Thursday, January 22, 2015

Playing With Skirt Lengths

Two days of first-thing-in-the-morning sewing and it's going great. Frankly, there aren't a lot of distractions at 5:45 in the morning and that helps. As long as I leave the computer off and don't walk over there, all is good.

Good is not how I would describe my experience at Fabricland yesterday. They're currently having a buy one, get one free sale. The sign says buy one full meter or unit and get one full meter or unit for free. One is a unit of measurement. So is a half. One is a unit. A half is a unit. A unit does not mean a package.

I asked for 1 1/2 meters and 1 1/2 meters free and had the manager and the assistant manager jump all over me about how that is not what the sign said. Actually, yes it is. By the time I left the store, I felt like dirt. I bought one full meter and got one for free and they lost $8.00 of additional revenue and gained negative exposure. That is not good math by an unit of measurement..As I drove home, I wished I'd simply put down the fabric and walked out because right now, it has ugly experience written all over it and I don't even want to sew it... no matter how lovely the drape... and the colouring.

In my opinion, the manager had a fabulous opportunity to practice - and model - good public relations, especially with a regular customer who likes to sew as much as I do. She could have said that wasn't the intent of the sign and allowed my purchase anyway and I would have gone away happy - as opposed to annoyed and feeling unappreciated and undervalued - and I wouldn't be writing about my negative experience on my blog! She especially could have told her assistant manger to be quiet because one of them speaking to me in a condescending tone from the front and the other trying to talk louder from the back felt like ganging up on the customer. This is not a good thing.

I'd love to say I'll never shop there again but it's the only game in town so that won't work but I can say I'll definitely be cutting way back. It'll take an emergency notion to get me in there next. Right now, I'd rather stock up when I'm out of town and - as you know - I'm out of town frequently. I see a lot of fabric in a lot of stores and I've had some pretty amazing customer service elsewhere. The bottom line is - I'd drive further and pay more for good customer service. The customer is not the enemy; she pays your wages.

SO... rant over...

... yesterday, I sewed for my hour in the morning and then put on my exercise clothes and went for a walk. It was just before dawn so the sky was still dim and brightened as I went. By the time I got home, the sun was up meaning I couldn't hide my bed head in the dark plus I met people along the path. I didn't quite expect that, nor the light, so I'll need to look half decent before I go out but otherwise, I prefer that order because I can get dressed for the day and then go journal and not have to come home and change. Since Miss Chloe came to live with us, I've noticed myself casual-ing down my wardrobe so I can walk the dog without changing. I like dressing up. I hate changing. Walking before getting dressed up is a good solution. I'll test that for the next few days.





I spent my morning hour shortening the dress to a skirt. I cut it off at the waist, removed the lining, closed the zipper opening, turned under 3/4's of an inch, stitched 1/2" from the folded edge, and inserted 3/8" elastic. It's simple and it stays up. And then...





... I experimented with pinning up the skirt in different formations.The two above were the least ugly. They're okay but nothing special so I decided to let altering the shape simmer while I...





... contemplate some other options like a slim fitting knit top, tucked in - and isn't that a shocker - with some kind of asymmetrical, jewelry-like, belt OR...



 


... a wrap top. Knit or woven. Perhaps in a denim if I can find a denim that goes with the mottled blue of the knit lace. Both a knit top or using denim could help it more of a casually elegant outfit. At the same time...



 


... I'm playing with skirt lengths. I tend to like my skirts either just above the knees or just above the ankles. I think there may be another "sweet spot" just below the knees that I should explore. One of my favourite lengths is...



 


... this dress of Marcy's that I wore yesterday. I like the way the skirt is pulled in by the band and the length ends just above the knee. I also think that dresses are perhaps more figure friendly on me than skirts and that if I'm going to wear a skirt, there should be a low level of contrast between the top and the bottom to avoid creating  horizontal lines across my hips - and perhaps a curved hemline to soften.





