Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rut-Ditching; or, Pattern Mixing


Earlier draft:
I wore this skirt and belt together when carrying my favorite bag.

black cami (Kohl's)
zebra print tank (Express via sister's closet)
green cropped cardigan (Express via sister's closet)
black and white print pencil skirt (NY&Co)
faux patent black belt (NY&Co)
black leather wedges (Lauren by RL)
nail color (OPI Can You Tapas This?)

Anne-Marie's recent hair metamorphosis got me thinking.  Cut bangs, dye it a different color, and post pictures online for the world to evaluate?  I could never.  Sympathetic types might say "Liz just knows what she likes."  Less sympathetic types might say "Liz has trouble dealing with change," and downright  blunt types might say "Liz gets stuck in a rut."  All of them would be correct, I think.  Teaching high school helped me learn to prepare, prepare, anticipate, and prepare.  Teaching high school should have taught me that things don't always go according to plan.  However, I either didn't adequately learn that lesson while I was teaching, or I forgot it in the two years I spent as an Master's student.  This has been problematic lately, because this semester has been a constant reminder that I can't make things happen just by planning them.

Thankfully, the semester's not over yet, and there's still time to salvage my attitude toward it.  I might not be bold enough to make a change as significant as AM made with her hair, but her willingness to try out a new look made me think to myself: what is one thing I could do tomorrow to take me outside my comfort zone?  to remind myself of the benefits of sometimes pro-actively stepping outside the rut?  I decided on pattern mixing... with animal print.  I know this is kind of cheating, since the pattern on the skirt is very neutral, and combining two black and white pieces is not exactly experimental.  To my non-pattern wearing self, though, it felt like there was a LOT going on here.  All day long, I felt a slight unease, like "Oh, boy, yes, I am still wearing this crazy patterned outfit."  (Though I wore the cardigan all day, I took the second photo in an attempt to prove that this outfit IS kind of crazy.  The photo doesn't lie, though-- it was mostly in my head.)  I thought that uneasy feeling was good.  I still felt like me, but a more adventurous me, maybe.

So when I was confronted with more news this very day that suggested my plans had kind of backfired, I should have looked down at myself and thought: "It's okay.  I'm channeling Anne-Marie, who knows how to manage uncertainty much, much better than I do."  I didn't.  I got mad at myself for yet again insisting on trying so hard to plan ahead.  I hope that one day I'll actually learn the lesson.  Maybe the clothes can help.  If not the clothes, maybe the literature.  After all, I know what Robert Burns and John Steinbeck have to say about the best laid plans.  If not the literature, maybe the style blogging.  Because if Anne-Marie's post about her hair wasn't enough to convince me I should live a little more "in the moment," Sara's post on OiB today about being "mindful of where [she is] right now" should help.

  • How do you respond when your foresight proves to be in vain?  
  • What do you do to help get yourself out of a rut?  
  • Do you have any pattern mixing suggestions?


Kat said...

Hi Liz, I stop by frequently but don't often comment. I just love this look! For me, the zebra stripe shirt with anything would feel more than a little bold, but somehow it all really works together here. The green cardi you wore ties it all together and gives it a cool-but-different flavor. Wearing a red or other bright color would have given it an entirely different connotation.

And I struggle all the time with balancing effective planning ahead with mindfulness in the face of the reality that in my tightly packed schedule, odds are something every day is going to require flexibility.

Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous said...

I adore this combination. The cohesive color palate makes the pattern mixing quite sophisticated looking, and the rich emerald color is a wonderful anchor.

And the way I look at foresight? I'd rather have planned ahead and prepared, and then find out I got it wrong, than not have done anything. As long as you tried, you can't regret not trying, and that's my biggest worry. In fashion and in life.

Plummy said...

I am also *extremely* prone to getting myself stuck in a rut. I started to touch on this topic recently in my blog. I'm trying to figure out the line between being stuck in a rut, and being consistent in my style. I think the key might be being bored or falling back on what is comfortable out of habit. What do you think?

