Resource File: Our Favorite DIYs and Weekend Workshops

July 27th, 2011 § 3 comments §

One of the great things about the internet and the blossoming of the blogosphere is the amount of information and inspiration that is now at our fingertips. We, in our little corner of the web, have over the years hopefully sparked some ideas for your own do-it-yourself projects. None of us are expert sewers or crafters, but we’ve still dabbled in creating or reimagining garments, crafting storage solutions, and making a few extra pretty things along the way. Beyond concrete DIY projects, we’ve also tried to be self-conscious about showing you our thought processes for more amorphous projects like “What do you pack for a research year abroad?” or “What do you wear to an academic conference?” Here we’ve compiled some of our personal favorites and hope you still find them as useful as we do!

Do It Yourself

19 April 2010 - A Pocket Full of Allergy Meds 9 May 2009 - Evening Shower

E. shows you how she made a tank dress — with pockets! and turns a maxi halter dress into a knee-length dress with draped kimono sleeves

Paper bag waist Target dress before

E.’s guide to re-fashioning existing garments

DIY Embellished Ts

DIY: cardigan embellished with Amy Butler fabric DIY Cardigan

E. embellishes a cardigan with applique and A. sews on some rosettes for a change

30 March 2011 - Maternity top 'After' picture 3 September 2009 - Independent Study

S. elasticizes the bottom of a shirt for maternity wear and E. shows us how to “skinny” your jeans

Home-made Bouquet
DIY: The Wedding Collection

DIY Jewelry Hanger - detail Paper Flowers

How to make a simple jewelry hanger and How to make tissue paper flowers

Weekend Workshops

How to re-purpose your jewelry

On the Road Again: Packing for Anything

Arty Top + Skinny Jeans24 April 2009 - Evening

Finding Wardrobe Inspiration

Skirts Dresses Sweaters and Cardis Tops Accessories

Capsule Wardrobe Roundup

Click here for a full listing of our How Tos and here for additional DIYs and look here for more Weekend Workshops!

Category: Independent Study (DIY), Resources, Taking Notes, Weekend Workshops

Weekend Workshop: My Best Friend’s Wedding

July 16th, 2011 § 17 comments §

What Do You Wear to a Wedding?

Ask this question and you’ll get about a hundred different answers: Don’t wear black, Don’t wear white, Don’t show too much skin, Don’t wear a pattern, Don’t wear something too tight, Don’t wear bright colors, AND no matter what, Don’t show up the bride!

Well, did any of those answers help you? With the exception of “don’t wear something too tight”, which is always a good piece of advice, none of those answers helped me either. Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t that bad – at least your dress is picked out for you in advance – even if it is pink, poofy, sparkly, or any other number of things, at least you don’t have to ask yourself, “What, oh what, will I wear to this wedding?!” In an effort to give just a small bit of guidance, we at Academichic wanted to provide you with a few ideas based on the many weddings we’ve attended (or hosted in the case of A. and S.).


Spring and Summer Weddings

A few summers ago we answered What to Wear to a Beach Wedding. We recommending things like: “Brighter colors and prints are more easily made beach appropriate but can just as easily become formal as black or grays” and “look for silk or chiffon blends. Try to avoid 100% cotton – it’s easier to dress down a silk-blend fabric than it is to dress up a cotton dress.” S. debated the taboo against certain colors and decided on a black dress for one wedding and a pink dress for another summer wedding last year. E. too opted for a bright hue for a Labor Day weekend wedding, and of course, A. wore a gorgeous sapphire colored sheath dress for S.’s wedding.

Labor Day Weekend Wedding 2 June 2010 28 June 2010 - Outdoor Wedding 4 August 2009

As it happens, I (L.) had the chance recently to put this advice to the test because prior to my departure for Peru, I had the pleasure of attending my best friend’s wedding on Cape Cod. The wedding was on the beach and the reception was under a tent on the lawn of her yacht club. I wanted to wear something dressier than a sundress, but not overly formal (or hot) for the beach. I knew Ab’s dress, from BCBG via Nordstrom, was long and flowy and had flowers on the skirt. My only restrictions were that I had to wear flats due to the sand and grass, and I wanted to stay away from blue since I knew that was what the bridesmaids were wearing. I settled on a bright, cheerful, printed, vintage Nicole Miller halter dress that I’d bought at a consignment shop two summers ago.

