Sunday, August 26, 2012

Daily outfits: Aug. 20-24

Some hits and some misses this week. But, what else is new?

Monday, Aug. 20

It's too bad I look like a crazy person in this photo, and my collar is all messed up, because I was actually really happy with this outfit. I happened to see this sweater and skirt sitting next to each other, and loved the colors together.

Tuesday, Aug. 21

Let's be honest, I wasn't really trying here. Although I do like how the necklace shape echoes the buckles on the shoes.

Wednesday, Aug. 22

Is this outfit work-appropriate? Probably not, but I looked good anyway.

Thursday, Aug. 23

My crowning achievement of the week!

This indigo skirt is one of the first vintage pieces I ever bought, and it's one of the only things still in my wardrobe that I had in high school. I think it's from the 1940s or thereabouts, but it is handmade, so it's ab it difficult to tell for sure. Unfortunately it's in awful shape and you can see the faded spots on the hem in this picture. I bought it at this amazing, crazy little shop called The Tweak Shop that was open the most random hours. I would always make a pilgrimage to it whenever I was downtown (it was kind of off the beaten path) and it was so hit-or-miss, I would get really excited when I actually got to go in and shop. I also bought an amazing pair of platforms there, but sadly I got rid of those somewhere along the way, probably in college when I got sick of hauling all my clothes around and jettisoned a ton of stuff I wish I had kept.

Anyway, I love the way this outfit looked, but I was terribly uncomfortable all day, mostly because of the damned high waist. I just can't do it. But such are the sacrifices we make for fashion, eh?

Friday, Aug. 24

I am trying to act like I feel cute in this outfit, but I know it is unflattering and I just should NOT wear loafers with a straight skirt, ever. It does not work.

I've started rolling out some fall items in the shop after a small hiatus. Please check them out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I have a confession to make.

I am not willing to spend money for clothes (or shoes) that are ethically made.

It is painful for me to admit this, but also important. Reading Roobedoo's Manifesto about ethical purchases and self-stitched garments forced me to examine my own practices and beliefs. And I did not like what I saw - namely, that my practices do not line up with my beliefs.

What this has meant over the years is me happily buying clothes from Walmart, H&M, Target and other retailers that I am pretty damn sure are made in sweatshops.

For many, many years, I have taken pride in finding bargains and not spending a lot of money on clothes. This felt like an end in and of itself. It allowed me to feel like I was living outside the mainstream consumer culture and thus somehow not "part of the problem." I bought my clothes off clearance racks, at discount retailers, yard sales, thrift stores and consignment shops, and I organized clothing swaps.

Some of this I am still OK with - proud of, even. Clothing swaps are rad, hands down. And at the swaps I helped put together, all leftover clothes were donated to local nonprofit organizations that I am proud to support.

I have no problem buying from consignment shops or yard sales. And there are a few local thrift stores, such as those that support the SPCA and Hospice, that I'm happy to support.

But, being perfectly honest, I spend most of my clothing dollars at the Salvation Army - an organization whose beliefs do not mesh with my own. I'm not denying that the Salvation Army does a great deal of good, including locally. Along with the Red Cross, the organization was one of the main local sources for aid when Hurricane Irene hit the region last year. But some of the Salvation Army's doctrine represents a philosophy I would prefer not to support. Yet, I do - with cash - on a regular basis.

And buying clothes made in Third World countries off the clearance rack is probably no different, in the grand scheme of things, than buying them at full price. If anything, maybe it's worse. Maybe I'm sending a message to the executives of these huge brands that I don't value their product enough to pay a fair price for it. Maybe that will bolster their efforts to do everything possible to keep production costs low - which might mean taking it out on the workers, or skimping on quality, neither of which I want to condone.

This is all really hard to own up to. In principle, I'm excited by homegrown companies or individuals who are making quality ethical clothing. But when the chips are down, I balk at spending the money on these garments. I have a very narrow comfort zone for what I'm willing to spend on clothes, and most of these items are well outside that range.

I don't know how to expand my horizons and allow myself to spend more than $100 on a pair of shoes. It feels indulgent, and forces me to ask the question, "Do I need this pair of shoes?" This is a question I don't force myself to answer when I'm spending $2. Which is not great either. Mindless consumption, even if it's only $2, even if the $2 is going to support a good cause, is not a good thing either.

So lately I have been buying very little at all, because I feel paralyzed by all these divergent impulses and influences. And maybe that's an answer in and of itself. Maybe I am learning through this process that I can go two or three months WITHOUT BUYING ANY CLOTHES (this is a radical idea for me) and - gasp! - still be relatively content. And maybe if my purchases become more sporadic and more thoughtful, it will be easier to commit a larger sum of money to something I know is ethically made and of a high quality. That's my hope, anyway.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Daily outfits: Aug. 14-17

I don't have a photo from Monday (I was planning to take one at lunchtime, but ended up working through my lunch break, sigh), which is too bad because it featured a cute new top I need to list in the shop. I may have to re-create that outfit (or a version of it) next week.

Tuesday, Aug. 14

I hardly ever wear this top, because I feel like the pink & orange combo is a bit tough. But I'm trying to work my way through all my summery clothes while I have the chance.

This entire outfit is from my local Salvation Army. I love that place. It's all I can do to not go shopping there every week. But I'm trying to cut back on my spending a little bit, and also to "shop my closet," which this outfit is a good example of.

Wednesday, Aug. 15

One in a series of outfits that I feel like make me look like a frumpy nurse. The caption for this photo could be "Johnny's Gone to War." But don't worry, Johnny; I'll ward off any potential suitors with the power of unflattering clothing! Sigh.

