Celebrating my 30th birthday.

This year, one of my resolutions was to celebrate my 30th birthday in style, and I feel as though I can tick that off my list.  I had agonized for ages over how to ring in the beginning of my 30th year, and in the end I decided that the best way would be with some awesome food, my favourite people and plenty of down time.

 

I ended up taking the week of my birthday off work.  I wanted to have a chance to relax and recharge as well as loads of time to plan fun celebrations with my family and friends.  Having a whole week where I didn’t have to get up and go to the office has been amazing.

 

My 30th birthday fell on the 9th of June, 2016.  I started the day by cuddling in bed with the cats before getting up and slipping into a vintage Pendleton wool skirt and this adorable cat jumper that I bought from Nerd Burger’s  closet clear-out sale.  I accessorised with my favourite black cat earrings, my grandmother’s eternity ring and this rad Deadpool necklace that my boyfriend David gave me.

 

My parents had very kindly purchased tickets for the three of us to see the Marilyn Monroe exhibit at Bendigo Art Gallery.  So we all traveled to Bendigo by car to check it out.

 

I’ve admired Marilyn Monroe for as long as I can remember.  My first memory of her is a black-and-white portrait that hung in our local pizza cafe.  The portrait is the ever-famous shot of Marilyn standing over the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch, with her skirts billowing in the updraft.  So it seemed fitting that we were greeted by this seven-metre sculpture of that exact moment as we pulled into the Bendigo CBD.

 

The exhibit itself was incredible.  It featured a wealth of personal items of Marilyn’s, including the beauty products from her dresser, her personal camera, her collection of gossip magazines and some jewellery.  There was also a huge collection of costumes and items from her personal wardrobe.  For me, these items were the highlight of the exhibit.  I am so inspired by Marilyn’s personal style, and to see her clothing in person was just amazing.  I was quite shocked by how small her clothes were.  She always appears so voluptuous, and yet some of these items were absolutely teensy.  The beading and detail on the costume pieces was breathtaking.  I was also struck by how ordinary many of her day-to-day outfits were.  Although there were many furs and gowns, the display cases featured twice as many plain day dresses, knit sweaters and simple shirts.  It really brought home the fact that although she is known as one of the most glamorous women in the world, Marilyn was also just a woman, who wore regular clothes in her downtime.  I spent a great deal of time looking at those simple day-to-day items, trying to imagine how she might have worn them.

 

I was utterly spoiled with presents.  I got a stack of new books, including a colouring-in storybook version of The Wizard of Oz. I’ve gotten really into colouring lately and I’m so enjoying working my way through this book.


My parents also got me a gorgeous set of Derwent pencils, something that I’ve wanted since I was a child.  These are just wonderful for colouring, and I expect I’ll get a lot of use out of them

 

My brother showered me with awesome gifts, but my favourite was this tee shirt, which I expect I will wear often.

The day after my birthday I travelled down to Melbourne to catch up with my friends.  I had booked myself a room at The Hotel Windsor as a very special treat.  This was my first time staying in a five-star hotel, and it was an incredible experience.  Upon arrival, my bags were whisked away and taken to my room.  The room itself was utterly luxurious, with a king-sized bed, a stunning bathroom and a kitchenette.

 

I was also delighted to discover that the staff had placed a birthday cake in my room as a special surprise.

 

I had organized a dinner at one of my favourite Japanese restaurants.  It was a great night, eating delicious food with my friends and my brother. By the time David and I got back to the hotel, I was ready for a bath and bed.

I think I definitely celebrated in style, and I’m extremely excited to see what my 30’s will bring.  My 20’s was a massive decade, and I know that I’m much happier with myself and my life than I was on my 20th birthday.  Fingers crossed that my 30’s will be filled with awesome opportunities and fantastic adventures.

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Personal heroes: Bill Cunningham

I finally got around to checking out Bill Cunningham: New York.  Boy oh boy, was that movie a revelation for me.  As soon as it began to roll, I felt an instant tug of recognition and respect for Bill and his philosophy towards fashion.

Bill is, first and foremost, a street fashion photographer.  Although he does work taking pictures of runway shows and high life parties, his real love is bare-bones street photography.  His belief is  that “The best fashion show is on the street”, and he spends most of his time documenting the stylistic adventures of everyday New Yorkers.

Bill’s outlook is a breath of fresh air to me.  Although I adore fashion, there is a cloak of cattiness that tends to surround the fashion world.  When you talk about fashion, inevitably the conversation turns to what you should or shouldn’t be wearing, who wore an outfit better and the “rules” of fashion.  And that has always grated on me, because I feel that fashion shouldn’t be about The Rules and Should and Should Not.  To me, fashion is a beautiful form of self expression.  And it was wonderful to see that one of the most respected fashion photographers felt the same way.

