Saturday, February 22, 2020

Artist Spotlight: Emily Winfield Martin

It's been a while since I've had a feature artist.  I wanted to take a moment to showcase the beautiful and whimsical work of Emily Winfield Martin.  From nautical mysteries to dancing bears and tattooed ladies, her work has everything I love.  I won's say any more about Emily, I'll just let her work speak for itself.
See more of Emily's work at emilywinfieldmartin.com
or shop for prints at TheBlackApple.etsy.com

Friday, February 21, 2020

Snow Storm

Snow Storm 
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,

And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet

Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed

In a tumultuous privacy of Storm.”
Shopping Info:Lace-up Back Star Pattern Surplice Blouse - $11.00 and Red skirt from SheIn from: SHEIN, matryoshka purse, hat and heels are old

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Animal Prints: Leopard Maxi

I'm like you, I hate it when I try to do a little research for style tips on how to wear something new and all that turns up are outfit photos.  I need information, not just how she wore it.  So, I thought I'd devote a little space in the blog today to talking about how to style animal prints.
Tip 1:  Animals are printed by God in neutral colors.  So, that's how they look their best, and guess what, you're not going to improve on it.  To that end, when it comes to choosing an animal print, stick to something in neutrals like black, white, gray, and brown.  When scientists discover a neon pink snake or a cerulean leopard, feel free to start wearing those colors in animal prints, til then, don't--just don't.
Tip 2:  Just because you shouldn't make a habit of wearing prints in color doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't accessorize with color.  For this leopard print maxi dress, I chose bright orange patent leather pumps and a coral lip color.  I'd avoid orange when it comes to black and white animal prints so you don't look like a traffic sign or a Halloween nightmare, but other bright hues look lovely with black& white animal prints like a bold pink or a cobalt blue.
Tip 3:  Jewelry, please.  Personally, I love chunky gold jewelry when it comes to accessorizing animal prints.  I avoid bangles and bags made from wood and straw because it starts to look a little too safari.  If that's your goal, then by all means carry on, but if you want city chic instead of jungle hunter, stick with metallics and perhaps a velvet hat or suede boots.
Tip 4:  The Cut Matters.  Before writing this post, I did a quick poll of friends and co-workers about animal prints.  I noticed that none of them ever wore animal prints and I was curious as to why.  The reasons varied but the most common response was either too risqué or too trashé.  
I definitely think that animal prints make a statement and it takes some confidence to wear them, but when it comes to risqué (or trashy as the case may be), the cut and style have far more to do with that than the print.  Choose a tasteful maxi (ala today's post) or a sophisticated blouse and the print will only enhance the overall look.
Tip 5:  You can always start small.  I think the best way to try something new is go really big or really small.  I've so enjoyed styling snake prints, that I wanted to try a leopard print, and so I looked around and this maxi dress is what really stole my heart, but it wasn't what I started out looking for.  
My first thought was to find some cute flats or basic pumps in a leopard print and pair them with a little black dress.  Starting with shoes, a belt, or scarf is an excellent way to test the waters on a new style trend without getting in over your head.  But, even if you try something bold and you don't love it, love the fact that you took a chance and tried something new.  Remember, fashion is supposed to be fun, not stressful, so do what works best for you. 
and similar Point Toe Slingback Stiletto Heels from: SHEIN

Monday, February 17, 2020

Creme et Noir

It's been ages since I've done a sewing project post, so I thought it was time to bring this one off the shelf.  To be honest, I took these photos somewhere in the January to February '19 time frame.  
Butterick Retro Pattern B5748 Black Ivory Lace Handmade Dress Autumn Fashion Classic
Those cold winter months are when I do most of my sewing since I'm trapped indoors and fortunately, the landscape stayed lovely all through the bitter chill, so I decided to save this one for the upcoming autumn and the only giveaway, really is how much shorter my hair was last year compared to this year.
    Did you ever search for something and never really be satisfied?  I'm beginning to think that being obsessive is just part for the course with most creative types.  For several years I was completely obsessed with black and cream.  I have no idea why, but in my mind it was the classic combination and proved, oddly enough, very hard to find.  
I found plenty of black and white or black and tan, but black and ivory was a rare duo in the fashion world.  I think this obsession went on for two or three years and turned up very little and not much that was worth holding onto, so I don't have any examples left of that mad time of searching.  
    Perhaps “mad” is too severe.  I like having projects, little things I'm working on or hunting for, but this one lasted an atypically long time.  Maybe I'm just that good—I usually find what I'm looking for within a few months to a year—or maybe this was just the illusive white whale of fashion searches—minus the disturbing nautical vengeance element. 
I still like black and cream, but I ceased obsessing years ago and I don't even type it into my search engines anymore.  However, when I was digging through my stacks of vintage fabric, looking for my next dress making projects last winter, I came across this little black and ivory floral print and thought of my years of hunting for something just like this.
  I knew exactly what I would make and how I would style it with this ivory eyelet blouse and some cute eyelet oxfords.  It's taken me about a year to actually get the time to make this dress; it got buried under newer fabrics and styles, but as I was wrapping up my sewing for the winter, I knew I couldn't let this one sit another year. 
     It would have been perfect for autumn last year, but since I missed out, I wanted to be sure to have it ready for this year.  It could be a subtle homage to Halloween over an outright witch and black cat printed number that costs $80, goes on sale immediately on November 1st for less than half the original price and only gets worn once a year, but it can also be more than just a Halloween dress.
  This dress has lots of months of wear ahead of it.  For example, in autumn I'll pair it with rust and brown.  In winter pale blue or warm red will look nice, and in spring a nice pastel pink with a floral cab necklace will be perfect.  Summer may be the only season it will sit in the closet.  It really is too hot to wear black here in the summer
Shopping Info: Anthropologie top, Wool Cape from Chicwish, handmade dress, vintage cameo

