Friday, December 9, 2011


Just wanted to pop my head in and reassure you all that I'm still here! The last couple of months, my spare time primarily went to directing a musical for the university's musical theater group...we did a production of Children of Eden, a show based on stories from Genesis retold to be about parent-child dynamics. I've done some directing/choreography of smaller pieces, but this was my first time directing a full-length musical (for which I also did almost all of the choreography). Amazingly fun, and kept me amazingly busy!

I wanted to share just a couple of pictures from our final dress rehearsal. At this point, the set wasn't finished (the beautiful, dangerous Tree of Knowledge made out of cut metal leaves was still bare) and we didn't have lighting cues... but it's a taste of the show.

Adam and Eve are banished from Eden.

Noah and his family on the Ark

At the end, the cast appeals to the audience to find their own Eden.

What else has been going on? I've been working on the proposal for my Ph.D. general exams, due next week; basically you pick three areas that you want to study (that overlap to form the area of your planned dissertation research), read a lot in all of those fields, and then be tested (in written and oral exams) on your ability to think through problems in those areas and how those areas can connect. I'll be taking these exams in June.

I've been doing some cooking and baking and holding brunch parties...the thrifted waffle maker has been getting some good use. Also, fresh cranberries in waffles are amazing. The boyfriend and I had also been talking for a while about getting a bread maker, but weren't yet willing to pay the fairly steep prices for one. However, we found a machine in a local thrift store, with an "as is" tag on it... since the tag read in full "$2, as is," we had to get it and at least give it at try!

Result: bread! I can now make INFINITE BREAD with basically no effort! I've since tried a buttermilk dill loaf, which was really nice. Raisin bread will likely be the next attempt.

And now we're already coming up on the holidays much, much faster than I realize. I can't believe it's December -- the sun seems to be setting so much earlier than I remember happening in other years. The dark and cold have really hit me harder than normally; with it getting dark by 4:30, I have no idea when it's actually time to go to sleep. Strange! Anyone else looking forward to the return of more light and more warmth, or are you excited for snowstorms? (or both?)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Visual FBFF: Refashioning!

In alternate weeks for Fashion Beauty Friend Friday, we're doing visually-based posts hosted by a variety of FBFF members. I'm thrilled to be the host of today's roundup of refashioning posts!

As I told the group, a refashioned item of clothing is a piece of clothing that you've transformed in some way... whether that's by changing the color, changing the fit, using the fabric to come up with something new, adding details, removing details, whatever you can think of.

I decided to do a new quick refashion for today, starting with this thrifted wrap dress. I do like wrap dresses, and liked the soft, stretchy fabric of this one. But the sleeves were way too long, the hem hit at mid-calf (not my favorite length), and there was just too much of that bold print.

So, with the help of a pair of scissors to chop the hem and the sleeves, hemming the raw edges, and <20 minutes, I had a new dress that worked much better for me. (I could have probably even gotten away without hemming, if I'd made the cutting line a little neater.)

The pink shoes are possibly a little over the top. But I felt like something fun (and they're plastic, so will be okay if it does end up raining today...) I've got work, and then am meeting up with the boyfriend for dinner and a show tonight. Then onto a busy weekend!

Take a look at everyone else's refashions! And thanks to Katy for letting me host today!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Studded Skirt Refashion

My latest refashion started out with this:

I've never really thought of "punk" details (studs, safety pins, etc.) as part of my potential style options. But...for some reason, when I came across this studded belt at the dollar-a-pound, all I could think of was how fun it would be to take the studs off the belt and use them for a clothing refashion. I used a pair of pliers to straighten the prongs of the studs so I could pull them out of the belt, leaving me with a pile of studs.

At first I was thinking about using a few on the collar of a shirt, but this thrifted men's shirt decided it wanted to be made into a skirt. (I'd grabbed it for the boyfriend, not noticing the big logo on the front...)

So I cut across the shirt from armpit to armpit, and folded over the top of the piece and sewed it with enough space to form a casing for elastic. This seems to be my recipe these days for making a simple gathered skirt from a shirt.

Then it was time to pull out the studs and decorate! I chose to put studs along the curved hem of the piece, as well as covering up the buttons on the front. These particular studs are made of very soft metal, so I basically was able to bend the prongs into place with my bare hands.

I like how the finished piece is still fairly delicate, even with the studs...and I've still got more studs left over from that belt (which are mostly going into doing something on the collar left over from the shirt...), and another set from a second studded belt I'd found the same day. Now, what else can I add studs to?

