Monday, 8 April 2019

Royal classy fresher knows how to travel

Several looks, several realities.


I am gaggingly high class, as you know. For a little je ne sais quoi, I casually toss around foreign words like I know what I'm saying. I don't laugh; I nod imperceptibly, careful not to disturb my limbs. In fact, nothing is funny; everything is oh so dull and droll. Eye roll.

I speak softly, like a firefly - flit flit flit - no stranger to multi-syllabic words either, not I. Sometimes I even use a rich raspy "fry" voice (see what it is here). My face is of course a portrait of serenity and super-mega-awesome enlightenment. No wonder poise is my middle name. And elegance, too. Mel Poise Elegance Kobayashi, MPEK, not to be confused with MPEG for transmitting compressed audio and visuals, although sometimes I am compressed as well.


My clothes are draped over pillowy silk hangers in a closet the size of a suburban garage with room for four Ram-tough pickup trucks. My home is Frank Lloyd Wright original-ish and a creek gurgles down the middle of my living room for ambiance and sophisticated meditation. That's classy.

There's a little gong beside me too, which I've trained my dachshund to hit with her nose to chakratize my namastes, and so I don't have to reach for the mallet myself - so crass. I made her a special metal nose cone so it works right. And I sip stringy green drinks, which usually end up in the creek, which is great because it looks like algae.

Above, I gaze into a brilliant future of sophistication and expensive sun chairs.

O took these photos on Granville Island. I'm wearing the grey sweater-dress and maxi boiled wool cardigan jacket from my Talize shopping video. The tights were a gift from Zohara.


I'm so excited about my new school! I've got my uniform, my pack, and my pencil crayons, freshly sharpened. My DIY monster truck tuxedo shirt shows just the right mix of I'll-kiss-your-ass-if-you-kiss-mine relationship I hope to cultivate with faculty and my peers. I am confident it will be a good first day - I have brought a gift for the teacher. Nothing says "accept me" more than gifts and wads of cash.

Wait, what? What do you mean detention?! Are you out of your mind? Seriously, who wants apples when you can have an appletini?!!

What? Suspension?! Expulsion?!! Hahaha! Excellent. So meet me in the parking lot for some seriously delinquent chocolate brownies. And I didn't want a wing named after me anyway!! Wings are for birds, pantiliners, and planes, pfft.


Waiting for my magic carpet. It's late. Again.

I may need to go by foot passenger - I always manage to buy the only tickets. Sadly, this mode of transport is getting slower, more expensive, and more uncomfortable by the year. Although boarding is usually easier now with lower platforms, there may be a foul odour when I disembark.

The on-board entertainment sucks, especially when I'm humming, there is usually no food, unless you count cough drops, and they ask annoying security questions like, are you bringing any dangerous goods on board? Well, I do have a wicked side eye. Does that count?

Plus, they always check for extra weight - cheeky!! - and want to know if I have anything to declare. You bet I do, but it's not fit for print!

The robe and scarf are from a good friend. This is their first outing. The earrings were heavy so I wasn't able to do much jumping. I hate when that happens. It's like, jump, ow, jump, ow, jump, ow.


Full circle. My royal subjects. If I were queen, this would be my portrait.

Look who came to town! It's Sheila of blog Sheila Ephemera! And L, too, but to see them in full splendour, you'll have to go to her big-ass weekend roundup about their annual trip to Vancouver to celebrate their wedding anniversary, their 22nd this time. Woo hoo! Congratulations! I'm always thrilled to be included in their plans.

We put in some time at the Telus building, where we were serenaded with rock tunes played on a Fazioli grand piano. Very cool. Then we had brunch at Medina before I had to head out.

L took both these photos.

These two are always knockouts. People get googly-eyed over them wherever they go. As for me, I'm wearing a velveteeny '70s suit that Suzanne gave me with my fave ruffled blouse and my neon orange men's XXL coat on top. Again, see Sheila's blog for more photos.

That's all for now. There's been lots going on here. I can't wait for my next several posts. You guys are the best!! Thanks so much for dropping by. Appletinis for everyone! And brownies! Send me cash and I'll name a wing after you. Hahaha! I hope you are enjoying your season change.

So when it's time I'll be linking to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and her Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike. See you there maybe?


Thursday, 21 March 2019

My big screen debut, a contest, Female Trouble, and more

Bing. I'm back!!

