Friday File

Oh heavens guys. It’s cold here in the Windy City. People ask me almost daily if this was what Fargo was like. I tell them, sort of, but Fargo is based on car culture. Few people take the bus, and there certainly isn’t a subway or elevated train. And there is ample parking. So I was rarely outside for very long when I commuted to or from work during the winter. In Chicago I take the L daily and sometimes the bus. I have a lot longer of walks too. So sure, this feels similar in temperature (to be fair, Fargo is always colder), but I’m out in it a lot more in Chicago than I was in Fargo.

So if you are reading this from a chilly region, stay warm!

Here are the week’s links:

Since the Italian government is strapped for cash, they are holding votes via Facebook on which pieces of artwork to conserve. Is this brilliance or idiocy? Some are saying Italy is in the process of committing “cultural suicide.”

Excuse me while I book my trip to Orlando for this summer. Universal Orlando just announced an expansion to their Harry Potter-themed park.

Did you hear that Chanel’s spring 2014 haute couture show featured sneakers that took at least 30 hours to make? Every look featured a coordinating pair, even the bridal look! That’s quite the statement on the modern women, Mr. Lagerfeld.

The Tate Britain is running a GIF call for submissions. The museum is encouraging fans to create GIFs out of artwork and submit them. Such a cool interactive project, and I can’t wait to see the results.

The history of American men’s facial hair is rife with racial issues.

Dear airlines, please get on this!

New York Bound

I’m New York bound this weekend for Parsons The New School for Design’s symposium on Fashion Curating Now. Jet setting to NYC for the day isn’t my scene, but I found airfare that was manageable and the lineup of speakers was just too good. Valerie Steele, Judith Clark, Alexandra Palmer in one room talking about fashion curation — SOLD! Don’t mind me as I devolve into a fashion nerd fan girl.

Any tips for a one day trip? My flight out of Chicago is at the very unglamorous time of 6 a.m.!

Mexico Vacation

At the end of last month, Travis and I got to go on an amazing vacation to Mexico. Neither of had ever been. I grew up hearing my parents’ legends about their trips to Mexico in the late 70s and early 80s, so I’ve always wanted to go.

Travis was hired to shoot a wedding in Playa Mujeres, just north of Cancun, and I went as his “assistant.” We balanced poolside lounging days with exploring Mayan ruins for a week.

The first Mayan ruins we went to was Coba. Unlike 30 years ago, people aren’t allowed to climb on many of the archeological sites anymore, but that was one of my goals. So when I found out that Coba had the tallest pyramid in the Yucatán Peninsula and people were allowed to climb up it, I knew we had to go there.

On the left is Nohoch Mul, the tallest pryamid in the Yucatán. When we first arrived at Coba, we rented bicycles and rode out to it. It was really steep with really large steps. I had to practically crawl up the front, and I sidestepped the entire way down with one hand on the rope in the middle.

After conquering the big one, we rode around the rest of the site, exploring and taking pictures. We saw some pretty cool structures throughout the grounds, including the ball court above.

The next day, we hitched a ride with the bride’s family to Chichen Itza. Unfortunately, no one is allowed on any of the ruins there, but they were incredibly impressive nonetheless. Chichen Itza is huge. We spent more than three hours there, and still didn’t get to see the whole thing.

It was a bit overwhelming, because they let vendors into the park. Everywhere you go they were shouting at us to buy their wares. But I loved seeing the ruins in person.

The wedding itself was a blast. Like I mentioned Monday, I helped steam the bride’s gown and her bridesmaids’ dresses early in the afternoon, and then I assisted Travis shooting the wedding. I made a few photos of my own, and carried lights like a champ.

But the best and craziest part was a very special wedding crasher. Mario Lopez, who was staying at the resort with his family, came down to take a photo with the bride and then stayed for a bit to dance with his daughter and nieces.

Yup, that’s right. I danced next to AC Slater. Pretty wild! And of course congratulations to Rachel and JP!

My Alt Summit Recap

sitting in the front room, photo by Brooke Dennis

Alt Summit was a roller coaster — physically, emotionally, mentally. I’ve already told you about the physical lows. Now let me tell you about everything else.

Altitude Design Summit, as it is officially known, is a conference for design bloggers primarily. There are subsets of bloggers who write about food, fashion, DIY activities, event planning, and parenting. Other interested people join in, such as graphic designers, photographers, and companies large and small hoping to get in touch with all these bloggers.

