Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Blue, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

Hey, look, it's our kitchen. I recently made these curtains out of a really sturdy canvas I picked up in the Garment district. It took about 45 minutes with the ironing and help from my cheerful cohabitating assistant. Our old curtain, some Ikea monstrosity, did not match the orangey decor of our kitchen at all. Now we are all low-rent Marimekko.

Perhaps to match the new found color in the kitchen, I also started my outfit today with these very loud, very blue leggings. I just had to give a make up test to a student, and I figured if it is spring break, I will wear what I darn please. She didn't seem to mind. I just could not get over how blue my legs were. I even got a significant number of looks on the subway, and considering that I was neither muttering to myself, hocking spit against the doors, or throwing chicken bones, that is a relatively new experience. So while I remain more comfortable in my black tights, this was still pretty fun for another gloomy solid grey day in NY. They are on the transparent side, which is kind weird.

I also wore this outfit to fight about school reform on Facebook. Ah, what I did with my spring break.

Shirtdress: Brooklyn Industries (on sale)
Leggings: Target (available in a stunning array of colors)
Undershirt: Uniqlo
Boots: Mia

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

coral scarf close up

Edit: Sal from Already Pretty pointed out that my face is in the shadows, so it' s hard to see how the scarf works. This may help)

coral scarf close up, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

This looks like a book jacket photo. Reminder to self: continue working on the writing.

YLF challenge

YLF challenge, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

I regularly participate in Angie's Youlookfab forum. Not only because her blog is probably one of the major reasons that I started paying attention to style back 2007 or so, but also because I like the community of women (something that I am a late adopter to valuing).
Recently a forum member issued a challenge chain, in which forum members would get to know another person's style and challenge them to dress outside their comfort zone. Anne (not the co-contributor) very astutely noticed that I am a skirt/dress and neutrals kinda gal. It's hard to break out of my style rut, so this was a great activity. She challenged me to pants and some of the spring palette colors, which include turquoise, coral, violet, aurora and amparo blue. These are not colors readily available in my neutral heavy closet.

Image from

However, in a fit of fabric frenzy, I did pick up a few yards of faux eyelet coral summer weight woven cloth, which I quickly ripped into a raw edged scarf, and paired it with a lavender-ish long underwear shirt. I threw on my "professor" blazer and skinny jeans. I popped the collar and scrunched the sleeves to make it more casual. I hope I don't look like one of my frat boy students.

(eek! the challenges of a longer a torso: shirts never want to cover my belly)

edit: It's spring break. Only the folks at the laundromat saw me so far.

I don't wear pants that often, mostly because I like the comfort of skirts and because I think they flatter my longer torso more than pants. Also, when I moved to NY almost 2 years ago, I lost that 7 lbs from stress (ah, New York), and I have been loathe to invest in New Pants (which is a laborious activity for me). I did pick up these skinny jeans last winter, but the jury is still out on them. I think they look better with a longer top, as I am not overly fond of my hips in skinny pants.

I am also scared of oranges and yellow close to my face because of my skin tone. Any thoughts on the coral scarf?

Scarf: self made (ripped), probably about $0.50 (at $2.99/yard in the Garment district)

Jeans: Blank

Shoes: very old 9 West

Thermal underwear shirt: Uniqlo

Blazer: Esprit (two seasons ago)

Style Evolution

Did you all catch Sal’s absolutely fabulous post about style evolution on Already Pretty this morning?  Sal asked women of different ages about their style, style evolution and body image evolution over the years.  Her post has had me thinking about my own style evolution today.  So thank you, Sal and guest posters, for a great topic to explore :)

Whatever sense of style I may have now came after years of me not really caring how I looked or dressed.  Thanks to 15 years of Catholic schools (yes, 15 – my parents had me start pre-school before I even turned 3!) and their hideous polyester plaid skirts, style wasn’t even an option for me until after high school.  While in school, the only control I had over my personal fashion was the one shiny new pair of school shoes I got each year.  And like a little nerd, I picked penny loafers for more years than I’d like to admit (to my credit, it was the 80’s – that was in someplace, right?)  I mean sure, we had 3 different colors of Peter Pan collar blouses and endless sweater options, between vests, v-necks and cardigans.  But you can only do so much mixing of pastel blue, yellow and white.  Most jewelry wasn’t permitted, so I came into accessorizing pretty late in the game too.

