Saturday, January 21, 2017

The longest vest

Almost a year ago, I got an idea that I would like an old full-length button-front dress to wear as a vest. This wasn't really my own idea; I saw some bloggers do it and thought it was a cool way to restyle un-stylish clothes.

The idea was a long time in the fulfillment, as I had to wait until I found a suitable dress for a reasonable price at the thrift store. "Reasonable" was not 7.99$, but after months of searching, when I finally found this one, bright red and festooned with black and white roses at that price, I got it anyway. I'm sure it was at least 25% off (because I never shop at the thrift store when there's not a sale going on), so there was that. It took me several more months before I was actually able to wear it (Alphabet dressing getting in the way, among other things).

The first time I tried to make an outfit with it, I wore black pants and a black shirt under it, and it looked so horrible, I gave up and stuffed it back into the closet for a couple weeks. I thought I might have to wait until summer when I could wear it without sleeves underneath.

But then I gave it one more chance, replacing the pants with a short skirt, and it instantly looked better! (I also tied the adjustable tie at the back to make it fit a little less loosely on top, which helped). 

Since temperatures are only in the 40's today, I had to wear over-the-knee boots, but even with my legs 90% covered up, that little swathe of thigh between the skirt and the boots makes all the difference that the pants just couldn't achieve. Weird how these things work.

Anyway, I look pretty dramatic when I walk down the hallways with my oversized vest billowing behind me like a cape. It makes me feel confident and excited about life. So I'm glad I decided to wear this outfit for "Friday Funday!" 
Here's how it looks when it's not billowing like a cape:

You might think this post is all about me and my impeccable thrifting sense, but there's so much more going on behind the scenes. Let's zoom out, shall we?

This creeper is what I have to put up with every time I take a picture of myself at home! That is, unless I make him hold the camera. Then I get nothing but close-ups of my boobs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fade to lavender

With Thrift Store Formals and Winery Excursions galore, I've been on an outfit roll!

But with the arrival of my first day of work after the long weekend, I felt my momentum "roll" to a stop. Dressing for work is, by nature, much less exciting. I needed to inject some interest into my work clothes!
I decided to take advantage of the 50+ degree forecast yesterday and wear something that doesn't cover my legs (Gasp! What an adventure!), and that ended up being my trusty purple pleather pencil skirt (almost as much fun to say as it is to wear)!

I'd previously tested the skirt out with a slightly lighter purple shirt, so I went that route and tried to decide on shoes. I was tempted to go with still more purple, but enough is enough after all—besides, my purple boots only go up to mid-calf, and it wasn't as warm as all that!

It occurred to me that with a dark purple skirt and a light purple shirt, I had sort of a gradient going, so it might be cool if I went even darker on my legs. Black boots were the answer! The now-3-level gradient inspired me to find something even lighter purple to wear above my shirt, and my scarf collection did not disappoint. To top it all off (in a  literal sense this time!) I found a pair of pastel purple heart earrings, which actually look completely clear in some light.
So my overall outfit goes black, dark purple, medium purple, light purple, extremely light purple! I'm a walking gradient, only slightly marred by the hair, which remains tenaciously green in spite of having last been dyed over 2 months ago. That's enough, hair. It's time to move on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It was Martin Luther King Junior Day, and the time for trying to do something fun on our day off that is normally a day at work was upon us!

My boyfriend had heard from his sister that she wanted to go to a winery, so he picked out a place that the three of us could go for a tasting—Stone Tower Winery.

Naturally, to an Unfashionista, the only point of going out is to get dressed up. so I picked out the snazziest outfit that my winter wardrobe could cough up.

Mainly, I wanted to wear the ridiculously flared jeans I'd picked up just a couple weeks ago, so I picked out an outfit that worked around them. Annoyingly, not only are they so flared you could fit two legs in them side by side, they are also so long, you could nearly fit two people in them top to bottom. At some point, I'll have to hem them, but today I just wore them with my tallest platform booties and hoped for the best. Typically a winery is a little too rustic (read, possessed of too many rocky paths and strange surfaces) for a pair of 4-inch wedges, but we do what we must when we wish to be fashionable. Fortunately I did not fall over at any point during the day.

