Friday, December 31, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Days Fourteen & Fifteen

 So i bucked up and dealt with my clothing capsule boredom by making a species of suit (see above) and using accessories to bring color into a neutral look (see below).

For me, combining any type of blue with greys always brings out the blue in the grey, instead of toning down the blue.  So my outfit yesterday felt very 'blue' to me, even though only the legwarmers and scarf are blue. (And of course, the blues looked more blue in real life.....) Does it seem that way to any of you? Maybe it's because there's a blue briolette in the earrings, and i did wear a blue stone ring.

Photography conditions have been very trying recently. I actually woke up this morning, got into my clohtes from the day before, and re-shot this 'blue' outfit, because the shots from yesterday afternoon were so atrocious. Even so, dappled sunshine isn't the greatest for detailed depiction of costume.  But it's the best i could come up with!

This look was fun because it felt like i used the bare minimum of accessories in order to get the look across and make it interesting, without crossing the 'boring barrier'. I've had a good time skating towards the minimalistic end of my style spectrum, and i've been getting a lot of compliments, too. I think it makes my style more understandable without people needing to study it in depth beforehand.

So i finally get a decent pic of these earrings and my ear is blazing red. Just think of it as a festive holiday tribute to our favorite little reindeer. From top down that's a sterling acorn, a sterling and marcasite salamander, and my regular bird filigree and pearl (half of a pair - the others have become single over the years).

The past several years, Mr. E and i have made a tradition of going out to a swanky eatery around 5 or 6pm on New Year's Eve. That way we don't need to worry about reservations or getting a great seat, and if you keep ordering they don't kick you out. We tend to go to Cesar's on Shattuck in Berkeley, but tonite the hubby has scoped out a new tapas place in the Temescal neighborhood in Oakland. Yum!  I hope you all have a great, safe, non-hangover-inducing evening!  Best wishes to you and yours for the coming year!

Species of Suit:
Jacket, Skirt: own design
Black Sweater: Target
Leggings: Carushka
Shoes: Ariat
Belt: vintage Coach
Tiger-Stripe Socks, Lace Scarf, Jewelry: gifts

Blue or Grey?:
Grey Sweater: Tweeds
Ivory Sweater: Royal Robbins
Lace-trimmed Cami: Old Navy
Jeggings: Target
Legwarmers: gift from mom
Scarf, Earrings: own design
Boots: Bass Lamont

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Thirteen

This week is turning into 'Mr. Eccentric's Greatest Hits'.  He bought me this jacket as well. I wore it Tuesday (day before yesterday) on my walk. It's great - not too warm, big enough to wear a sweater underneath, fun faux fur trim, easily worn with skirts or pants, classic aviator style-feel.  So much for the stereotypical 'men have no taste' meme!

This outfit was when i 'hit the wall' with this workaday capsule. I got bored. I'll stick with it - that's the point of a challenge, right? I did realize that i could live with this small of a wardrobe IF i had a larger, more varied accessory wardrobe. After all, when you're dressing in neutral-colored basics most of the visual interest comes from the accessories.

These thoughts tie in with what Cynthia at Be Fabulous Daily has been writing about recently. She wrote a post on her closet clean up which ended with the question, 'Do i have too many clothes or a normal amount?' (paraphrased). She also did a well-thought out post defining her personal style preferences. To my way of thinking, a person's style strategy will influence what is the optimal amount of clothing for them. Cynthia said it well herself - she relies on a lot of color and pattern combos in her outfits, and thus usually only needs one accessory - scarf, necklace, earrings - to pull the look together.  Right there you can see the contrast between what would be optimal for Cynthia and what would work best for me in terms of clothes to accessories ratio.

I've always felt that the 'perfect number of clothes' will vary from person to person and across a person's life.  There are many factors to take into consideration - budget, tolerance for laundry, how 'hard' you are on clothes (how long they typically last), climate, lifestyle, special interests (workout clothes, clothes for hobbies such as horseback riding or dancing, fencing, etc.), type of social life (clubbing, charity balls), professional requirements, and so on.

