Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inspiring Interpretations: Reader Submissions

Welcome to Inspiring Interpretations!  Our challenge in this activity is to draw inspiration from a photo by creating an outfit out of our own interpretation of the image.  The only rule?   If we already own the same piece of clothing used in the picture, we cannot use it.   In doing this, we hope to develop our creativity by interpreting the inspiring images we see rather than simply rushing out to buy the exact same pieces depicted.  Read more about the background of this feature here.

This round of Inspiring Interpretations featured an outfit by Dea of The Dea Diaries.

Dea said:

The Crocheted Clouds dress was something that I liked from afar but wasn't wowed by it. I tried it on for the first time and thought it was okay, then asked my readers to weigh in on their opinion of the dress. The outstanding majority declared this was not the dress for me and that if I was on the fence I should keep looking, but something pulled me back and so I tried it on a second time and against all caution and advice, I brought it home and love it. It's a dress like no other and the beige, intricate detail reminds me of the hand-made crochet pieces I have inherited from both of my grandmothers. The tablecloths, the doilies on the furniture, the tiny details on the bed sheets - all hand-made and reminders of my childhood. I chose this cardigan for layering because I really liked how the subdued purple matched the tea bag-stained color, and the lengths were complementary to one another. I paired them both with these Seychelles because they have a high heel and elongated my body so I wouldn't appear shorter due to the skirt's length.

Here's what you all came up with!


When Dea said her dress reminded her of doilies, I immediately thought of my Lacemaker Skirt, which definitely has a similar, old fashioned, doily-ish feel to it. I then added my Volante Tee to stay in the tea-stained color scheme of Dea's dress. I also thought that the feather print on her sweater sort of looked like ruffles, so I added my Boucle de Souffle jacket on top. I wore this outfit with my Dotty Clusters tights and with my Naya Caitlin pumps.


I don't own any of the pieces Dea wore in her photo, so the "no wearing the same items" part of the challenge was easy.  Dea's Crocheted Clouds dress was the inspiration behind my interpretation. The Crocheted Clouds dress resembles the crocheted skirt I purchased from a 'recycled' clothing store and it seemed like the perfect centerpiece for this challenge. Like Dea's dress, my skirt, has this romantic, vintage feel and I paired it with a watercolor-print blouse from Anthropologie and rugged, yet feminine, boots (also from Anthorpologie).

Top: Floreat blouse from Anthro
Skirt: To The Max
Boots: Martingale from Anthro
Belt: Linea Pelle from Anthro

Thrifty Threads

Dea's outfit appealed to me for its expert use of bold jewel tones to accent a lovely, neutral palette. I also found coherence in the outfit's proportions, as Dea layered a long cardigan over an a-line dress that falls below the knee. For my re-creation of this look, I replicated the long length of Dea's dress and cardigan by using the full-skirted "In a Twinkling" dress and a micro-striped cardigan edged with a beige chiffon ruffle. Because the neutral tones in the dress and cardigan provided me with a blank slate, I called upon ruby and amythyst accessories to tie the look together.


I took my inspiration from the lace detail on Dea's dress. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the dress I'm wearing in this picture has a pretty lace motif. I also loved how Dea styled her dress for cooler weather with the cardigan and tights. I've always seen my white dress as very summery (and a little bridal since I purchased it for my wedding rehearsal), so it was a challenge for me to style it for early spring. I think the dark cardigan and gray shoes provide a nice transition between winter and spring, and the bright belt was just fun.

Bobs and Doodads

I loved Dea's colors and outfit, but sadly I don't have anything that seemed similar to her pieces in my closet ... so I had to get creative!! After several different outfits, I settled on this one. The pieces are similar to Dea's in essence - a flowy dress, a long cardigan, chunky heels, simple necklace (I decided to forgo tights because it's 80 degrees here, oh my!) ... but then it's obvious where our pieces differ! My cardigan is a chunky Grandpa cardigan; I choose to play up the fabric in cardigan, not the dress (Dea's dress is delicate whereas mine is plain and stark white). I also used the colors in the cardigan to pick my shoes - they're chunkier shoes, like Dea's, but they fit the colors of the cardigan I'm wearing well (just as Dea's do hers). The same went for my necklace - it's a fossilized ammonite, and I thought "well, I'm wearing a dog cardigan ... why not be the crazy animal lady and add the ammonite to match the nude belt, make this outfit a little 'Mandy'?" The nude belt came from my own personal love of belts and cardigans - I always love throwing a belt over a cute cardigan if I have the chance! All in all, I love what Dea's outfit inspired me to create! I would have never paired this dress with this cardigan otherwise!

