One of my 2015 resolutions

As I’ve tried to rapidly piece together something resembling a functional, four-season wardrobe, I’ve fallen into the habit of buying multiples. It started in June when I purchased 6 tank tops on one trip to the mall, and it’s happened a few times since then, most recently at the Nordstrom post-holiday sale.


That right there is a set of three identical cashmere sweaters, Halogen brand, in fuchsia, heather gray, and fire truck red. Here is how I rationalize buying three identical cashmere sweaters.

  • They were on sale, a very good price for cashmere.
  • These colors fit my capsules perfectly.
  • They’re plain enough to wear with anything, dressed up or dressed down.
  • Cashmere is super warm and it’s super cold out.
  • I know I’ll wear these till they’re unfit to be seen in public, and then I’ll continue to wear them around the house and hope that nobody drops by and catches me in them.

That last point? You want to know how I can guarantee that? Because I own two other Halogen plain v-neck cashmere sweaters identical to these, but in my old large size, and the cashmere sweaters are among the very few things I refuse to relinquish from those sizes. The big ones are black and purple. I wore the purple one Monday. It’s crazy enormous on me now, and I don’t care. I just wear it at home, not out in public, and it makes me happy and feels so cozy and warm.

The multiples don’t stop there. I also needed some flat casual shoes — my shoe size also changed, and I’ve had to spend a shocking amount of money on shoes and boots this past year. Most of those new shoes have heels, but we’re heading into the ice and snow months, and I don’t like wearing heels on ice. So I had to buy some flats, and I picked up a couple of other accessories while I was at it.


The shoes on the left are Steve Madden silver metallic slip-ons from Nordstrom. The shoes on the right are Van’s. The two pairs really look so much alike in cut and shape — only the uppers and brand labels are different. I bought them at two different stores, and they’re still rather like multiples. Hey, at least my taste is consistent, right?

The other items are Ugg shearling earmuffs in a python print — OMG, so warm, love them — and a pair of bracelets. The wide silver bracelet on the right looks amazing worn over a blouse cuff. I usually wear my bracelets next to the skin, but the salesgirl layered it on top of the fabric of my shirt, and I was instantly mesmerized. It’s a pretty cool look. I’ll try to remember to take a snapshot the next time I wear it so you can see what I mean. It’s not something I would have thought to do on my own, but the bracelet is almost exactly as wide as most of my shirt and sweater cuffs, and it just works.

Between the holidays, family stuff, and a standard-issue holiday cold, I haven’t done as much knitting or sewing as I’d planned in this past week. There has been some, but not as much as anticipated. Honestly, I’ve spent more hours shopping than sewing and knitting, but what can I say — it was warm enough to justify going to the outdoor malls, and the holiday sales were enticing. I bought lots of other things, too, and will show them off later. For now, I think a little nap before the New Year’s celebration might be the best plan for the rest of today.

So, one of my key New Year’s resolutions is to stop buying multiples. I think I have enough foundation pieces now that I can start focusing on some statement pieces. I’m excited about that! It feels like progress.

I have other resolutions, too. Not everyone makes them, I know, but I use the start of each new year for some long-range planning. I also set monthly goals at the start of each new month. It’s just the way I function best, with a plan and some strategic thinking and a sense of where I’m heading. Most of my goals this year have to do with career, budget, household organization, and travel. My only real wardrobe/crafting goals are these:

  1. Stop buying multiples in ready-to-wear items.
  2. Going “cold sheep” on yarn purchases until I reach a certain trigger point.
  3. Sew and knit every day, even if only for a few minutes.

I know I’ll make all of these goals because that’s just my way. I make goals, I prioritize my goals, and I pick them off in order of priority. That third one is the goal I know will be easiest to achieve because it will be a pleasure. I don’t care to watch television, and my work involves so much reading that I tend not to read for pleasure all that much. My main leisure activities are working out and making clothes, and I usually manage to do both each day.

Do you have any 2015 goals for your sewing or knitting? What are they? Do you keep your resolutions?





Choosing buttons and a brief Vogue Knitting Live report

I was at the Vogue Knitting conference yesterday, where I’d hoped to find some buttons for my Dark Pearl cardigan. It was a thin hope, I admit, because the marketplace at this show is usually on the small side — only a few vendors, and the booths always seem tiny compared to other cons. And this year was not an exception. Small show. The only buttons we saw were of the handmade clay type, perfect for children’s garments but not at all the look I want for this cardigan.

I did buy two skeins of this sock yarn. This is Leading Men Soliloquy, a light fingering yarn in a 650-yard put-up. These are big skeins, and very reasonably priced. Two skeins provide enough yardage for a sweater. I bought two in the colorway Royalty, a semisolid purple. It’s actually a bit darker than this picture would indicate, but still a true purple, not an eggplant or indigo. These will become a henley sweater with a bit of lace on the yoke, most likely, unless I find a different pattern I like better.


