Monday, November 29, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

Well, it's that time of year, and a bug of some species or another has come and gone from my sinuii - however, my nose is still protesting the insult.  Ugh. Slowly things are improving, but the business of the season makes me grumpier when i'm not feeling 'up to snuff'.

not happy about my sinuses

Saturday we had to brave the elements, consumer and weather.  We were headed out for shopping in Berkeley and it was cold and rainy. A perfect time to break out my new Mountain Hardware GoreTex shell (purchased eight days ago at Mountain Hardware's last-ever factory sale in Point Richmond for $50, retail price $359-400) and my Gore Tex Merrell hiking shoes (purchased at REI used-gear sale in mint condition for $19.99, retail price $99.99).  I also got the less than brilliant idea that jeggings would keep my legs warm and i wouldn't have to deal with any trailing skirts, drooping tights, etc. I could just layer up on top and stay warm that way.

Well, i didn't have to adjust anything all day but those jeggings provided no warmth whatsoever.  Frankly, i have no idea why i thought they would. Anyways, Sunday i wore wool tights, petti, skirt and was much warmer.  The Gore Tex jacket and shoes were great - lightweight, comfy, and nice and dry!

fur-trim gloves in pockets

As the day wore on and we walked all over town, i put on my hat to keep warm. My flower pin kept getting 'lost' on my jacket lapel so i moved it on upstairs.  I'd tucked the jeggings into my wool socks to keep warm, and it did work temperature-wise, but the jeggings kept bunching up around my socks. Which looked kinda dumb - but imagine how these pants would look tucked into my in-transit boots with these lace socks peeking out the top.  Different story, entirely.  

the events of the day take their toll
 When we got home, i traded my sneaks for sandals to go start some laundry - i ran into my neighbor D in the carport and she thought i looked cute!  By that time what i was wearing really wasn't on purpose - i'd just juggled things around as i went through the day. But thanks to a long-acting decongestant i was feeling much perkier, as you can no doubt see. Sometimes i have no idea how i ended up in the clothes i'm wearing - does that ever happen to you?

GoreTex Shell: Mountain Hardware
Wool Jacket: Ralph Lauren, about 12 years old
Burnout Velvet Top: Anna Sui for Vogue Patterns V2947, out of print but still available here, made by me
Jeggings: Target
Hat: April Cornell
Shoes: Merrell
Sandals: Naturalizer
Earrings: liliswan on etsy
Scarf, Ribbon Flowers: own design

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Fantasy Becomes Reality

New shoes! ah, the bliss of it all......when down in Pacific Grove, i spent some time in the myriad 'outlet stores' trying on shoes. I had no hope of finding any shoes to buy (and i didn't). But i thought i might be able to find some brands and sizes that my feet could tolerate. And then i could focus my online shopping on these brands.

As it turned out, my feet were quite enamored with some shoes in the Bass outlet store. I didn't care for the style, but when i saw these Bass Lacey Oxfords online i fell instantly in love.   Mr. E went to work and managed to find them for about $25 off retail, and so my oxfords began the trek across the country to their new home.

Firm support, sturdy lug soles, 2" heel, yet fantasy shoe! The top hits at an unflattering place for many legs, but my tiny ankles make it possible for me to pull these off with skirts as well as trousers. To most minds, 'comfort' in a shoe means cushy squishiness. For me it means a very stable, supportive shoe that holds my foot in one place and lets my nerves get a good feel for the surface on which i stand.  Unfortunately, that's much harder to find, though not impossible. The Clark's Indigo and Artisan lines are really beautifully made. The Bass line is great and even more affordable than the Clark's. I've only purchased one pair of sandals, but Naturalizer shoes seem to be made along these lines.

this pic shows neck area detail - but see below

Imagine my delight to find these Bass Lamont tailored lace up boots built on the same sole and heel as my wonderful Lacey oxfords!  Mr. E again performed his shopping wizardry and these lovely lace-ups are wending their way towards the Pacific.....and not a minute too soon! My lovely Maine Woods shoe-boots, with the best stacked heel in existence, have developed 2" long cracks in the leather. Aw, fiddle.  I love to re-sole, but once cracks develop in the upper leather even i have to admit it's 'that time'.

 the 'vee-neck' way i wore the blouse

So, dear readers, with our major capitalist holiday a mere month away, what is your fantasy shoe? Have you been lucky enough to possess a pair, or is that happy event still in your future? Does comfort factor into it, or is it all about the aesthetics?

