Friday, April 30, 2010

Working With a Difficult Shape

This was a casual Friday outfit, and despite its simplicity I had to play around with it quite a bit before I was happy with it. I just love the details on this top, but its multi-layer bulk combined with its difficult shape and length puts a lot of emphasis on my upper thighs. I did a few things here to counter this effect. First, I tied bows at the shoulders rather than letting the ties hang down; this gave a little more width to my narrow shoulders to help balance the bottom of the shirt. Next, I added the long scarf to slim my middle section. Finally, I slipped a narrow belt between the top and bottom layers of the shirt to define my waist a bit more; though the belt got a bit lost among all the layers of fabric, I still thought it helped.

Though I was able to effectively work with the shape of the top, there's just no denying that this color is deeply unflattering to my skin tone. I think I might try to overdye the top, perhaps giving it a dark tie dye effect if I can figure out how to do it. I'm not willing to give up on it at this point, but I do want to find a way to make it more flattering.

The big move is happening this weekend, so I'll be out of the blogging loop for a few days. I've got outfit posts lined up for early next week, but there will be a gap in internet access during which I won't be checking in on your blogs. I'll be back mid next week; until then, have a great weekend everyone, and happy May!

Shirt: Manuela Roth
Scarf: Banana Republic
Belt: Lazaro
Jeans: Acne
Shoes: Fly London

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2 Years

Wow, today marks the 2-year anniversary of Fashion For Nerds! This is my 487th post, which is far more than I ever imagined I'd accomplish. A big thank you to all of my readers and commenters, whether you've been here since the beginning or have only just recently stumbled across the blog. As I did last year on the anniversary, I thought I'd do a recap of some of my favorite outfits from the last 12 months.

And just for good measure, here are a few "special occasion" outfits that were a lot of fun:

This year I also introduced posts related to travel, both those that detail my own trips or those about travel in general. And I also did several tutorials over the last year, including my first ever video tutorial. All of the links to those feature posts can be found in the sidebar.

And finally, Jess joined the blog this year, though admittedly she's made very few appearances so far. But you'll see more of her soon, I promise!

Thanks again, everyone! It's been an amazing 2 years!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

17 Addresses

What's this, the same shoes two days in a row?? Well, as you may have guessed, my apartment is quickly migrating into boxes, and as it does my selection of shoes, as well as clothes, dishes, reading material, and everything else, is dwindling. Pretty soon I'll be living on a capsule wardrobe, but thankfully it's only for a few more days.

So far I haven't packed too many things that I've had to dig back out again, but then again I ought to be a pro at this sort of thing by now. I realized recently that this apartment is the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life. I've had 17 different addresses, and 12 of those have been since I moved out of my parents' house when I was 18. That's a lot of moving, which probably explains my propensity for being really ruthless when I decide to start getting rid of things. I sort of miss the old days when everything I owned fit into my little Toyota Tercel. Now I doubt I could even get my shoe collection in there.

This was very much a trial and error sort of outfit. I hit on the combination of the strapless top and military jacket right away, but it took me awhile to figure out the bottom half. In the end it came down to the skirt length, because any shorter than this looked really out of proportion. I think this is the first time I've worn this jacket buttoned. With many outfits I think it looks better open, but here the closure of the jacket coincided precisely with the black band under the bodice of the top, so buttoning it just made sense.

Jacket: F21
Top: Mica
Necklace: Manu Lizarralde
Skirt, tights: Noa Noa
Shoes: John Fluevog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This outfit was inspired by Rad_in_Broolyn's recent Angus Young look. I'm not a huge fan of AC/DC, but I must admit I've long been drawn to Angus's English schoolboy uniforms. This outfit wasn't a literal translation because it was too warm that day for a blazer, but I think it captures the vibe pretty well.

These cropped pants were actually in the bin to go to the Goodwill because I hadn't worn them in quite some time, but after getting inspired to do an Angus outfit I pulled them out again. I used to have a matching blazer as well, but I never could bring myself to wear the two together because it looked too, well, uniform-ish. It would have been perfect for this outfit, although I'm sure I would've balked at the last minute. There are limits to just how much of a costume I'm willing to wear, and anyway the jacket just wasn't a very flattering cut.