After high school I was just so happy to not have to wear a skirt everyday that I completely stopped wearing them.  Although I’ll admit, it was so weird for me to think about what to wear each day after years of not having to think about it that I wore nothing but jeans and t-shirts for most of college.  I bought multiples and didn’t care if things were flattering or not (I've struggled with body image for as long as I can remember, so nothing would’ve seemed flattering anyway), didn't wear any shoes but my Converse All-Stars or my Birkenstocks, I wasn't a fan of things like accessories, make-up or the blow-dryer, and my idea of something “nice” was probably a top from Old Navy.  My best friend at the time was a guy, and most of the girl friends I had were on the tomboyish side at that time (and also reveling in their freedom from polyester plaid) so wearing anything feminine or stylish never crossed my mind.

Sunburn: Nature's perfect accessory (age 21)

This all came to a screeching halt when I moved to Chicago and joined the workforce.  I mean I still didn't have a sense of personal style, but I was making my way toward style and the basics I wore got a little nicer at least. For a couple of years, I bought all of my clothes at stores like Express and New York & Company.  Express, for all of my business wear, New York & Company for slightly more casual wear.  Since I didn’t have a ton of extra money to spend on clothes, my wardrobe consisted mainly of things to wear to work, since I came here with nothing like that.  I’d stretch my clothes by buying tops that would be work appropriate but still look okay with jeans for the weekend (I still find myself doing this, which has kind of infringed on any kind of casual wardrobe).  At this time I also started getting back into skirts.  Being single-and-looking and having just lost a huge amount of weight (which has slowly crept back over the years, but I’m kicking off a new weight loss effort as we speak!) I finally liked the idea of looking like a girl.  I didn’t catch on to the idea of looking like a woman until much more recently, but this was a start.

Age 22: A rare, somewhat stylish moment in my pre-Chicago life

Age 23: At least Lake Michigan and I were coordinated

Although I was starting to care a little bit about what I looked like and how I presented myself, I didn’t really know what worked for my body.  I saw what my much skinnier roommate and girlfriends were wearing and assumed it would translate well onto my larger frame.  I saw women on What Not to Wear and thought about how horrifying it must be to dress completely wrong without realizing that I was doing exactly that.
Age 24 and 25: Yay for finally figuring out hair, make-up and accessories!

As annoying as social networking sites can be, the fact that there are pictures of me all over the internet has helped give me a pretty good awareness of this.  I didn’t even own a camera until a few years ago and I trusted my mirror 100%, but now I know better.  Seeing pictures of myself has helped me see the way everyone else really sees me, which has set me on the path to finding what works for me.  I’ve finally started shopping with fit being my first priority, instead of looking for the things that I see other women wearing.  I’ve found that I’d rather pay a little more to have something that fits and will last me a long time than buy a bunch of cheaper pieces that don’t work for me.  And as I round out my 20’s and near my 30’s, my style continues to evolve.

Age 27 & 28: Hooray for dresses!

This new awareness has also led to more acceptance of my own body.  I mean sure, I’m really mad at myself for gaining some of my weight back, but I’m confident that I can lose it again (although much more slowly now than when I was 22!).  And although I feared getting older while in my early 20's, now I think I'm only getting better with age, and I hope that will continue.  And thanks to the daily inspiration of all of you fashionable ladies out there who feel good about yourselves and look good no matter your shape and size, I’m finally starting to love the body I have just as much as the body I want.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I have sewn before. I sewed a lot of my own clothes that my mom rarely let me wear outside the house between ages 7-12. Using really careful handstitches (my mom encourage me to learn to sew, because of that whole immigrant woman thing), I made dresses out of paper, garbage bags, my dad's shirts, etc. I even made a paltry "cheerleader" costume in third grade out of old tshirts and a ballet leotard (I felt ashamed when I saw other girls' "real costumes," but in retrospect, I think was pretty kick ass). But trying to learn on a machine with patterns, without the benefit of being really young, is more complicated.
Today I made a muslin. I did a very fast job and I didn't pay too much attention to details, just fit. McCall's 8466, copyright. I don't quite have the right fabric chosen yet.

