Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy birthday, B!

Blue shirt dress: Ann Taylor
Blue and green earrings: New York & Co.
Yellow flats: SE Boutique via DSW (remixed)
Flower hair stick: Cua Lo Beach, Vietnam

After a week of cool, rainy weather, we finally got the lovely springlike weather back. I celebrated by wearing a bright dress.

I love this outfit. It's simple, comfortable, and beautiful.

I love the texture on that dress: the circles and the ruffles make a classic silhouette seem more modern and fun.

Do you see the touchability factor, here?

Also, here's a shot of the hairstick in my hair - where it should be, of course.

Sometimes I feel like such a kid with that in my hair, but I like it. It's just the right amount of playfulness, and adds a little interest to my mass of (dirty) curls.

I also like the way the earrings play on the vibrant blue of the dress without being overly matchy and the way the yellow shoes just pop against everything else.

Also, it's my husband's birthday. Yay!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gold Leaf and thoughts on culture and fashion

Leopard print top: New York & Co.
Black pencil skirt: Gap Outlet
Black boyfriend cardi: Banana (remixed)
Red pumps: Michael Shannon (remixed)
Medallion earrings: Target
Striped bangle: gift from sister-in-law (remixed)
Black scarf: Target
Gold leaf bobby pin: Flower Shoppe by emilywootton (etsy)

I'm all about mixing my big cats these days with that bracelet.

I wore the scarf at work because the shirt is a bit low cut and I have way too many boys in my classes. Once classes were over, though, that scarf came off; it was certainly warm enough to remove it then.

I embraced my big hair today, containing it with a single embellished bobby pin courtesy of a wonderful Etsy vendor. Then I rocked my giant earrings and the bangle that makes me all kinds of happy - ah, accessories, livening up a black outfit.

Look at how big my hair is! I love it!

So yesterday, S. from academic chic touched a bit on the issue of cultural appropriation, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since. I don't think I've really been able to get it all sorted out in my head, but I'm working on it. There were also some links, both in the actual post and in the commentary, that I found interesting:
1. The critical fashion lover's (basic) guide to cultural appropriation from à l'allure garçonnière
2. Linkage: The Feather in Your "Native" Cap from threadbared
3. Some Basic Racist Ideas and Some Rebuttals, & Why We Exist from Racialicious

While I originally started this blog to keep things light and to take a break from the issues of identity, race, class, and culture that often feed my other blog, I keep thinking about the statements I'm making with my clothes, how they're "read", and what I'm trying to convey when I put things together. Anyway, this whole issue of cultural appropriation is an interesting one to me. I'm a Puerto Rican woman, married to a white man, living in a predominantly African-American neighborhood; not a day goes by that I don't think about race, class, and ethnicity.
And I keep seeing the way that my class is reflected in my choice of clothing, and not only class, but class the way it's understood in Puerto Rico filtered through a suburban US lens, if that makes any sense at all. But this thought of cultural appropriation really got me thinking about the statements I'm making with my wardrobe.
I have a fascination with head coverings, whether we're talking mantillas or hijab. It's a fascination I've had since I was a child, and would cover my head with a towel trying to imitate the Virgin Mary after a shower (I was a strange kid). There are a lot of political, social, and religious messages wrapped up in the use of these items, but I've always been fascinated with the way they can be worn stylishly and in ways that, to me, convey the strength to wear something that isn't quite mainstream, at least not in the US. There's a bravery in that that I really admire and respect. Yes, I can also see the ways it's used as a tool for oppression, as a way to separate women's influence from men's, but I think that reading it as oppressive each and every time is reading it through a particular lens (a middle-class Western lens).
That said, I would never wear a head covering in the States. If I'm traveling abroad, and that's the law of the land, I'll throw a scarf on out of respect. But here? For every day? It's not okay; it's too loaded, too disrespectful.

There's a boundary there that shouldn't be crossed, and while I can't say definitively "This is when I shouldn't wear something associated with another culture", I have definitely had those moments where I know I shouldn't cross the line.

Of course, there are pieces I do wear, and perhaps they're on the fringe. I have a skirt that looks like a corte, part of the traditional Maya dress, which I got in Guatemala. I have a lot of very close Guatemalan friends, some of whom I was visiting while down in Guatemala, most of whom have Maya roots. When I taught in VA and had a lot of Guatemalan students, they loved when I wore it. It was a connection between us, almost an understanding. I'm Latina, and while I'm very proud of my Puerto Rican background, I feel very LATINA, meaning there's something that happens here in the States, especially when you're in such close proximity to folks from other countries, that ties you to all those other brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking people out there. As a fellow Latina, as a woman who is also Indigenous (and African and Spanish and Italian), can I share in that? Can I wear this item of clothing knowing what has happened and is still happening to the Maya in Guatemala and Mexico? Can I wear it knowing what happened to the Taínos in Puerto Rico? I don't know.

