All Business

Before we begin, a micro-plea . . .
Dear Directrice Readers: One of my 2017 resolutions is to increase the readership of this blog. Could you help me…today? Are you worried that I am about to ask for money? Be not afraid. If you’ve enjoyed this blog over the past two years, would you post a mention of it to your favorite social media outlet — Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Or post a comment on another one of your favorite style blogs encouraging readers to visit? Or, bring in one solid reader-friend. Thank you! Most affectionately yours, The Directrice

Like all of you, I check a number of news sources every day. I start with the hard news (the New York Times) and end with lighter entertainment (Go Fug Yourself) and hit about eight other sites in between, which include a few style blogs.

While news-gathering several weeks ago, I saw a striking outfit — a blue pinstripe blouse with gigantic balloon sleeves under a short-sleeved, grey boucle sweater with black trousers.
This memorable photo was a street-style picture, not an ad or op-ad post, so I couldn’t track down any of the individual pieces. I also can no longer find the photo. Here is the best that I could do: my own black sweater, my own grey trousers, and a blue blouse from ASOS. Not bad.
Fixating, in the healthy way
I was fixated on the outfit, but in a healthy way

This sprang from my fixated brain
This outfit sprang from my healthily fixated brain
I have also thought about wearing this blouse and pants with one of my DSquared2 double-knit tops — grey or black — but I am not sure if the blouse will fit smoothly underneath. Those double-knit tops are very snug.

This blouse was completely boxy when I bought it, so I presented it to Fatima and asked her to add some darts to it.
I may be completely delusional, but I think I could have done the work myself* if I weren’t so afraid of my new sewing machine. I say “new” machine, but I actually bought it in 2008 and have been tip-toeing around it ever since. I know exactly when I bought it because I was working on a sewing project and trying to understand the scary new machine while watching President Obama’s first inauguration on television. It was a very happy day.
Not bad, right?
Not bad, right?

What, exactly, have I wrought?
What, exactly, have I wrought?
This shade of blue is refreshing and (I think) flattering to many skin tones. It looks beautiful with black, grey, tan, and white.

What have I wrought? Let’s break it down.
We have a high Victorian collar.
High Victorian neckline is smocked and elasticized for comfort

We have an awesome brooch.
I bought this brooch at the Washington Craft Show in 2005 or 2006. The bulbs at the center are actual tiny lightbulbs.
Here, a pitch for independent artists who hand-make jewelry: We should support them!
Innerresting brooch
Here, a note about hand-made brooches: Sometimes, the closures are kind of unnerving; I don’t think the independent artist calculates odds the way that a hundred-million dollar corporation mass-producing jewelry does**

And we have the centerpiece of my vision: poofy sleeves.
These sleeves will probably be out — scorned and reviled — by AW 2017 and then I will feel so foolish. But for now, fun! Right? Just don’t buy the $800 version of this blouse, O.K.?
Poofy sleeves
Poofy sleeves!

Blouse: Style Mafia from ASOS; Sweater: JCrew; Pants: JCrew; Shoes: 8 from YOOX; Bag: Coach Gramercy Satchel; Brooch: Karen Gilbert (visit her website here and see many beautiful things)
* To be clear, I could not have sewn the darts well enough to wear the blouse without a sweater over it. I could have done a crappy job that would have achieved my chief purpose: to slim the blouse down so that I could wear a sweater or double-knit top over it.
** Don’t let an unnerving closure put you off, though. The independent artist is often willing and able to modify her design to make it a little more user-friendly and is interested in customer feedback.

23 thoughts on “All Business”

  1. Dear Directrice,

    I will endeavor to bring legions of new readers to your door. Your delirious wit and style make me so very happy. I’m all the more grateful as a couple of my other favorite style blogs are closing up shop.

    Off to rally the troops,

    • Thank you, Gisele! Are you a reader of Already Pretty? I read that she is significantly curtailing her blog — which is a loss, but totally understandable. I’m also sad about The Toast. Frankly, I am still mourning the loss of Domino and Metropolitan Home magazine; those periodic “special edition” glossies are just not the same . . .

  2. I found you originally via Corporette and have submitted a comment today reminding everyone of your delightful blog!

    What was the unnerving assembly of the previous closure? Use of a free-swinging “pin” that is wont to stab directly inward rather than sideways?

    • Thank you, Cat! I so appreciate it! Posting a comment on another blog is a great idea and I will add this suggestion to my plea.

