Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Perfect Trench

I'm not sure what it is...maybe I watch too many old movies. Maybe I secretly want to be a spy (I do so love berets and dark sunglasses...hmmm?:). Or maybe I just love trench coats. I've dreamed of owning the perfect trench coat for a while now. Here's the story: when I was about 11 years old, my grandparents cleaned out the attic/my grandmother's old dressing room/grandchild playroom. They gave away a lot of items, and we as family got our pick. One of the pieces of clothing that I chose was a cream London Fog trench coat with a zip out lining. Double breasted, belted, perfectly fitting trench...but I was soooo self conscious and didn't know when or where I'd ever wear it--especially in Florida. So somewhere along the way between then and now, it was lost and I've never forgotten it.

Over the past three years, I started collecting trench coats--officially beginning my quest for the perfect trench coat. It started innocently enough with a cream (big surprise there), leather one that my husband purchased for me on Portabello Road during our honeymoon. He tried, in vain, to encourage me to get another coat that he liked more...but I just wouldn't listen.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was in a church thrift store near our apartment just poking around, looking to see if I could find any treasures. Well, I found several items hidden amongst the racks of Anne Taylor pantsuits and '80s mother-of-the-bride dresses including a Furla bag that I got for four dollars and a London Fog trench! Its a little big, but I kind of like the way it looks when the collar is popped and its belted. It makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I still wasn't quite satisfied, but didn't go to thrift stores looking for trenches...they just seemed to find me (which usually isn't the case when I'm thinking about a particular item). So two weeks ago today, Dan and I went to my favorite thrift store. Just let me say, the had a plethora of trench coats! All different sizes, various brands including London Fog and Brooks Brothers. I felt like Goldie Locks:) After trying on about four of them, I finally came upon a pink, 70's London Fog coat with a fabulous collar. The buttons were missing and it looked like someone had attempted to readjust the sleeve length and done a sloppy job, so I understandably mulled it over for a while (to the noticeable chagrin of one other shopper who wanted to use one of the few mirrors in the store. In my defense, I stepped aside when I realized that she was waiting). I eventually decided that it was worth spending the nine dollars for the coat, resewing the buttons and making a go with the sleeves. It all turned out well, and I think I ended up with a unique trench to add to my collection.

Well, I feel like its getting a little ridiculous I'm going to cool my heels for the time being on the trenches. I do love them though, especially for the rainy spring season. Don't we all need something stylish to cover up in for the occasional overcast day? Now, I suppose that I'll have my pick:)

(P.S. There's wonderful photo of a young Ingrid Bergman smiling for the camera wearing a trench here . I just love her hair, her smile, her trench...well, everything about this picture.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Inspiration: Esther Williams

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved Esther Williams. I grew up in Florida, learned to swim when I was very young, and spent a lot of time in pools. I also spent many hours watching TCM with my mother in my formative years and have had images of the bathing beauty and her synchronized water ballets in my head (and heart) ever since. Last year my husband bought me volume 1 of the Esther Williams box sets and I got to revisit the fantastic technicolor world of  her 40's and 50's Hollywood movies. 

Since seeing those movies again, I became more curious about her and decided to watch an interview with her that accompanied the box set and check out her autobiography from the library. My goodness, the woman is incredible! Sure, her autobiography was a bit formulaic and she readily admits that she wasn't the best actress ever, but she was candid, funny, intelligent and spunky. So now, I've developed an appreciation for her, the work she did, the 'look' of the films and her lovely bathing suits and bathing caps all over again.

 I just can't wait for it to get warm enough to lounge lake-side and wear some of the suits (both vintage and vintage-inspired) that I've found over the past few years. Here's the first (and so far, only) vintage swimsuit that I've purchased. Not as stylish as any of Esther's by a long shot, but cute, comfortable and capable of making me feel like a bathing beauty, none the less!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And I Spin

"There were 10 years when there were no photographs of me at all, between about 15 and 25. I mean they just don't exist. I got really good at avoiding a camera. Then I suppose when I made Caravaggio in 1985, they started to ask me to do photo shoots and I absolutely refused. One of the reasons I remember is that I wouldn't wear anybody else's clothes. It was very important to me to be photographed as what I thought of as myself. But you see the truth was at the time I wasn't really sure I had a self at all. And what I hadn't fully worked out yet, which I have since, is that there is no such thing as a self actually, and it's all up for grabs."

-Tilda Swinton from Another Magazine, Spring/Summer 2009

Over the past few months, I've been on a magazine buying streak. I distinctly remember my brother questioning why anyone would ever buy a magazine one time when we were in Barnes and Nobles years ago. At this point in time, I totally disagree. I like to look through them again (and again:), turn to the photo spreads for fashion inspiration, and re-read the best articles when I'm in another frame of mind. Hence the growing stack of glossies on my bedside table.

One of the best I've found recently is AnOther Magazine. I'm actually considering buying a subscription even though it only comes out twice a year and is quite pricey. There's just so much to enjoy...its a feast for the eyes with everything from fashion  photos to short stories. And then there's the kicker...this issue featured Tilda Swinton on the cover.  Every time I read a quote of hers, I find myself sitting and thinking it over, rolling it around in my head for a while.  I find her inspiring, not necessarily in terms of fashion, but because of what she says and the work that she does.  

