Hello, hello! I’ve been working on some new pieces for the shop and wanted to give a little update of what’s been added lately. There’s some colorful bead necklaces with vintage and new beads that are perfect for summer. I also have some fun bottle opener and key necklaces made with vintage pendants and reclaimed chains. You will surely be the hit of all your pool parties and summer bbq’s with a bottle opener at the ready ;) There’s also some new vintage and a Last Chance Sale section!
Are you guys ready for the Mad Men finale tonight? I have mixed feelings about it, but always feel sentimental when good things come to an end. Maybe when it’s over people will forget about midcentury furniture so I can go back to finding things at the thrift store again! ;)
You guys! Today I’m excited to have an interview with my friend Marlen from Messages on a Napkin! She has recently released her poetry book Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, and she’s here today to talk to us about style, writing, and pursuing those creative passions :)
Let’s start by getting to know you! Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Marlen (read it like “Marilyn”- my parents are foreign, I have to deal) and I’m a writer in Chicago. I’ve had a subscription to Vogue since I was 16, so that gives you a bit of an idea how much I love fashion :) I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, but I’ve always loved the way that clothes help create stories. How a maxi dress can whisper around your ankles while you walk and give you romance, or how a certain pattern can catch your whole personality as you put it over your head. It’s a really cool thing, to know how to invite people into your self by picking out what you wear.
As for me, I busy my days by writing fashion columns for Bustle, put up my own advice on my vintage style blog Messages on a Napkin, and I pen poems on the side and create books as a passion project.
Why did you start blogging? Was it more for sharing your style or as a writing outlet?
At first it was all about writing. I’d put up outfits I wore but I’d mostly try to write funny stories about my day, getting comfortable with how to order around words. But after awhile, the fashion took over. I really, really liked developing my style, and I wanted to help others muck through that tricky stage, too.
Your series “What to Wear to a” is one of my favorites- the looks and activities are so creative! What is your process for creating these looks?
I usually start with one vintage item and go from there. I try to look at the dress or the skirt and imagine where I’d like to wear it if I had it hanging in my closet right now. Would it be fun to sip jalapeno margaritas at a beach bar in this, or is it more for a book swap on a Saturday?
It’s kind of like when you’re getting dressed to go out: Sometimes one specific dress is just perfect for that taco dinner with friends, or would make you feel right at home at a Bavarian brunch. After that I start building the look with modern, trendy pieces, showing how easy it is to mix vintage with our different styles!
Would you say your personal style and/or view of fashion has evolved while blogging?
Blogging has led me to be more playful with my style. Before it’d be sort of a stressful thing, figuring out how to create a pretty outfit. I’d worry over the fact I didn’t have the right shoes, or wish I had a better jacket or the perfect knit scarf. But it’s not really about that. It’s about playing. Think back to when you were a kid and you’d dive into your mom’s closet, putting on her evening dresses and her cage-net hats. Each piece was special, and it was so exciting to put it on your shoulders. That’s what it’s all about- finding looks that make your heart happy. That’s at least what I came to figure out :)
You recently released your book Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, tell us about it!
So this is that passion project I’ve been talking about! It’s a poetry ebook with over 70 poems and verses moving between the feelings of loving someone, feeling loss, trusting the night sky, losing your light, resolving that hurt is beautiful, and finding compassion in a stranger’s smile. It’s all about the two different sides to us: We’re all a little bit selfish, a little bit mean and uncaring. But then we all have this wonderful light. We’re kind and open and just want to find a little bit of beauty to hold on to. We have this light we want someone to notice, and we wait for that moment when you can share it. Each of the poems touch on that, swinging from happy moments to sad, lonely ones.
If you want to get the first ten poems as a mini ebook to check it out, just sign up here!
What do you like about writing poetry?
Before this book, I actually wrote a whole novel. A whopping 350 pages. And…I hated every single second of it, haha. I had ideas and pretty paragraphs, but it was torture trying to spin them out into chapters or pages. There were dark moments where I thought I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I would dread coming back to that white paper. But poetry? It just flies out. I don’t have to unravel anything: It’s quick, and honest, and cuts and kisses where it needs to. I absolutely love it.
Most of us with creative pursuits struggle with bouts of creative block, or even just getting started on our projects! What helped you when writing your book?
This was a long time coming and I literally put it off for years. Years you guys! But after awhile, I decided to be honest with myself. Being something creative isn’t easy- there’s a lot of struggle and competition and almost no one cares about your work. Not in the beginning, anyway. But if you waste any more time, it’ll only take longer. So I decided to push myself and just start, no matter how big that task felt.
