To Chop or Not to Chop

July 28th, 2011 § 11 comments §

Plaid Skirt made from Dress

Sources:

Above

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

Below

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

Endnotes:

I hope you don’t mind, but I decided to squeeze in one more post before my Top Ten/Goodbye post.  I wanted to fit this in because it answered some of the questions you all asked and because I’m kind of proud of my very minimal (but improving) DIY clothing skills (DIY house skills are another story).

As many of you noticed, I have chopped many a dresses into skirts. I’ve also worn a few dresses as skirts by layering a top over them.  So, how do I decided to chop something vs. leave it as a dress but layer over it?  Well I won’t chop it if I can see myself wearing it as a dress, even if that means always with a cardigan over it.  If the proportions of the garment as a dress work for me, I leave it as a dress.  Most of the dresses I have chopped into skirts had proportions that just didn’t work right for me. In the case of my full blue skirt and my white and black floral skirt, as dresses they had empire waists and were a little too short on me.  Chopping off the tops allowed me to lower the waist line and the hemline with minimal effort. In the case of my powder-blue midi skirt, it was an over-all unflattering fit with a smocked top and a skinny halter top, so I just chopped the very top off and use the smocking as anew fold-over waist band.  For the skirt above, I thrifted the dress very cheaply and while I thought it would work as a dress, I didn’t love the silhouette one I wore it out. So, I chopped the top off and left the elastic waist which now sits a bit lower (at my natural waist). 

Black dress chopped to skirt

With each of these, I simply took out a pair of scissors and chopped just above the original waist line.  The seem or elastic has then served as my we waist line, which sits where I want it to.  I left the tops unsewn – in part because I knew I would always wear a belt with the and in part because I had no idea how to even start finishing off the edges.I think this solution is a perfect one, and I’ll likely keep chopping old dresses or newly thrifted ones to make them work better in my wardrobe.

Plaid Skirt made from Dress

However, simply chopping and belting won’t work for every garment, so it was time to give the sewing machine a whirl!

Black dress chopped to skirt

I received  sewing machine for Christmas this past year (very much inspired by E. and all the other crafty blogers out there).  E. generously gave me a tutorial and even started me on my own tank-dress with pockets.  But then life got busy and we haven’t finished our lessons or my tank-dress. So, I decided I needed to just experimiment.  With the help of A2 I’ve started playing around and even managed to make baby e. (E.’s son) and little gift for his birthday. It was time to try the oh so intimidating clothing sew!  I grabbed a black sun dress from a clothing swap even though it was about 3 sizes too big for me not a style I could see myself wearing – it had potential.  This free item that I definitely wasn’t wearing as is, seemed like the perfect candidate for an experiment. I decided to turn it into a full black skirt.  I started by chopping off the top, but that left me with a skirt that was very a-line, didn’t fit my waist, and was several inches too long.  It had to be sewn!  So, I pulled out my limited sewing supplies (notice I used a permenent marker instead of a fabric pen/chalk) and measured an existing full skirt to figure out my length.  Since the bottom had a nice hem on it and the top needed to be changed in some way anyway, I took the length off by chopping more from the top.  This of course left me with an even bigger waist.
tank + chopped dresssupplies

But, this also meant I could make the skirt fuller.  So, I turned to E.’s tank-dress tutorial again and loosely followed her directions for gathering the skir and attaching a tank to it. Since I didn’t want this to be a a tank dress, I used an old tank that I don’t wear and choped it’s bottom off.  I used the bottom hem of the tank as the top of my new stretchy waistband

new waist band

Not the best sewing job, but good practice.  And, let’s be honest, I’m still always going to wear a belt with it!

I hope this has encouraged you to take a few risks and pull out you scissors one in awhile when that dress just isn’t working anymore!

 

Black dress chopped to skirt

Category: Independent Study (DIY), Proportionally, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Weekend Wear
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Trying to Stay Cool in the Midwest

July 18th, 2011 § 10 comments §

Floral Skirt

Sources:

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

A.

Floral Skirt

Category: Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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12 July 2011 – Three Cheers!

July 12th, 2011 § 8 comments §

11 July 2011 - 3 Bests

Sources:

  • Tank: Banana Republic
  • Skirt: BR Outlet
  • Belt: J. Crew
  • Shoes: Gap Outlet

Endnotes:
I’m a little late in finishing up my Dress Your Best picks, and today I’m giving three cheers to my waist, my nose, and my shoulders. It probably comes as no surprise that I’d pick my waist as a “best” because of my obsession with belts and belting. However, I didn’t even know I had a waist until last year. I have always had a butt thanks to sports, but my waist didn’t whittle down until I was well into my 20s during a time when several factors caused my body shape and weight to completely change. I found that defining my waist took advantage of my new shape, and now of course I find it very hard NOT to belt things! As for my nose, it’s a perfect combination of my mom’s and my dad’s. Depending on which parent I’m with, people will often remark, “oh, this MUST be your daughter!” It’s pretty hard to “dress” for your nose, but since it is right in the middle of my face, I’d say I dress for it everyday.

11 July 2011 - 3 Bests

Finally my arms. They’ve always been strong and toned thanks to hours lifting weight for lacrosse and now thanks to hour spent running and cross-training. In fact, I’m the “friend” that A. was talking about last year in her post about her arms. I love showing them off when I can in the summer with tanks or halter tops.

