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Sunday 28 August 2016

Yellow Skirt Freak Show Update!! And a power suit and arty video

Choppity chop chop - the hair came off.

So I wanted to wear a power suit yesterday. This one is by Vancouver-based designer Jacqueline Conoir. I loved the subtle circle pattern in the fabric, which is more visible in the third photo. It was cool when I went out, but by the time I got home my belt was in my bag and the jacket was flapping open - an in-between season.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in a Jacqueline Conoir suit with ruffled blouse and fake flowers

The next photo is aspirational.

Melanie Kobayashi's Jacqueline Conoir suit on Bag and a Beret


Freakish Yellow Skirt Update!!

a desert island & naught to sustain LIFE
and the artful talents of her fellow castaways
URGENT CALLS to NASA with blips of YELLOW orbs
spotted by boats buzzing the ISLAND and the freakish delights
dips twirls whoops hollers 
not for rescue - for life
tremendous applause to

ANNA of 


Such a fun, fun styling of the Freakish Yellow Skirt!! Anna, skirt, ocean - a perfect storm of joy, especially knowing how Anna is a strong woman of art, style, and the sea. Thanks to her husband for his stunning photography. Plus, blogger Kezzie also dropped by to join in the celebration later on and her mum took the best photo. You can see it all on Anna's blog here. Thank you, Anna!
An arty video. Like most fellow bloggers, I wonder from time to time why I keep blogging. So I made a video. If you come here expecting just style or a chuckle, now you'll be even more confused. My world. I filmed most of this last November, by myself, somewhat awkwardly.

AND some upcycling...
I did a post a while ago here about a men's tuxedo shirt I was given and upcycled with basic downsizing and a little redesigning, and thought I may not be done with it; I wasn't. It was missing a monster truck. I cherish this shirt now. The horizontal flaps under the truck transfer are double layers of fabric removed from the side seams.

Upcycled men's tuxedo sheet with monster truck, by Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret

Upcycled overalls, NOT PLAID, worn with sequins, by Mel Kobayashi

And these are my upcycled overalls worn with my gold spangles and Fluevog booties. This was a fun project.

PLUS, I met up with Vancouver Barbara and posted her photo on my street style blog here.

I'm going to link up with Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb. Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday 21 August 2016

Thrifting tips video! and a problematic gown

A gown I love, but can I wear it? Well, technically, yeah I can, but the design has a puddle hem. Great for cleaning sidewalks. Great for dusting floors. How about I just stick a bunch of Swiffer dusting cloths under it and swan around the house as part of my glam-up-my-life project?

I have no choice but to be carried when I wear this gown. But seriously? No matter how romantic that sounds, being carried is usually not terribly comfortable in real life, especially in a dress with drop shoulders and strapless underthings.

This outfit is like Morticia Addams on Skittles. Too bad my hair fell down.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in off-the-shoulder gown with puddle hem
I took this photo of the dress in the concrete box. So much better here I think.
And then there is the fear of being dropped, hard, awkwardly, or slipping slowly, inexorably out of deceptively muscled arms until I end up with one leg half-dragging/hopping through the dirt. Piggy-back would work but only if I knew my carrier well and had a riding crop and rallying cry. "Onward ho!" Maybe not - why do words change meaning?

The fireman's carry would work, two people with crossed arms, chair style. Oh yes. Yes, that would be splendid, but I'd need to find two people who get along to accomplish that - harder than it sounds. I simply will not act as no man's land between two warring factions with their fists near my buttocks.

Below I practise the safety position.

I could hoist the dress and carry the hem or get someone else to lift my train, but then what's the frigging point, right? You are probably thinking, brides handle these awkward situations all the time - well, heck yeah, it's kind of an inauguration for what's to come in marriage, isn't it?

I could actually give up and walk normal style in the dress and let the hem do its dirty work, but I cannot ignore the increased risk of tripping and falling on my face (which, by the way, I did when Suzanne visited, I was not wounded). And now that my life odometer recently turned over again (the reset is faulty and doing it is perhaps even illegal!) there is the risk of bone breakage.

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in off-the-shoulder gown with puddle hem
I would never, ever sit down here. Hahaha!! 

