Friday, October 28, 2011

I Have a Photographer (or two)!

My sons have agreed to be my blog photographers, and that will hopefully improve the quality of the photos.  I'm sure the ol' tripod will still be of use when they aren't available. I just can't seem to get a natural smile when I'm photographing myself. I have to have someone there that makes me smile, and my kids usually do.

Wide-leg Pants
I'm just not loving the wide legs which are supposed to be good for women with lower body issues, right? I'm kind of getting a large tree stump vibe from these, and my legs look way bigger than they actually are. At least they are very comfortable. Maybe it's because they don't cover my feet, but that is so not happening. It may look good in photos but isn't practical for my life.

And heels!
I'm actually wearing heels, sort of. They are low, almost made like a wedge really, and a solid and stable shoe. "Comfort" shoes often feature a flexible sole, but with rheumatoid arthritis feet, I need a solid supportive sole. Finding good shoes is a major battle for people with arthritis. I have spent a fortune trying out different things and have a pretty good idea what works now. I have done the "I don't care if it hurts, I'm wearing cute shoes" and the always in athletic shoes approach. I will not put myself through foot hell for the sake of fashion, but I refuse to just give up. Now I have reached the point where I'm determined to find attractive shoes without sacrificing the health of my feet. What's your priority in choosing shoes, comfort or appearance? Can they both be met?
 Now don't I look more relaxed with a real person behind the camera?

Down by the Riverside

 For my Alabama friends--extra points if you can name the small town and river in the photos.

 This was my first ever attempt at a public photo shoot and I'm generally a shy, self-conscious person. So what would be no big deal for most people . . . well, kind of is for me. There were a few families and couples walking around and I got a few odd looks--some woman snapping photos of herself. Mostly people politely ignored me. Of course I hadn't planned ahead to do this, so no tripod. I figured out railings on a dock, park benches and even steps make a pretty good substitute.

Like I've said, my style is a work in progress right now--lots of bugs to still work out. The boobage is an issue with t-shirts like this one. I need a professional bra fitting for one thing. Seeing photos of myself is so different than a mirror. I had no idea this outfit was so "Hey, look everybody. I have boobs!" I'm glad it was cool enough that I wore a sweater to church. After seeing the pictures, I made the mistake of asking my husband if the outfit emphasized my bust too much. He's usually helpful with fashion questions, but this just elicited a smirk.

Other new things for me that day--cowboy boots and belting. I have been afraid of belts. I love them but my attempts tended to emphasize my "mother of twins" belly. Buckles or knots tended to perch right on top and stick out rather than showing off my small waist. I'm beginning to figure it out. Usually tucking anything in doesn't work for me but I think I like it better for this outfit.

Cowboy boots. I chose these particular ones because I have major foot issues due to arthritis. They weren't the cutest, but they were comfy and still cute enough, and I wanted some I could wear all day. For some reason, they make me feel spunky and strong. Maybe I'll even ride a horse some day soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do you want attention from how you dress?

Believe it or not this is the first outfit that drew comment from a complete stranger. I didn't even think it was that great. I wanted to wear my black boots and the fuscia tee. So I grabbed the first pants with legs that would fit into my boots. Not thrilled with these pants, especially tucked into the boots. I threw on the shirt because it was cold. Not exactly inspired dressing.

So there I was at Kroger searching my coupon binder for $1.00 off Meow Mix, and it happened. An older, only slightly creepy guy struck up a conversation about his cats. Then he said, "Ma'am, don't take this the wrong way, but that outfit looks really nice on you." I said a quick "Thank you" and ran for the dairy aisle. It wasn't like someone cat-called me on the street or anything, but it still freaked me out a little. What if this is a trend and other people notice me more? Is that a good or bad thing? I mean, I decided to improve how I dress for my own enjoyment and self-confidence--not because I want people to notice my clothing. In fact, people probably noticed more when I wore wrinkled clothing and just threw something on every day.

And I still keep marveling at the fact that this was the outfit that got noticed.

So my question is do I really want to dress better if it's going to draw attention? The small town I live in is very, very casual. I mean, when I wear my office clothes to Wal-mart, I usually feel way over-dressed. It's a very blue collar, jeans and a t-shirt kind of a place.  If I wear anything more put together, I'm afraid someone will think I'm uppity or something. It's funny because if I go to a more fashion conscious place, I feel like a bumpkin. So I guess fashion is somewhat relative depending on your location. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that I don't feel pressure here to be fashionable and the relaxed standards are great especially in our hot, humid summers. But when I do want to step it up a notch and show some style, I'm afraid I'll stick out like a sore thumb. And my husband complains that I over-think things!

What about you? Do you feel comfortable getting positive attention for your appearance? Does the place you live affect your choice of clothing? 

Almost kind of sometimes semi-daily outfit

Nothing real special today. Just comfy still-working-from-home clothes. It's still hot here in Georgia and I'm feeling "campy". It sort of makes me think "old lady" clothes, so I'm not sure I'm totally happy with it, but the color makes me happy. For years I wouldn't wear pink. Part of some deep seated trouble with accepting femininity or something. I don't understand it enough to address it in any meaningful way, but I'm changing. I know that much. Another post for another day.

