To Chop or Not to Chop

July 28th, 2011 § 8 comments §

Plaid Skirt made from Dress



  • Skirt – chopped by me from thirfted dress
  • Blouse – Gap
  • Shoes – Kenneth Cole Reaction


  • Skirt – swapped dress chopped by me
  • Tank – J Crew
  • Belt – Old Navy
  • Necklace – gift from A2
  • Shoes – Banana Republic


I hope you don’t mind, but I decided to squeeze in one more post before my Top Ten/Goodbye post.  I wanted to fit this in because it answered some of the questions you all asked and because I’m kind of proud of my very minimal (but improving) DIY clothing skills (DIY house skills are another story).

As many of you noticed, I have chopped many a dresses into skirts. I’ve also worn a few dresses as skirts by layering a top over them.  So, how do I decided to chop something vs. leave it as a dress but layer over it?  Well I won’t chop it if I can see myself wearing it as a dress, even if that means always with a cardigan over it.  If the proportions of the garment as a dress work for me, I leave it as a dress.  Most of the dresses I have chopped into skirts had proportions that just didn’t work right for me. In the case of my full blue skirt and my white and black floral skirt, as dresses they had empire waists and were a little too short on me.  Chopping off the tops allowed me to lower the waist line and the hemline with minimal effort. In the case of my powder-blue midi skirt, it was an over-all unflattering fit with a smocked top and a skinny halter top, so I just chopped the very top off and use the smocking as anew fold-over waist band.  For the skirt above, I thrifted the dress very cheaply and while I thought it would work as a dress, I didn’t love the silhouette one I wore it out. So, I chopped the top off and left the elastic waist which now sits a bit lower (at my natural waist). 

Black dress chopped to skirt

With each of these, I simply took out a pair of scissors and chopped just above the original waist line.  The seem or elastic has then served as my we waist line, which sits where I want it to.  I left the tops unsewn – in part because I knew I would always wear a belt with the and in part because I had no idea how to even start finishing off the edges.I think this solution is a perfect one, and I’ll likely keep chopping old dresses or newly thrifted ones to make them work better in my wardrobe.

Plaid Skirt made from Dress

However, simply chopping and belting won’t work for every garment, so it was time to give the sewing machine a whirl!

Black dress chopped to skirt

I received  sewing machine for Christmas this past year (very much inspired by E. and all the other crafty blogers out there).  E. generously gave me a tutorial and even started me on my own tank-dress with pockets.  But then life got busy and we haven’t finished our lessons or my tank-dress. So, I decided I needed to just experimiment.  With the help of A2 I’ve started playing around and even managed to make baby e. (E.’s son) and little gift for his birthday. It was time to try the oh so intimidating clothing sew!  I grabbed a black sun dress from a clothing swap even though it was about 3 sizes too big for me not a style I could see myself wearing – it had potential.  This free item that I definitely wasn’t wearing as is, seemed like the perfect candidate for an experiment. I decided to turn it into a full black skirt.  I started by chopping off the top, but that left me with a skirt that was very a-line, didn’t fit my waist, and was several inches too long.  It had to be sewn!  So, I pulled out my limited sewing supplies (notice I used a permenent marker instead of a fabric pen/chalk) and measured an existing full skirt to figure out my length.  Since the bottom had a nice hem on it and the top needed to be changed in some way anyway, I took the length off by chopping more from the top.  This of course left me with an even bigger waist.
tank + chopped dresssupplies

But, this also meant I could make the skirt fuller.  So, I turned to E.’s tank-dress tutorial again and loosely followed her directions for gathering the skir and attaching a tank to it. Since I didn’t want this to be a a tank dress, I used an old tank that I don’t wear and choped it’s bottom off.  I used the bottom hem of the tank as the top of my new stretchy waistband

new waist band

Not the best sewing job, but good practice.  And, let’s be honest, I’m still always going to wear a belt with it!

I hope this has encouraged you to take a few risks and pull out you scissors one in awhile when that dress just isn’t working anymore!


Black dress chopped to skirt

Category: Independent Study (DIY), Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Weekend Wear
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14 July 2011 – Almost there

July 14th, 2011 § 39 comments §

Summer time


Tee – maternity shirt from Target
Skirt – thrifted
Sandals – AE years ago
Necklaces – two thrifted ones worn intertwined


Well, dear readers, it’s getting close. I’m almost 39 weeks now and expecting the arrival of my little one any day now. These days I’ve outgrown even most of my maternity clothes and am living in a few select tops and my super comfortable hippie skirts. Although I’m wary of spending money on anything new, I did stop by the local thrift store and was excited to come across this green and fuchsia paisley skirt. It’s not a maternity item (most of my clothing weren’t actually maternity, but just things bought a size or two up) but it’s the right size and it has a nice wide elastic waist panel, which makes it perfect for wearing under my belly.