Let's say I do get to my swanky destination clean and unharmed, dignity intact, the clingy nature of the dress means I would still be picking at my garment immediately upon arrival, preferably in the privacy of a bathroom - oh yes, exactly where I want to be (eyes roll), looking almost fabulous next to the toilet. Not only that, I'd be wasting precious trough time at the buffet and bar, assuming the other glitterati hadn't cleaned them out already, not having been detained by a prior summit meeting on the Puddle Hem Situation (PHS).

I am looking forward to advances in remote control helicopters which could safely air-lift me to such events in such hems. All I would need to do is clothespin-shut the bottom of the dress so that gawkers on the ground would not get any free shows or showers because I'd probably be scared out of my wits - which could, now I think about it, also be problematic.


Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in off-the-shoulder gown with puddle hem

I bought this gown from Talize thrift store - I don't remember, but I think Suzanne pre-picked it for me (she also did that for my fave maxi denim coat). I'm glad it was only $16. If I charged by the word for this blog post, the cost would have dropped considerably already. Hurray! Not a waste of money after all. For those of you muttering "scissors," wash your mouth out with soap.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I met up with Suzanne Carillo for a day of high tea, thrift shopping, and my first-ever evening at a comedy club, and then a few days later Sue of A Colourful Canvas joined in too for a day of thrift shopping, filming, and dinner that lasted hours and hours, during which time we solved all our problems forever. Yay!

Mel Kobayashi, film director extraordinaire

Below is the video I edited together from filming we did at Talize thrift store in Delta, BC, not too far from Vancouver. The story was put together by Suzanne based on her blog post 20 Thrift Shopping Secrets for Quality Treasures. Would you believe we jotted the ideas down on a napkin at the comedy club? Heh. Other shoppers seemed to think we were having too much fun. Indeed we were. You can see this dress in the cart near the end of the video. Heh.

TA DA!! 
There's more news but I shall spare you. If you've made it this far, you need a gold medal for diving over the finish line. It's busy here. Good.

I'll link up with Patti at Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, and Catherine at #iwillwearwhatilike, Not Dressed as Lamb. For not actually wearing the dress except in the stairwell so far, I certainly got around. Heh.

Hope you are all WELL!!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Leching as an Olympic sport?

How I love luxuriating over morning coffee on the patio of my favourite cafe as I scribble in my journal. But one day last week I was distracted by a man barking into his cell phone in Italian. He was older than me, well groomed, and dressed high-casual.

Me being pensive and writerly, smoking a Pretz snack in a dark speakeasy
last year at the Vancouver blogger meetup. I was drinking a Dorothy Parker cocktail. 
As he was talking (shouting) he suddenly craned his neck to gaze intently at a young woman strolling by. He was clearly agitated. I thought, oh, that must be a friend. But when the next woman went by, and the next, and next, and his eyes kept bugging alarmingly out of his head on a neck swivelling like a cartoon character, I caught on.

He was a lecher! Vile creature. His contortions were so extreme and comical I thought if synchronized diving can be an Olympic sport so can leching: points for bug eyes, points for neck stretching and neck swivel, points for drool volume. In fact, I thought of retrieving the doggy water refreshment bowl as a courtesy to catch his slobber but, no, that would be cruel to the dogs. I just hoped his phone was waterproof.


In my fifties, I am now in the privileged position of being able to watch this circus from the sidelines, although when I was young I was rarely the subject of such ogling, even near construction sites. I was the girl with the blue cat's eye glasses, braces, flat chest, and fine hair, so instead of wolf whistles I got dog barks. Always. For years and years I'd walk for blocks out of my way to avoid such trauma from those particular apish men in hard hats and steel toes.

I always relished the thought of reversing the tables. "Yo, show me those wieners and beans, big boys! Ooo-ee, that some hairy hunk of man meat. Swing it! Batter up! Throw some stink my way, you manly rutting goat." Or simply throwing a bark or two their way. But you see, the thought of doing any of that makes me throw up in my mouth just a little bit. And in fact, I have changed, and maybe so have the people I once loathed.

While I don't detour around construction sites anymore (almost impossible in this city anyway) I still stiffen slightly when I near one. Now it is not unusual for the men there to stop talking and maybe lower their heads slightly as I walk by. A few might nod and mumble a compliment. They make me feel, dare I say, regal. Maybe this is the respect you get for graduating into the don't-diss-grandma category. I really don't know.

In these photos I'm wearing my vintage jumpsuit, cool vintage leather belt, and my Steve Madden platform sandals. This jumpsuit is super comfortable. 

