Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jeans Again.

I own jeans again. After the last two pairs of jeans in my wardrobe bit the dust due to inner thigh issues, (repeat mantra: I love my curves. I love my curves,) I decided I wasn't going to replace them. My rationale for this decision was that if I didn't own jeans I wouldn't wear them. While this simple logic is, in fact, correct, it doesn't tell the full story of what I was hoping would happen. I was hoping that by not wearing jeans I would be transformed into someone more sophisticated and polished, someone who didn't need to wear jeans, someone who didn't want to.

As it turns out, I'm not that person. I missed having jeans. I guess I have to cut myself some slack- I am a student after all. Jeans are pretty practical for the life I'm living now. These came from the thrift store so I don't feel too guilty about breaking down and buying them. Owning one pair of jeans is acceptable.

I'm less pleased with this top. I own two of these. The other is solid navy. I loved them in the store. The puffy, wrapped around sleeve seemed to balance my chest and add some interest to what would otherwise be a plain T-shirt. I'm a bit disappointed that a single wash rendered these shirts limp and tired looking. And, for the record, that was a single cold water wash on the delicate setting and in a freakin' lingerie bag, for crying out loud. I'd expect this from Target, not from Anthropologie. I paid around thrity dollars for each of these shirts, on sale, and I feel ripped off. If I'd paid full price I'd be pissed.

I'm currently obsessed with these red jellies. I love that the holes look like polka-dots. When my mom saw them she threatened to call my nephews and tell them they should tease me about my new shoes. Why would they do this? Well, according to my mom, because I tease them about wearing Crocs should tease me about my plastic shoes. I do tease them about their Crocs (and their Uggs) because they are my least favorite shoes on the planet, but they're kids so they get a pass on the ugly shoes and I only tease them in fun. And my plastic shoes are adorable. I'm convinced that jellies have a whimsey and nostalgia that Crocs simply do not possess.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm still not sure about this top.

I wore this top that my mother picked for me the last time we went thrift store shopping to go to the thrift stores with her again today. It seemed right. I'm still not sure I like the shirt. It's fine from the front but rather reminiscent of maternity wear from the side.

But it fits. And I have so few tops that fit.  So it stays in the rotation- for now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Happy Tale of an Ill Fated Dress.

I don't know what it is about this dress. Something always seems to happen to keep it off the blog.

I picked it up at the thrift store because it seemed like kind of thing I should like. Then I proceeded to pass it over every chance I got. I pulled it out last week with the intention of maligning it here as yet another poorly fitting dress. Color me surprised- it fits quite a bit better than I remembered. I was being overly judgmental. I still need to cover it with a sweater but it could easily be altered to fit perfectly.

The first day I wore the dress I was too rushed to take photos but I liked it so much I planned to wear it the next day and take pictures then. The next day I managed to spill taco sauce on the dress before said photos could be taken. I had to leave for a meeting today before being photographed. I walked a long way across campus and, since I couldn't take off the sweater in public, I got pretty sweaty. This is the first time I've worn this belt. The interaction of wet dress and new belt resulted in some icky looking color transfer around the waist. I don't think you can see it in the pictures and I was determined to get this dress up on the blog. At the rate I'm going the dress might burst into flames the next time I wear it.

I'd be more upset about the dye coming off the belt if I wasn't so thrilled about how nice it looks with this outfit. The dress came with a skinny self-fabric sash, which is fine but not especially snazzy. I wore the dress with the sash every other time I wore it. Today I really wanted to style it up a little. I own a lot of belts. I almost never wear them. I've been trying to. I put them on, scowl in the mirror, and take them off again. I was beginning to wonder if maybe I just couldn't wear belts. I know how this sounds- who can't wear belts? But I looked seriously sausage-like every time I tried. Everything seemed to be bulging everywhere. Today there's not a bulge in sight. I'm sure it's because of the dress. On previous occasions I was trying to make bad outfits look better with belts. Today I achieved accessorizing success because I was truly accessorizing- adding some interest to a flattering outfit; not trying to salvage a crappy one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sailing Ships and Silver Bullets.

My to do list for today includes cleaning the house to receive two sets of overnight guests this week, washing and hanging multiple loads of laundry, and getting my hair done. The cleaning is more tidying and dusting and vacuuming than scouring and scrubbing (that comes tomorrow) so I'm not wearing the bleach scarred T-shirt and sweat pants I'd usually don for a major cleaning spree. You will never see those on this blog.

