Sunday, December 29, 2013

How to make boot shafts smaller

I buy a lot of shoes from ShoeDazzle, and every time I get boots from that site, I kick myself. I make sure I'm wearing the boots while I do it, too. You'd think I'd learn, but every time — every time! — the boot shafts are much too wide. Although shoe companies make shoes in different foot sizes, I guess it's not economical to make boots for different calf sizes, so they just make them big enough so almost anyone can fit into them. Although more expensive boots tend to fit better, the cheaper ones are always gigantic.

But don't worry, the Unfashionista would never stoop to buying expensive clothes! If my cheap boots are too big, I will make them smaller!

Normally when I get clothes that are too big, I take in the seam on the sides with my trusty sewing machine, and boom! Done in 60 seconds! I tried that with these boots, and my sewing machine jammed so badly that it was 2 weeks before I dared touch it again. Obviously trying to sew up 2 thick layers in such proximity to the rigid parts of a boot was just too much for my machine. I was going to have to get creative.

Fortunately, I had just purchased a staple gun a few months ago, inspiring me to try a new, more industrial, method of tailoring my shoes. It works the same way as taking in a seam on any fabric garment—the only difference is that the material of the boot is thicker. Let the tutorial begin!

Here's what you'll need.

A staple gun, a pair of needlenose pliers, and (optionally), a pair of those pliers that have curved jaws (hey, I'm an unfashionista, not a mechanic—I have no idea what their proper name is!)
Step one is to mark where on the boot you want to make the new seam. I put it on and pinched the fabric on either side of the back seam. Your new seam may not be in the back, but you do want to use an existing seam, so that you don't end up with an extra one when you're finished. I pinched just enough fabric so that there wasn't any slack around my leg, then stuck a pin in to mark the spot. These pins are only markers, so they don't have to actually go all the way through. You could use a pen if you are feeling particularly confident or working with a washable material.

Next, take off the boot, then pinch the fabric exactly where you have the pin. In the next step, you're going to move the markers from the outside of the boot to the inside.

This is an inside view. I am pinching the boot where the marker was, then I've stuck a new pin on the inside to mark where the pinch is.

Do the same for all the markers until you have a nice line of pins on the inside of the boot. This line marks where you will create the new back seam.

Next, place the boot on some kind of soft yet firm surface. You need something that's strong enough not to collapse under the pressure of the stapler, but soft enough that the staples will go into it easily. I've chosen to use the box the boots came in.

Pinch the fabric around the first marker so that the original seam forms the top of the fold. Press the folded fabric onto the stapling surface.

Bam! Staple away!

If you have done it correctly, your staple will have punctured both layers of fabric and will be sticking through on one side.  You can see the original seam very clearly in this shot.

Fold down the ends of the staple with the pliers. I like to start with the needle-nose pliers because they're more precise...

...Then finish up the job with the curved pliers. The rounded jaws leave a nice opening for the bulk of the fabric to fit into, enabling me to close the staple more tightly. 

When I was finished, the staples were spaced about this far apart. It doesn't seem to be necessary to put them closer than this, but you're certainly welcome to!
After all the markers have been replaced with staples, it's time for a fit test in the mirror! I haven't stapled the top of the boot, because it's lined with a glossy vinyl that's probably going to take more lasting damage if I do it wrong. I like the way it looks, though, so I'm going to got ahead and staple up the top as well.

Here's the finished product! I'll let you know how the stapling job holds up after I've given them a full-day trial.

A caveat: I'm pretty sure staples on the inside of your boots will snag pantyhose and other fabrics, and could potentially scrape your legs. So if you value what you put inside these boots, you might want to cover the staples with a bit of soft tape or something.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The tree was in the wood

When planning today's outfit, I wanted to make sure these unbelievably fab wood-grain boots took center stage and not the clothes. So I threw one piece of clothing after another on the floor next to them, looking for the perfect, understated complement.

