Friday, March 3, 2017

60s Geo-Prints, Wondrous Whimsy, and a Trip Down Memory Lane

This post is a first for me: It's a product promo post! I'm styling this dress for Kitty Canuck, an online, Canadian, plus size retailer. After Trump won the election, and tensions among marginalized people were understandably high, Kitty expressed her desire for more diversity amongst the women who model her clothing for her. I spontaneously said that I am white, but I'm also middle-aged and disabled and would be happy to model a dress for her. Not only from a fashion perspective, but also from a disability perspective. She liked the idea. 

I picked the Cherry Velvet Danielle Dress in Black Geo.

Dress: Cherry Velvet from Kitty Canuck; Boots: Ecco; Blouse: Eloquii; Socks: from JQ Clothing; Jacket: Target; Gloves, glasses, cape, tam, cape, and scarf: vintage

Before I talk about how I styled the dress, I'll tell you that it does indeed work well on my mobility scooter. After I ask myself if I like an article of clothing, my second question to myself is always, "Will it cause me increased pain?" Tight waist bands or elastic waists always bite hard into my tender, injured back and hurt a lot. This is especially true when I'm sitting down, which, as a disabled person, I do a lot.

You may not have ever thought about it, but our waists expand the minute we sit down. Outfits that look and feel great when I'm standing up, can immediately start to bind and hurt when I sit down. If I'm wearing anything tailored to fit my waist, I need to make sure it either has overall stretch (as opposed to an elastic waistband) or leaves me extra room for waist expansion -- all without looking too loose and frumpy

This dress fits the bill. Its sizing is generous, without being so generous that my body is overwhelmed by it. The empire waist is a nice touch too, as we all tend to expand a bit less in our upper waist than in our bellies. And, of course, if you're feeling insecure about your belly, an empire waist will help obscure it. In other words, it's figure-flattering whilst still leaving a lot of breathing room for me. 

I also have to think about whether or not my underwear will show when I'm on my scooter. If I need to squeeze my knees together to prevent this from happening, my pain levels shoot up in minutes and my day is ruined This skirt is full enough that I don't need to worry about that at all, yet it's not so full that it could catch in my wheels. I do wear full skirts and dresses, but I'm constantly checking to see if they're dragging on the ground or about to cause a disastrous wardrobe malfunction.

The strangely fun back of this dress is irrelevant to my disability but certainly worth showcasing. It is unexpected but it works, with or without a shirt underneath it, and no, your bra straps won't show, even if they're the stupidly wide ones most full-figured women wear. 

The back is attached to the collar in the front and it takes a little figuring out, but now that I know what I'm doing, it's easy peasy. 

But, all that aside, I first pick my clothes not because they're disability friendly, but because I like them. I picked this dress because it's not like anything else I own. I knew its cut would be flattering on a curvy figure, because I do have dresses with similar cuts. But I don't have dresses with geo-prints, or I didn't, anyway. From a distance, it looks black, white, and red, but it's actually black, white, orange, and pink - sort of. Whatever the colours, I like them, and I'll pair the dress with either orange or tomato red, or, as in this case, both.

Lately, I'm really into late 60s and early 70s patterns and colours combinations. There was certainly nothing subtle about them!

I'm just old enough to remember having worn them myself. See? Is it just me or is this little outfit I wore for my 4th birthday quite stunningly similar, in colour and style, to my outfit in this post?

I love that!

But please don't merely say I look cute in that old photo. I was already being sexually abused by Smother and many of her friends and the unbearable sorrow in my face shows it. 

That little girl was me. I am that little girl. My eyes already had that haunted look about them that I will never lose.

But, yeah, I was also cute, here in a very similar outfit, getting ready to blow out the candles on my third birthday.

Clearly, crazy colours and the shirt under the jumper/overalls/dress thing was a popular trend in the early 70s.

(And, yes, in case you were wondering, I was very often compared to three literary girls with auburn braids: Pipi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, and Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House on the Prairies books. I'm going to come back to that in an upcoming post about my lifelong love affair with books.)

See that look of pride in my outfit?

Nothing new, eh?

Anyway, add a pussy bow to this general, 60s/70s theme and, presto!

You're all grownup.

