Ahh, spring: the great unshackling from the grip of my winter footwear and outerwear. It’s a game changer, folks. I can wear cute outfits to places other than work again! Like, say, the ballet. It’s hard to dress fancy when you have to take into account boots and/or a big coat; conversely, it’s much easier when you can wear a pair of heels and let your actual outfit shine. In fact, this was the perfect opportunity to finally wear the Vanessa Bruno dress I got from Mine & Yours in Vancouver a year ago. It’s whimsical in an unexpected way, which seemed a good fit for Alice in Wonderland (the aforementioned ballet). The hairband was a given, in the circumstances. Sparkly nails also seemed fitting somehow, although technically, sparkly nails need no excuse.
I added my trusty leather jacket instead of a dressier coat because I liked the juxtaposition with the elegant dress. This jacket is really good at juxtapositions. I never thought I could become so devoted to a casual topper, but here we are. Although I am loath to dictate must-have closet items — being a firm believer that there is no one-size-fits-all answer — I would strongly encourage everyone to consider a leather jacket. It doesn’t even have to be real leather; mine isn’t, but looks great anyway. Actually, I love mine so much, I nearly bought a back-up when I recently came across a similar jacket (also by Joe Fresh) at Red Pony. Cue the sad trombone: it was the wrong size. Thankfully, my current version shows no signs of wear yet, so I am sure I can get a few more years out of it before the need for a replacement becomes critical. However, much like denim jackets, leather jackets are tricky — they’re not all created equal, and fit can make or break the right jacket. Which is to say: if you find your magical unicorn, don’t hesitate to take it home, immediately.
P.S. The ballet was great. This was my second year getting season tickets, and I have loved the experience so far. I am a hardcore home-body, so it was nice to have the extra push to get out of the house once in a while, and the Alberta Ballet has never disappointed. I’m excited for next season … maybe I’ll see you there.
It seems impossible somehow, but this year marked the 10th (TENTH!) anniversary of my annual clothing swap. I started hosting these parties when they were barely a blip on the ethical fashion radar — indeed, when ethical fashion itself wasn’t yet a “thing”. I can’t recall now how I heard about the idea of clothing swaps, but I was immediately drawn to it. Free clothes? A fun afternoon/evening with friends? Yes, please. At the party this year, I joked that my clothing swap is one of my longest running relationships; I started dating my husband a year after the first swap. All joking aside, the swaps have been a lovely way to, most of all, stay connected with friends I don’t get the chance to see often, and make new friends along the way. I was really excited this year when 3 new peeps were able to join the “swap sorority”, including Nicole. You can read her post on the swap here.
Every year, I choose a “theme” for the party. I am usually inspired by whatever decorations I have lying around the house, but this year my theme came to me in a different way. A while back, I noticed that one of the booths at the antique mall used playing cards to display vintage earrings and brooches, and I thought the idea was super neat. I decided to use it as a springboard for my party decorations, which then evolved into a red, black & white theme. As it turns out, I never did end up using the playing cards to display the available jewelry because I only had bracelets and necklace to swap. Oh well. The fruit-and-marshmallow kebabs, “garnished” with Oreos, looked lovely next to the red roses in their milk glass vases.
I am especially proud of this arrangement, which utilized an old piece of that green spongy stuff that real florists use in their arrangements — salvaged from a bouquet I received last year. Yep, I collect all kinds of trash — some of which even comes in handy. (By the way, if anyone knows what that stuff is called and where I can buy more of it, I would be forever grateful.) I thought it was a neat way to use one of the newest additions to my milk glass collection. I love roses, but I hate displaying them in their long-stemmed state, so I’m always looking for clever ways to showcase them.
I tried to continue the theme with the food — hence the bocconcini and tomato skewers — but I quickly gave up. Cheese and meats (or, if you want to be fancy, charcuterie) is where it’s at, theme or no theme. I can’t make them look artistic and Instagram-worthy, but believe me when I say that they were delicious. Mmm, prosciutto.
Moving on … oh, look who made me take a selfie. Only for you, friend. Only for you.
Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I forgot to take photos of the pile of clothes I contributed to the swap. Let’s just say that there were 3 enormous bags … and a half dozen pairs of shoes … and a couple of bags … and some jewelry. Oh, and nail polish too. Combined with the goodies that the other lovely ladies brought, we assembled a veritable Mount Everest in my living room. And that was just the rejects! (Everything that was left over after everyone had their picks was donated.) I did manage to take snaps of the things I ended up choosing and keeping.
