Tuesday, May 27, 2014

StitchFix #3: My Journey in Style Growth

Brace yourselves as you're about to see a lot of pictures of me in the bathroom.

I should rephrase that. You're going to see me taking pictures in the bathroom.

Okay, strike that.

Nick wasn't here, so I had to take my own pics and we only have one full length mirror in the house.  So in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, you can get a sneak peek of what our guest bathroom looks like. It is currently painted a weird shade of green that casts a creepy shadow on all the outfits. 

The box was scheduled to arrive on Friday, and we were leaving town for the holiday weekend on Thursday evening. I, of course, had a mini panic attack knowing it would be sitting waiting for me for four days.  Being the impatient person that I am, I looked online to see what I had been sent. Nick calls this cheating, I tell him to bite me. They don't actually show you pictures of what they've sent, they just list the items. Have they sent dresses? Shirts? Accessories? I had to know.

I skimmed the list and immediately my eyes were drawn to one particular item.

Under Skies Lora Embroidered Denim Vest.

Exsqueeze me?  Baking powder?  Had I somehow reverted to my sixth grade self, obsessed with bedazzlers? Was I a gay cowboy? Was I some long lost member from The Outsiders?

Extremely puzzled by the choice, I instantly turned to Pinterest for help. Was this a thing? Were people wearing denim vests?

It turns out, they are.

I found some pinspiration that felt modern and fresh.

Look at the versatility!

I can easily carry it into the cooler seasons.

I will never be as cool as Gwen Stefani but a denim vest is a good start.

So that was it.  I was going to keep that vest.  I was excited.  I was ready.  BRING IT ON. 

Four excruciating days later, we returned home and the box was mine to open.  One thing I hadn't done well in the past was styling the clothes in the box the way they suggested.  I couldn't see the forest for the trees.  So I took a bit of time to pull out shoes, pull out jewelry and really get a feel for the clothes.  I was already evolving stylistically.  Stacy London would be proud.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

I already liked her b/c I like chicks named Blake.  Plus, she talks like me.

First of course, is the denim vest.

This is my "not bad" face.

The embroidery detail.  Which you may never see due to my crazy hair.

Ok, I might just be convinced.
I was pleased with the way it looked and imagined the different ways I was going to wear it.  And then I looked at the price.  IT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE ITEM IN THE BOX!  At $68 it seemed a little too much for a trend.   A quick search of Target.com found me a vest at less than half the cost.  Will it be as good a quality?  Probably not.  But it turns out I wasn't as brave as I'd thought because I just couldn't commit.

Moving on.

41Hawthorn Marie Abstract Chevron Elastic Waist Dress

Please believe, it is super awkward taking pictures of myself.  I don't understand how or why people take legitimate selfies.

A close up of the pattern/color.  I'd say this is pretty accurate.

I love the way this dress fits.  And the shape.  I could wear this to work in the summer (which is always hard to find something cool that's work appropriate).  And I can put a denim jacket with it and dress it down well into the fall season.  Here's the thing: I don't know that I love this pattern.  I'm not a baby pink person so the color is kind of throwing me.  And the pattern is so abstract.  Which is totally counter to my preference for structure.  Who knew I was so straight laced?  But perhaps I should be pushing my style limits here.  Looking at the pictures, I wouldn't say the colors are particularly flattering on my pasty complexion.  

Readers' input required.  It's $58.  What do you think?  I need your honesty.  And some doughnuts, if you're in a particularly giving mood.

On to a piece I am definitely keeping, the Papermoon Sadie V-Neck Embroidery Detail Tank.

It's loose fitting (and therefore forgiving around my post-Carter midsection) and it's my power color.  You have one.  I have one.  It's the color you wear and know you are rocking.  I was pleased as punch when I saw this in the box and the fit sealed the deal for me.

Detail @ the V.  I'm absolutely telling people I hand stitched this.
My cat digs it.

I used to be heavy into cross-stitching back in elementary and middle school (which makes my denim vest wearing make more sense now, I'm sure) and so part of me has a soft spot in my heart for the detail on this shirt.  At $48, it's versatile enough to work in a variety of places in my life.

Now to something that absolutely didn't work. The $54 41Hawthorn Franklin Striped Side Gathered Short Sleeve Shirt.  If you'll remember from my previous posts, I specifically said I didn't want striped pieces.  They were too reminiscent of my maternity clothing and this one was just that, in more ways than one.  I actually thought this was a maternity shirt when I first pulled it out.


Child, please.
I mean, does this, or does it not look almost exactly like the maternity shirt I wore when Nick and I took our "We Love Raleigh" pictures?  Only fuglier and more striped?

I have to say I was really disappointed to get this one.  But we all make mistakes and sweet Blake was just off base on this one.  It's kind of a shame you don't get the same stylist each time.  I realize that would be super hard to make happen since they have so many customers but the consistency of one stylist might have helped avoid this disaster of epic proportions.  (No, I'm never accused of speaking in hyperbole.  Why do you ask?)  Needless to say, this biotch was stuffed back in the return bag immediately.

