Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!


Personal Style: What’s Your Type?

Found in my inbox this morning: A slideshow from Refinery29* that suggests we can find our individual fashion identities in one of these categories:

  • Editor Off-duty
  • Club Kid Nouveau
  • Les Sportifs
  • The New Bohemians
  • Lady Hypebeast

I’m curious: When reading through this list, is there one (or more) that immediately strikes a chord before you go to the slideshow? If so, that’s a really good indication of the general direction of your personal style. For me, Editor Off-duty and The New Bohemians sound the most like me, but I think I’ll look at the slideshow before I decide.

Editor Off-duty jacket

Am I more Editor Off-duty or…

The New Bohemians

…a New Bohemian? Or both?

While it’s tempting to go for simplicity and claim just one of these categories as your own, keep in mind that it’s almost impossible to sum up your personal style under a single heading. When I first looked through this slideshow, I found myself wishing that I could just say I’m this or I’m that, and be done with it (certainly would simplify shopping!), but we’re all more complex than that. I really do like putting together outfits that combine modern structure with a slightly quirky side, rather than adopting one look head-to-toe. So, based on this slideshow, I’d call myself Editor Off-duty meets The New Bohemians.

To be honest, even saying that makes me want to rebel just a little and say, “But there’s more to me than that! What about gym clothes? What about tango ensembles??” This made me go back and look through the list of styles in the slideshow once again, but this time with this goal: Put together an outfit with 1 element from each of the 5 types. What do you think? Can it be done?

Tip: I noticed that for each type, there is a suggestion for a jacket, top, pants/dress/skirt, bag, shoes, and an accessory (bag, sunnies)— key elements for creating a complete look— so that’s what I did in the photo below. (It’s interesting that, when you think of these individual pieces in terms of the clothing category they belong to, you start to see the method in the make-an-outfit madness.)

Here’s what I came up with. (By the way, this is something I’d actually wear. Okay, maybe I’d modify those shoes just a bit.)


All 5 types

All 5 fashion types, together in 1 outfit! Editor Off-Duty trousers, Club Kid Nouveau shoe, Les Sportifs top, The New Bohemians bag, and Lady Hypebeast ear cuff. Ta-dah! (Click on the photo to go to the beginning of the Refinery29 slideshow. And speaking of photos, all clothing photos are from the slideshow; I put some together myself to make this image.)

Personally, I much prefer this kind of mix-and-match approach. By this I mean mixing styles; the only “matching” I really ever do is coordinating colors, and the easiest way I’ve found to do that is by creating color palettes for my outfits. In this outfit, for example, the multicolor bag pulls together the red and blue, with the white shoe and gold ear cuff functioning as neutrals.

While it’s certainly possible to dress consistently in just one style, I believe it’s easier to be true to who you are if you give yourself more options; otherwise, there is always the danger of becoming stuck in a style rut (or worse, looking like you’re wearing a costume). The style approach I find the most modern is to start with the general style you feel most comfortable with for your key wardrobe pieces, then add smaller pieces and accessories from a different style perspective.

I’m curious (again): What type(s) do you most identify with? Maybe you consider yourself to be in a category not represented in the slideshow. Are you a one-look-head-to-toe kind of person, or do you like to mix it up— or both?

*The usual disclaimer: I’m not affiliated in any way with Refinery29; I’m just an e-mail subscriber who really enjoys the fashion headlines/advice/inspiration they send me.


Party Garb: Using Key Pieces to Dress Up!

From my cyber-friends at RealSimple comes this helpful slideshow, Festive Outfits for the Holiday Season. And when I say “helpful”, I mean it: the focus is on using just one key piece—which may very well be in your closet already— to create new party-worthy ensembles. The clothes they show include links to buy them, and with prices starting at just $50.00, these options are practical and affordable!

The slideshow categories are The Colorful Dress, The Embellished Jacket, Dressy Pants, The Black Dress, and The Long Skirt (the photo below is one example).

Long skirt

The Long Skirt. Remember Sharon Stone wearing a fancy long skirt and jewels with a plain white shirt (from the Gap, I think) to the Oscars?? At $198.00 (the slideshow said $149.00), this is the priciest item in the slideshow, and you can find it on Piperlime. (Click the photo to go directly to the slideshow.)

