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Wednesday 27 May 2015

If Bieber can wear it, so can I

I was arrested by this siren-red thing drooping on the $5 rail as I did my regular thrift shop walk-by. What was it? Jammies? Undies? For exercise? For seduction? It was constructed well, but I finally bought it because it said The Norwegian Original and I have always admired Scandinavian countries.
Bag and a Beret photo of onesie by OnePiece
It turns out this onesie by OnePiece is high-flyin' celeb style and this Slim Fit like mine retails for $149. The OnePiece site features countless photos of young music/film/TV stars wearing them (here), including Justin Bieber in a red one. Well, if he can wear one, so can I. 
Of course, Bieber is fly, he's down.* I'm down and I can be a fly in training, which would make me, um, a maggot. Moving right along.

A winning feature of this garment is you can zip it right up over your face. Boo-yeeah! Think of all those bad hair days, zip and gone! The company is clearly missing a vital marketing opportunity in the middle-aged tween group of women who are maladjusted and will go to any lengths to conceal the signs of aging. 
My fear of using the tripod in Stanley Park for this self-timer photo was I'd zip this onesie shut and not be able to unzip it. By the time I would have gnawed by way through the cotton, not only would my camera and tripod be gone, but I'd be surrounded by hoards of tourists filming the Canadian wildlife, which would be absurd - I'm only still a maggot. 

I chose the park for these photos because I liked the quivering contrast between the urban street punk and tranquillity vibe, and between the red and green. (And in case I got lost - I'd be easier to find.)
Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi in OnePiece
My rating of this OnePiece? Tip-top. It was comfortable, except for a slight diaper-walk effect from the dropped crotch. There was a convenient bottom-up zip for emergencies - of what nature we can only speculate - and handy pockets at crotch level too. Yes. Well. 

I think I should be on the celebrity page. I'm almost fly. I'm down, not today particularly because I had fun in the park, but sometimes I am. Please put me on the Celebrity Page. 
Contact (Just thought I'd throw that into the universe, heh.)
*I am not a fan of Bieber. I don't even know any of his songs. And this is NOT a sponsored post.

And I went out for lunch with my friend Sharron yesterday and afterwards we took photos. I've featured her before on my street style blog, here and here. This is one of my favourite shots from her iPhone; she encouraged me to post it and I love it, so here it is. 
Bag and a Beret, tartan jacket
Photo by Sharron Burnard, 2015
I'm wearing the farked jacket from two posts ago with men's sailor pants, chain belt as a necklace, and magic loupe. I'm also wearing new lipstick courtesy of Sharron. THANK YOU! I LOVE IT! The Holt Renfrew woman put it on me professionally and I noticed the difference with my Crayola crayon approach.

And another red thing I saw at the park today:
Finally, a huge thank you to Debbie Iles at Lily Sage & Co. for featuring me on her Friday Showcase on the weekend. She is a wildly talented sewist and I was honoured to be on her blog. And thank you for your very kind, generous comments! 

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. And don't worry. After I become a onesie schtar I won't forget you. I better go practise getting down in the fly way now.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Who wore it better? Outfit outrage!

Transcript: "Who Wore it Better?!"
Episode 2: "Two Celebrities Duke it Out"
Location: Schtellar Studios, Miz Bagg Network, Burbank, California, USA

Show Host - Helen: Time to sharpen your claws, Ladies, for another thrilling episode of - say it with me - [audience joins in]:
Today we have Melanie and Turnip Head who embarrassingly showed up at the Miz Bagg Universal Universe Awards in the SAME OUTFIT. Quel faux pas, darlings! [laughter, boos] I mean reeally!

