Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

I grabbed this book at a garage sale because 1. I liked the cover, 2. I’m looking for new books to read and can’t get to the library often, and 3. I very quickly skimmed the first few sentences of the summary and it sounded interesting.

I started reading it that night, and was immediately struck by how very similar to Jane Eyre it was, which confused me for a second as the part of the summary I’d read didn’t mention it being a retelling. So I scanned the back again, and there at the top as a review for the book was the statement: “In The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey offers a new telling of Jane Eyre, for which no contemporary writer is better suited.”

Right.Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

I have mentioned before that Jane Eyre is my absolute favorite book, so once I knew that this was supposed to be a modern retelling, my inner critic was alerted and I read this book with a very judgmental eye. Probably more so than if it wasn’t supposed to be an homage to my favorite story. So keep in mind, this review might be tinged with prejudice, because I give no leniency where Jane Eyre retellings are concerned. (ha!)

The Summary (from the back of the book): “Taken from her native Iceland to Scotland in the early 1950’s when her widower father drowns at sea, young Gemma Hardy comes to live with her kindly uncle and his family. But his death leaves Gemma under the care of her resentful aunt, and she suddenly finds herself an unwelcome guest. Surviving oppressive years at a strict private school, Gemma ultimately finds a job as an au pair to the eight-year-old niece of Mr. Sinclair on the Orkney Islands — and here, at the mysterious and remote Blackbird Hall, Gemma’s greatest trial begins.”Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.comInspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

First things first, and this is just my prejudice speaking: I really don’t like the names she chose to replace Edward Rochester and Thornfield Hall. Hugh Sinclair of Blackbird Hall just doesn’t quite have the same mystery to them. But that could just be my everlasting love for Rochester speaking.

The book opens much as Jane Eyre does, with mention of a walk (my first clue to its classically based background), an introduction of Gemma’s cousins (Will, Veronica, Louise — second clue) with whom she of course has a less-than-favorable relationship, an explanation of her uncle’s death and her aunt’s sudden change of attitude, and how she had become no better than a servant in the house after her beloved uncle died.

It then eventually moves on to Claypoole boarding school where Gemma is ensconced as a working girl — a girl who is a charity case and works off her debt to the school by way of working the kitchens, cleaning, doing laundry, and performing every other menial task possible besides taking classes, studying, and passing exams — amongst ten or so others, all of whom are viewed as less important than the regular (paying) attendees of the school. Life is hard for Gemma, as the other working girls follow the lead of Ross (last name), who is portrayed as a dull bully and the leader of the group, and she is oppressed by them to some extent. There is of course the Helen character, Miriam, who becomes Gemma’s only friend (sadly, not redheaded as she was in JE), who eventually dies, and whose death brings Gemma a way to communicate with the outside world as the girls of Claypoole are not allowed outside contact. (To hide the horrible conditions of the school.) Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

The entire plot of the first part of the book — it’s broken into three acts — very much follows the plot of Jane Eyre, if in a less detailed and more 1950’s appropriate way. Unlike Jane Eyre, there are small touches of sexual innuendos throughout — the girls ganging up on one working girl and pulling off her bra to expose her, Gemma coming upon two of the others one by one “laying” under a farm boy in the summer between the rows of raspberries, and other small innuendos that Gemma, being very young and innocent, does not understand. I am guessing this was a way for the author to modernize the book, but I nearly wished she had left these things out. To me, it was a way to demean the story, making it more crudely reality based, and less of an eloquent tale.

