30 April 2010

Link-tastic! 30 April 2010

Last time I thought I had set a post to auto-publish, I hadn't. Let's see if I got it right this time!

I have lots and lots of fascinating links for you this week, Fabulous Readers...

The Fashionable Academics want to know about your tattoos. I haven't talked about it (and it hasn't been warm enough since I started this blog to show it off), but I have a small tattoo between my shoulderblades, and am trying to figure out another one - or maybe more. I'm fascinated by the history, traditions, and varying social significances of tattoos, and think that well-thought-out, well-executed tattoo art is incredibly beautiful.

Looking for fashion and costuming resources online? Here's a pretty comprehensive list. As with any reference, be sure to check your sources: for example, one of the sites listed is a digital version of Braun and Schneider's The History of Costume, a 19th-century compendium that is an interesting historical artifact in and of itself, but is considered by modern fashion historians to be a pretty questionable source for the costumes it represents.

Speaking of fashion history, check out a brief blurb on the background of the French sailor's shirt (aka Breton stripe shirt)...

...and some lovely mauve. Did you know that mauve was the first synthetic dye to be developed and was immensely popular for both genders in the mid-1800s, then saw a second surge in popularity in the early 1900s as the signature hue of fashion designer Lucile, the woman who originated the phrase "It Girl"?

We always think of thrifting as a way to create a style different from the current fashion, but there's a level of discernment, sorting, and one might almost say curatorship that goes on between the donation/discarding of clothes by their original owner and their availability to secondhand consumers.

S. from academichic gets uncomfortable about the appearance of cultural appropriation. I'm in almost the exact opposite situation she's in - if I 'borrow' looks from other cultures it's pretty obvious that I'm not a member of the culture in question - but I still understand her unease. Cultural appropriation is a concept that's been on my radar a lot recently, and my thoughts are still percolating about it.

Gertie looks at the connections between home sewing and feminism.

Jacquard looms are big, expensive, and precursors to the earliest computers, so it's appropriate that there's a company out there trying to create an open source build-your-own loom project.

28 April 2010

Boots and skinnies at last!

I've always been a little envious of the girls who can easily tuck their skinny jeans into their boot tops. I have Calves Of Size, and getting calf-high boots to fit over a pair of hose is usually touch-and-go - forget about adding something as bulky as jeans.

However, my beloved Fluevog Inges have a rather wide shaft and hit below the widest part of the calf. So I figured I'd give them a shot with my new, home-pegged skinnies.

Skinny jeans tucked into Fluevog boots

Hey, it worked! Although I think I need to tailor in the legs on those jeans a tiny bit more...

Oh, you want to see what else I wore? Oh, yeah. Sorry 'bout that.

today's outfit, WIWT, skinnies, boots, Velvet top, rib-knit tank, Design History cardigan, studded belt
Brown rib-knit tank: Old Navy, thrifted
Pink ruched-shoulder tee: velvet, Marshall's
Yellow studded belt: thrifted
Beaded cardigan: Design History, TJMaxx, remixed
Skinnies: Victoria's Secret, pegged by me, remixed

scarf in hair, citrine toggle necklace
Citrine toggle necklace: street fair vendor at FIT, remixed
Floral scarf (worn in hair): gift from Mom 

The combination of the pink tee and yellow belt was inspired by a neighbor's plantings, a flowering plum tree and forsythia in close proximity. The deep pink and bright yellow were such a visually stunning combination that I wanted to duplicate it. I wish I had a bright green cardigan or jacket to pair with them and complete the nature-inspired color scheme. The purpley-bluey cardigan was definitely more a choice of necessity (darn, it's cold!) than a deliberate addition to the outfit.

scarf, cardigan, top
However, once I had it on, adding the scarf, with its matching border and highlights of pink in the pattern, was a no-brainer. When I first got my hair cut in this style, Fabulous Reader Dina suggested I try a ponytail with a scarf tied around it, like Audrey Hepburn. My hair is finally long enough to actually put into a stubby little ponytail, so I figured I'd try it - and I like it lots! Thanks, Dina!

Apologies for the blurriness of the photos. Fabulous Husband was unavailable to take pictures of me today, so I was on my own with the camera and the tripod. Jen Kiaba keeps telling me I have to get a camera remote: today's photos prove her right.

Oh, and I keep forgetting to post updates on my shopping ban (or, as Fabulous Husband calls it, moratorium. Fond as I am of Latinate verbiage, I like the final, non-negotiable sound of "ban.") I've been doing a pretty good job of sticking to it. I had one small hitch: a yarn store in my area recently closed, and the prospect of half-price alpaca yarn was a bit more than I could take. As far as I'm concerned, $40 for six skeins of high-quality yarn is an acceptable lapse.

Other than that, though, I haven't bought anything for myself in two weeks - no clothes, no shoes, no jewelry, no raw materials. I'm not saying it's been easy: there have been times when I've been feeling down and wanted desperately to go to Goodwill, TJMaxx, or a local antique store and find something pretty. I'm amazed at how much extra time I have now that I'm keeping myself away from e-tail sites (out of sight, out of mind, right? Or should that be 'site?').