So adding this royal blue, Eloquii, pussy bow blouse to my outfit was a no-brainer. I really love the striking contrasts. They're so bold! 

While the colours of my dress remind me of the late 60s, the cut of it reminds me much more of ...

... the early 60s.

And, of course, fashions change slowly, so the fuller dresses coexisted for a while with the Mod-influenced styles that followed. Check out Betty's outfit on the bottom left. A bit like mine? I'd say so! Such older comics were still lying around here and there in my childhood. After all, it's not like we just throw things out when styles change. If you doubt me, think of your grandparents' living room. Did/does it seem preserved in aspic several decades before you were born? I'll bet it did!

Pipi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables, Betty... Are you noticing a bit of a literary theme here?

Somehow, this outfit reminded me of the sometimes playful whimsy of reading, so expect a part 2 and 3 of this post, all about books books books!

But back to the outfit. In my opinion, a lot of 60s and early 70s jewelry, and fashion in general, wasn't exactly beautiful. It had a harshness about it that is something of an acquired taste.

I find in that fact a metaphor for life itself: there can be beauty in struggle and difficulty.

I sometimes think there's a kind of odd, almost masochistic honesty in such pieces. Is that weird? I don't mind if you say it is.

These harsh lines are echoed in these great, vintage, men's glasses that I got for $20 and then had fitted with my prescription. (Note the heavy eyeliner on my upper lids, too, an absolute staple of the 60s and early 70s.) Yes, I really do need glasses but I'm too vain to wear them ...

... unless they go with my outfit, which these certainly did. This is one of my new favourite photos of myself.

Do you like my gloves? How could you not? They're Club Monaco but I got them second hand for $40. Not bad, eh? They knock me out, they're so cool.

Let's be honest: they're sexy!

Beau's wearing my hat, an Old Navy shirt, and a jacket I got for him at Marks Workwear World. He and I were both digging out our seldom worn, winter wear as we had an extremely long and unusual cold and snowy snap here this year.

It was so cold! I hated it. This was one of the first days that the snow had melted enough for me to go out on my scooter.

But I still had to remember how to dress for real winter, a skill I haven't needed since I last lived in Toronto, when I was getting my MA (in English, something I'll write about more in my upcoming book posts). Layering is a skill I had to call up from about 15 years ago.

Under all, I wore a warm cami, stockings, and tall socks.

Over the basic outfit: a little sweater ...

... and a vintage scarf that matched the dress so well, it was almost nuts. I don't even remember getting this scarf but I'm glad I did.

You may recall that my basic, pea-coat style winter coat was getting too small (I, however, am not getting too big!). I had a hell of a time finding a replacement for it. It seems that the must-have winter coat this year is a puffer jacket but I've never been one to be a slave to current fashion trends so I held out and finally found this one at Target online. The pockets are poorly placed, I think, and bulge in unflattering ways, but, otherwise, it's pretty good.

And then there was my world famous wool cape over all.

And I was still too damned cold!

So I wore my little tam too. I don't usually wear toques and other knit hats because they're useless in rain, but this year was totally different from our usual winters so I found this at a local vintage shop and have been wearing it often. It's cute but guess what? I was still too cold.

Remember, I generate virtually no body heat on my scooter, and the icy wind whips against me, especially my hands, face, shins, and toes. It's freezing!

My disabled friends on wheels in other places, how on earth do you deal with real winters? How do you stay warm? And do they actually bother to clear the sidewalks of snow where you live? They didn't here and it drove me wild with anger and frustration.

But when we took these photos, the snow was finally clear enough that I was starting to regain my freedom so, obviously, my mood was improving. And I was wearing this whimsical dress that made me think of books, so, of course, I was having fun too. Complete strangers compliment it and that's never a bad thing.

I'm super excited about Parts 2 and 3 of this post, which will give you lots of reading ideas for young and old alike, and will give you some weird and wonderful insights into my intellectual development from a little mite of five, to the bookish brainiac nerd I have become. I'm enjoying writing them. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Stay tuned.

(I'm sharing this with Rachel the Hat, In the Writer's ClosetTina's Pink Friday, Honest MumAdri LatelyFashion Should Be Fun, Not Dead Yet, Elegantly Dressed and StylishNot Dressed As Lamb, Style Nudge, and Style Crone.)


