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Life of Colleen

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·· This blog has moved
·· Mrs. Peel...
·· Continued wardrobe meanderings
·· Happy Friday!
·· Happy Monday!
·· They all end up doing Elvis
·· More wardrobe meanderings
·· Further wardrobe meanderings
·· Should strapless be scary?
·· Happy Saturday!

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Happy Saturday!
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-03-13 at 9:00 PM (Pacific)

International Women's Day - Iranian Embassy - Ottawa, Canada March 8th 2010 (Pt. 1)

I got the skirt.

printed skirt

Mmmmm...even nicer than in the pic. I'd envisioned it as a "slap it on, it's Friday" thing, but it's actually formal enough to wear during the week.

The fabric is thicker than it appears; it's rayon but feels more like a fairly substantial cotton knit. The side "ruffle" is comprised of two pieces of cloth sewn together, engineered to fall as if it were a ruffle. The skirt is lined, with two pockets...and even the sides are interesting. The fabric is not lined up to match perfectly, but it doesn't have to be, because the pattern flows as if the sides were in fact lined up. In real life, the print is even more sprightly, as if some mad artist had scrawled it in a fit of passion.

Because the skirt is not flared (nor is it tight), you could conceivably cover the top part of it with a cardigan or pullover sweater, if you wanted a subtler effect.

All in all...sweet.

harlow silk chemise top

This is so cute!

Like the J. Crew Black Blossom Nico Skirt--based on the image alone, not something I'd normally consider. But, in person, the deep blue version of this is to die for.

The other colors...the pinky-red one was cheesy-looking, like bad lingerie. The lime green and orange versions...hm...not bad, particularly the orange. But the blue was dead-on; looked truly vintage, what with the antiqued lace and deep blue crinkly-ish silk. It reminded me of a vintage silk bed jacket I had when I was a teenager.

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Wardrobe meanderings part 8
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-11-17 at 9:54 PM (Pacific)

j crew gathered tie-front top

This totally reminds me of a shirt I had when I was twelve or thirteen. I mean the general shape, tie neckline and lovely pink color. To the point I was tempted to buy it. But, eh...how useful is this particular top? You'd have to see it in person, to determine its casualness or formality.

I don't really have much to say; I've been knackered lately. It's the worst time of year for my department--or the best, depending on how enamored you are of being, well, knackered. I'm okay with it. One trick is to take a nap when you get home, for even an hour.

sundance queen anne camisole

Love this...not sure what I'd do with it though. The lace appears to have been sewn over a cut-out area of the camisole. Argh! What you want is a solid neckline, with the lace sewn over that. Still, it's quite pretty.

jjill ice cream

And finally... It's not the clothes...it's the ice cream. (Although a part of me craves the velvet jacket, in a 1970's kind of way.)

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Wardrobe meanderings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-07-19 at 4:15 PM (Pacific)

sundance crinkled silk skirt

I love this image. It's not a look I would ever copy, but that is the point. This ensemble works perfectly for this particular woman.

That's been my stock wardrobe advice (which no one ever listens to), for years. Wardrobe is seldom the thing itself. I could buy these items and wear them, but the look would be wrong for me. If this girl walked into a room, the air would brighten; the rose skirt is ideal for youth, and the dressy-casualness (sorry for the horrible hyphenation...casual-without-looking-like-a-slob-ness?) would work across a variety of social situations and weather.

Hence...I don't often look at another woman's clothes with the thought: That looks great, I want to buy something exactly like it. I tend to look at clothes as components. How is this component going to fit into my life? or is it?

I could use the blouse, actually; not the remainder.

star shoe stretcher

I've done some study of shoes, lately. A shoe is an approximation; the odds are good it's not going to fit your foot until it's broken in. Hence the notion of stretching the shoe. You can pay a shoe repair place to do it, but I don't see anything wrong with doing it yourself.

I haven't tried it yet but can admit I look forward to doing so. I asked at a shoe shop; apparently the "shoe stretching" spray or liquid they sell you, amounts to rubbing alcohol and water. You could use a spray bottle and make some yourself. The readymade one is quite inexpensive though; it's your call.

