Summer’s Remains: Thursday

I promised a better mood today, and a better mood I shall deliver! A practically ecstatic mood, actually, as I am road tripping today! I’m off on a last-of-summer fling to Nashville to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

The birthday celebration will be a progressive feast, with Southern charm and fine dining and vintage style. Therefore, I have chosen a style that suits me best: vintage glam. Red lips, fake eyelashes, crinoline under my skirt.

Birthday Bash

This is almost exactly what I will be wearing, with a few exceptions. I’ll probably wear a little more jewelry. My shoes are more awesome than this, as they also have a Sailor Jerry-style design on the wedge. My bag is less flashy than this, but it’s real ’40’s vintage patent leather, with a bakelite handle.

Party time!


Kimono Three Ways

I obsess.

I find something I like and I want to listen to it, read it, or watch it over and over again. Right now I’m obsessed with these things:

Fun. Some Nights

Electric Guest This Head I Hold

Green Wing on Netflix

and Tamsin Greig (as Caroline Tod) in particular.

And right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Girls on HBO. I am not sure I actually LIKE any of the characters, but I find it compelling. So I have to watch.

A lot has been said about the fashion (or lack thereof) on Girls. (Check out Vulture’s Girls paper dolls!) I am kind of digging Jessa’s personal style, which tends to the Boho. I’m all about Boho this summer–I think it’s the maxi dresses that bring it out in me. In particular, Jessa’s kimono in the park outfit has stuck out. I wouldn’t ever wear a bathrobe out in public (which is essentially what she has going on–robe, tank top, Uggs), but I love the idea of a kimono, a topknot, and dark red lipstick.

She uses her employer’s lipstick without her permission, which seems so audacious and even upsetting, which is so part of her character. Bold lip, bold personality.

I came up with a “kimono 3 ways” set. An all-out costume-y kimono, a bathrobe-style kimono (like Jessa’s), and a wearable kimono-style dress (that you could even put a tank top under). Dangly chain earrings, hair up, MAC Russian Red lips, and you’re doing a passable Boho Jessa impression.

Kimono 3 Ways

My own personal bit of Boho today? (Aside from my maxi dress…) My vintage 1976 Egyptian scarab reproduction ring. It was sold at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the first tour of King Tut’s tomb in the USA. And it swivels. Awesomeness.

So…Boho? Kimono? Or just plain no? Also, any obsessions right now that you want to share?

Four Days Until Mad Men!

Sorry I missed yesterday! I was up grading essays until midnight. Life got in the way of blogging about Mad Men. I know, my priorities are all out of whack.

It’s time to have a Mad Men Party! Or at least Mad Men cocktails. I think I need to have a fully stocked bar cart to really do Mad Men justice. Because to be a Mad Man means to have a social life that won’t stop. Dinner dates with different women every night. Cocktails. Steaks. Cigarettes and heartache.

Maybe some chopsticks and sake.

Mad Men at Cocktail Hour

As we move further into the 60’s, the fashions are set to get wilder, as this sneak preview from Season 5 shows:

Oh, my mercy. Pete, your jacket is making my eyes bleed. I included a couple of flowy shifts to go with that style.

You need some major bling to pull of Mad Men cocktail style. Keep the necklaces short and bold, and the rings HUGE. And multiple strands of pearls, of course. I love these champagne colored faux pearls.

Mad Men Style Jewelry

Today’s little Mad Men Bonus? The official AMC Mad Men Cocktail Guide! Make me a Pink Squirrel, darling!

Must Watch, Must Dress: White Christmas

Classic movies are a major part of the holiday season for me. It is not truly Christmas until I have watched the movie White Christmas. I love the songs, the humor, the romance, and the holiday spirit. But, being me, I love the clothes! Realistically, the clothing cannot be worn today. It’s all wide circle skirts and totally coordinated outfits. You would have to be fully immersed in a retro look to pull it off. But I figured I could take some of the costuming ideas from the movie, and see if I could capture some of the spirit of Edith Head’s originals. (Love me some Edith Head!)

So, without further ado: five looks inspired by White Christmas!

The Scene: Judy dances to Abraham

White Christmas Inspiration 2

Bow dress, $45
Poetic Licence lace up boots, $89
Poetic Licence lace up boots, $89

Vera Ellen, who played Judy, was a major powerhouse of a dancer but not much of a singer. Her dancing talents were spotlighted, as were her dancer legs. This short little turtleneck dress is the jumping-off point for this dress. A yellow swing day dress is paired with yellow shoes with a hint of houndstooth. The black from the dress is added in with the black and white houndstooth bracelet. I like that Vera Ellen wears yellow a couple of times; it’s not just a summer color, but also good for winter.

