Save The Drama

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shirt: Old Navy, $19
Skirt: Urban Outfitters, $30
Heels: secondhand American Eagle brand, $9 from thrift store
Necklaces/bracelet: Target, $10 for 3-pack of imitation pearls

I've got a hot appointment at the theatre tonight with a gaggle of lady-friends, so I wanted to wear my best skirt for the occasion. This is a skirt that makes me feel a little like a ballerina and a lot like a style blogger; the mid-calf length is something I would have steered clear of not too long ago, but I really like it these days. Pairing the dramatic skirt with a knotted, western-ish shirt feels happy and whimsical.

So, television observation: what's up with all the shows about cakes and cupcakes and bakeries? It's a very unusual programming trend, I think. And now I've got this huge sugar craving to deal with.

Gingham Shirt Remix #3:

See also:
Gingham Shirt Remix #1
Gingham Shirt Remix #2
Gingham Shirt Remix #4

Goodness: Getting All Colorful

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and I went to the Holi Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork on Saturday. It was splendid. I danced and got purple powder in my nose and heard a monk tell all of us (the hundreds of people gathered for the color throw) that he hoped the only chemical we were under the influence of was LOVE. Because LOVE is all you need. Such a good day for hippie Sara.


Headband: secondhand, hand-me-down from a friend
Shirt: Old Navy, $19
Sweater: Old Navy, $10
Pants: secondhand, $0.56 from thrift store
Loafers: secondhand Cole Haan brand, $2 from thrift store
Necklaces: both secondhand -- circular one found on the ground, the other a vintage hand-me-down from my mom

Here are some things from the last 48 hours or so:

My soon-to-be sister-in-law (she's marrying my little brother in June) told me that I have a nice little bubble butt. She meant it as a total compliment and that's how I took it. If they're coming from people I know and like, posterior compliments are always welcome.

I've decided that painful headbands are stupid, and if they have a ginormous fabric flower attached, that's even worse. Neither of these facts stopped me from wearing that headband today, though I did strategically choose pictures that would downplay the size of the flower.

Once I get on a swing, do not tell me to get off of it. It's the best place in the world.

I'm just gonna say it: Sucker Punch is awesome. My husband and I saw it last night, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. To clarify, I am not a fifteen-year-old boy looking to scam on some hot movie chicks and hot movie violence; as it turns out, the movie also has significant appeal for a 24-year-old, non-gamer-type lady. If you like your movies melodramatic, musically-charged, imaginative, and heavy on the girl-power, go see it.

Gingham Shirt Remix #2:

See also:
Gingham Shirt Remix #1
Gingham Shirt Remix #3
Gingham Shirt Remix #4


Monday, March 28, 2011

Gingham shirt: Old Navy, $19
Striped shirt: Alternative Apparel, $11
Jeans: Guess brand via Buckle, $92
Shoes: secondhand Converse brand, gift (my mom got them for me at a yard sale)
Necklace: Wal-Mart, $8
Headband (as bracelet): grocery store, $3 for 6-pack

Once-in-a-blue-moon event: my hair is straight today! I went to the salon to have my hair color re-done, and the stylist offered to blow-out my hair as well. She made it look really nice and everything, but I think I look better with curls. It's nice to try something different, all the same.

Today marks the beginning of The Weeklong Remix, installment numero dos, and I'll be partying it up with my blue gingham shirt this week. Today's look was super-casual, sort of Ellen Page inspired. Actually, I wore this shirt to church yesterday as well, but I just couldn't bring myself to take pictures. I blame my un-motivation on the fact that my blonde roots were getting outrageous. Problem solved. Maybe I'll don the same outfit later this week. Anyhoo ... get excited, party people.

Gingham Shirt Remix #1:

See also:

Frantic Friday (like "Manic Monday," but not)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweater: secondhand Blue Asphalt brand, hand-me-down from friend
Necklace: Wal-Mart, $5
Sheath dress: secondhand Ann Taylor brand, $13 from thrift store
Jeggings: gift from my mom
Boots: Rocketdog brand via Macy's, $30

Sick of this dress yet? Because I'm not. I pulled out the dress-over-pants trick on Friday and actually liked it, surprisingly enough.

