Thursday, July 25, 2013

You Look Just Fine

Words to live by. Yesterday I got several compliments; I preened my feathers and said thank you. Then I went home, snapped a couple of photos and was, um, less than thrilled with the results.

Hasn't looked at the picture yet.
I bought this cute tank from Garnet Hill in a lovely dove grey, but it was a little roomy in the armholes. I didn't have a clean white tank, so I stuck a little white tee under it and liked it in the mirror. I added leopard flats and a leopard scarf and liked it even more. La la la la.

I liked it all day and then I saw the picture, and whoa. Not happy. But - I had just read a blog post about the potential bullshit nightmare that is "figure flattering fashion" and I admit I am a slave to this myself. I'm always trying to look taller and thinner and smaller-chested and for all I know completely unlike myself. 

Now I don't know what to think. I really liked how the outfit felt, others liked it too - but the camera didn't. I am electing to forget about it, because it isn't a real problem, just a thought puzzle, but I am always curious to hear what YOU think (not about my outfit, about the thought puzzle). Do you ever say F*ck Flattering?

I opted for less thought-provoking today:

My $15 Land's End dress, Fidji pumps and a skinny yellow belt that might be Talbot's. The yellow in the dress is more mustardy than it looks in the lens. Not only was the dress only $15, it has a separate purple full slip that is perfect under my purple ponte dress. I dig my Fidji shoes and would like to own more of them.

Groovy, no?



Monday, July 22, 2013

Gray and Red

I was delighted with this Talbot's skirt. Nice to have a summery fabric (eyelet) in a sophisticated style (pencil). I wore an old favorite: a cross-dyed black and white linen shirt from Jones New York. I should take it in a bit; it's always been a bit floppy at the waist, but that was fine on a July day. I wore my Miz Mooz red pumps because my toes are getting a breather from polish and must be concealed.

I have rather mad hair as I gave in to the humidity and slathered my hair with Aveda Confixor.

I've been thinking more about the idea of buying one great thing instead of five pretty good items. It's kind of freeing. I have spent a lot of time trying to fill (possibly imaginary) holes in my wardrobe; searching for the "right" red summer skirt or the "perfect" gray tee. There isn't a lot of room for inspiration to strike in that scenario, not to mention that I end up with three different pink skirts because I've been thinking about them constantly.

The big, grand, fantastic purchases loom large in your head. You don't forget that you have a perfectly fabulous purse at home when you spent $300 on it. These purchases can and should be unique, too - not just another pencil skirt to wear to work. 

What if you could only buy clothes that were NOT on sale? What about buying only things that cost MORE than $200? I spent the weekend "flipping" purchases in my head that way. About a decade ago, I began to feel that the $40 items were preventing me from ever getting the big ticket items. I had 40 pairs of shoes and was still sitting on the scruffy couch we got when we got married. I tried aiming for more expensive things, but because I didn't really get the hang of it, I would up with some nice stuff and a boat load of debt.

Big (whatever that means to you) pieces feel risky. What if you stain it the first time you wear it, or gain weight and can't fit into it? It's not just clothes, of course. What if you drop that piece of pottery when dusting and it shatters? What if you leave it in a hotel somewhere (I've done that a few times) after buying it on vacation? And don't get me started on losing jewelry or breaking a heel, because when you wear it, you WEAR it, and it wears out. I could potentially keep a painting the rest of my life, but nothing that I put on will last forever.

Again with the aspect of freedom, though. If I buy something expensive, I'm not going to look at anything else that month. This might take some getting used to, but not if I am completely occupied with admiring my lovely new fill-in-the-blank. It was certainly super fun looking at $300 shoes on 6 PM.

Think! Chiara $240

What's New, Part Q

We're enjoying a typical hot, sticky Chicago week, so all bets are off as to what is appropriate for office wear. As Heidi said, we all go a bit feral when the air conditioning fails. We've had a couple of brown-outs that didn't last long, but when the chillers stop, it takes a while to get them rolling again in an 80,000 square foot building. Wow, I know way too much about HVAC.

I wore some new stuff, especially loving the new (eBay) Talbot's silk skirt, that I also own in a golden brown. I'd also love it in the deep burgundy Baccara Rose, if I can find it someday. Again with the multiples - that is a hard habit to break.

