Saturday, February 15, 2014

Flirty Filosopher

Happy Valentine's Day! (a bit belated one :)
When it comes to celebration, I am in! When it comes to celebrations of love, I am in all the ways! All sorts of love deserve to be celebrated - romantic love is just one form of it (feels wonderful though), and what about love to your kids, parents, siblings, friends? And how about love to the place you live in, to the ocean, to the mountains? And don't forget about love to your pets! And all your little beloved цацки? (Collectors will understand!) Love of writing? Love of being free? Love of life, for pity's sake!

There are conversations of maximalism vs. minimalism I've read in the last few days (I loved the article "On Maximalism" and the interesting discussion at Buttercup's Frocks here and the "More Is More" post by Vintage Vixen here). Here are my two kopecks. I am not against minimalism as a form of aesthetics - but that is all it is to me, just one form of aesthetics. Please, no guilt, shame and life changing revelation. Anything can be life changing, indeed - literally anything. Try immigration to a new continent, for instance. Learn to live (and write!) in a totally new language environment. Create a business from scratch, with no capital or connections. It will change your life, I bet. Art (and fashion and style are forms of art) is for play. It supposed to be fun and it supposed to be genuine. Many fashionistas sort of forget about it, become too thinky. Whenever you try to copy someone else's approach, whenever it is not coming from within you, it becomes a product, not art. 

I feel like "less clutter" from time to time - simpler shapes, neutral palette, less details. Though it doesn't last long enough with me - I do not live minimalism. But I get it when other people do - we all are different. I am more of an expressionist myself. I also get it when people become minimalistic when they are forced to live in certain conditions for a while. I grew up in a poor country. It isn't rich now, but the gap between the poor and the rich is getting bigger every day. Back in 1970-80s, we were all pretty much the same, with rare exceptions (which, living in a small town in the center of the huge country, were not even so visible to me). It started changing in 1990s and continues to change. But back in those days we were all pretty equally poor. Besides,  our government owned stores were mostly empty or contained something completely uninspiring. If it was clothing, paints or fabric, then lots of gray or some very weird, very blah shades of green, blue, etc. This is how I grew up, and so I understand what it means to have one pair of boots for winter, and not what you really love - what you were able to get (and not for just one winter too - for years!), one blazer, one pencil skirt, one necklace. And all of it has to go with the rest of your wardrobe - so it is mostly very basic stuff in very basic colors. There are always exceptions, of course. If you learn sewing and knitting (which many of us did at a pretty early age), then you create something when you get a piece of fabric or a bunch of yarn. And that is minimalism, my friends. Not aesthetics minimalism, but a way of living. It doesn't mean that we were miserable though - we had fun with what we had. And restrictions can definitely force you to get more creative. But there are plenty of other ways to explore creativity, and restrictions also make you suffer. I do not want to be a minimalist by choice, and even though I understand the aesthetics, I have to say it isn't warming to my heart. I love stuff! My home is full of stuff - just because we all love it! 

Here is another thing. I love colors too. We went to an Eric Carle exhibit last summer. It was partly about his amazing children's books illustrations (he published over 70 books) and partly about what he calls "art art" - his own art inspirations which he does just for himself. Do you understand the difference? Not for the public, not for the publishers, not for anyone - just all for himself. We, creative people, absolutely must do it. Think about style blogging. There are so many ways to do your blog - almost endless ways. And while for some bloggers it is a way to earn cash, for others it is just the simple joy of being creative and being totally FREE, and for still others it can be all things in between. But I think those of us who blog mostly for themselves, do our own little version of "art art". It doesn't have to be perfect, professional, profound or anything like that. It just has to be genuine - come from inside of us. That's all. And we all need it. People often call this way "my creative outlet". If someone else likes it - fine, but most important that you do it because you like it. 

