Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't watch me dancing

dress: vintage | shoes & headband: ModCloth

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the beautiful wedding of my friends Sam and Brittany. The day was almost unbearably sweltering, but even though I was a little bit under the weather, it was impossible to be too miserable because there was so much joy everywhere! Part of that, I think, had to do with the setting of the reception. Sam's aunt owns a bed-and-breakfast in a rural area of town I had never been to, and it was idyllic beyond words. I must have commented on the beauty about a hundred times. But really: there were old barns, rolling hills, an orchard...more picturesque spots than I could possibly count. It was such a joyful day!

I was happy, too, for an opportunity to wear this dress; it's too fancy for everyday wear, so I have to snag every chance I get. About halfway through the reception, I turned to Chris all dreamily, and said "I'm pretty sure this is my favorite vintage dress." Although he loves this dress too, he looked at me a little bit skeptically. Perhaps because I've said the exact same thing to him about three other vintage dresses...

Life has been moving so fast lately; would you believe that I actually forgot that this is a holiday weekend? What a lovely surprise...I've been so busy at work. Not that I'm complaining. The project I'm working on is actually really awesome, and the old adage "time flies when you're having fun" is really proving to be true. I'm doing all the photography and graphic design for a book our company is getting published, and I've never enjoyed anything at work more than this. It's funny; I decided not to study graphic design in college because I knew the market was flooded, and then I fell into a graphic design job anyway. Now I just need to stop neglecting the design of my poor little blog!

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty psyched for fall. Have I said that ten times already? I don't care. I'm going to enjoy this weekend - basically, the last weekend of summer - and then I want everything to taste like apples and pumpkins...

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Le temps de l'amour

dress: Forever 21 | shoes: Charlotte Russe

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments on my last outfit post! There is still so much I need to mull over, but so far, I feel really good about my decision to give up fast fashion for 6 months. I've only just begun dabbling in research. One thing I plan to look for is companies that are sweatshop free, such as American Apparel. I think a lot of their business practices are great, and that in general they're worth supporting...but though I love the fact that they don't airbrush their models, I have to be honest, I've always found their ads kind of sleazy. I suppose I'm still in search of the perfect company. Thrift stores are always safe, I guess!

Somewhat ironically, in this post - my first outfit post since swearing off fast fashion - I am wearing a Forever 21 dress and Charlotte Russe shoes. But I'm not about to throw away all the clothes I've ever gotten at the mall. Instead, I plan to wear them until they're threadbare, and then stick by the World-War-II-era slogan from the UK:  "Make do and mend." (Which, in a way, I did for this dress: it was so short it made me super uncomfortable, so I had my sister let out the hem a great deal. I love having a sister who's a sewing genius!)


The other night, Chris and I went to see Moonrise Kingdom - at last! He's been getting me into Wes Anderson films lately, and I can't believe I had gone this long without seeing them. Every time I finish watching one, I find myself wanting to step into the world in that film. I could live without having a family as dysfunctional as the Tenenbaums, but I would love to have Nico playing in the background as I step off the bus (in slow motion, of course). I don't want to get struck by lightning like Sam in Moonrise, but I would love to live in a world of teals and oranges and mustard yellows and Francoise Hardy records playing on the beach.

I think I've just talked myself into watching one of his films today. Do any of you have a favorite?

I'm absolutely delighted that August is drawing to a close - not just because autumn is my favorite season, but also because this month has been so busy I've hardly been able to catch my breath. Two weddings, two funerals, a new niece born (finally!), another niece turning 1, driving all over the country in a weekend, a huge project at work...I will welcome September with open arms. Now that I'm not in school anymore, I'm going to use it as a month to relax.

I hope you all have had a great weekend! Are you doing anything awesome to close out the summer?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tunesday: What Wonder Is This Universe!

Happy Tunesday, everyone! I've long thought that as long as I have music to listen to, I can get through just about anything. So I've decided that, every so often on a Tuesday, I'd like to share the love by sharing some tunes.

I couldn't think of anyone better to start off with than The Soil & The Sun.

Genre: Experiential Spiritual Folk-Rock/New Mexican Space Music (if that doesn't make you want to listen to them, I don't know what will!)

Latest release: Happily, yesterday they released their second full-length album - and once again, they have exceeded all my expectations. The record is called What Wonder Is This Universe! and you can listen to it in its entirety right here. They're also going on tour all over the U.S., so be sure to check out their tour dates!

Standout songs: Their new album is wonderful from start to finish, but I especially recommend "The Devil Made Me Do It," "You Alone Know," "Who Is He, Anyway?" and "I Know It (I Feel It, Too)"

Now, first off...when I hear the phrase "local band," I immediately think that they're probably not that good. I know that when I first went to see this band play two and a half years ago - in someone's living room, no less - I had absolutely zero expectations. I went because I knew someone in the band, and I wanted to show support. But I figured I'd be checking my watch the whole way through.

How wrong I was.

It was love at first listen. And over the years, my love for them has only grown - as their sound has grown, as well. These days they usually play with 8 or more people on the stage, with drums, guitar, violin, accordion, and all manner of other instruments. Every time I hear them play, I walk away with my soul feeling refreshed. That's the only way to describe it.

So if you like music that gets in your bones, makes you tap your feet, and refreshes your soul, check these guys out - and be sure to let me know what you think!

