Wednesday, November 30, 2016

J is for Jeggings

This isn't the first time I've worn jeggings for my blog, but it is the first time I've made them the centerpiece of my outfit, so I think it's high time for a discussion on what jeggings really are.

The word jeggings is a portmanteau of jeans and leggings, so you can expect any pants referred to by such a name to have some combination of the qualities of both. In my book, the most authentic jeggings are the ones that are made of a stretch knit like leggings but are printed to look like denim.

I don't actually have any pants that meet that description, though, so how could I say I've worn jeggings for my blog? Well, I do have a number of pants that are made of a stretch knit just like leggings, but the fabric is slightly heavier. They also have a functioning zipper fly and pockets, so their construction resembles that of jeans. I call those jeggings as well. I've already worn those in many combinations on this blog, including once or twice at work, so they are really old hat (old pants?) by now.

The only thing I haven't worn at work, that could possibly be novel enough to warrant a whole post in my alphabet challenge, would be jeggings that actually look like jeans. Fortunately, I recently acquired a pair of pants that almost fit the bill. If you wanted to be a stickler, you'd probably classify them as skinny jeans, because they are made of real heavy denim fabric. However, they have so much spandex in them that they cling to my thighs like a second skin. They have so much spandex, in fact, that the fly at the top is only decorative—you actually just pull them on and off like leggings! They must be jeggings!

Wearing jeans to the office is not a novel concept for me, but I try to do it sparingly and only with my most sophisticated dark washes. The "dirty," slightly weathered look of these pants, makes them much more of a workplace risk!

So how did I mitigate it? By wearing a button-down blouse (button-down blouses are my very definition of stuffy and "professional") that was long enough to completely cover my Spandex-encased derriere. I was sorely tempted to do a repeat of my lazy yesterday (still not feeling my best) and just wear the comfiest shoes I could get away with, but when you're rocking such casual jeggings, you really have to keep your shoe game on point. In this case, the point was literal, since I chose my pointed-toe pink stilettos, which just happen to match the shade of pink in the blouse. 

Style Tip When choosing shoes, pointed toes (of a not-too-extreme length) will give you more of a professional edge than round ones.

I also kept my jewelry minimal (well, as minimal as my gaudy wardrobe will afford) and sophisticated. I once heard from a career expert that the best earrings for a job interview are large studs. Whether that is true or not (I doubted it at the time, because they were not at all stylish and reminded me of what a grandmother would wear to church), I took it to heart for this outfit, forgoing my usual dramatic dangles for some sparkly grey studs that could easily be covered by my hair.

What do you think? Can pointed toes, a long button-down blouse, and oversized stud earrings make you look professional in spite of your grungy jeggings? Looking in the mirror, I have to say no. It's a good thing I work in a casual office!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I is for Ill

After a 4-day interruption, I restarted my fashion challenge in really impotent form.

Thursday through Sunday, I was on a trip to Florida. I literally spent hours in the car trying to come up with intricate outfit options for the letter I. Every one of my travel buddies offered their ideas, but nothing would work within the limitations of my wardrobe (What!? My wardrobe? Limited? I'm really floored by this revelation). Ironically, I was saved by an icky infection.

All during my vacation, I was aware that a head cold was incipient (travel illness strikes again!), and by the time Monday rolled around, I was undeniably incapacitated. I stayed home instead of returning to work. I thought this extra day of idling around in my un-alphabetic pajamas would give me the ideal opportunity to invent something really inspired, but all my ingenuity was for nought!

As evening waned and my cough increased, I had an insight: If indeed I was going to drag myself into work tomorrow, I was inevitably going to be one miserable soul. Did I have any obligation to make my day even more intolerable by struggling to find something clever to wear? I decided my comfort was more important, so the ideal outfit would be one that accommodated my illness.

