It's been well documented over here that I love American Apparel (1, 2, 3). I know, I know... I've heard it all in your comments before: the CEO has a spotty reputation, their models sometimes look scary, their ads often objectify young women and men... sigh, but I can't help it! It's my go-to place for new, American made basics. Their cardigans are always a perfect fit, I'm crazy for their chiffon stuff, and their t-shirts last and last.
When I tell people that I'm kind of an American Apparel fan girl, I often get the side-eye. "American Apparel? Really? You? You usually seem so sensible." Yes! Me! And don't call me sensible again!
I have a theory that I get the side-eye over my America Apparel love because of the reputation the brand may have incurred due to the model styling on their website. Case in point: For two more days, American Apparel is on GILT. Instead of using the typical American Apparel models styled starkly with "I just walked through the wind" hair and no makeup, GILT styled up American Apparel in a way that made me ooh and ahh over American Apparel like I never have before. Let's compare, shall we?
[unisex thin striped sweater]Switch out those summer camp counselor shorts for some leggings, untuck the shirt, and -whoa!- how did this end up in my online shopping cart that fast?
[cotton spandex double-u long sleeved mini dress]They both do the "nonchalant/bored model" thing well, but adding those black tights makes this go from sleazy to "Yes, please! Me!"
[cotton spandex jersey turtleneck dress]A little pose adjustment (and perhaps some shapewear and a cup of coffee?) made this turtleneck dress seem almost office appropriate.
[cotton spandex jersey turtleneck dress]I prefer the dress without the cutout for my super long armpit hair. Oh? That's her hair hair? My bad.
[baby rib cap sleeve t]Cap sleeves are not a good look on anyone over the age of two (except for GILT models, apparently). Mom jeans with a tucked in cap sleeved t-shirt that's so tight I can see your triangle bra underneath is also not a good look on anyone over the age of two. Or even those under the age of two. Eep.
[cotton jersey spandex leggings]No shirt, no shoes? Then no red leggings. Yes, I do prefer my red leggings with shirts and shoes, instead of invisible shirts and invisible high heels.
[sheer jersey chemise]
Your next assignment is inspired by my life. I’m actually a very busy person. My life is a constant juggling act and I’m just hoping I don’t blow it. Sometimes I don’t even have time to change my clothes, so I have to figure out how to change my look in a flash. If you want to work at Donovan Decker, you’ll need this skill in order to survive. Let’s see if you can do it!
Take the white shirt out of your trunk and put it on your dress form. Using accessories from your own collection (or anything else you can think of), show how you would style the shirt for a day at the office. Then, change the look entirely and show me how you would style the same shirt for a dressy cocktail party. Post photos of both styles to your blog, and write an entry explaining what you did to create each look. Ask your readers to share their day-to-night styling tips here and mention the name of your blog. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!
Watch this video for additional inspiration into this phase of the interview process, and make sure your readers get a chance to watch as well.
Happy New Year!
dress: work in progress/ DIY via A Pair and A Spare | necklace: Buffalo Exchange (new merch) | bag: prize from Grace's Birdcage | shoes: DSW
I hope you were able to get at least a little time off from Gray during the holidays. I've created two fun looks for you. The day look is a take on the classic skirt/ blazer combo, but I've switched the expected pencil skirt out for a soft tulle skirt. The gold chain necklace tucked under the collar and chunky navy and gold belt add visual interest and keeps the vintage blazer current. As for the night look, since it's for a "dressy cocktail party", I had to choose something with lots and lots of shine. I'm in the middle of making Geneva's wrap mini dress in this crazy gold jersey knit that I have, but I thought that the white shirt underneath was the perfect way to winterize it. Who says a white button down has to be boring?
Excited to still be in the running,
Again, I really appreciate everyone's patience and support with these Jane By Design blog posts. Only two more to go! If I win, they'll mention my blog on the show (and also, I got a dress form! Woot!) but better than that is the fact that I get to choose an Adored Austin reader to be featured on ABCFamily.com as the "trendsetter of the week".
The holidays are upon us. Your gift? You’ve made it to the next phase of the interview process. And while you may be in the mood to take some time off, there’s one thing you need to remember—fashion never takes a vacation.
Fashion happens when reinvention is combined with exceptional vision. Look inside your trunk and take out the holiday sweater. You must use every ounce of creativity you have to turn the holiday sweater into something special. Turn that sweater into something fresh & exciting that could be the next big trend for Holiday 2012.
