Fall Lookbook 2010!

Back to School, for me, means new books and new clothes.  No, I am no longer enrolled at an institution of learning, but that has never stopped me from continuing to learn and come up with fun new outfits.

Last year, these items were on the list.  Of the 20, I picked up about 9 of the items.  So some repeats may appear this year.  Analyzing style is truly a hobby of mine, and I get a kick out of categorizing what I am attracted to.  The older I get, the less trends matter to me.  Plus something I own is coming back around the style mountain at any given time, anyhoo. Having paid very close attention over the past few years to what I am attracted to and what styles prompt a gut response from me, I have actually bothered to categorize these, my favorite looks (oh yes…I have nerdified haute couture.)

  • Classic – I initally referred to this as Classic American, but Classic French and Classic British also appear in this category.  The feel is good tailoring, clean lines, natural fibers (wool, leather, cotton), and excellent craftsmanship.  Deep colors, beautiful neutrals and plaids. The looks range from Equestrian to vintage tailgating.  I look to J. Crew, LL Bean, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, and even Victoria’s Secret for examples of my version of Classic.
  • Dance – since I was very little I have loved dancewear.  Leotards, tap shoes, jazz shoes, satiny ballet shoes, canvas ballet shoes, wrap sweaters, tights, legwarmers.  Dance is both demure and still body conscious.  I include the flappery look of the 20’s in with dance.  It’s mostly the textures and the shoes that attract me.  The sillhouettes don’t accomodate breasts very well. For dance, I go straight to the source: dancewear purveyors.  I also like Repetto for shoes.  Antonio Melani.  American Apparel.
  • Bombshell – Bombshell runs from demure to siren.  It’s about the silhouettes and the fit.  In fact, I would say two things separate bombshell from potentially trashy: fit and quality of material.  The fun thing about the Bombshell look is making it seem vintage without being costumey.  This look spans the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. For bombshell I look to vintage patterns, ebay, TJ Maxx, Loehman’s, Donna Rico (LOVE).  In any given season SOMETHING will be influenced by one of the aforementioned decades.
  • Baroque – I want to say “gothic”.  I do.  But we all know what comes to mind.  What I mean is a dark, mysterious, ornate, Victorian.  I love garnets and black lace. I look for saturated jewel tones.  A Parisian influence.  OLD Paris.  I hate to invoke a trend, but perhaps a bit vampiric.  Velvet.  24K gold.  Forever 21 usually has at least an accessory that plays with lace.  Often Baroque is a question of accessory and makeup.  Damask prints.
  • Bohemian – Not full out hippy and CERTAINLY not hipster.  Perhaps the softer side of the 70’s.  A bit Biba.  Susan Dey.  What my Mom wore in art school.  Silk scarves.  Platformed penny loafers.  Bellbottoms.  Handkerchief hems. The easiest to find, and often the cheapest.
  • Country – Denim.  Gingham.  Vintage cotton prints.  I would never enter into a category called “Country” lightly.  But after looking at my style, it definitely emerged as a separate category.  Plaids – madras, in particular.  Country is about a particular type of crisp cotton and cotton knits.  It’s cozy and natural without ever becoming sloppy.  It’s flirty.
  • Romantic – Faeries, Love, Lace and pastels.  Ruffles and watercolors.  Delicate jewelry.  I also include a celtic influence here.  Goddessy styles.  Woodland.
  • Glamour – How doth the bombshell differ from the glamour?  Well, Glamour is not restricted by influence of times past, even though it may share a love of bold color and animal prints.  Formal and cocktail attire appears in glamour.  Feathers, jewels and striking lines.  The key word here is DRAMA. Satins, brocades, and no shame.

Each “look” blends rather seamlessly into one another: Baroque becomes Glamour becomes Bombshell becomes Classic becomes Country becomes romantic become Boho becomes dance.  I really haven’t found anything I like that doesn’t fit into these looks…except maybe that cargo jacket you’ll see below.  I’m not a minimalist.  I’m not a hipster.  I’m not a punk…fashionably speaking.  I know you’re probably thinking ANYTHING would fit those categories but the looks are pretty specific.  I may go into detail on each on in a separate post.

