happy birthday to me
i live in a tree
my na-ame is sallie
happy birthday to me!

yeah ok. my birthday was actually yesterday. i was too busy doing birthday stuff to blog. sometimes its gotta take a back seat, ya know? and here is my birthday dress!! don't you just wanna eat that floral print from tessuti?? i do. uh oh. sallie. don't eat the dress...

and look at that!! a smile! it must be a birthday miracle...

i wore this dress to a lovely wedding this past weekend for some truly lovely people. i don't know when it happened - but give me a pretty dress, a pretty wedding, pretty people, and a pretty good helping of champagne and i turn into one big old sentimental fool!

the wedding was really wonderful. it was out near kyle, tx. if that means anything to you then you're golden. i'm pretty geographically challenged even in the best scenarios so i kept stopping in the middle of admiring the beautiful landscape and saying "wait! just where the hell are we??!?" it didn't help that i couldn't get a straight answer out of anyone either. at first i was told i was somewhere in between houston and austin. then austin and san antonio. then i was basically outside of austin.

so that place - somewhere near-ish austin. in the region of texas... it was damn beautiful! we spent the weekend camping and then spruced ourselves up for the wedding and danced the night away! sunday was my birthday which was spent driving back to galveston and taking a looong loooonnngggg nap!

i had wanted to take these pictures out where we were camping (wherever that was...) because it was just so freaking idyllic what with the wildflowers and the bluebells and herds of caribbean goats... no really. i actually had a rather unnerving incident with a ram where he stared me down pretty intensely - on my birthday!!! (did i mention my birthday was yesterday??) this is important because i'm an aries - the ram!!! do you think he recognized me as one of his own??!?

oh yeah, but i didn't because, you know, i got caught up with celebrating. so you just get regular old galveston pictures.

oh yeah - so this dress! rachel comey for vogue patterns (v1209) made up in a tessuti silk.

well! i'm very glad a made a muslin. i did all the things i said i was going to do in my muslin post: i cut a bigger size, i let the bias hang, i added 2 inches of length and la-dee-da-dee-dee... all was going fine and dandy. until i got to the lining. lordy.

i mean really anytime i try and sew on a deadline i'm basically asking for some 2am drama rama. and thats what i got. i don't know what the deal was with this pattern. its cute as a button - don't get me wrong - but its a funky funky pattern. i'm usually one to own up to my own mistakes, but i really don't think this was my fault! i cut the lining the same size i cut my dress, and the dress without the lining fit great. so after installing the lining i go to try it on and... so tight!! like. child size tight. like it would not budge below my armpits.

i'm still not sure what the deal was - i didn't do anything wrong!! anyway i had a sad little breakdown in the wee hours of the morning where i weighed what seemed like my only two choices. either cut the lining out of the dress entirely (my fashion fabric is totally opaque - so it didn't really need a lining) or unpick the seams and see what that does. i decided to go for the latter. so i unpicked all my pretty french seams and re-sewed them at 1/4 inch. the lining fits - and comfortably - but the silk fabric is now a bit delicate. i think at some point the lining will need to be replaced - but i'm going to wait till i bust a seam to do that...

oh! and perhaps you're wondering how that zipper inserted into the bias seams worked out?

what zipper?!?!? muahahahhahahaha!!! that invisible zipper is invisible ya'll!!! okay well maybe not entirely invisible - but its very neat and there's no funny buckling of fabric. sunni's tutorial did me right. oh so right.

i wore my dress with my leather jacket when the night got a little bit chilly. they look good together. almost like they were made for each other (wink!)

and because i can... here's a lovey-dovey photobooth set for you from the wedding. whoever started doing photobooths at weddings was a genius.

well i'm off to stretch out the birthday goodness for a few more hours/days/weeks!!



feathers in caps


well i'll be. well i'll just be! (what does that even mean? i don't know but my grandma always says it... hi grandma!) you guys i am just all of a tizzle and fizzle and flub a dub dub dub...!! i was the featured member project on burdastyle!! this feels like a momentous occasion - who brought the champagne?!?

in addition to this major award (hehe) i've also got a couple shout outs and blog awards recently.

leah of a vintage thread and amy from cloth habit both gave me some liebster love. thanks guys!!

and liza jane of liza jane sews gave me a sunshine award!