I'd show you holiday photos if I'd actually been on a holiday in the last month, but all the travelling I have done lately has been in my head - and I know that if I showed you photos of that, you would all get motion sickness. 

So here I'll show you what I've been wearing since I last wrote.

Kids loved those sunglasses. So did I. Especially with my space-age helmet hair.

The sweater in the next photo was a gift from British brand HADES, pure virgin lamb's wool, hand-made in Scotland. HADES offers several sayings, but this is my fave of the bunch. The retro font is reminiscent of the zany '60s movie Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows with Rosalind Russell. I didn't even know there was a John Waters movie by this name from 1974. Oh woe. I must see it.

In this outfit I felt like I was on a movie set. That's my script beside me (not really, it's my Glitter Barbie sketch pad I bought in Greece, which I use as a clipboard when I attend press events).

And more stuff.

I don't know how that greenie-brown XXL boiler suit made it into my closet. Secret interloper! Maybe it seduced me with its huge baggy sloppiness in a moment of weakness. I'm sure that's it.

Sleuthing aside, I did something very terrifying in my absence. And I failed at it really, really badly in a good way.

I entered a video in a competition by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) called Next Up for amateur standup comedians, un-agented and previously unpaid. Except I'm not quite stand-up. I'm more La-Z-Boy really. I only did two takes because otherwise I would have chickened out. That's my excuse; I'm sticking to it. I could have hidden this, but there is misery in numbers. Right?

Rules for viewing:
Don't feel guilty or bad if you don't like it. For feck's sake, please don't be happy if you don't like it. And don't laugh either. Well, you can laugh but not in a mean way. If you start to feel mean, go to Suzanne's blog here; she's the one who told me about the contest. Hahaha. Now I'm laughing.

It is extremely painful to try to be funny alone in one's room, without music or a laugh track. Ask Sherry at Petite Over 40 because we made a mini Laugh-In show called LOL 40-Up. "Total fecking silence," to quote a line from Steve Buscemi in one of my favourite movies, Fargo. See the scene here, with Russian overdubbing!

Ten finalists have been selected, excluding moi, but including lots of women. Right on!! Have a look and a laugh. Finalists. You can browse all the entries here #CBCNextUp. Clearly my piece is more monologue than stand-up, but I was happy just to get my video out there. I figure that was a 10 on the experiential freak-yourself-out-for growth chart.

AND, I made a sponsored video for Talize Thrift store which I posted on Instagram. My friend Elizabeth Zvonar helped with camera work. Lots of fun. I am not under any obligation to post it here, but click the picture if you want to see it.

AND, finally, the real movie I was in, the documentary Keep It In The Streets, written and directed by Everett Bumstead, is now playing on YouTube, 70 min. Everett and Sam, who was also instrumental in the project, are awesome. Experimental art film. I am honoured to have been a part of this. I hope you get a chance to watch. Their heart is in every scene. Click the photo to go to YouTube.

And that's it from me for now. I'm going to have a fun mini meetup tomorrow! Can't wait.

I'll link up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for #iwillwearwhatilike when they come up next.

Keep cool, my friends.
As always, thank you for visiting!!

Friday, 22 February 2019

I am not a cone

A big cotton dress worn backwards, a tablecloth, a tutu, a wedding dress, two hoop skirts, and a pink net skirt. The writing, tacked on in felt letters, says, THIS IS NOT A CONE.

The inspiration for this fark fantasy is courtesy of the painter Magritte, the brilliant design duo of Viktor & Rolf, and Shelley of Forest City Fashionista who challenged me to riff on Viktor & Rolf's latest collection, which featured big dresses with memes on the front. Shelley's version is awesome, HERE. She also includes more background on the V&R collection.

Below, feeling couture-ish in my favourite neighbourhood garden. I wanted to experience what it would be like to actually wear something like this as everyday wear. Short answer: I did in fact feel like a giant cone and passersby approached with prudent caution.

I loved doing this shoot - a couple of hours with my tripod - but the tablecloth kept snagging on my glitter platform shoes and shrubbery. I hate when that happens!

The underpinnings above. And I was wearing tights and jeggings and three long-sleeved shirts to keep off the chill on this sunny but cold day. The breastplate of the wedding dress is jewel-encrusted and weighs a ton. It's hidden under there too.

