Pockets pockets pockets.

So I have a few sewing projects on the go. Something fun/creepy, something for charity, and around a million clothing modifications. We did a big clothing clear-out, getting rid of things that I don’t wear or that don’t fit quite right now my hips and bust have expanded. I found a few clothes I wanted to give away… but just because of one tiny flaw. So I decided instead to hold a few back and modify them so that they suited me perfectly. And one of the mods I’m doing is: pockets.

We all know the struggle of not having functional pockets on dresses, skirts, etc. There are even online clothing stores which stock nothing but clothes with pockets. And some of my favourite clothes don’t have them.

Fair enough, I’m not sure I could pull off pockets on a bodycon dress. So that one will have to stay intact unless I get super creative. But my wrap dress, 3 A-line skirts, fitted denim skirt, and summer dress? They’ll be getting the pocket treatment. I’ll put up pics and tutorials as I go, and we can see how well it all works out.

What’s a modification you’ve made, or would love to make, to your clothes?

5 Strange Ways Dress Affects Your Life.

There are many things we know clothes can, and can’t, do for us. We know that how we dress can make us attractive, associate us with a particular subculture, denote status, show off our wealth, etc. But there are other, subtler ways that dress influences us and people around us. And some of them are a little weird, but well worth knowing.

1: Your clothes change your mood and temper.

Something I have noticed about clothes is that what you wear can change how you feel on a very basic level.

For example, when I’m depressed I feel far worse when I stay in my pyjamas than when I get dressed. Why? Probably because I associate being in pyjamas all day with being in the worst state of depression.

On the other hand, when I wear more girlish clothes like my favourite brown dress, I feel happier and more excitable because I naturally associate them with innocence, girl scouts and fun.

Your clothes can actually make you feel the way you normally feel when you wear them. If you hate your work for example, you’ll probably feel worse in the type of clothes you wear for work.

2: Your clothes alter your posture and walk.

We know about this to a degree. Heels will make a woman’s hips stick out, make her steps smaller and make her arch her back backwards. Corsets will make someone walk, sit and move without bending their back.

But clothes alter our movements more subtly. When we brush against the hem of a skirt we can subconsciously start moving to avoid that brushing, for example. Or when something squeezes our hips we walk with our knees closer together. This is why you can sometimes get thigh chafing wearing a loose denim skirt but not from walking in a swimming costume.

By wearing clothes that hug your mid back, drape over your hips, free up the groin area and don’t weigh down too much on the shoulders and back we can walk more naturally, more upright and with smaller, more precise movements.

3: Your clothes change how people treat you.

And not just on the obvious level. Of course strangers will treat you differently based on whether you’re dressed as a goth, as a man, in businesswear or as a woman. But it runs deeper than that.

People will treat you subtly differently when you change tiny aspects of your clothes. When your clothes are a little bit more disheveled than usual people treat you as less significant and your words as carrying less weight. When you wear too much jewellery people can treat you as someone scatterbrained or artsy. When you wear androgynous clothing people will treat you a little more like someone of the opposite gender and a little more coldly.

But this isn’t restricted to strangers either! Even people who know you well and know how you normally dress will slightly change the way they address you based on small changes in your clothes. Wearing more black or less put-together outfits can make your friends a bit more dismissive and coddling, basically treat you more like a child. Family can put more weight on what you say when you’re in professional clothes.

How much of this is how the media teaches us to treat people and how much of it is your change in mood? I don’t know, but it’s definitely there and it’s very odd.

4: Your clothes impact on your health.

Again, we are aware of this to a degree. We know high heels are bad for you and skinny jeans may cause cellulite.

But the effect your clothes have on your health goes further. When you feel better you are less likely to be stressed and less likely to suffer stress-related illness. If you’re not depressed you are less likely to act in a defeatist manner and sabotage your happiness. So clothes that make you feel good will lead to behaviour that improves your health.

And when you wear clothes that give you good posture as well then you can end up adopting behaviours and movements that are better for your body, meaning you don’t wear yourself down physically too much.

Wearing fitted clothes that you like, associate with good things and that push your back in and your shoulders flat can result in better diet, better choices, a more solid back and an all round healthier you!

