Friday, December 31, 2010

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday - 12.31.10

FBFF Questions for 12.31.10 - New Year, new blog, new you ... resolutions, goals for 2011, courtesy of ModlyChic. (These are the questions that Vahni of Grit and Glamour so kindly suggested.)

1. What's the one thing you vow to learn or do in 2011 to improve your blog?
Better photos. It's a constant struggle to get decent images in the wee hours, but I will persevere!

2. What did you learn about blogging in 2010 that you plan to put into practice next year?
It's all about connections -- reading & commenting & being active with other people's blogs. Plus replying to comments on your own blog. But no blog stands alone.

3. Do you have any high-level goals for your blog in the coming year? Monetization? More comments? More connections with other bloggers? A new template?
Not really. I like where this blog is going right now, & I want to keep it up. Just more interaction with readers & other bloggers, keep posting regularly. I feel like I've barely started. Besides, I'm not in this for money or fame (my real job is already writing on the Internet, so I don't want / need more ;-)

4. If you could collaborate with one other blogger within your sphere of influence in 2011, who would you like to collaborate with, and what would you like to collaborate on?
Hmm... yes, but not sure what. I'd love to do a DIY project or swap circle, like we used to do on a.g.f, & because that would take some coordination, it'd be great to share with another blogger. Or maybe Sarah & I could do some photo project together. I'd have to think about this more!

5. What do you plan to do to support other bloggers next year?
Comments, definitely! Interaction is where it's at. And hey, maybe I'll suggest some of these 5 questions too. I like the ones that are less meta-about-blogging & more about fashion or seasonal topics.

Happy New Year everyone! Bonus question for you: What fashion or style blogs do you read?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shopping With My Man

On vacation this week, kicking around the house, not doing much -- which is awesome! I never get this kind of break. So yesterday, my husband & I went out & bought each other the xmas gifts we decided we really needed.

For me, an iPad & a G4 iPhone (upgrade from my old iPhone). For him, a better big-screen TV & Blu-Ray player (also kind of a business need; he's a professional videographer & shows demos in our living room, so this will show off his work). I also got him a fabulous black cotton-velveteen blazer that we randomly saw at Macy's, then we had a leisurely lunch.

What I'm wearing:
Purple & pink patterned cardigan, Chadwicks
Black T-shirt, Gap
Black jeans with studs at the pockets, Calvin Klein
Black buckled flat boots, Aldo
Burgundy flower hair pin, Forever 21
Large silver filigree earrings, Target
Black & silver beaded necklace, Target
Cabernet lipstick, Tarte
Black leather purse with metal accents, Jessica Simpson

Today, I'm playing with the iPad & dyeing my hair (black, as always). And it's raining, so I don't think I'm going anywhere.

I hope those of you who are off work are also enjoying the time!

Monday, December 27, 2010

DIY Fashion Projects on My Mind

There are a bunch of fashiony sewing projects I've been wanting to do. Not quite sure when I'll get to them, but I have this week off from work, so perhaps I can make one or two of these...

As soon as I saw this lace-trimmed T-shirt on the Ann Taylor LOFT website, I thot, "I can do that." Maybe in grey, like the original or in black with white lace or in white or dark pink with black lace. A black shirt with black lace would make a nice, tonal look too. Will look first at the thrift store for shirts, & if I don't find anything, I'll just grab a tee at Target or Old Navy. Plenty of black lace in my fabric stash.

I'd like to make a pieced skirt using a bunch of the fancy fabric scraps I have laying around. Last week, a coworker was wearing a gorgeous black pencil skirt with silver & blue patterned fabric piecing on the front. Very stylish, sleek, & elegant. I immediately thought I could do that in my colors.

Should have asked her if I could take a picture because now I just have hazy memory to go on for inspiration. I can't find anything like it online. This Etsy wool skirt has the vague concept & this Etsy jean skirt has more of the small piecing that I like (& that rocked on my coworker's skirt). Of course, neither are the right shape or materials. Gotta use your imagination!

Then there's this cropped jacket with lace by INC Concepts (a Macy's brand that often has goth-friendly pieces). It was an eBay auction that I didn't win -- I didn't want to bid too high because I had a feeling I could make something like this from a thrift-store velvet blazer & a bunch of lace.

