Thursday, August 27, 2009

8.27.2009 Legumes of the Week

I've had a busy week and I'm still catching up on my RSS reader, so this list will be a short one! It's has some cool DIY instructions and recipes, though.

  • The Kodak Aero-Ektar group on Flickr is filled with gorgeous, dreamy photographs.
  • Please read about this very inspiring project by Meggy of Fashion for Writers. She's working on a book on how to live well with bipolar disorder. It sounds like it will be eye opening for anyone who suffers from a mood disorder (or is close to someone who does). I'm very happy to see that it's reached its fundraising goal!
  • Are you a raging Anglophile? Like BBC mini-series? Enjoy Jeeves & Wooster? Then you'll love Polly Farthing Vintage's post on Jeeves & Wooster style!
  • I think Diary of a Vintage Girl's Good Pin-Up Guide is helpful for anyone who wants to look their best on a special day.
  • Fieldguided's very thoughtful post on why she'd rather not shop at Urban Outfitters. I have a few UO pieces in my closet right now that I love, and I think they do a good job of letting young consumers (especially those who are growing up, like I did, in the suburbs) know that there are stylistic and cultural alternatives to stuff like Abercrombie & Fitch. I do agree, however, with Anabela's points. There are also some thoughtful comments posted.
  • Pearls In Your Hair teaches you how to make a yummy, luscious-looking vegetable pie.
I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

8.19.2009 The Grey Lady... times two

Dress: eBay, pumps: Aldo, satchel: The Cambridge Satchel Company, my beloved woodgrain pattern headband: Accessorize

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the trend for grey clothing and how it coincided with my own emerging interest in this particular (non) color. Bill Cunningham hypothesized that all the grey love might be a reflection of the almost universal doldrums over the economic downturn; I wrote that I had latched on to it after discovering that black clothing makes me look like a giant blob with no discernible body shape from certain angles. (I know that in the previous post I spelled it "gray"... I'm trying to conform to the AP stylebook now!).

I bought this grey dress off of eBay just before I left for Taiwan two years ago. At the time, I assumed (correctly) that it would be difficult to buy 1940s to 1960s era vintage clothing in Taipei. I've heard and read that Taiwanese people are less fond of secondhand goods than Americans partly because Taiwan is still in some ways an emerging economy, and used things continue to carry the stigma of poverty (not to mention there are simply less old things floating around, because Taiwan wasn't a consumerist culture, like the US became by the 1950s).

I've also been told that Taiwanese people don't like wearing secondhand clothing because they are superstitious, but I think the real reason is less exciting and much more pragmatic than that -- it's hella hot here! The humidity wrecks vintage cotton, not to mention the constant washing needed to keep clothing clean in this climate. There are a few vintage clothing stores in Taipei (download my article about one store here), but I've noticed that most of them sell sturdier things, like polyester dresses from the 1970s, or newer vintage items, including jeans, leather goods and t-shirts from the 1980s and on. My own collection of vintage dresses, including this one, which I bought with so much enthusiasm (and so little budgeting caution) before I left for Taipei, spend most of their time safely stowed away in the closet.

In the photo above, I accessorized the dress with my double t-strap black Aldo shoes and a sturdy and cheerful red bag from the Cambridge Satchel Company (I also have a brown satchel from the same company). You probably noticed that the detail shots above are different in tone from the outfit picture. That's because they were taken on a separate day and I don't know Photoshop well enough to match the colors (if anyone can help, please leave a comment!). Last weekend, I wore the same dress with ivory peep-toe pumps (also from Aldo... they had a huge sale a while back) and big hair:

Can you find me? I'm pretty well camouflaged.

I think the shoes make the dress seem a little bit less schoolgirl-ish. I managed to achieve my big hair using a tip I read in Allure magazine -- I washed my hair at night, let it air dry a little bit, and then put some gel in it while it was still damp and wound it into a bun at the nape of my neck, which I let dry overnight. In the morning, I undid the bun, finger brushed the waves and set them in place with hairspray. It actually worked pretty well, considering that the bottom layer of my hair is so damaged it doesn't hold any style well (it's been permed, bleached, dyed purple and then dyed black again).

I think the first look is good for casual days and the second is more appropriate for times when I have to look professional. What do you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

8.15.2009 Legumes of the Week

Some cool artists and other discoveries...

  • Mini Modern is one of the most amazing dollhouse/miniatures blogs that I have ever seen.
I bet a lot of you are as excited about the return of "Mad Men" as I am. I watch it here in Taipei by downloading it off of iTunes... I hope they get the season premiere up ASAP!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unlikely Style Muse: Esther from "The Orphan"

I saw a post about Victorian children's fashion on the lovely Frances Baker blog, and it reminded me that I have some stills from "The Orphan" that I want to share. As much as I love films that are known for their fashion eye candy ("The Eyes of Laura Mars," "Marie Antoinette," "Bonnie and Clyde"), I find that I derive a great deal of inspiration from movies that are not known for being particularly stylish. When I first saw the movie trailer for "The Orphan," my first thought was not "oh look, another rip-off of 'The Omen'" but "oh, look at all those cool costumes on that weird little ghost girl!"

