Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Dresses: So What?

The older I get, the less I really care about giant award shows in general. But usually, my interest is at least piqued by the fashion. For some reason, this year I have experience a great shift in ambivalence towards the dresses I've seen at the Golden Globes, Grammys, and Academy Awards. Maybe it's because this is the year I really started to delve into personal, unique style, and have shifted my opinions about what fashion really means to me. Starting this blog, then discovering and exploring an endless stream of style blogs has shown me that celebrity-based trends and mainstream media portrayals of style are two dimensional and slightly dead. Especially compared to what many everyday, normal, but ridiculously chic, women are accomplishing with limited budget, little no access to designer labels, and in many cases, a good sewing machine.

Not that I blame actors and actresses. It's their job to be in movies and tv, not to dress well. That's why tv and movies have wardrobe departments. Sure, some of them love clothes and put together some killer looks. But most of them could probably care less about keeping up with trends and going shopping. No wonder stylists are essential these days. And if you think about it, while the media and popular culture hypes up award shows as the ultimate platform for the best dresses in the world to be worn and shown, there's a strong pressure to look good and not take risks. Hence, my reaction to most of the award season dresses I've seen this year, which can be summed up as this: uh, pretty I guess? Kinda looks like a billion other dresses I've seen before.

So I'm not going to slam anyone for being boring or safe, because when it comes down to it, I get it. Pick a pretty dress, something nude/white/red and sparkly/strapless/with a small train, dip your head in a bucket of hairspray and the rest of you in borrowed diamonds, and just get through the night without fear of being mocked on E! the next day. Meanwhile, even I found a couple of standouts at last nights Academy Award ceremony.

My first pick: Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine. Genius. She can do a neutral color without looking boring cause THAT HAIR. Also, love that she didn't go for a typical updo. I think loose, flowing hair complements a fancy dress so much better than weird helmet head. Also the vintage silhouette fits perfectly, loose enough so she looks comfortable, but still sleek. Long sleeved dresses are huge right now, but most celebs wouldn't have the balls to bust one out on Oscar night. And I doubt anyone else would have looked right in this dress, a sure sign that she's got her personal style nailed down.

The other dress I loved was worn by some girl. The fact that I had no idea who she was yet still stopped dead when I saw her proves she looked awesome. She's actually the daughter of Ed Catmull, who apparently works for Disney/Pixar. The dress is, of course, killer. The cutout takes a simple red gown to another level. But it would still be pretty meh if it weren't for the fact that she's wearing the obligatory blogger glasses. Maybe they should just call them o-blog-atory glasses. Amirite? No? Moving on. She is adorbz and those glasses are better than any boring old diamonds.

Come back soon, as I have a few more things to say about this years gown-wearing season. Who else did I love? Which dress seemed boring at first, but won me over after weeks of deliberation? Which two lovely ladies did well enough to land on my fave list twice? 

Images courtesy of

Slowly we unfold as lotus flowers

Joe used to be really against v-neck t-shirts on guys, until we discovered the ones at the Gap. They have a modest, not-too-low cut that's not too hipster (read: stop around the collarbone, not halfway to his navel). He has a couple of the Gap ones in various colors and a pack of Ralph Lauren white v-neck undershirts, and they're pretty much his daily uniform. So when I saw this women's Ralph Lauren white v-neck at Value Village I knew I had to get it and be twinsies with him. Bonus: my other white tee is really old and scoop-necked and kinda short, so I hardly wore it. This one fits much better and has the cool little polo-playing man and horse on it.

I'm either channeling Meg White again like in this post, or I've been watching too many Thom York dancing videos:

(more on Dancing Thom's tumblr)

Urban Outfitters trench coat, thrifted Polo RL t-shirt, thrifted Levi's, thrifted oxfords, grandma's scarf, bracelet in my etsy store, dad's belt

Friday, February 25, 2011

Threat Level Midnight

Most oversized plaid shirts have connotations of grumpiness and hipsterism and people who like bands I've never heard of. But the kicky red color on this number transcends that image, and feels overall like a happy and comforting kind of plaid. Maybe that's why I added this knit hat with a surprise happy frog friend on the back. I could even see this shirt tucked into a mini and paired with some killer heels for a fun evening look. How would you style it? Tell me your ideas, or buy it for yourself and remix to your heart's content! Now available in my etsy store here.

