A Very Autumn Outfit, and A PieCake

Today’s the day of my bridal shower. So many of the things that happen for weddings in the States are not a part of it in England, but we are taking the traditions we like and ditching the others. I’m so excited to spend time in Central London, and we’ve incorporated English tradition in having afternoon tea.

I wanted to dress up. The weather is complete crap outside, but my outfit is warm and autumn-ready.

Consignment, E-Mart, Spitalfields Market, and Nordstrom Rack

Consignment, E-Mart, Spitalfields Market, and Nordstrom Rack

I haven’t made a post about clothes in a very long time. This was the last one, I believe. In May. A lot has happened since then. I will marry my sweetheart in 18 days time. I’m a fiancée now. I gained and lost and redistributed my weight. I sleep a lot less these days. Oh yeah, and I’m a Master of Arts.

My job at the bar doesn’t lend itself kindly to being fashionable. I live in my work shirts, cotton tees, and skirts that I don’t care about getting cellar gunk or used ketchup on. I wear the same shoes almost every day, and I’m working on growing my hair out.

A nice silhouette, really

A nice silhouette, really

This is how I wear my hair every single day now. Especially when It’s raining, it’s just the best thing. I can keep it up and let it dry without heat, and once it finally dries ten days later (humidity? what’s that?) I have pretty natural curls. If I ever get to let it down.

I recently (as in about two months ago) got some new cartilage piercings on my left ear. I got them the day after I took the Cicerone’s first level exam, and a week after my MA dissertation was due. They are right near each other, just like those two events. And no, I’m not removing my piercings for my wedding.

I like my outfit a little bit too much.

I like my outfit a little bit too much.

I want to get back into posting daily, about clothes and consignment and travel. There may be a new adventure on the horizon, even beyond the adventure that will be starting a marriage. I’m excited to find new places and my list will just keep growing.

Outfit

  • Turtleneck: Nordstrom Rack, Broomfield, Colorado (2008) 
  • Tights: Nordstrom Rack, Boulder, Colorado (2013) 
  • Skirt: Consignment at Traid in London (2014) 
  • Necklace: Spitalfields Market, London (2013) 
  • Earrings: This Etsy Shop (2012) and various piercings shops around the world including Cold Steel in London 
  • Boots: Consignment at Common Threads, Boulder, Colorado (2011) 

I also made a Pumpkin PieCake today! It’s not a pie, and it’s not a cake. It’s delicious. And it’s pumpkin. Finally. The outside crust is more like a cake, but the inner texture is much more like a pie. I’m thinking of making this again for Thanksgiving.

Recipe at the bottom of the post.

PieCake!

PieCake!

Perfect Slice.

Perfect Slice.

Dat texture

Dat texture

Recipe for Pumpkin PieCake

Ingredients 

  • 1 half a smallish roasted pumpkin (roast on VERY low temperature for about four-five hours) 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or flour + baking soda) 
  • 2 eggs
  • Pumpkin pie spice, or at the very least nutmeg 
  • 3 Tablespoons of whole milk 
  • A dash of water (if needed) 
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil 
  1. Preheat the oven to around 200C (~400F). Scoop the pumpkin out of the skin and mash it well with a fork. You want a near-puree texture. Add the milk and continue stirring until the mixture is mostly smooth. 
  2. Add the sugar and spices. Continue stirring. 
  3. Add the eggs and stir in. Add the oil at this time, too (I forgot and it didn’t really matter, but it’s probably better done here).
  4. Add the flour, making sure that the dough does not become bally or chunky. A smooth batter is what you’re going for. 
  5. Grease a circular sandwich tin or baking pan with olive oil. Pour the batter into the pan and distribute it evenly. 
  6. Make certain you have a ‘catch tray’ in the oven below the cake pan, in case my imprecise recipe causes boil-over. Put the PieCake into the oven and bake for around 40 minutes, or until it is fragrant and toasted on top. 

The Last of My Naked Left Hand

The last...

The last…

My left hand is my buddy. I may not write with it, but it’s always been the stronger one. The brute that forces stuck taps off the lines at work. It’s marked with angel’s kisses, the roadmap to left and right I used as a child in my ballet classes. It wears the bracelets that mark me as a traveller.

