Sunday, February 28, 2016

By the Belt

   I believe I’ve mentioned that during the winter months I find it extremely hard to muster enthusiasm toward my appearance.  Lately it always seems to be either dreary, foggy, or cold outside.  Really when I think about it I barely have the motivation to leave my house, let alone plan an outfit.  Besides, on my days off work I only ever go to my regular Starbucks or the Public Library to read.  I will state that after some pretty lengthy people watching at both locations I’m starting to think that it’s totally possible to overdress.  What I mean by this statement is, just because it’s a person’s day off and they’re finally not required to wear their completely drab work attire does not mean they have to go, "all out," for the afternoon.  From what I’ve been witnessing most individuals seem partial to the classic sweatpants plus Ugg boots combination.  Now keep in mind I stated MOST individuals.  There was that one time I was entering a Walmart on a Thursday afternoon and passed by this twenty-something female who was leaving wearing the most lovely cobalt blue, 80’s style, taffeta gown!  It was the middle of a winter work day and she had a cart load of groceries.  Despite the odd looks she was getting from the general public, that woman held her head high and marched through the mucky parking lot like she was royalty.  I was in awe.  “Good for you,” I thought as I shamefully acknowledged yet another afternoon of wearing Uggs.
   It would be accurate to say that women like the one I saw that day at Walmart inspire me.  Yep, that’s right folks, I found a stranger in the Walmart parking lot inspirational.  She didn’t care if she looked totally ridiculous wearing a prom dress, probably from 1986, to get groceries.  I assume she simply liked the dress and perhaps it was laundry day.  Whatever her reasons were for getting all, "dolled up," to hit, “Wally World,” this style blogger owes that lady a debt of gratitude.  Suddenly I had the urge to get creative with my clothes again.
   Lately one of my biggest fashion obsessions has been belts.  I can’t seem to get enough of them.  I find myself constantly trolling my favorite websites and thrift stores in search of my next favorite.  Recently at Goodwill I came across the little beauty I’m wearing in the photographs above.  There it was hanging hidden among all the others.  I almost missed it when I caught a glimmer of…gasp, could I be so lucky?!...its’ silver concho focal point.  For those of you who may not know me personally, I'm a total sucker for western wear.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as too much fringe or conchos.  (This statement will become totally clear when I finally decide to unveil a certain jacket I picked up while thrifting.)  Not only did this, destined to me mine, belt have a western vibe it also possessed other abstract details that gave it a 1980’s motif.  “80’s cowgirl,” I thought.  “IT’S MINE!!!”
   Between acquiring my new belt and witnessing the, "Woman of Walmart," I felt a renewed energy toward this blog.  This is more than I can say about how I feel toward the state of cleanliness in my house. (Which is sadly apparent by the floors shown in some of the photographs above.)  What can I say, maybe if I’d run into Mr. Clean outside of Walmart things would be different.  Despite my embarrassment towards well…being a pig…I’m happy to report I had a lot of fun constructing three separate looks using my new belt as inspiration.  I was surprised at how easy this accessory was to incorporate into each outfit.  It seems this belt goes with just about anything.  I’m highly considering pairing it with cobalt blue taffeta next.

Outfit #1
Sweater:  Banana Republic
Jeans:  Gap
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  Isabella Fiore
Necklace:  Thrifted

Outfit #2
Blazer:  Thrifted  (Made in West Germany and so soft!)
Jeans:  Henry & Belle
Boots:  Ugg
Scarf:  Thrifted
Gloves:  Vintage
Sunglasses:  Vintage

Outfit #3
Blazer:  Nick & Mo   
Skirt:  Thrifted
Boots:  Ugg

*Belt:  Vintage  (Carolyn Tanner Designs Inc.)  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My New Bestie

