Thursday, June 26, 2014

To infinity...and beyond!

Oh, hey! Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year and has been well since that last post!   My hibernation was awesome!   And productive!  And I come bearing gifts; I'm revealing how I've made one of a kind infinity scarves from a fairly common thrift shop find: vintage maxi skirts from India!

 I usually roll my eyes when I see stupid-easy diy projects on blogs, but I hope this is helpful and informative to some!  This is my first tutorial; let me know your thoughts!

In today's class, we'll learn how to make something awesome even awesome-er.

The downside to seeing the potential in everything, and not being able to resist a deal (or a pretty pattern), and frequenting thrift shops, is that I end up with clothes (and other things) awaiting modifications before I can use them. And until they've been tweaked, they're sorted into a semi-organized tower of plastic storage containers that haunt me:

A few years ago, I fashioned an infinity scarf from a vintage gauzy Indian maxi skirt. It turned out beautifully and I made a couple for friends and sold some in the etsy shop. Recently, I had my seamstress* whip out a few more using the rest of the skirts in my collection. The lovely woodblock-like printed patterns with floral motifs or elephants or peacocks and other designs are almost always from India and usually made out of a really lightweight material. These skirts (and printed dresses and blouses) were popular in the 60s and 70s.

Dem colorz, dat pattern... *swoon*

The blouses and dresses are harder to find (and consequently more expensive...not sure I'd cut one up!)  But I see the skirts often enough... Unfortunately for me, the fit isn't super-flattering on my body; I feel like there's too much fabric on my hips and the length is always wrong. And often, the elastic waistband has dried out and there's a tear or stains near the hem where it probably grazed the ground or was stepped on. But the patterns! They're sooo good! And using the material for scarves is easy and perfectly showcases the print! They're such a fun and colorful layer to add to your outfit! Huge infinity scarves are a favorite because they're foolproof to style; just loop it around your neck a few times and go! Let's get started!

Things you need:
  • A skirt. Duh. You can basically use any skirt for this, but consider a lighter-weight, not-scratchy material that'll drape nicely around your neck. And, for ease, don't use a skirt with gores or tons of panels. (I mean, you can, but it involves more math than I want to explain.) 
  • Scissors. 
  • Thread. 
  • A needle, if sewing by hand, or a sewing machine, or a seamstress 
  • Pins (sewing or safety, dealer's choice.)
Clear, easy-to-follow Instructions:

1.  Cut the waistband off the skirt.  We don't need it.  Try to do this in a straight line and as close to the waistband as possible.  But don't stress about that too much...

Snip, snip.

2.   So now you have a big tube.  Or maybe it's a funnel... Whatever.  You could, theoretically, call it a day at that last step, but the fabric is oriented the wrong way and it's so weird how that one edge is jagged, it just looks like you're wearing a skirt around your neck!  So we're not done yet!  Lay the skirt flat and rip open the side seams so you have two rectangles.  Or maybe they're squares... Whatever.  It's okay if the edges get a little messy, in fact, it's good.  Try not to use your scissors.  If your skirt doesn't have a side seam, or it has more than two panels, just tear it into equal pieces; they do need to be the same width.  (You only need two, but you can use more to make one really long scarf, or multiple scarves, or other things.**)

Frayed edges are yer friends!

3.  If you don't want to do any sewing, you could call it a day have not one, but two basic scarves!  One for you, one for a friend!  Here's one I didn't finish because I wanted it to show the unfinished, fringe-y edges.  And it's okay!  You can't even tell!  It still works!  Yay!  But read on if you want an infinity scarf.

It's not so bad to be basic.

