The New LBD Is...A Flirt!
Dorothy, you're not in Massachusetts anymore. This time last week I was frantically packing a bag for SXSW while my wife sat in the next room cursing Dying Light and saying I Told You So because I waited, as usual, until the last minute. But I managed, and made my flight just fine first thing the next morning with a whopping four hours of beauty sleep, landing in the Lone Star state for the first time in over a decade amid a thunderstorm that had the creeks and rivers under the plane teeming with churlish water the color of watered-down chocolate milk. Everything looked so violently alive against the drained grey landscape that even a mild New England winter can't escape.
This glorious setting is apparently the best-kept secret in Austin's Hyde Park and I was told those don't exist anymore, but not a one of my Lyft drivers had any clue that Strickland Arms B&B existed, and I had at least thirteen of them over the course of four whirlwind days. Sure, there are photos on the website, but when you pull up to the place, it's like something out of another time.
Gorgeous statues and fountains beckon from a lush green lawn behind a big black iron gate with a stone path leading to stairs guarded by two enormous cast Dobermans that came all the way up to my waist, at which point a classic Southern wraparound porch sprawled out in all directions, dressed in wicker settees and tables and big fans hanging from the ceiling. There was a vintage pram pushed to one side ("What was inside of it," asked my wife, aghast, and of course I looked — "Nothing! Well...at least I think nothing..."), and a small cannon and at least one porch swing over in another.
When I made it to the front door, there was a note taped to it: "Please sign the guest book," it asked politely, "and remove this note once you arrive." My name was typed out neatly with instructions for where to find my room, water, towels for the pool and whatnot. I turned just in time to see the taxi pull away from the curb and shrugged, entering what was clearly at least 5,000 sq. ft. of You're On Your Own, Girl.
"The more you tell me about this place, the more it sounds like the beginning of a horror movie..."
My wife wasn't there, so she doesn't get it. It wasn't at all unnerving for me, it didn't feel even a little creepy, it was just a lovely old place that was completely new to me, meticulously kept and bafflingly, at least briefly, I had it all to myself. Now that might not be everybody's cup of tea, but I absolutely loved the way it felt: off the beaten path, older than dirt, a bit of a time capsule, and silent.
My hunger defeated my curiosity, though, so I just flung all my things into a pile in my room, grabbed the keys, and set out to find the biggest, closest pile of chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy that I could. (Thanks, Hyde Park Grill!)
After that, I perused the cases at Antonelli's Cheese Shop, picked up a few treats from Quack's 43rd St. Bakery and fetched provisions at the Fresh Plus across the street before finally getting myself some caffeine at Dolce Vita, which had a flier for platonic cuddling services, by the way.
Once I was back at the B&B, I poured myself a drink, unpacked, showered, settled in and went over my notes for our Queer Style: Visual Activism and Fashion’s Frontier panel, still two days away. A storm raged overhead, but hours later I rallied and popped out to the East Side Showroom, a family-owned, farm-to-table Creole-Italian restaurant and craft cocktail bar in the East Side. It was pretty much heaven! I didn't even need the provided wooden stool to collapse into the king-size four-poster bed that night, a pretty rad first day in Austin under my (rapidly widening) belt.
A story for another time is how I happened upon this off-shoulder number at Buffalo Exchange on Guadalupe, near the university. (Which is pronounced "gwah-da-LOOP" if you're in Austin, apparently. Don't ask me, I can't make this up!)
I love this dress, this little flirty springtime take on an LBD in a worn denim blue (hold the actual denim). I didn't bring a belt, which will 100% make the outfit, but I wore it anyway because I needed something easy to cover up my Nanette Lepore bikini for a relaxing morning poolside on my last day in Texas.
More soon! Wanna read more about the panel? You can read about the excitement in anticipation of it all at The Advocate, Huffington Post or Unicorn Booty (who I was lucky enough to meet and who were just LOVELY), a recap from the Austin Chronicle here, or read an interview with dapperQ HBIC here.
I'll be writing up a recap of my own for Autostraddle, so make sure you're following me there and at Facebook, Insta or Twitter, which you can find at the top right of the site or preview the feeds down at the bottom. Find me, say hello, and don't forget to leave a comment saying what your most looking forward to when it comes to S/S 2016 fashion!