Make the Scene at Polk Museum’s Art + Music, Rockabilly Style

It’s about time for a little rock n’ roll around here, which is why I’m really excited about the Polk Museum of Art’s next Art + Music event. To celebrate their exhibit “Rebels With a Cause,” PMoA is hosting a rockabilly-themed party on April 15th (get tickets here). Never wanting to miss out on celebrating renegades of any sort (but especially those of the creative variety), I have already marked my calendar to attend. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, I hope you’ll join me!

One of my favorite aspects of themed parties is getting into the spirit of the theme with my outfit, and rockabilly style is especially fun to try your hand at. A smash-up of rock n’ roll and “hillbilly” style, rockabilly clothing was the official attire of 1950s rebels. It combines several elements of classic Americana with the rock edge of skulls and tattoos, and is loaded with optimism and rowdiness.

Ladies, the easiest way to go Rockabilly is with a dress. My all-time favorite modern Rockabilly dresses are made by L.A.-based Stop Staring. Their style is impeccable, and I adore that most of their dresses are available in a wide range of sizes—from XS to 3XL. It was absolutely painful to select only five from their phenomenal collection, but I chose these because you can take them full Rockabilly and then style them more sweetly throughout the upcoming summer months.

Fitted Strawberry Dress, $139.

Fitted Strawberry Dress

 

 

Jennifer Blue Cherry, $179.

Jennifer Blue Cherry

 

Arebela (available in turquoise or red), $175.

Arebela red

 

Vega Dress, $175.

Vega black

 

Marisol, $185.

Marisol blue floral

Bonus: Stop Staring offers 10% off your first order when you sign up for their mailing list!

A little short on bread?

You can pull together a cherry rockabilly look in minutes from items you probably already have in your closet.

This simple look photographed by CJ Bartis encapsulates classic rockabilly style. Throw on a plaid shirt, dark-rinse jeans with wide cuffs, peep-toe shoes, and a bandana, and voila–you’re ready to rock around the clock.

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Don’t forget these essential elements of rockabilly style!

  • A flower behind your ear
  • Bangs or pin curls
  • Serious makeup (I’m talking about breaking out the liquid liner AND a bright lip)
  • Pigtails
  • Classic-themed tattoo or a half sleeve
  • Polka dots
  • Black and White Stripes
  • Mary Janes or peep-toe heels

 

Cool Cats

Guys, I haven’t forgotten you. To cook classic rockabilly threads, keep it simple! Start with a pair of dark-rinse jeans with a wide cuff, a black belt with metal studs or a skull buckle, a vintage western shirt (the one pictured is from Fifi’s Alternative on Etsy) or a classic white tee, and of course, tattoos. Throw on a pair of wingtips or creepers, slick back your hair in a high pompadour, and you’ve got it made in the shade.

fifis alternative mens western shirt

 

rumble59_denim-blue_jeans-slim_fit-2

wingtip creepers

Now that you’ve got your look down, you’re ready to dance the night away with me at Rebels With a Cause!

 

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10 Things to Spend Your Style Money On Instead of Clothes

Reading on couch

Wait a minute—aren’t fashion bloggers supposed to tell you all the price-of-a-mortgage-payment clothes YOU MUST BUY to be in style? And shouldn’t I be dripping in Louis Vuitton bags and draped in a monogrammed Burberry blanket poncho while I wax poetic on the absolutely life-changing power of Manolo Blahniks (then again, perhaps someday on the latter)?

Potential Sponsors–Stop Reading Here

I’m probably not going to secure too many sponsors with this post, but you don’t need to have a closet full of expensive clothes to exude style (in fact, “logo chasing” can often be a symptom of a severe lack of confidence in one’s personal style; it screams “insecurity” to the style-conscious).

Indeed, phenomenal personal style is built from many sources, and stems from much more than one’s most recent trip to the mall. Hence, here are ten things to spend your style money on that go beyond clothes.

After all, as Grace Coddington, former Creative Director of Vogue, said:

“Keep your eyes open, because whatever you see can inspire you.”

