Saturday, August 31, 2019

The wild frontier

I wasn't intending to wear shorts at work again—a special occasion once a year seemed quite sufficient to me.

But I ordered some shorts online to be worn with tank tops in my summer off-duty uniform, and when they arrived, I found that reality was much different from expectation. I had thought I was ordering some high-waisted chocolate brown short-shorts that would look cute with crop tops and fun, breezy tanks. What I got were some roomy, pleated, cuffed tan shorts with a microscopic black houndstooth pattern—far too stuffy for what I had intended! Such are the hazards of shopping online.

I thought about returning them, but then I got to thinking: What if I wore them at work? The fabric and style essentially made this garment a truncated version of the most conservative slacks out there. If any shorts were to be deemed office-appropriate, it would be brown pleated-front houndstooth shorts with a cuffed hem! I kept them.

And that's how it became my mission to wear shorts to work for the second time in one summer—this time with the shortest shorts I've ever attempted! With a 2-and-a-half-inch inseam, these babies (while modest compared to the daisy dukes I wear on weekends) would definitely be taking me to a new frontier in office hemline standards!

Speaking of frontier, it's only appropriate that my adventurous ensemble had a bit of Western flair.

I started with a gem-studded saguaro cactus necklace. It was the only touch of color I wanted in this outfit; in order to make these skimpy pants blend in in an office environment, I otherwise stuck to conservative staples such as shades of beige and a traditional collared shirt.

The green necklace caused me to pick a greenish (though still mostly neutral) cardigan as my top layer, and the greenish cardigan just happens to be trimmed with a sort of Western-looking fringe. Although I was originally planning to wear a pair of flat sandals, the overall country feel of the rest of my outfit inspired me to switch to boots—a smart choice both for the overall visual effect and for the comfort of my tootsies in the chilly office.

I wore my bold new look on Friday Funday—the best day of the week to attempt daring sartorial feats. I received neither compliments nor censures on my unconventional bottoms, so I like to believe that means they slipped by completely unnoticed, and I'm cleared to wear shorts at the office again!

Next summer, be ready for workplace shorts in every color!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Office Birthday Party

Sunday night, I laid out some brown, black, and white clothing for work today, and, feeling content with the subdued but sophisticated outfit I had planned, put myself to bed.

Moments later, I jumped out of it. What was I thinking!? Monday was my birthday! Even if all I had planned was to go to work, I had to bust out some colors!

As I went to my closet for a re-do, I was disappointed to find that most of my clothes have already been worn at least once, so I couldn't do a fabulous first appearance. But I could do a splendid second, and so I found myself gravitating toward these pink ultra-wide-leg pants that I've only worn once before.

I'm pretty fond of them. The eyelets make them delightfully breezy on a hot summer day, and the generous leg opening makes them almost skirt-like in appearance—a fitting look for a celebratory day.

In keeping with my celebratory mood, I paired the pants with a sparkly sequin-embroidered top; and to balance the black, which stood out sharply from the pants, I wore black sandals.

I even invited my hair to the party, trying to coax some texture into it by means of overnight braiding. It was only marginally successful, but I think I'll try it again.

All told, I'm happy with my festive birthday ensemble. I worked in just enough color and shimmer and novelty to satisfy my need to make my birthday special, while still managing to put in a respectable showing at the office.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

How to take in a skirt in 20 seconds

I'm a huge fan of quick and dirty alterations, and it doesn't get any quicker than this one!

Of course, figuring out how to do it in the first place took a little trial and error, but once I got there, I learned a reliable technique for taking in a skirt at the waist, in 20 seconds. Really!

The skirt that I had to work with was a midi-length peasant skirt with a sheer layer and a liner. I tried taking it in my usual way, by just sewing parallel to an existing seam, but the liner kept getting in the way. And when I figured out how to take that pesky piece out of the equation, I found that my seam invariably got deformed thanks to all the tiers and gathers I was having to sew through.

Finally I decided a seam wasn't the right solution at all—instead, I needed to just add more gathers in strategic places! I bunched up the waistband in two places, tacked it closed, and I was done!

Here's a step-by-step tutorial:

1. Start by making sure you're using the right raw materials. This technique only works on a specific kind of skirt: a loose and flowy one with lots of fabric and lots of gathers.

2. Measure how much width you need to remove from the waist. Divide that number by the number of gathers you want to make. I made two gathers, one on each side of the back. About an inch of fabric per gather seems to work well; any more than that, and the fabric might start to pucker and bulge when worn. So if you need to remove more than about two inches of waistband, you may have to add more gathers.

3. Mark the center of each gather so that they are symmetrically spaced, then pinch the fabric around the center point. Each of my gathers needed to remove about 1 inch of width, so I pinched 1/2-inch away from the center point on each side. Right sides should be together!
4. Sew down where you pinched, the entire width of the waistband. Because my waistband was so narrow, I just started at the bottom edge, reversed to the top, and then sewed back down to the bottom to secure the stitching.

Oops, my gathers aren't positioned quite symmetrically!
And you're done! Maybe I exaggerate the simplicity a little (measuring and math can be a bear!), but at 10 seconds of actual sewing per gather, you can say that's only 20 seconds of work!

When finished, the gathers at the waistband just blend into all the other gathers forming the skirt, so they fit right in. Cover them with a shirt, and suddenly they're not noticeable at all! 
While the extra fabric does cause some slight bulging, it's in such a place that it just enhances my butt, and bigger butts are trendy right now, so that's a win in my book!  Not bad for a quick and dirty!

Now with my skirt riding high, I can wear it with all the extra-short vintage (turn of the millennium) tops I've been accumulating! 
With this particular skirt and top combo, I was feeling a little too blue, so I paired the outfit with some pink sandals, just for a change of color.