Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Floral Over Plaid

Here's another way of layering a sheer top for an office-appropriate and summer-friendly look. I like the way the skirt pattern just shows through the sheer top for an overlay of floral over plaid. For those of you who are fearful of pattern mixing, this is a great way to venture into it: choose two, 2-color patterns that have at least one color in common, and make sure one of the patterns is significantly simpler than the other. Of course I added yet another pattern here with the tights, but I could just as easily have worn solid gray tights if I were less adventurous.

Though there's no black in the skirt, the floral pattern of the top ties in with the blue plaid, while the gray t-shirt and tights make sort of a midway transition point between the navy and black. This was the third of my conference outfits and another day of wearing flat shoes, which is all I brought with me on my trip last week.

T-shirt: H&M
Sheer top: Noa Noa
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: Target
Tights: Hue
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Incarnation

These shoes arrived last week after I found them for a steal of a price on Amazon; they're by Fly London and are remarkably comfortable even though they're not broken in yet. I'd had my eye on them for awhile, but Fly London is a pricey brand and I was hoping to snag them once they went on sale. The timing couldn't have been better; I wanted to bring a few pairs of flats to this week's conference, and these arrived just in time to make the trip.

The minidress is another old 90's romper that I had turned into a dress at my local tailor's. I never wore it all that much as a romper, which I guess is why it still looks like new. Why I didn't get rid of it years ago is a mystery, but I'm glad I didn't because I think it's much cuter, and much more wearable, in this new incarnation. It's short enough that I'm not really comfortable wearing it alone, which is why I decided to layer the tulle skirt underneath. This is a fun way to give minidresses a completely different look, since the skirt gives the outfit a long, lean, 1920's flair.

Shrug: Noa Noa
Minidress: vintage 90's
Skirt: Noa Noa
Shoes: Fly London

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conference Wear

I'm at a biotech conference in Seattle this week, and this is the first of 3 days' worth of conference wear (I photographed the outfits at home when I was packing -- how organized is that?). I decided to bring nothing but flat shoes, since I knew I'd probably be doing a fair amount of walking. Not only that, but I wanted to have a bit of variety in my footwear selections, and flats pack a lot more compactly than heels and boots.

Ironically, since I was here over the weekend I spent a lot of time with my good friends Jess and Lisa, and of course the first thing we did was to go shopping and buy shoes. As impressively light as I packed to come here, I'll now have to check a bag on the way home because of the new pairs. Ah well, it was worth it -- no amount of fabulous online deals can beat shoe shopping in a real shoe store with your best girlfriends.

Top: thrifted
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: Anthropologie
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This beautiful harness belt is one that Mark created recently for the Etsy shop. As soon as I tried it on I proclaimed that whomever tried to buy it would have to pry it from my cold, dead hands, until Mark assured me that he could simply make another one. Determined not to be foiled, I figured I'd better wear it straight away, just in case. Having secured my copy, I can assure you that this belt is in fact for sale, and you need not fear for your safety should you decide to order it.

The buckles on this belt are the same sort used in making halters for horses. By pairing the belt with the denim dress and boots, I played on the equestrian angle rather than taking this in a bondage-y direction, which might be crossing the line even in my anything-goes work environment. The belt is a deep chocolate brown, which pairs nicely with my well-worn riding boots. As a side note, the belt can also be made in black leather, with either nickel or antique brass hardware, and sized to order.

Ecru dress: Lady Language
Denim dress: thrifted
Pendant: Ice.com
Belt: Audra Jean
Boots: Bata

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Layers

I love the look of a sheer top over a button-down; it's one of my favorite ways to layer in the summer months without adding too much bulk. And as I've mentioned before, sheer garments add sexiness to an outfit even when they're only revealing areas that don't need to be covered anyway.

In this outfit, the sheer top is completely superfluous from a coverage point of view, and yet it brings a softness to the structured button-down and gives it a playful, lingerie sort of look. This is a great way to add a feminine touch to a even a conservative, corporate-worthy outfit. For more examples of sheer tops layered over button-downs, check out this post and this one.

Button-down: thrifted
Sheer top, belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Jeans: Dittos
Shoes: Born

Monday, June 22, 2009

Five in One

Oh, if only everything in my closet could be five garments in one. I'd only need to have, like, a hundred things! Check out this little flight suit carefully -- the arms come off, and the shorts come off, making it a full suit or a sleeveless one or a jacket or a vest. But the shorts can also be worn by themselves, for FIVE different options! The genius is astounding. I discovered this adorable suit at Five and Diamond a few months ago, and every time I stopped in I'd look at it and marvel at its adorableness. It wasn't until a couple of weekends ago that I actually got around to trying it on, and of course I was a goner once I did. The sales girl actually squealed when she saw how well it fit me. She's either truly genuine, or really, really good.

