Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Sisters" in Radiant Orchid -- and tweed, of course

Shirt and tights: Reitman's; Shoes: Aldo; Stockings: from JQ Clothing; Skirt: thrift; Earrings, pendant, white gold chain, and brooch: vintage; Ring: Birks; Raincoat: London Fog
I felt remarkably confident about my appearance in this outfit. For one thing, I know Beau well enough that I knew he'd think this look was very sexy and, indeed, he did. He couldn't keep his eyes (or hands) off me! That certainly boosts self-esteem.

Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that I felt I was having a particularly good hair day. Beau saw it and said, "I love it when you wear you hair like that." I explained to him that it's not a choice; I always style it the same way when it's wet, but sometimes it behaves and sometimes it doesn't. Curly hair is like that.

In looking for a shirt to balance the colour in the stockings, I dug out an old shirt that's a bit tight for work now, but was fine for a sexier night out. 

It may or may not be the Pantone colour of the year, Radiant Orchid.


Every iteration of it online seems to be slightly different, sometimes seeming clearly pink and sometimes seeming clearly purple. The shirt is the same way. I really couldn't say what colour it is.

No matter. I like Pantone's colour of the year and I've discovered that my closet it already full of its many iterations.

Besides, this outfit wasn't about the shirt. It was about the stockings. I thought they were particularly sexy when paired with herringbone tights, brogues, and a tweed skirt (which you can also see here, and here). 

I'm not sure what it is about this sort of look that makes it sexy. I'd say it's that "school girl" look but that's just creepy. I think maybe it has something to do with the combination of quite prim, English countryside styles, and a certain sauciness in the shortness of the skirt, and the stockings that remind us all of the days of garter belts.

At any rate, I'd accurately predicted Beau's enthusiastic reaction to my outfit.

On Sal: Glasses: Oliver Peoples; Watch: Casio; Everything else: thrift
What I should have predicted but didn't is that my good friend, Sal, would be wearing a matching outfit. 

Sal and I go way way back. We've known each other for about twenty years and been very close friends for almost that long.

We grew close when he was running a wonderful, queer, open-mike night at the local queer cafe in the early 90s. I was a struggling writer, editor, and English tutor who once read a poem on open-mike night.

Michael York and Liza Minnelli in Cabaret, based on Christopher Isherwood's novel, Goodbye Berlin
Thus our friendship and our nicknames: Sally and Chris. Sally Bowles is a cabaret singer in the autobiographical novel Goodbye to Berlin, written by Christopher Isherwood about his time as an English tutor in Berlin in the 1930s. Sal is Sally and I'm Chris.

(Yes, my last name, Issyvoo, comes from Isherwood. Yes, Charlotte Issyvoo is my pen name. Yes, I also use psuedonyms for the people in this blog.) 

You may know the characters better from their iterations in the movie Cabaret. Liza positively owned the character of Sally, just as Sal owned the stage all those years ago. People went to see him more than any of the other performers. 

So Sal and I go way back. I am happy to say that he and Beau get along smashingly and Sal thoroughly approves of Beau, something I can not say for some of the people I've dated in the past.

And they're both so tall! When I walk in between them, I get them mixed up, as they tower overhead in some cloudy, hard to see zone.

One of the things that drew Sal and me to each other was our mutual love of meticulously constructed, retro inspired outfits. We don't just dress retro. We dress, say, Sylvia Plath, circa 1957 retro. And we always "get" what the other is up to in his or her outfit: what era, what sub-culture, what movie. We just get it.

But it doesn't end there. We have often met for a coffee or dinner and coincidentally worn matching outfits. This night was a case in point, both with our coats on ...

... and with our coats off.

True to form, we'd both paid careful attention to the details, and our details matched, from our black brogues ...

Do note the silver thread in his tie. I'm not sure it shoes all that well here.
... to our lovely tweeds ... 

... which, as you may recall, I adore. I cannot get enough of tweed.

