Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekend Casual

This was a casual weekend outfit, created for a day of going to the farmer's market and later running errands down on the peninsula. As it turned out, this was the first day of our mini heat wave, so I quickly shed both the scarf and the cardigan, leaving just the tank top underneath.

The tank top, by the way, is just a basic one, but I LOVE it. It's nice and soft, very stretchy, with no annoying shelf bra built in and an extra long length, which means it more than covers my midriff when I have on low rise jeans. The best part? It cost $2.80, and is still available in multiple colors at Forever 21.

Scarf: Duke et Duchesse
Tank: F21
Cardigan: All Saints
Jeans: Lucky
Boots: Morgan, vintage

Bonus adorable dog photo: Georgie keeping watch over her domain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

WTF, Portugal?

I thought today we should have some music to accompany the outfit post. I'm sure that lately it must seem like I've suddenly got it into my head to post a bunch of music, but the fact is that I've had these ideas rolling around in my head for quite awhile and have only been motivated to actually write them down recently. Sometimes posts need time to percolate before they actually make it into print.

First I thought I'd share a track I absolutely love, called IlusiĆ³n; it opens with Brazilian singer Marisa Monte's smooth, throaty voice pouring out like warm honey. When Mexican artist Julieta Venegas joins the duet, it's like someone uncorked a bottle of sunshine. And when these two voices come together to harmonize, it's pure magic. What I find notable about this song is how each singer's voice is so perfectly suited to her native language. Mexican Spanish has bright, lively tones that are a perfect match for Julieta's sweet-spicy voice, while Marisa's sultry purr is the ideal vehicle for that most mysterious of languages, Portuguese.

Despite being fairly proficient at picking up bits and pieces of languages, I find Portuguese to be positively impenetrable. The problem is that the written language bears enough similarity to both Spanish and French to be tantalizingly familiar, and yet the pronunciation doesn't make a lick of sense in either. The minute someone opens their mouth to speak Portuguese, it's like the entire Arabic alphabet has been rearranged into some sort of secret code in which all the letters and their corresponding sounds have been shuffled around at random. Even Stephen Maturin remarked, "No man born of woman has ever understood spoken Portuguese." Seriously, WTF Portugal; why'd you invent a language that no one but natives can understand? It's so you can talk about us behind our backs, isn't it??

Yeah, go right ahead. I dare ya.

Ahem. Since we're on the subject of Portuguese-speaking artists, I should also mention that Laura and I recently went to see Seu Jorge and Almaz in concert, and what an amazing show that was. Seu Jorge is mainly known in the US for his Portuguese covers of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album, which he recorded for the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. But his music covers a broad range of influences, and incorporates a very modern mix of funk, soul, and even a little psychedelia with more traditional Brazilian samba sounds. One of my favorite tracks from his latest record is called Pai Joao, to which tune I've been walking around singing nonsense lyrics ever since seeing the show (because clearly I'm never going to be able to make out what the fuck he's actually saying).

Seu Jorge grew up in the favela of Rio de Janeiro, and his melancholy, gravelly voice conveys all the sadness and hardship of that background (he also appeared in the movie City of God, which is set in the favela). But there's also a lot of sweetness there too, which gives his music a depth you can really sink into. It's so good, I can even forgive him for singing mostly in Portuguese, and for having a name I can't ever hope to pronounce.

Outfit details:
Shirt: J. Crew, thrifted
Vest: Forever 21
Pants: Marlowe
Boots: Bronx
Handbag: Monserat de Lucca (via Gilt)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Belly Dancing

This was an outfit that went straight from work to going out; it was Laura's birthday last week and we double-dated at Marrakesh, a Moroccan restaurant complete with belly dancers. Laura and I were even persuaded to go up and join in for one song, and the outfit proved to be plenty comfy for a little belly dancing. Which, by the way, is a lot more difficult than it looks.

Laura's birthday having passed means that my own is just around the corner. But every year I make the most of these few weeks of difference in age to give Laura all kinds of grief about how old she is, in the form of a birthday poem. I've been doing this since Laura turned 22, mind you. And every year it gets more and more difficult, because really there are only so many ways to tell someone they're old.

I've rhymed "superannuated" before, I've discussed how Laura baffles scientists because her bones are too old to carbon date, I've placed her back in ancient times on the banks of the Tigris River, drinking mead from an earthen jar and learning to read in hieroglyphics. I've thrown in references to Depends, a walker, pushing up daisies, false teeth, the
whole nine yards. I've talked about how her lifetime is known to geologists as the "Laurassic Era." And this year I described how, being so old as to predate any modern form of transportation, she arrived in North America on foot via the Bering Strait land bridge. It's getting tough, I tell ya. How I'm going to keep this up for another 40 or so years I really can't tell.

