Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Belated WT week 2 -- piles and piles and piles

Last week was a toughie. A looming deadline, my own bad news, and some bad news from a friend meant that I didn't really have the energy for much other than just getting through the day. Although, funnily enough, I didn't really mind my own little misery so much. Not getting the job didn't hurt as much as I had thought it might. I was bummed, sure, but after I vented on the blog I felt so much better.

And so, now that my paper's turned in to the editor and I can do something WT-related for a change, here's the result of my week 2 tasks.

1. Piles and piles of tops
First off, I didn't realize how many shirts and light sweaters I had, so to make things go faster, I did this in stages based on kinds of shirts -- blazers/jackets, light sweaters, button-down/fancy shirts, and t-shirts/camisoles.

Superstars: My favorite velvet blazer. I wish I had more occasions to wear it. A pretty silk shell that I used to wear when I had to dress up for work. My new snakeskin-print cardigan.



Stalwart Staples: Lots and lots of t-shirt type tops and fine gauge sweaters. Long sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, short sleeve, scoop- or v-necks. I got rid of the ones that were sliding towards rabbitiness or that I never wore.

Velveteen Rabbits: I finally let go of some t-shirts that had seen better days -- both nice work-quality shirts and casual t-shirts that just looked too tired to keep in the rotation. Also got rid of some items that were in fine shape, but too dated to wear any longer.

Sentimental journeys: I didn't have any among my nicer clothing, but there were lots of t-shirts (especially related to college football). I tossed some and moved the rest to pajama rotation so I could hang on to them a little longer.

Torture devices and mysteries of the lost shopping trip: I'm combining these two because my problem garments all seem to have the same problems. Those problems include, but are not limited to:

1. The Wrong Color -- why do I keep buying brown clothing? I do love my brown jacket, but all the brown sweaters and tops need to go. Also, I may technically be a Summer, color-wise, but pastels look terrible on me. So out went a bunch of pale pink tops. Darker jewel toned colors look a lot better on me.

2. The Wrong Shirt -- button down shirts are really tricky on me. If they weren't a terrible color, they made me look like a waiter (Thanks to Dr. Wende for the comparison). Add to that my natural talent for wrinkling clothing (I can create creases even while staying perfectly still), and these shirts are not my friends. This one, a gift from my mother, was such an egregious offender on the waiter-front that I never even wore it out of the house. The button downs I did keep are 3/4 sleeve, wrinkle resistant, and in the right colors. They're better, although not that great.


3. The Wrong Quality: this sweater was almost but not quite right. There was a lot I liked about it. It had a nice cut and fit, I liked the sleeves and the neck. I even liked the pattern -- it had sort of a crewel-embroidery thing going on. Unfortunately, the material was itchy and the pattern isn't actually embroidered, it's printed on and feels a whole lot like that puff paint stuff I used to embellish my sneakers with in elementary school. It felt kind of cheap, so I always felt kind of bad wearing it. So out it goes.


4. The Wrong Lifestyle: the clothing I bought in the mistaken belief that I am the sort of person who might wear that sort of clothing. I'm almost never right about that kind of thing. The beautiful but doomed little camisole top falls into this category. I almost never wear clothing that shows off my arms like that, and never quite mastered the art of wearing under the right sort of jacket or cardigan, so it still had the tags on. Maybe the right kind of girl will find it at Goodwill.

The purge resulted in a huge garbage bag of clothing for Goodwill and several new dust rags for cleaning. It's nice to be able to open and shut all my dresser drawers again, and there's actually room in my closet again. Plus, there were a few nice staples lurking at the bottom of my drawers, and now they can get back into the rotation again. And I feel like I learned a lot from what I kept and tossed. Like that I really, really, need to stop buying brown clothing.

Next, onward to the pants and skirts!
But before you do, check out my new haircut. I won't tell you how many pictures I took in the mirror before I figured out how to get my whole face in.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When you least expect it

I've been hunkered down these past few days trying desperately to get a paper put to bed. I finished wrestling it into shape tonight and will be sending it off to an editor tomorrow. I hope they're kind.

