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Friday 30 October 2015

The power of the hair

I was in a foul, furry-mouthed, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard mood so I paired the bright fuchsia ruffled blouse with these ketchup-red polka-dot trousers hoping for something on the awful side, but surprisingly they kind of matched - I let it slide. 

Bag and a Beret empties her closet on her body

So I threw on my vintage zigzag coat that I took in a whole bunch (see here) thinking it might deliver that missing expletive, but no, that backfired too because I kind of liked it. What the hell?! In a last-ditch attempt I put on the dangly earrings and polka-dot ankle boots: @#$% - they were curiously matching as well. 

Mel Kobayashi in ruffles, zigzags, and polka dots, vintage and new

I blame the hair - wearing it up made everything seem bright, cheerful, and matchy whether I liked it or not. Crabby to content in under ten minutes. Not bad.

And O recently completed another ring for me, below. I know, he spoils me! I took this photo during my walk this morning. Those are my DIY knee-eye jeans. I should have moisturized my hands and done something about my nails, but, puh.

Usually I wear the ring on my other hand but I had to switch so I could hold the camera. At least you can also see the wedding rings O made as well.

The ring is scratch-made from a chunk of stainless steel and features a black finish, which means the metal has been polished so much it appears black, and a tension-mount diamond that looks like it's floating. Diamonds - with time, pressure, and heat, look how dazzling they are! Me - with time, pressure, and heat, okaaay, moving right along... 

O used a square-cut diamond, one of my few real ones, from an old piece - without asking! He said he was "freeing" the diamond. I'm so glad he did; I love this ring.

Tension-mount diamond ring set in stainless steel, Kobayashi

Finally, O holding the ring. Don't worry, the diamond won't fall out, it's really in there.

That's all. Not an exciting post I'm afraid but I did make a simple video for later. I'm singing in it - so sorry about that... Heh.

Monday 26 October 2015

An unfiltered life

Bag and a Beret, Mel in the alley with loud jacket

These pictures are all unfiltered. Yes, it was a miracle - a rare blurry fog rolled in just as I was snapping that first shot. It eerily surrounded me, then, poof, blew out a little hole in the middle leaving me in focus. I know, wild right? 

In the next photo, without warning, BAM, the world turned black and white and grey. Like the Twilight Zone or Twin Peaks. What's haaaappening? But I could handle it. 

Mel Kobayashi strolling in her little black and white world

And then, braced now for any other freaks of nature to blast me, I myself was infused by an unnatural burst of energy that made all the colours in me and on the no-smoking sign across the lane pop AND - here's the creepy part - at the same time that little blur fog moved in. 

Mel Kobayashi possessed by a burst of colour from outer space

The next photo, yeah, it could have done with a few freaks of nature, maybe a blur fog here and there or an energy pop, but, see, I'm a natural woman. I don't believe in FAKE filters. EVER! I should wear a t-shirt that says I AM UNFILTERED. I prefer to let nature wash over me, have its way with me. I go with the flow

Thrifted Armani jacket improved with scribbling from Sharpies

Which brings me to this (finger quotation) "unfiltered" thing. 
"Oh yes, here I am wearing a designer gown and tasteful makeup applied by the world's top makeup artists, relaxing on a chair that cost more than your house, bathed in the best studio lights, surrounded by a crack team of stylists whose sole job is to make me look good, being photographed by thee hottest photographer, but hell no, these photos are unfiltered!!"
Sometimes you may get a shot of yourself under glaring sunlight which, scientifically speaking, is rather cool, jeez, wrinkles growing inside wrinkles, woooow: that's unfiltered. But then you retake the shot in your bathroom with fantastic lights. No wrinkles: unfiltered. Or you get a new high-fangled camera with great lenses. Suddenly shit shots look good but they are, yup, unfiltered.

Maybe you have a friend, one who makes you laugh naturally, take your photos. You look awesome! Unfiltered. 