Like a good vintage sewist wannabe, I first put a paper iron on interfacing on the back of the pattern pieces. It's simple: only 5 pieces, including a loop for these shoulder buttons that I will be skipping.
There is a weird button design on top that I think I'll skip. The end result was not so elegant as the ladies on the cover (surprise). I think it should be hemmed to above the knee.
I thought maybe adding a belt would help, but I realized that it might be a problem with the woven fabric. This would probably look nicer with a more drapey, knit fabric, although I am scared of sewing knits (my machine has a faux overlock stitch though, and a special walker foot, so maybe I don't have to be scared).
There's also some odd kind of shirring going on the "skirt" pieces. I had to do a baste stitch on top of these pieces, and pull to create the ruffled top edge, but it looked really sloppy.
Then I realized I had a similar piece from American Apparel from last year. The stretch jersey seems to cling and fit in a much more flattering way, although I may use a woven fabric anyway (the pattern envelop recommends a range of fabrics, from linen, pique, jersey, synthetic blends, etc.)
Please excuse my giving the camera a dude head-nod. I was listening to a "This is Hell" podcast and I was feeling smug about Jamie Gailbraith's interview about critiquing right wing claims that the U.S. is going to go bankrupt if it accumulates any more deficit spending. (It is not, by the way).
What's great about this top is that instead of more random shirring, it has 4 evenly placed pleats on the skirt, which I think I will reproduce for the eventual final version of this piece rather than attempt a more even distribution.
It's spring break, so that means grading and writing. Happy Monday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Visiting, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

Koo and I are acting as visiting professors at idyllic, beautiful Ohio small liberal arts college. It is just adorable. Maybe a little small for my tastes, but it's a nice change of pace. We talked about interview methods in the morning, and met with old friends for lunch. In the afternoon, we had a relatively well attended research presentation, where I talked too fast and she talked slowly (we're like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but we look a bit a like.)
After a long a delicious meal (with old friends from Columbus), which ended in snow (ah, the Midwest), Koo snapped this photo of me. I thought I should try to look professorial, since they are paying me to impart wisdom/knowledge to young minds. I hope that I did not disappoint with my (late 1990s?) mulitcolored plaid thrifted polyester blend skirt.

Skirt close-up

Skirt: thrifted
Sweater: Esprit
Red shirt: Jcrew (swapped, from a friend's mom)
Tights: Target
Booties: Me Too

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ohio bound

Ohio bound, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

Today, after giving midterms, I'm going to Ohio to be a "visiting professor" at a small liberal arts college in Ohio. (I have little experience at the SLAC, as I've got an all Big Ten education). I'm comfort oriented today, and looking at the photos, I think I've never needed a necklace as badly as I do today. At least I am wearing a color. Perhaps a belt is was in order, but this jersey dress is about 3 inches above the knee, and I fear the any waist cinching would have brought it into what Winona from Daddy Likey calls "chocha" territory (not so good for the prof.)
I'm wearing the blazer to try to up the casualness of a knit jersey dress. I kind of hate blazers, and this is the one that permanently hangs on a hook in my office. I tried to embrace the more straight cuts (called "boyfriend", which is annoying), that are all rage, and I hated them even more. I believe this is because I have a strong shoulder line, and therefore I don't prefer to emphasize the widest point on my body. But it does sort of demand authority more than a flowy cardigan. The folks at Academichic are also profiling jackets, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Although I like the color combo, I am feeling 2 thumbs down on the blazer. I want my cardigan. Thoughts?

Jacket and dress detail (note the "shirred yoke" on the dress. I'm learning clothes construction terms.)

Jacket: Esprit (on sale, 2 years ago)

Dress: Uniqlo

Boots: Palladium

Tights: Uniqlo (not the same pair from yesterday)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Misschedule, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

I thought today was part of a recruitment night at my school for a certain program. But I was wrong. I wasted a perfectly decent "authority" outfit on a rainy day. Massive professor misschedule. At least I am here for another reason: make up exams and a student meeting. Still, I would have preferred something more casual and fun. Here I am, still queen of the neutrals.
Readers, if you met me in this outfit, would you think, "I could entrust my intelligent child's higher education in her hands," or think, "What kind of sloppy lady wears a gigantic oatmeal colored cardigan, T shirt, and an skirt that is too big?" I am hoping for the former. I could have gone with the "interview suit" but I hate that Banana Republic monstrosity.

This outfit is mostly provided by my mother, who is always trying to get me dress like a nice young lady. I even wore these little bow pumps to my PhD graduation (a mistake. I kept sinking into the mud).