I wore this to the Lab last week, and thought it worked quite well. Though perhaps I'd prefer wearing it on a day when I wouldn't just be sitting in front of my computer...I could definitely feel the studs pressing into the back of my legs by the end of the day.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! I went to the Brimfield Antiques Show on Saturday, and brunch with my group at my adviser's house on a good weekend, but over very quickly...

Friday, September 2, 2011

FBFF: Looking Forward to Fall

This week, Fashion Beauty Friend Friday is looking at our favorite trends for fall. It's about the right time to do that...there's a little bit of a chill in the air (it's only supposed to be around 70 degrees today!), the first few leaves are changing colors already, school's about to start back up for the semester... oh yes, it's September already, somehow... so I'd better start looking forward to fall, as that's what I'm about to get!

1) Velvet

I'm really glad that velvet seems to be back in for the fall, because it's always been one of my favorite fabrics! I love things with softness and richness and interesting textures, and velvet definitely fits those categories. Soon it'll be time to pull out my long velvet skirts, blazers, and dresses...


2) Ankle Boots

I haven't always been a fan of ankle boots on myself, though I like the way they look on others. Something about the line stopping at the ankle can make my proportions a bit too choppy. However, I actually just yesterday found a pair of awesome black studded ankle boots at the thrift store, and my friend convinced me to get them. I'll have to debut those later in the season!

Fall Ankle Boots

3) Orange

This one surprises me, as I used to hate orange clothing. But it's been growing on me quite a lot...I have a ton of photos on Pinterest with orange accents, and I recently thrifted a lovely dark orange handbag that's going to get a lot of use this fall.

Orange for Fall


There's something so cozy about a cape! This is one trend I want to be on the lookout for at the thrift stores.

5) Leopard Print

I'm gradually getting used to wearing animal prints...they can definitely put some serious style into an outfit! But it's hard for me to work them in in a really sophisticated way. I've got a skirt that works, and a belt. The faux fur leopard-print coat...well, I've only worn that a couple of times, despite having seen a million beautiful pictures of bloggers in leopard-print coats.
Leopard Print

I'm also interested to see how many "fall trends" are really things that we just saw for other seasons as well. (I had polka dots and lace on my spring trends list...apparently both are still quite big for fall!)

Hope everyone's got plans for a lovely, restful weekend...especially if you get a three-day one! I'll mostly be doing things with the boyfriend and various members of his family. Should be a nice time!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

eShakti: My Honest Review

Have you heard about eShakti yet? (You may have, as they've worked with a variety of different bloggers.) This clothing company, based in India, offers lovely clothing in sizes from 0 to 26W at relatively reasonable prices (dresses are normally around $50). The biggest feature of eShakti, though, is that they will customize a piece of clothing to your measurements for only a few dollars more. Even if you don't choose full custom measurements, you give them your bra size so they can fit you better. Additionally, you can pick a piece and customize other details -- hem length, sleeves, neckline, etc. I'd been seeing a lot about eShakti over the past year or so, and have spent quite a bit of time window-shopping their beautiful dresses. However, the prices were a little steep for me to take a risk on ordering something online, where I don't really have a sense of how well it will fit. So when eShakti contacted me a couple of weeks ago to ask if I'd be interested in receiving a piece to try out and review, I jumped at the chance to see if their pieces were as great in person as they looked on the internet! Disclaimer: though the dress was given to me by eShakti, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I set out to choose a dress from eShakti...challenging, because of all the great options! Some of the ones I was considering:

Floral embroidered color block dress

Corset style embellished sundress

Ruffle front cotton knit dress

I eventually decided on this dress.

Floral hem cotton poplin dress

In less than a week after I sent in my choice of dress and measurements, the dress was custom-constructed for me and mailed from India to Massachusetts. This is their standard shipping time, according to their website. That's really impressive speed, as far as I'm concerned! (Sidenote: while I'm aware that most of the clothing/other things I own originated in other countries, it's remarkable to focus on the journey of how this one piece traveled so far to get to me). The dress was shipped in a tiny frills, no extra packaging. I'm not thrilled with how wrinkled it got in shipping, but most of that pressed out fairly quickly. So here it is!

