Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Favorite Things: Day 11

Favorite Things: Day 11...what goes around comes back around.

If you live long enough, you will see certain fashion looks come right back into vogue. Laura Ingalls Wilder might have been quite startled had she lived to see Jessica McClintock begin selling sun bonnets and prairie dresses through her Gunne Sax line in the 70's only to have Marc Jacobs reinterpret the look again in the early 2000's. It's like fashion karma. What goes around comes back around, and if you kept the stuff you had back then, you'll suddenly find yourself right in with the trend, which may actually be more of a curse than a blessing if being trendy isn't really your thing.

Take Frye boots, for example. They are ubiquitous now but when I bought mine 9 years ago, I had to take a deep breath before pulling them on and heading out the door. Why? I often was on the receiving end of jokes and comments such as "you going to a rodeo later?" You might say I was a fashion martyr. But I believed in Fryes and no one's jeering was going to sway me from pairing them with skirts and dresses. For one thing, I felt pretty tough and invincible in them, but if I'm honest, the selling point was Meg Ryan.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

But there was a time, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, that Ms. Ryan was my fashion inspiration. There was her short, messy blonde hair, brown boots and sassy walk in French Kiss, leather pants and leopard print dress with even messier hair in Addicted to Love, oxford men's shoes with pleated school girl skirts in You've Got Mail, then came her fall from grace (but elevation in fashion coolness) with the movie Proof Of Life with Russell Crowe. Although many fans, such as myself, equate this rough period in Meg's personal life as the point at which she toppled off the throne as America's sweetheart and therefore the downfall of her career, there is one awesome thing that came out of that movie- the possibility of pairing motorcycle boots with skirts and dresses and pulling it off as if it's a combo that always was. As soon as I saw the movie, I hopped online and ordered myself some Frye harness boots, and every time I took some heat for wearing them in the REI-as-high-fasion city of Seattle, I bore it because I knew deep down inside it was a look that was me.

I know many would argue against the merits of fashion, that it's shallow and leads to vanity. I think that there is much in the industry to decry, but I think there is something wonderful and creative and fun in pulling together an outfit that either tells a story or says something about who the wearer is, and when you are comfortable first in your own skin and then in your second skin (your clothes), you can go about your day with a confidence and ease that is palpable. It doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks as long as you like it and are comfortable in whatever you are wearing.

The point of all this rambling is to say that this little grouping of my favorites, my standbys, have been with me for 8 years or longer and prove, in my mind at least, the theory of quality over quanity, although some would argue the quanity is there as well. See the sweet white and cream patent oxfords? I remember wearing those to Elizabeth & Brian Garcia's beautiful wedding, pre-Ryan and pre-kids...they are totally in right now and people are shocked when I tell them how old they are (14 years old). My beloved blundstone boots have a very special place in my heart as they accompanied me to the hospital with each of my children's births (except Sam's)- they were the only things I could pull on to the swollen feet at the end of my 200 lb. body!

My black men's oxfords are in need of new soles and a lovin' spoonful of polish but they are one of my favorite things to pair with rolled boyfriend jeans or opaque black tights and a dress (thank you Meg in When Harry Met Sally). I think those are my oldest pair of shoes besides the bordeaux colored suede desert boots I bought in Budapest when I was 15- I recently dusted them off and started wearing them again. J. Crew is selling a similar pair for $158 right now.

My frye boots also make me think of my father-in-law Terry, who wore his as he escorted his new bride to their VW bus after their wedding in 1973. There is a photo of them sitting in the bus, with that wonderful newlywed glow, but if you look carefully in the lower left hand corner, you'll see Terry's Frye harness boots (just like mine!) peeking out from under his cords. Though my father-in-law is a somewhat quiet man by nature and it's difficult at times to discern his likes and dislikes, I feel a connection to him by the fact that we both love those boots. I think he lost the originals but now has a new pair that he wears all the time (as does my SIL Autumn).

As I'm writing, the realization is hitting me that this post could come off as rather self-righteous and arrogant, which isn't my intent at all. My point is that the beautiful combination of A). knowing your style (with a few mishaps here and there...we all get tripped up by trends from time to time) with B). investing in companies that make clothes and shoes that will LAST (if a company like Levi's or Frye started in the 1800's and is still around making the same product today, it seems obvious that the craftsmanship and design elements are all lining up) = less money and time spent in the long run wondering what you're going to wear every day. And that, you might say, is priceless.

*also, I'm sorry I didn't underline the movies but I can't figure out how to do that on blogger...can anyone help me?


  1. lady, we were separated at birth. bl kids me to no end of my crush on meg, for years it's been like that. yes, she has fallen, but alas, i still am smitten with her.

    i've been trying to get my hands on a pair of frye boots for years, but i need the ones that are "ME" and i haven't quite found them yet.

    i love you lady.

  2. This post made me grin from ear to ear from the start. I thought of my Dad the instant you mentioned Frye (especially Harness) and then the story of him and his boots made it all the better. I love your blog.

  3. All I can say is I love this post so much! :)

  4. Like Jenn, I also love this post! I love it when you say that you knew the boots were YOU, even though people snickered about them. I totally know what you mean. You just know when something is you even when it's not in fashion at the moment.

    I also like how you say that we often get tripped up by what's in fashion. That is so true because I know that I know what I like and what looks good on me, but sometimes I look at a piece of clothing and wonder, "What was I thinking?" I guess it's influence from fashion that makes me buy things I don't really like.

  5. I once found the most incredible pair of mens? womens? 30s oxfords in a vintage shop. I wore them to death over a few years and was so sad to part with them. I kept them for a long time in the hope of having a similar pair reconstructed. They didn't seem American--they had these aeration holes that would be impossible to describe, but made them really unique. After I couldn't replace them, I turned to the J.Crew oxford, which you are I appear to have been trending at the same time. I've always loved clodhoppery shoes, and yes, people love to comment on it.

    Though as you say it is easy to critique fashion for promoting materialism, clothing is another ones of those everyday arts that I place a lot of value in. I don't mind if people don't place that value there, although most everyone, even if they want to argue otherwise, has a "style." I like seeing how people express themselves through their clothing choices, how people take pride in this everyday art. And ladies, let me tell you, Annika is a master of the fine detail when it comes to clothing.

  6. I will always love Meg.
    I can't help it.
    also...I have always loved your style...from the first time I saw you working at Starbucks and you found a way to make even a uniform look your own.

  7. It looks like you've made some great wardrobe investments with your men's shoes! As long as you take good care of them, they should last you 9 more years!