Cardigan: Rachel Rachel Roy (mom present), Macy's
Tshirt (tunic style): Dillards (from mom, again)
Skirt: H&M
Patterned tights: Uniqlo
Shoes: Enzo Angiolini (thrifted)

Monday, March 22, 2010

9 to 5

9 to 5, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.
I feel a bit like Lily Tomlin from 9 to 5. Well actually, all those girls wore similar "secretary" style dresses in great colors.

I picked this up at the local vintage store a while back, but haven't worn it yet. Honestly, I feel a little self conscious in something so bright and so vintage. I threw the swapped cardigan on top and it seemed to tone down a lot of the ruffle and frill. Still a nice dress.
This is something that I struggle with in general though. I like vintage clothes, recycling, and reworking older styles but it's always a challenge to not look too costumey. I am teaching today, and it's the week before spring break, so I don't worry about projecting uber authority or anything like that. I can have fun with my clothes, but I don't want to appear too crazy. I have this concern about the mod dress too.

This is a better view of the colors. More tomato than bright red

What are you tips for wearing vintage while still looking modern?

Edit: Sal from Already Pretty did a great guest post at Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing on tips for wearing vintage. It's true: the internets is better than ice cream.

Dress: Not Just Vintage
Cardigan: swap, J Crew
Tights: Hue (Macy's?)
Shoes: Naturalizer, online
Belt: thrifted

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Vote!

Health Care Vote!, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

Eek, the House health care vote is today. I have so much to do, but CSPAN is screening into my home office. I can't help it. They're so funny too. (If you've been in student government or any context that uses parliamentary procedure, it's probably funnier for you). Also, I had no idea that the representative from the Virgin Islands gets to speak during debates (but does she have a vote?)
Today is possibly a big day for our country's politics, and what is a better outfit to show my Americanness than red, white, blue and cow boy boots? (And cream/oatmeal, with is delicious). I once read Al Franken joke that red, white and blue look flattering on no one. He might be onto something.
Is this sweater too crazy to wear? It's Free People, it was cheap, and love the buttons. I just don't know how to style it. I don't want it to become a closet orphan. It has colors. (I know).

Sweater closed on top (better? worse?)

I started cracking up when the Dems and Republicans started shouting at each over a particular procedural point. As if that's what they're divided about.

Sweater: Free People, thrifted
Boots: Durango, thrifted
Tshirt: H&M
Jeans: Blank, Cliche

Saturday, March 20, 2010

vaguely 60s

vaguely 60s, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

This is a recent thrift store find. Simple black jersey boatneck (supposedly very flattering to the small chested.) We are headed to a pizza/birthday party in Crown Heights tonight and it's actually hot out. The nice lady detectives who came to our apartment were sweating and I offered them water. Blokey's testimony was useful for them, which was good, and we found out that the crime, while still terrible, was far less heinous then the neighborhood gossip suggested.
I also picked up this "mod" style dress. I take mod as being in the style of the swinging sixties London, often made of up stiffer woven or double knit fabrics, without much tailoring. It's adorable, maybe little big (I can resize soon), but how to wear it without looking like Santa Claus? It's too hot (70 degrees) to wear right now, but it will get colder again. It needs a slip (Blokey calls double knit polyester "wearing oil" since it's basically petroleum).

The sleeves are slightly puffed and quite darling. Necklace? White tights?

Blokey suggested a coat. I am afraid of black with this dress. Too Santa-y

Or I could just say, "Screw you and your fear of St. Nick and America!" and drape myself in denim and black combat boots.

Any and all suggestions are deeply appreciated!

Black Tshirt dress: thrifted, Land's End
Grey pleather belt, free with Ebay purchase,
socks: GAP,
shoes: thrifted, Aersoles
"mod" dress: thrifted
black boots: MIA

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ten More Facts

Well, due to overwhelming demand... kind of... here's ten more things.  I admit that, while I'm a huge fan of self-disclosure and can talk up a storm about myself in my head, I had a hard time coming up with this list.  But here they are, ten facts about me:

1. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio and lived in the same house from birth until just after my 22nd birthday (my parents still live there).  Since then, I’ve lived in 7 different apartments.

