Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stealthy Bows

Sophistique Noir is back with a monthly theme, tho' this was a hard one: bows! I realized I don't have many bow-bedecked items in my wardrobe, & I had to really scramble to find anything suitable. Thus, today's ensemble features secret, hidden little bows scattered around the outfit. Let's play "find the bow"!

What I'm wearing:'
White & black pinstripe jacket, Macy's | Black ruffled tank top, Newport News | Pink skirt, NY & Company | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black & white peep-toe pumps, TJ Maxx | Pink gem necklace, vintage | Black & pink crystal Victorianesque earrings, random accessory store

(OK, so I'm early, but otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten this theme done at all! And I was jonesin' to get back on the theme-wagon after so long :-)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Touch of Red With Bonus Nail Review

What's black & white & red all over? Not a newspaper (anyone remember those?) & not exactly this outfit really. Still, I like the tiny pop of red the shoes & necklace add.

The nails, however, are a failure. Sure, they look good enough, but I heartily do not recommend this product, the Sephora by Opi Trend Tips nail appliques (this specific style is called "Ornate").  I put them on last night around 5pm, & they were already peeling off this morning. Undoubtedly, this is due to the poor packaging & instructions & overall ineffective quality of the product.

I've used the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips before (pictured here & here), & I love them. So I had a clue on how to apply this sort of nail applique. However, the Sally Hansen version comes with a two-sided buffer & an cuticle stick. You lightly buff your nails before applying the polish strip so the nail bed is prepped, then you use the stick to press the applique down around your cuticles & gently tear the excess bits of the strip away. Finally, you use the rough side of the buffer to smooth the nail tip & seal the end, which also removes last bits of excess applique. All of this creates a tight bond between your nail & the applique.

But the Sephora version doesn't come with any of these tools, nor do the instructions recommend those detailed steps. It's difficult to create a firm application, even though I had some of the tools myself. The Sephora appliques also tear more easily & just don't seem to stick that well.

Verdict: Save your money! At $12 versus about $8 for Sally Hansen, skip Sephora. Go to the drugstore if you want wacky patterned nails.

I'm stripping these off my fingers tonight -- that is, the ones that haven't already peeled off.

What I'm wearing:
Black & white damask-print top, Spiegel | Black skirt with lace trim, NY & Company | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Red Chinese-fabric flats, Shoe Metro | Black beaded necklace with red Murano glass heart, made by me | Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Start Your Halloween Shopping Now

American stores & websites are starting to stock Halloween goodies, & the early Goth gets the good stuff. Note: I'm not talking about fuzzy spiders, glow-in-the-dark skeletons, or foam tombstones. Sure, if you plan to throw a Halloween party, you can buy that stuff too. But it's everywhere & will continue to be in every store up until October 30th. What I'm interested in is classy Halloween home decor, the well-made items that are worth using year-round, & yes, the pricy goods. These things are harder to find & sell out quickly. But they can be fantastic additions to a high-style darkly elegant home!

Pottery Barn plates
Here are a few things I'm lusting after (links are provided for information only, I don't make money off them, nor do I guarantee anything about these businesses):

Williams-Sonoma Printed Halloween kitchen towels, $19.95 -- Subtly spooky print featuring bats & spiderwebs among gnarled tree branches. A little expensive for just a set of two, but oh so lovely. There's also coordinating napkins & table runner.

Williams-Sonoma Cauldron serving bowl, $69.96 -- Omg, I love this! 10.5-quart capacity, microwave & dishwasher safe, this black stoneware cauldron would get a lot of use in my house (& at SCA events), thus justifying the price. Totally on my wishlist. Check out the set of four cauldron mugs too.

Pottery Barn Bone pillar candleholders, $34.50-$49.50 -- These are super sexy! Choose from an 18.5" or 23" high candleholder that resembles a jointed bone, cast in matte black iron. Sold only online or via catalog.

