Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Germany Report: Four Outfits from Two

Packing for Germany I had to keep things small as I was spending 5 days traveling after my Frankfurt work events. So I tried to make it for my three days at the book fair with only two formal outfits and lost of modular action.

Frankfurt has no fashion, just suits. Although our hotel was very swanky.

All the hotels I stayed at had this odd thing where the only bedding you get is a duvet. And duvet is a terribly dignified term for the item in questions. The AB and I took to referring to them as people tablecloths, since that was about what they covered.

But you don't care about beds in Germany, Fashionable Reader, you care about clothes in Germany!

I took my favorite vintage check suit, which is comprised of a sheath dress and a cropped fitted three quarter sleeve jacket. I can't remember where I got this suit, it's one of the first vintage pieces I ever bought, which makes me thing it probably came from Santa Cruz, most of my earliest stuff did, for about $40.

I also took my Jessica Wiggle red dress, which is retro knock off but made a nice thick stretch material that travels really well.

I paid full price for this dress, $96 from 23 Skidio in downtown Campbell, CA. I remember the price exactly because . . . well . . . ouch, but who doesn't need a knock out red dress in their wardrobe?

To break up the two I also packed my black cardigan with beaded detail that I picked up years ago at Ross for about $15.

Because I was trying to travel light I only allowed myself two pairs of shoes, the Red Miz Mooz that I love so well, comfortable and close-toe (which was good, because it rained in Frankfurt and we walked everywhere) and my black and white wingtips, for everything else.

Miz Mooz from Haight Street boutique, full price, $70, and Black & White Oxford wingtip spectator dance shoes, resoled for walking, $30.

Because it was so cold I also ended up wearing my cape, my scarf, and my long black leather gloves a whole lot. I took two hats, both felt and stuffed the smaller red beret style vintage inside of the larger black cloche, which is modern.

Vintage red hat from Bon Marche Thrift Store in Sonoma, $15, and black Cloche from Target last winter $20.

And this is what I did with the collection . . .

First day at the fair, for meetings with foriegn editors and high tea. The check suit jacket with the red dress, black & white shoes, and red hat. Long black leather gloves, Crossroads Trading $25, invaluable due to the cold. Vintage typewriter key earrings purchased from and Etsy vendor at a steampunk convention. Mine are the colon and semi-colon on one side, and the question mark and the slash on the other, placed onto special extra-long hooks. I wore them the entire time I was in Germany because my little calculator-like translator kept needing to be reset and the earrings worked perfectly for the tiny button.

First evening, for visiting with the fans at the pub. Red dress with black cardy, red heals, red hat and long black gloves. I also wore these huge glittery earrings which were very heavy, gift from my sparkly friend Francesca. Story behind those earrings at the pub told only in German . . .

Second day when I actually visited the fair, I wore the check sheath dress with the black cardy and black hat and black & white shoes ~ for meeting with editors. Paired this with the typewriter earrings, again, and a little multi-metal octopus, a gift from a fan (Sarah Brigdon) at Fencon in its first outing. 

Because the sweater had so much beading I didn't feel it necessary to wear too much jewelry, but I do always like to octopus touch and a bit of a steampunk element. The hat wasn't the brightest idea, it really messed up my hair, cloches I think I will keep in reserve for bad hair days from here on out.

Second evening for reception with foreign editors at Mediterranean restaurant. (Very yummy.) Wearing the full check suit with red shoes, red gloves, red bauble jewelry, and the red hat at a different angle, added the cape as it started to rain. Also had my black and white polkadot umbrella.

Here are some other ways to wear a cape and my earlier blog on the subject.

On my last day, since I was traveling shortly after lunch, and it was very cold, and I was meeting with my New York editor for the Finishing School series I just went all black with the cape and a cream scarf over everythng. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, bur it wasn't very interesting anyway.

After Frankfurt I mainly descended into traveler's gear, which I my case was long jersey maxi skirt, jeans, jersey tops, my favorite BCBG plaid jacket, and other easy foldable and comfortable layers.I pretty proud of myself as I wore everything I brought, except the two tank tops and the shorts (but they were needed in case it got hot) and some of the socks and tights. 

