Friday, February 25, 2011

New Commenting System

Just wanted to mention that I made the switch from regular Blogger commenting over to Disqus comments earlier this evening. I've been really liking the Disqus platform on others' blogs (easier to leave comments and see replies to comments, doesn't require many page loads, no ), so had attempted to install it on several occasions. However, I had been having technical difficulties any time I installed it and went to import my existing Blogger comments. I wish I could say what I did to fix the problem, but it appears it just went when I tried setting up the system again tonight, all the comments copied over just fine!

Anyone particularly love/hate Disqus?

Dressing Up for Dinner

I'm a bit behind on the outfit-posting; this was what I wore on 2/15 for work and a day-after-Valentine's-Day dinner out with the boyfriend. (By going the day after, we were able to use coupons we had for a great deal on a lovely dinner and didn't have to deal with crowds...)

Outfit details: Red blouse, thrifted. Black skirt, INC, thrifted. Boots, vintage via Ebay. Belt, from a thrifted dress. Earrings, handmade. Necklace, gift. Bracelet, gift (from my grandmother's jewelry box). Tights, Ann Taylor Loft.

I'd gotten these boots from Ebay a few months ago but hadn't worn them yet. For some reason, when I'd first tried them on, they were uncomfortable and too tight. I'm not sure what was different here, whether I was wearing thinner tights or if the morning workouts have reshaped my calves already, but they were actually quite comfortable and fun to wear. I've been absolutely loving the cognac-colored boot trend, and wanted to try pulling it off myself.

Hope everyone has some nice weekend plans! I, for one, am planning to catch up on sleep. It's been a long, tiring week putting together this art installation...400 vellum butterflies now assembled and suspended in the site! We just have to hook them up to boards to run the lights in them. It's really satisfying to see a project come together as I'd envisioned it, going from an idea to renderings to a reality.

In addition, we've only got a bit more than a week until we're back in the theater for opera setup/rehearsals/performances...then shows in Boston, then we take the show to Chicago for a couple of weeks! It's going to be a busy, busy next couple of months. So this weekend is about fun and relaxation! (Also, I'm planning to meet up with some other Boston bloggers at Howl at the Moon on Saturday...I've never been to a blogger meetup, so I'm not quite sure what to expect!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm looking through you...

I'm a little late to last Friday's FBFF questions about body image and blogging, but they're good ones so I wanted to make sure I had time to think everything through! And this weekend was remarkably busy, working on an art installation that is being put in tomorrow morning. A coworker and I designed a piece that requires hundreds of suspended, illuminated, vellum butterflies...they're going to be beautiful, I hope. This does mean I've spent most of the last week constructing butterflies and wiring them up in preparation. The laser cutter at the lab is my new best friend (along with my old best friend, the hot glue gun).

So, the questions! (I was going to include some pictures with this post, but I keep leaving my camera cord at the lab. Soon!)

1. Since you started blogging has your image of yourself changed?
Yes, I would say that is true... though I'm not sure what part is due to blogging myself, what part is due to reading terrific fashion/style blogs and seeing a wide range of people looking fabulous, and what part is due to other influences. I do think that my body image has improved over the last year since I started being more conscious of/playful with my clothing choices. During my first year in grad school, I had slipped into just wearing jeans/sneakers/a fitted tee. Now, I get inspiration from amazing people all over the internet, and am inspired to have fun with my own fashion choices. I do think I feel better when I am pulled together and have put some thought into what I'm wearing. (A related secret: I often make sure to dress up if I'm sick to compensate!) So, blogging here about my personal style has encouraged me to make the effort to wear things I feel great in, as I know that at least a few people will notice.

The first image of myself I posted on this blog, and a picture from an outfit post a couple of weeks ago. I think there's been progress both in the style and the presentation...

2. Are you self-conscious about any aspect of yourself? If so, do you go out of your way to avoid it or do you post it/talk about it anyway?
Now that I think about it, there's fairly few things I'm self-conscious about physically, these days. I suppose I'm mostly uncomfortable with presenting myself in a possibly over-sexualized way...which sometimes results in discomfort with low-cut tops or too-high hemlines. Because I have a somewhat curvy body, I find that certain clothing choices can have much more sensual/sexual overtones than they would on a slender figure. Maybe that's just my imagination, but I'm definitely self-conscious of it.