I recently made a narrow black belt with a velvet bow in the front. The main part of the belt was a leather strap that I removed from the new purse I bought (it had an extra shoulder strap, even tho' the double straps are perfectly long enough for shoulder-wearing, weird!). I made a little bow from velvet ribbon & tried to glue it to the bow with the usually stick-to-everything E6000 craft glue. No dice! Had to sew the bow on using a leather needle. Haven't worn it yet tho'.

I've also been making a lot of necklaces & a couple pairs of earrings. Love making jewelry! It's so fast & easy, once you have a collection of shiny bits.

Do you like to make clothes or accessories or refashion items? Got any success stories or amusing attempts?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday - 12.24.10

Another set of Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions, courtesy of ModlyChic. The topic this week is holiday memories...

1. Your favorite holiday memory:
I don't know if there's a favorite ... but I can think of a worst. Well, it's a worst with a happy ending! In 2003, a ton of my husbands' family members, plus my parents, were gathering in Lake Tahoe for Xmas week, including a number of his relatives from the U.K. & France. Well, a few days after Xmas, he & I were scheduled to leave for Rio de Janeiro for New Year's Eve, followed by Argentina to leave on a cruise to Antarctica. This was a trip we'd dreamed about for a decade. So we could only be at this gathering (that was a 4-hour drive away from our house) for literally Xmas day.

We drove up on the afternoon of Xmas eve (as soon as we could get off work) & were immediately caught in a horrible snow storm on the one highway up to Tahoe. We put chains on the car, & then traffic was stopped for hours. Cell phone reception was spotty, so we could hardly tell our family what was going on. It was awful. We didn't make it to the Tahoe house until midnight.

But then everyone was thrilled to see us, & my husband's uncle from London had made a fantastic French onion soup that warmed us right up. The next day was great, even tho' we had to leave immediately the following morning. And, of course, Rio & Antarctica were amazing :-)

2. Were you ever a victim of those family Christmas party photo shoots? What do you think about them now? Care to share an old photo?
We never did staged family photos. But I love this picture taken on Xmas night, before we went out for dinner. It shows my mom, my stepdad, me, & our cat Sam (the cat is since deceased but he grew up with me like my little brother).

Not sure of the year -- around 1989? -- sometime during my first year or two at college. Soon after that Mom stopped getting an Xmas tree since I didn't live in the house.

3. Best Christmas gift you ever gave:
I'd like to say what I'm giving my husband this year, except it's on backorder, even tho' I ordered it in October, & now they say it won't arrive until February! Dammit, but if it arrived, I suspect it might blow his mind a little.

Otherwise, we don't do a lot of big gifts. Our three sets of parents, my husband & I all decided about five-ish years ago to only exchange handmade & charitable gifts with each other. It's a lot more fun & satisfying than going to the mall.

4. Craziest/funniest holiday family tradition:
My family is very small (growing up, it was just Mom & me), so we don't have a lot of traditions & not much in the way of  unique ones. The funniest story is probably when the cat (not Sam, an earlier, kinda mean black cat named Cat) knocked over the Xmas tree while I was at school. Being a latch-key kid, I came home, saw the huge, 7-foot tree down in the living room, & panicked. I thought I'd get the blame. By the time Mom got home in the evening, I was in tears. She gets a great laugh out of that story now.

5. Favorite type of Christmas cookie:
All of them! Hmm... I rather like gingerbread because I only have it in December, but I also love rolled sugar cookies. Love decorating both of these, so much fun (but I didn't have time this year).

1970s partridge in a pear tree ornament made by my mom, now on my tree.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Couple of Casuals

Thanks to my super-awesome pal, Sarah (whose blog Yet Another Fashion Blog you really should check out), I have documentation of a few casual outfits. Because when we hang out together, she's the one with enough foresight to bring a camera, among other things.

So reverse chronologically...
Mmm ... circular chair.
Yesterday, we met at the mall after I was done working from home. After I bought shoes at the Clarks store, we walked across the street to the other mall for happy-hour cocktails & a snack.

Here, we're goofing around in Z Gallerie on the wild furniture amongst the wacky art. Hopefully the pix I took of Sarah will turn out because she was wearing a fabulous little outfit featuring some really spiffy tights.

