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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Pinky tea with a parasol

Oh dear, I think it's time for pinky tea at the country estate again. It's on my mind on account of the Royal Wedding. Did you watch it? One of the major thoughts I had when flicking through footage the next day was, that woman, the now-Duchess of Sussex, will never have to vacuum again, which is a good thing because her new digs are ENORMOUS, a perfect venue for pinky teas.

I'm featuring my new parasol this week wearing three different outfits on different days. There is something elegant, almost regal, about a parasol. It works hard in tough conditions but always maintains its composure, whether it's with man-pyjamas, above in Outfit 1, or a Moschino suit, later. 

I call this black shirt-dress man-pyjamas because I found this piece at Talize thrift store in the men's nightwear section. (Never overlook other sections in the thrift store.) And of course I'm wearing my magic loupe that O made for me. You can buy one too at his Etsy store, OSK Micro-Art Studio

Outfit 2 below features everything upcycled: my Marni for H&M pants with added side stripes, from Vancouver high-end consignment store Mine and Yours, chest-cooler T-shirt, graphic vintage handbag, and scribbled-on sneakers. And my magic loupe.

I seldom wear hats on account of my tower hair, and my pores choke when I put on lotion, so this parasol is perfect: it maintains the do, protects my skin, and keeps me cool. A special coating on the fabric blocks 98% of UV rays.

I almost bought a paper parasol last summer thinking a parasol would meet my needs. Glad I didn't because Lily-Lark asked if I'd like one of their designs. Wow, yeaaah!

Finely crafted in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from bamboo and wood, with ultra-soft, durable fabric in divine arty patterns. It's lightweight and comes with its own carry case. See how it's made HERE.

It's like a mega-brimmed hat but better because I control the roll, pitch, and yaw with a flick of my wrist.

Below I'm standing next to Elizabeth Zvonar, an artist friend, with the parasol closed.

I'm also wearing very cool tights that Zohara "Art on Tights" sent me. They are super soft and opaque at 120 denier, just the way I like them. Vancouver can be cool in the spring and summer, so I'll get to wear these tights year-round. I have more pairs I'll show you later.

Lily-Lark parasols come in large and small. This is a small - I thought it would be perfect for navigating busy city sidewalks. It is.

The pattern and drama of the parasol inspired me to make a short video on a whim. That day, I was wearing Outfit 3, my Moschino plaid suit, which features men's ties on the jacket and skirt. I bought it last year at the West Vancouver United Church Flea Market on a tip from friend Yvonne.

With the suit I'm wearing my cat/dog sticking-out-its-tongue T-shirt tucked in. But you can see the eyes when I don't wear the jacket. I got it on a tip from friend Sandra.

All that parasoling, I'm tuckered out. It's an Olympic sport now, did you know?
Then it's nap time on the concrete steps. Aaaah.

Give a lady a little privacy, would ya!?!
So many uses.

And that's the carry bag you can wear over your shoulder, which I do. It's almost like a samurai sword. Almost. Always at the ready for solar emergencies.

You wouldn't believe all the conversations I have with interesting people when I carry this parasol. Several men have commented on the quality - I'm not making this up. I'd love to see men carrying parasols - that would make my day!

Note to Lily-Lark: how about some canopies with monster trucks and stems that look like steel rods? Our skin is important and some guys can't stand lotions either, let alone large-brimmed hats. Good luck with that, hahaha! But why not?

I didn't remove the tags right away because I was always getting asked the brand. Now I won't forget. This design is called Taco.

Before, on sunny days I'd have to skulk awkwardly from light standard to light standard, like Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther, very undercover. But now, porting my own shade, I can walk wherever I like - what a concept! It's very liberating to choose my own path.

I met another woman today who also has a parasol - her skin is sensitive to lotions too. Are sun parasols a new trend? Rather, the revival of an old trend? Would you carry one?

That's all for this week, friends. I'll link up to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for her Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for her #iwillwearwhatilike.

Groove on!

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Me, Turniphead, and Rock-on Retrospective

It's possible you saw these little Turnipheads in a post I recently updated which came to your email in-box. I didn't know it would notify you. Auck. You may recognize some of Turniphead's outfits; she wears what I wear and usually hangs out with Kitty.