Dress: All Saints
Jacket: thrifted
Necklace: Manu Lizarralde
Belt: thrifted
Skirt: a gift from Mom
Boots: Modern Vintage

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Over and Under

Clearly with all the layers and tights I've got going on in this outfit, this was worn before our little heat wave began (which, by the way, is already pretty much over). This is the first time I've worn this yellow tie; I think I bought it more than a year ago but somehow I just hadn't yet found the right outfit for it until now.

This is another of the new vests I bought recently from Forever 21. My original idea for this vest was to wear it with the off-white dress I posted yesterday, but it's so narrow at the top that it really needs to be paired with something that has sleeves. I liked the effect of the black layers mingled with the gray; because there are black layers over as well as under the dress, it has sort of an optical illusion effect, as if you can't tell which pieces are separate and which are one. If you look carefully at the hem, you'll see that I also had my black and white polka dot skirt on under the dress.

The "belt" is just a wide piece of grosgrain ribbon, which I added in order to emphasize my waist. 

Dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Tie, skirt: thrifted
Vest: F21
Shirt: H&M
Tights: MP (via Sock Dreams)
Shoes: Tsubo

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Playa Hair

Okay, so the new hair isn't really radical so much as it's just very different. I had several reasons for going this route, most of them having to do with the upcoming trip to Burning Man. For one thing the desert, with its blazing sun, dry air, and ubiquitous talc-like dust, is hard on hair color, and since red is the most delicate of the colors it definitely had to go. More importantly I'll be without my hairdryer out there, and my hair without a hairdryer is about as limp and lifeless as a soggy dishrag, and about as attractive. But bleaching my hair gives it stiffness and texture, so my brilliant hairdresser Michele created this mixture of colors by bleaching big sections of hair on the top and leaving small strands of the previous color mixed throughout, and then darkening the layers underneath for contrast. Because of previous color treatments, the bleached strands have sort of an ombre effect, with the roots being very blonde and darkening to more of a caramel color on the part of the hair shaft that's already been dyed several times. This, my friends, is playa hair.

I recently decided that I absolutely love these loose, open jersey vests I've been seeing all over. So much so that I went and ordered FOUR of them. This wasn't a huge splurge, mind you; this striped vest set me back just $13.80. To me pieces like this are way too simple to spend more than about 20 bucks on. That's why, although I've seen some cute ones on Gilt and similar sites, I haven't really been tempted to buy until I found this and the others at Forever 21. None of them was more than $15.

These little vests are perfect for warmer climates, because they're lightweight and cool while still adding visual interest to an outfit. And as luck would have it, San Francisco suddenly and without warning turned into one of those climates. Last week it was cold and foggy, barely getting into the 60's in the daytime, and then BAM! NINETY degrees the last couple days.

Now people in places like Houston or Phoenix are probably going, "90 degrees, big fucking deal!" But I assure you that this is really extreme for the city. The other night I went out to meet Laura for a show (Crowded House at the Warfield) and both of us showed up hauling sweaters along, as you do. It was so warm we had both considered leaving them at home, but then of course you do that and later find yourself freezing your ass off like a tourist. And yet there we were, leaving the theater around 11 pm with those sweaters still in tow and not on our bodies. San Francisco weather, I will never fully understand you.

Vest: Forever 21
Dress: Lady Language
Boots: All Black

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hemmed In

This is the last you're going to see of this hair color for awhile; at the end of the day I when wore this outfit I emailed my group saying that I was leaving early and was, "off to do something radical to my hair." You'll see just how 'radical' I got tomorrow.

This dress was another hemming project that I completed last weekend. As much as I love this dress I was never quite happy with the length, and I wanted the option to layer it and add some contrast at the hem. Over the weekend I had a couple of other mending projects, which got me inspired to dig through my wardrobe and see if there was anything I could spruce up with some simple alterations. The skirt I posted yesterday was one, and this dress was another. If you look closely you can see that I hemmed the dress using a contrasting thread (navy blue) in a heavy, decorative stitch. This made the hem look a little more interesting, with the added benefit that the heavy stitch hid any little mistakes in the sewing. Keeping a perfectly straight sewn line, especially on a stretchy fabric like this one, is not one of my strengths.