Little known fact: right after taking these photos, I finally took up the waist on these pants after a couple of years of sagging, constantly tugging them up and belting them. I probably have other clothes I need to have professionally altered but I'm using my minimal sewing skills to do what I can. It's hard to believe how terrible I am to leave garments missing buttons, needing hemming, etc. Turning over a new leaf.

Pink Camp Shirt--Chico's
Olive greenish faded khakis
Beaded necklace--my own creation

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I don't have a lot of experience layering, except purely functional layering in winter. Yes, I'm far enough north to require layers in winter. However, in the past I didn't give layering much thought as a way to flatter my figure or just have fun combining colors and patterns.

Layering works a little differently in warm Georgia weather. I like layering because of bra issues (more on that later), but shortly after shooting these pictures, temperatures reached the 80's even though it's October. I'm looking forward to fall and winter so I can play with layers. During summer in the South we wear as little as possible in order to survive! Really, you're lucky I put on one layer from June until September.

And the heavens seem to be blessing this outfit, judging from the sun beaming down on me. Note to self, next time think about the sun, sunshine. I was planning for morning sun but I got a late start. So it's more like harsh noonday sun. Do I regroup and wait till later? Move to a better location? Nope, I forge on ahead. That's just the way I roll!

My fashion learning curve

I'm still not sure exactly what makes me think I can do a "fashion blog". It just all the sudden was something I had to do, but as you can see, my style has not really arrived yet. Sit back folks, you get to watch me make mistakes and learn. Starting out I have been scared to post outfits. What if I make a mistake and pair a hideous combination that I love and everyone else hates? What my outfit is so clearly stupid that everyone in the world knows it but me? What if I do it wrong?

Unlike some of the people who have been at this for years, my outfits still sometimes look all wrong to me or like they are missing something. For whatever reason, maybe so you can benefit from my mistakes, I decided to go ahead with the blog before I have it all figured out. Watch me mess up and figure things out. It has been keeping my kids entertained for years. Why shouldn't everybody benefit?

Our pets enjoy blocking the view of my shoes as I learn how to photograph myself. When I'm behind the camera, I notice things like squinting and sunlight. Give me a tripod and it's like I forget everything I know about photography.  I've offered my teens the job of being my blog photographers and they are considering my offer. Negotiations are under way.

Fall and North Georgia Mountain Apples

After spending the first 35 years of my life in Alabama, North Georgia is still pretty new to me. I was totally surprised to know the area is known for "Mountain Apples" or "Ellijay Apples" with an annual Apple Festival and everything! Last year my parents and I went and bought a ton of apples to share--some of the best I've ever had. I have to admit I'm in love with Mutsu apples, a type I had never heard of till last year. My plan was to do a little early Christmas shopping with the arts and crafts vendors and of course I had big plans to eat some fried pies and buy apple fritters for Dad. Hey, it's once a year, people.

I got up Saturday morning with high hopes to drive to the Apple Festival. So inspired and sure I'd make it, I took the above photo. Since I'm recovering from surgery, my energy level is just not there yet, but I did make it to a nearby town's produce stand with Georgia Mountain Apples. Just didn't think I'd make it another hour to Ellijay and the and an  hour and a half home. So I will have to wait for next year's festival.

Kind of a silly little outfit. I just bought my 1st pair of cowboy boots last week and I want to wear them with everything. I thought it would be fun to see if I could pull off walking shorts with them. The jury is still out. Not sure if I'd wear them in public, but for a silly photo shoot in the woods behind my house, they are awesome! Since temperatures are still reaching the 80's this week, the boots and were exchanged for sandals. On the upside, I got my new neighbor to do a double take as he was cutting his grass. What's so odd about someone toting a tripod and apples into the woods? Isn't that done all the time in rural North Georgia?
Jacket--Old Navy
Shirt--I don't know--I cut the tags out of everything!
Boots--Laredo Boots
Necklace--my design

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Man Style

I want to take a moment on Monday to salute stylish men like my hubby--a man who really appreciates a nice suit. He's the only guy I know who doesn't immediately shed his tie upon reaching home. We're opposites, he and I. I'm the one taking my tights or pantyhose off in the car after an event while he's claims to be absolutely just as comfortable in a suit as in sweats. Note that I say "claims to be" because I just can't believe him. 

Somehow he has taken this really, really low-maintenance tomboy and made me want to look my best without having certain expectations for me to do it for him. I can't explain it, but he's encouraged me to blossom and play with clothes and makeup. After all, it's not as much fun without someone to appreciate it. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surgery Recovery Saturday

Husbands should not have cameras on their phones!

It has been nearly 2 weeks since my surgery and I'm doing much better. Thanks for all the folks who prayed for me . . . and especially thanks to my parents who have been doing our laundry! In the space of just a few days I went from being convinced my body was trying to kill me to being amazed at our bodies' amazing ability to heal. We truly are "fearfully and wonderfully made".

