Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dominatrix Schoolgirl

…that’s what my friends told me I looked like when I slipped this dress over my clothes in the aisle of Valley Thrift.

Black sweater, Charlotte Russe. Plaid jumper, All That Jazz (thrifted and altered). Black tights, Danskin. Black maryjanes, silver bird necklace, and silver/black beaded necklace, Xhilaration. Jet bead necklace, thrifted.

I didn’t care what they said. I still thought the dress looked hot – and I’d been wanting to try the jumper trend. I added the lace edging to make the length more work-appropriate and tried to temper the schoolgirl vibe with black layers and multiple necklaces.

Still, it is Halloween, and I’ve had a few people scrutinize me as if they are wondering if I am wearing a costume. But, hell, that happens most days! Maybe I should wear this out trick-or-treating. Would you give me any candy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Layers of Brown and Orange

Brown velvet jacket, FANG. White blouse, Merona. Orange sweater vest, Cherokee. Brown and white skirt, Andre Oliver (thrifted). Brown tights, Target. Orange slingbacks, Gianni Bini (borrowed from Fashion Lady). Earrings, Express. Orange bag, Target. Headband, Scunci.

All day meeting today, so I tried to dress conservatively (for me!) and in layers. As usual, the temperature in the conference room swung between freezer- and sauna-like. At one point, I actually had to wrap a furry brown scarf around my neck and tuck my hands in my armpits.

I’ve probably said it before, but I love this jacket. It is from the juniors FANG brand, but has surprisingly nice details for an inexpensive ($20) piece. I like the almost riding coat cut, the ruching around the closure, and the attached brooch.

Side view

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yellow!

Gray vest and yellow tee, Charlotte Russe. Black turtleneck, Mossimo. Gray slacks, The Limited. Yellow pumps, Victoria Spenser. Black patent headband, Claire’s. Circular brooch, thrifted.

I kind of love my yellow shoes. I have been keeping my eye open for inexpensive yellow items to add to my wardrobe and wear with the pumps. This tee was on the sale rack, so I didn’t feel too bad about buying it.

I guess I can take “menswear-inspired vest” off of my Fall wish list. I was actually looking for something that nipped in at the waist, but I really liked this cropped version once I tried it on. So, instead of a waistcoat, did I end up with a boobcoat?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

LBD

Leather jacket, Wilson’s Leather. Red silk scarf, flea market in California. Blue dress, Frederick’s of Hollywood. Red purse, swapped. Brown leggings, Danskin. Brown boots, Nine West. Earrings, World Market.

You’ve heard of the Little Black Dress, but how about the Little Blue Dress? I ordered a couple of dresses from Frederick’s of Hollywood on a whim. I’ve been happy with clothing from the other company known primarily for lingerie (Victoria’s Secret), so I thought I’d sample FoH’s wares. I’m not overly impressed. The construction is fairly cheap. I’ll stick to VS.

Dress without the jacket:

Clermont Inn Again

Red sweater dress, Forever 21. Plaid ribbon and faux pearl necklace with crown pendant. Black tights, Danskin. Open-weave leggings, Forever 21. Plaid shoes, Charlotte Russe. Silver purse, thrifted.

Fashion Lady and I went to see the one act version of House of Frankenstein at the Clermont Inn. We were overdressed, but I’m accustomed to that.

If you want details on Fashion Lady’s outfit, you’ll have to visit her blog.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mail Bag: Multiple Looks with One Wrap Dress

I hope you don't mind another question from a fan. I found your blog after seeing you several times on wardrobe remix. You always look fantastic, and I get great ideas for my own outfits from your photos. Let's just say I'm a bit "challenged" when it comes to putting together a creative outfit on my own.

I have a black faux-wrap dress with 3/4 length sleeves. It has an attached, wide piece of fabric (sort of like a belt) that ties on the side. I have a pair of tall, black leather boots with a 3 inch heel that I would love to wear with the dress. Other than a colorful handbag, how can I accessorize to make this look less severe? I want it to look polished, but casual enough to wear to dinner and a movie with my husband.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

-CP


From the questions I’ve received and the keywords used to find my blog, it sounds like many wrap dress fans are looking for ways to create multiple looks with one dress. Here are my suggestions on a few looks you can create with a basic, (faux or not) wrap dress.

Siren. Animal prints and the color red scream “sexy,” so why not wear them both with your basic dress? Try animal-print shoes and a red scarf, or vice versa. Pump up the sex appeal even more with a pair of black fishnets. Va-va-voom!

