Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bring me a higher waist

I came of age around the turn of the millennium—in other words, the era of ultra-low-rise pants. At the time, I was new to fashion and embraced the trend with all the enthusiasm of someone who had never known anything else. But I never really understood it. I was frustrated by the fit of low-rise pants, trying valiantly to keep mine on the up and up with a succession of well-used belts (I only owned one belt at time in those pre-Unfashionista days) and always choosing oversized shirts to shrink the gap caused by an very low waistband.

When the tops of bottoms finally started to ascend after a decade, I embraced that trend with all the enthusiasm of someone who had never realized it was an option. Now, with several years of increasingly higher waists behind us, I've reached the point where I absolutely refuse to wear anything that doesn't rest solidly above my pelvis and stay there without a belt. Too low of a rise has become one of my top reasons for returning pants I buy online; but this particular pair was low-rise and not returnable, so I had to do something drastic.

When I was finally brave enough to risk ruining the pants forever (nearly 5 months after their purchase in October), I took them apart so I could reassemble them into a style more to my liking.

First, I picked apart the waistband with my seam ripper. The belt loops were removed, the button snipped out (I tried to take it apart to damage the fabric less, but nothing doing), the buttonholes unstitched—in order to get the inner layer separated from the outer layer, everything else had to go!

Once the waistband was completely removed, I put it all back together in a single layer twice as high.

I used zigazg stitching for maximum stretch, which unfortunately was too loose and can be easily seen from the outside when the material is taut—I'm not sure what else I could have done except maybe a stretch straight stitch, which my machine does, but which takes forever.

What I did was go over my original stitching with another layer in less visible yellow thread. I also tried to better position the seam to hide the original serging, which had been peeking out in places after my first run.
The pants were stretchy enough that a button and zipper closure were not really necessary, so I decided not to replace either of those. Instead, I cut out the zipper, sewed the placket shut, and finished the waistband for pull-on ease!

Without the original double layers to give it support, the waistband was now very flimsy and unstructured. I decided to buttress it with a backing of elastic, which I had salvaged from some other pair of pants sometime in the past.

The elastic served to cover up a lot of the raw edges, but there were still several seams left exposed. I tried to mitigate those with a combination of pinking and zigzag overlocking.

Where the button and buttonhole used to be, I was left with several unsightly holes. I stitched over them in a haphazard way to close them, but I also had to cover their scars.

Since I knew I was never going to wear these stretchy jeggings with a belt, I set three of the old belt loops in a row on the front, to hide the holes and add a little bit of pizzazz to the waistband. They're slightly off-center, but in spite of that, they're my favorite feature of the new pants!

I ended up completely covering up the belt-loop trim in the pants' inaugural outfit, but I'm just lucky I got to wear them at all! The weather is warming up here in Maryland, so soon pants season will be over. Fortunately for these pants, winter hasn't given up the ghost yet. On a cold and rainy Thursday, I put on the pants for a pick-me-up—sunny colors for a sunless day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Stay-at-home mom jeans

It had to happen sometime. After a month and a half of working from home, I finally ventured into denim territory.

I've been very firm in my adherence to soft clothes during the extent of my quarantine—I've basically lived in stretch leggings, flowy wide-leg trousers, and the occasional skirt. But not only am I bored sick of those options (side note: this fall, I was just beginning a love affair with leggings and tunics, never imagining that they'd be my uniform for the entirety of April. The affair was probably the most short-lived of all my fashion fixations. Now if I never have to wear another tunic, I think I'll do a jig), but they're also very limited in their pairing potential.

Leggings can only be worn with tops that cover my crotch; wide-leg pants can only be worn with short, tight shirts (I mean, unless you want to appear slovenly, which you're certainly entitled to do while sheltering in place, but it's not my first choice of look). If you want to wear a moderately fitted and mid-length top, neither of those options are a great choice. If said top happens to be red-and-white striped, your options are even fewer, because there aren't many colors or patterns that won't clash. The best option by far is blue jeans.

But what about the lack of flexibility? The pinching and constricting and all the other downsides to wearing denim? Was I willing to take on those hazards? Yes, with the greatest compromise ever: mom jeans!