Friday was a very draining day. I went to see a new-to-me gynecologist whose office is about an hour and a half away, and as luck would have it, the weather was horrendous for most of the drive. High stress level! I made it to the appointment on time, though, and while the appointment itself went really well (such a great doctor!), it's ultimately still a feet-in-metal-stirrups situation, and that's not the most relaxing thing. I finished up with a semi-stressful return drive and several hours of work. Thank goodness I wore comfortable shoes and clothes.

So here it is, the fifth and final sheath dress remix:

See also:

Under sweaters, under a skirt, over t-shirts, over another dress, over pants, with boots and heels and brogues, The Weeklong Remix numero uno is complete.

Goodness: Birth Stories

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(image from

I've got a fever. It's called "baby fever." This is a condition characterized by liking/wanting babies. Pictures like the one above do not help, but I love them nevertheless.

From what I read, women worldwide are starting to think about pregnancy and childbirth with increasing anxiety. (Have you ever heard of tokophobia? It's a phobic fear of pregnancy. Dame Helen Mirren's got it.) I find myself at the other end of the spectrum, being really excited for the days when my belly starts protruding, when I try to figure out breastfeeding, when I fixate on my baby's newfound ability to roll over.

Oh, right, the point: I love reading birth stories. It's become increasingly common for moms to write and share accounts of how labor and delivery went for them, and you can find these stories all over the internet (here, for example). I read them for fun and for comfort, which probably seems funky to some. I guess I just prefer these firsthand recollections of birth to the way it's typically presented on TV and in movies -- as a frantic hellhole that would make anyone develop a phobia. I mean, it is that, sometimes, but not always, and I'm so glad that women have started sharing their experiences like this. Cue the warm, fuzzy feelings.

Voted Most Quirky

Shirt: Downeast Outfitters, $10
Sheath dress: secondhand Ann Taylor brand, $13 from thrift store
Slip: secondhand, $2 from thrift store
Tights: Forever 21, $1.50
Socks: TJ Maxx, $4 for 3-pack
Shoes: secondhand KIKIT brand, $3 from antique warehouse
Earrings: Icing by Claire's, $4

Whenever the movie Knocked Up is on TV (which it is pretty often - thanks, E! Entertainment Television), I feel physically compelled to watch it. It's my thing, this bottomless well of affection for Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. I don't get it any more than you do.

Just thought you might like to know.

I'm really a fan of today's outfit - mostly neutral, a little bit of color with my shirt and forever-favorite tights (yellow tights are the bomb, I say). And I feel tall -- go figure. I only have one more day of wearing the super-useful sheath dress this week, and I have to say, I've got plenty of outfit ideas to spare. Whatever I end up with tomorrow will have to be easy and comfortable; I'm in for a visit to the lady doctor (she's a doctor who's a lady, but also a doctor for ladies), so I don't want to fuss with something complicated that I have to change out of and into repeatedly. Clothes should be the least of my worries tomorrow.

Sheath Dress Remix #4:

See also:
Sheath Dress Remix #1
Sheath Dress Remix #2
Sheath Dress Remix #3
Sheath Dress Remix #5

Mixed Feelings: The Reasons That Modesty Both Empowers and Discourages Me

Quick note: I am writing this post as part of the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network. I'll be writing a few more posts in the coming weeks that bring feminism and fashion into conversation with each other, so be watching for those. And for more information on the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network, click here.

I was asked to write a little sum'n-sum'n about the idea of modesty, from my dual perspectives of a Mormon and a feminist. It's been a complex but fruitful thing to think about, and I'll get to that topic in a moment, but first: clothes.

