Outfit of the Day: Peplumed and Booted in Black

We had a very satisfying day, the highlight of which was performing at an open mic of 20 talented songwriters in Duluth, Georgia (see Eddie Owen Presents).  It was a freakishly cold day and that meant only one thing — time to awaken the sleeping jackets!

OK. . . I look like a duck. Quack.

This jacket was a thrift store find. I bought it for 3 reasons: 1) it’s well made, 2) it’s velvet but matte, and 3) it has a peplum.

I love a peplum. I was unaware that it made a comeback recently but I don’t care much for trends. In fact, I love peplumed garments because they remind me of bustles, which will probably never be resurrected.  Sure, Vivienne Westwood made a go at it and they looked smashing on the runway. But I can’t see a modern woman sporting a bustle.  Can you? How would she drive her car without flattening the thing? Just imagine her making a grand entrance to a party with deflated bunched-up fabric against her bum. Sad.

Peplums are like demure bustles. They say, “I want to make your butt look bigger, but not too much, OK? Heehee!” Why exactly this excites me, I can’t say.  It sure does amuse me.  Maybe it’s because I like a little humor in what I wear.

I confess: I’m a little knock-kneed.

A view from the top!

And here are my vintage Dr. Martens 20-eye lace boots. I got them for a steal at Ebay from a very nice seller. They are unique because they don’t have the trademark yellow stitching DMs usually have.

Haha, I say that now but, to be honest, after I bid on them, I started sweating bullets when I noticed too late the lack of yellow along the sides.  “Fake”, my brain whispered.  Maybe . . .  Then Bronne pointed out another disturbing thing: the soles are not the usual transparent DM soles with the ridges.  “FAKE!!!”, my brain screamed.  As the end of bidding neared, I stared at my laptop and willed someone to bid even just a mere 50 cents higher than me.  But, alas, I won. And the evil shoe gods laughed with glee.

Then I did a little googling. OK, a lot of it. I learned that DM does produce non-yellow-stitched boots and their soles are not always transparent. In fact, these were Made in England and they have a registered no. on their soles that can be traced and thus proves THEY ARE NOT FAKE. So take that, evil shoe gods. Who’s laughing now, you cruel clog deities!

Anyways, I love these boots. I’m very partial to combat-looking boots. Probably because they remind me of my dad’s army boots. My dad is/was the best man I know and his choices and actions have shaped my life tremendously. He was a proud military officer, but a gentle man. He used to bring us to his barracks when my brother and I were kids and we christened his men, according to their physical appearances, after characters from the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’. I was mesmerized whenever they did their formations. And their marching chants to the rhythm of boots against the ground were music to my ears.

Why I included this photo, I don’t know. I hate my face sometimes. Especially tonight. I thought I looked good but this photo, snickering, proved otherwise. But I’m posting it to memorialize my hair, to show everyone WHY NOT TO CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Yes. I cut my own hair. Back in the Philippines, my mom usually cut my hair. When I wanted to get pampered, I would walk to the next street and have our neighbor cut it. She ran a salon from her living room. It smelled of dye and burnt hair from hair dryers. No fancy salon sinks here. Clients bend over to get shampooed from a bathroom-type sink, their crowns often greeted by the faucet jutting out — bonk!  Anyways, my hair loved Nancy-the-friendly-neighborhood-hairdresser.  It thrived after she cut it.

So, because I can’t imagine anyone else cutting my hair here, I started doing it. It’s not so bad NOW. But there was a time I didn’t have my glasses on and I cut my hair. Hahaha. That was 2 months worth of hat-wearing.

And because Bronne wanted to memorialize his outfit, I’m including it here.

Look at him. His eyes are half-closed but he still looks great (grumble!). Guess who cuts his hair? (Evil grin.)

This is Bronne’s signature look: black top and red pants. It took us a long time to find him red jeans and I think we got these at Marshall’s or Ross, two of our very favorite shops. Actually, we call them our treasure haunts.  We go through the racks until we find a treasure and for a bargain, too. I got my first pair of Dr. Martens from a Ross.  Bronne found two very nice Ben Sherman button-downs for a song (“♪♫ Twenty Dollars! Twenty Dollars! ♪♫). Often we leave empty-handed, but that just makes the treasure hunt more exciting each time!

His red-striped Addidas sneakers. I almost typed ‘rubber shoes’ which gives you a clue how ancient I am.

Who am I kidding? I practically revealed it when I mentioned the comic strip, ‘Beetle Bailey’.