Meanwhile, I organize my life through binders.  Many many binders.  Scripts, audition stuff, music, recipes, my household manual, and my lookbook.

My lookbook is a binder of different outfits, looks, style ideas, makeup ideas, how to’s, tips and tricks and all sorts of fun fashiony stuff.  I live in different worlds.  I go to my day job where I have to dress a certain way.  Auditions call for a more personal style, and occasionally special tweaks to suggest the world of the play (aka Dear Director, I can look like that.), my home life (I’m a knitter, sewer, and cook), rehearsals (dress to move….rehearsal skirts…shoes), and more and more frequently travel (I ascribe to Tim Gunn’s feeling that pj pants and sweats do not belong in airports.) The lookbook is sort of a never-ending project to navigate the worlds I live in.  Do I think it’s important to dress well?  I don’t know.  It’s important to me, personally.  Dressing a certain way for a certain occasion is a way for me to mark the ritual, in a way.  In my way.

Fashion, to me, is hardly “important” in the scheme of things.  It is my hobby.  But I do believe that a strong sense of style can really be a boon.  It can also be politically reflective.  In 1972, my Mom was sent home from school for daring to wear jeans…that is to say, pants.  Though I love vintage fashion, I never don it without thinking about that.  Dior’s New Look is visually stunning (and frankly my favorite), (While I loathe the overexposed Louis Vuitton handbag, I was thrilled to see their New Lookish Fall 2010 Ready to Wear. ) but those nipped waists and perky breasts reflect an undercurrent of impossible female form.  (Men, of course, aren’t immune.  I give you:  the codpiece.  I assume that went out of fashion due to sports cars… I kid.)  Also, I am not a hipster.  At all.  The color mustard is for food purposes, and not clothing.  Ill-fit, bad haircuts, and irony have no place in my wardrobe.  This is not to say I’m completely uptight.  (I own that Mammoth Cave Kentucky t-shirt with the “Do Bears Shit in the Woods?” pic because I love National Parks and bears.) My husband is tattooed and pierced.  But he doesn’t look like a dipshit, you see.  In fact, when he wants to be, he is one of the most stylish men I know.

I am a believer that fashion is a legit art form.  Just because it’s been bastardized and cheapened over the years doesn’t mean that a tailor is any less an artist…or a mathematical genius, for that matter.

Some people in my life may have Fantasy Football.  I have Fantasy footwear.  They both start picking up steam in August.

The point is, I rarely enter into anything lightly.  My cash is hard earned and scarce.  My time is, too.  So, I will not be purchasing this entire list.  I simply can’t afford it.  I just know that I am incredibly picky about my purchases and likely I won’t be able to find the majority of what I am looking for.  Usually I end up purchasing 5-10 items.

That said, here is the wish list for Fall 2010:

1.  The perfect pair of jeans.

Levi's Slight Curve Straight

You’ll notice that this is a repeat from last year.  Knowing how long it takes to really find a great pair of jeans, I ended up ignoring it.  Honestly, for my proportions, jean shopping can be a singular and all day event.  One I always undertake alone.  Still, I’m looking for straight-leg, darkish wash (no whiskering…why is this so hard?), long enough for heels but no so long a cuff couldn’t take it into flats range. Levis new butt-fit based line intrigues me.  Having very little butt, I will be looking into the “slight curve” design.

2.  A leopard print pencil skirt.

Leopard Print Pencil Skirt

I have found two perfect versions over the past two years and balked because they were online and I couldn’t try them on.  I have suffered non-buyers remorse ever since.  (Although rare, my non-buyers remorse can be intense.  Oh those flat lace-up boots I ignored in 2008.)

3.  A sweater vest.

Argyle Sweater Vest

I actually knitted one this past year.  Before you laugh, you must know it actually came out really well.  Unfortunately it was too small too accomodate my chest.  Off to my little sister it went. I’m actually looking for two versions:  one a solid, button front, and the other a patterned pull over.

4.  A White shirt.

White Oxford Shirt

Something I purchased last year, however, this time I need to invest actual money in a decent to respectable shirt.  Otherwise I will spend the rest of my life ironing.  Yes, folks, when it comes  to button-downs, cheap is not equal.

