Monday, April 30, 2012

Frivolous Fridays: Funky Footwear

by frédérik

Well. I never.

I never thought I'd see the day when shoes - shoes! - would generate such a yawning response. If I had a microphone, I'd be tapping it to find out it was on.

In any case, Mica heeded the call of the Frivolous Friday challenge and sent in some lovely pics of her lovely self. Behold the awesomeness that is...mouse flats!

To find out more about the pretty ensemble that Mica put together with the charming flats, visit her blog Away From Blue.

As for yours truly, I don't often wear shoes - I'm a bare feet and sandals kind of guy  - but when I do, I put one shoe on each foot. And given the fact that sandals outnumber shoes by 2-to1, I don't have to hem and haw for long to choose a pair when I need to. So, for this challenge I turned to the first pair of Converse I've ever bought; ass-kicking high-tops with overlappingsymbols for peace and anarchy. Images on my shoes are as funky as I get, and these are the only pair I have that are ornamented this way. As for the outfit, it's nothing especially special - striped dress shirt and skinny pants - but there you go. At least I'm not being serious.

America's Next Flop Model

"He has given us...a shoe!"

When I die 
let the black rag fly 
raven falling 
from the sky. 

Let the black flag lie 
on bones and skin 
that long last night 
as I enter in. 

For out of black 
soul's night have stirred 
dawn's cold gleam, 
morning's singing bird. 

Let black day die, 
let black flag fall, 
let raven call, 
let new day dawn 
of black reborn.
-Black Flag, by George Woodcock

For this week's Frivolous Friday, I'm declaring another open challenge. That's right, it's...

Reader's Choice

The only rule: there is no rule. Wear something you like, and send me an electronic pigeon by Sunday May 6th to be immortalized. I leave it to you to challenge yourself.

In the meantime, just as life seems to be particularly hectic, remember to take inspiration from this wise creature. I know I will.

"Sometimes I sits and thinks. Sometimes I just sits."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

a pinch of vintage

I'm afraid an overabundance of work this week prevented me from writing a substantive post. But I don't want to leave you with nothing, so here's an update courtesy of Fredrik Eklund, Ugglebo's indefatigable marketing and brand manager: new clogs with vintage styling. They are handmade by Ugglebo's master clogmaker himself, Christer, and feature a wooden low-heel base, vegetable tan leather, and a style that, according to the blurb, recalls the kind of clogs Danish grandparents used to wear. Here's a picture of these lovely, even cute, designs (click to enlarge image):

Visit Ugglebo's vintage page to learn more.

Stay tuned for the result of this week's Frivolous Friday challenge, coming up on Monday,as well as a return to the regular posting schedule. Hopefully.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Frivolous Friday: Transgender Dressing

by Becky

I hope your enjoyed your foray into androgyny, all!

200412 111j awayfromblue cotton on 3 colour top slim trousers blazer statement necklace and heels

Mica looks so lovely in her blazer and heels. It's amazing how masculine details can make ladies look even more womanly.


Anne has got some foxy curves and her vest and mens dress shirt really showed them off. Hot!


I always joke with my family that my pencil-esque figure makes me look like a dude anyway but dressing the part made me feel totally badass.

Says Frédérik: "Neither of these ensembles are office-appropriate or practical for daily wear (given LA's temperature highs), but this is the sort of ensemble I'd put together when dressing up for a night out at the Goth club. (Alas, the last club to appeal passed away several years ago, so the skirt and kilt remain in the closet.) Although I have worn both the skirt and kilt out in public before, the opportunity just wasn't there for this week's challenge. Hence, a bit of indoor modelling.  The kilt is from the now-defunct Toronto Goth store Siren - a legend in its day - while the brocaded A-line skirt is from Lip Service. The vest (left image) is from local LA institution Shrine, while the shirt (right image) is also from Lip Service. I wrote about it here. And the boots? Those are my Corcoran Field Boots."

