31 March 2011 – Black and White and Striped All Over?

March 31st, 2011 § 16 comments §

Black and White and Striped All Over


  • Shirt: Banana Republic
  • Blazer: BR
  • Scarf: secondhand from mom
  • Belt: Anthropologie
  • Trousers: BR
  • Shoes: Cole Haan via Filene’s Basement

I can’t stop pattern mixing! I’m totally addicted. I’m a little disappointed with myself for not wearing this adorable knit herringbone blazer more often this winter, but I’ve been given another chance since it’s in the 40s and going to snow tomorrow. Like my outfit on Monday, today I mixed patterns but stayed in the same color family – granted this one is not the most daring being a completely black, white, and grey palette, but stripes, herringbone and polka-dots are a big move for me.

Stripes, Dots, Herringbone

Maybe I like this because they are all regular and geometric? But I loved the abstract floral and simple striped skirt on Monday. Hmmmm…

What’s been your most daring pattern mixing to date? What do you think is the most successful pairing?


Black and White and Striped All Over (Apparently for some reason today I was only able to look to my right while I was taking pictures. Weird.)

Category: Mixing Patterns, Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Teaching Outfits
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30 March 2011 – Mini DIY Project

March 30th, 2011 § 17 comments §

30 March 2011 - Maternity top 'After' picture


Top – Liz Lange Maternity for Target, via consignment store
Jean skirt – Liz Lange Maternity for Target, via consignment store
Cardi – very old H&M
Brooch – vintage, via consignment store
Tights – TJMaxx
Yellow shoes – Gianni Bini
Scarf – Vintage Threadz on Etsy


This skirt and top are two more finds from my maternity shopping spree with E. The best part of going maternity clothes shopping with E.? She has such a great eye for the potential in items. I found this teal top and instantly liked its color and drapeyness, but once on, the drapeyness was a little too much and it felt a little long and frumpy…

Maternity top 'Before' picture

But E. suggested two ways in which this could be quickly and easily remedied. One way would be to add ruching to the sides of the fabric (see a simple tutorial here), gathering it with that puckered effect symptomatic of many a maternity shirt. I loved that solution for keeping the top structured while allowing for extra belly fabric, but didn’t think that my remedial sewing skills could produce it. So I went with the second – and easier option – which was to add an elastic band along the bottom seam bringing the fabric in that way.

Shirt hem DIY

This was a very quick and effortless project that only cost me a couple of dollars in elastic and a few minutes in DIY time. I used a seam ripper to cut an opening into that bottom seam and ran the elastic all the way through. Once I had the elastic in, I tried the top on to see how wide I needed my elastic to be to fit comfortably around my hips. I pinned the ends in place with a safety pin while I had the shirt still on, then sewed them together, cut the excess elastic off, and stitched the shirt seam back up. And voila! The new and improved version…

30 March 2011

For comparison purposes, here is the top once more with the ‘Before’ and ‘After pictures…

Maternity top 'Before' picture 30 March 2011
Maternity top 'Before' picture 23 weeks preggers

I much prefer this more nipped in and tailored version, as it hugs the belly while still being loose and comfortable but without looking shapeless and frumpy. It’s such a minor change but still one that makes such a difference. Thanks, E., for a great idea! Being able to see the potential in items makes shopping for a maternity wardrobe (or any wardrobe) much easier, especially when scouring thrift stores and consignment shops. The selection may not always be as great as in a retail store but the pricer are much better and the possibilities after altering something to suit your shape and aesthetic make the find all the more rewarding, don’t you think?  S.

Category: Beltless, Independent Study (DIY), Maternity Style, Proportionally, Skirting the Issue, Taking Notes
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29 March 2011 – Then I Realized

March 29th, 2011 § 14 comments §

29 March 2011 – Then I Realized, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Coat: Banana Republic Factory
  • Dress: Baja, via Beacon’s Closet
  • Tights: Target
  • Flats: Banana Republic

End Notes:

I actually wore this exact outfit, plus my new big green bag, when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago. To be precise, I wore this on March 17. While in midtown. Apparently, my head was so engaged in archival research that I neglected to realize that March 17 was St. Patrick’s Day and, well, let’s just say I was far from the only person wearing green and orange when I emerged from the subway on 5th Ave and 53rd. I received a lot of compliments on my outfit while wending my way towards the Museum of Modern Art, though, along with quite a few high fives from undergrads.