I'm also intrigued by the difference in the way I'm approaching my wardrobe. Because I mostly shop at thrift stores, I've always had a somewhat chaotic, catch-as-catch-can approach to my wardrobe: I find things that appeal to me, then try to find ways to integrate them into my wardrobe. Now that I can't randomly add new pieces, I'm taking a deeper look at what I own and where the holes are. I've already decided that I want more in the way of floaty floral dresses, lace (I am head-over-heels for Queen Michelle's all-lace look),  more yellow, a lime or leaf green cardigan (or jacket), light-colored summer boots, a pair of Kork-Ease wedges... in addition to whatever Fluevogs I end up with, if any, on International Fluevog Day. Which was the inspiration for this ban, anyway.

Where are the holes in your wardrobe? What are its strong points? Are there looks you love, but have trouble figuring out how to make work on your body?

27 April 2010

Pattern madness

Up until recently, I was terrified of wearing patterns at all, let alone several in combination.

today's outfit, WIWT, Target flowered chemise, Theory tank, skirt, Fluevog shoes, Sock Dreams OTKs, trench coat
Floral chemise: Liberty of London for Target, remixed 
Pink layering tank: Theory, thrifted, remixed
Polka-dot skirt: Ann Taylor Loft
White-and-gold belt: thrifted, remixed
White trench: Daisy Fuentes, thrifted, remixed
OTK socks (cuffed): Sock Dreams "O Chevrons" (discontinued color)
Beige platform shoes: John Fluevog "Pin-ups" (style unknown), remixed
Bronze flower necklace, thrifted, remixed
Bronze and green medallion earrings, gift
Silk scarf (worn as headband): gift from mom

You'd never guess it to look at me today, huh?

In fashion as in many other things in life, I've learned to ignore fear. It can be crippling. I was terrified to blog - afraid I'd meet with derision, that I'd be completely ignored, that crazy Internet stalkers would come out of the woodwork and make my life hell.

Needless to say, none of that has happened. I love every one of you, Fabulous Readers, and I deeply appreciate the wonderful comments you leave - they make me think and they make me feel like I'm part of a community.

closeup, scarf in hair

The only times I've ever gotten anywhere in life are when I've gone out on a limb, swallowed my fear, and taken a metaphorical leap off a cliff. It's scary to walk up to a perfect stranger at all, let alone ask him or her for a favor - but that's how I ended up interning at DC comics while I was doing my BA degree. I saw a guy in a coffee shop wearing a jacket with the DC logo on the back, went up to him, and asked him if he worked for the company. My heart was in my mouth the whole time.

Much to my surprise, he didn't throw his coffee in my face, complain to the manager, or give me a funny look and walk away. We had a nice little chat, and I walked away with a piece of paper scribbled with a name and phone number for a contact in the editorial department. Man, was that a fun semester!

trench and patterned outfit, pattern matching

 This outfit is the same way. There's a lot going on: five or six different patterns, a lot of colors, and some pretty unusual shapes. If I'd played it safe, I'd wear maybe one patterned item at a time - maybe two at the most. But I threw caution to the wind, and I think it turned out pretty OK.

I keep wearing this white trench with the Liberty of London florals, even though I don't like how stoop-shouldered it makes me look (darn raglan seams!). I think I like the clarity of the white in contrast with the busy, intensely colorful prints.

cute socks with sandals

I think the socks and sandals look particularly good together - I love the blue and beige combo, and the laciness of the socks with the solidity of the wedge heel!

What sorts of things do you have to feel bold and daring to wear? What's your "out on a limb" fashion?

26 April 2010

Faeries in the Bottom of my Garden

I have a confession to make, Fabulous Readers: I live a double life. Most of the time, I sport the slightly offbeat street style I've highlighted up until now. On weekends in the warmer months, though, I go off and play with the faeries!

I've featured a few pieces - mostly hand-dyed silk tank tops - from my friends David and Dorita, the immensely talented artists of Reyen Design Studios. Those aren't their signature product by any means, and barely highlight their incredible artistry. I'm lucky enough that they invite Fabulous Husband and me to attend various faerie-themed festivals with them. The first of this season is this weekend: the May Day Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm.

Faerie culture (no relation, by the way, to Fairy Kei, a pastel-hued 80s-inspired Japanese street style) means different things to different people. Some are inspired by books, movies, and art by creators like Jim Henson, Brian Froud, Amy Brown, and Charles de Lint; others are looking for a mystical, creative earth-based spirituality; some just like creating and wearing fantastic costumes, which often feature nature-inspired motifs, flowing, asymmetric cuts, and animal elements - up to and including prosthetic horns, wings, and tails.

There's a semi-serious side to all of this: it isn't just people wandering around in funny outfits. Environmentalism is a major concern (Spoutwood Farm is an organic CSA and ecology education center), and the gatherings attract - and support- a wide and varied array of independent artists, from textile artists to painters to jewelers to woodcarvers to soapmakers to musicians.

