Wednesday, 31 July 2013

60s Retro dress in red weave Print

I absolutely love retro style. The 40s, 50s and 60s provide some of my favourite style inspirations. This will be the first time I've used a sewing pattern since I picked up this hobby anew. This particular pattern is for a Butterick Retro '60s dress with a fitted bodice, circle-cut flared skirt, high front neckline, low back and side zipper (I opted out of the decorative bows). The cloth is afro-print with a repetitive geometric weave pattern in red, yellow and brown. I thought it was just the sort of repetitive print pattern that is best shown off in a full skirt. Today, I tried to recreate a somewhat authentic '60s look.

Butterick 5748. '60s Retro pattern
 '60s full-circle flared dress in African print fabric.

Accessories list:
Gold and diamond flower motif earrings (Custom made).
Multi-strand pearl necklace and bracelet with gold clasps (Swarovski).
Gold bracelet with heart charm (Juicy Couture).
Nude, patent leather, slim belt with a gold buckle clip (Primark).
Nude faux leather trapeze satchel (River Island).
Rounded toe, off-white, high-heeled, patent leather pumps (Gomax).

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Spotted in Kumba: Kingfisher

This part of the country used to be quite densely forested, but due to the growth of our urban settlement in and around Kumba, it's not exactly easy to spot wild animals anymore. I'm guessing that the bird population has probably dwindled immensely as a lot of forested land has been cleared to make way for urban living. I'm guessing because I can not really tell from the ruckus when the chirping sing song of birds, hooting owls and the crowing of neighborhood cockerels begins promptly at 3 am every morning!

The only wild animals one is bound to spot on any given day around these parts are birds. There are still a large variety in and around Kumba despite the deforestation. I don't know a great deal about birds but I do enjoy watching them when there is nothing more exciting to do. I have spotted several different types of birds with beautiful plumage. Interestingly I always see the most beautiful birds when I'm walking around the yard without my camera.

Fortunately, I managed to get a few shots of a beautiful blue bird with an orange beak. When I spotted it, I had just walked through the yard headed for a quiet stroll to nowhere really! It had just stopped raining.  I ran all the way home, through wet grass and muddy puddles, to grab my camera. I raced back, fingers crossed, hoping the bird would still be within sight. It was sitting in an orange tree in the yard. It's bright colouring made it easy to spot a-midst dark green foliage. 

Photographing birds really challenges my ability to take pictures of objects at great distances, without a tripod. That challenge makes bird-watching a whole lot more exciting than it sounds! Though I have hardly any knowledge of how to group them, I can easily recognize certain birds on sight, such as this Kingfisher. There are twelve varieties found in Cameroon. After searching the description of this bird, I found that it closely matches the Blue-breasted Kingfishers, which are supposed to be quite common in the area.

Blue-breasted kingfisher


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Look: Annie Hall

The Woody Allan romantic comedy movie, Annie Hall has provided great entertainment as well as style inspiration for decades. The central character's (Annie Hall played by Diane Keaton) style is unusually androgynous and quite "out there" not only for 1977, but also for present day. I remember watching the movie for the second time last year, and being thoroughly amused by the quick wit in the dialogue, the quirky characters, the funny plot, and most especially, being wowed by the costume. I remember that I kept saying, "I have that", "I want that", and "I would totally wear that" a few times out loud, much to the chagrin of my company!

I have recreated this look a couple of times in different ways. My favourites are with Wide-legged denim, khaki, linen, nautical shorts, and the cotton seersucker trousers in this post. Flats, low-heeled or high-heeled brogues. Black or navy pinstripe vest. White shirt or White elbow-length sleeve v-neck t-shirt. I think my bust-line makes a knotted tie look quite over-the-top, but I think it can look great on some women! I prefer jewelry around my neck. Here's a collage of some key items in the look.

Here is how I wore it today: Wide-legged seersucker pants, GAP. White v-neck collarless shirt, Forever21, Black linen vest, Banana Republic. Black/white flat brogues, F-Troupe. Black satin ribbon (as belt).

I admire women who's style sense I consider somewhat out of the ordinary. The casual androgynous look is for women who have a confident, non-conforming, free-spirited self-image. I find that men's wear is very comfortable and the incongruity of masculine-cut clothes on the feminine form is quite sensual and flattering. The Annie Hall is a later adaptation of an earlier classic style movement which was launched in the 40s. It is even more relevant in our fashion generation thanks to a wide variety of men's wear items that have been adapted into the female wardrobe. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sewing project: Print wrap top

I love blues and greens. This print was an instant "yes" for my friend Sosh and I when we went fabric shopping a few months ago. I had been looking it over, torn between making a skirt or a mini shift dress. I wanted a bit of a challenge so I set out to make a shift dress without a pattern.

I like the more abstract Afro print fabrics. Looks like a meandering river with felled trees on it's mud banks!

I figured it would be an easy enough challenge, except for one important detail; for the life of me, I can not attach sleeves properly. Tried numerous times with disastrous results. To solve the problem of crooked sleeves, I decided to go with this sort of capped sleeve, by cutting a wider curved shoulder and attaching sailor cuffs. I don't think they're actually called that... making this stuff up as I go!

