Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pumpkin and Peplums

September is almost over, the days are getting shorter, the air is getting crisper, and Starbucks is now serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Break out the sweaters and scarves ladies and gents because fall is here. While it may not exactly feel that way here in San Francisco, the truth of the fact is that Halloween is just over a month away and it is no longer acceptable to wear white pants, short shorts, or flip-flops. While fashion may no longer be dictated by the social season (which really is a shame. I would look so great in a ball gown), it certainly is shaped by the season season—by which month the calendar says it is. This is really quite good as we would get very bored, not to mention uncomfortably cold or hot, if we had to wear the same thing all year long. However, it can get quite irksome having to switch up your wardrobe every three months, or 6 months, or every month if you live in Colorado. If you don’t have the means and/or interest in switching up the contents of your closet and prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts, or leggings and t-shirts as most of us do now a days considering how hard jeans are to get over the rear end, then you can just throw on a scarf and sweater and be fine for the next few months. Easy as pumpkin pie. But some of us would like change things up a little more. Add a little spice to our ensemble to go along with all the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves drifting in the air. This autumn, our spice collection contains a lovely combination of tartans and tweed and peplums and pleats. Our color scheme feels a bit like a group of scottish highlanders having a thanksgiving dinner in a log cabin. Don't believe me? See for your self:
F/W '13 color palette from Pantone, taken from the Fashionsnoops website 
Let's mix together our fall ingredients and see what we can create. By that I mean, let's see what we should all be wearing for the short time period called autumn. 

Trench Coats are always a must for fall, but maybe this year we can stray away from the rather dull camel colored ones and try for something more exciting?
Burberry Prorsum F/W 13 
Of course sweaters are always a good fall back at this time in life.
Cable knit sweater from Jack Wills 
If it isn't too chilly, a cute pleated, jumper dress would add a nice splash to the usually shapeless fall styles
Lattes to Talk About jumper from Modcloth
 I've heard that "duster" sweaters are all the rage over on the East coast, so why not try one out?
Season for Snuggling Cardigan from Modcloth
 A simple plaid dress never goes amiss. never.
Coldstream Dress from Shabby Apple
 A wool pencil skirt and sweater is a nice way to look classy and put together on those chilly days where all you want to do is drink apple cider and read a book.
Cora Skirt from Shabby Apple
 Cropped pants in plaid or houndstooth are a nice way to transition between seasons
cropped pants from Tommy Hilfiger
 And on days when it is not quite so chilly, but shorts are still inappropriate as it is not July, a nice pair of wool shorts with tights is a good alternative.
Rome shorts from Tommy Hilfiger
 And, of course, we must never forget the classics, such as a tweed blazer. however this year we can make it a little more stylish and feminine by adding a slight peplum.
Tweed jacket from Ralph Lauren
There you have it. You now know everything there is to know about fall fashion for 2013.
Hahahahaha as if. There is so much more, but I have to go to class so I need to stop.

Have fun wearing your plaids and drinking your chai teas my little pumpkins.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

No Such Thing As A New Idea

Anyone who has ever paid even the slightest bit of attention to fashion has probably noticed that almost everything "new" takes some kind of influence from something in the past. For example, at the time of Jane Austen, the early 1800s, there was a style called "Empire waist", it looked a lot like this:
Fashion sketch of an Empire Waist
You'll notice that that dress looks an awful lot like the ones in this image:

This, however, is not a fashion sketch from the around 1815. No, this is an illustration of women in Ancient Greece. Now why do these two sketches look so similar? You guessed it rockstar! The fashion leaders of Jane Austen's time were influenced by the Ancient Greeks. In this case, Napoleon Bonaparte's wife, Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais, had a particular affinity to Ancient Greece and thus introduced this style, and being rich and french and famous, she was able to get everyone else to follow her–just like how our good friends over in Hollywood are able to convince the rest of us poor sheep to follow their style advice, whether or not it is actually good. 

Anyway, the same thing is happening today. I have been scanning through all the different fashion shows that are part of New York Fashion week and London Fashion week and Paris and Milan and whatever other city is having a fashion week (Tangent: really, they should stop adding fashion weeks. It's just getting ridiculous. Next thing we know Wonderland will start having fashion weeks!!) and I have been noticing how many times a look comes up that just reminds me of some other time. Believe me, it is quite frequent.

Why is this happening? Is it possible that designers have run out of new ideas? I don’t think so. I’m sure they have plenty of creative juices left. It is my belief that there is a pervading sense of nostalgia infecting society today. Now this is just my individual belief, but I think that because we are so unsure of what the future holds and what with all the new technologies that seem to come out every day (like the colored iPhone! What is this madness??) many of us wish we could return to a simpler time. We wish we could return to a time pre-internet, pre-cell phones, pre-the-impersonality-created-by-today’s-technologies. However, that is impossible. We don’t have time turners and can’t go back in time. So we have to compensate in any way that we can, and in the case of designers, they do it in the form of designing clothes that are inspired by the past. Who knows? Maybe when they get bored of reintroducing the past century, they’ll bring back corsets and bustles? Or maybe in a few years we’ll be wearing leaves and loincloths. That I would love to see.

