E. On A Lot and A Little

July 21st, 2011 § 9 comments §

Dolce Vita Pumps

In response to some of your “final, burning questions,” I wanted to reflect today on one of the biggest effects that style blogging has had on me: nurturing a desire to BUY less and DO more with what I already have in my wardrobe. Sometimes I’ve been more successful than others, but I want to celebrate the items that have been particularly and surprisingly remix-able as I’ve gone through several significant life and body changes.

Now, I obviously haven’t stopped shopping altogether since blogging. Still, I think that I’ve become a lot more self-conscious about where and how I acquire clothing since starting this blog. I’ve definitely continued my love of a good sale, but I’ve also rediscovered my love of thrifting and uncovered a penchant for refashioning existing garments and helping to organize clothing swaps. S., L., A., and I all have different personal convictions about where we shop and what brands we support, but I have always valued the thoughtful dialogue that comes along with the recognition that, on some level, the statement that you make through what you wear hinges not only on visual appearances but also sourcing and motivation.

That said, while I have made a self-conscious effort to do my research and try to thrift more frequently, I do still shop at a lot of big box stores. And I will admit frankly that limited time plays a big determining factor — some might argue that it is too big a factor — in how I shop. Thrifting or finding vintage treasures on eBay or sewing my own clothes or even hunting down independent boutiques takes a lot of time. And in certain seasons of my life….well, time is a very rare thing. I say this to be honest with you all and to acknowledge that tensions exist (and probably always will). I don’t want to paint myself as operating on a superior plane of enlightened clothes-purchasing. Sometimes I’m just a tired mom that orders things online from Old Navy at 11:00pm because I can get free shipping and simultaneously buy another bundle of socks for baby e.

BUT here’s where style blogging comes in. Because I have a visual record of what I’ve worn and because I have so much inspiration at my finger tips (thanks, Internet), I am more prone than ever to figure out a new way to wear something than go out and buy a new garment. I’ve already gushed about some of the wardrobe workhorses that I own (like my little navy dress and my mustard blouson top), but here are a few more garments that I’ve worn in all three years of our blogging career.


The Expected: Navy Three-Quarter Sleeve Blazer

26 May 2009 3 March 2009 17 March 2009 - Getting Closer 26 March 2009 - With Jacket

I bought this blazer expecting it to be a workhorse. I have not been disappointed.

15 April 2009 20 April 2009 1 September 2009 23 April 2010 - Faux Floral

16 October 2009 - Man Pants 8 March 2011 - Is It Spring Yet? 14 June 2010

7 April 2010 25 February 2010 21 September 2009


The Dark Horse: Dolman Cardigan

30 October 2009 - Slouchy 22 December 2009 24 November 2009

When my mother-in-law gifted me with this cardigan I was initially unsure what to do with those sleeves. But, it was so soft and warm that I kept wearing it…and wearing it…and wearing it…and figuring out different ways to do so along the way.

Unseasonable Slouchy Day Tilted


The All-Season Surprise: Full Cream Skirt

18 July 2009 - Neutrals with a Pop of Baby 13 August 2009 - ThisClose 21 August 2009 - Sundance

Oh, my floaty cream cotton skirt. I love it. I wear it in the spring. I wear it in the summer. Sometimes I wear it in February. This is one of the garments I miss the most when I’m pregnant.

31 September 2009 - Annie Get Yer Gun 10 February 2010 - Golden 16 February 2010

31 March 2010 23 April 2010 - Faux Floral 13 May 2010 - Cheeky

The Colorful: Purple Maxi Dress

The Chics 6 September 2010 - Max

I first wore this purple maxi dress to a baby shower when I was pregnant with little e. Then I let it sit in my closet for a while. And then…then I fell in love and decided it went with pretty much everything. And who doesn’t need a little more royal purple in their life?

Folky Blazer 24 November 2010 - Barefoot in the Kitchen

20 November 2010 - Poor Planning 1 November 2010 - Such Great Lengths

Hippie Dippie Trippie 6 May 2011 - Drive

13 June 2011 - Crossed Buns Garden Hat

It’s this aspect of style blogging — reimagining what I already own and feeling the freedom to occasionally get a little wacky in how I try to wear something — that I hope will remain with me. At the very least I know that I’ll be wearing that full cream skirt again, in some new iteration, just as soon as my post-baby belly allows…

P.S. You can see most of my outfits that utilized those orange shoes up top by clicking here.