The tank is from Kohl's (Simply Vera Vera Wang), and it shows a bra strap or two, but who cares when it is in the nineties. I brought a pink pashmina in case it got cool in the office (it really didn't).

And look! The pencil skirt fairies came!

Red eyelet Talbot's pencil skirt

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pink and Blue Redux

Here's the lovely Ann Taylor pink pencil skirt. I went to Pinterest for inspiration, and repinned a few possibilities, but went with a Boden top, which never fails. I just realized that I wore this top less than a week ago, with my other new pink skirt. Huh. The skirt is a little roomy, which is pleasant on such a hot, sticky day.

It wouldn't hurt to have something at the waist, would it? Perhaps a silver belt? It seems like the waist is a little high. Other than that, I am completely happy. Note that this is my third pink skirt. Time to stop.

Heather, I'm really going to try the one fabulous thing a month approach. I've always been a quantity over quality girl (makeup, food, clothes, jewelry), and sometimes that works fine (jewelry), and sometimes not so much. The quantity approach allows you to have multiple little rewards. But that Ralph Lauren purse was really a lesson to me. It is great and I will love it for a long time. I'm not sure that will be true of an $80 t-shirt, but it is still worth a try.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cool Neutrals

It's about a billion degrees with comparable humidity, so I ironed the hell out of my hair, and wore the white linen skirt. I was originally thinking yellow on top, but it seemed too cute.* Grey seemed a little more sophisticated, and I have a board meeting tonight. This will post while we're sitting down to dinner afterward.

The Ann Taylor skirt is pretty fab. It is lined, is a comfortable but not dowdy length, and has a perfectly flat yoke at the waist. It's also very easy to iron because it has no pleats, yay! With it I wore a Talbot's tee, grey and silver jewelry, and my new Miz Mooz sandals, which also kind of thrill me. They can be blue or green depending on what I need, and so comfortable. I'd like to get a new grey tee. This one is getting a little worn, and I'd like a little longer sleeve as well as a bit darker grey. But still, satisfactory for a rainforest day.

*I wore a pale yellow t-shirt with an olive skirt to run errands over the weekend, and everytime I glimpsed my reflection, I grimaced. A very pale yellow is not good for me at all. Strong yellow seems OK, I still love my sweaters and yellow military jacket. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's New, Pussycat?

Buffy helps me balance my checking account.
She's so fluffy I could die! (Agnes in Despicable Me). Yesterday, Riley was hopping and diving on an invisible cat toy, and when I bent over to look closely, it was a Tylenol. *sigh* I must get some real cat toys. Or look under the couch.

This is what's new, pussycat, or at least new to me. They aren't grouped as outfits, just in ways you can see what is there. First, a rust-colored silk Talbot's skirt via eBay, and a multi-colored tank from Kohl's.

A navy and white gingham button-front shirt from J. Crew and a white linen skirt, Ann Taylor via eBay.

The white skirt again, sorry, an electric blue shell from Ann Taylor, a pink lace pencil skirt from Ann Taylor, and a pink floral tee from Talbot's. The floral tee sounds kind of lame, but it fits great and is a flattering color. It will be cute with white jeans at the very least. This also makes three different pink skirts in my closet.

I will try to wear most of these seven new items this week, and tell the absolutely fascinating stories of why I bought them. All of these things seemed very important at the time I purchased them. 

Today, I wore this:

Aerosoles flats, blue eBay skirt and the lace top I bought a few months ago cheapy-cheap. This was inspired by an ensemble in the latest Sundance catalog, and I have leather accessories to pay homage to Mr. Redford. My hair is doing me no favors; it is wildly humid and I'm overdue for a bang trim. I might just go full-on curly tomorrow and embrace the rainforest.

The Sundance catalog moved me to make, yet again, the resolution to shop somewhere different, to try to evolve my personal style another notch, to buy one great thing a month instead of five good things. I think a higher price point will force me to buy only the things I adore, and not just the "Hey, it's an affordable white linen skirt - you want that!"  And more tunics, I want to find a way to wear that interesting and different proportion of long over lean. It looks so graceful and stylish on other people.

