10 item wardrobe

10 Item Wardrobe Prep: Winter 2017

Sometimes I hate the 10-item wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong: having 10 core pieces (pants, sweaters, dresses, etc.) and extras (t-shirts) that look great together and fit my personal style is amazing! I can get dressed in three minutes, I always at least look presentable, and it’s really easy to pack for trips. However. When you are in the habit of saving your Christmas and birthday money and doing your major shopping in January, and three of your 10 items (two pairs of three-year-old jeans and one pair of red pants) go kaput in October, you start to look pretty shabby.

I was able to still wear my old black jeans and sub in my light-blue summer jeans from J Crew Factory, but then I realized that my t-shirts were looking pretty worn out. Then one day, I took out my APC sweater dress–purchased just two years ago–and realized that despite my special care, it had become shapeless and unflattering. What was happening?!? I basically wore my striped J Crew Factory shirts and my worn-thin black jeans for two months straight. When I wasn’t dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus.

The good new is: I went shopping today with my Mom! And, just like in Pretty Woman, I had money to spend, thanks to my weekly savings plan (I sock away a little money every week to buy the whole family clothes) and gift money. Thank you parents and in-laws!

I’m waiting on one pair of jeans to be delivered, so in the meantime, I’m going to go through last winter’s 10-item wardrobe and talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what should die in a fire. Then next week, I’ll have a shiny new post unveiling my new duds! I’m sure you’re all very excited.

10 item wardrobe

J. Crew Factory long-sleeved striped boatneck t-shirts.

If you’re a regular reader of these 10-item wardrobe posts, you recognize these shirts–they just keep going and going! Seriously, I’ve had the navy-striped one for at least three years and it shows no sign of wearing out (pro tip: I always hang these to dry). I may actually get sick of these! Definitely staying (but I really count these as extras).

10 item wardrobe

Thread & Supply blue “menswear” shirt.

I feel a little guilty looking at this one. I got it last year from my parents for my birthday while shopping with my Mom (thanks again!) but while I wore it a fair amount this summer, I totally forgot about it. Gonna have to try it on and see if it’s worthy to be one of the 10, or I may just keep it for when I need to look business-y. It’s a maybe.

10 item wardrobe

Spider-Man sweatshirt, Forever 21.

This is another item that’s still going strong! I bought it in San Diego during Comic-Con 2013, the final one I worked as an employee of Things From Another World–but not at Comic-Con, weirdly enough. Not only does this sweatshirt feature Spider-Man (its initial selling point), but it’s the perfect size and weight. Also, a great conversation starter. It’s staying!

10 item wardrobe

Halogen grey wool-blend sweater with embroidery.

I like this a lot–the look, the weight, the fit–but it isn’t wearing as nicely as I would like. I’ve laid it flat to dry but it’s still pilling. It’s staying this year, but we’ll see for next.

10 item wardrobe

Red and gray J Crew Factory sweater with gold polka dots

Ditto for this one–I still like it, but it’s pilling. Maybe it’s me? Likely will stay for 2017.

10 item wardrobe

J Crew Factory jeans.

These jeans are great, but it’s weird that I had them in my “winter” 10-item wardrobe last year. I’ve been wearing them this winter until I got new jeans, but I’ll put them away until this summer.

10 item wardrobe

J. Crew Factory red tailored stretch Lexie pant.

These . . . did not stretch the way I needed them to. They’ve either shrunk a bit or I’ve put on five pounds. I’m not going to say which. They also faded (typical for red fabric), so they’re gone!

10 item wardrobe

Vince black ponte pants.

I still like these pants, but they’re a maybe. They tend to stretch out and get baggy as I wear them. If I wash them and put them in the dryer they shrink up again, but I feel like they’ll wear out faster that way.

10 item wardrobe

APC sweater dress.

Ack–no! I have been very disappointed by this dress, which I bought on sale a couple years ago. You can kind of see it here–despite my keeping it folded in a drawer and dry-cleaning it (a rarity for me), it has . . . relaxed? It’s baggy and shapeless, and I give up. I give up!

10 item wardrobe

Fisherman’s sweater, vintage.

Oh man. I still love this, but it had a couple of moth holes when I bought it. I repaired them, but either more keep happening or I’m discovering more! Also, it’s very thick and heavy, so it’s bulky under my coat, and I run hot and tend to not need a sweater as warm as this one. A maybe.

Final verdict: three maybes, and three no’s–leaving a possible six slots open in my highly competitive, breathlessly anticipated 10-item winter wardrobe! Do you feel the excitement? Gee, I hope people don’t bet their entire fortunes on the outcome.

As always, I must credit Jennifer L. Scott, author of the Madame Chic books, for her 10-item wardrobe inspiration! See you next week!