      You know how the closure on a mass-manufactured brooch typically looks like a slender darning needle and doesn’t have much tension in it? This one had a zest for life — springing and bending. I remember that the artist modified it for my use — I don’t remember exactly what she did — and she was very gracious and helpful. I have also realized that it is easier to put a brooch on a jacket or dress before I put the garment on – as long as it doesn’t have to be pulled over my head. That’s much easier than dealing with my glasses and a mirror.

  3. Hi there! I appreciate your blog post. I know I can’t help right now, but wanted to let you know your words today where the ones I needed to hear to push me to finally start my blog. Right now I am a local costume designer for children’s historical costumes in my area. But I do love creating style for less. I also don’t believe I need to stop expressing my style because I’m 45…and I hope, that I don’t need to stop as I get older. Again, thanks for the ‘sign’ I needed to get started on my blog, something I’ve been digesting for a long time. Your style is darling. Eva

  4. You should probably set up your sewing machine this weekend and conquer being scared of it. Threading it is probably the worst thing… once that is mastered and the seam has correct tension, I have a feeling you will be joining the happy throngs of sewists! You have an uncannily sharp sense of design and awareness of clothing structure! Bless Fatima, but I think you’ll love the thrill of doing things yourself!

    I’m sharing your blog with my sister who is social worker and appears in court almost daily, and my daughter – recently hired into a medical office – they both need your decorum and modesty for conservative environments, but most importantly, they need your fantastic notions of pairing/cut/color!


  5. The look of this outfit with volume in blouse and close fit in the sweater has balance and good looks that must surely work for career-wear as well as casual. The pin is a great find for your collection, so interesting. Your sewing machine will be another great outlet for your fiber arts plus hobby fun for the day you have an extra hour or two. Enjoy! Kate

  6. Fear not, Directrice — I have broadcast your wares far and wide, to men and women who appreciate fine and witty writing (whether or not they understand layering, patterns, or quirky shoes)!

  7. Spreading the word!

    Love the poofy-sleeved blouse, and it turns out that Style Mafia offers a plethora of other crazy/fun poofy-sleeved blouses, too. But their sizing is even more crazy, in a far less fun way. They list a Large as size 4-6 or 6-8, depending on whether a particular garment “runs small” or “true to size.” I’m not sure what world they live in that a 6-8 is a true-to-size L, but it sure ain’t the real world. Grrrr….

    • These things are very hard to judge and I agree that it is frustrating, Ellie. The lack of size standardization is particularly baffling within a label. But I hope that you nonetheless are able to find a crazy/fun blouse while they are still in style. Perhaps I will be wrong and poofy sleeves will be the skinny jeans of the next 10 years — worn all the time by everyone until we don’t even notice their extremity any longer. . .

  8. Happy 2017

    Oh how I enjoy your blog – so inspirational. I’ve shared it w/ various friends and know they will also love it.

    – Monica (Phoenix-Arizona)

  9. That color blue is darling. Does it look that lovely in person, or do we have The Photographer’s magic to thank here? Not quite robin’s egg, it appears. Sky blue? Icy blue?

  10. I see Cat submitted a nice comment on Corporette today about your blog, and it was enthusiastically seconded by multiple people. I found you via Corporette too, about a year ago when I was getting tired of all the threadjacks there.

    • I went to look for it and was very thrilled. Such nice comments. So glad that you found your way here, too, Lynne! Thank you for spreading the word.

  11. I love ruffles and scalloped edges on women’s clothing. Oh so feminine! I am reminded of the episode on Seinfeld which featured the puffy ,very puffy, shirt. So not only do I like your outfit,but I giggled as I remembered that program. On the subject of sewing machines , I do not understand why you are having trouble with the new one when you did so well with your paternal grandmother’s ancient one. I expect it has to do with time.

  12. To grow your blog readership, I recommend you post kind and informative comments on other people’s blogs, and then sign your comments with your site name and URL. That’s the way I have found 100% of the blogs I subscribe to. Not through other people’s recommendations, but through the direct comments of blog owners whose words appealed to me.

  13. I will continue to scour the internets for a poofy-sleeved blouse. As a long-time advocate of Interesting Garments, whether they are in style is of minimal concern to me–in large part why I love your blog! You are a true Mistress of Interesting Garments.

    But I do feel a moral obligation to speak out about the ridiculous sizing practices of the high-end Interesting Garment makers, in hopes that someday enough people will speak out enough times in enough places to push at least some of them to change their harmful and exclusive ways.

  14. As The Photographer, I say “Thank you!” to everyone who posted about The Directrice on social media or referred it to friends. Tory’s traffic was DOUBLE the norm on Monday and Tuesday.

    She also loves and appreciates your comments on each entry. Your comments are what encourage her to keep going. Thank you for reading and chiming in.


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