Monday, June 25, 2012

Visible Monday: How I want you to see me.

If, after a year and a half of blogging outfits, I have a style formula, this is it:

An easy but sophisticated dress, striking shoes, and vintage costume jewelry. This looks and feels like me. Because I'm in the process of planning and packing a wardrobe that will get me through four to six months of traveling for work I've been giving the idea of creating a 'formula' more thought than I usually would. Outfit blogging (at least the way I've been doing it) seems to be about experimentation, about stretching your style wings and seeing if a particular look soars or flops. I've tried a lot of different things here on the blog, with varying degrees of success, but this type of look epitomizes how I want to be seen. Comfortable, stylish, not too fussy, but with some personal touches that reflect my (hopefully sparkling) personality. Add a few hats and a couple of cardigans to this formula and that's me in a nutshell. Or rather, in a small suitcase.

The feather print dress is new, from the Canadian company Smoking Lily, a souvenir of the Victoria BC stop of our recent Alaskan cruise. The multiple strand bead necklace is one which used to belong to my 'step' grandmother, part of a collection of her things I received recently which I jokingly call 'my inheritance'. The shoes are strappy platform sandals in a color enticingly called raisin, which it turns out is indistinguishable from plain old brown.

I'm wearing the dress sleeveless, with my tattoo showing, today but when I'm working I'm planning to layer a 3/4 length sleeve boat-neck shirt underneath. Also, these awesome but impractical shoes are not coming with me. This time.

I'm linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style. Click on over and say 'Hi' to Patti and all the other stylish folks who hang out over there.

Friday, June 22, 2012

10 pairs of essential shoes?

I feel in my gut that 10 pairs might be a bit much for a traveling wardrobe but this is my first attempt at deciding what to take and what to leave behind:

1. Metallic peep-toe wedges. These are the closest thing to a nude shoe I currently own. The color description on these was 'pewter' but to my eye they look like soft rose gold. I'm pretty confident that most of the places I will be traveling to will be pretty warm, if not actually tropical.

2. Strappy woven wedge sandals. These are surprisingly comfortable for being as high as they are. Not that I would want to walk for miles in them. But if I anticipated needing to walk for miles I'd change shoes.

3. Pointy-toed business pumps. The closest thing to a classic shoe that I own. They'd work with skirt suits and A-line skirts. They would also probably look great with a great pair of wide-legged or flared trousers- neither of which I own now, but which I would like to. This particular pair was thrifted for $5.00. I am not familiar with the brand but they look a bit cheap to me (plastic heels, boring buckle decoration) so this is a pair I'd like to upgrade eventually. I'm including them here because a) I can not afford the upgrade right now and b) they are otherwise the most professional looking shoes I own.

4. Peep-toe d'orsay pumps. I love these. They have a distinctly 1950's feel to them. They work for day or evening. They look great with full skirts, which I prefer to wear in hot climates. The peep-toe is more like a peep-hole in the top of the shoe than a cut out so not a lot of toe shows. These shoes are way more me, and also much better quality shoes than the #3 pumps.

5. Chunky stacked heel pumps. These are Dr. Scholls and thus, quite comfortable. They have a kind of funky 1970's vibe and they look very nice with opaque tights. I have a couple of dresses that I prefer to wear with these shoes because the combination seems to take the feminine edge off of the dresses.

6. Black kitten heels. These are comfortable, practical, and professional. I can walk it them. They have a good heel height for wearing with pants. If it came to a choice between these and the #3 'business pumps' I'd choose these.

7. Sneakers for walking around, sight seeing, hanging out. These look kind of okay with skirts too.

8. Sliver flower flats. I've got to have a pair of ballet flats and these are incredibly comfortable and the silver metallic color goes with everything. No brainer.

9. Black hippie sandals. Chris and I each bought a pair of these hand made sandals (his are flip flops) at a Davis event we affectionately call "hippie fest." It's actually called the Whole Earth Festival  but hippie fest pretty well sums it up. Any-who, these sandals are made by hand, in California, of incredible quality and so comfortable I have worn them to walk 5 plus miles without an issue (other than being exhausted but that's another story.) I also think that they make my feet look enormously wide and ungainly but I am able to get over this because they are otherwise superb. Plus they also look very much like the 'Roman sandals' I wore as a kid with my school uniform so they have nostalgia value as well.

10. Woven top-stitched pumps with teeny tiny heels. Comfortable, sweet, almost flats. But here again in a contest between the #6 kitten heels and these I've got to go with the kitties.

Even if I eliminate #3 and #10 is that still to many? I get heart palpitations thinking about having to make due with less but I may have to. What would you cut?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Who's got two thumbs and a job?


