Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Summer Blahs

It's pretty early to be sick of summer, here. August sucks in so many ways; thank goodness it's nearly over. But the heat will continue.
So I give up. Uncle.

It is taking every bit of discipline I have not to yearn for fall. I admit I'm tired of all the screaming bright color of summer, and am longing for some cool weather thinking. So even though I've stopped trying to be all happy-clappy about the super-heated misery of summer, I persevere with the wardrobe re-mix project.

It's turning out to be less fun than I hoped it might be. There is still plenty to mix up, but new combinations are not necessarily better combinations. The more pairings I consider, the more I'm pretty sure I was right the first time. The good news is that although every new combo won't be a winner, they are options. Options are good.

I usually wear a peplum with a pencil skirt, and
haven't worn them with a necklace.
Another way to get some wear out of
these this summer ... 
I like wearing the mid-height heel, and
these I bought for fall.  (That's my story and
I'm sticking to it.)

I'm cheering myself up by joining the Often Colorful and Sometimes Casual Patti at her Playdate for Grown-Up Girls and Boys, Visible Monday !

Monday, August 19, 2013

Out and About in a Dress AND Pants.

In the spirit of last week's decision to thoroughly explore combinations that are already in my closet, I decided to take a run at a look that I've seen a lot in blogs and in magazines, but never in my real life travels. Never at all. Not on anybody around here. (Which can be a risky experiment because, usually, there's a good reason why I haven't see it.)

In one dress shop, the clerk (a woman probably only a little younger than I am) said, " Oooh ... I like your ... ummm ... " waving a hand at my head, then down to my toes.
"Dress and pants?" I suggested.
"Yeah ... your outfit! " she said, happy to come up with a word for my odd look.

And at a department store, I walked past a middle-aged couple and I overheard part of what the man said.
" (Something inaudible, then ...) ... wear pants and a dress at the same time?"
The woman replied, "Oh, yeah ... it's kind of a thing."

So I guess it's a legitimate thing. I also noticed that I got a lot more attention from clerks in the better stores.
Not sure if they thought I looked like someone who might buy something, or if they just wanted to know if the monkey could talk.

But I'm choosing to take the above comments as generally positive.

This one is my favorite.  I love this peacock-feather print, but 
it's just a little short for my comfort levels just as a dress.

Same basic dress, but has always made me look a little like a pigeon with my 
chest all puffed out.  Same bra, same weight, three days later than the pic above. 
 It actually looks better with the pants and shoes than as just a dress.

There's a little personal jury that convenes in my head that makes the final decision about whether to wear an experiment a second time or not. So far, they're still undecided and out having a nice lunch. These two outfits are sort of fun, and comfortable. Sensible dressing really, and I don't find the silhouettes completely unflattering. Not ground-breaking, but new for me. I can see more possibilities in winter with a jacket as a third piece.

But there was some fun in taking just a tiny risk, and having something feel new (okay, new-to-me) at the end of a season instead of the very beginning. And all this without having to buy anything new to get that fizzy feeling.

Such a deal.


I'm  thrilled to join  Patti, ( the Hostess who Really Knows Her Animal Prints and their Blood Alcohol Levels) at her wonderful, weekly bloggy-party, Visible Monday !

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Moratorium on Shopping for Summer Stuff!

I'm done shopping.

Not forever, of course. Just for the summer season. And to further clarify, I'll still be out there in the summer heat, on quest for this thing or that, but I'm pretty much done* with what I'm buying specifically to wear this summer. And I'm not dragging myself through the end-of-season sales that are already picked to death, and particularly picked to death in my size(s). 

Here in Big-Box-Retail-Only-Ville, although it is still 800 degrees F and 110 percent humidity, summer is over but fall isn't even on the horizon. ( It exists only in the mind's eye of fashion magazine editors getting out those September issues in early August.) It's that liminal time when stores look post-apocalyptic ... there are some racks of sad summer rejects in peculiar sizes side by side with some sparsely stocked shelves of a very few new fall basic-basics that, because of the miserable heat, look scary and unappealing. Not much inspiration to be found there. I'm tired of the heat, and yearning for fall.

But here I am, talking like all this is a bad thing. My more conscientious self and my wallet love it because there is a great deal less temptation if there isn't even anything interesting to look at. And with my specifically summer purchases all settled in their new home in my closet, it's time to put them to some harder work. Because there are still a couple of months of high temps to go, there's plenty of time to make old favorite pieces look fresher or more interesting with new playmates, and try some different combinations.

