Monday, February 24, 2014

Truly Visible Monday

Well i just had to post this look on one of Patti's Visible Mondays. First, i wore it last Monday. Second, i wore it to the mall to get a jean jacket (previously scoped) and try on some jeans. And i got a lot of appreciative looks -

- but only from men. My feel is that it had to do with the outfit being so ladylike - dress, heels, hat. The mall is more for sexy-style ladies, not necessarily lady-style ladies, so my anomalous outfit attracted attention.

Well, it's a theory. I'm wearing an adorable Coldwater Creek silk dress, which is cut across above the bust with that little embroidered bow and has a couple of straps, over a vee neck tee. Doreen next door picked this dress for me from her thrift shop volunteering swag, it's a gem.  I've come to terms with princess seamed dresses and tops. My minimalist side always loves the idea of a straight cut crew neck tee or dress, but in real life it's just fussy and too bulky here and too tight there and my shoulders are straining against the sleeve caps and the crew neck is bothering my it looks a jumble, not the clean easy lines i want in my head.

But princess seams allow the fabric to skim over my particular bod, and vee necks break up my upper body and are more comfortable to boot. It's constantly a question of "how does this inspired idea manifest in my individual circumstances?" I try not to get stuck on the exact visual of any particular inspiration image, but i still get tripped up.

During my shopping trip, i tried on the Gap's Sexy Boyfriend jeans. (Lord, what a ridiculous name).  As soon as i spotted them, online somewhere i think, i realized they could be a great replacement for my Faconnables. They're real big old men jeans which also came thru my fairy godmother. I knew i'd keep them, if only for the juicy mango labels, yum! But i tried them on as a hoot, and now they're a workhorse.

Thus, i've been on the lookout for a replacement, and a possibly more refined look. I didn't have much hope, getting jeans that fit off the rack has been a major bane of my style existence. But i was at the mall anyways, and my Faconnables are really ripping through the knees, and the thighs are thinning badly too.

Be still my heart! Those sxy byfrnd jeans even look great under a dress!!! List price is $70, as nice as these fit and how much i love them i'd happily pay that amount.....

....unless of course by a little patience and research i can find them on significant discount. Keeping my fingers crossed, there's some likely looking markdowns online. That's all from here, have a great week!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Signs You May be Happy in Uniform: A Quiz Eccentrique

Reader Vildy left another of her thought-provoking comments on my last post: "I remember when you had been making a point of never wearing the same exact outfit twice - so this has been a real reversal for you."  It's true, starting around age 16 or 17 i developed the habit of not repeating. Not entirely sure why (ha! of course i probably have some detailed explanation elsewhere on the blog, just can't recall at the moment), but maybe something to do with nerves over my small, neutral based closet getting too boring.  In any event, i have been exploring the idea of repeats the last year or so, mostly because i have certain looks that i enjoy exponentially more than others. Ergo, why not wear the most bestest ones the most or all the time.

new denim jacket from American Eagle - in other words, the mall

But getting to the quiz portion of the post. While i've developed a habit of a 'no repeats' approach to dressing, in all honesty it's wildly at variance with the rest of my life. Here's the quiz:

Do you eat the same breakfast every day, down to brand and specific type of apple, for years on end?

Do you take walks along the same route to the extent you've walked certain routes over one thousand times, still enjoying it immensely?

Do you consistently order the same items at restaurants, to the point where family and friends literally create scenes as they are so bored with you? (hmmm, pry doesn't help that it still takes me ages to decide on what to order.....)

Do you still check in with your favorite online forum daily even though the administrator deleted your account (at your own request) over five years ago? (Hi RigInters - lunarose here :)

Do you still have potted plants from twenty five years ago, in their original pots?

Are your favorite shoes over two (four, five, twelve.....) years old?

Do you consistently drive the exact same route to errands, work, standing appointments, etc.?

Do friends, family, roommates complain about the one CD you listen to over and over and over and's not like you're trying to be irritating, but seriously what is better than Pirate's Choice?

Would you send your DH off to work with the same exact lunch, every work day, for fourteen months in a row - not out of some passive aggressive torture scenario, but because hey why mess with perfection?

