Friday, March 16, 2018

"I finally found a love of a lifetime....and it's a coat?!"

   I feel compelled to start by stating this is not the first time I’ve referenced the band Firehouse while writing a post.  Considering just how dated hair bands are perceived, I should probably feel a tiny embarrassed.  However, to be totally honest, I’m not.  I’ll admit it.  I love hair metal!  Most romantic ladies who grew up in the Midwest during the 80's and early 90's love this type of music.  Hearing it today makes me fondly reminisce about middle school dances.  At that time an awkwardly tall and gangling Rayna, inevitably wearing skorts, always had to hunch over her much shorter dance partner.  Happily the, "head on the shoulder routine," was big back then or my neck would've really gotten sore.  Yes, during those dances it was the hair ballads that would make one forget things like the crackle of the crappy PA system, or the school gym’s stench of old tennis shoes.  There were only the dim lights, the idealistic juvenile chanting of each song, and all of those teenage boys trying to grow their hair long just like dreamy Sebastian Bach.  It truly was a glorious time to be alive!
   Sadly, I can never return to that time…not that I haven’t tried.  Writing this now finally makes me realize why every time a hair band is remotely in my vicinity…and living where I do this happens a lot… I have the absolute need to go see them.  Let’s just say when you see C.C. DeVille wear the exact same hat on more than one occasion you’ve probably been to a Poison show one too many times.  Actually, my only regret is not buying a t-shirt at each one of these concerts.  If I had done this I would have an amazing collection of hair band shirts that I could PRETEND was solely for ironic purposes.  Sadly, I only have one badass Ratt shirt and I can’t even fake mock it because I love it so much.
   Okay, I think I’m finally done confessing my love of hair metal.  Originally, this post was supposed to be about the coat I’m wearing in the above photographs.  I suppose I could justify my earlier 80's theme by arguing I suspect this particular garment was most likely constructed during this decade.  However, I’m certain it was originally owned by an individual who was way too cool to be listening to the likes of L.A. Guns…while wearing skorts.  Actually back then I remember ogling after the older teenagers who would dye their hair jet black and wear these type of long tweed trench coats with fingerless gloves…think Tia and Bug from the movie, “Uncle Buck.”  To this day I admire the style of the true 80's Emo kid and I've have spent nearly a lifetime searching for that perfect tweed coat that says, “Yeah, I could have hung out with Bug.”
   At long last, about three months ago, I found my treasure.  I was driving home from work, and despite my exhaustion, I got that tingle at the base of my skull demanding, “swing into that Goodwill parking lot!  There’s something waiting for you!”  History has taught me to never argue with the tingle and suddenly I found myself confronted with another tweed trench that probably would not fit.  I held it with shaky hands thinking, “It’s perfect!  The pattern, the color, the cut, the built in shoulder pads!  This is a coat that was made for Tia!  There’s no way it’s going to fit me.”  I stood there highly considering just putting it down and leaving in order to avoid the impending heartache.  However, I eventually mustered the courage and tried on the most perfect fitting coat I’ve ever owned.  It was truly my Cinderella moment.  I will lovingly remember it each time I listen to that band.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Once a Cossack, Always a Cossack

   For those of us with more eclectic style it can sometimes become impossible not to come off as looking like you’re wearing a costume.  I can’t help but think of a time I was out with friends and a stranger approached me stating, “I love your costume!!!”  Immediately I was confused.  Since when was bell bottoms paired with a vintage shaggy alpaca coat a costume?  Plus, it wasn’t anywhere near Halloween.  What in God’s name made this person believe I was trying to disguise myself as someone else?
   I guess for certain individuals it’s simply hard to believe that one could dress like this on a normal day.  Of course, I blame this on yoga pants.  As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m a true believer in the idea that athletic wear is completely destroying society’s sense of style…at least in the Midwest.  If I see one more pair of Sorel boots styled with leggings and a black puffer coat I’m going to freak out.  Okay, honestly I’ll confess to owning a pair of Sorel’s myself…how could I not when they gave the boot a name like, “Joan of Arctic?”  Oh yes, those marketing people own me.  However, why can’t anyone pair these puppies with something interesting like a vintage jumper?  How about this…why not go completely old school L.L. Bean and matchy match those potentially kitschy rubber ducks with flannel lined mom jeans and an over-sized fisherman’s sweater?  Now that’s a Sorel look I could totally get behind.  Of course, I suspect someone would probably accuse me of that pesky costume thing again.  I can hear the mocking now, “Ayuh, watch out the cah’s bound to slide on that wicked ice!”
   The reason I have this pretty ridiculous topic on my mind is due to the fact that I can’t help but look at the above photographs and think, “Okay yeah, now I see it.  That outfit does look a little costumey.”  However at the time, I swear, I seriously didn’t notice.  I was simply constructing an outfit out of individual pieces I’ve collected over time…little did I know how very Eastern European I was starting to appear.  I suppose I could try to justify this outfit by stating I felt compelled to give a shout out to my Croatian ancestors.  However, I can’t help but wonder why I feel the need to make any excuse at all for an ensemble that came into existence simply because I love wacky clothes.
   Of course, it didn’t dawn on me that this outfit was a little different until I posted a picture of it on Instagram and received a message from a very good friend of mine stating he could probably trade me for two yaks and a pack of smokes.  While I could not stop laughing at this, I informed him I was definitely worth at least 3 yaks.  Later that day, I got the comment from another friend that I, “reminded them of a Cossack.”  I honestly loved this statement as well.  Mostly because my high school mascot was a Cossack and it seemed so damned appropriate.  Suddenly it occurred to me just how much attention this initially unexciting outfit was starting to get.  “Huh, I thought it looked boring,” I wondered. 
   In conclusion I’d like to make the argument, “Dress in a costume every day!”  Not only will you get lots of attention, but you’ll also enjoy several comments that are bound to make you laugh.  More importantly, always dress for yourself even if it is crazy, because crazy is a whole lot more interesting than the dreaded black puffer coat.  Just let that freak flag fly.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Ahoy Cowboy!