It has two giant, aching flaps of skin on the tip of the thumb, a casualty of food and cocktails.

And today, it’s not naked anymore.

1920s antique ring, with old mine cut diamonds.

1920s antique ring, with old mine cut diamonds.

I’m engaged. For real and for true. With a ring and all. On last Saturday we walked along the glittering streets of Hatton Garden, the jewellery district of London.

The stores were all too big, too shiny, with too big of a price tag on their rings. I never wanted a brand-new engagement ring. Antiques suit me more. They’re more frugal (usually). They are high quality. They’re more likely to be ethical, and if not, then the reuse of the jewellery passes the buck to someone further up the line.

My ring is Art Deco, with older cuts on the seven small diamonds. It was made in the 1920s or 1930s, which is a time period with which I connect greatly. It’s unique, and it reflects the fact that my fiance made me a ring from a flower for his proposal (which he eventually scrapped, and went for a single aspen leaf instead). We chose the ring together in a family-owned and operated antique shop, and paid less than our individual monthly rent. It’s a symbol of our commitment, but also of the pragmatism that characterises our relationship.

Such a glamorous lady, just before the proposal.

Such a glamorous lady, just before the proposal.

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Silhouettes

Immediately after, with my leaf!

Immediately after, with my leaf!

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It’s on!

engagement 115

With the light.

Now, my left hand will never be naked again. I’ve been wearing the ring since yesterday at sunset, when Russ got home. I can’t stop looking at it, twirling it in the sunlight to watch is shine. I love the design even more now. It feels just right on my hand. So happy for this new, if short, period of our lives together. So happy to be a fiancee.

Thirty Pretty Projects: Week Two

Jewelry in Chinatown!

Jewelry in Chinatown!

Yes, I realise it’s been longer than two weeks since I began the Thirty Pretty Projects! It’s been far too busy and crazy to write. I’m in the process of moving abroad for the fourth time. I’m applying for a UK Student Visa. I’m working full-time. I’m trying to cram things in before my boyfriend has to leave in August. I’m travelling several weekends this month and next. I can barely get more than six hours of sleep in a night, much less work on writing about my fashion!
Yet the projects are going well! I am feeling more confident in my fashion choices after a couple of successful choices (see awesome outfit #1 here and #2 here). The second week of the projects is all about observing style and analysing my own style evolution. I was lucky enough that I travelled to San Francisco during that week, a fantastically fashionable city! So much opportunity to observe fashionable folk.

I spent some time considering the people who inspire me stylistically, and found that I have few role models for my particular brand of style. My favourite people to watch in fashion tend to have a French aesthetic to their dressing, à la Marion Cotillard. Sometimes I feel that inside, I am a petite and dark-haired Frenchwoman who dresses in neutrals and like to wear Chanel No. 5 perfume every day. This is obviously at odds with my plus-sized, six foot tall reality.

I’m much more suited in body type to Christina Hendrick‘s style of voluptuous and unapologetically feminine style. But then again, she is the same height as Cotillard at 5’7″ and my legs are all different proportionally.

It’s hard to find fashion-forward celebrities who are anywhere near my height and weight, but it feels even harder to find real life role models for women my size. I have always been the 99th percentile for height in my age group. In fact, I scoff at the CDC’s paltry 178 cm cut off for that distinction.

CDC chart

From the CDC’s report for 2000.

I appreciate and follow Fashion for Giants, a great blog for tall curvy women. But even though we both shop thrift stores and have similar measurements, Gracey’s style is very different from my own. I really like that she wears heels all the time though. That is bordering on social disobedience for a tall woman. I’ve only just started to wear heels regularly since graduating from university, because of how much crap I catch, unsolicited, from friends and strangers alike over the act of putting on additional height. How dare I? Don’t I know that women are supposed to be petite and still only come up to men’s shoulders even in heels?

Makeup is very important to my style. I generally wear liquid eyeliner, blush, and mascara.

Makeup is very important to my style. I generally wear liquid eyeliner, blush, and mascara.

Greaser-style hair.

Greaser-style hair.

