Pause for Gauze

Last week I mentioned that I’d become obsessed with an online store called Oh My Gauze, and at the time I said I’d take some pics of my new outfits eventually, so here’s part one of me fulfilling that promise. I’m also going to link to items when I can, so you can go check them out if you want (some of the pieces I bought were discontinued and are no longer for sale through the store, although many times you can find them on eBay). You’re welcome.

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Photography nerd alert: this is a composite shot – my upper body is from one photo while the lower body is from a different one.

I say part one because I seriously bought a lot of pieces from this store in the past few weeks. About 8 items are at the tailor right now, because in tops and dresses especially OMG clothing tends to run a little large on me. I’m skinniest in my shoulders and torso area, so with the generous sizing of this brand those things can look sloppy even though they’re already intended to be loose. Pants and skirts, though, are generally fine, although I did take one skirt in for alterations as well, because the balloon hem combined with big pockets made it a little heavy and it was pulling the skirt down (the waist was a little big, but it wouldn’t have mattered had the skirt not been on heavy side).

I will say that my outfits were a big hit at the tailor’s; it was a holiday here today so a lot of parents were taking their kids in for alterations on this or that (no idea what sort of kid-events go on in October, but there sure were a lot of people there) and as I kept coming out of the fitting room with more artsy, funky outfits, women began to notice and ask where I got all this fabulous stuff. I told them, of course; I have no need to keep a good thing secret. Since my last beloved baggy-clothing store, CP Shades, shut down, I certainly want to send OMG as much business as I can so I don’t lose another manufacturer that I love.

This past Sunday I decided to throw on some of the new clothes and shoot some photos; but pictures of me just standing around in outfits isn’t of much use to me beyond this blog, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do some jumping shots I could have more fun with. Little did I know how fabulous these clothes would be when they are in motion! Sure, I knew they were made to move and flow, but they created such amazing shapes I almost jumped myself to exhaustion playing around with it all. If you’ve followed my blog or Flickr page at all, you know how much I love using fabric in my movement photos to create interesting shapes, but most of the things I wear in those photos aren’t things I’d be caught dead in day to day. With OMG I have finally found a clothing line that works wonderfully in jump shots but that can also be worn out of the house! Heavenly.

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Yep – right after the shutter snapped that shoe hit the ceiling

Those pants are called the Ida pant and they are a new style to the store. I about died when I saw these, as I’d seen pants like them all over the Lagenlook boards I’ve been following on Pinterest, but as I mentioned last time, usually this stuff is pretty expensive. The Ida pant is only $63, though, so they were really affordable. They are amazing, and in spite of their general craziness they look great on; not bizarre at all, just interesting, and almost like a skirt if you don’t look closely at them. Comfortable and fun and no one else I know is going to have a pair of these. Moving on.

The top is called Vanna and I have two of them; as I mentioned earlier, OMG’s tops can often be big on me, and even when altered their slouchiness can weigh me down and make me look like I’m drowning in clothes, so a top like this is perfect for me. A flowier top balances my skinny torso out with my bigger hips, and this one with the cropped length gives me a waistline. It’s also very easy to wear; like most of OMG it’s a throw-it-on-and-go affair.

Some of their items, though, are not so convenient:

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PS – I had NO makeup on during this shoot as I’d spent the whole day in the pool, so I thought some funky glasses would detract from that. Not sure if it did or not.

OK, this is another new piece from them called Jeane; they call it a dress but it’s actually more like harem-pant overalls. Some of you know how much I love overalls and have been lamenting their lack of cool-factor since the 90’s, so a combination harem pant and overall seemed to be a slam dunk for me. However, the entire jumper is resting on those tiny little straps, which are basically shoestrings that tie in the back, and they are not up to the job, in my opinion. First of all, I despise anything that ties in the back (bathing suits come to mind; I love the look of a halter-style bathing suit top but they almost ALL tie at the neck and I just can’t stand that. And yes, I’ve been looking at a lot of bathing suits lately, too) and secondly, those skinny little straps don’t feel resilient to me at all. Plus, the first time I washed this one of the straps came ‘unthreaded’ (not sure what else to call it) and I had to use tweezers to force it back through, so they are not secure at all. I started to send this one back, but then I took these photos and realized how amazing the whole thing is, so I took it to the tailor and asked her to replace the shoestrings with something more sturdy that I would not have to tie. I don’t think I can get the straps in the same green, but I told her black would also be fine.

See what I mean, though, about the pictures proving that I really need to keep this piece? It takes some amazing photos – only one of which I’ve had time to edit (trust me there’s more):

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My eyes went really wonky in this shot, so I ended up actually copying the left one and pasting it over the right one, then flipping it horizontally. I still look weird here, but not nearly as weird as I did before. Sorryboutit.

The shoe match here was great; those are from Urban Outfitters and are always on sale two for $20. I have a ton of them and find uses for them all the time, aside from photos (I learned long ago that bare feet are not the business for jumping shots unless you have pretty ones and can point your toes well; shoes make for a more flattering photo without the distracting dragon toes or, in my case, super-long skinny feet that look awkward). This was one piece people at the tailor’s place today were really freaking over how cute it is. Really unique; I just hope she can fix the straps to make it more manageable.

And while I’m thinking about it, I want to link here to another fabulous clothing discovery I recently made: Sleevey Wonders. I’ve always hated having to wear full-length tops under sleeveless dresses and things, but I also am not a big fan of sleeveless things (I just like being more covered than not; I’m not modest, I just think covered arms are prettier). Sleevey Wonders give you, well, sleeves, without the bulky top attached. Brilliant! They aren’t cheap, but for me they’re worth it. So far I have a blue mesh one and a white jersey, and I’m going to be picking up an ivory one soon. I wear the two I already have all the time – including in the pictures above. Moving on.

