Monday, December 31, 2012


Tights under shorts is a big fashion thing. It's been big for months and months if not years and years, and every time I have a gander at Lookbook, I see at least a few people sporting the look. I wanted to try it. For months and months, if not years and years. But I wasn't sure how to pull it off or when (since I decided it was too casual for work, and since I usually just dress in pajamas for the weekend).

Today, however, I went to work only to find it was closed (and I even double-checked the calendar over the weekend to verify—don't know how I got that all wrong), so I went home and promptly changed into an edgy ensemble of black blazer over graphic T-shirt, a pair of shorts, black pantyhose, and sneakers, and a winter hat that didn't really match, but needed to stay on my head because my hair was all flattened.

Ta-da! I did it! And then I went shopping, so the whole world could get a dose of my fashion finesse.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow Bunny

Remember last winter, when I had the big-time crush on the white fur-trimmed stripper boots? Well, despite their being completely impractical for my needs, I couldn't get them out of my head, and eventually I splurged on a slightly more sensible pair for 22 dollars in March—after the weather had turned too nice to be wearing fur boots. So I waited.

And I waited. Winter weather has certainly taken its time to arrive in my corner of Maryland, but it snowed yesterday morning! Of course, it had all turned to mud by the time I got dressed, but even melted snow is a good excuse to wear a new-to-you pair of winter boots!

This outfit had been sitting in the back of my mind for a couple weeks now, and it turned out every bit as adorable as I'd imagined! I got to make use of the long white sweater that I have so much trouble wearing. This time I wore it at its full length, with a long black tank top and black leggings underneath. With a monochromatic underlayer, the partial transparency of the sweater was not too much of a problem.

Without even realizing it, I wore the same earrings I had on the last time I wore this sweater. I guess some things are just meant to be together.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Black and Blue

Pants are kind of the ugly stepchild of my clothing collection. They're what I wear when I'm feeling lazy or cold or don't have any better ideas. It's not very often that I put together an outfit involving pants that I actually feel is worth blogging about.

The exception, of course, is when I'm wearing snazzy velvet pants with a satin belt. What isn't blogworthy about pants like that? You'll recall I wore these once last year for "The Recital Look," but today's outfit is more inspired, more refined (and velvet is making a comeback, so I look less like a lost performance artist wearing it).

The pants are unbelievably long—they almost sweep the floor even when I'm wearing my highest heels—which naturally makes them cool because they make me look taller. Since black is a depressing color, I paired them with the brightest blue tank top I have, tucked in to give the belt top billing.

The necklace is a new acquisition. It doesn't quite go with the shirt, but it's close enough. It's also too long. I cannot for the life of me understand why 18 inches is the golden standard for necklace length. Every necklace I have that's around 18 inches ends up dangling right underneath the neckline of my shirt. I have to perform all kinds of artistic feats to get my necklaces short enough to actually wear.

The bolero on top was kind of a throw-away. I would have preferred something a little more sumptuous, to go with the pants, or nothing at all, but alas, it is winter, so I wore this plain-looking top to keep my arms warm.

All in all, I think I like this outfit because of the dramatic color contrast. Even though it involves pants.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Black for Christmas

I seem to have a knack for inadvertently wearing red for Christmas parties. I had planned to wear this dress yesterday, but I got sick in the morning, went in to work late, and decided it wasn't worth getting all dressed up for just a partial day. So I saved it for today instead, which happens to be the date of our department's holiday party.

The dress came in a very cheap lot of 5, so I got it for a total of a whopping 2$, which makes it hands-down the bargainest dress I own. It's a lightweight cotton and strapless besides, which technically makes it a summer dress, but then, almost all the dresses I find are summer dresses, and I can't just wear pants and sweaters all winter! At least the colors in this one are dark enough to pass it off as a winter frock, provided it's covered with the proper sweater.

The sweater is an old one I've had for years. Last year, I kind of stopped wearing it because I felt it made me look frumpy, but I kept it around because it was so sensible. With all its chunkiness, it is the perfect article to tone down an overly fancy silhouette. I ended up wearing it buttoned at the middle, which reduced the chunk factor just a bit.