No scoring system here. I'll leave the reader to draw her own conclusions.

In other news, I was rocking my signature look last Tuesday, at John Muir ER. I've not felt well since a respiratory bug around Christmas, and started feeling really bad the end of January. Mostly evil fatigue (drag out of bed at 7:30am, crawl back in at 9am) but some chest/arm pain made me suspect a recurrence of clot and pulmonary embolism....angel ma drove me out to the ER, turns out i'm 'profoundly anemic' (feh, i'd prefer shallow in this instance). Cause of the anemia is still undiagnosed, so test-o-rama in my future. In the meantime, iron pills provide significant relief .

Doc "B" also admired my new Johnny F's - Adriane Lois. Incredibly sturdy and comfy walking shoes.

I've written about my next point before, and here it comes again. It's times like this when all the wardrobe planning, style identifying, challenges, checklists, shopping trips, sewing and etc. becomes so worth it.  I really hate feeling uncomfortable in my clothes (physically as well as aesthetically). While i truly appreciate medical technology and deeply admire so many medical people i've been fortunate enough to work with over the years, I also hate with a passion having to interact with the medical industry. Simply because of all the painful experiences i've had over the decades.

I suspect for many of you, otherwise why would you be reading here, it's the same. Clothes make a difference for you. And during a really nasty, stressful situation it's a true comfort and touchstone to be clothed how you like, looking true to yourself.  This concept ended up being illustrated in a uniquely wacky way during my time in the ER. I had a great, professional, thorough, communicative Doctor "B" assigned to me. After a couple of hours in the ER, he popped in the (thankfully private) room and piped up, "I'd like to do a rectal exam!" "aaiieeeeee!" 

So we got it sorted, i turned on my side and he set to exposing the area of interest. I don't like my legwear sticking to my skirts, so i make and wear half slips - generally of silk crepe de chine with 2" wide lace trim and a small elastic in a casing at the waist. The one i wore last Tuesday was powder blue with royal blue lace trim. I'd stripped down to the waist, donned the gown, but still wore my leggings, socks, shoes, and half slip. I hear the Doc say, "hmm, this is interesting....." then, in a truly delighted tone of voice, "Oh! A little skirt!" I explained it was a slip, and before i knew it the exam had come to an end.

the little skirt

The Doc's remark stuck with me, as it's the kind of thing that's extremely difficult to say in those circumstances without sounding condescending or pervy. But he managed it, with an ease that conveyed he appreciated seeing something fun and individual about me as a person. During a situation where one participant pretty much wants to pretend it's not happening, it's risky to emphasize that you're actually two real live people involved in this (well, ma was there too, so - but i think she was pretending to look at her crossword puzzle).  At the same time, if you can pull it off or if it just happens spontaneously as a result of how you view the people in your care, it's an enormous relief. I'm a person, and the people who're helping me with this crappy situation think i'm a person too. yay!

I apologize if that's waaaaaay TMI. However, this blog resides in a corner of the fashion web where people harbor much interest in the philosophy, sociology, theory and such of clothing and i feel this little anecdote fits right in. Let me know what you think, and feel free to contribute more questions and your answers to our "Uniforms - Right for You?" quiz!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hard Core: Taking Stock

signature look

Hi all! I've not been blogging, but have been faithfully plugging away at some serious wardrobe evaluation, taking stock and planning. For those newer readers, let me present a brief recap of my style journey in this blog. I realized in about 2009 that my childhood dream of having 'the perfect wardrobe' was not that far out of reach, given my circumstances. I began this blog as a tool to use in working towards that goal. The first year or two largely focused on finding out very specifically what shapes, materials, colors and style signifiers i loved enough to commit to and how this would work given my lifestyle and climate.  I also explored different ways of populating my wardrobe niches, and realized that i wanted to have a big focus on sewing while also cultivating some shopping resources for pieces i don't want to sew (shoes, lingerie, layering tees and tanks, coats, accessories).

I've always preferred a smaller, more edited wardrobe. Yet i also liked variety, so many of my wardrobe building strategies involved getting the maximum remixeability out of a small number of clothes (through very focused color and silhouette in every piece). I always felt a nagging tension between wanting a very strong, consistent style prescence and a stripped down closet but needing to feel i had "enough" variety.

