Friday, January 29, 2010
During a meeting at work that day, I looked up from taking notes and noticed someone looking at my rings. An appreciative, laughing smile and knowing looks were exchanged; turns out there are some cool people in this place after all, at least cool enough to admire fantastic, cheeky jewelry.
This dress is great for layering because its soft, sheer texture allows it to drape really well over a skirt. With this outfit I added a long-sleeved t-shirt for warmth, and the cape-jacket for shaping and to balance out the fullness of the skirt. The blend of subtle blue shades and neutrals is great for winter, but I'm also looking forward to how I can style this dress with brighter colors when the weather is warmer.
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Dress: All Saints
Skirt: Noa Noa
Boots: All Black
Rings: Wendy Brandes
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I'm very excited about this sweater, which I picked up at Goodwill last weekend for $4.49. I'd been wanting a boyfriend-style slouchy cardigan, but somehow I just couldn't bring myself to pay new-clothes prices for an article of clothing that essentially looks like it's too big for me. So instead I thrifted this sweater which actually IS a couple sizes too big for me; it has the extra-long sleeves and the slightly baggy look I wanted, while still looking like it's designed for a woman's figure. Plus the cable pattern is just so pretty, and being 100% cotton the sweater is also extremely soft. Thrifting for trends is something that Sal has posted about quite a bit, but this was really the first time I've actively (as opposed to accidentally) done it myself. Check out Sal's advice on thrifting for trends here, and here.
This outfit, with the teal and gray skirt combo, is the one I alluded to on Monday, and I was really happy with it when I walked out the door. By the end of the day though, I got the sneaking suspicion that I should've gone with a long silver necklace instead of the scarf, or else lost the hat. Something about the scarf combined with the long skirts, drapey cardigan, and turban-esque hat made me feel very gypsy fortune teller, which I'm not so sure is such a good thing. But boy, this outfit sure was comfy and warm, and who knows, maybe I could've made some easy cash reading palms in the cafeteria?
"Origami" Hat: Alternative Design Studio
Scarf: Urban Outfitters
Gray skirt: S
Teal skirt: LA Made
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Tights: Noa Noa
Boots: All Black
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Long socks over leggings is a staple for me in the winter, because while the combination keeps my legs warm under skirts and dresses, it doesn't make the foot section too thick to fit in my shoes. This was especially important for these boots, which have absolutely no extra wiggle room.
Hoodie: La Redoute
Dress: Orla Kiely
Socks & leggings: Sock Dreams
Boots: from Scoop in Copenhagen
Monday, January 25, 2010
This outfit is made up of two skirts underneath the sweatshirt. The gray skirt has a folded waistband that I simply unfolded and hiked up like a strapless dress; the sweatshirt kept the skirt from falling down. This had to be one of the comfiest outfits ever, since all the layers were stretchy and soft, with no constriction anywhere. I liked the combination of casual and dressier elements in this outfit, and I loved the feel of it so much that I decided to remix this skirt combo again for a work outfit, which I'll be posting in a couple of days. I've also worn this configuration before, in this outfit.
Sweatshirt: NHL Store
Grey skirt: S
Teal skirt: LA Made
Boots: Modern Vintage
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Comment #122, Michi! Congratulations!
Michi, please contact me either via my email (in my profile) or via the Etsy shop, and we can figure out what sort of hat I'll make for you. Thanks again to everyone who participated, and thanks for making blogging a fun and interactive experience!
Friday, January 22, 2010
The thought of wearing this garment as a dress is laughable; between the ridiculously short length and the huge scoop neck, I'd be defying so many fashion rules that I'd probably be committing a felony in several states. Nope, for me it's a tunic, thanks. For this outfit I scrunched up the bottom to make it sit a bit higher; the jersey fabric of the skirt helped to hold the tunic in place.
Blazer: Victoria M. Ortiz
Dress/tunic: Free People
Boots: Modern Vintage
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I first "met" Sal via blogging in the last half of 2008, and was thrilled to get to meet her in real life when she and her awesome husband Mike came to visit last April. I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that they were wonderful house guests, and generously brought me not only a basket of fantastic Minnesota-themed goodies, but also a couple of Mike's beautiful photos. Mark and I had a lot of fun getting to know Sal and Mike, as well as helping Sal to rediscover San Francisco after her not-so-happy experience of living here several years ago. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that one day they'll move out here and give it another shot, though Sal has steadfastly maintained that it isn't for her.