Dress, belt: Red Dress Shoppe 
Tulle skirt: Noa Noa
Shoes: John Fluevog

Monday, August 23, 2010

Skirting the Issue

Sal gave me this beautiful skirt when Mark and I were out there visiting last month. Upon bringing it home I promptly tried it out and found it surprisingly difficult to work with, so I put it back in the closet and thought about it some more. Finally it dawned on me that the length wasn't quite right; you see the skirt originally had a third tier of ruffles, which made it hit me mid-calf. It wasn't even so much the length that was the issue, but the fact that there was such an expanse of the bright teal blue that it was difficult to balance it out with the top half of the outfit.

Altering the skirt was easy; I simply snipped off the bottom ruffle (which I saved for future use) and hemmed the lining underneath, which kept the sheer second layer lined. My handiwork didn't even have to be perfect since the hem is hidden beneath the ruffle above it. The finished product was MUCH easier to work with, and I threw together this combination with almost no effort.

See how the uppermost seam and the ruffles of the skirt are curved up in the middle and down towards the sides? This emphasizes the curve of the hips, which is just perfect for my columnar figure. Note however that I made sure to wear a top that widens my narrow shoulders, or else the skirt might have thrown me out of proportion. Because of the skirt's ruffles and eye-catching color, the eye is naturally going to be drawn to the hips and thighs in an outfit like this one, so I also created balance by wearing a top that had some of that same bright color in it.

Top: Max Studio
Vest: A. Byer
Belt: thrifted
Skirt: Banana Republic
Boots: Bronx

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Cut Down Trees, I Wear High Heels

OK, here it is: the fourth installment in the Wear-These-Shorts-To-Death series. Making their debut is this wonderful pair of vintage suspenders that I bought 2 years ago for a Burning Man outfit and haven't worn since, mainly because I don't have too many (ok, zero) pairs of pants with the extra buttons for suspenders. So for this outfit I grabbed some black buttons, sewed them onto the shorts, and voila! My outfit idea became a reality. I fussed with the suspenders both up and down, and finally decided that for this outfit they looked better down.

This top looks really cute tied at the neck, but for this outfit I preferred the relaxed look of leaving the ties hanging loose. I also tried this outfit with a number of different pairs of boots, but they all pushed the ensemble much too far into lumberjack-land for my liking. However, for the rest of the day I was humming Monty Python's Lumberjack Song to myself.

Shirt: a gift from Sal
Shorts: White House Black Market
Suspenders: thrifted
Socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: Cydwoq

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting Away With it

Yeah, leather pants in August; it really is cold here. I think today it might have hit the high 60's, but unfortunately I was stuck inside for all but 5 minutes of the day and couldn't enjoy it. At any rate, I had a great excuse to pull out these seldom-worn leather pants and layer up a sweet-but-tough look.

This "dress" is scandalously short to be worn as such, but it makes the perfect means by which to soften the impact of the leather pants. These pants are nicely fitted and really show off my bum to its fullest potential, but for work I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with displaying much more than just my leather-clad legs in these babies. For a night out yes, but not at the office. But here I've used the longer length of the dress, combined with the interesting blend of colors and layers, to make the top half of the outfit the focal point. The pants become part of the background over which to highlight the pretty details in the dress and cardigan.

By combining these pieces I was able to use two items that otherwise I'd never feel comfortable wearing to work: the tight-fitting leather pants and the super-short dress. I just love feeling like I got away with something.

Cardigan: Anthropologie
Dress: Anthropologie
Pants: Firetrap
Boots: All Black

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick Draw

Apparently Mark made me this harness several months ago, and though I kept seeing it hanging there in the closet, I just assumed it was intended for the shop. The other day I was going to "borrow" it (which generally entails me just keeping the item), until Mark told me it was mine to begin with. I just love this piece; it has a rugged, gun holster feel to it that I really like. Of course the only thing I can "draw" is my work security badge on its retractable cord, but hey, I can draw it with lightening speed!

This harness is made of a very high quality, thick Italian leather. It's also dyed all the way through, which means the core of the leather is dark, with the contrasting color visible around the cut edges. If you click on the detail shot you can see what a beautiful 3-D shadow effect this gives to the straps and even the buckle holes. If you've examined the Etsy shop closely and were wondering about the pricing, this is what accounts for the difference in price between this particular harness and its black counterpart; the leather for this one is much more expensive and is harder to come by.

I've also requested a steel gray version of this harness, which will make its debut at Burning Man; I already have several outfits mapped out for it.

