Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blazers are a Girl's Best Friend

After a winter hibernation this blog is back! While I do enjoy some winter fashions (knee socks over tights with tall boots is a staple for me) fashion just isn't the same in the wintry months of a sub-Arctic island in the Atlantic Ocean. Except for this amazing mouse toque I got at H&M in Montreal, winter fashion was a bit lacklustre.

Now the days are longer, the snow is finally gone and it's time for spring shoes and bright colours. In this "in between coats" weather, you may need an outer layer that doubles as an inside layer. This post is in praise of the best and easiest way to spruce up every outfit: the blazer.

Whenever I get dressed in the morning and feel that my outfit needs something else - easy, add a blazer. This wool and rayon blazer (a great find from Previously Loved Clothes and Things) is one of my favourites. While I tend to gravitate towards bright, bold colours, I love the subtle pattern of this pale brown, and the dark brown accents of the collar trim and inner sleeves. I would often pair this with a bright solid dress underneath but happened to wear it with another shade of brown this time, set off by black and white Oxfords and, well, Leia buns.

This neon pink blazer is probably the Queen of all my blazers. "Tea & Cup" is the brand (adorable) and I purchased it at Envy in St. John's. Having no buttons, it has an amazing cut in the front that just falls very effortlessly. It's a sure way to brighten every outfit and neon pink is surprisingly easy to match with other colours and any pattern.

As the summer months come and you want to break out your paisley hammer pants and heels, while not try a short sleeve or sleeveless blazer? This tan sleeveless blazer with stiff, double ruffle shoulders is great and so versatile. 

Finally, the greatest blazer I've ever worn is undoubtedly this vintage VOCM News blazer, pictured here for Hallowe'en 2014.

So many blazers, so little time.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mad Hats: Let's Talk Headgear

Want this whole outfit.
Confession: I may be watching Downton Abbey for the hats.

Actually, it's for the amazing writing, compelling performances, and the ability for almost every single episode to elicit tears. Sometimes incessant weeping and refrains of "why, why?!?!" Also, of course, the wonderful costumes, of which hats are paramount.

As the series evolves and we see the times a-changin' and have to say goodbye to a certain way of life my first thought is always "no, not the hats! Anything but the hats!" Luckily, I've watched through to the end of Series Four and the hats are still fabulous.

It's not just the elaborate, laced, feathered, and flowered women's hats either; the menfolk are sporting some amazing headgear.

Love a man in a bowler with a furrow.

I could easily devote an entire blog post to swooning over each and every hat, and how they evolve throughout the series, in relation to changing trends and fashions (Downton Abbey hat timeline? Next time) but others have already carefully captured the wonder that is Downton headdress. 

The matriarchs wear their power on their heads.

There are some great blog posts capturing the Best Of in the hat department, such as this one on Anibundel: Pop Culturess. 

For more insights on royal hats and styles generally (like, in the so-called "real" non-Downton world), check out this blog Royal Hats. 

This site also has a tremendously useful "types of hats" section that I WILL NOW SET OUT TO MEMORIZE.

Since I really love hats, I thought I'd devote this post to some of my own much beloved hats. I have accumulated quite a collection, so decided to make a collage of some of my favourite hats (and hat-wearing moments):

It's worth noting that very few of these hats were, at the time, worn to achieve a secondary purpose, such as, you know, shading from the sun or providing warmth or what not. 

I'm going to try to classify the type of hat of each one (with the help of the Internet) as a couple are a bit ambiguous / hat hybrids.

Top (left to right): this burgundy beauty is a fedora; next, a green wool beret with a fun fabric flower embellishment; deerstalker! (aka Sherlock Holmes); finally, a big purple velor masterpiece that can only be called a Mad Hatter hat (depicted here in a Mad Hatter costume.

Middle (left to right): This leopard concoction is best classified as a cloche although it is tricky. Many cloches have a bib or lip and flare out/ extend further over the ears; this straw hat is sort of like a porkpie meets a boater - I have both a true boater and a true porkpie and this is something in between. One resource suggested is could be a "bumper"; oh one of my favourites - I purchased this hat at a vintage sale in London, England (la di da!) 