Crochet Sweater: April Cornell
Blouse: own design, inspired by some girls wander
Skirt: own design, inspired by The Hidden Seed
Shoes: Bass Lacey Oxfords

p.s. today's outfit is just this previous one with a cardigan thrown on top and the shoe/sock story switched out.  This time of year you may be able to 'recycle' any number of summer outfits in this manner.

p. p.s. now that my fantasy shoes are reality, new fantasies include Clark Lyme Grass Boot and Clarks Lyme Regis ankle boot.  Yow Mma!  And to think there have been whole years in which i had the money to buy shoes, but none i cared to buy......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Editorial (warning: this is a long one)

A couple of posts ago i mentioned the book The triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor.  The basic concept laid out in this book is that each individual person has a unique aesthetic. Certain colors, textures, shapes, lines, and proportions will flatter the inherent aesthetic of that individual's physical form, while most other colors, textures, etc. will not.  The authors truly focus on bringing out each individual's particular beauty - this isn't How To Not Look Old by any stretch. The authors draw upon all of art history to find hundreds of portraits which they use to illustrate these principles of shape, form, and color. As i recall, they don't address typical 'style' or personality concepts at all (ie. 'romantic' vs. 'professional' vs.'rocker' style).

The artistic and graphic design concepts which the Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor teach the reader of this book are invaluable.  I cannot recommend it highly enough as the one resource which you can use to learn any concept of art, color, proportion, line, form, etc. that you will ever need to dress your form exquisitely.  But i was never convinced that their focus on an individual physical aesthetic got to the heart of personal style. Flattery is fine, beauty is even better. But what about the psychological, personality, historical, hobby, lifestyle, and other factors that come into and express themselves through people with amazing style? What does a person do when their body looks good in pale pinks and baby blue frothy lace, but they lead a rock band? Or, worse yet, a law firm?

Style blogging, particularly blogs which feature one person's outfits several times a week, is a radically new form of fashion/style media.  It provides the opportunity for your average jane to see what incredibly stylish people wear, on a day to day basis, for months or years on end.  Prior to style blogs, you either had the blessed good fortune to live near one of these stellar individuals, or you saw highlights culled from photo shoots or paparazzi by Anna Wintour. It was just a taste, and the people featured were so many times starlets who are styled by the really interesting style mavens behind the scenes, like the Beckerman family. Now we can see what Calli and Sam are wearing, not just *lithe blonde of moment*.  

I started to notice that color, texture, line, etc. really did make a huge difference in how people looked. Cynthia of Be Fabulous Daily just glows in berries, red, and blues. Erin at Work With What You Got uses every trick in the book to make her long long legs somehow look even longer. Sal of Already Pretty - she loves her newts and wears them well. But put her in a cobwebby-violet or a rusted out forest green with a medium grained pattern and her face and hair suddenly  incandesc on up to 11.  So i became convinced that there are certain elements which flatter people, which best frame and bring out their own unique features and coloring and shape, and others which do not. But this still seemed to only address part of the style picture. What about the person inside the body?

All this thinking and mulling around came to a head during Style Underdog's recent Color Explosion Birthday Week Extravaganza!  Of course Bev looked gorgeous and chic and perfect and the color combinations were so on the edge it made my teeth hurt, like strawberry gelato.  But it also let me see the wisdom in her love of neutrals.