The picture above has a shorter-than-I-usually-wear top length. The t-shirt could be far more interesting than  the basic black one above but I think the length works. What do you think? I'd appreciate your in-put.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two days of sewing. YES YES

Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.
- Lauren Hutton

35 comments:

  1. I like the length of the top in the last picture. I really like the shorter lengths on you. I know it's hard to pin up a full skirt, but it might be worth a try to see what it looks like. And an aside, the round glasses in the red plaid skirt photo are great - they open up your face. I'm a long time reader - and round glasses wearer myself.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. I came home to a LOT of comments and there seems to be a consensus for shorter skirts which is interesting. I'll have to explore them and tights more. Those rounder glasses used to be my regular ones and then became my reading ones and I'm long past that prescription BUT... when I was in Ashland in the fall, I had a wonderful optometrist who supplies glasses for most of the movies made in North America fit me to new frames. When I go back in June, I'll take my new prescription and get the lenses put in and I think I'll get at least one more pair. He said the same thing - opens your face.

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  2. I too like shorter lengths on you. I think the top could either be quite short, or quite long -- the 2/3, 1/3 rule often helps. Regarding Fabricland, don't get me started -- so many of their stores have terrible managers who hire awful (ignorant and rude) staff and treat them poorly. I try hard to only interact with those few staff who are reasonable, and to cultivate their friendship -- I pity them having to spend their days with the others. Recently I heard a customer ask a salesclerk for knit fabric for men's t-shirts, and the clerk said they didn't have anything except what was in the reduced bins. I pointed out to both of them that the cotton interlock was located on the back wall in multiple colours, which the customer proceeded to purchase. The clerk did not acknowledge me. Argh.

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    1. Quite long tops always make me feel frumpy so I'll explore shorter. Thanks. I have my favourite staff at Fabricland and - like you, I've helped a LOT of customers find what they wanted and at better prices. I've sold a lot of memberships when the assistant didn't bother to explain the benefits. .

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  3. Hi
    I used to work at one of those places. The way the tills operate it is really hard to get the thing to cooperate with the issue you mention. Believe it or not, it likely seemed simpler to all of them to argue with you than to argue with that awful till..... holding head in hands.
    Not an excuse, but there is your explanation.

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    1. I wonder if when you worked if there was a different till. I actually worked in this store years back when it moved locations and I think they got a newer till at that time. Having worked there may have factored into the manager's condescending familiarity HOWEVER... from running the till I know of two or three ways she could have put it through effectively so it's more a lack of willingness. I loved it when we also had Fanny's Fabric Store. Competition is good.

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  4. I think you should try ending your skirts just below the knee. That is my sweet spot and your legs are shaped the same as mine. Have you ever read Amy Herzog's book, Fit to Flatter? It is about choosing lengths and lines to flatter different body shapes. She is a knitter but the ideas apply to all clothing.

    Kristin from Oklahoma

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    1. I agree that I need to explore that just below the knee length. I'll do some pinning and playing. And I'll check into that book. Thanks.

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  5. I like the length of the black tshirt; you could even play with it about an inch longer. In skirt lengths just below or a couple of inches above the knee are generally good looks. Loved this article: http://jcauncmom.blogspot.fr/2009/09/part-i-how-to-decide-your-ideal-skirt.html
    As for the new fabric, absolve it of the store's sins in a nice soothing pre-wash. People are evil sometimes, but fabric just wants to be loved. And on the subject of dogwalking, in France there's often pressure to dress up just to take out the trash, so I know what you mean about wanting to be comfortable and practical without drawing negative attention. My solution is to wear dark comfy basics (black yoga-style pants or jeans are my go-to's) for such outings, with a bright hat and scarf to focus attention. Match them to Miss Chloe's accoutrements if you wish. With your knitting and sewing skills I'm sure you can whip up just the thing. :-)

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    1. Love this answer...absolve the fabric. Love it! It's not the fabric's fault, the poor stuff just got tainted inadvertently. You are quite right...wash the sins off, and let it glow again.

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    2. I know it's important to hem the skirt at a point where the line of the leg narrows as opposed to widens which is why I know the two I've used frequently but I do want to find at least one more - just below the knee - flattering length. I think that variety helps a wardrobe not look samesy. Thanks for the link. I quickly looked at it and see it's two part so I'll go back and read it in a bit. LOL - I think I need to come to France just to get a feel for dressing over there. We hear so much about Parisienne women that sounds so nicely done and simplified. The walking in the morning thing is going great so far - day two - and I wore black yoga pants just as you said and was debating knitting a hat. Too fun. Miss Chloe is in purple this year. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I matched although she prefers more bling.