Pottery Barn Ace of skulls appetizer plates, $35.50 -- I admit, I'm a sucker for appetizer plates (maybe because I love appetizers?), & Williams-Sonoma also has vintage-y Halloween ones this year. Pottery Barn has another style that's great, but this clever take on playing cards with a skull, bat, owl, & spider wins me over. Internet/catalog only.
Z Gallerie candelabra

Z Gallerie Skull clock, $34.95 -- Z Gallerie seems to have skull things in the store year-round, but it's worth noting a few of my faves. Like this gorgeous faux aged-oak skull with a clock embedded inside. Perfect for the library. (The rhinestone-encrusted skull is better for the dancefloor ;-)

Z Gallerie Phantom candelabra, $39.95 -- Looks like an antique from a haunted mansion, but is made of chic black resin. Best of both worlds & more affordable (& easier to find) than antiques.

Another excellent place to look is Target, altho' the brick-&-mortar stores have a better selection than online. Target often has lovely, gothic dinnerware &/or barware, plus kitchen, bath, & table linens festooned with non-cutesy skulls, bats, & the like. The linens can be found in the kitchen & bath areas of the store, usually in aisle end-caps, while the rest of the items will be in the seasonal goods section. Look for all of these goods to start being stocked in August, as Target switches over from summer patio & garden items to fall & Halloween items.

Are you finding any elegant & lovely Halloween goodies yet? Where are your favorite places to shop for spooky decor? Share your tips!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Boho Red

I've been waiting for enough time to pass since Red & Black Week that I could wear this dress again without being too repeat-y. And I've also had to wait for the weather to be not *too* warm so the three-quarter-length sleeves would feel appropriate. Today was just right.

What I'm wearing:
Red knit dress with high-low hem, Macy's | Black elastic belt, NY & Company | Black crochet duster, Coldwater Creek | Black buckled wedges, Kohl's | Painted-black cowrie shell necklace, bought in Florida | Black shell dangly earrings, random accessory store

Monday, July 23, 2012

Matchy-Matchy Trumps All

Sorry for the bad full-length pic
I had a different outfit planned for today, one that featured a bit of pattern-mixing. But then I saw these shoes in my closet this morning & remembered this top, & omg yay! they match. Because I *big puffy heart* matching. There must be some 1950s throwback gene in me that demands shoes matching belt matching purse & suchlike. I don't care if it's passe, it's my fave & always will be.

What I'm wearing:
Burgundy knit drape-neck top, Macy's
Black pinstripe skirt, Newport News
Burgundy suede cutout pumps, Soffit
Pink & gold earrings, Ruche

Love the punky zipper detail on the shoulders!
But the nails don't match the shoes ;-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Painted Grey

This week, we've been getting our house painted, which has made getting outfit photos in the morning difficult. The backyard, driveway, & sides of the house are filled with equipment & mess, plus the painters are out there bright & early. It's hard to find a place to take a picture, so I've skipped some days. But that final coats of paint are going on now -- fresh versions of the same dark grey with white trim & black shutters & doors -- so soon it'll be over. I managed to sneak an outfit pic in yesterday morning.

What I'm wearing:
Grey sheath dress, Target
Pink ruched-shoulder cardigan, H&M
Black lace tights, Target
Black slingback pumps, Payless Shoe Source
Pewter medallion necklace, local artist
Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store
Gunmetal & jet cocktail ring, Icing

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sew a Repeat

I don't normally blog repeat outfits, but what the heck. I do love this dress. And this necklace. Both were made by friends -- the dress was sewn for me by Donna, the necklace made for me by Lisa, two of my wonderful alt.gothic.fashion cohorts. I specifically chose these pieces because after work I planned to go buy a new sewing machine. I wanted to not only wear something comfortable for a longer day, but I wanted totems of creativity to give me luck.

What I'm wearing:
Black, grey, & white dress, made by Donna | Black camisole, Target | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black round-toe pumps, Target | Purple & black scissors medallion necklace, made by Lisa | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store

Take a look at my costume blog for the full story of what I used to sew with & what I finally bought today. Also, check out my new CafePress store with silly sewing-related T-shirts & more! I plan to add some CorpGoth themed items in the future.

Friday, July 13, 2012

LPG Homework: Things I Can't Live Without

July's homework from the Professor aka the Dancing Maenad is to feature the piece of clothing, accessory, or beauty product that you can't live without. I have a few things that qualify...

