Sunday, August 30, 2015

From Hot Pink Pleather to Cream Colored Paisley

   About a month ago it was my birthday.  On this most grievous of days, I wore the outfit featured in the photographs above.  In an attempt to ease the anxiety I was feeling about turning 36 my mother asked me, "What would make you happy on that day?"  My response was, "I would like to take blog pictures, quaff a pizza, and, "drop a bunch of clams," on vinyl albums at Barnes & Noble." Guess what folks, that's exactly what I did!
   Upon answering her question, I realized how much my definition of the, "perfect birthday," has changed over the years.  Celebrating my birthday in July, I remember as a child having several, "pool," parties spent running through sprinklers and skidding off the end of a slip n' slide.  One particularly memorable childhood birthday included a trip to the park where my thumbnail was ripped off by a rusty swing in the shape of a rather ominous looking swan.  Damn swan.  That birthday all I remember is blood, copious amounts of blood.  Of course I've always been prone to exaggeration, especially if it makes a good story, so God only know's what the real crime scene looked like.  All I can say is never trust a fishing story that comes from me.
   Interestingly enough, I remember absolutely no birthday parties from my teen years.  I must have had them, right?  However, I think I was so, "anti," everything at the time I probably refused to acknowledge my birthday at all.  Besides, I was busy doing things like declaring my love to Eddie Vedder, writing lyrics to songs from The Cure all over my Converse, and trying my hardest to learn to actually LIKE coffee to partake in silly kid games like birthday parties.
   In my twenties I had several rather memorable birthday swarays.  One of my favorite memories took place while in college at MSUM in Moorhead, MN.  At this time I was rooming in a duplex over the summer with my now ex-boyfriend and two of our male friends.  I remember being the only female of that bunch could sometimes be challenging and there were several occasions I would loiter at local parks reading novels in order to finally enjoy some peace and quiet.  Despite the several disagreements I had with those roommates, I will never forget the surprise birthday shindig they threw me.  That night it seemed like over half the student body at Moorhead State filled our tiny house and yard in search of ridiculously cheap beer and ice cream cake.  The best part was my roommates demanded that all men in attendance wore a suit or sport coat and tie in order to enter!  I guess those dudes just figured they owed me for all the shit I put up with from them.  Whatever the reason, to this day I can't hear a song by The Cars without thinking about Miller High Life, Dairy Queen cake, and thrift store suits.
   During my early thirties, birthday celebrations had started to slow down a bit.  There was no more drunken yard ornament stealing, (I was fond of plastic flamingos), or cops being called to shut the party down.  There was however one rather ridiculous birthday at a club where several friends and I hit the dance floor to bust some serious moves to Daft Punk with a concrete garden gnome.  Wait, it seems yard tchotchkes have played a pretty large role during my birthdays over the years.  I guess I was simply born to be in the horticulture industry!        
   Anyway, reminiscing about all of these past birthday events made me realize how much I've changed over the years.  Now, a party to me means a trip to the bookstore and  a decaf latte. Likewise, at the age of 36 I now wear things like cream colored paisley skirts, instead of hot pink snakeskin pleather pants.  No really, I had those pants in college.  I bought them to celebrate my twenty first birthday, and celebrate I did!  However, even if I still had those pants, (Which, I don't.  I ask you how does somebody loose their pants?  Seriously, I don't know the answer.)  I would still opt for the boring old calf length skirt.  Because, when one turns 36 they don't want it documented they ever wore pleather.  At 36 it's time to face the fact that pleather no longer suits me physically, or mentally for that matter.  Plus, I'm pretty sure it would squeak while sliding into the cafe booths at Barnes.

Skirt:  Vintage
Sandals:  Frye
Purse:  Lucky Brand
Belt:  Thrifted 
Earrings:  Sundance  (Birthday gift from my parents)
Necklace:  Free People
Sunglasses:  Coach

*  All photographs taken by Clark.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


