Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reviewed: Lingonberry Corset Dress, Spiced Dress and Flower Stand Dress

Hello, Ladies! I hope you are all ready for the weekend! Next week, it's my wedding anniversary so I thought  I would go shopping for a special dress for the occasion. I was disappointed I didn't see the Cirque A-Line there, but I got a text tip, that my store got it today! Drat! One day late!

Lingonberry Corset Dress $328 Leifsdottir

Closeup of the racy mesh detail

I don't own any Leifsdottir items yet, so I thought I would try this on. It's cute and who doesn't love lingonberries? So Ikea.
Anyway, I nearly fainted when I saw the price. $328? Really? I know it's Leifsdottir and it's lux and fab, but this is a little silk dress. I really wanted to like it. I really did. The quality of the silk is top notch, but I found getting this on pretty frustrating. The little fabric strip that's next to the zipper kept getting caught and it took me about 5 minutes to actually get the zipper up without a catch. The straps are adjustable, which is terrific. Here's my main problem with this dress: The little mesh areas featured in the last photo. They are kind of sexy, but it makes wearing a bra impossible. Meaning, if you can't fill that cup (which I can't), the dress doesn't work. Back to the rack.

Bottom Line: If you're comfortable going braless and you're a size to fill the cup in the bodice, it could be really cute. High quality construction consistent with Leifsdottir, but still pricey. Doesn't really work for a petite.

It's the mysterious Spice Dress which sold out before it was even shipped to Anthro. Reviews on the website stated that this dress is running VERY small in the bodice and that is totally accurate. This is the 0. I could get it up and zipped, but it was VERY tight. There is major boob smashing as you can see in the bottom photo. It's a beautiful color and it's actually pretty cute and I'd want to try a 2 to see if it would fit better. Would I pay $188 for it right now? No chance.

The Bottom Line: Cute dress, but the bodice is very tight so size up.  The embroidery on the bodice is stunning in person, but the dress is not worth full price in my opinion. Wait for a sale.

Sometimes, my bestie comes with me to Anthro and she kept passing this dress and saying: "That would look phenomenal on you, you should try that on." I have been so afraid to try this dress on until yesterday. I was afraid I would really like it and not be able to resist it, even at full price.

Well, I'm poor now, because I took this little beauty with me. It is comfortable and I love that the strapless part doesn't feel like it's going to fall down. My favorite part of course is the full skirt! How beautiful is it!?!

The Bottom Line: I love this! Fits TTS (Maybe a smidge large). The top is sheer-ish, so you should wear a nude (or black if you're me) undergarment underneath. Very light and fluffy feeling. Expensive, but you could wait for a sale and get one.

And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Falling Back in Love with Anthropologie

I am not the only one to admit being slightly underwhelmed with my favorite store's offerings the past few months. Frankly, since November's Catalog, there hasn't been much that really made me gasp when I first saw it. Until this morning. Oh, thank you, thank you Anthro for bringing back beautiful, stunning designs! Here's what I'm swooning over...

Lemon Liftoff Blouse $118
Oh. My. Girls From Savoy is making me weep with the cute shape of this yellow blouse. Look closely at the print and it's...CUTE OWLS. OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.

Cirque A-Line $148
Okay, yes there has been a hub-bub of buzz on this little dress since it came out, but HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE IT?! I passed on the Sing Sweetly Party Dress, but I may not be able to resist this little frock. I mean, it's got elephants for goodness sake. If I see this in the store today, it's coming home with me. No ifs, ands or buts.

Pansy Corset Trench $198
Um, it's a trench coat with pansies on it. Need I say more? This is my style all day long and would have be wishing silently for rainy, cool days.

Piped Sailor Skirt $118
Ahoy, cuteness!!! Can you see it? A petal collar blouse, black-patened high heeled Mary Janes?

Fanning Scallops Pullover $128
So pretty! AND, it comes in black. THANK YOU, Anthro for making a pretty piece in has definite concert black potential. May be needing this in both colors.