So do I talk about these things? I guess I do on occasion. I'm still exploring how much I want to reveal in what contexts for this blog (especially about my work-related life, as I would prefer this blog not be easy for professional colleagues to find). I know I also select pictures for based on the ones where I think I "look good," but I'm not sure I have much of a mental model of how those images differ from the ones where I think I look less good. (Okay, except for photos from a side view. There, my photo selection is definitely influenced how much my stomach is sticking out. I guess I'm uncomfortable about that, too.)

3. Based on how you are feeling now, what do you think the future holds in the evolution of your body image?

I think (hope!) I'm going to continue getting more comfortable with myself and my body image. I'm taking steps to make sure I'm keeping my body healthy, like my morning workouts. I'm also having fun experimenting with my self-presentation through clothing and style, finding more things that make me feel good and look good to myself. I'd be interested to check back with myself in a year, or two, or five, and see how my feelings compare.

4. Do you photograph yourself for your blog? If so, how do you feel about the experience when you're having your picture taken? If you choose not to post pictures of yourself, what prompted that decision?
At this point, most of my entries involve photos of myself. Sometimes these are taken by the boyfriend or by one of my coworkers, but most of the time by myself with a tripod. I'm not sure I like the experience of self-photography, though I'm pretty comfortable being photographed by others, which may have something to do with the albums full of photos my mother's taken over the years. I feel much more contrived and uncomfortable posing for myself, especially if I'm outdoors where I might be observed.

Additionally, it's been interesting to see how outfits look different when photographed...there have been things that I've felt great in and thought I looked really nice in that are much less flattering in the photograph. (And as I still have a lingering belief in the truth of photography, this can make me change my mind on my original outfit.)

5. What would you want every person who struggles with body image to
take to heart?
You are beautiful right now. You don't have to look like a model or the girls you see in magazines or that pretty girl next to you on the train to be beautiful. You don't have to be a certain weight or shape or height or size or gender. You don't have to wear certain clothes or shoes or fix your hair a certain way. You are yourself, and I hope you will learn to accept and appreciate that gorgeous self.

Also, you should read Already Pretty if you don't yet...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Fashion and Feminism

Today, I mostly want to talk about a topic that I've been thinking about for a while in relationship to my personal style. Recently, I've come across a number of very interesting items around the fashion/style blogosphere discussing the intersection of fashion and feminism...something that's been quite close to my heart as a female, somewhat fashion-conscious student and researcher in a male-dominated technological field. In fact, the Fashionable Academics have a very interesting "call for papers" going on right now, asking for people who consider themselves feminists to submit brief descriptions of what feminism means to them. (If this sounds interesting to you, the deadline isn't till this Friday!). So I sent in my piece:

I am a female computer scientist: to me, feminism means pushing for a world where the description of myself as "female" does not affect others' perception of my skill as a "computer scientist." To me, feminism means equality of pay and equality of opportunity for men and women, without labeling either men or women as inherently, stereotypically, "better" at particular things. I believe we can recognize and be comfortable with differences (both societal and biological) between the genders while primarily supporting and honoring the unique abilities of each person regardless of their gender. If a person performs behaviors currently associated more with men or with women (or anywhere in between), I believe that performance should not reflect on that person's overall capabilities or their relationship to feminism. I am not more of a feminist when I wear a little mascara, or red lipstick, or no makeup at all. I am not more of a feminist when I wear sneakers or stilettos or boots. I am not more of a feminist when I study costume design or computer science or physics or cooking. In my ideal world, one's behaviors and ways of presenting oneself to the world are primarily expressions of self rather than expressions of a fixed or stereotyped gender.

On a related note, it's interesting for me to realize how much more comfortable I've gotten in the last year or so with wearing "stylish," "feminine" clothing. As I got more interested in computer science during college, I was aware that I focused on my clothing choices in the context of my field. Studies showed that girls do worse on math than boys only when they are made to think beforehand about their gender (and thus, it is suspected, remember the societal stereotypes about girls being bad at math). So, to fight this effect, I would make sure on test days never to wear skirts or dangling earrings or any clothing that was obviously coded as "female." Looking back, I find this effort a little bit silly...or at least troubling that I felt I had to make that effort.

Now, I'm almost doing the opposite thing. I take pleasure in wearing clothing that is coded as female while being quite competent in technical areas. Soldering in heels? Yes please! But at times this is a performance of gender as well; in my own subtle way, I'm attempting to subvert the expected relationship between femininity and technical ability. I'm particularly careful to wear a dress if I know I'll be demoing things to schoolchildren, to try to telegraph to the girls (and boys) that there isn't a discrepancy between being "girly" and doing computer science work. I'm certainly often performing femininity with my clothing (in a way that I think is consistent with my own desires for sartorial self-expression, even though I probably would revert to jeans and a fitted tee if I knew I wasn't going to see anyone that day.) But even with my recent efforts, I'm still careful not to seem too interested in fashion. I definitely try to make sure my blog doesn't show up on search results for me and my professional work. I'd love to see a time when I wouldn't have to worry about how some of my interests (especially the more female-coded ones like style, crafting, and sewing) would negatively affect the perception of my work-related capabilities.