In person, Sal is every bit as sweet and wonderful as you'd expect her to be. She's intelligent, loves great food, is one hell of a shopper, and despite having classic Gemini (ETA: whoops, that should have been Capricorn) over-planning tendencies, is actually very flexible and laid back (a great relief to my haphazard, spontaneous self!). And did I mention beautiful?? Sure, we all know how stylish Sal is, and what a great smile she has, but up close she has something else too: a serene, elegant beauty and grace. Hers is the sort of beauty that doesn't try too hard; she just radiates it naturally through her regal profile, cascading mane, and warm smile. Without a lick of makeup on, she has perfect porcelain skin and big, deep, thoughtful eyes.
Sal also has truckloads of unaffected charm. She gets giddy at the sight of fabulous drag queens, squeaks with delight at accidentally sort of almost meeting Paul Smith, does a silly dance after finding a long sought-after pair of Fluevogs, and says adorable things like, "Holy cats!" and, "you can bet your sweet bippy." Of course her blog posts are informative, self esteem-boosting, and thoroughly researched, but they're also laced with offbeat humor, irreverent silliness, and plenty of personality.
Sal, you're a true original and an all-around awesome person. You're a lovely woman in every sense of the word. I hope your 33rd year brings you much joy, prosperity, and, most importantly, a move out west. :-)
See how cute we are together? Clearly we were MEANT to live in the same town.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This outfit features one of only two clothing items I bought down in Tulum during my Christmas holiday. I was a remarkably restrained shopper despite the abundance of really cute clothes in the shops; I think it was the fact that the heat made it not so fun to try things on. I found this asymmetric, layered halter dress in a shop called Shalom right on Tulum's main drag; it set me back about $75, which I thought was a great deal for such a unique piece. The dress is going to be perfect for the warmer months, but it works equally well layered up in this cozy winter look.
Because the dress drapes fairly low in the front and is sleeveless, I added the scarf to fill in the neckline, and the purple cardigan to keep my arms warm. I selected the bulky scarf and drapey cardigan in order to give the whole outfit a relaxed, organic feel. Adding a belt gave some definition to my waist, although I matched the belt to the dress so as not to disrupt the long flowing line of the outfit too much.
This outfit was pretty warm by itself, so for outerwear I wore my cropped black leather jacket to put an extra layer just over my arms. I thought I'd also include my handbag in the photo, since I went with the unexpected choice of my brown Lucky bag. I thought black would be too obvious, and a shade of brown with less red in it would've clashed. This bag is sort of cognac-colored though, so I thought it blended nicely with the warm purple and red tones while still adding an interesting color mix.
By the way, as soon as I figure out how to enable the sound on my camera, I'll shoot a video tutorial about this method of tying a long scarf, as well as another method that I've gotten questions about. Hopefully I'll have that for you by next week.
Dress: Forla Paris
Belt: Urban Outfitters
Tights: MP, via Sock Dreams
Boots: Fly London
Jacket: Skin Graft
Handbag: Lucky Brand
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
With this outfit, I started with the typical dress pant/blazer combo that is pretty much standard corporate gear. However, I chose wide-leg gray pants instead of black, and paired them with the somewhat unexpected choice of a brown herringbone jacket. Both pieces are fairly conservative on their own, but the combination has more depth and texture than a suit would. Rather than wearing a button-down shirt, I instead chose a batik-dyed argyle sweater and fitted denim waistcoat. The waistcoat gives the outfit a tailored appearance while the denim keeps it relaxed and funky. Finally, I added the rich purple cowl and angora knit hat to mix some color and texture to the muted neutral tones and flat fabrics.
