Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two birds; one sweater.

I'm going to make this:

It's the Two Tone Shrug from Fitted Knits. Only mine won't be two toned. It'll be more of a heathered shrug. I'm making it in Malabrigo 'Bobby Blue.' (You can see it here if you're interested.)  I find the color name a bit annoying but it is awfully pretty. I've had the yarn for a couple of years since I had the brilliant idea to make my BART commute to SF State more productive. It didn't work out especially well- I always had some reading that wasn't finished and needed to be done before class.

I've mentioned before that I have a bad habit. I pick at my cuticles. I tear at them. I chew them. I turn them into a ragged mess, only stopping when they bleed, and even then, not for long. Honestly, it might even qualify as a compulsion rather than merely a habit. Well, I've been thinking that maybe if I keep my hands busy I won't be able to tear myself to pieces. And since the yarn is all ready to go I'll be gaining a sweater without making a purchase (still in the September shopping moratorium) and moving another item from my drawer of shame into the wearable wardrobe. If all goes according to plan I'll break a habit and gain a sweater.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First signs of fall.

It's raining today. Chris and I have had to change our plans from digging up the leaking sprinkler system in the front yard to going to brunch at our favorite local restaurant and watching TCM at home. You can probably guess that neither of us is crushed by this turn of events. I'm going to throw in a few cups of tea and some knitting and call it a perfect Sunday.

It's nowhere near cold, mind you, but at least its cool enough for me to layer. This teal and army green combination is one of my favorites. Two great colors, even better together.

This vintage daisy pin makes me ridiculously happy. I love those bright yellow centers. I almost always pair this pin with these yellow shoes. I know that most fashion experts are against matching shoes and bags these days but I think matching shoes and jewelry looks subtly spectacular. Actually, I think matching shoes and bags look fine too. Fashion stylists may think it looks old fashioned; to me that translates as ladylike vintage sophistication.

Another reason I love this pin is that the French pronunciation of my name- Marguerite- is the name of a type of daisy that looks just like these.

Image from here

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crying Grecian Flapper Face.

Why is the beautiful woman on my shirt crying? Or is she one seriously tough flapper with a prison tattoo? Every time I think its time to get rid of this shirt, I wear it ("one last time") and end up keeping it. Printed T-shirts aren't usually my thing but I think this sad flapper lady is too pretty to part with.

This asymmetrical skirt is one of my favorites. It's stretchy with a very comfortable and forgiving wide waist band. I always feel artsy and unconventional when I wear it. Artsy and unconventional are two character traits to which I aspire. Sometimes I manage to look the part; occasionally, I even manage to act the part.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sparkles and stripes.

I'd probably not be too terribly upset if I found out that I would have to wear a striped shirt everyday for the rest of my life. I'm not sure why that would be exactly, unless I'm sentenced to hard time in a cartoon prison or something. But if it happens I'm going to be okay with the uniform.

I think this outfit is rather reminiscent of Gautier. Not that it looks like anything he designed, but that I look a bit like the man himself, with a striped T-shirt and bleached crew cut. It could be worse I suppose.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Today I met some friends on campus for a picnic lunch. I spent most of my getting ready time this morning preparing my contribution to the picnic so I didn't have much time to dedicate to putting together an outfit. However, I do really like this outfit, in spite of (or, perhaps, because of,) its simplicity.

There are some occasions where simple is best. And an end of summer picnic seems to be one of them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dinner date.

You may remember I said that Chris and I were trying not to eat out at all this month. Well, we haven't done a very good job of sticking to that resolution.

Tonight we went out for what we swear will be our last restaurant meal until we go away next month to celebrate our first anniversary.

This dress is one of those 'fall-back' items it's always good to own. It's the kind of stretchy jersey that can be rolled up into a ball in a suitcase and unfurled without a crease. I pack it on almost every trip I take. It's also a good option when you've left getting ready a bit late and need to throw something on and rush out the door with wet hair, which is what I did this evening.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello, old friend.

I'm thrilled to have this skirt return to my wearable wardrobe.

