Barely Boho-ho

Apparently the love child of my two more staid style personas will not be denied: the Persnickety Bohemian wants her time in the sun.

Which is annoying and ridiculous because I’m not spending my summer lounging around a private cabana with ocean breezes ruffling my silken garb, nor am I wandering around an exotic marketplace picking up local jewelry and textiles.

I’m either working, or being provincial.

But the libertine heart wants what the libertine heart wants, which is how I’ve ended up wearing an increasing number of outfits which are (should one require a label) barely boho. There’s just something about the unholy mix of super-tailored items with their opposite that appeals to me right now. Greatly appeals.

After 3 months of steady wear, however, I wish I could either commit to dragging my kind of free kind of wow, Charlie sheer silk blouse in for a little tailoring, or learn to embrace its über-waftiness and semi-boxiness.

Undertailored (those arms!) Fairie in the Backyard top meets overtailored mullet shorts (chopped from twice-tailored work pants)

Normally I wouldn’t even BE wavering; as one with an H/Rectangle build and some proportional issues I’ve come to see boxy as villainous.

But o the damn shirt and its siren call! First, a gathered waist and curved hem created a hint of a peplum, and I’m a sucker for a peplum. Then, its transparency turned the copious fabric less boxylicious in most lights. So I rationalized buying it and am now rationalizing leaving it as-is.

[Since the dark grey/purple/rose color scheme fit in with the rest of my clothing, and the print seemed to meet my interpretation of stylist Bridgette Raes’ guidelines, I can’t say it was terribly difficult for the few ounces of silk to weasel their way into my closet.]

My Persnickety Bohemian side doesn’t like the arms in need of tailoring or the creases…but luckily when it come to my garden I’m more of a wild woman

Now given the state of my yard—which is teetering somewhere between “lush” and “blowsy”—I don’t know why I’m obsessing about the blouse’s semi-sloppiness. I guess it’s just a case of “Get your Persnickety out of my Bohemian!” “No, you get YOUR Bohemian out of MY Persnickety!”

Mid-July in the Vix Household backyard: going for lush but heading for blowsy and unkempt

Thank god the hat I usually slap on when I’m running around in the sun is not only a less fraught item, but an item that demonstrates that my legs are not as white as they could be.

Testing camera’s white balance with legs and hat…and trying to embrace a loosey-goosey top fit from all angles

I know my barely boho ensembles are neither fish nor fowl, truly I do. Yet I can’t seem to stop wearing them for work and play. They feel…just indulgent and devil-may-care enough.

Custom creatures: lightweight purple wool sheath plus Missoni-by-the-yard cardiwrap

Especially since I can’t bring myself to pair the scoopneck sheath I had made out of a beautifully lightweight, medium purple wool with a traditional blazer or cardigan. Way too Barbara Bush for me and at odds with my workplace environment, I’m afraid.

My favorite cardiwrap tied Daisy Duke style, though?

L, Custom lightweight purple wool sheath and Missoni-by-the-yard cardiwrap. R, rather prissy taupe patent peeptoes and beloved/aging pale pink micronet stockings

Why I think I hear Bohemian Rhapsody playing softly in the background….

Don’t miss this Barely Boho bonus shot, which documents how I accidentally matched my T and ancient silk maxidress-worn-as-skirt to the porta-potties at an outdoor festival!

Ultimate PMS Skirt

When she’s not at her day job, my pal Ms Eileen* is doing remarkably well keeping her camera focused on people/places/things. Between photography classes, wanderings, and a few paid portrait sessions she continues to develop her skills at an amazing rate…a rate that actually manages to outpace that of her photography-related purchases!

While I’ve been keeping up with the results of her studies, there’s nothing like seeing her in action. And this weekend I was fortunate enough to experience just that as she worked with a client who’s gearing up to go back on the job market.

BETTER YOU THAN ME, DEAR CLIENT

During the shoot, Eileen did all the hard work; I, on the other hand, swanned around making color-related suggestions and holding up things like an AWESOMELY LARGE diffuser so that light would bounce around and make our subject look all dewy-skinned and rested.