That turned out to be my softest, loosest, coziest pair of slacks; an extra-long and stretchy sweater so I could move freely and be spared the inconvenience of constantly adjusting my hem (short-sleeved in case of feverish overheating), another sweater to go over that (in case of feverish chills); and a pair of easy-on, easy-off, low-heeled boots. I forwent any kind of embellishment such as jewelry or makeup, making my outfit the closest thing to pajamas I could probably get away with wearing at the office. So there you have it: what an Unfashionista wears when she's ill!

The connection to the letter I is iffy at best, but I've tried to make up for it by interspersing as many interesting I-words throughout this post as I could imagine. Please don't be irate at me—I'm infirm!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

H is for Hippie

I have a pretty sizeable collection of hippie/gypsy-inspired bohemian clothes, so I decided I could not pass up my chance to wear as many of them as possible for the letter H.

I started with my raggedy blue skirt that came straight from Jayli, a site dedicated to hippie clothes. The skirt came with an "attached shawl" that never fit right, so since I removed it, I have been able to wear it as a head wrap, which is a very hippie thing to do with one's hair anyway.

For my shirt, I went with a gold velvet with a very deep sequined V-neck. Bell sleeves are a common fixture on hippie clothes, so, while the plastic sequins may not be top at any tree-hugger's list, the shirt's overall shape matches the theme.

Plain brown flats were the only suitable footwear for this outfit (except maybe some leather sandals, but November said no).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sweater Weather

I'll actually be visiting Florida for the next couple of days and, not wishing to complicate my packing any further, I will not be attempting to dress for the alphabet while on this trip, so, we interrupt this Fashion Challenge for an update on the state of my wardrobe.

Last Saturday, the temperature plummeted from a balmy 71° at around 1pm to 40-something and windy within an hour or two. It was the most miserable and drastic temperature shift I've ever experienced, made even more depressing by the fact that the forecast for the foreseeable future was cold, cold, cold! [Sometimes I wonder if this is a fashion blog or a weather blog!]

On the plus side, that meant I was finally able to bring my winter wardrobe out of hiding...and what a wardrobe it is! Over the summer and fall, my friend who frequently bequeaths me her old unwanted clothing really outdid herself with the number of sweaters...and this time, her sister got in the action too! Of course, I've done my own part in creating this glorious excess—three of the tops pictured below were purchased by Yours Truly. But regardless of the source, what this means is that I am starting the winter off on the right foot with 27 brand-new-to-me winter tops (not including the few that didn't suit me, which I am reserving for crafts projects or possible sale or donation)—that's enough to wear a new sweater every day for almost a month!
Not wanting to be pegged as a hoarder, I decided this was a great opportunity to rid myself of some of my older and less-loved winter wear. I picked out 10 sweaters and shirts to get the boot, for a net gain of only 17.

But that's not all. All during the spring, summer, and early fall, I was making a strong effort to stock up on winter-appropriate dresses. I ended up with 7 of these, plus a handful of skirts from various people and stores. I notice my new dress collection skews heavily towards dark red, which should be interesting, since I'm usually more of a bright-cool-color type of girl.
I have also added 4 pairs of new boots this fall (the brown pair featured in my Earth Tones outfit is one of them, but 2 of them remain unworn) but I'm too lazy to photograph them, and in any case, they are all just different varieties of dark neutral—in a couple of cases just slightly different replacements for pairs I already have.
So the final tally: 29 new garments and 2 new pairs of shoes ready to be worn, which might just be a new personal record (I never thought that would happen in winter!) To be fair, I didn't have anything to post for my seasonal switch last winter, so I guess I'm just catching up.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

G is for Gold

Gold is not just a color, it's also a texture! A shiny, sparkly, shimmery texture that is entirely too flashy for work—especially when work involves a meeting with the boss of your boss! But I really wanted to sparkle on this day before the Thanksgiving holiday, so I decided to go for the gold—sparingly and tastefully, of course! 