A closeup of the skirt's brocade pattern:


Frédérik, here, with apologies that the pictures of me above don't offer you a good look at my gorgeous legs. Disappointing, I know. But hey: Becky's ploy to get me into a skirt worked, more or less. And all the lads - that's short for ladies, right? - looked fabulous in their response to the gender-blender experiment.

This week, I offer an easy challenge:

funky footwear

That's right: shoes! Here's an image for inspiration:

Image via Copyright unknown.
But you don't have to go to quite those extremes. Show me your fun, your silly, your unusual, your unique, your favourite footwear, and the outfit you'd wear with them. Send pics and comments to me by Sunday, April 29th, via electronic pigeon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Claddagh House: knot your run-of-the-mill jeweler

by frédérik

Sometimes fashion is nothing more than fashion, and sometimes it is something more: a symbol. Last week’s bling edition of our weekly Frivolous Friday challenge reminded me of this as I counted my engagement ring among the jewelry round-up. Here’s a closeup:

As I mentioned in the bling roundup, my ring is twin to the one my wife wears. When we got engaged, we thought it would be lovely and meaningful to have matching rings, so after finding the right jeweler we began by choosing a design we both liked, then had them alter the metal colour scheme to distinguish the rings. Hence, my wife’s ring has white gold knotwork in a yellow gold band, while the knotwork in my ring is yellow gold in a white gold band. Both rings have small diamonds laid into the Celtic knotwork and also bear inscriptions of the day we got engaged on the inside of the band. 
What the rings represent is obvious: two people promised to each other in love and engagement. Naturally, the rings also represent how a beautiful design can take on greater value for having something other than aesthetics to draw on.

The jeweler we bought the rings from is a long-established family business in downtown Toronto called The Claddagh House. Named after the famous Irish token of love and friendship, The Claddagh House has been Jim and Norah’s labour of love since 1992. Just about 12 years since my wife and I bought our engagement rings, it’s comforting and gratifying to know that this artisanal jewelry shoppe (somehome, the quaint spelling seems particularly appropriate) is still going strong.

Returning to Toronto every so often, I’m always somewhat startled by how much has changed. It’s good Comforting and gratifying that Claddagh House remains…but not surprising in and of itself. The work quality is excellent. The prices are reasonable. And the Celtic designs most definitely deserve a toast with a pint o’ Guinness or three. Here’s a look at some of their beautiful offerings (prices in Canadian dollars): 

$55 for sterling silver; $165 for10K gold.

Available in combinations of white, yellow, and rose gold and stones like diamonds or sapphires. Price varies with choice of metal and stones.

Starting at $218

$37.95 for sterling silver; $165 for 10K gold. Prices vary with chosen stone.

As an interesting side note, did you know that the Claddagh Ring takes on different meanings depending on how it's worn? Quoth the Wikipedia:

  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is single and may be looking for love. (This is most commonly the case when a young woman has first received the ring from a relative, unless she is already engaged).
  • On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship, or their heart has been "captured".
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
  • On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.

So now you know how to wear your Claddagh Ring. Moving on with a few more examples from their collection...

$165 for sterling silver; $900 for 10K gold

$90 for sterling silver; $950 for 10K gold.

The good news is that they take orders over the Internet, including from the United States. Visit their website at to see their full selection.

What do you wear that takes on a special significance? Share the deets in the comments below!

Usual Disclaimer: Images borrowed from the Claddagh House website under fair use for illustrative purposes only. They'll be removed at the copyright owner's request.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Frivolous Friday: Bling

by frédérik

Emily rocked a blinged-out top...


Take it from her: "It's fun to be a human disco ball!"

Anne sells Premiere Designs jewelry and had a mountain of beautiful baubles to choose from...


She said, "I wanted maximum adornment without looking like a crazy aunt."

I think it's pretty clear she succeeded. Says Becky: "I wish my crazy aunt looked as elegant."

