Friday, July 31, 2009


How does one get away with pairing a sequined top with a sexy pencil skirt at work? Well, I'm not really sure, because it seems I get away with everything I wear to that place. But this is what I tried, and here's why I think it worked.

The skirt. Though the wiggle shape of the skirt is sexy, its rather staid tweedy fabric and below-the-knee length keep it tame and classic. No way would I have paired this top with a miniskirt or any kind of shiny fabric. It's best to let your super flashy item be the only one in the outfit.

The waistcoat. Denim is a great way to make just about anything look more casual. Not only that, but the structure of the waistcoat gives the outfit a more suited feel; blazers are another great approach for casualizing flashy tops.

The accessories. I kept accessories to a minimum in this outfit and selected jewelry with antiqued finishes instead of polished ones. The shoes have a metallic finish, but even those have a soft sheen and are light on embellishment.

Tune in next week, when I'll feature the first-ever guest post from Mark! As you may well imagine, Mark is quite the stylish fella, and I've asked him to contribute from time to time with some perspectives on men's fashion. I'm certain you'll enjoy the post he's cookin' up. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Waistcoat: Promod
Top: vintage
Skirt: Banana Republic
Shoes: Born

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dress It Down

Well, you knew it had to happen at some point: I just wasn't going to be content with reserving this gorgeous vest solely for outside of work. It's way too pretty not to get regular use, so I went on a mission to figure out how to dress it down. The last time I posted an outfit with this vest, the comments were about 50/50 in terms of whether people felt it was too dressy for the office or not, so I'm curious to find out how well I did in my readers' opinions.

A suggestion from reader phantasnight was to try wearing the vest over a simple striped jersey dress, which I thought was a great idea. I don't have exactly such a dress, but I thought this navy and white floral was a fine substitute. The simple day dress makes a good casual backdrop for the vest, and with their matching shades of blue, the two almost look as though they were meant to be worn together. I added the scarf in order to bring out the olive green stripes of the vest and add a funky ethnic vibe. Finally, I wore low-heeled, combat-style boots to dress it down another notch.

If the reaction of my coworkers is any indication, I must have done alright, because nobody said a damn thing about the vest all day. So at the very least I've proven that it's not too dressy for my workplace; however, since I could probably show up for work in a tutu and a top hat without getting any sort of reaction, I realize that's not saying much.

Scarf: local import store
Vest: Attila Designs
Dress: Noa Noa
Tights: Foot Traffic
Boots: Doc Martens

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Among the Very Tall

Wearing a dress over jeans is not something I normally do; in fact, this may be the first time I've ever tried it. I've always considered the look to be reserved for tall women, and at 5'8" I don't consider myself to be among the very tall. Why I was inspired to give it a try with this outfit is anyone's guess, but I think it works, although for my proportions I think it would look a bit better if the dress were about an inch shorter.

So why is the dress/jeans combo so successful for the very tall? It's all about playing with proportions, and for taller women this generally means avoiding anything that elongates your already long legs, which in turn makes you look even taller (although why that's a bad thing is a mystery to me -- I'd love to be a full 6 feet, and you can bet I'd still wear towering heels if I were).

In this outfit, the wide belt helps to bring definition to the waist rather than letting the eye get lost in the long expanse of dress pattern. Note how the positioning of the belt divides me into three roughly equal parts: shoulders to waist, waist to bottom of dress, and bottom of dress to the end of the legs. Meanwhile, the jeans define where my legs end, whilst the rounded toes and contrasting color of the shoes keep them from adding length to my legs. The length of the dress is also key; very long or very short hemlines tend to exaggerate height in tall women, whilst a mid-length serves to balance the proportions of the legs to the torso.