And finally, the Daniel Rainn Hydie Geo Print Crochet Detail Blouse.  At just $34, this one was quite promising as the modern pattern and color combo of corally red, black and aqua was right up my alley.
I got tired of seeing my own face.  Crop tool activated.
The crochet detail at the shoulders and back was borderline hooker.  But I was ready to take that risk.
The problem was the size.  It was a small, but it definitely fit wide and loose.  As in, I looked a bit like a flying squirrel when I lifted my arms.  And it was even worse when I turned to the side.

Could I easily hide the fact that I'd eaten an entire Easter ham all by myself? Sure.  But is that really what stylish wardrobe is about? If I had loved the other 4 pieces and this was a border piece that, with the discount, would have been free...then yes, I would have worn it.  Maybe tried to belt it or something.  But as it stands, I'm only keeping the turquoise tank.  Unless a surprising number of people I trust actually like the dress, too.

So was it the best box?  No, not really.  But I legitimately think I grew a little in my style boundaries as I considered things I'd never pick up in the store.  And I did keep something I really do love.  And the whole process is still super fun to me.  I totally intend to order another fix for next month.  You oughta do the same and tell me how it goes.   I love reading other people's reviews.  

So that concludes this Fix review.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a ham to tend to.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What is art? Are we art? Is art art?

Name that 90's sitcom.

One of my biggest challenges when decorating the house is finding large scaled, cost effective and sentimental art.  Typically, I can hit 2 of the 3 requirements with ease, but all 3?  That's like finding a unicorn.

For instance, I love me some Home Goods and I might be able to find a large, beautiful piece to display, but I have no sentimental attachment to it.  It's just a cool picture of a boat with a monkey as the captain that costs 200 bones.  Or maybe I've got a great picture of my boys to show off but if I blow it up to fill a large void, the 16" tall heads floating above the couch end up haunting your dreams rather than warming your heart.

Well spoiler alert: I found my unicorn.

As any woman of my age does, I was perusing Pinterest for inspiration and found this post.

Fun, right?

I loved the bright colors, the size and the cost.  $8 for a couple packs of shims?  This had potential.  But as I read the tutorial, I kept having the thought that perhaps they'd made this more complicated than it needed to be.  I was very much:

(Full disclosure: I don't think they are dumb at all.  They're obviously creative and fun.  I just think this meme is perfect in every way.  If you don't get the reference, let me enlighten you.  I implore you to click that link.)

I'm not going to recreate their tutorial here, but I will tell you what I did differently.  First, the angles they created were cool, but our house favors a more mid-century feel and I wanted something more in line with that style.  

Plus, what's easier than cutting 45 degree angles with your miter saw?  NOT cutting angles with your miter saw.  Smarter not harder, folks.  The shims are wedge shaped so I was going to get some cool relief pattern by leaving them as they were so I just skipped right on ahead to painting.

Here's where the sentiment came in for me.   To the closet I went, grabbing all the old spray paints I'd used for projects of yore to create my color scheme.  Because I'm a weirdo, my memories are always tied to colors.  True story, if you were to name an NFL, NBA or even MLB player, I would most likely name the color I associate with that person.  That's because somewhere along the way, I saw the uniform they played in, and my brain cataloged that person with that hue.  Then, by process of elimination, I could tell you what team they played for.  It's a weird talent but not one that I've honed.  It's just the way my brain works.  I couldn't tell you what I ate for breakfast this morning but I could tell you the exact shade of orange that the daybed in our old beach house was from when I was 6 years old.  /tangent.

So that being said, as I pulled out each can to paint the shims, I remembered the places they were used.  The bubblegum pink was used to paint a colleague's office as a prank.  The orange was used to redo the chandelier at the Glenwood house.  The blue was used on a project for my sweet friend, Kristine.  I loved the idea of tying all of these memories into one piece.  And the best part?  I already owned the paint so it was FREEEEEEEEE.

I laid out a couple of pattern options and decided on a more staggered look.

Pretty good...


The other part of the tutorial that didn't make a lot of sense to me was gluing these babies directly to the wall.  I'm not sure how that would ever be a good idea.  So I bought a piece of 2' x 4' x 1/4" birch plywood that was a nice large scale and adhered the shims to the board.  That way I could hang it, move it, take it on trips, etc.  I think it put me back about $7.  So if you're playing along at home, this project ended up costing about $15.  (Update: add in the cost of the bolts to mount it and we're up to $17.)

So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I painted.

Once everything was dry, I laid out my pattern, balancing all the colors throughout.

Nick trimmed off the ends with our saw but they are honestly so thin, you could do it with a box cutter or even an exacto knife.   We pre-drilled some holes at the corners and put the bolts in.  Husbo had the genius idea that if the shim cracked at all where we drilled the hole, a washer would cover that up.  And it gave the mounting a little more substance visually.

Token bolt-tightening action shot.

And the angels sang.

I realize it might not be everyone's jam, but it sure is mine.  The living room is pretty neutral in color (on purpose...so I can adapt it from season to season) so this pop of fun is just what she needed.  And for under $20?  SHUT YOUR FACE.  I walk by it every so often and try not to stare but I can't help it.  She's a hot tamale.

In my heart of hearts, I believe Lisa Turtle would approve.