Mighty Life List
Sep 9 2010

Packing Light: Dublin


This is every item of clothing I packed for seven days in Dublin. I’m doing a campaign for L.L.Bean’s Signature Collection and they sent me a giant box of clothes, so I’m wearing a few of those items below. That means you can actually obtain some of these pieces, instead of cursing me when I tell you that everything you love was purchased at a vintage shop in 2001.

L.L.Bean Signature Silk Habutai Dress Polka Dot

For example, this perfectly faded brown dress with polka dots? It’s L.L.Bean’s Silk Habutai Dress, and it’s so Little Orphan Annie. Except it’s made of heavy silk, but who says orphans can’t have nice things? Jerks, that’s who.

Anyway, as I mentioned recently, belts are a challenge for me. I’ve been trying to up my game on that front, so I bought a few from H&M and this is my first attempt. I felt so pulled together, ya’ll. The cardigan I’m belting here is also H&M, but it’s from the men’s section, which is where they keep all the good stuff.

The grey tights are Target, and the magic travel boots are from Argentina. They’ve gotten me through more trips than I can count.

Let’s get a closer look at those blue polka dots:

Hello, little buddies.

This is my travel outfit, hence the action pose. It’s a knit dress I got at a thrift store, worn with an H&M elastic belt and the aforementioned tights and boots. I also wore a grey sweater wrap that I didn’t get a photo of, but you can see it in my New York post from a couple years ago. It doubles as an airplane blanket.

I’m wearing the dress on the way back home too, so I’ll be washing it in the bathtub while I’m here. Airplane germs gross me out. Another reason to do a quick rinse:

This is the dress worn as a top. I’ve cleverly safety pinned the sides to the outside layer of my Express Ultra Skinny Stella jean pockets. You can also use extra large safety pins to do a gathering effect on the sides of your dress, which is slightly more labor intensive, but arguably more effective. There are those boots again. I love you, boots.

The necklace is also H&M, it makes everything a little more current. Unlike these killer sleeves. What’s up 1983? We miss your economy.

I borrowed this sweater from Bryan who got it at Macy’s a few years back. He never wears it, and it’s super soft. His loss. That’s an L.L.Bean Tweed Skirt and army green tights from Target.

The circle scarf is H&M, and I love how easy it is to mess with proportions when you’re wearing it. Also, coziness.

These are my Rudolf Dassler PUMAs, which I adore, so of course they rub away the skin over my Achilles tendon. I’ve been trying to decide whether I strictly need that skin, so I’ve taken to tying them lower. This frees up a lot of extra lace, hence the creative lace tying. I like the way it looks, so I’ve been doing that with all my sneakers now.

This is a packing minimization outfit. We’re revisiting the cardigan, boots, and jeans.

I forget where the shirt came from, but I bought it because I liked the gathering around the neck and cuffs. You have to iron it like crazy though, and I only seem to have time for that when I’m on vacation.

The hat is hand knit, I got it at a thrift store where I get almost all of my hand-knit items. For the record, if someone hand knits you something and you send it to a thrift store? I’m pretty sure you need to go to confession, or sacrifice a goat or something. Or at least learn how to knit things that other people can then throw away — full circle.

I try to pack PJs I can wear as clothes in a pinch, so this is a tank top and cropped sweats from who knows where. I wear the tank under stuff for an extra layer if it’s cold. The comfy pants are nice if I get sick and want to be cozy, or if my flight is delayed and everything I’m wearing is coated in airport goo.

Chic librarian is my preferred look, so this is my favorite outfit for the trip.

These are L.L.Bean’s Cuffed Cropped Pant. They are fantastic. I’d normally wear them with a chunky heel, but we’re walking on cobblestones in the rain here, so these are cheap, destroyable flats from Target.

The cashmere cardigan is from the Alameda Flea Market, the Peter Pan collar top was 99 cents on eBay, and the modernized cat-eye glasses are Dolce and Gabbana. The hair scarf is actually a belt from a polyester ’70s dress I got at a thrift store when I was in high school. Yeah. It’s time to clean out my closet.