I like everything about this skirt except the length, which almost completely ruins it for me. It's not so insurmountable a flaw that I won't wear the skirt but every time I do wear it I wish with all my might that it will (somehow, someway) be longer. And, as you might expect, it remains too short. But it has sailing ships and nautical maps and decorative top stitching and rick-rack trim (at the waistband, under my T-shirt) and all these are very good things, even if showing my knees isn't.

This slightly crazy expression is due to Chris getting annoyed with me blinking while he was taking photos.

The necklace, which I affectionately call my bullet-butt necklace ('cause it's the bottom of a bullet) was a gift. My sister-in-law was wearing a similar necklace that I admired. Her's is a different bullet, I think, but you couldn't prove it by me. I'm no ballistics expert. I was lucky enough to receive my own for Christmas because I was pretty vocal in my admiration of my sister-in-law's necklace. You might say I was hinting up a storm for my own, adorable, silver bullet necklace. I wore the necklace constantly when I got it and then Gabrielle Giffords was shot. And suddenly bullets didn't seem quite as adorable any more. I still loved my necklace- to me it was more of a fashion statement than a political statement. I was thinking about the juxtaposition of sweet and tough symbolism and of True Blood style defense against werewolves, not actual people being slaughtered and maimed. But that was what was foremost in people's minds at the time and I wasn't willing to risk being misunderstood and causing offense.

The bullet itself is not actually silver. It's made from whatever it is that bullets are normally made of, which is obviously not silver or silver bullets would just be called bullets. But the necklace itself is silver. And adorable. And, hopefully, not offensive to anyone.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Can rhinestones turn a T-shirt into an outfit?

I was just going to throw on this skirt and T-shirt and take the cat to the vet. (Just regular shots; he's fine- although it may take him a while to get over what he regards as a savage betrayal of his trust in us.) I added the sweater, didn't love it, took the sweater off again, untucked the T, noticed a small stain on the bottom of the T, tucked it in again, and decided that I needed to make some kind of special effort. Inspired by Jentine, I tossed a couple of rhinestone earrings and a pin on the neckline of the T-shirt. I really liked the effect of the earrings as dress clips. Especially as I've been trying to come up with more *rhinestones are for everyday* ideas. I think this reads as *prettily decorated T-shirt* and not *crazy lady wearing every piece of costume jewelry she owns.* Please tell me I'm right.

Unfortunately in this detail photo you can see the rash currently developing in my cleavage.  Chris and I have been really good about walking at least four nights a week and the combination of sports bra squeezing and sweat has caused my chest to break out. I'm trying not to let this become an excuse not to be active but it sure is unappealing and uncomfortable. The good news is that if we keep walking and I loose weight and my chest gets smaller it shouldn't happen anymore- it has never happened before so I'm assuming it is due to the heretofore unprecedented largeness of the boobage.

This polka dot skirt is a little large and I've been on the fence about whether it's actually worth altering. I love polka dots but the size of these makes them seem a bit juvenile. The skirt came to me via the thrift store but I'm sure it originated in some juniors department or another. It's very cheaply constructed. If I were to make something like this myself I would at least treat the dots as horizontal  stripes and have them line up nicely across the front of the skirt. On the plus side, the skirt has a certain whimsey about it, which I like, and it's long enough. I should alter it just for the practice, really.

In addition to coveting the rhinestone collections of other bloggers, I've been admiring their locations. Chris takes my photos in his office. I come in, open the shutters, and close the closet doors so you can't see the junk piled inside. Chris spins his office chair around and snaps away. When I told him (actually, I might have kind of whined to him,) that Jentine's husband actually drives to places to photograph her against interesting backgrounds he immediately volunteered, "We could do that." But then he quickly recovered with, "But we barely have the time to do this." He's right, of course, but seriously, how beautiful is this post? (Okay, okay- If I'm honest I would feel a bit...touched...rolling around in a field but something a bit more picturesque than the closet doors would be nice sometimes.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

What do I have to do?

I think I might have to swear off buying jewelry and shoes for a while. No, I haven't gone on a crazy accessories buying binge recently or anything but I've got F*** all to wear and I keep behaving as if getting a new 'statement' ring is going to solve all my wardrobe problems. Investing in some clothes that fit me would be a more practical way to spend my money. I love the ring. It is a tangible memory of a wonderful outing. It makes me sad to think about not owning it. (I even put it on after writing this as proof of my love.) But heck! I keep getting rid of clothes that don't flatter me and replacing them and baubles and purses- beautiful, adorable, fun, fantastic, but not sensible.