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret and Turnip Head in outfit scandal!
Turnip Head, left, and Melanie, right, caught in outfit scandal!! Who wore it better?!
You'll have seen the red carpet footage. [murmuring] Talk about a barroom brawl! [applause, whistles] Each claimed to be wearing a Miz Bagg original and accused the other, in shockingly unintelligible expletives, of a straight-up style rip-off. [oooh] Miz Bagg, who was seen filming the fight on her iPhone, declined comment.
The rowing duo eventually lurched screaming and sobbing into the restroom where the smackdown continued. [OOOH] When they emerged, they were disheveled and entangled in toilet paper, which, thanks to Miz Bagg's keen eye, has become today's hottest look. [applause, whistles]

We're lucky to have both Turnip Head and Melanie with us in the studio to dish it direct. Please, let's give it all up for Ms. Turnip Head! [enthusiastic applause, cheering]

Turnip Head enters and sits in the guest chair.

Thank you for joining us, Ms. Head. Could you tell us in your own words what happened?  Did you have the dress first? How do you think Melanie looked in it?

Turnip Head: Yesh, that Melanie is just a little human slave of the Evil One. [sniff] She thinks she is so hot. But I had my outfit FIRST! She looked like, cabbage! [oooh]
Turnip Head goes wild, Bag and a Beret
Melanie, waiting offstage, bursts on set

Melanie: Why you smirking little vegetable. We know I had mine first. I even bought that robe thingy when I met Suzanne and Sue at our blogger meetup. Hey, I think I have a vegetable peeler in my toolbox handbag somewhere. Maybe you'd like to meet my friend Julienne. [OOOH]

Camera zooms in on toolbox handbag-
BBQ chips, a dirty sweat sock, unwrapped candies with hair stuck on them. 

Turnip Head: Oh, yeah? R-r-really? Look who's talking, the loser, capital L, who nobody complimented your stinkin' frankened Desigual dress. [Ooooh]

Melanie: I said I don't care about that! Don't you even check my Twitter, starch ass?

Turnip Head: Oh yeah? Well, well, y-you know what? You're not even on Twitter...!!!

Turnip Head and Melanie lunge at each other. 
Muffled oofs and aaahs. 
Audience laughter, screaming, scuffling, camera black out.
Cut to commercial for Dentabone doggy tooth whitening treats.

Debriefing after the show at Melanie's home:
Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in Turnip Head outfit
I wore it first! (love my hair here) But Turnip Head definitely wore it better.
This is in fact the long cover-up I bought the day I met Suzanne and Sue on our blogger meetup, the garment I had my eye on for two years. Because the maxi dress under it is a bit too long, I have to belt and bunch it as much as possible, and wear heels besides. This dress I'll hem. Wearing it I felt like I was on a red carpet, well, maybe a purple one.

  • thrifted aqua cover-up with sequins along the scalloped edges 
  • thrifted aqua long-sleeve maxi dress with matching gauzy under-dress
  • thrifted Miu Miu biker boots
  • DIY bug pendant
  • garbage-room-find dainty necklace 
  • thrifted chain belt, thrifted vintage leather belt 
  • gifted vintage earrings, thrifted vintage sunglasses, and magic loupe. 
Off the record, Turnip Head and I didn't fight at all. That was just sneaky show biz promoting Miz Bagg's new TP style. We used the gift certificate Miz Bagg paid us on a lovely lunch at McDonald's (I paid the difference). I don't carry a veggie peeler in my toolbox handbag either. As for the other stuff, you'll never know.

Have you ever been caught in a scandalous identical outfit situation? I don't get it. If it were a financial argument, yeah, maybe, but it always seems to be about Who wore it better? If we really want something serious to debate, how about this: bananas - can you really peel them from the bottom?

Sunday 17 May 2015

Dumpy to punky tartan jacket

(If you believe in the sanctity of a traditional vintage tartan jacket, leave this post right now!)
Bag and a Beret, upcycled tartan jackeet
I bought this vintage wool jacket by Skirtmaker of Canada for only $5 at My Sister's Closet a few months ago. As I walked by, it poked me and said: PUNK! Never mind that it was much too huge on me - to close it, the front flaps overlapped the pockets - I had to have it. We'll just see who's the punk here.
Bag and a Beret, side and back views tartan jacket
O took these photos. The green stripes are painter's tape which I used during the ideas phase.
Turnip Head kept jumping on O's back and laughing.
The wool fabric was beautiful, except for there being so much of it, and I loved the padded linebacker shoulders, cuffed sleeves, stiff interfacing, silky red lining, and matched seams. But as is, all this jacket was good for was taunting me. I couldn't ignore its punk pulse!