Button-up from my etsy store, handedd-down Target t-shirt, Celebrity Pink jeans from Buffalo Exchange, Report boots, Charlotte Russe socks, handed down hat

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stop in the name of pants

I got these vintage high-waisted pinstripe trousers last week, another item destined for my etsy store. To be honest, I've seen some girls hit this trend out of the park, but I never felt it was quite right for me. Ever the experimenter, I took these out for a test drive today, and ended up liking the look more that I thought I would. This pair is a bit big on me, so they weren't totally ideal, and they were so long I had to wear my five inch heels to avoid looking like I was wearing a zoot suit. But I love the sportswear look, and the red stripe was so pleasantly preppy. They also made my legs look really long. Like what you see? Hop on over to my store here and get them for yourself. (And check back soon, as I will be listing the bag and earrings as well.)

Handed down t-shirt, vintage pants from my etsy store, mom's old belt, vintage Lou Taylor bag, Jessica Simpson heels


Who needs leopard print when you can wear the actual animal? Well, not literally. But you've gotta love the majestic depiction of leopard heads on this skirt. I found it thrifting last week, one of many finds that aren't just for me to enjoy, but you as well. That's right, this baby has been added to my etsy store (link here), and it's up for grabs! It's a great vintage 1980s piece with belt loops and pockets and jungle imagery. Perhaps I was drawn to it in the midst of my current Netflix marathon....I've been powering through Lost for a couple of weeks. So I guess the tropical plant fronds and flowers triggered my subconscious. I'm on season 3 now, which is still excellent, but I've been warned that the show gets ridiculous (not in a good way) soon, so perhaps my voracious episode consumption will slow down and I can get back to things like blogging, job hunting, taking out the garbage, venturing outdoors, etc. 

Goodwill little boy's blazer, Old Navy camisole, vintage skirt, mom's old belt, Jessica Simpson pumps, vintage bracelet (will be added to my etsy store soon)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't tell me what I can't do

After being with Joe for two years, I like to think that I have a pretty good idea about what outfits he's going to like and which he'll be ambivalent/confused about. When I thrifted this lovely Old Navy blouse last week, I was sure he would love it. It's a button-up, one of his favorite styles on me, and red, one of his favorite colors on me. (Sorry it looks kind of orange in the bathroom lighting is mediocre at best.) But when I showed up at his place and asked him about it, he was unenthusiastic. He didn't dislike it, but he was rather confused by this style, which is apparently kind of pirate-y. I, on the other hand, am wholly infatuated with it. The sheer fabric, ruffled sleeves, seaming and color are lovely, and I have a dearth of pretty feminine blouses, so it will fill a big hole in my wardrobe. 

I accessorized with an old belt of my mom's that's cracking and falling apart. I've always been the type who's drawn to minor, intentional imperfection in fashion. I embrace holes in a cardigan, wear vintage rings with missing stones, sew on a mismatched button when the original goes missing. I'm not sure if I really value character and originality over perfection, or I'm just rationalizing my laziness. For now, I'll keep claiming it's the former.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The second button literally makes or breaks the shirt

Sorry about the awkward hand placement in that first picture, but I wanted you guys to see my new favorite thing. I bought this vintage gold-plated bracelet to put in my etsy store, but since I'm not going to prepare my listings until next week I decided to wear it. Every minute. All the time. Forever. I love it because I have so many bracelet issues most of the time, due to my tiny child-wrists and hands. I've never been able to participate in bracelet-related trends because of my affliction. However, this piece is hinged so that it opens up entirely by pushing a button.

Speaking of buttons (best segue ever here, and I didn't even plan it!), have you ever heard that Seinfeld bit about proper button placement on a shirt? This button-up is the perfect example of bad button placement...the first one is so high it looks weird and causes unflattering pulling and gaps when fastened, the second is so low I get a little more exposure than I like. I've resorted to a secret hidden ninja safety pin about an inch above button number two. 

