Archive of ‘not a fashion blog’ category

A stitch of a different sort {Stitch Fix Review}

unboxed

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of these monthly subscription boxes that seem to becoming more and more popular. For a time I was even receiving one; flicker box, which is basically a monthly box of candles, but after a year I was horrified to see that I paid $350 for an insane number of candles which I more or less gave away (they were mostly too sweet or fruity and I don’t want a home space that smells like a candy factory or a punch bowl or a produce stand).  It was a nice thought, because sure, I like candles, but I really like the ones that smell more like incense and with that being the case I mostly just burn incense and light unscented candles. So I canceled that subscription.  You can bet I always had a hostess gift or a surprise birthday present that year though.

There’s Birchbox and others like it, which I believe are focused on beauty products, but I’ve pretty much embraced my inner hag and don’t need too much of that sort of thing.  There’s also one for perfume, Olfactif, and you are probably wondering why I have not signed up for that one yet and the answer to that is because I don’t want to die homeless and penniless which is exactly what will happen if I’m offered perfume selections like clockwork every month.

I recently came across Stitchfix while doing a search for a service that provides monthly clothes subscription boxes, which – I know, it sounds like a gamble, doesn’t it?  Personal style is really tough to pin down, especially through a medium like the internet, when you don’t even know the person for whom you are choosing the apparel.  And why would I even need something like that?  I work from home, I prefer to entertain at home or…someone else’s home, but basically I am a homebody.  I don’t go out to see and be seen.  I’d prefer to be invisible and ignored for the most part. And despite all my waxing poetic about runway couture and all the time I spend over on polyvore curating delightful ensembles, it might surprise you to learn that I actually sort of dress like a hobo in real life. And in looking down at my pizza stained yoga pants and oversized band tee shirts with holes around the shoulder seams where I’ve stretched out the neck to accommodate my enormous head, I realize that is an insult to the actual hobos.

I am, however, expected to show up in video conferences, or attend out of state functions for work every once in a while, and I do get invited to the occasional party or dinner date – and in surveying my wardrobe it is plain to see that it does need a bit of an update regarding such outings.  90% of what I wear is some variation of the disgusting combination described above and the other 10% are peculiar vintage items that appealed to me for some reason or another at the time of purchase and 0% of that is appropriate to wear in front of coworkers or friends who want to be seen with me in public.

In reading the following, I will admit, I was awfully intrigued.  Fill out a profile?  I love filling out profiles!  That’s part of the reason I was always so tempted to join online dating sites – just so I can fill out a profile and tick off boxes about my personality and interests, etc.  Is that odd? I can’t be the only one.  I’m not doing that now, of course – that is, filling out online dating profiles. Not recently.

Stitch Fix is the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling, proprietary technology and unique product to deliver a shopping experience that is truly personalized for you. Simply fill out the Stitch Fix Style Profile and our personal stylists will handpick a selection of five clothing items and accessories unique to your taste, budget and lifestyle. You can buy what you like and return the rest!”

And you know, much like filling out profiles for online dating sites, there’s always that thrilling thought that maybe! finally! someone will finally “get” you. I always used to put the weirdest things about me in those things (my title on AOL Personals a million years ago was “Wark! Wark!), just to see what sort of people would respond.  You don’t always get a winner, of course, but I thought it was fun to try.

So, I went through Stitchfix‘s questionnaire and gave them my sizes and the colors I preferred and selected a few outfits that I liked the looks of {“preppy“, “romantic“, “casual“, “edgy“, “bohemian“, “glamorous” and…one that looked really colorful but I don’t know what you would call it} I think I am a combination of casual with a soupçon of edgy, for what it’s worth.   In the “notes to the stylist” section I offered the following:

“I wear a lot of black and a lot of jeans& tee shirts (I work from home). I’d like to slowly start incorporating more (darker, muted, earthy) colors into my wardrobe and graduate beyond band tee shirts.  Nothing cutesy or twee. Think reformed goth for someone who never actually was a goth.  Someone who enjoys horror movies and ghost stories and Dead Can Dance and still has a tiny crush on Glen Danzig.” 

Ha!  Try to figure that out, stylists!

So how it works is once a month, or however frequently you prefer, your Stylist at Stitchfix puts together a box of five items according to the sorts of things you indicate on your profile and then they send it out to you! You pay a $20 Stylist fee per box, which is deducted from the cost of whatever you end up keeping.  Whatever doesn’t work for you, you just send it back in the postage paid envelope that they provide for you.  I think I am describing this all accurately, but there’s tons of blogs out there where ladies are reviewing their boxes and talking about how it all works.

