Seafaring Inspired Fashion

(My pieces pictured: jacket from Free People, pocket watch from a boutique, Pendant from Joann Fabrics)

It seems like every summer, nautical styles come back. But now we are seeing romantic and billowing styles a la Pirates of the Caribbean at Fall/Winter Fashion Week 2020. The fun part of seafaring style is that it’s rooted in practicality. And then there are the basics of it: stripes and navy.

The thing that started this all off for me was Max Mara’s Ready-to-Wear Fall 2020 collection, full of “romantic flounces and frills” with their coats. A growing trend for this fall is oversized outwear in classic shapes with nice, big sleeves. Some of my favorites (pictured above) are a striped cape with a toggle closure and a full-length shaggy striped coat, something that I actually have in my closet right now!

The reason nautical-inspired clothing can be loved and worn year-round is because there is a focus on natural materials and classic shapes, which can be translated throughout the seasons. Many seafaring styles can be traced by to the British Royal Navy during the Victorian era. Naval uniforms were a sign of loyalty and bravery, things we still associate it with today.

The striped Breton shirt is another staple in the “sailor” look, which actually originates from France. Coco Chanel was the one who brought the style into our everyday wear. Her collection from 1917 featured the first striped shirt — actually a men’s shirt — which started the classic striped shirt in women’s fashion.

Wide-legged trousers, cable-knit sweaters, pea-coats and light capes are all staples in this style of dress. Many preppy nautical collections have symbols like anchors or crabs, maybe even fish, but what I have in mind is a subtle, less statement-grabbing look. The only pop of anything in the Max Mara collection, for example, is the stripes! The key to get a luxurious look is to keep the palette natural, similar to how the navy, cream and tan colors are tones that we would see by the seaside. Many times there are neck ties, but those are quite preppy. I prefer a beanie, like the one Bill Murray wears in The Life Aquatic (2004), which is quirkier.

My favorite classic seaside look is a striped shirt tucked into high-waisted, wide-legged trousers. But there are fun ways to experiment! Keeping to the basics lets this trend stay classic.

There are barely ever dresses in this style. This is probably for the same reason that shoes in the seafaring style are more for utility than glamour: this look is inspired by sailors and does best to keep to trousers and comfortable footwear. Many wear sandals during the summer, but I love the idea of these pieces with boots.

Vivienne Westwood RTW Fall 2016

Vivienne Westwood did a collection is 2016 that was less sportswear and more velvet pirate luxe, like an expensive Captain Jack Sparrow. So what are the staples in this look? Probably:

  • Beanies
  • Billowing pieces
  • Stripes
  • High-waisted trousers
  • Neutral colors
  • Natural fabrics

Let me know what you think about this look. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I hope to wear this stuff from the spring all the way until the fall.

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The Disasters by M.K. England {Book Review}

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So its not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.”

This book is a LOT of fun! Full of action, believable characters and a plot that leaves you hanging on every page. I absolutely loved it.

There are a lot of typical crushes and curses for a teen book, which I actually enjoyed.

I got this from the library before we all got locked in during the pandemic, and while it’s not a book I would typically read or buy, I was pleasantly surprised to be as into it as I was.

This book starts with main character Nax failing out of the academy that he’s dreamed of getting a pilot’s license from. This is his only chance to explore colonies on planets beyond earth. Nax meets up with a fellow cast of failures who didn’t make it into the academy when their ship crashes. This starts their lives as convicts, with them plotting to prove that they aren’t the criminals that everyone thinks that they are. Pulling it off is going to be difficult with all of them being wanted by police.

I never take a chance with Science Fiction and this time I’m so pleased that I did.

Something the author did a good job with is having a great comedic voice with main character Nax. There was a lot of back and forth about who out of his new friends he was attracted to. But once that gets on track with the story playing out, Nax is the glue that holds his group of friends together, and I loved him.

Bottom line is that this book is a thrill ride, with a quick plot and action-packed for Science Fiction lovers, and the author never talks down to the reader. I loved it, and I’m so happy I had it to escape into during the mess that is COVID-19.