And on my feet, you'll see I'm doing that thing—that thing where you let your socks peep over the top of your boots. This thing isn't my favorite trend on the books, but I decided to embrace it just this once to give my red Christmas socks a chance to shine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What you don't see is the staples

When you first glance at this outfit I'm wearing, you might come to the conclusion I'm an Ohio State fan (I'm not). You might guess I'm going to an office Christmas party (I am, but that's just a coincidence). You will probably not postulate that it is held together by staples (it is).

I set out this outfit on Sunday night, but on Monday, the forecast was just too warm to wear long sleeves! On Tuesday, I had to do a presentation and wanted to look a little more professional. Finally on Wednesday, I was ready to wear my outfit. And only then did the problems start!

The neckline of the dress was too low and showed my bra. I pulled the dress up and hoped for the best. Then, when I got to work and took off my coat, I discovered the necklace had fallen apart and 2 of the three strands had disconnected from the clasp. Meanwhile, my dress had slipped down again and was showing more of the bra than ever!

In a moment of sheer genius, I decided to staple the necklace back together. That didn't work, but by bending the staple a few times around the errant strands, I was able to make it functional again.

I was on a stapling roll, and decided I might as well staple the dress to my bra to keep it from sliding down! That didn't work either, but forcing the staples through with my hands and bending the edges into place with some pliers did.

Style Tip Staples! The quick fix for any wardrobe malfunction!

Now, just a quick once-over of what you can see. I bought this dress on eBay for 12 dollars, and as soon as I got it, I was appalled at how boring and grey it was! What was I thinking!? Fortunately, I had the brilliant idea to spice it up with red tights and a red necklace. Now I have to say it's one of the most interesting outfits I've come up with this fall.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shopping Hood: Woman in Tights

I've made it abundantly clear that I don't like skinny jeans. However, it looks like they're sticking around for a while (fortunately, wide-leg pants are still an acceptable, though less-chosen, alternative), and I have realized there are some circumstances under which skinny jeans are the ideal item. OK, one circumstance: when you need something to wear under your boots.

Now, I love me some good knee-high boots, and any type of clothing that will allow me to wear them more often is OK in my book. I've already discovered that leggings are very useful for this purpose, but leggings, being somewhat thin, are limited to wearing with skirts or tops that cover your bottom. There are some girls who do not feel bound by this nicety, but I for one prefer to keep the contours of my butt and underwear a more closely guarded secret. Jeans are a thicker material that I feel safe to wear as a top layer.

Unfortunately, there's still a problem. All the skinny jeans also have a low-rise, which is fine until you sit down. Then they tend to have no-rise, and – just like leggings – reveal more of me than I care to show. Sigh...the tribulations of having high standards.

And all this narrative, to introduce an outfit that I would have worn with skinny jeans if I had them—My green and tan striped sweater and brown walking boots. I call these walking boots because I bought them specifically to wear on outings where I'd be doing a lot of walking. They allow me to be trendy without wearing heels. Sadly, they also are too big and require me to wear outrageously fluffy socks to keep them in place. I promise I will lay off the online shoe shopping!

In the absence of skinny jeans, I chose to wear this outfit with brown leggings underneath. I'm not really thrilled with the way the colors interact, but it was either that or the tan leggings that make me look like I'm wearing nothing on my legs and additionally have become incredibly anemic below the waist.

I wore this outfit to do some shopping. The forest greens and browns, plus the tall boots, put me in mind of Robin Hood, hence the rather silly title of this post. No, leggings aren't technically tights, but I think we can all get past that.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Color Me Two-Toned... Sort of.

It seems like every time I come up with a new color scheme, I like to claim it's my favorite color scheme. I've proclaimed my love for monochromatic schemes in several posts, and I've extolled the virtues of purple and green at least twice. Another one of my favorites is to wear all black, with one item in a bright color as an accent. Hence, today's outfit.

It was warm today - in the 60's - which, for December, makes me very happy. To celebrate, I wanted to wear light and bright clothing.

