Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Reviews

The New Year’s Way

Image

New Year’s is my favorite holiday of all the holidays! It’s not just a time for reflecting on your previous year but also an incredible opportunity to plan out an entire year of what’s to come.

I’ve been thinking about what I want from this year, and it is packed. I’m starting with a handful of resolutions which I’m sharing here now. Hopefully if they’re written in a place where I’m not the only person who can see them (aka not my journal), I’ll be more likely to actually stick to them. So, here goes.

1. No more ‘fast fashion.’

This includes, but is not limited to, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Forever 21, Zara, etc. I’ve only realized this fact in the last few months (yes, slow on the uptake, I know) but stores like the aforementioned megashops manufacture their clothing to be on trend (okay, great) but to last for 10 washes max. That is despicable. Think of how many $30 sweaters (or 40, or 50!) I’ve bought from UO or elsewhere. One year of fast sweaters could’ve bought me at least two beautiful, made-to-last, staple sweaters that I could cherish for years to come.

This resolution will be all about control and perspective. I’ll have to remember that just because the price is good, doesn’t mean the product is. And I’ll have to remember that the $20 I take out of my paycheck every two weeks is going toward something that I will really value one day, not just a venti latte. This will also give me an excuse to focus on thrift and vintage stores.

2. Keep blogging.

It’s as simple as that. I know there has been a bit of a holiday-induced hiatus in my writing lately but between work and friends and family I just couldn’t squeeze it in! I’m really excited to stick to this resolution because it’s become so important for me to document my thoughts in a permanent-ish way. One day I’ll be able to look back at these posts and realize how much I’ve changed since way back in 2012. That alone is worth it to me.

Aside from all that, I’ve got big plans for this little blog in the new year, including a fresh theme and DIY video series! Keep an eye out for my first edition.

3. Keep that New Year’s feeling.

I always feel so optimistic at the start of a new year. Eventually that high wears off, and I land back in the doldrums of my everyday outlook. But this year I will try to keep the excitement and foresight of a new year, or at least try to keep that attitude in mind as often as I can. Sounds cheesy, but my life has taken such a dramatic reversal in the last year, I need to remind myself sometimes to anticipate the future, no matter the unexpected things that may come up.

Also, I made a playlist that I was intending to post yesterday. But I didn’t. So here it is! It’s designed for a night of all-night New-Year’s dancing. But you can dance around your room to it. Find it on 8tracks AND on Spotify!

And with that, here’s to 2013. I hope it’s the best year yet. Yes, the best year of all the years. Ever.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

p.s. Do you have any resolutions? Let me know, I’m always inspired by other people’s goals!


Movie Mania: Heathers

“Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.”

– Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer in ‘Heathers’

Heathers title card

For those of you who haven’t been transfixed by Heathers’ darkly attractive analysis of the GenX teenager, the film depicts one Veronica Sawyer navigating the social jungle that is high school. Veronica has made it to the top of this hierarchy through admittance into the most powerful clique at Westerberg, a group of three uber-popular, conniving girls all dubbed Heather. The Heathers rule the school through a combination of fear, admiration, and sex appeal (“Everyone at this school either wants me as a friend or a fuck,” Heather Number One, aka Heather Chandler, boasts to Veronica).

Not to give away too many plot points for those Heathers virgins out there, but thee rest of the film highlights the demise of Westerberg’s most despicable characters, largely at the hands of Veronica and the rebellious newcomer, Jason Dean. Heathers is everything I ever wanted out of a John Hughes movie gone very, very wrong.

Heathers

My thirteen-year-old self was instantly drawn to this movie, chiefly based on the absolutely brilliant wardrobe choices. At the time of production, shoulder pads were at their pinnacle; there is no being a Heather without power shoulders. Giant hair, blazers at school, brooches, and monocles were also apparently things that teens wore. At least what the Heathers wore at Westerberg. And don’t forget the all-powerful scrunchie.

Monocle

Each Heather has her own signature colour which, not only affirms her place in the clique, but also conveys her character through non-verbal queues, if only on a skin-deep level. Heather Chandler, the most vicious and deluded Heather of the group, is red. She’s powerful, she commands attention, she’s dangerous. Heather Duke is green; she’s jealous, vengeful, and ironically, bulimic. Heather McNamara is yellow; she’s cautious, delicate, and easily persuaded. Our heroine, Veronica Sawyer, is blue; moody, discontent, and confused.

I love how this detail furthers the surreality of the whole film. Sure, there are dream sequences and a general fogginess about many of the scenes, but the Heathers’ ensembles catapult them from average teens to some kind of bizarre uniformed royalty. Primary coloured outfits never looked better.

Check out my style board inspired by Veronica. I am super into this schoolgirl/collegiate chic trend that’s in the works so I would definitely wear a Heathers-inspired look just about anywhere. College included.

