Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Born to Build Bridges


I don't really think of our lives as an attempt to fulfill our predesigned destiny - or rather, I have been moving away from such thinking which is quite typical for people, no matter what countries and cultures we are from. I like to think of our destiny as something we design ourselves. The stories we hear about people that fascinate us only prove that anything is possible if you set your heart on it, if that is what you truly want and are willing to work on. A runner who runs without legs, a writer who writes without arms or eyes - you probably heard stories like that. Those people are extraordinary not because they were born that way, but because they decided that living a life in a box that was offered to them is rather dull. We still can live in that box, or any other box for that matter - we can even change boxes if we want to. Or discover that we are also given wings to fly. They need some training, just like birds' wings. They get rusty, because sometimes we forget that we have them. But they are there - they always were and always will be. It is up to us whether we decide to use them, our wings.


There are things that we discover about ourselves as we grow and live. If we try different things and pay attention, we'll see something about ourselves we did not know was there - one of them to me, was a discovery that I'm rather a good bridge maker. I don't like an "either - or" approach to life. I don't like exclusion. I don't like gaps, disconnections. So many things that seem disconnected at the first glance, at a closer, deeper look have actually deep common roots. As a student of languages, you discover it simply by learning two or more languages - so many words have the same roots in different languages. As someone who has lived in different countries, met not even hundreds - thousands of all sorts of people, and studied different cultures, you discover that people and their traditions are not all that different, that with all the superficial differences, there is something profound which binds us all.


My approach to style is no different. There is no "either - or" for me, but rather combining both contemporary and traditional, classical and new, practical and beautiful, businessy and bohemian together. To tell you the truth, I'm not looking for "one true style", or as they call it "a signature style" - I love diversity, variety above all. But if there is one look that feels very "me", then it lies in the combination of such opposite elements as sleek modern form with soft, whimsical traditional form as I did in this outfit (another good example of it in the earlier post Who I Am). And that is exactly why I like the times in which we live - I like that the world is coming to more acceptance than ever, and fashion reflects it. If you think of it, up till very recently fashion was so much more puristic and uniform. Now we are free to create any mixes that were not just unacceptable, but unthinkable before. Granted, there is still a long way to go to embrace all the variety that there is in the world - but the important thing is that we are moving in that direction.


When my parents were getting ready to visit us last year, Mom asked what I would like for a present. I said, Russian platok. When she asked me what I would like for my birthday, I said again - Russian platok. So the day before my birthday, I received a package from my dear parents with two new beauties for my collection.


I wrote about this gorgeous traditional Russian craft in my early post Russian Platok back in 2013. The word "platok" is a generic term we use for usually a large wool or silk shawl, typically square shape, though can be a triangle too (while the word "shawl" - шаль - more often used for a triangle shape, and usually knitted or crocheted). Pavlovoposadsky platok sounds way too long for you guys to remember (it literally means "from Pavlovsky Posad", the town where these fine shawls have been manufactured for over 200 years), so I simply started calling them Russian platok on my blog, and by the way even the manufacturer calls their web site platki.ru ("platki" being plural for "platok").


Two shawls in my collection are thrifted (oddly enough, found at the same antique mall, at different times), but the rest of them are bought in Russia by my parents. When a platok comes to you new, with the manufacturer's label, you learn the name of the artist who created the particular design of your platok. You also learn that each design has its own unique name. For instance, this out of thw ordinary beautiful smoky platok is called Secret of the Heart ("Тайна сердца") and was designed by Elena Favoritova. The label will also tell you what grade the product is - the finer the wool is (and they all are made of 100% wool), the higher the grade. Mine is quite fine, and the fringes are silk.



You can see that my new platok matches an old beloved set of earrings and pendant, another famous Russian craft - hand painted enamel (called also finift) and filigree. I rarely wear them together, but this time I wanted to. It's a pity that the fountain in Justin's business courtyard is turned off just a few minutes before I arrive to pick him up. But still, it was such a lovely day, and even a bunny came out to play and greet us in the middle of a busy business area, as we took these photos. 




Without my whimsical Russian additions, the outfit is totally office appropriate - just throw on a cardigan or a blazer for more coverage if you need to. I love office style, always did and probably always will - but with a twist, not as conservative.


