Indoor Hanging Plants: In Lightbulbs

In recent years, I’ve become overly fond of hanging plants from the ceiling. The plants add life to the space (literally) and hanging foliage is far too dramatic for me to resist.

Hanging plants are perfect decorating solutions for limited spaces. That is unless plants die within a day of reaching your hands. If that’s you, I don’t recommend trying this.

So, what could be more dramatic than hanging plants from the ceiling? Well, I’m glad you asked- The answer is obviously to recycle lightbulbs, use them as planters and then hang them from the ceiling! I’m a genius.

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A Morning glory

 

Jokes aside, lightbulb planters are really fun decorations, and fairly easy to make. I got the idea from a Pinterest post where emptied light bulbs were being used as vases for cut flowers. I thought, if I can use a lightbulb as a vase, why not grow a plant in one?

The fist step is emptying the lightbulb, which takes a little practice but isn’t difficult. After that, there are two ways to grow a plant inside.

Replanting in a lightbulb

My first hanging lightbulb planter was used to grow a rose, which I still have. I started with a miniature rose plant and after removing all the soil surrounding the plant’s roots I divided the root base into two sections so I could fit the plant through the small lightbulb opening. Working the rose into the lightbulb without being stabbed was a little tricky but once it was in, I just needed to fill the bulb with potting soil.

Note: Roses need to go through a winter cycle before they will flower again. So if you plant roses, either be willing to let it go dormant in a cool place or just keep it as a cute little bush.

Also, If you want consistent foliage, be sure to rotate the plant occasionally, since the leaves will turn towards the sun.

Growing a plant in a lightbulb from seed

If the previous planting method was too much, the easier option is to grow a plant from seed. To do this, just fill the lightbulb with soil, drop a seed into the planter and cover it with a little dirt. After that, water the soil and leave the lightbulb in the sun.

Note: I’ve mainly planted pole beans so far. They climb up the suspension cables and grow like crazy. If you try another type of plant let me know how it turns out!

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Pole beans

Care

Hang your planter near a window where the plants will get daily sun (south facing windows are usually the best for this).

The key to keeping the plants alive is maintaining moist soil, don’t let it get too dry but also don’t let the plant sit in water. If the plant runs out of water it usually will recover. The real risk is over-watering, since there is no way for the water to drain. Once you get the hang of things, lightbulb planters are easy to care for and slightly addictive to make.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

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Decorating with Suzanis

For centuries, the art of Suzani has been a defining characteristic of central Asian culture. The traditional textile is recognizable for its decorative needlework and bold color.

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A silk Suzani, about 7x5ft

Historically, young girls and their female family members prepared these embroidered masterpieces together.  The needlework began at the daughter’s birth and continued until her wedding, where the fabrics were a central part of her dowry. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Suzani has been making a comeback as people around the world become aware of the beautiful fabrics.

I first encountered Suzani in my mom’s suitcase, following her return from a trip to Uzbekistan. When she pulled the vibrant fabrics out, I’m sure my eyes grew as big as saucers. Sadly, the two Suzani tapestries ended up in a forlorn storage box, until I re-discovered them a year ago and made off with them. Now they brighten my room with that unique Suzani flare.

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I think this Suzani is cotton, it’s about 7x7ft

Adding a Suzani can light up any dull room and decorators have started to incorporate them into their designs. I typically see the large tapestries used as bedspreads, alternative headboards and wall art. I’ve also seen some instances of people re-covering furniture and pillows with Suzani fabric. There are some great examples at houzz.com. If you feel like your room needs something more to liven it up, I highly recommend you try adding a Suzani. They are beautiful and unique. I’m caught between wishing more people know about them and wanting to keep them a secret. Too late now, I suppose!

As for my own Suzani, I’ll probably have to give them back to mom. But I can always hope that she will pass them on to me like the mothers of old.

 

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The Art of Finding Thrift Store Treasures

Thrift stores are the perfect places to find fascinating clothing. I find most of my favorite pieces in thrift shops and over the years I’ve developed a method for finding the treasures.

1. Shop frequently: The key to finding amazing items hinges on the regularity of your visits, so stop in often. It’s a simple idea but new items arrive every day. The more you look, the higher the likelihood of finding something amazing.

2. Don’t limit yourself by size: I’ve found that thrift store sections are not the best indicator of fit, especially if you’re thin. Items in thrift stores are coming from thousands of different brands with their own size variations. Not to mention older items, and pieces imported from Asia, which run small. So, if you have time, give the other sections a glance, something might catch your eye.