Now this next item is also unusual, and I was uncertain whether or not I’d like it, but in the end I’m glad I tried it out:

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This is a color I’d generally never wear, but OMG is having a sale of discontinued colors right now that’s up to 50% off, and I couldn’t bring myself to buy this in a more wearable color (for me, anyway) and pay twice as much. So, chartreuse it is. I paired it with a pair of Chico’s Black Label satin cargo pants and a long-sleeved tee from Ann Taylor Loft, and bingo – I really like this look. It’s especially nice how well all this stuff goes with so much of what’s already in my closet – it’s not my first time at the artsy-flowy-fashions rodeo, people. Remember my Free People obsession of about a year ago? Most of what I bought from there works great with this stuff too, so my wardrobe has literally doubled over the past three weeks. It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s all good. This can also be worn on it’s own as a dress, by the way.

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Also good for leapin’ – YEP!

Speaking of overwhelming, I had to quit editing outfit shots after these last two, but believe me, there’s more where this came from.

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The hair is Laine by Rene of Paris, by the way

The top here is called Lynn, and it’s a narrower cut that didn’t require alterations for me. They also make a short-sleeved version of this called Grace that is great under other things. The whole line has some really interesting hemlines – there’s lots of angles and asymmetry that makes layering really eye-catching. The pants are pretty fabulous – they’re called the Osprey and I kept resisting buying them, because the price was around $85 and I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much when the sale pants were around $30 – finally they also went on sale and I snatched up two pair (in this color, called Fig, and also in Bone). I will say these pants looked AWFUL right out of the box, and I thought I’d made a mistake until I washed and dried them and they fell into place. The shoes, by the way, are another pointy-toed flat slide from Free People that I bought recently – so comfy and so unique with the shiny fabric. Love them.

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Simon is also impressed

I have a lot of really fantastic jumping shots to process later, and more outfits for a future post, but I did want to go ahead and show off some of this stuff now. I think I’ve calmed down on the purchasing for awhile, but I definitely plan to go back often and add to my collection when I can. Dressing has been so much fun the past few weeks, and I think you can see why – this stuff was made for me. And comfy, and easy to clean (machine wash and dry), and affordable! Love.

I’ve also got some self-portraits to share that I’ve edited recently, but I’ll upload those later. For now, enjoy the rest of the week, and I hope you have as much fun getting out of bed and putting on clothes as I do!

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Blogenlook

OK, that title is gonna seem so awesome in a second, I swear.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve become obsessed with a certain designer and it’s where my money’s been going the past few weeks. I want to talk about it here since it’s on my mind at the moment, but I’m going to have to do it without sharing any pictures of myself in the new clothes I’ve acquired. Bummer, but I haven’t had time to take photos yet – I will do so soon and share a few outfits in another post in the near future, I promise! Moving on.

It’s not so much a designer I’ve become enchanted by as it is a manufacturer, I think – and the manufacturer relates to a certain “look” I discovered a few weeks ago called Lagenlook, which is German for “layered look.” How I discovered it was rather random, as these things often are; my husband and I got into an HBO show called “Grace and Frankie,” which stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston. The show can be twee and sitcom-y. but come on, how often do you get to see a sitcom with awesome 70-year-old actors in the starring roles? I’ll take the twee since it comes with the awesome, and fortunately Doug agreed. We had fun binge-watching Season 1, and I became obsessed with Lily Tomlin’s attire as the hippie-dippy Frankie.

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OMG I WANT THAT SWEATER. AND THAT NECKLACE. And also, GREAT wig. 

Some of her outfits were too crunchy and bizarre for me, but more often than not she was trouncing around (stoned, usually) in stuff I just loved. Then one night Frankie wore this awesome, bubble-hemmed pinafore-style linen funky number, with some baggy pants underneath it, and a blue mesh long-sleeved top underneath all that, and I finally just said to myself, that’s it. I have to find out where she’s getting all this cool stuff. I went on a Google search to find out (and yeah, I was bummed when I asked my husband which of these two women I’d be when I was in my seventies, and he said, “duh, Jane Fonda.” Which personality-wise, is totally true, because there’s no way I’d ever take peyote or smoke dope and meditate my blues away and Fonda’s character is the one that wants everything to be exactly like she wants it or she gets pissed off, so yeah. But I don’t want Grace’s wardrobe – although holy hell Fonda looks freaking AMAZING) .

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Hee hee – okay, not this so much

Frankie’s style on the show reminded me so much of another company with clothes I used to love called CP Shades. I’m not sure how I discovered them, but soon after I did they made up my entire wardrobe. Their stuff was mostly washable linen, with some rayon thrown in here and there and velvet during the holiday season, and it was all big, loose, flowy, and very relaxed. And, it was pretty expensive. Back in the early 2000’s, when I discovered them and started wearing their stuff, $98 was a hell of a lot for a pair of pants; even though I’d still rather not pay that much for them now, it certainly isn’t as unheard of to me as it was back then. But still, I’d suck it up and pay because I loved them so freaking much, and their clothing was well-made and would last forever (and was also made in the USA at their own factory in CA). They’d have huge sales twice a year where everything in the one store that existed in Houston would be, like, twenty-five bucks, and me and everyone else in the city, it seemed, would line up outside at five in the morning and wait to rush the store as soon as the doors opened so we could all stock up.

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Ads from the 90’s, I think

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Now, the one little store my city had was in the richest area of town (River Oaks, you know – where they filmed Terms of Endearment, and where the notorious murderer Robert Durst lived), and it was generally a slightly older clientele than my age at the time  (I’ll never forget the time I was trying things on at the same time a woman in her late 60’s was in there buying a TON of linen items, all in white, and when I asked her if she didn’t get nervous wearing all that white clothing, she responded ‘oh no, I just wear all this when I garden. That way when it gets dirty I can throw it in the wash with some bleach and I’m good to go.’ We’re talking at least five or six hundred dollars worth of clothes she was buying – to wear while she worked in the dirt in her backyard! I was duly impressed). I was in my early thirties, and I was generally about 10 years younger than most of the women spending money in that store – but I didn’t care. Well, I cared about the high price point, but about the fact that most of the women buying these clothes were a little older than me, I didn’t care about that at all. Because I was in clothing heaven. It was all so comfy, and it was all long and oversized, and it all FLOWED. Anyone who’s seen my photos knows how obsessed I am with long, flowy fabrics and fluid shapes, and CP Shades had that in spades.