Lots of terrific things about this dress. It's lovely and comfortable, and will make a good addition to my wardrobe...a good color to wear in basically every season, I think, but especially good for spring and fall transitions. The embroidery is awesome in real life. The back has a great V in a style I adore...(I think I hadn't even noticed the back when I picked this out!) The piece seems quite well-constructed as well. Stitching seems sturdy and clean, and the pattern has nice little details in construction. There are only two details I'm not thrilled with. 1) The little pleats in the front of the bust got kind of wrinkled in shipping, and I haven't figured out how to properly press them. So they're not as neat as in the picture. 2) I, personally, tend to sweat a lot (TMI?) and am terrified of wet armpit stains. The cotton sateen in this color does show sweat pretty quickly, though it also dried out rapidly once I got to my air-conditioned lab.

And how about that custom-fitting process? Does it work? I'd say so! This dress does fit me quite well; perhaps a hair loose in the bodice and waist, though that's compensated for by the fabric ties around the waist. Even though I was going to have the dress customized to my measurements, I still picked a silhouette and cut that I thought would work fairly well for my body. Perhaps they could have made an empire waist dress work on me (that cut usually doesn't!), but I didn't want to risk it.

Dress: c/o eShakti. Shoes: Nordstrom, thrifted. Necklace: ebay junk jewelry lot. Earrings: gift. Bag, Nine West, thrifted.

So thanks, eShakti! Have any of you shopped with them? What's your experience been like?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Post-Hurricane Pattern Mixing

Well, Irene has come and gone and fortunately seems to have left fairly little damage or trouble in her wake around these parts. We had a lot of rain and wind...some tree branches and entire trees down here and there, but I didn't lose power or anything. Basically a quiet stormy weekend, ideal for the making and consuming of large quantities of eggplant Parmesan and zucchini bread. (Doesn't everyone else cook ridiculous amounts of food when stuck at home?)

Yesterday's outfit started with a blue floral scarf from a swap with the lovely Michelle. I'd been saving this scarf intending to use it as a faux turban (like in this tutorial from Keiko Lynn), but every time I tried that, it didn't quite look right...I suspect it's because I don't have bangs, which makes the wrap around the head look quite different. But I started this morning planning out with the white shirt and some gray shorts to keep a neutral palette to try pulling off the headscarf. When headscarf again didn't look good, I scrapped that outfit idea. Didn't feel like the gray shorts without the scarf, so I ended up grabbing my leopard-print skirt off a nearby pile of clothing and swapping that out. But the waistline didn't look quite right, so...Eureka! I could use the scarf as a belt! Sometimes it amazes me how complicated/random the process of putting together an outfit can be.

I still want to try the scarf as turban idea, though. I'm also resisting cutting myself some bangs (which I haven't had since I was probably 10). Though I did add some layers into my hair yesterday morning...I think it works (or at least I think it doesn't look like I randomly cut pieces of my hair shorter, which was basically the technique).

My camera's been having trouble over the last few days, which seems to be attributable to the memory card. Thus the limited pictures of this outfit. Too bad, as I really liked it... more pattern mixing than I normally do, comfortable, and fun.

On another note, I can't believe it's already nearly the end of August. Orientation has started here at school for the class of 2015 (feeling older? Check!), and classes will start next week. I'll probably sit in on a couple of classes, though with my Ph.D. program I don't have any required classes. Mostly starting to prepare for my general exams. Anyone have terrific plans for the remainder of the summer? Things to make sure I do before it's fall already?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FFB: Dressing to Please

This month's Feminist Fashion Bloggers themed post is on fashion, feminism, and relationships. A topic that I found especially interesting is whether it's a problem for a feminist to let her style or clothing choices be affected by her boyfriend's/husband's preferences. Here I'm thinking more about long-term relationships, once you're no longer necessarily "dressing to impress." Most of us change some aspects of how we dress to please other people and/or to be "appropriate" for particular situations...and yet, I get uncomfortable at the idea of dressing not for my personal aesthetic/desires (unconsciously shaped, of course, by my culture, my work environment, the events of a particular day, my finances, my friends, etc.), but for a man's preferences. Even when that man is my dear boyfriend of almost seven years. (I haven't really introduced him here...let's call him K.)

