April 28, 2013

If the Fruit Fits: Dressing Your Figure

Ever wondered how best to flatter your body shape? You can tone up all you want, but at the end of the day you may still have wide shoulders or ample cush in the tush.

Last month on Chic Galleria, I focused on how to dress four popular shapes: the Apple, Banana, Pear, and Strawberry. Check it out! Feel free to leave your own tips in the comment section, here or on CG.


APPLE


If you tend to carry weight in your stomach and arms, have lean legs, and narrower hips, then you’re an apple shape.

With this body type, the favored feature is often the legs. Apple legs tend to be lean, whether or not their long, so tapered, skinny, or straight-leg jeans can be an excellent base. If you wear these, however, be sure to balance them out with a heavier shoe — like this trendy combat boot from Deisel. Pencil and A-line skirts with thick waist bands will help hold in your tummy and draw the eye downward.

You may have slim arms, too, and if this is the case, you’d do well to show them off in sleeveless shirts: just make sure there is structure throughout the rest of the top.

Make blazers and wrap-tops your best friends. An open blazer will create a vertical line to add length to a rounded middle. A closed one with an hourglass tailoring will create curves in all the right places! For less structure, try empire-waist tops and trapeze dresses. These will hide your midsection and draw attention to your legs instead.

As with any shape, it can be fun to draw focus toward other great features. If you have thin, dainty wrists, try pairing large bangles with neon nails. Do you have great hair? Pretty it up with a flower clip or a rhinestone barrette!


BANANA


If you tend to carry weight evenly across your body, have a straight torso, have narrow hips and an undefined waist then you’re a banana shape.

With this body type, it’s important to create an identifiable waist. Without one, the severity of your straight up-and-down figure will detract from your assets.

Bananas were born for draping fabrics. Characteristically feminine ones such as silk, lace, and chiffon can add both texture and curvature, adding volume where needed. Look for embellishments such as bows, ruffles, peplums, and ruched seams. These are especially useful across the bust and hips, where they’ll help to create more of an hourglass shape.

A-line skirts will add curvy volume, but if you’re happier in pants, try a bright pair of skinny jeans and a top in a contrasting color. The two tones will separate your upper half from your lower half and help define your waist. Belting a high-waisted skirt or pant will look great on the shorter banana shape, while taller bananas can pull off hip-hugger styles with a wider, low-slung belt.

High necklines look marvelous on you, especially if your bust is smaller. Horizontal stripes can even out a long torso!

Wearing long necklaces will also help create curvature which mimics the hourglass shape. These Lucky Brand and Betsey Johnson necklaces have long, arching layers which draw the eye downward and give the illusion of a narrowing waist.

Finally, don’t forget to show off those lovely legs in a pair of bright pumps — perfect for welcoming in Spring!


PEAR


If you tend to carry weight in your rear and thighs, have slim shoulders and arms, and maintain a defined waist, then you’re a pear shape.

With this body type, it’s important to draw attention away from the hips and thighs. An easy way to do this is by balancing out your upper half with shoulder and collar details, such as the bow on this patterned Steffen Schraut blouse. A slimming blazer cut just below the hips will help create vertical lines through your widest region.

You will also benefit from wearing slimming boot-cut or flared jeans in a dark wash. This Jane Norman flare uses an over-sized belt to shrink the waistline.

Fun accessories such as sunglasses and hair adornments will draw the eyes upward and balance your silhouette. Finally, add a pair of heels to create length through the legs. I love this “pear” by Guiseppe Zanotti!


STRAWBERRY



If your shoulders are wider than your hips, you have a slim lower half, and little definition between your waist and hips, then you’re a strawberry shape.

With this body type, you want to focus on widening your lower half to balance your upper half. This will help create the classic hourglass shape. Adding volume to the hips in flouncy a-line skirts and dresses is an easy way to do this.

For tops, look for narrow v-necks and dropped shoulder seams, as seen in the camisole and shrug above. These accents will soften the horizontal line of your shoulder and instead draw the eyes downward, toward your slim waist and legs. You also look great in well-tailored button-down blouses. Again, look for vertical patterns such as pinstripes to add length.

Using monochromes above the waist and brighter colors below the waist will also help emphasize your lower half.

Due to your slim hips, you can get away with mid-section accessories such as wide belts. Keep in mind, however: this added width will shorten your torso if worn above the waist, as in this Balenciaga skirt; you might be better off wearing lower-waisted styles. If you legs are longer, try working a pair of wide-legged pants.