   Have you ever had a fantastic piece of clothing that you just couldn’t figure out how to wear?  That’s the problem I’ve always had with the poncho I’m wearing in the above photographs.  Upon first finding it I was instantly in love.  I believe it's obvious that I have a serious addiction to Southwestern patterns.  This combined with the above color palette was something that I found irresistible.  I left the store that day feeling confident I had found an inherently, “Rayna,” piece.
   However, the first time I tried to actually wear this poncho I found it rather bulky and unflattering.  Go figure, a poncho that’s baggy?!  I would’ve never thought.  As a result, I’m ashamed to admit this piece hung abandoned in my closet for MANY years.  It wasn’t until very recent that the idea finally struck me, “Belt it, you dummy!” 
   The above ensemble is a result of this epiphany.  I’m so pleased to report I found the perfect concho belt at my local vintage store for an extremely reasonable price.  Concho belts are something I believe could be seriously problematic for me.  Thank God most of the ones I seem to like are well beyond my price range.  One of my ultimate wardrobe wishes is to someday acquire one of these vintage sterling silver and turquoise beauties.  However, until the day my conscience allows my credit card to spend this much on a belt I will be more than happy to sport around this less expense model. 
   Despite it’s cheaper cost, I can’t believe how pleased I’ve been with this belt.  Finally I can wear the poncho I shamefully pushed to the back of my closet.  I knew I should always trust my gut with clothing!  I stick by my argument of, “Just buy it!...and figure out how to wear it later…years later.” 
   Looking at these pictures now, I can’t help but feel justified in owning so many Southwestern inspired pieces.  Can a lady really have too many?  Truthfully, I kind of want to answer, “Yes!”  While I’m well aware that my addiction to this pattern is far from over, I have to admit I’m starting to feel the need to move on.  Of course I blame this totally on YouTube.  Specifically, I would like to thank Ralph Lauren for making me seriously consider trashing everything in my closet to pursue a completely nautical themed wardrobe.  This would be totally appropriate for a woman living on the plains…right? 
   I think it's notable to mention it was recently fashion week in New York and those of us on the fringes of the style loop are forced to participate via internet.  Basically, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been glued to my computer watching fashion shows featuring clothing so good I feel compelled to renounce my entire closet.  As I mentioned before, Ralph Lauren’s nautical inspired collection blew me…well…out of the water with its’ breezy beach theme.  After I watched it I immediately made a list to identify all of the garments I possess that could translate easily into this look.  Ironically, the thrifting Gods also seem to be a fan of Ralph, considering I recently found the most adorable blue and white polka dot blazer at St. Vincent de Paul.  For someone who is totally land-locked I have a pretty decent collection of boat attire.  Now I just have to find some water!
   Lastly, I find it kind of sad to finally be over my obsession with the Southwestern print.  Mostly I feel this way because I can now actually wear the beautiful poncho featured in the pictures above.  I also wonder how I’m going to style this kick ass concho belt over a vintage sailor shirt.  It could be an interesting looking summer. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

There's a Fiery Ball in the Sky!!!