I kept coming back to this brown sweater dress, but it's much too short to wear by itself to work. And though I tried brown and tan leggings in various shades, they were always too light in color and thus too eye-catching.

Finally I went with something that always gives me trepidations about wearing in public—loose pants under the dress. This look has the potential to be very frumpy indeed, but since the dress wasn't too loose, I think it passes muster.

I tied on a belt in a lighter shade to break up the monotonous expanse of dark brown. With all that brown going on, especially with the wood grain on the shoes, I reminded myself slightly of a dead tree in winter—so naturally I had to wear my brown leaf earrings!

The seller of the boots suggested, "Pair them with an all black outfit to make them stand out even more!" I think that's a great idea to try out next time!

I'm trying out a new Fashion site—Chictopia! Join and support your favorite UNfashionista!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hot on the tail of fashion

Animal faces on clothes really peaked last summer, and being an UNfashionista, I jumped on the train just as it was losing steam, acquiring 3 tacky cat shirts near the end of the summer!

No mind that I am about a year behind the cutting edge, I really love cats on clothes!

The first buy was Galacticat, which I'm sure you remember after its blazing public success in September.

The second was more of a blistering failure, when I forgot to specify my desired color (black) and ended up with a grey cat face on a grey background, which is so ugly I refuse to wear it and can't even imagine I'll get any money reselling it. 

The third was this marvelous huge sad cat T-shirt that I got for just 5 dollars in the men's department at Urban Outfitters. Yes, I felt like a true baller for shopping at such an above-my-station venue, and I felt like I had true balls for shopping in men's. Of course, I worried that the 5 dollar price tag indicates that this trend is already on the outs, but I see that they still have plenty of other tacky cat shirts on their website! Maybe if I'm lucky, it'll stay cool long enough for me to wear it next spring, after I've applied my magic scissors and made it a little more my style. (Stay tuned for that DIY.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The perils of dressing in the dark


I really wanted to wear these blue metallic shoes, as I've only worn them once and I've had them for a couple months.

Last night, though I tried several things (including an all-white ensemble, which I'll have to try sometime when I have better choices than a too-short blouse), I ultimately went with a comfy blue knit shirt and grey pants. The shirt went well with the shoes under the dim yellowish light of my bedroom at night.

Unfortunately, when I arrived in the office, the truth was revealed. The shoes have a hint of periwinkle, which is to say, they put out warm purplish reflections, which clashed with the straight subdued navy (which leans toward green if it leans at all) of my shirt.

I spent all day feeling mildly ashamed of my color choices.

I'm beginning to think I should invest in a very bright full-spectrum lamp just for picking out clothes at night. It wouldn't hurt to have it around for photography either.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hunt for Red


I've been trying hard to acquire a  pair of red shoes, because I just want them, that's why! Unfortunately, this has proved harder than you might imagine, as it took me several months of failures before I finally succeeded (read: gave up).

Burgundy rose-toed shoes (7$ at Goodwill) - I bought these way back in May, when I first got the inkling that I needed red shoes. I allowed myself to be satisfied with them for months, until I finally decided that burgundy is not red. And I needed to start shopping again.

Red peep-toe transparent sole wedges ($9.05 on Shoedazzle) - A whole lot of discounts conspired to get me these 49$ shoes for under 10. I was instantly in love with them—a bright wild red with see-through ombre platforms with a graceful curve in the back. Unfortunately, the love didn't transfer to real life, as they were too narrow to buy in my size, so I ended up with too-long shoes that always looked stupid on my feet. I wore them twice and then gave up, thinking I should sell them while they were still hot. Unfortunately it didn't work that way, and they're still siting in my eBay pile, waiting for a buyer.

Red suede-like ruffled pumps ($9.02 on eBay) -  I'm looking for fire-engine-red, ruby-red, scarlet, but apparently not "biking red", which I discovered as soon as I got these. They're not a bad pair of shoes, but they're so similar to the rose-toed shoes that I decided to let these go as they were in a better condition to sell, and the others seemed to match my clothes better. I only lost a dollar after reselling them on eBay.