Is anyone else relieved that Anthro seems to be going back to it's roots of simple, whimsical, beautiful?
Monday, June 27, 2011

The Singer's Catharsis

Afternoon, Ladies! I am catching up on all the weekend blogging as I have been out of town all weekend. I sang a concert as part of Connecticut Early Music Festival and instead of making the two hour trek home after our Friday and Saturday rehearsals, I had the opportunity to experience my very first homestay. Professional musicians who travel for gigs, instead of being provided a hotel room, are provided a room in a home, courtesy of a volunteer associated with the organization who hires the performers. They can be a bit of a gamble if you do not know the family you are staying with, but I definitely won the lottery this time! I stayed with a wonderful lady in her beautiful Mystic, CT home and she could not have been a more gracious host. Rehearsals were intense (challenging music and only two days to get everything ready!), but the concert was AMAZING. The music was so beautiful (especially the Schütz Motets, but I'm a biased Schütz lover). I was so honored to be a part of such a wonderful, virtuosic performance. So many wonderful, talented and lovely musicians!

Being that it was the first time for me to do this and for me to meet many of these performers, I was thew new gal. I had been decidedly anxious as I am performing for the first time for strangers, fearful of their judgment. Until now, it didn't matter to me how many people who I respected told me I was a decent singer, I found my inner critic to be very intrusive. Sometimes, she would say to me; "Wow, man. You actually sound really great! You should relax and sing for x, y and z. You are gonna be okay after all!" and I would be completely high and feel great for a day (or more if I was lucky).

Other times, she would be very cruel and negative: "OMG, you suck! Why can't you improve your vocal technique? OMG, that tenor over there is whispering to that guy next to him and shaking his head!!! I'll bet he's saying, 'that girl sucks, how the hell did she get this gig?' They're going to fire me...OMG, I'm going to be so embarrassed when that happens!..." Etc...etc...

Saturday afternoon, after about 6 hours of rehearsal, we returned to the piece of music that made me extremely nervous. I had a solo that was very exposed and tricky for me to sing and I lost my nerve. The inner negative voice would not stop. My arms and hands trembled, my eyes filled with tears. I got through what I needed to go through and when I came out of my negative haze, the only person who seemed to care about it was me.  I suddenly had a disturbing revelation.

I was my own worst enemy and I was sabotaging my own success.

When rehearsal was over, I got into my car and burst into tears. I had been getting in my own way all these years. All these years. It was the reason I gave up singing after graduate school, it was the reason I am fearful at auditions and the reason I don't do well at them. Why did I think I was not worthy of the work I was hired for? Why did I think I was somehow beneath success? I cried for opportunities lost. I cried for energy wasted. I cried for my singer self, who had been a victim of my bully self. I cried for letting the inner critic call the shots.

It wasn't as if I hadn't been aware of this in some way. I had talked about it with a few people and over the past year, my performance at auditions had been getting progressively less successful. Over the past few months, I hadn't been able to figure out how to improve. I talked to a flutist friend about it and she said she went through a similar situation. She recommended a book to me, called Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner, a jazz pianist. I bought it last week, but hadn't cracked it open. Before I left for CT, something told me to grab it and take it with me. So, Saturday night after I had lost my cool, I cracked it open. It was like good ole Kenny was IN MY HEAD. All of the things I had been doing to myself, he had done to himself. I think one of the most important things he said right in the beginning is: Be Kind To Yourself.