What I'm wearing:
Black wool ruffled bolero sweater, Kohl's
Black & grey pinstripe long-sleeve T-shirt, Old Navy
Black linen skirt with huge pockets, H&M
Black leggings with lace insets on the side, NY & Co.
Black elastic belt with large silver flower, NY & Co.
Black spool-heel boots, Target
Chunky silver bead necklace, Target
Raisin Rage lipstick, Revlon

Art is fun!

 Last Friday, Sarah & I went to Rabbit's Foot Meadery, a tiny little place that serves amazingly good ales, meads, & ciders. It's run by SCA folks & is quite a regular Friday-night hangout, so we knew lots of friends would be there. Photo on top I took at home before leaving (forgot that was on my camera!) & Sarah took the photos below at the Meadery.

This is my Exclusive Bitch face, powered by two beers.
What I'm wearing:
Black peasant top, Macy's
Dark grey jeans, Calvin Klein
Pale pink glass bib necklace, Forever 21
Black & pink Victorian-esque dangly earrings, random accessory store
Dark cherry lipstick, Sephora
Pink flower hair clip, Forever 21

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moar Shoes!

Hi, my name is Trystan, & I'm a shoe whore.

This is nothing new, of course. I've had this little addiction for years now, decades even. I'm just getting a bit more upscale in my choice of drug. Tho' I still have a nose for bargains.

When my black knee-high boots bit the dust, I wanted to replace them with real boots. The old ones were cheap, poorly made, all synthetic materials, & the uppers were stretchy fake leather. My calves are wide, but I held out hope that I could find real leather to encase them elegantly.

I'd been reading reviews online, especially at Barking Dog Shoes, & bookmarking possible boots. Then today, I happened to be at the mall (yeah, a few days before xmas, it's a long story & I'm nuts). I walked by the Clarks store & saw "25% off when you buy two pairs." I walked in, as one does. There I saw several pairs of boots I'd been stalking online. Dun-dun-dun!

A latte later, bolstered by my compatriot in love of shoes, Sarah, I tried on a few boots & some shoes, & bought the Wyld Polka knee-high boots & the Indigo heels, together costing about what one pair of the boots usually costs. They were both so comfortable, such a great fit, & perfectly awesome looking. I suspect I will wear out before those shoes do!

I haven't owned a pair of Clarks in ages, & I miss them. Such a great, reliable brand. Not always the most fashionable, but if you find something classic like these two, well, you can literally wear them forever.

Oh & I totally want to swap out the laces in the Indigos with different ribbons to match my outfits. How cute would that be???

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unexpectedly Last

I didn't plan it, but this is my last outfit worn to the office in 2010. I thought I'd be going into the office on Wednesday & then working from home on Thursday; we have Friday off, along with all of next week. But this afternoon, my supervisor came by & said there was no need for me to come in tomorrow if I didn't want to. Turned out everyone else in our department was working from home or on vacation already!

What I'm wearing:
Black lace jacket, Macy's
Black long-sleeve T-shirt, Old Navy
Dark grey jeans, Calvin Klein
Black pointy boots with buckle accents, Baker's Shoes
Pale pink glass bib necklace, Forever 21
Black Victorian-esque dangly earrings, random accessory store
Dark cherry lipstick, Sephora

These are the jeans I ended up buying on my recent quest, & I give them a solid "thumbs up." Very comfortable & attractive. No gaping at the waist, & they don't feel quite as short as I initially thought (tho' I still wouldn't wear them with little flats).

This evening, I received the additional jeans I ordered from Macy's online. The "worn black" wash CKs are awesome! Same fit as the ones pictured here, almost true black, plus there are black studs along the front & back pockets for a nice, punky touch. Love them!!! Unfortunately, the Calvin "skinny" jeans were all a failure. Same size as the above, but apparently it's not just the legs that are skinny -- I couldn't zip 'em up. Ugh.

The Levis were the right length, nice cut, & a rich, true black, but not the right size. I think I just misremembered from what I tried on in the store (fingers crossed). If the Levis 512s are available online, I'll try the next size up. All of these jeans were in the $30 to $50 price range, most were on sale, & I consider this a perfectly reasonable price for jeans that fit. Especially black jeans!