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Presenting My Mrs. Santa Dress

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

All dolled up in my Mrs. Santa dress–unveiled below!

You may remember my desire to make a big green velvet Christmas dress this year–I even had a pattern picked out! However, after an extensive search (at three different fabric stores) I couldn’t find any green velvet, and after a look at the calendar, I realized that realistically, I wasn’t going to have time to sew a dress anyway. I was quite disappointed–until I brainstormed a way to make the most Christmassy gown I could ever want, using a dress I made a few years ago!

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Mrs. Santa dress: before!

About six years ago, I wanted to make a big red Christmas dress, which I did, using a pattern I cannot find, either in my sewing stuff or online, but I believe it was a Vogue pattern that must be out of print: boatneck, big swingy skirt, defined waist, bracelet-length sleeves. While I wore the heck of it that year, it was never quite right: I should have taken up the shoulders, and I chose a polyester crepe fabric (partly because it was inexpensive, partly because it was the perfect color) that was a little too stiff.

Mrs. Santa Dress How-To

Mrs. Santa dress: after!

But! If I took it to a tailor (who fixed the shoulders for $20) and hot glue-gunned a little fake fur around the edges–voila! I’d have a perfect Mrs. Santa dress! After I rummaged through my closet and found a black patent leather belt and heels, my course was set.

Mrs Santa Dress How-To

Out on the town as Mrs. Santa at the Rum Club!

You can see the end result, and I’m quite proud of it! I wore it to a party and out for holiday drinks with my best girlfriends, and let me tell you: it is a lot of fun to dress as Mrs. Santa–I got a big (and mostly positive) reaction everywhere I went.

I’m pretty proud of my ingenuity (or is that insanity?). It took me less than half an hour to glue the trim on, and I got a re-branded, very distinctive dress for less than $40!

Do you have an ideal Christmas outfit? I’m still dreaming of a White Christmas-type dress (basically my Mrs. Santa dress on steroids). Post it below!

Help Me Make a Christmas Dress

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Look at Beej! We are adorable. Christmas in Tualatin, circa 1979. Oh I just noticed we matched the tree skirt!

Christmas! Like many kids, I grew up loving Christmas. The whole season seemed magical: learning songs in school, making paper-chain advent calendars. Soon after Thanksgiving, my Mom would transform the house into a winter wonderland, bringing out treasured decorations–many of which she had made herself–and she always had new projects going on. The late ’70s-early ’80s was the height of the “dough art” craze, and my Mom would design and painstakingly make, by hand, hundreds of Christmas ornaments that she would sell in local bazaars. I have fond memories of our dining room completely covered with clown marionettes (with ribbon ruffs) or teddy bears sitting on baby blocks, as Mom hand-painted and glazed each and every one.

But my fondest–and most hilarious–memory is when I was four: the year Mom made my brother and I matching green velvet Christmas finery. I was beside myself: the dress was long and trimmed with white eyelet lace. I had, and have, never been so glamorous. My brother, who was two, was decked out in a green velvet vest and shorts, which made him look like an adorable toddler Kermit the Frog. We have pictures. They still make us laugh.

For years my brother and I have been threatening to break out the green velvet and recreate these magical memories, but this year I think I’m actually going to do it: I want to make a big, fancy, green velvet dress that screams Christmas and that I can wear to our fancy Christmas cocktail party.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve worked with velvet. It’s not very fashionable for the over-12 set (at least not since the ’90s), and it’s a pain to work with. However, I’m not going to let this stop me–I will make my dreams come true. Unless I lose interest halfway. I’m not making any promises here, folks.

Here are the three patterns I am considering:

Vogue Patterns V2903: Misses V-Neck Fit and Flare Dresses

christmasdress1

Pros: Big, swishy skirt. I feel like a constructed, retro style would lend itself well to velvet. Cons: I don’t think the pleats will work with velvet.

Butterick B6094: Misses’ Fold-Back Facing Dresses

christmasdress2

Pros: The bias-cut skirt is big and swishy without the bulk of gathers or pleats, plus that back is amazing! Cons: Not sure if I want to make a petticoat. I own one, might work.

Butterick B5748: Misses’/Misses’ Petite Flared Dresses

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Pros: I love the idea of an actual retro pattern. Cons: This is basically a less interesting version of Butterick B6094, above.

So what do you think? Which should I pick? And . . . should I make a vest for Beej?!?

Happy Monday! Doubleclicks, Betty & Veronica

BettyVeronicaAHSDCCHappy Monday, folks. I know it must sound a little incongruous to be chirping that with so many awful things happening in the world. I’m just trying to keep this corner cheery for now.