I can think of a few question to ask yourself in order to determine how close you are to your optimal wardrobe (# & appropriateness of items).  How often do you find yourself with nothing to wear? Do your laundry duties seem reasonable?  Can you put together outfits appropriate to your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual activities out of your current wardrobe? Can you bundle up and cool off? Do you feel comfortable with the image you project? Are you aware of any 'holes' in your closet, and do you have a plan in place to fill it? Do you feel you are spending the appropriate amount of money and time (shopping, planning) on your wardrobe? Are you bored with your clothes? If you got an unexpected opportunity to do something spectacular that you've always wanted to do (trip to Antartica, ball at the White House, invitation to Carnivale in Venice), would you have a pretty good idea of how to go about clothing yourself for this experience?

Now, everybody go read Cynthia's posts. Then, tell us how do you/would you go about determining how close you are to your optimal wardrobe? (If you've got it figured out, you can start a church!)

Jacket: Victoria's Secret
Hat: gift, trimmed by me
Cardi:  Charter Club by Macy's (turtleneck, cut up the center)
Earrings: gifts
Tee: Target
Lace Cami: Old Navy
Belt: Thrift Town (?)
Skirt: own design
Wool Blend Tights: Hanna Andersson
Shoes: Bass Lacey

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Twelve

talking to mom's dog

 I wore this look last Sunday, the day after Christmas. We went up to Napa to spend the day with my mother and take her out to dinner. Mr. E came up with the idea of going out for the holiday dinner on the day AFTER the holiday.  It worked out pretty brilliantly, too - no crowds, no need for reservations, no weird 'holiday fare'. We went to Grace's Table in downtown Napa (a few doors down from Pleasures Unlimited, the adult supplies store). A wee bit pricey, but not outrageous. Delicious food. My only regret is that mom and i shared a piece of Devil's Food cake, instead of getting two pieces.

here's Jack!

The belt is an amazing hand-embroidered Central American piece. I found it about a year ago at a private sale up in Mendocino which we stumbled upon while staying in town for our tenth anniversary. I'd been on the lookout for a similar belt for years. This one is almost 1/4" thick, it's got that much work on it, and was $35.00. I've never seen anything remotely similar for under $100.00. The sale is run by an older lady who's been living/traveling in Mayan country since the 1960's, and importing various handwoven articles.

The only trouble with this belt, as far as wearing it goes, is the pink dye. It's not fast at all and wears off on whatever comes into prolonged contact with it (jeans, purse, etc.). So i've been wearing it with black. It really looks stunning with jeans. I haven't worn it with jeans that much because of the dye trouble - but frankly it washes out very easily.  Looks like i've just shot down that reason - prepare to see more of this belt in future!

In this close up you can get a better look at the jewelry. The beautiful garnet and marcasite necklace is from my mother, who i think bought it at an antique shop. The garnets have a really nice color, and are set high to catch plenty of light. The earring is the Thomas Mann piece my mom and i discussed a couple of days ago, in the post and the comments. Both the arrow and the striped piece are moveable.

And here's my outfit from Monday. I realized sometime over the weekend that i've been keeping track of my No Repeats Workdays and Weekends outfits in a misleading manner - i've only been 'numbering' the workday outfits. So this last outfit in this post is 'Day Twelve', while the first outfit is kind of a 'bonus' look. Well, folks, i suppose it would be possible to go back and re-count, re-number, and re-name all this to make it make sense. But with this brain, it would take a ridiculous amount of blood, sweat and tears. Those posts are going to stand as they are - i'll be numbering outfits #1-20 in my 'workaday capsule' as part of the No Repeats challenge, and i'll be showing the weekend outfits without numbers.

 Just goes to show what happens when you try to organize the human brain.

Boxing Day Outfit:
Hat: The Berkeley Hat Co.
Tunic: Converse One for Target
Skirt: gift
Over The Knees: Target
Boots: Bass Lamont

Day Twelve Outfit:
Black Wrap Cardi: Nine West
Henley: Aeropostale
Skirt: own design
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Wool Blend Tights: Hanna Andersson
Shoes: Maine Woods

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Eleven

 Whew! Not exactly a whilrlwind of a weekend, but pretty active nonetheless.  Movies, shopping, eating out, making salads, visiting, catching up......I hope all of you had a great time with your friends and families as well!

