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Monday 25 April 2016

The trend that ate her brain

Trends - they're inescapable. One minute I'm laughing at the fashion lemmings running full tilt toward the cliff, then, blam, I'm reaching for the hideous onesie on the $5 rack.

I figure trend messages are like little bits of dirt that stick to me wherever I go. They come not through TV or fashion magazines, but style blogs and high-end retailers where I ogle opulence and dig for DIY ideas.

yellow trench coat, Bag and a Beret

So my latest downfall and touchdown - the yellow trench coat, worn here with my happy doggie scarf.

Most of the trend particles are usually expelled; I like to go my own way. But once in a while they get wedged in dark crannies in my brain where, after weeks of constant abrasion, they are transformed into frigging pearls. (I wish it worked like that with cash in my wallet.) This particular pearl was thrifted last week.

Below is the heavy blue satiny dress I wore under the coat, fully lined with pockets. It's "laundry by design" brand. Thrifted. I've had it for years and seldom wore it because I thought it was too short.

dress, laundry by design, Bag and a Beret

While I usually can't pinpoint the origin of my own lemming leaps, in this particular case I can: Not Dressed as Lamb. I shall blame Catherine. Hahaha!! And thank her too because, come on, a yellow trench coat? It's not that she was pushing yellow trench coats like a dealer on the street or a trend hound, but one week she had a link-up theme on yellow and two weeks later a theme on trench coats. Blam!

I'm sure there are other fabulous bloggers who are complicit in this purchase. You know who you are. I of course absolve myself of any responsibility whosoever. I'm clever like that. You may admit your guilt in the comments below. Heh.

Digging the onesie trend over 40, Bag and a Beret

Two cases above where I've succumbed to trends. Left: the denim onesie, vintage, thrifted before all the hoopla, but still. And right: the red onesie, thrifted when the trend was dying.

And yes, I've also been wearing my shorter dresses lately, but with opaque tights instead of jeggings or slim-fit pants. This switch seems like a big deal, maybe because tights in general have a rep for being more slatternly than jeggings or jeans, especially on 40+ women wearing suspiciously high hemlines. "Oh, that hussy. She thinks she can disguise those five layers of tights as jeggings or pants? It's a disgrace."

Short dresses with tights over 40, Bag and a Beret

At least my dresses are being worn once again as they were intended - as dresses, not as tunics or long tops. I can't foresee going barelegged with a shorter dress, but never say never. And don't get me wrong, I like tunics, but they don't suit me when I'm in this edgy, pissed off mood.

My style is in flux, as it always is. I just wonder what will happen if someone hosts a linkup featuring green vinyl bikinis one week and pink faux fur the next. Vix? Can you at least give me a little warning so I can corner the market over here when that trend takes its grip? Heh.

Short dresses with tights over 40, Bag and a Beret

I'll be linking this demure little trench to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and to Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb.

That's all, kittehs. It's an interesting week ahead. I'll tell you all about it later.

Also, Katrin Braga, the photographer for Claire Cormeau's Nuage line, posted a new portrait of me. Oh! If you want to see it, check it here.

Also, on his blog Advanced Style, Ari Seth Cohen posted a brilliant piece written by Debra Rapoport in response to criticisms of her style made on Ari's Facebook after he posted Debra's photo. Excellent writing! Exactly!! It's HERE.

Monday 18 April 2016

But is it still a T-shirt?

Finding your art oomph after it's been lost for weeks can be a religious experience. I had been wandering listlessly through a haze of bleh, pfft, and meh. I was practically drooling in lethargy. Daily I would stare with blank eyes at my art materials and fabric carefully arranged all over the living room floor in emergency preparedness and as hopeful prompts for a fark attack. (See glossary below for clarification.)

Upcycled T-shirt, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

Then, WHAM!!! Turn down the volume!! I got the fever. I farked a T-shirt! Hurrah!! This white XL T-shirt is now a kimono-y T-shirt with dual-purpose sleeves - short or extra long. It was a transcendental farkathon. 

It's a mysterious world. Oh yesh. 

Upcycled T-shirt, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

This calls for some singing: "I can bring home the bacon, ba-rah-da-dum, Fry it up in a pan, ba-rah-da-dum, And never ever let you forget it's not spam..." Cause I'm classy like that. Getting my fark beat back makes me feel almighty. I want to sing like Peggy Lee.

Blue brows above. I wore them that morning with a manly outfit and my black moto jacket, no lipstick because I was digging the sallow pallor. When I finished the shirt in the afternoon, I decided to team it and the brows with my farked rocker pants and boots for a shoot in the concrete box round about midnight. Lipstick was essential.