Or, finally, you stand in front of a tripod trying to imagine it is Fabio saying, "I can't believe it's not butter" (famous North American TV ad featuring impossibly non-sexual god-like man, link here). Okay, filtered because the thought of Fabio, well, there are no words.

Melanie Kobayashi, sketch of Turnip Head on a cruise
I was in the alley, but I wanted to be HERE!

If I do things to my photos it's because that's how I see them, how they speak to me - and even though I would love to erase specific blemishes, that's one thing I don't do. But why even tell you that? Am I falling into that stupid trap of showing off how only unfiltered photos are valid? Such crap. I'm so glad artists filter the world through their eyes. Why be content with having a mere jacket when you can have a fruity salsa on your back?

Having said all this, many of my favourite blogger shots are candid spur-of-the-moment photos which add realness. But even then, the really "bad" ones are probably filtered out, quickly buried in the yard under moonlight. Mine, they are locked in a vault in the Fort Knox bullion depository in the US, lying in wait for the tell-all book by my future personal assistant. (Well, except for that one piece Suzanne has.) Heh

This outfit is meh. Except for the, ahem, Armani Exchange jacket which I thrifted and farked the hell out of with Sharpies, close-ups are in a post I did here. The skirt is a vintage silk designer piece made in Italy by a label called Sepulchre or Plutarch or a bumpy word like that, can't remember - it's filed in my cloud storage. It swishes like a dream, especially in front of that air exhaust system.

I'm for sure linking this up to Patti's Visible Monday at her blog Not Dead Yet Style. I can't miss her party. She said there will be champagne and martinis (just a minor edit from "might be" to "will"). Heh. I'm bringing my 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup cause I'm classy that way.

Edit: I also linked an Instagram photo to Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike linkup at Not Dressed as Lamb. Thanks, Catherine! My IG photo is here.

Edit: Oct 22, 2016: I am linking to Catherine again for her Saturday Share Linkup. Heh.

Ulla-Marie, Val, and Connie have joined the Hot Harridans Reading project from my previous post. Check them out. Holy HOTNESS!!! Their links are listed at the bottom. Thanks for joining!

Sunday 18 October 2015

How to dress to impress at the office

to get 

Mel Kobayashi tries to get your attention in a stupid way, Bag and a Beret

I noticed that my new 
popup NEWSLETTER subscription notice 
was covering crucial bits in the photo. 

Aren't you glad I took it out? 

There is a rumour that blogging is dead; people can't be bothered reading anymore. With that in mind, I considered changing Bag and a Beret to a nudie blog with nudie photos all the time, no reading required. But after several seconds of soulful contemplation I decided, no - it is time to grow up and become a serious style blogger. 

Reading is not dead. Many women, especially those over 40, will brave up to 200 words for great styling tips, and who better to dish them out than moi? Welcome to my first post as a Professional Style Blogger.

Mel Kobayashi, professional style blogger
Mel Kobayashi, Professional Style Blogger
How to Dress to Impress at the Office

Note, my hair is tame, sophisticated, no more tower hair. I am wearing a tailored black blazer over a crisp white blouse, and, ever mindful of current trends, I have added a tasteful splash of colour - one must be careful never to go overboard in this department! - with a new skinny scarf tied like a man's tie. Coffee, glasses, and intellectual reading matter in a foreign language top off the look.

Stunning example of office wear for women over 40, Bag and a Beret

But what you wear with the blazer and blouse is equally, if not more, important. I chose black tights and sensible mid-height heels flattering to my ankles and kind on my feet when rushing to and from top-flight professional meetings with top-drawer people.

There are a few caveats one must keep in mind when dressing with true Professional Style like I am demonstrating here, such as being mindful that the skirt doesn't wipe everything off your colleagues' desks as you walk past and exercising care around handbags, zippers, cufflinks, fingernails, pens, books, cameras, eating utensils, jewellery, other people, and even strollers to prevent snags. Doorways are a challenge. Elevators and cars too. And chairs. 