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Dreams of Californication
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-05-23 at 7:36 PM (Pacific)

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Californication"

Since this version got yanked from Youtube--and doubtlessly will be yanked from Guba, eventually--you might as well watch it now. My favorite part involves driving on the Golden Gate Bridge (who hasn't wanted to do it that way?).

loreal everpure haircare

Hermmm...years after sulfate-less shampoos became a miniature rage, L'Oreal cranks out their line of same. I haven't tried 'em, though I suspect they are good (L'Oreal being eerily adept at haircare); I've long used health food store shampoos to avoid color-fading ingredients (you will need to read product labels, if that's what you're after).

sundance catalog madeleine dress
Sundance Catalog's Madeleine dress

I saw this in person today. It's not as mellifluous as pictured...the colors seemed a bit harsh. Whilst this looked prettier than in the image (ah, my obsession with white shirts):

sundance catalog madeleine dress

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Sundry thoughts
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-05-11 at 7:40 PM (Pacific)

crinkled silk tank
crinkled silk tank

Oh, get outta here with that crinkled, no-iron, washable silk tank. I've actually tried this on; it's not worth the retail price imo, buuuuut...it just looks so darn useful.

Even the shade pictured--it's deeper in real life, more to the ecru than to the cream--you could pair it with so very many different skirts and slacks, and the deeper colors and reasonable arm-holes mean less sweat-stain worries. You wash it, squash it, hang it to dry...it works tucked in or worn loose, thanks to the nifty lace at the hem.

Am I talking myself into buying this thing? Eh...but I am up for something similar.

madeleine dress

What caught my eye here was the sprightly, many-hued print. The all-is-made-in-China world o' apparel is ruled by prints of only two colors--much as pockets and extra fabric in the seams have bitten the dust.

madeleine dress detail

This looks like something I could totally not wear, but you never know.

"Candy" Iggy Pop featuring Kate Pierson
» Try this one

I love this unexpected duet. Michigan's Iggy Pop, better known as the Godfather of Punk, a shirtless dude jumping around before Anthony Kiedis (but after Jim Morrison), singing a love song with...Kate Pierson? half of the glamorous side of the B-52's (ask your mother). Yet, it works.

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Sundry thoughts and product reviews
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-04-25 at 10:36 PM (Pacific)

Was home sick for two days...with one of those weird colds from Hell, the kind I used to get all the time in Washington State. One staple of the Pacific Northwest is Sudafed (or the Costco version, at a better price).

Whilst guzzling generic Sudafed and painkillers, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands, and thoughts began to meander toward...our economy. Sure, there's an extremely ugly side to it; but in the long run, it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I feel it's like much of life. If you can last through the crappy parts, you end up on a higher plane.

When I was growing up (pre-Internet of course), if you wanted to shop for clothes, you went to New York City. :) Okay, some people actually did go to New York, but the rest of us had to settle for local department stores. There were Leggett and Smith & Welton, along with the prosaic (and now defunct) Monkey Wards, Sears, J.C. Penney and the like.

At the time I was constantly bitching why I couldn't find clothes similar to those in Seventeen magazine. There was some truth to it--"conservative" is too pale a term for 1970's Norfolk, Virginia--but, in retrospect, I was a lousy shopper. I "couldn't find a hooker in a whorehouse"; there were good clothes about, I just had no strategy.

So--even as b & m choices morphed from a mix of local stores and chains to...chains...and women coast-to-coast began to wear exactly the same clothes...simultaneously, a million online stores opened up. And just as the clever women of decades ago had their sources, and always looked smart while the rest of us clearly shopped at Monkey Wards, it's well to develop your own small list of where to go, for what.

While I was home, I started poking around on the Net to see what could be found locally. I actually like online shopping, in a deranged way--combing customer reviews of the item, trying to find someone with my body type--I think they should ask your measurements, for writing reviews. They are anonymous reviews after all. Shouldn't they ask for height, weight, and bust-waist-hip measurements? It sounds horrible, but wouldn't it be more helpful than your age range, which they do ask?

It should be voluntary, but I'll wager women who shop online would be more willing than not to share their measurements, because that's what's crucial to buying something you can't try on.

Yet, online shopping alone gets to be expensive. And so, in this early 2009, random, Google-flavored, Sudafed-induced stupor, I discovered four new places to shop for clothes locally. Hm. Not bad.

This is stellar when you're sick:

yogi ginger tea

According to my mil--if you have a runny nose, you need to drink much more water.

