Friday, May 29, 2009


This outfit just wasn't complete without my beautiful new jacket, which is making its first appearance on the blog today. The soft buttery leather, the flattering cut, and the amazing detailing make me want to wear it night and day. Surprisingly, though it's quite short the jacket is really warm because of the nice thick lining and extra-long sleeves. It was quite an investment but the craftsmanship and uniqueness make it well worth it.

Brown t-shirt: H&M
Tunic: Porcelyne
Belt: Chico's (thrifted)
Skirt: Noa Noa
Boots: Bata
Jacket: Skin Graft

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Suddenly Sheer

Here's that old romper I turned into a dress awhile back, making an appearance here as a tunic. And here's that annoying skirt which, after the removal of the underneath layer, is now perfectly cling-free. The only problem with it now is that without the double layers it's downright see-through when I'm in direct light (though you can't tell here), which is why I chose the romper/dress to wear over it. The length of the dress allowed me to go without a slip, which otherwise I'd have needed under the suddenly sheer skirt.

Interestingly, it felt sexier to wear a semi-sheer skirt underneath the dress, even though the amount of coverage was in fact greater. Revealing your shape through a sheer garment adds drama and sex appeal, even when the area of your body that you're revealing is an area you don't really need to cover anyway. Sheer clothing hides imperfections in the skin, all the normal lumps and bumps that us humans possess, and, if you're like me, the complete and utter lack of a tan.

Cardigan: Max Studio
Dress: Express (90's)
Skirt: Sisley
Shoes: John Fluevog

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Made of Stone

Bloomers at work? Of course I'm wearing bloomers at work -- I mean, you knew it had to happen sooner or later, right? What other wacky clothing item could I try, having already sported an apron, a cheerleader top, and 70's pimpin' patchwork boots? What was really left for me to try to surprise my colleagues with? Bloomers, that's what. And true to form, nobody said a damn thing about them except my boss, who merely commented, "Cute outfit!" These people are made of stone, I tell you. Stone.

The bloomers are from my new favorite store, Five and Diamond. And though they do push the boundaries a little, I think I managed to make them look pretty reasonable for the office by pairing them with the button-down shirt and flat shoes. They're a fun alternative to cropped pants, are the perfect weight for summertime, and are super comfy to boot.

Striped shirt: Promod
Black shirt: Max Studio
Waistcoat: Promod
Bloomers: Wild Card
Shoes: Bobbi Brown

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going South

Mark and I are taking off for the weekend to head south for a weekend of wine tasting, beer tasting, and general fun with some friends. In my absence I thought I'd share a couple of outfit photos from a recent 80's night we attended at the Cat Club with our friend Tom.

Those New Rock boots I'm wearing have about a 3 or 4-inch platform. They're not very easy to dance in (especially since they're actually Mark's and are a couple sizes too big), but they definitely fit the goth look I was going for. Ironically, I didn't even really need to use very much white makeup in order to achieve that corpse-like complexion. Tom really stole the show that night with his Adam Ant "Dandy Highwayman" outfit. I think the sideburns really make the look.

I hope all my friends here in the US enjoy the long weekend. Happy Memorial Day everyone, and I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


When I bought this vintage minidress, the neck and arm holes were tight enough that I could have used the dress as a giant tourniquet to cut off my entire blood supply. Some simple alterations took care of that, and now it allows both circulation and comfort. The shade of orange has got to be one of the brightest I've ever seen, so I added plenty of white to the outfit in order to to wash it out a little.

Hat: a gift from Kimberly
Minidress: Light Years Vintage
Shirt: H&M
Cropped pants: La Redoute
Shoes: Camper

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Special Items for Everyday

There are certain items in my wardrobe that, no matter how bold my sartorial experiments may be, will just never make it into my daily wear. One such example is my mini top hat, which would have looked smashing with this outfit, but which simply doesn't belong in the office. Instead I used this little plaid cloche as a substitute, while all day long I imagined I really looked like this:

It's fine to have a few things in your wardrobe that you reserve only for non-work use. As a rule though, I think it's best not to keep too many of them, because for most of us, reserving clothes only for 'special' occasions means they don't get worn enough to make them worth owning. They take up closet space, they're often expensive, and they taunt you day after day with their loveliness while you go schlumping out in your boring black dress slacks and sensible shoes.