How VERY.
Another reason my particularly angsty self loved/loves this movie is that it effortlessly captures the frustrations of overly intelligent, bored, listless teenagers. Veronica became a Heather because there was nothing better for her to do. “Now I use my grand IQ to decide what color lip gloss to wear in the morning and how to hit three keggers before curfew.” She’s disgusted with the institution of high school, the blind, hypocritical over-guidance of the adults in her life, and even more horrified at her own contribution to the unproductive cycle. When her hand is finally forced at changing things, Veronica’s own apathy overtakes any real emotion: “I say we just grow up, be adults and die.” Que sera, Ronnie, que sera.
True friends
I find Heathers really hits the mark in my book because it goes beyond poking fun at hilarious high school stereotypes. By pulling all the characters toward the extreme ends of their personas, the film not only mocks society at large, but also gives it a big eff you. Despite its dismal box office debut, Heathers has filled the dark teen comedy void and since become a headstrong cult classic. I approve.
Even if you hate Heathers, you can’t deny it’s influence on all teen/high school movies and shows that followed in the two decades after its release. Clueless, American Beauty, Mean Girls, Gossip Girl, etc. Case in point: Heathers cafeteria scene vs. Mean Girls cafeteria scene. Obviously the setup for either scene is completely different, but it is clear that each clique has its own designated table creating social boundaries that are almost never crossed. Thus, Heathers = insta-classic.
Fear not, Heathers-inspired outfit post coming soon.
ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Mawi Sample Sale

Sample Sale Dec 2012

Mawi is having a sample sale! If you’re lucky enough to be in London this coming weekend, get yourself to their East London studio to take a gander at all the incredible pieces they have up for grabs; they span an entire decade of jewelry design. Check out the Mawi London blog post about it here.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: True&Co

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I learned of True&Co‘s existence. I’d been reading about the company and how it’s been in the works for a long time on the blog Blushing Ambition by the darling Annabel. I thought it would be just your average middle-end boutique that sells nice sleepwear and pretty undergarments. Boy was I wrong. Everyone and their mother, literally, needs. this. website.

Let’s talk breasts. Mine are small. I have struggled since puberty to find the right bra for me. Believe it or not, I’ve worn the same size bra since I started wearing them. It’s a tiny size. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t even carry it in their stores. Even on the off-chance I do find my size, in Vicky’s mind, all A-cups must wish desperately they were DDs. I like my small breasts, I really really do.

So, for the last few years I’ve been ordering 3-10 different bras from online vendors like Asos, trying them all on, and sending 9-10 of the ill-fitting, overly-padded ones back, then repeating the cycle. But not anymore. Thanks to True&Co’s delightfully positive questionnaire that narrows down your best bra size based on your favorite bra’s fit, your dress size, and a few other factors, I have fallen in love with lingerie shopping once again.

Sign up with your email and the site catalogues your information for future purchases and stocks your personal shop with bras tailored to your needs. The big twist on conventional underwear shopping? For a $45 deposit, True&Co will send five different bras (three picked by you from your special shop, two recommended by True&Co especially for you) directly to your house for you to try on. If you don’t like any, send them all back for free. They return your deposit and you can go on searching for that perfect fit. If any of them do tickle your fancy, great! Keep the best ones, send the rest back. Obviously you have to pay for them but the shipping is free!

Check out my True&Co. Gift Guide ripe with recommendations for your sister/girlfriend/gal pal/mom (?).

Holiday Gift Guide: True&Co

Another huge bonus: they have an impeccably edited sleepwear shop as well. Whether for sleep, play, snuggling, or the holidays, they’ve got your lounge time covered with a great selection of labels that truly fit every budget.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Winter Wishes

It’s that time of year again. Stores are brimming with gotta-get-em-now deals that seem too good to be true. So in honour of this month of shopping bliss, I took a minute to whip up my Christmas list in an ideal world (i.e. where my wallet is fatter than my never used once credit card and driver’s license combined).

Winter Wishes

And the wishes are: 1. Topshop Longsleeve Collar Tip Shirt (here) 2. Club Monaco Beatrice Pant (here) 3. Urban Outfitters Felt Porkpie Hat (here) 4. The Splurge: Tom Binns Rokoco Dumont Earrings (here) 5. Zara Bowling Bag (here) 6. Need Supply Piping Oxford (here) 7. Dents Bow Detail Glove (here) 8. Madewell Scallop Lace Top (here) 9. Modcloth It’s Good to Be Chrome Skirt (here) 10. Madewell T-Strap Mini Wedge (here)

Coincidentally most of the items go together in one way or another and could be easily remixed to create some off the charts holiday outfits. But fear not! Actual gift guides for those of us on a budget who have more than a few difficult-to-shop-for folks on our lists are in the works and will be posted before you know it! First up: Gift Guide for the Girly Gal.

Until then, HAVE YOU ENTERED THE GIVEAWAY?! There are only a few hours left!! Click here to get lucky.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: Smith/Grey

Currently, I’m just about drooling on my keyboard over Smith/Grey fine jewellery.

It’s true, I’ve fallen head over heels for yet another London-based high end jewellery brand. But this one is truly impossible to resist.

The Danish/Austrian duo behind Smith/Grey creates impeccably edited collections driven by highly narrative concepts. Every piece is created through a process of painstaking craftsmanship, and the folks behind the brand, Birgit Marie Schmidt and Sofus Graae, possess an enviable array of expertise that fills their designs with wit, edge, and sophistication.