Not totally satisfied with this outfit. For one, I need to replace the buttons on this jacket. They're cheap, ugly plastic. With all the holiday crafting I'm doing, I didn't want to lose the jacket in my sewing room, so I hung it up in the closet immediately. Thus, I forgot about changing the buttons & then thought, hey, cute jacket I haven't worn! Oh well. I'll get to that little project next week, when I'm off work. I plan to blog a little bit more then, maybe even some casual outfits. We shall see...

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Repeats

I wondered if I could make it to the end of this year without repeating anything major in an outfit, & while I certainly could have (my wardrobe could clothe a small, third-world country), I just didn't feel like it today. I wanted to wear this sparkly sweater & that inspired me to add the burgundy boots for contrast (ooo, two colors, high level on the Gothic Color Theory). And the boots went so well with this coat!

What I'm wearing:
Black silk sheath dress, Target
Grey sequined cardigan, ModCloth (also worn here)
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Burgundy faux suede boots, DSW (also worn here)
Gunmetal & pale pink beaded necklace, NY & Co.
Pewter square pendent earrings, local artisan at a craft faire
Burgundy flower hair pin, Forever 21
Cabernet lipstick, Tarte
Wool paisley coat, custom-made (also worn here)

The dress is another summer-to-winter transition -- I wore the heck out of this dress last summer, particularly with spiderweb tights or fishnets. It was a great find at Target, so simple & chic & well-made, plus comfortable. It's sleeveless & cinches in the back with a bow. The ideal gothic summer dress for the office. Not bad for winter too, at least California winter. Might need a heavier sweater or a jacket in cooler climates.

So, how often do you repeat wearing items? Are there things you wear frequently, or do you try to not repeat that much? Does it matter?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Cobbler Is a Girl's (& a Goth's) Best Friend

I just got a bunch of shoes back from the cobbler, & it's like getting new shoes for xmas! Except they cost a fraction of what new shoes cost & they already feel broken in. I tend to save up shoes for repairing until I have several pairs. Don't know why, there's a good cobbler just a few miles from my house. But it seems like a chore to take stuff there, leave them for a week, & return to pick them up. So I wait until it's it's really worthwhile -- which also means I haven't worn these shoes for about a year in some cases!

From top-right (& oldest to be repaired), I had pair of black buckled boots (side zip, faux buckle) with kitten heels that needed new heel caps plus the pointy toe were horribly scuffed & worn, from Baker Shoes; a pair of black pointy-toed kitten-heels that needed new heel caps, from Aldo; a pair of black suede pumps with square heels that needed new heel caps, vintage Fleuvog; & a pair of black suede lace-up granny boots that needed new heel caps, from some store in London.

This is probably the most common repair for women's shoes. That little cap on a heeled shoe wears off pretty easily & can be fixed easily too. My cobbler charged about $15 per pair. For the boots that needed the pointy toes mended, that cost $17.  And all the shoes got a cleaning & shine for free, even the suede shoes (the granny boots were in rather sorry shape too).

A modest & very worthwhile investment! They're all like new, & now I have a bunch of fabulous shoes to wear again. Can't wait. I hope everyone out there has made friends with their local cobbler too!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday - 12.17.10

My first foray into the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions, started by ModlyChic. The topic this week is "holiday party attire."

1. Which holiday party are you looking forward to attending this year?
Well, my husband & I had invitations to two parties, but for various reasons, we haven't been able to go to either! We did go to one holiday choral concert a fancy theater where his father was performing, so I dressed up for that. I hope we can go to the NYE part we're invited to.

2. What is your go-to holiday party outfit?
A little black dress. This season's for me is this knit wrap ruffled dress from Chadwicks. Both comfortable & elegant, easy to dress up with fancy hosiery & heels. Very flattering too.

3. Do you go dressed in something that would be impractical to wear at any other time of the year?
Not really. I like to wear the same kind of dresses I'd wear at any time -- nothing crazy-short (just to the knee), a bit of cleavage for an evening event but not scandalous, high heels.

4. If you are going to a house-party what gift will you bring to the host/hostess?
A bottle of wine, probably J. Lohr Valdique because it's my local favorite, so it has a good story. 