I started with a pair of new boots I got for 10$ at Rugged Wearhouse. They're made with metallic thread and glitter for an extra load of sparkle, but I covered them almost all the way up with the legs of my long black pants. In the photo, they look mostly silver, but they were actually a light shade of gold.

On top, I wore a butter yellow sweater (yellow almost equals gold, right?).
What would a gold-themed look be without gold jewelry? I have tons of gold earrings, but instead I decided to go with my smallest pair of gold-colored crystal studs so as not to compete with the necklace. I've had the necklace for ages (like ever since I was a kid) but never worn it for real because it's not quite my style. I thought it would be the perfect accessory for this look because it was a hand-me-down from my Grandma (shout-out to my G-words!). 
One of the two gold rings (the one with the bow) probably came from my grandma as well...but now that I think about it, after a couple decades, I can't quite be sure where either piece of jewelry came from.

Oh well, for the sake of a good solid Letter-G day, I'm going to say definitively that I'm wearing Grandma's Gold.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

F is for Florals

F is for florals...but not just any florals...fall florals!

I sang the praises of said motif as recently as 3 weeks ago, when I wore this very same blouse. Ordinarily I'd consider today far too soon for a repeat of such a statement-making piece, but for fall florals, which can only be worn about three months out of the year, I'll make an exception.

I tried to change up the look as much as possible for this iteration; I swapped pants for a skirt, brown for red, and boots for flats. I also found in my collection a very coordinating set of earrings, in their own muted shades of green and yellow.

I wore this outfit happily all morning, but when I went to take a bathroom break around 11 o'clock, I discovered to my horror that you could see my black bra right through the shirt! F for fashion fiasco!

I keep a backup stash of clothing at my desk, in case of accidents, spills, and the sudden need to go somewhere unexpected right after work. I don't keep a beige bra in this collection (though I probably should; this is the second time that I've had to dip into my stash and really wished it included a bra), but I do have a black top with a lace short sleeved overlay and a tank-style liner. In my moment of need, I decided to sacrifice the shirt and snip off the overlay so I could layer the liner under my blouse (it was too bulky to just wear the whole shirt underneath).

A second spin in the bathroom mirror revealed my look to be much more office-appropriate. F for Fast Fix!

Monday, November 21, 2016

E is for Earth Tones

Last week's contemplation of brown and beige led my mind to all the clothes I have in those colors, so when the day for E rolled around, earth tones seemed like a logical choice of theme. 

I wore a very similar outfit to this one last December, featuring the same beige hooded vest and brown skinny pants. This time I wore a pair of new (thrifted) taupe knee-high boots, a marled grey lightweight sweater, and a skinny wrapped choker. Brown earrings also made an appearance, though they're hidden behind my hair.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

D is for Denim (OK, OK, and Dolphins!)

D is for Denim had been my intended theme for Sunday since several days ago.

However, since Ryan Tannehill took an interest in my fashion challenge, I felt like I really shouldn't let him down. It helps that a friend of mine (who would never comment on blogs under celebrity pseudonyms) offered to loan me a Dan Marino jersey and forgive me a 10$ debt if I would wear it for D-Day.

So I did.

The rest of the outfit is your classic Canadian tuxedo—I worked in as much denim as I could, which ended up just being jeans and a jacket.

FYI, my friend deeply regrets making me wear the jersey; he believes my fraudulent repping of his team nearly caused the Dolphins to lose their game today, and they only recovered by the grace of me taking it off at halftime and him returning home to loyally send them good luck through the magical portal of his laptop. So I think I can safely say that this will be my first and last time ever wearing a Dolphins jersey.

C is for Corset

Yesterday's alphabet outfit almost didn't happen, as the day dawned long and boring with only a trip to Costco to break the monotony. Just when I was giving up hope, a friend appeared from the depths of my basement (he'd been playing video games with my boyfriend), pulled me up off the floor (yes, it was really that bleak), and persuaded me to trade my workout clothes and granny sweater for a night on the town.

