Friday, April 29, 2011

FBFF: Fitness on Friday


This week's FBFF questions are all about fitness! How we keep fit, and how/if fashion comes into that.

1. Do you keep some kind of fitness routine? Why?
Generally, I go to the gym or run outside for 30-45 minutes before work on weekday mornings, with a longer run on the weekend. (though haven't been as regular about this for the past few weeks as still recovering from some knee and foot issues partially related to a race I ran in mid-March, partially from walking miles and miles around Chicago without enough padding in my shoes.) As far as "why" I do this...that's a good question. I think I have more energy when I exercise regularly. I like getting up earlier and feeling like I'm getting something done immediately. I tend to sleep more and eat more healthily when I'm working out, step of caring for my body snowballing into others.

2. Has working out, maybe training for a marathon or something of that nature, helped with your own perception of body image?
You know, the workout routine that helped me the most with my body image was my informal parkour training from about two years ago to about a year ago. A few of us from my lab (myself and a couple of my male colleagues) had gotten together and decided that we wanted to do something to make working out more enjoyable and to give us some goals to reach. We decided to try to learn parkour, which basically involves traveling at great speeds through a city from point to point by the most direct route, even if that involves going over objects, jumping gaps, and climbing structures.

So most mornings for a year or so we'd meet at the gym and do things that we thought would help build parkour-related skills and strength and stamina. It was really gratifying to see myself improve along measurable lines, as I became able to do more repetitions of certain exercises, master particular moves, and simply do the same thing but be less sore the next day! I also discovered that I was able to push myself past particular limits that I'd set on my body beforehand and still be fine. I could be physically pushing myself and maintain that for a while and that would be fine. These sorts of results and seeing my body's capabilities were really inspiring. The focus wasn't on working out for weight loss/management or for some vague concept of "fitness," but for expanding what my body could do and preparing it to do some cool things. The day that we were first able to push ourselves to do 100 "Burpees" was a huge feeling of success. And believe me, it's a thrill to do crazy parkour things like running to the edge of a set of steps, leaping to the bottom, and landing into a forward roll in the grass below! Somewhere, there exist videos of me doing this...

3. When you are hitting the gym or just going out for a long walk what do you wear? Is it about functionality or fashion?
Normally I'm in a sports bra, t-shirt, workout pants/shorts, and running shoes. It's pretty completely about function, though I've been thrifting some more sports clothing under the idea that the more I dress like a serious gym-goer the more comfortable I'll continue to feel.

4. Do you feel there is a cultural perception of what you ‘should’ be doing for your own physical fitness?
I don't know that there's a particular cultural perception about what, specifically, I should be doing for fitness -- just that I should be particular levels of fit. And that I should be working out several times per week. Actually, there's a general cultural prevalence toward "going to the gym" or "running," I think. Things that one does "regularly." Does anyone else have this experience?

5. Dream big… what would be your ultimate fitness goal.
My major fitness goal in general is making sure to incorporate it as a part of my regular lifestyle long-term. My goals for this year are to run my first road races - a 5K (ran it in March) and a 10K. Though Katy has got me tempted by a half-marathon she's trying to get a group to run in would be amazing to be capable of doing that! I try not to make weight-related fitness goals (though there's a weight about three-five pounds lower that it'd be nice to reach...), primarily focusing on increasing my capabilities.

Hope everyone has a great weekend planned! I'll mostly be spending it with my college best friend, who has her wedding shower this weekend. It's unreal that this girl is getting married! I remember when we first met moving into our dorm room freshman year...

And on another note, it looks like the performance piece I was working on for next weekend unfortunately won't be able to happen then after all. Another one of my cast members dropped out midweek, leaving only three of us, two of whom had some scheduling issues anyway. So I decided to just call it off, since we didn't have what I needed to make the piece I needed by next Saturday. I'm pretty glum about that, but hoping to continue working on the piece and develop it for another venue/time. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Men's Shirt to Blouse refashion

Last weekend I managed to make another stab at the pile of things waiting for refashioning, and ended up with this blouse.

I started with another dress shirt from that bunch of old clothing my brother had given me a bunch of months ago. I liked the delicate floral-ish print on this one, but clearly it needed some redoing to fit me.

I cut off the sleeves right outside the seam line so as to leave a somewhat-finished edge, then tried on the piece and pinned where my waist and bustline were. I then stitched a curve along the side to reshape the side seam to match those waist and bust measurements, flaring back out to the original seam at the hips. (You'll see in the photo on the right that I had to do this twice...the first new line still was too loose.) There's probably a better way of quickly refitting tops, but this worked all right for me! Then I trimmed the side fabric closer to the new seam.