Category: Resources, Teaching Moment, Theoretical
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Weekend Workshop: Remixing…a Patterned Scarf

April 9th, 2011 § 11 comments §

Today’s weekend remix is brought to you by E.’s patterned pashmina, a gift from her sister-in-law and purchased in Chinatown in NYC. While it’s too thick to wear in the spring and summer, it’s still a great example of how versatile a good patterned scarf can be.

Golden Girl

My sweet sister-in-law knew what she was doing when she got me this scarf as a Christmas present a few years ago. It’s a very substantial, warm pashmina, with greens, turquoise, and brown woven together into an elaborate but not distracting pattern. I’ve worn it time and time again, but certain rhythms of pairing emerge:


When wearing something as minimal as a mod black sweater dress, a patterned scarf takes center stage and adds a dose of interest while still performing other duties, like creating illusory vertical lines. I also love how changing the way in which I tie the scarf allows different aspects of the pattern to shine.

12 February 2010 - Sneaky Knot
12 February 2010 - Scarf Wrapped
Golden Girl

I wear this scarf a lot with yellow and mustard. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of yellow + blue + green color combinations, so I naturally graviate towards my mustards and sunshine yellows given the peacock and yellow-green hues in the scarf. Together, I think they make for a rich palette that can brighten up even a dreary fall or winter day.

24 January 2009
All the Pretty Little Horses

I’m also a big fan of variations of purple and green (but rarely true purple and true green) as a color combination. With the addition of turquoise in the scarf’s pattern, I can make lovely analogous color combinations using the cool half of the color wheel. There’s something very regal about this color palette. Perhaps because of the patterning of the scarf, such combinations make me think of Byzantine mosaics done in precious, royal hues. Not that there’s anything particularly regal about dark red tights, but you get what I’m saying, right?

7 December 2010
On the Move

Because of the pattern, this pashmina is also very substantial in thickness. That means that it’s a fantastic snuggly piece that also happens to be fairly attractive. I love wearing a comfortable outfit like jeans and a slouchy dolman cardigan…then throwing on this patterned scarf to make everything seem more purposeful and polished. Sometimes, I don’t even bother to tie it. I just “drape”…and then wrap it around myself like a blanket when the library gets too cold or life gets too demanding.

19 January 2010 - Pick a Scarf
Slouchy Day

Do you have a patterned scarf that you wear the heck out of? What makes it so great? How do you wear it?

Category: Teaching Moment, Weekend Workshops
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2 March 2011 – Beyond the Waist

March 2nd, 2011 § 13 comments §

The most commonly given style reason for belting — if we ignore the practical utility of keeping your pants up — is to create an “hourglass” shape by accentuating the smallest part of your waist. S., who has done a lot of research on gender and fashion talked about some of the historical dimensions of this earlier in the day. While I may (very) frequently revert to a cinched-waist silhouette, but I’ve also become much more comfortable over the past couple of years with “surrendering the waist.”


12 February 2010 - Sans Scarf

I think a big part of this was allowing my eyes to adjust, to recognize a different aesthetic as okay. And this, in turn, let me find a couple of ways to belt that do not hinge on belting at my smallest part. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good at-the-waist belt. But I have discovered that there is a world of belting that extends beyond the waist-cinch.


27 October 2010 - Pink E.

I used to stay away from skinny belts, as I worried that they got lost amidst the expanse of my extra-long torso. More recently, however, I started belting just above my widest part, my hips. I probably lifted this straight from Kendi, who does this very frequently. Honestly, it probably does do some lower-half curve creation, and it’s not THAT different from belting at the waist, but I also find it to be a great way to break up an expanse of solid skirt. This also does nothing to mitigate my long torso-ness, but not every day needs to be about long-leggedness.



25 August 2010

I have grown rather attached to belting blousey tops to create a peplum effect. The belt still provides a hint of structure, but the overall silhouette seems more playful than a straight forward waist-cinch. I like how this exaggerates my shoulders and hips, but in a softer fashion.

