Thursday, February 17, 2011

Apologies are in order. I've been remiss. And while I'm not quite back to posting, I do, on the other hand, have some new eye candy to share.

Not only is my website live and running, but so is my .tumblr diary, where I share what I'm eating, reading, seeing, listening to, and just in general, loving. It's short, it's sweet, it's frequent, and it's pretty.

Why not have a look?

And what is a bluestocking, you ask? A noun: a woman with strong scholarly or literary interests. From the Bluestocking Society, an 18th century London literary society whose members - predominately female - wore blue worsted stockings to their meetings.

And bluestocking creative is all about being as collaborative, integrative, and creative as possible.

PS Confession: N and M and I are officially in love. New post on N's most hilarious comments coming soon, but if you like reading them in real time, make sure to follow me on Twitter! New name: @bluestocking_(same girl).


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Please Excuse

my absenteeism as I take a brief hiatus in order to get my website and other business in order. I will be back shortly (along with the much-requested recipe for my Buche de Noel). In the meantime, you can always follow me on Twitter at @missrachel_lora for article sharing, DIY-ing, style mantra-making, M & N's mischief-making, and more!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Pops

It's a gray, cold day here in Kansas City, despite all the bustle I'm sure abounds out on the streets and in the shops. And, yet, with a few more Christmas parties on my social schedule, I've got my holiday look on my mind.

'Tis certainly the season to sparkle, yes, and neutral minimalism has ruled the runways as well as of late. But for the holidays, I think it's just as appropriate to look forward to spring and celebrate by being, well, both cheery and bright.

Neons and bright solids are a hot trend for spring, both in beauty and apparel and even if you're somewhat color shy, a pop of color can be easily added to your go-to little black dress. Personally, as I'm always erring on the side of preppy, there's nothing I love more than to mix together brights. Here's how:

Coral's one of the hot colors, as seen in the Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2011 show (above). Take a cue from this monochromatic look by adding some coral color to your holiday look with a mix of bangles, and some bright lips. Coral looks brilliant when paired with blue, but would look especially fresh with a winter white. Or try coral on your nails; a good polish to try is Essie's Vermillionaire.

The lips at Diane von Furstenberg's Spring 2011 RTW show were neon pink, as the makeup drew inspiration from Andy Warhol's silkscreens of the designer. Try neon pink with graphic black and/or white, a bare face, and simple hair. This look would especially pop with the bare shoulders of a strapless black dress, and perhaps a simple stud earring (turquoise, diamond, or pearl) and a tiny bangle on the wrist for jewelry.

Feeling braver? Try mixing two or three or four. I myself am quite fond of a watermelon-pink blouse with a skinny neon orange belt, which I balance with a navy mini and navy tights. I've a new pair of turqouise studs that I could add, and still keep things subtle (of sorts).  But if I'm going for a bolder look, I might try for more, as seen on the Gucci Spring 2011 runways, above.

Bonne chance! And may your holidays sparkle and pop!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Picture of Gentleman Gray

If you'll recall, a few weeks ago, I pondered the evolution of the modern gentleman. More specifically, the modern American gentleman.

It's a tricky area of discussion, sartorially speaking. Take the CBS show, How I Met Your Mother and Neil Patrick Harris's bro of a character Barney Stinson, who always, always suits up. There's even an occasional tuxedo night.

This is done in order to set him apart from the rest of the t-shirt wearing generation, but Barney Stinson - though he may enjoy his Scotch and fine haberdashery - is no gentleman. Britney Spears might even name him Womanizer.

The suit, it would seem, does not the gentleman make. Clothes do not make the man, but a man must possess style to make them more than clothes.

No, and though while I would love to return to a day and age in which everyman suited up and never left home without a hat, the truth is, these days, a gentleman of style is more sartorially complicated than coat and tie. It's about as being as effortlessly stylish in a henley and denim, as in fedora and gabardine.

There is a certain level of respect these days for the American-made tradition.