My green cropped sweater with 3/4 sleeves was an obvious choice, although what to wear with it proved more of a challenge. Black? White? A combination of black and white? Long skirt? short skirt? Pants?

After many try-ons, I settled for what you see here: A long black pleated skirt, a black tank top underneath, and black ankle-strap shoes. I wasn't sure how the ankle straps would look with the long skirt, but in looking at the photos, I can conclude that it wasn't a bad idea.

This skirt is a size 14, in other words, much larger than my usual size. It sometimes slides down a bit, but mainly it fits just fine, which has taught me a lesson.

When too big isn't

Most of the time, wearing clothes that are too big for you is a no-no (if you are built like a runway model, you might not have this problem). The one exception I've found is skirts with elastic waistbands. Go ahead and buy these as large as you want. You'll get more fabric for your money, meaning a more dramatic and flowy skirt, and the elastic will probably hold it up on you anyway.

The last piece to this outfit – and the one that turns it from just another green getup into a piece of art – is the necklace. I bought this recently on eBay, thinking black jewelry would be nicely versatile, and it is! It's actually a long, multistranded bead necklace, but it was just the right length to wrap around my neck twice and make into a chunky choker. Interesting effect.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Color Me Jewel Toned

I got to wear my favorite color combination again today. As you well know, I've been wanting a pair of purple shoes for some time, and, while shopping  this weekend, I noticed they had finally dipped down into my price range at 19.99$. I found them at Burlington Coat Factory near my home, but didn't have time to buy them right then (the real reason I didn't buy them was I was wearing jeans tucked into boots, and it had taken so long to get them arranged without lumps and bumps that I didn't want to take them off to try the shoes on!). I'm glad I waited, because on Sunday, I was out again at a mall farther away when I found them at a different Burlington for only 10 dollars! Score! They were so cheap I was able to buy another thing on my want list as well: silver glittery heels, which I got for 17 dollars (If I'd been thinking ahead, I could have gotten them for 10 dollars last spring, but I didn't know then that I would ever want glittery shoes).

The color on these shoes is especially rich because of their velvety texture (which, I've learned from experience with other shoes, is very fragile and scrapes off whenever anything hard touches it—a good reason to wait until shoes like these are 10 dollars or less before buying). An especially rich purple is especially hard to match, and as you probably also know, I'd been concerned that if I bought purple shoes, I wouldn't have anything to wear them with. That's mostly true—except for this dress that I'm proud the heck of.

The colors are so bright and beautiful on their black background, they go perfectly with my new purple shoes.

The dress also permitted me to finally sport the glittery green necklace that I've been trying to wear ever since spring. Unfortunately, I'm not as proud the heck of this necklace as I am of the dress I wore it over. But we can't win 'em all, can we?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Matchy-Matchy

What goes best with a green-on-green skirt?

More green!

I got the skirt at Famous Labels, a store which sells clothes super cheap and then goes out of business and sells them even cheaper—hence, this brand-new skirt cost me three dollars.

I tried it on, and it fit a little tight, but I bought it anyway. It was only when I got home that I realized it was a girls' 7-14. Which just goes to show, you shouldn't write off shopping in the kids' department, because now that kids are all obese, you just might find something that fits you—and you probably won't pay as much for it.

I wore the skirt for the first time today along with this simple green shirt. Because the Unfashionista knows no "too much," I then topped off my look with chartreuse fingernails and my green heart earrings that I've sung the praises of before. The only thing in the outfit that wasn't green was the shoes, and that's probably only because I don't have any green shoes for winter.

The challenge with this outfit lay in not hiding the cute little bow/tassels at the top of the skirt. I looked stupid with my shirt tucked in, and the tassels were completely obscured with the shirt untucked. The solution? I bunched up the part of the shirt that covered the tassels and secured the gathers with a safety pin. It looks almost like it's supposed to be that way!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


From time to time (as in two posts ago), I try to follow the herd and do things like combine patterns. But I just can't deny my true nature. Coordinated colors are much more my style.

Take this outfit, with 3 different shades of pink and nothing else (except neutral black and silver)!