Lotta pictures in this post, and two outfits.  This first outfit is what i wore on Saturday, Christmas Day. (My No Repeats Workaday outfit is further on down the post.) I tend to dress for a special function at the beginning of the day, especially on holidays. It makes the whole day feel more festive. It's also one less thing to do (get 'dressed up').

This wonderful coat is April Cornell from a few years back. It was a Christmas present from my husband, with no input from me. Husbands have a reputation for being the last person you'd want to involve in fashion decisions. Completely not the case in this household! And i would never have bought this coat for myself, as the black jacquard tends to catch and pull threads out. I'm very glad that Mr. E isn't practical that way! At some point in future i'll use the black fabric as a pattern for a new outer layer, when i find the right fabric. I plan to extend the life of this piece for as long as i can.

I love the shape of this coat, and the faux fur is warm and soft and lends it a wonderful weight. It's one of those pieces that makes you long for cold, frosty weather. Not every woman can say so, but my husband has better taste than i do! Lucky me.

Click on the above picture for a better look at the detailing on the alpaca blend sweater and the swiss dot blouse with pintucks.

This Christmas Eve outfit was a lot of fun and worked well for running around doing last minute shopping, walking around generally, and taking in a movie. Our landlord and next-door neighbor has a huge, fun family and he invites all of them on Christmas Eve for a spectacular party and feast. There's plenty of kids having the time of their life as well, so our Christmas Eve tradition has been to make ourselves scarce on that night. Usually we've spent the night at bed and breakfasts' or at my Dad and his wife's traditional 'eve soup' dinner. But this year we took in a movie instead. We saw The Social Network, and it was very well done and enjoyable. I liked it more than i expected and would recommend it.

This look was comfy and warm and didn't have fussy parts to get in my way. And with a snazzy hat, no worries about your hairdo!

I love the way the back of this sweater looks like a sailor top's collar. It gives it an old fashioned, romantic vibe.   I made the little heart pin on this hat to showcase a piece of embroidery that i saved off of a worn-out cami top.

It's funny how sometimes i get an idea for accessorizing or putting together a couple of pieces just 'from the gut', and then later it turns out there is a very sound aesthetic principle behind the choice. Afterwards i can see how it could be put together by 'thinking it through' using established rules, but at the time it just came to me.

In this outfit i wanted a necklace, and my hand just went for this naja and pearls. I had no idea why, but it looked great. Later i realized that the naja and the 'leggers' both feature a stirrup or upside down horseshoe shape.

First Look:
Hat: Ren Faire vendor, own trim
Coat: April Cornell
Sweater: Peruvian Connection
Blouse: own design, inspired by The Style Underdog
Skirt: own design
Belt, Tights: Betsey Johnson
Shoes: Clark's Passion

Second Look:
Hat: gift, own trim
Sweater: Charter Club by Macy's
Tee: Target
Skirt, Pearl Bracelet: own design, inspired by The Hidden Seed
'Leggers': own design, the term 'leggers' is courtesy Misfit Vintage
Belt: vintage Coach
Naja: Gathering Tribes
(pearl necklace is own design)
Shoes: Bass Lacey

Friday, December 24, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Ten

This is what i wore yesterday.

Today it's Christmas Eve - i'm off to the races, hopefully i'll start posting again on Monday.

Thank you so much to ALL of you for reading, commenting, and following - and of course a huge Thank You! to all of you who maintain your own fascinating and inspirating blogs! I enjoy taking the photos, putting together the outfits and writing just for the doing of them, but the conversation that develops online is a HUGE bonus, always thought-provoking and lots of fun!

focus on sock layering - warm!

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy and safe holiday weekend!


Gorgeous Red Berries in the Background: Toyon bushes, a California Native plant
Jacket, Sweater, Capris: Royal Robbins
Lace-edged cami: Old Navy
Lace Scarf: gift
Necklace, Leopard scarf: own design
Belt: Betsey Johnson
Boots: Bass Lamont
Pink OTK Socks: Target
Black Wool Socks: Smartwool

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Hankerings

 Yes indeedy, the holidays are rapidly approaching, possibly even already here.  Our neighbors had a neighborhood get-together last night, which was really nice! I had two glasses of eggnog (virgin) and some fudge. I also learned a huge amount of neighborhood history from our hostess, who has lived in the same place since 1972. I've lived here eleven years, a veritable newcomer in comparison, so it was fascinating to hear all the dirt. Things are much quieter now, thank heavens!