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Shades of Excitement: Fall’s Most Wearable Color Trend

Just in from my fashion gurus at WhoWhatWear: the fruity summer shades of red and pink are transitioning to the deeper, richer wines of autumn. This slideshow explores this delicious color trend, from rosy mauve to velvety bordeaux.

Shades of wine and roses

Shades of wine and roses. Click the photo (courtesy of WhoWhatWear) to see the entire slideshow.

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Thrift-Shop Thursday: View from the Trenches

Previously on Thrift-Shop Thursday, I told you about my archaeologist daughter’s last-minute quest for the perfect dig-site wardrobe— and by perfect, I meant quick and thrifty, and she meant practical, yet chic. For a girl who just today wore a black pencil skirt, charcoal-grey cowl-neck top, cream fishnet hose, and taupe heels just to get her hair done, satisfying both of us threatened to be a very tall order. Today, Valerie is my very first guest blogger, with her own take on this thrift-shop-based experience. Welcome her to Changing Your Clothes!

“A garment in the closet is worth two in storage.” —Ancient proverb

What-ho from your guest correspondent. The above-mentioned trenches are also proverbial: I did indeed leap at the recent chance to help excavate an archaeological site within commuting distance of my home address, but we are digging in 1 x 1 meter squares! Although I insist I never actually wailed, “What do I wear?”, proper attire was an immediate concern. Because of the nature of this dig, I needed little more than the clothes on my back and the knowledge in my brain; but by the nature of my recent life, my entire closet was oriented to libraries, museums, and evening events —distinctly indoor clothes. If it were merely a question of finding acceptable work clothes, rugged and washable, it would have been a simple utilitarian jaunt to the nearest clothing-seller and this post could end with this paragraph.

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Chicago Wardrobe Follow-up #4: My Mom’s Edition!

As promised, here’s one last follow-up on my Chicago (ORD) travel wardrobe experience— but this time, it’s all about my mother! It was her trip, after all; I just accompanied her to help with driving, etc., so I really can’t finish up my post-trip reports without covering at least a little of her experience!

Note: If you’d like to get caught up on this whole experience, there’s a list of links at the end of this post.

Silly of me, but I just didn’t think to take pictures specifically of Mom’s travel wardrobe while we were together on this trip, but at least I have some photos of her during various activities and events. (We live in different states.) And she’s been kind enough to send me a list of what she packed, with notes on what she’d do differently next time, so we should be able to get an overall sense of her experience, clothes-wise.

Here’s what Mom packed: Continue reading


Chicago Travel Wardrobe: Follow-up #3

In my previous Chicago Travel Wardrobe follow-up posts, I told you about the last-minute print-top switch, and then got started on the follow-up proper, reporting first on what I wore during the trip from home to Chicago (ORD). Now I’ll give you the details: what I did on my trip, what I wore for each event, and how my travel wardrobe worked out overall.

Fair warning: This post will be an extra-large ORDer, served up by your helpful CYC assistant (me).

First, here’s an ultra-brief recap: I met my mother at ORD (O’Hare airport in Chicago), then spent the next 8 days driving her all over Illinois to visit various relatives and friends. Other than her 60th high school reunion, I had no idea until after I arrived what kinds of events to pack for, so my strategy was, quite simply, to opt for versatility over quantity.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get right to it, journal-style!

Day 1, Outfit #2: Dinner, evening. Arrived late afternoon at ORD Terminal 3, met mom at Terminal 1. Procured rental car, found way out of ORD maze, and drove north to Libertyville, where we would spend most of our nights with my aunt and uncle (Tom’s my mom’s brother). Was obviously still wearing airport ensemble (Outfit #1), but made slight changes before dinner: removed cardi, added green necklace.

Outfit #2: Dinner, Day 1

Day 1, Outfit #2: Dinner. This is what I came from the airport in, minus the scarf and green cardi, and plus the green multi-strand necklace.

Day 2, Outfit #3: Museum, morning. Aunt and uncle suggested at breakfast that we drive up to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to see a Civil War museum they had spotted while on a bike ride. Turned out to be located right on Lake Michigan, on a slightly chilly, muggy day. I wore my jeans (with cuffs up), and the print top layered over the sage-green tank, with flat ankle-tie sandals:

Day 2, Outfit #3: Museum

Day 2, Outfit #3: Museum trip. Although the flat sandals were the logical choice for a lot of walking around the museum, I wished I had brought my cardigan for a little extra warmth; it was chilly outside with wind coming off Lake Michigan, and inside, the AC was on full-strength.

