What to Wear #26: An Evening at the Hamburg Opera

Dressing up is fun, and going to the opera theater here makes me extra excited about it. I can completely relate to this blog post on Oriana’s Notes about her own choice of outfit for going to the Opera Garnier in Paris. There’s just something undeniably elegant and pleasant about walking down the Staatsoper floors mercifully suitable for higher heels in attire that makes you feel festive, before you go on to enjoy the performance. Incidentally, it’s not an opera, it’s Duse performed by the Hamburg Ballet.

One of my clearest memories related to style moments and my mother is seeing her seated with a blouse in her lap, nail scissors in hand, as she carefully removed the (unnecessary) shoulder pads sewn on inside. She said they weren’t comfortable for her, and as I grew up, I quickly discovered that I shared the feeling. The 80s gave us a lot, and while I have mentioned my leg-warmers more than once in this blog, I’m sorry, but shoulder pads are simply not for me.

Which is why I found myself repeating a tiny slice of family history, as I took out the shimmering pale-gold (I’m guessing) crushed velvet blazer I’d been wanting to wear for a while and thoughtfully looked at the inside. The shoulder pads were there, alright, but they were not hanging down from the inside of the shoulder. No, they were cunningly sewn in between the velvet and the lining. But I come from a long line of women resourceful in getting rid of what they don’t need. As I carefully open up the stitching with nail scissors so that the hole is wide enough to pull the pad through, and then in turn work on the next bit of stitching, I find myself remembering key points on my extensive journey to self-knowledge.

I can’t sew and I was never keen to learn. As I continue to rip out the shoulder pads, a vivid memory of my sewing classes in middle school surfaces. No, I’m not from the 19th century. We really did have sewing class, girls only. When we would bring up the results of our work on what looked like antique sewing machines, if the teacher didn’t like what she saw, she tore the stitches out with her teeth. I do not remember being afraid, just being filled with a sense of, albeit horrified, amusement. What if she accidentally swallowed some thread? Nevertheless, there are three things I can do well with a needle and thread, and which I also enjoy: sewing on buttons, sequins and stitching up holes. I’m covered.

The blazer’s minor makeover is done. A long sleeveless chocolate-brown tank top goes underneath, black leggings and black lace-up high heels that I can walk in very well. This is also a fitting occasion to take the black glittery envelope clutch. The lipgloss choice is a fancy darker berry shade that I get out on special occasions.

He’s there

The Phantom of the opera

 

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What to Wear #25

Watch and you’ll see

Someday I’ll be

Part of your world

Do I have to explain myself? No, surely not.

Oh, Ariel, I get it. (Sometimes) I also want to be where the people are, and even though I’m actually part of the world you wanted to be in, and then later joined, I wouldn’t mind a glimpse of the one you used to inhabit, and it might be possible to do that today on a very small level…only someone who grew up watching copious amounts of Disney animation would have written such a paragraph.

I am so excited about today’s outfit. The Little Mermaid is, hands down, my favourite (animated) Disney film. Yes, I know I’ve expressed and most likely will express a ton more opinions about the recent live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, and it subsequently ignited fresh thoughts about the animated original – I have a big heart. There is room for everyone.

But the story of the mermaid is very dear to me and sharing this information feels very personal.

The online shop where I found my Marauder’s Map dress on sale turned out to have a whole section with merchandise themed around The Little Mermaid. As mentioned in this blog before, I sometimes find myself returning to what I constantly wore as a child, but adjusted for adults, and able to pay for it on my own.

In this case the find was a loosely fitted sleeveless empire-waist black dress with subtle inserts of blue spreading through the black, and a print of Ariel sitting on her rock and gazing (most likely dreamily or wistfully) at the night sky. Dark-red leggings and a dark-blue denim shirt surf the wave, as well as a gold (still suitable for daytime) cocktail ring with a green-blue-more-turquoise stone and gold stud earrings with starfish-shaped light-blue flowers.

I don’t know when

I don’t know how

But I know something’s starting right now

 

What to Wear #24

I enjoyed wearing that long denim shirt so much yesterday (actually, I always do), that I’m not feeling like straying too far from that outfit idea today. But as I have written before, one of my personal style commandments is that thou shalt not wear the same pattern two days in a row, much less the same top! Yes, I do change my outfit every day. As my dear grandmother used to say, the best way to preserve an item of clothing is to wear it.