1. Dark lipstick. I rotate through specific colors & brands, I have long-time favourites like Chanel's Vamp (which they keep saying will be or has been discontinued, & that just makes me stock up more; currently I have 3 tubes tucked away in a cool, dark place), but the real "must have" is just something dark, rich, & in a berry tone.

I'm no longer so obsessed that I have to be wearing lipstick when I'm running errands like going to the grocery store or doctor's office. But if I'll be seen in public for an extended period of time, I must have my dark lipstick. I even wear it with historical costumes, despite lipstick, especially dark colors, not being historically accurate. I can't help it!

And I wear so many different shades to work that my purse is full of the tubes by the end of the week. I loves me some lippie!

2. Black tights, specifically by Calvin Klein. A couple years ago, I discovered that these CK babies are the best quality black tights around. They don't snag or sag, they last through repeated machine-washings (but always air-dry), & they come in three sizes instead of the somewhat-more-standard two or the horrible "one size" that fits few.

I wear black tights with most every outfit from September until June, with only a short break from them during the warmest two months of the year.

3. Black leather studded cockring. I've mentioned this a few times on my blog because, well, I wear it every single day & have worn one like it since about age 16. I replace them when they wear out. The first one was nicked from my gay boyfriend in high school (I was his beard because his parents were ultra-religious).

I *do* wear this if I'm just running to the grocery store or something similar, just like I wear my wedding & engagement rings. The only times I don't wear the cockring are with historical costumes.

What I'm wearing:
Black T-shirt, Target
Grey striped skirt, Nordstroms
Black skull-print scarf, gift from my husband
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Black embellished flats, Classifieds
Silver filigree earrings, random accessory store
Black & gunmetal cocktail ring, Icing
Chanel "Vamp" lipstick

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Colorblocking My Way

The term "colorblocking" has been quite trendy in mainstream fashion for a couple years now. I chalk it up to an 1980s revival (anyone remember these looks? I lived through them, oi).

Well, I prefer my own version of colorblocking -- simply wearing a color with black. Some fashion gurus pronounce dire fashion foibles in this style, such as the look bisects your form & distracts the eye or somesuch. But I don't care. I also think that I do this style carefully & consciously by incorporating the color throughout the outfit, usually with similarly colored shoes to the top element. And, of course, my type of colorblocking is a cornerstone of Gothic Color Theory #2.

What I'm wearing:
Pink blouson top, Chadwicks
Black crochet trumpet skirt, Coldwater Creek
Pink & black pumps, Irregular Choice, bought in London
Black beaded waterfall necklace, Torrid
Pewter key earrings, made by me
Silver & garnet poison ring, eBay

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stepping Back Into the Office

Last week, my husband & I took a road-trip through Northern California to the Oregon coast, in what is becoming an annual tradition around the Fourth of July. It was inspired by an SCA event near Gold Beach, OR, & we stop at various sights along the way & back (frankly not spending a lot of time at the SCA event ;-). My pix from the Lassen National Park, Redwoods State Park, & Oregon coast portions of the trip are on Flickr.

And here's me, back at the office. I pre-programmed last week's blog posts since I had a few things I'd written & photographed but never posted. Hope you enjoyed those.

What I'm wearing:
Black & purple paisley tunic, Chadwicks
Black camisole, Old Navy
Black elastic belt, NY & Company
Black twill skirt, MetroStyle
Black satin sandals, Two Lips
Amethyst necklace, gift from my husband, bought in Kauai
Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store
Black & gunmetal cocktail ring, Icing

One of our stops included a spa day, where I got this lovely pedicure (such a treat, I hardly ever get them done!). I like to paint my toenails bright colors in summer, so they show up. Do you paint your toenails? Do ever get pedicures?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summertime Evening Out

Last month, my husband & I attended a choral concert that his father was performing in. The event was on a warm summer's night in our city's downtown. While this is an extremely casual area & people regularly attend symphony & ballet performances (which this was similar to) in jeans & T-shirts, that irritates me no end. So I chose something dressy yet comfortable for the weather.

