Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Charlotte Issyvoo: Mid-70s, Funky, Cool Guy

Boots: Ecco; Cords: Reitmans; Cape: London Fog; Hat: Goodrin Brother; Clutch: thrift
The minute I tried on these corduroy trousers, I knew they had to go with these boots. I knew just the look I would go for too: mid-70s, funky, cool guy... girl... whatever.

... like Hyde from That 70s Show. After surgery, years ago, I was rather stupid from the drugs, and I suddenly got into this show. So I knew exactly the boots he had, the tan cords he wore them with, and the way he crossed his ankle over his knee when he wore them...

... just like this, see?

Such boots were all the rage in the 70s. Even Donna had them, and didn't they make her look cool?

Many of my generation lament the loss of that unisex decade, when boys and girls dressed alike, as did men and women.They even wore their hair the same way much of the time.

I just had to run with it.

Shirt: Reitmans
The next step was to find the right, wonderfully horrible polyester shirt. No problem! Brown flowers on a black background? Done.

Add a vaguely phallic pendant, and Bob and I are soul brothers... sisters... whatever.

Sparkly, gold-coloured barrettes: Stylize
Hair? Well, I've been using a new (to me) curl cream from Bumble and Bumble and I'm still getting the knack of it. This day, it was a little too effective, unless I really wanted to have Bob's hair. So I clipped back the very top bits and, voila, Jackie and I had a little something in common too.

Of course, it's always better to go to authentic sources for one's fashion history. After all, That 70s Show was merely set in the 70s. It wasn't actually made in the 70s.

So to All in the Family and Gloria Stivic, that authentic 70s, fashion-forward, girlie girl. Yup, that's the right hair style. Yay me.

Note too her orange, cowl necked sweater.

Brooch: vintage
You really couldn't go wrong with orange in the 70s, especially when you paired it with brown (like this cape), gold (the brooch), or tan (my trousers). My old high school teacher, who has a great sense of style and will probably show up in this blog some day, loathes all 70s fashion, which she refuses to call 'fashion' at all. She particularly loathes brown and orange together, saying the combination should only ever appear in tartans.

Sorry, teach. I had to do it!

Pendant: vintage; Gold hoop earrings: Jessica
One could almost have an acid trip looking at this pendant, so that's in keeping with the decade too.

Ring: vintage
I admit that this ring isn't period specific but I just got it and I love it and it's orange and brown and tan and gold... so I wore it anyway.


Here are all the colours yet again. I call this my Archie Bunker hat and have done for years...

... although I admit that my hat isn't a dead-on match for Archie's. Still, you must admit that his coat would go well with my hat.

There's that hairstyle on Gloria again too.

Ring: Birks; Bracelet: vintage; Feather brooch: a vintage gift from my friend Sal, who will show up in this blog soon
Add my Keith Richards ring (as one friend calls it), an Avon bracelet, and a gold feather which slightly pimps out my hat... and voila!

I'm a mid-70s, funky, cool guy... gal... whatever.

(A note about Wikipedia: I have provided links to Wikipedia here but will try my darndest not to do so for any topics of actual import or potential controversy. As a teacher, I never let my students use it as it can be changed by anyone in the public and that's a process I don't really trust, despite my left-leaning, egalitarian tendencies. Beau will disagree with me on this topic but I just couldn't use Wikipedia without explaining my views.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tweedy, Sexy Librarian?

This post is going to be mostly about fashion since there's very little actual narrative to the day and the outfit itself didn't suggest to me any particular topic... Well, there was an interesting story that led me to an odd connection to jewelry and the upcoming Grammys, but I'm saving that for another post.

Beau and I just went for a little stroll in my neighbourhood and took some photos on the way.

White gold hoops: Jessica; Brooch: vintage
I asked Beau which brooch I should wear and he said one that's a spaceship. My friend (and cleaning lady, my disability making it impossible for me to do all the cleaning myself) said that this one is "almost a spaceship." Indeed, I'm assuming it's from the 60s when the craze for the Space Age had a huge influence on fashion and one can see that here. Beau, however, was not appeased.


I don't know if this ring is space age, but it sure is bizarre and fun. It's Aldo but I got it for a few dollars at Miscellany, one of my favourite charity thrift stores. I got the skirt and vest there too.

One of the first nice things I bought myself years ago, when I got my good job, was a London Fog raincoat in a petite. Throw that puppy on over any outfit and you suddenly look put together and classy.

My original one is still in perfect shape but it's too tight now, given my weight gain after my back gave out. This is my new one, also a petite, but a size up.

London Fog's stuff is insanely practical as well as timelessly stylish. The raincoats are truly waterproof, and come with removable linings so, in this climate, I can wear them in three seasons. They also have little hooks and buttons and flaps in all the places you didn't know you needed them. My one complaint with the last one was that the belt often slipped out if it wasn't tied. Naturally, they've found a solution for that, with an invisible button and fabric thingy that I don't even really understand.