Since I'm not actually that tall, I chose 3.5" heels to wear with this, because otherwise I felt like this outfit would have made my legs look stumpy. However, someone who's over 5'9" would probably want to stick with a lower heel to maintain the correct proportions. Unless, of course, you're like me and would welcome with delight an opportunity to tower over your friends and colleagues like a looming giant. In that case I suggest you buy a micro miniskirt and wear it with these:

Dress: Diane von Furstenberg
Hat: San Diego Hat Co.
Belt: Audra Jean
Jeans: Joe's
Shoes: Faryl Robin
Looming Giant Fantasy Shoes: John Fluevog

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Separated at Birth

Oh, the perfect harmony that exists between this ruffle-trimmed t-shirt and this tank dress! Behold, the way the straps of the dress neatly disappear beneath the ruffles, as if the two pieces were actually one! Marvel at the way the soft gray of the t-shirt so perfectly frames the beautiful detailing of the cream-colored dress! Yes, these two pieces were meant to go together, ladies and gentlemen. Truly they were twins, separated at birth.

Counteracting the gloriousness of finding the perfect shirt to wear with this dress is the sad, sad fact that this beloved pair of tights is on its last legs (no pun intended). They've got a hole in the foot, they're getting threadbare, and they're starting to pill. Soon they'll have to go in the bin, and I'm loathe to part with them because I haven't found an acceptable replacement yet. I've searched high and low to no avail. I figure I can get maybe one or two more wears out of them tops, and then from here on out I'm just screwed. Perhaps I'll need to run off and join the circus, or at least move to a warm enough climate that I don't need tights at all.

For my friends in Seattle though, I have some good news. This gorgeous upcycled, vintage slip-turned-into-a-skirt is from one of your local designers, the delightful Gunlis. More of her gorgeous creations can be had at several boutiques around town; I found this skirt a few weeks ago at the Fremont Fair during my trip to Seattle, where I was fortunate enough to chat with Gunlis and buy not only this skirt but a couple of pairs of pettipants and a camisole as well. The skirt is trimmed with pleated tulle and accented with a satin flower and black feather. It doesn't replace the failing tights, but certainly it's the perfect flourish to punctuate the shirt/dress combo.

Shirt: H&M
Dress: Lady Language
Tights: Noa Noa
Skirt: Glam Garb by Gunlis
Socks: Sock Dreams
Shoes: John Fluevog

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pony Hair

I've had this top for a couple of years now, but I'm pretty sure this is the first I've ever worn it to work. Until now I've reserved it mainly for evenings out, because with the embellished butterfly applique it just has that feel to it. I've also taken it with me the last couple of Christmases I've spent down in Mexico, and it's brilliant on a warm, breezy evening at the beach when paired with a flowy skirt and sandals, and this same scarf loosely-tied as a belt.

With this outfit I found a way to make the top work for the office by covering the delicate spaghetti straps with the long cardigan, and holding everything together with the casual belt. I intentionally left the end of the belt flopping out to give it a more relaxed look. I didn't want the outfit to veer into the realm of club wear, particularly since I was also wearing 4-inch leopard print pony hair pumps.

I'll confess that when I pulled these shoes out of the closet the other day, I had to pause for a moment as I realized that I really had no idea exactly what "pony hair" is. I knew that it's the furry leather used in making shoes and handbags and such, but I honestly felt a little bit of a sinking feeling at the thought that this stuff might be made from actual ponies. So I Googled it. Turns out it's made from calf skin -- whew! An adorable baby cow instead of an adorable tiny horse. That's so much better.

Scarf: Banana Republic
Cardigan: Max Studio
Top: Sisley (Benetton)
Belt: Lucky Brand
Jeans: Level 99
Shoes: Saks Fifth Avenue

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Chance

I'm going to come clean here. I bought this dress at a thrift store several months ago and in doing so I ignored many of the very same suggestions I gave to you just the other day. It didn't really fill any gaping hole in my wardrobe, and more importantly I didn't exactly love it. But you see, it was months ago, and I hadn't yet learned how to scrutinize my thrift store purchases so carefully. So consequently, I wasn't terribly excited about this dress when I brought it home.

Determined to give it a rigorous test, I pulled the dress out a few nights ago and found to my surprise that it looks and feels GREAT. The cut is incredibly flattering, and the black trim makes it the perfect starting point for a navy/black combo, which is one of my favorites. So why on earth have I only worn it one other time? I think I must have convinced myself at some point that it was only okay, and ever since then I've passed it by, thinking it just wasn't interesting enough to bother with. Amazing what can happen when you allow yourself to become predjudiced against items in your wardrobe. If it hadn't been for Sal's inspiring me to try a blazer/dress combo, it might have been many more months still before I gave this dress another chance.