The form hugging skirt with a faux leather trim I've shown before (with a black ruana and chunky jewelry here and double leopard print and sequins here). The blouse stole my heart recently, thanks to its vibrant color and unique layered design - pleats over pleats, flowing beautifully as I move. Just like wings!



Blouse and skirt - Lane Bryant
Russian platok - birthday gift from my parents
Enamel hand painted earrings and pendant set - via eBay, years ago
Shoes - Rockport
Clutch - Cole Haan (old)

Linking up with Turning Heads Tuesday,

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48 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I love that pretty deep violet color on you. I love tops with a trapeze shape. They're so perfect when paired with a slim fitting bottom; like you've done here. Thank you for the education on the platok. It's so precious and pretty.

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    1. Thank you, Glenda! This is a magical top, color and shape - just perfect together. :)

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  2. The platok is gorgeous and its such a great accent to the purple trapeze top.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Would love for you to stop by & join TBT Fashion link up.

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  3. Your warm smile fills my soul with joy, my dearest Natalia
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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    1. And you do the same to me, Sacramento! :)

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  4. This shade of purple suits you nicely. My sister in law has a dress in the same shade of purple and it looks great on her as well, so it might be that this shade is a particularly lovely match for blue eyes. I like the fact that this purple top is longer, it matches the skirt quite nicely, creating almost a peplum shape. The skirt is fantastic!

    I love what you said about liking office style...I do too, but as you said with a twist. Putting on a pencil skirt and heels always makes me feel more confident. The Russian platok is lovely! Such a nice gift from your parents.Traditional garments have a charm of their own.

    I also enjoyed what you wrote about the diversity of style. I do agree with your conclusion that the world is becoming more accepting and that fashion is becoming less uniform. Perhaps globalization and fashion blogs also play a part in this? what do you think?

    at the same time, as fashion becomes more free and uniform, people seem to become more trapped in their images of what their body should look like. We're constantly exposed to discussions of all sorts, about IBD and all kind of calculations....and we forget that the true measurement of our health is how much energy we have on daily basis and how we feel not how we look...that is not something that can be calculated.

    But hopefully our views of our bodies will become less uniform and more free...like the view of fashion is becoming lately!

    Have a nice day sweetie and thank you for your comment.

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    1. Green eyes :)

      Yes, this is the very first time in the history of the world when people in all different parts of the world are opening their eyes to the wide diversity we have! Thanks to Internet, in many ways. Before we could only read in books or see on TV rare, precious information about other countries - now we can move more freely, travel, or even simply open a laptop and see what people are doing in all different corners of the world this very minute - from their own point of view! Not from what journalists or politicians tell us - from what people themselves tell us! It's such a unique, amazing point in history to live. And of course we are opening up to new possibilities. We just can't help it. :)

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    2. you're right! Internet gives us greater freedom...for example, fashion blogs can provide us with insight into lives of bloggers from all around the world. Isn't that just wonderfully freeing? I mean just to know that we don't have to rely on fashion magazines and their editors to explore the magical world of fashion and personal style....how lovely!

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    3. yes, green eyes, sorry:) Sometimes our brains plays tricks on us, when we think we see something, we really see it that way.

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  5. The magenta smock top is gorgeous, the colour suits you wonderfully and the shape is a great contrast to the structured skirt and sculptural heels.
    Your Platok & traditional jewellery are lovely. I love to see traditional pieces mixed with more everyday items. I'm sad that traditional British clothing doesn't appeal to me - drab tweeds and pearls.I was born in the wrong country so embracing Indian jewellery is me not accepting my predetermined destiny. xxx

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    1. I had to do a mini-search on traditional (meaning "folk") English clothing... I see what you mean - beginning with colors, it's not especially your taste. But there is the whole world to choose from - and Indian jewelry is so amazing, of course you fell in love! And you are absolutely one of those admirable people who pick their own destiny fearlessly!

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  6. I'm like you, I like aspects of everything, but sometimes other people find that hard to deal with -- when you like a lot of different things, you can become chameleon-like and people don't trust it (especially in an office environment) because they can't easily put you in a box.

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    1. I know what you mean, Anna, I think it's a mistake to associate adventurous spirit with flakiness.

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  7. Dear Natalia, you look so amazing in your own style! So romantic this wonderfull platok. I love it!
    hey you have wings ;)
    xoxo Tina

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    1. I'm glad you noticed the wings, Tina! :)

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  8. Natalia, purple is your color. You look very confident and lovely in your "office" look. I love this scarf (platok) and jewellery with slavic floral motives. Are they (necklace and earings) antiques?

