Ashley Tries Referential Dressing

It’s easy to overthink clothes, because clothes are so personal.  When I overthink, I tend to lose track of the obvious.  Have you ever been caught off guard by a ridiculously easy question?  Like when you’re at a party and you’re a little nervous and a lot stressed and a stranger asks you how many siblings you have and you panic and just start listing numbers?  I can get that way when people ask me what I like about clothes.  Then my mind goes blank.  What DO I like about clothes?  Um, You get arrested if you don’t wear them in public?……They’re an aspect of art and culture that nobody can “opt out” of?…..They are usually made of cloth??….Okay, okay.  STOP, Ashley.

There are lots of reasons to like clothes, but my reasons aren’t very complicated.  I like clothes because clothes are pretty and interesting and can make people look really good.  There doesn’t have to be a deep reason to be interested in clothes and our clothes don’t have to be separated from what we like in other parts of our lives.

If your house is simple and minimalist, white walls with gray accents, I’m guessing that your clothing tastes will veer toward simplicity and minimalism as well.  If your favorite songs are all by Elvis, I wouldn’t be surprised if your wardrobe has some vintage vibes going on.  I like all kinds of things and that shows up in my clothes.  I love prints that remind me of my mom’s blue-and-white china pattern.  I love colors that make me think of the ocean.  So this week, I tried dressing in clothes that reminded me of other things I love.

Day 1

I love classic children’s literature and I have a particular fondness for the characters who don’t quite fit in with the rest of the group at first, but grow into it.  Usually the funny side characters.  The little, strange, hilarious ones.  Some examples:

  • Beanie Robinson from Dog Friday by Hilary McKay.  I’ve probably already mentioned Beanie on this blog, but she’s so great, I’ll mention her again.  She’s six.  She named herself Beanie, because she thinks a bean pod seems like such a comfy place to live.  She wants to run a Bed and Breakfast when she grows up and my favorite part of the book is when she gets an opportunity to do just that.  That little girl saves the day in such a nonchalant way that want to be Beanie Robinson when I grow up.
  • Dorothea Callum from the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, which are all about kids who camp and sail and have adventures around the Lake Country in England. Dorothea and her brother don’t show up until later in the series, so the main group has already been established and everybody has a role.  Dorothea wants to be a novelist and none of the kids really knows what to do with that at first, but she eventually becomes the one everybody looks to for ideas.  By the time The Big Six comes around, she uses everything she knows about mystery stories to solve a real crime.  She’s just the best.  (EXCUSE ME WHILE I RUN OFF AND READ ALL THE BOOKS WITH DOROTHEA IN THEM.)
  • Constance Contraire from The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  This book is about about a group of kid spies who are put in charge of shutting down a plot to take over the world, but Constance is the least likely child spy of all time.  She’s tiny, weak, grumpy, sleepy, and spends most of the book insulting her other teammates.  Her character development is such a surprise that I’ll just let you read it.  On the spy entrance exam, one of the questions is “What is wrong with this statement?”  The correct answer is that it isn’t a statement, it’s a question.  But Constance’s answer was “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?”  That still cracks me up.

This outfit feels old-fashioned and young at the same time.  There’s something about the flats and the collar and the cardigan and the flowers on the shirt.  I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why it reminds me of some of my favorite fictional characters, but it definitely made me happy that day!

Day 2

I love westerns and there’s a western trend thing happening right now, but let’s face it, I’m never going to look like Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven.  That’s the tragic fact of it.

I bought these lovely fringed earrings last Saturday and they had a western vibe to them, so I decided to channel the kind of western I knew I could do.  That is a glam western.  A musical western.  A Calamity Jane or Annie Get Your Gun kind of western.  As it turns out, it’s way easier for me to channel Doris Day than to channel Steve McQueen.

I really loved this look.  It’s cute and practical and packs a punch.  Just like Calamity Jane.  If there’s a trend you love, but don’t think you can do, alter it until it suits you!  The trends aren’t the boss of you.

Day 3

I bought this gray top in France last fall and I’m so delighted it’s warm enough to wear it again!  It’s ruffled and voluminous and embellished and it has bell sleeves and is so all-out-feminine that it makes me think of a princess.  Given the chance, I’d dress like a princess every day.  The Child Within still casts a heavy vote and always votes in favor of MORE TWIRLY, PLEASE.