Back to my little Eric Carle story, there was a video of his interview where he told us about his childhood (he grew up in Germany), his study and his teachers, parents, first job etc. At some point in the film he talks about his love of colors, mentioning that, as a human being, we are incapable of seeing more colors than our eyes can detect. Think of that. This talented and successful artist in his 80s admits to us his desire to be able to see EVEN MORE COLORS than his eyes are capable of seeing today ... and his inability to see more colors makes him genuinely sad. I would probably never even think of this as an idea, but I do get what he means. Oh you should have seen his eyes in that moment! He was pure as a child.

I guess all it comes down to this ... do what truly makes you happy, what resonates with you on the deepest level. We all experience it at some time. This true joy we feel when we can't help but smile to ourselves. If minimalism makes you feel that - by all means, live minimalism! If colors, colors and even more colors make you feel that - then live colors! And why limit yourself to only one form of aesthetics, anyway? One day, you may feel like minimalism - so do it. Another day, the colors of the rainbow may be on your mind and you may want a gazillion bracelets on your hands - then do just that! Why try to fit yourself in boxes when you can live your life box-free?

I wasn't philosophical on Valentine's Day though. I just wanted to spend a day with my most beloved ones, and even though I had my period of rejecting calendar holidays, I do not feel that way any longer. So I put my flirty skirt on (I wore it here as well) and played with some bright colors and jewelry. I am not big on pink so far, although I feel like it can be the beginning of a new love - I wear (and love) magenta! So I added a favorite bright sweater, something warm and spicy, and a bunch of colorful necklaces just to be playful, and I was ready to celebrate love... in all of its forms! Maybe not your typical Valentine's Day outfit - but I like it!

After being turned away by a couple of big fancy restaurants (it was late lunch time), which surprised us a lot, to say the least, we ended up in a lovely little Italian place in an older building, located in a charming part of town, and the whole experience was amazing. We had a family Valentine's Day (you may spot my kid's shoulder next to me on the photo above :) - tasty lunch, a little house wine and lots of delicious left overs. I had one of best cioppino I've ever tasted!

Later that night, I changed my shoes to a fun pair of boots with a very vintage feel to them - they compliment the flirty and feminine skirt so well! I will have to take a better photo of these outfit some time though as it was getting too dark for decent pictures. So far, you can take a better look of the boots here.

Skirt - Christopher and Banks. Sweater, blazer, earrings and one of necklaces - Lane Bryant (another, wooden necklace - antique mall find for $3). Flats - Born. Boots - German brand of comfy shoes Josef Seibel. Purse - B Makowsky. Tights - Hue. Ring - boutique find ($5 and I love it!).

Only one thing is missing in my outfit... I so felt like a flower in my hair! Sadly, I don't have any. Luckily, I can keep my eyes open for such things from now on! ;)

Here is to love!


  1. Natalia, I love this romantic and smart post, there are so many kinds of love, all deserving to be celebrated!
    Love your skirt,
    Happy valentine's day,
    XX, Elle

    1. Thank you, my dear friend! :) Happy Valentine's Day and all the very best to you and your family! :)

  2. I absolutely agree with your conception, Natalia, - wear whatever makes you happy, whatever you feel at the moment, don't copy others or "follow the crowd" so to say. My early youth years were similar to those your described: not much clothes to chose from, one pair of boots (any boots that you manage to buy) for several years and so on. But what is interesting, it didn't bother me at all.
    The skirt you are wearing here is really very pretty. And I like how you styled it with the bright top. The beads necklace is wonderful too.
    Great post!