I had no idea that Bev's facial features and complexion were so delicate, even though i've looked at her face hundreds of times over many months now.  Her choice of neutral colors and fine-grained textures allows space for her features and complexion to shine - i felt like those amazing colors shouted down her face a bit.  The neutrals also provide space for her to direct our attention to her elegant curation of accessories. Her accessory choices often appear quite bold, but put them next to a purple and black zebra print and you'd take a week to find them. Her precise color and texture palette also seems very in keeping with her dry, spare wit, her writing style of 'just enough. It's all of a piece - the physical, the personality, the creative choices.

And it's not just because i'm on 'Team Newt' that i love the 'Neutral Underdog'. Sheila of Ephemera rocks the newts, but her masterful use of color knocks your socks off and really makes her face and skin and hair glow.  Her eclectic and agile use of color, texture and pattern also tips you off to her incredibly wide ranging interests - nature, hiking, reading, travel, art and painting, even Weight Watchers! Not to mention her off-beat sense of humor. She uses tons of color, but the colors themselves are very unusual and the pairings extraordinarily sophisticated.  And it's always grounded in classic fit and traditionally feminine shapes - pencil skirts, fitted jackets, well-cut denim. Just by looking at how she presents yourself you can tell she's a very creative lady with interests all over the place - and she's got it all together.

Then it hit me - the graphic elements which flatter an individual's physical form will be limited. But they still are pretty numerous. It's the melding of a particular set of flattering elements with the 'style signifiers' of a person's choice that create true style - from the inside on out. Here's an example. One person's rocker chick could be all shiny black vinyl and red patent leather with one huge shiny stainless steel buckle on each platform boot.You can just picture this on an amazonian lady with straight black hair and strong facial features which stand up to all the stark textures and contrast.

 A smaller lady with curly medium brown hair and soft grey eyes could choose to project a rocker vibe in ripped gauzy tees, spiderweb grey-violet lace, bleached and torn denim belted in silver chain, and a cluster of brushed-steel buckles on her delicate wrists. These elements would let the world know who she is without overpowering her physical form. The high-contrast look of the first outfit would blast out her low-contrast coloring, the same way too much light destroys the detail in a photograph.  And the Amazon would look like she's trying to disguise herself in lace and little chains, as if she's wearing her baby sister's clothes. But when each lady chooses the elements from the 'rocker library of style' that flatter her particular form, she makes that style her own.

Finding which graphic elements flatter your particular form is half the work. The other is finding out how to weave these graphic elements in with the style elements that express who you are. Frankly, it's a lot to handle - no wonder true style seems rare!  But it can be learnt, with time and persistence. And this learning is a very interesting, creative, and rewarding process. We all need to get dressed every day, so the knowledge we gain will always be useful to us. 

I find that teasing this process apart and getting at some of the underlying concepts helps me to refine and make conscious my own style choices and ideas, which really streamlines shopping, designing, making outfits, etc. I hope that some of my ideas help you, the way all of your ideas and outfits and photographs have helped me.

First Look:  
Jacket: Issey Miyake for Vogue Patterns made by me
Pants, Scarf, Hat: gifts
Shoes: Clark's Passion

Second Look:
Poses: inspired by Beckerman Bite Plate
Top: gift
Petti: own design, inspired by Alisa Burke
Shoes: Maine Woods

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Enchanted Woods

ON EDIT: a couple of readers have had their comments Eaten By Blogger recently....i have changed posting settings to "no word verify" and hope this will correct the trouble.
If you do suspect an eaten comment, please take a minute and e-mail me at or Just a quick note would be perfect. I hate to think people are taking the trouble to post and then *poof* nothing.  And your letting me know may be the only way i can ever find out! I sincerely hope this takes care of it and that you have a great rest of the weekend!  steph

I took these pics in late afternoon before Mr. E and i headed out to see The Negro Problem for the second time in a week. I loved the way the trees looked in these pictures but had no idea what caused it. After a day or two of obsessing about it, i realized what had happened. I'd been particularly still while posing (ususally i squirm around some). But the sun had moved to behind the trees, and there was a nice breeze blowing the branches around...... the light was low enough to require a little longer exposure, which traced the movement.....

We'll see if i'm smart/disciplined enough to try to duplicate this effect in future - i love the way it conveys the enchanted feeling that these trees always have for me.