See, while K. likes most of what I wear, he has a somewhat different sense of what he thinks I look best in than I do. To illustrate, I managed to convince him to style an outfit for me according to some of his preferences. Granted, he was limited by a) the return of summer weather, and b) the clothing and accessories that I own, which are items that I have primarily obtained for myself because I liked them. But he did come up with an outfit for me, which I wore to work last week:

A little insight into K.'s thought process... He definitely wanted me to wear a dress. This particular dress is one that I'd gotten from my mother and had been about to give away during my last closet cleaning, since it's quite a bit shorter than what I'm normally comfortable wearing, but he had convinced me it was fine and I should hold onto it. So...out came the dress. Silver jewelry to match. Yes, I should wear heels...but not too high. And I should absolutely wear my hair down, the way he likes it.

I know there are people who wear significantly shorter hemlines on a regular basis...I see them all over town. So why do I feel so uncomfortable with this dress? I suspect it's exactly because on my body, I think a short dress is supposed to be somewhat provocative...intended for the male gaze. Which, well, is why I ended up wearing it that day: because it pleased the male gaze of my partner.

Certainly, there are clothes that most men stereotypically just "don't understand." The Man Repeller blog is all about these sorts of fashionable-yet-not-"attractive clothes...the blog defines a Man Repeller as "outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs." (I admit to have returned a couple of jumpsuits to the thrift store due to skeptical expressions from K...he always gets quite disappointed when something that he thought was a cute dress turns out to be a playsuit).

So is there anything problematic with dressing occasionally in a way that makes your other half happy? Generally, I feel my style choices should be primarily about my own self-expression. I want to wear things that make me feel comfortable, satisfied, and very much my own self. On the other hand, sometimes it makes me happy when K. likes what I'm wearing... is that anti-feminist? Is there a difference between dressing to please men in general vs. dressing to please one man in particular? And are either of those too layered with patriarchal issues of control? Does dressing for a man automatically bring up the "male gaze"? Wikipedia has an interesting definition of the "male gaze": "In feminist theory, the male gaze expresses an asymmetric (unequal) power relationship, between viewer and viewed, gazer and gazed, i.e. man imposes his unwanted (objectifying) gaze upon woman. Second Wave feminists argue that whether or not women welcome the gaze, they might merely be conforming to the hegemonic norms established to benefit the interests of men — thus underscoring the power of the male gaze to reduce a person (man or woman) to an object (see also exhibitionism)." Is the gaze still objectifying if it is actually wanted, in the context of a romantic relationship? Or is any kind of appreciation for a woman's appearance automatically objectifying and therefore confirming a male-dominant power structure?

More problematically for me, though, is how dressing for the satisfaction of one's partner can be linked to some behaviors that are quite troubling for me, as a feminist. Abusive men can use clothing "suggestions" as control, such as forcing their partner to dress less "provocatively" in order to keep other men from looking at her. Clearly that's on the far end of a continuum of behavior...but I'm not sure I'm comfortable even with the situation the author of a recent Daily Mail article describes. She appreciates and enjoys her husband's transformation of her wardrobe (getting rid of maxi dresses, UGG boots, short skirts, sequin tops, anything "too short, too low, or too tight," and anything else he felt didn't suit her) and his strong "alpha male" opinions on what she wears. "Within minutes of waking, I’m expected to be dressed: smart Levis or well-cut trousers, crisp ironed shirt, buffed and shiny heels, even my hair should be glossy and styled, and I, of course, should be fully made-up — all before breakfast." She discusses how she thinks this has been terrific for her and that she's content with her choice. However, she also says things like "Some people might think I’m foolish for agreeing to this, but when you’re entering into a new relationship, you find yourself going to surprising lengths to fit in. I wanted to be accepted and I wanted to be desired."

I also want to mention the fact that these issues seem to be more...well, more of a "feminist" issue when we're talking about a woman changing what she wears to please her male partner. Is it a problem if a man changes aspects of his wardrobe for his girlfriend/wife? I feel like that's more stereotypically acceptable; the woman trying to convince her boyfriend to throw out his old hole-filled concert t-shirt, or to try a new haircut. Or what about one woman in a lesbian partnership wearing things her partner thinks she looks good in?

How much do you let a partner's/boyfriend's/girlfriend's preferences shape what you wear (if at all)? Are you comfortable with that?

If you're interested to see how other FFB members explored this topic, a roundup of the others' posts is on the group blog.

