Friday, January 30, 2009

Guest Blogger!

I'm very excited to feature a guest on today's post, my good friend Jess, who just flew in from Seattle for a visit. Jess works in a far more stuffy corporate atmosphere than mine, and yet she pulls off some of the most adorable outfits imaginable; in fact, she's one of the most stylish dressers I know. I wish she'd start her own blog, though I know her busy work schedule won't allow it right now. Anyway, I'll give the deets on my outfit and then turn it over to Jess.

Hat: Alternative Design Studio
Tunic: ??
Belt: The Red Dress Shoppe
Leggings: Kersh
Spectator boots: vintage (I just got these -- it's the first time I've worn them)
Adorable hat pin: A gift from Jess! Made by Devout Dolls

In Jess's own words:
Audi is one of my dearest friends - and so stylish it sometimes makes me roll my eyes (see photo above). But, as I heart her, she must be appeased... [xoxo!]

As it was Friday, I eschewed the suit today. It's been unseasonably cold in Seattle - even for January - my office as cold as a tomb. Outfits this week have featured many layers, so I arrived bundled up, eager for warmer temperatures. However, Audi asked me to be a guest on her blog - so before I shed my insulation, here you see me in all my cold weather (discount) finery [fueled by 2 vodka sodas from the plane and a half pint of welcome-to-SF-campari deliciousness (there's a reason I heart Audi, after all)]:

Hat: Urban Outfitters
Scarf: handknit - by me!
Coat: Target
Mittens: somewhere in Copenhagen, circa 2006
Sweater: somewhere in Prague - circa 2006
Skirt: H&M
Boots: Aerosoles (purchased years ago in SF - welcome home, boots!)

Edited to add: Jess really does have hands. How else could she hold the booze?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


OK, this is going to be the shortest post ever since I'm literally on my way out the door to meet some friends. Navy blue and grass green is one of my favorite new color combos, and these recently thrifted items fit the bill nicely.

Hat: Alternative Design Studio
Shirt: thrifted
Scarf: local import store
Dress: thrifted
Tights: Cronert (I think)
Shoes: Mia

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I bought this dress years ago to wear to a friend's wedding, only it was mid-calf length back then. I loved the black and brown print, which is why I've hung onto it, but in the last several years I hadn't worn it because I started to think it looked a little frumpy. So along with yesterday's skirt, I took it in and had it shortened at my local cleaners. I quite like it now as a cheeky minidress.

The dress has 2 layers, an opaque black lining and a semi-sheer chiffon layer on top, with the floral print. The fluttery sleeves and lightweight fabric will allow me to wear it in warmer months, even though the colors are somber. Come spring I'll have to think of ways to brighten it up by adding some vibrant color. For now it made a great starting point for a black and brown combo. The herringbone jacket, tights and boots gave me plenty of warmth for the crisp but sunny weather today.

Dress: Connected Apparel
Jacket: La Redoute
Tights: Falke
Boots: Modern Vintage

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's a Wrap

This recently-thrifted skirt just came back from cleaners, who took about a foot off the length for me. As much as I adore plaid, that big an expanse of it was a look that's way more school marm than I could deal with. Not that school marms can't be hot, mind you, it's just not a look I really know how to work. The skirt is great except that since it's a wrap style, it has the unfortunate habit of flying right open in the slightest breeze. I'll have to figure out a good way of securing it without impeding my walking too much.

The lightweight, loosely-knit sweater was unearthed during the closet purge, and is making an appearance on the blog for the first time, though I've owned it for years. The knit is so loose that the sweater is essentially see-through, so I added this argyle vest for some much-needed coverage. I like how it shows a hint of skin just below the cowl neck of the sweater.

In order to add a little color variation and avoid being too matchy, I chose these gray tights instead of black ones. They tie in nicely with the gray accents in the vest, and keep the overall look lighter than black tights would have. Plus these tights add an additional pattern into the mix here, which I think is more interesting than a solid color.

