Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spider Dog and his web

Two years ago, I purchased a spider web dress. It was on a whim, and obviously it took me quite a long time before I found a way to wear it.

First, it needed some heavy alteration.

Skin-tight to the knees, and then suddenly not-quite-skin-tight, ending awkwardly just above my ankles, it was probably one of the most unflattering dresses I ever put on—so bad that I couldn't even take a "before" picture.

The first thing I did is cut several inches off the bottom. I then cut the single strip into two strips, and then sewed them both back on to the bottom to create a ruffle. Unfortunately, the ruffle still fell at an awkward length, so I cut off the ruffle, cut off more of the dress, and reattached the ruffle at hip level.

This dog doesn't know what he's in for!

Cool! I now had a form-flattering spiderweb dress and some extra spiderweb material to be used for whatever I could imagine! And what I could imagine was, unsurprisingly, a Halloween costume. Over the 2 years I'd owned it, I had thought long and hard about how I wanted to wear the dress: maybe as a witch? Perhaps "spider woman?" Finally I decided that a literal interpretation was best, and I would just go as a spider web! My costume was basically a spider theme superimposed on a pretty dress, so my goal was now to take "pretty" and "spiders" and run with that theme.

I happened to have a pair of spider charms that I had removed from a necklace last year (I bought the necklace because I wanted the black choker, but not all the goth accoutrements that came with it), which I attached to earring hooks.

I had also purchased a hand-sized hairy spider on eBay back in August to wear with the costume, and I had the aforementioned leftover spiderweb fabric, which, in a moment of genius, I decided could be made into a veil—a perfect semi-spooky, totally feminine addition to any costume. Basically, I just cut the scrap into an oval shape, wrapped it around half of my face, bunched up the rest of it, and pinned it into my hair. I then pinned the spider on top of the veil with two claw clips around its legs.

I wore flesh-toned leggings and tank top under the dress, the better to make the spiderweb stand out, and then I put on the most dramatic makeup I could muster in the short half-hour I had to get ready.

So that was it for my costume, but my boyfriend and I had happened to find giant spiders at the craft store when we went there the week before, and, at half off, they were too cool to resist. Since we were going to a Halloween benefit for animals, where there would be a pet costume contest, we thought we would dress up our pet as Spider Dog, and I would go along as his web. This necessitated sewing some Velcro onto a dog shirt and then perching the spider on top, which did not please him in the least—even though he won third place in the "Best Couple" contest!

So, he did not wear his spider very long, but oh well, that's just more spider for me!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One pin down

I just had a great idea for a joke!
Today's outfit was inspired by the weather. Cold, rainy, and unimproved by the lack of heat from our ever-reliable building facilities department at work, it was not a day for dressing in short sleeves or light layers. I pulled out the warmest dress I could find and proceeded to contemplate ways to make it more interesting.

Dark blue velvet, I thought, would go well with bright green velvet, so out came the eye-piercing neon green shoes. I needed something to unify the disparate colors, so initially I went for the only bright green necklace I own. But I wore that necklace the last time I wore those shoes, so I didn't feel excited about the pairing. Then it occurred to me that now was a perfect time to work in one of grandma's brooches.

The green leaf with copper accents had never been worn, even though green is one of my favorite colors. True, it was not nearly such a clear spring green as the shoes, but Style Tip introducing another shade of the same color is usually not a bad move. So, on it went! And served, incidentally, to help keep my neckline in place, since it was having a tendency to droop.

End-of-the-day-messy-hair cannot stop me from enjoying the joke I'm about to make.
My next challenge was choosing a title for this post. I was going to refer to the leaf as an ivy leaf, but it is not an ivy leaf. Then I thought grape leaf, or fig leaf, but it isn't quite one of those either. So then I decided I would just refer to it as a pin, and leaf it alone. Haha! This paragraph exclusively included for the purpose of a really bad pun! A pin pun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'm butterflying!

It had been a cold and dreary week, it was Friday, and I really wanted to cheer myself up.

So I built my outfit around a bright sky blue T-shirt with silver threads. I could have worn it with pretty much any pants, but in keeping with my desire to be bright and cheerful, I wore blindingly white ones.

My roots are growing out again, so it's high time for me to start covering them up, which I did with a scarf featuring the brightest and most cheerful of animals—butterflies! I tied it in the same bow configuration I used when I wore my orange scarf.

Then I topped it all off (bottomed it all off?) with purple shoes! Happy Friday! (Almost a week too late.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014



If rainbow is my favorite color scheme and stars are my favorite motif, houndstooth might be my favorite pattern.

Last winter, I got a black and white houndstooth dress. The pattern was giant and digitized and exaggerated, and I loved it! Until I wore it for the first time, and then I found that the neckline didn't really suit me. I was about to sell it, when I realized it still had lots of potential as a layering piece, as long as I kept the top half covered up!

Here is my first attempt. I originally thought this outfit was pretty fun because it featured a houndstooth jacket over the houndstooth dress, but later I noticed the pattern on the jacket is not actually houndstooth!

Oh well. At least I can still say I enjoy the effect of the dress just barely peeking out from under the bottom hem of the jacket.

Why am I so soft-focus? Is this a dream sequence?
I also performed quite a feat of color coordination, matching the pastel pink of the jacket with my dainty little earrings and even the rubber band I used to secure my braid.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The art of wardrobe switching

When you're a clothes horse living in an old house which was not built for the modern woman's prodigious wardrobe, you must learn to get creative with clothing storage.

