It's Important to inVest

Editor’s Note: If I were able to exercise any self-discipline/or show any self-restraint, this buckled fiesta of fun would never have entered my life. *tips hat to compulsive shopping problem/general habit of filling holes in life with weird/or whimsical articles of clothing*

One sweet, sunny August afternoon, I was walking down Robertson, silently repeating my perennial mantra, “You’re not allowed to buy anything. Seriously. You’re poor. You have no money. Stop trying to buy things. Seriously, stop that.” - when, lo and behold, an 80% OFF SALE sign appeared through the mist of smog.

Self/Savings-Sabotaging Brain: Well, well, well what do we have here.
Actual Brain: YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO BUY ANYTHING. SERIOUSLY. YOU’RE POOR. YOU HAVE NO MONEY. STOP TRYING TO BUY THINGS. SERIOUSLY, STOP THAT.
S/S-S B: But it’s 80% off! Technically speaking, we’re saving money.
AB: Please see above.
S/S-B: I mean, we probably won’t find anything anyway.
AB: Oh, good point! Totally worth a look since we know we won’t find anything and stuff.

I barely glance over the interior racks before asking the sales clerk where the sale section is. (I’ve long since given up the insecure thing I used to do where I’d mill around the non-sale areas, pretending I could actually afford actual retail prices.) She directed me upstairs.

F*ck. Everything’s adorable. This can’t all be…

Me: Excuse me, which stuff is the sale stuff?
Sales Clerk: Everything on this floor.
Me: So, everything up here?

Yes, Stacie, that’s exactly what ‘everything on this floor means’.

Okay. Deep breath. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it.
Just because it’s on sale and super adorable doesn’t mean you have to buy it. 
Just because it’s on sale and super adorable and fits like a dream doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

I settle on the above NO KA’OI utility vest, a Rag and Bone wool-cashmere trench, and a grey faux fur Shrimpies coat with a pink daisy splashed across the back. You know, staples.

I thought I’d get to wear the utility vest at Burning Man, but I ran out of afternoons…so it made its big debut the following Sunday at Church Key brunch. ($15 bottomless mimosas, heyoooo.)  One of its main utilities is instilling you with lots of confidence. Upon entrance, I did a full circle around our table so my very patient/supportive friends could check out its many, versatile, amply-sized pockets.

This photo is actually from stop #2 of the day - blueberry chicken wing-fest at Hyperion Public. Because this was the Sunday that just kept...on...going.

How amply-sized? Ample enough to comfortably stow this little pig:

For people who like to carry things other than puppies, NO KA’OI says this vest is actually designed to “store all your yoga essentials without sacrificing style”. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHHAHAHA. HAHAHA. HAHAHA. HA. HA. No, but seriously, you can apparently fit your yoga mat in the back pocket and use the front pockets for smaller items, whatever those may be. I, personally, am going to stick to canines. 

Two downsides:
1.  Slight nipple chafing. I’d recommend Band-Aids/or pasties.
2. You may meet too many strangers to keep track of/wake up the next morning with several texts from unrecognizable numbers. Apparently, when you’re that excited about your vest, everyone else gets really excited about you.

All in all, it got about 638 thumbs up – from me and all the lovely digit-possessing souls I crossed paths with on that blissfully never-ending Sunday. 

It's currently on sale at YOOX for $255, but if you don’t feel like dropping a few hundred bucks on a glorified fishing vest, here's a smattering of other more accessible options: 

Safeways LED Running Vest - $22.99 at Kohl's
DSquared2 Vest - $130 at TheRealReal
Utility Surveyor Safety Vest - $20.49 at eSafety Supplies
ML Kishigo Enhanced Visibility Vest - $52 at Full Source

I really wanted to wear mine with a vintage silk half slip, but I couldn't find one to fit the bill, so I went with a full-length wrap skirt from BCBG, my favorite handmade, vintage blue shoes, excessively large hoops, and braids. Do with that what you will.

Parental Ad(visor)y

Girls’ shopping day in Barcelona + Me trying not to buy anything = Accessories and shoes in the bag. Specifically a leather visor and white pointed toe mules from & Other Stories. (To be fair [to myself], the mules were on insane sale and the visor was…insanely amazing/unexpected/I just couldn’t leave it behind.)

I decided to break the duo out for Day 1 of our seaside excursion to Palafrugell. Because we were driving there, I paired them with an extremely comfortable (slash classy) romper from BCBG…and then made eight million Trip Ad(visor) jokes during this here photo shoot:

(I may or may not have done most of the laughing.) 

Cream of the Crop

I knew Spain in July would be warm, but I may have slightly underestimated the humidity factor. I was sweatin’. I was sweatin’ a lot. So when one of our girls lined up a full day of tours/on foot explorations, for us, I parsed my pack for the most skin-baring (slash still daytime appropriate) separates I could find.

The end result? A white zip-front crop top and high-color, high-waisted, flared knit mini - both from BCBG. (And sparkly pink jellies for a pre-teen kick.)