Pop. As I’ve done with my own navy/white wrap dress, add your favorite accent color. Choose two or three of the following accessories in a matching hue: camisole, shoes, belt (if it doesn’t look strange with the attached, self-belt), headband, scarf, bag. By using different colors and different accessories, you can create many “pop of color” looks.

Wintery. As temperatures drop, try layering a turtleneck under your wrap dress and pulling on your aforementioned boots. A black turtleneck with a black dress is chic, but a colored one will brighten up your outfit at the neck and again at the wrist. If you’re bold, try colored tights for warmth and pizzazz. (I have to admit, now I have some fun ideas for winterizing my own wrap dress)

Business. Again drawing on personal experience, try a short sleeved jacket over the 3/4-sleeved dress. With a pair of pumps, you’re ready for any business casual event.

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas – I know I’m feeling inspired!

On Trial: Blue Bustier

Turtleneck sweater and blue bustier, Charlotte Russe. Denim skirt, Gap (overdyed by me). Black tights, Danskin. Blue peeptoes, Wild Diva. Blue beads, Xhilaration.

Today, this blue, striped bustier from Charlotte Russe is on trial. I’ve found this trial process to be incredibly liberating. More and more often, I’m ready to let go of an item even before I hear from you. Still, I enjoy seeing the poll results and reading your comments.

I bought this last January, after lusting after all the chic bustiers I’d seen in stores during the holiday season. I remember having sizing issues when I tried on a few at Charlotte Russe. I couldn’t fasten the small, but the medium was loose. I figured loose was better, as I planned to wear the bustier over blouses.

I’ve worn it three times, with increasing thickness of the layer beneath. I first wore it over a sheer, lace blouse, then over a thin cotton blouse, and finally over this sweater. It is still too big. I’m also bothered by the fact that the construction isn’t exactly square – the stripes take a jog to one side near the bottom. I’m ready to swap it away, but you have one last chance to save it.

What should I do with the blue bustier?
Keep it
Swap it
Alter it (yeah, right!)
Give it to charity
Other - I'll tell you in the comments
pollcode.com free polls


And yes…I’ve heard your requests for more information on swapping clothing. Expect something in the next couple weeks!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Blouse

Black velvet blazer, Forever 21. Coral blouse, Worthington. Navy skirt with black pinstriping and black lace edging, Moda International. Tights, Danskin. Black patent slingbacks, Audrey Brooke. Brooch, thrifted. Gold watch, Raymond Weil.

How many times have I worn this blouse? Let me count the ways…
April 17th, Green Linen Skirt
May 9th, Cameo
June 27th, Coral and Lime
Sept 24th, Navy and Coral
Oct 9th, Cinnabar
…and again today!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Totally Schoolgirl

Cream, V-neck sweater, American Rag. Green satin blouse, Express. Plaid skirt, Lloyd (thrifted). Cream tights, Jonathan Aston (via Sock Dreams). Red pumps, X Appeal. Red beads, Xhilaration. Red purse, swap.

Perhaps the schoolgirl tights with the schoolgirl skirt are a bit over the top, but life is short; take fashion risks! Black tights would have been so predictable and boring

I placed my first Sock Dreams order last week. I go through a lot of tights and knee high socks during the winter. I wear fairly conservative tights (this pair is pretty “wild” for me), but I love wearing crazy, striped socks with my boots. No one but me knows they are there. I like Sock Dreams' selection, free shipping (because I spent WAY too much money), and super fast order processing.

I’m wearing the Jonathan Aston Modal Mix Tights. Sock Dreams is now out of the ivory color, but black is still available. If you order them, know that they run large. According to the size chart, I should have ordered a “C,” but I got a “B” anyway. Even the “B” is starting to sag and bag, so I should have ordered an “A.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Volume on Volume

Click for a larger view


Innerwear (center and right): Black and white tweed trapeze jacket, Apostrophe. Orange dress, The Limited. Black tights, Danskin. Black patent maryjanes, Xhilaration. Cinnabar earrings, Into the Fray.
Outerwear (left): Velvet scarf, souvenir from Holland. Black velvet ruched gloves, TJ Maxx. Giant black bag, Wilson’s Leather. Roses umbrella, Skymall.

I wore a voluminous jacket over a voluminous dress, but I didn’t feel lost in fabric. I think the trick was that my ankles, calves, and wrists (my three slimmest features) were clearly visible. It also helps that the dress is swingy and clingy, so that my shape is defined when I move.