The cut ended up all wrong and I was stuck staring at the ruined cloth every morning for almost a week, trying to figure out how to salvage this beautiful fabric. Finally, I got the idea to just change the cut and make a top instead. I cut a plunging V out of the front, kept the sleeves, cut off the bottom length, and attached two overlapping flaps in the front, to which I also attached two long belts (one slightly longer than the other). After a lot of nips and tucks, I ended up with a pretty decent wrap top.

Sailor cuff sleeve.

Aqua Afro print wrap top.

Made a hole through side seam to let one of the belts through.

Dark blue skinny jeans, Zara Trafaluc (curtesy, D). Shoes, Alberto Guardiani (curtesy, Mom). 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sewing project: Geometric print mini

A couple of weeks ago I was given a little piece of print fabric when my mom could not find the rest of the cloth, so the scarf would not be of much us to her, since she had nothing to match it with. The minute I saw it, I thought the geometric print was brilliant. I imagined it would be enough for a trapeze blouse with spaghetti straps. A blouse in this print would look great with dark jeans. That was the plan for this itsy bit of fabric until the day I decided to cut it, then I realized that the print is too bold and the white horizontal lines would not work very well for a trapeze top. The best way to show off the print would be to make a skirt. A pencil skirt would be long enough to show repetition in the print but then there would be these three oddly placed horizontal lines. Not very sleek for a pencil skirt, but a mini would work perfectly. Finding a centre in the print was the easy part. I haven't quite mastered the right way to cut a straight skirt in non-stretchy cotton fabric, so I had to adjust and readjust the cut until I got it to fit properly. I had to lower the hem in the back and take in the middle seam to prevent the back from hanging in that awful school-girlish way! The skirt is not very tightly fitted so I didn't need to put in kick slit in the back. I was even left with some fabric for a matching scarf, and this is how I turned it all into an outfit. Enjoy!


I did eyeshadow. Thrilled it turned out this way!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Positive projection, 2nd year natural hair anniversary and other musings

I'm back from a rather long break. My laptop has been acting up for some months now. Tried to diagnose the problem, bought a new battery and charger cable... even ordered parts that got lost in the post. Then last week, I swapped charger cables with my dad's PC (same brand but not really recommended) and behold, my laptop is working again. I'm too much of a realist so I'm not exactly celebrating yet. Just really glad I can get on the internet again.

Overall I am well. Still haven't adjusted to the high carb diet which is the norm here, but thanks to it I've managed to put on a bit of weight in what some people call the "right" places. An uncle actually said my bride-price now deserves a top-up! This brings me to the point of my post. How does one address external pressure on how one looks or chooses to project one's self? For example, I currently live in a tropical country. It is sweltering on most days. I like to wear shorts and can/will wear them everyday for the ease of it. Now, if I decide to leave home in them I have to brace myself for other people's refusal to shrug off their discomfort and carry on minding their own business. When have I ever bothered anyone wearing Kaba or Agbada in 30 degree heat?!

Looking at it from another angle, I have always admired glamourous red lips created with lipstick. I had previously thought I couldn't/shouldn't wear red lipstick because my lips are too full and/or I just looked too made up. Along with other negative impressions I used to have about myself, I missed out on having fun with this very colourful, fun-filled way to express my self image... until recently, I used to buy a bright lipstick, take it home, try it on, keep it in the make-up drawer for months and then give it away. When I used to date, I would wear next to no make-up. In my mind I thought I wanted whomever I was dating to get to know the real me. I later found that people get used to one thing and sulkily resist any changes thereafter!

 I have actually exhibited the same resistance towards a dear lovely friend who loves the glam look. This woman is stunning without makeup on most days. I was very disappointed, and as outspoken as I am, I told her how disappointed I was when she bought a set of makeup brushes and learned how to put on eye-shadow and blush! Lucky for her (and for me... and for our friendship), she's got thicker skin than most people I know. She just carried on having fun with her brushes and colours and her glam look has actually grown on me. Now, when I get some disapproval because I'm wearing shorts or a mini at my age, that I sometimes wear high heels, that I choose to wear my hair natural, or how odd bright red lipstick looks on my full lips and against my dark skin, I am learning to just laugh and say "but I like it" like my friend, without feeling like crying because I'm holding myself back from chewing and spitting the person out!

It is annoying when others attempt to project onto us. I for one am guilty in my own right, haven successfully impressed upon others in one way or another. Now I don't know if I ever had the right to attempt to influence anyone to change their self-image in the first place. It appears to be normal community behaviour and nothing to get too worked up over. Unless of course it rubs you the wrong way and you feel the need to stand up for yourself, then by all means do you!

Here's to me having fun in Ruby Woo lipstick from MAC. It has been almost two years since I decided to start wearing my mane naturally. For me it's not just a hairstyle that I love wearing now, it's a lifestyle that I enjoy. This is all of me... no frills, save a little red lipstick... :-)

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