Not that said client and her camera-ready smile needed much help, but don’t we all have enough “photojournalistic” snapshots with unflattering shadows and glares to last a lifetime? Give me reality-plus anytime.

[Through reverse-side and cover design hocus-pocus, this diffuser even permits metallic colors to reflect back on the subject; you better believe I asked to see how the gold interacted with our captive’s lusciously warm skin tones. Answer: Beautifully.]

As a reward for stalwart holding of objects and so forth, Ms Eileen humored my request to capture the true glory of a piece I had created back in December: my Ultimate PMS Skirt.

Having worn ourselves and the client out with a loooong working session, we went old-school: dash down a side street with just a camera, grab 10 minutes of shots, and hit the road.

The result? The skirt was put through its PMS paces and came out a winner—and even held its own against my growing ever-more-ancient Awww Ya Big Lug Boots.

Custom Clothing for the Cranky: Key Benefits of My Ultimate PMS Skirt

1. Stretch fabric and slight A-line design allow one to blow off steam by running, jumping, and kicking 

2. Elastic waist accommodates water retention and/or hormonally-influenced eating

Neither rain nor...rain...can keep my Utimate PMS Skirt from displaying its bright, non-binding ways

Putting my Utimate PMS Skirt through its paces

3. Cheery color + mild Eurotrash sheen boosts mood OR fools others into thinking one is in a good mood so that they venture close enough to hear vent/sob of the moment

4. Color + pattern are bold enough to justify pairing with no-thought-needed, simple black or white pieces reminiscent of classic Pink Panther looks

Though it doesn’t give me the longest, leanest line, I generally pair my skirt with black or white for that classic Pink Panther look

5. Deconstructed hem irritates Mr Vix, my talented tailor/drycleaner, and any other perfectionists I encounter, thus satisfying my latent oppositional defiant disorder tendencies

My Ultimate PMS Skirt: more-or-less front and back + deconstructed hem

I had actually asked the Mellow Glamazon to whip up the skirt—born of last summer’s Missoni fabric by the yard haul plus a lining of sturdy-weight black jersey—for a reason: I wanted to indulge my inner Persnickety Bohemian (love child of my Minimalist Magpie and Contrarian Classicist style personas) when I went to Southern California this winter.

[And boy, did my barely boho side adore Venice Beach!]

Since the skirt entered my closet 5 months ago, I’ve been wearing it perhaps-overly-much with my multitude of VaderWear tops, sweaters, and blazers. Though I generally stick to monochromatic or tonal color combinations—the better to elongate my short legged/long torso’d self—what can I say: sometimes I like to go wild with a choppy, high-contrast look.

YO, ANYONE GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

Because if so, just give me a moment to slip into something more comfortable….

* I must wish the talented Ms Eileen a very Happy 40th Birthday week! May your year be filled with wonderful clients and fabulous camera accessories.

Dressing for my drycleaner

Discussions around forces that influence the average Western woman’s wardrobe generally include peers, parents, significant others, media, workplace rules (explicit and ouija-boardesque), teenage children, and lifestyle.

While not immune to choosing—or failing to choose—items based on various nefarious and/or encouraging messages, there’s really only one person in my life from whom I seem to crave textile-oriented approval: my favorite tailor/drycleaner. Because the Dapper Drycleaner does more than just run a cleaning emporium and perform minor alterations and repair: he makes suits from scratch.

[Not mine, alas, not mine. Which doesn’t stop me from staring balefully at fabric bolts, thumbing through his books of Italian fabric samples, and daydreaming about his ~ $2K creations whenever I stop by for alterations.]

So when I roll in with my cleaning and DD is there in his exquisitely-fitted suit and stylish tie to assist me, I wait. And wonder. And sometimes get rewarded with a chat that centers on what he thinks of my various (dirty, alas) garments.

So far, he’s partial to three of my winter mainstays:

These three wardrobe mainstays have received my Dapper Drycleaner's seal of approval

Though admittedly he has a love/hate relationship with the tweed looks-vaguely-vintage-but-is-from-2004 jacket.

