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?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This outfit does not speak volumes.

I was excited about this new-to-me sweater but it doesn't look like much in photos. Actually, this whole outfit doesn't look like much in photos. In fact, it's so boring that I don't even know what to say about it. Oh well. Wish me better luck tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

I almost achieved my goal of posting while 'traveling.' (It was just a weekend trip to the Bay Area to stay with relatives, but there was a suitcase involved). I took pictures each day, but on Saturday night I learned I'd exceeded my free storage limit for blog photos and needed to wait for the newly purchased storage to become available. On Sunday I was extremely tired, and having the choice between blogging and taking a long hot bath, I chose the bath. So, an update is in order, because I have the photos, and it seems a pity for them to go to waste.


I ended up not really liking this outfit much but it was what I brought with me so it was what I wore. Luckily, it was rainy and cold in San Francisco so I mostly looked like this:

Chris and I spent the day with Chris's niece and great nephews at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. We ate clam chowder, mussels, crab and tiny doughnuts. We visited the sea lions. And we had a blast at the Musee Mecanique.

Here's what I wore to the Legion of Honor museum:

But again- most of the day I looked like this:


This is only the second time I've worn this denim jacket. I think it looks nice from the front. I love the big industrial strength snaps. It's a nice weight for spring in Northern California. But when seen in profile I could easily be mistaken for the broad side of a barn. See what I mean?

I did get one side shot that looked okay but, understand that this single shot was the exception and not the rule. And I can't go around all day using my hands to keep my jacket contained.

I think I may have to resign myself to just wearing this jacket snapped closed but I hate feeling that my clothes are dictating how they must be worn. I'd like to be the one in charge.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Another layered casual outfit.

I wore this today for cleaning the house and driving to the bay area. I've always love this kimono sleeved sweater. It's one of those magical pieces that somehow hugs all the right places while skimming gracefully over the lumps. I can't keep the sleeves out of any meal I consume, though.

I'm wearing my three favorite necklaces. Two of which (the hearts) were Valentines gifts from my husband and the other is actually a silver pencil holder that used to belong to my great aunt Elsie.

The yellow shoes always make me smile.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The sartorial equivalent of a big hug.

Today's outfit was expressly designed to provide both psychic and physical comfort. I had a doctor's appointment this morning that I was fairly sure was going to yield a referral for a colonoscopy. And I was right. At the risk of entering into TMI territory- I don't have any symptoms that would lead me to suspect a scoping would be recommended, but I recently learned that both my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother died of colon cancer in their forties. Damn. Other highlights of this doctor's visit included the confirmation that I have some hearing loss, probably due to an affinity for loud music in my youth, and referrals for a mammogram and a visit to the dermatologist. Anyhoo, I wanted to wear something cozy and snuggly to kind of soften the blow of all the bad news I was expecting to receive.

In this respect the outfit was a complete success. I felt cozy and comfortable and safe. But, generally speaking, this is the type of outfit I'm trying to move away from. I'm trying to give up casual layered looks like this to embrace a more polished, more sophisticated aesthetic. Today just wasn't the day for anything even remotely challenging. Expect me to be wearing sweats to my colonoscopy BTW. So not looking forward to that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More new sparkles.

When I was in high school these sequined shells were a dime a dozen in the thrift stores. Okay, perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, but they were generally available for a few dollars, and just about as easy to come by as tank tops at Target. I was recently bemoaning those bygone days and then I found this shimmery top. There seems to be some sort of ask-and-ye-shall-receive thrift store magic at work in the world. Sure, the asking price for this top was a bit higher than back in my school days but that's due to twenty plus years of inflation and the transition of thrift shopping from creepy to cool.

This top is from the same trip that yielded this cardigan. I'm guessing they probably belonged to the same person originally. There was also an additional sequined tank style shell in cream but I passed on that one. It was a little tight under the arms and the lining was terribly stained and I knew that it was unlikely that I would ever choose to wear a cream top when I also had a very similar black one. I was also trying to be fiscally conservative my basket was already pretty full of high ticket items. High ticket for the thrift store, at least. As it was I spent so much money at this SPCA charity thrift store that Chris was concerned, when he was reviewing our credit card charges, that I had adopted another cat.

This top isn't in quite as good a shape as the cream cardigan. It's missing a few of the bead dangles, and I've noticed a few more that should be secured before future wearings, and the lining need a little attention where it is coming apart at the shoulder, but this is conveniently camouflaged by the cardigan today. I have visions of wearing my sparkly top with a floaty chiffon skirt and strappy heels some summer evening but for right now I wanted to see if I could tone down the glamor and create an outfit suitable for just hanging about (which is what I spend most of my days doing.)