All of this is inspired by the various faerie myths that occur around the world. Every culture has its legends of spirits that live in wild places. We're not just talking Tinkerbell, either: pick up a copy of the original Brothers Grim fairy tales or Andrew Lang's fairy books if you want a hint of how terrifying faeries can be!

As a social theorist and fashion historian, I'm very interested in these festivals and people's attraction to them. Why faeries? And why portray them in the many and varied ways in which participants dress? Unlike re-enactment societies, there's no attempt to recapture a previous era: it's pure fantasy, albeit fantasy strongly informed by myth. Perhaps it's a yearning to escape the impersonal and mechanistic nature of modern society, to re-connect with the natural world? What is the significance of the sometimes over-the-top costumes?

There is, if not a full doctoral dissertation, at least a solid MA thesis in there for an interested student of modern alternative subcultures.

We're leaving Thursday, and will be incommunicado from that point until the end of the weekend. I know form prior experience that there is no such thing as a wireless connection in this particular faerieland! I will, however, try my hardest to get pictures of the weekend to post next week (Yeah, we know how well that worked last time, right?).

Until then, here's a few shots of me from a festival last year, for a visual point of reference:
faerie fashion, silkcloque halter, hair falls

faerie dancing
Silkcloque halter top, Reyen Design Studios
Dichroic glass tree pendant: Jenn Feldman Glass, remixed
Hair falls, self-made
photos courtesy of Doug Greene of Greene Lady Music

I'm more than happy to answer any and all questions left in the comments. For more pictures of faerie fashion, check out past years' slide shows from Spoutwood and Faerieworlds.

23 April 2010

Link-tastic! 23 April 2010

I'm participating in Haute Macabre's Giant Ridiculous Clothing Swap. It seems like a fun way to pass on some awesome items I'm not wearing any more to a new loving home - and hopefully get something unexpected and terrific in return!

Jessica from What I Wore has some great tips for dressing for business meetings as a creative professional.

How to choose accessories that flatter your figure, particularly belts.

For Earth Day, Cheap Jap muses on wasted resources - in her closet. Are you using your wardrobe efficiently?

If there are unloved items in your closet, think about ways you can extend their usefulness by tailoring, embellishing, dyeing, or simply re-imagining them.

A little bit of history of florals, shawls, and European/Asian trade, inspired by an Antropologie top.

Good news I'm not a lawyer: I think I'd scandalize the Chicago Bar Association. All kidding aside, I'm really disturbed by the attitudes, particularly toward women, espoused in the "fashion" "advice" in question. Why does professionalism for women always seem to involve an outright denial of anything feminine or sexual? Why are women urged to hide signs of prosperity (large engagement rings, designer bags), when I see no equivalent "ditch the Patek Phillipe for the job interview" advice for men?

It's all about how much you want to stand out, isn't it? If you're looking for ways to express your individual sense of style, Sal has some great tips.

Have a wonderful weekend, Fabulous Readers!

21 April 2010

The Cure for a Bad Mood

Something I read online today made me very grouchy, so I decided I needed to cheer myself up with a fun outfit.
today's outfit, WIWT, shirtdress, crinoline, John Fluevog shoes
Brown shirtdress, Ann Taylor Loft
Hand-dyed silk tank, Reyen Design Studios
Belt, thrifted
Crinoline, thrifted
Shoes, John Fluevog, "Mini: Qtee"

Closeup, buckle necklace, skull earrings
 Buckle necklace: estate sale
Tiny skull earrings: assembled myself: skull charms of uncertain origins
photos: Fabulous Husband

 Plus, after three days spent in grubby construction clothes, I wanted to wear something feminine. There's nothing wrong with my grubbies, and I love working with Fabulous Husband to build new things and maintain our 130-year-old house, but after a few days in the same raggedy, sawdust-crusted jeans, I'm ready for a change of pace.

For whatever reason, crinolines have always put me in a good mood. They're so fluffy and effervescent: it's very difficult to be cranky when wearing one!

More importantly, they're fun to move in:

swingy skirt

full skirt and daffodils

For you language historians out there, the term "frou-frou" actually originates from the long silk organza petticoats popular in the Edwardian era. It's an onomatopoeia: Frou-frou is the rustling sound a stiff silk petticoat makes when you walk in it. This shorter nylon one doesn't make the noise, but it does make my skirt amusingly voluminous. It's an unusual feeling, having the widest part on my body be somewhere around mid-calf level.

Part of the appeal of this outfit is its vintage styling. Fabulous Husband and I watched Julie and Julia last night (a wonderfully amusing movie - and that's coming from both of us). A few things struck me, especially about Julia Child. Firstly, despite the well-known repression and lack of opportunities available to women in the mid-20th century, there wasn't much that stood in her way from doing anything she damn well wanted to do - and doing so while wearing put-together ensembles, including heels and skirts. Forget the old chestnut about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels: Julia Child did everything her fellow (male) students did in, but skirts and heels. Anyone who's ever spent any amount of time in a restaurant kitchen knows how trying that could be!

Fluevog Mini Qtees, super comfy shoes
Well, unless they were these heels. These things feel like sneakers!

