Monday, December 17, 2018

Half and Half

One of the earliest Style Tips I shared in my blog was "Never wear a shirt that is the same length as your skirt. It will make you look short." Replace the "shirt" and "skirt" with the more generic "top" and "bottoms," and you have an all-purpose rule that you can live by!

And yet, I'm blatantly breaking that rule today...because, I've found a new tip that supersedes this rule and completely changes the game! But before I reveal it, a story.

Yesterday, I didn't have much time to plan today's outfit. I was out celebrating my boyfriend's birthday and running errands for most of the day. By the time I got home, I was too tired to do anything more than grab a shirt and some pants out of my closet and crawl into bed.

But when I woke up in the morning, I realized my mistake. I'd chosen a long pair of pants that I could only wear with high heels. After walking around all day on my wedge boots on Friday, and spending much of Sunday in 5-inch stilettos, my metatarsal bones were barking! There was no way I was wearing anything but flats today!

Unfortunately, the only pair of trousers that both matched the shirt, and was short enough to wear with flats, was my trusty old cigarette pants...which are exactly the same length as the shirt! Code violation!

What to do, what to do? Well, the obvious solution was to just wear the combo anyway and stop worrying about it. So I'd spend a day at work looking slightly dumpy. Worse things have happened.

But fortunately, a better answer occurred to me. I'd use my shoes to visually elongate my legs! Normally, I do this by putting on a pair of high heels, but since heels were off the table for today, I'd have to apply a couple of useful principles, which I'm now sharing as a Style Tip When your shoes are the same color as your pants, they will visually continue the line of your legs and make them look longer. In a similar vein, shoes with a pointed toe will make your foot look longer. Combine the two and you will have legs for days!

I've historically waffled on the topic of pointed-toe shoes. On the one hand, they do look more elegant than round or square toes. On the other hand, they pinch, and also make your feet look longer, which is usually not desirable. I eventually did decide to buy some this year, which was fortunate, because sometimes (like when you are wearing awkwardly short pants), longer feet is just what your look needs!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

In holiday style

Friday was the my department's holiday party. This was not just any ordinary gathering, however—this year, the entire group was invited to the White House for 2 hours of bowling! This presented a number of challenges in terms of what to wear.
  1. It was the White House, so wanted to put my best foot forward. I'd have to dress a little more upscale than I usually do for work.
  2. There would be bowling, so I'd have to wear clothes that didn't impede my mobility.
  3. We'd be riding Metro there and walking from place to place, so I had to wear Sensible Shoes.
  4. We might be spending a good bit of time outside after the party, so also had to wear something warm.
  5. The outfit had to be festive and seasonally appropriate.
Wow—upscale, sporty, walkable, warm, and festive all in one outfit? With so many criteria to meet, it's no wonder it took me an hour and a half to pick out what to wear!

After trying on every red thing in my closet, this is what I came up with: an almost all-black ensemble with Christmasy accents.

After I so thoroughly enjoyed my sheer star top last fall, I decided to get another one with a winter snowflake theme. For the holiday party, I wore the snowflake blouse with almost the exact same outfit as when I wore the star top, substituting fur-lined quilted boots for the simple unlined ones, and a full-length camisole instead of the cropped one. I even wore a similar style of earrings, but this time I went with red.

Hanging from my badge is the squirrel puppet I won during the games.

After the party, I was very flattered when a stranger saw me on the staircase and commented, "That's a hell of an outfit." If I do say so myself, I have to agree. My outfit had a holiday theme, but it wasn't overdone. The black-and-white palette and relative formality of the silhouette seemed to hit just the right note of respectability for the venue. The knee-high wedge boots were a good compromise between elegance, warmth, and walkability. The length and looseness of the skirt was ideal for bowling in.

Once we were safely past security, I felt like it would be a great idea to cut loose and project a more fun-loving image! So underneath my boots, I wore my snowflake knee socks! I was really delighted when I realized how well they worked with the look. In the end, I met all my criteria and even managed to work in a surprise element of fun!