Friday, August 19, 2011

FBFF: Following Your Dreams

This week's Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions are about our dream jobs...Katy at was inspired by some recent posts about bloggers who are quitting their day jobs to focus on what they love (including Sal at Already Pretty). I'd been thinking a lot about this myself after reading a recent New York Times article on how the recession has given many people the opportunity to pursue their "dream jobs," only to find that the reality is much tougher than the dream. If you're interested in seeing what others have to say (I know I am!), the linkup is here. (EDIT: sorry for the broken link! Fixed now.)

1. Fess up - if you could do anything professionally what would it be?

My dream job is to start my own theater production company, with a focus on creating advanced technology for the theater. This company would both consult for other theater companies' productions (doing things like designing and implementing the technological aspects of productions) and allow us to produce some of our own work. We'd likely also create some interactive installations, as well as performances. As part of this work, I'd be not only writing software and developing hardware for performance contexts, but also doing theatrical design, running a theater company, and even choreographing some of my own pieces.

2. What draws you to this?

  • This sort of job would combine so many of the things I love to do, and challenge all of my abilities. (In a way, this is like the work I am doing right now.) I can be creative, scientific, analytical, intuitive, imaginative, logical...I solve problems in many different domains. I've always been a jack-of-many-trades, and would love to have work that challenges me on so many levels.

  • In everything I do (both technical and artistic), one of my favorite aspects is progressing from the hint of an idea to something actualized, made into a reality. For an example, my process of costume design progresses from initial ideas (perhaps images that echo the desired tone of the costumes and characters), to sketches and plans, to actual, physical pieces that come into being onstage. The same is true for choreographing a dance, writing a piece of software, etc. You start with a vision, and then you get to make it into something that actually exists.

  • For me, the performing arts have a strong sense of community and collaboration. I saw a piece last semester by the director Peter Brook. The three actors in the piece had been working with Brook for years -- one of them since the 1970's. I think it would be AMAZINGLY awesome to have creative collaborations for over 40 years with someone you enjoy working with!

  • Along those lines, it'd be amazing to have a lot of freedom over the people I work with and the projects I work on.

  • I can be a bit obsessive with work. I sometimes find the idea attractive of working at a "job" 9-5 and then having the rest of the day to drop that and do whatever else I want. But really, I'd rather work that I eat, sleep, breathe. The work that is consuming and compelling, that fills my head with visions as I'm going to bed and new ideas when I wake up. That periodically becomes my life for stretches of time. (Granted, I do want other things in my life along with work (family, friends, and whatnot), so there will have to be some kind of balance...)

  • And frankly, I love the theater. I love the creation of worlds, the development of new realities and experiences. The telling of stories, the possibility to really affect people and make them see their world in a new way. I want to be part of the theater's magic-making.

  • 3. When did you first start dreaming about this ideal?
    I started having this particular vision fairly soon after I started grad school three years ago and realized that I really could combine a lot of the things that I'm interested in. I wouldn't have to choose between my more analytical/logical/"intellectual" interests and my creative passions. I'd done some work in undergrad that started heading in the direction of merging my technical and artistic interests, but when I was applying to grad school I though the theater part of things wasn't necessary, that maybe I could leave it behind. Fortunately, thanks to the research group I ended up joining, my research has been brought squarely back to the theater. I'm surprised that I ever thought I could have left it. Others in my research group have also talked about the possibility of developing a performance company together after we graduate, so I may have a team to do this with.

    Me calibrating a giant musical instrument/set piece from my group's latest opera. I didn't design the set piece, but I did do the interaction design...

    4. What's holding you back from going all in?

    Well, something that's not quite "holding me back" but is certainly limiting me is that I'm still in grad school. While my studies are hopefully preparing me for, I'm not at the point yet where I am free to start my own company (literally, my research assistant contract includes lines about how I am not allowed to have any other jobs either paid or unpaid).

    Additionally, I know I'm definitely going to work through my own fears about trying to make money in the arts. As Veshoevius says in her post today on why flamenco will never be her day job, there's certainly the "fear of starvation." I'm terrified of having to support myself one project at a time...that I won't be good enough to make a living, that one really can't make a living in the arts, that no matter how hard I work it won't be enough. I hope it will be easier because I'll be coming in as someone who is also very skilled technically, and therefore in a more rarefied field (I've seen how much our group has paid some of the companies like this that we've work with!)...but I don't know. Being responsible for my own company will be a huge risk, and I'm sure plenty of times I'll be tempted to just get a regular 9-5ish job that gives me a regular salary and benefits and a steady stream of work. Who knows, I may also want to have one of these for a while as I get my feet on the ground.

