Posts Tagged ‘Prints’


1. Blue striped cardigan with faux buttons, wool

. . . . but no one thinks of changing himself.”

~ Leo Tolstoy

So we went Macy’s to “Shop for a Cause” with our AHOPE coupons.  AHOPE is an organization that supports African HIV+ Orphans and international adoption.  I like to daydream about adoption (My dayream goes like this: I want another child! Hmm first I need to be a foster parent.  Wait that would take a lot of work.  I don’t even have time to feed the cat. Maybe I don’t need another child?) 

It’s a personal thing.  Kids are good and adoption is great, so no one should rule it out completely.  In the meantime, we can change the world in little ways.  Shop for a Cause is a promo/fundraiser for charities all over the U.S.  The charity sells coupons for $5, you get 25% off. Macy’s gets more customers, you get a good deal on anything priced over $20.  Why Get Dressed met at Southcenter, where we got to see other charities participating by selling their coupons in person at Macy’s.  This included a Seeing Eye Dog group. And WOW if there is anything cuter than Seeing Eye Puppies, don’t tell me!  I will definitely adopt it.

Ridiculous plaid shirt

2. Long cotton plaid shirt with shirred back elastic

Our contingent consistent of dmama, our special guest, and myself.  I’ll admit we had to push ourselves a bit to get out of the toddler department (two daughters and two sons between us).  Southcenter Macy’s has a premium denim department with accompanying premiumdenim-worthy designer tops, so that’s where we started.

We have three contrasting body types, self-identified as Apple, Citron and Pear(Tall).  Wouldn’t it be fun to all try on the same thing and see what we could learn?   Even if it’s buugly and way out of our comfort zones? So we did! My observations:

1. Striped Cardigan. Stripes are WAY out of my comfort zone, for reasons I can trace to childhood.  I was the “flowered” one and my sister was the “sailor striped” one. So, no stripes for me. Aki on the other hand loves them.  This sweater was a bit itchy and she didn’t like the shoulders on her so much.  I wasn’t crazy about the nautical stripe/ military collar, but the structured shoulders work on me. The trick with this sweater is it doesn’t REALLY button. It just hangs like that. It hangs well on me, so I bought it. But I will confess I later returned it because 1. I hadn’t worn it for weeks and 2. It cost more than I thought it would — only one of my discounts applied so I paid $68 instead of the $38 I had hoped for. Cute though.

2. Plaid shirt. These colors were bad.  If we’re going to do plaid, shouldn’t we do an all out Tartan palette?   Go for high-contrast, go for forest green and navy blue. This was like Clan Miami Vice with the pastel 80’s thing. It was also that thin, thin cotton that you just know is going to wrinkle like crazy and shrink when you put it in the dryer, which you’re surely not supposed to, but who wants to be more fussy with a cotton plaid shirt?  It also is really long. I used to always want my shirts really long to cover me up.  Now I realize it truncates my leg line and makes me look top heavy with a big butt.  The length and shoulders were good on the Very Tall person.  The butt coverage worked on the small-hipped Apple person.  The structured shoulders and collar worked on Citron (stabilizes weak shoulders and draws attention away from bust/tummy). Other than that: fail.

3. Ruffly Purple Mess.  I grabbed this pretending it was a joke.  Really I loved that color — that gorgeous true purple that isn’t marred by any 90’s-looking burgundy tones.  I loved the floral. I loved the ruffles.  Can I please have a dance recital now? No, I cannot.  This is too short for a dress and too long for a top, so apparently we’re supposed to wear it with leggings.  The empire waistline CAN WORK, because it emphasizes the ribcage which is my smallest measurement.  But then the ruffles made me look pregnant all over. Like even my butt looked pregnant.  Also, I hate to buy things that don’t fit in my life (practice law, schlep kids to Target, pull weeds in the rain). But then sometimes I really want something silk and ruffly.  I think I just need to expand my life to find better places to wear them. Not this particular top, though.