There are plenty of ways to dress down items in your wardrobe that you might currently consider to be off-limits for daily wear. Why not try pulling them out and giving them the airing they deserve? A mini top hat might be crossing the line for your average daytime office setting, but I've toned down ruffles, sequins, dominatrix boots, and even a Derby-worthy hat at work. Pair a sexy top with a boxy blazer and a pair of jeans; wear a slinky dress with a soft cardigan, chunky scarf, and boots; but don't let your best items languish in your closet because you don't think you have anything dressy enough to wear them to. Here are a few tools that you probably already have at your disposal to help you pull off those 'special' items in your daily wear:

Denim: Jeans and other denim items are the great casualizers of the world. Even the most ethereal top can be brought back down to earth with a well-worn pair of jeans. Denim jackets and vests can be thrown over dresses to give them a relaxed, daytime look.

Menswear: A button-down shirt, vest, or blazer is a great way to offset even the girliest of dresses or floaty tops. Try a simple, boxy cardigan over a flowy dress, or a button-down underneath a sheer top (examples here and here).

Flat shoes: A simple pair of flats or low-heeled boots makes any outfit look more demure; you might think that miniskirt is too sexy for work, but you'd be suprised how different it looks with a pair of flats. Conversely, you can pull off even a sexy pair of platforms if you've got the right pair of long, wide-legged dress pants to go with them.

Patterns: Try a preppy plaid or a sensible stripe to downplay frills, feathers, florals, and other flashy finishes. The contrast of a conservative pattern against a flamboyant one makes for an interesting look.

What special items do you have hiding, neglected and barely-worn, in your closet? Isn't it about time they saw the light of day?

Cloche: San Diego Hat Co.
Mini top hat: Audra Jean
T-shirt: Rock Steady
Waistcoat: Heathen
Jeans: Joe's
Boots: vintage

Monday, May 18, 2009


Here's another fabulous item from Attila Design -- this 'origami' skirt. The skirt has two threaded channels that allow the length to be adjusted up or down. I had a great time playing around with it; adjusting the length and turning the skirt this way and that to find just the shape I was going for. The skirt is light enough for summer, but will also look great with my tulle skirts layered underneath when the temperatures drop again.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I recently discovered pettipants (sort of like bloomers) and have found them to be a revelation. Was I the only person on earth who didn't know about these things? They're like a slip except that they're shorts, so they keep skirts from getting caught on your tights and bunching up when you walk (not an issue with this outfit, but frequently a problem for me). I bought some of the silky kind, but I also got a couple of cotton pairs for warmer days when I don't need tights or leggings.

Top: Susina
Velvet vest: vintage 90's dug out of my closet
Skirt: Attila Design
Boots: Mia

Friday, May 15, 2009

Prom Queen

Charlotte charged me with exhibiting my prom picture, per the instructions in this tag:

The rules:
~ Upload your prom picture. If you don't have one, email your mom and have her send it to you.
~ Don’t forget to include the year it was taken. Again, don't be shy. The older the better.
~ Grab the "Prom Queen" button and add to your post. Isn't the button adorable? Thank you Danielle, The Design Girl. You must check out her fabulous sale!
~ Copy and paste the rules to your blog.
~ Tag 5 others!

Well Charlotte, you asked for it, you got it. In all its over-the-top lacey extravagance and ridiculous 80's makeup glory, here is my high school prom picture:

The year was 1986 and I was a junior at Del Campo High in a suburb of Sacramento. I went to the prom with a friend who ran in the same circle of friends as I did. I have no idea where I got that dress, but I do know one thing: it had a hell of a lot of lace going on. Funny that, because I was never much of a girly-girl in high school. What prompted me to don that Stevie Nicks special I shall never, never know. My dress the next year was all black velvet and satin with a sexy plunging neckline and cutout back, but I couldn't find a photo from that dance. Anyway, this one's way funnier.