The pouffy skirt is, however, a perfect tabletop for cradling eyewear and other small smooth objects in a pinch. 

Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi in a tutu

On second thought, maybe I'll just keep blogging the way I always have, flying by the seat of my pants - which are actually getting quite worn now, but at least they haven't come all the way off like my top in that first photo. 

This shoot was a blast. I have so many outtakes.


I am troubled that people really don't seem to be reading as much anymore. Or maybe it's not true? This was encouraging though: the always-stylish Une Femme d'un Certain Age linked readers to an awesome Instagram account a while ago called Hot Dudes Reading. Am I the last to know of it - 710,000 followers. It's photos of, yeah, hot dudes reading books, real ones. 

Okay, this is INCREDIBLY derivative but the issue of reading has been on my mind, so here is: 

Hot Harridans Reading

Besides, "hot" can have so many meanings for women over 40. This is a photo O took of me reading a fun book by Christina Schwarz called All is Vanity - hehIt's about a man who rips off another man's manuscript and what happens. Comic suspense. (Edit: No, All is Vanity is about a woman who thinks she's a genius writer and quits her day job to write the great novel - I have too many books on the go, mostly about failed and/or seriously flawed writers - what does that mean? - and I can't keep them straight. The ripped-off manuscript is in a book called About the Author by John Colapinto.)

Hot Harridans Reading, Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret

I usually wear double glasses when I read, 
regular prescription glasses and reading glasses. 
I know - so HOT!!

If you have a photo of yourself reading, leave a link in the comments section below so others can drop by. If you're on IG I'll have a hashtag there too. WE READ. WE LOVE READING!!!

I'm hooking a photo from my brief professional style blogging career to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style. I try not to miss it; she has the best parties.

I'll also link to Not Dressed as Lamb's #iwillwearwhatilike when it goes live. Thanks Catherine!

I hope you've had a good week, everyone. I'm still getting used to being on IG. So far, so good.

Ulla-Marie of DUDE (looks like a Lady) HERE
Val of Muse Fondue HERE
Connie of snow in the air HERE and HERE
Señora Allnut of Señora Allnut HERE.
Pao at Project Minima HERE.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Urban camouflage, hold the Meldo

This technicolour post is your official coffee substitute. 

I love strolling through this punchy little alley - the graffiti swallows you whole - but I have avoided shooting here, partly because it's a place of business. Then this morning, struck by a bolt of optimism - and dread of the leaden concrete studio - I packed up my gear and headed out, come what may. And, ah-ha!, there was a construction crew blocking off one end, which meant the regulars were detouring and I had the space pretty much to myself. 

Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, fuchsia coat in graffiti alley

I'm wearing my fuchsia-burst linen jacket with a mitten-clip closure, aqua Anthro flocked pants, patterned vintage jersey top with pearl buttons, black shag booties, knit tabi socks from Japan, magic loupe and rings, big blue round sunglasses.

The light was playful; its hard fall edge reflected brilliantly onto the walls in the shadows. Isn't the artwork stunning? I'm sure there is a story behind it. 

Mel Kobayashi, Bag and a Beret, fuchsia coat in graffiti alley

A few locals did drop by to say hi and see what I'm doing. One woman asked me to take her photo with her camera phone - I wish I had asked for a shot of her as well. 

Mel Kobayashi, urban camouflage in graffiti alley

This is not ordinary camo-wear; this is not an ordinary street. "Where's Meldo?" Okay, Meldo sounds like the name of a moldy cheese spread. Moving right along...

Of course the shaggy boots always add extra sproing to my step. And I love the mitten clip which works famously at keeping my jacket closed while adding visual interest. 

Mel Kobayashi, shaggy Fluevog booties in graffiti alley

Don't judge - you would look confused too: oatmeal cookie or peanut butter cookie? Hold the Meldo. I had the peanut butter with a cup of steaming hot coffee after these photos. One of my Top 5 cafes is just two minutes away. See the mitten clip?

thinking in graffiti alley, bag and a beret

On my way home after coffee, I popped into Dressew fabric store - source of the mitten clips - and was poking around their massive wig section wouldn't you know, when I heard my name called. I turned and there was Vancouver Barbara! I met her at the blogger meetup in July. She looked fantastic wearing a gorgeous grey Marcy Tilton jacket she had made, and her arms were loaded down with fabric. It was great to chat.