I start on July 10th. Which means I have less than 20 days to get my proverbial you know what together. And six of those days are going to be spent visiting friends for the Fourth of July. I'm excited but ever so slightly freaked. It's going to be a huge change after my 'sabbatical year' as a stay at home student. (That sounds better than 'the extra year I took, in which I did not get much done' right?)

This was the suit I wore for my Skype interviews. I wore it first without the shirt and then with the shirt for the second interview. It's not the best fitting suit ever but I needed something right away and it fit well enough for appearing on someone's computer screen. Everything suit-like I already owned really didn't fit or seemed too dark and somber for Skype. (I wanted to really POP! on screen.) The fabric is a silvery sharkskin with a lavender pinstripe. I wouldn't have thought I'd like it as much as I do. When I've bought suits in the past I've tended towards more feminine cuts, usually with a bit of a vintagey feel, and never, ever a pant suit. But I dig the menswear chic effect with my pixie cut. There's nothing like having to take what you can get for expanding your horizons.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Packable Professional

I'm interviewing for a job that, should I get it, will require a lot of travel. A LOT. Kind of nerve wracking for someone who has sometimes been close to tears when attempting to pack for a vacation. And then, again, when she's trying to make wearable outfits from the stuff she brought with her.

I briefly imagined having a small rolling suitcase filled with several stellar, sophisticated, uncrushable St. John suits. Kind of a Mad Men-on-the-Move aesthetic. I stalked a couple of possibilities on eBay but decided I'd better determine my size before bidding.  I hit the fitting room at Nordstrom and discovered that the answer is "twelve" and that I will never be someone who can spend $1400 on a jacket (a jacket, mind you, not a suit) that I could make myself over a weekend. Heck, I'm not even willing to plop down the- much more reasonable but still not IMO worth it- sixhundredish dollars for last years model on eBay. I was really convinced that once I had a St. John suit in my hand, or on my body, I'd be blown away by the awesomeness. Or that I'd at least be able to see what made a $1400 jacket worth $1400. It did not happen. The jackets were nice. Very nice. But nowhere near $1400 nice. Not. Even. Close.

For $1400 I want drop dead gorgeous.  And, not to be too demanding, but is it too much to ask that I should be able to wear the jacket without a cleavage concealing camisole? So, the dream has died. Except that I now have a new dream of knocking off perfectly fitting knit suits in much nicer fabrics in my work room during my downtime from traveling. You probably don't need to know me very well to imagine how likely that dream is to be realized. Yep. Not very.

I imagine jersey dresses, like this one, are going to be my fall back plan until I get my perfectly fitted knock off scheme off the ground. So, probably forever. Since this one cost less than ten dollars I'm not going to get bent out of shape about needing a tank underneath it- although I will upgrade to a nicer cami for professional situations.

I'll be trying out a few more installments of "The Packable Professional" here. Even if I don't land this job (but, man, I hope I do!) being better at packing is something I've always aspired to.  I'm completely open to suggestions for building a creative work travel wardrobe.  What would you include?

Monday, June 18, 2012

True Blue and thrifted too.

I'm finding it difficult to get back into the habit of blogging after taking a break. I've just lost my momentum, somehow. Not to mention the fact that the sweltering heat is making me feel somewhat less than inspired to wear any clothes at all. I wore this lightweight sweater to go see a movie this evening because I usually freeze in an air conditioned theater, but arrived on the scene to find that the theater's air conditioning was out. I could have removed the sweater at that point but I was feeling self conscious about my lumpy midsection which I believed the sweater was camouflaging. As you can see in the side view the sweater was only doing a moderately good job at this. I might as well have opted to be cool.

The sweater, skirt, shoes and earrings are all from local thrift stores. The skirt is too tight but I keep wearing it in the hopes that it will loosen up. It eventually does. But not until after two or three wears and by that time I've usually spilled something on it and need to launder it again. If I were sensible I'd just get myself a denim skirt that fits comfortably when it's clean. I haven't because I like everything about this skirt except the fact that it doesn't fit me. I'm not sure why I am so silly sometimes. I find my own behavior a bit bewildering when I try to analyze it. So I will stop.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm back but I'm not sure I'm 'blog-worthy.'

It's like I almost forgot how to do this...

And apparently Blogger has changed so much since I've been gone that it took me forever to figure out how to create a new post. But, I am back and I was determined to post today- in spite of a rather uninspired outfit and (conveniently?) forgetting to take some of my dreaded side view shots AND then forgetting that I had outfit photos to post until after 11 o'clock at night. I made it! Just.

