Wednesday, March 28, 2012

OPAT Work Outfit: A Vintage Dash-About Dress

Dashabout vintage floral dress work outfit

Don't worry--OPAT isn't some awesome blog challenge you haven't yet heard of and need a button and a deadline for RIGHT NOW. In fact, it's the opposite.

OPAT stands for "One Project At a Time", and it's my anti-challenge to myself to relax, stop beating myself up, and just enjoy whatever I want to sew--and can sew--in the time I actually have to sew it. To stop measuring myself against the Sew Weekliers and professional seamstresses and just relax.

Which is what you all have been kindly telling me to do (see "I WANT to Make This; I SHOULD Make That"), and I am now needing to tell myself. Elizabeth kindly reminded me that "should" can be a really painful word. And I especially loved StephC's comment:

When I was a teenager, I had a job pulling coffee at a popular coffee shop.. I'd get so upset on Saturday mornings, the place would be packed with people in need of a caffeine fix, they were usually rude once they got to the counter, and I'd try to make three orders and once and mess them all up...

My boss said to me- "Don't look at the line. Take a breath, make the first drink. Then take another breath, and make the next one. Only look at what's in front of you, keep moving, and you'll get there in the end." Stuck with me, it applies to so many other things...

This SO resonates, because I had a similar job as a teenager, working as an ice cream waitress. And there was one hot July 4th where I stood at the window scooping ice cream cone after ice cream cone for 8 hours straight without stopping whilst wearing a giant straw hat and a plastic lei... and then there was the time I worked at UPS loading giant trucks and one package after another would come shooting down the belt and I had to keep calm and just stack them one at a time and I was wearing steel toe boots and...

OK, not sure where I was going with that.

And so the above outfit--a quite typical Mikhaela work outfit for my awesomely casual nonprofit workplace--contains no actual me-made items. And I'm OK with that, because seriously, people -- this isn't a high-stakes competition. Unless we want it to be, and at this point in my life -- where sewing is what I do to RELAX in the evenings -- I do not.

I'm also ok with the crappy non-natural lighting for the same reasons.

Anyway, the outfit:

Dashabout Dress Work Outfit

  • "Dashabout" vintage (1970s?) floral cotton sundress with shirred elastic back, princess seams, half-circle skirt, thrifted for $14 in San Francisco years back. I at first assumed it was homemade due to the unfinished seams, but it has a little label inside reading "Dash-About." It's super-comfy and I've even gone (light) hiking in it. (See also "Some of My Best Dresses.")
  • Pink silk tank, ancient Ann Taylor
  • Turquoise cardigan, ancient Ann Taylor
  • Faux-leather navy belt--required as the dress is a bit big in the waist.
  • Turquoise necklace, lent permanently by my mom.
  • Print bag that can hold the universe (or a breast pump or books or a large knitting project), Brooklyn Industries, gift from my mom. (discussed here).
  • Orange peeptoe heels, Tsubo, a birthday gift from my husband in 2010 (blogged here).

I should note one thing I'm NOT wearing here--makeup, which I rarely wear in real life but almost always wear for photos. I recently had a freakout when I discovered that the FDA found lead in many brands of lipstick, including my beloved Revlon lipsticks, and I started reading up on all my beauty products on the Skin Deep database, and... well... any recommendations for natural toxin-free makeups in cute colors (especially bright red lipstick) but NOT containing sesame or nut oils would be awesome.

Oh, and here's the dress in natural light, shortly after I first bought it seven years ago (that's my sewing cabinet in the corner):

vintage summerdress remix 8_18_06

And now another night to relax, knit and watch old Fringe DVDs with the husband. I'll get back to my Mad Men Challenge dress... when I feel like it. And no sooner.

So: what are you doing to be kind to yourself lately?


  1. Very, very cute dress! Absolutely love the floral...and your attitude about taking it one project at a time. Thank you for being a voice of reason!

  2. That is a very cute dress - love the print! I hear you with the one project at a time. I've got a lot going on at work (teacher) so my free time has been a bit off lately. I'm sticking with small stuff until I have off for Spring Break and of course Summer Vacation...tonight I was just happy to serge together some blankets for my boys' camping trip (this weekend). Maybe I'll get some sewing done while they are all camping!

  3. Love the dress! It looks really good on you :)

  4. Ah...great post. Glad you're getting a chance to relax. I hate it when my hobbies just become one more thing I have to get done.

