Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Outfit Post

I've been thinking that every Monday should be an outfit post day.  Why?  Because that is the day I ride into work with my husband, and therefore have a captive photographer! 
Today I wore this lovely blue and white (china pattern colors) dress that I have had for at least seven years.  I  got it in Old Town here in Albuquerque at a little boutique on the plaza.  Today I paired it with Soft brand boots (hand-me-down from a friend), grey Anthropologie fleece lined leggings, a necklace from Forever 21, earrings from my hubby, and a bracelet that was given to me by a friend.   I certainly get a lot of lovely gifts in my life!
This outfit reminds me that it is so important to take good care of your clothes.  I had a friend who once said, “'dry clean only' means: 'this item is never getting washed',” which was funny and so true!  I do make sure to re-were my dry clean only clothes (like this dress) at least twice before taking them in, which incidentally, also helps to extend the life of a garment.
Hint: If you have worn an item once and don’t want to forget, hang it up so that the hanger is facing the opposite way of your other hangers so that you will know to wash it the next time you wear it. 
Over washing your clothes, even hand washing and dry-cleaning too often, is very hard on them.  Unless you get sweaty or dirty during the day, you should always try to get an extra day out of an item.  With jeans you can go longer, although if they get stretched out by the end of the day, you might need to wash them right away to get the close fit back. 
Also, I really like my makeup this way.  A strong lip with no eye makeup looks so lovely and easygoing to me.  I know I look a bit prettier with a full face of makeup, but I always feel cooler when I use makeup sparingly.  Also, I got ready for work in like 20 minutes including shower, so I got to sleep in later.  I love being able to set up my life so that I can appear low maintenance to myself in the morning. 
As always, I’m here to teach you how to be lazier and dirtier.  You are welcome. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fashion Inspiration: Maison Ikkoku

Personal style is not something you are born with. It is something that grows and changes.  It develops over time.  Sometimes inspiration comes from some interesting places.

My personal style today is more heavily influenced by the past than by modern trends, specifically the 1930 through 1950’s; but American vintage isn't the only source of inspiration for me.

From Korean television shows to Barbie dolls, what inspires me most is pretty eclectic. But I think one thing has influenced my style over time more than almost anything else, and it comes from a very unlikely source.  Comic books.  But of course!

Comic books and graphic novels have influenced me in important ways throughout my life.  I even count comic books as the major source of my own personal morality code. Comic books can be about so much more than punching and fighting.  They are often about tolerance (X-Men), justice (Batman) or always doing what is right (Superman).  They can teach that being different often means being extraordinary and that if you are strong, it is your responsibility to look out for the weak.  I would say that comic books are almost a religion for me.

But I was writing about personal style right?  And as much as I love super heroes, spandex is not for me. That's where a not-so-well-known manga series comes in.

Maison Ikkoku is a wonderful romance comic series written and penned by Rumiko Takahashi.  I was already a fan of Takahashi’s work for many years when I found this wonderful series about a broken down apartment building full of crazy characters.  The series takes place in 1980’s Tokyo and centers around a young man who is in love with his apartment manager Kyoko.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for story development purposes) Kyoko has a tragic past she needs to get over before she can let someone new into her heart. It is a wonderful love story, where the main characters learn and grow throughout the series, and it is one of my favorite things on the planet.

But, beyond the wonderful stories, these books are full of the most adorable clothes in the world! Kyoko’s whole wardrobe is a darling mix of sexy, cute, and super 80’s (but somehow in the best way possible) fashions. In essence, she has my dream wardrobe.

Silly as it sounds, Kyoko's style has not only influenced my personal style, but also my sewing. I love her big collars, wonderful prints, and blousy shapes, and now that I can sew, I can make versions of them for myself!  Yay!

It may sound silly to say a 1980’s comic series inspires my style, but truth is truth. It really did, and still does.
What, or who, has influenced your personal style?  Can't you totally see my style in these adorable illustrations?  :)

Full skirt,with a peter pan collar on a shirt with a strong print.  

Silky looking puff sleeved boat neck black dress.  

Beautiful cocoon coat.
Lovely cheongsam dress dress.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Non-Boring Neutrals

Whenever I hear someone say, “oh, that color doesn't look good on me,” my mind is boggled. I love yellow, mustard, pea green and pretty much all of the colors that my friends think make them look sickly. I confess, I felt so above it all, thinking to myself, “they must just be afraid of color” my nose metaphorically in the air. I thought I was immune to the clothes color prejudice. I would wear any color without even considering how it worked for my skin tone. But of course, whenever I feel high and mighty, reality rears its ugly head eventually. I finally realized that I too have colors I look like a re-animated dead body in. For me though, those colors happen to be what the rest of the world considers neutrals.

Yes, I love tan, brown and gray, and I wish they worked for me, but alas, they are not my friends. I love how other people can use neutrals as a base for their wardrobe, but when I wear them I end up looking like I am very worn out, or like I really should invest in a lot more make up.

