Sunday, September 14, 2014

Moments of Summer 2014: Details Matter



I realized that I haven't done my usual recaps for the whole three months of Summer (the last one was in June, and you can find all of them by clicking on the tag monthly moments). As both my daughter and I got a bit sicky, hence no new outfit photos or any planned outings this weekend, I though I'd reflect on details and accessories a little and make them the focus of my summer outfits recap. So, in no particular order, my outfits shown in the blog from July through mid-September (which is considered Autumn in Russia where I am from, but is still officially Summer here in the US). And let us talk about details this time. I'm very interested in what you think!

Bold bead details from the posts High On Life (August) and Foot Ferry Romance (September)

I will tell you a little secret. Every time some of you say that I look "polished', "finished", "fabulous", "stylish" or anything like it, I am surprised! Maybe it's my "Russian-ness" or growing up in the country where praising was not something of an everyday matter, while criticism and pointing out the flaws was, but I honestly don't consider most of my looks finished or polished. On the contrary, I feel that I am a student of style compared to so many of you. I've already told you that for a few years, fashion did not even show up on my radar - I was busy with building other things and dressed up very seldomly, most times dark jeans and some kind of top became my uniform. What I did not tell you much is that I grew up with an extraordinarily beautiful woman, my Mom, who cared about the way she dressed and definitely had her own style, and I learned a lot by just being in her presence. What Mom could not teach me was details - make-up and accessories.

Natural Russian birch bark hand-made accessories emphasizing the folk nature of the outfit, while yellow polish adds a bit modern upbeat vibe, from the post Bluegrass Rediscovered.

While I absolutely love the feeling of fresh naked skin, no make-up, no nail polish and things like that, I realized that what gives women a finished look is these details. Even a light make-up, like lipstick or lip gloss, makes difference. Even clear polish or subtle French manicure gives us this extra touch which brings the whole look to a completely new level.

Playing with hot hues and refreshing white in the post Hot.

Mom grew up after the World War II in a tiny village built by exiled farmers - they were sent from one part of Siberia (we actually consider it the Far East in Russia, but I know that here it's known as one mysterious large region called "Siberia") to another part, further West. Families were given a few hours to get only a few things they could bring with them in their hand luggage. People were sent by train, in cattle cars, far away from their homes and relatives to start a new life literally in the middle of nowhere, in the midst of taiga. It was August of 1931. Many survived, but some did not. (Mom wrote the whole history of her village, one of many other places with a similar story in Russia, and created a web site called Angara. Tatarka. Angara is the name of the river where they were sent, and Tatarka is another little river where the village was built, and therefore got the same name - Tatarka.)

Golden sun shining in blue sky, or Playing with dimensions of pleats (tucks), stripes and chains in the post Off With Your Pants.

Only a part of Mom's large extended family, many of whom lived, built or were raised in Tatarka. Mom is on the far left, she is only 18 years old here. Photo from family archives. December of 1963. 

40 years later... My dearest family at my parents' apartment where I grew up. My brother Andrei, Mom with little Anya, Dad and me in May of 2004. Sosnovoborsk, Krasnoyarsk territory, Russia.

As a society, we stepped far forward from the kind of poverty our grandparents and parents  experienced in their younger lives. Far, far away. But when you look at how that first experience of life affected individuals, you can still find the signs of being satisfied with very little and not even having a need for more. I see, for instance, that my Mom has never developed a taste for jewelry - the very little that she got as gifts in her mid-life, she gave to me. She almost never wore her fine golden chain necklaces. She has never owned a ring or a bracelet. She has not pierced her ears. And very seldom I remember her having a manicure or a touch of cosmetic on her beautiful face.

Here I think I intuitively put together tribal motifs and textures which gave the look depth, post One Year.

So all that I learned about details, I learned on my own and a lot of it recently. When I was a young girl, I would have a few pieces of bijouterie (costume jewelry) - I remember my aunt Rimma, Mom's younger sister, gave me a few of her pieces teaching me that it's important to finish a pretty dress with these fine touches. But mostly I would wear the same little silver or rose gold earrings, one little ring (it will go to my daughter soon as well as my first golden earrings became hers) and maybe Mom's little golden chain necklace, and I would wear them all the time with any outfit, for any occasion.

Both delicacy and roughness of country style in the textures and shapes from the post Change Of Focus

Like my Mom, I have not really developed a taste for expensive jewelry, for diamonds and platinum. I am sure I would love to have a gorgeous emerald necklace if we had such kind of money, but I don't really crave them. I am quite content with the one golden ring I wear as a symbol of Justin's love - I picked it myself, it has a very intricate and quite unique both vintage and contemporary vibe to it. 