When you think you’ve created something innovative and amazing, whether it’s a bracelet or a mini skirt, post before and after photos to your blog. Ask your readers to share their own inspired creations here and mention the name of your blog.
If you truly want to have a happy holiday season, you must hope against hope that you have the vision it takes to impress me. Otherwise, it’s quite possible that this will be our last correspondence.
This is the sweater Gray was referring to. Behold my canvas:
The Christmas vest would now be serving as the foundation of the fur vest. I snipped off all the beads to make sure the fur would lay flat against the knit vest:
Then using my sewing machine, I sewed up the shoulders and the sides to make a shapeless fur tank:
I then layered the Christmas vest (right side out) inside the fur tank (also right side out) and sewed along the shoulder seams and armpit holes, turning the extra fabric to the inside of the seams. Next I followed the lines of the original vest and made a cut up the front of the fur tank to mimic the front of the original vest. Then I flipped the extra fabric (remember that extra 1/4''?) and sewed all around the hem, front flap openings, and neck. That sounds complicated, but these next two photos explain it a little better:
I started to put buttons up the front of the sweater but after I tacked on the first one, I immediately regretted it.
I snipped it off and opted for (what else?) a simple grosgrain ribbon belt, instead. This will be held in place with simple belt loops fashioned from brown embroidery thread:
And those beads that I removed? I strung 'em together to make a simple, understated necklace:
There it is! A pretty fur vest in under an hour. Because the original vest is now acting as the liner, it's quite a bit sturdier and much warmer than it would be had I made it without the Christmas canvas. Best of all? I can check the brown fur vest off my winter wants list now.
Happy holidays, Gray. That was the tackiest Christmas sweater vest I have ever seen, and there was no way I could have worn that without a heavy dose of hipster irony and perhaps even a shot of tequila and a dare from a friend. Because fur vests are a much better cool weather alternative to hunter green sweater vests bedazzled and bedecked with embroidered presents, rather than toss this gem of yours into my Goodwill bin, I transformed it into a darling fur vest that would work with classics like jeans and ankle boots just as well as with this season's military inspired button down dresses. What's your size? Extra small? I'll whip one up for you tomorrow if you'd like. If I can do this to a vest in an hour, imagine what I could do for Donovan Decker for the duration of my career.-Indiana
I've decided (for the first time in three years) to leave my laptop at home during my Christmas break. No guests posts, no content queued up, no posting from Atlanta. I plan to spend this break on a true break, ready to be refreshed for the new year. I have some big plans to change things up around here in 2012. I'll see you when I get back. Merry Christmas!
I've made it to the next round in the Jane By Design Style Challenge. Holla! The new emails come in on Tuesdays and Fridays, and this little gem from (the Miranda Priestly-like) Gray Chandler Murray was in my inbox yesterday:
You are moving on to round three of the interview process. You haven’t quit yet, nor have you embarrassed yourself beyond repair, so that says something. What exactly does it say? It says you still have a lot to prove before I’m ready to make a decision.
I often say you can judge a person based on the purse they carry. A sloppy bag shows the world that you are a disheveled mess, very likely in need of group therapy. A matronly purse says you are uptight, humorless and quite possibly spending your nights alone, with only your cat for company. But the right bag represents you better than any other accessory can. The right bag reveals the best aspects of your personality, winning you affection and admiration wherever you go.
Post a photo on your blog of the bag that best represents you and tell your readers why this purse conveys the very essence of who you are. Then ask your readers to share the bags that best represent them here and mention the name of your blog.
And remember—choose carefully. An expensive purse might reveal that you are really just a shallow tart. A cheap purse might reveal that you are a miserly malcontent. To make it to the next phase of the interview process, you will need to convince me that you are an interesting person with a unique point of view. If you’re just another sheep following the masses, you’ll stay in the barnyard where you belong.
Watch this video for additional inspiration into this phase of the interview process, and make sure your readers get a chance to watch as well.
It may sound easy to simply choose a bag and photograph it and post it on the blog, but I hemmed and hawed over this for quite some time. My mom's Gucci bag has a lot of sentimental value to me, but it is falling apart and I only use it when I need a large bag and I don't care if it gets scuffed up. My little Louis Vuitton pouchette means a lot to me, too. It was a graduation gift from my mom and her best friend and was my first (and only) new-to-me, "grown up" bag. Also, I recently bought a rubber chicken purse on South Congress that I think is hilarious, and I have a great collection of tiny, vintage clutches that I've scoured from estate sales and resale shops, and I really like those, too.
