Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Distraction.

Today has been a rough day. I spent minutes struggling with my lawnmower, trying to get the thing to start, and it is still dead. I Googled it, I went to Ace Hardware and talked to a man about it, I spilled gasoline in my car, I tinkered with the thing, I cursed at it, and I kicked it, and it still won't start. So, I had to tackle my overgrown yard with a weed whacker and an old school push mower that has no engine at all. It took forever, as my little mower has to run over the same spot a few times to make any real impact, but now my terrible yard looks a little less bad. I'm exhausted and my arms are useless, so I'm going to reflect on happier times, when I at least looked like I had my shit together.


I bought this top because of the puffy sleeves. Who doesn't want to look like Snow White? While I have a problem with every top being too cropped, this one has the opposite problem: it's way too long. It's really more of a tunic, and if I were shorter and wore cuter underwear, I might be able to wear this as a dress. So, even though I love it, this top got shoved in a drawer somewhere and I rarely wore it. I thought about donating it many times, but I couldn't let it go. Now, I'm glad I still have it; this shirt is having a moment in my life, and it's pretty fantastic.

Sassy.






The super long length of this shirt doesn't mean a thing when I wear it with a skirt like this. It's almost like a slip. The wind around here gets intense, so it's nice to have an extra barrier between the town of Great Falls and my underwear in case a rouge gust comes along and lifts my skirt. It has happened before.







I've been slightly obsessed with pins and brooches lately; they have become my go-to accessory. My collection is slowly growing, as I like to buy myself a new pin every month. They're usually under ten dollars, and there are some incredible artists out there making some great pins. This heart pin is new old stock from the 80's, bought from an Etsy shop. I love everything about it!


The shoes have been a part of my wardrobe for over a decade. Ugh, I love them! They are so comfortable and easy to walk in, and they are ridiculously cute. This is how I'm smashing patterns here, with the floral on my feet and the stripes up top; I normally would go with a basic black flat. I think this is so much better, don't you?



I suppose I should stop living in the past and just fix my stupid lawnmower so my neighbors can stop worrying about me. But whatever, clothes are so much more fun than lawnmower maintenance, anyway. I'll get to it eventually. Probably.

Lawnmowers, anyway...



For the curious: I bought my top from an Instagram shop about two years ago, so I can't remember which shop it came from. I'll probably shorten it a bit so I can wear it with pants. My white skirt is Banana Republic, bought from ThredUp. The pin is from papercherries on Etsy, but she is closing the shop on May 31, so if you want to look, you better look now. My shoes are Steve Madden, spotted in a magazine and hunted down on Ebay many, many years ago. My belt is from Roulette Vintage on Etsy, and I'm starting to think it isn't as old as I thought it was, though I can't seem to find any solid information about this style of belt. Oh, well, I still love it. My bag is Kate Spade, and I keep everything I own it it. All photos were taken by Joe, who is really kicking ass at photos lately.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

2 Wrongs Can't Make a White T-Shirt

Last week was blue jeans and this week it's white t-shirts: If I were a chef, I'd be a sushi chef. I find joy in perfecting the basics... or something like that. Blue jeans and a white tee, does it get any more basic? Iconic? Woefully taken for granted? Yes, yes and yes.

I decided to do a mannequin thing for this shoot. 

I shrunk my blue jeans for the 2nd time so they are actually fitting a bit better, but we will have to talk about that next time. I happened to walk into Ross the day they got a shipment and I made the wise choice of stocking up on white t-shirts because they remain an indispensable item in any person's wardrobe. 


I was actually thinking, "I wonder what I'd be thinking about if I was a real mannequin."
I happened to score 4 different manufacturer's t-shirts which never really happens to me so I thought it would be appropriate to let you all see my process. I want to find the "perfect" white t-shirt. If not perfect, then at least I want to know who can make me a quality product that won't lose its shape after 2 wears like all Walmart t-shirts do. I have wasted enough money on that stuff and would like a bit more return on my investment.

I don't know if I am waving or patting a really tall dog on the head.
So I took my 4 bags of shirts that had 3 or 4 in each and took 2 out each. 1 to toss in a wash and hot dry cycle and the other to throw on brand new, which I am known to do. The pics order are: Calvin Klein, Gold Toe, Levi and Polo where the first one is brand new and the second pick has been shrunk in the wash. 100% Cotton. So good, but man you have to watch the shrink factor!