This is one of the great body acceptance challenges I’ve faced in my 25 years on the planet. I was this tall early. My estimate is that I reached 6 feet at 12 years old, and in middle school towered over even my teachers. One bonus: I could always see to both ends of the hallway to the cafeteria in the lunchtime rush. Bad news? Nothing fit, even more than in the usual post-puberty adjustments. Stores in the early 2000s didn’t carry the various lengths of pants that they do now. High-water bell bottoms were my mainstay. Midriff tops were in, which turned every shirt I owned into a belly-barer. I had boobs and a butt and I hated them. Hated them! Why couldn’t I just be small and flat-chested like the other girls my age? I remember my ballet classes going from fun to exclusionary overnight as I filled out and grew so much my aching legs kept me up at night. Even the moms said that the other girls were excluding me because I looked “adult.” At my 8th grade graduation, my vice principal said that I looked like I should be graduating high school. I was mortified.

Amongst my own kind in Chinatown.

Amongst my own kind in Chinatown.

Despite being very tall, my height actually made me somewhat less visible to those around me. I wanted to be invisible, and my style reflected this for years. I slouched. I desperately tried to avoid colour. I refused to even try on heels. But when I went to university, I decided to move toward dressing more femininely and having more style. I moved to Italy for a semester and was pushed into dressing more fashionably by my surroundings. I began to come up with my “cheats” for dressing a super-tall body.I tuck my too-short pants into tall boots. I let down the hems of some pants and skirts. I wear mini-dresses as tunics over pants.

This is the most developed part of my style to this day. Especially after a year and a half buying consignment as much as possible and then abstaining from shopping at all for six months, I am much more in touch with what sizes actually mean (little) and how garments fit my body. But imagine my surprise when over the weekend in San Francisco I found that everyone was wearing high water pants. Everyone. Sometimes even rolled up to make them even shorter. Also blazers with the sleeves rolled up to make them purposefully too short (a tall person’s trick with pesky sleeve lengths). Why wasn’t this style around when I was a struggling teenager, slamming my jeans in the door and then yanking on them to try to get even a half-inch more? I had several pairs of jeans that were “too short,” and sold them. Suddenly I could wear them without shame? What the hell, fashion!

Note the pants tucked into boots to disguise the four inches of ankle.

Note the pants tucked into boots to disguise the four inches of ankle.

I struggle to incorporate colour and prints into my wardrobe these days, in part because my closet has to be mobile and has followed me from Patagonia to Korea to Colorado. Travel clothing is for observing, not being observed. I have many colourful pieces from India, but they look ridiculous and vaguely culturally patronising when I wear them in the US or UK. I once looked down at my outfit on the bus in Korea and noticed that all I was wearing were brown, black, or gray turtlenecks with tiny holes from wear in them. Solid, neutral colours are my MO, possibly a leftover of all those years spent trying to vanish.

Prints also pose a problem for me. I don’t like them. I just don’t. They look old-ladyish and I associate them with couches in therapist’s offices from the 1980s. They make my curvy body look even curvier. Or so I thought. This week I made my first shopping trip in a long while to one of my favourite consignment stores and made a conscious effort to buy printed items. These are the results.

DSCN3912

Printed top is thrifted from Found Underground in Louisville, CO.

DSCN3922

This whole outfit is thrifted! The skirt cost me $5.

They look pretty damn good, if I do say so myself!

As I work through the Projects, my pile of To-Sell clothing and shoes grows ever-larger. I won’t be making the rounds at the local consignment stores until August, when my boyfriend leaves town and I will need things to keep me occupied. It’s very helpful to focus on dressing my body, as it is right this second. I can always get new clothing next year in London! Might as well get rid of nearly all of it this summer and make some money in the deal.

I will be writing about the third week of the projects this week. I promise.

Thirty Pretty Projects Week One – Triumphs, Tears, and Adjustments

My less-successful outfit for the Fourth of July. No photos of the other one!

My less-successful outfit for the Fourth of July. No photos of the other one!

It is 2008. I am 20. I am in a dance class at my university.