Now if it weren't for sick leave, I wouldn't have had time and energy to sit on my sofa beginning this blog. The down side is that I don't have my usual energy level to put together outfits and photograph myself. So I will do the blogger's version of cheating. I'll link you to some of my favorite women who inspire me.

My Inspiration
First I have to list Sal at Already Pretty. She is the most inspiring to me because her blog includes insights into how our clothing, body image and self confidence are tied together. Plus she rocks some cowboy boots and I want to do that! Next of course comes Kashmira with her blog pattern combos and unusual pairings. Usually I think there's no way I could wear that, but I have played with some pattern combos in my closet that actually work. Last but not least, I have to point you to Fashion for Nerds because I am a nerd and because she works surrounded by scientists. And we all know how famous scientists are for their sense of style! Hi John! (my brother, the chemist).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love the Scarf Tying Video!

Where are the fashion photos???

What drew me to fashion blogs in the first place was the real women who showed pictures of outfits they put together. Suddenly fashion was not some distant thing a mere mortal like me could never achieve. A coworker led me to Cashmira's inspiring blog and from there I was hooked. I have started going through my closet and re-thinking how I put outfits together. After watching What Not To Wear for several years, I had already begun to think fit and shopping carefully. However, there was still something missing. These fashion blogs have encouraged me to experiment and be creative.

So why no photos of me in great outfits to inspire you? Well, first of all, no camera. I managed to break 2 cameras in about 3 months time--both my cheap knockabout camera and my nice one. Maybe I can enlist my hubby or kids to take pics with my cell phone, but I'm expecting a camera for my birthday at the end of this month. Hint hint. The second reason is that I'm new at all this. I'm talking brand, newborn baby spanking new. I have gone through my closet and started playing with combinations. I've started experimenting with belts for more than holding up my pants. There are a few outfits that I would feel good about posting soon, but bear with me, I'm by no means ready to be your inspiration yet. That's O.K. though. While I'm learning, please take a look at some of the more experienced bloggers on my blog roll. I will post some beginner pictures soon.

Friday Flashback

Me circa 1987-ish
Note the giant glasses that my kids tease me about. Also, please note that these were quite stylish at the time and smaller than my "big 80's glasses". Hopefully all photographic evidence of them is destroyed. Now, the elastic waste mustard plaid pants . . . I really doubt they were in style. More than likely they were comfortable and I did a Garanimal-esk quick match with this shirt. Also note that I had a nearly perfect body by most standards of the time. I was not model stick-thin but slim and athletic but with feminine curves. Why oh why did I not appreciate this at the time? I do have to say I had never jumped on the diet yo-yo roller coaster at this point because I was active enough to stay slim.  What doesn't show on the outside is that I considered my hips and thighs huge, my skin pimply, nose too big, etc., etc. In short, an insecure mess waiting to happen. I didn't think I was fat but I didn't appreciate what I had either. I feel better about my body now that I am overweight. What sense does that make?
And a little further back. Here I am in high school. Skinny ballet dancer who has no idea she is skinny . . . and absolutely no idea how to dress myself. Note the cool fashionable scrub top I'm wearing. Ah well, youth is wasted on the young! I'm much happier with myself in my 40's than I was then. The exact opposite of what our youth worshipping culture would have you believe. What about you? Are you more confident and happy with yourself now?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Body Image

When I'm kayaking I feel strong and confident. I'm not thinking about cellulite and flabby arms (at least not till we come off the river). My confidence was shaken somewhat by my recent shoulder injury; the Hiawassee won that day as I was flipped upside down and dragged over rocks. But I'll be back.

Lately I've been reading and thinking a lot about body image. It began with clicking on Sal's wonderful blog at Already Pretty. She has much helpful information and interesting links on the subject. Ironically, I believe I have better body image now that I'm slightly overweight than when I had the perfect thin teen body. However, I still have my share of struggles. This is such a common problem that I believe those of us who are "mature" women need to help our younger sisters. We do that by first getting ourselves healthy, sending healthy messages to our kids and spreading the word. More on this later. I'll leave you with this helpful post at Sal's blog.

No Way! I'm doing a fashion blog???

Anybody who has known me long-term knows I have a history of being fashioned-challenged or maybe apathetic. In my college days I viewed fashion as selfish and maybe kinda sinful. There was also some  holdover from middle school of clothing used to pigeon-hole people into a certain clique. Add to all that some unrecognized body image and self-confidence issues and what do you get? Me, at best, concentrating on less "shallow" things. At worst, you get me hiding myself in plain, "blah" clothes and having no idea how to dress myself in an attractive way.

I'll go into more of my fashion evolution over the years later, but I would say in the last 5 years or so, I suddenly developed an interest in looking my best. It started with beginning to watch What Not To Wear. I loved the show. Unfortunately my husband swore that I could easily qualify to be on the show! I'll try to post some "old Catherine" photos from time-to-time just so you can see how much I've progressed. Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the show!