Something Old, Something Blue

My parents have a storage unit to hold our "we-have-no-place-for-it-but-can't-bear-to-get-rid-of-it" stuff. After going to the Spring Fling in the City vintage event, I was inspired to visit that unit, hoping to find a treasure trove of retro clothes and toys. My dad and I braved the chilly "spring" weather and headed to U-Haul. (My mom stayed behind to watch Ruby, but was secretly happy to have a viable excuse to avoid going with us.) There's something exciting about opening a box and having no idea what will be in it. Visions of my stylish-even-then 80s clothes and interesting antique items danced through my head.

As I opened the first box, I found. . .my sister's college text books? Um, no. Next box: my high school uniform? Um, definitely no. We sifted through musty furniture, linens that should have been donated years ago, and more glassware than I ever knew we owned. I was tickled to unearth the dolls I'd saved years ago for my future child. (A few cans of Febreeze and they'll be ready to party with Ruby!) Finally, I found it: a container marked "NOSTALGIA." Inside was my grandmother's chiffon party dress, my denim jacket adorned with a Minnie Mouse patch, and crazily patterned dance leotards. My dad smiled at discovering his carefully-constructed collection of model cars. Buried deep in the bin was a piece I didn't expect to find: a lone blouse that I think belonged to my great-grandmother. The puffed sleeves, pale blue color, and delicate print are so gorgeous that I couldn't wait to style it. She's up in Heaven, probably watching Unsolved Mysteries reruns, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind my borrowing it. :)

Have you ever found an unexpected item that belonged to a late family member? Doesn't it feel amazing?

Dress: Target (from Goodwill); Earrings: Rung Boutique; Boots: Steve Madden; Clutch: Vintage; Blouse & Necklace: Family heirlooms

Cortona at Forest Park: Living Spaces for Fashionistas

For the record, I love my house. However, the architects definitely did not have a fashion-obsessed resident in mind. I mean, how am I supposed to fit all of my clothes, shoes, and purses into a shared closet that's the size of a. . .closet? Right now, my stuff is dispersed among 3 closets and a mega-wide dresser. Not sure what I'll do when Ruby's wardrobe expands beyond onesies and teensie pants. . .

The lucky new tenants at Cortona at Forest Park will not have this problem. I attended a Happy Hour event to preview their living spaces and could easily see myself lounging by the pool or taking a class in the top-notch fitness center. The lobby resembled an upscale lounge, complete with pool table, shuffleboard game, and beer on-tap. Chefs will be whipping up a storm in each unit's gourmet kitchen. But, my favorite part of the tour was dreaming about how I could make use of the enormous closets. I could actually organize my clothes and have a shoe rack in one place. Hmmm. . . I'm not planning to move anytime soon, but a girl can dream, right? Here are some pics:
The apartments had a nice mix of carpet and hardwood flooring.
Top: Forever 21; Skirt: H&M; Shoes: DSW; Purse: Macy's
St. Louis Blogger Babes: Yasmin of Bangles & Bungalows, Rachael of Style Every Day, Brittany of Love.Style.Transform., Marisa of Vogue Rhythm, Ashley, me, and Rachel of The Daily Wild
Want to see the place up close, even just to picture yourself movin' on up? Cortona at Forest Park is hosting their Grand Opening at the annual ALIVE Magazine Hot List Party on 5/31/14. The party is going to be a blast with food tastings (yum) and creatively-flavored drinks from Pinnacle Vodka. (Have you ever tried cookie dough-flavored vodka? I know.) I'm super-excited because two of my personal faves, Retro 101 and Rung Boutique made the list as some of St. Louis' hottest shopping destinations. Another cool store that I reviewed last year, Artemis Shop, also received a nod! See the full list of winners right here. I was selected as a Hot List Blogger Host and will be giving away 2 general admission tickets to the party on Facebook. Hope to see you local stylistas there! :)

Spring Fling in the City

I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday (or any day, for that matter) than being surrounded by vintage items, art, tasty food, and lively music. So when I heard about the 2nd annual Spring Fling in the City hosted by Parsimonia, I became very giddy. Part vintage flea-market, part pop-up shops, over 50 local vendors came to share their wares. I rounded up my sister and gleefully headed down to an area of St. Louis I've inexplicably never visited: the gorgeously-restored Crown Square. The quaint, cute street is home to the famous Crown Candy Kitchen. (I didn't get any sweet treats since the line to get in was down the block, but it's on my to-do list.)

