#gadfly

Mint Fringe face hide.jpg

Gadfly:
a fly that annoys horses and other livestock
a person who upsets the status quo

Apparently, it can be a little unnerving to have a style blogger for a friend. At a party, someone once confided to me that they get a little nervous when they know they’re going to see me, concerned that I am critiquing every aspect of their attire during our time together.
Rest assured, I do not go around secretly evaluating people’s fashion choices (unless you wear scrunchies. I have a preternatural hatred for scrunchies).
However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little internal leap of joy when I see someone dressed in a way that showcases all the best of who they are. There’s nothing like seeing someone’s essence expressed in art, and if I may be so bold, I consider personal style an art.

grey dress kick

Art Is Personal

In college, I had a roommate whose parents lived in a charming country house not far from campus. My group of friends spent many idyllic weekends at their house, studying in a hammock on the spacious front porch, wandering with the dragonflies and carpenter bees through the gardens, and savoring late breakfasts while watching deer contentedly chew through the daffodil fields.
None of this halcyon lifestyle happened by accident. As it turns out, my roommate’s mother had completely designed the house and its grounds from well, the ground up. Every nook and cranny was intentionally crafted to evoke a particular feeling—from the compact but well-appointed library in the nook at the top of the staircase to the perfectly positioned laundry chute (the laundry went straight from the master bedroom into the washing machine—talk about an efficient process!). Creativity was king, and while some aspects of her home represented significant monetary investment (I can still remember her quite comprehensive set of Wedgewood China in a design run over by wild strawberries), small touches like elaborate and expensive-looking table decorations conjured up from willow branches commanded an equal amount of territory.
In a rundown town where the biggest form of entertainment was people-watching at the Waffle House (closely followed by activating the entire Walmart aisle of then-popular Tickle Me Elmo dolls simultaneously), she had instead opted to dedicate time and resources into ensuring her sanctuary reflected her self perfectly, and it was deeply felt by everyone who darkened the doors. Being in her house or gardens was like getting to know her, and like her home, she was irresistibly intriguing.

 

Mom and Corsten steps

We adore climbing steps.

Defy the Status Quo

My friend’s house so clearly stood out to me as art because its very essence defied the mass production with which our society seems to be so comfortable, not only in buildings but also clothes.

Our yoga pants epidemic is completely understandable; with all the other stuff being thrown at us ALL DAY EVERY DAY, it’s a wonder we remember to leave the house wearing pants at all! However, in my daily travels, I still encounter those brave souls who proliferate joy by expressing themselves through their clothes. At first glance, I may not immediately cognize every aspect of their person, but I do get a pretty good read on who they are (Artist? Minimalist? Drama-lover? Conservative? Whimsical?)

By spurning the path of least resistance, by proclaiming their truest selves instead of sending the message currently approved by the “style authorities,” they are gadflies that remind us how piercingly we touch others when we embody the best version of ourselves.

#Gadfly

In honor of these irrepressible Devil-May-Cares and the joy they bring to my world, I’ll be highlighting them on the blog and GAD’s  Facebook and Instagram feeds, and tagging them #gadfly–a nod to their blithe disregard for whatever anyone else is wearing and also to the name of this blog (see what I did there?).
I’d love to see pictures of the #gadfly’s you encounter, so feel free to use the hashtag yourself when snapping pics and tagging Girl About Downtown so I can pay homage with you.

 

Bunny tail

I have an “audience” for nearly all my photo shoots.

Unpacked:

Pleated Tunic, Ya Los Angeles via friend’s closet sale (I replaced the shell buttons with glam glass ones for a totally different look!).

Over-the-knee boots, Michael Kors via Zappos.

Tiger’s Eye earrings, Sorrelli via Anna’s.

Tiger’s Eye pendant, Polk Museum of Art Gift shop (unfortunately, I lost the paperwork naming the artist).

Mint Fringe bag, gift from my BFF picked out by my adorable Goddaughter.

Silver Fingerprint Charm bracelet, custom-made gift from the two handsomest men in my life. 🙂

 

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Disney Princess Mirror

Closet Voyeur: Jessica’s Closet

Disney Princess Mirror

The stately mirror is from (where else?) Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel.

