Friday, June 29, 2012

Open Your Mind

You know you're an Unfashionista when you go out to pick up some lunch and come back with a new dress! This happened to me last week—when a coworker and I went out for some lunchtime ice cream and found the store wouldn't open for another 10 minutes, I made the most of the time available to me and stopped by Rugged Wearhouse, where I found this dress for 5 dollars.

Photo taken in the bathroom at work, which for some
fortuitous reason, has a full-length mirror.
It was low quality to begin with (you can tell by the way the elastic that gives it its shape peeks out from under the ruffles covering it, and also by its base price of 7.99$) and probably won't survive more than a few washings, but for 5 dollars, you can wear it just once and consider your money well spent!

And I wore it once today. I wasn't going to bother documenting it, since it was just another example of my singular monochromatic style (you can almost see the blue headband in the picture, which goes perfectly with the blue dress and shoes), but then I noticed while at work how it embodies two of the traits I usually try to steer clear of—and still looks good!

1-Integrated sleeves

It is a trend that has been distressing me--I call it the pillowcase look, because the sleeves, rather than being separate pieces of fabric, are really just holes in the body of the (extra-baggy, because how else are the "sleeves" going to be long enough?) garment. I feel this lends a blocky appearance to an outfit and makes one's upper body seem huge. Yet the sleeves in this dress start right at the top of the neckline, and I think they flutter out in a most graceful manner. To be fair, the lower portion of the sleeve is set in (at a rather unconventional location just above the bust), which may give it a little more contour and save it aesthetically. It may also be the length of the sleeve, which is fairly short, or the weight of the fabric, which is extremely flexible, giving it less awkward structure and more flow.

2-Crossover neckline

For years, I have been avoiding this bodice style, where one piece of fabric overlaps another at an angle, forming a V-neckline. Even worse is when the crossover neckline is paired with an empire waist, with another band of fabric just below the bust. I have always considered this a style only flattering to those with small breasts. For us more well-endowed ladies, it creates bulges and makes us look fat. However, this dress comes very close to having that style of bodice, and still succeeds. Some things that might save it are the fact that the crossover occurs almost immediately above the empire waist, and the fact that every piece of this dress is highly elastic, causing it to conform to curves rather than bulge around them.

The point of all this discourse is that one should not dismiss even one's most hated syles flat-out, because they may have redeeming features that make them wearable.

And in case you were wondering why I ever let a dress with such despised features get past my defenses, it must have been because I was making rash decisions while speed shopping. Also may have had something to do with the price tag.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer at the Office

Today we experiment with aerial photography.
In case you are living under a rock (or possibly somewhere outside of the eastern United States), let me tell you, it's hot.

I've had to carefully consider my standards of dress at work, because even in the office, it can be warm (hallelujah, I've finally gotten employed by a company that doesn't overuse the air conditioner!) and outside on my bike ride to and from work, it's downright sweltering.

I've already established that flip flops are OK (now one of my male coworkers is showing up in shorts and flip flops every day!) and I'm testing out the waters in regards to sleeveless tops. Today's experiment (OK, to be honest, I wore this outfit last week) lowers the bar from "full coverage with open arm holes" to "actual straps." I think this top should be acceptable because the straps are wide and the fabric is satiny (projecting a polished appearance I don't think I would have achieved if the top was basic cotton). But I think I'm inclined to leave the bar here. If you see me attempting to wear a boyfriend tank or spaghetti-strap top to work without something covering it, please stop me!

Last time I featured this top in this blog, I wore it with shorts, but short shorts, I think, are still a workplace no-no (unless, maybe, they are part of a shorts suit. So, on the bottom, I wore a pair of khaki capris that I recently bought at a thrift store, and a new pair of sandals from Payless Shoes. They were 18 dollars when I bought them. I love how the black straps mirror the black in the top, while the cork soles reflect the color of the pants. Well tied together, if I do say so myself!

I wanted to keep the black prominent in this outfit, so I chose black accessories to round it out. The earrings were on sale at Claire's (so cheap that I won't feel bad about attempting to convert them from clip-ons to studs later), and for my hair, I brought out a blast from the past--—chopsticks! When was the last time you wore chopsticks in your hair? They were all the rage at the turn of the millennium, and they kind of vanished off the radar screen shortly thereafter. But unlike the scrunchie, I think chopsticks are a vanished trend well worth bringing back! Unfortunately, they don't really work well with short straight hair. My beautiful bun had all but collapsed by midmorning.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sophistication Fom the Ankles Up

This top is truly an Unfashionista's nightmare, with its dark depressing hues. I would think that such dark colors would take all the flutter out of butterflies, but apparently the makers of this shirt didn't think so, cause that's the pattern that's on it--butterflies, chains and keys, in a black ink that's almost indistinguishable from the dark jade of the fabric itself. It's a dreary combination in my mind, and thus something I've been reluctant to wear.

