Monday, February 27, 2012

Island time.

As always, I had big plans for how I was going to post every day while on vacation. I even had Chris snap some traveling outfit shots at the airport before we boarded:

I know some bloggers pine wistfully for the days when air travel was a glamorous experience which merited the wearing of sophisticated ensembles but I'm just not one of them. I do not like to fly. Our flight to Maui was 5 hours of physical and mental unease. This decidedly unglamorous get up kept me relatively comfortable, fairly warm and mostly unconcerned with my appearance for the duration. I am a terrible traveler. I love going places, but gosh, I hate getting there.

And once the vacation was underway, plans for posting every day went right out the window. Here are some things I have been wearing in the past few days.

Ho-hum, but who cares? I'm in Hawaii!

Out to dinner for Chris's birthday (with my dad and Chris's cousin)

Swimming with my sweetie.

Just rolled out of bed and onto the patio.

Today was the first day I manged to get dressed in something that seemed like an outfit and have Chris take enough pictures that I ended up with a few I actually liked:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three dollar shoe debut.

I've been wanting a pair of oxfords for a while now but none of the lightweight ladies versions were really doing it for me. This gorgeous, well made, Allen Edmonds pair become mine on Monday for a mere three dollars via the Goodwill President's Day sale. They fit like a dream- which is kind of pissing me off, actually. Because part of the reason these shoes are so awesome is the fact that they are shaped like an actual human foot. I own a lot of pairs of shoes. Seriously, a lot. And this may be the only pair I own that is foot shaped. Crazy, right?

So, all day long, I've been enjoying and admiring my fancy new shoes, while simultaneously being irritated that, in comparison, women's shoes kind of suck. I love pretty, dainty ladies shoes but they're almost never truly and completely comfortable. And that's so not fair.

Today's outfit was otherwise somewhat lackluster. I was really wishing I owned a beautiful pair of gaberdine slacks to wear with these shoes. I slapped a few rhinestone pins on my cardigan but I'm not sure it really helped much.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Long time- no me.

You might have noticed my lengthy absence from the blogosphere and generously thought that I must be hard at work writing my thesis instead of blogging. I have been working on the thesis... and refinancing the house... and adopting a new rescue kitty... and getting ready for our upcoming vacation to Hawaii, but I haven't made the kind of progress towards any of these things that would merit bragging about how I haven't been blogging but I've gotten soooo much accomplished while I've been gone. I just somehow got out of the habit of posting (how does that happen so quickly?) even though I was often wearing outfits I would have been pleased to share. At least that means that I have a couple of spare blog-worthy outfits in my back pocket for those days I can't figure out what to wear. And I have a few new things to share because I hit the thrift store sales with my mother on President's Day. Exhibit A is provided for your consideration below: The two dollar green wrap skirt.

Here I am, considering it myself.

I normally prefer my skirts to be at least to the knee, if not over the knee. This may have something to do with the fact that when I look at my knees I see my dad, whom I adore, but who doesn't have the sexiest knees in the world, even on a man, much less on a woman. I also see the puckered scars acquired during a brief flirtation with skateboarding in the eighties. However, I've been thinking that I needed some shorter, but by no means 'mini', skirts to wear with tights and boots in the winter. I was attracted to the decorative exposed snaps and the unfinished edges of this skirt.

I had about a fifty percent success rate in my skirt purchases on this thrifting trip. The Goodwill had a slow moving checkout line, literally around the store, and that line was completely obstructing access to the skirt racks. Shopping for skirts would have required squeezing in alongside patrons who had been standing in line for an inordinate amount of time with their arms heavily laden with their own half price treasures. I didn't want to risk it, as the expressions many of these waiting shoppers were wearing indicated that they were getting more than a little testy about the wait without being jostled by me pushing my way in to peruse the skirts. Then later, when I found myself stuck in the interminable line myself, I had plenty of time to shop, but there was no way I was going to get out of line again to try on my selections, so I used the old hold-it-up-to-you-and-guess technique because, heck, the stuff was half off. And, coincidentally, I guessed right about half the time. And it turns out I must have a pretty generous, positive, self-image because I did not buy a single skirt that was too big, but half of the skirts I thought would probably fit are too small. Not ridiculously too small, but too small to wear comfortably or modestly. But since I've lost about twelve pounds on Weight Watchers this year I think I can feel okay about expecting to fit into the too small skirts sometime, and I think I can pat myself on the back for not being one of those women who believes she's a lot bigger than she actually is.

