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Friday Follies: Tipping Points!

LilyA certain style ennui is rising, like sea levels. Along with several local boutiques closing, Wellington Fashion Week was cancelled a week before it was supposed to open. We’ve only had it since 2011 and the event was having financial problems in 2012.

Grumbling about failure to support local design overlooks The Neurological Pleasures of Fast Fashion. Which is part of why everyone is so mad that Target ran out of their Lilly Pulitzer spin-off line in something like an hour.

Why Are So Many Dresses Sleeveless? Answer: because sleeves are hard! Comments thread outrage gold here.

How Much It Actually Costs To Look Like You’re Not Trying – She just woke up like that. And had a shocking beauty budget.

How To Optimize Your Flesh Prison – Every style blog post you’ve ever read, run through a post-post-postmodern blender. Between this and our style guide from Fandangle you are now set for style advice until the end of time.

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Unpardonable Chartreuse

“You needn't wear 'greenery-yallery' gowns, you know." said George, laughing; "that's the one unpardonable thing.”

“You needn’t wear ‘greenery-yallery’ gowns, you know.” said George, laughing; “that’s the one unpardonable thing.” -From Sir George Tressady, by Mrs. Humphrey Ward. Me, in a “greenery-yallery” Edwardian gown by The Dreamstress.

There’s a color that, like a silvereye bird – or is it a waxeye? – flits in and out of style without anyone agreeing on what to call it. It meanders around the overlap between yellow and green. Citron, celery, lime, acid yellow, neon green, ochre – let us call it chartreuse. Now that winter is coming, I crave it for my winter wardrobe.

It’s tactfully described, even in acknowledgements of its fashion moment, as “one of the most difficult colors.” The other day, a friend looked at two purses sitting on my sofa, and said, “I like your bag! Um, NOT the lime green one…” Feel free to hate chartreuse, because that leaves more for me. I find it a great vivid/neon to add to a New Zealand wardrobe, a fine high note against all the black, grey, and dark tones. Like hot orange, it plays off against the colors found in nature in New Zealand. And, like hot orange as chronicled by The Dreamstress, it has a fascinating history.

Chartreuse’s last major moment was its association with the British Aesthetic movement and the intellectual-yet-seamy side of the late Victorian period (1870-1900). Both the movement and the color were famously mocked as “greenery-yallery.” The notorious Yellow Book with Aubrey Beardsley’s then-radical illustrations, the movement’s fondness for sunflowers, and the yellow-backed trashy novels of the period linked the colors yellow and greenish-yellow to raffishness and intellectual pretension. The blog Babylon Baroque has a great entry about this alone, including this immortal snippet from Gilbert and Sullivan:

“A pallid and thin young man

A haggard and lank young man

A greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery, Foot-in-the-grave young man!”

Looks like a great night in!

Giving chartreuse its bad name: The Yellow Book, illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, a bottle of Charteuse liqueur, and a scandalous “yellow-backed novel.”

Chartreuse returned nearly a hundred years later, as a a fine avocado line running through the 60s and 70s, especially in the home – in the 1970s yellow-green was seen as uniting nature and futurism. And, just as “greenery-yallery” was soon mocked in the 1890s, avocado, like macrame, soon became a byword for the era’s aesethetic extremes.

Chartreuse kitchen from the August 1975 issue of Australian Homes and Gardens.

Chartreuse kitchen from the August 1975 issue of Australian Homes and Gardens.

Chartreuse-may-2013

Cover of Vogue, May 2013. Not only is this the most difficult shade of chartreuse to wear, but the dress itself was forwarded to me as a “you’ll like this” image several months earlier.

Vivid greens were part of the fad for neon in the 1980s, but the color was dropped like uranium in the 90s. Yellow tiptoed back into fashion in the late 2000s, often paired with gray, and chartreuse followed soon after. Primary, Big Bird yellow remains hot, but it’s difficult to wear – even for these models. And, difficult as chartreuse is, it is more forgiving than that crayon-box yellow.

The past two summers in the Northern hemisphere were as chartreuse as an Aesthetic salon in 1893. Especially in Philadelphia, I saw it adding punch to black and white ensembles. Here in New Zealand, I like to style it just like Sirocco the kakapo does; with darks and neutrals, and a well-defined beak – I mean, mouth. For a cheerful and different pin-up or Scandinavian take, chartreuse plays beautifully with red and orange, too.

As much as I love chartreuse, I’ll put it down if I’m tired or having a complexion-challenged day. I wouldn’t have to do that if I had a delicious caramel or coffee complexion.

