It's That Time Again …

Time to do a charity donation drive! 


This year’s charity is Women for Women International. Why give to a women-focused charity? I strongly recommend you check out that link — but here’s the short version, from their web site:

  • [Women] bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty (They represent 70 percent of the world’s poor)
  • Their ability to have a decent life is limited (they perform 66 percent of the world’s work and produce 50 percent of the food but they only earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property)
  • Investment in women is inadequate (recent data shows that only 3.6% of overseas development assistance was earmarked for gender equality (UNIFEM). And for every dollar of development assistance, two cents goes to girls (Girl Effect).
  •  During and after conflict, women are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation (About 70% of casualties in recent conflicts are women and children (UNIFEM) and the forms of violence they experience include torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution and mutilation (UN)

Women for Women does great work in trying to change all of the above.

And to encourage you to give if you can, here’s the deal: the first 15 people to donate this year will get a galley copy of The Secret Lives of Dresses. (Just email me [erin at dressaday dot com] your receipt and your mailing address).

If we reach $1200 in donations by December 25, I will write a new “secret lives” story, that will include the top-two vote-getters below:
Sound good? Let’s go!


Forgive the multiple oooooooo's and the exclamation point, but really, these deserve it:

Picture 2


They're the Corso Como Rhonda (available from Amazon and anywhere boots are sold; I bought mine gently pre-loved — and significantly cheaper than list — on eBay). And I loooooves them. (There's those oooo's again!)

I didn't realize when I moved to the Bay Area last year how much I would need flat black boots. You see, when it's pretty much 50 degrees all winter long, it's too cold for bare legs, but slightly too warm for tights. This only leaves knee socks (which I do love, but are occasionally a bit juvenile) and boots. Flat, black boots that go with everything. (If you're asking "why don't you just wear pants," this must be your first time here at A Dress A Day. Archives are on the right. Take your time, we'll wait.)

Flat black boots. Sounds simple, right? You can't open a web browser without tripping over a boot sale, this time of year. But the flaw in my boot-seeking plan is that I have big calves. Big, muscular, yeah-I-used-to-play-college-soccer calves. Calves that, at 16" around, are EXACTLY ONE INCH bigger than most boots' top circumference.

But these beautiful soft, classic boots have TWO elastic insets in the back. It looks like a cute design fillip, but the two inserts mean that these boots Just Fit, without me having to take them to the Magical Boot-stretching Man. (Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the Magical Boot-stretching Man, but the hassle of "will it stretch?" means that I'm usually limited to buying boots on super-super-sale, so in case they don't stretch I won't have wasted too much time and money.)

So, thank you, Corso Como, for doubling up on elastic. Two thumbs up! (And thank you, also, for not draping these boots in pointless metal hardware and wacky straps.)

(Btw, if you have the opposite problem — teeny ectomorphic jackstraw calves — check out the last letter here at Tomato Nation's Vine for your options. Because, sadly, there's no Magical Boot-shrinking Man.)

A Resounding "Meh"

So at first I was thrilled to hear that Liberty and Apple were collaborating on a line of Liberty-print laptop cases and bags: two of my favorite things, together! My current laptop sleeve is nicely utilitarian, but is the world's most boring taupe-y gray. (I think it's the color androids paint their living rooms.)

And then I actually clicked through, to see: 

Picture 1

Meh, right? I mean, there are literally dozens of Liberty fabric designs currently available, and they picked one that shouts "Grandma's Nightgown"? They also do a leather Ianthe, but Ianthe is the Liberty version of Death By Chocolate—sure, it's nice and all, but it's not SURPRISING.

I mean, even Strawberry Thief would be cooler than this pattern (Edenham). C'mon: Apple, Liberty, I know you can do better than this. WWSJD?

First Review!

The first review of The Secret Lives of Dresses has shown up in my feed reader … from Sarah at the blog Domestic Sluttery:

As the author of A Dress A Day, Erin McKean conjures up the most beautiful descriptions of clothes, including a cherry pie print blouse that sent me straight to eBay. In Mimi's shop, Dora discovers that each item comes with a story, and these were absolutely beautiful. The dress that is only for dancing, the dress that is for a very particular meeting…

Although certain elements of the plot were a little predictable for me, The Secret Lives of Dresses is a heart-warming and lovely book that would make a great Christmas present for any vintage lover.

Thanks Sarah! Of course, the book isn't out until February, but I assume they still have book tokens in the UK, right? (I used to love reading about book tokens in children's books. And speaking of children's books, the cover image at that post is for the UK edition — doesn't it look very Noel Streatfeild? I am so lucky in my book covers …)

Today's Pattern Huh? (and Sale): Simplicity 4672

And double-huh on the postures ...