Shirt: Promod
Vest: A. Byer
Tie: thrifted
Pants: H&M
Socks: Sock Dreams
Shoes: John Fluevog

Here are a couple more Georgie outtakes from the day's photos:

Georgie channels many different animals. Here you can see her "seal" look on the left,
and her "fruit bat" look on the right.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Perfect Pair

I'm really, really excited about these shoes. These had been on my favorites list for ages, so when I saw on Amazon that they were marked down to $99 from $249, I couldn't resist. I'm really surprised I hadn't caved in sooner, as they are truly the perfect pair of shoes that I've been searching for.

What I was wanting were shoes that will go with lots of different colors, can be worn with skirts or pants, have a nice sturdy heel that's good for walking, and are light enough to travel with. Looking back over that list of desired traits, it's pretty amazing that I found anything even close to fitting the bill. But here they are! The absolute perfect shoe for me; a quirky blend of colors, chunky 2" heels and thick soles, lightweight, and luxuriously comfortable.

These shoes also come in "safe" colors -- brown and black -- too, but where's the fun in that? These babies go with everything, and I can even change up the laces if I want to bring in yet another color. I think all my other shoes are jealous.

Dress: DVF
T-shirt: H&M
Skirt: LA Made
Belt: Sunhee Moon
Shoes: Fly London "Jail"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging and Mentorship

I've been thinking a lot lately about the things that I love about having this blog, and what keeps me posting day after day. Today I thought I'd share some of that with you, but to do so I will first tell you a little bit about my job, which I rarely discuss here but which is nevertheless relevant to the way I feel about blogging.

One of my favorite things that I do at work is mentoring other people. Unfortunately with mentoring, the better you do it the less and less you're needed to, because the people you mentor eventually become independent and no longer need your guidance. I suppose this is how parents must feel as their kids grow up; sure it's gratifying to watch them accomplish things on their own, but it's bittersweet because there's nothing more to teach them.

But even when my mentees (is that a word?) at work no longer regularly need my advice, they still bring me moments of real satisfaction in my job when they show me what the mentorship has allowed them to accomplish. What I provide is not expert advice, it's just the seeds of my knowledge and experience that someone else can nurture and develop in their own way. Mentorship is a collaboration between two capable people who care about the same thing. That glimmer of an idea that I might provide is taken away and developed into something better and more complete, like a wave that pulls away from the shore and comes back bearing something polished and beautiful. This is in many ways far more satisfying than the feeling of simply being needed.

That, I think, is what draws me to this daily discussion about style and fashion. I'm clearly not an expert; I'm just someone who has a passion for it and has been dressing myself with varying degrees of success for several decades. The little kernels I throw out there, in the form of daily outfits or mini tutorials, are meant to spark the innate talents of the people who pick them up, and are meant to be interpreted in as many different ways as there are readers.

And like the mentoring I do at work, the most satisfying moments are when someone tells me about how they experimented with an idea they got from this blog and how great it made them feel or the compliments they received. Or how they've started to take more of an interest in their style, or are getting better use out of the clothes they have by combining them in new ways. Sure it's flattering to be asked for advice, but it's better still to hear that someone has taken an idea and run with it, transforming their wardrobe to suit their own unique lifestyle and taste, and developed their own skills in the process.

Not everyone who comes here needs any advice at all, of course. Perhaps you prefer to scan through the pictures for inspiration and don't often stop to read the text, or maybe you just enjoy the amusement of peeking into a wardrobe that is the polar opposite of your own. Quite possibly you're here to chuckle at whatever train wreck of an outfit I've put together today, and that's fine too. But the opportunity to provide other people with ideas that can ignite their own creativity, whatever direction it takes, is the thing that keeps me interested in this blog and is what keeps me posting day after day.

