Friday, June 30, 2017

Looking normal

I have no shortage of sleeveless button-downs, because basically all of my short-sleeved blouses eventually become one (and yes, this blouse originally had short sleeves too), but I don't consider them my most fashionable of garments. Something about a sleeveless button-down screams "soccer mom!!"—not typically the look I go for—but for some reason, I'm really proud of today's simple outfit featuring one. Maybe it's because I look so unapologetically soccer-mom-ish, I become a fashion statement in myself.

Just look at me in my suburban-outdoorsy blouse that tries to be practical yet cute, fitted yet comfortable, and adult yet playful, all at the same time! Just check out my unpretentious (and un-trendy) pedal-pushers! Have a good long gander at those sensible sandals with their sturdy ankle buckle and low, walking-friendly rise! Heck, how about my haircut—the low-maintenance, unstyled chin-length bob, perennial favorite among busy moms everywhere?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Does this all point to one thing? Have I finally embraced normcore?

Of course I have! It's a trend that's past its prime! Perfect time for an Unfashionista to pick up on it!

Just kidding! The truth is, the Unfashionista hasn't been feeling too well lately, and her energy levels have basically hit rock bottom. Items usually at the top of my priority list (such as picking out the world's best outfit every night) have taken a backseat to those necessary for survival (such as going to bed at 9pm). I dragged this outfit from my closet this morning, cringing from a headache, and proceeded to throw it on and bike (very slowly) right to work.

And yet I don't think I look under the weather, and that's quite an accomplishment! I may not look like the paragon personal style I aspire to be, but looking like a chipper housewife isn't a bad second place.

In short, Style Tip No matter how bad you feel, simple pants and a fitted top can always make you look like a million bucks—or at least a solid 60,000 in the bank and a new SUV in the driveway.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A happy goth

These days when I'm going out, I usually gravitate towards pants (or shorts, in the summer) and a shirt, because it's a versatile combination that can take you almost anywhere...but yesterday, I felt like wearing a dress (perhaps because the day before, I had spent the evening in shorts and a satin halter top – as seen at right – and wanted to change it up)! 
I immediately went for my black-and-white striped dress, because I'd just recently downgraded (or upgraded, depending on your perspective) it from a "dress I wear to work" to a "dress I will only wear outside of work" (because I decided it was just too short for the office...unless I wear it with tights, like I did the first time I wore it...but I haven't been much into tights this year...are you catching my indecisive vibe?) and I wanted to try it out in its new role.

A black and white dress lends itself perfectly to colorful shoes, and I really wanted to wear one of my new pairs of flamboyant high heels. But alas, when I tried them on, I realized to my dismay that my recently sprained ankle still wasn't up to the challenge. I was practically devastated.

But I consoled myself with the knowledge that if I couldn't have a party on my feet, I could at least have a party on my ears, so I dug around in my Unworn Jewelry Basket for some suitably new and exciting earrings.

Once again, I struck out, since I didn't have any new earrings worth wearing. But I did have a black lace choker and matching bracelet, which just felt right, even if they were somewhat lacking in the color department. I guess you could say that having such depressing shoe options had put me in a black mood.

Well, I reached into my bag of optimism and consoled myself again: if I wasn't wearing colorful shoes, and I wasn't wearing colorful jewelry, I could at least wear a colorful face!

I made up my eyes with some dramatic winged liner, a hint of purple shadow, purple mascara, and even purple "lash sprinkles" (glitter mascara). The purple mascara was a new thing for me (I've done lots of blue mascara, but never purple!), so I was pretty excited to finally try it. You know what else I was excited to try? Purple lips! A few months ago, I found this tube of liquid lip color on the sidewalk near where I work, and being a shameless scrounge, I decided I had to take it. Yes, it was opened, yes, it was potentially contaminated, but I'd been wanting some purplish lipstick for a long time, and here it had just showed up in my path! I felt like it was destiny. So I took it home and did my best to sterilize it by thoroughly cleaning the applicator wand first, then letting it sit for a couple of weeks, then freezing it for a couple of days, then microwaving it for a couple of seconds (I had to stop when the metallic ink on the tube started sparking!). I gave it a trial run at home and didn't suffer any adverse effects, so I decided it was probably safe!

And finally, I got to wear it for real. Between my black jewelry, black-dominant attire, and weirdly purple lips, I had a little bit of a goth thing going, which was totally at odds with my now-positively-spritely mood. I was so pleased at how my makeup had turned out! Psshh, who needs high heels when they can have purple lips?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wedding dress redux

Almost 3 years after originally restyling my jade and gold skirt into a dress to wear to a wedding, and a year and a half after outfitting it with straps, it was finally ready for another public another wedding!

As is the story of many of my special occasion outfits, I didn't decide on this dress until almost the last minute. For most of the weeks preceding the event, I had planned to wear a fancy, dark-floral tea-length dress with a high-low hemline and plenty of tulle to fill it out. But in trying it on the day before I left town for the wedding, I realized it was much too stuffy for an outdoor wedding in the June Texas heat. I needed a dress that could breathe.