Upcycled T-shirt with big sleeves, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

Note the hair cut, courtesy of O. Above is a jeans photo I took today, when I actually wore the T-shirt outside for the first time under a vintage ivory Asian-style silk jacket. 

[Skip to the end if this stuff bores you. There is no test.]
I sliced the T-shirt up the front middle, overlapped the two sides and stitched them in place with contrasting thread. I had an old blue cardigan and I cut off the sleeves, then separated the front and back pieces. I folded the front piece in half length-wise, keeping it buttoned, and sewed it shut to make a tube. Then I sewed the waistband end to the T-shirt sleeve. Now I can easily stick my arm through wherever I like.

Upcycled T-shirt with big sleeves, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

I did the same for the green floral shirt, except in reverse - I sewed the green shirt collar end to the T cuff. I also kept the short-sleeve on the green shirt so I can have short sleeves or long.

The slit opening at my right wrist used to be the cardigan V-neck. And there's the green shirt armhole at my left elbow. I turned the sleeve up in this photo - they are both very long, which I like. 

I also took up the shoulder of the white T on the left side, added a black patch for detail, and slit the side seams a little bit. The tag came off so I had to sew it back on because I like that mess.

I love my new T-shirt. I was originally going to write all over it - "I am not a brand!" - but I hesitated at the last minute. Some things are done when they're done. I'm not sure about this piece yet. 

There's something slightly zombie about this photo.

Zombie in upcycled T-shirt with big sleeves, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

The blue cardigan and green top were already bagged for donation, too small, I shouldn't have bought them in the first place but I was seduced by their colour and the pattern. I was sad to see them go, so I enlisted them in my T-shirt project figuring if I make a mistake, no big deal, they were goners anyway. And of course, that's exactly the thinking I need to cozy up to the sewing machine and sew like a madwoman!! 

And have a blast! Threads flying! Machine wheezing. Pins poking and sproinging pell mell. It was quite a vortex of energy. O hid.

Upcycled T-shirt with big sleeves, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

You should see me whip those sleeves around like little helicopters. And note the cowlick in my hair. It comes from my whorl. When cows tongue-bathe their young, they create swirls in their hair, hence the word. Lovely. Ain't nobody going to be licking my hair!

Anyway, I proclaim this:

art oomph - creative spark
bleh, pfft, meh: words that kind of mean blah with a negative edge if you can work up any emotion whatsoever
fark - farked, farking, farkathon, words I made up, a combination of f*cked/faked/farted, in reference to altering, upcycling, or refashioning an existing item, especially clothing, with unexpected results
digging - member of the groovy, heavy, far-out family of words only dorks like me use these days, meaning loving
whorl: the twirly part of your hair usually on top of your head, which you curse and hide or, like me, play up like it's meant to be there - can't beat 'em, join 'em. Question: Do whorls goes the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere, like water going down a drain?
the lyrics: From a song made famous by Peggy Lee. Instead of "spam" the real lyrics say "man."
pell-mell: Means here and there in a chaotic way.

Blue brows with upcycled T-shirt, Bag and a Beret, Mel Kobayashi

My blue brows and my green sleeve and blue sleeve, shoulder patch of olive mesh and black fleece. That's a ring O made me from scratch. See, yes, I do get wife bonuses all the time (in reference to last post). O is awesome.

I'll link something here up with Patti's Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed at Lamb. And a big thank you to Catherine for her post this week HERE on how more brands should be enlisting 40+ blogger women in their campaigns. And I'm happy to see Claire get this exposure for her brilliant designs. Thanks, Catherine! 

And I can't believe with all these colours I'm not wearing amethyst, Anne's prompt at SpyGirl for 52-Pick-me-up. Oh well, go have a look anyway and link if you're wearing amethyst.

What have you been up to lately?

Monday 11 April 2016

Hey, where's my wife bonus?!

When everything is for sale, so much depends on making a good pitch.

But a good pitch alone isn't enough. You need to have a clearly defined target audience, aka friends. In a bid for self-improvement, I shall reprogram my internal algorithm which will convey my value more arithmetically not only to others but also myself, thereby enhancing my brand appeal and user interface. Hurrah! Whaaa...?

The mural backdrop is a snapshot of my existing algorithm. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Mel Kobayashi - OH NO! I forgot to have kids!! DIY T-shirt
My algorithm is fecked. That's it in the background. Of course my user interface is whacked. My DIY T-shirt.