Caption: Somewhere, deep in the land of WTF accessories, these women have lost their way. See how the blonde in the back is yodeling for help, while her sisters are oblivious to their fate?

Believe it or not, the hat and muff pattern come with this dress. Because someone, somewhere, looked at this perfectly nice dress and thought, "What this needs is FUR! Fur cuffs! A fur hat! A fur muff!" And since everyone else just wanted to go to lunch, or even just get back to their real work, they all nodded and filed out of the conference room in a collective shrug of "what can you do?"

A fur hat, sure: leaving the ethics of fur aside (let's pretend it's fake fur), it's kinda kicky, kinda Moscovite. And it's up there on your head where it can't do any damage. But: fur cuffs? I've never seen a garment where fur cuffs didn't turn into disgusting unwashable dust and germ magnets. It's like wearing Swiffers at the end of your arms. 

And muffs! Muffs are the anti-pocket. Let's see: why don't we take your perfectly functional hands, and shackle them in front of you in a hot sweaty upholstered tube you can't put down? Brilliant! What do you do with a muff when you (just for example) want to shake hands? Blow your nose? Unlock a door? Unless it's lined with nickels so you can use it as a cosh, I can't see the point. And even then, the "beautiful girl pulls a teeny-tiny gun from a muff" schtick is so cliche I bet just carrying a muff gets you extra screening at the TSA checkpoints.

However: the dress itself is lovely, and Sandra is having a 20% off fall sale, through Wednesday. Just mention “dressadaySale” in the checkout (and yes, you can combine the sale with Sandra's shipping discounts)!



Well, baby, you can turn me on


I love this dress from Holly at Lucite Box. This falls into the "It's so obvious, it must be ironic!" category — don't you think?

I can see it worn that way — ironic Brooklyn hipster style — with a long fuzzy sweater and flats, or (heaven forfend) those slouchy elf boots that have inexplicably returned from the dead. Or you could rock it straight-up with classic stiletto heels and big hoop earrings.

To modernize it, you'd have to wear those (also largely inexplicable) open-toe wedge-heel booties that I see everywhere and a Balmain shoulder (unless the Balmain shoulder is already out? I can't keep track).

If this is your size, I'd jump on it — it's a great holiday-party dress and it's only $85! 

Today's Pattern Story (and Sale): Simplicity 2263


Blue: This flu season has been terrible. I've been having to keep handkerchiefs in every pocket. 

Brown: I see that. But you should really wear a hat — bare heads always lead to colds.

Blue: I didn't have a handkerchief earlier … I had to improvise. With my hat.

Brown: Suddenly, I'm not feeling so well either. 

Sheila at Out of the Ashes is having another camping sale, now through Monday — 15% off the patterns at her store, with the coupon code CAMPING. Have at it!

Mad, Plaid, and Dangerous to Know

Lands End Canvas plaid dress

I am verrry tempted by this Lands' End Canvas plaid shirtdress. I've been looking for plaid fabric to make some shirtdresses, but I haven't seen anything I like that isn't an authentic tartan (at a kajillion dollars a yard). This dress is only $80 (and there are many, many LE promo codes for $15 or $20 off purchases of $75 or more).

Lands' End Canvas is LE's new younger line — basically, it's J.Crew-like styles, with LE-type sizing. (Win-win, in other words.) I've bought a cardigan sweater and a short-sleeved sweatshirt from LEC, and been happy with both — okay, I'm only happy with the sweatshirt on a philosophical level, because there's never been a short-sleeved sweatshirt in the history of of either sleeves or sweatshirts that's been flattering on anyone over an A-cup (can you say 'blocky fleece torso"?), but I'm wearing it now and it's very comfy on a rainy California day in front of the computer. 

Back to the dress. It's cute, it has pockets, and if I buy it, it will satisfy my current plaid hankering without requiring me to figure out which branch of my ancestry qualifies me to wear which design. Sounds like a plan to me — what do you think? 

Today's Pattern Story: McCall's 6782


Stripes: How many times are we going to have to rehearse this?

Belt: Until you get your back foot right, evidently. Also, your hand is too low.

Stripes: I can't get it up past my hair.

Floral: That can't possibly be your hair.

Stripes: I own it, so it's mine.

Belt: Hurry up and let's get this right. This scarf is gonna leave a welt.

[Director, from offstage: "One more time, girls!"]

All three: I hate the chorus.