Mom jeans: what are they? Generally high-waisted, roomy pants with plenty of room for child-bearing hips, famous for their popularity among busy mothers who can't be bothered with fashion. To contrast them from "boyfriend jeans," which are straight-legged and baggy all around, mom jeans tend to be tapered toward the bottom to emphasize a more feminine figure. Most importantly, they have a relaxed fit, perfect for retaining the leg mobility I prize so much in my WFH outfits.

This is my first pair of mom jeans, and the first time I've worn them in this blog. I'm a little late to the party (who's surprised?). Mom jeans first took off around 2014, much to my initial dislike. They fast became a favorite among fashion bloggers, but it took several years before they really went mainstream, or before I was willing to invest in a pair. I finally decided to try and bring some into my collection early last year.

These mom jeans are the real thing—purchased at the thrift store at my "I'm not sure if I'll ever wear it, so I'm not paying more than 4 dollars for it" price point, and proudly bearing the Sonoma brand name. No high-street knockoffs for me!

I never found many occasions to wear them. When I did, I always felt frumpy and not at all like the trend-setting fashionista I wanted to be. Eventually I realized it was because the cut was wrong. At the time, above-the-ankle was the only fit worth sporting, and these jeans reached as far as my foot. I tried cuffing them, but they still didn't look right, so eventually I cut a few inches off the bottom, leaving what I hoped was an edgy raw edge. Just in time for hemlines to start creeping downwards, I'll have you know—I'll always be behind the curve!

Though I don't think mom jeans will ever be my first choice of legwear, I do think they work with this outfit. The top is new to me, and I couldn't love it more (it's almost a fair substitute for the much-missed black-and-white top that even its replacement could never quite match); the Chinese slippers are the ideal addition to the outfit, perfectly comfy indoor shoes, and yet another first wear since quarantine times.

After a whole day of wearing the mom jeans, I feel neither confined nor constrained nor uncomfortable (I'm sure the added Spandex helps). Sure, they're not as loungey as leggings, but the freedom of having a whole new silhouette to explore almost makes up for it. I'd consider these again for another day at the home office.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hood to Hemline - A refashion

I bought this unicorn hoodie last summer from Rainbow, when I was actively building the collection of lounge clothes that's becoming so handy in these stay-at-home days. It was on clearance—3 dollars, I think?

I must have decided it was too cheap to try on, because I didn't notice until I brought it out of storage in the fall that it was missing its waistband! Raw edges are no dealbreaker for me, but this shirt was awkwardly short without a bottom band. Something needed to be done.

Some deliberation later, I had decided to use the hood to extend the hemline. I never wear the hoods on my hoodies anyway, so...Off with her hood!

I turned the raw edges inside and stitched them down (they're still raw for the most part, just out of the way!) but I forgot to take a close-up of that part.

The hood, I picked apart stitch by stitch (I wanted to salvage as much fabric as possible, so no cutting!), finally ending up with these two pieces.

After accounting for the unusable curved edges, I found I had enough fabric to cut four rectangles that would cover the shirt's circumference if they were sewn end to end.

I attached them to the bottom of the shirt...

...Then folded them under for a neat hem.

The inside doesn't look so neat, but that is typical of my work. At least I took the time to zigzag-stitch over the seam to minimize future fraying.

Since the sweatshirt was destined to be a "house shirt," I modeled the finished product lounging on my bed (with my house shoes again)!

However, the day that I wore it, I also made a rare trip to go shopping (for essentials, of course!), which meant I got to wear it with jeans. I never thought of jeans as a treat, but I haven't touched my denim since early March, so I felt pretty excited about wearing them. I even busted out some sparkly earrings for the occasion!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Three more for Week Four


In my last fashion haul before coronavirus made trend-watching irrelevant, my mission was to acquire a full-length or midi-length cardigan, which I'd heard were making a resurgence. I loved them the first time around, but as is the case with most fashions, I never quite got one of my own.

Well, now I have one, just in time to never be able to wear it anywhere! Fortunately, long sweaters make great loungewear, so I paired it with some graphic leggings and a tank top for my Tuesday WFH outfit. I even pinned the top closed with a brooch—about the most effortful use of jewelry I've attempted since the start of quarantining.


I haven't ever worn this sweater at work because I prefer to take full advantage of its lace-up sides. While I can close them tightly for a modest and office-appropriate appearance, I love them best when they're wild and undone. I wore a burgundy tank and matching leggings underneath, the dark colors of which contrasted delightfully through the openings in the sweater. I am running low on shoes that I haven't yet worn for quarantine, but I haven't run out! These off-white ones are one of the remaining holdouts.


