Saturday, April 23, 2016

Gonna be a hoedown

I found this skirt at the thrift store for half off of 4 dollars. The design is a little over-the-top, but over-the-top is what I do best! The construction is a little iffy; it looks homemade and some of the seams are crazily uneven, but I have a special affinity for the other clumsy tailors of the world! And the size is quite a bit too big; I had to reattach most of the waist fastenings at a more optimal spot for my waist, but more fabric means more swish in the skirt! I realized after I took the pictures that I still left too much room in the waist, which makes it look a little dumpy with a tucked-in shirt, so I'll probably alter it again later. But overall, I am pretty pleased with my 2-dollar find. I thought it was a great, somewhat irreverent, thing to wear for fun on a Friday!

One of the things that other fashionistas do, which I'm not good at, is wearing clothes in unexpected combinations—say, sneakers or a T-shirt with a ballgown. Sure, I wear unexpected clothes (wearing a flouncy skirt in a crimson bandanna print to anything other than a square dance is a good example), but I tend to wear them with other clothes that fit a common theme—for example, grandma skirt goes with grandma boots, 90's dress with combat boots, yellow and green pants with yellow and green necklace, and I think you're getting the picture. I don't take many risks with mixing prints or mixing high and low or mixing modern with old. If I were to have a fashion New Year's resolution, it would probably be along the lines of trying to leave my ever-coordinated comfort zone...though it's not like I haven't tried before!

Anyway, this long UnPhilosophical interlude is just something that came to my mind as I realized that the shoes I wore were right along the lines of what you'd expect to see paired with a midi-length circle skirt: white oxfords with a low demure heel. When I think of these shoes, I picture a girl from the 50's, carrying her schoolbooks and about to go to a sock hop! If I hadn't been wearing compression stockings, I would have surely worn bobby socks under these shoes.

And on top, the bow-neck white T-shirt calls to mind a Western aesthetic (string ties, anyone?) which goes along perfectly with my square-dance skirt.

From there on, the little details are all chosen for color coordination—a red necklace and red earrings.

So while this outfit doesn't earn many points for creativity, I still stand by its power to provide fun on a Friday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Socks, sandals, and celebration!

Last week, I spent Tuesday through Thursday in a compression stocking, which, as you probably know by now, means I was forced to wear long pants to hide my socks for the entirety of the week.

And then Friday, my boyfriend and I traveled to Boston for a wedding reception. A vacation can be a trying time for an Unfashionista—a time when one is forced to live out of a suitcase, without one's massive collection of clothing, and is usually obliged to dress for comfort and versatility (blugh!) rather than aesthetics.

My boyfriend hinted that we might go clubbing during our trip, so I got excited and filled half my suitcase with various clothes and shoes that I could wear to different types of establishments. I got so excited, in fact, that I forgot to pack pajamas and workout clothing. And after all that, we did not even set foot near a nightclub! So you can imagine how frustrated I have felt, having spent the last 4 days wearing nothing but old jeans, the same pair of sneakers, and a bunch of mismatched layers of shirts and jackets for warmth (Boy, was Boston cold! Even when the sunny areas were warm, the shady ones were icy, and the wind was positively biting!).

This should give you some kind of perspective on why today's outfit is so momentous to me! Finally, I can spend the day in a short and sleeveless dress! Finally I can wear high heels! I was so thrilled at my opportunity to dress snazzy again that I broke a rule (the rule that says I can't get out my summer clothes until it's been warm for a week) and broke out a pair of sandals that I purchased a few weeks ago on eBay.

I guess it's not really breaking the rule if the sandals were never in storage in the first place, but these sandals were worth breaking the rules for—these are sky-high, velvet platforms with 4-color rainbow stripes on the heels and buckles! When I first tried them on, I learned by accident that they looked pretty awesome with black socks underneath, so I did what I haven't tried since 2013 and rocked the socks-and-sandals look!

Since I was celebrating my liberation from the Dowdy Life, I went for over-the-top color with a bold purple dress, orange headband, and bright yellow earrings. In the morning, I covered it all up with a simple black cardigan, but I ditched that Sensible Sweater as soon as I could!