Flight suit (I'm not sure that's what it's really called, but that's what it looks like to me, and I don't think the proper word actually exists.): Shawna Hoffman
Shirt: Michael Stars
Tights: Noa Noa
Boots: Bata

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mr. T

When I had to put together this last-minute, assembled-in-the-morning outfit I resolved not to default to my standby blue and orange combo. Somehow I just couldn't let go of the orange though, so here it is paired with gray instead. In my own defense, it actually came about because I was wanting to layer a skirt under this dress, and this mod, circle-patterned skirt seemed like the perfect way to add a little springtime flair to the flat gray. Once I had those two pieces together the orange cardigan just made the most sense.

A found the necklace in a vintage store the last time I was in Seattle, but I have to admit I often don't know how to wear it. I'm no expert at rocking statement necklaces the way Sal is, so there have been several times I've tried to use it and thought it was just too much. I figured with the solid pieces it would stand out but not overwhelm, but just in case, I didn't wear any other jewelry lest I end up looking like Mr. T back in his A-Team days. Yeah, I know Mr. T wore gold, but still.

By the way, this skirt is actually a little too long to hit at the spot I wanted it to, so I actually wore a second elastic belt underneath the dress to hike the skirt up a little and keep it in place. This made for a very toasty midsection, but my skirt stayed put just above the knee.

Dress, belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Cardigan: e-klah
Skirt: I don't know; the label is gone
Boots: Mia

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Morning Inspiration

I intended to wear this outfit as shown here on the left. I had it all put together and hanging in my closet, and had even photographed it in advance. But in the morning as I sipped my coffee and flipped through an interior design magazine, I happened to come upon some unexpected inspiration:

I was immediately struck by how beautiful the silver and light blue looked together, and vowed to make use of that combo as soon as possible. Thinking over the contents of my wardrobe, I realized that one of the only light blue items I own is the very dress I was intending to wear that day. As it turned out, I also happened to have a silver obi belt lying around, an item I made a few weeks ago for the Etsy shop but haven't yet posted. What would be the harm in giving it a test run before putting it up for sale? And so, the modified outfit was born:

Rather than wrap the belt around and tie it in the front, I thought it was better to tie it in a big bow in the back. The belt is actually reversible, with a silver and black floral pattern on the other side. It has some stretch to it and is quite comfortable to wear, I'm happy to report. Look for it in the shop soon!

Dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Silver Belt: Audra Jean
Black Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Nude fishnets: Sock Dreams
Silver Shoes: Born
Black Shoes: BCBGirls

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I really love the vibrant and unexpected combination of purple and teal. With this outfit I decided to go for a colorblock effect, thus I used only solid-color pieces. The gray dress makes a nice neutral backdrop for the saturated colors and keeps them from sitting right next to each other. If it were a little cooler I could've added my cheeky peacock feather hat to strengthen the color combo, but spring isn't really a good time for thick felt hats, I'm afraid.

This cardigan is really versatile with its long flowing wings that can be tied in any number of interesting configurations. It was a real workhorse when I was traveling in Paris and Iceland last year, though oddly enough I haven't worn it all that much since I've been back.

Cardigan: S
Dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Boots: Fly London

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Case for Keeping Seldom-Worn Items

For this outfit I wanted to take this ruffled skirt in a different and less steampunk direction. As you can see I also wore my new Cydwoqs for the second day in a row, apparently in an attempt to rapidly drive down the price-per-wear. The gold finish of the shoes was just perfect for picking up the orange tones in the cropped cardigan, and the multitude of other colors in the cardigan made it possible to throw a teal tank top into the mix.

There's something about the proportions of this cardigan that make it tricky to wear, which is why I don't wear it very often. I've thought about altering in in some way, but I could never quite work out exactly what I would change. Eventually I decided to just let it be one of those seldom-worn items in my wardrobe that is nevertheless valuable to have on hand because of its ability to bring several different colors together. I don't like to have too many seldom-worn items in my closet, but the ones that I hang onto tend to have at least one of the following characteristics:

1. An unusual color mix. Just like with this cardigan, there are a few items I own that have such a unique blend of colors that I'll keep them around even though I don't wear them very often. When I do make use of one of my oddly-colored items, you can bet it'll be the one thing in the outfit on which everything else hinges. My long, zig-zag patterned top is another such item, and I also have some scarves that fall into this category.