Pacsun cardigan, Hollister shirt from Value Village, antique store pendant, Levis from Value Village, thrifted boots, thrifted bracelet, dad's belt

The spoils

In my last post, I mentioned that you should always bring a camera on thrifting excursions, because there is ALWAYS something worth documenting for posterity. First up, from my favorite consignment store is this gorgeous thing:

Oh yeah, and did I mention...

Vintage Oscar de la Renta. If it was in my budget, I would have snapped that baby up and put in in my etsy store post haste. As it stands, if any of you out there want it I might be able to arrange a return trip and secure it for you. If it's even still there. Priced at about $35 in the store, with the cost for me to ship it this could be yours for about fifty bucks. And if you are wondering, yes it's amazing and unbelievable and the quality is impeccable.

Moving on, I went to my local Value Village for the first time yesterday, and was blown away with how much great stuff they had. There was even a specific vintage rack where everything was priced about the same as everything else in the store, and 90% of it was awesome. Here's a brand I wish was still around today:

There were, of course, some ridiculous sequined items, but this one was totally elegant and gorgeous. Also, it weight about ten pounds.

Now, if you come across a vintage, shoulder padded, confetti-covered vintage jumpsuit, for the love of Mike, try it on. Then get a picture of yourself and post it on your blog, despite the fact that the image will surely cause your boyfriend to break up with you.

I was actually in the store so long that the song that was playing when I came in started again as I was leaving. The soundtrack is one of the more entertaining aspects of shopping at Value Village. The mix varies from oldies to late nineties, and in general the songs are familiar enough that people around you might sing along to themselves without realizing they are doing it. 

All in all, I had a great time, especially since I haven't been thrifting in forever. For whatever reason, it's a passion of mine, and I get a kick out of all the crazy stuff I find. I ended up purchasing a few items for the etsy store, so come back soon to see me try and style them up for your pleasure (and to try and convince you to buy things). I've been wearing two of my purchases since I bought them, and it may be painful for me to offer them to you since I have grown to love them so, but I'm a giver. In the sense that, I might allow you to pay me to give them to you.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Practical Style Guide: Thrifting

Full disclosure: I am generally not a fan of tights with shorts. I've only done it once before, and it was fine, but if I'm going to put on an outfit that requires tights I tend to believe that a simple, basic skirt is a better choice. I'm not sure what made me give it a whirl today, but I felt really cute and comfortable. So, I'm eating a bit of crow here. Don't expect this look to be a staple for me, but I won't completely write it off anymore either.

Now, down to business. Anyone who does a lot of thrifting knows that the whole process is pretty much an art. From which stores to visit, which sections of each store, how to find diamonds in the rough, right down to what to wear. I have perfected the ultimate outfit template for a thrifting trip, so I thought I would share my insights with you all.
1. Begin at the beginning, with a good foundation. Tights are ideal for a number of reasons. They provide a barrier between you and the clothes, cutting down on the ick factor of trying on unwashed used clothing. You can easily try on pants, skirts, dresses and shorts over them. Some people might lean toward leggings, but I maintain that tights are superior because if you must take your shoes off, either in the fitting room or when trying on shoes, you've got a barrier between your feet and the floor. You could do leggings with socks, but you will look ridiculous when you have to wear them while you're trying on skirts or dresses.

2. A basic shirt. Though I'm wearing a t-shirt here, a plain cami or tank top is slightly better because you can keep it on when trying on dresses or shirts. Go with a plain, neutral color that will match anything. That way it won't clash with anything you're trying on.

3. A comfy skirt or shorts. Once again, keep it plain and neutral. Don't do a pattern unless it's subtle. I'm all for pattern mixing, but chances are a plaid skirt won't go with every shirt you want to try on, and you won't get a good feeling for what it will look like because you're so distracted by your weirdly clashing attire. Ideally, you should be able to slip your skirt or shorts on and off easily without a lot of buttoning or zipping, cause that gets old real fast. A dress could work, but make sure it's easy to slip on and off, and you wear a cami underneath or else whenever you try on pants or a skirt you will be topless.