Thanks to the team at L.L.Bean Signature Collection for sponsoring this post.
Next time I have a clambake, you are so invited.

Aug 30 2010

Flashback Monday: Women’s Fashion Part II, Color

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

Black is easy. Black is mythic. It can make you look 120 pounds when you weigh 250. Black is the new…well, you’ve heard it. But do you own anything that makes you laugh when you put it on? Not even a pair of ducky yellow boots tucked into the back corner of your closet?

If not, you need more happy clothes. Even in big cities where women tend to be more adventurous with their clothing, you can count ten women in muted colors for every one woman wearing a bright blue raincoat or green trousers. This is why designers have such an easy time hooking us with their color du season. We’re starved for something juicy.

And you can be juicy. Oh, yes.

Now in Technicolor

Color gets you noticed, especially when everyone else looks as though they’re in mourning. Think of who gets photographed at the Oscars: Nicole Kidman in her chartreuse Galliano, Gwyneth Paltrow in her glowing pink Ralph Lauren, Kate Winslet in her flowering red Ben de Lisi. Remember Helen Hunt’s black Gucci cloak dress? Or Julianne Moore’s sheer black Chanel? Yeah, neither does anyone else.

Get some glad rags. If your closet lacks color, refuse to buy any more navy, beige, brown, or black until your wardrobe is more vibrant. You may hear the inner voice that your mother so cultivated, shouting, ‘A pink suede skirt? That won’t go with anything!’ Perhaps. But it will make you want to shimmy.

Don’t wear green if green makes you look dead. How can you tell? Stand near a window in the store so you can see the color and your skin tone in a natural light. Now hold the item in question up to your face. Do you glow a little, or do you look hungover? If you are hungover and you still glow a little, snap that baby up. Also pay attention to people’s comments. If they ask whether you’re feeling tired when you wear your green sweater, chuck it. If they ask whether you’ve just had your hair cut, buy some more skirts to go with your fabulous green sweater.

Eschew black for special occasions. Consider your little black dress a standby for events that catch you off guard, not a default. If you know a fete is coming, find an outfit that will own the room, something that snaps. This will make you easy to find in a crowd, which makes it easier for charming strangers to hit on you.

Invest in a bright coat. It looks fantastic with an all-neutral outfit, and can make even a T-shirt and jeans look stylish. A colorful coat also adds some flare to more conservative work outfits.

Wear more red. It’s the only color that’s both bold and classic, and every woman can find a shade that flatters her. If you’re not sure what looks good on you, go to an upscale makeup counter and ask them to help you find a red lipstick that works with your complexion. Once you’ve found something attractive, you can buy red clothing with the same base shades. Nothing beats a red dress for sex appeal. If you don’t believe me, lick your finger, press it to your hip, and make a sizzling sound. Now isn’t that more convincing when you’re wearing red?

Mix and Match

The best way to figure out what colors work well together is to pay attention to fashion spreads and imitate the combinations you like. Hard-and-fast fashion rules on what matches and what doesn’t are somewhat naive. Styles are in constant flux. While neon pink with lime green would have been fine in the ’80s, today it would be a cause for concern. Some basic guidelines:

Stick to two or three colors per outfit. The rainbow effect hasn’t worked since you were six. If you’re pairing solids, choose two colors and work with those, perhaps adding a touch of a third color in your earrings or with a pair of strappy shoes.

Dress in color families. When you’ve collected enough pieces in a single color family, consider wearing them together once in awhile. Of course, they should be shades that match, mint green isn’t so hot with olive drab, and they should also be tones that vary. Wearing exactly the same shade of a bright color from head to toe can be an assault on passersby, but pairing a barely turquoise angora sweater with a robin’s-egg wool skirt looks smashing. Avoid an undesirable schizophrenic effect by offsetting a monochromatic outfit with a swingy little jacket and shoes in neutral shades or accessories in a complementary, but distinctly different, color.

