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
Tags: > >

A. on Shopping

July 21st, 2011 § 13 comments §

Chambry Dress


  • Dress – Lands End Canvas
  • Belt – from L.
  • Bag – Old Navy
  • Headband – J Crew
  • Sandals – H & M
  • Earrings – Banana Republic


Since this is not my last post, I’ll hold off on my goodbyes.  I would like to start addressing some of the (thought provoking, as to be expected) questions you all raised.  First, some thoughts on shopping.  This dress is the only new thing I have purchased all summer. I spent $10 at Goodwill in May and I can’t remember the last time I purchased something before that. I have to admit that this isn’t typical for me. Being a grad student, I’m always on a budget, but my expected summer funding fell through so now I am on an extra tight – counting my iced coffees kind – of budget.

So, how did I come to purchase this dress for almost $40? Well, I got the Lands End canvas catalog in the mail back in April and loved this chambray dress.  I showed it to my mom, my sister, friends, anyone who would look at it.  I thought about it.  I pulled it up online and looked at it there.  I imagined the various situations for which I could wear.  I looked at it online some more.  It went on sale.  I thought about it some more.  I got a coupon in the mail. I got dressed several mornings and thought: “that dress would be perfect for today.”  I told A2 I was thinking about ordering the dress online.  I thought about it some more.  Finally, three months after seeing the dress in the catalog, I broke down and bought it.  And, don’t think I didn’t consider sending it back.  So, yes this in an extreme version of my shopping neuroses, but not totally outside my norm.  I tend to agonize over any purchase over $20 and am notorious for my buyers remorse which has me bring a third of what I purchase back to the store.  Sorry, no great shopping strategies to share!  But, don’t you feel like you know me a bit better now?

So what are your shopping neuroses?


On another note, I got my haircut again.  A bit shorter this time.  And, I’m wearing headbands again!  Funny story: Years after S. and I had met and become close friends and well into this blog project, we were reminiscing about how we met and what drew us to each other.  We both wore Dansko’s.  I was a training for my second marathon and she had just started loving running.  She was super out-going and I was trying my best to survive in a class for German scholars.  And, apparently, she liked that I could pull off a headband!  Back then my hair was fairly short and I wore headbands on a fairly regular basis.  When S. told me this – probably just 6 month ago or so, I loved her that much more!  I’m going to miss sharing this special project with these incredible women.  Oops, I guess I’m getting all sad and nostalgic too.

Chambry Dress

Category: Dresses for Day, It's in the Bag, Weekend Wear
Tags: > > >

DIY Summer Shirt-Dress + More Blue and White Stripes

July 12th, 2011 § 10 comments §

DIY Summer Shirt-Dress + More Blue and White Stripes


  • Shirt – Gap
  • Dress – J Crew
  • Flats – Target
  • Earrings – Aldo


I promised there would be more blue and white stripes to come!  I wore this nautical (/patriotic?) ensemble on a much-needed date this past weekend.  We just went up to our local brewery for a casual dinner and some delicious beer and most people (including A2) were in shorts and a t-shirt. But, when a much-needed date comes around, you better believe I’m going to spruce it up a bit more than that.

I love summer dresses!  They are perfect for many of my favorite summer activities: casual date nights, summer parties, outdoor brunch, picnics, BBQs, music in the park, and so on.  I don’t have nearly enough casual summer dresses (I now have a decent selection for summer weddings),  but also don’t have the money for any new ones at the moment.  So, I decided to revisit my closet.

DIY Summer Shirt-Dress + More Blue and White Stripes

I have been particularly pining over summer shirt dresses with cap sleeves and popped collars – preferably in blue and white stripe pattern.  I’ve long loved this dress from Shabby Apple and for some reason this weekend the inspiration struck to try and recreate a similar look with pieces in my closet. So I pulled out a very old strapless white seersucker dress from J. Crew and this blue and white striped button-down shirt and started playing around with it.  I’m really happy with how the look came together and I think it approximates the Shabby Apple dress – full skirt, shirt collar, breast pockets, a tie at the waist, and of course, blue and white stripes.