While we did get a whole lot of stuff for next to nothing at the two thrift stores we visited on Monday (my haul was 6 skirts, a top and a pair of shoes for less than $20) both my mom and I have decided that we'd much rather pay full price (it's charity after all, and neither of us is really hurting for money) than ever stand in line for an hour again. My arms are still sore from holding all my purchases while waiting in line- although that is more of an indication that I should probably be doing some sort of strength training than an indictment of thrift store sales. I need a training program for sale shopping.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Can Do It!

Whether I should do it or not is another story entirely.

It had to happen eventually, I suppose. After years of being someone who shrugged and thought, "Hermes scarves? Hmmm...not sure what all the fuss is about," I have gone and fallen head over heels in love with one. I blame this woman, because I was reading her post about her own new scarf when I had the exact thought I've related above, and then went to look around on the Hermes website, and then suddenly went, "Oooooh! I love that one."  And now I want it bad.

I'm channeling this image, of course. Lifted from of course. Lifted from here.

It's kind of silly really, because I almost never wear 'lady scarves' (as opposed to warm scarves- which I do wear slightly more often, but mostly because I knit them myself, and then feel like I ought to wear them.) I was lecturing myself on how ludicrous it was to be enamored of a fancy, expensive scarf when I don't ever wear them, and then I came up with the brilliant idea that if I were to begin wearing the lady scarves I have now, then I would be justified in perhaps getting a fancy, expensive Hermes scarf as a graduation present later this year. So I pulled out this one, which is a pretty fabulous scarf in its own right, and went right to work experimenting.

I've posted before about my ambivalent relationship with this particular form of accessory. I admire scarves on others. I appreciate that they're a terrific way to add flair and panache to a simple outfit. They can, generally speaking, be had pretty cheaply (unless you're foolish enough to go browsing at Hermes, like yours truly.) Yet I can never seem to make a scarf work right. I try off and on (like any good personal style blogger) to do the scarf thing, but I just can't pull it off. You see, I'm of the opinion that a scarf should add something to an outfit, that an outfit should look better with a scarf than without, for the scarf wearing to be considered a success. Unfortunately, almost every time I try to tie on a jaunty scarf it looks ho-hum at best and frankly ridiculous the rest of the time.  This particular experiment was not an exception to this rule.

I think my problem is this: I have a weak chin and a rather large chest and, as a result of this combination of physical features, filling up the space in between the two with fabric- even beautiful, expensive fabric- doesn't do my chest, or my chin, any favors. But I'd be damned if I was ready to let that stand between me and my beloved scarf. So I put this one on my head. And I like it. (You can see a small stain on the corner of the knot tail- I'll tie it more carefully next time I do this to obscure this spot.)

It's not terribly glamorous, but I love the vintagey, munitions-worker feel it has when worn this way. I think it looks rather fetching with my bangs and sideburns poking out. And it's allowed me to finally get this scarf on the blog. This vintage silk souvenir scarf was a gift from a wonderful friend. It belonged to my friend's mother and, since I have a fascination with all things Parisian, my friend passed it along to me hoping I would give it a loving home. I enthusiastically accepted it but then let it languish in my closet for a year.  It wasn't my intention to sit on it- I just couldn't figure out how to wear it. Until now. I totally think this kerchief head wrap is a perfect way to wear such a pretty vintage scarf.