After I finished saving it in a few different places, I hopped over to check my email and got some news that hit me like a blow to the stomach. See, I applied for this job a few months ago. It was pretty much the perfect job for me in every way. Not only was it just what I wanted to do, just where I wanted to do it, but I was actually perfectly qualified for it -- for every bullet point on their list I could tick off an accomplishment. I sent off my resume and have been twiddling my thumbs and trying not to hope too much ever since.
Turns out I hoped too much.
I never heard anything, but tonight, via an almost completely unrelated email, I learned that someone else got the job. And not just any someone else. A former classmate. A lovely former classmate, who is also super qualified and will do a wonderful job. But still, it was a classmate who wasn't me. And while I'm happy for that person (jobs in my field are a little thin on the ground right now), I'm crushed on my own behalf. I wanted this so badly, and I thought that I'd at least manage to get an interview or something. Maybe this was one of those cases where they had someone in mind and only advertised to give the appearance of a search -- that happens a lot, I know. Maybe I wasn't really as qualified as I thought. Maybe I made a terrible grammatical mistake in my cover letter. Maybe my application got lost under a doormat somewhere. I don't know. I'm just so bummed. And it really sucks to lose out to someone I know. Again.
I'll be fine. This wasn't meant to be, and that's okay. With all the silence from the institution, I'd been trying to prepare myself for rejection, so this isn't completely out of left field. It's just sort of a crappy thing to happen on a night when I was so happy about finishing up a project.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WT week one

Having done my questionnaire, I'm moving on to the rest of this week's tasks.
  • Remove one (and only one!) unsuccessful item from your wardrobe. My discard item for this week is a pair of brown jeans. I'm sure this will come up again when we get to the pants-related week, but I've decided that I'm going to stop buying pants that aren't black or grey (not counting jeans). Pants that are other colors just never work for me. And there's something particularly hideous about these. I bought them in what can only be considered a fit of shopping madness. See, most of the time, I'm cheap. I'll see things I like in stores, but I won't buy them, because they seem like too much money. But every now and then, I'll need new clothing in a hurry, or I'll be determined to get some new item of clothing. Of course, when this happens, there's never anything in the stores I like. But I have to buy something, so unwise purchases are made. These jeans were one of those bad ideas. There may be people out there for whom brown jeans are flattering. I am not one of them. They made me feel extra frumpy. Which is quite the accomplishment.
  • Do something that makes you feel good about your body. As I mentioned in the questionnaire, I really hate my hair right now. I've been really remiss about getting haircuts since I moved to New York. I was just really intimidated by the prospect of finding a nice salon that wouldn't charge and arm and a leg, so I didn't get haircuts. The situation would get dire and then I'd go do something crazy like duck into a salon while I was in another state visiting a friend. My hair was getting long and unmanageable again -- about halfway down my back -- and there was a nice looking salon in between school and my favorite deli, so this week I bit the bullet, made an appointment, and got a haircut. It only cost an arm, but it was worth it. I now have a swingy chin-length bob and my head feels a ton lighter. The jury's still out on whether or not I'll be able to replicate the effects of the truly awesome blow-out I got in the salon, but I'm pretty happy with it right now.
  • Find yourself some sources of inspiration on personal style. I'm off to go do this now. I did buy some knitting magazines tonight -- Interweave Knits and Knitscene -- I always love the way the models are styled in these, and I'm sure I'll find some good inspiration in there. (I love this cardigan so much that I think I'm going to have to knit it.) I'll report back soon with more inspiration.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wardrobe Therapy and What I did on Spring Break

So. I went to Spain! And it was super fantastic. The trip was part of the decorative arts and design history class I'm TA-ing, and part of the conditions of the administration sending the TAs was that we would handle the logistical aspects of the trip. My job was transportation, and I was holding my breath the whole time that buses would show up when we had booked them. They did, and the rest of the trip was fairly smooth as well (one stolen wallet, one case of food poisoning -- not too bad for a 23-person group.)