The conference began Wednesday evening. A number of companies sponsored dinners at restaurants scattered across Salt Lake City. I went to Settebello, a fancy pizza joint, and was hosted by a lovely group of ladies from the denim company Citizens of Humanity.

My roommates were Joy Uyeno of Frock Files and Mina Brinkley of Bohemian Vintage. I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of girls to bunk with at the Grand America Hotel.

Thursday started with panels. During Getting Past Zero, Mariah Danielsen of Oh, What Love suggested interviewing people that you want to collaborate with on your blog, and my roommate Mina talked about a blog’s curb appeal to retain readers. I heard some really good advice about building e-courses (something I’m considering) from Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning during Four Ways to Earn Revenue From Your Blog.

We had a keynote lunch from Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics and then more afternoon panels. Jasmine Star spoke about the power of showcasing your personality on your blog and monetizing side projects instead of monetizing your blog in her talk on branding.

Alt Summit Clue party, photo by Justin Hackworth

The day ended with a Clue-themed party where everyone had to dress in mustard, plum, white, peacock, scarlet, or green. I went with green — a green reptilian print dress with ruffled skirt, sky-high green pumps, and a spiked bracelet with green beads.

Friday began with roundtable discussions and panels. Erin Loechner gave some brilliant advice on Getting Your Online Life Organized. She suggested the app Gee Tasks for migrating Gmail to do lists onto your cell phone, for bulk junk email unsubscribing, Feedly as a pretty RSS feed, and the app Pocket for saving articles to read later.

The lunchtime keynote speech from designer Stefan Sagmeister was incredibly inspiring. His idea of spacing out sabbaticals throughout a person’s working life in order to keep the passion for your calling — instead of falling victim to a career (for advancement and promotion) or a job (done for money 9-5) — rang true to me. I want to see The Happy Film, his documentary on the search for happiness, and The Happy Show, a supplemental exhibition that might travel to Chicago at some point.

One more panel and then a keynote talk from the street artist/photographer/blogger Katie Sokoler closed out the business part of the day. At the end of Katie’s talk, we all blew up balloons and tossed them in the air. At first I was a little annoyed, but as the balloon toss kept going and going, the joy in the room became infectious. For what seemed like ages, we kept tossing and hitting multicolored balloons back into the air. Somehow I ended up sitting in the epicenter and, by the end, was laughing my head off.

iPhone photo of Erin Loechner and me

And then we party jumped from suite to suite during the mini parties, each with a different theme. I loved the Great Gatsby-themed party Erin threw and the mod party thrown by The Girls with Glasses. I rocked the dance floor as I’m known to do.

Salt Lake LDS Temple from my photo walking tour

Saturday morning was when I woke up sick. I dragged myself to part of the Photo Styling workshop and then the Walking Photography Tour around Salt Lake City. I was excited to see the Mormon Temple. But I spent the rest of the day in my room with tissues, either napping or mainlining mint tea.

Alt was exhausting, which is probably why I got sick. For a first time attendee, introducing myself over and over again was tough. I’m a social person, but there were more then 600 people there. Of course I didn’t even meet half, but jumping from session to session, conversation to conversation takes a lot out of a person. The brief moments of exchange made me wish the pace was a little slower and that I could get to know people better on an individual level in order to facilitate better connections and a deeper exchange of information. But look at all the beautiful business cards I collected during my time there!

business cards I collected

The sessions varied between inspirational and practical knowledge. Oprah-like inspiration isn’t exactly my thing, so I most appreciated those filled with really concrete examples and information.

One of the most honest pieces of advice came from Helen Jane of Federated Media during the Advanced Blogging Skills panel. Someone asked if it was worth writing for a bigger blog for free. Helen hemmed for a minute saying it was complicated, but then admitted it wasn’t. She said if you are writing for a big, monetized blog, obviously your content is already of a good enough value and you don’t need to write for free just to learn/practice. She said to focus on your own work and/or work that pays. And that was exactly the kind of candor I was looking for when I signed up to go to Alt.

Back from SLC

Yesterday I finally arrived home from Salt Lake City after attending Alt Summit. Physically, I’ve seen better days. On Friday morning I gave myself a slight concussion and a nasty bruise by opening the shower door and hitting my head hard. I am not a morning person folks. Then I came down with a bad head cold Saturday morning that kept me room bound Saturday afternoon, evening, and all morning Sunday.

