Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I forgot the title. Heh.

Hot pink leather pants from Shelley, purple wool bell bottoms, pom pom hat, zig-zaggy tunic/dress, maxi denim coat - these are a few of my favourite things playing in heavy rotation lately. And big earrings. I don't have photos of everything but the following shots give you an idea of what I've been running around town in. 


Today: the shaggy boots. This is only the third time I've worn them, they take up lots of storage space, and I can't be fleet of foot when I wear them; I must consider whether they are keepers or not. I tried sticking-up-hair with my new cut. Meh, okay. The vintage tunic has gold lurex thread throughout and a space collar.


I bought the tunic-thing above at Talize - I have been thinking about that store. Sure, it has a bit of everything as a big box outlet, but when I get right down to it, I'd rather support a bunch of little businesses. I'd rather a world with 10,000 fishing boats owned by a bunch of families than 10,000 boats and families owned by one corporation. I'll still go to Talize but it will never be my mainstay - I like my local shops.


If you follow me on IG you've seen a big hat photo. This one is from a video clip I took on Christmas Day. As Connie of Snow in the Air commented on IG, the pom poms are like little fireworks. Hahaha, yes!! The hat was $2.99 from Talize, Marie Claire brand, which is a chain that specializes in kitschy accessories for tweens, middle-aged ones as well apparently. Heh.

On the right side with the red coat, a camera remote control test photo. Ta-dah - I'm walking, and more than just my left foot is in focus. It's a miracle!


Note the jumping skills, again courtesy of my remote and a faster-than-normal shutter speed on, gulp, Manual Setting (say that like Darth Vader). The purple wool cuffed bell bottoms, $5 at My Sister's Closet thrift boutique. All their proceeds go to Battered Women's Support Services - another great reason to shop small and local.

On the right side, my tubular wool maxi turtleneck dress, walnut colour, so comforting to wear on a cold day, like a clingy sleeping bag. And my ginormous earrings and stomping shoes. Pose borrowed from Sheila of Ephemera; I'm still in training. Remember when "tubular" was a thing? Instead of saying "Awesome!" you'd say "Tubular!" 


And above, a sample of the big earrings I've been wearing lately. The right side shows my hair before I got it cut. I always thought I couldn't wear big earrings. HAHAHA! I can and I do!! 

Yup, I've been stretching my style, trying things on, shrugging things off, always searching, always polishing that pure kernel of dissatisfaction that keeps my style eye agile. But even fleeting moments of style bliss are interrupted by the question: So what? It's not about the clothes; it's about what I do inside the clothes.

Time for some distraction with Edie Brickell: "Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep." Listen HERE

I'll link up to Catherine for #iwillwearwhatiwant at her blog Not Dressed as Lamb, theme-free this week.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, YOU'S GUYS!! As I told Suzanne and Sue, I'll be spending the eve at home gnawing on white bread and sipping cartoonishly from old airline-sized bottles of wine. Hee hee.



Saturday, 26 December 2015

Past-minute DIY holiday gifts

My favourite Dollarama store downtown closed last year and I just noticed that it will soon reopen as a brand new Prada store. And across the street from that same wrecked Dollarama is a new Versace store. I went in last week to peruse the merch, which clothes-wise consisted of five wimpy black dresses hanging bravely on a far wall and a few unisex T-shirts in an altar in the middle of the store.

This was my Dollarama last year.

There were other weighty faux-gold logos for sale too, attached to watches and shoes and bags. And they had the cutest big backpack in the window with so much black shaggy faux fur the clerk couldn't find the fasteners to show me the inside - it was marked down 50%, now only $3,000.

 (The backpack was missing from the window today when I took these photos.)

Tory Burch and Burberry and Escada, Hermes, Coach, and Luis Vuitton are all within a couple of blocks of each other now. I go to gawp and play and get ideas, and to shop at a favourite supermarket nearby. 

But I want my Dollarama back!!!

The logos. Why spend that much if you can't see them, right?

I tend to celebrate the little cheap things more dear than money can buy, yesh - the headband with feather antennae, shown below (still from a VOGOFF promo video here), the child's construction vest, the Christmas ornaments that saved the fashion show (see post here) all purchased for a low-low price at Dollarama but priceless for their inspiration.


The holiday season really makes me think about consumption and I will share with you some of my favourite past-minute Christmas gifts that say "Can You Tell I Love You?" on a budget, gifts that you can source in your own home at this very late, late, late hour.