I did not edit the next photo. The sun created a brilliant patch of light in this alcove. But I'll never scramble up a hill like that in those shoes or that dress again.

This bumper-car of a dress is now deconstructed, making transportation and life in general much simpler.

Thanks for this challenge, Shelley. It was a great way to beat the winter doldrums.

Also, stylista Monica, who writes the blog Mrs. Allnut, found me in one of Spain's top magazines S MODA EL PAÍS. Hahaha! It's also in Brazil I think. I had no idea there was a print version. She scanned the cover and the article photo and emailed them to me. Wow. Huge hugs, Monica!

And finally, I was included in The Zoe Report, which is a big online thing, HERE.
"11 Stylish Women Over 50 You Should Be Following on Instagram." The writer, Sarah Lindig, asked for permission to use my photo for a piece she was working on. And then, bam, there it was!

There's lots going on here, and work work work. I'll be holed up for a while at it. I hope you are all surviving the season, whatever it may throw at you - heat or cold. Thank you thank you for visiting.

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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

The devil made me wear neon yellow plaid

Everyone hop on the happy bus! I'll serenade you with my expert tambourine playing until we hit Milwaukee - no guarantees after that. Greyhound bus line is defunct in mid- and western Canada now, so I really think we need a Partridge Family bus line to take its place, full of happy people with shag haircuts wearing baggies (wideleg pants) and peace pendants.  

Why this burst of glee? Because I'm feeling guilty. Very guilty. And I've manufactured this outburst to cancel all that out. 

What happened?

You know I thrive on thrift. Well, I bought retail. RETAIL!!! Gross, pitui. Puh, puh, puh - I scrape my tongue with paper towels. But I couldn't help myself. 

There I was, my body moving down the sidewalk towards home after sketching kitty in my journal, then suddenly, I heard a squeaky braking sound and my left-turn ninker came on. Before you know it, I was on the stairs. Then BLAM, I was in...Topshop!! (sound of horrified screaming)

What's the big deal, right? Lots of people shop there and the Earth keeps spinning, mind you, with a bit bigger wobble these days. The big deal is: 1) my closet is a glamazardous off-world colony; 2) I support thrift shopping to halt the wobble trend; and 3) I'm only dressing off-world these days (my closet). I still regularly shop at high-end designer stores for style inspo, though. 

I digress:
I used to visit Topshop, mostly for ultra-cool footwear with sales of 80 percent off, cool shoes that nobody except me wanted, example here. Then those mega-sales dried up, probably because retailers in general have had to scramble to feed buyers deals in new and improved sale events, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day Month. Discounts seem lower but more frequent. This is my guess. Have you noticed it?

So when I realized where I was, at any second I expected the angel on my shoulder to garrote me with a harp string. But no, I heard a high-pitched sound, almost like singing: it was the devil on my other shoulder, tickling my ear with his spear! (no comment) 

I went to scope out the shoes, but there in front of me was a row of neon plaid puffer jackets. I approached with trepidation and checked my rear view to make sure I wouldn't smack anyone when I recoiled at the underwhelming sale price. Gaaa - 80 percent off. I lunged. Oof. 

But wait, there were a few more racks to nose through. And did I buy again? Let's just say my angel's harp strings are all broke; I'm more thick-skinned than I thought. And the devil, with so much action, dulled his spear. 

I only bought one other piece, which I'll reveal later, but this was a big deal for me - non-shoe retail. To balance things out, I've been revving up my sewing machine at home. I'll show you that later as well. Is it clothing? Is it art? 

And a couple more photos of what I wore last week.

My awesome men's Oscar de la Renta wool/cashmere overcoat made in Bulgaria with my black skinny jeans and pickle-stabber ankle boots. Every single piece here, I realize, is from My Sister's Closet thrift boutique, which supports the Battered Women's Shelter Services. It's one of the very few thrift shops in the city (actually, the only one that I know of) that doesn't charge GST based on its charitable status.

You can see in the above two photos how the light moved in the short time I was there. The second one was taken before the first one. And then this corner below always seems to have light but I don't go there often - it's a bit scungie despite the great graffiti.

I'll do linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for Visible Monday and Catherine at Not Dressed a Lamb for her #iwillwearwhatilike when the time comes. 