The bowling shoes just happened to perfectly match my outfit!

The bowling party, unfortunately, wasn't quite such a success. It turned out not to actually be in the White House, but the Executive Office Building next door. The bowling alley ball return was broken, so only three people in our group got to throw a ball before it jammed up permanently. At least I got a fun photo shoot out of the misadventure.

Bonus picture!

The bowling party was the second of two holiday parties this week. For the first, which did not involve any prestigious government buildings, I felt safe wearing a more casual and colorful outfit. Here it is!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sweater / boots

So, I needed to get that hideous picture of me in curlers and pajamas off the top of my blog, and what better way to do it than with a pair of exciting new boots?
I've been seeing a lot of sweater cuffs on boots this year, and I'm here for it! When it comes to boots, the fluffier and cozier the better! Usually the sweater portion comprises a thick knit band that just peeks over the top of the boot. I've never seen a boot where the entire shaft was a sweater...until now!

These boots, at 14 dollars from, are one of the more expensive pairs of secondhand shoes I've bought in a while, but I figure a warm, ornamental boot that goes all the way up the calf is worth its weight in...uhh...leather and acrylic! I didn't know they were real leather when I bought them, but they are, which means they'll have a much longer lifespan than synthetics and will probably be a great investment.

As a bonus, they even have a swath that looks like zebra print, which, among other animal prints, has been all the rage this year! I'm always excited when the un-trendy, anachronistic clothes I shamelessly wear happen to hit a couple of modern notes.

Naturally, I wore my sweater boots with a sweater sweater! Although my favorite part of the outfit was naturally the footwear, one of my colleagues stopped me in the hallway to admire my necklace, so altogether, I guess today's look was a success!

Saturday, December 8, 2018


Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of my dog tearing my bedside slippers to bits. My dog tears a lot of things to bits, so I couldn't pretend to be surprised that my slippers were the latest victim. I couldn't even really be mad, because those slippers, in the year that I'd owned them, had uglified to the point where I was just looking for an excuse to replace them. Thanks, Kodiak, for giving me the reason I needed. I set the slippers aside, got dressed, and vowed to clean up the mess he'd made of them when I got home.

Then, I went to work. And started thinking.

Up until that point, I thought I knew what I was going to wear for the last day of my Week of Wordplay Fashion Challenge. I actually had two options, of which I was planning to pick one at the last minute, depending on whether I went out or stayed home on Saturday. But on Friday afternoon, it suddenly occurred to me that the stay-home option didn't quite match the pattern of all the other words in the series. The other days had all been pronounced almost, but never exactly the same as the actual word. Here I might replace a vowel sound with a slightly different vowel sound, or there I might replace a consonant with a similar one.... But never had I used a perfect homophone, and I wasn't about to start now! That meant my original candidate for a lazy Saturday's theme ("Sadderday,") was too identical to the actual word for my strict rule-making conscience to abide.

"Sadderday," in case you were wondering, would have just been my usual homebody uniform of mismatched loungewear, last night's makeup, and unkempt hair—in other words, a pretty sad image. What I came up with for a replacement, though, was pretty much the same, but even sadder: Tatterday! Not only would I wear clothes that are mismatched and sloppy, I'd wear clothes that are downright tattered! Starting, of course, with my chewed-to-pieces unicorn slippers.

For the rest of the outfit, I used my flannel cat pajamas. These duds, probably almost 20 years old by this point, have definitely seen better days. Last year, a huge rip opened up in the back of the left shoulder. I thought they were a goner, but I couldn't bear to throw away such a historical artifact when the rest of them was still perfectly serviceable! Instead, I removed the front pocket and used it as a patch, attaching a scrap of it to the inside of the hole and sewing over both layers with a reinforcing grid of stitches.

Unless you're looking closely, you'd never know that this PJ top was once in veritable tatters.