The other thing that struck me was Julia's unflagging optimism and good spirits. Did she get upset about things, angry, depressed? Absolutely. Everybody does. Instead of letting things that upset or angered her throw her, though, Julia reacted with good cheer and a make-the-best-of-it attitude. I don't know how true to life Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child was, but I got the distinct feeling that this was less a natural trait than a carefully cultivated determination to find the silver lining in any cloud, no matter how stormy.

That's an attitude I'm going to try to cultivate myself. Hence the crinoline.

Oh, and for those of you who were curious, the shoe rack progresses.

shoe rack, home built shoe storage system
This is prior to finishing: we put our shoes on it (No, those aren't all mine! Some of them belong to Fabulous Husband!) and put it in place on a trial run basis. It'll get a coat of golden oak stain, to match the rest of the room, and then several of spar varnish, for durability. It may not be the most elegant piece of furniture ever, but it's far superior to our previous heap-on-the-floor "storage" system.

What do you do to cheer yourself up when you get down? Does the way you're dressed help? Do you have some pieces of clothing that makes it impossible (or very difficult) to feel grouchy while you're wearing it?

19 April 2010

A construction project and a shopping ban

EarthNo outfit pictures today, Fabulous Readers. I spent all day in my grubby jeans, a beat-up tee, and steel-toed boots, a schmatteh on my head - not a pretty picture and nothing that needs to be recorded for posterity!


I've gotten tired of not having a storage solution for all my shoes.

Most of my shoes, Fluevogs, Earth shoes, Frye boots, London Underground boots, Converse

Man, that's a lot of shoes. I've never really laid them out in one place before, or counted them. Turns out I have 17(!) pairs of Fluevogs; boots from United Nude, Frye, Earth, Ecco, and Underground; shoes from Me Too and Tahari; and, of course, the canonic Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star hightops. Sad thing is, that's not all of them: I didn't bother putting my gym sneakers, Merrel mocs, Wellies, or flip-flops in the picture (I don't consider them to be real shoes!), and my Fluevog Summertime Haights are at the cobbler's getting a tune-up.

I've gotten really sick of having them underfoot, getting kicked around and damaged. Even if I assume an average value of $100 (which is a bit low... the Chucks might only have cost me $20 at TJMaxx, but a few of the 'Vogs were closer to $400), that picture represents approximately a $2500 investment, or, as I like to think about it, seven graduate-level credits, over 300 burritos at my favorite local Mexican joint, or an entire new wardrobe or two at Goodwill. I figure they're worth taking good care of.

I've never been able to find a shoe rack that I liked, so I recruited Fabulous Husband to help me build one. One trip to Lowe's, some quick-and-dirty education in the use of various power tools (Fabulous Husband was quite clear on the fact that this was my project and that would build it, although he was happy to offer assistance and much-needed advice), and a whole lot of sawdust later, I have the bones of what I hope will be an effective storage solution: a 45" tall, 4' wide, 5-shelf system that should not only hold everything pictured here but a few extras. It's clamped together in the garage now, and if everything goes according to plan, I should have an awesome custom shoe rack, stained to match the other pieces in that room, by the end of the week!

Part of the reason I'm working on this is that I've put myself under a month-long personal shopping ban (I actually started on 15 April, but somehow managed not to write about it until now). I could say it's to decrease my reliance on consumerism or to be more conscious of my spending habits - but no, really, it's because International Fluevog Day is 15 May, and I want to save my pennies for the big extravaganza that an inside source has promised will ensue. I'm allowing myself one holiday from the ban: Spoutwood Faerie Festival in Glen Rock, PA, which Fabulous Husband and I attend every year with our wonderful friends David and Dorita from Reyen Design Studios. It's a once-a-year opportunity, so I'm not going to hold myself to rules too tightly there. Other than that, I'm being strict: no clothes, no shoes, no bath and body products. Food's still OK. Stuff for the house is a subject for deep philosophical debate.

It's interesting, though - after just a few days, I'm amazed at how much time I'm not spending browsing online shopping sites (on the out of sight, out of mind theory), and at how much recreational value I usually derive from going shopping in various forms. I'll keep posting about my thoughts and feelings about this!

Oh, and apologies to everyone who gets posts through an RSS reader: this post published prematurely (I don't even know what I did!), so if there's something wonky in your feed, it's my fault, and I'm very sorry.

16 April 2010

Link-tastic! 16 April 2010

I just discovered Worn Through (I forget who linked to it, but whoever it was, thanks muchly!) and I'm fascinated. Just this week, there's been a great article on the history of women in trousers in America, another on flowers - real flowers, not prints - as clothing, and a roundup of recent journal articles in fashion studies that I can't wait to tear into.

The academichics continue their discussion of fashion and femininity in academia. I hope this series continues: I'm fascinated by the dialogue that develops among them.

Super Kawaii Mama's advice on prepping your wardrobe for winter isn't that timely for northern hemisphere readers, but it's something to keep in mind for later (and good advice from the perspective of putting our winter clothes into storage for the summer months!). Some of the advice could most likely be applied to summer clothes, too: I know that a pair or two of my sandals just went into the cobbler to prepare them for wear as it gets warmer.