4. Indigo lace top with ruffly cap sleeves. You can really see the different shoulder effects with this one. Cap sleeves are tricky — they can make small shoulders look slouchy and broad shoulders look flippy.  This is sheer lace (I’m wearing it over a brown camisole) so a person would need something under it.  It has an exposed zipper, which some of us like more than others.  It has a weird sleeves-attached-to-neckline thingy, I wouldn’t rule it out but it is almost a halter top which means it’s hard to find the right bra.  I don’t hate it, it’s just not quite right.  And if you DID love this, what would you wear it with? Skirt and boots? Gray pants? I really don’t like blue tops with jeans.

macys 4

3. Blue lace zipped top; 4. Purple ruffled tunic with empire waist


4, 3, 4.

We also shopped coats, which I summarized previously, without having much luck.  We proceeded to hit a series of children’s stores (Macy’s childrens department was a bit of a disappointment) to stock up on cute things for our cute kids, and then we burnt out.  Overall, a good day! I ended up making an AHOPE donation on behalf of all of you who wished you could come but didn’t make it.

Oh and someone got a bra fitting . . . ALWAYS worth it!  A new bra might be the surest way to focus on taking care of your own self, starting where you are right now (instead of waiting to lose weight, wean your baby, get a new job, or whatever might be holding you back).  It might sound like a grande rationalization for spending money — which I will be talking about more this week — but it’s easier change the world if you truly feel good about yourself.  And looking good is part of this.  And good clothes are part of that.

Probably not the purple ruffly thing, though.

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Nice Rack

Robin experiments with "batwing" sleeves; Aki is meh on a beautiful blue-colored print she dismisses as "too loud."

Today is Aki’s birthday (not yesterday’s advance, Hugh Jackman-rationalizing  PRE-Birthday).  In the spirit of festivity, and to get a sneak peek of what 37 looks like (I have a few months left), I met up to hang out at the Olympus day spa and hit up the Nordstrom Rack. 

We can’t say much about the Olympus Spa, because it is all-women, and men read this blog , so we are sworn to secrecy. Let’s just say it is NOT about clothes and we could NOT take pictures.  But I will say this: Aren’t women beautiful, in all our varying and bumpy glory?   I don’t just mean the “cute” ones or the “young” ones (it’s hard to tell who’s who when everyone wears a shower cap and naught else).   All of us, apples and pears and lemons alike, have amazing bodies with some great features.  We sure come in all shapes and sizes, it is really something. Also you never know who could be sporting some particularly fabulous boobs.

From the spa, we went to the Nordstrom Rack.  I don’t much like the Rack, because like any discount scene, everything is crammed together and it overwhelms me.  But in the spirit of meeting halfway between the Nordstromexperience and the thrifting/ experience (okay maybe not exactly half) we gave it a shot.

What I learned:

1. It’s sad to see something at a steep discount  when you paid full price for it months ago. That beautiful lilac and mandarin print silk blouse by Bellatrix in my prints post ? Was $29, I probably paid $59 or so at the half-yearly sale in May.  I tried to console myself  by thinking of how many times I’ve wore it since then — I’m not about to buy a sleeveless springtimey silk floral top in September — but ouch, that price.

2. Bargains are a cruel temptress.  More than once, we found ourselves ambivalent about a $50-ish top until we realized it was originally $198. OMG A TWO HUNDRED dollar shirt! Look at it? Is it cute? Could I pull it off? No, no, no.  Value must measure worth.  Think about how you’d wear it and whether you’d really love it, not about whether you can impress everyone by saving $148 (that you would never have spent in the first place). I kept myself in check with my “half-again” rule: If it’s tempting at $50, would I pay $75? Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap (or “cheap.”)

3. [Lilac-and-tangerine silk Bellatrix top aside] most things end up at the Rack because something is a leeeetle bit weird about them.  The great stuff sells out at the regular Nordstrom.  Many things look tempting on the hanger but as you can see below, weren’t perfect enough to take home. Of the good/recent stuff, prices were around 40% off — maybe $5 less than the same items had been during the Anniversary Sale .  And virtually everything was out of season — and since I’m not going to Wear it Tomorrow if it’s peep-toe or sleeveless, I can rule it out.


Ella Moss top: I loved the floral, Aki loves this brand. No love for the weirdly placed ruffles, though. And no, pervs, I'm not showing you my bra strap. I'm demonstrating how it looks like a Stegosaurus.


Randomly found a Cardinals shirt! Love the Cardinals, love vintage-look athletic motifs, love this super-soft thick cotton. Pleasantly surprised by the raglan sleeves. But I decided I wouldn't really wear it enough to be worth $17.95. Good thing, because I later discovered this was from the Boy's Department -- They also had the Tigers, White Sox and Mets.