So, really there is no such thing as a new idea, because every "new" idea is simply just a reinterpretation of an old idea, but really it's all the same in one way or another. Just like all those movies and books about two people from different families and they aren't allowed to love each other but they do anyway and then people die. Yeah, they're all the same. 


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hear me roar

When I was young I was an extremely timid child. You know those children who you can't tell whether or not they actually know how to speak? Yeah, I was one of those. Except not only did I refuse to talk, but I also refused to do anything at all out of my comfort zone. A comfort zone which extended to reading books, playing games by myself, and only talking to people related to me, or at least whom I had known for a very long time. However, being in my particular family of adventurers, go getters, and, quite frankly, slightly crazy people, this didn't exactly fly. When I was 10 my Grandma decided that enough was enough when I refused to ask the waitress for no mustard, even though I absolutely despised mustard, simply because I was too shy. My good ol' Granny took me aside and said some very wise words, "are you going to eat ask for no mustard? or are you going to starve because you wont eat that sandwich?". Then she said some other words, that were pretty wise too, "in life, there are going to be things that scare you, and you have two choices. Either you can face them, or you can hide. Hiding is fine, but you will never grow and you will never learn. And you probably wont have much fun. But if you face them, who knows what you may achieve. So I want you to repeat after me, 'I am woman, hear me ROAR'", and then we practiced roaring. And we practiced roaring every single time I was too shy to do something until the day came when I was brave enough to roar a great big lion's roar in the middle of JC Penney.
You never know what you might miss just because you are afraid of being laughed at, or of being wrong, or of seeming ignorant. A very wise movie once told me "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" (yes, that is from A Cinderella Story, a fabulous movie). We just have to remember that everyone is facing the exact same demons as us and that, well in most cases, if you take the first step, others will follow and see you as a brave leader–just like Aragorn going out to face the orcs, even though he knows that he will probably fail, except hopefully you wont ever actually have to do anything quite so gruesome and smelly.

Yesterday I went to the beach with my sisters and cousins. About half way through the afternoon, I decided that I wanted to do some yoga on the beach (something I would never have done when I was younger, seeing as there were other people around and other people are scary). As I was coming out of a pose, I looked over and there was an old man doing yoga about 20 yards away. Now, I have no idea if his doing yoga was in any way connected to mine, but I like to think that it was because I took the first step, or rather pose, that he had the courage to do so too. And if I do say so, it was adorable watching this little old man do yoga next to the ocean.

So, next time you feel too timid to do something, anything, just think "I am woman, or man, here me roar!", and ROAR for heaven's sake. This can be a figurative roar if you would like, or you can actually roar, that's okay too. For some of us this comes naturally, but I think that for more of us than we'd like to admit, taking the first step is quite terrifying, so I leave you with this last message:

("Do not dare not to dare"–C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy)


(all pictures belong to Mary Justice McNeil, owner of this blog. However, you may pin/share them if you would like, if you do so in a manner that links back to this website. That way I get more viewers. Which is very exciting for me)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Collection From A Dream

"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
are of imagination all compact"

While browsing through the collections shown at the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week (a task assigned to me. In school. Which is awesome.) I was impressed by the craftsmanship of many, the creativity of some, and the inventiveness of a few. However, not many of the collections truly struck me as amazing. This has much to do with my dislike of the 90s as a style reference and my understanding that crop tops only look good on those who posses a precise genetic code or a very strict workout regimen. However, I cannot say that I am completely a Scrooge, because there were a few that did make me crack a smile, not a smirk, a real smile.
One collection that I found quite astounding was Zac Posen’s. Sure, not all of his dresses would look good on everyone, and if we’re being honest, some of them really shouldn’t be worn, but what struck me as amazing was the traditional beauty of the pieces. The dresses, full of ruffles, flowing chiffon, pleats, corseted bodices, and intricate floral patterns, all in shades of lavender, pale pinks and blues, greens, with a few accents of gold and rose red, felt as if they were coming out of a dream. A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be precise. I could just imagine Titania and her crew of fairies dancing around the forest being mischievous in these striking gowns. Yet at the same time, these dresses belong on princesses waltzing with princes until dawn, or on a turn of the century duchess, or on a 1930’s film star.

It is the timelessly classic beauty of these dresses that make them stand out in my mind. Not only that, but the extraordinary craftsmanship–it is evident that a lot of work, hand work, was put into making these, and I have great respect for that. Above all however, what is most remarkable is the amount of imagination that surrounds these pieces like a cloud of dust (the fairy kind). Not only can I see the amount of imagination that Posen put into his work, but after only a moment of looking at the collection my imagination began to run rampant–fairies, princesses, naiads and dryads. When something is imaginative enough to spur my own imagination, and has not already used up all of its potential imagination in the making, that is when it strikes me as an amazing piece of work, that is when I remember it. 