The dress isn't anything particularly special, really. It's just a simple, navy knit dress with a couple of well-positioned darts and a black neckline and cuffs. It's made by Converse All Star for pete's sake. Yeah, you heard me. But holy smokes, what a perfect fit -- if I hadn't been trying to play up the navy/black combo I could've easily gone without a belt and had plenty of waist definition, which isn't so easy for me to pull off with a solid-color dress, let alone one made of drapey jersey. As you can probably tell, I'm now pretty stoked about my thrift store find and am resolved to wear it more often. It'll be great for warm weather (assuming we ever get any more) with bare legs and my adorable Simple sneakers for a casual weekend look.

Scarf: Banana Republic
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Boots: Doc Marten's

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This isn't exactly how I wore this outfit to work; I went hatless during the work day and put the hat on later to meet Laura and her father-in-law for a couple of drinks after work. I felt the hat was a little too showy for the office, but it was great fun for an evening out.

I made this hat several months ago and finished trimming it only last weekend. Sometimes hats have to sit around a little while before they're quite ready to be trimmed; each has its own personality that doesn't always reveal itself right away. The idea of a bowler style for women is something I've been playing with since I first started making hats, and I even have a couple in the shop, but this is the first I've done where I added a hat pin. I also made the hat pin myself; this is a new craft I've taken up recently that I'm having a lot of fun with. I like the way the pin and the feathers give an elegant touch to what is otherwise a casual, daytime men's style. The band is made from a vintage necktie.

This is the first time I've worn this vest and skirt combo, though I bought them together with the intention of wearing them this way. The length of the vest is just right for the high-waisted skirt, and the two of them together certainly have the steampunk aesthetic that I've been drawn to lately. The whole outfit with the hat has sort of a carny vibe, most likely inspired by my recent addiction to the now-defunct HBO series Carnivàle. Mark got me hooked on it and we've spent the last few weeks devouring the entire series via Netflix.

Top: H&M
Vest: Heathen
Skirt: Skin Graft
Shoes: John Fluevog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I always feel very elfin when I wear this dress, but never more so than when I put it on with these little boots. The flippy hairstyle accentuated the effect, I think.

The boots were purchased a couple of weeks ago after a several-months' quest for Cydwoq boots. After I bought my gold flats, I knew I wanted a more enclosed style, but I really wanted to wait until just the right pair came along. I'd looked at several styles online but wanted to see them in person and maybe try on a few pairs. As luck would have it, a recent Girls' Night Out found me standing in front of Bulo shoe store with 15 minutes to spare before I was due to meet my friend Laura. The newest arrivals had just come in that week, and these boots immediately called out to me. They look black in these photos but are in fact a rich purple that is more intense around the edges of the seams. They look great with both skirts and pants, and will be just perfect for traveling.

Interestingly, my other pair of Cydwoqs made their debut on the blog when paired with this very same dress. It could be coincidence, or perhaps it's a little bit of elfin magic.

Shirt: H&M
Dress: vintage
Scarf: local import store
Belt: Audra Jean
Tights: Foot Traffic
Shoes: Cydwoq

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Sorry for my absence yesterday; I've been sick and have gotten a little behind with my posting. Nothing is worse than being sick in the summertime, although with the sudden onset of cold, foggy weather, it feels just as wintry outside as I felt on the inside all weekend. This outfit is from last week, when it was significantly warmer in the Bay Area.

For this outfit I started with the contrasty combination of teal and red, and offset all the bright color with accents of gray. I just love the look of the funky, well-worn cowboy boots with the precise, boxy skirt and tailored, belted jacket. This skirt, by the way, is the perfect length to reveal my Memento Mori tattoo exactly the way I intended: barely peeking out when I'm standing, but fully visible when I'm sitting with legs crossed. According to my tattoo artist, girls in the 1920's used to get tattoos in the same spot just above the knee for that very same reason. And here I thought the placement of the tattoo was sort of original.

