How-to: Mix and Match Bangles

Tonight I tried to teach myself how to crochet.

It was part of my Labor Day weekend initiative to  change up my rhythm and do something new.

Yesterday, I went antiquing in Milwaukee, and then to a drive-in movie. Today, I cleaned and tried to crochet.

I think we can all agree, I’m an exciting, thrilling person.

While the drive-in theater surprisingly left me with an “all is right in the world” outlook as I leaned my head out the window to stare at the stars, smell the first crisp of fall slowly moving in, and listened to Dory discover her potential as she looked for her parents, crocheting only left me with: “Am I just making fancy knots? Did the inventor of crocheting take knitting and say, ‘let’s make this harder and worse?”‘

And then I put my crochet hook down and decided to write a blog post.

You’re welcome.

I really love clothes. Not in a way that suggests people should dress in a certain fashion and those who don’t are uneducated yokels, but in a way that allows for self-expression and variation and color in what is otherwise a world filled with graphic t-shirts at work and Green Bay Packers jerseys at the grocery store. And let’s face it, those are the only two places I go.

But clothes cost money. And despite the recent email from my student loan provider saying, “We’re like you! We have loans too! Don’t hate us!”* they still expect me to pay them a lot of dollars every month.

And actual, true thing included in an email from my loan provider.

So many dollars, that I suspect they don’t actually have loans, but are, in fact, the actual Devil. That, or I made a really questionable life choice, and I need to reconcile myself with that every month for forever.

I’m pretty fortunate in that I have a job that allows for the occasional shopping spree in the Target clearance section, but sometimes I try and think up tricks to shake up my wardrobe while not actually changing my wardrobe.

Guys, I’m about to do a how-to post.

I don’t really do these. When I picture myself explaining to people how to do something, it is usually how to form a mental map of the public restrooms in the East Village of New York or how to make real chicken and dumplings.

My cooking instructions mostly go, “No. Don’t do it like that. Let me google the real recipe…” And then I forget to Google the recipe, and my friend knowingly remains silent.

But this post is actually pretty handy for anyone who wants to shake up their accessory game without spending too much money.

I recently watched Iris, the documentary about Iris Apfel, business woman known for her unique sense of style. Watching this movie, I was struck by her amazing bracelet collection. Here are some particular winners:


I, on the other hand, have one set of bangles I bought two years ago with the dregs of a birthday gift card. And, sorry fashion friends, accent bangles are a hard sell when you’re looking your budget in the face.

Taking what I had, my four bracelets and a big pile of silk scarves, I decided to go off script and try and create my own. Not revolutionary, but they do the job.

Needed:

  • Bangles (various sizes are welcome and encouraged!)
  • Silk scarves, old t-shirts, bandanas, any random fabric that you might have around. Either folded or cut into 1.5″ to 2″ strips

Accumulated over many years of birthdays, Christmases, and only being able to afford silk scarves when thrifting.

How-to:

  1. Start by wrapping the fabric around the bracelet, leaving at least a two inch “tail” of fabric to knot off at the end.
  2. Wrap the fabric some more. I jest, but this is a pretty straightforward trick. The one thing to remember is don’t overlap the fabric too much. The bracelet will feel like it shrinks in size regardless, but if you overlap the wraps too much, you won’t be able to put the bracelet back on.
  3. Knot the fabric. Knot the fabric with whatever “tail” you have left. You can either tuck the excess fabric into the folds, or leave it hanging for some flare.

You can pair different patterns together if you’re feeling crazy, or you can just wrap one as an accent.

I love this trick because if you don’t want to go “full Iris”, a statement bracelet is a pretty good way to shake up the basics.

For those who are saying, “but Meredith, what if I don’t even own one bangle?!” How on Earth do you spend the last five dollars of your birthday gift cards?!

That’s ok. A quick “Wooden bangle” google search produces countless purchasing options of less than five dollars that will do the job. Or, you could even just ditch the bangle, and wrap the scarf around your wrist. Or under your collar. Or in your hair.

Ultimately, I think it really does come back to Iris’ quote: “Wear something that says, ‘here I am today.'” Try something new or something that has been buried in the back of your closet for a few months. Try something that will make your office mate or boss say, “good for you,” but then they privately wonder if they could pull it off.

Or not. You do you. That’s always allowed.

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*What? What’s happening? Am I awake?

Possible reasons I haven’t been updating my blog…

1) I now fight crime.

2) I spent the majority of this week trapped in a snow drift.

3) Selective Internet Amnesia. It’s an epidemic.

The real reason? My grown-up-person-adult job occasionally required a grown-up-person-adult.

So as I compile my collection of make-up posts for the coming week, I give you my band of heroes that got me through the past one:

1) My water bottle system.

