Dancing in parentheses as they are not strictly dancing shoes, but the long ribbons attached to them that so conveniently lend themselves to wrapping around the ankle and tying up a bow make me remember my childhood fantasies about becoming a ballerina.
Hey, I have Russian roots, and most of us guard a soft spot for ballet in our hearts. Also most of us harbour some kind of attachment or at least a reaction to the colour red. Add the fact of being a woman on top, and fizzle fizzle sparkle sparkle.
The picture insistently popping up in my mind’s eye is an illustration in a beautiful book of fairy tales from my childhood library. I can’t remember what exactly the story was about, but I know it involved a poor and good young woman, and a cunning dwarf or leprechaun. The young woman was wearing a shining pair of red (possibly) satin ballet-esque slippers laced up her ankles with gorgeous red ribbons. I have done a bit of research, and The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen is most definitely not the story from my childhood, as the terrifying plot would surely have stuck with me. So the story remains a mystery, but the shoes stayed. Ain’t that always the way?
The shoes are the strategically intended pop of colour in a slightly reserved outfit. Black-and-white rose or possibly peony patterned leggings are today’s choice of bottoms (yes), and since they are a little thinner, they are comfortable to wear in case the weather changes several times throughout the day. A long black tank top and loose navy blue jersey cardigan complete the look, along with pink lipgloss that catches what I think is a pinkish tone in the not 100 percent red shoes and two dainty long silver chains. These are among my favourite pendants and I’ve taken to wearing them together. The one with the Eiffel Tower has sentimental value, as during my first ever trip to Paris many years ago I bought a pair of earrings with Paris’ symbol, using my carefully saved pocket money. I joyfully wore them for years, until I lost one one evening when trying on a sweater. Moral: don’t wear long earrings when shopping. But I went to a jewelry-making store and they were very nice in helping me out, so I still have my keepsake.
One thing that stands out from today’s outfit choice is that I obviously don’t like ironing that much…but I keep hearing crinkled is the new smooth, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m not spending money on something I can achieve for free.
Yes, sometimes they are, but there are also many other colours. The ones accompanying my outfit today are white and grey, against a black background.
The way my outfit ideas take shape, aside from the influence of practical considerations like the weather or my schedule, is usually either triggered by entertainment consumed within the last weeks or the desire to wear one particular item, and then the rest pops up around it. In this case, the one particular item were the rose-and-generally-flower-patterned tights from Calzedonia, which I got on sale during a memorable winter break in Verona – another city that won my heart.
Roses do have a special meaning for me. When I was younger, my grandmother, who lived in another city, sent me letters. One of them stands out in my memory. Her eyesight was gradually failing, and as I pulled her letter out of the envelope, I could see that her handwriting was a little different. But the whole letter was written in green ink, and at the end of it was a small drawing with the caption, “These are the roses that grow on my balcony.” The flowerpot was also drawn in green, and on top of the stems poking out from it were bright red pops of colour. These flowers might not have been roses, but my grandmother could see them, and my grandfather, who has the greenest thumb in the whole family, lovingly tended to them year after year. I kept that letter, and ever since, without fail, whenever I see red roses, I think of my grandmother.
The cherry red finely pleated skirt compliments the femininity of the tights, while being individual enough itself. Since I have this pop of colour in the middle of the outfit, I opt for black on top – the short black cardigan I thought lost had simply slipped further back in my closet, and I pair it with a sleeveless black shirt. Velvety black ankle boots since I’m feeling slightly chic, a slender silver chain with a sparkly pendant, silver stud earrings and one of my favourite lipsticks rounds up the accessories for this suit of armour.
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.
The working week is drawing to a close! As I like to repeat to my colleagues, there’s a weekened every week. Something one can rely on. I’m a fan. State the obvious with a cheeky grin to get a laugh, harharhar. Actually, I don’t have a problem with Mondays either, but I mentioned this once and the room went quiet, so mute setting.
No meetings, just a relaxed café stop with the girls after work. Navy blue leggings, long dark-grey cardigan, my favourite black and white cotton scarf that I like to think looks a bit expressionist (add an edge to an otherwise casual outfit!), but maybe someone else saw it at Orsay on sale too. Silver hoop earrings from Claire’s and that fuchsia lipstick – done! Less than five minutes for assembling.
To be completely honest, I have never (“Never, ever, everrrrr”, take me back to 2012) had that “I have nothing to wear!” moment. Rather, “I want to wear everything now!” But I don’t think I should advertise that one either.