I'm showing off my new hair color. It's faded a lot since the initial coloring which I expected. Red colors fade like crazy anyway and the ends of my hair are much, much lighter than the roots. The unbleached hair at the roots has held much richer color than the tips so after my next cut and color I'm expecting longer lasting color. Not that I mind this strawberry blonde tone at all.  The spooky tree necklace is new, from our Alaskan Cruise vacation. It's glass. From an artists' co-op gallery in Juneau.  I'll try to get a better picture next time I wear it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Please excuse me.

I'm going to be gone a while.
I'll be working like mad writing my thesis and then taking an amazing trip as a reward for getting it done. I'll miss you guys, but I have a really bad habit of blogging when I should be working and my thesis just isn't getting written that way. When I get back I'll be relaxed and happy, I'll have lots of time on my hands, and I'll be blogging to keep myself from going crazy while I look for a job. Oh, and I should have a new hair color by then too.
So, please excuse me? And meet me back here around the first week of June?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Urchin.

I wore this urchin look for most of my twenties. Not these same clothes, but this same feeling. A dress or tunic over intentionally ill fitting cropped pants with maryjane type shoes. I'm wearing it today for a couple of reasons: a) I'm trying to ascertain if I think 'the urchin' is a still a serviceable look for the much sturdier forty-sumthin'-year-old me, and b) I'm going to walk down to the service station to put air in my bike tires and then ride back and this is a pretty good walking-slash-bike riding ensemble (although I'll wear a sun hat on the walk and a helmet on the ride.)

I'm thinking that the urchin is a look that could be glammed up a bit and translated into chic summer wear. Perhaps a light colored dress or tunic and cropped linen pants? Kind of like this:

'The Urchin' done by The Clothes Whisperer.
She's quite young and quite thin, of course. And I'm less young and way less thin, but I think it could work. One of my concerns is that it's not a particularly figure enhancing look, which on my frame can result in my looking all over huge, instead of just huge in places. But when it's hotter than a hundred degrees sometimes figure flattery has to fall by the wayside, no? And if the tops are carefully selected to be just loose enough to be cool without falling into over-sized territory, I think it could work. (Apparently, I also think that repeating, "I think it could work, I think it could work," like a mantra will help too.) I guess I'm going to have to try it and see. In any case, I don't hate this look on me- but I do think it needs to be, shall we say 'elevated', a bit to be really appropriate for me. As it is, it's suitable for bike rides and, perhaps, trips to the Farmer's Market. As I do ride a bike and visit the market (and sometimes even do both together) I'm calling it a practical, if not soooooper stylish, ensemble.

I'm a sucker for sneakers with toe caps. Currently, I'm obsessing over these.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fancy pants ambivalence.

'Fancy pants' ie. basically any trousers nicer than jeans.

Every time I wear an outfit like this one, I experience some conflict. It's no secret that trousers worn with heels make one's legs appear miles long. But, usually, on the occasions when I wear pants, I'm striving for a pretty casual look- in fact I don't wear 'dress' pants very often at all. The particular pants I'm wearing here are cotton and have sailor style buttons at the waist so they are, arguably, fairly casual. And, being as they are so casual, I bristle a little at having to wear less than perfectly comfortable shoes with them. Especially when no one can see the aforementioned uncomfortable (yet adorable) shoes.

These are actually extremely comfortable wedges but still not as comfortable as flats.

You see, I'd probably be willing to hobble for miles just to hear one person remark, "Cute shoes!"  And I would almost certainly hear this several times if I wore these shoes with a skirt. No one noticed my shoes with the pants and my feet felt somewhat less than awesome after walking just the five blocks I needed to cover between the first available parking space and the cafe where I was meeting my friend for tea.

On the walk back to my car I'd decided to hem these pants so they could be worn with flat sandals, and to save the shiny wedges to wear with skirts where they'll garner the attention they deserve. Except that now I'm posting the photos I have to admit that my legs look all kinds of long and lean with this combination. Hence the conflict. Do I hem the pants and embrace casual comfort and comparatively short, stumpy legs? Or do I retain their (and my own) long legginess and just resign myself to circling the block looking for a closer parking spot in the future.

I don't believe discomfort is very chic. And I sure don't want to feel limited or encumbered by my clothes, but I do love getting compliments on my wardrobe, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want thinner looking thighs. To hem, or not to hem? I know this shouldn't be one of life's most troubling questions but I want a wardrobe that works, you know.  And by that I mean that I look my best and my feet don't hurt. I don't think this is asking too much and yet I don't seem to be able to make a decision on the length of my pants. I keep trying out this argument in my head: If I hem the pants to wear with flats I can park further away and comfortably walk the longer distance which will ultimately result in.... thinner thighs. Actually having thinner thighs trumps the appearance of thinner thighs, right?