      LOL - I will absolve the fabric. Give it a wash. A little time in the stash. And all will be fine. It's a lovely piece.

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  6. So sorry about your bad experience at your fabric store (we don't have Fabric Land in Texas). I strongly suggest you write the company headquarters with a copy to the store manager including a copy of this blog. It may or may not make a difference but you will feel better. I always contact the store manager when I've had very good or very bad service and it makes me feel good or, at least, calmer. On skirt lenghts I like the middle of the knee on you and most figures. Karen

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    1. It would do no good to write head office. The attitude is an embedded culture throughout the whole chain clear cross the country. Get anyone going on the topic and it quickly comes out how neither the employees or the customers feel valued and we're frustrated by the lack of competition because we can't take our money elsewhere... which I for one would love to do. I call it a culture of cheap, take their money and run, forget service. IMHO they need a make-it-right-over. I would guess it would take a major shift at the top.

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  7. I like the shorter top with this skirt but I think I might like the skirt better with less fullness. Glad to see you back in the sewing room!

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    1. I wondered about less fullness. The dress was originally lined and when I removed the lining that made a tremendous difference but I agree with you. I don't think I look good in a lot of fabric. I'll ponder that possibility too along with completely making the fabric into something else. It feels good to be sewing regularly again. More energizing.

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  8. Marilyn Cieremans in OntarioJanuary 22, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    I like the shorter skirts on you. Enjoy your blog everyday but no longer sew outfits for myself.
    I have been wondering how Miss Chloe got along with the little one. I think that you are really enjoy having her
    and she is such a cute dog.
    The little hurricane is so cute....enjoy that twinkle in his eye whenever you can and for me I would rather that he be a little hurricane
    and curious than a baby who is very quiet.

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    1. Thanks for reading my blog even though you're not sewing clothing anymore. I hope you are doing something creative for yourself. Miss Chloe got along fairly good with my grandson. At first she didn't seem to know who was in charge because my son-in-law/daughter treated her like they always did and were giving a few "orders" but in the end she only had a few "help me" moments and overall it went well. I think she picked me which is probably good since they didn't want to take her back home with them. I guess she is now permanent. The little hurricane is absolutely adorable and I agree with you about curious versus quiet.

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  9. The fabric store's sign might have added, "Be sure and check with a manager before you assume this sign means what it says."

    After honoring the meaning of their sign (if not their intention) they should have learned to be more careful with the wording in their ads. A bad experience can linger for years. Many years ago I ordered one yard of a cute fabric but received 35 inches. How annoyed I was and never bought from that company again. Pre-computer days, I didn't notify them of the error but the experience lingers.

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    1. They are trying to save money on the signage by making it uniform no matter what product it's sitting above but that doesn't work too well. YES... a bad experience can linger. Before I worked in construction, I had a major run-in with a company over the carpet in my house that didn't stand up to their warranty. They didn't honor it. Later, when I spent fifteen years in the industry building and renovating houses, I never shopped there, still haven't, never will, and don't recommend them. I have a similar story around some kitchen cabinets. It's important to make the customer happy in some way.

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  10. I definitely like the shorter length top. Have you ever looked into the Golden Ratio, as it applies to clothing? I'd love to see your take on that. Although it roughly equates to the 1/3 vs 2/3 thing.

    I think you're on to something with a low contrast top and bottom, to mimic the effect of a dress. That's a trick I've just recently tumbled to. Another reason that low contrast works for us is that we don't have a lot of contrast between our hair and skin, thus we don't look good in outfits with a lot of contrast either. It causes a dissonance visually.

    Another thing to consider with skirt length are your shoes. If you had pumps without the strap, thus showing more foot skin, it would make your legs look longer, and affect the visual impact of the skirt. I think a different shoe with the same length skirt would do wonders for the skirt.