So that will be fun to knit, but not right away. Into the stash it goes for now. As long as I was mucking about in my stash, I pulled out my small hoard of buttons and tried many on the Dark Pearl cardigan. And hooray, I found some that worked.


That top button, a shiny silver floral thing, is just to show what a true silver looks like against this yarn. Far too bright. The black plastic buttons on the bottom are pretty, but when you step back, they get lost in the fabric. So I’m going to use the middle buttons, which are silver with scored black circles radiating out from the center. The detail is hard to see in this picture, but the net effect from a distance is about the same as you see here — visible, but not overwhelming. I think they’re perfect.

We spent very little time on the show floor at Vogue Knitting Live, mainly because there was very little to see. That’s okay. I don’t need any yarn right now, and the two purple skeins were a splurge. I also bought some needles I needed, and some decadent lanolin body lotion from one of the regular vendors, but that was it. I think we only spent an hour and a half in the marketplace, and a good bit of that time was spent browsing patterns. It’s a small show floor, nothing at all like Stitches, but there are a few vendors we really like — Sophie’s Toes, Grinning Gargoyle, Leading Men. Dragonfly was there, and I had hoped to pick up some of their silk fingering yarn, but they didn’t bring any to the show. Oh, well, don’t need more yarn anyway. My stash runneth over.

I wouldn’t mind that the vendor list is small except that the admission is so steep. They want to charge $20 admission. Yes, you can get discount coupons, but it’s still way too expensive for a show this small. Every year, I say that I won’t bother again next year. And I’m saying the same thing this year. I wouldn’t have gone this year except that all my local area yarn stores have closed and I really did need those needles.

Also, it was an opportunity to do a bit of shopping downtown. I usually avoid shopping on State Street because we have all the same stores at my local malls, so why bother. I go to Michigan Avenue for the upscale department stores or to the neighborhoods for boutique shopping, but usually avoid State Street. But I’ve been on a hunt for good, warm leather gloves for a couple of years, and I heard from a friend that Nordstrom Rack had a good variety of leather colors all lined in cashmere. My hands are super tiny and hard to fit, but I got lucky there. I found two pairs, one red and one pink, that are perfect.


These will be great for the milder cold — Chicagoans know what I mean by this. Upper teens and twenties is mild cold weather, and you can get away with some sleeker outerwear on days like that. For a really cold day, though, I’ll need heavier gloves. No way a bit of fine leather and cashmere will stand up to a subzero day. But I’ll likely just get some ugly, bulky snowmobiling gloves and not worry too much about it. Some days, function trumps style.

This is a really ramshackle post with lots of disconnected ideas, but that’s sort of how the day went yesterday. I shoehorned a lot into one little Friday, and I’m pleased with the results.


Shoe-aholics Unite!

I had one of those $10 off coupons from DSW — I swear, they should send me these coupons every week. They would get all my money right now, as I rebuild my shoe wardrobe. I can’t let those coupons expire without using them. In this case, I walked out with two pairs of suede platform sandals for the fall.

The first is Helara from BCBG, a steal at under $50. I’m a big fan of this brand. Their shoes always feel more comfortable than you might expect, given the height of the heel. I love the little zippers in the back and the almost bootie-like collar around the ankle. I expect these to be in heavy rotation come September.



The second is Amelie from Michael Antonio, a brand that is new to me. I have been on the hunt for cobalt blue heels that can move from casual to cocktails pretty easily, and these seemed perfect for that. The silver buckles clinched the deal.


How perfect is that blue? I love a colored shoe with a neutral outfit. I can imagine getting a lot of wear out of these. I’m already wondering how they’ll look with half the things in my meager closet.

Here’s a question for all of you. Because of the platform and heel height, neither of these shoes will fit in my hanging shoe bags. I guess I’ll store them in their boxes in the closet, but do you have a better system? How do you store your bigger shoes and boots?


Little Feet

When we gain or lose weight, we know that our waistbands might get tighter or our shirts might gap at the button band. But if your weight changes a lot, as mine did from the thyroid problem, your feet can also change sizes. I’m thrilled to report that I’m back in my proper shoe size. This means buying all new shoes — such a hardship! *grin*

But the best part is that I can wear heels again. I lived in heels before my thyroid broke. Two inches was an everyday kind of walking-around shoe, and three inches was more likely. Four inches? You bet, especially for dates with tall men. So it’s probably no surprise that the first shoes I bought were all heels and platforms. As soon as I realized I could wear heels in a 7.5 again, I darted to DSW and splurged on some celebration heels.

These were the very first pair I bought, four-inch lace-ups with a sturdy stacked heel and just the right vibe to wear with jeans and pants.


I love these shoes so much I can’t even stand it. I’ve always been a big fan of this kind of oxford-with-heels shoe, and the meshy pierced leather puts an extra smile on my face. Right after that trip to DSW for these, I ended up at the outlet mall with a friend, where I found these Naturalizers for almost no money. Honestly, I think they were around twelve or thirteen dollars. And in my three favorite shades of gray, gray, and gray? Yeah, they had to come home with me.