My wardrobe is the only place where I encourage promiscuity, and in my closet, two-timing separates are encouraged to hook up. The more the merrier. I've mentioned before that I think twice and then a third time about any purchase that doesn't have at least two potentially compatible mates already in my closet. But I'm a creature of habit, and I tend to pair the same items again and again when I think they work for me, forgetting other possibilities. It takes some conscious effort to remember to switch things up, but the process can be rewarding ... new-ish outfits!

This is the first time I've declared a moratorium* on new summer pieces so I can devote my attention to thoroughly exploring all workable combinations. And, season aside, this is a great style-moment to be switching up a lot of colors and textures and prints, anyway.

Separates, of course, are the easiest to recombine. (And I pretty much live in separates as they make my proportions easier to manage.) But I tend to reach for pants to go with a top because they just seem easier, but how about some of those cute skirts that are bought with such enthusiasm, but tend to languish in the back of the closet?

Not with a skirt, here but...
Boxy top I don't wear often ... usually with black pants and navy shoes. 
Small changes here, skinnier denims and black shoes.  I'm not sure I like
 this boxy style very much on me, but I LOVE this Asian-fusion print and silky fabric. 
 A summer reject I've decided to work harder .

Dresses are pretty much what they are, but can look so different with a change from old-favorite shoes, belt, scarves, jewelry, bag and outerwear. Again, I'm a creature of habit, but it never hurts to look at a pieces that I usually dress up and try to dress them down. And vice versa. Dresses over pants for that upcoming transitional time between seasons? That's certainly food for thought, and I've seen a lot of you doing it to good effect. Daunting, but if it is doable I won't need new pieces to try it. I have dresses and I have pants. That's a perfect project for this moratorium period.

Dresses with pants brings me to another thing to consider right now: which summer things will make the slide from summer to fall, and how, and with what other pieces. Besides that, I have a very few summer things that still need some alterations to work well. That needs to be done, so I have a lot of wardrobe projects whose times have come.

*Just how long this moratorium-hiatus thing will be in effect is still undetermined. I reserve the right to break it at any time, and declare my personal Pre-Fall season underway. (Which will happen at the Phillip Lim for Target opening on September 15th, if not sooner.) I may well become enchanted with and purchase shoes, costume jewelry and purses at any time, none of which are included in this moratorium.

Wish me luck ...


Please join me at the Non-Matchy-But-Going-Strong Patti's Visible Monday  !

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tricky Tops, Half-Tucks and Other T-Words

After last week's confusion about wilderness women in floaty skirts and boots (the focus on boots) I finally remembered that I actually do have some long skirts that might wish to go out and about in warm weather. After digging around a bit, I found a pair of semi-sheer skirts just asking to be reconsidered for summer. ( Yes, my clothes are as chatty as my shoes.) They were purchased a couple of winters ago to wear with soft sweaters, tights and boots, and I had quite a lot of fun wearing them that way.

But I'd tried them the following summer with lighter tops, and I'd just not been able to make the proportions work. Even shorter tops often look long on me ( I'm both very short and short-waisted) and in average length tops, I tend to look like I'm wearing a tunic-length top anyway, no matter what proportions the designer originally intended. The long skirt with a long top just swallowed me whole. Tucking shirts in the traditional way put the waist up around my armpits and made my whole torso and waist look thicker because of the tucked fabric. Adding a narrow belt to the long tunic just looked like a sack of potatoes tied up with twine.

The advent of that fairly recent and very casual styling tool, the half-tuck, has helped me solve this proportion issue. Since I no longer have a waist-line that cuts straight across, it just narrows the look at the waist. (Yeaaaayyyy to THAT!) The other fairly new styling tool that helps is a wider, slightly tougher-looking belt. It results in a less precious look than the very narrow belts that were everywhere in recent seasons. Just a tiny bit of edge. I should note: I do remember that wider belts have been around forever. So have the skinny ones. What's new about them is that we're wearing them just a little differently.

These tricks are trends, of course, but that's become such a dirty word that I rarely use it. Whether you call them trends, or styling tools, or current ideas, sometimes good ideas that solve problems become widely adopted. Another way to look at a trend is a good idea that a whole lot of women are trying, for better or for worse. Clearly, not all trends are great ones, but I'm for anything that makes my old wardrobe work better and longer for me.

And, I'm happy to know that old dogs can sometimes adopt and adapt new tricks to good effect.

I'm pleased to wear pleats today with Perfectly Pleated Patti's Party, Visible Monday .