Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fine for photos.

When I'm shopping at a thrift store I don't often purchase things that originally came from stores where I wouldn't usually shop for new clothes. It's really rare that I'll being home something that started it's life at Target, or Old Navy, or Forever 21. I feel that thrift store shopping gives me the chance to get something really great, of fantastic quality, that I wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Where's the thrill in getting a used shirt for $4.99 that I probably could have gotten new, on sale, for the same price? I broke my own unwritten rule with this cream and white silk blouse. Originally from the now defunct Mervyn's, a store I would have turned my nose up at (and frequently did) before it went out of business, it was the print on this blouse that made it impossible for me to leave behind.

My V-neck cardigan was also thrifted. I changed the boring black plastic buttons it came with for the lozenge shaped mother of pearl buttons you see here. And the mother of pearl buttons were rescued from yet another thrift store find.

The blouse pulls open a bit at the fullest point of my bust. I was hoping that I could counter this by wearing the sweater over the blouse but this maneuver was only moderately successful. It worked fine for these photographs but not well enough for a full day out in the real world. (Luckily, I'm home all day again today.) Once it's laundered the blouse is going back into storage to wait for me to either get slimmer or buy a minimizing bra. I like this outfit so I hope I can eventually make it properly wearable.

I'm linking up to Thursdays are for Thrifters at Spunky Chateau. Click over to check out everyone's thrift shop finery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Owning my dorkiness.

I'm at home doing the required reading for my writing course. Or rather, for my Thesis Writing Colloquium, if you want to get technical. Because I do like to get technical I just looked up 'colloquium' to see what made it different from say, a 'class.' For your edification, as well as mine:

colloquium  (kəˈləʊkwɪəm) 
n  , pl -quiums , -quia
1. an informal gathering for discussion
2. an academic seminar

Since the particular colloquium I'm attending isn't truly informal- it meets at a required time and place and is graded pass/fail- definition number two best describes it. Which means, at least in this case, there is not one bit of difference between the very intimidating sounding 'colloquium' and the much less daunting sounding 'class.' Except perhaps that there is a fair amount of discussion involved, but, in my experience, that is true of all graduate level classes. So, I'm going to state for the record that the term is probably being employed here in order to make everyone involved feel like a serious smarty pants. And I am totally okay with that. There's your first piece of evidence that I'm an irredeemable dork.

As additional evidence I offer the fact that I am wearing my reading glasses today. Don't misunderstand me. It's not that I think glasses are inherently dorky. I don't. Rather, I think glasses are inherently kind of cool and that's why I'm wearing these, even though they do not assist or ease my reading one bit. That's what's dorky. I am wearing them as part of my smart graduate student costume. I am wearing them because they make reading more fun. And because they make me look smart. (There is actual research to support this, although admitting to it makes it appear significantly less smart, probably.)

I wore these boots today because I'm not planning on leaving the house at all. The heels are so worn down that any additional wear would irreparably damage them. I wore them today to help me decide if I liked them well enough to have the heels repaired. I have three other pairs of black over-the-knee boots and I've often worried that these give off a vibe that's a little too 'Lord of the Rings' for my taste.

I've decided that the are worth the repair costs because they are awfully comfortable and different enough from the three other pairs of over-the-knees boots I own (which are wedge, riding, and ahem, hooker-style) to merit keeping them. But feel free to weigh in on the issue if you disagree and think they're ridiculously elfin.

And there you have it- pretentious vocabulary, unnecessary glasses, and a Lord of the Rings reference. Dorky enough for you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Black and White and Sequins.

What's a blogger to do when there is more than one link party she wants to go to?

Black + White | Everybody, Everywear

Bloggers Do It Better

She has to make one outfit work for both link ups. Today I'm participating in both the Everybody Everywear black and white link up and Pretty Shiny Sparkly's sequin link up.  Heck, is there a polka dot link party goin' on somewhere I can join? Maybe I should host my own link party- what about Bloggers Do It All At Once? How many bloggy trends can you successfully wear at one time?

I'm pretty proud that I managed to come up with an outfit for both that I would even be willing to wear again. Chris thought I looked a bit like Liza Minnelli- and he was worried I would think that was not a compliment. But I do! I even tried a jazz hands picture to drive home the comparison:

Even my shoes are black & white- does that make up for my grey hat?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Campus layers.

Today I made my first appearance on campus in weeks. I find that dressing for campus as an older student can be tricky. I usually want to appear causal, relaxed, youthful, serious, smart, and still age appropriate all at once. This combination of layered colored T's and swingy cardigan is one that I've worn a lot before because I feel that it manages to walk the line between casual student and serious adult. I don't want to look out of place, but I also don't want to look like I'm trying too hard to look like a kid, and I still want to feel that I look like myself. It can be a complicated business figuring out what I can wear that accomplishes all these things simultaneously. I think this outfit does everything I want so on school days when don't want to worry about whether what I've chosen works or not I often fall back on this outfit.

