The Shining

Many people associate shiny fabrics strictly with evening wear, and woe to those "fashion victims" who wear "too much" bling during the day. That kind of mentality is really a shame, since it seriously limits the number of times the shiny fabrics could be worn.

Functionally speaking, too much shine during the day can be a bad thing because it is literally glaring; one should not have to wear sunglasses just to have a simple conversation with a "radiant" companion. However, it is not hard to incorporate shiny pieces into the daytime rotation. I've done it quite a number of times in the past (gold lame shirt, satin strapless dress, lurex dress, gold lame shirt again):

The trick is to tone down the shine with layers and pieces that are decidedly casual and non-reflective, like cotton hoodies or t-shirts with sandals or flat boots. My latest experiment with this concept took place a number of hours ago, when I went out to an art show/fundraiser. I wore the shiny dress for the party, but I threw on a denim moto jacket afterwards so that I would not look overdressed in a cheap late-night food joint. I'm really liking this combination; come fall, I want to wear it with tights.

[Bubble necklace made by me, XOXO denim jacket (had it for years), Richard Chai for Target dress, rings from Etsy, vintage clutch, Givenchy wooden sandals]


Swap Meet

A couple of months ago, my roommate and I hosted a clothing swap. We put out a bunch of snacks (plus more contributions from the guests), a mirror, and some music on the stereo, and the rest took care of themselves. Playing dress-up had never been more fun.

At the end of the day, we all had an impressive haul. My roommate's new collection consists of a lot of my old clothes; she looks even better in them then I did. I in turn found one of my new favorites in the form of an old flannel shirt that she never thought I'd pick out.

On subsequent meet-ups, we would let out a delightful squeal as we see each other wearing clothes that we exchanged in the clothing swap. It's amazing how the same shirt or pair of pants gets worked into different styles by different people.

You can bet that we'll be doing this again.

[The bags of clothes ready to be picked over, plus a friend who already got a hold of my old yellow and gray sweater]

[Snacks galore!]

[My roommate's haul]

[That flannel shirt--paired with an old random belt, Theory blazer, F21 leggings, Maison Martin Margiela sandal-booties]

[My friend's awesome DIY shoe makeover--cute little bows + a pair of Payless shoes = major sweetness.]


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

If I look at things logically, I ought to have outgrown glitter and stars. However, sometimes I just can't help it.

I've been ooohing and awwwing over a pair of shoes with a martini heel and a pave-laden star on it, but the price was just prohibitive for a pair of shoes that better suits someone younger than I. After months of waiting, the price at DSW finally dropped to about 80% off retail, and surprisingly, there were many pairs left, including a pair in my size. Part of me thought that it is rather foolish to buy something that is arguably too cute for a grown woman. The other part of me thinks that I am still young enough to make them work, so why not have fun with them while I still can? The latter school of thought won out--carpe diem, right?

There's no doubt that they look cute, but to my surprise, these shoes can actually look quite glamorous, whether I'm wearing a vintage dress or a Casual-Friday-then-straight-for-the-weekend outfit. I think that they would be fairly discrete when partially concealed with a pair of long slacks as well. It's hard to go wrong with a black patent leather base, no matter what the embellishments are.

[Vintage look: hair flower from Arden B from ages ago, vintage dress thrifted from Goodwill, Liz Claiborne reversible belt, Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes.]

[Casual Friday: tweed jacket from Express (clearance + gift card = a clear winner), t-shirt from a dance club, Goldsign "Envy" jeans, Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes. Rings--rock crystal ring made by me, the other two are from Etsy.]


Liquid Silver

I wore this a while back, and thought it would make a great Fourth of July outfit...

[H&M jacket ($15 on clearance), Old Navy camisole ($3), dagger necklace made by me, Gap striped shorts, Pour La Victoire faux snake skin sandals]

...but the weather would not permit the jacket on the actual holiday. Time for Plan B. I resorted to something that was light and captured the spirit without the obvious color scheme. The hoodie is white, the sunglasses has blue frames, and the eyeshadow was a flaming copper red. Everything else sparkled like embers of fireworks.

[Marc Jacobs sunglasses ($15 from Loehmann's clearance), Ben Amun chain necklace ($7, also from Loehmann's clearance), Park Vogel sheer hoodie, Old Navy lurex racerback dress, Givenchy Gillie jelly sandals, silver nail polish for the toes.]

I just love fluid forms in bright, reflective silver--simple yet striking and sophisticated. In addition to the big chunky necklace above, I picked up a couple of smaller baubles. They are perfect for going with all the dark colors and simple pieces that I've been wearing for work these days.

[Argento Vivo sterling silver twist pendant necklace ($10 from Loehmann's. I wore it here, but it didn't show up so well in the pictures), Forever 21 plastic dome ring ($2.80).]