I know that everyone is different when it comes to the waistband question during pregnancy. Some women really like the snug feel of the ‘full panel‘, which comes up and over your belly. I discovered that I hate the feel of anything clinging to my belly and have worn all my maternity items rolled under to fit underneath the ‘bump’. This has made it easy enough to convert non-maternity items into matenity items: I just shopped for things with an elastic waist or drawstring waist that fit snuggly enough over my hips and could sit rolled under my belly.

Which camp do you/did you fall into? The full panel or the low rise?

Cycling with Baby

These days, I’m trying to get all those last minute things ready before baby comes. Last edits on my dissertation chapter, final touches on a birth plan, last must-do’s around the house… so you may be seeing less of me as I use my coming days (hopefully, not weeks) to take care of odds and ends and prepare for the little one’s arrival.

And yes, I’m still riding my bike in moderation. It’s been really nice to continue with a routine of prenatal yoga, cycling, and swimming until the end. If you want to read more about cycling (and excercising) while pregnant, you can find my entries on that topic here.

And in case we don’t ‘see’ each other before the birth, wish me luck!

Category: Beltless, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Skirting the Issue, Vélocouture
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4 July 2011 – Hippie Mama

July 4th, 2011 § 10 comments §

 Hippie Mama


Tank – Target Maternity
Skirt – free from clothing swap
Bangles – thrifted at various times
Necklace & Earrings – gifts


Happy 4th of July to our American readers!

This is what I wore to a ’4th of July party’ on the 2nd of July, the day that our founding fathers voted on the motion for independence. Our friends held a little backyard party and I pulled out my ‘hippie mama’ look for the occasion (not that hippie mama and independence day have any corelation).

I love the hippie mama look on pregnant women because it just looks so comfortable and relaxed and I love it on myself because it feels so comfortable and relaxed. E. has rocked this particular look while pregnant and it’s becoming my favorite way to dress up these days as my style choices are becoming increasingly limited.

 Hippie Mama 6 May 2011 - Drive 13 June 2011 - Crossed Buns 21 May 2009 - Hippie Mama

E. worked the hippie mama look with the use of maxi dresses, weather on their own or layered underneath or over other garments. I don’t have any stretchy long dresses but I do have this fabulous printed skirt that I scored at a clothing swap last fall.

36 week belly

I paired it with a teal maternity tank to pull out the blues in the pattern and added a variety of orange, red, and teal bangles to compliment to overall color scheme.

Have you embraced the boho-hippie aesthetic? And why is it that it’s so much easier to create this kind of look in the summer than in the winter? Do you have any tips for pulling off a cold-weather version of this kind of style? Please share your tips in the comments!


Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Research Casual, Weekend Wear
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One More DYB Post, Three More Bests

July 2nd, 2011 § 8 comments §

One More DYB Post, Three More Bests


  • Tank – Banana Republic
  • Skirt – Gap
  • Necklace – Limited
  • Shoes – Banana Republic
  • Bangles – Gifts from S.
  • Earrings – Island Souvenir


I’m making this my last official DYB post, though I do plan to continue to think about my body in these terms and to periodically reflect on what I love about my own body.  So, since I only managed three posts before this, I needed to highlight two more of my five body parts and ended up picking three: my height, my muscular chest and shoulders, my eyes.

First, this outfit is all about the height.  I’m tall.  I’m 5’9 when standing in my bare (very flat) feet.  I’ve been this tall since 7th grade.  Over the past 15 + years  I’ve mostly loved my height.  I get it from my dad, it means I have long legs, I can reach most things others can’t.  I have many positive  height-related memories.  I was the second tallest student when I graduated 8th grade (second to another girl) which meant I got to bring up the back of the processional line.  As a lanky 13 year old, I thought that was pretty cool.

As an adult, I continue to be proud of my height and never shy away from fairly high heels (my love of flats is about comfort, not my own height).  When I saw this super high (4″) wedges on sale I had to have them.  I love them! But, the first time I wore them out about a month ago, I suddenly felt super self-conscious.  I was taller then everyone I was with (men and women) by quite a bit and several people noted it.  And, I got teased!  And, it stung!  I’m not sure why I bothered me, but it did.  I found myself slouching or leaning against walls and bars to appear shorter.  It kind of ruined my night.  Thinking about it a few days later, I felt silly for letting it bother me and vowed to wear my heels with pride!