2. I ended up in Chicago entirely by chance and moved here with no job, no plan and about $100 to my name.  It’s a really long story, but in short I came to visit 2 high school friends and fell so in love with the city that my "visit" turned into job hunting and me living here.  To date, it’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

3. I love sarcasm, dry wit and self-deprecating humor.  Unfortunately that doesn't always translate well with some audiences or in text form.

4. I play the piano, flute and piccolo all reasonably well.  I was in various music groups in high school, and my dream at the time was to go to Ohio State and dot the "i" in Script Ohio.

5. I attended Catholic schools from pre-school through high school, but I haven't set foot in a church for anything but a wedding or a funeral in years.

6. I have two titanium rods in my back from having spinal fusion surgery when I was 16.  My brother had the same surgery 4 years earlier, and the fact that we both got severe scoliosis from our dad makes our family a medical anomaly.  Nerd that I am, I think that's actually kind of cool.  Also, no one has better posture than me :)

7. At almost 29, I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.  I have a BA in Sociology, which is pretty much useless.  I started at a benefits firm as a temp with a 3 month contract, and 6 years and 3 promotions later I'm still there.  I don't hate my job and I feel fortunate to work for such a good company, but I don't think it's what I want to do forever.  I started grad school to become a teacher last fall, but I'm not sure about that anymore either.  My most recent thought is nursing, since a recent health crisis has reminded me how cool I find medical stuff and how completely not squeamish I am with that stuff.

8. If I didn't live in Chicago, my next choice would be Texas.  I know, we're diametrically opposed on politics (except for Austin), but I've visited my brother in San Antonio countless times over the past 10 years and I absolutely love it there.  The weather is great - no snow, very little humidity and less allergy problems - and it's just beautiful there (the lower cost of living is just an added bonus).

9. The two people closest to me when I was growing up were my dad and my brother.  I believe this has shaped a lot of the person that I've become, in that they taught me to be independent, stick up for myself, love sports, fix things on my own and, most importantly, laugh at myself.  This is also probably why I get along much better with guys than girls (or I just haven't found enough of the right girlfriends who actually live in Chicago?)

10. I secretly love romantic comedies.  I have to sneak them on NetFlix while my boyfriend is at work because they always make me cry or at least tear up, which is pretty embarrassing.

11. I can be extremely long-winded, particularly in writing (yes, #11 done on purpose).

Adventures in hemming

March 19, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

My new sewing machine (and loads of wedding gifts) came in the mail today. For the virgin run, I decided to do something that is actually quite hard- hemming a thin jersey dress (thicker and double knit jerseys are much easier to work with, I've read).

close up of pattern, hem

But I figured why not. It's a second hand dress from Ebay (acquired when I first realized that I needed more color and wanted to experiment with cheaper goods) that cost less than $10 including shipping. It was an awkward "at the knee length". The end result is hardly perfect, but it it works for me. I recently thrifted these wedges for $10 at a charity shop. Pretty brown, 3" heels, but comfortable, and they make my (proportionally) shorter legs look rather long.

Why do I like wood and cork on shoes so much?

Blokey and I have had a rough week. Coming down the high of the wedding was rough, as was that whole "springing forward" nonsense, but what's really been difficult is that a really violent crime happened on our block on Monday night, and Blokey saw a lot of it from our fourth floor window. We called 911, and we're both on the police report. He couldn't see much, but the NYPD will be popping by with a criminal sketch on Saturday. I am saddened by this, but poor fella is really traumatized. Not for his safety, but for mine and poor young woman who was victimized.

This is a long way of saying that I've not been productive on my writing today, or yesterday. Probably not tomorrow. I have been busy making bread, working on some backed up emails, and opening boxes (our cat is in feline heaven). Spring break starts next Wednesday and I am just going to keep my head above water until then.

Dress: second hand Ebay, shortened by me
shoes: Aerosoles, thrifted
belt: thrifted

Ten Facts about Me, the Sugar Doll

Thanks again to lovely The Waves at No Signposts in the Sea for this blog award. I love that her blog is stylish and intelligent. She asks great questions and showcases her unique outfits. Plus, I feel a connection to her since she hails from Finland and my blokey's father is 2nd generation Finnish-American, so I feel like an honorary Finnish-American. [I read up all about Finland when we first started dating (including the language, history, economic development) and then he told me that didn't care for his Finnish heritage much. Oh well)].
For this award, I am supposed to tell the readers 10 things about themselves and pass on the award to ten other bloggers (of any variety), who in turn will share 10 things about their delightful selves.

