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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5 May 2011 – Spinning Lies

May 5th, 2011 § 10 comments §



  • Shirt (tunic): French Connection
  • Skirt: Calvin Klein outlet
  • Belt: mom’s
  • Shoes: Tahari via
  • Necklace: Gift

I believe that one of the most fun things in life is twirling around while wearing a very full skirt. This skirt lends itself to playful swishing, swooshing, and all out spins. I had wanted to wear this shirt/tunic again, and I realized that the teal and lavender of the shirt would look great with this skirt and obi belt.


I’m sorry I haven’t been writing very lengthy posts lately, but much like everyone at this time of year, I’m crunched for time as the academic calendar winds down and tests, papers, and projects roll in my door. Sometimes a bright, sun-shiny top, or pop of color, or comfortable stand-by is what gets me through. Other times a full, fancy, almost bustled skirt will do the trick and I can twirl, twirl, twirl myself right into a happy mood. It makes me think I’m a carefree kid again – not like I was exactly twirling around as a kid all the time – but again, too many cotton commercials have conned me into believing that I wore cute summer dresses and spent lazy afternoons rolling down grassy slopes and swinging around to see my skirt flutter around me. Even if it didn’t happen, isn’t it ok to dream? As Miriam Toews put it in her beautiful novel A Complicated Kindness, “The stories that I have told myself are bleeding into a dream, finally, that is slowly coming true… Is it wrong to trust in a beautiful lie if it helps you get through life.”

Twirl side

What do you all think? If we’re talking about more than mixing up your memories, is it wrong to trust in a beautiful lie if it helps you get through life? What “lies” do you believe in?


Category: Color Combinations, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits, Theoretical
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3 May 2011 – Stripes on Stripes

May 3rd, 2011 § 9 comments §

3 May 2011


  • Cardigan – Banana Republic
  • Tank – thrifted
  • Belt – Gap
  • Skirt – Gap
  • Wedges – Kenneth Cole Reaction
  • Earrings – Island souvenir
  • Bangle – Gap Outlet


I feel like this is a very me outfit – I’m wearing my favorite wedges, my workhouse cardigan, by beloved full pinstriped skirt, and of course, stripes are the one pattern I wear a fair amount of.  But, I have to admit, this outfit was totally inspired by E.  I loved how she paired her vertically striped skirt with her horizontally red and white striped top and finished the look off with heels and and a cardigan  As soon as I saw it I knew I would be recreating it soon.

I thrifted this red and oatmeal striped tank with a ruffle detail last month with this outfit in mind.  I think it even mimics the fun detail E. added with the flower earring as broach.


I of course stuck with a mix of neutrals and added a belt to make it a bit more me, but I did add a yellow bangle as another nod to E.’s style. I even captured some wind blown shots, though nowhere near as glamorous as E.’s Marilyn Monroe meets Nike of Samothrace.

Windy Days Windy Days

Thanks as always for the inspiration E.!

How about you readers, do you so unabashedly copy your friends’ style?

3 May 2011

Category: Office Hours, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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Houston to Honolulu

January 8th, 2011 § 3 comments §

Houston, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Top: JCrew
  • Cardigan: Forever21
  • Jeans: Old Navy
  • Flats: Target

End Notes:

I have really been enjoying my extended vacation over winter break. After a really, really full academic year that included quite a few significant milestones — finishing coursework, finishing my last language requirement, passing my comprehensive exams, submitting my Title, Scope, and Procedure form — I have allowed myself to take a true break and just breathe a little.

In Houston, this breezier state of mind manifested itself in belt-free outfits: longer shirts and a draped open cardigan. In Honolulu, it’s frequently taken the form of full, swishy skirts and warm, yummy colors.