Indeed, my outfit isn't similar to Dea's unless you read through my thought process! :) Thank you for giving me the opportunity to dress up, Dea and JG! This has been a most delightful test of fashion! :)


I chose to echo the purple in Dea's Elodie Lily cardigan with my Waffle Weave dress. You'll just have to take my word on the fact that it is purple since the lighting in my bathroom is terrible. I then wanted to play off the delicate nature of the Crocheted Clouds dress. Why not my longer version of Charlotte Tarantola's Field Game cardigan? I finished the outfit off with my Looping Lanes belt, gray tights and grey t-straps.

Steph (Yes, she was inspired twice!)

The wooded landscape where Dea shot her photo was the inspiration for my ensemble. The whimsical print of my skirt features a wooded and mountainous landscape in full bloom. I wore it with a lacy and embroidered blush colored blouse, skinny belt, low pumps, and a simple necklace.
Dea has a feminine and romantic style which I attempted to emulate in my photo. Thanks for letting me participate in this challenge, can't wait for the next inspiring interpretation!

Skirt: Vintage
Top: Anthropologie
Belt: Anthropologie
Necklace: Gift
Shoes: Nordstrom

Anne's Blog Spot

I loved the vintage feel of Dea's crocheted dress and went with that! My mother crochets, knits, embroiders--you name it, she does it! Mom has that same love for the details in the crocheted that Dea spoke of. So that brought me to my lace forever 21 skirt, and my banana republic outlet trapeze tank with crocheted lining and straps. I loved how Dea's cardigan really brought color to her outfit, so I picked my for-now-favorite color cardigan--my JCrew buttercup ruffle. It is not a coincidence that blue and yellow are the same colors in my Mom's favorite flower: Iris! And the jewel toned blue/purple in the iris flower is coincidentally very close the shade of blue eyes my Mom has. :)
J. Crew cardigan
Banana republic outlet tank
forever 21 belt
forever 21 skirt
sofft shoes



I loved Dea's lace dress and that formed the bulk of the inspiration. I also took note of what Dea wrote about how the details of her dress were like reminders of her childhood. I feel the same way about lace dresses - my family home had lace curtains and I remember how I used to wrap the curtains around me, pretending it was a dress!

Jewish Girl

For me, the key aspects I pulled from Dea's outfit were: flowy, purple, lace. Not to be confused with flowy purple lace, which would have been somewhat of a different direction. The top is the flowy, the tights (which complement the top) are the purple, and the booties are the lace. The necklace---a sort of old-fashioned watch, with accompanying metaphors of time elapsing---is my ode to grandparents.

Top: TJ Maxx (I call this my "Fake Bianka" Blouse)
Skirt: Anthro
Tights: Hue
Booties: Anthro Lace Lovers Booties
Necklace: UO
Earrings: via Ideeli
Watch: Fossil

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Middle East Recap: Day 3

(Days 1 and 2 recap here)

March 9, 2011: The Highs and the Lows

Our hotel phone rang at 4:15am today.  Our trip leaders arranged wake-up calls for the group, knowing this morning's early departure time would be rough, but that the costs of being late were high.  On the morning agenda: a hike up Masada to tour the site and watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea.

Yael approaching the trail.

 At the top of the mountain, in the moments before sunrise.

Before sunrise, from L-R: Me, Mike, sister Becky, Patrick (a.k.a. Patrice).