Usually what I do when I feel myself stuck is to frantically flail out in desperation, read a ton of blogs for inspiration, and then go shopping at a thrift shop (or two!). It's not the neatest solution, but it's what I do. However, what usually ends up happening is that I either buy something that I just won't wear (in my efforts to break myself out of my style funk), or I buy the exact same type of things I am already wearing.

I am hoping that by being more deliberate in my wardrobe I can begin to define my style with more precision. This will hopefully allow me to avoid these problems...maybe? We will see. I think that at the very least, my Four Ways to Wear features should help me avoid buying items that I will not wear (they've been pretty helpful to this end, actually). I have noticed that my day-to-day outfits are becoming rather homogeneous though, and I'm worried that I am edging closer to the edge of the rut.

Nikki said...

As a silent reader of this blog, I just had to leave a comment this morning -- Liz, this look is fantastic! It is classic and elegant, at the same time as looking ultra-modern, interesting, and vibrant! A great combination. For me, it's the green cardi which makes the outfit. Black and white paired with colour pops of red or blue can look a bit trampy, but the green looks so fresh, but also very seasonal.

In terms of pattern-mixing, I find that my home style tends to be a mad mash-up of whatever I can find nearby, and thus tends to be accidentally mixed! But getting the combination right for a work or school outfit is very difficult. Your outfit, though, shows how to do it well.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this look, especially with the green cardigan. I love the mix of animal print with the tweed-esque skirt, and that great green just adds a wonderful, colorful finish to the pairing. Even though this look may have been outside of your comfort zone, you look fantastic.

And thank you so much for the shout-out! I'm glad my words were meaningful to you!

Plummy said...

I changed my comment setting to allow comments from people who are not logged in--hopefully that will do it! :)

Scholar Style Guide said...

Looking bold! And I think you're right: you still look like you! Go you!

(For what it's worth, I would *totally* wear this.) :)


Scholar Style Guide said...

I'm glad you all like the green sweater! I feel a little sad that the photos don't do this outfit justice-- they're clearly taken after a lonnnng day, and in poor lighting, but I'm glad the general idea of the look still translated. When my sister first wore this sweater in my presence a few weeks ago, I thought "Now wait a minute! Why have you been holding this out on me?" : )

Nobody pointed out that I actually *planned ahead* to be spontaneous (I had to get the stuff out of my sister's closet, after all). Were you all just letting me slide on that one, or what? : )

Like IA Katie, being adequately prepared is an important goal in my life. I sleep well at night because I know I gave everything my best shot, so I don't beat myself up if things don't go my way. The problem for me is that I get so frustrated when things *don't* go according to plan. So the flexibility that Kat mentions is what I'm trying to work on developing.


Anonymous said...

This is AWESOME!!!I love the green and the zebra and the pattern mixing. I have similar pieces and I might try something like this.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Love everything, as I think I noted after my double take at this outfit IRL. I need something emerald in my life, and your sister's cardigan has reinvigorated my search.

I, too, think I'm in a rut, though writing for this blog has definitely opened me up to trying new things sartorially. I'll deal with that a little later, though, after the end of term.

I usually like to have a plan in hand and get my ducks in a row before doing something, but I also try to be (and enjoy being!) flexible in the moment to switch an outfit or a plan if something else strikes me. If a larger frame is in place for something, I feel better about improvising or being spontaneous within an already established frame or plan, if that makes sense.


The YGirl said...

I just started reading you blog and I love this outfit. I've been wanting to mix patterns but can't seem to find the right way. Thank you for the inspiration!

Iris said...

I love the pattern mixing! It's so fun :)

Plummy said...

I just wanted to let you guys know that I linked to this post on this week's Linkspiration over at Developing Style!

Linda W said...

I really like the pattern mixing you have in this. And the green just adds the right touch of color!
The Auspicious Life