5.  Black patent Repetto maryjanes.

Repetto Maryjanes

Barring windfall.

6. Brogues.


As per usual, I was a year ahead of myself on this one.  Only now am I seeing versions I dig that aren’t too bulky.

7.  Perfect jewel tone corduroys.


When I say perfect, I mean fit.  Corduroys notoriously fit me terribly, but I won’t give up.  I want thin-wale, pretty cords.  Boot cut.  And longish. I’m thinking emerald green.

8.  Tretorns.


I need new sneaks and these 80’s-y canvas numbers are a bit sleeker than my standard Adidas.  Comfy, too.  And cute with cuffed jeans. I like the navy and white combo.

9. Long-sleeved wrap dress.

Look at this!

I had originally wanted this piece to be black.  Now, I own a long-sleeved black dress, so black is not a requirement.

10.  Leotards and bodysuits.


I never bit the bullet last year.  I already own some, of course, but I didn’t buy them with day-to-day wear in mind.  I want simple with a ballerina neckline and scooped back…maybe.

11. I also need a nice weekender.  Lucky for me, on a flip trip to TJ Maxx…I found this!

Lesportsac Large Weekender

I was beyond jazzed.  It retails for $108.00 and I got it for $43 inc. tax.

12. Navy or glen plaid tropical wool trousers.

Glen Plaid Trousers

13. Chocolately brown sweater. I typically do not wear brown outside of shoes.  I have one pair of pants and one shirt dress in brown.  But, I have three skirts that could benefit from such a sweater.  Unfortunately, seeing as how I’m having difficulty even finding a picture of what I am looking for…this may prove elusive

14. Black dress pants.

15. Wool three season work skirt.

wool pencil skirt


16. Soft, plaid button-down.  I spent years trying to get them OUT of my wardrobe.  Now I’m trying to get them back in.

17. A beautiful going out top.  I may have found it.  LOOK AT THIS.

18.  A cargo jacket.  I wavered on the military trend initially.  But I can’t stop thinking about jackets like this.

cargo jacket

19.  Wellies.  I used to have some, but they developed a hole and truth be told, I felt like an idiot wearing them.  But that doesn’t change my rainy day commutes and how horrible they are if not attired properly.

Toile Wellies

20.  Brown high-heeled boots.  70’s in style.  Cognac in color. Not too high heel.  A smidgen of slouch.

Brown heeled boots

My list is a bit more boyish and rugged than past years.  I like to balance my girliness with some cabin-inspired pieces every once in awhile.

This year, I may include thrift stores in my shopping.  Leg lines and cuts are changing rapidly, so my preferred looks just might be available.  Plus, I’m looking for fairly classic items.  While I didn’t list it here, I think a real US Navy Peacoat could be the perfect touch.


Movie Hero of the Week: Barbara Harris*

Freaky Friday

Barbara Hilarious is more like it.

This woman is her own category of comedy.  Sure there’s a little bit of Goldie Hawn in there but it’s more ethereal.  It’s more womanly.  And there might even be more fake eyelashes.

The first time I experienced the genius of Barbara Harris was in the original Freaky Friday.  As a kid, I suppose I didn’t truly realize how grand this woman was.  I probably believed that they had ACTUALLY switched bodies, too.

You see Barbara Harris is cool.  REALLY cool.

She was one of the first members of Second City.  She married Paul Sills ( I bet he was a real peach, btw).  She has conquered both the stage and film. She’s got a great gravelly belt voice.  And she’s gorgeous.  But the main thing is she is funny.

She’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner.

The movie that solidified her as one of my favorite actresses was Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot.

Family Plot

I’ve talked about Family Plot before.  Edith Head did 70’s fashion mercifully the way it should have always been done.  I.e. natural fibers and precise fit.  Ah well.  I digress.

Harris takes the maiden-in-distress Hitchcock role and turns it on it’s head.  She is groovy, funny and indispensable.  I want to show you her fake fortune-teller scene.  Unfortunately I can’t find it, so check out this runaway car scene.  Ms. Harris frantically tries to protect herself with Bruce Dern’s tie.:

The lesson I take from Barbara Harris is to know when to be graceful and when to go ass up.  Her humor isn’t in the fall, but in the recovery.