Work With What You've Got


19 June 2009

Of course, my favorite subversion of the belt-at-your-smallest-part dictum is belting below a baby bump. Rather than an hourglass shape, it’s like a double scoop ice cream cone. Or something. And I can’t wait til I have bump enough to try this again, probably with more confidence than I did the first time around.

2 June 2009 - Bam, There's a Bump

None of these are revolutionary belting techniques, of course, but they’ve helped me expand my belting repertoire in fun ways. Do you belt elsewhere besides your natural waist?

Category: Pregnancy in Academia, Proportionally, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Moment, Teaching Outfits
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Tight Swap, Take Two

February 15th, 2011 § 51 comments §

Tight Swap - Gray

In last year’s Fashion 101 on tights, I offered an example of how merely switching out tights could change the entire appearance of an outfit. This year, I thought I’d try out the same idea again, but with a different dress and shoe combination.

(As an aside, I really love the substantial ponte knit and demure shape of this little gray sheath, but it’s significantly shorter than what I usually wear. I don’t think I’ll be teaching in this dress until I let the hem down, but even for running about town over the weekend I felt…abbreviated.)

In any case, onward. The photo above shows the gray dress paired with gray tights. The monochrome scheme does mitigate my hem length issues, and I love how the browns of the belt and boots warm everything up. A touch more interesting than wearing black tights, but still cool and simple.

Next up, patterned tights. Meh. This is probably my least favorite look, not because I don’t like my patterned tights, but because I think they were the wrong value for this medium gray sheath. I think a darker patterned tight would have worked a little better, no?

Tight Swap - Patterned

Given my love of grellow, I definitely wanted to try pairing this soft gray dress with punchier saffron tights. I love the idea of these tights in theory, but sometimes when I wear them I get a little self conscious about maybe looking like I have Muppet legs. Here, though, I think they work well with the warm cognac boots to create a little bit of punch without breaking up my leg line too harshly.

Tights Swap - Saffron

I think this gray and red combination is one of my favorite iterations. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m channeling some Tania from What Would a Nerd Wear and her “gred”. There’s something classic but fresh and the tights look purposeful, not like a tacked on afterthought.

Tight Swap - Red

Finally, blue tights. I was prepared to not like this…but I really do. I don’t usually think of cobalt as being a “spring” color, but there’s a lot of it around this year and I think it’s a little unexpected with the gray and navy.

Tight Swap - Royal Blue

Do you have a favorite?

Category: Dresses for Day, Our Best Flatware, Research Casual, Taking Notes, Teaching Moment
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The 2010 Academichic Gift Guide

December 8th, 2010 § 10 comments §

As we did last year, we’re offering up our favorite suggestions for the smart, stylish women in your life. (Or, you know, just send this list along to any friends and family wondering what to get you this holiday season.)


Jewelry that declares one’s affinity for words is never out of style. How about a pair of choose-your-own-word earrings (“Theory” and “Practice”? “Performative” and “Subjectivity”? “Academic” and “Chic”?) or bibliophile earrings, little silver discs subtly stamped with “read” and “write”?

(Left: Choose Your Own Word Glass Marble Earrings. Right: Bibliophile Earrings)

The self-defining “word” jewelry by Tickette is both witty and stylish. It’s like conceptual art you can wear.

Necklace Charm in Black

They won’t make you any smarter, but we look the scholar-chic feel of these Hours at the Library heels from Modcloth.

Hours at the Library Heels

And what better way to add some surrealist flair to an outfit than with a scarf silk screened with Salvador Dali’s face? (A. and E. just might have to pick this up for the department’s resident scholar on Dada and Surrealism.)

Salvador Dali Raw-Edge Scarf


» Read the rest of this entry «

Category: Teaching Moment

Sweater Song

December 7th, 2010 § 8 comments §

7 December 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Scarf: Chinatown
  • Sweater dress: Ann Taylor
  • Tights: Hue
  • Oxford booties: Civico 10, via DSW

End Notes:

This maroon-or-eggplant-depending-on-the-light sweater dress has proven to be just as versatile as I hoped when I bought it. I actually wore this dress (with boots and a different scarf) when we took our family Christmas card pictures in our local rainforest (er, botanical gardens) on Sunday, but I’m not even going to count that against my 30 for 30 total since I have more than enough ideas of other remixes to see me through to the end.