Take Made-In-America brand Rag and Bone. Started by English gentlemen Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, the designing pair began their creation with a trip to the land of high cotton, the Southern United States, to discover for themselves the tradition of of denim making:

Founded in 2002, rag & bone had one very clear vision in mind: to make clothes that they and their friends would love to wear every day. With no formal fashion training, Marcus Wainwright & David Neville set about learning how to make jeans. They believed that denim represented the history, authenticity and fundamentals of classic work wear that they would strive to reflect in their designs.
Beginning in Kentucky, rag & bone surrounded themselves with people who had been making patterns, cutting fabric and sewing their whole lives. Working with these kinds of craftsmen taught them the importance of quality, craftsman-ship and attention to detail early on.
These principles soon became the keystones of the rag & bone philosophy, the definition of what clothing can and should be. With these principles in mind, whenever possible rag & bone produces the majority of their garments in U.S. factories that still sew clothes the same way they did 50 years ago.

Which is why they partner with craftsmen and established businesses such as Martin Greenfield Tailors of Brooklyn, Norton and Sons of Saville Row, and Waterbury Button, "the oldest button manufacturer in US."

Which is why they're something of experts when it comes to a gentleman's aesthetic.

The fashion world is having something more than the normal fall and winter love affair with plaid   moment; it started with a hum as preppy went mainstream, grew with a low boom as hipsters collected the buffalo plaid woodsman look, and has all of a sudden become something you simply cannot miss; whether it's in lowly blogs such as this, in the pages of shelter mags such as Lonny, or in the pages of every fashion glossy from Nylon to Town and Country.

And, as the New York Times noted this week, the preppy plaid spread a widespread panic among moody chromophobes everywhere.

Rag & Bone's David Neville included.
“This is a gentler interpretation of plaid,” said David Neville, one of the partners behind Rag & Bone, who himself confessed to a certain aversion toward color. “Today I am wearing a combination of light gray, dark gray and black, so I guess I fit into that mold. But I can be a bit more adventurous — perhaps around the holidays. I wouldn’t wear a bold, bright plaid, but I would wear a shadow plaid. Subtle is good, you know?”
Shadow plaids. Gentle, subtle, yes, the colors allow a gentleman to remain distinguished, and un-dandified, yet the plaids add a pop, and betray him as a man of style and modernity.
“Shadow plaids are the new solids,” said Eric Jennings, the men’s fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue. “They’re ideal for men’s suiting. From far away they read as a solid color, and up close the texture and fabric come to life. And they’re the perfect background for a pop of color.”
It is worth noting that “shadow plaid,” like many men’s-wear terms, has taken on different meanings. Mr. Jennings uses it to describe understated tone-on-tone plaids, like dark brown on medium brown. Others use it to describe gray-scale plaids. Still others use it to describe the ombré plaids popular in Western shirts in which two colors gradate from one to the other.
But there is no question that plaids in plain gray, black and white combinations are the ones that have come in this season."
Chromophobia, indeed.

If a gentleman is all class and polish, what does it mean for color?

David Neville may have an aversion to color, but as a gentleman of style, he has come to recognize this as his personal style (bravery, be damned) and owns it, and up to it. I've never seen Chuck Bass turn away from a purple, or a double-breasted suit, which is a personal style he holds true to season after season, trend after trend.

As I began work on this article this morning, I had the low hum of the television in the background and as I was re-reading the Times article, what should come on but Dolce & Gabbana's ad for their cologne, "The One," as in, the One True Gentleman.

Italian brand. American spokesman. Black and white. Miles Davis in the forefront. Take a look:

Interesting isn't it, how the mere absence of color renders a concept timeless? Yet, in the end, he is still a man, and the colors of his complexion are reflected in the cognacs and coffees of the cologne.

The classic trappings of gentleman-hood, are, in fact, often without color: Scotch, cigars, leather. Cliche though they may be,are they not what you picture when you call up Humphrey Bogart to memory? Or perhaps you see him in the silver time freeze of Casablanca, as I often do.