What were your favorite collections from New York Fashion Week? 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An Unexpected Adventure

You know that story where the wizard invites the little hairy man to go on an adventure with some other little hairy men and all this unexpected stuff happens and it's really dangerous and there are dragons and goblins and gold? Well my day was EXACTLY like that, only vastly different.
I woke up this morning with absolutely no plans for the day. Being the first Saturday of the semester I had no homework waiting patiently on my desk nor did I have plans to spend the day making up for lost sleep. I had no expectations for the day. I did not expect in the slightest that I would be going on an adventure. However, as is often the case with adventures, a totally unexpected journey lay in store for me. I left my dorm and headed towards the piers to check out a gluten free bakery I had heard about residing in the Ferry Building. After sitting on the dock drinking my iced coffee and eating the first pastry I have been able to enjoy in over six months (the first unexpected surprise of the day), I headed off along the shores checking out the piers. I have always been a mountain girl. That is something that happens when you are born and raised in Colorado. But walking along the piers on this lovely, oddly sunny day in San Francisco, I fell in love with the ocean (the second unexpected surprise). The twinkling water, peaceful movement, and deep blue color was so beautiful and inviting, I don't know how I could never have loved it before. Then, around pier 29 I saw a lot of people all crowded around looking out into the water. There were two sail boats very speedily flying across the water. A huge cheer rang out from the crowd. I had no idea what was happening so I just walked on. As I walked further I saw more crowds of people, many flags, tents, a lot of boats, and a stadium looking thing. Unbeknownst to me, I had stumbled upon the 34th America's Cup. For those of you who, like me, know little about sailing, America's Cup is a giant race between two sailing yachts. Apparently it is a very big deal and people come from all over the world to watch, and I just happened to find myself right in the middle of it. This year it is America vs. New Zealand and today, the first day of the cup, the "Kiwis" won both races.
So, I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the races, exploring the piers, and thoroughly enjoying myself. This is a whole world to which I am completely new, and every sight, sound, smell was exciting.
Here we can see the two yachts in the background racing. Meanwhile there are some very lazy sea lions out tanning.

While walking around I found this beautiful boat/ship/yacht, I don't know the correct terminology, I just think it is pretty.
Obviously whoever owned this beautiful vessel supported the kiwis, and as they won twice today, I think I will too.

There was a huge crowd of people watching the race on a large screen. Well, some were watching, some were tanning.
 This experience was so fun for me. I was accidentally thrown into something I have never seen before and discovered that I really want to learn more about it. I would love to learn how to sail. Do we have any volunteers to teach me?

While walking and watching I thought about what I would have worn if I had known that I was going to do this today–as clothes are constantly in the forefront of my mind and, as we all know, I am a great believer in dressing for the occasion. So, if I happen to attend another sail race, or find a rich husband who owns a sailing yacht, I may wear something like this:
Melissa Odabash Jemima White Wide-Brimmed Sunhat, 
Riverside Stroll Dress from Modcloth, Steve Madden Wedges, and Betsey Johnson jewelry

I guess what I would like to leave you all with tonight is this: never pass up an opportunity for an adventure, for you never know where it may take you. If I had not gone to check out an unknown gluten free bakery, I never would have discovered my love of the ocean and sailing...and wide brimmed sunhats (I could have avoided a bad sunburn)


Monday, September 2, 2013

Sugar and Charm

I have a confession. This may come as a shock. This may be a bit startling. But I hope you can still accept me and love me for who I am.
Sometimes I have fantasies of being a southern belle. 
I just want to wear big hats and live in a big white house and drink big glasses of sweet tea. Sadly though, as I live far away from Louisiana and do not have big hair, nor am I Charlotte La Bouff or even Miss Celia Foote. So until I have those apparent requirements to reach my dream, I will have to compensate. While I can't walk around calling people sugar, as it doesn't sound quite as adorable if you don't have a sweet little twang, I can dress like a character on the stage of my dream life. 
For this particular character my costume consists of a large white sun hat, pink skirt, pink chiffon shirt, a petit pair of heels, and just a touch of beignet sweetness. 

Starring in this show along side me is my cousin, Irene, looking absolutely glowing in a lace backed dress and mint sun hat. 

Until the day comes when I can live on an old plantation with a good southern boy and eat fried chicken for dinner (which will probably never happen) this little game of make believe is a good substitute. 
I shall now depart and leave you with this message. You do not have to be in a Nicholas Sparks book to be a sweet tea drinking cutie. Just put on a big hat, with an even bigger smile.

Just don't attempt to have an accent. That can get offensive.