Orphan_poster copy

There may be something wrong with Esther, but it ain't her sense of style! Just look at that sweet little checked dress with the Peter Pan collar and the way she offsets it with a burgundy velvet neck ribbon.

You can see she knows all about layering, too. Her shabby chic wooly cardigan add just the right professorial note as she practices her piano -- and her menacing glare of doom:


Esther stands out from the rest of the crowd in her dusky blue military-inspired coat. I love how her cream-colored cuffs peep out and the hair ribbons in her perfectly curled hair:


As the resident creepy girl of this film, Esther might be haunting her adopted sister's dreams... but her gorgeous white nightgown will be haunting mine! I love the delicate lace detailing at the neckline. With a natty belt, this beautiful piece of nightwear can do double duty as a breezy summer dress!

Orphan_nightgown copy

Is this nun stunned by premonitions of her possible imminent doom (I wouldn't know... I haven't seen the movie) or by the sheer awesomeness of her chunky knit scarf? The somber gray color may say "I'm a nun who has to deal with weird ghost orphans all the time," but the fashion-forward texture says "but that doesn't stop me from reading up on all the latest fall collections!" Esther's wool coat, layered over the winter white pinafore, is also a fashion must, even if it takes its styling cues from a hundred years ago!

Orphan_nun copy

Indeed, Esther is the queen of layering, with a collection of sharp pinafores that must be the envy of Catholic schoolgirls, alive or undead, everywhere!

Orphan_plaidjumperflowers copy

Orphan_schooluniform copy

You, too, can achieve the Esther look without having to set your brother's tree house on fire or push your little sister in front of your mommy's station wagon.

Esther loves beautiful collars that highlight her pale skin and the malicious glint behind her big eyes. Check out this gorgeous lace blouse from mysweetiepiepie on Etsy...

... or this dazzling number from kissesfromana.


Longing for Esther's enchanting nightgown? DearGoldenVintage has a grown up version.


Share Esther's penchant for dusky slate blue and checked fabric? You might like this pretty blouse from SmallEarthVintage.


No look based on "The Orphan" is complete without a bit of velvet in your hair. This fascinator by 13bees is a fancier than the little bows Esther wore... but then again, if she had been able to wear such a gorgeous headpiece, maybe she wouldn't have been so intent on killing all her classmates and siblings.


This colorful pinafore from verhext is so lovely that if Esther saw you wearing it, she'd probably attempt to strangle you with her eyes. It may come from the 1980s and not the 1880s, but the simple lines and sweet buttons are right up Esther's alley.


(I know my entry is tongue-in-cheek, but I genuinely love all of the pieces from Etsy that I featured here! And I do think the costumes in "The Orphan" look great.)

Esther 是一個非常可愛的"小鬼!"

8.1.2009 Semi-upscale hippie blouse

Silk blouse: The Limited, skirt: Mervyn's (both purchased all the way back in college), necklaces: Accessorize and Aldo, scarf (worn as belt): Oasis, bag: Queen Bee Creations, shoes: Aldo, sunglasses: random stall

I wore this outfit about a week and half ago, on one of the last sunny days we had in Taipei before the typhoon rolled in. I've had my blouse and skirt for the last eight years. The spate of "shopping in your closet" articles that popped up after the market crashed last year made me laugh, in an ironic kind of way. Seriously, isn't that what most people do? I even own a washing machine, for the express purpose of cleaning the clothes that I shop from my closet!


I like the detailing on this blouse. It kind of reminds me of lacework from the early 20th century, or the floral flourishes in Alphonse Mucha paintings. I wore a couple of my favorite necklaces, a string of wooden beads from Aldo and a tiny bird cage on a brass chain from Accesorize. We went to the Red House Theater market in Ximending. You can see a giant temporary puppet theater erected in the background behind the stalls; I really liked the colors.


And here, finally, is proof that I am actually able to stand without my arms akimbo -- though not very well, apparently. I fall over!


I still have to take my laptop in for repairs. I'm a little peeved because my previous hard drive broke about six months ago, and I would have hoped that the new one would have lasted longer than half a year! It started making clicking noises when I was opening Photoshop yesterday. That, of course, is the death rattle for computers. Needless to say, I freaked out. The Mac affiliate I go to said they would repair the hard drive for free, but at this point I think I might as well buy a new laptop, since I need a faster computer anyway. Fortunately, my company has a computer reimbursement program for employees who work at home, so buying a new laptop won't be a complete financial tragedy, even though it means I'll have to cut back for the next month or so. No more Japanese zakka magazines and wanton purchases of cute pendants from the night market for me!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Drat it!

