Altered States: Part 1

Lately I favored buying things that needed a bit of work.

Take this Mason skirt as an example. I thought the asymmetric panels are very cool, so I kept an eye on it for a long time at the FIDM Scholarship Store, waiting until the price got marked down further. When it finally did, the size that fitted me was gone. A few months after that, only the bigger sizes were still there. I snagged a size 6 anyway because my wanting it wasn't just a passing craving. The skirt was really loose on me, but I figured that since it's A-line, alteration won't take too much work (and simple means lower costs). I don't have a sewing machine, so I had a tailor take it in. The skirt still isn't a perfect fit (it rides up when I sit down), but it fits pretty well when I'm standing up, so it'll do. Total cost: $5 for the skirt + $12.50 for alteration = $17.50. I think it's worth it.

Why do I buy things that require tailoring? Isn't that going to cost more money? Well, there are a couple of things that I thought was important in making that decision:

1) How badly do I want it? I've eyed the skirt for more than 6 months, and if my liking is so intense, it's probably a good idea to buy it. Turns out that it was a good call--the skirts are no longer there.

2) How much more is it going to cost me? I hardly know anything about sewing, much less alterations, but how hard does it seem to get it fixed? If the cut doesn't require a perfect fit for your curves, it'll cost less. Anything that has a lining and involves taking the lining apart will probably set your bank account back a little more.

3) Is it worth getting it tailored?
-If the price of the piece of clothing is low enough on its own, and the extra costs of tailoring won't push the price over your usual price ceiling for that type of clothing, then tailoring is justified.
-Alternately, if the thing you're buying is expensive, it's got to be such a really really really really really good deal, not just a good deal. After all, if you're already paying that much, the fit should have been good in the first place.
-Also, think about what you're wearing the piece for. The more formal the occasion, the better reason for tailoring. Can't go wrong with having a tailored suit if it'll help you get that job.
-And as Marcy pointed out (how could I have forgotten this one?), if a little bit of tailoring will let you get a lot of mileage on, say, a pair of pants, it pays off in the long run.

Remember that really low-cut Geren Ford dress I posted about earlier? Well, I couldn't resist today. I really love the print and, given how expensive her collection is, I don't have the ability to buy it elsewhere any time soon. I figured that I can fix the low-cut problem by shortening the straps myself. It didn't quite work out that way, but I managed to shorten the straps and did a reasonably good job with it. It's already late and it took me a while to organize my pics in a narrative order, so I'll write about it next time.

Enjoy the Labor Day Weekend, and stay safe!


My Double-Sided Tape Adventures

With all the stuff that's been going on in addition to school and work, there's less and less time for online activities. Since I still have some time before my last class of the day, I figured I'd squeeze in a post.

Although these last two weeks were enveloped in bad news, there were a few bright spots. My law review paper is officially published (yay!) and I went to my friend's birthday at a trendy bar/club. I'm not particular fond of the bar/club scene, but when I go with the right people, it's lots of fun.

Going to a hip nightspot meant I had to dress up and look hot for the occasion...oh, what a hassle. (I was being sarcastic.) I finally got the chance to wear my Pegah Anvarian top (twenty bucks, baby!) for a night out. The only other time I wore the top, I layered it over a black t-shirt because the sides and the back are so low cut. That was a huge problem when I wanted to wear the top by itself.

Because I was alternately working and studying until the dead of night, there was no time for me to buy some proper double-sided tape on such short notice. Besides, I was too cheap to pay $8 for a package of tape that won't last me very long. Hence, I decided to try to create my own version.

I needed tape that was sticky enough to stay on me, even if I heat up and bounce around a lot, and not leave tape residue on my clothes. I already had that tape on hand--3M's Nexcare fabric tape, which can be found in the first-aid aisle of drugstores. I got mine at the 99 Cents store, where the tape was cheaper. Each roll will last many uses. I peeled off a small piece, made a loop (with the sticky side out) so that it tapes onto itself, then slapped it on. It adhered well enough, but the problem is that the inside of the loop is free to move around a lot. Therefore, if the pieces are too big, your shirt may shift and expose the tape. I tried to solve the problem by sticking the tape further "in," away from the edges, but it was obvious that it's not an ideal method.