I wouldn’t want to wear a ball gown all the time.  That would be cumbersome and inconvenient.  But I love the idea of truly beautiful everyday clothes and I want to make it a thing.  Princesses in the woods are still princesses and they are still regal and beautiful in hard circumstances.  I always preferred Sleeping Beauty’s everyday clothes to her ballgown.  Probably because the pink-blue-pink-blue gown color change confused me as a child.  Anyway, I don’t know how I will make Princess a THING, but I really want it.  I think that’s why I started doing fashion in the first place.

Day 4

This look is based on one movie scene that shaped my aesthetics more than I can explain.

The movie is Disney’s The Three Caballeros and it’s truly bizarre.  But there’s one scene where there’s a little choo-choo train going through a jungle and the background is completely black and the jungle and the train bright saturated colors.  It was the first time I’d ever seen anything like that, with bright colors on a dark background, and boy did that ever speak to my soul.  The old comic, Krazy Kat, holds a special place in my heart for the same reason – the black skies and bright desert of Krazy Kat world strike a chord with me.

So to reference Mary Blaire’s 3 Caballeros artwork, I paired my brightest tropical print top with a black skirt and black shoes. It’s dramatic, but playful. It’s an everyday party.

Day 5

This one is easy. When I saw this romper, it made me think of a circus tent. And circuses remind me of summertime and popcorn and elephants.

I was so overjoyed about the first really warm day that I wanted to celebrate it! With shorts. But most of my shorts are very short. So this was an elevated short look that worked for the office. Win-win.

This was a fun challenge and it amplified all my happiness this week. If you are feeling a little bored with your outfits or just need some inspiration, take inspiration from things you love! What would your favorite book character pick out of your closet? What would an outfit based on toast with jam look like? What color reminds you of your favorite place?

Advertisements

Ashley Tries Fandom Style

It’s Fandom Week and it has been one of my very favorites, mostly because I was joined by Sara, my good friend and fellow fashion enthusiast!  If you ever have something fashiony that you want to try, but are self-conscious or nervous about it, ask a friend to try it with you.  It’s twice as much fun and if the outfit totally doesn’t work, you can laugh about it together.  Having Sara along for the ride gave me the confidence to push my own ideas a little farther and enjoy the whole process even more.

For all of you wondering what “fandom dressing” is all about, it’s creating an outfit inspired by a fictional character.  These are real outfits that you can wear all day – not costumes.  It’s a creative outlet, a cool way to get clothes inspiration, and a way to show that you are a fan!  I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and I’m so glad I got the chance this week.

Day 1:  Mortimer Dalrymple

This was kind of a bonus day, because it was Memorial Day.  The sun was shining, the pace slowed down, and this sleepy little town reminded me of one of my favorite books – The Mad Scientists’ Club by Bertrand R. Brinley.  It’s set in a tiny town in the late 1950s / early 1960s and stars a bunch of middle-school boys who love science (and mainly use their brainpower to cause some mayhem).

Mortimer Dalrymple is in charge of electronics and making sarcastic comments.  One of my very favorites is when the club has rigged up an old house to make it seem haunted and then they hear that the sheriff is coming out to check it out.  “”I don’t wanna do my ghost act,” said Mortimer Dalrymple. “I might get arrested for having no visible means of support.””

Genius.

So with the air smelling like summer adventures, I wore rolled-up jeans, beat up sneakers, a plaid button down shirt, and a straw fedora with the brim flipped up.  It made me want to make a sea monster or figure out how to make a mannequin fly or haunt a house (and it really made me want to read all of those stories again).  When life slows down in the summer, it’s time to get busy!