Bronne has a collection of belt buckles. This, I think is one of his top three faves. He’s Superman, my husband, and his kryptonite: belt buckles and British-branded shirts!!! This superhero goes weak-kneed at the sight of a unique buckle or a Ben Sherman shirt. On sale, of course.

And lastly,

Bronne sandwiched between red pillows, having a conversation with Ladybug. He’s telling her about our open mic experience, which was pretty good. But, boy, were we tired tonight.

I wanted to be in this photo but Katie refused to take our picture. What a diva.

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Shoe-crazy

I confess that I’ve recently gone shoe-crazy.  I bought several pairs online within this month alone. So ashamed am I of my spending spree that I’ve yet to tell Bronne how many pairs I’ve bought exactly. Just now I took a pause to count them all.  I cringe.

But here I am, all covered in shame-induced goose pimples, blogging about my new shoes — several of which I’ve yet to receive.  Despite my shame I knew that, once USPS and FedEX came to drop my purchases off at my doorstep, I’d be too thrilled to feel remorse.  Only today I received a very big box containing my thigh-high boots. Bronne remarked how beautiful I looked as I beamed happily when he handed me my package. That made me feel a little guilty.

I can justify my recent footwear frenzy with two reasons: First, an important upcoming birthday. More than any occasion, I’ve always treated myself when I’ve a birthday coming up. Second, I wanted to reward myself for having lost weight recently — YAY!!! Still, treating and rewarding oneself is a far cry from my shoe-shopping extravaganza.

I used to distrust online shops. I believed that most of them aren’t legit or are just out to dupe you of more money when you’re about to check out.  But, about 2 months ago, I bought 2 pairs of Doc Martens at the outlet shop, mjrsales.com. I got them for way less than half the price because they were both “New with Defects“.  What defects, you may ask? Both pairs had the word “sample” written on their soles. Because I don’t walk around exposing the soles of my shoes to people, I was fine with it.  So happy was I with my new purchases that I allowed myself to venture to another online shop . . . then another . . .  then another . . .

Though I went shoe-crazy, I shopped only for great deals. There are lots of nice-looking low-priced shoes out there, but not all of them are made well and with choice materials.  I’m not into trends. I buy clothes and shoes that I feel good about and I know will last me years.  So I did my research on shoe labels and read reviews on fit and construction on shoes that I really liked.  Not all of them passed my standards.  When they do, I’d ask myself, “Am I willing to pay this much for this fantastic pair of  footwear fabulousness?” Often, the answer was no. But, guilty me, a few times the answer was OMIGOD–YES!!!

An example of a “OMIGOD–YES!!!!” moment would be when I saw this pair here:

The Messeca Coraline Pink Tie-Dye Wedge

I love shoes that are either quirky/fun or dark/deadly.  The Messeca Coraline in Pink Tie-Dye falls into the first category and I saw myself enjoying many Springs and Summers wearing them.  I know they were the IN shape  two years ago and now lower-priced copies abound online.  I don’t know how original Messeca‘s design is.  My only concern was how stable and easy-to-wear they were. I wouldn’t want to be strutting around in my quirky and fun wedges only to wobble clumsily to the floor. That would be no fun. But I chose to believe the reviews that said they were pretty comfy and stable, and I bought them.

Comparing different shops, the Messeca Coraline’s original price ranges from a jaw-dropping $350 to a still head-shaking $170.  But, after some googling and coupon hunting, I got them from karmaloop.com for — wait for it — $27.16, including shipping!  They’re still for sale, too, so if you like ’em, go to this page and see if they have your size!

I didn’t have to wait long because Karmaloop.com sent me my wedges in two days! Here are some (phone) pics.

The tie-dye uppers are made of real leather and the heel is made from light wood, not plastic which I  hate.  The suede-like foot bed keep your bare or socked feet from sliding forward as you walk.  And the soles are rubber and keeps  klutzes like me from slipping!

POSITIVES: They’re quite comfy and, if you’re used to walking in heels, easy to walk in. NEGATIVES: They wobble a bit on uneven ground and walking downhill can be a challenge — not unusual for wedges, though.

The Messeca Coraline Wedges are high but the hidden platform makes the height manageable.

I’m not a pink-loving girl but I love these shoes PRECISELY because they’re tie-dyed pink.  Bronne felt iffy about the color and we both agreed that a darker color would probably fit my mostly-black wardrobe better.  Then today — what a coincidence! — I chanced upon another pair of Messeca Coralines at ashburyskies.com:

The Messeca Coraline Multi-Metallic

They were on sale from $169.95 to $59! But despite my footwear-frenzy, my frugal self surfaced. I knew I wasn’t going to part with almost $60 for this pair, especially after paying less than half of that for the pink tie-dye ones.  So I went coupon hunting again and found one that takes $20 off any purchase. So I got them for $39, with free shipping, I’m quite happy-ashamed to say.  Hey! They’re still on sale and in 3 colors, too, so click this and find out if the site has your size!