the sunshine award comes with some questions!! oooh fun! i sure do love questions! here we go...

favorite color: pink! yes! unashamedly! next question... (i'm totally going to ace this test...)

favorite animal: octopus. or octopi... octopussy??

favorite number: erm. free? (shit! i'm bombing it...)

favorite non-alcoholic drink: ... ?? water. is it just me or do these questions kind of suck?

facebook or twitter: neither!

my passion: sunny days

getting or giving presents: lets be serious... getting!

favorite pattern: i thought this one was funny because everyone who answered it gave a sewing pattern related answer. so i'm going to say zig-zag just to be a contrarian!

favorite day of the week: snooze fest. i'm not even going to bother answering this... instead i'm going to tell you about this one time when i was driving with my husband and there was this bucket in the middle of the road and i saw it from blocks away and started screaming and swerved the car this way and that to avoid it - however when i finally i got to it i drove right over it in a panic. despite the fact that there were no other obstacles on the street and i was going like 20 mph - in the end i made a bee-line right for the damn bucket. do i sound like a terrifying driver?? i am...

favorite flower: peonies

phew! thank god thats over with!! i felt like i was on the worst first date of my life...

so i'm supposed to pass this little bit of blog love on to some other blogs! rather than making a list for each award i'm just going to give both the liebster and the sunshine to these blogs - because they deserve it!!

anyway, thanks for all the love internet universe!! you guys are just the bestest bunch of cyber friends a girl could ever ask for!



i love it when things go as planned

... but this is not one of those times...

say hi to lucille! she's the sweetest puppy dog in the world...and wouldn't leave me alone...

this is my muslin for my birthday dress (v1209). man am i glad i made a muslin! i sewed this baby up in a straight size 6, because, what can i say? i felt like a 6! what?! you never base your sizing on your feelings??

well last time i made a vogue pattern i felt like the sizing on the pattern envelope was for the birds and just figured out which size to cut by the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern pieces. thats all well and good, except this time there weren't any finished garment measurements printed on the pattern. so! i went with my feelings...

apparently i feel a bit skinnier than i am, because this dress is tight! not so tight that i'm going to bust a seam, but tight enough that my husband says i look goood and i take that to mean its verging on public indecency! tmi??

funny thing is - its pretty much falling off my shoulders and gaps like its nobody's business in the back. so i just tapered it to a size 8 from the armpits down because if i do an 8 at the top it'll fall down to my boobs and i'll get arrested for public indecency for other reasons!

i also took a little tuck out of the back "v" to shorten it so it doesn't gap so much.

while we're on the subject of public indecency... can we talk about how short this dress is? this is before the 5/8" hem it suggests. just putting all the goods out there, aren't we rachel comey?

another reason i vow to always make a muslin - check out that zipper. holy. cannoli. that is one effed up zipper. the side zip gets inserted into some wacky bias seams. while part of the craziness of this zipper has to do with the fact that the dress is tight and pulling it weird, the other part of it is that bias seams and zippers don't like each other.

also, check out that crazy side seam! twisting all over the place! note to self - let the dress hang before sewing up the side seam...

i have to admit that i was a bit nervous about how this style would work on me - whether it would be flattering or just... ghastly. this is the other reason i think muslins are so important; besides walking yourself through the construction of the dress and getting to see what all the little weirdnesses are in the pattern, you also get to check out how the style works on you before you commit to your nice fabric.

i'm pleased to say that i like this dress. even with all the rippling and tugging and twisting thats going on with this muslin - i think its a cute dress. but its gonna need some work!!!

so here's the changes i'll be making to v1209:
  • cut a larger size for crying out loud!!
  • take a 1 inch tuck out of the back "v" to shorten it
  • staystitch the living daylights out of the neckline
  • add 2 inches of length all around - i mean seriously...
  • let the damn thing hang to work out those bias seams
  • use this tutorial for a pucker free zipper
wish me luck!




since this jacket made its debut on the blog last friday it has already seen a fair amount of wear this weekend. even though its leather, and you'd think it might be heavy and hot, its actually the perfect light layer for the cooler nights and windy days we've been having.

as promised, i've collected some more detailed shots of the jacket for you - since i know as sewing bloggers we love to peek at the insides and see the stitches and seams up close!