Friday is casual day, and that means screen prints! I'm not opposed to graphic prints at the office generally, especially if they're traditional designs like flowers, but I'd typically save a big bold image like this one for a Friday—and I probably wouldn't wear this particular one at the office at all, owing to its extreme tightness. But it's fair game for working from home, and exactly what I needed to pick me up on this last day of this very long week (time seems to drag on unbearably when I never leave the house!). I paired the print with some fortuitously coordinated green leggings, and – the icing on the cake – leg warmers! I haven't touched my leg warmers in two years, but when I saw them in my drawer next to the leggings, I knew the time was right to bring them back!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Three for Week Three

This week, since it seems like teleworking is going to be my life for at least the next month, I decided to make getting dressed a little easier.

I divided my closet into two sections: clothes I'm likely to wear at home, and clothes I'm not. Here are 3 outfits that made it into the first category.


As I learned last week, a dress can seem a little too try-hard for teleworking, so I was suspicious that a skirt would work any better. But Tuesday was National No Housework Day, and I decided a fussy outfit would be the perfect thing to prevent me from accidentally starting to clean something.

It worked! I did no housework that day, and I also did not feel too overdressed. I think the secret to wearing dresses and skirts while maintaining a casual vibe is to stick to boho, earthy styles.


On Wednesday I dressed for the weather, which was supposed to top 70 degrees. That meant the second of the two tank tops I reserved for layering only, with a cardigan over it.

I was planning a lunchtime bike ride to run an errand, so I thought  the cropped pants would save me from having to change my outfit.

What I neglected to consider was that after returning, I was sweaty and in need of a shower, and felt compelled to change my clothes in case they had picked up any germs while I was out.

So another lesson learned: Don't bother trying to make your work-from-home clothes also work in the real world. You're going to have to change out of them anyway.


It's hard to find comfy knit pants that aren't also super tight and clingy, but these red and black ones make the cut! That means I can wear them with a shorter top (I'm getting mighty tired of leggings with tunics, which were my other two outfits this week!).

I covered my perfectly coordinated burgundy tank top with a black cardigan, and I've never felt more stylish yet comfortable!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Yay, more teleworking outfits!

If there's one thing I've learned from being a hermit for over 3 weeks, it's that I have a more substantial collection of loungewear than I ever thought possible.

Once I expanded the definition from "sweatpants and T-shirts" to include leggings and tunics, stretchier and wide-leg trousers, and casual dresses, almost everything in my closet became "house clothes."

There are a few things I haven't worn and probably won't (jeans, I'm looking at you!) and a few things I've tried that I probably won't again, but mainly I am coming to realize that I've been prepping for this disaster (at least sartorially) for most of the past few years.

Here's the culmination of all that work, in four of the five outfits I wore this week (Wednesday was more leggings and dress—been there, done that).


Last week, when I finally got off my leggings kick on Friday, I'd been planning to wear these khakis (pretty much my only pair of wide-leg work pants that doesn't require high heels), but I realized that would have been 3 days in a row of near-white pants! Unacceptable! I saved them for Monday and was pleased to find yet another pair of ballet flats to wear with them and the olive green sweater.


I always thought this pink polo shirt would be great for the office, but as it turned out, the length never worked with either skirts or looser pants, so it's got minimal use. But, it was the perfect topper for a pair of leggings! Finally I got to wear it for work!


The bathrobe-looking wrap dress seemed like the perfect outfit for a home office, but I soon learned otherwise. In order to stay warm enough, I had to pair it with over-the-knee socks, which were constantly sliding down all day. I felt overdressed and, in fact, this was the only outfit thus far that hasn't survived an entire day. I gave up around 3pm and changed into yoga pants and a T-shirt. I'm thinking I might save the dresses either for summer, or whenever I get back to working in an office, whatever comes first.


The National Day Calendar informed me that today was "National Find a Rainbow Day," so I had to oblige.

I put on a rainbow sweater (and my stretchy navy blue cigarette pants) and "found" a rainbow behind a couple of mattresses. How ever did that get there? The house shoes today were a fun (albeit not particularly on-theme) reprisal of my llama shoes!