Finally, there's this: Why am I only wondering about the wear of items that are closely associated with minority groups? It struck me - yet again - that it's been ingrained in me that middle-class, White, US style is normative. Somehow, that's devoid of any cultural significance, when, in fact, it's just as loaded. There's that element of colonialism in the export of Western dress. I mean, go anywhere in the world, and in the cities, we're wearing the same stuff. In some ways, it's the kind of thing that reminds me of the way Latinas dye their hair blonde and straighten their hair daily. I don't know... There's cultural appropriation - the way we romanticize the "other", and then there's that cultural imperialism, that exportation of what is "normal" and "appropriate". I don't know. There's still a lot to unpack.

All I know is that some days, I still wish I could wear this and call it a day without anyone thinking it were strange.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is what happens when I don't figure out what I'm going to wear the night before

Vintage dress: thrifted and available here (remixed)
Tan cardigan: Target
Brown woven belt: Target (remixed)
Nude pumps: Nine West (remixed)
Green beaded bracelet: No idea; I found it in one of my jewelry boxes today.
Gold-tone dangly earrings: Kohl's (remixed)

Yeah, I wore this dress on Sunday, but my students didn't know that, so all is well. Anyway, this is how I styled the dress for my no denim workplace. And, yes, you read that right: no denim. Ever. I teach, and I can't wear denim at all. *sigh*

I got some serious compliments on my outfit today, which surprised me. I mean, every time I wear vintage to work I get compliments from the students, but it still surprises me, especially because they think that bright shoes don't match with a neutral outfit.
I like the way the accessories made this outfit feel so different from Sunday's. On Sunday I felt wonderfully Western, ready to ride off into the wild blue singing "Cowboy, Take Me Away". Today, however, with my traditional pumps, my artfully pushed-up sleeves, and my headband, I felt almost fancy. It's pretty and soft and effortless.

I love the way this dress combines florals and stripes. The fabric is very sheer, so I have to wear it with a slip. To be honest, I own two slips, one of which is worn by Roxanne and is an instrument of torture so uncomfortable, that I blame it for my unwillingness to try Spanx no matter what anyone says. The second slip is one that may or may not have been stolen from my mother's drawer many moons ago. I think that makes it vintage. It's such a pretty little thing, all mauve nylon and lace, but I rarely wear it because, really, how often does a woman of the 21st century need a slip? Anyway, the thought of my pretty slip made me feel happy all day long. TMI? Maybe...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ruffles and plaid

Navy cardigan: LOFT
Plaid ruffly flannel: New York & Co.
Brown cami: Petite Sophisticate
Aubergine cord pencil skirt: J Crew
Cognac boots: Target
Green earrings: Target

Ignore the weirdo face I'm making.
I decided I hated the cardigan as B. was taking my picture. The problem, of course, is that it's still stinkin' cold here, and my classroom seems to be even colder. So, here I am keeping warm.

I was determined not to wear black today, so I brought in a lot of non-black neutrals: beige, white, brown, and navy. Those boots are so comfortable - hard to believe for Target shoes - that I wore them all winter long.

Also, I am so in love with the ruffly flannel.

Look at that combo of hard and soft, elegant and rugged. LOVE!

That aubergine color is a pseudo-neutral in my book. If you catch it in the right light, it looks like it's brown, and other times, it looks like a nice, ripe eggplant. Lovely.

Here are my earrings, which I love. They've got that pretty design under the glossy green, and I do love green. These are actually the cheap-o earrings I wore for my sister's wedding, and I remember how pumped I was when I realized in the hotel room that they looked fabulous with my dress.

So, I had a pretty crappy morning at work. First there was the weird testing schedule with two proctoring sessions, then I got to my classroom and found that my computer wasn't working and that the box of half graded projects (complete with rubrics and peer grading sheets) had been tossed in the recycling - like, the school-wide paper recycling. Crap.
But, my kids were really cool about it, and I think I figured out a way to take care of the situation in a way that works for everyone, so by the time I got home, I was feeling more like this:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Manic Monday

Black turtleneck: Express
Black cardigan: Kohl's (remixed)
Black and white houndstooth skirt: Banana Republic
Black textured tights: Banana Republic
Black pumps: Steve Madden (remixed)
Silver earrings: gift from B.