The outfit reminds me a bit of 1950's style 'bod con' dressing, especially the New Look with it's small, fitted jackets. So i decided to try some stylized posing reminiscent of that time. That gorgeous jacket is via Peruvian Connections - can you believe i got it for only $35-40? Their list prices are truly sumptuous, but they do have some extremely worthwhile sales. If the Peruvian Connection aesthetic appeals to you, i urge you to keep an eye out - you can find some very reasonable prices in their sale section.

Strictly speaking, there are about one million* ways i could work this jacket into my everyday wardrobe. But. Firstly it's a tiny bit tight in the shoulders, and i've ripped the shoulders out of many garments in the past. I want to keep this one!  And there's really no way to cover ripped out shoulders, barring marching band-style gold-rope-embellished epaulets.

Secondly, i do like to keep one or two items as 'strictly dress up'.  It just helps me get in the mood for going out on the town, and makes the occasion more special. It's all psychological, but it works for me.  It also helps the 'dress up' pieces stay fresher longer (i'm hard on clothes. In case you didn't twig to that with the 'ripping out shoulders' remark.)

Do you have items you like to keep as 'strictly ballroom', or do you like to mix it all up? Any particular reasons or experiences why?

secret message for S: *numbers may be estimated

Jacket: Peruvian Connection (~ three years old)
Top: Ann Ferriday
Skirt: own design
Belt: vintage Coach
Shoes: Clark's Passion

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have Fun With Your Clothes!

Double outfit post today....actually triple outfit (including the one i posted on Monday).  Recently i've been focusing on my Europa Geisha Blouse,which i made out of cotton Geisha printed fabric using La Fred's Europa Blouse pattern.

my Europa blouse - pattern by La Fred

I've worn three pretty different outfits which each feature this blouse over the last 2-3 weeks, and it got me thinking about what made this blouse so versatile for me.  After all, while it's not completely over the top in pattern, fabric, or styling, it's not a plain black tee shirt or button down blouse.  Flexibility is the key to avoiding boredom with a small wardrobe, so how to pull off this type of manouevre?

First, color.  I've explained before about color in the small wardrobe. My two 'foundation' colors are black and beige, so the parchment/tan of this fabric fits right in. I chose beige as one of my colors precisely because there are so many variations of beige: taupe, khaki, tan, ecru, dark ivory, eggshell, on and one. They all play nicely together and all play just as nicely with black.  Grey could play the same role in a person's wardrobe: charcoal, ash, cobweb, pearl grey.........although for me grey falls under the 'watered-down form of black' category.   Any other colors in my wardrobe have to go well with both beige and black in order to make it in.  As it happens, that's not much of a restriction, so how do i choose?

Secondly, choose only pieces that flatter your particular physical form. We all know the many many items out there that we can't wait to get our hands on - they're so cute, it's the color of the season, vinyl is so fashion forward, i've always wanted to rock a PVC corset ever since i saw one on Sarah Jessica Parker, it looks just gorgeous on my kid's first grade teacher, Tim Gunn says every woman needs a trench coat, if i just belt it and hem it and wear that scarf near my face to 'take care of' the color.......blah blah blah.  You don't want these type of clothes, as fun as they may be.

 Then there's you standing in flourescent light wearing two-sizes-too-big grey sweats, with a 102 degree fever, and you put on the floppy aubergine paisley blouse and all of a sudden you look like a million bucks. It's not in style or out of style, no spectacular 'features' to it. You can ball it up in your hand and it's nothing special there. But when you put it on, you just look fabulous. 

You want those type of clothes.  The 'you look like a million bucks' clothes.

Certain colors, fits, shapes, textures, types of patterns, sizes of patterns, and hem lengths will flatter your form while many others will not.  You can determine these characteristics by actually trying on a bunch of different items and taking pictures or notes, then studying them. Look for clothes that you don't have to 'work with' in order for them to make you look great.  There are plenty of looks you can pull off - with work.  This exercise is about finding the effortless pieces. You don't have to buy anything, especially before you've nailed down what really flatters - it may take time to determine how to work what flatters in with your lifestyle, comfort requirements, etc.