Red loafer-style canvas wedges ($8.15 on eBay) - Even though these were obviously not red enough for my needs, I bid on them because I liked the two-tone thing, and I thought they were unique yet sneakily similar to the smoking slippers* that I've been seeing a lot. I also thought they'd make a nice casual shoe with a bit of lift, for when I want to wear longer jeans. Sadly, they crowd my toes a bit, which doesn't make them the walking shoes I had dreamed of. They're on my "To-sell" table as I type.

Red platform heels (17$ on eBay) - Yikes, I paid a lot for these! But I finally got a shade of red I can accept. It's just that now, I think I would have preferred a patent leather to a slightly worn-looking faux suede. Especially one with a wobbly heel. The seller gave me a partial refund, and I'm still trying to find a buyer to take these off my hands.

Red peep-toe velvet shoes (10$ at Rugged Wearhouse) - I know very well that peep toes look dumb on me, but when confronted with a 10$ pair in just the right shade and the raw desperation to get red shoes, I couldn't restrain myself. I regretted it as soon as I got home, but by then I had lost the receipt.
*The linguist in me would like to point you to a blog post I found about the definition and origin of the "smoking slipper."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Boots Under Cover

I've always thought that boots and skirts should be worn with a gap between them. I think it has something to do with wanting to prove that there are real legs under all that fabric, and I'm not just a human made out of pillows. In my mind, boots worn under a skirt are the sort of thing you might see on a Victorian bag lady.

However, lately I've been embracing the dowdy silhouette, because, let's face it, it's warm! I've done my fair share of sacrifice in the name of style, but I'm frankly tired of spending all day at work in a semi-coma because I'm too cold to move because I've got bare knees in December.

So there!

Friday, November 8, 2013

DIY Wire-Wrapped Pendant

When I acquire new jewelry, I put it in a basket on top of my wardrobe, to keep it separate from my old jewelry, until the first time I wear it. If it sits around in the basket for months, I know that it is of very limited use to me, and I might consider reselling it.

A certain pink agate pendant I bought from eBay landed there in April and sat there all the way through October, at which point, I finally realized I just didn't like it! There were a number of reasons for this. I had bought it primarily because I didn't have any pastel pink jewelry (except for a necklace set that was too fancy to wear with much of anything), but when I got it, I found it was less the powdery pink that I'd been expecting, and more of an uncooked-meat pink with purplish undertones. It wasn't an easy-to-wear color.

On top of that, I didn't like the setting. Though I foolishly didn't take any pictures before I went all DIY on it, it looked kind of like this picture here. It had a silver backing and 4 silver claws that reached around the outside edge to hold it onto the backing. The claws were really obtrusive, it looked unfinished and ungainly, and I just didn't want to wear it!

But I had paid a good $3.44 for it, and I certainly wasn't going to make that much reselling it, so I decided to try and make it more wearable before I gave up on it for good.

I've seen wire-wrapped jewelry before and always been a fan, so I decided to give it a try. The choice between silver and gold wire puzzled me for a second. Eventually I went with gold, mainly because I use it less and would like to get rid of the spool of gold wire that is unraveling itself all over my jewelry-making drawer. But I'm glad I chose the gold, because part of the problem with the original pendant was that it looked sickly on its silver backing. I think gold is a much better setting for this particular hue of stone.

To wrap it, I just pressed the wire into the back, and kept turning the pendant over until the wire was wrapped around it enough times to hold the loose end in. Then I kept wrapping until I felt like I was done. I cut the wire at the other end and wove it through the mess of wires on the back to lock it into place.

Then I took another short piece of wire, wove it into the back the same way, and twisted it into a loop through which I threaded the jewelry chain.