Remember to balance your sweet shape with sassy accessories, like these snakeskin Jimmy Choos and cat-eye glasses from Norma Kamli!

April 27, 2013

Spoken Words of Wisdom

When I was sixteen I went to dance camp in Walla Walla. I knew then that I didn't want to be a ballerina, but for a brief time it initiated a desire to pursue modern dance. This was all due to the incredible modern dance teacher I met at camp, who remains today one of the most brilliant souls I've ever had the fortune to meet. This teacher (as well as many of the other Walla Walla staff members) was the first to really show me what maintaining true passion for your art can offer. It was there I discovered hard practice and unconditional love for your work is the recipe for artistic success.

A few months ago I found a journal in my old bedroom, filled with quotes from that teacher. I want to share a few of my favorites here, if only for my personal preservation. I hope find one to enjoy yourself.

"Be square."

"Sometimes you're gonna jiggle. Let your mistakes happen."

"Every step is a choice."

"Follow your impulse -- you know what to do. Make that next shape... feel it."

"Fill the space. ENERGY!"

"Be real."

"Pain only gets worse once you give into it."

"Reach to eternity."

"The less you talk, the more you let me exercise the power to read your minds."

"Learn how to give your attention so when you want it from others it will come back to you."

"Be hippish, not feetish."

"It's like we're each in our own personal snow globes and we can shake ourselves and say 'Oh, that's interesting!'"

"Do what you think the combination is. Make your mistakes honest. Make them true."

"Sweep, turn, sweep, turn... and let the fabulous prima donnas fly right off the stage."

"This is our craft: shaping emotion. Turning what we feel into these shapes."

"You are your own dancer."

"Dare to be rare."

April 21, 2013

Nowhere Man Here


So, strangely enough, for the past few days my topmost inspirsession has been an oldspirsession. Something that was introduced to me when I was six or seven, which came fully into the light at eight or nine, and became a full-on obsession until about the age of thirteen.

The year was 1999, and the obsession was a band of boys. Put these two together and where does your mind go? Probably here:

 Or here:
 Or (sweetLordbarf) maybe even here:

But if you knew me at the turn of the millennium (and especially if you invited me to play tetherball with you), you know perfectly well I'm not talking about any of the above. In my mind, these men might as well have been creatures from another planet, cause I was bounding and bouncing through the bowels of Beatlemania.

Fact: I liked drawing attention to myself as a kid. I like to think every kid does, but that would be avoiding the truth of it: I was (and sometimes still am) a bit of a show-off.

More than attention I love feeling unique. Today it has little to do (consciously anyways) with feeling my opinions are more valid than anyone else's; I just like having my own taste, and I like others have their own too. You could say I feel the same about personalities as I do about photographs: everything's better in high contrast.

When I was younger, however, it did have everything to do with telling people what was what. And so, in the grips of a social sensation that had happened 35 years before my time, I set about to prove just who had made bands like N*Sync and movies like Spice World possible. That original fabulous foursome who I loved with ever fiber of my fifty-inch being...


It was my dad who told me who they were. I'd certainly heard their songs before on my ever-Oldies-tuned radio, but at the time I couldn't tell them apart from The Monkees or Badfinger. I just knew I liked their sound. So Dad took down an old record, and then there they were in front of me, all moptops and smiles, and in an instant the heat of a first crush microwaved my tender preteen heart.
And still pressing full power today.
I convinced my best friend at the time to declare her love for the Beatles too, and we spent recess hitting the tetherball back and forth shouting the tracks off the "Beatles 1" album back and forth, in chronological order. I fancied myself impressive for this: I'm sure no one actually knew what the hell we were doing.

The walls of my room, much to my mother's dismay, I always considered my personal gallery for displaying yearly (or in some cases decade-long) convictions. First it was self-drawn pictures of horses and houses. Then came Elvis, probably. Somewhere in this period I chose a special portion of my wall to decorate with magazine clippings of all the "latest and greatest": Britney, Christina, Justin, and all. I drew horrible eyebrows and mustaches on the lot of them. I added little captions like "Duuuuuh, I'm an idiot..." and "N*SYNC? N*STUPID!," thinking myself wonderfully clever. When I purchased an Elvis Barbie doll with my allowance savings, I set him up on my jewelery box with a makeshift paper crown that read "THE REAL KING," then positioned a headless, scantily-clad Barbie doll beneath him, complete with a butter knife guillotine and a name tag simply titled "Britney." My mother implored me to dismantle my masterpiece the following month.


