The Bette Davis Club: a BBRBF Book Review and the perfect red hat

The Bette Davis Club

Welcome to February’s edition of the BBRBF Book Club! My apologies for being late this month; lots of things happened in a short amount of time, and I didn’t get time to sit and read as I normally would! As always, check out Sara, Noelle, Kat, and Helene for their reviews, and be sure to welcome Laci and Justyna as our newest wonderful members! Our little club is growing! If you want to join us, be sure to let us know. Next month we are reading Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko.

As usual, here’s the synopsis: “When Margo’s niece becomes a runaway bride — taking with her a family heirloom– her mother offers Margo fifty grand to retrieve her spoiled daughter and the invaluable property she stole. Together with the jilted and justifiably crabby fiance, Margo sets out in a borrowed 1955 red MG on a cross-country chase and finds herself along the way”

I actually did not intend to use this outfit for this review. I had shot this dress and my newest vintage hat (which I found on Etsy for ten dollars!) on Valentine’s day, but then by the time I’d half cooked up an outfit to go with The Bette Davis Club, it rained. However, this dress goes remarkably well with the yellow-and-red cover. We’ll just pretend I’m the human incarnation of Margo’s father’s classic 1955 MG TF. 

Now, I have a confession to make: I am still not done reading this book. I’ve been trying all day, but toddlers, man. I am, according to Kindle, 65% done and likely will finish tonight, at which point perhaps I’ll update this post with my review of the latter half!

For the former half, however, I can offer a little review!

I found it hard to get into at first. It is the same quirky style of writing that many modern authors have taken on, with overly witty quips at first. When I began, I’ll be blunt, I thought I was probably going to hate it. I got tired of this style of writing with Swamplandia!, and was dreading getting through this novel.

However, after a few chapters the characters began to grow on me. I got used to the author’s present-tense style of writing (which is confusing at times) and started to invest in the adventure of Margo and Tully as they chase after his ex-bride. While I do think that their relationship felt a little stilted and awkward at first, and not in a purposeful way but as if the author just wasn’t quite sure how to put them together naturally, it started to smooth out as they hit roadblock after roadblock in their search. With time, they grew to understand each other, and it’s almost as if the author grew with them.

I love how Margo’s carefree and careless personality clashes with Tully’s more sedate and sensible one, how they contrast between Margo being somewhat of a floater and Tully being established in life. I like that you can see Tully begin to care about Margo as a friend, through his bugging her to quit smoking, and Margo’s reciprocation of that friendship through realizing he’s not just a jilted lover, but his own man.

Since I don’t feel like I can give a full review not having finished the book, I’m going to leave this post a bit sparse so I can update it when I’m finally done. I apologize for this half-review! And for being so late with my post. Hopefully next month won’t be so scattered for me.

But now let’s chat about this outfit, and most specifically, this hat. I feel like this ensemble is also so very apt for this review, even though by accident, because early on in the book Margo and Tully discuss the various value that things have. Some are valuable because they can bring in a lot of cash. Others are valuable because of sentimentality. Others, as Margo muses her friend Dottie told her, give the finder a sense almost of (she very bluntly put it) arousal, a rush of feeling even though there’s no sentimentality or large sums of money involved.

This hat, for me, holds the latter value. While I was browsing Etsy for the perfect hat to pair with the lipstick dress — which, by the way, arrived too late and was never marked as shipped, nor was it shipped via priority mail as claimed in their shop, and they charge almost $2 extra if you require a tracking number. Which was on my box when it arrived and is free of charge via USPS mail. And, the hat arrived smelling like cigarette smoke and heavy perfume, which was not disclosed in the listing. So… avoid this seller!

Anyway, as I was browsing for the perfect hat to pair with the lipstick dress, I stumbled upon this beauty and felt a rush of excitement. It was listed as a brand new 1950’s fascinator and the seller was letting it go for only $10!

Upon arrival — which was swift, taking only three days to arrive — I found it to be even more beautiful than it looked. It is in absolutely perfect condition. I did some research though, and discovered that it’s possibly actually 1980’s or newer, which doesn’t really bother me. The seller likely assumed 1950’s based on the look of the hat (something I have done on occasion until I am corrected by research) and I don’t believe they meant to mislead anyone. If I am correct in my research on the tag, the designer, B Michael, began designing hats under Oscar de la Renta, Nolan Miller, and Louis Faurad for the show Dynasty in the 1980’s, and following his success there decided to launch his own line, which came out in 1999.

Although, I have found several listings on Etsy and eBay with this same tag, which reads b. Michael New York and looks like this, and I’m not 100% sure whether this is the same B Michael, or whether there was indeed a vintage designer from whom this and other hats sprung. If anyone knows, please do tell me!

The feeling I had placing this gorgeous accessory on my head was thrilling. Ever since making myself wear a hat out in public, I’ve felt an insatiable desire to have the perfect hat for every outfit. The wall in my room has quickly become a place to hang beautiful head toppers, and with the help of some friends and some excellent finds online, I’m starting to have quite the collection! This one, though, tops all the rest. It is such a beautifully constructed piece, like art for your head.

And, when I read the passage in the book of the owner of Mommie Dearest going on about the artifacts from the stars and how he felt about them, I could so relate! Do any of you have feelings about things that maybe aren’t super valuable to anyone else, but for which you feel a thrill? For me, it’s vintage pieces, or items that just have a story behind them. I love the history of pre-loved clothes and it’s such a thrill to find beautiful pieces that were once a part of someone’s life once upon a time!

