Monday, July 30, 2012

{DIVA/DIVO} How to Dress for an Interview

The intimidating feeling of being judged on presentation causes living solely to avoid it, never seeking jobs that require an interview, distaining all judgments, fearing formality and normality, and describing joining a white collar workforce as "selling out." The surprise comes from learning that dressing for business isn't about who looks the nicest; it's about making other people feel comfortable about you, and themselves in your presence. The goal is to be confident in clothing that "works" for you, and with some cunning thriftery does not have you solely working for the wardrobe.
Starting off in a comfortable outfit. Jenky old jeans, low cut tank, bed head, not interview ready at all!

FBLA, Future Business Leaders of America. A flash-non-fiction story: A high school friend and I joined the FBLA statewide competition without even reading the requirements for our project. We showed up in any old outfit, touting a business plan for a non-profit charity and gave away apples to the judges. To our surprise, on arrival, everyone had projects wrapped in tin-foil for the "millenium" theme to which we were unaware, and were dressed in "boring business" attire. When we got our score cards back, Nadine and I were disqualified from our segment, not for our mal-aligned project, but for "inappropriate dress" based on her "open-toed shoes."

Walking a mile in certain shoes is not desirable. Do not compromise comfort for a willingness to please.
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Oxfords are a safe shoe-bet for business. They come in many colors and designs, including cut-outs and high-tops or ankle boots, men's and women's. They aren't too clunky, and they look great with skirts and dresses as an alternative to heels.

That day, the truth about business dress became clear. It appeared to this young compartmentalizing eye as boring because the goal is to create a shared platform. In this way business clothing "codifies similarities," removing intimidation and separation from potential clients, bosses and colleagues. Seeing similarities and/or not distracting with our differences allows us to stay focused and efficient in the workplace. In a world where everyone has their differences, at least we can come together through business dress.

What is the focus?
The end to the means of an interview is (hopefully) the work that we do as a result of having a job. The quality of the work produced is a product of what is in our minds. The seat of knowledge should be emphasized using color and accessories in a way that will draw eyes to the face, not away. Men wear ties to lead the gaze to the face. Jewelry shouldn't be excessively large, and color should be brought to the face with make up that accents clothing. Eliminate top scraggles by having hair in an up-do.

Here are a few tips on how to french-braid hair:
This is french braiding in a crown. One can learn easily how to do this on any braiding website, but the main key is shown in the middle photo.
1. Braiding is about muscle memory. Remember which fingers are pulling new hair. To keep it simple, only add hair with the same fingers and hands. Practice being rhythmic.
2. Once braided so far in one direction, how can the hands move onto the other side of the head to finish the braid with out letting go? This technique is dubbed "jumping rope" where the elbows get thrown over your head and the braid slightly twists.
3. Continue the braid on the other side of the head, adding hair until there isn't any more, and braid the ends, wrapping it around and securing it with a barrette over the gap from where it was started.

Already appearing more stable-minded
As a school teacher children focus less on their work when they want to know if the cowboy boots and braids point to a personal history as a farmer. Figuring out how to keep children concentrated on their work and not on today's outfit fortifies your goals.

Get with the Program:
There are numerous ways to screw up the dressing aspect of the interview. Over-thinking things is a common mistake, and though one may be stretching oneself to create a first impression that looks good and conforms, it is easy to blur the lines with "a night out" or "wall flower."

Wrong #1: Be too boring
This is a completely acceptable classic business shirt and trousers, however it is baggy and rather unmemorable. This is not a BAD choice, however it lacks focal point and accessories, and these clothes do not fit the figure in a flattering way.

Fix #1: Add Some Class
A simple coat brings this up a notch and completes the outfit. A nice necklace, chain belt, subtle earrings, and a bracelet or watch spice up "boring basics."

Wrong #2: Be Too Revealing or Too Distracting
Sadly, despite current trends in lace and sheer, it is not appropriate to distract and excite the interviewer. Additionally, wearing wild patterns on the exterior can keep the eyes off of the main focal point: your face. Symbolically these overly busy motifs, despite being in classic cuts, could reflect poorly on your personality by revealing your willingness to indulge yourself and others in diversions.