That's all. Oh, I'm on IG. Yeah, I'm IG-ging. I don't know how that will go. I'm just shocked that it worked at all. I put a link in the sidebar. I can't think about it now though - it will have to wait until tomorrow. O is glad that at least now I will shut up about whether or not to IG. Heh - he has no idea...

Edit: Catherine's prompt this week at #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb is pink, so I linked up with her. Thanks for the meetup!

Saturday 10 October 2015

The holeliness of the wool Alaia Paris dress

Mel Kobayashi in Alaia Paris vintage dress, Bag and a Beret

First stop. I seem to have stepped into this painting by Jeff Depner I found hanging at Nordstrom. My Alaia Paris navy and brown belted wool dress took me there. Too bad you can't hear the music in my head that accompanies this vintage vibe. 
Mel Kobayashi in Alaia Paris vintage dress, Bag and a Beret

The dress came from Anne of SpyGirl at the blogger meetup clothing swap in July and it's cool enough now to wear. Thank you, Anne! As a trash rescue, she pointed out the detailing made by moths, unsure what I would think. Well, that's what black underwear and coats are for! Greetje, No Fear of Fashion, has a great shot of this dress from the meetup here, scroll down. 

Next stop. I decided to take my party into the lobby of Hotel Georgia, which is also home to the speakeasy Prohibition. Dear me, looks like I was the only one who showed up! Passersby threw money into my toolbox handbag and afterwards I went and bought bread pudding.

Mel Kobayashi parties in Hotel Georgia lobby

I prefer this dress backwards because the belt creates two little scallop shapes below the waistline at the front which I find visually interesting. And the collar is higher in reverse. Having the snap closure on my back is tricky but nothing a little contortionism and mastery of curse words can't handle. The photo below shows how the dress was designed to look from the front.

Alaia Paris vintage brown and navy wool dress with belt

Detail of fabric wrapping, and moth holes on my shoulder. The brown swath of fabric is sewn onto the "front" of the dress, wraps around to criss-cross at the rear, and finally belts at the front. Ruching where the belt attaches to the fabric provides lovely structural detail. 

Final stop. Concrete studio for Zoolandering.

Zoolandering on Bag and a Beret

I always try to mend holes in my clothes because: 1) upkeep prevents further destruction, and 2) socially, holes are almost pathologically unacceptable, unless they are put there deliberately by a designer. Given this dress's fairly extensive damage and precise structural design, I decided to go with camouflage. 

Do any of you pro sewists have mending ideas for sprays of tiny moth holes in fine wool knits?

No matter what, you can't keep a good dress down! This dress may be frail but it still looks great, feels great, and fuels my imagination - WINNER. What about you? What do you do with your wrinkles holes? Trash, repair or camouflage?

Finally, this is a new ring O made for me. Steel and ruby. 
He doesn't use lost wax; he machines each piece.
To add visual interest he used a black finish and a brushed metal finish. 
The ruby is held in place with a tension mount. 
With so little surface contact, when the sun hits this ruby just right, 
it looks like an LED light. 
I'm not wearing the ring in these photos because it wasn't finished yet.

That's all. I guess it's Thanksgiving. Eat! EAT!! EEEAAT!!

I'll link this up on Sunday with Patti and her excellent Not Dead Yet Style party, Visible Monday

Monday 5 October 2015


Mel Kobayashi being bad in striped jacket and half-face sunglasses

Mel Kobayashi being bad in striped jacket and half-face sunglasses

       SHE IS BAD       
we're talkin' 'tude.

