Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Everyday Me.

Who has the time, energy, or lifestyle to dress up everyday as a stay at home mom?  Not me.  I mean, can you see me chasing around my daughter or doing dishes wearing a silk blouse and trousers?  Does a janitor dress in formal wear?  Nope. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that I need to wear sweats everyday.   Are there some days that I do?  You bet!  Mainly though I like to keep a semblance of humanity in the way I dress.  I haven’t given up yet and I sure won’t surrender through my clothing. 
So what do I wear when I’m not going out to the store, or out for enjoyment?  I love to have a perfect balance between style, femininity, comfort, and washability. 

Generally during these winter months I have gone with a simple button down shirt, loose enough that I don’t get the “boob gap” but darted in enough to remind me that I do have curves.  Rolling up the sleeves gives me more movement and comfort.   I pair this with some looser fitting skinny jeans and usually some slippers (if it’s cold enough to require it).  I may not do my makeup everyday (mostly it just gets hard on my skin) but I always make sure I am at least clean and tidy looking and my hair is kept. 
 (slipper/knitted socks-hippie store in minnesota, handmade $10, Shirt- American Eagle $10, Jeans- Old Navy (diva skinny) $15)

This way, when my husband comes home at the end of the day he isn’t being greeted by the homeless woman he doesn’t remember marrying;)

I don’t want my readers feeling daunted or overwhelmed by the thought of achieving a more stylish you.  I want you to understand that life happens and your wardrobe needs to be conducive to your lifestyle.  Even if it requires going to the office everyday, it has to work for you.  Always have a degree of respect for how you look because there can be a middle ground.  We all have our days that end in sweats and greasy hair but if we can keep ourselves human for most of the time, we will maintain our dignity.  It DOES matter what you think about how you look, because it will eventually seep into your inner motivations and self esteem. 

I am all about style, but I am also a mom and a homemaker, which comes with a degree of humility in the way I dress.   I will always strive to have a sense of style through it all but I have to be realistic.  A mom’s care tag should always read: Machine Washable, tumble dry.  If it didn’t we would be damaged, shrunken, tattered messes!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nifty & Thrifty

Yesterday I was able to go out…. BY MYSELF!  If you’re a mom you know what a rarity this is and I took full advantage.  Besides the trip to the grocery store, which was my excuse to get out in the first place, I went thrifting!  I needed to clean out their mason jars as we are gathering things to can with in the not so distant future.  As I was wandering around the store this skirt caught my eye:

I love it.  My initial thought about this skirt (the thought that I have every time I find a piece of clothing) was first: will I wear it? Yes.  Second: do I have things to pair it with?  Heck Yes!  This skirt is so versatile!  For two dollars I bought a piece of clothing that will be put to great use.  So as I went to take photos of it I thought it would be great to show some of the options this skirt has for styling.

 (top left: top-f21 $5, belt-f21 $4, earrings-payless $2, shoes- (Jessica Simpsons) Ross-$12 top right: shade shirt-downeast outfitters $12, lace crop top f21 $15, shoes-thrifted $3 bottom: top-downeast outfitters $24, shoes- urban outfitters $8, earrings- thrifted (clip ons;))

So, about the first outfit, I went with something tight for the top.  I love that it lets the skirt be the fullest and shows off the cinch at the waist line giving me a very feminine look. And don't you just die over that bow in the back?! The heels add even more sophistication to this look, I think it's quite sexy!

The second outfit has one of my favorite effects. I paired the skirt with a tight undershirt shirt and topped it off with a cropped top.  Then I used the belt to draw attention to that smaller middle area.  (When you do this you have to make sure that there is enough room between the bottom and the top to show the pretty waist line)  You get a curvy effect mixed in with straight giving you more comfort because nothing is really that tight. And let me just say that this lace crop top from f21 has become a staple in my wardrobe! If you don't have one, get one!

