Life at the bottom of the Fashion Caste

Style

Style Inspiration: Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis has been a major icon for me ever since I swiped my big sister’s Rilo Kiley CD’s in middle school. Her vintage-inspired style and perfectly undone red hair (i.e. my dream hair which I WILL attain one day) have had me smitten since I first saw her live with the Watson Twins back in the day.

I love the fluidity of her style; one moment she’s all 60’s glam femme mini dress-wearing goddess, the next it’s all hot pants, fedoras, and allllll the tomboy vibes. To be fair, the girl’s got amazing legs—I can’t believe she is almost 40!

Here’s a collection of looks that I’m leaning on hard rn for outfit inspiration (yes, even that mean-mugged Troop Beverly Hills look, obviously).

JennyLewisJenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

JLew5JLew8JLewUntil next time,

TFS


Short Cuts

I have not cut my hair in approximately three years. And, after countless dye jobs from many a sad box, my ends are split and crunchy. The last boy who did my hair was so concerned, he immediately recommended me to his friend, insisting I let her chop my length. I cringed away, crying “No! I’m trying to grow it out!”

But it seems breast-length is as long as it’s going to get, so long as I insist on all the flat-ironing, hair spraying, and box-dyeing I’ve become so accustomed to. Upon this rather tragic realization (that I will never have the long, voluminous locks of the Giseles and Lordes of the world), I’ve become more and more swayed by the “long bob,” all the rage like, three years ago when I decided to grow out my hair. I recognize this irony.

My first inspiration was the vintage inspired look that Gwynnie totes in The Royal Tenenbaums.

margot-bus

But I’m afraid it’s just a wee bit too flat for me. So I turned to one of my beauty icons, the irreverent Dana Scully, of course. Is she not SO gorgeous? I love her dusty rose lips and neutral brown eye  makeup. Plus, the hair. In all its bouncy glory.

scullyshort

I also really love Tavi’s latest rendition of the above look.

tavishort

Tavi

And then I realized, isn’t it just Alexa’s hair that I really want? Slightly disheveled, often wavy with pretty, blunt bangs.AlexaBut you can’t have the derivative without mentioning Ms. Chung’s obvious references and long bob, blunt bang foremothers. We’ve got Jean Shrimpton and Jane Birkin, natch.

Jean

JaneFurthermore, there are a few more modern gals who’ve really done it right. Check Elizabeth Olsen’s curly rendition. Leandra Medine has been rocking the carefree version for just about ever. And someone else, who remains mysterious, but has great hair nonetheless.

Elizabeth

Leandrashortcut1Anyways, the debate continues. Every other day I convince myself in or out of the decision I’ve already made. I’ll probably end up with a very long bob, and only chop two or three inches in the end. You know, just to get acclimated.

Until next time,

TFS


Inspired by: Louise Dahl-Wolfe

I’ve been in need of a bit of inspiration lately. In the midst of these post-holiday doldrums, a girl can get a little stuck in the same old grind of the day to day. That’s what Red List is for. And it was when I was perusing this strange marvel of a wiki catalogue that I came across one of my favorite photographs by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. I love everything about it; the canted angle, the styling (um, someone get me that outfit, STAT.), the dreamy ideas suggested by the girl’s bike so jauntily thrown aside in the grass, the pure summer sun, and the beautifully youthful poise of model Liz Gibbon’s pose.

Image

I had first seen it years ago but had never really dug much further into Ms. Dahl-Wolfe’s other work. Turns out all of her other photos are rife with timeless beauty, elegance of composition, and more incredible styling. Though some of Louise’s later work is in color, I love that she could convey so much through a black and white photograph. It keeps the subject simple, yet pulls out many details one might not notice in a color picture.

 

Dahl-Wolfe shot primarily fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar, under the reign of one Diana Vreeland.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1950 - Model Mary Jane Russell in Dior

Many of the photos verge on surrealism, while others boast to the photographer’s sense of humor and irony.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1935 - Josephine BakerShe even photographed the magnificent Josephine Baker in this wild metallic creation in 1935. Needless to say, my trip into Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s world has certainly bumped my out of my blues.

Until next time,

The Fashion Serf.


School Daze

 

It has been horrifyingly cold lately, meaning a severe lack of opportunities to be even slightly stylish. En route to a holiday party with friends last month it dawned on me; Wisconsin isn’t known for its fashionistas not because there’s no one in the whole state with a keen sense of personal style, but largely because 6-8 months of the year completely prohibit any opportunity to wear an appealing ensemble. Trust me, any height of heel in three inches of snow just doesn’t work.