This cowl, by the way, came with the shirt I wore in my 'Thank You -- and a contest!' post; it has leather straps that allow it to be buttoned to the shirt. But I prefer it worn separately, so I just tucked the straps underneath the cowl to hide them for this outfit. Something like this would be an incredibly easy DIY project because as you can see, the cowl is just a tube of jersey fabric with raw edges. All you'd have to do is get a t-shirt, cut a 6 to 8-inch section off the bottom, and voila! Instant cowl. You could even start with a plain white t-shirt and dye it whatever color you wanted. A cowl has a bit more modern an appearance than a scarf, so it's a great way to update a conservative look.
Here are some other tricks I've used to funkify corporate wear, with examples immediately following:
- Put a sheer top over a classic button-down and belt over the top. The sheer fabric softens and feminizes the button-down but still allows it to show.
- Add some shine, either with sequins, shimmery fabric, or metal. One of the big things lacking in a lot of suited garments is any sort of sparkle, so a sequined top peeking out from underneath a blazer, a pile of long, bright silver necklaces, or a metallic scarf really adds some pizazz.
- Wear interesting shoes. Even the most straightforward pencil shirt and blouse combo looks instantly more interesting with a cool pair of shoes. Pair brightly-colored shoes with a neutral outfit, or replace a basic black pair with one that has studs, buttons, or some other interesting detail.
- Go vintage. Even a conservative suit looks amazing and unique if it's from a different era. What was once staid and sensible becomes fresh and exciting when viewed through modern eyes.
- Add an unexpected accessory. I've been getting quite a lot of mileage out of my thrifted men's tie lately, and it's an unexpected twist on even a classic corporate look. Likewise I've worn some pretty eye-catching hats with otherwise 'normal' outfits. As long as you keep the rest of the outfit simple, you can get away with at least one fairly radical accessory.
This list is far from comprehensive. For more great ideas on how to personalize your corporate wear, see Angie's fantastic post over at You Look Fab. And as always, you're invited to stop in and share your ideas.
Hat: Accessorize (Copenhagen)
Jacket: La Redoute
Cowl: from a Just Angels shirt
Sweater: All Saints
Friday, January 15, 2010
This style is one I call Equestrian Romantic; I used to wear stuff like this a lot more frequently, but lately I seem to be drawn to edgier looks. However, this style still continues to crop up in my wardrobe because it's feminine and somewhat classic. And I'll be honest; it's also pretty much a no-brainer to put together when it's 8:15 on a Monday morning and I didn't bother to put together an outfit the night before. Full skirts, fitted and belted cardigans, and low-heeled boots are a great combo that's both comfortable and warm. For other looks I've worn that have a similar vibe, check out this post, this one, this one, and reaching waaay back into the vaults there's this one.
With this outfit I folded up the sleeves of the cardigan in order to expose the pretty lace-trimmed cuffs on the shirt. This also allowed me to push the sleeves up to my elbows if I wanted, which is something I tend to do with long-sleeved shirts.
I'm off to enjoy the long weekend. I really appreciate having Martin Luther King Jr. Day off because it softens the blow of the long Christmas and New Year's holiday being over. I'll be back on Tuesday with a post on how to jazz up corporate wear in more conservative work environments. Have a great weekend everyone!
Top: a gift from my mom (thanks, Mom!)
Cardigan: a gift from my sister (thanks, sis!)
Belt: from a Noa Noa sweater
Skirt: La Redoute
Boots: Miz Mooz
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I'll keep the dialogue going by turning to a different aspect of blogging and online lives in general, specifically with respect to how the increasing substitution of cyber for real interaction can result in further isolation and loneliness. This is an interesting aspect of the modern world we live in, because much of what the internet and social networking technologies supposedly provide is the ability to connect with people. But when you carefully tailor what part of you the online world sees, and if you carefully filter it so that only positive feedback enters your world, then what you're creating is an artificial community which bears no relation to the real world at all.
Sure, a world in which people only see the very best side of you and have only positive things to say all the time is a tempting world to create. But here's the thing: unless you live in a cave in the middle of the Siberian wilderness, chances are that you interact with the flesh-and-blood world of humans pretty often, and in that world the naysayers and haters can't be edited out. The way we manage our online personas can either help or hinder us in dealing with differing views out there in the real world.