Pay attention to color tones. Pastels work better with other light colors, while saturated colors work well together. Pale pink is beautiful with beige, but dark pinks are nicer with a chocolate color.

Pucci Over Pinstripe

Patterned clothing isn’t nearly as versatile as solids. There are a few exceptions—pinstripes, Burberry plaid—but patterns are often a liability. They hang forlornly in your closet because they don’t go with anything; they’re the reason that your white T-shirt is always in the wash.

Still, patterns are fun, and fun is the point. So if you’re going to buy a few things that don’t match much, buy outrageous things. See that bright green ’60s print with huge blue barracudas swimming all over it? That’s what I’m talking about. See that little tank top with the giant spiky flowers in fuchsia, and red? There are forty others like it on the sale rack, because no one else was brave enough to wear them. You don’t have those kinds of hang-ups. Vintage shops and deeply discounted sales racks are the best places to find striking prints.

Those who feel exposed in a crazy, dramatic pattern can balance it with classic clothing in a conservative cut. If you’re not particularly adept at choosing colors that work together, select a neutral or a shade featured prominently in the pattern. Your new barracuda pants would look great with a slate gray T-shirt. Your floral tank would be sweet with a little red skirt.

Tennis Bracelets Are for Sissies

If you’re not a brave girl, or you don’t have enough extra cash to invest in a fuchsia section of your closet, start with accessories. You can dress as conservatively as you like and still look dashing if you wear bold jewelry. What do I mean by bold? Colorful, and big.

Find two or three bright colors that you love—a lipstick crimson, Tiffany’s blue—and begin to collect scarves, pins, and bracelets in those colors. Bright, dramatic jewelry is especially nice with clothes that take no chances. A beige T-shirt, jeans, and sandals looks ho-hum until you add a chunky orange necklace. Your little black dress stands out if you added aquamarine chandelier earrings or a pink tassel necklace that falls to your waist.

The extra bonus with dramatic jewelry is that you can always remove it and stuff it in your purse if you feel overdressed or silly. This is not as true of thigh-high leather boots that lace up the back.

Bold and Brave

Nothing looks good on a woman who isn’t brave, and it takes a brave woman to wear orange pants. Not everyone will like what you’re wearing, but a few people will love it as much as you do. Those people are the correct ones.

Fashionable women are willing to wear what other women won’t (yet). They have a sense of humor about what they put on their bodies, and they’re often respected less for their artistry than their chutzpah.

What the rest of us need to figure out is how to be daring without being reckless. Playing with color is the most foolproof way to do that. Next time, buy the pink suede skirt. It’s practical.

Mar 3 2010

Packing Light: ALT Summit

I try to travel without checking luggage, and Packing Light is a series about what I pack to get that done.

I haven’t done a lot of winter suitcases, so I thought I’d do a post about what I packed to speak at ALT Summit. The jeans are from The Limited, and I need to imagine a gospel choir singing and Jesus rays breaking through the clouds as I type this next part: They were the first pair I tried on. I’m a size 8 to 10 in jeans, and the ones at The Limited have a perfect waist to bum ratio for my figure, so the waistline doesn’t gap. The boots are my magic Buenos Aires boots from the trip we took when Hank was a baby.

The undershirt is an acid yellow top I got at Old Navy in a frenzied stock up on layering pieces when they had the $5 sale before Christmas. I like to buy unusual colors so I can combine them with neutrals and have it look all artsy, which is what I’m going for with this grey Dolman sleeve sweater, also from a sale at The Limited (twenty bucks, baby!).

Laura took this lovely photo of me in my outfit for the “Old Hollywood” party. I took that to mean retro-Oscars, but most other ladies wore chic little cocktail dresses, which means I was grievously overdressed. Upside, I arrived after dinner and drinks, so I was mostly too illuminated to care much.