Good thing I’ve been keeping busy indoors while ruthlessly pursuing my transfer applications. Breaking news, I will not be attending Central Saint Martins in the fall. Instead, I have my sights set on a slightly warmer locale, but I’ll stay mum until my plans are set (!). Either way, these apps have been draining any semblance of sanity I have retained over the last year so I haven’t had a ton of time to blog. Does this mean I’ve already broken one of my resolutions? Gosh, I hope not.

To keep my spirits up in the midst of this wintry slog, I’m proud to say that I’m working on streamlining my wardrobe. I never thought I would be the kind of gal to desire limits in this area of my life but things are getting out of hand. After an influx of crap clothes from my old dorm in London, I’ve not only run out of hangers but also drawer space. And let me emphasize, I have plenty of hangers and drawers. More than average.

So I’m taking Anuschka of Into Mind‘s advice and planning my Spring 2013 capsule wardrobe. The planning portion has been surprisingly enjoyable. Lot’s of self-reflection, dog ear-ing magazine pages, collaging, and–gasp–pinning. That’s right. I’ve learned to use Pinterest for something other than entering unattainable contests. It’s still in the works, but feel free to check out my board of looks/textures/patterns that are inspiring my SS13 looks.

If you couldn’t decipher the huge range of themes in the board, I hope to aim for two different styles of looks. I love Sarah Rutson’s ladylike-chic style (vibrant tailored trousers, nautical stripes, a-line skirts, sheath dresses, no-nonsense colour combos) but i also have a huge weakness for a bohemian, gypsy woman, carefree, Dylana Suarez kind of style, too (flowy maxi skirts, an excess of paisley, windswept hair, and layers layers layers). Also, add a dash of schoolgirlisms including jumpers, letterman sweaters, and charm bracelets. I know it’s kind of passe at this point but I just can’t get over it.

To be honest, I’m no minimalist. I love trinkets, packed book shelves, and cozy clutter. So I do plan on keeping some stand-out pieces from my current wardrobe for sentimental reasons, even if they don’t fit into either of the broad categories I’m aiming for with my capsule planning.

Also, P took me on a much-needed tour of some of the best vintage shops in the cities recently (more on this to come!). The topmost photos are a preview of our outing! Some of those shops were last seen here.

Anyways, now you’ve been updated! Hopefully I can get out of this school daze long enough to blog again soon!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


WIW: Snø

brr!

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Check out my outfit post on The Fashion Serf, it’s all about winter layering!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


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


WIW: Mother Knows Best

For the full story, more photos, and the outfit breakdown, head on over to The Fashion Serf.

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


1,000th Post GIVEAWAY

I’ve reached a huge Tumblr milestone: 1,000 posts!

To celebrate I’m sponsoring TTYLUSA’s first ever giveaway. The prize for first place is an incredible piece from Mawi London’s Gypsy Rani line from the brand’s AW06 collection, valued at over $500.

The second place winner will receive a treasure trove of four vintage accessories delivered in keepsake boxes of my own design, seen below.

How do I enter, you may be asking? It’s SO easy! Just follow these three simple steps:

1. Follow TTYLUSA on Tumblr
2. Follow TTYLUSA on Bloglovin’
3. Then leave a comment with your email address at the very bottom of this post!

Two winners will then be picked at random at midnight (CST) Monday, November 26th.

NOTE: This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to the winners, Lacey of My Boring Closet (1st prize) and Rachael H. (2nd prize)! If you weren’t so lucky this time, fear not! More giveaways await 🙂

In the meantime, entertain yourselves with some gems from my tumblr archives spanning the last three years of my life.

Some people dismiss tumblr as a mindless forum hosting a hodge podge of pretty pictures and miscellaneous links. For me, Tumblr has served as an ever-faithful journal of what piques my interest at any certain moment in time. It’s actually been surprisingly fun to sift through the photos, videos, links, and quotes I’ve posted over the years. And it’s been especially delightful to realize how much I’ve changed in that short amount of time.

Want more TTYLUSA history? Check out my archives!

There are so many blogs having giveaways right now, just in time for the holidays! Check out Fashion Ocean for one too, but don’t forget to enter the TTYLUSA GIVEAWAY!

ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Please note that this giveaway is not sponsored by any brand, company or other affiliate. The prize for first place was selected from my own personal collection; the prizes for second place were purchased at vintage shops and markets in London and across the United States. If you have any questions regarding this giveaway, please feel free to email me at ttylusablog@gmail.com.