However, I don't think this one success quite justifies my purchasing the Hermes scarf. Yet. Or maybe ever. The scarf I'm looking at is a relatively do-able $325 but, let's be real, that is an awful lot of money for a scarf. Even a beautiful, luxury, status scarf that one might eventually give to a young niece or cousin once it's been worn and loved into vintage status. Three hundred and twenty five dollars is a small price to pay for an heirloom, right? But it could also purchase any number of perfectly inheritable vintage scarves instead. Who knows if the imaginary, as yet unborn, future recipient of my scarves will be a label snob or not. I am terribly conflicted. And I simply can not afford it, even if I weren't conflicted. I should not do it. I should not buy the Hermes scarf. I should not even want that scarf. I should begin appreciating the beautiful scarf I already own and stop browsing on expensive websites. I really should.

But if you want to see the Hermes scarf after which I'm lusting, it's right here. Yesterday it was shown in a blue colorway also but that has disappeared. Does that mean this scarf is selling like hot cakes and I should buy immediately or it will be lost to me forever? Argh. What is wrong with me?

Edit- I think it's gone! I just clicked the link I had here and it now goes to a perfectly ordinary scarf that I don't want at all and I can't find my dream scarf. It was called J'aime mon Carre. I loved it briefly and well. I don't know enough about these things to know if it's completely, or just temporarily, unavailable. Not that it matters as I can not- repeat NOT- buy that scarf.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Green suede shoes and new blue glasses.

Most of the garments in this outfit were thrifted at one point or another but what I'm grooving on the most today are these green suede shoes:

I found these perfect, unworn, mint colored suede maryjanes at the thrift store last Thursday. They were five dollars. I'm telling you this because I assume that you're like me, and therefore, get a kick out of knowing such things. I have a terrible soft spot for colored shoes. Normally I'm not a huge lover of suede because I'm awfully hard on shoes, but for five bucks, even if I end up tramping through a puddle in them next week, I won't be too distraught over their demise.

I'm just tickled by the fact that they are Hush Puppies. They are comfortable, which is a quality I would normally associate with the Hush Puppies brand. But funky lime green suede, Turkish style turned up toes, and Euro-chic exposed edge-stitching? These are not the Hush Puppies I remember. These struck me as more 'Anthropologie' than orthopedic. I was inspired to search the whole Hush Puppies website but found only one pair of boots that peaked my interest even remotely (and on my current ten dollar a week wardrobe budget I couldn't afford two hundred and forty five dollar boots until the middle of July.)

Chris hates these shoes. He's never been a fan of pointy toes. But his seventeen year old niece thought they were very cool when I wore them this weekend. I'm inclined to think that a seventeen year old girl might be a better judge of cool shoes than Chris, who will not stop wearing the puffy white athletic shoes I cannot stand, in spite of the fact that we have purchased several alternatives of which I approve: low top Chuck Taylors, Vans slip-ons, loafers, and most recently, black and grey high-tech hiking boots. Whoops. That was a bit of a rant. Anyway, what it boils down to is that around here everyone's entitled to their ugly shoes- they just have to take a bit of ribbing from their significant other.

I'm pretty sure the cardigan came from the same Chicago thrift store as this dress at about the same time.  It's been with me since the beginning of the nineties although I recently upgraded the buttons and stitched few extra decorations on top of the embroidery where the original plastic pearls had fallen off. The stretchy trouser jeans were acquired in the same trip as the green shoes (along with a brown herringbone tweed skirt which is currently spending some time in the freezer to ward off moths.) The slant pockets on these pants pull open a little across my hips even though the pants themselves seem to be big enough for me so I'm planning to stitch the pockets closed before I wear them again. I am so not one of those bloggers who loves to have pockets in everything. I could happily do completely without pockets in everything I own. I don't put stuff in them- it looks lumpy so I keep my stuff in my purse. I try not to put my hands in them- because my momma raised me right. And pockets can so often go awry, pulling awkwardly or creating bulk that I just don't need. The back pocket flaps on these jeans are getting stitched down too, while I'm at it, because they have a tendency to flip up.

