Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fashion: What I Wore Friday (Plums!)

I'm often (contrarily) annoyed when I like something that's in fashion. Last year, I spent weeks craving garments in a particular plum-like color, then realized that I was craving them not because I had conjured up that shade from my imagination, or from seeing an actual piece of fruit, but because that shade was everywhere, in store racks and on people. Once my craving was revealed to be a Caving In To Evil Consumer Forces, I resisted for a while. Resistance was aided by the fact that I could never quite find the right shade in the right garment in the right size.

Then I found what I wanted in a tee, and a darker version in a sweater, and I realized that I already owned a lighter version in a scarf, and the caving was complete. I wore them all today, with the my now-customary knee-length black skirt, black tights, and what I call my Dutch Girl Shoes. (A pair of black Dansko flats, but not the clog-shaped ones.) I enjoyed all the color, and am now tempted to go find three shades of green.

That is all. I suspect, frankly, that I just wanted to post the photo.

Image: Mine.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sewing Diary: Red Frankentop (In Work)

Project Category: Wearable Muslin
Garment: Red Frankentop
Fabric: Lightweight red cotton print.
Pattern: Burda 7429. Sort of.

I packed away the drop-shouldered high-collared blouse pattern that I was whining about in the previous post. But then I started to think about it. In the pattern photos and drawings, the bodice and sleeves looked as if they might be a nice, comfortable, but not excessively shapeless core for a blouse. And there's no law that says that I have to keep that high collar. Or any collar.

So I pulled it back out again and started Frankenpatterning it. I started with View B and:
  • Added a little width to the waist and a lot to the hips, by sketching out from the original lines. I spent a while fussing with when to curve and when to straighten out; I need to hunt for some rules on this, for next time.
  • Eliminated the collar entirely and, with the help of some Web tutorials, redrew the neckline to be a fraction wider and a lot deeper, keystone shape? You can see it above, where I have the muslin on the hanger over a black tee to highlight the neckline. I haven't yet drafted the associated facing pattern.
  • Changed the curved hemline to a straight one.
  • Eliminated the front band and then, when I realized that the new neckline allows me to just pull the whole thing over my head, the entire front opening--the front is now cut on the fold. The back always was. This is the point where I recategorized it from "blouse" to "top". Blouses open. Tops pull over. That's my terminology.
  • Eliminated the center pleat in the back.
  • Realized that in adding width and straightening the hemline I had somehow ended up with a front that was a full two inches longer than the back. Added the two inches to the back. Puzzled over how on earth that happened.
  • Theorized that that the removed back pleat, by releasing along the middle of the back, was perhaps intended to provide Stealth Bust Room. Considered whether it would be reasonable to make up for that lost shaping by adding inverted pleats in the front that start at the hem and release just below the bust line, and then realized that View A had exactly that. Oh. So I added them--well, in the physical muslin itself; I have yet to draw them on the pattern. 
  • Realized that the bust pleats, by going all the way down to the hem, were (of course) stealing hip room, and changed them to release above and below the waist.
  • Extended the hemline by two inches on a dead straight line so that I can (hopefully) easily do a nice deep perhaps-interfaced hem.
Still on this pattern's agenda:
  • Drawing those front pleats on the pattern.
  • Whether to replace that waistline pleat with know, a diamond-shaped dart that releases above and below. A double-pointed dart?
  • Whether to replace the pleat that I removed from the back with two pleats at the back, stitched down from the shoulders all the way down and releasing where the front waistband pleats release, to echo the same shaping front and back. Because when I stand sideways the front looks pretty good, and the back looks skimpy. Of course, if I do the dart in front, there goes the echo.
  • Extending the sleeves by two inches, too, for a hem, eliminating the cuffs
  • I'll probably trace another copy of the sleeve, to make three-quarter-length sleeves as an option.
  • Whether a two-inch facing will have a cleaner edge than a two-inch hem, and whether it's worth the trouble if it does.
Whatever I do with darts and pleats, the pattern is much simpler now. No opening. No collar. No cuffs. If I really do like it and wear it, it could be a good subject for experimentation--binding, facing, piping, and so on. The front pleats also give it some flexibility in terms of wearing ease--I can make them deeper for less ease with heavier fabrics and shallower, or removed altogether, for lighter fabrics. In theory.