I realize it makes up 2/3rds of me, but I don’t really love water. I find five dollars in my pocket and immediately think, “Imagine all the diet coke I can get!” (Get out of my way while I start sprinting to the nearest grocery store)

I ALSO realize, however, that water is necessary and diet coke is not only NOT necessary, but may even do a little damage. So I have to trick myself into drinking water. First way I do this? An infuser water bottle. Put all the goodies in the bottom half, and fill ‘er up. My favorite go-to is lime wedges and mint leaves, but you could go with cucumbers slices, pomegranate seeds, raspberries. Go (the appropriate level considering it’s about water bottles) crazy!

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Second way  – and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out how I can say this and not discredit my master’s degree – make it cuter!* Enter my new Orla Kiely (for Target) water bottle. It’s glass, so no BPA and no weird plastic-y flavors (the scientific term).

While one bottle is infusing, you don’t have to wait, because you’ve got your charming green backup on hand. And when work gets crazy, WATCHOUT, hydrated Meredith is slightly-more-awake-Meredith!

You can find the water bottle on the left and other varieties at UncommonGoods, and the bottle on the right at Target store and online.

2) My Blanket Scarf

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It’s winter. And in winter, you hunker down. My blanket scarf is my new hunker-hero. Soft enough that you can still breath, but big enough that you are sure with some creative folding, you could literally hide in it.

My scarf is from Aerie, but for some more unusual patterns, head over to Zara. They’re basically the adult equivalent of a more-cozy-socially-acceptable-security blanket.

3) My Fresh Army

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Did you know it’s winter? Well, it is. And when you’re not hunkering you are trying not to let the cold suck you dry. Enter my Fresh Army of champions! I’m not going to lie to you, Fresh products are not inexpensive, but the title of MVP easily goes to the Advanced Therapy lip treatment. I could go into how “it makes me feel like my lips are taking a bath” or “if I got a raise, I would buy a tube to put in every purse and tote I own so I am never without one”, but I think that would make it weird. I’ll just say….it’s good.

Not cheap, but I hunt it down every time I return from being outside.

4) My French Press

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No really guys, it’s winter. Now that you’re hydrated, and cocooned in your awesome new blanket scarf, what else could be missing but coffee? And you don’t have to use your french press just for coffee, but that is a post for another day.**

This is a Bodum coffee press, but many varieties can be found.

*Rolls eyes at self.

**Preview: Iced Coffee, infused oils, whipped cream, maracas, pretending you’re a scientist, increasing use of the word carafe in your life…..this list goes on.

What do you Wear to a Polar Vortex?

So as a North Carolinian I have spent the last week hearing tales of Southern Snow-pocalypse 2014. Students trapped at schools! Cars in ditches line the streets! Atlanta is no more!

As a North Carolinian moving to Wisconsin in the next month, I’ve also been warned of the record low temperatures the midwest is experiencing. “It won’t actually feel that bad. Just don’t stop moving, or you will die.”

So one has to ask: what do you wear to a Polar Vortex?

Truth be told, I like clothes. Not in a vain way. I just think they’re fun. It’s your daily costume. But when a Polar Vortex strikes, clothes lose their fun, and the focus shifts to: I would like to keep all my toes…Is losing the feeling in my legs a bad thing?…Who needs lipstick when your lips are turning…blue?

But I am convinced that one can be warm, and not look, as a close friend of mine claimed, “like a potato.”

1) Boots.

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My new “I’m Moving to Wisconsin Boots.” I might look like wilderness-Elle-Woods, but I will be warm!

It would be nice if they were made for walking, but mainly they need to be waterproof. Luckily there are many cute boot options out there these days. Unfortunately, many rain boots don’t have much tread. If you are somewhere with a lot of snow, and it gets packed down, you are gonna fall down. It’s happened to me. A lot.

Not a fan of the hot pink? Try a more subtle option:

The cloth calves prevent the rain boot march. And on sale!

2) Scarf

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I love a scarf. I would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love a scarf. I especially love a scarf that is so big it could double as a blanket. Stranded in your car? Don’t worry! You have your blank-arf! Scarf-klet? I’ll work on it. And even if you are buried in a stay-puffed marshmallow-esque down coat, you can use that scarf as that spark of color in the fierce tundra. Tip: An infinity scarf will stay in one place and not require constant re-finagling when it inevitably comes undone.

Going shopping? Try this one on for size!

From Etsy seller WomanScarves. I want 7. Click on the picture to visit her store.

3) A Jaunty Hat. Or its close cousin.

100 percent of your body heat escapes through your head!* So it is important to keep the upstairs warm. Now if you are like me and “cranially endowed,” you want to go the knit cap route. But I dream of a good cloche. Also in this dream there is no such thing as hat hair. But tell me this is not beautiful:

She is my spirit animal. Visit Etsy seller, MaggieMowBrayHats, for more options by clicking on the picture.

But alas, I was born with a skull the size of a neanderthal, so we must continue to dream. Until then, cute ear warmers cover the important parts, and kind of help with the hat hair problem.

Winter is far from over, so the cold is not going anywhere any time soon. So as my move gets closer, stay tuned as I hunt down more cool cold climate coverups. Alliteration!

*That’s not true.