Here's my new-to-me loot:
Is that sweatshirt for Ruby not the cutest? I'm super-excited about my new clutch from Shimmy Shack Style, "pixie boots," and new journal!
I also snagged this awesomely romantic card for the hubby from local blogger Creature Type. You can buy it here. :)
Of course, I wanted to dress for the occasion, so I donned my $2 clearance special from Rung Boutique. Yes, $2. The clogs were $6 clearance specials from Tar-jay. The dress created quite a sensation at the event! What's the best vintage item you've ever found?
My new friends.
P.S.-Check out some of the other vendors that I visited (their stuff rocks!):
Amy & Angie Vintage
My Vintage Varia
1933 Designs
Scarlett & Maria
The Iris and the Bee
Verdura Botanica

Tuxedo Shoes

I have discovered, quite possibly, the most debonair shoes ever. They're called "Looking Sharp," and the name is spot on. Tuxedo detail, pink lining, and glitter? I'm in love! Here are 2 ways I would wear these shoes:

Tuxedo Shoes by carmen-boeser on

You can snag a pair of these and other cutting-edge shoes at Vogue Footwear. And, just for you lovely readers, use the code RZ15 for 15% off your purchase! How would you wear tuxedo-clad flats?

DIY: I'm A Total Tulle Skirt

A ballerina-esque vibe and over-the-top girliness make tulle skirts simply irresistible. Tulle skirts are very popular and easily bought online. But where's the fun in that? I decided that I would make my own and debut it at St. Louis Fashion Week. I would characterize myself as an "advanced beginner" with regards to garment construction. Luckily, tulle is a very forgiving fabric. (Translation: minor mistakes will not be visible to anyone but you.)

Here are my behind-the-seams tips on how to make your own tulle skirt, no pattern needed. A basic knowledge of sewing is helpful, so if this seems too intimidating, skip to the end of this post for a no-sew version. I combined my trial-and-error techniques with the tips from this video by ModaMob and instructions from this talented blogger. Despite what the video says, give yourself way more than 20 minutes to do this! LOL I did it over 2 days, but I made a few mistakes along the way. Hey, that's how you learn, right? (And, little Ruby was a bit too excited about her mom's latest project to observe quietly.) You may be able to knock this out in a couple of hours!

1. Gather the materials: at least 6 yards of tulle, 1 yard of elastic that's at least 1'' thick (1.5" or 2" is probably best), yarn in a similar color to the tulle, 1 yard of chiffon or a similar fabric for lining, sewing machine, tape measure, lots and lots of straight pins

2. Decide how long you want the skirt to be. I wanted mine to be a midi-skirt, which ended up being about 23". The tulle I got was already folded, which made it the perfect length.

3. Measure your waist. Cut the elastic so that it fits comfortably around your waist and add about an inch for wiggle/seam allowance room. Don't pull the elastic as tight as it will go - just keep it easy.

4. Here's where it gets a little tricky, but stay with me. Set your sewing machine to the widest straight stitch setting. Slowly gather the tulle and sew it. I stopped every few seconds to bunch it up more. The video does  great job of showing what the tulle should look like. Don't backstitch at either end. The tulle is not attached to anything at this point.

5. Attach the tulle to the elastic. The tulle you just stitched is much wider than the elastic, so you'll be bunching it up even more to get it to fit to the elastic. Bunch it up as evenly as possible and pin it to the elastic. You may end up not needing all the tulle, but I used all 6 gathered yards. Sew it onto the elastic using a ZIG-ZAG stitch. This is critical. If you don't use a zig-zag stitch, you won't be able to pull the skirt over your hips.

5.5 Sew the elastic together using a zig-zag stitch. This is your final step if you don't want a lining, but keep reading if you do!

For the lining:
6. Perhaps because of the color, my skirt was extremely sheer. The lining that I'd hoped to skip became a necessity. I couldn't find any easy or quick instructions on how to make a lining, so this is just what I did. (I'm sure there are better ways to do this - feel free to offer suggestions. You can also just wear a slip, but mine didn't look cute with the skirt).
-Cut the fabric to the length you want it to be, a couple of inches shorter than the tulle skirt.
-Hem the bottom of the lining (not a step I'd recommend skipping) by folding up the bottom about .5 inches and stitching it with a straight stitch.
-Form a big tube of fabric by sewing the ends together. Basically, this looks like a huge version of a regular skirt. You want to make sure that the tube is much wider than your actual waist.
-Pin the fabric tube/lining to the inside of the tulle skirt (right side of lining to wrong side of tulle). You'll be gathering and bunching the lining to make it fit.
-Sew the lining using a ZIG-ZAG stitch again to the skirt. This is kinda cumbersome, so take it slow.

7. Try on the skirt! Cut the bottom of the skirt to the desired length. No need to actually hem the tulle part.

Final notes - I wanted a dramatic, poofy skirt. You can always use less tulle if you want a sleeker look. I ended up making a second, skeleton skirt with 2 yards of tulle I'd bought awhile ago and putting that under the skirt with the lining. Doing that is absolutely not necessary, I was just feeling confident with one tulle skirt under my belt and wanted to see how it would look.