Tip: Want to see how I changed my jeans to have the convertible cuffs? Click here for Part 1, and Part 2!

Day 2, Outfit #4: Mom’s 60th high school reunion, evening. Mom had said this was being held at a place called The Onion Pub, which on the face of it, doesn’t sound as though it has a formal dress code. So in trying to strike a balance between being simultaneously comfortable, festive, and appropriate, I wore this dress:

Day 2, Outfit #4: Reunion

Day 2, Outfit #4: Mom’s reunion. Since this dress is essentially a long tank top, I thought it would strike the right note, combining interesting fabrics with a comfortable, casual silhouette. I brought the silk scarf in case the AC was overwhelming (a tendency in the Midwest).

Day 3, Outfit #5: 4th of July parade, morning. We drove to a neighboring town for this, then had to walk a fair distance from where we parked. And of course we were on our feet continuously for a couple of hours, so even my extremely comfortable wedge shoes started feeling the strain towards the end. But thanks to an extra dose of sunblock, I managed quite well in this:

Day 3, Outfit #5: Parade

Day 3, Outfit #5: Parade. It was a hot, sunny day, so my asymmetrical bamboo top and jeans (worn with cuffs up again), plus sunglasses, kept me reasonably comfortable.

Day 3, Outfit #6: Barbecue, afternoon. After a quick lunch at aunt/uncle’s house, we drove to their friends’ home for a barbecue get-together, with about a dozen people. I kept it simple, wearing the same thing as for the parade, just changing into my flat ankle-tie sandals (as in Outfit #3).

Day 3, Outfit #7: Fireworks, evening. I was unprepared for the mosquito onslaught after sunset. All I could do was roll down the cuffs of my jeans, in the hope that at least my ankles would escape unscathed. (Sadly, no.)

Day 3, Outfit #7: Fireworks

Day 3, Outfit #7: Fireworks. It was nice to have the option of rolling down the cuffs of my jeans, but I would have been completely taken over by mosquitoes if not for my aunt offering me a fleece pullover jacket. And the fireworks were magnificent!

Day 4, Outfit #8: Drive to Champaign, early morning. This was nearly 200 miles each way, so we would be spending the night at a family friend’s house. We left early, since the plan was to arrive in time for lunch, at the home of the woman who had for years been the director of a museum founded in the late 1960s by my grandfather. She has recently retired, but lives very near the museum, and she wanted to take us on a tour to show us all the changes and improvements being made.

After lunch and seeing the museum, we would be driving to the other side of Champaign to the house where we’d spend the night.

With the drive, lunch, and museum tour in mind, not to mention that I had to pack for an overnight trip, I wore this:

Day 4, Outfit #8: Drive

Day 4, Outfit #8: Drive to Champaign. I planned my outfits for this overnight trip for maximum versatility, minimum packing: my bag had only night things, toiletries, and my print top.

Day 5, Outfit #9: Drive to Chicago, early morning. The plan was to stop to visit my godmother in Chicago on our way back to Libertyville. Since I had packed as little as possible for the Champaign overnight trip, here’s what I did to Outfit #8 to switch it up: I rolled up the jeans cuffs, put on the print top over the tank top, and packed the cardigan. Done.

Day 5, Outfit #9: Drive

Day 5, Outfit #9: Drive to Chicago. A few simple tweaks to yesterday’s outfit gave me a different look with minimal packing. Note to self: bring small overnight bag next time!

Day 6, Outfit #10: Church, early morning. Steamy day. Wanted to be comfortable yet appropriate (uncle said people would be in shorts, something I would never do in public). Result:

Day 6, Outfit #10: Church

Day 6, Outfit #10: Church. This seemed tasteful (i.e. covered), and it was reasonably comfortable considering the steamy heat.

Day 6, Outfit #11: Hike in woods, late morning. Okay, I didn’t bring anything that resembled hiking gear, but I thought I’d be okay as long as I covered up with my cardigan (having learned the mosquito lesson). The only problem was my shoes— they were comfortable until we got somewhere around the second mile, then I started developing a blister where the part goes between the toes. Not fun. But it was a beautiful walk.