Bill Cunningham’s work is a joyous celebration of fashion.  It’s about weeding out a gloriously stylish individual from a crowd and capturing them on film.  It was such a pleasure to watch this strange little man cavorting about the streets of New York, snapping people of all ages, all sizes, all colours and with a rainbow of styles.  For him, fashion isn’t limited to the young and rich, fashion is a living, breathing entity that lives in the people on the street.  Like me, Bill Cunningham believes that fashion is for everyone.

Another things I thought was brilliant about Bill is his approach to trends.  Ordinarily, trends in fashion are used to dictate what we “should” be wearing.  A fashion magazine or designer chooses an item, a colour, a fabric and decrees that this is The Thing To Wear.  Bill’s approach is the exact opposite.  Rather than telling people what they should wear, Bill looks at what people actually are wearing.  He spends countless hours on the streets, looking for patterns in what the passers-by are wearing and reporting on them.  In this way, he keeps fashion on the ground, giving the everyman the power to dictate the trends simply by wearing what appeals to them.

Bill’s fascination with the style of real people spoke to me on a deep level.  It tickled my own adoration of fashion and caused a spark of realisation.  Like Bill, I’m not terribly interested in celebrity fashion, in people who follow the fashion rules wearing what they’ve been told to wear.  What I want to see is what real people with similar paycheques to mine who have access to similar stores put on their bodies.  I want to see what real people are wearing, and marvel in the creativity and beauty of actual men and women.  And that’s why I love fashion blogging.  Because it gives you a peek into the wardrobes of genuine people and allows you to peek at what they live their lives in.  Part of the reason that I began taking outfit pictures and sharing them via this blog is that I wanted to showcase my own style, and show people that you don’t have to be rich or particularly clever to express yourself through fashion.  And I wanted to encourage others to take that leap and find their own sartorial path.

Something that has always stung me about the fashion industry is the pressure it places on women to look a certain way, and the scathingness towards those who do not fit the mould.  In this film, a friend mentions that Bill’s work isn’t about comparing people.  It isn’t about talking about “who wore it better”, it’s about celebrating people and style.  I was heartened to hear one of Bill’s colleagues tell of how he left a magazine that used a series of his photographs of everyday women in designer clothing to poke fun at how the women didn’t measure up to the runway models in those same styles.  I couldn’t help but smile as Bill swatted away a young man who tried to edit the ageing decolletage of one of his subjects, saying that she was beautiful and it would be a shame to cover her up.  This is a man who sees beauty in all sizes, ages and colours.  And that is such a far throw from what’s usually presented in a documentary about fashion.  It gave me cause to cheer.

Bill Cunningham is a hero of mine because he has paved the way for fashion bloggers like myself.  He is a positive force who promotes what I believe to be the true essence of style.  And he’s just so darn cheeky.  It’s hard not to like him, really.

What I wore 4/8/2015: Happy Birthday Ms Rowling.

Last week I celebrated J.K Rowling’s birthday by dressing in a Harry Potter themed outfit.  I bought this rad Quidditch shirt from Jay Jays a couple of months back and I haven’t featured it on the blog before.

I am wearing:

– Quidditch captain tee shirt from Jay Jays

– Red satin jacket (thrifted)

– Black velvet skirt (thrifted)

– Black studded boots from Big W.

– Silver necklace (birthday gift from my sweethearts)

– Silver key earrings from Etsy

– Owl ring from Equip.

This jacket has become a wardrobe staple for me.  It’s the most gorgeous satin brocade and it’s incredibly silky against my skin.  One of the reasons I wear it so often is that it’s reversible.  It’s a rich red on one side and black on the other, which makes it extremely versatile.  It’s just a tiny bit fancier than most of my other jackets and it’s perfect for dressing up a simple outfit.

I had a lot of fun playing with textures when I put this outfit together.  When I think about the clothes worn by the witches and wizards of Hogwarts, I always imagine luxe fabrics and jewel tones.  That’s why it made perfect sense to me to include a heavy velvet skirt and a silky jacket.

I chose these ornate key earrings because they reminded me of the flying keys in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

And this owl ring was a tribute to Hedwig, one of my favourite Potter characters.

A Hogwarts-inspired outfit seemed like a great way to celebrate the birthday of the woman who created one of my favourite fictional worlds.  J. K. Rowling is something of a role model of mine because she is a great example of someone who has lived a very authentic life and follows her own heart and mind.  I was astonished to learn that she was repeatedly turned away by publishers when she was pitching the Harry Potter series.  12 times, to be precise.  But she kept on plugging away, and thank goodness she did!  Whenever I’m feeling upset or dejected or frustrated that things just don’t seem to be working out for me, I remember the tenacity and creativity of Ms Rowling and try to push forward.