   I’m obsessed with the idea that a wardrobe can possess a lot of control over the construction of one’s identity.  What I mean is, I believe I can alter peoples’ impression of me just by what I’m wearing.  I find extreme comfort in the idea that I have some sort of control over the world’s perception of me.  On the other hand, I suppose I could look at it differently and become paranoid about every clothing purchase I make.  I can imagine thinking, “What does this much fringe say about me?”  As of now my answer would be, “Uh…that I’m fantastic and have at least one Richie Havens record in my vinyl collection.”  Who could possibly object to that?
   No, I don’t see myself ever being afraid of making a statement through clothing.  If anything I worry that sometimes my outfits are not, “saying,” enough about me.  Especially during the long winter months when I often feel like dressing simply for survival of the elements.  It’s the old cute vs. conscious conundrum.  I want to maintain my integrity as a style, "conscious," individual however, I would also like to remain conscious and not fall asleep as hypothermia sets in.  I can only hope if the latter of these two statements occurs I will be wearing enough fringe at the time for the authorities to identify me as, “Rayna, that odd woman who is still listening to Richie Havens.”
   Sometimes I believe being a person obsessed with clothing can hurt my chances of ultimately expressing who I am through fashion.  To explain, as one might imagine I have a lot of clothes.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have the ability to indulge in my addiction to fashion.  Writing this now I almost feel ashamed of the fact that while others are simply foraging for items to keep warm, I’m spending serious time contemplating if, “warm,” is the concept I want to reflect with my wardrobe.  However, I do want to state that I acknowledge the fact that I’m privileged and want to reciprocate this good karma by presenting my best self to the public.  Therefore, if I need to shop in order to achieve this then I'm willing.  Man, that even sounded like a crock of shit to me.  I guess it’s obvious that addicts will shamelessly say anything to continue their destructive behavior.   
   Returning to my earlier statement, I do believe that individuals who have less in the way of clothing seem to reveal more of their personality through fashion.  The reason I state this is because these people often wear many of the same items repeatedly.  In my mind, pieces that get worn frequently are favored by their owners.  In a way these items start to define the public’s perception of that individual.  For example, while I was growing up my Mom always wore a pair of tiger eye stud earrings.  To this day, anytime I see a piece of jewelry made with tiger eye I have feelings of, “Mom.”  I also can’t seem to bring myself to personally buy any of these pieces because it’s not me.  Tiger eye jewelry is Mom.  I mention this example because it’s my favorite.  However, I have multiple friends that I define with their favorite articles of clothing as well.  I know, “he,” loves fancy cowboy boots and wishes there was a way men too could show off the tops of them more.  At the same time I know, “she,” is super conservative when it comes to style, except when considering long dangling earrings.  Here is a subject where anything is fair game.   
   I guess my overall point is I love the idea of fashion defining character.  I find it fascinating to recognize what pieces people treasure and even more interesting to realize how I myself categorize these individuals by their favorites.  I hope that despite the quantity of items I have in my wardrobe I possess pieces, worn often enough, that others believe define me.  This being stated, recently I thrifted the parka I’m wearing in the above photographs.  As soon as I laid eyes on it at the store I knew I wouldn’t mind if my character was defined by this beautiful piece.  As a result, I’ve been wearing it virtually every day since I bought it.  Ironically enough, I believe this coat will keep me cute and conscious in the cold.  Now, who says you can’t have it all?

Coat:  Thrifted
Sweater:  Ralph Lauren
Jeans:  Gap
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  Frye
Scarf:  Etsy
Sunglasses:  Vintage

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Forget Skinning the Cat!!!

   Recently, it occurred to me that there may be more than one way to wear a scarf.  “Well duh,” you’re probably thinking.  However, I’m serious when I state that it never occurred to me that I have styling options when dealing with neck-wear.  To explain, I’d first like to point out that I’m not known for being the most observant person out there.  I also admit to having a strong tendency towards doing things the same way for like…ever.  For example, a couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on how I couldn’t figure out that I should turn my camera vertically in order to effectively photograph an entire outfit from head to toe.  I was simply so used to taking horizontal pictures it never occurred to me that by simply turning the body of the camera I would be able to better crop my style images.  Actually, I was reminded of this blog post the other day when my father pointed out that I could store my vinyl albums in a much more productive manner if I simply set them inside my milk crates rather than slide them in, "bookcase style."  It honestly never occurred to me to store them any other way.  This statement is true, despite the fact that even record stores have their merchandise displayed the way he suggested in order for shoppers to easily flip through albums while viewing their covers.  “What the hell is wrong with me?” I thought as I began the laborious process of rearranging my music collection.
   I would like to think that the reason I overlook so many of the alternative answers to life’s little, “problems,” is because I’m busy ruminating about major philosophical topics.  While I'll mention, I do spend a lot of time thinking about the supremely weird and abstract, I'll also confess to being kind of a, “half-assed,” type person…especially when I’m not interested in a situation.  Okay, so maybe I enjoy the process of picking out an outfit more than I do photographing it.  In addition, I find it totally believable to think that I much prefer listening to my records than meticulously organizing and storing them…lets add cleaning them to the list as well.  I could care less about the inevitable cat hair vinyl seems to attract.  Huh, considering this statement makes me wonder if there is an effective way to keep feline fur off vinyl.  I just always accepted the fact that I have hairy records and a cat who seems to love classic rock. 
   The day I took the photographs above I had yet another, "revelation."  All of a sudden it occurred to me that I could tuck my scarf into my belt transforming it into something like a sweater vest.  Now, am I taking credit for figuring out a new trend?  Hardly, I’m pretty sure I saw something similar plastered all over the pages of Free People years ago.  However, I am giving myself kudos for finally realizing that I was capable of wearing such a thing.  On this particular day wearing my scarf simply tied around my neck was underwhelming, not to mention it's length kept covering up a belt I wanted to show off.  Suddenly I realized, “Wait, just put the belt over the scarf!”  It’s like the first time I thought, “Hey, I don’t always have to wear my belts through the belt loops of my pants!  I can wear them at my natural waist line and put them over my shirts!  Holy crap, did anyone else know a belt can actually be used as an adornment, rather than just a functional piece to hold one’s pants up?!”  I’d like to say that these thoughts occurred to me a long time ago…"Uh, they didn’t.”  As a result, future pictures may make it extremely obvious to my readers, that I’m really into belts as of late.  I mean come on, it’s like a necklace for one’s waist!      
   I guess posts like this one should disturb me.  Why don’t I think outside of the box, (or milk crate,) once in a while?  Why is it that I accept things simply because I’ve always done them a particular way?  Perhaps, the next step toward enlightenment will be wearing a dress as a shirt.  Nah, I’ve done that.  Maybe I should flip my headband from traditional style to horizontal, hippie style.  Nope, rode that train as well.  I know, how about I wear my blue jeans backwards?  It worked for rappers Kris Kross, why can’t it work for me?  Yep, I could wear my pants backwards...I know, I’ll roll one leg up and leave the other one down…maybe I’ll pair this with a crop top…there should be fringe, lots of fringe...and wait, would it be weird to belt a camouflage jacket?…

