Sunday, January 21, 2018

My Sketchpad Has A Name

   Quite some time ago I picked up this vintage velvet blazer at Goodwill.  Like many of the prized thrift store treasures I’ve acquired over the years, I enthusiastically ripped this item off the rack upon sight.  I cackled with glee all the way home at the impossible steal I got it for and then regrettably stuffed it into the vault I call my closet.  I’m ashamed to admit since that day I’ve only worn this jacket a total of two times.  I look at these images now and try to reason, “Well, that last picture alone paid for it.”
   To begin, I have to admit I’m a sucker for all things velvet.  Pondering this now I can’t help but be reminded of an old, “Seinfeld,” episode where George states he wants to be, “ensconced in velvet.”  I always laugh heartily at that line and then feel instantly guilty that I too suffer from such luxe longings.  Looking through my wardrobe it's clear that I do have an addiction to this finer fabric.  “How many velvet blazers does one need,” I wonder.
   In my attempt to justify my, “Costanza worthy,” closet I would like to point out that my clothing collection serves a larger purpose than just vanity.  In fact, I would argue it was the vintage blazer featured in the images above that allowed me to stumble upon quite possibly the grandest tree in town.  At the time I was stalking around the park trying to find decent backgrounds for blog pictures when I came across a most impressive Cottonwood.  It’s trunk was truly massive and I'm not embarrassed to reveal all I could think was, “Man, that bark is going to look fantastic with this blazer!”  Honestly, I’m so pleased with the chameleon like effect the two textures had on one another.  Leaving the park that day I got super stoked while dorking out about the juxtaposition between nature and wardrobe.
   Usually this is how the creative process works for me.  I've never been much of a planner.  During college my Art professors would talk about the importance of sketching.  Many of them stressed the value of prepping for a finished piece.  I always struggled with this concept.  I never seemed to know what I was going to create until it happened.  I believe that’s why I became so obsessed with Abstract Expressionism.  I could highly identify with the idea that one’s art revolved around the process of spontaneously executing a final product.  As a result, there is no planning one's work.  Keeping this in mind, the ritual of Abstract Expressionism is frequently frenzied, often emotional, and almost always random. 
   While I'll admit I do spend a fair amount of time planning the actual outfits I wear in my self-portraits, I want to state I usually have no idea what I’m going to do with them once I begin the creative process.  Mostly I just wander around outside, trying not to slide down an ice hill in heels, in search of just the right background to compliment what I have on.  After that all bets are off and the freak show Voguing begins.  All I can say is, “Thank God for tripods and camera timers!"  Self portraits are the only way I possess the gall to pull off the posing performances required to get an interesting shot.  I would simply feel too ridiculous to do this in front of other individuals.
   In closing, I want to mention something wise an artist friend of mine recently wrote on Instagram.  While regarding one of his thrift store finds, he stated, “It’s not hoarding if you make stuff out of it.”  I absolutely loved this sentiment.  It reassured me that my thrifting obsession is simply part of my artistic process.  From now on my sketchpad has a name, and that name is Goodwill!  I believe my former Art professors would be proud.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Favorite...Fur Sure!

