Monday, March 31, 2014

Stylish Surprise #1- Mint and Navy Shift

You may know of my deep and undying love for Modcloth. What could be better than a whole site devoted to modern interpretations of retro clothes? The fact that they have great customers service, offer a wide range of sizes, and allow and encourage customer feedback making the buying process that much more lovely only intensify my love. 

A few times a year, Modcloth gets extra crazy awesome and has a really amazing sale.  During these sales, I have purchased dresses for as low as 13 dollars.  But the most wonderful thing that ever happens on Modcloth is their "Stylish Surprise".  What is a Stylish Surprise?  You may ask.  Put simply, it is a grab bag for grown-ups.  You send Modcloth $15, and they send you a piece of clothing of their choosing, no returns or refunds.  This year, the grab bag was actually lowered to $10, although I can't imagine why they lowered the price.  The Stylish Surprises are gone within two days, every single time. 

I have participated in this sale four times.  The first time I got a pink shirt that was too small and a blue dress that was too big.  Such is the nature of a grab bag.  The second time, I got a beautiful polka dot dress that was just slightly too big, some green shoes that weren't quite me, and a statement necklace (for only $5) that I wear all of the time.  The third time I got one white dress that was not quite my style, a pair of flip-flops, some crazy gold heals (which I will wear someday when I figure out how), and another white dress/ top that is now a wardrobe staple. 

This time however takes the cake.  I decided to get five items, and they actually arrived on my birthday! I got four dresses and one really great sweater.  One of the dresses isn't quite me but is very beautiful and will go to a good home.  The other three dresses are items I wouldn't have necessarily picked out for myself, but actually fit really nicely and look great on me.

Without further adieu, here we have Stylish Surprise #1.  It is a mint and navy shift, with tiny heart cut outs in the fabric.  I never would have picked this out on my own, but it is crazy how perfectly this dress actually fits my style.  I wore it on a birthday date night with my husband, and he loved it!

On my own, I do not choose great date dresses.  I tend to go for full skirts, long pencil skirts, or dresses that are slightly larger on me when I buy or make clothes.  But Jer prefers me in dresses that show off my shape an hug my curves.  All of the dresses that I got through this Stylish Surprise challenge my usual uniform without being out of my comfort zone.  Lucky or what? 

Sounds pretty great right?  Here is the catch about the Stylish Surprise.  Don't bother if you don't have a pretty wide comfort zone.  Although people go crazy for this sale, I see a lot of people posting about their disappointment that they didn't get something they liked on Modcloth's Facebook page.  Truthfully, the belly aching makes me a little squeamish.  What did you expect from a grab bag?  It's a gamble.  If you don't like what you got, you can try to trade it (there is a Stylish Surprise swap after each sale) sell it, or give it away.  But don't whine about it.  Especially when you only paid 10 bucks an item this time!  Personally this sale is tailor made for me since I am pretty adventurous style wise. But if you are pretty rigid in what you like, I would say skip it.  Please.  The more for me! 

Okay, rant over.  I also wanted to show of my new birthday earrings that my friend Stevie gave me, and my new birthday headband I got from my friend Jessica.  I'm getting a little better at accessorizing, right?  I'm trying.  :)

I'll have more Stylish Surprise reveals to come in the next few days.  How do you challenge yourself style wise?  Have you ever been proven wrong about a shape that you didn't think worked for you? 

Flowers for Spring- Birthday Tea!

Wow, what a great birthday weekend I had!  First I celebrated with my lovely sister and step-mom at the St. James Tea Room, then we got pedicures.   After that, I had a movie night with friends that was super fun and reminding me yet again what awesome people I have in my life.  It couldn't have been a better day. 
Here are some photos from my tea date with my family.  My sis was wearing an Emily and Fin Dress from Modcloth. 

Aren't my step-mom and sister cute?  My Step-mom looks so great in this cobalt blue! 

Here I am making a pretty goofy face, which is my natural state. 
I wore a made-by-me tea dress, my green Antropologie cardigan that I got from my step-mom for Christmas, and jewelry that my sister had given me for Christmas.  Do they know me, or what?  :)
And here are the details of my dress if you are interested: I will be making one custom dress of this style for my upcoming Etsy site, but I am keeping this one.  It's pretty simple, but the bright orange chiffon flowers add a little touch of whimsy that I love.  Perfect for spring tea parties, right? 

I hope everyone is well today.  I am feeling great after having such a lovely and relaxing weekend.  The second part of my birthday adventures was a lovely date with my hubby on Sunday.  More on that this afternoon.  Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Etsy Preview- The Modern Retro Cocktail Dress

Welcome to a very special edition of Not Your Average Average where I discuss this lovely little number that will soon be available in custom sizes on Etsy.  Isn't it great?  A friend of mine called it "Mad Men meets Jane Jetson", and I am totally cool with that!  I love this little dress I made so much, and it is my own design! I AM AWESOME.