3. If it catches your interest try it on:

I have two rules for my thrift shopping trips #1 get a cart and #2 if it looks interesting, try it on. The cart is important because on a good trip I end up with 20+ items to take to the dressing room. Once I try them on there are usually only 2 or 3 I actually consider buying and that’s on a good day. I do this because without trying them on I don’t know how they will fit or look. Once you’re wearing the clothing it only takes a few seconds to figure out if it’s a keeper, which brings me to my next point.

4. Go with your gut decision:

I glean through my 20+ item pile of clothing very quickly. After all, I don’t want to hold up the changing room. In fact, I’m usually finished before my three sisters, who will try on less than 10 items. The key is to be decisive. Once you try on an item go with your gut reaction, it’s usually the right one. Then make two piles: yes, and no.

5. Don’t be afraid to leave empty handed:

Never feel like you need to buy something. There will be days when you can’t find anything. It can be tempting to make a purchase anyway since the prices are so low. However, if you don’t like what you buy chances are you won’t wear it. You won’t lose very much money but why waste it?

Using these methods I’ve been able to save hundreds on clothes and find amazing articles of clothing. Even if you decide that some of these methods are not for you, try to come up with a system of your own to make thrift shopping simple and effortless. There are hundreds of websites with thrift shopping advice, so see what works for you. After all, there’s no point wandering through the sections like a lost child. Have a plan and stick with it, you’ll save time and money.

5 Suspender Outfit Ideas for Women

Classy, slimming and dramatic. I love wearing suspenders with oxfords, skinny jeans and a hat of some sort. The end result is a comfortable and polished outfit.

Suspenders as we know them, originated in the 1820s,  with Albert Thurston a British designer, according to Time magazine. They were used to hold up high-waited pants that could not be belted.

Today, suspenders often have nothing to do with holding pants up. Suspenders are now fashion accessories and there are thousands of ways to wear them.

  1. Black and White Contrast

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I love this combination from the blog powermovesandpumps. The white outfit really makes the suspenders pop.

 

2. Striped Trousers

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This one from Free People’s 2013 catalogue has a more casual look to it.

 

3. Unique Button Downs

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The unique button-down top gives this outfit even more of a unique flare. From Rachel Iwanyszyn on Fashion Indie.

 

4. Suspenders with Necktie

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Not only does this outfit from German designer Lena Hoschek’s A/W 2010 collection have a unique top, the suspenders are also pared with an eye catching tie. It’s a little too much for my tastes but a good idea.

 

5. Suspenders with Skirts

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Suspenders can also be a nice finishing touch for a skirt. This outfit comes from Stasha Fashion and demonstrates more great use of black and white contrast.

 

I hope this gives you some ideas for outfits! There are so many different ways to wear suspenders, get creative and come up with some combinations of your own.

Good luck!

Everyday Fashion Psychology

As the saying goes, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Clothing, predictably, impacts what other people think of a person. However, new research shows that it’s not just them, clothing also affects how you view yourself.

Now the real question is, what do we do with this information? Many articles discuss ways of turning clothing into a tool for success on the job. However, I recently stumbled upon an article from the Huffington Post that discusses some of the stranger points. I have listed some of my favorites below:

  1. A masculine style on a woman makes her a more likely candidate for hire when compared a candidate wearing a feminine style.
  2. Men in tailored suits are perceived to be more confident.
  3. Unfashionable and outdated clothing causes people to stand further away.
  4. People have a higher likelihood of giving money to someone dressed like them.

The remainder of the list is also very interesting, although I don’t think I needed a study to know that women are more likely than men to own more than 10 pairs of shoes.

It makes me wonder if the clothing choice creates a different response from others or causes the wearer’s behavior to change, making people respond to them differently. It’s probably the result of both.

I think a lot can be drawn from point number four in particular. Perhaps, a similar style can create a sense of connection between individuals. It’s worth considering the environment and people you will be dealing with before choosing an outfit for the day. That choice may impact how people respond to you and help you relate to them.

Try dressing like a person you’d like to befriend or dress to blend in a certain setting. Do you feel different, do people respond to you differently, or both?

 

 

Fashion Trends and Theory: History Repeating

As the saying goes, History repeats itself; interestingly, so does fashion.