 I bugged out on the No Repeats challenge (as per my 'rules') for the evening and added this festive embroidered velvet jacket on top of my other (challenge-approved) pieces. Not much more to say about this look, except that my white crochet socks kept falling down into my boots, so i kept pulling them up. And i wore my white petticoat under my skirt, you can just see it peeking out from under the hem.

In the spirit of our major festival of consumer consumption, here are a few drool-worthy items which i've recently run across, for your delectation.

image from official Doc Marten site

Bella from the Citizen Rosebud was gifted these boots in black - how perfect for our favorite blushing blossom! Kudos to her gift-giver, for excellence in taste and in generosity!

Diamond Rose necklace at Thomas Mann jewelry

I mentioned the jeweler Thomas Mann in the comments to my last post. I've been lucky enough to be gifted and to buy a few of his pieces over the years. The first was a gift from my mom when i was around 20 (?). It was kind of pricey, especially for one (?!?!?) lone earring.....yet i still get compliments every time i wear it!

Bird's Nest necklace at Thomas Mann jewelry

Back then i only knew of one shop that carried any of his work, and for several years i couldn't find any of his pieces anywhere. What a world where you can browse his catalog online....progress has indeed taken place.

Plymouth by Ariat

I've been poking around online and in the real world for 'tall boots' (ones that go to up around the knee somewhere). I've only had one pair, some secondhand Fryes when i was in high school, long gone. The boots above are Plymouth, by Ariat (the same company that made my beloved paddock boots shown below).

my 12 year old Ariat paddock boots.

I am very reluctant to shell out the type of cash needed for ANY decent pair of shoes, much less what they charge for tall boots, without a feel for the quality and 'foot compatibility' of the company's shoes. These boots pass that test, and the basketweave detail is phenomenally classic. An intriguing development. Ariat has a nice line of paddock boots these days, as well.

Enough day dreaming (for now)! As a dear friend used to say, 'We've got places to go and people to scare.' Happy day, everybody!

Jacket: Yak Magic
Grey Sweater: Mossimo at Target
Skirt, Necklace, Petticoat: own design
Boots: Bass Lamont

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Nine

Yesterday i started feeling better and felt like wearing a little snazzier type of look.  So i paired the grey ruffle skirt with the crop pinstripe jacket and heels. Done!

So many of you commented on the helpful aspect of dressing up when you're feeling down, that i wanted to post this link to a New York Times interview with Tim Gunn (hat tip to mom!). The pertinent part:

"Q. Some people view fashion as frivolous. Do you see a connection between fashion and health?
A. I was part of Dr. Oz’s team last year. I was his fashion guy. My first assignment was a mother and daughter, each of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. They were in recovery, and my job was to take them shopping. I sat, and we talked for two hours. I heard about their journey, the cancer treatment, the resulting side effects. I was thinking how courageous these two individuals are, and what strength and tenacity they had. I told them, “I’m here to take you shopping. After everything you’ve been through, why would you care about this?” They said, “Are you kidding? When we look good, we feel better.’’ It was really an epiphany for me.
I’m always talking about the semiotics of clothes, how the clothes we wear send a message about who we are and how the world perceives us. When we look good, it shores up our confidence. We navigate the world with a sense of ownership. I don’t think of fashion as being something inconsequential or ephemeral, I think of it as being critically important."

New York Times, December 17, 2010 "Tim Gunn’s Advice for Making It Work" by Tara Parker-Pope

How you dress influences how other people see you - but it also influences how you see yourself.

I love this pendant - it's a working cuckoo clock which used to be my mother-in-law's. The detail is wonderful, with hanging pine cone weights and edelweiss flowers. Sometimes i have trouble getting this beret to stay in one place on my head, especially with 'small hair'. You can get a glimpse of my solution - i roll up a black bandanna and tie it on around my hairline. This adds enough bulk to my head (!) so the beret stays in place. This trick works with most hats - choose a bandanna that blends in with your hair or hat if you don't want to call attention to it.

Now, the last of the accessory sets!  I put these together using multiple strategies, which i've noted under the pictures. This post addresses how to 'match mismatching' earrings, but the principles apply to creating new combinations of accessories as well.

