Hardly Muted

My professional wardrobe has undergone a lot of transformations within the past year. When I first started out, I used to wear one brightly colored item swathed in darker tones. I wanted to use colors to reflect a sense of youthfulness without looking juvenile or, heaven forbid, unprofessional. Nowadays, the color palette is far more subdued; some would even say muted. Maybe my clothing choices reflect a growing sense of seriousness as I take on more responsibilities, but I refuse to succumb to looking generic. Instead, I try to make statements with subtle details--something that stands out without being brash. A quiet dignity, if you will.

In a world of dark suits, I sometimes stand out in jackets and sweaters that are the same cut as the rest, but in off-white or beige. To top it off, I'd wear a dark shirt with that beige blazer. Inverting the color scheme is one way to play with a conservative swatch without looking, well, too conservative.

Another way to stand out, ironically, is to wear a couple of different dark colors together. While many people automatically think of pairing contrasting colors, run in the other direction--wear a combination that seem to blend together...but not really. It keeps people guessing what makes something that appears to be uniform throughout look just a little different. Last weekend, I found a couple of items that embody this principle.

The stores on Melrose Avenue are usually too rich for my blood, though I would go out there once in a blue moon if there was a really good sale. This time, I was enticed by a really good sale. Creatures of Comfort is a store that admire for the selection, but it is mostly in the "look but not touch" category due to budgetary reasons. A 60-90% blowout sale, however, made past-season merch fall into the "more affordable" range.

The two things I got had green backgrounds and barely discernable details in black. This Rachel Comey jacquard skirt is the perfect escape from the generic dark pencil skirt. The pattern is distinguishable, yet subtle, which makes it a perfect candidate for spicing up the suit jackets, black cardigans, or beige shells. The pattern on the is just gorgeous. Since the fabric is thick, it holds its shape well and keeps me warm on a cooler day.

[Gap fleece peacoat, Gap t-shirt dress (worn as top), glass and pearl necklace designed by me, ring from American Eagle Outfitters, Rachel Comey skirt, Capezio boots]

I also found an Emma Cook dress that I knew was mine the minute I laid eyes on it. The fabric drapes just right, gathers in the front just so, and the bib front was just done to perfection. Leather and lace is not a common combination, and it is difficult to make it work, but this achieves the purpose--the dress is very feminine and flattering, but there is a bit of toughness behind the charm. I wore it with an ivory cardigan, but it would work just as well with a dark blazer.

[Emma Cook dress, Sublet cardigan, American Eagle Outfitters ring (they had a buy-one-get-one-half-off deal, so I got to bring home both rings I loved), Target tights, Modern Vintage pumps]


Thrifting Jackpot: The Dresses

As promised, here are pics of the dresses I got from the Goodwill last weekend. Given the crazy changes in the weather, I managed to wear almost all of them this week. Lately, I have been in a mood for very feminine dresses, and I have been wearing dresses or skirts whenever practicable.

The first one that caught my attention has the most interesting print--lush green background with columns of green arches and a few flowers here and there. The shirtdress has gold buttons that I'm a bit ambivalent about--they could almost be tacky, but they also lend that vintage feel. The dress is really comfortable. To update the look, I slipped on some ultra modern shoes and a beachy ring I made a while back.

[Vintage shirtdress, ring made by me, Maison Martin Margiela lucite wedges]

I found another green dress that I absolutely love--it has a 1950's feel to it. It has a beautiful emerald green color which, unfortunately, is difficult to capture accurately (the first picture below is the most representative shot I could take). The fabric is light and soft with a subtle silky shine, which makes it perfect as a summer dress. Unfortunately, the fabric wrinkles very easily, and ironing doesn't help much. I'm sure I can figure out how to solve this problem soon enough. Another problem is that the buttons have a tendency to pop out (yikes!), so I have to wear something underneath to avoid "accidental exposures." I wore it with the Margiela wedges again...seems like a trend I'm on when working with vintage dresses.

[Vintage dress, Maison Martin Margiela wedges]

I wouldn't even call this next garment a "dress," but that's what it was classified as. My friend commented that it looks more like a tennis dress. It may very well have been, but probably for someone shorter. The lace trim and the buttons are the cutest. I decided to wear it for work with more sharply tailored companion pieces. On the weekends, I can see myself wearing it with straight-legged jeans or even those vinyl leggings and platform sandals.

[Vintage "dress," Forever 21 fleece cropped bomber, Forever 21 pants, Abaete for Payless pumps]

I don't know why, but nautical pieces lure me with their Siren calls. Not having the will of Odysseus, I succumbed to it. Fortunately, the consequences of my weakness is not quite so dire. I haven't worn it yet, since I just got it back from the dry cleaner, but I probably will wear it next weekend.

The last dress I picked up from the Goodwill is just loads of fun. The dress is clearly from the 1980's, an era I usually have no affinity for fashion-wise, but the mod appeal really gets me. The asymmetric columns of color, evocative of Piet Mondrian's paintings, make this anything but an ordinary black shift dress. There is a flap in front of the dress that stops short of the hem, adding another dimension of wonder.

