Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Enduring Love

What are, beyond all doubt, the MOST favorite style of shoes in the closet...anyone?

The pointy toe pumps. What? No one is surprised? Well. A child of the '80s, I am to the core.

It's said that the "magical age" when your musical taste is formed, is from fourteen to twenty-four. And I think that may very well be true for style as well. I grew up in the late 1970s (I was thirteen in 1980, which accounts for some stylistic bleed-through from the previous decade), and twenty-one in 1988. And while my musical taste is fairly wide-ranging, my style tastes are fairly straightforward.

Remember this?

I never wore socks with my pumps. But. The pointy-toe pump, which was huge in my formative decade, felt like my first introduction to really grown-up heels. The Borderline video, (in which Madonna is wearing the above outfit) was released in 1984, when I was a junior in high school. Seventeen years old. Impressionable? Oh, yeah.

Is it any wonder that for my first retail job, two years later, my first heeled shoe purchase was something like these:

Again - no socks for me. But these look very similar to the pumps I several colors. 

And so now, many more years later than I care to count, my shoe wardrobe staples are pointy-toe pumps:

I've shared these before, but they are quite likely my #1 favorite pair. The colors, the embroidery, the fact that they were a chance find at a DSW...they're a Holy Grail that I didn't even know existed, until I came across it. 

And these, too - the sister shoes that I found on eBay after many years of dedicated, if ridiculously optimistic, searching:


And do you know what I love to wear them with? Besides skinny jeans, of course (which was a very eighties thing)...pencil skirts and a tank top. Which was ALSO a very eighties thing. I mean, *what* is Madonna wearing, in the photo above?? No coincidence, I think. Because if you were a girl in the 1980s, she was the leader and we were her dutiful style followers.

The decade definitely informed my personal style, through its colorful-ness (Rubik's cube, neon brights, boldly saturated hues), big jewelry, skinnies (Guess jeans with the zips at the ankle...). Almost everything I still love today stems from that time.

These...the source is lost, but I think it was Macy's. From Madonna's Truth or Dare shoe line. So perfectly eighties - for a shoe that was created decades later - showing that the Material Girl is still nailing it. Pointy toe pumps 4EVER as we might have scrawled on a handwritten note, back in those old-school days. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Point Your Toes

Fun pointy-toe pumps:

Sold out in the blue, but still available in black and some other options. A beautiful deep blue, not-quite-navy and edging toward, but not so in-your-face-as cobalt. Note that mid-height heel, also. The key word here is manageable. :)

And they go so perfectly with:

Which is a slightly less electric blue than it looks. When I end up with colors that I normally don't have in my closet, it seems that I also end up finding things to go with them. :) But that blue heel would also be beautiful with:


with this:

 or bold silver jewelry.  A pair of hoop earrings, maybe a cuff or some bangles, and voila! A simple summer outfit. Sometimes the things that seem least wearable, become closet staples with just a few tweaks. :)

Ballet Flats, Two

A few more that I've added, in my ongoing quest to be able to keep my back happy:

Banana Republic, sold out (Ashley is the name; some are still available on eBay)

Nine West, oldies but goodies. I've had these for a long time - for quite a while they were my only flats. How times change...

Nine West. These are a couple of seasons old; the newer colors / prints are still on the web site.

And I wish I'd gotten these:

before they sold out of this fabric. I got the pump, which I love. But I'll keep stalking eBay for the flat. It's such a happy color combination! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ballet Flats

**Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted here. A lot has happened, a lot has changed. I'm acknowledging that, but I'm also going to gloss right over it and move straight on to shoes again. :) **

As I've gotten older (and dammit, no magic aging-stopping potion having yet been discovered or invented), I am finding that I can't wear my beloved heels as often as I would like. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with (among other things) degenerative disc disease in my neck and back. And that, unfortunately, means less heels-wearing. *pout*

So. I'm slowly making the transition to flats (and lower heels...because I can't give them all up quite yet). And of course, I don't want to wear just any flats. I want some fun details (especially for my shoe-box-sized feet. Anything to distract!

Here are some of the choices I've made space for in the closet:

Sparklies from Betsy Johnson. Love the low cuts on the sides, the low-key glam, and they're actually quite comfy. Perfection with skinny jeans. 

Jessica Simpson. Just about the simplest, most basic, most comfortable black ballet flats ever. And of course, a wee bit of rhinestone detail at the cap toe. Cute enough to wear with a dress because of their slightly less boxy / ballerina shape. 

Sam Edelman. I've been looking for red flats for a while, and these are a lovely deep red with a subtle, feminine scallop at the vamp. Available in several colors. I may have to order another pair, possibly these:

Anyone want to share their own favorites? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Souvenirs and DIY, Part III

I've only shared a portion of my (rather massive) beaded jewelry's an addiction of the best kind. I've a few more to show today..