What I'm wearing:
Black knit drop-waist dress, Newport News | Black satin sandal pumps, Two Lips | Long pearl & silver necklace, Aldo Accessories | Silver & crystal dangly earrings, random accessory store | Burgundy flower hair pin, random accessory store

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Just Another Casual Look

Some spring weekend, running errands or maybe meeting friends. Just a casual, everyday look for this CorpGoth. I wear this type of outfit most any day off from the office!

What I'm wearing:
Black knit long-sleeve top, Old Navy | Black linen skirt, H&M | Black bat-print leggings, Target | Black buckled ankle boots, Aldo | Black newsboy-style hat, Target | Black & white skull-print scarf, gift from my husband | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wine Country Getaway

California's Wine Country is just a few hours away from my home, so it makes for a fantastic long-weekend trip for my husband & me. This year, we opted for springtime in Napa to visit beloved wineries & explore new ones. The weather was sunny but not too warm, just right for a sundress, light sweater in the morning, & floppy sun hat in the afternoon.

What I'm wearing:
Black cotton tiered sundress, Coldwater Creek | Black & pink striped cardigan, Macy's | Black jeweled flip-flops, unknown brand | Black & pink striped sun hat, Nordstrom | Black & white beaded necklace, made by me | Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store

Sunday, July 1, 2012

CorpGoth Guide to Summer in the Office

Summer can be difficult for goths -- let's face it, wearing black velvet in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather isn't smartest thing one can do. So we trade our favorite garb for plainer gear & dream of cooler seasons.

But we don't have to suffer, especially those of us working in professional situations. If you're in a climate-controlled office all week, you might think, hurrah!, wear black all year round! To some extent, this is true. Yet we still have to commute to and from work in sweltering temperatures, plus it's more appropriate to give a nod to the current season. Balance is the key.

Here are some of my tips for dressing office-appropriately in summer with a gothic or alternative twist (note: any shopping links are included for reference only, I don't make money off of them) --

Mix black with color. OK, I do this all the time, but it's especially important in summer. Try black & white & also try black with soft shades such as lilac, plum, grey, pink, heather blue, seafoam green, etc. Not just black & brights or jewel tones. Also look for patterns such as florals & dots, which read as summery. Here are some of my favorite outfits: black with plum & flowers, black with pink & stripes, black & grey, black & white, even all white (I'm nuts, I know ;-).

Go with the flow, in proportion. In really hot weather, it's tempting to wear lots of loose garments. Which is fine for the weekends, but that's not a very professional look, even in a casual office (trust me, those long, flowing skirts get caught in the rolling wheels of your office chair very easily!).  But you can get some much-needed air flow on a stifling hot day by balancing your look with half flowy, half sleek. As in: Wear a knee-length, cotton dirndl skirt, & a crisp fitted blouse, or wear a trim pencil skirt & a drapey bat-wing or angel-sleeve top. Try it out! White House | Black Market has this gorgeous (if spendy) black & white stripe bat-wing top, for example.

Opt for sleeveless tops, but keep a cardigan or jacket handy. Go sleeveless for your commute, & keep a long-sleeve option at your desk for that overly air-conditioned office. A simple black cardigan will go with most every outfit & is also handy to cover up for an unexpected meeting. If you have arm tattoos, you might particularly want a cardi or jacket in case company bigwigs who don't know you come by (first impressions are important). I inadvertently had a whole week of sleeveless summer outfits, starting here.

Try going bare-legged or use patterned hosiery. If you work at a very conservative office, you're going to have to wear hosiery with skirts through summer no matter what. But in more casual offices, bare legs in summer can be OK, as long as your skirts come to the knee. Another option is using lightweight patterned hose such as lace or micro-fishnets or even spiderweb tights (if your workplace is very casual). Again, this looks most professional with to-the-knee skirts, no shorter. Here I go bare-legged with a full skirt, & these are some lace tights.

Experiment with up-dos if you have long hair. Nothing feels better in summer than a breeze on the back of your neck, so keep yourself cool by putting your hair up. This can look chic & elegant or sassy & casual -- there are tons of up-do styles, so experiment & find some that work for you. Get a few clips or hairpins from the drugstore to help hold your hair up. You can also add decorative hair flowers (I'm a huge fan of these) or sparkly clips. If your office is conservative, wear small, subtle pins at least at first. Here's me with a nice big flower, plus earrings that match. If you want to get creative, Ruffles Not Diets has excellent examples & a video on braids & updos for work. What I Wore 2Day also has a nice variety of summer updos including buns & ponytails.