As the years pass, Gemma’s stubbornness gets her through classes that teachers are determined to hold her back in, and to everyone’s surprise she graduates with high marks, as she is a very bright girl. Following the suggestion of the one trustworthy teacher at the school (the only one who does not eat out of the headmistress’s hand), she sends out inquiries to become a nanny, and thus we enter part two. Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

As with Jane Eyre, Gemma stays at Blackbird Hall for many months before ever meeting Mr. Sinclair; the housekeeper is Mr. Sinclair’s very distant cousin, and Gemma’s student, Nell, is badly schooled. Unlike Jane Eyre, Vicky (housekeeper) has a stern and loutish brother, Seamus, who works the grounds, and Nell is the daughter of Mr. Sinclair’s sister, who died mysteriously. As well, it takes Gemma several weeks to even make a connection with Nell, as Nell has run wild and free and entirely untrained, and refuses to sit for lessons until Gemma has the idea to begin reading a book aloud. When she gains Nell’s audience and the girl demands more, Gemma strikes a deal: one hour of book reading a day in return for morning lessons.

Overall, the story follows the premise of Jane Eyre loosely, adding once again more indications of sex with Gemma’s friends who speak of such things, and Todd, the brother of Gemma’s friend, who briefly pursues Gemma, kisses her, tells her she’s pretty, and, tries to put his hand down her shirt. (Later, by way to Scrabble letters while they play as a team against a few others, he secretly spells out “sex later” and she unwittingly spells “yes” a few moves down the game). But on the same night, Gemma comes upon Mr. Sinclair, whose car broke down and who, while changing the tire, sprains his finger. After short conversation, they part ways, only for Gemma to find out, of course, who Mr. Sinclair is.

Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

Throughout the rest of the book, we meet the few other characters who follow the basic premise of Jane Eyre — Coco, who is Blanche’s replacement, and Archie, Helen, and Pauline, who replace St John Rivers and his sisters, Diana and Mary. However, instead of being a tool to spark jealousy or discern whether Gemma has feelings for Mr. Sinclair, Coco is merely a flight of fancy for Sinclair; something to boost his male ego (and she is, of course, a gold digger). Very briefly, Gemma silently implores Sinclair “please don’t” when she spies him leaning in for what appears to be a kiss (it doesn’t happen), and later when someone suggests that perhaps Coco and Sinclair have gone to bed together.

Unfortunately, there is very little indication of a connection between Sinclair and Gemma, so at this point her silent pleading seems like little else than that she views Coco as an incredibly airheaded gold digger, and her concern is more that she does not wish Nell to be subjected to the woman as a mother than that she views Mr. Sinclair as too good for the woman. (In a small way, perhaps she does, but it is not a prevalent point.)

And this is where my criticism begins. Sadly, Gemma and Sinclair have very, very little of Jane and Rochester’s relationship. The point that Coco enters the scene is really the first inkling of any type of concern Gemma has for Sinclair, and the chapters including the former woman are so short that we do not get to delve into whether Gemma’s prejudice against Coco is for her own feelings as well as Nell’s. Coco is hence dispatched swiftly, with a short scene wherein she’s misled to think that Sinclair is bankrupt, and the entire inclusion of her in the story does very little to further the relationship of the two main characters.Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

Then, when Gemma and Sinclair do finally connect romantically, the relationship comes on very suddenly, and lasts a very short three or four chapters. To me, it was literally one scene with Sinclair and Gemma alone, a storm that causes them to kiss, a flighty relationship, and the revelation of his great secret. (Complaint: there was no modernized version of the greatest, most romantic proposal ever which you should watch here. *swoon*)

The secret, which I will not give away here for those of you who do want to read the book, caused my greatest disappointment. It was nowhere near as shocking or romantic (if you can call Rochester’s secret that) as a crazy wife in the attic; it was not even dramatic enough of a secret to, in my opinion, cause Gemma to neglect her love for Sinclair entirely and run away. It was much more understandable, a mistake made by an 18 year old in order to avoid what he thought would be insanity, and there is no wife, child, or even murder involved (not that there was murder in Jane Eyre, but that would have made it better.) Gemma’s entire reason for deciding not to marry Sinclair after the exposure of his past’s secrets is that he lied to her. Though, to be honest, he didn’t even lie to her in any way that contradicted his secret; nothing he said or implied was in any way opposite his past, he merely did not tell her all. And why should he, when what he “did” happened 23 years prior and was an attempt to benefit more than just himself?

