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Annie - San Francisco, CA

I don't live-blog from the tents.

poeticandchic [at] gmail

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Image by Julie Michelle.

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Self Portrait

I'm not sure where this post came from as it isn't usually my style to be so frankly self-absorbed. However, it is good to take a look at oneself from time to time and do an inventory, as it were. I had an encounter this weekend which prompted a bit of soul-searching, while at the same time I'm reading Alice Kaplan's amazing biography Dreaming In French: the Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis. I've just finished the first part on Jacqueline Bouvier, and I was captivated by the exerpts of her writing submission for Vogue Magazine's Prix de Paris competition. One of the assignments was a "Self Portrait", which is always an important exercise in the visual arts, but not as frequently considered in writing. Like a visual self portrait, the assignment should be honest and forthright, not couching anything or being coy. Young Miss Bouvier's submission was appropriately frank and surprising, which prompted me take stock of a few things myself. For me, this is far more creative than a mere outfit post, which is a level of self-absorption that's definitely not my style.

And so...

Self Portrait:

I don’t know what it is about me that people first notice because I don’t have any one feature that’s a particular standout. My face is sort of a rounded square, with most of the strength of the square in my chin and jaw. This certainly makes me look more German than Irish, but my pale pale skin is definitely of Irish descent, as are the myriad of freckles I host. They aren’t freckles of the ginger-copper variety, just pale spots. Most of them are unseen at first glance, but they’re definitely there. To me they bring contours and shadows to the most unwelcome of places, such as my jawline, nose and upper lip, but oh well. I’ve started using a whitening serum this past year but I have no idea if it’s working or not. I do have a few darker freckles on my face which I enjoy because they look like beauty marks, but they aren’t really. The one on my left cheekbone I think is kind of awesome.

I’ve been told I have beautiful skin, and it does have a nice rosy-creamy color to it and very small pores. But, the texture leads to problems which have been preoccupying me of late. Small pores mean small blemishes that absolutely do not go away. I spend a fortune on cleansers and Clarisonics, but my skin is never as smooth and perfect as I see it on other girls. This is something I’ve dealt with for ages – I recently looked at a picture of myself from 15 years ago and the same damn bumps were on my forehead. You’d think I’d have figured it out by now.

My forehead is high and my eyebrows are somewhat sparse, especially on the sides. The upper line is strong and full, but the side angle gets thin, requiring a daily penciling-in. Indeed, my hair isn’t the best; it’s thin and fine, and up until a few years ago I thought I was going bald but that was remedied by my departure from the corporate world. It’s amazing how a decline in stress creates an increase in hair follicles. Still, I cannot grow the long luscious locks that most women have. I’ve tried and it just looks awful on me. I keep my hair short and bobbed with a set of long bangs that meet my brows or go a little longer. This is for two reasons: 1) camouflaging the aforementioned skin blemishes that always seem to grace my forehead, and 2) hiding the gray hairs that have started coming at my right hairline. Yes, when my hair started growing again the grays started to show up too. The irony is that while the growth is great, the grays make my hair look even thinner, if that were possible. While I spend a small fortune every few months to color my hair, the grays need to be hidden in between times, thus the bangs. I wish my hair were more fun or funky or stylish or bouffant or volumized, but it is what it is and I have come to accept my “junior newscaster” hairstyle. I accept it with a multitude of volumizing shampoos, mousses, texturizers, and sprays, but at least all that keeps me looking presentable.

My eyes are an olive green color. I don’t know what color people think they are, but I do know that depending upon what color I’m wearing, people remark on my eyes more. I’ve had a number of friends say “wow…I guess I’ve never noticed your eyes before…” I don’t know why they say this as it’s not as though I wear eye patches. I suppose it’s again because my eyes aren’t that remarkable in the day-to-day and unless you’re looking you wouldn’t notice them. I play a lot with eye makeup. I’m kind of stuck in the smoky eye thing, but I do it with browns and golds for daytime. I’ve been trying to do the cat-eye thing, but I always mess it up and it looks just smudgey and weird instead of cool and retro. Perhaps the main drawback of my eyes are the dark circles underneath them. These dark circles are the scourge on my life and my cross to bear. I have tried using any number of eye creams, changed my diet, increased my sleep, and yet they are still there. I’ve been told it’s because my beautiful pale skin is especially pale around my eyes, which makes it difficult to hide the blood vessels there. Whatever. All I know is that I seem to apply a touch more concealer every day. I’m considering buying some PreparationH to see what it can do.

