Archive for September, 2011

Missoni and me.

27 Sep

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit and style tip, wearing Missoni for Target blouse, black skinny jeans

Daily outfit and style tip, wearing Missoni for Target blouse, black skinny jeans

Daily outfit and style tip, wearing Missoni for Target blouse, black skinny jeans, Jillery ring

A couple of weeks ago I walked down the sunny plaza where I work to pick up the September issue of Vogue. Sitting quietly with my lunch in Oakland’s historic Rotunda building, I methodically flipped through, dog-earring pages of interest with predictability. The launch of Missoni for Target caught my eye, I made a mental note to drive over the following week at lunch.

On September 14 I had lunch with a friend whose baby girl was stylishly sporting a violet knit dress with the trademark zig-zag in citron yellow and green. Over soup I heard a first-hand account of items maddeningly becoming out of stock in her shopping cart while online two days earlier. A visit to the store provided further proof of the mayhem in process. In my naïveté I had believed I could casually swing by Target in the following week or two and decide in person which knit dress I would buy for myself.

Against my desire to succumb to the frenzy I still found myself online a few hours later scanning every item until I could find something not yet out of stock. I found two blouses in my size. I did not hesitate. I bought both of them with the precision maneuver of a professional online shopper. I would decide later if I liked them. Now was not the time to waffle and question whether I needed either, both or whether they even matched anything else I owned. I had gotten caught up in the moment I had been trying to avoid. Why?

I later found myself reflecting on what had happened. I will most likely never be able to afford a full-priced Missoni dress. I’ve walked by them in Nordstrom’s, I’ve touched the knit, the combination of silky and nubby calls to me. The patterns and colors remind me of my childhood, my mother crocheted and knitted her fair share of little dresses and sweaters for us girls in the 70′s. I love color, I love good and unexpected color combinations, I’ve coveted Missoni dresses for years. I could save up for one, sure, but I’m better off paying a bill or taking a vacation.

Target gave me and others like me the opportunity to have a little something special. The playing field, however competitive, was leveled briefly. This doesn’t cheapen the brand, it allows the rest of us to touch the untouchable. My new blouses are polyester, not silk. The hem is unfinished as a reminder that I may own a little part of a dream but I don’t have the real thing. That’s fine by me, I’m not out to fool anyone.

The decision for a designer label to choose to be more accessible is in part economic. But the idealistic dreamer in me also hopes that there is a nobler goal; that letting the rest of us get a taste of something usually reserved for the elite not only brings us pleasure, it is also sharing its art and vision with us. My economic status doesn’t drive how and what I am able to appreciate, it only affects what I can call my own. Hype or not, the blouses are beautiful. I’m keeping them both.

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Missoni has always been a pioneer of bold color combinations. Deep rust, pale chick yellow, aqua blue, soft peach, sandy beige. Reflex blue, grey, ivory, bright minty green, soft purple, brown, cream. It’s absolute madness! While most of us are inclined to leave these color combinations to the experts, here’s a hint why they work: The values and hues compliment each other.

I encourage everyone to play with color, my trick is that I assess whether certain shades look good together in daylight, in advance of getting dressed. Indoor lighting can be misleading but indirect daylight provides the perfect lighting environment to determine how well colors work together.

{ deets: }

Multicolored blouse/Missoni for Target, black skinny jeans/Urban Outfitters, black studded belt/unknown, black sandals/Dansko, spike ring/Jillery.


Posted in Fashion


Taking lessons

22 Sep

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfits and style tips, mixing patterns wearing red skirt, red striped top

{ personal: }

I’m certain that my husband has an advanced degree in relaxing. Chillin’. Chillaxin’. Call it what you will, he’s got it down and I could learn a thing or two from him. When I lived in the Upper Haight in San Francisco I had a routine. I worked from home and would leave the house every afternoon to walk to the store and buy a cookie. I really did this for years. What can I say, I like a routine. Three blocks each way, one cookie and fresh produce for dinner. I would cross the panhandle, slowly, taking it all in; the dogs, the cyclists, friendly faces and neighbors.

I also started my day with a soy latté just around the corner, journaling and daydreaming. I spent an hour in the quiet hush of early morning orders by myself documenting every thought and emotion, turning stream of consciousness into poetry, day after day. My neighborhood cafe played great music, I rediscovered my love for electronic music. I once told a group of somewhat younger women about my morning routine. “You must really love yourself,” one said. Actually, yes.

Fast forward ten years. I no longer work from home. I have very little control over the kind of demands making their way across my day; I have some control over how I deal with the stress. Running, sometimes a drink after work, sometimes not. The most draining days require prescription strength television watching. We don’t even have cable. My husband and I met at work and carpool together, sharing one car. The routine is gone. It’s been replaced with coordinating schedules, grocery shopping, laundry days. Oh, and blogging.