I'm linking to Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style because, other than the sore tootsies in my might-as-well-have-been-invisible shoes I felt wonderfully visible in this.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An ode to Debbi.

Layered necklaces, stripes, and a big, happy smile.

Debbi, if you were sitting at your computer, blogging away, thinking, "If I could just know that I have helped one person... enriched one life.. added style to one wardrobe, it would all be worth it," then let me be the one to say, "You have, and thank you."

It's my first attempt at pattern mixing.

I'm only kind of kidding. You see, a while back Debbi at She Accessorizes Well published a post on wearing multiple necklaces. (read it here)  I read the post and although I don't actually remember what I thought at the time it was probably something like, "Hmmm, interesting... I don't really wear that kind of necklace though... " and clicked on to something else. But, unbeknownst to me, the seed was planted and the idea took root. I'm practically at the point now where if I'm only wearing a single necklace it feels like a bit of a fashion failure.

A recent $2.00 thrift store acquisition- this purse holds nothing but it's pretty.

The first time I posted about how much I was loving layering necklaces Debbi commented that she hadn't gotten a big response to her original post so she was worried it had been a waste of time. Today as I was getting dressed I realized that Debbi probably has no idea how happy layering necklaces makes me. And she should know. Because it is not a small thing that her post has been the inspiration for something that has lifted my spirits, made me feel more stylish, brought a smile to my face, and given me an excuse to wear more jewelry.

Sure, I know that we're not solving third world hunger, curing cancer, or performing other, undeniably life enriching, good deeds here. We're blogging about clothing and accessories. But layering necklaces makes me feel pretty good. Debbi's advice subtly enriches my life on an almost daily basis. And that's frankly, quite awesome, in my opinion. So, Debbi, here's to you! Your blogging has made a difference in my life and I'm grateful. Thank you. You do accessorize well. And now, so do I.

Perhaps this could be called remedial pattern mixing? Pattern mixing for dummies?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh, Gaucho.

I'm not sure what it is about this hat but whenever I wear it I feel like something. I mean something other than just a person wearing a hat. Today I feel that I look like a gaucho.

I'm beginning to fear the prospect of creating outfits for the summer heat. It's pretty cool and overcast around here today but when it heats up it will be too hot for jeans and sleeves and shoes. Even jewelry feels like too much when its 100 degrees. I've always defaulted to the not particularly exciting combo of full skirt, tank top and sandals when the mercury rises but that rarely results in outfits that seem worthy of blogging about. And then there's the problem of having minimal flab camouflage potential.

Hats and sunglasses will help spice things up a bit but I don't tend to wear them inside. I'm going to have to put some thought into ways to inject more style into my summer look without inducing pools of sweat and possible heat stroke. Stay tuned to see if I'm up to the challenge. And, of course, bring on the suggestions if you have them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Was it better in real life?

Every so often there's an outfit of which it seems impossible to take a bad photo. I'll start going through the shots and I'll have fifteen, maybe even twenty, pictures that I'd be willing to share online. In those magical outfits even a good number of the dreaded side shots will look great. Other days I'll have a perfectly good day wearing an outfit and feel quite pleased with how I've put myself together until I have a spare moment to view the morning's photos and realize that, at least in pictures, the ensemble isn't the home run I thought it was.

This is one of those outfits that I thought looked terrific but didn't photograph as well as I was expecting.  I'm not saying it's awful. I just was anticipating being thrilled with the pictures and I could only find a couple that I liked well enough to post. And the dreaded side shots were the worst!

I thought I looked pretty shapely and curvy in real life but in the photos I seem thick and blocky. Which begs the question, "Where does the truth reside?" Are these disappointing photos more real than how I actually felt actually wearing the actual clothes? Is it possible that this outfit looked better in real life? Or am I kidding myself?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I do know what I like, it seems.

I almost purchased this knit top yesterday:

It's available at Lands' End if you like it too.

I talked myself out of it because (a) I have a number of striped items in my current wardrobe, (b) I don't really need it and I wouldn't really fill any wardrobe gaps for me and (c) I could easily sew a top like this in an hour or two and I could do a nicer job of aligning the stripes at the shoulder seams.

Turns out I'd feel pretty stupid now if I had ordered this because I already own something similar.

I've worn this several times on the blog before but as a shirt rather than a cardigan. (Here for example.) I did not realize until today that it could be unbuttoned. I was having trouble getting it to sit properly and I felt that it was pulling in an unflattering way at the buttons-- buttons which I previously assumed were merely decorative. They aren't. They easily open to transform this shirt into a flowing cardigan. Yeah!