The hike up Masada was not difficult, and the sunrise was beautiful, tinged with the sadness of the place.  Our tour guide, Yael, told us the story of Masada---in which one of the last Jewish strongholds in the land of Israel in AD 73 when it was surrounded by the Romans.

Sunrise.  The body of water in the distance below Masada is the Dead Sea.

On the verge of capture, the nearly 1,000 Jews on top of the mountain killed themselves rather than succumb to slavery.  We walked around the grounds and stood next to the huge catapult stones launched by the Romans while a member of our group read an excerpt of the speech delivered by a Jewish leader on Masada before they all took their lives.

Catapult stones.

The speech focused on freedom, choice, and service to G-d above all.  As a light rain fell---a rare occurrence in the Judaen desert---the speech discussed the honor of dying free and in the company of your friends.  It was eerie to hear the speech and then learn the supposed details of the pact:  the men all entered their names in a lottery to select ten who would do all the killing; among those ten, names were drawn again to determine which one would, once the deed was done, dispatch the other nine before killing himself.  Archaeologists have found slips of paper with names on them, suggesting this method.

It's a horribly morbid and ethically fraught story.  Judaism teaches that we cannot harm ourselves because we are made in the image of G-d, and suicide is considered to be an unforgivable sin.  But what of this situation, where the pact was made in order to honor the Jews' religion?  It still strikes me as wrong by the letter of the law (there's my J.D. coming out), but at the same time I could almost feel the thick cloud of dread as it descended upon the Masada Jews---women knowing they would be raped, their children violated or taken away, men having to watch the destruction, and all to endure a life of slavery.  I don't know.  I suppose this is what it means to fall within a shade of gray.

After hearing the story of Masada, we walked around the site amidst howling wind and gray clouds threatening a storm.  The wind blew us sideways as we trekked to an overlook---a long platform over the side of the mountain with a view of the surrounding steep sandy cliffs.  The wind blew so fiercely that I was almost too afraid to take a picture at the tip of the lookout for fear of being blown over the edge.  But I sucked it up and held onto my hat.  I'm glad I did; once I advanced far enough down the platform, I could hear the eerie, ominous, and vaguely supernatural sound of the mountains themselves.  According to fellow traveller Eli, something about the wind interacted with the resonant frequency of the rocks and they made a loud, high screaming sound in the wake of the looming storm.

Literally holding onto my hat.

Amazingly, the wind and rain dissipated and our long walk down the mountain was less treacherous than we'd expected.

The path down the mountain.

After breakfast at the base of Masada, we proceeded to the Dead Sea.  Within hours, we went from the top of a small mountain to the lowest point on Earth.  Ahh, Israel, with your varying terrains!

The Dead Sea was amazingly bouyant!  It was practically impossible even to submerge your shoulders because of the high salt content of the water.  To give you an idea, the Atlantic Ocean has less than a 4% salt concentration.  The Dead Sea has more than 30%.  As a result, you float nearly to the surface of the water.

Patrick floating.  Image courtesy of Liz.

In addition to its saltiness, the Dead Sea is also known for its high mineral content.  Before going into the water, several of us smeared Dead Sea mud onto our bodies (unfortunately, we had to buy it from the gift shop because our portion of the beach had no area in which to obtain fresh mud).  We let it dry in the sun while taking copious fun pictures and finally went into the sea to wash it off.

My sister and me.

Mud monsters!  L-R:  Scott, Dave H., Beth, Erin, Dave G., me, Alexis, Robbie.  Image courtesy of Beth.

The outrageously salty water left my skin feeling silky smooth.  Unfortunately, it also caused some OUTRAGEOUS stinging when I got some water on my forehead, which had, unbeknownst to me, been rubbed slightly red by my baseball cap brim during the first part of the morning.  Still, it was a very small price to pay for a very cool experience.  Apparently, some female travelers (not on our trip) famously forget not to shave their legs the day they visit the Dead Sea, and they are met with horrible, painful burning.  Even getting a small amount of the water in my mouth was terribly uncomfortable; I felt as though all the moisture that ever existed in there throughout the course of my life was sapped away with one droplet.