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Red Wedding

My boyfriend and  were invited to two wedding celebrations for the same couple (some people just don't know when to stop!), and I was pretty stoked to have two opportunities to dress fancy within a month! The instant I heard the news, I began planning my outfits and quickly decided on two green dresses.

Then we got the official invitation. My heart fell when my boyfriend told me that the bride and groom requested that we wear red. Red! Now, red has its time and place, but when you have your heart set on a green dress, red can throw a real wrench into your plans.

Then I actually read the official invitation. It didn't say we had to wear head-to-toe red, and it didn't say we had to wear red at all; all it said was something along the lines of "We'd be honored if you wear something – even a tiny accessory – that's red." And they were having a red fashion show!

Well! That turned this dress code suggestion from a disappointing restriction into a fashion challenge! And you all know how much the Unfashionista loves a challenge!

Since I didn't feel like buying a whole red dress, what red accessories did I have in my wardrobe, and what dress could I wear with them?

Funny you should ask!

I had recently purchased a party dress from the thrift store for 5 dollars. It was a pink, cream, and burgundy paisley pattern, and I felt it would go well with a variety of shades of red. I tried it on with my trusty red hand-me-down blazer (which has unexpectedly turned into quite the wardrobe workhorse), and it was a hit!

As for shoes, I was torn among several pairs: pastel pink (cute, but really tall and uncomfortable), burgundy (classic, but a little beat-up, and I worried it would compete with the red in the blazer), and cream lace (not even a shade of red, also very unstable and liable to fall off, but looked so cute with the dress!). I ultimately decided my ability to dance at the reception was more important than having the perfect shoes, so I went with the good old burgundy ones.

Next decision was whether to wear classy silver jewelry or gaudy red earrings. Since I am who I am, I'm sure you can guess which route I took. If you're going to go red, you might as well go all the way!

I strutted my stuff on the wedding runway along with the other red-bedecked guests, received effusive compliments from the bride (I'm sure she said that to all the girls!), had a grand old time, and now look forward eagerly to the next occasion, which will be my first beach wedding!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Shades of Midnight

This afternoon, I had a follow-up treatment scheduled on my left leg. After the procedure, I knew I would have another 6 days of wearing compression stockings, so I wanted to make the most of my last few hours of freedom—i.e. go barelegged for the last time in a long time.

Fortunately, I had this outfit at the ready, consisting of a below-the-knee skirt and calf-high boots. Everything in the outfit is in shades of blue and purple.

I was also able to put my hair in a ponytail for the first time since getting it cut short in December. Woohoo! Infinite styling options are now at my fingertips! Fun hair should help make up for the week of boring pants that surely awaits me.
In other good news, I only have to wear the compression stocking for 5 days this time. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Teal tunic

This is yet another of the tunics I bought on eBay in January, and it's by far my favorite! It also needed the least alteration—just the removal of the top button loop since the button was missing.

Like all of them, it was a tad too small, but I squeezed myself into it somehow and wore it with plain black leggings. The teal and beige floral pattern on black, combined with the brilliant blue sleeves and trim, are so beautiful by themselves, it doesn't need much more.

I had coincidentally snagged this pair of matching teal flat shoes at Rugged Wearhouse a week or two before, so that's what I wore, feeling color-coordinated and pleased with myself for minding my foot health in the rarely-seen (on me) flats!
Having my hair short has allowed me to be very lazy with it, basically only wearing it in one style (except when I curl it for fancy occasions), but I'm starting to get bored! Today I made an extra effort, putting the sides into twists.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Compression sock chic: Part 3

Tuesday: Sad Schoolteacher

I told you at the beginning that I'd be wearing compression stockings for 7 days. But if you're counting, you will have realized that today is day 8, and I'm still going strong. The reason is that my appointments were in the afternoon, so I actually had to wear my compression stocking outfits for 7 full days and 1 half day. Today was the half day, and it was half in every sense of the word. I only wore a stocking on my right leg, meaning that I'd have to do another outfit of full leg coverage. I've been wanting to wear this yellow midi skirt ever since I bought it at the thrift store (3$) about a month ago, so I designed my outfit around it, choosing brown knee-high boots to ensure my legs didn't show, and a brown blouse. Overall, I'm not thrilled with the look, feeling it makes me look frumpy, but I guess we can't win 'em all when we're forced to wear compression stockings!