Today's outfit:
Dress: Forla Paris
Cardigan: Max Studio
Scarf: a boutique in San Luis Obispo
Belt: Oscar de la Renta
Boots (new!): Bronx

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Egads. Here I've cut off my head as well as my feet, and there's that awful lighting again. Really and truly this was the best photo out of the set. Thankfully tomorrow's will be better.

I love this Betsey Johnson dress, but when I put it on I remembered why I hardly ever wear it: it is an absolute nightmare to get on. It has one of those invisible side zippers combined with a tight-fitting bodice and a hard seam at the waist, which means I have to go through all sorts of contortions in order to pull the zipper up without it giving way too suddenly and pinching the tender skin on my side. Why designers continue to construct dresses this way is a mystery. By the time I got it zipped up I was so pissed off that I had nearly ripped the dress to shreds several times. Clearly there will need to be some alterations if I'm ever going to wear it again.

It's really cute though, isn't it? Because it's a very fancy dress, too fancy to wear to work on its own, I casualized it with the oversized sweater and plaid socks. It was a good day-to-evening outfit, which was perfect for going straight from work to Fawn's photography opening over at the wonderful bar called Olive, which I had never been to. The opening was quite a success, with a great turnout, an interesting and fun group of people, and most importantly for Fawn, a sale. A great time, and fabulous martinis, were had by all.

Dress: Betsey Johnson
Cardigan: thrifted
Belt: Urban Outfitters
Shoes: John Fluevog

Here's a gratuitous cute dog picture to distract you from today's horrible outfit photography:

Georgie surveys her domain through Mark's window. She fancies herself quite the watchdog.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Milky Way

What's with the shitty lighting and chopped-off feet, you ask? Well, the 'good' camera was over at Mark's place, and I had to make due with my point-and-shoot on the self timer. Because of the stacks of moving boxes everywhere, this was the furthest away that I could set up the camera. Tomorrow's photos were shot this way as well, but fear not, I've got the SLR back now and the better photos will resume in a couple days.

This top doesn't get a lot of wear, and I'm not entirely sure why. I think by itself it just looks a bit boring for my eye. But I liked the way that it added some black to this outfit without looking too harsh against the soft bubblegum pink. The pattern of the top has sort of a milky way pattern that works well with the small studs on the boots.

Cardigan: American Eagle (a gift from my sis)
Top: Some random store in Krakow
Belt: another gift from my sis
Skirt: Lemon Twist
Tights: MP
Boots: All Black

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Extending the Life of Clothing

I love the socks-with-boots look that I've seen both Chelsea and Erin wear successfully many times, but I've had a tough time styling the look myself, probably because I just wasn't pairing the right pieces. With this one I finally found a combination that I thought worked -- the socks were tall enough that they only showed a small amount of leg and didn't look too schoolgirlish, and the long cardigan smoothed the transition between the short dress and the socks. In fact, from the back you wouldn't have been able to tell that the socks didn't come all the way up.

It's interesting to note how old all of these pieces are. I've had the dress since the late 90's and recently had it shortened; the cardigan was purchased for a wedding I attended in 2005; the boots are from my trip to Prague in 2006. Together though, the combination looks quite fresh to me, which just goes to show that clothes can have a much longer lifespan than what the ever-changing fashion kaleidoscope might lead you to believe.

If you look closely at the cardigan, you can see that the channel which held the self-belt is much lower than where I belted it here. Belting it in the original location gives the cardigan much more of a bathrobe appearance, and for that reason I hardly ever wore it -- and in fact almost got rid of it -- until I hit on the idea of removing the self belt and cinching it wherever I wanted. You can see the belt channel, but who cares? This is a much more flattering shape and feels more current to me. And the fabric, a silk and cotton blend, is so ideal for Bay Area weather that I'm really glad I kept it. It's a great piece for brightening up an outfit while still staying warm and comfortable.

To extend the life of these particular pieces, I've used a variety of approaches: I shortened the dress, removed the self belt on the cardigan for different belting options, combined the short dress with the long cardigan for a more modern proportion, and wore the dress with over-the-knee socks for a different look. Other ways you can extend the life of clothing include:

  • Dyeing items that are faded or have an out-of-date color
  • Adding embellishment such as studs, ruffles, different buttons, etc. (you can also accessorize shoes with clips, chains, spats, etc.)
  • Having an item tailored for a different fit and shape
  • Layering (obviously a frequent strategy of mine!)