For now, though,
“It’s a part of the Americana vibe we’ve seen,” Nick Sullivan, the fashion director of Esquire, explained...This is a little step forward to something more sophisticated, and at the same time a step back to something more normal.”
But don’t go thinking that the emergence of shadow plaid is a sign that men’s wear is headed back to the Italianate ’90s, when Prada and Gucci put entire ZIP codes into sleek gray suiting with all the warmth of a charcoal briquette. As the retro-volutionary style of the gentleman continues to grow, its adherents are ready and willing to ferret out its less obvious manifestations. Kick it up a notch? A gentleman would just as soon kick it down.
It gives me pause: is it the gentleman's distinguished duty to leave the color to the ladies - and the dandies? Is the art of gentlemanly dressing in the power of restraint, in balancing sharp sartorial style while letting the lady grace the chromatic scale? Is it the art of modern gentlemanly dressing to do so?

I wonder.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"I Can't! My Baby Alligator Just Fall Down!" - And Other Such Stories from N

Sometimes, these things just hit you like 25 pounds of funny and you forget what you were reprimanding, asking, thinking about. Often, it's the things that come out of your own mouth, as I experienced when I worked at the preschool. Never thought you'd ask someone to please stop running around with markers in their mouth with no underpants on? Work with kids. And think again.

I still have some of the funniest things from my pre-school kids on file in my memory.

One little girl walked into school one morning and announced to everyone, her mother in tow, that, "My mommy was naked when she woke up this morning." Sorry mommy.

N and I have our fair share of moments around here too, many of them just completely out of the blue, and as its been awhile since I've done a post like this, I thought I'd catch up over here off the Twittersphere.


Me: "Come on, you two!"
N: "I can't! My baby alligator just fell."
Me: "Oh no!"
N: "Yeah. Her name Pinnoch-nio."

N(looking up at the Christmas tree): "I need to grow bigger! (runs over to me) Rachel, I need to get bigger!"
Me: "You might if you sat down and ate your lunch!"
N: "I am eating!" Shows a mouthful of food.

N's mom: "Tell Rachel you'll see her later.
N: "Yeah."

N: "This is how you jump over Tipper (dog). We don't step on her. That make her mean."
Me: "Well, it probably hurts her too!"
N: "Yep. That make sense and stuff."

Me (as N and I are snugglin', and she's burying her face in my curls. She does this a lot as she likes to twirl them): "Does my hair smell good or something?"
N: "Your hair smokin'!"

N: "I princess just like you!"
I swear I don't bribe her to tell me that. Bless her heart, she came up with it all her own.

Me: "Morning, N!"
N: "Excuse me, Rachel!"
Me: "Excuse you?"
N: "Excuse me, I just poop again!"

N: "What's this?"
Me: "My zipper."
N: "Let's un-zip."
Me: "No, no, let's not."
N (pulls my dress up): "That your booty!"
Me: "Yep, that's my booty."

N: "I want this sticker for you." Sticks it on my forehead. Hello, Kitty.

Me: "What'd you do at school today?"
N: "Play."
Me: "What kind of things did you play."
N: "I not roll up my bottle."
Me: "Ah. Okay."

N: "Look, look!"
Me: "Oh you're in my boots! Quick let's take a pic to send mommy!"
N: "No. I too falling down."

N: "I not tall just like you, Rachel!"
Not nearly as complimentary as the princess comment.

N: "I not feeling well. You not feeling well?"
Me: "Yeah. Can we watch Cinderella pretty please?"
N: "Okay, nanny. We not feel well."

N: "I don't want to hit M on the head anymore."
Note: she hadn't been hitting him at all at the time, actually, was sitting and coloring quietly. Then volunteered this.

N: "Look at my Christmas!"
Talking about her family's Christmas tree(s).

N: "Why you have messy hair?"
Me: "It's curly. I have curly hair."
N: Why you have curly hair?"
Me: "I don't know, sweetie, I guess I just do!"
N: "No. You have messy hair."

Still yearning for more? Don't worry, N will keep saying things, and I will keep doing my best to record them, but to tide you over, see also my older posts, N Says and Grammar Lessons with N.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No post today, but still looking for some reading? I've published a new piece of short fiction over at Fictionaut:

Happy Thursday!