And I made another compilation video of some of my outfits from October 2016 to now-ish, Part 2 after Part 1, October '15 to '16. I uploaded a version, took it down, and then replaced it with this one. It's all so complex!

Have a look if you have a minute. Seriously, it's exactly 1 minute long.

Don't forget that I'm doing Style Boost Coaching now if you'd like help building up the courage to wear what makes you happy and live with attitude. See HERE.

Now, getting serious with playtime below.

This may look suspiciously like Vancouver Art Gallery, but really I'm in Italy! Yes, definitely, kind of! I stopped to whip around my dress and lean on marble columns on my way to a little trattorria, where I shall dine on pasta and drink red wine and wreck my dress, but I won't mind because, hey, I'm in friggin' Italy. 

Perhaps I shall need to rinse my dress in Trevi Fountain. The thought of laundry has never be so romantic. I should have brought all my dirty clothes with me!

Meet me at the Piazza di Spagna. See how great that sounds? Look for the woman with eyes like spinning saucers - that will be me, amazed that I am in friggin' ITALY!! 

I like the novels of Patricia Highsmith and loved the movie adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley with Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Jude Law, and Matt Damon. In particular, I loved seeing Italy of the late '50s through director Minghella's eye. The clothes - sigh. Below, a montage of scenes with the characters Meredith Logue and Tom Ripley.

Okay, so I haven't been to Italy - YET. But the Art Gallery's plaza is just several million steps removed. And the light was amazing that day, very, uh, Italian. 

I'm wearing my light corduroy strapless dress with my Calvin & Hobbs suspenders from Bella, Citizen Rosebud, and black tights and my man shoes, which I often wear to toughen up a feminine piece.

Mavis did a spectacular job! My remote control used to be named Dick, but Mavis is so much better. She works twice as hard for twice the pay. She always anticipates my needs.

Below, a closeup of the cool suspenders. I have them on backwards which is rightwards for me, a bit like a halter top. The white "blouse" is a light, soft cotton nightgown, thigh length, with all the pretty eyelet lace trim removed. It's not only long but also very oversized and bunchy, which poufs out the skirt quite satisfactorily. And it spills out the top aided by my heaving cleavage. Heh.

I couldn't have done a better job at sports photography if I had tried. 

I am going to link up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style, Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb, #iwillwearwhatilike

Have your clothes transported you anywhere this week? Do tell!! Any romantic laundry happenings you care to share? Okay, maybe don't answer that...

Sunday 6 May 2018

Courage to be who you are

I love the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. In particular, I like to sing "If I Were King of the Forest" as sung by the Cowardly Lion played by Bert Lahr. It's a sonic adventure duplicating his vibrato and little doggie woof sounds. In the movie, through a series of adventures, the Cowardly Lion eventually finds his courage. He is a role model.

I've had my share of scary adventures since I started Bag and a Beret in early 2012 - auditioning, schmoozing, modeling, using my tripod in public - and each time I do something new, I feel empowered and ask, What's next!? 

But getting to Bag and a Beret was a step-by-step process. Even though I dressed in things I loved, I loathed having my picture taken, and I didn't really understand how/why other women did it.

First, I launched a street style blog, Culture Serf, which focused on other people. A partial photo of me is featured in the masthead and just that freaked me out.

Then I opened a "blog" called Social Hangover, which was really a website that I updated manually, where I put stories, cartoons, and some art. My archives of that are on a USB stick somewhere "safe" (meaning, I can't find it). No photos of me, no way.

And then I opened a blog called Queen of Canada, where I did the same but added sketches of my outfits, pre-Turniphead days, taking me one step closer to actual outfit photos, although I would have denied it at the time. 

I made the initial drawings in pen, then coloured them in with pencil crayons, then scanned them, and then did touch-ups with a digital airbrush. My beret figured prominently. Again, no face.

That's a cartoon from Queen of Canada below. No disrespect intended, I just find it weird that Canada has a queen and I can't work in England even as a Commonwealth-er. I don't see much "common," or wealth for that matter, heh. 

I also did a series of paintings of the Queen living in the Canadian wilds, as a wandering pioneer, guarding her Corgis from wolves (so sorry to hear that her final Corgi passed recently), rinsing her gown outside her cabin.

At last I included my head but with a blurred face. Rarely would I include my face face. And I rarely wore any makeup at that time - didn't want it/didn't feel I need it - but that might be lipstick in the right photo. And I carried my camera at all times for the street style blog. These were in the sketches.