The real jaw dropper for me was their “I can’t seem to get rid of the horses” collection. Horses bend and meld into one another in surreal beauty. An otherworldly element is bestowed on the Smith/Grey collections through their psychologically-based inspirations. Brigit’s concepts are often based largely in the human imagination, dreams, and storytelling.

As hauntingly beautiful as the collection, here’s what the Smith/Grey online lookbook has to offer in terms of shedding some light on Brigit’s inspiration for “Horses”:

“And when she turned around she saw that the horses kept walking back towards her. Tall horses and small horses, fair ones and dark ones. They still returned every morning and every night, quietly whispering poems in her ear in a language she didn’t understand. But my dear, these words were ravishing. And she kept thinking, “Do they hold on to me or do I hold on to them?”

Uncomplicated by flashy gems or precious stones, Smith/Grey rely on sculptural elements to keep the eye entertained, catching the light at unexpected junctures and providing balance through satisfying symmetry. Did I mention that Brigit has a master’s degree in goldsmithing from the Royal College of Art in London? Yeah, she knows her stuff.

The duo doesn’t only design jewelry for ladies, either. They have a breakout line of baubles just for gents entitled Ivy Noir. The concept for the line is a darker take on classic Ivy League essentials. From signet rings to collar stiffeners, Ivy Noir accessories are staples for a style savvy boy’s club regular who “doesn’t always dress by the book.”

Prices run high for a piece of Smith/Grey bespoke, and rightfully so, considering the intense creative process involved in bringing each collection to fruition. So, in lieu of actually owning one of these beauts, I’ve created a style board showing how I would style my hypothetical Smith/Grey “Horses” hoops and “Peculiar Things” ring on a crisp fall day.

Horse Girl

It’s Vote’n Time

Hey everyone! Just wanted to send out this friendly reminder into the interwebs reminding you to get on out to your local polling place and cast your valuable vote. Only you can do it!

Don’t know where to vote? Check out this website.

Did you miss the last presidential debate? Lucky you, the New York Times uploaded the whole thing to YouTube.

Need a refresher on your local issues up for revision this election cycle? Visit your town’s local news websites to get the full briefing.

Curious about the issues concerning us gals that could be decided by the results of this election? Watch this video (below).

“You Don’t Own Me” PSA -Official from You Don’t Own Me on Vimeo.

Regardless of your political ideologies, it’s more important than ever that women get out to vote. Sorry guys, but you’ve had the power of government on your side for almost always. Consider the points made by former Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, taken from her November letter from the editor:

“[Women] make up 51 percent of the country’s population but represent only 17 percent of Congress. You do the math….It’s astounding to me that in the history of Congress, only 217 women have held office compared with 11,279 men….if Congress were representative of the population, with 51 percent of seats filled by women, do you think we’d still be debating about contraception? Of course not. We’d be focused on jobs, the economy, education, and the myriad of pressing matters that really need our attention now….Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, having women’s voices heard and represented is something we should all be able to agree on.”

To me, that extremely astute argument is huge. We are leaps and bounds closer to equality in America than when our grandmother’s were our age, even our own mothers, but there is no denying that we still have a long way to go.

I’m not a true blue fan of either party. In fact, most days I have a sarcastic word or two for the political puppet show that massive media makes of our national elections. But I am a fan of my personal voice being heard concerning issues regarding my body, healthcare, gender-equal pay, education, foreign policy, and human rights.

So, I will vote today for the millions of women of the world who do not have the right to vote, and may never live to gain it. I will vote today so I won’t become a statistic of female non-voters. I will vote today in hopes that the world will be a fairer place for my future daughters.

I will vote today, and so should you, sister.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Marjorie Dean, High School Junior

“‘Only to think, next week, at this time, I’ll be saying good-bye to you, Mary Raymond.’ Marjorie Dean’s brown eyes rested very wistfully on the sunny-haired girl beside her in the big porch swing.”

– excerpt from Josephine Chase’s Marjorie Dean, High School Junior

Lately I’ve been looking back into my family’s history, hard. My great-grandmother recently passed away and I’ve been given the task of sorting through boxes upon boxes of her old things. From figurines to photos, china sets to coupon clippings, I had my hands full.

This massive organization inspired me to sort through some other old mystery boxes in my house, sometimes full of myriad treasures and sometimes full of, well, let’s just say trash. Apparently just about everyone in my family is/was a pack rat.

But I’m thankful for that! Because it’s led me to some really priceless finds, mostly based on sentiment. One such find was a novel by the title of this post, Marjorie Dean, High School Junior by Pauline Lester.

I adore antique books. Like, verging on unhealthy adoration. I would rather buy a used book than a new one any day of the week. My favorite part of cracking open a beautiful used book is the possibility of stumbling across an inscription that gives me a clue to the book’s former life before it came to rest in my hands. Marjorie gave me just that.

Inside the front cover of my copy of Marjorie Dean is scribbled “To Mildred, From Lucille, Christmas 1918.”

Since coming across the book, I’ve picked it up from time to time to read a few pages here and there. Last week I finally came to the end of Marjorie’s junior year saga. I immediately set to work learning everything I could about Marjorie and the author.