Our group in the Dead Sea.  Can you find me?  (Note: if I could do it over again, I wouldn't put mud on my face.  It made me less recognizable to my family in my pictures!)  Image courtesy of Liz.

While in the Dead Sea, I recreated a picture we have of my grandmother.  In the shot, from what I remember, she is wearing a one-piece and floating on her back in the Dead Sea.  I thought I also remembered her reading a newspaper.  One of our trip leaders leant me a newspaper and a fellow participant helped me to take the photo!

Can you tell that it's a Hebrew newspaper?

From the sea, we made our way to a Bedouin village in the Negev desert for a camel ride and a night of camping in a large Bedouin tent.  The camel ride was somewhat anti-climactic---a lot of us had been looking forward to checking this experience off the list, but the "ride through the desert" really consisted of a Bedouin leading a line of roped-together camels in a small loop around a field.

A line of camels (and an incredible endorsement for the Canon PowerShot SD1300IS's anti-shake technology.  Camel rides =/= smooth.  I can't believe this picture (which uses zoom---I think even digital zoom) looks so clear.).

Preparing to board the camel.  I look happy because I don't yet know what A-holes they are.  Image courtesy of Becky.

Me and Danielle on a decidedly displeased camel that could care less if we lived or died.

Regardless, it was still fun to ride a camel; we all squealed a bit when the camels stood up with us on their backs---unevenly, first their back two legs, then their front two.  They were mean, too.  Despite my honorable attempt to pet one behind the ears, it snapped at me sharply in a clear attempt to bite off several of my fingers.  Come on, camel, I was just trying to make you feel good!  (please don't quote me out of context on that one).

Right before this camel tried to bite my camera in half.

We spent the evening in a very dusty but thankfully warm Bedouin tent.  The tent was big enough to hold our entire group of about forty-five people, and consisted of several large rugs laid down over the bare sand.  We slept on thin mattress pads and sleeping bags.  Before dinner, we listened to a heavily scripted and questionably authentic presentation about Bedouin culture (complete with jokes about the speaker's multiple wives) and ate a delicious Bedouin feast (chicken, rice, veggies, hummus, flatbread, various snacks, and a dessert of baklava with sweet chai tea or coffee+cardamom).

Inside the tent.  Had I used flash, the picture would have been clouded by the startling amount of dust particles floating in the room.

Dinner.  The flatbread in the back basket was AMAZING---it was like a thick crepe.  Image courtesy of Liz.

The night ended in a bonfire with lots of mellow conversations by the fire and giggling inside the tent (the giggling paused only briefly for sleep and immediately resumed at 4:30am).

I suppose we can all relate a bit to the Bedouin culture right now---for the next week, at least, we too are nomadic, and we too relish the company of our small community.

Monday, March 28, 2011

OOTD: I fought the law

(Remember---tomorrow is the last day to submit your photo for our next installment of Inspiring Interpretations!)

I have a very cool internship this semester that involves two days of "field work" at the office.  I absolutely love the work, but I deeply struggle with one aspect of it:  the required business attire.  I fight the business suit with every fiber of my being.  I feel quite lucky that the law firm I'm starting at in the fall doesn't require suits every day; almost all of my Anthro purchases will work in that context!

I think I most dislike the lack of creative options afforded by business attire; there somehow seem to be fewer permutations of outfits and fewer ways to be creative.  Perhaps I just don't own nice enough business attire to feel good about my options in that department, but regardless, I avoid wearing suits when I can.  

On internship days when I don't expect to be in court or in a meeting, I dress down a bit and pair a blazer with professional-looking dresses or separates.  I was particularly happy with the colors in this outfit:

I'm not sure if you can really tell in the picture, but the dress has sort of a blueish-violet tint to it.  I tried to bring that out with the sheer purple tights and then added yellow for a pop of contrasting color.  Something about it just worked for me...and I am completely enamored with my new J.Crew "spicy mustard" painted denim belt (purchased before leaving for Israel, here, on sale in stores for $25, $30 online here).  It's not quite the same yellow as appears in either my necklace or my shoes (themselves slightly different shades), but ever since spotting this delicious photo I have been unafraid to combine citrus tones.