The third look is this looser fitting top tucked into the skirt. (My ribs are sticking out in this picture because I needed to shimmy the skirt down, but give me a break, I was changing into outfits and darting between my camera and the wall because at this point my remote's battery went out;P.) Even though I paired a skirt that is loose and gathered with a loose fitting shirt it worked.  The reason? Because this shirt it is a poly blend cotton.  This means it has a little stretch in it, keeping it from being too limp at the waist line, or gathering to create bulk.  Instead it gives a stretched gather, therefore keeping the shape small and curvy.  

So go and have fun with an item in your wardrobe and see how many ways you can pair it, you'd be surprised at the variety of looks you get!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Goodbye sweet layers...

We’ve interrupted your usually stimulating and informative posts to bring you this message: Spring is Coming!!!!  But before I say farewell to the frozen tundra that I live in I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about losing my excuse to layer.  Anyone else?  So I’ve decided to dedicate this posts to those layers I am about to put away until next year.
{hat-American Eagle $3, Jacket- Rue21 $12, Gloves- Forever21$3, Shirt-thrifted (found in a random hippie shop in Minnesota where they sold hundreds of baja pullovers and everything smelled like marijuana, including this shirt, thankfully it came out;) $10, Jeans- old navy$15, boots- gift, no makeup= one of those days}

First there’s my boots:  I have been switching between my Minnetonka moccasins and MIA caramel leather boots since I got them for Christmas and they have been my babies!  The MIA boots work great with any pant, I even tucked my grey slacks into them and it gave it that riding pant feel.  My moccasin boots are best paired with a tighter pant and a higher rise on a shirt or a shorter button down, I love how I feel in them, so edgy. 

*A little bit of background because you might notice that a lot of my shoes were purchased this year around the holidays.  My rotation for all my shoe needs happened to land at the same time so my Christmas this year consisted of shoes, shoes and more shoes.  Can’t complain about that!

Now we come to my coat.  This was my Christmas present from my mom just over a year ago.  We went into Rue21 and found this baby for a very cheap price.  When we came upon it the coat was missing a few of it’s buttons so we were able to talk it down to an even lower amount than it was already on clearance for.  When we moved to Denver, CO last year around that time I found some fun buttons at an amazing vintage fabric store to replace the missing ones and it really became mine.  I call it my “Black Parade” coat (My Chemical Romance anybody?). 

A fun story on my “bum” gloves.  I have been addicted to fingerless gloves for about the last five years and always keep my eyes open.  I found these ones at a Forever21 in Spokane, WA.   They were the last pair ($3) and as I bought them the girl at the counter groaned, saying that she was going to buy them.  Sorry. 

My hat is way on sale American Eagle and it’s nice to have a hat that actually keeps my head warm while looking good.  I also love the read color; there is something about this red knit with threads of blue that intrigues me lately. 

So I am torn about spring rearing it’s big beautiful head because I am going to miss my good ‘ol reliables.  You’ve been great and I will not forget you, we will make sure to mark your bin in large legible print! 

I am linking up with Wonder Forest's Selfie Saturday, theme props, I consider layers to be a prop;)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thrift it! Thrift it good....

Thrifting, if you don’t, do.   I love to go to the thrift store (caution: this post may lead you to buy an array of things you don’t need but are still distinctly awesome!).  When I find a good thrift store it’s like finding a treasure trove.  I must get this from my dad, who used to go to yard sales on Saturdays and come home with things that made my mom stifle a scream;P.  A good thrift store is usually the type to get a lot of the estate liquidations, maybe in an older but nicer area.
I am going to switch gears here for a moment but don't worry, it applies.  My mom is an amazing seamstress, and growing up I used to watch her sew and tried to have her teach me about fifty times.  Usually it just ended in a drooling nap with my mom taking over my project since I wasn't getting it done.  I even took a décor sewing class in college but had yet to put any of my skills to the test .  
One thing that kept me from sewing a lot was the depressing realization that sometimes buying the fabric to make something cost more than to buy the thing itself.  This realization appealed to my realist side and I found myself holding back.  That is until I discovered thrifted fabrics!  I love buying thrifted fabrics.  I have a hard time not buying everything in the fabric section when I go.  Not only do I find cool vintage prints but I have also found a lot of bulk fabrics in plain colors for lining or complimenting bright fun patterns.  Not to mention the sheets and pillow cases I have purchased that will become adorable dresses for Lucy! 