   To begin, I would like to clarify that the above outfit was what I was wearing when I officially composed my, "Aha Moment," for an online campaign featuring the Mutual of Omaha insurance company.  What is an, "Aha Moment," you ask?  I was asking the same thing when I received a random comment on this very blog asking me to be part of their project!  Basically an, "Aha Moment," was described as an event, place, time, or person that may have permanently altered my life for the better.  I was informed that Mutual of Omaha sends a mobile trailer of employees across the country each year searching for inspirational, "Aha Moments," from everyday people. Apparently since one of the stops this year was in Sioux Falls, SD they decided to hunt down local bloggers, a.k.a. people who love to talk about themselves.  I suspect this is how Mutual of Omaha found me.  This ultimately concluded in some serious self reflection in an effort to define my, "Aha Moment."
   If you know me personally you probably already saw the product of my online commercial debut. How could you not, I posted it all over my Facebook wall.  What can I say, I was drunk with the idea of a picture of me that finally moved and talked.  Not that I thought it was perfect by any means.  Am I the only one who is totally creeped out by the sound of my own voice?  Also, I seem to do this slow blinking thing with only one eye while on camera.  Between that and the voice thing I kinda felt like the strange chic on the bus that nobody feels comfortable sitting by.  
   Despite these minor insecurities, I was overall pleased with how my, "Aha Moment," turned out.  I chose to define this moment as when I decided to move back to my rural home state of South Dakota after trying to, "find myself," in the big bad city.  The overall theme of my story was that, rather than looking around the outside world for the answers I was searching for, all I had to do was some reflection inside.  Eventually I learned that I always knew who I was and leaving my comfortable surroundings only hindered this confidence of identity.  Ultimately, I've discovered that through the support of close family and friends I feel capable of pursuing many of my goals.  Goals, a word that brings me to my true, "Aha Moment."  The one I was not quite honest about.
   Now that I'm writing this on my own platform, I'm willing to share my true, "Aha Moment."  The second I read the request from Mutual of Omaha to define this moment I knew what mine was. However, some moments are extremely personal.  Some moments are the type you share, but absolutely not with the Mutual of Omaha logo popping up on the screen after it.  These moments belong to the individual who lived them, not a commercial.  I believe these moments can be important, even cathartic, to reveal but on one's own terms not another's request.  So, with all that being said I can honestly state that my true, "Aha Moment," was when I finally realized once and for all I had to quit drinking.  
   Without going into too much detail, ever since I first tried drinking at the age of 15, alcohol has been a problem for me.  Like many, it has taken me to very dark places, caused me to do despicable things, and destroyed a lot of opportunities for me.  Personally, alcohol represents a pox of misery ranging from low self esteem to an absolute apathetic attitude towards life.  Honestly, it horrifies me to think of what I would be like today if I had never quit drinking but,....
   I DID! and next June it will be five years since I last imbibed.  Whew, so there it is folks.  My true, "Aha Moment."  However, I guess I was being kind of honest on camera when I said my moment was moving back home.  I can state, it's a fact I would've never quit drinking for this amount of time without the support and familiar surroundings of home.  It's also a fact that this new sober version of me is finally feeling confident enough to pursue her goals.  Who knew these would include online inspirational commercials?  Huh...

Overalls:  Calvin Klein  
Boots:  Thrifted
Necklace:  Baublebar

Blind Melon, "Tones of Home," video:
(because this post made me think of this fantastic tune.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Oh, Yes it's Ladies Night and the Feeling's right..."

   Well, it finally happened.  I've finally resorted to wearing, "jammies," in public.  Actually, not only did I wear them in public, I photographed this event for my fashion blog.  It's official people.  I have given up.  
   Okay, actually I want to clarify that the clothing I'm wearing in the pictures above are not literally what I sleep in.  No, they are WAY too nice for that.  I believe it was just the other day Al stopped me and asked, "You are going to change out of that T shirt before we leave, right?"  I mean, you get one fist sized hole in the armpit of an extremely comfy shirt and suddenly it's only fit for wearing around the house?  What the heck?!  
   Seriously though, while I'm a huge fan of simple cotton T's, I never delve into the rather dicey realm of the knit pant.  What can I say, this girl is denim all the way!  Of course now that I'm reading in all the high fashion magazines that denim if the, "IT," trend of Fall 2015, I've discovered the unbelievable comfort provided by a drawstring waist.  I mean man, did anyone else know about this? Royal Fork Buffet here I come!
   I guess I just always thought women who wore knit pants in public didn't care at all about appearance.  To me, the subject of lounge wear has always been a category of clothing that belonged among the ranks of T shirts with huge holes.  I've always thought of these items of apparel as something only worthy of getting massively covered in cat hair while LOUNGING around the house.  It never occurred to me that some of these articles of clothing can be kind of cute while on the go.   I suppose one is not obligated to carry an unbelievable shedding cat around like an infant just because she has comfortable pants on.  Likewise, I'm sure I can learn to eat like a controlled and civilized person, even though I have an elastic waistband on.  
   What I'm saying here is, even though lounge wear makes a person physically feel as comfortable as when they're at home, it's important to act civil while wearing it in public.  In other words, don't, "pound," a Pepsi and burp the lyrics of, "La Bamba," while wearing, "jammie," pants at your favorite restaurant.  Side note:  burping, "La Bamba," is something my coworkers and I've been doing for years.  Many props to the two individuals who do it best.  You know who you are.  Wait, with all this talk about bodily functions, cat hair, and gluttony I suddenly feel like I need to prove to the public that I'm not that chic hanging out in the Walmart parking lot smoking cigarettes in her plaid fleece drawstring pants and XL Grumpy Cat T shirt.  If you look at the photographs above you'll notice I'm wearing a, "Golden Girls," T shirt and I quit smoking years ago, so...
   The day I finally passed on wearing denim a good girl friend of mine and I decided to have a ladies night out at the movies.  I'll admit I was feeling kind of lazy that afternoon and by the time evening came around I was not excited to roll from the couch and chase the cat off me.  It was at that moment that I thought about the, "women of the Walmart parking lot."  Suddenly, I thought differently of them. Maybe they weren't all just the cliche lazy, unimaginative slobs, who didn't concern themselves with appearance.  Maybe they were ladies just like me, who were just having an off day and didn't want to concern themselves with their outfits.  Maybe, just maybe sometimes appearance is not the main concern.  Wait...what?!
   So with this new concept of freedom I went forth into the public eye with my, "jammie," worthy ensemble.  Okay it wasn't like I was giving a speech or something, I hid in a dark movie theater where I could guiltily enjoy a serious chic flick among other females.  Speaking of other females, I want to apologize at this time to any lady I may have ever criticized due to what she was wearing. It's none of my damn business why you're wearing pajamas during the daytime.  For this, I'm sorry and, "Hey, no hard feelings about why you never told me how comfortable it is."