In addition to wanting to wear my flashy flares for some time, I'd also been feeling a notable lack of hats in my daily attire. Today, I decided, it was time to change. I had a new wool (or rather, wooly-looking fleece) hat with a red crown and black brim that I'd picked up for 3 dollars in the summer which was desperately in need of being worn.

To make it look sensible with the overall look, I added a burgundy sweater, and then tied everything together with some similarly hued lip stain. In the epitome of appropriateness, I'd picked an almost entirely burgundy / merlot / bordeaux-colored outfit, for a trip to a winery! In the epitome of irony, I only drink white wine!

Today also marks the day that I first got to wear the velvet choker that I made for myself. Lacking any hardware for assembling a choker, I simply used Velcro to hold the two ends together, and no one was any the wiser—or if they were, they wisely didn't mention it.

Um, we brought the dogs, so that should explain the white hairs all over the brim of my black hat!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thrift Store Formal

On Sunday morning, I got up and was dutifully scrolling through my emails when I noticed something pop up on my twitter feed. Thrift Store Formal. Tonight. For free!

Two of my favorite things are shopping at thrift stores and getting all decked out in formal attire, so I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I had to go to this event.

I had the perfect dress already—a glitter-coated dress in two graduated shades of blue, complete with a frilly side seam and a weird ankle length that flatters no one. I had picked it up on eBay because I'm a sucker for glitter and gradients, but had no idea where I was going to wear it without looking like a fool...until I learned about the Thrift Store Formal.

My boyfriend and I gussied ourselves up, myself in everything glittery I could get my hands on, including a pink evening bag with the $2.99 tags still on (I thought that was a nicely tacky touch), and headed to the Dew Drop Inn..

Of course, when I actually got there, I was instantly intimidated by the seedy vibe. From the outside, it looked like the kind of place gambling addicts go to die. The interior was only slightly improved by the flock of 2-year-olds toddling around. I was out of my element, but my boyfriend claims to love dive bars, so we stayed until 10:00. Still, we left before we could even enter ourselves into the "king and queen" contest.

Oh well, at least I got to wear this awkwardly sized and outlandishly sparkly dress, because I don't think I could ever proudly wear it anywhere else.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Today's post is a tale of how I turned two subpar pairs of shoes into some slightly better but still less-than-stellar pairs of shoes!

In it, you will learn:
  • How to turn tall boots into booties
  • How to shorten an unnecessarily long zipper
  • How to make fabric boots fit tighter

How to turn tall boots into booties

Let's start with the pair you saw a month ago, in my "Refashioned" outfit.

They started out a pair of mid-calf boots that began peeling and flaking almost the first time I wore them. I tried to disguise some of the bare spots with a similar color of paint, but by two autumns, they were too ugly to wear.

However, since it was mostly the shaft of the boot that was damaged, and since ankle boots seem to be especially popular this winter, I thought I'd give them a second chance at life.

The shaft was constructed from a different piece of material as the upper of the boot, so I left the uppers intact and just cut off all but about an inch of the shaft.

There was a pleather outer layer and a fabric liner layer. I folded the outer layer down to get it out of the way, then cut off the inner layer (here seen sticking up) at that height.

I used my E6000 glue, and folded the outer layer over to the inside of the inner layer.
To get the fabric to lay flat, I had to cut a few notches in it at various points around the perimeter. 
I clamped it with binder clips while waiting for it to dry.

The finished product shows some imperfections (and boy, is the glued area itchy!) but I'll be happy enough to use these boots for at least one more season.

How to shorten an unnecessarily long zipper

Next up! My thigh-high brown fabric boots. I've had these for a couple years as well (since May of 2014, to be exact) but I've never been extremely happy with the fit.

I only have one clear picture of them in their pre-altered state, and in that one you can see that the zipper – somewhat inexplicably – goes almost up to the knee, despite the boots being made of a stretch fabric with plenty of room for the fattest of feet. If you know anything about zippers, you know that they tend to bunch and bulge, and the zipper on these boots made me look rather like I was walking around on a set of troll legs. 

For years, I put up with it because I was afraid of altering the boots in a way that would damage them, but finally this fall, I decided to take the plunge.

