Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Reading

Like any great streak it had to end. After three months of intriguing plots, new authors, engaging characters and prose I re-read because it hit me so hard, this month was mostly a snooze. I read more ‘meh’ books than not. A bit unnerving as I have this secret fear I’ll run out of books to read someday. But let’s not go there.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back Off AARP

It’s one thing when I decide to embrace the aging process by exploring changes in my identity and getting in touch with my newfound power but I draw the line at this sort of crap. This lovely little piece of mail showed up over a year ago when I was still 49. It may seem a small distinction but it’s not, all right? 49 is not 50, it’s your late forties. No one wants to be rushed into a milestone birthday unless it’s your 21st when you can look forward to getting so drunk you projectile vomit next to the waste basket, fall into bed and awaken completely refreshed because you are, after all, only 21 and have the metabolism of a race horse. Not that I would know anything about that but I’ve heard.

Now that I am officially 50 I’ve got AARP on my back sending me a membership card (which is a bit presumptuous), along with a bill to become a member, every month. Can we talk waste here? Is there where my dues would go- soliciting uninterested people with piles of cheery brochures showing happy energetic white-haired folk strolling on beaches? Let’s forget for a moment that retirement isn’t even in my lexicon anymore, so if your organization is for Retired Persons then you might want to check your data because I don't, and may never, qualify. Semantics aside, I still don’t appreciate the full court press to register myself as a senior citizen. What about holding off until I’m 60- unless that is, you can do something about my inability to find a job or healthcare, in which case, let’s talk.

Obviously, this is not an organization run by women or they’d know to soft sell the whole idea. Maybe with a ‘junior’ membership promising discounts at Ann Taylor (much more interesting then knowing I qualify for the early bird special at the local Sizzler). Ooooo…better yet, discount coupons for anti-aging skincare products like the Olay Pro-X series (apparently the closest thing to a facelift without the knife) or any fun girly thing aimed at women who want to maintain their youthful looks.

The point is, once I become a member mailings like the one above will flood my mailbox potentially crimping the pages of this month’s Vogue. Reading about the latest in sit-down-showers, adult diapers, assisted living facilities, law firms that specialize in estate planning (what estate?!) or scooters is not what I need right now. That time will come soon enough (and you can bet I’m getting a scooter and having J replace the engine with a turbine so I can terrorize everyone at Nordstrom’s) but for now I’m still focused on looking at pretty clothes.

I know AARP is a lobbying juggernaut and wields power in many circles but none that currently apply to me and, let’s not forget, it’s all about me. So, until such a time that I feel being a member will serve me, AARP please leave me alone. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Practical Spring Fashion - Mostly

While the offerings were weak this spring and the weather schizophrenic, at some point spring clothes are going to be needed. If you can afford anything from Chanel, DVF, or L’Wren Scott kudos to you- send pictures in your new outfits so I can live vicariously through you.

If, like me, you’re a bit financially constrained then here are a few items that caught my eye in the local chains. Somehow, I've only just discovered Kohl's and while I find the atmosphere in the store to be creepy they are taking on Target for getting designers to make lower priced lines for their stores. Plus, they're a huge fan of sales so if you see something you like, wait a week and they'll run it 40% off. 

Case in point, this Simply Vera Wang dress. It's a lovely mix of soft greens and peach with a scoop neck and pleats that run down the front. A nice length as well. Was $58 but now on sale for $35.

It's not Chanel but for $49 at H&M it's as close enough as I'm going to get. With our chilly weather this is a perfect layering piece.

At over $100 this doesn't qualify as inexpensive but if you live anywhere it rains for days on end and your mood gets as grey as the sky outside, then it's not much to pay for something bright and a bit bling-y to keep you dry.

Cute shoes to cover all your fashion moods. 1. Flat sandals by Brian Atwood are a bit edgy but I really like. Not cheap, though, $300. Sorry but I liked them too much to exclude.
2. Orange wedges from Anthropologie are fun and don't look like they would kill you. 3.Nude patent pumps from Target ($29) fill the bill when you need something a little bit dressier. Plus, nude is great for making your legs look longer and at this price you could wear them for a year and be done.
4. Lela Rose polka dot flats at Payless for $35. Need I say more? These are your wear every day shoes- with jeans, shorts, capris, skirts. They work with everything.