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Sadly though, the company, I suppose, had overextended themselves, and the downturn the economy took after 9/11 did them in. They managed to stay open until about 2004 or ’05, when they shut down all but their original stores in California and even – much to my dismay – shut down their online site where I could buy online. For the next few years I could find stuff on eBay, but eventually that dwindled down to nothing, and I did my best to forget they ever existed since it was impossible to get their stuff for quite awhile. I never did totally quit looking for them online, but over the years their styles have changed quite a bit, and their prices have gone even higher, so they’re no longer making anything I want to wear or pay for even when I do find a site online carrying their new stuff. It’s mostly plaid button-ups now, from what I’ve seen, instead of the lovely kurta tops and tunics they used to sell.

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You can’t really see it here, but she has on this blue dress that’s amazing, with a longer black and white striped skirt underneath. So cool.

Fast-forward to Grace and Frankie. I found exactly one online interview with the costume designer for the show, and she threw out a couple of names as references for Frankie’s style. I looked those names up, and although they were all very obscure European designers with astronomical prices, somehow I eventually drilled down to a very affordable option – a store called Oh My Gauze, which specializes in, you guessed it, gauze clothing. And, the prices were really affordable. Oh joy! They even had a sale going on when I found them, and so I bought a ton of stuff for around $30 per piece, on average. I don’t think the photos on their website really do their clothing justice – they’re small and awkward and not put together to show entire outfits as much as individual pieces, which doesn’t give the right effect – but there are lots of other photos out there that show them off nicely:

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I bought this dress in brown

I also discovered the term Lagenlook, which I’ve used to start up a Pinterest board where I’ve collected some of my favorite photos so far; as you can see, when they say it’s a “layered look,” they mean it – pants under dresses, shirts under other shirts, long-ass vests over long-ass skirts – and yeah, I know. It’s kinda crazy, and borderline weird, and possibly frumpy, and WAY too much if not done properly. When I wore this stuff back in my CP Shades days, there were some people who hated it terribly, and thought that I was dressing “old.” This is a style that is usually called “artsy,” and I guess it’s associated with women of “a certain age,” but I’ve never given a damn about that and I’m not likely to start now. I freaking love this stuff, and I’m thrilled to see and know that it’s an actual style with a name and everything.  Besides, I’m probably the age now that those “older” women were back when I shopped at CP Shades anyway. Believe it or not, I actually think it’s all quite lovely. It’s definitely more common in Europe than in the states, but I was always able to pull it off fairly well, and even now I’ve gotten compliments on what I’ve worn so far. I do have to be careful not to take it to the level of costume, but I’m a pretty good self-editor when it comes to clothing, and I think for the most part I can pull it off like I did before. The dresses are my biggest love right now – which is interesting, since I generally do not wear dresses at all, and stick to straight-leg jeans or pants. But I find these dresses so unique and interesting and yes, pretty, that I can’t get enough of them right now. Even if they keep throwing pants under them in the pictures.

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As I said, I just started getting my stuff in the mail, and I am still trying to figure it all out as far as how it’s best for me to wear, and what works best on my frame, but I do want to take some of my own photos eventually. And that last photo was just posted on OMG’s Facebook page a few days ago, as a new style dress they don’t even have up for sale on the site yet, and it’s called – this has to be a sign – the Planet Cynthia Dress, so yeah, More purchases are coming for me soon.

Stitch Fix Quick Pics: May

How long have I been using Stitch Fix now? I think it’s been about a year. At first, I went back and forth over keeping my service or cancelling it, but they’ve really been sending me some great stuff the past few months, and it’s become my primary way of buying clothes now since I don’t shop nearly as much as I used to (in stores, that is – let’s not kid ourselves I’ve stopped shopping completely).

While my room was set up for photos the other day when I took a bunch of macro florals (I’ll show those in a separate post later) I threw on some of the stuff I’ve gotten from them recently to share here. Keep in mind I didn’t edit these shots except to process them from RAW to JPEG, so they’re not up to my usual standard, but it seems fair to do them that way since it shows the clothes themselves in the closest representation to what they look IRL, rather than adding all my usual bells and whistles. My mug is also SOOC which bugs me a little, but hey, I am willing to suffer for you, people. Oh, and while I was at it, I put on some of my new wigs to change things up in the pics. So here we go.

First up is the Minna Crew Neck Top:

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Minna Crew Neck Top; Gap Authentic Boyfriend jeans; Seville by Noriko wig in Banana Split-LR

The shirt is more orange than it came out in the photo; it’s a true orange and white print, not red-orange. As with pretty much everything SF sends me, I took this out of the box and thought oh HAIL no and started to shove it back in there, but then remembered that I needed to try everything on since those nice people went to all the trouble of packing this stuff up for me and I should least put it on once before casting it off the island. Besides which, I never like anything SF sends me right out of the box, but usually find that I do once I get it on – and this top was another example of that phenomenon. The solid orange sleeves and shirttail are a stretchy jersey knit, which you know I am always a sucker for, and the printed front and back panel are some sort of silky polyester – which usually bugs me as I don’t find it comfortable, but it worked OK here since it was just the bodice and not the whole top. I got it in an extra small, so it was a touch tight in the armpit and chest areas, but not so much that it wasn’t wearable (just a little difficult to get off and on) and it looked great. Put this one down into my ever-growing pile of Stuff I Got From Stitch Fix That I Never Would Have Bought On My Own But Really Like Anyway, because I’ve already worn this top twice and I just got it five days ago. Moving on.