PAST-MINUTE DIY HOLIDAY GIFTS  

  • Toothpaste, either in the tube or lovingly squished into a little plastic baggie. Who can fail to be touched by the gift of healthy teeth and gums?
  • For the crafter, a potato and a Sharpie marker, although a Sharpie probably won't work on a potato. For stamping, okay?
  • A lock of your hair wrapped in plastic. And for that Special Someone, use the other hair.
  • A fan made from the giftee's credit card bill with a loving Haiku scrawled across it and a sketch of a bird.
  • The lost sock.
  • Packing tape for sticking on your forehead as a dream catcher when you go to bed. Who will forget anything with a hunk of tape on their head?
  • Tissues/toilet paper/paper towels, preferably unused, to be tucked into the coat pockets of loved ones for rescue from sniffle emergencies.
  • One leg cut from old pantyhose or tights to be used as an umbrella holder. 
  • Half of your brownie - that's TRUE love! (especially if Suzanne made them)
******************
Can you imagine the squeals upon opening such personal, loving gifts? I think not.

Of course gift-giving goes hand-in-hand with feasting, so this holiday season I whipped up a fresh batch of boiled eggs. My oven is full of electronic goods so I couldn't bake them (the eggs or the electronics). I am quite pleased with the progress I'm making in boiling water. The trick is in the temperature.

The Christmas Taxi in Vancouver
That's the best taxi in town! I asked the driver inside if I could take a photo, and then after, he rolled down the window gave me a mini candy cane from the dashboard, a very storybook event on Christmas Day.
Of course if anyone were to throw a big faux fur Versace backpack my way, I would sigh and say, "Hey, I would have been just as happy with a baggie of toothpaste and packing tape stuck to my forehead." Hahaha!!!

And this is a video I made of Suzanne and Sue and me shopping at Talize thrift store. See what I mean about having fun? This is NOT a sponsored post or a sponsored video - it's just a trio of over-40 Canadian women bloggers, besties, having a blast shopping.


Hope you're having great times if you have holidays - and even if you don't!



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

We should get medals for fun

You know what it's like when you have a big event the next day and get everything ready the night before? That's not me.

That's why, instead of strolling 20 minutes to the light rail train station, as I sometimes do, I power walked/ran, cursing, coattails flying, and chest heaving, to the hotel near my home, where I screamed to a taxi, "TAKE ME TO THE TRAIN STATION!!" If this wasn't Vancouver and I wasn't me, it could have been a scene from a movie.

Mel Kobayashi and Suzanne Carillo at play, Talize, Delta, BC
Melanie Kobayashi and Suzanne Carillo at play, Talize, Delta, BC
Suzanne in her "cowboy" hat and me in my "toque."
Over-40 CANADIAN style!! (photos by Sue)

Why the drama, other than that's just my life? I went to an epic blogger meetup with Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo: Style, Smiles and Stories, who had flown into town for a few days from Toronto, and Sue of A Colourful Canvas: Stitch, Style, Smile - almost one year to the day since our first meetup, here. Hurrah!!! Definitely worth heaving for. Heh.

Now you might be familiar with blogger meetups in Canada's motherland (the UK), where bloggers meet in bustling historic villages and towns and spend a relaxing afternoon popping in and out of quaint thrift shops located in old castles and bath houses, followed by a debriefing over a pint or four at a local pub. (Of course we all wish we could join them!)

Suzanne and Sue chilling with the Bag at Earls

Well, we do things a little differently up here in Canada. 

We hop in our cars (and trains) and barrel our way to the burbs, where the concrete is barely dry, for some roll-your-sleeves-up, bronco-bustin', mud-slingin', serious strip mall thrifting. Yeeeah baby, it was pedal to the metal on the bargoon highway of secondhand love. (Uh-oh, sounds like a song.) Sue mercifully picked me up from the station and drove me the rest of the way to Talize. THANK YOU, Sue.

Suzanne Carillo, licensed to shop with pro cart at Talize
Is she licensed to drive that thing?!

Of course size matters. No namby-pamby hand baskets here. Puh! And forget Nascar - that's a circuit-certified Canadian cart with Suzanne at the wheel. She's definitely licensed to shop in that maxi with the shrinking violets gone nuclear, and while she didn't wear a helmet she did try on a cool leopard-print cowboy hat with a pink flower.

And are those bathroom doors on the change rooms? you ask. Heck, yeah!! If only the change rooms in all thrift stores were so clean and secure. 

Sue of A Colourful Canvas and Suzanne Carillo in reject dresses, Talize

Instead of passing toilet paper between stalls, we sometimes passed our clothes relay-style down the line. For example, we were all grabby for that cute little sparkly dress but it didn't make the grade for any of us. Too bad you can't see Sue's awesome navy over-the-knee boots with rear zips. Gaaa! 