Then finally I had an idea; rather, I had a bout of bravado with scissors.

Much better...aaah. I ran straight to the alley. And I didn't use my camp stool this time.
Bag and a Beret, upcycled tartan jacket by Melanie Kobayashi
Love this camera angle.
This isn't your cup of tea? Perhaps you'd like something shaken and stirred. Like my Everest-best hair.
Bag and a Beret, upcycled tartan jacket by Melanie Kobayashi, feeling punk
Details: This whole outfit was probably less than $30. Bwahaha.
  • origami tartan wool jacket, upcycled, thrifted for $5
  • thrifted black jeans, $5
  • thrifted Steve Madden army boots, I don't remember, $15?
  • thrifted white GAP large T-shirt, $5
  • gifted magic loupe
I've got my late-seventies/early-eighties Vivienne Westwood groove on, especially with the peaky hair, which gave a stellar performance for my shoot, even in the wind - a woman asked me how I keep it so vertical so she could tell her son. Heh. 

Probably I couldn't replicate the jacket design again if I tried. There was serious origami work going on to achieve the asymmetrical design.
Rear belt flaps as front straps, buttons near shoulders, reconfigured lapel on left, asymmetrical closure.
The original rear belt was transformed into two front straps and I sewed the pocket flaps onto the back of the jacket as embellishment. I didn't reduce the width, merely sewed two button just under the shoulder and folded and darted and hacked as needed.

I also transferred an existing buttonhole from the cut-off fabric to the end of one of the front straps (left side in photo); it was easier than making a brand new matching buttonhole, at least for me. What a slacker! 

Decorative pocket flaps.
Below the collar is down, but I think I prefer it up.  
Bag and a Beret, upcycled tartan jacket, profile, by Melanie Kobayashi
I thought of making the profile more body-hugging, then decided, nah, I like that bag effect. And I thought of hanging chains from the hem, but, no, that would be too prosaic. But I did feel like doing the pogo.

The alley here was busy. I wanted to say, in a very ladylike voice: Excuse me, sir, can you not FRIGGIN' SEE I'M PHOTOGRAPHING MY NEW JACKET HERE!!?? Nyunh, puh.
Bag and a Beret, disturbed at work by a van
Accidental snap when a van had the audacity to photo bomb my set.
I'm so happy I could share this with you. That's one of the great things about blogging that keeps me going.

I'm hooking this Jacket-I-Love-So-Much to Patti's Visible Monday. It didn't have much of a pulse, but it was certainly "not dead yet style". I need to see what you're wearing! 

And below, one final styling I wore today.
Bag and a Beret gets down on the wall
Breakdancing? Doh, wrong era. (photo was rotated, floor removed)
This outfit cost $15, minus the shoes: thrifted t-shirt $5, thrifted mod-ish wool maxi vintage skirt (with a new zipper) $5, jacket $5, magic loupe gift, thrifted shoes maybe $15.
Bag and a Beret, tartan jacket, platform shoes
Okay, that's all. It was a big post. It was a big jacket. I'm working hard at the moment and had to resort to the concrete box. Better than nothing I guess.

Have you got clothes taunting you? How do you shut them up!!?

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Groovy bell bottoms two ways

It's like this: I don't have a photographer, so I just have to take care of business myself. It's time to learn my camera better. And it's time to break out of that concrete studio - the stairwell and garbage room atelier. There's a whole city out there calling me.

