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: http://hellogiggles.com/rent-the-frizzdrobe-the-fashion-your-lifestyle-craves
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:

image source: http://cache.ohinternet.com/images/0/07/After_dark_flying_toasters.png
 Get it? 'Fly'? Because they're flying toasters? I'm totally the Carlos character of Ms. Frizzle's class...

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