I think I'm pleased, but I can't be sure until I make a full-fledged wearable version. That may be this one, with a recut back, or I may move on to a third muslin. (The first one, in a heavier green fabric, didn't survive for a photo.)

Image: Mine.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sewing: Shelf Life

When I sew, I often have a slow stuttery line of projects rolling along--one pattern in the tracing and fitting process, another in the middle of a wearable muslin, another in work as a "real" garment, and so on. This means that the delay from first idea to final garment can be, well, years. That used to be fine, because my wardrobe was trapped in amber, or at least in the eighties. The blouse or skirt or dress that I started working on in 1996 was still just fine in, oh, 2011.

But last year my wardrobe started to change. That change bypassed the sewing projects, a fact that I fully realized, well, about an hour ago. Specifically, while trying on the wearable muslin of my most recent alterations to the Sewing Workshop Cowl Top. It's a perfectly nice top, and in fact cowl necks seem to be everywhere right now, but the style is too safely inside my loose, flowing, covers-everything comfort zone. The same is true of the drop-sleeved high-collared shirt that I started tracing several months ago. The same may apply to my recently fitted calf-length gored skirt pattern. When most of my skirts were hovering around ankle length it was fine, almost daring, but now of my newly purchased skirts are hovering around knee length.

So. Realization. It's time for my sewn clothes, not just my purchased clothes, to start acknowledging that I'm not completely column-shaped. That I have knees. That my skin continues down past my collarbone. Stuff like that.

Not only have many of the sewing projects in work exceeded their shelf life, but so has much of my pattern stash. Long gored skirts. Meh. Long skirts with little flirty flounces. Eh. Lovely old-fashioned calf-length A-line gored skirt with shaped waistline. Yeah, whatever. Many of my patterns seem to have expired.

Time for some thinking.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Perfume: Pretty Little Things

I read Victoria-at-EauMG's review of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's The Beat Look, one of the perfumes in the YSL Retrospective Collection for the Denver. Within an hour I had ordered the coffret, containing 5ml mini bottles for each of the scents in the collection. It just arrived today. Yay!

This is not a review; I haven't properly worn any of the scents, though I did sniff each bottle, and responded with a different delighted "ooh" for each one. Nor is it a call for an analysis of Victoria's hypnotic powers.

I'm just musing about minis. I've been buying fewer full-size bottles and fewer samples; it appears that a tiny jewel-like manufacturer's (or artisan's) mini bottle is exactly what I want. Luckily, the independent and artisan perfumers seem to be particularly reliable about offering minis. I say luckily because the independent and artisan perfumers are where I want my money to go. That's part of the reason for fewer samples--if I regret a blind buy, I'm far less annoyed if my money is supporting a perfumer who is making glorious things.

And there's something delightful about storing an entire perfume collection, actual bottles, however small, in a jewelry-box-sized drawer. See down there? That's twenty-one bottles in that little drawer, along with bracelets and a bottle cap for scale. Imagine the collection that I could store in a larger container such as, say, a shoebox.

Of course, none of this would work if I were a lavish perfume wearer. But I'm not--I like to dab a little on, enjoy it for three or four hours, and I'm perfectly content if it fades away after that and if no one else can smell it. Perfume is more like food, for me, than like clothes--it's for my senses and no one else's. That seems to be increasingly true as I grow more interested in actual clothes.


I feel that this post deserves an actual conclusion, but none is coming to mind. Yay minis. That's about it.

Images: Mine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sewing: In which I play with the stash

So, what gives a sewn garment that charmless homemade look?

Just to clarify, I think that a charming homemade look is dandy. I don't need my garments to look like they were made in a factory. I would, in my fantasies, like them to look like they were made in an atelier somewhere, hand-stitched by someone with decades of experience working on thousand-dollar gowns. Or perhaps made in a garret by Cinderella's mice. But I don't need that either; I just want them to look...right.