I used my seam ripper to remove the zipper from all but the bottom 6 inches. 
Then I carefully closed up the opening with my sewing machine. Sewing the inside of boots is really difficult, so this time I decided to take the easy way out and make a modified French seam. I just turned the raw edges to the inside, and then sewed over them on the outside. My seam is quite a bit uneven, but it still looks better than it did before!

Once I was certain I wouldn't need the zipper any more, I cut it off at the top of the ankle and hand-stitched the top of it closed.

The finished product
The zipper was repaired, but there was still a problem—the boots wouldn't stay up!

I'd previously sewn the inside of the back seam to create a narrower shaft (one reason I know it's difficult to sew the inside of boots!), but there was still a good bit of slack which I didn't necessarily want to lose (I might want to wear these boots over jeans which would require them to be a bit looser, and also the slouchy look helps disguise my unrefined sewing).

My solution: hidden rubber bands!

How to make fabric boots tighter

This is a reversible no-sew solution to a common problem!
Put a safety pin into one side of the boot (on the inside), pinning over one side of a rubber band. Then do the same thing on the other side.
Now there's a rubber band running right across the top of the boot shaft.

When you put the boot on, make sure the whole rubber band goes behind your leg,* taking up some of the slack and elasticizing the top of the boot. It makes the shaft fit tighter, and the rubber adds a little bit of friction to help keep it from sliding down! 

You can adjust the fit by moving the safety pins. Put them closer to the front of the boot to make it tighter, or move them closer to the back to make it looser.

Success! My boot is staying put!
This isn't a perfect solution; I still experience some sliding even after tightening the fit on both boots. But it does delay the process, forcing you to tug at your boots slightly less often!

*Before I figured out a better way, I used to poke my leg right through the middle of the rubber band, but as you can imagine, wrapping a standard rubber band around your thigh is not always comfortable and resulted in a lot of broken rubber bands. So I don't recommend that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anxiously awaiting the spring

Can you believe I haven't posted an OOTD since December!? There are many reasons for this lapse, among them being: I was busy writing my year in review; I was traveling to Texas for Christmas; and I was creatively exhausted after a month of dressing for the alphabet. But the biggest reason for certain was simply: It's too darn cold!

The past week or so, the temperatures have hovered around 30°F (about as cold as it ever gets in my part of Maryland), and I have lacked anything resembling the motivation to find outfits that somehow look cute yet still manage to cover any hint of exposed skin—let alone the motivation to get undressed and try them on in my frigid house! Since the day after Christmas, I've basically been sporting a uniform of pants, boots, and sweaters.

Yesterday, with the heater on and a little free time to do some planning, I vowed to find something that I'd be proud to wear for Monday. I started with this basic grey sweater dress, since it's new, long and warm, and neutral enough for some artsy layering. Sure enough, my teal ribbed vest looked pretty cute over the top of it, and a woven faux-leather belt looked cute over them both!

What to wear to cover up the bottom third of my legs proved to be a tough decision, but ultimately I went for a newish thrifted pair of black slouch boots—they hit just at the bottom hem of my skirt, to keep out the worst of the wind, but still allow for a little gap of skin so one can see I don't have elephant legs.

Try as I might to be creative and fun, all the colors in this outfit were dark and subdued—depressingly typical of winter. But fortunately, I had a pair of earrings waiting in the wings to brighten everything up! They are cute silver leaves ornamented with a tiny blue bird and a wire nest with a pearl egg! These absolutely adorable earrings were a gift my boyfriend brought from Thailand, and they might be my favorite gift from him ever! In an unexpectedly appropriate twist, my hair itself even looks like a bird's nest, thanks to my having tried to curl it yesterday.

With tiny bird nests and leaves dangling from my ears, I couldn't help but feel a little more cheerful. This is the coldest week of the year (statistically! I checked the weather charts at Weather Underground!), so it can only get better from here!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Fashion — In Emojis!

Every year, as I compulsively consume every fashion article I can get my hands on, I make a note of the trends and file them based on whether I like or dislike them. Here's my take on what the clothing and accessories world had to offer us in 2016. This year marks an interesting change, as it's one of the first years in which I've been able to try several of the trends while they're still hot (as opposed to the next year, when they're usually still popular, but just lukewarm).