“Marjorie entered her mother’s room and dropped dispiritedly at her feet,”

There’s not much to go on but a few half-written Wikipedia pages, but as it turns out, Pauline Lester was a pen name used by author Josephine Chase. Stories about harrowing, golden-hearted young women were such a smash at the time, Chase also wrote another series about title character Grace Harlowe under the pseudonym Jessie Graham Flower. The fake names didn’t stop there, however, and before Chase’s death in 1930, she also wrote a boys series called the Khaki Boys Series under the title Captain Gordon Bates.

The entirety of Marjorie Dean’s high school career was put to paper in 1917. Her success in life is attained based on a strict sense of duty to friends, family, school work, and those less fortunate than she, in her middle class existence. Marjorie is a beacon of truthfulness, fair play, beauty, and moral conscientiousness.

I was ecstatic to learn that not only did Marjorie graduate high school with flying colours, but that she also lived on, in a literary sense, to complete college, have a (short) career, get married to her high school sweetheart, and have a family, all before 1930! Learn more about Marjorie’s rival of her college years in this article.

I also learned a little about novels written for young women during the early 1900’s and their effect on women’s roles in sports, thanks to Dr. Nancy G. Rosoff. Both Marjorie and Grace were avid basketball players and much of the conflict faced in High School Junior was derived from the game.

All of this is even more interesting when you add in the fact that the publishers of Josephine Chase’s works were anticipating these novels to influence the young people in America. They hoped that the girls and boys featured in Chase’s novels would inspire the average reader to follow suit by understanding their places in society and the world. As such, the Grace Harlowe series was widely marketed as “stories of real girls for real girls.”

Read the entire story of Marjorie Dean’s junior year of high school online, right here.

Do you have any favorite antique or used books? Ever come across some beautiful inscriptions? I’d love to hear about em!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: Edward Gorey

Around this time of year, my love for Edward Gorey’s macabre illustrations and stories renews itself and inspires a thirst for all things Halloween.

There’s a stark, depressing reality in his work, especially in The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Arguably Gorey’s most famous book, Gashlycrumb documents the tragic ends of 26 children, one for every letter of the alphabet, in a darkly comedic way.

Besides being an incredibly well known artist and author with an extremely distinct style, Gorey dabbled in television, film, and stage productions. The quintessentially creepy author’s incredibly prolific career is documented in a series of anthologies titled Amphigorey.

Gorey is also my current crush because I recently discovered a book of his personal letters to friends and family. Read this article about the book and check out his amazing envelope sketches.

When asked who his typical fans were, Mr. Gorey responded, “It ranges from dear little old ladies to rather distracted teenagers who sometimes turn up at the door. I go to the same place for breakfast and lunch every day. Most of the people there are regulars, but every once in a while somebody will come up to the table and say, ‘I have a book of yours in the car. Will you sign it, please?’ And I’m thinking, ‘What is a book of mine doing in your car?’ I’m nothing if not terribly amiable, though.”

Gorey passed away in 2000 but you can still visit his home in Massachusetts. P and I are dying to get out east to visit friends in New York (providing it still exists by Christmas) so I think the Gorey House will definitely earn a spot on our travel agenda.

Check out his online community here. I’ve just got to get my hands on one of those prints!

Yet another good reason to have a huge crush on Edward Gorey is summed up in the above photo. He adored his feline friends, I mean, really really loved them. Me too!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


October Playlist

This month has been barreling through, throwing an unfathomable mix of weather, obstacles, and emotions my way, all the while showing no signs of slowing down.

I’ve had the heavy burden of a long list of life-altering decisions to make, many of which have been made for me by the powers that be. This has made for a rather unorthodox month. As far as my musical mood, I think these fluctuations can be heard in this month’s playlist.

In a last-ditch attempt to get my musical musings for the month of October to you, my ever-devoted reader (kidding here), I’ve squeezed it in at the tail end.  There are some appropriately themed spooky ones thrown in but I think it’s a good mashup of all sorts.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

P.S. Now you can stream my playlists right from your own computer! Still trying to figure out how to embed them in my actual posts, but here’s the link to the 8tracks:

October from ttylusa on 8tracks Radio.

———————————–

I saw Craft Spells around this time last year in London at this tiny above-a-pub venue. My friend April and I got drunk off rum and cokes and danced our little indie hearts out. It was great. See a barely-visible shot of the show below.

The night immediately after I saw the aforementioned Craft Spells, I saw this band at the Roundhouse in London. It was an awesome show and definitely the most badass one I’ve ever been to. Also, another milestone was my first-ever beer shower, thanks to the rowdy crowd of drunken Brits.

  • So Far Around the Bend – The National

“Take a bath and get high through an apple,

 you wanted to cry but you can’t ‘cause you’re laughing.”

Find the album version here, but if you’d like to learn a little more about the most excellent Dark was the Night project, hear this version.

This makes the list because a) ghosts—October, obviously. And b) I heard a sound byte once of Jack White asking a crowd if they ever feel like they belonged in a different time period. A man anachronism.

  • My One Desire – Freakwater

Apparently this is a cover of a Rick Nelson song? Never knew. Either way, I couldn’t find the version I wanted so give Ricky a try.

This is one of my top ten favorite songs of all time. I mean it though. The music video doesn’t do it justice! Lyrics are priceless, to boot. Plus, I do love that Bill Murray man.

“I wanna get home, I wanna get stoned,

Make myself food, make myself good.”