    5. Sometimes the first step is the hardest... what's one step you can take now on the way to realizing your dream?

    Realistically, I think I'm in a very good place right now in terms of progressing toward this dream. I need to make sure I take advantage of the next three years of my graduate program to do more fascinating, fun research that makes other people excited about what I can do and want to hire me for projects/work with me. I need to continue making contacts in various theater companies, getting my name and abilities out there. I should try to set up collaborations with choreographers/designers/performance-makers that I really admire, while I'm still in school and have the name of the school supporting me. I also need to progress on getting that Ph.D. Probably, that means I should finish up this post and get back to the book I'm reading about performance theory as I prepare for my general exams...

    An installation that I'd done with a colleague: 400 vellum butterflies suspended above a hallway on campus.
    What about you? What are your career dreams?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lace on a Rainy Day

Today's forecast was basically "rain all day, and a bit colder out," so I started out this outfit knowing I wanted to wear tights of some kind (easier with my rainboots than socks...) I finally worked up the courage to try out this pair of lace tights that I'd gotten a couple of months ago from Express (big sale + gift certificate = comfortable getting a couple of boundary-pushing things). I kept the rest of my outfit pretty low-key and dressy to make the tights the one edgy bit, and I think I like the result!

Also, does anyone else wear rain boots to work on stormy days but then pack another pair of shoes to wear for the rest of the day? That's what I tend to do, since I don't like wearing my heavy clunky boots all day, but have very few pairs of shoes that keep my feet dry when walking through puddles.

White shirt: thrifted. Camisole and tights: Express. Shoes: Skirt: J. Jill (purchased forever ago...this used to be one of my favorite skirts, until it got too small. I gave it to my mom for a while, but snagged it back during her last closet cleaning. Turns out, now that I wear skirts at my waist rather than right above my hips, this fits again!)

My clothing for the last few days has started to edge toward fall. It's still been fairly warm in Boston, but there's just a bit of a nip in the air, a hint that the heat we had in July is not infinite; that someday (soonish!) fall will be coming. I'm not sure I'm ready for fall. There hasn't been much going on this summer at the lab...mostly I've been reading a lot of research papers and starting to prepare for my general exams. So the fact that the summer is nearly over, that classes start up again in only three weeks, comes as a bit of a surprise. Mind you, it's still mostly been over 80 degrees here...there's just the first signs that someday it will be cold again. Is it still summer where you are?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Birthday to Oona!

So Oona of oonaballoona from kalkatroona is having a virtual birthday party today, inviting guests in their handmade finery...I thought it'd be a great occasion to finally refashion a fancy frock I've had waiting in my pile. (If you haven't stopped by Oona's neck of the woods, you should. It's full of pretty things and humor and sewing inspiration.)

My dress for today's virtual shindig started out as this Steve McClintock number from (I'm fairly sure) the 1980's that I'd thrifted a while ago. Let's see...giant puffy sleeves, turquoise brocade, front peplum...check, check, and check. I actually saw another one of these dresses in another thrift store recently, and the design used to have one of those giant wrap collars and a bow in the middle as well. That much was at least removed before it got to me. But still...not quite a fabulous party dress for this era yet. (no, I'm not just going to wear it like this...)

But the body fit me quite well, I liked the color, and it had a terrific openwork detail in the back. So time for a refashion! I hacked off the sleeves next to the seam.

I then turned under the edges and finished them off, and cut about ten inches off the bottom to rehem.

And here's a dress hopefully fit for the party!

So happy birthday, Oona! And hope everyone else is having a good weekend as well! I've got a couple more posts I need to get up soon...updates on, say, where I've been while scarce around the internets the last couple of weeks (vacationing on a lake in Wisconsin with the boyfriend and his family. I learned to waterski!), and some of what I've been wearing...

Friday, July 22, 2011

IFB Links à la Mode Weekly Roundup

This week, I was honored to have my FFB post on the ethics of thrift shopping be selected for inclusion in IFB's Links à la Mode post. This was my first time being picked for this roundup, so I'm quite excited about it! Check out the other links...some interesting posts, here.

From this week's editor,Nubia of NubiasNonsense:
Style is what you make it. We are all different and beautiful in our own ways. Many of us have different techniques to display how we want to present ourselves. Some people are very "structured" "prim and proper" and live by a color scheme while others go wild with mixing patterns and have the "unpolished" and "don't care" look. It's all about where you get your inspiration from and your personality in general.