 Even if, to begin with, the really flattering items might seem a little all over the place, with time and observation you will begin to find the common threads. Clothes that truly flatter you will tend to 'go together' because they will have so many commonalities. These commonalities are determined by your own physical aesthetic. The Triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor is an excellent explication of this concept. (Click 'show more formats' to see the really cheap older paperback versions - the information is just as good.) It will instruct you on everything you need to know about color theory, proportion, art history, and how all this relates to dressing your body beautifully. 


Thirdly, clothes that have 'built in' flexible styling options will be easier to style in multiple ways.  That's why so many 'top twenty' lists feature the white button-down shirt with collar. White goes with all colors, you can button it all the way up, leave it open, tie it at the waist (buttoned or open), tuck it in, belt it out (buttoned or un)....all with the collar turned up or down.  Not to mention what you can do with the addition of scarves, necklaces, camis, tees...

the geisha ladies on my Europa blouse
A crewneck or turtleneck sweater, for example, is just inherently more limited.   There's no way to change the neckline without scissors. You can try wearing it backwards, but it basically looks the same (except for the stitching holding the tag on). These types of items are great for base pieces in layerings, but they tend to always look pretty similar.  You can't rely on them to provide a variety of looks. 

Pieces with removable collars, fastenings up the front or back, different necklines back and front (so you can wear it backwards for a different look), loose fits in thin fabrics which can be belted in or layered over, pieces with ties which can be tied or bowed in different ways, skirts which can be pulled up to look shorter or pinned up at the hem - pieces with these types of features allow you a lot more room to play.
me having maybe a little too much fun with my clothes
That's why i sliced up the front of this olive drab turtleneck to turn it into a cardigan. I've worn it more in the last month than i ever did in the previous six years i had it. 

So, my dear readers, do you have any tricks of guidelines for getting more 'looks' out of your clothes? Is it possible to have too much fun with your clothing? Tell all!

Europa Geisha Blouse: La Fred Europa Blouse
Plaid Sundress: Liz Claiborne
Olive Drab Turtleneck: Macy's mens store, rapidly becoming vintage

Shoe Boots: MaineWoods
Belt: old

Sage Crochet Sweater: April Cornell
Tee: Merona at Target
Skirt: own design, inspired by some girls wander
Shoes: Bass Lacey Heeled Oxfords
Belt: vintage Coach

Monday's outfit post

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eagle Clothes

Hello everybody! First of all, i wanted to greet my new's a surprise to find out about people by having them sign up to follow!  Quite a treat! Although i enjoy blogging on it's own, and would write and photograph even if no one else ever laid eyes on what i produced, i really enjoy the conversation and the fresh perspectives that commenters bring to the table.  Plus finding out about new people. websites, projects.... everybody's busy, with so many demands on their time, and you're making the effort to spend some of that limited time here. So Thank You for following and reading and commenting!

bright winter light blasted out skirt color - see 1st pic for truer feel
Well, winter's here and the holidays are just about on top of us. This is always the time of year when if i'm gonna get good and sick, then i get good and sick - so far so good this year, i'm nice and strong! But i do my best to stay up to date on my rest, exercise, etc.  And there's more to do generally, in terms of shopping and food and baking cookies.......all of which is to say that from now until the beginning of the year my plan is to concentrate on outfit posts and stay away from my usual long-winded philosophizing.  If you notice a change, that's what's up. And as usual, if you have any questions or want me to expand on anything, drop a comment!

I've been re-energized, clothing-wise, by the change in weather.  The ability to really layer opens up so many possibilities and reflects my truest sensibilities. It puts my dresses in a whole new perspective - i loved wearing this one as a skirt. I don't have any tall boots, so these leg warmers from mom added that tall boot flavah to this look. And the slight eeneriness of the dress collar under the sweater neckline gave me just the excuse to add this scarf and little wren pin. I felt very long and lean and loved all these smokey blues together.  Plus, all knits, floaty rayons, and no waistband makes for a comfy ride.