I'm one of those sad sacks who loathe drinking water, but I like plain hot water or hot tea. The Yogi ginger tea is surprisingly tasty, despite its herbal ingredients; it tastes overwhelmingly of ginger. The other components merely pop the ginger and keep it from going bitter.

sundance catalog riley linen shirt

At first blush, Sundance Catalog's Riley Linen shirt would appear yet another heartlessly-priced Sundance offering, however attractively presented. But I've seen it in person, and--in that uncanny sixth-sense o' Sundance, there is something to it. It's engineered...to be wrinkled.

Now, I don't care about wrinkles on my face (I know, I should care), so I'd hardly wish to care about wrinkles in my clothes. Though I am one of those freaky people who don't mind ironing--I'm not particularly good at it, but I am competent--it is time-consuming. This shirt struck me as being impossible to iron; you'd ruin the effect.

It's something I've sought, for quite a while...on travel-clothing sites and others...crinkled clothing, or items otherwise designed not to be ironed.

garnet hill button front scoop neck tee shirt

Garnet Hill Button-Front Scoop-Neck Tee review, part 2.

Garnet Hill came through with their free exchange policy, and I now have two of these shirts. Definitely, your bust size determines which size to order. I tried the Large, ran it through the dryer (even at low heat, most cotton items shrink one size when tumble-dried), and came up with something wearable. If you're really stacked, I have to question if even the XL would work or would pull across the bust.

You need a camisole under it; these guys are not kidding. The white one I got was more ordinary than the Dusty Aqua, and part of me rather wishes I'd gotten either Graphite (dark grey) or Paprika (the peppy burnt orange one), but this is a top you reach for when it's hot. For me, white or off-white is far more versatile (mix it with any summer-weight skirt or any pants).

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Sundance revisited; more skirt reviews
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-01-21 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

I made a pilgrimage...well, I went out to the b & m Sundance store in Corte Madera the other day. I don't know why I find it soothing to go there, exactly; I never end up buying much of what I'd gone there to see (thank G-d, poor wallet). But I always find something of interest, and never feel the trip was a waste.

I take it back about these:

sundance toasty tweed sweater

They're actually pretty decent-looking sweaters--I think I was confused, earlier on, as to what was what. Not something I need, but nice punchy colors. The red one above looked lovely, and the black one even better (in real life it's more a mixture of black and grey).

Checked out some skirts:

sundance pasa doble skirt

This was honestly pretty bad. I was expecting a sheer burnout layer with stylin' paisleys, but the sheer effect was hard to see, much less the paisleys, and the overall appearance was too casual for the price.

sundance jardin skirt

This was quite pretty, but too long to do much with. I suppose if you're in the market for a long skirt...but how often do you really need a long skirt?

My argument for even considering Sundance prices, is to try calculating your "cost per wear." The stock advice of a wardrobe blog...you are to buy a wool pencil skirt, diamond earrings, a button-down shirt, yadda yadda... I'm not knocking it, but what about women who don't work in a suit office? What are they really supposed to wear?

sundance golden flower skirt

This was kind of a bust, too. For one thing, the Sundance site claims this to be machine washable (one reason I looked it over in the first place), but the tag inside the skirt says Dry Clean. You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?

Besides that, it's a nice-enough looking skirt, but doesn't strike one as warranting the cost. It's just not versatile enough.

sundance lotus flower skirt

I have to love how the gores terminate in little gathered gores. The structure is quite unusual. But again with the uber length. What are you going to do with it? If it were even a bit shorter, it could be an interesting addition to your casual Friday/weekend stash, what with the black and silver.

Edited to add: They do have a Petite version of this, at 32 inches instead of 35. hermmmmm...

Thanks for reading!

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Sundance Catalog sale
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-12-26 at 8:29 PM (Pacific)

Sundance Catalog

I slogged out to Corte Madera today, along with all the other intrepid post-holiday recession-istas. It was difficult even finding a parking space that wasn't a spit-fit. For parallel parking I actually don't mind jacking the car into the spot, but for lot parking, my worst nightmare is some bastard flinging open his door and dinging mine.

It was well worth it, since the Sundance b & m store had the same markdowns as the site. Sundance is as bad as Jjill in that items don't always resemble their Internet or catalog photos. For example, I saw some of these:

sundance catalog toasty tweed sweater

...which I'd been semi-lusting over for quite some time. Machine washable, plus no wool (unfortunately, anything woollen attracts clothes moths around here). Not horribly expensive either. Yet in person, I was a bit underwhelmed, even over the red model above. The color was not saturated enough; when you want a red sweater, it's gotta be red.

