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Sunday 30 October 2016

Snapping back in pearls and bell bottoms

I've noticed as I've gotten older that when I pinch my skin and pull it out, it takes longer to snap back where it belongs. Why do this? Because I've seen other people do this. It's kind of like bothering a sore spot and saying over and over, "Ow, it hurts when I do that." ???

But I've also noticed that this snap-back thing is true about my face as well. When I smile about something during my downtown walks, my face takes longer to settle back into its resting diva state. Heh. I'll go blocks and blocks and totally startle myself when I realize that damned smile is still there!! Let's not talk about how this applies to my scowl face because...

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in pearls, enjoying her tea in the garden's been a week of chaos with nature chasers to take the edge off as the result of a computer hard drive meltdown. Some things were backed up - yeah, like my BOWELS! with all this shite to deal with. I know I'll stumble across stuff here and there on USB drives as the days go by ("stuff" of course referring to my data, not bowels. Moving right along). And the tech guy who did last rites backed up a few things for us, essentials. It was like deciding what to pack in a capsule wardrobe for, say, Paris, and being charged by the hour after the trip is cancelled.

The only true and meaningful remedy was nature with pearls, pearls, and more pearls!! And a cute vintage wool crepe shift dress with glitter tights and pointy shoes. See how dainty I am? I've brought my teacup holder with me, the one I DIY-ed from a wooden matryoshka, and that's a family heirloom teacup.

Bag and a Beret enjoying her tea in the garden
See the monster with big eyes waving at me behind the fence?

But that's definitely not tea. Looks like I needed a little Extra Strength nature, some fermented organics with a kick. In fact, the cup was empty - even worse! Picture me wobbling and stumbling on kitten heels, fumbling with loupes and reading glasses, sinking in mulch, and then throwing myself awkwardly across these weather-soaked chairs before the 10-second warning on the camera self-timer went off - all of this while trying to keep my dress down and look aloof. I think I succeeded.

Bag and a Beret enjoying her tea in the garden

I had to face this direction on the chair because all the construction men were on the other side. Of course I lost all my photo editing software and video editing software. Pffft. It was time to upgrade anyway. These photos were done on the basic-est basic software - that's why I added so many effects, to make myself feel better. Look what I can do! Look what I can do! (Ow, it hurts when I do that.)

Bag and a Beret in pearls and pearls and little black dress

These heels were wicked leaf skewers. It was a fashion statement, all those golden maple leaves stuck to my heels. Very patriotic.

And below, more nature shots - my very cool striped vintage bell bottoms with a floral jacket and a Bowling-For-Dollars (name of American bowling game show) blouse. I intentionally pulled things from my closet that I thought would look putrid together. I really needed some fecking CLASH! I failed - it came out looking Gucci. I swear, that company has ruined the art of clash by making anything and everything go together. Puh.

Bag and a Beret in bell bottoms, Gucci impression

During this shoot I thought it would be fun to do some stop motion shots of me throwing a bunch of leaves up in the air. You know: Hahaha!! I LOVE NATURE! Tralala! I set the self-timer and scrambled into position.

What I didn't know was that while the leaves looked dry and lovely on top, when I grabbed a huuge pawful I discovered they were half-rotted and wet on the bottom. And of course when I hear the camera beeping I can't shut off. Up went the rot pile and down it came again all over my head, probably with lots of critters too. None of the photos turned out. How poetic.

After that fiasco I moved locations. Behold!!

Bag and a Beret in bell bottoms, Gucci impression

And then back in the stairwell below. Too much nature! This outfit was a no-brainer. The overalls said Not Plaid so I put on the tartan jacket for a "get it? get it? nudge-nudge" moment. I don't think anyone but me got it though and it left passersby worried about that puzzled, expectant, half-smirk look on my face, which didn't snap back at all! That's a blue silk blouse underneath. Everything is many sizes too large, except the jacket which I down-farked.

Bag and a Beret in upcycled tartan jacket and overalls, plaid/not-plaid

I call this outfit plaid/not-plaid undone, with reference to Canadian rock band The Guess Who and their 1969 hit "Undun." (here) She's come undone. Undone DIY jacket, undone DIY overalls with that gaping bib. At least my combat boots stayed tied, double knotted.