Still, I have to give my compression stockings props for being actually more comfortable than I thought! I couldn't bend my legs in them. They made sitting uncomfortable. All week, I felt confined in them and looked forward to the day I could go without them. But then, when I did, I started noticing how much my leg hurt. The site on my calf where they inserted the laser feels stingy and tingly. My upper thigh feels bruised and achy. I never noticed this pain when I was wearing the stockings, and indeed, the right leg which is still socked up feels just like it has all week: a little stiff, and pinched where the stocking gets wrinkled at the back of my knee, but not at all sore. I've also been suffering from a particularly bad case of eczema on my legs all winter, but the entire time I wore the compression stockings, my legs never itched. The first day I went without one, an instantly itchy leg! So I learned a valuable fact about compression stockings today: They definitely keep pain from the procedure under control, and they might even be beneficial for eczema sufferers!

Actually, I learned a lot of valuable facts about compression stockings over the past week. And, in the interest of being a font of information for other fashionistas who may be contemplating a vein treatment, I will share them!

Compression Stocking Style Tips

  1. Putting on your compression stockings is the hardest thing you will do all day. They cling to your legs like a second, very slippery, skin. You will have to use all your dexterity and a good bit of strength to get a grip on the fabric, and then you will have to do it multiple times as you work them slowly up your leg. And if you happen to misjudge the position of the heel cup, you'll have to pull them all off and start over. And if you happen to put them on inside out (twice in a row on Monday, OMG!), you'll have to pull them off and start over. If you're going to be wearing them as part of a recovery, practice putting them on before your legs are all sore and covered with band-aids. 
  2. Compression-sock muffin-top is real! If you have any extra flesh on your thighs, it's going to bulge out at the top like a balloon. Don't expect to wear any short skirts or tight leggings while your compression stockings are on.
  3. You can mitigate your muffin top by pulling up your compression stockings lower than you ordinarily would. But be warned, if they are loose, they'll wrinkle...and wrinkles at that degree of tightness hurt!
  4. You could also mitigate the muffin top by wearing waist-high compression tights (I assume), but I advise against it (scroll down to read a slightly digressive story on the relative merits of pantyhose and thigh highs). Sure, the stockings limit you more in what you can wear, but the convenience factor makes it well worth it. Whether it's the surgical-grade silicone they have dotting the top, or the boa-constrictor tightness, compression stockings stay up all day, and you'll never have to pull them off to go pee and then fight them back on again.
  5. Unless you're a masochist or really fond of peep-toe boots, don't get toeless compression socks. I did some reading on the subject; aside from a few cases where doctors want to be able to check the circulation in the wearer's toes, the only reason some compression socks lack toes is because some people prefer them that way—and I can't imagine why. It is a truly unpleasant feeling to have half your foot neatly encased in a sock, while the other half slides around sweatily in your shoe. The open toes also mean that they ride up your foot, looking mighty dumb on shoes with a low vamp. I almost always had to double-up my toeless socks with a pair of regular socks, which seems like overkill when the compression socks are so thick already.
Toeless socks not looking great in my shoes

A related (but not very) story

For those of you who have not experienced this particular joy of femininity, wearing pantyhose involves a tedious process of slowly hitching a tissue-thin veil of tight fabric over your legs, all the way to your waist, taking excruciating care not to pull too hard, lest you rip it. Now imagine doing this multiple times a day, every time you use the bathroom, and you will understand why pantyhose has gone out of vogue.