P.S: This isn’t the first time I’ve done a Hogwarts-themed outfit.  I wore this one to see The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and this one for Part 2. Oh, and of course, I cosplay as Luna Lovegood on occasion.

Farewell, Sir Terry Pratchett.

On Friday morning I awoke to the sad news that Sir Terry Pratchett had passed away.  I was heartbroken to hear of the death of one of my all-time favourite authors.  The world seems a little bit duller without the cheeky glint in Sir Terry’s eye.

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Sir Terry’s work has been a part of my life for fifteen years.  I was introduced to his books by a friend at the age of thirteen.  My high school bestie loaned me a well-loved copy of Soul Music to take on holidays.  I quickly fell in love with The Discworld and it’s inhabitants and was eager for more.  I read every Discworld book in the library catalog.  When the film adaptations of several Discworld books were made, I pounced on those and immediately adored seeing my favourite characters come to life on the screen.  In college I discovered two cartoon series based on Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters.  And then sometime later I found the fantastic board games based on the book series.

As someone who has always loved the offbeat and slightly cheeky, Sir Pratchett’s books were instantly appealing to me.  I have often had to stifle a giggle while reading one of his books on the train and many sleepless nights have been had when I couldn’t put down his latest masterpiece.  It makes me so sad to think that there will never be another new Discworld book to look forward to.

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I do have a tiny personal connection to Terry Pratchett, as I was once lucky enough to meet him in person.  I went along to a book signing in Melbourne when Wintersmith was released.  I had purchased two copies of the book; one for my aunt and one for myself.  While waiting in line, it occurred to me that I probably wouldn’t be able to get both books signed. I decided to opt to have Sir Terry sign my aunt’s copy, and I would be content with an unsigned copy if it meant I still got to meet the great man.  When I got to the front of the line, Sir Terry beckoned me over to his table with a wave of a hand adorned with a silver signet ring.  I was struck by how much he looked like a pirate, all in black with his big beard, a silver belt buckle and a cane.  He was quite small too, barely taller than myself and his voice had a piping, nasal quality.  Rather than being irritating, it snagged the ear and made every word out of his mouth sound slightly eccentric.

As I handed my aunt’s book to be signed, Sir Terry asked for my name.  I told him it was Vanessa, but that I’d like him to sign the book to my aunt Jenny.  I explained that the book was a Christmas gift for my aunt, and he wrote “Happy Hogswatch” inside the cover for her.  Then he held out his hand for the other book I was holding and signed it with a flourish and a wide smile.  I thanked him and wished him a good day and left.  When I got outside the store, I peeked into the cover to see the words “Dear Vanessa, love and frost from Terry Pratchett”.  I was elated.  I’ve never forgotten how sweet he was to me, and how generous he was with his time.  As I’d watched other people go up to his table before me, I was struck by the way that he spent a bit of time talking to each of his fans, offering a joke and a smile to all.  He seemed truly pleased to be there, and genuinely happy to be sharing his work with the people who loved it.  From this short encounter I have a memory of a man who truly loved the world he had created, and was overjoyed to share it with his fans.  I remember a man with a cheeky smile, a unique spirit and a singular talent.

So although I’m sad that the world has lost such a fantastic person, I am heartened by that memory of our only meeting.  I’m grateful for the many years of tireless work that churned out no less than 70 books for us fans to enjoy.  I’m thankful for the Discworld, a place where misfits and oddballs are heroes.  And I’m pleased to have spent countless hours enjoying Sir Terry’s craft.

So as much as I wish Sir Terry would pop up with a sign that reads “I Aten’t Dead” and tell us it was all a joke, I know that’s not going to happen.  So I hope instead that this awesome man is able to rest peacefully, after a life filled with humour and sweetness.  Vale, kind sir.

Things I love Thursday 29/5/2014

It’s Thursday again, which means that it’s time for me to bombard you with a list of all the awesome things that have been putting a smile on my dial this last week.  Here we go!

This week I love:

– Thunderbolts and lightening and pelting rain (Oh my!).

– X Men Days of Future Past.  Saw it, loved it, want to see it again.

– Lakeside picnics.

– American Horror Story Season 2.  The perfect viewing companion for this stormy weather we’ve been having here.

-My new midi rings from Louvisa.  They’re so cute and I can’t get enough of them.

– Giving away things I don’t need to people who do.

– Getting a gorgeous card in the mail from my Nana’s bestie to congratulate me on my new job.

– The fact that, after today I only have to work one more shift at my old job!

– Getting to meet the awesome Clara Cupcakes last weekend.  I was beyond excited.

– Flamenco dancing.  I saw my first flamenco performance last weekend and it was spellbinding.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the dancers’ feet.  They were amazingly talented!

– Attending my first ever hens night.

– Shouting along to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

– Morning tea dates with my mum.