1. I grew up in 5 states and moved 6 times (twice to California, with four years in between) before I was 15. This means that whenever someone asks, "Where are you from?" I ask them if they want the short or real answer. The short answer is "New Jersey" (Monmouth county), where I spent 8 years.

2. I played piano and was trained at a conservatory by a Rutgers professor for those 8 years in Jersey. Talk about your Asian-kid stereotypes. I was technically good but I lack a good ear for music.

3. I am a terrible driver. Like Woody Allen. With less jokes.

4. I am obsessed with regional accents, and all non-American accented English. Probably related to number 2, and the fact I have immigrant parents. Don't be alarmed if I seem obsessed with your pronunciation.

5. My biggest fear as related to my profession is that I will lose patience and compassion for my students, which is not that hard to do sometimes.

6. I am a Gemini. I don't take much stock in zodiac and star signs, but I am pretty "classically" Gemini. Including the need for variety. I don't need variety in all things, like friends, partner, or music. But I think I need it in clothes, food, movies, and reading materials. Lots, please.

7, I don't much like the South, but I love country music. Especially George Jones.

8. Berlin, Germany, is my favorite city. Not for any particular reason, except that is a hip, cheap, and has great street food and culture. Someone once said to me that "Sometimes you are just ready to fall in love with a place." I was probably ready at age 25.

9. Blokey is five feet 10 or 11. (He slouches in photos). I think is this the perfect height for me. I've dated six foot plus fellas and for some reason, this is a bit of a turn off. I've found out through conversations with other woman that this makes me an aberration. Perhaps this is preference for the medium height dude is because I am a very medium height lady. Taller than average so I can feel special on the train, but enough to never feel too tall.

10. I am not religious, but I am interested in faith, faith communities, and spiritual things. I believe in something like karma, and I do think that the ultimate consequences of the decision we make is the lives that we live.

I'd also hope that Anne does her ten things for our readers (hint hint).

I am sharing this award with the following bloggers:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love letter to Janeane

When I was a tween/teen in the 1990s, I loved Janeane Garofalo. She might be my perfect woman.

That attitude. The left politics. The biting humor. The hair. The glasses. The tats. And the clothes that were street and uber stylish.
I believe that I have my own awesomeness today, but my idolization of JG still probably influences me. I heard somewhere (probably Youlookfab) that the 1990s are back. Score. Now that I have access to thrift stores, public transit, and a somewhat flexible schedule, the JG look will be mine.
Today is 66 degrees, which is close to record warm in NYC. I have like a million things I'd like to get done, but I will take it easy. Mostly, I need to get on the Thank You cards.

I am this happy to be able to wear just one layer outside

I like how I can this wrap dress can be both kind of grunge 1990s, but also I could wear a pair of black sandals/flats for when I visit my parents and wear it to places like church, or to a dinner/lunch meeting at work. Thrifted Ann Taylor win! ($10 at Goodwill)

My green tights are a day late. They match the itsy bitsy green and pink flowers on the dress. Me in pink flowers (I can't believe it).

Dress, Thrifted
Boots, Mia
Tights, Target (3 years ago)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mixing patterns

march8 072, originally uploaded by Cohabitating_Closet.

Lots of fellow bloggers have had great luck mixing patterns, like Elaine of Clothed Much and A. of Academichic (just to name a few). I am so timid about patterns in general. This is as close as I've gotten thus far. Patterned black tights with a patterned jersey dress. It's an example of one of my "fast fall back outfits" for teaching (or anything): jersey dress, cardigan, tights, and boots/booties (with a belt if I'm feeling adventurous or want to be more tailored).

my version of "daring"

I never thought twice about the appropriateness of this outfit for work, where there are lots of young men aged 18-24. But today, I was walking by a table of dudes who were hanging, and one of them shouted out, "Professor!" I know him, said, hello, and I heard one of his friends say, "Damn, is that a professor?" I looked in the mirror and tried to figure out if the outfit is too "sexy." I am covering up all the major parts, other than that elusive collarbone (the dress isn't too short, the jersey isn't too tight), so I decided that maybe I just look good today. Nothing wrong with that, professor or not.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to my Irish and Irish-at-heart friends. And thank you for all the lovely congrats and well wishes on our wedding. Getting back to normal life has been harder than I thought, but the teaching week is thankfully almost over.

