Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Off-the-shoulder at last!

When I was young, I had a mild obsession with puffed sleeves. This was almost certainly fueled by Anne of Green Gables—never mind that that book was set in the Victorian era and certainly did not reflect the fashion of my times. In my more enlightened adulthood, I have realized that puffed sleeves are really only good for one thing: making your upper body look gigantic. Puffed sleeves could be considered the perfect pairing for broad shoulders, since they are a great equalizer, making everyone who wears them look huge, whether they have naturally broad shoulders or not. However, if you've spent your whole life trying to downplay your shoulders, you don't take kindly to anything that deliberately makes them look bigger.

Puffed sleeves are one of the last things I would ever voluntarily add to my wardrobe, which is why it's ironic that I have a continuous stream of this style of top just falling into my lap. From eBay lots to hand-me-downs, I get so many puffed sleeves, I could practically start a whole museum dedicated to them! Or I could just use them as fodder for an endless array of creative refashions. Most of the time, I just lop off the sleeves and turn them into sleeveless blouses. I once had great success cutting off just part of the sleeve and making a nice fluttery cap sleeve. But with the latest delivery of puffed-sleeve blouses, I decided to try something different. 

I vowed to try and keep a few of them for wearing as-is (let's see if I actually follow through) but one that I relegated immediately to the Project Pile was this grey one (photo taken after I'd already put it under the knife). With the big sleeves and the ruffly front (a friend likened it to the apron a French maid would wear), it was just too frou-frou for my taste. But I actually loved the fabric and fit, and I really wanted to make it work for me. 
Since I'm going pretty heavy on the commentary today, I'll save the construction details for another post, but let it suffice to say that the end product looks like a cross between your standard cold-shoulder top (you know, one of those shirts with a cutout in the shoulder area—this is my first foray into that arena) and the off-the-shoulder tops that have been blowing up the fashion world all summer (this is my first foray into off-the-shoulder details as well!).

ICYMI (So one abbreviates when one wants to seem especially "with it"), off-the-shoulder tops were unquestionably the single trendiest thing to wear this summer, hands down. As with puffed sleeves, I had a longstanding off-the-shoulder obsession when I was young (no doubt fueled by every Disney Princess ever). I have since come to the realization that unless you are shaped like a Disney Princess, off-the-shoulder-tops (just like puffed sleeves as well!) will merely make your upper body look comically gigantic—an unsurprising result of having an unbroken horizontal line running all the way across the front. But with its vertical arm openings, this shirt breaks up that line, accomplishing the off-the-shoulder aesthetic without the body-widening effect.

I'm pretty pleased that I was able to try this trend the same year as I first saw it, although admittedly I had to risk death by freezing to wear it on a rainy day in late September. That was actually an experiment in itself, as normally I only wear sleeveless shirts when it's 75° or warmer. I don't know if this happens to other people, but with me, if my upper arms are cold, all of me feels cold—even if other parts of me are so hot they're sweating. So I was thinking, with a cold-shoulder top, I might be able to keep my upper arms warm enough to feel comfortable, while still being able to bare my shoulders, in a look that I vastly prefer. It seemed to work. Despite the office running a steady 74 degrees all day, I never got too chilly.

The fabric of this top is a dark, very slightly purplish grey—the purplish hue making it very difficult to pair with anything except pure white and pure black. So I wore it with a black skirt and some black mary janes. I probably did, unintentionally, have a little bit of a French maid vibe going on.

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