Shirt: Reitmans; Boots: Ecco; Leggings: damned if I can remember; Raincoat: London Fog; Skirt and vest: thrift
You can see their famous lining here. It too has complicated but easy to use button, zipper, and elastic arrangements so it stays in place.

Beau started to make burlesque striptease music as I took the raincoat off so I hammed it up a bit here.

Glasses: Polo Ralph Lauren
This outfit suggested to me some combination of schoolgirl, teacher, and librarian, so the glasses were a necessity. I really do need my glasses but not all that badly so my vanity often keeps me from wearing them.

This disappoints Beau. He loves my glasses.


You'd be amazed by how many people, male and female alike, have their little "hot for teacher" dreams. You know the one, where the teacher whips out her bun, and whips off her glasses, and her stern exterior is transformed, revealing a smoldering heat and passion along with that impressive brain? Yeah, that one. It's right up there with Princess Leah in the golden bikini.

This skirt is pretty short for me. My lowered self-esteem has also lowered my hem lines. But my self-esteem is improving. Besides, I think this skirt looks pretty sassy and, if I do say so myself, makes my bum look pretty cute. I have more curves now and I'm learning that they are sometimes a real asset to an outfit.

Besides, I'm pretty sure Jessica Fletcher would wear it -- if it were longer.

Herringbone tweed! What could be finer?

Clutch: thrift
Clutches are great for my back, as shoulder strap purses twist my spine and hurt me. The shape of this one and the great clasp won me over. It too is Aldo but I got it at Value Village.

In keeping with my love of the second hand, here I am in a second hand bookstore. I probably should have bought this but it seemed awfully heavy for my poor back. Beau would have carried it for me though. Maybe I'll go back for it.

Shakespeare is not easy for most people to read. I was about twenty-five when, suddenly, his work became so easy for me that I could read it on the bus standing up (back when I could stand up on a moving bus). But I'd been studying him since grade eight, right through university.

Once Shakespeare is easy, Chaucer is a breeze. Seriously. Old English (a.k.a Anglo Saxon), like Beowulf, is still a challenge for me, but not impossible. Old English was my favourite subject during my M.A. Of all A grades, that's the only one I'm really very proud of. I worked really hard for that one. It was invigorating.

Glasses: Geek Eyewear; T-shirt: a gift from his parents, don't know brand; Shirt: thrift
But I digress. Back to style. As promised, here's Beau's new haircut. I admit that I kind of miss the mop it had become but it was impossible and all cowlicky and drove him crazy.

Local street art. Brainy people -- and owls -- with glasses seem to be today's theme. I believe this fence, abutting a playground, belongs a local CBC radio host but I'm not sure. I always feel a tiny bit famous when I walk by it.


With his blue eyes, glasses, and slightly stunned look, I think Beau resembles the owl a little here. He was uncharacteristically quiet and subdued all day. It turned out he was coming down with a bad cold.


This brooch belonged to my maternal grandmother. I thought it went well with the teal shirt I was wearing. After all, all the silly magazines tell me that I need a "pop" of colour these days.

Grandma was crazy about brooches. When she died, my cousins and I were allowed to dig through her costume jewelry box and I took two brooches and a necklace, to remember her by. These two brooches launched my crazy love for what I dub Grandma Brooches. I have an ever growing collection of them. I cannot go into a thrift store without searching for more.

I also inherited her Art Deco, platinum and diamond, engagement ring, which started my crazy love for fine jewelry, but accumulating that takes a lot more time!

Did I mention my funky ring? Beau tried to bite me here, and then looked sly. He wasn't completely out of it after all.

Tee hee.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beau Gets a Haircut, and Charlotte is Spent

Skirt, tights, and gloves: Reitmans; Cane: Life; Boots: Ecco; Earrings and brooch: vintage; Cape: London Fog; Blouse: Everly; Bracelet: from Jean Queen
Chronic pain is an up and down thing. Over the course of the last four and half years, the pain has steadily decreased, and my abilities have therefore increased. However, on any given day, the pain goes up and down, sometimes for no obvious reason.

Generally though, the reason is clear: I did stuff. I walked for too long. I sat up for too long. I stayed at the computer too long. I did too much housework.

"Too long"  and "too much" are very relative terms. The above transformation from chipper, pert me, to pain-addled and completely drained me took a little over three hours. Here's what I did: I walked the few blocks to transit; I took the 20 minutes transit ride downtown; I walked a few blocks downtown to a few shops; I accompanied Beau to the hairdresser; I walked a few more blocks to two more shops.

That's it. That's all it took. I was in even worse shape by the time I'd taken transit home again.