Day 6, Outfit #11: Hike

Day 6, Outfit #11: Hike. The cardigan did indeed save me from the mosquitoes in the somewhat marshy woods, but nothing prevented me from getting a blister. Well, these aren’t exactly hiking sandals…

Day 6, Outfit #12: Visit another uncle, afternoon. This involved driving to a nearby town, where we joined my mom’s youngest brother and his new wife (whom I hadn’t met) at their house for a barbecue. After freshening up post-hike, I decided I had just enough energy to change shoes, take off my now-sticky cardi, and put on my turquoise necklace.

Day 6, Outfit #12: Barbecue

Day 6, Outfit #12: Barbecue at another uncle’s house involved only minimal changes from #11.

Day 7, Outfit #13: Drive/visit, morning-early afternoon. This time we were heading to another small country town to visit the widow of the former pastor of my mother’s church. I decided for the first time to wear the skirt I had brought; I make it a rule to wear everything I bring at least once on a trip, if at all possible, but this particular skirt, I realized too late, was not the perfect choice. However, it worked on this occasion— the lady we visited was living in a retirement community that was a lot more like a luxury hotel, so I, rather surprisingly, did not feel overdressed in this:

Day 7, Outfit #13: Visit

Day 7, Outfit #13: Drive and visit. Weather was progressively hotter and muggier, but this ensemble kept me cool during the 40-minute-each-way drive and various detours on the way back; we stopped at the house Mom lived in as a child, the farmhouse they moved to later, and the luxury-home development built on her family’s former property. Oh, and we also saw the one-room schoolhouse (now a residence) Mom attended!

Day 7, Outfit #14: Out to dinner, evening. Aunt and uncle took us to dinner, where we met their 2 sons (my cousins) and their wives. Skirt outfit seemed appropriate, with some tweaks:

Day 7, Outfit #14: Out to dinner

Day 7, Outfit #14: Out to dinner. I changed my top and shoes, and added the green necklace.

Day 8, Outfit #15: Leaving for home, early afternoon. After a refreshingly quiet morning,  another cousin came for a quick lunch, then Mom and I drove back to ORD, returned the rental car, and made our way to separate terminals (she was going to Seattle, I was headed back to Portland). My traveling outfit this time was actually almost the same as when I left Portland, the major change being into the jeans:

Day 8, Outfit #15: Leaving!

Day 8, Outfit #15: Leaving for home! I decided to wear the jeans this time, something I usually don’t do when flying, and it all worked out very well, including through a substantially delayed departure from ORD.

Now it’s time (finally) for the final verdict on my ORD travel wardrobe!

What worked well:

1. The variety of tops

2. The cuffs-up-or-down jeans

3. The metallic wedges and ankle-tie sandals (voted most versatile and comfortable)

4. The silk scarf (great pop of color, and sun protection for my neck)

5. The linen trousers, especially in the humid weather

6. The blue-green earrings (worn with everything— see #3, below)

What didn’t work so well:

1. The skirt. I did wear it, but I could have done without it. The linen/cotton fabric was good for hot weather, but something about the combination of the color and style of this skirt just didn’t work as well with the tops as I’d hoped. A more summery, casual skirt would have been better, I think.

What I didn’t use at all:

1. The kimono sweater

2. The cotton cowl

3. The fancy earrings (only because I discovered after arrival in ORD that one of the earring backs was missing)

The bottom line:

Overall, I’d say this wardrobe was successful. I certainly never felt that I didn’t have something appropriate to wear for any of the wide variety of occasions I had to dress for on this trip. I used nearly everything I packed, and I never even had to iron anything, so it was low-maintenance and high-versatility— isn’t that like the Holy Grail of travel wardrobing?

In case you were wondering, yes, it was a very full trip! I’m really glad I got to go, though; my mom and I got to spend a lot of time together, since I was driving her around, I got reacquainted with many relatives I hadn’t seen in years, and it was fascinating getting to see some places from her childhood, many of which I’d not seen before.

At my request, Mom has sent me a list of what she packed/wore/didn’t wear on this trip (wish I’d thought to get photos of her clothes while we were together), and this will be in my next post, along with some wonderful photos of her at various locations and events. You’ll love it!