The good news is that I can get away with some neutrals, as long as they are pretty dark. Navy and black are fine, even dark gray or brown. Oddly, white doesn't look great on me, but as long as I pair it with darker colors I can make it work, and sometimes I still wear tan despite the fact that it doesn't look very good on me, just because I like it. I live on the edge people!

On Monday, I played with neutrals for the office. The little splash of red really helps somehow! I like playing with color combinations that were forbidden when I was a teen growing up in the late 90's, like navy and black or brown and black. The rules are dead people! Live it up!
Shirt, hand-me-down (I cut the sleeves off). Skirt, Gap.  Leggings, Target.  The pin on shirt is a barrette from Forever 21.  Boots, ?.

Honestly though, my “neutrals” are teal, any green, and mustard. Hardly a day goes by when I am not wearing one of these colors. They work with pretty much everything I own.

Last week I wore this teal Anthropologie headband I thought about for months before buying before I realized that I needed to make the investment (and believe me, an Anthropologie headband IS an investment). It was a ridiculous purchase, but I know it is one that will get a ton of use. Teal goes with everything! Doesn't it? It does.
Headband, Anthropologie.  Shirt, Modcloth.  Earrings, gifted.  

Coat, gifted.  Scarf, Urban Outfitters.  

So, what are your un-boring “neutrals”? Do you have a signature color that you feel goes with everything?   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Summer So Long Oolong

Summer, I miss you already!  I love fall clothes, but I am going to miss the warm weather and the simple ease of summer dresses.
Take this lovely Oolong for example.  I made this dress for my trip to California last month, and I am just now making the time to blog about it.  I have actually already made a second, shorter version of this dress that will be a little more wearable into the fall since it is darker and works with leggings.  A post for another day!
This pattern was marked as “intermediate” based on the fact that it is cut on the bias to add ease. No zippers or closures required!  Cutting fabric on the bias can be a little tricky to master when you are first starting out, but really, this pattern was one of the easiest and most rewarding patterns I have ever tried.  In fact, this was one of the quickest dresses to make from start to finish, and it is still so completely lovely!  My favorite type of patterns are the ones you can cut out, sew and be done with in one day, and this simple summer frock fit the criteria, without ending up looking like a sack.  Success! 
I am forcing myself to try some other patterns for a while before going back in for a third Oolong, but it is difficult!  This dress was just so fun to make and wear.  I definitely recommend this pattern to anyone. Anyone I say!

Barrette, Anthropologie.  Purse, gift.  Dress by me!

My handsome hubby.  :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Live to Dye Another Day

So, I'm getting bored.  Yes, I am totally committed to growing my hair out, but not making any changes is making me feel pretty restless.  To understand my addiction to changing my hair, please understand that all of these photos were taken in the last five years, and this doesn't even cover half of the hair changes I have made in that time.  These are somewhat in order, but to be honest, when you change your hair this much, it is hard to remember exactly when you cut it, dyed it or changed up your bangs:

Personally I think everyone looks best with bangs (you just have to know which kind of bangs are right for you), but I have decided not to cut mine and keep growing them out (soooo hard!!!!), mostly because I have spent most of my life with bangs and not having them would be one of the biggest changes of all for me.  But not dying my hair has been a little more of a challenge.  A part of me wants to see how long I can go without adding color, but it is so so hard not to rely on a box of dye to fix a bad day.  I miss my monthly (practically) makeover!  

For now, I am staying strong, and keeping the chemicals off of my hair, but it really is a challenge not to do SOMETHING.  I'm hopping by the beginning of the year my hair will be long enough to try some new styles, and that will help curb my makeover addiction.  But seriously folks, this is like torture!  Any other haircut/ color addicts in the house?  How do you ward off temptation?  
 Me with my natural color; hair growing longer; staying strong.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Swim fan

Here's something about me:  I love swimming!  And swimming in the ocean or a lake or any natural space= the best thing ever!  But I went through a few years where I did not swim at all, or barely at all, and it was for THE DUMBEST REASON EVER!  

You see, I would wait all year for the summer to begin, knowing that by the summer time I would have lost those few pounds that I had inevitably gained at Christmas, and I would look great and feel good enough about myself to get in a bathing suit and finally get to go swimming!  But summer would come and I wouldn't have lost as much weight as I had hoped I would, or none at all, or I would have (gasp!) even gained a few pounds, and my desire to swim would dwindle down to nothing, much like my fragile self esteem.  I might get up the courage to go swimming once or twice a year, but the whole time I was worrying, wasting my time feeling self-conscious and comparing myself to a version of me that I thought should exist, but never really had.  Even after I had worked so hard to get myself to a healthy place of body love and acceptance, the thought of getting into a swimsuit still made feel not supper awesome about myself, enough so that I rarely swam, always telling myself that the next summer would be different.  The next summer I would be somehow more worthy of being seen in a swimsuit.  

Then in 2010, everything changed.  The years leading up to that year, I had been so sick that my body had whittled down to a weight that I never thought I would achieve, but I was so ill, my life was slipping away from me. Yes, I was finally skinny, but I was so sick, my body did not feel like my own.  I could barely leave my house except to work or go to the hospital.  I was in pain constantly.  Then in 2010, I had the surgery that would save my life, but I ended up with an ostomy bag attached to my stomach.  I was devastated, but I was alive.  