5: Your clothes can change your demeanour and confidence levels.

Tying in to everything else: what you wear can drastically change the way you carry yourself, the confidence you have and your comfort in yourself.

If you are happier in yourself, not stressed or sad or angry about anything and wearing clothes that make you feel happy and excitable, then you will have a more pleasant attitude and enjoy interacting with people more.

If you have good posture you will look confident. But confident posture helps with internal confidence. Just as forcing a smile or a laugh releases endorphines, when you walk like you’re confident, your body decides that you must be the boss.

If people treat you as someone who’s got it all together, who’s got good things to say and who’s fun and awesome to be around, then you’re definitely going to feel that they’re right after a while.

And if you’re healthier you will be proud of your physique, that extra glow on your skin and your great hair.

So choose clothes that make you feel happy, that help your posture, that get people treating you right, that improve your health and boost your confidence. Who knows? Maybe a change of wardrobe is just what you need to get your life on track after all.*

*Disclaimer: A change of wardrobe is not a solution for every problem, however cool that would be.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What clothes make you feel great? Have you found that any items in particular make people take you seriously, or relax around you? Do tell!

What Difference Could Feminine Dress Make To Your Life?

Those who know me are well aware that I am not by nature a girly-girl or even anywhere near one. I like gutting animals, lifting weights and seeing my muscles grow, digging up the garden and watching fairly crude animes whilst drinking Gordon’s or Bailey’s.

I am also fortunate enough to be with a man who appreciates those aspects of me and even enjoys my tomboyish qualities. However, he also appreciates the feminine side to me, what with him being heterosexual and all. And one aspect of femininity that I don’t exactly mind and that he had appreciated in small doses was feminine dress.

So, to surprise him a little and see how it went, I applied some small changes to being more feminine. Nothing heavy. At least I didn’t feel like it was. Based on the differences I’ve observed, apparently it’s quite a lot!

Whilst it isn’t exactly the best approach, I tried starting with an idea of what I would and wouldn’t do. Not could and couldn’t. After all, I could do all my gardening in a sundress. It just happens I’m too messy and clumsy to not expose myself indecently whilst doing so and I love my dresses too much to get them muddy. So I could, but for those reasons I wouldn’t. I worked out I was willing to make small changes here and there, but not flip directly into 1950s housewife mode. In part to collect my data carefully, in part because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with full makeup, perma-heels, all dresses and jewellery. The concept of going from jeans or casual dresses to that was, well, scary.

However, with an outline established: try a little bit at a time and don’t go further if I’m not comfortable, but don’t avoid anything on principle either, I tackled my wardrobe first.

It wasn’t a massive overhaul. Most of the clothes I had suited me. I simply took some of my tattier t-shirts and relegated them to garden and gym clothes, donated anything that didn’t suit me in terms of colour and then replenished my wardrobe on the cheap. So now my wardrobe is almost entirely purples, greys, creams, blues, greens and denim, with two very orange pieces. It is also almost entirely in good shape, feminine and form-fitting, rather than baggy, masculine and tattered.

The next step was makeup. This was a little daunting because, other than when I’m teaching students from countries with different definitions of professionalism or when I’m going out, I didn’t really think makeup was worth the time. My hands are often a bit shaky and my experience was low, which probably added to the time factor. So, instead, I got a nice palette of shadows in water colours that suit me and some eyeliner, and red lipgloss and lipsticks. Just a dab of concealer, a dusting of eyeshadow, a line over and/or under the eye and a bit of colour into the lips. When I was feeling brave and/or steady I would curl and tint my eyelashes, because they’re quite straight and thin naturally. The key here wasn’t just to use a subtle touch of makeup, but to prioritize the sort of makeup that covered my most obvious flaws and drew attention to my nicest features.

Next, I chose to tackle jewellery and perfume. Two almost alien concepts to me. When Jon told me he was looking for an engagement ring I told him he may as well get a wedding one to cover both events, because diamonds are flashy and overpriced and two rings would be too much jewellery for me. I only ever went beyond deodorant when I was going out for the night. Any other time and there was no way I would wear jewellery or perfume. So I organized my jewellery drawer and dug out my old perfumes, as well as got a plain eau de toilette that suited my natural scent. I made a point of wearing at least one item of jewellery and a few sprays of perfume in my hair every day. And I try and mix up the jewellery rather than just get in the habit of wearing the same one over and over.