By now you must have guessed that I did, indeed, stay home today (I actually have plans to go out for Repeal Day in the evening, but I could not think of a way to work that into my weekly theme, and besides, by then the day will be almost over!). But you're probably wondering what the theme would have been if I had actually decided to get dressed. Well, in that case, I would have gone with "Caturday"—which, conveniently, works with these cat pajamas as well. Two Saturday themes in one outfit! I truly outdo myself!

And with that, my Fashion Challenge is over, and none too soon! As much as I enjoy a good daily test of my fashion mojo, I'm a bit tired and ready for a break. You know what they say, "Seven days of puns make one weak!"

Friday, December 7, 2018


Friday has thus far been the hardest day of the week to get a clever name for. While all the other days boasted multiple possibilities, there was only one variation on "Fri" that made even a slight amount of sense for my clothing collection: "Fly."

Back in July, when I came up with "Flyday", I had no shortage of aerial creatures in my wardrobe, with huge flocks of bird dresses and bee sandals, so I had infinite possibilities for a flight-themed outfit!

Now that it's winter (in weather, if not in scientific fact), my clothing collection sings a much sadder tune, with not a single winged animal in sight. Sure, there are other things that fly – Superman, kites, airplanes, UFO's, boomerangs, dandelion fluff, clouds, the Fickle Finger of Fate...but I don't have any of those on my clothing either! In order to make today's outfit, I had to dig around in my "Transitional" clothing storage tote until I found something with wings. The first suitable garment I uncovered was my pink butterfly poncho. Not a bad choice, considering I had wanted to blog about it last season but never got the chance.

This poncho was the second of two that I had gotten at the same time and needed to improve upon with a little bit of stitchery. Just like the first one, I cut the neck hole larger and finished it with some lace hem tape. Unlike that one, I decided to make the neck opening perfectly circular instead of oval, which accidentally made it much too big! To fix it, I pinched together two points on its perimeter and sewed them together. The resulting loop of excess fabric can be tucked to the inside, or folded over on the outside and secured with a pin—a convenient way to add another butterfly to an outfit! Sadly, my antique butterfly brooch lost a wing around 11 this morning, turning what had been the focal point of my top into a shabby embarrassment.

I thought this was a misfortune, but it actually enabled me to meet the theme in a more metaphorical way, as it forced me to make some adjustments to my look "on the fly." Since I could no longer close my poncho with a cute butterfly pin, I used a safety pin hidden on the back side. This left more room for butterfly jewelry, so I traded my tiny stud earrings for some huge silver butterfly danglers (I'd brought them to work with me just in case). I always feel happier when wearing statement earrings, so the day was not a total loss.

The theme was "Flyday," not "Butterflyday," so I kind of wanted to include other things that fly instead of just sticking to Lepidoptera. But I played around with some bird jewelry and found that the total effect of so many barely related animals looked more like a "Flying Circus" than any cohesive unit. Even adding too many butterflies launched me into tacky territory, so I limited myself to the aforementioned earrings and just one bracelet. I did make sure to wear pants with a fly, so I guess that counts for something!

A final challenge: while trying on the poncho last night, I quickly realized that it was no match for the dry air of December. It grew more and more staticky with each passing minute. Since I had a whole night before I needed to wear it and was confident it would dry quickly, I soaked it in a bowl of water mixed with hair conditioner, then laid it out to dry on the floor. That did seem to help somewhat with the static, but I still had to spray it liberally with water throughout the day, to keep it from clinging to my clothes. I feel safe to say that, unless you're in a Fashion Challenge, you should save the chiffon for summer!

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Ah, the theme that made me push this whole Fashion Challenge back by half a year—it's Fursday!

Obviously, you can't have a Fursday without fur, and you'd be crazy to wear fur in the summer. So, after coming up with the theme no later than July, I bided my time, ruminating for months about exactly what furry pieces I would wear when that distant Thursday finally rolled around.