  5. Thanks so much for the new acronym...I'm going to remember and chat "OPAT! OPAT!" to myself whenever I need to.

  6. Yes, one project at a time! For your make-up question, I quite like Korres. It's a Greek brand and they try to use natural ingredients. And they are really good at labelling exactly what is or isn't in the ingredients. Each item has a long list: paraben: NO, etc. You can find some of their products at Sephora or just order direct from their website.

  7. I love this post - One Project at a Time sounds so wise! I put pressure on myself and feel I'm not producing enough well-made hand-sewn items - how silly! I should just relax and enjoy myself and make time for it when I can.

  8. You're quite right, it's not a competition- and it's actually supposed to be fun (*that's what I have to keep reminding myself). I am doing the OWOP challenge but due to truckloads of ill health in my family decided to take the pressure off myself and not make 2 extra skirts for the challenge - just 1 was enough. And even though I made a muslin for the Mad Men Dress challenge I will have to bow out of that one and just make the dress in my own sweet time.

    BTW you look absolutely fine without makeup on. Looks like you don't need it!!!

  9. I'm glad you're feeling less stressed. This outfit is so cute! What a great idea to belt over a cardigan. OPATting is such a wise strategy. I try to do this mostly because piles of projects super stress me out. Sometimes I batch trace/muslin/or cut, but only if I feel like it...

    I have uber sensitive skin and can't handle any cosmetics or skin care that has anything in it. I use Lily Organics for skin care (a Colorado company so thankfully I don't have to pay shipping), Honeybee Gardens mascara, and Jenulence mineral makeup. Lily Lolo has some nice lip gloss and their blush is also really nice.

    It's my birthday week, so there's lots of being nice to myself. I had a birthday lunch yesterday with some friends and their kids, including an almond cake I'm totally eating for breakfast today. My hubby and I watched a good movie last night (Captain America), and we'll go out together on Saturday w/o the kids. Then we're hosting a Seder on Sunday for 13 adults and 13 kids which will feature birthday cake #2--a spectacular 12 layer mocha chocolate cake which I was going to make last year for my 30th but I was too hugely pregnant at this time last year to make that happen. I love birthday week.

  10. Great outfit and even greater realization! ;)

    My grandma has a pretty large number of original vintage garments (60s-70s) and lots of them (store-bought) have unfinished seams. They seem to have held up just fine anyway. :)

  11. I believe it's easy to get caught up in the competition feeling when you drool over others creations on blogs. I have to remind myself often that I can't keep up. I've also learned that sewing challenges are not my friend. Work, children, husband, life in general is a lot to juggle and I want sewing to be a stress reliever. I'm working on enjoying the process and getting satisfying results. That is this year's challenge to myself.

  12. That dress is SUPER cute on you!! Who cares if it's not Mikhaela-Made, as long as it looks like that? :)

    I'm glad you're letting yourself relax. Sewing should be fun! If you don't feel like sewing (or feel like taking your sweet time with even a seemingly simple-and-quick project), then forcing yourself to do it is just gonna result in a big mess... at least, when I find myself in that situation, anyway :) hahaha

    I took a sewing-night off last night & rode my bike to the local Walk/Bike Nashville social meet-up, and treated myself to the most delicious quesadilla i've ever had (chicken, artichoke, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted red pepper & cilantro pesto... seriously, omg so good) and a beer. Ok, two beers... hi-gravity beers lol :)

  13. Great post--as another working mom, I've had to remind myself over and over not to use other sewists' blogs as my "standard." As far as cosmetics go, Aveda Poppy is a great red lipstick. Not sure about the nut/sesame oil content, though.

  14. I love your *new* sewing attitude and your non me-made outfit. It's very cute. Just because you make a lot of your own clothes doesn't mean you can't have new or old shop bought, thrifted and however else gathered clothing and enjoy it just as much.

  15. Love the dress and I'm right there with you on the OPAT plan. As much as I'd love to be one of those prolific sewing blog sewers, fact is, I have a full time job (as an attorney, no less) and a wild kid running around, and now I'm pregnant on top of it all, so yeah, I will just have to take my time, and my lovely patient readers will just have to wait. Because sewing is my hobby, not my second (third, or fourth) job. So it goes.

  16. Bravo on your new sewing attitude! I may need to follow your example. I know I didn't comment on it at the time, but I have been thinking about your "Should/Want" post ever since I first read it. Every time I go to sew, I think about what I am about to work on and trying to be more conscious of the gap it might/might not be filling in my wardrobe. Thank you, truly, for bringing to light my own feelings on the matter - you said it much better than I could.

    Love the dress, by the way! It looks fantastic paired with the belt and cardigan.


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