Speaking of all these other women who use Stitchfix, I will honestly admit that in doing some research and poking around I grew a little concerned when I saw that most of them are Mommy Bloggers. Which hey, there’s room in this world for every interest out there and that’s great, but 100% across the board, Mommy Blogger style is without a doubt, absolutely, not my style.

I’m fairly certain it was only two weeks ago that I started looking into this and yet my first box arrived today.  Inside was the inventory list with prices on each item (you can choose your budget – the most expensive thing in my box was $88), a card for each item with some styling options, the return envelope, and a personalized note from my stylist, “Emily”.

card

And here are the pieces…

Balboa Embroidery Detail Top

Balboa Embroidery Detail Top

Even though I liked the look of this, with the gold embroidery against the black crepe, the fit  was off.  I could barely get it over my head and though the width was okay, it was a little short. Also, I am not overly fond of sleeveless clothing. Still, I thought it was a nice pick for me.

2

Ava Floral Silk Print Henley Blouse

Another sleeveless number.  But…I loved the print and the the aquamarine against the navy is so pretty and the fit was perfect.  I don’t have anything like this, and I can always wear a little cardigan over it.  A keeper!

3

Humphrey Streak Print Dress

Though I actually love the colors (such as they are) and the print reminds me of creepy late night teevee static, it just hung like a potato sack on me and wasn’t exactly flattering.  I also don’t like the arms, something about the cut of the top half reminds me of a baseball jersey.

4

Bianca Fringe Cardigan and Milena Moto Legging

This cardigan was so soft and cozy, and had the long, drapey shape that I like, but wearing it I felt like the Muppet version of Dolly Parton.  Wearing a Fraggle sweater.  Nope.
The leggings were really cool looking, and I loved the ribbing at the knee, but again, there was a weird fit issue. And leggings should be comfortable if not anything else, so these were also put on the return list.

SO! Despite the fact I am returning four out of five items, I am actually fairly happy with the pieces my stylist chose for me.  There was not a single thing in there that I pulled out of the box and thought “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” and the one thing I loved and decided to keep was probably the one I never would have chosen for myself.  Which is one of the reasons why people have stylists, right?  I think this was an interesting experiment and I am pleased enough with the results that I am going to keep my subscription for a few more months to see what they come up with for me.

A few tips:

1.Stitchfix is not really plus sized gal friendly.  I am between 12-14; all of the pieces sent to me were marked “large” and mostly fit quite comfortably, except for a few weird issues.  For the time being though, anyone larger than a 14 is out of luck.

2. They encourage you to keep and update a pinterest board which you can link to in your Stitchfix profile (here’s mine, please note I put my banana suit on one leg at a time, just like everyone else), and it looks like they even pay attention to the stuff you collect there.My stylist mentioned in my note that she included that dress because my pinterest board is liberally peppered with those types of dresses. Just goes to show you that I have no idea what looks good on me.

3. Checking out is super easy.  Log in, go to the check out page, select the item you want to keep, and that’s pretty much it since they already have your card on file.  The other thing about the checking out process is that they encourage feedback on the things that didn’t work, so they can do better next time.  I informed them of all the same observations I recorded here, so now they have it on record that my flabby upper arms prefer sleeves and I don’t like floppy, froofy fringe because it makes me feel like a fraggle. Also, you can include notes as to the type of thing you might like to see next time!  I had no advice in this regard, I really want to make them work at it. Heh.

Of course I managed to choose the most expensive item in the box, but with my $20 credit, it came to $68, which I guess isn’t too bad?  I don’t know.  It’s cute.  We’ll see if I get any compliments on it. Also, speaking of money, they have some sort of referral program, where you get $25 credit for each friend who signs up and orders.  Now, I am not telling you what to do or anything – because I am certainly not the boss of you – but if you are someone who has to have their clothes picked out for them, or if you are too busy to shop for yourself, or, if like me, you have an imp of the perverse sitting on your shoulder constantly encouraging you to fill out online profiles and make people work at figuring out who you truly are, then use this link to sign up.