I took my never-worn coral cropped sweater, paired it with a fuschia tank top underneath, and tied it all together with the pink shoes on my feet.

With all this matching going on, it's only fitting that I wear it all with matchstick pants—which, I finally learned, is the official term for these black dress pants that I have learned to love as the trendiest pair of bottoms in my wardrobe. They are also known as cigarette pants, and they are distinguished from skinny jeans by (1) not being jeans and (2) having a straight leg opening rather than a tapered one. The only thing I don't love about them is they run a little short, making my ankles mighty chilly in November weather!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Merry Thanksgiving in advance

Remember that magenta-and-green skirt that I didn't wear last Christmas?

Well, almost a year later, I finally brought it out of the back of my closet—this time for a Thanksgiving party at my office.

In all the years that I've owned this garment (6 and a half), I've never been able to wear it with a shirt that quite matched. I've worn it with black (there are some black swirls in the pattern, but a black top just sucks all the bright and beautiful out of this bottom), and I've worn it with green (the green T-shirt I contemplated wearing it with for the Christmas party, but that T-shirt is a little too light to go with the emerald shade of the green in the skirt), but only this year have I actually acquired a shirt that really looks right with it--a maroon tank top that matches the main pink color of the skirt almost exactly!

And I am so pumped, because I adore this skirt (which may explain why I've kept it for 6 and a half years even though I've found so little accompanying clothing or occasion to wear it for)! Unlike many other peasant skirts that skimp on the material (my white one, for instance, which is basically an A-line skirt divided into sections), this skirt is ample, flowy, and flouncy. When I got it (6 and a half years ago, in case you've forgotten), it was covered with glitter, but in the intervening time, most of the glitter has fallen off, leaving little dark speckles. I don't know if I can wash them out. I've also noticed some runs in the fabric and some dirty-looking wrinkle lines. This skirt needs some TLC. I don't know if I have the ability to provide the C, but I can definitely give it the L.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mixing Patterns

If you spend any time on fashion and clothing websites, you'll see a lot of outfits comprising a wild mishmash of colors, patterns, and textures. You'll also see graphic tees tucked into skirts (with half the graphic covered up, which I will never comprehend). I take a more conservative (some might say obsessive-compulsive) approach to coordinating my dress, preferring to pair colors with similar colors, prints with solids, and distinctive textures with textureless materials.

Today's outfit is my attempt to break that habit.

On the top, I'm wearing a jade-colored shirt in floral lace, and below that a satin black and white skirt with stars. These do not go together. But I tried anyway, just to see if I could get away with it. Unfortunately, the shirt makes me look fat, so you might say I didn't quite get away with it (this is the last time I'll wear this top!). The irony is that ruched tops are supposed to disguise your fat—I guess they don't work that way when they're too big to start with. I learned something today.  Style Tip Ruched tops can hide bulges, but make sure they fit tightly, because they also add bulk!
Because one strange pairing is about as much as I can handle, I chose to wear unobtrusive black boots.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Home-made Dickey

The dickey is not a very popular item in the fashion world right now (and with a name like dickey, that's not a surprise), so I'll forgive you if you're not familiar with the term. Basically, a dickey is a sort of sleeveless half-shirt that you wear under another shirt to give the appearance of layers without the bulk. Here's a picture.

Last year, I got a blouse on eBay that was too big for me and too stained to sell, so I decided to cut it up and make my own dickey out of it. (I cut the rest of it into strips and used them as rag curlers for my hair.) After surgery, it looked like this.

When the time finally came to wear it, this proved to be much too small. Its edges kept popping out from underneath the outer layer, so... Res-Q-Tape to the rescue! I fastened it to the collar of the shirt in a couple of places and brought the rest of the tape to work with me, just in case (I didn't need it).

In the end, here's how it looked.

And here's how I wore it.

At the end of the day, I tore off my dickey and threw it in the trash. I'll try it again sometime, the next time I have an old blouse I don't know what to do with, but this one was just too small to be practical. The most ironic part of this whole escapade is, while I created it to reduce bulk, the sweater I chose to wear it under was so translucent that I had to wear a tank top under it anyway!