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

WIW: Orchard Outing

The other day P and I finally made it out to a local orchard to pick our own peck of apples. It was an incredibly beautiful autumn day and we treated ourselves to a HUGE caramel apple, made right on the orchard.

P shot all of these photos on lovely black and white film. The colours were great that day but I love the vintagey feel of monochrome.

Above is my “I’ve got caramel all over my face and the wind is blowing my hair right into it” face. Yeah.

Anyways, here’s what I wore!

Dress/UrbanOutfitters, Belt/Vintage, Woven Flats/Vintage, Earrings/Vintage, Bag/Lucky Brand, Scarf (on bag)/Stolen from Mom!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


WIW: Witching Hour

witching hour noun ˈwi-chiŋˈau̇(-ə)r : the time of day when supernatural creatures such as witches, demons, and ghosts are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful and black magic to be most effective.

Scroll through for the whole scoop!

P and I had a great time shooting these pictures while paying a visit to a local cemetery. I am dying over the extreme fall vibes. Perfectly spooky!

My favorite part of this outfit is my jewelry. I’m wearing three vintage bracelets, one with all ten commandments as charms, one with ‘best’ and ‘friends’ charms; I love them both! One of my rings is from UO and the creepy clutching hand one is a design of my own, wrought out of sterling silver with a blue agate stone.

After all the hocus pocus, we retreated inside to relax over hot chai lattes and a cozy movie night.

Here’s What I Wore:

wool fedoraasos wool sweater – gap (similar herecotton maxi skirt – h&m leather baglucky brand scarf (on bag) – vintage leather stud boots – urban outfitters (ancient) sparkly socks – new look london jewels – see above!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


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: Picnic at Hanging Rock

One of my top ten favorite movies of all time is the 1975 eerie cult classic Picnic at Hanging Rock.

If you’ve never seen it, the movie follows students at Appleyard College for Girls in Australia on Valentine’s Day, 1900, along a day trip to a local geological marvel known as Hanging Rock. Intense, intertwined relationships are revealed between students and faculty. I’ll leave the real mysteries up to the film to portray, but eventually several girls and a beloved teacher go missing without a trace.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, directed by the masterful Peter Weir (he also directed The Truman Show, Dead Poets Society, Master and Commander), ran away with the 1976 BAFTA for ‘Best Cinematography,’ and deservedly so. There is an exceptional amount of tension building throughout the film, verging on hysterics at some points, and all emotions are heightened with excellent set design and cinematography.

I love how open to interpretation this movie is. There are all sorts of theories that Weir wanted to lead the audience to its own final conclusion about the school girl’s end.

The strange noises and dream-like delirium point directly toward alien abduction, or was it those two roguish young Brits looking for some sadistic mischief? Or did the young ladies simply fall to their demise down a rocky trench? All of that is up to you to decide.

Of course I have to mention the brilliant wardrobe of Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s nothing too complicated, period appropriate school-girl dress: all-white frocks buttoned to the chin, complete with matching gloves. The most striking thing about the costume choice is that it evokes so much context within such a simple garment. The girls are young, pure, white, yet not untainted. They have struggles and serious emotions just like any of us, but these aspects of their lives are stifled by strict censorship, protocol, and social conditioning.

Even as the troupe of hikers climb further up the rock, their inhibitions lighten and they begin to remove parts of their ensembles. First their boots and stockings, hats and gloves. Eventually, Ms. McGraw, the last to disappear, is said to have been seen climbing the rock in only her undergarments.

The girl’s clothing also nods to the overwhelmingly feminine feel of the film. A dreamlike haze rests over the majority of the scenes; school girls languidly brushing their hair, pining over personal shrines, and generally traipsing about in a childish daze. Whether you think it’s creepy or cool, I drew up a style board inspired by the fashions of the young ladies at Appleyard College for Girls.Style Inspiration: Picnic at Hanging Rock

Okay, hopefully you forgave the obnoxious number of beautiful screen shots from Hanging Rock but I am just so in love with the look and feel of this film.
What do you think of it? Kind of Sofia Coppola-esque, no? It reminds me of the over-the-top femininity of The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette. Let me know in the comments!
Until next time!
ttyl,
Maria Nichole

Birthday Bash

Okay, so officially I’ve been 20 years old (young, I’d like to say!) for three weeks now. But I thought I’d post a recap of my really great birthday weekend just for fun.