1. Cuff bracelets are still going strong. I'm not interested in something that goes to my elbow and can be used a defensive device but this is bold enough to make a statement and at $10 from H&M, it works.
2. Big rings are a trend that's hard for me. I'm never sure how much they should match the rest of my jewelry and I have no intention of wearing something that covers 3 fingers and precludes me from driving a car. This ring from Kohl's is just right. $16
3. Chandelier earrings are everywhere but I'm not a Real Housewife and I value my ever-more-delicate earlobes. A nice flash of color is all I want. Kohl's $10.
4. The necklace to go with my Chanel H&M jacket. Cute soft pastel glass beads from Target for $40.

Do you welcome in spring with a new fashion purchase? An accessory? New handbag? Share!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Fashion 2012: No, No and NO

Today we have sun not snow and it is Friday so I’m going to wrap up my review of the spring collections (such as it was) with those pieces that are burned onto my retinas. If I have to suffer everyone has to suffer. Plus, it will make you laugh and let you feel superior to all those silly people in New York City who think fashion is so important.

 I’m opening with two of my favorite designers from fall Donna Karan and Michael Kors, mostly because I feel betrayed. Their fall collections were so fabulous and spring was…a train wreck. Apparently, this is their nod to ‘native’ but if I were a native I’d be mighty angry. These dresses look like something thrown together at the last minute but first year design students. Not good in any way.

To call these two looks unflattering is an understatement. Burberry is supposed to be the epitome of young, hip chic but this screams thrift shop hippie. With all the pleats and grandma length the skirt won’t work unless you’re anorexic and short and belting the flour sack top isn’t fooling anyone into thinking ‘I want to buy this’.
I think this is a swimsuit but the demographic leaves me baffled. The color and shape won’t work on anyone. They don’t even work on the model and she’s trying really hard.

I’ve got nothing here. Hideous colors and the forced return of the peplum. No idea what Vera Wang (left) was thinking because she’s a woman and should know better but Thakoon (right) might have thought he was designing costumes for Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games. I’m being nice but that’s it.

There is nothing women love more than lots of fabric bunched around their hips and thighs because we all LOVE our hips and thighs. Thanks then to Rodarte (you’re women, shame on you) and Alexander Wang.

And to close…men who hate their mothers. Because only the most primal hatred of women would make a designer think that infantilizing and humiliating them in looks that I wouldn’t wear UNDER a real outfit is chic. And the models are furious. Yes, they often have that hard stare look due to a diet of cigarettes and Diet Coke but this is royally pissed off. Wrong on so many levels.

There you go, what not to look for in stores. Because it feels wrong to leave on a negative note (even though fashion spring has been as annoying as weather spring) I’ll be back with some realistic picks for spring.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

That Kind of Happy

I’ve never been shy about flying my freak flag or about the fact that my freakiness can span from Zombie Boy to books. To me, there’s no dichotomy. One, I like to look at and the other, well, the other is my absolute passion. You figure it out.

OK, OK, books are my passion. If I could be paid to do nothing but read I’d be as happy as a pig in slop (unless they’re not really all that happy in slop; you pick the metaphor). If you’re shouting at your computer screen right now with suggestions like: ‘be an editor, be a copywriter, be a proofreader, be a reviewer’ you’ve just listed my top 4 job searches. Thanks anyway. P.S. There are jobs in these fields but the majority don’t pay and/or want you to have 5 years experience for an entry level job.

So let’s not go down the employment path because I don’t want to head there. That’s reality and I’m simply not in the mood (read The Unemployment Diaries posts if you are). This is a purely happy post. On Monday I met with the editor of a book review site to discuss volunteer/learning opportunities and we were joined by another reviewer. The talk was all books, reading, how to grow this site, ideas, writing…and I was almost hyperventilating. My hands were clenched in my lap because I had only two ways to go: start flailing like a toddler who has huge emotions to express but can’t verbalize them or, pee on the seat like a puppy. I did neither (haters) and even managed to keep my voice level but my excitement had not abated by the time I reached home (at which point I really did need to pee: 2 Diet Cokes + one heavyset man in the restroom for 10 minutes = you do the math. Hint- I would have forfeited a kidney before venturing within in 50 feet of that bathroom).