Here are some classic quotes on style:

  • "Fashion fades, style is eternal." -YSL

  • "Fashion is not something that exist only in dresses. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." -Coco Chanel

  • "'Style' is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style." -John Fairchild

Links à la Mode: July 21st

Bikini Sale at Shopbop: Parker bikinis, Tori Praver, Salt Swimwear, OndadeMar, Naelie, Zimmerman, Juicy Couture, Rosa Cha, Vix, Tyler Rose, & Brette Sandler

If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Like Lemonade on a Hot Day

It's been hot here in Boston for the last couple of weeks, necessitating pulling out the summer dresses! This outfit started out with the shoes...I'd done something yesterday that strained a muscle in my foot a bit, so flat shoes were the order of the day. Then I realized they matched the lemon-print dress I've been meaning to wear, I found a top to go under it to cover up a bit more for my cold office (yes, I generally end up wearing a sweater all day anyway), and here's the result:

As I'd mentioned last week, I got this dress off Ebay after seeing the fabulous Annebeth wearing it. (Interestingly, this was the first time I've seen something in another blog and really wanted that specific piece, rather than just taking inspiration from the overall style/certain details of the outfit.) During my closet organization, I realized how much my taste in summer dresses has really swung towards big, bold prints, and this piece fit in very well with that. Overall, I'm thrilled with the piece! Just the thing for another hot day.

I had to guess on my size, and the one I ordered ended up being just a little too big, since it's got a stretch panel in the back(but was cheaper and easier to find than the size down). Currently, I've got a couple of safety pins taking in 3/4 inch or so on the top of each side...if that seems to fit well by the end of the day, I'll sew new side seams there.

Things stay's picking up at the Lab, had a busy weekend of cleaning and having friends over for a big waffle brunch, still trying to get things organized around the house (this week's goal is the fabric shelf!), and I'm getting ready for a vacation soon...looking forward to a bit of a breather!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FFB: Fashion, Social Class, and the Ethics of Thrifting

For this month's Feminist Fashion Bloggers post, the theme is the intersection of fashion, feminism, and social class. If you're interested, check out the roundup of other posts on this topic. Today, I wanted to bring up a couple of related ethical issues about thrift shopping. You all know my love of thrift stores...the vast majority of my wardrobe is now thrifted (mostly at the dollar-a-pound store). Thrift stores allow me to experiment with my clothing and style choices, let me have a wardrobe I would not have bought new on a grad student budget, make me feel good about being frugal, and satisfy my treasure-hunter mentality. In general, it seems that thrift shopping (at thrift stores, charity shops, garage sales, etc.) is no longer stigmatized...thrift stores are not just frequented by people who can't afford higher-priced clothing and goods, but also by the hipster college students, the environmentalists, the Ebay resellers, and the bargain hunters. However, as the upper/middle classes descend on thrift stores in search of that $3 designer dress, are they (am I) taking away things from those who truly can't afford to shop elsewhere?

Image credit get directly down

This questioning was sparked by a couple of comments I'd read while idly scanning the Yelp reviews for my local Goodwill store. Along a number of comments praising things people had found at the store, or complaining about the raised prices ("$4.99 for a shirt?"), there were a couple of comments that stopped me in my tracks. One reviewer said, "This concludes my last attempt at a Goodwill Store. I love thrift shopping, but this just isn't for me. I can't shop alongside people who really are scraping by and need Goodwill to help them out. I feel so guilty." Another agreed: "[I've] found nice Armani X, Sigrid Olsen, Ann Taylor, Forth & Towne...Prepare to feel like a tool when you take these gems away from folks that deserve a break." In my place of privilege as a grad student (but one given a research assistant stipend) raised in an upper-middle-class household, my fashion consumption at thrift stores extends my fashion options, but isn't a complete necessity. Am I depriving someone who really couldn't afford a pretty dress for work otherwise? I generally don't think I'm doing something wrong in buying something for very cheap, or at least hope my money helps support those less fortunate than I am...but there are still some interesting class-related aspects to thrift-store shopping.

Certainly, more people are needing or choosing to shop at thrift stores these days. A New York Times article from 2008 discussed some of the ways the social classes of thrift store shoppers has been changing due to the recession:

"The Salvation Army said its average thrift-store shopper had traditionally been upper or middle class. Many came to hunt for designer clothing at rock-bottom prices...But thrift store operators say the demographics are changing. People who once shopped daily or multiple times a week for vintage treasures are making fewer trips. For some, thrift-store shopping is no longer a hobby but a necessity."