I have a feeling this is a very precarious arrangement. Already, one of the top strands of wire is lifting off the stone. I probably won't be able to wear this necklace more than once or twice, but for now, it's an improvement over being unable to wear it at all.

So it came out in public for the first time today. I paired it with a new blouse I just acquired in an eBay lot, a big brown corduroy skirt, and tall brown boots.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Alternative to Staples


As soon as I pulled this dress out of my closet, I thought two things:
1) It's so boring and grey! and 2) It has a hole in it.

The hole was from the staples I used to hold it up the first time I wore it. But that gave me an idea—why not wear it with another layer underneath, which will not only mitigate the excessive droop of the neckline, but also add some color to make it less boring and grey?

The logical color for this under-layer was teal, which would also allow me to wear my bold & beautiful blue-green boots.

And, I had extra time to get ready this morning, so I did makeup to match (the nails are leftovers from Halloween). When I got to the office, I added a long glass beaded necklace, which I forgot to wear when I posed for the first picture at home!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What will I pair with black next time?

Black and ___ is my fallback color scheme whenever I just can't muster the effort to put together something more artistic.

But when I do go with black and blank, I go all the way. So naturally when I put on a black and red dress, I don't go halfway with the accessorizing. I wore red tights and black boots and a black duster.

To really mix things up, I put on a silver and white necklace. I wish I'd had plain silver, but I really don't. Need to work on incorporating some simple basics into my jewelry collection.

Do not, on the other hand, need to work any more shoes into my collection. The black boots are just one of many pairs of relatively new shoes that have not yet made an appearance on this blog (I can count 5 others that are still waiting to even be worn). I bought them for a song at Goodwill while on a business trip in Portland (this was the morning after I broke the heel on the black shoes I'd brought with me, so they were a natural replacement), but after wearing them the whole day, I'm pretty certain they don't go well with bare legs or tights. They make my ankles look too scrawny. I think from now on I'll try to wear them over socks or jeans.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Buttoning Up

Today's jacket outfit is a summery sundress, autumned up by suede boots and a denim blazer.

I wasn't sure how to wear the blazer: open, partially buttoned, or buttoned all the way, so I took pictures of all three looks and let the camera tell the truth.

This jacket is too big to be worn unbuttoned all the way. It swims around me, which, in conjunction with the shapeless maxi dress, gives a very dowdy appearance. Nonetheless, this was how I wore it all day, because it was just too warm in my office to wear my jacket buttoned.

With one button buttoned, it looks, well, just plain silly. This jacket has the unique feature of having the top button exposed but the bottom two hidden behind a layer of fabric. So buttoning only one, be it the top or the middle, both created the odd illusion of a missing button. Plus, buttoning only the top did not help the fit problem mentioned above.

Buttoning all the buttons proved to be my favorite of the three options. It gathered in the blazer for a more streamlined look, and although I still find only one button visible at the top to be a weird way to wear your jacket, it was better than the even weirder way it looked with just one buttoned.

Style Tip There's no single way to decide whether to wear your jackets open, closed, or partially closed. But the choice can have a huge impact on how you look, so consider it wisely!

I did learn one other thing from wearing this outfit. Style Tip Don't wear suede boots with a long dress made of clingy fabric. The one will constantly adhere to the other, giving you a static problem that no amount of fabric softener can cure!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Green for Halloween

My officemates dressed collectively as a rainbow for Halloween, and I was my favorite color to wear (second to pink, which isn't in the traditional rainbow)—green!

This post is just for fun – unsurprisingly I am not proud of the green polo shirt which is clearly too small – but it amuses me to combine a lot of the same color into one outfit at any rate, and Halloween is the perfect excuse to really take it over the top! I would have worn green pants, too, but since not everyone could come up with a full outfit in their chosen color, we agreed to just wear blue jeans.

I posed next to my bike, because it's Greenie!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blue / Jacket

Here's the first of many promised jacket pictures!

I wore this jacket a few times earlier this year, once for the "teacher" look I posted in January. I sure do like to wear it with blue. And those shoes too.