Hat: Monsoon
Sweater: Free People
Vest: A. Byer
Obi Belt: Sunhee Moon
Skirt: Charter Club (thrifted)
Tights: Hue (a gift from my little sister)
Shoes: Fly London (a gift from Mark)

Monday, January 26, 2009

No Pun Intended

Today's outfit was nothing special, as I had limited time this morning and knew I was only going to be in the office for a couple of hours anyway. Poor little Georgie is, well... sick as a dog. Since I didn't feel comfortable leaving her alone for any length of time today, I just popped into work for a short time while she was out with her dog walker. She seems to be a little better now after I switched her to a bland food diet; an upset stomach is a pretty common occurrence in dogs that have a lot of access to the outdoors, but this was an uncommonly bad bout. I'll spare you the gory details, though I'll happily report that no rugs were ruined in the process.

This is my favorite pair of comfy jeans, and although they've made very few appearances on this blog, I practically live in them most weekends. If you could see how they make my butt look, you'd understand why. Even more than that though, they're the sartorial equivalent of comfort food for me; this morning I felt stressed about leaving Georgie, so I put these on, because somehow they make me feel like I can handle anything.

The only really noteworthy thing in this outfit was the necklace/brooch combo. I hate how a long, double-wrapped necklace will droop down during the day and end up with one super long loop that hangs all the way to your belly button and a short one that feels like a tourniquet around your neck. Today I solved this problem by threading the necklace through this vintage brooch, which just happens to match perfectly in color. Actually I wish it didn't match quite so perfectly, but hey, you have to use what's on hand. The brooch kept the loops of the necklace just so, even when I had to bend over to clean up a really smelly pile of... oh, never mind.

Turtleneck: Laundry, thrifted
Tunic top: ?
Brooch: Thrifted
Necklace: Cost Plus World Market
Jeans: Lucky
Shoes: John Fluevog

Friday, January 23, 2009


If you look verrrry closely you can almost see the big ol' bulky bandage bulging out on my left thigh; it's from the work I had done on my tattoo yesterday. Let me just say for the record: OUCH! I was limping around all day today on my throbbing, swollen leg. There's just no avoiding it when there's that much shading to be done. The outline was fine, but the filling in of the color was a killer. Thankfully now that I'm home from work I can have a bevvie or two to take the edge off. When it's all healed up it's going to look beautiful, though.

Today's outfit was modified at the last minute because of the new ink -- originally I was going to wear knee high socks, but they hit just at the wrong spot and would've made the leg even more sore, so I substituted the leggings since they have a much looser fit.

Hat: Noa Noa
Cardigan: ?
Brooch: vintage
Tunic: Promod
Skirt: Max Studio
Leggings: American Apparel
Socks: Noa Noa
Shoes: Fly London

A Day Late

I'm a day late on posting this outfit because yesterday I barely had time to take a few snaps of my outfit before I had to dash off to an appointment with my tattoo artist, Cecelia. Yes, I finally finished that new tattoo I started way back in July. I'll definitely be showing it off here once it has healed enough to be seen.

Yesterday I decided to pull this underutilized shirt out of the vaults, only to discover that it looks like it was made to go with the purple and peacock hat I made at my millinery workshop a few months ago. I'd never even noticed that the shirt has purple details in the pattern. I'm not sure why this corduroy skirt always looks black in photos, but I assure you it's a deep eggplant purple.

Hat: Made by me!
Shirt: La Redoute
Belt: The Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: H&M
Tights: a gift from my sister
Boots: Mia

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Forgotten, But Not Gone

I've already started to put some long-forgotten garments back into circulation following my closet purge. Today it was this black skirt, which was a staple in my wardrobe for some time but which has been neglected in recent months. The skirt is made of slightly stretchy fabric and has these great kick pleats in the back, which makes it easy to walk in though it's got all the figure-hugging sass you'd want in a pencil skirt. The other underutilized item today was the black and white graphic tank top, which I nearly unloaded in the purge but thankfully decided to try on instead and realized it still looks great.