I wear glasses. My vision is not so good and has been declining steadily over the last decade or so, especially for seeing things at a distance. I always choose “nerdy” looking frames for my glasses. This is perhaps because I had an art professor in college who always had nerdy glasses, or simply because they look good on me and are on-trend. My latest pair are big and bold and have lenses that stretch from my eyebrows down to just below my eyes – effectively covering my dark circles. This is perhaps why I wear them so often. It could also be that I think I look better in my glasses, but that may be because I cannot see myself as well without them.

Otherwise, I'm blessed by not having any wrinkles apart from a few laugh lines. These aren't enough to make me ever consider botox. Faces should age and take on their proper character. Of course, if I write something like this in 20 years I reserve the right to say something else.

My mouth is nice, very cupid's bow and it would surely be popular during the 1920s. For today's standards I think it's somewhat small, but it has a nice shape even if the corners tend to be drawn downward when I'm not smiling. I have small, delicate ears, and a nose that more than one person who’s “had work done” has told me “is perfect”. I think it has a weird curve at the end, but that’s just me.

My décolleté is impressive. That’s what happens when you’re busty but not overflowing your cups. I cannot go without a bra, but oh well. Yes, the neck-clavicle-bust region is pretty good, but I’m not crazy about my shoulders and arms. My build is athletic to begin with, and this makes my shoulders very square and somewhat broad. We’re not talking Joan Crawford broad, but they’re broad. (Forget about when I was training for triathlons and I looked like a football player.) This would be fine if I liked my arms more, but I don’t, so I’m always trying to cover them up. I see sleeveless and I walk away, unless it’s something for evening and then it’s fine, only because I usually wear jackets in the evening. I love anything with a sleeve.

The rest of my figure is…well, take it or leave it. My torso is long and so are my legs. This should make me willowy, but it doesn’t. I’m tall, but I feel shorter due to my curvy, athletic build, which has given me very muscular thighs and a butt that sticks out more than I’d like. However, this is a main attraction for certain men, so I cannot really complain. My legs are okay and getting better due to weekly sessions with my gyrotonic trainer and lots of walking, but I am still very wary of short short dresses. (They’re great in the fall & winter when I can wear tights, but I’m too afraid of them bare-legged.) Indeed, between the thighs and the butt it’s difficult to find pants and skirts that fit. That’s also because I have the belly of one of Ingres’ Odalasiques. There, I said it. If we lived in Paris in the 1870s, I’d be generally delectable, but we don’t. Ergo I really try not to eat pasta above once a week and bread even less. But being Odalaisque, I do enjoy myself and I’m not ashamed of it. My waist is not small and sits somewhere higher than on the average body, while my butt is somewhat low. This proportion is either desirable or off-kilter depending upon your perspective. My back is long and lovely, but since I always have to wear a bra, it makes those “plunging back” styles verboten.

I’ve had a multitude of sports injuries as I’ve gotten older and all of them have changed me in different ways. My left knee gets painful here and there after over-doing it on a bike ride a few years ago, and I’ve noticed both knees creaking as I climb the many stairs to my apartment. I’ve been battling my heel spurs and their associated plantar fasciitis for five years now, and while mostly this is fine, sometimes it flares up and makes me miserable. Last winter I had a huge bout of back and neck pain which is mostly under control, but my sacro-illiac joint continues to get painful from time to time. I have very close relationships with my trainer, my chiropractor, my acupuncturist, and my reiki healer…all of whom are amazing and generally agree on my state of health at any given moment.

I’ll be 36 in five months and I’d be lying if I said this number didn’t scare me.

Apart from the makeup, hair styling, and eyeglasses mentioned before, I utilize any number of other tricks to disguise my many imperfections. Most of these are of a sartorial nature. I love great clothes and fun costume jewelry as I’m sure many of my friends will confirm. But while I’m navel-gazing I think I should assert the obvious: my love of these “shiny objects” is merely because they distract from the main event, which is of course, me. If you’re looking at my arm party or necklace or brightly colored top, it’s because you won’t notice me as much.

