Friday, June 7, 2013

Sewing and My Personal Sense of Style

Have you seen my guest post over at Seamstress Erin's blog as part of her series on Sewing and Style? She's been doing this fabulous set of interviews with sewing bloggers about how these two things intersect, featuring such sewlebrities as Handmade by Carolyn (one of the first sewing blogs I discovered), American Duchess (one of my favorite costuming blogs), and Meg the Grand (one of my first sewing blogger friends!).

I was so flattered when Erin asked, because, well...if you had told middle school me that one day I would be asked to write about my sense of style, I would have laughed in your face. Actually, no, painfully shy middle school me would have shrunk back behind my book and thought malicious thoughts about punching you because it was probably a joke, like when horrible people nominate the unpopular kid for homecoming queen as a big prank. See, for most of my life, style was a mystery, a je ne sais quoi that cool people effortlessly had, and which I cluelessly grasped at, only to fail miserably. See exhibits #1 and 2:

Middle school me: giant glasses, high-waisted pants (but not in the cool retro sort of way), awful print-mixing and ugly sweaters.  Oh dear. 


Yeah. I was forever being teased at school about my free t-shirts from various academic competitions and mom jeans sent from Hong Kong by my aunt and grandma, not to mention the fact that I wore huge glasses and had no idea what to do with my hair. I know it was the late eighties/early nineties, and everyone was dressing questionably, but even my dressing questionably skills were, um, questionable. When I hit high school and college and finally got to dictate how I spent my clothing budget, my goal was to dress as unobtrusively as possible, which meant buying whatever mass-produced item was hottest at GAP and Old Navy. By the time I started teaching, I had more confidence and a slightly better sense of myself and who I was, so I began branching out into colors and quirky science t-shirts, but even then, my wardrobe was heavily dictated by what was available at the mall and in my price range. So how did I make the leap over to dressing like a cool geek (as opposed to a dorky geek)? Go check it out!

This is cool geek, right? 

25 comments:

  1. Thanks again for taking the time to write the guest post! Someone poking through your closet now (albeit digitally) would find no reason to think that you haven't always had such a unique and awesome sense of style. I appreciate hearing your story and getting the chance to share it. Thanks again!

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    1. I really appreciate your asking me to share my story! It was kind of nice having to think about my journey and put it into words.

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  2. Absolutely, cool geek! I think it's funny that "the 80's" are back in style again because what I remember the average person wearing in the 80's (not 80's movies or rock stars or the like) is perfectly represented by your middle school pictures. :)

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    1. Yeah, I cringe every time I hear that the 80s is back...

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  3. Oh, free tee shirts from academic events... my style wasn't fantastic in middle school either, or now for that matter!

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    1. I still have a couple of my middle school ones, sadly/happily enough! Mathcounts and the spelling bee, because those were my identity back then!

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  4. ah. middle school me also had those giant plastic glasses :-/ i sincerely hope my style has improved as much as yours has.

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    1. And here I was, thinking that I was the only one rocking those giant plastic frames!

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    2. I had them, too, (in 1st grade though, ugh!) and they were TERRIBLE!

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  5. Sounds like we could be twins... I wore fleece pants when I was thirteen. Fleece pants. Did someone say clueless?

    And it seems we make dresses for the same reason ;) easier to get an outfit out of it when you're using a crazy print!

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    1. Oh, but fleece pants are so comfy! I'm glad they exist, although I don't know that I would wear them out now.

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  6. I love your style, and I so related to this post. I swear until I went through puberty everyone thought I was a boy. Even when I did get hold of fashionable clothes I still managed to make them look crap. It didn't help that my younger sister was the archetypal blue eyed leggy blonde who looked good in everything. However, it did make me realise that as I was never going to look like a supermodel I may as well go with what I felt happy in. And as for science conference and academic competition t-shirts - been there, done that, say no more...

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    1. I think I wore enough pink and purple that nobody thought I was a boy, but that wasn't necessarily any better...

      So glad to hear from another free t-shirt wearer!

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  7. hell yes, cool geek. awesome geek. glorious geek. or we can ditch the nouns and just go with cool, awesome and glorious. Whatever works.

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  8. Love it! I'm thinking about a Ms. Frizzle wardrobe myself. I love sewing from thrifted sheets! I teach 3rd grade and if I showed up in a dinosaur dress my students would go nuts!!! I look forward to your posts and I love your style!

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    1. Ms. Frizzle has the best wardrobe! I think teaching third grade means you could totally get away with that kind of stuff!

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  9. My style odyssey is very similar. I was not a fashionable dresser in middle school--I developed boobs early and did my darndest to hide them behind big baggy shirts. We also grew up less then wealthy, which meant a lot of second hand clothing and hand-me-downs from relatives. Add to that, I was a very nervous and introvert child who "plucked" her hair like a distressed bird for a couple of years (my two closest friends moved away, essentially leaving me friendless and adrift, add to that the stress of suddenly realizing that being smart was liability).

    I still struggle with my wardrobe, to be honest. My me-made items are still a bit rough (I don't sew as often as I should) and I've gained a bit of weight in the past couple of years so trying to fit my body into clothing that the stores sell (and trying to work with what is an "abnormal" bust circumference according to retailers) makes for very little that's flattering. However, I've embraced my nerdiness and no longer give a flying f**k what people think about my comic book, Doctor Who, Stars Wars, Star Trek, book nerd loving self thinks is "cool" in terms of clothing. In fact, I've found that my "Home Sweet Tardis" shirt gets me some excited comments from fellow Whovians and that sporting clothing/sweaters inspired by literature makes for good conversation pieces.

    My goal is to have as awesome a me-made wardrobe as you have, lady!

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    1. Oh Tina, from one nervous, introverted child to another, thank you for sharing your story! I know what it feels like to grow up, as you say, less than wealthy, and while I didn't have hand-me-downs, I also wasn't wearing what all my classmates were wearing.

      The nice thing about getting older and gaining perspective is that you reach that lovely point where you stop dressing to please others, and just going with what makes you happy...so glad that you've reached that point and been able to meet fellow gooks that way!

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  10. Late bloomers are always more fascinating!

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  11. Obviously I think you're a cool geek (helloooooo, Jurassic Park twinsy dress!), and
    I can totally relate to being the strange little kid that never looked right. It's awesome to see the way that you've developed confidence and embraced your own style. Keep on makin' your super cool stuff!

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  12. I love Ms. Frizzle's style! I, too, developed more my own style, but I started by wearing my mom and grandmas vintagey stuff. (I wore bellbottoms and hiphuggers in 1995....hmmm). Then I went to sewing from my mom's patterns she saved from when she was a teenager. As I got older, I sewed more and bought less rtw. Now I sew for my kids, too, and they love being able to pick out wild material. And I've actually been told a couple times by my music students that I remind them of Ms. Frizzle , lol. Sewing for yourself is empowering, and you're an Inspiration.
    Sarah

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  13. Honestly? I still think that mixing polka dots with stripes is the height of cool. :)

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  14. You are definitely a very cool geek, no question.

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  15. I loved your guest post and your stories here. I think you're beautiful and stylish and unique and loved hearing about your style and your inspirations. I always look forward to seeing what amazing stuff you make!

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