1. Books

I try to regularly banish clutter in my home, but that rule does not extend to my books. I’m happy when wherever I sit, there’s a book within reach. Indeed, “she is too fond of books, and they have turned her brain.” (Louisa May Alcott)

 

2. Travel

I’m a little biased here, because, as many of you know, my husband orchestrates custom travel experiences through Lugos Travel. But science totally backs me up on this one, because it turns out that experiences make us a lot happier than possessions (or so suggests a  recent study at Cornell University).

Also, travel opens up your eyes to different people, different architecture, different philosophies, and different ways of doing things, all which amp up your creativity in the style department.

 

3. Patronizing the Arts

Go to the symphony. Visit your local museum. Roam an art festival or a music festival (bonus points if they feature art or music you wouldn’t normally appreciate). Go to an opera or a play. These experiences shape us in ways unlike any other. They speak to the commonality of the human experience (I double-dog-dare you to watch Fantine sing “I Dreamed a Dream” and not be reduced to tears by the hopelessness of her position).

Many times your community will host arts events and exhibits that are low-cost or even free. My hometown has an arts-focused high school that produces incredible plays for less than $15. Do some research to find out what your community offers, then get out there. Truly stylish people have an appreciation for the arts.

 

4. Learning Experiences

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”– Eric Hoffer

Don’t be satisfied with your current education. Don’t rest on your laurels. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to adjust to new situations and changes in environment-definitely a requirement for an evolving personal style.

 

5. Exquisite Stationery

There’s been a resurgence in the world of paper lately (on a recent trip to Belgium, I couldn’t begin to count the number of paper artisans operating out of the most fantastical little shops) and for good reason–fewer things can bring a smile to your face than a gorgeous handwritten note from a friend.

Our stationery is like an extension of our personal brand. Quality stationery seems expensive up front, but if you amortize the cost over time and write friends personal notes instead of buying them $8 birthday/condolence/congratulations cards, it actually offers significant cost savings. Bonus: I daresay your friends would much rather receive a few heartfelt sentiments from you (instead of the commercial card makers) on their special or difficult day.

 

6. Connection

As in, anything that connects you with the people you love. Shared experiences. Walks. Game nights. Drinks. Coffee. Participating in their creative endeavors.

When it comes down to it, your people are all you have. So spend wisely here, but spend.

 

7. Flowers

In my experience, people who display flowers in their offices and homes tend to be more stylish. But whether or not my perception’s on point, research suggests that at the very least, they’re probably in a sustained better mood (at least according to this Rutgers study) and that can’t hurt their style, right?

 

8. Tools of Your Trade

Everybody’s got a thing. A thing that might seem trivial to other people but that you love doing. Knitting. Photography. Playing an instrument. Mountain biking. Scuba diving. Tennis. Cooking. Gardening. Pottery. Dancing. Painting. Sewing. Basketball. Geocaching. Writing. Motocross. Hiking. Rowing. Camping. Archery. You get the picture.

People will tell you that spending time on your thing is irresponsible. That spending money on your thing is ridiculous (especially if they perceive that you’re not good at it).

Well, with all due respect for people, screw them.

Your thing makes you YOU. It enhances your creativity and helps you prove to yourself that you can survive challenges and exceed expectations. If you approach it enthusiastically, your thing makes you better than you ever thought you could be, regardless of whether anyone else ever recognizes that.

Your thing informs and enhances your style, so go do your thing.

(If you don’t have a thing, I highly suggest you get out there and try ALL THE THINGS until you find one that’s yours).

 

9. A Stellar Haircut

“The right hairstyle can make a plain woman beautiful and a beautiful woman unforgettable.” –Frederic Fekkai

Perhaps hair is on my mind because I just took the leap and had bangs cut (check out a full frontal of my fringe game on Girl About Downtown’s Instagram), but PEOPLE, hair can change your life.

While in college, I saw Ann (Audrey Hepburn) saunter into that neighborhood barbershop in Rome and get the chop of her life, and while everything seemed to eventually return to normal (to the relief of her attendees), she flashed those doe eyes at me through the silver screen and I knew her life was forever changed. I immediately pranced into a new barbershop in town and had my long locks sheared off into a bob.