The white popover and sweatshirt jacket are both Anthro brand, and both destined for my casual/loungewear capsule. The black Ted Baker jacket and Daniel Rainn vest are going to mix up my casual summer wardrobe.
The long vest on the left was a more experimental selection; we’ll see how it works as a casual summer topper. The Lululemons will be house pants. I foresee many hours of happy Netflix-ing in our future.
My two favourite pieces are probably this Anthro-brand skirt (from Nicole!) and this Coach tote. The skirt’s green colour is not in my wardrobe palette, but the silhouette is right up my alley — it’s a gorgeous midi pencil style. Styling it might prove to be a challenge, but I’m definitely up for it. The Coach bag has been in heavy use already. I’m not a fan of the monogram print and wish it was a solid colour, but the overall colour scheme is nice and versatile. The size and organization of the bag, on the other hand, is perfect for a work tote. I LOVE that it has not one, but two outside pockets (for easy access), as well as a zippered main compartment, and two sets of handles. The only issue I’ve discovered is that the handles start hurting a bit if you weigh the bag down with stuff, and carry it on your shoulder for a while. It’s not a huge issue for me, because my commute is not that long. I might just start looking for this style on eBay, in a different finish/colour.
I forgot to take pictures, but I also took home a lovely Linea Pelle bag, some nail polish (I’m fresh out, you guys!), and a couple of pieces for my mom — including some Manolo Blahnik shoes! A special thanks, and shout-out, to my friend L, who donated those. (My mom loves them.)
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the clothing swap was a “jackpot” for all of us who attended. Here’s to another 10 fun years!
As I mentioned in my last post, I did manage to get to the ball, ermm, office Christmas party this year, notwithstanding my eleventh hour dress disaster. And, yes, I did feel rather like a princess. Perhaps even the Belle of the ball. Definitely a Beauty, not a Beast. OK, I will stop with the theme puns now.
I am still marveling at the fact that this dress cost me less than the price of a latte. It fit like a glove, and all that it took was adjusting the clasp on the back of the halter. The threads holding the clasp in place had come loose, so when I went to fix it (no tailor this time!) I simply moved it back an inch on either side so the straps would be more snug. The dress was otherwise in impeccable condition, and made out of a double layer of natural silk (non-shiny) that had a good weight and beautiful flow. It seemed to glide and fall away perfectly, and was absolutely THE most comfortable evening dress I have ever worn — no shape-wear required. I was left wondering if it was cut on the bias or something (vaguely recalling some of my fashion history reading), because it seemed incredible that a dress that is so lightweight and body-con would ever look this good with practically no effort on my part. I don’t know the answer, but it’s a wonderful mystery all the same.
I paired it with my vintage Art Deco-inspired brooch, which seemed like a perfect complement to the V-neckline. I’m not a fan of halter necklines, precisely because they can be tricky to accessorize, but I think I found a good solution since the brooch also helped preserve some modesty. (I used it to hold the bottom of the halter together so it would not gape.) Amazingly, I found the waterfall-like earrings, sporting a similar Art Deco vibe, the day before the party at Swish boutique. I have gotten to know the owner, Angela, a little bit over the last few months, and in addition to having the best stories (seriously, just ask her!), she is a whizz at helping a person find unique and perfect accessories like these earrings. I finished off the outfit with my grandmother’s vintage sequin-encrusted clutch, which was one of my favourite (and forbidden) dress-up accessories as a child and is one of my treasured possessions now as an adult.
I also want to talk about my Louboutins. I know some of you were unconvinced when I bought them, and I get it; I wasn’t sure how useful they would be either. They were my first choice for this outfit simply because they are my only pair of shoes tall enough for the length of this dress. Even so, I brought a back-up pair of (lower) heels with me, just in case the Loubs proved unwearable. And you know what? I feel like I owe my apologies to Mr. Louboutin for doubting his creation. I ended up wearing them all night, for over 7 hours in total (most of which were spent on my feet). I even danced in them, briefly. (Long dress plus high heels plus holiday libations are not a good combo on a dance floor, so I wisely decided to go back to socializing.) After a few minutes of getting used to walking in them — the placement of the heel seems different to me than in other shoes — they were not uncomfortable until about the 5 hour mark, which is a pretty good run for most heeled shoes in my experience. By the end of the night, I was definitely happy to take them off, but I think overall, they held up well. I doubt I will wear them for anything except extra fancy occasions like this one, but I’m happy that I will actually get some mileage out of them after all.
Can we take a moment and appreciate the decor at the party? It’s like you’re waiting for the dancing crockery to come out any minute, right? Disney doesn’t have anything on us.