Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Color me happy

I love to wear bright colors, so the prompt to do so was a welcome one to me. My two favorite colors are green and coral. I went with coral today, since I've worn green for the past three prompts. I added this scarf, which was a Christmas gift. It's part of my effort to insert more pattern into my wardrobe. My Mom gave it to me, and I really love the colors in it. I've worn it several times now (every time I was going to be around a different group of people), but so far I've used it to brighten up brown sweaters. I liked changing it up by pairing it with the coral. I want to try it with my orange shirt, too. I also tied it differently today than I've been wearing it.

Sweater and scarf, gifts. (My mom said the scarf is from Charming Charlies) Trousers, Stein Mart. Shoes ?

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last week I joined in the challenge at the last minute, so I wore all my outfits on the day of the challenge. This week I decided to get ahead of the game, and I wore this to church yesterday. The prompt was to wear an outfit inspired by a decade or region. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling very inspired, so I think this is pretty blah. But it's also very me, since I usually just put together basic (often green) pieces with not much accessorizing.

Can you guess what I took as my inspiration? No? It's the '50s. A cardigan over a tucked in shirt, and a long, full, skirt are the fifties inspired elements. I went modern by wearing it with boots. This is also very me. I wear skirts with boots constantly in the winter. I love skirts, but I hate to be cold. Heels mean cold feet, so even though that would have been a stronger fifties look, I stuck with my boots and socks.

Once I saw the picture I realized I should have added a short scarf à la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to jazz this up a little and carry the Fifties theme a little more strongly. Or layering the skirt to give it more fullness would have been a good idea, too. It may look blah, but it feels a bit decadent thanks to the fabrics. The skirt is velvet, and the cabled cardigan is a silk-cotton-cashmere blend. Even the shirt actually has some white, lacy looking embroidery, making the outfit a little more textured and layered looking in person than it came off in the blurry picture. I guess if I'm going to blog about my outfits, I should get more than one picture of them. :) Oh well, live and learn. I'm looking forward to bright colors and the OTI this week. I'm not so sure about the coat challenge or the last day, but I am sure the second week of the challenge will continue to be fun and educational.

Skirt, Target (old). Shirt, hand-me-down. Sweater, thrifted. Boots, probably Lazarus, which is now Macy's.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mixing it up

I never got around to posting this last night, but yesterday the prompt was to mix patterns. After the rest of the prompts this week, this one felt easy. In actuality, most of my clothing is solid, and that goes double for my winter clothes. So the fact is, I didn't have all that many options. I put this together pretty quickly. I really liked this outfit, but I didn't feel like I was stretching myself with it. I don't bat an eyelash at stripes with patterns now. :) It was fun seeing everyone else's pattern mixing. Quite the stripy group!

The 10 Day Winter Challenge is weekday gig, so I'll be back Monday with another outfit.

Sweater, The Limited. It was a gift several years ago. Striped shirt, jeans, shoes, thrifted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Anything you can do...

The prompt today was to channel someone--to create an outfit inspired by the style of a person or fictional character. So far the challenges have gotten progressively harder for me every day. I was so stumped with this one! I kept trying to think of someone whose style I admire, but I couldn't seem to build an outfit from there. Finally, I stood in my closet and tried to think about whether any of my clothes reminded me of anyone. That took me in an unexpected direction. I decided to channel the sartorial style of Annie Oakley. She definitely a had style of her own, and she was one of the first female American celebrities, in the modern sense.

The reason I settled on Annie Oakley was I spotted this shirt. It was the fringe that made me think of her. The shirt was given to me by my grandmother when I was in college. I was completely befuddled by the gift, since it seemed totally outside the realm of my usual wardrobe. I couldn't imagine why she might have given me such a shirt. The only thing I could figure was that she gave it to me because of the Western look, since I went to college in Texas. She must have been on to something, though, since I still have it. I can't remember the last time I wore it, but I guess I have a sentimental attachment to it, so it hasn't ended up in the donate pile.
I was kind of nervous my outfit too costumey, but my husband actually liked it. An Annie Oakley look requires boots, and the shirt has all the shape of a potato sack, so it cried out for a belt. Thus, the same belt and boots as yesterday, totally different look. I added my twirly denim skirt, red tights, and I was ready to go. This was a pretty fun outfit to wear, and it was very comfortable and warm. Since James gave it the thumbs up, I may wear it again.

Shirt, gift. T-shirt & skirt, thrifted. Tights, another item I've had since high school (Express, I think. Can't believe they've lasted this long.). Boots, TJ Maxx, Belt, Kohls.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

I thought the challenge to embrace a trend was going to be really hard, since I am just not a trendy person. I like what I like, and I don't really worry about trends. Hey, I still wear clothes from high school!