Suzi Chin Maggy Boutique. Great bust ruching and offset waist, nice black-on-gray detail. Too much wtf in the sleeves and neckline for me, especially at $60.


Aki in a beautiful purple print from Sweet Pea. She said it was too low-cut and didn't like the floral.

I love this weird shade of blue but don't like the floral. Too granny. Aki rocks the clingy Calvin Klein paint-splatter print tee, but doesn't like the shoulder ruffles.


I love this color purple, but the Sweet Pea top is a little maternityish. Aki is GORGEOUS in this stripe, look how slimming the torso is! But she doesn't like the shoulders, and correctly notes that the pastel/neon palette is "too 80's."

Cute gray jeans (those are security tags, not a funky belt) that match my Cardinals tee. Wait, is this $90 worth of cool in one outfit? No. Put it back. Cheap is not free!


We checked out shoes, hoping to find the perfect boots for fall jeans/cords , but ACK do discount shoe racks make me dizzy! And they are not cheap enough to be worth it.  We also checked out the kids stuff — I was iimpressed with the great selection of cute-cute toddler girls’ items from the 2008 Pumpkin Patch line.  But in the end, we left with no purchases — we got burnt out, spas will dehydrate you like that, and bailed for cheesecake the Starbucks across the street.  Nothing to show for it this time but pictures.  And happy birthday, blogsister! For mine, we’re in Tacoma and the theme is “Christian Bale.”

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by deathmama

old navy. i LOVED this print. but it was awkward around the chest and the neckline wasn't especially flattering. yes, it's an animal print but it's not leopard so it's progress.

Old Navy. I LOVED this print. but it was tight around the chest and the neckline wasn't especially flattering. Yes, it's an animal print but it's not leopard so it's progress.

Today, instead of complaining about prints I thought I’d challenge myself to try some on. So with an open mind I took my friend C and headed to the Mercer Island Thrift Shop.

I chose some sleeveless shirts in both prints I liked and prints I was doubtful about and tried them on. Just as I thought, I hated the prints that I thought I would not like. I tried, I did. Really. The prints I did like were too small or just not perfect (Would I wear it tomorrow? Do I love it?) so I had to let them go.

Then C found an adorable dress by I.N.C. in pink and black. We both liked it but I definitely thought it was more her style than mine. While I love the color pink, I don’t often look very good in it. C, on the other hand rocks the pink. We both tried it on and I ended up looking pregnant and could not zip up the side around my boobs. C was able to zip herself in and looked very cute. She bought the dress.

she looks good

She looks good

me, not so much

Me, not so much

I left empty-handed.

Aren't they all pretty, lined up like that? Unfortunately none of them worked for me.

Aren't they all pretty, lined up like that? Unfortunately none of them worked for me.

Next we headed to the Value Village in Lynnwood… except that I got lost and then decided to go to the Value Village in Edmonds. Again I tried on many prints but in the more familiar stripes family. I have to say, I almost loved most of the shirts I tried on. Something wasn’t quite right with each of them so I sent them all back. Long ago,  I would have purchased an “almost” shirt just because it was $2.99. One shirt in particular was hard to let go. It was an Ella Moss shirt (which as you recall, are very expensive) but in high-contrast stripes. I wanted it to work but when I put it on I looked pregnant. I guess this shirt was made for people who want to look bigger.

This? This did not work. I wanted it to, so badly. Sigh.

This cute Ella Moss shirt? This did not work. I wanted it to, so badly. Sigh.

If you ever wondered what happens to polk a dots on a breasted woman, darker dots are oblong in the middle and the larger dots get stretched across the boob. I like my hair here.

If you ever wondered what happens to polk-a-dots on a breasted woman, darker dots are oblong in the middle and the larger dots get stretched across the boob. I like my hair here though.

Lastly, don't buy anything called "Nite Sweatz." Same goes for Sag Harbor.

Lastly, don't buy anything called "Nite Sweatz." Same goes for Sag Harbor.

C got an excellent deal on some velvet (velour? Can’t remember) fabric and a purple jacket which she is going to doctor up to use on Halloween to go as… PRINCE! See how these two posts tie together? Nice!