   Recently I had an experience that truly scared me.  Thinking back, I find it strange how the most alarming things in life have an odd way of sneaking up on people.  I can’t help but linger on the fact that I waste a good portion of each day worrying about life’s supposed, “big issues."  After I’ve analyzed every possible outcome of these fears I somehow always convince myself that I’m more prepared.  It’s usually at this time that fate rears it's ugly head and states, “Yeah, but I bet you never saw this one coming.”  The only comparison I can think of is my compulsive habit of checking that the stove and oven are both off before I leave the house.  Once I’m FINALLY convinced that none of the burners are going to spontaneously blast out three foot flames I exit the back door only to realize I don’t have my keys, purse, or even a coat on.  To put it simply, I’m always so damned concerned about the what-ifs I don’t pay attention to the actual what-happens. 
   My own history has taught me that the moment one realizes they could potentially be in a lot of trouble is almost always quite shocking.  I’m convinced it’s not that slow burn of dread that one has to worry about.  Instead, it’s the sudden unexpected threat that you never even knew existed.  I guess a wiser woman would take a long look at these last few statements and accept the fact that most things in life are out of one's control.  As a result, I should just say, “screw it.”
   This brings me to my New Year’s resolution.  The other day I had someone ask me what I wanted to change about myself this year.  Surprisingly, my answer was rather abrupt.  I state, “surprisingly,” since up to that point I hadn’t really considered altering anything about the rut I’ve grown so comfortable in.  However at that moment I found myself quickly answering, “I want to worry less and be kinder to myself.”  Immediately I could tell this answer was not satisfactory to the listening party.  I could almost hear the gears in this person's brain grinding, “Don’t you want to exercise more?”  I stared directly into their confused face willing them to have me expand on my profound epiphany.  “Oh,” they answered halfheartedly and then scurried away.
   Additionally, I want to mention I did recently experience something a whole lot lighter on the terror scale…lighter, but still disturbing.  While I was playing in my closet…yes, I wrote, "playing," because that’s exactly what I often do when I need a stress reliever…I realized I hated just about every handbag I own.  The thought just fell out of the sky and suddenly I was terribly weighed down by the smothering idea that all of my purses were cheap, outdated, and juvenile.  How could I possibly not have seen this before?  I call myself a personal style blogger?  Who was I trying to kid?
   Of course, as I sit here now writing this post I’ve had a chance to calm myself down.  I no longer have the urge to throw away every purse I own…which is good because I have an undeniable habit of getting these urges and then giving bags and bags of my closet away before I really consider what I’m doing.  While I've come to the conclusion that I do have quite a few purses I could comfortably part with, I'll also admit that I may have been just a touch moody the other evening and perhaps exaggerated the issue.  In any case, I find this situation to be the perfect opportunity to exercise my New Year’s resolution.  I pledge to be kinder to myself when considering the fact that I don’t yet have the money saved for a Louis Vuitton.   I will not worry about when I might be able to afford my, “dream bags.”  Lastly, if I ever get anywhere close to having the cheddar needed to chase down one of these babies I promise to say, “Screw it!  Visa, you pay the rest!”  Who says resolutions have to be unpleasant?  Looking at these pictures now, all I can think is, “Thank God I still like my coat collection or this could be a terrifying year for my finances."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Time Travel and Nonsense

   Yet again, I think it’s fairly obvious that I took these pictures quite some time ago. was one of those mild and carefree Fall days spent wearing only a belted cardigan.  As I sit here this January evening, nearly cocooned in wool, I look at these images and think, “You crazy nudist hippie!  I can’t believe there was a time I went coatless!"  
   Admittedly, like every good storyteller, I'm prone to exaggeration.  For example, today it was a balmy 30 degrees.  Suddenly I found myself confronted with the task of actually trying to style an outfit rather than just coordinating my coat with a hat.  Strangely enough, the possibility of actually removing my overcoat in public now seems almost daunting.  I haven’t done it in so long it seems unladylike.  
   While I was finally warm enough today to shed my, “outer skin,” I have to admit I slacked big on the actual styling of my ensemble.  If there’s one good thing to be said about winter on the Plains it’s that there is no better excuse to wear one’s comfy clothes.  Like I mentioned earlier, slap on your best jazzy hat paired with your favorite vintage coat and you’re golden.  In addition, I also believe that there is no, “Meh,” looking day that the right lipstick can’t perk up.  Think of this as the old Courtney Love philosophy.  “Yes my dress might look like I dug it out of a dumpster behind a Catholic girl’s school, but look at my lipstick!  You’ll remember me.” 
   Speaking of my beloved Courtney…and I kid not…I loved her so much in college that I hunted down a cheap thrift store star necklace simply because I saw her wearing one in multiple pictures…do I even have to mention that I still wear it?...  Anyway, speaking of Courtney brings me to my actual activities today where I was delighted to find myself hunting for vinyl records with a good friend.  While I was not wearing my, "Courtney necklace," I did find myself sporting some fairly garish lipstick that I believe she would have mightily approved.  In any case, the grunge goddess must have been with us considering the bounty of good albums we both ended up scoring.  Even though my friend has assured me she is working on perfecting our ability to time travel, I was so happy to find this treasure trove of tunes.  Until she unlocks the key to our way back to 1983 I will be content in knowing I can now stand in the middle of my record room like, “Quantum Leap’s,” Scott Bakula with a space heater dramatically blasting up at my hair while listening to the Madness album, “One Step Beyond,” and I will be in 1979…or a mental institution if someone walks in on me doing this.
   In actuality, I’m aware of the unfortunate fact that today the year is 2018.  I know that no matter how many old records I play, no matter how many vintage sweaters I belt, no matter how much, "Courtney makeup," I apply it will still be 2018.  Maybe...just maybe...if my friend could simply figure out how to return to the days of no coats I would finally be happy.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Habits of Haute (A Year of Style 2017)