And there we are...a long blouse/tunic thing. I'd started out hoping to be able to make it a dress, but there just wasn't enough fabric in the sleeves to compensate for how far away the hemline was from being a dress! So I can wear it as a tunic, or even better, tuck it in for a long blouse that won't pull out of my skirt if I lift my arms (anyone else have a problem with that?).

This outfit was basically what I wore yesterday, but with tights, a sweater, and oxford flats. Because apparently it is not QUITE spring yet here in the Northeast...or at the least is fluctuating back and forth between warm weather and colder weather unpredictably. It was amazingly lovely on Sunday, then cold yesterday and today... I'm now completely confused about how heavy of a coat I should bring at any given time.

Also, a sneak peek of my other weekend sewing project! (which I'm wearing photos to come later!)

This week is off to a busy start... I'm choreographing a dance piece to be performed a week from Saturday, so my evenings are being spent leading very long rehearsals. It's also really an exercise for me in choreographic self-trust. I've been trained to create choreography with my performers in real time, but it's still a leap of faith for me to go into a 4-hour rehearsal without much idea what we'll be doing, trusting that I will have interesting things emerge from being in the space improvising with my cast of three others. It's a sustained, focused, creative effort, and one that I thoroughly enjoy, even when it scares the pants off me!

Friday, April 22, 2011

FBFF: Feeling Inspired

This week and last week, we're celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Fashion Beauty Friend Friday (Congratulations, Katy Rose!) As part of this, we're looking at the first set of FBFF questions, about what inspires us.

1. Which celebrity (celebrities) do you look to for fashion inspiration?
I don't really follow celebrities for fashion inspiration. There are celebrities whose views on fashion I find inspiring (like Sarah Jessica Parker, who basically wears what she finds wonderful/beautiful all the time), but I don't generally follow what celebrities wear or their general style. I'm more inspired by vintage movie stars like Audry Hepburn...and that perhaps less for their individual style, and more about the style of the era they come from.


Say what you like about this dress on Sarah Jessica, it's definitely a bold and personal statement!

2. When it comes to your own personal style, what inspires you?
I have to say that these days my primary source of style inspiration is other fashion bloggers! Before I got into the fashion/style blogging world, I mostly viewed fashion/style as something that required buying the "trendy new items" that magazines demanded you wear. As I wasn't doing that, my personal style primarily was influenced by what I found comfortable. Fashion/style bloggers showed me that style can be the art of combining the clothing I already own, finding amazing pieces at thrift stores, incorporating vintage clothes with their own history, and creating a look that works for me, personally. Enjoying trends, perhaps, but fitting them into a real person's life. Treating clothing as fun, self-expression, a joyful statement. Seeing clothing as something to make or alter to suit my own taste and interests, to fit to my own body (as it is, not an idealized version). Engaging thoughtfully and playfully with clothing. Wearing a world's worth of clothing in hundreds of different, individual ways.

Occasionally I still look to fashion magazines for some inspiration, even more rarely to the runways. I'll also sometimes get an idea from people I see on the street or riding on subway. But my primary source of inspiration from other people is definitely style bloggers!

Image from Dear Golden Vintage

Besides that, textures and patterns and beautiful fabrics inspire me to wear them (or at least have them in my closet). I love lace and velvet and silk and beading and ruffles and clothing with elegant lines. I really like unique patterns. In general, clothing that is aesthetically and tactilely pleasing to me is a huge inspiration.

For some more things that are currently inspiring me, check out my Fashion Inspiration board on Pinterest

3. How do you hope to inspire your readers?
I hope I can give my readers some examples of wearing what I love and having fun with personal style even in an environment that doesn't require attention to style. I would like to inspire my readers to be creative with thrifting and refashioning clothing, and realize that refashioning doesn't have to require a lot of sewing skill. I also hope to get people thinking about some topics or points about style in ways they might not have otherwise.

4. Outside the realm of fashion who/what inspires you?
Goodness, a lot of things. As a performing artist, I am often quite inspired by dance and theater and music. A powerful performance is incredibly inspiring to me, as are the people who create them (the Punchdrunk theater company, Pina Bausch, Bill T. Jones, many others...). The other people at my lab are also doing amazing, fascinating, creative things and inspire me every day!