I've recently decided that a flaw of many homemade garments, or at least many of mine, is the use of only one fabric. I was just looking at my most expensive bra, and I counted at least five different fabrics-and-other-things, including solid silky stuff, striped silky stuff, netting, a structural trim with a pretty satiny stripe edged with little dots, and lace in a diamond-shape pattern that develops into a sort of confetti pattern and then a cool irregular feathery thing at the edge. Of course, it's easier for a big manufacturer to achieve all this variety while avoiding an unintended patchwork look, because the different materials can all be dyed precisely the same color. I owned the bra for months before I found myself idly studying the laundry and noticing everything that was going on with it. I had previously just seen it as, well, charming.

If I look up at the stash shelf, I see a hunk of very narrow-wale corduroy in red. It's perfectly Nice, and if I made my cooking coat again, as a sort of warm indoor cardigan shirt, it would be Perfectly Nice. And boring.

I also have a hunk of twill-weave cotton flannel in almost the same red. If I used the corduroy for the body of the coat and the flannel for the sleeves you'd have to step fairly close to see the two different materials, but once you got there, the result would be more interesting. I could then face the cuffs and collar with a fairly matt-surfaced silk in, again, exactly the same color, so that they slide comfortably over my neck and wrists and also add a third visual texture. The transitions wouldn't shout, and wouldn't advertise any wobbles, but the variety would take the jacket from "Meh" to "Oh." I think.

After I stared at those together, I started digging through the stash for other combinations. No commitment, just brief evaluations of prospective fabric marriages. Fabric speed-dating.

For example, this silk chiffon with a print of concentric circles, and this deep berry-colored silk charmeuse, are each beautiful on their own. But together, with the chiffon draped over the berries, they're gorgeous. I could make a sleeveless shell of the charmeuse, and then a sleeved blouse with the chiffon to go over it, somehow arranging for the pure berry of the shell to show through now and then. That would be beautiful. I might also try to figure out how to add something crisp and white and textured; maybe a Peter Pan color to make it into a crazy-children's-birthday-party blouse. Sadly, I can't do that because I have only a yard of the chiffon and a large scrap of the charmeuse, but I'm in love now, and plotting how to merge them in a scarf.

I'm sadly wishing for a better camera here, because I realize that you can't really see the richness of the silk in that photo; it just looks like an expanse of color. It's beautiful. Believe me.

Digging further, here's a beautiful fluid glossy lightweight wool in a very fine black-and-white pattern, with a lightweight but slightly crisp translucent black-and-white stripe. Would the stripes on the lapel of a jacket look too clownlike? What if I just cut the stripes in strips on the bias and used them for piping or a narrow bias edge? Ooh. I think I like that idea.

Then there are these slightly metallic dots. I love them, and I think that they could merge in a fraction more subtly, perhaps as the collar of the lapel. Actually, all three--wool, dots, and narrow bindings with the stripes--could theoretically coexist.

Then there's this circle stuff. I don't think that it could be a remotely subtle touch on the wool, but I think that it could be the primary fabric of some other garment, with the wool as a subtle touch on it. As, again, the collar half of a lapel, or a narrow edge on pockets or buttonholes or rolling round and being an inside facing with just a narrow line on the outside.

Or maybe the strip-strips again, on the circle stuff? Ooh.

It's a good thing I have five yards of the wool; I get to try at least two things, plus there ought to be plenty of scraps left.

Am I being too conservative? What about the combination below? (That's flowers, not cow spots, I promise.) I could...

OK, I have no idea what I could do, except, oh! The print is a very thin, smooth cotton; it could do just fine as a lining in a knee-length jacket/coat made of the wool, a swingy coat where the lining shows frequently, sort of like that coat that Buffy was wearing in the slow-motion running scene in the library when Kendra...OK, that's a spoiler, but you know that coat? Shaped kind of like that. I'm not shaped at all like Buffy, but we're not at the realism part of the sewing project planning yet.