These type of outfits, with  floaty, drapey clothes on top and big strong boots at the bottom, always make me feel like a bird of prey.  Raptors have those incredible wings and feathers floating and fanning, sometimes each individual feather independent of the others, all on top of those huge strong leathery talons. Grounded and soaring all at once.

Reality check
Recently i've been feeling a little strange just showing the 'best practices' me. So i thought i'd throw in a picture of my 'less-inspired' dressing every now and then.  That way you can get a little more realistic feel of what i wear.  In addition, my 'downtime dress' does influence what goes on 'on the blog' as well. This is what i wore to drive with Mr. E to work so i could use the car for the day. Hoodie, skinny cargoes, slip-on boots. (At least i put on a bra!) I liked the feel of a leaner line on top of boots, and this influenced my choice of the first outfit in this post when i officially 'dressed for the day'.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The "E" Word

 You know, the last word in my blog title.  "Eccentric".

Most of the time what i wear isn't really all THAT out of the ordinary.  I get occasional stares, smiles, and comments, but on the whole i don't feel self-conscious about how i look or present myself.

But there are times when i realize that what i'm wearing, how i choose to present myself, is stepping pretty far outside the bounds of the 'accepted' or expected.  Like, when i was in my youth, wearing my earrings made of V-8 labels, my ultra-suede fringe pants, my black silk noil pannier skirt.  This outfit 'goes there' as well.

Jan Vermeer  'Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window'
I fell in love with Vermeer's paintings the moment i set eyes on one at the Metropolitan in New York. I'd been looking at so many masterpieces for days, and i felt like my retinas were throwing up - they literally couldn't take in another image. Until i saw the Vermeers.  I stayed there about a half hour, then found myself wandering back again.....

Jan Vermeer 'The Milkmaid'
The autumnal light of this time of year always reminds me of Vermeer's light, and between the light and getting dolled up for Halloween in an old-fashioned shape, i wanted to wear an outfit that spoke to those themes....small, constricted bodice, full skirt with bulk underneath, somber colors, a taste of the East...

The only way to get that shape of skirt, where the bodice bursts out of the skirts like a crocus out of the snow in spring, is to wear a bum roll, farthingale, or bustle.   Bustles give you a very distinct look which has very little to do with how a person's backside is shaped - you get a jutting out right below the waist.

I have two bustles - one for 'period' wear (1890's era) and one for modern wear which is much smaller. I made both of my bustles, along the lines of this pattern. (I designed them both for my own preferences, since i don't use them for historical reproduction.) I love the way it shapes the skirt and gives it a completely different presence.

So now you know a woman in 2010 USA who actually goes out of her way to ADD bulk to her hips/backside. The "E" word is in my blog title for a any of you 'go there' in how you present yourselves?  How much does the "E" word apply to you?

Wrap Cardi: Nine West
Jacket: own design
Blouse: made myself using Europa Pattern by La Fred
Skirt: Susan Bristol, gift
Tights: Hanna Andersson
Boots: Maine Woods

Friday, November 12, 2010


explosion of color and ruffli-girliness
So, a week or two ago i stumbled across a nice little (big!) surprise - Weesha had included my site on her blogroll!  'This sort of thing' is still pretty new to me, so i got very excited.  It seemed like a good excuse to do a little introduction/recommend of Weesha's World here on the blog.

hardcore: edgy and tough
 By now, even if you've never heard of Weesha before, you know that she has great style and an incredible range. Which makes her blog well worth your time. But even more, i appreciate her outlook. While a determined optimist, Weesha acknowledges that life is hard and unfair, that crummy things do happen for rotten reasons or no reason we can know.

rockin' jeans and a tee
At the same time, maintaining respect for ourselves and others, and deliberately noticing and affirming the good things that do happen, can make us happier people who are more fit to do right by ourselves and others.  She comes across as, dare i say it, 'wise beyond her years'.  Saccharine-sweet 'positive or else!' sentiments tend to leave me cold.  Weesha's outlook demonstrates that optimism can be a brave stance in this world.

carrying off graphic shapes and neon color pop with panache
It seems that a lot of people who read this blog move in the same circles of the 'blogosphere', and my hunch is that most of you know of each other.  But i'm not how sure how many of you know Weesha - i don't see any real 'cross-commenting' going on.  Now that you know Weesha, don't be a stranger!