It only seems natural to wear the dress with another really bold color. When I saw a pair of hot pink tights for $1.50 at the Target clearance section, I picked them up with this dress (and my army of black garments) in mind. I wore it out for dimsum and grocery shopping with friends today, and got a bunch of stares from older folks who didn't even bother to hide their disdain. I'm not that offended, just amused by the reactions. The fun was all mine.

[vintage Liz Claiborne dress, Forever 21 fleece bomber, Matchstick ring from Gemmafactrix on Etsy, tights from Target, Ciao Bella peeptoe booties]

I got a couple of other things from the thrift store, but one of them has yet to come back from the dry cleaner's, so I'll save them for another post.


Thrifting Jackpot

Today I finally hauled my old prehistoric TV (the one with practically no AV inputs/outputs to speak of), an old vacuum cleaner, and a bunch of old clothes and shoes to the Goodwill. I couldn't do it before because I had no time to speak of, and I could not possibly haul the big ol' telly down to my car by myself, especially when the elevator wasn't working half the time. Luckily, my roommate was around today to help me. It was nice to clear out some space, and it was also nice to introduce a newbie to the wonderful experience of thrifting.

I swear, my roommate must be my lucky charm. She found some really cute t-shirts, and I found so many gorgeous vintage dresses today. Most of them were in pristine condition, a few need a little work (which would be a cinch with the sewing machine), but all of them are just gorgeous. I'll be sure to show them off to you soon.

Have a great weekend!

Weekday/Weekend--Bright Stripes

I know I probably have waaaay too many striped tops in my closet, but I love them all. Stripes are merely a simple arrangement of lines upon a canvas, but each color combination evokes a different feeling. Dark stripes on a white shirt lend a nautical feel; bright stripes on a darker background feels a little bit seafaring, but a lot more of something else.

I picked up this bright-blue-on-dark-blue 3/4-sleeved stripey sweater from a forlorn-looking Loehmann's clearance rack sometime last year for under $20. I had a lot of striped t-shirts by that point, but not striped sweaters, so I figured it was "different" enough from what I already have. I really love how the bright blue stripes pop out against dark backgrounds. If I can't figure out what to wear for work in the morning, I know I can turn to the bright stripes--they add a bit of scintillation to the generic dark outerwear and pants that I wore much of the time in the winter.

There was one day when I had to dash home from work and change in time for a movie sneak preview (I highly recommend "Sunshine Cleaning"--it's a fun movie). The sweater was the only thing I didn't change, because the stripes are so fun and dress down so easily with a hoodie and some funky shoes. Even in a more casual outfit, the stripes hold their own. I think I will wear it more on the weekends when it cools down again.

[Weekday--Sweet Robin peacoat, L'Ecole des Femmes sweater, Banana Republic pants, Max Studios slingbacks]

[Weekend--Da Nang hoodie, L'Ecole des Femmes sweater, Charlotte Ronson for Urban Outfiters skirt, black tights, Maison Martin Margiela wedge sandals]


Giving In

When the leggings trend started initially, I couldn't stand them. There's nothing wrong with wearing them as pants under clothes--I wore jeans under dresses all the time. However, I've seen way too many people wearing them in lieu of pants. That was not a pretty sight.

However, given the creative ways that I've seen leggings be reworked (namely, in cool colors, fabrics, and patterns), I decided to reconsider my opposition to them. Aesthetically, Rodarte's fierce cutout leather leggings are certainly right up my alley, and I owe my mind-opening to them. Practically speaking, ankle-length leggings are starting to look really good with my collection of miniskirts and minidresses--the older I get, the more self-conscious I start to get about wearing them. Although they look great with tights, tights are just not opaque enough sometimes. I'm still not crazy about footless leggings (I'd rather have my whole foot covered), but there are no better alternatives right now.

Someday I'd love to take a crack at Six Six Sick's tutorial on how to make my own cutout leggings, but until then, I'm going to stick with these:

[Ya-Ya terry tunic, Mike & Chris shrug, Forever 21 pleather leggings, Nike checkered sneakers]

For someone who isn't crazy about leggings, I love these. They're edgy but not risque when worn with something more conservative or toned-down.


Brimming with Happiness

It has taken me a very, very long time to find a fedora that fits my small head and my budget. I bought a cheap black one from Express years ago, but it was simply too big and had the propensity of nearly being gone with the wind. There are plenty of hats around, but none of them seemed to look right on me.

About 6 months ago, I found the perfect fedora at Urban Outfitters. The woven straw material is far from classic, but it is very practical in the summer. However, it was more expensive than I liked, so I decided to wait until it goes on sale. A few more months of waiting ensued, but the wait was worth it.

I went to the Farmers' Market today to do some grocery shopping. The weather feels more like Summer than Spring. It was nice to be out and stock up on organic veggies without paying an arm and a leg.

[Urban Outfitters hat, Issac Mizrahi for Target sunglasses, Marc by Marc Jacobs bow ring, old corduroy blazer from some store at the mall, Forever 21 gray t-shirt with yellow stripes, Mike & Chris suspender skirt, Sigerson Morrison sandals]