I decided to try out another idea. I went out and bought double-sided Scotch tape, thinking that I can use it to connect up the non-sticky sides of the fabric tape. Alas, the Scotch tape was not powerful enough for that purpose. OK, so Scotch tape didn't work. Let's try glue! In less than a minute, I found out what an unfeasible idea it was. In the end, I went back to my ghetto taping method using small pieces of tape, and lots of them. They lasted throughout the night, though sometimes my top did move around and I had to straight it out to hide the tape. It worked, but definitely not the best way. At least peeling them off wasn't very painful.

Next time, I'll just have to find other alternatives and make sure I don't infringe any patents while I'm at it.


Cost Without the Benefit

"Life is expensive enough as it is. Why pay more?" is the description of the blog, so I find it fitting to embark on a related but more serious topic. Yes, it's expensive simply to live, and there's no need to pay more with money or life itself. I rarely step on a soapbox for this blog, but I think it's important on this occasion. If you don't like to be lectured to, I understand. Come back next week to lighter fare.

Earlier this week, my uncle succumbed to a long bout of a respiratory disease. Suffocation is a terrible way to die. He smoked for 50 years, ever since he was a teenager, and he smoked a couple packs a day. The monetary costs of the cigarettes alone are astronomical. Just think--a few dollars a day, 365 days in a year, times 50 years. That's enough to buy a car or two, or enough to fund someone's college education. What's worse is the medical costs. Doctors, hospital stays, home health equipment, medication, you name it = hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But wait, that's not all. The human toll is far more tragic. Quality of life sucks not just in terms of being sick all the time, but rather in the limitations of what a person can do. I remember inviting him to my college graduation ceremony and party several years ago, but he could not attend because his oxygen supply would not last that long. It's like being put on a short leash--the distances you're allowed to travel is dictated by the capacity of a little green tank. Luckily, he was retired by then, but if he was someone who had a family to support, life for the entire family would have been very difficult. Relying on disability payments from the government isn't enough to cut it. As years go by, the condition gets worse, and nothing else could be done. Those loved ones who are left behind also incur heavy emotional and physical costs, both through the caretaking and the grieving.

I would not have talked about this if it were an isolated incident, but this is the third family member I've lost due to diseases that are either rooted in or worsened by smoking. One of them probably died from second-hand smoke, since he didn't smoke but was around people who did. I'm not judgmental about the character of people who choose to smoke. However, I do hope that if you or your loved ones do smoke, please at least take the time to think if it's worth it, both to yourselves and your families. The ads you see on TV and all the stats you've heard might seem like scare tactics, but believe me, the consequences are painfully real.


Belting it out

Thank you for your enthusiastic responses to my last post. I certainly enjoyed experimenting and then sharing the results. Ever since school started on Monday, I've been long on ideas for blogging but short on time to develop them. Fortunately, spontaneous outfit experiments give me something to write about.

Belts have become indispensible to my closet. I used to have none, and now I have many of them hanging around. Back in the day when I was young and didn't have the money or expertise to find jeans that fit, I used them to cinch in the too-big waist. Such horrific memories were associated with belts, so that's why I tended to avoid them. Now that I'm more savvy about picking clothes that fit, I need them less for the utilitarian aspect and more for the decorative purposes. The color and style of the belt is often the unifying element for a seemingly dissonant outfit, and the relatively low prices allow us to build up an interesting belt collection, which in turn leads to the creation of fun outfits. More economical than having to buy new clothes all the time, right?

A good example of what a belt can do is a tunic I received as a gift. Since my former co-worker brought it all the way back from India, I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, the tunic top was way too loose on me, and I didn't know what else to wear it with other than jeans. Since the tunic doesn't really mesh with how I usually like to dress, I don't wear it very much. Today I was determined to make it work. I thought about using a braided rope belt from Target because the contrasting color would make it stand out, and the dangling tassels will dress up the top a little bit. I really like the result:

When I went out in the evening, it was clear that wearing shorts is not the brightest idea. In the course of dressing for cooler temperatures, I took off the belt and did something else with it. I'm against surprised by how well it works out:

What's the moral of the story? Certain types of belts are great because they can be worn at least 2 different ways: 1) as intended and 2) as a necklace. Besides rope belts, those chain belts and jingly coin belts have a lot of potential. Whatever belt you choose, make sure it isn't rigid and flat as a pancake, or else you'll look ridiculous wearing an obvious belt.