My aunt isn't crazy, but is certainly elegant. I don't want to brag, though.

Mica added a rocker edge to some beautiful basics.

150412 106 awayfromblue striped tee orange pants acne pistol boots LV speedy 25

Says Mica: "Although I have lots of accessories, and I love my bracelet stacks, I don't have a lot of what I would call bling. I do however, have this old Mimco wrap bracelet that I think stands out enough to be classed as bling with all the studs!"

You can read more on her blog.

Becky wore this enormous necklace she's been hoarding for a few years...


Becky said, "This necklace has all the practicality I look for in a piece of jewelry: It's incredibly heavy and covered in little bells that jingle piercingly when I make the slightest movement. At least you always know where I am when I wear it!"

And let it not be said that Becky is the only one with lovely and stylish co-workers. Here's Jenny, who livens up the office we work in with fabulosity such as this necklace from Francesca's.

Last and least is yours truly, who shines most typically from my bald head rather than any bling. However, I did veer out into atypical territories by wearing a stacked thumb ring purchased in Hawaii and a minimalist leather bracelet. I don't tend to find thumb rings comfortable for long periods of time, and I generally don't like having anything around my wrists. (Ankles, yes. Wrists, no. Weird? Absolutely.) Still. I did it for the challenge. I did it

The silver ankh pendant hails from the depressingly defunct Toronto goth store Siren. And the M-knot band on my right right finger is my engagement ring. My wife's is identical, except the metals are reversed: yellow gold on the outside, white gold on the inside. The pair came from a fantastic jewelry store in Toronto, The Claddagh House.

Ladies and gentlemen: challenge met! Thanks to everyone who sent in pictures.

And now, Becky unwittingly unleashes the possibility of me showing off my legs...

Becky's turn!

Friday is the The National Day of Silence, which brings attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Since silence is not a sartorial choice, I thought we'd participate by wearing androgynous and transgender accessories.

Clockwise from top: Flanked by a drag queen and stylish ladies at the Stardust Fashion Runway Show in 2011; My first-ever golf outing in 2008; Geared up for a drag-themed fundraiser for the Cincinnati Rollergirls in 2008

Um, obviously, you don't have to go all-out drag style. But ladies in menswear are awesome and dudes in nontraditional togs are hot.

Ladies, break out your blazers, oxfords, vests, and suspenders. Gentlemen, don your jewelry, purses, flowing clothes, and girly colors. Everyone, email me your pictures by Sunday, April 22 to take part!

Friday, April 13, 2012

pant-fishing at Etsy

by frédérik

It’s been a year since I last wrote about Thai fisherman’s pants, so I thought I’d revive the topic with a look of some of the phantasmagorical offerings available on Etsy. 

As before, I admire the simplicity of this unisex garment and its gentle, flowing, comfortable style. While I haven’t yet figured out my own idiosyncratic, streetwise way to wear them, I remain enamoured by the imaginative possibilities inherent in the wrap-around pants; fabrics and colours get a chance to really zing, and patchwork sewing really dazzles the eyes with texture. It’s enough to make me want to find a pattern and make my own Thai fisherman’s pants – or have them made according to my design – with more machine-washable fabrics. Until such time, however, I’m quite enjoying ooing and aaaing the real deal directly from Thailand, handmade and sold through Etsy. There’s an impressive variety to be found when searching the handmade category for thai fisherman’s pants; here are a few beautiful designs that caught my eye, with more waiting to be discovered at each Etsy store.