Because as soon as I finish this post I'm going to knuckle down and work on my thesis for a while (five pages every day is my goal from here on out) I'm wearing my new reading glasses. I'm crazy for the color of these frames. When I have health insurance I always try to get a new pair of readers every year, even though I now own six pairs with practically the same prescription, and that prescription is less of a correction than what you commonly find in the reading glasses that you can pick up at the drugstore. I don't really need these glasses but I love them. Chris thinks this is a bit crazy. He has worn glasses since he was a kid and is going to finally get Lasik surgery next month. I will miss his glasses a little but I know that it will be much more convenient for him not to need his glasses.

The faded black cotton beret is an essential writing tool. Not because I need to look like a beatnik poet or anything. I wish it was something that silly. It's because, as a result of the stress I feel in grad school, I've developed a rather compulsive habit of scratching my head while I'm reading or thinking or writing. Scratching it to the point that I start to develop sore spots on my scalp. The beret helps to prevent me from tearing myself to pieces while I work. Sad but true. Of course, I kind of enjoy looking like a beatnik poet too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Not what I was going for.

It's a good thing I don't have to go anywhere today because I don't like what I'm wearing:

The hitched up shirt thing was not intentional. Neither was the visible bra or bare shoulder.

Why am I posting about an outfit I don't like? Well, because I think it perfectly illustrates some issues that I've been mulling over for a while. And because I want to analyze what I don't like. And, finally, because it seems somehow more interesting to blog about the occasional failure than to pretend that I'm thrilled with what I come up with every time I get dressed.

It seems that whenever I admit that I'm not quite sure about the appropriateness of an outfit I'll have one or two commenters who say something like, "Who cares what other people think!? If you like it- rock it." I'm all for that kind of attitude. I'm fact my own attitude was much the same when I was in my teens and my twenties. But, as I've matured, I've realized that there is a corollary to that kind of statement and it goes, "If you don't feel confident in it you will almost certainly look like an idiot wearing it." As I've aged my idea of what I want people to think of me when they see me has changed. I don't want to completely loose the edge and flair I had when I was younger but I do want people to see me and admire what I've put together rather than roll their eyes and think, "What are you got up for? Is the circus in town?"

Don't get me wrong. I completely endorse dressing for the circus everyday if that's your thing and it brings you joy and you truly don't mind the eye rolling. I've been that person. I'm not now though. Now I aspire to straddle the line right between classic and eccentric without ever running the risk of slipping beyond eccentric into 'crazy' territory. I don't want my outfits to be costumes. I think this particular combination is costumey. It's what my grandpa, never one to mince words, would call, "some getup."

Not too bad with the coat though. Interesting.

Here's how I went wrong. I ordered this new Jean Hicks hat last year. The original I tried on was made up in a medium brown felt. With my coloring the brown hat made me look just a bit too much like I might be a Nazi admiring WWII reenacter. I thought a fun, bright color might mitigate some of the disturbing Nazi overtones. I'm pleased with the hat. I love the bright blue, the slight asymmetry, and the texture of the hand formed felt. This is an altogether striking hat. Which is awesome- and also difficult. You see, I feel a bit like it's my duty to wear hats because I can, and I like to, and seeing me wear them makes a lot of non hat wearing people very happy, if their compliments are to be believed. I feel sometimes that I wear hats almost as a public service. (You're welcome.) The last thing I want to be is a timid hat wearer but this is a lot of hat for me to carry and I want to do it well. I want to be a good example of how chic and how do-able wearing a hat can be. An exemplary hat role model, if you will.

Because I was very excited to finally receive this hat I had been planning (in my mind's eye) what I was going to wear with it. I was convinced that I wanted to pair it with these black boots. Bad move. Because- hello- if you don't want to look like you're channeling a concentration camp guard you should style your military cap with big black jack boots, right? And throw on a fat black utility belt while you're at it. Wrong. That pretty pin attached to your cap can't stop you from looking like a German soldier if you insist on wearing the whole freakin' uniform!

The verdict? Hat and boots and belt together = too much. I'll try the cap again soon with less military accoutrements and see how that works out. In the meanwhile, as always, feel free to offer styling suggestions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unphotographed outfits are magnetically attracted to lunch.