An interesting article on body hair from the New York Times. A couple of things stand out for me here: one is the odd timing (why an article on unshaven stars at the Golden Globes now, when they happened in January? Is it that it's getting to be the time of year when more women start wearing skirts and shorts with bare legs, making depilating a more visible issue?). Another is the comments, which range from openly misogynistic to insightful.

The waves muses on style ideologies and What Not to Wear (with some really interesting reader comments).

What do you make of the "models as human clothes hangers" concept in haute couture? Sal's upset by it. While I see her point, I look at runway fashion the same way I look at concept cars: it's conceptual, not functional.

Dopey fashion poses - the original and the Lady Gaga version. Hilarious, and a wonderful reminder not to take fashion - or ourselves - too seriously.

Not wearable, but beautiful: concrete lace.  Wow.

Have a wonderful weekend, Fabulous Readers!

15 April 2010


I woke up this moring knowing that I wanted to wear these socks and shoes together:

Fluevog sandals and lacy socks
Shoes, John Fluevog "Summertime," style unknown, remixed
Socks, depths of the drawer

I didn't know what I wanted to wear with them, mind you, just that I wanted to experiment with this look. I'm usually not that fond of any sock shorter than knee-length, so these delicate little anklets are a standout in my sock drawer. I never wear them. So I figured that the last nice, sunny day for a while merited an opportunity for them to see the light of day.

I pulled out a flower-embroidered linen skirt, the background fabric the same color as the socks. I layered it over a black lacy skirt to keep it from looking too sweet. I put my favorite black lace-trimmed cardigan over my favorite pink long-sleeved tee. I tried three different belts. None of it worked!

In desperation, I pulled off the first skirt and tried this floral sheath dress instead. A-ha, now we were getting somewhere! I ditched the lacy underskirt (too much bulk under the slim dress), pulled the cardi back on, and realized I was developing a very late-Fifties/early Sixties look: sheath dress, cardigan, chunky heels. The pyramid studs on the shoes kept it from being too sweet, adding a little rock-and-roll flair.

What do you get when you mix midcentury styles with modern rock sensibilities? Rockabilly! Well, an interpretation of it, anyway.

I decided to play up the look, taking it almost-but-not-quite to the verge of costume with a wide headband, studded cinch belt, pearls, and petite frame purse:

today's outfit, WIWT, Liberty of London for Target sheath dress, lace cardigan, Betsey Johnson belt, pearls
Dress, Liberty of London for Target, remixed
Cardigan, Heart Moon Star, remixed
Belt, Betsey Johnson, TJMaxx, remixed
Pearls, gift from Fabulous Husband, remixed
Purse, Ann Taylor Loft
Headband, Sephora

I love that little bag. It's cute, surprisingly capacious, and oddly era-neutral. It works with this very midcentury ensemble, but I've also strung a few antique keys onto one handle (hanging over the bow) and worn it with Victorian-influenced steampunk outfits.

I kept the makeup in tune with the clothes: a relatively neutral palette, a strong winged eye, and pale, frosted lips. I know most rockabilly girls prefer va-va-voom reds, but for daywear, and an outfit more influenced by the late Fifties and early Sixties than the Forties and early Fifties, I thought the pink was a better fit.

midecentury-inspired makeup

Throughout the day, I found myself adapting the movements and gestures I've seen in movies from the era this outfit hearkens to. Some of it was the dress: it's structured, so I can't slouch too much; it's got a narrow hem, so I take shorter steps; the skirt rides up alarmingly if I'm not cautious, so I watch myself getting into and out of cars (there's a technique to getting in and out of a car in a short skirt) and cross my legs at the ankle instead of the knee or not at all. Some of it, though, was more studied: it felt right to hold my purse in front of me, both hands on the straps (almost like a kettleball) while standing, for example. I'm not sure if that was a hint of old acting training, urging me to fall into the 'character' this outfit created, or if those gestures, too, were created by the clothes and their relation to the body, just less obviously.

Oh, and I was pretty happy with the socks-and-sandals effect. I think, just like tights and sandals, it might depend heavily on the specific items being combined to work. I'm going to continue to experiment.

How does your clothing affect your movement, gestures, and body language? If it does, is it strictly functional, or do you find yourself creating characters with your outfits and then matching your body language to them?

13 April 2010

Cherry Blossom Time

I was very rushed getting dressed this morning, so I fell back on the oldest outfit-building trick in the book: grab a patterned item with lots of colors, then build outward from it by picking up minor colors from the pattern.

today's outfit, WIWT, Chinese-style jacket, Tahari trousers, pink tank, Fluevog sandals
Chinese-style jacket: depths of the closet
Pink tank: Theory, thrifted, remixed
Chartreuse belt: thrifted, remixed
Brown trousers: Tahari, TJMaxx
Shoes: John Fluevog, "Summertime: Haight," remixed
Bangle: thrifted, remixed
Green stone teardrop necklace: Central Asian, remixed

today's outfit, Chinese-style jacket, pink tank, green stone necklace

The tiny, intricate brocade pattern has hints of all the colors I'm wearing: pink flowers, green foliage, and orangey-red buildings. It's all scenes of cherry-blossom viewing, a lovely tradition of appreciation of the beauty and ephemerality of the natural world celebrated in many parts of Asia. Every year, I try to wear it at least once while the cherry trees are in bloom, to remind myself to appreciate their fleeting beauty - and, in my own small way, to take part in it.