I hope you guys are all fine. No, not fine - stellar!!! And why not? We're alive, we can dress up almost for free with stuff we have around, and the world is still turning, a bit more wobbly now, but turning. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Menocore style because they're not menopausal

A woman turns 50 and she suddenly turns into a confident potato with waistless pants, at least that seems to be the view of menocore, the hot flash style trend among 20- and 30-something women who love dressing up (in this case, dressing down) as menopausal women. How flattering - a style that looks so good it's simply named after our reproductive life cycle. And by the way, you have the face for radio!

When I found the word menocore in a New York Times article, The New Mom Uniform of Park Slope, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, like a detective who smells blood - or not. The writer called it a "a hateful takeoff on normcore." I followed the link to the source: the blog Man Repeller, a June 2018 post called Menocore is the New Normcore, and It's a Lot More Comfortable. Now I know who dunnit.

Mel Kobayashi, gold catsuit, yellow wig, fertilcore style
This coat is a men's XXL - solid menopausal style.
photos by @vancouverbarbara, edits by moi

I learned that menocore celebrates baggy clothing, hair scrunchies, exposed bra straps, neutrals, and a host of other fun stuff we wear. And we are lauded for not caring how we look to other people. It's because we're so frigging confident. Ross writes that with the menocore trend, we middle-agers are finally getting our time in the spotlight, meaning, presumably, baggy neutrals have never looked so good because now they are on young bods?

Don't get me wrong. Menocore has certainly empowered me. That's why I'm excited to announce here, for the first time, a new trend for us of the baggy-pants set: Fertilcore (or Menstrucore, your call), named after the reproductive life cycle of women in their 20s and 30s. How freeing to feel insecure enough that we can finally care how we look! Hooray! If my friends raise an eyebrow and say, Gee, Mel, you're looking very Fertilcore today, I can blame it on those frisky fertiles.

Mel Kobayashi, gold catsuit, yellow wig, fertilcore style
New fab Fertilcore look: gold lycra catsuit, platform runners, neon yellow wig, white brows you can't see here. This outfit is not my fault!

So rip up those What Not to Wear Over 30 lists, my menopausal friends. Hello mini skirts, stilettos, and hoop earrings! And don't miss my soon-to-be-released list of What Not to Wear in Your Reproductive Years. I mean, if you want to dress as mutton, you better do it right!

Mel Kobayashi, fertilcore debut
Fertilcore - here we come! 
See my attempts at super-tight leather pants here and here if you haven't already.

I have to say, I won't hold menocore against its adherents. I am satisfied knowing that hopefully some day they will all experience the special secret surprises that accompany menopause and middle age.

And I get it: comfortable clothing feels good and can look great. But why not have the vagina (because balls are for juggling) to just own it all on its own? I think that's what menocore is about anyway - confidence, period, or not. My fertile-free-ness should not be an excuse for someone's neutrals any more than someone's fertility should be an excuse for my platform shoes. 

I thought women's style had progressed beyond an us/them issue. We are all in this together, for the whole ride. So how about we forget about ageist labels altogether and enjoy what we all bring to the table? (Like Pao's comment - womanocore?)

As Jessica at Warning: Curves Ahead concluded in her famous viral blog post in response to a list about what women shouldn't wear over 30: "24 Things Women Over 30 Should WearWhatever the f*ck they want." Words we can all live by any time.

Mel Kobayashi, gold catsuit, yellow wig, fertilcore style
Cool sparkly owl pendant from Patti, Not Dead Yet Style.

Edit: I'm linking up to Catherine's #Share All Linkup at Not Dressed as Lamb. And later to her #iwillwearwhatilike. I'll also link to the next Visible Monday at Patti's Not Dead Yet Style.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Tight leather pants and a sports car

My second tight pants video. I hope you like it! The first one is HERE. Special thanks to my great crew, @vancouverbarbara on camera, and @ahlovethepug and @wbartlett12 as the rescuers. I laughed so hard I cried when we were making this.

Tight Pants and Sports Car

Some more photos from the shoot.

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, tight leather pants and heels and a sports car

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret, tight leather pants

Have a great week, everyone!!

Monday, 14 January 2019

Thwarting crime in a red catsuit

Below I am in my atelier having cocktails with James Bond (the Sean Connery one). I am smiling because he just thanked me for my stellar work at the hidden volcano last week when I thwarted the plans of the bad guys. 