For the class, we had to buy a large piece of traditional fabric and wrap it around ourselves in order to produce a semblance of a traditional garment. They only had one size. It cost $30 (in addition to the fees for the class). Mine is too small. Too small! After only one class wearing the sarong-like thing, I have big red marks all over my hips and waist from the fabric digging into my skin. It was barely staying on anyway, because I almost couldn’t tie it. At one point in the final part of class, it burst off and fluttered to the ground. I am distraught.

I am six feet, one inch tall. I am easily six inches (but probably more like eight) taller than each and every other woman in that class. I have a frame that is just larger than most. Even my bones wouldn’t fit into a size 0. I figure that there must be some way to make it right, to talk to the teacher, to adjust. I summon what little courage I have and walk up to the instructor after most other students have cleared out.

“Excuse me, is there any chance I could have a bigger size?” I gesture to my “garment.”

What happened next shocked me and has made me self-conscious of my belly and my size ever since. The instructor leans forward, shakes his head, presses two fingers into my stomach just above my navel. He says, “Diet.”

A scarf always makes me look European somehow...

A scarf always makes me look European somehow…

I started working through Thirty Pretty Projects last week, in the midst of a major style transition. I outlined some of my reasons for this undertaking on that post, and this week tried to dress with more care and record my efforts with a camera. It isn’t going superbly well. This semi-fail has nothing to do with Already Pretty! It has everything to do with me not realizing just how far my body and style issues have gotten out of hand.

Style is a direct reflection of how one sees oneself. I try to generally dress with care and to choose things that will look great on my body, whatever form within seven or so inches its currently deciding to take. I’ve struggled this week, quite a bit. On the very first day I realized that I feel incredibly insecure in front of a camera in my current body, much less sharing anything that camera produces with all you who follow this blog. I look uncomfortable in the photos. It’s very different from two years ago when I began this blog and posted once weekly about fashion. It’s been more than a few tears, and my wonderful boyfriend has been so supportive. I must really need this body and style overhaul!

Tibetan Necklace from India

Tibetan Necklace from India

Target Necklace from Boulder

Target Necklace from Boulder

Part of the Thirty Pretty Projects’ first week is to explore aspects of the body that I want to highlight and show off, and ones that I would like to downplay. A problem that I discovered is that generally all of my outfits do both at once. I’m not sure how to remedy this other than to experiment more. I’m not particularly good at dressing for summer heat. Two years without a summer in my early twenties saw to that. I prefer cool weather, covered up styles, and layering to make my lumps and bumps less apparent. Few of those are available to me when it’s 95 degrees outside.

The collar of one of my favourite dresses.

The collar of one of my favourite dresses.

 

I do have some things that I want to emphasize in my outfits. I found that it was harder to admit to having things I didn’t like, perhaps because I feel as though I’m failing somehow if I don’t have perfect body acceptance.

I swing between extremes in my self talk and thought processes about my own body. I think “Fat! Disgusting!” one moment and then “Oooh! Pretty, shiny eyes!” the next. I snark at my hips in the mirror at the yoga and then marvel at my waist two minutes later. It’s a bit like a body image personality disorder.

Not happy with my outfit. I felt the jeans are too tight and my tummy stuck out too much.

Not happy with my outfit. I felt the jeans are too tight and my tummy stuck out too much.

But I came out of this week trying to balance myself out and find the actual parts of my body that I want to emphasize, flaunt, and flatter! I also tried to pin down the actual aspects that I want to downplay, instead of just feeling “fat” or uncomfortable overall. Voilà!

Celebrate: Butt, ankles, wrists, waist to hip ratio, décolletage, neck, eyes, nose ring

Downplay: Belly, upper arms, boobs (size), thighs

DSCN3776

Piercing power!

One of my favourite intersections of my body/style is my nose ring. I’ve had it all of my adult life. It is unique, edgy. I like to use other silver-coloured jewelry to make it “pop” on my face. It feels like me, and when I had to remove it for work in Korea I felt like my face was naked. I love my big round butt. My hips and waist are an excellent .7 ratio, which some have argued is excellent for both attractiveness and fertility.

I love my old-ass orange shoes! I dug them out this week and hadn't worn them in three years.