I often use this plain grey sweater as a canvas for displaying one or more of the pins from my ever growing collection. You can see some examples here and here. (If you click through you'll notice it's the exact same outfit with different pins and shoes- I was not lying when I said I wear this combo a lot.) Instead of a pin today I accessorized with a Bakelite dress clip. This poor dress clip has been trying to get itself worn for weeks but I kept trying it and rejecting it with outfit after outfit. Today it finally got to stay put and enjoy it's moment in the sun, and on the blog.

I'm linking to Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style and Trending Through the Decades at Silverstyle.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Dress of the Year.

1/8/2012-Edit: A couple of your comments made me realize that it might look as if I'm claiming that I made the two dresses I'm wearing in this post myself. To be clear, I did not make the dresses here, the purple dress was purchased at Nordstrom and the green dress was purchased at Goodwill. I'm showing the dresses as examples of styles that I think work for me and that I want to copy. I'm really sorry for any confusion that might have occurred before. I appreciate all the compliments but I don't want to take credit for something I haven't done.

I've been telling you about some of my New Year's resolutions this week. Here's another:

You'd never know it from this blog, or my current wardrobe, but I can sew. Actually, I can not only sew, I can fit commercial patterns and I can make my own original patterns in a number of ways. My first clothing related degree (I have two, soon to be three of those) was an associates degree in fashion design with an emphasis on custom sewing and alteration. I've been letting these skills lie fallow for a while but I'm going to remedy that in 2012. I'm calling this 'The Dress of the Year' because I'm planning to make this dress twelve times this year. I want to make one seasonally appropriate iteration of this dress each month for the next year.

I picked this pattern, Simplicity 2648, because of the multiple bust sizing options and the sleeve and neckline variations. I'd seen it made up by a blogger I like here and here. I wanted something with a fit similar to this dress:

NOT made by me. From Nordstrom

I wanted something with princess seams because they make for easy fitting adjustments during construction and after weight loss (fingers crossed.) I also wanted something with a waist seam so I can change the style of skirt easily once I've nailed the fit on the bodice, to create something more like this dress, for summer:

Also NOT made by me. From Goodwill.

I think this pattern fits the bill, allowing for enough variation that making twelve dresses won't get overly repetitive. I'm going to start working on my first muslin this weekend. I'm thinking the January dress should be view B, the sleeveless, scoop-neck version without a waist detail, made up in a black wool crepe. Super basic, but I've been wanting a simple black dress to wear under a colorful vintage coat I bought a while ago and can't seem to wear over anything I currently own. For February I'm going to make a 'resort' version for our island vacation.

The plan is that making this dress over and over will bring my sewing and pattern altering skills back up to peak fitness. Perhaps it will also inspire other sewing projects- the rules don't say I can't sew additional stuff, I just have to make this dress each month.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Too much for Costco?

It's a rhetorical question, really. I know this outfit was a bit much for warehouse club shopping and picking up my husband's prescription, but I tried on almost every necklace I own before deciding that I just liked this ultra sparkly one best. So I went with it. There were two women in line at the pharmacy who I'm pretty sure were whispering about me, but it's entirely possible that they were saying something nice. I'd prefer to think so. And I got a compliment on my hat in the Costco parking lot.

I'm linking up to Thursday's are for Thrifters at Spunky Chateau so I'm wearing a dress I thrifted last year at the Goodwill. I think the rhinestone necklace probably also came to from a thrift store as well but I've had it for at least twenty years and I don't remember buying it at all. It's possible that it came from one of the vintage clothing stores I worked at when I was younger. I've worn the dress once before on the blog. (Funny- I just noticed that I wore it with rhinestones there too.)

I've put myself on a seriously restrictive budget for the New Year. I'm allowing myself only ten dollars a week for shopping until I get a job. I'm hoping that a) it won't be too hard to stick to and b) I'm going to get a job soon so I won't have to stick to it for too long. Ten bucks a week seems like an amount that will work to seriously curtail my spending, while still allowing for a fairly regular influx of thrifted items to keep me from feeling too sorry for myself. It's also going to mean that I'm going to have to be much more selective on my thrifting excursions. That should be a good thing. On the day I bought this dress I purchased a total of seven items and I've only worn three of them. I obviously have more stuff than I need already, so strict budget guidelines should help me to limit myself to just the things that I really, really want.