It's a good thing he did, because I'd been planning my Letter-C outfit for 2 days! It was a corset!

I might have mentioned I have a thing for corsets. While they have not quite hit mainstream popularity this year as I hoped, they have a certain timelessness that makes them something an Unfashionista can pull off in any era. Corsets have this weirdly sexy reputation—weirdly, since they're one of the most covered-up and inaccessible pieces of clothing a girl can wear short of a chastity belt. So in addition to making me feel pretty, wearing a corset also makes me feel like a walking paradox, which affords me a sort of intellectual cheap thrill.

Anyhow, by the time I was ready for photos, my boyfriend was already at least two sheets to the wind, resulting in this series of bizarre pictures.

Originally I planned on wearing my corset with a jacket as a key element of the ensemble, so I went through every jacket in my collection before finally settling on this white one. However, I think the whole look was much better without the jacket, and I was fortunate that all the places we visited last night were warm enough to go without.

A note on corset-shopping: Although I was thrilled to find this real steel-boned corset on Amazon for only $10.98, I got what I paid for. You can kind of see in the first picture that the entire garment is skewed off-center. Apparently this was some kind of flaw in the construction (or I just have undiagnosed scoliosis!) because I spent all night tugging it back to vertical. So next time I buy a corset, I might just have to buy the premium variety...or just pay a bit more attention when I try it on. Five months after purchase is a little too late to initiate a return.

Friday, November 18, 2016

B is for Black

For today's outfit, I had just 3 requirements: 1) I'd been wearing skirts and dresses all week, so it had to include pants, 2) it had to use flat shoes (I have this new personal policy of trying to wear flat or low heeled shoes at least two days out of five when I'm at work) and 3) it had to start with the letter B.

I had thought up lots of fashion-related terms for B: Blue (did yesterday), Brogues (don't have), Bold and Bright (cop-outs)...but finally gravitated towards the three neutral color-words: Beige, Brown, and Black. Black is definitely what I have the most of, and it produces the most striking effect when it's the only color you're wearing.

Normally, mostly black clothing casts a literally figurative black shadow on my soul, but when framed as a challenge like: "How many black pieces can I work into one outfit?" it becomes a game!

Let's count:
  1. Black skinny trousers
  2. Black riding boots
  3. Black short-sleeved sweater (short sleeves in November again! But this time it got up to 71 degrees outside, so it was well worth it)
  4. Black long vest
  5. Black sparkly headband
  6. 3 black bangles (Does each bangle count as one item? I should have worn the full set of 8!)
  7. Black seismograph ring

I could have done better if I hadn't left the house without putting on my earrings, which would have been – guess! – black.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A is for Argyle

No sooner had I realized that I was sick to death of my autumn wardrobe, than I immediately also realized what would help cheer me up: a fashion challenge! Even if I've worn all my transitional garments a hundred times, they'll still feel fresh and fun when they represent a theme! Compression Sock Chic notwithstanding (it doesn't count because it was forced upon me), I haven't issued myself a fashion challenge since 2014, when I attempted to channel 5 countries in 5 days...and failed because one of the days I was sick!

I've been toying for months with the idea of theming a series of outfits around the letters of the alphabet, and now, with nothing to lose except a case of the doldrums, I'm going to go for it! For 26 days, I'll be wearing an outfit that strongly features something beginning with a different letter each day. I may not post every day, and I may postpone a day (life happens, and sometimes funky knee socks have to take a backseat to more practical concerns) but I hereby vow to get through every letter before I quit!

The inaugural outfit of this challenge is built around a pair of blue argyle knee socks. Speaking of challenge, these socks are quite difficult to coordinate. I honestly can't recall if I've ever worn them since the first time I posted an outfit with them nearly 5 years ago—which also happened to be during my first ever published fashion challenge—Unfashion a Day! This might be the last time I wear them, since they're starting to sprout an unmanageable number of loose threads. 