Gosh this song has the power to overthrow me with the blues with the first little guitar riff. Can’t get enough.

Fallish and also mildly creepy. Listen to it in a car going fast on the highway.

Longing for the Big Sur, where the ocean and mountains and redwoods and cliffs and fog make for just the right setting.

This gal has the pipes to be a megasuperstar.

No, Ryan Gosling (who wrote and performed this music with the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir), my body’s a zombie for you. Trust me.

I wrote a script to a short film inspired by this song. Not in a cheesy way.

The mounting energy of this song gives me shivers.

But you’ll fight it and you’ll make it through,

You’ll fake it if you have to

And you’ll show up for work with a smile.

And you’ll be better and you’ll be smarter

And more grown up and a better daughter—

Or son and a real good friend.”

Okay, this song is verging on brutally angst-filled, I realize. And okay, I adored this band during my hilariously moody middle school years.

But, in my defense, I’ve loved this song since the day I heard it and it is oddly (and embarrassingly) fitting at this juncture in my life. I’m not clinically depressed like the assumed subject of this song, just faking it, since I have to.

Also, Jenny Lewis and her parade of vintage/thrifted stage looks were a huge inspiration to me as a youngster. Just look at that ensemble. Holy cats.

My love for this song is never-ending. Learn all the lyrics and blast it at full volume in your car and sing it at the top of your lungs…even at the red lights!

Well, that’s all for now (folks)!

What were some of your go-to songs for the month of October? Comment!


It’s That Time Again…

Mid-season sale time, that is! For guys and gals on a seriously college-level budget (like me), this is your chance to stock up on essentials and snag that trendy swag you’ve been lusting after all season.

Below is me this summer, on location in San Francisco for a Mawi London piece about our amazing American stockists. I’m wearing a Topshop dress that I scored during their spring mid-season sale. I love it to death, and it’s easily become my most-worn piece of clothing.

I’ve rounded up my top ten picks from Topshop’s sale. Hopefuly I’ll actually be able to invest in some of them but for now it’s just wishful shopping. Have a look below!

TOPSHOP: Top ten picks from the mid-season sale

1. Mix and Match Sweatshirt: For those grumpy/hurried/oops-I-slept-in days where you throw on some black leggings, yank your hair into a topknot and stomp around in your most bad-girl booties.

2. Rib V Jumper by Boutique: For always.

3. Wash Zip Tunic by Boutique: Been obsessed with this dress since I saw Elle Fanning wearing a similar one, also by Boutique.

4. Floral Print Mesh-Backed Maxi Dress: Throw on pick numbers two and ten and you’ve got a perfectly disheveled fall ensemble.

5. Lace Soft Bra: No explanation necessary. Considering going wireless forever.

6. Spike Bobbies:  Spikes are almost too on-trend at the moment but, for the days when your hair could use some edge.

7. Oxblood Calf-Length Wrap Skirt: Not usually one for the lo-high hemline but this one hits the mark. Plus, oxblooooooooood.

8. Metallic Lace Flippy Dress: Pastels, check. Lace, check. Metallic? Yes please!

9. Oversized Boyfriend Coat: Been drooling over this since Christmas, literally.

10. Aerobic Hi-Top Trainer Wedges: Because I can’t resist the wedge sneaker anymore! I’ve been trying but, let’s be honest, they are awesome.

What are you sizing up and hunting down during this month’s sale season? Anything specific? Let me know in the comments below!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Movie Mania: Singin’ in the Rain

My love affair with the 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain began when I was approximately six years old; The obsession has grown exponentially ever since. Believe it or not, but I give this movie a lot of credit for helping to develop my sense of humour and of fashion. Keep reading to learn more.

The effectiveness with which directors Gene Kelly (Don Lockwood) and Stanley Donen capture the glamour and excitement of Hollywood in the mid 1920’s is astounding. Their budget of $2.5 million, a part of MGM’s golden age of movie production, probably helped.

If you’ve never seen it, run to your nearest video rental/redbox/bestbuy right NOW. It’s a classic for a reason people. Also, for you film nerds, the wiki page includes an incredible amount of “did you know” quality tidbits that I was really surprised to learn of!

Donald O’Connor’s ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ bit is my case in point. Turns out he had to be hospitalized following that shoot, who knew? In the act’s closing tricks, when he hilariously jumps through that wall? That part was an accident.

Besides the production infamy, he is such a natural physical comedian that the kitschiness of the whole thing has never bothered me. That year O’Connor was awarded Best Actor at the Golden Globes for his role as Cosmo Brown, and deservedly so. Below, O’Connor and Kelly making a mockery of their elocution lessons.

After cozying up with a hot cup of tea and re-watching the film recently,  I realized its incredible scale. A large portion of it is shot inside studios on closed sets which seem, at times, the size of airplane hangars. Check out the photo below, a shot of an exquisite modern dance sequence. Obviously that’s a pretty intense paint job but still, that space is gigantic!My favorite sequence of Singin’ in the Rain is “Beautiful Girls.” In this instance the audience really gets a feel for the magnitude of the film’s costume budget. A dozen models, in addition to another dozen dancers parade about in fabulous frocks. Check out the  full scene below. The action starts at :53.