Even kids are on board with this stuff, "Hey, mum, I expanded my target audience at school today." "Well done, honey. I think you just added points to your Daughter Bonus for that." Twinkle-eyed winks.

It's essential that you sell yourself in all aspects of your life; making deals should be second nature. Demand payment up front and never undersell yourself. Heh.

For example, I'm still waiting for my Wife Bonus from O, you know, for managing an efficient and attractive home. I am a strict and elaborately-dressed taskmaster when it comes to cleaning staff and rearing our children stellarly. Okay, so the kids are little silverfish (not a metaphor). I kill them regularly, well, no, I can't bear it - they are so cute - but I yell for O and he takes care of them.

Mel Kobayashi - Bag and a Beret - floral splendour, heh.
I'm working hard for my wife bonus! The same frilly blouse as the previous post but with a colourful jacket made in Korea. You can see the fabric texture on the arms. Swoony. 
I have been known to body double the cleaning staff. That should get me points! Not only that, I shall demand triple Wife Bonus points for doing dangerous stunt work - it ain't easy hanging over the side of a tub juggling cleaning products and a sponge.* I was thinking I'd buy a sailboat.
(*Don't be fooled, it's all part of my pitch - I don't think I've ever done that!)

I kind of missed out on the Push Ring for pumping out a real kid. But hot-diggity-dog, it may not be too late! I've just found out that a grandmother somewhere, perhaps in an asylum, gave birth to triplets. Ooh, if I have quintuplets that means five rings, right? Tiffany, here I come! (O has just picked up the phone. I think he's calling the asylum, perhaps for himself.)

Mel Kobayashi - Bag and a Beret - gothy jacket
My lovely gothy/rock jacket with mini-ruffled, neon orange, high-collar blouse and flocked Anthropologie pants. New (old) lace-up ankle boots. I wear outfits like this to clean the oven, which is full of electronic goods. 

Holy cow, adding up the Wife Bonuses, the Push Rings, and the profits from my new algorithm and sales strategy, I'll be living on easy street! That's what happens when you put your best foot forward or, in this spectacular example of marketing genius, two best feet forward at the same time. Yes, I'll be the one hopping down easy street like a bunny on crack, wearing a tiara and pushing a quintuplet stroller on my way to the asylum to visit O.

Melanie Kobayashi - Bag and a Beret - my algorithm is busted!
Lacy dress with black slip. I almost donated it. What was I thinking?
I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb. I'm sure I'll see you there.

Of course, I am definitely NOT for sale. My only pitches are in dodgeball, and they are really quite pathetic. My easy street is on the floor stuffing my face with sweet and salty popcorn or Cheesies. But I am definitely open to Mel bonuses to celebrate my mere existence. Heh. (Case in point: gothy jacket self-gift)

Melanie Kobayashi - DIY T-shirt - I am not a frigging brand! Bag and a Beret

I made that T-shirt a while ago, "I am my own brand." I'm ready to revise my statement: "I am NOT a brand. Kiss my ass." Look for it in a future post. Okay, I won't put the second sentence; that was just a general cry, but not to you, my friends, my valued target audience. Mwah!!

Claire Cormeau was just featured in a George Straight newspaper article, hurrah! She's the uber talented clothing designer of the line Nuage, which I wrote about in my model-ish post here. The article includes my favourite photo. Heh. It's all HERE.


A team sport where players throw a ball with the intent of hitting players on an opposite team thereby eliminating them from the game. I was about eight years old the last time I played. Heh.

An expression of delight or excitement. 

Push Present
A push present is a gift, usually jewellery, given to a woman by her partner after "pushing" out a baby (such a sentimental term). This is a true phenomenon - the jewellery and the pushing. If I had a baby, I'd want a push penthouse, a push billion dollars, a push nanny, a push personal assistant... In fact, I said shove it to the whole thing many decades ago. Shouldn't I get a Shove-It Ring?

Wife Bonus
The term wife bonus was first revealed in a non-fiction book called The Primates of Park Avenue, as the money paid to a Manhattan wife by her banker husband for a wifey job well done. The book was later recalled and marketed as fiction. A hideous concept! O is not the boss of me nor I of him - usually. There is no Daughter Bonus - I made that up.

AND (jeez, she just won't shut up) -

I LOOOVE Mexico! I was featured in Elle magazine's online Mexico edition as one of the 40+ Bloggers You Should Know, along with Accidental Icon, une femme d'un certain ├ógeStyle Crone, and Not Dressed as Lamb. And the translation wasn't mangled at all! Bwahaha! I was shocked to be included. And of course very happy.