This is the giant black bag I take to work with me every day. It’s big enough to hold my gym clothes, lunch (as if I ever take lunch!), and all the other things I can’t live without while away from home. I bought it three years ago from the Wilson’s Leather Outlet. One of the leather handles tore this summer and I had both of them replaced at a luggage repair shop. Now it’s good as new!

Over-Dyeing Denim

Dark denim is trendy and slimming. However, if your denim wardrobe consists of entirely faded or stonewashed denim, you don’t need to buy new jeans. For about $5 a pair, you can overdye them at home.

Based on the recommendation of a Dylon promotional pamphlet, I use one package each of black and indigo Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye to darken my denim. Each packet dyes 1/2 lb (8 oz) dry fabric, so the two packets will usually only dye one pair of adult jeans. This dye can be used on cotton, linen, ramie and rayon.

Materials required:
1 package black Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye
1 package indigo Dylon Permanent Fabric Dye
Warm water
1/2 C salt
Bucket large enough for the fabric to move in freely when filled with water
Empty, clean soda bottle (2 Liter) or milk jug (1/2 gallon or larger)
Rubber gloves
Stirring implement
Timer

Below you’ll find the instructions from the dye packet (italicized), along with photos and my notes.

INSTRUCTIONS. Wear rubber gloves.
Really – wear rubber gloves. Otherwise, you’ll dye your skin and it is difficult to remove.

1. Weigh dry fabric. Wash thoroughly, even if new, to remove stains or sizing which may not be visible to the naked eye. Leave damp.
I don’t have a kitchen scale, but using the crude method of weighing myself with and without the skirt on a bathroom scale, I figured that the skirt weighed approximately 12 ounces, dry.

2. Dissolve contents of this pack in 4 cups of warm water, stirring thoroughly.
I empty the 2 packets into the soda bottle or milk jug and add the 8 cups of warm water. Then, I cap the container and shake to thoroughly mix the dye.

3. Fill a flat-bottomed bowl or stainless steel sink with enough warm water for fabric to move freely.
As you’ll be able to tell from the photos, I use an empty, clean kitty litter bucket for dyeing. We have plenty of these stored in the basement and I’ve found that the dye doesn’t stain or even stick to the plastic, so I can use the bucket for other (non-food) purposes later.

4. Add 4 Tbsp salt to bowl. Stir to dissolve.
As I’ve doubled the “recipe,” I added 8 Tbsp (1/2 C) salt to the bucket of warm water. I use a paint stick to stir.

5. Add the dissolved dye, stirring well.
Not only is it easy to dissolve the dye in a capped container, but it is easy to pour too! I use my handy-dandy paint stick, again, to stir.







6. Place damp, unfolded fabric into bowl.
The fabric looks dark here because it is wet. I promise that I didn’t pull a switcheroo on you.







7. Dye for one hour. Agitate constantly for first 15 minutes. Stir regularly for another 45 minutes, keeping the fabric submerged.
I like to use gloved hands to agitate the garment. Using a kneading motion, I ensure that the dye is thoroughly worked into the fabric. After the first 15 minute period (constant agitation), I set the timer again (for 15 minutes) and poke at/stir the fabric with the paint stick when the timer goes off. I then repeat twice more. I wouldn’t call this “regular” stirring, but it seems to work well enough.

8. Rinse fabric in cold water until water runs clear. Wash separately in hot water with usual washing detergent. For wool and silk, rinse and wash in lukewarm water.
The rinsing step is a real bitch. I’ve haven’t kept track of the number of rinsing required, but I’d guess that it is somewhere around thirty.

9. Dry away from direct heat and sunlight.
We have a clothesline in our basement, so I have an ideal place to dry the finished product.

10. Wash garment separately for first few washes to remove any excess dye.
I add the dyed jeans to my black wash loads. I figure that any excess dye won't negatively affect black clothing. To maintain the dark color for as long as possible, I wash the denim inside out and hang to dry.

As you can see, the result is a dark, inky blue. Admittedly, it is a bit of a flatter finish than you’d find on purchased dark jeans. In my experience (with dyeing four different denim items), the stitching does not absorb the dye. I believe that is because the thread is usually a polyester blend. The labels sometimes absorb the dye and sometimes do not. Again, it depends on the fiber content.