You will like this book if you enjoy: teens in space, non-binary authors, LGBT fantasy and sci-fi, galaxies, diverse characters and space operas.

Check out my Goodreads account here to see what else I’m reading!

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In Bloom {Style Diaries}

(Polka dot skirt and pearl earrings from H&M, floral skirt and hair accessories from TJMaxx)

Spring is the season of blooming…I’ve put together a post celebrating my recent favorites with the inspiration being flowers. Photographs above belong to me, but the ones below will have links to their sources. Here’s what I’ve been looking at for inspiration this season.

(Floral wallpaper from Etsy)
(Full Bloom embroidered dress from Chicache)
(Margot Wren strap mini dress from Auguste)

Here are my favorite flower-inspired novels:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire
Doctor Marigold by Charles Dickens
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

My favorite films with beautiful blooms:
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Memoirs of a Geisha
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
The Hunger Games

Music inspired by spring blooms:
Down in the Valley by The Head and the Heart
Dead Sea by The Lumineers
These Waters by Ben Howard
Little Giant by Roo Panes
Who Says by John Mayer
Amy by Ryan Adams
White Daisy Passing by Rocky Volato
Tiger Striped Sky by Roo Panes
Halcyon by The Paper Kites
Like Vineyards by LITTLE INDIA
Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka
(22 million points to me for not listing Bon Iver songs, as I always do…)

Taken by me in spring of 2019…

3 Books to Break a Reading Slump

Winter is the perfect time of year to curl up with a book. But sometimes I get in a rut of reading the same kind of book over and over. And worse, sometimes I keep picking up books that I’m unable to finish. There are times when that’s due to burnout — I read a lot of books, and often. But there are magical times, times when I happen to pick up the *perfect* book at the *perfect* time, and alas! I’m hooked. Reading comes a lot easier after these kinds of miracles. All that’s needed is a small dosage of inspiration before you continue on your reading challenge. I’ve picked three that did the trick for me.

  1. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. I read this book at the end of last summer and I hated putting it down. There was that horrible pull of wanting to keep reading and wanting to read slower so that the story could last longer. I have fond memories of sitting out on a blanket in the summer sun, gripping this thrilling mystery. Ruth Ware is a hugely popular new mystery writer, and her newest book is my favorite yet. This is the story of a nanny with a mysterious new job in the highlands of Scotland. The seemingly perfect family live in a renovated “smart house” and are desperate for a nanny for their young children. But the technologically advanced house proves to be terrifying and destructive to the family and the narrator once she arrives. A terrible crime is committed, and this reads like a modern-day Agatha Christie story that you’ll be hooked on from page one.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a book for those who like drama and tragedy. It’s topped my list for Saddest Book Ever and I return to it every so often to remember what struck me the first time around. The story starts at a boarding school in the English countryside where children are instructed and trained in the usual way, only something is slightly off. They have almost no contact with the outside world. The truth of why they are at school is scathing and horrific, and the story twists into one of love, friendship and humanity. This is a very nostalgic book, one that you’ll be surprised that you can relate to. Be prepared to cry.

3. Wildwood by Colin Meloy. This is a children’s fiction, for fans of Lemony Snicket and Cornelia Funke. The story is about a girl named Prue whose brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows and taken into Wildwood, a magical wilderness. In order to rescue him she has to brave the creatures of the forest. A great adventure story with lovable characters, this is great to bring me back to the spirit of reading again. This is a large book with a lot of pages, but the reading goes quick. Truly one of my favorite children’s books.

I know how it is when you want to fall in love with a book but nothing is hitting you just right. Hopefully these recommendations will be a nice guide to finding your next favorite book. I’d love to know if anyone reading this has read any of these books and what they’re thoughts were. If you have your own suggestions, send me a message on Instagram!

You can also see more of what I’m reading on Goodreads, and some more content of mine is on Tumblr.

