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.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Too Much Tofu!

   Recently I came across an interesting post on one of the many talented blogs I follow.  The title was something like, “Skirts in the winter…it’s a thing!”  To be perfectly honest I have no idea what the exact title of this amusing rant actually was.  In fact, if I was really going to fess up I would admit I didn’t even read the actual article but merely scanned it while thinking, “Yep, I knew it.  I knew I wasn’t the only one!"  Sometimes the tiniest bit of vindication is the only thing a lady needs.  
   I freely admit I love wearing long, flowy, bohemian style skirts and honestly think I could convert to solely them if not for the plunging South Dakota winter temperatures.  However, in my mind that’s why God made leggings.  Let me state that again.  God made leggings in order to have something warm to wear under a vintage skirt in the winter…as an undergarment…not a primary piece of clothing.  If I want to wear a pair of comfy pants I bust out the Champion brand sweats…coordinated with a pair of baggy gym shorts over them…and a sweatband around my head.  Okay, maybe I don’t go all hardcore, “Goonies,” on my days off, but I kind of want to. 
   Actually, it wasn’t so long ago that I was on the hunt for a new pair of Champions.  I was standing in the middle of Kmart, feeling defeated, when I ended up calling my brother in a tizzy seeking comfort for the fact that there was not a pair of drawstring sweats to be found in all of town.  “All I see is freakin leggings and yoga pants,” I raged.  At this point he had to, yet again, remind me that it was no longer 1984.     
   I think it’s obvious I can’t stand the athletic wear movement that has taken over mainstream women’s clothing.  This is probably a statement that will not earn me a lot of popularity.  However, I just feel like these garments have become a uniform that makes the general public extremely boring to look at.  I mean what ever happened to individuality?
   I experienced this firsthand the day I wore the outfit in the above images.  I had dressed to meet a friend for the afternoon and decided to get groceries after.  Unfortunately, I ended up going to a store that I usually don't frequent since I was closer to it's location.  Basically, I’m super cheap when it comes to food and I don’t see the point of buying Ben & Jerry’s for twice as much, simply to be seen shopping with the, "Who’s Who."  As I was walking the aisles I began to feel self-conscious of what I was wearing.  “This is odd,” I reflected.  "I thought this outfit was dynamite twenty minutes ago.  What the heck is wrong with me,” I wondered.  At this point I took a good look at my surroundings and noticed the glaring fact that I wasn’t, "in uniform."  Every female who walked by had on a pair of leggings, a back puffer coat, and a pair of Sorel boots.  The fact that I was wearing a now embarrassingly loud 90’s, relaxed fit, leopard print jumper with fringed cowgirl boots suddenly seemed tacky.  “This would have never happened at Walmart,” I silently cursed.
   This last statement brings me to the real issue I’ve been pondering.  I can’t stand it when people mock the style sense of those who shop at good ol’ Wally World.  While I understand that Walmart is the ultimate evil that puts many beloved mom and pop shops out of business, I also acknowledge that this company employs and empowers a lot of individuals that otherwise may have a hard time finding a job.  Lastly, I'll admit that I make fun of Walmart.  A lot of strange stuff can happen at that store…especially if you find yourself there in the wee hours of the morning.  However, I will never speak evil of what people wear while shopping there.  I can honestly state I have never seen such a fascinating mix of style.  Whether it be good or bad, there is no better place to witness individual character on display through fashion.  Most importantly, one can wear a leopard print jumper to Walmart and fit right in.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Lady In...Yellow?"

   I’m elated to report that today I actually found myself on an outing with…wait for it…A FRIEND!!!  It’s true!  It’s true!  I finally went out on the town with another person.  Granted my version of going, "out on the town," is spending the afternoon loitering at a coffee joint, but I like to think we did it up right.  I mean, it’s not often that I veer off my rigid, “eggs and cinnamon toast,” Saturday lunch routine.  I have to admit I felt pretty bad-ass after gobbling down a huge turkey, bacon, avocado wrap and slamming a giant tap water.  Yes, this is, “living it up,” in my late thirties. 
   …and I’m thrilled.  I had an absolutely delightful afternoon with a wonderful person. I was so thankful to get some much needed friend time.  In fact, I’m very pleased every time I’m able to meet up with my friends.  Apparently, being a, “serious adult,” means these opportunities are often scarce.  Everyone is busy working, taking care of their children or pets, spending time with significant others, or…"Erm"…taking hundreds of glamour shots.  You know, grown up stuff.  There simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.
   For instance, after I finish this post I need to forage for something edible for dinner.  Crap…we're out of Totino's pizzas.  In addition, I have to spend some quality time with my fuzzy friends…or there will be consequences.  Reminder to self...don’t piss off your cats.  Lastly, I'm dying to wrap up the last season of, “Longmire,” on Netflix.  Yes, I said, “Longmire.”  I admit it.  I adore anything remotely related to the Western genre.  Again, I’m a 38 year old woman living in the Midwest.  This is only natural.  Okay, maybe my, “Bonanza,” obsession is a little odd, but that’s a whole separate blog post.
   Anyway, it was a true luxury to get all dressed up today to be one of the, “ladies who lunch.”  During this outing I found myself going on and on about…who the heck knows?  I sure don’t.  I think I get so excited when I socialize with people that I just mindlessly babble.  However at one point I did become lucid enough to hear myself utter the sentences, “I’m really into the color yellow lately!  It’s so weird because I’ve never really liked this color before.  I think it’s because I’ve always thought it to be very girly and you know…I’m like more tough than that.  I like black, and blue, and gray….”  By this point even I was getting bored of my commentary.  God bless my friend and her undying patience.  Like I mentioned earlier, I get so starved for peer interaction I turn into a total idiot. 
   While I’m regretting not having something more interesting to contribute to the conversation than my new favorite color, I will state that I'm still surprised at this new found fondness for yellow.  It’s just never been my thing.  Now, before this ridiculous topic takes over my post I think I should try to relate it to the above pictures.  The reason I was reflecting on this earlier conversation is because sitting here now, looking at these images, I simply don’t see a lady who wears yellow.  Black…yes.  Gray…great.  Red…I’m a Leo, so it’s kind of a given…but yellow?  Who is this woman I’ve become?
   All I can reason is that the person in the pictures above is the solitary type.  The kind of individual who hits the coffee shop solo and then gets down to business at the public library quietly reading her latest thriller.  However, the lady who came out today…well…she still hits the coffee shop…some habits will never die…but, she’s got company.  She’s laughing and blathering on about random crap in her notoriously loud voice.  Now this is a woman who likes yellow.  Huh…I wonder if the woman who likes purple drinks coffee?

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."