Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pulling it All Together for a Formal Ball

So...my husband and I know this couple. The wife is from Mobile, Alabama. And she is a member of the Order of Polka Dots (yes, there is such a thing). And Mobile apparently hosts one heck of a Mardi Gras. Though New Orleans' Mardi Gras is better known, the Mobile celebration began in 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was even founded!

That's the history lesson part. :)  Our friends, being members of an Order, go home to Mobile to ride on floats and throw Mardi Gras beads, and also attend a formal ball. They've kindly been inviting us for years...and we've never gone. Time constraints, money constraints, whatever- we've just never done it. But this is the last year they'll attend the whole shebang; apparently there are younger members of the Order who (and I'm sure, deservedly so) want their time at the festivities.

So we committed. And that's where all the trouble started...

You may have guessed from reading this blog that I do not lead, in any way, a formal life. I certainly like to glam up, but most of my days are in clothes that decidedly not glam, as I work on my jewelry designs. I do have a formal dress, and one I LOVE, but I haven't worn it in....oh, about fifteen years. That's right, fifteen years!! I think the last time I wore it was in 2000, for our honeymoon (we took a cruise and they had formal nights where everyone dressed for dinner). And then later that year to my little brother's 30th party. But that's it. It hasn't seen the light of day since. And. you know, a lot of things can change in fifteen years. Stuff kind of shifts. 

I dragged my dress out of the closet and tried it on. Surprise! It fit! Well...mostly. It fit me everywhere except in the chest. I could get it on, but it was BURSTING in the bust area. Over the last fifteen years, I've managed to gain (and then fortunately lose) about fifteen pounds. That, plus gravity (I'm no youthful lass of twenty-five), meant that the "girls" have sort of...expanded. Short of surgery, there's no good way to shrink 'em back.

When we first decided to attend the ball, in January, I debated shopping for a new dress, but I decided instead to take my dress to my tailor (who is a wonder). I hated the idea of spending money on a new dress that I was unlikely to wear often. And the thing is, I LOVE this dress. My husband bought it for me when we were dating. We were on a trip to Chicago, at a Marshall Fields, and I needed something for an evening wedding. He splurged for me. Other than my wedding dress, I think it's the most expensive dress I own. And it's freakin' GORGEOUS.

I have no photos of it to share; back in 1999 when it was purchased, I didn't even think to try and get any from a web site. Could you even do that then...? And our cameras weren't digital; whatever personal photos I might have are tucked away in a large, chaotic box. So I'll show you this, instead:

It's sort of  like the dress above: it has spaghetti straps and a fitted bodice like this one, and then from the bottom of the bodice, which ends high on the thigh, it's all chiffon and floaty (no feathers like the one shown). The skirt is ankle-length and doesn't drape on the floor. It has tiny black beads sewn all over it in random patterns, and a thick band of beads which transitions the fitted bodice and the floaty skirt. My description makes it sound terrible, but I promise, it is a thing of beauty.

So. It's beautiful. And it has sentimental meaning to me. And it does. not. fit. in the bust. Off to the  tailor, who thinks she can make it work, and even for a reasonable price. I picked it up a week later, and voila! It fits wonderfully. Except...that now there's room for the "girls", but they need a bit of support. Fortunately I still have my strapless, low-back bra from my wedding dress, and that does the trick. 

The back straps are plain black, not jeweled like these, but that's the back of the dress (though mine doesn't come down quite so low). No way to wear a regular bra. Thank goodness I kept the one from the wedding! I thought several times about getting rid of it, but for some reason, never did. 

So I'm gowned, undergarmented, and of course I have accessories to wear. However, I do *not* have shoes. Really? Moi? No shoes?? Well, yes. I have lots of fun, funky shoes. Wedges. Classic pointy-toe pumps. Platforms. Metallics. Richly colored suedes. I've shown you most of them.  :)  But what I don't have, and haven't had in years, is a pair of evening shoes. I simply haven't needed any. The shoes I originally wore with the dress, way back at the start of the Millennium, are long gone.