It was at this point that the book lost me a bit, as I had been enjoying the story up until Sinclair and Gemma’s romance began. So, after deciding that she could not marry a “liar”, Gemma flees, becomes destitute and homeless, and is found by Archie, Hannah, and Pauline.

Unlike the book, instead of being a clergy brother and his two sisters, Archie is a postman addicted to cigarettes but with the same “I don’t do people well” attitude as St. John, and Hannah and Pauline are not sisters, but lovers. The change in Archie suits the story well; the change in Hannah and Pauline barely affects the plot at all except to make you wonder whether Gemma, like Jane, would discover that perhaps Archie and Hannah were her cousins. But then you remember that she is from Iceland, and in that land lie any possibilities of her having more family than she knows.

Inspired outfit/Book Review: The Flight of Gemma Hardy | www.eccentricowl.com

Dress, from Sarah’s (closed) shop | belt, from a skirt | shoes, Modcloth | book, garage sale | glasses, c/o Firmoo | vintage brooch, thrifted

For a while with them, Gemma works as a nanny to a young boy whose grandmother needs help caring for him as her husband had a stroke (I think?) and needs full-time care. After many months of saving up and healing, a proposal from Archie that she realizes she does not want to accept — and, by the way, there is more relationship development between Archie and Gemma though you know he won’t ever love her than there was between Sinclair and Gemma, a sad point — , and a rash decision, Gemma decides to go to Iceland on her own to find out if she had any family at all other than her parents.

Of course, being a Jane Eyre retelling, she does discover family and a small inheritance; she does hear Sinclair calling out to her on the wind (at least there’s that), and she decides not to marry Archie.

And then comes the end, which was the second most disappointing way to end something based on Jane Eyre. I won’t give it away exactly, but let’s just say… with no crazy wife in his attic, there is no way for Gemma to return to find a destitute and damaged Sinclair regretting his youthful decisions and insisting that she should not tie herself to him as an old cripple. Instead, he is hale and hearty, though he did miss her, and… well, you’ll have to read it for yourself. It was not that romantic of an end to the story, and I very heartily wished Sinclair’s secret had been as dramatic as Rochester’s, because then the ending would not have been so diluted from its origins.

Overall, though, it was a book worth reading, and had Jane Eyre not been my favorite book, I would probably have less criticism for it. It’s well written, pays homage to its origins well without being an exact copy, and is still an interesting story despite its shortcomings due to plot changes. Nothing will ever match up to the sweep and romance of Jane Eyre in my opinion, but I am glad that I grabbed The Flight of Gemma Hardy because it proved to be a good way to spend a few sick days, and inspired me to start writing again. And, despite the critiques I have, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a classic story with a modern twist.

Have you read the book, or any other by Margot Livesey? What did you think?

I hope you all have a fantastic Thursday!

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Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on “plus size.”

Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.comLost in the Middle | www.eccentricowl.com

Recently, Elana over at Room 334 posted pictures of herself wearing a swimsuit, looking every bit as adorable and stylish as ever. When I finally got to look at the post, I was really refreshed by the normalcy — a girl at the beach in a cute swimsuit who wasn’t claiming insecurity based on body type, who generally wouldn’t have posted bikini pictures not because she thinks her body is unattractive but because she doesn’t feel the need to plaster it in everybody’s faces, who is just… normal. My favorite types of bloggers have always been those to whom I could relate — not super thin, not voluptuously plus sized, but average. I have a soft spot for the everyday woman, and Elana has been one of my favorites for a long time because she is so relatable in that area.

But then, just a few days later, she posted again with the disheartening news that, without consulting her prior on how they’d like to use her photos, the company who sent her the swimsuit for review had hashtagged her as “plus size” and put her in an album called “Suriana Curvy Girl.” And I was confused.