Willow Cardigan, $158 at Sundance.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Pink and Blue

In silhouette, this is almost exactly the same outfit I wore yesterday. A loose, flowy top over a pencil skirt, with low sandals. the skirt is a variant of the Talbot's dark denim skirt I bought a few weeks ago, this time in a pale rose. Finally, a denim skirt I can love. I would have bought it in red also, but that sold out very quickly. The top is Boden, a rayon crepe in shades of blue to honor my manicure, and the aqua shoes are Miz Mooz. I also kind of want them in every color - pink! cognac! 

That blurry, overexposed image was the best of seven photos, seriously. Here's a better pic of the shoes and their wacky snake-ish leather. They are on sale at Zulily if you are interested - better than Amazon!
Miz Mooz Papaya


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Linen and Lace

Huh. I guess I forgot to publish this. Pretend it is July 11th, OK?

It looks like I'll be wearing blue all week - I certainly have a gracious plenty of it. I had thought to wear a white button-front shirt with the navy lace skirt, but when I tried it on, I realized (again) that I just don't like them. To my mind, "crisp" means stiff, and because they're so fitted they pit out really quickly (TMI?). I wore a nice blousey linen top instead.

I have on my turquoise necklace and earrings, and my cool new Everybody (by B Z Moda) sandals.

I loooove them. I bought them at Shoe Metro where they were insanely marked down. The leather is very soft and smooth, the back zipper doesn't even tickle, and the little heel is just right. I think they will look nice with pants too.

My skinny ankles are paying off this year, as there are so many mid-heel sandals with ankle straps, which look good (she said modestly) on my feet.  In addition to pleasing my ego, ankle straps make sandals feel very secure. My narrow heels mean I tend to walk out of or at least flop around in my shoes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wish Fulfillment

This top was one of the very first things I pinned to a Pinterest board. I bought it last week when it went on sale, and that makes the satisfaction I feel even sweeter. 
Vince Camuto rose print top from Lord and Taylor, blue Halogen skirt via eBay, Arturo Chiang sandals. The really brilliant thing about the top is that it contains red, black blue and even a forest green, so it is really interesting visually (depth) and will go with everything.

Matching manicure:

I brought a short-sleeved, red knit cardigan to throw on in the office AC.

Now I feel that I must stop shopping. I don't even mean just PURCHASING, but browsing, stalking, considering, watching. My eyes and my wallet need a break.

As I wrote this I knew I was lying. I'm just a girl whose intentions are good.
Still, you'll be seeing new things from my closet and new combinations of things I don't wear often enough.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cute? Or Flattering?

I am generally more entertained by commercials than the show I am purportedly watching. When I first saw those A T & T commercials with the little kids (especially the one where a girl pretends to be a werewolf), I fell off my chair laughing. 

A clever commercial in rotation now is the "X or Y" commercial from Ford, where the car owners consider that AND is better than OR. My favorite is the police that protect OR serve. "Hey, stop right there! Can we get you something to eat! We have a nice sea bass with rice or roasted vegetables!"

Hee hee. Oh, all right, I'm easily amused, but this made me think of yesterday's outfit (no picture, sorry), which was definitely cute. But was it flattering? All the pieces were cute: pink linen jacket, a tank in navy and pinks, and a raspberry pencil skirt. The jacket is styled like a denim jacket (seen here with a dress):


That pale pink is a good color on me and there is pretty embroidery inside the cuffs. But is it flattering? It is a little boxy, and the wrinkly nature of linen mixed with denim jacket styling means lots of rumpling around the placket, pockets, etc. The jacket construction means it is impossible to alter as well, so I can't nip in the waist a bit. And for me, having a waist is EVERYTHING.

Sometimes it feels like someone is moving the goalposts. What kind of world do we live in where cute is not enough!!! Ahem.

This morning, I cast a stern glance at this combination:

Talbots swishy skirt, Lord and Taylor cardigan, Kenneth Cole sandals. Now, I have been stopped by strangers on the street complimenting these shoes, and their lightness certainly suits the airy fabrics I am wearing. Better than these shoes:   

But the longer leg (because of the three inch heel) is more flattering than the perfectly flat sandal.

So. Cute? Or flattering?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Tablet Envy

I spent a lot of the conference wishing I had my own tablet. Everyone seemed to have one, and they looked so useful and convenient.  Also, because I use my phone for everything, I fear I'm wearing it out faster than the library will be willing to replace it. Their lifecycle is every two years, and we're only a year into it.

