Saturday, 27 August 2011

Mellow Yellow

Do you feel the need to wear every summer dress you own while you still can? I do. This is one my favourites from my favourite shop. It's called Mine and My Sister’s Closet At My Parents' House, and everything fits and has style (most of it rather 1990s though). This is 1960s vintage and I feel a bit like a young Mrs Arnold while wearing it- back when she was Norma. I think this is something to smile about- both Mrs Arnold and a yellow shift dress.

Note the unfortunate leaves on the ground. I thought about calling this post "Last of the Summer Sunshine," but that seemed like accepting that summer is nigh.

When I see the interesting ribbing on the tree trunk and the neat ivy, I wonder why I haven't seen a designer dress with a tree trunk and ivy print. Stella McCartney likes a bit of a natural look, if you see her, suggest it, and tell her that I'd like to meet her Dad as payment.  

Bright orange bag from my favourite Oxfam charity shop (it's in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire). Clarks' sandals.

I thought the goldenrod in the background might "out golden" me, but the light seems to have cooperated in making my yellow dress more prominent. Ah, the wonders of perspective. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

I'm Going to Tell You About Someone Great

Yesterday, an artist entered my life (entered = heard on the radio). He writes love letters to England. He had me at “Let me take you by the hand/And lead you through the streets of London.’ I’m confident that he would show me its heart. The artist is called Ralph McTell and his music is tender, subtle and has gorgeous melodic simplicity. His lyrics are sincere and wistful. Pretty is an over-used word. Flippy skirts are pretty. Floral prints and lace are pretty. Baking should look pretty. Little girls who smile are pretty. It seems to be a catch-all word to describe the feminine, soft and pleasantly attractive in this world. However, McTell’s songs are pretty. They’re not feminine; but he does sound like a man anyone would like to be accompanied by. I imagine him weathered but with a warm sensibility and easy wit. And if I knew him he would write a poignant card. The words would be pithy. Maybe I’d hear a song with an oblique reference to an inside joke we shared.
London and England, the riots were sad. Listen to Ralph for some insight into your English soul. He understands.  

                     And I know you've fought some failures,
                     And the troubles you've been through.
                     But it's more about what happens now,
                     And what we're coming to.

                     And the echo of the green hills
                     Runs through our city streets...
                     And a wind that blows through England
                     Breezes life through you and me.

I like that he looks like a cross between David Cassidy and Donovan. I also like how the Top of the Pops audience are still trying to awkwardly dance to a slow, dark song.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Back to School

I definitely believe in Back to School shopping, even if you don't go to school. I wear sandals all summer. Then, as soon as September 1st happens, a piercing bite flows through the air and hits the head, autumn giving us the heads up to its existence. As much as I like to abandon sleeves and allow my legs their freedom in the summer, a soft long sleeve and trousers bring comfort and a bit of pulled-togetherness. I can see myself as Katherine Hepburn, luxuriating in elegance and one-liners equally.

This looks says: "I don't care for summer flights of fancy. I have more important things to do than pose for a photograph." She's a non-nonsense feminist, I think.

So, in the spirit of "let's get on with it," school, I purchased some new school shoes. If you like brogues, heeled loafers, or you need/want a new pair of shoes, Asos has a sale worth looking at. And these suede brogues are the colour of the coat I last wrote about (sigh).

Asos, £28

Yellow heeled loafer, Asos, £36

Fashion writers seem to love "transition pieces," which are usually blazers or light sweaters. These fresh-looking English mustard loafers do combine summer sunshine with the more sensible autumn--- they are shoes, not sandals. These are what I think of as a transition piece, though I'd happily wear them all year. I imagine a satchel and navy pea coat to complete the Ivy League schoolgirl look.

Alas, the shoes I went for are a more wearable black and white option. They're geeky, 1950s style saddle shoes, the white highlighting their structure. These are the kind of shoes I know I'll feel a little silly about wearing intially but then I'll languish in a too-cool-for-school pride.

Asos , £28

The One That Got Away

Let me know if it's worth seeing.

I typically avoid romantic comedies due to their high percentage of schlock. But if it’s written in a book, I love a good relationship drama. One Day fits the bill for a classic will they/won’t they story.  Will the film show the book's humanity and unspoken desires?
Recently, journalists at The Times proceeded to write their stories of The One That Got Away, relating their lives to One Day. Life imitates art, I suppose.
For me, The One That Got Away, wasn’t a boy, it was a coat. A 1970s Orange Suede Trenchcoat that would go perfectly with the Office boots. He had wide lapels, buttons, a wide orange suede belt and he fell to just above the knee. He was heavy to carry and wear. It was the sort of coat Penny Lane from Almost Famous would have worn, or maybe Mary Tyler Moore.

It fit me and was in perfect condition—two elusive qualities in vintage clothing. He was once the epitome of cool but he now hung out in a crowded thrift store in rural Quebec.
Sometimes, distance prevents relationships from succeeding, and I did need to go home to a town nearly 10 hours away. Sometimes, a holiday romance can’t last and I was basically on holiday (a French immersion course, in fact). Sometimes young love is doomed; I was only 22 years old and perhaps lacking foresight. But I suppose the real deal breaker was our social class. I couldn’t afford him. He was $25, which seemed absurdly expensive for a thrift store coat.
So, I found other reasons to reject him. He was too heavy. I didn’t want to look after him in the hot summer.
Although I moved on, I wish I had more time with him.
R.I.P. Orange Suede Trenchcoat. I hope you’ve been loved.

                        Regrets and mistakes they’re memories made,
                        Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste.

Never mind, I’ll find someone like you.
I wish nothing but the best for you, too.
- Adele, Someone Like You

Here is my "bittersweet" attempt at trying to memorialise his greatness. I wouldn't say this "painting" quite captures it.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Boots Mission

As the seasons change, so do my predictable, seasonal temptations. Autumn brings longings for apple crumble, pumpkin pie, pea coats and boots. My criteria for boots that I’ll lust over, is as follows:

a) Slim.
b) Heeled.
c) 1960s or 1970s looking. Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made For Walking should be heard-- loudly.
d) Real leather or suede. My feet get mad at me when they’re in plastic-y confinement.

e) Wearable. I’ve seen a pair of silver, glittery designer boots that would look right on Pixie Geldoff, but are less practical if you’re not a rocker-It girl.
Usually, it's the price that prohibits my buying of autumn boots-- but this prohibition increases my desire. These boots from Office fit the criteria for dream boots (with an appropriate curb your enthusiam price).
Rust Suede Boots, Office, £135

The vision:
I become an Ally McGraw-like character with glossy, straight hair. I’m wearing a brown corduroy skirt that falls just above the knee, or a brown, mustard and orange print skirt. The skirt is combined with a mustard or forest green turtleneck. Maybe a long, cream woollen or crocheted scarf and a pea coat as it grows colder and the skirt grows longer. The outfit would have a vibe a fit like this H & M outfit but without the polished formality.

H &M Outfit
The boots make me taller, freer and prepared to be a preppy but liberal student at Brown, Berkeley or Oxford, circa 1974. Leaves and smiles would be thrown around in my presence. If I was at Berkeley I’d have a friend who people would say looks like Marsha Brady. We would then all laugh disparagingly, but jealously too.
The reality:
Most of my wardrobe tends toward the red/white/black/grey spectrum and this colour would not really go with most of the things I own. I’m on my feet most of the day at work, so the heel would be uncomfortable. Would I end up not wearing them? Does anyone who normally wears flats know of heeled boots that are comfortable?

Or, should I opt to desire the more practical (but less inspiring) black?

Black Suede Boots, Office, £135