It's still a tiny bit snug so it is sitting a little high on my waist but I was worried that if I didn't bring it back into the rotation now, I wouldn't get to wear it before summer was over. I can't really explain my love for this skirt. Maybe it's the combination of blues. Maybe it's that it looks like a vintage apron. Maybe it's that I always seem to be a sucker for a skirt with a yoke. Maybe it's the magical slimming effect of horizontal stripes. Who knows? All I know is that, against all reason, I love wearing this skirt. It's freakin' patchwork for heck's sake! If you described this skirt to me I'd tell you, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn't interested. Really, only beds should wear patchwork. And yet, here I am.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

They lied about the wrap dress.

If the fashion magazines and make-over shows are to be believed, wrap dresses are supposed to be universally flattering, and especially good for us bustier, or more padded, ladies. I'm not convinced this is actually true. At least, I remain unconvinced by this particular wrap dress.

I don't think that it is particularly flattering for me. I mean, it's fine, but it's no show stopper, right? I think it makes me look a bit too straight up and down. Maybe that's why all the make-over shows approve of the style? Because it minimizes the curves? But it doesn't minimize them in a very appealing way. Am I being overly critical when I say that this dress makes me look rather solidly built and matronly? I don't think I am- this seems a pretty fair assessment to me.

The sleeves of this dress are a touch too long for me. They're cuffed up in these pictures but I'll shorten them before I wear the dress again. I'm thinking that perhaps the sleeves actually want to be shortened a lot. Like, to the elbows. Would that help?

What I'd really like is a wrap dress that didn't require me to wear a tank underneath to avoid indecency. I'd love a wrap dress that wrapped completely closed over my chest. The tank ruins the look of the V-neck and increases the frump factor considerably.

Also, these black shoes are killing me. Visually, not physically. I almost never like the way black shoes look with anything anymore. I used to wear black shoes with everything, but then again, everything I wore was black, so that makes some sense. Now I'd almost always prefer a colored shoe to a black one, but this dress is black and cream, so black seemed to be the best option. I'm adding a pair of nude heels to my wardrobe wish list. Wouldn't a nude heel look about a thousand times better?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trying to jazz up a T-shirt.

Damn, I need some blouses.

All I have to wear are T-shirts and tank tops. I tried to spice this one up with a belt today. It kind of worked, I guess, but a blouse would have been a bit more sophisticated, no?

I've had my eye on this pattern for a while. People online seem to love it. What do you think? Is this something that could replace all of the T-shirts in my summer wardrobe?

From Colette Patterns

Oh, and in the interest of wardrobe honesty- I swapped out my shoes for the walk across campus. I've made the cross campus trek in the wedges before and it wasn't especially comfortable. These aqua flats were much more practical, if not as sassy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today, I am pleased.

This dress is one of very few garments I own that I think looks good, fits well, AND looks like me.

What I need is a whole wardrobe full of garments that I like as much as I like this dress. I have a pattern for a dress with a similar shape that I picked up at the thrift store recently (for half off of twenty-five cents!) The pattern/dress has princess seams which (I hope) should make fitting fairly easy. Of course, I have no idea when I'll have time to sew- finishing my thesis has to take priority right now. But one day I'll have some free time again.

Not the most glamorous of pattern envelopes!

In the meantime, I'm going to try to keep in mind that I want to feel in all of my clothes the way I feel in this dress. I'm going to try not to buy anything that doesn't please me as much as this dress does.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can I figure out how to please myself?

It started out with me arguing with myself about whether this was a *blog worthy* outfit or not. And it kind of went downhill from there:
     "I should post every day, whether I love my outfit or not- that was what I wanted the blog to be."
     "But my outfits don't seem to be getting any better and that was the point of posting everything, so I'd improve."
     "But you have to keep at it. It's a process. It might take a long time, but it will be worth the effort in the end."
     "But all people will see on my blog are these boring outfits."
     "But it's your blog so the only person you have to worry about pleasing is yourself."
     "Ahhh, but there's the real problem. I'm not pleasing myself. And yes, before you say anything else, I do know that I have lots to be pleased about (blah, blah, blah) but I'm just not feeling it right now."     
     "You are never pleased with anything you do."
     "Shit. That is true. Damn it. That sucks for me."

NEVER ever being happy with myself is a pretty serious problem. Actually, I ought to be able to celebrate how well I am able to function in spite of this affliction, but that would be out of character. And there are a number of things I should feel pretty good about right now. For instance, today I'm wearing pants I haven't been able to wear in a year. Thanks to the healthy lifestyle changes I've made I've lost about 12 pounds. As a reward for dropping below the 170 pound mark this weekend I went through all of my stored clothes and reclaimed three pairs of pants and two skirts that I couldn't fit into before. I'm planning on doing this as I meet each successive ten pound goal.