Making a wardrobe plan of any kind has always struck me as a rather boring practice. Fashion pedantism. (This is not an actual word apparently, but should be. Pedanthood is a word but I don't like it as much as the word I seem to have made up.) I've always been more of a thrill seeking shopper, buying things to which I feel a strong emotional attraction. As a result I own at lot of amazing accessories and I still have nothing to wear. I'm starting to think that my eliminating plan isn't getting me close enough to where I want to be. Getting rid of clothes has been even easier than I thought it would be but, while my closet is slowly emptying, I'm not making the great strides forward style-wise that I was hoping for. It's time to really get serious about how I want to look. And here would be the place where I told you what I wanted, if I had ANY FREAKING IDEA what that was. Yeah, I see some serious wardrobe planning in my future.

I was having another tough day in the closet today. I'd actually forgotten I owned this top until I found it at the bottom of a drawer. This top might be the solution to the aforementioned tank top problem. It provides all of the benefits of a tank top but it's got a bit more pizazz. I bought this top in New Zealand (not the last time we visited, but the time before.) I love the color. I find the construction fascinating- it's cut in one piece with the fold of the fabric at the shoulder seam. I think the asymmetric shoulder tie and draped neckline pulls the attention up, away from my chest, in a way a tank top can't. I need more things like this.

I've got my work cut out for me. Get serious. Make some decisions about how I want to look. Come up with a plan. Start shopping with my head instead of my heart. It's not going to be easy, but it might be fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A return to the summer formula.

I tried to wear something more exciting today. I really tried. And it was such an epic failure I am still heartsick from the attempt. I tired layering. I tried belts. I tried playing with the proportions.  The dress in question has been retired for the time being. It now resides in a storage box in my workroom closet. I can't part with it yet, but I'm not going to put myself through the soul crushing humiliation of trying to wear it again for a while. It fits. It's not the kind of dress that becomes too tight to get into. It's the kind of dress that manages simultaneously to conceal every appealing thing about my figure and highlight every flaw. So why won't I just get rid of this awful dress? I do not have a good answer for you (or a photo- it was just too horrible.) Sorry. Maybe later.

After weathering the perfect storm of ugliness that was my initial attempt at getting dressed, I stood around miserable and naked in my closet for a while before selecting this:

Two layered tanks and a skirt. Yawn. But at least it's not reducing me to tears to look at myself in the mirror. Sometimes you just have to move on. Tomorrow is another day (as Ms. O'Hara would say.)

My hair looks terrific here- why do I have such a sour look on my face?

I did try to fancy it up a little with the addition of a vintage rhinestone brooch. I'm not sure if this qualifies as terrific or trying too hard.

It's a bit the worse for wear- but that's part of it's charm, no?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is good enough really good enough?

This dress is representative of  a particular category of clothing in my wardrobe. This category contains clothes that I wear, and even wear often, that have elements that work well for me but also have some serious problems.

You might call this type of clothing 'good enough, but not great.'  If I were rating my clothing on a scale from one to ten, these items would be the sixes, sevens and eights. The overall shape of this dress works for me but the skirt is too short for my liking. I like the bold floral print but the fabric is a bit thin. I can get into the dress but the bodice doesn't fit me correctly and doesn't even cover my underwear. I can only wear this dress with a sweater or a jacket on top. Even with all its limitations I've worn this dress quite often. Certainly often enough to know that I like the style and I'd love to own a dress like this that fits me well and in which I'd feel comfortable taking off my sweater in public.

In an ideal world, of course, all my garments would be tens, and I hope that blogging will help get me closer to that point. But for the present I have to be pragmatic and accept that if I'm not wearing less than perfect clothing I'm not going to be left with much to wear. The most effective course of action I can adopt in the future is not to acquire any more clothing that isn't perfect. But, to be fair, this dress was a five dollar thrift store purchase and I do wear it.

And therein lies the big question: is good enough to get by really good enough? And should the cost make the answer different? After all, only you and I know it was a bargain, to the rest of the world it's just an ill fitting dress. Is it conceivable that I don't yet own a dress that fits me perfectly because I own several of these poorly fitting ones? I don't like to think of myself as someone who settles for substandard anything, but my wardrobe is clearly telling a different story about what I'm willing to accept.

The biggest issue for me is fit. Even when I was much slimmer my chest was hugely out of proportion when compared to most ready to wear clothing. And now- the thought of finding a jacket that actually buttons seems an impossible dream. I'd like to start developing a wardrobe that is more chic and tailored but I think that probably means I'll have to do more sewing.

If I were to recreate and perfect this dress I'd give it a correctly fitting bodice (duh!), a wider bra strap concealing strap, and a hem at the more lady like just-below-the-knee length.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Staples.

I seem to wear something like this almost everyday in the summertime. A lightweight skirt, a couple of tank tops, ballet flats and barely any make-up.