I’ll be wearing my “new” skirt on Friday!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Flight Attendant

Plum shirt, New York & Co. Green Pucci-esque scarf, Gap(?) Gray skirt, Moda International. Lime green pumps, Colin Stuart. Circular gold-tone brooch, thrifted. Gold watch Raymond Weil.

I feel a little like a flight attendant today. Actually, I get that vibe anytime I tie a short kerchief around my neck. I wouldn’t make it as a stewardess on even the shortest flight in these heels, though!

The purple and green combination was inspired by Fashion Lady’s ensemble last week. She isn’t wearing a green scarf, but the lampshade behind her (at chest height) gave me the scarf inspiration

Close up of the Pucci-esque scarf:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Almost on Trial: Denim Dress

Denim Dress, London Jean. Black wrap sweater, Bloch. Silver bird necklace, Xhilaration. Black slip, thrifted. Yellow pumps, Victoria Spenser.

I’ve had this dress since 2002 and this is the third time I’ve worn it. I wore it to our HoF cast party because I wanted to put in on trial, but eight hours in this dress reminded me of why I don’t like it; it’s stiff, tight, and uncomfortable. Some might even call it “armor-like.” I’m putting it up for swap. Just in case you’re interested in seeing the dress without the layering, here are front and side shots:







Friday, October 19, 2007

Long Time, No Jacket

Multicolored tweed jacket, The Limited. White blouse, Worthington. Dark denim, Express (overdyed by me). Yellow shoes, Victoria Spenser. Opal and silver earrings, Three Rivers Mall. Pink and orange purse, Preston & York.

I haven’t worn this jacket since January. I wore it so much the first two years I had it (purchased in 2004), that I was burned out on this piece. Maybe I’m ready to give it regular rotation through my work wear again.

I plan on over-dyeing one of my denim skirts this weekend. I will photo-document the process and share it with you next week!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Transitional Velvet

Cream lace blouse, H&M (via swap). Burgundy velvet dress, New York & Co. Black belt, Steve Madden. Black, patent slingbacks, Audrey Brooke. Metal and enamel earrings, World Market. Gold watch, Raymond Weil.

It’s raining and cool enough that I can finally wear some of my transitional pieces, like this velvet dress.

I received a “last chance” magazine from Chadwick’s. I’ve never ordered anything from this company, but I am tempted by the 40% off coupon and the below dress. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. The collar reminds me overly much of some kind of weird coat-dress, but I love the sleeves, empire waist, and the green color it is available in. It’s about $24 with my discount.




















Should I order the Chadwick's dress?
Yes
No
Other - I'll tell you in the comments

pollcode.com free polls

Board Meeting

Navy swing cardigan, Mossimo. Green, long-sleeved tee, Forever 21. Rust corduroy pants, J Crew. Boots, Playhouse. Leaf filigree earrings, Claire’s Boutique.

We had a board meeting for The Wyoming Players this evening. I’m the secretary. We have plans for a really exciting fundraiser - $50 headshots! Details to be posted soon on The Wyoming Players website.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hump Day

Black, short-sleeved, velvet blazer, Forever 21. Leopard-print cami, Express. Green skirt, USMC Service uniform (with lace added by me). Black pumps, Michelle D. Amber beads, Body Central. Gold watch, Raymond Weil. Purse, Apt 9.

Hurrah! It’s hump day and we’re halfway through the week. Friday cannot get here soon enough.

Neopolitin

Cream sweater, American Rag. Pink tank (barely visible), New York and Co. Brown pants, Moda International. Brown pumps, Mossimo. Brown beads, Kohl’s. Pink, heart-shaped pendant, Girlshop. Brown bag, Kenneth Cole. Pink scarf, from swap.

The colors don’t show up well here, and the pink accents are negligible, but I was inspired by the Neopolitin ice cream mix of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla.

I went to lunch with my friend Dee today and she referred to me having a 1920’s look. I asked her about the comment and she said that I have a style of an earlier time. The closest she could describe it as was “flapper-like.” I had never considered myself as having an era before.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mail Bag: Purple Shoes

Reader mail, reader mail, ding, ding, ding!

Hi my name is April. I fell in love with your blog a few months ago and have duplicated a few of your outfits. I like to step outside of the box a little so I bought some Nine West purple faux croc pumps this weekend. I fell in love with them and I usually build my outfits around my shoes but, I don't wear much purple at all and I absolutely had to have them. Any ideas on how to put an outfit together without being too matchy matchy and have my shoes be the focal point?

Thanks for your help.