Next up is the Analisse Anorak Jacket:

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Analisse Anorak Jacket; Under Skies shell (also from a Fix I got it a long time ago); Destroyed Wash Straight Leg jeans from Ann Taylor Loft; necklace from Free People; Oprah Wig by Mica for Jessica Lin in Color 6

This jacket came from April’s shipment, but since it was clean and hanging in my closet I decided to show it anyway (I also got a really cute crochet sweater from April’s box that was in the dry clean hamper, so I didn’t show that one). This is a very light rayon jacket that is easy to carry around and throw on when needed; my only complaint is it has all these various ties and zippers and snaps that get annoying and aren’t particularly useful. I never see the point in this MacGuyver-style clothing that can be added to or taken away or converted at random. I get that camping and hiking-style wear has need for all that stuff; but when it’s a faux-outdoors jacket like this one I feel like we’d all be better off if the manufacturer didn’t play like we’re ever going to take this thing camping and leave all the shenanigans alone. I actually cut the waist tie from this one (which could  be used to cinch the waist but I would never wear a jacket that way and the ties were so long it would just come untied every five seconds anyway) and am considering cutting out the one at the bottom because it’s long also and is always banging around my knees – and again, why do I need to cinch the bottom of the jacket, exactly? Exactly. Aside from that ramble, this is nice and light and goes with everything. Love it.

Here’s two pieces put together – the Adam Crochet Detail Top and the Mea Lace Skirt:

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Adam Crochet Detail Top; Mea Lace Skirt; Lucky Brand Fairwayy Sandal (not a typo); Caitlyn wig by Rene of Paris in Coffee Latte

First of all, yes I am over-posing there which makes me look like I’ve twisted my body in some weird way, but whatever. The skirt may be lacy but it’s still casual in style and very comfortable, and an over-the-knee length which means I will actually wear it. I like to have at least a few items like this on-hand that can be dressed up on those very few occasions where I need to do so, but this can also be worn quite casually which is nice. The top was only kept because it goes nicely with the skirt; it’s cute enough but a bit fussy for me, and the cotton fabric isn’t soft or stretchy at all and requires (gasp) ironing, which to me is synonymous with dry-cleaning. It’s also pretty transparent, so although for the photos I didn’t require a cami underneath IRL I will – and there’s this lace panel in the back that hits right where my bra strap would show so that’s another reason a cami is needed. However, it is a cute top and it wasn’t too expensive, and I love me some white tops I can throw on with anything when in a hurry, so it stayed. The sleeves are also a nice touch with the elastic that gives a cute pouf to their 3/4 length.

Oooooh guys, I really love this next one – it’s the Char Geo Print Maxi Skirt:

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Char Geo Print Maxi Skirt; Sweater from Ann Taylor Loft; Braided Circle Scarf Necklace from Nordstrom; barely visible Dayna Point Flat from Free People; Amanda wig by Jon Renau

I got the skirt in my April shipment, and when I saw online that I was getting something called a “geo print” skirt I recoiled in horror. Not exactly my style. But the print is small, and the colors are lovely and spring-y (mint green, soft tangerine, navy blue and white) and it has enough of an A-line that I can actually wear this even though the material is clingy (jersey knit maxi skirts are usually a problem for me). I’ve worn the hell out of this since I got it, although when looking over my photos I realized that the point-toed flats I like to wear with it don’t look nearly as good as I thought they did, since the skirt’s so long all you see are these two little pointy witch feet poking out, and it’s odd. As Cher Horowitz says, always take a photo of your outfits, people, you’d be surprised what you find when you do.

Last but not least is a dress I almost didn’t keep, but my  husband commented that it was pretty, so I changed my mind. My face looked really goofy in this shot and I wasn’t willing to put out the effort it would have taken to photoshop a different head onto my body, so I just cut it off instead. Moving on – it’s the Briar Printed Maxi Dress:

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The color is also reading green here for some reason; the bodice is a true gray and the paisley print is far more green than the light blue it appears, sorryboutit.  The cut on this one is pretty narrow, but I guess my recent weight loss has been significant enough in the hip/thighs that I can actually pull this off. It is a jersey knit (score!) and super-comfortable, and this is another one I started wearing right away.

Now – here’s my one complaint about my recent shipments that I have to mention. Guess what else came in May’s box that I didn’t take photos of or keep? Say it with me people – FREAKING SKINNY JEANS. I have received a pair of skinny jeans at least three more times since begging Stitch Fix to quit sending them to me, and every time they do I have to send them back and miss out on the 25% discount. I am starting to think they are doing it on purpose just to mess with me. Once again I left comments online when checking out, repeating my request to stop receiving them, but so far my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The ones they sent me were a color other than black at least, I’ll give them that after they sent black ones 2 or 3 shipments in a row, but the color was hardly unique – a light faded denim. Plus, they were $160, the most expensive item in my box by far. They fit nicely and were comfortable, but of course I sent those suckers back. So, once again no 25% discount for me since I couldn’t keep the entire Fix. Sigh.

All in all, though, a successful shipment. I continue to wear most of the pieces from SF regularly (except the fabulous jeans I got a year ago that are now way too big), and they’ve certainly been sending me fun boxes of stuff. So, the subscription continues. Now if I can just get them to STOP WITH THE SKINNY JEANS I’ll be all set.

Oh, and if you liked this review and want to sign up for the service, consider using this link so i get credit for it. Until next time!

Stitch Fix Pics!

I got my latest Stitch Fix today and decided to take more detailed pics of the shipment so you could get an idea of what to expect if you ever sign up.

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It’s a box – YEP.

There’s something about getting these shipments that’s just fun, like getting a birthday present every month – even if you’re someone who already has enough clothes as it is. They do have a nice presentation:

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Your  box has five items, as I mentioned last time, and the items are geared to preferences you specify when you fill out a profile on the Stitch Fix website. Your selections are also made based on feedback you give the company after you receive a “fix” and tell them what you liked and didn’t like about what you received. Since this is my third shipment, the choices have gotten pretty decent.

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Since I also have a close friend with a Stitch Fix profile, we’ve noticed we get the same items in our packages from time to time, but paired with different wardrobe suggestions to better match our profiles (our styles are completely different). This is one way they get more mileage out of the idea of a “fix” consisting of only five items; they make suggestions about how to wear each piece. I pretty much ignore this part of the shipment, but again, it’s a great way to present the clothing:

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You try on the items, pick what you want to keep, then stick everything else into a prepaid shipping bag and drop it off at the nearest USPS mailbox; easy-peasy. If you keep everything, you get 25% off the entire order. There’s a $20 stylist fee for each fix, but you only get charged for that if you send the whole shipment back. If you keep even just one thing, you get to deduct the $20 from the total.