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    1. They are not antique - there are still many traditional crafts in Russia that are alive, fortunately! I bought this set over 10 years ago.

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  9. There's always something to learn when I visit your blog/corner of the world. I never knew what a platok was but I may have seen them in vintage shops. Sounds like you have quite the collection! I love the silhouette of this dressed up office attire on you. The drape of the violet blouse is perfect over the pencil skirt. I would wear more pencil skirts if my office wasn't so casual.
    I adore Russian jewelry and the handpainted boxes. My mom has always had two of those black boxes with the intricate paintings. One on her dresser top and one on an end table. I always loved studying the picture and looking up close to see every detail. It's like a fantasy world in there!

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    1. Joni, and they are fantasy worlds! I'm thrilled to know that you loved studying them at your Mom's dresser. :)

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  10. Well your platok is rather gorgeous. What intricate well painted designs. They look like they should be on the wall and framed.

    Love this colour on you too.

    I totally agree with you about not needing a "signature style." In fact I find myself railing against the very idea. There are so many different sides to a person and personality. How can they all be well represented with just one style? I'd much rather be eclectic and creative than predictable.

    bisous
    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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  11. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. I love your outfit and the Russian scarf. The combination is awesome! So unexpected. Love it!

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    1. So glad that you found this combination unexpected - you got it, Nicole!

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  12. So chic, Natalia - all business with the heels and pencil skirt, but drama and movement above with the swing-y purple top and that glorious platok. Mixing traditional or vintage pieces with current fashion items works brilliantly for a individual, creative look. While that may not exactly be a signature style, I think it's something you do wonderfully well, my dear!
    And that final photo is just fantastic! xxx

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    1. Thank you, Curtise! I think that sleek contemporary style (as a style, not just items) mixed with free spirited bohemian style absolutely can be a signature style, and I don't remember seeing anyone doing it, though I'm sure that someone somewhere does just that. I love this unexpected dynamic mix - though even that would not be what I want to wear every single day. :)

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  13. Absolutely stunning with and without the shawl! jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  14. Beautiful platok! You have a wonderful Mum.
    I would agree, building bridges is one of your gifts.
    I love how you came back to "wings" in your outfit.
    Hopefully I'm writing a good destiny. It all seems a muddle at this stage! Xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. I'll repeat - you are the sweetest, loveliest person full of love, creativity, joy which you so generously spread into the world! You have been writing a great destiny for yourself! There are moments, or rather periods which seem unclear to us. Time to hibernate for a while, not time to act. We all need rest, silence. You'll know when it's time to move again - and then no one could stop you. Because only you can know what you want to write and the way to write it!

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  15. Happy Birthday! Natailia, I enjoyed your post! Yes, I agree about we can stay in a box or decide not to be confined to one. When I first was diagnosed with EDS, I felt like my world was gone, that all the things I used to do couldnt be done, after years and lots of learning, I decided not to be confined by my thinking and do the best I can in life. You look radiant in purple, I think it is a redheads favorite color and I love the gorgeous shawl!

    Thanks for linking up with Turning Heads Tuesday!
    Jess xx
    www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

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  16. I absolutely love how this blouse moves on the wind! It is beautiful and you look great. Your new platok is beautiful and thank you for writing more about platoks.

    I agree that we can shape our reality and it is great to do so instead of being trapped in our self pity. The box issue is really interesting. I think there is always a box of some sort so the thing is to furnish the box so it would suit us best and not to be scared to reposition stuff. Changes can be good and we are made to change because we think conclude dream and imagine. There is a saying that people don't change. I don't think that's true.

    ♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ HappY BiRtHdAy•*¨*•.¸¸ xxxxx

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  17. Happy birthday! And that top is really beautiful, love the colour! The colours on the scarf are so pretty, too.

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  18. I always enjoy to see you wearing one of the platok from your collection, Natalia! And just the other day I too was thinking about how flexible fashion has become these days: less rules and boundaries, more freedom in expressing one's personality. You look blooming on these photographs. Must be spring, hmm?

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  19. Lovely look! And bunnies make me smile. :)

    Thanks so much for being a part of Fun Fashion Friday!