    My legs are similar in shape to yours and I find that I look best in a 2" - 2.5" heel, with no strap. Sling backs work well. I look terrible in flats. There's something about as much skin as possible showing that seems to do wonders for my shape. I swear that a different shoe can take 10 lbs off! Pointy toes do wonders also, or at least an almond shape.

    Funny how the shoe can make such a difference in how the skirt looks. Maybe it's something to do with the style. I think your shoe style doesn't jive with the skirt style, and is causes a dissonance. I find my eye going to your shoes, instead of your pretty face, or your cool outfit.

    The outfit doesn't have anything unexpected...it's a typical skirt and top...no unusual seaming, colors, styling, embellishments, shape, nothing fun. In light of that, you need something fun in the shoes. Or something fun in your jewelry and keep the shoes blending into the outfit, which they don't do right now. For some reason the strap screams, "Look at me!" Which is probably not what you're after. :-)

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    1. I have looked at the Golden Ratio but it wouldn't hurt to look at it again. I pulled out Looking Good as well to review it. That said, I think we learn a tremendous amount by simply pinning and tucking and taking pictures. My digital camera is one of my best studio tools AND... feedback. Hearing everyone's impressions is really helpful. LOL - I'll pay more attention to my shoes. I love heels so that's not an issue although I do like flats too. I'll have to try on all my shoes and take pictures and see - VBG - maybe a foot posting.

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  11. I think your "short skirt w/dark stockings" looks are adorable! But I like a long skirt, esp if I plan to twirl around. As for dog walking looks, I confess that I wear my pajamas to walk the dogs in winter time. I put on my rain jacket which covers just past the hips, and my boots which cover up to my calf, so the revelation of pjs's is from my calf over my knees and a bit above. And really anyone could see my pink pajama pants and think they were leggings. This is my fantasy, at least. In summer I put on more regular appearing clothes for dog walks. PS I really like the looks of the second asymmetrical pinned up skirt - the shape really works for you I think.

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    1. The short skirt/dark stockings does work but I couldn't always wear exactly the same length which is why I'd like to have at least three. Each length has its place. I really like wearing skirts/dresses so I'm appreciating this information. I'll play with it. Part of it's emotional. I feel like I have to be "more polite" in shorter skirts.I admire your ability to walk the dogs in your pajamas. Of course your dogs are so cute they'd attract attention all by themselves. Yoga pants seems to be the closest I can get to that and it works... but perhaps not in summer. Then I'd need something less clinging. It's too much information. .

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  12. As far as top and bottom lengths. Peggy Sagers advocates set proportions. It is in relation to your "dressed length" from shoulder to knee. She went into what works in a couple of her free videos, but right now I don't remember which ones. I think one of them very recently. She also explains it in her book.

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    1. I remember seeing one of those videos. I'll check back for it plus I have a couple books I want to review and just pinning things and exploring and taking lots of photos works well. I had a hard time reading her book. It needed a good editor and since I'm a good editor I had the urge to pull out a red pen.

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    2. Is it this one? http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/html/media/livestreamchannel/replay_10_29_2012.htm This is called Design Elements and goes into proportion.

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    3. Thanks Carol. I'm going to watch that now while I have lunch.

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  13. Skirts look better with a shorter top (if it's not tucked in) while pants look fine with longer tops. Proportion is such a tricky thing! A lot of how we think about it is connected to current fashion trends and what we expect to see. A moving target! You look very good in skirts that are at your knee, Myrna. And I like the new long one pinned up asymmetrically. But that's just me. ;) I personally prefer dresses to skirts myself because I find them more comfortable as well as more flattering since I don't have much of a waist to speak of.

    We have a Fabricland but I never shop there anymore. I once bought some novelty wrinkled cotton fabric that caught on everything the first time I wore the garment and pulled horribly. I complained to the manager and got "Too bad. Hope you got it on sale!" in response. Bleh. Whatever happened to customer service?

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    1. Dresses give me that long continuous line that helps with all the curves. That's what made me want to explore monochromatic looks. I like to think I'm not influence by current trends but of course you can't help but be BUT... at least I can modify them to what works better for me.