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I even took a pic of the shipping bag; I am nothing if not thorough

As I mentioned last time, you can choose a budget for your shipments so the prices are within a comfortable range for your pocketbook. I started out with a low range and didn’t care for the pieces I received, so I upped it and was much happier with the second batch of clothes. My second fix was around $375 if I kept the whole thing (which I didn’t), this one was considerably lower at $219 (that’s with the 25% discount for keeping it all). Not sure why there was such a difference,  but I get the feeling Stitch Fix’s stock isn’t all that varied (as I said my friend and I are getting a lot of the same stuff in our boxes, just presented with different outfit ideas and often in different colors) so I guess they just do the best they can when it’s time to send your box out (you can be on a set schedule or request fixes at random times – I choose to get them monthly).

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I’d actually requested no more jewelry after what I got in the first shipment (it was a really cheap-looking necklace), but as you can see, one showed up again. I chalk this up, again, to being a bit limited on what they can ship. I have no proof of that, it’s just my suspicion. Coming up with five things once a month can get difficult if you can’t throw a necklace in there every once in awhile. I ended up liking this one anyway, so I kept it.

I also kept the black pants they shipped me; they’re called the Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser, and they have a strange feel to them, almost like ski pants. But even though they’re basically a stretch pant or legging in a thicker material, they’re actually kind of flattering, and I like them. The silk shell here (called the Lydie Crochet Detail Split Neck Silk Blouse) is the one thing I didn’t care for, but if I sent it back I’d lose my 25% off and the total for the items I kept would come to $214; by keeping it and getting the 25% the total came to $219. For only $5 difference in price, I figured I’d go ahead and keep it, see if I ever end up wearing it, or if not just give it someone else. I’m actually not a fan of wearing silk, though, so probably it  will end up in someone else’s closet eventually (and yes, I know I’m making some silly poses here, but accentuating the positives and de-emphasizing the negatives of one’s body for full-length portraits is a bit of a silly art, one I’ve perfected to the best of my ability even if it is a bit ridiculous):

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The shoes are new too but are not from Stitch Fix. They don’t sell shoes.

Up next is a fabulous vest with an aztec print that I love. It’s called the Ashlie Graphic Knit Sleeveless Cardigan, and I admit I was excited about this item before I even opened the box. I’ve learned that as soon as your “fix” ships, you can go the website, check your profile, and see the receipt for all the items in the shipment. Then you can go to Google and type in the item names and find some of them. I found a lot of other bloggers who reported getting this piece in their shipments, so I knew what it was going to look like. But it’s even better in person. I’m also wearing the Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace here, and one of my own t-shirts. The shoes are the Hopewell moccasins I got from Free People a while back and mentioned in a previous post.

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Had to make this outfit twirl a little

OK I had to throw this next outfit in here even though only the pants & necklace are from Stitch Fix. I wanted to show my fabulous new moto jacket, which is from Ann Taylor Loft of all places. Also, if you like that t-shirt, it’s called the Lani California Tunic; it’s nice and long and A-line and has a hi-lo effect that keeps it from being boring. I got it at a little local boutique, then decided I wanted more of them and found a few places online to buy them – you can find it here or here.

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Pardon the goofy pose; who knows how I end up standing the way I do

As you can see, I’m going to get a lot of wear out of these pants even though I never would have tried them out on my own. I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s one of the things I like about Stitch Fix – that the process motivates me to try things I end up liking but never would have given a second glance in a store.

The shirt in this next one is from Stitch Fix; it’s called the Danes Ribbon Trim Tie Neck Top. The jeans were also from Ann Taylor Loft ( I can’t find them on their website anymore or I’d link them), and interestingly are some I normally would have ignored but tried on for the hell of it and ended up liking:

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I’d like the jeans better if they were a darker wash, but they only came in this color and white (I bought the white too). The top is fabulous, and pretty much made for me. I’m not thrilled with the fabric, which isn’t as soft as I’d like, but overall it’s cute as hell and I love it.

Since I was taking photos, I decided to throw a leap into the mix. And while I was at it, I added my new purse into the shot (it’s a Coach I got on sale at Dillard’s last week – yeah, I’ve been shopping a lot lately. I think it’s all the home-repair stress):

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I was too lazy to move furniture out of the way and roll out the backdrop, by the way, but hey, you can see the new carpet. It’s great to jump on. And yes, that’s a random dog toy or two at my feet. At least you know we keep them entertained.

Anyway, that’s the entire fix, and as I already said, I’m keeping the whole thing. I’ve got three days from receipt of the shipment to pay for it, and the opportunity to give more feedback when I do so the stylists can tailor my next shipment accordingly. Not sure why I felt the need to write about this process again, and am less sure why any of you should be interested in reading it, but here it is anyway!

Glitterbug

I woke up this morning determined to take pics with my new black backdrop, but the truth is I felt inspired by nothing. I’m tired of my costumes, tired of doing my makeup, and tired of posing for portraits and jump shots and whatever else I might pose for. In short, I am tired of myself. Along with learning Photoshop for reals, it is most likely time for me to start working with other models, so I can actualize some of the photographic visions I have in my head that involve locations other than my little studio. I want to be solely behind the camera, and process shots of people other than myself for awhile (by the way, I had some sort of allergy explosion tonight and I am hopped up on Benadryl, so this won’t be the most well-written post I’ve ever created. Sorry).

I have no idea yet how to go about all of this, so this morning I dragged myself to the grocery store to get the week’s shopping done, fully intending to come back home, suit up, and show up for photos even if I was frustrated and bored by the whole prospect. I don’t mind telling you, I was pretty grouchy about all this. I’ve been through it with other art forms as well, but the truth is that trying to create when one is out of inspiration is the pits. But I was determined to keep on shooting.

Then, on the way to grocery store, my best friend called and asked if I wanted to go shopping, and I jumped at the opportunity. She’s my best shopping partner, and I knew going out with her for a day would be way more enjoyable than shooting yet more photos of myself (oh how times have changed, a year ago I would have blown off leaving the house to get more pictures). So, I turned the car around, told my husband I’d get the groceries later, and got dressed to meet her up at the Galleria. Turned out to be the right choice.