Naturally, we both also paid careful attention to our jewelry. I thought both these pieces looked a bit old-school British and twee, which, along with the sauciness, was the look I was going for.

I was so excited by Sal's watch, that I had to stop in mid-conversation and ask him, "Where did you get that?!" He practically clapped his hands, he was so thrilled someone had noticed his amazing, retro find.

"Thank you for noticing!" he gushed. "I got it at Target! I know, it looks like it's circa 1981, doesn't it? But it isn't. I knew you'd get it."

Beau just sat there, amazed and amused by our mutual delight in the minutiae of fashion history. 

So, yeah, Sal and I matched.

Like two siblings who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and made good. We have each other's backs, sometimes literally. Sal brought me groceries twice a week -- on his bicycle -- for the first two years that I was disabled.

At the risk of being too gay, I have to say that, in composing this post about Sal and me, this dance and song keep playing in my head: Sisters, as sung by Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, and danced by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I'm trying to decide which one of us is Kaye and which is Crosby.


It was a fun night all round, brother and sister -- or sister and sister, or brother and brother -- bonding over the little things, knowing that we could leave some of the bigger things unspoken.

(As usual, I'm linking up for Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet. Spy Girl wants us to show her things we dug out of the back of our closets, so I'm showing her this shirt. I'm also linking up to Searching the Inner Me; she's new to me but I like her style.)


  1. I loved every bit of this! Radiant YOU!
    This: "bonding over the little things, knowing that we could leave some of the bigger things unspoken"
    A friendship like that is a rare and wonderful thing to have.

    Thank you for reminding me of Isherwood. I read him when I was a teen. Think it's time for a reread!
    Have you read his diaries? I read vol 1, he complains a lot, still, fascinating.

    1. I have read his diaries and I found him pretty annoying, actually, particularly given the political climate in Germany at the time. I wasn't thrilled with his preference for "rough trade" men -- lower class and not bright. It seemed very classist. This fetishization of working class men was quite common amongst a certain group of upper class gay men around that period... Huge topic.

      But I really like his novels. You should read A Single Man. Tom Ford made it into a great movie a few years ago but the book is, as always, even better.

    2. Yes, I remember when that movie came out. I don't think I've read that one. On the list! Will read it first -- I want my own images when I read. Then I'll watch the film.

  2. Oops! forgot to thank you for linking up! THANK YOU!!!!

  3. Thanks for introducing us to "Sal". Good friends are worth their weight in gold.
    Aren't you thrilled with Pantone's COTY? I know I am! Your outfit is spectacular, particularly because the proportions are absolutely perfect.


    1. Thanks, Alicia. Some people hate that colour but I must like it because I already have so much of it.

  4. Wow, already wearing colour of the year!!! So nice!!!
    This is such a lovely post, because all the things you say and the friendship with Sal and your amazing look.
    Thank you so much for linking up!!!

  5. Someday I'm actually going to sit down and watch Cabaret. :-) It's so great to have friends that "get" us, isn't it? You look smashing in Radiant Orchid and I love the argyle socks.

  6. You are clearly on each other's wave lengths. Cherish these friendships, because they are as fragile as life. I'm sure you know all about that.
    More serious matters: you rock that outfit, young lady. I always feel I ought to love shades of purple more than I do, and here is a lesson on why it's the favorite color of practically everyone! Of course Beau was enchanted!

  7. You look so good in 'Radiant Orchid' so it's definitely your year, my dear! Thank you for joining us for "How I Wear My: Coat". Adrienne and I each have a picture of you in our posts. It was great to have you with us again. XO, Jill

  8. Lovely! You, and this memoir. And I so agree about our curly hair -- *it* decides when to have a good hair day : > Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

  9. YOU look radiant - that color is very good on you. Any year, any day. Brogues are the best! You rocking yours- and your pal rocking his. Double trouble! Thank you for linking up to Shoe Shine- you are a STAR.