Friday, October 30, 2009

The Wait is Over

Happy Halloween everyone! This obviously isn't my costume; I wore this last week, but I'll bring you a costume post on Monday.

After many tortuous weeks of waiting, I'm finally able to wear my dreamy new Frye boots! And boy, do I love these babies; with the 4 1/4" heels I feel like a towering Amazon, but the rise isn't so steep that I can't walk in them. With this outfit I paired them with my long navy socks and a short dress for an exaggerated long-legged look. I just love the rich blue color, and since they're Frye they'll last approximately 200 years. I'd better start looking around for someone with the same shoe size that I can bequeath them to in my will.

It was chilly last week, so I wore leggings underneath the socks. This is a great way to layer for warmth, and also to make use of your leggings and footless tights during the winter. I like layering socks over leggings because it doesn't add another layer inside your shoes, thus making the shoes uncomfortably tight (or unwearable, in some cases). You can't see the leggings in the full-length photos, since they were just barely visible beneath the hemline of my dress, but you can see them in the detail shot; they're a denim blue. I didn't feel like there was really another color I could reasonably add to this outfit because the pattern of the dress is already pretty busy, so instead I mixed in the second shade of blue for a little contrast.

Jacket: vintage
Socks and leggings: Sock Dreams
Boots: Frye

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Last weekend Mark and I flew up to Seattle for the SteamCon convention, and also as an excuse to go visit all our Seattle friends. As you can see, Jess attended SteamCon with us, so here we are in all of our steampunk finery. The convention was pretty fun; by far the best part was looking at all the great costumes everyone put together. There was hardly anyone who hadn't put some serious effort into their outfit, and many people went so far as to create elaborate props such as mechanical wings and ray-guns and such. The event took place at the Marriott hotel, so it was very amusing to to sit in the bar and watch the average business traveler enter the lobby and look around in amazement at the sea of Victorian bustle dresses, top hats, and pith helmets. If you'd like to see photos of some of the other attendees, check out the Flickr SteamCon group pool here.

Jess and I both sported Mark's harness designs; I'm wearing the Mistress Lucille, which is a new addition to the shop. Jess is sporting the Russian Princess style, which she also kindly agreed to model for us. The hats were all made by me, of course. Lately I'm having a lot of fun with the mini topper style, and Jess's hat is a new variation I've been working on. Look for more of these mini toppers in the Etsy shop soon.

While I'm at it, I should also mention that a few of my hats are now for sale over at Dark Garden Corsetry! It's quite exciting for me to see my hats displayed alongside their beautiful corsets, and a brick-and-mortar shop is really the ideal way to sell hats. Below are a couple of photos I took the last time I was in the shop. If you live in, or are planning to visit San Francisco, this beautiful shop is definitely worth a look. And finally, speaking of corsets, I picked up a gorgeous brown and black waist cincher corset while I was at SteamCon, which I am totally going to wear to work. 'Cause you know I'm adventurous like that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Strange Obsessions

The buttons on this jacket perfectly illustrate my occasional propensity to become obsessed with strange details. To tell you this story I have to go back to my trip to Argentina, where Jess and I kept seeing an odd symbol in various locations: schools, tombs, official buildings, you name it. The symbol depicted a pair of joined hands holding a stick with a pointed, elf-like hat balanced on it, and a sun peeking out from behind. First we were merely curious to find out exactly what it was, and after many unsuccessful tries we eventually learned that it's a symbol of the Argentine Republic.

Then it went that extra step further, when I spotted the symbol emblazoned on two large brass buttons on the collar of a beautiful floor-length vintage wool cape. I'm not really exaggerating when I say that I very nearly bought that cape solely for the buttons. Not that the cape wasn't also gorgeous, but you have to understand that its bulk would've consumed every last square inch of space in my luggage. I didn't buy the cape, but it suddenly turned my vague notion of finding some sort of clothing or jewelery with that symbol on it into a mad quest that would allow me no rest until it was resolved.

Thankfully that day was the open air flea market in the San Telmo neighborhood. After scouring dozens upon dozens of vendors' booths, I finally spotted what I needed: ten matching vintage brass buttons that I could take home and sew onto the clothing item of my choice. But of course the quest wasn't entirely fulfilled, because now I was left with the need for the perfect jacket to sew these treasures onto.