P.S. There is a way to make an adult tutu without sewing. (Whew!) I opted not to go that route since I wanted my skirt to look closer to the store-bought ones. But, if you don't have a sewing machine (I would NOT recommend sewing this by hand!) or don't have the patience, here is a great video on how to make a no-sew tulle skirt.

Top: c/o Shirt Kong; Vest: H&M; Clutch: Goodwill; Shoes: Ziezo; Socks: DSW

The skirt created a sensation! Fashion bloggers and partygoers alike were impressed, and a few people even wanted me to make them one. The best part? My skirt is far from perfect, but still looked amazing. Best of luck with your skirt - I'd love to hear how it goes!

P.S. If you're new to The Ruby Zipper, welcome! Don't forget to "like" the Facebook page for exclusive pics and fashion musings right here. :)

Florals for spring? Ground-breaking.

OK, by now you're probably sick of all my floral print outfits. Even I'm starting to think my garden closet is overflowing with flowers, but that didn't stop me from acquiring yet another floral dress. The vintage-diner appeal was too cute to pass up! I guess I'm taking the Jell-O approach to flower prints this spring: there's always room for more!
Dress: Rung Boutique; Shoes: Bakers; Belt: Thrifted; Eyewear; Versace

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say 'Banana'

I've been on the hunt for the perfect graphic tee and was tickled by this one from Rung Boutique. It's got just enough corniness for my taste. (Hey - corn, veggie, get it? Yes, I know my dorky side is showing, but work with me here. LOL) I paired it with a vintage midi-skirt and some hello-yellow slippers to dress it up a bit. Red shades from Skinnygirl Cocktails complete the look. I guess "sunnies" is now the cool term for sunglasses, but I still prefer the old-school "shades." What do you think?

Tee, earrings & vintage skirt: Rung Boutique; Shoes: Retro 101; Shades: c/o Skinnygirl Cocktails
If it weren't for the tripod shadow, I think this would be the money shot.
So, since I'm wearing this shirt, does that count as a "serving"? Just sayin'.

Feel Good, Ink

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.

Langston Hughes' words are forever etched into my brain, thanks to my grandmother's insistence that my sister and I memorize "Dreams." At 6 years old, I had more dreams than my little arms could hold! I penned and illustrated my first book as soon as I could hold a crayon. I crafted cute advertising slogans and artwork on our computer, preparing for my glamorous career as the head of my own ad agency, Creative Minds At Work. I drew sketches of fashion-forward gals in my school notebooks. I even dreamed of being "discovered" on the street to become a famous actress in Hollywood. My dreams had just enough air to flit around the sky, but not enough to soar. Over time, I loosened my grasp so I could lift up more practical goals.

I completed a rigorous graduate program and got firmly settled into a field. It was plush and promising at first. Yet, as the years went by, my energy drained. The pretty flowers that kept me in the field wilted. I felt frozen. Sad. Stuck. Then, I remembered the poem. I remembered imaginative, optimistic girl who couldn't wait to get up in the mornings and create something, whether that was a dance routine with my sister or a flip-book of tops and pants to mix-and-match outfits. I gathered my courage, re-enrolled in school, and began to dream again. Fashion has always been with me, soaring, even when other parts of my life were stagnant. Now that I'm pursuing it professionally, my spirit is soaring again. There are days where I have to chop down the ugly weeds that grow when I knock on doors that don't seem to hear me. I get impatient and discouraged when bills send me back to my old field to pluck a few flowers. But, nothing can dampen the joy I feel when styling an outfit, sewing a garment, or writing a creative piece! I will never let of my fashion dreams - or any dreams - ever again. :)

My new ink will see to that!
I went to All Star Tattoo and had a fantastic experience with my artist, Ed. He was friendly, utilized my ideas, and set me at ease, even though I couldn't watch the actual inking. I would definitely go back!
What about you - do you have any dreams you've been too scared to pursue? What keeps you going? Please share!

A Little Birdie Told Me. . .

One of the quickest and most budget-friendly ways to spice up an outfit is to add a statement necklace. My new parrot necklace is quite the conversation-starter, pun intended. It spoke to me at a thrift store: "Carmen wants a necklace! Carmen wants a necklace!" Since it was clearly psychic (and under $5), I had to buy it. With the parrot in tow, my tribal-print dress packs a one-two punch. 

Here's a joke for you (couldn't resist):
What do you get when you cross a parrot with a woodpecker? A bird that talks in Morse code! 
Hee hee! Find more corny jokes like that here.
Dress: H&M; Necklace & Watch: Saver's Thrift Stores; Boots: Rampage; Earrings: Rung Boutique; Shades: Claire's

Come back, little duckies! I have a surprise for you. . .

P.S. Are you on Facebook? Me too! Let's be friends - you can find the FB page here so you'll never miss a post! :)