In this Outfit:
Dress (Ann Taylor)
Place de la Concorde Tights (Anthro)
Seychelles Password Pumps
Necklace (Thrifted)
Painted Denim Belt (J.Crew)
Frog and Pearl Posts (Anthro)
Fossil Watch
Enamel Legacy Stripe Ring (Coach)

PS: If you live in NYC, there's going to be an interesting installment this afternoon in Washington Square Park.  From 1pm to 4pm, a few artists will be running an interactive display that simulates the experience of living in Sderot, the Israeli town I blogged about here.  You'll experience what it's like to run for a bomb shelter with fifteen seconds warning.  I'm thinking about going, but am frankly a little intimidated by the prospect of actually living something like that, even in a simulation.  Here's the information in case you're free!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Middle East Recap: Days 1 and 2

March 7, 2011
7:45am, EST, 2:45pm Israel time.  Half an hour from touchdown.  It has been an eleven hour flight, but it didn't feel that long at all.  The flight had an amazing in-flight movie-TV selection (I watched The King's Speech, The Town, and the first part of Easy A) and time flew.  (LITERALLY!  Ha.)  I slept for two hours or so; we land at 4pm and immediately get thrown into the agenda for the day, so I'm hoping I can stay awake until bedtime.

The initial nerves I felt---packing, waiting for the airport cab, overcompensating for my pre-flight anxiety with copious junk food purchases---have largely given way to a mix of impending jetlag and excitement.  It still hasn't sunk in that I'm about to go on a two week tour of Israel and Jordan.

My sister Becky in the cab on the way to the airport.

 My bag BARELY made the weight restriction.  It would have been a $150 supplemental charge for overweight bags!

Most of my fellow travelers seem nice.  We've got a good mix of personalities, and right now we're all in that nice place where we're kind of excited and confused and a bit tired, all together.

Our row on the plane: (from L-R: me, my sister Becky, Ashley, Sara).  Photo courtesy of Ashley.

One uncomfortable moment from our airport ice breaker:  one of our trip leaders made us all tack onto our group introductions whether we are a "red light, yellow light, or green light."  Meaning our relationship status.  Meaning "green light = all systems "go" for a hook-up."  Kind of awkward.  Of course, Birthright Israel is sort of colloquially known for its secret mission of getting Jewish young people to hook up--->get married--->have Jewish babies.  It's been called "Birthrate" rather than "Birthright."  Funny, yes?  Except when you're making awkward red/yellow/green light pronouncements.  (My favorite response---by someone else---"I'm a red light. ......Maybe a yellow light.")

It's strange to fly east into the future day.  A lady cracked open her window shade at 1am (NYC time) and bright sunlight streamed through.  The Israeli people on this flight are such an awesome shade of warm gold, baked by that same improbable sun.

March 8, 2011: On the Extremes of Growing Up Israeli
We spent our first night in Israel on a kibbutz just North of the Negev Dessert.  (In the map above, the Negev desert is the orange section).  We enjoyed our first non-microwaved meal in the dining room; it consisted of several Israeli dishes that were still familiar, like goulash and schnitzel and hummus.  Then we did an icebreaker and learned the rules of the program.  (Largely:  no drinking during the program day, no getting stupidly drunk, no wandering solo).  A big group of us went to the kibbutz pub that night and drank Israeli beer (Gold Star for me---very hoppy) and danced enthusiastically to American music.  At one point, the DJ played the signature line from a Green Day song ("Don't want to be an American Idiot!") which prompted a few boos from our group.

This photo courtesy of Ashley.

After breakfast (for me: French toast, hard-boiled egg, some cereal) we took a tour of the kibbutz.  For those who are unfamiliar, a kibbutz is a variety of communal living in which everyone sort of lives and works together.  Private assets can be different depending on the kibbutz's structure.  Our tour guide seemed to be in his mid- to late-twenties, and he grew up on the kibbutz.  As a child, he lived in a special children's home on the compound, supervised by one of the kibbutz women.  He saw his parents for a few hours each day (he said from 4pm--7pm) before he returned to the kids' complex.  At first glance this seemed harsh, but isn't it kind of close to American households with two hard-working parents?  Kids in daycare or after school care, dinner at home, then early bedtime?  I don't know.  It feels quite a bit different to me, and it seems even the kibbutz has struggled with the practice.  They did eliminate that system of child care for a time, but it may be reemerging now.