Style chartreuse as Sirocco the kakapo parrot does: with neutrals like black, grey, beige.

Style chartreuse as Sirocco the kakapo parrot does: with neutrals and with either a defined lip or eye. Sirocco goes for the eye.

Here are some of the ways I wear chartreuse:

  • Chartreuse top and gray jeans or trousers.
  • Chartreuse scarf- mine is soft and translucent, reducing the color intensity slightly.
  • Enameled chartreuse pendant to liven up black and cobalt.
  • Chartreuse eyeshadow as a dash of color with my hazel eyes.
  • Chartreuse paired with tomato red for a special occasion!
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Congratulations – Dirty Martini Ticket Winner!

Miss Dirty Martini, photographed enjoying the NYC nightlife by David Shankbone, reused via Creative Commons.

Miss Dirty Martini, photographed enjoying the NYC nightlife by David Shankbone, reused via Creative Commons.

Thank you to all our commentors here…our ticket draw winner is JEPHA! A reminder that tickets for the main event are on sale at Eventfinder and that you can also sign up for a meet and greet or one-on-one classes.

Now, another important question: what are you going to wear to the cabaret? It’s been a while since I got the camera out for a burlesque-attendee style blog post, so I’ll bring it along to Cabaret Royale to chronicle how gorgeous we all are. For some sartorial inspiration check out:

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Ticket Giveaway: Dirty Martini in Wellington, NZ!!!

IMG_17959Burlesque legend Dirty Martini will be performing in Wellington on April 26th. Based in New York, Dirty Martini is a voluptuous vision, a talented artist, and the journey of burlesque wrapped up in one amazing woman. She has been Miss Exotic World 2004 – shared the stage with Dita von Teese in Strip Strip Hooray – and modeled for Karl Lagerfield and Vogue magazine. Three great interviews with her: Time Out New York and Citizen Brooklyn and 21st Century Burlesque.

Dirty Martini’s main performance in Auckland is sold out. But she is participating in several events in Wellington: a brunch meet and greet, burlesque classes, and the Cabaret Royale on the 26th. And I have two tickets to Cabaret Royale to give away!

To be in to win, comment below with why Dirty Martini inspires you. You need to be in Wellington, NZ on the night of the show, April 26th, to be eligible to win. Winner will be chosen at noon by random selection on Monday the 13th NZ time!

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Wellington Style Icon: Fandangle Fabulus

FandangleTo start April out right, I’ve returned to my “Making It Happen” series – and I’ve scored an interview with another of Wellington’s style icons. Someone global, yet local, who shows us all the power of creativity, self-determination, and being body positive!

I first met this charmer on Cuba Street, of course, at Fidel’s Cafe. A fedora at a rakish angle over crimson hair caught my eye, along with the glimmer of sequins. This was someone I had to meet. Turns out this unique individual, who I was repeatedly assured was from Paris, was from a tribe associated with New Zealand’s festival of festivals, our Kiwiburn. Not only is Fandangle’s style advice popular online, but Fandangle was a noted presence at the Kiwiburn free clothesline this year, even appearing in the Wanganui Chronicle. With festival style hotter than ever, I knew I had to bring you some style advice from the source. Fandangle came to my house for an intimate tête-à-tête, interview and styling session. Without further ado…Fandangle Fabulus.

Hi Fandangle!

HULLO SADEE! I MUS SAY YOO LOOK LUVLY. BUT YOO CAN LOOK BETTER AND I SHOW YOO HOW IN MAKOVER TOODAY. OF CORSE YOO CAN NEVVER LOOK AS GOOD AS MONSTER BUT WEE SEE WAT WEE CAN DOO.

Oh wow, thank you so much! I do feel very unglamorous compared to you. But to start …how does a young monster become a style icon?

WELL YOO NO IT NOT EESY. PEEPL SAY “WOW FANDANGLE YOO SUCH A NATRAL AT FASHUN” BUT DEY NOT NO HOW MUCH WORK IT IS TO BEE DIS GOOD. I PUT CLOTHS ON AND OFF A LOT. LIKE EVRY DAY I SPEND 8 OR 9 HOURS PUTTING CLOTHS ON AND OFF. JUS SO I CAN STAY FITT FOR FASHUN. MOST PEEPL NOT REELISE DAT WAT IT TAKE OR MAYBEE DEY JUS LAZY. DEY WONDER WY DEY NOT SO FASHNABUL BUT IT COS DEY NOT PREEPARED TO WORK HARD.

