It was always a battle, this hair of mine. Now, in my 50s, faced with it falling out from a combination of medication and menopause, it was time to do something. Initially, that "Something" was going to be a very shirt pixie cut, or perhaps a wig. I knew it couldn't take much more heat styling, and smoothing it with a flat iron wasn't working any longer anyway. One night, scrolling through Tumblr someone linked to Naturally Curly, and I clicked the link. I read one article after the next, effectively un-learning more than a half century's worth of bad hair advice.
To be fair, my mother had no idea how to deal with hair like mine, so she straightened it with giant rollers, hairdryers, and whatever lotion and potion was being sold to do the job. My hair would break a lot, which led to me wearing shorter hairstyles. It wasn't a big deal when I was young-my hair was pretty resilient at that point.
There's a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) ideas about class tied up in hair like mine, and I have an early memory of my mother telling me that people with curly hair looked like they had lice festering in it. Coming from a woman with stick-straight blonde hair you can interpret that as you like.
So I'm giving my hair a break, and seeing what happens. I'm not promising I won't go back to blow-drying it out, but for the moment, I'm learning a bit about myself (and my hair) and seeing what happens. Essentially, the less I do to it, the better it looks. Who'd have known?
I also learned that spray hair gel is a miracle in a bottle.
And cheap, leave-in conditioner ain't bad either.
Just beware there's a learning curve with the gel 😀. You CAN overdo it!
When did it start, this enthusiasm for interesting clothes? Unlike many people that develop a taste for fashion over time, I can trace mine to a specific incident. I was about four years old, and was shopping with my mother at Turnstyle-a sort of big box store that we had in the Chicago area. It was a great place with a large toy section, costume jewellery (I bought a Mood Ring there) record department, and clothes. Oh goodness, the clothes!
My toddler self wasn't much different from my menopausal self with respect to magpie qualities. It sparkles? Shiny things? Sold! Except I was shopping with my mother who didn't develop a taste for sequins until the 80s and then only to adorn a tee shirt here and there. Now I ask you, how could a child with such a deep love for the sparkling, twinkling metallic plastic be expected to accept her mother's refusal to purchase a full length, sheath-style evening gown in red white and blue sequins? I knew I couldn';t wear it, of course but I couldn't see any good reason that she would want to pass on it. It was...well, probably horrible in a "Let's copy a Bob Mackie and sell it to housewives" kind of way but that just makes it all the better. She didn't want the gown, so I did what any small child being denied the flashiest thing she'd ever seen would do-I threw myself into a display bin of underwear and screamed bloody murder between sobs, as you do. She still wouldn't buy the dress. She bought me a water-globe instead to shut me up. I never did forget that gown though, and in one way or another I'm still pursuing it. You can be quite certain if a red, white and blue sequin gown ever crosses my path, I'm going to buy it. Meanwhile, I wear what I like and enjoy getting dressed. It might not always be flashy, but it is definitely, me.
Conventional wisdom is that large, middle aged old women should wear neutrals, in non-bulky fabrics and.../well, no. I'm not wearing a steady rotation of black and beige, and if bulky knits add a few pounds, who cares? I know the fact I have a teenager is misleading, but trust me, I have more years behind me than ahead and I don't intend to spend what's left dressed in a style I'm uncomfortable with because of the number of candles on my birthday cake. And I'm going to eat that birthday cake too, thanks very much. Embrace your inner toddler and wear that which you desired but were denied. You're an adult now-who's going to stop you? By all means, if neutrals are your thing-wear them! But please, please, please, don't let anyone dictate what you should like.
OK, stepping down off the soapbox now...
Vintage acrylic polo neck-Goodwill
Vintage acrylic cardigan-Goodwill
Vintage acrylic crochet skirt-New Life Thrift (I think?)
Vintage Johanssen handbag-Can't remember
Vintage Monet necklace-Thrift World
Scarf on bag-swiped it from Danny's collection
Have these boots featured on the blog at any point? I can't remember. Bought them ages ago in the sales at Target, and wore the daylights out of them on the farm as they're flat, vinyl and are easy to clean mud off of. Had I known how indestructible they'd turn out to be, I'd have bought them in brown as well. The regret is right up there with the sequined gown, and I keep hoping someday I'll find another pair in a thrift store. Learn from my mistakes-buy in quantity when you find something good. In the 90s I bought 10 pair of black ballerina flats and was on my last pair when Danny was a baby. That's not bad!