When I first put on the red, white, and black ensemble I liked it, but even with the pattern mixing I found it just a little subdued for my taste. Since the cropped jacket has a neckline that makes it tough to wear necklaces, I decided to add a little sparkle by using this shiny scarf. It's hard to see here, but the scarf is woven from black and metallic silver threads, and is a great substitute for a chunky piece of jewelry. The stack of silver bangles gave it the finishing touch.

Tank top: H&M
Cropped jacket: A. Byer
Scarf: Local import store
Bangles: A gift from Sal
Skirt: Max Studio
Shoes: BCBG Girls

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Mark and I spent a wonderful long weekend with my parents, aunt, and sisters up in Oregon over the weekend, but today I'm absolutely drained. Between getting in very late last night, waking up early this morning, and then all the intense emotions from watching this morning's inaugural ceremonies and listening to the highlights this evening on NPR, I'm about ready to pass out. But wow, what an amazing day! There's not a whole lot I can say about our awesome new president that hasn't already been said, so I'll just add my excitement and well wishes to all the other billions out there, and go straight to today's outift.

Tank: thrifted
Cardigan: Noa Noa
Obi: Sunhee Moon
Skirt: Eddie Bauer
Tights: Noa Noa
Shoes: Sofft

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wardrobe Tour, Part 4

Well, no one's perfect, as my third and final closet goes to show. Try as I might I can't seem to keep this one organized for very long. The latest addition to the jumble was my new computer, which is a lot bigger and has many more components and cords than my Mac (by far the worst thing about PC's is all those stupid cords!!). I still haven't figured out how to wedge everything in there just so, but I'm working on it.

This closet is in the dining room, away from the other two, which is why I selected it for outerwear. As you can see I left just enough space on the narrow garment rack for my coats. As much as I adore coats and am constantly drawn to them when I'm out shopping, I tend to be very judicious about purchasing them because of the valuable closet real estate they take up. And really, here in San Francisco there are relatively few days when you need a great big coat if you have sufficient layers on already.

These photos really show where my priorities lie. I'd rather keep the closets I get dressed in open and uncluttered, with everything in its place. For me planning outfits requires complete freedom of movement; I need to be able to grab different items easily and replace them just as easily. But when it comes to everything else I store in my closet, such as photos, bills and tax forms and such, balls of yarn, and camera gear, I don't mind having to rummage about to find anything.

Tomorrow Mark and I are heading up to Oregon to visit my family. This will be Mark's first time meeting my parents! I'll wrap up the wardrobe tour for now, and write some final thoughts on closet strategies when I get back next week. I'm sure not all of my readers have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, but for those who do, enjoy your long weekend! I'll see you next Tuesday.


This dove gray vest was another rediscovery that came out of my closet purge. I ordered it ages ago, stuck it in my closet and completely forgot about it, I think because at the time the weather was too warm for woolen clothing. I like the way the extra long vest makes the dress look like a really, really long shirt. Which, when you think about it, it sort of is.

Vest: La Redoute
Dress: Diane von Furstenberg
Tights: Noa Noa
Boots: Bata
Scarf: from a local import store
Belt: ?? Got in in Copenhagen

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I almost forgot! Astute reader Alison correctly guessed that I drive a Mini Cooper cabriolet. I suppose it's the cheeky nature of them that appeals to me so. However, my second choice when I was car shopping a year and a half ago would have been a VW Bug, as Melanie guessed. In fact the first two cars I ever owned were 1971 Beetles, and I loved those cars. Ah, memories...

Wardrobe Tour, Part 3

The next closet I'm going to show you is the one that holds my skirts, dresses, dress pants, and most importantly, the shoes. As you can see it opens directly across from the one I showed you yesterday. This is often how I get ready in the morning; by opening up both closets so that I can go back and forth between them. The door of the closet has more of the over-the-door hooks for my handbags (and, if you look closely, my hockey skates). By the way, if you think that the fabulous closets weren't a huge deciding factor when I looked at my apartment, think again.