Dress: H&M (3 seasons ago), sale ($15)

boots: Born

belt: thrifted

cardigan: LOFT

tights: Target

Spring has Sprung

Here in Chicago we're in the middle of a 3 day run of sunny, 60 degree days.  It's impossible not to feel hopeful that spring may finally be arriving, even if we do have snow in the forecast later in the week.  I'm working from home today, and was just visited by UPS.  I'm pretty sure I must have an online shopping problem when the UPS guy just noticed my haircut.  Anyway, I decided to refresh some of my spring essential items, since they're all pretty worn out.

First, I ordered myself a new, darker wash jean jacket.  My jean jacket was one of the first things I bought when I moved to Chicago nearly 6 years ago, and I've had the same one since.  At 23, my only sense of "style" was pairing pants or a cute, casual skirt with a t-shirt and my jean jacket.  For a few seasons, I wore it to work a couple days a week and constantly on weekends, so it's pretty beat up and faded and, embarrassingly, just a touch too snug these days.  Here it is in action in 2005, and if it looks that worn then, just imagine how it looks 5 years later:
Given that it's been a staple in my wardrobe for years, I probably should have thought about whether or not jean jackets are still "in" these days before ordering.  I like having one and usually feel pretty comfortable in it, and that typically trumps trends in my book.  But seriously, are jean jackets still okay?

The other piece that was very overdue for an upgrade is a denim skirt.  I've had denim skirts in the past that were too short (well, too short for me and the legs that I love to hide) or just didn't fit right.  But I finally found the right denim pencil skirt.  It fits like a dream, and since I ordered it in a tall, it's definitely not too short.  In fact, I think it could stand to lose maybe an inch or so to fall right at the knee.  This isn't the cute, trendy jean skirt that I would've wanted in my teens and early 20's - it's a skirt that's made for a woman and is perfect for work and play.  I was so excited to finally have a great denim skirt that I played around with a few different outfits.  This is, by far, my favorite.

My first attempt at self-portraits
What a difference a belt makes!

The first picture is the outfit I actually chose, and the second is how I would've typically put this together.  But as I was getting dressed, I thought what would women who are more fashionable than I am do?  So I tried tucking in the blouse and belting the skirt with some pretty great results.  I have a tummy, so I was worried that this would just accentuate it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it does the exact opposite and actually makes me appear thinner.  What a revelation!  The top picture also looks a lot more put together (the bottom picture being just a little frumpy) and perfect for a casual Friday at the office (which is, of course, everyday at my office).  And now, with a couple of really easy and inexpensive purchases, I feel pretty confident and ready for spring.

Skirt:, $25
Blouse: Loft, $30
Sweater: New York & Company, $30
Belt: Target, $12
Shoes: Target, $10

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our humble celebration

I seem to lack on focus at work these past couple days, so I am going to assume it's because I haven't done the post on the wedding. My partner and I decided to get married for a number of reasons, but we aren't traditional people, so we wanted to do things our own way. Which meant on the cheap, vintage, and small. We didn't tell many people, partly because we planned it in about 4 months and because of the decision to keep it small. I never realized how even a small (about 45 guests) wedding could be complicated. We're very happy. We got married in Chicago because that's where my college friends, brother, and Steven's extended family lives (this is pretty much whom we invited to the wedding).
The goal was a $5K wedding, including all the dress and rings. We mostly succeeded. Part of the reason it was so thrifty was because of my choice in dresses. I have never thought of myself as the "marrying kind" and I didn't know about "looking like a bride." Brides are beautiful, but I never dreamt about being one. I did, however, dream about being a folk singer as a teenager. I told Steven that I wanted to look like a 1970s folk singer, and he was happy with that.

some inspirations: Joni and Linda

I spent alot of time on Etsy and Ebay looking for my dress. It wasn't easy. But I did find this gem:It was $32, sold by secretagentgirl. It was a little big, but the beautiful bow in the back and the high waist (just above at my natural waist line), it actually fit perfectly. I suppose that's the gamble with online shopping. But what a gamble.
(My friend tied the bow in the back)

I said that we're not traditional. I meant that is that I like traditions, but I pick and choose which ones I want. We set up the chairs in the church in a big circle (with two rows). I borrowed this from the Quaker traditions, which I first read about on a blog for off beat brides. We're not Quakers, although I dig their commitment to social justice. I love the idea that the community was in a big circle. We don't have the big pictures yet (our photographer friend, Rollin Leonard, is still editing the larger photos, and I only have the pictures friends took during the ceremony). We picked a Unitarian church because I wanted a church that was open in their traditions, and also the big "We Support Gay Marriage" sign out front did not hurt. (The church is in the Boy's Town section of Chicago. My mom and dad did not like it but did not say anything either).

