Dancer Diaries: Things I Learned from the Stage (part one)

dancer diaries

After my Valentine rush, brainstorming for a new post-series seemed a little lackluster without all of my hearts. Without being quite so literal though, I decided February 15th didn’t have to spell the end of all things hearts, so my new series is all about some of the things I “heart” and one big one is dance. After seventeen years of being a dancer, there’s quite a few life lessons you can take from the stage that surprisingly translate quite well into the everyday. I’m planning on sharing a few of mine and hopefully you’ll be seeing some fellow dancers guest-posting as well in the coming weeks.

dancer diaries one

Once your hair is tucked safely in a bun, suddenly the world seems so much more manageable. Perhaps it’s from years of being under the sharp eye of my childhood ballet director, where allowing a loose hair-wisp to fall from your bun was equivalent to plotting first-degree murder, but, she was right: with your hair out of the way, suddenly you can concentrate, see more clearly, and know you can take on the choreography of your looming dance day.

updos

updos

Images via

Messy or smooth, an up-do can instantly get me into the “watch out, my hair is up and I can do anything” mood. Its like switching from sneakers to heels, changing from yoga pants to a pencil skirt. An up-do means I mean business, I know what I’m doing, I am doing this, and things are under control. An up-do is instant head-organization. Once your hair-chaos is in order, suddenly your brain is too and it feels oh-so-good. When I was casted for a character that had to be danced with my hair down, I inwardly groaned because I knew it was yet another thing to stress about once I took my cue and took the stage. Waking up in the morning to start your day, don’t let your hair interfere: stick a pin in that monster, tame your tresses, and conquer your world.

(Don’t know how to use a bobby pin the “right” way? Check out this post for some tips)

– <3 A. 

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Picture Perfect Poses

vintage christmas

Happy Friday everyone! I can’t believe it’s the last weekend before Christmas. If you’re in denial, sorry for breaking your bubble, but if you’re still stressing about creating the perfect, Norman Rockwell Christmas, read this to calm yourself a bit.

I’m sort of blogging on the go today, I have a train to catch so I’m keeping it simple. I found this lovely link on Olivia Palermo’s blog. I’m not the biggest Olivia Palermo fan, usually because she lives a life sooooo unrelatable to my own that the tips and things on her blog are a little bit out of reach. But her “Glam Tip, Perfect Your Picture Pose” I thought was a pretty appropriate one for just before the holidays. It’s a little vain, I know, but no one wants a perfect family picture EXCEPT for the one person who looks half asleep, askew, or pretty much just all bad. And you most certainly don’t want that person to be you. Check it out! It’s a short list of a few simple things that might just make every photo this year, card-worthy. Happy Weekend!

– <3 A. 

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Loft Love

Happy Friday! This week has been a whirlwind with Halloween and birthday festivities. Baking, present wrapping, carving, and decorating has occupied the majority of my free hours so this weekend I am definitely looking forward to relaxing and watching my go-to-movie for this month: “Sweet November.”

If you had the unfortunate experience of watching the 2001 remake with Keanu Reeves, please don’t give up yet because the original 1968 film is so, so, so much better.

It’s a pretty obscure film and combines romance, drama, comedy, and a little bit of nonsense with the perfect proportions. Sara, (Sandy Dennis) is a single woman who owns and maintains rental properties. In her free time though, she assists bachelors in overcoming some sort of emotional flaw. Each month, Sara takes a different man under her wing—each man, with a different problem. In November, she meets Charlie (Anthony Newley). Charlie, who once had poetic aspirations, has lost his ability to see beauty and enjoy life because of his busy-ness and constant worry about being on time. His life, as Sara describes it, has become all “hurry, hurry, ding, ding.”

I think Charlie’s issue is one that modern audiences can identify with most. Caught up with his career, obsessed with getting ahead, or, at least keeping up, he forgets to look up from his watch and everyday tasks to see the little things that Sara finds such joy in. What I so adore about Sara and this film is that the way she makes Charlie fall back into love with life is merely doing the simplest things: They sit outside and paint and write, feed pigeons in the park, and drink tea by Sara’s fireplace; in small, thoughtful ways, Sara shows Charlie how to care for other people and not always himself and his wristwatch.