The Beatles got me through elementary school the way John Hughes did middle/high school. (Somewhat ironic, that pairing, because John Hughes idolized the Beatles immensely.) The only thing that came close to this amount of overwhelming love was Harry Potter* -- and indeed it was Rupert Grint (and perhaps the disillusioning image of a modern day McCartney) which finally drove me from my love for Paul. But the Harry Potter characters, until the movies anyway, were always only fantasy. They hadn't lived and breathed... or been recorded in stereo-sound.

Even though I never tired of their music, my Beatlemania had eased significantly by the time I reached teen-dom, and only resurged once during my time in high school: during the lead-up to Across the Universe. In the time between then and now, I've nursed many obsessions -- several of which this blog has been privy to. The 1980s, of course. The Phantom of the Opera. James Dean. Hair. Lady Gaga. Katherine Hepburn. Johnny Cash. Mumford & Sons. Knitting, even. And now, for a reason I can't explain, those Beatles bit again.

And it's like getting to fall in love with the same person twice! This time around I have far wider access to resources, thanks to the internet. I can watch interviews on YouTube and search song meanings on forums and stream "Hard Day's Night" straight to my bedroom -- all of which I did. Yesterday. All day. Last time it was the sound; now it's the visuals.

Like, I can't believe I never noticed their famous hair shaking -- especially from Paul! I can't get enough of this:


And I'd never heard George speak before, outside of "Help." In fact he has the most adorable sense of humor.

And then there's this. That shot of Lennon getting off the plane and looking back like "Holy S%#t!" right as we see Paul thrust a gleeful hand into the air as if to say "Hello, LONDON!" It's just great. You want stardom to work out for these guys because they're just so damn happy and down-to-earth about it. Through it all, they remain so charming. So poised and gracious.

Then of course there's the sad bits, too. Like how bro-vial Lennon and McCartney were as kids, but how much their relationship suffered (and essentially lead to) the breakup.

And of course the death of John Lennon...


I was actually stunned when I watched this news report. The first thought that struck me was how ancient the style and recording seem. But then the gun control bit came up, and I realized this report is far from outdated. How very sad that last week we had the power to reconsider the laws governing this issue -- this same exact issue that was being discussed over 30 years ago -- and still we can't find an adequate enough reason to stop it. I liked how upfront this Walter Jacobson was in his report. I'm full on board with what this guy's saying in the end, generalizations aside. I certainly feel w'd be much better off if we'd just done what the British did and outlawed guns in the first place -- police and citizens alike. But I suppose we're too far in it now for that to be a possibility.

Anyway, I don't know what this post is about, other than to share my recent reconnection with of a group of lads who always make my world a little brighter. They have somehow spanned a thread from the present to a point in my life when I was also feeling too young, too small, and too lost to know how to make a difference in my world. These guys and their songs remind me I'm never alone. That even they're "a bit like you and me."


*Speaking of Harry Potter -- I think my 10-year-old self would have been tickled to realize the connection between the Beatles and the Marauders. Both fabulous foursomes from boyhood, given to mischief-making but mostly well-meaning and  incredibly talented. Think about it: sensitive George/Lupin, winsome Paul/James, mischievous John/Sirius, and quirky little Ringo/Wormtail. Only difference I see here is Ringo isn't a backstabbing jerkwad. If anything he seems the most objective of the bunch and John better suits that descriptor. WOO- NERDDOM.

April 16, 2013

AM/PM

AM:

In two scrolls of my mouse, I encounter an announcement for acceptance to medical school, engagement photos, and someone's new job at a large local theater.

I got a parking ticket.

Facebook is the new heart of the green-eyed monster.


PM:

I have analyzed and memorized and fallen in love with a Shakespeare monologue. I think I'm on my way at last to getting this stuff.

I got to drive somebody else's nice car. I took a real lunch break, ate a delicious bagel, had an Earl Grey latte, spoke with a nice man at Lowes about how to repot my rose (oh look, I'm rhyming now...)

I watched a really great video shared by a friend on Facebook: Real Beauty Sketches.

I (almost) forgot about my parking ticket.

And I think I finally understand "Sometimes, there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it."

Here's to acknowledging the negative, but building from the positive.

April 14, 2013

April Arrives



As honesty and mood-tracking month rolls on, I'm starting to experience the nice, cleansing feeling that accompanies late spring. I'm so looking forward to seeing the sun again -- I think it's come out today, after several freezing nights, and it means I have no excuse but to take myself for a run. Hehe.

I have no horrendous truth confessions for you. I'm hoping this is because deep down I don't care what others think about me as much as I thought I did. But maybe that cavalier comment is in itself an exposure of my caring. Hmm.