2. A one-of-a-kind quality. There are a few things I own that are so distinctive that I don't need to wear them very often in order for them to have a big impact. Things like my patchwork boots or my vintage 60's dress come to mind. These are items that are fairly self-limiting because everyone remembers when you wear them, but if they're truly one-of-a-kind then they'll endure for years to come.

3. Filling a very specific niche. There are a couple of times when I thought, "I need something that's (specific color) and (specific length) and (specific other property). And man, that's a tall order when you've only got your own closet to browse through, isn't it? Any item I own that has ever fit the bill in that situation gets a free pass to stay around as long as it likes, even if it might only be those specific situations in which I wear it. A notable example is my brown tunic, which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for when I knew I wanted something brown, minidress-length, and drop-waist.

Do you have any other criteria for keeping those seldom-worn items?

Tank: Old Navy
Skirt: Skin Graft
Shoes: Cydwoq

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cydwoq Shoes

I'm back from a fantastic weekend in Austin, Texas. Despite the fact that we were wholly unprepared for how hot, and particularly how humid it was, Laura and I had a great time. Austin is a fun city with tons of live music, and unbeknownst to us we also happened to plan our visit the same weekend as a huge biker rally, which was quite a spectacle to behold. We stayed right in the heart of downtown and walked everywhere, and though it was draining because of the heat, my feet were at least well taken care of thanks to this new pair of Cydwoq shoes.
Coincidentally, the awesome Husband Mike did a post recently about Cydwoq shoes over on Sal's blog, and here they are getting featured on my blog as well. You may remember that Sal and Mike came to San Francisco a few months ago, and while they were here they told Mark and I about these fantastic shoes. Mark recently bought this pair, and has gone on about their comfort so many times that I finally resolved to get some for myself.

You might not guess, given the frequency with which I wear heels, that I actually suffer from a lot of problems with my feet (no doubt from wearing all those heels). For years now I've been searching for the perfect pair of super-comfy walking shoes, particularly ones that I can easily take with me when I travel, which is when my foot woes tend to afflict me the most. I wanted flat or low-heeled shoes that could be worn with jeans or skirts. Oh, and I also wanted them to be small and lightweight for easy packing. Miraculously, these Cydwoqs meet all my requirements. After wearing them several times now, I still can't get my head around the fact that I have no foot pain even after hours of walking.

I like how the crackle texture of the shoes accents the snakeskin pattern of the minidress. Though the shoes are quite a casual cut, I think the gold finish gives them just the right amount of dressiness to wear with skirts. Cheap they are most definitely not, but I have a feeling these shoes are going to be well worth the investment.

Hat: Noa Noa
Black drape-neck shirt: Sunhee Moon
Dress: thrifted
Belt: Sunhee Moon
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Shoes: Cydwoq
Jewelery: Betsey Johnson

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Mess With Texas

I'm taking a couple of days off to head down to Austin for the weekend with my dear friend Laura. While we're there we plan to enjoy some hot, sunny weather, go to some 'secret' swimming holes with my friend who lives there, check out some local music, and maybe even ride a mechanical bull. Hopefully none of our antics will qualify as 'messing with Texas,' because we certainly don't want any trouble.

See you next week,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tights vs. Leggings

I consider myself a very lucky blogger in that I rarely if ever get anything even remotely resembling a negative comment. But every once in awhile someone will respectfully chime in with a, "that item of clothing/cut of dress/color/etc. just isn't for me" type of observation, and it's sometimes this type of comment that ends up being the most thought-provoking and productive. Such was the case several days ago when one commenter mentioned that she finds leggings to be really unattractive (though of course saying it in the nicest possible way, as my readers are all awesome people who would never thoughtlessly hurl unkind words at me). And for the next few days I contemplated leggings, because in fact I used to be opposed to them myself and have only recently come around to wearing them the way I'm showing here.

The reason I've recently seen the light has everything to do with the weather here, as I've mentioned before. Leggings are one of the only ways I can achieve a more seasonally-appropriate look while not freezing to death or scaring my coworkers with my golfball-sized goosebumps. But I get why many people don't like them, I really do. On many figures they are leg-truncating and thigh-widening, two features that most women try desperately to avoid. But even for those of you who think it'll be a cold day in hell before you'd ever don a pair of these hideous things, I'm about to explain why you just might have a need for them in your wardrobe after all.