I've been doing a great job sticking to my New Year's resolution. I don't think I've ever made it this far into a year with a resolution still in effect. My closet is much more organized (but not perfect yet)- and I can wear everything in my current wardrobe- even if most of it bores me to tears.

I've even managed to do a bit of mending that I'd been putting off for an embarrassingly long time. But, other than the pride I feel for having completed tasks that had been hanging over me, this hasn't been as exciting as I'd hoped. And it hasn't added much punch to my wardrobe. If my 'work basket' had contained anything really fantastic I'd probably have mended it before now.

Even managing to keep going with the blog ought to be something I can pat myself on the back about. It hasn't been easy. I'm trying awfully hard to embrace myself but my inner critic is a bitch, literally. I'm punching her in the face right now by posting an outrageous number of photos of myself in this outfit I'm still not sure is actually blog worthy.

I'm convinced that I can get to a point where I'll look in the mirror and think, "I look great in this; I can't wait to post it!" It's not this outfit, and it's not today, but that day is coming. And I believe that keeping up this blog is going to help me get there. Thanks for helping me along.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chic Chapeau

I felt adorable in the sweet sunhat I wore today:

Unfortunately, the jeans weren't a great choice for today's 90 degree temps. I was a sweaty mess after my walk across campus. I just don't seem to do warm weather dressing well at all.

I guess that means that I need to add couple of sundresses to my shopping (or sewing) list.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Will I ever stop wishing I was Audrey Hepburn?

The answer, of course, is NO. Things might go a bit easier for me if I could let this piece of wishful thinking go. I was thinking of her when I bought these pants, when I should have been thinking of my own, generously proportioned, thighs. It was my thighs I was supposed to be regarding in the dressing room mirror when I decided to buy these, but somehow images of Funny Face become superimposed over my reflection.

In my defense, these pants have a number of things to recommend them. They aren't black, for one. They're actually a dark hunter green. I've been wishing there were more colored pants around. I know there's this whole brightly colored pants trend afoot right now, but that's not what I'm after. I don't need fire engine red pants, mustard yellow slacks, or electric blue jeans. It seems to me that pants in nice, deep, dark colors ought to be as flattering and easy to wear as black pants, without the yawn factor. I'm thinking about a rich, nautical navy (not the navy, which is so indistinguishable from black that you have to hold the fabric an inch from your nose to tell the difference, so why bother really, that you can find in the stores,) a dark plummy purple, a forest green, even a very, very dark burgundy. Surely pants in these colors would provide all the slimming and lump camouflaging effects of black pants with out being so deadly dull! But pants like these are nowhere to be found. These green skinnies seemed like a step in the right direction.

Another point in their favor is that they are, actually, pants. They have a zipper and a waistband. They are not leggings. I was hoping these pants would function like leggings, but with a bit of a retro vibe (ala Miss Hepburn.)

In spite of all they have going for them the pants aren't a success for me. The problem is one of balance. The narrow legs don't help at all to balance my bulky upper body. I know it looks okay in the pictures here- I picked those pictures. I'm including a wide ass shot too, so you can see what I'm complaining about. I'm not making the photo any bigger though. I have my pride.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I bounce back from a crushing blow.

I had another work-basket rescue post planned for yesterday. I'd dutifully stitched replacement buttons onto another cardigan- a basic black cardigan with new, simple, matte black buttons. But when I got dressed for pictures I discovered I couldn't button the sweater. Major bummer. I probably could have gotten away with just wearing it, without buttoning it, but I don't want to make this kind of compromise with my clothes anymore. And I don't need to wear a constant reminder of my body's failure to meet my expectations. There's also the problem that whenever I try to pull off the I-can-wear-it-I-just-can't-button-it trick I always end up in a situation where I'm cold and would really like to button my sweater or jacket and not being able to makes me feel stupid. And feeling stupid and fat is a lethal combination.

I wasn't able to bounce back from the small sweater fiasco yesterday, but today I'm ready to get back on the horse, so to speak. It will take more than one too small cardigan to finish me. The offending sweater has been tucked away, out of sight, in my storage closet.

I'm much happier today in a sweater which does button (even if I choose not to do so.)

