Video

Snap! Rhythm Is A Dancer

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http://youtu.be/JYIaWeVL1JM

I’m reinventing what this blog is and what it does. I used to want to write about music. And a few years ago, I contributed to a music blog for a bit, but music is hard to keep up with. The real dilemma is trying to find the new best thing that no one else has seen yet. And basically, the guys over at the stellar music blog Tracasseur already have such a good thing going, I’m just going to muse over tunes as they float my way and please my ears and leave the worrying whether they’re signed or not to the pros. This blog is about the things that I associate with that music–the feeling, the memories, the wardrobe it practically conjures into being. These things I will put here.

Starting this off, I wanted to post something that, to my 5-year-old self, was basically the coolest thing ever. The 90s are back in a big way right now. Both music and fashion were permeated in the last couple of years with 90s throwbacks. In music its dance leads and bass lines, and in fashion its chunky heals with shapeless floral dresses, denim everything, over-sized coats and biker-influenced leather (and now faux leather) boots, hats, gloves, jackets–basically anything that can be leather (or faux leather).

Case in point - "biker coat" H&M

Case in point – “biker coat” H&M

And it probably has some metal detailing to go with it. Detailing is in. Think that’s a normal parka? Think again! The back has a giant eagle print or skull and wings stitched onto it. Lovely. But let’s move on to the fun 90s throwbacks.

I’m not sure I really need to post any other photo – H&M “retro” jacket

This song by SNAP! was released in 1992. I would have been just too young then to be choosing my own clothes, but I never missed an opportunity to sneak into my big sister’s room when she was gone (sorry, sis) to look at her Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazines. I’d open her closet and admire the bright colours and take out her shoes and put them on, my feet too small for them. I was enamoured with her fabulous things. I thought the perms my family got were so cool then. I almost recall feeling left out, as my mom and sisters had perms. Now I view that exclusion based on my too-young-to-get-a-perm age as a blessing. But at the time, I wanted one too.

Now in my clear-headed present mind (no, do not even for a second think that a perm would have been anything but a travesty!), having such distinct memories of the unflattering jeans, the blocky, clunky heels, I wonder why we’ve so thoroughly re-embraced the 90s in fashion. Is it wise to square the toe on a Maryjane and then make the heel almost wider than the rest of the shoe? Can that ever look good?

A very 90s shoe by a fave designer Vagabond - "Dioon"

A very 90s shoe by a fave designer – Vagabond “Dioon” sold by Urban Outfitters

So, I watch this video. The video is comically bad. Dear me, it is hilarious to watch now! But the song, I still remember what I felt like as a kid singing the lyrics wrong (I’m fairly sure I thought it was “Ribbon is a dancer” for a few years there) as we flew down the highway in my mom’s car–my sister’s having commandeered the radio no doubt–thinking that my liking this song probably made me a pretty cool kid. And honestly, at the time that was probably true. I still like this song. It stuck in my mind over 20 years. And admittedly those memories do make me a bit nostalgic for some of the things of my youth. But even so, I remain fairly happy to pick and choose for myself the best re-tailored and adapted items of clothing inspired by the 90s but with a 2013 update and to leave the unflattering, shapeless garments to the new youngin’s who aren’t old enough to actually remember the originals. Pretty soon they’ll all be getting perms too, and once again, I’ll dodge that bullet. What a blessing.

Wedges in the Wilderness

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I spent a few hours today looking at photos of national parks, longing to walk among tall evergreens in awe-inspiring valleys and on grand sweeping high ranges.  I’m not usually a very outdoorsy person, at least not in a Texas sort of way.  Here, it’s so hot outside most of the year that me and outdoors just don’t match.  But looking at the beauty of our national parks had me thinking about hiking, which I do enjoy, especially in cooler places that aren’t Texas…  As shoes are never far off in my mind, hiking boots came to mind.  I wondered recently whether there are stylish hiking boots.  They seem to all be rather similar.   There is certainly a “typical hiking boot,” but since I like every piece of clothing (especially footwear) to reflect my individual style, I wondered what kind of hiking boot out there could represent me.