Mom, the Bride, and Me Me and the Bride

The wedding was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, and Ab looked amazing. After the ceremony they walked off together down the beach, happily ever after. Congratulations Ab and Eb!

Walking off down the beach

Fall and Winter Weddings
While the majority of weddings are still probably in the spring and summer, there are more and more cropping up in the cooler months. E. and A. attended weddings in Colorado and Montana where the temperatures varied from the 50s to almost the 30s at night.

6 September 2009 - Mountain Wedding 14 March 2009 - Wedding Outfit

While some fall weddings are held outside, most winter weddings are indoor affairs and lend themselves to being a touch more formal. A. added some bling for another of her winter wedding outfits, and shoes are another way to dress up a look. For A. and A2′s wedding reception last fall, the Chics varied from black taffeta cocktail dress on L. to a red-orange jersey dress refashioned by E. The cooler temperatures can also mean layering more either on top with a wrap or sweater or under with tights like E. did for a wedding last fall.

Academichic Partying

9 October 2009 Wedding Attire - the Preggers Version Fall Wedding

Ultimately, what really matters in your wedding attire is that you feel beautiful and happy (and comfy enough to dance the night away!). Not all “rules” suit all people, and the only guidelines that you have to go by are your own. We hope that seeing some of our sartorial choices will inspire yours, but we, like you, are still figuring things out, one dress at a time. What will you be wearing to your next wedding?

Category: Dresses for Day, Dresses for Evening, Weekend Workshops
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Book By Its Cover: Round Table

June 4th, 2011 § 14 comments §

A couple of weeks ago I, E., got dressed like a book cover. And then, to make herself feel like she was in good nerd company, she invited others to transform a book cover into an outfit. Thankfully, she’s not the only nutty one out there.

Quest for Fashion Sense was inspired by James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks and channeled the the “colorful yet dark and forbidding looking” cover into a colorful but edgy outfit that makes great use of layering.


  • H&M Corduroy Jacket
  • Esprit Cami
  • Max Rave Red Jersey Dress
  • Grey Leggings
  • Mossimo Over the Knee Boots
  • Silver Feather Earrings (gift from a friend)
  • Blue Flower Ring (gift from a friend)

Miss B from Missing From Academia found inspiration in the Stephen King novel Wizard and Glass, creating an outfit in dusky, mysterious hues with a bit of shine.


  • Novel: Wizard and Glass, Stephen King
  • Outfit: (if this is relevant)
  • Knit Skirt: Target
  • Button Up: Limited
  • Patterned Tank: New York and Co.
  • Scarf: Thrifted
  • Shoes: Charlotte Russe

Emily of Academica Sartorial chose Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead as her launching point. She writes, “The neutrals with coralish red were there in my outfit, as well as the geometric patterns in both the book cover and the headband. And I felt a little 1940s, which is when The Fountainhead was written.”


  • Dress: Gap
  • Cardigan: Target
  • Shoes: Target
  • Belt: vintage
  • Necklace: Brian Moody
  • Headband: gift

Demeiza was inspired by the riotous cover of Samantha Harrison and Bari Kumar’s book India Bazaar and the outfit she put together — including an armful of bangles, a patterned scarf, and a t-shirt screenprinted with the image of a squirrel on a motorbike — helped brighten up a day of reading and writing since it reminded her of her own visits to South Asia.

As a grad student in literary history, Kristin found the cover and content of Albert Camus’ essay collection Resistance, Rebellion, and Death to be a compelling choice. A simple v-neck tee and vest are reminiscent of the graphic quality of the book cover, and I like to think that the bare feet are part of the “resistance, rebellion!”

Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous had double the inspiration! She put together an outfit of blues and greys with a patterned silk scarf to mimic the covers of Ancient Denvers: Scenes from the Past 300 Million Years of the Colorado Front Range by Kirk Johnson and No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod.


  • Grey dress – thrifted
  • Blue cardigan – Target
  • Blue, cream and tan belt – thrifted
  • Blue and cream silk scarf – thrifted
  • Blue and white silk scarf – thrifted
  • Blue ballet flats – Old Navy
  • Turquoise “coral” earrings – World Market

But then, she also realized that back in November she had dressed like one of her old etymology text books!

I can’t say that I ever thought of dressing like a science textbook, but I am SO glad that Katie did. Isn’t it a fun cover and outfit?