So, I feel like I have turned a corner as a musician and as a person. The lesson here is not just for musicians, but for everyone. It's not easy to be confident if you have been berating yourself a whole life through, but confidence is what will help you succeed. Beating yourself up in any way is wasteful. Period. All of that time you spent telling yourself you sucked, you could have been practicing. You could have been making yourself better, strengthening yourself. It's about giving yourself a chance to succeed.
Anthro: Salty Seas Dress (2010), Limited Cardi, an AMAZING BOOK
I hope that this post will help at least one frustrated artist out there. It's about making a commitment to your own voice. If you're not willing to make that commitment, then how do you expect anyone else to? Music is a gift and making the most of the gift you've been given is essential. I hope I am able to succeed in overcoming my inner critic. I don't expect it to be a perfect journey and I don't expect it to happen overnight. But I will trust the wise Lao Tzu who said: Even the journey of 1000 miles must begin with a single step.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Channeling Betty Draper

Let me be perfectly clear: I have not seen ONE SECOND of Mad Men, ever. It's at the tippy top of my Netflix DVD Queue, so I will definitely check it out. However, I have NOT been living under a rock and I do love the styling on the show. Saturday night, my friend's birthday party fancy dinner. I decided it was time for the new dress to come out and I decided to go for a "look". The En Plein Air Dress is so retro, I thought my hair and makeup should be too.

Anthropologie En Plein Air Dress (Eva Franco 2011, sold out online, but still in stores!)
 I loved wearing this fun, bright, sweet dress and am glad I splurged on it. As a petite, I worried it was a touch long, but I actually think it's fine. The fit is really spot on and it's majorly comfortable. Me and Eva Franco? We're good now.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tiny Windows and Obsession in Art

There are sometimes when at night, I have trouble sleeping because I cannot stop thinking and thoughts and ideas are swirling and swirling around in my head. It's usually on nights like that, I slip on my iPod and turn on a Sports Junkies Podcast and listen to that instead of my brain.

I think the blessing and curse of being in a creative profession is that one can easily become obsessed with one's work and on some level, you need to be. Performing arts careers are not something I would recommend to someone to pursue unless you absolutely cannot do anything else and be happy. The stress of rejection, along with the simple fact that you will be needing to have some sort of other job (to pay your bills) and that your life will not be normal is not exactly glamorous. I'm lucky to have a good friend who understands the extreme highs and lows of life behind a music stand and we are there to support each other when times are good and when they seem their darkest and you feel like no one will hire you.

A few years ago, after I received (or rather, wrestled it away from the institution I was attending) my Master's Degree, I took up a day job in Arts Administration which was somewhat satisfying. I was still working around music and creativity. I didn't think I was talented enough to actually make a living from the field I just spent 7 years studying after high school. I didn't sing a note for anyone for a long time, until I was 2 years into my Pre-Med Program at Harvard Extension School where I was pretending to be someone who was good at math. I sang a song set for a friend's recital and at rehearsal, my best friend turned to me and said; "What are you doing? Why aren't you singing anymore? You're wasting it, man.". I appreciated her candor and I asked myself the same question. That one performance felt like a recovering addict's forbidden, sweet taste of their vice that crumbles them into helpless relapse. I figured I would give it a try while I was still young and if I wanted to be a doctor after I failed, it was always there.

Three years later, I can say I've come a long way, but lately I've become somewhat obsessed with my work. Obsessed with programming recitals, writing exercises for students, learning new music, etc. It's both frightening and delightful at the same time. I am currently programming a recital of all 20th and 21st Century Music (two living composers too!) and I feel alive with excitement and anticipation! I may not be the best soprano in town, but I love it hard. I know if you love music hard, it gives love back to you. A Labor of Love, indeed. Letting music back into my life was the best thing I have ever done.

The Tiny Windows Dress is a Dress I loved so much last summer, I bought two. Today felt like a pink day, being the perfect 70º day. I'm still wearing an ace bandage on my ankle as its still really swollen, puffy and painful. It's a little frustrating, but I'll try to be patient with my recovery. It's not stopping me from walking all over the city. I guess I just can't try kickboxing this month :)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! BEMF is so great this year! I am enjoying some beautiful performances this week!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Boston Early Music Festival, A Pair of Outfits and a Pair of Reviews

Good morning, ladies! Did everyone take advantage of the last days of the 25% off of sale merch at Anthro this weekend? I completely missed out. I ended up actually returning the Spectrum of the Garden Mini. I could NOT make it work in real life. My best friend and my husband both vetoed it, so I took it back. Some lucky lady can grab it now! I think I was too petite for it. Instead of taking a refund, I just took a credit, knowing I would actually spend it anyway.