4.   Now let’s look at our two panels.  We’re going to sew these together width-wise; stitching along the hem and stitching along the top (where we removed the waistband) to make a big loop. We can do this two ways: stitching the panels hem-to-hem and top-to-top, or stitching them top-to-hem and hem-to-top.  Does this make sense?  For example, sometimes stitching the two hems together creates a big block of a single color (like if the skirt had a solid border).  If this is your first rodeo, I recommend stitching top-to-hem and hem-to-top because it makes the next step easier…  But it doesn't really matter which option you choose; it just depends on the pattern and your preference.  Use your pins to secure the two panels together, right-sides facing out, with the finished hem of the skirt overlapping on the right side of the fabric. 

Green highlighter on the finished edges that were the hem of the skirt.  If I stitched this together as shown, I'd consider it top-to-top and hem-to-hem.  It's easier to turn one of the panels upside down so the finished hems get stitched over the unfinished top edges on both panels.

5.   Once you’ve pinned down the edges, you’re ready to make it official and sew them together!  What’s really cool about this is that you don’t need to be #prolevel to sew this.  The material is forgiving and the pattern on the skirt will hide any uneven stitches.  Hopefully, you’re stitching top-to-hem and hem-to-top, this way you can just follow the line of the hem as it overlaps the top of the other panel (making a long rectangle), and then follow the hem line from that panel over the top of the first one (making it into a loop).  Does this make sense?  Here’s a picture:

6.   Stitch together the other ends.  In the photo above, you can barely see where the second row of stitching was done; it goes right along the hem to attach the other panel underneath it.  On the reverse side, excess fabric was trimmed away.  You can stitch a single line or two.  I've done two.  Again, I just went over the stitching on the hem.

7.   Now you have a big loop!  Whoomp there it is!  THIS is your infinity scarf!  Depending on the original dimensions of your skirt, your scarf may be really long or maybe it’s short and wide.  It’s okay!  These come in all shapes and sizes and they’re all beautiful!  Real talk.

I believe this skirt had four panels.  I used them all to make a longer and narrower infinity scarf.

Your infinity scarf can be worn in many ways.  Not an infinite amount of ways, but several.  Shrug, shawl, or wrap dress/sarong, anyone?

Mostly, I just end up doubling it over my neck twice.  And it’s easy to convert into a snood should you get caught in a downpour!  The one on the right is probably my favorite.

I also love this blue and white tie-dye one.  I’m seeing a lot of that this season and I’m a little sad I sold it!  So pretty!  It's not an Indian print, but the material; slightly sheer and crinkly, was suitable for a scarf.  If you look closely, you can see one of the panels was stitched along the sides (versus at the top and the hem) so it doesn't drape the same.  It's not bad, just unique!  There's no wrong way to go about this.

Look from Madewell Spring 2014.  They have a similar, non-infinity scarhere.

I went a little crazy and turned a few regular scarves into infinity scarves.  You can easily stitch the ends together on a long, rectangular scarf, or use two large square scarves.  Or stitch together several in a large patchwork panel.  Infinite possibilities!

Let me know if you make anything!  Share your masterpiece on Instagram, or here!  And check out the shop if you’d like to buy a finished one!

*My speedy seamstress, Hilda, completed the ones shown after I cut and pinned the pieces together.  It's amazing and insane how quickly she works, but, I assure you, this is an amateur project and shouldn't take longer than an hour, tops.  Unless you're simultaneously hate-watching a Lifetime movie: why isn't the leading lady questioning this sketchy man/situation/her acting career?  Or you're threading your sewing machine the wrong way and almost break it in frustration.  Or your cat thinks the panel of skirt fabric you've laid out is, in fact, just for him...  In any of these instances, it may take significantly longer to make a single scarf.

Mine! That'll be all.

**I had a skirt with three-panels and used two panels for my infinity scarf and applied the third to the back of a button-down shirt.  Still need to finish it, but you can already see it’s going to be boho-cape-chic!

(Not sure what happened with my font size up there...I tried to fix it and then it messed up the rest of the formatting and then I gave up.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tee Party Afterparty!