We shopped, we ate a fabulous lunch, I picked up some makeup and a few bits and pieces here and there – then on the way out of Nordstrom I spied this, and just had to try it on:

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It was a size medium and a bit too big, and it was wicked hot, but it was on sale for $43 and my friend talked me into buying it when I initially decided to put it back. I’m really glad she did, because it is kinda fabulous in a hideous sort of way (and no, there were no birds or other animals harmed during the making of this jacket – it’s fake). The jacket inspired me to take some photos when I got home, but it was about 3:30 before I got the chance to get started, so I quickly slapped on a ton of this white glitter pigment I bought at MAC years ago and barely ever wear, and slopped on a ton of sparkly eye shadow to complete the “look.”

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The end result of the makeup was weird, and the shoot was fairly frustrating. As I said, that jacket is ridiculously warm, and it was about 70 degrees today where I live, plus my husband in his middle-agedness has decided the house needs to be perpetually 80 degrees. And from what I could tell through my LCD screen, the shots weren’t coming out so hot anyway, but I played around with lighting to get a decent effect out of all that glitter. When processing, I realized a lot of them were pretty cool, but I tried to stick to just a few to process.

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I ended up using a silver reflector and a remote Speedlite off to the side to get a more glittery effect, and the result of that is a lot of shadows I am not used to for portraits, but I forced myself to live with it so I could get some good contrast in the shots.

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Usually that much shadow around the eyes would make me crazy, but I decided to go with it when processing. This hasn’t deterred me from my new plan of enlisting friends as models and venturing out of doors for shoots, but at least I got some use out of my new jacket, and some new photos for the week. Plus I got to test out the new black muslin, which was OK, but I found it shows wrinkles more than the white one I used for so long and finally took down (I edited them out the shots by darkening the background). At least I don’t have the white balance issues with this one, where the backdrop turns out a different tint in every shot. Black is pretty much going to be black every time, so that’s reliable. And I do think it gives shots a much more dramatic feel.

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I think my next backdrop should be gray, though, to get a happy medium. Black does some pretty harsh things to my lights, although adding silver reflectors, which I don’t normally use, probably messed with me some too.

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I wanted to try some black and whites with the makeup, since I thought all that glitter would make a B&W look really intense and grainy. It did, but in general taking out the color made the photo boring anyway. I think that’s because the black background and my reddish-brown wig together so exactly mimicked the colors in the jacket that it appealed to me. But here’s one I decided to go ahead and transform into black and white:

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Overall, not bad for shots I didn’t really want to take or enjoy taking. I think this last one is my favorite of the bunch:

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No-Snow Day Part 1

More sleet and snow was expected today, so school was canceled, then none came. Our city is going to have to figure out a better way to deal with this weather if it keeps happening like this, or we are all going to become terribly unproductive.

Well, not me – at least not as far as photography is concerned. Last night I came across a book about portrait photography by Natalie Dybisz, who got her start uploading photos to good old Flickr. I bought her first book, and  found it interesting even though her self-portraits and mine don’t have much in common. Hers are much more representative of real self-portraiture with her emphasis on sets, props, and location; as I’ve mentioned here many times, I’m more aligned with fashion photography than the self-portrait kind.

Dybisz actually works with models too, but her work always incorporates interesting environments and unique lighting, as well as some killer Photoshop skills I can still only dream of possessing. Her new book also highlights several other self-portrait photographers, all of whom have radically different styles and processes; I love reading about how other artists work and get inspired, as it generally makes me feel less like a freak for working the way I do. There are as many types of photographic processes as there are photographers, and every once in awhile I need to be reminded of that.

I knew since today was an off day that I wanted to do some more artistic shooting, so reading this book last night generated some good ideas for me to work with. I was determined to start early and not spend the entire day working on photos, but of course I failed at that. I finished up the shoot fairly early as I didn’t take nearly as many shots as I usually do (mostly because the shots I was going for were so specific that there wasn’t a lot more posing to do once I got what I was wanting) but then of course I spent the entire rest of the day editing obsessively. Whatever. I am happy with the results, so I’ll consider it worth it.

I took two very different types of photos today, so I want to share them in two separate posts. Problem is, I like both sets so much I can’t really decide which ones to share here first. I guess I’ll go with the straight-up self-portrait shots, then share the arty ones tomorrow, So here goes:

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Taken with my 85mm

OK, so that shot isn’t all that different from what I’ve done before,  but I did take a few snaps of the makeup before hitting the set, just because I always do. To speed things along, I kept the makeup very simple; I modeled this after a picture of January Jones at the Met Ball last year (scroll down), when the theme was punk (I think). It’s just a lot of heavy eyeliner and really not much else, so I went with that because I knew I could do it quickly and get on with the shooting. And no, I didn’t pull off her eyeliner look well at all, but I got the basic idea. The wig is a fabulous asymmetrical one called Tulip – it only cost $13.95 and it is amazing, It also went well with the punk makeup I had going.

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Self Portrait with Hammer Pants

So there it is – my first ‘real’ self-portrait. I wasn’t brave enough to go venturing outside or anything (plus it was cold), but I tried to squeeze into my limited space some things that represent me, at least in a humorous way. There’s no deep meaning or anything here, in fact, I centered the entire set around that fab t-shirt I got from ModCloth, then made sure to get my mirror in there as a tongue-in-cheek reference to my own vanity, and dragged a bunch of my fashion props out of the old hat box I use to store them. The clothes thrown on the chair represent, well, the fact that I am a slob who always has clothes thrown over a chair somewhere, and those Uggs are actually my house shoes. The trickiest part was getting my reflection right in the mirror so it showed up in the shot; took about eight tries to get this right, and this was the last shot of the eight.