True, I used to feel like hell just trying to open my apartment door and I'd begin to tremble with exhaustion just having a phone conversation. So, yeah, things are much much better.

But when just washing the dishes causes me pain for hours afterwards... Well, it gets me down. I'm only human after all.
The before and after photos of me reminded me immediately of the Norman Rockwell painting: The Outing, from 1947. Do take the time to look at the change on every single face... except grandma's! She's unflappable.

Beau's glasses: Geek Eyewear; Vest: North 49. T-shirt: he took the tag off so who knows? Sweater and jeans: "vintage".
As usual, Beau was a brick. It's nice to have someone to lean on -- literally. In these before and after photos, he reminds me of the grandmother in The Outing: he's fine; I'm destroyed.

Don't worry though; he leans on me too, lots. But being able-bodied and 6'1'' to my 5'4'', he generally leans on me figuratively, not literally.

Anyway, Beau needed a haircut so a trip downtown was in order.

My sunglasses, gold chain, and earrings: vintage; Tank-top: Reitmans. Beau's glasses: do you really want to know? His shirt: from a sports team in Sri Lanka, where he lived and worked for many years.
There was a time when Beau's idea of a haircut was taking ten year old clippers to his head. It's beyond me why on earth a middle-aged (well, almost) man with a full head of hair would buzz cut it.

He also thought the above shirt and glasses were "fine." I explained to him the difference between "fine" and "good," told him he is "objectively handsome" and could look a lot better, and he became eager to learn more. As tactfully as I could, I suggested a good step would be to grow his hair longer. I also said that his little, itty-bitty glasses had to go.

Given our difference in height, this is the usual result when we try to take a photo of us together.
The results were spectacular. He loves his new glasses, or did once I said they made him look like a NASA scientist from the 60s. And his hair turned out to be nearly black, silky, and thick. But it really had grown to have a will of its own and it was time for Beau's first ever trip to a Real Hairdresser...


... in the big city, which is a very short metro ride from my place. After having lived in New York, Montreal, and Toronto, I don't find it big or intimidating at all. Look at all that open space around us. If I wanted to, I could swing my arms around and not hit anyone at all!

One can even see the mountains down at the end of the corridors of buildings. New York can't say that about its concrete canyons!

The Hudson's Bay Company: for better or worse, a Canadian icon of colonialism, beaver hunting, shopping, and, well, Canada. This is one of our oldest surviving downtown buildings.

Doesn't Beau look just like Mary Tyler Moore here?
Did you doubt me?

Whenever I wear this cape, I just have to do this -- a lot.

FYI, these tights are not actually pink. They're a deep berry shade. I have pink tights, but these aren't them.

We don't have a lot of lovely details like this in this city. The beauty is in the views, not the architecture. Any city that features stucco as prominently as this one does is not a city that can brag about its architectural design.


Urine-smelling alley. Every city's got 'em.


This brooch is so unusual that I paid a whopping $15 for it, which is a lot for vintage. I've never seen jewelry like this. If anyone knows more about the style, do let me know. I think it's Swiss?

Purple eye shadow. I think it's working. What do you think? I wear very little makeup and often wear none at all. Some day I'll write a blog post about that.


Beau was pleased with himself for creating this new look of vest with sweater. It does look good on him. I swear to God that his transformation into cool geek dude was not something I forced upon him. He's taken to it like a fish to water.

All his friends and family are commenting on his transformation and they're all giving me credit for it but I think the only credit I deserve is in helping him to see how handsome he really is. It's not only women who have doubts about their appearance, and problems with body image.

Everyone's saying I've made a great transformation too. My hairdresser told Beau I'm a "whole new woman" since I met him. I'd kind of given up since my back injury but I do feel beautiful again, or at least worthy of beauty.

Red and purple: a pretty daring combination but I couldn't resist this bracelet.

See? My eyes really aren't brown, despite what most people think. They're green on the outside and, yes, orange around the pupil. Beau used to be fascinated by this but I think he's used to it now.

Ring: vintage
It's in the details, baby.

And so our day was done and I was utterly spent. Pain is more exhausting that most people can imagine. In addition to my limited abilities, this is why I can't yet work full time.

I'll admit, I was pretty depressed for quite some time after this trip. I cried a lot of tears this past week about how much I'm still limited by my pain.

My physiotherapist says I'm walking and going out too much and need to cut back so I've enough energy to do my boring and painful strength training at home. Exciting, able-bodied weight lifting it ain't. Bleah.

I guess it's more bird watching for me.

God I felt horrible, so horrible I completely forgot to photograph Beau's fancy new haircut. I'll post it soon.

The photo reminds me of Norman Rockwell's Home from Vacation from 1930. I looked at it recently and her head on his shoulder, and his hand tenderly on her hip reminded me of me and Beau.

And wouldn't you just love to have her shoes?