The Rocky shirt got me thinking of other movies with memorable tees.  Here are two more vintage favorites:

Jean Seberg as Patricia in Breathless (1960) and the Rodarte t-shirt designed for the 50th anniversary.  Polly tee from A.P.C. and the original Polly tee from Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966).

Coincidentally, both of these films are French and made me realize I've been on French movie binge lately.  It probably started in July, when Turner Classic Movies featured a bunch of films by François Truffaut.  (The 400 Blows!)  And then Amélie is easily one of my favorite movies...and I love this song (and the corny choreography, and the metallic jeans) from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort almost as much as I love "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky.

This isn't a movie blog so I'll bring it back to fashion and that statement t-shirt dilemma we discussed last time:  Clearly, what I need is this PARIS tee from Madewell.  But I've never been to Paris!  But I want to go!  (One day...)  Plus, the shirt has a nice feel to it and, really, it's no worse than wearing my vintage ARMY tee when I've never been in the army:

So the vintage army tee would also go well with those camo-printed jeans... Army tee is in the shop.

I have been to Disney World and I love this vintage Mickey Mouse sweatshirt that's also in the shop:

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

I'm no lifeguard, but I love the perfect distressing on this vintage lifeguard tee:

I rescued this shirt.

I also love this one: super soft and sheer and also raises so many questions:

Step aside, unofficial lifeguards.  Marmaduke does pool parties right.  Is it a crime to imitate an official lifeguard?

Is imitating a lifeguard better or worse than misleading people to think you've stolen/borrowed your clothes from any Tom, Dick, or Harry?  Or Bill?  I'm in love with the screenprint on this vintage sweatshirt despite not knowing the Bill who owned it previously:

This screenprint is pretty rad.  I imagine Bill may have been a badass and I can only hope he had a matching tattoo.

A few months ago I sold most of my brass nameplate belt buckles from the seventies.  They were awesome.  Inevitably, whenever I wore one I'd endure half a dozen conversations regarding whose belt I was wearing and why.  (My favorite non-answer: 'Trophies.')  I don't think my name is terribly uncommon: my parents didn't opt for a creatively-spelt version of it and it's the kind of name you can find printed on a keychain at an airport kiosk or boardwalk shop.  But I've never seen the belt buckle incarnation.  When I decided to settle for my initials (and the even more popular nickname 'Al'), I finally, finally, finally found a plausible vintage buckle of my I very own:

I like to wear it casually with jeans, usually with the buckle off-center on my hip.

Having just the initials (or the word 'Al') is probably more understated.  Like the Hermès Constance belt.  And speaking of designers, I thrifted a knock-off Moschino bag a few years ago.  It had a broken strap I thought I could fix but it was beyond repair, or at least not worth the cost of a professional repair.  Anyway, I harvested it for the gold-tone metal letters:

Moschino No-no.

There's no 'A' or 'L' for my own name but I'm thinking of using them to accent key fobs or maybe cuff bracelets made with scraps of vintage fabric.  I've been feeling crafty and have a few projects in various stages of completion...I'll be sharing some vintage re-works soon!  In the mean time go watch Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.  Or at least the opening.  Take notes on how you should get out of bed every morning:

Timeless fashion in this movie.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tee Party!

Forgive the fashion magazine-y play on words.  I couldn't resist.  I'm genuinely excited about styling tee shirts and finding the perfect screenprint is something to celebrate.  And unlike, say, certain statement bags or statement shoes, a statement tee shirt is relatively affordable.

The very first Vintage Adoption Agency collection was about my love of random souvenir tees from places I'd never been and the sometimes ironic disconnect when statements made by t-shirts have no significance or meaning for their wearer.   