  1. Dear Charlotte, you look fabulous in this dress. I like the colour and the back looks great. Well it is comfortable in wearing. I like.
    I wish you a nice weekend. XO Tina

    1. Thanks, Tina. This one would look good on you too, I think. I don't know if you can get it in Europe. You have a more clothing selection there than we do though. Canada in particular is a bit tough for shopping. We have such a small population in such a huge land, shipping ends up costing too much for stores to stock as much as they in the States, let alone European countries.

  2. Lovely new dress and some serious layering here!! I also enjoy discovering that I still like some of the same things I loved and wore as a child or teen, it's such a warm feeling of reconnecting with myself. Your cape is simply fabulous!

    Thank you for joining MM!

    1. I know! The layering was insane! I'm glad it's warming up now. We've had the weirdest winter, as you know.

      I love my cape too but, to be honest, it's nearing the end of its life. I'll eke it out as a long as I can, but it's getting tired. Wait till you see the burgundy/purple one I got! You'll plotz! But it's a bit heavy for my beleaguered body.

  3. The 60's and early 70's are looking good to me too - esp since Mary Tyler Moore died, RIP, and we've been seeing lots of pics of her. And you look wonderful in this print dress - love the back. Sorry for all the pain that sweet little girl had to endure. xox


    1. It's hard for me to look at old photos of myself too. Beau finds it almost impossible because he thinks of all the suffering I endured. But it was nice this time to remember the moments of fun. Even the worst childhood has some. Children find ways to thrive, even in hell. The post just after this is about just that, especially my childhood reading. It has even more childhood photos. It was cathartic.

      MTM fashions are really making a comeback right now and I'm jumping onto that bandwagon with both feet - metaphorically, of course.

  4. Love the knit pattern of your tam! And, Beau looks great wearing your cap; it really tops off his jacket nicely! Thank you for sharing with Hat Attack!

    1. A tam just seemed such a great thing to bring back for our odd winter this year. Beau used to have a better quality cap like mine but, sadly, he lost it. I think he looks awfully handsome in it, and I'm a total sucker for tweed.

  5. That dress is indeed rather special; I really like how the print looks approximately like a plaid until you get closer, and then it's clearly completely different!
    It looks to me like you should have a shaped blanket to cover your lower half whilst sitting there. Waxed canvas or some such fabric, to keep out the wind, with a warm wool and/or furry lining to keep you warm. I have seen scooter couriers with lower-body rain covers, which might give an idea of the sort of thing I mean? Only you'd want more serious insulation for heat retaining.
    Most of all, my heart aches for that poor little girl, for your pain.

    1. You're right: from a distance, it does look like plaid, which is why I think it looks so similar to my little plaid outfits from my childhood. My heart aches for the little girl I once was too. I'm old enough now to look at those photos almost as if I'm looking at someone else and it's just so awful what people did to her/me. When I let myself grasp that she is me, the heartache is too heavy to bear.

      Most of the clothing and blankets made for the disabled are SO ugly! They might as well say, "You're disabled. Give up. You haven't the right to look good anymore." That's why I've gone with capes. For most of the winter here, they work well. We just had a really strange winter this year. It's already warmer again.

  6. Nice modelling work :) Your glasses fit the 60s/70s look too.

    1. Thanks. The glasses are vintage, from the 60s, I assume. Even though they're clearly men's glasses, I think they worked.

  7. I love that houndstooth coat, it's cut well and grey/black/red is a favorite combo of mine. I also love the yellow flower jumper. It reminds me of your defiance skirt. I could never understand why yellow is associated with caution or cowardice when it's such a joyful, uplifting color.

    I can relate to books being the escape hatch from a shitty situation as a child. I didn't endure 1/10th of what you did but I was glad reading gave me a way out of crap going on in my house. If I'm reading I can tune out anything, gets me in trouble sometimes!

    1. I never thought about the oddness of yellow being associated with caution when it's actually such a joyful colour. You're right. I'm going to keep thinking of it as a happy colour.

      I'm really enjoying hearing people's stories of reading as children. It saddens me when children don't discover that form of joy and escape. I can't seem to instill it in my step children. But, then, maybe that's just a sign that their lives are good and they don't need a form of escape. I'm happy for that.