This is a cheap feather hair clip I often use to spruce up dress straps. It can add va-voom to the most mundane spaghetti strap number.

Update: I got the clip at a cheesy costume shop on the Haight, the one with all the wigs and spandex zebra print outfits. I looked for a similar one online but couldn’t find it. If you do, let me know and I’ll post a link in a later post. Also, this can get crushed in a suitcase, so I pack it in a hard-sided cardboard box that’s maybe three inches high.

My hair is getting too long for ponytails, it just tends to look scraggly, so this is my version of the quick updo. I twist back the front sections, then do a loose chignon in the back.

The shoes are a hand-me-down from my sister. I like the surprise lattice work in back.

I like to wear color when I’m onstage, so this is what I wore to speak. I got the Esprit velvet mini at a thrift store in college. Grey tights are from Target.

I got the shirt and belt on sale at JCrew and I wear them both constantly. The cashmere sweater is a vintage Pringle from the Alameda Flea Market (twenty bucks!). The brooch is by Elefante, e a Vida, and I adore it. Miriam’s work is my go-to gift for beloved girlfriends, all of whom I’m pinning one by one.

I got this fake fur jacket years ago at a thrift store in Sacramento. It brings back amazing memories of having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on sunny winter mornings. My roomie at the time had a giant giraffe-print coat, and we’d wrap up so we could sit outside without waiting for a table. I swear I can smell mint tea every time I put it on, and it’s crazy warm.

Update: I wore the jacket and boots on the plane, so I didn’t have to fit those in the suitcase. Next time I’ll remember to include a shot of the case packed. I also roll my clothing to save space, though the long dress I just folded over and stored in a top panel of the case.

Leggings by H&M, as is the zip-front sweater.

These leg warmers are also H&M, and they are divine. They make it more feasible to wear leggings as pants, and you can really wear them with anything when you want to throw in a little trendy kick.

(Someone asked in comments what I’m wearing on my lips in this photo. I think it’s just Burt’s Bees peppermint chapstick.)

And finally, you must own one of these American Apparel circle scarves. I never take mine off, and there’s so many ways to wear it, I give a full-on infomercial to anyone who will listen. Sorry about that, Karen and Erin. But you love the scarf don’t you? I thought so.

Sep 11 2009

Packing Light: Greece Edition

If you’ve been reading long, you already know the drill from my packing posts about New York and Puerto Rico. I don’t like to check luggage if I can help it, so I try to fit everything in a carry-on and my laptop bag. This is what I packed for two weeks in Greece. It’s eight outfits total, and my plan was to wear everything twice, but on different islands.

redflowers

This is my favorite vintage dress. It’s cotton and it has pockets, purrrr. Great for visiting churches when I’m traveling, because it covers the shoulders and knees, but it’s cool and easy to move in. I can also plop down on the ground without worrying I’m flashing everyone, so it’s good for traveling with the toddler too. The shoes are my navy saltwater sandals.

redflowersit

Because it’s cotton, this dress wrinkles in the suitcase, so Bryan taught me a trick from his acting days. Head into your hotel bathroom with the dress on a hanger, turn the shower on hot, wet a washcloth, wring it slightly, and then pat the dress down. The little wrinkles will fall out with the steam, and the wet washcloth takes care of the big ones. I just put the dress on damp and let it dry on me, but you can also let it dry overnight.

The glasses are a drugstore purchase from years ago, the headband is an elastic 99-center from H&M. So useful, that I actually gave Melissa one when we were in Puerto Rico, because she lamented having lost the ones she picked up in San Francisco. You need one too. More on that later.

blackdress

This is a simple black, drop-waist dress that I got for $7 at a thrift store when I was in college. On the plane, I wore this with a pair of black leggings, my trusty slip-off gold flats (see Puerto Rico post if you’re curious about those), a pale blue cardigan, and my swimsuit wrap worn as a scarf (the wrap also doubled as a blanket). Again, I’ve failed you in photographing my travel outfit. Don’t think I can’t hear you cursing me from here.

blackdressclose

I think the dress is rayon, but it reacts to water like crepe — either way, it doesn’t really wrinkle. I bought the hat for 10 Euros in Santorini, because I didn’t pack a sunhat. Which was dumb. Be ye not so dumb, my traveling friends.