I’d like to think that this is not typically the thing I talk about over here, but I did want to share my experiences with other ladies who are looking into this sort of subscription box.  It’s one thing to read customer testimonials, and it’s another to read un-boxing and haul posts from mommy bloggers, but it’s something else entirely and infinitely more valuable to read about it from the perspective of your yoga pants wearing, meat-lovers pizza-munching, Glen Danzig-crushing trusted friend, right?  I hope that’s how you’ll think of this.  Just some advice from one gross, barely clothed friend to another.

Do you have any experience with subscription boxes?  Are there any I should check out?  Let me know!

 

 

Caftan Party Paradise

harpersbazaar_grande
Simone d'Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

Simone d’Aillencourt in Emilio Pucci, Vogue 1967

How am I just now, nearly a year later, reading about Christina Hendrick’s Palm Springs Caftans and Casseroles party idea? Unbelievable.  This is an idea that is tailor-made for me.  Psychedelic, flowing frocks? Check.  One dish meals, preferably topped with a heart stopping amount of melty cheese? Check. A room full of my favorite people, swimming in their caftans, gorging themselves on potluck comestibles from tables groaning under the collective weight of so many pyrex casserole dishes? YES PLEASE.  It’s like a demented orgy except with entirely different perversions. What? You know us casserole lovers can get freaky.

This magnificent garment has come a long way from 600 BC Persia where it was traditionally worn in the battlefield under chainmail.  It was later introduced to North Africa where “different groups interpreted them according to their religious and cultural traditions, and European imperialism led to cultural contact with the East, allowing for caftans to infiltrate the Western wardrobe.” Fast forward to the 1960s, when wealthy jet-setters and superstars took off for places like Morocco and India and brought back Eastern fashion traditions. Designers such as Halston and Yves Saint Laurent adopted the style into a symbol of bohemian elite that trickled down to mainstream fashion in the 1970s.

Now, as then, this drapey dress continues to appeal to the masses – whether you’re a warlord, a celebrity starlet, or a gal who just wants to let it all hang out and not be constrained by buttons and waistbands after a glorious feast.
…And they can be found everywhere! An etsy search alone brings up nearly 11K hits, some of them starting at as little as $10, so you certainly do not have to break the bank for your fantastical bohemian comfort wear. (Although obviously they run much more expensive, as evidenced by this gorgeous number by Oscar De La Renta over at Net-A-Porter for $2,990.)

I have compiled below some inspiration in the form of glamorous ladies in flowing frocks and the casseroles and covered dishes which to accompany them. In the meantime to ready yourself for this unparalleled vision of paradise involving comfort food and comfortable clothes, I suggest you read Caftan Lyfe and How to Get Your Caftan Body Ready For Summer.

1. Select a caftan of your chosen gauge and length. Stroke its gauzy fabric and whisper into its folds.

2. Let your flesh settle into the crevices of your comfortable, comfortable caftan.

3. Crumbs? Let them fall where they may, swaddled in your caftan.

bf76f50aca1e24f8194f0b8f72a27365

Elizabeth Taylor

Tilda Swinton in Purple Fashion Magazine, Vol.3, nr.5, Summer 2006

 

Anjelica Huston (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Getty Images)

 

Brigitte Bardot

harpersbazaar_grande

As you sprawl luxuriously, here are some ideas for a decadent spread:

Best ever green bean casserole // Mediterranean quinoa casserole // Spinach and cheese strata // Cheesy broccoli rice casserole // Overnight blueberry french toast casserole // Six cheese veggie lasagna // Tater tot enchilada casserole // Biscuits and gravy casserole // Macaroni and three cheeses

BONUS 

Wondering how to style your marvelous new caftan?  I have a few ideas for you…
Details on Look 1 can be found here, and Look 2 can be found here.

caftan1

caftan2

 

This, that, and the other thing (III)

Seems like lately everyone is jumping ship over at facebook; enter ello.  Marketed as “…a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”, it’s shaping up to be a lovely solution. The design is simple, clean, uncluttered and though there may be a few bugs to work out (it’s still in beta) and it’s a bit quiet over there while users are figuring it out – I really can’t wait to see how it grows. Do be sure to stop by and say hello!  I am mlleghoul, of course.

 

Has the season got you longing for some genuine terror in your life?  This kickstarter project might be exactly what you need.  CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is “a magazine sized anthology of horror comics about demonology & exorcism.” with contributions from nine of independent comics’ unique creators who have come together to frighten you with something new. “CANAAN CULT REVIVAL is an attempt to use comic book storytelling to push those boundaries further still. An anthology of tales of exorcism and demonology, it’s larger and longer than a traditional comic, reminiscent of the horror magazines of the 1970s.”