Today's wins:
1) One gorgeous, wearable, thrifted top in a style I've been wanting for a while. I'm expecting this shell to be a season spanning go-to dress up piece once I give it a little TLC.
2) I'm loving the layered necklace look of which Anne at The Frump Factor and Debbi at She Accessorizes Well are proponents. I tried this less successfully yesterday. Today when I went to find a necklace to wear a voice in my head said, "Don't stop." I continued to sling on the bling and I'm really happy with the combination of rhinestone tennis necklace and silver baubles I created. I'm especially pleased because layering means I can begin to wear the wire heart necklace, which is one of my favorites, almost every day.

Near misses:
1) I was much happier with this outfit in real life than in these pictures. These wide legged jeans are a little low in the rise and there was a fair amount of stomach bulge on display between my waistband and the bottom of the top. I added a longer tank underneath to cover the gap and I thought it looked fine in the mirror but I can see by these photos that what I really need is different pants. Also, although I was thrilled that these pants seemed to have a looser fit than when last I wore them, I am not as delighted by the fact that they have a decidedly diaper-like appearance around the crotch area in most of my photos. Not appealing.
2) I'm not sure about the slouchy cardigan I've used here. I wanted it to create an overall relaxed aesthetic with the wide legged pants but perhaps I should have gone with a top layer with less volume? Or maybe I should have tried a cardigan in a color other than black for more contrast? In any case, I don't love these two together.

The verdict:
I'm giving this outfit a C+
The top is lovely but my attempts to make it work in a casual outfit fell short of the mark this time. I think the idea to make it casual was a good one, but the tank top, floppy cardigan, and diaper jeans resulted in an outfit that was frumpier than I had expected, and didn't do the beautiful top (or me) justice. I'll make the necessary repairs to the top and try to pair it with pieces that have a slimmer silhouette in my next attempt.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trying to use my critical powers for good.

I'm really critical. Especially of myself. While, in most instances, I'd like to think that my critical faculties result in my being 'discerning' or 'discriminating' or 'cultivated,' when it comes to self criticism I'm just a mean, unforgiving, bitter, nasty bitch. And I've been particularly bad lately, but I'm trying to reform. I'd never grade even the worst student paper without saying something complimentary and encouraging and offering some constructive suggestions for improvement. I'm going to try to do that here from now on. If I'm going to train myself not to be so negative, and use my critical powers for good, what better place to do it than on my blog? From here on out I'm going to make an attempt to be more honestly analytical. I want to assess what works and what doesn't and (most importantly) why. I'm going to start giving myself some constructive criticism, and cutting myself some slack.

Today's wins:
1) I love this skirt. It was acquired at the Goodwill President's Day sale a while back. So, win-win-win really- thrifted and half off (purchase price $2.00, I believe), recycled, and I LOVE it. It's the perfect knee covering length, with just the right amount of A-line flare, and I'm head over heels for those chevroning brown stripes.
2) I am wearing my shirt tucked in today. You might not be aware how MAJOR this actually is. Almost every day since I began blogging I've stood in front of the mirror and done the 'shirt-in-or-out? shuffle.' I've tried belts, sashes, spanx, layers, you name it, but I always end up preferring my shirt out, running visual interference for my tummy. Until today. So please understand the powerful body image implications of the seemingly simple act of wearing one's shirt inside one's waistband.
3) I'm wearing a belt. I've written before about being a bit 'belt challenged.' I'm not sure why I have so much trouble. It seems like someone who appreciates waist emphasis as much as I do should wholeheartedly embrace the belt but I seem to only employ a belt in order to keep my jeans up. Belting is one of those blogger-ey things in which I'd like to develop proficiency.
4) My shoes and my skirt are deliciously matchy-matchy. I know some people don't go in for matchy-matchy but I wouldn't mind being one of those women who wear perfectly matched ensembles that include a coat lined in the same fabric the blouse is made of, with coordinating pocketbook and shoes.

Near misses:
1) I'm not thrilled with this purple T-shirt/black cardigan combination. The purple T is on it's last legs but I keep it because I don't own a lot of tops. I usually enjoy a layered sleeve look but I don't think it really works here. I thought this black sweater would 'go' because of the black patent toe caps on my shoes but the result isn't particularly striking. I'd like to try this outfit again with a cream blouse and a chocolate colored cardigan- or would that be too boring? Maybe this skirt is crying out for some creative pattern mixing?

The verdict: I'm giving today's outfit a B- 
A great start but needs some fine tuning. It could be improved by using crisp, classic separates on top, or by generating more visual interest with creative pattern mixing. Try looking for more blouses and tops that are not T-shirts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes you need some sparkles.

Enter: the sequined cardigan- just what the doctor ordered.

I'd been moping about under a black cloud feeling sorry for myself for too long. I'd been terribly down on myself, bemoaning my lack of satisfaction with my appearance, my academic career, my creative skills, my wardrobe, and the rate at which dirty dishes get clean around here. I hadn't felt much like posing for pictures and I hadn't put much effort towards even getting dressed. And all of this kind of begets feeling even crappier. Time to break the cycle. Throw on some sequins and go to town.

