Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Truly Purple and Peach

This sweater always photographs as a royal blue, when it is in fact purple. REALLY purple. If you like it, buy it now, it is only $24 at Talbots online. I also own it in green. Underneath it I have this lovely new top that my sister-in-law sent me for my birthday. It's from the Lauren Conrad line at Kohl's.
I had seen someone online wearing purple over peach and it looked so sharp - I'm afraid I'm not quite capturing it here. The top is great, though, a mix of knit and chiffon "petals" with a baby cap sleeve.
White linen pants and (invisible) beige Earthies.

Monday, July 30, 2012

One-Step Dressing

As my friend Karen said, it's hard to call a dress "an outfit." Generally, that is why I'm in a dress in the first place, because whatever outfit I had in mind didn't work out. Last Thursday morning I had a bed strewn with rejected items and an unworn dress in my closet. It was 8:56. Granted, it takes me five minutes to get to work, but still. This is a Dana Buchman dress from Kohl's, via eBay. 
The ID really makes this outfit, n'est-ce pas?
It was like wearing pajamas all day.

Ben update: he arrived in Boston Saturday night, his buddy picked him up and they went to a bar. :-)  I was despondent Friday and Saturday, but for some reason, his text from the bar cheered me right up. He is going to have a great time. I remember feeling exactly that way when I arrived in Chicago in 1984. And look how well that worked out for me!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Librarian Loses Her Head Over New Shoes

I love these shoes. I intend to wear them A LOT. It is possible, however, that they weren't the best choice for a fairly conservative outfit. I kept glancing at my reflection, thinking they looked a little clunky, and not in a cute, ironic way. [Heather, you are right as usual!] Since I couldn't manage to get a decent photo that included both my face and my feet, I settled for the picture showing the shoes.

There's that Wimbledon jacket again, with a silk Talbot's skirt, and my white tee with all the bugle beads.  That tee is getting a little pitted out well worn, but the beading really fancies up a plain white tee, and I wear it all the time. 

Here is a closeup of the Miz Mooz Celine shoes (from the Amazon listing). They're a little clumpy/noisy, but not nearly as bad as some slingbacks I own, and they're very supportive and comfortable despite the height.
Also available in brown, red and PINK!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Some Fun Facts

Did you know that Rhode Island has more doughnut shops per capita than any other state? And that the residents treasure something called "coffee milk" so much that they offer it to schoolchildren along with chocolate milk and strawberry milk?

I am struggling to get a handle on Ben moving to Rhode Island in less than a week. Not a visit, not a semester abroad, but, like, going to live there. I am also trying not to make too much of a fuss around him, while still being supportive and helpful. My idea of too much fuss may be different than his, but at least there has been no whimpering.

We didn't have to face this four years ago when Ben went to college, because although he lived on campus, he came home every few weeks, or we went to visit him. Even then, I got a bit antsy after three weeks or so.

Really, I'm lucky to have such a "problem". I just read a great blog post by a parent of two disabled daughters who is finding her oldest suddenly seeking an independence the mother never thought she would have.

At any rate, I find myself lying awake, trying to distract myself from the whirlpool that is my monkey mind, and I find it is often possible to do that with clothes. Ha.

Spot the cat tail.

Bring on the voile! I only wore this yellow skirt three weeks ago, but it occurred to me that summer is shorter than I think, so I might as well trot it out again. I paired it with a navy and white striped tank (J. Jill) and an aqua cardigan (Anne Klein), and silver jewelry and (unseen) silver shoes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some Clothes and a Big Adventure

Huh. Look at the time. My days have been a little more dense than usual, with new board members coming on board (see what I did there), and a July board meeting that followed the June meeting shockingly fast, and the commencement of the budget process.

The other, and more personally significant, news is that Ben has accepted a job offer in Rhode Island. I understand that Rhode Island is quite far away from here. I understand that, in theory, I may not see Ben for many days at a time. And I am very, very happy for him to have a job, to be looking for an apartment with a college friend who is from the Isle of Rodes, to be launching himself as young people should. I myself came to Chicago with two suitcases and my five favorite record albums. Made of vinyl.