Salazar from 14 Shades of Grey took inspiration from a book that she bought because of the cover in the first place — Sally Gardner’s, I, Coriander — and created a soft but playful outfit mixing shades of green and floral motifs.


  • Blouse: from home, remixed
  • Cardigan: thrifted, remixed
  • Jeans: The Limited thrifted, remixed
  • Flats: Me Too, thrifted
  • Belt: thrifted
  • Flower Pin: self-made, from Michael’s fabric flower

Katie from Striped Socks Play Ping Pong chose the graphic silhouette cover of Phill Gatenby and Craig Gill’s The Manchester Musical History Tour as her starting point. She layered a cool, angle-seamed scarf over a little black dress to mimic the one point perspective on the cover and then added a sweet little silhouetted bicycle pendant and graphic ring as accessories.

Page found inspiration in the cover of Fanny by Erica Jong, one of her all-time favorite reads. Not only does her outfit reflect the color palette of the cover…it also embraces the spirit of the title character.

Finally, you can see Emma from in her Flickr stream here. (Sorry, Emma, I couldn’t download the picture itself!)

I hope I got everyone who sent int submissions, and thanks, everyone, for playing along! It was fun for us to see what you all came up with!

Category: Visiting Lecturer, Wardrobe Challenge, Weekend Workshops
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Weekend Workshop: A Capsule Wardrobe

May 21st, 2011 § 3 comments §


Sometimes the best moments of creativity come when you’re forced to make-do with limited resources. At various times the various contributors to academichic have experimented with capsule wardrobes.

And more loosely, we’ve outlined what we think to be our wardrobe essentials and our wardrobe workhorses:

There’s simply not a “right” way to create a capsule wardrobe and there are LOTS of Google-able resources out there for picking what you’ll need for various types of travel or for your lifestyle. Still, I (E.) think that there are a few considerations that are relevant no matter what your reason for living with a small closet.

  • Consider your lifestyle needs. For the next couple of months, before I begin teaching a summer course, I’ll be spending most days at home, either caring for little e. or writing a dissertation chapter. Thus, I don’t really need to worry about incorporating items like dress pants and multiple blazers into the mix.
  • Consider shape and silhouette. Things could get old fast if all select four skirts…that all happen to be pencil skirts. Try to include a range of silhouettes, not just the one that you love the most.
  • Consider color. Here I don’t necessarily mean that you should pick a color scheme (though you could). I do think, however, that it’s worth reconsidering that navy top if you’re already including navy shorts and a navy skirt. If one color is too dominant, you won’t have as much to mix.

Now I‘m embarking on a capsule wardrobe maternity challenge, making at least 15 outfits from 15 garments (not including shoes and accessories) in an effort to minimize “nothing fits anymore” closet angst and inspire creativity. Stay tuned for my list of 15 picks tomorrow…

Category: Wardrobe Challenge, Weekend Workshops
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Weekend Workshop: Packing for a Family Road Trip

May 7th, 2011 § 18 comments §

I’ve been traveling a lot this semester, both alone and with my family. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on family packing, but I have picked up a few tips worth sharing with anyone who’s taking charge of packing for more than just yourself.


Ultimately, packing is a really personal process, and so much is dependent on how you rank your priorities. Is it more important to you to avoid baggage check fees or to be able to get on and off a plane with as little as possible? Would you prefer to bring everything with you or buy some things when you get there? I think that the key to successful packing is being as honest with yourself as possible over what you need, what you’d prefer, and what you’re willing to sacrifice.

My process tends to go something like this…

Plan Ahead:

I’m an obsessive list-maker, so for trips like this one I make a list of different events (meeting with former professors, commencement ceremony, family celebration dinner, mother’s day brunch, etc.) and then figure out what level of fanciness is appropriate. For example, the previous list of events meant that I was going to be needing casual and could-be-dressed-up dresses plus a separates option or two.

Then, I apply my very sophisticated “throw all the clothes I’m drawn to right now on the bed and see what happens” technique (illustrated above). As the name suggests, I start pulling out clothes that fit those general parameters and that I find appealing or inspiring at that moment. Then, I try to create outfits from the pile, removing or adding items in order to create an overall color palette to give me as many on-the-road options as possible.

Now, packing for N. and little e. in addition adds another layer of planning. I still make a list of needed items and throw their clothes into the pile on my bed, but for a weekend like this one — where I know there will be a lot of family photo opportunities — I also try to create some coherency (but not matchy-matchy-ness) between all our outfits.