The Beatrice Dress - Vogue Patterns 8876 by Marcy Tilton

Until about six months ago. It started with the Beatrice dress, which i love. I realized that i could wear it over and over without feeling at all deprived or bored. On the contrary, i felt satisfied and invigorated as it was exactly what i wanted to be wearing.   hmmm.

signature look showed up before i knew it was my signature look

The same thing happened with this chambray Hawthorne dress, which i've been wearing incessantly. I love the way both dresses look and they're infinitely practical as well - comfy for my legs, plenty of room to layer tees, tanks and leggings underneath as well as cardis, jackets, scarves on top. I look pulled together for any type of public activity while my outfit offers no impediment to walking, working, cleaning.....

eek! i should've matched my stripes on these leggings! ah well, a signature look nonetheless

I've been sewing fairly steadily over the last year and a half. Towards the end of last year i realized that i'd accumulated a fair number of 'perfect pieces' - items which are comfy and look great, pieces with their own integrity which i can see no way or need to change. I felt like i wanted to evaluate where all this sewing had gotten me and take stock before i kept on. I pulled all these perfect pieces and put them in the left side of my closet (the side i always go to, i don't know why!) and decided to wear at least one piece from this group every day for a month or so. I've been taking OOTD pictures as well so i can keep track of what's what.

signature look

Within the last two weeks a couple of major things happened which have led to a major style breakthrough. First, i came up with a couple of outfits that felt like perfect uniforms - signature looks i'd be thrilled to be known for, that worked for my life and expressed my Holy Grail of all i love about clothing, style, who i am.

Alabama Chanin Daisy Ezra Coat - a mere $4,775

Then the new Alabama Chanin collection came out. Sheer perfection for ME - in other words, the colors, silhouettes, style details, accessories and styling reflected my signature style to a tee. Love it all, especially the gorgeous new grey/blue colored fabric - divine casual color swoon! I took the above image from the website and have been using it as my desktop wallpaper to remind myself i'd be thrilled to wear this as a uniform daily.

signature look from a couple of years ago

These occurrences highlighted a particular outfit from a couple of years ago which kept popping up in my mind as one of my all time faves.

Even i could see where this was headed at this point, so i started searching terms like "chic uniform" & "minimalist chic" which led me to Anuschka Rees at into - mind. This woman is a flat out genius, and she's written a bible of wardrobe building articles. I was particularly thrilled to see this material on how to create a signature look and develop a wardrobe to support this look: How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe, Build a Solid Foundation of Basics, Balance Basics and Statement Pieces.

feline liminality - a cosmological constant

This last bit is crucial for me. I've always been great at coming up with outstanding looks which i love. But how to put that into action on a day to day, adequately closeted basis?  Ms. Rees' information could not be more pertinent and timely for me. I encourage every single one of you to head on over to her place and prepare for the blowing of your cranium!  With the concept of my signature look in mind it was a snap to look at my 'perfect pieces' and highlight the ones which support my signature look. Of 37 pieces, 29 fit right in to my signature look while only 8 don't - a pretty good ratio considering i wasn't consciously working towards a closet based on my signature look at all.  The signature look concept also helped me understand why some pieces i love intensely don't get much wear in successful outfits.

My next activities will be to dig into Anuschka Rees' material on spelling out my signature look and developing how that will translate into a specific wardrobe. I'm very excited about this, not only because i'm reaching a goal i've been actively working towards for a few years now, but also because it will make dressing much more fun, joyful, and less of a hassle. For decades i've struggled with any number of clothing troubles - hanging onto stuff i don't need or really want (but not knowing quite why), feeling perplexed about how much and what i actually need in order to have a smoothly functioning closet, being stymied at how and where to find even simple wardrobe basics like tanks and tees, having a truly fuzzy understanding about how to fill wardrobe holes in the most helpful way ......

Getting a handle on a lot of these 'closet unknowns' seems so refreshing. I'm so looking forward to streamlining these tasks so i can focus on the fun of running around, footloose, fancy free and feeling fine. And if you're not here yet - remember, if i can do it so can you.