That's right, now I'm required to shop for fancy / satin / sexy / rhinestone / glorious evening heels! Now the fun starts! Or so I thought. I first headed to DSW, which is typically a go-to for evening shoes.Not this time...too high, too sexpot, too dowdy. Normally I wouldn't worry about the heel height, or the overt sexiness...but this is a formal event (my husband will be in a tuxedo), there is likely to be quite a bit of standing and/or dancing, and I figured it was best to err on the conservative side. So I checked out Dillard's and Macys, hoping for a sale - not that I wouldn't mind spending, but again - this is probably not a pair of shoes that I will wear often, so why go all out? I'm looking for a deal. :)

And at the very last place I visited - the second Macy's (I went to two DSWs, two Dillard's, and two Macy's, plus a Belk - I am nothing if not persistent) - had, of all things, these:

for half off. I posted about these here, last August. And I loved them then, but there was no reason to purchase...but now there was a GREAT reason. :)

Except I wasn't really sure that silver shoes would work with the dress...it's black, and it's quiet, but it also has a lot going on - low back, spaghetti straps, beading, chiffon skirt - so I didn't want anything that would compete with it. I took them home and tried them together, and actually, they're just right. I have some faux-but-sparkly chandelier earrings, a bling-y ring, and a tiny black clutch, and that's really all I need.

So for $162.50, I managed to get Cinderella ready for the ball. It's actually less than what my husband is paying for his tux rental! I think I should get points for being a very frugal wife. :) 

We leave tomorrow morning, and the ball is Thursday night...I can't wait. February has been a crazy month for me and I am ready for this trip. The weather should be in the mid-seventies most of the time, and I'm going to enjoy every single minute of it.  :) 

Monday, January 27, 2014

So Glad I Didn't Get Rid Of:

these. They look good from the front, right? But they have a bit of an...

...elongated toe. And I'm a size ten shoe...I just feel like they make my feet look big. Somehow that didn't used to bother me, but I haven't worn these in quite some time because I felt weird in them.

Same thing for these:

LOVE them, 

but holy crap. That's a very long foot!

but I just found this blog and saw her wearing this:

and now I feel better. Those pumps look long too, especially in white, but if she can do it, I certainly can. I'm going to dig those shoes out of the "possible consignment" bag and put them back where they belong. If big feet are the worst thing I have to worry about (eh, if only!) then pfft. I can handle that.  :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seaside, Destin, Jewelry

Our whirlwind weekend in Destin was quick but wonderful. The weather was mostly humid (no surprise) and rainy, but the rain held on Saturday for the beach wedding and the reception afterwards, though we were dying at the rooftop reception from the exceptionally humid air. We did manage to eat, drink, and dance our way through it however.  :)

I wore this skirt on Friday night to the rehearsal dinner (it was a small wedding, and the bride and groom invited everyone to the rehearsal dinner) and also most of the day Saturday for shopping:

I bought it from Macy's earlier this year and this was its first outing. (Sold out,, unfortunately). It's a bit more blue / cool-hued than the photo shows, and Friday night I wore it with a coral tank and my leopard flips. For Saturday, I wore a black tank and rhinestone flips. It's 100% rayon so I was a little worried about wrinkling, but really had no trouble. And it was perfect for a very humid Saturday - lightweight and with the slits up the sides to just above the knee, it was breezy and comfortable. One of my favorite summer purchases so far.

Seaside, where we went on Saturday, was about 30 minutes from our hotel in Destin, and well worth the visit. Cute, charming, not too crowded (even though we got there around noon on Saturday during the summer season), easy parking and shopping and dining. We wandered around all sorts of fun shops - note, though, that Seaside is not for the inexpensive shopper, necessarily - and fell in love with a few. And one in particular, the Fusion Art Glass gallery.

When you enter, be prepared to be knocked over by the beauty of not only the items for sale, but the gallery itself. It was by far my favorite of the retailers we visited. And I'm not necessarily a glass girl (though my husband loves art glass). The owner himself is a glass blower, and carries items from artisans at the top of their game, and they are LOVELY. Affordable? Depends on your budget. But it's easy to lose yourself in all the gorgeous colors, shapes, vessels, etc in this glorious shop.