*To the Royal Hats glossary* - well, I can't find anything to quite capture what this is. Is is definitely a fascinator, but also a bit more than, as it has a quite substantial actual hat part; this wide brim felt hat has similarities with the fedora but is rounder and stiffer. Maybe a felt Panama?

Bottom (left to right): Panama hat; beret; plaid patrol hat (think Castro); finally, a straw porkpie.

Here's another of my favourite (and most special) hats I own not included above:

I don't know why I'm not wearing it everyday, really.

This is a Tyrolean or Alpine hat - I call it my Bavarian mountain hat. I bought it in Munich, Germany in 2008.

Finally, here's a mortarboard - I actually love these. Maybe that's why I've been in university for nine years.

It's really important to match your purse to your mortarboard.

Wishlist: top hat with lace veil, as shown on Downton here:

Monday, November 3, 2014

"I Don't Believe in Go-Together": Fashion Philosophy

This blog isn't just for outfits of the day and the like. At Fickle Frippery, I'm going to talk about fashion philosophy from time to time. Yes, that's a thing!

In style discourse, there's this myth that certain things go together and certain things do not and that these rules are static and fixed. I don't believe that.

I definitely think some things "go" really well together and some things less so but these judgements aren't based on colours and patterns. Rather, for me, it's an assessment made on a case by case basis and is dependent on many factors, including shoes, accessories, and where I'm going to be wearing any given outfit.

I love putting outfits together based on colours that I think look great together (pink and black, purple and yellow, green and pink, navy and red...I pretty much think every shade of every colour has several great colours to pair with) but I'll also try any colour combination.

Black, white, and orange aren't just for Hallowe'en. See below a surprisingly summery outfit consisting of these colours (including two different colours on the orange spectrum):

I've also worn red and pink not on Valentine's Day, and have done some nice pairings of brown and black.

More so than colour, people can feel very limited by patterns. Oh how I love patterns: leopard, plaid, polka dot, stripes, floral, argyle, houndstooth, paisley, the list goes on. A patterned piece can really enliven a solid, and colour blocking is great, but I also enjoy pairing two (or more!) patterns. This is especially easy to do if one pattern has a limited colour palette (such as black and white).

Today's outfit features a black with white polka dot skirt plus a white lace tank top and a teal and tan patterned blazer. I don't know precisely what the pattern is but I like it. The best description I can think of is "honeycomb."

Paired with black tights, black shoes and simple jewellery, this outfit wasn't all that bold after all. In other words, wearing different patterns together is awesome and opens up all kinds of new and fun possibilities. It doesn't always have to be with the main articles of clothing either - perhaps try a patterned skirt with a differently patterned purse or scarf. Or wear solids for the main outfit and accessorize with patterns.

It's always useful to rethink assumptions about what "goes together."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Patterns and Textures in Black and White

While colour is a pretty big organizing principle of my wardrobe, sometimes I like to experiment with a limited palette or, specifically, monochromatic or dichromatic looks. Today's outfit was all black and white (solids and patterns) and focused on texture.

The main piece: a black and white cotton-nylon skirt with a black and white (and gold sparkly thread) lace-like exterior over a cotton lining with a velvet-like top and bottom trim. The brand is Kimchi & Blue and I bought it at a vintage shop or friperie (one of the inspirations for this blog's title) called Local 23 on Bernard Street West in Montreal.

The best part about this flared skirt is the pattern --- the closest known pattern that it resembles is damask. This pattern on lace with the subtle hint of gold sheen is anchored by the thick, plush trim.

I paired this skirt with a black (lace-trimmed) tank top with a white cardigan on top. The cardigan has lace rosettes (also with a hint of sparkly thread) for embellishment. Together, it extends the texture throughout the outfit, top and bottom.