I will, however, show you some outtakes from our camera-balanced-on-the-stroller photo shoot:

On another note entirely, I’ve enjoyed reading the “Why I Remix” guest posts — featuring outstanding remixers like Kyla from Blue Collar Catwalk and Tania from What Would a Nerd Wear — that Kendi has been hosting throughout this 30 for 30. Why do I remix? I love the idea of transformative creativity…not making something ex nihilo, but taking something that already exists and seeing potential within that for something different altogether. I may not have the time, patience, or skill to craft a perfectly tailored, custom dress, but I can reinvent an off-the-rack dress to suit different seasons, moods, and purposes. I remix because it makes me feel powerful. I am taking charge of my closet, resisting the compulsion to buy more or play it safe.

Whether or not you are participating in the 30 for 30 challenge, why do you remix?

Category: Beltless, Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Teaching Moment, Teaching Outfits
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10 September 2010

September 10th, 2010 § 20 comments §

10 September 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Mustard top: F21
  • Vest: Target
  • Belt: Gap Outlet
  • Jeans: Ann Taylor
  • Wedges: thrifted
  • Necklace: clothes swap

End Notes:

I’m squeezing in one more wardrobe workhorse, ala the ladies at Scholar Style Guide before the week is up: my mustard blouson top.

In my kitchen pantry, I have the recommended staples of all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar. And while I certainly use those things on a regular basis, the real workhorses of my kitchen are punchier ingredients, things like balsamic vinegar, cumin, and ginger. So if the all-purpose flour of my wardrobe is a pair of black trousers, this blouson top is my cumin.

1. 16 December 2009 – On Blousing and Belting, 2. 17 February 2010, 3. 2 April 2009 – A Day Without Belting, 4. 19 January 2010 – Pick a Scarf

This all makes sense in my head.

1. 9 March 2009 – Elbow Patches!, 2. 20 April 2009, 3. 29 June 2009, 4. 1 September 2009

I didn’t buy this top thinking that it would become a go-to item in my wardrobe. But between its four-season color and its generous drape, I’ve used it over and over again to add volume and movement under structure and to brighten a color palette. And I’m realizing that I wish that I owned at least one more blouse in this shape, perhaps in a pale blue or a rich purple.

Today’s homage to my mustard top was all about slouchy, easy style: a long, open sweater vest as a topper and skinnies on the bottom for balance. It was a casual outfit perfect for running errands, making a brief appearance, on campus, and encouraging fall weather to come and stay in my part of the Midwest. Well done, wardrobe workhorse, well done.

10 September 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Layers Upon Layers, Office Hours, Pants Please, Proportionally, Research Casual, Teaching Moment
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8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse

September 8th, 2010 § 19 comments §

8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Dress: Target
  • Pumps (both colors): Steve Madden
  • Scarf: c/o Nepali by TDM Designs
  • Necklace (below): F21
  • Jacket (below): H&M, thrifted
  • Yellow sandals: Old Navy
  • Baby carrier: Ergo

End Notes:

The smart and stylish ladies over at Scholar Style Guide have declared this week “Wardrobe Workhorse Week, as they think about what items (or genre of items) they get the most use out of in their wardrobes. While I’m a little late to the party, I love this idea and I immediately thought of several specific items in my closet that have actually surprised me with how frequently they show up in my wardrobe rotation.

Back in July, I paid homage to this navy jersey dress for being an utterly remixable wardrobe staple despite the fact that it is not what I would generally term a true “basic.” To reiterate, when I first purchased this dress I was basically worried that it wasn’t bland enough to be a staple.

I was wrong.

Besides my previous examples of adding pops of color and layering under and over the dress…

I can also make it on trend:

8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse, originally uploaded by academichic.

I can fancy it up:

8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse, originally uploaded by academichic.

Or wear it with a baby carrier to run errands:

8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse, originally uploaded by academichic.

What makes this dress so versatile without being boring? Details like the full shoulder and wide sash give it personality, but neither of those elements are particularly attention-grabbing. The v-neck gives it potential for layering below and the slim skirt gives it potential for layering on top. In terms of color, navy is a soft, sophisticated neutral that plays well with others without being garish. Finish all this off with the fact that its washable cotton jersey, meaning it’s baby-friendly and biking friendly.