Angie, from You Look Fab, once posted about occasionally “surrendering the waistline”, that is, eschewing a nipped midsection in favor of purposefully drapey, flowy, or boxy silhouettes. One of my personal style goals for this pregnancy is to not become overly dependent on belting (at least until the end :), but to continue experimenting with silhouettes, even ones that are outside of my usual repertoire. I was tempted to belt this dress over the bump, but in the end I decided to be okay with letting the coat provide a hint of structure while I went waistless underneath. (I think this will be such a fun, mod dress post-preggers, though. Don’t you?)

Finally, my shoes. I love these embellished ballet flats, and every time I where them, I tell my husband that I feel like I have stars on my toes. I used to be so afraid of stud embellishments — probably because of bad seventh grade memories that involved a Bedazzler — but here I love them and they’re proving to be a great everyday flat.

So…happy belated St. Patrick’s Day, all. And here’s to you, New York, for letting me and my color seem at home for one day.

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Layers Upon Layers, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Research Casual
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28 March 2011 – Matchy-Matchy

March 28th, 2011 § 17 comments §

Patterns and Stripes


  • Shirt: Banana Republic Factory
  • Skirt: ???? via London Fashion Weekend
  • Belt: Old Navy
  • Shoes: Bandolino via DSW
  • Necklace: gift

Speaking of pattern mixing, does this count for abstract and stripes? I bought this shirt over the winter but haven’t had a chance to wear it yet, so I was excited that this outfit came together. I was about to start this post by saying that I was ‘sorry’ this outfit is so matchy-matchy, but then I stopped myself because I’m not sorry. I grew up with the mandate that clothes had to match pretty perfectly, and I distinctly remember that most of my middle school wardrobe consisted of easily interchangeable black, white and grey skirts and tops primarily from The Limited and Express. I suppose I learned these basic mixing skills from my mother, and I (a pretty type A organized person) agonized over shades being the same and had strict rules for myself about what colors went with other colors. These guidelines carried through high school and college and for the last six years for the most part, and honestly it wasn’t until I started blogging that I began to mess with these “inviolable” rules.

Patterns and Stripes side

I wasn’t kidding when I said that wearing that orange shirt had rocked my world or that pairing navy blue and black revolutionized my sartorial universe, and while I appreciate that this venue has made me push my own boundaries, I still love when things match or when one color is picked up in my accessories or carried through multiple elements of the same ensemble.

Patterns and Stripes close up

I am uncomfortable when sea foam green finds itself next to moss green, bubble gum pink and fuchsia bother me when they abut. For me the exciting part of this outfit was both that the hot pink of the shirt happened to be nearly spot on with the hot pink of the skirt AND that I was mixing a pretty busy pattern on top with a minimalist stripe in the skirt. It’s funny to think about how many dressing rules we hold on to from a very early age and how those now outdated rules still affect our sartorial choices. What guidelines to do you still cling to?


Category: Color Combinations, Mixing Patterns, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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28 March 2011 – ‘Built-ins’

March 28th, 2011 § 14 comments §

28 March 2011


Coat – Merona, via consignment store
Maternity dress – Motherhood, via consignment store
Belt – thrifted
Red-orange necklace – thrifted
Red bracelet – H&M years ago
Red tights – TJMaxx
Loafers – Michael Kors, thrifted
Red earrings – Welt Laden in Salzburg, Austria

Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports


I’m becoming increasingly drawn to navy as a favorite neutral. I particularly like how it works with reds and browns. This navy shirtdress was one of my finds during a shopping spree with E. over my last visit to academichic central. E. took me to her favorite maternity consignment store and we had a blast perusing their maternity outfits while swapping pregnancy stories. At the time, I had just started to feel my baby move and I remember how delighted I felt to have E. (a second-time mom) confirm that those pops really were the baby.