Almost all the trends I took note of in 2016, I appreciated, with the small exception of two broader, overarching themes I found disturbing. Let's get those out of the way first.

Androgynous clothes 😒

There has been a pervasive undercurrent in the fashion blogs for quite a while: dressing "ugly" on purpose. No one ever comes out and says it as such, but that's got to be the basis behind normcore, cavalierly mixing prints, and draping oneself in such baggy clothing that the body is completely obscured. It's no secret that I like looking like a princess, and that I have nothing good to say about the selection among men's clothing. Therefore, women dressing androgynously has to be one of the biggest threats to my love of fashion! For the sake of all that's fun and feminine, please make it fashionable to look like a girl again!

I hesitate to post any example pictures of this style, because my "androgynous" might be another woman's "super-sexy," and I'd hate to offend anyone, but suffice it to say, the word androgynous has been thrown around an awful lot in relation to what's fashionable.

Combining athletic clothes with nice clothes 😠

Since athleisure is the biggest trend since sliced bread, it's unsurprising that athletic clothes are getting crowbarred into a lot of outfits. Unsurprising, but unappealing. I don't like the look of sneakers with pretty skirts. I don't like the look of ugly T-shirts stuffed under beautiful dresses. Sometimes combining a nice item with a dressy item can slightly tone down the dressy item so that it's more appropriate to the situation. But if the two garments are at such opposite extremes, I don't think it works. If you're going to go fancy, go all the way—don't throw on some running shoes or a sweatshirt and call yourself edgy.

Slip dresses 👍

One of the main reasons I've been especially conscious of the ugly-pretty-juxtaposition trend is because throwing an ugly shirt on under a silky slip dress has been quite the thing to do this fall. If my memory serves me correctly, slip dresses started getting promoted heavily over a year ago, but they haven't lost any steam! Without an ugly turtleneck underneath, I am quite fond of slip dresses—so simple yet so elegant, and so much less fuss than your standard bodycon. Quality slip dresses are expensive, so I don't have any (I won one on an eBay auction for 6.64$ once, and the seller canceled the order!). But if I ever find a cheap alternative (that isn't really an actual slip, which are in abundant supply at the thrift store) I would still love to give it a try.

Flared and wide-leg pants 😃

Two years ago, I noted there was really no style of pant that was completely off-limits – and that hasn't changed – but 2016 definitely marked a turn towards the bottom-heavy end of the spectrum. While most authorities assure us that skinny jeans remain a "wardrobe staple," there's been a distinct decrease in the number of "mom jeans" on the market, and we're counseled that if you really want to look fashion-forward, you should slip on a pair of flares. And I'm not talking those conservative boot cuts—I mean back-to-the-70's bellbottoms and palazzo pants you could swim in. I'll always be a die-hard lover of wide-leg pants. My favorite pair of flares is the crazy-colored ones I wore to finish off my Z look last month, but on Friday, I scored a ridiculously huge-legged pair of flared jeans for 9 dollars, and they're going to be my next "big" thing!

Chokers 😎

I freely admit that choker necklaces are probably not the most flattering style, but that doesn't stop me from loving them. I had a go at the ribbon choker in the summer, and just finished constructing a classic black velvet one today! Although I really enjoyed the statement necklaces that dominated our jewelry choices for the last several years and can't wait for them to come back bigger and better than ever, I feel like a choker is an interesting enough alternative to keep me happy.

Lace-up necklines 😀

Around this time last year, you couldn't look at a fashion site without lace-up tops jumping out at you from everywhere. I loooooooved it (of course! "Anything with laces" is part of my Lookbook profile)! The craze has died down somewhat, but it's not so dead that I was stopped from making my own lace-up neckline from a hoodie drawstring in December. The lace-up flood was fun for a while, but I think it might have gone too strong and burned itself out.