So now I sometimes lug my camp stool and tripod around with me. I mean, adding a little more eccentricity to the mix isn't really going to make a difference, is it? And chutzpah is a good thing, right? Plus, if I have to take one more photo with my back against the wall I'm going to screeeam!
Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Bell Bottom Executive
"As chairwoman of Miz Bagg Mining Corporation I call this meeting to order." Wait, where is everyone? "Come back! You're not afraid of a little... Oh, yes, well, I have some spray disinfectant in my bag." It's odd that the whole city beckons, but my best business is conducted in alleys. (Hm, that didn't come out right.)
Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Fringed Vest
There are advantages. I can do this. Spinning action - without whapping passersby. And I can give myself bonuses at the nearby coffee shop. On this day it was a oat-chocolate chip bar accompanied by a nutty, chocolately piping-hot coffee and hearty guffaws as I looked through the outtakes from this photo session.
Everything in balance; balance in everything.
What the hell is she wearing?
  • groovy thrifted bell bottoms, sold as '70s vintage but I suspect they are vintage-style new pants based on the somewhat crap quality of the fabric and the sewing. There's no label.
  • thrifted wool fringed vest
  • thrifted tropical top with sequined neck and sleeves and a T underneath for warmth and modesty
  • thrifted Ingledew's leather ankle boots, like new
  • thrifted lucky charm beaded bag
  • I forgot the magic loupe from O, which I cursed at and another reason alleys are good
  • insect-style sunglasses, vintage now, bought new
Eee-yeah! These groovy pants recall happy days with my transistor radio. CKLW in the Motor City. 
This song by Lighthouse (1972) was a staple of my tender youth: "And yet, there's nothin' better for your soul / Than lyin' in the sun and listenin' to rock 'n' roll"
Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Alley in Bell Bottoms
This photo was taken near another alley close to the coffee shop. I couldn't actually take photos solo in that particular alley because other people do business in there, not the executive kind like I do, but the kind that involves real money. Yup, people digging for gold in alley muck and gold-diggers in million-dollar condos all in the same block. And me with my camp stool staking my own claim. Fool's gold. I need s'mores. 

Hey, who took my inflatable gavel? Suzanne...?
Melanie Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, Diesel T and Bell Bottoms
And one last look at these great stripey bell bottoms, worn here with my new thrifted oversized men's Diesel T that features a photo of a man's torso. I wore this with a black velvet tuxedo blazer you haven't seen.

I'm linking these stripes up to Anne's 52 Pick-me-up: Stripes on her blog Spy Girl. She is sporting some particularly peaky hair. Have a look, or even join in!

Saturday 9 May 2015

Man repeller malfunction

As I slid this awesome patchwork garment over my head, I thought, oooh, this will be a sure-fire man-repeller. I'm not likely to hear: "Oooh, baby, your quilty sack with that uni-suspender is makin' me hot!" Usually when I'm getting dressed I don't give a thought to what other people might think about what I'm wearing (unless I'm going to the financial district) but nothing screams unsexy more than a quilt, especially when it's held up by a uni-suspender to keep it from falling down around my ankles.
Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi in patchwork skirt
The first time I wore this oversized skirt, to Sheila's birthday party linkup HERE, I cinched in its hugeness with a belt. After that, I decided to make the skirt into a poncho, so I ripped out the existing dodgy zipper and sewed up the gap, intending to install a new full-length zipper in another spot. But then this happened: 
Bag and a Beret, sketch by Melanie Kobayashi, poncho
I couldn't turn this into a poncho without arm holes; that would be like, um, a straight-jacket. But really, arm holes, zippers, where does it all end!? Do I look like friggin' Julia Child with a sewing machine?! That's when I discovered that the skirt goes over my shoulders without a zipper at all and my uni-suspender could hold it up. And it looks even better lopsided and backwards. Hurrah! 
Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi in patchwork skirt with uni-suspender
Glamour shot outdoors in the loading bay
As for my man-repeller supposition, people were drawn to my quilt like moths to moldering wool. 

The first woman to comment: "You look so elegant." No, she was serious and was sporting advanced style herself. I know, I know - elegant isn't the first word that springs to mind, especially with the vest, but I was seriously working my serene I-own-this-city 'tude. I replied: "Oh, thank you. It's a lovely day for a stroll, isn't it?"(!) True. What I was thinking was: "Hell, yeee-ah, baby. I'm gettin' my quilt on!"