And I read through Kayla's list of suggestions with mounting concern about my ability to meet the prompt. I rejected trend after trend basically because I owned no clothes that fit the bill. And nail polish wasn't going to happen. Fun fact: I don't mind toe nail polish, but I can't stand how it feels on my fingernails. My options seemed pretty limited.

But then at the bottom of the list was ”Tangerine.” And I thought, "Oh, yeah. Orange!” I knew all about the Pantone color of the year. And because I'm so in tune with the zeitgeist, I bought this orange shirt at a thrift store at the beginning of November, before the color was even announced. It's been in my special needs laundry pile ever since. So last night I gathered some other delicates and washed it.

Being as it's cold here, I layered it with this cream colored sweater. I decided to wear it with this blue skirt, because thanks to my knowledge of the color wheel, I knew pairing the orange with its complementary color would play up its orangeness. And you can't tell in the picture, despite the fact that I forgot to zip my boots, but my tights have a chevron pattern. So I believe that's actually two trends in one outfit, even if chevrons are like, so totally 2011.

Shirt, thrifted. Sweater, hand-me-down. Skirt, Stein Mart. Belt, Kohls. Tights, Target. Boots, TJ Maxx

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't take my monochrome away

Today the prompt was monochrome: to wear clothes from only color family. We did this one in the summer, too, and both times it was super hard for me. Head to toe neutrals is not a look I feel like I can pull off, but I don't have any colored pants or skirts for winter at the moment. I do have this reddish brown skirt, so I went with maroon. I can't remember if I've ever worn this combination before, so I don't know if met my novel outfit criteria, but it was my only option that wasn't brown, blue, or black.
Since I thought I might have worn this before, I added jewelry, which I normally wouldn't bother with. Not sure I loved the jewelry I chose with this outfit, but at least it was different than what I would typically do. I've had both the jewelry and the shirt since high school (probably 16-18 years). The shirt is very comfortable and doesn't have to be ironed, so it's always been a favorite. Plus, I like the colors, and it's still in great shape. Go cotton velour! It was from American Eagle. I wonder if their stuff generally holds up this well? The skirt is a hand-me-down and probably from the late '70s, early '80s? I like how it flares at the bottom. The movement when I walk makes it fun to wear. All in all, I'd say this outfit gets a passing grade. I was satisfied with it, but not excited about it.

Skirt: vintage. Shirt, jewelry: vintage-ish. Boots: TJMaxx. Tank: thrifted.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Kayla over at Freckles in April is hosting another clothing challenge. This time it's only 10 days, not 21. Since the last time was so educational and inspiring to me, and 10 days doesn't seem too daunting, I thought I'd try it again. I hope it's not boring for people to see what I wear everyday, since I'm certainly no fashionista. For me it's kind of an interesting creative exercise. The 21 Day Challenge in August led me to introduce more stripes, scarves, and belts into my wardrobe, so we'll see what happens this time.

Today, the prompt was to wear layers. This was not outside my comfort zone at all. I frequently layer clothes but usually for practical reasons: warmth or modesty. I have a lot of go-to layered outfits, but my personal goal with this challenge is to combine my clothes in a novel way each day--to come up with an outfit I've never worn before.
Today I layered a short sleeved pale pink cashmere sweater with a long sleeved red tee. My guess is the sweater was once part of a twinset, but I got it at a thrift store (I actually bought it during the last challenge), and it is sadly divorced from its matching cardigan. I liked it with the red t-shirt, because I thought it was kind of a fun, modern look for the soft, sweet, vintage sweater. Plus it was bright and cheerful on this grey, gloomy day. The necklace I made for the statement jewelry prompt in the 21 Day Challenge, and I just remembered I wore it on the last day, too. I forgot about that! We could just pretend that I was intentionally bridging the two challenges, though. :)

Shirt, sweater, corduroys all thrifted. Necklace made by me. Shoes, from Kohls, forever ago.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Organizing a Purse

January tends to be a time when people have organization on their minds. People make resolutions to become more organized or to de-clutter. People are putting away Christmas decorations and trying to make space in their homes for the gifts they've received. Orthodox Christians generally are trying to get their houses ready to be blessed, which means every room must be presentable; no shoving things in one room and shutting the door. And since people tend to be spending a lot of time inside, it's natural to think about how to make our homes more pleasant and livable.

