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Life of Colleen

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What I've been into, lately
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2010-01-18 at 11:26 AM (Pacific)

handmade labradorite pendant necklace

I made this labradorite pendant necklace almost two years ago today (the vermeil beads in back counterweight the stone in front). Admittedly it has lain in a drawer, more often than not, since. Brought it out today...it's perfect. I've found making something, or buying something, years in advance to when you'll need it, is not a bad idea.

deep red supima cotton turtleneck
Supima cotton/Modal turtleneck, made in the U.S.A.

I'm pretty much turtlenecked out, thanks to some spectacular sales.

Originally I was seeking a deep red top of some kind, and wasn't too picky about the shade. Deep red has been one of my favorite colors since I was a kid: all kinds of deep red, such as a red-wine hue, or pomegranate, or a color veering toward dark purple, or a faded deep red approaching orange.

Contemplated this:

burgundy cowl neck top

It's pima cotton, made in Peru, and while that sounds a bit unnecessary I've found pima cotton items made in Peru to be next to indestructible. They were sold out of this top in Large though...I don't mind buying any cotton top in Large, so long as the company doesn't produce mega-baggy tops, since the bust is sure to fit. If it's really too big I can always "cook" it in the dryer.

deep red top

This one (far right)...eh...it's pima cotton and Modal, and likely looks more luxe in real life. But how versatile? When it's cold, I don't want a scoop neck; when the weather warms, will I be as obsessed with deep red? Probably not.

On the purpler end of the spectrum:

reddish purple top

The one in front still has enough red to be of interest...it's described as a fine-gauge pima cotton top, with a subtle puffed sleeve detail. But it would have been $80.95 with shipping (assuming no sales tax). If I'd needed a lightweight pullover sweater, that would have been one thing, but I didn't.

I wound up with the first shirt. It went below $10 from its original $52, and they had it in my size. But I haven't worn it. It's stashed away, likely for next year.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Fortune Faded" (live)

Debated a bit whether to post the official video for this song. The official version has a unique lighting effect (created using glow sticks, according to the comments), but keeps getting pulled off Youtube. If the group is good enough, live is better than canned, anyway.

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posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-01-12 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Is "Troika" superior to "Sheer Randomness" or even "Yadda Yadda"? I myself dislike obscurity in blogging; that's when you wind up with tales of someone else's boring personal life. At least a troika means three items. Wait and see I suppose.

U2 - Two Hearts Beat As One

You'll have to keep in mind, though I've heard these songs many times--because in those days, you'd buy the album, if you wanted to hear anything...then you'd play it from start to finish, since it was analog--I've barely seen the videos. It's funny, seeing them now.

Isn't Adam Clayton (aka Naomi Campbell's ex) dishy? He was always the most overlooked member of the band. I read it was his bass-playing which defined the sound of U2...because he hated being in the background, he made the bass notes higher, which forced the guitar higher than that.

cydwoq office shoe

Shoe porn alert! Bag and Shoe

Why can't these guys be on the West Coast? Preferably the Northern part of Cal? :D Not only do they carry the exact Cydwoqs I want, they're in the right colors too. The key is being able to try them on, in your size, and to have a variety to sample in the first place. Out here, Bulo Shoes in the City are good. But more would be merrier.

LL Bean Supima cotton tee shirt review/update:

supima cotton tee shirts

Dang if these aren't the best tee shirts. Initially I balked at the higher cost, since I've worn Target's Mossimo shirts at half the price. But these are easily twice as versatile, and will no doubt wear at least twice as long. The sizes run a bit large--I got a medium, where I'd get large in the Mossimo tees--you don't get the "bust pulling" thing. The sole complaint I have is the body could be a skosh longer...though, if it is a trade-off, I prefer more fabric in the bust (seriously, modern shirts scrimp on fabric).

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Wardrobe analysis, 2009: Sweaters
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2009-01-01 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Happy New Year!


Sweaters are akin to lipsticks: tempting and facile to buy. You may easily end up with a ton load, and use only the same few, over and over again...so it's well to analyze what you do end up wearing.

