Weekday/Weekend: Vested Interest

I usually don't care for half the junk mail that come through the email inbox associated with this blog, but one got my attention. I got an email about Bluefly's America's Most Stylish Blogger challenge. The challenge of the week happens to be the boyfriend vest. As gimmicky as the challenge seems (it is, after all, used to promote the products they're selling), I have to admit that it's pretty cool to see how the vest was styled by different bloggers.

Since I've been super-busy with work lately, there's been very little time to shop, not to mention I haven't been in much of a shopping mood in these past few weeks. That's a really good thing, as it pushes me to go back and rework pieces that I haven't worn much lately. Seeing the blogger challenge reminds me of the vest that needs to be worn more, now that the weather has cooled significantly. However, there are still days when the sun is out strong, so I can still combine spring/summer and fall/winter pieces in a way that I think could only be done in California weather. It would probably look quite strange elsewhere.

The vest has been mainly a work piece, but the mild temperatures from last weekend allowed me to use it for something more casual:

[J. Crew gold lame shirt, F21 vest, American Eagle Outfitters shorts, Express blue tights (from last Halloween), Dolce and Gabbana mary janes, Liz Claiborne bag, cuff from Etsy.]

Blue on Blue

Autumn has finally hit Southern California with a vengeance. I'm getting quite a bit of use of my wool suits now. I only have one wool suit and one wool-blend jacket, which doesn't quite do the trick...will have to look for more.

On cold days when I have to suit up, but not need to be quite as formal, I turn to my trusty Diane von Furstenburg blue wool-blend shift dress. After wearing it so many times, I can say that it is a very worthy investment piece (though luckily I didn't have to spent too much money on it). You've seen it before in a more casual form. Now I'm wearing it for work as intended, but definitely not in a typical way that one would envision as a work outfit:

[DvF shift dress, Mike & Chris fleece blazer, Capezio boots (many years old, still going strong).]

I've remixed this dress before (though not captured on "film") with black blazers for court and various cardigans for the office. This time, I needed something warmer for a deposition in a cold hotel conference room and strong, cold winds on the way there and back. In fact, the winds have been strong enough to knock out power in various places, including (lucky me) my neighborhood. Since the blazers that would have looked good with the dress were not all that warm, I reached for the fleece blazer that I got roughly a year or two ago for $10 at a sample sale. To my surprise, it worked surprisingly well as a tone-on-tone match. The peplum shape of the jacket also couples well with the slim profile of the dress. I think I can actually wear this to court next time if I wore a pair of pumps instead of boots.

Speaking of powerful winds that knock out power, the night before the deposition was a rather surreal experience. I came home late from work, which was bad enough, only to be further frustrated by the fact that a) I couldn't get into the garage because it was power-operated; b) there was no hot water, and the cold water was even colder than usual; c) I had to get up at the crack of dawn the next day to move my car before the towing patrol came around; d) there was no microwave to heat up my dinner on an already-late night; e) since the pilot on the stove was electrically-dependent, I had to light the stove the old-fashion way; f) [insert gripe here about the lack of modern conveniences]. Since all the lights were out and I left my brightly-lit cell phone at home that day (yup, lucky me again), I literally had to feel my way up the stairs and then back to my apartment unit.

It was frustrating to come home to something like this when I had a lot more work to do before the next day, but it was also quite nice to spend the night in candlelight. The entire apartment complex was eerily quiet--no TVs, no radios, no whirling noise from various equipment...and no human voices, as people presumably found other places to stay for the night. Although I didn't sleep much that night, I slept very soundly. It's a reminder to me that in an electronics-laden world, slowing down once in a while is a good thing.


Pasadena Art Night

As I have less and less free time to do things, I lament the diminishing variety of topics on my blog. There used to be more than just fashion--I used to write more about such things as the joys of cooking and cheap/freebie cultural events, but these days I haven't had much time to experience much of either. I'll try to mix things up as time permits.