I don't always, "Borrow" my kid's scarves-I bought this one for myself. I'm not a Leo, but how could I resist this fantastic print?
Do I get bonus points for a skirt that matches the colours so well? I don't know what the odds of that happening are, but this seems like a very rare coincidence. I loved how they looked together.
Photos don't accurately show how gorgeous this scarf is.
Polo neck-retail, a few years ago
Vintage cha-cha braceletes-both Goodwill
Rings-=all over and gifts
I don't just love flashy clothes though. I appreciate classic, well made items as well, though I do struggle putting together a more quiet, understated look.
In my experience, throwing a brooch and pearls at most suits will work.
Matching shoes and handbag to round out the look.
Vintage suit-a vintage shop about 20 years ago
Pearls-can't remember, probably Jordan Marsh in the 90s
Vintage earrings-yard sale
Sometimes I like mixing a conservative looking item like this vintage Pendleton skirt with an unexpected accessory like high heeled clogs. The contrast is there, but not so strange that it feels awkward. I enjoy wearing something that's slightly out of place to lessen the formality of a piece-sort of like wearing a beaded evening jacket with jeans. The bag is also slightly different from the one in the last set of photos, if you look closely.
Couldn't be bothered to crop the photos-ooops! You can see my hat boxes at the top of the stairs.
Vintage Pendleton skirt-Goodwill
Vintage ACTIII velvet jacket-Goodwill
Vintage handbag-can't remember
Clogs-retail ages ago
Bangles-antique shop and Goodwill
Vintage Monet pendant necklace-Goodwill, I think
Standing beside the highway in a 50s lace gown. Why not?
The netting on this poor dress shreds a bit more with each wear but isn't terribly obvious so I keep wearing it. Eventually it will fall apart. I don't typically wear a shirt beneath it, but it IS January.
I'll leave you with a photo of the pillow I didn't buy, even though it matched my coat. Sometimes you just have to say, "No." Hope January is treating everyone well.
First things first-it snowed! I took Roland (The snowman's head that lives in my freezer) out to frolic in the snow with his favourite bottle of gin. Yeah, the neighbours all saw-along with some random person driving down the street 😀. So that was fun, and it gave me an opportunity to wear a dress in this year's Pantone colour-Living Coral. Finally, a colour I can wear.
Most of my frolicking has been indoors of late as it has been cold, damp, and windy.
Finally got round to wearing this sweater/70s bath rug I bought last year. Sometimes I need to live with a piece for a bit before deciding how to wear it. If I owned white polyester flares, that would make a good early spring look, but I don't so it was gold trousers and a black long-sleeved shirt beneath for warmth. I remember similarly shaped/cut clothing, but never anything made of this yarn/carpet material.
Gold Kay Unger trousers-Hand-Me-Ups
Clogs-retail about 15 years ago
Vintage tote bag-Goodwill
Gold bangles-all over
Sometimes, no matter the weather, I need a little glam in my life. Enter the mesh romper/playsuit.
Yeah, I went out like that. No, I have no idea what I was thinking.
You might be noticing the big earring trend has taken hold over here at Eat The Blog. Earrings are such an inexpensive, fun way to give yourself a boost-why not?!
I'm rediscovering scarves as well. There's no quicker way to add interest to an outfit.
The romper was completely sheer on top except for a bit of lining around the boobs. I don't have a problem with that, but it is January in Nebraska-so I wore a tunic beneath it. I'm actually pretty covered-up by typical American standards, especially with those tights being closer to leggings.
I bought the jacket because I loved the buttons! I probably won't remove them because it is St. John Evening and I respect quality clothing enough to leave it intact if possible. I didn't think the jacket would fit when I bought it, but luckily, it did. It would look amazing with wide, white trousers on a summer evening with a sequin shell beneath.
Playsuit/romper-Sears (at the clearance sale before the store closed)
Vintage St. John Evening jacket-Goodwill
Tights- K Mart (also now closed)
Boots- K Mart
Vintage hat box/travel bag-Antique mall
Vintage necklace-Goodwill (I think?)