Hi April. Thanks for loving my blog. It loves you too! And I cannot tell you how incredibly flattered I am that you have copied my outfits.

Even though I’m not a purple fan, your shoes sound really cute. Your question is a little difficult because, the way I see it, your shoes will either match your outfit (“matchy matchy”) or not (and become “the focal point”). However, I do think you can tone down the degree to which people will stare at your non-matching* pumps by carefully choosing the colors you pair them with.

Neutrals. Pairing purple with gray is both current and mellow. A simple gray skirt, white blouse, and purple shoes looks eclectic, but still classic. Depending on the shade of purple, you may want to try finishing off an all-black outfit with the purple shoes. If it is a deep shade, it will take a second glance before someone discerns the color difference. Even brown can look great with purple – consider chocolate and grape or khaki and lavender. I’d avoid pairing the purple with mostly white outfits, if you don’t want to draw attention to your feet.

Colors. Leaf green and mustard yellow look incredible with purple accents. If I didn’t look terrible in both mustard yellow and purple, you would see me dressing in that combination on a regular basis (with a shot of gray!) Currently, purple paired with fuchsia is hot, but, honestly, it reminds me of something I would have worn in 5th grade. To avoid a clown-like look, I’d stay away from pairing orange, bright yellow, or red with your shoes. Finally, blue and purple are a little too close on the color wheel to wear together.

Patterns. Do you have any patterned items in your closet with just a hint of purple? Your shoes can be a fun way to pick out the colors in the pattern without being overly matchy. Sort through your patterned scarves, blouses, and even jewelry to see if you’ve overlooked something. (If you responded to the purple shoes, chances are you’ve picked up an item with purple in it before.)

Metallics. The sort of metal you pair with your purples can really change the mood of your outfit. With gold accents, purple aquires a regal air. With silver, it comes off as cooler, and maybe a bit punk. Consider the image you want to present when you choose your accessories.

Happy accessorizing! I’d love to see a photo of your purple-shoes-accented outfit!

*but they should match each other!

Monday, October 15, 2007

81 Degrees in Oct

Black sweater, Ann Taylor Loft. Plaid skirt, Tulle. Black patent maryjanes, Xhilaration. Faux bead necklace with medallion, Newport News.

The incredible heat continues. It is supposed to cool down later this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Isabelle Channing

Green gown, Morgan and Co. Earrings from my wedding.

This is my second act gown for House of Frankenstein. Our costumer found it on Ebay and the color looks fabulous on stage. I like it so much that I bought it from her. I figure I’ll wear it in another show or to a future ACT banquet.

Some less awkward poses, also featuring my castmates, below.













Isabelle Channing and The Phantom of the Opera


Isabelle Channing, Countess Ilona Bathory, and Baroness Frankenstein

We have three performances remaining. Come see us!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tweedy Trapeze

Cropped, black and white tweed jacket, Apostrophe. Red sweater, thrifted. Dark denim, Express (overdyed by me). Ugly black booties, Life Stride. Earrings, Liz Claiborne.

I bought this jacket in early September and the wait to wear it has been KILLING ME. It’s from Sears, which I think has great deals on work wear. I like their Apostrophe line. I bought another Apostrophe jacket last winter and I’ve been pleased with it as well.

You Look Fab has a nice article on wearing trapeze jackets like this. All the styling tips I’ve read have advised a long, lean layer beneath the jacket to balance out the volume and short length. In my opinion, bottoms should also be slim, but I’ve seen boxy jackets styled with full skirts in Lucky (October or November issue). I suspect that only looks good on very thin bodies. If you wear the jacket as outerwear and add gloves, they should reach the sleeves. I thought I’d have a problem adding a neck scarf over the sweater and jacket collars, but a loose wrap was just right.



Woven red scarf, World Market. Black velvet ruched gloves, TJ Maxx.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fallerized

Brown, cowl neck sweater vest, Worthington. Orange tee, Merona. Curtain skirt, George. Brown boots, Nine West. Watch, Mudd. Orange resin earrings, World Market.

I’ve always thought of this skirt as a summer item, but its heavy weight makes it suitable for fall as well. Playing up the orange tones and introducing chocolate brown makes the summery pattern seem more autumnal.