However, the skirt:

sundance catalog nightfall cargo skirt

...was $30, down from $95. I had been pondering this skirt for a while. You can't lose with a black skirt (it comes in green as well as espresso brown, but I couldn't find the green in the store). A black skirt goes with everything; every top or sweater you ever owned or will ever own. I have a black cotton voile skirt I wear every week...the bugger is that it gets wrinkled, being voile, and I generally don't repeat the same skirt in the same week anyway. So I've been turning over the concept of two black skirts in my mind, for months.

A possible solution would be a black suede or leather skirt, which tends to look fresh no matter how badly you treat it, but that's a bit more formal-looking than I want for my workplace.

Another way is the prosaic black wool pencil skirt, but I wanted something different. I don't have a suit workplace, so again it would veer to the overly formal, and would require drycleaning to boot.

And the thing has pockets. How I crave pockets. Why do men's jackets have inner pockets, and ours don't? Don't hand me the crap that we carry purses. There's still no logic why our jackets can't have inner pockets.

I was afraid the skirt would be too short--on the model it's almost a mini--but factoring in the "model height skirt factor," it was a decent length on me. And the velveteen was quite warm, thick and cushy.

I was going to hit up Jjill afterward, but it seemed a bit redundant; what I'd wanted was a machine washable black skirt, and I got it for $30 at Sundance.

My solitary complaint was the Sundance store didn't have enough shoes and boots on hand. They did have these:

calleen cordero ballet flats

Calleen Cordero's studded ballet flats, handmade in the U.S., for a reasonable $159.99. These looked even nicer in person. There were sundry Frye boots and shoes, other boots, other shoes, but they needed more shoes. Where else are you going to buy shoes, outside of specialty shoe shops? The shoes at Nordstrom and Macy's are horrible, I don't even bother.

Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

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What I've been into, lately
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-11-02 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Wore this:

sundance catalog twill skirt

It was longer than I'd recalled; certainly longer on me than on the model (the "model height skirt factor"), plus I'd lost some weight, which wasn't planned. Still it's a cool skirt. I'm going to cook it in the dryer to shrink it (if you decide to do this, it's at your own risk!).

The skirt is a sort of dark grey green, and bells out at the bottom. Plus it's actually quite warm. It won't do ya the same as a wool skirt, but the weather here veers to the chilly more than to the outright cold.

dr. hauschka nasturtium and lemon shampoo

I've used this four times now. My scalp (irritated and itchy) feels better. To this point I'd been using Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo, which seemed to work better at first than over the long run. It's a decent basic shampoo, mind you, but this sort of itchy scalp...reminds me of my experiences with adult acne. You can't treat it by using what they tell you to use. You have to find something that works, not by stamping out the problem--which either creates new problems, or else loses effectiveness over time--but by gradually countering the cause of the problem itself.

dr. hauschka lipsticks

I'm so glad I replaced my Dr. Hauschka lipstick! I dunno...Hauschka isn't the most soigné brand out there, but it suits me. Somehow it evokes a lab...with mad scientists, working day and night, drinking beer on the job, yet what they produce is brilliant.

Between the time my last tube of Dolce wore down, and the sticky seal of my new tube got peeled away, I survived on an old tube of Clinique Apple Brandy Butter Shine lipstick. The color was pretty...dare I say even a bit prettier than Hauschka Dolce...but the formula! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Sorry, it was not moisturizing enough, at all, it was just depressing. One or two days into the new Dolce, and I felt quite at home again.

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Wardrobe meanderings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-27 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

sundance catalog skirts

Listening to: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, Blitzkrieg Bop (This song is cute with an English accent.)

Okay, so I finally got my fall/winter skirts. I just took the olive velveteen one out in fact, to look at (it's not cold enough to wear it yet). It's beautiful. In natural light, it morphed back to olive-dusted brown (had appeared greener in the shop).

The genius of this skirt is that it can be washed at home. That's one thing that struck me when I discovered J.Jill (the skirts are from Sundance Catalog, I'm just saying): the genius of J.Jill is that most of the items can be machine, or sometimes hand, washed. Granted you take a cut in fanciness. But, unless you're independently wealthy or are paying someone to take care of your clothes, time and money are key factors in building your wardrobe. I don't care to be either, so hey...