You can also start to see why I'm not the biggest fan of trousers. These are ones that I consider to fit moderately (maybe acceptably) well.

Chinese-style jacket, Tahari trousers, pink tank, Fluevog sandals
photos: Fabulous Husband

Do you ever try to echo natural color schemes in your clothing? If so, is it to celebrate certain events, like the blooming of a favorite flower, or is nature a more generalized inspiration for you?

12 April 2010


No content today, I'm afraid, Fabulous Readers. I have some sort of horrid nasty cold that's left me feeling utterly, well, un-fabulous.

I'm taking it super easy, drinking lots of tea, and loading up on oranges in hopes of making a full recovery so I can bring you a fascinating, fashionable post tomorrow!

09 April 2010

Link-tastic! 9 April 2010

Threadbared has moved to an elegant new site - that allows for commenting!

Make yourself a chain harness and heels.

Not that long ago, foods to 'improve the figure' by increasing its size, not decreasing it, were sold with the same rhetoric that is now used for low-fat, low-cal, low...whatever. Is the change due to a shift in cultural standards or in diet?

How to be fashionable in an ultra-conservative workplace.

It's not fair that in public forums, women are often evaluated on their appearance before their message. It is, however, a part of our society that's stubbornly resistant to change. Throughout history, though, women have deliberately used this to their advantage as much as possible: Queen Elizabeth I of England is a prime example.

Speaking of female dress in public and private arenas, delve into the history of the house dress.

Punk impresario Malcom McLaren died Thursday. His name might not be quite as familiar to the fashion-focused as it is to the musically inclined, but he launched his long and varied career running a clothing store with Vivienne Westwood. Without him, we might not have designers like Alexander McQueen, and we certainly wouldn't have lingerie company Agent Provocateur (one of the company's founders is McLaren and Westwood's son). May he rest in as much peace as any punk could desire.

I don't put much stock in seasonal color assignment, but I am intrigued by Imogen Lamport's color palettes based on personality. It's an ongoing series, so stay tuned!

Have a great weekend, Fabulous Readers!

08 April 2010

Misled by the weatherman

It's a cliche that style bloggers talk about the weather a lot, and no wonder: in addition to all the other factors that influence how we dress, environment is a huge consideration. Even people who swear they "don't care about how they dress" take heat, humidity and precipitation into account.

So people who think and talk about fashion a lot tend to focus on the weather a bit. We develop a close, personal relationship with out weather forecasters, reacting with jubilation when the weather cooperates with our outfits ("Sunny and warm tomorrow? Hooray, I wanted to wear my new sundress!") and grouchiness when the forecasts interfere with our plans ("Whaddaya mean, rain tomorrow? I wanted to wear my suede boots!) or, worse yet, wrong.

Today, for example, was supposed to be quite a bit cooler than it actually was, so I dressed appropriately:
today's outfit, WIWT, vest, dress, skirt, sandals, pearls
Pinstriped vest: Ann Taylor Loft
Bunny print dress: Erin Fetherston for Target, thrifted
Polka-dot skirt: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: John Fluevog, "Summertime" (style uncertain), remixed
Pearls: gift from Fabulous Husband
Alice band: cut-out T-shirt neckband

The dress (lined) plus skirt (also lined) plus vest (you guessed it, lined) was just fine first thing in the morning, but got a little oppressive as the day wore on.
today's outfit, vest, dress, skirt, sandals, flowering plum tree

Despite the climatic inappropriateness, I like the vaguely Victorian carnival feel of this dress and the mix of patterns. Yes, the print on the dress is tiny bunnies! I think I'll revisit this look in cooler weather with fun tights and either a coordinating tee underneath or a nip-waisted blazer over.

today's outfit, WIWT, vest, dress, pearls

Fabulous Husband was offended, on deep, basic levels, by the fact that I didn't have a Set of Pearls. As far as he's concerned, every woman should have some. So while we were out trawling our local antiques store this past weekend, we came across these. I thought they were a bit too big and '50s-housewifeish for my comfort, but he sweet-talked me into them. I'm very glad, and I've become quite fond of them. I like them best in non-traditional combinations, like with this outfit or a military jacket and skinny jeans.

As for the headband, I cut the necklines out of most T-shirts I own: crew necks are just too tight and restrictive, even for the gym! Actually, they're especially bad for the gym: the last thing I want when I'm working up a sweat is a piece of fabric tight around my neck, making me even hotter. I've discovered that the neckbands from T-shirts are the perfect size and just stretchy enough to work as headbands. Why go out any buy special purpose-made ones when I've got some that would otherwise be waste? If you like to trim the sleeves off T-shirts, I've heard they work this way too, at least the more voluminous ones.