So how was your weekend? I had that beautiful unicorn of an experience (since we’ve had Sarah): a spontaneous brunch at a nice place with friends. And they have a toddler less than a year older than Sarah! We went to Screen Door, a very very popular Portland restaurant that’s always packed to the gills. Fortunately, as parents, we were already up by 7:00 am–plenty of time to get dressed and stand in line for the first seating. Sarah and I had shrimp and grits, delicious!

Links!

Geekery

As you’ve probably already heard, a little move called Ghostbusters opened this weekend to a gross of $45 million (not too shabby). My favorite geeky girl band, the Doubleclicks, released a new video last week with their version of the theme song:

Do you live in the Portland area? You have three (three!) opportunities to see the Doubleclicks live and in person:

July 19: Doubleclicks at the Doug Fir Lounge at 8:00 PM with Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Barbara Holm & Lucia Fasano. 21+ show, $10/12.

July 24: Doubleclicks at the Tualatin Public Library at 2:00 PM. Free, all-ages.

July 25: Doubleclicks at Kickstand Comedy for a live Gosh Darn Fiasco podcast recording with special guest Kelly Sue DeConnick! $5 at the door. 7:00 PM.

The Adam Hughes reboot of Betty & Veronica debuts this week. Check out a preview at Entertainment Weekly!

San Diego Comic-Con kicks off this week! Looking for cool stuff to do? How about signings with Joss Whedon, Margaret Atwood, Gerard Way, and Nathan Fillion? Check out Dark Horse Comics’ full SDCC schedule.

Fashion

Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is nigh! However, if you’re a Nordstrom cardholder, you can shop the sale early through July 21. I personally shop early every year to stock up on my favorite Hanky Panky underwear, which are $14.90 or four for $54 during the sale. That’s just $13.50 each–more than 30% off the regular price of $20 each.

That’s all I’ve got today! Stay tuned for more . . .

My Summer 2016 10-Item Wardrobe

Yes! I am so excited to write this post. I love everything about the 10-item wardrobe idea, which I first read about in Jennifer L. Scott’s Madame Chic books. Having a simplified capsule wardrobe makes my life much easier: I can close all my drawers, and getting dressed takes no time. But also, I feel like it’s made me more stylish. Having to pare down my wardrobe makes me focus on what I actually wear every day, which are usually the items I feel best in.

So when the weather started getting warmer, I started by bringing out and evaluating my summer 2015 10-item wardrobe. While I kept a lot of it, some pieces that were a few years old needed to be retired and replaced.

I love this year’s wardrobe! The color scheme is red, white, and blue. I didn’t mean to be so patriotic: red is one of my favorite colors, and blue goes with everything. So let’s start with pieces that made the cut from last year:

10 item wardrobe

Fisherman’s sweater, vintage. This is from my fall/winter wardrobe. It’s warm but still looks great with summery clothes.

10-Item Wardrobe

Gap cropped white jeans.

10-Item Wardrobe

J. Crew Factory striped dress. I still love this piece, I’ve had it for four years!

10-Item Wardrobe

Floral dress, made by me about six years ago. Pattern by Amy Butler. This is a great any-occasion summer dress. The colors are so bright!

10-Item Wardrobe

J. Crew Factory chambray shirt. Another one I’ve had for four years!

And now (drumroll please): the four new additions for this year!

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What’s this? My goodness, it’s the summery, short-sleeved cousin of my very favorite J. Crew shirt! I especially love the peacock blue and dark red together, it looks vintage.

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Navy blue J. Crew Factory 5″ chino shorts. These are actually a late addition to last summer’s 10-item wardrobe. They’ve held up well!

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J. Crew Factory striped chevron dress. This is the dress I blogged about (the one I was eyeing as an alternative to a $500 dress). I love this dress. It fits beautifully, it’s made beautifully (it’s lined, and they’ve matched the stripes really well), and it was only about $50.

Here’s the dress on (a little wrinkly–I was sitting in it)!

So those are my 10 core pieces. Here are some T-shirts (my extras) to round things out:

Summer just isn’t summer without Archie. I got this shirt from Archie Comics’ official Threadless store! The (wow, wrinkled) navy T-shirt, white and gray tees, and floral tank are all from (of course) J. Crew Factory. The floral, white, and gray tops are from last year.

So what do you think? I’m pairing everything with my brown Josef Seibel sandals and brown Ahnu sneakers, both of which are about two years old. I also have some five-year-old Sam Edelman silver flats that have held up really well (see picture above).

Have you done a 10-item or capsule wardrobe? Post about it below!

Happy Wednesday! I Missed You All So Much

good-and-cheap.jpgYay! It’s not Monday, and it’s after lunchtime, but I finally have a scrap of time to blog and I’m taking it. How are you? What have you been up to? Is summer treating you well?

Summer has kicked my . . . hindquarters thus far, with GeekCraft Expo PDX debuting June 11-12 and the Doubleclicks heading out on their #MassiveTour (prompting me to launch about a million press releases). Plus, now that Sid is out of school, I have him full time, except when I’m ferrying him to his summer camps.