All that optimism is going a long way to making me feel better about the fact that my favorite person in the world will be nearly a thousand miles away from me.

This is exactly the push I needed to plan a vacation back to Boston, as it is a mere hour away from lovely Providence. This way I can take Ben and his pals out for lobster rolls and see more of the beautiful coast.

So earlier in the week, while I was first thinking about all this, I wore some stuff, and didn't take pictures, and it was all super cute. Here's what I did manage to capture.

I attended a visitation for a friend's father on Thursday, so I chose closed toe shoes and something more somber than I would normally wear on a 90 degree day. This is my lovely, twirly ginger chiffon skirt and my stalwart RL polka-dot top. The proportions on this top are the Golden Mean of my closet; the sleeves, neckline and hem all hit at exactly the right spot.

Then came Friday, and something related to the Box O' Pink:

I look freakishly tall here, don't I?
I had ordered a pair of twill flares in this "pink salt" color from Talbot's, but the hip pockets just didn't sit right on me, as much as I loved the color and gorgeous soft fabric. When I returned them, I stumbled upon these twill ankle pants in the same color, the only pair in the store, (probably a return) and bought them in a heartbeat. They have brass zippers at the ankles. I'm wearing them with my cloverleaf cardigan (which Jo says is THE color for fall), and some heavy gold jewelry. I love my gold bubble ring. It was about eight bucks on eBay. The watch is a Skagen, also from eBay.
Worn on one hand for photographic convenience.
There is one item left in the Box O' Pink, and I will wear it when it is NOT 90 degrees outside. Have a lovely weekend!  


Friday, July 13, 2012

NEW Challenge - Navy Lace Skirt

This has got to be one of the prettiest skirts I've ever owned. A deep, deep navy (it often looks black in pictures), a non-shiny and non-itchy lace, and a really flattering cut. It makes me very happy indeed, particularly because it pairs SO WELL with my beloved Talbot's navy and white lady jacket. With the purchase of this skirt, I feel I have the perfect ensemble for an important meeting, interviewing job candidates, etc. The jacket also looks nice with navy pants, but the skirt really dresses it up.

Furry head lower right.
Underneath I wore my gray t-shirt with the silver bugle beads, which is a little unexpected and more comfortable than a blouse or dressy tee. I wore swingy rhinestone earrings. Here are some closeups.
Tulips? Maybe?

But the BEST part of the day was receiving a glorious souvenir of my boss' trip to the Mediterranean. She brought me a gorgeous silk scarf from Spain. 

It is made of two panels of silk, hand-stitched together with thousands of running stitches. These threads run off to the ends to make a self fringe. I've seen this kind of stitching called kantha, and it is used on textiles of all kinds. Wikipedia says it is done in Bengal. One side of the scarf has dancing ladies and paisleys, and the other side has blocks and tiny dingbats.

Hello! Orange!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NEW Challenge - Green Eyelet Skirt

It isn't brand new, as I bought it on eBay, but it is new to me. I became convinced I needed a green eyelet skirt after I saw the dreamy Talbot's pencil skirt version (bright avocado!), as well as the kiwi J. Crew eyelet skirt for 2012. The Talbot's skirt sold out at full price, and the J. Crew version is long gone in my size. I went a'lookin' (suddenly I am one of the Country Bears) on eBay and found this skirt, which was cute and cheap and lined in white cotton.

I can't remember the brand - none I recognized - but it's way cute, yes? Cheap and cheerful, as they say. The scarf is from Ann Taylor Loft and the white sweater is J. Jill.

If it were a pencil skirt, then I could tuck in a button-front white or chambray shirt, which was my original desire, but this assortment is just fine. When it gets a bit cooler, I can wear a denim jacket and boots with it. today I wore silver flats that conceal my unpainted toes. Gotta give them a breather once in a while!

Pencil skirts nag my conscience a bit, because, seriously, NOTHING is easier to sew. No pleats, no gathers, no tailoring details other than a back pleat, a basic zipper, not even a set-in waistband if you find the right pattern (and believe me, I always do). They require very little yardage, and cotton eyelet is really cheap (and easy to sew). Finding the right shade of green would be a minor challenge, and, oh, taking my sewing machine out of my storage unit and into the shop for a tuneup.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NEW Challenge - A Necklace Story!