If you hate the chopped legs look of leggings, then forget about them for the warmer months, but consider them as a layering piece for winter wear. On really cold days you can layer a pair of long socks over them when wearing dresses and skirts, which gives you extra warmth while also covering the bottom of the leggings. But if you're just going to cover up the bottom hems, then why not just buy tights, you ask? Because oftentimes that extra layer means that your shoes won't fit comfortably, whereas with leggings you'll only have one layer that goes all the way into the shoes.

The other advantage of leggings is that they tend to be available in a wider variety of colors, patterns, and textures than tights. So although you may be relegated to wearing them only with boots, don't be so hasty to pass up that amazing silver lamé or Spiderman pair simply because they have no feet.

One last thing I'll point out: though leggings are frequently built a lot like pants, and are often thicker than their footed cousins the tights, they are still NOT PANTS.

Shirt: Target
Tunic: Forever 21
Waistcoat: Last Kiss
Pettipants, worn as shorts
Leggings: Kersh

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Japanese Punk Cowboy

There are some very disparate styles converging in this outfit; the western shirt, the punky plaid boots, and the obi-style belt. Because I was trying to make the outfit look cohesive and not create a mishmashed Japanese punk cowboy theme, I was careful in my selections so that the common thread that runs among the different pieces would be fairly obvious. To me it's really the belt that is the crux of making this outfit work. The green/brown combo relates the shirt to the skirt to the boots. The soft yellow color of the cardigan is picked up in thin stripes in the pattern of the boots. Each piece is reinforced, color-wise, with at least one other item in the outfit. Thus, there isn't one particular style that dominates the look and makes the other pieces seem out of place.

I think it's great to mix different styles together and create something completely unique. I love the look of a conservative suit paired with an edgy t-shirt, or a soft ruffled sundress with big chunky combat boots. It's one of the things that draws me to the steampunk aesthetic; I love the blending of Edwardian, Gothic, burlesque, vaudeville, Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic and futuristic elements. But when blending styles it's important to consider what the pieces have in common that unites them, otherwise the outfit will look haphazard and amateurish.

That said, don't be afraid to mix different items that you might assume don't go together stylistically. Chances are that the things in your wardrobe, if they're really you, have more similarities than they do differences. When you scan your closet looking for a top or a skirt or whatever, try to ignore the style and focus only on whatever quality is absolutely essential. For instance, when I started building this outfit I wanted to use the boots, so I decided I needed a shirt that would pick up the green in the boots' pattern. When I came across this one I grabbed it based solely on the color, and was intrigued with the combination. Once I had those two pieces, the rest was easy; I wanted a skirt that was short enough to reveal the entire length of the boots plus a little leg, and it needed to be a solid color. That narrowed my choices down considerably. Once I selected the skirt and was searching for something to put over the shirt, I knew I needed a softer color so as not to overwhelm the outfit with dark tones. The only possible choices were yellow or pink, and since I don't have a pink vest or short-sleeved cardi, the choice was made for me. The fact that I just happened to have the perfect belt with which to tie everything together was just one of those lucky coincidences.

Shirt: La Redoute
Cardigan: Solemio
Belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: Zara (I think; I bought it years ago)
Boots: Sugar

Monday, June 8, 2009


Here's a relatively simple approach to mixing colors: select two colors as the primary ones for your outfit, then use the shade that results from mixing the two primary colors together as your accent. Here I've chosen blue and green as my two primary colors, and blue-green, or teal, as my accent. The accent color compliments both of the primaries equally, while providing more interest to the outfit and keeping it from being too matchy. In this case, the teal color also made the look a little more seasonally-appropriate, since it brightened up the otherwise subdued color scheme of the outfit.

Lately I seem to have gotten over my previous aversion to letting the tops of my socks show. I guess I always considered the look to be too school-girlish, but I've found that wearing shorter socks instead of tights or thigh highs is a great way to keep your feet warm while still bearing some leg in the supposedly warmer months (I say supposedly because San Francisco isn't very warm at all in the spring or even summer, and yet we're still expected to dress as if it is). Surprisingly, these mid-calf socks had no trouble staying up all day with no extra tugging or adjustment needed. Since most of my sock collection is comprised of above-the-knees and thigh highs, I think an order to Sock Dreams may be in my near future.

Shirt: Target
Jacket: vintage
Skirt: thrifted
Socks: Sock Dreams
Shoes: John Fluevog

Friday, June 5, 2009


Who knew argyle was so versatile? Almost every time I've worn this little vest, I've paired it with another print. So far I've tried it with stripes, tartan, leopard print, plaid, and now an abstract floral. Inspired by Kasmira, I thought today I'd try my very first survey (hopefully the code will work and not screw up my post!) and ask you which of the pattern mixes you like best. Below are the other pattern mixes in which I've used this vest; vote for your favorite! Just in case the voting box doesn't work (I'm a little sceptical of it since it didn't show up in the preview pane), you can also vote by clicking this link.