Pluses and Minuses

It's pretty nice to spend my Fourth of July with my family, and I especially appreciate some quality Mother-Daughter time with my mom. We lunched, discussed plans for the upcoming trip (i.e. what to bring, what to wear, what to gift), and did a bit of shopping for things that my mom needed. Unfortunately, we came away empty-handed and quite disappointed for a couple of reasons.

Murphy's Law is always applicable when we're shopping for something--the perfect item is available when we're not searching for it, but suddenly becomes elusive during the moment of need. There were a couple of things that we were trying to find. One is a pair of shoes--it had to be comfortable for lots of walking, it can't be too flat or too high-heeled, and it should look stylish. Unfortunately, the "comfort" options yielded shoes that were chunky and fugly, and shoes that had the right height tended to be thong sandals (which my mom didn't like). We'll give it another go at DSW on another day.

Another disappointment came in the form of dresses. I had a pretty good eye for what would look good for my mom's body type, and she tended to agree with the styles that I picked out for her. There were some very cute dresses at Macy's. Sadly, it is unsurprisingly difficult to find anything beyond a Size 10, and quite a few shoppers around us were having the same problem. I was pleasantly surprised that J.C. Penney had a wider range of sizes than Macy's did, and some of the designs are really cute, but the quality and array of styles are far more limited than the better department stores.

I've read a number of articles and blog posts about retailers cutting back or cutting out their plus-size offerings in stores, or limiting their plus-size options to the online stores. Some of those retailers rationalize their decisions by citing high production costs for plus-size clothing, or lack of demand, or some other excuses, but they are really just shooting themselves in the foot. The demand is certainly there, and woefully underserved; there really has to be something more out there than Lane Bryant or Torrid. The customers are stylish women with discerning tastes. They are willing to spend the money, but the options are just not there. My mom is by no means a frumpy woman--she knows what looks good. I was willing to spend a pretty penny for a nice dress at the store, but apparently the store doesn't want my money. That's fine--I'll go someplace that does.

In order to survive and thrive in an economic downturn, businesses with their backs against the wall should try out new ideas. The plus-size market is a ticket out of the minus-sign territory. Forever 21 is getting into the act, and Topshop is too (but only after Beth Ditto took a stand). Hopefully producers of quality clothing will follow suit.

Black Moth Super Rainbow

The beauty of a good public radio station is that the programming is intellectual, eclectic, and fun at the same time. I get my morning news on my drive to work. What comes on my car radio on the second half of the day depends on when I drive home. If I leave the office during Rush Hour, I get another dose of news along with the intriguing type of human interest stories that you can only get through print media. If I head out later at night, the music is perfect for cruising.

One night, a song grabbed my attention such that I had to go home, go online, and check the set list to see what it was. It was "Counting Backwards to Black" by Black Moth Super Rainbow. The song has been getting quite a bit of airplay on my iPod these days. It is hard to picture what a "Black Moth Super Rainbow" is, but I think the phrase best describes what I wore today.

[Converse One Star for Target jacket, black dress that I picked up for $15 from a parking lot sale, Argento Vivo necklace (clearance item from Loehmann's. I love it--simple but eye-catching), Givenchy Gillie jelly sandals.]

After waiting a couple of months for the price to come down, I finally picked up the Givenchy lace-up sandals from the local DSW. As cute as they are, I refused to pay a 3-digit sum for a pair of jelly sandals. I'll admit that even on sale, I probably paid more than I should for a pair of plastic shoes, but I love the form and the surprisingly pleasant level of comfort. I have never been a big fan of jelly shoes, but these do not look like jelly shoes at all. The matte surface is beautiful, the molded plastic does not have any seams on the sides, and the cut-outs look like gorgeous wings. For some reason, the lace-up front really got me--it adds a certain level of sophistication to an otherwise casual genre of footwear. I believe that they will be very versatile for travelling, since they can take the abuse of being stuffed in luggage and will work well with all different types of outfits. It also helps that they can be washed and cleaned easily. Given all the positives, I'm sure that I'll wear these sandals quite a bit.


Help Wanted

I hope everyone will have an enjoyable and safe 4th of July weekend! My office is closed today, so I'm trying to take some time off relaxing before fitting in some work in between the festivities throughout the weekend. I haven't fleshed out my weekend plans yet, but just getting caught up with sleep would be fine by me.

I'll be travelling overseas for a wedding in November. It'll be my first real (i.e. lasting longer than a couple of days) vacation in about 5-6 years, and it'll be the first time I'll see some family members in roughly 20 years. I'm definitely excited about that, but the planning has to start now. Since I expect to be very busy for work in the next couple of months, I'm going to have to do a lot of planning, etc. and spread out the vacation-prep labor over time.

One of my biggest concerns is getting souvenirs, gifts, etc. to my many family members. Obviously, I'll need to get a wedding gift for the bride and groom, and then gifts for aunts, uncles, and cousins. What kind of quintessentially All-American, practical, and compact gifts do you recommend for $20 or under?