Like I said, the movie has a little dose of absurdity that makes it so endearing. Sara’s loft is a prime example of this, mixing together the most nonsensical of items to create the most charming space. I don’t normally like lofts. I don’t really care to see all the exposed framework and things of houses, but Sara’s looks so warm and lived-in.

An open fireplace, an Edwardian-looking chair, twinkle-lights on a tree and exposed, industrial-looking shelves next to an ornate cabinet. Its so ridiculous but makes me want to spend an evening with her. 

Her bedroom, I think, is my favorite. tucked under an entire wall and half-ceiling of window-panes, the cozy upstairs room looks like it would be divine to sleep-in on a rainy morning. It does actually rain during the film as Sara lies in bed and I’m always so very jealous.

The space is so unique and personal. From her loft, it’s obvious that Sara cares nothing for normal “styling.” Instead, as in her life, Sara only surrounds herself with the things she loves most. Her love for life is almost childish. She is often silly, irrational, and has the strangest notions and obsessions. Despite all of this though, she is also completely independent, able to nurture her excitement for living into everyone she meets, and finds humor in the everyday. For Charlie, just spending a month with Sara gave him a very sweet November.

Hopefully this weekend you can do a few silly things. Maybe add a vintage lamp in with your modern drapes, jump off a park bench, or compose poems on your porch….Sara did, and she had so much fun.

– <3 A. 

Dee-lightfully Sandra

Last night I was trying to dress for a date with a very special man. It wasn’t going so well. Still too warm for sweaters, but too chilly for a dress. Tights and boots entered my head but quickly fled again–too winter just yet I decided. Scarves are hard to eat dinner in, have you noticed? So those were out. Then there was the whole different issue of my hair (or, my arch-nemesis). The front right side of my hair delights in making me exasperated, grumpy, and thoroughly frustrated almost daily. Last night was no exception. Pin it back? I look twelve. Curl it? That looks overdone. Straighten it? That looks even worse. Cut it off? Hmmmm…..

In the midst of my closet chaos and hair meltdown, I thought of a woman who seemed to never have these disasters: the always charming, Sandra Dee.

The Muse: 

You may only know her as the innocent, girlish star of the 1959 movie version of Gidget, or as the inspiration for the mocking songLook at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in the movie Grease, but beginning in the 1940s she made quite the name for herself first as a model and later as an actress and singer. Whatever your opinion of her, sickeningly sweet or classicly beautiful, you have to admit, the girl’s got style.

 

Sandra Dee

What I love most is that she dressed so simply: usually a plain sweater, often in a bright color, paired with some outrageous patterned pant. Or, a simple dress with a beautifully tailored coat. Her look is timeless and so easy.

A Modern View: 

These pants from J. Crew are oh-so-Sandra. They weren’t, of course, helping me last night while I tried on combination after failing combination of outfit, but in the future they might come in handy if I am lucky enough to add them to my closet.

Or this jacket from Modcloth could have solved my outfit-issue easily. What else does a coat like this need?

Another find from Modcloth, this little black dress with a twist. Classy and a little retro–but definitively modern:

While watching one of Sandra’s movies a couple of weeks ago, I was entranced by a hat she was wearing while sunbathing at the beach–the hat had built-in sunglasses and I wanted one so very badly:

Such a brilliant idea, and, apparently, Kate Spade thought so too. In her Spring 2012 collection, she offered this little nod to some retro chic:

For all our attempts to be fashion-forward with each passing year, it seems you never can beat a little vintage musing. For your next closet catastrophe, hopefully thinking of Sandra will give you an inspiration.

– <3 A. 

A 1930s Casual

PBS Masterpiece Theater: I’m obsessed, and my current obsession is their new season of the decades old series “Upstairs Downstairs.”