The purse is from Buenos Aires, the necklace is my favorite, a gift from Bryan purchased at Rare Device. I can’t believe I’m blanking on the artist’s name. One of you knows, I’ll bet. Let me know in comments, and I’ll update.

shortsfull

These are the same shorts I took to Puerto Rico, they’re Rocawear. The shirt is a men’s undershirt, Hanes I think.

shortsscarf

The brooch is a long vintage silk scarf that I made into a flower shape and pinned to my shirt with safety pins. Because I am crafty.

redfull

Oh man this dress is so good. Also vintage, and unfortunately polyester — the yucky kind. I got past it though, and it’s great for traveling.

redwrist

Bryan brought back the bracelet from a work trip to China. All my cool jewelry is from Bryan.

redskirt

The gladiator sandals were my main shoes for this trip. They’re surprisingly comfy, though buckled a little loose in this photo. They’re from Delia’s, which is a teen catalog that’s great for accessories and trendy stuff that you only need to last for a year or so.

romp

Speaking of trendy stuff that doesn’t need to last, here’s a $15 romper I bought for the trip from Urban Outfitters (Be careful, that site now has music! Ugh).

rompjump

I told you a while ago that I like to pack jammies that can double as outfits, and these were supposed to be my jammies. I ended up wearing them almost more than anything else, the knit was crazy comfortable. Action wear!

rompear

The giant earrings are from a shop in Kentucky. They’re lightweight.

headband

Back to that headband. I keep it in my purse when I travel because my hair invariably starts to look scraggly with wind and swimming, or I get too hot to wear it down. With this, I can pull it into a ponytail and use the band to clean up the stray frizz caused by humidity. It’s easy to do without a mirror, and the result is casual, but a little more polished.

greecefull

This dress is by 25singles. The sleeves are constructed so I can push them to the front and back and wear a cardigan without any added bulk on my shoulders. Great for the city.

greecejump

Greece is all about jumping for me, apparently. Anyway, you can see here how the sleeves only attach at the top, so you can arrange the folds for more tummy or bum coverage, as you desire. Genius.

greeceneck

The necklace is actually two necklaces from H&M, which I knotted together.

tankfull

Here are those shorts again. The tank is by H&M, and is much fuller than it appears in this photo. I actually decided it was a little unflattering on this trip, and probably won’t be wearing it again. Such are the perils of seeing yourself in photos.

The shoes were a blog rec by Elizabeth from Browner Brown. They’re $17 Saniya Pointed Toe Flats from Target, and they’re rubber soled. They didn’t give me problems on this trip, but have since given me pinky toe blisters. Great with tights though, and I love the color.

tankscarf

The scarf is the same one I used as a brooch above. This time I looped it twice around my head, tied it on top, and tucked the loose ends under for an updated Rosie the Riveter vibe.

treefull

This is another vintage find. That green band has crazy giraffes and other jungle animals in play, which is spectacular. Super comfy.

treebelt

The fish-scale belt is elasticized, I got it at a thrift store. The waist on this dress is a little high for me, so I like to define it a bit.

treetop

Sunglasses were on loan from Laura, as an Englishman had accidentally absconded with mine the night before, thinking they were his girlfriend’s.

suitwrapfront

This is my swim wrap, which I bought in Bali on my honeymoon. It’s essentially a large rectangle of linen with a random button and a random tie. I have to figure out how to wear the damn thing every time I put it on, but it’s great to travel with because I can also use it as a scarf or a blanket on the plane. It’s by Oka Diputra.

suitwrapback

The back gives you a little insight into how it’s fashioned. Button at the neck, tie at the waist. Supposedly you can wear it like fifteen different ways, but I have no idea how.

suit

Here’s my new La Blanca suit! I’m excited because I almost never buy new swimsuits. I may just be turning over a new leaf on that though. (Sorry this is a little blown out, my camera was on the wrong setting.) I got it on sale at Nordstrom.com. I like that it’s a sexy one piece, but I don’t feel like my boobs are hanging out. Also? Red! Which is the very best color for a swimsuit.