P.S. Do “printed” T-shirts count as prints?

Yeah, it says Slytherin.

Yeah, it says Slytherin.

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by raisa

Mandarin, liliac and peach silk blouse

Mandarin, liliac and peach silk blouse

Everyone has an opinion about prints, whether it’s “no floral” or “nothing too abstract,” or (often) “no prints!  Ever!”  I’ve always preferred my clothes to be “flowered” (in my childhood, this was the opposite of anything “plain”). This has often put me in the danger zone of wearing BAD prints — granny florals, weird stripes, old paisley.  This is a problem.

You probably don’t wear bad prints; You probably have the opposite problem of underutilizing prints*.  This is just as bad.  For one thing, solid blocks of color all the time doesn’t help you avoid a granny look.  It can be aging, in a Lands End Cruise Separates kind of way.  Good prints are a fantastic way to add artistry, vitality and shape to your outfits.  Don’t give up on prints: Take courage. Prints are possible.  What I’ve learned:

Macy's dress: abstract, high-contrast black, white, brown and blue with black waist for shape. LOVE this dress.

Macy's dress: abstract, high-contrast black, white, brown and blue with black waist for shape. LOVE this dress.

 1.  Prints must be current.

  This is a bummer if you like to think there is a Platonic Form of Classic Clothing that will never go out of style.  Each season, prints and patterns evolve in form, color, contrast and scale.  You might avoid “flowers” because you think they look like dowdy wallpaper, but once you acclimate you can see them as hip new look.  Think of how you know a “70’s psychadelic” or an “80’s polka-dot dress” when you see it.  More recent prints are more difficult to discern, but it still matters.  Those years creep up on you . . . have you watched the 1995 Mariners/ Yankees Playoff Game 5 lately? Every year, those clothes look worse.  Uniforms with weird socks and men wearing white jeans in the outfield. At the time, this looked normal.

To keep current: 1. Buy new clothes; 2. Look in more modern stores and departments (Think Savvy, not Narrative, see Nordstrom FAQ), 3. Refine your aesthetic with exposure to current fashion — a little Vogue in the grocery checkout, a little Prime Time tv.  Think of it like music. You need to hear it to get it.  Do not give up.  Start with scarves, if you are scared.

Current prints: Watercolor, stylized, impressionistic.

Current prints: Watercolor, stylized, impressionistic.

2. Prints must be flattering.  I had this idea of taking pictures of all my prints up really close.  You know what? It doesn’t work, because that’s not the point. A print is like a melody in the context of an entire song — it overlays the top, it gives it identifiable personality — but a print does not say anything meaninful on its own.

If you hate prints, start by ignoring them: shop for fit and flattery, regardless of what the fabric looks like.  But include some favorite colors, shades and forms. Wear your eye color.  If you have body parts you are trying to minimize or maximize, USE the prints to work it: Don’t wear big flowers on your big boobs, or a bunch of wide stripes across your wide shoulders.  A good print should take your waist in, create shape, and attract attention to your neck and face.

Current print: Florals with stems and geometric patterns, white-with-bright for high contrast

Current print: Florals with stems and geometric patterns, white-with-bright for high contrast

3. Prints must fit the outfit. It’s possible to combine a print with a textured fabric or a subtle stripe, but if you’re new, don’t push it.  Prints look best with neutrals that aren’t too match-matchy. Nonblack neutrals (chocolate, charcoal, khaki) are a good bet.  Avoid wearing a solid color, like a green skirt, with a same-green-and-flowered print top: That is very Chadwicks of Boston circa 1998, which means it is Over. 

Prints are emotional and cultural (Why NO flowers? They are just botanical forms, are they that weird?) But most importantly they are visual, and everyone’s wardrobe should have some.

Next up: Digging into my closet back to 2002 (and earlier) for some bad prints.

*Unless your name is Jim A.  In which case you might want to pull back on the plaid.

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Mixing Prints, Part Deux

Here’s an unusually short post from me. Today at the park I saw three examples of when mixing prints is TOTALLY OK:

floral sandwiched by dots and stripes.

floral sandwiched by dots and stripes = ok by me

apple top and psychedelic bottom

apple top and psychedelic bottom = right on!

stripes + plaid is always IN for toddlers

stripes + plaid is always IN for toddlers

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There probably aren’t many of us that can say that our moms were our fashion role models growing up.  Chances are, they routinely embarrassed us with their utter uncoolness.  My mom wasn’t particularly badly dressed but she wasn’t exactly sassy or hip either.  Sure, I did occasionally borrow her pastel pink sweater when I was in the 8th grade and then stole her sleeveless chambray shirt in college but that was about it.