Bag and a Beret in upcycled tartan jacket and overalls, plaid/not-plaid

These photos are the first installment in Project New Leaf. I am venturing boldly where no middle-aged tween has gone before. Heh. A fresh slate is a good thing.

But I have to say that throughout this minor inconvenience my heart went out to a dearly loved member of our blogging community, Jessica Cangiano, author of Chronically Vintage, and her husband. All their worldly possessions, including her priceless collection of vintage clothing, were destroyed in a fire on October 13. Their dog escaped with them but their beloved cat went missing.

A crowdfunding page has been set up HERE to help them get back on their feet. And Jessica's friend Bonita of Lavender & Twill set up a Facebook page HERE for helping in other ways. The fire happened a couple of weeks ago, but the need I'm sure is as strong now as it ever was. Think about it, won't you?

And now one more outfit for the road:

Bag and a Beret in the magic forest

This is my first back-to-nature photo. I'm living proof that when the going gets tough, the tough put on pearls and bell bottoms, grab a camera, shower themselves with decaying plant matter, frolic in mulch, clamber up hills and stairs, and pull out the fine china. I tried wielding a pitchfork and a very heavy watering can in my pearls, but I'll save those photos (on an external drive) for later. Heh.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I met up a while ago with my friend Sandra, who is now active on IG here. You can see her rocking her drop crotch pants on my street style blog here. Mighty fine.

The end. Congratulations - you made it!

I'll be linking something up, of course, with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style, Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb, #iwillwearwhatilike.

Have a good week. And remember: two steps forward, one step BACKUP!!

Saturday 22 October 2016

The shoes that ate Vancouver

You know how I go downtown almost every morning to check out my turf, right? Well the other day, I cut through Nordstrom on my way home and was overcome by a crowd of highly-excited women who appeared at a glance to be dressed in black blazers, black skirts, white blouses, and heels. They were scurrying around like bumper cars in a velvet-roped corral in the shoe section.

I didn't have a photo of bumper cars so this will have to do

Holy cow! Clearly I didn't get the memo and looked down at my bathmat white maxi coat, three-sizes-too-big white chinos, white DIY boob-cooler T-shirt and turtleneck, black Italian ankle boots, tower hair, and Joan Crawford red lips. I thought, hm, this might end badly for me.

What?! No memo?!

Had I missed the "filming in progress" signs and stumbled onto the set of a new David Lynch movie? Was this Purgatory!? To their credit, everyone looked great but in a mass-fabulous way that makes it hard to see the trees for the forest without a little neon pink tulle for focus. Blazered eye correction can do that to a person.

Blazered eye correction

Regaining my composure, I then noticed lines of anxious women in a phalanx along the perimeter of the store, all clutching shopping bags. And wait! They were being fed champagne. Whaaat? Where's my champagne? Quickly I spotted the head security guard looking like a god from central casting. I approached him with my best VIP face and asked, How do I get in?, What's happening?

Seeing red in the Louboutin shoe department

He explained that Christian Louboutin was expected on the premises in about 30 minutes to sign purchases of his footwear, then indicated the table and throne behind him where the maestro would sit. So the price of admission was new red-soled shoes, which clearly the lined-up women had paid, and apparently this was non-negotiable as no amount of seductive Norma Desmond eye bulging on my part would change his mind. I'm losing my touch.

Guess which one is me.

I wanted to tell these women, hey, I'll scribble on your old shoes for free! Maybe it's a good thing I left my folding card table, Sharpie, and lawn chair at home. Well, maybe not for free. I'd be like Lucy from Charlie Brown comics and charge 5 cents.

But really, all this fuss for a signature on a shoe? Isn't that weird? You're just going to put your stinky feet in there and literally drag his name through the mud. But maybe these disciples have shoe shrines in their homes and never wear them or are carried by servants when they go out. Maybe they will try to sell their shoes on eBay. Or maybe they've had the sweat glands in their feet surgically removed. Do they even do that? Could I make my millions with this idea? Would Louboutin invest?

