Friday, October 25, 2013

A Simple and Easy Wardrobe Fix


Currently I rotate two pairs of jeans. All my others are a bit tight and I'm ok with that right now. Maybe I took the advice of an Italian boutique girl too literally when she told me to 'buy the tightest pair you can button'. If they are too tight I don't want to wear them!

So for now I'm enjoying alternating my two comfortable pairs. They are by Diesel and the style is Ronhoir (‘regular boot cut’). I tried on a million pairs of Diesel jeans at the time and these fitted me best around the waist and hips so I bought a blue wash and a dark-ish brown blue wash in the same style.

You may already know that Diesel jeans are not cheap, and in the past I’ve been a cheap jeans wearer. Well, I took my husband’s advice that ‘jeans are worth spending money on’ and now I am a convert too. I love their comfort and how they look on me, but I always coveted a straight or skinny pair.

Our Diesel shoes sales rep told me he knows of people who have taken their jeans in successfully. At the time I thought to myself, I’m not going to pay ‘that’ much on jeans and then cut them up, but after quite some time had passed and my jeans weren’t brand new anymore (even though they have kept their shape beautifully and still look good) I decided to give it a go.

This is how I did it. It was such a great success that I did my second pair just the same, and I’ve been loving them ever since. It’s easy if you have a sewing machine, or a tailor could do it in not too much time (so not too much cost). It’s the best wardrobe fix ever if you have jeans that you like the fit but want to update the leg.

I washed them and then turned inside out. I unpicked the hems right round and ironed flat. Then I laid the jeans out on the carpet and actually pinned them onto the carpet, to keep them flat and smooth. I took them in on the outside seam, because that seam did not have top-stitching on the outside, whereas the inside seam did.

I ruled a straight line from just below where the pocket/outside seam topstitching ended (about mid-thigh) to the bottom hem fold line, where I had marked about 1.5 inches in. I initially tried 2 inches in from the outside seam (that's double overall, as there is two inches on each side) but when I did a tacking stitch line to try them on they were too tight. I didn’t want them to look like leggings.

You don’t have to be too perfect about it, especially if there’s a bit of stretch in the denim. My first pair was a hand-drawn line pinned, and it looks the same as my second pair where I got more perfect with a pinned out tape measure to give me a straighter line.

After you’ve stitched your seam, zig-zag or overlock and then trim the fabric off. Try on along the way before you commit to the seam finishing and trimming. Next, simply flip the hem back up again and stitch around (it will go up easily since the folds were there to start with, just make sure you match the fold lines when you pin and stitch).

If you are like I was you will get an excited feeling in your tummy that you have a new and stylish (and sexy!) pair of jeans in place of your previous nice but slightly boring and mumsy ones. No purchase or decluttering necessary.

This simple change has made a huge difference to my current uniform of either an ironed blouse/shirt or knit top/t-shirt with my ‘new’ jeans and either heels or ballet flats. I feel more gamine and youthful and French and chic, and who doesn’t love that.

Today I have them rolled up to a) to feel summery and b) so I don’t get dark blue denim marks on my red suede Clarks ballets.

Here are some images from asos.com of the original leg shape, on a lovely model of course. Another bonus of taking the legs in is that my two pairs were never quite long enough, because the store did not have the longer leg length. With a narrower leg that doesn't matter so much and now they are perfect for me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ask Three Questions

I often struggle with small talk. I know it’s the grease that smoothes comfortable interaction between two people, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t just want to talk about clich├ęd rubbish, but how do you start a conversation?

Like a lot of people, I am quite shy about talking to others in certain situations. We all fear being judged or laughed at for saying something silly. Whenever someone I talk with is naturally interesting and charming, I try to analyse what it is about that person that makes them so easy to talk with. And of course see if I can emulate it in the future!

I read something interesting the other day. It was in an article about a women with a school-aged son with autism. She was teaching him how to engage well with others, and was training him to ask someone three questions before he spoke about himself.

This advice has stuck with me because I’ve not heard it so clear cut before. I know it’s more polite to ask after others than to talk about yourself, but for some reason I have thought about this lady’s advice quite a lot.

Remembering back to different conversations I have had with people, it is the people who ask more questions than talk about themselves that I seem to like more, and that is because it makes them seem interested in you.

I have tried the Three Questions technique a few times now, and am happy to report that it works! Plus the bonus is that it’s an easy thing to remember. More often than not, before you get to three questions, a conversation is sparked off and you’re away anyway, no struggle or awkward silence necessary.

I have been reluctant to ask questions in the past as I have not wanted to seem nosy, but there are plenty of open-ended questions you can use that are friendly and interested, not rude and cheeky.

Part of making this technique a success, and any form of interaction with others really, is to be aware of subtle cues as to whether someone is uncommunicative. It’s awful to watch a conversation where one party is uncomfortable or bored rigid and the other is blathering on not even noticing if they are being heard or not.

I really, really hope I am not like that and it’s something I am constantly working on. When in doubt, stop talking and just listen, or enjoy a little bit of quietness for a minute or two!

I use the Three Questions technique in the shop too when I am serving customers, whether I know them well or have just met them, and it seems to make the whole serving experience more normal and natural.

I’m like a mystery shopper everywhere I go now. As I have shopping experiences I look at the person serving me and see how I am treated and if I can either take some tips from it if it’s good, or avoid being like that it if it’s bad.

I do know that I am always really flattered if a shop assistant asks me a question, beyond of course the annoying, chirpy ‘how are you today, got any plans later on, is it your day off’ all in a row. If there’s nothing actually to chat about, I am happy with eye contact and a smile, and I try to remember that when I am serving.

Have you ever had an experience where a shop assistant just won’t shut up? Ghastly! The thought of possibly being that person keeps me quiet, or else I ask a (pertinent and not too nosy) question and just listen.

The image above is Paris in 1914, borrowed from dailymail.co.uk
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