The only other fall/winter skirt I've been tempted by is from J.Jill in fact, but it's insanely difficult to find. I've never seen it in the b & m stores. It was on the website briefly before vanishing; I've spotted it in two print catalogs. It's a sort of grey herringbone gored skirt. Eh. I'm not in a rush.

What I really need now are shoes and boots. Those I want to spend money on, so I'm really not in a rush here. There are now many relatively inexpensive, comfortable-looking, decent-looking shoes about. And I could get those. But I've never been into owning a variety of shoes. What I like is owning one or two pairs of shoes that I'm totally crazy about. The shoe has to exist in a vacuum; it has to coordinate with my clothes, of course, but for me it's not a matter of matching particular shoes to particular outfits, if that makes any sense.

My next pair of shoes will have been made in the U.S. I decided that long ago.

I'm frantically in search of a sale or coupon code lol

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Jes MaHarry earrings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-23 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

sundance catalog spirit hoop earrings
sundance catalog save the ice caps earrings

I saw both of these when I visited the Sundance store in Corte Madera last weekend. The images don't do either pair justice, particularly the pearl set, which looks almost ordinary online.

In person, the pearls are quite large and more oval or oblong than round, while the solid gold hoops glow above, carefully hammered and worked into thickish arcs o' gold. That's the kind of work I want to do; it's my ideal interpretation of metal. The earrings have just enough "roughness" to show they were made individually, yet they're smooth and deftly formed...just enough breadth to show gold, yet versatile enough to wear with just about anything.

From the site: Jes MaHarry will donate 10% of proceeds from each purchase to combat global warming.

The top pair also struck me as glowing of gold...they're daintier than the pearls (and more affordable).

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Sundance Catalog Corte Madera store and skirts reviews
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-20 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

I journeyed to the Sundance store at Corte Madera this weekend. Actually it's not that far, and I'm beginning to warm to the Corte Madera mall itself. Yesterday I sighted a buffed security guard with a bicycle in the parking lot. I felt gratified, not only because he was buffed and had a bicycle, but because of the visible security.

There's a tower where you can climb up (endless, at my age) flights of steps--to a spectacular 360-degree view of azure sky, sparkling Bay, rangy Richmond Bridge, and dark hills.

The Sundance store itself is lovely. Friendly service, no pressure to buy. They don't have the full range of online items, but that's to be expected; they did have the skirts I'd come for, to whit:

sundance carnegie skirt
sundance carnegie skirt

I'm including both images because the skirt is a cross between the pure green-olive of the upper one, and the olive-dusted brown of the lower. Basically it's an olive green skirt with a brown undertone. The construction...I can admit I was hoping it would be lined, which it isn't, but the construction seems sound. The cut is forgiving for middle aged figures. And the fabric is as soft as you'd imagine.

The red version of the skirt was quite orange. On the site it appears strong red with an orange tone, but I feel it's almost as much orange as it is red.

The sizes for this run a tad large; you might go a size smaller. The 8 fit me, where on the chart I would have dithered between 10 and 12.

I also tried the corduroy one, which is currently on sale:

sundance long-lined corduroy skirt

The green was of more interest to me than the deep chocolate brown or the butternutty golden brown one. The green was a fantastic blend of celadon and grey, with a subtle hint of blue...sighs. It really would go with just about any top or sweater in my 'drobe. But it just wasn't right.

It was long, as described. I'm 5'5" and on me, this was officially a long skirt. Not sloppy-long, but the right length for someone that height seeking a long skirt. I wouldn't recommend it to someone much shorter than that. (I don't wear heels, which could be a mitigating factor.)

The fabric feels washed, totally flexible, with none of the stiffness corduroy is prone to--so color, fabric and price are good.

The cut though, imo you need a nice butt to fill it out, otherwise you look as straight as a ruler. If you've got the butt for it, you might want to try it. I was afraid it would be too casual, what with the back pockets and front buttons, but it isn't. The fabric and colors are nice enough to make it office-appropriate, at least for a business casual workplace. If you wore a sweater with it, in fact, you wouldn't see either anyway.

The sizes are truer here and the 10 fit me.