I’m also celebrating my muscular chest and shoulders.  I love the way this tank top highlights both my shoulders and my the upper part of my chest.  I’ve talked about liking my very pronounced collar bone before, but the other day a friend pointed out that I have well defined, tight pectoral muscles. Hmm, who knew?  Well, now I can’t stop noticing them and I kind of love.  Random, I know.

Finally, I’m celebrating my eyes.  Since cutting my hair, I’ve been getting more and more compliments on my eyes.  I love the color of my eyes, which changes from slate, to sky blue, to turquoise depending on what I’m wearing, and I love my long thick lashes.

So, there you have it my list of 5 + a bonus: body shape, hair, hands, height, shoulders/pecs, and eyes.

I hope that all of you who have participated in DYB 2011 have found the experience as rewarding as I have.  Remember, it’s not too late to participate.  Right now, sit back and close your eyes and list 5 things about your body that you love.  Your list can be body parts, facial features, aspects of your build, skin or hair coloring.  Your list could recall conventional beauty, personal stories, or be totally random.  Just, please take the time to make the list for you!



One More DYB Post, Three More Bests

Category: Dress Your Best, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Weekend Wear
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29 June 2011 – I Like the Way They Move

June 29th, 2011 § 10 comments §

Bike Date


  • Top: Forever 21
  • Shorts: maternity consignment store
  • Tank: Old Navy (tall size)
  • Necklace: Tilly Bloom
  • Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell (I’m not tired of them yet…)
  • Bikes: “Oliver,” a 2010 Raleigh One Way (for N.) and “Sammy,” a 1986 Schwinn Le Tour Mixte (for E.)

End Notes:

Over the weekend N. and I had the delightful gift of free babysitting (thanks, sister-in-law P.!) and the chance to go on a bike date picnic in a nearby park to watch the fireflies. (I’ll be sharing more about the date itself on S.’s bike blog in the near future.) It was a beautiful night and also a great reminder to me of why I should celebrate my legs during this year’s Dress Your Best.

My legs have always been “there” and I’ve rarely been that impressed with either their aesthetics or their extraordinary functionality. Unlike A., S., and L., I’m not a marathoner or a serious runner. I can’t say that my legs have carried me tremendous distances or that they’ve overcome great adversity. They’re kind of pale and kind of…normal.

Legs that Go

But, since beginning biking last year, my legs have acquired greater value in my mind. It’s not because of their athletic prowess — because honestly I don’t really ride that far or that fast — but simply because they have allowed me to participate in an activity that my husband loves and that I, in turn, have come to really enjoy. My legs have taken me on many a bike date exploration of our city with N., with little e., and with visiting friends and relatives. It’s become our “thing” that we do…together. We bike to our respective jobs, to church, to the grocery store, to friends’ homes. And when I pulled out little e.’s trailer and hitched him up to my bike for a library run, all on my own accord, I think husband N. almost burst with pride.

So thanks, legs, for giving me the ability to spend a special kind of quality time with my family. You may not be hardcore or super long or super toned or super anything, but you’ve given me a great gift. And I’m celebrating you by wearing short shorts.

Bike Date


Category: Dress Your Best, Maternity Style, Night Without Grading, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, The Short of It, Vélocouture
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28 June 2011 – Hello There

June 28th, 2011 § 16 comments §

28 June 2011 - Hello There


T-shirt: Forever 21
Necklace: gift from husband
Skirt: test run from Megan Nielsen of an upcoming pattern for DIY Maternity!
Wedges: Naturalizer, via DSW

End Notes:

Today I’m celebrating a body part towards which I was quite ambivalent for many years: my butt, my tush, my rear, my okole. When I was a bony freshman in college, I realized that my jeans didn’t really fit the way that my hallmates’ did. Maybe it’s because I didn’t wear pants often enough as a teenager in Hawaii, but once I was on the mainland I suddenly became very self-conscious about my lack of a butt. I used to joke that I didn’t really have a butt per se, just an expanse of upper thigh.

Now, Internet, I’m letting you know that I have a butt.

28 June 2011 - Hello There

Somewhere through the past ten years of gaining weight, getting older, running a little, starting to bike, and doing endless squats to pick up little e…I got a butt. I haven’t thought a whole lot about if it’s “cute” or “shapely” or “mom-ish” or any of those things. But I do know that I love the way it looks in a pencil skirt with a good pair of wedges.

Gaining an okole — and being okay with it — as I’ve grown older has been a good reminder of how our bodies are not static. There is not some ideal form that we pass through from ages 18-24 to which we should continually aspire. Do I like every change my body has undergone in the last ten years? Not really. But I’m learning to be more graceful in accepting these shifts, acknowledging how my embodied experiences leave corporeal traces and how those traces can themselves change what I value and why.