Enter the lovely Erin and her wonderful blog. After weeks of searching high and low, I spotted just the jacket I needed when she raved about it in this post. I counted the buttons: there were exactly ten. The jacket had the crisp, military styling and flattering fit I was after. Better still, it was from Forever 21 and was bound to be affordable! Mere seconds later, I was on the F21 site ordering up my very own jacket, which turned out to be every bit as perfect as I'd hoped. A little bit of clipping and sewing later, and I had my very own faux Republica Argentina uniform.

Other oddball, fashiony obsessions of mine:
  • A pair of nerdy, tacky vintage golf shoes (I got outbid for the perfect, plaid-tastic pair on eBay and it nearly broke my heart, after which I gave up the search)
  • Getting a pair of white leather ice skates and removing the blades to wear them as boots (I didn't actually do that, but found a reasonable substitute)
  • A charro suit (still looking for one; I'm also hooked on the idea of joining a mariachi band someday, just as soon as I learn to play an instrument and speak Spanish...)

Jacket: F21
Top: Pete & Greta
Necklace: H&M
Tank: American Eagle
Cropped pants: Noa Noa
Socks: Sock Dreams
Shoes: Art Shoes

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This is the Deadwood Altair dress, one of the new items I received recently from All Saints (ordered from the UK site, for reasons I covered in this post). I stalked it for several months, and now I'm very relieved that it didn't sell out in my size before I finally broke down and ordered it. I just love the shaping of the dress, particularly the faux hourglass it creates in the back. Though it looks a little flannel-y in the photos, the dress is actually made of a soft, smooth cotton. Like the other All Saints items I own, the quality and fit are excellent.

This dress has loads of layering potential, both buttoned and partially unbuttoned, so I'm looking forward to experimenting with other combinations. I could see pairing it with rich reds as a way to brighten up the winter months, or combining it with a lacy or ruffled top for an interesting mix of rugged and feminine.

I think I was initially a bit sheepish about ordering this dress simply because I worried that my attraction to it was mostly based on the name: Mark and I are now working our way through all the episodes of the wonderful HBO series Deadwood, and I'm totally hooked. But after scrutinizing the photos many times online, I decided that although the name is certainly appealing, this dress has plenty of merits that would entice me even if it were called the BJ and the Bear Dress.

Incidentally, my favorite costumes in the show look nothing like my All Saints dress; they're the ones worn by Alma Garrett (Molly Parker). Somehow I think my dress is just a little more practical for office wear than any of these, but I'd love to wear something like this just once:

Shirt: H&M
Dress: All Saints
Tights: MP
Boots: vintage Morgan

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Things

Here are those new jeans again, this time cuffed as I described before. And check out the depth of the cuff! If these suckers weren't folded they'd be all the way over my feet and right out onto the floor. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a woman with legs that long, at least not in person. Those gams would be like stilts.

I digress. This outfit was really just a rework of this one, which I loved and couldn't help repeating slightly. The soft, sheer floral over the button-down stripe is such a great way to feminize a structured, business-like shirt. This time though, I changed up the pants, shoes, and belt.

Let's talk about the shoes. These adorable lace-up pumps were a gift from the folks at Tsubo, and believe me, I was pretty excited at the prospect of receiving them. The shoes actually arrived while I was in Argentina, but when I first got back my broken toe sadly prevented me from wearing them. Obviously I've now healed enough that these were just fine for all day at work.

I've heard Sal sing the praises of Tsubos many times before, and indeed I have a pair that she sent me, so I was already expecting a well-made, comfortable shoe. But holy smokes, I actually forgot several times during the day that I even had heels on, that's how comfortable they are. If these came in some non-neutral colors I would be online ordering all of them right now. Or more likely, they'd already be in my closet. This is a perfect style for me, with the laces and the quirky heel. I could imagine a whole lot of awesomeness if they carried these in other colors -- and what if the panel on top of the foot were a second color!? How about a 2-tone olive and tan, or butter yellow and ecru, or PINK AND BURGUNDY! C'mon, guys, Tsubo lovers are funky, we're adventurous, we are ready for the 2-tone Nabus! Or at least, I am. Feel free to custom make me a pair, or three. Ahem.

