Juror Style: To Serve, To Party

One of the things I miss about living in New York is riding the subway and walking on the sidewalks with strangers. People-watching is a pastime that never gets old for me. It’s simply not as easy to have that everyday exposure to the masses in LA, but walking on the Venice boardwalk and shopping in thrift stores provides a similar opportunity for observation of so many different types of people in one place. Add to that: jury duty.

I spent the first hour in the juror waiting room yesterday looking around, pretending to read my book while discretely spying on the strangers around me—checking out what they brought with them, what they were doing to pass the time, and what they were wearing. I liked how the woman who gave us instructions wore a body-hugging leopard dress that matched her tough demeanor. When she was giving us instructions and a juror picked up a cell phone call, Ms. Leopard announced that she was going to pause until there was no interference in the room and then she glared at the juror, waiting for her to finish. Oh yeah, she had attitude.

Most people were dressed business casual, which is what Ms. Leopard told us was expected of jurors selected to serve on cases. I saw one man and one woman dressed in buttoned-up suits (she worked on her laptop all morning, he napped). A woman with a cute bob wore plaid Converse Chuck Taylors with her skinny jeans and pullover sweater, and a woman sitting a seat away from me had pointy black high-heeled boots and big Carmela Soprano hair I was tempted to reach out and touch. Then there was the guy I recognized as a soap actor who wore denim on denim (button-down shirt and jeans) and almost as much hair product as Mrs. Soprano.

All day, I was on the lookout to see if there were any covetable articles of clothing or accessories, but I only spotted a cute pair of black ballet flats with bows and a Marc Jacobs bag I’d consider for myself. And maybe a tuxedo T-shirt; my favorite look was from the guy on the security line in jeans, sneakers, and a black and white tuxedo-print tee. I could tell from his age that he wasn’t around for the shirt’s trendy heyday in the ’80s. But if he’d been in the same room with me, I might have asked him if he remembered the hilarious line from the John C. Reilly character in “Talladega Nights” about Jesus in the tuxedo T-shirt (clip here). Now I’m keen on the shirt and will keep an eye out for one when I’m on my next thrift store mission in search of shirts to upcycle.

Crocodile Love: Making it Work

Photo: Courtesy of Lacoste/Catherine Malandrino

Photos of Catherine Malandrino’s collection for Lacoste were released today (on sale next month) and I’m looking to it for inspiration on how I can up-style the Lacoste polo shirt already hanging in my closet. It’s been worn only a handful of times and I want to love it; the fit is great, the crocodile is adorable, it’s can’t-go-wrong-black, but it’s so…. preppy. I like preppy on other people, but it doesn’t feel quite right on me. So up-styling here for me means de-prepping. Because I always try to shop my closet before acquiring anything else, accessorizing with jewelry is my best and easiest option. I’m most likely to wear the shirt with denim cut-offs or jeans and black Chuck Taylors or strappy sandals, but I might try to pair the shirt with a long maxi skirt and Obi belt. Shown with DIY bleached Levi’s, two vintage black beaded necklaces with a clear one made from a yard sale chandelier’s crystal beads; also shown, a black beaded necklace layered with a vintage cameo on a leather cord and an upcycled vintage rosary bead necklace (I replaced the cross with a mermaid charm)… Music in my head: Elton John’s “Crocodile Love.”

Wonder Woman: Classic Beats New

My amazing mom educated me early on the evils of sexism and frowned upon TV shows in which she felt women were objectifed. “Wonder Woman” was one of these shows. I liked to see a girl superhero in action and thought the gold lasso and red boots were cool, but I can see her point about the costume being impractical. NBC revealed the look of the new “Wonder Woman” today and this doesn’t look like progress or an improvement. Boobs still popping out and ribs still too constrained by the corset (come on, girl’s gotta move to fight evil and there’s no time to worry about popping out). And blue boots? With latex leggings? What happened to the stars? I’d like to see her spin and change into something better.