    1. Thank you very much, Olga!! I think we developed sort of treasure hunting instincts in our early years. No wonder I prefer to shop in small shops (I almost never shop at large department stores, except for maybe tights or "big" purchases like coats), or browse a clearance rack, and of course antique malls and vintage shops where there is much less stuff, but so much more fun because shopping becomes very special, and from time to time you can find your little treasure. :)

  3. A lovely outfit for Valentine's Day, or any other day! The skirt is suitably flirty, and I love the rich colours of the sweater and jacket.
    I think there is something about not having much in your younger years that might make you more likely to crave variety and colour. I grew up in a family with not much money, so despite there being plenty of goods available (unlike yours and Olga's situation), I didn't have many clothes. I recognise the need for things to last, to be serviceable, for everything to "go" with everything else, hence no wildly impractical or colourful purchases.
    Now? I have probably reacted against all that, though I still spend cautiously and buy mostly secondhand. I want colour and print and lots of choice. I do think style should be about playfulness and fun and feeling fabulous, it doesn't have to be overly analysed or too "thinky"! The bloggers I love the most are people who are genuine, whose style inspires, and whose writing sounds like a real voice, a real person. xxxx

    1. I keep coming back to your comment about how the way we were raised influences our choices. Mom grew up in a large family, in tiny and very poor village right after the WW II. They obviously did not have much. But I think both of us in some ways equally impractical people with love for cozy interiors and beautiful clothes. :) The difference would be though, that she prefers things on a modern side - her choice of furniture would be light wood, clean lines, and not many details. I love cottage style and colors, and lots of all sorts of little collections... I don't think my mom collected anything in her life, except for maybe books - she created quite an extended, wonderful family library... And while she appreciates my box collection, she feels like there is not enough space for all the things I want to fit in my home. :) I grew up with much more stuff available, compare to my mom's childhood and early years, in a city apartment, but I am so partial to a cozy cottage living... Interesting how that happens, yes?

      And I so agree with you - real genuine voices, that is the most precious to me in life and in art (and blogging as a way of living and creating!). It can be a bit scary to open up though. ~ With love, Natalia

  4. All I can say is wow, so beautifully said. What a great writer you are! I see the art in your blogging-- the color, the pictures, the writing. Touching to hear about living in a minimal way and now living in a all out vision of your own making. You are inspiring! Lovely colors here that looks absolutely beautiful on you!

    blue hue wonderland

    1. Oh Ann, this comment is priceless to me... I love writing. If there is anything that I would do (and I do) every day of my life with no exception, in one or another form, it would be writing. Writing in English is quite challenging because I have never actually studied English grammar or vocabulary in a serious "formal" way. I do most of what I do intuitively. Justin always compliments my writing abilities, and I appreciate encouragement very much. I think we all need more encouragement in what we love doing, don't we? So I thank you from my heart for your words. And the fact that you see art in my blogging is very precious to me. I have to thank Justin for all his help though - it is a collaboration between us, really. Thank you, Ann!

  5. What a wonderful Valentine's Day outfit. That skirt is wonderfully feminine and flirty and paired with the slinky yellow sweater and cute pumps it looks edgy and cool.
    I have a friend who grew up in the former Czechoslovakia, she remembers what it was like to go hungry and to wear hand-me-downs and gets so much joy from shopping pretty things and cooking extravagant meals. My family were frugal through choice. As children we had new clothes for Xmas or birthdays and the rest of the time it was second-hand and make-do. That ethos stayed with me as an adult, I feel uncomfortable spending on new stuff when there's so much gorgeous vintage clothes to be had in charity shops - that's not to say that i don't love being surrounded but pretty dresses and things, my house is crammed with them! xxx

    1. Thank you for your generous compliments, Vix!! Oh your house is absolutely charming - I will have to make a point of commenting on your interiors in your blog (since I am not really sure whether people read replies to their comments on other people's blogs or not - it is not obvious here in Blogger). You are a queen of vintage dressing, fun and brightly colorful! So I guess it's a good thing that we grew up the way we did - our creativity blossomed from it. Though, wouldn't it be wonderful to do whatever we all love doing without any restrictions... like money? :)

      My mom probably grew up similarly to your friend - not enough food, very simple food, practically whatever they were able to grow in Siberia. So lots of potatoes. :) But she is a very creative and elegant woman, nevertheless.

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