If companies and/or popular society saw this girl as a plus size woman, did they think the same of me? Elana and I wear the same dress size and the same shirt size, but I have bigger hips, especially right now through pregnancy. If someone would add a girl whose hips are smaller than mine and whose figure at best I would have called “curvy” — something I’ve used to describe people who are thinner AND bigger than me — as plus sized, what would they call me?Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

For years, I have worked to be a normal size. I have lost weight, I have gained confidence; I have gained weight and lost confidence. I have hated my thighs, loved my waist, watched numbers shrink and grow, felt my insecurities do the same, and I have slowly but surely done my best to fit into the category of average, because to me, my average-sized friends are so beautiful. More than that, though, I have worked hard to appreciate other things about myself and have confidence that is outside of what number my jeans bear.

I have read a lot of articles for and against the term plus size, but I’ve never really formed an opinion on it until now. In the past, plus size was an easy way to categorize clothes, much like you would use “juniors” or “petites” or “misses” sizing. The cuts were just different, and therefore needed that label. The women who wore them were of above-average sizing (not a bad thing), and as I would have also categorized a petite blogger or a mom blogger, there were plus size bloggers. And as the years passed, being a plus size blogger took on a lot of (much deserved!) positivity and garnered applause for their bravery — to put themselves out there as a woman whose body was not what society hailed as ideal, in clothing that was attractive.

As I watched the self-proclaimed plus-size blogs grow in popularity right alongside the modelesque sized bloggers, sometimes I felt a bit lost. I have nothing against plus sized or model-sized blogs, and in fact love to read them, but I am not plus sized, and I am not model sized. I am not hailed as brave for wearing clothing that is attractive. I am not sought out by media for having a thin body type that is currently praised as ideal. I am not applauded for wearing a swimsuit to the beach as a woman my size.  I am average. I am simply accepted and forgotten as a part of popular society. And because I have aspired so much to be where I am, it’s disappointing to realize that to the larger part of the published world, what I have to offer may not be considered simply because I am not a groundbreaking size.Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

After all, how do you market an average body? How can one gain attention for a size 8 woman whose figure is similar to so many others? How can you promote groundbreaking or trendsetting when someone wears size twelve jeans? Where is the controversy, the attention-grabbing headline, the hashtag that garners the most clicks? How can you create desire with someone who does not have a figure every girl aspires towards, or admires for its bravery to be different?

The fact is, in all of the movement to promote body diversity, there still is not much diversity going on. Between the truly plus sized and the fairly fit bodies, there is a land that is rarely covered by the media that considers Jennifer Lawrence to be fat, where Lena Dunham is slammed for apparently promoting obesity, and where models with better figures than me are considered “plus size.” There are only a handful of companies who truly advertise with diverse bodies, but even then fall more on the sides of thin or plus than choosing to showcase an average-sized girl.

Reading Elana’s blog post sparked a lot of thought on my part. What do I really think of the term plus size? Who do I consider to be so? And why does it even matter?Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.comStripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

Much as Elana was more offended that no discussion was had prior to a company posting her as a plus size girl, I would be offended if someone were to label me as plus size — not because I think it’s a bad thing to be a plus size woman, but because that is a misrepresentation of who I am. I have often admired plus size bloggers and occasionally wished I could be considered part of that group at my current weight because it looks like fun and I think they are beautiful. But my measurements fall far short of being plus or thin, which excludes me from two very popular categories.

However, I would not want to be included simply because the numbers on my scale or the shape of my body makes me a marketable term. And I would not want to be labeled as such without my knowledge, because that is not how I choose to represent myself. Calling a person plus size should be something used respectfully, thoughtfully, and with prior discussion with that person as to how they would like to be labeled. Despite all of the work going into reclaiming “plus size” as a positive thing, how it is used should always be coupled with sensitivity, respect, and consideration.