I had written, 'when you wear a screenprinted shirt, you're literally wearing that image (or text or logo) across your chest and your a sense, every shirt you wear could (should?) be interpreted as something you 'heart' or love.''  And I also shared an experience where I got called out for not being terribly familiar with the athlete referenced on my vintage tee:
My most memorable t-shirt-instigated interrogation happened when I was wearing a shirt featuring a NFL player as a kitchen appliance (refrigerator) while pumping gas.  I heard a guy's voice bellow from the adjacent gas pump: "Whoa, whoa!  That shirt is OLD SCHOOL!  Whatchu know 'bout that, honey?" (Answer: Nothing.)  Apparently, William 'the Fridge' Perry was quite the football star.  He even has this jam dedicated to him and his own brand of barbecue sauce.
VAA Vintage Adoption Agency T-shirt Interrogation
I like my Fridge shirt because it's my favorite color (navy blue), insanely soft, and even reversible! I don't like football.

I still wear that shirt, just not as often during football season... It's not unlike how everyone had (or wanted) a Starter jacket just because they were colorful and made of that shiny windbreaker material.  (Loved those purple and teal Charlotte Hornets.  Basketball, yes?  Who cares.)  Similarly, I appreciate these sporty tops only for their artwork:

Gooo teams! Go check them out in the etsy shop!

The vintage Miami Hurricanes sweatshirt is insanely soft and I love the fading on the felt print.  The Lakers tee was made with that signature eighties puffy paint on the yellow and the Honolulu Marathon Clinic jersey made me think of the awesome Étoile Isabel Marant Rosa tank...  Fashionable wearers can style these tops to look cozy and cool (check out these tips, too) and it'll probably (reasonably?) be assumed that they're fans of the team (or clinic) they're representing.

Naturally, I loved how the Man Repeller much more eloquently reflected on this graphic tee conundrum (plight? dilemma? hyperbole?) and compared fashion to temporary tattoos:  'A graphic t-shirt that includes words or a clear sentiment should probably crystallize the makeshift, fleeting tattoo which is why I’ve been wondering how often people actually believe in the graphics they’re wearing.'  THIS!  And then, 'While it seems important to remain true to your tattoo and the story you’re using your clothing to tell, what happens when irony gets lost on your audience?'  THAT, TOO!  Excellent question.  Now readers, reflect on the meaning of dress in the context of what our t-shirts communicate.  Plan your response and then write an essay...  Homework: just in time for the back-to-school season.

Choosing a t-shirt is potentially complicated and fraught with all kinds of social implications.  But probably not.  My criteria still comes down to favorite colors, good designs, and the perfect drape-y fit and feel.  And thank goodness t-shirts are temporary!  Similar to how I credited PacSun for helping me look like a landlocked surfer girl in middle school, Hot Topic is responsible for helping me pay homage to every eighties and early nineties cartoon show I only vaguely remembered with dozens of colorful ringer tees (and their coordinating shoelaces, wallets, sweatbands, and patches) in high school:

Sweet youth.

Just as I've realized I can go on a vacation without buying a t-shirt as a souvenir, I've also realized I can be nostalgic about the animated shows from my childhood without owning their commemorative tees.

That's what I tell myself.  (This was tempting.)  In reality, I don't think I've evolved that much; I've just gotten more selective and prefer subtler references in my graphic tees.  These days I'm less likely to reveal my allegiances with a particular tv show, or band, or logo.  It's less of a statement and more of...a whisper.  A nod that only speaks to super-fans.  Except, when it's not. 

I finally saw Rocky.  Better late than never but a bit surprising if you consider that I've had the theme song "Gonna Fly Now" in constant rotation for years and wasn't familiar with any of the (six? seven?) Rocky movies.  I was mostly in it for the famous training montages set to the theme song.  (Also, conveniently, compiled in a YouTube video.)  

Now, full disclosure: boxing and boxing movies* are not my jam.  But I love cheering for the underdog and found myself rooting for Rocky and was genuinely surprisedshocked, I tell you, shocked!that he didn't win the fight.  No spoiler alert there because everyone else has seen it, right?  Rocky not winning the fight (yeah, yeah, yeah, so he got the girl) would be like E.T. not getting away from the cops.  (Not sure how well that comparison works, but I was expecting a Cinderella Man-like victory...but it was also much less traumatic than how Million Dollar Baby ended.)  