The fashion cycle

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An illustration of the fashion cycle from textilelearner.blogspot.com

The typical fashion cycle goes through five stages according to fashiondesignscope.com. First, designers introduce a style, that style is often worn by chosen “fashion leaders,” such as high profile celebrities. When a celebrity wears a new style it gets attention from fans and the media. The hype translates into mass production of the style. The public’s interest develops the style into a popular trend, as more people adapt the look. Eventually, the excitement dies down as the market becomes saturated and people become bored. Form there a style is replaced by something new and more exciting, typically introduced by the same famous people and designers.

Fashion leaders

The famous have led the fashion industry for years. “Before the civil war, Paris was the fashion center,” said Robin Kloosterman, a historical reenactment and fashion enthusiast. She proposed that, before movie stars introduced the trends, it was royalty and the nobility. This is a concept called trickle down theory, originally created by Thorstein Veblen in 1899. Trickle down theory states that lower classes will try and mimic the wealthy and influential by adapting their styles. These styles are originally introduced at higher prices than the masses can afford and with time become available to the general public

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A diagram of popular trickle-down fashion from ohartfashiommarketing.blogspot.com

Kloosterman recalls the time when women would get their fashion magazines every month or two and adapt the styles for themselves on their sewing machines. In a way, this was faster than today’s method. The internet makes new styles instantly known, but most of us must wait for manufacturers to start producing the things we want to buy. If they ever do. And don’t worry, if you miss a style you like it will probably reappear in stores a few years down the road.

Old Trend, New Spin

If you don’t think fashion trends repeat just ask any relative or friend over 30, if you’re over 30, think back to your teen years and you might notice some fashion similarities. The repeat is not always glaringly obvious, old ideas are often reshaped or iconic articles of clothing are combined with other trends. For example, the famous bell bottoms reappeared more subtly as flare pants, while we see a resurgence of leggings and neon hues from the 80’s (minus the leg warmers). Some items come back into style as retro or vintage trends. According to www.insideoutstylblog.com, a fashion fad will only last 3 to 12 months, a trend will last 1 to 5 years and a classic will be around for 5 to 10 years. Then if you wait around 20 years the trend will hit the scene again.

Technology’s impact

In the next few years this pattern may begin to change. Consumers have a little more style freedom with the increase in online shopping, since online stores are not limited by the trends available at the local mall. Popular looks are quickly picked up by social media and shared with the world, and consumers are quick to adopt the new look. Unfortunately, with online shopping it’s hard to choose something that is certain to fit. According to Peder Stubert’s  Huffington Post article, technology could solve this deterrent. Some online retailers are introducing functions that alert the buyer to size differences between past purchases. Other companies are creating “virtual fitting,” technology that can either cross reference current garments with an online product or use 3D computer body modeling. Technology could make online shopping easier and more convenient.

What now?

With so many different styles, the challenge is what to do with all of it. There is a whole world of fashion at our fingertips, both in style and out of style. There are more tools to create your own distinct look than ever before. Old styles can easily be  recreated or reimagined by consumers. As Kloosterman said, “It’s more than knowing what the clothes are it’s how they wore them.” That information can be used to bring back an old look or modernize a out of style article of clothing. The tools are out there, what are you going to do with them?

The trouble with wearing what you want

Wearing what you love can be a struggle. I happen to adore clothing that is outdated or from other parts of the world. I’m caught between wearing what I want and being taken seriously outside my home. Actually, they laugh at me there too…

Case in point: Two years ago I impulsively purchased a sari with no occasion to wear it. Since then, it has tragically remained in the bottom of my dresser. Not planning ahead can quickly backfire.

Fortunately, I have learned my lesson. Sort of. Now, I am careful to ask myself hard questions like, ‘would I be able to actually wear this?’

The goal is to still wear the clothing you enjoy while looking professional. In my experience, the best way to do this is using accessories and/or more subtle versions of the styles you adore.

In the case of the sari, it would have been wiser for me to purchase a less jarring clothing item, like a kameez in muted colors. A kameez is a beautiful style that can be toned down and worn to the office. In my opinion, it’s no fun having beautiful clothing you can’t wear to work or around town, without causing problems.

Yes, ignoring fashion norms can be fun and I think there is a place for expressive outfits. However, people form opinions based on what you wear, especially first impressions. I think there are ways to blend the two extremes in creative and professional styles and that should be the ideal.