Today's outfit:
Dress: Max Studio (thrifted)
Vest: A. Byer
Jacket: thrifted
Belt: Anne Klein
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

From left to right:
Cheeky (argyle with stripes)
It's a Wrap (argyle with tartan)
Wild Meets Mild (argyle with leopard print)
Nerd Girl (argyle with plaid)
Versatile (argyle with floral)

Which argyle pattern mix is your favorite?
It's a Wrap
Wild Meets Mild
Nerd Girl
pollcode.com free polls

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This outfit underwent several transformations before I finally settled on this one, but the ultimate outcome of the whole exercise was the decision that this skirt is just not right for my skin tone. The print is cute, but the color of the background somehow manages to be both obnoxiously garish and intensely bland on me at the same time. If it weren't for the leggings acting as a barrier between my pale complexion and the mint blue skirt, the outfit would have looked truly terrible. Thus, back to the thrift store it goes. I've only worn it one other time, but since it was originally a thrifted purchase anyway it comes in at about $1.75 per wear, and I can live with that.

The necklace, however, is totally a keeper. I bought it in Prague a couple years ago and wore it a few times before I broke one of the stones loose by dropping it. I set it aside in a box of things that needed repair and forgot all about it until a few weeks ago. All it took was a little epoxy and the necklace is as good as new. Because of where the pendant hangs it's a little challenging to wear with certain tops, but it makes a very strong statement with its large size and art nouveau style.

Top: Ann Taylor
Belt: Audra Jean
Cardigan: La Redoute
Skirt: thrifted
Leggings: Nouvella
Shoes: Seychelles

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One of a Kind

Today I thought I'd share an outfit from a recent Girls' Night Out with my friend Laura. I've mentioned this vest before, but this is the first time I've worn it. It was made by the amazing Tiina of Attila Designs by custom order. The silky fabric is a deep midnight blue with tiny pinstripes and olive green trim. I'm fairly certain that it will remain one of the few items I own that are strictly for wearing outside of work, but then I guess anything's possible. What do my readers think -- is it possible to dress this beauty down, or is it just too fancy to wear during the day?

The vest has a very clever design, with strategically-placed snaps that allow it to be converted into several different shapes. Bringing both sides straight up bustles it up around the thighs and shortens up the length in the back. Criss-crossing the ends makes the back of the vest even shorter and shifts the volume towards the hips. And then it can be done asymmetrically as well, with one side straight up or crossed over, and the other side down. For this outfit I ended up wearing both sides down because I thought it had the best proportion with the skinny jeans and boots. It also shows off the vest's lovely blue-gray lining, which gave a little contrast against the dark jeans.

Working with Tiina for the custom order was a lot of fun. She changed up some of the detailing from the original Etsy listing so that the vest would truly be one of a kind. One of the things she added was this little picture of the queen at the back of the neck, which I think is adorable. Now, exactly which queen is a mystery to me -- I'll admit I don't know too many of my monarchs by sight.
Shirt: Max Studio
Jeans: Joe's
Boots: Modern Vintage

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


With this outfit I decided to take my own advice and wear something I'd normally consider to be reserved for special occasions, or at least for outside of work. You might remember this dress from last December, when I wore it to my company holiday party. I haven't gotten around to trying it out as a work outfit until now, and I was inspired to do so because I feared that if I didn't do it now, I might have to wait for cooler temperatures to don a wool-blend dress with a boiled wool back panel. As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried -- a thick blanket of fog has since descended on the upper peninsula and it feels pretty much like winter in San Francisco. Still, I'm glad I finally pushed this dress through the work barrier, because it's just too pretty and unique to let sit in my closet until another holiday party.

The first thing I did to dress down the dress was to remove the wool wrap, which attaches via elastic loops to the small buttons that are visible around the neckline. Adding a simple t-shirt and low-heeled, equestrian-style boots gave it an even more casual look. Finally, I selected simple accessories and kept them to a minimum. The dress's fabric has a flat finish, which makes it easy to wear it during the day without having to hide most of it under additional layers. I love the tailoring around the waist and the gathered back hem, which gives the back an almost bustle-like appearance. I found this dress at a very cool shop called 2026 in the Marais neighborhood of Paris; I wish I could've brought half that store home with me, but I settled on just this one piece.

Dress: 2026
T-shirt: H&M
Tights: Hue
Boots: Bata