Irish Pride: Upcycled Accessories

Showing my pride on St. Patrick’s Day today with these accessories, modeled on Buttons, my childhood teddy bear. The headband is a stip of fabric from a men’s necktie with shamrocks; the Claddagh charm is hanging on a strip of fabric from a recycled T-shirt. 

Ad Note: Rafael Nadal in Jeans

Two questions about this Rafael Nadal ad for Armani Jeans (I had to look at the photo again to remind myself what the ad is for…): Are we supposed to be looking at the jeans in this ad? And are we supposed to be paying attention to the road?

Glee Look: Red Flower in the Hair

Red Flower hair clip from Kocajo on Etsy

Red flower from Hot Pink and Sequins on Etsy

Flower headband from Rockstarlette on Etsy

Last week’s “Glee” featured a tango version of “Kiss,” with Matthew Morrison dancing with guest star Gwyneth Paltrow. Good song, good dance (and good show), and all I could think about was how I loved the red flower in Paltrow’s hair. Flower clenched between the teeth? Not practical in everyday life, but a flower in your hair can be either sweet (flower child) or sexy (tango dancer). A halter top or dress with a red flower in your hair and dainty earrings and you’re good to go. The flowers above come from Etsy sellers who use recycled materials for their handiwork; the real hibiscus flower on top was spotted in the neighborhood.

Fine Feathered Trend

Here’s a vendor selling feather jewelry on the boardwalk in Venice—a sure sign that a trend has hit the mainstream (and maybe already peaked?). It’s another ’80s style comeback and I like this one a whole lot more than the return of the scrunchie. When I was a teen, wearing feathers in your hair was all the rage and we wore colorful dyed ones attached to roach clips. (Because I was a good girl, I had no idea about the more common use of a roach clip—neither did my grandmother when she bought it for me at a shop in the mall.) The one I had for my hair was lavender and I clipped it behind my ear so that it peaked out from underneath my permed curls. Now I’m less inclined to wear actual feathers but am still drawn to the feather motif and found some cute handmade and vintage items on Etsy from fellow sellers on the EcoEtsy team to make a “Birds of a feather…” treasury.

Eyes Everywhere

JR, the artist awarded the TED prize for his photographic murals, left his mark in my neighborhood last week with a close-up of a man’s piercing eyes. Yesterday, I saw a guy wearing a shirt with a print of the classic cover of “The Great Gatsby.” This morning, NY magazine’s “The Cut” blog posted a fashion week shot of a runway model with a Man Ray eye hat. Just purchased from Etsy: this milagro eye charm, said to offer protection from the evil eye. I’ll attach it to a necklace or bracelet.

Kid Rocks: Wild & Crazy Hair

My goddaughter Mary, 9, is a girl who likes to have fun with fashion, often putting together outfits that are unexpected and bold (and not just when she’s playing dress-up). For this look, her equally stylish mom braided her hair before bedtime to give her soft, natural waves and then added a few braids to her ponytail, using hairbands I sent her that have pieces of recycled fabric scraps tied to the band (leopard, grey fleece, camouflage).

This With That: Scarf on Bag

I never tire of my Goyard bag, but I frequently employ the scarf-tied-to-the-handle trick for some added flair. Though I never try to match a scarf to a bag, I like how the pattern on this thrift store scarf has a similar hand-drawn affect.

Leopard Love

My friend WendyB has written frequently about her love of leopard. Take a look at the Patrick Kelly leopard dress on her. She positively roars in that leopard, but I’m more of a fraidy cat (yep, puns intended). I have a fondness for leopard print, but I’ve always been shy about it and stick to a few choice accessories. Best ones: the London Sole ballet flats I wear with jeans (skinny or wide-legged look best) and a black top or sweater; and a long skinny scarf I wear in my hair on good or bad hair days. (See the scarf modeled above on Buttons, my childhood teddy bear.) I’ve been less inclined to wear leopard clothing, but found a blouse during one of my recent thrifting missions for my Etsy shop. It’s got a leopard print with roses and seemed like a good find on the rack, but I wasn’t sure of the shirt’s age or origin and I won’t sell list anything in the vintage section of my shop unless I’m sure of its history. Then I tried it on and it became mine. Another recent thrift store find was a jersey T-shirt in a leopard print, but I discovered a hole in it after bringing it home so I’m using the fabric to make accessories, including hair bands and jersey necklaces like the one pictured. Next up: upcycled shirts with leopard fabric details I’m adding to the neckline. On a roll…. Wendy also posted that fellow blogger Sheila has declared this to be leopard week. Today, I’m representing with my flats.