On to the coat. Oh, so many wonderful new things in this outfit! The coat came from the mega super Tulle sale I took advantage of back in August. I picked up this navy pick-stitch cutie for something like $12, and as you may remember, a navy coat was on my shopping list for quite some time. I have only one complaint about this coat: the lining is cotton, which means it sticks to my clothes and causes the sleeves to bunch up inside the coat sleeves. But for $12, I'll forgive it.

Shirt: Promod
Sheer top: Noa Noa
Belt: from another Noa Noa sweater
Jeans: Acne
Shoes: Tsubo
Coat: Tulle

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reader Request: Belt Tour

Awhile back I put out a call for topic suggestions, and among them was a request from Lemondrop Marie for a tour of my belts. Well Marie, today I'll be tackling this request.

Before I start, I'd like to point you again in the direction of the guest post I did awhile back on Sal's blog, which detailed the various ways to wear belts. I feel that what this post is really about is not so much what belts I have or how I wear them, but rather how to build a collection of your own, so therefore I'm not going to get into all the ways I use the belts I'm showing here. For that you need only to scroll through my past posts, since belts make an appearance in my outfits more often than not.

Before I got started assembling the belts and photographing them, I completed a long overdue purge, because there were many in my collection that I was no longer wearing. Early last year I was hooked on wide, vinyl belts such as this one or this one, but somewhere along the way I lost the taste for them and knew they had to go. So what you see here represents those I've actually used within the last year or so.

First I'll start with the most basic colors, black and brown. As you can see, I have a wide variety of neutral belts: skinny belts, wide belts, belts that are made to sit at the natural waist or slung low on the hips. Some have brass hardware, others have silver or nickel. It's a great idea to have a good selection of neutral belts, because they're the ones you'll use most frequently.

Out of all the belts shown here, I'd say the ones I get the most mileage out of are the 3" wide black elastic one above (2nd from the right), and the brown saddle belt below on the right (made by Mark and I). For me, wide belts work well because I have a long torso and a smallish hip-to-waist ratio; a wide belt is well-proportioned to my frame and emphasizes my waist. The saddle belt in particular is curved to create a more dramatic waistline, not to mention that it also slyly flattens the little tummy bulge just beneath my belly button. Gotta love that feature.

Next up are the colorful belts, which comprise a smaller proportion of my collection. With these I have a variety of different widths, but most sit at the natural waist rather than on the hips. There's a reason for this: hip belts are simply hard to use, for most people. For the small of hip they can de-emphasize your hip-waist ratio, and for the large of hip they can make you look wider. Thus, for belts you'll use less frequently because of the color, it's probably wiser to buy them in a style that's universally flattering on you. And then, it isn't necessary to have a belt in every color; I tend to buy them in shades that pair well with lots of other colors in my closet. For staple colors such as red or navy, you may want to consider having a couple of different styles.

Finally, here are the obi-style belts; I photographed them separately because I'm also showing the way I store them, hung over a hanger and secured with clips. These just get hung up in the closet along with all my other clothes, because they tend to slip off any sort of belt rack. Obis give a very specific look to an outfit, and for that reason I don't have a lot of them. I find that a few basic colors is all I really need: aside from the patterned one that came with the dress shown at the beginning of this post, I have obis only in brown, navy, burgundy (shown in the outfit above), and purple.

The rest of the belts in my collection are hung on these racks, which I found at Ikea. I'm not actually sure what the racks were designed for; ties, maybe. But I like the way they spread the belts out because the pegs are at different heights and distances from the wall. I mounted the racks quite high so that the belts are above eye level and I can see them all; if I don't do this then they tend to get buried behind a bunch of others and I forget about them.

I also want to point out that scarves can serve as great belts, which is important to remember as you seek to increase the variety of colors and patterns in your collection. I don't wear scarves as belts terribly often myself, but if you want to see a couple of examples, click here and here.