After all, humans are not insusceptible to the negativity that comes with having a unique feature. No matter how much it might look like they don’t care in public, nobody knows how much they struggle in private. Nobody knows how that label might affect others who see it applied. Nobody knows how much it could hurt when it’s something they’ve never considered themselves to be.Stripes, headscarves, and thoughts on "plus size." | www.eccentricowl.com

Dress, heels, belt, and scarf, thrifted | earrings, vintage/grandma’s

And above all of that, I don’t think the term “plus size” should be banned; banning it implies to everyone that it is a bad thing to be, and demeans those who are happy to be plus, who take pride in their above-average curves, who value that term as a part of themselves. Nor do I think that it should be “reclaimed” and promoted, as many are trying to do right now. Rather, I think it should be normalized. Because the other options can both cause damage. Just as marketing a thin body has damaged the lives of many young girls, so too can running the opposite way and saying that plus size is the new norm. Those who are simply average get caught in the controversy between thin and plus size, and nobody stands up to say that they, too, are perfectly acceptable and beautiful in society.

Normalizing the term could negate the unwanted effects of those who might use it to bully and those who unknowingly feed the need-to-be-that-way fire in the minds of girls who idolize a body type that is not their own. Normalizing it means you can be a happy, healthy person regardless of which section you shop in and nobody will argue. Normalizing it means a woman with rolls can wear a bikini to the beach and nobody bats an eye. Normalizing it could mean that society would begin to promote all body types, and not just the extremes. That suddenly the ideal body type is not just one shape, size, or number on the scale, but many.

Perhaps then, marketers would not need to label someone as something they are not simply for clicks and views. Perhaps then, we could be one step closer to a healthier mindset of what beauty is in young girls today. And perhaps then, nobody would get lost in the middle.

Please note: this is not a post to bash plus size or thin bloggers or women, but to challenge the way marketing is used in the fashion industry, and to spark thought about whether or not these terms are harmful, and how we can make a change to continue along the road to all-inclusive body diversity in stores today.

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New Year’s Day

New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.com New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.com  The first day of a new year is such a strange and wonderful thing. It feels almost like any other day, but you know that it has begun an entire new set of events that have yet to happen. You look forward with anticipation, hope, resolve, and perhaps even a little bit of fear, yet you also look back with memory, fondness, sadness, and bittersweet longing for things that will never be again.

You feel as though you should do something to begin the year with a head start, but on such a day as this, when there are so many resolutions made and so many things to move into, where do you begin?

New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.com New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.comFor me, the first day of the new year doesn’t really have the fanfare and excitement of other holidays. There are no presents to open, no chocolates or flowers, no church service to attend at dawn; we’ve never had a tradition for this day. It just begins, like any other day, with a quiet sunrise, and suddenly it’s a fresh year that will inevitably fill up before I know where my days went.

This year, though, I am trying to begin my new year in the spirit of improvement, and I am already living a few of my resolutions out. I think perhaps even if there is no huge celebration for the first day of a new year, simply choosing one thing to better yourself that day, and all of the following days, is the perfect way to celebrate the blank slate of the coming days.

New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.comNew Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.com Today I am living out a few of my resolutions already; I am already amidst the first week of a Whole30; I’m wearing lipstick; I’m dressed in the retro/vintage look I hope to stick with for at least six months, and I’ve also carried out a resolution I didn’t add to my list: this year, I plan to give over control of the photography in my outfit posts to my husband.

It’s hard for me to admit that he takes better pictures of me than I do, because I have quite the independent streak. But even if you all don’t notice, I see such a huge difference in the photography when he takes the camera over. Of course, a person will likely always take better photos than a tripod and a self-timer, but somehow I felt as though I had to do it by myself. Which is silly, considering most bloggers out there tend to prefer another human to photograph them versus having to take their own pictures.New Year's Day | www.eccentricowl.comCardigan, skirt, and belt, thrifted | shirt, tights, and shoes, Target | glasses, c/o Firmoo | headband, modcloth | earrings, gift

And in letting him take over my outfit photography, I am in turn also working on cultivating our relationship. I always feel as though it must be a bother to him whenever I ask him to take my outfit photos, but time and time again he tells me that he likes to do it.