So what about you, Fabulous Readers? Has a forecast ever misled you into an outfit that, while otherwise flattering, fell flat because of the weather?

07 April 2010

Yet more layering with dresses

OK, so in some ways, this is exactly the same outfit I wore yesterday: dress, shirt underneath, belt just under the bust.
today's outfit, WIWT, savannah-print sundress, navy tee, belt, sandals
Savannah-print dress, H&M, thrifted
Navy tee, depths of the drawer
Woven black belt, Ann Taylor, remixed (frequently)
Shoes, John Fluevog, "Summertime: Haight"
Earrings: H&M
Necklace: gift from mom
Woven leather cuff: Urban Outfitters, remixed
photos: Fabulous Husband

But considering how hot it is, I consider myself lucky to be dressed at all, let alone wearing multiple layers.

Seriously. New York's not supposed to verge on 90°F in April. Come see me in July with temperatures like that - and peaches. Possibly the worst thing about it being so warm so soon is that the weather makes me crave my favorite midsummer treats, which won't be in season for a few months yet.

savannah-print sundress, navy tee, belt, sandals

To compensate for my disappointment on that front, there's this wonderful little dress. Normally, I wouldn't thrift something from H&M: their quality is too shoddy to be reliable in a secondhand garment. However, this little sundress seemed very well made (at first, I thought it was an Indian import, a staple of my NYU-going era) and I couldn't pass up the adorable savannah print. Lions and zebras and acacia trees, oh my!

savannah-print sundress, navy tee, belt, wood bead necklace, tribal earrings
The big, chunky wood necklace and earrings inspired by sub-Saharan styles seemed like a perfect match. Navy and russet are colors associated with cooler months, but I like the way this turned out as a quasi-summery look.

It was hot enough that even my short hair had to go up and as off my neck as I could get it!

Blogger seems to be having issues with comments right now, so instead of posing a few questions at the end of this post, I'll suggest we all go outside, fire up the grill, and have a fizzy, icy cocktail. That's certainly my plan for the rest of the evening!

06 April 2010

More layering with dresses

Muggy spring weather and experiments in dress layering continue apace.

today's outfit, WIWT, turquoise bubble-hem dress, white fishnets, green pumps, white and gold belt
Turquoise dress :thrifted
Olive green rib-knit tank: thrifted, remixed
Gold-and-white woven belt: thrifted
White fishnets: depths of the drawer
Green shoes: John Fluevog, "Teapots: Darjeeling," remixed

today's outfit, turquoise bubble-hem dress, white and gold belt
Bronze flower necklace: thrifted
"Turquoise" earrings: mall accessory store (Claire's?)

Up until recently, I loathed turquoise, both the stone and the color. Last year, though, a jeweler friend gave me a fabulous pendant designed to hold a small sphere and a choice of stones to be put in it. Normally I'm a sucker for amethyst, carnelian, hematite, lapis... but in this mix, the one that called to me was an included, brown-streaked piece of turquoise.

I've been in love with the color ever since. 

Now, of course, Pantone has named a shade of turquoise the 2010 color of the year. I haven't figured out if I've developed fashion-related psychic powers, I'm developing into a savvy trendspotter, or it's a wacky coincidence. I'm leaning toward the latter.

My mania for turquoise extended to trying on this dress. Bubble hems are not a look I'd ever thought would flatter me - in fact, I swore up-down-and-sideways at one point that I'd never wear one. However, like every style I've ever sworn I would never in a million years wear, I found one example that I like, and now I'm viewing the entire concept in a whole new light.

today's outfit, turquoise bubble-hem dress, white fishnets, green pumps, white and gold belt

While there's something to be said for having clearly defined stylistic boundaries, I'm enjoying that little revelation. I hear far too many women say "I would never wear..." or "I don't look good in..." or " is a bad one for me..." The more I spend playing with clothes, the more I realize that you should never say never about anything stylistically. I've seen full-figured women rock micro-minis, super-petite women look smashing in floor-length skirts, sallow-complexioned women be stunning in yellow - all things that conventional fashion wisdom says are impossible.

white fishnets, green pumps

Yes, it may take a bit of planning and forethought: a woman who's 5'1" is going to have to work a bit harder to pull off a long skirt than one who's 5'10". A rosy-skinned redhead is going to have to be more selective in picking a shade of pink to wear than a pale-skinned brunette. However, if you really want to wear a style, there is a way to do it and look good.

Have you ever found yourself craving a style or color you'd previously scorned? What about fashion boundaries - do you have anything you simply won't wear? Why or why not?

05 April 2010

Layering for spring

Ah, spring, when a young woman's heart turns to not having to wear forty-seven million layers and a twenty-pound coat just to leave the house, hallelujah!

Unfortunately for those of us who love the complexity and breadth of options, though, gorgeous sunny weather has its down side: it gets much harder to layer. Even in the depths of summer, unless it's too hot to be tolerated, I'll stack layers of tissue-thin tanks until they're opaque instead of putting on one thicker one, tie scarves around big floppy hats, and pile on jewelry to get enough visual activity in my outfit for my taste.