While I am ready and motivated to begin working on my dissertation again, I can’t say that that I’m ready to jump back into below-freezing Midwest temperatures and all the many layers it requires. I’ll be hanging loose for a few more days…


  • Cardigan: Target
  • Top: Anthropologie
  • Belt: Gap Outlet
  • Skirt: Banana Republic Factory
  • Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell

Category: Pants Please, Sabbatical, Skirting the Issue
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Birthday Splash

January 3rd, 2011 § 22 comments §

Birthday Splash, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Tank: Forever 21
  • Skirt: Anthropologie, with birthday money!
  • Sandals: Jeffrey Campbell
  • Earrings: gift from brothers

End Notes:

I love it when I get to spend my birthday in my favorite place: back home on Oahu with my family. Since arriving a few days ago, I’ve been soaking up the sunshine, helping baby e. explore the new geography, flora, and fauna, and eating a delicious array of local food.

I bought this skirt (and a dress I’ll premiere later) during Anthropologie’s after Christmas sale using some early birthday money. Everything about this skirt — the color, the Japanese doll print, the fullness, the pockets — called to me, and I decided that it was the perfect birthday skirt. Between the skirt, striped tank, and cut-out sandals, the only real accessorizing this outfit needed was the addition of these minuscule origami crane earrings that my brothers gave me this morning.

Thanks for your warm birthday wishes, and a special thanks to L. and A. for their sweet posts and spot-on outfits. L., you’d better not bring that top with you back to Academichic central, otherwise I just might steal it from you! And A., I’m so proud of you for surrendering your waist for a day. You are both so dear to me, and I’m so grateful for your friendship and for this space to be creative together!

Birthday Splash, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Mixing Patterns, Sabbatical, Skirting the Issue
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14 December 2010 – I Think I’m Out of Practice

December 14th, 2010 § 11 comments §

14 December 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Cardigan: Target
  • Teal sweater: The Limited
  • Belt: thrifted
  • Skirt: old strapless dress from Wet Seal, refashioned into a skirt
  • Tights (2 pairs!): Target
  • Shoes: Target

End Notes:

Folks, I think I’m out of practice putting together outfits that are not from my 30 for 30 selection. I knew I wanted to wear this skirt today, since I missed full skirts during the 30 for 30, but I had the darndest time figuring out what I wanted to do up top. I ended up layering two sweaters, and tucked in the longish striped sweater.

I think I like the end results. I mean, with the full skirt and striped cardigan I kind of feel like a nerdy ballet dancer…but I mean that in the best possible way.

I would really like to get a couple of full, winter or fall weight skirts in one or two of my usual colors (mustard, olive, navy, etc.). Bonus points if they have pockets. Does anyone have any recommendations for where I could find something like that?

Category: Proportionally, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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23 November 2010

November 23rd, 2010 § 9 comments §

23 November 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Sweater – BR Factory Store
  • Skirt – Gap
  • Blouse – Gap
  • Belt – New York & Co
  • Flannel Pumps – Urban Outfitters
  • Earrings – gift from A2


First, Happy Birthday S!!  Due to the 30 for 30 limitations, pre-travels laundry and packing, and a day of house-cleaning and grading, I couldn’t manage an S-inspired outfit for today.  But, I still wanted to send some birthday wishes, through the blogosphere, to one of my dearest friends! Love to you S. on your special day!

Argyle Love, originally uploaded by academichic.

I wore this outfit yesterday, when we had another unexpected bout of warm weather.  Once again I was glad to have this lighter skirt on my list.  I put this argyle sweater into the mix knowing that I wanted to do a little pattern mixing.  Notice I’ve got three patterns going here!

pattern mixing, originally uploaded by academichic.

Today is much colder and it looks like it will be cold for the rest of the week.  A2 and I leave tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my family so today I am packing for four days.  Only being able to chose from my limited closet has made the packing go pretty quickly.  I’ll post my travel duds, T-day ensemble, and other weekend wear after the holiday.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


23 November 2010, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Mixing Patterns, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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12 November 2010 – Fall or Summer?

November 12th, 2010 § 4 comments §

Summer or Fall?, originally uploaded by academichic.