Tank top: American Eagle
Jacket: Crystal Candy
Belt: from an F21 top
Skirt: Anthropologie
Boots: vintage

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lest I Forget

Here's that long skirt worn as a dress that I talked about the other day; I was inspired to wear it after I wrote that post. It looks absolutely terrible on me as a skirt, but I love it this way; the fullness at the bottom looks great with a fitted top half. The vest brought in the loose-fitting top portion of the skirt (otherwise it would look like a big tent on me), and the belt kept the skirt from slipping down during the day. I strengthened the blue/black combination by adding the black necklace, hat, and shoes.

Reader Becca pointed me to this wonderful necklace from Etsy seller Untamed Menagerie. It's made of black, precision-cut acrylic and couldn't be more perfectly suited to my style. I think between this necklace and my newest tattoo, I'm not going to be forgetting my own mortality any time soon.

Vest: Guess
Skirt: Ralph Lauren
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Shoes: Sofft

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I hope everyone found my Buyer's Remorse posts informative. As you may have noticed lately, I'm trying to add some meatier content to the blog instead of just describing my daily wear. I love all the discussion that gets generated around my more in-depth posts, and many of your comments are very helpful for me as well. I'd love to hear from all of you for suggestions on topics you'd like me to cover, so feel free to stop in and make a request. I've already got one future post rolling around in my head, which is Sal's request for a tutorial on layering skirts. I haven't forgotten, Sal!

On to today's outfit. I'm going to go out on a limb and state that a drape-neck (aka cowl neck) cut looks great on everybody. They are flattering to larger busts because they soften the look of, well, that big 'ol bust sticking out. The look is sexy without being sleazy, and the cowl also adds a slimming V shape down your middle. But this cut is also great for small busts like mine, because the cowl fills in the gap in between your boobs and makes it look like you've got more up top. I just love this shape, and I'd recommend it for anyone -- provided the rest of the garment flatters you below the bust.

This outfit is a modern take on a very retro silhouette. Normally I would pair this dress with a contrasting belt, but I wanted to keep this look simple, long and lean. The end result is unfussy, and looks every bit as comfortable as it is. If it weren't for the heels, I would've felt like I was wearing my pj's all day.

Shirt: Target
Dress: Skunkfunk
Skirt: ??
Shoes: Paolo

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Buyer's Remorse, Part II

Today I'd like to talk about strategies for avoiding the dreaded buyer's remorse in our clothing purchases. I'll start out with a disclaimer: I'm by no means perfect when it comes to sticking to these strategies 100% of the time. Often I've discovered in retrospect that if only I'd taken one of these approaches, I probably wouldn't own this or that item that I'm not perfectly happy with. So I'll share these tips not only for you, but also for myself, so that I might better cement the ideas more firmly in my own head.

Having items in your closet that you regret buying is a curse. You paid for it, you're stuck with it, and you never wear it. Or you wear it out of guilt and feel awkward and uncomfortable when you do. Assuming you can't employ one of the strategies I discussed yesterday, you really have no option but to get rid of it and at least spare yourself the further misery of having it mocking you every time you open your closet. But here are some tools you can use while shopping that might help you to avoid making that regrettable purchase at all:

1. Sleep on it. Unless the item you're considering is the last one in your size and has sold out rapidly, chances are that you can go home and think about it for 24 hours and it'll still be there when you come back. Many shops will even hold an item for a day while you consider whether you really want to buy it. Even going away for an hour or two while you browse other shops can do wonders for your perspective. If it's an online purchase, put it in your cart and log off for a day. More than once I've found that the next day I don't even remember to log back on, and by the time I do remember a week later, the item doesn't seem that spectacular anymore. If you're still thinking about it the next day and are just itching to get back on the site and make sure no one has snapped up your treasure, then it's probably a solid purchase.

2. Make sure it fills an unmet need. No matter what, there will always be cute things in the stores. But the fact is that you do not need to have every permutation of every type of garment in every color, and that's a great thing to remind yourself when you're contemplating what could turn out to be a superfluous purchase. Just the other day I stopped myself from even considering an adorable navy dress, because I already have one. It doesn't matter that the dress I have is a casual jersey style and the one I was looking at was a tailored cotton one; I simply do not need two solid navy dresses, because in the end they're not really all that different.