  T shirt:  Thrifted
Pants:  Lucky Brand
Moccasins:  Minnetonka
Purse:  Coach

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chic but Shoeless

   I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Fashion is power!"  I'm a true believer that one can completely alter their self esteem through their wardrobe.  Because what is clothing other than a means of self expression?  Okay, I suppose for some individuals clothing is only a way to stay warm and properly present themselves to the public.  However, this blogger would argue that even those people who claim they don't care about fashion are reflecting their personality through this lack of attention toward appearance.  
   Which brings me to the topic of people watching.  Most individuals at one time or another have found themselves partaking in this type of activity.  I challenge anyone to state that they have not been able to construct some kind of fictional background toward every person they have encountered while viewing the public.  What is the basis for these hypothetical histories?  I believe that appearance, rather than behavior, is the deciding factor behind whether the guy ahead of you in the Starbucks line is a dentist or a serial killer. Wait, didn't I see a movie about that once?
   Back to the topic at hand, I believe it's completely possible for one to recreate their history through personal style.  Of course, this is most effective when dealing with strangers who aren't aware of your past.  Case in point, one walks into a bright and sunny cafe' wearing a black '80's Cure tour T-shirt, black leather pants, lace finger-less gloves, and navy blue lipstick.  The person who is people watching a few booths down immediately labels this individual as a Goth and wonders, "Does she really sleep hanging upside down, and Damn, it's been a long time since I've smoked a clove cigarette.  I wonder if I could bum one of those from her?"  The average people watcher would never question how many kids a Goth may have, or what they may do to earn a living.  Based on appearance alone, it's simply clear to the general public that a Goth's job is simply to sit around and brood, and they obviously eat their children...right?   
   Now, I also believe it's possible to alter the opinions of those individuals who already know a person, simply by changing one's appearance.  An example would go like this, Rayna walks into work one day wearing the exact uniform she's always worn with the addition of navy blue lipstick. Rayna's coworkers of ten years begin to chatter among themselves that, "She's been acting differently, and does she seemed depressed?"  I'm also certain that the three little words, "Early Midlife Crisis," may be thrown around a bit.  To which Rayna, (okay yeah, enough with the third person shtick), would respond, "Uh, duh!"
   The reason I'm currently so focused on the topic of people watching is because the day I took these photos I hoped to hell no one was watching me.  On this particular day I found myself, yet again, on the quest for a tall decaf vanilla latte at my regular Starbucks.  I was feeling pretty secure with my outfit and the persona it conveyed that afternoon.  I was really thrilled to be wearing a pair of authentic Isaac Mizrahi wedges I had thrifted.  I actually felt that these designer shoes elevated my status at least a couple of notches in the public's eye.  However, upon finishing my beverage and packing up my book to go I stood only to have the entire sole of one of these sandals almost completely peel off.  Of course, this created a large piece of rubber to flap at the bottom and every time I took a step it created an ungodly loud, "THWAP!" noise.  After about three steps there was an additional peeling sound and suddenly the entire heel of my designer wedge detached itself from the top of my sandal.  At this point the bottom of my shoe skidded across the coffee shop floor landing underneath another customer's table.  I considered leaving it there but thought the barista may not like the mess so I excused myself, grabbed the remnants of my broken sandal and dignity, only to walk unevenly with one bare foot and one wedge out the door.  Again, here is an example of how shoes alone took me from fashionista to trainwreck in about twenty seconds.
   So, next time you find yourself people watching and someone is wearing shoes that, "THWAP!" every time they take a step, give 'em a break!  It may not mean they can't afford to buy better shoes. It could simply be a case of wardrobe malfunction.  Of course, it also could be a case of not giving a crap.  To this type of individual I would like to state, "Right on!, and could you pass me that navy blue lipstick?"