They almost look like booties when you wear them. They’re suede, not summer shoes, and I was only able to wear them twice before the weather shifted. Rainy spring is not so good for suede! But I will wear these frequently in the fall, and I can’t wait. Despite the four-inch heel, these are about as comfortable as sneakers, the kind of heels you really can walk in all day.

Then, when the suede had to go into hibernation until fall, I went back to DSW for two pairs of summer sandals. I wear these black ones almost every day now.


The cork platforms are so lightweight! And I love the gladiator look to the straps. Even though these are about 3.5″ in heel height, the platform makes them feel like they’re about two inches, easy enough for shopping all day. The only thing I don’t like about these shoes is the brass buckle — I’m a silver/pewter girl — but I think the buckle is almost invisible here. I found a similar pair in white by a different maker.


I’m not ordinarily a big fan of white shoes, not even for summer. White shoes tend to look old-ladyish to me, especially if the white has any kind of shine to it. But this is a flat white leather, and the cork sole balances it out enough to keep it looking fresh instead of fussy. I wear these pretty frequently, too, and even wore them for a spontaneous afternoon at the mall last week. By the end of the afternoon, my feet were a touch tired, but really, not as bad as you would think. A sturdy platform is so much kinder to the feet than a spiky stiletto, even at nearly four inches.

I think these shoes overall reflect my personal style better than anything else I’ve posted so far. They all have just a whiff of that urban edge that I am so drawn to, and almost everything else I’ve posted so far has been super casual, everyday sorts of clothes, even a bit on the sweet side. I do like the sweet things, too, but I think they work best when there’s a bit of toughness thrown into the mix. These shoes help with that.

On a scale from edgy to sweet, where does your personal style fall?




A few basics, a few layering pieces

When I tell say I need a new wardrobe, I mean everything from undergarments to shoes. Yes, even shoes, even my feet dropped in size, which shocked me! But when you have to buy everything from bras to boots, you have to watch the sales pretty closely and get a little creative. So when basic cotton tanks went on sale recently for under $5 each, I went to the mall and stocked up.

006 That’s six tanks in a size small — a little tight now, but they’ll be perfect when I reach my goal weight. I can wear them now, but mostly I wear them around the house or under other things. One of the black tanks and the teal blue tank are ribbed, and the rest are plain jersey with a picot edging at the neck and arms. They’ll do. That’s six summer basic tops for under $30, and I’ll be able to wear them with everything from yoga pants to skirts.

My issue at the moment, though, is that I’ve been basically living in one pair of jeans (in my currently correct size) and plain tees (usually thrifted, sometimes bought on sale, sometimes just way too large and old) for months on end now. I haven’t updated my wardrobe as I’ve lost weight, which was the right decision on the way down — why spend a lot on temporary clothing? But the result is that I’m sick to death of my uniform of workout clothes, one pair of jeans, and plain cotton jersey tops. So I wasn’t thrilled about these tanks, even though they’re great buys and will get a lot of use, just because I need something fresh in my wardrobe. It’s reached that point.

So I found a few layering pieces to toss on over the tanks and tees. This will freshen things up a bit on those days when I just can’t face another tee and jeans combo.

008 This is a knitted cotton lace tee with dolman sleeves. It looks great over any of the tanks I bought — better with tanks than with tees, I’m discovering, but it’s still a great layering piece. I especially like this over a white tank and white skirt, but it’s also really nice over gray. Lighter colors show the lacework a little better. This one can be dressed up or down, too.

007But this one is really more for nights out, not so much for day. It’s poly chiffon, not my favorite fabric, but I fell in love with the sheer print. Love those polka dots! The scale of these is big enough to read like a regular print, but I think that works well with the sheerness of the fabric. It’s also a size small, but it fits perfectly through the shoulders, so I know it will continue to fit as I take off the last few pounds. It looks best tucked into narrow jeans over a black or white tank. It’s made by Guess, and the construction is well done. I felt pretty lucky to find this one for a pittance on clearance.

010 This is the third layering piece I bought to go with the tanks. This photo is of the back. I really like this tulip detail in the back, and it seems to flatter my waist, from what I could see in the dressing room mirrors at the store. I’ve found that it works best over a monochrome — the tank with a skirt or pants in the same color, which limits me to black and white for right now. Otherwise, that waist shaping seems to disappear. But I like a layered tank look for day wear, and it adds a little interest to the run of plain tanks, so it definitely serves its purpose. It’s not a high-quality fabric, but it’s well constructed and it was inexpensive.

I expect to be able to wear all of these things when I reach my goal, but it’s possible any of them will be too big on me by then. But with layering pieces, especially sheer ones like these, I think it’s okay to wear them slightly big. We’ll see if I still think that when I reach goal.

What tricks to you have for making an ordinary tank or tee come to life?