To Chop or Not to Chop

July 28th, 2011 § 13 comments §

Plaid Skirt made from Dress

Sources:

Above

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

Below

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

Endnotes:

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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Karina Dresses

July 25th, 2011 § 10 comments §

Karina Dress Review

Sources:

  • Dress – c/o Karina
  • Cami – Banana Republic
  • Shoes – Banana Republic
  • Hat – Banana Republic

Endnotes:

One of the many things I will miss about blogging is getting to know some really great independent retailers including small online boutiques and etsy sellers like those featured in our Boutique Consortium.  If we weren’t closing up shop, Karina would certainly be a shop we would be interested in adding to our consortium.   Karina generously sent me this “Rita” dress to review. I love the color and can already image so many ways to wear it.  For its first outing, I paired it with heels and my straw hat for lunch with a friend.

Karina Dress Review


Before I tell you how I feel about this particular Karina dress, let me tell you a bit about the company.  Karina dresses are all made of heavy, stretchy microfiber that drapes beautifully, never wrinkles, and washes easily. Each dress is made in Brooklyn in a small batch - which means prints and colors come and go, so if you see one you like, don’t follow my usual shopping pattern!

My favorite part about Karina is their motto:

dresses for “every body” … celebrating women from 18 to 80 … easy wear, easy care … wear the love”

Karina is committed to making all woman look & feel  great, no matter what shape or size . They offer many different styles made for a variety of body types and lifestyles and many of the dresses are offered in sizes 0 through 20. I also love that they use women of all ages, shapes, and sizes to model their dresses!

Karina Dress Review

So, now about my dress – the “Rita.”  I can already tell this cap sleeved wrap dress is going to be very versatile.  I love the cut and the color and am quite happy with the fit. It’s a true wrap dress but has enough overlap to keep my legs covered.  The waist hits at the perfect place – often not the case for me with wrap dresses – and I think the tie could easily be tucked under a belt as a way of changing up the look.

I have to admit, I was surprised at first by the material, but am now a huge fan.  It really doesn’t wrinkle, making it perfect for traveling (both wearing on the plane and shoving in a bag) and super convenient if you just don’t have time to iron in the morning!  Also, the drape on it is much more flattering than jersey – I’m not even wearing spanx!  I also think the material could be dressed up more than jersey but can just as easily be worn with flats for an active day of errands.

If you want to know more about the dresses you can also check Karina out on Facebook!

A.

Karina Dress Review

Category: Academichic Product Review, Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Reaching New Heights
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20 July 2011 – Changes

July 20th, 2011 § 6 comments §

Skirt as Skirt Option 1 Skirt as Skirt Option 1

Sources:

  • Tank: Banana Republic
  • Skirt: Gap Outlet
  • Scarf: Filene’s Basement
  • Shoes: Tahari via endless.com
  • Necklace: Accessorize

Sources (below):

  • Tank: Splendid via Filene’s Basement
  • Dress: Hourglass via Marshall’s
  • Shoes: Gap Outlet
  • Necklace: made by me

Endnotes:
By now most of you probably have read that the chics of Academichic are closing up shop at the end of this month. While I’m certainly sad to see this project end, I’d like to echo S.’s words today and THANK YOU all for your comments (both kind and critical) as these have pushed me to think far beyond my wardrobe into more theoretical questions of femininity, feminism, gender, ethnicity, economics, politics, and culture. Like S. said, we’ll each have longer wrap-up posts to get into our favorite discussions and wardrobe decisions, so I’ll hold off on waxing poetic for this post!

I thought it was appropriate that one of my last posts is very reminiscent of my first post – nothing beats a swirly skirt and light tank in the summer heat! However, one thing that makes a swirly jersey skirt even better is one that can be both a skirt AND a dress. I nabbed this at the Gap Outlet clearance section in June and have been experimenting with it ever since. Around the same time I picked up the blue dress in the images below and have been remixing that into a skirt. I was totally inspired by A.’s recent post about turning a strapless summer dress into a shirtdress, and you guys know how much I love “convertible season.” So here are two ideas that I’ve come up with so far for this skirt as a dress: trying a scarf/sash around the top OR using a scarf to give a little more coverage over the shoulders.

Skirt as Dress Option 2 Skirt as Dress Option 2 Skirt as Dress Option 3 Skirt as Dress Option 3

For the blue strapless dress I wore it a few times alone, but one day didn’t feel like being so bare up top and opted for a tank underneath. By pulling the dress (now a skirt) up right below my chest I made a kind of empire waisted dress that fell just below my knee. While I’m not sure that the length is very flattering on me, I know that mid-length skirts are “in” and it is very comfy this way.