Sheath dress (as tank top): secondhand Ann Taylor brand, $13 from thrift store
T-shirt: secondhand, gift from my mom
Skirt: secondhand D.P. Jeans brand, free from clothing swap
Heels: secondhand Nine West brand, $1 from yard sale
Earrings: secondhand vintage, hand-me-down from mom
Bracelet: local boutique, gift from my brother & his fiancee
Bag: Target, $25

The sheath dress remixing continues! I had a meeting on-campus with my boss today, and going to campus means dressing a certain way (more on that later). This dress is actually the perfect piece to accompany a discussion of modesty; it's a bit on the short side for my comfort and it's also sleeveless, so in order to make it modest, I have to employ some layering with each outfit. Layering-for-modesty is something I've been doing since, oh, age 14 or so. I added a comfy blue t-shirt underneath and a long skirt on top in this case. Voila - sufficiently modest.

Sheath Dress Remix #3:

See also:
Modesty is a very loaded word for me, ripe with both positive and negative feelings. This is why I haven't drawn special attention on the blog to my commitment to dress modestly; there are just so many connotations to consider. My thoughts on modest dressing have evolved through the years. It used to be a point of personal pride and even self-righteousness, as I saw my own clothing choices as superior to the choices of some other girls my age, the ones who wore tank tops and two-piece bathing suits. It’s also been something that represented religious commitment and respect for my body. My struggle hasn’t ever been to choose modest clothes; rather, it has been to develop a healthy perception of what modest clothes do and do not mean.

Before I go much further, I should probably clarify what qualifies as "modest" in my own measurement system of what I will and will not wear. This measurement system was highly influenced by my Mormon upbringing, but I certainly can't claim that my views are identical to all other Mormons' views on the subject. As I define it, modesty is characterized by:
- covered shoulders
- a neckline that doesn't show the curve of my breasts while standing (note: given my cup size, this one is easy)
- a mostly-covered back
- clothes that cover the belly and lower back while doing reasonable activity
- shorts/skirts/dresses that cover the majority of the thighs
- clothes that are not uncomfortably tight or sheer

As you can see, that list is full of subjective words - "mostly," "reasonable," majority," "uncomfortably" are all words that are up for individual interpretation. I get that modesty is subjective (I get that big time). I'll also say that this is all very situation-dependent; when I swim or exercise or have sexy-time with my husband, I wear things that don't conform to some/all of those rules, but I don't feel this is a violation of modesty; it's using clothes appropriately for their appropriate purposes. That's how I see it. Anyhow, these are the standards that I've held myself to since puberty, and they are simply automatic at this point. I don't hold anyone else in the entire world to my definition of what is and isn't modest.

Another dimension of Mormon modesty is that "endowed" members (ie Mormons who have made temple covenants) wear religiously-significant underclothing, which we commonly refer to as "garments." Endowed members are supposed to wear their garments pretty much all the time, and they're supposed to dress in a way that keeps the garments covered. Members can buy garments in various lengths, fabrics, and styles, so there's no single way to define what will and won't keep garments sufficiently covered; what all the garment styles have in common is that they cover the shoulders, chest, belly, back, pelvis, bum, and most of the thighs. 

I'm an endowed member of the church, so I wear these garments and keep them covered. This is a simpler way of defining what is and isn't modest, as it turns out, but the garments are meant to be symbolic of spiritual covenants, not to be used as a modesty measuring stick. As clothing styles develop through the decades, garment styles evolve to match. In the 1800s, garments were one-piece and went down to the wrists and ankles; nowadays, two-piece garments are available and cover less of the body (the women's styles look like an undershirt and a pair of long boyshort underwear). There's no real reason to expect that garment styles won't continue to change in coming years, which is fine since they're not about a universal, timeless standard of modesty; the garments symbolize covenants, whatever their length.