So I had to watch Rocky II.  And in this second installment I noticed Rocky wearing a lovely 'Win Rocky Win' muscle tee while training and naturally, logically, I found a similar design for cheap on eBay:  

Winning.  With style.  Loving how the vintage brocade blazer contrasts with the red font and the touch of black leather channels Rocky a little more with a bomber from Madewell.
While searching the interwebs for a movie still of Rocky wearing said tee, I discovered that it was actually gifted to him in the first movie by his girlfriend...but the scene got cut!  Same design except it was light blue with red lettering and in the second film, he's wearing a light gray version sans sleeves.  

I preferred to get mine in a charcoal gray and I love how this tee looks layered underneath different jackets!  I feel ready to pass my next t-shirt-instigated interrogation!  Once my bit of accidentally-discovered scene trivia is shared and the rest of my Rocky-related movie knowledge exhausted, I can confidently throw some air punches and hum "Gonna Fly Now" as I jog away from the conversation, victorious.

*A few days ago I was trying to think of some movies about horses that aren't super dramatic and/or full of clichés.  It's damn near impossible.  Movies about boxing are the same way!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Plaid Shirts. Revisited.

Last year, we had the Autumn Shirt Collection.  I parted with a lot of plaid shirts with color schemes that reminded me of fall foilage.  (And also, my elementary school bus driver and the Brawny paper towel man but only in the best, most authentic and fashionable way possible...)  This time around I've got a set of plaid shirts dominated by bright, saturated colors:

Looking at all the blocks of colors and pattern lines makes me think of digital color grids...or a kaleidoscope!  Interestingly, two of the shirts (and one plaid skirt) are vintage Liz Claiborne!  Oh, yeah, and I threw in a colorful patchwork shirt, too...

Back in March, I saw a post on Tomboy Style about pairing winter-y tartan plaids and white jeans together for a fool-proof spring outfit.  I think it's a great look, and, by that logic (light-colored jeans + winter plaid = ideal spring outfit), I think the inverse also works: summer plaid + dark-wash denim = ideal fall outfit.  These plaids'll look great with denim shorts now and later they'll brighten up high-rise skinny jeans and even look preppy-chic underneath a blazer.  Never mind that these aren't summer plaids, per se, it's the rest of your outfit that makes them work in any season.  Alexa gets it:

Alexa Chung forever.  Now and Later candy...not so much.  Photos from

Of course, some of these plaids aren't as transitional and are probably better suited for summer.  This sleeveless number from Liz Claiborne (below, left) has an over-sized madras-like pattern and is a gauzy material.  I'd describe it as 'eighties mom-style goes on a long car ride' ...I can't really pinpoint my reference for this, it's not exactly Ellen from National Lampoon's Vacation but, as always, I do mean my references in the best possible way because these are all items I've personally chosen and love!  Does it remind you of anything, or anyone?  The short-sleeve plaid on the right is presently in my personal collection and it feels strictly summer, too, and reminds me of the eighties.  And also, summer getaways, especially when knotted in the front Dirty Dancing-style: just add denim shorts (double-cuffed) and Keds:

And here's another still of Baby from the same blog post where I got the above image, wearing a plaid shirt.

Related sidenote: Has anyone seen Sleepaway Camp?!  It's an eighties horror movie I'd never heard of until I caught the (surprising!) ending of it on television a few weeks ago.  Normally, I hate watching a movie mid-way but I couldn't resist this one.  All I have to say is: Wow.  And, despite how it turned out, I still feel like I missed out by never getting to go to sleepaway camp.  Probably because of all the other, non-scary movies that made sleepaway camp seem AMAZING.  Like, what if I somehow had a long-lost twin I never knew about?!