Possibilities! Ooh!

Images: Mine

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reading: "Where's the murder?"

Since December 31*, I've finished four books:

The Obituary Writer, by Ann Hood. (Fiction)
Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. (Fiction)
She Matters, by Susanna Sonnenberg. (Creative nonfiction?)
The Secret Life of Pronouns, by James W. Pennebaker. (Nonfiction)

I liked them all. But none of them had a murder. I'm not sure that I approve of that.  And I'm only partly joking.

I've grown accustomed to the prominent event spikes in a murder mystery--the lead-up to the murder, the murder itself, the discovery, the investigation, the solution. In a good murder mystery (and there are plenty of bad ones) I like the way that those spikes illuminate the characters, their relationships, their personalities, goals, fears, blah. I used to be vaguely ashamed of my diet of mysteries, but I'm starting to feel defensive about my defensiveness. When I finish a nice peaceful book, I often feel that the characters had less depth than the characters in a story that also includes guns, blood, and interrogations in the library. They don't fear for their lives, their freedom, or the lives or freedom of their loved ones, and so it often feels as if they just toddle around on the stage making sophisticated grown-up remarks about their lives. No salt, no fat.

That's not really true of the two novels above, and I think that's why I'm making this discovery--I was surprised to read a couple of non-murder-mysteries that did have interesting characters and situations, even if I would have been happier to see somebody get shot. The novels aren't described as literary fiction, though, so I can't claim to have broken through my barrier with that genre. (Or non-genre.) But I liked them.

At this point I feel that I should say something about all the books, but I find it oddly difficult to discuss books. I worry that I'll spoilerize them, and no doubt I worry that I'll look stupid. I'll try to get that machinery oiled by offering random thoughts, in the hope that someday I'll write proper reviews someday.

The Obituary Writer is a two-strand story about two women, one in 1919, one in 1961. I find myself wanting to assign perfumes to them--I decree that the independent young woman in 1919 buys Mitsouko for herself, while the 1961 housewife wears Caleche because it's what her husband thinks his mother would approve of.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a story of childhood merging into adolescence, with a fairy-tale air in spite of having no unrealistic elements at all. If I visualize The Obituary Writer it looks open and clear, a well-lit piece of television with good costumes and very fine cinematography. Tell the Wolves I'm Home is darker, thicker, less literal, a tapestry that moves. I'm not sure if it's my favorite of the four or not, but if all four authors came out with new books at the same time and I had to pick just one to buy first, I'd pick this author's. I want to see what her next creation looks like.

She Matters explores feminine friendships, and a longing for feminine connection and, as I interpret it, mothering. I take it personally because I don't take it personally. Do I have that same longing? Do I seek to replace the mothering that I didn't really get, like the author does, or do I truly not feel a void that wants filling, the void that for her was apparently a cavern that drove much of her life? The book feels meandering and unstructured, but that also feels like its proper structure, if you see what I mean. Don't worry if you don't, because I'm not sure I do either. Halfway through, I wasn't going to finish it; by the time I was done, I was ready to find the author's other books.

The Secret Life of Pronouns is the kind of munchy nonfiction book that I enjoy. I mentally class it along with Freakanomics and Why We Buy and other books that present scientific research in an enjoyable, NPR-interview sort of way. It suggests that our writing--such as, for example, this piece I'm typing away at right now--tells us all sorts of things about ourselves, our confidence, our relationships, blah. (Hmm. Could the word "blah" be used to tie my writing to me, and also to a specific time, since I've only recently started using it? And why am I using it? Did I get tired of the word "etc." What does it mean?)

*Footnote: So, that's four books before mid-January. I used to do the 100+ book challenge, and that would put me just about on track, at least by my own rules, which credit me for books that I finish in the year in question. Without that rule, every year I entirely lose credit for the big bag o' books that I'm halfway through at the end of December.