Image From

And this finally brings me to the quote at the beginning of this post. I've been thinking a lot lately about the question of identity. I think Proust wrote something similar to Swinton's comment in Swann's Way. He discusses how social identity (or how we are perceived by others) is not necessarily what we want to project about ourselves. But I also think that personal identity is constantly shifting, not the intrinsic, stable, concrete thing that we want it to be: and therefore the self doesn't exist as one thing. My husband and I saw the Dalai Lama speak a few weeks ago at a football stadium near where we live and one of ideas that he stressed is that we are always changing, physically, emotionally psychologically, and socially, from moment to moment, throughout our lives. Nothing ever really stays the same...but I'm not sure if its an upward progression or evolution necessarily either. I suppose it all comes back to words, how we try to define ourselves, construct images of ourselves within a set of ideas so that we can present ourselves to others and create coordinates from which to understand both ourselves and the world around us (I think that's the most the word ourselves has ever been used in a sentence:) Sorry!). Even if we don't think that there's a self or one identity, we keep constructing it, don't we? Because that's a part of living and being a part of the world. Or is it?

I really don't know, but find all this incredibly fascinating to think about...especially because I do so enjoy finding and wearing interesting, unique clothes so much. And when I was writing this, I thought of some photos that I took of an outfit a few weeks ago. They remind me of this whole question of identity because in two of them I'm blurred, spinning, in motion...and I like the ambiguity of them...seeing an image of myself without clearly defined borders, that was taken in one specific moment. 

Dress: 70's vintage
Shoes: I Love Comfort

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Party Dress

For me, every outfit starts with a general idea, a feeling that I want to express, an idea that I'd like to emulate or an accessory that I really want to wear and build a look around. Today, I needed to wear my new yellow peep toe sandals from Anthropologie. I found them this past Wednesday in the sales section for fifty percent off! Since it was warm, bright and breezy outside, and our roommates were having a BBQ, I decided to pair them with a pretty white frock from Cafe Society and dress it up a little with a golden thrifted necklace and my cat-eye sunglasses. Finally, my beaded and embroidered leather bag from Anthropolgie finished off the look and (I think) pulled it all together:)

It was such a lovely day out...perfect for a deliciously girly frock and some equally exciting accessories. 

(sorry the pics are small, you can click to enlarge any of them) 

Just for kicks, I decided to take  a group shot with my husband and roommate who were down in the backyard reading when I took my photos before the party. Nick, our friend is on the left posing, while my husband Dan is on the right, looking at us like we're insane. And there I am in the middle...mugging for the camera:)

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Late Night Obsessions

Lately I've been taking time to myself, working and generally enjoying the fact that I don't have any projects due or assignments to read. Although I did thoroughly enjoy at least one of my classes this past semester, its been nice to have time to indulge my desire to do, well basically nothing:) So after a hiatus, I'm back posting. I've been thrifting a lot lately, but there will be another post coming up soon on my exciting thrift store finds and shoe excursions (my passion for foot fashion has not died down).

And now, here I am at 3:28 in the morning, unable to sleep, with nowhere to be tomorrow and therefore no reason to worry over my sudden burst of insomnia. And all I can do is peruse blogs, read fashion magazines and think about Camera Obscura and their new album (which I haven't been able to stop listening to all day).

My brother tends to introduce my sister and I to new bands every year when he brings home compilation Cd's for us around the holidays. Several Christmases ago, one of these groups was Camera Obscura. I've really liked their catchy, interesting lyrics ever since and have to say that Razzle Dazzle Rose is one of my favorite songs, and (not surprisingly) this new album is just growing on me by the minute. It reminds me of 60's girl band music with a few country (in a good way) touches and interesting lyrics. I'm no music aficionado, so excuse my obvious lack of knowledge here, but the orchestrations are just beautiful. I've also been listening to Actor by St. Vincent and Bat For Lashes' Two Suns, but this one has really caught my fancy. I mean, who can't love a band who uses the phrase 'bees knees' in a song? Not me, for sure:)

So as I listen to this fantastic Scottish band while admiring the two female members' vintagie style, I'm also surfing the web, admiring fellow bloggers and their vintage styles. I just have to say that I visit Sally Jane Vintage's site every day. I love everything about her blog, from the photographs to the posts to her ebay and etsy stores. Sometimes I worry that my style isn't very interesting and that I don't mix it up enough, but then I visit her page or Liebemarlene Vintage and realize that everyone has their own style...and that there's nothing wrong with loving pretty, girly frocks, knee-length skirts, embroidered blouses, vintage swim suits or having multiple pairs of peep toes in various shades in one's closet:) I love Sally Jane and Rhiannon's sites so much because they always manage to pull off vintage so well. I like that they let the clothes stand out, but without the outfits wearing them and they don't overdo it with accessories...although they do have some mad wicked hats, bags and the aforementioned shoes between the two of them.

Man, do I dream of having an ebay or etsy shop and going thrifting for a living...sigh...another plan and goal that I'm currently working towards. My husband definitely thinks I'm heading in that direction with my closet:) My birthday was earlier this week and I just got a little money from my parents, so I think I might buy Adobe Elements and attempt some of the fantastic collages that my favorite bloggers put together. I really want to spruce up the blog...but more on that to come.