Mel Kobayashi in farked tartan jacket and big pants, Bag and a Beret
Bad plaid. Very, very bad. Baaad.
say it like a goat

worn to the nordstrom opening, sep 19 post - 
farked tartan jacket, big bad pants.
adding to bella's linkup for plaidurday at citizen rosebud 
(edit: the link is not on anymore. oh well.)




Edit: I had a birthday during 2015, but not terribly, horribly recently. All I can say is I'm not a Libra. I've just been thinking about age lately.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Silk wrap, satin, and sequins. And Hat Attack!

I can't tell you how long I spent on this first piece of artwork below. Well, I can, but I won't. The vintage satin and sequin Chinese padded vest needed to be immortalized. As did those stretch caramel leather booties. And the hair, well, see paragraph below.

Remember when I said in the previous post, if you don't know what SEO is (search engine optimization) you might as well scrap your blog and stick your head in the toilet? Clearly, I'm as bad as it gets - the hair don't lie.
Connie summed it up with such erudition in her comment: "schblah-glunge-schwoop." 

But therein lies my genius. I am expecting correspondence from Liquid Plumber drain cleaner any day now with a glamorous sponsorship offer that will have all tip-top fashonistas clamouring for similar deals. Who better to sell that shite than someone with a swirly? Especially middle-aged with a swirly. And imagine the fun I'd have making videos to pitch their products.

Next I'll have automotive and electrical parts companies beating down my electronic door. And I shall be living on Cloud 9 where everything is at my beck and call. Hurrah. Flush

Mel Kobayashi in patchwork silk wrap, Bag and a Beret

Onto the fashion:
Above is a couture look that says, wow, looks like that lady got tangled up in a wraparound skirt. Astute! It is indeed a maxi wraparound skirt, but one that's too precious, I felt, to be trapped within the rubric of the granola-cruncher set - not that that's a bad thing. Some of my favourite mammals eat granola.

No, this silk piece cried out for romantic fluttering closer to my heart, an intense infusion of incense, Shinto shrines, Lawrence of Arabia and Marrakesh night markets, paper lanterns, Paris runways, bordellos and bourbon. A whirlwind in my closet! In a word - a silk body wrap.

To add to the romance, under the wrap I am wearing my farked tank dress backwards. The script I painted on it, "I Surrender to the Chaos," seemed much more fitting positioned under my ass than my boobs, the latter of which never put up a fight to begin with making surrender a rather moot point. Plus, with this wrap the words were only legible from the back, at least when I left home, and both shirt sleeves were fully covered as well. All the best couture is slidey, don't you find? 

Bag and a Beret, Mel wears flesh-eating booties

I am also wearing black jeggings, and on my feet thrifted lace-up booties and colourful Harlequin socks with black athletic socks underneath to prevent scraping of my ankles. Yes, cute shoes, but even without a tongue they give me quite a nasty lashing.

I may have only paid five dollars for this swath of processed caterpillar spit, but it looked and felt like a million bucks when I sashayed through Nordstrom, yesh. Cloud 9. Royal flush

Bag and a Beret, Mel wait for the train to adventure

And a parting photo of the sequin satin vest. I would have enjoyed acting in silent movies; maybe in a previous (still ongoing?) life I did. In this photo I see a young (heh), small-town woman clutching her bags, waiting for the train to carry her off to the big city where I suspect she would take up smoking, drinking gin, and scandalously rolling down her stockings. 

Which favourite automotive part would you like as a sponsor?
On Sunday I'll hook this up with Patti, hostess of one of the longest-running link-up parties ever - Visible Monday - at Not Dead Yet Style. Have you seen her new place? Schpetacular!
Hi Judith and everyone! See you at the meetup at Style Crone.
Unexpectedly feeling like a cowboy in this hat, a plain blue cotton cloche worn 
high with the brim turned up. Chanel sunglasses.
Jacquard "Mad Hatter" jacket that feels
like furniture. Mmm.
Get the cards ready. It's going to be an all-nighter.
Who's bringing the pie?
Thanks, Judith!

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