This next plaid feature isn't as bright as the previous ones, but it's an all-time favorite in my personal collection.  It is from the eighties (1980 to be exact) and was part of a special collaboration between Levi's and the Olympics.  It's paper-thin perfection and it's over-sized, almost tunic length on me.  I've replaced buttons on it and mended a few tears.  And it's still going strong.  It reminds me of art class in elementary school where students would wear random, donated, (mostly men's) button-down shirts as smocks when painting or otherwise getting messy.  To think I was exposed to hobo-chic and thriftiness in elementary school!  Who knew?!  Are schoolchildren still doing this?!

Going for the Olympic this beautifully worn-in 33 year-old plaid shirt.

Earlier in this post I suggested wearing plaid shirts underneath a blazer, but what about wearing a plaid blazer?  Can it be done?  Without looking liking a used car salesman or taking hobo-chic too literally?  And not looking too preppy or too punk-y?  I haven't found the right plaid blazer that balances that.  Last year, Zara had this blackwatch plaid suit that looked amazing and I have a plaid skirt suit I bought for the skirt.  I love the skirt with a plain tee or a chambray and ballet flats or sandals.  The brand is Country Suburbans and I like to keep it from looking country-club-casual... I would never wear it with the matching blazer:

I haven't quite figured out a look that I love involving this blazer.  It has a great fit but I don't feel like myself in it because it hasn't been easy to style to my taste.  How would you style it?  It may be headed to the shop!  Also coming to the etsy shop: a plaid dress and a pair of plaid shorts!  Plaid everywhere! Cue dramatic cliffhanger: Could plaids be the new florals?!  Hmmm... 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Beyond the sea

What summer isn't complete without a jaunt to the beach?  About a week ago I had a girls' weekend near the water and I can still hear the waves crashing on the shore and feel the sand under my feet:

Wish You Were Here!  (Fun fact: That's also the title of one of my favorite jams in high school...)

Despite a freak near-death drowning incident in Key West when I was younger, I love being in the ocean...or just near it.  I spent an afternoon napping on the beach (another choice jam...) and it was the best, most tranquil nap ever.  Maybe it's because of all those negative ions or maybe I've just been brainwashed by singing along with Sebastian to that catchy little jingle in The Little Mermaid.  But, most logically, my obsession with the sea is easily explained by the fact that I'm a water sign.  (And by this very scientific reasoning we can also deduce that air signs like being around air and earth signs like the earth...and fire signs are pyromaniacs. ) 

Cartoon of me at seventy, channeling Little Edie and a photo of me at seven, dressed as a gypsy fortune-teller for Halloween.  Full disclosure: I already own and wear all the pieces illustrated in my Advanced Style moment.  And another fun fact: I downplay how much I love reading horoscopes.

Anyway, the beach.  And beach style!  In middle school I had a strange obsession with surf culture.  (And a shout out to the Pacific Sunwear at the local mall for helping me look the part in all those Roxy boardshorts and Billabong tees despite being landlocked and not actually knowing how to surf.)  I dreamed of hanging loose, or hanging ten, or...whatever.  I really had no idea.  But I imagined I could be a modern-day Gidget, learning how to surf with the help of all my hot guy friends, who had nicknames like Moondoggie and partying on the beach. 

I've only seen the movie version with Sandra Dee.  I just like this book cover.

Fortunately, my idea of seaside style has evolved since middle school.  Finding the perfect-fitting and wearable and a pattern/color I love and flattering (tall order, I know) vintage swimsuit or romper has eluded me of my Esther Williams moment.  I've had much better luck going the vintage route with creative cover-ups.  I love an embroidered Oaxacan dress or tunic for the beach or poolside; they're cotton and breezy and just really beautiful with a bohemian vibe.  I happened to be wearing the shorter one below when I was selling vintage at a flea market a few years ago:  