Unlike my Mom, I collected many costume jewelry pieces over the years and enjoy mixing and matching them when I dress up. Accessories can either play along with the outfit by emphasizing the style, or by providing contrast and giving a bit of a zing, a bit of a quirk to even a moderate outfit. 

Femininity shines in the details chosen for this outfit, from the post 1940s, Here I Come.

It can bring you down the retro road like pearls, a silk scarf and a wicker bag do in the outfit above.

Color pops and textures mix in the post Jacket Friendly.

It can add the third dimension to a print or embroidery like these earrings in the outfit above - a cluster of ripe tiny berries hanging from the tree, some of which fell off to color my nails...

Details add fineness to the autumn-inspired outfit in the post Few Little Things.

They can create depth by pairing similar prints, like this leaf and flower motif on my skirt emphasized by the linen purse. Or they can simply remind you of people and places dear to your heart even when you are miles and years away from them, like these little "pieces of Russia" I wear around my neck and my wrist from time to time.

And I don't really think that they take much extra time to add to your look, but maybe just a little bit more thought, or rather reflection to me - I don't analyze (thoughts) when I create looks, but rather go by feeling which is an entirely different process.

I also noticed that when you dip your toes into different fields of creativity, or art, they help one another. It's like when I was focused on raising a tri-lingual child (it's not our goal any longer, but that's another story), I saw how progress in one language initiates progress in another. I know that my experimentation with style helps me to see new things in writing, and how my diving into sketching brings into focus the details of life, which also helps with personal style, creative writing and so on.

One of my latest sketches.

And the last thing about details-that-matter for today. I know that some of you, my friends and readers, have already discovered that In The Writer's Closet has a sister blog - Out Of The Writer's Closet (there are links near the top of the page and on the right side of the page in the "about me" column). Thank you for your feedback and encouragement very much! 

For those who are not familiar with it... Out Of The Writer's Closet is my "art blog" which is not as active as this one at this point, and most definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but I want it to grow. My desire is to build a "reference book" of my own creative process, filled with some of my creative writing (in both languages), my artistic photography, and as of the latest addition, my sketches, and who knows what other forms of "art making" as I grow and change. I definitely don't imply that I expect you to read and comment, but if you have an interest in the creative process or just would like to learn about other sides of me, you are welcome to visit. One thing I will  say in advance - it is a much more vulnerable area to me as someone who has only recently started realizing about herself that she is an artist (I do not mean "artist" in a direct visual arts sense - no, it's much, much wider than that). To post whatever I decide to post in that area of my life is a huge step to me, and I feel incredibly vulnerable - as if I would stand naked in front of the whole world. I'm taking this step because otherwise it feels like the most significant part of me is hidden from you. It is a work in progress and even though it might seem a collection of disconnected pieces, these details are a vital part of me.


  1. It was interesting to read how your mother influenced your sense of style as I have a similar experience: my mother was the local beauty queen in a small town in Finland, and the most elegant woman I've ever known. And yet she never had a lot of money nor a huge wardrobe... And just like you taking an interest in accessories as something that can add that personal touch to an outfit (maybe as a response to your beautiful mother's lack of interest in that area), I also find myself drawn to accessories to complete very basic outfits, just like my mother did (although she used them very sparingly).

    1. How very interesting, Tiina - you are right, sounds like we had a similar experience growing up. I'd like to read more about it on your blog some day!

  2. to my shame i have to admit that your art blog switched under my radar! tss.
    maybe it´s because to read here is sooo exiting that i oversaw that button! when i finish this comment i will hurry over!
    up to fashion. when i was a child, costume jewelry was not en vogue by the women around me. they wore thin silver or gold chains with tiny pendants and the wedding band, maybe one decorative ring. was that a kommunist/eastern thing? or international fashion? other readers, please help......
    in my teens, the 80´s, my rebellion was to wear as much and big and bold costume jewelry as i could. and because i was behind the iron curtain like you - most of them was homemade by me or friends. and nailpolish was very important! then came the 90´s and purism. the only bling was one very big silver ring, different ones from time to time. and now? i use to forget to wear jewelry, prefer pockets in my skirt instead using a handbag, wear hats only against climate, scarfs/shawls too.......and nailpolish with gardening does´t really work.
    seeing a pic of your young mother explains from where your beauty comes! she´s gorgeous!!!
    your sketch is fabulous, your are like a renaissance woman with all your talents and creativity!!!!!