Amonchai – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cotton, Batik, Cream w Traditional Thai Elephant Design, $28.99 

HandmadeArt6 – Chon Buri, Thailand

Black and Blue 3/4 Length Thai Fisherman Pants, $15

MyMumMade – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cotton 3/4 length Thai Fisherman Pants, $15.99

Smileclothing – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Stone Wash Cotton Pants, $35.00

Not fisherpants, but too gorgeous not to mention: Black and red embroidered wide-leg pants, $59.00

SiamTrendy – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Black Soft Cotton Pants, $27.95

Thaithee – Sikew, Thailand

Patchwork Print 3/4 Length Pants, $26.00

patchwork cotton alladin yoga pants, $39.00

I can attest to how comfortable these pants are, as they are my garment of choice for to-ing and fro-ing between home and my yoga class. However, the two issues that bedeviled me before linger on:

  • What shirt to wear?  I’m thinking a tunic of some kind, but I’m not sure I want to create the impression of a monk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
  • How best to stow away wallet and keys, given that whatever pocket some pants may come with are not adequate? A bag of some kind, obviously, but I don’t want to lug around a messenger bag. Who wants to walk around carrying a messenger in a bag anyway? Messengers are heavy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. And if you wear Thai fisherpants, it would be wonderful if you sent in some pictures for a future post to show us how you styled them. As for me, I'm keeping an eye open for some great pair I can wear beyond commuting to yoga class.

Disclaimer: Images are the property of the respective Etsy store owners and are used under fair use for illustrative purposes only. If asked, I will of course remove them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

by Becky

Hurray for pastels!

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

Have I mentioned how fantastically frivolous my coworkers are?

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

Aw. Heart: Melted.

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

This is Amanda! She always wears pastels because they look totally beautiful on her. She knows which shades work with her coloring and she doesn't dick around with trendy neons or junk like that. I like that about her. Plus, she's always rocking adorable accessories like it's no big deal. I kind of want to put her in my pocket.

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

You guys know Anne! She has the misfortune of being my office neighbor and listening to me argue with my computer all day long but she never complains, possibly because she knows my computer is SUCH A JERK. Anyway, Anne has an amazing sense of style and is always up for taking risks and that is awesome.

We did have a debate about whether or not coral was a pastel but I told her she looked hot and I was putting her in the blog anyways.

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels

This is Emily! She would like you to think that she's a shy, retiring, quiet little mouse but if you break out a camera, she will suddenly unleash all these supermodel poses on you until you're overcome with gorgeousness. Seriously, dude. Quit making us look bad with your Tyra-approved model posing!

Also, since I'm not the greatest photographer, you can't see the peachy-colored stripes on Emily's top but, trust me, they're there.

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels awayfrombue pastels lv damier azur mm neverfull indigo rose design necklace

Mica participated in the pastel and looks like a classy lady while doing it. Read about her adventures here.

Frivolous Fridays: Pastels
80's vintage dress, slip from Black Market, Gap flats, earrings from Target

I, of course, looked like a demented cupcake but at this point in my life, I've made peace with my inability to dress normally.


Frédérik here, and alas I don't do pastels. But with the bevy of beauties rocking pastels in the images above, I'm sure you won't mind my opting out of that particular challenge.

Moving along, then, I'm going to ask you to

bling it on

for the next Frivolous Friday Challenge. Show me your loveliest bling. But remember: Extra points for doing some different from what you normally do. If you typically wear bracelets, consider anklets. Wear rings on different fingers (or toes?). Since we've already done belt buckles points may be deducted for revisiting familiar territory, but how about a fascinator for your hair? Whatever it is, send me your pictures by Sunday, April 15th, and get featured on Monday's post.

As for the points thing: Whoever gets the most points will get...a whole lotta points, to use however way you want.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Things I Wish Men Would Wear: Doctor Who Edition

by frédérik

Becky brought you George Peppard’s Paul Varjak from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and I can’t argue with that. So I won’t even try. After all, Varjak has been on both sides of an argument, and won.

Instead, I’ll just present the bohemian alternative that constitutes the things I wish men would wear. Edit: An alternative that comes courtesy of that long-running British science-fantasy TV show, Doctor Who.

Back when the world was black & white, the Doctor’s sartorial presentation relied on lines and texture. And William Hartnell’s mane of white hair.