Anyway. I'd love to hear what others think about some of these issues! If you're interested and want to read a couple of the posts that started me thinking and writing about this, check out Franca's thought-provoking post, and Those Grace's decision to become a feminist beauty blogger.

Quickly, about my Valentine's Day outfit from yesterday...didn't do much besides go to work, as the boyfriend and I decided to go out tonight instead (had a great deal for a fancy dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday nights). I still wanted to be somewhat holiday-appropriate, which led to the red dress that I had finally finished hemming over the weekend (it used to be floor-length with long sleeves. Far too much red plaid for me.) The overall ensemble ended up being referred to as "Gothic Lolita" by a coworker...not sure what I think about that!

Details: Dress, thrifted and DIY'd. Lace-trimmed slip, thrifted. Shoes, Nine West. Sweater, Express. Necklace, estate sale. Earrings, handmade. Belt, from a thrifted dress. Tights, Loft.

Hope everyone is having a good week!

Friday, February 11, 2011

True Colors

This week's Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions were all about color...something pretty relevant to today's bright outfit! (Don't ask me why I have plastic monkeys sewn onto my skirt. It's actually work-related, I swear! (and ended up being quite worth it.)) Basically, the outfit started with my needing to wear the skirt. And if I was wearing bright monkeys on the skirt, I needed to color-coordinate --thus the red sweater and blue necklace. I was thinking about wearing red flats too, but that just felt like too much.

Details: black skirt, thrifted and DIY'd by me. Red sweater, thrifted. Red camisole, Express. Tights, HUE. Black oxford heels, Nine West. Necklace, gift.

FBFF Questions for 2.11 - Color War.
1. What color dominates your closet?
I've got a pretty balanced closet (actually, I organize it by color, so I can tell what colors I have very easily), though it's starting to lean more and more to black/gray/white/neutrals. However, I think the more interesting question for me is what colors dominate the things I actually WEAR on a regular basis. My regular outfits really become heavily dominated by black/white/brown, with some deep reds and blues, occasionally purple. I tend to go for more saturated shades; I'm not big on wearing pastel colors. I used to wear a lot more color... maybe that should be a goal for the spring, to get some of my bright-colored clothing out of the closet and into some outfits!

2. If money weren't an issue how would you change the color emphasis in your closet?
I'd add more accessories in bright colors...I won't necessarily wear a bright pink or yellow shirt, but I'd definitely do so in a belt, shoes, or a necklace!

3. What is your mantra about mixing colors?
I don't have many hard-and-fast rules, here. Black goes with everything. White also goes with everything. I prefer to stick with colors in similar tones - several shades of purple, for instance. I'm not so much a fan of mixing bright colors (though when I was a little kid, that was my primary style rule: wear really bright colors that "clashed" with one another.)

4. For you, how do you incorporate color into your outfits?
I mostly stick to one or two bold-colored pieces at a time, and tend to tone things down a bit with black, white, or gray. I have many more colorful skirts and sleeveless dresses than I do tops at this point -- a secret fear of mine is sweating (which is not an infrequent occurrence) and making dark sweaty underarm stains. So I'm really careful about what color shirts I wear, which I'm finding seriously limits the amount of color I wear.

5. Which blogger(s) do you think do a good job of incorporating color into their wardrobe?
Franca from Oranges and Apples always has amazing, bright color combinations! (If you don't believe me, check out the images on her FBFF post today...)
I really love Sal's color mixing. Bold, but chic and not over-the-top. Seeing her outfits inspires me to wear more color, especially in accessories.
Lyddie from Chic on the Cheap can really rock bold colors and fun combinations.
And Marie from The Joy of Fashion wears colors that just make me happy!

Interesting stuff to think about, and makes me want to try some more color mixing in the next couple of weeks - get out some of my less-worn clothing and experiment! This outfit's a start, with the blue and red in the same outfit...though paired with black. I also find intriguing how much in my answers I assume that "color" refers to bright colors in rainbow shades. Really, black and gray and white and brown are all colors too, so skilled use of colors could include outfits that mix shades of these, or even an all-black outfit with many different textures and layers. I would also include these in "colors," though that's not my intuitive definition.

