Exercising my fashion muscles: Robert 2.0!

12 days of hometown bliss, followed by a week of extended family reunion, sparkles galore, and the crowning of Allison Cook, the new Miss Oregon 2013 has me in a hazy and happy state of mind. Alas, out of pageant  Narnia and into the real world I have come. While hoping to be met with the warm-fuzzy feeling of being home, I was instead met with a hot-sweltering feeling of our 95 degree temps this week. *gasps for air* Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to get outta there! And what better way to do that then some sangria at lunch followed by a closet overhaul and styling session?!

Meet Robert:

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This eligible bachelor completed his 35th year in orbit last January, and now works as a Client Manager for Wold Consulting, a tech-based AMC. A friend of many, this karaoke rockstar loves to spend his free time enjoying nature, CrossFit-ing, and of course enjoying good conversation around town at one of the many scrumptious restaurants Portland has to offer. Robert has taken a hold of his lifestyle in the past 12 months and with that comes time to bring in some new fresh energy into his wardrobe. He is looking great and once I’m done with him, will be shaming Austin Powers with his spike in mojo. 

First thing: closet overhaul. 

dun dun dunnnnnnnnn!!!!!!

To get started, we headed straight for Rob’s house to see what we could keep and what would be good bonfire material. And forget bonfire– we’re going to have  a forest fire!!!!!!

Haha just kidding, Rob. It wasn’t so bad, but there was some intervention. To give you a brief recap, here are the things we pitched:

– shirts with decals, excessive embroidery, and arguably tasteless decorative patches

– clothing items that were too big. A nice problem to have for someone who is getting into shape!

– stretched out or worn-looking garments

– things that weren’t getting worn such as a sport coat with big ol’ shoulder patches and gifted items that didn’t reflect his personality

– “repaired” jeans (a.k.a. the inner handyman in Rob patched holes in the rear of well-loved pants)

And in his words, anything that screamed “douche caboose”.

Check out this massive stack of no-no’s! It’s like they’ve seen the light and are about to cross over into the great Buffalo Exchange in the sky……

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We did keep some things, and got a good idea of what the next steps were. 

Things we kept:

– business professional attire. Rob already has a good handle on what is appropriate for work, but we did find a couple items that will require some tailoring. 

– a couple long-sleeved casual shirts that stood out as a great style guideline for what suited Rob’s personal life- casual, comfortable, and still contemporary.

– jeans that didn’t need repairing and one light blue-grey pair made the cut, even though it had minor repairs

– a t-shirt that says “More Cowbell” with a picture of a cowbell. 1) because I’m not totally evil and 2) because Rob has a great Christopher Walken impression and an indefinite amount of Halloween parties in his future. 

Some of the things we found just needed tweaking in the way they were being worn. For example, a long sleeved button-up went from stuffy to relaxed when we left an additional button unbuttoned at the top and rolled up the sleeves. A unique linen sport coat was too thin to be worn with a traditional button-up, but looked noticeably fly with just a grey v-neck t-shirt underneath.

Shoes were the next thing we took a look at before we took off into the burbs for some treasure hunting. One of the first things I notice about a person is the way they complete themselves with shoes. What we keep on our feet is, more often than not, a direct reflection of our lifestyle. It is no surprise that Rob is a practical guy, so what I found was pretty basic. The black pair, the brown pair, the casual tennis shoe, and a couple randoms that were utility related. These are fine, but for someone who is looking to do better, there was room for improvement. Two brands dominated this footwear collection: Converse and Clark’s. By anyone’s standards, these are both brands that boast well-made shoes, but in the pursuit of refinement, fall short of what will take a man’s presence to the next level. 

Here’s what I mean.

Exhibit A-  the Clark’s:

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A little worn and a erring on the clunky side, these shoes fit the bill of an Average Joe, but were quickly put to shame as we found some awesome, albeit dusty, boots buried in the depths of the closet.

Exhibit B- the upgrade:

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Obviously on the left is the clunky Clark’s shoe, and on the right we have the hidden treasure. They are similar in shine and both have the capacity to be worn with jeans. Rob is ready to graduate from the school of thought that just any black shoe will do. Don’t get me wrong, something as practical and well-made as the Clark’s shoe isn’t bad. It is, however, not the best option in menswear for seeking a polished look.  

After we ransacked  through years of accumulated garments, we had a pretty good game plan.