Another top I discovered in Kapp Ahl during my trip to Oslo last year floats out of my closet and off the hanger. A long blouse or button-down shirt that almost reaches my knees, it is indeed satisfyingly long. With a creamy-white-slightly-beige background covered in a delicate paisley pattern in tangerine, red, blush pink, brown and a bit of black, it feels suitable to both autumn and spring. The colors in the pattern are interesting to work with.

I’m feeling like my slightly-olive-green leggings will work with this, but to avoid looking like Peter Pan (even though it’s so cool how he can just fly at will) and also because the blouse-shirt-top is slightly transparent, I put on a nude-colored long sleeveless tank top first. Now we’ve got it! “He can fly!” – “He can fly!” – “He flew.”

Dangly goldstone earrings pick up nicely on both the brown and the blush pink on the top, and the brown Chelsea boots will work with the whole ensemble.

 

What to Wear #23

While rummaging in the leggings box yesterday, I saw another pair I wanted to wear immediately. They had a black background and either slightly splotchy or slightly distorted flowers printed on it. I held them in my hands and finally knew what the pattern reminded me of, though it wasn’t necessarily in the same style. I was taken back to a summer back home, reading The Ghost of Tillie Jean Cassaway by Ellen Harvey Showell and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. The book was a significant contribution to my fascination with ghost stories and Gammell’s illustrations were both beautiful and scary, perfectly visualizing the chilling undertone of the book and the somehow not hopeless sadness of the unfolding story.

Who says clothes are boring.

I tear myself away from memory lane (until I come back later) and continue. The leggings are a bit on the nylon side, so I’d appreciate more coverage on top. My beloved long denim I-think-slightly-billowing-watch-me-go button-down from Kapp Ahl in Oslo once again proves to be a trusty companion, as does a light-grey sleeveless tank top, because, again, who wants drafts to make their way around your limbs. One eye-catching accessory feels like enough, so I go for the leaf-branch-shaped silver ring and the little sparkling studs. One slick of fuchsia lip crayon and I’m ready to go.

What to Wear #22

“I think you should go with red. It’s the color of confidence.” I’ve watched Legally Blonde so many times that this line from the scene when Elle is shopping with her friends for what she thinks will be a very special dress inevitably pops up in my head whenever I look at a red item of clothing. Especially since, as I mentioned before, I’m a cautious redhead when it comes to…red! Ha! See what I did there?

But red somehow finds its way in to my outfit choices every week, be it in the form of lipstick, accessories or a garment (that sounds so nice). This week I feel “…bold and daring.” Considering I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast five times since it came out, it’s no surprise that a quote from the (animated) film flew in here.

The long glowing long, loose-fit blouse (similar to the cut of the possibly pink one I wore a while ago) almost removes itself from my closet. Maybe it’s not a blouse, maybe long button-down shirt is the correct term? The color might actually border on scarlet, which in turn makes me think of the Russian word for this, alyj (алый, yeah, probably no one will be able to pronounce it properly until they hear it), and then a little-known outside of Russia, but enchanting gem of a novel by Alexander Grin called Scarlet Sails, then the Russian fairytale Scarlet Flower and the cartoon based on it. The story could actually be viewed as the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast. I just can’t let go!

Where was I? As also mentioned previously on this blog, my go-to choices of colors to combine with red are either black, grey or various shades of blue, which still remain my tried and tested staples. But due to feeling bold and daring, I’d like to (successfully) contrast my scarlet top with some patterned legwear. One rummage in the leggings box later and I find what I’m looking for: white background, yellow, black, light-blue and green-blue flowers. Rain and even hail have visited Hamburg in the last few days, but it is still spring, and with the aid of those trusty leg-warmers I’m feeling not only bold and daring, but powerful. “…power, power! Forgive me a cruel chuckle, mmm, power.” Disney’s Robin Hood is another frequently used one for quotes.

Gold drop (I think) earrings and a matching ring with stones picking up the green-blue of some of the flowers on the leggings round up the accessories, as well as the very comfortable brown Chelsea boots. Neutral lipgloss et voilà.