Social Hangover and Queen of Canada each lasted less than a year. During that time I got a better handle on my camera and tripod photographing my art. But what I was really doing was working up to join Patti's Visible Monday at her blog Not Dead Yet Style and all the other fabulous over-40 women who were having fun with style. 

And then, in early 2012, I was ready. I would soon hit 50 and that whole invisibility thing was really, REALLY PISSING ME OFF! I opened Bag and a Beret.

So here I am. Gimme an audience!! I'll woof, and I'll woof, and I'll roar. 

I've always been a creator/maker and bold in thought and style, but putting myself out in the virtual world required a shift. I mean, once you're out there, you're out there. I'm over it now. Besides, it's too late anyway.

And it's interesting that my current email is actlikeadiva, which, I noticed just now, is clearly an extension of the queen theme. As Cowardly Lion sang, "My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz." Ah, Bert Lahr, he was a brilliant performer.

And next came Instagram. The following video is a fast-forward look at my outfits from my first year there, October 2015/16. I have to thank Sylvia of 40-plus Style and Suzanne Carillo for their encouragement to join. Now Instagram is my most popular social media platform.

So that's my story, my path so far. The key for me these days is unlearning many of the stifling unnecessary rules out there to reduce the clutter on my way forward and translating the scary things into power.

Which leads me to my next point. I have started doing what I call Style Boost Coaching.

Style Boost Coaching

One of the best things to come out of my style blogging has been hearing from a diversity of women about how I have helped them in their own style adventures, not in dressing like me, but adapting some of my ideas into their own style or giving them the courage to make a complete style change. Really, it's the best feeling.

Whether you need a little boost or a big, huge style change, I can give you tips and energy for change learned through my own journeys. It's up to you. But we definitely need to talk in a one-on-one Skype coaching session. Until now I've only done style consulting in real life, sample HERE, but this is a new thing. Come join me. It'll be fun. It may even change your life...?

Click HERE to read more.
And below is my outfit of the week, an orange top $4, Billabong jeans $6 that were custom-dyed by Annie, and a reversible heavy quilted coat/robe $9, all amazing deals from the West Vancouver United Church Spring Flea Market. Again, my personal shopper Yvonne, who found me a cool Moschino suit last time, picked out an Armani dress $18 this time. So good. Can't wait to show you.

Margaret Manning of Sixty & Me also posted more transcripts of my Skype interviews with her in Sept. about how to boost your style over 50. So far:
  1. Vintage Clothing is Back for Women Over 50: Embrace the Past and Create Amazing Style 
  2. Fashion Over 50: Forget What Others Think and Express Your Eccentricities!
  3. Fashion After 50: The Art of Walking Like a Movie Star 
  4. I Love Floral Tights! Why Fashion After 60 is About Wearing What Makes You Happy
Feel free to comment! You can watch the videos at these links too. These were my very first Skype interviews, so scary but oh so fun too. Thank you again, Margaret! My original post from September is HERE.

And one final thing - I went to the Murakami exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery as the guest of friends blogger Judith and her partner Handsome, whose joyful "May the Fourth Be With You" outfits stopped people in their tracks! You'll know why if you check out the pics on Judith's Instagram,

That's all for this time. I'll be linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style (thanks for the inspiration all these years) and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb when the time is right. See you there.

Have a great week!!!

This post is long - well done on making it to the end. When I only post once a week, I feel like I have to cram it all in. So question: Do you prefer shorter but more frequent posts or longer less frequent posts? I'd appreciate your thoughts on that.

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Fifty and Other F-Words: Reflections in the Review Mirror

I occasionally allude to the menopause here on Bag and a Beret - it's hard not to. Mostly I feel majorly ripped off by the whole thing. "Pause" it is not! More like high-speed skidding on hairpin turns in the Alps (not in a good way) with a smile on my face that says I'm on a jolly holiday - "Tra-la, having a grand time!" - just playing my role in what must be the biggest brainwash of all time.

So when Margot Potter asked if I'd like an advance copy of her new book on the Pause and other life challenges, which she called Fifty and Other F-Words: Reflections from the Rearview Mirror, I thought, hell, yeah. I've known her online for years and she always cracks me up. We are the same age and she has pink hair, I mean, really, really pink. Those are Qualifications in my world.