This older Mexican lady complimented me on it and she was so kind and friendly and so knowledgeable about these embroidered designs; she explained the meaning behind everything in the design...from the direction the little people were dancing, the types of flowers, etc. might reveal if you were single or taken or otherwise tell a story about your family.  She knew exactly where and when mine had been made just from the stitching!  Here's a closer look:

See the little pink and yellow people around the bust?
It was such a cool experience!  To use some [stereotypical assumptions of?] surfer-lingo, it was all good vibes, man.  I was totally enlightened!  Unfortunately, it was also about a hundred degrees outside and I can't remember the specifics of what she said and I wasn't able to find any other info along the same lines about it on the internet...and that's where this lazy girl's search for answers ended.  I know they're popular souvenirs and  so the designs have been simplified and/or made with machines and I usually see ones for sale just described as 'Mexican embroidered dress/tunic/caftan' with no other specifics, except maybe an era.  Was that adorable abuelita awesome or an awesomely insane mirage?  Cue Unsolved Mysteries theme song: If you have any information about this, write to me at, or in the comments!  I'm really curious about it and it'd be cool to know (again!) what, if any, meaning the different patterns have.

Sorry, guys.  This one sold faster than I could get this blog post finished...

The one above was full-length with a more unusual pastel-rainbow gradient embroidery..and hot pink floral details.  I think it's newer than the black one.  Here's another Mexican dress in my personal collection; this one has pintucks and rows of lace: 

It's another adorable beach-y option, probably from the sixties or seventies.  More often I see maxidresses with bell-sleeves in this style.  Here's one on eBay from Tachi Castillo that I love:  

The color!  The dropwaist! 

If I wanted to go in a less hippie and more chic direction, I have this unlined eyelet LBD that I could totally style into a more retro-glam vacation-appropriate look:

 I'd wear it over a solid black strapless bandeau and matching high-waisted bottoms.  I was inspired by Anna Dello Russo in that Dolce & Gabbana lace shift a few years ago but here the more modest cut of the dress would balance the peekaboo effect.  During the day the dress could be accessorized with a straw hat, woven belt (worn backwards), and flat leather sandals.  Later, I'd switch up the crafty belt for one with a gold-tone seashell buckle (mine is from Mimi di N) and swap the sandals for dressier platforms.

Lastly, what's a trip to the beach without a stylish way of transporting all your beach essentials?  I love colorful woven market totes!  They're pretty to look at, yes, but they're also extremely sturdy and practical.  Plus, many have leather straps so they're comfortable to carry and easy to sling on your shoulder.  Over time, the straps get softer and the colors become more muted.  It's an obvious choice for the beach but I like keeping a few in the trunk of my car for impromptu stops at yard sales or farmer's markets...or as an alternate in case I forget any of my other reusable bags and want to avoid paying a certain bag tax:


These are the two (above) that I find myself using most often.  So, why the hell am I keeping all of these:

Pick a bag, any bag...

Answer: I'm insane.  Or maybe greedy.  I just need options...  But I'm definitely running out of space.  ALL MOST (they're moving fast!) of the bags shown above are available in the etsy shop.  (Not so greedy, afterall...) 

Ughhh...beach withdrawals.  Writing about the beach and beach style makes me want to plan another escape.  Blog post, what?  I have to research my next holiday... Enjoy what's left of summer; SPOILER ALERT! it's almost over!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beyond Stripes and Polka Dots

Do any of you remember Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books and, later, the cartoon?  She was the awesome, eccentric, and enthusiastic elementary school teacher fond of taking her students on EPIC field trips.  (Outer space, anyone?  Inside the human body?  Travelling back in time to learn about dinosaurs?)  Educational and entertaining...and a sartorial inspiration.  Ms. Frizzle always coordinated her ensemble to the field trip destination or topic.  The patterns on her dresses and her accessories always related to the subject du jour.  Take the field trip to space: Jupiter earrings?  A shirtwaist dress featuring stars and planets?   Solar system headband with dangling planets?  You just know the field trip will literally be out of this world:

image source:
Off to space.  Obviously.