They had the black and espresso brown versions of this one (they might have had the olive green, but I didn't catch it):

sundance nightfall cargo skirt

Argh? I'm too old for this length of skirt. It's too bad; I love the idea of practical cargo pockets paired with lush cotton velveteen, and the shades offered were useful.

I didn't bother trying it on, because of the length...these aren't inexpensive clothes, so "almost right" won't do it.

Finally, this:

sundance twill skirt

This isn't as green as in the image; it's as much grey, if not slightly greyer than green. The twill isn't thick and stiff as I'd feared, but rather thinner and soft. I hesitated some and didn't buy it Saturday, because I wondered if it wasn't too casual for the office. I wouldn't pay this price for a casual-only skirt. But it bothered me all night that I hadn't gotten it. I checked the site and saw only sizes 4 and 16 remaining (in this I need a 10).

Its charm lies in the godets...I barely recalled what a godet was and had to look it up, but it's the triangular piece of cloth sewn in at the bottom of the skirt. It's different from a gore, which is a tapered piece of cloth rather than a triangle; many skirts are gored, including this one, but godets aren't as frequently used.

Here it all just looks engineered, and the cut is flattering and even subtly sexy (at least it is if you're an engineer lol ). Grey is one of the more ideal neutrals: not harsh like black, easier to maintain than white, a bit more versatile than brown, more formal-looking than khaki.

I ended up getting the Carnegie skirt on Saturday and the Twill on Sunday. Which concludes my fall/winter skirt shopping, at least in this price range--hopefully for some years.

It's more money than I'd normally drop, but these are not impulsive purchases. Cheapskates seldom impulse-buy, and will spend money only if they think it means spending less in the long run.

I didn't buy wool skirts--much as I crave a stylin' wool plaid skirt--because the weather here is temperate enough to make wool moths an issue, as well as negate the actual need for wool skirts.

Machine washability is key; the cost of drycleaning should be factored into the cost of the item, and most wool is dryclean only. I went out of my way to find office-friendly clothing I could wash myself.

And, I feel a skirt should be special. If you have a suit job, it makes sense to regard skirts the same as pants: "I need a pencil skirt" or "I need a black skirt"--and then buy the best-quality one you can afford. But non-suit skirts are parallel to dresses, in personality and individuality.

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Sundance Carnegie Skirt part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-18 at 12:02 PM (Pacific)

sundance carnegie skirt

Just a quick note here...the "brown" skirt I'd posted about earlier turns out to be, ah, much greener than originally depicted.

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Sundance b & m store is open, and henley review
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-12 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

sundance store open

They finally opened the Sundance store at Corte Madera. It's the second b & m Sundance shop, though it's in the works to open fifteen more over the next few years (according to my Net noodlings anyway).

I haven't gotten out there yet; just as well, as likely the opening was crowded. I don't mind crowds, but I loathe shopping in one.

Some time ago, I bought this Sundance henley online:

sundance henley

This is a truer image than the one they used for the henley alone. :p Still...doesn't this appear to be a cream-colored shirt? Off-white, even? It's actually as much grey heathering as cream background.

And the sizing is...weird. I dithered between trying medium or large, based on the size chart. I can do medium as long as the bust is cut "generously"--to me it's not particularly generous, but many garments today seem cut small there. (If I were cynical, I'd say the makers were being stingy with fabric.)

So I went for large. How large could it be? It's cotton, so I could always fry it incrementally in the washer and dryer (if you try this, it's at your own risk!)...or just fold up the sleeves (years of borrowing men's clothes have made this rather mundane to me). But if I went for medium and the bust shrank, I'd be stuck fiddling around with snaps, which doesn't always work perfectly.

The large henley...the sleeves are the main "large" part. They're hella long. Even after I fried the shirt, they were still a bit long. I'm too lazy to put them up; it's a casual shirt, and has buttons on the cuffs; I should be able to get away with a small fold.

The bust just fit--not tight at all, but not sized in proportion to the sleeves! I'll venture the medium wouldn't have done it.

The rest of the shirt...a bit shorter in length than I would have liked, but not "too short."

So...I had this shirt, of an odd grey-cream mixture, sleeves a tad long, and I wore it.

The thing is this: this is the most comfortable shirt I've worn since...hmmm...ever. It is preternaturally comfortable. Our climate (San Francisco Bay Area) is supposed to be temperate, but it's not that simple...it'll alternate between hot and cold, from day to day or even hour to hour. On the day I wore the henley, I had a leather jacket and cotton sweater over it. The day prior to that, it was tank top weather.