That Smile!

As you know, we spent Halloween at mom's.  Turns out mom had been cleaning out her closets, and i bagged a few choice items for myself while helping her bag them up for the Goodwill.  I've always had a hankering for pique polo shirts, but never felt 'me' while wearing one. But this blue was so nice, and seemed to blend well with my blue shirtwaist....

I was in a mood to wear my blue shirtwaist dress as more of a skirt, and my new polo shirt bloused over the dress just so. The dress collar even played nice with the shirt.  I got another oversized polo from mom in heather grey at the same time, but it's jersey instead of pique.  It doesn't drape so much as make random, origami-style shapes. As a result, my hips looked like the Sydney Opera House had crash-landed on them.  However, it didn't mind being tucked in, and you'll see the resulting outfit in future.

no comment re pose. but you can see the lining!

It's much easier for me to come up with an outfit that feels 'me' in the dressier range of things. So i was very happy to have created a casual look in which i felt so comfortable.  And how easy is the formula "skirt + casual tee or polo + belt + snazzy shoes"?   Thanks, Mom!!!

Polo, Tights, Scarf: gifts
Hoodie: Aeropostale
Dress: own design, inspired by Work With What You Got
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Beret: ????
Shoes: Beautifeel, 10+ years old

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getaway Weekend Tips: Part Two

taming the savage beast

In this second of my getaway tips posts, i'll show you a couple more outfits created out of the capsule wardrobe,  my makeup kit and how i get it so compact, and reveal my secret to attractive yet functional travel knickers (that's 'panties' for you non-Brits). Unfortunately, my camera wigged a bit (i admit, it very likely was me wigging!) so i missed some outfit pictures. But i hope you enjoy these views of Green Gables Inn!

green gables sitting area by the fireplace - original stained glass
 Again, the capsule consists of a skirt, one pair jeggings, two tunics, two tanks, a lace camisole, a cardigan, a jean jacket, and a leather jacket. One pair 'walking compatible' dress shoes, one pair hiking shoes.  I've shown around six outfits in these two posts, but the possibilities are much greater - especially if you take along larger scarves that can 'double' as tops or skirts.  While on my late-nite walk the other evening, i calculated that this capsule could yield around 20-24 different looks (not counting the power of accessories). My calculations included each individual top paired with skirt and jeggings, then adding in all various layering combinations (cardi over tank, tunic over cardi, jean jacket over cardi over tank, and so on).

napping in a window seat with a view of the ocean.....while wearing heels, of course.
Of course, people's tastes and needs in clothing vary widely.  You could take a pair of dress pants (wide legged silk trousers, lined wool pinstripes) instead of the skirt and take jeans or khakis instead of the jeggings.  Skirts are so varied - gabardine pencil, floaty floral, khaki safari, mini denim all depends on your taste, your itinerary, and the weather.

cardigan loosely buttoned over black lace cami for breakfast our last day
 If you're a big sweater fiend, switch out one of the tunics for another cardigan that you can wear as a top, buttoned up the back, or the traditional way over the other cardi, a tunic/blouse, or tank.  You can switch out the tanks for tees (short or long sleeved). Just make certain that they are easy to layer in order to increase your possibilities.  And bear in mind the casual/dressy scale. Tossing in a couple of pieces on the other end of the scale from the bulk of your items will definitely increase your flexibility.

another view of green gables sitting and dining area and carousel horse

On to Makeup!