The series is a tale of how the downstairs servant-class and the upstairs privileged-class each try to cope in their own way to the tumultuous political and social climate of 1930s Britain, hovering at the brink of World War II. What struck me the most in last night’s new episode though, was that the women, regardless of being upstairs or downstairs, always looked so nice. If you’re thinking…”of course they all looked lovely, all the time- its for television…and, they had servants…and, people to do their hair (that would be nice)…and, even the servants were paid to dress well in order to keep up appearances for the politically important man of the house, ‘Sir Hallam Holland,'” these are all excellent points, sure. But, my point is that, at that time, “looking nice” was just a matter of fact. 1930s casual was a whole different world from ours. Find a picture from this era, and most likely you’ll find everyday people, doing everyday things, yet still looking lovely.

Do the same for today, and you’ll probably discover a much different result.

In “Upstairs Downstairs,” the newest servant Beryl Ballard is horrified when Lady Agnes requests that the servants attend exercise classes for the “Women’s League of Health and Beauty,” because they must wear a pair of silk shorts in public.  Beryl, though a servant, is not used to such casual-wear outside of the confines of perhaps her own bedroom, and is loathe to put them on.

Not very shocking, right? Not to us. Not to a modern audience whose seen it all, willingly or not, in every public place. Somehow, “dressing up” has gone from being a privilege, to being a problem.

In “Upstairs Downstairs,” Beryl sought to save money working as a servant so that she could attend beauty school and begin to gain her independence from the servant class. Dressing the part of a lady was essential in order to gain the status she desired.

Today? I guess “lady” is a status nobody desires.

Sweats are sure comfy. No, I’m not going to put my cigarette, Glen plaid pants on to dash off for a quick run to Target. I’m a hypocrite to be sure. Sometimes combing my hair sounds more difficult than calculus. And there has to be a pretty great reason for me to put makeup on on a Saturday. All I’m saying is, for your everyday, try a little 1930s casual. Sometimes all it takes is one piece: put a blazer on with your jeans; a pointy-toe flat instead of your rubber flip-flops, or a scarf with your plain button-down. In “Upstairs Downstairs,” the privileged and servant class was clearly defined by the position they held in the house. In public however, anyone could look like a lady, so why not do it?

 

– <3 A.

Cluelessly Outfitting Urbanites

Fridays are so full of promise. The weekend may not end up being what you imagined it to be, and, invariably, it ends too quickly, but right now, its all stretching before me and its wonderful.

Something that is not so wonderful: Urban Outfitters Fall 2012 Magazine. I received it in the mail yesterday. I don’t ever remembering wanting this to come to me in the mail, and, after looking through it, definitely didn’t want it coming to me ever, ever again. Have you seen it? I admit, I’ve never been a huge Urban fan. I own a few of their grandpa sweaters and I always try to buy their shoes because some of them are rather cute. But, after popping them on, I can’t get them off fast enough. Perhaps I’m not fashion forward enough? But please, someone tell me, how is this fashion forward?

Why?

I don’t get it, I’m sorry, I don’t.

This might be the worst

Weren’t these the kids in “Clueless” that Cher asks if they “prefer ‘fashion victim’ or ‘ensembly challenged'”? 

And since I’m on the subject of “Clueless,” I found Cher was a pretty good example of my expression while perusing Urban’s Magazine:

“As If!” 

If you don’t share my opinion, I’m sorry….I guess. I would really like to know who they’re appealing too though. Urban has always sought to offer funky items to their otherwise perhaps mainstream consumer, but come on! This goes way past funky, we’re teetering on trashy, flirting with homeless, and coming up looking awfully crazy. In case you do share my opinion, I don’t want to see you off into the weekend with bad memories, so here’s a few “do’s” to Urban’s “don’ts.” Refinery29.com and streetpeeper.com are fun new sites I stumbled across. They have actual pictures of real urbanites roaming the streets and sporting their fashion decisions. I don’t like all of them, maybe not even many of them, but here are some special ones to soothe your eyes after all that Urban Ugh.