Shirt:  Tulle
Jeans:  Kasil Workshop
Sandals:  Isaac Mizrahi (Good thing I got a picture because they're in the trash now!)
Purse:  Matt & Nat
Earrings:  Vintage
Ring:  Free People
Sunglasses:  Versace

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Swimwear is for Savages

   Not so long ago my like minded brother and I had a conversation about summer apparel. Specifically, we addressed the subject of shorts, swimwear, and our shared distaste for all clothing that shows skin.  After about an hour of bickering about the acceptable amount of body surface to expose to the public, we came to the shared conclusion that we both believe swimwear is for savages.
   Of course, this was only after my brother vehemently accused me of being a big fan of, "hot tubbin," due to the fact that I have one at my house.  At this point I would like to interject, yet again, said hot tub has remained sans water for the past two seasons.  So I can assure you dear brother there has been no, "hot tubbin," going on up in here!
   In addition, my brother also questioned whether he, "still knew me," due to the fact that I've recently been wearing...gasp, shorts without leggings, tights, or nylons.  Yep, no emo undertones at all just, "Hey, it's freak'n hot.  I'm gonna wear shorts."  I want to clarify that the shorts I've been wearing as of late are cut off at the knee.  Also each pair is riddled with bleach marks, rips, and even some psychedelic patches and embroidery added by me.  So again, never fear brother I'm not aiming for the sexy twenty something booty short.  Not that I have to write this.  I believe he realizes what kind of grungy, "hippie," he's talking to.  
   Speaking of this, I was recently reminded by a friend from high school that way back in the day I used to wear shorts on a fairly regular basis.  Actually, I should specify I wore ONE pair of shorts, (black knee length cutoffs), quite often.  In fact, I wore them so often it must have made quite an impression on this friend because she reminded me I constantly paired them with black on black converse high tops and my standby baja hoodie.  Okay people, before you judge remember it was the 90's. Dumpster diving, heroin chic androgyny was in.  For real, it was!
   I'm not sure specifically when I became uncomfortable wearing shorts with bare legs.  I'm also unsure why both my brother and I find it absolutely unacceptable to wear any type of swimwear in public.  What I am sure of is the common insecurity of body image is not either one of our problems at this time.  I'm okay with what I got.  I'm just extremely selective of when I show it.   If I was forced to define what I think shaped my brother and I's general distaste for summer specific garments, I believe I would pinpoint my upbringing.  Sorry parents, but it's the only explanation.
   To clarify, I was raised by not only a librarian but also the ultimate bookworm.  In my mind, "bookish," individuals are not, "naked people." Bookstores and libraries are generally kept very cold in the summer and it's not uncommon to see librarians donning there long sleeved, button down check shirts with matching sweater vest combination during the months of July and August.  I would also point out that the, "bookish," individuals I know do not swim in public pools, mow their lawns without a shirt on, wear shorts even when walking around an art festival in 90 degree weather, or chew gum.   So the last item on the list has nothing to do with the topic at hand.  However, I can vouch for the fact that certain librarians don't chew gum.  Furthermore, as a warning they find it a vile and disgusting habit that they will point out to you if they ever catch you doing it.  
   At this point you're probably wondering what this post could possibly have to do with the outfit pictured above.  My answer is, not much.  However, the day I wore this ensemble I found myself at the farmer's market battling extremely high humidity and thinking, "Really Rayna, why did you have to go with both a dress and jeans?"  
   In conclusion, what I'm stating here is that my brother and I were both raised with a definite example of what is and is not the appropriate amount of skin to show to the general public.   If one finds themselves unsure of these guidelines I would recommend going to the nearest academic library.  Ask yourself, "What would my librarian wear?"  Better yet ask yourself, "what would the grungy hippie loitering at the library wear?"  Then do the exact opposite.

Dress:  Vintage  
Jeans:  Thrifted (Men's Rustler)
Moccasins:  Minnetonka
Purse:  Frye
Necklace:  Ettika
Ring:  Purchased at a craft fair.
Sunglasses:  Coach