I also shudder to think how much easier shopping will be on a tablet. Online shopping is waaayyy too easy. If I had to go to a store every time I wanted new shoes, I would have many fewer pairs. And if I had fewer shoes, I might have more money to spend on a tablet. Huh. Maybe in the fall, they aren't that expensive.

Here's what I wore on Wednesday. Some old favorites; the brown linen pants, the blindingly white denim jacket, plus cheerful yellow Miz Mooz sandals that make me three inches taller, and an eight dollar yellow Ann Taylor top that you can't really see.

It's bright yellow and striped!
Ann Taylor has been very good to me lately. They have lovely colors and excellent sales, and their tops and dresses suit my figure challenges. I've never found pants I liked there, but in the last month I've bought three tops and a dress for great prices. I'm watching a drapey orange crepe dress, but it is still over $90 and I can't pull the trigger yet.

We had our usual community fun on the Fourth by walking in the parade, and this is what we wore!

Check out Heather getting into her Lady Liberty costume in the background. Last year it was the temperature of the sun, and I went home afterwards and lay on the floor with a bag of frozen peas on my head, but this year it was perfect: breezy and sunny.

Next year we will have some folks dress up as Kindles and iPads and iPhones and show the community all the ways that you can read.

"What a fascinating modern age we live in."
- Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, Master and Commander -

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Conference Fatigue

We just wrapped up the 2013 ALA Conference here in Chicago, and I have a lingering headache that is a result of information overload and the general noise and hoopla of 25,000 excited librarians roaming cavernous McCormick Place.

This conference is never as much FUN as PLA, mostly because it is so big and broad-based that it has to be held in New York, Miami or Chicago, three cities that are generally tiring and hot at the end of June. We were lucky to have cooler weather while the rest of the country is suffering massive heatwaves, and of course, having the conference in town means you can sleep in your own bed at night.

Not to mention having your own closet to choose from.  I wore pants for two days, and was glad not to have bare legs in the cool outdoors and the AC indoors, but on Sunday I dressed up a bit and wore my new top from Ann Taylor.

It's a double layer of chiffon in the body, and a single layer in the sleeves; one of those tops in which you feel very girly. The skirt was an eBay purchase, a Halogen ponte skirt, that is really more green/turquoise than the aqua I see on my screen. It is fairly short (or at least felt that way), but since it is very stretchy, it doesn't ride up when I sit down. The shoes are my Earthies, which make me nice and tall, but have great arch support for walking around on concrete floors all day.

The conference played out for me on a few themes. The first was measurement. Libraries everywhere are looking for more sophisticated and concrete output measures as they see their users embracing digital services (hard to quantify) AND find themselves having to justify their worth to various authorities. So, I went to programs measuring summer reading club effects, surveying users, the LJ stars and how to use the data for evaluation and planning.

STEM and MAKE were two very popular words this year, as libraries celebrate the DIY culture, and often combine this kind of programming with emphasizing science and math literacy. I went to several programs filled with enthusiastic youth librarians and older folks like me trying to reframe our thoughts and history with these subjects. Most of my generation came to public libraries because we were humanities majors, not science and math people. I'm glad to say we are in our third year of a large Science Expo, and it is only going to grow and spin off into little maker groups this fall. Mark Frauenfeld was truly exciting and infectious as he spoke about the last 100 years (mentioning Hugo Gernsback to my joy!) of making and creating at an amateur level, and how the tech revolution had inspired thousands of people to get back down to their basement with new tools.

My personal third track was leadership, and becoming a more helpful and supportive administrator and manager. I've never thought I was a born leader or even a very empathetic person, but I can learn, and I've had great examples to follow. In this vein I attended programs on organizational change and community engagement and plain old leadership.

Some of my favorite quotes or thoughts were:

"Librarians teach compassion."  (Alice Walker)

"Libraries have rebranded themselves as the technology hub of their community." (Lee Rainie)

"Making is not a solitary activity; it is father/daughter, husband/wife, expert/amateur, it is collaborative." (Mark Frauenfeld)

"Every institution in this country has lost trust in this generation - church,  government, banks - except for libraries." (Lee Rainie)

And this slide, illustrating a classic "perilous" leader:

A well-known 1974 image of President Richard M. Nixon by Charles Tasnadi, who became a photographer after fleeing communist Hungary.
Photo by Charles Tasnadi, 1926-2008