In fact, I’m still jittery excited. I met two new women and have plans to see them again- to discuss the site and even better, just to talk about books and writing. When you add in that one of them said she liked my writing? Well, I won’t embarrass myself with how happy it makes me. Like this is not just some silly indulgence. It’s mine and it’s real.

I have no point here except this is joy. This is what makes me blissful even when I can’t find the right words or I’m reading a book I don’t get. I want to learn more, I want to help, I want to be immersed.

Yup, this kind of happy. The kind that usually makes me gag and want to hit someone but sometimes...sometimes it works.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Fashion 2012: Bits and Pieces

You’ve probably gotten a sense that I’ve found spring fashion to be a mixed bag this year. When reviewing the fall collections I was faced with the challenge of paring down my likes to reasonable amount but with spring it’s been difficult to find enough collections I thought were worth discussing. Instead, in the same way we’re only getting bits of spring in Portland (it’s snowing right now), I was often left seeing only pieces of collections that felt new and caught my eye. Both the weather and the fashion have left me confused- is it spring or not?

Here are some items I liked. Next up is what went wrong with Spring?

Love this fitted Mary Katrantzou dress. She does such wonderful work with digital printed images on fabric. Gorgeous! OK, IGNORE THE HAT. I don't know what Jil Sander was thinking (nurse? baker?) but it's not good. The dress, on the other hand, has a marvelous fifties feel with the updated surprise of an organza overskirt. Charming.

In case you didn't know, Issa is the designer worn frequently by the Duchess of Cambridge. One look at the leggy models with the glossy free flowing hair is a good clue. I see why Kate favors this label- the looks are sleek, chic but not too sexy. This lace dress with 3/4 sleeve could go anywhere. If you need more bling to your cocktail dressing then Prabal Gurung dished it up. Although it's quite in your face I like this bright purple shiny top paired with a somewhat demure pleated skirt and peekaboo slit.

Despite being a little freaked out by the model (seriously, is she twelve? Suri Cruise?), I love the juxtaposition of a crisp white shirt with a glam beaded skirt. If I were younger and still living in NYC this is a look I would abuse. The simple shift goes glam with a beaded overlay. A bit much? maybe but it's different. One thing that does NOT work? Spa slippers. I don't care if they're jeweled they're too clumsy.

They're the kings of bold, bling-y dresses and these two are perfect. Fully beaded on a nude mesh slip works with a simple neckline and cap sleeve. Right at the edge of tarty but hanging back. I used this photo last because it made me smile. What fabulous color. This is a real spring dress- fun, joyful, and bright. And kudos to D&G for being among the only designers to get the shoe right. Velvet maryjanes are divine.

Images from Elle

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Fashion 2012: Alexander McQueen

I understand very much its success but it’s not fashion. It is maybe theater or for a movie, but surely it is not to be worn by a woman. McQueen was a great artist but he was not a fashion designer.” Pierre Berge (Yves Saint Laurent’s partner)

Far be it for me to disagree with the partner of one of the world’s greatest couturiers (and a man who was among the first to create drama in fashion) but I do. The work of Alexander McQueen (and his successor, Sarah Burton) may not be wearable for every woman but it IS fashion. It’s fashion as theater and art. It may never be worn straight off the runway but individual pieces are wearable by women with the money to buy them. And while I find aspects of the collection unappealing (it's time to let the face mask helmets go) mostly I wish I could see these looks live and up close. They are that tactile and intriguing.

The soft tones make these 'happy dominatrix' looks. I love a cinched in waist.

It was at this point in the collection that the lace helmets really started to bother me. I get styling and impact but they distract from what is some amazing craftsmanship. Gold chiffon made to look like sea foam?!