“And if you must wear fox to the opera, Dame Fashion says, diet!” God, I can’t get enough!

Aside from that act, I think dancer Cyd Charisse steals the show for the whole of the Dueling Cavalier sequence. For the longest time I was convinced her part was played by two women! Her form is exquisite and her costumes equally so. The wig helps, but Charisse transforms from sultry femme fatale (below) to dreamy stunner (also above, in white) simply through dress and movement.

The feathers! The glitz! The beading! The chiffon! The drop-waists! Need I go on? I think I’ve mentioned this a few times already but the costumes of Singin’ in the Rain are absolutely fabulous. Even though she’s obviously the antagonist, the brilliant Jean Hagan (Lina Lamont)wears some of my favorite dresses of the whole film. Look at the intricate beading of her ensemble below. I’ve GOT to find a way to replicate that head band!

Apparently Debbie Reynolds ended up with a whole lot of the most iconic costumes from the film in her own private collection until an auction in 2011. They’re a bit faded but check out the pieces from the “Good Morning” scenes, below. I love the art deco flair of that sweater.

So if I haven’t exhausted the subject quite enough yet, I was so inspired that a drew up a style board derived from the modern-day wearability of Singin’ in the Rain’s costumes.

Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments! Got a movie you’re a maniac about? Love this film like me? Let me know your favorite song! I could talk for hours about it, obviously 🙂

Beautiful Girls
Until next time!
ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Kitties and Pretties: First Edition

Today I’m revealing to the world something that, up until now, I’ve only hinted at here and there. Think what you may, but aside from being a serious student, a lover of all things literary, fashion, film, and craft, I am also deeply pleased by the subject of this post: kitties and pretties!

It’s exactly what it sounds like, an absolutely indulgent, hilarious, wonderful subject that is simply a way to have some visual fun with this blog and throw a hefty dose of cuteness into the world amidst a whole lot of really bummer subjects. Enjoy!

Above, a box full of vintage earrings, all recently found and upcycled from clip-ons. Also seen are some vintage bracelets. A new favorite of mine has one of the ten commandments punched onto each charm; I can’t get enough of the kitschy Sunday school vibes.  It’s also proof that I never hesitate to add an element of humour to my outfits — I told you I’m a jewellery addict! And now for this week’s kitty…

Above is one of my favorite little kitties, Nola, a resident of P’s new house. She was adopted for free from an ad on Craigslist but everyone thinks she’s a Bengal. I love her to death because she’s so smart! She’ll play fetch for hours. See below for more pretties pictures.

Above, a vintage strawberry pin.

Well there you have it! Next up: the full scoop on my most excellent birthday weekend.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


Currently Crushing: Tatty Devine

Gosh, I have such a huge crush on British jewellery brand Tatty Devine. Their AW12 collection is chalk full of their trademark perspex riddled with whimsy, this time featuring super cool moths and playful leopards. Check it!

Not only does this designing duo crank out cult favorites season after season (see their much-loved dinosaur necklace), they have an incredible way of reaching out to their customers, both via social media and in person. They even feature a customer of the month on their blog! And their customers are a very, very devoted bunch.

I am just dying right now for not being back in London yet; I would do just about anything to get to their amazing events coming up in October. I’m telling you, they are AWESOME, right?

Another really pro-customer and pushing-the-envelope type thing they do are design your own name necklaces. For this, you can go straight to one of their two stores, in Covent Garden or on Brick Lane, OR you can design your very own name necklace (really whatever word you want, although I haven’t tried any dirty ones) online! WHAAAT!

There are over a dozen colors to choose from, little trinkets to add on, and several kinds of fonts making thousands of possible combinations! I might be a little too excited about this, but I am a huge jewellery addict and these gals are doing some great things in the realm of accessories. Above: infinite adorableness in the Tatty Devine Covent Garden window displays, by artist Amy Harris.

I’m also a big fan of their moderate to medium-expensive price range. As your typical shoestring budget student, I mostly ‘invest’ in thrift store jewellery but I would splurge (a little!) for anything Tatty Devine in a heartbeat. I haven’t actually gotten my hands on a piece yet but I think a birthday present to myself may be in order. On my wishlist are…

…these Leopard Stud Earrings in caramel…

…and this supremely fabulous Frida Kahlo necklace!

What do you think of Tatty Devine? Got a crush too? Lemme know in the comments!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


September Playlist

September is my favorite month of the year. School is in full swing, the air is crisp, sweaters are dug out of storage, tights are worn, apples are ripe, leaves change, Fall begins, squirrels get fat, geese fly south, socks are recommended, and people switch from iced to piping hot coffees and teas. And, of course, it’s my birthday month! This girl has the fall vibes down.

So, in honour of the best of months, I’ve compiled a mood-driven playlist to accompany you through this transitional period. Find links to youtube in the song titles and enjoy over a cup of hot cocoa and a good read.

September Playlist, Fall 2012

1. Slow (FD Acoustic Session) – Twin Shadow

I love the original of this one but the acoustic version just has some rawness to it that I find irresistible.

2. Heart of Glass – Blondie

Agh! That dress! Her legs! The hilarious video editing! Obviously I’ve known/appreciated this song for quite awhile but it wasn’t until Tumblr mega-maven suicideblonde posted it that I realized how much contagious energy it possessed. Play it on repeat.