Shirt:  DKNY Pure
Jeans:  Henry & Belle
Belt:  Vintage
Boots:  Ugg
Purse:  Vintage  (Dooney & Bourke)
Scarf:  The Limited
Necklace:  Self made
Sunglasses:  Gift from Al  (Versace)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

pop, Pop, POP!

   It’s my opinion that the worst sound a woman can hear while getting dressed for an evening out is, “pop, Pop, POP!”  At this time some of you readers may be wondering if I’m living in South Central L.A, a setting the music industry has established as a hub of massive gang violence and constant drive-by shootings.  The answer to this question is no.  Thank God this prairie, “princess,” has never had to experience the horrors of fearing for her life on a daily basis.  Nope, when this lady hears a, “pop, Pop, POP!” noise while in her bedroom she knows it’s not a shot coming from a gun, but rather a racket provoked by her guns...pfff..sorry, couldn’t help that one.
   To explain, I would first like to clarify that in no way am I trying to make light of urban violence.  I understand it’s a tragic problem in our country that claims many innocent victims and cripples entire communities from achieving any type of social progress.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in my home only to hear a sound that would terrify me enough to dive down on the floor in an effort to not be killed by flying bullets.  The thought alone is horrific.  No, my privileged reality is much different.  Thankfully I was not fearing for my life the evening I heard, “pop, Pop, POP!” Although I can state that I was struck with a kind of terror.  However, my fear was far removed from that which was previously discussed.  The night I heard that fateful fuss I knew instantly my windows were fully intact but, “Damn it!  I blew out my coat!”
   Now, there are probably people who exist that would read this statement and think, “What the heck does she mean, “blew out her coat?”  To those people I’d like to say, “You're even more privileged than I!”  Unfortunately, it’s not been an uncommon occurrence in my life to have my clothes periodically explode off of me.  In fact, this has happened frequently with coats in particular.  Okay, and yes, I will admit to having my pants drastically split while wearing them.  However, in my defense I work at a greenhouse where us employees are quite physically active.  Think lots of squatting, lifting, and carrying heavy objects.  It’s quite common for daily wardrobe, “blow outs,” to occur.  This being stated, the evening I blew out my coat’s shoulder seams I merely bent over to pick up my clutch purse. “Sigh”…
   Here’s where I try to salvage my dignity.  I will state that the coat I’m wearing in the pictures above is a vintage piece.  Keeping that in mind, I would like to further argue that vintage clothing is often quite small, considering the ladies of long ago were of rather petite stature.  In some ways this fact suits my body type just fine.  Unfortunately, in other aspects it can be rather inconvenient considering my height, my gibbon-like arm length, and my apparently broad shouldered frame.  Seriously, taking this into consideration I should have been an awesome athlete.  Stupid team sports!...not everyone interacts well with others!
   Returning to the topic at hand, the night I wanted to debut my beautiful vintage find I ended up nearly ripping the sleeves off in an attempt to pivot my body to reach my purse.  Needless to say, I was appalled to have marred such a treasured piece before I could even really wear it.  In the end, I was still able to wear this coat to the party that evening.  Luckily, due to the placement of the rips there was enough fur to cover the damage.  Suddenly, my one of a kind vintage treasure transformed from an extra small to a much needed medium.  I wore the coat with pride that evening, and not only was I comfortable, but I received many lovely compliments on it.  In closing, I can confidentially say that the next time I hear, “pop, Pop, POP!” while wearing this coat I can guarantee it’s more likely I’m throwing discus in it than cruising in California.

Coat:  Vintage
Sweater:  Thrifted (Ugly sweater rack at Savers!)
Jeans:  Henry & Belle
Boots:  Ugg
Necklace:  Alfani