My thoughts.

At the start, my thoughts were that it wouldn’t make much difference. Jon would appreciate it, what with him being used to me in girly-tomboy mode. It would take me a little longer to get up and dressed and ready. But that would be it.

However I was quite wrong. Firstly, it really doesn’t take much longer. Get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, throw anything on VS get up, deodorize, brush hair and teeth, pick out a top and a bottom that look nice, spray perfume and add a single piece of jewellery. Picking the jewellery to go with the outfit was probably the most time consuming aspect.

I was also wrong in that I thought Jon would notice and the world would keep turning as usual. Maybe I was being arrogant about how attractive I naturally am or maybe I was being dismissive of the alterations made, but things are definitely different when you make the effort to be feminine.

General response.

The first thing that surprised me was that with women nothing changed. Stereotype dictates that when you do your hair differently or wear a little makeup, women and gay men rave over it and straight men blink, peer and ask if you are wearing a different coloured top. But nothing could be further from the truth. Straight men notice. Men who know you in person will at least pass comment on it. Depending on the guy it could be:

“Is that top new?”

“That colour suits you.”

“Hair’s different.”

“Did you forget to fall through a hedge this morning?”

But they do notice. And, in terms of men in general, you do get more second looks. It’s almost as though your comfier clothes and makeuplessness is a signal that you aren’t part of their social group, but that little bit of style and makeup changes everything. You go from visible but uninteresting to interesting.

The most noticeable change was actually in younger men that I have more professional dealings with. Students, cashiers I stop and chat to, volunteers at charity shops, etc. It seems that that touch of social proof hidden in the makeup, perfume and a necklace elevates your status a lot more in their eyes than in anyone else’s, possibly due to their inexperience dealing with women relative to anyone else. They seem distracted, speak more awkwardly and lose track of conversation more when talking to a woman who is a little bit more feminized.

But other women? No difference at all. I’m not sure if I should be surprised or unsurprised in hindsight. On one hand, it is common knowledge that women can spot a changed hairstyle, new scent or piece of jewellery from miles away. On the other hand, straight women are probably more focused on their own appearance and lives than what their friends and relatives are wearing. And the average woman on the streets has no idea I don’t always dress this way and no interest in finding out. Of course women are less likely to pay attention to a girl just because she has a bit of makeup on. They have more important things to think about.

Jon’s reaction.

Pretty much positive. Being around me most of the day, every day, he was very aware when I started wearing a little perfume, sorted out my wardrobe or put on a piece of jewellery.

But that he wasn’t “tricked” doesn’t mean he didn’t like it! Wearing lighter, danglier, shinier clothes catches the eye and he liked seeing a bit of movement or sparkle when I walked past or cuddled up to him. His hands would move to the jewellery or the hem of my shirt more often when I was dressed more feminine than when I wasn’t. That allure of slight extra femininity made him respond in a way that suggests he is more attracted to and protective of me when I am softened a little.

Warmth and approachability isn’t just for single girls!

Jon’s thoughts.

“I definitely noticed.”

He felt there wasn’t much more to add.

Conclusion.

So feminine dress does make a huge difference… to the men in your life.

It doesn’t really interfere with your getting up time that much. And if you can lay out your jewellery somewhere so you aren’t fiddling with boxes then it may be a lot faster.

It doesn’t really change your perception of yourself. I look in the mirror and think “well that’s girly”, but it doesn’t bother or excite me to know I’m girlier. It’s just a fact.

It doesn’t really have an effect on other women. Either they know you and might comment, or don’t know you and don’t know you’re dressed up.

But the guys? They notice. Some of it on a primal level, some of it on a conscious level. And they seem to enjoy it, or at least the guy you’re with enjoys it.

So it’s up to you to decide whether that bit of extra attention, slightly broader dating pool or additional flirting with your partner is worth the bit of effort.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Ways To Get Cheap And Cute Clothes.

