Monday, January 28, 2013

Every Girl’s Gotta Have One: A Gay Best Friend

Homecoming with Danny senior year

New Years Eve with Danny

In 8th grade I was already a savvy shopper. And returner. Every salesgirl at the Limited knew me by name. I was probably stored somewhere deep in their database for all the buying and returning I did. The mall was my favorite extracurricular activity, after synchronized swimming. When other teens were meeting to hang out and smoke, I was actually accomplishing something. I had that place mapped. Little did I know that I was about to meet the person that would change my fashion sense and life forever.

It was my first day of high school and there he was, Daniel Datzer, bounding down the hallway after homeroom in long athletic strides, wearing an Izod shirt, khakis and Tretorn tennis shoes.

I was making my way to my first period, Ms. Niggemeyer's biology class.Thanks to her alphabetical placement of students, Daniel Datzer sat down next to me, Keli Daniels, with his Lands’ End catalog and his worn-out edition of The Preppy Handbook. I knew I'd met my match. We became fast friends. He was my constant companion, confidant, and date to prom and homecoming.

When we should have been memorizing frog and cadaver body parts, we were exchanging notes and elaborate high-fashion illustrations, hidden inside The Preppy Handbook.

 We used that handbook not so much as a bible but as a guide, the rules of which we were just as anxious to follow as we were to break.

We nicknamed ourselves Kiki and Wynn and rode buses downtown and to the east side of Milwaukee to explore old thrift shops and army-navy stores. We bought hats, angora cardigans, coats, ties, brooches and vintage dresses.

I painted barrettes and made grosgrain-ribbon headbands, while Danny cut up oversized T-shirts and converted them into dresses for me. We stole his mother Ethel's pearls, along with her champagne. Then we took our style creations out for a spin at a gay bar or two in downtown Milwaukee. On the occasions when I could actually get past the discriminating bouncer, we drank water and danced all night!

Then there was the time we got pulled over late at night in the rain after switching license plates from my Karmann Ghia to his Dodge Dart Swinger. We had to fill out a card with our name, address, DL# and a description of what we were wearing?! The officer let us go with a warning but we were told that the cards would remain on file. To this day we still don’t know what that was all about.

We didn’t always get it right, but God knows we tried. There were the turquoise blue parachute pants I rocked, the pink and bright green duck shoes we both wore, the asymmetrical bob his boyfriend Dirk gave me, Danny’s Flock of Seagulls red dye job that highlighted his green loafers and black leather pants from Bigsby and Kruthers in Chicago. He also gave me the advice that proportionately my body didn’t work well with a purse. Hmnnnn. Like I said, we strayed from the rule book a bit.

During a time filled with angst and change and sometimes confusion, Danny and I had each other, and fashion was our way of expressing ourselves and communicating to the world who we were and who we hoped to be.

Today my style equation still reflects those times and those basics. And I find myself gravitating toward those great tailored pieces to anchor my wardrobe. Danny and I are lucky enough to be in each other’s lives shopping and sharing our ideas even now.

Recently, while shopping with Danny I discovered a few items worth mentioning: The updated Jackie cardigan at J. Crew teamed here monocromatically with their pencil skirt and the polka-dot sequin top, shown layered with their classic white blouse. Another current favorite find is the updated loafer. This one is the Braxton with grosgrain trim from Banana Republic.

Jackie cardigan and pencil skirt, both at J.Crew stores, sale plus 50% off

Online and in J.Crew stores, on sale plus 40 or 50% off

                                               The Braxton loafer at Banana Republic stores only

So who in your life has been your biggest fashion influence? I’d love to know.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The 7-day Rule

I’m a girl who likes what I like.  And sometimes I can be a bit bossy about it. Or a “Bossy 
Cow” as my husband would say, or gently moo (in passing). It’s okay, I’m from the Dairy State. I’m used to cows mooing when I walk by. 

My tastes are pretty simple—ask my husband—bubble gum, sushi and headshots were simple requests written into our wedding vows. And when I like something, my friends will usually hear about it. Take my favorite iced tea at Starbucks: a Venti iced, half passion, half green tea, shaken unsweetened, no water. I have ordered it in Starbucks and Starbucks drive-thrus across the land for years. So much so that my sister Kim now drinks it in Plymouth, Wisconsin, my Aunt Robbie in Hiawassi, Georgia, and my dear friend Cyd here in Santa Monica.