The store was Talize, which is a fairly new chain sweeping across Canada. Sue and I were first-timers but Suzanne showed us the ropes as a regular to the Toronto-area store and helped us become card-carrying regulars. 

Talize is like Value Village, except cleaner, more organized, and more reasonably priced, yet with all the vintage, designer, and quirky pieces required of a satisfying thrift experience. I hope they don't let it slide.

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret at the Talize checkout, Delta, BC
Suzanne took this shot.

The face of a satisfied customer - in need of caffeine.

Sue of A Colourful Canvas at Talize in Delta, BC
Suzanne took this photo too.

Another satisfied customer. We were all unforgivingly enabling - "Yeah, Sue, you've got to get this baton-twirler fringed vest. Seriously!" That's it in my arms behind her. It was another relay-type item that ended up at my finish line.

Suzanne Carillo, Sue of A Colourful Canvas, Melanie of Bag and a Beret
Photo by our server at Earls

After our work-out on the racks we went to Earls, several suburb-sized blocks away. Great food, good service. It's a different location in the same chain as the one we dined at during the summer blogger meetup event.

Sue and I had the Timbuktu (can't remember the real name). I was ravenous after shopping and ate like the Queen after a three-week cleanse, doing my best to maintain my dignity while shoveling food in as quickly as protocal allows. Fish tacos for Suzanne. And of course, sticky toffee chocolate pudding for dessert. No boozing - in the burbs everyone drives.

So there you have it, friends. What a FUN DAY we had!!! I took some video footage which I'm saving for something special. Thank you, Sue and Suzanne, for a STELLAR!!! outing.

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, stellar maxi denim coat with faux fur trim

This is my new Talize maxi denim coat with faux fur trim, which SUZANNE pre-scouted for me while she was waiting for me and Sue to show up. WOW! Do I love it or do I love it? $25.00, Parasuco, fully winterized with heavy lining. Oh, that woman knows me. And I'm wearing big earrings.

It's Patti's Visible Monday at her blog Not Dead Yet Style, oldest linkup party on the net. I must catch up with the gang before the big holidays kick in, always so much fun. Who's bringing the peppermint schnapps? Heave. I'll see you there.

Thanks too to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for featuring my gala gown as a favourite from her #iwillwearwhatilike linkup last week. Teehee.  I shall link this photo to this week's theme-free #iwillwearwhatilike as well.

OTHER NEWS 
O's engineering-related art is in the news again. Hahaha! Again, courtesy of the amazing Jean Thilmany, who wrote a story about O in late 2013 after she discovered him via Bag and a Beret being a big-time thrifter herself! (Jean, we're waiting for your blog!) My post about it is HERE.

This new article is for a major engineering site called IHS Engineering 360. The title of Jean's piece is "Finding the Crossroads of Engineering and Art," HERE, and it explores the connections between art, analytics, and the brain, and includes info on O's latest piece, which is a micro-sized walking kinetic sculpture inspired by Dutch artist Theo Jansen, who makes gigantic free-walking sculptures called Strandbeest.

Osamu Kobayashi, smallest universal joint, 0.65 mm in diameter
Working universal joint for O's kinetic sculpture, 0.65 millimeters in diameter,
almost invisible, smaller than a standard needle. THAT'S SMALL!

I just realized today that O and I have both been associated with brain professors. IS THAT WEIRD?

When I did a talk at the time of my art exhibit, the other featured speaker was former Harvard professor Dr. Paul Swingle, a neurotherapist specializing in biofeedback with a particular interest in the effects of art on the brain. His talk was called "Art and the Brain."

This latest article by Jean also features Dr. Jose Contreras-Vidal, an electrical and computer professor at the University of Houston, who studies the effects of art-making on the brain with the goal of improving brain-machine interface. Cue the Twilight Zone music.

The difference is my brain works on chaos; O's brain works on control.

Anyway, if you're interested in the sort of thing O does, I hope you enjoy the article. Thank you, Jean!!! This story is a great holiday gift not only for O but for me too. You can see more of O's work HERE.

I hope you all have holidays!
EAT, SLEEP, DRINK, LAUGH. AAAAH!


Monday, 14 December 2015

Lurching forward with up and down hair

This is what I wore to the "Putting Together the Big Crane Down the Street" show.
I hadn't booked tickets but I got lucky and scored a VIP curbside spot. 
Lots of heavy metal and hard hats - post-modern constructionism.
The road was shut down and everything! (I see you rolling your eyes - don't think I can't.)