Consider crochet. Black crochet garments are lovely, gothic, & comfortable this time of year. Skirts with a crochet overlay can add a lighter look yet have goth flair. And there are tons of options for crochet cover-ups -- cardigans, shrugs, even blouses, that would be office-friendly worn with an opaque camisole, tank, or tee underneath. Also look for openwork & lace details, just make sure there's a lining or throw a cami or slip under for modesty. Here's my fave. crochet skirt & a long crochet duster.

Look for lighter shoes. Yes, I mean putting the boots away for summer. You'll look & feel more comfortable, honest. I love boots as much as the next goth gal, but I also hate having sticky, stinky, sweaty feet! Hunt down some black sandals that are office-appropriate. Look for slingbacks, peep-toes, ankle-straps, & other varieties of heels with cut-out spaces so you get a little ventilation. I'm not a huge fan of super-strappy shoes, & but if you work in a casual environment & can find strappy shoes without a high heel evocative of strippers, give it a shot. My preferred summer shoes include these black satin sandals, black slingback pumps, & yes, I occasionally wear some fancy flip-flops to work (when it's crazy-hot only!). These strappy sandals from Zappos would fit the bill in all but a very conservative office.

Go for stripes. Our favorite Tim Burton-esque pattern is in abundance at stores during summer, masquerading as "nautical" or "Breton" stripes. True, some of these may be navy & white stripes, but you'll find plenty of suitable black & white, & you might consider branching out to the "Sweeney Todd" red & white stripe too. Striped tank dresses, cotton tops, full skirts, & similarly breezy pieces will add a summer flair to your outfits while retaining a punky edge. Macy's has a crisp black/white stripe plus-size blazer on sale, plus tons of stripey dresses & tops. Nordstrom has a nice black/white blazer with 3/4-length sleeves.

Swap the broomstick skirt for a maxi. I know it's a staple of many goth girls' summer wardrobes, but leave the broomstick skirts for the weekends. They don't look very professional, even in casual workplaces, & they're not that practical (see above, re: office chairs). If you love the long skirt, instead try a more modern maxi-length skirt which is still comfy & casual, but sleeker & less airy-fairy. Bonus: You can find them in black & white stripes at just about every price (Target to NY & Company to Ralph Lauren).

How do you deal with summer in the office? Share your tips in the comments!

Related links:
  • Ask Allie: Summer Office Attire -- While not aiming for alternative style, Allie does have excellent advice on comfortable summer clothes that are appropriate for the office. You can find these styles in dark colors too! If you work in a more casual environment, check out her recs for stylish casual summer attire.
  • Dressing Professionally for Summer -- Corporette.com speaks to women working in law & finance, so it's very conservative, but these tips are also practical, such as knowing the fiber content of your clothes so you'll be more comfortable in the heat.
  • "Comfortable Casual" for a Heat Wave -- Another from Corporette, interesting tips especially in the comments.
  • Casual Shorts, Dressy Shorts -- Already Pretty rounds up some great options for wearing shorts, including ideas that could work for a casual office.
  • Summer Style Minus a Tan -- While Already Pretty isn't thinking of goths, this advice is excellent for us, particularly in the workplace.
  • Sweaty Gal Style -- Already Pretty tackles the taboo topic of how to dress well when you perspire! C'mon, you know we all need this kind of info. 
  • Summer at the Morbid Fashion -- From planning parties to finding the perfect swimsuit, the Morbid Fashion has various posts on the topic (but alas, nothing explicitly work-friendly!).
  • The Summer of Goth -- Classic advice from Gothic Charm School, not exactly for the office, but heed it none-the-less.
  • Summer: A Survival Guide for the Intrepid Gothling -- Stripy Tights & Dark Delights has some good general tips for the darkly inclined, tho' not necessarily work-oriented.
  • Gothic & Alternative Swimwear -- From Sincerely Boots, ideas for your much-needed vacay from the office.
  • How to Stay Cool During Summer -- Juliet's Lace offers useful fashion tips for the hot season.