Dress as Dress Dress as Dress Dress as Skirt Option 1 Dress as Skirt Option 1

Finally, I wanted to show off one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, which dresses up any outfit. My sister brought these small “evil eyes” back to me from Turkey and I love how they look all together (pun intended). I also strung one on the back so I have an “eye in the back of my head” so to speak.

Evil Eyes

What are your best convertible pieces? How do you style a dress as skirt or vice versa?

Category: Beltless, Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Layers Upon Layers, Our Best Flatware, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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Trying to Stay Cool in the Midwest

July 18th, 2011 § 10 comments §

Floral Skirt

Sources:

  • Skirt – Old Navy Sundress chopped by me
  • Tank – Ann Taylor Loft
  • Belt – Small Store in SF
  • Shoes – Kenneth Cole Reaction
  • Necklace – a lonely earring on a chain

Endnotes:

What they are saying on the news is true  – IT’S HOT IN THE MIDWEST.  So, you can expect to see lots of this straps, light skirts, and curly hair from me.  I’ve mostly been wearing shorts and tanks these days (or my swimsuit) while playing with toddlers.  So for a coffee/work date with a friend, I pulled out the heels.

This skirt used to be a dress, that just didn’t get enough use in it’s original state, so I chopped it.  I’ve been getting more adventurous with my scissors lately (and working on my limited sewing skills) and chopped three other garments just over the weekend.  I’ll try to post some results for my scissor session in the next couple weeks.   I just figure if the are old and/or cheap and I’m not wearing them anyway, why not attempt to give them new life.  The worst that could happen?  I end up with scrap fabric for when I eventually do master my sewing machine.

What about you?  Do you fearlessly chop?  Are you make impulsive (yet fairly permanent) alterations?

A.

Floral Skirt

Category: Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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One More DYB Post, Three More Bests

July 2nd, 2011 § 8 comments §

One More DYB Post, Three More Bests

Sources:

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

Endnotes:

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!

A.

 

One More DYB Post, Three More Bests

Category: Dress Your Best, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Weekend Wear
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1 July 2011 – Family Matters

July 1st, 2011 § 16 comments §

1 July 2011 - Family Matters

Sources:

  • Tank: Target
  • Necklace: gift from husband
  • Bracelets: bangles from Banana Republic Factory, cork bracelet from Honolulu swap meet
  • Skirt: thrifted
  • Belt: thrifted
  • Wedges: Reaction by Kenneth Cole, via DSW

End Notes:

Can you Dress Your Best and give a round of applause to your familial heritage? Because that’s how I’m ending my DYB this year.

I’ve always taken great pride in the fact that I am hapa, half Japanese and half Caucasian. Because I grew up in a predominantly Asian culture, I perhaps feel more bonded to my Japanese heritage, but I’ve also come to cherish my Scottish and English roots and my old, old New England settler connections. To have two such different and unique histories wrapped up in my own family continues to be a fascinating thing for me.

But even though I may strongly conceive of myself as hapa, as mixed race, not everyone perceives me that way. Most people in Hawaii, many of whom are mixed race themselves, recognize me as being hapa, though they might jokingly give me a hard time for my paler skin or tall stature that makes me stick out amidst the predominantly tan, short population. Since moving to the mainland, however, I’ve found that such recognition is, ironically, more mixed. Some people recognize me as being “not white” and ask, “What are you?” Some people take guesses. I’ve been told that I look like Michelle Wie and Lucy Liu. Once, someone asked if I was part Mexican. Many people just assume that I’m full white.

1 July 2011 - Family Matters

All of this — the categorization that happens based on physical appearance, the notion that visible recognizability is a necessary part of assuming a particular identity, the very conception of “race” in general — is incredibly fraught and something that I wrestle through in my own academic work. But I know that, for me, my body plays an important role in reminding me of my heritage and seeing my future in the fat cheeks and flat nose of my son who, for all other intents and purposes, looks more like his Caucasian father.

So today I’m celebrating being hapa. I’m celebrating the height I got from 6’4″ father along with the freckles and big ears that are all from his side of the family. And I’m celebrating my big cheeks, dark hair, and yellowy undertones in my skin that come from my mother’s side. So hooray for shoes that are purple and tan even though the skirt is salmon and the shirt is navy. Hooray for a hot pink belt rather than a brown one. Hooray for silver and cork bracelets, worn together. The mixing is what makes it interesting.