But it’s been worth it! GeekCraft Expo PDX, that Etsy-Meets-Comic Con curated geeky craft show, attracted 4,500+ attendees in its first year, completely obliterating my stress dream of being stuck in an empty hotel exhibit hall staring at the other GCE organizers (who I met in person for the first time at the show) and exhibitors while they glare at me and wonder where I went wrong. Instead, we surpassed my personal goals, the items for sale were incredibly awesome, and everyone went home happy! Whew.

The Doubleclicks’ tour is going strong: make sure to follow them on Twitter for pics and check out their YouTube channel for videos!

More links:

Food

I picked up Good and Cheap at the library, and I am in love with this cookbook. It was originally the capstone project of Leanne Brown, who wanted to create a cookbook of delicious, healthy recipes accessible to those on a SNAP/food stamp budget of $4 per day. As regular readers know, I’m obsessed with reducing our grocery budget (FYI: I totally sucked at that this month), but also, I love that this book encourages people to use what they have on hand, rather than sticking to strict recipes–the essence of good cooking.

Cooking for yourself is one of the easiest ways you can save money (I calculated that a ham and cheese sandwich–even without sale items–is about $2, compared to at least $8 for a non-fast food lunch out), and it’s a way to control the quality of the nutrients you put in your body. Healthy food can be cheap! There’s a free, downloadable PDF on Brown’s site, but if you buy the book, she donates a book to someone who needs it.

Speaking of food, it’s getting hot in Portland. I’m going to compile a full list of good hot weather food, but for now, check out AllRecipes’ super-easy kalua pig in a slow cooker. This is delectable, savory pulled pork that is dead easy to make and doesn’t heat up the kitchen (although your house will smell awesome).

Fashion

Remember that J Crew Factory dress I blogged about that was an alternative to the $500 dress I was drooling over? I bought it! And it fits like a dream! I’ll try to do a 10-item summer wardrobe post tomorrow.

Geek Stuff

Like I would forget. First, you’ve probably seen this everywhere since the PR was so good, but Chuck Palahniuk announced that he’ll come out with Bait, an adult coloring book, in October from Dark Horse! Let me just say I have some insider knowledge on this, and it is good. Also, I probably can’t read some of the stories.

Portland’s geek-folk sister duo the Doubleclicks might be on their #MassiveTour now, but they’ll be back in Portland July 19 at the Doug Fir! This is a 21+ event, but they’ll also be playing an all-ages show at the Tualatin Public Library (my childhood book haven!) July 24.

Tomorrow! I’m going to write that 10-item wardrobe post, by hook or by crook. Then, I’ll be prepping for a family vacation to Wyoming. Part of my (improbable) prep: giving myself the gift of a clean house to return to. Pray for me!

3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress

Fashion Friday: 3.1 Phillip Lim Look for Less

3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress

The perfect summer dress–if you have $550 to spend. 3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress via Nordstrom.

So I’m in the process of putting my spring/summer 10-item wardrobe together–yay! While most of the pieces I wore last year are in good shape, I do need a few things: new t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a casual-yet-spiffy dress. So I was psyched to spot this 3.1 Phillip Lim Open Back Stripe Sculpted Dress during a recent shopping trip with my mom. It combines three things I love: stripes, a fitted silhouette, and a super-cute back opening. Then I checked the price tag.

$550. Yikes! Yes, that was me dropping the tag like a hot potato and sadly trudging away. I can make a dress last a long time, but I’d have to wear it for about 10 years to make it worthwhile. Will I want a back cut-out when I’m 51? Probably not.

J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress

J Crew Factory Chevron-Striped Dress–a very reasonable $64.50! Via J Crew Factory.

But then! True love found me via banner ad (I know, right? Who even notices banners these days) and showed me this J. Crew Factory (like that is a surprise) Factory Chevron-Striped Dress, which is quite reasonably priced at $64.50. Like the 3.1 Phillip Lim dress, you can see that it’s striped and fitted (albeit with a front pleat), and the neckline and armholes are similar. Instead of white with navy stripes, it’s navy with white stripes. But what captured my attention was . . . (drumroll please):

FFJCrew2Yes! The back opening (described as a “coyback opening” in the Nordstrom URL, good description, meta data!) is very similar. Definitely worth a try! I never even tried on the 3.1 dress (I think my tears would have soiled it), but I’ll be making a trip to Woodburn after Memorial Day weekend!

I feel a little like Betty unearthing a cute knockoff of one of Veronica’s “Paris originals.” Yes, pretty much all of these Fashion Friday posts will contain an Archie Comics reference. You’re welcome.

What are you looking for this summer? Post below!