[Though this post is labeled How-To, it would probably best be described as How-Not-To]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And now you're wearing taupe.

Taupe is probably the ugliest color ever invented. Not quite grey, not quite brown, it is the unwanted child of two of the most dreary hues in existence. The only thing uglier than taupe is taupe in a high-gloss patent leather. And I'm wearing it.

I was perusing the shelves at Rugged Wearhouse when I saw these lace-up booties in black. I absolutely loved them, but I told myself sternly, "Valerie, you have enough black boots." (4 pairs, in varying heights and closure types). So I settled for taupe instead. Now, I already had a similar pair of grey booties, but, but, these were only 10 dollars!

What do you wear with taupe booties?

Well, I chose a long pleated black skirt that was still short enough to show the shoes underneath (in case you had forgotten, the black skirt is the choir skirt that you've been waiting a year and a half to see in action) and a ribbon-knit striped sweater that had just a hint of taupe in a few of its stripes. I bought the sweater at the thrift store, and I've worn it for years, always looking totally out of style, but now I am finally able to wear it in a trendy way—tucked into my skirt!

I must admit, I'm kind of getting into the whole tucked-in shirt thing. Originally I mourned the end of a clean-lined era, and I still maintain that it's not a very figure-flattering look, but it does enable me to wear long skirts again—which I've been having trouble doing since all the shirts dropped to tunic-length!

Fabulous taupe shoes notwithstanding, the outfit still needed something, and that something was a long necklace. I would have preferred black, but that color is absent from my necklace collection, so I went with green because the taupe stripes in the sweater kind of look a little greenish in contrast with all the coral.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Yet you did it anyway

I like to avoid the combination of red and brown because it reminds me of blood and dried blood respectively, forming a mix that's even more morbid than the traditional goth red and black.

But I was running out of ideas.

I like the length of this jacket. I tried this outfit with a shorter black jacket and it looked terrible. But the long lines on the brown one are just what the doctor ordered — to stop the hemorrhage? — no, to complement the length of the dress and make me look tall!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yippee Ki Yo Ki Yay

Yes, it's a little contrived. I look like a cowgirl, and I look like I'm trying too hard to look like a cowgirl. I had one co-worker refer to me as "pardner" today, in only a slightly mocking manner.

But I got these two pairs of cowgirl boots—what else am I supposed to do with them!? (On the plus side, the other pair of boots that I didn't want was out of stock by the time my exchange arrived at the warehouse, so I got a 27$ store spend on future boots!)

Aside from the boots, everything else in this outfit was a test of my tolerance. I've always avoided pencil skirts because they aren't particularly flattering, and they severely limit my mobility. But my last eBay lot contained three, so I vowed to give them a shot. I never liked button-down blouses, because the fabric is too thin to keep me warm, and the fit is either baggy, making me look dowdy and top-heavy, or tight and restricting, making me unable to move my arms. This blouse is of the baggy variety, though designed to be fitted, meaning it doesn't look right no matter how I wear it. I tucked it into my skirt, but since the skirt sits a little below my natural waist, my waist was effectively disguised, for an all-over shapeless appearance.

As far as making me look good, then, this outfit was a resounding failure, but as far as enabling me to try on a different look, it wasn't bad! I'm really digging the boots (Gallop, in cognac, new from ShoeDazzle) and their rich shade of brown that just happens to match the brown in my braided leather belt. It's really the belt that literally ties the outfit together!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yipes Stripes!

Yesterday, I stared at my closet for hours trying to decide what to wear. I laid out scores of potential outfits, gave up and came back later...twice! Fall is a hard time for me to find clothing inspiration. It feels too early to break out the warm sweaters, yet it's too cold for short sleeves and light blouses. I had decided against jeans, since I'd done casual (a Halloween T-shirt) on Wednesday, but I was also determined not to be too dressy, since it was Friday. Add to that the fact that most of my fall clothes are brown or green, and I was boycotting those colors since I wore them yesterday, and you have one dismal fashion outlook.

On my third trip back to the closet, I pulled out my black and white striped top, and realized it would go splendidly with my fuschia skirt. Then I remembered that I have black and white striped socks as well...and the deal was sealed!