Lower heels 😌

Yes, for as long as I've been an Unfashionista, I've been obsessed with heels—the higher the better! But just as last year when I acknowledged that maybe it would be OK to not have huge platforms on everything, this year I've fully learned to embrace the low heel as a potentially fun alternative. Apparently other fashionistas have, too, because lower heels are having a moment. I haven't found many in my price range (I don't think they've fully caught on yet among the non-blogging crowd), but by this time next year, I expect I'll have added a few to my collection! Kitten heels may be part of this wave, but I still strongly favor a sturdy block heel. (Also pictured, shoes with pom poms, which were a trend this year that I fully expect to be a flash in the pan).

Velvet boots 😍

Speaking of shoes, hands-down my favorite trend this year was the velvet boot, even though it's most frequently found in quite a high heel (some habits are hard to break). This style seemed to appear like magic early in fall and totally captured my heart by mid-December. I love it in the ankle length and the thigh-high; I love it in all imaginable colors; I'm especially crazy about it in the crushed variety. Velvet in general was a trend this year, but the velvet boots take the cake. I've seen so much of them that they will surely be passé by the time I can afford a pair, but at least I managed to snag a sort of consolation prize in the form of a similarly styled sandal.

Off-the-shoulder 👸

Although I already mentioned it earlier this year, I would be remiss if I did not include 2016's biggest breakout trend in my year-end review. The off-the-shoulder top was unquestionably the most fashionable item to be seen in all summer. I love it in theory, but can't wear it in practice, since I have this hangup about my shoulders (not to mention strapless clothes give me the heebie-jeebies). Fortunately, the slightly more flattering and less precarious cold-shoulder top came in a close second, and I'm more than happy to pick up / make a few more shirts like this if the style stays "in."

Bell sleeves 😊

Reigniting my childhood princess fantasies in a much more achievable way than off-the-shoulder tops, bell sleeves are an old-fashioned look that I've always admired but rarely been able to find. My gold velvet top is my only one that meets the description, and even so, its sleeves are only moderately flared. However, flared sleeves (and, in fact, statement sleeves of all sorts) had an ongoing moment in 2016, so I foresee some of them eventually hitting my closet before the trend totally fizzles. (You'll notice that half the bell-sleeved tops pictured also have an off-the-shoulder fit!)

A look at the past and the future

Every year, my fashion review gets a little longer and wordier (as I have more years to reflect on and revisit)! So get ready for a long look at my predictions and predilections of years past!

In last year's year in review, I expressed my love for several fashion items that I didn't have, but would love to have. Well, since then, I manage to acquire a significant number of the items on that list. I've bought two tutus (the perfect number), though neither are quite as fluffy as I'd hoped. I made my own below-the-knee pencil skirt, but it never fit right, and I scrapped it after two wears. I also constructed my own crop top matched set, purchased a pair of lace pants with a shorter liner (that I have yet to wear) and a sheer skirt that I'm still trying to make a shorter liner for, worn my hat on the back of my head (it didn't work as well as I'd been hoping), and got a pair of open-laced shoes (though it still sits unworn in my closet). On the whole, I did very well in making my dreams into reality. I never really jumped on the jumpsuits train; I did buy one for 10 dollars, absolutely hate it, and ultimately decide there's no reason to wear an awkward one-piece when you can just wear a two-piece matched set. Apparently the whole world hates my jumpsuit as much as I did, because almost a year later, I'm still unable to sell it on eBay, even new with tags. Shaggy fur vests were another style I still haven't managed to attain. Although I purchased 2 thrifted vests to try and fill the void, the shaggy fur and overall length were completely lacking. I feel like this trend has already passed its prime, so I don't know if I'll ever get one for myself, even though they're finally approaching my price range (under 10 dollars). Never got a dress with a cape either, and I'm pretty sure I'm over it.

Last year, I expressed my dream for cargo pants to make a resurgence. That didn't quite happen yet, but I hear tell that cargo pockets were a big motif on the spring runways...which means I may still get my wish! Corsets, my other hopeful contender, didn't really become popular, but I decided not to let that stop me, wearing them for everything from Halloween (in a repeat of last year's costume) to a night out dancing! I decided corsets are timeless and too interesting to miss out on.

I don't have a specific wish this year—2016 was so full of trends I could actually sink my teeth into that I didn't have time for too much wishful thinking! All I can hope is that 2017 is just as exciting!