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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22 July 2011 – A Little Bit Light-Hearted

July 22nd, 2011 § 6 comments §

Stripes Again


  • Dress: Motherhood Maternity
  • Yellow pattern flats: Target, thrifted new
  • Necklace: consignment store
  • Fence chalkboard art: courtesy of little e. and his friends

End Notes:

I started teaching a summer class this week. At the beginning of the week there was a question as to whether or not the class could continue due to enrollment and my wardrobe choices reflected that uncertainty and the desire to establish myself as an instructor who could be taken seriously. That meant business casual separates: gray trousers, a gray skirt, my cropped navy blazer. (Of course, I didn’t stop wearing bright shoes. Pink, blue, and orange pumps all made appearances). But today, now that the class is assuredly moving forward and I’ve established a good rapport with my students, I got the itch to wear something a little more out of the box.

Whenever in wardrobe doubt, I call in reinforcements. That meant texting A. this morning: “Is it too early in the semester to wear my striped dress?”

“Nope,” she replied.

(Of course, A. is totally my stripe-enabler. I don’t know when she would tell me that stripes, in some form, would be inappropriate.)

So today is a wonky belly day, a little light-hearted reminder to have a bit of a fun at the end of an admittedly stressful week. I can’t look down without smiling.

Stripes Again


Category: Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Teaching Outfits
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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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24 June 2011 – Wonky

June 24th, 2011 § 34 comments §

24 June 2011


  • Dress: Motherhood Maternity
  • Necklace: consignment store
  • Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell

End Notes:

One guess as to what I’m celebrating as my “best” today.

24 June 2011

All that’s changed in the past year, of course, as I’m come to really, really love stripes. Maybe I’m just a late-bloomer like that. And now look, I’m wearing stripes when seven months pregnant. ALL OVER MY BODY.

As S. has already expressed, the rapid changes that your body goes through during pregnancy can be emotionally trying. It’s hard to see a body that you know transform into something that you don’t always recognize when you catch glimpses of yourself in a window or mirror. Being pregnant a second time is a different ballgame in the sense that I have some expectations of what could happen…but no guarantee that things will be at all the same. My hips are a little more sore, my face seems puffier to me, and chasing a toddler around while also carting pregnancy weight is exhausting.

But this time I also have the benefit of knowing what comes next: a child to cherish and nurture.

24 June 2011

So I adore this dress. I love that it hugs all of my pregnancy curves. I love that it’s graphic and modern. I love that it makes me feel hip and proud to be pregnant. This isn’t a dress that everyone will love (either on themselves or on me, for that matter), but it’s helping me dress my best with a little sense of humor and a whole lot of confidence.

24 June 2011

24 June 2011

Category: Beltless, Dress Your Best, Dresses for Day, Teaching Outfits
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Stripes #3 & #4

June 14th, 2011 § 5 comments §

Sripes Take 3Stripes Take 4


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.


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!


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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6 June 2011 – Trying a Triad

June 6th, 2011 § 19 comments §

6 June 2011 - Trying a Triad


  • Purple dress – thrifted
  • Tote – thrifted
  • Teal cami – BR Outlet
  • Belt – Gap Outlet
  • Sandals – Target
  • Necklace – Earring turned pendant
  • Bike – 1969 Raleigh Sports
  • Helmet – Giro


Remember our color modules? When I pulled this purple jersey dress off its hanger and added the orange skinny belt to it, I realized that I was one color away from creating a triad. So I reached for a teal (blue-green) camisole to complete the look. For any color theory purists out there, I realize that this isn’t a ‘true triad’ of purple, orange, and green, but it comes pretty close. And in fact, I’d say that near triads often end up looking just as bold and punchy but in a better, more subtle way. Take a look…

27 July 2009 19 November 2009
16 February 2009 16 May 2009

While straight-up oranges, purples, and greens can end up looking a bit Crayola, blue-greens, red-oranges, plums, and aubergines can make for a much richer or more sophisticated color palette. I kept the rest of the outfit simple in terms of color with a navy tote and silver sandals completing the look. (Silver, like navy, is a neutral in my book).

If you could pick any three colors, but only three colors, to wear for an entire month, what would they be? – S.

6 June 2011 - Trying a Triad

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Teaching Outfits, Vélocouture
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1 June 2011 – Last Day of Classes!

June 1st, 2011 § 16 comments §

1 year down!


  • Dress: Banana Republic outlet
  • Sweater: BR outlet
  • Belt: American Apparel
  • Shoes: Pucci (gift from mom)

That’s right – this week I had my last day of classes for the year, which means I’m almost done with my first year of teaching high school English!!! I remember at the beginning of the year when I was a) a new teacher b) training for a marathon and c) blogging for the first time and honestly I’m not sure how I got through all that. But, here we are, early June and I’ve survived – thanks in large part to the support of my friends (and co-bloggers) and family. Thank you to everyone who helped me through this year of massive transitions and first days – and that includes all of you who wrote encouraging comments! As our Dean of Faculty told me during the first week (when I may or may not have been crying in his office), “Every day is a first day in your first year of teaching.” And he’s right. Every time I stepped in my classroom this year, it was the first time I was teaching that lesson or discussing that book. As the year went on, I learned how to gauge my students more, and I could anticipate how each section was going to react to certain things and could begin to tailor things a little more. Having one year under my belt, as it were, makes me so excited for next year, when I’ll have a much better idea what to expect!

2010 - First Day of Classes 1 June 2011 - Last Day of Classes!