   Lately a lot of the kids at my work place have been asking me, “Why is it still light out?  Will this day ever end?!”  Of course, this question always comes just about the time our staff is trying to round everyone up for supper.  “Observant little buggers,” I thought the first occasion this inquiry was made.
   I’m fairly certain that young Rayna never paid this much attention to her surroundings.  To be totally honest, old Rayna is more concerned about whether the cafeteria will be serving those adorable smiley faced french fries with her mini turkey corn-dogs.  As a result, the first time one of the tykes mentioned the sun should not still be out at 5:30 PM I was totally taken by surprise.  “Finally, spring is coming,” I thought between bites of the cutest food one will ever enjoy.
   I guess I state, “finally,” because I’m really starting to get tired of this weather.  Winter is a time that I can’t help but feel sheepish about posing as a, “style blogger.”  Admittedly, there is very little styling going on in my closet right now.  While I have a pretty decent collection of vintage sweaters and coats, I feel unable to feature them correctly since I basically have to pile everything on at once in order to brave the elements.  In addition, I haven’t even looked at my jewelry in forever because, what’s the point of accessorizing when you’re just going to cover it all up with knitwear? 
   Thank God over the years I’ve developed the sense to stockpile images of fall ensembles.  I can state, “I’m thankful to post an actual outfit today instead of simple coat and hat combination shots taken while huddled in the dicey protective structure of Al and I’s dilapidated barn."  Side note, when I finally run out of fall pictures, this is what you will be subjected to.  I apologize for the monotony in advance.  However, I do feel like I have a legitimate excuse.  The weather is just too damn cold here to realistically traipse around outside for glamour shots.  Besides I don’t know what it is about that barn but the lighting in there is magical.  The day it collapses I will be eternally dismayed on where to take portraits.  Who knew I would look best in a barn?  Wait…that last statement seems like a set up for mean farm animal comparisons.  Ah, well…
   The upside to this dismal weather is that I have the PERFECT excuse to buy as many coats as my heart desires.  Clearly I can’t take my outerwear off during glamour shots this time of year.  In addition, I can’t possibly wear the same coat in every post.  Although soon it’s going to be clear what my favorite thrift store find was this season.  Some coats are just too good not to photograph over and over.  
   Lately, I find myself continually trying to justify my thrifting habit to my boyfriend, “This coat cost me $9.00 at the thrift store.  $9.00 bought me a kick ass blog picture that I will be able to enjoy when I’m 80…and taking glamour shots of myself wearing yet another $9.00 vintage treasure!”  I simply don't get what he doesn't understand. 
   Of course, right now my readers...reader? able to enjoy what I define as a, "styled," outfit.  Except really, the only noteworthy thing I have on in the above images is my favorite new vintage sweater…but hey, it’s okay if that’s what carries the look.  Besides, I stand behind the fact that I’m dressed up in these pictures.  It’s called a Canadian Tuxedo baby, and I’m ready to hit any snowy northern town in it!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dear Dirtball...

   Last night a long lost friend of mine messaged me an old picture of myself.  I literally gasped upon viewing it.  I barely recognized the girl staring back at me.  “Wow, how time has changed me!”  I wondered. 
   I would first like to thank this friend for sending me such a lovely reminder of who I used to be.  This comment may sound sarcastic when reading it, but I assure you I’m very sincere.  My friend captioned the image, “Another world, another time.”  I can’t help but agree with his sentiment.  I must state, while the high school girl in that photograph may be long gone, it sure was nice to see her again.
   My brother always teases me that, “back in the day,” my friends and I looked like real dirtballs.  Gazing at pictures from my youth, I’m inclined to agree with this statement.  However, I stand by the argument that it was the 90’s for God sake!  Everybody looked like a bum back then.  High end fashion designers like Marc Jacobs were sending collections down the runway that appeared to have been salvaged from Goodwill. Likewise, popular musicians like Dave Pirner, Evan Dando, and Courtney Love were living proof that it was okay…wait, more than okay…it was mandatory to look like hell in order to receive, “street cred”…and receive, I did…oh yes….
   …because I looked like crap!  For example the, “back in the day,” Rayna was privy to wearing her father’s old clothes.  She had an affinity for his old bell bottoms, which despite his skinny butt, were still too loose for her to properly wear.  However, she often did with the help of one amazing 70’s three prong biker belt she stole from him as well.  Interesting fact, I still wear this belt today.  In addition to these items, 90’s Rayna also often wore about three of her dad’s old plaid cotton shirts at one time.  Unfortunately, she had to buy her own flannel apparel since her dad’s librarian garb did not include this fabric.  However, plaid cotton often got the job done and it ripped easier too.  This added additional potential to my grunge look…a look that I constructed mostly out of over-sized band t-shirts, black on black converse high tops, and one enormous brown corduroy trench coat that young Rayna often conveniently used as a sleeping bag during her many high school shenanigans.  I think it’s also notable to mention high school…and admittedly, early college Rayna…refused to wear any makeup…okay, and often didn't comb her hair.  Again, I blame Dave Pirner.  
   I guess the reason I have my former self on my mind is due to the fact that I look at the above pictures and can’t believe the girl in my friend’s image is the same person.  The woman in the images above is wearing a tediously coordinated outfit.  Her hair is not only combed, but also straightened into a totally controlled bob.  She is wearing full makeup, and do I even start with her nails?!  Man, that third picture is almost spooky!  No wonder the kids at my workplace are obsessed with touching them…not that I’m going to stop growing them long.  I have a sick obsession with 80’s claws, but that’s a whole separate blog post. 
   I guess my overall point is while I’m pleased to see how my appearance has greatly improved in my older age, I can’t help but notice how much happier I appear in the images of my youth.  Looking at the photograph that was sent to me last night, I see a girl wearing a haphazard peasant top paired with windblown chaotic hair.  An awkward smile can be seen from a face bearing not a trace of makeup.   This girl is sitting in a field…actually, I was at the first Lilith Fair at the, the 90’s were awesome!...with many other similar individuals and an unseen person’s hand is thoughtfully touching her arm.  While the girl in this image isn’t very special to look at, there’s something extremely alluring about the happiness she obviously feels.   I can’t help but think I’ll never be able to experience this kind of honesty again with all of this make up covering me up. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