Do you have garments in your closet that could be alterered or worn differently to keep them looking current? What tricks have you used to modernize older pieces?

Cardigan: Max Studio
Dress: from the 90's, shortened
Scarf: Banana Republic
Boots: Bata
Cotton Pettipants (via Amazon): 007Lingerie

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Postcards From San Francisco: Love to Haight You

    This is the second installment of my Postcards from San Francisco series. For an explanation of what this series is all about, you can get caught up here. The rest of you can dive right in.

    Today I'm going to tell you about my little corner of the city, the Lower Haight. Most people know Haight Street from the glory days of hippie bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Starship, but that refers to the other end of Haight Street, which is known as the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, aka Upper Haight, or simply The Haight. The area I'm talking about, where I've lived for the last 5 years, is the lesser-known end of the street, which is closer to downtown and is a different neighborhood entirely.

    Let me clear up one little thing before I go any further. I've heard Haight Street pronounced a lot of different ways, but the correct way sounds just like HATE. This of course leads to many plays on words for the local business names; there's the Love & Haight deli, the Haight to Wash launderette, and Haight Mail email service. I'd love to open a beauty salon for the sole purpose of calling it Don't Haight Me Because I'm Beautiful.

    Though just 18 blocks long, Haight Street has a distinctly different culture as you go from Haight Ashbury to the Lower Haight. While Haight Ashbury is certainly interesting and has some great shops and restaurants, it also has a strong undercurrent of hippie burnout drug culture that is completely distasteful to me (if I filmed a show there, I'd call it Everything I Haight About The 60's). It is also filled with tourists most days of the week, which can be fun, but which also robs the area of the feeling that anyone actually lives there. Lower Haight is more of a locals' neighborhood and is filled with funky little bars, friendly local shopkeepers, and great, cheap restaurants. There aren't any sights or tourist destinations in Lower Haight, but it's a vibrant little neighborhood and is lively from the early morning until the wee hours most days.

    Upper Haight: it turns out the obnoxious street kids have been there since the 60's.

    On the weekends an older gentleman sells newspapers near Haight and Fillmore, live jazz music spills out the doors of Cafe International, and the outside tables at Cafe du Soleil are packed with people and their dogs. On sunny days the huge front windows of Danny Coyle's pub are thrown open and the chatter and cheers of people watching the game can be heard, as the smell of stale Guinness wafts out to the sidewalk. Mickey's Monkey, an excellent local antique shop, piles furniture out on the sidewalk so you can browse as you walk by (this is how I ended up with my antique Singer sewing machine), and the many medicinal marijuana dispensaries perfume the air with a distinctive odor. Many of the buildings in this area are adorned with interesting street art, and then the whole neighborhood is filled with the beautiful Victorian, Edwardian, and Queen Anne architecture that San Francisco is known for.

    Haight Street is one of those places where it seems like anything can happen, and frequently it does. Just a few weeks ago I walked down the street and returned a few moments later to the sight of flashing lights and firetrucks. A Muni bus had taken out a fire hydrant at Haight and Fillmore, and the geyser of water shot up higher than the tops of the buildings and flooded out the entire corner, including the brand new Indian restaurant that had opened only a few days earlier. The opposite corners of the intersection were packed with onlookers (including me), who of course had their cameras and cell phones out to capture the spectacle.

    In case you're wondering, Mark and I won't be moving far from this part of the city; our new place is only about a mile from where I live now (and a mere 6 blocks from Mark's), and is an easy walk to either end of Haight Street. I'll leave you with a few more photos of my little corner of San Francisco.

    What a Muni bus does when it's not running over fire hydrants.

    O'Looney's is one of the louder buildings in the neighborhood, and Molotov's has the cheapest pints on Haight Street.

    Cafe International is a relaxed little hangout.

    Local color in its various forms.