Anyway, back to the clothes. I wanted to wear something on my last day that would remind me how far I’ve come this year – and would include things that I love: anything pink and fabulous shoes. The base of this outfit is the same as what I wore on the first day of school. I switched in a bright green cotton cardigan for the turquoise one I ended up wearing the first day (not pictured), and moved my stretchy belt to the outside. This is definitely one of my matchy-matchy outfits since the pink and green are perfectly reflected in the pink and green of my fantastic satin Pucci flats.

Pucci Shoes

The learning curve of a new teacher is pretty much exponential, and I feel so great coming out of this year with all the knowledge and ideas I’ve gained and cannot wait to implement new things for next year. I’m pretty sure that’s the best way possible to end a year – excited for the next year to come. Not that I’m not going to enjoy my summer. Oh, boy. Summer. Here I come! What are you all up to for the summer???


1 June 2011 - Last Day of Classes!

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Day, Our Best Flatware, Teaching Outfits
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26 May 2011 – Pumpkin Spice Spring?

May 26th, 2011 § 2 comments §

26 May 2011 - Pumpkin Spice


  • Sweater: Theory via Neiman Marcus Outlet
  • Patterned Tank: Banana Republic
  • White Tank (under): BR
  • Skirt: Gap (swapped with A.)
  • Belt: J. Crew
  • Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti via Filene’s Basement

All of the individual parts of this outfit are certainly springy, but the whole thing together reminds me of a late fall concoction of ripe pumpkins, rich browns, and golden leaves – in short, A. and J.’s favorite drink: a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I wanted to add a spring-y-er element, and I needed something to cover my shoulders, so I followed in A.’s footsteps and opted for my turquoise cardigan.

26 May 2011 - Pumpkin Spice with sweater

A. has done some fantastic pairing with her orange pencil skirt (of which I am insanely jealous!) and while my brown skirt and orange patterned top isn’t making the same splash, it is still a nice pop of complementary colors.

What summer items or combinations have you been sporting that you associate with other seasons?


Category: Color Combinations, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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24 May 2011

May 24th, 2011 § 21 comments §

24 May 2011 - Plaid side


  • Dress: Moulinette Soeurs via Anthropologie
  • Sweater: Gap outlet
  • Belt: Old Navy outlet
  • Camisole (under): Banana Republic outlet
  • Shoes: BR

I think S. brings up a great question: How do you best dress with stress? I had wondered at the beginning of this school year if during 9 months of dressing for classes 6 days a week there would come a point at which I absolutely could not stand to get dressed in the morning. For me getting dressed is fun. Obviously I enjoy it or else I wouldn’t bother playing around with what I wear, nor would I take the time to blog about it. Certainly in these last 9 months there have been days, or weeks even, when looking at my closet has inspired more dread than pleasure, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed starting my day playing “dress-up.” As I’ve said before, I use clothes to get me revved up, keep me motivated, and put on a brave front when I’m not feeling so tough inside.

24 May 2011 - Plaid back

However, in these last few weeks of school, as the weather has not warmed and the rain keeps falling, I have hit my wall. I have been going back to old, faithful staples that I’ve been wearing since I was in high school: corduroys and Birkenstocks. I haven’t blogged these outfits both because I feel “frumpy” in them and because it’s definitely not corduroy season in most of the country, so who cares how I styled a pair of cords in mid-May when really you want to know how to wear sundresses and straw hats?

24 May 2011 - Plaid

Anyway, today I was actually feeling motivated enough to pull on a dress, a belt, and some cute flats. Pretty good considering there is a 70% chance of rain. Oh well, it’s time for me to bundle up for another afternoon of coaching in the drizzle. I probably will change out of these super comfy flats in favor of some waterproof sneakers, but who wants to see pictures of those?

- L.

Olive Banana Republic Flats

Category: Dresses for Day, Layers Upon Layers, Our Best Flatware, Teaching Outfits
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23 May 2011 – Take Two

May 23rd, 2011 § 7 comments §

23 May 2011 - Grape


  • Olive top: thrifted
  • Feather necklace: Tilly Bloom
  • Belt: swapped
  • Skirt: thrifted dress, cut into a skirt
  • Flats: Target, thrifted new

End Notes:

(It’s day 2 of my 15 for at least 15 mini challenge.)

It’s rare that “what the models are wearing” and “what the pregnant work-from-home mom is wearing” ever coincides. And yet, as I continue to pursue my new fascination with midi-length skirts, I find out that Selita Ebanks and I were basically wardrobe twins in high-waisted, full knee-length skirts and drapey tops. Except, of course, I’m wearing mostly thrifted jersey pieces and flats and she is…not.

23 May 2011 - Grape

Fun fact. In the winter of 1970, Paris fashion shows emphasized midi-skirt lengths as a direct and dramatic move away from the mini skirt that had dominated the 1960s. This did not go over so well. In fact, Life Magazine published a cover story bemoaning the loss of youthfulness and sexual allure symbolized by the mini. Nicola White, in her book The Fashion Business: Theory, Practice, and Image, suggests that many American women saw the midi skirt as a symbol of fashion’s excesses and as a result largely disregarded Paris’s style decree. Other women the longer skirt decree — and its associated connotations as “more feminine,” “conservative,” or “demure,” — as an attempt to tamp down on the sexual freedom women were claiming at that time. Do you think that these associations still remain strong today? And how much does context (both of where we see it and whose body it’s on) play into that interpretation?

Category: Color Combinations, Maternity Style, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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