 Tell us about you and Paris.

OMG I LUV PAREE AND PAREE LUV MEE! WOW I SUCH A POET!!!!

I ONLEE RECENTLEE MOV TO LITTUL NEW ZEELAND FROM PAREE AND IT A BIT WEERD FINGS SO DIFFERENT HEER. LIKE IN PAREE PEEPL STAY STILL A LOT AND NOT WEER CLOTHS EXCEPT IN FASHUN WEEK. HEER AR PIKSHURS OF SOM PEEPL IN PAREE JUST BEEING STILL AND NOT WEERING CLOTHS:
NakedinparisPEEPL IN LITTUL NEW ZEELAND TRY TO DO DAT TOO BUT I FINK DEY NOT QWITE UNNERSTAND:
5 NZI MISS SO MANNY GRATE FINGS FROM PAREE. LIKE BEEING GEST OF ONUR AT PARIS FASHUN WEEK. DIS MEE SOOPERVISING IN 2013:
-AND I USED TO CLIME I-FELL TOWER EVRY DAY (IT CALLED DAT COS LOTS PEEPL FALL OFF AND IT FUN TO WATCH) AND I MISS TAJ MAHAL AND STONHENGE TOO.

 Have you got a favorite item of clothing?

OMG WAT?????? I LUV ALL CLOTHS!!!!!!!! WELL OK MAYBEE MY FAVRIT CLOTHS AT MOMENT IS DIS WUN:
7 HATT SCRAFIT SOO VERSATIL. IT LIK HATT AND SCRAF ALL IN ONE. AND YOO CAN USE IT FOR TALE WARMER IN WINTER TOO!!!

8 TAIL WARMERI QWITE LIK YOR CLOTHS SADEE. I CAN HELP YOO WIV MAKOVER BETTER IF I TRI DEM ON …

Fandanglestyle

We paused to view the many styles of Fandangle. 50 shades of Fandangle…steampunk Fandangle…burlesque Fandangle. Fandangle’s versatility was amazing!

What’s your most recent purchase?

I NOT NO WAT YOO MEEN. PURR-CHASE … DAT SOM KIND OF CAT???

Okay then, moving on…who are YOUR style icons?

WELL I FINK EVERYWUN NEED DERE OWN STILE SO I NOTT ENCURAGE PEEPL TO COPPY. BUT DESE AR SOME PEEPL WIV GRATE FASHUN IDEERS:

theclassics

Of course – the French classics of black and white, classically deployed. Tres chic!

How do you stay so fit and oval? I believe you come from a very athletic family.

LIKE I SAY BEFOR I WORK VERRY HARD PUTTING CLOTHS ON AND OFF FOR HOURS EVRY DAY. DAT HELP MEE KEP MY FIGERR. AS WELL AS DAT I CARFUL TO EET ENUF. SOMTIMES MONSTER CAN DIET TO MUCH:
12 TOO MUCH DIETSo true! It’s all about a healthy balance. You’re very well known as an avatar of “festival style.” What are some great outfits you’ve seen at New Zealand festivals?

OMG! WELL DIS GRATE HATT I FIND AT KIWEEBURN DIS YEER:
13 stockings hattWAT I FINK WEERD THO IS HOW HOOMINS WEER HATTS AS NAPPYS. IT LOOK SO STOOPID! DIS MEE PRETENDING TO BEE HOOMIN WEERING HATT AS NAPPY. HAHAHAHA!!!!!

14 stockingsDo you have any style advice to inspire our readers?

15 BillyI ALWAYS SAY YOO HAV TO KEEP IT REEL. LIKE DIS MY FREND BILLY. HEE WEERING SHIRT WIV COOL LEPPARDS ON IT BUT IT BE MUCH BETTER IF DEY WERE REEL LEPPARDS.

SO YEA. YOO SHOOD ALL REMEMBER:

MOOR REEL = MOOR FASHNABUL!

DON’T WEER HATTS AS NAPPYS!

VoilaThank you so much, Fandangle! We’ll always have Paris!

After we wrapped up our interview Fandangle took the time to style me. Fandangle recommends a palette of black, white, silver, stripes, and crimson, and a bold hand with lipstick. I even had my hair done, and the whole ensemble was capped off by Fandangle giving me my very own monster-made hat. “HATTS ESSENSHUL!” I couldn’t agree more, especially as we enter the cooler weather.

Here I am after my “fabulus” makeover. I think we all agree: it’s a definite improvement.

