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Brown Casual Layered Utility-Style Summer Outfit for SIA: Holly Hobbie + DIY Paper Beads

Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge is the curator for this round of Style Imitating Art (SIA), and she picked an illustration of "Blue Girl" by American artist and writer Denise Holly Hobbie. Shelbee says that the "unqiue cat-loving, rag dress-wearing, giant-bonneted little girl" is "like the original boho girl speaking right to my vintage soul."

Style Imitating Art selection

It would be hard to have grown up as a girl in the US in the 1970s/80s and not be at least passingly familiar with the existence of Holly Hobbie, but I don't have much history or experience with this character. And as an adult with a distinctly non-boho, non-cottagecore personal style, her look is not one that I could readily adopt. So this made putting an outfit together inspired by the artwork a bit more challenging than it usually is.

Since I wasn't going to wear a hat (let alone a bonnet), a dress, a patchwork piece, or brown leather boots (in August), I had to draw on less literal elements of the artwork in creating my outfit. Here are the aspects I considered for my outfit:

-Color palette dominated by blue, brown, and beige

-Casual/relaxed vibe

-Summer layering

-Patchwork shapes or stitching

-Brown leather

-Mixed prints in a single item


I started my brown capris for the color, casual/relaxed vibe, and patchwork-style stitching (on the patch pockets and down the sides). Next I decided on a lightweight utility vest for the beige color, summer layering, stitching on the patch pockets...and "rags" because it is a thrifted piece. I completed my base outfit with a light blue Henley T as a very casual top that rounds out the color palette.

Sea turtles and fish

I liked this brown-based color palette for a late summer outfit. With school in St Paul starting next week (the day after Labor Day), it feels like fall is just around the corner...but we actually have another 6 weeks of warm weather ahead of us. I find that introducing traditional fall colors like brown, tan, dark green, olive, rust, mustard, etc. in lightweight summer clothing/outfits is a nice way to handle the situation when your heart says fall but the weather says summer. This palette with the brown/tan of fall and the bright light blue of a summer sky is a great transition season choice; I applaud Shelbee for her excellent timing!

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
OOTD 8/28/23

Despite the casual nature of the base outfit, I was wearing this for a WFH day and did fully accessorize it (which I may or may not do on an actual safari; I've never had the pleasure, though we'll see what I do when I eventually visit the Age of Giant Mammals, right?). This silk scarf is my go-to for combining brown and/or black with light blue, and since it has a variety of different prints in the design, it checked the box for mixed prints in a single item. I wore it under the collar of the vest so I could add my Slothlórien necklace as well as a new light brown glass bead necklace I purchased from Fire Mountain Gems. I took the two endless strands (i.e., no clasp) and knotted them, then added my own ribbon in the back to tie it so that the length was adjustable. This was a bulk package purchase with 12 glass bead necklace strands, and the cost for each pair of matching strands (which I can wear as a single necklace like this or separately) worked out to $1.37.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My hair is not as curly as the Blue Girl's but nevertheless, I think I did a credible job of channeling her not-overly-tidy hair vibe with my hair loose and somewhat wavy. My earrings are a pair of the world's easiest DIY hoop earrings with sky blue seed beads on pre-made hoops.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I almost always wear my beloved brown leather Frye flats with these capris (leaning into the pick a shoe color that matches your neutral pants strategy). I am very pleased that these shoes have hit my <$1 cost per wear target; they are currently at $0.97 CPW with 115 wears.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

Of course I am representing upcycling in this outfit with my DIY paper bead bracelet set. (All of these bracelets except the middle rose gold one are DIY.) This is a new set that I made in a brown, tan, taupe, white, and gold color palette as a versatile neutral option that could be worked into a lot of different outfits.

DIY Bracelet Stack

The two bracelets look very similar in the stack, but they started out from distinctly different papers. The top bracelet (mostly brown, tan, and white) was made from this page from a Garnet Hill catalog. The walls, headboard, and background of the bedding fabric are white, which gives the beads a nice lightness to contrast with the brown from the wood. There is some sage green and peach from the rug that provides a little subtle color and extra interest to the beads.

DIY Paper bead page-to-bead example

The bottom bracelet (overall a bit darker and has some taupe in it) came from this full-page image of a unbelievably detailed hummingbird-themed necklace woven from beads that was featured in a Fire Mountain Gems catalog. I really enjoy taking the image of an artist's amazing creation and DIY-ing it into paper beads. Unfortunately once paper beads are rolled, you lose the intricate details of the image, but the colors still came through nicely in these beads. I like how the hints of green, teal, rust, and orange jazz up the mostly brown/tan/taupe beads. And because the beads are created from an image of a 3-dimensional object, there is a lot of visual texture in them as well. The finished beads have a wonderfully organic vibe to them, which feels so appropriate given the nature motifs of the source image.

DIY Paper bead page-to-bead example
DIY Paper bead page-to-bead example

Next we turn to one of my favorite parts of the challenge: our Rabbit Imitating Art selection! I decided to start with the Blue Girl's hair to guide the choice of our hare. Reddish-brown, sticking out in the front, just a little bit wild...I went to my bunny photo archives and this Lionhead was the second photo in the folder. I loved how his multiple lengths of layered bangs mimics the front of the bonnet and the Blue Girl's hair sticking out beyond it. Now I'm guessing that Blue Girl doesn't have the impressive sideburns and general lion's mane look of our rabbit...but who's to say what's hiding behind that bonnet?

Rabbit Imitating Art selection

If you wondered why she is holding her bouquet of wildflowers in that awkward upright position rather than letting them fall naturally down her side with her hand at rest...well, now you know! She has to keep them out of the bunny's reach.

SIA artwork with rabbit
Holly Hobbie's Blue Girl "improved" with rabbit

Although I don't own a bonnet these days, I used to! My mom sewed a prairie dress and bonnet combination for me to wear when my elementary school did a re-enactment of the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. I think it was a small light purple floral print, but I'm not sure. I do know that I was the best-dressed Eighty-niner on the playground!

For more "wearing brown in summer" outfit inspiration check out these posts:

-Jodie shares 10+ ideas of how to wear brown in summer

-Mireille shares black and brown outfits for summer

-I share slow transition to autumn: late summer outfits with fall colors

-I share brown cropped pants outfits for warm fall weather

Thanks for joining me today for this Style Imitating Art + Rabbit Imitating (and Improving) Art post!

To see other outfit interpretations of this artwork, check out the review on Shelbee on the Edge.

Do you remember Holly Hobbie? Do you have a boho or cottagecore element to your personal style? Would you wear cargo and/or utility styles for casual wear? How do you feel about wearing brown in summer? When do you start hankering for fall weather and fall fashion?

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