Regardless of how we want to dress, we all want to dress nicely. And dressing nicely can easily become expensive. On the other hand, all my clothing, including shoes, suit clothes and a fur coat, cost me around £100, at my closest estimate. I recently overhauled some of my wardrobe thanks to Hearthie’s expert advice and got seven new tops and a pair of shoes for £7. And I feel pretty cute in all of it, to be honest.

And the truth is, cheap cute clothes didn’t stop when your older sister had her last growth spurt and have to give you that perfect, tags-new dress for free. There are still loads of ways of getting adorable clothes at low prices.

The first five are for the unadventurous, those with little time or those wary about germs and bacteria.

1: Charity Shops.

This is where I get most of my clothes. The reasons being that it’s quick and easy to nip in whilst you’re about town, you can browse a wide variety of clothes and usually try them on first, it’s going towards a good cause and they’re cheap.

Some people are concerned about hygiene, but, as someone who volunteers at one and has been round the back of many others: they have this thing called a “steamer”. It’s like a cross between an iron and a hoover which they use to clean and iron all clothes. The steam is so hot that light exposure could easily scar you. Anything obviously soiled or that smells when we steam it is thrown into the rag pile. So yes, they’re clean!

Example.

2: Vouchers.

An easy way to get brand new clothes at discount or even insanely cheap prices is to use vouchers. It’s up to you how far you go. You could go for 10% off, or work out which vouches you can use in conjunction and whether you can use them with any other discounts or during a sale.

There is also a surprising number of vouchers available online, so if you’re short of them, try searching for the store and “voucher” or “coupon” online. You’re bound to turn out some reasonable results.

Example.

3: eBay.

If you want brand new clothes and are short of vouchers or reasonably-priced stores, you can always turn to eBay for your every clothing need. With a simple search function, easy categories and clear pricing, you’re bound to find what you want, brand new, at the lowest price available.

Example.

4: Wholesale and Clearance.

You can do this in stores and warehouse sales, but it’s far more convenient to do it online. If you are happy to sell on any surplus, some stockists do sell-offs of orders that weren’t collected, oversupply or just small wholesale jobs for the odd customer.

The other option is clearance, either from a warehouse or a regular store. The clothes may be out of season, not selling or just the last in the batch, but you can find some amazingly good deals on trendy, seasonal and brand new clothes when you work out where to look for them.

Example.

5: Presents.

This one is fairly simple. Over the year or over the months leading up to your birthday or Christmas, compose a list of items you would rather not spend money on and drop hints or directly give it to your relatives when the celebration is getting near. That way anyone who wasn’t sure what to get you can contribute to your wardrobe. Another way is simply saying that when you get gifts, you love to get shoes, scarves or something trendy for the season and see what they surprise you with!

The next five ways of getting good clothes on the cheap are for the more adventurous and crafty. They may be messy, hard work or a little more questionable.

6: Swap Shops.

These are gaining popularity, but sometimes viewed with caution. Basically, you show up with clothes, get a sticker for every item you donate and then put the stickers on any item you see that you want. There is always the risk that there will be nothing you like, rarely will be dressing rooms and can become a mess. But, if you’re trying to completely change your wardrobe, it may be the best way!

Example.

You can also go for the online experience, which is cleaner and easier.

Example.

7: Volunteer.

I’d recommend volunteering at charity shops, clothes banks or rag merchants. Often anything that doesn’t sell is available to staff at discount rates. You can also buy assorted items sent for the rag heap at rag prices, which are usually a few pence a kilo, making a shirt only 20 or 50p. If anything is damaged you will have to bear that in mind, but often the only thing wrong is that nobody bought it on time, or someone put it into a rag bag rather than donate it to charity.

Example.

8: Updo.

Regardless of where you got them, you can also improve, mend or freshen old clothes to make them look better, turning something free or very cheap into something you would have paid good money for.

You can take plain t-shirts and add some sparkle to them, turn trousers into shorts or skirts, mend holes and tears and basically turning something drab or broken into something wearable.

Example:

Stripy fabric cut into a skull-shaped patch, tartan fabric, beads, silver thread and cross stitch. Shorts from cutoff jeans and tartan fabric.