11 July 2011 - Showing Off My Arms

I realized during the Dress Your Best challenge that I was already dressing to show off my best parts, and for some reason it makes me sound conceited to say that there are many more than five parts of myself that I love. I feel like I’m bragging by identifying myself as A.’s “super-armed” friend, but isn’t that what DYB is all about? I know that many blogs talk about the vicious circle of body-bashing that women can get in to, but why is it so hard to admit that I love my body? I always valued whatever it looked like because I knew it was allowing me to do things like play sports or climb mountains – Do I ever wish I had a bigger chest? Yes. Am I thankful that my chest is small and is easily contained in a sports bra? Yes. Do I sometimes wish my thighs were smaller? Certainly. Do I love seeing my quad muscles flex when I’m running or climbing or just walking up stairs? You betcha! I guess what I’ve learned from this exercise is that whether you struggle to find the parts you love or love all the parts you have, no one loves everything all the time BUT it’s not bragging to admit what you do love… that’s perfectly O.K too.

Dressing Up My Collarbone

Category: Dress Your Best, Our Best Flatware, Research Casual, Skirting the Issue
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A Hand for My Hands

June 28th, 2011 § 10 comments §

A Hand for My Hands

Sources:

  • 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.

Endnotes:

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
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23 June 2011 – Dressing My Best

June 23rd, 2011 § 9 comments §

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best

Sources:

  • Button-down – swapped
  • Belt – gift from Mom (Anthropologie)
  • Skirt – J Crew
  • Tank – Banana Republic
  • Flats – DSW
  • Earrings – Gift from S.

Endnotes:

As I said, after my yoga mat body scan, I had a list of things I love about my body, both big and small.  An intimate, funny, hopeful, and reflective list that I will try to remember to keep mentally close to me.  A list I am here publicly vowing to recreate whenever I’m not feeling my best.  While I won’t be sharing the whole (very personal) list with you, I am planning on highlighting some of the parts from that list.  But, for my first DYB contribution, I want to celebrate my body shape as a whole.

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best

As my proportions silhouette reveals, I have a small waist, wide hips, a big butt and thighs, and broad shoulders.  I am an hour glass.   While this is indeed a “classic” silhouette and does fit many Western ideals of beauty, it is not currently a very popular body-type.  By that, I mean you won’t find too many hourglasses in the pages of J Crew.  Most contemporary clothing is made for a straighter line.  So, more vintage or classic silhouettes often look great on me. Yet, there are all sorts of rules out there for my body type that don’t match up with these looks.  Because of my broad shoulders, I’m not supposed to wear puffed sleeves.  A larger bottom half should not be clothed in white.  Full hipped women aren’t supposed to wear fabrics that stick out from the body. I’m sure there are others!  Well nothing about me is straight (pun intended) and I’m not all that great with rules, so…

23 June 2011 - Dressing My Best

I’m wearing puffed sleeves and a skirt that is full, white, and made of crisp stiff cotton and I am loving the way my body looks – broad shoulders, wide hips, small waist and all!

What body shape rules do you break?

[This is my fourth blue and white striped outfit -- three more coming!]

Category: Dress Your Best, Our Best Flatware, Proportionally, Skirting the Issue
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Stripes #3 & #4

June 14th, 2011 § 5 comments §

Sripes Take 3Stripes Take 4

Sources:

Take #3:

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

Take #4:

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

Endnotes:

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

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

A.

Stripes Take 4

Category: Color Combinations, Our Best Flatware, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, The Short of It, Weekend Wear
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8 June 2011 – Stripes Take 1

June 8th, 2011 § 8 comments §

8 June 2011 - Stripes Take 1

Sources:

  • Skirt – self chopped from a Gap Outlet dress
  • Striped cardigan – thrifted a year ago
  • Navy Belt – thrifted a month ago
  • White Tank – Banana Republic
  • Navy studded flats – Banana Republic

Endnotes:

This is the first outfit of my self-imposed blue and white stripes challenge.  I have to admit, while I had several outfits already in mind when I announced this challenge to the blog world, none of them seemed right this morning and I panicked.  Why had I told everyone I would do this!?  And, why did I have so many blue and white striped items that suddenly went with nothing else in my wardrobe!?  But, since I needed to get out the door eventually, I decided the best approach was to settle of the blue and white stripped piece and then work from there.  I love the bright blue color and the vintage style of this little thrifted cardigan.

Blue and White and Blue

I think I tried pairing this little cardigan with at least five things before choosing this equally bright (but not the same shade) blue skirt.  In the end this outfit was mostly decided by silhouette.  The cardigan is cropped and the wide white waist band emphasizes it’s crop-ness and a bit full (puff sleeves and a tighter waist band then body). I found that I really did not like the way it looked with a slimmer bottom so I pulled out my full skirts and ended up with this all blue and white ensemble.

Hopefully getting dressed tomorrow will go a bit quicker, but I think this might prove that I do not in fact work better under limitations!  A.

Stripes #1

Category: Color Combinations, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Wardrobe Challenge
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6 June 2011 – Trying a Triad

June 6th, 2011 § 19 comments §

6 June 2011 - Trying a Triad

Sources:

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

Endnotes:

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!

Sources:

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

Endnotes:
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???

L.

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

Sources:

  • 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

Endnotes:
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?

L.

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