The Scene: Betty and Judy join Bob and Phil to perform Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army.

White Christmas Inspiration 5

Dorothy Perkins sheer top, $37
Dorothy Perkins navy blue pants, $17
TopShop military fashion, £35
ALDO high heels, $40
Armani Exchange chain necklace, $28
Falling Whistles Color Brushed Silver Whistle Necklace, $44

Military blues and greys dominate in this outfit. The girls don’t really wear pants in this movie, but the modern woman wears pants all the time. So to translate this look from uniform to everyday wear, I’m just taking hints of uniform, like a cropped military-style jacket and buttoned boots. To feminize the look, a sheer top is put under the jacket (wear a cami under it, please!) with a high neck that can flow out, untucked, below the jacket. Layer dog tag style necklaces and a very special necklace from Falling Whistles so you can look like you’re ready for war while you advocate for peace.

The Scene: Judy convinces Phil to get engaged.

White Christmas Inspiration 4

Form fitting dress, $48
Sheer top, £4.99
Dirty Laundry synthetic leather shoes, $40
Franco sarto shoes, $45
Dorothy Perkins facets jewelry, $15

Houndstooth shows up again! Before, I chose it because of the shoes that matched the dress. This time, it comes into full view with Judy’s swing skirt. Instead of the skirt/turtleneck/cardigan combination (I feel geriatric just typing that!), I chose a sassy houndstooth dress with a great cowl neck detail. A cropped cardigan with a low v-neck can be worn without obscuring the detail of the dress’s neck. Instead of a red belt, we update with a pair of red shoes. I couldn’t choose between a red flat and a red pump, so I included both! A chunky statement ring in black finishes the look.

The Scene: Betty sings Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me at the Carousel Club.

White Christmas Inspiration 3

Mango square neckline dress, £70
Embellished shoes, $100
Stretch jewelry, $34
1928 vintage style jewelry, $45
Hobbs satin glove, £22

This is my favorite look of the whole movie. For a simple black dress, it is a show stopper, accenting Rosemary Clooney’s amazing hourglass curves. The scalloped detail on the straps and the back are unparalleled, and the addition of a gigantic rhinestone embellishment make the back of this mermaid dress even more interesting than the (flawless) front. Honestly, it’s hard to find something this amazing on a budget. A similar style is available in this satin mermaid dress. Instead of the detailed strap, there is a shoulder bow. You could put a rhinestone brooch (in a snowflake design, but of course) on the bow or on the back. To make this dress major, I’ve added a pair of opera gloves in black (instead of the sequined version Rosemary Clooney wore) with a rhinestone cuff over top. And the shoe must be glitzy, so each time the skirt kicks up, the shine can be seen.

The Scene: Judy dances to Choreography

White Christmas Inspiration 1

Dorothy Perkins pink dress, $29
Aryn K jacket, $50
Anne Michelle platform shoes, $38
Shoes, $48
Cuteberry rhinestone jewelry, $38
Echo glove, $24

From the tip of her feathered hat to the toes of her d’Orsay shoes, Vera Ellen is a symphony in hot pink. It’s not very modern to match every detail of your outfit like this, but I decided to do a very matchy-matchy look. This is an outdoor look, with a ruffled wool jacket over a matching skater dress with matching smartphone compatible gloves. Instead of diamond earrings and bracelets, the look is brought more down-to-earth with a rhinestone pendant. The shoes are thoroughly modern; I’ve included a blue and pink color block shoe or (my favorite) a newsprint pump, so things don’t match exactly.

If you haven’t this holiday season, grab a copy of White Christmas to revel in the gloriousness of all the clothing with me.

Styling a Vintage Fur Stole

Actual conversation from my classroom this morning:

Me: “Get out a piece of paper, youngsters!”

Student: “Stop giving us work to do! YOU’RE KILLING TREES!”

Me: “Actually, I’m supporting the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest. GET OUT A PIECE OF PAPER NOW.”

So, it’s all about perspective. And my perspective for several years has been that I’m okay with wearing fur–as long as it’s vintage. I won’t support the fur industry; instead I will recycle. And besides, I’m a vegetarian, so I think I get a pass. I have a couple of fur collars, and I’m always on the lookout for a piece in good shape in antique malls and vintage shops.