Hope everyone's having a good Friday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My New Favorite Vest

This was what I wore today, another work outfit for a day of meetings and demos. Today was sunnier and a little bit warmer, but I still ended up with a ton of layers...a dress over a shirt and skirt, and two pairs of heavy tights (my trick this winter for keeping my legs warm.). The vest was a late addition today... I was taking a bit of an easy morning and getting to the lab later than normal, so ended up stopping by the Goodwill on my way. I'm very glad I did, as I came across this gorgeous long gray vest...tailored impeccably, fits me quite well, was only $7, and may now be vying for my favorite clothing item. (And did I mention, it's Armani? I really some my thrifting luck today!) So the vest got added on when I got to work! I'm finding myself quite drawn to tailored items these days, which is an interesting style development...

Details: Sonia Rykiel blouse, thrifted. Brown Charlotte Russe dress, thrifted. Yellow skirt, thrifted. Gray Armani vest, via Goodwill. Tights, HUE. Brown oxfords, Aldo. Belt from thrifted dress. Earrings, Ebay jewelry lot.

Let's see, what else is going on? Still keeping up my morning workouts, which is exciting. I'm signed up for a 5K race in a I know I can definitely run that far. Though I've never actually run a formal race, particularly not a road race, so it'll be a new experience for me. I think I'm going to want to get off the treadmill and start running more outside before then. If it ever gets any warmer!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Everybody Everywhere wears blazers!

So my outfit today is inspired by today's challenge from Everybody Everywear. Basically, the goal is to construct an outfit around a blazer, and wear it on February 8. I particularly wanted to join in on this challenge as I have a number of thrifted blazers in my closet that I never/almost never wear... I keep thinking they'll be a good piece, I see great outfits with patterned and colored and tailored blazers, and then I have difficulty actually making an outfit work proportionally on my body. I think part of it is because many blazers have well-defined, often padded, shoulders, and I have somewhat narrow shoulders and a curvy figure... so I haven't quite figured out how to make the proportions come out in a way I enjoy. Anybody have any suggestions? (Looking forward to seeing a range of ideas from Everybody Everywear, too!)

I went through a couple of iterations of blazer + dress, trying to find something fun, and was drawn to this summery jersey dress I'd thrifted a couple of months ago but hadn't worn due to its non-seasonal nature. Adding all the black pieces winterizes the outfit, but the dress may reveal how much I would like it to be spring, and soon, please! (An earlier outfit version had a cream blazer, too...) We had a couple of days of sunny 40 degree weather over the weekend, which was a tantalizing taste before we plunge back to 9 degrees and snowing tonight. These pictures are taken in a stairwell at my lab...lots of natural light, though quite gray since it's currently raining.

Details: Calvin Klein Dress, via Goodwill. Max Studio black blazer, thrifted. Black oxfords, Nine West. Tights, Ann Taylor Loft.

What else? Weekend was very, very busy with all day Saturday spent at the lab working on an electronic music event that my group was mostly responsible for (panels, demos, and a concert in the evening). Then Sunday we had to strike everything we'd set up for the concert. Sunday night involved my hosting a Jewish food/Super Bowl party with friends from lab, which may become a tradition. This involved making enough latkes and noodle kugel to feed 8 people for dinner, and ended up with enough leftovers for 6 people for lunch the next day...

Also, I'm trying something new with formatting to get larger images...what do you think?

Hope everyone's week is going well so far!

Image 245

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friend Friday: jumping on the bandwagon

So recently I jumped on the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday (FBFF) bandwagon. Basically, each week Katy of Modly Chic posts a series of questions for people in the group to respond to as they want. Coincidentally, this week's questions are mostly about jumping on various bandwagons!

1. With all the blogging events out there how do you determine which ones to participate in and which ones to avoid?
I think it really comes down to which events inspire me - what drives me to do something creative or exciting. (Like the Thing-a-Day challenge, though I'm already a bit behind in that, or being part of Wardrobe Refashion.) Additionally, I've been trying to focus on what events fit my personal goals. For instance, though I love seeing everyone's 30 for 30 posts, I've got a closet full of items that I don't wear often enough and I'm trying to push myself into integrating the more unusual and bold pieces into my daily wear. I suspect that I could take 30 of my staple items and wear them in a variety of different ways -- but honestly, I'd rather be trying to take advantage of as much of my closet as possible. (In this way, I'm definitely fortunate to have had very cheap thrift shopping around!) Alternately, I really want to do the next Everybody Everywear

This thought process led to my deciding to join FBFF...I'd been seeing other bloggers answer each week's interesting questions and felt that it would be a nice push for me to be thoughtful about my style and blogging practices. And I've been loving the community aspect as well!