I proceeded to try on almost every dress in my closet, with increasing panic as I realized all of them were too casual or too formal for the event. Although I'm not sure why (probably mainly because I wanted to wear something new—it's a wedding tradition!), I hesitated to try the green-and-gold until I was fresh out of other options. But this dress was past due for a re-wear, and after trying it on and feeling how much more ventilated it was than my first choice, I knew I'd made the right move. 

The only problem was the fit. I had never been 100% happy with the way it turned out, as there was just something about it that made me look fat. "Just something" was, to be specific, the straight-across neckline combined with the empire waist, which made both my bust and my tummy look huge. This time around, I figured out the solution: a wider waistband to make it a little more form-fitting.

Instead of letting the sash twist up into a rope-like shape tied at the front with an awkward bow, I stretched it neatly across my chest and tied it in the back. This made all the difference in the world!

It occurred to me that the sash would behave much better if it was secured in place, so very late the night before my flight to Texas, I hand-sewed it to the dress with a few stitches of gold thread (I almost forgot to do this OR pack the dress, which was truly a crisis averted when I saw it sitting on my sewing table as I went to bed). And I carried the needle and thread with me to the wedding, just in case I needed to make extra adjustments. But I didn't! The entire night of the wedding (even during some energetic dancing), my dress stayed where I put it (thanks, halter straps!) and the sash never strayed.

If you think this is energetic dancing, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Gray Day


I usually don't wear a whole lot of grey because I think it's boring (I also usually don't spell it "gray," but I wrote it thusly in the title so that it more closely resembled the "day" that followed it. Thank you for your understanding.), but I have accumulated a lot of new grey items this summer, so I decided to try a monochrome look in the most boring of colors! I like monochrome, so that should make it interesting, right!?

I started with a new (to me) charcoal grey cowl-neck tank top which has actually seen quite a lot of use. My best attempts at removing the pills were only mildly successful, but I decided fuzzy and fluffy are a good look on a grey knit—they add depth! For the bottom, I wore a grey pencil skirt which I've had for quite a while. I don't wear it often, but it comes in handy when I do! Over the top of it all, a grey vest which I just got at the thrift store for 2 dollars. I love vests for their versatility, but one usage of them that I haven't mentioned is how nicely they pull together two different-colored solid pieces. 

Style Tip Use an open-front vest to bridge the distance between a top and a bottom that don't otherwise match. The lines of the vest will visually connect the two pieces, making them seem more closely related, especially if the vest shares a color with either of them.

I didn't really need a vest to unite two slightly different shades of grey, but I had this grey vest lying around, and I might as well use it for something! Besides, in a monochromatic outfit, the more shades, the merrier!

Just as rose gold is the metallic version of salmon, so silver is the metallic version of grey (well, there's also pewter). What an opportunity to wear this new pair of silver pointed-toe flats, which I got for what I feel was a great bargain at $9.96 on eBay! I used to think pointed toes were unflattering and made my feet look like long implements of war. Well, I still do, but they're trendy now. In addition to making my feet look like spear heads, the ankle straps also make my legs look short and squat, especially when combined with the length of the pencil skirt, but sometimes we must make aesthetic sacrifices in order to adhere to our theme.

I also wore silver earrings. The end.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Salmon and Friends

Salmon is a tricky color. Not quite orange, not quite pink, it is stuck in this zone where the only acceptable word for it is also a word for a fish. The darker varietal of this mystery hue – something between a red and an orange – is coral. Another aquatic name—are we sensing a pattern?

Allow me to digress for a moment as I UnPhilosophize on the ambiguities of color-naming. I have always thought of coral as a pink color, with maybe just a hint of orange skewing it to the warmer side of the spectrum. Indeed, if you search my blog for "coral," you will find all my past outfits with the color involved sweaters that were either pink or had muted pink stripes. However, in my clothes-shopping experience of late, the word is almost exclusively reserved for a dark, orange-hued red...a color that I'd be more likely to describe as "vermilion." But (insert crimson tide joke here) you can't fight the currents of popular opinion, and so if they want "coral" to mean "vermilion," I may as well join them since I can't beat them!

While salmon and coral are tricky to pin down in the naming department, they are also tricky to identify online. I can't count the times (well, I probably could, but who has time for that?) that I've purchased something from a website, thinking I'm getting an orange or a pink or a red, only to find that it's actually something in between those hues, and thus goes with nothing in my wardrobe! Tricky to define, tricky to discern in pictures, and tricky to wear—the triple salmon whammy!

Whenever I've inadvertently purchased something either salmon or coral (usually shoes), I typically keep it around for a while, trying it with various outfits but never having success, before admitting defeat and selling it. But today, the challenging colors are found not in my shoes but my dress, allowing me to finally put my salmon skills to the test!

In addition to salmon and coral, the dress comprises two other colors. One is an even paler variant that in some lights might pass for "nude," but in juxtaposition with its darker siblings, becomes the much more interesting "peach"—finally a color that's not named after a sea animal! The other is a solid, unambiguous off-white or beige. With this color in the dress (in however small of a mesh overlay making up just one of the stripes on the bodice), it was an easy decision to wear similarly colored shoes, this pair having been bought at the end of last summer at the thrift store, and thusly making its first public appearance on my feet!