It's Boston Early Music Festival right now, so all of my friends are really busy (I am sitting out this year due to my surgery, plus, I'll be performing at Connecticut Early Music Festival, so I'm not completely missing out on the fun!). I am attending a TON of concerts this week, so I'll be posting more outfits than usual :)

Here's what I wore to my composer friend's Faculty Recital this weekend. Sometimes, when I'm just hanging out with my friends, I don't always remember how talented they are. This man writes SUCH incredible, beautiful music! I'm so lucky to be good friends with such a great musician.

Dress: Anthropologie Pigment and Canvas Dress (2010) Cardi: Anthropologie Jemima's Shrunken Cardi (2008)
I was totally worried about the cherries on the cardi adding too much action to the whole outfit and I think I would have made a different choice about the cardi, but it's past! Again, you see a kitty in the picture. I can't seem to take a photo without them in the background. They are very social and they LOVE to just hang out.

Yesterday, I went to see a French Baroque Opera and then I stopped by Anthropologie to see what was going on. By golly, they had cleaned out their basement! I saw TONS of older items there (I'm super sad I didn't make it there during the weekend!). And I managed to snag a Terrace House Jacket in grey for $9.95!!! CRAZY! I took two dresses I've been lusting after into the dressing room:

Here's what I was wearing:

Anthro: Blooming Lattice Cardigan (2010), Fantastic Field Skirt (2011)

I can't believe I had to wear tights and boots in June. Ugh. Anyway, I had been drooling over the Dutch Yellow Shift (Maeve, $138) and the Artist's Rendering Dress (Odille, $188).

Disappointing. The fabric is a silk-cotton blend which is AMAZING. It feels soft and is very nice to the touch. Maybe the petite size would be better, but I could not find love with this dress. The colors wash me out, the whole thing is just wrong. Ah, well.

UM...I'm in love. This is soooooo comfy! I was worried the print would overwhelm me, but it's beautifully subtle. It makes up for the ill-fitting Violet Gloaming Dress of last year. I am a little bit sad about the lack of the black sash that was in the original pictures of the dress (what happened, Anthro?), but it's just SOOOOOO beautiful on. It was a little bit of a pain in the butt to get on (it's an over-the-head kind of thing), but once it was on, I was drooling. I may have to splurge full-price on it, as I'd like to try the petite version. Fit is TTS. GORGEOUS. Price point is a little high, but I may splurge.

So there you have it!
Thursday, June 9, 2011

High Prairies & Plains

Good Afternoon, ladies! I have officially been given the go-ahead to resume normal activities within my pain tolerance after my screw removal surgery! I'm still limpy and painful and the surgeon told me today that the fourth screw (which I didn't get to take home) was VERY DIFFICULT to remove as there was bone growing around it! So, he says I'll probably feel beat up for another week or so. But today I drove myself to my appointment and got dressed up for the first time, so I'm feeling like I'm on the mend. It still takes me a little bit to get going, but I'm able to walk somewhat close to normally, although the swelling is still an issue. So, I'm pleased to have all that stuff behind me! Thanks to everyone who wished me well during this time :)

It's like going to be a high of 101º today, so I grabbed the one dress that really reminded me of summer, which was the Plains and Prairies Dress. It isn't normally a dress I'd be attracted to, but it just makes me think of summer picnics and walks in the park. I threw the Tepore Cardigan and the High Prairie Belt on to pull it all together for a doctor's office visit. I really like the look of the two pieces together!