1. Find some casual looks that reflected Rob’s personality and tastes and fit him properly.

2. Upgrade footwear to reflect a mature and evolved sense of style.

3.  Stay realistic with budget. Fortunately there is much less turnover in fashion for men than women, so we were likely to have some luck with quality brands even if we shopped the department discount stores. 

One of the perks of cleaning out old clothes is often finding hidden money in pockets, and fortunately we found a little extra spending cash to take with us on our adventure….

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Our first stop was Saks off Fifth! Located in the Bridgeport shopping development, Saks off Fifth offers discounted items from the high-end department retailer Saks Fifth Avenue. We rummaged through racks and racks of clothing, but weren’t as overwhelmed with choices as we had hoped. It would have been really easy to dress Rob up like a fashionisto, but my task wasn’t to dress a mannequin, it was to dress a personality. Rob’s only request was color, and with some luck we found a great orange and blue plaid button-up. It wasn’t too loud, the cotton was soft, and it definitely had an underlying “Portland” feel. 

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Shirts that met our criteria were scarce, so I pushed the envelope a bit in our hunt for color and found some deep green denim pants. A reluctant Rob took them to the dressing room, and came out striking model poses. Needless to say, I felt pretty good about that one. 🙂

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These two made the cut, and new threads in hand, we called it a “win” and moved on to the next stop!

Following Saks off Fifth,  we went to Nordstrom Rack in Beaverton. Another discounted department retailer, the Rack is one of God’s gifts to humankind, so we were quite hopeful for more success.

This experience was a little more hunt-and-peck, but there was much luck to be had. Rob took a mountain of clothing into the dressing room with the focuses being black jeans, more casual shirts, and with my encouragement, some colored, cargo-pocket-less shorts. The hunt had become more intense at this point, and I was getting a little more ruthless. I did spare him, however, from the chick repellant  that is cheetah printed menswear. 

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Umpteen pairs of jeans, countless ill-fitting button-ups, and a smattering of unflattering t-shirts later, my head was nearly falling off from shaking “no”. The Mount Everest of fabric had provided little inspiration, and patience was dwindling. With what good fortune was left in the day, we came across two must-haves. I’m not a huge fan of short-sleeved button ups for men, but we found one that might have changed my mind about them, for now. A dark grey denim with a faint sheen, it is definitely a sharp looking shirt for drinks with friends. In addition, we found a pair of solid blue cargo-pocket-less shorts that not only were a great deal, but they also added some color, and will look great with the shirt from Saks off Fifth. 

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The biggest accomplishment from Nordy’s Rack came in a pair. That’s right, we even found some shoes that are a serious upgrade! Slim, versatile, and even a little rugged, these are practical in more ways than one. 

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Not bad, eh? 

On that note, we called it a day. We were a little exhausted, but feeling fantastic with 1 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve, 1 pair of green pants, 1 pair of blue shorts, and 1 pair of shoes!!! Not only was he able to add five new boosts to his post-purge closet, he was able to get a variety of garment styles that are cohesive with his personality and lifestyle

As I wandered around these stores and shook my head incessantly, thoughts seemed to come loose and I pondered again my philosophy on fashion. It has become increasingly evident to me in the past few years how crucial visual presentation can be in wholly communicating oneself to others. In other words, I don’t think anyone would look at a man in a three piece suit and say “wow, I bet he paints bird feeders and lives in a nudist colony.” If he did, then the life inside his mind truly wouldn’t reflect the way he communicated himself visually. This is, of course, extreme, but generally people want to be understood. It may be the case that people get derailed somewhere and lose fluency in visual language as it evolves the way verbal language does. Nobody says “all that and a bag of chips” for the same reasons people don’t wear Birkenstocks and Hansen tees with as much frequency as in the 90’s. Shopping with Robert felt less like a scene out of Clueless and more like a visual communication tutoring session. If you met him now, at first glance you would be able to tell he was a practical guy that also has personality. He is relaxed, but active. He is mature, but not old. He is rational, and not lazy. There is an endless combination of fabrics, cuts, and colors that could tell you exactly those things about Robert, which makes things a headache for some but a fun game for me! 

I had a ball exercising my fashion muscles and helping Rob feel good about what he’s got goin’ on! I think he is pretty stoked too..unless of course he is lying…. and hates everything… and then I’ll just scream and kick and break into his house and replace every piece of clothing with these!!!