Then I went to an eco boutique, where my personal shopper browsed the $5 rack. 
And then I had coffee and a crueller served to me by a cadre of attentive servers.
And I drew a turnip head in my journal. It's a life of glamour, yesh.

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, farked T-shirt and necklace, bathmat coat

It's all about perspective.


The torso was the best part of this outfit so that's all I'm going to show you. 
The T-shirt is one I did with googly eyes and it's a farked necklace.
The black part is my ancient dickie untucked. 
My photos sucked big time, but that was my face today. Bathroom selfie.


WHITE EYE SHADOW & NUDE LIPSTICK
Starkish. Bemused/perplexed. This photo should rotate and speak like a robot.
That's what happens when I let my hair down.

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, The Jericho Fluevog boots, mitten clips

The boots I wore a couple days ago - the lawn-mower runaways. 
They are fancy-schmancy bought new a few years ago on super discount. Maybe green wasn't selling?
This outfit looks better in motion. And this is what happens when I let my hair up.
How's THAT...?
Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, want to buy some mitten clips?
"Wanna buy a mitten clip?"
I spotted this dress on the $5 rack last week. Love that mod vibe 
which I boosted with quick mitten clipping to go mini-high and to show off those freaky tights. 
I'm also wearing my black and white spirograph turtleneck under the dress and
earrings from a whack-load of new big ones I bought.

Tip:  Big Earrings = Instant Rock Star
But some of you already know that. Vix, Mis Papelicos...
Melanie Kobayashi, maxi faux fur coat and Fluevog boots

 Great coat action. I got to whip it - whip it good!


I love the way my left boot up there is so focused. Artistry, my friends. And in one take.
With a self-timer. While walking.
Who else could have focused with such absolute precision on that one spot? 

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, maxi faux fur coat and Fluevog boots

I put the above photo on Instagram. I was falling over when the shutter snapped.

Clearly, I've got nothing for you. Nothing. My creativity train stops at my station, blowing all its whistles, then lurches ahead, then stops, blows, and lurches. Is it too much to ask for a little synchronicity here?!

Hope you're well, doing what you do.

I've got to hook this up to:
Anne at SpyGirl, 52 Pick-me-up: Green Acorn/Victim/Empowerment
Patti at Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, where the party never stops.



Sunday, 6 December 2015

My coats made me do it

I was leaping at the courthouse. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd been hauled in by the fashion police for wearing garish clashing patterns, but even if I had, one magic word whispered in my accuser's ear would have sprung me free: Versace. It can soothe even the most ruffled fashionista. I'd keep quiet that these pants were thrifted for around $25. And that I could care less what brand they are. 

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, leaping at the courthouse

As for the leaping, this crazy-ass coat is hopped up on circles and stripes and some serious red. Of course I'm airborne! On me it's a goofy/cool femme fatale coat that says jump, vamp, drink martinis, throw caramel corn in the air and catch it with your mouth even though you know it will probably stick to your eyelids instead. It says drive a Bugatti with the top down in winter. Okay! Clearly my lifestyle needs to catch up with my wardrobe. 

Su Bennett, my mad stylist partner on the recent fashion show, gave me this ga-ga-gaaageous vintage beauty. Such glee! She is a self-confessed fairy-clothes-mother. No kidding. Thank you, Su!! Below I am undercover like Johnny English (James Bond spoof starring Rowan Atkinson).

Melanie Kobayashi goes undercover as Ms. Bean, Bag and a Beret

The leaping was also instrumental in scientifically testing my new got2b hair product. I'd give it an A-, which is not bad considering my former got2b (A+) had 15 to 20 years of aging to achieve it's gluey superiority. In another ten years this new one should be just right.

I'm wearing the coat with my favourite graphic T - "Dressed to PISS YOU OFF" - custom-made by another favourite woman, Suzanne Carillo. She gave it to me when we met the first time, with Sue of A Colourful Canvas, almost a year ago (here), although it feels like I've known her and Sue forever.

Bag and a Beret, vintage graphic coat and thrifted Versace pants

I'm also wearing thrifted Miu Miu boots, a black under-T, and my magic loupe from O. (O says thank you for your comments on his rings!) The only label on the coat says ILGWU, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union of the US, size 10.

And below, what I wore the next day. The graffiti behind me says "The goal isn't to last forever. The goal is to create something that will." It's a quote from Chuck Palahniuk, the man who wrote Fight Club, which was made into a movie.

Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, groovin' at Fight Club graffiti

Wearing: thrifted muppet coat, thrifted silk velvet scarf, thrifted pants, but the chenille top was from H&M - I sometimes get supplies there for farking. So far I've only  "adjusted" this one around the neckline.


Detail of the silk scarf. An elegant woman, a bamboo grove, a full moon. You can seen the sheen on it, which makes it difficult to photograph. It's slidey and ultra-soft. The tag says 100% silk. Thrifted.

I'm linking something up to:
  1. Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for her Visible Monday, as usual - thank you Patti! 
  2. Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb when it goes live. This week's prompt is faux fur, which I remembered after I took these photos. Good timing.
  3. Anne at SpyGirl, 52 Pick-me-up with the theme Reflection/Integration. These outfits have a bit of both.



A: But why is she laughing like that?
B: She better be careful she doesn't sprain anything.
A: These narcissistic bloggers, I just don't know what they're thinking.
B: Hmm.
A: I wonder does her husband know what she's up to?
[silent pause]
A: Let's check out the next blog.
B: Oooh, yes! More tea?
A: Lovely, with a wee splash of a little extra maybe...?
B: Coming right up.



Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bring on the hounds, and Hat Attack 29

Did I the mention the post-gala party? (what gala? see here) The wild frickin' partying all frickin' night long?!! Boozing on dregs, semi-nude prancing on linen-topped tables, catwalk histrionics with dirty cutlery aids, drunken Chicken Dance-ing down gold-foiled halls hung with dour portraits of past presidents, Carol Burnett-style yodelling in the men's bathroom, giggly Hide & Seek with security, and boisterous kitchen raids for more dessert. Did I mention that?

No? Maybe because in reality I staggered home early in exhaustion and slept, collated my photos, and got a cold three days later like a respectable middle-aged tween. Such a wuss!! One tablespoon of wine these days and I'm out. But I can dream, can't I? - if that kind of drunken debauchery still counts as a dream...

Melanie Kobayashi, houndstooth jacket and pants, and a beret

I was feeling better today so it was time to call in the hounds. Yes, nothing like double-dose houndsteeth for extra bite and snarl - that's good medicine. But no more muzzling with my facemask - that phase of my cold is past, thank goodness. I try to mask up to keep my germs to myself, plus the mask is like a little security blankie for my face. I put a photo of me in one of my masks on Instagram here

Mel Kobayashi, houndstooth jacket and a beret

And it's time to join Judith's 29th Hat Attack at Style Crone - I can't miss it. I made sure to wear this lovely thrifted indigo felt beret. I used to wear it all the time and it felt good jamming it down over my ears again today. It still fits! - I was worried because of the massive head bloat I got from all your generous comments about the fashion show. (Thank you, by the way!)

Mel Kobayashi, houndstooth jacket and pants, and a beret

I don't like the gloves with this, but, hey, it was cold. And the belt is sticking out - drats. My PA is fired!! The coat is a high-end cashmere-wool blend from My Sister's Closet, $5 rack; the Italian slip-on leather booties are from there too, so pointy the toes turn up. And thrifted houndstooth Steve Madden stretch ankle-zip pants, O's real rockstar button down from Tokyo days, and my magic loupe from O.

I'm linking these hungry hounds up to Patti's fabulous Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, where she's serving up ice cream cake. Woo-hoo!! That's something to party about.

Speaking of O, he made me another ruby and stainless steel ring with a tension mount. It's the third in a set of three rings made from chunks of stainless steel, each with increasing difficulty to make. The first one is here, the second is here, and this one.

ruby and stainless steel ring by O, bag and a beret

This beauty really, really glows like an LED when the light hits it, there is so little contact between the stone and the mount with a very narrow band, which lets in even more light. Also, because the stone has such an elevated setting, sometimes I get an intense red reflection on my finger underneath. Again, he has polished the steel to a black finish.

I was excited so I had to show you. You'll see this ring frequently in my photos in the future.

I'm still coming down from the high of the fashion show. I obsess about all the things I could have done better. Live and learn. But I found out that I love styling other people, which I wasn't sure I would enjoy. Good to know.
______________________________________________________

Finally,
I must mention my great thanks to Still Weird Zine for featuring me in "10 Fashion Bloggers Who are Keeping it Weird." Yesss. I am honoured to wear the weirdness banner, especially in such august company. Cool blog full of music, arts, and weirdness. Hurrah! Have a look.

And Sally at Already Pretty gave me a fantastic shout-out on her Lovely Links on Nov. 20 for my patterny outfit that refused to go wrong, here. Thank you, Sally!

I hope you are all well and dressing every day like you're on the catwalk. Yee haw!!


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