That day, we came away with a few good maternity finds. Among which was this stretchy navy shirt dress that came with those built-in belt straps that are sometimes more nuisance than help. E. also found a gorgeous dress that day, which also came with built-in straps, and she recorded how she made those work here. I decided to take the plunge and remove them altogether.

Removing the belt straps Removing the belt straps

You can see how the dress looks with the navy built-in straps in comparison to it being worn with a different, contrasting belt. I think I much prefer the latter, which breaks up the vast amount of solid fabric and gives the eye a focal point. So I knew I wouldn’t miss the navy straps, since I was likely to never wear it ‘as is’…

>With built-in belt Navy and Red

Sometimes built-in belts works wonderfully and A. even did a demonstration of how you can use them to tie in a cardigan or outside layer. But I think that for the built-in straps to work well, they have to be of a more substantial width. The thin ‘shoestring’ kind just don’t seem to do it for me. What do you do with the built-in belts, do you keep them or cut them?


23 Weeks Preggers :) Polkadot lining

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Layers Upon Layers, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Taking Notes, Teaching Outfits
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Weekend Workshop: Pattern Mixing

March 26th, 2011 § 11 comments §

For whatever reason the phrase “pattern mixing” still prompts me (E.) to break into a little bit of a nervous sweat. I think that somewhere along the way I built up pattern mixing into this highly calculated and unattainable level of style to which I, as a humble machine washable peon, did not have access to. Catalogue images from Anthropologie were overwhelming rather than inspiring and even with Stacy and Clinton’s “What Not to Wear” rules of remaining within a color family or doing bold+subtle patterns, I just…balked.

Pattern Mixing

I think pattern mixing is, finally, one of those things that I’ve grown into as I’ve become more confident in my own style and sense of self. Even though playing with pattern is not my initial style impulse, I’ve increasingly found pattern to be a good way of kicking me out of a wardrobe rut or injecting my somewhat staid daily outfits with a little bit more fun.

All four of us chics have mixed patterns in our daily outfits, but what I found interesting as I looked through our archive of “Mixing Patterns” is that we each have our own preferred approach to doing so. Each approach has a different end effect, but perhaps you’ll find inspiration for whatever degree of pattern craziness you prefer.


23 November 2010

When A. mixes patterns (and she really does so quite a bit), she tends to play with classic prints in a subtle color palette. Argyle and a tiny floral in neutral tones. Pinstripes and florals that both share a black background.

Pattern MixingBlazers, Florals, Belts

On the other hand, A. has also done some monochromatic color mixing in punchier colors, too!

pink pattern on pink pattern! Pattern on Pattern on Pattern



Much of L.’s pattern mixing comes from using a bolder patterned accessory in addition to a more subtly patterned garment. The result is a lovely initial “ooh” when you see her bold pattern, followed by an extended “ahhh” when you realize that there are other visually interesting elements at play as well. She paired pinstriped trousers with a patterned flat, for example, or a patterned sweater with a multicolor scarf, or graphic black and white dress with a patchwork bag.

2011 Academichic - Grellow

2010 Academichic - White Shoes Pattern and Lola Jeans


Nomi Tote

I think that A., L., and I are all somewhat still in awe of how S. embraces a range of bold patterns and then mixes them with other prints! While she frequently and effortlessly mixes more subtle stripes and polkadots with an array of other prints, she has also mixed stripes with stripes, florals with stripes, landscape prints with stripes, florals with abstractions, and geometric upon geometric.

19 March 2009 Pattern mixing
17 December 2009 Silk scarf
Pattern mix Subtle pattern mix
Pattern Mix 20 January 2010

Pattern Mix

(S.’s teaching moment on pattern mixing with a cardigan is definitely worth a read if you’d like to see various iterations of a pattern mixed outfit.)