I was washing the first batch of dusty Burning Man bins on Sunday when said husband exclaimed that he was going to chill for a while, complete with beer in hand. Envious, perhaps, I asked if he hadn’t just been relaxing. (This conversation can now go two ways.) Yes! He was going to relax again he proudly announced. He asked me to join him. Uncharacteristically, I put down what I was doing and grabbed my own beer. We sat and appreciated the million dollar view we’ve been blessed with and listened to hummingbirds whir.

View of San Francisco Bay from Oakland hills

LIke I said, I could learn a thing or two. The impressive stack of laundry that needs to be put away sitting in the back room is not going anywhere. Does it matter if I deprive myself of relaxing with my best friend only to put it away three days earlier? Of course it doesn’t. What matters is this: Carpe Diem. When I’m relaxed I photograph better. I write better. I dress myself better. I’m more creative. I’m nicer to myself and everyone around me. I would bet money that I will age less quickly if I subscribe to my husband’s plan. He’s not lazy. He gets things done. I try to get even more done and then beat myself up for not having done enough. I must be taking funny pills because that kind of math does not add up, does it?

Daily outfits and style tips, mixing patterns wearing red skirt, red striped top

What you see above is proof, actual photographic proof, that I came home tonight, popped open a hard cider and enjoyed our warm summer evening. After a day of such intense pattern mixing who wouldn’t need to unwind?

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Ah, mixing patterns. The old taboo. This one is not always easy to pull off. It’s easier when there are elements in common. In this case, the color red and the graphic nature of the clovers versus the stripes worked. One didn’t overpower the other which kept the outfit balanced, this is key. There are many tips out there on how to do this well. The Chic Fashionista has some good advice.

Don’t be afraid to give it a shot, it takes guts to step outside our comfort zones. There will be misses but there are sure to be hits, too.

{ deets: }

Red clover skirt/Urban Outfitters, striped shirt/Michael Kors, daisy ring/Hatch, red leather cuff watch/Nixon, red jacket/Precious Boutique, black sandals/Dansko

{ giveaway: } 

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway. I’ve got a lightweight scarf straight from Paris just begging to go home with you. Male or female, it matters not. This scarf is genderless and will flatter everyone. Check out The House in the Clouds on facebook to enter.


Guest blogger: Ryan of Fashables

20 Sep

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While I was away a couple weeks ago there was a minor scheduling snafu so I’m republishing this guest post for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy Fashables’ round-up as summer comes to a close. It won’t be long before we’re bundling up for fall.

xo, f

{ guest blogger: }

Street Style from Fashables

Hey, I’m Ryan from the fashion blog Fashables, and I couldn’t be happier to do a guest post on The House in the Clouds!

One of the features on Fashables that runs twice a week is a fun little street style post called Peeps from the Streets. The shots are taken at various places in New York City and, for the most part, simply catch people going about their lives in NYC. Most aren’t posed… and heck, aren’t even planned for that matter.

Since summer is winding down I thought it might be fun to share some of the Peeps from the Streets shots taken during the last couple of months with you. NYC is full of great style, and I could have easily shared a ton of photos with you… but here are 10 that seemed to stand out in my mind.

From the purse, to the pants, to the bow-tie to the sunglasses… she’s pulled the pattern together.

Tons of flavor going on here. Bikes and dogs… accessory of the year!

Reminded me of Madonna back in the day.

I have a thing for stylish people riding old school bikes.

Two French friends visiting NYC… and doing so stylishly.

This is what I like to call my, “I had no plan to take this shot, but got my camera out really quickly and took a shot from the hip.”

Lovely dress, and purse, but I couldn’t make her smile for the life of me.

This was my first experience at photographing a professional model. The thing is, at the time, I had no clue I was doing so. Read more about that here.

We start them early in NYC. A toddler picking out a purse in… Prada.

When taking this shot I had no clue this girl was from the reality TV show on TLC called NY Ink. I simply stopped her because she had tons of flavor.

Thanks a ton for reading my guest post and I hope you enjoyed the shots! I know The House in the Clouds is one of your favorite sites to visit, but I hope you might someday add Fashables to that list as well.


FBFF Q&A: Words of wisdom

15 Sep

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Don’t worry about what anyone else says, be proud to just be yourself, girls.

That’s my mom talking to me and my two sisters. While I may have spent a good portion of my life trying to blend in and look like other girls, I failed. In August of nineteen seventy-six I arrived to the United States an eight year-old olive-skinned French girl from the Middle East with no American vocabulary. I had no clue what kids were saying, what games they were playing nor why I looked so different. Parading awkwardly in my cousin Peggy’s outdated hand-me-downs, what had once been the coolest tie-dye pink bell bottoms were now the source of ridicule. I wanted so badly to fit in that it tormented me. I wore the pants anyway because I loved them.