The big turquoise pendant (sadly, I cannot remember exactly which mine, but it's an American turquoise) and the vintage brownish beads are both from Santa Fe. I almost didn't buy either of them; I was visiting Santa Fe just as I was beginning to learn jewelry fabrication, and I knew that learning to set gems would mean that I wouldn't be buying and using beads much. But I wanted a souvenir (or course!) and turquoise is a big weakness of mine. :)

Mixing textures again - the pendant is all smooth summer-sky blue, while the brownish beads are faceted, with just a smidge of blue on the sides. I paired them with some Bali bead squares to break up the curves. I also felt that the brown beads alone were a little un-oomphy. Adding the squares just brought everything together.

Next up: bright, bright green chrysoprase diamonds, counterpointing deeper emerald green vintage glass from a bead store in Asheville, NC. The beads are smaller than I usually use, and don't look so exciting here, but the whole necklace is long enough to be tripled around the neck, and worn like that, all the green packs a punch. It's one of my favorite things to wear with a black and white outfit. :)

Also, both beads have a shiny finish, which I usually don't put together, but the sharp shape and facets on the chrysoprase, and the soft, rounded facets on the glass beads are different enough that it works.

Now it's a bit more wowza! 

The beads above are mot souvenirs, but some fun beads from my very early hobby days, when beads were not overflowing in the aisles of Michael's and any other craft-oriented store you can imagine.

I first began designing jewelry with beads in 1993, and back then, it wasn't something that was widely done. There were very few bead stores. The internet was not chock-full of bead suppliers' web sites - if you were lucky, you got a catalog from some distant supplier and you ordered...and waited...and hoped that the beads were "worth it" once you saw them in when you found something interesting locally, you rejoiced, no matter how unusual or odd it might be. And these happen to be both. :) They were found somewhere in Phoenix...but where I found them is lost to time...

They're colorfully patterned plastic. I've never seen anything like them. And normally I'm a snob about plastic beads, but these are so unusual that I bought all the store had - which wasn't much, maybe 30 beads - and have hoarded them ever since. :)  I've managed to put two sets (they were all slightly different pattern / color combos) into necklaces, but I still have one set tucked away in my stash.

They have a very slight texture, but also a high sheen, very reflective. And the patterning is lovely, like stained glass. They're paired with Bali beads (remember, I made a lot of these necklaces in the nineties, and Bali beads were hugely popular then - also silver was cheap, so you could buy all these silver beads for a song, relatively speaking), partially because *everything* I tried to put them with was just too much - too clashing, or distracting - or conversely, not enough (too bland). So silver beads were the answer.  :)

The above beads are definitely travel souvenirs...with their own story...

Several years ago, my husband had to travel to Budapest for work. And of course, I joined him (how would I miss that!!). The trip was in March, and Eastern Europe is COLD in March (I mean, cold cold cold). And it was occasionally rainy. BUT it didn't matter...we were in Budapest! It was an amazing trip, though I didn't find myself wanting to travel around alone as much as if we were in someplace like France...the money, the language (English was not widely spoken, and I don't know Hungarian), everything was just a bit more difficult. So on the days while my husband was in conferences, I stayed fairly close to the hotel for my shopping and sightseeing. However, one of Brett's colleagues knew that I made jewelry, and he found out that there was a bead store in Budapest. And he went to the trouble of getting me directions to I sort of felt obligated to figure out the bus, train, and then the walk of several blocks to find the store. So I did. They didn't have a big selection. And there was a language barrier....eventually I just put my money on the counter and the saleswoman picked out the right amount (I assume!) for the purchase. And then I reversed the walking, train-ing, bus-ing process back to the hotel. It was exhausting (and did I mention cold??). But I ended up with a wonderful reminder of the visit. Perhaps no souvenir beads have been worked for harder than these. :)

There are only five of the striped glass beads, so they hang down at the center of the necklace for weight as well as design (this is another necklace that can be doubled or worn as one long necklace) . The small turquoise beads are glass and the wooden donuts are unremarkable...except that they're from Hungary.  :). Shiny, matte, faceted - working my texture mix. And a big thank you to Michael, the colleague who made me do it! Now, of course, I'm so glad I did. :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Souvenirs and DIY, part II

In almost every area of my life, I am decidedly NOT a DIY girl. But I got into making my own jewelry as a hobby because I wanted original, colorful, fun accessories that I just couldn't find anywhere. It's a love affair that started in the early 1990s and has never let up..