This month I am excited to add to my cultivation of relationships by meeting Myranda, a fellow mama who, funny enough, I only know through my blog (and also Facebook) although I’ve met and known all of her siblings over the last ten years or so. I am so excited to finally meet her. And I’m very excited to finally have a car, so that I can do things like this again!

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Our celebration was incredibly low key (aka, we watched Doctor Who, played Mario, and barely made it past midnight), but today we plan to go out for lunch and see a movie. What are you all doing for the New Year?

Happy Thursday!

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Book Review/Inspired Outfit: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

2Collage 2 I meant to do a book review with this outfit, obviously, but I put it off so long that I don’t feel I can accurately review The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate any longer. When I finished the book, I really enjoyed it but I also felt so-so upon closing the last page; it was entertaining and definitely worth a read, but didn’t leave me moved in any one direction.

Which isn’t as helpful when I’m trying to review it; I want a book that captures my emotions and keeps me thinking about it for days afterward — whether it be with love or with sadness. The best books impart lingering emotions, I think. 4 The best I can give you is a little synopsis of the characters.

Calpurnia Tate is a girl growing up in a household of boys, who realizes as the year passes that she is expected to essentially become her mother — a woman tasked with the endless job of caring for a house. Day in and day out, her mother’s jobs are never done. But Calpurnia, having befriended her Grandaddy (an eccentric gentleman obsessed with science and creating alcohol from pecans (or walnuts…?)), has had her mind opened to the world and all of its possibilities, and she becomes dissatisfied with what is expected of her. She wants to be more than just a housewife. 5 14 So, she balks at her duties and runs off with Grandaddy every day to discover the world around her, and is scolded for her negligence when she comes home. Her mind expands and her character grows as the book progresses until by the end, she begins to entertain thoughts of going to college. Which is basically where it ends.

It’s a fairly simple premise, but the characters themselves fill it with interest and hilarity, and I really enjoyed Calpurnia’s journey from a naive young girl to a young lady thirsting for more and more knowledge. 69 I’ve been realizing as I read more and more books… I really do judge a book by its cover. Perhaps it’s the artist in me, but if a book has a horrible cover, I am less inclined to read it. I will obviously give the first few chapters a go, but I’m much more drawn to good covers, like this one. It’s quite aesthetically pleasing!

So, you know. I like this book for its cover, too. Does anyone else really hate how the trend now is to put actors on the covers of books their movies are based on now? That is my biggest cover pet peeve. Ugh.

8 Collage 1 So this brooch was made and sent to me by Courtney, aka Some Call me Q (Instagram, blog) some time ago, and I JUST remembered that I had it! I’ve worn in a few times, but I feel as though I only wear pins in the fall and winter. I really love how unique this is; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brooch made out of zippers before.

But the fact that it was made by an internet friend for me makes me love it SO much more than my other brooches (hopefully they don’t get jealous.) So, thank you Courtney!

And also, she’s having a baby. Which is awesome. 7Dress, thrifted | cardigan, Target | tights, Nordstrom rack | shoes, Modcloth

(Above, cue me cracking up because I can’t take myself faking reading a book.)

Well, this is my last outfit post of the year! What a crazy thought; I can’t remember which Dressember day this was, hence no banner, but if you still want to donate please do. I’m not sure if I’ll be participating next year, but I will definitely be supporting others in their Dressember campaigns. And I’m so sorry I never did a roundup of my favorite Dressember posts! I’ve been stalking all of you who have said you’ve been doing it, but I’m really… a procrastinator. Leave your favorite Dressember post in the comments (of your own) so we can all see how wonderfully this cause is supported! (Or, in the case of Skye, your favorite un-Dressember post.)

Happy Monday!

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P.S. You still have a few days to fill out my blog improvement survey if you want to. It’s short, I promise!

Let’s Pretend

Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.comDressember DaysLet's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com Do you ever imagine what it might be like if you were a celebrity?