The rest of this post focuses on makeup and underwear, so 'fashion-only' readers can stop right here! I pretty much wear makeup every day.  Above you see what i take traveling.  For day to day use i only add in a couple of bigger brushes, for powder and blush.

top compact (start at top left, then go clockwise): cream concealer, eyeshadow, face powder, blush
lower compact (start at top left, then go clockwise):shimmery pinkey-taupe shadow, sheer taupe shadow, ELF Moondust shadow (dark greyish shimmer), darker matte brown shadow

These ELF compacts are my 'big secret'.  I'm not a huge fan of ELF cosmetics (except for their Moondust eyeshadow), but these compacts and pans are a fantastic deal because you can clean out the pans and fill them with any powder or cream product you desire.  (M.A.C. pans fit these compacts - i'm not sure if you have to put a magnet on the bottom). They cost one dollar each, are nice and sturdy, and have a mirror big enough that you don't need to take another mirror alongELF also sells pop-in, magnetized pans with eyeshadows, blushes, etc. for one dollar each.  You can use these ELF pans to re-fill with your own cosmetics.Or, as in the top compact, you can take out the insert and put in any size or shape of pan that's not too thick.  The one drawback is that the compacts don't come with a liner to keep the mirror clean. But you can easily make one of an acetate sheet, paper protectors from a binder, parchment paper, etc.

they even have internet access, so i was able to keep up with all of you!
Cream products are pretty straightforward - just use a small knife, spoon, etc. to fill you pan and smooth over the top.  But, what i only found out a year ago, you can also re-press any pressed powder (not loose!) products you want.  The basic process is to crush the powder, pack it into the alcohol-cleansed pan, put in a few drops of rubbing alcohol, and then press it down hard with a quarter wrapped in old tee shirt material soaked in rubbing alcohol.  Let it dry, and you're good to go! Of course i didn't think this up myself - i learned it by watching this video by Kandee Johnson on YouTube. The one thing to remember is that this won't work with loose powders, as they don't contain a binder to hold it all together.

top row left to right: mascara (warm water removal), blush brush (doubles as powder on the road), lid brush, wash/blending brush, crease brush, liner/smudge brush, slant-edge brush (for brows and lining eyes), clear mascara, Prestige eyeliner, HB pencil (for brows).  bottom row: poly-con with liquid foundation, carmex tin with gel primer

 The other idea you can use to streamline your makeup is to focus on multi-use products and brushes. My foundation doubles as concealer and eyeshadow base, and can be mixed with moisturizer for a sheerer look. Sheer, mid-tone eyeshadows can be used as lid, contouring, or all-over shadows.  Dark, matte brown shadows can be used to fill in brows, as contour, or as a sharp or smoky eyeliner (depending on application). Mascara that comes off with warm water or your regular cleanser means no need for makeup remover.

As you can guess, i get a lot more flexibility out of a few neutral shades and multiple brushes for my eyes than a bunch of different colors with only one or two brushes. And since i go light on powder and blush, i can get away with using the same brush for both (i wipe it briskly on a rough washcloth between the two). Take a look at every product in your routine with an eye to double-uses and see where you can pare down your own makeup bag.

The Grand Finale

We've all seen those horrifying 'around the world in one pair of undies' online or, even worse, in travel stores. Can you say bulky, unflattering, sucking all the fun out of being in some gorgeous international location? Talk about taking visible panty lines to a new level - these things are braille-compatible. Yuck!

If you want something cheerful, in a variety of colors and styles, tiny to pack and quick-drying, just look for nylon lace undies.  You can find them at any price point (i've purchased well made ones for $4 each at Target). Just look at the fiber information and check for a cotton crotch. Nylon is soft and very very long-lasting, and nylon lace dries in an hour or two if you roll it in a towel first. I have ones from Victoria's Secret that i've used as everyday undies for around seven years that are in perfect shape.

per innkeeper Honey, once a month a letter arrives from a visitor saying that the profusion of teddy bears creeps them out.   for goodness sakes, teddy bears?

You'll be pleased to hear that that's all i'm going to say about THAT.  I hope you found this useful - please ask any questions and i'll do my best to answer.  Hopefully you'll be able to go on a getaway trip of your own soon!  Maybe Vegas?