As luck would have it, the furry piece of my dreams practically fell into my lap on my most recent [referral link] run. I finally found one of those faux-fur vests that I'd been coveting for so long that I'd basically given up on the idea. This one was not quite as shaggy as the original inspiration, but it was only $3.60, and since I knew I'd be able to use it for this upcoming themed outfit, it seemed a sensible enough investment.

As even more luck would have it, the faux fur on the vest happened to very nicely complement a pair of fur-lined boots I have in my collection. I never loved these boots as much as I thought I would when I bought them, and since I acquired quite a few pairs of brown boots over the past year, I was ready to kick these kicks to the curb. But not before they get to play their role as the second titular piece in my Fursday outfit!

The clothes I wore to complete my fur boots and vest were simple and unobtrusive. I wanted to go with colors that can naturally be found on animals' coats. Black was prohibited, as I've worn black pants almost every day this week, but dark brown worked, and the ivory sweater provided a nice pale contrast to the darker shades of the rest of my clothing.

The final touch in today's look has no fur itself, but does picture a furry animal. When I was looking around for mammal-themed jewelry, I was pretty astonished at how little I actually have. My collection is chock-full of birds, sea creatures of all types, and even the occasional arthropod...but the representation of fuzzy land mammals is almost nonexistent...and almost exclusively limited to cats. Last night I made a note to self, to scour eBay for new and exciting animal accessories, but in the meantime, I did find one unworn cloisonné pendant in the patchwork form of (of course!) a cat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


It's finally here, the concept that started it all! It was earlier this summer (May 22, to be exact,) when it occurred to me that "Weddin'sday," would be a splendid punny title for a blog post. Before long, I had constructed the bones of an outfit to go with the theme, and before much longer, I had realized that a whole week of day-name homophones would make for a fun Fashion Challenge! One of the homophones I had devised would work much better with winter clothes (telling you why would spoil the surprise, since it's coming up tomorrow!), so I actually postponed the challenge for several months, refining my ideas until I'd come up with the multi-day masterpiece you're in the middle of witnessing!

But it all began with a simple lace dress. I've been searching for a pure white dress for ages (just in case I ever get invited to an all-white party, which is my dream), but they're apparently hard to come by—and more so when you insist on your dress being an appropriate length for work (because if I never get invited to an all-white party, which I probably won't, I still want to be able to wear the dress somewhere!). When I saw this dress on eBay, I thought I'd found the one. Unfortunately, a trick of photography made me think it was much longer than it actually was—when it arrived, I could see I was never going to be able to wear this dress in the office unless I put pants under it.

So put pants under it I did! With a white lace dress on top and black pants on the bottom, I looked like I was trying to be both a bride and a groom at the same time. That was a rather bizarre notion, and I ran with it!

I wore a black blazer (er, "suit jacket") and ornamented my lapel with a floral brooch (we'll call that a "boutonnière"). I wore off-white lace bridal shoes, which were just a tad darker than the dress. I topped off my hair with a white headband (about as close as I can get to a veil at work without raising eyebrows) and my ears with blue chandeliearrings. Nothing particularly nuptial about those, but I just really didn't want to repeat my austere ears of yesterday! In any case, they can count as my "something blue."
This Fashion Challenge would not exist if it weren't for Weddingsday, but I don't feel this outfit is my best showing. I think the real winners of this week are going to be tomorrow and Friday, so let's just say I'm glad the wedding is over and it's time for the honeymoon to begin!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


For the Tuesday of my Week of Wordplay, I could have gone for the low-hanging fruit and employed a "Twos" theme, with two of everything. But that might get too "two," if you know what I mean...and if you don't, I mean I'd probably get hot wearing two layers on every part of my body. Fortunately, I came up with a much better word that not only puts a twist on the normal pronunciation of Tuesday, but also, plain and simple, is a twist. It's Twistday!

I have several garments that feature twists in their construction, but the one I chose for today was this dark jade green sheath dress with a twisted neckline. This was one of the many frocks I purchased in my Great Wedding Dress Hunt of 2018. When I hadn't worn it by the end of the summer, I decided it would make a great layering dress for the fall, so I kept it around even though it was sleeveless.