This almost become the third outfit in as many days that didn't make in onto the blog because I spilled all over it. Luckily, this time I was determined not to be undone by my wayward lunch and was able to mop up all visible traces of chilli splatter.

I'm the first to admit I'm quite clumsy and seem to spill on myself more often than most folks who are not toddlers, but I can't get past the fact that it seems my odds of pouring my lunch down the front of my shirt increase exponentially when I am planning to take outfit photos after I eat. I've taken a number of graduate level statistics classes so I know that this can't really be true but it sure feels true this week.

I could remedy the situation by getting my act together earlier in the day, allowing for the taking of photos before lunch but one of the few perks of being an unemployed graduate student is being able to sleep in and linger over breakfast in one's pajamas. This, in my opinion, goes a long way towards making up for the constant suspicion of one's own intellectual inadequacies and the nagging feeling that just a few years ago you would have thought, "What a poseur!" if you'd heard yourself say some of the stuff you now say on a regular basis with complete sincerity, that seems to be the lot of the graduate student. I'm determined to enjoy the best parts of student life while I can. And the pretty-much-wasted-morning is one of them.

It's finally raining today for (I think) only the second time this winter. Hence the rainboots, which are still a little muddy from the first time it rained this winter. I'm wore them for photos, and I'll wear them when I head into town later this evening, but for most of the day I've been shuffling around the house in cosy sheepskin slippers- not a look I want to share here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sensibly Young?

When Chris saw me wearing this dress today while I was pinning up the hem, he said, "That is an old lady dress if I ever saw one!" And I had to tell him that he was quite mistaken. Look:

Not just young, but Sensibly Young! Whatever that might mean.

I used to wear this dress when I was in my very slender twenties. It swam on me then but in those days (the nineties) we thought it was adorable to run around in thrift store clothes which were several sizes too large for us- at least my friends and I did. The rather dowdy, below-the-knee length seemed to add to the charm of this dress back then. I pulled it out of storage this morning and was thrilled to find that it fit properly but needed hemming to make it feel a bit more modern.

Doesn't look too bad in this photo, but wait.

I wanted to shorten the dress by close to four inches but I also wanted to avoid cutting off any length if I could manage it. I took out what was left of the original hem and turned up about an inch and a half and then turned up another two and a half inches. This is certainly not the preferred way to hem a skirt but I didn't want to take the time to teach my husband how to mark a skirt hem and I wanted to leave the skirt dress intact, with the original hem tape, in case I ever want to lengthen the skirt again. The following photograph will serve to illustrate the failure of these plans:

That is one terrible, uneven, saggy, and frankly, embarrassing hem.

I'm going to have to enlist the help of a friend who knows how to properly mark a hem (Nan, if you're reading, this means you,) and I'm going to have to cut off some of the excess if I want to hem the dress at this length. I wore it out today anyway, even with the crappy hem job, because I was really looking forward to wearing it, and because I really wanted to link to Thursdays are for Thrifters and I couldn't think what else I could wear. I had my coat on most of the day so, hopefully, my shameful droopy hem was decently camouflaged. Looking at the photos tells me I'm also going to need a slip for future outings in this dress. Here I was, excited to pull something out of my storage area and whip it into wearable shape and suddenly it has morphed into a two person project that requires buying new underwear. But it's worth it right? I've kept this dress for twenty years the least I can do is fix it up and let it get out and about again.

The lace neckline is so very pretty.

Black enamel hearts- a gift from Chris,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I spent today cleaning up and doing laundry so that our weekend guests won't think we're disgusting. I also had to return some library books. And run a couple errands. I've decided that these dad jeans are okay for wearing while cleaning and running around. I would not want to wear them to meet anyone on whom I wished to make a favorable impression. Unfortunately, while I was out running around today I received an email inviting me to attend a lecture given by Beverly Gordon, the author of this book. I didn't want to miss out on the chance to hear Ms. Gordon speak, and I'm glad I didn't, but this is not the outfit I would have chosen to wear to meet her. So I guess there's something to be said for making a bit more effort- you never know who you're going to meet when you're wearing your housekeeping oufit.