I was taught repeatedly while growing up in the Mormon church: Modesty is an outward symbol of an inward commitment. For me, that statement still holds true. I dress modestly because of my religious beliefs and because, to me, it represents a way to honor myself and my faith. Mormon doctrine teaches that our bodies are tremendous gifts and that we should act in a way that demonstrates reverence and gratitude for this gift; this means that the church discourages use of alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, tattoos, excessive piercings, and - yep - dressing immodestly. As a religious person, these justifications make perfect sense to me. My modesty is motivated by faith, simply put, and I'm cool with that.

So, if I view all of this so positively, why do I have ambivalent feelings about the subject of modesty? I think it goes back to the way I was taught about modesty, the way this principle was presented to me by friends, family, and church leaders. These lessons often came from a place of judgment, whether in terms of judging others by how they dressed or trying to avoid being judged myself. One particularly damaging idea was that I, as a young woman, needed to dress modestly in order to avoid tempting the young men with whom I associated. I was responsible to make sure I wasn't "putting bad thoughts in their heads," that I wasn't turning into "walking pornography." I was taught these things repeatedly, and I bought into them. 

There was this underlying idea - sometimes stated, sometimes not - that males were not spiritual/mature/righteous enough to keep themselves from objectifying females, so we ladies had to do the work for them. We had influence, and we had to use it righteously. It was strangely gratifying, as a fifteen-year-old kid, to feel like I had that kind of power in this world. I felt like my level of modesty had a huge bearing on the spiritual welfare of me and any male who saw me, and I felt this way because I was taught to feel this way. It was a huge amount of responsibility for a young girl, which I both resented and liked, and as it turns out, that sense of responsibility got me into the lifelong habit of dressing modestly, so I guess it was a "success" in that way. But the lessons I was taught about modesty continue to hurt me and confuse me in ways that damage my spiritual welfare, that thing I was trying to protect in the first place. How sadly fitting.

Let me just say that during my teenage years, the years when I was being taught all the right and wrong reasons for dressing modestly, I would occasionally have moments of clarity. I wasn't too popular with the fellas, and when I was feeling particularly annoyed with or disinterested in the gender as a whole (as teenage girls are, sometimes), I would think to myself, "I don't want to be modest for them. I want to be modest because it's what I want, it's what I like. I want to do this for me and for God - no one else."

(this picture has nothing to do with anything, but I really like it and it lightens the mood)

I work for a church-sponsored university that has a code of conduct for its students and employees; that code includes dress and grooming standards. There's a heavy emphasis on modesty. All students and employees must agree to live by this code if they want to attend class/be hired.

In September, the newspaper at my university published an opinion piece, a Letter-to-the-Editor type thing, from a student who was upset over the way female classmates were dressing. He didn't feel they were living up to the dress standards set forth in the code of conduct, specifically in terms of wearing skirts/shorts/dresses that were too short. You can read the student's letter here, but I have to tell you that I found it pretty infuriating, even as someone who is familiar with this particular academic climate and the religious culture that contributes to it, so consider that fair warning. I'll be excerpting the relevant portions here.

I was very upset by this letter and submitted a response opinion piece to the newspaper. They didn't publish it (blame it on my wordiness), but they published two or three other responses that expressed my same feelings very well. There were a number of things that bothered me in the initial letter; it reeked of voyeurism, for one thing, and the tone was incredibly holier-than-thou. Though I recognize the author's stated intent to reinforce the already agreed-upon dress standards of the university, it came across as an intent to reprimand immodest women and show them the ample error of their ways, because he knows sooooo much better. Barf. Very frustrating.

There are lots of things wrong with the published letter, but the pre-eminent one in my mind is the author's effort to equate a person's woman's level of modesty with her level of character. This is ultimately my fear when it comes to teaching modesty from a religious perspective. I quote:

"Sisters, have you lost your sense of dignity? Integrity?"
"Sadly, it seems that many of you don’t care what you signed ..."
"Girls on campus and in the Church are wearing shorter and shorter outfits. It’s appalling to me, and to many other guys, because it doesn’t say much of you and your character."