Conversely, if you have long necklaces with clasps, you can wrap one around you a couple of times, clip it in, and call it a belt. I tried it a while ago with a long faux pearl necklace that had a toggle clasp. It worked like a charm.


Ways to Wear an Oversized Cardigan

Riding on the coat-tails of skinny jeans and footless leggings (don't even get me started) are oversized sweaters--it's the only 80's related trend I like. Sometimes they're long, sometimes they're wide, but they're definitely oversized no matter which way you stretch it. I like to have clothes that are fitted, but I think oversized sweaters can add a nice dimension to Fall outfits. When they're worked properly, you won't look like you fell out of a time machine.

If you can get your hands on cast-offs from family members who are bigger than you, or maybe you've lost weight and found an old sweater lying around, there's no need to go out and get a new oversized sweater. The problem with inheriting something 10 sizes too large is that 1) the proportions might not be right for you, and 2) you risk looking like you don't know how to buy clothes that fit. However, these problems can be solved creatively. You'll end up with a sweater that can be worn for years on end without succumbing to boringness. As an example, I've put together a series of pictures from various experiments I performed over the course of the year. The test subject is my mom's old sweater.

Option 1: wearing the sweater as it is, in its big grand glorious form. Believe me, the sweater is really big and loose, which is why I used to hate it even though it's a perfectly good sweater. I find that I look less sloppy when I pair the huge sweater with fitted tops and bottoms; it's a nice intentional contrast. Yes, the 10-year-old sweater is gray; now are you convinced that gray is always in?

Option 2.0: Instead of using buttons that came with the sweater, use brooches to create pleats and make the sweater slightly more fitted while retaining the right amount of slouch. Here are two different ways to do this.

Option 2.1: Claw clips for your hair can also be used to perform the same function. Much less sophisticated, but it's easier to do.

Option 3.0: My favorite one by far is wearing a sweater upside-down. It looks like I'm wearing one of those cardi-wrap sweaters with the collar draping down, and since all that fabric is draping down, the bodice becomes smaller. Sorry for the terrible pictorial quality--these are the best representations.

The key is to pull just enough of the real collar around your ribs so that the back won't be curved, then button a little bit on the front. I decided to rip out the clothing care label after the picture was taken. That way, it won't look too obviously upside-down and inside-out.

Option 3.1: If you don't want that "collar" draping down, you can wear the sweater like this. Align the buttons and button holes along the bottom, then button them up.

Wearing the sweater upside down also worked with a sweater that's just one size bigger than what I usually wear (the gray sweater is a large), though now it's more like a shrug.

I know that my style is quirky and these ideas might not work for everyone, but I just thought I'd throw them out there for whoever feels like trying them out.


Geren Ford on sale at FIDM

These last couple of days, I used shopping as a way to kill time.

Last night I had to find some way to amuse myself between the time I got out of work and the time my friend hosted a night of dinner and wine tasting...mmm... My friend (you know who you are), if you're reading this, thanks again for a wonderful evening. Anyway, before I went to her house, I went to a Marshall's near my workplace. I was hoping to find tops for work, but I ended up finding a pair of work-appropriate gaucho pants that not only looked good, but fitted perfectly. Gaucho pants usually don't look good on me, so I was very happy to find a pair that worked. It had some crud stuck on it, so the price was marked down by a few bucks. I would never buy anything that has a stain on it; notwithstanding the stuff stuck on the pants, there was no staining. I figured the stuff would wash off, so I plunked down $11 for it.

I had to be at school early today, but I got to skip out early. I wanted to find more work fare, and I had luck before at FIDM, so off I went to try my luck again. I struck out with regard to work wear, and there's not much else exciting except for a lot of Geren Ford items. In case you haven't heard, the Geren Ford kimono dresses are really hot sellers. That's why I love the FIDM scholarship store--it allows me to buy designer merchandise at prices I can actually afford, without the lengthy internal debate. A lot of the good stuff already got picked off (at under $20, that's no surprise), and no kimono tunics or dresses (again, no surprise), but here's what I found:

Some very low-cut dresses tops in a variety of colors, including this one. The solid colors were black, orange, olive, and navy, and there was a dress with a flower print on a red background. I love the print dress, but the straps are so long and the dress so low cut that it didn't work for me. You really need to have a chest for this one. The sizing runs small.