An outfit develops from unexpected starting points. 

"I want to wear the pretty red bra." 

Um, OK then, you'd better wear a red top if you don't want to look low-rent. 

"And I have to wear pants because I need new razor cartridges." 

Fine, you haven't worn those beige linen pants in a while.

"But I promised to wear my new things one by one and nothing so far is new!"

Oh for Heaven's sake, wear the Talbot's necklace, that will look snappy with the red top.

Makes pleasant clicking noises and weighs nothing.
"Did you know there is a matching bracelet on sale at the store?"

Shut up and go to work.

NEW Challenge - Pink and Pleated

Sometimes I buy things solely because they feel so good. Tiny pleats are one of those features; so swishy and body-skimming. Fancy without being formal. I tried this silky top on at the Talbot's store and nearly paid full price for it, it felt so good. But I held firm, and now it is 50% off online (in pink, black and white), and was part of the box o' pink that recently arrived at my door. I also bought a pair of ankle zip pants at Talbot's this weekend in a similar shade.

Clearly, a good "feel" doesn't always translate into a good picture. This was the best of five! It has a pretty split neckline that you can't really see in this overlit picture.
Cool enough to wear pants!

But I got lots of compliments at work, so that's all right.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Battle of the Bands - July 6

We're having our third annual Battle of the Bands tonight at the library, so I wore my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame t-shirt and a Talbot's floral skirt. Nothin' new here, move along.

I grew up in the Cleveland/Akron area, and every time I go back I devote a day to this amazing-in-every-way museum.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

NEW Challenge - Kohl's Red Top

I have clever thoughts in the middle of the night, but I don't write them down, and this is the result (the post, not the outfit). Fire bad, tree pretty.


Kohl's cherful red and purple Dana Buchman top, Athleta purple skirt, Miz Mooz red pumps.

My mild brain fog is likely the result of walking in the 4th of July parade when it was over 100 degrees. We all got a touch of heat stroke. I'm just very grateful I didn't have to wear any sort of costume.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

NEW Challenge - Ivory Swing Jacket

As I've said, I struggled with an ivory jacket that I bought last year. I thought it was a little big, I thought I should have bought it in another color, but it was final sale so I felt stuck with it. When I looked at it again yesterday, the solution came to me: neutrals. I'd pair this elegant fabric with tones of brown and ivory, head to toe. So I wore my leopard chiffon tee, brown silk pants and brown sandals.
The tee looks like a scarf, doesn't it? It has a drapey neckline. The jacket really needs to be taken in a bit on the sides; there is a bit of gather on the back waist, but not enough to truly tip in the jacket.  It is made of cotton, but I suspect mercerized cotton, because it has a slight sheen.

The details on this jacket are amazing. Covered buttons of course, but also covered buttonholes.
And check out the angled buttonhole on the bracelet sleeves. Swoon. 

The body of the jacket is lined with cotton, so it is fully breathable, but the sleeves are lined with acetate, so you can slip it on easily.

I asked my mother about her clothing tastes, or fabrics in general, and I must quote her response in full:
"I remember ordering my sheets from Macy's, NYC. As for clothes. They were a minor concern. You took the most expensive skirt I ever bought, saying it was too young for me.  You were right. But at least I didn't get liposuction to maintain illusions."

I know, she should be blogging. The truth is, getting sheets from Macy's was a BIG DEAL if you lived in Akron in the sixties. And apparently I was a mean and ungrateful teenager as well. But I remember that skirt, I stole it because it felt so good on me. It was the first skirt I'd ever seen that was lined, and that was the beginning of my affection for "good" clothes. Interestingly, this led to me dressing older than I was for many years. Imagine that ivory jacket on a 30 year old. I kind of regret that now, but I also understand why I did it.

I'm going home to have a bowl of strawberries and a piece of cake for dinner. Tomorrow I "march" (probably more like slouching in this heat) in the 4th of July parade with my library pals.

Have a great holiday! 