Beaded bracelets-Shop Ko about 15 years ago
Before I get back to the clothes, I must show you Mr. ETB's birthday celebration. He's (a youthful) 58 and to celebrate I made him a steak and ale pudding. That was interesting for me as a vegetarian (and have been since the early 80s) because I had to completely rely on following a recipe without any intuition about how it would turn out.
It turned out perfectly!
Recipe found here. I don't have a proper 6 cup pudding basin so I used my Corningware casserole dish and it worked fine. I had to order Atora suet online because suet in the US is sold in an un-processed block with membranes and all. That's fine if you want to render it, or grind it up for sausage-making, but just to make a pudding, that's a bit of work. Thank goodness for the internet.
I bought Mr. ETB a vintage lunchpail as we had been reminiscing about the old ecology stickers and badges that were everywhere in the 70s. I don't think it gets any more ecologically responsible than a 50 year old lunchpail-and it stays out of the landfill. This will also encourage him to take lunch from home more often.
Possibly the best part of the meal were the balsamic onions. This is my own invention.
You Will Need:
1 bag of frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste
About 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions, sugar, thyme and salt. Cook until they start turning transparent. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring once in a while until onions are soft and deeply golden. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook a few minutes longer until most of the liquid cooks off. Serve hot or cold. Leftovers can be mashed up and spread on bread or tucked into a cheese sandwich.
Oh my gosh-I just posted a recipe! Been a while, hasn't it?!
I wish I'd written down what I did here. It was soup with chickpeas, white beans, kale and hot red peppers. Anyway, it is the sort of thing you could probably improvise easily. I served it over some farro.
Back to the vintage clothing...
I've lived in Nebraska long enough now (18 years) that I don't give a second thought to wearing Western wear. It feels quite natural here. This top and matching skirt were a very lucky find at Thrift World a couple months back. It isn't the nicest shop (or the cleanest) but sometimes I find great stuff there.
This stuff ain't cheap😁. I didn't know anything about the company until I did a bit of Googling, but I could tell it was well-made clothing.
I wore some bangles, as you do...
...and a tooled leather belt.
And a handbag to match the belt.
Vintage (is 90s really vintage?!) top and skirt-Thrift World
Vintage handbag and belt-both New Life Thrift
Vintage Ultrasuede jacket-Goodwill
Vintage Mexican necklace-Goodwill
Vintage bangles-various places but all thrifted
Shell earrings-World Market about 10 years ago
Fragrance-Aramis-and plenty of it!
The big earrings continue! I'll probably cut my hair at some point and go back to smaller clips, but for the moment, I'm enjoying something a little different.
The pale blue earrings were a perfect match for this faience scarab necklace I found on a recent thrifting trip.
These earrings were heavy, and clanged with every move. Sort of like wearing a cowbell. Moo.
These however have to be the biggest earrings I own. I was worried my hair would get caught in them, but after a windy New Years Day outing, they were still free of knotted hair. Yes, I wore a velvet track suit with big earrings. I also wore boots and a vintage fur. It is a look. Or it was...at some point. At least I don't have, "Juicy" emblazoned across my rear end.
Crazy 70s mink and leather coat over track suit? Why not?!
I would wear these boots absolutely everywhere if I could get away with it. They are so warm and comfortable. One of my best Goodwill finds, ever.
Big earrings are giving me life in 2019. Really, I don't need much to be happy.
I will leave you with a look at my mother's Cazal frames I once again had set with my lenses. I had them tinted blue last time around, but this year went clear. I wear trifocals and were it not for super-thin plastics these would be what we used to call, "Coke bottles" due to the thickness. I can't imagine how heavy these must have been back in the 80s when my mother was wearing them. Even with ultra thin plastic, they're still plenty heavy. I still have the black round frames as well, but thought I should get a spare pair as I am now at the point where it would be difficult managing without them if something happened. Spare specs-I feel like such an old lady! I am an old lady, but still.
They are slightly too big for my head (my mother had a big head-don't laugh, she did!) but I think they are wearable without looking silly.
Well, maybe not too silly.
How is January treating you? Anything new you're trying to incorporate into your wardrobe? Do tell!