Monday, September 5, 2016

a post-grad capsule wardrobe experiment



What interested me most about capsule wardrobes is the degree of intentional consideration that they require. There's this slow thoughtfulness that seems to color their particular flavor of consumption in a way that I find fascinating. As a recent post-grad moving from a mix of yoga pants and cute dresses to first grade appropriate attire, I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of capsule wardrobes and how the framework lends itself perfectly to good ol' fashioned wardrobe analysis. No matter who seems to be the speaker, all the guidance seems to boil down to two useful questions.

What do you have in your closet? 

What do you need in your closet?

As I said, I'm coming out of college. My perspective is more geared towards building a teacher wardrobe from the ground up, particularly as I've recently realized that with this particular group of students my beloved skirts are not an option. Which I am trying to accept with serenity and grace, rather than getting huffy (as I keep telling myself, next year will be different).



When I started this journey, I think I started with the perspective that I didn't have enough clothes to get me through my teaching year. I was a college student; I'll need so much, I'd think, while poring over websites with clothes I honestly could not afford as a student and still can't as a teacher. But when I looked over my closet before beginning this fall. I realized that I had more than I'd ever thought. Enough for a workable short term feminine/business casual/classic teacher capsule wardrobe. Since then, I've realized the dearth of pants (I had two pairs of jeans in there and that was it), but to start with, I'm fairly well set up. 

It's not perfect, but I'm embracing something I consider the essence of capsule wardrobes: accept that the "just right" closet doesn't happen overnight. Even the people who can afford to spend $500 on clothes every capsule don't get everything just so the first go round. That's the idea of investing in clothes. You have to be patient and wait. So yes, I will be occasionally wearing my 100% polyester blouses that I got for free from my roommate last year that fit and look like scrubs and feel like wearing a plastic bag. I have other needs (see: pants) that are more urgent than making sure that laundry day feels as cute and put together as the first day of freshly laundered clothes.

Monday, August 29, 2016

late summer favorites


I've started school already, so my mind is still a little confused that there's still almost a month of summer left to go before we get into fall, based on the calendar. Here's what I've been loving this summer. 

The Office: Jim and Pam make my life feel better, amidst a complicated move, a depressing world, and helping my sister with her wedding. 

The Batman: My brother and I watched The Dark Knight together, and it was amazing. Absolutely, indescribably amazing. It’s kicked off a nostalgic desire for the Saturday morning superhero cartoons I watched when I was a kid, so I’m gleefully devouring The Batman on Netflix, even if back in the day, I only watched Batman when Batgirl joined in Season 3. 

Breeberry’s bullet journal: I’ve been trying to get more into designing my bullet journal, and her weekly spreads have been super inspirational in that quest.

Burt's Bees lipstick in Lily Lake: Mine was unfortunately destroyed after not too long of owning it, but I loved the color, the practicality of the application and opacity, and the feeling of finally having a truly moisturizing lipstick. 

Tarte Tartelette in Bloom palette: Though I haven’t really had anywhere to go that really merited a dressed up eye look, I’ve really enjoyed the pigmentation and the longevity in my simple little day to day looks. Rocker is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite easy eyeshadows for days when I want to look neatly put together, but not futz around with more than one color.

The Brown Bag Teacher: As I've started teaching, this blog has helped me think through my classroom in ways I hadn't even previously considered. Teacher hero right there.

Colette Patterns Dahlia: This pattern was supposed to be my graduation dress, but it turns out that sewing a dress while studying for finals, being sick, and well, graduating is almost impossible. I’ve instead been chipping away at it during the summer, and the amazing instructions and high quality fit (straight from the pattern!) have me sold on Colette patterns. And probably indie patterns in general.

Unfancy: I’ve loved this blog for a while. Caroline’s style in every possible way is beautiful, from her clothes to her photos to her web design, but her words are even better. I find her take on a simple, “just enough and just what is needed” lifestyle inspiring. Maybe it’s because I’m moving twice this summer, maybe it’s my itch for cleanliness and order that comes with transitions, but I find myself drawn again to her pages, after I daydream about mass consumerism, of course.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

hello again



Hi blog.
Long time no see.

I'd kinda lost interest in blogging after my student teaching ended. That particular over share story can wait for another day, but suffice it to say, when I sat down to start a classroom blog, I was surprised to find posts ideas popping up for this on. For the first time in months, I thought about writing for the Internet again. Or rather, writing and publishing it on the Internet.

So what have I been doing?

I graduated college, with the appropriate pomp and circumstance and silly hat.

I got a job teaching first grade at the very same school where I joyfully student taught last fall.