That made it the perfect choice for today's outfit, because I was conducting a training session at work and needed to wear something suitable. A classic sheath dress, in my opinion, is the ideal silhouette for looking professional at a meeting. The fact that it had no sleeves would also enable me to layer up with a cardigan—not only one more potential source of thematic twists, but also something that I could jettison easily mid-day. Since I tend to get hot while public speaking, and the climate in our conference room is notoriously fickle, it would be a good day to come prepared for a wide range of thermal possibilities.

Unfortunately, my cardigan collection, while it now takes up a full fourth of my huge wardrobe, was entirely lacking in twisty things. I had to get creative with one of my waterfall cardigans, folding the front portion around to just under the armpit twice and sewing it in place. This not only produced the requisite twist, but also made the sweater look more appropriately sized for my body.

With two twists in my look, I could have called it quits, but I still had more ideas! I donned a pair of tiny gold twisted wreath earrings (Style Tip One of my many rules of dressing for meetings is to not wear any jewelry that will jiggle around your face distractingly while you're talking, so I had to forgo my signature giant dangle earrings and stick to the basics today), and, last but not least, clipped up my hair in two side twists.

There's so much blur, you can't really see the detail in the earrings,
but trust me; the twist is there!
Why I chose such a high-maintenance 'do when I knew I was going to spend 2 hours in the public eye with no chance to adjust it, I'll never know, but I got compliments on both the style and the color, so I guess it didn't turn out too bad (even though I needed to correct it two times to get it presentable for my 10:00 training!)

I wasn't crazy about the black leggings and boots that finished off my look, but with such a short dress, plus highs in the low 40's, I wasn't about to leave my legs uncovered. At least I can say that the boots kind of represent a twist with their lace-up detail. You can't have laces without twisting them a little, right?

Monday, December 3, 2018


For the Monday of my fashion challenge this week, I had to wear an outfit that evoked "the moon." That was easy to take pretty literally, since I happen to have this brand new dress embroidered with an image of a fox contemplating the moon!

The dress is my birthday present to myself this year. Although I usually buy myself Birthday Shoes, this year when that special day rolled around, I still had two unworn pairs of Birthday Shoes from last year, so I felt it was time to take a break from footwear. Instead, I chose to gift myself some clothing, and the clothing I selected was The Fox and The Moon Embellished Cotton Knit Dress from eShakti. I was able to stack a couple discounts to get it relatively cheaply, so I decided to treat myself to custom sizing for an extra $9.95. 
The thought! Having a long-sleeved dress that actually accommodates my oversized shoulders! I was pumped! I sent them my measurements and got the dress in a few weeks, and then dutifully squirreled it away for the arrival of cold weather.

I have to say that I'm not sure the custom sizing was worth the price. My shape is pretty close to standard in every respect but the shoulders, but even after giving them my measurements, my shoulders stick out into the sleeves farther than the model's do.

The fit on the model
The fit on me after customization

Ongoing problems with my enormous shoulders notwithstanding, I am otherwise happy with the dress. For my $9.95 customization fee, I was able to request a wider neckline, which always does help minimize my shoulders a little, so I guess I shouldn't complain. The dress is warm and comfy and well made, and super cute!

For "Moonday," I wore it for the first time, pairing it with some star earrings (I tried moon earrings, but then decided one moon was enough) and the same light brown boots I wore the last time I had a fox on my clothes. Some things never change!

Sunday, December 2, 2018


These dark days just before the official beginning of winter always fill my heart with sadness...but they also inspire me to work extra-hard to cheer myself up...sometimes resulting in an exciting fashion challenge!

This time around, the challenge is thus: to come up with an outfit to represent each day of the week—like those days-of-the-week-themed socks / underwear you had as a kid (you did have some, right?) but with a literary twist. Since wearing clothes emblazoned with the days of the week wouldn't be much of a challenge (and would probably read a little juvenile, even for my taste), I'm taking a more subtle route and injecting my fashion challenge with some good old wordplay. Each day, I'll wear an outfit that represents the calendar day, but with the word altered just enough to make it fun!