I almost wore them with the same blue shirt I wore them with last time, but it was just too long to look good with the long blue skirt I wanted to pair it with. I gave up on the long blue skirt, switched to a short aqua skirt, found that the hue no longer worked with the original blue shirt, and switched to this blue sweater. A short skirt and short sleeves sound like a terrible choice in November, but I did it for fashion! Fortunately I have a space heater in my office!

When all was said and done, I had a completely tonal outfit in shades of blue and blue-green. Apparently A is also for Aqua!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lotsa Lace

It's that time of year when I'm getting really, really bored with my transitional wardrobe. My list of never-worn clothing (which I keep to inspire me to create new outfits with it) has dwindled to just 7 items (astonishingly low for me), 6 of which are shoes. Building an outfit around your shoes is possible, but all my efforts were getting nowhere with the only ones interesting enough to anchor an outfit. Further limiting me, even my (purely mental) list of clothes that are old but haven't been worn yet this season, is also down to just a dress or two and a handful of tops. One of the handful was this mesh greyish sweater, which was one of my favorites when it was new last winter.

I wore it several times last year, but the only time I shared it was in my beige & sage outfit from January. I knew I could repeat that outfit if worse came to worst, but I'd much prefer to wear it with something new and exciting. The newest and most exciting things I have in my wardrobe are actually two pairs of over-the-knee socks—which weren't on my list of never-worn clothing, but I guess they should have been. I don't usually consider socks anything to get excited about, but when they are thigh-high, they can easily become the focal point of an entire ensemble. One pair was burgundy, the other was green. There was already a hint of green in the sweater, so I had high hopes that they would go together well!

Putting an olive-green tank top under the sweater was just the ticket to make the slightly conspicuous overknees (I saw someone else use this word recently, and I think it's a wonderfully concise way to refer to over-the-knee socks) fit in with the more subdued colors of the rest of the outfit. It's at times like this that having green hair is also a real boon.

Except for when wearing this sweater with jeans, I seem to always pair it with my lace khaki skirt, because it helps make the pure white lace border of the sweater blend in with other garments. And of course the socks had a white lace top as well, so this was shaping up to be quite a lacy outfit! I decided the only sensible choice of shoe (aside from another shade of olive green, which I didn't have) would be more off-white lace! I rejected my lace pumps (too prissy!) in favor of my lace monstrosities. (I do so love to wear those shoes in combination with an overload of lace!)

Because there were now two patches of stark white standing out a bit too much for my taste (sock tops and shirt bottom), I decided to wear white earrings as well to help balance them out. The white beads are even encased in a silver filigree setting which might be described as "lacy!" Sort of.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Brick Red Velvet

Sometime in March or April, I was returning to the car from brunch when I came upon this paper bag full of clothes next to a trash can. I imagine the original owner wanted to get rid of them but didn't have the time to donate them or the heart to just throw them away. Enter the lowly scavenger...a.k.a the Unfashionista! "I don't have that much shame!" I announced gleefully as I began to pick through the offerings.

Many of the items in the bag were not my style or size, so I left them for some other passerby, but I did manage to find two things. One was a sleeping cat T-shirt (which I actually spent a lot of time improving and captioning, but unfortunately I never took a "before" picture, so I'll settle for sharing this one ordinary shot of the finished project).

The other was a button-down blouse in a punchy orange and yellow floral print. I doubt I would have ever bought it for myself (not a fan of button-down blouses, for one, which I'll explain at some later date when I'm feeling verbose), but since my wardrobe has a dearth of warm colors, I was eager to give it a try. 

The first time I wore it, I found it too baggy (labeled an S, it would have easily fit almost two of me!). It only took me all summer to get around to fixing it....When I finally did, it was a simple matter of tailoring the straight seam in the sides, and removing the front pockets.  It's still baggy as all get-out, but it looks presentable enough when tucked in securely (tucked-in shirts are another of my least favorite things, which I intend to discuss at more length too!)