Regardless of what you think about the overall look the amount of work that goes into achieving pieces like this is staggering. It is rooms of women sewing stitches so small they can’t be seen, creating perfectly uniform pleats and shaping miniscule beads into braids. It is craftsmanship usually found only in haute couture.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries- The Three As

I’m neither psychologist nor sociologist but there are stages to unemployment. As I’m too lazy to do the research let’s just go with mine because who really cares about anyone else. Besides you’re not reading this blog for its factual accuracy, right?

First there was Anger and plenty of it to go around. Thankfully, that didn’t last too long because it gets tiring and alienates you from a lot of people (mostly because you’re not that fun to hang out with). At some point it fades and Apathy moves in. With the economic situation as it has been if you’ve been without a job for more than a year and are not feeling apathetic then you’ve got great pharmaceuticals (and the healthcare to pay for them- go you!). It can’t be bypassed when you’re crafting hundreds of cover letters and rewriting your resume to perfectly suit each opening and then hearing nothing back. Job hunting is brutally dehumanizing. YOU. DON’T. EXIST. At some point, it becomes easier to phone in the application process and check out emotionally. And even, eventually, stop trying at all.

Recently, with the help of some new age spiritual leaders and a consistent meditation practice, I reached that most elusive of states (for highly strung type A personalities): Acceptance. This is a very difficult concept for me because it smacks of the above-mentioned apathy and worse, laziness. If something bad happens to you, just accept it? No. You fight for what you want and against what you don’t want. Action must be taken. But like so many of the beliefs I have held dear for most of my adult life being unemployed has knocked this one on its ass.

Imagine my surprise when, during a recent walk, I realized ‘I’m unemployed and I may never be employed in the traditional sense again.’ My stomach didn’t clench nor did I get that cotton-ball-stuffed-into-the-base-of-my-throat feeling. No euphoric rush, no Oprah “AHA moment” (don’t get me started) just a simple feeling of well-being. Completely bizarre in my world but I went with it. In fact, I’ve been testing it at various points in the last few weeks; feeling acceptance when things went well and when they didn’t. It’s kind of invigorating.

Which is why it can’t last. To truly embrace acceptance you have to understand that it’s a moving target. You don’t get to say ‘I accept this’ and be done. There is no goal because one of the things you have to accept in life (so I’ve been told) is that change and uncertainty are the only constants. So…what is the point in accepting your situation? It’s going to change anyway. And if all is uncertain than how can you be certain of your acceptance? Maybe you’re only partially accepting while all the while truly hoping that the current shit hurries up and goes away so the good stuff can begin. Or your acceptance of the current situation makes you less inclined for certain life changes (I'm all right being unemployed and want only a part-time job).

It’s at this point, I remember why I flunked out of philosophy class. This kind of world view makes my ears bleed. I think I get it and I feel the bliss but no, hang on, it’s gone. Acceptance is one slippery bugger. It’s unlikely I’ll get my hands, much less my mind, around it anytime again in this lifetime.

Does this mean I have to go back to the beginning with anger? Because I'm too tired to manage it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recent Reading: Anthropology of an American Girl

Anthropology of an American Girl is a what-not-to-do guide to anyone considering self-publishing. It’s not a dreadful book but I can almost hear the author talking to herself, convinced that this is the ONLY work she will ever publish and therefore, every single thought/emotion/interaction of her protagonist must be recorded to a navel-gazing degree that makes Holden Caulfield and Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom look distracted. In short, this book is exhausting to read. Overloaded, overwrought and overwritten, it’s clear that Hamann never met an adjective, adverb, simile, metaphor and descriptor she didn’t want to trample into submission. “Puerile lips”- really?

At 597 pages this book is 200 pages too long. A broken hearted anorexic teenager with low blood pressure simply does not warrant 597 pages when her strongest character trait is that she’s willing to be the trophy for a sexist, violent man who controls her. Evaline shows no propensity to live her own life (which, if you had any soul, you’d know is not possible because of the loss of the man who was her one true love) except for running away from any situation she finds uncomfortable.