Even so, I realized that trying to read more books resulted in my reading fewer books. I don't know why; it doesn't make much sense, but there it is. So this year I plan to log/blog books finished in the year, without worrying about keeping up with any specific reading rate.

And that is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sewing Diary: Windowpane Check Pajama Shorts

Project Category: Indoor garment (This category includes all non-street-clothes, like pajamas, cooking coats, aprons, blah.)
Garment: Pajama shorts
Fabric: White linen (or cotton?) with a blue windowpane check.
Pattern: Butterick 3034 pajama and nightshirt pattern.

It's a new year. I'm going to try to post each completed sewing project this year. We'll see how that works out. There's not much to say about these actual garments--dead simple pajama shorts. But that never stops me from babbling.

For example, I've had the above pattern for a long time. I bought it new, and I see that it's being sold as vintage from 1983, which would mean that I may have gotten it during my first year of college.

It's the rare old pattern in my stash that's actually been used--every time I resume sewing, I seem to make something from it. I made a pajama top and shorts for Himself from it in a nice sorta-quilted sorta-denim fabric, years and years ago. (Though not quite as long ago as I thought, because I remember now that I embroidered it with my Viking Rose, which I still think of, decades later, as "new".) A top for me in a sizzlingly gaudy green cotton print, a bit more recently. A pair of chicken-print pants, even more recently, featured in the "foot" shot in this post. They're all in at least occasional use. And I would swear that there's a pair with a gaudy pattern of concentric circles, lying around somewhere.

All those years ago, to keep the pattern from ripping, I glued the tissue to some sort of plasticized white paper with rubber cement. More recently I re-traced the pants as shorts on Swedish tracing paper, I guess to avoid folding them up. The pattern now requires its own gallon Ziploc to hold all the pieces--and I lost the instruction sheet. Oops. That's going to make it hard to make the top again, with its neck facing and weird halfway-down button placket.

But pajama shorts are easy enough to build without an instruction sheet.

This time, I didn't use a gaudy print, but instead a quietly tasteful windowpane check that was originally intended for a nice tailored shirt. But (1) the intended tailored shirt pattern has been demoted from its Tried-N-True pattern status due to an unreliable lapel, and (2) that windowpane check started to look, to me, like something that should be matched. I don't match stripes. I just don't. I will someday. Really. But "someday" is distant.

So on one of those "Oh, my God, look at the size of my stash!" days, I grabbed it and cut it into pajama shorts before I lost my nerve. I cut two pairs, one on grain and one on the cross-grain. I was curious to know if the two behaved differently, but I lost track of which was which. I was pleased, though, to end up with no scraps worth saving, at least for anyone but a quilter. I refuse to become a quilter. It's not compatible with hoarder genes. Or, really, it's too compatible. That's the danger.

OK, that's a lot of rambling. I cut the shorts. I did most of the sewing with the serger, with the five-thread safety stitch, with the knife on. I learned that I'm not ready to sew with the knife on for precise patterns--my seam allowances get a little tipsy. But for pajamas, it was just fine. I finished all the hem edges with the serger, too; the only part done with the regular sewing machine was sewing down the hem after I turned it just once instead of fussing with turning it and then turning it again.

I love the serger. Love. Adore. How did I sew without it? Finishing raw edges was my very least favorite part of sewing, and the serger fixes that all up.

Oh, and this is the first pair of pants that I ever made without even momentarily mis-sewing them as one big leg. I suppose the permanence of the serger knife motivated me.

Pajamas. Comfy. Yay. However, they don't photograph all that well if you're not willing to model them. They were unhappy about the lack of excitement in their folded-in-the drawer snapshot, so I went with them folded over the tub. Pajamas are all about bubble baths, after all, right?

That is all.

Images: Mine.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Girliness: Meep!

I used up a sample-sized jar of sugar scrub.

I'm wearing an underwire bra.

I bought a cover stick. I bought a bottle of spray-on hair conditioner. I've used both.

I ordered a sample of one of Aftelier's Face Elixirs.

I own a piece of Spanx "shapewear" and I've worn it twice.