I've seen quite a few of these things going around and don't want to re-tag anyone, so I'll just let you all share if you're game.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Well, it was a very tough job for the judges, folks. But finally we have a winner for the Inspired By Interiors contest, and it is the lovely Emma from Owl and the Grapes!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, put together a beautiful look (or two!) that would have been perfectly at home in the midst of the adorable interior. But Emma's outfit took the top prize because she really dug deep, going beyond simply matching the room and capturing the essence of the design, as well as pulling out the subtler elements such as the wonderful metallic finishes (those gold tights are simply amazing!). Her outfit has that secondhand chic that really mirrors the eclectic mix of kitschy accents, reworked antiques, and surprising color mix (who even noticed that purple rug?) that make up the interior. Fantastic job, Emma, and congratulations! Email me your address and your handmade fur felt hat will be on its way!

I want to thank everyone who entered the contest; it was clear that the participants really put in a lot of effort, and this was my original goal in setting up the contest the way I did. It was clear from some of the comments I received that for several people this was pushing into new territory, which was exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Interior design shares many of the same basic principles as fashion, and is one of many sources that can be used for inspiration. I hope all the participants found the exercise rewarding, and will continue to look for new and different ways expand their fashion horizons.

Here are the rest of the entries, in no particular order. Thanks again everyone for making this contest a success!


Some fashion problems simply can't be fixed no matter how hard you might try, and these shoes are one such problem. Cute though they are, they're also unbearably uncomfortable and there's no other solution but to jettison them. I've been able to rescue several other pairs by modifying them in one way or another; generally it involves ripping out the existing insoles and replacing them with Superfeet, but in this case it's not an option because the shoes pinch in every possible way. Even just standing in them hurts, never mind walking. Adorable but sadistic shoes, you have tortured my feet for the last time. I'm sorry to see you go, but then again I'm not.

On the other hand, these cotton leggings are the best. They're breathable, have a non-constrictive waistband, and take the chill off without being too warm. I'm planning on stocking up on a few more colors and making them a staple this summer.

Scarf: from a local import store
Dress: Orla Kiely
Leggings: Foot Traffic, via Sockdreams
Shoes: Pink Studio

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


These tuxedo-striped cropped pants have been lingering around in my wardrobe for ages and still don't get half the wear they deserve. In fact, sifting back through my archives I see that I've only worn them two other times in the last year. I tend to forget about them for some reason, despite how very dandy they look.

Pairing your boots with cropped pants or a miniskirt/minidress is a great way to get away with using them even into the warmer months. I've never really been too big a believer in the notion that certain items are completely off-limits during particular times of the year anyway. I think as long as you infuse your spring and summer wardrobe with plenty of lighter and brighter colors, you can cover as much or as little of your skin as the temperature in your area dictates. Why should my legs freeze all day in windy, foggy South San Francisco just because in other places the temperatures are soaring into the 80's and 90's and everyone is donning their sandals?

Not shown here is the black leather jacket that I had to keep on most of the day in order to prevent my teeth from chattering themselves into bits as I sat in my frigid office or dashed to another building in 20-mph wind. Yeah, you can bet I'm going to be breaking the fashion rules all summer long.

Waistcoat: Last Kiss
Silver top: thrifted
Cropped pants: Poleci
Boots: Modern Vintage

Monday, May 11, 2009

Made in Finland

The northern European countries seem to have a few things in common: they consistently rate among the top 10 happiest countries in the world, they have an exceptionally high proportion of strikingly beautiful people, and they contain some of the most incredible fashion and design talent in the world. Living up to her country's high bar, Finnish designer Tiina of Attila Design is certainly no exception.

I contacted Tiina a few weeks ago because I wanted a vest of hers custom made to go with this skirt. But of course while I was poking around in her shop listings I found plenty of other items that caught my eye. Knowing that I still needed more items in the steampunk/neo-Victorian vein that would be wearable at work, I bought this gorgeous little top and a skirt (which you'll see later in the week) as well as the vest.

As for the custom-made vest, it is truly a sight to behold. Done in a midnight blue silk with olive green trim, it looks beautiful with this skirt, as well as loads of other things in my closet. The vest with this skirt is probably too dressy for work, but I think it would also look adorable even with jeans, which I might just be able to pull off for an office ensemble. I'm sure it won't be long before it makes its debut on the blog, either as part of a work outfit or for an after-work outing.