And that’s it! Here’s a shot of my suitcase.

suitcase

I had so much extra room, that I decided to throw in my rollers, which was ludicrous. I used them twice and they made my bag heavy, which is a Packing Light fail.

You can also sort of see that I packed two things that didn’t get much play, a yellow turban purchased in Puerto Rico, and a white men’s button down to wear as a coverup (I wore it for sleeping instead). The red and white striped thing is an adorable $10 beach bag from Walmart, which I used a couple times as a shopping bag, and to carry home Hank’s gifts without crushing them. I also had a pair of black flip-flops, which got a ton of use.

Regrets? Well, the stupid curlers. Come on, Maggie. Also, I should have worn a sunhat on the plane. It took a while to find a reasonable one, and I don’t totally love it. Also, in retrospect, I would have thrown in three or four more evening dresses. We tended to wear casual clothes during the day, and dress things up at night. It would have been good to have a few more in the vein of my 25singles dress.

Also, I would have stuffed my busy husband and my cranky toddler in, because as fun as it is to travel with girlfriends, I missed those guys.

I was in Greece because Intel is sponsoring my Mighty Life List. Next week, I’m going skin diving in the Arctic Circle! Stay tuned.

Jul 20 2009

Packing Light: Puerto Rico Edition

This is every item of clothing I packed for eight days in Puerto Rico, minus my traveling dress and sweater, which somehow escaped my camera.

Regular readers know I like to pack light, so my goal for this trip was to fit everything in a carry-on suitcase and my laptop backpack. This is relatively easy to do if you’re going somewhere warm and casual, but Melissa was still surprised by how much I managed to cram into my bag.

This is a green dress I bought at H&M shortly after I had Hank. I love it, because the front pleat is very tummy forgiving, and that’s the area I worry about most, especially post-baby. When it’s not belted, it’s a comfy, loose shift. The purse is a thrift find; it’s lined with a spectacular hunting scene.

These peacock feather earrings are from Claire’s, and I love them.

The skinny gunmetal belt is J Crew. Versatile, ladies.

These simple, functional flats are my sneakers. They’re ideal for travel because they go with everything, you can step right out of them at airport security, and they flatten completely in your bag. I don’t like blisters while I’m out exploring, and you don’t need to “break them in,” which is really just code for “my shoes are defective.” What other item of clothing could make you bleed without giving you just cause to return it for a full refund? Girl shoes piss me off.

Anyway, I’ve gone through three pairs of these magic flats, and I’ve raved about them before on Mighty Goods. They’re by Navid o Nadia.

I bought this BP dress for Blogher very early in my pregnancy. It has a subtle stripe of blue and green that you can’t see in the photo, and it has proven to be a great layering piece. I can do tights (or slim pants), boots and a little jacket if it’s cold. On warm days, wearing this is like pulling on a T-shirt and walking out the door without worrying about finding pants. Dresses are magic.

This skirt is a vintage piece begging for a West Side Story dance number — quintessential Puerto Rico. The ribbed tank is from Old Navy.

These are my indestructible Saltwater Sandals, which I grew up wearing. I’ve had this pair for years. They come in tons of colors, and again, zero blisters. They’re made for walking on the beach, so sand isn’t an issue — so much more pleasant than flip-flops thwacking sand against your calves.

These earrings are also from Claire’s. You definitely have to dig, but they have some great deals in there.