I placed an order from Sephora, and the package didn't contain any perfume. The free samples I chose weren't perfume either.

And the scariest item:

I'm wearing makeup.


I won't be wearing it for long, because I'm going to bed in less than an hour. But I received a lovely eyes-and-lips Christmas gift, and there was that shipment from Sephora, and I was still mulling over The Non-Blonde's post about starting to wear makeup in your thirties and forties, and I had some awake time between my afternoon I've-got-a-cold nap and my evening I've-got-a-cold early bedtime. So. I sat down to try it all.

I don't hate it. I took pictures of myself for future reference, and I don't hate them either.

What's with that?

I don't-hate-it even more when I put my hair up; with it down, I look older. Not in a good way. With it up, I look much better. I'm not quite sure what to do with that, either.

So what did I wear?

Moisturizer: Alaffia Neem & Shea Butter Skin Recovery Face Cream. I didn't get recommendations for this; a few weeks ago my face was falling off from winter and my skin's startled reaction to the sugar scrub (No, I didn't use it too often! I don't think.) and this was the  first cream on the grocery shelf that was (1) for faces and (2) said anything about fair trade. So I got it. It did a nice job of reattaching my face.

Primer: (Primer? I'm still absorbing this primer concept.) Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, Oil Free. I suspect that The Non-Blonde recommended it, because I remember an evening of switching madly between her blog and the Sephora website, before I submitted that order.

Foundationesque layer: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, in Porcelain. Same Sephora order.

Powder: Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder, Translucent. Again with the Sephora.

Color: Bobbi Brown Everyday Pretty Lip & Eye Palette. (This was the lovely gift.)

Hardware: a Sephora lip brush and some "Breathe" brushes. And some sponges from somebody or other. I didn't research the hardware online, I just bought it, the brushes from my local Alchemy Botanicals, who I mention because I like 'em and they carry perfume.

I applied the products with the hardware, in what I hope is the officially recommended order.

I really kinda like the result.

I'm scared.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fashion Goes Geeky: Travel Wardrobe Engineering

We just got back from a two-week two-climate trip, without convenient laundry facilities at either location. Hauling all that luggage led to a lot of Never Again thoughts, combined with bonus This Time I Really Mean It thoughts. It's time for the travel wardrobe. Really. I'm serious. Stop looking at me like that. (Edited to offer clarification: The Never Again was about the luggage. The size and weight. The failure to create a nice nimble wardrobe that could be carried in a nice nimble suitcase. Not about the traveling. I mention this to remove ambiguity.)

Now, when many websites and books talk about travel wardrobes, they focus on making stylish outfits, and ensuring variety in your clothes, and dealing with wrinkles. That's not the issue here. I'm talking about (1) carrying fewer clothes, while remaining (2) not-stinky. I love perfume, but I want it to be optional. As I see it, that's all about Sweat Layer Management.

Does that term already tell you what I mean? The Sweat Layers of an outfit are the garment(s) that shield other garment(s), and the world in general, from bodily substances. Including, but not limited to, sweat. When traveling, those are the garments that you have to pack enough of to change every day, and haul home again, in our case in that plastic bag that hotels provide for, but we never use for, their extortionately-priced laundry services. We call it the Toxic Bag, as in, "I'm out of underwear! Did you wash the Toxic Bag?"

Now, there are alternatives to hauling these garments back and forth, such as the one expressed by Christina Yang on Gray's Anatomy as "I don't do laundry, I just buy new underwear." The cost of a checked bag these days makes that sound more plausible than it did at first thought. But I'm not ready for that step. I want smaller and lighter suitcases, not disposable clothes.

And anyway, many apparently outer layer garments act as a Sweat Layer whether they like it or not. Shirts, for example; until antiperspirant commercials stop being fiction, a shirt worn next to your underarm is a Sweat Layer garment, even if it doesn't end up in the Toxic Bag. But it also has to serve for fashion, warmth, and not-being-naked. Those extra functions probably make it bulkier in the suitcase than it would be if it were strictly doing the Sweat Layer job. So why not split the jobs? Make the Sweat Layer as low-bulk as possible, or, if you're tolerant of hotel sink laundry, as washable as possible. And then float the outer layer above it, staying nice and clean and re-wearable.