When you open up the closet it looks pretty packed, and indeed it's a fairly tight squeeze to get in there. However the rack on the right was a necessary addition, since before that I had all my skirts, dresses, and pants packed onto the narrow rack on the back wall. I still don't understand why in old apartments they always put the garment rack along the shortest wall; what's wrong with putting it on the longest one?

The nice thing about the rack I added is that it is wheeled, and can be pulled all the way out of the closet if I want. It also has support bars at the bottom that are spaced just right for holding the shoes I'm going to wear that week. All my fully-assembled outfits for the week go on the very end of the rack so that I can just reach in and grab them. Dresses go in the long section on the left, longer skirts on the top rack, and shorter skirts and cropped pants on the bottom. On the door to the right-hand closet you can just see a couple of extra hooks there on the top; these are for in the morning when I pull out one of my outfits, so that I have somewhere to hang it as I take each piece off the hanger.

On to the shoes. The left side of the closet already had built in shelves when I moved in, but since the shelves are twice as high as a pair of shoes, they waste a lot of space. I solved that problem, and effectively doubled my shoe storage, by using extendable metal racks that cut each shelf in half top to bottom. I didn't consider using those over-the-door shoe holders with pockets, because I find that they frequently don't have pockets big enough for anything but a slim pair of sneakers or sandals, so they really don't hold as many pairs of shoes as they claim to.

Finally, here's a look a little deeper into the closet, where you can see all my dress pants hanging on the tiered hangers. Since the wheeled rack makes it a little tough to fully utilize the whole length of the built-in bar behind it, I use the accessible part for dress pants and the part buried behind the wheeled rack for super dressy stuff that I don't wear very often.

That concludes today's tour. Come back again tomorrow when I show you my dirty little secret -- a closet that's packed to the gills and not very well organized (right now, at least). That one holds my coats, plus a whole bunch of other random stuff.

Bad Seed

I thought about the 1950's movie The Bad Seed all day while wearing this outfit. It was that movie that made me really long to get one of those wheeled cocktail carts, and to be the sort of hostess who rolls the cart out, complete with ice bucket and tongs, and whips up a mean Harvey Wallbanger or Sidecar. If you haven't seen the movie, I'd highly recommend it. Even today the subject matter is truly shocking, though the movie does get a bit overwrought at times (it was originally a play, and feels very much like a theater production even on the screen). But the performances are outstanding, and if you don't know anything about the movie, so much the better. Don't look it up because the plot spoilers abound; just go rent it.

But I digress. In the movie, Nancy Kelly plays a devoted housewife who in one scene rolls out the cocktail cart and starts serving the guests. Her outfits in the movie weren't really anything like this one (as I recall they were far more plain and utilitarian), but since this dress has a 50's feel to it, particularly with the apron, I started having my cocktail cart daydream again and thought of the movie.

Hat: from Alternative Design Studio
Dress: J. Crew
Apron: thrifted
Scarf, bangle: from a local import store
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha

On Being Cool

This award was bestowed upon me by the fabulous and always entertaining notSupermum (who actually is Supermum, only she's very, very humble). Now this is a woman who is busy raising 2 daughters whilst dealing with a bitter and vindictive ex, all the while making time to keep a fantastic blog in which she shares her trials and tribulations, as well as some really heartwarming and funny stories. She joked that someone had better quickly tell her daughters that she'd been labeled as "cool," but frankly in my opinion coolness comes from experience and worldliness, and she has both in spades. Coolness comes from not getting swallowed up by cares and responsibility, and by being your own person no matter what life throws your way. My little assortment of daily worries looks like a cake walk compared with hers, and she does it all with so much style, grace and humor. So I second Antonella's opinion, notSupermum. You most definitely ARE cool. And I'm very flattered that you enjoy my little blog!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wardrobe Tour, Part 2