Educated by Tara Westover {Book Review}

This book was simultaneously beautiful and stressful. Once I started it I truly couldn’t put it down! While I know that everything in the book was true, some parts were so unbelievable that I felt like I was reading fiction.

The hard work, the abuse, the hope, the defeat (and the whole time wishing that this girl will see the bigger picture and try to get out of the damn junkyard). Each chapter broke my heart.

5 Stars for this amazing book!

FIVE.

STARS.

I grew up far away from Idaho. I do, however, live in a rural area. What I loved was how Tara balanced the beauty of the landscape in her rural town with the distressing things that happened to her there throughout her life. This is something I can understand, as coming from a small town means sometimes feeling trapped and other times (even on the same day) admiring the beauty of the land. This book hits a nerve and I felt myself gripping it, marveling at how any of this could have happened to one person. Westover is a beautiful writer. All of the events were woven together in an intricate way that kept you on your toes and then still allowed reader to have some relief. While reading it I ended up talking about it to everyone I encountered throughout my day. It sticks. My inability to put it down stayed until the very end, something that isn’t always the case for me. I know that I’m not alone here. I had people in public places stop me when they saw me reading it to tell me that the book had changed them.

I should say that I’m not very well educated on the Mormon faith. But I was happy that Westover made the distinction that what her parents taught her and her siblings was not the usual followings of the Mormon faith. As a reader it was clear to me that whatever her father believed in was some sort of mask for his own prejudices and outdated ideas of how men and women should perform in the home. Because she is able to see that clearly now and not then is heartbreaking, but it explains her painful journey.

This book is being compared to other great memoirs, like The Glass Castle, but it’s hard for me to comment because I have yet to read that book, but it’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read.

There were only a few times where the writing was hard for me to read, and I may have skimmed, but this was mostly due to upsetting content.

I will say that because of the heaviness of the subjects discussed, some people might want to read the book in incriminates…I know a few people who did that because there were parts that were difficult to get through.

A big emphasis of this book is her family’s church and faith, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it or understanding the meaning behind it. Seeing Tara’s relationship with religion change as her scope of the world widens is an important shift that I was interested in analyzing.. This is a book that deals with everything from spirituality to teaching yourself algebra to scholarships and academic achievements. And even though it is clear that her new life after higher education is more healthy than the life she grew up in, it isn’t difficult to understand why she was conflicted about leaving. Family is complicated and messy, and Westover proves that strength sometimes means loving people and still leaving them behind.

Winter Writing Retreat in the Berkshires

This past weekend, a friend of mine agreed to come with me on a writing retreat in the Berkshires. We’d been talking about doing something like this for awhile, as we’re both writers and we’re trying to finish our first novels. I booked very cheap rooms awhile ago and planned to have two days to work only on writing before my grad school classes began.

Something we did not expect (but should have) was a snowstorm. Of course, the rooms were booked for January, a prime snowy time in New England. But since before Christmas, the weather has been so mild that I completely disregarded any idea of bad weather. As our trip crept closer, so did an oncoming storm, and the forecast didn’t look great. We decided to still embark on our trip and check into our room early and see how bad the snow would be.

The photo above was taken as soon as we arrived at the hotel and the snow was already falling with heavy, fat flakes. We stayed at the Eastover Estate and Retreat in Lenox, Massachusetts, and it was clearly the off season. This estate does a lot more business in the summer when it hosts large holistic retreats, so we got the sense that we were the first guests to stay there in a little while. We also got our key to room 13, which is unlucky, so it was called “12 A.” Not spooky at all!

So what was it like writing in a mostly empty mansion during a snowstorm? It was awesome. Sure, it wasn’t like staying at a five-star resort. But we had a clean and warm room, and we bought food at the grocery store to sustain us over the weekend. Because there weren’t many other guests (only one other room was booked besides ours) we had most of the grounds to ourselves. This made for a quiet and introspective time, a perfect way to work on personal projects.