Charles by Diesel

Liason by Diesel (black wash)

With hiking in the back of my mind, I felt drawn to the functional, almost blue collar-influences visible in all of these shoes by Diesel.  I see stylistic elements of hiking, biker boots, broken in jeans perhaps worn by a craftsman.  Now, while I wouldn’t recommend climbing the Grand Tetons in any of these high elevation beauties, they did reflect something unpolished and wild to me.  The pair Charles show the clearest hiking boot influences with the two-tone laces, fur accent and D-ring eyelets.

I have to say, I absolutely adore the mini jeans look of the Liason styles.  I associate jeans with my father, who is a carpenter and has probably worn jeans nearly every day of his life.  Thus the handyman association of these makes them all the more charming to me, not to mention they are wedges, which I am currently obsessed with.  Check out the third photo for details of the details in the denim.  Tiny pockets, small version of the waistband, a creative approach to branding.  What’s not to love?  Now can they be a functional member of any wardrobe?  Probably not, but they’ve perfectly married the two essences of this post: versatile, comfortable outdoor footwear and towering dressed down heels.

Liason by Diesel

The cowboy boot meets motorcycle boot Nels exceeds the simple stylistic staples of both by transforming them into something new with a loose, green wash denim upper and thick stacked heel.  These are about details.  Check out the triple stitching on the platform.

Nels by Diesel

Evoking Outerwear

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BB Dakota Bostwick Coat

I. Love. Coats.

A simple fact.  I’ve been stalking the immense collection of Top Shop outerwear for a good 6 years now.  I can’t get enough of funnel neck collars, deep lappels, ruched sleeves, side pockets, tweed wool blends, sculpted hoods, empire silhouettes and wooden toggles.  I simply adore it all.  The better the tailoring, the more I love it.

Outerwear speaks to me of a particular mood.  I probably feel the same way about winter clothing that someone who longs for sandy beaches and sun dappled waters feels about bikinis and breezy sleeveless shirts.  (none of which do I care much for)  I, instead, long for the high, thick collars and soft scarves of fall and the tall boots and heavy cocoon-like coats of winter.  I enjoy arriving at my destination to then shed my often monochromatic layers to emerge a more colorful and sometimes surprisingly dressed up person.  It’s part of the fun.  It could be all business or dance party tucked inside someone’s coat.  And you’d never know it.

It’s also somewhat of a challenge to maintain individual style in the winter, when we mostly don the same coat and maybe switch bewtween just a few different pairs of boots every day.  I enjoy the challenge.  There are small details in accessory choices or highlights in stitching that I think can pop more and make a grander statement because of the lack of options and flexibility to express yourself.  Suddenly a bright color in a scarf, a new oxblood colored satchel, uniquely patterned knit tights, or a sparkly pair of earings become the focal point of expression that style hinges on.  I tend not to like busy patterns, so the stripped down means of expression allotted by winter wear suits me nicely.

And so finding a pretty small brand recently that has been selling to a few big name stores like Mod Cloth and Urban Outfitters and who specializes in coats and jackets made me really happy.  Meet BB Dakota part of the Dakota Collective.  BB Dakota has some great, cohesive style on offer.  I wasn’t all that surprised to realize that the two coats I adored on different websites (Urban and Mod Cloth) were actually from the same designer.  Peruse their line.  It’s a mother daughter duo, which is pretty cool.

Let me tell you why I love this coat.  Well, firstly, just look at it.  I enjoy the flexibility of the silhouette.  Form fitting versus draped.  I like the variation in length, the geometric pattern, and the unusual absent collar/hood.  It’s a very different sort of coat than you typically see on the street, but it’s not so unusual that it wouldn’t fit well in most wardrobes.  As a big fan of grey, black and blue in my wardrobe and geometric patterns, I’m completely biased.  But that aside, I think there is something classic yet new about this one.  They seem to be good at that, over at Dakota Collective.  I look forward to keeping up with their collections in the future, and of course, expanding my winter clothing collection in the process.