Enter the transition between middle and high school. Two ugly ducklings devoted an entire summer to becoming swans; the hours spent experimenting with make-up and raiding my best friend’s mom’s closet were too numerous to count. We started high school as new students, almost completely. Unrecognized, we both had the freedom to be newer, more improved versions of our awkward tween selves. We were also trapped by trying so hard. In no time at all I discovered new wave, punk and goth music and style. I experimented and expressed my love for fashion and music in a way that was destined to get me noticed as odd or weird. I did it anyway.

I work in the corporate headquarters with approximately fifteen hundred people. Fifteen hundred business people: Buttoned-down shirts, slacks, black, grey, tan, beige and off-white. I’m not trying to stir the pot or get others to talk, I haven’t chosen to express myself visually to draw attention. I don’t require that level of validation for my appearance. Yet, I know that I will draw some attention for my aesthetic choices. That’s ok, ultimately, I still have to be myself. I answer all queries in the elevator graciously and with a smile.

There’s a level of integrity that resides within me, even if at times dormant, that comes from the belief that I shouldn’t worry about what others think. That by being myself I don’t have to justify the way I look nor the way I behave. This statement doesn’t come from a place of cluelessness, I understand that this expression doesn’t permit me to misbehave onto others. It doesn’t mean being rude or insensitive to certain situations. I get it. But, wherever and whenever I can, I will do my best to live as closely to that dogma as possible.

My mother’s advice has permeated my existence; the closer I live each day to the way I believe I should, the stranger it feels physically and mentally when I don’t.  Bad choices inherently feel wrong. More accurately, they feel “un-right”. The metamorphosis of my character through time is good. I mean, really good. As hard as I tried to belong through my formative years I couldn’t help ending up just being me.

Don’t worry, mom. I’m not keeping myself up at night by thinking of what others think of me. I’m more concerned with what I think of me.

{ fbff: }

For this week’s topic, we were asked to share the best advice we’d ever received. After much rumination, I decided that this particular bit of advice has stayed with me through and through, impacting my life powerfully. Thank you Katy of Modly Chic for crafting this topic. Friend Friday is an opportunity for fashion and beauty bloggers to share their thoughts on a specific topic and read what others have to say on that same topic. For more information, check out Modly Chic and welcome to the wonderful world of blogging!




Back from the burn, part 2

14 Sep

{ personal: }

Daily outfit and style tips, self-portrait in mirror, burning man 2011

Self reflection.

In November it will have been one full year, barring holidays and sick days. I will have been blogging regularly for the first time, seven days in a row at first, now down to three times weekly.

Monday’s pictorial effort barely scratched the surface of what Burning Man is, or does, to one’s soul. It’s full of noise and music and parties and people, it’s hot and dusty and never truly gets quiet. There’s no escape. Worse yet, there’s no schedule. Routine is abandoned and one is left with an unbelievable amount of distractions on one hand and absolutely nothing to do but kill time on the other. The result is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced outside of it.

Last week, I told my husband it was too soon to tell whether I had a good time or what I got out of it. Honestly, I was exhausted. I’d been fighting a persistent virus for six weeks and the resulting sleep awkwardness and depravation from breaking down camp and the subsequent caravan of thirteen camp-mates got the best of me. I had the minimum vim and vigor necessary to perform at work and complete sentences eloquently. Everything else succumbed to exhaustion.

I’m well-rested and have regained my health once more. Simple tasks no longer feel daunting. I pressed my face into the sage in the garden tonight before watering it and breathed in the satisfaction that comes from growing something yourself. Nurturing life. I watered the plants and continued the stream of consciousness that has been playing out it in my mind since this weekend. What is becoming of me? What is becoming of my blog? What do I want? And really, what do I need?

Seven days among friends fussing about with nothing to do but explore and experience gave me the platform to sit with my thoughts. My heightened awareness of everything I experienced is not singular to me, Burning Man provides a unique setting for contemplation. It has destroyed romantic relationships, it has strengthened them. It is what you intend it to be. I had been growing increasingly fidgety with myself and needed to pay attention. What am I feeling when I’m not distracted by the hundreds of emails and tweets and updates I see every day? What does my body feel like when I’m not up against yet another deadline before noon?

My re-entry here at The House in the Clouds has been purposefully gentle. By last week I had grown anxious, overwhelmed and increasingly guilty. Yes, guilty that I haven’t been keeping up on every blog I love to read, guilty that I’m neglecting online friendships, concerned that my presence as a human that desires to do good is being compromised. I decided to sit with these emotions and give them a voice today.