The wardrobe tour begins in my largest closet, a walk-in that's about 4.5 feet wide by 10 feet deep. The closet has 2 doors, one in the entry hall and another that opens out into my main room. As you enter the closet from the hallway, you're looking down the length of it. When I moved in, there was just one shelf at the back of the closet, with a bar underneath to hang clothes. This is what it looks like now:

The first thing I did was to add a whole bunch of Cubitec shelving down the left hand side so that I could store all my folded items and keep them organized. The shelving is only 10" deep so it doesn't eat up a lot of floor space. More recently I added the over-the-door purse/hat hooks on the inside of the door to hang all my berets on. I also use them in tomorrow's featured closet for handbags. As you enter the closet this is what you see:

The little wooden shelves with green striped drawers are from Ikea; they hold hosiery in one drawer and tank tops in the other. It's a little bit of a stretch to reach them, but it's manageable.

On the right side of the closet is a set of wheeled drawers, which houses socks, tights, and then one drawer of miscellaneous things like bathing suits, gloves, and the like. One the wall above are a bunch of hooks for necklaces; this is a great way to keep them from getting all tangled up. Just beyond the necklaces are some wall-mounted racks for belts. The back of the second door has hooks for casual jackets, and as you look all the way to the right, there's yet another smaller set of drawers. This one has 2 small drawers for jewelry on top, and larger drawers for undies and bras below.

Now I'll show you the left wall as viewed from the other door.

As you can see, I've mounted a bunch of hooks on the wall for the hats that are bulkier than berets. The cubbies of the Cubitec shelving are sorted thus (starting from the topmost complete row of 3 cubbies): sleepwear and sweats, DVDs, cardigan sweaters, (next row) jeans, Mark's stuff, layering shirts for work, (next row) pullover sweaters, Mark's stuff (See how nice I am? I gave him 2 whole cubbies!), and weekend t-shirts. This shelving can be configured in any number of ways for whatever space you're working with.

The rest of the wall contains a rack for scarves (which really needs to be organized), and a shelf for my casual and frequently-worn shoes. Yep, there are even a few pairs of flip flops in there. Finally, I'll show off the most recent improvement to my closet, the switching of all my hangers over to the flocked, slimline type. I was truly amazed at what a tremendous difference these made.

Did you notice that this closet doesn't contain any dress pants, dresses, or skirts? That's because they're in the closet across the hall from this one, which I will show you tomorrow. That closet also contains the rest of my massive shoe collection. Until then...


We're getting some unseasonably warm weather this week in the Bay Area; so warm, in fact, that I went bare-legged today. And if my hair looks a little windblown, it's because I drove to and from work with the top down on my car! This is a rare treat indeed. On a side note, I've been told that my car exactly suits my personality. Does anyone care to guess what it is? I'll give you the answer tomorrow, although I'm sure at least one of my clever blogger friends will have smoked it before then.

Today's outfit:
Cardigan: "S"
Tank: H&M
Belt: Unknown; it's made from recycled leather
Skirt: Mac and Jac
Shoes: Joy Chen

Kasmira pointed out that I didn't name the manufacturer of my tights from yesterday's outfit. I get a lot of questions about them, actually. I'm not exactly sure of the brand, since it's been awhile since I bought them and the label doesn't say, but I suspect they might be made by Cronert.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wardrobe Tour Part I

I've just completed a massive wardrobe purge, and am thrilled with the results. I had a lot of items lurking in there that I hadn't worn in a year or more, but that I was hanging onto because I was sure they'd come in handy at some point. However, yesterday I realized that although many of the pieces may have been useful in some way, they all lacked that certain something that would make me want to wear them. After yesterday's exertions I can now peruse my closets and see nothing but interesting pieces that I'm excited to wear.

Now I know what you're probably thinking. If you took all the stuff I DO wear and laid it out end to end, that alone would probably already stretch from here to LA and back. And in fact, I've had a couple of comments to the effect of, 'how in the hell can you possibly store all that crap?!' Of course the commenters phrased their inquiries much more politely than that, but hey, if I didn't know my own closets I'd probably ask myself the very same thing. That's why this week I'm going to give you all a little tour of my wardrobe, whereby I hope to inspire you with some storage and organization strategies that work well for me.