For example, one event we’ll be attending is a mother’s day brunch and birthday party for N.’s grandmother. There will be lots of family there, and many photos will inevitably be taken. One option would be for N. to wear a white and olive striped button down and brown pants, while little e. rocks his navy polo and gray chinos. I could pull together the blue and green with my graphic floral pattern dress.

Mother's Day Brunch Option #2

Or…baby e. could wear his plaid button down and pattern mix with his dad’s blue and green patterned button down. Meanwhile, I could add some warmth with my salmon midi skirt and gray salmon top or with my bright red-orange dress.

Mother's Day Brunch Graduation

Any of these items could mix with any of the others, and all could be appropriate for several of our weekend events. Packing this way satisfies my inner planning-nerd without sacrificing that creative moment of coming up with an outfit “the day of.” Gotta keep the magic alive.


I’ve become a stronger believer in packing cubes recently. It helps to have all of little e.’s little clothes in one neat, zippered cube, otherwise they have a tendency to get lost in the maw of the bigger bag.

Packing Cubes

Meanwhile, keeping N.’s and my underwear, socks, and pajamas in another cube helps us find necessities and keep track of what’s clean and what’s dirty. Honestly, I don’t think that these packing cubes necessarily make for the most efficient use of space, but I appreciate them as sanity-savers.

Smart Supplies:

For this road trip I made little e. a “bucket of fun,” containing his mini magnetic doodle pad, some play planes and a helicopter, his baby owl puppet, and a few board books. I also packed a bag full of an array of healthy snacks for the road that could be easily accessible during the drive. Little e. did, indeed, appreciate these provisions.

Bag O' Fun

Although it’s more “stuff” to bring along — and I wouldn’t have packed this volume for an airline flight — the revolving set of options was worth it for a road trip.

What packing tips for family travel do you have?

Category: Weekend Workshops
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Weekend Workshop: From Day to Date

April 30th, 2011 § 6 comments §

When I get the rare chance for a week-night date I take it!  Even if that means busting it home from wherever I am and switching gears from day to date in only a few minutes.  I often find myself sprucing up a day outfit to make it more date-ready so I though I would share a few of my strategies in today’s Weekend Workshop.


Usually it doesn’t take much for me to feel a little more evening appropriate, a little more fun, and very far from campus.  A quick switch of shoes, scarf, and bag and the addition on some jewelry can make all the difference.  During the day, the realities of running around campus and carrying a all my daily needs, mean I often opt for flats or boots and a large tote bag (usually my beloved Trubador tote from Crystalyn Kae):


So, to easily take this outfit up a few notches, I slip on my crinkled patten pumps, add a sparkly necklace, and freshen up my make up.  I also usually spruce up my hair a bit too.


Finally, I add a pashmina and a swap out the large tote for a sparkly clutch, just big enough for the evening essentials, and I’m ready to go!

Sometimes your daytime activity is just too different from your evening plans to make a these simple switches possible but for a quick transition, swapping and or adding accessories can easily take most ensembles from day to date-ready.

The easiest and most common switch for me is  a shoe switch.  While I do have a few pairs of go-to heels (and wedges) that I will wear to campus I’m never one to pick heels for a day or errands or for a non-teaching day on campus.  I think this makes slipping those heels on in the evening have a greater effect on transitioning my mood to date-ready.

Lucky Jeans w/ Boots As Luck Would Have It...

Switching out my scarf is another common swap for me.  This is mostly because I have a large scarf collection and it’s an easy way to change the look of a outfit built of simple basics (my usual). For a transition from babysitting to a casual date, I traded my wellies for olive pumps, buttoned up my cardigan, added big earrings, and swapped out a bulky playful scarf for a dressier (but still bright and fun) silk scarf.

16 November 2010 - Day to Evening 16 November 2010 - Day to Evening
I hope you enjoyed these simple tips for quickly switching up your looks in order to leave your day behind you and enjoy an evening out.  As always, we would love to hear how your tips for transition from day to date too!