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What I really like about this one is that you can see my laptop in the mirror, where I have another photo of me pulled up in Photoshop (it’s actually the portrait I shared at the beginning of this post; I was working on editing it while taking these shots). My glasses are tossed on the floor here, since I always have them thrown on the floor somewhere during a shoot. The bunny ears are fuzzy and I like them, so there you go. Also decided to hang one of my fuzzy sweaters over the chair, because I love fuzzy things. And yes, white balance was a bitch once again, and each of these shots is a slightly different tone. To hell with it, that’s something I can’t ever get consistently right.

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Of course I had to jump in one of the shots. I also had to crop the hell out of these; I barely had enough room in my little studio to get everything into the frame, without having to go beyond the boundaries of the white backdrop. I considered at one time just letting the edges of the backdrop show, as well as the edge of my clothes closet and the bookshelf full of old workout equipment, but in the end, that was too much reality for me even when trying to be so representative, so I cropped it all out.

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Finally got the white balance right with this one

All in all, I’m pleased with how these shots turned out. Nothing like what I usually do, and I expected to be completely disappointed with them, but they did what I wanted them to do, and they weren’t hard to set up or edit. So, something different, but kinda fun – tomorrow, on to the arty-ness!

Oh, and I also spent some more time on Polyvore this morning, but the looks I created were more for myself than for sharing – they weren’t all that exciting, but they did serve to compile some of the stuff in my closet into outfits I can remind myself to wear later (mostly for my two fuzzy sweaters, actually – they are fabulous to look at, but they have kind of a frumpy shape, and I’ve been struggling to figure out how to wear them). I did not make a Polyvore set for the gold hammer pants, however. Let me figure out how to wear the fuzzy sweaters before I take those suckers on.

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Sorry about the title, couldn’t help myself.

Have played around a bit more with Polyvore – I’m using it to put together looks out of what I already have and save them somewhere I can peruse them later, instead of constantly buying new stuff and never knowing what to do with it all. The program forces me to think of all the items I already own and how I can utilize them all instead of just thinking I need to buy the next new thing I come across on the internet when browsing around.

Anyway, another winter weather off-day today, so I’m up early (for me – about 8 AM) and am going to experiment with some arty photos. I’m going to try some new things so who knows if any of it will turn out. This is why I don’t always like trying new things – the results are never guaranteed and are sometimes disappointing, but I have to push through that or else I just stagnate, doing the same predictable stuff I’ve already learned how to do. So, we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, here’s a Polyvore of some ideas I pulled together Sunday night for a pair of rust-colored jeans I never quite knew how to wear before. When I made it, I found articles of clothing that closely resembled pieces I already owned, so that I could actually take each of these looks and re-create it out of my own closet. Guess which one of the three I wore Monday in the comments! Get it right, and win absolutely nothing!

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Mint and Tulle

I had this long post written about free time, photography, cheap shots (as in pictures/shots), and whatnot, but then this morning something happened – I discovered Polyvore.

I’ve heard of Polyvore, of course, through Pinterest most of all. People are constantly posting cute outfits from that site on their boards and I end up pinning a lot of them. But I never investigated who is making all those outfit images until today. Sure enough, you just open up an account and start creating outfits to save and share. Oh dear.

I actually made one using a dress I already own; I was thinking about how to wear it in colder weather and searching for ideas on how to wear tulle in winter – that’s what got me started in the first place. I found a few cute ideas I wanted to pin, then thought wait a minute, people are making these outfits on the internet somehow – let me take a few minutes to try and find out how to do them myself. And about fifteen minutes later, I’d made my first “set.”

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One of the main reasons I use Pinterest is to give myself outfit ideas to glance over when it’s time to hurry  up and get dressed already, and now I can do this without even having to try everything on first (although trying it all on is always better). Everything except the earrings (obviously, since I don’t wear them), bracelet, and purse I already own, at least some variation of it, so this is just one more way to plan and put things together without the drudgery that sometimes occurs when trying lots of items on. The dress I was able to search for by name, since I just bought it, and sure enough the site pulled the actual dress right up. Then I searched for a mint cardigan, because I already own one, brown tall boots (none of them that came up exactly match the ones I have, but these are close) and so on for the accessories.

So I’ll post today’s update tomorrow, and leave you with this for now. I am off to force myself to go to the grocery store instead of staying on Polyvore all day long…but it’s going to be difficult. With any luck, my fab outfits will take Pinterest by storm. We’ll see.

Day Off Shots

Since we had the day off due to the early freeze, I threw on some clothes and took photos for the afternoon. And yes, I know I said I was going to lay off taking pictures for awhile because I’m so backlogged, but I lied. Anyway, I actually have to go to work on Saturday as it’s the big placement test day, so the school will be overloaded with eighth graders and I have to be there to meet with the parents. So all in all, it was nice to have the day off today since my weekend is cut short by work responsibilities.

I thought I’d share a few new photos, even though I’ve got at least three previous sets I still haven’t processed and shared. I also tried out some new hairpieces today – what I’m wearing in these shots are two hair wraps, which are basically ponytail scrunchies made of synthetic hair. My hair is just long enough to pull into the tiniest ponytail imaginable, so on it’s own it looks rather silly, but I can wrap one of these scrunchies around my little ponytail nub and it looks rather cute. I bought this piece off Vogue Wigs; it’s called “Jolt” and only cost $7,95, but based on the recommendation of the reviewers on the site I bought two:

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I am way too old for this outfit, but I had fun wearing it anyway

I wouldn’t ever wear the scrunchies that way for real, I was just playing around with how they could be used. Unfortunately they’re a little darker than my real hair, but Doug says it isn’t noticeable. The best way to wear them is one wrapped over the other, for added fullness, like this:

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And I know that’s another really weird outfit, but as I said, I was playing around. You’ve seen that lace dress before, in a previous post; for the hell of it I decided to throw it over this great maxi dress I got from Modcloth and see how it turned out. It might have looked better over the other version of the maxi dress I bought, in black and brown:

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Then again, it might just be a bad idea to put it over either one of them, I don’t know. It seemed interesting enough in pictures.

