13 September 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

Hello, Fabulous Readers!

First of all, please accept my deepest apologies for the long gap since the last post. The summer turned into a very hectic time for me - as well as an unpleasantly warm one. Some day, I'll figure out that trying to deny the existence of warm weather by refusing to buy clothing for it isn't a very productive strategy.

The other reason I haven't been posting is that I've decided to take this blog in a new direction. Rather than focusing on my own personal style with outfit-a-day postings - although I'll still be sharing some of those - I'm going to be focusing more on fashion knowledge, history and technology.

I'm also starting to offer my services for personal style consultation, wardrobe management, and fashion styling for photography, fashion shows, and special events. As my clients permit, I'll share my work in that arena as well.

All of this will be happening over at my shiny new Web site, Everybody Gets Dressed!

09 July 2010

Link-tastic! 9 July 2010

My goodness, Fabulous Readers, it's Friday again already!

Franca at Oranges and Apples muses on gender divisions in the crafty world, and it's a subject that bears a lot of thought. The majority of top fashion designers are men, but men are very seldom thought of in terms of home or craft sewing, especially when it comes to making women's garments. There's a lot of history behind why some crafts are "men's" and some are "women's" (and some are perceived as relatively gender-neutral), but why do those divisions persist? Is the supposed lack of interest of fashion to men part of it? Is it related to the home/workplace divide?

WendyB breaks down the price of gold (literally!). Fabulous Husband also makes jewelry, albeit mainly in silver, and has the same issues: silver currently costs over $18 an ounce, but most people's mental total of "what silver jewelry should cost" is based on a price that's less than half that, from just a few years ago. What Wendy doesn't talk about (but has previously, if I recall) is how much time, effort and skill goes into making good jewelry - and how hazardous it is. In order to craft a piece of jewelry, a jeweler will work with 2000°F+ flames, highly toxic chemicals, and power tools that can cause some pretty serious injury.

Is white the answer to summer heat? Maybe not. Cheap JAP delves into history, science, and (of course) thrift stores to see if black is actually cooler. I'm eager to see what she finds to beat the heat!

Of course, if you can hit the beach (or the pool) in this weather, you can stay cool in a swimsuit. Read up on the history and culture of swimming clothes first at Worn Through.

Angie from You Look Fab talks about how to wear tops with skirts. With my skirt-centric wardrobe, I gleefully violate her first "rule" - I find it harder to match trousers and tops than skirts and tops! Of course, to her suggested ways to wear skirts, I'll add with a jacket and layered under a dress or tunic.

Great methodologies from Sal at Already Pretty: inventorying your wardrobe and honing your style and is it flattering

I'm very lucky that every single one of you Fabulous Readers is a kind, good-natured (or at least exceptionally polite) person who would never post a gratuitously nasty comment here. However, I know that other bloggers aren't so lucky. Minh-ha from threadbared and Gretchen from gretchen blogs both look at the unfortunate phenomenon of comments that go beyond disagreement or constructive criticism and into mean personal attacks.

Also from threadbared: Superman saves us from designer knockoffs! He may be the Man of Steel, but is he faster than a speeding fast-fashion merchandiser?

And a little bit of feminist thought to chew over for the weekend: Does Jezebel feed on women's insecurities as much as traditional fashion magazines - just in a different way? Not included in that article: the rebuttal to the original Jezebel post by its subjects.

Have a wonderful weekend, Fabulous Readers!

07 July 2010

The Iron(ed) Blogger

So it appears that my new-found passion for ironed summer clothing is not widely shared. Worry not, Fabulous Readers: I have no intention of becoming an ironing evangelist, especially because a quick tour of my closet revealed that I had very few lightweight, loose-fitting wovens that would benefit from such treatment.

Here's one of the few:

today's outfit, stripy tank top, Gap cotton skirt, John Fluevog sandals
Black-and-white stripy top, FDJ French Dressing, thrifted, remixed
Orange flower-print skirt, Gap, thrifted
Shoes, John Fluevog "Summertime: Haight," remixed
Silver necklace: depths of the jewelry box

The skirt, an XL/Tall, is way too big for me, and has some construction features that make me reluctant to take it in. Normally I'd leave at item that fit me this poorly on the rack, but the super print, lightweight all-cotton fabrication and pockets convinced me to take this one home.

heatwave outfit, fashionable in summer weather, beat the heat

I usually belt it at my waist for a paper-bag effect, but today I was more than happy to let it sit as low on my hips as it wanted and be drapey and airy. Proportions, in this weather, are the least of my concerns.

Oh, yes: the heat wave continues, with temperatures breaking 100° F for a second breezeless, sweltering day. The weather itself is becoming an endurance trial. We're really not accustomed to this weather in New York. Our houses aren't built for it (no AC in mine!) and neither are our wardrobes.

double French braids, rear view of braids, cool summer hairdo

So braids again it was. Next up: gin and tonics and ice cream for dinner.

How do you cope with excessive heat? How do your clothing choices change when the mercury boils?