What AOAAG needed was a vigorous editor with an active red pencil and the disposition to use it. Insightful prose loses its meaning when found on the same page as such nonsense like this: “I dressed in front of them because modesty seemed solemn and unnecessary, because sometimes a night has a natural drive, and you are transported past the conceit of your despair.” Or “It was like being hungry for blood and smelling it everywhere around, hearing it drive, and you do not mind it touching you when you are it and it is you.” Neither of these make sense much less contribute to the story. As poetry? OK. But not in the midst of action and definitely not on every page.

This book slogs through Evaline’s trials and tribulations until the last forty pages when Hamann finally gets a sense of pacing and cuts the excessive, leaden prose to reveal a scene of real humanity. Unfortunately, she obliterates that with her closing line, something so trite I was reminded of my high school journal. I had the common sense to burn it. Bottom line: this unending saga of nothing is not a mark of greatness but merely supreme self-indulgence.

p.s. It's snowing in Portland right now which is why you're not seeing any fab spring fashion. I'm freezing and getting aggravated.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring 2012 Fashion: Erdem

I like balance which means when I review the seasonal collections I hope to find at least six I like enough to write about. Sadly, this was not the case for spring. What I found instead was so much repetition that I can’t believe there wasn’t more bitch slapping going on between designers accompanied by shrieks of “You stole my idea!” I’m all about certain ‘f’ concepts for spring- fresh, feminine, flowy, flirty and floral to name a few but when I can’t tell whose line I’m looking at because it looks so much like the previous 20 it’s time to call it quits. Here then is the last of the spring collections I found to be interesting and new for spring 2012.

Erdem Moralioglu is a British fashion designer who takes all of the traits I listed above and uses them but tweaks them just enough that you don’t feel as if you’ve seen it before.

So we're still seeing mixed patterns but what I like is that it's the same pattern spliced into the deisng from a different direction. A little less jarring to the eye. I also appreciate the mix of fabrics- silk with a knit short sleeve and a long lace sleeve.

Yellow again but this time the softest yet. Almost a buttercup. The boat neckline is wonderfully flattering.

No surprise- I always love lace. I especially like the color reversal here with light on dark on the left and dark on light on the right. Lovely.

Just as the weather seems to be dragging out the transition to spring I've got more to chatter about in the upcoming week. Check back in for favorites and my own (fantasy) purchases.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries- More Traditional Than I Thought

I waited a very long time to get married. By the time I met the man I wanted to marry I was past the age of wild, crazy love and past the ‘this man will be the father of my children’. Instead, I was at the point where love and companionship were the main motivators. Or so I thought.

I was/am quite independent. So much so that J and I have never merged our finances. Initially, that was largely due to the fact that his ex was wildly vindictive and avaricious and my encounters with her made me determined that while she and the courts could squeeze my husband dry, my money would never come into play. As time passed that issue quieted but to this day we share only a mortgage, property taxes and insurance. For everything else we each have our own accounts and it’s worked just fine. Even with being unemployed for over a year I’m still paying my share of all our bills.

It’s what’s happening inside me that’s confusing. Apparently, at some primal, subconscious level I have had an expectation that one of the bonds of marriage included financial security. It’s not too surprising given my family background. My mother was a stay-at-home mom as are both of my sisters-in-law. End of story. It didn’t seem to matter much to me because I have always provided for myself but writing this blog and the reviews I do for various publications have shown me that my creative side is infinitely important to me. It’s also shown me writing doesn’t pay but another lesson I’ve learned is that I can get by on a fairly small income. So I’ve been contemplating a game change whereby I get a small simple job, something part-time- not a career and most likely not something in the corporate world. Something that, at the end of the day, will leave me with the energy to pursue my passions.

Here’s where the ugly tango begins inside my head. What I want will (most likely) not include healthcare and that’s not an option for me. I have to take certain drugs and they are not affordable without a healthcare plan. Without realizing it I have been counting on J to cover our healthcare needs when my Cobra runs out but that’s a very poor assumption right now. There is every likelihood that he won’t be able to despite his best efforts.