 

THE DIATOMIST is a short documentary about Klaus Kemp, master of the Victorian art of diatom arrangement.

“Diatoms are single cell algae that create jewel-like glass shells around themselves. Microscopists of the Victorian era would arrange them into complex patterns, invisible to the naked eye but spectacular when viewed under magnification.The best of these arrangements are stunning technical feats that reveal the hidden grandeur of some of the smallest organisms on Earth. Klaus Kemp has devoted his entire life to understanding and perfecting diatom arrangement and he is now acknowledged as the last great practitioner of this beautiful combination of art and science. THE DIATOMIST, by Matthew Killip showcases his incredible work. “

 

Can you imagine these glorious horrors stalking and slashing down the runway?  From Alice Auaa 2014-2015 F/W runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Japan.

More delightful sartorial oddities from Gareth Pugh’s Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear – Collection

 

Two seasonally appropriate 8tracks mixes: All of them Witches & It is something I have long known (inspired by Robert Aickman’s eerie short story “Into the Woods”.)

a longing to touch something fine

When I was very young I had the opportunity to visit an antique dollhouse exhibit while visiting my grandparents one summer. I was captivated by the minute, gorgeous, meticulously rendered details -intricate lace curtains framing the tiny windows and opulent velvet upholsteries covering the miniature settees and sofas – I longed to sneak my little finger behind the glass casing to touch these beautiful, delicate things, to feel what the little inhabitants of such a place might feel if they were to touch these things as well. The sumptuous fabrics of the gowns gracing the runway at Tadashi Shoji’s show at NYFW remind me somehow of those moments of longing to touch something very fine. Inspired by the Golden Palace of Venice, the various pieces are a glowing palette of roses and periwinkles and golds (not always my favorite thing) but the soft, simple silhouettes present such a dreamy vision that I can forgive the pastels. And capes.  Capes make everything 100 times more elegant and fancy.

See below for a few of my personal favorites. And if nothing else just play the video above for the lovely score/soundtrack (whatever you call music playing in the background during a runway show.)  It’s really very elegant and ethereal, even when it picks up the beat. If anyone can share with me who the musicians are, I would be forever grateful!

32-TS 03-TS 08-TS 11-TS

 

 

Cicada Weekend

Illlustration by E.A. Séguy” via BibliOdyssey

Was awakened by the discordant song of cicadas yesterday morning and from their chatter was foretold the heat of the day.  On weekends like this is it wise to lock oneself in a dim-lit room with the shades drawn and a stack of books, and a pitcher of something well-iced within reach, and the AC at the lowest setting possible.

I find that I cannot eat hot foods…or even lukewarm foods in the summer months.  It is often salads or here-and-there nibbles for dinner.  Bread and cheese and olives. Vegetables and hummus. Or maybe just a bowl of cereal if the heat has made me too lethargic to care, yet my stomach is grumbling and grumping at me.  What are some of your favourite warm-weather meals for when turning on the oven  is an exercise in torture and you cannot bear the thought of a hot meal?

This isn’t even a recipe, just something I saw over at The Pioneer Woman last summer and tried once and found it to be quite lovely.  Mix a bit of plain, greek yogurt with milk (she uses heavy cream), stir until smooth, and top with brown sugar.  I serve it over blueberries, but I am sure it is just as nice over other summer berries or whatever fruits may be in season and pair well with creamy, lightly sweetened toppings.  Served alongside a special postcard for pretend afternoons at the lake house when one is actually stuck inside an overheated apartment with no central air.

My upstairs neighbor’s tomatoes. My attempts are never this successful.

 

Saturday evening, chez Mlle Ghoul

Portrait of a Sunday Morning in late July

Thanks goes to my sister for informing me that one can make cold-brewed iced coffee with a french press!  I had been utilizing a messy method which involved multiple containers, coffee filters and drips and dregs all over the floor.  This is infinitely easier and it makes me happy that I can finally put to use the french press I overpaid for 3 years ago.  There are some useful instructions for this method here.

The cicadas are at it again, the rise and fall of their droning din a constant background to mornings and well into the afternoon this time of year.  I find it rather comforting in a way though; I know that in the colder months I will miss their buzzing symphonies and the simple entomancy of their hot weather insectile hum.

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