Two very low-cut tops, including this one and another in black. I love this print! Alas, too low cut for me. I had to put it back.

OK, there are too many images, so I'll just be putting in hyperlinks. A black tube top with a print on it, same cut as this one. Didn't look right on me, so it went back.

A lavender bubble tunic, in Large. I like something more fitted, so I left it untouched.

Lots of shorts, including this pair.

A number of sheer tops like this one.

The blue pants (also in black) and the ankle-length version of the color-block dress you see here. Unfortunately, the dress had a stain on the front. I thought the pants looked great, but it's not something I'd wear a whole lot, so I decided not to buy them.

There were other things as well. I do NOT recommend buying the linen pants with tie belt...they look like PJ pants to me, can get very wrinkley, and waaay too brightly colored.

It was too bad that the dresses and the tops didn't work for me, since they were gorgeous. I did, however, walk out of the store with a pair of carpenter shorts. While the sizing of the tops runs small, the bottoms appear to be true to size. I tried on a small in navy blue and it really bunched up at the crotch. I was very disappointed, since the shorts were very comfortable, but I lucked out when I found an XS pair in olive for $8. They looked even better when I tried them on again at home:

The pockets are interesting--it's like a U-shape on the side. The shorts may not look the cutest, but they are incredibly comfortable and that's exactly what I need.

If you've been wanting to get something by Geren Ford and are lucky enough to be in LA, head there before it's all gone.


Dress for Success

This is probably the last week I'll be posting so consistently. School is starting next week! And I'll be working too! Ahhh! Since this is one of my few creative outlets, I'll make an effort to post at least once a week.

It's funny how when I'm in school, I can't wait to get done and start working, but when I'm at work (now I know why lawyers hate discovery so much), I can't wait to get back to school. I guess the good thing about work, besides picking up valuable practical experiences and getting paid, is that I get to dress up for it. However, dressing for work can be a challenge when you're short on cash. I'm very lucky that I work in a business casual office where I can get away with a lot more than someone at a big law firm, but who knows? Maybe even the big firms will start to go with the flow. If you're lucky enough to work at a place with a more relaxed dress code, a little creativity will help you make the most combinations out of a small number of inexpensive pieces.

Let's start with a basic top, shall we? Dress shirts can be a bit expensive, but you've got to have at least one to go with your suits. For non-suit days, a shell or a even a nice t-shirt will work. I've gotten a sleeveless shell at Express for $5, but I did even better than that with 2 t-shirts (one black, one gray) for 3 bucks each from Charlotte Russe. Now, I'm not talking something you got for free when you signed up for a credit card, or even those in little packages from Fruit of the Loom or Hanes. I'm talking about fitted t-shirts in rayon blends or combed cotton, something won't get creased easily and has a nice sheen to it. Wear a cardigan or blazer over it, put on a nice skirt or slacks, add a simple but pretty piece of jewelry, and no one can tell:

Yup, that's the gray Charlotte Russe t-shirt. The fabric felt silky and looks like it's worth much more than what the price tag said. However, in order to make sure you actually save money, take good care of your clothes. Rayon makes things look expensive, but it's notorious for its cheap qualities. Cheapy t-shirts generally pill quite easily, so put them in lingerie bags before dumping them into the washer, then air dry them.

Tees with 3/4 sleeves look classier; you won't have to hide behind some outerwear in order to look professional. As long as it's fitted, it doesn't matter what material it's made of:

This outfit is one of the cheapest (if not *the* cheapest) work outfits I've put together. The Three Dots cotton tee was purchased for $3 at Rhino Mart, a store that sells past-season merchandise from department stores (it's the same place where I got the Max Studio skirt from above for $8). The skirt was $4 and bag $2, both of which came from the Goodwill. I'll talk about the shoes a little later.

If your office is more casual, you can wear a dress and a blazer or sweater over it...now you don't have to worry about buying separates.

Offices get cold, so it's important to have a good cover-up. You've got a couple of choices--sweaters or blazers. Blazers are blazers are blazers, but sweaters come in all sorts of varieties (pull-overs, cardigans, cowl-neck, sweater coats, and so on). That makes playing dress-up more fun. You can get sweaters for cheap from practically everywhere, so I won't spend much time on it, but when it comes to knits, I recommend buying new instead of second-hand. Knits are subjected a lot more wear and tear, and with second hand stuff, you don't know how much life it's got left.

