Flashy shoes

There's an essay in Michelle Tea's totally kick ass book How to Grow Up called Fashion Victim about her love of fashion that I read three times in a row. I read these fourteen words in particular over and over:

"... the only art form we all participate in every single day of our lives..."

YES, THAT. I knew it in fourth grade and I wanted in. I wore neon green suspenders, guys, and people made fun of them. Fourth grade me gave no fucks. I was amazing. I went through an electric blue period. A friend in sixth grade told me she liked that I had a sense of style, that I didn't just wear clothes. I remember thinking that was the best compliment I could ever get.

I watched a lot of old movies and obsessed over the clothes. I flipped through Vogue at the library and eventually spent my own allowance money on those giant, self esteem destroying issues filled with pretty people in beautiful clothes. I paid attention to people's clothes - on the el, in restaurants, everywhere. I may have had a sense of style but I wanted to have great style. It was art and I searched for it everywhere.

In high school, I wasn't quite as carefree as I was in fourth grade with my neon green suspenders. But, I still poured over fashion magazines and I discovered thrift shopping while visiting my grandparents in Florida after 8th grade. Life forever changed. My first vintage dress was a 60s black eyelet wiggle dress. It was one dollar. There were a lot of thrifted black dresses. There was a rummage sale every June that I lived for throughout high school. Parental eyes rolled, a lot, and I still dream about things I passed up in Florida thrift stores in the 90s. 

Favorite garments and shoes have included: that first black eyelet dress, a black fifties dress with a circle skirt with cherries and straw hats on it that is still hanging in my closet, a black 60's mini dress with silk chiffon sleeves that was worn to multiple high school dances by a number of friends, a vintage Pucci miniskirt, a vintage dress that my parents referred to as my vintage waitress uniform, a total Wednesday Addams dress that I wore with shoes that had square toes and square buckles, a vintage pink cardigan with rhinestones that I've had since high school, brown cowboy boots that disappeared mysteriously, one of my mother's calico peasant tops, a vintage hot pink crushed velvet short sleeve blazer that I've had forever and wore a few weeks ago, and the shiny gold t-shirt I am wearing now. 

Style icons have included: Princess Dahla and Simone from the Pink Panther and everyone in The Party*, Lucy Ricardo, Janis Joplin, Angelica Huston, Courtney Love, Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park and Barbarella, all the Pre-Raphaelite babes, Iona from Pretty in Pink...

So, I've been thinking a lot about what changed. Why did I spent an entire decade wearing boring clothes? My old job was not good for my self esteem, certainly. I worked with thin women who would eat half a muffin and say they felt like cows. And I recently remembered something weird. My initial interview for the job went great. I was sure I had it. But, days went by and I wasn't hearing anything. My friend who got me the interview asked what I wore to the interview. A slightly more professional version of my late nineties uniform: A blue button down shirt, a vintage knee length black and white floral skirt, black tights and black and white wing tips. Oh, he said. Those shoes may have been too flashy for him (my soon to be boss), he said. I totally believed my friend. He was a September Issue** buddy. He wouldn't steer me wrong. But he did. I got the job and immediately toned down my wardrobe. On the rare occasion that I dressed funkier and let a little more of my actual personality show through, my boss almost always noticed and was complimentary. But, I felt in over my head and out of place so much of the time at that job, I think I didn't want to attract attention. No flashy shoes for me. 

Then, before I moved to Portland, I got rid of all my work clothes. I didn't want to be that person anymore. It left me with pajamas, ill fitting blue jeans, tshirts, lots of funky skirts, many I'd made myself, and crazy good dresses that I bought, dreaming of a day where I would feel like myself again.

An aside: Simon Doonan said his favorite fashion advice is to throw away all your work clothes and only wear party clothes, every day, forever. 

I didn't quite do that but we were pretty broke from the move so buying new clothes wasn't really an option. So, some of those crazy good dresses were finally getting worn. I've also lucked out in the clothing swap department over the last few years. I felt like me again but I'd still occasionally get in ruts, though, wearing the same three outfits over and over or wearing pajama pants for days on end. Last fall, I decided that needed to stop. I had to get dressed every single day and start digging deeper in the closet.

I was doing good and things only got better once I started working at Wanderlust. I had a lot of good vintage in my closet already but just being around all those awesome dresses has made me step up my game. I mix a lot of new and vintage. I wear bright colors and big prints. My closet makes me happy even if I'm always on the search for something weirdly specific. Currently: good leopard flats. 

When someone tells me I've got great style, I'm pretty sure fourth grade me would be pleased with how far we've come even if she wonders what happened to those suspenders.***

While I don't wear my party clothes every single day, they sometimes get worn to the grocery store and almost all my shoes are flashy.



*Blake Edwards is the answer to many questions about me. Seriously.