This goes to my pet theory that fibers are key, and the difference is not always obvious, nor reflected in price. I bought this shirt because: a.) I needed to replace my white henley; b.) this looked similar--nicer even, what with the rows of iridescent shell buttons; c.) it was very reasonably priced and d.) I wanted to give Sundance a shot.

When I saw the shirt, I wasn't impressed, but when I wore it--homina homina homina!

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Wardrobe meanderings part 2
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-05 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)


In our capitalist society, we tend to get two diametrically opposed dictates about style and fashion. One is that we are to be individuals, and know ourselves intimately, and choose only items which flatter. Sounds great, but everything we're bombarded with in our media is based purely on sales, and has little if anything to do with the individual. In fact we are pushed to conform, by the majority of what we see.

It occurred to me at one point, whilst drooling over some fashion magazine image--that outfit looks great...on the model. If you picked it apart--the actual items of clothing--and imagined yourself within them, it wouldn't work.

Further, the thought occurred the majority of fashion doesn't work anyway. Individual items and styles, colors and fabrics, can work brilliantly and inexpensively, but it's not simple, it's a synergy.

So it's like, what do you put on in the morning? You need to own enough pieces to assemble a different puzzle each day, yet the puzzles should be consistent, comprised of the finite set of components which meld with, ah, you. Your hair, your eyes, your figure, height, profession, lifestyle, budget, time allowance for shopping and clothing care, yadda yadda...

Here are some questions I've asked myself, because the object has always been to narrow...not reduce necessarily, but to be able to get up every morning and look good for that day.

Pants or skirts?

Pants are more fashionable now, or else the ubiquitous pencil skirt. I don't wear either.

Mind you I can dig either, on someone else. I work in a heavily male-dominated field, so it's like everyone wears pants. Pencil skirts are cute, but for those you need the entire look--the right kind of shoes and blouse--and that look is too formal for my job. So for me, both are out.

I went for a longer skirt, below the knee, and I have a couple longer ones too. This is a looser, flared fit. I'm enough of a sucker to have bought patterned skirts...love 'em, and they're easier to find...but they're much harder to match to blouses. A good, solid-colored skirt is worth a lot more than a good patterned one imo.

So, it's pants or skirt, length of either, material of either, fit of either, and what it goes with.

If you went with the skirts--tights, stockings or bare legs?

Stockings are supposed to be totally out of fashion. Why? Who cares? Again it's about making decisions for yourself.

I've worn stockings since I was a teenager, and they've been in style since there were stockings, except in the late 1960's - early 1970's, when the "hippie" look reigned, and jeans or tights were "in." So I need not worry about stockings...I like them, history has favored them, and in a few years they'll be back in fashion anyway.

I do have my eye on these tights:

sundance smartwool tights

They're $42, not an impulse buy--but again I don't wear tights often. If I bought these, they would remain pretty pristine for a long time. What intrigues me is the "SmartWool" they're fashioned from. Like Supima cotton, it's a specialized fiber, and I'll be interested in "non itchy" wool. These are machine washable too, which makes them even more tempting, but I'm happy to wait for a sale.

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Sundance shoes made in the U.S.A.
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-20 at 11:22 AM (Pacific)


This was originally a "sale" post, but the sale's over with...

I'm going to pass on this myself, after rabidly combing through the site; I've decided to save some money for shoes. Plus, the three skirts I really like...are not "it" exactly (and for these prices I feel what you buy should be "it" exactly).

On a side note, I counted no less than three brands of American-made footwear: Cydwoq, Calleen Cordero and US Artisan. And, I think, some Frye boots. The Sundance site doesn't bother telling you what's what, so you're stuck squinting at the pictures.

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Wardrobe: outfit composition
posted by Colleen Shirazi at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

sundance duende skirt

Here's, ah, why I never "shop by outfit." I wouldn't care to buy either the top or the skirt (the shoes, maybe, even though I need warmer shoes than that now).

It's not that I have anything against the outfit per se. In fact it's one of the nicest outfits I've seen in a long time--on the model, and in the context of it being a photo shoot.