So today, Sunday, becomes "Sewnday"—a day to wear something I've sewn!

That something is a tunic which has its own rather convoluted story to tell. It started out as a black dress which I got in one of my earliest orders. When it arrived, I found that one of the sleeves was torn halfway around the wrist (you can even see it in the picture!), so they refunded me and let me keep the dress! I cut off both sleeves at the same length so they would match up, and it helped, but more was still needed.

The skirt had that goofy low-high shape I dislike so much, so I opted to cut the front in a reversed curve—to make it into a high-low shape where the center was the highest part. I made the mistake of not measuring first, and I ended up cutting it a little too short. I couldn't wear it with leggings as I'd planned. Some people are OK with putting their crotch on display, but I am not!

So next, I used a roll of black lace I had purchased specifically for cases like this to get the skirt to a decent length. Unfortunately, the cheap polyester lace was very stiff, so it looked silly, and clung to my leggings like glue, causing the skirt to bunch up with every step.

I removed the lace and let the skirt rest all summer, trying to think of alternative strategies for lengthening the skirt at the front.

Somewhere, possibly Refashion co-op, I had once seen a pretty neat trick wherein a square piece of fabric was inserted into a side seam to add some length, volume, and allover flowiness to a top.

I could do that with this tunic, adding a panel like that to the front to make it more modest and more flashy at the same time.

But what to use for the panel? I had a scarf I'd been trying to sell for a while on eBay with no success. It was a huge satiny square with a motif of pink and blue chains and Chanel logos and...leashes? I wasn't sure what straps and chains were supposed to be, only that I wasn't a huge fan (not a big lover of logomania, me). I have to assume the scarf was a knockoff, given its cheap polyester feel and failure to sell, but if it wasn't, I just sliced up a valuable brand-name item to make into a tacky dress! Call me a rebel.

I ripped out the side seams  of the dress to one-half the width of the scarf. Then I pinned the whole scarf into the gap, just to check that I liked the look. It was a go!

From there, it was just a matter of cutting the scarf into quarters (gasp! The point of no return!) and sewing them into place on the dress (harder than it sounds, figuring out how to get the right sides all facing out!)

The next scary part was cutting up the center of the front to make the home for the final scarf panel. I measured it out to start at the same height as the other two side panels. Because the skirt was shorter in front, this meant that the front slit was shorter than the side ones...which meant the scarf piece didn't fit exactly as the others had.

I positioned it multiple times before I got the bottom edges to line up (I was using No-Sew glue to baste it in place, which was immensely helpful!)

The next part was cleanup. All of the panels had a tiny gap at the top point, which I had to sew shut. The front panel, because it was shorter, also had some excess scarf fabric hiding out at the top, which required sewing down so it didn't reverse itself and pooch out at the front. I also zigzag-stitched over the raw edges of the scarf panels to keep the very fragile fabric from fraying.

I wasn't really happy with the way the front panel lay – it tended to collapse to the inside of the dress – so I tacked it down a few inches from each side seam. It only took a few stitches, but it effectively held the scarf on the outside where it belonged.
I finished the dress yesterday afternoon—just in time for the planned first day of my newest fashion challenge!

Fortunately, my boyfriend and I actually had somewhere to go today (some Sundays, I don't even leave the house!), so my scarf dress got to see some action. Not much, because the restaurant we had lunch at was so cold, I kept my coat on the whole time. But enough.

And, just to make this blog post longer than it is already, I have to mention that the boots I wore with the dress are one of my favorite recent purchases! I almost didn't buy them (because they were grey, and I already had grey boots), but I'm so glad I did. They have low heels, so they are eminently practical to walk in, but they also have gems embedded in them!

The first time I wore these boots, I got so many compliments, I knew I'd made the right decision. Sometimes, blingy neutrals are better than brights!