I'm 100% certain that people have, at some point, walked by me on the street or clicked onto this blog and thought, "Good lord, what the hell is she wearing?" I know it because I've occasionally thought the very same thing about other people as well; we all have. Tastes are different, and there's just no possible way to please everyone all the time. So whether you seal yourself off from negative feedback or not, the negative opinions are still there and always will be. The problem with living in a rose-tinted bubble in which everyone loves everything you do is that you're surrounded by people who don't know the first thing about you. So when these adoring fans are all telling you how wonderful you are, to whom are they really expressing that sentiment? Not the you who still gets pimples and has a tummy roll and the occasional hangover and is crabby before the first cup of coffee. Not the you who's had embarrassing corduroy experiences or liked bad heavy metal music in the 80's or sometimes puts together an outfit that fails miserably.
But it's those very imperfections and foibles that allow our online selves to be more accessible, more 3-dimensional, and more real to the cyberworld at large, just as it's the honest, sometimes less-than-glowing opinions that the cyberworld may sometimes throw our way that allow us to build meaningful online interaction. And although there's no substitute for real life, face-to-face interaction, we can still build strong online communities by being as open and honest as we dare, and by inviting that honesty from those we interact with. Critique and dialog are important to our lives; without them we never really learn anything, nor do we feel that other people truly know us.
For another perspective on this topic, I'd like to point you to an article that's been on my mind recently, called 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable, by Cracked.com editor David Wong. I've read David's stuff since he had his now-defunct Pointless Waste of Time blog, and while his writing occasionally veers into the realm of eye-rollingly juvenile, it is nevertheless thoroughly researched, intelligently written, and very often laugh-out-loud funny. His take on how living in an electronic age has lead to people having fewer meaningful relationships and a more negative world view is insightful and fascinating.
By the way, if you'd like to weigh in on this and yesterday's topic but AREN'T interested in winning a hat (because hey, I know not everyone loves hats, and that's ok!), then please leave your comments on this post. If you want to also be entered in the contest, then be sure to leave a comment on yesterday's post, or better yet, both!
Hat: from a shop in Hamburg, Germany
Scarf (as belt): Promod
Skirt: LA Made
Shoes: Art Shoes
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I'm not linking the original post because it annoyed me too much, but you can follow Sal's or Franca's links if you haven't seen it already. If you follow fashion blogs at all you probably already know to what I'm referring; the gist of it is that readers were instructed to only provide positive comments, a mandate to which many people, myself included, took exception. But as I've thought about it more, the thing that has risen to the surface as being the most irritating was the assertion that the blogger is happy with her style exactly the way it is and is not, "looking for pointers." Oh, really? So you're the world's foremost expert on style, and nothing that anyone has to offer could possibly be of any value to you? Huh.
Rather than embarking on any sort of diatribe about the original post, because I think it's already been covered quite well, I'd rather share with you today my own philosophy of blogging and the comments that come from it. As always, I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.
I started this blog without any sort of expectations other than having some fun with it and perhaps cataloging my outfits for future reference. The fact that it has continued to grow in readership and participation frankly floors me. Every day I eagerly log on to read all the wonderful feedback I get from my awesome readers, many of whom offer insightful commentary on what they like about my outfits, or what they'd try the next time around. It is from these comments that my style grows and evolves, and I'm always (I think) receptive to any sort of constructive criticism. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but my default assumption is that if someone takes the time to stop in and say that an element of my outfit is off, they do so with the best possible intentions, in the spirit of friendship and collaboration.
I know myself that my outfits aren't always perfect, and frequently it's due to the limitations of my wardrobe. Often I have gone after a look that didn't quite succeed simply because I didn't have the right piece in my closet (yes, even my massive collection has holes!). Other times I'm pressed for time, I'm tired, or I'm not feeling particularly creative. Sometimes I'll scrap a look altogether, but more often than not I'll try it anyway on the hope that someone will offer me the solution that I just didn't see when I was putting it together. With any luck, the solution won't even have to involve me purchasing something new.