But when you're required to wear it to meet a dress code, you do what any sensible woman would do: complain. In college, I sang in a choir, and I remember being involved in a discussion of how annoying it was that we had to wear pantyhose. And one of my choir-mates, with a boisterous air of authority, offered us a solution: "Thigh-highs." I was struck by her wisdom, and for many years afterward, tried to make thigh-high pantyhose my leg covering of choice.

It never worked; the things were always falling down. I remember distinctly scurrying into a job interview, already running late, but having to stop at the bathroom to reposition my errant stockings. At that point, I vowed never to wear thigh highs again. Of course, I did just that when over-the-knee socks came into fashion, and have been struggling ever since to find ways to keep them from falling down, but fortunately, compression stockings are not like ordinary stockings.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Compression Sock Chic: Part 2

Saturday: Underweight farmer

The bar is pretty low for my weekend outfits, which generally consist of jeans, boots, and a shirt, so I didn't imagine I'd have much trouble finding stuff to wear over my compression stockings. But I was wrong. On Saturday I discovered that tight pants are yet another thing you can't wear wear with your medical thigh-highs. If you want to know why, I have four words for you: compression sock muffin top. My bulging thighs were painfully obvious when I tried to wear my skinny jeans, so I went instead for the somewhat too-large brown pants. The entire outfit is almost a wholesale repeat of one I wore about a month ago, right down to the yellow earrings. But fortunately I didn't blog about it then (even though I thought the pairing of the green harlequin sweater with the green gingham shirt was a clever trick), so I was able to wear it a second time without feeling like too much of a fashion failure. On the other hand, I had never before thought that people noticed that my brown jeans are a little too big, but on Saturday, someone commented that I must have lost weight, since I was swimming in my pants. That gave me pause. I may have to rethink those jeans' place in my wardrobe.

Sunday: Free bird

After nearly a whole week of discovering the ever-more-numerous limitations of compression stocking fashion, I was feeling rebellious. You say I can't wear tight pants? I'll show you otherwise! When I put on my stockings this morning, I tried to stretch them as little as possible. I thought if the top edge sat lower on my thigh, it would also sit on a skinnier part of my thigh, which might result in less bulging. And I was right! Over them, I pulled on my beloved pair of kelly green jeggings. Yes, you could still see the lines where the elastic band of the socks held them up, but they were hardly noticeable. I wore those pants because I'd had a hankering for my metallic beige tunic, and the bright green with the pale neutral is a combination that makes me happy...and also happens to provide the perfect backdrop for my green bird necklace!

Monday: Rockstar / CEO hybrid

This outfit is one that I planned before the hint of compression stockings ever crossed my mind. The weather had been warming up, and I'd originally wanted to wear it with nothing on my legs. However, it lent itself well to being paired with my black stockings, so I went ahead with it. At least I had some cute green earrings to wear with this ensemble, because I was feeling pretty severe in my black shirt, black and green lace skirt, black stockings, and black boots—I am learning that black compression socks mean a lot of black-heavy outfits. By this time I had a better idea of what to expect from my compression stockings, but it was still the most nerve-wracking day of the experiment, because I had to go into the clinic for my follow-up. I'm sure they see a lot of compression stockings at the office, and I was worried they would silently judge my choices. Fortunately tomorrow is my last (and only a single-leg) day of compression, at least for a while! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Compression sock chic

This week, I had endovenous laser ablation done on my great saphenous veins on both legs! Those are a lot of new words to me, but what it boils down to is that I had to wear thigh-high compression stockings for 7 days.

I realized that having to wear compression stockings was going to cramp my style quite a bit, especially if the weather warmed up, but I realized also that one week of compression stockings = Fashion Challenge! So let's have at it!

Tuesday: Comfy Hippie

Excuse the mirror selfies. Most were taken in a rush before or after appointments!

The first day of my CS challenge, I went in to get my first treatment in the early afternoon. I was only getting one leg done, so I'd only have to wear the stocking on one leg. Not knowing what to expect, I figured my best bet was to go covered-up and comfortable. I wore soft loose pants, a comfortable tunic over them, and a pair of medium-heeled brown boots. No sign of my legs or my single stocking in this modest ensemble!