Suddenly, I’m June Cleaver and I, who have supported myself for my entire adult life, now feel that I shouldn’t have to. I want to pursue what I want, despite the fact that it doesn’t pay. I want to be the weak, protected one. Having these thoughts, much less putting them out there in a public forum, makes me cringe but they don’t go away. I’ve been strong and independent my whole life and just once I’d like to catch a break. If I have to go back to the corporate world, simply to get healthcare and fund a 401K, it will be with a very bad attitude. I. DON’T. WANT. TO. DO. IT. but where is it written that it’s my husband’s responsibility?

Nowhere but in the hearts and minds of any little girl who dreams of meeting her prince. Even if she is a modern woman with professional successes there is some tiny part of her that sighs and thinks, ‘Finally, someone will take care of me.’ Only guess what? Even with the best of intentions it doesn’t always work that way.

p.s. There is much more spring fashion to come, I promise. This had just been percolating and demanded to be written.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Fashion 2012: L'Wren Scott | Diane von Furstenberg

I don’t want to get formulaic (can you be formulaic after less than two years of doing something?) but based on my fall fashion posts I have a tendency to eschew reality for fantasy. Who the hell am I kidding? I’m hard pressed to show an interest in reality in any aspect of my life.

And really, do you want me to show pictures of the clothes you could afford for spring? No. What I want to see (it’s all about me, remember?) are genetically perfect, slender, dewy-faced models wearing clothes that I would wear if I were another person with a completely different life. You’re along for the ride.

With that lead-in you’re expecting Elie Saab Couture, right? Nope. Instead I’m going to get as close to real woman clothes as any designer should ever get with two female designers who have a strong point of view and yet manage to flatter a woman’s figure.  Easier said than done for a fair amount of designers. At the same time they go about it very different ways. L’Wren Scott is about showing off the figure with princess seams, pencil skirts, and tight pants. That’s partly because she’s over 6’ tall and is dating Mick Jagger (I’m sorry but ick). On the other hand, Diane von Furstenberg has reached the stage and the age where she realizes the value in mystery and (God love her) in effortless dressing. She also designs for herself but the results are quite different from Scott.

What I appreciate about both is their fearless use of color and texture. Almost anything goes and I hope you agree that it works.

L'Wren Scott
Simple, fitted silhouette done in fabrics that are anything but simple. The look of heavier textures on spring dresses is a great juxtaposition. And they're cute!

At this point the fried hair and zombie eyes is a bit distracting but I thought it would be weirder to cut their heads off so just don't look. The orange sweater w/ coral motif paired with capri pants with an eyelet hem is fresh. The dress is a bit Monroe-esque but again, I love the texture against with the striped lining of the coat.

Two of my favorite looks for spring. These take pre-conceived notions of 'ladylike' and knock them on their ass. The soft blush skirt paired with a chartreuse patterned sweater and striped blouse is a new classic. And this full long shirtdress ala Lucille Ball? Need it- even if I never leave the house. The oversized pockets and rolled up sleeves scream "This old thing? I just threw it on" while your friends gnash their teeth. And isn't that what fashion is all about?

Diane von Furstenberg

Bermuda shorts! How marvelous for those of us who don't want to look like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver.  Paired with a girly top or prep school blazer I'd wear these all spring/summer.

All right, you get it- I love a sleeveless shell. Add mint green ankle pants and I'm off to the country club. Or I might just throw on a knit top/skirt combo. Both are minimal effort/maximum impact.

Love this playful A-line shift with an illusion V insert at the neck. Plus, how can you go wrong with pockets? Another fabulous long shirtdress with pushed up sleeves. Yes, you did just roll out of bed but it's Portofino and you're on your way to get a cappuccino.

So, which one are you- form fitting or breezy chic?

If you want a different, more European take on spring visit my friend Sue at Tweed Librarian. She's showcasing looks that are sleek and delicious.

Images from Elle

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Fashion 2012: Chanel | Carolina Herrera

Yesterday was sunny and almost 60˚ in Portland so I’m saying it’s time to discuss spring fashions. I’ve been hesitant for a couple of reasons. One, it’s not as easy to discuss trends because really, pastels? white? brights? These are hardly groundbreaking changes and basically get announced every year. The best you can hope for is a new take on an old standard. The second reason is more personal- I’m not a huge fan of spring clothes. As a skinny, pasty white woman with no chest to speak of, concepts like mini, sheer, spaghetti straps, and strapless don’t excite me the way fall words such as heavier, textured, and layering do. But, once again, my altruistic spirit prevails so let’s jump in.