I believe that the beauty of the blogging community is that it offers the opportunity for everyone to participate, and that's why I prefer it to fashion magazines or other mediums where the communication is largely one-way. I'm no fashion professional; I'm just a clothes horse with a day job, and I for one am open to all input as long as it's presented in a respectful way. Sure, if you drop by just to tell me I look like crap then I'll probably delete your comment (thankfully no one has ever done that!), but if you want to offer me a suggestion that you feel would would improve my outfit, I'm all ears.
My main objective in writing this post is really to thank everyone who takes the time to stop in and comment, whether you love my outfit or think I really missed the boat. And just to prove how earnest I am, I'm going to offer you a special prize. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post sometime before midnight (PST) on Friday, January 22 and you'll be entered to win one of my handmade hats, custom designed just for you! Tell me your thoughts about this post or the one that started this discussion, tell me which of my outfits in the last month you liked the least and what I could've done better, ask me for style advice or tell me about your 5-toed cat; this is an open forum and you're invited to help make it a collaborative space for sharing ideas, stories, and advice, or simply for being fellow fashion enthusiasts and friends.
Drawing will be at random, and international entries are welcome. Good luck to everyone who enters, and a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU for participating!
Scarf: Banana Republic
Top: Just Angels
Shoes: Jo Ghost
P.S. Beautiful blogger Eyeliah from Style Symmetry has interviewed me for her Symmetry Seven feature! Check it out!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Way back in 1989, when I was 19, I vividly remember seeing the video for the Sugarcubes' Coldsweat on MTV's 120 Minutes and being completely mesmerized. Shortly afterwards I heard this song and it pretty much changed my life:
Though I wouldn't say I've ever actively tried to dress like Björk, she nevertheless has influenced my style tremendously because of her admirable penchant for taking risks. Though her infamous Oscars swan dress is widely acknowledged as a major fashion faux pas, I totally, totally got it. Sometimes it's not about dressing to fit in with a particular audience or even wearing what's considered to be flattering; sometimes it's just about doing something that brings you joy. And in many ways I think it was also Björk's acknowledgement that she really does not belong to the glamorous Hollywood world; she's an avant garde, musical innovator, and as such she's an outsider at the Oscars or any other celebrity function. I for one applauded her ability to celebrate the cheeky and ridiculous; what a refreshing change she is from artists, and people in general, who take themselves way too seriously.
Clearly it was also Björk who put Iceland on the map for me. I remember first hearing that the Sugarcubes were from there and thinking, "Whoa, people actually live in Iceland?" (remember, I was only 19). It wouldn't be until many years later that I would randomly come across a travel article about Iceland and, because of its connection with Björk, stop to read it. From that point on I was determined to go, and as of this writing I've been to Iceland 6 times and counting. Though I'd always loved Björk's music before, it really wasn't until I'd gone to Iceland, walked on the spongy moss-covered lava, examined the intricate and tiny plant life, listened to groaning glacial ice and seen bubbling mud pits and sulfur-spewing fumaroles, that I truly felt as though I was beginning to grasp it.
Björk has a flair for the minuscule, unexpected elements that are clearly influenced by her otherworldly land. Tiny, tinkling bells, whispering voices, and other ethereal sounds are all exactly the kinds of things you hear in the windy, desolate reaches of the Icelandic landscape. I remember an interview where she said of one of her albums (I believe it was Vespertine) that you almost need a microscope to listen to it, which is such a perfect way to put it.
I may not always love, or even quite understand, Björk's stylistic or musical choices; frankly, I find some of it too obtuse and inaccessible be either wearable or listenable out here in the real world. Much of what she does she can pull off simply because she's Björk, and I've learned to accept the fact that there are some things in life that you simply don't question. I'll always admire her unique talent and capacity for the bizarre; she has a childlike, mischievous quality as well as an almost futuristic wisdom, as if she's too far ahead of the rest of us to be truly appreciated now. No matter what she does, love it or hate it, it's almost certain to be interesting, and for that she continues to be an influence for me.
Who are your style icons? How do you feel about people like Björk, who push the stylistic boundaries? And finally, would you like to see further Style Icons features on the blog?
Björk with her son Sindri at Iceland's Blue Lagoon. Let's all say it together now: awwwww!