Bows with rounded danglers.  The roses on the chain belt are also a rounded shape, and the rhinestones echo the quartz of the hearts and the crystal of the watch.

This group is all about swirling lines - keeping the colors to gold tones, ivory, and soft pearl grey helps tie these items together.

The belt, metal bracelet, and pearl bracelet (worn as a necklace) all have a chunky, wide feel. The pearls in the necklace made simple pearl studs a good choice for the ears.

Here the pearl bracelet is worn on the wrist.  The earrings and necklace/pendant in this group put the focus on the chains.

Silver metal with pearl accent.  The earrings combine silver and pearl, thus helping to pull the whole group together. ( i put the earrings in the clothespins so they'd stay in place and you could see them - no, i'm not suggesting wooden clothespins as accessories, at least as part of this group!)

I've clasped two silver 16" chains end-to-end to make one chain that's closer to the length of the pearls. I felt that one or two silver chains so much shorter than the pearls wouldn't relate. As it happens, the pearl clasp makes it easy to shorten their length, so i could also wear this as two silver chains and one pearl strand at a 16" length, if that worked better with the neckline.

Pearls vs. silver/black metal. The heart and bow earrings snuck in there to emphasize the black tones.

I hope these posts have sparked some ideas for how you can get more use out of your own accessories through new combinations.

Anyone able to spot the x-rated item?

Beret: ???
Jacket: own design
Black Sweater: Royal Robbins (i'm still wearing it at this moment!)
Belt: vintage Coach
Skirt: own design
Over The Knee Socks: Target
Shoes: Clark's Passion

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Repeats W & W: Day Eight

 This outfit isn't anything to 'write home about'. It's fine, comfy, and with appropriate footwear would be fine for running errands, a trip to a cafe, etc. The real story of this outfit, for me, is how easy it was to get dressed on a day when i felt pretty creepy in the morning.

Unfortunately, i've spent years of my life bed-ridden and/or house-bound. Needless to day, this doesn't do anything for a person's emotional outlook. I have found that taking care of the little stuff - keeping your self and your surroundings neat and tidy - helps a lot to keep your head on straight. In other words, getting nicely dressed is important to feeling better. But it takes effort and energy to do this, and when you're feeling crummy energy and effort can be in short supply. It turns out that thinking through my 'workaday capsule' took care of the bulk of the 'getting dressed' energy up front, and putting this outfit together was a snap. A blessing on a low-energy day!

yep, that's a stegosaurus
I'm coming around to the conclusion that getting dressed nicely everyday takes a certain amount of energy and thought - there's no getting around it. You can put that energy in before you need to get dressed, by planning what needs to come into your wardrobe, which items are appropriate for which areas of your life, various ways you can combine different items, etc. and making a few lists or notes or taking pictures. Or, you can put in some high-energy brainstorms five minutes before you need to be out the door for that important meeting, or find yourself battling the crowds on December 30th to find a dress for that great party, blind date, etc. One way or the other, you're going to be putting in the time and effort. Personally, i prefer the less dramatic, more methodical approach.

Along those lines, here's a few accessory sets i put together and photographed for future reference. My idea was to have a 'library' of accessory looks that are already thought-out to look put together, that i can add to a number of outfits when i lack inspiration or time. The right accessories can really make a look, so it's an important area to think about when planning a wardrobe.

These first sets are created around color or finish.

Silver or brass toned metal with a large amount of 'black tarnish' or 'antiquing' finish.

Metal, stone, or leather with a strong  yellow undertone.

 Orange! The belt's leather is very orange-yellow toned, and this overpowers the silver of the buckle.

The next sets were put together based on what i think of as 'themes'. The different accessories depict the same or similar objects, or are related by a widely recognized style (nautical, punk, etc.).


Flowers!The pearl necklace echoes the shape of the roses on the chain belt. The earrings and scarf are orange, so adding the butterfly made sense from a color perspective.  Butterflies and flowers are thematically related as well.

Southwest theme - belt, pin, earrings are all in this theme. I felt a bracelet was needed, and this one has strong silver to pick up on the silver in the other three items.

Tomorrow i'll post a few more of these sets and some thoughts on how i put them together. I hope they give you some ideas on grouping accessories in new ways, even if you don't want to go the way of documenting your own accessory sets.