While spring may not be my favorite fashion season I can appreciate when it’s handled well (from my point of view, of course). It’s probably no surprise then that collections with an emphasis on feminine and flirty are my favorites. I prefer ladylike to edgy, softness to blocky. Chanel and Carolina Herrera both did a smash-up job this year and I’m charmed. Dresses with organza and chiffon skirts, frills and ruffles felt young and whimsical not tired and over-worked. This was especially pleasing after what I felt was Lagerfeld’s scorched earth apocalyptic fall 2011 collection.

Before we get to the luscious dreamy part I do have to make one more point. I ADORED the Chanel collection but the styling? Not so much. I get that Karl is hip and has a fashion sense well beyond mine but I don't like bleached eyebrows (ala Lisbeth Salander) and Judy Jetson boots. Don't.

Some people have bucket lists that include travel, people, etc but #1 on my bucket list? A Chanel suit and both of these qualify. OK, the one on the right is better because it's classic-plus and that baby blush color is amazing. Here's where I appreciate Lagerfeld's aesthetic- taking the iconic Chanel pearls and making them a belt, a strap for a silk camisole and even buttons. FAB-U-LOUS

The slim (but not skin tight) cut of the pants are perfect and both jackets are uber flattering to the waist. I'm lunching in Paris.

Dress on the left is light and fun with the whimsy of cut-out medallions on the hem while dress on the right is a bit more serious but in an oh-so-good Grace Kelly kind of way.

Did I mention my bucket list? If you care about me at all you'll all band together, mortgage your homes and sell off your retirement accounts because I'll DIE without one of these looks. You've got a decent hemline on both, nice coverage on top and yet both are so fresh. Coco would be proud. MUST. HAVE.

It's no secret I love Carolina Herrera. She is the epitome of ladylike elegance but this spring she goes beyond with the slightest bit of edge- which is all I want. Mixed patterns in shades of pale blue, yellow, and deep green and geometric prints all worked for me. Plus, I love her styling- simple, clean, dewy models. No statements here except that timeless prevails.

A floral patterned skirt w/ a geometric print blouse topped with a linen cropped jacket? Should not work but it does. On the right the pattern is exploded in a sweater paired with slouchy pants. I'm not generally a fan of full harem-ish but I don't hate these.

This red is fabulous with a hint of blue underneath. Very flattering and bold. The sheath dress is a unversally flattering look. Think Jackie O. in Greece.

Nowhere to wear either of these but if I were going to an English garden party I'd be all over both. The neckline on the left is one I would wear constantly if I could. Covers up a multitude of inadequacies but makes shoulders and arms look amazing. As for the gown on the right, despite the fact that I own NO yellow and have never worn the color, I love it. It's a perfect hue, like the first daffodils.

All images from Elle

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy birthday to the man who knew the quickest way to this girl’s tiny greedy heart was a doll almost as big as she was. I’m your daughter after all and you never liked to distinguish between want and need. If you wanted it, you needed it.

You believed in me, thought I was as smart as the boys and could be whatever I wanted.

You made me feel safe for every minute you were alive.

I only wish there had been more minutes.

I miss you every day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why I'm So Messed Up

I grew up in a time when mothers didn’t feel obliged to pepper spray other mothers in order to get an Xbox console for their off-spring. It was a time of much more modest expectations. You asked for something you really wanted at Christmas and your mother was responsible for handling the details (because seriously, as much as your father loves you, did he ever buy you a gift? Meaning, go to the store and buy, not give your mother the credit card). And a good mother would do her best. Which, in my day, meant she’d look at all the newspaper ads, drive to malls, and call stores (these were indeed ancient times) and if she got a lead she’d hunt it down. But sometimes, sometimes, the item was too popular and it would not manifest under the Christmas tree despite her best efforts.

