Friday, February 1, 2013

People Need Art: the blue overcoat edition

Hat and boots: thrift; Coat; vintage; Jeans; Reitmans
Here we have yet another case of my being so excited by a new purchase that I just threw it on over jeans and went out. I know this overcoat doesn't really go with jeans and boots. I know it calls for demure nylons and little, kitten heels, in keeping with its early 1960s vintage...

... a vintage that is proven not only by its cut, colour, fabric, and design, but also by the font and design of this original tag. Such tags are gold for odd ducks like me.

And, really, just in terms of quality alone, this was a good deal at only $25. Wool and mohair? Fully lined? Perfect condition. A modern coat of similar quality would run me several hundred dollars. But its charm is precisely the fact that it's not modern.

Ring: from Barefoot Contessa
So I was excited, threw the coat over jeans, and headed out into yet another rainy grey day, whether my outfit worked or not.

I don't generally consider royal and navy blues my colours (and sky blue is my least favourite colour in the world) so I seldom wear them. Interestingly, it seems that I therefore seldom notice them either. But wearing them this day did make me notice and even appreciate them in my neighbourhood.

They do add a kind of richness and colour saturation to my world. 

Lapis lazuli, used in the Nativity in an illuminated manuscript.
Certainly, the introduction of lapis lazuli into Western paint pigments had a huge impact on the world of art in the late medieval period. I'm drawn to this work but have only recently considered it for my own wardrobe. 

A brown-eyed gal in royal blue? No way. I must actually again thank the shop gal at Reitmans for this idea. She put me in a few shirts that changed my mind.

Shirt: INC
Besides, I had an important event to go to: the arrival of my Sublime Mercies business cards! I figured having them will make me seem less suspect when I approach women in public and ask to take their photos. Plus, some people ask for my blog's name and it seems so... amateurish to scribble it down on a scrap of paper. I mean, I am an amateur, but I can pretend I'm not.

I think the above photo of me with said card makes me look like a complete dork but this blog is in part about embracing one's curves and there are curves galore in the photo. Besides, you get to see the pretty gathers on my t-shirt, and the perfect lining in my new coat.

The colours and patterns in his sweater and counter are echoed in the two other images.
This guy runs our little local print shop. He's a favourite amongst local artists, musicians, actors, playwrites, etc, because they can actually afford his prices for their promotional posters. 

And yes, there are a lot of artists in my neighbourhood, as well as academics. It's a very bohemian, queer-friendly place and I love that about it.

Brooch: vintage
 You can see some of their posters behind me in this photos.

Yes, I did choose to use an Art Nouveau style font for my card.
Isadora Duncan
The font is called Isadora, named, I assume, after Isadora Duncan, the dancer some say was the inventor of modern dance.

Is an Art Nouveau font too cliched? Too Rhoda Morgenstern? Well, it's my blog and I'll Art Nouveau if I want to! 

Besides, I adore Ms. Morgenstern and she remains a beauty and fashion icon for me.

You can see the edge of an Art Nouveau poster on the left on Rhoda's apartment wall in the above photo. It's font is somewhat akin to the one on my card. You can also see an Art Deco Vogue cover. Rhoda was the bohemian one. 

Don't get me started on how badly we need to bring back her headscarves. I'll save that, and headscarves in synagogue, for another day!

I digress! I do that a lot.

I also recently bought yet another amazing, vintage brooch. The Salvation Army was very very good to me this week. Is this brooch not a thing of great beauty? Is it not art? Is style not art? Rhoda would agree. (See how I did that? See how I deftly tied a complete tangential digression into the substance of my post? Watch this next segue for deftness...)

Speaking of art, my old friend, Jenny met me for lunch wearing this pin: "People need art." If art includes style, writing, and literature, then I can certainly agree. People may not need art to live but they do need it to live well. 

If I couldn't write, I'd go mad. I think Jenny feels the same way about singing. She leads choirs and calls herself a "song instigator." Music is art too, right?

Jenny is sporting what I will now officially dub Androgyne Chic. I like the term because I think the writer Anais Nin would have used it and there was a time in my youth when I idolized her.
Anais Nin
Androgyne Chic is style that would look equally well on a man or a woman, especially one as fit and lithe as Jenny. She's so able-bodied, her health practically emanates from her. Anais Nin would have found her delectable.


Jenny was really taken with my lamps and this one so echoes my brooch, that I thought I'd show it here. You've seen it before, here and here.

I told her about Louis Comfort Tiffany and his very early 20th century lamps, and I told her about his jewelry, both of which fit perfectly with Art Nouveau. She giggled and thought me esoteric and cutely odd for knowing such things.

Doesn't everyone know about Louis Comfort Tiffany? Ay me!

Of course, Jenny knows things about reading music that would leave me dumbfounded.
I showed Jenny around my place, and cooed over my various pretty things. Jenny, who knew me in my late teens and early twenties, back in ye olde lesbian-feminist days, asked, "Have you always been this way? I don't remember you being this way."

"I was," I said, "but I was trying to hide it, even from myself, like a gay kid trying not to know he's gay. I thought it wasn't feminist."  

Well poop on that!

This is how my mind works... colours lead to fashion trends lead to fonts lead to television shows lead to art movements lead to lamps lead to head scarves... It never stops and it can be quite delightful if I don't censor it. That's why I had to create this blog: to get all that joy and all those connections out onto a page.

And so my blue overcoat and I bid you adieu for another day.


  1. I love Rhoda, always have.

  2. I'm reading some of your older posts because you're delightful and this makes me wonder: did you ever do a headscarves post?

    1. I don't think I have. I'm wearing one in a few posts: Charlotte Goes Camp, and Canada Day Pride or something like that. I love how much they immediately show my ethnicity; I look like I've stepped right off a shtetl! I'd like to write a post on Jewish head covering, something very few liberal Jewish women do in Shull anymore. I like the head coverings and the idea behind them, not as mandatory, but as a choice, a humbling oneself before G-d. But, then, I don't tend to write about my faith much in general.

    2. I'd certainly be interested in such a post if you did write one. A religious headcoverer myself, I'm always interested in others' takes on it. And yes, head covering is becoming less and less common for liberals of any faith, although if you count liberal Jewish women in kippahs, perhaps Judaism has more than most.

    3. I'm really quite vain about my hair, so the idea of covering it in humility is interesting to me. Plus, of course, some women's head coverings are so pretty! I love those little lace doily things but nobody wears them anymore. I almost wore one to my wedding. Sometimes wearing a head scarf can be a vain thing too, because they're so beautiful. I've got to say that I dislike the kippah on a woman. Why adopt the men's way? Is it any less meaningful than the women's way? Plus, you know, they're ugly.

      You see a push/pull between my love of fashion and the real intent of head coverings here.