I’m already thinking about other shirt + dress/skirt combinations that will give me a similar silhouette.  How are you creatively working with a summer budget?  A.

DIY Summer Shirt-Dress + More Blue and White Stripes

Category: Color Combinations, Dresses for Evening, Layers Upon Layers, Night Without Grading, Our Best Flatware, Weekend Wear
Tags: > > > > > >

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
Tags: > > >

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
Tags: > > >

A Hand for My Hands

June 28th, 2011 § 12 comments §

A Hand for My Hands


  • Tank – Ann Taylor Loft
  • Skirt – chopped from a J Crew Dress
  • Leather Belt – from L.
  • Stripped Belt – from another dress
  • Sandals – H & M
  • Pride Beads – Maui Street Fair
  • Earrings – Gift from S.


I warned you that due to my little yoga mat exercise I would be highlighting some pretty random parts during this round of DYB. Today I’m showing my hands some love.  I’ve always liked my hands, but would have never thought of them as something to celebrate on a style blog.  See, my hands are anything but ladylike.  They are large, tough, wrinkled, scarred, freckled.  I’ve had my nails manicured fewer times then I can count on my long, but less than slender, fingers.  I keep my nails super short and I often have dirt, compost, or paint under them. But, that’s just the way I like them!

Hands Hands

I’ve never much cared for long nails and nail polish just doesn’t last on these busy hands.   I have a big scar on my left hand that I have had since I was 9 or 10 and every summer more freckles seem to appear all over the tops of my hands.  I have very deep creases in my palms, which sweat when I’m anxious.  See, these are not the hands of a lady, but I love them just the same.

When I told A2 I was going to highlight my hands, she smiled and told me she loved my hands, especially my short well kept nails that always reveal what I’ve been up to that day.  She said I needed to photograph my hands holding a coffee cup, because when she thinks of my hands, she thinks of them wrapped around a coffee mug.

Do any of your body parts carry stories, reveal your secrets, or specially mark you as you? Are you giving them a gold star this week?

A Hand for My Hands

By the way, I’m counting this as blue and white striped outfit #7 even though it’s a bit of a stetch.  I do have a striped belt and a striped bag, but it’s not the outfit I had in mind. It’s just been too hot to pull out all my striped items.  Don’t worry they will make it out eventually.
A Hand for My Hands

Category: Dress Your Best, It's in the Bag, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Weekend Wear
Tags: > >

Sugar and Lust

June 27th, 2011 § 13 comments §



  • Shirt: Splendid via Filene’s Basement
  • Tank (under): Gap via thrift
  • Skinnies: Anne Taylor Loft
  • Shoes: Steve Madden via DSW

It might not be immediately obvious from this photo what exactly it is I’m dressing. Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. Instead of thinking about its tendency to poof out and curl in particularly annoying ways, I’m going to focus on the one thing that really makes it stand out: the color. I’ve been called everything from “copper top” to “fire bush” (by mean kids in high school) and my color has been described as anything from amber, auburn, red, or strawberry blonde all the way to chestnut and brown when it hasn’t gotten sun for a while. I like to showcase it off of turquoises, blues, and greens, which is why my striped turquoise shirt was perfect for this post.

Hair side

My hair sticks out in my family too. I’m the only one with it in my immediate family, which was pretty confusing for my mom and dad when I was born, and to be totally honest, they still don’t really know where it came from. I’ve been teased for my hair and praised for my hair. I’ve never dyed it because I’ve always been afraid that it will grow back another color (crazy, I know). I avoided orange and red clothes for a long time because I was told they “clashed” with my hair. It wasn’t until I read Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins that I fully embraced my color as special. I actually get pretty defensive when people try to tell me I don’t have red hair. I’m positive I’m a redhead ;)

Hair closeup

Robbins, also a redhead, has a character in this book who claims that “red hair is caused by sugar and lust.” He goes on to describe the flaming locks of the protagonist:

“…red being the color of emergency and roses; red being the prelate’s top and the baboon’s bottom; red being the blood’s color, jelly’s color; red maddening the bull, red bringing the bull down; red being the color of valentines, of left-handedness, and of a small princess’s new found guilty hobby. His hair was red, his cowboy boots muddy, his heart a hive of musical bees.”