Wednesday: Goth Grandma

My other leg was scheduled for ablation this afternoon. For most of the day, I'd be wearing only one compression stocking. Now, I'm all about asymmetry in my clothing, but a different color for each leg seemed a little too much. So once again, the goal for the day was full coverage. I decided to go with the long black pleated skirt that hasn't seen much air time since I wore it in this blog over 3 years ago. For my top, I wore a black lace mini-dress that I folded up underneath to turn into a shirt. With forecast temperatures of only 60 degrees, a sleeveless shirt wasn't going to cut it, so I covered up further with a beige sweater that complemented the beige in the shirt. 
Laser ablation isn't crippling, but it does sting a little, and it's surprisingly hard to bend one's knees whilst wearing compression socks. So knowing that I might be stiff and clumsy coming out of my procedure, I decided that sky-high stiletto heels were out. And because of the need to cover my entire leg and foot, basically my only shoe choice was some kind of boot. I felt like I had a pretty good granny vibe going with the long skirt and the cardigan, so I decided to play it up with a pair of lace-up boots that have a vaguely Victorian feel. At the same time, the sheer amount of black put me in mind of something a little less grandma and a little more heavy metal. So I ornamented my neck with a metal rose on a black cord. I always feel edgy when wearing that necklace. 
The best thing that happened that day was I got asked by my ultrasound technician if I am a model (on account of my legs, which are apparently long—not, I'm sure, for my fashion-forward ensemble).

Thursday: Pastel Shopaholic 

I was tired of all the dowdy dressing and the shades of neutral that I'd been wearing all week (I'd actually dressed for compression stockings on Monday, too, having gotten the date of my appointment wrong). But as it turned out, almost everything in my wardrobe that's suited for low-seventies weather and thigh-high stockings is also in those colors. I probably spent nearly an hour scouring my closet for something colorful and flattering to wear on my third day. 
It was hard work, but when I scored, I scored big! This outfit comprises not one, but two new additions to my closet—the asymmetrical layered black skirt, and the mint-green lace top. This was the first day that I'd be wearing compression stockings on both legs, so I thought it was high time I actually let them show. Black compression stockings or tights—they're all the same to the casual onlooker, right? 
Actually, they're not. The compression socks are much thicker than any pair of tights I would wear, and it shows. I felt there was too little contrast between the skirt and the stockings. If I were going to do this outfit again, I'd wear it with a more flared skirt.

Friday: Lady in Red Shoes

My black compression socks enclose my whole foot, but my beige ones have open toes. I didn't imagine I'd like them much when I bought them (but they were the cheapest pair available, so I did it anyway), and they have proven to be just as bad as I feared! But when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade! I decided to make the socks' most annoying feature work in my favor on this unseasonably warm (as forecast) day, by wearing them with open-toe shoes.  
I swore off peep-toe shoes a few years ago, but I keep going back on my vows. When confronted with the sheer awesomeness of this unworn pair on eBay for just 17.69$, I had to backslide again. 
See any compression socks? I don't think so!
I figured the open lace of the shoes' body would make up for the ventilation problems with open-toed boots that I'd surmised about when I first expressed my tragic love for them last year. Designing an outfit around this pair of boots was another hour-long endeavor. I had to find something to wear on my legs that was long enough to hide the tops of my stockings, but short enough not to hide the tops of my boots. I had to find something that looked good with red, and something that was suitably light for warm weather. Finally I found it in this grey plaid dress (also last featured with red) and black vest. I tied everything together with some red jewelry. 
I am sure that people who are observant can see that it's not actually my legs on display, but rather a pair of support hosiery, but I'm actually pretty pleased with how the compression stockings look on me. They are a better match for my skin tone than pretty much any pair of pantyhose I've ever found.

Four days of compression socks down, three to go! I ended up being a lot more verbose in this chronicle than I intended (what else is new?), so I'm going to give you a break and present it in two parts. You can expect the conclusion of my compression sock saga after my follow-up appointment next Monday!