Tweed, slightly deconstructed (much to the Dapper Drycleaner's regret)

The jacket's plethora of (thankfully sturdy) seaming helps create curves on me

While our conversations are always short, I enjoy seeing what he looks at first. Or again.

DD: Impressive construction. I like the red. Unusual.Though this…[makes moue of distaste at deliberately deconstructed edges].You buy it in town?

Me: “Yes, several [5!] years ago at a consignment shop.”

DD: “How much?”

Me: “$200.”

DD: “Good price. VERY good.”

Awwww, I love the upside of my Contrarian Classicist style persona: favorite items end up with a delightfully low cost-per-wear!

Naturally, the thing he HATES about the tweed—the deliberately frayed, oh-remember-when-that-was-popular detailing—is what I love most. [Well, aside from the lining.] And while it may be booooooring, the edges and the curve-creating structure are why I always pair this jacket with dark solids + heeled boots that have a little attitude.

How could anything (else) retro or ladylike do it justice?

L, it's an inside job; R, I like to pair my vaguely vintage pieces with modern/classic mates

Ignore my waxy, mega-ghostly-looking skin in that one B&W shot, because I have an urgent question: Should I admit that for 5 years I've mostly worn this jacket with a) a column of black or b) a column of brown?

After several years as his customer I’ve figured out that The Dapper Drycleaner, while a master tailor who adores structure, is also a sucker for the softer side of style.

THAT MAKES TWO OF US, DD

He especially likes my ridiculously long flounced-hem wool skirt, even though he and I both know it makes me look like I’m standing in a hole when I’m not in motion. Good thing I’m in motion a fair amount of the time when I wear it—and since it’s so damn fun to sweep around in, perhaps I’m in motion even MORE than usual.

Apparently the reward for wearing too-long skirts and bad photography is that one gets to head for the light

DD: This is quality wool. Drapes well for its weight. Hard to find.”

Me: “It’s made by a local shop and the owner always makes her things out of beautiful fabrics.

DD: “A long skirt for you, yes? Mostly I hem at your knee.”

Me: “Yes, way too long. I love it, but I’ve learned to only wear it with dark boots.”

DD: [turning it inside out] “Strong technique. Clean.”

Me: “I’ve had it for years and it’s worn really, really well.”

DD: “If you get tired of long and want short, come to me—don’t throw it out.”

These days, I like pairing the skirt with deep scoop necks. Bonus points for waywardly draping underlayers in blobby patterns—especially ones purchased for job interviews—since they ALMOST make my wayward hair look intentional.

I tell myself that the silk animal print top + sheer merino scoopneck sweater add up to some retro glamor when paired together...so I figure why NOT toss them on with a skirt of vintage-y length?

I must say that while I have no way of proving it, I ALSO think DD and I are united on preferring clothes that mix one from Column A and one from Column B.

Give us structured AND stupendously womanly, and we’re in heaven:

When a (c. 2005, deep black in real life) jacket looks this awesome on the hanger, odds are good it will do something even more amazing on a live person

DD: Nice jacket. Very feminine. Vintage, yes?”

Me: “No, I got it on sale years ago, but it was from the brand’s current line.”

DD: “You sure? Beautiful seaming. Heavy.”

Me: “Yes I’m sure! But I agree it has a vintage look. Check out how the fabric acts more like a wool knit.”

DD: “Huh! I like this. Wise choice for your shape, too.”

Given my mad photography skillz, it’s lucky I snapped the front when I bought the yes-brand-new jacket in 2005. While my little molded friend shows how the jacket adapts to an Hourglass’ ins-and-outs, the INSANE amount of seaming means even an H/Rectangle such as myself ends up with a few curves.