Pina Bausch's "Nelken." Source

The members of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers inspire me that fashion can be thoughtful and empowering. Bloggers who deal with positive body image like Sal have been huge influences on me. (okay, these are kind of fashion-related, but I felt they fit better in the general inspiration category...)

5. Which songs inspire you?
I've been on a big Imogen Heap kick for quite a while now. Also always love the orchestral works of Karl Jenkins (especially "Passacaglia"). The soundtrack to the film Once. Lots of musical theater stuff. I've got some fairly eclectic taste in music...

Hope everyone's having a good Friday evening and some nice plans for the weekend! I'm mostly going to be relaxing and continuing to get things in order from my crazy last month or so. Then I have the first rehearsal Sunday for a piece that I'm choreographing and hope to have performed in just two weeks. That's going to be a bit of an intense rehearsal period, I suspect...choreographic mind, don't fail me now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quick and Easy Refashioning

After a month and a half of being completely busy (opera rehearsals and performances in Boston, flying out to Chicago the day after we struck the show, opera rehearsals and performances in Chicago, getting back just in time for the start of the lab's sponsor week, immediately followed by a set of concerts and lectures my group was involved in), Sunday was my first completely free day in a long time! And as Monday was Patriot's Day, I had the day off then as well. I think I'm not entirely sure what to do with free time, now. I did some apartment-cleaning, watched the Boston Marathon on television, and ran errands.

I also finally started tackling the pile of clothing in the corner of the apartment that's waiting to be refashioned. Someday I'll post pictures of that pile... (It is, in fact, a large pile.) First, I made two summer skirts from old men's dress shirts that used to be my brother's. They were both quite nice shirts, with light fabric and asymmetrical blue stripes.

I just cut a line straight across each shirt under the arms, then folded down the top of that cut piece, and sewed it in place with a channel big enough to thread some ribbon or bias tape through. Stuck a safety pin through one end of a piece of ribbon/bias tape, fed it through the channel, and tied the ends at the center where the shirt buttons meet.

And presto, two new summer skirts! The ribbon can be tied into a bow and worn out front, or tucked inside the skirt. (both of these could use a good ironing, I think...)

But today, it's cold and rainy and not nearly the summer weather I was imagining with those skirts. So I'm wearing another simple refashion in the form of a gray jersey tunic top that used to be a men's shirt. I just cut off about 6" off the end of each sleeve and rehemmed the edges...belted, I think it can pass for intentionally loose rather than just too big. For me, I've noticed that sleeve length is the major thing that signals whether a garment looks like it fits me or not. If the sleeves are too long, I look like a kid wearing my mom's clothing. So a simple sleeve trim here makes this comfortable top wearable!

Gray shirt: Express Men's from the brother, refashioned. Skirt: INC, thrifted. Boots, vintage via Ebay. Necklace, estate sale. Earrings, handmade. Belt, thrifted. Tights, LOFT.

So this outfit's comfortable and warm, which suits today's weather. Can't wait for the next warm and sunny days later this week! Is it spring yet where you are?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FFB: Finance and the Fashion Blogger

Image from peoples50million

The Feminist Fashion Bloggers have now shifted to monthly posts... this month's topic is "Finance, Feminism and the Fashion Blogger," in honor of yesterday, April 12, being Equal Pay Day. This day symbolizes how far women would have to work into 2011 to earn the amount of money that men made in 2010. Clearly, money - earning money and spending money - can be a feminist topic. But how does it relate to fashion? I wanted to look at this topic by focusing on the often-gendered value judgements that are made about shopping and consumption: specifically, the fact that buying/consuming items coded as female is often seen as more negative/unnecessary than buying items coded as male or unisex. I've been thinking a lot recently about why there is still something of a stigma associated with owning a lot of clothes or shoes or beauty products, much more so than for owning, say, many video games or tech gadgets or DVDs.

For an example, let's take shoes. Stereotypically (and I know this is not true of all women!), women love buying shoes, own many pairs of shoes, see tiny differences between pairs of shoes, and spend money "frivolously" on additional unnecessary shoes. Women "waste" money on expensive, fancy, uncomfortable shoes.