Beauty and the Beast: 5 Reasons Why I Loved Seeing It 5 Times

Minor spoiler alerts

…and enjoyed my visit to the movies every time as if it was the first. How does that work? It’s simply the mark of a very good film and excellent work from all those involved.

So what is it about this dazzling success of a live-action remake that’s got me enchanted?

  1. They kept the goosebump-inducing, heartstring-tugging, sweeping opening theme that takes us right in to the Beast’s castle and that “hidden heart of France”, and we never look back.

2. Casting Emma Watson as Belle was sheer genius, and she delivers in such a way that her Belle simultaneously takes the best from the original Disney story and becomes a fleshed-out, complete and winning heroine in this version. I cannot imagine any other actress in this role. The door of Belle and Maurice’s house opening on a morning in Villeneuve, as Belle steps out and launches in to Little Town was, for me, one of the many wonderful moments in the film. Oh yes, and there’s the fact of all that other brilliant casting – luminous Dan Stevens and all he gives to the Beast, Emma Thompson lovingly recreates Mrs. Potts, Kevin Kline conveys a father’s love with depth and dignity and Luke Evans brings all of Gaston’s brutal sociopathic tendencies to life.

3. All that bibliophilia, educated quoting  and reading of literary works while walking together on gorgeous castle grounds (or watching over a temperamental Beast as he convalesces), the joy that seems to light Belle up from inside when she first steps inside the castle’s mind-blowing library is indispensable in conveying one of the main messages in Beauty and the Beast – the transformative power of knowledge, stories and feeding the mind.

4. Belle’s face standing in front of an enchanted book as the Beast tells her, “Think of the one thing that you’ve always wanted. Now find it in your mind’s eye, and feel it in your heart…” shows in one look the burning longing and sadness that still exists within her, apart from wanting “adventure in the great wide somewhere”, the “one story Papa could never bring himself to tell.” In addition to disclosing a tragic secret and helping Belle move on in her life, the whole sequence was beautifully acted and significant in developing Belle and Beast’s trust in one another (after the magnitude of saving each other’s lives, of course). This part also containes another new musical bit sung by Emma Watson, and her voice perfectly carries both sadness and tenderness.

Easy to remember

Harder to move on

Knowing that the Paris of my childhood

Is gone

5. Well, it would be strange if I didn’t mention Tale as Old as Time here, wouldn’t it? No further words necessary.

Bittersweet and strange

Finding you can change

Learning you were wrong

What to Wear #21

‘Tis still chilly, even I have to admit it, despite my ever-present optimism and assuring other people that this is not Siberian cold. It was below zero in the morning, which means that some of my lighter items of clothing will have to wait. Fashion, as many other areas in life, also requires patience and perserverance.

OK, but not all is lost, let’s make some adjustments. No leggings – too chilly, and who wants a cold wind penetrating their leggings on the way to work. No airy tunics with plenty of opportunities for said cold wind to surround you with drafts. Blue jeans it is! And heeled brown ankle boots. But it’s spring, as mentioned many times before, so I’m hankering towards lighter tones. The nude-colored loose long-sleeved jersey top from H&M is looking at me right from my closet, and I add a white sleeveless shirt underneath for a bit of additional warmth.

I woke up thinking about a lovely pair of earrings I got in Harajuku during my trip to Tokyo last autumn. The place was teeming with activity and I popped in to one of the first shops I saw – it turned out to be filled to the brim with beautiful accessories. I felt like an elephant in a teashop and promptly caught one display with my backpack. Luckily nothing was broken and a helpful assistant rushed over to put everything back. The earrings are thin gold-colored hoop ones, with a stud and the end of the hoop not reaching all the way. The tip of the hoop is decorated with a small pearl and a tiny green-blue stone. The bottom middle is covered with three small flowers folded from bits of material in light olive-green, light green-blue and a darker green-blue. The earrings remind me of that exciting afternoon every time I look at them.

Hamburg was made for wearing scarves practically all the time, since the weather changes so much in one day, you never know when you might need one. A bright green-blue one picks up on the colors on the flowers on the earrings and livens up the quiet tone of my top. I’m warm where I need to be.