But let's talk about this outfit for now. Normally I don't think high-waisted bottoms look all that great on me, because the waist sits above my smallest section, which is just above my hips. Without any color contrast at the natural waist, my figure ends up looking boyish. But in this outfit, all the ruffles at the shoulders of the top and the hem of the skirt add volume to my upper and lower halves, which counteracts the straightness of my torso. The ruffles of the top are removable, and in the back the ends of the ruffles are free, like little wings. Plus the coral-y pink is such a flattering color, soft and feminine without being garish.

Tiina has loads of other wonderful things in her shop, and she was really sweet and wonderful to work with. It was such a fun experience to get a truly custom-made piece; my only concern is that she may have ruined me for 'ordinary' clothes forever!

Top: Attila Design
Jacket: thrifted
Skirt: Skin Graft
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Day at the Races

No, I did not attend the Kentucky Derby and wear this outfit. But I really should have, shouldn't I? I'm determined to attend next year and make myself a big, gorgeous, and somewhat over-the-top hat for the occasion. In the meantime, this outfit was my homage to spending a glamorous day at the races.

This is one of the hats I made in my millinery workshop last year. I'd never really given much thought to straw hats, but Wayne's class changed all that. When I realized that parasisal straw is smooth and pliable, that the tight-woven straw is super high quality and durable, and that it comes in about every color under the sun, I was a convert. I originally thought I would reserve this hat for summer weddings and other such occasions, but I couldn't resist pulling it out and giving it its first airing, having been so inspired watching the Derby over the weekend. I currently have a few straw hats up for sale in the Etsy shop if you'd like to see some other variations.

Cardigan: Noa Noa
Top: Mica
Belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: Ann Taylor
Shoes: Gabriella Rocha

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Well, this is what I almost wore. When I looked out the window in the morning it was raining, so at the last minute I traded these flats for my Fly London boots so that my toes didn't end up soaked. Having already taken the photographs, I decided just to post the outfit like this. I actually think the outfit looked better with the boots, but when I was doing my wardrobe planning last week I wasn't prepared for more gloomy weather.

Turtleneck: Target
Sheer top/belt: Forever 21
Skirt: Anthropologie
Tights: Noa Noa
Shoes: BC Footwear

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Today I'm sporting one of the belts we've been selling in the Etsy shop. The belt maker in the team is actually Mark; I've been focusing mainly on the hats, although I'm cooking up a new reversible fabric obi style that will be making its debut shortly. This leather and jersey obi is great because it's lightweight and stretchy; plus the back of the leather is a suede finish so it sticks in place nicely and keeps everything positioned just so, even with multiple layers like in today's outfit.

With rain making an appearance off and on and temperatures hovering on the cool side, I'm still keeping my arms and legs covered, but trying to wear lighter layers. Though the tights are full of fairly sizeable holes, somehow they added just enough warmth to be comfortable. The cardigan is a very lightweight mohair blend.

Shirt, cardigan: La Redoute
Belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: thrifted
Tights: got them ages ago in Copenhagen
Shoes: Sofft

Monday, May 4, 2009

Modern Flapper

I'm back from my weekend in Arizona, which was truly lovely. Mark's family was wonderful, as I suspected they would be, and we had some fantastic weather to boot.

The entry deadline has officially closed on my contest, and this week I'll compile all the entires and distribute them to my panel of judges. I'm planning on announcing the winner next week, so stay tuned! There's some pretty stiff competition; I'm certainly glad I'm not among the judges.

With this outfit I went for a modern flapper look. The dress worn over the skirt gave the outfit a long, lean line and the stockings and shoes have a very retro feel. I added the skull scarf, which I spotted a few weeks ago in a shop in Hayes Valley and instantly fell in love with, for a pattern mix and to give the outfit a little edginess. To secure the scarf, I threw it loosely around my shoulders, tied it once, and put a brooch through both ends of the scarf and also through my dress.

Hat: Noa Noa
Scarf: Duke et Duchess
Brooch: Vintage Brooch Company
Dress: an oldie from ages ago that I had shortened
Skirt: Noa Noa
Shoes: Seychelles, via Solestruck