Saturday, February 15, 2020

AmorDress: Love Journey

Victorian Cabochon Necklace, Nautical watercolor clipartLavender Rose Art,Lilac Flower Wall Art from Etsy.com

I love to feature AmorDresses every now and then, because these are prints I can't find anywhere else.  A few years ago I bought this Love Journey dress from Amor in white and since they tend to carry popular patterns for a while, I decided this was my year to go back and get it in purple.
The dress is lovely, of course, but I should mention that I have slightly altered the color for this post.  Purple is one of those colors that can be really tricky to photograph, and this particular shade is more lavender-gray than the violet color I've made it for these pics.  The photo below probably best shows its actual color.
I don't normally do lots of photo editing, but it does seem that every time there's something purple in the mix, I have to do some serious color adjustment.  That's fine by me, it hones my skills and creates a very dreamy lavender landscape.

Shopping Info:  LOVE JOURNEY : Balloon world map dress Swing Dance Dress summer dress whimsical sundress vintage inspired dress party dress grayish purple

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hearts Aflutter

Painting, Ring, Confetti, Pillow, Mice from Etsy.com
Valentine's day has rolled around again, and I've noticed that my posts about this holiday tend to be what I like to call up-beat bummers also known by the rest of the world as "realistic."  This year's post promises to be more of the same.  Why?  Because.  Tradition.  That's why.
Lately, like for the last five years, I've been in a television rut.  Nothing interests me.  It all seems like vapid trash.  But, sometimes, I need to sit down and zone out, and in particular to laugh, especially at the end of a long and difficult day.  So, to remedy the t.v. drought, I've taken to going back to old favorites to start from the beginning and watch them again.  
My one and only rule is that I don't binge watch.  There's no point really, because I've seen them before and I know they're not making any more, so I have to pace myself and save them for those tough days.  I've revisted, News Radio, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Frasier, Psych, and most recently 30 Rock.
I've always related to 30 Rock.  There's a little Liz Lemon in all of us, but I feel like I have more than my fair share, down to the way she played with her grandmother's elbow skin and her generally sour attitude towards Valentine's Day.  I may not have taken it as far as deciding to call it Anna Howard Shaw day in honor of the women's suffrage leader like L.L. did, but I've gotten pretty close.  
Like Liz, I've never had a spectacular Valentine's Day and more often than not they've been disastrous, so I think it's only natural to go through a time of refusing to celebrate.  But then, in a departure from L.L.'s character....I had to open the door to love in all the forms it takes and the possibility of having maybe not a perfect storybook V-Day, but a splendid one all the same.  
Since that turning point, I can safely say, they've all been good and mainly because I decided to turn them into a day of celebrating the fact that I love people and they love me too instead of waiting for Romeo to sweep me off my feet.  
Every year, I wear something particularly pink, girly, and/or covered in hearts and I do something special, typically handmade, for all the people close to my heart.  Sometimes they reciprocate.  Sometimes they don't.  But that's not the point.  Love is all about how much you give rather than how much you get.
February isn't just the month for lovers, it's the month of love and it's important to celebrate all the love that you have in your life, because love in itself is the very greatest gift.
Shopping Info: ModCloth A-Line Hearts Aflutter Dress, and The Zest Is History Heel

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Love and Such

Yes, it is that time of year when she wears tons of red and talks about love--A lot!  But, why not?!
 I have so many people that I truly love in my life, it's a pretty awesome gift, and I'm totally in love with being a hopeful romantic.
So, roll out the hearts, and the chocolates and bring on the red dresses, because Valentine's Day is almost here!
Shopping Info:  Raileen Dress from StopStaring.com, Chelsea Crew Heels from ModClothCamel Waterfall Duster Belted Long Coat from FemmeLuxeFinery.co.uk
© Bleu Avenue. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.