What you can't see in this picture is the black eyeliner that had melted onto the middle of my eyelid. Primer can apparently only do so much in a Barcelona heatwave. 

(I also popped down to the corner hair salon and had the most adorable older woman give me a wash/dry/flat-iron. My high school Spanish was pretty useless in this transaction, but she was all warmth and love. She’s owned the salon for over 40 years, and every customer was an elderly regular. At one point, they were clearly talking about me, and she put a motherly hand on my shoulder as if to say, we’re not laughing at you, we’re just sort of amused by you, but in the kindest way possible. I’ll take it. I’ll also take the 13 euro ring-up.) 

 

Animal Magnetism

“You’re not buying anything today you’re not buying anything today don’t even look in the window you’re not buying anything today.”

I repeat this mantra, half silently, half whisper willing myself to walk right by my favorite vintage store. Its convenient location - directly in between my house and one of my favorite writer cafes - is less convenient for my wallet, and I’ve recently placed myself on a bit of a spending freeze.

“You’re not buying anything today you’re not buying anything today don’t even look -”

F*ck. I don’t (even) look in the window, but waving outside the store, pretty much literally catcalling me, is an enormous lion head, printed on a maxi tank dress.

…I’ll just try it on.

We all know how this goes. I try it on. I fall in love. I talk $20 off the price and hand over my credit card. (Thanks for nothing, will power.)

I MEAN JUST LOOK AT IT.

A touch too roomy in the top, my fierce little feline spent a few days with my tailor down the street, and was released just in time to be thrown in my carry-on for my Spain trip.

Without further adieu...his inaugural debut at Park Guell in Barcelona:

I’d be lion if I said I wasn’t in love. 

There's no feeling like breaking in a new pair of Celine loafers on a hot summer day. Except maybe having Hannibal Lecter attack your feet.

You know your life's in a really excellent spot when your laundry bag consists entirely of black workout wear and a gold lurex jumpsuit.

Org. my closet: 
Him: Your costume box can go up there in the back, right? I mean, you only have to pull it out once a year?
Me: ... ... ...

Mother Nature is a Dirty Old Man

Those who know me decently well know that I’m not a huge fan of jeans/or pants.  

This may or may not be related to an incident in the 7th grade, where I happened to catch a glimpse of my ankles while searching for my sewing machine’s foot pedal during Home Ec.  Ankles that should have been covered by my Chic jeans.  (Chic is not an adjective, it’s a Target brand.  Or at least it was in 1996.) Let’s just say that 8th grade saw a resurgence of the tights and miniskirts of my youth. A resurgence that has yet to wane.

This almost-New Year, I have decided to timidly toestep my way into a pant leg or two.  I have also signed up for 5 straight days of Soul Cycle. (At some point my issues with length may or may not have been replaced by issues with everything else - namely, my thighs.)

After today’s class, I ran home to shower and throw on some comfy clothes before trekking out on a few errands.

Denim. Go for the denim. 

Loud sigh. Fine. I shimmy into a pair of skinny jeans and reach for one of my fav sleep-shirt-ish tanks. Jeans are a little tight and shirt’s a little sheer, but none of that will matter when I shrug on this amazingly thick/warm sweater/robe. 

Great success. I head out into the neighborhood to check some generic boxes off my list.

My last stop is a Trader Joe’s stock-up sesh.  (Thanks for the gift card, Santa!)  I gather my two solidly packed bags of groceries, exit through the automatic door and step out into gale force winds. Weather. Eek. Good thing I live close by. 

Bracing myself against an oversized breeze a few minutes later, I look up to see a middle-aged man getting out of his car, staring me down and smiling. Creepy.

The next gust of wind brings a late-20’s-ish dude looking my way, half-smirking before making eye-contact and shooting over a friendly grin. Um. I-uh. Ok. Must be my new glasses? Moving right along. 

When a third surge of atmosphere settles down to reveal an elderly gentleman penetrating my skin with a lingering slash appreciative gaze, I am officially put off. This seems a tad excessive. 

Then I realize he is not penetrating my skin.  He is penetrating the incredibly thin layer of my tank top that is now completely and totally exposed, thanks to the wind forcefully ripping aside the edges of my sweater/robe.  And yes, it is really cold.

Oh. My. God. 

I struggle to free up one of my grocery-bag-laden hands to clutch my cardigan closed. This only lasts a few minutes. Bags. So heavy. Why did I choose today to go full squirrel mode on my kitchen shopping? Over the course of the next 11 blocks, I make several more attempts at keeping things appropriate, to no avail. Eventually, I decide I really only have one option left: Hold my head high and feign complete ignorance. 

It was awkward. 

This never would have happened in a dress.

Danger: Books & Botany

Back in my USC days, I was christened Lady of the Lake by a few fine Sigma Nu gentlemen and an undoubtedly cheap bottle of champagne. As such, it seems almost blasphemous that I have lived in Los Angeles for this many years without ever visiting my namesake. Ms. Lady of the Lake's statue at Echo Park Lake was restored just last year as part of the area's massive rehabilitation project. You won't find her in any of these pics because...well...there's only room for one LotL in a single frame. 