I would not experience a soupcon of surprise if bluebirds were to fly in the window right now and alight on Jessica Adams’s shoulder. Petite in stature with long, flowing blonde tresses, Jessica is a real-life Disney princess.

 

ladylike closet greeen dresser

Jessica’s Wedding Rehearsal bouquet complements the vintage dresser, chair, and lamp.

I first met Jessica at a dance class that a mutual friend invited us to attend. She, a longtime dancer, swirled around the room gracefully, executing complicated dance moves as smoothly as a Sicilian putting away a plate of spaghetti. Staggering around the room and twirling in the wrong direction (every time!), I was in awe, and immediately stalked all her social media.

 

makeup brush storage

A makeup brush holder made from vintage papers? Yes, please.

Fast forward to late last year, when the blonde beauty posted a swoon-inducing photo of the closet she created at her new home. I promptly requested a visit.

vintage vanity

The vanity is restored from its days at the family’s beach house. Jessica’s mother tsujzed up the stool with strips of seafoam silk.

 

vintage gold chair jewelry storage clothing rack

Open clothing racks keep everything out on display and easily accessible.

Every detail in the closet is carefully arranged, but what really amazes me is the way Jessica has created this paradise from vintage treasures (yet another connection to She of the Pumpkin Carriage?). Her magic wand of creativity spreads a mantle of fairy dust on everything in the room.

pretty calendars

Vintage Doilies and letter holders coexist with modern calendars and an iPad company on the dresser.

“People are always giving my sister and me dress-up clothes,” she says as she produces a fringed,hand-painted chartreuse and yellow silk scarf from a coat rack in the corner.

masquerade mask on coat hooks

Everyone should be properly prepared for a ball.

She picks up a pair of miniscule vintage navy shoes. “These were someone’s actual shoes. Look at how small they are; I can’t even fit into them,” she exclaims as her (also miniscule) foot juts out the back ever so slightly.

I nod, but I’m not too concerned. Everyone knows that the slippers destined for Cinderella’s feet are nothing less than glass.

Never Have Nothing to Wear Again

Photo courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

Photo courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.

I love fashion as art; I love seeing the creativity spill off the runways into the stores each season. But here’s the ugly truth:

Clothes shopping can get overwhelming, even for a junkie like me.

How do we distill the array of offerings down to a collection that truly expresses who we are?

We begin with the end in mind.

After hearing an interior designer describe the method she uses to create and decorate spaces, I began using her interior design philosophy to define and refine my personal style.

She explained that when designing a room, she chooses three words to describe the feelings she wants people to experience when they enter that space, and then funnels all of her design decisions through the filter of those three words. The end result is a nuanced but cohesive look that stirs an emotional response.

So if you’re tired of spending more time shopping for your clothes than wearing them,

Choose 3 words to define your personal style.

These words should get to the very heart of who you are as a person, the words you feel best describe you.

Now orchestrate all of your clothing purchases through the filter of those 3 words.

It takes a little more thought up front, but a lot less work from then on.

When you carefully consider your three words and build your wardrobe accordingly, you will always have something to wear that perfectly reflects you as a person. And guess what?

People will get the message of who you really are.

Are you ready to feel madly confident every time you get dressed?

It’s time to feel good in your clothes again.

P.S. Over the next few posts, I’ll give you some tips for choosing your 3 words in case you’re feeling a little stuck. I’ll also divulge my 3 words and show you how I execute them in various aspects of my life.

Stuff for Your Soul

Some time ago, a friend who is uncannily accurate at trendcasting (anyone see a sudden influx of Korean beauty products recently? Yeah, she predicted that) told me about a new online boutique specializing in enchanting wonders called Lesouque. Being the new(er) mom I was, I was able to shoot a few quick peeks at the site on my phone, but then got sidetracked.

While I loved what I saw, I barely had time to bathe, much less shop. But recent events brought Lesouque back to mind, and a revisit to the site seemed to only serve to prove my friend right–many of their offerings had sold out, and their collection has been expanded.

The thing I love about Lesouque is that the site is full of beautifully handcrafted treasures from all over the world. There came a point in time in my life that I suffered from “stuff overload.” I had a bit of a violent reaction to collecting stuff for its own sake and moved into a tiny 500-square-foot apartment with a bed, a couch, and a borrowed table. And even though it has meant going without a full set of matching plates for 3 years, I vowed to only add possessions as they spoke to my soul. And if the objets d’art of Lesouque don’t speak to your soul, you might want to have your soul’s hearing checked.