Thank you, ELLE! Well, and thank you to everyone who visits me up here in the colonies. Mwah!

Okay, now I'll shut up. Heh. Have a great week you's guys.

Thursday 7 April 2016

Yellow Skirt Freak Show Update!! And shopping therapy

Shopping as therapy? Best medicine around for a silly week of highs, lows, and loop-de-loops. Hm, what do we have here? Mega-jumbo pills, jumbo pills... Weeny pills? Pfft - not unless they have enough carats in them to fill my sick appetite.

First dose: vintage faux suede animal print fringed jacket with zip-outable faux fur lining. Grrrr! BAAA! Chomp chomp chomp - animal print eats lamb. Oh, did I say I only paid $20? Bwahaha!! Belch. That mega-jumbo pill went down real nice. Especially with a couple mixed metaphor chasers. Mmm. Sweeet.

But no! Oh no! The mega-jumbo effect is wavering! Quick, more meds!

In the nick of time, heavens almighty - it's a new thrifted faux brocade gothy jacket with silky purple lining, lace-up back, and tails. For the low, low price of $32. Why, that's a whole wheelbarrow of feel-good therapy! If I don't put a stop to this mega-dose madness there's a good chance I'll be cured. Noooo!

Barefoot photos are best. Especially on a super-soft blankie. Lipstick and big hair, yup, that'll do. Plus, going shoeless on my snowy blanket means I don't have to disinfect my dark soul soles first.

Speaking of CURES, it's time for a Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show message.

The Forest whispered to Her -
Sssssh. Ssssh.
Come, come, bring your magic and
that friggin' Freakish Yellow Skirt.

Ghislana of
has cast a SPELL
silence, poems, musings
Join her
Go! GO NOW!!!

Thank you, Ghislana, for joining this travelling show! Her photos and addition to the skirt are magic. And, if you haven't seen it yet, previous FYS stylist Beate has posted all the artworks that have been added to the skirt as of March 2016. You can see them here. Thank you, Beate! 

Now that you're refreshed, let me drag you back to the pit of Healing through Debauchery. It's the title of my latest book.

Leaping lizards! I'm definitely hopped up just thinking about that removable faux fur zippered lining. Ooooh, yeeeeah. Nyom nyom nyom.

As for the flouncy jacket, I'm not particularly gothy style-wise, but when that psychedelic angle hit me, s-w-i-p-e, MINE! Trippy! Minuet and rock 'n' rock. Dual impossible! Like how the same vitamin can come in coin-sized chewables and guinea-pig sized missiles. Choke on that, you grammarists! Who made that stupid mixed metaphor rule? I smash it joyously.

Speaking of minuets and rock 'n' roll, such sad news that Patty Duke passed away, right?

I bought that ruffled blouse at a thrift shop a few years ago and the green corduroy bell bottoms this year. The jacket sleeves have long slits and often the ruffled blouse sticks out to create a marvelous dunk-in-my-coffee, wipe-the-table-unintentionally, unpaid-cafe-helper effect.

Yes, both of the jackets are physically ample. But they fit. Just fine. These mega-jumbo pills perfectly play out the adage that one must buy quality pieces, like these, that fit well.

You may notice that a few fringes are missing, no doubt lost valiantly in battle, but that's why I love this piece even more. Quality comes in countless levels of perfection.

Well, I'll say, this therapy is working just fine. Pills and lambs and drinks and wheelbarrows and dish rags and guinea pigs and missiles. AND Ghislana in the Freakish Yellow Skirt here. Did I miss anything? I'm sure I did, so I'll have to go buy something else again next week right away.

Tah-tah. Back to normal(ish) life. Aaaah.

Thank you for your comments about my Model Life. Hahaha!! So much fun. Claire, Katrin, Vanessa, all of them are superstars! But I'm happiest in the alley.

Saturday 2 April 2016

My day as a 50+ supermodel

It's one thing to make faces at my little camera stuck on tripod in a garbage room atelier, where I can snort, guffaw, get sweaty, fall off my shoes, say oof all the time, and cuss in foreign languages, and a whooole other thing to be photographed under the gaze of professionals. But I did it – and I didn't even swear once! I present with a flourish: My Day as a 50+ Supermodel. Bwahaha!

I had been worrying like crazy before the shoot. I told Claire Cormeau, the designer who asked me to model her new line called Nuage, that I hadn't done anything like it before but, sure, I'd do it. And then I had a month to freak out very effectively.