Originally built as a reservoir for drinking water in the 1860's, the lake found itself neglected over the years to the point of almost no return. It was deemed an impaired body of water in 2006. In 2011, the veritable cesspool was closed for rehabilitation, drained and then refilled with 26 million gallons of water. It felt pretty clean to me? Just kidding. This was totally staged. There was no way I was touching that water in a white dress.

Originally built as a reservoir for drinking water in the 1860's, the lake found itself neglected over the years to the point of almost no return. It was deemed an impaired body of water in 2006. In 2011, the veritable cesspool was closed for rehabilitation, drained and then refilled with 26 million gallons of water. It felt pretty clean to me? Just kidding. This was totally staged. There was no way I was touching that water in a white dress.

Behold: Dystopia!

Behold: Dystopia!

I made friends with this family of geese. LOOK AT THOSE GAWKY LITTLE FLUFFNUGS! I don't think it was so much that they thought I was one of them, as it was that they thought that I thought that I was one of them. And then they felt sorry for me. 

I made friends with this family of geese. LOOK AT THOSE GAWKY LITTLE FLUFFNUGS! I don't think it was so much that they thought I was one of them, as it was that they thought that I thought that I was one of them. And then they felt sorry for me. 

We also did our best to creep out this little guy as he paraded across the lily pads. And watched this duck catch a snail. Lose a snail. Search for a snail. Catch a snail. Lose a snail. And then give up. Which I'm pretty sure serves as proof that persistence doesn't always pay off.

We also did our best to creep out this little guy as he paraded across the lily pads. And watched this duck catch a snail. Lose a snail. Search for a snail. Catch a snail. Lose a snail. And then give up. Which I'm pretty sure serves as proof that persistence doesn't always pay off.

The Outfit: Zara lace dress. Shoemint boots. The jacket is a brand called Charles & Victoria - one of the first test shoots I did in NY was for the designers. They're awesome. So are their designs. 

The Book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Coachella Prep

This year marked my seventh trek to the moisture-sucking/soul-enhancing scene of Coachella – or, as I like to call it, my Oasis of Happiness. As such, my packing slash preparedness has much improved. This time around, I wasn’t cold, my phone didn’t die, my skin stayed pale, each outfit was propitiously photographed by strangers, and I never ran out of vodka. Great success!

Here’s what I delicately folded into my carryon that allowed me to soldier through three days of unabated blasphemy and bliss.  

THE OUTFITS

The day before I was due to leave, my stomach ached. My head was beginning to ping with pain. My serotonin levels were plummeting. Why? I had nothing fun/weird enough to wear this year. Somehow, almost all of my favorite vintage spots had come up short. Luckily, there was one left on my list - I trekked over the hill to Playclothes, and scored three unique little gems:

DAY 1: 

Two-piece vintage playsuit. Yes, one of those pieces is a pair of bloomers. I cinched up my waist with a vintage, rhinestone-buckled belt that I swiped from another dress. In preparation for the post-sun shivers, I shoved this oversized lighthouse jacket in my satchel. 

DAY 2:

Vintage terry-cloth cover-up dress with a bathing suit underneath. Fun fact of the day: This particular get-up earned me the nickname, Teacup. More fun for some than for others. What is fun for everyone is that the flowerpot you see - that’s a pocket. Things got handsy.

Bathing suit top: Norma Kamali/Bottoms: Victoria’s Secret

Post-party, pre-field, pre-Neon Carnival, I popped into a portapottie to don this sheer Kate Young for Target onesie and vintage velvet dress combo. It was a smart move. The dust storm had nothin’ on the fiercely tough fabric. Capped it off Wonder Woman style with remarkably heavy vintage bangles.

DAY 3:

High-waisted vintage mini with a crazy clown print, a metallic/red Planet Lingerie star-printed bra, To Love Kuvaa cropped crochet tank, and chunky-soled Topshop sandals. (I wore blue sparkly socks with those sandals, for blister protection, just in case anyone was curious. Lord knows, I would be.)

I folded my red leather rain jacket into my bag for nighttime adventures. I was happy I did.

THE EXTRAS

Vintage velvet button-downs & L’eggs leggings for late-night lounging and possibly public snooze-fests
Kareena’s Cover-Up
Extra Bathing Suits
Balenciaga Sunglasses
Portable Charger (This was a lifesaver this year. Highly recommended.)
Books, 3 Magazines (3 pages and 4 articles of which were read)
1 Wide-Brimmed Hat, never worn
5 Chapsticks, all of which were lost in the first two days
Hand Sanitizer

…and scene.

Yes, his shorts are adorable. Yes, they are from Zara. My vintage pieces hail from PlayclothesVintage TreasuresBuffalo ExchangeAlpha Thrift, & East Village Thrift.