Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'll be home for Christmas

The week of Christmas is always a sad time of year for the Unfashionista, when she throws a bunch of pants and a bunch of sweaters into a suitcase, drives to arctic Ohio, and hopes to survive several days of looking depressingly normcore.

Needless to say, I won't be posting many Unfashion pics in the upcoming days, so here's one for the road—literally. I've done my best to inject a little holiday cheer into my comfy driving clothes with festive green pants (in a super-stretchy fabric just made for hours of sitting in a car), a glittery gold sweater (can be worn with a coat or without, depending on how high I feel like blasting the heat and how many pit stops we have to make) and brown flat boots with seasonably gold trim. I also wore green earrings, but I didn't bother to do anything nice to my hair, so ignore that part. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Just Add Sleeves

Lately, I've been fascinated by the concept of contrasting panels—like those blue shirts with white collars and cuffs—and shirts with contrasting sleeves.

Today I've attempted to create the effect by combining a sleeveless dress and a plain black T-shirt. The purple dress already had black trim (including this weird attached side-tie that I still can't quite figure out), so the sleeves seemed like a natural addition. They look like they were made for each other!

I added some knee-high black boots, and the look was complete! (Originally I wore it with a black necklace, but it didn't look quite right—I think the black ring on the neckline is enough.)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stars of the East

Even my eyes are red and green!
Riding home from errands yesterday, I had just one thought on my mind: what to wear to the party that night. It was a housewarming/holiday party, so I knew my kelly green dress would be a great choice, but what would I wear with it?

The dress is pretty short, and I wanted to have something on my legs, because even if we were going to be inside, it was a cold day, and I didn't want to risk getting a chill. When I remembered the pair of tattoo-style star pantyhose waiting unworn in my dresser, I knew I was on the right track—they would be just perfect for a festive holiday theme.

Stars, in my mind, often go hand-in-hand with a punk vibe, but today I wanted to hover at the other end of the spectrum—cultivating a cutesy, innocent look inspired by the Japanese kawaii aesthetic.

So I put on a pair of pastel lacy shoes, curled my bangs, gathered my hair in a soft half-ponytail (I would have curled the ends of that, too, but I ran out of time), and did my makeup in gentle shades of shimmering pink. I finished it all off with eye makeup intended to make my eyes look huge, and it worked! When he saw me, a friend commented that I looked like an "anime girl."

Monday, December 15, 2014


Once upon a time, during a trying-on-clothes marathon (I have those frequently when I'm looking for new outfits to wear for the upcoming week), I happened to throw this pink jacket over my red skirt suit. I thought it looked great! Pretty colors, a nice tailored look, and just enough quirkiness to qualify as "Unfashion Professional" rather than "Business Boring." I thought with pink, red, and white, I could kind of evoke a peppermint / holiday vibe just in time for Christmas (this would also work well for Valentine's Day, but I didn't want to wait that long).

I planned to wear the combo with ivory tights, but I discovered to my chagrin the day before showtime that they were missing – gone – gone forever! They might have developed a hole or a stain or gotten sucked into the vortex in the washing machine, but in any case, they were not there when I needed them. I compromised with a pair of pink tights that took the whole outfit over the top, into the realm of clothing comedy.

No worries, I can be the butt of my own joke! But next time, assuming I haven't replaced my ivory ones by then, I'll probably wear this outfit without the tights.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Speakeasy style

I've only had this dress for almost a year. A year sitting in my closet, getting rejected every time I have a chance to get dressed up, just waiting for the right moment. I'm glad I saved it, because this weekend, the right (no, perfect!) moment finally arrived.

The occasion was the DC Craft Bartender's Guild Annual Repeal Day Ball, which we discovered at the last minute after I professed a need to go someplace fancy because I had too many unworn dresses in my closet. The Repeal Day Ball was just what I had been waiting for—not only was it a formal occasion, it was also an event where the attendees are encouraged to dress in 1920's/30's fashions (it celebrates the repeal of Prohibition in 1933).

Sweet! (I mean, nifty!) I could not think of a better occasion to finally wear my fringed black dress!

Accessorizing it was a dream. Being black, it would go with just about anything – but in many trial runs over the months, I learned that the fringe gets easily caught on spiked heels, so I went with my only pair of winter wedges, in gold glitter.

Once I had decided on a gold theme, I just layered on a couple of gold-toned necklaces I happened to have lying around (I never realized how well they went together) in that extra-long flapper style.

Of course, an Unfashionista never goes halfway when it comes to an opportunity to dress in costume, so I quickly whipped up a little flapper headband out of a piece of T-shirt sleeve, and ornamented it with some gold leaves which I cannibalized from a necklace.