{this is a Pillow case dress I made for Lucy last fall, everything on this outfit, besides the undershirt, is thrifted, total cost $2}

For the last year or so I had been doing easier projects that didn't need a pattern (pillow case dresses, circle skirts, simple skirts, etc). Last November I used my first pattern.  I have been loving it ever since.  

So I took some photos of just some of the thrifted fabrics I have obtained, a lot of them I have already started putting into use, but because I am a perfectionist I want to take good pictures of my projects before I show them off on here;P
  I am linking up with Harper's Happenings thrifty Thursdays:

Monday, March 5, 2012

"That is so You!"

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this phrase.  Standing in a store with one of my friends as they held an item up to me accompanied by this expression, my inner interpretation was “this is something I would never wear but you would…cause you’re crazy”. But this is not (always;) the case.
I hope that I will have an effect on my readers.  That you will be motivated and armed with information to change your clothing choices to better fit your life and body (as well as budget).  But in the process I also want clothing to become a way of expression.  In other words, I don’t ever want “you” to go away (unless that “you” is a bag lady than we might have bigger issues to tackle).  It’s important that clothing be comfortable in that it feels like something you picked out and is a proper expression of you, not a copy of someone else. 
For example, one of my favorite fashion icons is Zooey Deschanel (no kidding;) but there are things that she wears that I wouldn’t because they aren’t a reflection of me but of her.  I still think she looks great in them, but I would feel like I was wearing someone else’s clothes if I wore some of the clothing she sports. 
So what am I saying?  You need to find your medium.  What is it that draws you in, and what do you want to express through your clothing.  If you are cheery and love bright colors, do bright colors.  If you are more sullen and dramatic it’s okay to do a lot of dark.  Just do it right.  Don’t go with bright pastels or don’t wear all black.  Go for more flattering jewel tones or dark shades.  Use the rules in combination with your personality.  It’s all about finding an appropriate and flattering balance. 
I am an artist, I am feminine, and I am a bit of a geek. That said I don’t wear tunics, doilies and Urkel pants.
You can also look to the things that inspire you like music, nature, or even the area you live in.   For me it has always been a bit of a southwestern vibe, the turquoise, the burnt colors and the overall Native American influence has always fascinated me.
I know that in my last post I talked about pleasing someone else (my husband) with my clothing choices.  That is such a rare occasion though, which is why I’ve had to perfect the process before I went way overboard in trying to please someone else.  This is why finding a balance was important.  “Beeee yourself” as the genie would say, otherwise you will get lost. 
So I hope you have evaluated your bodies already.  If you haven’t or missed the post go here and think about it, because now I want you to evaluate your style.  Think about those things that you are inspired by and what you want to reflect (don’t feel too nerdy about making a list, this could help a lot!).  It’s so important to get out of your comfort zone when you get into a clothing rut, this doesn’t mean going to the moon.  Go to a place that is between you and the moon.  It may be “so you” but in a good, flattering, appropriate way!

 (Sweater, shade shirt and jeans: Old Navy $6, $5, $15 (day after Christmas sale baby!), Shoes: Minnetonka/Gift $59, Earrings: Rue21$1)

Important notes on this outfit: Any length of boot will cut off your legs so don't wear a shirt that is too long or the length of your leg will be lost.  If paired with a skirt make sure it is a shorter skirt with tights or a maxi that covers the "cankles" these boots will give you.  This shirt was bordering on too long but when I saw what it was doing I scruntched it up a bit and it fixed the problem!  If you have a long button up on you can just tie it in the front to bring it up and give more interest and show of your natural curve!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Date Night! (what to wear)

I always find myself in somewhat of a conundrum when it comes to dressing up for date night.  Just as much as I used to find it back when I was single (sorry girls, it never ends!).  The reason I have such a hard time is because I know what my husband would like me to dress in.  For some reason the word “hooker” comes into mind.  I also know what I think is cute…yep, I said cute, that kind of kills it for date night, huh?