For your own style tips, you can keep up with Fandangle Fabulus on Facebook. You can also see the rest of Fandangle’s family, Kiwi monsters at large Tangle, Dangle, and little cutie Mangle on YouTube and on Tumblr.

Moabook
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A Week in Whanganui: Moa Bones, Museums, and Art

Last week, I did something unusual – I spent six days in Whanganui, New Zealand. Whanganui is a pretty place, a large town/very small city traced along a shimmering river, a bit off the beaten tourist track on the west coast of New Zealand. WanganuiRiverAnd I was there to spend time volunteering at the Whanganui Regional Museum…
WHM-MuseumOutside…in their moa bone exhibit. This is not just the largest dedicated moa exhibit in the world, it is also “living storage” for the museum’s  significant moa bone collection. I was there to help process moa bones for physical and online curation, and to document the process for other volunteers. You can read more about the technical and communication aspects of this at my professional blog here.WhMu-MoaRoom   I was able to get up close and personal with the moa collection – a fascinating experience.Moalab-skull

ECwithDNAspecimenDo I look stylish? Enh, probably not. I went up to “Wangers” with a thoughtful fall capsule wardrobe in my luggage, and then the weather there decided it was going to be summer again. So I could only wear about half the clothing I had with me without broiling, and I was too wrapped up in the museum to care much. I wonder if other capsule wardrobe travelers get caught out like this.

The museum also hosts rotating art exhibits from their deep collection. This month they were opening an exhibit about retro New Zealand woodcraft by a company named Sovereign. Here are some sleek 50s and 60s pieces from the exhibit.
WhMu-retrowoodart2

WhMu-retrowoodartI timed my volunteering week to be in Whanganui for the Open Studio art festival. That meant I was in Whanganui for their first Pecha Kucha on Friday night. On Saturday, a friend and I zipped around to multiple glassblowing studios and artist exhibits. There’s lots of wonderful artwork and I will be back for the next Open Studio next year. Here’s a hasty shot of the treasures in progress at Chronicle Glass Studio:
ChronicleStudiosTo complete my “geekcation” I even found a great new pair of eyeglasses at Eyes on Victoria – turns out they have exotic French and Italian frames, along with Karen Walker’s world-famous-in-the-world NZ designed eyeglasses and sunglasses. I am really lucky to be able to take a week off of work to volunteer in a natural history collection at a museum. It was a fantastic six days, thanks to everyone who hosted me and who I visited along the way!

ECwithmoabone

After a week of volunteering (and handling other bones with care) I was allowed to hold a giant moa leg bone. SCIENCE!!!

 

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Public Service Coat-nouncement

This past week’s storms lashing the Pacific are a reminder that Winter is Coming. If you want a winter coat, time to get it.

A word about coats. Coats look best when they fit or are a bit oversized, and are recently cleaned/steamed. Here are tips on choosing a coat fit from Angie at You Look Fabulous. Coats are also not cheap – it’s nigh impossible to find quality coats secondhand in NZ – and we often don’t pull them out of our wardrobes until we really need to wear them. So, do yourself a favor and check your coats out now. If there are fit problems, you’ll have time to resell them or even arrange a swap with a friend. If there are condition problems, you’ll have a choice of replacements.

On web sites, black coats are often shown on blonde models. Why? Because…a contrast between your coat color and your hair color looks good. Personally, I love it when people wear colored or textured coats to break up the great grim blocks of commuters.

I don’t often update my main winter coat – it’s an investment I make about every 5 years. It’s a Coat Year for me. Not only are coats from overseas buying into mediocre design trends – weird, blocky or puffy, beige/grey/black things – but they are heavy to ship. Fortunately, New Zealand retailers are bringing the coat joy this year.

Kathmandu’s waterproof coats have lots of color options this year. And Max has the best coat range I’ve seen in New Zealand in years. They’ve got several assymetric zip coats, which are great for full busts, some fantastic contoured hemlines, and some Not-Black options. To help pay for an investment item like a coat, the Max stores have a layby/layaway option.

A selection of the coats from Max.

A selection of the coats from Max.

Ezibuy is having a two-day sale – March 17th and 18th- that can get you a lot of coatage for under $100, including plus options. The tweed mix one isn’t that cheap, but they’ve styled it well to work with black. And again, they have lots of Non-Black options. Even the pattern in the Sara jacquard zip coat to the right below is lighter on the eye than an all-black coat. Watch out for all-polyester coats at Ezibuy – the more polyester there is in a non-waterproof coat, the shorter its life.

coatage2

Some of the coats at Ezibuy.