I'll start today by describing my general philosophy of living with a large wardrobe in a small apartment.

I am not a hoarder. This may sound contradictory, but aside from clothing and shoes I don't keep large collections of anything. I don't buy things that I won't use regularly; for instance I have very few kitchen appliances and only the bare necessities of tools, cleaning supplies, and dishes. Almost my entire music collection is in electronic form only; I don't stock large supplies of consumable household items since I live right down the street from a market; when I travel the only 'souvenirs' I typically bring back are clothes. Sure, I occasionally get rid of things I later wish I'd held onto. But the upside is that a large proportion of my closet space is available for clothes, while the rest of my storage areas have small but efficient selections of everything else. You can search my apartment high and low, but you won't find an unused popcorn machine, a Halloween costume from 1997, or a collection of Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia anywhere.

I use every square inch of available space. I can't even count the number of hooks, racks, shelves, and stackable bins I've installed since I moved to my apartment. Every new incarnation of my closet space has been more efficient and organized than the last, and I've finally developed an arrangement that makes effective use of my high ceilings and long, narrow closets. Older apartments (mine is from 1934) can be tricky to fully utilize, but if you can get creative with new ways of tapping into the space, you can store far more in them than you might think. I'll show you some examples of this in the days to come.

I keep as much of my wardrobe visible as possible. Clothing folded up and crammed into drawers is a recipe for a wardrobe that isn't being fully utilized. Everything I own except for undies, layering tanks, hosiery and socks is in full view when I open my closets. You'd be amazed at how much bigger your wardrobe seems when you actually wear most of it. Amazingly, I fully expect that my wardrobe will seem to have increased following yesterday's purge, since now I can see what's left much more readily.

I don't buy things (anymore) that are similar to ones I already own. We've all done it. We find an item that works well, and we keep buying that same item again and again. How many pairs of black Mary Janes did I buy before I told myself no more? SEVEN. Who in the world needs SEVEN pairs of black Mary Janes? No one, that's who. My rule now is that if the item doesn't fill some unique niche in my wardrobe, then I have no place for it. It also helps that I have a few tricks up my sleeve for styling certain items in different ways. Why own both a fitted black sweater with a scoop neck and a fitted black sweater with a tie neck, when instead you can just own the scoop neck and a few interesting scarves? It's far better to own items that are distinctly different from one another than a bunch of variations on the same theme. I'm still far from perfect, by the way; in yesterday's purge I only got rid of *one* pair of black Mary Janes.

Tomorrow I'll begin the photographic tour through my 3 closets. My Three Closets -- wasn't that a tv show in the 60's?

Today's outfit:
Jacket: vintage
Shirt: Banana Republic (unearthed during the purge!)
Skirt: Sunhee Moon
Shoes (black MJ's, natch!): John Fluevog

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Today's blog post is dedicated to Mark's coworker Margaret (hi Margaret!), who wanted to have a look at the vintage coat I just scored for a ridiculously low price on eBay. The coat appears below, but first I'll give the details on the outfit that was created especially for it.

Dress: a 'hand-me-up' from my sister
Cardigan: Max Studio
Scarf: from a local import store
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Boots: MIA

For a couple of years now I've been searching for the perfect shawl-collar jacket with a fitted waist. It turned out to be a lot harder to find than I imagined, mainly because I was hooked on getting a vintage one, and many of those are either the wrong size or not in good enough shape for my liking. When I found this one on eBay I would have been willing to pay a much higher price for its creamy perfection, but I ended up winning the auction for just $10.50! Even with shipping it only cost me around $20. The fur collar is soft and luxurious, and the coat fits like a dream and is in near-mint condition. I generally try to avoid getting my mind set on finding a really specific item because of the almost always futile and time-consuming search that follows, but in this case it proved to be worth the effort.