I styled this dress with this great Modcloth belt, faux snakeskin heals and a hunter green cardigan (not pictured).  If I had had someplace glamorous to go, that would have been even better, but truthfully, I was just on my way to work.  

Here are some photos without the belt so you can see the dress on it's own. 

Also, new glasses!  Yay!

So there you have it!  More handmade dresses to come soon.  :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Outfit Post- 1940's Modern

Soooo...while I had cherry red hair for all of five minutes this month (more on that to come), I wore this great rayon dress from Modcloth.

While cotton is my favorite fabric to wear and sew with thanks to its strength, breathable, ability to create a structured shape on the body, and over-all look, rayon has it's strong points too!

For example, rayon holds it's shape very well with minimal stretching, has a lovely soft drape, and the fabric colors do not fade badly over time.  It also mimics silk nicely, but is far easier to clean. 

This rayon dress in particular is quite lovely with it's strong shoulders and nipped-in waist.  The cross-over top is the most flattering shape for me, and I have been sewing a lot of dresses lately that have a similar look.  I also really like the short, kimono style sleeves.  And of course, hello pockets!  This dress looks perfectly modern, but there is definitely a 1940's vibe there as well.  You know I love that.  :)

Even though I try to make most of my clothes these days, or buy vintage when I find something too good to pass up, there is still an appeal to wearing ready made pieces like this.  There is also an appeal to owning pieces that inspire me and help me further developed my personal style without getting stagnant. 

Hair clip, Anthropologie. 
Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be unveiling my newest me-made creation.  Get ready because I am very excited about this one.  Happy Friday everyone! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jer and Nikki Tea

Happy Valentines day!  Okay, I am posting this a little late.  Better late than never, right?

Here I am with my lovely hubby on a wonderful Valentines Day date.  Where did we go?  My home away from home: The St James Tea Room!

I wore a full skirt (made by me!) a grey bow headband from Forever 21, a black tank from Target, an angora cardigan that I have had for years, my mint heals, and leggings. It was a romantic little look. :)


Here I am, looking quite romantic. 

And here I am again with my sweetheart.  Sigh.  I love him.  :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 1980's Goes Vintage

First, let me point out that clothes from the 1980's are themselves considered vintage, as are clothes from the 1990's.  Makes you feel a little sick, right?  Moving on...

The first time I remember noticing fashion was around the age of five or six.  What I started noticing was that I was born in the wrong decade.  At that tender age I remember being baffled by modern fashion, and later, all through high school, I felt slightly embarrassed to have been born in such a garish time-finding the neon colors and shoulder pads of the era distasteful and revolting.  Who the hell wants to have larger shoulders?  In proper high-school fashion, I had already decided my shoulders were too big (because you have to pick yourself to pieces at that age in as many ways as you can).  To me, the only thing worse than the styles of the 1980's was the complete fashion yawn that was the early 1990's (my high school decade), but boredom at least was safe.  Bangles and dinosaur earrings were insanity.

But what I noticed first was the hair.  Short haircuts on girls of 1980's tended to look like men's haircuts, and long hair was inevitably fried and poofed within and inch of its life.  I had seen photos of the 1970's and 1950's (although I couldn't yet distinguish one decade from another) and wondered why women no longer wore their hair long, healthy and strait, or softly curled and neatly tucked under fabulous hats.  It was years later when I discovered the true genius of the 1950's short hairstyles thanks to Audrey Hepburn, but even at a very young age, my mind was already starting to think about hair and envying styles of the past.   The present was just too tragic.

I thought that the 1980's had nothing to offer me, and it wasn't until my adult fascination with fashion took hold that I finally started to realize the error of my ways.   Here is what I did not yet know about my birth decade: The 80's had a love affair with both the 1940's and the 1920's, and they honored those time periods fantastically well.

While I was seeing shoulder pads, I was missing sequins and silk.  The 80's may have been all about crazy clothes and neon for the teenagers, but it was all about glamour and drama for the adults.  At least, the fashionable ones.  While we have always borrowed fashion from other decades and made it our own, the 1980's was not content to simply reproduce.  They took what they liked, and distinctly 80's-it-up in wonderful and powerful ways.

These days I can even see the fun of hot pink leg warmers and off-the shoulder-over-sized tops.  What a fun decade it must have been for people old enough to pick out their own clothes!  I have to be honest and say that I still can't look past the hair (I just don't get it to this day!) but I have come to realize that the 1980's should be praised for both it's ability to borrow from the past and make it their own, and also the fact that the 80's fashionista was doing and wearing thing that would have been unheard of in decades past. It was a unique, experimental decade.

Some examples of 80's does 20's (all can be found for sale on Etsy):

Some examples of 80's does 1940's (all can be found for sale on Etsy):

Saturday, March 22, 2014

1950's Vintage Love- Plus A Makeover!!!!