I’m starting with Pinterest – it’s taken me a while to figure out the best way to use it for me – and a Winter Coat board is the perfect start. Check it out here!

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Friday Follies: All Over the Place

Busy here! Along with more house renovations, there have been online projects. In late January, I was a guest writer, with On the Restless Taniwha, for the Public Streets series at Public Books, “created by and for a transnational community of writers, artists, and activists.”

In February, I helped Wellington favorite Made on Marion Craft update their web site with a new, responsive look and feel. They are growing to provide New Zealand with hard-to-find craft and sewing supplies – if you want to sew historic or vintage garments, or to a couture level, they have the supplies you need.

The custom dress maker eShakti is expanding their less-retro clothing range into custom trousers, bohemian looks, and contemporary styles. I like the woven eShakti dresses I own, but I LOVE the cotton knit ones.

My autumn/winter wardrobe is close to complete, I just need the dull bits (socks! microcamis! a fresh rain/winter coat!) and a pair of tan or brown ankle boots. Why tan/brown boots? To go with my auburn hair – here is a great piece on “bookending” hair and shoes in style.

And, finally, a great piece on the queer Femme Renaissance and what it means to be a queer femme today.

Proud femme Madeline of the band Unstraight. Photo by Eric Hutchison, courtesy of Madeline Blum and Slate.

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Friday Follies: Clothes Outside the Square

I spent last weekend sanding window frames so my main recommendation of the week is “Don’t use 60-grit sandpaper without your gloves on.” My hands will never be the same. Here’s a glimpse into the weird world of hand models: “I say to people, don’t play with kittens, don’t smoke roll-ups, don’t change bicycle chains.”

DisneyPrints

Prints from the Mary Blair collection – Commuter and Train.

Stripping off my grit-covered work clothes, I escaped into the Fall 2015 fashion overviews online. Wow, mainstream styles for the next year are really sticking with the blocky silhouettes and gray/black/white/blue colors. The Cut’s review of Fall 2015 fashion shows helpfully includes color palettes. I’ll link here to their J. Crew overview and you can use their navigation to review other shows. At least if you get a rectangular coat in a sale from overseas, you’ll get two years of wear out of it.

At the opposite end of the clothing spectrum, Pinup Girl Clothing has a fascinating new collection based on the work of mid-century Disney animator and artist Mary Blair. I adore the jolie-laide Commuter skirt. PUG, as they are affectionately known, is also pointing us towards their work wear. Which I recommend if you don’t want to dress like a woolen rectangle.

If you want a sartorial middle ground, I just had some pretty sweet customer service from Boden. Praise them with great praise! NZers, order from the UK for the greatest variety, be patient when waiting for the mail, and check out their winter sale.

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Friday Follies: Fresh Summer Fixes

Amaranth, embodying the redheaded henna ideal (via Creative Commons).

Amaranth, embodying the redheaded henna ideal (via Creative Commons).

High summer is fading into late summer, and something about a really good summer is inspiring many of us to a style refresh. Last year in Wellington, spring-cool-and-rainy segued into autumn-cool-and-rainy, leaving us trapped in the same clothes for months – I for one was in a rut. This year, I was digging out the summer frocks and the sunhats, and me and my friends were playing around with thrift store visits, private swaps, and you’d-look-great-in-this link exchanges.

Amidst the play, the most common style refrain I heard was: “This year, I have to dress more professionally.” The Cut had a series recently, “Uniforms that Work“, which is great for a professional refresh.

This was soon followed by, “And I have to get a grip on makeup.” Alison at Wardrobe Oxygen has done a superb post on her beauty routine: her result is subtly polished.  If you want to dive in the deep end, check out the New Zealand based blog Makeup Obsessives. Fantastic tutorials and reviews, focusing on products available here in NZ, and the team there really has fun – I laughed through these posts.

For those of us who have loved our makeup for a long time, not only can you melt lipstick ends down to get more bang for your beauty buck (and extend the life of beloved colors), but you can find little empty makeup jars at Japan City in Wellington and Lower Hutt, and in the chain Storage Box. Japan City is also my source for spoolie brushes and Japanese body scrub cloths.

Has your hennaed hair become too dark over time? You can lighten it a touch, back to coppery shades, if you’re willing to be slow and careful with Sun-In or Schwarzkopf Nordic Blonde lightening spray. These contain hydrogen peroxide solutions. Detailed instructions (and WARNINGS) are here. I did one round of this process and was delighted with the color results, though I did have to condition my way through a week of odd hair texture.