For an accessory, still keeping with the black + white + pattern theme, I wore this wooden painted necklace I bought at a Himalayan artisan (craft, textile, jewellery) shop in Vancouver.

For a handbag, I introduced one additional colour (brown leather) but kept with the black + white + pattern accent.

In addition to some basic black tights, I finished off the outfit with some black and white peep-toe sneaker wedges with a similar pattern as the skirt and a rosette embellishment to match the cardigan.

I failed hard at getting a photo of the complete outfit but this post is all about the individual, carefully chosen pieces that make the whole.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rediscovery: Sneaker Stilettos

You may call me a shoe hoarder --- I'd say I'm always planning for a future self that may want to wear a certain pair of shoes again. While I've definitely gotten better at the sweet sorrow of culling my closet, it's wonderful when you didn't give something away and rediscover it years later.

Circa 2004 I purchased a pair of boots which can only be described as sneaker stilettos: laces, velcro, and a sneaker-like toe with a stiletto heel. I got them at Walmart for about 20 or 30 bucks. I got a lot of wear out of them at the end of high school and beyond. I even had them reheeled a couple of times - I probably spent more having them maintained than I did to buy them in the first place. But they were so funky and versatile, it seemed worth it.

Then, in the years that followed, they lay dormant like the One Ring at the bottom of the river Anduin. I've been out of my family home for over six years, I've lived in six different apartments spanning two provinces since then. Needless to say, things get forgotten about and overlooked. Somehow, the sneaker stilettos persisted. Last week, I retrieved them from my old closet at my mom's and wore them again.

With a low heel and a seriously decent grip on the sole, they're pretty awesome and truly comfortable. Moral of the story? Don't throw anything out ;)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preferred Pairing: Oxfords and Trouser Socks

First of all, it's fun to say "trouser socks." I don't often wear "trousers," but should I ever, I have a vast collection of appropriate socks. I especially love sheer and polka dot ones of various colours.

Here are my favourite Oxfords (two tone, purchased at H&M in Montreal in 2011 - they've been reheeled once already but still going strong three years later!) paired with my favourite polka dot trouser socks. Sometimes I wear them pulled all the way up, and sometimes cuffed / folded.

Same shoes, this time with cuffed pale green polka dot trouser socks. I like to fold them down so the scalloped edge looks like a ruffle.

Here's one of my favourite looks - the same white with black polka dot socks pulled up (they get a lot of wear) with a pair of plain black Oxfords. Cookie Monster is an obvious bonus accessory to any outfit.

Considering I would have said "ew, gross!" to ruffled socks as a young girl, it's funny that now I can't get enough of them. I have lace ruffle trimmed socks in white, black, and grey and white. They're also great with Oxfords and flats.

As if these pink suede Oxfords weren't already great (and they were) I decided to take my basic sewing and adorning skills to make them that much better. I bought a roll of leopard print (see previous blog post) ribbon, sewed them into bows, and attached them to the laces of the shoe. 

It is a simple and inexpensive way to make a pair of shoes that much more unique and eye catching!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ode to Leopard Print

It seems appropriate to launch my new blog with a declaration of my love of animal prints.

This photo is from a time, earlier this year, when I started packing for a trip and soon took stock of my choices.

The thing I love the most about animal print is that it has a vexed reputation - animal print is often characterized as tacky and is also, somehow, seen as sexualized. The same dress that is mild and unobtrusive in baby blue takes on a different persona in any bold pattern, leopard print especially. I like to challenge this perception, and love incorporating animal print into "business casual" outfits.

One of my big fashion sticking points is how "professional" is conceived.

I'm fascinated by how patterns transform our perceptions of and reactions to garments.

I love animal print - I've always been drawn to it. The real fun when you own many different animal print pieces is realizing you need to find some non-patterned clothing to offset it - I will match leopards, to a point.

I also lover tiger and zebra prints. I don't discriminate.

Obviously, my love of animal print extends to adorable extremes. Peek-a-boo tiger socks!