Category: Night Without Grading, Weekend Workshops
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Weekend Workshop: Fashion for the Rainy Season

April 16th, 2011 § 17 comments §

April showers bring May flowers. Or so we hope. For now, if you’re also going through the rainy season, here are some tips to staying dry and stylish…

28 March 2009 - My Rainy Saturday

1) Get a trusty raincoat that can be your go-to cover up item for rainy days. A raincoat does not need to be sporty, shapeless, or boring. We love raincoats that have a trench coat style to them that is classic and timeless. This type of cut can be dressed down with jeans or look formal enough to go with a dress and pair of heels. We’re also fans of the boldly colored raincoat that adds that much needed dose of sunshine to an otherwise dreary rainy day.

2) If you’re more comfortable in neutrals and softer colors, find a raincoat in a subdued hue that will go with most anything you layer underneath. (And you can always use your umbrella for that fun pop of color).

31 March 2009 - Let it rain!

3) Aquire a quality pair of waterproof boots, aka, ‘wellies’. While S. loves her fun doggie-adorned J.Crew wellies, she does limit her wear of them to casual outfits and non-teaching days.

28 March 2009 - Rainy Saturday
Rainy days

A., however, makes her elegant black and brown Banana Republic wellies function with casual looks as well as dressier, work-appropriate ensembles.

18 January 2010
4 January 2010

E., too, has figured out how to make her Hunter wellies function perfectly with skirts and embellished cardigans.

8 February 2010
Hunter Wellies

4) Lastly, carry an umbrella. As Murphy’s Law dictates, it will rain if you don’t have one on you but will not rain if you’re bregudgingly carrying an umbrella in your bag or purse.

16 June 2009 - Rainy day bike ride

What are your rainy day tips? Any favorites for the rainy season that you’d like to share with our readers? Thank you and stay dry out there!

Category: Weekend Workshops
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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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Weekend Workshop: On Questions of Travel

April 2nd, 2011 § 10 comments §

By land, by air or by sea, whether you are traveling over a school break, gearing up for a summer trip, or just found out you’ll be spending a research year abroad there are always myriad questions one asks when preparing to travel. What should I pack? What should I wear on the plane/train/boat/car ride? How formal will I need to be? What outwear should I bring? How many shoes will I need? and finally, How on earth am I going to get all this stuff into one bag?? Elizabeth Bishop has a few more philosophical questions in her poem “Questions of Travel”:

Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?

This is one of my favorite poems, and while I (L.) have no answers for Bishop’s questions, I have compiled a few tips on the more basic travel and packing questions mentioned above.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Category: It's in the Bag, Sabbatical, Taking Notes, Weekend Workshops
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Weekend Workshop: Bold Colors

March 19th, 2011 § 6 comments §

Seeing how BOLD COLOR is one of the anticipated 2011 Spring Trends, we decided to revisit our color wheel of clothes and review how we make color work for us.

{images from NY Fashion Week courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar}

When we first began academichic, we decided to articulate our use of color in terms of color theory and a clear methodology (yes, we’re nerdy academics that way). To begin this process, we created a handy color wheel made of garments found in our closet and S.’s best dinner china…

Color Wheel of Clothes

Then we approached the different color combinations individually and formulated some guidelines for how to make them work for us. Monochrome color combos (as featured on the runway during New York’s fashion week and pictured above) can be especially tricky since one can end up looking a bit caroonish dressed head to toe in one hue. Here is how we initially theorized getting dressed in monochrome and here are some of our favorite looks demonstrating that…

23 February 2009 24 February 2009 - Shades of Pink 23 August 2010 - Rainy Days and Mondays

Of course, monochrome is easier done when you have one garment (like a dress) doing all the work for you…

6 February 2009 - Evening 23 March 2009 30 Weeks!

A close friend to monochrome is the analogous color combination. Read our explanation of analogous color pairings here and see some examples below…

2010 Academichic - 27 August 7 October 2009 - My Birthday Suit! 30 March 2009 - Fitting In

But this Spring’s trend isn’t just about monochrome or colors that are neighborly on the color wheel. We’re also seeing a good amount of bold and punchy color mixes, which are usually a result of complementary color combinations or the ever challenging triad.

Can you spot the complementary color pairing in these outfits?
30 July 2010 - Complements 6 February 2009 First Day of School, 2010
How about the triads?

16 February 2009 13 August 2010 - Turqouise Triad

It’s not like we need the excuse, but we do love that this season’s ‘trend’ is one that we can more than get behind. We’ll be pulling out our brightest and boldest just in time to celebrate the end of Winter. How about you? What bright colors are you embracing for Spring?

Category: Color Combinations, Weekend Workshops
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