I tend to gravitate to a cardigan that, like this one, hangs widely open. I prefer the fabric to fall away from my chest rather than drape over it. I think it allows me to affect a look that feels drapey and loose but doesn't end up just looking lumpy and enormous because it doesn't do anything to flatter my curves.

I am not sure how I feel about these jeans. I bought them to fill the gap left by the demise of this pair. (Those were Gap brand True Straight, I believe.) However, I don't like the way the replacements look cuffed. And I think they look too tight for what I wanted. And they definitely look too tight in this light wash for the way they fit now. I have tighter jeans than this in dark washes but, to my eye, light denim should look loose.

On the plus side these jeans are a little longer than most of my jeans so they look okay with heels and with clunky shoes like these. And they have a nice high rise so sitting in them isn't problematic. And, at some point in the future, if I stick to my weight loss plan (finally starting to lose again BTW,) they may fit more like the Gap jeans. So, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. What I'd really like is a pair of medium wash loose straight jeans that have selvages at the side seams. Selvage edges look much more chic when turned up than over-locked edges. I believe the now defunct Gap pair had this feature but I can't remember exactly and I can't quite tell from the photos.

These men's shoes have become something like sneakers for me. My comfortably casual shoe of choice. Not pretty, but practical. Wonderful in unexpected rain showers. They are great for walking or standing and the reddish brown leather is gorgeous and seems to go with everything. Well, every pair of pants at least-- they look hysterically ridiculous with a skirt. I tried.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Following your suggestions.

I'm not actually wearing this outfit again, I swear. Three days in a row of the same sweater would be overdoing it a bit. But you guys threw me so many good suggestions yesterday I had to try some of them out right away. If you don't see your suggestion attempted here it's either because I don't own the item you recommended or because my husband could only be prevailed upon to take so many pictures of this outfit before he snapped.

With the sweater out, wedge boots, and a "constellation" of pins:

These pins looked great. I've worn these three together before and when I read Louise's suggestion (don't you just love that phrasing?) they were what immediately sprang to mind. 
Adrienne was right about the waist line making me look short-waisted. I'm not, but because my chest is very large (and becoming increasingly low) higher waists often make it seem as if my waist and my boobs are long lost friends rushing to embrace each other. Even Chris noted that having the sweater un-tucked made all the difference in the world.
I'd rejected these boots yesterday, without trying them, because I thought they would be too tall for the skirt. Turns out I like the effect a lot.

With the same boots, a red scarf and a slim belt:

The neckline of the sweater is perfect for wearing a scarf like this. It's impossibly difficult to see in photos but it's like a cross between a mock turtleneck and a cross-over V-neck. So the effect is like a turtleneck with a sweet little triangle notched out at the front of the throat. I slipped this handkerchief sized silk scarf inside the neck of the sweater. Finally, a successful attempt at wearing a 'lady scarf.' But does it remind anyone else of Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief?

With a metal belt:

This was the closest thing I had to a metal belt. I think this combination might be my favorite. It seems the most authentically me.

With different boots and a pin on the hat:

This is a bit more of a casual look. I've already determined that this skirt and these boots would look better together if I wore lighter colored tights but I still don't have any so I didn't get to test that theory today. The feather pin is a wonderful pin to wear in a hat both because hats often do have real feathers and because of the visual "feather in your cap" pun. I would have also liked to show you this same pin on the collar of the sweater but I had exhausted my husband's patience.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Same sweater. Different day. Still boring.

I think it's me. And the sweater. I mean, the sweater is pretty basic and I'm not sure exactly what I'm expecting it to do really, other than look like a basic black pullover, at which it is doing a perfectly adequate job. A wardrobe needs basics. This is a nice sweater. It fits well. It looks nice both tucked in and untucked. So, nothing wrong with the sweater- it must be me.

I'm feeling bored with my clothes. And I know from experience that simply getting new ones won't help. Or rather, it won't help for long. I've also put myself on a spending moratorium after blowing way past my self-imposed ten dollar a week clothing budget. So there will be no new additions to the wardrobe to liven things up for a while.

But, getting back to my original concern- it's not the clothes themselves. It's me. So, I'm wondering what to do. Should I stop posting boring outfits until my attitude improves? Or keep posting and trying to snap myself out of this funk? Observe radio silence? Or blog on through? 

I tried to spice today's incarnation of the basic black sweater up with some necklaces but the neck of the sweater just wouldn't play nice. I'd welcome any suggestions on what might perk up an outfit like this one and give it some panache. A scarf maybe? An armload of bracelets?  Massive chandelier earrings? What would you do?