In my prior post, I shared some of my handmade souvenir bead necklaces. While I love to collect travel souvenirs (beads or otherwise), some of the jewelry I've made over the years was simply for the satisfaction of designing, making, and wearing it. And I've worn a lot of these often - I'm a believer in longevity.  :)

Swirly glass beads, apatite nuggets, and aquamarine. I can't even remember where the glass beads are from; I held on to them for many years before the gem nuggets were purchased. They just *look* like a cool drink...or an ocean visit.  :)

I use a lot of blues and greens in my creations. :)

But I use quite a bit of brown, too. These are lampworked beads, with a leopardskin pattern, faceted cat's eye beads (which had a moment in the nineties), and hematite, leading to a central Balinese pendant that my husband bought me. I added another Bali bead as a dangle (Bali beads had an even bigger moment in the nineties and the early aughts).

Closeup of the lampwork to show the leopard spots. :)

Pendant close up - Balinesian artisans are TOPS at this kind of work, and while it's not inexpensive, it's truly beautiful. There's quite a distinction between the *actual* Bali silver work and the reproductions. For the novice it can be hard to tell, but typically a significant price difference will indicate that you're buying the real thing.

These red, multicolored beads, as far as I know, are "end of day" beads. The term refers to glassmakers using up remaining molten glass in their pots at the end of the day, making these beads all somewhat different from each other as the glass was swirled together and made into beads:

Gorgeous patterning. I found these in two shapes, the round and the oblong, and paired them with small red glass squares to contrast all the soft roundness with a harder-edged shape. This strand is long enough to be worn doubled, which is how I usually wear it. I actually found the glass beads in a fabric remnant store - a HUGE warehouse of fabric remnants and remains...they had several big, big cardboard boxes FULL of beads, buttons, snaps, zippers, hooks, and other associated geegaws that have anything to do with fabric. It was all thrown in together, and I dug around for a while until I had enough to make a necklace. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Souvenirs and DIY, Part I

Spring is coming, in bits and pieces, and I just changed out my closet to spring/summer (call me hopeful). I know we've still got some cold days ahead, but I'm ready for spring and summer! Though I love fall, it always seems too short, and I really end up so busy during that time of year that I don't really get to enjoy my wardrobe. But spring...that's a whole 'nother deal.

My spring and summer uniform looks something like this:

tank tops and skirts (though I'm not much of a pattern mixer). Or dresses:

I love these kinds of clothing silhouettes because they're EASY - most of my tanks are black or white, though the skirts may be any color of the rainbow (or several at once) - and my dresses are usually day- or sundress style, often in prints. 

The great thing about dressing this way, besides the fact that it never goes "out" of style (which means I can almost always find replacement items when necessary), is that it's a great canvas for accessories...namely, *jewelry*.  :)

Though I make my living fabricating jewelry, I made beaded jewelry as a hobby for nearly a decade before it became my career. And one of the things I nearly always did (and still occasionally do) was buy beads when I traveled, and then I'd come home and make them into jewelry.

Now that spring's almost here, I'm getting excited about bringing out the jewelry again. I try to wear it in winter too, but I am usually in something basic, black, WARM, and layered up for winter, so jewelry is just an annoying extra during those months. So it sits in the jewelry trays (I have far, far too much for a mere jewelry "box")  :)  and waits for the weather to change.

This is one of the first necklaces I made with souvenir beads, from a trip to Prescott (before my parents moved there). The browns and the blues are both vintage glass, and the strand is long enough to wear doubled or as a single.

I always look for opposing shapes and textures, and  I really like contrasting shiny and matte. The blue beads are cube shaped, drilled on the corners, and  they're matte finished with flecks inside. The brown beads are faceted on both the outer edges and on the big band across the middle. The whole necklace has a sort of 1920s look.

Though I prefer to use natural colored gemstones almost exclusively for the jewelry I design and fabricate for my business, I'm much more open to using "whatever" in my personal creations. This is a combination of Russian hand-painted beads, vintage glass, and a big ol' amazonite gem pendant.

There are also a few amazonite "tube" beads spaced in as well. The colors are bold and bright but they make me happy. When I'm not making an endless chain of beads, I like to use specialty clasps like the one above. It's pewter and the two parts come together to form a butterfly. Both the clasp and pendant are souvenirs from a bead store in Raleigh, NC, where I used to teach classes.

I love the detail work on the painted beads. And they co-ordinate amazingly well with the smaller vintage glass beads...they were found several years apart, so the amazonite pendant (which I've had for even longer) had to wait for just the right partners. Patience, grasshopper.  :)

This was a souvenir of a gem-buying trip a few years ago, in Tucson, AZ. I normally buy cabochons, but I saw this strand of rough-hewn, multicolored tourmaline and couldn't resist. They were a bit pricey (tourmaline is priced more like a precious, than a semi-precious, gem) but they are stunning:

look at how those greens are almost lit from within! Usually I will put together necklaces with different types and shapes of beads, but these beauties needed nothing else to show them off. :)