Our kibbutz guide.  Image courtesy of Eli.

Our guide took us to his house on the kibbutz and showed us an amazing house he is building in his backyard from mud and straw.  The outside looked dirty and lumpy, but inside it was smooth and beautiful; the unassuming beer and wine bottles he shoved into the mortar filtered the light and created a beautiful stained glass effect.  A hut of salvaged materials and mud, complete with a fireplace, TV, and running water.

Making mud with Jess, a fellow participant.

All the modern amenities!

These bottles did not look like much from the outside...

...but they created a beautiful effect inside!

Our guide was married with a new baby.  His wife is from Holland; he met her while traveling (I know because I asked).  I wish I could have asked even more questions about their courtship; I wonder so much about her.  What was her life like at home?  Did it take some convincing for her to move to Israel? To live on a kibbutz?

This particular kibbutz is agricultural (although not all are).  Our guide took us through some of the farmland, which is all the more amazing when you remember that you are looking at crops on desert sand and not soil.  We pulled carrots right out of the sand, dusted them off on our pants and polished them with our hands, and ate them.  They were delicious!


This was *in sand* a second ago.

Only a wee bit sandy.

After the kibbutz tour and a nature walk in a nearby area, we went to eat lunch and tour the town of Sderot.  Sderot is extremely close to the Gaza Strip and is often hit by homemade rockets launched by Palestinian radicals.  The rockets are filled with bullets and other shrapnel.  As our bus approached the town, our tour guide Yael told us that if we heard a siren blare, we should immediately run for the nearest shelter (following the locals would be a good strategy).  We could expect impact as soon as fifteen seconds from the warning blare.

It was so easy to forget this warning while eating lunch---we were ushered into an adorable spot that could fit no more than 20 people (with space for an extra ten or so outside).  The proprieters, who would remind you of your grandparents, brought us plate after plate of delicious food, family-style.  All we could say was "Toda!" (thank you), but I started a round of applause for them at the end of our meal.  Grandma was so proud.

At the diner in Sderot (we were relegated to outside seating).  L-R: Me, Becky, Patrick.  Photo courtesy of Patrick.

Our brief mental respite from the reality of Sderot's proximity to the Gaza Strip was soon shattered by our tour of the town.  Yael took us first to the town's police station.  On a shelving unit in back, the police have stored and inventoried the hundreds of rockets that have hit the town in recent years.

My sister pointed out that, given this context, the design on my T-Shirt may not have been 100% appropriate.  I didn't realize!

We drove by the town's elementary school, with fortified walls and absolutely no windows facing Gaza.  Approaching the school from the Gaza side, it looks like a prison.  (When you turn around to go back, you notice rows of windows on the side not facing Gaza; the rockets can crash through windows, hence the design).  The school's field is spotted with bomb shelters in case a rocket launches during recess.

A different school than the one I just described; you can see the shrapnel damage in the bottom left corner of the front building.  Image courtesy of Ross.

We visited a nearby playground that featured two huge, fanciful dragon/caterpillar figures made out of cement and steel that were hollow in the middle.  Aside from being imaginative objects for play, they doubled as---you guessed it---bomb shelters.

The contrast between a childhood in Sderot and a childhood on the kibbutz was marked.  While the kibbutz was within the range of the more advanced Palestinian missiles, those were usually saved for more populated targets.  The kibbutz seemed more peaceful---or at least there were no "in the event of air siren" warning upon our arrival.  Then again, childhood in neither place really resembles what we would recognize in the US---farming at an early age while removed from our parents or running for shelter from an impending bomb on the playground---it's all different.  I don't know.  I feel grateful to have had a childhood lived in peace.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...