Wednesday, January 11, 2012

is it...

...wrong that i bought David a flannel shirt just so i could hug flannel?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

How I Figured Out What Dolce & Gabbana Was, and Other Fashion-Related Things

My journey into being a fashion junkie started very slowly. The boat barely left the harbor until I was in my later 20's. But there are several moments in my short fashion-loving life that are momentous, and got me to where I currently am.

When I was about 14, I wore a black sweater with a long corduroy skirt to church. I thought I looked sophisticated and put together. (Although now I'm not entirely sure why I did - I think I also wore faux suede clogs with this outfit.) An acquaintance's simple question, "Are you feeling okay?" seemed kind enough, but what came next changed my view of fashion for the next 6 years. I told her I was feeling great. She said, "Oh, because you look a little sick. Maybe it's because you're wearing black." And that did it. Besides having to sit through the entire church service feeling self-conscious and green, the fashion corner of my fragile little tweenage heart was slightly crushed that day. Convinced that I turned a deep shade of seasick green anytime I so much as looked at black, I proceeded to adopt brown as my neutral color of choice, with the occasional navy thrown in. (In later years, I ditched the boring brown and gravitated more toward gray, and my love for this color has remained to this day.) But it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized almost everyone around me, despite their skin tone and hair color, could pull off black. I had been listening to that tween friend's fashion advice in my head for too long. So I forayed into the forbidden, purchased a simple black cardigan, and things have been better since.

I was involved in community theater during those same formative years. The costumes were always make-do-with-what-you-can-find sort of get ups. For one character, I ended up wearing brown knee socks and black "leprechaun shoes" as my siblings lovingly called them. (These shoes were what I had deemed the height of fashion for a tween that year - the arguments I had with my mother over wearing them with dresses instead of a nice pair of black pumps are now legendary.) I knew the brown socks with black shoes wasn't an ideal combination, but I was wearing a long skirt and I didn't think the audience would notice. But a cast member did. The cool high-school girl who played my older sister in the show, with her gorgeous freckles and cigarette smoke-laden breath caught a glimpse of my socks and shoes one night between acts, and said to me, "Black and brown - that's a big fashion no-no." Up until that time, I hadn't realized that fashion no-nos were that serious. I knew that jean jumpers, sneakers with dresses, suspenders, and no white after Labor Day were typical fashion no-nos, but brown socks with black shoes as a costume? That was nuanced. That was advanced. I took this to heart.

When I reached high school, I realized that the fashion ante had been upped. No longer could I get away with just any brand of tennis shoes. They had to be Adidas, and they had to have stripes on the side. Unfortunately, my baby-sitting money was going toward my savings account so I could go to college and buy a car, leaving me with little discretionary income. The extra spending money I had was going toward contact lenses, so I could ditch my geeky glasses - this was non-negotiable. So Adidas sneakers remained elusive. I tried to do my best to fit in. When everyone was wearing college logo hoodies, I tried to substitute with a big gray crew sweatshirt I found for pennies at Wal-Mart. The attempt was unsuccessful, if you couldn't guess. When flares were really in, I again canvassed Wal-Mart in an attempt to find the cheapest pair I could. This "re-creating on the cheap" is an ability that has been honed and developed over the years and serves me well now, but it was pretty touch-and-go in those early years.

Fast forward to late high school. Some cool friends took me under their wing, and introduced me to American Eagle and Old Navy. If it weren't for them, I probably would've been condemned to wear Wal-Mart mom jeans and 2 for $10 ribbed long sleeve tees from Kohls for the rest of my life. They still tease me about it to this day. In my gratefulness, I don't mind. I had hit the motherlode. Sure, I could only afford the sale rack, but finding these stores was like cracking some kind of style code I'd been working at since freshman year. THIS is where all my friends were getting those jeans with the little winged embroidery stitched on the back pocket! (Of course i didn't ask them; I didn't want to seem like I was the ignorant walking fashion faux pas that I was.) I remember walking into Old Navy and seeing and smelling that rainbow wall of flip flops for the first time. High on the scent of rubber, I could barely contain my excitement at the adventures in color that awaited me. Luckily, my characteristic indecision prevented me from going too crazy on the color combos, so I was unwittingly spared from looking like I was shopping for a 7th grade beach trip.

American Eagle and Old Navy got me on the straight and narrow, but there were trials and tribulations over the years. I stuck closely to what I saw other people wearing as I learned about what I liked and what I could afford. I left Wal-Mart behind me and explored the mall, casting my net wider and wider, discovering other stores. I went through phases. I dressed like a high-schooler into my early 20's. But, thanks to the internet (did you know you can Google how to pronounce 'Louboutin'?), the Disney Channel (don't mock; I'm baring my soul here), a dose of The Devil Wears Prada and shows like Project Runway, I began to love fashion. I don't claim to know what I'm talking about: my fashion "teachers" aren't necessarily reputable sources, I don't own anything high-end, I didn't go to Parsons, and there are days I still look like a Wal-Mart ragamuffin. Maybe we can safely call it a hobby?

But it's been a fun ride so far. I've learned to re-create looks I like on the cheap, try new styles, build a wardrobe that works together, and set parameters for myself (neon jeans? Yeah, no). Some might call me a wannabe, which in my mind translates to "a weak-minded individual who gives into fads and doesn't know what they like." But i know what I like - I just like a lot things, and I'm constantly looking for new things to try. If I see something styled in a way I like, I'll try it. I don't want to be tied down to one kind of style (although, like everyone, I have things that I gravitate towards, always... like gray tee shirts). Fashion is a kind of art - a pursuit of beauty, a scrapbook that you wear, a way to play around with colors, textures, and patterns that doesn't involve stretching canvas over a wooden frame. I have far to go, but I'm loving it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Collage Years

I learned at a young age that I was no good at drawing. Sure, as a kid I prolifically drew my little heart out in scribbles, doodles, and girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, but I never created great masterpieces. The perspective was off. The eyes weren’t right. The horses looked like cows, the cows looked like UFOs.

During my teenage years, I began making cards. I grew up making birthday cards for family members using stencils and stickers (which provided a crutch to my poor drawing skills) but at age 14, I was ready to up the ante a bit. It started slowly – I used old photographs and greeting cards, catalog clippings, some stickers, and my trusty gel pens to create one-of-a-kind collaged notecards. They were basic, but different, and the design always contained at least one word that denoted the type of card it was... so I called my makeshift business One Word Prints.

I had fun putting pieces together and creating themes, and began to fill a shoebox with scraps and mementos to have on hand for future art, and I took several art classes. As my love for collage grew over the years, so did the size of my projects. I made framed prints, journals, mini 'scrapbooks' for friends, and of course, cards. Which pretty much brings us to present day. I don’t claim to be an expert in the field, but I know what looks right to me, what colors work together, and what makes me happy.

And my designs are just that – a mixture of associations, colors, and themes, inspired by my world, my experiences, and the things I find beautiful. But creating a beautiful, quirky, and unique product is just part of it. Authenticity is also a very important consideration as I make artistic choices. I want the materials I use to echo real life and to be pulled from real life, which is why I don’t subscribe to the “scrapbook” culture of pre-cut pieces, pre-printed papers, or cheesy stickers.

Each scrap I choose for a piece has been carefully collected, torn, and placed, so you can be certain that any collage of mine that you admire or collect has been handmade with love & care.