A few weeks ago, my roommate asked me if I happened to be free after work. I still had enough energy to do something fun, so I was intrigued. We ended up hitting the Pasadena Museum of California Art for free as part of Pasadena Art Night. There were 2 amazing exhibits. One is of Wayne Thiebaud, the other of Frances Gearhart.

I can't believe that I have not heard of Wayne Thiebaud until now. As my friends and I strolled through the exhibits, we just couldn't stop talking about the paintings. The use of color, brushstrokes, and piling paint on thick with a a palette knife are just few of the techniques used to make certain elements of the picture literally pop out. For one painting of a man standing at a lecturn and another of a beach ball, we walked up close to the canvas just to make sure it wasn't 3-dimensional in form.

There are quite a few recurring themes we observed: beaches, food, and buildings. All of them involve the use of many colors. Since we had just eaten dinner before we went to the museum, we salivated after looking at the many paintings of desserts, such as this:

There's a Norman Rockwell sense of homeliness/familiarity to it, but the painting seems to be far less nostalgic and far more deliberate. The pastel-colored food itself looks very inviting, and so does the empty space--I paid an equal amount of attention to the food as I did to the bare shelf. It seems like the space was created after the multi-layered cake vacated the case, but it still left me wondering: what filled out the empty space before they flew off the shelf?

My favorite paintings were of the fantastically-steep hills nestled between skyscrapers, which look something like this:

Based on the aforementioned eye-popping paintings beach balls and lecturers, it is clear that the man knows how to depict a view from a particular perspective very, very well. However, his landscape paintings often conflate a few perspectives together, including those that seem "wrong" together (like diminishing point motifs in the middle of a field at a corner of a bird's eye view painting). But "wrong" has never looked so right in unison--the exaggerated steepness combined with the super-flat surfaces, or the profile views combined with the aerial view, just belong together. It is unlike anything I've ever seen.

The woodcuts of Frances Gearhart just blew my mind away. They're just beautiful, and hardly anyone does woodcuts like those anymore. I love seeing the series of prints that illustrate how multi-colored prints are made. Precision is a must, and there's really no room for error.

I don't know when the next Art Night is, but the two amazing exhibits I saw runs until January 31. I highly encourage anyone who is remotely interested to see it...you will not be disappointed. I look forward to more museum visits the next time Art Night rolls around.


Double Trouble

"A wide double-buckled stretchy belt that fits" is a fairly specific accessory, perhaps too much so--it has been oh-so elusive. Because my waist is fairly small, it has been all but impossible to find a stretchy belt that doesn't slide down to my hips.

Fortunately, I finally found one at Forever 21. The stretchy portion is constructed of a raffia-like material instead of the obvious elastic. Cheap without looking cheap...now that's what I'm talking about!

I've also wanted a skeleton key necklace for a very long time. I was looking for a single key on a single chain, but the necklace at Forever 21 that I ended up buying had two sitting on attached chains. I may take them apart at some point, but the status quo works for me right now.

[Forever 21 grayish-purple fleece bomber, necklace, sunglasses, and belt; Gap t-shirt dress; Giuseppe Zanotti grommeted sandals.]

Wow...I didn't realize that so many components of my outfit came from Forever 21. I really don't shop there all that much, but when I do, I tend to be pretty picky about the pieces I buy because I want them all to last. The fleece bomber, which I found for $5 a few years ago, has been one of the most versatile pieces in my closet. California weather veers from cool to hot and back again all on the same day; warm layers with short sleeves are the most appropriate pieces for bridging the gap. When I'm sick and the outdoor temperature has a 10-15 degree differential on the indoor conditions (80-something degrees vs. the low 70s), I count on jackets like these to keep me from getting even more sick.