3. A great deal is not always a great deal. Oh, if I could have only learned this one last year, before I got caught up in thrifting fever. I can't tell you how many things I bought because they were a 'great deal' that are frankly not all I could wish for. So before you snap up that $2.99 top, take a moment to ask yourself if you'd be so excited about it if it were full price. Would you even consider it then? Also ask yourself if it is really and truly YOU, whether it's as flattering as it should be, and if it'll be just as treasured as your favorite items. Also, does it fill that specific niche in your wardrobe? Several months ago I bought an adorable orange skirt for a few bucks at Goodwill, only to get it home and remember I've already GOT an orange skirt that I love. Why do I need another one, even for a steal of a deal? Buying things you don't need is still a waste of money whether the cost is $2 or $200, so apply the same scrutiny to sale and thrift purchases that you would to any other.

4. Make some specific rules. This relates to #2 above, and is an extra way to ensure unnecessary duplication in your wardrobe. I recently told myself that if I buy another coat, it can only be a navy blue one. Period. I will not consider buying anything else, because I already have more than enough coats. But more than once I've wished I had one in navy, and so right now that's my sole option when considering coats. This type of specific rule is far more easily followed than a blanket rule about shopping less or not buying any more shoes for awhile. There are going to be times when you come across something so wonderful and unique that you'll kick yourself later if you don't buy it. So buy it, and don't regret it. But having a few hard and fast, specific rules that will help to guide your choices is a great way to ensure that you don't buy something that's essentially already in your closet, which is a sure way to end up with buyer's remorse.

5. Be careful with lists. Believe it or not, I find that having a list of things I 'need' to buy actually promotes shopping for things I don't need. The problem occurs when I have something too specific in mind: I search endlessly and in vain for it, and out of boredom and frustration end up buying other things just to fill the void left by the item I can't locate. The other contributing factor is the sheer number of shops I'll hit in my quest for that perfect thing, which of course just exposes me to all sorts of other lovely things. So these days I try to avoid keeping any sort of a must-have list, except for exclusionary rules like I mentioned above. Telling myself that I can only buy a coat if it's navy blue is a whole lot more productive than scouring every boutique in San Francisco in search of the ideal navy coat. If you have problems keeping your shopping in check, then I think it's best not to let yourself become convinced that you 'need' anything too specific, because the fact is that many other items will probably fill the gap in your wardrobe just as well. So rather than tell yourself that you need a knee-length, red pencil skirt to go with a particular top, simply wear the top when you're out shopping and try on anything you think might go with it. It's great to have goals when you shop, but try to keep an open mind, too.

6. Set some price limits on specific items. For me there are some things that are only worth so much money, period. I don't care what designer label is slapped on it or how cool the graphic design is, a t-shirt is still a t-shirt, and there's only so much I'm willing to pay for one. There are other items that essentially have no ceiling (though of course I still nix things that I truly can't afford, or that just aren't worth the price), depending on how well it's crafted and how much I love it: coats, shoes, and dresses are all in this category. But I really draw a hard line for items such as tees, sweaters, and jeans -- tees and sweaters because they have a limited life span, and jeans because I simply don't wear them for much besides super-casual weekend outfits. Where you set that upper price limit is up to you, but sticking to it means that you won't end up with what you consider to be overpriced items in your wardrobe.

7. Don't be afraid to return it. For heavens sake, if you're contemplating a purchase that you're not wholeheartedly convinced you should make, take a moment to find out what the store's return policy is. Once you get your item home, try it out and see if you can wear it at least 2 or 3 different ways; this will ensure that you'll actually wear it and not leave it to languish. Finally, if you decide you don't want it, return it as quickly as possible. Waiting only increases the chances that you won't return it at all. I think it's great to go out on a limb sometimes and buy clothes that might push our boundaries, but it's also important to be realistic about what you'll have the guts to wear and what you won't.