there's that pink bemberg lining! if i had to do one thing differently on this jacket it would be the lining. here's why: i sewed the lining a little big (instead of using a 1/2 inch seam allowance like i did on the jacket, i used 3/8 inch) which is what i did for my red jacket. however i inserted this lining using the bagged method rather than the hand sewn method i used for the red jacket and i think it looks a bit too big. i know you want extra room in a lining for ease of wearing, but this looks a bit fluffy to me. it doesn't affect the wear of the jacket - no bunching or twisting or anything - but when i look at it inside out it does look a bit floofy.

i pinked the edges of the front draped part and the back facing as a decorative element. i've always had a soft spot for the way a pinked edge looks and since the leather doesn't actually fray it doesn't serve any functional purpose (except the function of making me smile a little - its like a little ray of sunshine back there...)

here you can see how the drape in the front works. its basically just an equilateral triangle thats been tacked on - although its much more secure than that! it doesn't roll around the neck like a traditional lapel, instead it falls from the side of the neck at the shoulder seam.

i used topstitching both as a decorative element and to give strength to certain areas of the jacket. i especially used it around the draped lapel to help ease any strain there. you can also see the sleeve seams here. i didn't use any sleeve heads or shoulder pads in this jacket because i really wanted it to be soft and unstructured. i suppose i could have used some muslin or organza or something in there just to fill out those dimples, but i'm not too fussed about it.

and here's my nemesis... the set in sleeve. as i mentioned in an earlier post - this sleeve draft isn't perfect, but i just needed to move on. the sleeve gets a few funny wrinkles when i wear it, but i can also lift my arms above my head, type on a keyboard, drive, and basically use my arms for whatever i need to use my arms for - like flag twirling. just kidding. i don't twirl flags. but i could in this jacket! so i'll take a few weird wrinkles. will i use this sleeve draft when i make a jacket again? probably not. i'll probably try and draft a new one. but i definitely feel like i've learned a bit about sleeves...much to my chagrin...

so i wanted to say a quick word about some blog administration stuff (snooze fest, i know). after getting yet another comment about how difficult it is to comment on my blog i decided to change my commenting platform. this commenter was kind enough to suggest i download disqus, and i took the suggestion, because honestly, while i know that blogger has the worst setup for comments ever (i mean, can anyone read those obnoxious security words??) i really had no clue that i even had another option! so thank you, theperfectnose - your wise words were much appreciated.

that being said - after importing all my past comments into disqus, my replies are now all out of order! i love reading the comments on my blog and the fact that you all take the time to say hi and leave some kind words here just means the world to me. its really important to me to let you know how much i appreciate your comments by replying - but now all my replies are out of order and not matched up with the right comment!! so if it looks like i didn't reply to your comment, that may not be so! it just might be out of order and floating around amongst the other comments.

anyway, i hope this will make commenting on the blog easier for everyone from here on out!



color story


well here she is! (definitely a she) my draped leather jacket. this may be one of my favorite garments i've ever made. it just feels so good to wear! i wanted to wait to take these pictures until i finished this skirt (one of my "bonus" projects from my spring wardrobe). sometimes i get the outfit and the blog pictures in my mind and that alone dictates what i sew. for example: this exact outfit combination had to be paired with this particular abandoned-easter-egg-building with creepy blacked-out windows (once a strip club?). please tell me i'm not the only one that does this (the outfit/blog/picture planning - not posing like a dorkasaurus in front of sketchy abandoned buildings in shady parts of town. i know i'm not the only one that does that!)...

so...i figured a simple gathered dirndl skirt... should be able to whip it out one evening after work, right? no. no thats not right at all. because apparently i can tackle leather and hand tailoring and boning and all those things people think are "advanced" like it ain't no thang - but when it comes to the most basic skirt construction i'm totally flummoxed. flummoxed people!

i won't bore you with the details. just know that there were broken needles involved, a lot of swearing, and i kinda want to cry if i look at the waistband for too long. but no matter, thats what belts are for, amiright?! when its all said and done i actually don't particularly care that i've got a crooked waistband because really, this skirt is so fun to wear!!! all swishy and light. plus i really love the color. the entire time i was sewing it i was trying to place what the color reminded me of. well the entire time that wasn't consumed with shouting expletives! anyway, i kept conjuring up some flavor that i've linked to summer as a kid. and finally i placed it - its the exact color of watermelon bubblegum (bubblicious brand)! it may not look like it in the pictures, but trust me, watermelon bubblegum. these sensory associations don't lie. memories are so weird... now i think i can smell it...