Plain top decorated with stripy fabric cut into a skull-shaped patch, tartan fabric, beads, silver thread and cross stitch.
Shorts from cutoff jeans and tartan fabric.

9: Freebies.

This one is where most people will draw the line. Basically because, unlike charity shop items, new clothes or hand-me-downs, you don’t really know if something free is clean, hygienic or in good condition.

Generally, if you can check it first you will see any serious problems and if you wash it when home it’s fine. Try finding things on freebie websites and learn when, where and from whom to buy. Just as you’d be happy with a pillow from a neighbour, but not one left outside a university dorm, there are places and people to accept freebies from.

Example.

10: D.I.Y.

And the final option is to just make whatever you want. There are thousands of awesome patterns and tutorials out there, teaching you how to do everything from crochet to making a ballgown. So hone your crafty skills, because you’ll soon get bitten by the crafty bug and not know when to stop!

Examples:

So those are the top ten ways of getting the clothes you want at the price you want. Beauty was never so affordable!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is your top thrifty shop? Where do you go when you want something cheap and cute? All hints, tips and ideas welcome. 🙂

10 Small Steps To Looking More Feminine.

Many of us want to become a little more feminine. Not necessarily porcelain doll, but we’d like to at least look and feel like women and embody the virtues that make us happy and that men enjoy.

But in terms of appearance, being feminine can seem hard, especially to the slightly more tomboyish of us. It can sometimes feel like our more image-conscious sisters use ten thousand different tricks, products and styles to achieve a graceful, feminine appearance. And sometimes the things we think of as over the top are considered basic by others and what to us is complicated is simple to them. So, for the absolute beginners like I was until recently, here are my ten first steps to obtaining a more feminine appearance.

1: Hygiene.

Make sure to use conditioner and a shampoo that suits your hair. Wear some perfume or body scent. Use some moisturizer. Basically, go from basic soap, shampoo and deodorant, to something to make your hair shinier, something to make your body smell softer and something to make your skin smoother. These tiny additions hardly take any time at all and make a world of difference.

2: Makeup and hair.

The next layer is basic makeup and hair styling. Just enough concealer, foundation, lips and eyes to add some extra feminine softness. And aim for a long haircut that is easy to maintain and frames your face well. Long hair is more feminine and the right fringe can soften and feminize your face.

Commenter SurferCajun added that boar bristle hairbrushes could also help keep your hair healthy, vibrant, lustrous and long!

3: Frills and flares.

Just because you may not be ready to wear skirts and dresses daily doesn’t mean you can’t use their attributes. Frilly, flared clothing always looks somewhat feminine, feels great on the skin and grabs your man’s attention, so adding something with frills and flares, be it a skirt or just a top, will make your wardrobe more feminine.

4: Nice shoes.

Not everyone likes girly shoes. And not everyone wants to wear heels daily. But just because you don’t want to wear tall sparkly heels every day doesn’t mean you have to be, as Jon puts it “Frumplestiltskin”. Try and swap your everyday doc martens and trainers for something a little girlier, like ankle boots, or ballet flats.

5: Jewelery.

Don’t try and overdo it or overload yourself yet. Get a few select pieces of jewellery or dig out your old jewellery. Make a point of wearing one item of jewellery (on top of wedding or engagement rings) a day. This way you can keep it more inkeeping with your outfit, but add that touch of sparkle that catches your guy’s eye.

6: Handbags.

As I discussed two weeks ago, I have been transitioning off backpacks and onto handbags. Whilst I sometimes use a backpack just for the sheer size of it, moving mostly onto handbags adds some feminine glamour too your everyday appearance.

7: Colour coordination.

Try and keep your outfit held together. Ideally find out what your colours are and then your wardrobe will always match. But if you have something in every colour, avoid combinations that remind you of abstract art or shabby-chic. These looks are very hard to pull off and don’t always look feminine even when they are pulled off. Stick to classic colour combos, like blue and white or green and purple.

8: Posture.

Good posture adds grace and femininity to every woman. Walk with small steps, with your back straight, your neck straight and your head facing forwards or even a little upwards. Sit by touching your calves to the seat of the chair, sitting down upright and folding one ankle behind the other. Don’t slouch, stoop or bend over.