I did keep my eye out for fashionable finds. For example, this hat on a wax soldier at the museum in the fortress at Koblenz. Wouldn't it just look smashing on me!

Kidding of course.

I also formed a love affaire with these boots but unfortunately no shops are open in Koblenz on Sunday so when I went back to try them on, I could not. Trust me, they were beauties. Here they are, taunting me with their cuteness from behind impenetrable glass.

However, I did end up with a cute pair of steampunky gloves from T.K. Maxx for $25.

And during the course of our travels I investigated not one, not two, but four second hand shops! One in Wiesbaden (Courage Second Hand Boutique) and three in Koblenz (none in Frankfurt, see note above, nothing in Frankfurt but suits).

All in all a wonderful trip.

What to read in Germany?

Well you may, of course read what you like, but I took with me Ash by Malinda Lo. It turned out to be the perfect choice for Germany in October. The atmosphere, setting, and style of this book all felt very German to me. It's a retelling of the Cinderella story except that Ash's love interests are a male fairy of the dark and tortured variety (you know a real underhill fairy) and a female huntress of pagan rights old world inclination ~ the prince is mere side character. I enjoyed Ash very much and it suited not only travel through Germany but travel in general, as it was a comfortable read ~ easy to pick up and put down again yet absorbing enough to entertain and distract from uncomfortable things like airplane take off and landing.

To me this book felt like a mix of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (of which I am not a huge fan), Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day-George (of which I am a huge fan), and The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey (an old favorite). I thought Ash might have benefited from a little humor to break up the overwhelming monotony of Ash's depression, but I suspect this very depression is what would make this book so appealing to teen girl readers. And, of course, I always want more humor in my books. Sometimes I did feel distanced from Ash and had a hard time relating to her. I think I identified far more with the huntress, who was (intentionally, I believe) the most vibrant character in the story. I found myself wondering, in the end, why the huntress fell in love with Ash ~ was it Ash's looks? Her personality seemed a little, well, absent. Yet I didn't want the huntress to be so shallow. This can be attributed to the book's style of fairy tale retelling, which I refer to as distanced or atmospheric writing, practiced by such greats as Patricia McKillip. In the end, I was left with an overwhelming urge to reread The Black Swan and the certain knowledge that while I enjoyed Ash very much, and I adore seeing LBTG themes in YA fantasy, Ella Enchanted still holds as the first lady of Cinderella retellings in this jaded old heart.


  1. Yes unfortunately shops are always closed on sundays in Germany. Despite some rare special events that is.
    You look smashing as always! I especially like the long leather gloves. <3
    (Too bad Frankfurt is too far away. *sigh*)

  2. I'm taking my third semester of German currently, so I decided to translate the blog post you linked to. Sadly, I'm still not sure what happened to your earrings, other than they were in peril, but were saved. I could post the translation in the comments if you would like.

  3. 'Tis amazing how many different looks one can get from just mixing a few different articles of clothing together. And you look fabulous in that cape, especially with all the red accessories.

    I also agree that Ella Enchanted is the definitive Cinderella retelling, though I thought Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire was also quite good (and was the only one of his books I could read without getting bored). I may look out for Ash. And probably Black Swan also, though I do have a lot of books to read already. Deals in book shops result in acquiring many books ^^;

  4. Well, you know how I am about red so I won't even comment there. However, you know, I never really cared for Cinderella. More of a Sleeping Beauty girl myself. However, I really like Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister way more than Ella Enchanted. Cinderella as an agoraphobic, the step-sisters not really evil but rather one is ugly but smart, the other mentally handicapped or at the very least trapped inside her own mind. Both loving Cinderella while their mother hated her.

    My favorite Cinderella type tale is The Egyptian Cinderella. A Pharaoh falling in love with a slave he never even seen just because of her shoe. Taking her as his bride. Based on a real event - there was a Greek slave girl who ended up married to a Pharaoh and became a queen.

  5. See, now I've gone and bought a copy of Black Swan. It is entirely your fault, Miss Gail.

  6. Becca, I do hope you enjoy it. I really love that book.


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