I have stories and pictures, but first.... Wardrobe Therapy!

The brainchild of Dr. Wende, Wardrobe Therapy is on again for the spring. Since my closet is about to burst and there are shoes everywhere in my apartment, I thought it would be a good idea for me to participate. Also, it's a form of productive procrastination, and I'm always up for that.

I wanted to go ahead and put up my answers to the questionnaire, and hopefully I can get to the rest of the week 1 tasks tomorrow.

Wardrobe Therapy Questionnaire:

1. Thinking primarily (but not necessarily exclusively) about looks, who's your favorite performer of your own gender and species? Why?

I love Lady Gaga. Love her music, love her look, love that she feels free to make her body and her clothes into an art project. That said, I’m a girl who needs to wear pants, who can’t really balance in super high heels, and who believes that muppets are for watching, not for wearing. Still, I admire her confidence, and her willingness to be beautiful and ugly and to play with traditional ideas about gender, even if there isn’t much specific inspiration I can take from her wardrobe.

For a performer whose wardrobe I could actually steal some inspiration from, well, I have to say Gabby Sidibe. It’s so nice to see a woman of size in the public eye, period. But it’s especially nice to see one who seems so comfortable and confident in her skin. She’s obviously having such a good time in the limelight, and she generally looks great doing it. And while I share the mixed feelings of the Shapely Prose crew on this subject, one of the nice things about Gabby’s use of off the rack clothes is that I actually could wear the things she does.

2. If you could live in any historic era with a really good clothing budget (as well as soap, toothpaste, and delicing as needed), when would you choose?

It's totally unsuited to my figure, but in an ideal world, with an ideal figure and budget, I’d live in the 20s and 30s and be costumed exclusively by Vionnet. This seems just about right for a night at a supper club or for cocktails and dancing.

3. What's your favorite painting or other form of visual art? Why?

I fell in love with this painting at the Prado a few weeks ago. I love the contrast between the spinners in front and the elite ladies in the background. I love it as an art historian, a knitter, a fan of mythology. I like the idea of the behind the scenes part getting to be front and center stage. I was also really tempted to put Velasquez's Las Meninas here, too. Or this one, by Florine Stettheimer, Spring Sale at Bendel's

It's so bright and bustling, there's so much to look at (which is sort of a theme in my favorite paintings) and it completely captures the mania of a big sale.

4. What is your first memory in which clothes are important?

I had this beautiful dress for my role as a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding. White organza with tiny yellow and peach flowers and a giant peach satin sash. It had puffy short sleeves and a long full skirt – very southern belle-ish. It was a floor sample at a fabric store and so much work must have gone into it. And it was the itchiest thing I have ever worn. I hated every single second I spent in it. It’s been memorialized in a big studio portrait of me and my brother that hangs in my parent’s dining room. We look very adorable. They must have caught me between scratches.

5. What is your favorite garment ever? Why?

I bought this amazing dress for the semi-formal my sophomore year of college. It was the most sophisticated thing I’d ever bought, and the most designer (it was Liz Claiborne and we got it from Macy’s – that was a pretty big deal to me back then). Little black dress, sleeveless, asymmetrical neckline. Oh I loved it. It’s been ages since I could fit in to it, but I’m not ready to let go of it yet.

6. What is your favorite garment in your wardrobe right now?

In a rare moment of foresight combined with extraordinary shopping karma, I managed to purchase a beautiful black London Fog raincoat with these super cool silver toggles. Not only was it incredibly handy during my trip to rainy Spain, but I feel very chic in it, like a proper New Yorker. I also really, really love my glittery black sneakers. They get me more compliments than anything I’ve ever owned.

7 What is the worst clothing purchase you can remember making?

I don’t know why I buy half the stuff I do. The worst offender I can think of right now would be all the vests I owned in middle school in the early 90s. I had a tapestry cat vest. I wore it with turtlenecks and a horrible perm. It was just as bad as you’re imagining right now.