28 June 2011 - Hello There

28 June 2011 - Hello There

P.S. In less than two years, I’ll probably really regret tying my shirt like this. But all the cool kids are doing it now and it gave me the silhouette I wanted for this outfit. I’m such a sucker for a good silhouette.


Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Maternity Style, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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Dress Your Best: Taking a Wholistic Approach

June 27th, 2011 § 15 comments §

Dress Your Best Week



Dress – Banana Republic Outlet (pre-pregnancy worn here)
Tank – Maternity, Target
Sandals – Target
Necklace – AE, years and years ago
Bag – Dots, bought in high school
Wooden bangle – thrifted


In my last post, I embraced my pregnant belly as my ‘Best’ for Dress Your Best Week. But as I was trying to come up with my other ‘Bests’, I realized that I have to take a more wholistic approach this time around. Last year, when we picked our top five things to celebrate, I remember naming things like my legs, my hair, and my smallish chest. This time, those same aspects of myself have been distorted and changed by pregnancy.

My legs, which I loved for being shapely as well as toned and powerful from many miles of running, are still strong but no longer resemble the legs they used to be. I’ve gotten cellulite where there was none, they’ve been retaining water and looking and feeling puffy, and they no longer even accept the thought of being squeezed into heels. It’s all flats, all comfort these days.

My hair, which I always loved for being full and curly, is still full and curly but is now betraying me in that it’s gotten increasingly grey and I’m powerless to hide that. I started getting grey hair a few years ago and have consistently colored it as a way to hide that. Since being pregnant, I decided to skip the chemicals in hair dye and wait the nine months before getting another dye job. As those pesky wirey white hairs spring up all around my temples and forehead, I feel like I’m increasingly made to look older and more weathered than I am.

And, alas, that smallish chest that allowed me to easily fit into any top and not think twice about going on a run. Yeah…those changed about two months into the pregnancy and will likely continue to change (read: grow) as time goes on. Sigh.

Floral Dress Detail

I’ll spare you the laundry list of everything else that’s changed and will cut to the chase; perhaps this is what happens when you get older. Perhaps this is what happens to all women, regardless of whether you’re going through pregnancy or your body is just changing with the passing of time. Hopefully, as this happens, you realize that it’s not about pin-pointing that ‘perfect’ feature of your body but rather about embracing the whole and what it does for you. So I’m taking a much more wholistic approach here and celebrating my body in its entirety.

This same body that gives me a million and one reasons to feel frustrated also gives me just as many reasons to be happy and grateful. It’s been carrying my baby to almost full term now (and having had several friends for whom this has been a problem, I know not to take that for granted). It’s still propelling me forward on my bike, on walks, at yoga class, and in the pool. It’s healthy and resiliant and this, too, I know to value. And while it’s changing in many ways, in just as many ways, it’s still me. It’s still the same body that ran a marathon, that used to have a waistline, and that once long ago thought grey hairs and cellulite a thing of motherhood and adulthood. Well, here I am, on the threshhold of motherhood and certainly with both feet into adult life, so I might as well embrace all aspects of this stage. As my yoga instructor has us say at the end of each class, I bow down to the divine within me and I celebrate this body for all that it is.

Dress Your Best Week

Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally
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Dressing My Best…Differently

June 25th, 2011 § 8 comments §

24 June 2011 - Dressing my Best...Differently


  • Striped Tee – American Eagle
  • Black Ponte Pants – Ann Taylor
  • Studded Flats – Banana Republic
  • Necklace – gift from sister L.
  • Earrings – gift from S.
  • Bangles – gifts


For my first DYB contribution I celebrate my figure, my body shape.  I proudly dressed my wide hips, broad shoulders, and tiny waist.   However, after writing that post, I started to think about my laments about the J Crew models and the straight-line silhouette I couldn’t pull off.  And I remembered, this project is about celebrating the body you have. So, here you go, I might not look like Audry Hepburn, but I’ll be damned if that’s going to stop me from borrowing her silhouette!

24 June 2011 - Dressing my Best...Differently

I love belts and any other clothing trick that shows everyone that my waist is smaller than my butt/hips region.  But, I also like all-over stripes and stripes just can’t always be belted.  I think sometimes I convince myself I am celebrating my waist when really I am desperately trying to mitigate and hide my hips/butt/thighs.  I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with using clothes to accentuate your best and in the process down play your “problem spots” and I will likely be back to belting tomorrow.  But, for today I am going belt-free and dressing my best differently.