5. If you could buy only one trendy piece to update your holiday party wardrobe, what would you get this year?
The only recent trend I really dig that applies might be wedge heels, & I did wear the awesome buckled peep-toe wedges I bought during Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales with that little black dress. Might again!

Anyone else have a holiday outfit they love or are looking forward to wearing?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Day Off

From outfits, at least -- because I got up late for work, threw on black trousers & a sweater, & didn't have the time (or inclination) to photograph anything. Sorry! It was bound to happen at some point. But this gives me a chance to reflect a little bit & to thank everyone for your great comments over the past couple months. I'm amazed that people are reading this & even more surprised that you like it :-) And I feel like I've met some nifty new people thru reading & following your blogs too.

See, I started this blog based on something I used to do way back in the early 1990s on Usenet. I was an early & active member of the Usenet newsgroup called I even wrote & maintained the group's original faq. Well, we had a pretty regular thread called "What are you wearing today?" People would reply by describing, in text, their outfits. It could be anything from black jeans & a T-shirt to an elaborate clubwear ensemble. Whatever you were wearing that day.

The thread would go on for ages with dozens upon dozens of people posting. Then it would disappear for a while, and someone would restart it. Sometimes, the group would go for months without the topic, & then someone would post it as "What are you wearing today? (DON'T LET IT DIE!!!)" That always amused me. But all of this was in text, way before the Web came along.

Eventually, Usenet flamed out as the Internet expanded & people moved on. A lot of the old a.g.f gals migrated to LiveJournal & create the gothfash community. Sometimes, someone would start a "What are you wearing today?" post, & mostly people would describe outfits in text, but occasionally they'd upload a photo. And individuals might post cellphone camera pix of their daily outfits on their own LJ blogs. It was all pretty random tho'.

Then came the rise of the Julie & Julia-type 365 projects (many of which started before that movie, of course), everything from to making a skull image each day to sewing a new dress a day. Several friends on LJ were posting one photo a day for 365 days. Cute, but not relevant for me. As I joked with Sarah, all I'd post would be a photo of my computer screen at work, my iPhone screen, my computer screen at home, my cats, my husband, my coffee cup, my wine glass, lather, rinse, repeat! Seriously, that's all I see all week long.

But the one thing I do differently each day is figure out an interesting outfit. I don't have to do even that, given where I work. But I do it because it helps liven up the days. Life is what you make of it. I like to dress up & give things a sense of occasion, even if that's just going to the office to sit in front of a computer.

I think it was a link from Mina on Facebook that first lead me to an Already Pretty essay. That's when I realized, holy smokes, there's a world of people blogging their daily outfits online! They've been doing our "What are you wearing today" thread & did not let it die! They've taken it to the next level.

I did wonder if I could manage to do it, & the added time to photograph in the morning has been tricky. I generally try to write up the blog during the day on little breaks & then format & upload the photos as soon as I get home from work. I respond to comments whenever I have time. I like to peruse the blogs I'm following over my morning coffee, but work email often makes this impossible so I don't see them till lunch.

No idea how long I can keep this up, but the project has been fun! I enjoy the feedback & appreciate every comment. Thanks again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Summer to Winter

We have two seasons in Northern California -- dry & wet. It's dry from about May through October, then wet off & on during November to April. Unless there's a drought, which seems to happen every five years or so. Right now, it's wet. Raining every few days for the past month or so. Which typically means lots of sweaters & boots in my wardrobe, but today I pulled out a sundress from last summer & figured out how to make the transition from summer-wear to winter.

What I'm wearing:
Black long-sleeve T-shirt, Old Navy
Purple print cotton sundress, Target
Black leggings, American Apparel
Black spool-heel, lace-up boots, Target
Black elastic belt with silver flower, NY &  Co.
Silver ball choker, Target
Onyx drop earrings, vendor on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley
Raisin Rage lipstick, Revlon (I've been wearing this color since high school!)

The key to wearing a sundress in winter is, imo, the color. Dresses in bright colors with bold patterns (or solid colors) look more appropriate to the colder months than light colors & delicate prints. The later says "springtime" tho' I suspect it could be made to work in a vintagey way with very careful choice of accessories. But it wouldn't be easy.

