Pockets!

by Erin on September 23, 2008


Laura Dern at 2008 Emmys

Mindi sent me this picture of Laura Dern at the Emmys — obviously, because it has pockets. I'm not a fan of purple (although it looks great on Ms. Dern!) and I admit to having an urge to yoink that bodice up a bit, but for pockets, all is forgiven.

(Do you think the woman in the background carrying a wrap in the same color and two clutch handbags is Ms. Dern's assistant? I do.)

And now, to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, I present the first bad mirror self-portrait of the week — taken, not in my hotel room, but in a fairly posh corporate bathroom.

Laura Dern at 2008 Emmys

This is this dress; I've been trying to wear it on days when I think good things will happen, and so far it's working. The sweater is from Lands' End. I'm pretty sure the light wasn't good enough in the bathroom, thus the fuzzy photo, but the flash reflected in the mirror, so … any self-portrait photography tips are appreciated. (I have a Canon PowerShot 1100 IS btw).

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy September 23, 2008 at 8:10 am

I love self shots! You look great. I am making my first shirtdress…will finish today! You inspired me…only took me 6 mos. to get around and make it…have a good day.

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Anonymous September 23, 2008 at 8:25 am

You look so cute! I’m not any better at taking self-shots. For self-modeling, I use a tripod and put the timer on 10 seconds, then run madly into place.

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Toiling Ant September 23, 2008 at 8:40 am

Turn off the flash.

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Sarah September 23, 2008 at 9:07 am

Ooh, I just got that same camera (after dropping and breaking my ancient PowerShot S410) and I love it! I don’t have any tips, though, since I’m just getting used to it myself.Erin, I remember when you made that dress. That post is so beautiful and touching. I just reread it and it made me tear up again.

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em September 23, 2008 at 9:12 am

Cute dress!Mirror self-portrait tip: Frame the shot, then stop looking at the camera’s veiwer and look up at the mirror instead. Also, experiment with holding the camera at your hip or somewhere it won’t obscure your face or garment you are trying to photograph.

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Latter-Day Flapper September 23, 2008 at 9:21 am

I didn’t watch the Emmys but I’ve seen the Best and Worst Dressed lists. They all looked pretty bad to me. I didn’t see Laura Dern on either but she looks a lot better than most of them (that dress isn’t my style, mind you, but it works on her).

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Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library September 23, 2008 at 9:43 am

Laura Dern looks REALLY tall in that pic, too. But yeah, I’d want to yank up that bodice too.Erin, I’m so glad that you have taken the idea of wearing that dress on days where you hope for good things to happen. That’s such an empowering viewpoint, considering it could’ve stayed in the back of the closet.And yeah, that post made me cry all over again too.

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enc September 23, 2008 at 9:56 am

Self shots can be tricky! I guess I’d say always go for as much light as you can get, and hold the camera as far away as you can possibly manage, so we can see your whole outfit. You look great!

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xstpenguin September 23, 2008 at 10:13 am

With all its memories, must be like wearing a hug! Nice to see it again.Night settings take longer to expose the picture, capturing more of the available light. BUT also more likely to suffer from camera shake. How about a gorilla-pod, I think that’s what they are called, super bendy grabby thing for cameras, and using the self timer.Either that or tip a waiter to take your picture!BTW I love posh bathrooms! Especially the ones with the supercomplicated taps/sinks.Is it just me or is Ms Dern’s assistant making a finger gesture?Cheers,AJ

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Miss Amelina September 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

I was blindsided by the link to your dress…and now I am am a weepy mess. And a poet, evidently. Very pretty.

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Chantelle September 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

I also remember when you made that dress and that post makes me tear up again… too, too many people are gone this year, including my own dad a month before yours.I am glad that a) you’re still wearing the dress because it’s gorgeous, and b) you’re wearing it on good days. We all deserve good days!

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theresa September 23, 2008 at 11:10 am

I remember that dress. I didn’t wear a dress I go t bad news in (a friend had committed suicide) for a year. Then I took it out and wore it on my birthday and it wasn’t a sad dress anymore.

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beth September 23, 2008 at 11:49 am

Self portrait tips: 1. If you are standing 10 feet from the mirror, don’t focus the camera on the mirror (the photo will be blurry). Focus it first on something 20 feet away. 2. Look in the mirror at the camera’s lens – NOT in your own eyes, and ABSOLUTELY NOT at the physical object in your hand. (Or, just look aloofly off to your side.)3. If you can’t get enough light to take a steady photo without the flash, find a place to set the camera down (in lieu of a tripod) and use the self-timer. This process takes more iterations to get right (you have to run back to the camera, see what you did wrong, adjust, try again…) but ultimately gets higher quality results than the mirror method.I’m happy to report that Target has two styles of WINTER dresses – thick fabric and lined, such that I almost thought they were coats at first. And they had POCKETS! Whoever designed them intends for women to wear them as an everyday dress throughout the colder months, and still have a place to put their keys! What practicality!

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Cel Petro September 23, 2008 at 12:01 pm

There are not enough self portraits in posh corp. bathrooms, and I love ‘em too, so thanks for remedying this. You look really fine in that dress–it would make me want to trust you with the English language, (which I do anyway).

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belphebe September 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I do like purple, so I love the color of Ms. Dern’s dress. And obviously I love that it has pockets. I don’t like the bodice, but I do admire her for being brave enough to wear that style.I echo the suggestions about using the timer for self-portraits, and a mini-tripod to set the camera on. You can even balance the camera on a pile of books or something if you don’t have a tripod.I do miss using my old 35mm camera at times. With that camera, I was able to hook up a shutter release cable so that I could get in position and then take the picture when I was ready, not when the timer was ready. I don’t think you can do that with a digital camera.

