How to Wear a Graphic T + Skirt + Blazer for SIA: Louis Wain
Salazar at 14 Shades of Grey is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked the series of illustrations Cats Golfing by late 19th century artist Louis Wain. She chose this artwork after watching the movie "The Electric Life of Louis Wain" earlier this year because 2022 is the Year of the Cat in Vietnam. Elsewhere it is the Year of the Rabbit but rabbits are not native to Vietnam...
Or are they? The world's rarest rabbit, the Annamite striped rabbit, is native to the Annamite mountain range on the Laos-Vietnam border. But the striped rabbits were only discovered by science in 1996, with the Annamite striped rabbit first described in 2000 (Wikipedia). Another explanation for the Year of the Cat in Vietnam is that the ancient word for rabbit (mao) sounds like cat (meo) (Wikipedia). Either way, these golfing cats are a delightful way to wrap up Style Imitating Art for 2022!
The wild-haired kilted Scottish golfer inspired me to choose my plaid midaxi skirt and navy knit blazer as the starting point for my outfit. I know, I usually adhere to the color palette of the artwork, but this time around, I preferred to prioritize other elements in creating my look.
At first, I thought I'd wear my denim button up shirt under the blazer as a riff on the kilted cat's waistcoat/vest, but I wasn't particularly excited about it.
Then my first birthday gift from my mom arrived early, and my husband (not paying attention to the fact that it had my name on the package) opened it and gave it to me and then realized it was probably a birthday present. Luckily for him, my mom had purchased me several things (that came separately in the mail) with an Alice in Wonderland theme, and the one he opened was this Alice graphic T with the phrase "Happy Un-Birthday to Me" on it! So it turns out it was an Un-Birthday present instead and it was just fine to open it on that day. On my actual birthday, I opened the rest of the gifts, including this expandable charm bangle with Alice-themed charms: a striped cat (for the Cheshire Cat), Alice on a clock, "We're All Mad Here," the White Rabbit, and a pocket watch.
The whimsical nature of the Cats Golfing illustrations with what appears to be mice in place of golf balls reminded me so much of the croquet scene in the 1951 Alice in Wonderland Disney movie in which Alice plays croquet against the Queen in an eccentric game using playing card soldiers for arches, live flamingoes for mallets, and live hedgehogs for balls. So I decided to make my outfit a blend of Cats Golfing and Alice croquet!
When I got this graphic T, I had been intrigued by the idea of wearing it with the plaid skirt because the colors work so well together. It's interesting...they don't match, but they do coordinate. (The T is light grey with black, white, light blue, and yellow. The skirt is navy, white, and aqua.) I thought I'd be waiting until summer to test the combination, but this SIA gave me the idea of wearing it with the blazer for a cold weather version.
One tricky thing about a T-shirt + skirt combination is what to do about the hem of the T. Both tucked and untucked didn't look great in this case, so I did a tweak on the good old "tuck the hem under all around to make the shirt look shorter" trick that I remember from junior high. I tucked just the center edge of the T hem into the skirt then smoothed down the front of the T; there are now two layers of T from the fold up to the skirt's waistband. This puts the faux hem (fold) below my natural waist (i.e., long enough not to cut off Alice's feet) but shorter than it was originally. Then I tucked the hem of the T under at that length all around. It stayed in place that way, though it did require a quick adjustment after bathroom breaks.
Both the graphic T + skirt and graphic T + blazer outfit formulas are pretty common, but combining all three pieces in one look feels a bit less expected, which is fun. And pairing the curtseying Alice with a somewhat swooshy skirt just seems right.
For my bracelets, I wore 5 stretch bracelets, all DIY (tutorial) except the navy/silver (from a CJ Banks set). Then I put the Alice charm bangle on the other wrist with my Fitbit. I actually enjoyed hearing the pleasant sound of the charms softly tinkling against each other and the watch. Perhaps like wind chimes and other soothing sound creators, a charm bracelet could reduce stress and anxiety.
It looked to me that the kilted cat was wearing a cravat. And you may recall that in Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty wore a cravat that Alice first mistook for a belt due to his egg shape. Humpty Dumpty explained: "It is a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It was a present from the White King and Queen...they gave it me for an un-birthday present."
The Un-Birthday aspect clinches it, right? So I decided to tie this oblong silk scarf (that I love wearing with this skirt) as a modified cravat to resemble Humpty Dumpty because I wasn't wearing a waistcoat to tuck the ends into like the cat. I first tied it using this cravat tutorial, then pulled both ends to the back and knotted them together. With my hair left loose (to channel some of that lion's mane element of the kilted cat's fur), my earrings don't show very well, but I'm wearing these DIY paperboard earrings in sky blue and white (upcycled from a tissue box; tutorial).
One aspect of the kilted kitty's look I couldn't replicate was his hat...identified helpfully by my husband as a tam o' shanter (named after the hero of the Robert Burns 1790 poem). I tried substituting a bucket hat for the tam but while the color was right, the shape was definitely not going to work for playing golf...it really cut my peripheral vision. I am missing my tam.
Also not working for golf are my suede, leather-soled ankle boots.
This photo reminded me strongly of the illustration of Alice and her obstreperous live flamingo mallet from the croquet scene in the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland book. I even nailed the long wavy hair (that "wants cutting" according to the Mad Hatter, and I can't disagree). Luckily my husband's 9 iron is easier to control than a bad-tempered flamingo.
Now for our Rabbit Imitating Art selection! I decided I would scan through my photos for the least helpful golf companion I could find...and it didn't take long to turn up this sleepy, stretched out lop rabbit, completely relaxed and not going anywhere.
I admit that I had thought kilted cat's reaction to the situation in this illustration was a bit extreme (though I know that golf can make a person...or feline, I suppose...lose it), but it made more sense to me when the lop rabbit was added to the scene! Everyone knows it is completely forbidden to disturb a sleeping bunny on the golf course (or otherwise), so when a rabbit is lying in the way of your putt, there's nothing you can do.
I took a virtual trip to the golf course for a photo op, but wouldn't you know it, there was a lop rabbit flopped out there too! And before I could do more than look down in consternation, all the 2022 Rabbits Imitating Art joined us on the green. Absolutely no golf is being played here! (That's fine, I'd much rather be inundated with bunnies.)
Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating Art post!
To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on 14 Shades of Grey.
Do you like to wear graphic Ts? How do you prefer to style them?
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