4. A cardigan or jacket. Broken record here...keep it neutral. You want something you can throw on with any dress or blouse you're trying on to get an idea of how that piece might work with separates.

5. Flats. Boots could work, but they might look wonky with certain hemlines, and they're bulkier. Flats can be slipped off in the aisle to try on other shoes. And usually you don't have to take them off when trying on pants (unless they're super tight skinnies), a bonus if you'r lazy like me and hate taking your shoes on and off all the time. I guess I could just leave them off, but it helps me to be able to wear shoes with my items so I get a fuller sense of how they look on me.

6. KISS- Keep it simple stupid. Hair down so it's doesn't get messed up (though you might want to bring a rubber band just in case). Minimal jewelry. Long necklaces will just get in the way, earrings will catch, belts must be buckled and unbuckled. Two layers on top (shirt + cardi or jacket) is good, any more is just extra stuff to take off and put on. 

7. Bring your camera. There's sure to be something ridiculous and you'll wish you had it.

Do you guys have any special tips for what to wear on a thrifting outing? Do you agree/disagree with my tips? Anything I missed? I'd love to hear about it!

Guess cardigan from Labels consignment, Gap t-shirt from Value Village, Ross shorts, JC Penny tights, Target flats

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Come on, come on, come on. Get through it.

While most of you have sadly put aside your pretty red and pink dresses now that Valentine's Day is gone, I have an excuse to take mine out for a night on the town. Yesterday was our anniversary, but Joe had school, so tonight we celebrate! (We've been together two years, if you're wondering.) Italian food at a place he's never been, True Grit at the theater by my apartment, and maybe some ice cream or a milkshake later on. My red Christmas dress was begging to be worn, since the only other day it's appropriate is Christmas. Though appropriate isn't really a concept I abide, so expect to see me throwing it on to go to the beach or work or something equally ridiculous in the coming months. 

The shoes were actually my first pair of high heels. I got them back in middle school for a choir concert, and though I don't wear them much anymore my love for them is just as strong now. In fact, I like them so much with this outfit I think they're going to start making their way back into regular rotation. They're Chinese Laundry, which was my favorite shoe brand for years. I don't see it around that often anymore, but when I do I get major nostalgia.

Embarrassingly simple DIY of the day: If you want to wear a pendant on a long chain but don't have one, just attach two shorter ones together end to end. They don't have to be the same size or metal, and don't worry if the clasp shows. The best part of fashion is the presence of intentional imperfections.

Target sweater from Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange dress, old tights, Chinese Laundry shoes, antique store pendant

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DIY skinnies: a sewing adventure

I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas, but I have to admit even before I brought it home and took it out of the box I was intimidated. I can sew a bit by hand, but I'm so very out of practice. And tackling my new machine without lessons, help, or someone to even explain to me about upper and lower threading was enough to discourage me from attempting to try it out. But last week I finally sat myself down and figured the thing out. I wound a bobbin, threaded it, and did some practice stitching on a piece of junk mail with only one minor breakdown and confused call to my grandma thinking I had broken the thing already.

For my first project, I needed something so simple as to be almost embarrassing. My first thought was to carry out an idea I'd been toying with for weeks: converting a pair of stretch bootcut cords into skinnies. They were bought secondhand, and though I loved the fit and color I could never seem to work them into a successful outfit. Taking them from bootcut to skinny would make them feel more modern and fun, but if I messed them up I wouldn't miss having them in my wardrobe. I knew the stretchy fabric would be forgiving if I miscalculated. I wouldn't have to get the measurements just right. So I bravely pulled them on inside out, pinned the inside seam close to my leg, took them off, marked them, and got stitching. Not much later I had sewn both legs, cut off the excess, and had a semi-shoddy but passable finished product.

Look out, skirts and dresses of my closet. You're all about to get a lot shorter.

Old Navy denim jacket, Target t-shirt handed down, Abercrombie kids restyled cords, Converse Outlet kids shoes (I wear a size 4!), antique store pendant on two old necklace chains 

P.S.  This is what they used to look like...