When it comes to wearing patterns in my own wardrobe, I'm partial to the classics: polka dots, stripes, plaids, and, as you know, florals.  But lately I've been drawn to more offbeat patterns and wishing I had somewhere cooler than the suburbs of Maryland to wear them.  And, I wonder where Ms. Frizzle might have worn them:

This vintage skirt was thrifted over a decade ago and it's in my personal collection.  It has giant waves all around the hem and a volcano in the background.  The print reminds me of the famous Japanese woodblock print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai:

Ms. Frizzle might have worn this skirt to take her class on a trip to Japan.  In these tough times, and lacking a Magic School Bus of my own, the best I can manage is taking a metro ride down to the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art, which in fact has some of Hokusai's other artwork.  Plus, it's free and it's air-conditioned.  Winning...with style.  I'd top it off with a plain tee and my easy-to-walk-in cork platforms for an afternoon of cultural appreciation:

Konichiwa, bitches!

Here's another from my personal collection.  I got this one off eBay last year.  It's covered with falling chairs!  I'm not sure if there's a Ms. Frizzle-worthy field trip to this, but I imagine she also coordinates her patterns to her weekend plans.  Maybe she's going to the upholsterer to decide on some crazy fabric swatches for her sofa.  I could wear it to Ikea!  (Although these don't look like the kind of chairs you assembled yourself from a million pieces that came from a little cardboard box and I don't think I'd willingly venture to an Ikea on a weekend...)

 And since we can't go more than a post or two without highlighting Liz Claiborne, check out that vintage belt:

This one's going to be in the shop.  The duck pattern would be perfect for taking the class on a simple nature walk by the lake!  (Tough times, remember?)  This skirt would be cute for a picnic, too!  But not if it's 100 degrees outside.  My thematic indoor activities would be watching a Duck Dynasty marathon on TV...or going old school and playing Duck Hunt on Nintendo!

Duck duck goose.

This next dress is so playful and fun.  It's silk and it's from Bill Blass.  If it didn't have polka dots (some of them topped with sequins!) and painterly sunglasses and sunhats it'd be just another serious-looking eighties shift dress:

The sleeve length still feels a little frumpy to me so I've been disguising that under different layers:

I imagine this is what a younger Ms. Frizzle might have worn out shopping and if she did wear it on a field trip, the Magic School Bus might have been headed to Fashion Week!  This dress is staying in my collection for now but I have another accessory-patterned item headed to the shop:

This top is also made of silk and also covered with accessories.  There's a bit more variety with bags and boots and belts and scarves.  It's another one Ms. Frizzle could wear out shopping.  It reminds me of all those different Nicole Miller patterns from the early nineties.  I bet Ms. Frizzle was a fan.  You have to dig to find the random assortment of them on eBay and here are two of my favorites from an etsy seller that has a good stash of them in her shop, Hooked On Honey:

Perfect tops for dinner and a movie, no?  The snacks remind me of another shirt with a random food pattern that I sold at the beginning of this year.  It had different types of pasta all over it.  So random but so cool and I loved the contrasting trim.  Ms. Frizzle and class go to an Italian restaurant and make their own noodles!

Love you, pasta shirt.  Miss you.
Lastly, I've got another recent find headed to the shop.  This is the cutest, most perfect/adorable/cool sundress for the beach.  Naturally, it features seashells.  Ms. Frizzle might take the class to the seaside to learn about crustaceans and I'd wear it while eating them (crab cake sandwich, please!) at the best seafood restaurant on the boardwalk:

The neon-ish color scheme is everything.  And it feels new and unworn!  And it's not your typical teeny-tiny vintage size!  Triple win!  It'll be in the shop soon!  I'm going to make like the toaster on another random vintage pattern (technically, a screensaver) and fly:

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 Get it? 'Fly'? Because they're flying toasters? I'm totally the Carlos character of Ms. Frizzle's class...