Swinty. Model Mel Kobayashi; Designer Claire Cormeau, Photos Katrin Braga, Hair and Makeup Vanessa Kuan
Designer Claire Cormeau; Photography Katrin Braga; Hair & Makeup Vanessa Kuan. 2016. Feeling faintly Swinton. I'd put on this face all the time if I could remember how. Who took my eye bags?!

The night before the shoot I shaved my yeti legs (they could double as reflectors, handy), clipped all the scraggy hairs from my nose (picture Mr. Bean), and made sure my pits and nails were shiny and bright. I forgot to moisturize my hands. But really, how can I be expected to remember so many body parts!?

I took a taxi to the studio to kick off my transition from humble (heh) personal style blogger to mega-uber supermodel. "Safety ensconced in her limo, she scrolled simultaneously through three cell phones, praying that she had stymied the paparazzi on her night of debauchery." Okay, that thought didn't help my flip-flop heart at all.

When I arrived at the studio there was a crack team of three women on standby - think Miss Congeniality, except I already know how to glide. Vanessa Kuan was in charge of my hair and face. Claire primped me in her absolutely gorgeous clothing! And Katrin Braga took the photos. While all this was going on, I exercised top-notch freaking out in the guise of insouciance.

Anti-tux. Model Mel Kobayashi; Designer Claire Cormeau, Photos Katrin Braga, Hair and Makeup Vanessa Kuan
Designer Claire Cormeau; Photography Katrin Braga; Hair & Makeup Vanessa Kuan. 2016. Katrin rushed to get these shots in fading sunlight. I love the profile of this anti-tux. The left pantleg is shorter and more close-fitting than the right.

I needn't have worried though. It was a day of point-and-shoot photography; in other words, they'd guide me to a spot, point me toward the camera, and then shoot. I tried my best not to think happy thoughts; sombre, morose things relax my face, and I rotated under their direction, although I had a few Mel jags with kicks, stomps, grrrs, and laughs. Between takes I tried hard not to respire, sweat, or shed cells on the exquisite clothes.

Katrin, what can I say? She was a maniac who stopped at nothing to get a shot. She rolled around on the floor, on asphalt, on muddy grass! From her prone position she expertly switched from one honking big camera to another, from digital to film. But every time she said, "Oh yeah, beautiful, that's great, perfect," I would crack up (literally) - I kept thinking of the 1966 movie Blow Up with Vanessa Redgrave (clip is here). Katrin's positive feedback at least reassured me that I wasn't totally screwing up.

Model Mel Kobayashi; Designer Claire Cormeau, Photos Katrin Braga, Hair and Makeup Vanessa Kuan
Designer Claire Cormeau; Photography Katrin Braga; Hair & Makeup Vanessa Kuan. 2016. LOVE these "Melting Pants". The puddling of the waistband forms a ginormous pocket. She made the turtleneck too.

Vanessa magically revealed my inner dewy-skinned self. And I love how we went from sticking-up hair to slicked hair with blue brows and lashes. Can it be that I was feeling...Vogue? Bwahaha! I'll definitely do the slicked look again.

And Claire, in addition to juggling her fine designs, watered and fed us. She even brought a blankie to keep me warm between takes, cool props, lint rollers, socks, you name it. After six hours in several locations in different outfits, hairstyles, and makeup, I was exhausted - I'm not used to so much attention and bodily control.

I can't imagine what modeling as a career would be like, besides nerve-wracking!, but I'm sure that you'd be hard-pressed to find a dream team of young women as kind, patient, funny and professional as this one.

Designer Claire Cormeau; Photography Katrin Braga; Hair & Makeup Vanessa Kuan. 2016. People in the park wondered if we had ripped that bonsai out of the ground. Claire brought it as a prop, daffodils too. Best pants with circle cut-outs and embroidery down the sides. 

Thank you, Claire, for giving me this opportunity. Her Nuage line is all about freedom of expression and empowerment of women of all ages, and she wanted to reflect that in this shoot. I hope I was able to give her clothes and vision the justice they deserve. Her pieces are truly exquisite.

And think about it: how many young designers would have the guts to hire an untried 50+ broad over an 18-year-old pro to showcase their work? Cool, right? If you can, check out her website where you'll find details of her designs, including jewellery and other products.

Until next time, see you in the Enquirer. Bwahaha!



Claire Cormeau: Designer (Nuage)

Katrin Braga: Photographer

Vanessa Kuan: Hair and Makeup


When they go live, I'll link this up to Patti at Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style and
Catherine, #iwillwearwhatilike, Not Dressed as Lamb.
I wore these outfits, maybe not shopping or to the coffee shop, but I WORE them. It felt so good.

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