A good, inexpensive blazer is harder to find because they don't stretch like sweaters do. Since blazers connote serious business, you definitely don't want them to appear cheap. For suits in general, you might want to read this post I wrote last year. I've found really good blazers at the thrift store; as I've mentioned before, suits are things that people tend to take good care of. What's even better is the price--$6.99, more or less depending on how your local thrift store prices them. However, a lot of the blazers in thrift stores I've found tend to run large. If you can't find one in your size, I have a few recommendations:

-If you want to shoot for the best, hit Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, or those huge premium outlets in the middle of nowhere that sells high-end stuff.

-If you're willing to brave the craziness, try sample sales, but all I know is that I won't be going back to the BCBG one this year.

-Ross or Marshalls may not be the best places for tops, but they have a passable selection of blazers and knits.

-For those who don't want to bother digging, I'd suggest Target, Sears, and JC Penney. Target: while I find the fabrics for the Issac Mizrahi blazers to be deplorable, the Merona blazers feel surprisingly great...I guess they spent more on the fabric and less on the designer and marketing. Despite my disdain for the blazers, I absolutely LOVE the Issac Mizrahi cardigan (shown in first picture above) that my friends gave me for my birthday. Sears: I actually like their suits, though I'm too skinny for them to fit me correctly. JC Penney: the clothes are functional enough and not too impressive, but when it's time for sales, the deals are stellar.

When it comes to bottoms, I don't have a whole lot to say. As long as it's something dark, people won't be able to tell what the quality is. All you need is a really good skirt/pair of pants to go with your one good dress shirt and one good blazer. It's pretty easy to find cheap bottoms for the non-suit days.

Let's wrap up with shoes and accessories. In a sense, they really do make or break an outfit. If you're dressed up professionally, you don't want to ruin it with ratty shoes or a casual bag. Fortunately, it's not expensive to complete the package. Thrift stores are great for classic bags and shoes...if you can find them. I got a pair of black pumps, completely unworn, for $3. It's often hard to find shoes, but bags are plentiful. This is my current $2 favorite:

My favorite cheap shoe stores remain DSW, Payless, Target. Target shoe clearances are the best! After that comes Ross and Marshall. I also lurk around department store clearances and department store outlets. (If you happen to be near a mall that has both a Macy's and a Robinson's May, go to Robinson's May for their clearances. I've seen discounts with additional 50% off this past weekend, and most of the shoes were gonnnnne.) If you want higher-end shoes, there are outlets and some crazy sales. The Barney's Warehouse Sale is one of those famous ones where people can get ridiculously good deals if they're fast and lucky. With the Shoe Frenzy that happens every year in the West LA area, you'll get jaw-dropping deals...if you managed to camp out hours ahead of time. I snagged a really nice pair of mules (in the second picture above) for $20 in the crazy BCBG warehouse sale. Unless you're really a shoe freak, I don't think it's worth going through torture to get shoes. As if wearing sky-high heels isn't torture enough...

OK, I'm tired. Off to bed...


Shameless Self-Promotion

I participated in High Fashion Girl's style challenge. The winner gets a cool vintage bag, courtesy of Grace herself. Without further ado, here's the bottom line: Vote for me! While I still have an ounce of humility in me, I have to say that all the contestants have created great outfits. I especially love Irina's idea of pinning different flower pins on the dress to emulate a very, very expensive dress.

The style challenge was a great exercise. For those of you who like to follow celeb looks, it's a great way to get a feel for how to pull together "the look" on a low budget. If you're too lazy to indulge in that fun yourself, Frugal Fashionista does that for you on a regular basis. I've been a style advisor of sorts for my roommate on her "I've got nothing to wear" days, but this style challenge is very different from anything I've done before. While I can see what I have to work with in my roommate's closet, I'm flying blind when I do the online challenge. I had to spend a lot of time pulling items from the Ether of Cyberspace, which is vast indeed. Now I can see why stylists get paid so much money...it's not easy to do.

Missed this challenge but want to join the fun? Budget Diva does it weekly.