i decided to take a page out of my sister's book and paired my leather jacket and silk skirt with a simple white t-shirt. well, my version of a white t-shirt. i made this about a year ago, its one of the patterns from the japanese drape drape books. not sure which one and frankly i'm too lazy to get up, walk over to my bookshelf, and thumb through them to find out (its friday, guys). so if anyone is burning of curiosity just shout it out in the comments and i guess i can take the five steps to figure it out for you...

regardless, its obviously a drapey t-shirt. i made it out of some slubby linen knit type stuff. and thats my bra underneath it. i'm probably wearing underpants underneath my skirt too. i think...

edit: haha!! i just realized it looks like i'm wearing a teeny purple hat in this picture... good god, what was i thinking...

okay, i'm obviously in a bit of a goofy mood and should probably cut it off here before this really starts going down the toilet (pffft! toilets!) i've already typed more random sentences about my underwear and i want to quit while i still have the good sense to delete them.

truthfully, i think i'm out of things to say since i already covered so much of the construction stuff in my last post. have no fear though, i have some up close detail shots of the jacket innards and stitchery and such coming, but i gotta space out the good stuff!



an unusual array of tools

hi everyone! i hope you all had a lovely weekend! my husband is out of town this week so that means that i will be clattering away at the sewing machine during my evenings, trying to make decent headway on my spring wardrobe. it also means that i'll be nerding out with harry potter audio books - which i practically have memorized - all week long!!!

change of subject! you guys seemed pretty intrigued by my plans for the "draped leather jacket" so i thought i would share some of the behind-the-scenes action. i'd like to share some of my "design process" for this jacket, since i drafted the pattern myself, and also some of my experiences in working with the lambskin (i think in my last post i called it sheepskin, but its actually lambskin).

first - a disclaimer: you guys. i am not a designer. i have zero background in this stuff. i've never even taken a class. i have one pattern making book that i've had for less than three months and i'm the queen of google searches. thats the extent of my knowledge. so please don't think of any of this as some sort of tutorial, or of me as some voice of authority. i don't know what i'm doing! this is just more of a chronicle of my experimentation, and, despite the fact that i don't know the right way to do a lot of this stuff, i'm happy with the results - for me! the same is true of working with leather. this was my first time handling the stuff so it was all a learning experience...

now that i got that off my chest, lets talk about my fumbling experience with pattern drafting...

i started with my sloper. this was the finished state of it after many hair wrenching re-drafts. actually i think the sleeves on this guy are still sucky, but i gave up. also, please ignore the fact that all these muslins are a wrinkled mess - they've been living in a ball on the edge of my sewing table. aaaand please ignore the ripped "v" at the neck. in a state of fitting frustration i tore open the muslin - incredible hulk style - only to realize that it solved the majority of my fitting woes... sometimes channeling a bit of roid rage has its benefits...

using my sloper i was able to make a torso block (which is basically the same thing as the bodice in the first picture, except that it extends down to hip level) and from that i drafted a basic two-dart jacket. i added ease and extended the shoulders. this first try was really big all around so i pinched out excess fabric at the front and back darts and the side.

the next go-around was a bit more flattering, but i still had some excess in the front (you can see how i pinned it out). i also experimented with the construction on this one, sewing the sleeves in flat and then sewing up the side seam and underarm seam in one go. this worked really well for me.

this next version was sewn up in some creepy polyester stuff thats been hanging around for way too long. (side rant - why can't i get polyester to press flat? also, why does it smell like a 70's basement when i press it? that stuff is just icky...) here i converted all my darts to princess seams - which i had to take in because apparently i'm not as busty as i thought. i was pretty happy with this muslin and considered using it as my final draft.... except for the sleeves!!!

a word about sleeves... again (deeeep siiighhhh) so for this jacket i was very worried about the sleeve ease because i knew i was going to be sewing it out of leather and, well, leather doesn't ease. so i drafted a sleeve and armhole that had zero ease.