    OXOX

    Dawn Lucy

    http://fashionshouldbefun.blogspot.com

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  20. I love the plum and grey. I love the shawl for its glorious design and drape. I adore the blue nails, but it is your pretty face and the dazzling smile that makes my day.
    I agree, style should be individual and isn't it fun when we love variety? I love seeing what you will put together and wear, knowing it will be distinctive, and out of the box! and perfectly rendered, as your own, unique vision! I always know I will LOVE it, Natalia!
    xx, Elle
    http://mydailycostume.com

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  21. natasha! wonderful written! i´m totally with you in the case that we can chose how we live. it´s not easy and sometimes we will not know exactly how it looks where we land - but leaving "the box" is absolutely possible!
    your "winged" outfit is sooo beautiful! the platok looks like something from a fairy tale. the new plissé blouse is just gorgeous in this color! and justin did a fantastic job capturing you and the warm light!!
    i completed my job - so back to normal at railroad house :-)
    xxxxxxx hugses!!!!

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    1. I miss that word - plisse, we also use it in Russian. :)
      Yes, I agree - we do not always know what it will look like, that thing that we create, our own life... but it makes it even more interesting and meaningful. Wouldn't it be boring if we knew everything that is ahead of us?

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  22. Happy Belated Birthday!! the first photograph is sensational and a great introduction to your post, you look amazing! Your Platok is incredibly beautiful, the detail is incredible, the artist is talented indeed - it adds romance and mystery to your outfit, I love how an addition of a garment can transform an outfit. It's funny how pre-destined choices are so real, I left a 'perfect' job at 17 (17!!) it took my Mother a long time to get over it haha! but it showed me my own determination to run my life my way x x x

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    1. I'm fascinated with your story, Sandra! Some day, I want to hear more. :)

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  23. Some of my very favourite things are here. You! The colour violet. Enamel and filigree earrings. Russian platok. You are so gorgeous, inside and out and your kind soul shines through all of your writing as well as through your eyes.
    I agree with you on disliking either/or black or white thinking, and I often struggle to understand how some people can get stuck in that, but I do also know how it is possible to get stuck when you never ever thought you would, when you thought you were in control and you find out that you aren't it can be scary. I think black /white thinking helps many people feel as though they are in control. Helps them feel safer.
    I agree with you that the diversity in fashion right now is wonderful, and am happy that we are no longer limited to the in skirt length or trouser style as well, though limits still tend to happen in such a poor shopping environment as where I live.
    I hope your birthday was as lovely as you are! I think I vaguely remember being 42. ;-) Hugses! xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Shawna! It's 42, yes. :) I think it's true about feeling "in control". I like to let go. I don't like even the word "control". In small things, it's fine - like managing the work you do, or fixing a dinner. But in life, what control? It's freedom and responsibility, but definitely not control.

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  24. Such wise words, I have learnt along lifes path that there is no such thing as a pre-detirmined path, life is as you make it but sometimes with bumps along the way. I love your Platok, a true work of art , that goes so beautifully with your purple flowing blouse and skirt. Enjoy my dear.

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    1. Your words resonate with me, Jill - so true about bumps. I learn a lot from you!

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  25. Sorry for being so late to the party here Natalia, but you look so beautiful and elegant here, I had to let you now :-) I love your Classic/Boho combination, mixing the best of both worlds! A sleek pencil skirt with filigree jewellery, and that amazing top with the incredible platok! Brilliant!

    Life is what we make it! Living in a very privileged part of the world I've had every opportunity to live how and where I wanted to. Some people will say I've failed... When I was younger I worked for IBM, brought home a nice fat pay check every month and looking at a yearly raise and fast promotions. They call it a career. Then I quit. The first thing people asked me was, "how about the money then?"

    I've never regretted it for a minute, that I left to try something completely different ( I took a job as a stewardesse on a freight ship, sailing the seven seas!!!) earning far less money.

    Those little boxes that society is so keen to classify us by are just too restricting, I have to break loose from time to time. That's why I've had many odd jobs and tried many different educations. As you say: We grow when we change, and growth is what keeps us young (at heart at least!) - so happy birthday, although very late :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Tine! It's never late for such wonderful, warm words which made me smile. :) Thank you for sharing your story! I loved learning more about you. Your colorful, joyful style certainly reflects all this adventurous, curious, open, brave spirit!

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