Although some of these bags are nice and some are funny and some were excellent thrifting finds, none of these bags "convey the essence of who I am". So after really, really thinking about it, I came to realize that the bag that best conveys who I am (especially my shopping philosophies) right now is the Purse and Clutch charming chevron clutch.
Chervon is so on-trend right now. Don't believe me? Just ask Pinterest. I wear a fair amount of chevron prints,
and even did Jude's room in yellow chevron a while back. That's why I was so excited to see that Purse and Clutch added a chevron line to their offerings yesterday. I emailed Jen, the owner of Purse and Clutch, invited myself over to her house (meeting her for the first time!) and promptly bought myself one of these beauties:
I got the chocolate brown one today but only because the gray was all sold out (the one I photographed had just been ordered).
I chose this bag for this Jane By Design Style Challenge because 1) I am still digging chevrons, 2) I appreciate the tiny, handmade imperfections of the print, and 3) I couldn't think of a better product that falls perfectly into my "I Shop With Heart" guidelines. Purse and Clutch offers bags exclusively made by the Joyn India project. From the JOYN website:
In June of 2010 Mel Murray and her family packed up and moved to a little town in the mountains of northern India to assess business needs and opportunities in the community. It was there that JOYN was born, a company with a vision to connect the poor with Western markets. You get beautiful handmade home furnishings and accessories, and the people of northern India have the joy of working in a great environment and providing for their families. It’s a relationship where the joy flows both ways.
Our passion is for people. One of our favorite things to do is to spend time daily with the artisans who make our products. In the summer of 2010, Mel began working with local cooperatives, training them in developing products for Western Markets. [The JOYN teams builds] relationships with local entrepreneurs and artisans. An amazing local woman has started a vocational training center for battered and abused women – these women stitch all of our bags and make our jewelry. A local cooperative was formed for those affected by leprosy, they hand weave all of our incredible cotton fabric. A beautiful 70 year old artisan who has a passion for helping people and keeping traditional Indian art alive, has allowed us to build up her block print shop and create more jobs. Each day we get to give a hug, a smile, a word, a job. That’s why we do what we do.
While it's no orange ostrich Birkin (like the one Gray Chandler Murray gives Jane) Mel Murray at JOYN and Jen Ardill at Purse and Clutch have introduced me to a bag that packs a whole lotta heart and one that I'm proud to carry daily.
If you have a favorite bag and you want to share that with Jane By Design, please go to their Facebook page and tell 'em all about it and mention that Adored Austin sent you. One reader from the winning blog will be featured on the ABC Family page, so if you want in on that action, FB away.
I am so excited to still be in the running for a blogger position at Donovan Decker. I agree that a person's bag says a lot about them. I hope that by choosing a Purse and Clutch charming chevron bag to represent me, you'll see that I'm a blogger who isn't (in your words) "just another sheep following the masses". Since you travel a lot, I'm sure you've witnessed, first-hand, the impoverished conditions of northern India. By purchasing a Purse and Clutch bag, I'm helping to lessen the hold that poverty has on a group of local artisans and women there. Plus, isn't it the cutest thing, ever? If I get the job, you can borrow it whenever you'd like.
My second task for the Jane By Design Style Challenge arrived in my inbox last Friday:
My name is Jane Quimby and I’m Gray’s assistant. Nice to meet you by e-mail! Gray is out of the office and asked me to tell you that you’ve made it to the next phase of the interview process. Barely. Umm, that was her word, not mine. I think you’re doing great so far!
Gray asked me to brief you on your next challenge. Style icons can be an important source of inspiration. Who is your style icon? Is it your mother or a favorite aunt? A celebrity or an athlete? A world leader or rock star?
Find the plain white t-shirt in your trunk. Using items around your house or your office, create a design on the t-shirt inspired by your fashion icon. Then, put the shirt on your dress form and post a photo of it to your blog, along with an entry that talks about how your design was inspired by your fashion icon. Ask your readers to tell you about their style icons here and mention the name of your blog.
If Gray can tolerate your writing style & appreciates your ingenuity, you will proceed to the next phase of the interview process.
Good luck with the assignment!
Since the shirt came with a pack of fabric markers, I thought for sure I'd be forced to draw. Thank goodness that wasn't the case. I am the worst at drawing! I used my fabric markers to make templates for this project, instead.