In reply, I winked and said, "You'll have to work harder if you want to keep up with me, Jim." He smiled back devilishly, tipped his glass, and said, "Perhaps I'll have another." He was drinking wheatgrass, good for the digestion.

"On the rocks, Jim, or neat?" I asked as I sauntered over to the wet bar and popped another carton. "By all means, neat and shaken," he said. It was awkward shaking his green drink after I'd already opened it, but I'm trained for emergencies. I filled a glass and withheld a retch. 

I decided to be dirty and popped a few olives in as well - they were hard to see in the putrid green fluid. And stuck in a bamboo straw because plastic ones are ruining the planet. Finally, on a whim I fished a bag of frozen corn from the freezer where I also keep vodka and old blue jeans.

"Here you go, Jim." He smiled at the bobbing olives. I said, "Next time, be more careful," and dropped the corn on his knee. He winced and saluted.

"Well, I'll leave you to your dirty wheatgrass. I must go. No, don't get up. There's a joystick in the arm there. This chair will take you wherever you want. Mind the wheels under the skirt." And I was off.

I set my hoverboard on High. I had to hurry if I wanted to be on time at city hall to receive the key to the city. That's me below, ready to shake hands with the mayor. The key is ginormous and gold-plated, very unwieldy. In a press scrum after the ceremony I asked the mayor if he could possibly exchange the key for a small fob. My catsuits don't have pockets.

Then I asked, "Where's the door for this key anyway?" "Whaaa...?" the mayor spluttered. His eyes bulged in alarm. "Well, uh, well, I don't know, really." He swiped his sweaty forehead with the palm of his hand. Eeew. "It's got to be around somewhere. It's the key to the city for f#@$'s sake!" He snapped his fingers and was immediately enveloped by consultants in boring suits.

When the mayor turned back to the press, his fists were raised. "Nobody builds a giant door to my city and I don't know about it!" he proclaimed. "I'll get to the bottom of this!" Cameras flashed. The mayor posed. And I knew I had my next big assignment.

I may need help. I hoped Jim hadn't left yet but remembered with relief that I had Johnny English on speed dial. (Johnny English, spoof Brit spy played by Rowan Atkinson, read here.)

And below, on my way home I stopped at the studio to practise my go-go dancing. Of course it is a requisite skill for all international women of action, which is so unfair. Many international male stars just sit around acting like misogynist pigs. 

In fact, I received a dance caution on a previous job, my guest appearance on LOL 40-UP! show, which Sherry Dryja of blog Petite Over 40 and I made. It's on our IGs, here, here, and here. Plus Bloopers, here
Sherry and I had a BLAST!! shooting LOL 40-UP, modeled after the Laugh-In comedy TV series from the '70s. Sherry was in Seattle; I was in Vancouver. But we found a way. It stretched our tolerance of bad jokes and our editing skills. Thanks, Sherry, for coming up with such a freaking fun idea. And thanks to O for his tolerance when our home was blanketed in green screen. The dance clip was made from some green screen takes I made for the show.
I'm wearing my Gordi of Montreal vintage red wool catsuit with rear zip. I always get into trouble when I wear it.

You know what's funny? Although I am a social butterfly, sometimes I feel stuck in the wormy stage, too many feet without enough gorgeous shoes to go around. Slow-moving, hairy, and squishy, particularly in winter. Better than being a mealworm though, which just turns into a beetle.

There was a study which showed no difference between mealworms fed styrofoam for one month and those fed "conventional" food. I'll take the dirty wheatgrass. Who thinks of these experiments? And are they hiring? (That was on Wiki, by the way, but there was a note stating the claim needs a reliable source. Ya think?)

It's a new year since I posted last. I hope you are all well-rested after any holidays you may have had. It's a year for creativity, caring, and humour, you betcha. Big hugs to all of you. Thank you for coming back to Bag and a Beret after this break. I'm very grateful.

I'll be linking up to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Catherine's #iwillwearwhatilike at Not Dressed as Lamb. I may see you there!

Hang on to your hoverboards, everyone! Two-thousand nineteen is going to be quite a ride!


If you are in a style rut, my friend Sylvia of 40+ Style will be offering some awesome courses to help you feel fabulous. Click the image for details. For her paid courses I get a commission, but you know I never promote stuff like this unless I think it's absolutely awesome. And it is!!! Hurry!!! The Style Challenge is free and on NOW!

Style Course: 21 Steps to a More Stylish You

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