Oh, the box that should have been under our tree! This is almost too painful

Someone worked this Barbie over a bit too much with a ratting comb. I would never have been as careless.

I’d like you to meet Barbie Big Head, the reason I’m such a hot mess of an adult. She was the go-to gift of any girly girl in the mid-seventies. I could tell you the exact year but electroshock therapy has erased it from my mind. I whined, begged, pleaded, and more importantly- BEHAVED MYSELF to get this freakishly sized hunk of plastic for Christmas but it was not to be. After the last gift had been opened and my face was getting that wobbly look kids get when they want to start crying but know they’re-too-old-and-they-got-other-nice- gifts-and-shouldn’t-complain, my mother swooped in and explained how hard she had looked and that she had even driven to Denver (two hours away) but everyone was out and they weren’t even doing rain checks. With quivering lip, I said I understood, but really? I didn’t.

Even, I, a pre-teen girl, knew how well and truly screwed I was by not getting this Barbie; this entrĂ© into the world of make-up and hair design. Namely, I had no way to practice any of this on something other than myself which I would not be allowed to do for another 3 years and would lead to the tragic multi-hued eye shadow disaster of 1978 and the eyebrow plucking debacle that left me with one line of hairs over each eye and caused my father to take away the tweezers until I could “stop acting like a damn fool”.

The list of mishaps continues all the way through my adulthood (i.e. the perm from hell in 1987). To say I suffered for this lack in my childhood is an understatement. Having had Barbie Big Head to practice hair, make-up, and even accessorization on would have saved me years of embarrassment, disgrace, and eventually, therapy. Perhaps then, this current batch of mothers is right to give into the petulant whining demands of their offspring and act like cage wrestlers at the mall. The character and internal fortitude I gained from not getting what I wanted is nothing compared to the sparkly, narcissistic, entitled beauty queen I could have become. And if my mother had had to do jail time so be it. I was robbed.

Yes, I was rocking my short sleeve knit mini-dress but look at the stringy hair with no style and not even clear gloss on my lips. Sad sad sad.

p.s. that's not a cougar I'm holding just one of the world's best cats EVER.

Was there ever a gift you really wanted but didn't get?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Reading

At the beginning of each of these I always seem to say what a great month it has been for reading. Tired, right? All I can figure is I’m manifesting good books, kind of like the same way I said to J yesterday that we hadn’t gotten a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon in the mail yet this year (when they used to arrive several times a week). Today? Boom- a coupon. Kind of cool but if I have the ability to manifest things I want then where the hell is a decent job? I think about that all the time. Feel free to get all psychological on my ass while I tell you about 7 wonderful books you should read.

 This book reminded me very much of The House of Sand and Fog, in that the character truly believed he was doing the right thing but you, as reader, as groaning as he heads further and further down a path with no return. Beautifully written.

 Unless Hoffman or her publisher is going to pay me there is not much more gushing I can do about this book. A must read.

 One of two debut novels I read this month and both were stellar. This one deals with what happens to a foster child when she reaches 18 and is left on her own. Sad because you’re pretty sure this is not unusual but ultimately inspiring.

I haven’t read this since college but remember now why it is a classic. I was so drawn to this paragraph I read it repeatedly and have to share it here.

“Droll thing life is- that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself- that comes too late- a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.”
Who writes like that?! It is no exaggeration to say I would give up a kidney to be able to write like that (you can get by with just one, right?) Read it.

Reviewed this one as well. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece or the most finely crafted novel I’ve ever read but it will hold your attention. If you’re a woman you need to read it.

Sometimes when I’ve been inundated with words that drill down into my brain, that take me over, I need a little mental sorbet and no one does a better job than Sophie Kinsella. Fluffy and fun.

Another debut and a home run- which is the only baseball metaphor I’ll use because that’s cheap, cheesy, and too easy. The book is wonderful and I’ll be yammering about it some more in the near future.

What did you read this month? I’m always looking for new ideas! And if you’re a book buyer all of these titles are available in my Amazon shop(click on photo on the right)- no extra cost to you (just sticking it to the man by letting me have a teensy slice of the pie).
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