As I get nearer to this blog’s one year anniversary, I’m contemplating what’s next. What’s been working? Writing regularly, my favorite being the more in-depth pieces, reading other blogs that inspire me and draw out a better version of myself for the world to see, publicly committing to giving my creative energy time and space, making friends. What’s not working? Feeling that I might let someone down by not posting regularly, neglecting my personal relationship at times, neglecting my solid running schedule, feeling like I’m behind on everything and not knowing how to catch up.

My husband said to me the other day, “your blog will still be successful even if you only blog once a week as long as your content is good.” I know that, of course. Yet there’s a part of me that feels some obligation to be here, every day, with the unbridled energy of a twenty-two year old. I’m going to be forty-four soon. I’m athletic. I’m married, I have a demanding job and really can no longer get by on five or six hours of sleep. Who is it I’m competing against? Myself, of course.

And why do I feel like I have to compete? It’s primal, really. I’ve always claimed to be an underachieving overachiever. Perhaps I’m not underachieving. Perhaps very few of us can actually do, or appear to do, it all. I know better. I’ve said it before. There’s enough space for each of us to shine. So, how is it that I want to shine? Will I give myself permission to shine or will I worry myself into failure. This is what comes next. I’m inviting you on my journey as I test things out here and there until the fit is just right, until it no longer is and I re-evaluate everything again. Because that’s what life is about, isn’t it? Growing, learning, moving on. Repeat.

I will continue to do what I love doing, the outfits, the style tips, the vignettes of my day. But what else? How will it differ from how things are now? How will my schedule evolve? What more will I bring to the table. This, my friends, is uncharted. You’re welcome to join me as I shake the dust off and move forward.

xo, f


Posted in Personal


Back from the burn

12 Sep

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That’s right, I’m back from Burning Man. While it’s unlike any other life experience and it provides an insurmountable of fun, let no one tell you it’s easy. There’s a ton of prepping involved and just as much effort into settling back in. I must have done at least eight loads of laundry in the last three days. Seven days, two people, two sets of clothes, one for the heat and one for the cold. The back yard is host to two dusty bikes and the remaining five bins that need to be emptied upon which all contents will then be thoroughly washed.

But was it fun? Was it worth it? I’ll let the pictures do the talking. In the meantime, I’m starting to test out the Fall colors.

{ daily outfit: }

Daily outfit and style tips, wearing black blazer, pumpkin tights, black flower dress

Daily outfit and style tips, wearing pumpkin tights, black flower dress

I love that the days are still long enough to catch the golden light when I get home from work. I did some gardening this past Sunday for sanity’s sake. I’m standing in front of what used to be a tiny little flower garden less than a year ago. Watch those cannas grow!

Daily outfit and style tip, wearing branch and skull earrings from

I couldn’t resist wearing these earrings from I love the play on nature between the branch and the tiny skull. I can’t resist a little edge amongst the flowers.

{ burning man: }

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man 2011

This is just a visual sampling of the landscape and scene. Want to see more? Say the word and I’ll share my flickr album.

{ deets: }

Black flower pattern dress/H&M, pumpkin tights/, black ballet flats/Ecco, dragonfly steampunk necklace/gifted, branch and skull earrings/courtesy of, teal wood cuff/Costa Brava, silver three kitties ring/gifted.


Guest blogger: Nicole of Graph Paper Heart

07 Sep

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While I’m away this week on vacation, I leave you in very capable hands. I hope you enjoy my guest bloggers as much as I do and that they gain new fans. Enjoy!

xo, f

{ daily outfit: }

Hi, I’m Nicole from Graph Paper Heart! Thanks for having me, Fabienne.

I like rules. They help guide us in things like driving, courtesy, even fashion. I also like breaking rules. Maybe that’s where the real fun lies. But sometimes I get hung up on rules, even when I know breaking them can be great. So I decided to try and break one of my own ‘fashion rules’, I wanted to do a don’t. Mostly I think sweaters and shorts look quite silly together. I know, there are fall shorts, and there are summerweight sweaters. But still… the stigma remained for me. So how can I wear a decidedly fall sweater with shorts and make it work for me?



Firstly, I started with a more autumn-y palette. I know I’m looking forward to fall, and rich browns, reds and black make that happen easily.  Then to make sure it still seemed sunny weather appropriate, I added sunglasses and a topknot. The lace socks were just because I felt like it. Then red lips to top it all off. What do you think, does it work? I felt great in it, and not at all weird like I thought I would! Just goes to show that sometimes you just need to do that don’t.

{ deets: }

Camel + black striped sweater, sunglasses: Forever 21, red ribbed tank: Target, dark denim cuffed shorts: Gap, black lace socks, chevron earrings: H&M, red flats: Buffalo Exchange, black bag with grey hearts: c/o Krustbracelets: Forever 21, JewelMint, thrift finds


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Posted in Fashion