Originally, I was going to wear this outfit with black high heels, but that made me look far too leggy, and I wanted to tone down the exotic dancer vibe. So I wore my humble black flats and hit the road. One more sartorial conundrum solved.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Color Scheming

Today's post is about colors. Mainly because I didn't want to write 3 separate posts about the three outfits I wore the past 3 days.
Can you guess what Tuesday's theme was? OK, I'll tell you. It was green.

I started with a green polo shirt that's so old I really probably shouldn't wear it to work, and since I already looked scruffy, I decided to look cheesy as well, and I dressed myself in more green from head to toe! I even wore frog earrings.

Wednesday, I was going to wear more green, but I changed my plans at the last moment and put on a black and white polka-dotted dress. Normally when I wear black and white patterns, I go with an all black and white theme, but this time I decided that was too drab and I simply had to put some color in it! The color ended up being my favorite shade of cerulean, accented with some aqua earrings and a cute blue barrette.

Didn't bother to take a picture of it,
though, since I hadn't been planning
to blog about it.

Thursday, I had a request for a pink and white ensemble that included a cardigan. Here's what I came up with.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Is this an office or a runway?

Remember when I observed that my coworkers don't seem to notice anything about what I wear except the height of my shoes? Well, today I'm also giving them credit for noticing their color and abundance. One coworker the other day commented favorably on my astounding variety of footwear (I told him not to encourage me; I now estimate my shoe collection at around 50 pairs).

Yes, I pose on chairs at work all the time...It happens
when you work in such a fashion-conscious place.
And Wednesday my cute little outfit with the conservative cardigan caused quite a stir (among two coworkers at the same time!) because it included white shoes after Labor Day! Not that an Unfashionista would ever concern herself with petty little folkways about color, but I will have you know that Emily Post, manners maven (or, more precisely, her Institute) declares white shoes acceptable any time of year.

However, Wednesday also reminded me that my coworkers don't only notice my shoes; they also notice my team colors.

This orange and aqua skirt, the bane of my existence because it doesn't quite match with anything in my wardrobe, always receives a vote of approval from my one colleague who is a Miami Dolphins fan. When I told him I probably wasn't going to wear it any more because it's so hard to coordinate, he just about died. OK, fine. I'll wear it again. Maybe with one of the many Dolphins T-shirts he's trying to hard to get me to buy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Perfect Geometry

Pink and brown is one of my favorite color combinations. That's why finding this top at the thrift store (for under 5 dollars, though I can't remember the exact price) was such a treat. I love it!

Though I've worn it a few times before with pants, I wore it today over a brown pleated skirt, slightly mismatched brown knee socks, and a pair of pink shoes in a shade a tad cooler than any of the pinks in the top. The contrast between my socks and shoes is kind of bizarre. I could stare at them all day. I just wish there weren't silver dots on the shoes. This outfit won't win any awards for color coordination, but where it really shines is in the shape department.

Take a look at the pattern on the shirt. It appears kind of wild and disordered at first, but then you start to notice the curved pathways and color blocks in oval shapes. Then take a look at the necklace. What's that? Oval shapes!

OK, so maybe I'm getting excited over nothing, but, while I usually succeed at making my jewelry match my clothing in color, this is the first time I've also been able to make it match in form!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Asian Fusion

If you read my other blog, you'll remember when I mentioned searching Google to convert centimeters to inches, to find out if something I wanted to order would fit me. That something was this dress.

It was called a cheongsam, I learned. I'd always been somewhat fond of that particular style of dress, which you usually see in Chinese import shops and movies. I finally ran across one in my price range on eBay, in a particularly enticing design and color scheme, so I bought it. Then I waited 2 long months to wear it, encountering all sorts of challenges along the way.

The first thing I learned upon trying it on was that it was too tight around the shoulders and too loose around the waist. Nothing I could do about the shoulders, but I tailored the waist so it fit better.

Unfortunately, that did nothing to solve the problem of the dress being too short (that darn Asian sizing!). Sure, it looks decent from the front, but the side slits are dangerously high, and forget about bending over! At that moment, I gave up the notion of ever wearing this dress to work.