You don’t have to go to the most expensive salon in town to get a hair cut that makes jaws drop, but you definitely don’t want to go the $10 route here. Find a stylist you trust, who continues their education, and gets your hair. Bring them pictures. Talk with them about it. Then close your eyes and leap.

 

10. Shoes

Oops–I guess some would consider those clothing related. But a girl can’t behave herself all the time now, can she?

nothing but shoes

#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. 🙂

 

Action, Boys, Action

blue trench black white windowpane

I adore a dramatic collar.

According to Charlotte Bronte’s character Jane Eyre, people “must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.” I think Jane was onto something, because whenever I anticipate having a run-of-the-mill day, I feel obliged to wear a little something special, and this trench, with its oversized collar, front pockets, and bubble skirt, usually does the trick.

You would think that a punchy color like this would enjoy limited use in a wardrobe, but when you buy things in your favorite, most flattering colors, you’ll find yourself reaching for them over and over again.

White black windowpane

Along with my fondness for nearly theatrical proportions, I possess an incorrigible love of white and ivory pants. I insist on buying them, even though I have never been able to keep them clean or in good repair (we all have our vices). They do not pair well with park benches, coffee, pens, babies, or being in any sort of rush. I find it imperative to commute with a dark outer layer extending past the derriere for impromptu outdoor lunches, diaper changes, coffee on the drive in to work, etc.

 

Unpacked:

Black and White windowpane top, Merona via a friend’s closet sale.

Pants, Elie Tahari.

Shoes, Cole Haan.

Earrings, ?.

Necklace, via Polk Museum of Art Gift Shop.

Bubble-skirt trench, Samuel Dong via a charming little shop in Charleston, SC called   Ooh! Ooh! Shoes

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.

Wear THIS to An Art Exhibit in a Funeral Home

Some might say, “An art gallery in a funeral home? That’s a terrible idea.” To which I channel Under the Tuscan Sun and retort, “Hmm…terrible idea—don’t you just love those?”

Indeed, I am a complete sucker for wonderful terrible ideas, which is why I am so looking forward to the exhibit of Sarah Brewington’s Photography, Abby Jarvis’s poetry, and Michael McArthur’s music at the 2125 Gallery in the Lakeland Funeral Home tomorrow evening.

Adding to my intrigue is the exposure I’ve had so far to the artists’ works, which are anything but macabre.

So what does one wear to an art exhibit in a funeral home? Is black classic or too cliché? Is it bad form to rock bright color where others have travailed the murky waters of losing a loved one?

In another facility, I might shy away from anything too audacious, but when a website immediately assaults you with huge block letters reading, “Celebrate life,” you tend to think that these people are more about living fully and dying well, and isn’t that what artistic and sartorial expression is all about?

In that vein, I offer up to you the following recommendations for what to wear to a funeral home art gallery:

AT Jumpsuit Front

Yes, this is black, but you definitely won’t be mistaken for someone in mourning in a sharp tuxedo jumpsuit from Ann Taylor. I like this particular suit because it comes in petite and tall sizes (can I get an amen from all my girls who aren’t 5’5”?!). Add a bold cuff and earrings, a bright clutch, and you’re good to go.

Etro Saffron Dress

Conversely, (and given the natural elements in Brewington’s and Jarvis’s work), I might also go in a more bohemian direction. While my personal style could not be further away from boho, I saw this Etro dress in the November issue of Vogue and immediately thought if anything could tempt me in that direction, THIS would be it. This dress would be completely at home in an exhibit of this character. The wide belt and suede boots nod to the outfit’s natural inspiration but are polished, while the rich saffron pattern of the dress is solidly encamped in “free spirit luxe” rather than “I found this at the bottom of a clearance bin at Goodwill.” Bonus: the dress does the heavy lifting in the impact department, so you can just add a delicate gold earring and let the dress shine.

I hope to see you tomorrow night rocking your best YOU!