So if I'm going to a cold place for a week I can pack seven heavy flannel shirts, or I can pack seven short-sleeved low-scoop-neck silk undershirts and two flannel shirts. (In theory, it could be one flannel shirt, but I like to keep the Tomato Sauce Risk Factor in mind.) Or seven undershirts, two little cotton or silk blouses, and a warm sweater that I can wear in transit. (The sweater would be black. Tomato Sauce.)

The problem is finding the undershirts. That's why this started out to be a sewing post, but, really, there's not much sewing about it. There are garments that I want, and I might have to sew them to get them or I might not. I want those undershirts, with a neck lower and the sleeves shorter than any sleeved garment that I ever wear, so that the shirt is invisible. I have yet to find them.

I also want a magic bra that rolls up tiny and packs small and holds everything up without an underwire and without those sturdy comfy jogging bra straps that always show just a little bit beyond anything but a snug crewneck shirt. That's not likely to happen, and neither is hand-washing underwire bras in the hotel sink, and I'm certainly not going to make my bras. So I'll just have to determine my rewearing tolerance, do the math, and pack that many bras in a little pancake in the suitcase. Or pay the extortionate hotel laundry fees.

Below the waist, my strategy depends on skirts. I don't care how many layers I'm wearing, there's a little too much....closeness with divided garments, for me to be comfortable wearing them day after day without a washer/dryer. Skirts also have the advantage that they can stop just below the knee, making a narrowish skirt far less bulky than a pair of pants. (Of course, they can stop well above the knee, but I'm sticking with a mainstream modesty level here.)

So my theoretical wardrobe could consist of (ignoring the conventional underwear layer):
  • Short sleeve scoop neck silk or microfiber knit undershirts (one per day)
  • Lightweight tights (one per day)
  • Shirts (two)
  • Skirts (two)
  • An optional opaque half-slip, if I object to looking the same every day. I could float a variety of gossamer-weight skirts over the opaque slip, and gauzy tops over the undershirts, getting variety with garments that, in a pinch, I could stuff in a coffee mug.
  • Shoes, sweater, and coat, worn in transit.
  • Gauzy silk scarves and jewelry and perfume to reduce boredom.
This all assumes that I won't be wearing heels. (For some other women it might instead mean that they're wearing only heels, but, well, yeah, very funny.) And that I'm staying in a hotel with an iron. Of course, sweat layer or no, there's a limit to how many times I can wear the outer garments, but it's a much higher limit. Extortionate hotel laundry fees might become tolerable.

For the winter, this still leaves a frozen-legs issue, which had me looking at leg warmers, but I just couldn't take the Eighties vibe. Long coat? Long boots? I can wear either in transit, after all, but do I want to wear boots my whole trip? Leggings? A long wool skirt? Get over it and embrace the leg warmers?

The summer is more problematic--while a half-slip is probably still fine, two layers above the waist, both with sleeves, would be painful. On the other hand, in the summer I might just be able to wear those short-sleeved silk undershirts as my shirt. That still leaves a shoe issue: I don't want to wear tights or hose in the heat, I don't like socks with skirts, I don't like wearing sandals in strange places, and I don't like the feeling of bare feet in most shoes. I suspect that the solution is to find a closed shoe that is friendly to bare feet. They have to exist; I just don't know where.

So it's a theoretical plan, with some products to find. We'll see what happens. Meanwhile, thoughts? Advice? Any moments in this post where you said, "Noooo!"? What are your travel packing strategies?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Fashion: What I Wore (Last) Saturday


OK, the "fashion" title is mostly joking, but I did have some thoughts about comfortable and not-unflattering extreme-leisure wear, while I was in the Land of the Mouse, that I might be blogging in time.

Meanwhile, that is all.

Image: Mine.