L, the jacket when new (2005); R, still helping to create some curves on me

Unlike my truth-telling, unforgiving tweed jacket, this favorite topper is 98% wool and 2% beautiful, glorious lycra. And as if the bit of stretch weren’t enough, my 5’4 self really appreciates the vertical seams here there and yes, everywhere. So much so that I have lots of legwear (some more ancient and held together with clear nail polish than others) with which I like to echo said lines:

I often echo the vertical seaming on the jacket's body + sleeves with linear legwear

There’s no doubt that the chance of getting a positive review from The Dapper Drycleaner makes it slightly less tedious to drag my accumulated flotsam and jetsam in for care. Now if only my washing machine would weigh in on my socks and underwear, maybe my laundry pile would stay manageable….

Zig Meets Zag Top

Having spent the last few weeks being That Annoying Person Who Comes to Work With Allergies (That Turn Out to Be a Cold) and That Person Who Does Little on the Weekends Except Will Herself to Recover, I was so happy to be at 85% capacity this week.

[At 84% and below I sleep to the very very last second and rely on my 2 Minute Closet (“pull on yer drawers/head for the doors”) to turn me from zombie to yes, ready to do my best for the cause, boss! employee. From the neck down, anyway.]

Since I was feeling gosh darn zippy this week I decided to debut my new $40 sale purchase, a top made from yet more Missoni fabric-by-the-yard. An item whose pattern embodies pure-d ENERGY and plays to my Persnickety Bohemian side. A rather impractical piece that inspired Mr Vix to (uncharacteristically) make styling suggestions that (characteristically) would have been illegal in at least 46 of our nation’s states and possibly some of its territories to boot.

While I truly have been wearing lots and lots of color this winter, I certainly had no trouble finding things in my closet to pair with the newcomer.

But that’s a feature not a bug, right?

Snag-ability aside, the quite open weave of the Zig Meets Zag Top isn't a problem per se...

...as I have enough layering camisoles, Ts, and tanks to sink a ship/make it work appropriate

In fact I enjoyed wearing my new find so much that I had to seriously talk myself out of subjecting my coworkers to it for the rest of the week.

Luckily, I knew Mr Vix and I had plans to get together with some friends at one of our favorite neighborhood teeth in/shoes on restaurants.

YEA HURRAH AMEN A GREAT EXCUSE TO WEAR IT AGAIN

Since our little combo-platter group was for once celebrating multiple pieces of good news, I asked Mr Vix to step away from the fleece in honor of the occasion. He humored me, and then he humored me again by taking a few (emphasis on few, alas) photos of my zigzag top + if Barry White were a skirt pairing.

I also cop to owning plenty of lower-necked layering items for rare nights-on-the-town (in, say, a matte satin rouched pencil skirt)...though when Mr Vix is one's photographer the crookedness of said layering item goes unvoiced

The skirt that seemed like a natural partner for the top is matte. It’s black. It’s stretch satin with front and back rouching that wraps one like a tamale. And one rainy day in February ’09, The Gilded Lily EXHORTED me to buy it for my 40th birthday trip.

So I did. And even though wearing it to live my ho-de-hum life in my casual city seems a little much at times, I continue to enjoy dusting it off when I get the urge to glam it up a little.

I mean hell: Lily’s nearly 70 and running around in below-the-shoulder feather earrings. No matter how va-va-voom it seems to me, a satin pencil skirt is hardly stylistically novel or transgressive. Besides, it does what it can to turn my straight-hipped Rectangle/H shape into an hourglass, and I for one appreciate both the effort and the novelty.

As I call this my tamale skirt (for reasons quite obvious) it's fitting these shots were nabbed in the kitchen---although the lighting was so bad I gave up trying to color balance things

Since I figured satin was enough of a statement for the evening, I tossed on what I wore with the skirt on the aforementioned trip: my freshly rehabbed Awww Ya Big Lug Boots. [Plus a barrette that I blame on my documented shell fixation, but is helping me from looking über-Michael Jackson as my hair grows out.]

Of course I paired stretch satin with my rehabbed Awww Ya Big Lug Boots---it's winter, isn't it?---though the shell barrette I shoved in my growing-out hair is of more recent origin

As for dinner? Delicious, especially after having dulled taste buds for a few weeks.