Fantasyland Memories

Here’s the ID bracelet mentioned previously in a post on things I wear that make me feel young. I made this bracelet when I was a teen, using the glass turquoise beads from a broken set of rosary beads and lettered beads I got from a shop on Long Island called Fantasyland. My mother shopped at Fantasyland for all her crafting needs—and it was one of my favorite places for tagging along. Mom went to the section with dried flowers and other materials for her wreath-making and flower-arranging; I went to the bead section and marveled at all the colors and varieties. On a counter in the jewelry section was a large fishbowl filled with hundreds of lettered beads and I remember digging for the letters in my name. The first bracelet I made was by stringing those lettered beads with colored plastic ones on elastic thread. Later I taught myself to cut and twist wire to make chains of beads (using rosary beads as my model), but the elastic bracelet was a hit with junior high friends who paid me to make them similar bracelets and necklaces. I was happy for my own reason to visit Fantasyland and to collect some cash for doing something that was so much fun. Making stuff, including jewelry, still ranks as one of my favorite activities. When I recently consolidated all my beads and jewelry-making materials in plastic bins, I found the pictured Fantasyland postcard and other beads acquired way back when—including the remaining beads from the rosary used to make the ID bracelet, which I put to use by making the dangly earrings seen to the right of the bracelet.

Grown Girls Dream of Unicorns, Too

Wise people say you should do what you love; for those in business, that translates to selling what you love. When I shipped this vintage unicorn locket/pendant to a buyer, I packed it up slowly, thinking a bit woefully about how I liked it enough to want to keep it. When I shop for my Etsy shop—for everything from vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories to T-shirts I then remake into upcycled styles—I choose what I love. In the beginning, I wanted to keep it all. Now, I will sometimes get to the point of photographing an item when I reconsider—just for a moment or two. I paused with the unicorn pendant. A unicorn pendant! Of course, I’m happy to make a sale and excited that someone out there will wear it and treasure it. But I’m going to be on the lookout for another unicorn pendant to call my own.

Closet-Cleaning: Love It or Lose It

I read about a survey in which the average English woman was said to own more than 20 pieces of clothing she never wears. You know, the neglected items that hang at the back of the closet or get pushed to the bottom of the dresser drawer. I’m betting the same would hold true for American women. I get it. I’ve purchased items that have never gone into heavy rotation—and some I’ve never worn at all. Sometimes I find myself wanting to love an item and trying to talk myself into loving it. It might be by a designer I usually love, it might have been a total steal, it might be perfect except for the way it hangs on my hips. It just doesn’t look right? It’s gone. It just doesn’t feel right? Gone. I have adopted a strict closet admittance policy: I have to love it. It has to fit right and feel right and look right. Love it or lose it, plain and simple.

I am a big thrift shopper and encounter huge bargains regularly and this has made me discriminating—even if it’s a Marc Jacobs top with a five dollar price tag, I won’t get it if it’s the wrong size or in a color I don’t like to wear. (Exception to the rule: if it looks like something I could remake or alter it by employing some simple DIY tricks with a needle and thread, then I might get it…). Because I often find items I DO love while thrifting, I truly believe that what is trash to one woman really can be a treasure to another. I live for treasures. And for the items I have that don’t pass my love-it-or-lose-it test, there’s eBay. I went through the closet last week for another sweep and put the items online for treasure-hunters. A Levi’s jacket with nothing wrong with it? I have another denim jacket I adore and this one simply sat in the closet for a year. But someone else already scooped it up. I’ve got similar stories for the Theory pants, Trina Turk jacket, Barneys New York blouses and more….