One thing these photos made me think of was how much I dislike jewelry. I noticed when wearing my hair up tucked into the two hairpieces  that I really could use some earrings, but I hate wearing them and never do. I tried to cram some into my neglected but pierced ears for the shots with my hair up, but in the end I changed my mind because they make me uncomfortable as hell. I really don’t like rings either; about three years ago I developed an allergy to the nickel in my white-gold wedding ring, and when I went to buy another one all I had to choose from was platinum or sterling silver (due to the nickel allergy). Not liking wearing rings in general, I really couldn’t bring myself to shell out thousands on a platinum one, so I ended up picking a simple sterling silver band from Tiffany’s for $150. My friends thought I was nuts not to get  a “real” ring when Doug was  telling me to buy whatever I wanted no matter the cost, but it was honestly the only thing I liked. In fact, I adore it – it has that pretty ribbon of Tiffany’s blue running through it and it is completely unobtrusive; I forget I have it on, and I doesn’t make my skin turn red and itchy like my old diamond ring did.

To sum up this weird ramble, here’s a third way you can wear these scrunchy hair headbands:

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I think you can see it there; I just have both of them wrapped around a low ponytail. This is my favorite way to wear it, although when I started jumping in this outfit they both flew off (and yes, I do have a picture of one of them sailing off my head). As I said, it  helps cover up the tiny little ponytail I have going right now. Truth be told, I could have gotten away with just one, but since each one was only eight bucks I don’t mind owning two. Simon will probably end up finding and destroying one anyway; he greatly enjoys stealing things and running around the house with them in his mouth, then chewing on them until they’re destroyed. At least he doesn’t swallow anything, like Sprocket does.

Speaking of Simon, when I was first setting up for the shots I intended to hang this gossamer-thin backdrop I bought over the white dropcloth I still have hanging on my office wall. But in the end it was too hard for me to easily hang; it’s so light the pins wouldn’t hold, and I gave up pretty quickly (I’m quite tired of the white backdrop but have yet to buy the black one I keep intending to get). So I tossed the big old thing into a corner (it was huge) and started putting on my makeup, then later discovered Simon had made a nice little home for himself in it. Of course I have photographic evidence of this:

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Kind of sucks that this is the cutest photo of the bunch and it isn’t of me. Oh well.

Me me me

This is another post full of “me” shots – taken outside in natural light, using the 85mm to experiment with it a little more.

By the way, the wig I’m wearing in these is new, but since I’m no longer reviewing them on this blog, I’ll link to the blog where I did write a review – it’s called Real Life Wigs and is run by a friend of mine. A lot of the older information on that site is from the wig blog I used to run back in the day; Stacey took it and used her skills to create a much more comprehensive and manageable site. From time to time, I still write up reviews over there, but of course I no longer make videos of the wigs I buy. The wig I wore in these shots is called Seville by Noriko – it’s a new style, and while it is pretty, if you check out the review you can also see I have some complaints about it. Moving on.

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As I mentioned in my last post, as my attitude towards my job has improved, so has my interest in my closet. To that end, last week I opened up a second Pinterest account so I can keep track of great makeup I find and fabulous outfits I come across. I was on Pinterest a while back and couldn’t get into it; I really had nothing I wanted to pin personally and everyone I followed was constantly pinning recipes and home decorating ideas, and I think it’s been well-established here that those are two things I couldn’t give a shit less about. But what with buying all these maxi skirts and dresses over the Christmas break, I needed ideas regarding how to wear them, and every time I did a Google search for images I ended up clicking some link that led me to Pinterest, so I eventually figured what the hell and opened up another account. Now I get that the secret is not to just follow your friends, but people who are pinning what you want to see, and that pinning isn’t the key to finding Pinterest useful but following the proper boards is. So now, I am following anyone with boards about maxi skirts, drag queens, wigs, makeup, or what is known as “advanced style” (women over, say, 55 with killer fashion sense. They inspire me).

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This outfit is straight lifted from someone else’s pin on Pinterest. I got that skirt for eleven dollars while out shopping at Dillard’s for my husband’s pants. It was so cheap, I couldn’t resist, and in spite of being long and knit it fit me nicely. But when I got home, I realized I had no idea what to do with it. It was finding the pin that inspired this outfit that prompted me to sign up for Pinterest again. My board about maxi skirts is brimming with ideas already, which is of course tempting me to buy more crap.

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The chambray shirt I picked up recently from Downeast Basics, which is a site with great clothes that are often super-cheap but still well made. They are basics, as the name implies, and everything I’ve bought from there has become a staple. I think every wardrobe should have at least one chambray button-up shirt, because it goes with absolutely everything and can easily be worn jacket fashion over a cami or shell (I do not look good in button-up shirts; they’re just all wrong for me for reasons I cannot ascertain. But if I wear them open with something underneath, they’re okay).

On another note, I am really enjoying playing around with these outfit shots, but I wonder if they’re boring as hell to other people. They certainly don’t have the ‘art’ element my usual stuff does, so I get a little nervous about taking and sharing all of these. Then again, my creative life has always been my own to do with as I see fit; I’ve never answered to anyone else about what I do creatively and I don’t want to start now. I feel like this stuff is a little lame, most likely, but as I’ve always believed about creative endeavors, I think following this path of current interest is leading to something that eventually will be more interesting to others. That’s the way my art has worked out so far. It started with me wanting to take portrait photos of myself in wigs, and at first I couldn’t take full body shots at all as my cheap camera couldn’t do it. So I am going to remain true to what my heart is telling me to do even though quite honestly I’m a little embarrassed by it. I could say more about this, but I think I’ve already said it, so that’s enough of that for now. Let’s look instead at some more pics of the Space Dress:

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Told ya the dress didn’t move well when jumping

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This was not a crooked jump when I took it, but I did cut one of my hands out of the frame, so I decided to tilt the whole image and cut off both hands to make it look intentional.

In closing, if you have not seen the trailer for the documentary that coined the term “advanced style,” please check it out. These women are the shit, and they motivate me to stay fabulous (and perhaps get even more so) as I grow older. There is also a book with the same title (Advanced Style) by Ari Cohen, and a blog he runs as well. Ari moticates me as well as the women he photographs – he took a passion (older women with great style) and turned it into something unique and inspirational.