That’s just the tip of my shoe-crazed iceberg, folks. And I’d rather not talk about my other shoes. Yet. 🙂

MHL Project: Spats from Dad’s Old Leather Jacket

A contraction of spatterdashes, spats are a type of footwear accessory covering the instep and ankle. They first came out in the late 19th century from military origins.  They were worn to protect shoes from dust, mud, water, etc.  You’ve probably seen them before but didn’t know what they were called.  I sure didn’t.

Spats and the tropical heat and humidity in the Philippines do not mix.  You’d be a fool to wear long socks — much more if you wear spats.  But here in Georgia, with it’s cold and often windy fall and winter months, they are great for keeping your legs warm.  Also, I like the way they look on my legs. 🙂

My latest project is to make spats from my dad’s old leather jacket.

I wish I had the photo of my dad happily wearing his Wilson’s leather jacket.  He bought it in Hawaii in the 80’s when he was touring the US with a theatre troup.  When he came home to the Philippines, with it’s tropical and humid climate, he never got to wear it again.  It hung in my parent’s closet for a decade.  He took it out once to clean it with mink oil and officially gave it to me.  It was too big for me but my brother didn’t want it.  I cared for it after that, cleaned it the way he showed me.  But I never got to wear it.

Bronne didn’t get to meet my dad but I knew my dad wouldn’t have minded him to have his jacket.  Before he left for Georgia, I showed Bronne the leather jacket and it fit him perfectly.  Plus, Georgia’s winters would assure that it will get worn again.  I was glad that it was going to have new adventures with a new owner three decades later.

It spent two months travelling in a crate with the many things I couldn’t leave behind.  Maybe I didn’t pack it carefully enough (although I thought I did); maybe it was the many years it hung unused in my parent’s jam-packed closet.  Whatever it was, the moment Bronne put my dad’s leather jacket on, the seam along the spine and right arm ripped.

I deliberated on how to mend it, or if it could still be saved.  One thing I was sure of, it won’t get thrown away or donated.  Just thinking about how my dad beamed while wearing it in his Hawaii photo, I knew I had to keep it or, at least, a part of it with me.  Two years after I stored it along with my other future projects, I finally made my mind up to make my own spanking pair of spats.

Here they are:

It entails sewing but it’s not that hard and is inexpensive, too.  Aside from the jacket, I used seam binding, two leather strips, two 8-inch garters, two buttons, needle and thread, some alligator clips, and a pair of scissors.

I prepared a gif slide show to show you how I made it.  If you have questions, please feel free to ask via comment section.

The leather strips I used came from leather pants I thrifted recently.  The garters I used have holes in them for buttoning.  I salvaged them from some old clothes I got from freecycle,but I’m sure you can get it at any craft or fabric store.  I thought mine were black but they turned out to be dark blue and it shows in the photo.  But they helped hold my spats up and kept them from turning round and round while I walked.  I wore them for a whole evening at an art exhibit and they stayed in place like a good doggy.  Plus, they received a couple of nice compliments so they’re very pleased.

I’m planning to turn the rest of the jacket into a leather vest, since I don’t have one (and have always wanted a none-sleazy-looking one).  It’s going to be a challenge because the leather has lost its strength and suppleness.  But I’m going to do it so watch out for that.

I hope this inspires you to upcycle your old stuff, or maybe even to make your very own pair of spats.  Happy upcycling! 🙂

I am not Fatist

I am wearing pigtails, a scarf, a long-sleeved violet T-shirt, a thin knitted loose-fitting top, a necklace an ex gave me, and velvet-but-not-too-shiny yoga pants -- and all because it was all that could fit me. 😦

I need to lose weight.

I’ve slowly put on the pounds since I got here.  Can’t really give an exact number pounds-wise, but I guess I’ve been carrying an extra 25-30 pounds with me.  I hate it.

Oh, Man Hands Lizzie, you’re a fatist!  Fat can be beautiful!  Women come in all shapes and sizes! You should love yourself no matter how much you weigh!

How can I love myself when I can’t even go up a flight of stairs without wheezing?  Or wake up feeling slow and sluggish, and end the day feeling the same?  Or walk and feel pain on the soles of my feet because of how heavy I’ve become?