One small disclaimer- I ordered a hat last year that has not come in yet. I'm not counting the money I'll spend on that as part of my ten bucks a week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Minimizing Plans: great and small.

I made some resolutions.

Do I look appropriately resolute?

I'd been waffling about sharing them here because, knowing how resolutions often go, I didn't want to make a whole lot of grand pronouncements about overhauling my life and then fail to do so. Last year I made the resolution to start this blog- and that was a success.  And I resolved to eliminate the excess junk from my wardrobe and my life. I blogged a bit about my reasons and my process for doing this, and I stuck to it all year so there is a precedent for successfully accomplished, blogged-about resolutions. The Great Minimizing Plan of 2011 was a vow to get rid of one item I'd been needlessly keeping for every day of the year and eliminating five additional items for every new thing I acquired. I got rid of a lot of stuff. Mostly from my closet, because that was the area of my greatest excess, but also things like huge stacks of statistics homework assignments that I was keeping because I might want to review them someday (Why?) and crusty old cosmetics I was keeping just in case their poorly chosen colors suddenly, magically became flattering (Again, why? Why?) 

The current state of my closet.

While I've yet to achieve the goal I'd hoped for when I began the process of editing my closet- owning only clothing that I love, that fits perfectly, and looks great- I now, at least, can actually wear everything in my closet and nothing hanging in there makes me feel bad about myself. That's pretty major. My closet used to make me feel like crap. Now it doesn't. I like my clothes. Sure, I wish I had other things, better quality things, more fun stuff, and more room for hats, but overall my closet and the wardrobe it contains are starting to work for me. I believe this is due to a combination of the minimizing process and  blogging.

Not perfect yet but much, much better than last year.

This year I'm scaling back the Minimizing Plan. I vow to get rid of one thing every week and one additional item to offset the acquisition of each new item. You could call it The Mini Minimizing Plan of 2012. I want to keep the editing process going but I don't want it to become a hardship. The get rid of five things for every new thing part of the rules got pretty difficult in December when I had already eliminated all the stuff I wouldn't miss, we were stocking up on cold weather gear for our postponed Colorado trip, and I hadn't factored the Christmas gifts I was to receive into the equation. It was only because I was so close to making good on a resolution for the first time in my life that I was able to steel my resolve and let stuff go. This year, I want to keep the general amount of stuff headed in the right direction (i.e. ultimately have less and make better choices) but I don't want, or need, to do as much culling as I did last year.

I have three quarters; Chris has one quarter. His space begins on the right.

But that doesn't mean that there isn't a Great Minimizing Plan: 2012 Edition. Chris and I are back on Weight Watchers. We have each decided we'd like to lose fifty pounds. I know it's a lot, and I went back and forth for a while before I settled on that number for myself. A loss of fifty pounds would put Chris at the top of the range for a 'healthy' BMI. It puts me at the lowish end of the healthy range. It would also return me to the weight I've been for most of my adult life, and the weight I was seven years ago, when I met Chris. A loss of about twenty pounds would put me at the high end of healthy. I'd probably be perfectly happy at that weight, and it would certainly be easier to maintain, but I really want to try for my 'perfect' weight. And I like that it means that Chris and I would both have the same amount to lose. Also, I feel that I should be allowed to aim high (or rather, low.)  When I decided that I wanted to go to get my master's degree, even though I was, historically, an abysmal student who barely graduated high school, no one would have suggested that it might be better if I just thought about getting a degree from a community college (which, actually, I also did), or intimated that perhaps I should get over my hangups and learn to love myself with just my high school diploma and dead end job. There are lots of things I love about my body and my life now, but I'd still like to weigh 130 pounds again.

I know that there's a lot to be said for self acceptance and embracing health over appearance. A lot of women I admire are saying things on their blogs this week about 'just wanting to be healthy' but I just can not, in good conscience, do that. It would be a bald faced lie. I don't just want to be healthy- I want to be skinny. I'm sorry, but it's true. And it has got to be easier than getting a master's degree. Which I am also going to do this year.

Do you remember this hat I was having trouble wearing? Thank you to those of you who offered me your styling suggestions. Unfortunately, I currently own neither a fur collared jacket, nor a maxi dress. However, I recognized that both Debbi and Adrienne were suggesting trying something more feminine with this hat. Today's outfit isn't super feminine but I tried to follow their advice by pairing the hat with a skirt and tossing on some jewelry to femme it up some more. I like it. Thanks again ladies.

Otherwise this is practically the same outfit I wore here. I tried it with brown tights today, to go with the hat, and experimented with the tan suede boots that I rejected last time. The verdict? I like the tan boots a lot better with the brown tights but it still looks a little leg-shortening-ly choppy to me. I think I am going to have to try the skirt and boot combo with some light, beige colored tights, in spite of my previous reservations. I'm imagining something with a bit of texture- a subtle herringbone perhaps? Or maybe a sophisticated lace pattern?