My bedroom has a closet approximately 4 feet wide and just deep enough for one row of hangers. It has one regular-sized door and no lighting, so half of it is constantly shrouded in darkness (I tried putting in some tap lights, but they really don't help). It is impossible to store your clothes in this closet and actually see them, so I keep my most frequently worn and colorful clothes in a wardrobe from Ikea. However, even with two closets and a dresser, I still don't have enough space for all my clothes, so I divide my wardrobe up by season and store the off-season stuff in various dark recesses of my closets. Although my system has changed a bit over the last few years, if you want to read more, you can get an idea from my 2012 blog post about my places for everything.

Today's post is going to cover different ground—the actual process of switching out wardrobes every season, which truly is a labor of love.

I divide my clothes into three categories: winter, summer, and transitional, which works for both spring and fall. So four times a year, I drag my dusty tubs full of clothing out into the light and commence a major sort-out. When I do, my room looks something like this.

Because I'd be tempted to just bring out new clothes every time I get bored (thus running out of new clothes more quickly and paving the way to compulsive shopping and overconsumption), I set strict rules for when I can switch out my wardrobe. In the fall, when the peak highs drop into the 70's for a whole week, I bring out the transitional wardrobe and put away my tank tops and sandals. Then when it gets colder – below 60 for a whole week – I bring out my fuzzy boots and sweaters and pack up most of the warm-weather clothes that survived the summer purge. I always keep a few off-season pieces in the backs of my closets, to wear in case of unseasonable weather, an unplanned getaway, or just a desire to wear something different. In the spring, I wait until the temperature rises back into the 60's (for a full week) to bring out my transitional clothes and store the winter ones. I then make another changeover when the highs hit the 80's (for a week again).

Because I am mildly OCD and can't stand having different types of hangers next to each other in the closet, but also don't have enough of any given type of hanger to go around, switching my wardrobe necessitates moving almost every hanging item of clothing onto a different hanger. I also launder every foldable article before I squirrel it away into a storage tote (one year I made the mistake of putting some unwashed clothes into storage, and by next season, they smelled rank).

So, as you can imagine, the process of putting away the last season's clothing and rolling out the new one's can take hours over several days, but I look forward to it every season. In part, because it means I get to gaze upon all the new clothes that I've been accumulating but unable to wear for months. Last spring, I had a massive 24-piece collection of new-to-me goodies that I proudly photographed and posted. Although I claimed in that post that I have trouble buying cold-weather clothes, I made a concerted effort to acquire some new winter wear over the summer, resulting in the pile you see below. Now I'm ready to take on the fall temperatures—almost with a smile!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lacing it up

I'm really loving this black lace top that I inherited from a friend. I can put any plain old tank top under it and suddenly have an outfit that's vibrant and multi-textured and layered and just interesting in so many ways!

I especially enjoy wearing it over bright colors, because I love bright colors, and the black lace tones them down just enough to add a touch of seriousness for work.

Of course, today I totally negated that effect by adding a bright pink skirt and earrings, and letting the pink edges of my socks peek out over the tops of my already-over-the-top (for the workplace, at least) boots. I decided that more toning-down was necessary, so I added a sober black cardigan.

But the cardigan came off in the evening when I left the office and headed over to trivia night at the bar!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Plaid, Polka Dots, and Pink

Generally, I like to take a pretty hyper-coordinated approach to dressing. Everything I wear must complement everything else I wear. If they look like they were sold as a matched set, so much the better!

This is why I just haven't been able to get onboard with the continuing trend (especially among the fashion set) of mixing prints.

However, an Unfashionista is nothing without a spirit of adventure, so I decided to dip my toes in the water for only the second time in my fashion-blogging life (the first was a few years ago when I decided to combine stars with lace) by wearing a polka-dotted dress with a plaid jacket.

This time, they are tied together by a common color scheme (black and white) so this is a minimally daring foray. But a day without color is like a day without sunshine, so I couldn't resist perking it all up with a pair of pink shoes. You'll notice the shoes also have polka dots, but not just any polka dots—they have polka dots aligned in rows, just like on the dress!

Looks like this ostensible fashion adventure turned out to be pretty hyper-coordinated after all.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The ends of the rainbow

Several weeks ago, I bought this shirt because it was three dollars. Being collared, it looked like it would make a nice addition to my office wardrobe. Being extra long, it turned out to be somewhat difficult to wear with anything other than skinny jeans—which aren't my first choice for a workplace look.

I tried it with a number of combinations of pants and shoes. Some of them worked, but none of them really struck my fancy. Until, while wearing the shirt with my most reliable old pink pants, I happened to grab a pair of purple shoes on a whim. As soon as they were on my feet, my mind went wow!

What had been, up til now, a run-of the mill outfit with every pair of neutral shoes I own, had suddenly become an Unfashionista's masterpiece. Its appeal, I think, is in the interplay of colors, all of which are in the red-purple area of the color wheel. They are such closely related neighbors, yet each one is so distinct and bold in its own way!

Well, since I had just found the color scheme of my dreams, I knew I had to play it up, so added a couple of bangles in red and purple, an amethyst necklace and matching earrings, and a purple clip to do up my hair.