...and found

I spent Saturday and Sunday shopping for summer work tops and came up with mostly nothing. On Saturday, I shopped with a very good friend of mine, so it was really fun. We spent time catching up, then we proceeded to go through different stores. Since she's a successful professional, she knows exactly what works for a business-casual setting (I dubbed her the arbiter of business wear) and kept me focused on buying what I actually need (yes, I heard a lot of no's whenever I pick up something cute but decidedly non-work). The department stores didn't do it for me, and the tops at Ross were either too matrony or too teenybopper. I did, however, spotted some lovely pumps; unfortunately, as I mentioned a few days ago, they didn't have it in my size. At my last stop--Fashion Q--I finally found a lovely top for work for $7. It's cute but still professional. I might get rid of the ties on the sleeve, since the resulting bows tend to be bulky.

Since I only found one item, I decided to go out on Sunday with my sister. By then, I had no taste for shopping. JC Penney is a place that I've found great stuff at before at super low prices (like a beautiful perfect-fit dress I bought for my college graduation), but the clearance racks were so picked over that I was in no mood to sort through things. Came up empty at Burlington Coat Factory (which I don't think is all that great). Same with Ross...I just couldn't find tops. What I did find, however, is a pair of those pumps that eluded me at the other Ross. And it's the only pair in my size! There were some small streaks on the side of the heels, so I asked for a discount (got 10% off). Not bad for $15.58.

I love happy endings =)


I stand corrected

Apologies for the many grammatical errors in the last post--I wrote it when I had other things on my mind last night. I've put verbs back where they belong and added/taken away the letter S according to the singular/plural nature of articles. As a bonus, I've also added a picture of the silly sign at Macy's. Enjoy!


Trends that aren't fads

I'm sick of hearing how stripes and polkdadots and patent leather and the color gray are "new trends"--they aren't! They've always been around. As far as I'm concerned, certain trends are really elements we've seen before, only repackaged in different ways or made more prominent. I feel sorry for people who slavishly follow fashion magazines and buy whatever touted as the hottest "must-have" doodads of the season in 5 different styles, then promptly toss them out the door at the "end of the season." Such a waste of money.

That said, I have nothing against following trends prudently. As much as I like things that are classic, it's no fun if we wear the same things over and over again. What happens on the catwalks provides inspiration for new ways to work things that we already have. Also, no matter how carefully we consider our purchases, we get tired of some of our old clothes, or things wear out, or we just want some new additions to liven up our wardrobes. Fashion mags and blogs give us guidance on what we can buy to accomplish those objectives. However, I believe in making the most out of what I pay for. I want to make sure that things that I invest more in will last longer, while the cheap thrills will last through at least 5-10 wears. We all know to invest more in the classics, but it's even better if the classic is also trendy, or the trendy item is also classic.

It's not too hard to sort out recurring trends from fads. All you have to do is to think about the last time you've seen the trendy items. Certain things like stripes, polkadots, patent leather, animal prints, and neutral colors are not really new trends, as they're always sold in stores and remain ever popular. Others, like leggings and dresses/skirts with pockets (I've seen plenty of those in thrift stores), come about once a decade. It's obvious that we should go cheap with the latter. Basically, if you haven't seen an item in stores very often, or if it doesn't stay in stores for long, it's probably a fad. Hence, it's always good to apply a "wait and see" approach for really trendy items to get a better estimate on staying power.

After you've identified the recurring trend, think about the colors you like. The popular colors of the stripes, for example, may vary from year to year, but it's the stripes, not the colors, that matter. There's really no need to buy a new striped top every year, so if you're going to buy one, pick a color you've always liked.

Certain recycled trends, such as metallics and patent leather, tend to be quite flashy. If you're comfortable with having a statement piece, a patent shoe/boot/bag may work for you. If you're a bit squeamish, stick with items with patent details or shoes with thin patent straps. If you're in between those two, pick a patent item in a classic cut (come to think of it, picking a classic cut is a good idea for all different kinds of trends, not just the flashy ones). For example, I saw a pair of brown Rampage roundtoe pumps with spectator details--classic with an edge. Too bad they didn't have it in my size--it was either a half size too big or small. Bummers.

Another option is to pick an item in the same family as the current trend. Gold is supposed to be really big, but personally, I find gold to be very tacky. Hence, I opt for silver, bronze, or metallic green--colors I love and in the same family. You can also go with varying degrees of sheen to suit your level of wildness or conservativeness. The added benefit of these modifications is that you'll be with the times but look a little different than all the cookie-cutter fashionistas out there.