you guys. i'm sure a lot of you have read the article on fashion incubator about sleeve ease being unnecessary and its all about the shape of the sleeve cap/armhole? if not, you can read it here. but i caution you. after i read it i felt like i had entered myself into the extreme sports of sewing. all of a sudden it was like "sallie just parachuted into an active volcano - but can she draft a sleeve without ease?!?" i think it caused more problems for me than if i had just worked with the stupid looking sleeve draft that was in my book.

here's the thing - again, from my limited experience. to make a sleeve that had zero ease i had to extend the shoulder seam about 1/2 inch. and it worked. and it looked... okay. but i just felt that, design wise, the wide shoulder wasn't the most flattering. as you can imagine, it made my shoulders look wide. so i decided to shorten the shoulder seam again and add sleeve cap height to compensate for the roundness of the upper shoulder. i figured my leather would be able to handle some gathering, as long as it wasn't excessive. and... it worked! so while i think that perhaps sleeve cap ease can be eliminated it will alter the design of your look. i just can't figure out how you'd make a sleeve with zero ease work without having a wider shoulder. reading this post helped me disqualify myself from the extreme sports of sewing and just freaking make it work!!

so, the conclusion of my sleeve saga: don't get caught up in chasing the mythological sleeve. its not worth it and you'll end up trying to prove something to yourself, which is, in the end, pointless. just make a sleeve that works and move on with your damn life! my final sleeve? meh. i'm not in love, but it looks okay to me.

for this muslin i worked with the sleeve ease and shorter shoulder seam and found that it resulted in a very comfy sleeve (armhole looks weird here because i pressed it weird - promise). i almost started going down the rabbit-hole of fitting (over-fitting?) only to stop myself. i decided i liked the look of this jacket. it may not be the most "correct" fit in the world, but it fit the way i wanted it to and so i decided to focus my attention on drafting the draped front that i wanted. this was really the fun part. to do this i just cut a few triangles and pinned them together until i got the sort of shape that i had in mind. its certainly not an earth-shattering design, but it was fun to figure out.

a whole mess of discarded patterns and one dorky kitty

at this point i made all the final changes to my paper patterns and wrote out some instructions for myself to i could walk myself through the construction in my head.

then i cut out the leather.....

yes that is a brick up there on the right. it is my most favorite of pattern weights...

as i mentioned, this was my first time working with leather. i blame it all on amy from cloth habit for casually mentioning that she was going to be making this fabulous coat with leather trim. before this - i had never even dreamed of sewing with leather. but because of her the idea impregnated itself in my brain, and - after the usual gestation period - i now have a leather jacket baby!

here's some of my thoughts on working with leather - in no particular order:
  • this stuff is awesome!
  • really, a dream to work with!!
  • imagonna make everything out of leeaaathhhherrrrrrrr!!!!!
so yeah. i liked it.

i traced my pattern pieces onto the leather hides (it took 4 hides to make my jacket) i followed this advice, once again from fashion incubator, on how to lay out your pattern pieces. then i just cut the pieces with my rotary cutter. no weird shifting, no fraying... easy peasy lemon squeezy.

i did a few tests with some scraps, figuring out needles and stitch length and top stitching. since the leather i was working with was pretty thin and drapey my regular universal needles worked okay, but the leather needle made a cleaner hole and i think it handled thicker layers better.

i had read in a bunch of places on ye olde worlde wide webb that a teflon foot was recommended for sewing leather. i didn't have one and didn't feel like buying one so i used my even feed walking foot. worked like a charm.

the same world wide web told me that pinning leather was not advisable since it will leave permanent holes in the leather. a few sites suggested to clip the leather pieces together with bulldog (binder) clips instead. i tried this but found that the clip would get caught on the edge of my throat plate on my sewing machine and yank the leather as it was being fed through. so instead i decided to just use plain old masking tape and taped my seams together. also (shhh) i used pins. yeah. i did. freaking rebel over here. i just made sure to pin in the seam allowance.

pressing seams was another switch up from your standard fabric sewing. i didn't even try to iron the leather, i just assumed it wouldn't work. so i bought this little ink roller (brayer) and rolled it over the seams to flatten them a few times, then used a thin layer of rubber cement to tack my seam allowances down. fun!

some other firsts for me on this project - working with rayon bemberg (ambience stuff) and bagging a jacket lining (had to modify this a bit since i left the front edge of the jacket unfinished because leather doesn't fray!!!).