It's an easy combination and it seems to meet my needs on any given day, but it certainly isn't what I'd call exciting. I don't like the fact that summer seems be my excuse for devolving into someone who matches her shoes to her undershirt and calls it an outfit. But I'm not sure what else I could wear in the summer besides tanks- my summer clothing needs to be easy to launder and sleeveless. I sweat like crazy in the heat of the Central Valley and I can't abide sporting damp underarms in public.

Chris professes not to "understand" the layered tank top look. I'm not sure what there is to understand exactly. A single tank top is just a bit too sheer in the bust area for me so I need  to wear more than one at a time. Layering allows me to include some brighter colors than I might otherwise be comfortable wearing. And I'm convinced that multiple tank tops have a Spanx-like effect. I might be kidding myself with this one though- I had to sort through a lot of photos today to find a couple which didn't feature a huge, unsightly roll of back fat, prominently on display. Oh well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The kind of low maintenance I'd like to be.

I was running behind this morning and had about twenty minutes to get dressed and ready and get out of the house. I made it with time to spare to take these photos for the blog. I had to reduce my routine to sticking just my head under the shower, combing my hair, and applying deodorant, sunscreen, mascara and brow pencil. Full disclosure-the mascara and brow pencil were layered over the smudged remains of yesterday's makeup. Terrible, I know. And also slightly sad that I look pretty much the same as I always do.

I think today that I came close to actually being the kind of low maintenance I'd like to be. I aspire to be the kind of woman who can be ready to go at a moments notice; who's comfortable enough with her appearance that she doesn't need to be dolled up to participate in her life. In reality I'm much more likely to get bent out of shape and not want to do anything when I don't think I look my best. But today I was more like the woman I want to be. I'm kind of proud of me.

These aren't the best photos of me but they are some of the few photos from today where the stripes on my dress aren't dissolving into a psychedelic, swirly mess. In keeping with the spirit of today's post I chose to place photo quality over flattering facial expressions and poses.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ruffles and T-strap sandals.

I was desperate to own the sandals I'm wearing today after seeing them in the Anthropologie catalog two years ago. My heart literally ached when I thought of those stained glass like cut outs in the back. They were back ordered for months. Anthro kept offering to cancel my order but I hung in there, longingly imagining how chic my feet would be in my beautiful new sandals. I had been recently obsessing over a photo of Diana Vreeland reclining in a tiled Moroccan courtyard and wearing a pair of exquisitely simple T-straps. These were supposed to be my DV sandals.

Unfortunately in reality the sandals haven't lived up to the fantasy. Even though I ordered two sizes and kept the pair that fit best, these sandals somehow manage to be simultaneously too narrow and too large for my feet. The soles are designed for a longer, slimmer foot than mine so my pinky toes often hang over the edges but the part that holds the sandal on your foot (someone as into shoes as I should probably know the technical term for this but I don't) is so loose that the sandal flops around on my foot and sometimes I catch the toe of the sole on cracks in the sidewalk and pitch forward, nearly falling on my face.

My feet aren't beautiful. I assure you I'm not one of those people who thinks all feet are hideous or has hang-ups about random body parts that no one else would notice. I don't think my feet are horrible looking. I just think that they need shoes that are a bit less revealing than these. My feet are kind of broad and lumpy. They need the distracting camoflauge of a wider strap, or more straps- in these you just see too much un-beautiful foot. I'm guessing Diana Vreeland had prettier feet than I.

The ruffled cardigan was a gift from my father. It originally had ties at the waist that I couldn't tie. I left them dangling the first few times I wore it but I didn't like them just hanging there. I agonized for a while about cutting the ties off. If I were to slim down, pulling the cardigan in at the waist would be more flattering for my shape but making the cut would mean that I could increase my enjoyment of  it now. I decided to cut and I'm happy I did.

I must have been missing my dad today because the necklace I chose was also a gift from him, from his recent trip to Vienna.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Note to self- Don't cuff these pants again.

Today's outfit combines two elements that conventional fashion wisdom would suggest that someone fighting in my weight class shouldn't wear, and certainly shouldn't pair. White pants and horizontal stripes.

I'm always hoping for a Jean Seberg kind of vibe when I wear this top.

Image from:

Today I've achieved more of a "this is what I wear to clean the barnacles off the summer folks' boats" vibe. Nowhere near as chic, but I like the effect, in spite of its (or maybe because of) challenging a couple of chunky girl clothing taboos.

I thought I was upping the sporty quotient of the outfit by cuffing the pants. Turns out I was just upping the stumpy leg quotient. It can be surprising how different things appear in photographs than in the mirror. I liked the way these narrow painter's pants looked with a cuff until I saw the pics. I'd benefit from a little leg elongation. Especially since I've thrown every other tenet of dressing to appear slimmer out of the window here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Not quite a Thrift Star.