Fix #2: Keep Calm
Not all patterns are bad. Here, a wildly patterned shirt with an appropriate neckline is paired up with a navy cropped coat and a neutral mauve silk skirt. The symbolic reading of a busy pattern under a calm neutral block color is that the busy mind keeps a cool facade. The neckline of the coat leads the eye back up to the face.

Wrong #3: Texture Clash
While this outfit is made of fine fabrics in appropriate cuts and fittings, there is over emphasis of the tops through texture clashing. Granted this is not the worst offense, each exquisite piece is decentralized in comparison to the defining space; another exquisite piece.
Fitted, comfortable, length-appropriate skirt, richly textured light-weight neutral silvery swing coat, and a deep violet dramatically bibbed tank provide a lot to look at, perhaps too much for a premier interview.

Fix #3: Local Focal
Focal points are made visible with contrast. Define your best piece by setting it off next to a less competitive texture or pattern. Switching either the jacket or the shirt makes this outfit a win because it isn't too flashy and emphasizes the key peice.

Know Your Goals, Dress for the Role:
Clothing is an expressive medium with transformative aspects that can be advantageously employed, effecting not only how other people see us, but how we feel about ourselves. Without sweatpants on, getting out of bed and sitting at a desk is less difficult, with the proper business clothes the mind becomes unoccupied with appearance and allows us to focus on the job at hand. In addition, how one looks and how one feels are reciprocally determined, or are equally affected by one another; if we look confident, we will feel confident and if we feel confident, we will look confident. Finding ways to control other peoples impressions as well as our own impressions of ourselves is the key to understanding "The Art of Getting Dressed."

Monday, July 23, 2012

{REJEWELRY} Madam Chino Fixes Broken Jewelry

Since REJEWELRY Craft Night at Madam Chino's LOOK NOOK in July of 2011, Madam Chino has been collecting broken jewelry and recreating it into new items. Here are a few flickr picks from my most recent collections, original and available at the East Side Green Market here in Milwaukee, WI every Saturday...

Leather and Metal Chain Necklaces
leather and metal

Beaded Bolo Brooches
Beaded bolo brooches

Reused Leather ID Tag Bracelets

Key Pairs Keeper Earrings
{REJEWELRY} key pairs

Watchband Rings
{REJEWELRY} watch band rings

Timeless Watchband Lockets
{REJEWELRY} Watch Lockets

Softy Watchband Rings
Watch band rings

Monday, July 16, 2012

{HOW-TO} make your own jacket buttons!

Finding affordable, consistent, used, larger jacket buttons can be challenging. New buttons can cost up to $6.00 a button, making it completely uneconomical to use in larger scale production. I decided making buttons was not a task too challenging for Madam Chino. Here's HOW!

First go to the hardware store and get a closet pole or dowel just the right size for you! The type of wood will be less important because you will want to polyurethane them for color and strength. Cut closet pole dowels down in 1/4" segments using a chop saw. Sawing slowly will ensure that the thinner wood will be cut smoothly. This photo is of the similar process using the chopsaw on branches for wooden ornaments cut at a 45, however buttons are just a straight cut. Marking the table of the saw with a piece of masking tape will help to ensure consistent measures.

Use a pre-existing button to center on the button cuts, and trace the holes
chop saw and button template

Use a regular drill to cut the holes, or a drill press if you have it! I was able to borrow this one from a friend:
i choose drill press

Individually sand down the edges of each button
sanding buttons

Attach each button to a wire hanger that has been cut down to a smaller size so that they will fit into the bucket of poly. I was able to create a few of these hangers to attach all 87 buttons and run them in sequence.
button dipping hanger

The button hangers can be dipped into a well stirred polyurethane paint bucket and hung to dry on a dowel over some wax paper. I would come back to the dripping hanger to dab the excess dripping off of the buttons before they would solidify. I dipped them about 3-4 times each.
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Post-dip, the holes need to be re-punched, but not re-drilled. I used the drill press while it was off to punch them out again.

These buttons were used in the Madam Chino Spring Mens collection which can be viewed in the latter half of the post found HERE!

Monday, July 9, 2012

{RENEGADE BROOKLYN} a day late and a buck more

Traveling 3 hours by subway and bus to LaGuardia Airport on a Friday night to discover that a fire in the air traffic control center was forestalling over half of the flights from departing, that I had a 6 hour line concluding my departure wouldn't be till Sunday, alas preventing me from participating in the MKE Summer Solstice Market, I can't say I was all THAT excited. HOWEVER, getting a phone message from my school informing me that I would have my job back next fall, and an email from RENEGADE CRAFT FAIR reminding me that Renegade Brooklyn would be that weekend resolved my sentiments. Besides, who doesn't want 2 extra days of vacation?