Oh hello there!  Remember me?  I've been sick lately and not in the mood for blogging, but I'm feeling a bit better and ready to show off some new old threads for your viewing pleasure.  Ready?  Lets go!

There is a reason  that the 1950's is my favorite decade for fashion.  Actually, there are many reasons.

First, the care that was taken when constructing garments during the 1950's can not be beaten.  Both the store bought and the handmade vintage items from the decade are impeccably assembled, which is why so many pieces from the 1950's have stood the test of time and are still around today.  This was before clothing was mass produced the way it is today, and each piece was made with the intention that it would last for many years to come.

Secondly, the 1950's silhouette is a shapes that is very flattering to an hour glass figure (like mine).  It was an extra feminine decade for clothing, and dresses were purposefully designed to enhance a woman's curves rather than disguising them the way that a lot of modern fashions do.

Thirdly, full skirts are forgiving, and comfortable.  Not that I particularly like to hide my thighs or bum, but a full skirt does help balance out the body in a nice way.  They are also easy to wear because they are free flowing, meaning that you don't have to worry about finding an exact fit.

Yes, 1950's vintage clothing are the best.  However, there are also some possible draw backs to collecting clothes from the 1950's.  For example, dresses were designed to be worn with girdles and pointed bras under them.  Sometimes that can be limiting if you prefer to stick with modern underwear.  Personally, sometimes I go for the full on vintage look, and sometimes  (like tonight) I just wear my regular underwear and try to let my posture be my girdle.  Whatever floats your boat, just be aware that some dresses from this era are extra exaggerated in the waist and chest, and can prove challenging if you are against girdles and aren't built like a Barbie.

Secondly, vintage clothing can be fragile!  I don't buy vintage items to be used as museum pieces; I want to wear them!  So I need to be careful when I sit down so I don't burst fragile seams, sometimes I need to do small repairs, and I always need to take special care when I am cleaning them.  If am item has lasted some 60+ years, I don't want to be the one to ruin it!  It is also important to look for staining, especially in the armpits, when buying vintage in the first place.  Some wear should be expected, but you have to decide how much you can live with for the price.  Beyond that, if you won't really wear it, don't bother buying it!  This should really be your mantra when buying any type of clothing, but it is worth remembering when you see some fabulous vintage piece that is really just not your style, but simply too dreamy to believe.  It is a cruel rule, I know, but if you won't really wear it, it is pointless to buy it, end of story.  And for heavens sake, almost fitting means it doesn't fit.  Let it go and more on.

 Lastly, 1950's vintage can come off as can costumy or too sweet for our time.  This can be combated by pairing vintage items with modern accessories, but it is something to be aware of.

So, with all of that in mind, lately I have been really crazy about vintage items from this decade from both a fashion, as well as a seamstresses perspective.  Not only do I love the look of this era, but the garments I have purchased also really have a lot to teach me about good construction techniques.

Take the beautiful vintage find I wore tonight for example.  Isn't it fantastic?  This hot pink fabric is amazing in person, and the shape of this drop-waist dress fits me like a dream.  I know a lot of people complain that vintage clothes are all extra-small, but I have actually found a lot of diversity in my search for the perfect vintage items if you are willing to take the time to look, and having to dig a little for something you like that also fits makes a find like this extra sweet.  I kind of can't believe my luck on this one.  PLUS it was hand made, making it even more unique.

It's fairly easy to tell if something was handmade of store bought, But how do you know it is really from the 1950's? You ask.  There are lots of ways to tell if an item is really vintage, and from what era.  This particular dress for example had a pretty great surprise in that the name of the brand of fabric that was used is printed in the seam of the dress, and that particular brand can be traced back to the 1950's.  Construction details like a metal zipper can also help you determine the time period an item was made.  I'm certainly not an expert, but I am learning to identify pieces through little tells like this, which is part of the adventure of vintage shopping.  Besides, as my bestie Rachel Browne once said, "does being old and falling apart really make something better?"  The answer is yes, but perhaps should be no.

I wore this dress to see my sister's newest dinner theater she was in, and I had a wonderful night.  Also, LOOK AT MY NEW MAKEOVER!  SQUEAL!!!!!!!

How do you like my new dark bob?  I gave myself the cut this afternoon before the show.  Yes, I cut and dye my own hair.  I know you must be so impressed with my mad skills.  If only my new glasses had come in in time to wear them tonight my outfit would have been perfect, but alas, they will have to wait for another day.  As it is, I wore my vintage dress with some mint heals from Modcloth (you can find similar ones here), and a necklace I bought a long time ago from Burlington Coat Factory for like $4.

So there you have it.  There is nothing like a lovely date night to get a girl out of her funk. I have a lot of new things to show you, so stay tuned!  I've been sewing up a storm, and I'm in the mood to blog my cares away!  But can we please see some more gratuitous photos of your new hair before you go?  You ask.  Well, if you insist.