I was actually trying to react to Lucy the way a mannequin would react. Doesn't make much sense. But I am chuckling as I write this so I am going with it.
I have always felt it was weird that we buy things in our size, and accept the fact they are going to shrink. Every shirt shrunk a bit, but nothing too bad and I actually prefer the more fitted feel of a nice close-fitting t-shirt as opposed to the baggie shirts of my youth. Yup, baggie shirts with pictures of Bugs Bunny characters wearing baggie clothes. We all make mistakes.

I don't even know. Waiving goodbye to mannequin aliens? Sadly?
I am trying to see which manufacturers I can trust to make a quality product, because I really wear white tees every single day and I don't want to suffer in silence while I have to replace shirts with stretched out collars and sleeves that don't cover my shoulders properly, getting all bunched up underneath my dress shirts. 

I feel like this mannequin pose would be good for business attire. Don't I look like I am ready for work?
I know I might be asking for too much but I have hope. I used to wear this Obey graphic tee all the time and long past it's usefulness simply because it held it's shape for so long and fit me perfectly. Sure, it was black so I didn't have to fuss over stains and bleach but it got me thinking that I might be able to have my white t-shirt and eat it, too. 

Now I am starting to think that standing awkwardly is coming too easy and I become alarmed.
I know what you are thinking. You want to explain to me that the shirts I purchased are made to be worn underneath garments and therefore will be of lighter build and/or cheaper quality than a trendy shirt that costs 4 times what one might pay for a regular white t-shirt. Hey, the experimenting and research is half the fun! Of these, I have the highest hope for the Gold Toe shirts. They feel a bit heavier than the other 3 so I will be keeping a close eye to track about how long it lasts me. 

What am I doing?
When I sit down and think about all the t-shirts I have loved before, they have all cost me more than $20 each, and they last me more than 2 years. These cheaper shirts I have been purchasing have actually been costing me more in the long run. Maybe one of these shirts will work. Maybe not, and my search will continue for that perfect fit and feel. I enjoy the hunt. I enjoy engaging and being mindful about things that have become synonymous with not thinking. Don't want to think about fashion? Blue jeans, white t-shirt. That's where they've caught us... I think? 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Be A Siren Shoppe

This is my friend Serena. 


Isn't she gorgeous? Can you handle her impeccable style and her amazing long hair? Not only is she beautiful; she is also smart, kind, and a master stylist with her own boutique, The Be A Siren Shoppe in downtown Great Falls. I love this place! I always stay for at least an hour, chatting with Serena, trying on everything she has available, and sorting through the jewelry and scarves and soaps and home decor. There's so much to look at, and if I could, I would buy one of everything. I'm inspired by this space, by Serena and her outlook on life, and her fashion philosophy, so I was thrilled when she let me run amok in her shoppe for an afternoon. 

I have a nice little collection of dresses and tops from the shop, including this man in the moon halter dress. I am unashamed to admit that I bought this dress to copy a friend of mine who wore a similar dress to one of my dinner theater shows. 


I already thought I was having the best day ever when I found bangle bracelets that didn't slide off my tiny wrists and a red garnet choker that didn't actually choke me, but it did get better. My friend Pam showed up out of nowhere!



She's wearing clothes under that umbrella, I promise!

It was pretty cool to bump into Pam, but even better that she happened to be dressed appropriately for a photo shoot. She's pretty much the best ever, so she jumped right in like a champ.


I don't know what to do with my hands!

She even did an outfit change and got her husband, Tim involved! Side note: I love Tim's t-shirt, which he actually bought from the shoppe that day. I wanted one for myself, but unfortunately, my size was nowhere to be found. Le sigh. 


Awww! So sweet, it will make you barf. ;)
Most of the clothes in The Be A Siren Shoppe are vintage inspired, like this sheer floral top and beige circle skirt. It was Serena's idea to put the leopard print bag with this outfit. I tend to shy away from animal prints, but I have to admit, I really love the mix of the floral and the leopard. It seems to bring a little bit of badassedness to an otherwise sweet outfit.  I might have to buy one of these bags now...






I've never been to Hawaii, but I did wear a Hawaii print once...isn't that kind of the same thing? Again, the leopard print does great things to floral, and I question my whole stance on animal prints. I feel like I can really embrace a hot pink leopard print without a hint of irony.


I love that Serena has these little fans. It's such an unexpected accessory with a strong vintage feel, and best of all, they are under ten dollars! As for the rest of this outfit, I have been eyeing this octopus-pocket skirt for months, and I might have to go back for it. How can I not?