I suspect we've all been negatively affected at some point in our lives with unwanted attention, although interestingly most of the women I saw that day didn't seem to mind this lecher's gawking - many who saw him smiled or smirked back. A few ignored him altogether. I get the attraction of young beautiful people, but really, drooling? Gawking? Get the guy a bib!

I liked the movie Absolutely Fabulous and its treatment of this issue. Is there anything you'd like to share on this wildly vast topic?

I'm linking up to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike. Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style is off this week while she moves.

And this past week I was so lucky to have another blogger meetup. Bwahahaha. Suzanne Carillo and Sue of A Colourful Canvas. I'll be posting on this a bit later. Stay tuned.

Where has the summer gone, by the way?

Sunday 7 August 2016

Memory with a Karina Dress, and Hat Attack 37!

This post is about two dresses. This is the second dress.

Karina Dress with bell slip and ultra-mega-high red-glitter platform shoes and acorn hat.

The first dress was when I was a student many years ago and my housemates and I decided to throw a big party, of course. I was determined to find something extra special to wear. I did: a navy fit and flare vintage dress with a front button closure, v-neck, and gathers under the bust. The party was a blast and the dress made me feel like a million bucks. And then I washed it.

I remember clearly standing shivering in the bathtub while my girlfriends and I strained to tug that cold, sopping wet, terribly shrunken dress back around my naked body. I don't know why we thought the cold water would make it stretch but we certainly laughed a lot. The dress, sadly, was a goner.

Recently fellow blogger Anne of SpyGirl hosted a link-up themed around clothing with strong memories, here, which rekindled my longing for that party dress. So this time when Karina Dresses contacted me about styling one their dresses, I said Yes! I had been admiring them on other bloggers for years, but more than anything, their classic design soothed this nagging nostalgia.

The dress I chose is the Margaret, black with teal pin dots, midi length, surplice body. Below are several ways I styled it - you know I can't resist a chance for dress-up.

1. About Town Style

I knew immediately that I wanted to wear those sandals with this dress. The red is my heart-shaped bag which I haven't used in a while. This styling would also look great with a wrap-around head kerchief, sunglasses, and short white gloves - picture an open classic baby-blue convertible speeding down the California coast. Or take this look to France with a bicycle, beret, a baguette, a bottle of wine, and Gerard Depardieu for good measure - I mean O! And a huge grin always looks good.

2. Oo-la-la Style

I really got into character for the hat photos! Those are the studded shoes I wore to my big failed TV audition. I found this vintage hat at Value Village several years ago and it's been waiting for the right outfit ever since. It's hard to see but there is floral embellishment under the brim as well, on the right side. And the v-neck puts a natural spotlight on the accent jewellery.

The dress has a long, sewn-in tie belt. For this elegant styling I tied the belt loosely so the knot hung down near groin level, and then I gathered up some fullness of the skirt and pulled it through the big loop made by the belt to create the draping. The back of the dress becomes more fitted like this too. There are many, many things you can do with that belt, but this is my favourite trick.

3. Punky Style

Here's the dress with a crinoline for extra poof (my ballerina dress actually), my glitter ultra-platform booties, and my tower hair. I don't love these photos - the setup was all different - but I love this style. I stuffed socks into the sleeves to get extra poof there too. Those double-puff shoulders would look cool with classic styling as well. And they're good for a crowded train.

4. Student/Casual Style

The dress as a skirt with sneakers, a book bag, black turtleneck, my doggy scarf, and my vintage sunglasses. A beret would look good too. Or maybe even a baseball cap if I had an SUV or was dodging paparazzi. The turtleneck is on top, but it would be easy to wear long-sleeved sweaters and blouses under the dress too, including bow collars.

A similar rougher styling without the scarf could have, say, black tights and black army boots with classic grey, men's work socks with the red stripes at the top, like these.

5. Dinner Style

The same styling as Oo-la-la but without the hat. The switch of shoes, an added necklace, and belt draping dramatically change this look from the first About Town Style.

6. Other, first photo above and below.

Of course it's fun to bury clothes in necklaces and belts and bracelets to change a look, but here I enjoyed the challenge of highlighting the features of this dress without those embellishments. This dress has a full skirt so a bell slip (I don't know the proper name) was a natural choice - the crinoline was rather limp.

I got so many classic-style photos it was hard to choose which ones to show you. The shape with the slip is reminiscent of old Dior stylings. And look at all my hats this week! This one is a vintage straw hat from Value Village, bought on the same day I got my Oo-la-la hat. Hahaha. Hello Hat Attack!!