I experienced some minor difficulties with tangling on the way to the event (extra-long fringe, a walk of several blocks, and the added complication of heavy rain are no one's idea of a blessing), but I managed to get it all straightened out and was pleased to receive several compliments from other guests. One even told me I won the award for the best flapper outfit! Sigh. Let me just bask in that while you gaze upon my masterpiece.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Plaid Mary

This cute little plaid dress with the knee-length ruffled hem looks as cute and conservative as can be—except that it's strapless and falls down without a moment's notice. This dress has inspired me to vow – for real this time – that I will never even consider wearing a strapless dress without first sewing some support into it, but since I hadn't vowed that two days ago, I allowed safety pins and a blazer to come to my rescue!

The lace hem and the fitted jacket with its peplum at the back reminded me of fussy Victorian fashions, so I wore old-timey lace up boots. In the red coat, I felt just a little bit like Mary Poppins. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Star boots

I never much cared for the taupe patent leather booties. They had the liquid murky look of a mud puddle, and they never seemed to go with any of my outfits. For about a year, I stored them at my boyfriend's sister's house as backup shoes in case of an overnight visit, but when she asked him to move all his stuff out so she could have a usable guestroom, suddenly they were back in my possession. I still loved the shape, and I still hated the color. I also had an idea for what to do with them.

Not too long before the Great Eviction, I had found a pair of boots I absolutely loved on a shopping site. They were in one of my favorite colors (fuchsia) and one of my favorite styles (lace-up) and one of my favorite motifs (stars). I would have bought them on the spot, except for the price, and the fact that they'd be pretty hard to find things to wear with. It's a good thing I waited, because they provided the inspiration for one of the most epic craft projects I ever undertook.

It started in September, when I pulled a can of house paint out of the shed. I was going to cover the taupe booties in a beautiful snow white coating. I thought about painting the zippers white too, but decided that after a couple of zips, most of the paint would be scraped off, and they'd look better in an enduring taupe than a flaking white. So I covered the zippers with duct tape and began.

This phase of the project was long. So long. I usually only had time to paint after I got home from work, and I needed to give the shoes two hours of drying time between coats, which meant that most days, I only got around to adding one coat. And it took a lot of coats to completely obscure the glossy base layer. I actually did not finish painting the boots white until late October. Then the project got derailed by the arrival of Halloween and the necessity of making the most awesome costumes imaginable.

And then after that, I had to delay for another week or so while I got around to finding pink paint for the stars. Then, once I had the paint, I had to make my own stencils.

This was an intimidating task, but eventually I found a star graphic online and printed out a bunch of copies of it in various sizes. Then I traced heavily over the printouts onto some heat-inking labels that I'd acquired from my previous job. Then I cut out the stars with an X-acto knife and waited for yet another week—we were hosting a Thanksgiving party, and I couldn't have shoe-painting detritus all over the house with guests around.

Finally, art time came. I deliberately did not look at the picture of the boots that had inspired me, because I wanted these shoes to be an original work. But I did remember that they had had a sort of airbrushed look, which I liked, so I decided to bust out my airbrush (haven't used it since I painted my car 5 years ago) and give it a go.

The strategically random placement of stars took me a couple of days, and when I decided there were enough, I stopped. The airbrushed effect was pretty subtle. I experimented with splatter painting with a brush, but I didn't like the effect, so I let well enough alone.

I finished up the paint job by painting the soles white (I considered pink but decided that would detract from the stars, and I wanted all eyes on them), and then set in on the laces. I had removed the laces before I even started painting the shoes and wrapped them around a lamppost to help smooth out their wrinkles. Now I unwrapped them.

I tossed them in a bowl of bleach mixed with water and let them sit for around a half-hour.

They emerged a pale yellow color that would be much more conducive to dyeing.

When they were dry the next day, I dumped them in another bowl of pink hair dye and a tiny bit of water to thin the dye, mashed them around in it so they would get saturated, and let them sit there (covered with plastic wrap so the dye wouldn't dry out) for several hours. They came out of the dye bath the perfect shade of deep magenta. I was really pleased with the results.

These shoes made their inaugural journey last Saturday, when I wore them to a dark bar where no one saw them. I had intended to go to karaoke, where they would be sure to get the attention that is their due on stage, but unfortunately, karaoke was not in the stars (hahaha) that night.

These boots aren't really made for walking (I know what karaoke song I won't be singing!). As I had feared, the paint is already starting to crack, and the color is smudging, so these delightful shoes won't ever become a wardrobe staple, but I hope I'll get another chance to wear them before they fall apart.