Weather is iffy in Chicago in March, so I decided on a separate dress for the dinner reception. I also found this adorable "Rockabilly" style vintage on etsy, sold by seesong. I actually met her in Brooklyn (in Greenpoint) to pick up the dress. This is another hand made item (you can tell from the seams, lack of tags, etc.) I did need to do a quick hem along the front right hem, which I did right before running to the church (on time).

This dress was another gamble. I am the correct waist measurement, but this model is shorter then me, and the waist hit me on the rib cage, not under it, so it was a wee bit tight. But it was worth it. The best part about being taller then the model is that the dress hit me in a more flattering part of my leg.
Co-contributor, self, and the cohabitator

The cohabitator's clothing was also a challenge. We wanted something that was his style yet formal to be suitable for the event. I found him a dusty rose leisure suit on Rustyzipper a few months ago. But when he wore it I was not convinced, and I made him send it back against his wishes (a Bridezilla moment). We later found this beautiful camel colored 3 piece suit on Ebay (supposedly "mod" and from the late 1970s). The condition was great and it was probably hand made in a tailor shop. Like many older suits, it has a higher waist and gigantic pant legs, but our lovely local tailor took it in perfectly. Blokey is quite a thin man, and the tailor took the jacket well too.

We loved that we had friends contribute to the wedding. Friends and family sang songs, performed music, read poetry, and helped with the decorations. Another traditional I borrowed was the wedding cookie reception, which is supposed to be a tradition from midwestern industrial towns. I never heard of it before reading about it in the NY Times, but my mother-in-law loved the idea. Since we had dinner at a restaurtant, it made sense to hold a mini-reception outside of the sanctuary, in the little room just outside.
Anne did a beautiful job with the cookies. Actually, cookies and cupcakes. She made pumpkin mini cupcakes, peanut blossoms, and mint chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies. I regret not taking them on the plane with me. (Check out her blog if you'd like the recipes or more pictures)

So how did we keep it under under 5k? I'm not a big jewelry chick, so we got really really simple rings. We found a seller on Etsy who makes rings from recycled jewlery, and they were really beautiful.
The rings were only $85 each, and were 2mm wide. I'm not used to wearing jewelry, and the look is very subtle, but I love that I can feel them on his hand when we hold hands (sorry that was so cheesy). Maybe the 3mm would have looked nicer, but I think the ones we got were great. We sized our ring fingers at Target. The nice lady at the jewelry counter let us borrow the ring sizer.
We also saved money as I chose to do my own hair and make up. I'm not much of a make up person, and perhaps my eyes could have looked more vibrant in photos (that's what photo editing is for). But getting ready with my friend Joni in the church basement was so much fun. I had my hair and makeup done for a friend's wedding a couple years ago and thought "never again." I think they do a good job, but I hate feeling overdone. I was happy with the outcomes.

I didn't go with a veil, but I did want something in my hair. I found this vintage wedding crown/wire, sold by BeSomethingNew on Etsy, for $37. I found out through internet research that a long time ago, brides in Finland wore crowns. My husband's paternal family is from Finland (a couple generations back) and so I thought this worked as a quasi-crown. (Blokey's last name is Finnish, but I guess strangely my Korean last name is not that far from a common Finnish name. He is uninterested).

The other way we saved money was by doing the reception at a restaurant. Getting caterers to bring stuff somewhere is a pain and a half. By having our reception dinner at the private room in a cool, quirky restaurant, the Wishbone, in north Chicago, we were able to let our guests choose what they want AND have an open wine and beer wine. Plus the restaurant has its own decorations, and we had great decor with minimal effort. Four courses, unlimited booze, 47 guests total= less than $2,000. Happy, full, and tipsy guests, non-broke Cohabitators. We got to control the music in the room, and still had plenty of space for schmoozing. Best part was the the bar was in our private room, and so some of the uncles had a good time parked in front of the bar, laughing it up.

We may have done a bit of that too.

Eek, back to work!