And then there was my travel home. A blizzard blew into the Salt Lake City valley on Sunday afternoon, delaying my flight five and a half hours. Not a pleasant experience when suffering from a sore throat, sniffles, and body aches. I missed my connecting flight in Denver, so I spent the night at a friend’s place (thanks Justin!). At least I can say I’ve been to Denver now. Yesterday morning I finally boarded a flight back to Chicago, and then spent the rest of the day napping.

So those were some lows from the trip. Of course it wasn’t all that bad. I had some fun! But right now I need to get back to resting and getting healthy and sorting through the experience in my head. I’ll share the highs on Friday. Hopefully I’ll kick this bug by then.

Plans in Motion

Happy New Year!

Today is my first day back at work after taking a nice, long, relaxing holiday. It feels a little weird to get back to the grind, but I need some motivation to be productive again. Near the end of my vacation I didn’t end up accomplishing much. In fact, yesterday was spent on the couch because I overdid it in the gym and injured my legs.

I’m looking forward to 2013. I have a long list of goals to accomplish and plans to carry out in the new year.

One of which is to read more books. I’m going to dive further into the Hemingways’ lives. I’ve made a list of books that include a biography on Ernest’s second wife Pauline, his official biography, a fictionalized account of his relationship with his first wife Hadley, and a book about all of his wives. Also on it are a number of Hemingway’s novels (I just finished The Sun Also Rises over break) and his memoir. After Hemingway, I’m thinking about tackling the Fitzgeralds. Zelda seems incredibly interesting, and many suspect that F. Scott plagiarized his work from his wife’s writings. I want to try to read a number of F. Scott’s novels as well because I haven’t read anything other than The Great Gatsby in high school. It looks like I’m infatuated with the Lost Generation. I plan to punctuate the novels and historical books with things on fashion theory and history.

Some of my plans involve this blog. I’ve actually created a more detailed and longer-term calendar about what I’m going to write about. I have left room to react to current events or new things I find though. I will be making some tweaks to the design as well — or at least Liz and Josh from Pink Slip Industries are!

I have some travel plans in sight for 2013. Near the end of January I will be going to Alt Summit, a blogging conference, in Salt Lake City. I’m really hoping to see the punk exhibition at the Met in New York, and I’ll be accompanying my husband to Mexico to shoot a wedding. I’ve never been to Mexico so I’m very excited, especially about the ruins.

So here’s to a fruitful 2013!

Off Day

Good morning. I’m getting a bit of a late start today because I got home last night at 12:30 a.m. after a full day’s travel. Last week I was at the Costume Society of America national symposium in Atlanta, and it was a great time — for learning, networking, and socializing. My brain feels swollen today.

And my body hurts. Long conference days with little sleep will do that to you (especially when the hotel bed is too soft and leaves your lower back throbbing in the mornings). Not to mention that my plane landed in Minneapolis yesterday only to sit on the tarmac for more than an hour because of a security threat in the terminal, which had been completely evacuated for the bomb squad. Luckily I eventually did make it home.

So today’s a recovery day for me, and I’ll be back here tomorrow with a regular post. Thanks for understanding.

In the mean time, enjoy my guest “wedding graduate” post over on A Practical Wedding. And if you are coming over from APW, welcome! I hope you find something here you like — I post about fashion history, my life, art and design, and contemporary fashion. Please don’t hesitate if you have questions too! I’m so happy you stopped by.

Style File – Train Travel Comfort

Tonight (technically tomorrow) I’m getting on the train at 3 a.m. to go to a friend’s wedding. It’s going to be a long trip, and comfort is key.

The third piece I took to the tailor was a grey, jersey maxi skirt, seen above. Before it was pooling at my feet and the hem was lopsided. Now it’s a practical length.

This skirt is incredibly comfortable, and will be perfect for train travel. I have a tendency to get cold on trains (especially when I’m trying to sleep), so the length will keep my legs warm. I’ll probably pair it with a colorful tee like the one here. Even though comfort is important on a long ride, I still want to look cute. A necklace will pull the look together.

This ensemble isn’t particularly high brow, but I feel great in it. And it’ll be great for socializing in the observation and dining cars as well as attempting to nap in my seat.

all photos by Travis Haughton – Wasabi Photography