In retrospect, there were two cardigans I donned much of the time, before the weather turned and I switched to pullovers: an off-white cotton zip-front cardigan from Eddie Bauer, which I have no image of...it's one of those generic Hong Kong style cotton sweaters...and this one, from Banana Republic:

banana republic grey cardigan

Neither strikes one as extraordinary, but that's not why I wear what I do. I want something that works.

Off-white, or any light color, cotton is the best material for our Bay Area summers, because it's chilly in the morning, morphs into sweating heat mid-afternoon, then dips back into chill in time for you to walk to your public transport. You're going to be screwed until you figure out layers...and at least some of it is psychological. I had to remove my light-colored cotton cardigan only a few times this entire summer. Yet it's high-necked and it zips, so you can adjust how warm you want it to be.

Plus, it washed well (precious little pilling, for all the washer abuse I gave it). The one thing it couldn't take was tumble drying, even on low heat. That knocked the cling out of the knit row at the bottom. I'm still recovering, coaxing it back into shape while damp.

The grey one is the perfect color--dark grey, not the crappy medium grey women seem to get stuck with. And the fabric is soft. I've also washed it many times (in a mesh bag; I'm terrified of it pilling) and weirdly, it seems to like the odd tumble dry I've had to give it.

Neither is useful in winter. Here I brought out old sweaters...pullovers I've had for more than ten years, some around twenty. Since they're not new, and I haven't photographed them...eh...most of them are men's sweaters. Men have better sweaters anyway, but particularly pullovers.

I integrated some new ones into the mix:

supima cotton sweaters

These are Supima cotton; I was curious if there were a substantial quality difference. The black and green ones have washed gratifyingly well, but the dark navy blue is edging toward wear at the neck and sleeves. To be fair, I bought it first, but I'm planning to mesh-bag all of them (you can find lovely mesh bags at a Japanese dollar shop, should you be lucky enough to have one).

What about wool? You still need wool, dreary as it is to take care of. I've found tightly-knit lambswool fares better than loosely-knit regular wool, but of course I'm slavering over the concept of machine washable wool and wool blends. This wool/acrylic black beauty, for example:

black wool acrylic blend sweater

Hm, looks like my off-white cardigan in construction, only with cabling. I'm hoping this will not only wash and wear better, wool-wise, but will also attract less in the way of clothes moths.

Which are actually not as indomitable as it would appear: there's a mass of information about clothes moths on the Net, and I've come to think washability of wool might be a factor in keeping them away. Apparently the moths are most attracted to wool which has been worn; the larvae consume your body oils, and any food residue, along with the wool itself.

So, questions for 2009 in Sweaters are--do clothes moths consume wool blends as heartily as pure wools? And are machine washable wools and blends less prone to moth attack? I'll write back here with my observations later on.

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Teeshirt meanderings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-10-26 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

ll bean supima cotton tee shirts

My tee shirts are wearing out, slowly but surely.

Last time I bought, I tried the Mossimo tees at Target (which now, apparently, go by Mossimos "Black" and "Red"). Not bad, actually, but not "it." My ideal tee shirt lasts years, several at least, without looking ratty. The lifespan of a Mossimo tee is about a year, certainly less than two. For the price, they last as well as you could reasonably expect, but I'd rather pay more and not have to replace as frequently.

Decided to try L.L. Bean's Supima cotton tees. It was either those or Land's End Supimas, and Bean has better and more colors, plus boatneck, turtleneck, and stand-up neck styles, all rendered in cuddly Supima cotton knit. (Still debating whether a stand-up neck looks a bit silly, as if you didn't have quite enough fabric to make a real turtleneck.)

In Land's End's favor, they carry Supima sweaters--cardigan, boatneck, turtleneck, etc.--which Bean does not. But let's talk tees for now.

I've never been big on colored tee shirts per se. My concern for hue selection has more to do with the turtlenecks, and styles other than your basic short sleeved tee. I end up reaching for a plain white or black tee more often than not.

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Wardrobe: Supima redux
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-27 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

ll bean tee shirts

Jeesh, where have I been? There is Supima cotton aplenty.

The above are from LL Bean; actually they don't make it that easy to find their Supima items (I searched for pima and opened each one). They don't seem to carry Supima sweaters, but do feature a wider variety of tee shirt styles than Land's End, with a broader range of colors.