Mel Kobayashi reads Fifty and Other F-Words by Margot Potter

Margot has also been in a rock band, auditioned for real Hollywood TV shows, has regularly appeared on stage and TV locally and nationally, and she was an on-camera shopping channel product expert for 11 years. As you know, I've misted my toes (doesn't qualify as a full-on dip) in some of those waters too, but Margot has plunged full cannonball! And she has authored seven DIY design/craft books and an e-book on personal branding.

So to the book.

The Outside: Excellent bright blue jacket with glittery bits, bubble-gum pink hard cover under it, satisfying heft at 220 pages, published by Sterling Publishing New York. And the colour age-progression shots of Margot on the facing paper are the perfect intro to what's to come.

The Insides: When I sat down to read, I kept turning pages and turning pages until there were none left. It was like a cleansing, invigorating shower, and I sighed with contentment when I was done.

Fifty and Other F-Words by Margot Potter

I tagged all the places I laughed out loud or considered vital bits for backup during a harrowing hairpin turn.

Each chapter is a unique riff on an F word - fearless, frazzled, flabby, fashionable, feminist, et cetera - essays, poems, and other wry takes on life, from the highs and lows, to the sideways and side-eyes.

There were many Vulcan mind-meld* moments, like when Margot writes about her life path as a creative. I'm sure many bloggers and artists can relate: a company/buyer says, if you donate this amazing thing to us, we'll reward you, not with money, but something waaaay better - with amazing exposure! She laughs, if you're a knitter, try paying your landlord with yarn. Bwahaha!

I steamed and nodded my head at some of the off-the-cuff remarks she (we all) has fielded as a woman with visible life lines: aren't you a bit long of tooth for that? to be wearing that? to think that? Particularly remarks from men. Ouch. But Margot lobs her ripostes like scoops of ice cream, sweet, sticky, sometimes tooth-crushingly cold, which we catch joyfully in a crunchy sugar cone - decadent, calorie-free. Truly badge-worthy humour.

The top of page 41, bwahahaha! It's in Frazzled. You'll have to get the book. Heh.

Mel Kobayashi reads Fifty and Other F-Words by Margot Potter

Botox, high heels, chiskers, slutty pilgrim costumes, the Cheez-It problem/solution, private investigators, the unmiraculous powers of kale, muffin tops and Bundt cake, it's all in there, with lots of sprinkles and glitter on top, but no kale, definitely no kale.

The take-aways? We are not alone. Any time is a good time for reinvention, but especially after 50. She writes, if Julia Child can do it, so can we! Margot celebrates, cheers, cries, and high-fives us forward, buoyed by everyday magic. I recommend Fifty and Other F-Words: Reflections in a Rearview Mirror. I hope this becomes a bestseller. I do.

Margot's WebpageFBYouTube (book trailer) 
IGThe Lady Party (Margot a.k.a. "Madge")

Also, Margot interviewed me as part of her book launch. 
It's HERE, Mel Kobayashi: Fearless Fashion.

Melanie Kobayashi at Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza, Missoni trousers

*reference to Star Trek sci-fi TV series, a telepathic mind convergence
I was not paid for this review. And Margot didn't give me yarn either. I'm not sure if she knits.

For this shoot at Vancouver Art Gallery, I wore beige tan caramel butterscotch light brown Missoni pants from My Sister's Closet, a striped silk blouse by Scotch and Soda, a felt coat by Yuzhe Studio, and Italian ankle boots from MSC.

Melanie Kobayashi at Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza, Missoni trousers

The plaza is a very public place to use my tripod, but pffft, I'm such a pro these days. One kind woman stopped and asked if I'd like her to take my photo. Dick was doing a good job (my remote control) so I thanked her and declined. 

Those banners are advertising the Takashi Murakami Exhibit at the gallery, almost over. If you want to see it, you better hurry! Below is Turnip Head in my outfit, reading this book.

Mel Kobayashi bag and a beret turnip head sketch
I'm linking this outfit up with Visible Monday at Patti's place at Not Dead Yet Style, and #iwillwearwhatilike at Catherine's place at Not Dressed as Lamb. I also linked this up to Catherine's #SaturdayShareLinkUp, where you can share links to any topic. Thanks for that, Catherine.

And thanks for visiting!!

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