We did come away with these:

That I wore to the wedding that night. And on the drive home.  :)  They're by Patricia Locke, whose work I really enjoy. I showed you the only other piece of hers that I own, this necklace. It's a much older design, and the metal treatment is different, but I wouldn't wear them together anyway. The necklace is more subtle and the earrings are good-fun bling.  :)
We bought nothing else, but truly enjoyed ourselves just wandering around the main shopping district (right off of 30-A; their main drag). It's a tiny town:

of not quite 1300 people. But jam-packed with beauty and charm.

Also, there was this:

Which is unaltered, from my iphone. Such a gorgeous sunset! From the night before the wedding.

And this:

Part of the row of (I can only assume) multimilliondollarhomes right on the beach. All with rooftop decks and balconies on every floor. We didn't stay on the beach, but the bride and groom did, and let me tell you - that house had everything. Movie screening room. Hot tub. Beautifully appointed kitchen with every indulgence you can imagine. Sumptuous bed- and bathrooms...it was amazing.

Here's the only shot I (sort of) got of the house where we partied:

The furthest to the right. Just to the right of the photo (unseen) is the deck/path to the beach where the bride and groom walked out for the ceremony. We were all barefoot with the fabulous white sand between our toes and the surf gently crashing...it was a very quick getaway but well worth the effort!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wedding Weekend in Destin

Brett and I are heading to Destin, FL today for a wedding. And I'm bringing all the color a girl can stand - it's the beach, after all. What better time for happy colors?  :)


Two skirts in a very similar color pattern (the one on the right is a long maxi; on the left, an a-line. Plus a coral tank top in the upper left corner).


The lavender bracelet is to wear with the maxi skirt. The shell bracelet is for the other skirt. And the blue beaded necklace is for today, with a chocolate tank top and my denim mini.

And shoes:

For the non-beachy part of the beach. They'll work with both skirts and with the dress for the wedding (which is black; sometimes tradition beats color) if I wanted...though I do have rhinestone flips for the actual wedding. But I suspect I'll be mostly barefoot this weekend. I'll gladly forego footwear for poking my toes into the sand. :)

We're leaving in about half an hour...can't wait!! Have a great weekend, world.  :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vintage Shopping, Lakewood

My mother came to visit recently, and we did a little shopping. It's what we do...and we do it well. :)

We went to the Lakewood Antiques Market, just a few miles north of home, and spent several hours hunting for vintage goodies.

For reference, we have two big antique markets in Georgia, Lakewood and the Scott Antique Market. Lakewood is a smaller, a bit more rustic, and a lot less busy (also less expensive...usually). I tend to go looking for furniture at Scott's, though it's often out of budget (I may have mentioned that I don't typically have inexpensive taste...). Lakewood is more about "smalls", for me. And that's pretty much what we came home with:

Vintage yellow ware bowl. In a great size, about 18 inches across I think:

The color is a little yellow-er than the photos show. Offered at a great price - $ 39, and it's marked for Hull. Usually when I see bowls this size they're selling for *not quite* double the price. My husband is a foodie and we use a lot of larger bowls in the kitchen. This one will be a welcome addition.


Two mid-century teak lamp bases (bonus shot of Brett horsing around). These are inlaid with some sort of porcelain or tile...not sure exactly what, but they're gorgous. They're going in the living room, to replace a couple of our Target-modern lamps.  :)   I also bought some teak cream for these, as well as for our credenza, and we cleaned them all up this weekend. Mom spotted these; she has been antiquing for years and years and has a great eye. They also need replacement plugs and some shades, but those are easy fixes.

And finally:

I've been wanting to collect some tin toys for quite a while. For a girl who loves color so much, they're just happy. We bought this from a seller who has great, great vintage toys, going all the way back to the turn of the century. Brett and I have bought from her before, and her stall is always a "must see" when we visit the Lakewood show.

The crank on the side turns and the 4 figures on the ferris wheel actually rotate. It's so adorable. And it assuages my sadness at missing out on a buy in San Francisco last month. Brett and I were in a funky little store, and they had an awesome carousel tin toy. A salesperson asked if I needed help, and I held it up and said, "Yes! I want this". And she said, "I'm so sorry...that belongs to the owner and it's not for sale". SO disappointing..but this makes me feel a little better. And now, of course, I've started stalking tin toys on eBay...

The toy shown above is a newer toy, made in China. Not especially expensive, but so sweet. And I found the one I liked from San Fran:

This one happens to be on eBay for $150. Not a great photo but I promise, having seen it in person, that it is just charming and would bring a smile to anyone's face.  :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Happy (early) Birthday to Me...