My farked boots - post on them here. Note my signature. Free.

I wondered what would happen if Valentino had an in-store signing of thong underwear. Would women wear them? Can you sell pre-owned undies on eBay? Is there even a Mr. Valentino and does he make thongs?

As for me? I only wear diamonds on the soles of my shoes, baby. I find them in the thrift store. Priceless. Okay, maybe not diamonds, but they are still rocks of a sort. They get stuck in the cracks.

Goners. Days ago both shoes in the right pair cracked. I should have bought some Looboos.

I'll hook something up with Patti and Catherine when they go live later, Visible Monday/Not Dead Yet Style and #iwillwearwhatilike/Not Dressed as Lamb, respectively. (In fact, I linked up an Instagram photo for Catherine instead.)

Oh, I made a video of most of my posted outfits from October '15 to October '16, photos from here, Instagram, and a couple new ones.  I put this on IG too but this version is the original size. Much better.


That's all. Have a great week everyone!!!

Sunday 16 October 2016

Words pale with velvet

The light. A yucky, packed-earth parking lot tucked off a busy sidewalk becomes an ethereal respite when a few clouds of light and shadows play on the walls.

I shot hard on burst mode with a high shutter speed. A burst does multiple shots all in a row. A setup like this pushes my photographic skills the most - what about this setting? what about that setting? 

Always, always, when I put on this velvet coat, I leave myself. Those are my wool vintage Gianni Versace pants and a chartreuse silky blouse from bcbgmaxazria. There's a better view of the blouse on my Instagram, here. I had on double scarves but tore off the second one, the blue one; I couldn't breathe in all that matchiness.

I'm sure residents of the glass-walled highrises around me learn a lot about the life of a +50 style blogger when they see me playing in lanes below them. I can almost hear their greedy eyes as they spy me strolling in there, "Honey, she's baa-a-a-ck," and imagine their grab for the chips and wine. More likely, if they're into that kind of thing, there is far more dramatic action going on in this parking lot at other times of the day and night than a middle-aged woman twirling.

I'm thinking in feelings lately, colour, light, movement, which can be calming but also occasionally frazzling. Words are sleeping. Last night I made this video below, short and quiet.

That's all from here. I have to haul up my winter coats from my space bags in storage. Dreading going down there...

I'm linking something from here up to Patti at Visible Monday, Not Dead Yet Style, and Catherine, #iwillwearwhatilike, Not Dressed as Lamb.

Edit: I also can't forget a huge thank you to Sally of Already Pretty for including me in her Lovely Links last Friday! Such an honour.

Monday 10 October 2016

My herd of Roombas and greetings from Turnip Head

What a mess. And my maid is still on leave. Has been for a couple of decades now.

So what did I do? What any right-thinking person would do! - I purchased a herd of robotic Roombas (photo below). Over 100 of them now graze in my living room. Each time I wade slowly through the throng I am reminded of that 1973 National Geographic article "One Strange Night on Turtle Beach" - you remember the one. 

Somehow I ended up in my sketch wearing my new vintage men's overcoat and oxford-style shoes. Oh, and that's Turnip Head in the window with her friend, advertising the Big Sale! Hallooo!

It's about all those thousands of baby sea turtles that hatch on the beach and then scramble to the ocean before they're eaten. Except in this case the Roombas are the turtles; I guess that would make me, uh, the ocean. 

They seem to have imprinted me as their mama. Their little eeps and chirps greet me with such joy, with such expectation, like I'm going to vomit up a breakfast of, I don't know, sewing machine oil and dust. 

This is a Roomba, sold by a company called iRobot. They roam and vacuum your floors using remote sensors. Pets are often afraid of them, but some enjoy the ride. A Roomba costs about US$350.

Of course I would not need Roombas if my maid were here! For now my herd is in the east wing, which I'm afraid leaves the west wing, head, breast, thighs, legs, beak and feet terribly neglected in this funky chicken abode. 

Seriously, does my maid think my faux furs dance their way in and out of cold storage by themselves? Who does she think transports my precious jewels to and from the safety security jumbly pile? Who polishes the plastic cutlery? 