Doctor Hue?
Once colour was invented, the second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton saw those lines and textures livened up with excitement for the ol’ rods and cones. And he sported both a bow tie and a Beatle’s haircut after a drinking binge. Party on, Doctor.

Flute of the Bumble-Beatle.

The third doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, is known as the dandy of the bunch. With good reason - check out these magnificent outfits:

Theatrical, grandiose, gentlemanly…only alliteration can capture the awesomeness that is Jon Pertwee: definitively dapper dandy Doctor.

With his signature floppy hat and marvelously long scarf, Tom Baker’s embodiment of the Fourth Doctor is the golden baseline for many fans of the series. Certainly, his fashion style has been iconic for the series, to the point where if I have to wear a scarf, I wear one of two ridiculously long scarves lovingly provided by the best provider of knitted goods, my mom.

Inspired by a cricketer’s uniform, Peter Davison’s Doctor represented a significant departure from the fashion style of past Doctors. Disciplined but playful, colourful but not garish…and with a stalk of celery in the lapel, as well as question marks embroidered in the collar, to provide just the hint of eccentricity a man-of-the-universe needs. The look suited Davison’s persona; unassuming yet unmissable at the same time.

It was a hard celery, but he eventually closed the deal.

…and then the sixth Doctor happened. Colin Baker apparently wanted to dress in black velvet to reflect the character’s darker personality, but producer John Nathan-Turner opted for an anarchic explosion of colour instead. More alliteration: brave bold…boctor. Boom!

No, I'm not the guy with the technicolour dreamcoat.

Sylvester McCoy was the last actor to play the Doctor until the attempted revival in 1996. His fashion style, tacky but endearing, seems to filter the Fifth Doctor through the Sixth Doctor in an attempt to recreate the Second Doctor’s iconoclastic style. Personally, I think this version of the Doctor just didn’t care and put on any old thing that happened to be lying around, including tchotchkes from the Dr. Who gifty shop.

In 1989, after 26 years on the air, Doctor Who ended its run. An attempt to revise the series on American television failed to excite fans, but Paul McGann’s embodiment of the Eighth Doctor lived on in various other comics, books, and audio plays. Personally, I remember liking the movie well enough, but mostly I remember greatly liking McGann and wishing he’d been given a series to shine in. Dressed like Edgar Allen Poe in Victorian England by way of Lord Byron, McGann is the less theatrical analogue to Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, and it works just fine.

Displeased with the wig he had to wear, McGann had the idea of a Doctor with short hair and a leather jacket, an idea that came to fruition when the BBC resurrected Doctor Who on its own airwaves in 2005. Played by Christopher Eccleston, this Ninth Doctor sported a gritty urban look that, in my opinion, was only generically stylish.

Along with Tom Baker, David Tennant is routinely listed as a fan favourite in the role. His Tenth Doctor shed the pared-down style of the Ninth Doctor and snazzed it up with a suit, overcoat and trainers.

For Smith, the Eleventh and current incarnation of the Doctor, the motif seems to be tweedy academic hipster with a think for bow ties. There was a brief flirtation with a fez hat but, alas, that didn’t last.

The interesting thing about the Doctors’ fashion choices over the years is that New Who trends very closely with today’s style. While it looks good, I ultimately feel that it misses the point of the character, who wouldn’t really be in tune with Earthly trends and latch on instead to whatever fancy that crosses his mind. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and all brought together in a way that disregards the normal conventions of taste. What New Who is missing is glorious anachronism.

So there you have it: I wish men dressed more anachronistically. Explosions of colours, a mishmash of styles, blatant exaggeration…obviously, Tom Baker’s Doctor had the most direct influence on me, at least on an accessory level. But really: Jon Pertwee is the real deal.

Is there a Doctor in the...oh, forget it.

What do you think? Which Doctor rocks his splendid sartorial stylings best?

Note: Images used under fair use. They’ll be removed at the copyright holder’s request, whoever that may be.