Of course, that story is about a lot more than body image, but for me, a very important piece of what I learned that year was how to love myself unconditionally.  One of the biggest hurdles I crossed during the six months when I had that ostomy, was going swimming for the first time with my bag.  I had been so self conscious in a swimsuit my whole life, and now, under my one piece was something that made my body so different from anyone else I had ever met, and I was actually letting myself swim in public! Then and there it all became so clear.  I was never going to let myself destructive thoughts keep me from going swimming ever again, or allow me to deny myself any pleasure in life, based on what I looked like.  Life is too short to wait for perfection.  My time and your time is far too precious to spend being so stupid.  

So now, I collect bathing suits that make me feel lovely.  I tend to like high wasted suits like this J Crew one that I wore two weeks ago on my trip to California with my husband and his parents.  The water was freezing, but you know what?  My husband and I got right in and swam!  It was amazing, and I felt beautiful.  I was so grateful to be alive, and happy, and free of the rules I once thought protected me.  

Don't I look great?  I totally do.  :)  Also, just look at my wonderful husband.  He loves my body too.  Through thick and thin, ostomy or no ostomy, no matter what. That is called love people.

Now, a word about how to get awesome suits like this for a steal: shop now, and be willing to get things tailored!  I always wait for the J Crew swim sale specifically, and then I get the super clearance suits and tailor them myself.  If you get the cup size right, it is easy to a adjust the band.  If anyone would like a how-to on this blog, let me know!  Knowing this one tip has saved a lot of too big suits for me in the past.  Actually, I used the trick on the suit pictured.  :)

Another great trip is to buy on-sale separates that weren't meant to go together, but still work, like a solid color bottom, and a patterned top.  Most of my suits are miss-matched, but they look great together!  If you buy within the same color family, like sticking to navy and white for example, you can keep mixing and matching the same suits with new pieces next year and so on.

So there you go.  Figure out what you love, and do it.  I'm sorry to tell you this, but that perfect you that you know you almost could be? That person doesn't really exist.  The you you are now is wonderful, and perfect.  Never deny yourself the life you were meant to live because of your body.  Don't live with regrets.  Be happy.  And go swimming for goodness sake! It's wonderful.  :)

Party dress- Butterick Pattern 5949

So, this dress turned out amazingly beautiful!  Introducing Butterick pattern 5949.
I wore this dress to my grandfathers 94th birthday party is Santa Barbra California two weeks ago, and I felt lovely despite the fact that I was going through some major tooth issues including a recently pulled tooth, and a completely separate untreated abscessed tooth.  Yes, I was in horrible pain all week (including during my trip to Disneyland), but I made the best of it and managed to have fun in between uncontrollable crying fits (no joke).   

So anyway, this dress is amazing, and was relatively easy and quick to make.  I have no idea what this fabric is, but it is most likely synthetic.  I love how I made  the waist out of completely different material than the body of the dress.  The two textures look so great together and make the dress even more interesting.  I will have to get more pictures of this dress the next time I wear it (the zipper is bubble gum pink), and I am sure you will see it again soon when I make my next version.  I absolutely recommend this pattern!  

Here I am with my loving husband and my wonderful grandpa.  It really was a lovely trip despite the tooth torture.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Easy Fall Pencil Skirt

Here in Albuquerque, the Balloon Fiesta never fails to bring in the cold weather.  I hate to be cold, but I love fall clothes!
Shoes and barrette, Anthropologie.  Scarf, Urban Outfitters.  Coat was a gift.  
Just in time for fall, I made this quick and lovely pencil skirt from Gerties New Book for Better Sewing.  This is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it to beginners.  Unless you want to get it for inspiration like I did! Some of the patterns are fairly simple (like this pencil skirt) while others are more complicated, but the book's instructions and design were created under the assumption that it's reader has some prior sewing experience. The best part about the book is that the patterns are so true to size, and sized specifically for hourglass or pear shaped girls, which is perfect for me!  The worst part of the book is that the patterns are printed overlapping each other, which is a huge pain in the butt when you go to trace them.  I heard a rummer that the pattern in Gertie's second book will be made on pattern paper.  Here's hoping!  

Tank, Target.  The beaded necklace was a gift.  Skirt, by me!!!

I have only had tried a few patterns from this book so far, but I have really loved the results.  This pencil skirt pattern is amazing!  I tried it once before here: Pencil Skirt with equally lovely results.  While my first skirt was lined, this skirt is unlined and made out of a thin wool blend.  I made it in a matter of hours.

I am sure this is not my last pencil skirt this season.  They are just so quick to sew, and make such great additions to my Fall wardrobe.  I love the high waist that this pattern provides.  It creates such a lovely silhouette!  But my guess is that most pencil skirt patters are pretty consistently easy and awesome.  I guess I'll find out when I try By Hand London's pencil skirt some time this Fall.  

Are you ready for Fall?  Don't you just love Fall fashion?  :)