I’ve gone the “pleasing my husband” route and the “I think I look stylish and cute” route, but each time I went the extreme it just didn’t feel right.  On the one scenario I felt out of place and not like myself.  On the other I found myself making sure we didn’t go to a restaurant with t.v.’s because I’m pretty sure they would have gotten more attention than me from my husband;)

So I have finally come to find a happy medium.  A little bit of sex appeal mixed with my own quarky style.  To understand my breakdown I need to show you what I was working with.

First there is my style:
 (top: old navy, pants and belt:f21, earrings: downeast outfitters, shoes: gift)

As we talked about in my last post I am creating a more curvaceous feminine shape here (remember how I don’t have hips, I am creating some here with the pleated front on the pant, even a little over exaggerated which makes my waist look a lot smaller in comparison)  I love the black pleated front slacks with the stripe boat neck top, cinched in at the waist with the caramel colored belt.  This monochromatic look is then given a little more of a push with the contrasting pattern on the leopard shoe.  My hair is a little back from my face giving this look a more sophisticated edge.  Because my hair is back I have my good ol’ owl earrings to add some sparkle and give it a full vintage feel. 

So cute, right?  Just to give you an idea, when I came down the stairs in this my husband looked like he was bracing himself, physically, because he knew he would have to tell me how cute I looked even though he was disappointed that his date night was obviously going to be t.v.-less;)

Then there is what my husband would want me to wear:
 (cardi: gap, top: maurices, jeans: nine west, shoes: rue21, earrings: gift)

Keep in mind it is cold outside and as a general rule for myself I like to be more covered up.  All of these reasons made it really hard to put together a look that went more in the street walker direction so this is as close as I got (although each piece of clothing probably could have been pealed off of me, it was pretty tight).  I added some sparkle by my chest to emphasize my good…um….features.  I then paired this skin tight shirt with my skinniest jeans in a dark, formal wash.  The cardigan was just to cover my arms from the cold but also to bring out my turquoise dangly earrings (my husband loves a dangly earring on me but so does my daughter so you can see why they never last long on me;)  Now about my hair, I had it down, because that’s what my husband likes, gives it a more feminine look.  I have to add though that if my husband really had his way and I wasn’t working on a timeline I would have had my hair curly and big as well.  Now what would a proper woman of the night be without her 5’’ red heels?  It just wouldn’t have been complete with out themJ As I went to our room to change into the combination look my husband was begging me not to change a thing.;)

Finally we have the combination look:
 (top: oldnavy, jeans: nine west, earrings: downeast outfitters, shoes: shoebuy.com)

For the combination I took elements from each look and pulled them together, giving it a more sexy look while keeping to my own sense of style.  I kept the top half of my outfit.  I might have kept the earrings had they worked with the look of the boatkneck shirt but it wasn’t meant to be.  The shirt I have on is looser so I was comfortable pairing it with the skinny jean.  Then to add that pop of red at the heel that my husband likes I wore these 3.5’’ red satin heels (a bit more of a comfortable height for me) with the black to tie in the top. 

I am happy to report that we went to a restaurant with tv’s and they didn’t get any undue attention.  My husband loved the combination look and I felt comfortable and like myself throughout the night!

I am linking up for the very first time with Harper's Happenings for Stepp'n out Saturdays (I have been wanting to do this forever, but now I have a forum for it!:)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Own your Body!

The first thing that we need to know before being able to dress ourselves appropriately is our body.  Once we understand our shape we can know what to highlight as well as what to hide.  I took so many little surveys growing up and read so many articles to try and figure out what “shape” I was.  Evidently I am an apple, carrot, triangle, grape (okay, I made up the grape part but you get what I mean;).  We can’t put ourselves into a box. Nobody has the exact same body as someone else, though they may be similar.  We need to figure out what makes ours different.