9: Manners.

All this wouldn’t be complete without manners. Manners are very much a regional thing, but aim to have the manners of a local fifty year old, not an all-American twelve year old. Remember to be considerate, grateful and giving.

10: Smile.

Finally, smile. Have a pleasant demeanour about you. Appear open and friendly, not cold and unapproachable. Try and deeply enjoy your new femininity, to let that joy radiate from your smile.

And those are my ten very simple tricks to being a little bit more feminine. They take virtually no time, hardly any effort and most don’t even cost you anything. All could be accomplished in a day and mastered in a week, if you set your mind to it. Though I’d personally recommend focusing on one a week and seeing how you go!

Have anything to add or comment on? Looking forward to reading your anecdotes, tips and thoughts!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… freshen up.

So we’ve looked at our handbag contents and the basics we want to have to freshen ourselves up a little. But freshening up properly is also an art. Immaculate makeup makes messy or dirty hair stand out. Or smeared makeup can ruin a look completely. So what shall we keep on us to make sure we’re properly freshened up? And how do we go through the steps?

1: Your kit.

Depending on how long you’re out, you’ll want more or less. You can keep all of these on you at all times, but it isn’t necessary to go beyond the essential. For 0-3h: lips, eyes, comb, baby wipes, hair spray. For 3-7h add: makeup bag, hairbrush, aftershave, deodorant, nail kit, mouthwash. For 7h+ add: razor, tweezers, dry shampoo, baby oil, chewy toothbrush. For busy, sweaty or intense jobs, regardless of hours: lips, eyes, dry shampoo, hairbands, baby wipes, aftershave, deodorant.

2: 0-3h. Polish up.

If you’ve been running around a lot, been working for a few hours or just not quite feeling the love, this is what you’re going to do.

Wipe your armpits, neck and chest.

Touch up your lips, eyeliner and concealer.

Fix your hair.

3: 3-7h. Fixing up.

You’ve been on your feet a lot, maybe spilt coffee on your trousers, had to run from one office to another, had lunch or a snack and had an itch on your face that smeared your makeup a little. This process sounds like a lot, but is very quick and leaves you looking 9am-fresh.

Wipe your face down first, then your armpits, neck, chest and crotch. Then, pat armpits and inner thighs with a baby wipe moistened with aftershave, to kill any bacterial overload.

Make sure your nails are clean and not damaged.

Wash your mouth out.

Reapply your makeup.

Reapply deodorant and fix your hair.

4: 7h+. Sorting out.

So the work day is over or almost over and you haven’t had a chance to fix up, maybe not even to polish up! And to boot, there isn’t much time to tidy up, let alone to have a shower. You want to feel better, look nice for when you’re home or going on a date or meeting some more important clients and you have your freshening kit on the ready.

First of all, start chewing on your chewy toothbrush.

Now wipe down your face, armpits, neck, chest, crotch, hands and feet.

Pat every fold and crevice with an aftershave moistened baby wipe.

Use baby oil on dry feet and hands.

Check and fix up your nails.

Brush your hair and apply dry shampoo.

Reapply your makeup.

Reapply deodorant.

Brush out the dry shampoo.

Spit out the toothbrush and rinse your mouth.

5: Job specific.

If your job is very messy, sweaty or active, then here are some hints to help keep you fresh.

-First of all, if you’re not already doing it: dress for your job. Heavy makeup for a primary school teacher not only looks odd to parents, but will be ruined within hours. Think practical.

-Wipe down sweat every morning, use the aftershave trick and once it’s dry, apply 48h deodorant. This cleans you from night sweat, kills bacteria and locks in future sweat and smell.

-Keep spare hairbands, nail polish and a small sewing kit on hand. If you’re likely to break something once a week, keep spares just in case.

-Keep some good quality, skin-safe fabric cleaner at work. You never know when coffee, permanent marker, ketchup or oil may strike!

And that is how to freshen up.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How do you freshen up? What is your job like? Do you have any helpful hints to share, or any tricks you’ve picked up over the years? Would love to hear them!