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MUAHAHAHAHAha….hahah….haha…

Wait… wouldn’t that actually be awesome?

😉

Anyways, HUGE thank you to Robert for letting me play “What Not to Wear” and agreeing to let me put it in my blog 🙂 AND a GIGANTOR thank you  to my faithful readers who have been bugging me to get back to writing– your kind words have me more motivated than ever!!!! 

xo

 

 

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DorkyChick Diaries: Heartland Hiatus and Happy New Year

Gosh where is my brain?! Technically it is in Waukee, Iowa sitting at the dining room table of my childhood home. I had so many plans to blog up a storm and to use my break from school obligations for productivity in my creative endeavors. I was going sew and blog and create and do this and that and as soon as I hit touchdown in seat 9A last Thursday my plans dissolved. The hot, sweet summer air has seeped into my lungs and I’m enjoying a kind of serenity that cannot be experienced anywhere other than one’s beloved, familiar hometown.

I’m not sewing. I’m not writing. I’m not pretending like I’m motivated to. I was anxious at first about the absence of my motivation, but have suppressed the ants in my pants with much laughter, a few cocktails, and an overabundance of delicious food. It’s a silent celebration for myself. A year ago about this time I sat here looking at this same tree in my front yard with no idea what the next year would look like, coming off such a strange and beautiful year-long Miss Oregon experience. It was pre-reentry into real life, and I was ready for it. I was hopeful that the year to come would be one where I could realize what it meant to be this “new” real-world Caroline vs. Caroline the Miss Oregon. There was no way of knowing, really. In my time under the crown I’d at times been a 35 year old business woman, ambassador, spokesperson, princess, celebrity, a joke/spectacle, an inspiration, a winner, and a loser. I’d tasted the sweetness of victory, experienced loneliness, extended the list of those I call family, was humbled by unrivaled compassion, and discovered within myself a sort of serenity that can only be experienced from maturation. So with these things in mind, I was ready to graduate the accelerated course of life lessons, and move forward in discovering what it meant to know myself after all of this was put away.

Fast forward a year and I’m sitting looking at the same tree from the same window. Likely, I am drinking the same Panera coffee and wearing the same flip flops, however, this time I know the answers to the questions of how my year would go. I have yet to get my “big break”, I didn’t win the MegaMillions Jackpot, and I’m even still a year shy of my college degree, but I am sure that my year went just as I had hoped. I found a group of incredible people to spend time with who not only are great people, but they also love karaoke (bonus), got a job that has taught me so much and has given me a great escape from college life, had some great times exploring my outdoorsy side in the Gorge, found myself immersed in challenging coursework at Portland State that has made me feel like a smarter human, fell in love and enjoyed an unforgettable companionship, grew in friendship with my Miss Oregon sisterhood, dyed my hair fire engine red with no regrets, and, perhaps most importantly, I rediscovered my passion for creativity in both fashion and writing. I would do some things differently, of course, if I were to relive it, but I’m at peace. It wasn’t an easy or mindless year, but it was overwhelmingly positive, and at times magical.

I feel like it is the beginning of a new year. A year from now I hope to write in this same chair for this same blog regarding the answers to my inarticulable questions of what the next twelve months will bring. I’m going to do everything in my little red headed power to live it well.

I’ve got a little more vacation time to soak up before I’m back to my pursuits, and I think I’m best served to prioritize enjoyment over self-obligation. Iowa is not only a wonderful place to grow corn and beans, but it is also a fertile garden bed for dreams.  The endearing idiosyncrasies of Midwestern culture, the feeling of warm,soft grass underneath my feet, and the echoing of unfabricated laughter are the rain, sun, and soil that nurture the fancies of my heart, which I planted in that garden bed many moons ago.

Happy summer, my dear readers. Thank you for peering into my mind, as I love to share. Cheers to sun, simplicity, stupidity, and serenity. And cheers to cheers-ing. I’ll raise a glass to that.

xo

July 1, DorkyChickinLipstick will be full steam seam ahead 🙂 Readers, what would you like to see more of? Trrrrendddayy outfits? Designer highlights? Sewing project updates?  Fashion illustrations? Puns and pop culture references?!?! I know you want it. e-mail me:  dorkychickinlipstick@gmail.com