Day 2:  Tiffany Aching and Kiki

Day 2:  Tiffany Aching (from The Wee Free Men)

Here’s a description of Tiffany Aching’s clothes from Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men:  “Start with the boots.  They are big and heavy boots, much repaired by her father, and they belonged to various sisters before her; she wears several pairs of socks to keep them on.  They are big.  Tiffany sometimes feels she is nothing more than a way of moving boots around.  Then there is the dress.  It has been owned by many sisters as well and has been taken up, taken out, taken down, and taken in by her mother so many times that it really out to have been taken away.  But Tiffany rather likes it.  It comes down to her ankles and, whatever color it had been to start with, is now a milky blue that is, incidentally, exactly the same color as the butterflies skittering beside the path.”

Tiffany Aching is a great character – she reads through the dictionary (because nobody tells her that you aren’t supposed to), she is overly precise, makes excellent cheese, and invades Fairyland armed only with a frying pan.  And she leads an army of 6-inch-high blue warriors.  Tiffany is a force to be reckoned with.

I was able to keep it simple for this one – when I read the description, it reminded me so much of my faded blue maxi dress that the dress was basically all I needed.  I just had to add boots!

Day 2:  Kiki (from Kiki’s Delivery Service)

[Note:  I didn’t have to write descriptions for Sara’s outfits, because Sara kindly wrote down some notes on her outfit-picking process.]

Sara:  “I love the look, feel, and storytelling style of any Studio Ghibli film. I chose Kiki because she has a very simple, but iconic look: swing dress, orange flats, big red bow (and a broom, which I left out for practical reasons).

I started with a simple navy swing dress, then chose a nautically-patterned red scarf (a nod to the seaside town she lives in) and tied it in a giant bow on my head. This is something that I did *all the time* in college, but it’s been a few years and I did feel very young and a little self-conscious at first.

I debated about what shoes to finish the outfit with. I have a pair of red flats that would have worked, but the silhouette of the dress paired with the giant bow felt very young and I work in an office. I opted instead for this great pair of orange wedge sandals I thrifted brand new for 50 cents last week. They stay true to the color of Kiki’s shoes while elevating (literally) the outfit a bit.”

Day 3:  Princess Leia and Peggy Carter

Day 3:  Princess Leia

Sara:  “I quite enjoy Leia. She’s a strong woman without falling into the trap of being a Strong Female Character (the type where you can just hear the capital letters thunking into place). Yes, she’s a princess. Yes, she needs rescuing. But once she is rescued she’s resourceful and brave without feeling the need to prove that she’s as good as a boy. She’s secure in who she is.

I knew that this outfit was going to be a little less on the nose than Kiki’s outfit as I do not own a flowy white space dress, and was not planning on putting cinnamon buns on my ears. Day 1 was almost a costume, day 2 was an homage. The heart of Leia’s style (at least in A New Hope) is that she wears all white and space buns. I chose a white dress and knotted a slightly oversized button-up over it.

Leia is a combination of hard and soft and the lace dress with the slightly masculine sleeves-rolled-up shirt struck that balance. I paired it with white leather oxfords with a platform that makes them feel future-y/space-y, and finished off the outfit with space buns and teensy planet earrings.”

Day 3:  Peggy Carter (from Marvel’s Captain America and Agent Carter)

She’s tough, kind, beautiful, funny – it’s no wonder Peggy Carter got her own spin off show after the first Captain America movie.  In the movie, she mainly wears a uniform, but in the show, she fights evil in beautifully bright dresses and tailored separates.  She makes running in heels look easy.  I’m not just a fan of Peggy – I’m a fan of the whole look of the show and the costume design in particular.  She takes on Captain America’s fight after he’s gone and she takes on his superhero colors as well – she starts wearing blue and red, and it’s such a cool visual storytelling move.

The blue and red are iconic, so I wanted to go for it, but I didn’t want to go too bold and primary.  Bright blue and bright red run into costume territory really fast.  I went for navy blue with a dark red belt, then topped it with a tailored blazer and peep toe shoes in neutral colors.  I loved this outfit.  Put-together, feminine, bold, and classic all at the same time.

Curled my hair a little bit, pinned up one side, and added red lipstick for a low maintenance version of a classic 1940s look.  It’s an everyday glamour – we’ve lost a bit of that in our very casual culture.  It was fun to bring it back in a modern way!