I think I've worn this outfit exactly the same way on the blog before. The shoes might have been different, or I might have had another necklace on, but the green striped dress and blue cashmere sweater combo is the same. I don't ever see myself becoming one of those bloggers who never wears the same items the same way twice. I'm not much of a *re-mixer.* I like the idea of having outfits that I know I love and being able to put them on and go. That's what I've been hoping this blog will help me to achieve. But once it starts really working, what does that mean for the blog? Is it going to be all, "Here I am again in my favorite dress, and don't I look every bit as lovely as I did when I wore it last week?" Obviously, I'm not even close to that point yet. So I guess this is more about me apologizing for not taking the time to experiment with novel clothing combinations than it is about the likelihood of me outgrowing the blog any time soon. I'll try to come up with something more inspired for tomorrow.

Let's return for a moment to my reasons for blogging:
I'm hoping that it's going to help me to identify what works and eliminate what doesn't. In the case of this dress, for instance, I don't think that the high waist is great for me. If I were less busty the effect of the high waist would work to emphasize my narrow ribcage. Instead, I end up looking as if my boobs are at my waist- and friends, let me assure you, while that day may be coming, it is not here yet!

Compare today's dress to this similar one with a waist seam that hits at my natural waist. Much better, right? When I bought this dress I didn't think I could zip up the bodice; I was planning on turning it into a skirt. In light of the 'high waist revelation' I'm leaning in this direction once again. What do you guys think? I'd still have the problem of not having any tops that fit- but it's not as if this dress is really solving that problem anyway.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A long overdue work-basket rescue.

Chris and I have made a pact not to buy any non-essentials for the month of September. For me this translates roughly into, "Don't buy any clothes," and for Chris it's more like, "Don't buy any new games or computer equipment." We were both supposed to forgo eating out for the month too, but we already caved on that part of the bargain when we woke up to discover that we didn't have enough milk for our morning coffee. Sure, we could have gotten dressed and gone to the store for milk, but the idea of grocery shopping before coffee seemed needlessly punishing- especially when compared to the much more civilized plan of enjoying a leisurely brunch and then grocery shopping. When you also consider that Chris had been rousted from bed at three in the morning to deal with an emergency outage at work, you must agree that we practically had to go to brunch!

Any way, since I'm not going to be getting anything new to wear in September, I've decided to dedicate this month to fixing all the things which have been languishing in my work-basket. (Which is really a drawer and not a basket but a work-drawer rescue sounds like it involves organizing paperclips and hanging file folders.) This cardigan is my first success this month (although, technically, the skirt I wore in my last post came out of the work basket too.) It was missing a couple of buttons. I replaced the few remaining pearl buttons with something similar and, inspired by my handiwork, I got a tiny bit creative and added a couple of flower shaped mother of pearl buttons to the two embroidered flowers that had long ago lost their pearl centers.

For someone who has a degree in fashion with an emphasis on custom sewing and alteration it's embarrassing to admit how little sewing I do now. It's so little that I'm actually pretty pleased with myself for sewing on these buttons. I hope this month will give me the kick in the pants I need to start sewing again- at least to start mending and altering again. I'll also be working on a defined wardrobe plan this month. Let's hear it for short term goals!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Completely blah.

I put quite a bit of work into this not very successful outfit. I foolishly bought this skirt without trying it on. It fits at the waist but it is strangely somehow built with a much more curvy hip line than mine. This curvy construction creates an almost bubble skirt effect on me.

I attempted to alleviate some of the puffiness with a bit of judicious pressing. The skirt is 100% linen so it wasn't completely crazy to think I could reshape it with an iron. However, it didn't help much.
The little bow detail above the flounce was all droopy and sad and curled up looking. I pressed it out and tacked it in place.
I even considered hemming my shirt to improve the proportions of this outfit but ultimately I decided it wouldn't make much difference.

This top is an example of the type of compromise I end up making when I try to find ready to wear that works for my body. I believe that the wearer's chest is actually supposed to be contained within the area above the first horizontal ruffle. Then the band between the first and second horizontal ruffles should sit below the wearer's chest and the shirt should then flare out nicely over the hips. As you can see, that's not the way it works on me.

These little rubber shoes are supposed to be "rain skimmers." I tried wearing them in the rain once. It was pretty much a disaster. They are so low cut that I might as well have been running barefoot through the puddles. Lesson learned: wear boots in the rain; save the skimmers for the summer.