50 Elements of SMIJ Style • #9 • A Fabulous Cover-Up is Top Priority

I believe this so much so that I’ve designed and manufactured my own!

But, mine aren’t the only ones I appreciate.  A great cover-up is essential for beach time and it has lots of requirements.  First of all, it needs to … cover you up, but also be flattering, great on a bike, show off a tan, be an extension of your swimsuit and allow room to build sand castles, pull wagons and flow in the breeze.  Whew!  So much for one little piece of fabric to do.  Here are my current faves (mine and others…) with links below the picture.  Happy Beach Days Ahead…

#1 –  Endless Summer | #2 – Seafolly Gypsy | #3 – Mini Caftan | #4 – The Seaside Wrap | #5 – Mumu on the Beach | #6 – Flowy Caftan | #7 – Beaded Caftan | #8 – Pretty in Pink | #9 – Got the Beat | #10 – The Spartina Wrap | #11 – Maxi Shirtdress | #12 – Young, Wild & Free Caftan | #13 – Flamingo Open Tunic | #14 – Tassled Rose | #15 – Gingham Summer | #16 – Boyfriend Shirt | #17 – On-Trend & Off-The-Shoulder


50 Elements of SMIJ Style • #7 • Pencil Skirts are Always a Good Idea

Pencil Skirts are a timeless and great option for countless occasions – from church to work to meetings.  They look great with a large variety of tops from tank to denim shirts to blazers and, in my lifetime, have never been out of style.  If you like to sew, they are quite easy to make, too.   I made this one in windowpane to stay on trend this past Fall, but there are many places to get a great pencil skirt.  I recommend owning them in denim, tweed, wool, knit, solids and prints.  Below are some fun options.

Windowpane Pencil Skirts:  Hugo Boss |   Less Than $20 | Love this One! | Pink & Tweed – great transition skirt | Scribble Pane |

Prints:  Wildflower ($169) | Metallic | Browns ($132) | Black & White & Splattered | Great Deal on a D&G | Florals | Hear Me Roar(at the price) | Because everyone needs an animal print pencil skirt |

Tweed:  With Trim – Too Cute ($98) | Red (less than $60) | Super Cute Plaid & Pockets (Less than $100) | Tweed Ruffles | Pink for early Spring | Great color and less than $25 |

Denim (a must have!):  Button Front | CE – My Fave | Great Color – dress up or down (less than $100) | Hudson Beauty | High Slit Front Pockets – definitely with a white tank and wedges | DSquared2 (just beginning to know this brand) | Ralph Lauren Stretch – because “stretch” is always good in a pencil skirt

Windowpane – Wear the Trend

Plaid is really in this Fall and Windowpane is one of the prints that keeps showing up.  I’m making the dress pictured here, but have found lots of Grid Check or Windowpane options.  I’ve listed options ranging from $20 to almost $5,000 (just for fun, of course…).  I love this print in grays and blacks keeping with the menswear vibe it already has.  I girlied mine up with some Kendra Scott. I love the way the red pops against the gray.


  1. Got $4K+ to spend on just the skirt?
  2. Only $3K and you want a whole outfit.  Here you go!
  3. Just for fun… then we’ll get serious.
  4. Free People always nails it!
  5. Cute little romper – only $20.
  6. Great pants – love this way to wear the trend.
  7. $14 Shift.
  8. If I could pull off a jumper, I’d wear this one.
  9. Fun top – picture it over high-waisted, flare jeans.
  10. Boxy Top – that goes well with “grid”.
  11. Fall jumper in Black – only $52
  12. Peg pants – hello 80s!
  13. White with Black.
  14. Plunge neck.
  15. Grid tunic.
  16. Oversized shirt – only $30.
  17. Variation on the grid.
  18. Pencil skirt – this would look great with a denim shirt.
  19. Cute little dress – throw on a vest and you’re all set with this one.
  20. Or go long sleeve.
  21. A blazer is a fun option.
  22. Great gray dress – only $49.
  23. A little more plaid than windowpane?
  24. Sheath dress – great for work.
  25. Beautiful and $500+.
  26. Unique and under $100.
  27. Would do all silver jewelry with this one for a black & white moment.
  28. Wear with a brick long-line sweater.
  29. Speaking of brick
  30. Or go blue
  31. Forever 21 for under $22.
  32. $15 dress. Very cute, hi-low. Would wear with red converse, BTW.
  33. Head to Toe, Long & Lean, Black & White.
  34. Wear with everything.
  35. Black on White.
  36. Fitted pencil skirt and…
  37. It’s matching top.  Striking together!  Think I would do red boots.
  38. For a bun in the oven
  39. Boyfriend shirt.
  40. Wide Leg and very flattering.
  41. Leather trim for $114
  42. Blue & Red and perfect length for skinny jeans.
  43. Love the gray pants option.  You could get really crazy with the shoes!
  44. Great blazer to use the look over and over again.
  45. Perfectly simple dress.
  46. And, for that extra $1,000 lying around… THIS!