    1. Your comment made me happy - Renaissance woman, I like that! Justin often calls me that, there is truth in it - we both are multifaceted.

      I remember that in mid 80s I had a pair of big white plastic rings (earrings), and then later my aunt gave me a few pieces of her bijuterie (one was very similar multi-string necklace I wore with the blue shirt dress here, I was so happy to find this one). I don't remember what was popular in 70s around me- I was too little. :)

      All of Mom's sisters have golden jewelry: earrings etc. Mom does not even have her ears pierced. She has quite a minimalistic aesthetic, she prefers contemporary style while I enjoy mixing and matching classics, retro and contemporary all in one bag. :) But her dresses are always elegant and well fitted, and she pays attention to shoes.

  3. You are a woman of so many talents, Natalia. I love your writing, the way you take a small theme and expand it into something else; your outfits are a visual version of this, and now you are sharing your art too. Well done, it takes guts to put your work out there for people to see, I love your sketch and will go across to your other blog later.
    Details - the devil's in them, but also the joy! Yours are always so spot-on, so it's interesting to hear that this is a recent development for you. My mother isn't a jewellery-wearing kind of woman either, perhaps that wartime/post-war austerity made its mark. I love seeing your family photos, and your mother certainly is a beauty! Look at her cool 1960s eye-liner, she's smouldering! The tilt of her head is just the same in both the photos, isn't that great? She's got attitude, presence, and I like that!
    I love the recap of the details of your outfits, so well put-together - the looks, the photo collages, and the post. Clever you! xxxx

    1. Thank you, Curtise! I think you and I have that in common, the way we write - extending a small theme to something else as you say.

      I think history definitely affect us, our own personal history as well as our culture. But there are also preferences due to the differences in our personalities. I can't say that everybody from Mom's family have her taste in fashion and style, not at all. She definitely has something of her own going on. And I got a part of her style, but also added something of my own on. For instance, I like more variety. My Mom's style has been pretty consistent, elegant and a bit on a conservative side, not overly though, while I am more experimental and definitely enjoy details.

  4. I always savour and enjoy your writing, Natalia. Your attention to detail in both your prose and your outfits is awe-inspiring. I just chuck on what feels right whereas I can look at the bag, necklace or show you wear and understand why you chose it when you got dressed.
    Your Mum is instantly recognisable in the family photo, she barely changed. My Mum wore as much jewellery as I do. She loved rings but refused to wear a wedding ring seeing it as as a symbol of

    1. Thank you, Vix! It's music to my ears - about writing I mean. :)

      It sounds like we all are affected by our Moms a lot! Sounds like your Mom had a lot in common with you. My Mom has never had a wedding ring - they married when they were so young and poor, they did not have any money for rings or wedding. And then they just never got around it. It will be their 50s anniversary soon. Maybe we'll do a wedding for them after all those years!

  5. As you know, I am like Beate and your art blog went under my radar, but I think she is right that this blog is so captivating one doesn't go looking for another.

    Your mother is beautiful but so are you and you really do look very much like her. This essay is so interesting not only because you write so well and share the unique and interesting tidbits of your life, but because this is also a very interesting topic. Details and whether or not we embrace them, and just what makes one feminine-how I love this topic. I want you to come over and we will drink wine and discuss this for hours. You do look very pulled together, as the saying goes, and yes it is very much due to the fact that you pay attention to the details.

    I think that for myself I am a bit lazy. I do not look at myself so much as feel myself, so although I want to look nice, I tend to forget about the details and accessories because I am not always comfortable in them. I do not feel like myself in costume jewelry and prefer some signature pieces in silver and with semi-precious type stones. I do not ever do much to style my hair and I wear little or no makeup. I do not need those things to feel feminine though a touch of pink lipstick makes me feel dressed up. I adore details in the clothing itself-lace, embroidery, patterns, textures, but I don't own a lot that naturally has these features. I suspect it is not my goal to look polished or put together as much as I admire it.

    I think attention to detail is a Natalia signature. It shows in your writing, your sketching and what you wear. I am clearly more of a toss it together person. A Salad making approach to style even in my art-lol.