This time I've left the bottom button undone, which my male coworker assures me is the only proper way to wear suit jackets. I have yet to ascertain whether that rule applies to women's jackets as well.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jackets for the Win(ter, spring, and fall)!

Every year I seem to go on some sort of fashion spree, in which I get mildly obsessed with a particular category of clothing.

In 2010, it was knee socks. 2011, arm warmers. 2012, shoes (that, I have to say, is an ongoing obsession, but it has tapered off a bit). This past year, it seems to have been jackets. Since last December, I have acquired 9 coats and jackets, and I still want more! I want one in every color.

Jackets are my new favorite accessory. They are the tools that are going to allow me to extend my beloved summer wardrobe into fall and winter.

Get Jacketed

Jackets turn the sheerest, most sleeveless dresses into cool-weather items. Throw a jacket over anything, and you instantly have one more color, one more texture to spice up your outfit. A jacket turns the most casual getup into an office-appropriate ensemble.

I can't wait to show you all the wonderful ways that you can make jackets work for you! Coming up in the next few posts!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to Shorten a Necklace

Overly long necklaces are my continual burden. I don't know why, but every necklace that I get, the bottom end of it seems to fall right at the line of my collar. Resulting in annoying situations like the necklace creeping under my shirt, where it looks stupid or can't be seen at all.

Recognize this necklace from my other blog? Probably not,
because the bird is hidden under my shirt!

How to get the necklace up to a more reasonable length?

Well, the quick and dirty fix is to tie a couple of knots in the chain. I usually do one knot on each side of the clasp, and then work up to two on each side if necessary. Really simple, right? So simple, in fact, that you probably didn't need to be told...but just in case that was a new concept to you, there it is.

Most of the necklaces in my collection are all knotted up in this way, which leads me to believe I need a more permanent solution. So my next project is to figure out how to shorten a necklace chain the right way. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dress Shirt

 It's a fairly average-looking outfit, of plain trousers, neutral shoes, and a plain purple shirt. If it weren't for the rather large necklace, it would be truly unremarkable.

Except for this little secret: the shirt is a dress! Much too short and tight to wear comfortably at work, yet too casual to save for a special occasion, this purple dress (bought on eBay, mostly because it came with a skirt that I really liked) seemed doomed to a life in no-man's land.

Until I learned that it didn't look too bad hiked up above my hips as a long ruched-looking top. Ta-da!

Think outside the box

Double your wardrobe's versatility by letting your clothes do double-duty. Don't be held back by traditional definitions. Dresses can become tops! Skirts can become tops! Can pants become tops? Hm, that remains to be seen.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Garden Party

My legs + high heels + this skirt = an ostrichThere are two things I love in this world: Full skirts and enormous heels, but sadly, I just don't think they go well together. I paired this full-skirted skater dress with green high heels first, but all I could see was a thunder-thighed ostrich. For some reason, the silhouette of wide at the hips and long and narrow at the toes just doesn't work, which leads me to a new... Style Tip The wider the skirt, the flatter the shoe.

I traded my green stilettos for more demure shoes in burgundy with mid-heels. Naturally they had roses on the toes, to tie in oh-so-unsubtly with the chintzy floral pattern on the dress. The lower heels went much better, anyway, with the 50's vibe the dress was putting out. I decided to continue in that vein with a classic round-neck cardigan.

I wanted my hair to reflect the retro look, and to my knowledge, long straight hair was pretty much never done in the 50's. Lacking the ability to do voluminous short waves, I decided to go with an updo. What I ended up with was some sort of weird almost-French twist (which I've never been able to do, but I have to say I enjoyed the effect of this failed attempt).

Lastly, I threw on a ladylike pink necklace (I considered the ubiquitous 50's pearls, but I didn't want to go overboard, and I wanted to wear this necklace because it's new) and some vintage earrings with – what else – roses embedded in the glass!