The sweater is one of those lambswool/angora/nylon blends that calls for hand washing and drying flat--not practical for me (on the site it says to dryclean it). Likewise, the skirt is silk--dryclean only, with a spate of ruffles which would make cleaning it any other way time-consuming (if not disastrous).

Yet...I love this picture, because the composition of the outfit is perfect. A light yellow top is ideal for blonde hair; one of the best colors. The top is sufficiently pale to pair with black and not get a bumblebee look. A black skirt with nude legs and black shoes: simple, classic, terrific.

Outfit composition imo cannot be over-emphasized. Individual items are great, but it's the total package that makes the impression. If you plugged in some way more expensive shoes here, would the outfit look better? Probably not, except to the few people who know the price of the shoes. Most people don't. It's art. If every element in the painting works, who cares how much that Prussian blue pigment cost down at the art store?

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What I've been into, lately
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-17 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Made this:

sundance aquamarine bracelet

I stumbled across it on the Sundance site, and realized I actually had all the components handy to make it. Of course mine is not the same grade as the Sundance one. Theirs is solid karat gold, which adds a lot, while mine is goldfilled; theirs uses a somewhat higher grade of aquamarine. Since I'm going to wear it, not sell it, I didn't feel too guilty about copying, even down to the little white pearl (I used one that had a flat side to be a bit different). It's a charming design.

It felt good making jewelry again. My daughter cleared off a space in her room so I could make it there. Aren't daughters great!

Found this:

Dariush - Dastaye To

I've heard this song many, many times; it's one of my favorites. But I never knew what it was called until now.

Well crap!:

red lasso

I was going to add something amusing here, but I see Red Lasso has been sued by a couple of networks. sighs

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Wardrobe development, continued
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-15 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

May I firstly declare, in writing, upon this day of September 15, 2008, that I am, have always been, and will always be, a confirmed cheapskate.

That does not mean I'm averse to spending money, and sometimes large amounts of it. A low price does not mean a better bargain. Please do not confuse these terms.

A minor example would be the Nars eyeshadow duos previously mentioned. They're $32 a pop now, I think. You can buy eyeshadow duos at Target or drugstores for far less than that.

The thing is this. The Nars duos work. I don't need to shop for eyeshadow; I haven't for years. Other shadows, including MAC and Urban Decay, can turn hard in the pan after a year, to the point they must be discarded.

But it's more than that. The Nars shadows look good...better than Dior or Lancome. So I need not look at other brands of shadow, wondering what I'm missing.

Time has a monetary value, along with gas and wear and tear on your car. The key is to find your brand of eyeshadow, whatever that may be. I decided up front I'd be willing to pay Dior prices if Dior did what I wanted it to do. Dior is okay. Nars is better.

Ah...so I'm pretty much finished with my current wardrobe development. At my job we don't wear suits, so it's more involved than buying a set of suits. Still, for any job which doesn't require a uniform, you need to develop your work clothes, and it should be individual. Oftentimes individual costs money.

The only things left on my to-buy list are a fall/winter skirt, and better shoes (I'm hoping to fit one pair into this category) and a pair of boots. These are all going to be expensive, but I've planned it out so I don't need to buy any of them right away.

The skirt is surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, depending on the depth of your cynicism) hard to find. I have a plethora of summer skirts--these should be inexpensive, being only lightweight cotton or linen--but the fall skirt, I don't want tons of those, but it has to be good.

I started out looking at this one, from the Sundance catalog:

sundance carnegie skirt

It has most of the specs--machine wash, cotton velveteen (likely nice and cushy), good length--sisters, I'm almost 43 years old. I don't wear short skirts. This looks as if it wouldn't wrinkle easily, and the design seems flattering and easy to wear. It's also in no way trendy. This skirt could have been made twenty years ago, or could be done twenty years from now.

The sole bugger here is the color. It comes in a lovely red, and this brown. Plugging either into a swatch of my Photoshop wardrobe:

photoshop wardrobe

...shows that a nice brown or red skirt is not going to be the most useful color.

They have a green twill skirt:

sundance twill skirt

...where the color is more compatible, but twill is not the material I want.

Leafing through the other skirts on the site, I rejected them all, even though most of them would totally work on me. The object is not whether the piece will work on you. Is this piece going to work on you ten years from now? How many times will you have worn it in that decade?

That's strictly from perusing the website, of course. They are going to open a b & m Sundance locally :D and trying on is believing.

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