Next, a woman shouted out her car window, "That's fantaaaastic!" She startled me. Then, three boisterous construction workers went silent and bowed their heads shy-like as I glided past. One of them spluttered, "That's a beautiful dress."(!) And so the morning progressed to my astonishment. 
Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi, patchwork skirt
Did I hear garbage trucks? I better hurry.
  • thrifted vintage crimplene patchwork skirt upcycled into a sack
  • ivory long-sleeved cotton top, retail
  • uni-suspender, I made it in slacking fashion, couldn't be bothered with two straps
  • DIY mantis pendant, plastic bug on a Liz Claiborne Christmas ornament
  • thrifted D&G pony shoes
  • thrifted faux fur vest
  • colourful Harlequin socks, retail
  • thrifted vintage sunglasses, gifted magic loupe, gifted vintage beads
Sadly, my thrifted D&G pony shoes are going bald in patches. What am I going to do?! I can't turn them into a poncho, can I...? Glue, did you say? Neigh. NEVER!

The sunny skies, my happy patchwork mood, tax back, the phase of the moon, peaky hair - who knows what it was that turned a mere sack into pot of gold, but for this wonderful morning I was Queen of Quilt. It was delightful. It was completely unexpected.

Has it ever happened to you? Do you ever walk like a queen? An elf? A cat? Do people notice? What's the impact?

And, May 10 is Mother's Day in North America, so I raise a glass to mothers. It's a hard job (and one I turned down flat, heh).

PS: Awesome Kezzie says that this reminds her of Colin Baker's Doctor Who coat. So I shall link this up with TARDIS Tuesday on My Closet Catalogue. Hee.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Would you wear swear words?

Do you remember this dress - I mean these dresses? I frankened two Desigual dresses (gifts from Ariane) into one maxi I call "Teacup" (here). I adore Desigual's colours and patterns so much I can live with their occasional sweet text, such as "Happy", despite my knee-jerk reaction, "Kiss my...." Which brings me to another topic - swearing on clothing: is that any worse than pushing a Stepford vibe? Think about it: how many men's shirts do you see with Happy?

For clothing that speaks my language check out Lyn Slater (Accidental Icon) as she appears in a Grey Magazine editorial shot by Ari Seth Cohen, which he posted on Advanced Style here. Maybe you've seen it already. Scroll down and look for the sequins. You'll know the one I mean. (And given that the piece costs US$1,050, I would amend the text to indicate things are comparatively worse.)
Bag and a Beret, Desigual maxi
Turnip Head fills in for my own head.
Outfit details: 2-in-1 Desigual "Teacup" maxi, vintage mint-green bolero jacket, mantis DIY pendant (Liz Claiborne Christmas ornament with bug), whale airship pendant, magic loupe, black tights, geta-ish sandals. 

When I wore this out for the first time, I got these comments: Love your jacket, Great pattern, Love your pendant, Love your colour; even, Love your shoes. Upon reflection, one comment was conspicuously absence: Love your dress! Haha. I have an over-abundance of that sentiment myself not to feel the absence too keenly. I am still Happy (rassen frassen succotash).
click to enlarge
Teacup's fetching wide thigh architecture will ensure plenty of wear. Next time I'll try the dress with my fringed platform booties to avoid the plank-foot effect.
Bag and a Beret, Kobayashi journal sketch
Journal sketch from January. I had just bought a lovely non-text pailette top.
Despite my bravado, I probably wouldn't publicly wear a garment with curse words or potty words on it, except for "pissed off," which is a ubiquitous term for angry; except, if I were gifted such a $1,050 Ashish sequin top, yeah, I would wear it (here too, but I think it looks best on women +50). It would be rude not to. But I wouldn't wear the statement on cotton - that would be tawdry (heh) - or even on a sequin baseball cap. However, I saw a man the other day with a "Go f*ck your selfie" cotton T-shirt and laughed. 

When I do wear text on a T-shirt, it's usually a DIY by me or a friend. But a corporation, a  big brand, churning out masses of happy garments with happy writing and happy logos from their Orwellian happy factories to make women happy?
You want me to be Happy? Show me a kitty. 