8. What's your most embarrassing clothing-related memory other than a bad purchase?

Middle school was not a good period for me, fashion-wise. As a sixth grader, I had this sweatshirt I loved. Yellow with little ballerina bunnies on it (Yes, I know. Dancing bunnies. I can't explain it either). I was wearing it to school when I overheard two girls making fun of it, and me. They may have been right about how stupid that sweatshirt was. They probably were right about it. But it was all I could do not to burst into tears. I never wore that shirt again.

9. What body part (no more than three!) are you proud of and expect compliments on?

Expect compliments on? I don’t really expect compliments on anything. But I guess I do like my eyes. They’re a nice shade of blue, and really pop when I’m wearing the right colors, which I do pretty frequently, now that I realize that.

10. What body part (again, no more than three!) seems to require management, if not coaxing, cajoling, and sometimes outright begging if it's to please you?

My name is Erin and I have serious hair issues. Other than the color, there’s not much I like about it right now.

11. If you could dress however you wanted all the time, what might you include?

Cardigan, [t-shirt and jeans/t-shirt and skirt/dress], cute flats. That’s pretty much how I dress most of the time now. It's comfy and it works. I do like the idea of wearing fancy dresses all the time, but it seems like way too much work in reality. And also not that comfortable.

12. If you could shop at any store (or from any designer), which would you choose?

I’d like to live a life where I could wear Alexander McQueen’s last collection. It's all so amazingly beautiful. But since I’m not a swordfighting princess ninja, I’m worried that they wouldn’t work with my lifestyle. I also really wish Anthropologie offered things in plus-sizes.

13. Where do you ordinarily shop now?

The fat girl staples – Lane Bryant and Avenue, plus Macy’s (if you can brave the Herald Square Macy’s, it has one of the nicest plus size departments I have ever seen. Much nicer than the Macy’s in the malls back home).

14. What clothing, accessory, or prettifying need (if any) do you enjoy shopping for?

Shoes and makeup.

15. Which one do you most loathe shopping for?

Pants. I hate shopping for pants. The Lane Bryant right fit system has helped, since now I can get pants that approximate a fit at both hips and waist, but I still struggle with finding the right length, especially since I’m too cheap to pay to have them hemmed and too lazy to do it myself. This is one serious argument in favor of a pants-free lifestyle, but I don’t know if I’m ready to live solely in skirts and dresses yet.

16. Do you consider yourself low-, medium-, or high-maintenance?

I’m low-maintenance in reality, but I like to think I’m high-maintenance. Which might explain why I own so much makeup I never actually take the time to put on.

17. What are the two most frequent occasions that you dress for and how would you describe them?

Work/school – it’s all in the same building, so it gets the same wardrobe. It’s pretty business casual (jeans + nice tops are okay, and I even get away with my cuter sneakers), but I’d like to do a better job of looking more like the staff than the students. I can’t think of anything else I do often enough that also requires a different style of dress, which might be one of my problems.

18. What was your favorite Hallowe'en costume ever?

My mom made me an awesome panda costume when I was about 6. She sewed it herself. It had a top, pants, shoe covers, gloves, a hood and a mask. I think my brother had a matching tiger costume. It was hot to wear, but I loved it.

19. What do you see as the current problem(s) with your wardrobe and/or look?

My whole wardrobe runs together. I don’t ever really dress up or down, I just sort of dress. I have a problem knowing what to do with accessories, and I tend to just throw on the appropriate amount of clean clothes and go. I also get very self-conscious about trying anything new.

20. At the end of WT, what lovely compliments do you want onlookers to give you?

I’d just like to look appropriate for wherever I’m going/whatever I’m doing. I’d rather people compliment me on my actions, not my clothing, so I guess I don’t want my clothes to distract from me.

Whew, that was a long questionnaire. Stay tuned for my attempt at the other week one tasks. I have had a revelation about my pants, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.