I try to get an outfit post up at the beginning of each week, but my plans were waylaid by weirdness from my laptop hard drive. My laptop has all of the photos and files that I use on my blogs (I've backed up all of the photos, though unfortunately not the digital collages I've made), so my posting is going to be delayed for a day or two.

I also feel bad about complaining about the typhoon on my birthday, because it's turned out to be quite severe, especially in the south of Taiwan. I know that there are some people with Taiwan connections who read The Renegade Bean, so if you want to help out people affected by the typhoons, here is a handy list (in English) of different organizations that are providing relief efforts.

Thank you to everyone who left a birthday wish! It really means a lot to me!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy birthday to meeeeeeeee!

28 years of playing with fire
"Look everyone! It's a floating number 8 on fire!"

I turn 28 today! 27 was a good year; I hope 28 is just as good or even better.

It's also been an exciting week for style blogger birthdays. Fancy Pants, lost in the forest and Andi B. Goode all celebrated birthdays very recently and I just know that there are people I am forgetting. Argh, I hate it when my brain conks out on me like that. But happy birthday to all of you ladies (and anyone else I am missing). If you are also an August (or late July) baby, please let me know in the comments!

As for what I am doing on my birthday... well, Ron and I were going to get sushi, watch "Bruno," which just opened in Taipei, and then enjoy a chocolate fondue, but unfortunately it's typhoon day here and everything is closed (though fortunately the typhoon does not seem to be too bad). On top of that, Ron has a cold, poor thing, so it's been a slow day to say the least. To pass the time, I've been hemming one of my vintage dresses, which is exciting, because it feels like I have a brand new dress (one that doesn't hang to an unflattering length and make me look like a nincompoop, that is). I HATE hemming with a passion (especially since I insist on hand-hemming all my vintage items), so to motivate myself I've been re-watching "Project Runway." For some reason, hearing that music and watching the designers freak out over their crazy challenges really puts me in a sewing frame of mind.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

8.5.2009 Legumes of the Week

  • Mochi Mag on the gorgeous Korean hanbok (on a totally random note, I sometimes wonder why the qipao and not the hanfu had to become traditional Chinese dress for formal occasions. The qipao I wore at my wedding was beautiful, but so uncomfortable!)
  • Fleur de Guerre's extremely helpful post on achieving lovely results with a vintage-inspired skin routine at Queens of Vintage. I've been using cold cream and witch hazel for a little bit now and really like them (for one thing, I'm sensitive to scents and the smell of cold cream is nowhere near as noxious as the perfumes most skin cleansers have. Ugh! My nostrils scream for mercy.)
Have a great middle of the week everyone!

Monday, August 3, 2009

7.31.2009 Orange Cherrius

Dress: epanouir, shorter necklace (hidden): anirtak, locket: night market stall, shoes: Sogo Zhongxiao, bag: Hayden-Harnett for Target

I don't go shopping for clothes a lot in Taipei because I find a lot of the salespeople here to be extremely overbearing. It's weird -- I went from living in New York City, where I often left stores feeling too poor or too shabby to shop there because of the snotty staff, to Taipei, where the customer service philosophy seems to be "follow them around until they buy something just to escape!" Seriously, I've had salespeople comment loudly on my body shape in front of other customers, tell me that their dresses are so much nicer and flattering than the one I'm wearing, try to convince me that something that is obviously two sizes too small looks awesome on me (yeah, if I were a sausage!) and, in one case, literally grab me by the wrist, pull me forcibly over to a dress (ow!) and rub my hand up and down it so I could feel the "quality" of the fabric. All I felt was polyester.

Of course, I'm making huge generalizations here about the retailing culture in each place. There are, of course, very friendly staff in many NYC clothing stores and by no means are all Taipei salespeople overbearing. But the upshot is that I'm often reluctant about checking out stores here unless I haul Ron along for protection.


I've had good experiences in epanouir, though, which is where I bought this dress from. It's a Taiwanese brand with a design philosophy that can perhaps best be described as France via Japan with a Taiwanese twist. Everything there is well made and most dresses have nice little details like pockets.


I love the cherry print on this dress, which you can see better in this detail photo I took of my Lone Hopper necklace from Anirtak (I first saw the Lone Hopper pendant on Keiko Lynn's blog). I also paired the dress with my Hayden-Harnett for Target shoulder bag. It has two compartments and a 1970s vibe to it.

In other news, I received the Lemonade Stand award from Lulu Letty! Thank you so much, Maria! I need to turn in for the evening now (it's already late here in Taipei), but I'll do a post soon about it and who I'm passing it on to. There are so many great blogs out there, and I'm glad I started working on The Renegade Bean in earnest because it makes me feel like a part of a community that has brought me so much joy and inspiration.

這是我在epanouir買的買的洋裝. 我覺得上面的橘色櫻桃很好玩!