06 July 2010

Too Darn Hot

I do not do well in hot weather.

fainting blogger, sundress, heatstroke
Dress, Brooklyn Industries, "Kritti"
Shoes, John Fluevog "Laurelei," remixed

So I'm melting in the floatiest, most minimal dresses possible, drinking huge, icy beverages, and trying not to move much. It's even too hot to wear jewelry.

today's outfit, Brooklyn Industries dress, John Fluevog sandals

My hair, thankfully, is continuing its progress toward braidability. I still get wisps at the back of my neck, but at least I can get the majority up and off my skin.

double French braids, cool summer hairdo

This is the new-and-improved version of my favorite blue dress, in... a different color blue (although this one's also a bit shorter, which is nice). I usually don't buy multiples of anything: having two dresses of the same style in the same color family is nigh-unprecedented.

turquoise knit dress, black white beige sandals

I've realized something pretty amazing in the past few days, though. Inspired by some conversation in a meandering thread on the fiber-arts site Ravelry, I tried substituting my tried-and-true summer staples - wee knit dresses like this one and knit camis and tanks - with crisply ironed natural-fiber wovens. Goodness gracious, Fabulous Readers, I was so much cooler.

I know everybody hates ironing. It's a practice that's very out of vogue, at least in my area. I'm finding, though, that it doesn't really take that long to press off a blouse and a skirt, or a little sundress, once you get in the habit of it. Do the clothes stay looking fresh-off-the-board crisp all day long? No, of course not. Does that really matter? The only down side I've really found is that on hot days, the last thing I want to do is be wreathed in a cloud of pressing steam!

I don't have too many summer-weight woven clothes, but the next time I go thrifting, I'm absolutely keeping my eye out for clothes I can press!

Do you iron, or is the very concept loathsome to you?

25 June 2010

Link-tastic! 25 June 2010

It looks like the quest for stylish shoes is nothing new. Since this link came to me by way of the Fluevog Twitter account, I wonder if we'll be seeing an updated version in an upcoming season?

Andrea from a cat of impossible colour writes about why she blogs. I'm immersed enough in modern academic thought patterns to be truly intrigued by metatextuality, the whys and wherefores of even our most basic actions. At some level, that's why I blog: to examine the reasons that I, and other people, wear what they do.

As ethical, sustainable production becomes more of a social issue, we'll hopefully start seeing more companies like Oliberté, a footwear company devoted to making shoes entirely in Africa - while providing their employees with fair working conditions. The shoes look like they're well-made and, while they're not my usual style, are definitely on the list to consider if I ever need a pair of casual athletic-type shoes.

In response to a New York Times article on the fashion demands of the plus-size market, The Waves wonders if getting swept into the fashion industry's current dynamic of overabundance of mediocre products is what any woman needs.

I've been expending a fair amount of brainpower trying to figure out if I can knit Nubby Twiglet's elegantly destroyed sweater.

S. from academichic recaps her year in Europe with a deliberately limited wardrobe. I particularly love her comments on choosing items that allow for the most versatility, even if they're not always "perfect." I think we get far too caught up in trying to find "the perfect..." (shoes, bag, jacket, whatever) and end up with burgeoning closets full of possibly redundant near-duplicates. Of course, I'm a big proponent of "buy what you wear" - there's a lot of sense in knowing your favorite items and sticking to them - but there has to be a happy medium somewhere.

Imogen from Inside Out Style suggests a packing list for a two-week, multi-function trip. I'm not sure I agree with all her choices - I'd choose a jersey dress for travel rather than yoga pants! - but it's a departure point.* What do you think?
* That was totally inadvertent. Sorry.

For those who sew, Gertie has some great tips for making comfortable, cool summer garments.

Megarita of Fashionable Academics discusses a way to examine summer clothing: the CAFTAN scale, ranging from "Heck, I might even be found in a closed-toe shoe in a snappy color" to "There is no hair style to be had. There is no shoe that will feel ok. There is no fabric that can stand this."

Super Kawaii Mama comes up with some outfits for spending time with her favorite musicians. I'm not as musically inspired or linked as some - I cannot write with music in the background, for one - so I love seeing how others are inspired by their favorite tunes.

Some musings on veils, modesty, and hot weather, from Worn Through. I'm not sure what I think about this, to be honest - is it possible to fully separate extreme modest dress (i.e., full-body veiling)  from the cultures of oppression, violence, and subjugation that often come with it? (And on a related note, has anyone ever looked into dress cultures and gender relations of the Tuareg, a nomadic group from Northern Africa whose traditional dress includes veils for men? Where does that fit in the current European/American dialect of the veiled woman as oppressed other?) Do the benefits of modest dress taken to extremis outweigh the possible health risks, i.e. heatstroke?

Audi discovers the secret to success, and it's thigh-high socks. I knew it!

Have a lovely weekend, Fabulous Readers!

24 June 2010

My Two Wardrobes

self-portrait of a redheaded blogger
Tie-dyed shirt, thrifted
Butterfly pendant, estate sale, remixed

I've been thinking a lot about this post recently, and the significance of editing - the self-editing just about every blogger does.