Chicago Travel Wardrobe: Follow-up #2 (in ORDer)

In my first follow-up report on my Chicago (ORD) travel wardrobe, I told you about a last-minute fix for a minor packing-related emergency. Now I want to get on to the follow-up proper, starting with showing you exactly what I took with me; as you’ll see, I made some switches from my original plan. I’ll show my outfits, in the order (ORDer?) in which I wore them, and also with details about what I wore them to do. (Just so this post won’t swell to epic proportions, I’ll split this part of my report into 2-3 posts, each covering a few days of my 8-day trip.)

Aside: I should tell you that the reason for my trip was to accompany my mother (after meeting her at the airport in Chicago) through 8 days of driving around a fairly big area of Illinois. I did all the driving, and basically acted as a personal assistant. However, other than my mom’s 60th high school reunion, I had no idea what types of events I’d need to dress for; all I knew was that we were going to spend a lot of time driving, alternated with visiting Mom’s relatives and family friends (most of whom I hadn’t seen for literally decades). I did have some idea of what to expect weather-wise, having lived in Ohio for almost 25 years before moving back to the Pacific Northwest (in a nutshell, humidity and mosquitoes). Since I was really just guessing as to what clothes I would need, I decided the best approach was to make each piece as versatile as possible, namely, separates, coordinated through the development of my wardrobe color palette. End of aside.

Before I flew off to the Great Midwest, this was my wardrobe plan:

Wardrobe with accessories

Travel wardrobe (theoretical). Clockwise from left: knit/sequin dress, turquoise wedges, chartreuse silk scarf, print jersey top, hand-knitted cotton cowl, asymmetrical bamboo jersey top, charcoal-grey jersey top, green necklace/bracelet, green pumps, chartreuse/teal/aqua kimono sweater, turquoise necklace, fancy earrings, linen tuxedo-striped trousers, flat ankle-tie sandals, cropped jeans, multi-color flat sandals. However…

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Chicago Travel Wardrobe: A Follow-up (or 3) is in ORDer

Now that I’m back from Chicago, I’m slowly getting caught up on my e-mail, the Portland Argentine tango scene, blog reading, and laundry (not necessarily in that order). Next on my agenda: following up on my travel wardrobe with a comprehensive report (which promises to span several posts), including what I packed, what I actually wore, what I wish I hadn’t bothered taking, and what I was fervently glad to have with me.

Aside: Feeling pun-challenged today? ORD is the airport identifier code for Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and thus the rich source of my quasi-clever titles. End of aside.

First up, though, is the solution to the minor wardrobe emergency of which I wrote in my last post before heading to Chicago. Remember this printed top, a key player in my original wardrobe plan?

Asymmetrical print jersey top

Asymmetrical print jersey top. Lovely, comfortable, packable. But there was just one little problem…

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While You’re Waiting…

I’m working fast and furiously (to say nothing of alliteratively) on what threatens to be a lengthy follow-up report on my ORD (Chicago) travel wardrobe you’ve been reading about over the past few weeks; for now, suffice it to say that just sorting through all my photos amounts to a full-time job today.

Aside: I was going to refer to your excited anticipation with the phrase “bated breath”, when I suddenly realized I have no idea what that means. If any of my more erudite readers can explain exactly what it is that makes one’s breath bated, please enlighten me! End of aside.

So while you’re waiting for me to pull myself my report together, feast your eyes on this inspiring slideshow, featuring 21 uniquely stylish Frenchwomen, courtesy of WhoWhatWear:

Coco Chanel

The one and only: Coco Chanel, in her signature Little Black Dress and ropes of pearls. Click her picture (courtesy of to see the entire slideshow of French women, from actresses to bloggers, who continue to inspire us with their unique style!

P.S. I’ll have Part 1 of my ORD Travel Wardrobe report for you tomorrow!


Packing ORDer (and a minor emergency)

You’ve heard my original plan for my Chicago (ORD) wardrobe, seen the color palette I developed for it, and how that palette translates into fabrics, as well as clothes and accessories already in my closet. And now, on my last day of preparation, I can at least show you what I’ve been working on for the past 6 planning-and-sewing-filled days. (This will be in the nature of a briefing— emphasis on brief— with many more details to follow after I get home.)

After working out this color palette, my next move was to decide which garments to make with which fabrics.

My new ORDer palette

My new ORDer palette. Click on the palette to see it on my ColourLovers page.

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