in the comments section.

(No idea what I’m talking about?  Click here.)

Someone asked me if she could include gray in her outfit.  I don't see why not!  Today I wore a shirt striped with black, white, and two grays and a dark charcoal skirt and black shoes.  But I'm highlighting this ladybug bracelet my son gave me one day on a whim, because it "matched my outfit."  That was a 13th-of-the-month day, too.
Someone asked me if she could include gray in her outfit. I don’t see why not! Today I wore a shirt striped with black, white, and two grays and a dark charcoal skirt and black shoes. But I’m highlighting this ladybug bracelet my son gave me one day on a whim, because it “matched my outfit.” That was a 13th-of-the-month day, too.


Introducing Fashion Fridays on Sappho’s Torque…

So you know I’m a writer and a mom and that I teach, but you may not know of my abiding interest in fashion.  I admit I’m an amateur when it comes to being a style maven, but in another life I think if I had played my cards right, I could have been Stacy London.  (Or at least tried to be.)

A few years ago, my good friend Margo and I decided that it was high time hats came back into fashion.  And not just the undersized fedoras in music videos or  Continue reading “Introducing Fashion Fridays on Sappho’s Torque…”

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.


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!