Boy, It's Hot

The air conditioning failed at the library Sunday afternoon, and by 9 a.m. this Monday it was BEASTLY. Therefore, I won't be blogging about the new navy pique jacket which I tried to wear that morning, but which hung on the back of my chair most of the day. Our valiant building manager got the HVAC people out lickety-split, but it was still sticky in the building until I went home at six. Below is the jacket; it is partially lined, with the sleeves and seams finished in a ticking stripe - very snappy!
Now wildly on sale, other pretty colors!

Sleeve lining and Talbot's bracelet.

The pockets (all four) were also lined with the striped rayon. I wore it with a print tank and olive green linen wide-leg pants. The pants, though linen, were lined, so also pretty sticky in the heat. They have a really long rise, so if I tuck anything in I look like Todd Loopner.
I discovered that haul videos are old news according to ABC back in March, 2010. 

I also wrote to my mother, email being her favored method of communication, to ask her if she used to love clothes as much as I remembered. Now 89, she doesn't particularly care, but I remember her clothes always looking and feeling really nice. My stuff seemed sticky or scratchy, and her dresses and blouses felt cool and smooth. She's always been a fan of natural fibers; maybe that was the difference. She also had long, slim hands and feet, and used to have boxes of Pappagallos in her closet, because those fit the best. Anyway, I hope she comments back to me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Box O' Pink

So, this happened.
 Pants, sweater and blouse, all in "soft rose."

NEW Challenge - Voile!

This is my yellow voile skirt from Talbot's. I love saying voile. Voooiiiiillllllle. So French.

I bought it last fall, admired it, and put it away. Because it is voooiiiiilllle, and too light for fall and winter.
Standing on tiptoes to look taller.

  I'm also wearing a J. Jill top from the previous century.

Notice the fairly scruffy Me Too flats for walking to work, whereupon I changed into these:
Earthies Sienna, available on eBay
These shoes are still in the audition phase, although it might be too late to return them at this point. I think I've had them nearly two months. They have a high arch, which is great for me, but it's not quite in the sweet spot, and I don't know if they will be wearable all day. (P. S. I wore these to the Relay for Life and did four laps on the track!!!)

Have you heard of "haul" videos? Where cheerful young women collect their inexpensive purchases from Forever XXI and H & M and then film themselves showing off their loot? It's not about what they spent, but about what they didn't spend. I'd never heard of such a thing, but I'm reading Overdressed, by Elizabeth Cline, and I'm learning both new things and things I already knew in my heart.

Cheap clothes are crap - this part I already knew. They don't lay well, they disintegrate quickly, they're inconsistent in color and construction. They are disposable. But they are surprisingly fashionable, as they knock off trends and runway styles at lightning speed. And - they're cheap, so you can buy the trend without sweating the cost. If a skirt is under $20 EVERY TIME, I'd be tempted too. The young women who buy these things are not stupid, and they're working for their money. When I was 20 and working at K-Mart, I shopped there.

But I was a big girl, and not much off the rack fit properly, so I started sewing my own clothes. (There is a wonderful chapter on the history and rebirth of home sewing in Overdressed.) In this way I got to know fabrics, and tailoring, and garment construction, and dye lots, and what selvedge means. When I was in my twenties, even cheap clothes were made fairly well, it was just that the fabrics weren't very nice. In my thirties I was working part-time, and had time to shop at Vogue Fabrics and spend my miniscule budget on fabric instead of finished products. I was always thinking, "I could MAKE that for ten bucks." 

These days, I aim to buy good clothes on sale. The voile skirt (sigh) is a fine example. Look at this lining and hem. The voile outerlayer has a hem that is actually a separate piece with a French seam and is closely topstitched top and bottom. Note also that it is anchored with a thread chain to the lining so it won't shift. The lining also has a fine flat hem, very even and straight. 

This is why this skirt  was originally $128, and why I waited until it was under $40 to buy it. Talbot's, like a host of other clothiers, got in righteous trouble in the 90s for making its clothes in sweatshops in Saipan, a territory of the U. S., so it could claim to be "made in the United States."  Now they're made in Indonesia or Viet Nam, though I know it is a comforting myth that the conditions in modern factories are much better.

They're still made well, though, and that's why fear clutches my heart at the thought of Talbot's going under, or sacrificing their quality. Where else would I shop?