– Celebrating my geekiness.

– Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Easily the cutest move I’ve seen this year.

What do you love this fine Thursday?

Daily outfit 20/1/2014

Yippee!  I am officially on holidays.  I’ve got two whole weeks off work, and it’s going to be awesome.  I’m planning on taking a couple of short trips to catch up with friends and family, doing a whole bunch of work on my blog and etsy stores and having a whole lot of me-time.  I feel like I’ve barely stopped moving since Christmas so it will be awesome to stop and recharge.

The weather is no longer crazy hot here.  It’s just hot now.  This is what I wore to go to the library to pick up some holiday-relaxation supplies (A book about Gypsy Rose Lee, a doco about the early queens of England and an iced coffee).

DSCF9348I am wearing:

– Peacock kaftan (thrifted)

– Silver bird belt (vintage, used to belong to my mate Adam’s grandmother)

– Tan sandals from Rubi shoes

– Frida Kahlo cameo brooch from Lost at Sea Accessories

– Chiffon headscarf (belonged to my grandmother)

– Hibiscus earrings (thrifted)

DSCF9339Can we take a moment to talk about this Frida Kahlo brooch?  I bought it as a little new year’s treat for myself and I am just in love with it.  As you may recall, I adore Frida Kahlo and I’ve been looking for a gorgeous piece of jewellery to celebrate that love.  This one was just perfect.

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DSCF9345I was feeling a bit of a fortune-teller vibe when I put this outfit together.

DSCF9350My sandals are also new.  I got them as part of my new year’s day shopping spree, and they cost a whopping $4.  I couldn’t go past them.  I’ve been looking for a pair of neutral sandals for a while and these are perfect.  They are so comfortable and I can walk for ages in them.

DSCF9351And my kaftan, while not new, is appearing on the blog for the first time.  I got it from the Salvation Army store that I frequent. It was hanging out on the plus-size rack, but the amazing fabric caught my eye.  Being that it’s a kaftan, it doesn’t matter one jot that it’s a bit loose and breezy.  The bigger, the better I say!  It’s the perfect thing for adding a bit of 70’s chic to my look when it’s hot and steamy.  It’s so light it’s almost as if I was wearing nothing at all! (Stupid, sexy Flanders!)

Things I Love Thursday 8/8/2013

It’s the eighth day of the eighth month.  I feel like that’s something to celebrate.  Well, it’s Thursday as well, so I guess I should celebrate with a list of all the things I love.

This week I love:

DSCF8679-This picture I took of Jelly jumping out of the bath.  She’s taken to sitting in the bathtub lately, and I’ve been trying to get a picture of her doing it without success.  This is the closest I’ve gotten.  I realise it’s a terrible picture, but I’m so tickled by the funny look on her face.

– Random phone calls from my mum when I’m feeling low.  She has a sixth sense for being able to tell when I’m having a rough day.

DSCF8680-Finishing crochet and knitting projects.  I made this little owl hat for one of my workmate’s granddaughters…

DSCF8681– And these armwarmers for my friend Tom.

– Giving my nana a manicure.

DSCF8699-This present from Ross.  It’s Heartbreaker Iron Man.  How fucking appropriate.  I just love the irony of this.

DSCF8698-Cats who will sleep in the most uncomfortable-looking positions and be completely happy with it.

– Getting my learners permit without even having to sit the test.  I had studied my butt off and was all ready to ace that exam, but when I rocked up they told me that because it’s been less than 5 years since my first permit expired, they just reissue it.  So all I had to do was pose for a new photograph and sign a paper and I’m able to begin learning to drive again.

– Baking chocolate chip cookies, my go-to happy food.

-Beth Ditto.  I borrowed her autobiography Coal to Diamonds on the weekend and it blew me away.  She has had such an incredible life, with so many challenges and obstacles and she just keeps getting stronger and more awesome.  There was a part of the book where she talked about how she’d wanted to commit suicide at one point, and her sister told her to just take it day by day, or minute by minute, or second by second if that’s all you can take.  It was such an inspiring read.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Gossip this week, and these are a couple  of my favourite jams.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12zPU-8bsTE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mQVljB7JGw

Amazing, right?  And her personal style is totally fab.  I think we could be besties.

– Gorgeous emails from friends to check up on me.

-Call the Midwife.  It’s this fantastic BBC series that my mother introduced me to.  It’s based on the memoirs of Jenny Lee, who was a midwife in London in the 1950’s.  Some parts of it are heartbreaking, but it’s a really good program.  Watching it made me feel such a profound respect for mothers, and the intense pain and joy that must come from bringing a child into the world.  It’s also got some really funny moments too.  Definitely worth checking it out.

What do you love this week?  Feel free to join in and leave your own Things I Love Thursday list in the comments.