really, the whole thing came together quite quickly and without any drama. maybe its because i essentially sewed the jacket 3 times before i set to work with the leather, or maybe it was just an easy pattern. but whatever. i finished the jacket last night (at the same time i finished listening to deathly hallows for the 455th time... me and harry potter, we're so in sync!) and i really like it!

i'll post pictures this week - scouts honor!



lets make this official

okay. i've been meaning to do this for awhile but i've had trouble getting my butt in gear. i found it pretty helpful to make a plan when i started sewing for fall - even though, in the end, i didn't really stick to that plan too well (ahem.) but regardless of my fickleness and the fact that i grossly overestimated my sewing productivity (ahem!) i still think its helpful to make a plan, make it public, and try and stick by it as much as possible. having a plan helps me buy fabric and budget my time. and this time i majorly scaled back what i want to sew so i don't overwhelm myself and feel like a failure because i didn't reach my goals (who me?!).

so here you have it - my official "to sew" list for spring 2012:

i'm pretty proud to say that i've already made some good headway on this one. i decided to draft the pattern myself because i couldn't find one exactly like what i had in mind. fast forward 5 muslins and countless sleeve drafts later and i now have something i'm pretty happy with! i think i'm ready to cut into my leather (might even take that fun little task on tonight) and do some practice sewing on some leather scraps just to get a feel for it. i also wrote myself out some sewing instructions. does anyone else do this? i find it supremely helpful when i decide to "wing" a garment - writing it out makes my brain think through the construction and i'm able to catch mistakes before i make them! (most of the time).

march is my birthday month! woohoo! this year i'll actually be attending the wedding of some dear, beautiful people my birthday weekend so i wanted something that i could wear to the wedding, and also something a little special as a present to myself! we have a few weddings coming up, so i'm hoping this dress will be my "go-to" spring/summer special occasion dress. it'll be nice to give my bombshell dress a break, which was my fall/winter special occasion "go-to". i bought this rachel comey for vogue pattern back in the fall and i was waiting to make it until i found the perfect fabric. i always envisioned it in a floral print, but none really tickled my fancy - that is until i came across this silk print on tessuti and had to wipe the drool off my keyboard! it'll be a bit loud, but i think the dress can handle it. one of my goals this spring is to incorporate more prints so... here we go!

p.s. did ya'll see this lady's version of this dress? she said she had a hard time with it, but hot damn! girl looks good...

another rachel comey pattern! i wasn't lying when i said i practically bought them all! these patterns have been languishing in my drawer for too long (a whole 6 months!?!? told you i'm not much of a hoarder...) and they're far too pretty to just look at. i think for this pattern, and the dress pattern above, a muslin will be key. they seem like the sort of garments that could turn ugly real fast if they don't fit you just so. i plan to make this one out of another pretty tessuti silk print. the print is abstract and washy and the colors are just soo summery! it'll be a pretty sheer top, but that doesn't really bother me (give me a nude bra and i'm good to go - modesty was never my forte!)

and thats it!! is that too stingy of a sewing list?? lets just say these are my priorities. i've also been knocking a couple other ideas around in the back of my mind as well...

we'll call these the icing on the cake! i've wanted a white silk blouse for... about ever! haha! i've waffled back and forth between "buy it/make it" so many times i've lost count. so here it is - it officially made a "to make" list! a think a bright punchy pink chiffon midi skirt would be the most wonderful garment to sail into summer with! plus, i plan on making a simple gathered drindl skirt which will be my project for when i've burnt myself out on all this pattern drafting. and the pale pink jeans? what can i say... i've got an itch to jump on the colored-jeans-trend-bandwagon! unfortunately i seem to be obnoxiously picky about the color and can't seem to find a fabric that satisfies me so i'm thinking maybe i have to dye some white denim? blech. that doesn't sound fun. lets just say this one is a bit low on the priorities!!

well, my lovelies, there you have it! written in stone! in playdough stone. in extremely malleable stone... i feel like i can handle this list. although to be honest, i plan on doing the bulk of this sewing this month...gah! march 8th?!?! better get to it!



guest post: style school with katie

hey there! i'm very pleased to introduce my first ever guest post on this blog, and by a very special person, no less. i've invited my sister to give us a little style schooling for the upcoming spring months. now, most of you don't know my sister but take my word for it, she is one beautiful, amazing, and stylish lady and, i think you will find, a very entertaining writer! for the past few years we've lived very far away from each other, and as any of you who have a sister who's also your best friend know, this is not fun. i love that we live in an age of internet where my sister and i can connect through this blog and others and basically chatter and gossip like we're sitting down with a cup of tea and the latest issue of "us weekly" (almost). today she'll be discussing one of those wardrobe staples that, while insanely simple, can be like the holy grail of even the most basic wardrobe. so without further adieu... cats and kittens... i introdue you to my sister, katie...