Finally, here is a great 2002 interview with her, with an excellent jab at Karen Black’s schmacting.

Give Barbara Harris a whirl.  She’s Chicago-bred and no bullshit.  And fabulous.

*What is a movie hero? An un or under-sung member of the film making community who deserves more of the spotlight. And yet lack of such a spotlight often adds to their charm.

Holy Matrimony

(Musical Project post forthcoming…I’m just moving at a leisurely pace.)

Note:  I do not believe we have any obligation, as humans, to pair up.  I believe that some people are genuinely happy being single.

Note:  I believe very much that any adult, gay, straight, transsexual, bisexual, etc. should have the legal right to marry whomever they choose.  So, forthwith, when I refer to marriage in the following, what I am referring to is a couple who has had a ceremony (legal or not) to formally declare themselves in love and together.  While we continue to fight for equal rights, I want to acknowledge that no law or legal document can dictate who we love and how committed we are to those we love, and certainly nothing I say in the following paragraphs is limited to those within the scope of current antiquated statutes.

When one attends a certain amount of weddings in a short time period, she finds it difficult not to mull the concept of marriage and all it entails.  I have just returned from my third wedding of the year, and am about to embark upon a trip to Cleveland where I will take in another, and then off to Columbus go the Morgans to attend yet another.  We’ve had to decline a few more.  And we are awaiting invitations to one after that.  To say that 2010 has been very much about havin’ and holdin’ is an understatement to say the least.

Let this post not be read with snarkiness.  Each of these unique ceremonies have been and, I have no doubt, will continue to be overwhelmingly joyous occasions.  It’s just natural that I sit here (wed for 4 years, 1 month, and 9 days) and reflect.

I think about marriage a lot.  Is it relevant?  Is it necessary?  Is mine like yours?  Is yours like mine? Why are there so many divorces?  Does it even matter?

Before you get married, you only know of marriage what you have seen.  And you have only seen other people’s marriages.  And then, of course, there are the artistic forms of marriage we see in movies, books, music and art.  But really, these range from simple reflections of marriage to complete fictional representations.  Marriage is the combination of two unique people.  And unique it will therefore be, and only truly experienced by the two people in it.  Marriage is nothing like I thought it would be, and that, my friends, is a really good thing.

It’s not that I thought it would be bad.  It’s that I thought it wouldn’t be anything.  I thought it wouldn’t be different.  But it is.  You are treated as part of a married couple by people from the outside.  And from within, you share a level of intimacy that is only, I think, experienced once you are married.  And if it’s right, it gets better.  And better.  I think the ceremony of the wedding is important, too.  Ritual is important.  Ritual separates what is special from what is mundane.  The funny thing is that in a way, marriage makes the mundane special.

I’ve talked here before about my decision to change my name.  My Mom had argued that when you change your name, you are becoming a part of a team, in a sense.  And she is right.  Knowing it isn’t just you facing the world alone is a powerfully calming feeling. It’s easy to think about marriage in the terms of possession: mine, his, hers, ours.  He’s mine.  She’s mine.  But that is flawed, and inaccurate.  I am still so very much me.  And I have to live my life.  And he has to live his.  We can’t live them for each other, nor does it really matter to whom things belong.

The last wedding I attended was my sister-in-law’s.  I was her maid of honor, and my husband was a groomsmen.  The combination of being sibling and sibling-in-law while also being in the wedding party was a pretty up and close and personal look into another couple’s life as I’ve ever been, minus perhaps my parents.  I can say without hesitation that knowing these two are together fills me with joy.  Honestly, they are a great couple.  The weekend was perfect.  Many happy tears were shed along with some sad ones, as we left our loved ones behind.

I know we are lucky.  We have two families that have really combined in the most wonderful way.  I know that this is not often the case.  But even if it weren’t, we would still be a team.

He makes my life easier.  And I make his easier.  And we never get tired of each other.  Sure we tiff.  I have a firey personality.  I’m short-tempered and easily irritated.  I get snippy sometimes.  I know it.  I’m not proud of it, but there it is.  I’m human.  But lucky for us, marriage is human, too.  I suppose some might say it really isn’t.  It’s divine.  Maybe.