   New Year’s Eve is upon us and with it comes my inevitable, “The Habits Of Haute,” post.  Considering all of my, “Year Of Style,” reviews…and I’m proud to state that this is the fourth…I declare 2017 my greatest visual triumph to date.  Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t give some credit to one of my favorite new companions.  Yes folks, you all told me and you were right…I love my iPhone! 
   Who knew that finally upgrading to a smart phone would have so much impact on my creativity?  Suddenly my images were privy to luxuries like cropping, filters, and easier mobility.  For example, I admit my old barn door at home has served me well throughout the years, but it sure was nice to be able to expand my backdrop repertoire.  In addition, I’m now convinced that there is no self portrait that can’t be remedied by a little, “Glamour Glow,” or, “Vintage Tint,” filter.  I look back at some of my unaltered images from years past and think, “I should really mess with that.  That could be something totally great.”
   Of course, the old Rayna…the romantic purest…is screaming on the inside at the thought of this.  In fact, I had many moments of guilt this year while contemplating the necessity of using filters and digital manipulation on my images.  “Have I become so incredibly vain that now I’m relying on electronic masquerade to make me appear more fabulous?” 
   I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to this question is, “Who cares!”  While I’ll admit to the overwhelming urge to manipulate each image I take of myself, I'll argue that I don’t necessarily intend to always make it look better.  In fact, I think that several of my altered portraits from last year were borderline creepy and I was quite happy with that.  It’s because of these images that this year was the first time in my, “Little House Of Haute,” history that I felt like I was combining my actual skills in art with my hobby.  As a result, this year I finally felt proud of my blog rather than silly.  I took note of the fact that I’ve created something interesting solely by myself.  I praised my countless afternoons spent styling outfits, gussying up, trolling for settings, posturing for poses, mentally cropping, digitally manipulating, drafting drivel, and most of all trying to keep the confidence to go on with a hobby that really puts oneself on display for potential criticism.   
   I guess it’s here that I would like to thank each person that has been kind to me regarding this blog.  These individuals have reached out to me over the years and made me feel like my hobby was not only legitimate, but captivating.  It’s because of the kindness of these friends that I have the confidence to continue creating something that may not be important to anyone else, but sure has been a lifesaver for me.  I’m not ashamed to admit that, “Little House Of Haute,” makes me feel like the artist I always needed to be.  Damn it!  I’m not just a 38 year old narcissistic shopaholic!  I’m a freaking fashion blogger!...and this blogger is eternally grateful for the support that her like-minded and talented friends have given her. 
   In closing, the above pictures may not be the most honest depictions of my life last year.  Admittedly, all of these images have obviously been altered to suit my mood for that day.  However, when one really thinks about it in those terms maybe they’re the most honest depictions I’ve ever created.