Project update:

-Exercise: I give myself a B in this area. I haven't been avoiding exercise per sae -- I've done some yoga videos, I've discovered a new activity to look forward to (Walk-N-Talk Wednesdays with KatKow!), and I've been trying to walk places more often. That being said, I haven't been for a real run in God knows how long -- not even to break in my new shoes! Considering my post-dinner diet last night consisted of Fireball/Limoncello cocktails, wine, and chocolate chip cookies, I've got some abstaining to do today....

-Shampoo: Truth be told, I'm not totally pleased with my hair project. It's been just a little over a month now, and my scalp still seems relatively greasy. I miss the chemically fruity-floral-herbal smells of commercial shampoo, and I'm tired of everyone having the same reaction when I boast about my venture: "Why??" I think I understand a little of what it must feel like to be a vegetarian.

-Cooking: I made the most delicious quinoa stir-fry yesterday -- found on the lovely Tastespotting. See here.



-Moods: I feel like I've been handling them better! Reminding myself that I determine my level of positivity throughout the day has really helped. It's not to say I haven't had down spells, but they feel a lot more in my control since I really started taking account of my triggers and voicing my thoughts more pointedly.

-Monologues: I haven't written about this yet, but I've been working on some new material to add to my repertoire. It's not easy! I've never had so much trouble committing to memorizing before, and I think it's because I've always had an empty space to do it in until now. It's weird when your housemates can hear you talking to yourself about "my mistress" and "periwigs" and "out of love with thee."

Okay, folks. That's all for now. April is such a weird month. On the one hand I feel completely motivated/excited about everything in my life right now. On the other, I feel lost/confused/tired.

Ergo, I know it's time to stop analyzing things too much; power down the laptop, put on some Johnny Cash, go for a run, take a shower, and get down to business.

Canchya see? I'm learning.












April 8, 2013

Moo Dee


 Wiki, on Mood Swings:

"Cognitive behavioral therapy recommends using emotional dampeners to break the self-reinforcing tendencies of either manic or depressive mood swings.[13]
Exercise, treats, seeking out small (and easily attainable) triumphs, and using vicarious distractions like reading or TV, are among the techniques found to be regularly used by people in breaking depressive swings.[14]
Learning to bring oneself down from grandiose states of mind, or up from exaggerated shame states, is part of taking a proactive approach to managing one's own moods and varying sense of self-esteem."

Something else I'm working on this month: expressing my emotions truthfully. But is it more true to announce how you feel before or after you understand why??

April 6, 2013

Shakesfear

Three hard truths of today:

-I have spent 1/2 of today reading and memorizing a new Shakespeare monologue. It feels as if I have gotten no where. I'm in fact wondering if perhaps there are truly people in the world who just can't grasp Shakespeare...and if I'm one of them.

-I did get out of my pajamas to take a shower, but... now I'm in a new pair.

-This is my oh-so-grown-up dinner for the night:


Yep. Honest life right here.

April 4, 2013

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth

Stop hoping for inspiration and it will come to you, I guess.

I'd been looking forward to my Cooking month for about a week now, when all of a sudden it got sunny outside (Yes, SUN in SEATTLE before MAY) and all my desire to stay inside the kitchen went out the window. This Sunday I poured a packet of Crystal Light powder into a thermos of water, threw some vinagrette over veggies, chicken, and spinach (okay, and then ate about 3 bowls of cereal), and called it good for the afternoon. Today it's disgusting outside again and all I feel inspired to cook is macaroni-and-cheese. Out of a box.

Soooooo, since what I love to cook most is hot food, I'm thinking it might be best to postpone April's original plan until fall returns in-all-its-spiced-glory. I'll do my best to post recipes that come to me this month, but right now, more than ever, I feel I just need a mental break from my Renaissance Woman plan.

Which brings me to the point: this article.

This was shared on Facebook by a woman whose blog posts, ironically, I always envy. She handcrafts clothing and home decor akin to what you'd find in an Anthropologie magazine. She lives with her husband and small dog (with whom she seems very happy.) She has a tight-knit family and really cute clothes and really great hair. No one better could have posted this article. Except maybe Jane Aldridge.

All too often I do compare myself to the Instagram/Facebook/Blogophere/LinkedIn world. With some billion profiles floating in cyberspace, it's no wonder I constantly feel I'm not "doing" enough -- not exercising enough, not cocktail-ing with friends enough, not vacationing enough, not shopping enough, not having sex enough, not cooking enough... I'm a bit of a defeatist by nature, and since I joined the ranks of Facebook, Instagram, and, yes, even my humble blog, I've found myself increasingly difficult to please. I loved this part of the article:

"I so easily fall prey to the seduction of other people’s partial truths and heavily filtered photos, making everything look amazing. And their amazing looking lives make me feel not amazing at all."