Today I’m reveling in my color – whatever you call it, it’s mine.

Category: Dress Your Best, Our Best Flatware, Pants Please, Research Casual, Weekend Wear
Tags: > > > > > >

23 June 2011 – Putting Your Best Leg Forward

June 23rd, 2011 § 10 comments §

Dress Your Best - Legs


  • Sports-bra Tank: Nike
  • Shorts: Brooks
  • Socks: Smart Wool
  • Shoes: New Balance
  • Watch: Timex Expedition

Today I am paying homage to my legs, and while I certainly like how they look when I’m wearing a skirt and heels, I absolutely, hands down, feel like I look my best when I’m in my sports clothes. I suppose it is because I’ve always been an athlete, and for most of my life I’ve been on a team. I played soccer and lacrosse through high school, lacrosse for two years in college, and on various adult league teams since I graduated. I feel comfortable and confident on a field, which (most of the time) translates to feeling confident in other arenas of my life. I’ve met some of my best friends through sports and even played co-ed flag football in grad school to meet people outside my department. Unfortunately, in 2008 I tore my ACL (a ligament in the knee) while playing flag football and had to have surgery to repair it. More than anything else I was terrified at the thought that I wouldn’t be able to play sports any more, or at least not to the level that I wanted. So my appreciation for my legs is three-fold. I love how they look, I love what they do, and I love what they represent – my ability to overcome adversity.

Half Marathon Marathon 10k

After about 9 months of rehab I began running again, and since then, with A.’s encouragement as a training partner, have completed a half marathon, full marathon, and most recently a 10k (with my friend J.W.). I’m aiming to run another half marathon in the fall. So, THANK YOU legs, for all that you have done and continue to do — and you look darn good while doing it, if I do say so myself!

Eye on the Prize Have Run Many Miles

Category: Dress Your Best, Weekend Wear
Tags: >

16 June 2011 – Sarong

June 16th, 2011 § 6 comments §

16 June 2011 - Sarong


  • Swim suit: Banana Republic Outlet
  • Sarong: NEPALI by TDM Design
  • Sunglasses: Marc Jacobs

NEPALI by TDM Design is a company with which we have had a long relationship and whose products we have always enjoyed, so when they asked to be a part of our Boutique Consortium we were happy to have them! NEPALI was launched in 2007 with the mission of supporting Nepalese women through providing them above market compensation, access to healthcare and education, and at the same time presenting a line of accessories made from natural materials such as silk, cashmere, bamboo, modal and wool and eco-friendly azo-free dyes. As they state on their website “NEPALI by TDM Design’s accessories are eco-conscious, socially responsible and stylish at the same time.” We totally agree!

16 June 2011 - Sarong

I had seen on their website recently that they were marketing a bamboo scarf as a sarong, so I thought I’d give that a try with my oversized square scarf from this winter. I could have easily done what the model is doing if I’d folded it in half, but I wanted to keep the length, so I just rolled over the top to secure it. I also could have added a pin for a more certain hold. It worked well as a by-the-pool accessory, and when I started to get too much sun, I spread it over my shoulders and it was lightweight and breathable. I had no idea that it would be so great for all seasons. I’ll leave you with a few of NEPALI’s other scarves as worn by my fellow academichic ladies (click on images for same or similar scarves). What’s the most creative way you’ve worn or would wear one of these scarves?

20 November 2009 4 February 2010 6 February 2010 12 April 2010 - back 14 December 2010 Hippie Dippie Trippie

and of course, if there is any NEPALI scarf I could have I’d want their cashmere fishnet in mead yellow. Delicious!

Category: Academichic Sponsor, Resources, Weekend Wear
Tags: >

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
Tags: > > > > >