And honestly, I just did it in baby steps. I’d make myself write just one poem a day, and I wouldn’t let myself think of the finish line. Just one poem a day. If I didn’t feel creative or didn’t want anything to do with a pen and notebook that day, I’d tell myself to do it for five minutes. Just five minutes and I could cross off the task. It’s a nice trick because in the end yo usually get in a solid thrity if not more. Starting is always the hardest- that’s really the only hurdle you need to jump.
Ernest Hemingway had the Mojito, Truman Capote the Screwdriver- what is your cocktail of choice?
Haha ok, best question ever! Mine is the Pimms Cup, for sure. Is that too girly? Whatever, I could drink a pitcher of that happily.
Where can we find you?
Poetry book page
Happy Earth Day! This year I’m partnering with Savers to talk about thrifting, one of the most fun ways to go green! Savers keeps 650 million pounds of reusable goods out of landfills each year, making them one of the largest textile recyclers in the world. When you donate and shop at thrift stores, you are helping reduce the amount of waste and not contributing to the impact of new product production.
Armed with a $100 gift certificate to Savers, I was challenged to see just how much I could find to spruce up my wardrobe. Talk about a shopping spree! From one thrift store outing I was able to put together 3 entire looks, including shoes (but minus some accessories).
Thrifted: Coach loafers, floral jumper, striped tank top
Thrifted: J Crew gingham dress, vintage oxford shoes
vintage bow tie: estate sale
Thrifted: Floral summer dress, Keds tennis shoes, silk hair scarf
Look 4 & 5
Thrifted: Flamingo blouse (new with tags!) & Hawaiian dress
necklace: estate sale
Now let’s talk about just how much $100 can buy you at the thrift store. When shopping most retail, I would have to choose between a single dress or pair of shoes, but at Savers I was able to get a whole new-to-me summer wardrobe. We’re talking:
*4 pairs of shoes
*4 vintage cocktail glasses
*1 vintage coffee mug
April is Earth Month, and it’s the perfect time to do some spring cleaning! Donate all the stuff that you no longer wear or use, and know that you are keeping those things out of landfills. In addition, each of your donations contributes to Savers partnerships with a non-profit in your community. Go ahead and reward yourself with some shopping while you’re there ;)
Last week I filled in at the office I used to work at, and while I still stand by NOTHING being better than working from home, it was fun to have an excuse to get dressed each day. There’s really not a dress code for the design department there, so that means I could have fun dressing up, without the pressure of looking super “business-y” (which is not my forte.).
vintage dress: gift
shoes: Swedish Hasbeens
This vintage dress was a gift from a friend (hi Adrienne!) a few years ago, but I realized that I’ve never posted it on the blog before, and that needed to change.
Do you have a dress code where you work? What’s the worst uniform you’ve ever had to wear? Mine was definitely the tux shirt, bow-tie, & cummerbund I wore while working at Hollywood Video- the fanciest minimum wage look ever ;)
Summer’s coming quickly and my focus has turned from boots to bathing suits. Like most desert dwellers in the summer, if I’m not inside taking advantage of air conditioning, I’m in the water- so a lot of time is spent in swimsuits. I love how a one-piece not only works for swimming, but looks cute as a top when paired with skirts and shorts- perfect for summertime lounging.
I recently got this retro one piece from Red Dolly Swimwear. As much as I love vintage, I’ve never found a vintage suit that works for me, or that I’ve felt comfortable in. This is one thing that I totally prefer the vintage inspired- and Heather nails it! From high waisted bikinis to one pieces and matching headbands, in polka dots, stripes, and fun fruit prints- all with a more modern, comfortable fit.
Swimsuit: c/o Red Dolly Swimwear // skirt & hat: thrifted
These photos were taken right before dying my hair and are the only record of me as a (mostly) bleached blonde. I gotta say, that was as much of a change for me as the pink :) Between the pink hair and the pink bathing suit, you would’ve never guessed that I didn’t go near the color a few years ago. Proof that your tastes can always change if you let them!
Every summer deserves a new swimsuit, don’t you think? I vote for treating yourself to something handmade and supporting an Etsy artist! She’s even got your lil’ babes covered with the cutest line for kiddos too ;)
Follow Red Dolly Swimwear for cute photos, styling inspiration, and new products!