My outfit today reminded me of those featured on blogs that celebrate thrift store shopping and amazingly low cost outfits. I purchased this chambray dress at the thrift store last week. I got the red flats at the same thrift store about a year ago. The white tee is one of several acquired while shopping with my sister. If memory serves these T-shirts were marked down to around four dollars AND my sister had a 40% off coupon. I think between the two of us we bought out every medium T-shirt in the store.

Chambray Dress: Thrifted ($3.99) V-neck Tee: Ann Taylor Loft ($2.40) Shoes: Thrifted ($4.99)  

What screwed me up was the purse. Although it's recycled it wasn't cheap. It puts this outfit at a total cost of closer to two hundred dollars than twelve. But that money contributes to a good cause.

This made me wonder about whether the women who blog about the low cost of their apparel include their jewelry. By their rules should I include my wedding and engagement ring in calculating the cost of my outfit?  Or would I get to call those items "gifted" and leave it at that?


It was my intention to alter this dress to pull in the waist, but after washing and drying it I found it a bit more snug than when I bought it. I've tried wearing it a couple times now without making any changes and I thought I was content with the way it looked. After seeing these photos I'm less content. It looks like a twelve dollar outfit, and that's not the way it's supposed to work. It's supposed to be a twelve dollar outfit that looks like a million bucks.  I'm not even sure I like it enough to make the alterations. But at least I'm only out four dollars for the dress.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Excuses, excuses...

Well, I've got a bunch of excuses for why I haven't posted in months, but I'm sure no one really wants to hear them. Suffice it to say, the past few months have been filled with much soul searching (some of which I'm planning to share here soon) and not a little self loathing (which I'm not planning on subjecting you to, mostly because I don't want to give my negative interior dialog the space to affirm itself.)

One of the challenges I'm facing right now, aside from the summer heat, is that I'm out of school, working from home on my thesis and some statistical analysis for a research project my major professor is doing. I'm only required to actually leave my house about once a week so getting dressed in anything that's fit for public consumption hasn't been a priority. Today I've at least removed my pajamas, taken a shower, and put some product in my hair to prevent it from standing straight up on end, ala Billy Idol. (Sadly, that's a look I've been unintentionally rocking quite a bit this summer due to my infrequent showers.)

Today I'm crunching numbers and writing in slouchy striped pants and a tee. 

If I needed proof that fashion is a social phenomenon I have it now. I'm sure there are people who truly dress for themselves but I'm willing to bet that most people are like me and won't get out of their lounge wear unless there's going to be someone who's likely to appreciate the effort. Even if that someone is just the UPS guy.

I've been wearing this new ring, purchased as part of my *Perfect Birthday Weekend* in the City, even on those days when I haven't gotten out of my PJ's. Chris thinks it's pretty lame that I will put on my new jewelry, and sit around admiring it, while I'm still clad in sleep creased pajamas and fuzzy sheepskin slippers. But I love new baubles. And, to my credit, this ring looks great paired with my blue striped grandpa style PJ's.

Please excuse the ratty, frayed cuticles- picking is a nervous habit I'm trying to break.

The photo doesn't capture how beautiful the Labradorite stone is when the light catches it. It's an ever changing combination of dark blue and light aqua with flecks of green and brown. I think it looks a lot like the color of my eyes.

Glass heart locket- a Valentine's gift from Chris.

My sister and my nephews talked me into getting these shoes. While they were visiting from Southern California we hit the outlet mall in nearby Vacaville. The boys needed new shoes so we found ourselves at the Van's outlet. My oldest nephew spent some time convincing me that Van's are far superior to Converse. His argument was, essentially, that Van's are *way* cooler. And since he is eleven this seemed to me to be a pretty compelling argument. Kids know cool, right? The deal at the outlet was buy one pair get the second pair at half off. The boys were each getting a pair and my sister had selected a pair but I was kind of on the fence. I don't wear sneakers very often and I've been devoted to Converse since the good old days when I used to decorate them myself, often with obscene words. At the last minute, as everyone was checking out, these caught my eye and I succumbed to the peer pressure and the lure of splitting the discount difference with my sister.

Seriously comfy shoes!

Three weeks later- I've worn these every other day since we bought them, Chris liked them so much we went out and got him a similar pair, and my sister sent me an email to let me know her husband had torn up my check. So, to recap, that's a gifted pair of shoes that I wear all the time, that make me seem a little bit cooler to my nephews, and that are super comfortable. Winner!