Having participated in Renegade Brooklyn two summers prior and driving all the way from Milwaukee WI in a rental car with Madam Chino goodies, I had an extra appreciation as an onlooker. This year it was in East River State Park, along the water in Brooklyn NYC.
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As an artist and crafter it is hard to get the opportunity to relax and take in the visual and tactile textures of other crafters. Here are a few of the favorites I've chosen based on uniqueness and originality!

ERIN is the shop owner who does mini rug hooking and converts the finished pieces into all kinds of darling accessories. What a neat process! She sat out front with a hand-hooked name tag, and showed onlookers how she works.
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DIRTSA STUDIO chalkboard scroll banners
These ladies had such a fun interactive idea I was immediately drawn to their booth. Unpictured, there was a map of the USA where people could put an X on their hometowns, and by the time I arrived, three Milwaukeeans had already Xed out our town. What a cool way to track info in a thematic way.
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THIEF AND BANDIT geometry for your mind and body
I was introduced to Thief and Bandit when I was at Brooklyn Renegade two years ago. The owner Amie came to my booth and offered me a braided ribbon-clamped necklace in trade for one of my hand-printed woodgrain tanks. I was so flattered and excited! Thief and Bandit hand makes and screen prints "all-over" patterns all of their own shirts, a time consuming task well worth the results. This year they made little cruiser skateboards too!
THIEF and BANDIT website
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ALLISON WILDER sweet fanny pax
This lady makes the coolest contemporary fanny packs I've ever seen. She appears to do much more than that, as most artists do, but you can check out her blog and support her work by getting one of her shop items on etsy!
ALISON WILDER website/artkive
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RUFFEO HEARTS LIL SNOTTY insane rainbow piecework for your treasure chests
I've been a long-time fan of RHLS because, beyond their awesome marketing tactics, they are amazing designers using deadstock fabrics pieced together in puzzle-like ways with intense consistency. From underwear to swimsuits, mesh tanks and spandex dresses, these people are obviously out of this world.
RHLS shop
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talk soon!

madam chino

Sunday, July 1, 2012

{TEXTILE RECYCLING} factory tour and lot purchase

Post round-trip ticket purchase to NYC, I discovered an amazing and customer-friendly company that recycles massive amounts of textiles and exports them around the world, right in New Jersey just 20 minutes out of the city. After a last minute discussion with the lovely Hannah, directress of the vintage department, we solidified an appointment for midweek during my NYC stay. Day of the appointment, Fred my friend and assistant of the day and I, caught a taxi to the Port Authority Bus Station in Manhattan where we got on the free employee bus for a ride out to the plant at 6:30 am.

Our 7am arrival in the office of Hannah, who collected vintage clothing tags for a display
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She allowed us to wander about the vintage department while the floor manager Hani set us up with the crates. The patterns that are created from the repetition of forms are vast by virtue of the massive amounts of material.
The vintage sorting area used boxes and boxes in about 5 block long aisles, often double stacked and labeled:
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Clearly anyone would be tempted, however my appointment was not for buying vintage:
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Giant containers
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Aisles of bales, each bale generally weighs about 100lbs. These are ready to be shipped.
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Thus commenced our sorting arena around 7:30. Hani and Hannah walked us to our sorting table somewhere in the middle of the factory, wheeled up two giant crates 6 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and 4 feet deep, one full one, one empty one, and a canvas lined cart to put the shirts we wanted in.
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The prospects of all these shirts was overwhelming. Our sorting system entailed that Fred slung the shirts between the full and the empty crates, placing the prospective shirts in the center bin, where I would take them out and lay them on the table in color piles, hand picking them further by textures.
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We spent the entire work day sorting and were able to obtain 227 lbs of tshirts that were paid and shipped to my studio at the Fortress the following week.
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Current toilings include research and purchase of three new industrial sewing machines so that processing these tshirts into upcycled dresses, shirts, skirts and shorts will be fun and fast! And you don't stop, and you don't quit!

xx, madam chino