8. How much do you really love it? Staples such as layering tees aside, you should LOVE the items you buy. Don't buy it just because you need to replace your ratty black sweater and this one is okay and you're tired of looking and it isn't really your size but it's on sale and oh well, it's good enough. No! It is NOT good enough. There are plenty, PLENTY of beautiful things out there and somewhere is the one that's just right for you. So please, don't settle.

9. Give yourself permission to buy without guilt. This sounds weird, but stay with me. You've found something wonderful that takes your breath away; sure, you can afford it but maybe it exceeds what you would typically spend on yourself, particularly for one item. But you've applied all the litmus tests I described above and you've made the decision that yes, you really and truly do love it and want it. So decide then and there that if you're going to go through with it, you will not feel one little bit guilty about it later. Allow yourself to relish in your treasure and enjoy it to the fullest extent. Decide that even if someone close to you were to make a snide comment about how expensive your item looks, you'll simply smile and say, "Yep, I treated myself this time." Unless you've already got a closet full of mink coats and designer gowns, chances are that you own a lot of sensible, carefully-considered garments and a few decadent ones. And shouldn't we all be allowed our moments of decadence? You only live once, and you might as well look fabulous doing it.

Hat: Parkhurst
Dress: an oldie from the 90's, shortened
Skirt: thrifted
Shoes: Sofft
Scarf: Banana Republic

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Buyer's Remorse, Part I

Over the weekend Mark asked me if I ever have any buyer's remorse about the clothing items I own, and I spent the rest of the day turning the question over in my head. It was a good exercise, I think, because it got me thinking about the lasting effects of the choices we make with our shopping. Sure, there's the financial impact that's fairly immediate. Who hasn't made a decadent impulse buy and left the store with a knot in the stomach and a vague sense of guilt? But what about the longer term effects? How do we deal with those items lingering in the closet that we wish we hadn't bought?

When I thought about the things I really regret purchasing, surprisingly few of them turned out to be those big splurges. Most of them were things that either don't fit right, are uncomfortable, or that simply don't get worn very often for whatever reason and that I have to force myself to try to incorporate. The guilt over the expensive purchases subsides fairly quickly once the credit card bill is paid, provided I actually wear whatever it is. So in the final analysis, it is not about how much the item cost, it's about how much benefit I'm getting out of owning it.

The question, then, is what do we do about those regrettable purchases? Rather than simply dumping the item at the nearest Goodwill, are there ways to turn buyer's remorse into pride of ownership? These are a few I came up with:

1. Alteration. I've had sleeves taken in, hemlines shortened, armholes made larger, and all sorts of other modifications to make clothes more comfortable and workable. If there's a garment you regret owning because you're not wearing it, consider whether an alteration might help you get more use out of it. This extends beyond just modifications to the fit; you can dye clothing, remove or add embellishments, change the buttons, or whatever else you can dream up. If you can figure out exactly what it is about the garment that makes it a regrettable choice, chances are that you can fix it.

2. Swapping. I tend to run between a size 8.5 and 9 shoe; as a result I often end up with shoes that seem fine at first and later end up being too large or, more often, too small. I have to admit that historically I've tended to want the look of a smaller shoe, and as a result I'm plagued with more than one pair that kill my feet by the end of the day. The worst such offenders were my adorable gray and teal flats, which I foolishly kept because I thought they'd stretch out. Since by the time I figured out that they were a lost cause it was too late to return them, I was stuck with a practically new pair of shoes I couldn't wear. Thankfully, my good friend Jess runs about half a size smaller than me, so the last time she was in town I asked her to try them out, and on her they fit and felt great. And then guess what happened? When I was in Seattle she had a pair of shoes that was half a size too large -- the shoes I've got on in this outfit, to be exact. Sloppy and blister-inducing on her, they are comfy perfection on me. Both of us ended up with a pair of shoes we can actually wear, and none of the guilt of either casting out a perfectly good pair or leaving it neglected and unworn in the closet. As The Godfather said, "Keep your friends close, and your friends that are about half a shoe size different from you closer." Or something like that.