Yes. Yes, yes yes. How many times a day do I think these stupid thoughts? Several. How aware am I that I have many good qualities to feel grateful for? Very. And yet somehow the allure of the internet fairytale keeps my esteem spiraling ever further from that awareness. It's as though I am heaving back a ship that keeps sliding away from shore.

So, new project for this month: I'm going to tell the truth. Only the truth. You might see some photos, recipes, and lists I'm proud of, but I promise I'll give you the dirt too. Don't get me wrong -- it's not like I lie normally, but I certainly don't tend to highlight the moments or areas of my life I'd rather forget.

Par example:

Here are some photos I've shared on my blog in the past few months.

What you see: Some genuine, if not slightly grannyish, wintertime relaxation.
What I said: I believe my exact words on Facebook were: "Welcome to my End-of-the-World Me Party."
What that suggests: I'm totally cool with being by myself. I chose to have a bubble bath, finish a knitting project, and watch a movie tonight. I am dealing with being sick as best I can.
What I didn't tell: I remember this night well. It was December 21st, and the world was supposed to end. I'd come home from a miserable show (it's awful trying to sing while your throat is raw) to an empty house (my roommates were gone for Christmas.) For the past week I hadn't been able to taste anything and I was quite anxious that I'd lost that sense forever. My boyfriend had other plans for the night, and I was maliciously reflecting that if the world really did end, he'd have to feel pretty darn bad for leaving me all alone. Yes, friends: The only kind of party that was happening here was a capital P Pity-Me Party.


What you see: A delicious vintage looking cocktail in vintage-looking light. (Thank you, Instagram.)
What I said: "There's nothing quite so classy-feeling as sipping a cocktail to the soft beat of live music and laughter amongst a great group of friends, and all three were sensational."
What that suggests: My friends and I are wonderfully close. When we get together, we grab some expensive drinks and head to a local bar like in "How I Met Your Mother," then shoot the shit in wonderful witticisms. Also, I know where and how to order a great cocktail.
What I didn't tell: I have no idea where or how to order a great cocktail. Generally I can hardly get comfortable enough in bars long enough to enjoy them. (Though, speaking fairly, Lucid was an exception.) I have to be in the right mindset to be happy amongst a large group of people -- even those I consider my friends. In large groups I often vacillate between not getting enough attention or having absolutely nothing interesting to add to the conversation. The time after this outing dissolved into a completely unexpected, totally mortifying fit of anxiety that I hope to never experience again. My boyfriend and I had one of our worst disagreements. It was a terrible, terrible night for me internally. Granted, this all happened after I took the cocktail picture, but certainly not after I shared it here or on Facebook.


What you see: More fabulous filterage; this time of me looking contemplative.
What I said: "Pincurl night in honor of L---."
What that suggests: Okay, I have to give myself credit for this one. I was honoring my grandmother by practicing a skill she taught me. Still, it simultaneously says I'm able to look effortlessly put together, and I still find time to have deep, honorable thoughts.
What I didn't tell: This pincurl night was at least a one hour project, and by no means did it start out as an homage to my grandma. It started off as "Gosh, what can I do to my hair to make it look different... cuter..." The pincurl un-doing day thereafter was essentially 4 HOURS of me sitting in my room fussing with myself -- clothes, hair, makeup, the works only to go to the theater and rehearse in it. It also probably involved about 20 pictures for each one I posted. I'm sure I'm not the only one that cares that much about getting the "perfect angle."


The truth is not that I'm fully capable of entertaining myself or that I have lots of friends or that I have the skills to effortlessly pull off a vintage hairstyle. The truth is I worry a lot. About my future, about my relationships, about my looks... about probably everything you worry about and maybe even a little more. Kind souls in my life have blessed me with complimentary terms such as "bubbly," "energetic," "happy" -- but if they saw to my core, I think they'd find a rather nervous bird of a creature, flapping its wings just to stay in motion, worried that if she stops, she might fall.

I hope this isn't coming across as more pity-me fodder -- that's not my intent. Only to declare it here that I am human, and I'm still learning what it means to be a grown, good, full person.

I doubt anyone out there thinks I'm perfect anyway, but in case I gave you the impression that any of my nights were, know now that they had their flaws as well.

To April imperfection, I give drink.

Love, R