I remember how I was in NYC several summers ago with my friend and we saw a display that read "Is Green the New Pink?" in Macy's shoe section. We thought it was really silly, so I asked my friend to take a picture of me (wearing a green dress) standing in front of the sign.

That goes to show you how silly some of these "new" trends are--because they aren't new! Let's just have fun making sense out of them.


Ma opinion de la collection Paul & Joe (pour Target)

J'aimais quelques choses de la collection Luella Bartley, et je détestais la collection Tara Jarmon. Après j'ai vu la collection Paul & Joe á Target dimanche, j'ai pensai, "La collection est...pas mal."


The Paul & Joe collection looks very chic, quite wearable in the normal, everyday sense (unlike some Luella pieces), yet certain items can be terribly flimsy (like the conceptually cute Tara Jarmon bow cami)--typical of what's right and wrong with the Go collection. Only part of the collection was there, but I liked what I saw for the most part.

The highlights:

I wanted to buy this pintuck top the moment I saw it, because this is exactly what I need for my wardrobe--something classic, cute, and goes with everything. It's got puffed sleeves!

Positively D-licious. These are great for Fall--nice and warm and will look fabulous with pumps or boots.

There was also a cotton sweater with a Fair Isle-ish print, but I can't find a picture of it. Same goes for a green and dark gray sweater--looked a little flimsy, but I still liked it.

The lowlights:

I could do without the lace on the sleeves. The whole thing was not very appealing to me.

Looks pretty in picture, but not as good in person. I could also gather its flimsiness even before I touched it. Not impressed at all.

Apparently this was a hot seller--only XL's were left on the racks. The construction seems pretty good, but it's not a piece that works very well in real life. The massive swath of material is impractical for manual labor. How do you get a lot of wear out of something like this?

$34.99 is a lot for a not-so-special pair of corduroy pants. And how many people are going to wear green pants?

Despite the fact that the number of lowlights exceeded the highlights, I really did like a lot of what I saw. I just can't remember or find pictures of everything I liked. While my impression of Paul & Joe is generally positive, the shoddiness of the pretty pieces is enough to temper my enthusiasm, hence my verdict of "not bad."

There was some Tara Jarmon merchandise left at 75% while I was there, mostly cute jeans and the flimsy bow camis. It's such a shame that there are all these tiny little fiber ends sticking out from everywhere--the cami could have been a good buy.

(I wish I could say "no languages were harmed in this post," but I know I can't. Forgive me.)


More on Scarves

After my recent post on scarves, I found a couple of things that warrant a follow-up.

La Pulga Diva came up with a brilliant way to turn a beautiful scarf into a stunning outfit that had well-heeled fellow diners jealous! I love this method because it doesn't involve any potentially ugly knots. Going-out clothes tend to be expensive, but who needs to spend more money on clothes when you can "make" your own?

Now that the weather has finally cooled down, I'm really excited about Fall fashion. Fall has always been my favorite season because it's got warm days when I can still wear my summer days, and cool days when I can get bundled up in layers. Since I've been exploring ways to tie very light scarves (I found another site on long scarves, by the way), I thought it'd be fun to see what can be done with the chunkier ones. It's nice to know that there are ways to spruce them up without making them too bulky. This site has step-by-step instructions for four styles, and this one has more classic styles. Wow, I had no idea that so much can be done!


Getting the Scoop

The word "scoop" can be good or bad depending on your vocation (wow...I just found out High Fashion Girl used the same word in the title of her latest post...what a coincidence!). If you're a journalist, getting a scoop is great for your career. If you're a scientist, getting scooped is your worst nightmare. If you're a consumer, Scoop NYC can be a saving grace.

Even though the prices are slightly beyond my range, I still rank the Scoop NYC sale section as one of my favorites. They make insanely expensive designer pieces (like Stella McCartney) actually affordable. Here are my current favorites:

Habitual New Wave skinny jeans

I have yet to find a pair of skinny jeans that looks flattering on me, but this seems promising. At $39, it's a good price for expensive denim. Available in size 27 only.

AG Fusion Stretch Jean

They look pretty comfy. Also $39. So who's the lucky size 30 diva?

Anglo Leathercraft Lace Sack Bag

Hobo usually isn't my thing, but this casual bag would be great for hands-free expeditions like shopping. At $18 as opposed to $365, it's definitely affordable. I would have gotten one if I don't already have so many bags, but this is oh so tempting...