I actually love this dress; it's a nice knit wrap dress with elbow-length sleeves that I can pretty much wear any time of year. But a) you really have to wear heels with it to make it work and b) It's not as flattering as it was in my pre-pregnancy days. Somehow I thought adding this zip-up cardigan would help? Well, it didn't, but on the bright side, I did stay warm in my icebox of an office all day.

Thursday, Aug. 16

Nurse Emily is very serious in this picture because she didn't latch the door behind her and it blew open shortly before the picture was taken. Fear not, though, because all dogs and babies were properly secured at the time. However, I do think approximately 1,000 flies managed to get inside the house during the 5 seconds that the door was open.

This is yet another outfit that I liked in the mirror but hate in this photo. My posture isn't helping anything here. I love, love, love this vintage polka-dot knit top, but I think I should have belted the cardigan, not the top, so that I had more of a waist. And again, higher heels would have helped with a skirt of this length and cut, no?

Friday, Aug. 17

Have I mentioned that I love casual Friday?

Well, I do.

I busted this sleeveless knit top out of the depths of my closet - one of the few garments I have that's still wearable from the cross-country trip my (now-)husband and I took right after I graduated from college. We tried to visit thrift stores in every town where we stopped. This one is from Klamath Falls, Ore. The capris are from my local thrift store; shoes from eBay; and my beloved gray jacket is, of course, from JC Penney. Oh, the no-name sunglasses are also from my local thrift shop.

I only worked a half-day on Friday and spent the rest of the afternoon running errands - otherwise I would have worn my favorite red loafers. But they were just not practical for what I was doing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Would you? High waists

I just don't think I can do the high-waisted look.

Seriously, I don't think I can hang with jeans that come up this high. Or swimsuit bottoms.

I know it's not cool anymore to wear low-waisted pants, but it's just not in my comfort level to wear high-waisted stuff. I've tried. In fact, I wore a high-waisted skirt today, and I was miserable and uncomfortable. I couldn't tell if it looked good, but I was pretty sure it didn't look like me.

Then again, I said all this before about skinny jeans and leggings, and that didn't last. What trends did you reject at first, but come to accept (or even love)?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beauty in everyday life

Reading blogs often makes me feel like other people live these magazine-perfect lives compared to mine. Do you know what I mean? It can feel as if everyone but you lives this dust-, clutter- and wrinkle-free life. In Blogland, the lighting is always perfect, and no one seems to have baby spit-up or french fry grease or dog hair on their clothes. Their Pinterest-worthy houses or apartments are full of cute, beautiful or even awe-inspiring details, with no stacks of bills, empty soda cans, dirty socks or pizza boxes in evidence.

Of course, I know this isn't true. I know these people are human like anyone else, and probably have bad hair days and zits and spill milk on their shirt while eating cereal just like me.

I guess I just feel like my life never even comes close to this idealized world. I couldn't fake you out if I tried. If I put all my effort into it, I could never get you to believe that I live in a world of good lighting and beautiful things. Because, by and large, I don't.

But that's a kind of crabby, glass-half-empty way of looking at things, right? The truth is, there IS beauty all around me, every day. Whether it's the golden light cutting through the fog on a misty morning, or just brightly colored dishes drying in the sink, I can always find something around me that makes me smile.

So I try not to be jealous of bloggers whose lives look like they were styled by Martha Stewart, and remember that a) we all probably have a few dust bunnies under our sofas; and b) just because there's clutter doesn't mean there can't be beauty too. (And c) I should probably vacuum and dust more.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Daily outfits: Aug. 6-10

Oh my. Hello. Has it really been that long since I posted? My feeble excuse is that I left on a week-long vacation right after my last post ... but still. Sorry 'bout that.

Monday, Aug. 6

Let's just be honest here, I wasn't really trying with this outfit. I do like this dress; I think it's a pretty print, and it's comfortable and flattering. But it's not my best work.

Red-and-white floral knit dress: Forever 21 (thrifted)
Black kitten heels with cutouts: Payless

Tuesday, Aug. 7

This outfit was, like, take 10. I had planned on wearing something totally different that I don't even remember now. But my challenge to myself was to find a way to wear these great mustard-colored heels, which I love but haven't worn for more than a month.

Besides my derpy facial expression, I'm pretty pleased with this outfit.

Gray knit jacket: Loft (clothing swap)
Emerald knit shell with ruffles: TJ Maxx (gift)
Black skinny trousers: H&M (thrifted)
Round-toe mustard kitten heels with bow detail: Carlos (thrifted)
Gold statement necklace: Clothing swap

Wednesday, Aug. 8 

Three of my favorite pieces - although none of them are vintage, I feel like each has a vintage-inspired flair. Too bad my hair looked awful or I would have looked really nice that day! (I was smiling at my daughter in this shot, which explains why I actually look happy.)

Leopard-print knit dress: Clothing swap
Ivory shawl-collar sweater: Old Navy (thrifted)
Brown spectator T-strap heels: Bongo
Wooden necklace: Gift

Thursday, Aug. 9

Another disappointing outfit, if only because this top and trousers were bought at FULL RETAIL PRICE. To make matters worse, I bought them at the same time. Somehow this just seems wrong to me, like it's cheating.

Floral knit peasant blouse: a.n.a.
Gray trousers: Worthington
Black heels (not that you can see them): Hillard & Hanson (thrifted)

Friday, Aug. 10

OK. This is a total fail. I look like an angry nurse. I will say that I ran up and changed my shoes right before I left for work, but I don't think even my beloved huaraches were enough to save this outfit. Blargh.

Gray lightweight jacket: JC Penney
Blue and white print polo: Thrifted
Straight khaki skirt: TJ Maxx (gift)
White loafers: I'm just embarrassed I wore these, so never mind

As a reward to anyone who made it this far, I'm having a mega sale this weekend only. You can take 50 percent off everything in my Etsy shop with the coupon code SUPERSALE.