Greetings lovely Sallieoh readers! (I will admit to feeling a bit like I'm on a blind date here... I'm kinda nervous and debating just how much of my neurosis to reveal in this first beauty beat post... too much and I'll scare you off for sure, not enough and I run the rist of sounding like I'm writing a term paper. Though to be honest, I always had a hard time writing in that awkward 3rd person style required by academia, so I think it best to jump in assuming that our mutual love of Sallie will bond us - we'll all be like internet sisters! Hurrah!) And so, sisters of style, I hope this finds you feeling fabulous and fashionable... Wouldn't it be great if we felt that way every day? Ah, if only.

This time of year I have an exceedingly difficult time getting dressed, which often leaves me feeling less than fab. I'm hoping I'm not the only one whose been in the awkward position of standing in front of a pile of your clothes, feeling less than your best, staring in desperation and wondering what in the world to wear. This quest will often lead, more times than not, to a bed full of haplessly tossed clothes, frequent mirror check-ins, desperately formed outfit combinations (for the record a head scarf never ever works on me) and in my case; an irritated third party observer. If this hasn't happened to you, I beg you not to tell me of your triumph. I've convinced myself (and my husband) that every woman goes through this ritual... only their closets are bigger... and the process would take longer. But for those of you who can stand in solidarity with me and have also felt that helpless feeling that you were one outfit away from showing up to work in your birthday suit I give you: The Plain White Tee.

Yep, that's what I'm writing about today. Shocked? Don't be. I'm full of surprises! The T is so simple - but that's why it works. The plain white tee is my go to, my staple. It's the answer to breaking up the monotony of grey and black that was my winter wardrobe. It adds a little spring to my step, and it happies up my closet. It's what I turn to when everything else seems to be too much and it's what I turn to when everything else seems to be not enough. The white tee is classic, iconic, versatile. No other wardrobe staple allows itself to be dressed up or down in endless combinations. The white tee says I'm a clean, confident, and put together woman - something I very rarely feel and few other clothing items can help me get there.

denim short set via stacy-gustin at polyvore
striped skirt set via abbeyjb at polyvore
blazer and scarf set via bluehydrangea at polyvore
to view all other image sources and see more t inspirations click here

Take a look at some of these snazzy style options. Of course we're all familiar with the jeans and T look, or for when we're feeling a wee bit prep, the khaki's and T. But we often underestimate the T's ability to sit back and take any pop of color that we throw in its direction. Yellow? Perfect. Pink? Bring it on. Feeling bold - rock it with some red - or just stick with the laid back James Dean kind of cool and let the T speak for itself. Keep a blazer handy should an impromptu meeting arise and you'll show up looking like the confident, creative cat that you are.

black maxi set via katie distefano at polyvore
yellow set via chic-geek at polyvore
to view all other image sources and see more t inspirations click here

No less powerful, but seldom explored is the T's ability to accompany a more formal look. Last year's runways were flooded with see-through gals in white T's and maxi skirts exuding an effortless glamour. This means, style sisters, that the rest of us can rock the trend this year. Heck, if J.Crew is selling wedding skirts along with their classic T - we can wear a T to a cocktail party! I personally think that the raddest thing you can do with your T is wear it with a long chiffon skirt and a denim or leather jacket. Add a funky statement necklace, muss your hair a bit and you are guaranteed to outshine the rest of the gals at the soiree (should you care about that sort of thing) and arrive on time (should you care about that sort of thing).