      After such a strong consensus, I will explore shorter skirts a bit more and my current assignment with coaching is asymmetrical a so that is going to get some more work too.

      I've gotten bad fabrics at Fabricland where the design washed off or it went all wonky but I've also bought a lot of really good ones especially REALLY good ones marked down in the bargain center... which is why I know I won't be able to stay away forever... plus those emergency notions. My snit will have an ending of some kind but I do think I'll be shopping there a LOT less. I really didn't like the way I was spoken too and if you treat a good customer that way... I just wish they weren't our only option.

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    2. Really enjoy your blog. I also questioned the buy one, get one free policy at my Fabricland here in London, Ontario. The manager told me that there were so many quilters buying 1/4 meter (and then getting the same free) of multiple fabrics, that they had to change the policy to full meters. She has always been excellent to deal with so I have no reason to question the truthfulness of her explanation. It would definitely be a nightmare to deal with at the cutting table and the cash. That said, your managerial staff sound like they need a customer service course (and soon)!! I think your choice of dresses over separates is a good one as it creates one long line. Happy sewing. Cheryl

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    3. I'm glad you got good customer service. It makes all the difference how something is said and an explanation is a lovely bonus.

      I'm going to explore dresses and monochromatic top/skirt and top/pant looks more. SO FUN.

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  14. You've received some really helpful comments. I especially liked what Mel said about contrast and coloring which helped me see the possibility of why colors I used to look great in, no longer work for me.

    The shorter skirts look best on you without a doubt. While wearing a longer skirt can be more "fun", we have to weigh that with (no pun intended), does wearing it add weight? Tim Gunn once said something like the following to a women about our age who was wearing a mid-calf dress and getting a makeover with his help, "You ought to wear shorter skirts. It's less frumpy looking and more flattering." To prove his point, he had her put on a dress that fell just above the knees and the difference was amazing. I personally have not worn a skirt or dress below my knees since. I've made some flirty short skirts and so can you. :)

    For your asymmetrical work, consider a skirt that's shorter in the front, and a little longer in the back, maybe 5" difference. Add a flounce or whatever you like. Also, I wanted to add, on the first skirt made from a dress, it's way too full. I think if you cut it apart and made a shorter fit and flare skirt, you'd love it.

    I really learn from your experiences and the input of your readers. Even though my figure is completely different, there are similarities in the concepts. One more thought, in the Sew Expo catalog on p. 14, there is a class called "Sew Skinny" by Nancy Nix-Rice with a picture that is helpful. The class looks good too. I know she's someone you've mentioned in your blog before. No matter our size, we all want to look slimmer than we are.

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    1. I did - I'm so thankful for all the in-put. Low contrast is something I've always been drawn to except black and white. I seem to be able to do that one but rarely white top of black pants. Usually a print.

      I was a bit surprised by all the feedback on the shorter skirts. Some new learning for me. I remembering reading your skirt should never be shorter than it is wide. That stuck with me but of course that doesn't mean to the ground. I'll try the short and flirty AND some pretty tights because my legs have their very own surface design.

      The high-low look just hasn't resonated with me. I should go to the store and try some on but there's not click happening. I have a few other flirty patterns that I really like though. McCall's 5523 for the back is a favourite. I'm debating cutting apart and slimming down or completely overhauling the lace skirt. That's for echoing the "too full" info. Sometimes it's hard to see past what you used to do.

      I'm signed up for the class with Nancy. I think it's going to be interesting and I know that sometimes it's the subtlest of things that makes a HUGE difference - LOL - like straps on our shoes. I'm looking forward to hearing her speak. I've been a fan of her book for ages and have it out ready to re-read.

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    2. Great to hear the feedback from everyone is helpful! Also, great to hear you're taking Nancy's class. I'm really sad that I cannot go to Expo this year due to a prior family commitment out of town. Please share with us your experiences including this class so those of us who can't go can live vicariously through you. :)

      I like the side by side pictures you've been posting lately.

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    3. It's been really helpful - especially in getting the emotional distance to see myself more realistically. I'm looking forward to Nancy's class. Too bad you won't be there. I'll definitely share.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.