I love my old-ass orange shoes! I dug them out this week and hadn’t worn them in three years.

My neck is long and slender. My wrists and ankles are thin and taper nicely, perfect for emphasizing. There are so many good things to celebrate about my body. I need to make a list of them and keep them on my person for when I feel negativity creeping in.

I look a lot better in the pictures than I imagine myself looking. My perceptions about my style and my body are clearly out of whack, since the photos look fine! I need to work on my reactions to photography and the thoughts that come up for me each time. Why not celebrate how great my butt looks instead of how my arms look or how wide my boobs make my ribcage appear?

Feeling good in the kitchen!

Feeling good in the kitchen!

To my dismay, I found that my favourite garment of all, a dress from Modcloth that I bought for a friend’s wedding…no longer fits.

I'm not a size 12 anymore!

I’m not a size 12 anymore!

I can’t zip it up. My boobs and my waist have expanded past the point that the non-stretch fabric can take. I cried. I’m not certain that I’ll be able to get rid of the dress or replace it with a new one, especially because my body may readjust and thin down next year while I live in London. For now, the dress did me a favour. It made me realise that many of my clothes actually *can* be purged. I have a lot of clothing, but little that reflects my current style and less that fits my current body. I’m gaining weight still, but I can’t put my finger on why or how. I’m doing hot yoga three times a week. I’m getting acupuncture. I’ve even been dieting. It seems like my body just wants to be bigger right now, and no amount of effort is going to change it. I can still do all of this for my health and my sanity, but I have to stop trying to force my body to be smaller.

I love to emphasize my eyes with glasses. They look classy and academic, too.

I love to emphasize my eyes with glasses. They look classy and academic, too.

These teardrop earrings are from my coworkers in Korea. They sparkle!

These teardrop earrings are from my coworkers in Korea. They sparkle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I need more clothes that emphasise the right things about my chest, not just the size. I need bras that support and push the girls together, not apart. I need ways to make my waist look smaller but camoflague my tummy. I need more polished-looking clothes, with structure. I need more matchable things. I may need a new nose ring, as mine is a little misshapen from seven years of wear. I need to either mend or get rid of the many garments I have and wear that have large holes in them.

At the end of the first week, I feel frustrated but like I may be slowly wandering toward a better me. Check back next week for more updates and photos!

And a special thank you to Sally McGraw at Already Pretty for creating these projects! You can get our own copy here for only $5!

First Christmas, In Many Senses of the Words

Decorating the Apartment!

Decorating the Apartment!

Consignment-Only Christmas

Consignment-Only Christmas

Christmas is coming, and I’m in full swing here in Korea. Christmas sweater and all!

I’m truly excited for this year, in a way I haven’t been in three Christmases. It’s a chance to see how awesome the new year will be, a distraction from all that change and stress that seems to be creeping in even though 2013 has yet to begin.

Winter brings sunshine to my apartment!

Winter brings sunshine to my apartment!

Life seems a lot less stressful when there is good tofu soup on the stove, a nice hot wine in a mug, and cheap oranges that are so ripe it hurts in all the supermarkets. I even bought some LED Christmas lights that make my apartment glow as if there were a glowing fire in the kitchen. Much safer than real fire, obviously.

Beautiful LEDs to make an apartment a home.

Beautiful LEDs to make an apartment a home.

Cheapo, but who needs to know?

Cheapo, but who needs to know?

In all my years of traveling, I’ve never been away from my family at Christmas. Each time, I’ve come home in time for the Christmas party that my parents throw each year, to recount my adventures to those who want to hear and since I turned 21 to select the beer and wine.

 

I’m sad that I will be in Korea and far from them, but this year brings its own happy present already! It’s the first Christmas with the man I love, the first of many together. I have no fear of spending it alone, and in fact we get to establish our own traditions without pressure from anyone else. A dream, really!

May your Christmas season be merry and bright!

Sweater: tienda de ropa americana, Puerto Natales, Chile (~$5) 
Skirt: Found Underground, Louisville, Colorado ($5) 
Boots: Common Threads, Boulder, Colorado ($40)
Socks and tights are not consignment…my bad.