21 October 11 • MAV

Four sweaters.

I unpacked my fall/winter bin last weekend (the one I hauled up from the basement) and found only four sweaters. I sure found lots of wool hats, gloves and boots but just four sweaters. For a moment it made me think perhaps there was a second bin somewhere but then I remembered … yep … I’m a minimalist. I have four wool sweaters for a reason.

Each fall/winter I invest in just one or two sweaters with plans to keep them for several years. In fact it’s not just sweaters that I have these kinds of ideas about. I usually only purchase a few new pieces each season. I invest in my clothing and abide by the mantra: less is more. Instead of taking my “welcome the season” clothing budget and spreading it out to buy a quantity of new inexpensive often poorly made items, I like to put all of my money for new things into just a few items. It works for me. I like knowing that I am investing in what is on my body and it helps me take better care of my garments. Now, I know this kind of thinking is not for everyone, I feel lucky to even have a “welcome the season” clothing budget set aside, but regardless I thought I’d take a minute to tell you what my favorite investments for the season are. At the very least I think it’s a really good thing to have less and take better care of what you have. Perhaps that’s what these thoughts are really all about anyway. Quality over quantity and care over careless. Just my thoughts anyway …

1. A Black Top (seen up top)
This season I fell in love with the Linear Top from Filly Designs. The reason why I think a black top is important is pretty obvious. No rocket science here. You can dress a black top up, you can dress it down. I’ve been wearing my Linear top with jeans, skirts, over dresses and have even thrown it on a few mornings after just getting up. I love the fit, the feel of the fabric and the fact that I know it’s well-made. It’s so nice to have a standard, yet interesting, black top in my closet. I plan to take very good care of this one!

2. Leggings
All of these leggings here are designed by Caitlin Mociun. Caitlin is a friend and I think she’s an incredible artist. I try to invest in one pair of leggings from each of her collections (this season is actually her last one designing clothing; sob!). The blue stripes must be four or five years old by now. They are still in great shape! The triangles are from last season and the triangles + dots are from this season at Anaise. It’s all fine and good to have a standard pair of black leggings, and I do have that pair from three seasons ago, but I love to inject a bit of fun into my wardrobe. Leggings with prints just cheer me up! That’s always a good thing and that makes them a good investment in my eyes.

3. A Wool Sweater
This year’s choice is from the Australian knitwear company, Primoeza. In the spirit of full disclosure this is a client (and friend) of mine; my creative team, along with chelliswilson, worked on Elizabeth’s Collection No. 2 campaign. But you know what … all that did was make me realize even more strongly that this was a gorgeous piece and a very good investment. The Primoeza sweaters/scarves are made one at a time; it takes Elizabeth one day to make a garment! That is amazing and I respect her craft so very much. The four sweaters I unpacked from my bin all spanned the course of the last five years. They were all investments and I have treated them as such. When I take a trip in the winter I pack just one wool sweater so that’s always an indicator of how important this piece is in my closet. So, now I have five wool sweaters. Feels almost like too many! I may have to look around for holes in the oldest one after this season is up.

4. Comfortable Jeans
My brand is J Brand. I buy no more than one pair of blue jeans each year and sometimes a pair of black as well if I need them or if my weight has changed. Right now I have four pair of jeans in my closet: two blue and two black. I need nothing more and in fact the two black is almost excessive to me but one pair is now three years old and just getting to its amazing stage where it’s starting to fade out to blue. Ooooh. So nice. My one little piece of advice on jeans as an investment is this: make sure they are comfortable! Try on as many pairs as you can and take your time. Once you find the pair you love wash them as little as you can and wear them until they have holes … then get the holes fixed and wear them until those holes rip through again. A good pair of jeans is like coming home. I love coming home.

5. A Blazer
This Boy wool blazer was purchased in 2009 at a 50% off sale at the Barney’s in San Francisco. I freaked out after I bought it (it’s the most pricey thing I own). I am still freaking out a little bit actually. However, it certainly is the piece I wear the most out of anything in my closet. This blazer has made me realize the importance of having a blazer. I wear it in every single situation imaginable … I love it. I love how it envelops me and makes me feel like I’m covered … like I’m going to be okay (if that makes any sense). Now, mind you, I won’t buy another blazer for years and years I’d imagine; this baby is only going to get better! But it’s still high on my list as a good investment and I definitely recommend looking at these higher priced pieces in February at the end of the season.

: : :

If you want to read other MAV-thoughts on clothing (goodness knows why you would want to read my babbles but still) you can see my closet clear out post here, a post on my favorite dress here, thoughts on button downs here and SCB wrote a great post about giving secondhand clothing new life here. Have fun!

21 October 11 • SCB

This week’s project is inspired by last autumn’s 3191 Quarterly that included an elbow patch project from me and a feature on tights from MAV. I have combined the two to create knee patch tights! I made the pair seen here for my daughter in her favorite color of the moment—cobalt blue, but I have plans to make some for myself as well in a more subtle tone-on-tone combo.

This project uses wax-coated freezer paper to make a stencil and is truly easy. Do make sure you use quality tights and fabric paint. For younger kids, I think it would be fun to do other shapes like stars or hearts too.


Cotton small-rib tights (I wouldn’t recommend trying this with a synthetic tight)

Fabric marker or tape

Freezer paper (find it at your grocery near the tin foil)


Fabric paint (I recommend Jacquard textile paint)

Foam brush

Scrap cardboard


Try on your tights and mark the center of your kneecap with a fabric marker or a piece of tape. It is essential that you get the placement correct or you will end up with shin patches instead of knee patches. Prepare your knee patch stencil by cutting out two rectangles of freezer paper. You can trace the shape you want from a patch or pattern you already have and cut it out (the oval I used was slightly smaller than the small size of elbow patch pattern provided in 3191Q). Alternately, you can fold the rectangle in fourths then cut out a J-shape as seen above to create your oval. Make sure you are happy with the size and shape of your oval by holding it up to your knees before you proceed.

Insert a piece of cardboard behind the spot you have marked on your tights. The cardboard should be at least as wide as your patch. If your tights are going to stretch a lot on your legs, put in a wider piece of cardboard to simulate the stretch. Center your stencil with the shiny side down over the kneecap mark you made earlier. With a hot iron, secure the stencil to your tights.

With a foam brush, dab on fabric paint until the area in the stencil is fully saturated. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly and then gently pull away the freezer paper. Heat set the patch with a hot iron (once heat set, the tights should be fine to wash as you normally would).

Now, put on your tights and show off your cute knees!

The second pair we made are navy blue with glittery gold patches!

I hope some of you have fun making knee patches. I would love to see your tights if you do!