Thursday, April 30, 2009
I can't believe I was ever unsure about wearing these shorts to work; my outfits with these have consistently been among the most complimented of any I've worn. It just goes to show that the hardest person to please is yourself.
I love the way all the different shades of brown and black blend together in this outfit. The brown boots are almost dark enough to be black, while the semi-opaque black tights are nearly light enough to pass for brown. The vest and shorts are matching but not: both pieces have the same herringbone pattern, but the scale is different (the pattern is a little bigger in the shorts) and the vest is lighter brown with some thin red lines scattered throughout. This gives it almost the appearance of being a suit while still keeping it interesting. Since I knew I was already mixing 2 shades of brown, I made sure that the remaining brown pieces were all different as well, so that the end result looks intentional rather than haphazard.
Here are the other ways I've worn these shorts. Which is your favorite?
Black shirt: Sunhee Moon
Belt: import store
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I thought I'd celebrate the year by posting some of my favorite outfits from the last year, one from each month that I've been blogging:
It's interesting to see how much my photo quality has improved since I started my blog, not to mention how my hairstyle has morphed. I hope to continue to evolve the blog over the coming year, so feedback and suggestions are most welcome! Thanks again, everyone!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Generally when I mix colors in an outfit I like to use different shades of the same basic hue; however with a colorblock look it's really better to match the colors where they repeat or else the effect is lost. Thus my hat, belt, and shoes are all exactly the same shade. Compare today's outfit with this one, where I mixed up several different shades of blue and green for a completely different look.
Cardigan: Max Studio
Obi belt: Sunhee Moon
Friday, April 24, 2009
First things first; let's talk about the shirt:
1. The fit. Choose a t-shirt that actually fits your body. So many shirts are boxy and shapeless, and there's simply no amount of belting or accessorizing that will make an ill-fitting t-shirt look anything other than sloppy. Next, consider the cut of the jeans you'll be wearing the shirt with. If they're low rise, make sure you've got a t-shirt that's long enough to cover your middle section. The midriff is an area that should rarely be exposed at all, let alone at work. I like a shirt that gives me plenty of coverage without constantly having to tug at it.
2. The design. I'm not a big fan of writing on shirts, particularly at work. Because here's the thing: words written on t-shirts are typically emblazoned right across your boobs. And when people see writing on a shirt, of course they want to read it; it's just a natural human response. I'm sure I don't need to point out that in a work setting it's far better not to give anyone a reason to stare at your chest, whether the motivation is innocuous or not. Thus, the shirt should be harmonious with the rest of the outfit as a whole, and not be the only thing that draws attention. The easiest type of t-shirt to wear is one with a simple or abstract design and a soft enough color palette that the shirt doesn't distract from the rest of the outfit. Of course, there's also the possibility of wearing a shirt with a big statement-y image on it, but you'll definitely need to make sure you have some accessories and/or shoes that can really stand up to the design.
Now let's talk about the jeans:
1. The wash. The wash is really the main thing that sets a work-appropriate jean apart from a strictly weekend one (assuming it's ok to wear jeans at your workplace at all, of course). Even an ultra low rise pair of jeans can be fine for the workplace if you have the right amount of coverage from your shirt, but really nothing is going to make a lighter wash look anywhere near professional. Now my workplace is very casual and pretty much anything goes, so I can get away with wearing even my weekend pairs. But if you need a more professional look, choose a wash that's nearly black. Consider the difference in the outfits shown below, just in terms of the color of the denim:
Additionally, don't neglect the fact that the classic denim blue is very much a color and not a neutral. Any outfit with jeans should be designed with the color of the jeans in mind or else it'll look mismatched.
2. The cut and fit. Looking again at the 3 different outfits above, it's pretty easy to see that the wide-legged jeans have the dressiest and most formal feel. But I think that the real key to pulling off a stylish look with jeans is also about the fit. A good quality pair of jeans that flatters your figure is well worth the investment, in terms of not only money but also the time spent in searching for them. I'd much rather have 3 pairs of good quality, fantastically-flattering jeans than 10 pairs that are only so-so. I prefer jeans with a waistline below the belly button and just above my hip bone; for the most flattering fit, the waist of the jeans should sit right across that little tummy roll that most of us have.
Finally, let's discuss the rest of the outfit.
1. The accessories. In order to give a basic jeans-and-tee outfit some flair, it's really essential to add some interesting accessories. Today I topped my t-shirt with a fitted waistcoat and a double-wrap studded belt, and added my funky Betsey Johnson skull bracelet. With such a basic starting point as jeans and a tee, you almost can't overdo it with the accessories. Instead of the skinny studded belt and waistcoat I could have worn a big wide belt slung low on the hips, or a flashy scarf, or a hat, or several layers of long necklaces, or just about any combination of those.
2. The shoes. Ah, the pièce de résistance -- the shoes. As lovely Sal pointed out just the other day, a great pair of shoes can be the difference between a ho-hum outfit and a great one. They can be the defining factor that determines where the outfit is going to go. For this outfit, I was definitely seeking a little bit of punk rock attitude, so these plaid lace-up boots (which incidentally were a mere $26 on Amazon) fit the bill perfectly. The funky colors and pattern of the shoes took the emphasis off of the t-shirt, added some color, and made the whole outfit more interesting. The single biggest mistake I see people make with the jeans-tee combo is to throw on a boring pair of sneakers. Save the sneaks for when you're out jogging, and class up those jeans with some interesting kicks.