Move over, LBD, my Little Navy Dress is getting it done and taking names. Are you participating in Wardrobe Workhorse Week? What are the items you get the most use out of in your closet?

8 September 2010 – Wardrobe Workhorse, originally uploaded by academichic.

(Styling today is courtesy of baby e. who picked out my blue suede shoes from the closet, put them next to my feet, and then baby-signed “please.” He’s got good taste.)

Category: Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Office Hours, Research Casual, Teaching Moment, Teaching Outfits
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16 August 2010 – Splitting Complements

August 16th, 2010 § 21 comments §

16 August 2010 – Splitting Complements, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Top: Ross
  • Cardigan: Anthropologie
  • Belt: Old Navy
  • Skirt: Banana Republic Factory
  • Pumps: Dolce Vita, c/o solestruck.com

End Notes:

I think that this week’s color module — on monochrome and split complementary color schemes — is our most challenging, especially in the summer where there are fewer layering possibilities. Furthermore, trying to figure out what exactly constitutes a split complementary color scheme kind of makes my head spin.

Basically, a split complementary color combination means that you pick a color, draw a line straight across the color wheel to its complement, and then ignore that complement in favor of the colors on either side. For any given color on the color wheel, there are three split complementary color schemes possible.

Allow me:

Here I’m using blue-green as my main color. The complement of blue-green is red-orange, but the split complements are red and orange.

Blue Green, Orange, and Red, originally uploaded by academichic.

But, blue-green could also be on the “split” side of the equation. For example, if red was my main color, then the split complements would be blue-green and yellow-green (on either side of red’s “true” complement, green).

Red, Yellow Green, & Blue Green, originally uploaded by academichic.

Or, as I managed to cobble together today, when orange is the starting point, the split complements are blue-green and blue-violet, on either side of the “true” complement, blue.

Orange, Blue Green, & Blue Violet, originally uploaded by academichic.

Whew. I do think that split complementary color schemes, despite being a bit complex initially, have a big pay off. They’re unexpected and a little quirky and they have both the lush feel of analogous pairings and the pop of a complementary color scheme. Perhaps I need to introduce a personal mandate to wear a split complement at least once a month?

16 August 2010 – Splitting Complements, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Layers Upon Layers, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Moment, Teaching Outfits
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20 July 2010 – Turquoise Two Ways

July 20th, 2010 § 16 comments §

20 July 2010 – Turquoise Two Ways, originally uploaded by academichic.



  • Ruffle cardi: Ann Taylor
  • Belt: Forever 21
  • Skirt: Target
  • Cage heels: Target


  • Gray tank: Target
  • Necklace: bracelet-turned-pendant
  • Belt: Old Navy
  • Skirt: Target
  • Sandals: Target

End Notes:

I cannot entirely explain my affection for this turquoise tulip skirt. This is a pretty different silhouette than my usual fare of full skirts or structured pencil skirts: it adds fullness to a place that I usually prefer to skim on over and is shorter than many of my skirts as well. At one point while wearing this, I panicked and wondered if I was wearing the skirt equivalent of so-called “harem pants”.

But perhaps it is precisely the freshness of the silhouette to my wardrobe that has me reaching again and again for this skirt. (Plus, I figured that I could take a page from Dress Your Best week and acknowledge my birthing hips.)

On one hand, this tulip shape plays well with other stand-bys in my summer mom casual wardrobe: a simple tank, a belt, and colorful sandals. The skirt is breezy and quirky and a fun color to boot.

20 July 2010 – Turquoise Two Ways, originally uploaded by academichic.

Orange Sandals, originally uploaded by academichic.

On the other hand, the different-for-me shape also inspires different-for-me outfits, like the edgier look up top. Although there’s a lot going on — cage heels, draping, and ruffles — the relatively subdued color palette, with just a sole pop of color, pulls everything together. I actually really love of the play of soft lines up top, cut through by a strong belt and finished with the graphic geometry of the cage heels.

Cage Heels, originally uploaded by academichic.

If a single garment in your closet could be a style muse, I think this skirt might be mine of the moment. It is familiar enough to be a staple and just different enough to encourage experimentation. Do you have a garment that inspires you to try new things in your style? What is it?

Category: Night Without Grading, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Moment
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