Twelve years is how long this dress (now skirt) has been in my closet. I know, because I remember clearly the day I bought it. It was June 2003, and I was on a Contiki tour of France. (Anyone else remember those? Are Contiki tours still a thing?) I saw the strapless version of this H&M dress worn by another girl on my tour, and fell in love immediately. Something about that Georgia O’Keefe-like print just spoke to me. And I don’t even like yellow!
This was long before H&M came to Canada, but I was already familiar (and smitten) with the brand after a previous trip to Switzerland; it was a revelation – cute, trendy, and affordable, like a “grown up”, European version of Forever21. Anyway, back in France, I lucked out. I spotted the dress (in a halter-neck style) at the H&M store in Paris on my second last day, and immediately bought it even though it was kind of expensive for my budget at the time. It’s 100% silk, which may have had something to do with the price.
For years, I held on to it, even after I stopped fitting into it, because it was just too beautiful to give up. (Side note: this dress is proof of the vanity sizing madness that’s taken over in the last decade. This dress was labelled a European size 36 (US 6) and truly fits like a current size 2 or smaller. If I hadn’t converted it into a dress, there is no way I could fit into it.) I never really liked the halter style, though, so a few years ago, I asked my grandmother to turn it into a skirt, hoping the alteration would make it more wearable. The top part of the dress was just plain yellow anyway – no loss.
Sadly, it was not to be. After my second pregnancy, I bid adieu to my size 6-wearing days, and the skirt got pushed into the deepest recesses of my overflow closet. I almost got rid of it, on more than one occasion. But then! In a twist of fate, the skirt fits again once more. If that’s not some kind of sign – that I should be wearing it! – I don’t know what is.
I kept the rest of the outfit here pretty simple, so as not to compete with that gorgeous print, but couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of sparklies. I love me some brooch-on-scarf action. Almost as much as this skirt, and its long history.
I’m still doing questionnaires, you guys. They’re … kinda addictive. I’m looking for but haven’t yet found a style-related one (per suggestion from a BCRL reader), but in the meantime I went through Marie Claire’s Twenty Questions.
[In the interests of disclosure, my Marie Claire ban is still in effect, all these years later. I found the questionnaire online which … is kinda, maybe, not cheating? In any case, I’ve actually been considering picking up the magazine again, and seeing if it’s any better these days. I actually don’t read any “ladies mags” anymore and sorta miss them. Any good ones you would recommend? Halp!]
Before we go any further, however, requisite apology to questionnaire non-fans – this week, courtesy of Mr. Snake Hips himself:
(P.S. I CANNOT wait to see Crimson Peak!!)
What brings you the greatest joy?
My kids, and finding the perfect turn of phrase.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I find that good advice changes with the seasons. Of your life, not the calendar (ahem). At this point in mine, the advice that resonates the most is this: you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Hokey? You betcha. But it reminds me not to be so damned scared of failure.
What charities do you support?
Alberta Cancer Foundation, Edmonton Food Bank, SPCA
What app do you most often use?
Probably Layout or PicStitch, for my Instagram OOTDs.
What do you wish someone would invent?
A teleportation device. Beam me up, Scotty!
What is your fantasy itinerary?
The dozen steps from the front row at the Dolby Theatre in LA to the stage where I’m accepting my Oscar for best screenplay.
Just kidding. The more literal answer: London –> Paris –> Loire Valley –> Provence –> Cote d’Azure –> Tuscany. Or the full length of the Orient Express, if I could go back and travel in the 1920s.
What book had a profound effect on your life?
The last one was probably The Unbearable Lightness of Being back in my late teens/early 20s. I’m overdue for another one.
Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
I’ll tell you who is NOT on the list: Jesus. That would be freaking nerve wracking. What the hell would I serve for dinner? How would I stop myself from swearing? Too much stress, you guys.
Ok, on a (somewhat) more serious note: Bill Murray, Helen Mirren, Tina Fey, George R. R. Martin, and Brandon Flowers. Maybe not all at the same time, though.
What makes you laugh?
My husband’s dad jokes. But, in my defence, I’m pretty sure it was part of the original contract, somewhere after the “in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer” bit.
What makes you cry?
SPCA commercials. I have now developed a reflex whereby I start tearing up as soon as I hear any snipped of Sarah McLachlin music.
What irrational fear do you have?
Fear of spiders probably doesn’t count because irrational it is very much not. Probably the fear that everyone secretly hates me but is too polite to tell me to my face. Wait, is that an irrational fear? Don’t tell me.
What is your beauty secret?
Mascara and bright lipstick. It’s not so much a secret, as the key to not looking like Casper’s paler cousin.
What do you hope your friends say behind your back?
I hope she’ll tell us more about this book she’s writing.
What advice would you give to someone with a broken heart?
Whatever you do, don’t listen to Mariah Carey’s “I Can’t Live (If Living is Without You)”. Been there, done that, and I can tell you that it will take on average five extra pints of Ben & Jerry’s to reach the “acceptance” stage. Fact.
What song instantly puts you in a good mood?
“Let Your Hair Down” by Magic. It reminds me of being on the beach in Mexico with my family. The parts that didn’t involve screaming toddler tantrums.
How did you make your first dollar?
If we’re counting foreign currency, then by patting family members on the back and calling it a “spa massage”. But my first actual dollar I made by shelving books at the campus library.
What do you wish you could stop doing?
Putting my foot in my mouth. Or, at the very least, remembering in excruciating detail, after the fact, all of the instances in which I put my foot in my mouth during any random conversation.
How do you define success?
Working because you love what you do, not because you have to.
What should every woman try at least once in her life?
Thinking like a boss.
How would you like to be remembered?
I’m totally stealing Amy Poehler’s answer: Often, fondly and loudly.
Let’s ignore my crappy photo set-up, and just look at how strong my blush blazer is still going. Summer wardrobe staple? I think not. I’m going to call this one an all season MVP. I was going to pair this animal print dress with my black blazer, but mentally went “ughhhh” at the thought of it. The whole thing was just too dark for my mood at the time. Sometimes when I’m stressed, I like to wear lots of black; other times, I want anything but. This was a great alternative.
As I was looking at these photos, I realized that a tan/cream blazer would probably work in much the same way, in terms of lightening up the outfit, and briefly considered whether I should be looking to add one to my closet. I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that this blush colour is more flattering to my skin tone than tan. A cream version remains intriguing, but I can’t remember the last time I saw one anywhere.
On an unrelated note, I love House of Harlow jewelry, like these pyramid earrings. A lot of their pieces have a subtle Art Deco-ish vibe, yet look modern at the same time. Looking at their display at Holt Renfrew is always dangerous, because I end up lusting after multiple pieces.