Dress, (old) c/o eShakti | shoes, thrifted | hat, Etsy from MyShop1020 | Necklace, grandma’s | earrings, vintage | Gloves, vintage/old

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The BBRBF Book Club: Plaid dress, vintage hat, and Stardust

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Stardust

Welcome to another edition of the BBRBF Book Club! If you’re not sure what that is, check out this post! If you are, you can poke around on all of my past reviews here, and keep an eye on Sara, Noelle, Helene, and Kat for their reviews of this month’s choice, Stardust by Niel Gaiman! And join us next month for Helene’s pick, The Bette Davis Club!

As always, the synopsis before we get into my review(via Goodreads):

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.”

Stardust | eyreeffect.com

I had high hopes for this novel.

Not only was it my own pick, but Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and his novel Neverwhere is one of my favorite books (alongside Jane Eyre, and Empire of the Wolves. I have a very eclectic favorites list). I had heard that Stardust was supposed to be one of his best novels, so of course I expected nothing less than excellent. I really enjoyed the movie, and was very eager to dig into the book and eat up another fantastic fairytale by my favorite author.

However.

Oh, it pains me to say this.

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I dragged through Stardust.

I felt as though I was slogging through the mud with this book, and I realize now that my review may be harsher than normal because I had such high hopes. But Stardust left me feeling the way no author wants a reader to feel at the end: apathetic.

I won’t bother to tell you the story because I am sure by now most people have read the novel or seen the movie or both. And, if you haven’t seen the film or read the words, I’ll let you discover them for yourself. But I started it feeling bored, I crawled my way to the middle feeling impatient, and I ended it not caring. I didn’t really care very much about Tristran Thorn and his journey through the fairy world in search of the Star. I never got to know him; everything that happened to him should have been exciting and propelling and intriguing, but I think Gaiman spent so much time curating the action that the character development was lacking. Stardust | eyreeffect.com

Tristran Thorn is on a mission for his supposed one true love; sure, that should be exciting. The Star hates Tristran Thorn — that should have added for some good chemistry and friction between them. The witch wants to take the Star’s heart, there’s a unicorn and a lion, there’s a sky-ship, there’s magic and witchcraft and everything one needs to create a fantastic world… except that spark in the characters to take them from words on a page to friends you root for or villains you hate.

And I am so sad to apply so much censure to this book, being the brainchild of my favorite author whose other books I have loved. But that’s just how it is. I didn’t feel anything for the characters, the storyline was somehow both filled with action and mystery yet also lackluster and predictable, and the writing was descriptive but less imaginative than I have come to expect of Gaiman’s works.

So, sadly, this may be one book that I’ll forego in favor of the movie. The only other book this has ever happened with was The Princess Bride. What do you think of these two titles, if you’ve read them?

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Plaid Muxxn Dress Review

On to happier things, such as this dress! Ever since I used one of these photos as my profile picture (as I’ve had this outfit shot for far longer than I’ve had the book read) I’ve been bombarded with questions about the dress. It’s high time I did a proper review on a garment!

First of all, this dress is from a brand called MUXXN on Amazon. It’s one of the more affordable reproduction dresses, from which I also got my Belle dress for Halloween. Much like the Belle dress, the fabric is stretchy and comfortable to wear and the construction is fairly good considering the price point!

Stardust | eyreeffect.com

It fits me true to size; while I measure 41 in the bust, 31 or 32 in the waist (it changes depending on the week, ha!) and 48 in the hips, I usually fit a bodice that is 40-31 the best. I bought a size Large, which according to their size chart is a 38-40 bust and a 30-32 waist. You can’t really tell here, but because of the darts and seaming, the bust is just a tad bit loose – especially right where the seam is, which I would prefer to be more fitted and perhaps lower so that my chest fit squarely into the breast region of the dress — but otherwise it fits perfectly.

I’m especially impressed by the shoulders and sleeves. Being a woman with fairly good muscle tone in my arms and wider shoulders than most, I often have issues with long sleeved garments being too tight in the arms (this eShakti dress, made to fit exactly, is a good example) and shoulders, thus constricting my  movement to about half the reach I could normally have. This dress, however, has plenty of room to move about! No constriction whatsoever whichever way I reach. I appreciate that the sleeves are neither baggy nor restricting.

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My only complaints, and they are small issues, are: the thread used to sew the dress together is white, so if stretched too far (hello, large meals on holidays) you can see the thread at the seams in stark contrast to the darkness of the fabric.

The loop on the belt, which holds the excess in place, is not attached to the belt itself and falls off when you open up the belt and store it (I hang mine by their buckles). I lost it for a bit. A dab of hot glue will fix this, though (or sewing it on, though I likely won’t do that because I’m too lazy).

And, the “belt loops” on either side are those dreadfully flimsy thread-type loops, and one snapped the first day I wore the dress.

All in all, none of these little things would have stopped me purchasing the dress, and I am incredibly happy with how it fits, how it looks, and how insanely comfortable it is! While I have heard that these less expensive reproduction companies can have drastic sizing differences with their garments even within the same dress, I so far have no complaints owning two MUXXN dresses (and having tried on a third, though in the end it was not quite what I wanted for the event.)

So that’s it for this post! At the moment you are reading this I am preparing for a four-day vacation (or perhaps am already gone, if you see this late) to Leavenworth with my husband’s family. I am excited to share photos so be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram as I’ll be updating with snippets there!

Dress, Amazon (here) | hat, vintage, bought from Hailey | shoes, thrifted (similar) | brooch, grandma’s ( same here – with earrings! – and same here and here) | gloves, vintage | purse, vintage (similar here) | tights, Target | earrings, grandma’s (similar here)

Stardust | eyreeffect.com

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