Here’s what our days looked like: We woke up early, ate breakfast, did some writing before breaking in the afternoon, then we wrote a little bit before eating, and then we wrote again late into the night. Sometimes our writing sessions including a lot more talking about our stories or brainstorming than actually getting words down. But I got through editing a chapter and having it ready for proofreading, which I consider a success. Also, we didn’t kill each other with an axe a la Jack Nicholson in The Shining, so all was well.

I truly believe that the energy of a location can change the way that one works. Just getting out of my normal environment and going somewhere far away (High up in the mountains! Secluded and beautiful!) took me out of normal writing patterns. I worked really hard to look at my story with new eyes, to see where there were cracks or plot holes.

But a change in location (especially somewhere inspiring) also changed the way that I wrote. There’s something about the atmosphere in the mansion that we spent time in. The walls — lined with books and marble statues and grand fireplaces — undoubtably had stories inside of them.

I only worked on a portion of my novel while writing there, but it’s comforting to me to look back at my book and know that a part of it belongs to this place where we spent a few days typing away in the empty halls.

I’ve only just returned from this weekend getaway, but I still can recall vivid snippets of moments: snow dusting by the large mansion windows, mountains large and impressive in the distance, refilling our cups with sweet tea again and again and again, sinking into the leather couches where we would spend hours talking through books and characters, classical music drifting through the empty rooms, the cold biting my cheeks as we trekked (in snow pants) back and forth across the grounds. I want these things to stay with me, but I fear they will fade in my memory, so I want to record them here to look back on.

While it was surely unusual, I am grateful for just a couple of days spent in the Berkshires at this estate up in the mountains. I’m also grateful that my friend Melissa was willing to come with me and endure the cold, the threat of the snowstorm, the hours of writing, the portioning of water and reapplication of chapstick. And while it was weird (our unlucky room 13, the only groundskeeper lurking around at night while we wrote, Clair De Lune mysteriously played every time we walked into the mansion) it was an adventure, something exciting and invigorating.

If my novel ever gets published, I believe a part of this weekend will live inside of its pages.

Assured and Alluring {Book Review of The Familiars by Stacey Halls}

Here is my book review for The Familiars by Stacey Halls.

 ‘I bet you are not afraid of anything’, I said.
‘Of course I am,’ she said, and she pulled at a loose thread in her apron. ‘I am afraid of lies.’

As someone who has always been interested in witchcraft, The Familiars does a great job of incorporating lore and tales into a historical fiction. Here is a quote from the book that explains familiars very well:

“Fleetwood have you knowledge of familiar spirits?” I shook my head. Then I will direct you to the book of Leviticus. In short, it’s the Devil in disguise. An instrument, if you will, to enlarge his kingdom…they can appear as anything: an animal, a child. It appears to her when she needs it to do her bidding. A familiar is the surest sign of a witch.”

One of my favorite parts of this book is that all of the characters are presented as well-meaning and end up having ulterior motives. Even Fleetwood, our main character, has conflicted reasons for wanting safety for her midwife, which makes for a flawed and relatable character. Because having a child is the most important thing that a woman can do during this time period, Fleetwood is consumed with her success of becoming a mother, and she needs her midwife Alice in order to delivery the baby safely. And even though our main character is often selfish and childish, I found myself rooting for her and her child, which makes for strong and interesting writing. I found myself sitting right alongside the characters at the edge of my seat as I waited to find out where the book would take me.

I think this book accurately represents the fear of the witch trials in England in the 1600’s. The Pendle witches that are characters in this story were real women that were accused and hung during this time period, giving the fiction a chilling thread of truth.

Reading historical fiction that is woven with pieces of truth like specific names and events is a favorite for me, especially with darker subject matter. This book focuses on a witch trial in English history, with twelve women who were accused of murder via witchcraft. Parts of the book actually made me squirm because of how stifled women were back then and how unfairly they were punished and persecuted.

This is a gripping story that is beautifully written with subject matter that’s interesting and layered. Even if you don’t usually read historical fiction but are interested in witchcraft or the witch trials, I believe this will satisfy you. I felt mystified while turning the pages.

I gave this 5 stars over on Goodreads. Check out what other books I’ve reviewed lately!