24 March 2011 - Spot the Flower

I don’t think that I have a definitive style of pattern mixing per se, but I have noticed that my general approach is to imagine that the patterned pieces are solid colors. I create color pairings first, before thinking too hard about pattern. This helps me get over my initial uneasiness and has frequently paid off. Using this mentality, I’ve turned classic pairings like navy and red or black, white, and red into geometric on geometric or stripes and lace pattern mixes. Or, of course a white tank top would go with a mustard, brown, and white patterned skirt…even if said white tank top also has navy stripes.

25 February 2010 Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

Matriarch Skirt

This has also been the means of adding interest to otherwise monochrome black and white outfits. Stripes and tweed have a graphic punch together, while stripes and tone-on-tone damask is more subtle.

3 November 2010 - A Little Craycray 29 September 2010 - Black and White Week, Day 3


We’re not the craziest pattern mixers out there, but we have each found ways to use pattern play in ways that simultaneously suits and pushes our individual tastes. While rules about how to mix patterns can be useful, I’ve found it even more helpful to think broadly about what drives my personal style and then work patterns of various stripes (and florals and graphics) into that. Now, pattern mixing need not be an daunting style goal that I strive for just for the sake of achieving. Instead, I’m understanding it as a tool that I can use to add another level of interest to my own existing style.

Category: Mixing Patterns, Taking Notes

25 March 2011 – Dear Winter, I’m Ignoring You

March 25th, 2011 § 9 comments §

25 March 2011 – Dear Winter, I’m Ignoring You, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Tunic: Tucker for Target
  • Belt: Gap Outlet
  • Skirt: Anthropologie
  • Leggings: Gap
  • Wellies: Banana Republic

End Notes:

This wasn’t quite how I envisioned this outfit going. I was thinking bare legs and cognac boots, maybe tights and sandals if things went just right. But, alas, I woke up to snow this morning and so it was thick leggings and two-tone wellies in deference to winter’s lingering hold.

And this is how I feel about that:

For whatever reason, in the mirror I wasn’t getting so much of an angled, shirt tail hem with the tunic, and I’m not sure if I like it that much over the full but stiff-ish skirt below. But, I of course love the color pairing, and I can definitely imagine revising this outfit with the skirt over the tunic. That will have to wait, however, until I have a little less going on in front.

(Contrary to what yesterday’s photos suggest, the belly is still here.)

There’s something about patterned garments that make me feel emboldened to take more style risks over all, whether in proportions or color pairings or pattern mixing. So while I might not be in love with this remix overall, I have to admit that I’m proud of myself for wearing this tunic in three significantly different ways this week. And, to reader Sara, I believe that you’ll see this with my floaty white skirt in the near future…

25 March 2011 - Dear Winter, I'm Ignoring You 23 March 2011 - For Play 23 March 2011 - For Work

P.S. Did you see Tania and Kelsey offer up even more remixes a couple of days ago?

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue
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24 March 2011 – Spot the Flower

March 24th, 2011 § 15 comments §

24 March 2011 – Spot the Flower, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Cardigan: Gap
  • Tank: Target
  • Skirt: Anthropologie, via eBay
  • Tights: Banana Republic Factory
  • Shoes: Steve Madden, via DSW

End Notes:

Don’t strain yourself looking for florals in today’s outfit. When the weather turned cold and cloudy — after several days of beautiful sunshine — I had to scrap my original floral print-based outfit in favor of some warmer elements. (In this, I must salute L., who’s proudly wearing flowers despite the dusting of snow in her part of the country!)

But, I am mixing stripes, so that has to count for something, right?

I just won this cozy Anthropologie sweater skirt off of eBay last week for only $15. I initially thought that I would have to wait until post-partum and cooler fall temperatures to wear it, but turns out it can sit just fine above my bump (at least for a little while longer!) and the idea of wearing a sweater on my bottom half was just too delicious to resist. I added my Where’s Waldo horizontal stripes up top, then wrapped everything together with a turquoise cardigan and a flower earring-turned-brooch.

Detail, originally uploaded by academichic.