Outfit shown above:
Turtleneck: Target
Dress: Diane von Furstenberg
Obi: Sunhee Moon
Skirt: Noa Noa
Shoes: Faryl Robin

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making a Statement

This silver chain necklace was handmade for me by gorgeous Sal as a 40th birthday present, after I admitted to her that I'm woefully inept when it comes to statement necklaces. I guess I always fear overdoing it, so for my first outing with this necklace I wore nothing but solid colors and no other jewelery. I thought the v-neck dress was a great way to frame the necklace, though next time I want to try it with something that doesn't interfere with the way the vertical chains hang.

Looking at the outfit now, I don't know why I've been so hesitant to try this look, because really this doesn't seem all that crazy statement-y. Then again I think Sal, knowing that I'm a novice, intentionally kept the necklace on the tame side in order to help me get comfortable with it. Thanks Sal; you're the best!

I ended up adding black socks to this outfit for two reasons: the criss-cross straps of the shoes conflicted too much with the bottom of the leggings, and also the leggings look better scrunched down a bit around the ankles, so the socks gave them something to stick to and stay in place. I love the buttons on the hem of the leggings, and how the color matches the decorative stitching on the shoes.

Dress: F21
Shirt: H&M
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Leggings: Noa Noa
Shoes: John Fluevog

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Small Message to the World

I really loved this outfit, and I'll tell you straight away that I completely lifted it from the photo of Esme and the Lane Way that Sal posted a few weeks back. The outfit just sort of evolved that way; this new jacket and skirt had just arrived and I wanted to wear them, and that week I was inspired by Sal's post as well as Kasmira's series of tights and toes outfits. The rest, as they say, is history.

This cape-like jacket was an unexpected find on the Forever 21 website; I actually went on there in search of a jacket that I saw Erin wearing (more on that later), and this jumped right out at me. Lately I've been somewhat fascinated by belted capes, but am a bit put off by the challenges associated with wearing them. This seemed like the perfect solution: a garment that has the look of a cape, but with armholes built in so that there's no fabric hanging in the way of your arms. And then the cut is so flattering with the wide cape, fitted waist, and peplum. Paired with the short, full skirt it gave me just the right proportions.

The skirt is pretty darn short to be made of such a lightweight fabric, especially in windy South San Francisco where I work, so I took the extra measure of wearing pettipants in addition to the opaque tights. As much as I'd relish the opportunity to appear on Daddy Likey, I don't really want to do it that way. So the ruffled ecru hem of the pettipants became not only a nice accent to the outfit, but also my small, silent message to the world, a message that said, "No matter how hard the wind blows, rest easy friends, you will not see my chocha."

Jacket, skirt: F21
T-shirt: H&M
Belt: Lazaro
Tights: MP
Sandals: John Fluevog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Desperate Times

Thanks everyone for the outpouring of support for my recent work woes. I know it's not always feasible to comment, especially if you read a large number of blogs as I do, so I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by with kind words and encouragement. It's times like these that it's especially gratifying to feel a part of such a positive and supportive group. This work episode will pass, and thanks to all my virtual friends in the style blog community, it won't feel like the end of the world.

On to more important topics, such as shoes. As you can see, my selection of wearable shoes is growing, though my toe is still pretty swollen even after several weeks of healing time. I'm not sure I'd have thought of pairing these boots with the ruffled skirt, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and believe me when I say I was pretty damn desperate to get some variety back into my footwear. This new top, with its subtle pink stripes, was the perfect way to introduce the burgundy color to the outfit without the whole thing looking too somber. Burgundy and pink is a combination I've been attracted to recently, and I like the way the two colors work together for a balance of gamine and sophisticated.

The striped socks (they come all the way up to my thighs) are some I've had for quite awhile but haven't worn too often. Striped socks are one of those things that can take an outfit over the top pretty easily, especially in a steampunk-flavored getup such as this one, so I prefer to let just a small bit of them show. They're perfect with this skirt, which lets the socks just barely peek out as I walk or sit cross-legged.

Top: Clockwork Couture
Obi belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: Heathen
Socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: Miz Mooz

Monday, October 19, 2009

Defensive Dressing

I'd love to be able to regale you with stories of the adorable cheekiness of this dress and how wonderful I felt wearing it, but the sad fact is that I'm going through a really unexpectedly rough time at work right now and am only dressing as a defense against feeling thoroughly shitty. I won't bore you with the details, though I assure you it has all the classic features of a horrific reorg: epic acts of favoritism, wholesale disregard of employees, spectacularly bad decision-making, and a shock wave throughout the department that will certainly claim many casualties before it subsides. Under these circumstances, dressing well simply becomes my way of saying, "Fuck you" to the people in charge.