I originally had 10 “favorites” I wanted to share with you, but since you’ll probably just head over to the site to check it out for yourself after seeing the first couple of lovelies, I submit to you my official “Pining For” list of five:


Riveting Clutch by Ece Pinar Demirel, Instanbul, Turkey

This jade color is everything.


 

Drops of Color Scarf by Aish by Napur Goenka, Kolkata, India

Made from 100% Cotton Handloom Muslin, this scarf is light enough to wear in the Florida autumn and will pair wonderfully with all the bright lips going on right now.

Geometric Gemstone Bangle in Gold by Jessica Tata, Austin, Texas

For the girl who loves a stacked statement and the girl who favors a more delicate suggestion.

Trifecta Pot (Small) by Lisa Jones, Portland, Oregon

I love beautiful things that can serve multiple functions. Should this bowl be the new home for my keys, bracelets, or a delicate fern?

Navy Rectangular Serving Platter by Sebnem Berker, Istanbul, Turkey

I once had a burlap-impressed bowl I absolutely adored. I loved the feel of the texture on my hands, so I used it all the time. Alas, it disappeared during a move; this platter would be the perfect tactile replacement.

Stationery Stalker

Earlier this week, I shared my recent desk “do-over.” In my pursuit of the perfect desk setup, I turned (as I so often do) to a life of voyeurism for inspiration. In the spirit of sharing my naughty habits, here are some of my favorite “famous” desks—which one inspires you?

Alison Rubke, Frou Frou Fashionista

Alison Rubke, Frou Frou Fashionista

Peonies are my favorite flower, and I love the grown-up-girliness of this set-up.

Mary McDonald's study, featured in Domino Magazine

Mary McDonald’s study, featured in Domino Magazine

 The bold glamour of McDonald’s study–couldn’t you spend all day here?

Hemingway's study in his Key West home

Hemingway’s study in his Key West home

 The cross breeze in Hemingway’s office is divine; the perfect morning writing spot (rumored by house tour guides to be Hemingway’s favorite time to write in this home).

Nate Berkus' New York home office

Nate Berkus’ New York home office

High-gloss black lacquer? Yes, please, and thank you.

I’m Gonna Sit Right Down | And write myself a letter

An understated palette of black, white, lucite, and metallics keeps the overall look calm and refined.

An understated palette of black, white, lucite, and metallics keeps the overall look calm and refined.

Does having an organized desk make me more productive? I don’t know, but it definitely makes me happy.

Having a desk that suits your personality can make sitting down to work feel a lot less like, well, work. I like seeing everything I need–sketchpads, journals, articles, notecards–at a glance and being able to immediately put my hands on it; I don’t work well with papers piled up haphazardly. To help me get more organized and actually look forward to sitting down at my desk, I’ve been doggedly searching for some glamorous desk accessories for the past few months.

 

Desk File Folders

Gold polka dot file folders by Kate Spade add a touch of whimsy.

My challenge with both clothes and home accessories is that I live in an apartment and love a minimalistic look, so every thing I purchase must earn the space it occupies. After trial and error with a few stationery brands and home supply stores, I finally found my dream desk organizer at Anthropologie in the form of a hefty lucite collator. Unlike trays, collators organize things in a vertical fashion, so I can thumb through recent articles, journaling supplies, and notecards in a flash. Bonus: this collator has handles carved into the endpieces, so on a whim I can move my supplies a different area for more artistic pursuits.

 

Desk Flowers

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.” –Emma Goldman

A silver dish for assorted sundries (flash drives, stamps, paper clips, and the like) keeps company with a lucite pen holder for maximum versatility. Even file folders are chosen with particular care, and the seemingly frivolous brass quail (picked up on a random trip to Goodwill) has an important purpose. It’s my equivalent to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “broken tip of a conch”—something tactile to fiddle with when my conscious brain is “stuck.”

To me, desk supplies are like an exquisitely unusual lining of a jacket or handbag—they may not be visible to many more people than the wearer, but just a glimpse of them can bring a smile to your face.