3. Reducing your price-per-wear. OK, so maybe this seems obvious, but if you've got an item that haunts you because it was expensive and you rarely wear it, you can always just wear it more. I've previously discussed the idea of putting your special items into every day rotation (here's an example of it in action), and this is a tactic I use to soften the blow of that empty bank account that follows a splurge. OK, so I paid a lot for a pair of boots, now what am I gonna do about it? Wear them, that's what. I'll wear them so much that two things happen: one, I convince myself that they were worth every penny; two, the price per wear decreases dramatically and puts them on a par with the other things in my closet. I've owned a $3.50 thrift store skirt I wore all of twice and a decadent $350 pair of boots I've worn countless times; at this point they're probably close to equal in terms of the price per wear. Not only that, but the skirt has been tough to work with and looks only so-so, while the boots still look gorgeous and are a dream to wear, so which was really the better value?

4. Wearing it in a different way. Right, so you jumped on the maxi skirt trend only to realize 2 months down the road that maxi skirts look dreadful on you. You could have the skirt shortened, as I mentioned above, or you could try wearing it as a dress. I've done just that with a long skirt, as has gorgeous S from Academichic and probably countless others as well. A button-down shirt can be worn as a jacket, a short-sleeved top can be worn as a vest, a minidress can be worn as a tunic. Before you dismiss an item as being unusable and begin your cycle of regret over buying it, consider if you could style it in a different way that would make it more flattering. Is the hem too short? Try layering a longer skirt underneath. Is the shape too shapeless? Why not add a belt? Restyling your items can also push them beyond a trend and make them a longer-term staple in your wardrobe.

So how about you? Do you have any cases of buyer's remorse? What are you doing about it? Tune in tomorrow, when I'll discuss shopping strategies to avoid ever having buyer's remorse in the first place!

Jacket: vintage
Dress: Target
Shoes: BC Footwear

Monday, July 13, 2009

Built for Comfort

This outfit was all about comfort. I'd been up late and on my feet for many hours the night before, and all I wanted was an unfussy outfit with nothing constricting me anywhere, no periodic tugging or adjusting to be done, and a soft, cozy pair of shoes. Thankfully this one was of the pre-planned outfits hanging in my closet. My workday was one of uncomplicated, maintenance-free bliss with this fun A-line minidress and sneakers.

If I'm not mistaken, this may be the first pair of sneakers ever to make an appearance on this blog. I found this pair during my Seattle trip a couple of weeks ago, and though I'm not much of a sneakers wearer, I couldn't resist the fun colors and feminine look of these. Of course I added some obligatory skulls to offset all the girly cuteness of this outfit.

And what was it that kept me out late and on my feet the night before? Mark and I took a little trip down memory lane at the Duran Duran show at the Fillmore. The last time I saw them was in 1986 at the Oakland Coliseum, and happily, I think we're all still holding up pretty well. As a bonus that evening, I was also recognized by one of my readers, who I ran into outside the show on the way to line up. We didn't properly introduce ourselves, but it was fun to meet you, whoever you are! Thank you for stopping me and saying hello!

Dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Leggings: Kersh
Shoes: Simple
Pin: Devout Dolls
Bracelet: Betsey Johnson

Friday, July 10, 2009

Floral Over Stripes

Last week I paired a floral pattern with plaid; this time I'm showing you how to pair a floral with stripes. In last week's example, the floral was the simpler of the two patterns, whereas here it's the busier one. In both cases the two patterns have some overlap in the color scheme, but not entirely.

With this combination, the only true color match is the black, but the green and brown shades in the top relate well enough to the olive stripes in the bloomers that the two pieces go together without having to match. They have that great formula of 2 different colors plus the combination of both: here I have brown, green, and brownish-green. Another example of this approach to color is shown here.

I selected this short-sleeved jacket as an intentional contrast to the bloomers. The jacket has a structured, business-like look, while of course the bloomers are irreverent and fun. If I replaced this very suit-like jacket with my cropped leather one, I'd have quite a good steampunk look that could transition right into evening.

Jacket: BCBG Max Azria
Top: Mica
Bloomers: Wild Card
Shoes: John Fluevog

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I felt so very girly in this flouncy sheer dress and soft pink tulle skirt. Even the hat has a soft, fuzzy texture that goes so well with the pretty floral print and feminine color palette.