I've been insanely busy with work and battling the flu at the same time. After finally getting the chance catch adequate sleep in the past 36 hours, I'm now wide awake in the middle of the night and feeling closer to normal, so I may as well get a little bit of blogging in before my schedule descends into chaos once more. I've managed to avoid the flu for quite a number of years until now; I forgot how bad it could be, but luckily I bounce back fairly quickly. Hope all you folks will be able to stay healthy in this particularly widespread flu season.

Before the flu forced me out of commission, I was stricken by another affliction: an unhealthy obsession with exposed zippers. It's like exposed beams in buildings--they're obviously functional, though they are very capable of enhancing aesthetics simply by existing (and sometimes by clever placements). I bought 3 things from Forever 21 featuring prominent zipper elements, each with a distinct look evoking the past, present, and future.

The Past: the miniskirt with lace trim has a very retro/burlesque feel to it. It is surprisingly well-tailored and well-made (it's lined!) for a Forever 21 cheap fix. It is a bit shorter than I'd like, so I feel better wearing it with tights. A pair of "Minnie Mouse" shoes and a sporty jacket makes the outfit more modern and leaves something to the imagination.

[Forever 21 tank ($1 from FIDM store), Converse One Star for Target jacket, The Limited bolo necklace, Forever 21 miniskirt, Target patterened tights, Forever 21 ring, Payless pumps.]

The Present: I call this a "utility skirt" because it just looks like an all-purpose skirt. It has pockets. It looks like a cross between a cargo skirt and a pencil skirt. It's stretchy. It's curve-hugging and very flattering. It is very comfortable. The list goes on and on.

[Forever 21 tank, Forever 21 skeleton key necklace, Gap scarf, Michael Michael Kors leather hoodie, Capezio boots.]

The Future: I'll let the tunic speak for itself. The whole science fiction look is so campy and absurd that I may as well throw in the ultimate accessory of silliness for my age--a Hello Kitty ring.

[Forever 21 tunic and leggings, Mike & Chris trench, Tarina Tarantino Pink Head ring, Ray Bans, Maison Martin Margiela cutout booties.]


(Color-)Block Party

After having zero energy for weeks, I'm feeling much better this weekend. I still haven't figured out what exactly is making me so tired--could be allergies, could be not eating well because I have no time to cook lately, or it could be (ironically) too much caffeine--but I'm trying to get back to living a healthier lifestyle. The hardest part is motivating myself to take the time to rest, cook, and exercise. It's a bit of a Catch-22: it seems like there is no time to do any of those things (especially when I get home really late), but if those things aren't done, the body will just get tired and productivity will keep on sliding downhill. It's just a vicious cycle. If you can get your hands on a Wii Fit, I highly recommend it--it really does work you, yet it doesn't feel like a workout. While that little 30-minute fanfare music is a bit cheesy, it sets an easy goal to shoot for.

Anyway, on with the real post. I know that I've been teasing everyone with mentions of the crazy House of Holland colorblock tights. They're tougher to work with than I thought, but I really like how the initial experiments worked out. There will definitely be more experiments with them, but it depends on how long the tights last. Sadly, on the first day I wore them out, a splinter from a wooden chair caused a run and a hole. I patched it up a bit, and it lasted through the second wear fairly well. Let's hope that it'll hold up a lot longer...

I started with some obvious companion pieces on the first try--a pair of shorts similar in color with the separation bands, and lots of black.

[Gap t-shirt, Development blazer, Red Rocket Glare necklace made by me, Miu Miu sunglasses with silver rectangular frames, rings from Etsy, American Eagle Outfitters shorts, House of Holland x Pretty Polly tights, Ciao Bella peeptoe booties.]

The second experiment involved a different strategy--bringing in something brightly colored to contrast the grayscale tights. I definitely took a risk with this look, and people probably thought I was crazy to wear this out.

[Target tank top, White by Development corduroy mini ($5 from a parking lot sale), Mike & Chris hoodie vest, House of Holland x Pretty Polly tights, Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes.]

More looks with these tights are sure to come in the future, but it is hard to say when. This is not something I can wear to work, that's for sure.