I decided to move back to St. Louis, where I’ve been living for the past few years.

I choreographed for a few different productions, essentially staging my choreographic swan song.

I sewed a top, tried sewing a graduation dress (that I’m only just now finishing), and knitted a sweater.

I joined the smartphone generation and got an Instagram.

I got a car and named it Judy and made some new moves towards adulthood.

I decided to experiment with a capsule wardrobe for this fall to see how it works at helping me develop a work/adult wardrobe.

I’ve decided I want to come back but in a slightly different way. I do want to write and publish more. I think I like this blog during my transitions -- and I’m facing my biggest transition ever in the coming months -- so I want to come back to the creator side of the blogging community and make something, even if it’s just for me. And with that in mind, I think I’m going to write a greater variety of posts. I’m unsure what that’ll look like, but I know that a few things won’t be first and foremost in my mind, growing an audience or trying to be any one thing in particular. I’m a chispita, unique and prone to going her own way. After all, that’s what sparks do.

Monday, November 2, 2015

me-made-monday: making it work skirt


I look surprisingly angry in this picture. Don't really know why. 

Once upon a time, I thought a fun thing to do would be to post an outfit with at least one me-made item every week. What with the busiest semester of my life, it hasn't worked yet, but no time like the present to start! I'm hoping to get a bit better and a bit braver about taking pictures of myself. 
At the beginning of the semester, my roommate was going through a closet purge, much to my benefit. Shirts, a skirt, an absolutely gorgeous red silk dress--her castoffs got me through student teaching. This skirt started as a lovely, but not quite me dress. I wasn't a big fan of the coral under the lace or the slightly too big fit, but I loved the pockets. So I took it apart and gathered up the skirt into a nice wide piece of black elastic--perfect teacher wear!


I wore this exact same outfit on a typical boring school day and also to parent-teacher conferences. I felt so professional and chic and teacher-y that it deserved a repeat!



Sunday, September 27, 2015

the view from sunday

A boy gave me flowers. His name is Trader Joe.

Did you ever read the E. L. Konigsburg book The View from Saturday? I loved it in grade school, feeling that it was clever and brilliant and loving how it taught me that posh once was an acronym for "port outward, starboard home." Right now, I'm remembering all these books I loved as a little precocious reader because I have a little precocious reader in my first grade class.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of my to-do list (which could span a dozen pages, at least) and the importance of most of it. Some of it is only reading for classes, but I also have a number of things for my teaching certification. My lifetime, will-I-graduate-and-be-able-to-teach-and-be-a-successful-adult things. So this Sunday I am trying to clamber to the top of my to do list and feel like I'm staying afloat, instead of slowly drifting to the bottom of the pool.

Today is a day for buying a delicious cup of coffee, grateful for kind friends and gift cards. It's a day for walking around in the grey mistiness.  It's a day for getting one thing at a time done. It's a day for lighting a candle and breathing in the sweet smell of evaporating stress to the tune of Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. It's a day to think of picking up writing and creating again.

It's also a day for lesson planning and for slowly ticking off things I need to do, for making beans and tea and feeling like my budget will survive this moment. When those things, the practical things of my life, are paired with calm, I feel less like crumbling into a mess of worry.

It is easy for me to pretend that next week, next month, next year, will usher in a season of my life that will be easier to handle. But living in the future will not help me with the very real here and now. Here and now, I have a life, a good life, full of joy and wonder, if I can only stop long enough to see it. Yes, it is on a strict budget. Yes, it's full of things to do and complete and finish. Yes, it's busier than I would like. But it's also more fulfilling than anything I have ever done before in my life.

The view from Sunday is not as bleak as it may have seemed Saturday night or Thursday morning. The view from Sunday demands taking a deep breath and accepting this here, this now. This is my life now, and from Sunday, the view is pretty spectacular.

Friday, September 18, 2015

finished: the changeling sweater


Two years ago, I made a sweater. It was beautiful. I loved it. And I promptly sent this mostly wool sweater through a dorm room wash-and-dry cycle. It now fits my younger sister beautifully. I'm finally returning to the pattern, after a fully appropriate two year mourning period. Same beautiful silk/wool fiber and everything, except now in wine, instead of blue.

This time, though, the fey folk got involved. During the process of working the body, I frogged from almost the armsceyes to the waist twice because of silly little mistakes. Then the same nightmare happened with the sleeve caps. My current theory is that the changelings are mixing up my work at night, because it couldn't possibly be that I have knitted the entirety of the sweater in my living room with varying levels of chaos, at varying levels of alertness, with a constant stream of reading material or videos to distract me. Nope. It's definitely the changelings messing up my work.