Cardigan: All Saints
Brown t-shirt: H&M
Dress: thrifted
Harness: Audra Jean
Leggings: Kersh
Boots: Bata

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

These Boots Were Made for Walkin'

At last I got myself some textured black tights, which I've been sorely needing for quite awhile. My solid black pairs just look too heavy for summer outfits, whereas these keep my legs warm without overpowering the other pieces.

Lately I've been wearing my all my pairs of low-heeled boots a LOT, and that's partly because I've been doing a lot of walking during my lunch break. My workplace is situated right along a pretty walking trail with views of the bay, so in an effort to get more exercise (I'm trying to shape up for Burning Man, truth be told), my friend/coworker and I have been having a quick lunch followed by a long brisk walk, which requires the most comfortable of my footwear. And I'm not one of those people who's OK with changing into sneakers to go for a walk; either the shoes go with the outfit or they don't get worn, period.

Cardigan: All Saints
Scarf: local import store
Black tank top with pink ruffle (layered underneath): Anthropologie
Tie dye tank top: Rapsodia
Skirt: Anthropologie
Tights: Leg Avenue, via Sock Dreams
Boots: All Black

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Little Mod

I just realized looking at these photos that I'm sort of doing a Wonder Woman pose there in the first one. She always had her fists clenched, though -- I'll have to try that the next time.

The last time I wore this dress was last Halloween, when I went as Twiggy, and before that I'd only worn it one other time. But a dress like this needs few wearings, because each one makes a pretty strong impression. Plus, there are only so many ways to style a lemon yellow mod 60's minidress, and I don't want to run through them so fast that I have to start repeating with the same accessories. So provided my size doesn't change, I'll be wearing this dress infrequently but for many years to come.

With this outfit I worked with the blueish-gray side panels of the dress, bringing in both gray and blue accents. The tights and boots were harmonious with the mod style of the dress, while the cardigan, with its slashes along the placket, added a modern touch. With an obvious vintage piece such as this dress, it's important not to go so far as to look costumey (unless, of course, you're actually wearing it as a costume). A little mod goes a long way.

Dress: vintage
Cardigan: Cynthia Rowley
Tights: via Sock Dreams
Boots: Bronx

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Question of Words

Wearing this somewhat wacky color combination got me thinking about the comments that I frequently get about my stylistic choices. Many people have remarked that they appreciate my bravery and confidence in wearing whatever I want, and I started to think about what that concept really means. And what I determined is this: it really is just a question of words, specifically the ones that are used by others to describe us, and particularly the ones that can be construed as less-than-flattering. Words are strange things; some can cut to the quick while others have no effect whatsoever.

The choices we all make reflect which words we're okay with having assigned to us, and which we're not. No matter how you dress, some people will like it and some won't; it's just a matter of exactly what your detractors are going to say about you. Everyone at some point in life will be described in less than glowing terms, and so along the way we all develop sensitivity around some of those terms, and resistance to others. And from that perspective, everyone has precisely the same amount of stylistic bravery.

So I thought it'd be an interesting exercise to talk about which (presumably negative) words we don't mind hearing about ourselves and which ones make us cringe, because I thought it would be a way to understand our own choices better, and a way to push our so-called bravery in the direction we want it to go. I'll get us started. I think my style reflects the fact that I would much prefer to be viewed as eccentric or even bizarre rather than unoriginal or boring. I'll take androgynous or even unfeminine over slutty or trashy any day. And I'd much rather someone think I'm completely off my rocker than that I've played it safe. And therein lie the limits of my confidence. Put me in a staid beige pantsuit and just see how brave I am then.

Which negative words sting you and which ones bounce right off? How do your stylistic choices reflect these preferences?

Top: a gift from Sal
Scarf: Promod
Belt: Lazaro
Skirt: Skunkfunk
Leggings: Foot Traffic
Boots: Bata

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Big Difference

See that teeny bit of exposed skin there above my knee? That was my attempt to make this outfit look more "summery." I figured that by wearing OTK socks and letting the tops show, it would be clear that it wasn't *quite* cold enough for tights. So there's obviously a big difference between this and the winterized version of this outfit, which would include approximately 12 more inches of knitted material.

I liked the way the OTK's were just barely exposed, and in fact from the back it looked like I just had on regular tights because the denim dress is long enough to cover the tops of the socks. This is a subtle way to wear OTK or knee high socks and not give off a schoolgirl vibe.