This dress was by far my favorite of the day. Serena showed me pictures before it arrived in her store, and I thought it was really nice, but I wasn't prepared for how incredibly nice it really is. I put it on, and I heard an hallelujah chorus; it fit perfectly, and it felt like butter on my skin. It's also lined, so it has a substantial feel to it, like it won't fall apart if I dare to wash it. I loved this dress so much, I didn't just buy it, I wore it out of the store. Same goes for the black heels, which hearken back to my days as a 90's kid.



I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything during my photo shoot, but I ended up buying a lot of great pieces. That's how it goes for me at The Be A Siren Shoppe, and I'm not even a little upset about it. I always find things here that I don't see anywhere else, and I love supporting a local business and my friend. Just look at this place; I always want to be able to visit!


















If you live in Great Falls, please stop by and say hi to Serena! The boutique is located at 413 Suite A on Central Avenue, and as of this writing, her hours are Thursday 11:30 - 5:30, Friday 11:30 - 6:00, and Saturday 11:30 -5:00. Like Be A Siren on Facebook or check it out online, and don't forget to tell Serena that I sent you!

For the curious: Every single thing in every single photo can be found at the shoppe, and every single photo was taken by Joe, who busted his butt following me around for several hours. Thanks, Joe!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jeans Ain't What They Used To Be

Red Converse Chucks, unrelated but, look! I almost got my millionth pair of the classic whites but then I realized every single person in the world is wearing the classic white ones because Hunter S. Thompson was a person who did things, etc., no judgement, me too. Moving on.

Have you noticed your blue jeans aren't lasting as long as they used to? I noticed the same thing. It all started in high school when I was wearing Silver Tab Levi Jeans. Remember those? That was almost 20 years ago. I can honestly say I have not worn a decent pair of jeans since. 

Those are suede Clark's chukka boots. Found them for like $20 or $30 at Ross I think? Clark invented the style, they look good with anything except for formal dress clothes and they last for at least a couple of years before they start to fall apart. Chukka boots. Look them up.

So after spending what seemed like thousands of dollars over 2 decades searching for a pair of durable blue jeans that did what they advertised they did, I decided to try and make my own pair of blue jeans!! Take the power back! Who is with me? 

Here is how they look with my Minnetonka slippers. Sorry, this doesn't really help you very much... I am still getting the hang of picture taking. You'll notice different shades of blue as I mess around with filters. Just imagine seeing these jeans in different lights and I am going to make believe I did it on purpose.

What I found out is that I would have to invest a huge amount of money, and time, learning an artisan trade to make my own denim jean. Sadly, I had to let that particular rabbit-hole, uh, be a rabbit hole? Whatever, dumb colloquialism anyway. (Yes, we all watch Archer.)

My local cobbler, Greg, dyed these chukkas from brown to black and outfitted them with no-slip tread! I prefer the weathered look they get as the dye starts to fade. 


I then researched if Levi still makes jeans that hearkened back to when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis invented a riveted-for-strength work pant. They do. They are just a bit more expensive. I should have known, right? 501 Shrink-To-Fit. I decided to buy a pair because they are honestly cheaper than 75% of the jeans they sell at places that sell fashionable jeans. 


In all honesty, I can't even begin to scratch the surface of what goes into a good pair of quality, true denim blue jeans. This is going to have to be a reoccurring post! So that's kinda cool, right? Let me give you my first impressions: It was weird to buy jeans larger than my size and then shrink them using the "1 wash" method. It's weird that I haven't washed them for 2 months and control the smell by keeping them in the freezer. It's weird that it's going to get weirder.


While we are talking, this is where your pant legs are supposed to go down to. The top of the sole of the shoe. I know. They look a bit too long. But, it tells me that the circumference of the pant around my shoe will keep it from drooping down and being trampled while I walk. Or while doing even more rigorous activities, like Kung-Fu, or dances moves like the Angry Archer.
 


Look at that! The pants are still in place; I am free to practice the deadly arts. Afterwards I toss on a shirt and jacket to hit the town for some live music.


The right pair of jeans can make nearly any outfit work if you know how to coordinate a few shades of black. Just as long as everything fits. I am thinking about trying to shrink these jeans again to see if I can shorten them just a tad. But for now they work just fine. That's what we tell ourselves when we really want something to be fine. We say it. 


Oh what's this? Being invited on stage to play a few? No thanks. I really couldn't. I don't want people to think I am just here to toot my own horn. Modesty is a virtue my friends. Cheers!


Life is a journey. You can only bring so many pairs of jeans.