My friend Mindy broke through my posting block last night by asking for a little help with her vintage styling dilemma. She owns this fabulous vintage fur stole.

She’s sassy, sexy, and doesn’t want to go full vintage–she is looking for vintage with a modern twist. I say if you’re confident enough to wear a full fur stole, then go all out–embrace the over-the-topness of it all. Look for bright colors, statement shapes, and details. I figured out a few ways to style a vintage stole.

First, a preppy neutral look with some leather edge. The leather piping on this skirt is fantastic, and makes this skirt not too sweet. The buckles and the plaid also add a little edge. General rule to update vintage–keep it slim-fitting. Otherwise (especially with fur) the shapes can be overwhelming. So I chose a longer cardigan with a close-to-the-body fit.

Prep--Styling a vintage fur stole

Cotton sweater, $30
Oasis pleated skirt, $27
Gap, $20
Diba brown boots, $50
Armani Exchange chain necklace, $38

Next, a classic vintage shape in a shift dress, with fantastic colors and major shoes. The shoes! They are freaking ridiculous! There is nothing vintage about these shoes, which helps balance the vintage fur. And of course, I couldn’t make up my mind, so I chose more than one.

Shift Dresses and Extravagant shoes--styling a vintage fur stole

Evening party dress, $45
Shift dress, $50
Dorothy Perkins shift dress, £20
Oasis cut out dress, $35
Dorothy Perkins shift dress, £30
Forever21 platform wedge heels, $28
Poetic Licence platform high heels, $50
Privileged yellow shoes, $32
Aldo shoes, $60
2 Lips Too platform high heels, $49

Speaking of embracing all things over-the-top, how about to bright and amazing maxi dress? Maybe even one with a pattern? I’m in love with these fall/winter maxis.

Maxi--Ideas for a Vintage Fur Stole

Oasis blue dress, $35
Dorothy Perkins paisley print dress, £25
Dorothy Perkins keyhole back dress, £22
madly deeply yours maxi dress in green, $47

Last but not least, a fantastic look with a cropped pant. Again, fur requires a certain level of formality in the clothing you wear with it. So these pants have a fabulous sheen to them. And then, what the heck? Why not add a sequined tank? And top it off with a dark coral color with a big statement necklace, a fantastic wedge, and a big old ring. Because in my world, apparently there is no such thing as too much.

Caliente--Styling a fur stole

Old Navy sequin tank top, $40
ASOS cuffed pants, $58
ASOS cuffed pants, $58
*Sole Boutique high heels, $45
Red coral necklace, $50
Oasis enamel ring, $12

Got any other ideas for Mindy on styling her vintage fur?

Crazy for Chinoiserie

Today was an exciting day.  In addition to everything else I do at work, in the spring I direct and produce a full-length play.  It took me forever to choose which play we were going to do this year, because I really wanted to do a drama.  But I finally picked a play called The Last Horizon.  Set during World War II, three British people evacuating from China get hijacked in a plane that crashes in the Himalayas, where they are rescued and taken to Shangri-la, but they can’t seem to leave.  So, today the scripts arrived!  I spent most of the day on Pinterest making a board for set design ideas.  And it reminded me that I absolutely LOVE Chinoiserie.


Chinoiserie is the adorable baby you get when French style and Chinese style make zee sweet love.  It uses the lacquer and porcelain and little birdies of China, and all the embellishment and color of France.  It can be subtle, or it can be loud.


Of course, I personally think it’s best done LOUD.  The tiny birds and trees can get lost in a room or look twee if used sparingly.  But you cover the entire room in Chinoiserie wallpaper–MAGIC.  I always think it’s like living inside of a jewelry box, and I want it!

The best thing to me is the eye-popping color.  Especially a bright color with a shiny lacquer finish!  Perfect for wood furniture.  Also, it seems like something that would be a good idea for rehabbing an old piece of furniture.  Real lacquer takes some steps, but spray paint or a one-step lacquer can simulate the effect for less effort.


Also, even though bird  motifs are SO OVER, how adorable would a pagoda-style birdcage be?


If you love the Chinoiserie, a great resource is Chinoiserie Chic.  So many great pictures and ideas!