Bracelets and Belt

1 July 2011 - Family Matters

Category: Color Combinations, Dress Your Best, Maternity Style, Reaching New Heights, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue
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28 June 2011 – Hello There

June 28th, 2011 § 16 comments §

28 June 2011 - Hello There

Sources:

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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Stripes #3 & #4

June 14th, 2011 § 5 comments §

Sripes Take 3Stripes Take 4

Sources:

Take #3:

  • Striped Tank – American Eagle
  • Shorts – Gap Outlet
  • Hat- Banana Republic
  • Sandals – H & M
  • Earrings – gift from S.

Take #4:

  • Pink Skirt – Limited
  • Striped Top – Banana Republic
  • Belt – Thrifted
  • Grey Shoes – BR
  • Earrings – gift from S.

Endnotes:

Here are takes 3 and 4 of my self-imposed stripe challenge.   I think takes 1 and 2 were both much better, but I am happy to finally get my hat on the blog.  Several months back, before it was sun hat season, E. and S. convinced me to wear this hat.  I wore it a few times before chopping my hair and then was hesitant to pull it out again after the haircut.  I’m not convinced it is the most flattering look, but it sure is practical!  I wore this outfit at an outdoor festival over the weekend and it was nice to keep the sun off my head and face and it hid my increasingly  post-rain curly/frizzy hair.

Take #4 looked better in my imagination, but I do love the bright color pairing and that I got to use my newly thrifted belt again.   I wore this for my first day of teaching summer school yesterday and then took the pictures after finding out the class was canceled due to low enrollment.  I just couldn’t manage a picture in which I didn’t look at least slightly dejected. Looks like I wont have as have many teaching outfits to show you over this summer, so hope you don’t mind seeing some writing duds!

A.

Stripes Take 4

Category: Color Combinations, Our Best Flatware, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, The Short of It, Weekend Wear
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9 June 2011 – I May Regret This Shortly

June 9th, 2011 § 33 comments §

I Might Regret This Shortly

Sources:

  • Striped tank: Target
  • Belt: swapped with A.
  • Skirt: thrifted as a dress and chopped
  • Literal necklace: Tickette, gift from husband
  • Wedges: Naturalizer, via DSW

End Notes:

There are a lot of things I love about this outfit — the colors and stripes, the red shoes, the silhouette — but there are also a lot of things I might regret shortly.

Like the fact that a tiny part of me is worried that I’ll look like a member of the Red Hat Society, sans hat, because I’m wearing red and purple together.

Or the fact that I — as an almost 30 year old mother — definitely wore pigtails for part of the day in order to get my hair off my neck in some unbearable heat. Am I too old for pigtails?

Or the fact that I’m maybe-kind-of-sort-of-half-heartedly trying to grow my hair out right now. My avuncular hair dresser, whom I adore and trust, encouraged me to aim for a longer hair length. And while I love the idea, in theory, of being able to throw my hair up into a ponytail, it’s been so long since I’ve had anything other than a bob that I’m a bit at sea right now.

And now you know all my secret fears. But tell me, what tips do you have for that awkward in-between stage of growing out your hair? Are there hair fastening devices I should know about at this point? If a ponytail is still stumpy are there other options — besides pigtails — for lifting hair off the neck? Tell me what I need to know!

I Might Regret This Shortly

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Reaching New Heights, Research Casual
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3 June 2011 – Variations on a Theme

June 3rd, 2011 § 2 comments §

Variations on a Theme: Coral

Variations on a Theme: Mustard

Sources:

  • Mustard cardigan: Target
  • Coral cardigan: Banana Republic
  • Tank: Old Navy Maternity
  • Skirt: Old Navy Maternity
  • Cut-out sandals: Jeffrey Campbell, via Gilt
  • Patterned wedges: Kenneth Cole, via DSW
  • Fedora: Banana Republic

End Notes:

Even if I haven’t been photographing or posting my outfits everyday, I’ve been sticking to my capsule wardrobe and have been happy with how easy it’s been to get dressed in the morning. Of course, it means that I’ve already had some repeats and that I tend to fall back on simple variations on a theme, like the two outfits I’m sharing today. But hey, I’m getting dressed, little e. remains fed and clothed as well, and I’ve been a highly productive dissertation writer.

The formula is simple: gray tank + denim pencil skirt. Add a brightly colored cardigan, a few accessories, fun shoes, and call it a day. I like how the choice of shoes (heels versus flat sandals) and accessories (hat, necklace, or belt) can change the overall feel of the outfit from playful to sophisticated.

Also, sometimes having boring outfits means that I’m more likely to pull out a hat. Is anyone else in love with straw hats for summer?

Variations on a Theme: Coral

Variations on a Theme: Coral

Variations on a Theme: Mustard

Category: Color Combinations, Layers Upon Layers, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Reaching New Heights, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue
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