I bought this dress years ago in New York to supplement what I’d packed for a Morning News retreat. It’s Club Monaco, and I got it on super sale. It packs down to nothing, so I always throw it in to wear over my suit, which you can see in this photo.

Claire’s again, all from the same shopping trip. Can you tell my accessories were getting outdated?

I haven’t worn shorts in a hundred years, because of the glare. People gasp on the street and throw bottles of sunscreen at my head.

These shorts have little bronze sailor buttons up the front, which is spectacular. I’ve contemplated wearing them as bikini bottoms, because they’re kind of short for shorts, but very demure as swimsuit bottoms, eh? I forget the brand, but I had to seam-rip an enormous metal tag off the back, seriously the size of a belt buckle, so we’ll let them work their marketing magic elsewhere. The shirt is Banana Republic.

This is the very best swimsuit in the entire world. It’s by Donna Karan, and I’ve had it for three years. When retro suits made a tentative comeback, I checked in every day online until it went on sale, because I can’t justify spending over $100 on a swimsuit. Which is silly because I wear them for like a decade, but still. The most awesome thing about this awesome suit is, if you’re having a crisis of thigh confidence, you can pull down the outer layer to make it into a very short dress, like so:

Action wear! Actually, this shot makes it look a little shorter than can go. This is more illustrative:

I love it because I can wear it with a T-shirt in the hotel elevator while I’m heading to the pool, and I don’t feel totally naked. In this photo, I’m heading out to pick mangoes from the hotel fruit trees with Melissa. We made Mango cocktails to enjoy in the pool. Sounds amazing, right? But they were actually terrible. I have no idea what we did wrong, but we did it all the way. The bag is Envirosax. I have a set I use as travel totes if I can’t fit a big purse in my suitcase.

Not only did Intel sponsor my trip, they also sponsored my jammies. Leggings are from H&M, the shirt was a gift in lieu of the apparently rare Ajay Bhatt rockstar T-shirt that haunts my dreams (watch for it here at 14-16 seconds).

I’ve mentioned before that I try to pack PJs that can double as an outfit. This is what I packed in lieu of jeans, in case we got a chance to go horseback riding. We didn’t end up doing it, but I did do a lot of napping, so no harm no foul.

Regrets? Holy, holy, I should have packed a second swimsuit. We almost never left the water while I was there. I ended up with angry chafing on my side that looked like something laid eggs under my skin. I showed it to Melissa.

Melissa: GEEEEZE!
Me: I’m not going to worry unless it hatches.
Melissa: Signs your Prozac is Working too Well.

Also, it’s great to have flip flops to wear as slippers. I always regret not throwing in some flip flops.

Next trip I’ll tell you what’s in my toiletries bag too. It’ll be like sneaking a look at my medicine cabinet when you’re drunk at a dinner party, but without all the dental floss. See you then.

May 6 2009

DIY J Crew Astrid Sweater with Ruffles

Remember the pink sweater I started after seeing the project over at Orange Beautiful? It’s finished!

DIY Ruffled Cardigan - Mighty Girl

Is this not the grown up version of a tutu? It is quite possibly the pinkest thing I have ever owned. When I wear it, I smell like Bing cherries in a bed of warm cotton candy.

The original J Crew Version was $425, and isn’t available anymore, but I followed the step by step on Orange Beautiful to make this one.

I did things a little differently, because her version required more patience than I could muster, so here’s a run through if you want to make one for yourself. Start with a jacket or slightly boxy sweater, and then embellish it thusly:

1. Buy some fabric. The original rosettes are silk charmeause, but I chose polyester chiffon, because I wanted the flowers to be fluffy instead of cascading. You’ll need about 4 yards of whichever you choose.

2. Cut the fabric in strips and fold it to size. You want your petals to be about 4″ H x 2.5″ W. So I cut my fabric in strips, then folded the strips in half several times until I had a stack of material about the right size. This doesn’t need to be an exact science, but you want something that looks kind of like this:

3. Sew a knot in the middle of the stack to hold the pieces together, and then cut along the folds to create a grouping of square “petals.”