I've worn it once or twice with a yellow skirt, but my favorite pairing thus far has been with this brick red velvet skirt I picked up recently at the thrift store. Velvet is having a moment, so I'm pleased I can ride the trend with this new (albeit somewhat dowdy in style) skirt! Ecru boots rounded out the look.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pleasant Plaid Peasant Blouse

Several months ago, I ran across a tutorial on the Internet about turning a men's button-down shirt into a peasant blouse. "That's kind of cute," I thought, and promptly forgot about it. A few months later, a friend gave my boyfriend this blue and red plaid shirt, because it was too big for him. My boyfriend didn't want it either, which surprised me, because I liked it a lot (boys—I'll never understand their tastes)! I'm usually not big on plaid, but on this one, I enjoyed the size of the design and the color scheme, which was jewel-toned reds and blues with ecru for contrast. So I took the twice-rejected shirt for my own, vowing I'd somehow find the tutorial and make a cute peasant top for myself.

I never did locate the same tutorial that had originally captured my interest, but I picked and chose elements from the following two tutorials to arrive at my own version of the DIY peasant blouse: 
Unlike the RKC Southern example, I decided to leave off any additional embellishments, since the plaid pretty much spoke for itself. Unlike the Cut Out and Keep example, I didn't put in any ruffled edges.

Unlike both of the examples, I used a ribbon for the neckline instead of elastic, for a couple of reasons: 1) Elastic is mainly to make an off-the-shoulder top stay up better, and I wanted to keep the neckline of this top narrow enough that it would stay on my shoulders (off-the-shoulder is an especially unflattering look on my top-heavy frame). 2) That would require a lot more elastic than I had!

Another feature distinguishing my version from its predecessors is the longer sleeves. The fabric the shirt was made of was a little stiff and heavy, and the colors were kind of dark, which I thought would suit it better for a fall or winter garment than a summer or spring one. So I kept as much of the original sleeves as possible (I ended up going with the 3/4 length because I thought it looked best on me).

When all DIYing was done, I wore the peasant top for the first time with a pair of taupe slouch boots over skinny jeans (a fabulous flea market find at $2.50, with a fashionable high waist, a sophisticated dark wash, a near-perfect fit, and only a small zipper problem to fix). The clothing produced a country-chic vibe that I tried to play up with a little touch of nature in my silver leaf earrings.
Here are the full details on how I reconstructed this shirt.
Laying the shirt on the floor, I lopped off the top portion right about at the edges of the shoulders. This was significantly less cut off than in either of the tutorials, because, again, I wanted a normal neckline rather than an off-the-shoulder one. 

I cut off the sleeves just above the cuffs.

Folding each sleeve over on the inside, I sewed a casing/hem, into which I would insert elastic. Where the original cuff had overlapped, I just left it that way.
When the elastic was all threaded through, I simply secured the ends with two rows of stitches, then stretched it before I cut it off, so the end would retreat back inside the casing.
I put another casing in the neckline, and threaded that with a length of red ribbon.

That's about all there is to a peasant top. This type of blouse is supposed to be pretty loose, but considering that it had originally been too big even for my enormous (kidding!) male friend, it's not surprising that it was still too baggy on me. 

So I put two princess seams up the front, ending just below the breast pocket, to give it a hint of a feminine shape.

All done!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dress it down, layer it up

After I wore my red and pink paisley dress for the Red Wedding back in April, I really had low expectations for ever wearing it again. Re-wearing it at a formal occasion sounded like heresy, when I have a constant supply of new dresses and precious few opportunities to wear them! But it is just a little too shiny and flouncy to pull off at work or happy hour. Letting it go seemed like the most practical option, but I liked it enough to let it sit in my closet for several months, just in case the opportunity arose. I figured at some point, I'd maybe take a page from my own book and dress it down by layering it up (I'm getting that trick down to a science)!