I have also been known to return said drink if the ingredients are wrong, circling back thru the drive-thru to have it “fixed.” I’m not afraid to return something if it’s wrong, food included. 

The other day I believe I may have taken my return policy too far. (Quite out of habit.) I had ordered a Coke and French fries from the neighborhood Carl’s Jr. drive-thru and promptly drove away. I was running late for an appt and two miles too late I realized that the fries were actually a spicy chicken sandwich. I didn’t have a chance to return or exchange it until the next day. Yes, I actually went back thru the drive-thru to get my fries. I could barely get the order out of my mouth because my friend Lori, who was in the car with me, was laughing so hard. I tried to give back the sandwich, but they weren’t interested in that return. However, they were more than happy to provide me with my fries. Two points for Carl’s Jr. 

I think it’s important to like and be happy with the things we shop for. That might seem like an obvious statement, but sometimes when we get home from a shopping spree, that pair of jeans or blouse or sweater that we were convinced we couldn’t live without seems to have no place in our wardrobe. Many of my friends find the thought of returning something too arduous to be worth it. I couldn’t disagree more. That’s what a return policy is for. And that’s what the 7-day rule is for. 
The 7-day rule: Wear your new purchase within 7 days or it goes back.
If it is an item that is meant to be you will incorporate it into your wardrobe immediately.  If not, it goes back.  A new purchase should have you so excited to wear it that you can't take it off for days.  Exceptions: formal wear or seasonal items.  The rule for these still applies if it's a real find.
Which leads me to my current Or should I say, boots, boots and more boots. I think I’ve gone a little overboard in this department and I’m eliciting your input. True confession time: I have enough boots to sink a ship already, as my Dad would say. (Refer to photo exhibit A, below.) 

But the Steve Madden sale and clearance has gotten the best of me. (See photo exhibit B, below.)

 Now, in the case of Steve Madden and many other retailers I have 30 days to make a return, not 7. But for my own sanity, I need to make a move and apply my own rule to the situation. Steve always gets it right in my opinion but I need to narrow down the “right” to one or two more pairs or I will need to build another closet, and that might defeat the purpose of the sale.

So I’d love you to weigh in on the different pairs of boots, which you can find here, here, here, here and here. Then go to the Steve Madden site to see if your boot itch can be scratched. Remember to use the promo codes for free shipping and 10 to 25 percent off. Sometimes calling 888-SMADDEN will enable you to save more money.

Happy shopping!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ongoing Inspirations: My Mom

I wish I had a picture of my mom on the day I forgot my lunch and she came to my 6th grade class wearing hip huggers, Minnetonka knee-high suede fringe boots and a bandanna made into a halter top. She managed to get the boys’ AND the girls attention as well as my teacher, Mr. Madison’s. But more than that, she managed to do it so effortlessly and with such a sense of freedom and play. She continues to be an inspiration to me to this day.  

My desire is to make this blog an extension of that inspiration. I want to share a bit of myself with you: my finds, my deals, my inspirations and my sometimes-unconventional shopping habits.  

 Today might seem like an unlikely day to launch this blog, since last night I left a wet pair of my favorite boy-short swim bottoms in a Cheesecake Factory takeout bag on the floor of the Arclight Theatre. Hmmnnnn.... Don’t ask. I guess I don’t always get it right. Also, I would have started sooner, but I have been a bit distracted by the fact that I havent been able to put away all of my clothes since I got back from New York last week, as there is no more space in either my closet or dresser drawers. Something tells me a post on closet and drawer organization may be upcoming. 

Im just a girl from Milwaukee figuring it out as I go. I dont seek perfection and tend not to follow the rules and most of all I try not to take it all too seriously. I want to encourage you to mix it up and find the things that inspire you. So go ahead: Break the rules, make the rules or even fake the rules. Fashion can be daunting. Style doesn’t have to be.

                                          My mom in the early 80's enjoying a late summer evening on a boat.   

Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey. I welcome your comments, questions and opinions along the way. Style is a team effort, and we are in this together!