Everywhere I drove this week, leaves were falling from the trees.  This weather changing has gotten me in the shopping and fabric mood.  Dropped my daughter off at school and headed straight to Joann’s for the first time since before the summer.  I had so much fun!  And, as if to cooperate, the weather has been rainy, dreary and cool.  Great time to sew!  I started three new things –  a sweatshirt caftan for my upcoming October beach trip, a windowpane pattern poncho dress and this sweater top pictured below. I am so excited about this top and can’t wait to finish it and wear it when it gets cooler.

Shop my Rainy Day Outfit here:  Gray Tunic Top | Skinny Jeans | Above-the-Puddles Wedges | Camo Scarf | Necklaces


Two Major Shopping Problems I Now Have

Designing & Sewing is Ruining – or Changing – My Shopping Style…


Since I’ve started designing and learning to sew, something very scary is happening to my shopping style.  I have two major problems!  Both are actually saving me money and are getting me closer to my dream of owning  a beach house, but nevertheless, are scary.  I am seeing all fashion through new lenses and I’m not sure I like it.

It’s a true paradigm shift in my fashion world and I look at things differently.

Problem #1:  I now look at where things are made and how.  Ugh!

I’ve had the privilege of meeting local designers who design and produce in the U.S.A.  They value quality and the process over the mass production or even mass appeal.  I’m looking at fashion through their eyes and noticing where clothes are made and how.  I’ve gravitated toward brands that are made in the USA such as Show Me Your Mumu, Lolly Wolly Doodle, Bella Dahl and many others I continue to discover.  You can see where this could be a problem.  Clothes made this way can be more expensive and scarce.  So far, it’s OK… I actually spend less, but spend more thoughtfully.  I “curate” my wardrobe instead of shop for it now.


Problem #2:  Learning to sew has further limited what I’m willing to spend money to acquire.  Ugh!


I’m learning to sew and I love it.  It is so rewarding to turn a piece of fabric into something you love to wear.  It only takes a short amount of time to make a pair or shorts or a dress, too.  I think I had this idea that one garment would take me weeks to finish, but turns out I can whip up a dress in the time it would take me to drive to Perimeter Mall, shop and get back home.  And, I can use fabulous fabrics that I love and customize the dress to my exact specifications.  I have a lot to learn, but I can make shorts, tunics and dresses that I love in unique fabrics that are simply stunning.  I’ve never gotten so many compliments as I have since I’ve been sewing my own clothes.  Literally, complete strangers stop me at concerts, on beaches and in stores to compliment my pieces.  It’s not that I’m so great at sewing…. it’s that the fabrics are so great and unlike things you find in mass production.  So, where’s the problem?  Well, I have simple taste.  I like things like tunics, simple dresses, etc.  These things are the things that are pretty simple for a beginner to make.  So, when I see something I like, like this “Cabana Dress” for $70, I just can’t pull the “Add to Bag” trigger because I know I could make it.  So, in this case, I’ve ordered $30 worth of an amazing fabric and I’ll be making my own version of this dress.

There are plenty of things I can’t make or don’t have the time to attempt so those things I still purchase if I really want them.  Sewing has created a whole new list of buying criteria.  Another big change for me.



So, my closet is taking on a whole new personality and I grow in this new fashion business.  Thanks for following along on my journey.  Hope I haven’t ruined any shopping fun for you. (www.smijbyjill.com)