Admittedly, there’s a lot going on here and I suspect that in photographs all these stripes may have me looking slightly more like an extra for Alice in Wonderland than I do in person. But, I find that outfits like these — that push my usual instincts about pattern out the door — are frequently a lot more fun to wear and get me to see my closet in a new way.

Plus, no belt today. Can I get a kudos?

24 March 2011 – Spot the Flower, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Mixing Patterns, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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24 March 2011 – Flowers

March 24th, 2011 § 10 comments §

24 March 2011 - Flowers


  • Sweater: Banana Republic
  • Tunic: French Connection
  • Belt: BR
  • Skinnies: BR
  • Shoes: Frye

Can you tell how pleased I am with this outfit? For our first day back in classes I decided that despite the dusting of snow we got last night it is most definitely spring and therefore I will break out the florals! Of course, while this shirt has a pretty tropical motif, in reality it is still in the 30s and the sweater was a necessity rather than a choice.

{Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Hitentaisei Rikon (Li Gun: Chinese name) from the Shuihu zhuan, 1827-30}

This tunic is another birthday purchase from my sister (thank you C.!) and I fell in love with the bright florals, which seemed vaguely reminiscent of Japanese prints. (Thanks to reader Alison for the correction! This is a Japanese print of a Chinese story, not a Chinese print as I had earlier written. Alison says that “this is a classic example of the Japanese ukiyo-e style.”)

I didn’t even realize it at the time, but my new flower belt from BR is a perfect match! I really wanted more of this shirt to show, so I pulled my sweater to the sides. This also created a more pronounced hourglass shape with the belt pulling it all in at the waist. How do you fool the eye to accentuate different body parts?

24 March 2011 - Flowers


Category: Mixing Patterns, Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Proportionally, Teaching Outfits
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23 March 2011 – For Work and For Play

March 23rd, 2011 § 18 comments §

23 March 2011 – For Play, originally uploaded by academichic.

23 March 2011 – For Work, originally uploaded by academichic.


In both:

  • Dress/tunic: Tucker for Target
  • Riding pants: Target

For play:

  • Belt: Gap Outlet
  • Scarf: Target, gift from mother-in-law
  • Bag: Banana Republic, gift from mother-in-law
  • Riding pants: Target
  • Shoes: DSW

For work:

  • Tank: Target
  • Belt: thrifted
  • Shoes: Steve Madden

End Notes:

I, too, succumbed to the siren call that is this magenta Tucker for Target posy frock, among the dresses reissued a week and a half ago. I really think that approximately one-fifth of the style blogging world owns this dress now…but that’s all the more reason to remix it, right?

I’m uncertain how many precious inches of skirt length my pregnancy curves are taking up right now, but it’s quite possible that I will never quite manage to wear this as a “dress,” per se. Still, the bright colors, delightful print, easy shape, and full button up front make this a great piece to wear through pregnancy and into a post-partum fall, even though it may only ever exist as a tunic in my book.

Over the weekend, N., little e., my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I all biked to a historic Italian neighborhood and spent the morning sampling bakery goods and poking our heads into cooking and soap shops. For our excursion, I chose warming pieces — a thin cardigan and scarf — that could easily be stripped off for biking and then put back on for meandering. These wallabee wedges provided a comfortable and sturdy base, and my new spacious green bag (thanks, mom-in-law!) carried the usual wallet, phone, and keys, plus little e.’s diaper changing paraphernalia, snacks, cup, and spare owl. (Yes, we keep a spare owl blanket around for little e.) The best thing is that I got to wear most of my favorite colors ALL AT ONCE. Whee!

I liked the color pairing of this top with the olive riding pants, so I decided to tweak things a bit to make it more appropriate for a teaching day. A navy tank served as a “vest” and I punched up the colors even more with turquoise suede pumps. In case you haven’t noticed, I sorely missed my colored pumps during the colder months and I’m so happy to have them back in outfit rotation.

I’m betting this tunic will make one more appearance during my self-imposed week of florals, and I welcome remixing or color palette suggestions. I’m thinking I could perhaps tuck it into a full skirt and have it serve as a blouse?

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Teaching Outfits, Weekend Wear
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