And, just because I felt that it went very well with their album title - here's a photo I snapped in the car on the way to my friend Matt's wedding on Sunday. We do live in a wonderful universe, don't we?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The forest for the trees (+ thoughts on "fast fashion")

dress: Charlotte Russe | belt: vintage | shoes: Ruche

Last week, I had to get a gift for a bachelorette party I was going to, so I stopped by the mall and went to Charlotte Russe. I got the gift, and while I was at it, I picked up a few things for myself: tights, pants (!), and this dress from the clearance rack. I love the little tree print and the slightly 1940's-esque shape, and it's just nice to get some more black dresses in my closet. For all the praise that always gets showered on the classic LBD, I sure don't own many!

I can't truly say I regret any of those purchases. But after I left the store, I felt a little bit...icky. That's probably not the most eloquent way to phrase it, but there you have it. It's how I felt. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that literally thousands of other girls own this exact same dress. That's not a bad thing, necessarily - I really enjoy seeing all the different ways pieces can be styled. It fuels my creativity.

But I also realized that this dress probably came into my hands thanks to the labor of sweatshop workers. And that made me really uncomfortable.

So as soon as I left the store, I decided something: no more of my "fast fashion" vices - Charlotte Russe, Forever 21 - for at least 6 months. Sure, it's great that you can pick up something stylish for cheap...but how long do those pieces really last? And what's the true cost?

I realize this may not be the most popular decision, but I'm eager to see where this takes me over the next six months. I'll do my research in the meantime; I mean, I don't actually know anything about the practices of those companies. Either way, I don't think it's bad to swear off something like this for a little bit. I've unsubscribed from their newsletters to avoid temptation. I want to do more thrifting. I want clothing that means something. I want to support small businesses and independent designers. If that means I have to spend a little bit more, then so be it!

I don't want to be overdramatic, and I'm not trying to start some sort of style blogger revolution. But to me, the best part about blogging is the community, and getting to hear all sorts of lay it on me! I haven't done the research - I'm going mostly on gut feelings. What are your thoughts on "fast fashion"?

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Mine will be a bit of a whirlwind: I'm driving to Atlanta with my family tomorrow (almost a 14-hour drive), going to my uncle's memorial Saturday morning, then driving to Nashville briefly, then driving partway back to Grand Rapids Saturday night, then driving the rest of the way on Sunday, and then going to Newaygo to see my friend Matt marry his lovely bride! Phew! Do any of you have anything awesome planned?

p.s.: I've decided that my pictures are going to be be a little bit bigger from now on. I know it's kind of a blogging faux pas to have differently sized photos, but going forward, they will all be the same size! This is in preparation for my new layout, which I'm still working on.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mucha ado about nothing

dress, hat: vintage | shoes: Forever 21

Do you ever spot an item of clothing that is completely not your style, but for some reason it appeals to you anyway? That's the case with this dress. I bought it off of Ebay a couple years ago because 1) it belonged to an actual hippie in the 60's or 70's, and 2) it's covered with an Alphonse Mucha print. He's my favorite artist; I couldn't resist. And yet...this dress has been sitting in my closet, unworn, pretty much since I bought it. As much as I love the idea of owning this dress because of its history and pretty print, I hate wasting money. So even though it's not my normal style, I slipped it on after work one day last week...and immediately regretted that I hadn't been wearing it all through this sweltering summer!

I think my aversion to it stemmed from the fact that I thought it "just wasn't my style." And you know what? It's not my usual style, but I still love it. That's the thing about style: it doesn't have to stay static all the time. When done right, it is an expression of who you are - and if you're doing life right, you're constantly learning, growing, and changing.

Honestly, I could hardly care less about fashion. Self-expression, however - style - I find endlessly fascinating.

Thanks for all of your sweet comments on my last post. I'll be heading to Atlanta this weekend for a whirlwind trip to go the memorial service and see family. And in the meantime, I'm anxiously awaiting the birth of my new niece or nephew, who is now officially four stubborn days overdue...

I hope you all have a great week!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

These days

dress (worn as top), skirt: Forever 21 | belt: thrifted | shoes: Target

It's been quite a month already, and it's really only just begun! To tell the truth, I'm having a bit of a difficult time finding the words for this post. I'm in the midst of what is becoming the busiest month of the year for me - and one of the most emotional. My uncle passed away early Saturday morning - it was somewhat expected, as he was quite ill, but no less sad - and I have a new niece or nephew that is due to be born...well, any day now. It's a strange mix of mourning and happy anticipation. I'm hopeful that there's some way I'll get to spend some time with family - to meet the new little one, to see my aunt and cousins - but everything is kind of up in the air right now.

Between those events and the myriad others that are piling up on my calendar, I think it's going to be a mad dash to the finish line this month! So many commitments, so few days in which to do them all...

One thing I am certain of, though - in happier news - is that my first article for On-The-Town magazine will be appearing in next month's issue! The pressure is on, because it's the biggest issue of the year. The September issue covers ArtPrize, which, for you non-Grand-Rapidians, is the world's biggest art competition. The whole city becomes one huge art say that it's amazing wouldn't really do it justice. Ahh, I love my city.

Anyway, speaking of art - Chris is going to do the art for the cover! He's actually working on it beside me as I type this, and I can't wait to show it to you all. You'll have to see if you can spot me on the me, it won't be hard! I'll post pictures once the issue comes out. I'm not yet sure if there will be an online version of the issue's contents, but if there is, I will definitely share the link. I'm so excited to get out there and uncover the best that Grand Rapids style has to offer.