    1. I like it - tossed salad! I appreciate both - big strokes and fine detailing, I am a variety girl. I so agree with you that there are details in clothing, fabric itself to enjoy! At the end, it's all about how we feel. I did not realize that it feels good to me to look "pulled together"... mostly your comments about it got me thinking. I knew that it was what intrigued me about some of the famous fashion bloggers before I even started my blog (Atlantic-Pacific, Girl with Curves, Big Beauty...). I think I started appreciating details on others much before I started experimenting with them myself. But I like "big strokes" look sometimes too - color blocking with minimum details is also cool. Layering is a detailed look in itself - it's like built-in details. It's a great topic and much to discuss, you are right! xxx

  6. Natalia, you are such a talented , creative soul and your artistic talent shines through as you create your outfits with such detail. So lovely to see and hear of your mother , our mothers so often shape the way of we look at presenting ourselves.
    I enjoyed your little sketch and will pop over to your other blog.

    1. Thank you so much, Jill! You are very, very kind! Your words touched me deeply.

  7. Our blogspots should be our place to express any side to our creative make-up. It is a vulnerable place though too. Which is a good thing! That's where we stretch even more.
    When I first started blogging it was my art blog. I created one because I was inspired by another artist who had one. From there my art projects and creations grew and changed so rapidly it was astounding. The blog somehow gave me something to be accountable to. It wasn't for the comments, but rather it was a substance I could see and re-read. Proving to me my growth, thus inspiring me even more. Sadly, 2 years ago I accidentally deleted all the photos from google+ so I deleted that art blog that I'd had for 5 years. It was somewhat of a legacy of mine and I tell you, I sat in front of the computer and literally cried. The only thing that got me going again was realizing that I still had me. And many of the originals too. So we never lose that, thank goodness!

    You know what I like best about your accessories? That touch of tribal, the colorful, and the ethnic pieces. You have an appreciation for costume jewelry that actually has some substance. I'm like you too when it comes to fine jewelry. I've never owned a diamond, or care to. My wedding ring is a simple silver band. Cheap and it goes with everything. Just like me! haha

    1. I am sorry that you lost your art blog - 5 years is a lot, and I can imagine how it feels! You said it so beautifully and you are so right - after all our losses, this realization comes that we still have ourselves, and that's what actually matters.

      Thank you for pointing out that choose costume jewelry with "substance", it is how it feels to me too - it matters to me that pieces have stories to tell, have soul. Very insightful, Joni!

  8. Wow you sure look like your Mom!

    What an interesting difficult story.

    I have to pop over to the art blog. I do find that sharing what I create is much more scary than simply sharing photos of myself and blabbing about it.


    1. Writing is the scariest thing to share for me. Nothing else comes even close to that. Some of the posts here were very vulnerable to share too. Showing clothes - not so much. :)

  9. Hi Natalia,
    Like all the others i missed your art blog - i will have a look as well -
    My mom had always a love for clothes, earrings, necklaces and all that was trendy-
    She was very daring my Mom in her choices,but i loved it! I guess i take after her in that sense
    She tells me my over the top sometimes, it makes me laugh cause in ther time she was over the top!
    I should have a conversation with her about that, but she likes how daring and unconventional i can be sometimes -
    I love your family pic!
    I'm back from the honeymoon, we had a fabulous time, now i'm trying to get back in the swing of things


    1. So glad to see you back!! I would love to read a story about your Mom and how she was daring in her choices! Mothers influence us with or without their understanding, in so many ways! And we influence our daughters in ways we don't even know.

  10. I'm another who has missed your art blog, of course I will be having a look! you really are a creative soul Natalia, the sketch is amazing! - you are so like your beautiful Mum, I'm fascinated how we are influenced by these wonderful strong women, my Mum has about 5 wardrobes (I know!) packed with treasure, she's tiny so nothing for me but Abby the eldest loves to find treasure in them, she wears very little make-up but her hair! my goodness it's impeccable! I always enjoy recaps of your outfits, you really are flawless!! and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, I do hope you and Anya are feeling better x x x

  11. Wonderful post natalia. I thought I had lost you, but I got you back, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh
    Thank you sooooooooooo much for being part of the Share-in-Style family.

  12. Natalia , I love all of the details you have displayed some sumptuously on this post . You certainly have a high learning curve, but I think you excellent sense of style come from your creative self..I can not wait to check out your sister blog. I also love art, and made a painting last year. I also used to design jewelry amd make mosaics.
    I think it is wonderful to not crave possessions, but to enjoy what you have .
    I see that you resemble your very pretty mother, and that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, but I am glad you wear lipstick !
    XX, Elle

  13. Wow Natalia you are such a gifted woman. Love your sketches and outfits. You are one in a million. xoxo