It is very, very bothersome to me that my religious community produces men and women who judge others' character based on the way they dress. If you don't understand why this pattern of judgment would be bothersome, I'm not sure I can explain it adequately, but I think I can summarize by saying that people are complex, and judging them by their adherence to one standard (a standard that they may not hold, by the way) is ineffective, unfair, and small.

I know that this outlook is not unique to Mormons or even religious people in general. It is not unique to the town, state, or country I live in. It is not unique to college students, old folks, males, females, Republicans, Democrats, or the upper-middle-class. This way of judging others is widespread, and that saddens me; it saddens me when I participate it in such judgment myself, which I most definitely do despite my efforts.

When all is said and done, modesty is important to me, as both a Mormon who wants to honor her faith and as a feminist who wants to combat the objectification of women. The difficult thing is that I can counteract both of those desires if I'm not careful. Modesty can become a point of pride and judgment, and that's not the way I want to live my faith; modesty can become a way to unfairly define and limit women, and that's not the way I want to live my feminism. This is an ongoing balancing act. I'm not always getting it right. But I am taking responsibility for my views, my actions, and my outward presentation of self. I claim that right and feel good about it. But don't worry: I'll try to be modest in my self-congratulation, too.

Treat Me Like a Paper Doll

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tunic: Tommy Hilfiger brand from Macy's, $16
Belt: vintage hand-me-down from mom
Jeans: Old Navy, $25
Boots: secondhand and made in Brazil, $8 from thrift store

These pictures are not the greatest. Blame it on a hectic day that was complicated by sudden lack of internet access.

Now, hold the phone! I'm not wearing the sheath dress that I've been remixing for the last two days (here and here). I'll still be able to implement it in five total outfits throughout the week, but today, I took a time-out to participate in Miss Vinyl Ahoy's Paper Doll Project, in which two volunteering bloggers are matched up to suggest each other's outfits for the day.

I worked with Lindsay from Tart Lemon Drop and told her that I wanted to wear these boots in the ensemble she came up with. Calling them my favorite shoes might be stretching it, but they definitely get the prize for Shoes I Feel Coolest While Wearing. Lindsay suggested that I add leggings/skinny jeans, a tunic, and a colorful belt. The afore-mentioned hectic day made me go for something really simple and unadventurous, just so I could make sure not to fuss about matching colors/lengths.

Lindsay asked me to focus my suggestions around a gray blazer (and you know I love me some blazers). Head over here and see what we came up with. And if you're hankering to see some more Paper Doll pairs, you can see Suze's entire list of matchups.

Cozy & Overcast

Monday, March 21, 2011

Denim jacket: secondhand Divided by H&M brand, $7 from thrift store
Sweater: secondhand Weathervane brand, free from a friend
Necklaces: both gifts from my mom
Sheath dress (as skirt): secondhand Ann Taylor brand, $13 from thrift store
Leggings: Target, $4-ish
Boots: secondhand and made in Brazil, $8 from thrift store
Headband: Wal-Mart, $4 for 6-pack

Isn't it the first or second day of spring (depending on who you ask and where you live)? Aren't "April Showers" a little ill-placed in March? I'm a little bummed about the general overcastness we're experiencing, but that's mostly because it kept me from seeing the super-moon on Saturday.

Gee whiz. Thanks a lot for wrecking my weekend, clouds.

The slightly brisk weather was helpful for making an outfit, however. As you may recall from yesterday's post, I'm doing a Weeklong Remix of this navy blue sheath dress, and since it's sleeveless and a little shorter than I usually like my dresses to be, layering will be key this week. On a warmer day, the leggings/boots/turtleneck mix would have been miserable, but it was just perfect in this case.

I'm so excited to see how many readers are interested in The Weeklong Remix! Thank you all for your supportive comments, and hey, if you have a style blog and want to join in the fun, you'll have lots of opportunities to join me in a Weeklong Remix of your own; I'm planning to spotlight a new item each week for the next few months, at least, and you can play along whenever your heart desires.
Sheath Dress Remix #2:

See also:
site design by designer blogs with floral elements by createthecut