Day 4:  Miss Frizzle and Nausicaa

Day 4:  Miss Frizzle (from The Magic Schoolbus)

Sara:  “Miss Frizzle – it’s difficult to think of a woman more fearless or iconic when it comes to fashion (and taking large groups of children into terrible danger). I am a lady who likes her statement jewelry, statement prints, statements shoes, etc.  I like statements. So I definitely feel Miss Frizzle on a deeper level.

She will take a theme and run with it all the way and I knew I had to do the same. I started with this great red and white striped dress that is covered with hummingbirds, paired it with my camel wool blazer as it was chilly that day, and added red and navy patterned heels (be fearless). I knew the real make or break was going to be the details. I added these great glass earrings I thrifted as well as a thrifted bird brooch and then teased my hair into a big bun at the top of my head for the finishing touch.”

Day 4:  Princess Nausicaa (from Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)

This was my Miyazaki day and I drew inspiration from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.  Princess Nausicaa flies a glider, tames giant insects, and sacrifices herself for her people after her father, the king, is murdered.  She’s tough.  She has to be.  But even with all she goes through, she never loses her sweet, joyful nature and her love just increases.

When she flies, Nausicaa wears a blue tunic, white leggings, boots (with shin guards), gloves, goggles, and a gas mask.  I went for a less on-the-nose look, because that’s a whole lot of crazy (especially for work).  I went for a blue tunic top, white pants, and ankle boots.  I’ll readily admit that Nausicaa’s boots make me want over the knee boots….and a glider to fly.

I put on some eyeliner for that Japanese anime look, and borrowed some crazy bug earrings from Sara (because Nausicaa can tame giant insects).  This look made me happy.  One of the things I love about fandom dressing is that it really is the thought that counts.  It’s the thrill of having a secret.  Nobody else had to know that my clothes were inspired by Nausicaa, but I knew it, and that knowledge gave me a happy little glow inside.

Day 5:  Jose Carioca and Indiana Jones

Day 5:  Jose Carioca (from The Three Caballeros)

For the last day, I knew I wanted to do a Disney character, because Disney is one of the biggest influences in fandom dressing.  (If you look up Disneybound on Pinterest, you’ll find thousands of outfits that fans have put together.)  It was kind of tough to figure out which character to do, because there are so many options!  I was considering Maid Marion, Peter Pan, Wendy, Miss Bianca, Edna Mode, Lilo, Meg (from Hercules)…..then I remembered one of my very favorite Disney characters.  His name is Jose Carioca.  He’s a very dapper Brazilian parrot from Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros.  They are pretty crazy – imagine Fantasia mixed with a travelogue from an epic trip through South and Central America.

Jose speaks Portuguese most of the time, moves to the rhythm of the samba, and teaches Donald Duck about Brazil.  He’s just the coolest.  He’s a green parrot, so I chose green skinny trousers.  He wears a yellow jacket, a white shirt, a bow tie, spats, and a boater hat and he always carries an umbrella.  The overall affect is extremely dapper, so I gave a nod to that with oxford shoes, a black hat, and a mock bow tie.  I wanted the whole outfit to look cool and effortless, so I substituted a striped tee for the collared shirt and then tossed on a chartreuse cardigan instead of a structured jacket.

This one is probably my favorite.  I’ve always loved Jose’s dapper tropical look and his effortlessly cool attitude and his accent and how he lives his life to a samba rhythm.  Some outfits make confidence easy.  This is one of them.

Day 5:  Indiana Jones

Sara:  “I knew for the last day that I wanted to wear pants. Therefore, I chose Indiana Jones (there were other considerations as well, I suppose). This one was super fun to put together, and again, I loved thinking of the details. The base was simple with tan pants and a safari-esque shirt. The hat was a given and I borrowed the leather jacket from Ashley (although full disclosure, I didn’t really wear it much as it was quite hot that day).

To finish off the outfit I added my life-size gold cicada earrings (which Ashley wore for her Nausicaa outfit) and the crowning touch was my snakeskin shoes (“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”). All in all it was a super fun week and I haven’t been this excited about getting dressed in a long time. Thanks for having me along, Ash!”

Thanks for joining me, Sara!  You made this week fantastic and you looked fabulous every day.

Thanks for reading, everybody!  If you have any ideas for me to try, please leave me a comment.