3/4 sleeve tee: H&M
Graphic tee: Gama Go
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I don't wear this skirt very often because it tends to drive me a little nuts. Though I adore all the pleating and volume, I hate the fact that it bunches up on itself and gets stuck around my legs when I walk. I'm constantly fighting with it during the day; just walking down the hallway is a chore, and trying to pee is an absolute nightmare. To show you just how voluminous this skirt is, and how much fabric I have to cope with when I wear it, I did a Kasmira-style twirl for you. That's the remote for my camera there in my hand, in case you're wondering.
After examining the construction of the skirt more closely, I realized that the problems stem from the underneath layer of fabric, which is not a simple lining but another full circle skirt. The 2 layers of fabric rub against each other and bunch up because both are the same clingy cotton. So after years of owning this nerve-wracking (albeit lovely) garment, I finally figured out that if I just cut out the underneath layer and wear a slip instead, it'll be a lot more bearable. Too bad I didn't figure that out before I wore it today.
Drape-neck tank: thrifted
Scarf (as belt): Express, circa 1992
Tights, socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: Fly London
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This gray dress is a 1940's reproduction and is a great base for layering because of the fitted bodice. I topped it with this lightweight cardigan since it was a little cooler today, and added waist definition with this wide elastic belt.
*edited to add this close-up of the jewelry at the request of Sheila and Tina*
Dress, belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The dress is super soft and comfy, but because it's pretty much see-through it necessitates a layer underneath, in this case a lace-trimmed cami and a black skirt. This proved advantageous for today's outfit, since the black layer added some striking contrast and outlined the top and bottom of the dress, which I thought looked better than the off-white fabric right next to my pale skin. My aversion to tanning really limits my ability to wear white, which is why I often layer my white and off-white pieces with another contrasting layer.
Dress: Lady Language
Skirt: From my sister
Shoes: John Fluevog
Monday, April 20, 2009
I really wanted to wear a belt with this outfit, but I just didn't have the right one. I figured a wide belt would overwhelm the light colors, but I didn't have a thin one in the right color. In the end I decided that no belt was better than the wrong one, and added a little contrast with the layers of bronze necklaces.
Keeping with the skull theme, I also wore my Betsey Johnson necklace and bracelet. One can never have too many skulls, really.
Dress, skull jewelry: Betsey Johnson
Bronze layered necklace: H&M
Friday, April 17, 2009
Selecting this skirt proved to be quite an ordeal. It also comes in black and gray, neither of which the store had in my size. So the choice was to either custom order one of the other colors and wait for it, or to choose the olive green and have it right away. I did my utmost not to let the option of having the skirt right away influence the selection of color, but I have to admit it was tough to be truly objective. However, just as I was on the verge of ordering the gray because I thought it would go with more things, I reminded myself that: (1) I like my outfits to be colorful, (2) black and gray are 'safe' colors, whereas green is a little more unique, and (3) when have I ever had a tough time making things go together?
Shirt: J. Crew (thrifted)
Skirt: Skin Graft
Shoes: John Fluevog
Incidentally, thanks everyone for all the compliments on my new haircut. I got my hair bobbed last time but couldn't quite put my finger on why it didn't look as dramatic as Louise Brooks' style. Then I looked at a few other photos of bobs, and noticed that the really striking ones have 2 things in common: they have very heavy bangs (aka fringe), and they seem to divide the face equally into thirds, from the crown of the head to the bottom of the bangs, from the bottom of the bangs to the bottom of the hair, and from the bottom of the hair to the chin. Hmm, I'm sure there's an equation in there somewhere...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Ever since then I've been turning this idea over, and realizing that despite dressing in a very flamboyant, and in a very ME way, I really do skip over a big part of my sartorial personality in my daily wear. So yesterday I pulled this steampunk-style vest out of my closet and decided I'd put together a work-appropriate version of that other side of me. I didn't have any ruffles (YET -- tune in tomorrow, though!), so I paired the vest with one of my trusty tulle skirts for a little of that rugged plus ultra-girly concept that's so prevalent in steampunk style. I added my rivet-studded boots for a little more hardware. If I substituted my lace-up Fluevog boots I could easily turn this into the sort of look I pointed out to Sal, but for work this was a good approximation without being too outrageous.
A big thanks to wonderful Sal for encouraging me to dress the way I truly dream of. This look felt great, and you'll definitely be seeing more of this style creep into my work wear. I'll post more about Sal and Mike's visit soon, but in the meantime I'll let you in on a little secret about Sal: she's even more beautiful in real life than she is in her photos. Seriously. And not surprisingly, every bit as awesome as you'd think she is.
Vest: Steam Trunk
Top: Max Studio
Jacket: Zadig & Voltaire
Skirt: Noa Noa
Socks: Sock Dreams
Shoes: Jo Ghost
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
So assuming these are black dress pants, here's what I did to make the outfit interesting. First, I kept the bulk of the outfit to neutral colors -- white, black, and gray -- and added just some small pops of color with the necklace, shoes, and coat. What you don't want to have is a block of bright color floating in space against a background of black. Next, I added a pattern and texture mix with the top layers -- a striped button-down shirt topped with a sheer black top with a subtle floral pattern. The sheer top adds depth and softens the look of the solid black pants, while the pattern mix adds visual interest. Finally, I jazzed it up with the pops of yellow, since after all it is spring.
I'd love to tell you that I'll be back with more ideas for wearing black pants later in the week, but frankly I don't want to lie to you. And anyway, I hate black pants and am planning on getting rid of that one and only pair, since clearly I never wear them. I can only hope that Martha, as well as any other readers who followed my Fashion Rut series, have outgrown their dependency on the black pants by this point.
Sheer top: Noa Noa
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Pants: Level 99
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha
Necklace: Dana LeBlanc Designs
Monday, April 13, 2009
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha
Scarf: a gift long ago