But precisely because I've never worn this shirt despite owning it for over 8 months, I forced myself to take on the challenge and find a way to wear it without dying of depression in the process.

It looked pretty good with my blue pajama shorts this morning, but I didn't think pajama shorts would fly at the office, so I settled instead on black pants. So far the dreariness has not been improved.

The plain looking top and the unremarkable pants weren't doing much for me, and I couldn't find any jewelry that really complemented the colors (or lack thereof). But then it occurred to me to add the belt. I just got the belt last weekend, (at less than 2 dollars for 2 belts at some thrift store in Manassas) and it was apparently 2 dollars very well spent. The belt really added a sophisticated edge, and I have to say it turned the outfit from trashy to classy. It's amazing what a strip of fabric and some metal bits can do!

But then I had to go and ruin the effect by wearing flip flops. Hey, it was Friday, and I decided it was high time to test the limits of my office dress code. At least the flip flops had sparkle.

No one said anything. Guess these will become a regular part of my work wardrobe.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Feminizing the Housecoat

I brought out the housecoat for another run. As you may recall, the last time I wore this article, it was with jeans, so I wanted to girl it up and try it out with a skirt this time.

Since it does feature tiny blue flowers, I really wanted to wear it with my blue tank top, but alas, I just couldn't get the blue and the brown and any of my skirts to play nice together. I think this jacket would look stunning with a bright blue sheath dress underneath, but alas again, that is one thing my wardrobe lacks (or in fact, any sheath dress of any color) so I made do with multiple pieces in varying shades of brown.

This was also an opportunity to wear these root-beer-brown shoes I bought months ago - months! - and have been dying to wear! They don't exactly match anything I'm wearing, but with so many shades of brown in this outfit, I think I can get away with it. And they are so cute!

Style Tip They say ankle straps shorten your leg, but what they don't remember to say is they also shorten your foot, especially if they sit just below your ankles as these do. And a shortened foot is nothing to sneeze at if you happen to suffer from big feet!

For this flattering reason, I love these shoes, and also for their soft fuzzy texture, but I have a feeling I won't love them for long, as the fuzz is already wearing off the back of the heel and the tip of the toe.

My repeated attempts at reshaping this housecoat have rendered it too small to wear buttoned, but I think it looks pretty good with just one top button closed and the rest of it free to blow in the wind!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Place for Everything

A friend and reader recently asked me, "How do you have so many clothes?"

Well, the answer to that is simple: I keep buying them! (Most recent acquisitions? A pair of pink pants and blue denim capris for 6$ each)

A better question is, "How do you store so many clothes?"

Although I try to keep my clothing collection within reasonable limits by regularly selling/donating items that I don't like and don't wear, which means a constantly rotating collection of clothes, my fashion habit has still managed to take over half of my (large master) bedroom.

In case you were curious, here's the rundown:

On the far left corner of the western wall, the first thing you'll see is my closet. A few non-fashion odds and ends are shoved into nooks and crannies in the closet, but it is mainly used just for my clothes.

Open the door and the first thing you'll see is the hanging hook for hats, jackets, and my backpack. This is a standard or even large-size closet, but because it doesn't get much light, I typically reserve it for my less-worn clothes, plus the boring basics that I don't need to look at to know they're what I need. My off-season clothes go in two places within this closet: Plastic tubs on the floor at the left, and hanging on the far right, covered with a plastic bag. This closet is where I keep my swimsuits and other beachwear (in a crate on the shelf), purse collection (in another plastic tub) and shoes that are out of season or worn rarely enough that they are better kept in their boxes.

The rest of my shoes go on the shoe rack hanging on the outside of the door!

To the right of the closet, a freestanding jewelry box stands in a tiny narrow space. As of now (but not for very much longer is my guess), all my jewelry fits in or on this box, except for a few less-worn pieces that I keep in the black box at its feet.

Next to the jewelry box, because one closet is never enough, another closet! This is a freestanding wardrobe, and I love it because it projects out into the room, getting plenty of light when I need to pick out my clothes. I use this wardrobe to its fullest potential, keeping foldable shirts on the top shelf (It's rather deep, so I keep layering tanks and a few off-season just-in-case pieces in the back, and T-shirts and patterned tanks in the front.

Dresses, skirts, and nicer tops hang from the bar (and are so heavy they threaten to pull it from its attachment). Although you can't tell from the picture, these articles are arranged by type, then color, for fast outfit selection. On the floor level, some random junk is hidden in the back, while shorts sit in two piles (one for patterned and colorful, one for blue denim) in the front and jeans in another.

To the right of that is a tall dresser that I salvaged from the curb when some neighbors were moving out. It needed a little cleaning, but it became an invaluable storage spot for pajamas, leggings, athletic wear, and underthings of all sorts.

But the storage doesn't stop there, oh, no. Moving to the right, you can see the old pouch shoe storage that I have been using ever since the age of 10 (or thereabouts). 

I replaced it with the closet-door rack just last year when my shoe collection finally exceeded 15 pairs. Now I use it to hold my winter outerwear like gloves and hats, as well as my extensive collection of arm warmers. Since winter has ended, I'm trying to decide what's the best summer use for it.

So that's an entire wall of my room, expressly dedicated to the purpose of Unfashion!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blue-Green Period

Now that Unfashion A Day has come to an end, I am, as predicted, far too enamored with the Daily Photo routine to give it up cold turkey. I decided to set myself another challenge—wear the same color every day for a whole week. The logical choice for this challenge was blue-green, since the last two eBay lots I got have featured a number of articles in this hue. Without further ado (and with minimal narration), here are my outfits of the last 5 days.






This is the only day for which I have commentary, and that is only to say that my camera seems to really have trouble shooting this shade, which is a sort of bright robin's egg Easter egg crazy intense shade of blue-green. My camera, however, could only manage to wash it out completely, or make it look dark and straight blue. A lot of photomanipulation got my shirt looking approximately the right shade in this photo, but as you can see below, the attendant jewelry still looks pretty bad. There are, in fact, three shades of aqua in the bracelet, but in the photo it looks suspiciously like 1 shade of blue.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Salvage Your Favorite Bra

So you have this friend, right? She's supportive, not too clingy, and never lets you down. You're always comfortable having her around you. She's your bra!

And now, after years of faithful companionship, she's finally come undone. She's a wreck. She's falling apart.
Or in less dramatic terms, your bra has a hole in it and is
rapidly losing holding power. This bra has already been repaired
twice, unsuccessfully, which is why you might be able to see
green and pink threads.

What do you do? Decide to just move on, drop her off at the station and let her drop out of your life? No way! You two have had too many good times to let it end over something this small. Great bras are hard to come by, and you can't just let yours slip away from you. You're going to find a way. Together, you will get through this! To be precise, you are going to patch things up.

 I will now cease to anthropomorphize my bra and demonstrate the process by which you can save yours from a fate in the trash heap.

1. Cut a patch

Think carefully about this step, because the right fabric is essential to the proper working of a bra. If I'd had it, I would have chosen a jersey knit (T-shirt fabric) but in its absence, I went with a thin stretch denim. I cut it into the approximate shape of the part I wanted to reinforce. Note the hole itself was very small, but I made a patch large enough to cover most of the band, because the fabric was weakened almost its entire length.

2. Pin the patch in place

Position the patch on the inside of the damaged area of your bra.

While you're sewing, the patch will likely be slip-sliding in all directions and generally making a pain of itself. To pre-empt this, you should ensure that the edges and a good section of the middle are secured to their intended resting places.

3. Sew.

The goal of this step is to attach the patch firmly to the damaged bra such that no more ripping occurs—not of the bra's fabric, not of your thread. To this end, you should choose a stitch meant to withstand a lot of stretching. My machine comes with a three-stitch zigzag, (the middle one in the picture), which is the one I used.
Now just start at one end of the patch and keep sewing in rows until the whole thing has been covered. You are essentially "quilting" the patch onto the bra.

The finished product will look something like this! I didn't bother overlocking the raw edges, so I might see some fraying in the future, but I really just wanted to see whether this was possible....And it is! I wore my reincarnated bra for three days without any further problem!

Except for this one:
The reverse side didn't look nearly as neat as the top side did. I chalk this up to my sewing machine being a worthless hunk of no-good crappy unreliable stupid junk, which continually tangles the thread. So a word to the wise is, if you, too, frequently end up with rat's nests on the bottom of your sewn pieces, you might consider sewing with the "good" side of your bra facing up.

With that small precaution taken, I'm sure you'll see many more good times with your bosom buddy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Night Maneuvers

In case you missed it, I've been months trying to come up with some way to wear my grey ankle boots such that they get the spotlight they deserve. They always look silly when I try them with a skirt, and long pants cover them right up. Then inspiration hit me like a bus. Or rather, a person getting off a bus.

As I was riding my bike to work recently, I saw a girl debarking the campus shuttle, wearing high heeled ankle boots and capri length pants. I was moving too fast to get a good look, but I'm pretty sure they were tied at the bottoms. I knew instantly that that was the look I'd been searching for!

I have two pairs of capri pants—one white and one black, both bought at New York & Co. years ago, and they just happen to have drawstring bottoms. I had gotten an ever-so-faint military vibe from the outfit that was my inspiration, and I decided white would be just too angelic to succeed, so I went with the black.

Next step—a top to go with them! I tried black (the day I find two black articles of clothing that are actually the same shade is the day I join the ranks of gothdom) and purple (too many unrelated blocks of color). I tried grey and white stripes (too shapeless), grey and black stripes (too long), and straight-up grey (Ok, but I'd just worn it a week ago, and it didn't quite match the shoes, which in fact seem to have a slight purple hue, making them even more difficult to wear with anything). But finally I found it: a black and grey floral tank top I'd gotten in an eBay lot. Technically, it was dark grey and light grey, and with all the shades of grey, nothing looked too out of place.

Look into my creepy, soul-sucking eyes!
I toyed with wearing various pieces of colorful jewelry, but finally I went to my old standby - monochromatic color schemes - and chose silver. Silver bangles on my arms nicely reflected the shape of the silver hoops in my ears. I wore a silver necklace with flowers. If we want to be nitpicky, we can complain that the silver on my bracelets was dull, while the necklace was shiny, and the flowers in my necklace were roses, while the flowers on the top were more lotus-like, but who's paying that much attention anyway?

That day (last Friday) was also the day I tried out another fashion trend—the partially tucked-in shirt. Although shirt-tucking is not one of my favorite practices, in this case it helped avoid the belly bulge inherent in wearing a longish top over a drawstring waistband. And in my opinion, it also helps eliminate the dreaded height-dampening effect of wearing a top too similar in length to the bottoms.

I tried it on at home with the pants bottoms tied and untied, and the shirt tucked and untucked, but ultimately I wore them tied and tucked. Which do you think worked better?

 P,S. This outfit is not workplace-approved, so I covered my upper region with my homemade white shrug, which went so poorly with everything else that I refuse to show it!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I just wanna be a sheep

As promised, I am posting the results of my foray into ugly fashion trends (hopefully fads)

This tank top came with a drawstring (for the record, not something I would buy myself, had it not came into my possession by way of eBay mystery lot), so you know it was meant to be worn in the belted potato sack style.

The first time I wore it, I wore it untied, but the second time, I let it do its bunchy thing while wearing it for a day on the town with my boyfriend. When I commented to him about what horrible things I was wearing in the name of fashion, he said, "It looks fine." But boyfriends are not known for their great observational skills, so I am not convinced. The outfit might have been improved slightly if I'd had either long pants or shorter shorts. I'm not crazy about the relative lengths in this combo.
Cinched-at-the-waist look? check!
For my next trick, I broke out another top I'd gotten in another eBay lot, which I also would have never bought myself, but I actually like it aside from its too-bigness. It is a layer of taupe cotton with a white lace layer over that. It's pretty and swingy and just a little hard to match. Its previous owner had (artlessly) safety-pinned it in the back, so I guess it was too big even for her, but I unpinned it and even restrained myself from shortening the straps (it really is 2 sizes too big, and it kept slipping down). To appease the Office Protocol Police (I don't know who they are, but I'm sure they must be watching), I topped it with an off-white shrug (that is also a size too large) and to keep it from broadcasting its too-largeness with a gape (and to keep the downward-slipping tank from revealing too much), I pinned it closed with a giant metal rosebud I inherited from my grandmother. No comments on this outfit, but at least I can check the baggy shirt look off my try-it list.

Is that the Office Protocol Police I see?

If you were wondering about the weird pinkness in the second photo, I was experimenting with "improving" the background of my photos, but I would not call it a resounding success.

For the third and final act, I bring you the peasant blouse! It's actually pretty much the same theme as Act I, that is, belts at the waist, so I'll spare you the monologue. Except to say that I wish I had worn this with a pale tank top underneath rather than a brown one. But I am curious if anyone has an opinion as to whether it looks better with or without the belt.

Parting shot: I just wanted to showcase the earrings that I wore with the peasant top, because – even though both of them fell apart the first day I wore them and I had to put them back together with the Krazy Glue my coworker just happened to have in the office – I still think they are totally cool. They appear to be resin with real flowers in them! And I got them at Claire's for a dollar!