In fact, all of it’s a ruse of some sort or another. My wit, my intelligence, my humor, my smile, my style…it all leads you away from seeing me. If I throw enough quips and bling your way you won’t notice anything else and I’ll escape unseen. At least that’s the idea. This tactic is mostly unconscious on my part, so I suppose it’s a bit unfair. I’m sorry for this, because I don’t really mean it. I definitely DO want people to know the real me behind it all. Still, I have a tremendous fear that someone will come along and see through the smoke and mirrors and call me out on myself, which would be uncomfortable to say the least. Why would they want to do that? Do they know what they’re getting into?

Probably not. It’s even difficult for me sometimes.

Images: Marcel Duchamp L.H.O.O.Q., 1919; Cindy Sherman Untitled #96, 1981; Friday Kahlo Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940; Vincent Van Gogh Self Portrait, 1889


It's Back: J.Crew Catalog Theater

Now that the FashFilmFest is over (but will return in 2013!) I'm back to blogging! What better way to get back into the routine than with a favorite? By request and popular demand, I've got a new edition of J.Crew Catalog Theater, from the April catalog... The models are sad, sassy, confused, and wearing things we've seen before. But don't hold that against them! They're models, they can't do any better...


San Francisco Fashion Film Festival - Day 2!

Please come out and join the fun at the Roxie Theater for the final day of the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival! Today's lineup will be AMAZING!

We start out with The City of Lost Children from 1995, a film by Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. Presented in partnership with the de Young Museum and their current exhibition Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

Then, we will screen local director (and former San Francisco First Lady)'s film Miss Representation, which we are all excited to see on the big screen.

After this, we will watch Julie Benasra's wonderful documentary God Save My Shoes, and we'll follow-up the screening with a conversation between the director and festival co-founder, Kim Mitchell Stokes.

Finally, we will end the night with Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

Who's excited???


Happy Easter 2012!

Easter and Passover everyone!

I will begin by saying that my longer-than-usual silence has everything to do with the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival going on, which has pulled me away from P&C. But after this weekend things will be back to normal!

Here's a special postcard I wanted to share because I don't have a specific Easter one this year, but I did have this one of Easter Lilies growing in Bermuda. It's dated from 1914 and it was sent to Mr & Mrs L. Irving of Beechhurst, Long Island, NY, no zip code or street address given. The message reads:

"Hamilton, Bermuda. We are spending are [sic] honeymoon here. Had a rough voyage. Wife was sick but I never missed a meal. Stopping at Hotel Kenwood. Mr & Mrs JM Sheffers"

In the early part of the 20th Century, Bermuda was THE vacation spot for wealthy Americans in the North East, as well as Canadians and British. It's climate was tropical, but it was close enough to the mainland (Cape Hatteras, NC is only about 650 miles away) that travel was somewhat easy.

(At this time, the territory thrived on its trade in fresh lilies and agriculture to the United States.  However, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 - enacted by the US against trading partners - cut off this industry and forced Bermuda to move into finance and tourism as its main industries. It is interesting to note that while this tariff act was meant to promote American growth and industry and originally seemed to work, it is cited as one of the main pieces of legislation that led to the Great Depression.)

It was also in 1930 that the first airplane arrived in Bermuda - a Stinson Detroiter seaplane from New York. Soon after, airlines such as Luft Hansa, Imperial Airways, and Pan American would follow. During this golden age of tourism and glamorous travel, Bermuda figured prominently among the early jet-setters and was celebrated as luxurious destination.


Postcard: Washington DC at Cherry Blossom Time

Postmarked in 1959, this card is simply entitled "Washington DC at Cherry Blossom Time", showing the incredible display near the Jefferson Memorial.


Fashion Trends I Don't Understand...

...sorry, sometimes I'm stupid. (File this one under "Rants"...)

Now that my general apology for my stylistic unintelligence is out of the way, let's get down to brass tax. I take issue with a few fashion trends I've been seeing over and over, and now I'm going to say something about it. I've sat by idly, watching the emperor shed his proverbial clothes for far too long, and now I'm reaching for the bathrobe. I have to. That willy is just too sad-looking out there in the cold like that.