It's a good thing that beige goes with everything, because otherwise I would have had a hard time pairing any of my shoes to this tricky-colored dress...but while I was working on this outfit, I discovered another color that makes the perfect partner to these orangey shades—rose gold!

Rose gold is another tricky color (more than just a color, because its metallic sheen is an essential part of its nature)—not quite gold, not quite copper, somewhat but not quite resembling pastel pink, I only learned of it a few years ago. It seems to be rising in popularity, but I myself have mixed feelings about rose gold. While I appreciate the deviation from the boring standard colors of metals, it never seems to go with anything in my wardrobe! But I finally found its match in my salmon-coral-peach-beige dress. Rose gold is basically a pale salmon in metal form!

My glitzy rose-gold earrings paired beautifully with the dress, adding a bit of glam to an otherwise very modest and unassuming (though brightly colored) sheath, with its sensible and unassuming wedge sandals. The earrings make the outfit more fancy, while the shoes make it more casual, averaging out to the perfect workplace ensemble!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rules are made to be remade

There's little I look forward to quite as much as unpacking my giant tubs of summer clothes at the end of winter and preparing for at least a few weeks of novel outfits! Last year, I set a requirement that I could not do this until temperatures of at least 75 degrees occurred (or were forecast) for seven consecutive days—or, I could do it on June 1 if the weather wasn't cooperating. This is actually the first year ever that I've had to wait until my June 1 cutoff point. The temperatures have been swinging all across the board, from the 70's in February to the 80's in March, to the 50's in May, but have not once reached 75 for more than 5 days running—which has caused me to completely rethink my philosophy on Wardrobe Seasonal Switching.

My wardrobe schedule is based on a gradual increase in temperature over the course of several months—not wildly fluctuating weather that sees a high of 56° one day (May 13) and 92° 4 days later! Since late February (I was in New Zealand then, but it still counts!), Maryland has experienced 21 days with temperatures over 75, 14 over 80, and 4 over 90! Even if none of those days happened to be strung together, that was 3 cumulative weeks of summer-wardrobe highs! That's a lot of days to be missing out on the joy of shorts and tank tops!

So I'm thinking of adding a clause to my Seasonal Switching policy that allows for a partial switch in the case of incidents of unseasonable weather. If today's highs are in the 90's, I want to be able to wear my summer clothes regardless of whether the temps are going to drop tomorrow!

So this year, I kind of stretched the limits of my Seasonal Switching rules. When the second or third heat wave hit at the end of March and I had exhausted my small stash of easily-accessible-out-of-season clothes, I dipped into storage, grabbing a few T-shirts and tanks from the top of the pile. On Wednesday, May 17, now seven-ish heat waves into spring, I finally unpacked my summer clothes in preparation for a trip to Florida on Friday—but just my "old" summer clothes, not the new ones that I feel the need to take pictures of every year. Although the highs didn't stay high enough long enough to officially warrant the switch, by this time, there had been enough days of above-80 temperatures to make holding out any longer a completely stupid move.

This past weekend, I finally went all the way, opening up my favorite surprise—the collection of summer clothing I've been acquiring all winter, many of which I've already forgotten that I even got (which might explain why I bought two almost identical white/off-white lace-topped zipper-backed sleeveless blouses!).

Between bulk orders, 2 or 3 loads of hand-me-downs from 2 or 3 friends, and a couple of forgotten thrift store runs, I had accumulated quite the hoard.





I have so many new clothes this summer, that I decided to try something new: a "Save for later" box. Now this requires some explaining. I'm an Unfashionista. Part of my "charm" (you can use that word if you want to be charitable) is that I proudly wear stuff that's starkly out of fashion as long as I think I look good in it. However, even an Unfashionista has her limits. The time period of about 5-10 years ago is a fashion no-man's land. Things that were ultra-trendy back then appear ultra-tacky right now. Right now, you just can't be respected in embellished ribbed wife beaters or filmy lavender tanks with giant sequined flowers, no matter how much you love them. This is hard for me. I have a special affinity for the prevailing aesthetic of the 2007-2009 era, but nope! Those days are over and gone, and won't come back. At least not for another year. So I could choose to wear my really outdated stuff right now and feel happy in it but not fashionable, or I could hold onto it for a few more years, and wear it when the cycle of fashion inevitably makes it (or at least something passably similar) cool again.

There are also some garments that are too nice or useful to discard, but which I'm just tired of. They need to take a break. They need to be Saved for Later. So here's my plan. I'm going to take pictures of everything I want to Save for Later, store the pictures somewhere where I can reference them easily, and stash the clothes themselves in a far recess of my attic. Next year, I'll take them out and see if any of them strike my fancy.

Lastly, I'm making one bold move this summer—bidding adieu to the brown ballet flats that have been a staple of my shoe collection for longer than I can actually remember. It's been nice to always have these versatile and comfy shoes to fall back on, but since one of them fell apart in the middle of my workday yesterday, I can no longer deny that it is time to let them go. This is a bold move because...I don't have anything to take their place! The next time I need a brown flat shoe, I might just have to paint it on my foot!

Hello, toes!