Additionally, there appears to be a difference in what people in different economic classes buy at thrift stores. A study from BYU looked at thrifting in relationship to class and economic situations...they found that people in the lower and middle classes tended to thrift for things like clothing and electronics, while the upper classes were more likely to thrift for antiques and trinkets. One of the authors of that study (quoted here) said that "...middle class shoppers have begun to see thrift stores as a place to pick up items they need at a reduced price…[during] hard economic times and still maintain their current social standing."

Photo of the dollar-a-pound store I shop at from vanberto

It's also interesting to look at thrift store shopping, especially for clothing, in relationship to feminism. There are a number of good aspects: often more sustainable/environmentally friendly to buy secondhand goods, not directly supporting sweatshop practices, frequently supporting charities, etc. However, thrift stores and their low prices also give me the opportunity to buy into fashion trends, to have an overflowing closet, to be able to wear a variety of "new-to-me" clothing on a fairly regular basis. In this way, am I participating in the gendered expectations that women "need to be" constantly consuming fashion? Even if most items in my closet cost me less than a dollar or two - even if I may not be consuming clothing in the marketed stores, or for the prices that I'm being told I need to spend, I'm still participating in the cycle of "more is better" when it comes to clothing. This is also something where I'm class-privileged -- at thrift stores, I'm able to afford to buy more than just the few pieces of clothing I really need. Am I thus raising the standards and helping make it seem "necessary" for women of all social classes to own a lot of clothing if they want to engage in fashion/style practices?

On another note, something I came across while reading articles for this post -- it appears the stigma of thrift store shopping = poor has still stuck around for longer than I'd thought. Did you know that a government investigation in 2009 found that credit card companies were tracking whether you used your credit card at a thrift store or other bargain store? Or that some companies were using that information to raise your interest rates or even lower your credit score if they saw you shopping at thrift stores? How's that for stereotyping rather than rewarding people for being frugal? (More from an NBC report) (EDIT: there was a law put in place in 2009 that makes these kinds of actions by credit card companies illegal, so hopefully that's limited some of this...)

Anyway. A lot of thoughts... these aspects won't keep me out of my thrift stores, but I've been starting to evaluate my thrifted purchases much more strictly to make sure I really need/want particular pieces, and not let the low prices convince me into buying things that won't have a valued place in my closet or home. Additionally, as I've been doing more home-cleaning, I've been attempting to donate things I'm not using enough in the hope that they'll find a home with someone who will really use them (or at least make some money for charities). What do you all think? Do you have other insights/ideas about class, feminism, and thrift-store fashion?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunny yellow days

Today is this month's Everybody Everywear day! This time around, the unifying feature is the color yellow..

This outfit therefore got carefully constructed to highlight my closet's favorite yellow pieces. By which I mean, I have one piece of clothing that is actually yellow. This is it. And it's not the easiest shirt for me to style thanks to its low neckline, high waist-thingie, long drape, and fabric that basically shows the lines of anything underneath it. I've recently been a fan of white and yellow, so that color combination prevailed.

Okay, it's not exactly true that I don't have any other yellow clothing...a lemon-print dress arrived a couple of days ago from Ebay, a piece from the UK that I'd been stalking since I saw it here on Annebeth. This was really the only time I've ever seen a piece on another blogger and liked it so much that I wanted that particular item... funny! But I'd had to guess quite a bit on the size (UK sizing plus apparently running small), so I need to alter it a tiny bit before I can take it out for a wearing.

(This one's not a great photo, but it's in front of a yellow wall, so I had to put it in! Everything...everywhere... is yellow?)

Hope everyone is having a good week so far! Things are still fairly quiet at the lab this summer... I'm just reading a bunch of research papers, figuring out what directions I want to take my work next. Potentially in the next couple of days I may have a meeting with my adviser to talk about next steps, which will hopefully help with those directions. But all else is fairly quiet! Trying to stay cool in the ridiculous heat we've been having recently. Cleaning up and organizing things a lot at home, cooking a lot of vegetables thanks to the farm share, and watching tv shows with the boyfriend (anyone else a fan of Star Trek: Enterprise? I know, I know, I'm a nerd...but we'd already finished the original series and got hooked on this one!) Summer going well for you folks out in internet-land?

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