Again, have some patience with me. I'm a (somewhat) older, more crotchety, more academic blogger than you young upstarts with your gorgeous selves in daily outfit posts, so perhaps I just don't understand. Maybe I'm David Letterman to your Jimmy Fallon and my routine is a little classic, but there's something to be said for the classics.

For instance, why not paint all of your fingernails the same damn color? I honestly do not get the fourth-fingernail or index-finger painted a contrasting color thing. What is that? ran out of Essie's "Splash of Grenadine" so you had to finish off your manicure with "Armed and Ready" instead? I don't buy it. No one could possibly find ten fingers of the same color so boring that they had to change up numbers three and nine. Is this a drug thing? Because that is the only answer I can think of. The legendary cocaine pinkie spoons of old have given way to this new odd-finger-out your party people know which fingertip to load.

And while we're on the subject of manicures...what's with the obsession over "nail art"? I thought that was relegated to the board of plastic fingernails on the wall at the manicurist's shop, but which no one ever actually ordered for themselves because they were too tacky for anyone who had any class. Seriously? Daisies and polkadots to match your outfit? Flames and lightningbolts? Mustaches & monocles? Leather & lace? Florentine paper swirls? Are you fucking kidding? This may be hard to hear for some of you (but with my readership, I suspect not) but, to put it in the vernacular: nail art is GHETTO. Don't do it.

And what about the special polishes that create a craquelature effect? (Ahem, let's leave the special effects to the paint department at Home Depot, okay?) Has technology made our lives so efficient that we have time to waste like this?


That's basically the whole point: why waste the time? If you get a professional manicure, it's thirty minutes to an hour MINIMUM door to door. If you do one at home it's probably fifteen to forty-five minutes. Who has the time to be changing nail colors with every outfit? That, and have you seen the "ombre" manicure ridiculousness? Clearly this is only something you can do at a nail salon because what idiot would buy five shades of blue nail polish to make this happen? Economically, this is a bad trend. OPI's bottles are now around $8.50 each x 5 = $42.50...You'd better hope those colors don't go out of style in the next six months or you'll be sitting on a whole lot of "Austin-tatious Turquoise" and getting zero return on investment. And it's not like you can consign used nail polish.

Not to say I haven't tried to do these trends. I have. I even have a bottle of OPI's "Gargantuan Green Grape" waiting in my medicine cabinet, but somehow I just can't get myself to break it open. I've also tried to do the glitter thing, but it chipped right away and I ended up with gold glitter in my gluten-free pizza dough. That's not as glamorous as it sounds, kids.

Don't get me wrong, I adore a lot of the "outfit of the day" girls, but I always get a little panicked when they go in for the manicure detail shot. How many hours of the week go to polish changes? Oy! I shudder to think. I'd rather spend that time reading email spam from mail-order-brides in Uzbekistan. I also completely and whole-heartedly admire anyone who has this level of fashion intrepidness that they don't care about the looks in askance they get with such weird fingernails. I applaud them and their bravery! But at the same time, I worry. I worry because they're probably in for a rude awakening, and like Holden Caulfield, I'd like to catch them before they fall off the edge of a cliff...

Floral pants from Anthropologie. There are like, three people in the universe who can wear these.

Now that we're done with the nail polish thing, let's discuss the floral pants thing. I know that florals are always big for spring, but on pants? Really? I mean we're not all 80 pounds here. Don't designers know that putting a big ol' print on the bottom half cuts out about 99% of their customer base? I know it looks great on some people, but let's get real.

Sloppy stripes, courtesy of weird tucking at J.Crew.

Also...and this is the last, I promise. What is the deal with tucking in just the front part of your shirt? We used to do this in grammar school when we had to tuck in shirts for dress uniform days but we got around it by just tucking in the front where the blazer opened... When did this become the cool thing to do? I get that you want to show off your Hermès belt buckle and what-not, but to me it looks sort of sloppy. I'm already having a hard enough time getting my sleeves to roll just so so that I can show off my arm party. Now you want me to tuck my shirt in just so too? That's a lot of just so juzhing for one busy girl to carry off for an entire day.

Like I said, perhaps I'm just a classicist. I like my fingernails all one color (usually in a shade of red or pink) and I like my shirts either in or out. Okay, so I am getting into the colored denim thing, but I don't do floral prints on the bottom, in fact, the most I'll usually do is a great Windsor check.