Pattern: Lepidoptera
Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss Lace in Port

Also important note: I left my house. These were taken in the alley between my house and the house next door. Don't they have the sweetest giant plant? Sometimes (as in a few weeks ago) it has the most gorgeous giant pink and white flowers. Those beautiful, beautiful flowers inspired me to take pictures of this sweater outside, but then I dragged my feet, and the flowers died back. Typical.



I feel like a lot of my thoughts on this sweater, this fiber, and this pattern have already been said. To be sure, this time the changelings inspired me with all kinds of mucky ideas about the sleeve cap, and now it lays funny (I sense yet another unpicking coming up), but for the most part, it's the same lovely, comfortable, elegant sweater last time around, just red as the wine sitting in my fridge.


So I'll just leave you with a deluge of pictures--most of which, to be perfectly honest, came out super weird. Like this one. Look at that weirdo!


Long story short: I love the sweater. I love the color. I need to redo those sleeve caps, so that they stop feeling funny. Also, some days I can't take a normal person picture to save my life. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

finished: fourth of july shorts



I didn't actually wear these on the Fourth of July. I did, however, cut them out that day. Also, high waisted shorts instantly feel vintage and a little forties-style patriotic to me--I decided on the styling for these photos while cutting out the fabric!


I may have then suddenly realized that the forties/vintage/patriotic poses that worked so well in my mind didn't really feel like they worked in photos. At least, not this time, with my camera self-timer ticking precariously away atop a kitchen chair.

The deets
Pattern: Simplicity 5499, copyright 1982
Fabric: 7/8 yd denim, maybe 1/2 yd of random lining fabric my little sister let me use
Size: 12 (26-1/2" waist, which explains a lot about that waist)
New techniques: "round derrière" alteration, waist alteration, fly zipper, making trousers in general?

Inspiration {sources: 1 (the pattern), 2 (Nina Leen), 3}
I found these beautiful shorts on Modcloth towards the end of the semester, and fell in love--the sweet, subtly vintage styling possibilities were just too much. Unfortunately, I'm a broke student, and I don't have $40 plus shipping to spend on one pair of shorts, especially because I can't wear them this fall for student teaching--broke chispitas gotta prioritize. Obvious answer? Make them for less--yes, sewing can still save you money! But I'd never made trousers before, and I'd never really tried to do serious alterations. And with a round, full bum and a distinct pear shape, alterations are not an option for me when it comes to trousers. Here, I did a "round derrière" alteration (maybe a little too much of one) and took in the waist (not enough--I probably really need to do a sway back adjustment).

The guts--also look at the Fourth of July pockets!
The pattern itself was great just because it walked me through every possible trouser alteration. I totally could have looked up trouser alterations in one of the multitude of sewing books somewhere around the house, but I really appreciated having the alterations right there in the pattern, specially tailored towards pants with a back yoke, like jeans, as opposed to darts. While I still ran into some problems (probably stemming from lack of belief that I would need to take that much out), the instructions themselves were excellent. (Fun fact: My mom made these pants waaaay back in the day, when the pattern was much, much newer. She even had the little card she made of her measurements and planned alterations inside the pattern envelope. It was so much fun to see! And also made me understand where my pear shape comes from.)


Do these fit perfectly? No. You can see the little roll of fabric above that is either too much of a FRA (Full Rear Adjustment--I'm not saying round derrière again) or proof of my sway back. Next time-- and there will be a next time--I'm going to do a sway back alteration and make that waist fit tighter. But with a belt, they fit pretty well, especially around my bum. And my mom told me that they were really slimming and flattering on me (take that, all you advice for pear shapes that say I should never wear high-waisted trousers!).

I love these shorts so much, even with the little extra fabric round my waist. I feel so unobtrusively vintage-y in the best possible way. And for the first time since maybe sixth or seventh grade, I feel good about how I look in a pair of trouser-y shorts, particularly from the rear. While doing the FRA, I kept thinking about how sad wearing pants has made me feel, ever since I started developing hips and a round bum. The spandex-y jeans just make me feel like I'm too big, too curvy to really wear jeans. But these make me feel okay about myself. They make me feel like I can be beautiful in a pair of shorts, instead of feeling like I should go back to hiding.

Classic Lisa blog photo--had to have one!
In other news, if all goes as planned, I'm teaching a math lesson for observation (eek!) as this post goes up. Student teaching has so far been an amazing process, and I can't wait to keep learning so much from my cooperating teacher and students. Happy Wednesday!
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