So are you with me on this one and nodding in agreement that the T just may indeed be our fashion savior? Oh good, then let's move on to the next conundrum; navigating the sea of tees that stock every shelf from Target to Saks this time of year. All tees are not created equal, yet there are so many tee's at so many price points that we are sure to find the one that is perfect for us. Now you should know that I have spent a fair portion of my formative fashion years perusing the style mags - I memorized Lucky's shopping manual and In Style secrets of style and I'm pretty sure this makes me an expert in the field of tee shirts. Fashion Friends, here is what I've learned while earning my prestigious Tee Degree, my three degrees of T's, if you will: (Sleeves, Neckline, and Drape)
  1. Sleeves: Capped sleeves are difficult to wear after high school unless you have the upper arms of Madonna or Michelle O'Bama. Opt instead for a sleeve that falls straight from your shoulder and close to the body, without flaring.
  2. Necklines: I'll make it simple, sisters: show some skin! The high crewneck makes those of us who are well endowed in the chestal region look larger, and those who are not look like our belly button sprouted some eyes. Have fun with that mental image while you instead experiment with the scoop, low scoop, v-neck, and boat necklines. The deeper the angle of the scoop and v the more slimming these shirts are - so show some sexy collar bones sisters!
  3. I dream in drape. I am partial to a thinner T that falls close to the body without clinging to my love handles. It should be snug-ish without being active wear tight - can you see the outline of your bra? Size up or go for another style. The perfect drape in a T can make me feel 5 pounds thinner - which is a fantastic thing for someone who hates exercising. Still, my number 3 degree is a tricky one. Don't judge the T on the table and if at all possible find the time to try on the darling before you purchase. Too stiff, you run the risk of looking like you're wearing your high school fundraiser tee and you'll find yourself wondering if it's still okay to knot the shirt on the side with a hair scrunchie. Too flimsy and you'll feel like you're one degree away from a wet tee shirt contest and will be forced to add a base layer which completely flies in the face of the T's ease of dressing.
And there you have it... my three degrees of T's - go forth and find thee the perfect T! What's that? You'd like my advice on where to start?!? I'm honored that you asked and I'd be happy to help. It just so happens that I've been doing a bit of research on the topic of late because this is the time of year that I like to stock up on my plain white darlings. In the past, my motto when shopping for T's has been buy cheap and buy often. Thankfully this is one wardrobe necessity that cheap doesn't necessarily denote crappy. I'm currently rocking the Target boyfriend T (image 6 below) and love it. But I do realize that you may not all share my thriftiness and may, in fact, like to up the style anti a bit. Pictured below are 6 stylish shirts that strive to meet the 3 degrees of T's. (Click on the links below the image to go directly to the retailers sites). Other fabulous options are the Gap Favorite V-Neck T ( which considerately makes itself available in regular, tall, petite and plus sizes) and the very luxurious Basic V-neck by Juicy Couture.

Just one more thing before you go, lovely ladies (and any lurking gentlemen). I hesitate to mention this, as it may fall into the category of TMI and we've only just met, but... well... you know those nasty underarm stains that these shirts tend to get after a month or so of wear? Well I thought I should pass on my keeping it clean secrets... It takes a bit of elbow grease and a few minutes of your time, but in case you don't subscribe to my cheap and often philosophy for buying shirts I thought you may want to know how to protect your investment.

  1. Prevention is the best medicine. The clever chaps at Real Simple offer up this bit of wisdom: Sprinkle baby powder on the underarms of your shirt, then iron to prevent sweat stains on white shirts. Supposedly the powder forms a barrier that keeps our lovely lady body oils from leaking into the pits of our T.
  2. Sock it to 'em: Already stained? Try this super amazing cleaning tip that I fortunately stumbled upon a while back on One Good Thing by Jillee. This was quite fun and I had a bit of a mad scientist meets thrifty pioneer woman taking it to task. Mix a 1:2 ratio of Dawn dishwashing liquid with hydrogen peroxide then a dash of baking soda for good scrub-itude. Use a small laundry brush (or nail brush if you're like me and were shocked that they made laundry brushes) to work your potion into the stain for a few minutes. Let it sit for an hour then launder away the yellow. Good as new!
And so, sallieoh sisters, that brings this plain white post to an end. I hope you can benefit, as I have, from this simple style option and can circumvent the piles of clean (and most likely dirty) clothes strewn about your room and instead choose to don the T. You are guaranteed to look calm, cool, collected and totally rocking. Do you have a favorite T look? Share it with your fellow sisters in the comments... Is there something you'd like us to explore for a future post? We'd love to hear that too. Until next time, keep being fabulous!