2. Be honest, have you ever jumped on the bandwagon of some blogging movement/event for the wrong reasons? How did that turn out?
Sure. Especially when I first started, it seemed that EVERYONE was on the other style blogging platforms - Weardrobe, Chictopia, Wardrobe Remix etc. However, the various picture-rating systems on some of those are not my favorite thing. I'm sure it's really helpful for new bloggers to get validation that others think they're "chic," (as it was any time someone commented on/voted on one of my photos), but took a lot of additional time. If I felt the need to post an outfit to tons of places, I often didn't end up posting anything at all! I still frequent Chictopia on occasion, but haven't really done anything on Weardrobe or Wardrobe Remix in ages.

3. How do you give your own flair to a blog event while still maintaining the general mission and purpose?
I suppose this partly comes from that previously-mentioned attempt at trying to only join in on events that are relevant to my personal goals for myself/my blog, so I can come up with content that's true to me.

4. When determining the best content for your blog what criterion do you keep in mind?
Right now, I'm still working on developing my own blog style and growing my personal voice. I do try to learn from the things I like or don't like in reading other peoples' blogs...for instance, I'm personally not a big fan of scrolling through dozens of pictures in a post, or giant pictures, unless they're really, really gorgeously done. So I try to keep the pictures in my blog fairly short and sweet.

5. While everything will not suit your blog, how do you try and support your fellow bloggers who are participating in something
worthwhile but not your style?

Just because I'm not participating in a particular blogging meme doesn't mean that I don't find it interesting to watch what others come up with! I try to comment on others' blogs as I can, and see what's going on.

In any case. Interesting questions to think about! Started this post early this morning, but now finishing late group has been working very hard this week pulling together a day of panels/demos/performances tomorrow. So hopefully that all goes off well! And now for some sleep soon...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 2: Floral Hairpin

Today's "thing" is a floral hairpin made from an old thrifted cashmere top.  I just cut three sizes of circles out of the cashmere, and sewed a zigzag stitch around the edge to keep them from coming unraveled and put a slight ruffle in the edges. Then I stitched all the pieces together by hand and added a vintage button in the middle.  A bobby pin is attached on the back of the piece.

And the snow keeps coming down...

I wore this outfit on Monday, the one day this week where I could get away with cute shoes and not just snow boots. Tuesday it snowed even more, and all today we've been getting a lovely ice/snow/sleet/rain/"wintry mix." This outfit really started with the tunic top, which was Sunday evening's refashioning project. While cleaning up things last week, I had come across a number of black, gray, and red sweaters that I'd been keeping to refashion - some wool, some cashmere, some just acrylic -- all of which had issues like moth holes, seriously not fitting me, or being "I'm sure you can do something with this!" hand-me-downs from my family.

The body of a gray sweater of my brother's became the bottom. Then I took rectangles of fabric from two separate black sweaters, sewed a bit up one side to leave an armhole/draped sleeve, and sewed them to the waist with a zigzag stitch so edges didn't unravel. I attempted to leave as many existent hems and finished edges in place as I could! Then the middle seam was still pretty lumpy and not attractive, so I covered it up with a sash made from the sleeve of a red hole-filled sweater.

I'm pretty pleased with the result, though I think I still need to balance the sides a little bit and tack down the belt in more places around the waist. I especially like the open back, though it does require me to wear a tank top or something under it. But the whole piece was very comfortable!

Details: Sweater top, refashioned. Freestyle Revolution Jeans, thrifted. Black Roothy oxfords, Nine West. Tank top, Express.

And let me introduce you to my holiday-money shoes, deeply discounted Nine West oxfords. Ever do that thing where you put an item in your online cart and then leave it there while you try to convince yourself that you don't need it and should spend the money on something practical? Ever leave it there and keep debating for several days? Finally I figured that I really liked them if I kept coming back to them and having to try to argue myself out of them over again. And with a very good sale and free shipping, I think these were worth it! They're very comfortable, and I think I'll wear them a lot. Once the sidewalks dry out again, that is. Anyone else getting a bit tired of the endless snow?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 1 - Legwarmers

One of my goals with the Thing-a-Day project this month is to make items out of my large stash of fabric and thrifted clothing waiting to be upcycled.  Today's item is fairly simple: a pair of legwarmers from the sleeves of an old sweater, decorated with a few vintage buttons.  (The rest of the sweater went into making a tunic that I put together on Sunday.)

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