I don't get pissed off if I see a woman wearing happy text unless her eyes are glazed over, she's holding out a tray of freshly-baked cookies as she jerk-stop bridal walks down the sidewalk, has sparks coming out of her ears, and there's a happy man with crumbs on his face and a remote control behind her. Fecker.
Bag and a Beret, Teacup maxi made from 2 Desigual dresses
What say you? Are you a happy-shirt or curse-word-shirt person? Should more men's shirts feature words like Happy, Beauty, Joy (Nausea, Gagging, Retching)? 

Friday 1 May 2015

One jacket two ways, style science, and swirly hair

I love this sideways business-ish look. The houndstooth coat was $5 from My Sister's Closet, wool/cashmere with silky white lining, made in Canada by Propaganda, great for the cool day. You can tell it was big bucks in a previous life. Thank you, donor. 
Bag and a Beret, Melanie Kobayashi
Other pieces: vintage tuxedo pants, lined, with cummerbund-style waistband, by Simon Chang, a well-known Canadian designer, $5 at MSC. They are too large but baggy was "in" for this '80s design so I'll leave them slip-slidey. Granny shoes, thrifted. Tool-box handbag from O who knows me so well. Magic loupe from O. Thrifted tux blouse, gifted vintage tie. 

I wore this jacket for the Gaze Line Experiments conducted at the Miz Bagg Labs of the Universe. The stunning results are detailed below.

The Gaze Line Equation
Gaze Line Equation by Melanie Kobayashi
This figure and accompanying mathematical equation represent the culmination of exhaustive and rigorous scientific research funded by Miz Bagg on how the eye travels when one views garb on another person. In the final analysis, the greatest beneficiary of the gaze line is the bird. Miffed at the results, Miz Bagg made a ginormous feather hat.
    Science rules all. Yes. If you would like to nominate me for the Nobel Prize, please do.
    Bag and a Beret, Melanie Kobayashi
    It turns out I was useless as a gaze-line experiment subject. The banks of hot beeping computer equipment and the metal helmet with lightning rod thingies and cables kept blowing up. I don't understand it. In this case, the gaze line got lodged in my jacket and the viewer passed out. Wasted lab time.

    JACKET WORN SECOND WAY: with platform sandals and sweat socks. (Horror! Put that helmet back on her head!)
    Bag and a Beret, Melanie Kobayashi, houndstooth jacket
    Look, same jacket worn another way the next day. It's with my thrifted silky pink and orange tunic/dress (pyjamas?) worn tucked into my thrifted Cartonnier flocked turquoise pants, thrifted platform Steve Madden sandals with retail Reebok ankle sweat socks, and vintage gold stretch belt. Magic loupe of course.
    Bag and a Beret, Melanie Kobayashi, platform sandals
    Yeah, I'm a punk. I needed to be - I had to traverse the banking district to get to a yummy food shop and you may know how that conservative vibe in the air pisses me right off. The two photos of this outfit are lifted from a video, quicker than photo-taking, although the results are grainy. Outdoors is still best. 
    Bag and a Beret, Melanie Kobayashi
    Okay, so what's up with the swirly hair? More to the point (heh), what's up with Canadian women over 40 and this peakish hairstyle? Ariane of Style Sud-Est, Sheila of Ephemera, and Shelley of Forest City Fashionista all have varying degrees of peaks. Sheila and Shelley's are brilliantly coloured hair statements, like the plumage of exotic birds.

    Is it something in the air? In the water? As Canadians do we feel it our patriotic duty to point Due North? Whatever the reason, I like the chaotic/edgy/Vivienne Westwood/surly pixie vibe I get when I wear my hair styled in a peak. Plus, it's easy to blow-dry, and morning bed-head becomes an official "look," at least in my case.

    I don't know the real name for this style except it seems to be the opposite of a mullet, perhaps a matlet, a Middle-Aged-Tween reverse mullet.

    Are there any contagious hairstyles where you live? Are you immune? What's your effect on the gaze line?
    One last gratuitous shot to show you the platforms on these suckers. Heh. 
    Of course I shall be linking this up with Patti's next Visible Monday when it opens on her blog Not Dead Yet Style. That's a crowd that can wear anything like a schtar, no two ways about it (ba-da-bum). I know I'll see you there...!!?

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