A few weeks ago, P and I took a day trip up to Duluth, MN for some much-needed away time.

We also went to pick up my extremely amazing birthday gift! P got me a Duluth Pack, a world-renowned brand that campers, hikers, scholars, and your run of the mill hipsters have adored for over a hundred years. Their products are guaranteed for life and made exclusively at their shop in Duluth.

For ttylusa’s first edition of the now-weekly Kitties and Pretties, we went to shoot some pictures at Enger Tower (below), a park at the highest point in Duluth. It was a perfectly crisp, cool fall day.

Look at the incredible views! It was raining over in the south western part of Duluth, cool huh?

We weren’t there for long, however, when a sudden storm blew in from the lake and rained us out.

Afterwards, we took a great drive up Highway 61 along the coast of Lake Superior which has some outstanding views (above!). We took a late supper at an incredible restaurant called Pickwick’s; the meal was exquisite.

Besides the tantalizing menu, Pickwick’s is a great place to grab a bite as it’s story is entrenched in Duluth’s interesting history. It’s a little fuzzy but check out the picture of the night prohibition was repealed in 1932; the pub section still looks exactly the same. I love thinking of the droves of people who have passed in and out of this restaurant over the years. I’m a history nerd, what can I say?

After dinner we drove back home tucked inside of our cozy car, amid a deluge of rain.

On my actual birthday, I went to breakfast with my family at a favorite cafe and was later treated to tea and apple pie at home. Sometimes I feel a little too old for birthday gifts but my parents got me the complete French and Spanish editions of Living Language (similar to, and arguably better than, Rosetta Stone).

I was thrilled because I plan to one day enroll in the master class at Lesage in Paris to learn tambour from the legends whose work you see in collections from Balmain to Oscar de la Renta. Obviously that won’t be for at least four years but I’m going to start brushing up on my French in preparation!

At this point in my life, I adore birthdays. I use them as an excuse to be indulgent, spend time with friends and family, and maybe, just mayyybe, splurge a little on a shopping spree. What are your birthday traditions? Are you one of those paint the town red types? The hide under your covers, wear all black, pretend it didn’t happen types? Join the conversation in the comments below!

ttyl,

Maria Nichole

All photos courtesy of Peter Elliott Eaton


Getting Cozy

Well last night was the first official frost here in Eau Claire. And, I’ve officially diagnosed myself with a cold.

So, in my self-inflicted couch ridden-ness, I created a polyvore for fool-proof fall coziness, complete with cute fuzzy slippers and immune supplements!

Get Cozy

But seriously, when you’re feeling under the weather and the weather is less than encouraging, take full advantage of these facts and pull out all the stops in the layering sector. No one gets to judge you round this time of year, especially if your sick.

And, if they do say something snarky about your too-hip patterned leggings, you can always threaten to give a hefty cough in their direction.

Tune in next time for the full dish on my brilliant birthday weekend!

Until then, stay warm dear reader.

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


The Great American Road Trip Day Four: Omaha, NE

We finally made it to Omaha! I thought Iowa would never end. But seriously.

All you need to know about Iowa in one picture. Beautiful? Yes. Exciting? Not one bit.

Last night we camped out at North Overlook Campground on Lake Red Rock in Iowa. We didn’t get all of our gear set up until 3am–P and I are obviously novice campers.

 

The next morning we made a delicious campfire breakfast of eggs and potatoes and jumped in the lake for a swim before heading off to Omaha.

Here we’re staying with P’s grandpa Richard. The first thing he said as we trampled through his door in desperate search of air conditioning was, “Oh good, I was hoping you’d make it in time fore mass!” So off we went, sweat, lake-water-hair and all to my first Catholic mass just three blocks from Richard’s house.

Besides the overwhelming religious undertones, I am thrilled that we got to visit with Richard. He has had such an incredible life: a child of the dust bowl, a world-traveling member of the air force and navy during and after WWII, successful doctor, father of seven, and loyal husband.

He graciously took us to dinner and I insisted on hearing his stories of London life shortly after the blitz. Turns out he lived in a hotel for a few weeks very near where I lived last semester in the Royal Borough of Kensington. It’s exciting to think that we’ve both walked down the same streets, connected in such a distant way.

P’s grandpa Richard (right) freshly out of med school with a friend.