4. Cut the corners off the stack of squares until you have a roughly oval shape:

5. Here’s where it gets a little tedious. Take three layers of fabric at a time, bunch them by hand, and then pass the needle through a few times until you have the ruffles you want. Repeat with the next three layers and so on, until you have a finished rosette:

6. If you don’t like the effect, go back in with your needle and tease apart any layers that are too clumped or whatnot. The back of my rosettes looked like this:

7. When you have about 30 flowers, attach them to your sweater or jacket by hand. I’d wait until you’ve mostly finished the flowers to affix them, because your rosettes will get better as you go along, and you’ll want the prettiest ones up by your face, right? (I didn’t do this, and I wish I had).

8. When all the flowers are affixed, fill in any gaps by sewing down the top and bottom petals of the flowers in areas that need attention.

9. Pull away any stray threads from the flowers’ raw edges.

10. Wear your sweater around the house for a few hours, and pause to trade bon mots with imaginary dignitaries whenever you pass a mirror.

Cute! Now where am I going to wear it? Someone please get married. Thank you.

Apr 15 2009

Packing Light: New York City Edition

So this is every item of clothing I packed for five days in New York. My goal was to fit everything in my hiking backpack (plus a little rucksack for the plane), because unwieldy luggage really affects trip quality. I hate dreading the subway stairs, or sleeping through my first day because I’m exhausted from lifting my suitcase.

I wore one outfit twice, and everything fit neatly in my hiking backpack. I brought two pairs of shoes so I could change things up if my feet started to hurt, but only ended up wearing one.

How To Pack Light for a Trip to  New York City | Mighty Girl

How crazy cute is this ducky yellow hat? I know! Bryan hates it, because he is blind. Anyway, the skirt, sweater, and hat are all thrift store scores, and the neck warmer was a gift from a friend who got it on Etsy. The gloves are from Ann Taylor and I got the purse in Argentina, which is also where I got…

The magical, one-pair-of-shoes-for-this-whole-trip boots! They’re a metallic navy blue that goes with everything. I’ve actually made out with them. They taste like gumdrops.

This is me, Zoolander style, in a layered look that worked well for New York’s freakishly schitzo weather (Rain? Snow? Hot Sun? The hell, New York. You’re lucky I brought magic boots.) Everything I’m wearing here is also thrifted, except the hat, which is H&M. I’m wearing a long-sleeved turquoise tee, a sweater with a surprisingly warm silk scarf tied as an ascot, all under a corduroy blazer. In retrospect, the cardigan was a little bulky under that blazer, but I was nice and warm.

Beloved JCrew Red Pants! I’m showing incredible restraint in this photo, as it’s practically impossible not to do karate poses in these. Paired with a black turtleneck sweater and fingerless arm warmers, which were hand knit with love by a stranger (thanks again, Etsy). This look is matchy-matchy, but I’m pretty Doris Day about wardrobe matters, so I like it. I got the heavy wool wrap at a little boutique in Vermont when I was preggo. Best maternity to regular wardrobe transition ever, plus it doubles as a blanket on the airplane.

Nothing is hotter than posing alone in front of a mirror in your hotel room. Do you feel the heat? There’s the blazer again, this time with vintage wide-leg jeans and a circle scarf from H&M. American Apparel also makes circle scarves, and you should get one, as they are crazy versatile.

When I take the blazer off, I pull the scarf down around my shoulders over this long-sleeve tee I got at Target. That tee is awesome, by the way. I have monkey arms and a long torso, and Mossimo makes proportions just right for me.

These are my jammies. In a pinch, you can pull your hair into a ponytail, belt the shirt, and wear this out with flats. Or you can just watch Top Chef reruns in your hotel bed while you cram mini-bar chocolate in your mouth. It’s perfect for that.