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Cookie September 23, 2008 at 12:24 pm

That’s a very graceful pose….you and the dress look great : )I think having a handler/assistant at a red carpet event is on the babyish side. Do these adults really need a sitter to walk them through a black tie evening? Maybe having one with you is seen as a status symbol.

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Amy B. September 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm

For self portraits in a mirror, don’t stand directly in front of the mirror. stand just slightly to the side so the camera is pointed at an angle and the flash will flash off at an angle (picture a cue ball bouncing around a pool table) instead of directly back at the camera. It might take a few shots to get the angle right, but that’s what digital is for, right? ;) I do agree that you need to look up as you take the picture and not at the camera. The dress is beautiful. It’s so good to have a good day dress. :) Mine is red.

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this vignette September 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Ever since Citizen Ruth, I have noticed that Laura Dern has a ridiculously long neck/chest area. It’s downright ill-proportioned which is why I think you want to pull it up. Her decolletage is longer than average!

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Valerie September 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm

That long necklace of hers is doing nothing to remedy the long neck/chest situation (neither is the dress). But the pockets are way cool and she does look very pretty.There should also be a setting on your camera for taking pics under florescent lighting. It will probably be under some manual setting called white balance. This should get rid of the green tinge. Often it’s a picture of a florescent light bulb with a number by it (at least with all the cameras I’ve had it is).

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Nadine September 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

If your camera has a setting called ‘P’, use it. (It’s the exposure-priority setting.) Don’t use the flash. OR, use the manual setting with the aperture as wide as it will go (a LOW number like 2, not 8) and set the shutter speed for 1/60 of a second. You could also set the 10-second timer and put the camera on the bathroom bench.Pose it up, my darling. Put that other hand on your hip, lift your chin, hold the camera away from your face/neckline (I like it over my head, but that’s quite a contortion!). Your feet look lovely – very elegant!

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cindy b September 23, 2008 at 9:11 pm

I’m glad you are wearing the dress again. I cried all over again reading the original post.Can’t help you on the camera stuff though.

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Anonymous September 23, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Re: the pockets in the purple dress… don’t they look too low to anyone? I thought Ms. Dern could hardly reach her hand into the one showing.Re: mirror shots, all good suggestions. I would add, my Canon (old now, an A85) has a portrait setting that works well when I have to use the mirror image approach.

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beth September 23, 2008 at 11:50 pm

belphebe: many digital cameras support an honest-to-god remote control. Sold separately, of course.

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Penny September 24, 2008 at 12:00 am

Erin, you portray such an elegance and I love this shot of you in your very special dress… Way to go!!

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wundermary September 24, 2008 at 1:19 am

Dang, LD looks great! I don’t care for the dress, the hair or the necklace. But, she and I are the same age and I am starting to look dumpy. I’d better get to the gym!The dress looks great! I can’t offer you any better photo tips than what you have already received.

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flurogoddess September 24, 2008 at 4:06 am

I’m going to have to read the link!I love the purple. I want the purple. I must make the purple… *dribble*

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Hana September 24, 2008 at 6:32 am

This is good news with the Emmy dress. Not that it would be my style, but at least now I know I can put pockets into formal gowns that are!When mirror shots are concerned, I can’t help much, the only thing I thought of was shooting it a bit from the side, so the glow from the flash isn’t in the middle of the picture. I usually take self-timer shots instead, though. Sometimes I need to take a lot of them before I’m satisfied, but it’s easier than always looking for a big enough mirror with enough room in front of it.

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Anonymous September 24, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Love the purple on LD but the dress looks slightly too big for her. Maybe pulling it up at the neckline would fix that.

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3KillerBs September 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm

IMO, the issue with the purple gown bodice is the lack of a proper, strapless, long-line BRA. Braless busts droop and all the plastic surgery in the world won’t prevent gravity from having its way. A good bra would pick her bosom, and her bodice, up several inches — making her figure look better proportioned and younger as well. She’s over 40 and ought to be old enough to have figured that out.Erin, your dress and cardigan combination are great. I can’t help with mirror pics, but isn’t there someone around whom you could ask to spare a moment and take a picture for your blog? Maybe its the small-townness of me or the fact that I live in the south, but I’ve always seen people more than willing to do the small favor of taking a picture as long as the camera isn’t something esoteric and complex. :)

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saidee September 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Well, I like LD’s purple dress: the 2-toned insets are a nice touch. Also, I think the bodice fits her very nicely and looks much better, for one so low, than most of the over-exposed lines of dresses at these sorts of events. Of course, I too love that it has a pocket! An assistant seems quite practical to me: LD needs to be seen and photographed because of the business she is in and the assistant is there to assist! BTW, LD is one of my favorite actors–she always does a bang-up job.I want to see a better photo of your dress, Erin; it looks lovely. Will link to read more in a second.

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saidee September 25, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Correction: the insets are not 2-toned, but a darker purple, which makes for a subtle, 2-toned gown. Writing…sigh.

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saidee September 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm

The next photo of this dress needs you in it (just checked the link, so sad and touching, still,of course)…after implementing the self-portrait suggestions.

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Anonymous October 8, 2008 at 8:31 am

I would like to add side pockets to a dress with a bias skirt and am looking for instructions and tips on how to cut this pocket. Pockets do not feature in the pattern that I have on hand.

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