Speaking of fall, my November issue of Lucky arrived this week. I think it may be my favorite issue ever. Not only is there a page on different ways to wear menswear vests, but there is also a whole “month of outfits” created from one wardrobe. I have a feeling I’ll be cutting that section out to keep before retiring the issue to the gym next month.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parisienne

Green corduroy jacket, Tommy Hilfiger (thrifted). Chenille beret, vintage. Black scarf, costume piece from Fiddler on the Roof. Black, long-sleeved tee, striped tank, and denim, Mossimo. Pleather cowboy boots, Playhouse. Black bag, George.

I didn’t need another corduroy jacket (I already had three) nor another in green (one is enough), but I couldn’t resist this jacket when I found it at Valley Thrift. It’s a little loose, but that just allows for more layering possibilities this fall. I’m afraid you’ll be seeing a lot of it, and this beret.

On Trial: Collared Pink Shirt

Navy tank, Merona (I wear this almost once a week! I *heart* navy.) Pink striped shirt, Waterback. Gray skirt, Eddie Bauer. Silver belt, Luxury Divas (via Amazon.com). Silver peeptoes, BCBG Girls. Pink rhinestone brooch, some department store. Silver-tone watch, Gucci.

I haven’t worn this oxford shirt (pink with raised, white pinstripes) in over a year. I bought it when I lived Okinawa. I think it is the largest size the shop carried, but the shirt barely fits my massive frame. Seriously, if I flex my bicep, the fabric strains. (I always felt like a giant when I lived there.) Why do I keep it? I guess because it’s pink, and I like pink. But I do have two other collared, pink shirts – one with short sleeves and the other is a long-sleeved bodysuit. Is this cute enough to keep with my pink shirt collection? Is it obscenely tight?

























What should I do with the pink shirt?
Keep it
Swap it
Alter it
Give it to charity
Other - I'll tell you in the comments

pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cinnabar

Navy and white wrap dress, Merona. Coral blouse, Worthington. Brown linen blazer, Forever 21. Brown peeptoe pumps, Antonio Melani. Cinnabar earrings, Into the Fray. Gold watch, Raymond Weil.

I have been obsessed with navy, brown, and coral lately. In fact, I wore this same color combo a few weeks ago.

I purchased these earrings from Ambika’s Etsy shop (along with my corny bracelet). Perhaps it’s an offshoot of my current love of reddish orange, but I find myself hopelessly attracted to cinnabar jewelry.

Most Worn

Flipping through my Year One photoset, you’ll notice a lot of color. Upon closer look, though, you’ll see that I tend to anchor my outfits with the same basic neutrals, again and again. I looked through all of my workday outfits for the first year and counted the pants, skirt, dress(es), and blazers I wore the most.

Pants. No big surprise here. The pants I wore the most are a simple black pair from Kohl’s. They are the house brand (Apt 9) and cost maybe $20. They are an ideal anchor for my more creative ensembles. I actually wore dark brown pants twice more during the year than the black (12 vs 10), but the dark brown pants are two different pair (both from Victoria’s Secret). I had to replace my old pair last spring.

Skirt. I haven’t worn my bootie skirt in a while, as it is more of a fall/winter piece, but I’m ready to bring it back! While the cut and details are unusual, the colors are basic black and white. It is being sold again this year in the Victoria’s Secret catalog. The runners up are two ridiculously expensive skirts from Talbot’s (the green tweed skirt I wore yesterday and a rose-print linen skirt, both around $100), a khaki maxi skirt from the Casual Corner clearance rack, a brown tweedy skirt from Newport News ($15), my “curtain” skirtfrom Walmart ($15-ish), and a brown suede skirt from Target ($25). The suede skirt was a great deal, but I’ve never had it cleaned because it costs more to clean it than I paid for it! I just brush away surface stains and remove any grease with baby powder. With the exception of the green tweed skirt and the “curtain” skirt, my oft worn skirts are black, black and white, or shades of brown. (It was hard to calculate a “most worn” skirt because I have SO many that even the winner was only worn six times.)

Dress. I wore this strapless brown dress from Newport News at least eight times over the past twelve months. That’s a great cost-per-wear for a $15 dress. It looks terrible on its own, but it is a super layering piece. (I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of it without something layered on top.) My navy and white Merona wrap dress from Target is a very close second.

Blazer. I wear fewer blazers in the summer, but they are an absolute staple during the cooler months. My favorite blazer is a black, short-sleeved velvet version from Forever 21. In fact, all my well-worn blazers were inexpensive. I paid the most for a multi-colored tweed blazer from The Limited (around $100) and only wore it four times last year (but I wore it to death the year prior).