Oh, and now I'm also on the look out for a maxi dress and a fur trimmed jacket!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh 2012, I am so not ready for you.

It's been a killer holiday season. And not killer in the eighties rocker killer equals awesome sense. I had every intention of blogging right through the parties and the visiting and the vacation. It didn't happen. Even though I always think that being away form home, in novel locations, will mean that I can take interesting, even artsy, location/outfit photos, it just never works out. First, I'm too much of a habit loving creature. Without a regular schedule I'm all at sea. Strange sleeping arrangements, shared bathrooms, limited mirror access- it all throws me off my game. Even at my mother's house, which I called home for years, and where we stay at least once a month, I'm still often out of sorts. And then there's the suitcase limitations. Even with very careful planning what I bring with me is never exactly what I want to wear when I'm there. Without the ability to return to my closet multiple times to fine tune an outfit I feel as if I've had to settle for the sartorially substandard. Finally, the timing never seems to to lend itself well to outfit photo taking. And making everyone wait while I have my picture taken in something I'm not really happy to be wearing anyway? Well, it just doesn't make sense.

Chris and I were supposed to spend New Year's Eve and the first few days of the year with friends in Denver, CO. We had prepared for this trip well, purchasing snow boots and wool underclothes and socks, a new down coat for me, and some high tech snow pants for Chris. We were unfortunately grounded by a painful, but not life threatening, medical emergency.  Chris is fine and we managed to cancel our plans without taking a huge hit financially, so all's well that ends well, but we are all kitted out for the snow and really anxious to make a trip to the snow, any snow, sometime soon.

On a more positive note, Chris felt well enough on New Year's Eve to attempt a festive dinner at our favorite local restaurant. He probably wasn't really well enough and he felt pretty crappy the whole time, poor guy. But I felt great! Especially after being told by the woman dining at the next table that I looked terrific and was the best dressed woman in the (very crowded) restaurant. I've got to admit the competition wasn't fierce, it was actually a bit tragic how under-dressed most of the other patrons were, considering the occasion. I, myself, seize any opportunity to get dressed up. You'll have to take my word on the outfit as there are, sadly, no pictures. But the compliment was lovely.

Also lovely?
Finally getting back online to discover I've received an award!

How sweet is that? (I wore hearts today to coordinate.) The ever sassy Wendy of Simply Sassy nominated me. As it's designed to be given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers I guess you could think of it as kind of an emerging blogger award. It not only made my day, it sort of kick started my year, encouraging me to post today and get back in the swing of things. And pass along the love.

This award is given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers by other bloggers.
The rules for accepting the award and posting the widget are to:
  1. Link back to the giver and express your heartfelt, undying gratitude. : )
  2. Pass it to five more bloggers, letting them know it’s been given.
  3. Copy and paste said award to your blog.
  4. Keep the love flowing. They’ll tell five friends, and they’ll tell five friends, and…so on…
The five talented bloggers I'd like to nominate are:

1. Becky of Becky Lee Dreams: I'm constantly inspired by this amazing young woman. She's fearless with her fashion and her blog is a beautiful compilation of snapshot glimpses into a life rich with  purpose and promise, full of fun, fashion, food, friends and urban container gardens.

2. Lisa of Dreamz-n-Wishz: You would not believe the thrifting powers this woman possesses. Every time I read a new post on her blog its all I can do not to leap in my car and race to the local thrift store in a vain attempt to keep up. She puts together a constant parade of smashing outfits- always accessorized with one of the most gorgeous smiles ever.

3. Adrienne of Wear the Hat: One seriously stylish lady who also happens to be a milliner. Her blog is wonderfully analytical and her analysis is always spot on. And there are often hats! There can never be too many hats.

4. Brett of Silvergirl: The most adorable bangs you've ever seen. Bar none. And this woman can work the model-style blog poses without looking the least bit silly. And she can rock a pair of cowboy boots like nobody's business. I'm a little bit in awe, to tell the truth.

5. D'Andra of Sable & Sage: D'Andra always manages to look amazing, even while working in a lab which, I gather from her posts, is not especially conducive to stylish dressing. She's an exemplary inspiration to dress for yourself first and your situation second.

Oh, and finally, this is what I wore today. I didn't notice the damn grease stain, or whatever that spot is, on the leg of my jeans until I started posting the photos. I really should say something about this outfit but I feel like I've been typing for days. It's midnight now, and I'm off to try and get the blasted spot out of my pants. I'm not even ready for tomorrow yet, let alone a whole year of tomorrows.