24 June 2011 - Dressing my Best...Differently

I also want to give a shout-out to my hair.  As I’ve written before, a good hair-day can make my day and a compliment on my hair will make you my new best friend.  I put a fair amount of effort into my hair and if I get a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror, I’ll check my hair (rather than makeup, shifted necklines, etc).  I’ve been loving my new haircut, but it is much less predictable than my straight bob.  I have very little control over what it does.  So, today I am cerebrating a good hair-day that I couldn’t recreate if I spent all morning trying.  (Don’t you think it looks a bid edgier than usual?)  A.


Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Proportionally, Research Casual
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23 June 2011 – Dressing My Best

June 23rd, 2011 § 9 comments §

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best


  • Button-down – swapped
  • Belt – gift from Mom (Anthropologie)
  • Skirt – J Crew
  • Tank – Banana Republic
  • Flats – DSW
  • Earrings – Gift from S.


As I said, after my yoga mat body scan, I had a list of things I love about my body, both big and small.  An intimate, funny, hopeful, and reflective list that I will try to remember to keep mentally close to me.  A list I am here publicly vowing to recreate whenever I’m not feeling my best.  While I won’t be sharing the whole (very personal) list with you, I am planning on highlighting some of the parts from that list.  But, for my first DYB contribution, I want to celebrate my body shape as a whole.

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best

As my proportions silhouette reveals, I have a small waist, wide hips, a big butt and thighs, and broad shoulders.  I am an hour glass.   While this is indeed a “classic” silhouette and does fit many Western ideals of beauty, it is not currently a very popular body-type.  By that, I mean you won’t find too many hourglasses in the pages of J Crew.  Most contemporary clothing is made for a straighter line.  So, more vintage or classic silhouettes often look great on me. Yet, there are all sorts of rules out there for my body type that don’t match up with these looks.  Because of my broad shoulders, I’m not supposed to wear puffed sleeves.  A larger bottom half should not be clothed in white.  Full hipped women aren’t supposed to wear fabrics that stick out from the body. I’m sure there are others!  Well nothing about me is straight (pun intended) and I’m not all that great with rules, so…

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best

I’m wearing puffed sleeves and a skirt that is full, white, and made of crisp stiff cotton and I am loving the way my body looks – broad shoulders, wide hips, small waist and all!

What body shape rules do you break?

[This is my fourth blue and white striped outfit -- three more coming!]

Category: Dress Your Best, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Skirting the Issue
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23 June 2011 – Dressing My Best

June 23rd, 2011 § 13 comments §

Baby Shower Outfit at 34 weeks


Dress – thrifted
Earrings – made by me
Yellow flats – Target last summer

Maxi skirt – AE
Tank – Maternity, Target


For this take on Dress Your Best I am highlighting a body part that I would have never considered ‘my best’ in the past. In fact, I have written before about how my torso and midsection is what I tend to camouflage or visually alter through clever use of waistlines and belting. I do not have a naturally slender waistline and I spent many years feeling self-conscious about my midsection. But now that area has taken on new meaning as it’s been growing and housing a baby.

While dressing a pregnant body is not always as fun and ‘cute’ as the media and pop culture make it seem, it does offer a new way to approach getting dressed. Yes, clothes may not fit and finding something to wear may be somewhat of a challenge on most days, but the reason behind that are cause for celebration rather than mourning. So these past months, I’ve been embracing my midsection and celebrating my belly, not caring that it’s made my wardrobe shrink to a few viable dresses and tops at this point, nor that it obscures the view of my feet, nor that it causes endless challenges when looking for a comfortable position in bed. I love it for what it’s doing and what it represents to me now.

Dressing my Best

Of those few dresses that still fit me, I wore the one above to our baby shower this past weekend. It was a wonderful event and could have only been made better by having had more out of town guests able to attend. And notice those fun little tissue paper pompoms hanging from the tree? Long time readers may remember them from E’s baby shower with her first baby that A. and I co-threw with another friend. A. and I made those pompoms way back then and I was delighted to see them resurface in celebration of my upcoming baby (yes, they’re the very same ones, carefully saved and preserved by A.). If you want to see how we made them, check out our easy tutorial here.

There were many similarities between the shower we threw for E. and her husband N. two years ago and the one that was thrown for T. and I this past weekend. The main ingredients: a relaxed atmosphere, a co-ed group allowing us to celebrate with all of our friends and partners, easy but delicious backyard food, fresh flowers as decor, and small details that betayed the love and thought that went into the planning. If you want to read our tips on throwing a backyard baby shower, take a look at our post here.

Back Yard Baby Shower

Are you currently pregnant or have you been pregnant at one point? Would your belly have made it into a ‘Best Five’ list were you to Dress Your Best?

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally
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