Minimalism never really took hold with me. Obviously.

This spring, though, I'm playing with a whole new concept in layering: getting dresses involved. Spring's perfect for layered dresses: it's not quite warm enough to wear a sleeveless dress on its own, but the temptation of your just-unpacked summer wardrobe is strong. All those bright colors and breezy silhouettes!

All too often, I've succumbed to that temptation, and been left shivering as soon as the sun went down. I'd like to avoid that in the future, if possible.

There are lots of ways to combine a dress with other layers. One way is to wear it under something of similar length:
daily outfit, WIWT, layered dress, purple tunic, black dress, boots, belt, OTK socks
Black dress: Ann Taylor Loft, remixed
Purple tunic: Pixie, thrifted
Belt: Aldo, thrifted
Diamond Lace OTK socks: Sock Dreams, remixed
Boots: John Fluevog "Sopranos: Inge," remixed
Tiny purple and gold-tone flower brooch: thrifted
Woven silver bracelet: Anima Perdita, remixed

daily outfit, WIWT, layered dress, purple tunic, black dress, belt, brooch

I've worn this dress with these socks and boots together before: it's amazing how the tunic, as opposed to a skirt layered underneath, changes the overall look.
layered dress, purple tunic, black dress, boots, belt, OTK socks

I had originally grabbed this tunic with the intention of wearing it with a berry-colored tank top and leggings. I'm really happy with the way it works over this dress, though.

daily outfit, WIWT, layered dress, purple tunic, black dress, belt, closeup

It is, on a not-too-technical technicality, too small for me: I don't think there's any way it will ever button across my bust. However, it fails to button moderately gracefully, and the open neckline frames the button placket of the black dress perfectly.

It also kinda matches my shutters.

ankle-tie boots, Fluevog, heels, OTK socks
The boots are beyond awesome. That, ladies and gentleman, is that rare, thought-to-be-mythological creature, the walkable 3" heel. I've tromped all over New York City, my home county, and even a little ways into the woods (provided it's not too muddy) in these. One of these days I'll get around to going to M&J Trimming and getting a selection of colorful ribbons to relace the ankle strap.

And yes, they are the same style that was worn by Alice in Syfy's 2009 Alice in Wonderland miniseries. If I fell down a rabbit hole, they'd definitely be the boots I'd want!

Do you layer dresses, Fabulous Readers? If so, how? Is it a look you like for spring?

03 April 2010

Link-tastic! 3 April 2010

Where's the line between retro and costume? My thoughts on this are so complex and intricate that I think I'm going to devote an entire post to it at some point. Costume, and the distinction between it and clothing, is a subject dear to my heart.

Beautiful, drapey chain jewelry that challenges  notions of what parts of the body get jewelry. I love the harnesses that wrap across one shoulder or down an arm.

A couple of book recommendations: S. from academichic suggests Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser, while Mrs. Lilien offers a biography of Vera, painter and textile designer.

What makes an item special enough to take home with you?

Samantha and Nixon Sixx highlighted a few elegant, Gothy Etsy favorites.

Have a great weekend, Fabulous Readers! 

01 April 2010

Double Dog Dare Denim

I'm not usually the type to do things on a dare. Even as a teenager, peer pressure never had much effect on me.

WendyB got to me, though, with her dare to, essentially, the whole world to wear denim-on-denim looks. When I saw her original post on the subject, I felt a sense of inevitability creep over me. I knew what was going to happen: I'd boldly declare "Head-to-toe denim? What is this, 1986? I think not!" then, six months later, sheepishly find myself prowling thrift stores for the perfect denim shirtdress and hoping no-one would notice.

After I saw her latest post rounding up other fab bloggers in denim-heavy looks, I figured I cut out the  self-denial, hypocrisy, and awkwardness and cut right to the chase.
Jacket: Calvin Klein Jeans, Century 21, remixed
Purple tee: Tahari, TJMaxx, remixed 
Silk hand-dyed tank: Reyen Design Studios
Denim belt: thrifted
Denim mini: Old Navy, remixed
Crescent moon necklace: gift from Fabulous Husband, remixed
Knot pin with purple stones: thrifted
Boots: John Fluevog, "F-Sole: Baby Ruth" (?)
I wasn't entirely happy with this outfit, but the denim wasn't the reason at all. I actually liked the mixture of different washes quite a bit. 

No, the issue with this outfit was purely structural - the skirt and tee rode up (when the tee wasn't catching on the pocket flaps of the skirt), the tank, being shorter than the tee, bunched under the belt, and the belt tried to unbuckle itself at the most inopportune moments. I started out the day with a different purple-stoned pin on the jacket, only to have it take a header when I put my purse strap on my shoulder. 

Oh well. They can't all be winners, right?

Structural issues aside, I ended up much happier with the denim-on-denim combination than I thought I would be. I don't know if I'll ever quite get to the level of wearing jeans and a denim work shirt in combination, but I will be keeping my eye out for just the right denim dress.

Now let's see if I can pull off yarn in my hair!