Architecture of a Shoe

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Jeffrey Campbell Benched platform oxford from Solestruck.com

I have been inspired, as of late, to discuss my appreciation of Jeffrey Campbell’s innovative, sometimes sculptured, sometimes strange, shoe designs.  Thinking about his trademark platforms, I suddenly found myself drifting back to my childhood.

Jeffrey Campbell Safety platform from Solestruck.com

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I became engrossed with drawing shoes.  It was about the same time that the Spice Girls brought platforms back into every day fashion.  Yes, I’m aware, that dates me a bit, but the main thing is that I started drawing shoes, mostly crazy platforms, during class and showing them to my classmates.  It became a sudden fad.  Before I knew it, everyone was trying to invent new, funky shoes.  I remember it as a short-lived period of flurried drawings and minor competitions.  Then one day, we had a real contest, informally organized of course, by me and my classmates.  I don’t recall whose idea it was, but before I knew it, I was sitting at home working on my drawing for the contest.  I worked very hard.  I had already drawn dozens of shoes, but this one, a multi-layer, graduated platform heel, was, I thought, my most ambitious one yet.  I was confident I would win.  I’d started the whole drawing fad, after all.  We had the contest, and I got second.  I was devastated.  But until this day, I still think that I wasn’t awarded first place because my friends didn’t want the fad starter to get all the glory.  That was arguably the only fad I ever started, and while it’s hard being objective and memory can be elusive, I still do not think a shoe design with an actual spike heel could possibly be the “best” design.  It was no accident that the two most popular girls in the class made that particular design.

With that little flashback, I remembered what it was to ponder new, yet, functional shoe designs.  Here I was, a child who’d never worn heels, drawing towering platforms.  Perhaps it’s not so different from a man designing women’s shoes, and designing them very well.

The Coffee Reward

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Today Austin is blanketed in a kind of oppressive heat. It becomes impossible to breathe deeply as you stumble through scratchy gravel kicked up by endless construction projects and squint tightly against the harsh, bleaching sun. It’s the kind of heat that makes one long for a 90 degree day. Even “hot” would be better than “sweltering.” Anything is better than this. And I’m starting to think “this” isn’t even categorizable. But it’s the drought that has done it, that has made Austin feel in June like it might in an ordinary mid-July. Temperatures rose too quickly and have hovered in the low 100s every day, for hours. There was no spring this year. Evidently the rain has been absent markedly since October, when news agencies report our drought began. It’s hot, all right.

And yet… And yet I have a hot cup of coffee. I just ventured out into the dizzying sun to get, not an iced beverage, but a hot coffee. What madness is this? It’s probably two things. Firstly, it’s always a bit chilly in my office, as it seems it is in every office. (Reports from friends confirm that they too work in igloo-like cubicles where a sweater would cary more weight when bartering than a fan would.) However, I sort of enjoy being a bit chilly. I find the experience of a cup of coffee, the way the warmth traces my fingertips, gradually creeping into my fingers and then warming me from the inside out with each cautious sip, far more enticing than a pathetic box fan spinning hot air into oblivion, hoping to emulate a happy breeze, but seeming more like a breath from a panting dog on my face. Secondly, I simply enjoy the coffee venture for the experience I have, the chance to think as I stroll down the hill and for the reward at the end (the whole point of the journey: coffee). And somehow, iced whatever just doesn’t hold the same eventual flavorful potential that a steaming cup of coffee with frothy milk lapping at the sides of the paper cup does. And I, after all, am very much a sentimentalist.

None of this is relevant to what I hope to do with this blog. But maybe, just maybe, it gives a sense of who I am so that we can begin as though we’ve already met.

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