3. Rosa – Grimes

Can’t get enough of that grungy nineties baseline.

4. I & Thou – The Daredevil Christopher Wright

Hometown heroes The Daredevil Christopher Wright released their second full-length this summer entitled The Nature of Things. The whole album is just as enchanting as I & Thou so make sure to check it out! Also see their incredible music video for the song Pale Horse, Pale Rider, below.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider from Adam Wheeler on Vimeo.

5. Let’s Rock the Beach – Real Estate

Yes, this song exudes a hyper-summer vibe but I classify it as beginning of fall for those sunny moments driving through rural Wisconsin where everything is just right.

6. Crystal Ball – Grimes

This girl is on fire right now and she deserves the hype. She’s got a unique style and works it like no one else with a cool whiff of a Miss Gevinson of similar underground internet-kid cult fame.

7. River Man – Nick Drake

Cool Autumnal imagery combined with a soothingly sultry voice, you had me at hello!

8. Icarus – White Hinterland

Okay, possibly overly everywhere on every commercial ever at this point but this song is just too perfect to deny.

9. Where We Belong – Megafaun

Another local EC band with a great folksy fall song that never fails to put me in a contemplative mood, I think it’s that rolling guitar lick. The song gets kind of experimental and crazy towards the end but that’s just part of their charm.

10. Ta Douleur – Camille

I like to fit French babes with killer voices and beat-boxing skills into my playlists as often as possible but to be truthful, I was actually going to add Camille’s song ‘Les Ex’ but couldn’t find a good enough version online! Enjoy one of her most popular songs instead, please.

11. Dreams – The Cranberries

First fell in love with this song as a kid. It was the background music to the Babysitter’s Club preview on my family’s copy of Free Willy on VHS. Little known fact of the day.

12. Fakin’ It – Simon and Garfunkel

Those claps.

13. Muscle’n Flo – Menomena

This band should be famous times ten. If you’ve never heard of em, they’re one of my top five all time favorites. Give em a shot.

14. Five Step – Mashup (Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ vs. Radiohead’s ’15 Step’)

I’m not sure who the original DJ is behind this masterpiece but holy balls it’s good. If you haven’t heard the originals, check em out here and here. Also, try to focus on the music and ignore that guy and his dance moves. Or not.

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Hope you enjoy this playlist and have a great start to your Autumn months. Do you have any favorite fallish songs or albums? I’d love to hear about them, leave a comment!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

P.S. –> Please note, I like musicians and think it’s cool to support them by paying for their tunes, especially the ones you really like.


Quilting Quest

Hello all! No, we didn’t die tragically during the Great American Road Trip. We didn’t even get a minor traffic violation. So what’s the deal, you may be asking. Truthfully, it’s a combination of sheer summer laziness and also 80% of the photos from the trip were shot on film and have only just been developed. Keep an eye out for the full scoop coming soon.

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But what I’m really excited about lately is my quilting quest. I’ve always been kind of astounded at the intricacy and folk art of quilts, not to mention the women who make them. Shortly after getting back home from our trip, LoisLouis and I accompanied my favorite grandma Evelyn to the Chippewa Valley Quilt Show at the senior’s center in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it until Evelyn mentioned that she had a keepsake quilt top that my great grandmother had fashioned out of old flour sacks and dresses during Evelyn’s childhood in the 40’s. I couldn’t wait to see it!

After the quilt show (which was much more fascinating that I had originally anticipated), we stumbled upon a mini flea market that was on for Chippewa’s Clear Water Days. Here we found a true treasure trove of astonishingly inexpensive vintage tidbits: silk scarves, 20’s era trims and embellishments, crochet table cloths, and a beautiful but raggedy quilt top from the same era as my great grandmother’s. I snapped up an armload of stuff for a miniscule $8 and our trio headed back to the Nelson homestead.

I’m on a quest to make my great grandma’s quilt top into a fully-functional, wrap-yourself-in-it-during-a-bad-cold-and-sip-some-hot-tea-on a-rainy-day quilt. Once I restore the flea market quilt top (see above photo) using a technique I learned at the quilt show, it will be the backing for my great grandma’s. Keep scrolling for a brief tutorial.

Please note: I am NOT a quilter. My most-uttered phrase when sewing is “Oh, I’m sure that will do.” I was told this is literally the simplest, most fool-proof way to construct a quilt. If you’re like me, then this quilting style is for you.

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Step one: Cut a small square of fabric, any size. Mine was approximately 2.5×2.5″

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Step two: Pin your first square to another sqaure of fabric of the same size. I got so lazy that I didn’t bother cutting the second square and just continued to the next step (trust me, it works).

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Step three: Sew all the way around your two squares leaving a small seam allowance.

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Step four: Draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner onto your sewn squares. Then create a small slit with a pair of scissors. Once you can get the tip of the scissors through, carefully cut along the lines, right to your sewing at the corners of your squares. If that sounds confusing, it’s not. See above photo.

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Step five: Pull apart the newly created flaps and reveal the center of your quilting square! I ironed all of mine flat before continuing to the next step but, I’m sure it would be fine if you just left it as is.