Sam Edelman Alina.

My birthday isn't for a month, but sometimes presents come early.  :)

The above are what greeted me a few days ago when I was where I was not supposed to be...taking a partial "wellness" day from work...which was not originally including shoe shopping.They're HOT. They are NOT exceptionally walkable - they're not unwearable, but that heel and the way it's placed more toward the center of the shoe than toward the back...they're more of a sit-down shoe. This is why I struggle with buying practical shoes. Because I saw these when I walked in the door and they just knew they'd find a happy place in my closet. I scheduled a dinner date with my husband so they could have their first outing.  :)

Several other shoes I tried that day:

Sam Edelman Okala. Nice, buuuuuuut....I have four pair of animal print shoes already. And I thought these might be different enough to warrant purchasing, but honestly I am struggling to get behind the bondage ankle strap that is festooning shoes this season. I don't mind an ankle strap but I am not liking one that is so "tied-to-the-bed" looking. Pass.

These Michael Kors (Yvonne) were fun for about .03 seconds. Be forewarned: you'll need time to get your foot into these. It's a bit of work. Which isn't a terrible thing...but they were just too much for me. The glitter is about 100 times brighter in real life, so that's a lot of sparkly straps on one foot. Pass.



The Michael Kors Yvonne (same name, different style) were amazingly beautiful. Less straps = more refinement (at least in my book). The bottom of the platform is shiny, shiny silver, but somehow it just works with the glitter on the straps. I seriously debated about them, but since I already own (and LOVE) these:

It seems like I don't really need two pairs so similar...(of course not every girl needs even one pair, but I am a bona fide magpie). Though I *may* reconsider if the MK pair goes on sale. But for now...Pass.
Enzo Angiolini Caswell, Nordstrom exclusive. I looked at, but didn't try on. But they might be more moi than the Sam Edelmans above. And I still have a Nordstrom GC from Christmas...so, Pass. For today.  :) 

Best photo I could find - Dillard's and their tiny shots. Antonio Melani Irina. I wanted to love these but sadly (because they're on sale for about $60!) did not. The sparkle was canceled out by the suede (I know you can't tell from the photo, but that's a suede shoe) and they hit me a little wrong on the ankle bone. Pass.

I've been semi-lusting after these:

But just can't convince myself. I know they're a Prada knockoff, and I love Prada, but they're just a little too high. I'm a bit over the "allheelsmustbeatleastfiveinches" craze and am looking for shoes in the 3-4 inch heel range. So these are just a bit too much (though I did try them on again today, just to be sure). Pass. 

So far this year's purchases have included white strappy beaded sandals, purple peacock wedges,
leopard print flip flops, and wood-platform mules...can't wait to see what shows up next!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jewelry Favorites: Come into the Dark

I have, since birth, been consistently attracted to shiny things. Especially shiny jewelry. I love it, wear it, painstakingly polish it when necessary. But in recent years I've been drawn to the edgier side of silver metal...dark oxidation. Usually, of course, combined with some sort of shiny element.  :)

It all begin with this bracelet, made by my friend Delias Thompson:

I really like the dark gray oxidation contrasted with the shiny round balls. Sometimes shiny just seems *too* bright and oxidized silver seems a little more elegant. And it's definitely more subtle. Well...not in Delias's work (that girl doesn't know the word subtle), but in other jewelry it can be.  :)

Like these:

From Silversong Jewelry. Dark hoops with a touch of whimsy. Great for statement earrings with a laid-back vibe.

Or these:

Found on Magazine Street, in New Orleans. And they have a very New Orleans feel to me. A bit brash, a little dark, kind of edgy. One of my few pieces that aren't sterling...some sort of base metal and rhinestones. They're a little washed out in the photos but the metal is very dark and the rhinestones very sparkly...great contrast

I think I paid less than $10 for them, and expected them to fall apart (they were bought about two years ago) but so far they're wearing like champs.

And I've shown you this before...but it's my main piece in this category and I am going to show it to you again.  :)

Dark metals can be beautiful. And subtle. And sometimes I just like that over all the shiny, sparkly, bling-y pieces I own.  :)