So, I was planning my outfit for Wednesday, and decided I wanted to build it around this maroon notch-neck top. I've had this shirt for probably 4 years, ever since I salvaged it, still new with tags, from the overflow pile at a charity donation dumpster (It's wrong to steal from the poor, but if the donations are sitting outside the bin, there's a good chance they'll be ruined by the weather before the poor ever get them, so they're fair game for dumpster divers —according to Valerie's rules). After 4 years and countless wears, I realize I've never pictured it in my blog—welcome to the club, little shirt!

So I was looking at the shirt, and looking at my skirts, and all of a sudden my eye was drawn right over to my other wardrobe, where this dress was sitting pretty and practically winking at me! The colors were a perfect match for the cranberry shade of the shirt. I was a little uncertain how the wide keyhole neckline of the top would work with the V-neck and straps of the dress; but, as it happened, they looked fine—in a somewhat unconventional way!

Covering up the top half of the dress did a lot to tone it down for the office, but I took it another step into casual territory by donning some slouchy boots.

Phew! Now that this dress had had two moments in the sun, I felt like I'd gotten my money's worth and was ready to list it for sale...just in time to spill a carton of cheese juice down the front of it and rip a seam as I was taking it off.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rabbit in a Hat

I am one of those people who plans their Halloween costume years in advance (I already have 3 ideas for next year, plus a bonus or two for the dogs!). If I can wear multiple costumes in one season, I consider it a year well done.

Anyway, I'd been ruminating on this year's costume for so long that I can't remember where I got the idea from, but I wanted to be a a hat!

I've been accumulating materials for this costume for months. Early this year, I found two furry vests at the thrift store, which I thought would be perfect for my costume—plus, in the off-season, they could serve as cheap-o substitutes for the shaggy faux fur stuff I'd been coveting. They ended up being too short and short-haired for that latter purpose, but I was able to make use of both in my costume. A few months before Halloween, I went to Home Depot and bought some plastic tubing that I thought might serve as boning (I got this idea from a couple of tutorials I read online suggesting it as a cheap alternative to real boning).

The first week of October, I started work. The whole project took me almost a month, putting in a few minutes to an hour almost every day. I was going to share every little detail about how I made the hat, but I realized that that might be a tad boring, so I'll give you the short version, and if you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them!

I used my tubing from Home Depot to support the inner and outer edges of the brim, in concentric circles kind of like the picture above (this was an early approximation of how big I wanted the hat to be). I later added boning to the bottom edge (what would be the top of the hat if it were on a head) as well.

A previous roommate had left behind a few sheets of black fabric, and one was a glittery floral I thought would be perfect for this purpose.

I sewed most of the parts of the hat together, creating casings for the boning, turning all the strips of fabric into tubes, and adding a lot of darts along the brim to convert it from a rectangle to a circle.

However, I also used a good bit of hot glue for some of the more awkward spots, such as attaching the brim to the crown.

As it turned out, aquarium or electrical or whatever kind of vinyl tubing this was is not rigid enough to support the weight of a 3-foot-wide hat brim, so I had to use coat hanger wire inside it to give it a bit more support.

I found a wooden dowel that just happened to be an almost perfect fit inside the tubing. I cut it to about two inches in length and inserted it into both ends of the tubing to join them.

To suspend the hat from my shoulders, I was going to use wire. I fortuitously found the wire lying in the road on my way home from work one day shortly after I'd put picture-hanging wire on my shopping list. So with traffic whizzing past me, I retrieved the mass of wire and took it home with me—at least one part of this costume was absolutely free!

Originally I tried just making big loops of wire and draping them over my shoulders, but I found they dug in a little uncomfortably, so I decided I needed to make a harness out of fabric to distribute the weight. The fabric I chose was a canvas apron that had come with my house (another free costume element!)
I cut it into a couple of strips, awkwardly sewed some loops at the end to hold the wire, and then connected the two strips with another strip that would rest over the back of my neck.