I'm no exception. I have a lot of plans for making my home more functional this year. I want to spend less time looking for things, less time shoving stuff back into closets, less time rearranging thing so they'll fit. I have plans for my laundry room, my closets, my kitchen, my bathrooms. But I decided to start small. I organized my purse.
I'm very fond of my purse for several reasons. Most importantly, it belonged to my cousin Alison, who departed this life a year ago at the age of 34 due to an infection complicated by type 1 diabetes. She was a kind, smart, funny, beautiful person, and I love carrying this reminder of her everywhere I go. Secondly, I like that it's green, my favorite color. (My family would probably call it my signature color.) Finally, I like that it's nice and deep and holds a lot of stuff.

The downside to the depth and capacity of my purse is that invariably what I need is at the very bottom. It leaves me digging around with my arm in it up to my elbow, or pulling out all the contents and piling them somewhere in order to find what I need. Very soon after I received the purse, I realized that constantly trying to find my keys in the depths of my bag wasn't going to work. I bought a carabiner (big clip) to put on my keyring, so I can clip it to the strap. It's one of the best organizational things I ever did. But you can see how sadly I was lacking order in my handbag. Here are its contents. Note that this picture is not staged in any way. I just pulled everything out and piled it on the ottoman.
In my experience, the main steps to organizing something are editing, categorizing, and containerizing. For me these steps are pretty fluid. Sometimes editing and categorizing might take place simultaneously, and depending on what you're organizing, either one might take place first. Editing is determining what needs to be kept and what doesn't belong in the area being organized. Categorizing is sorting the items and grouping like items together, and containerizing is storing the items so that they're accessible and will stay sorted. A good way to start the editing process is to sort everything into keep, discard, and store elsewhere piles.

This is my store elsewhere pile. It contains an eyeglass case, a pair of sunglasses, a clip, an emery board, and a lip gloss. I realized I don't take off my glasses when out and about, so I don't really need the eyeglass case. I'm now keeping prescription sunglasses in my car, for easy access when driving, so I don't really need to carry around the sunglasses. The clip was from a bag of snacks which have been consumed, and the lip gloss and emery board were duplicates. All of these have now been stored in an appropriate place other than my purse.
This is the discard pile. There are lots of receipts, an empty checkbook, expired coupons, assorted paper items.  Some could be recycled, some needed to be shredded, some had to be tossed.
The big wad of paper with the receipts actually wasn't in my purse. It's the stuffing from this purse insert, which was a key part of the containerizing process.

My extended family does a $10 random gift swap on Christmas, and this is the gift I received. I doubt I would have thought of buying something like this myself, but I really think it's going to help keep things accessible. Here's what I put in it: a pen, an eyeglass cleaning cloth, a little notebook, the printout from our most recent Bible study that I want to read over, two zipper pouches, and some mints. The pouches and notebook fit neatly in the main compartment, and the pen, mints, and eyeglass cleaner each fit into a designated pocket. 
The icon pouch contains my little prayer book. A friend of mine brought this pouch back from Greece a while back, and when she gave it to me, I immediately put my prayer book in it. Aside from my key clip this is really the only successful organizing effort I had previously instituted in my purse. The book had taken a beating from being knocked around with the other items.  I've had to reinforce it with book tape. The pouch protects it, and by keeping it from falling open, has made it easier to extract from my purse.

The peace sign pouch was given to me this Christmas by one of our God sons. I'd been thinking about making some zipper pouches for my handbag, so I was really pleased to get this pouch and the purse organizer for Christmas. I'm sure my purse got organized much faster than it would have if the project had required me to purchase supplies and get motivated to do some sewing! The contents of this pouch are an an example of categorizing and containerizing, I grouped like items together and then contained them so they'll stay together. I used this zipper pouch for grooming items. The comb and hair bands went in the side pocket, and I put lip gloss, chapstick, and an emery board in the main pocket.
Now you've seen all the contents of the purse organizer. Here are the other two items currently in my purse: my wallet and a small umbrella.  The wallet got cleaned out as well, and the loose change from my purse is now stowed in the zipper pocket of my wallet.
When I'm not at home, my phone goes in my purse as well, but as you may have guessed, I've been using it to take these pictures.  Typically I also keep a re-usable bag that folds into a pouch in my purse, but I believe I left it at my parents' house over the holidays.  Having now given a lot of thought to the contents of my purse, I think some hand lotion and a handkerchief or tissues would be useful to have.  There's room for a book, when needed, but usually I carry another bag with me to work for library materials, or I stow a book in my knitting bag. Do you have any purse organization tips?  Is there anything I don't have in mine which you consider a necessity?