Orange dress: Skunkfunk
Denim dress: thrifted
Belt: Lazaro
Socks: via Sock Dreams
Boots: from Scoop in Copenhagen

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random Music Post: Balkan Beat Box

I've gotten behind on my photo uploading again, so today I'm bringing you another music post about a band I've been meaning to talk about for awhile now. Balkan Beat Box are Israeli-born New Yorkers who blend diverse musical styles and influences to create music that is truly unique, as well as intelligent and fun. Their sound is primarily Mediterranean, but on any given track you might also hear elements of hip hop, electronica, klezmer, reggae and African beats, calypso, Latin rhythms, blues, and even some surf guitar. But this is no haphazard cobbling of musical styles; BBB blends these elements so seamlessly that it's easy to forget they are derived from such far-flung locations and cultures.

According to Wikipedia, Balkan Beat Box, "hoped to encourage and foster peace between citizens around the world by combining traditional music from various areas in the world," and that's exactly what this music does. BBB is able to integrate distinct musical forms through outstanding musicianship combined with strong anti-war and anti-racism messages, while all the time maintaining a sense of energy and good humor. You might think with heavy topics such as greed, war, and racism that the music wouldn't be very fun, but that couldn't be further from the truth. This music can make you dance just as easily as it can make you believe that peace among different races and religions is really possible.

Mark and I saw Balkan Beat Box earlier this year at The Fillmore, and it was easily one of the best live shows I've ever attended. Even the notoriously too-cool-to-dance San Franciscans nearly shook the house down, and I even witnessed hipsters getting down to the music (not that it was a pretty sight, but still). By the end of the show there were 20 or 30 people who had jumped up on stage to dance with the band. It was as much a spontaneous street party as it was a musical performance. Meanwhile, the band dazzled us with their musical acrobatics, giving the songs a fervent energy that went beyond the already spectacular studio recordings.

I'll leave you with one more track, which is one of my favorites from the most recent album, Blue Eyed Black Boy. Just to show you that BBB isn't all about sociopolitical ills, here's a touching little love song that blends a sexy Balkan dancehall sound with a characteristic reggae beat and a touch of Latin flavor. Now THIS is what love should sound like!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This outfit might have been a little much with the hat and the plaid and all those layers. Looking at it now in the photos, it strikes me as being very busy. Thankfully, I couldn't care less. I haven't been wearing hats as much lately and I felt like I was long overdue for sporting one, especially one of my own. So I grabbed this one as an afterthought once I'd put the rest of the outfit together. As for the layers, they were just flat out necessary; the red tank top filled in the low neckline of the dress, and the cardigan kept me from freezing. This cardigan has truly been a lifesaver for me this summer; I must have worn it at least 20 times since I got it just a few months ago.

Dress, cardigan: All Saints
Belt: thrifted
Hat: AudraJean
Boots: Morgan (second hand)

Monday, August 9, 2010


Here's the third wearing of these shorts (see the first two here and here), and the next on my list of ideas for ways to wear them. I've still got one more idea I'm wanting to try, and that's pairing them with suspenders and oxfords (which I still have yet to get stretched to the correct width). You'll see that one soon enough, I'm sure. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do once I've run through all these ideas. Actually that's not entirely true; I still have other ideas for these shorts, but the other items involved in those outfits are too wintry even for this very chilly SF summer.

The goal with this outfit was to wear my polka dot tie. When I put this together I fretted that I've already worn this shirt and tie together several times before, but upon perusing the archives I realized that the tie has most often appeared paired with my Max Studio black V-neck top, and has in fact only been worn with this striped shirt one other time. Whew! I thought my outfits were starting to get redundant.

Shirt: Promod
Tie: thrifted
Shorts: White House Black Market
Boots: Modern Vintage

Friday, August 6, 2010


**In case you haven't opened up this page in your browser lately, take a look at my sidebar each month for special offers from eShakti. This month they're offering 10% off all orders when you use the promo code "audi123" at checkout. You can see my beautiful eShakti dress here and here.**

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've worn this dress with the ruffled top part showing. I'm not really sure why either; I think I used to feel it was a bit much, but now it pleases my eye just fine. And combined with the gorgeous harness that Mark made me, the outfit is totally emboobening, as Sal would say.

I was tempted to pair these tights with my Fluevog sandals, as I've done so many times before. But I realized that adding the blue boots would bring some punchy contrast to the outfit, which on a foggy, gray day was just what I needed. These boots are really tall, adding a good 4.5 inches to my height, so they counter the leg-shortening effect that short boots like this often have. I love how the brass details on the boots pair so nicely with the hardware on the harness.

Dress: Tulle
Shirt: H&M
Harness: AudraJean
Tights: Foot Traffic (via Sock Dreams)
Boots: Frye