By Jeorge! It's Jordache!

   Looking back at these pictures I can’t help but admit there was a time, not all that long ago, that I actually considered hanging up my thrifting habit.  As any avid thrifter can attest, the fruitfulness of secondhand shopping definitely ebbs and flows.  In other words, sometimes the magic is simply not there.  Of course, when one has been thrifting as long as I have they definitely don’t NEED another successful shopping trip.  In fact, if I have many more of these my closet is going to collapse...again...and let me tell you, I need this event less than anything.  There’s nothing that pisses a man off more than the unbelievably loud sound of wood cracking at 2:00 AM.  At least, that’s what I gathered by my boyfriend’s reaction to the last time one of my closet bars snapped in half from the weight of my clothes.  Who the hell knew mohair was so heavy?
   Yep, there’s really no better buzzkill for a thrifter than the idea that they may have crossed over from being a quirky collector into the horrific realm of hoarding.  Thank you A&E for, yet again, scaring the living crap out of me!  In addition to not wanting to succumb to a terrifying mental disorder, there is also the fact that I find myself making the statement, “It’s about quality over quantity.  I’m going to stop buying so much stuff in order to save up for those big special purchases.”  This is a statement I utter so often I almost should have it carved on my tombstone.  Actually if I was being totally honest it’s more likely to be etched on my urn, considering some of us are completely creeped out by the idea of being locked in a box underground to rot for eternity…just saying. 
   Returning to the topic at hand, I’m shocked to be able to report that for quite a time I was able to adhere to my, “Save for the special stuff,” mantra.  I had been experiencing a rather rugged dry spell on the thrifting circuit…actually, let me rephrase that…I was drowning in a river of ho-humness known as Coldwater Creek and I couldn’t face another day of mining it for gold.  I would like to extend an apology to anyone who may appreciate the apparel that Coldwater Creek provides.  I’m certainly not trying to offend.  However, despite my impending middle-agedness, I’m just not ready to drink that Kool-Aid yet.
   As a result of my break up with thrifting, I was able to collect more than a few designer pretties to add to my closet.  However, each time I look at them there is simply something missing.  They’re too pristine?…they’re too perfect?...hell, they’re just too damn normal!  The problem with designer merchandise if that even if each piece comes with an elitist status all one needs to possess these items is money.  Not that this is an easy task…especially for someone who works for a nonprofit organization like I do.  However, even after finally scraping together enough clams to earn one of these pearls there’s a certain letdown in the knowledge that a million other women who possess more money than I do bought it on a whim.  Mass produced items…even luxury ones made in Italy…are still intended for the masses.
   In closing, I’ve come to the conclusion that my perfect dream closet can only be achieved by a careful balance of hard earned luxury items and secondhand secrets.  One of the first items I bought after my thrifting hiatus is the faux fur coat I’m wearing in the images above.  I decided to give, “the hunt,” one last whirl when I ran straight into the best 80’s Jordache I’ve ever encountered.  Suddenly the drought was over and a floodgate of cheap faux fur carried me to a land that was no longer perfect…and I fit right in.