**this is the first year I can remember when I haven't bought the September Issue of Vogue. No fucks left to give. I know the difference between pretty people in beautiful clothes and great style and great style in the real world is so much more satisfying. 

*** tell people when you dig their style or their dress or those rad shoes their wearing. They're not wearing them for you but they'll appreciate the compliment, all the same.

2015, I like the way you work it

I had big plans. New year, new website. But then, Life. Isn't that always the way? But here we are and I'm here to tell you, the stuff that has gotten in the way has been worth it.

2014 was rough. I could go on and on about it but I'm not going to. As that annoying inspirational quote I see on Pinterest ALL. THE. TIME. says, "How can you move on to the next chapter if you are constantly re-reading the last?" I hate it when inspirational quotes have a point. It's the worst, right? 

Instead, I'm going to tell you about New Years Eve...

I need to be clear about something... if I had expectations, they were low. 2014 knocked me on my ass. I didn't have it in me to get real excited. 

My husband, Shawn (aka Shampton) is in a intergalactic Marching Band from Outer Space called LoveBomb Go-Go. They all dress in silver and white and my favorite thing about the band is watching people stumble upon them. The look on their faces is always, "I don't know what's happening but I think like it." 

Anyway, they decided the best way to spend New Years was crashing parties. (They prearranged the crashing. Just showing up with 18 people and horns and drums would be rude. They're space freaks, not space assholes.) So, at the first place they crashed I knew this was going to be one of my best New Year's Eves ever. They played and were fantastic but the crowd all looked like something magical had happened to them. That's how it went at the second location and the third. At the fourth and last, we counted down to midnight. Pretty great. After that, most of the band headed to a party where former members of the band were playing in big band at 1:00 AM. Shawn and I were pretty psyched. 

We arrived at the party and were immediately greeted by friendly faces and big hugs. We spent the first half hour we were at this party moving from hug to hug, all from people I was delighted to see. I was also having a really good time people watching between hugs. People were DRESSED UP. I mean, Shawn was dressed in his LoveBomb GoGo costume and I was in a silver dress and we weren't the best dressed, BY FAR. We looked good but dang. At almost one o'clock, I felt pretty fucking good about 2015 so far. And then...

I ran into a friend who'd lost some cash. I don't know about you but losing cash makes me feel like the worst adult ever. It's like I can hear my Grandpa's voice in my head saying, "Money doesn't grow on trees, kid!" Ugh. So, I felt her pain. She was bummed. I was bummed for her.

The band started. We danced. And danced some more. We were good. So good another friend made me try and show her a few moves. She & I were doing pretty good until we looked over and saw Shawn and her guy swing dancing together and we lost our shit laughing. 

At some point, I took a break and grabbed some water. My friend who had lost her money? She found it. We agreed this was an auspicious sign for 2015. 

The night went on and was amazing. We danced, chatted with friends and kissed, A LOT. So much that multiple friends commented on how much we'd made out at that party. I don't know what to say. He is my favorite person to make out with, after all, and we did look fine

Here's a thing you should know about me: I've spent the bulk of my adult life feeling disappointed in parties. I thought that parties when you became an adult were like parties in movies. Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther, The Party... These are my favorites and they all feature CRAZY parties. 

Once, in Amsterdam, with a group of friends, we had to climb over a table to get to our seats at a Tapas restaurant. The room was raucous and the booze was free flowing. I had a moment that night when I looked around the table at my friends and thought, "this is it and it's so much better than the movies." 

We used to throw giant Halloween parties and one year a friend showed up in a gorilla suit just because I asked him to. That was also pretty fucking great. 

There was also that Fat Tuesday oh so many years ago. That's a story for another time.

But this New Year's Eve was absolutely the party of my childhood dreams and so much better than the movies. It felt like anything could happen. It's left me feeling hopeful about 2015 and life in general. 

(Confession: I wrote this blog post and then let it sit. I told myself I just needed to write the first blog post and then I'd launch the site. I wrote it and then... Right. But I want to be clear: I thought about launching the site a dozen times. I just didn't. I thought it was because I'm lazy. Last night I figured out the real reason why. The blog post didn't end there. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.)

LoveBomb Go-Go opened for Sir Mix-a-Lot. I swear you couldn't come up with a more Portland way to spend Valentine's Day. The marching band was amazing. The crowd was totally into them and Shawn busted out some dance moves while playing that made me giggle. He told me that was my real Valentine. After they were done, he and I wandered the neighborhood in search of food and to kill some time. We walked up to an English Pub behind six people in really impressive Sock Monkey costumes - hand knit bodies, giant heads, snarking on Valentine's Day. Shawn was in his LoveBomb costume and joked that for once, he wasn't the weirdest person in the room. We were waiting for our food and talking and a sock monkey walked by and I don't know that I ever stopped laughing or smiling for the rest of the night.

2015. You're awesome so far. Keep it up.