I took this when I got back from a morning walk, About Town Style. The dress felt great when I was out, especially in the breeze, and got lots of positive feedback. In this shot you can see all the little teal pin dots and the belt wrapped around and tied at the front in a bow. I like the slicked back hair but tower hair is also useful for adding an edgy cool vibe to any outfit.

In summary - fantastic dress! It's an extremely versatile pull-it-on-and-go piece, no ironing required. This dress is the closest thing I have worn to that stellar dress so long ago. At least I don't have to worry about screwing it up - it's machine washable and drip dry. Thank you, Karina Dresses.

If you think you might want to try one, go HERE. I don't get paid anything if you click the link or buy one; this post is my review of the dress they sent me.

I'm linking up with:
Judith, Style Crone, for Hat Attack #37

That's all! My SEO is shot all to hell. I'm not following any of the Rules. Dang! SEO is like MATH.

Monday 1 August 2016

Parisian men gone wild?

By the look on my face you'd think I'm reading Parisian Men Gone Wild.* But no - this is a slightly classier, weightier book, which can also double as a doorstop or lethal weapon. It's called The Parisian Gentleman, by Hugo Jacomet. The men here aren't doffing their duds but rather donning studs and cravats, pocket squares and socks, and cologne and suits - all of the very finest accoutrements of style respectability. (There's a glossary at the end of this post just in case.)

Jacomet wrote the book to address the short shrift he felt is given to French men's style compared to their female counterparts, by highlighting the makers and connoisseurs of Parisian gentlemen's fashion through the years. A friend loaned it to me.

It took Herculean effort to keep this heavy book upright while pressing the remote control and maintaining an expression of calm sophistication. 

This book was a quiet respite of beautiful existence. 

I couldn't help thinking that while a wealthy man can buy any of the exquisite items in this book, there's no guarantee he won't still come out an emperor with no clothes. As you know, the politesse, respect, and kindness that define a gentleman, or any civilized being for that matter, can't be bought at any price. 

It's summer and I'm too lazy to actually stand up for outfit photos. You'll have to imagine these outfits in a frontal full-vertical position. 

Speaking of wealth and style, I'm wearing a men's tuxedo shirt, discarded I suspect by a billionaire type gauging by the heavy fine cotton, monogram, labels, and removable buttons. I don't think it had been worn even once - it was still so chemically white I had to squint. Of course this garment required immediate farking.

I reduced the sides by about 8 inches and overlapped the collar and back of the shirt, as you see in the bottom right photo. I put a slit up the back as well and kept the edges raw. For the sleeves, I slip my hand through the opening above the cuff; no adjustment necessary.

The silhouette and back view are my favourite; the front is just your basic startling-white tuxedo shirt with long sleeves. I love the contrasting black thread. I chose it not because I was too lazy to change the colour on my machine - although that can happen - but because each stark stitch made the shirt visibly more and more my own. 

I've taken this shirt out for a test drive once on my morning walk, worn with my sneakers and tux pants, and with my hair down and aqua brows, as seen in the first photo, but when I wear wear this shirt next time, styling it to the max, oooh, I am going to enjoy it so much. Although I'm not sure I'm done farking just yet.

I'm linking up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike

Also, I was interviewed a short while ago by REglam here. The article is called "Evolution of the Fashion Industry with Melanie." Do I even know what I'm talking about? Hwahaha. I appreciated the questions.

This has been a slightly cool summer, which I don't mind in the least. We've had a couple of hot days where I've had to resort to hiding in the shadows of light poles at each intersection like a bungling Inspector Clouseau to avoid the sun, as I may have mentioned before. I just wish downtown was a little quieter in the summer - but it is what it is.

Thanks for dropping by! Have a great week, all. 


*Girls Gone Wild was a wildly popular candid-camera-style video series which featured young drunken women baring their boobs on beaches while partying hard during spring break. The maker of these revolting movies became a multimillionaire, although he is now living in Mexico to evade US authorities.

Glossary just in case
doffing duds: taking off clothes; donning duds: putting clothes on
accoutrements: clothing and accessories
short shrift: not enough credit
politesse: politeness, etiquette
farking: upcycling, refashioning, and/or screwing up existing clothing or other things
Inspector Clouseau: fictional comic detective, most famously played by Peter Sellers

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