So why is there a perceived difference (practically a moral difference!) between a woman who buys a lot of shoes and a man who buys a lot of tech products? Or a woman who buys a lot of tech products? An argument can be made that the difference between shoes/fashion items/beauty products versus other items of consumption is in their inherent utility or lack thereof (in fact, I've had this discussion with my boyfriend). Getting a new computer, or iPhone, or the other latest tech device provides you with additional utility. It's faster, lighter, more powerful than your old devices. It provides you with functionality that you did not have before. If I already have a pair of shoes that are in good shape and comfortable, I'm probably not buying a new pair of shoes because those shoes are in better condition, allow me to walk faster, or are more comfortable than the old shoes. Perhaps they can be worn with different outfits, or are appropriate for different occasions. But more likely, my new pair of shoes is primarily useful for aesthetic reasons... they may not fill a particular need besides my desire to wear beautiful and satisfying shoes.

But why do we argue that purchasing for aesthetic reasons is less justifiable than purchasing for other kinds of needs? What's wrong with buying shoes just because they're beautiful? I suspect that part of this is because a focus on aesthetics, particularly the aesthetics of the body, is placed strongly in the domain of the female. And as a female-coded focus, it is given less weight than a "male" focus on utility or speed or power.

As an artist, I believe that aesthetics are incredibly valuable, including the aesthetics of self-presentation. Consequently, I'm lucky enough to have an overflowing closet and more clothing than I know what to do with. The great majority of what I wear has been thrifted at the my overall cost for this full closet is actually quite low (generally less than a dollar per shirt, skirt, or dress...perhaps a dollar or two per pair of shoes...maybe four or five dollars for a coat or pair of boots or other particularly heavy item.) But I'm aware that it may look like I spend a lot of money on clothing and shoes. And I feel like this is supposed to be bad. I'm careful to mention on occasion how much of my outfit is thrifted, lest people see me as irresponsible with money, buying all those fashion-related things. Have any of the rest of you experienced this? As a feminist, I would like to choose to spend some money on "female" things without guilt...

Thoughts? Other examples where consumption of items traditionally coded as "masculine" or "feminine" is viewed positively or negatively?

This post is part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers group. To see other posts on this topic, check out the roundup on the group blog. If you're interested, you should join us!

Friday, April 8, 2011

FBFF: Spring Trends

This week's Fashion Beauty Friend Friday post is all about my favorite season to dress for -- spring! I am so, so glad that spring is finally getting closer. (Perhaps it's even here? Trees are starting to bud, the first flowers are starting to bloom...and I'm in Chicago right now with the opera, which is even colder than Boston.)

(Also, I just started playing around with Polyvore to make some inspiration boards for this post...very useful!)

What are the top 5 spring trends that you are looking forward to seeing/sporting this season?

1) Floral prints. Because really, what better way to say "It's spring!" then to wear your own flower garden around? Spring's really the only time of year when half of my patterned skirts are appropriate.

2) Wedge sandals. I'm very glad these are still in style this year...much easier for me to wear around all day than heels.

3) Layered neutrals. I've never owned a lot of neutral-colored pieces (besides gray and black with the occasional white skirt), but would like to try this look out. I keep seeing it being done quite well. It's sometimes difficult for me to find neutrals that work well with my skin tone (can't figure out if I need pink undertones in the neutrals or yellow undertones), but I'd love to work out how to do that. Perhaps this should be the focus of my next dollar-a-pound thrifting trip!

4) Polka dots. Perpetually in style, I think. And I'm getting more and more attached to the look, which I'd found too bold for me a couple of years ago.

5) Lace. I perpetually love lace details and delicate looks, though sometimes find lace tricky for me to wear without it coming off as too sensual.

For other people's spring trend favorites, check out the list on Modly Chic!

On a somewhat-unrelated note, posting has been quite infrequent due to traveling with the opera to Chicago! We've had two performances so far...another one tonight, and then the last on Sunday. Things have been going relatively smoothly, which is good, and it seems to be well-received, here. I'd never spent much time in the city (realistically, most of my prior experience with Chicago involved sprinting from one side of O'Hare International Airport to another), so I've been enjoying finding my way around the city, getting to know what's here. The architecture is terrific, and I keep being amazed at the scale of everything here. I'm from Denver originally, so I should be used to big Midwestern/Western cities, but Chicago keeps surprising me with just how large everything is. I've been walking all over the place, which did result in a sore foot and my being limited to tennis shoes most of the trip. Here are a couple of pictures from my trip so far...

And on another unrelated note...this is my 100th post on Adventures in Refashioning! Pretty exciting for me...hadn't necessarily expected where I'd go with this little blog. I've been doing some thinking in the last couple of weeks about how I want to develop and continue in a variety of directions, which I think may end up with a regular posting schedule...particular topics on particular days, for example. There are so many kinds of things I want to fit in here that I could use some more structure!

Hope everyone is having a terrific Friday!
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