All my full-length pictures today turned out like crap; I don't know why.
Today was a cold, rainy Monday in Philly, and I wasn't feeling that great, so comfort was key.

I realize just how much black I wear - I've got to do something about that. This outfit isn't all that exciting, but there are a couple details that I think make this a bit interesting.
First, the subtle pattern-mixing:

I like the detail of the houndstooth skirt with the texture of the tights - are they micro-fishnets? I don't know.

Second: the high waist on the skirt:

I love high waist lines. I don't know if they're the most flattering on me, but I think they're fun.

These earrings are beautiful - lovely and delicate - and were a gift from B. He gave them to me on our way to Pittsburgh for a wedding, and I thought they were perfect for today.

Finally, the only thing that makes me feel okay about rainy days:

Zebra print umbrella: Target

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Urban Cowgirl and a View Inside our Shop

Vintage striped/floral dress: ? thrifted and listed on my etsy
Denim jacket: Banana Republic
Brown woven belt: Target (remixed)
Brown cowboy boots: Nine West
Quartzy earrings: Kohl's (remixed)

These boots are so old and worn. I love them, even though I did not wear them to work even once this winter - mostly because I teach in the hood and I didn't want to spend the entire day fielding questions from students about whether I have a horse. It's silly, I know, but it does get annoying.
They have gotten plenty of wear outside of work, from the fall straight through to the spring. I'm worried that they're on their last legs, though. The toes are scuffed and worn, the inside of the heel is breaking, and the actually heels are showing some major wear. *sigh*

They've served me well, these boots, even though everyone in my family hates them - parents, sister, husband - I still love 'em.

I really loved the juxtaposition of hard and soft in this outfit, and I feel like this denim jacket gets that combo right all on its own. The Peter Pan collar and the detailing at the yoke are adorably soft, while the denim and the pockets are a bit more rugged. I think it tied all my pieces together well when I wore it as a blazer as Sal of Already Pretty talked about the other day.

Also, this weekend, B. and I put a bit more time into our etsy shop, organizing our items and working on storage that doesn't involve simply folding things up and putting them on our futon. Our house is way too stinkin' big for us, so we've got two empty rooms in the back, the smaller of which has turned into our shop. We set up a clothes rack (Philly closets aren't deep enough to hold hangers, and that is not a lie), dragged Roxanne (whose name should always be pronounced as said by the Unconscious Argentine in Moulin Rouge) - our mannequin - in, and set up our shoes, accessories, and packing supplies. All of this while we were still high from our third sale (whoo-hoo!).
We're far from having everything put away the way we'd like it, but it's a start, and I think it looks pretty stinkin' adorable.

And another shot:

Alright, I'm going to work on some inventory so I can fill up that rack.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deja Vu

Black shirt dress: Banana Republic Factory Store
Zebra print belt: Target (remixed)
Black flats: Naturalizer (remixed)
Red beaded bracelets: gifts from uncle and cousin
Elephant earrings: Kohl's (remixed)

This looks a whole lot like last Friday's outfit. I was tired this morning and this was so easy to put on, so I just went with it.

Besides, I love wearing black.

This is me modeling with Kiku to distract you from my boring outfit.
The bracelets, however, are kinda fun and funky. They are from the collection I've amassed courtesy of my uncle Papo who's all kinds of fabulous when it comes to style. One of them came from my cousin, who got it from my uncle. But said cousin saw me admiring his bracelet and gave it to me. Does that story sound familiar? Yeah, it's happened before.

How great does B. look?! Yes, he's a full foot taller than I am.
Anyway, here's the run down on his outfit:
Striped chambray shirt: Kohl's (gift from me)
Dark wash bootcut jeans: Old Navy - thrifted
White shoes (are they sneakers? are they bowling shoes?): Skechers (gift from my parents)

Also, he wanted me to take an extra picture of his shoes, just so the Web got a good look at them.

He's definitely learning after helping me take all these pics.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Black and Blue

Black boyfriend blazer: Apt. 9 - Kohl's
Black cami: Ann Taylor Loft (back when they used all three names)
Blue ruffle blouse: New York & Co.
Black skinnies: New York & Co.
Electric blue patent pumps: Nine West
Chandelier earrings: New York & Co.

So, I didn't realize how much of this outfit came from New York & Co. until now.... I guess I shop there quite frequently, too.

