Rules I didn’t know I’d made

Pinterest stumps me. Who are these people riding vintage bicycles with overflowing baskets of daisies wearing flowing sundresses and coral-colored pointed-toe flats?

A couple of years ago I wondered about what I wore in my life after getting caught up in these images of not my life. I was curious because my wardrobe isn’t one of those perfect balances of color, texture, cut, and silhouette and I don’t ride a bike to work so there goes that prop.

Observing style and the identity of aging has crept in to become my own rules about fashion (if I’d call my own dressing that). For example, when I turned fifty I decided I couldn’t do vintage since some of my vintage pieces were originally worn by me back then. Plus I teach at an art school and the distance between my-vintage and student-vintage narrowed our age gap and this didn’t seem comfortable twenty years of teaching later. And a friend once said she never wore jeans because that was ‘lazy dressing’— I break that rule sometimes. A few years ago I saw an interview with Isaac Mizrahi who said “start with the shoes”, which I do but I never end with the pair I start with—though that sounds like I take a long time getting dressed. I don’t. But if I’m walking the four miles to school and back I need to think about which shoes work for distance and what the weather will be both coming and going. What I’m teaching makes a difference in what I wear too—I’m conscious of color and pattern when I have my 2D class and with seniors I can be more casual and playful; with freshmen I have a voice in my head saying ‘try not to look like their moms’.

The rules of this nine month inquiry were that I’d photograph what I wore to school when I taught a full day. Popping in for a meeting or working in the studio or meeting with client days didn’t get photographed.

What did I learn? That I like to wear my western boots I bought in El Paso because they are great for walking plus they jazz up the boring. It’s confirmed that scarves happen a lot, that there’s more color than I would have guessed and I’m shocked those green corduroys appear so many times because last academic year I thought they were so ‘not me’.

These outfits are from fall 2013 to spring 2014, posted in order from top left to bottom right.



I reworked an inquiry I posed a while back into a PechaKucha presentation;  a 20 image— 20 seconds per slide talk that I gave to a welcoming Portland audience, the warm intro is a minute.


  1. Green corduroys and cowboy boots are always cool. It’s inspiring to me, how this project grows, just by paying it some attention and “feeding” it regularly. It’s like a animated conversation over time.

    The image looks like a comic strip or an inventory or an abstract painting.

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