Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Dress-up! Do you ever really outgrow it?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today is Halloween and it's got me thinking about playing dress-up. Esmae is at the age now where it has become one of her favorite things to do. She'll go into my closet and pull out things to try on or ransack through her own drawers for inspiration. 

Recently while looking through a bunch of old photos I was reminded of how important dress-up has always been for me. Not only wearing costumes around Halloween but throughout the entire year. It started at Esmae's age but it didn't end there. This blog is a perfect example. My fashion posts are the perfect excuse for me to dress up just for the love of it. 

What I wear has always been an artistic expression of self for me. Our clothes are often the first layer in communicating who we are to the world. They are like the wrapping on a present. Clearly the real gift is inside but the paper is the first clue as to what you might find once you open it up. What else can do that? Even tattoos serve a different purpose because of there permanency. But clothing is like snake skin. The fact that you can shed it to re-create yourself again and again is what makes it so interesting and inspiring to me. 

The Beginning of my Obsession

For a long time all I ever wanted to wear was my ratty pink tutu. Of course there were also times when I insisted on playing stylist to my best friend by making him where the tutu instead. Poor guy. 

Middle School

I was a day-student at a tiny boarding school called, The Arthur Morgan School.  While most people seem to loath looking back at their time middle school years, I feel just the opposite. 7th-9th grade were good years for me. One of the things that made them so great was the fact that self expression and individuality were always encouraged there. At a time when most kids were trying desperately to fit into the status quo I was supported in exploring things like photography, composition and yes even dress-up!

High school

Going to high school in the country didn't stop my friends and I from dressing up in whatever vintage threads we could scavenge and producing our own photo shoots out in fields and forests. Notice the shot with my first car in the background. It was the old family Subaru. You couldn't hear much above the rattle of the engine but it got me where I needed to go. 

Who says clothespins can't be hair accessories?


College of course is known for its costume parties. (Please excuse the quintessential red plastic cups in our hands.) But my friends and I were also known for having so much fun getting dressed up that we sometimes missed the party all together. 


More recently I've had the amazing experience of working with a professional family photographer, Ashley DuChene, on several photo shoots. I got to dress the whole family up for this one which was really fun.

I guess my point is this. It might start out as child's play but whether we are coming up with the perfect Halloween costume or putting together an everyday outfit. Many of us never really outgrow our love of playing dress-up. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that. Rock your style and dress to impress yourself. That's my two cents anyways. Happy Halloween everyone! xoxo

Dotted Denim Daydream

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I love dressing for Fall. This dotted denim shirt with mustard skinnies is the perfect combination of comfortable, colorful and cute. I rarely pay full price for any of my clothes. The shirt was a TJ Maxx find, the pants are from a thrift store back in California and the shoes are Target believe it or not.

Get the look

I put together the board below with similar pieces for anyone who might want to give this look a try.

Dotted Daydream

How we came to adopt a Rubber Fig Tree

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One of the saddest things about our moving across country (other than saying goodbye to good friends, the Pacific ocean and amazing Mexican food) was having to leave all my plants behind. Back in Cali I had the most beautiful fiddle leaf fig. I ended up giving it to a friend who I knew would appreciate it but it was hard letting go and I still think of it longingly from time to time. There's just something about having big beautiful potted plants in the house that makes me oh so happy.

So why not just go out and buy another one you might ask. Well, for one thing they aren't cheap and the move put quite a strain on our wallets. We needed to catch up again and so I resigned myself to a life without indoor greenery at least for a time. It hasn't been easy though. I've had to avert my eyes and stomp on the gas every time I pass a nursery, of which there seem to be an obscene amount in our new little town. But sacrifices had to be made in the name of savings and I was determined to stay way from the "green stuff" no matter how sad and sterile our indoors seemed. 

Then, just this past weekend, things finally took a turn for the better in the plant department. A neighbor friend of mine, whose father recently passed away, invited me over to look at some of his things in case we could use anything for the house. I was grateful for the gesture (half of our house is still empty) and went over to see what I could find. Unfortunately there wasn't any furniture that I could use and I was about to call it quits when I suddenly saw it...The plant was a little sad looking. The pot it had been planted in had become far too small for its growing size and it was drooping to one side but it called out to me like a pound puppy with the promise of becoming a life long friend. 

I took it home, re-potted it and set it down beside the big windows in our otherwise barren front room. Now it spends its days happily upright and drinking in the sunlight while making the place feel much more homey. I found out that it's called a Rubber fig which felt oddly full circle. From one type of fig to another on a whole other coast. I'm dancing a little fig jig around here, happy to have a growing thing inside the house again and hoping it will help get me through my first long cold winter in seven years. xoxo

Sylvia Plath Inspired Costume

Monday, October 28, 2013

If your planning to attend a Hallows Eve Soiree this year but haven't found the right costume yet, you might want to consider going the literary rout. Sylvia Plath is a favorite of mine. Her look is somewhat identifiable. It's also warm and stylish without being in the least bit slutty. Part your hair to the side and if anyone asks who you're supposed to be just quote them this favorite line of mine from, The Bell Jar. " I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am."

Here are a few retro Plath-inspired pieces from ModCloth to give you an idea of how to get the look. And the best part is you can use them in your everyday wardrobe afterwards.

Sylvia Plath Inspired Costume

Sylvia Plath inspired

Blue dress


Grey socks

Restricted shoes

Brown handbag

Dia de los muertos pumpkins

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Backstory

I lived and studied in Mexico for a time. One of my favorite experiences there was during the Day of the Dead celebrations. I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Janitzio island on Lake Patzcuaro in Michoacan where Purepecha indigenous people gather every year to pray for the deceased loved ones. 

It was over ten years ago but I can still remember the archway strung with hundreds of flowers that lead onto a dock where we boarded the boat to cross the lake. The sun was setting as we made our way across the water and as the light grew dim the island of Janizio came into view all alight with what looked to be millions of candles. It took my breath away. 

Once on the island we made our up the one and only winding street to the alter at the top of the hill. The way up was crowded with venders selling flowers, garlands, candles, food, liquor and anything else you could possibly think of to bring as an offering to the dead. The sights, sounds and smells were overwhelming and incredible, some of which are documented in this photo journal by photographer Benjamin Morris.

I like the idea of celebrating and honoring the dead. Halloween, although fun, has become such a silly holiday linked to ghosts and the afterlife in only the most superficial way. In our culture the dead are something to be feared and not revered. That's why I like celebrating a bit of both and these Dia De Los Muertos Pumpkins seem to do just that. 

Here's How it's Done

These detailed designs are fun to make and easier than they might look. You can always free draw your design (which is what I did for the black and white pumpkins shown above) but if you're nervous about getting the outline right you can also make a simple stencil using paper, marker and an x acto knife.

After you get the outline down you can really get creative with outlining rest of the design in marker. Have fun with it!

The final step is to paint in your design. Again, don't be afraid to get colorful if that's the look your going for.

The final pumpkin product

Happy pumpkin painting everyone!!! Along with the all the trick-or-treating, costume wearing and party-going this Halloween you might also want to consider lighting a few candles and saying a little prayer in honor of loved ones passed.

Painting pumpkins part I (toddler addition)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One of the best parts of Halloween is pumpkin decorating. Last year I let Esmae scoop out the pumpkin guts after I opened it up but she couldn't help with the carving afterwards or we might have ended up in the emergency room. So this year I thought we'd do things a little different with pumpkin painting instead. The result was a surprisingly lovely abstract design. I recommend this to anyone with a small child. I also painted a few pumpkins myself but that post is coming later in part II


All you need for this project is some paint, a paint brush or two and a pumpkin