But more importantly, a mix of giddy and sobering as we all caught up on lifted burdens, worrisome family news, and future hopes. As my friend shared his parents’ long-ago wedding photos—she in her corsaged suit, he dapper beyond belief—it was somewhat unsettling to think about all the changes the bride and groom went on to absorb in their decades together.

Which, since he and I are both a mite prone to the dramatic, led us to think about all the shifts we’ve weathered/observed in the nearly 20 years we’ve been friends.

As we squinted at faded snapshots of a donated wedding cake bedecked in marzipan swans and talked about tough decisions to come, I was suddenly, ridiculously comforted to be wearing a top that referenced repeated highs and lows. I have nothing against an unmarked solid, of course, and my closet will attest to that. But there are times when the last thing one wants to see is a Dinesen-esque blank page staring back at one; especially as one ages, there are moments when a statement that’s unable to be read yet full of potential meaning is only too likely to house a story no one can bear to hear.

Marine Drive

Previously, I discussed in spine-tingling detail how I decided to add more color to my closet by allocating a chunk of my fall/winter budget to cool-toned blues and greens. And how I was inclined to shamelessly wear them together.

Last spring I documented a few reasons why blue + green should always be seen. So when Mr Vix and I went for a drive a couple of weekends ago, it seemed like a great excuse to match the very welcome blue sky…plus some leafy goodness.

Now yes: 2005 called and it wants its short-over-long layered look back. But hey, can’t I call it “retro”? Or at least say I am wearing it ironically?

After all, my tongue’s already firmly in cheek from wearing this vaguely nautical cardigan. Though the closest I get to sailing is eating Chips Ahoy, the stripey sweater had me at “perfect colorblocking for those with Rectangle/H shapes.”

But I’m dead serious when I say I’m thrilled with my new deep green pencil skirt—so much so that I’ve been breaking out old and new prints and solids to wear with it.

Including a top that called to me despite my ambivalence about:

  • its scale
  • its rather Grandma’s-Wamsutta-bedspread print
  • the way “tobacco” and “sunshine” defile its otherwise cucumber-cool shades

Having recently re-reviewed Brigette Raes’ suggestions on how to pick a print on behalf of my pal Fizz, I’m pretty sure I look like I’m being eaten alive by my own clothing.

Though its wayward shapes DO match my hair.

I’m thinking the dolman-sleeved 70s silhouette + silk jersey fabric flipped me into Persnickety Bohemian mode. Whatever the reason, I was in loooove the second I saw it, but I resisted for weeks before committing.

Others were not as taken with its charms.

Where did THAT come from?” asked a saucer-eyed Mr Vix.

Me: “Whaaaat?! This is one of my core pieces for fall. I know it’s a little sofa-y, but I think it’s pretty.”

Mr Vix: [Amish farmer silence]

My printed glory and I flounced off to the guest bedroom to read and wait for him to come to his senses. He claims he stopped by to ask what I was doing for dinner, but didn’t see me on the bed.

[Which reminds me: I still miss the guest room’s former deep blue paint. Problem was, it only looked good for 2-3 summertime months. After a few years I ceded that Northern light + gloomy climate + big tree = me on a ladder with a bucket of more-muted-without-the-flash caramel.]

Returning (mostly) to my comfort zone of solids, I decided to match up a denim pencil skirt with a deep blue-green cardigan, another of my new fall pieces. While I usually avoid hosting a hootenanny in my bosom zone, the neckline’s deep V and the ability to break up my torso with a strong inverted V at the bottom were compelling. Which made it easy to turn a blind eye to having a 3-D chest.

Between the floral print and the ruffled sweater, some might say my blind eye is getting a lot of exercise this fall.

Anyway: Thinking about my aggressively warm-toned room reminds me that Pantone may want my butt in Golden Glow this season, but I’m having none of it. Bad enough that despite my fear of yellow walls, I’ve given up and put temporary and more permanent golden shades on the vertical surfaces around here.

But on me? I draw the line. Let others dabble in the sunlight shades; I’m sticking to a different, algae-hued story.