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Step six: Continue to repeat steps two through five until desired effect is achieved. I usually did this two or three times, depending on the size of patch I needed.

Keep scrolling to see more color combos and size variations. You can really go crazy with this pattern, be as matchy-matchy and or devil-may-care as you wish.

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So now you know. Have you ever given this technique a try? Let me know! I’m also dying to see how others have restored heirloom quilts so don’t forget to comment, I’d love to hear all about it!

I got some more inspiration for this project from a recent trip to the Art Institute of Chicago’s American Textiles exhibit. Stay tuned these next few weeks for more on that.

xxx

Maria Nichole


Another Saturday Night

Can’t stop the Sam Cooke and Cat Stevens addictions! Love it.

lois louis

Separately, I have stumbled across these two songs, only to keep singing them over and over. They’re the kind of song that gets in your head, crawls down to your heart strings, and forces you to belt it out while doing the dishes. I finally tried to find it on YouTube, and I realized, dear me oh my, I love both of these songs, and wait a second… They’re the same song! Here’s to the lovely Cat Stevens and Sam Cooke for supplying me with some fabulous bike ride playlist material.

 

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Vintage Adventure

In lieu of traveling all the way down to Chicago for the Rookie Road Trip stop at the Girls Rock! concert, Lois Louis and I decided our time might be better spent scouring the racks of the Twin Cities’ best vintage shops.

Wandering through our first shop of the day, Go Vintage!

This shop was INCREDIBLE. It was absolutely stuffed to the brim with an enormous selection all organized by waistline and era. There were more hats than I could count, and the small store was complete with an entire closet full of “please ask for assistance, don’t touch” clothes dating back to the early 1800s. The sales girl was sweet, not too pushy, not aloof either. Lois Louis and I agreed, she had a good vibe about her, a true vintage lover.

I was so tempted by this gorgeous wicker purse with brown leather flaps and an adorable red bandana-patterned inner lining. Too bad I couldn’t bear to pay $55 for it. I had a feeling there would be better things to come.

If you have the bucks, or if you’re in the mood to browse, we definitely recommend Go Vintage. Find it here:

1560 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104 (651) 646-4455

The aforementioned sweet salesgirl pointed us down the street to our next stop, Lula’s. Here we found another wide array of well-cared for garments. The racks were pretty packed, however, which made it slightly difficult to search.

I did end up trying on an adorable denim dress that literally fit like a glove. I’ve never had such luck with the fit of a vintage piece. Was I smart enough to fork over the $35 for this gem? Nope. And I still regret it. Hindsight and all that, but now I realize that I couldn’t find a dress that fit that well even if I paid three times that amount. Good call, Maria. Seriously.

If you’re a size 0-2 and in the neighborhood, snatch it up before someone else does! Check out Lula’s here:

1587 Selby Avenue  Saint Paul, MN 55104 (651) 644-4110

Next we moved on to a joint called Everyday People, which boasts two locations, another in Uptown Minneapolis. It turned out to be less of a vintage shop and more of a consignment store. Nothing of note was found here, except some salespeople with a great love of Sam Cooke. If you want some used yesterday goods, visit:

1599 Selby Avenue  Saint Paul, MN 55104 (651) 644-4410

Our next spot on the list was the Savers between Selby and Uptown. Savers? you may be asking. Yes, Savers. Lois Louis and I have had the best of luck with the ever-stocked vintage section of our hometown Savers and we couldn’t wait to search through the sure-to-be-bigger section of the Minneapolis Savers.

Unfortunately, this Savers was bigger. Much, much, bigger. Overwhelmingly so. And without a substantial vintage section. We only lasted about ten minutes after half-heartedly sifting through their so-so jewellery section. We needed sustenance and a smaller selection.

If you have the time, patience, and hand sanitizer required to bear this massive second hand heaven, be their guest!

2124 East Lake Street Minneapolis (612) 729-9271

We agreed on one more stop before refueling for lunch. We ended up at Tatters Alternative Clothing, a confusing mix of new dresses and smelly used combat-style boots. A uniquely patterned (fancy-dress ladies drinking wine) polyester button-down was purchased and then we referred to the man behind the counter for a good, vegetarian friendly, place to eat.

He directed us to the Bryant-Lake Bowl, a bowling alley, bar, and cinema combo just around the corner. For such a cobbled together place, they did their best to source all of their veggies and meat from local farmers, which anyone can appreciate. And to further their credit, their chef makes a mean bowl of fresh tofu pad thai which was big enough to split and devoured nonetheless. Go there for a friendly atmosphere but inattentive wait staff.

810 West Lake Street  Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 825-8949

Afterwards, we were ready for some consistency in both sizing and air conditioning so we opted for the Uptown Urban Outfitters which was expectedly over-priced and hip but ultimately a good choice.

We didn’t end up hitting all of our destinations and I didn’t actually buy anything except gas and food. Next time we’ll definitely make a stop at Via’s Vintage on South Hennepin which was closed by the time we got there! Such a bummer. But overall, it was a successful day, which ended with the Hudson Fourth of July Fair, which we accidentally stumbled into.

Let me know if you’ve been to any other vintage shops in the Midwest that are worth the drive! I can’t quench this thirst!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole