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. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I have an unexplainable thing for girly suits. I keep buying them on eBay, even though they have no place in my day-to-day wardrobe. If, for example, I wore them to work, the rest of the people in my casually dressed office would wonder if I was sneaking out to job interviews on my lunch break.

My solution is to take the ostentatiously matching separates and wear them, well, separately. I pair my severe blazers with flirty summer sundresses or shorts. Sometimes I go the opposite route and wear my tailored suit dresses under casual sweaters—like this one!

This pink pinstriped dress came with a matching cutesy one-button jacket. After a lot of altering (it was too big) I managed to make the two pieces look decent on me, but not quite well-fitting enough to actually wear as a suit—even if suits were the norm where I work. Fortunately, I have a lovely flowy sweater that just happens to be almost the exact same shade of pink and have almost the exact same pinstripe pattern as the dress. Usually, when I try to pair pieces that are almost the same color or pattern but not quite, they clash with each other. But for some reason, I really liked the look of the sweater with the dress.

My favorite off-white boots and an almost-matching set of pearl jewelry finished it all off.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Celebration of springishness

Seventy-four degrees. Seventy-four degrees! That was the forecast high for the last Monday in November...and I was stoked (an appropriately furnace-related word for an unseasonably warm day)! Even more fortunately, I had just the thing to celebrate it in—a sequined dress that has been likened to a disco ball!

I toned down the excessive sparkle of the dress by topping it with my black and white zipper vest, and tempered the short hemline with demure flat shoes.

The original plan for this outfit (I had intended to wear it several weeks ago, but a sudden shift to winter weather stopped me in my tracks) called for black knee socks, but they were in the laundry. This turned out to be another stroke of good fortune, because their absence inspired me to reach for the wilder and crazier black-and-white striped knee socks, which just added to the festive mood.

[Also, I've returned to full bangs for the first time since June of last year!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

High Heel Hippie

I bought this dress on eBay, even though I had a lot of reservations about it being backless, because it was only 99¢ including shipping (I'm sorry for the seller, who definitely lost money on this auction).

After it arrived, I thought about it for a few weeks, and finally decided there was no circumstance in which it would be chilly enough to wear a sweater dress and still warm enough to go backless—besides, backless dresses are inconvenient (stick-on bra, anyone?) and inappropriate for work, so I decided the only way I'd wear this dress was if I found a way to make it unbackless.

Layering over a tank top was out, because the straps showed in the back, looking quite silly. Eventually I just cut a piece out of a not-too-beloved T-shirt and sewed it on. Not terribly graceful, but enough to, well, cover my back.

Wearing it to work was still proving to be problematic, though. The fit was a little too snug, and the bottom few unlined inches were translucent, making it effectively too short. I think I could get away with wearing this dress with high boots and opaque tights, but this time I decided to take the high road and wear it with an even more modest pair of brown pants.

The tunic-and-pants look is one I consider very earthy, and the muted colors are the very definition of earth tones, so I accessorized to emphasize the hippie vibe: a matching necklace made with lumps of greenish and brownish polymer clay, my carved fish earrings, and a peacock ring because, well, why not?

And then, because the inevitable lumps and bumps caused by pairing a tight dress with thick pants were making me feel frumpy in the extreme, I decided to add some class and completely undermine the aforementioned hippie vibe by wearing high heeled shoes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Once Wounded

Some of my favorite outfits end up being the ones I build around a pair of shoes.

One of my newest pairs is this cute little set of yellow low-heeled Ed Hardy wedge sneakers. Now, yellow is not a color I have a lot of (warm colors in general are quite underrepresented in my wardrobe), so I hesitated to buy them, but I ended up doing it anyway because, out of the three designs & color schemes available, these ones had a bird and didn't have a skull. They also feature a bleeding heart and the phrase "Once Wounded, Twice Shy", so I'm sure I'll have lots of use for them should I ever suffer from a painful breakup.

However, I'm not waiting for such an occasion to actually wear them, so I decided they'd be perfect for Trivia Night at the bar (this of course means bad lighting, so I'm sorry about the quality of the outfit photo!). The yellow shoes enabled me to finally use the yellow camisole that has been sitting with its tags in my closet for at least a year and a half (again, not a yellow person!), so I'm glad I got them. I am expanding my horizons left and right! So anyway, the yellow camisole needed a little something, so I covered it up with the lace top that is proving to be one of the most versatile items of clothing I own.

Then I put on some black jeans. This marks the third outfit in a row that prominently features pants!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


For this outfit, I went all-out angelic with wintry whites, lots of glitter (in the bracelet I wore over my sleeve, for example), fluttery feather earrings and a braid crown.

Yes, it's taken 3 years, but my hair has finally grown long enough that I can wrap it around the top of my head. Glory be! Guess it's time to start thinking about cutting it short again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bowling for compliments

The Unfashionista is a princess at her core, fond of looking pretty and usually preferring to wear a dress rather than pants. She's always looking for an excuse to get gussied up, which may (so I hear) be her primary motivation for leaving the house most of the time when she goes out. When the Unfashionista has to make sartorial concessions (such as having to cover her beautiful outfit with a coat so as to not freeze to death) she does it with as much flair as possible. What happens to an Unfashionista when she goes bowling? Read this first-person narrative to find out.

I really wanted to look glamorous. I really wanted to wear a dress. Unfortunately, I didn't think that would be practical for a casual evening at the bowling alley (little did I know the lanes to our left would be swarming with girls in their clubbing clothes), so I reluctantly settled on jeans. But then I couldn't find a shirt that made me happy. I tried on many, then, out of desperation, grabbed a plain black T-shirt, black high-heeled boots, and plain silver jewelry. If I couldn't look flamboyant, at least I could look sophisticated.

I felt the outfit was barely presentable, but my trusty photographer found it photo-worthy, and I have it on good authority that at least one other person thought I looked "hot."
The hideous shoes that were foisted on me
Here's me pretending to bowl in non-regulation footwear.
Fashion photobomb!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Flower girl

The pink shoes that I was so excited about two and a half years ago are starting to show their age, and I've been on the hunt for a suitable replacement. I wanted something that was a little less raspberry and a little more fuchsia. When I stumbled upon these pink floral heels on eBay for 13$, I decided the time was ripe.

Of course, as soon as they arrived, I realized I had probably made a mistake, seeing as the floral pattern really limits what kind of clothes the shoes can be worn with...and I'd wanted a versatile shoe that could complete almost any look.

Oh, well. No regrets is just one of many philosophies an Unfashionista stands by, so I set them in my closet and waited to see what kind of miracles I might work with them.

One chilly November evening, having procrastinated too long in picking out my clothes for the next day, I grabbed this grey dress with pink sleeves, thinking at least it would keep me warm in our frozen office but not be too hot come afternoon when the temperature was predicted to reach 68. I was going to wear it with boring grey booties, until I woke up in the morning and realized, under the harsh light of day, that the two shades of grey did not work together at all!

Then I remembered my pink shoes.

I almost put on some pink jewelry, but luckily I had the presence of mind to realize that there might be such a thing as too much hot pink. Instead I opted for simple silver, which opened up the opportunity to wear a matched set of rose earrings and necklace—roses being a none-too-subtle tie-in to the flowers on the shoes!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Skirt, Four Seasons: Fall

It's finally here—the last installment in my One Skirt, Four Seasons series (Here are Winter, Spring, and Summer)!

When I first conceptualized this series, fall was intended to be something completely different, but I never liked the shirt I'd chosen, and at the last minute, I decided I'd better do better. Incidentally, this skirt / shirt combo was originally intended for winter, but I couldn't find shoes that worked with it, so I ditched the idea and invented the winter look kind of at the last minute as well.

Serendipitously, I acquired this ornate pair of purple and gold brocade shoes just a few weeks ago. I had no idea at the time what I would ever wear them with (they don't exactly scream versatility), but my boyfriend was all in favor (he always supports my purchase of purple apparel, for reasons which will be revealed in a future post!), so I caved and bought them...never even thinking that they would provide the perfect finisher to my 4 seasons series! But they did!

The gold in the shoes was an excellent complement to the gold sweater that I'd been unable to match last winter. I even worked in a pair of shimmery gold-toned pantyhose...which promptly busted a giant run all the way down the front of my leg as soon as I arrived at work. Malfunctions aside, I was quite pleased to be using so much gold. The other 4 seasons were heavy on the greenish end of the spectrum, so it's about time I brought some warmer colors into the mix.

I also changed things up by tucking my sweater into the skirt rather than wearing it on the outside as I had for all the other seasons. I think the skinny fabric belt that came with the sweater did a nice job of breaking up the blocks of color (rather as it did the first time I featured it in this blog), and the big purple necklace provided the finishing touch. And then I wore a gold ring with my name on it, because I love overkill.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is that you, Aunt Jemima?

My latest technique for covering up my blond roots is to wash my hair daily with dye-infused shampoo. It makes the blond darker, but it doesn't completely cover it up, so on with the head coverings for me! Today's is a plain pink bandanna (homemade from a damaged bedsheet) that I tied into a simple wrap. I picked it because it was the same color family as the shoes, which I picked because their brown soles went with the dress. One of people in my building was quite enthusiastic about the shoes, which made me reconsider my decision to sell them after this, their second public appearance.

There's not really much else here to note except that the earrings also feature the same berry shade, and that I'm wearing a nice set of brownish metal bangles I got for 75¢ from the thrift store.

I thought if this outfit made me look like anything, it made me look like a gypsy. I certainly did not go into it intending to channel Aunt Jemima, but such is the assessment I got from my coworker, and I'd be remiss if I didn't report other people's reactions to my ensembles. What do you think? Would I look at home on a syrup bottle? And should I keep the shoes?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Flower and Dots

This outfit was one of the rare few that wasn't planned out in advance. I got home late one night and decided I would wear my polka-dotted white dress because it was new, and black and white is easy to accessorize, and thus I could go to sleep without trying on my entire closet. So I did.

I then got up in the morning, pulled the dress out, and decided what to wear with it. I could have gone all black and white, which would have been easy, but even in my hurried state, I knew that wasn't going to make me happy, so I went for my teal boots.

I quickly tried on several necklaces, none of which quite worked, before once again reaching into Grandma's Brooch Collection to make use of the last of the unworn pieces: a blue daisy that had proved particularly challenging because usually when I want to wear that color, I wear one of several necklaces or earrings that I think of first. Fortunately, I have run out of teal necklaces and earrings, so I was forced to branch out into brooches. The center of the daisy was a very similar shade to the boots, so it worked well. I placed it smack dab in the middle of a polka dot, ensured the stem didn't compete with any other dots, and considered the deal done. The shell earrings with pearls were a no-brainer because their color was teal and their shape was so dotty!

I put my hair up in a bun mainly because it's quick and easy, and, because I was feeling sort of mod about the whole outfit (polka-dot shift dresses do that too me), I added a broad black headband (also helpful in my neverending battle with my growing-out dye job). I wore leggings mainly because the dress was pretty short and I just didn't feel like doing endless modesty checks, but in the end, I think I like the way they work with the outfit as a whole.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Sea and the Old Man

This year, I participated in 4 Halloween events. I had 2 costumes planned (Spiderweb and the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland) and one backup idea (fairy, which obviously is a cop-out one can wear at almost any time!) but the day before the Night of the Living Zoo, I realized that none of my costumes were suitable for spending a late October evening outdoors.

Last-minute costume-planning ensued. Fortunately, I keep a box of costumes in my basement, because (who's surprised?) I like dressing up. The blue dress that looks like water is the warmest costume piece I own, and it only took a few minutes of brainstorming before I had come up with an appropriate theme—the ocean!

I gathered all my stuffed marine animals and aquatic jewelry and started pinning!

Seashells in my hair, pearls around my neck, and an octopus on my shoulder! I tried to ocean up my face with blue eye makeup, coral lipstick, and blue mascara on my brows, but the effect ended up being too subtle to really show up in pictures. I also wore dangling fish earrings.

Shortly before leaving home, I found this little walrus in my backpack (I'd brought him home to use in  my costume and promptly forgot about it), so, thinking quick, I pinned him to the top of my head too. I liked to imagine that my walrus was sitting on some outcropping of rock surrounded by deep blue sea.

 Other creatures which graced my costume were a toy snail and a fish pin.

I accessorized with this nifty fish-themed purse I just happened to have lying around, and kept my extremities warm in navy blue boots and gloves.

My boyfriend wore a hideous old man mask, white wig, and a robe, and sometimes tried to say he was a wizard, but lacking a hat or a staff, his costume didn't have much credibility. It was, sadly, only after we'd already left the event that it occurred to me we should have presented ourselves as Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea!

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!