Petit Bateau crewneck tee

As the Fall approaches, it's nice to stock up on some long-sleeved basics for layering. While the cheap stuff from the mall will do, why not spring for the nicer ones when they're about the same price? This is $9 instead of $40, available in different sizes.

What I want but can't have:

7 for All Mankind/Great China Wall A Pocket Crystal Jean--originally $425, now at a more feasible $89. I'm usually weary of anything with flashy decorative details, but the Swarovski crystal designs on the front pockets are very tasteful. Plus, I like the wash. But come on, $89 is an arm in my book. If you're a size 29, have the cash, and have been craving for this, today is your lucky day.

Leather Beth clutch by Fernanda Niven--also $89 and costs a ton for a clutch, but I like the design. It's like something off the wall at MoMA transformed into an accessory.

Vera Wrong tulle dress--definitely don't have $229 for this, and even if I did, I have no occasion to don this for. There's a $149 model with sequins, but I think this simpler dress is actually more stunning.

Caveat: I don't know what the shipping fee is, since it depends on what you buy and is calculated at checkout. Still, the savings are phenomenal.


The Power of the Scarf

Are you ready? This is it, the post you've all waited patiently for. Sorry about the quality of the pictures. I was sick all day today (yes, including during the MPRE...I just hope I passed) and didn't have a chance to retake them during daylight hours.

I used to hate square scarves because they've always looked too old-ladyish to me. After seeing Agathe from Style Bytes and others on Style Diary work them, I became convinced that they can be made into modern and stylish accoutrements. As I mentioned before, I bought this for a dollar at a vintage textiles and costumes trade show. The cost was a buck, but admission was $4.50, so let's just say this is $5.50. Price is still not bad. Here it is, in all its glory:

It has a rope-and-tassle motif, and it's 2.5 feet long on each side. Yeah, it's that big. If it were a small square scarf, there's not much I would have been able to do with it.

The obvious way to jazz up an outfit is to tie it around your neck, bag, hair, or waist:

I like how the scarf adds instant class to a casual Forever 21 henley. I thought about tying my scarf on my head and having the ends hang on the side, kinda like Nicole Richie does sometimes. Maybe on another day.

But wait, you can get so much more out of this scarf. I have a long black skirt that I haven't worn for a while, but since I've been wearing skirts as tops lately, I decided to give it a try. Using a scarf, I turned a simple black "dress" into a really nice evening dress.

Here's the simplest configuration:

Tie together two adjacent corners just under the bust, but keep the knot off to the side if there's a big graphic in the middle of the scarf. Personally, I like having slits to the side rather than down the middle, but there's another reason. The next picture explains why.

There's something not right about blatantly directing attention to one's beehind. Moving it to the side makes it less apparent.

Next up: sprucing up a tube dress

Just tuck in one corner of the scarf into the top, pick up the two diagonal corners that hang down, lift them straight up to waist-level (don't fold over), and tie in the back. If you fold the corner like an accordian before tucking it in, it'll fan out nicely at the bust. I like how this turned out; it'll work for tube tops as well. I've seen people wear scarves as tube tops, but I'm afraid it's not very secure. With a tube top under, I feel more confident (plus people can't tell that it's really two pieces combined into one).

You can totally wear the scarf as a halter as well:

This one is very easy--tie two adjacent corners together at the neck, pick up the bottom half, fold over at the waist, and tie at the back. Not as cool as the tube style in this case, probably because of the print, but I can see it working out nicely with an ombre scarf.

Finally, my favorite style:

This one's a bit trickier to describe and execute, but you can see how it works in the picture. You have to tie a "short leash" around your neck, sort of like you're putting on a tie. Once you've done that, bring the long end of the scarf across your body and wrap around. Tie the corners together at the side.

While I was at it, I decided to play with a long silk scarf that I got at the Bebe outlet a few years ago. I used it in one of my first posts and well, that scarf is as well-liked and versatile as ever:

Tie under the bust once (don't tie a knot), twist, and tie around the neck. Would have worked even better if the scarf was longer. I could have wrapped it around me a few more times.

I had a lot of fun playing around, plus I found a new and unexpected use for a skirt that I once wanted to get rid of. The next time I go to see a musical, opera, or some other fancy production, I'll definitely try it out. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this feature and that it lived up to its hyped-up expectations. Have fun experimenting!