Maybe that makes me boring, or maybe that makes me...normal?


Postcard: Shenandoah Valley


Apple blossom time in the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VA.

Although it's still technically winter, it's feeling mighty spring-y just about everywhere. So, I think it's time I started posting my blossom postcards. This first one is pretty old, probably 1930s-1940s but was never sent so there's no postmark. I do love the hand-tinted blossoms here - instead of pink, they're pink, coral, yellow, green and white...


Get Your Tickets Now!!!


That's right...we're live! (And now that we are live I promise to be a better blogger.) The San Francisco Fashion Film Festival is off to a running start and our tickets are now available for purchase over on Eventbrite! Individual showings are on sale for $10 and $15 each, while full festival passes are going for just $75 each!

We are also very happy to announce our lineup of films which we think includes something for everyone:

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

1:00 PM - Ziegfeld Girl - $15 (Costumes by Adrian)

3:30 PM - How I Get Dressed/The Way I Dress - $10

4:15 PM - Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills - $15

6:30 PM – Fashion Shorts - $10

7:15 PM – Barbarella - $15 (Costumes by Jacques Fonteray & Paco Rabanne)


9:45 PM - The Matrix - $15 (Costumes by Kym Barrett)

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

2:00 PM - City of Lost Children - $15 (Costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier)

4:45 PM - Miss Representation - $15

6:45 PM – Fashion Shorts - $10

7:30 PM - God Save My Shoes - $15

9:00 PM - Marie Antoinette - $15 (Costumes by Milena Canonero)

Please visit the "Films" section of our website to read more about these titles, why we chose them, and how we grouped them.

Also...we're offering two events to lead-up to the festival!

On Sunday, March 25th we are partnering with the Disposable Film Festival in their latest class of "Disposable Film 101". This class will have a fashion focus, and we'll talk about ways to make engaging and fun fashion shorts.

On Friday, April 6th, yours truly will be introducing a rare French film from Jacques Becker entitled Falbalas at the de Young Museum as part of its Friday Nights at the de Young. The de Young's highly anticipated exhibition Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opens on March 23rd, and the San Francisco Fashion Film Festival is pleased to be partnering with the museum to support this exhibition.

Falbalas was made in 1945 in Paris just after the end of World War II. It tells the fictional story of a couturier, and shows the most realistic view of a Parisian couture house of the era on film. When Jean Paul Gaultier saw this film as a young man, it was what prompted him to become a designer...

For more details and information, please visit the "Schedule" page of our fact, just visit our website - it will tell you absoltuely everything you want to know!

Looking forward to seeing everyone in April - please say introduce yourself and say hello!

SF Fashion Film Festival poster by Alice Lam.


Postcard: San Francisco's Chinatown, 1943

San Francisco's famous Chinatown, the largest outside of China itself...

Sent by the U.S. Navy in December, 1943, this postcard went all the way to New Hampshire to someone's Aunty Daisy...

"I visited this place last Sunday. It's a nice place but kind of spooky. It's in San Francisco. I suppose the Chop Suey looks familiar to you don't it? There's a lot of hills in this place and plenty steep too."

I thought this classic view of Grant Avenue was a perfect tribute to the massive Chinese New Year's parade that's happening on Saturday. Chinatown can still be a little bit spooky, and I'm afraid that Chop Suey is very difficult to find these days, but not much else has changed in this image.


Follow Peripatetic on Tumblr!

I've finally done it...I have a Tumblr up and running as a place to showcase all of those OTHER random images and moments that I love that may not be entirely appropriate or timely for Poetic & Chic. The name, is "Peripatetic", in keeping with the original lyrics of the song "One" from A Chorus Line, where I derived the name "Poetic & Chic".

"She walks into a room and you know she's uncommonly rare, very unique, peripatetic, poetic and chic..."

The word "peripatetic" is an adjective meaning "traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods." Noun synonyms include "wayfarer" or "traveler".

How very appropriate...n'est ce pas?

The content of Peripatetic will be just that: one thing today, another thing tomorrow. Thus far it's pretty vintage and elegant and wistful, but a few playful things are up there too. It's a lot of simple imagery with no text - I can say all I want to say over here. This is where words don't need to happen.

Please follow Peripatetic on Tumblr & enjoy!