Similarly warm weather has swept all the way from Academichic Central up to New England and the temps are reaching the low 60s again after several days of bitterly cold rain. I welcomed this change and took advantage of it by wearing this breezy, cotton summer (or fall?) outfit. The brown skirt is something I traded with A. last summer since I had the exact same one in white! This skirt has narrow pintucks that create a subtle herringbone of “V”s all over. Hers was too short for her taller frame, but mine was just the right length for her. I replaced my white one with this skirt from BR and A. had another brown skirt as well. All in all a perfect trade. Anyway, I thought the brown skirt and shoes balanced the brighter bursts of color from the floral patterned shirt and blue belt.

Summer or Fall (close), originally uploaded by academichic.

The shirt is another vintage find from the attic, and the Peter Pan collar and delicate flowery design are definitely a throw back. To accessorize this outfit I chose a piece of jewelry I picked up this summer when I was visiting the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) in North Adams, MA. Museum gift shops are often a treasure trove of interesting and unique (and occasionally handcrafted) jewelry. This leather cuff is soft to the touch and the narrow incised lines and punched holes create a subtle geometric design.

Zalud Leather Cuff, originally uploaded by academichic.

I thought that the leather and wool of my accessories played off of the soft cotton and cheerful patterning of the rest of my ensemble. A balance, like the weather, of summer and fall.

Category: Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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11 November 2010 – Looks Like Fall…

November 11th, 2010 § 9 comments §

11 November 2010 – Looks Like Fall…, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Skirt – Gap
  • Tank – Ann Taylor
  • Belt – Target
  • Shoes – Urban Outfitters
  • Necklace – gifted earring on a chain
  • Earrings – gift from E.


…feels like Summer!

I certainly didn’t expect to be wearing this tank on its own this month, but I sure am glad I have it and this light flowy skirt on my 30 for 30 list.  Today’s high is supposed to be near 80!

I am not sure flannel pumps work all that well with a bare legs and a tank-top, but I am sure that I love this fall color palette of olive, purple, maroon, and brown, all set against the beautiful maroon, fiery-orange, and green backdrop that is my front yard in all its autumnal glory!  A.

11 November 2010 – Looks Like Fall…, originally uploaded by academichic.

Category: Color Combinations, Reaching New Heights, Skirting the Issue
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L.’s On-Campus Interview

October 13th, 2010 § 8 comments §

13 October 2010 – On Campus Interview, originally uploaded by academichic.


  • Shirt: Splendid via Filene’s Basement
  • Sweater: Banana Republic Outlet
  • Belt: Fossil
  • Skirt: City Unltd. via Filene’s Basement
  • Shoes: Frye
  • Necklace: South Moon Under

While this outfit will not go down in the annals of Academichic history for being particularly fun, innovative, or stylish, it is what I wore for my on-campus interview for the job I currently hold. I should reiterate that I was NOT interviewing for the tenure track positions or professorial posts for which my co-bloggers will interview (and S. already has!). This outfit was put together with a small New England private school in mind, and having gone to such a school I had an inkling of what would be dressy enough and what would be seen as overkill.

13 October 2010 – On Campus Interview, originally uploaded by academichic.

My interview was in late April and happened to fall on the same week that I was defending my Masters’ thesis and was lecturing to the whole introductory course for which I was a TA. Needless to say this was a high-pressure week! I had picked out an outfit for defending my thesis weeks in advance (you know you’ve done that too!), but my interview was on short notice. I would also be teaching a sample lesson (a “job talk” in university parlance), so I needed something that would stand up in front of a room of teenagers in an 11th grade English class. I quickly packed a bag with this skirt and two shirt and sweater options – one was a lighter green tank with brown cardigan and then this combination of a brown t-shirt and green cardigan. I opted for the brown top because, like A. said, perspiration shows more on lighter colors — and I was fairly sure I was going to be just a little bit anxious.

green/brown, originally uploaded by academichic.

I knew I wanted to wear flats, and thank goodness I did because I must have covered at least a mile shuttling between buildings and offices! Like I said, this was definitely not the cutest outfit in the world or the most interesting, but for a day full of interviews, a classroom of unknown 11th graders, and various tours around campus, this outfit held up, and I got the job!

Category: Interview Attire, Our Best Flatware, Skirting the Issue, Teaching Outfits
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