This vintage sequined cardigan was a recent thrift store purchase. I made a quick mid-week trip to the bay area to visit my mother and attend a slide lecture on an exhibition that is currently at the Legion of Honor. (We will go see the exhibition itself this weekend.) Mom and I managed to squeeze in a quick thrifting trip in the morning before I drove home. This super sparkly cardigan was part of my haul.

The cardigan is in mint condition. Actually, I'm not sure it was ever worn- the lining is perfect and unmarked, the sequins are 100% intact, there's no discoloration anywhere- it's in fantastic shape. I hemmed and hawed a bit about the fifteen dollar asking price and then decided I couldn't leave it behind without running the risk of kicking myself over passing it up for the rest of my life.

Both the shape and the color of the cardigan are tricky for me. The boxy, almost Asian looking, sixties style of the cardigan isn't one that is particularly flattering for my curves. I had envisioned wearing this with a simple black dress underneath. When I tried the combination I found that the hem of the cardigan fell exactly at the widest part of my hip and the result was an unappealing, blocky rectangle from shoulders to skirt hem. Paired with jeans, I think, this rectangle effect is reduced, but I'm convinced I can probably do better. I'm currently imagining wearing it with a bright blue A-line skirt. (I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I do not currently own said skirt, right?)

I was worried that the color of this cardigan, which shifts between classic cream and a light lemony yellow depending on the light, might either wash me out, or cause my hair to look really yellow. My hair has a tendency to appear yellow or- horror- green, when I wear those colors. It looked fine to me in the mirror but photos seem to be the true test. On my screen, at least, it appears platinum and not the ducking yellow of which I was afraid.

The verdict: One mood lifting cardigan = fifteen dollars well spent.

I'm linking to Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style because, well, sequins to the grocery store on a dreary, overcast Monday afternoon? Yeah, I was more visible than I've been in a long, long while! Click through to see what everyone else wore to stand out today.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vacation wrap-up.

I kind of hated what I ended up wearing on vacation.  Not at the time- I was really too busy to care- but this is not the sophisticated island wardrobe I wish I could have worn.

What I wore to hike to Waimoku falls and the Oheo Gulch.

What I wore for an underwhelming sunrise on Haleakala.

Frankly, I'm not even sure what I would have wanted to wear instead of these clothes, or how glamorous it is really possible to be while hiking a slippery, muddy trail or standing in freezing pre-dawn rain. And I did not actually see anyone on either of these excursions about whom I thought, "Wow! She totally nailed it. I wish I could look that sophisticated while sweating/freezing my ass off."  Where I did see women who looked fantastic was in restaurants and I think I probably looked pretty good then too. I only packed one dress, but it was one that I love and that I generally feel pretty good in. And here we are again, back to that perennial question on this blog: Why don't I have a whole suitcase (or closet) full of stuff that I love and generally feel pretty good in?

I wore this dress to go out to dinner again. (With the addition of makeup and sandals.)

I'm increasingly concerned that the real answer to this question is that I don't usually love, or even feel pretty good about, my appearance because of my weight- not because of my clothes. I arrived home from Maui and was thrilled to discover I had managed not to gain any weight while on vacation. I'd mentally prepared myself for the fact that I might have gained a bit as I was not restricting my eating at all and I was doing a lot of lounging, it being a vacation after all. But now I've gone from being thrilled about maintaining to being bummed about not losing fast enough, in the space of just a couple of days.

Back home but wearing treasure from vacation.

I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to be this kind of person- the kind whose self esteem is tied to her weight- especially since even I, feeling as crappy as I do, can see from today's photos that I am staring to look a lot slimmer. At least when I'm wearing a black shirt dress and not a shapeless tank top or a dumpy windbreaker. And when I can  change my clothes three times before I settle on an outfit. And when I can have my picture taken close to fifty times and then pick out the two photos in which I have my stomach pulled in so much it makes my smile look strained.

I'd rather be the kind of person who can feel great about just having spent an awesome week with her amazing husband (who thinks she looks stunning pretty much all the time BTW) and was having so much fun most of the time she didn't give a damn about what she was wearing, or eating, for that matter. Why can't I be that person? Why can't I look at that top photo and focus on how happy I look, and how pretty my smile is, and not how thick my waist seems?

I'm going to try to be better. And I'm going to keep trying to create that perfect vacation wardrobe. Next challenge: A seven day Alaskan cruise with and additional weekend in Seattle. And yes, I know that I should not be complaining about my clothes, or my weight, and that rather, I should be counting my blessings that I'm lucky enough to get to go on vacation several times a year. I do know this. But somehow I can't let go of the dream of being slim and well dressed on these vacations, so I'll keep trying to reach that ideal. Hopefully with less complaining from here on out.

Today's rather bland outfit was the result of my crappy mood and my desire to wear these two new necklaces: Black pearl and silver pendant from Maui- a souvenir gift from my husband to commemorate our vacation. Mother of pearl heart pendant from Penrhyn (Cook Islands)- a souvenir gift from my father's recent vacation.