My mom and I at the zoo in Japan, summer of 1973

My mom and I at the zoo in Japan, summer of 1973

Digging through my old photos recently I found a picture of my mom with a 1 year old me.  She had her last child (me) when she was 35.  I had my first child when I was 35.  My boy is now 1 so this means that this photo was taken when she was the age I am now!  Wow.  I have sort of a newfound retroactive fashion respect for my mom now.  Not a fashion model or anything, but she is totally cute here.  Keep in mind she also had a 4 year old and a 5 year old to run around after at this time.  Way to go, mom.  You inspire me.

(Please, nothing about the hair! I had caveman hair for the first 10 years of my life.)

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Mixing Prints

We all know the rules.  Bold prints if your frame can handle it, daintier prints if you’re petite.  You can mix them if one is subtler than the other (Or not, if you’re 3 years old).

I’m not a fan of prints on myself.  I’ll admit I just keep away from them altogether.  On the few occasions I tried, I ended up wearing it only once and feeling self-conscious all day or not wearing them at all.  All of my printed shirts end up at my sister’s, which is fine because she looks great in them!  I love the look of horizontal stripes but I know the perils so my toddler ends up wearing almost exclusively stripes.

Prints are great on others, just not on me… that is, unless it’s camo or animal.  This is tricky since I’m 36 and I don’t want to look like a teenager or a hootchie cougar lady.  I tend to stay away from actual animal or camo colors and I confine it to an accent piece.  Since I’m mostly an all neutral solids girl I can pull it off fine.  On occasion I will accidentally wear some leopard print socks with my giraffe print dankso clogs but fortunately no one sees them.  Sometimes I also put on an animal print top forgetting that my purse is snakeskin print. Most of the time I can get away with it because my purse is hanging from the baby stroller.

So what do you do if you have a favorite printed purse?  Most people don’t have time to unload and reload the contents of their purses every time there’s an outfit change let alone think about whether they clash.  I know I certainly don’t.  So where do you draw the line between “Oops oh well haha!” and ugly?


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My Rules

The advantage of age, I hope, is experience and wisdom.  If you make enough of the same mistakes over and over you should start figuring out what works for you, and what doesn’t.  At least that’s been the case with me.  And by starting to cut out certain things from my wardrobe, shopping has actually become much easier.  There are still pieces I’m working through and trying to figure out but these are the things that I absolutely know:

No turtlenecks or collared shirts

I think this is because I was strangled or hung to death in a past life.  I can’t stand having anything around my neck, even jewelry.  Also, by narrowing in on my neck these styles emphasize by comparison my large breasts, which I am now trying to deflect attention from.  I know that tailored fitted shirts that are the right size won’t gape at the breast area but this is just something I’ve decided for myself not to deal with.  Also, it just isn’t ME.

No whites or pastels

I know myself.  I have a true story from college involving myself, three identical cute white Banana Republic shirts, fruit punch, multiple wardrobe changes, and much hilarity.

No special treatment

No dry clean, no line dry, no hand wash (This tends to eliminate a lot of sweaters, which is ok because I tend to run hot).   I don’t have the time.  I have 3 cats and a toddler so I need things that can get barfed/peed/pooped/drooled on that I can throw in the wash and dryer without worrying.  This wasn’t always the case but for the time being I’ve decided shirts can be my disposable item.  They can still look good if the cut and style is right.  Then I balance it out with higher quality denim and shoes.

Long enough shirts

Even though I’m only 4’11” I am long-waisted.  I am proud of my butt but I don’t like exposing my butt crack to the world. I also know a little something about muffin tops.  Therefore I never buy tops that will expose any part of my mid-section.

There are more but that’s all I have time for tonight. After a while you’ll see a sort of a “uniform” start to emerge (More on that later). It is nice to have rules, but rules that are tailor made specifically for you.  There are people who look fantastic in white, or turtlenecks. But you won’t see me in them because I feel uncomfortable and therefore will not look good.

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