It was quite a labor of love getting the suspension wires attached to the hat, because I had to poke them through the fabric and then twist them closed in such a way that the pokey ends of the wire wouldn't injure anyone. Eventually, though, I had this:

Once the hat was done, I was ready to focus my attention on the slightly easier bunny costume.

By this time, I had acquired a fuzzy sweater from another trip to the thrift store, and I had a hard time deciding which garment (vest, vest, or sweater) to wear on top. I finally settled on the fur-lined knit vest with a hood, mainly because the hood would help disguise my green hair, which could be confusing in the context of a bunny costume. 

To make the vest look more like a mammalian body and less like an article of clothing, I removed all the leather and wood toggle closures and sewed it shut with the right side wrapped over the left side. Since the left edge was now covered, I was able to remove the fur from that side, to use for other parts of the costume—primarily, the ears!

I made wire frames for the ears out of my free salvaged wire.

I folded the raw edges of fabric over so that the frames were completely covered.

I left a few inches of wire poking out the bottom of each ear, so I could wrap it around a metal headband. Somehow one of my ears was noticeably smaller than the other, but rather than make the other one even shorter, I opted to just mount the smaller one higher off the headband. The ears also ended up being a little off-center. Both problems are visible if you look closely, but I was banking on no one looking too closely.

To keep the wire from poking me during use, I then covered the headband and wire with a white ribbon (the string tie from the apron). Here you can see it being held in place by binder clips while the glue dries.

Hat: check! Ears: check! I had enough of a costume now that I could be reasonably recognizable, but I still had one fur vest and a fuzzy I decided to make arm- and leg-warmers to add to my furry appearance.

To begin with, I completely deconstructed the fur vest. Had I known that this would be its fate, I probably could have saved money by just buying fur fabric, but the thrift store only has a 7-day return window, and I was about 7 months too late, so I figured I might as well use what I had.
I decided to use the front portion of the vest to make arm warmers, and the back portion to make leg warmers. I wore these to look more like a white rabbit when I wasn't wearing the hat, as it was too bulky to carry around all the time, but I didn't get any pictures of my "naked" rabbit costume.

To make appendage warmers, you wrap a strip of material around your forearm or lower leg, inside-out. [Note: for optimum realism, make sure that the "grain" of the hairs points downward, toward your hand or foot]. Then you use pins to mark where a seam should go, approximately following the line of your arm or leg. Be sure to leave about a 2-inch slit for your thumb to poke through on the arm warmer. Two inches seems like a lot for a thumbhole, but you need that space for full articulation of the joint. Sew a seam along the line of the pins.

While doing this, I learned a trick for cutting fur fabric: Fold it in half so the hairs are all pointing straight up or down, then cut along the "part." This will help you avoid cutting too many hairs short.

The last part of my costume, the tail, was  an afterthought, completed the night before I was to wear it. I grabbed a piece of leftover fabric and bunched it up into some semblance of a rabbit tail, stitching it to a safety pin to hold it all together.

I attached the safety pin to a white skirt, and I was done! Finally! Can you believe that was the short version of this story?

As with most of my costumes, I constructed it almost entirely from salvaged items. My only expenses were:
  • Two rolls of aquarium tubing (at something like 4$ each), 
  • Three shirts I bought from the thrift store (which probably totaled about 12$)—even though I only used two of them, I don't think I'm going to be able to return the third.
  • The negligible cost of crafting materials I already had, such as glue and thread.
So overall, my rabbit in a hat probably cost me 20$. I was aiming for a costume contest prize that would earn it all back, but this year, that was not to be. While I didn't earn any cash prizes, I did enjoy a wealth of compliments while I wore my creation.
It had its debut (and probably final appearance as well!) at Nightmare Festival, a Halloween extravaganza of dance music. The outdoor venue (a campground) even had a small ropes course, so I showed my athleticism by playing on the tire swing in full costume!

Hoppy Halloween!