We each only have one body to dress (unless you have kids, in which case they are super easy cause they look cute in EVERYTHING).   So it’s not too hard to analyze ourselves, we just need to take the time out to do it.  It has taken me years to finally put down the articles and look at myself in the mirror, then apply the rules. 
So let’s take a look at my body, yep, I have no shame if it helps my readers to start their process than I am happy to help.

First off, I am almost completely straight up and down, not a lot of curve (this doesn’t mean I am tiny however, just straight) bust-36’’, waist-31’’, hips-38’’, see what I mean? 
My rib cage is HUGE!  My ribs sit at 34.5’’.  And on a gross note, I have always been able to stick my hand under them.  I am a common insult: “big boned”. Really though, I am.  I am not a skinny minnie by any means but my bones still stick out everywhere and makeup a lot of my mass.  This largeness in my ribs doesn’t stop at the front of me but goes all the way to the back.  Therefore I have to watch for the hunchback effect when I get clothes (I never get anything that adds bulk there and have to be careful with things like turtlenecks or appliqués because they can highlight that area).

I have zero hips, in fact I’m pretty sure I indent at the spot where my hips should be.
I must be related to Neville because I have a very long bottom (push up glasses on nose and snort).   The length from the smallest part of my waist to the end of my bottom is a long stretch. 
My torso is very short, and since most of it is taken up with ribs I have hardly any left to highlight and when I sit down my waist completely disappears! 
All of these are followed by small to medium sized arms, chicken thighs and actually some pretty decent calves (they’re my best feature). 

So what does all of this mean?  I’m not demeaning my body by any way in doing this. It’s good to recognize what you’re working with, but there is nothing wrong with having a body that is different.  The fact is that no one has the “ideal body.  What we do have is OUR BODIES that we need to own with confidence and knowledge.  As Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s “What Not to Wear” are always saying, “don’t dress for the body you want, dress the body you have” you will be much happier that way. 

So, now that you have evaluated your body it’s time to ask yourself, what shape do I want?

There are two shapes that a woman could want, curvy or straight.  One is more feminine and the other more trendy, I like to take turns with them myself.

When it comes to getting a curvy shape you need to highlight the smallest part of you.  This is going to be somewhere in you middle area.  Don’t put a “measuring tape” around the largest part of your torso if you are going for a curvy shape, it will make you appear larger.  For example I cannot personally ever wear an empire waist shirt or dress, (I used to, back before I knew better, and looking back at photos, I looked pregnant!) so I need to have my tops or dresses dart or gather in a little down from my rib area, but not too low or it hits my pooch (we all have one, I don’t care how small you are you don’t want to highlight it).  Now on the other hand if your smallest area is under your bust at your ribs than go for something that hugs bellow the bust, it will look lovely.  If you are small breasted and small around your entire rib cage area you can get away with shirts that tighten at the chest and flow down, just remember that it will border on giving you more of a straight frame.  Which brings me to my next point.  

If you are going for a straight frame than don’t feel wrong about highlighting those good parts of you with something tighter, just remember that the other part will need more flow.  For those of us who are larger on top, this can be done with a large sweater or slouchy tee topping a pair of cigarette or skinny pants.  For those with smaller portions on top, this is accomplished by wearing a tighter, figure hugging top paired with a straight leg trouser that flows away from the body. 

Keep in mind that there are times you can break the rules, but you need to try things on and be smart. Always give yourself a waist and make sure that you are never adding texture to areas with more bulk to begin with, this will only make you look ten times larger or grotesquely proportioned. 

In future posts I will give more detailed advice but until then get to know your body. It’s unlike anyone else’s and deserves your attention.  Knowing your style is only the second half of the battle.  The first is knowing what you’re dressing so you don’t end up looking like a clown.