Dress: Anthro Plains and Prairies Dress (2010), Cardigan: Anthro Tepore Cardigan (sold out online, still in stores), Belt: Anthro High Prairie Belt (2010)

Screwless!! YEAH!
So, we're roasting on the East Coast right now. Our cozy little condo is nice and cool so far! The cats are enjoying having me home but I hope to get back to work soon. I have a couple of gigs coming up, so I have to get back crackin'! I'm also sitting out this Anthro Sale even though it's 25% off all clothing too. There is NOTHING I want, except for the Verdant Slipdress and we know that puppy will NEVER go on sale. I'll have to save up for it. Otherwise, I've been mostly "meh" to the latest Anthro offerings. Anyone else feel the same way?

What happened to the Sugar and Cream Dresses? And the On-A-Wing Blouses or the Raccoon Rumpus Blouses?! I think the Sailboat Skirt is cute, but I miss the Anthro whimsy!
Saturday, June 4, 2011

Getting Un-Screwed, plus some backlogged Outfits

Good Afternoon, Ladies! It's Kay here, coming to you LIVE from my couch! Well, yesterday was the day. NO ONE likes to have surgery, do they!? I was SUPER nervous. The last time I had surgery was to put the screws IN and I was in so much pain and wacked out from all the pain meds, I was in a daze and don't remember much about the experience. This time, I walked in perfectly okay (okay, actually I was totally sore, but I was still together!) and walked out on crutches! First off, getting an IV in your hand TOTALLY SUCKS. Never mind the needle stick, which is nothing. Having the thing IN YOUR HAND is so painful and the saline solution they put in there makes you cold.

I had to change into oh-so-attractive hospital clothes (you in the back). Five different nurses talked to me and did stuff to me before I went in. I talked to the nurse anesthetist who I begged NOT to intubate me or to be careful. I was so worried about the vocal folds, but luckily, they didn't need to fully intubate me, so there was no worry of vocal damage, which was my main concern going in.

They walked me back to the Operating Room, which TOTALLY reminded me of that 1947 Alien Autopsy Video. It was all bright in there, machines everywhere, big clock. It totally made me feel like I was on TV or in a movie or something. They strapped me down to the Operating Table and I was like: "Have there been many collisions in this thing? Does it go faster than 60?" They laughed and put the gas in my face. As I felt myself falling asleep I told them Goodnight and then I woke up in the recovery room, shivering like the dickens.  BUT, I wasn't in that much pain. My husband and my best friend came in and we chatted. The nurse handed me a vicodin tablet, but I knew that wasn't going to go well. I took it anyway. BAD. I don't understand how people can get hooked on that stuff, it makes me feel terrible! The nurse insisted that I take it for 24 hours minimum, but I really can't tolerate it and have done well, despite it (Motrin is better!). I can actually walk without the crutches, but my instructions are to take it easy for 72 hours, so that's what I am reluctantly doing. The good news is, I think I'll be back in action sooner rather than later. I don't know what happened to the fourth screw since I didn't get a chance to talk to my surgeon after, but here's what I came home with:

They are super shiny!!!! I might make a killer piece of jewelry out of them! I like to have them out of my leg. They did a good job holding me together when I was broken, but I'm all healed and they have to go!

Anyway, here's my outfit backlog!

Kissing Friday Dress!

Anthropologie Daring Dart Blouse, Anthropologie Lost Time Skirt
The Lost Time Skirt is so awesome and it felt perfect with the Daring Dart Blouse from last summer.

Anthropologie Nostalgic Asterisks Dress
 I was sooooo pleased when this lovely little frock went on sale. I love a red dress. I wore this to a cookout Memorial Day and it was a total hit. Lots of compliments on this pretty.

Anyhow, I probably won't be posting outfits until I have recovered which I'm hoping is a tenth of the time I spent recovering last time. I'll be keeping up with all of your blogs while I'm off my feet, so post some pretty outfits, okay? :)