The events of the last week have led me to think a lot about the sorts of ideas we convey with our style and appearance. There's a particular message suggested by coming to work looking disheveled and slovenly, but is it really the message I want to send? Is it better to say, "I've given up all hope and submitted to my miserable lot" or, "I care more about myself than I do about this job?" I've used defensive dressing in the past when I've felt bad physically, and these days I'm using it to combat feeling bad emotionally. No matter what ridiculous decisions are made around me, I'm still doing my own thing stylistically and certainly don't look the part of the downtrodden, miserable corporate drone.

It's important to remember that style is one thing we have complete control over in our lives, and it's a tool we can use to influence the way others view us. Whatever the outcome at work, and whatever action, if any, I decide to take as a result of it, I refuse to give off the impression that anyone has gotten the better of me or that I'm not in absolute control of my own destiny.

Top: H&M
Necklace: Foxy
Dress: Orla Kiely
Tights: Sock Dreams
Boots: Bata
Jacket: Tulle

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flight Suit

Although I took this entire flight suit with me to Argentina, I never wore it with the shorts attached. The shorts were the one and only item I took with me on the trip and did not wear. I got loads of use out of the jacket and vest incarnations of this piece, and even did at least one quick change from jacket to vest or vice versa, with the sleeves stashed easily in my small travel purse. But for some reason the right moment never came to wear the whole thing, so I made sure to make up for it with this outfit. Plus I was inspired by the recent post of Kasmira's in which she rocked shorts with tights.

I didn't want to take away too much from the steampunk styling of the flight suit, but on the other hand I wanted to make the outfit unique from the other ways I've worn this piece. Therefore I opted to add a little color by choosing the red boots and scarf. The sheer leopard top brought in a pattern mix and added a little contrast.

Amazing five-in-one flight suit: Shawna Hoffman

Top: La Redoute

Boots: Miz Mooz

Scarf: H&M

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Latvian Socks

Sweater weather has returned; this wool cardigan hasn't seen the light of day for many, many months. It wasn't quite cool enough for both a sweater and tights, so I opted for these knee high linen socks instead. Linen socks, you ask? Yes, and not just any linen socks either -- these were handmade in Latvia, a country known for it's quality linen. I bought them from a street vendor in Riga. I should really wear these more, but I need to figure out a better way of holding them up than simply covering them with boots.

Cardigan: Noa Noa
Belt: from a fdiffernt Noa Noa cardi
Skirt: La Redoute
Boots: Bata

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wedding Wear

I wore this dress to a wedding last weekend; I wish I would've gotten a photo of Mark's outfit as well, but we got ready at each of our respective apartments and then when we were at the wedding I just forgot. I did manage to get a headshot of him wearing the bowler I made, though. He's so dapper! We definitely got a lot of attention because of the hats; I can't tell you how many people commented on them. It still amazes me that wearing a hat is such a novelty.

This dress was custom made for me a couple of years ago by Revamp Vintage, who create gorgeous vintage reproductions. I actually had it made specifically to wear to the San Francisco Film Noir Festival, which I attend every year with Laura. It's really more of a day dress though, so it worked really well for an afternoon outdoor wedding.

The wedding was a welcome opportunity to wear this sorely underutilized dress. Quite honestly, it's not cut out for wearing to work because it's made of silk and has ZERO stretch, so after long hours of sitting and possibly a big lunch, it has the potential to get mighty uncomfortable. Thus, this one is reserved for a few hours' wear at special occasions, which is fine because its classic styling means that I can wear it for many years to come. Paired with these retro-styled mary janes, my grandmother's pearls, and a hat based on the ones Judi Dench wore in Mrs. Henderson Presents, this look is spot on 1940's -- if you can overlook the tattoos, Monroe piercing, and magenta hair, that is.

Hats: Audra Jean
Pearls: vintage
Dress: ReVamp Vintage
Shoes: Sofft