Afterwards everyone was exhausted but I couldn’t hide my curiousity. P’s mother grew up in this house and it is saturated with memories of rich childhoods. Also, P’s grandmother Jean passed away over a decade ago but her clothes still hang in all the closets, making the space a quiet shrine to her memory. Portraits of her at glamourous dinner parties and family vacations throughout her life litter the walls and tabletops. She certainly was a fabulous woman. Every once in a while P’s mom will remember her as constantly emanating a JackieO vibe, American perfection in every way.

Jean and Richard

Turning down the bed in my (separate, naturally) bedroom, I couldn’t help but peel back the closet doors to see what remnants of this woman’s incredible wardrobe still remained. I was in the kid’s old room so not much to find, but this beautiful floral blazer and a very groovy chiffon dress. In a second closet was a gold mine of Richard’s tailored suits and amazing collection of Burberry oxford shirts. P’s grandma wasn’t the only one with a fine taste for clothing!

 

The best thing I found was this small book with a black and white picture of one of P’s aunts on the cover, arm and arm with a dashing young man. Inside was a picture of twenty or more debs, decked out in elbow-length gloves and white gowns for their Coming Out Ball. I couldn’t find a date or list of names of the girls, but the old glamour of this scenario still has me reeling. I love thinking that that night must have been such a milestone for those girls. I can’t wait to meet P’s aunt and ask her about the experience.

 

 

 

 

This fascination for generations past is the same motivation that pulls me toward the Victoria and Albert. I haven’t gotten anywhere near visiting all of the galleries and museums in London but whenever I find a spare hour or two, I constantly find myself gravitating toward the V&A. The collections never fail to tell a story, and I can’t resist the allure of the unknown. No matter how many times I wander its halls, I always find a room I’ve never seen before.

Next stop: Denver, CO

ttyl,

Maria Nichole


The Great American Roadtrip Day One: Chicago

The Great American Roadtrip has begun! We’ve just made it to our first stop, Chicago, IL.

Enter rush hour:

Currently over staying my welcome an open-air kitchen called Brett’s across from the Vale Gallery.

One thing that I love about this city is its true Midwestern roots. Here I feel comfortable tacking on my yes pleases and thank you very muches. Even the over-worked late-for-a-meeting power mom juggling the blackberry/iphone/ipad trifecta will always add a “please” after commanding soy in her latte (as just witnessed at Brett’s).

Even though it’s often overlooked, street style is alive and well in Chicago and the people know it. It may be more laid back than Milan or London, lots more business ladies in nice flats, professional guys loving the Naturalizer trend, but folks still look sharp in their way.

I’m always slightly baffled on the subject of the maxi dress. On a short frame, they drown me! Thus, I’ve sequestered these beautes to seaside vacays and cruiseliners. Thanks to the working women of Chicago, however, my mind has changed.

I saw hundreds of combinations of chic AND work-appropriate maxi dresses that beat the summer heat while remaining professional. I was so inspired, I had to make a Polyvore styleboard. Check it out below!

Next stop: Omaha, NE
ttyl,
Maria Nichole
MaxiRad

 


Snap dress / Alice + Olivia scoop neck dress, $195 / ASOS pointy toe flat / American Apparel kitten heel pumps / Hermes tote / Club Monaco clutch handbag / Rebecca Minkoff handbag / Mawi gem jewelry, $215 / Casio yellow gold jewelry, $61 / Tom Binns necklace, $1,475 / Mawi white pearl jewelry / Illesteva tortoise sunglasses, $255 / American Apparel round frame sunglasses / Club Monaco reversible belt

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


Midsummer Muses

Image

image from karentorrisibeading.com.au

In preparation for my first semester at Central Saint Martins this fall, I’ve taken to indulging my crafty side. Check out the project I’m in the midst of right now:

(photo to come shortly)

Binge-ing on DIY sites and sifting through Youtube videos day after day, I have finally found something incredible. I had never heard of tambour beading until yesterday, and now I absolutely must try my hand at the amazing art form. It kind of seems like a dying technique, not many people know how to do it anymore. Even still, no machine has been able to match the intricacy and detail as a hand-embroidered tambour piece which is even cooler!

The art has been pioneered by French atelier Lesage and Co. They’re who you can credit the five plus digit prices to on anything involving beads, sequins, and haute couture. Case in point, this video:

And also this one:

Thanks to Professor Robert Haven from the University of Kentucky, I plan on taking a full tambour embroidery course from a friend of his in Kent once I return to England this fall. I CANNOT wait. In the meantime all I can do is drool over google images and dream up what kind of awesome creations I’ll be able to whip up. With lots of practice, of course.

ttyl,

Maria Nichole