Mosaic Pumps

After I swam my laps last week, I found a shady lounge chair near the pool and a back issue of Harper’s Bazaar.  Which is where I spotted these shoes from Stuart Weitzman’s new line, SW1.

When I was in Italy during college, I took an inordinate number of pictures of the marble mosaic floors of various churches.  (For marble, my favorite was Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.)  And these heels bring me right back to Santa Maria Maggiore.

I find the pumps arresting: bold and original in their own right, and yet also engaged in conversation — across time and genre — with Italian Renaissance craft.  Two forms (church floors and shoes) that transcend their functions, becoming not only useful objects but also art.

Judging from the Harper’s Bazaar‘s article on SW1 (check it out here) creative director Alvaro Gonzalez’s vision for the line involves many such cross-disciplinary conversations.

Mostly Martha

A few years ago I had a friend who ran a small foreign film club.  Her club was getting ready to watch “Mostly Martha,” and she recommended it to me.  I’ve watched the movie a few times since and really enjoyed it — it has compelling characters and a well-crafted story.  And there’s something I really appreciate about Martha’s low-key minimalist style.  The outfit above — one of my favorites from the film — is simple and understated.  But I admire the bold color pairing, and the way the style so exactly suits Martha’s character.

Hair Unhappy

Like many curly-haired women, I’ve always had a somewhat complex relationship with my hair.  Most of the time I like my hair and am happy it’s curly.  But this summer it started bringing me down.  Which sounds like a strange thing to say.  But more than any other aspect of my appearance, my hair affects my mood.  If I’m having a great hair day, I can wear old clothes and no makeup and feel pretty good.  If my hair is frizzy or uncontrollable or otherwise awful, I don’t feel like myself all day.

For several weeks, my hair wasn’t looking its best, and I wasn’t feeling my best either.  Finally, I decided to make a change.  My friend Jenny recommended a flat iron and some hair products, and I decided to give it a whirl.  I’m so happy I did.

I’ve been wearing my hair straight for a couple of weeks now, and I feel a lot better about my appearance.  I also find it interesting to see myself a little differently.  Straight, my hair looks lighter than it does curly.  And it’s significantly longer.  But it isn’t just my hair that looks different.  It changes the shape of my face.  And certain facial features seem to have more or less emphasis.

I think it can be good sometimes to push myself into unfamiliar territory, to look at myself in a different light.  And though usually that means challenging myself professionally or taking a risk in my personal life, in this case, the shifting perspective is physical.

I’m sure eventually I’ll go back to wearing my hair curly.  But I’m enjoying this little sojourn — this little curly-hair vacation.

Low-key Polish

This Bamboo Bruna Clutch from Calypso St. Barth is so pretty, and perfect for a relaxed but polished summer look.  I’ve been admiring it for a couple months now, but, alas, it’s out of my price range for a seasonal clutch.  (And I think it might be sold out now anyway.)

I sometimes find clutches challenging.  My camera doesn’t fit in most of them, and I don’t like to leave it behind.  So half the time I wind up leaving my clutches at home and bringing a larger but less glamorous handbag.  I suppose this could be one argument in favor of an iPhone, but I’m not ready to take that plunge.

Meanwhile, I can continue to drool over this gorgeous bamboo bag.  Wouldn’t it look great with just about anything?  I can see it lending a relaxed, artistic flair to a more formal navy or coral dress, or creating a sense of polish and sophistication paired with a gauzy white sundress, or casual linen shorts.

Fresh Flowers

We bought fresh flowers this spring for a party we hosted, and now we’re hooked.  We’ve been picking up a bunch every so often ever since then.  They somehow change the feel of the whole room.

I recently had a conversation with some friends about our favorite colors.  As kids, favorite colors are a frequent topic of conversation — and usually established at the beginning of a new friendship.  But among these women I met in my late twenties, the topic had never come up.  I’ve found that my favorite color is pretty context-specific.  (For clothes, I’d pick blues and greens.  I love a yellow bedroom.  And our front garden looks great with rich pinks.)  When it comes to cut flowers, I think the color of these tulips has to be my favorite.

What simple things have you done to change your space?  Does anyone else have favorite colors that are context specific?

Piece of Cake

Before my graduation, my husband and I hosted lunch at our house for our families.  We originally planned to order a custom cake, complete with frosting decorations.  But here’s the secret: I don’t really like cake that much.  (In fact, we didn’t even have a traditional cake at our wedding.)

So we wound up picking up this mousse cake instead. But of course, the mousse cake didn’t look like it had much to do with a graduation.  No messages spelled out in frosting, or fondant graduation caps and diplomas.  I didn’t want anything that elaborate anyway.  So a few minutes before everyone arrived, I made this simple banner to go on top of the cake.  I just used some creamy cardstock I had on hand and a bamboo skewer (cut down to size).

Ordinarily I can be kind of a perfectionist about these things, but in this case, I just cut out the shape freehand and wrote the message with a Sharpie.

Simple and fast.  And the mousse was delicious!

Tunic

For awhile now, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a white lace top.  Then last weekend I spotted this tunic.  I wound up wearing it to my department award ceremony on Friday night.

I’ve never owned a tunic before because the cut can be hard to pull off, but this piece fits beautifully.  I know it will get lots of wear this summer… especially on our upcoming trips.

Masculinity and Style

Last weekend I borrowed Season 1 of Project Runway from the library.  I’d never seen the show and, though it didn’t blow me away, it offered solid entertainment on a weekend when I just needed to kick back and recharge.

But I did notice one thing: on every episode, they only designed clothes (often dresses) for women.  While I don’t have a problem with that, I did find it curious that this fact was never even mentioned on the show.  As though fashion was so clearly linked with women’s garments that it didn’t need saying.

A small observation that wouldn’t have warranted a blog post on its own.

Except that last night I caught an episode of “Mirror, Mirror” on the Live Well Network.  They aired a segment titled “Shop for your Man.”  The segment was chock-full of troubling (and, I thought, antiquated) gender stereotypes, such as “how to give your wife a budget.”  (In 2012?  Seriously?)

But underlying all of these overt stereotypes was an assumption that men’s personal style, clothing, and consumer choices are ceded to women.  This assumption seems extraordinarily unfair to both genders.  But it seems particularly revealing of how we (as a broadly generalized American culture) think about masculinity in ways that are incredibly limiting.

During the past year, my husband has been exploring an expanding personal style.  A process that has been his own, just as much as my style has stemmed from me.  I’ve enjoyed watching him shape an outward appearance that reflects his interests and life priorities.

But when, on occasion, he has questions, there seems to be very little (or no) public conversation about men’s style.  Why does our definition of masculinity exclude the expression of style?

{Note: If you’re interested, you can check out the “Shop for your Man” segment here.  Did you find it troubling?}

First signs…

Yesterday, we noticed the first dahlia of the season has clawed its way to the surface of our garden.  (If you’ve ever seen a dahlia in its early stages, the stems look like little claws.  I’ll try to snap a picture so you can see what I mean.)

My husband and I started growing dahlia last summer, and now we’re hooked.  Here’s one of the dahlia we cut from our garden last August.  Love how lush they are when they bloom.