Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Feeling Like Piglet: All Brave in Brown and Gold

Dress and sunglasses: thrift; Gold locket and chain: vintage
This was not an easy day. On this day, just like Piglet, I did a Very Brave Thing, and met with a woman who helped me fill out some forms to begin the process of getting some compensation for my back injury. This form required me to give details about my life that are troubling to face, let alone talk or write about.

I wanted to be comfortable but I also wanted to feel good about the way I looked. I wanted to feel like a success, not a victim.

So I was brave in brown and gold. I don't really know why, but wearing real gold and diamonds makes me feel stronger.

It was especially important to me that I wear this locket. I always wanted a locket like this when I was a child and I finally got one for myself, for my child self, when I successfully "passed" my final evaluation at the college where I teach. It reminds me of how far I've come.

Gold Earrings: Birks; Rose stud: from The Barefoot Contessa
When I'm feeling low or vulnerable, I also like to wear roses, particularly these little rosebud earrings that match a bracelet my great-grandmother gave me when I was very small. Pink roses are, for me, a symbol of the fact that I needn't forsake my femininity to be a strong survivor.

These earrings, from Toni Cavelti, were a major splurge. They just seemed like they were made for me and my curly, auburn/brown hair. They're high class but still little bit boho -- like me, I hope.

Gold-fill, bangle bracelet: vintage; Westfield watch: vintage; Gold-fill and coral ring on left: gift from Beau; Small gold an diamond ring: vintage; Larger gold ring: Effy
I worked very hard to get to the place I am today, with the career I have. Having left home at seventeen and put myself through a BA, a TESL, and an MA, I'd been poor for a very long time before I got my job.

What did I do with the money? I didn't buy a car. I didn't buy a condo. I didn't go into any debt.

I bought books, and exercise equipment.

And fine jewelry.

But then my old back injury took over and I became badly crippled. I've lost tens of thousands of dollars in income I would have earned were my back strong enough to work full time, not to mention all the added expenses of being crippled: canes, a decent bed, physiotherapy, sensible shoes, a cleaning lady, grocery delivery, medications, heating pads, ice packs, taxi fare ...

Would you like me to go on?

So today I was doing this brave thing, hoping to get back just a little (and I know, at best, it will only be a little) of what I've lost.

Beau came with me for moral support and we managed to make a bit of a day of it (well, for me, with my back, a few hours of it). My outfit being kind of retro, I just had to pose in front of the old neon Aristocratic sign.

I remember eating in that restaurant on this corner in the middle of the night in the 80s. I was fourteen, very high, very hungry, and very much in love with every one of my friends. We were all very high. I don't do that anymore but it's still a fond memory.

Today, the sign is all that's left of the Aristocratic. In its place is a monstrous Chapters bookstore that seldom carries the books I want.

Handbag: a gift from a friend; Shoes: Munro
I chose the dress first when putting together this outfit, but it was the shoes that pushed my toward going quite vintage in the look. In fact, it's really only the shoes that make this outfit seem so 40s in style. I did also tie the waist ribbon in such a way as to mimic the flat tummy panels one often sees on late 30s and early 40s dresses and shirts.

I don't often carry this handbag, as I think it looks a bit too hippie-ish with the wrong outfit, but I thought it looked suitably retro with this outfit. Its texture is fascinating.

And, of course, the watch is the real deal: 1940s. I recently took it to a jeweler and watch maker to learn more about it. Wait for an upcoming post to hear the whole story.

All I'll say now is that $30 was a very very good deal. Will that keep you in suspense?

All things considered, I think the retro look worked pretty well.

In this photo, I have the silhouette that I often see in "matronly" ladies in 30s and 40s movies. I'd always thought that the creation of that silhouette was a trick of the dress fashions of the day and I kept my eye out for such a dress. Now I realize it's actually just a "trick" of getting older and curvier.

I guess back then the women who played the mother roles in Hollywood weren't expected to keep their girlish figures.

Of course, with this comes a real bosom, something I'm still getting used to having. Beau kept commenting on my cleavage in this dress but I didn't see what he meant until I saw the photos. Oopsie! Oh well. There are worse fashion blunders than showing what one's got.

We had a whole bus stop audience for this photo. I was shy but they were amused.

Because Beau knew I was doing a Very Brave Thing, he bought me this book on Mae West while I was filling out the forms for my compensation. I've recently introduced him to her as a woman who was proud of her curves.

After my appointment, I really wanted to look at even more art and picture books so we went back to the art book store (not the Chapters) where I found this book of Vogue covers. I hemmed and hawed, worried about money as I now am... and then Beau just bought it for me. "You've had a hard day," he said, "and you deserve it."

He's so nice.

Then we had Thai food. Being brave is hungry work!

I got this bracelet for $4.00 from an old man selling junk on the street. It's stamped Ladye Fayre and "GF" for gold-fill. I looked it up online and found it. It's from the 50s and worth about $200.

I'm a vintage shopping genius!

I got the ring on the left for about $80. Not too bad for gold and diamonds. 

I think these look lovely together. What do you think?

After dinner, Beau and I drove back across town in our tiny little car co-op car, and parked around the corner from my place, where I knew the lilacs would be starting to bloom.

The evening light on this tree was positively golden. This photo doesn't do it justice.

We lounged beneath the tree on grass so mossy, it felt like a thick, silk rug.

Yes, I know I'm really white.


When I'm anxious, I get flushed and hot. The grass and the shade and the evening itself were wonderfully cool and relaxing.

I'd been putting on a brave face all day.

Now I could let it go.

I was very tired and my back was very sore. And Beau was very sweet.

Sometimes, I don't want to look cute, or pretty, or even beautiful.

Sometimes, I just want to look tough. I'm not really designed to look tough; I'm short and smallish, with kind of round cheeks, and a wholesome, girl-next-door look. So I've spent a lifetime making up for it in what has been described as a "spiky" and "prickly" personality. I think I've over compensated a wee bit. I'm working on that.

Beau wouldn't take photos of me in front of these blossoms. He said I was tired and my back hurt and I needed to go home and relax. He was absolutely right.

So I took the photos myself.

Thus the smug expression on my face.

Have you ever tried nuzzling flowers? Do. You'll like it.

And thus, with flower petals in my hair, I bid adieu to a day in which I did, as Piglet would say, A Very Brave Thing.



  1. Another beautiful post. That sign from the Aristocratic Restaurants brought back memories!

  2. Thanks. Being on that corner made me feel like a part of my city's history. That's why I made one of the photos black and white. I wanted it to look like a street photo from the 40s.

  3. Congratulations on getting that Very Brave Thing out of the way ... Beau was so kind to buy you such precious goodies to pore over this weekend:). I love the outfit details, the bracelet is amazing and what a bargain - you certainly have an eye for treasure! xo

    1. Beau's trying to convince me to turn my "eye for treasure" into profit, but how could I sell any of my little beautiful finds?

      I think my "oopsie" pose by the Aristocratic sign was influenced by you, or maybe just old pin-ups.