I do. Often, even though I can’t act worth beans and I don’t actually think I would like the life of fame, I imagine walking the red carpet and being interviewed; and mostly, it’s because of the clothes. I would love to be a woman who had access to sweeping gowns made by brilliant designers, to be fitted perfectly to my body; I would love to have someone professionally touch up my makeup — or learn how to do it myself, since I have a thing against other people touching my face — and fix my hair.

It would be an interesting and fun experience, to live that glamorously if only for a day. Of course, as with any profession, there are challenges and hardships. But, you know, it would still be fun!

Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com Today I felt like a movie star. This dress makes me feel every bit as glamorous as if I’d had professional hair and makeup done and was styled by a famous designer.

I think, based on one of my favorite fashion-of-the-stars website, I would probably be one of the few celebrities who actually wore nonstop color and pattern. I might be one of those stars who occasionally steps into the world of kookiness with a crazy 1970’s caftan or 80’s dress, but at least I’d be having fun! I’ve always noticed that people in the public eye tend to dress in neutrals, reds, or dark colors, (as well as the crazy-revealing, or those garments that can’t really be classified as “clothing”) and you don’t see a lot of pattern. I don’t know if this is a modern trend, or if they go for simple because they’re told it’s more flattering… I don’t know. But I always appreciate people like Emily Blunt or Zooey Deschanel or Mindy Kaling who wear interesting and beautiful and colorful clothes; people who aren’t caught in the world of nude shoes and black dresses. Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.comLet's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com Obviously there is a practical side to being clothed, but also… why not have fun with it?

I think I was asked once or saw the question once a long time ago whether Christianity/modesty and fashion blogging are at war with each other; whether it goes against a Christian’s call to be modest to photograph one’s self quite often in order to post those pictures on the internet and garner fans ans followers. (And when you put it that way, maybe it does sound vain.) But the thing is… I don’t do this for attention. It’s nice to get comments, yes, although I appreciate those more for the friendships I have made.

But at the core, fashion blogging is just… fun. I love wearing pretty things and I always have; I love creating something that is beautiful to the eye, whether it be a painting, a sketch, a photograph, an outfit, and sharing it with others in hopes they might share the joy.  I love creating outfits that are physically modest but also truly fashionable to encourage other women who want to dress modestly that you can wear attractive outfits that are decent without having to look like a homeschooler (you know what I’m talking about. And I can say that; I was homeschooled.)Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com I believe that fashion blogging and modesty — of attitude, pocket, and appearance — are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. My brother-in-law pointed out once that when it speaks of women being called to be modest in the church in the Bible in one instance, its’ not even talking about modesty of clothing in the sense of being revealing; it’s talking about the fact that these women were dressing outlandishly and elaborately and going to church in order to get attention for themselves, instead of coming to church to worship God.  Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.com So really, it depends on why I do this. If I were blogging only to shout to the world “look how beautiful I am, look at me, I’m so fashionable, I’m so thrifty, I’m so fantastic!” (which, sadly, one or two of my posts have been misread that way) then yes, I would not be blogging in a very modest way. But I do this as a hobby; it’s fun, I like creating art — and clothing can be a form of art –, I love to meet new people, I hope to encourage others, and blogging is my way to journal life. Since I was never very good at keeping a paper journal. Let's Pretend | www.eccentricowl.comBelt and vintage dress, thrifted | heels, Kohl’s | earrings, c/o Oasap | bracelet, Target

And also sometimes I think people in the religious world can get really legalistic with what you can and cannot do, which can go overboard. Obviously I believe there should be limits, as with anything in life; too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. (Hello, chocolate.) But I also believe that you should use your talents to encourage others, which is what I hope I am doing!

What are your thoughts on fashion blogging, vanity, and modesty (of the heart)?

P.S. If you are wondering whether this dress is possibly that bright in real life… the answer is yes. It is. I LOVE IT. Happy Sunday!
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