I ran out of energy to count wearings of camis, sweaters, shoes, etc, but you are free to do so yourself by viewing my What I Wore Today – Year One set on Flickr. You’ll see that while I have a few (okay, many) colorful, funky pieces, the basics are just as ordinary as anyone else’s.

Monday, October 08, 2007

First Blogoversary

Green cardigan, Moda International. White lace blouse, Newport News. Green tweedy skirt, Talbot’s. Khaki slingbacks, Linea Paolo. Silver-tone watch, Gucci.

It’s my blogoversary! It was (roughly) one year ago that I began this photo-documentation project. I’ve joked that in year two I will simply repeat the outfits from year one. However, I only plan on repeating this outfit, “Limey,” on my anniversary date.

One year later, I think I’ve become both a more adventurous and careful dresser. I feel compelled to come up with something unique and interesting every day. When you know 500 people each day will be checking you out, you tend to take a bit more care choosing your clothing.

I’ve learned a few photography tricks as well. I’ve figured out the best lighting, camera settings, and backgrounds to bring out the details and colors of my clothing. I’m careful to not cut off my feet – not only are people interested in seeing shoes, feet make you look taller and slimmer. I’ve also experimented with flattering poses (like “the slink,” shown here) and facial expressions. I have to laugh at some of the early photos, where I look so very uncomfortable.

Finally, it’s been fun to look through my archives to see how I change. My tan fades, my weight fluctuates, and my hair color and length varies. Thankfully, the camera flash erases most of the new wrinkles and the resolution isn’t fine enough for you to pick out the gray hairs.

Happy anniversary!


Limey – Year One and Two

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pedicure

Chenille beret, vintage. Green top, Forever 21. Burgundy velveteen mini, Delia*s. Brown, open weave tights, Forever 21. Gold leaf earrings, Claire’s Boutique. Gold watch, Raymond Weil.

This is an outfit of necessity. I had to wear the beret to cover my hat hair and a mini with footless tights seemed to leave the best access for a pedicure. I’m aware that I look somewhat bizarre, but I don’t really care. That’s the great thing about getting older – what other people think starts to matter less and less.

Layer It

I remember the first bit of advice I read on layering. It was in Seventeen magazine. The article broke down a layered look, one piece at a time. First the gorgeous model donned an adorable tank, then a trendy tee, next a lovely long-sleeved layer, and finally a hip jacket. It was all topped with an of-the-moment hat. I found the article terribly frustrating because my own wardrobe was so sparse (and I was so incredibly awkward). If I had four cute tops, there was no way I’d wear them all at once! I had to stretch out the few things I did have so that I didn’t repeat more than once every two weeks.

Fifteen years or so later, I have plenty of clothing to layer, but why do it? Just because Seventeen (and Lucky and In Style, etc) says so?

If you ask an outdoorsy, sporty person, they’ll advise you to layer in order to better regulate your temperature. This is a fashion blog, so you won’t hear me going on about the merits of Capilene, Gore-Tex, and polyester fleece. I layer for other purposes. My favorite reason for layering is to add color and texture to an outfit. Layering can also change your silhouette. It can make an awkward piece work. And it can keep you warm.

I’ve pulled together a few of my guiding principles when it comes to layering.

Highlight the Best (and Hide the Rest). It seems everyone has some clothing item in their closet that would be perfect except that it’s too short, it doesn’t fasten properly, it has an ink-stain, etc. Layering is a perfect way to highlight the parts of that garment that you like, and hide those you don’t. For example, I have a red silk wrap top with flutter sleeves and a ruffled neckline. However, it’s much too short and the wrapping looks awkward. By layering it under another top, I get to show off the ruffles and color I like so much and cover the rest. You can also use layers to cover skin that you wouldn’t like exposed. Wearing a cami under a low-cut top or tights under a short skirt can make you feel more comfortable and adds dimension to your outfit.

Short over Long, Small over Large. Traditionally, one thinks of layering so that the outer piece is the largest (e.g. longest arms, longest length, etc.) But if you want to show off that bottom layer, think of putting short over long and small over large. A short sleeved jacket over a 3/4 sleeve top may not be your first instinct, but it looks fresh. A shirt that’s too short for modern low-slung pants can be the perfect accent over a super long tank. I’ve seen folks on Wardrobe Remix layer shorter skirts over long, but I haven’t been able to successfully pull that one off myself!