You can’t judge me until you’ve slipped into my skinny jeans, is all I’m saying.  And this is about me and my well-being.  So just to make things clear, I am not saying I have anything against fat people.  But I am saying that I don’t want to be one because it’s not making me feel healthy and happy.

This has become a real issue for me since I started performing as half of HE SANG SHE SANG.

First off, I’ve been having a torturous time thinking of what to wear.  I’m at that point where I can’t just suck in my gut and look better.  Now, when I suck in my gut, I still have some spilling out.  When I’m activating my diaphragm, as singers do when they sing properly, I get very conscious of my rolls of fat in full view of the audience.  I’m also no longer at that stage where I can bare my slender legs and hide my tummy because my stems have become just as padded.  Thinking of an outfit to wear for a gig is no longer exciting or fun.  I now dread it because I know I’m not going to find anything with which I’d be 100% happy.   I just come out “making do” with what I have, and that’s a really hard thing for me to admit.

When I was younger, a friend of mine watched me put an outfit together and remarked, “I guess you know yourself so well you can put on anything and be happy with it.”  I told her the only reason why I can “put on anything and be happy with it” is because I felt thin and healthy enough to feel that way.  What happened to me and where is that girl she admired?

Anyways, for the past two weeks, every-other-day, I’ve been brisk-walking for an hour.  I’m getting ready to run again.  Running is a passion of mine and I used to run almost everyday before my accident.  Since I’m too heavy to run right away, brisk-walking is a great alternative to building some muscle on my legs, especially my thighs, before I do actual runs.  Tomorrow, I believe my legs are ready.

I’ve also been careful of what I eat.  I’ve stopped drinking cola and eating chips.  I’ve been eating more veggies.  Saturday nights, though, I pig-out.  We get free food at Zen on Ten, this lovely Asian bistro and sushi bar at which we’ve been playing, and their food is fabulously delicious.  So after our gig, we feast on our complimentary meal at home as we watch a film on our laptop.  I sometimes also enjoy a bottle of Red Rock ginger ale.

I’m looking forward to running tomorrow.  My legs have been raring to do it since last week.

Anyways, hope you all have a great week!

Please LIKE the HE SANG SHE SANG Facebook page! Click me!

P.S.

Please visit our He Sang She Sang Blog and read all about our latest gripe: venue owners and festival organizers who ask you to play for free but never say “thank you”.

Where do You Go, My Lovely?

That question — 6 words… It was enough to get me out of the stupor in which I’ve been, blog-wise.   It was a recent comment from Audrey of the lovely, lovely blog, homerunballerina.  She was/is my inspiration for blogging about my love for crafts and clothes-thrifting.  Getting a comment from her, no matter how short, was like getting a gentle pixie dust shower from a blog fairy.  (Clearly, I have lost my touch for metaphors and for writing.)  So, many thanks to you Audrey: blog fairy, outfit magic mix-and-matcher, and culinary concoction-aire.

So, where did I go?  I haven’t touched my craft projects in months.  I’ve written nothing but song lyrics.  No seriously exciting thrifting done recently.  The pollen season stunted my daily morning run progress and now I feel FAT.  I let my hair grow long and just snip off the ends of my bangs occasionally so I won’t bump into furniture.  Even on a gig night, which used to be the best reason for me to dress up fun and fabulous, recently, I’ve gotten too lazy to mix up my outfits.  I wear the same pair of black boots despite having a THOUSAND pairs of shoes of all styles and shapes, according to my mother (she exaggerates, of course).  One time, we had a show and I said, “Oh, to hell with it” and wore a ratty T-shirt and faded blue jeans.  I guess you can say Man Hands Lizzie has been and IS IN a rotten rut.

Do you know: I HAVEN’T EVEN WORN THE STUFF I MADE recently?  I’d try my floral fascinator/headband or beaded jewelry on and then go, “Blerghh. Nevermind.”  Then take them off.  I don’t know why, but the joy of wearing my projects went kaput along with the joy of making them.

I go through my blog from time and time and am amazed.  I did this and that?  I wrote this?  I wore that and posed that way?  I think I made nice things and looked kind-of-good enough for me to allow myself to post my pictures.  But I go through my entries and almost feel like I’m reading the words and ideas and looking at a different person.