Still funky, but oh so much more chic. Yes please. 

A retro print done modern with some super sleek hair. 

The shoes are a bit over the top but this pink, matching pencil skirt and sweater is a perfect combo of femininity and power..I think Cher Horowitz would even approve…

…success!

Here’s true urban beauty…get it right Urban Outfitters.

Hope that Urban-bash wasn’t too much for you if you’re a fan, but I think the fact that they sent me an unsolicited magazine with such horrifying style made me feel the need to defend myself!

My best friend and current grad-school-student-slave sent me this quote from Marcel Proust (1871-1922), french novelist, critic, and essayist. When replying to his own query of who his favorite heroines of fiction were, he stated, “those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure, and in everyway beautiful.” Here’s to your weekend, hope this has inspired you to never stop ceasing to be tender, poetic, pure, and in everyway beautiful in all that you do-and wear!

-<3 A.

A Project

As promised, today I wanted to give everyone a hint of what’s to come on “The Linen Closet” page. However, things didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped today. Its deliciously cloudy outside though, which means, that I have an excuse for why things didn’t go as planned. I’ve always been of the opinion that sunny days mean things must be done right, but cloudy days give everyone an excuse:

Just think….Slept through your alarm? “I’m so sorry, it was so dark you know, this weather….” Running late? “This rain! I had to drive so slow just to be safe…” Bad hair? “Goodness! this weather…I can’t do a thing with my hair!” And, everyone must agree that as soon as the sun goes away, suddenly there is a general, unspoken desire to nest, the to-do list becomes a little less important, and hot beverages and afghans sure look extra-irresistible.

Despite the clouds though, I would like to press on….so, here is a look at my project:

First, The Muse:

My Great-Grandmother.

I have no idea how these women were so naturally beautiful. It makes me ashamed to see my drawers packed with products I use daily with this lovely lady staring smugly right back at me with nary a blot of makeup on her face nor a hair-straightener in sight and yet still looking so vogue. She’s 26 in this picture and completely stunning. *sigh* moving on. Besides how elegant she was though, she was also wonderfully creative and accomplished. She made her own clothes, painted, beaded, and “I know not what!” (Mr. Bingley, Pride and Prejudice). My mother before me, and then I still use her hand-painted mirror and lipstick-covers she created, now some 40 or more odd years old. They’re fading a bit but so unique I absolutely adore them- especially the mirror, if I didn’t care for my face that day, it could just be flipped over and ta-da! An always smiling face to greet you:

hand painted mirror

hand-painted lipstick

My favorite piece out of all of her creations that has been gracing my room for as long as I can remember though is Alice:

 The Model:

paper-mache Made of paper-mache and standing about 4 feet tall, Alice has been quietly (and I like to think, fondly) observing me dash about my room since I was a little girl and I felt it was high-time I included her. She really is quite exquisite.

paper-mache-bust

paper-mache-bust

I chose her to model what I create because, for example, on a cloudy day like today when yes, I slept through my alarm, yes, I was late, YES, nothing could be done to my hair, I don’t really jump at the chance to be photographed.

At Last, The Project:

vintage handmade apron

A few years ago, one New Years Eve, the four ladies in my life who make me laugh harder than anyone should be allowed to laugh, decided we had better things to do than kiss a boy and drink champagne to ring in the New Year, we could make aprons and drink champagne to ring in the New Year! After years of giving these creations away as gifts, I’ve always met with the same reaction…”you could sell these!” So, here I am, doing just that.

Like I said, I had planned to unveil some aprons to you today, with Alice donning her new role as active participant instead of casual observer to my life. But, the aprons I was working on came up against a very, VERY angry bobbin that stopped me in my tracks:

-Don’t let it fool you, I thought it was humming along nicely too. Then, things really began to get out of hand:

 And so, friends, I admit-I gave  up:

Not for good though, please please stay tuned, “The Linen Closet” will soon be up and going despite any, and all, bobbins that try to thwart me.

Hope the clouds gave you a good excuse today -<3 A.