Until a few weeks later, when I began to consider wearing it not as a dress, but as a tunic. Paired with pants, this audacious dress would become a perfectly acceptable fashion statement! I tried it on with black pants but wasn't all that impressed. I tried it on with boots and leggings and still wasn't impressed.

And then I waited another couple of weeks, and tried the boots and leggings again. They were all right, but the waistband of the leggings was too bulky under the dress. I traded them for opaque black tights. They worked better, but provided less coverage than the leggings.

My solution was to duct tape the side slits. That's right, duct tape. You can't see it, but on the back of each slit is a small strip of duct tape holding the two sides together and providing an extra inch-and-a-half of modesty.

Now, for jewelry, I had this sea-green seashell bracelet/earring set that I've been waiting for a chance to wear since early spring. The colors were right, but I was worried that the very casual, beachy look of the jewelry would clash with the elegance of the dress. And then I remembered I was wearing rock star boots. I had already taken elegance and thrown it to the wind!

So I went ahead and wore the beachy jewelry, ending up with an unusual European/Asian/Island theme that definitely made me a little self-conscious on the bus. At least, one person commented on how "lovely" my "blouse" was. Still not sure if that case of mistaken identity means success or failure.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The UnPhilosophy of Online Shopping

Up until I started my job in January, I was almost exclusively an in-person shopper. I would hit the stores on weekdays right after they opened at 10 am, peruse the racks leisurely in a nearly empty shop, and return home with new clothes only if they actually looked good on me. But working from 8-4:30 kind of put the kibosh on that habit—if I wanted to shop at stores, I would have to do it when everyone else was doing it, fighting traffic and crowds all the while. Kinda takes the fun right out of shopping. So online shopping became my friend. I was able to get prices almost as good as I would get on the clearance racks, and the selection was even larger! The problem, of course, was that I was no longer able to try before buying, leading to all sorts of disappointments.

In my last post, I briefly recounted the tale of how I ended up with orange shoes and an orange dress,, even though I don't really like orange—thanks mainly to misleading photos on eBay.

Today, I will tell you more about the dress.

When I first put on the dress, it fit all right. That is, there were no parts of it that were too tight or too loose. However, I had trouble getting the bodice of the dress to fully cover my chest vertically.
Here's how it looked on the model.
Here's how it looked on me.
It took some tugging and rearrangement, and an unconventional forward lean on the shoulder seams to get it mostly in place, and after that, more tugging and rearrangement approximately every hour to keep it there.

The lesson learned from this escapade is simple: Stop buying new clothes on eBay from China—they are invariably sized for midgets.

Even without tiny Chinese models throwing off your perception of size, buying online is always a risk. I keep learning this the hard way (but the lesson doesn't stick). Another recent example: I impulsively bought 3 pairs of boots from ShoeDazzle because they were half off, knowing that, since they have a free returns policy, I could pick the one I liked best and send the others back. Every time I've bought shoes from ShoeDazzle in the past, I've bought an 8.5 and found it to be too or almost-too small, so this time I ordered one 8.5 (just in case) and two 9's. The 9's were so big, they were sliding around all over my foot! And the one boot's shaft, which had looked to fit so snugly on the skinny model in the picture, was positively billowing around my calf. It was only after I had discovered all those problems with my purchases that I noticed my entire order had been "final sale." No returns for me! I was lucky enough to get the company to exchange the big ones for a smaller size, but even so, I have blown 70 dollars on three new pairs of boots when I only wanted one.

The lesson learned from this story is, maybe shopping online isn't such a great idea.

I need to seriously consider going back to my old ways of actually shopping outside the home. I wonder if the decreased likelihood of failure is worth the inevitable stress. I wonder if I could convince my employer to give me a morning off periodically for shopping purposes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Unfashionista L'Orange

My coworkers rarely comment on my style and style experiments, but they do occasionally have something to say about my shoes—mainly something about how high they are. Yes, I have a penchant for tall footwear, and this pair of canvas espadrilles is my tallest yet!