Do the Vest Thing. The prevalence of the vest (sleeveless shell) look may not be as much a classic as a trend, but I’m onboard! I love the look of just about any sleeveless top (except lingerie-strap camisoles) over another sleeved shirt. You can layer on knit shells (like the kind that come with a twin set), tanks, or even strapless tops to create a different look. The results can be anything from preppy to punky. Doing “the vest thing” is an easy way to introduce another color or texture into an outfit. In this photo, I’m also “hiding the rest” as the coral shirt doesn’t have a pretty shirttail or tuck in nicely.

Great Lays. Some pieces are better for layering than others. My favorite layering items are sheer blouses, sleeveless dresses, camisoles, cardigans, jackets, and vests. I love sheer blouses. You can layer two sheers together or with a solid (over or under). I have three lace blouses and they make regular appearances in my outfits. Sleeveless dresses, layered over just about anything, are hot right now. They can be worn a la carte for summer and with a turtleneck, thick tights, and boots for winter. Like vests, though, I predict that this is a trendy look and not likely to be in style for more than a few years. If you like the look, though, enjoy it while it’s here. The layering possibilities of camisoles, cardigans and jackets are pretty obvious. These are basics that you will find yourself reaching for again and again for both practicality (coverage) and aesthetics. I don’t mention skirts here because, again, I haven’t had good experiences with wearing more than one skirt at once. I will note that a cute, current layering trend is to wear an apron over your clothing. It adds color, a skirted silhouette, and (often) pockets to your ensemble. It’s a bit kitschy, but, if you can pull it off, go for it!


Graygoosie models an apron outfit

Dress over Jeans? This is a hotly contested look. I like to layer a dress over jeans. Other people think it is just AWFUL. If you do wear a dress over jeans, keep in mind a few guidelines. Dark, slim jeans and a shirt/coat style dress are easiest (as pictured here). I strongly advise against wearing a any dress longer than knee length. The effect should be similar to a tunic over leggings, only a bit more structured. It’s a trendy look and will probably look terribly dated in a few years.

Watch your Waistline. When piling on the layers you can easily end up looking like the Michelin Man (a la Daddy Likey). To avoid over-bulking, keep an eye on your waistline. Where on your waistline do your layers hit? Do they compete or do they complement one another? Be sure that you keep some definition. If you wear a boxy top and a baggy bottom, add a belt or leave some space between the two items so that you don’t lose your shape. Sometimes buttoning or unbuttoning your top can help define your waist. I used both the buttoning technique and a thin belt to define my waist while wearing the pictured multi-layered outfit.

Accessories are Layers. I admit that I’m a bit of a layering addict. I went through some severe withdrawals during our especially hot and humid summer - until I began to treat accessories as layers. You can pile on necklaces, belts, and scarves to add interest, but minimal heat, to an outfit. I initially thought a necklace and scarf together were a bit too much to drape around one neck, but I’ve since changed my mind. As the weather cools, tights are a fun layering option. As they are currently so very popular, you can find neat textures and patterns in the stores. I’ve even layered tights (open weave over solids) when it got really cold (also pictured in the Watch Your Waistline photo).


Plan Ahead. Good layering doesn’t “just happen.” I do not achieve my layered masterpieces by putting on something simple and then adding bits until I’m fabulous. Sometimes I have a good idea of what my outfit will look like before I begin putting it together, but, more often than not, it is an organic process in which I discard more than I keep. If you don’t mind wearing the same outfit again and again, consider “planning ahead” an investment in your future look book. Create a few layered ensembles, take a Polaroid, and tape it inside your closet to repeat. If, like me, you’d rather try something different every day, planning ahead has to happen on a daily or weekly basis. It sounds vain, it sounds time consuming, and it might even sound boring, but I am a convert to weekly planning. Anytime between Friday and Sunday night I plan five work-day outfits for the coming week, to include accessories. I hang complete outfits up on a single hanger (if possible) and set out the shoes and jewelry. Come Monday, all I have to do is decide which one I want to wear. (I also use a printed 10-day weather forecast as a planning tool. Yes, I’m anal.)

As always, have fun! If you’re new to layering, try it with casual outfits before you wear a layered confection out to dinner with your future in-laws. Only by experimenting will you come up with novel combinations. I think that you’ll find that your wardrobe seems much bigger, rather than smaller, as you find ways to wear things that have long sat neglected. You’ll have hits and you’ll have misses, but you will also be learning what works for you and your clothing inventory. If anyone gives you grief, tell them you’re just being practical – you wanted to be prepared for any climate eventuality!