This dress is actually quite tricky to style, but I randomly hit upon this combination with relatively little effort. I've attempted to create outfits around it before, but if something isn't working after 2 or 3 tries, I'll put it back in the closet and wait until I'm inspired to give it another shot; that has been the case the last few times I tried to use this dress. It's great to force yourself to try working with those difficult pieces in your closet, but it's also good not to spend so much time on one outfit that you end up too frustrated to ever use the piece again.

I think what makes this dress troublesome is the shape. The flare of the bottom hem really demands something with some volume underneath, so many of the dresses and skirts I've tried to layer it over don't work. The next time you see this dress it will likely be layered over yet another tulle skirt; thankfully there are 3 more in the closet that I haven't yet paired it with. To see how I styled it previously, click here.

Hat: Monsoon
Dress: vintage
Skirt: Noa Noa
Belt: import store
Shoes: John Fluevog

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Belting for Proportion

Here's a similar belt trick to the one I showed yesterday, this time with an empire cut top. In this case the top is quite flattering by itself because of the way the drape of the fabric follows my figure, but for this outfit I needed to bring more emphasis to the waist in order to change the proportions of the outfit. Without the belt, the length of the top made my lower half look truncated. The belt brings some contrast to the top half and divides up the long stretch of black; it also relates the top half of the outfit to the bottom.

I thought the green shoes were a fun and unexpected splash of summery color. Since the recent cold weather necessitates leg coverings, I'm trying to compensate by bringing in other seasonal pieces such as open-toed shoes. The fresh green color is also a way to brighten up the somber maroon and black.

Top: Max Studio
Belt, skirt: Sunhee Moon
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This dress always requires at least one additional layer in order for me to wear it, since the top is way too low-cut for work, or really for anywhere. But the cut is precisely what makes it great for showing off a detailed neckline, such as the one on this cute little ruffled shirt. So here we have a case of perfect symbiosis: the dress hides the rest of the otherwise ordinary t-shirt, while the t-shirt hides all sorts of things that would be revealed by the dress.

The other modification I made to this dress was to use this wide obi-style belt to move my waistline down a little. The dress is a classic empire cut, with the smallest part just under the bust, and pleated out from there. This, however, is not my best cut, because the smallest part of me is not around my ribcage, but at my natural waist. Adding the belt extends that smallest section of the dress, flattening the pleats down until they're beyond my smallest section.

All of this discussion of my obi trick has served to remind me that I've been incredibly remiss in directing you to the guest post about belts that I wrote for Sal's wonderful blog. She asked me to write it many months ago and it was posted at the beginning of June. Oops.

I should also mention that these are another of the new pairs of shoes I brought home from my Seattle visit the week before last. I had seriously considered this exact shoe last year when I was searching for a pair of brown mary janes, but given the price and my inexperience with the brand I opted not to buy them online. When I spotted them in the shoe store and was able to try them on in person, of course I couldn't resist. And since I no longer needed a pair of brown mary janes, the fact that they also come in burgundy sealed the deal.

Shirt: H&M
Dress: Crystal Candy
Obi: Sunhee Moon
Shoes: Naot

Monday, July 6, 2009

Corset Top

I hope all my friends in the US had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. If you'd like to see a little of what I was up to, take a peek in the Etsy shop. Some more of Mark's amazing creations will be posted soon; he's been very busy as well, and has crafted some real masterpieces.

I originally bought this top specifically to wear underneath my Dark Garden corset, but since I have yet to wear the corset (which I don't even have a good excuse for), the top has hung in the closet unworn as well. It wasn't until I pulled it out to use for modeling some of Mark's belts for the shop that I was inspired to wear it to work. Putting it over this ecru dress seemed like a perfect way to downplay all the lace and make it more office-appropriate. The skirt added just the right amount of length to the hemline, while I offset all the girlieness of the lace and pink by adding plenty of skulls.

Top: Dark Garden
Dress: Lady Language
Skull scarf: Duke et Duchess
Belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: Lemon Twist
Socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: Bata
Skull bracelet: Betsy Johnson