This is my version of a suit, and it's the first time I've felt comfortable wearing something suit-like.
We had parent teacher conferences today for the second time this school year. It's a half day for the students, we get an hour for lunch, and then we meet with parents from 1 - 8. Yeah, it's a crazy long day. And I get to teach all day tomorrow, too! Yay.
Anyway, the "suit" is the kind of thing you can wear to tell a parent that their child is smart, but isn't working up to his or her potential. Except that I had to funk mine up just a bit so I didn't feel like I should be working in a cube somewhere.

So I put on the bright blouse with the interesting ruffles and popped my collar. The boyfriend style blazer, with its rolled up sleeves and lovely pin-striped lining, gives this a more modern vibe instead of feeling quite so corporate. Plus, the combination of brights and the popped collar make me feel like I'm channeling the 80s, and I dig that.

Also, I love these shoes. They are supremely comfortable and oh-so-sassy. You may recognize the pants from Monday's outfit. When these things happen, I pretend to be European. (Side note: Why is it that in the States we feel like it's a crisis if we wear the same thing twice in a week?)

Ignore my crazy hair. Aren't my earrings pretty? Just the pop of color I needed.

And the textures in this outfit?

Sublime. Pinstripes on pinstripes on ruffles.

And now I'm exhausted. Seriously, EXHAUSTED. But at least these pants are comfortable.

This is me pretending to be dead when B. asked me how I was doing. I'm a classy girl.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This week has been insane. We had a dinner last night and I had a three hour dentist's appointment tonight. Tomorrow, I'll work from 7:30 am to 8 pm. So basically, I haven't been home to blog. So here are my outfits from yesterday and today.

Blue and white floral blouse: Banana Republic Factory Store
Brown high waisted pencil skirt: New York & Co. (remixed)
Brown woven belt: Target
Nude pumps: Nine West (remixed)
Fake pearl earrings: Target
Dog jumping on my leg for attention: Kiku

I've been wanting some florals to work into my wardrobe this spring, and realized that I already have some florals in my wardrobe. Imagine that.

So I pulled out this old shirt, which, with its floral print and ruffles, is very on trend for the spring. Problem solved.

This is my 1940s hair. I've been experimenting with washing my hair less often (TMI?) and have managed to go about 60 hours. This was for the last stretch of unwashed hair. I started with dirty hair, put it in pin curls, went to sleep, took out the pins, shook it out, and pinned the sides back. I don't think I've quite mastered the pin curls, but I do like how they completely change the texture of my natural curl.

Lilac tie neck shell: Ann Taylor
Black full skirt: Old Navy (remixed)
Grey boyfriend cardigan: Banana Republic Factory Store
Zebra print belt: Target (remixed)
Grey patent pumps: Steve Madden (remixed)
Quartzy earrings: Kohl's (remixed)

Confession: I've never worn this top out before today. It's been languishing in my closet since this fall, and I don't know why, because it's gorgeous.
Also, my pose above makes me look like I have a headache. Ha!

See how pretty those ties are? And I love the combination of lilac and grey.

This, however, is my favorite detail from today's outfit: the wild zebra print with my super lady-like outfit. I think it works to toughen this up a bit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grey embellished tunic: New York & Co.
Black tank (under tunic): Target
Black straight leg pants: New York & Co.
Black pumps: Steve Madden via Off Broadway Shoes
Earrings: Kohl's
Black boyfriend cardigan: Banana Republic (remixed)

I've been feeling sick since Friday night, and had to go into work today simply because I'm pretty sure I don't have any sick days left (I've been sick a lot this school year). So I went in with my man voice and fell back on an outfit that didn't require much thought.

I wore the cardigan for most of the day because I was so stinkin' cold.

I love the embellishment on this tunic, though. I saw it at the store and just Fell. In. Love. I think the color combo is pretty sophisticated and love the little gold threads woven in.

Usually I wear my elephant earrings with this tunic, but I decided to mix it up today, since I'd put so little thought into the outfit.
Not bad for feeling like crap.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's what y'all been waiting for

So, the reason for all the delays is this: B. and I are launching an Etsy shop. We've enjoyed scouring the stores for some fabulous vintage pieces and have managed to get ten items listed. Can we just discuss how time consuming listing is? Anyway, there should be more items listed in the days and weeks to come, so check it out and spread the word!

A few of my favorite items:

Glam Silver Clutch

Big Cats Animal Print Scarf

Tomato Red Secretary Blouse with the Anchors Away Navy Skirt


Tomato Red Linen Dress