Initially, I planned to turn my t-shirt into a lacy, feathery bohemian dream inspired by Nicole Richie and Grechen Jones but when I really stopped to think about it, the person who has had the most influence on my style is my grandmother.
After my dad died when I was three, his parents raised me. My grandmother is full-blooded Native American and is the one I credit for my thrift store love and my desire to do DIY's. She used to own a resale shop in our small town and was a maven at amping up boring clothing. When I begged and pleaded to do my first pageant (it was in a mall, okay?), she took me to Goodwill and had me pick out any dress I wanted. She then took it home and embellished it by tacking on strands of beads to the skirt and making matching hair bows and jewelry for me. She wasn't the best seamstress (I can't recall her ever using a sewing machine) but she did have a talent for taking something plain, adding a little bit to it, and making it into something fresh. She still does this! The next time I see her, I'll have to snap some photos of her creations for you guys.
This task was precisely that: take something plain and turn it into a fresh creation. Since I had been meaning to try Geneva's leather collar tutorial, right off the bat I knew that I wanted to dye the t-shirt and add a collar.
Needs: 15- 18 inches of faux leather, scissors, a pack of gunmetal gray iDye, and some hook and eye closures or long ribbon.
I got the water and salt going for the dye, traced a collar and a pocket onto some heavy duty felt (for templates), put the shirt in the water, and cut out the collar and the pocket from the faux leather.
Dying cotton only takes about 30 minutes. Then you have to wash and dry it which takes around an hour.
After my shirt was dry, I used my sewing machine and sewed on the pocket and fashioned a collar. I ended up disregarding the hook and eye closures and opted to do a thick ribbon tie closure, instead. I added the same ribbon to the top of the pocket to cover up a seaming mistake I had made:
It's super cute with a skirt, but I would totally wear this with boyfriend jeans and oxfords, too. I don't think my Grandma would ever wear anything like this, but I think she'd approve of my DIY'ing.
Now I'd like to know: who is your style icon? Jaunt on over to the Jane By Design Facebook page and declare your love for someone who has influenced your style and tell them that Adored Austin sent you. If I happen to win this thing, they're going to mention Adored Austin on the show and I get to choose one Adored Austin reader to be the "Trend Setter of the Week" on ABCFamily.com. Pretty cool, huh?
Whew! So glad Gray is still considering me for the blogger position at Donovan Decker. I hope she digs this DIY. I love what you did with your prom dress, and I hope we'll be able to work together one day. In the meantime, keep me posted about the next round of interviews. I'm ready to be sent through the ringer! -Indiana
Free People: We'd love for you to come in and style people during our holiday party, Indiana.
True story: When I started Adored Austin two and a half years ago, I never intended to make outfit posts the main focus. I originally planned to write about fashion news and fashion related events in Austin and to do product reviews. I posted some outfit photos as filler and joined some outfit of the day communities for fun. Honestly, I usually don't think that my style is particularly special, but I do like shopping and writing and the personal style of others, so at the time, starting a style blog made sense to me. People never commented on my event posts (yawn!), but they did comment on my outfits, so now it's kind of become a thing I feel I'm supposed to do.
So because I post what I'm wearing from time to time, over the course of the last two years, I've been asked to style people at stores. I have turned every single one of these opportunities down because there are some days that I can barely dress myself (examples: 2009, 2010, 2011), but when Free People asked me to do this, I reconsidered because their line is so great-- almost everything works together and you can go as little bohemian or as much bohemian as you'd like.
For my styling session today, I went full-on bohemian. Nothing matched: lace, leopard, denim, black, gray, a colorful kimono, tons of jewelry... but that's the thing. I don't think there are any hard and fast "rules" to personal style, and I think that's how my style has evolved since 2009. I think two and a half years ago, I would have loved all of these pieces individually but I never would have paired them up together.
date: 17 Dec 2011 | occasion: Free People holiday party
vintage dress: Thrift Town | kimono jacket: Thrift Town | shoes: ShoeMint | wool hat: c/o American Apparel | bangles: Ten Thousand Villages & c/o In Pink | watch: Michael Kors via Goodwill | necklaces: c/o JewelMint | bag: Map Tote | tights: Target
What about you? Have you felt your style evolving in the last couple of years? I'm curious if you're breaking traditional fashion rules or if your style is becoming a little more refined.
By the way, if you dig my necklaces and if you're a first time JewelMint customer, you can enjoy 50% off your first order with code "austin886" courtesy of the Austin MBA team. Get it!