Style Icon: Dita Von Teese

She may be best known for appearing without clothes (or with very few), but this is one woman who can wear a dress like nobody’s business.  She’s been styling in retro clothes and makeup for years, long before the show Mad Men made the bombshell look popular again.  She is A-MA-ZING.  I’ve been a fan of hers for years.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s everything I’ve been discouraged from being (sexual, risqué, flashy), or because she is everything I want to be (ladylike, delicate, flashy).  Not everyone can go out in full Dita Von Teese gear, but I think there are a few take-aways from this style icon.

1.  Red Lips

This is probably going to be my most overused beauty tip of the season, but this winter–RED LIPS.  DO IT.  Look at how gorgeous and classic Dita looks with a red lip.  Bombshells have always gone for red lips, but then there are the Paris Hiltons of the world, urging lip gloss on the poor women of America.  I have never been a great fan of lip gloss (mostly because my hair always seems to get stuck in it, and it’s gone in a flash).  But a bold red lip?  It is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.  Yes, you will get noticed.  Stand up straight and get used to it.  And no using the excuse that you don’t look good in red lipstick.  There’s a red for everyone.  My red is MAC Red, with MAC cherry liner.  (That’s my other tip–lipliner with red lipstick.  Because it can bleed.)  I have blue undertones to my skin, so it wouldn’t work for everyone.  I also use Angel Red by Clinique, which is a sheer red.  Try out some reds and see what works for you.

2.  Have (or Fake) a Waist.

Dita has a ridiculously small waist.  I saw an interview where she was asked if her waist is equal to the circumference of a football.  Her reply was “I’ve never picked up a football, so I wouldn’t know.”  Needless to say, you could probably encircle her waist with two hands.  And then she puts a corset on and it gets absolutely insane.

I don’t naturally have an impressive waist.  But I’ve found ways to fake it.  Full skirts, sash waistbands, and empire waists are my tricks.  Think hourglass when you try on clothes, and try to enhance whatever area of your torso is the smallest.  And remember, you can’t fake a waist in jeggings.  (Ewwww.)

3. Vivid Color

Life has too much black and blah sometimes.  Let me reference another one of my obsessions, Project Runway.  I was very depressed that Gretchen Jones won.  Her colors depress me.  Too much beige and burgundy in her palette.  Mondo’s crayon-box colors were much more interesting and eye-catching.   Sure, black is a great go-to color, but the rich jewel tones that Dita prefers are gorgeous.  She seems to keep to solid colors rather than patterns, which means that the vibrant colors aren’t overpowering.

4.  Fur

This one might be controversial, but there is nothing that says RETRO GLAMOUR like fur.  But oh, the ethical dilemmas!  I don’t actually support the fur industry.  But real fur feels so amazing!  I will admit, I own both real and fake fur, and feel great about all my fur.  My real fur is all vintage and reclaimed.  I’ve actually bought the pieces for a steal at antique malls and thrift shops.  My favorite piece is a fur collar.  When I bought it, it was matted and dull.  I actually took it and painstakingly brushed it, like it was a delicate pet.  Fortunately, it was well-made, so the fur didn’t come out.  It turned out to be a gorgeous, thick grey fox collar.  I wear it every winter.  Look for ratty coats at the thrift store with decent fur collars or cuffs–you can remove them and attach them to something else.  I always see collars with the little head and feet still attached, which make me a little queasy.  But you can take a fur like that to a tailor who will chop those little extras right off.  (Sorry poor animal babies!)

If you choose to go with fake fur instead, I would suggest that you base your selection on the way it feels.  So many faux furs have a scratchy texture, and it ends up looking like they’re matted or cheap.  Faux fur is fun in bright colors and obviously fake styles.  If you’re going for a more realistic look, make sure that they feel soft and luxe.

5.  Sunblock

Because if this girl isn’t the poster child for milky white skin, I don’t know who is.  GORGEOUS.

Like what you see?  Follow Dita on Twitter: @DitaVonTeese.  She tweets fairly regularly.  She is just as glamorous as she seems, and travels around the globe.  And haven’t you always wanted to follow someone with her own cocktail and a chinoiserie flat in Paris?

I Heart Polyvore

Polyvore is my time waster.

You wouldn’t think it would bring someone such delight just to put outfits together on the internet and make them pretty.  But it does for me.

I’ve been reworking retro poster styles from Urban Outfitters lately. Trying to make it retro-inspired but still modern and wearable.

So adorable. And it plays right into my “living in Europe” fantasy.

If you’re on Polyvore, become one of my contacts!