I found them on eBay for a little under 20 dollars. I had ordered a similar pair in pink from a shoe site earlier in the year, but it had been too small, and by the time I sent it back, the larger size was out of stock. Ever since then, I've keenly felt the loss of what almost was, and thus when I saw them again on eBay, I was compelled to buy, even though I recently vowed to stop getting peep-toe shoes (really, what's attractive about twisted digits poking out the end of your shoe, huh?). These came in several colors, but I chose beige because I thought it might be nice to have another pair of summer shoes in a neutral color. The photo on eBay made the shoes appear to be a light eggshell, and the colors on the platform a rainbow of pastels.

Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were darker than pictured, and the platform coloration very heavy on the orange.

Around the same time, another eBay purchase arrived at my door: a dress I'd bought from a Chinese seller. This, too, had come in a variety of colors, and this, too, I had selected in "beiges" because from the picture, it looked like it had a nice mix of colors including some pretty shades of purple and green. Unfortunately, when it arrived, I learned that the purple and green had been an optical illusion, and the actual color of the dress was very heavy on the orange.

Orange is not my favorite color. In fact, I can say with reasonable confidence that orange is my least favorite color. But I guess every Unfashionista must learn to diversify sometime, and I daresay the arrival of two overly orange articles of clothing in one week is a fairly good sign that that time is now.

I wore them together with simple navy earrings and a pair of ankle bracelets.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to renounce the fashion gods

Well, I tried. I gave it a fair shake, that sack-like, shapeless, sleeveless, muscle-tee kind of look. I don't know if there's a word for it, but here are some pictures of what I'm talking about.

I judged the style harshly from the moment I saw it, but I didn't write it off until I'd tried it myself, and found it made me look like an emo carrot with a serious fashion disability.

Then I wrote it off. Big baggy tops with unstructured shoulders will never look good on me. So I'm taking that trend and shoving it. Hear me, gods of fashion! You may impose stupid styles on the rest of the world, but I will never bow down to you! I'm taking the big ol' pillowcase you've tried to pass off as a shirt, and I'm making it look good on me!* Here's how.

1. A few months after my first dubious experience with the black peacock feather shirt, I was willing to give it another shot. But trying it on the mirror, I soon realized it was just as unflattering as it had ever been. It needed some shape. I bunched up all the fabric in the back so it was more form-fitting, and wow! Instant improvement! I held it all in place with a binder clip and took it off for step 2.

2. My plans were to basically keep it just like that, all bunched up, and just secure the fabric in place with something a little better-looking than a binder clip. But I realized having a bunch of bunched fabric in the back of your shirt looks pretty amateur. So to make it look like it was designed that way, I decided to decorate it! Fortunately, I had some black ribbon I'd salvaged from a pair of lace-up sandals that bit the dust this spring. I tied a bit of one into a bow, which I would later use to cover up the mess of my alterations.

3. Next, I poked a safety pin through the shirt from the underside, right next to the binder clip. I was going to use the safety pin to keep all the folds in place.

4. I poked the safety pin through the back of the bow.

5. I ran the safety pin over all the gathers of fabric, and pushed it back down through the shirt at the other side, again, right next to the binder clip.

6. I closed the safety pin on the underside, prayed (but not to the fashion gods--I've renounced them!) that it would all hold together, and released the binder clip. It held together! Cha-ching! Five minute fix!

Here's how the shirt looks now in the back. (But slightly less lopsided after a few careful adjustments)

I wore this newly improved top pulled down low over my black tiered skirt (also heavily altered). The color match was excellent, giving the appearance of a drop-waisted dress, which is conveniently in style.

There may have been almost no teal in the top, but there was some, so I took the opportunity to wear my new teal shoes (Amazon warehouse deals, 9 dollars!). I even painted my nails and wore makeup to match! Then I rounded out the look with some black beaded stretch bracelets.

Heck yeah! That's how you turn a hideous top into an ensemble to be proud of!

*To be fair to the poor fashion gods, this top was originally a size large, when I usually wear a medium or even a small. So it was at a disadvantage to begin with.