I don't show you all my clothes, Fabulous Readers. You don't see my gardening/scrubbing/home construction grubbies, the baggy board shorts I go kayaking in, my lounge-around-the-house-in-a-funk pajamas, my ad-hoc workout wear. You also don't see outfits on days, like today, where after half an hour with the camera I haven't been able to get a single photo that looks decent, that approximates what I see in the mirror.

Is that vain? Absolutely. But there are a lot of facets of me that I don't discuss on this blog: my politics, my religious views, my other areas of interest, what I had for dinner. That's not why you come here, which is also the reason I don't attempt to encyclopedically document every single thing that I put on my body, in some mad quest to be fashion blogging's answer to Samuel Pepys. You read my blog, I hope, to see and hear about my particular (peculiar?) perspective on fashion, its whys and wherefores - and hows.

Clothing might not shape our self-image in toto, but it does help define it to the world at large. I don't expect my clothes to express the sum of my personality to the world at large: instead, they present a carefully-edited version of myself, the parts of me I choose to show.
That process of editing, of choice, is what really fascinates me about fashion. Why do we make the choices we do? What determines why I find one shirt cute and another so unflattering as to only be suitable for the most menial of tasks? Why do we emphasize some parts of our bodies and desperately try to camouflage others?

It's easy to say "because of the dominant social paradigm" in response to all of these questions, but I think that's too simple an answer, and maybe even a bit of a cop-out. What are the forces that drive that paradigm? Where do they come from and what influences them? And what about the people who stray from that paradigm, by degrees minuscule or dramatic? What inspires them?

What do you think? Should style blogging be encyclopedic, a comprehensive catalog of what one person (or several) wears, or would you rather see a carefully thought-out selection of outfits a blogger thinks are interesting, inspiring, or attractive? What degree of (self-) editing is all right before a blogger loses authenticity and thus authority - some? None? Lots? No upper limit? Are style blogs more like diaries or one-person fashion magazines?

PS. Apologies to all you Fabulous Readers who subscribe via RSS: I don't know why this published while I was halfway through writing it!

22 June 2010

Reader Request:: Surviving Brutal Summers

Fabulous Reader Mindfulranter asks:

"Hey can you think of some looks for a seasoned (nearly 50) full figured woman who lives in Phoenix? Summers are brutal, would love to figure out simple, flattering, comfortable outfits to wear!"

I'm immensely flattered by this request! I've lived in the northeastern US all my life, where summers are a bit cooler and much more humid than the Southwest, so I'm working from theory rather than personal experience.

I don't know anything about Mindfulranter's figure type, complexion, or financial circumstances, so what follows are general ideas and suggestions, rather than specific recommendations for garments to buy.

lovely linen
Learn to love linen. Linen has a bad rep: people think that it's hard to care for, wrinkles easily, and needs to be dry cleaned. That's true if you expect linen to act like a suiting material and be crisp, shiny, and have a hard hand. Linen was the fabric of choice for undergarments in Europe for centuries for a reason, though, and not just because it grew easily all over the continent: when washed, linen becomes soft, drapey, and develops a gentle hammered texture. It's also one of the coolest fibers you can wear: unlike cotton, it doesn't "swamp" when it gets damp, and it's much more breathable than any synthetic. Look for linen garments that can be machine washed and dried, whether the tag says so or not: avoid acetate linings (which ruin the cool comfort, anyway), hand-wash-only trims, and structured garments like blazers. Other good fibers to look for are ramie, cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, and rayon. Avoid polyester, nylon, and synthetic blends: they trap heat and moisture. Fabrics like seersucker, chambray, gauze and voile are all good choices: these are lighter, more open weaves that allow for more air flow. Lighter colors are generally more comfortable, but some dark hues in your summer wardrobe are just fine.

super sundresses
Fashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Dresses are the best. What could be better in the summer than a cool, breezy dress? Look for styles that skim the body rather than cling in lightweight fabrics. Don't fear maxi dresses whether you're full-figured or slender: just choose them carefully for your figure type. The extra length can provide a bit of shade and trap breezes. Keep accessories light and minimal: broad belts and giant statement necklaces can be oppressive in the summer heat. Skirts are great, too, when you want separates.

summer tunicsFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Flowing tunics are great, too. Pair them with cropped leggings, harem pants, and knee-length or maxi skirts. Again, keep the fabrics light, and choose wovens over knits: knitted materials seem to absorb and retain more moisture, trapping heat with it. A super-light summer scarf, wrapped loosely, can add color and style without getting too schvitzy. Soak it in cool water, cowboy-style, to help cool off if the temperature's unbearable.

Outfits with hatsFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Don't forget your hat. Broad-brimmed hats are ideal for sunny, hot climates: what's not to like about portable shade? Fuller-figured women often have the body scale to carry off broad brims with style. Look for straw or canvas styles, and pair them with just about anything in your wardrobe.

One thing I don't think works well for hot, dry climates are shorts. Those are better in hot humid weather, where excess fabric can cling and stick. However, when it's hot and dry, a loose, drapey longer garment can provide a bit of protection from the sun and trap stray breezes.

Any Fabulous Readers from desert climates have any suggestions or further ideas? I'd love some feedback!