The Supima organization has been around for quite a while (founded 1954), and I can't help wondering whether items I'd bought long ago, and had marvelled at their ability to withstand wash after wash, hadn't been made of this stuff, or fiber of a comparable grade. I knew it was the fiber itself--not brand, nor workmanship, nor weave. Hence the quest to identify the fiber.

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Wardrobe: Supima cotton overload
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-25 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

lands end supima cotton

I hesitated somewhat before selecting the topic of this post. After all, what could be more commonplace than a plain cotton tee shirt? Any point in blogging about one?

It's well to recall such a creature was once almost absurdly difficult to find. There was even a passage in Cheap Chic--a 1970's wardrobe bible, the first place I read about such concepts as Cost Per Wear--detailing exactly such a quest. The author went shopping in a major city for a plain, long-sleeved, solid-colored, 100% cotton tee shirt.

She ended up discovering a lone model at a store called Jax (Jaxx?). The shirt cost $12, which would be akin to paying $30 now for a plain tee shirt. Not through the roof, exactly, but high for what it is.

The author concluded, given the shirt was what she was looking for and came in a rainbow of colors, and given she couldn't find it anywhere else at a better price, $12 for the shirt was acceptable.

Tee shirts in those days...and for a long time, were synthetic or at best a blend. Typically they had a design or slogan printed on them. You could find plain ones, but those tended to be boxy men's tee shirts, where you had to snip out the neck or roll up the sleeves to feminize the look.

Now, of course, if you throw a rock, you'll hit a fitted, 100% cotton, non-embellished, decent-enough tee shirt. So now the challenge is rather finding one that won't fall apart after a year, doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and doesn't look hopelessly conservative.

For sheer spectral color selection, I defer to American Apparel (American-made shirts rather than American-grown cotton). Yet, apart from their unisex pieces, American Apparel is a juniors' sizing store. Not the place I'd go for basic pieces, in the main.

I stumbled across a cache of Supima cotton items on the Land's End site. Okay, I was searching specifically for Supima cotton on the Land's End site. I'm intrigued by the claim it wears better than non-licensed cotton.

At first everything looked...way square. Land's End used to have much nicer things, and now it's rather a J.C. Penney-looking site. Yet, what if there is something to it? I'll be interested to try some Supima from them.

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Wardrobe ponderings
posted by Colleen Shirazi 2008-09-11 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

I realize I opine far more about wardrobe than fashion. (Hence the wardrobe label of this blog.)

Fashion is for the young. Sure, I skim fashion articles, finding them harmless and sometimes interesting, but I seldom consider buying anything I see written up as such. I already know what I like. And I feel the strength of fashion lies in crystallizing images, spinning dreams into cloth, for people who haven't yet completely defined what they like.

Does that make sense? In my youth, I adored magazines, and can still recall exact photographs I saw when I was that age. Oh, they had this spread in Seventeen, with this gorgeous brunette wearing a series of black cotton clothes--very unusual and hard to find back then (most likely in the late 70's). I pined for those clothes (or to look like that brunette for that matter).

Now, should I read the same type of feature now, I'd think...hm, where would I wear such clothes? Could I wear them to work? How about the weekend? Would the pieces mix and match with what I already own? How colorfast are these clothes? It's worse than that actually; the truth is, I'd never even get that far. I would think straight off: nice, but not my style.

Well, I finally got two Supima cotton sweaters. (Wrote earlier about Supima cotton here.) So far...they're fabulous. Of course that doesn't mean a whole lot, since I haven't washed them yet, but I feel rather positive about them.

supima cotton sweaters

The "cream heather" one (left) I got for my daughter, while the dark navy (right) was for me. (The latter is a men's sweater; thought I'd give it a shot.) These weren't in stock at the b & m stores yet, so we were stuck ordering online, since I had a points certificate with Eddie Bauer.

The ladies' Supima v-neck runs a tad small, and the men's sweater runs large (I had a medium of it originally, based on the site measurements, but I was swimming in it.) So we ended up switching. My daughter looks best in clothes which aren't skintight (she's still growing), and I can always use another incarnation of the White Shirt (it fits more like a shirt than a sweater).

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