Turnip Head again, wearing a silky Asian-inspired jacket I got from Patti (Not Dead Yet Style) during the clothing swap last year at the blogger meetup in Vancouver. I wore that eggplant jacket this week, very "composer" outfit if you ask me, an outfit to flourish in.

It's all too much. Sigh. I need a nap. Maybe I should go feed the Roombas.

Sorry, it was this or nuthin'! Time for the big autumn clean (is there such a thing?). My neighbour has a Roomba and his cats don't even freak out about it anymore. 

A clearer view of the vintage men's overcoat, belted. And a leather money holster thingy around my neck instead of a bag. I wear it like this because it's comfortable and it leaves my hands-free. My hair is half-way to nowhere. 

It's getting darker and darker here. I think I'll soon be forced to install twinkle lights on the underside of my umbrella. Desperate measures.

I'll link something up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday because if I don't there will be consequences! I'm so happy that Patti's family made it through Florida's hurricane okay. Whew!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend too. You don't think chocolate goes on sale tomorrow, do you? Or pumpkin pie? 

Edit: I'm linking my sketch up with Catherine's Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb as well. 

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Designer coat three ways - fun, feline, and fierce

With great excitement I tore open the box from Shanghai express. My new coat! - courtesy of Yuzhe Studios, a young designer duo who studied at London College of Fashion. After finding my blog and Instagram, they asked if I'd like to wear one of their handcrafted pieces. Does a cat meow?

O-my-o-my-what-to-do-what-to-do. It didn't take long to figure out - put that sucker on and see where it takes me.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

After being cooped up in shipping, Coat needed a stretch and fresh vigour, so my first styling called for intensive colour caffeine. I poked her: "Coat, wake up!" She merely yawned, "Are we there yet?" 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

Before she knew it, I had turned Coat inside-out and clapped the snaps off-key to create a wonky pucker and asymmetrical hem. The pockets became awesome hip wings which added to the fantastic geometry. And I wore vivid silky scarves in a waterfall of bows and a colour-punched dress and blouse. AWAKE.

Coat's finished seams down the sleeves looked good on the outside, and the snaps with hand-stitching functioned perfectly in reverse as well. My initials, which Yuzhe Studios hand-embroidered at the neckline, were also visible - such a great detail.

Loose-limbed now from our colour therapy, we shrugged off the imp and unleashed some of Coat's deeply serious chic appeal. 

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

Coat is dreamy soft, a snuggly wool you want to wrap yourself up in on a chilly day. In this second styling she is black cat with an emerald collar, stretched languidly on a red velvet divan surrounded by unread books of philosophy. 

"Bring me chocolate milk on a silver salver that I might dip my strong yet dainty paws in the brown juice of the gods!" Moving right along... Somehow I knew she'd appreciate the gold glitter ankle socks. 

These photos have a very European feel to them. I'm sure I'm on my way somewhere Important (the cafe for a cookie, for example). 

Melanie Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

I'm also wearing O's rockstar silky shirt and my gigantoid palazzo pants with mitten clips because the pants are trippingly long without higher heels. Huge sunglasses complete the look.

Below, one last styling. Coat doesn't like to be type-cast (we are so compatible!) so we went with a fierce-ish styling with a tuxedo shirt, fitted black moto jacket, my DIY eyes-on-knees jeans, white athletic socks, and combat boots. This bunch of boulders under the overpass made the perfect studio.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in overcoat from Yuzhe Studios

And that's it! Hearty thanks to Yuzhe Sun and Alex Lee of Yuzhe Studios in Shanghai for this piece and the fun I had styling her. While I didn't fark this coat, they said they wouldn't mind if I did, which captured my heart. Already Coat has earned a place of honour in my closet.

You can read more about this designer team, their fantastic mission, and their studio HERE. In addition to a selection of hand-crafted denim and wool pieces, they also have some vibrant silk designs. Gorgeous. This coat is the "double-sided oversized bi-colour wool coat."

I shall link these outfits up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike. I'll see you there.

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