One of my favorite thrifted skirts (for less than a dollar). It's reptilian and forgiving and goes well with black. 🙂

I am not depressed.  I am not unhappy.  I’m a little unwell from pollen (darn you, pollenssss!!!) allergies but I’m actually having a great time even if I don’t have enough energy to show my enthusiasm.  I’m feeling … very mellow.  I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

I’m just in a rut.   I need a new body — or want my old one back.  Maybe it’s time to shave my head again! (Which I did some 11 years ago.  Just cut off my pigtails at midnight, wore a bonnet the next day so my mom wouldn’t know what I did, and went to the barbershop — to the barber that shaved the heads of the ROTC boys and told him I wanted to be completely bald.  He acted like I asked him to cut my legs off and tut-tutted the whole time he was shaving me.  But, in the end, he stepped back and said I had a nicely-shaped head.)  Maybe I should get rid of all my clothes and start fresh.  I’m in that stage where I can’t get rid of my old clothes because I know I can get back in them once I lose weight.  But in the meantime, they are taking up space in my closet, waiting… waiting…

What to do?

🙂

MHL Project Preview: Pink Rose Fascinator

FASCINATOR sounds like a name for an evil siren-like villain, a temptress that could paralyze men with her fatal beauty.

But, really, according to… errr… Wikipedia, a fascinator was originally a “fine, lacy head covering akin to a shawl and made from wool or lace”.  By the 70’s, it had acquired a new meaning: “a delicate, slightly-to-very frivolous head decoration worn almost exclusively by women”.

I like fascinators.  I like women who wear them.  Only the brave and the bold ones (and a few, let’s face it, slightly delusional ones) can wear them with conviction.  Sometimes, I see women who wear flowered or frilled headbands but I feel they lack confidence to go for the real attention-getter version.  For the shy and reserved me, a fascinator is an ATTITUDE BAROMETER.  If I wake up one day and itch to wear one, I know that I’m feeling very good about myself.

I made this pretty Pink Rose Fascinator using tulle and felt.  I sewed everything together.  I understand why some people prefer using the glue gun for their projects, but I’ve always had an aversion to gluing things I wear.  I’ve had a couple of those in the past and they never last because, after a while, the glue gives up.  It also ruins the fabric, and makes it useless for recycling.

When I wore this out, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I noticed some curious stares but, thankfully, I never got ones that said: “what-was-she-thinking?”  A couple women stared at my head then gave me an approving nod.  A guy passed me and said, “Hey, nice hair thingie”.  So I’m pretty pleased with it.

I know, I know.  The Pink Rose Fascinator is quite understated, almost conservative.  One day, I’m going to make a big one — a real show stopper!  One that would say: “Hey, Everybody!  I feel snazzy today!  Look at me!!!”  And if I’m brave, I’d wear it in public.  It would be the perfect thing to wear to a performance. Imagine that!  Me rocking Mildred with a huge freaking fascinator topping my head!!!

Possibly after downing a glass of wine.

MHL Upcycle: Make Accessories from an Old Belt, Part 2

Hello, lovelies!  This is part two of my latest MHL Upcycle.  If you haven’t read part one, I featured a leather bag tag I made from a old red leather belt I got at Union Thrift.   Today I’ll be sharing the other accessory I made: the silver studded leather cuff.

I’m really excited about this one. 🙂  Here it is!

For this project, I used the hole-y end of the belt (haha!).

It took me some time to figure out how to keep the cuff in place.  In the end, I decided to use large snaps.  I measured the cuff and marked where the snaps should be.  I used a push pin to make holes into the tough leather (again, with lots of elbow grease), and threaded in some wire to keep the snap in place.

Then I attached the partner snap on the other end.  Now, since this is the visible end of the cuff, I added a silver rectangular bead on the opposite side to hide the wires.  This bead also gives me something to hold on to when I’m snapping the cuff closed.

To cover the belt holes, I chose more silver beads.  The first picture shows that I used more of the silver butterflies that I used for my leather bag tag, but I actually ended up alternating them with rose-engraved round beads.  I just threaded the beads this time using brown nylon thread.  Wires would have been less comfy against the skin.

Now, here’s a very good tip.  Wonder why both projects don’t show signs of having been cut?  It’s because I coated the exposed leather with dark red nail polish.  Good, eh?  It also helps protect the leather from wear and tear.

So, there it is!  My very own one-of-a-kind silver studded leather cuff!  I’ve been wearing it for the past couple of days and it’s a delight to look at.  I’m also happy to report that, so far, the snaps have kept it on my wrist even as I’m doing my chores.

I still have some parts of the belt: 7 silver animals, bits of red leather, and a silver buckle.  I have yet to think of a project for them but I know I’ll cook something up eventually.

I hope you enjoyed this project!  Have a lovely day! (Blows a kiss.)