The two classic modes for working a sundress into your winter wardrobe are (1) layer over long-sleeves, as I did here or (2) layer under a sweater or jacket. The first method works best if the dress has sleeves or wide straps. Don't do it with little spaghetti straps because that just draws attention to the fact that you're wearing a summery dress. Put narrow-strap dresses underneath a buttoned sweater or jacket.

Tights & boots are a must with a sundress to really ground the look. Chunky heels or flats might work, but a heavy shoe really helps contrast the lightweight fabric of the dress. I went for leggings today because it's cold!

Heavyweight accessories like a chunky necklace or bracelet, a wide belt, or a scarf also add dimension to the look. But go for balance if you're wearing a jacket (then again, I'm a "more is more" gal ;-).

Have you tried transitioning a garment from one season to another? Successes or failures? Tips, tricks?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What I Wear Every Day

There are some things I don't even mention in my "what I'm wearing" lists. But I wear them almost every single day. Fashion mags might call these my signature pieces. I just call them my daily stuff. Figured it was time to chronicle them (since I'm working from home today & wearing PJs)...

Rings, right hand:
Silver & amethyst engagement ring from The Great Frog on Carnaby St. in London, U.K. (my husband has a matching ring, larger size, of course!).

Silver & onyx moon ring from a store in Salem, Massachusetts.

Silver Celtic openwork band, not sure where I got it, maybe a vendor at an SF/F convention.

Rings, left hand:
Gold & white gold with diamond chips wedding band from Shane Co. (my husband's band isn't exactly the same, but very similar).

The ring on my first finger can vary. It used to always be the Arwen butterfly ring by the Noble Company (which my darling hubbi gave me for xmas one year), but the center stone is missing & I've yet to replace it. So sometimes, I wear a giant black glass cocktail ring from a random accessory store (my fave. jewelry shop, as you may have noticed!), or I wear a silver & garnet ring I bought in Jaipur, India.

Earrings, right upper hole:
Pewter peace sign stud from some vendor on Telegraph Ave., Berkeley.

Earrings, two left upper holes:
Black & white yin-yang studs from some vendor on Telegraph Ave., Berkeley. (Have I mentioned how I was raised by hippies? I also graduated from U.C. Berkeley & spent a lot of time hanging out on Telegraph Ave. in my college days).

Left wrist:
Black leather studded bracelet, the current incarnation is probably from Hot Topic. I've been wearing a bracelet like this since I was 16. The original was a cockring that I nabbed from my gay boyfriend's bedroom (I was his beard because he had super-religious parents). Which lead to an explanation of what it was used for. Those were the days!

Right wrist:
I have a bunch of different watches, from sporty to dressy, but I stopped wearing them this year when I realized I am surrounded by clocks at work. My computer, my desk phone, clocks in every conference room, even my iPhone -- I don't need to wear a wristwatch at the office.

But I do wear a watch when I'm out & about or traveling. Basically, any time I'm taking public transit because fishing around in my purse for my phone when I need to catch a bus is too much trouble.

Then there are my glasses, which I *must* wear every single day or I'll bump into things! I have horrible astigmatism & have had no luck with contact lenses. I keep trying them every few years to see if the technology is better, but it's not. I need to get my prescription updated in January, & I hopehopehope that these black cat-eye frames are still in stock or they can reuse my old frames. I really love them & have had them for about 5 years now. I do not like the squared frames that are currently available.

Your turn:
Are there any accessories you wear every single day? Do you have a signature piece?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Fences Make Good...

A break in the rain, so photos in the driveway! Let's see how this works out...

What I'm wearing:
Purple knit top with leg-o-mutton sleeves, Next in London
Dark grey denim pinstripe vest, Newport News
Black twill skirt with laced detail in back, MetroStyle
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Purple wide fishnet tights, Leg Avenue
Black pumps with buckles, Reaction by Kenneth Cole
Grey headband with lacy flowers, Forever 21
Hand-painted skull pendant on velvet ribbon, Jewels by Olivia (local artist)
Silver cameo earrings, vintage
Purple lipstick, Sephora

Trying layered tights, a la Kasmira of What I Wore Today & so many others out there in fashionista-blogland. I used to do this a lot with colored tights under black fishnets, but it's been a while. I wondered if it'd work on a curvier girl, & I can report that, sure, it does & was comfortable.

But there are some keys to making it work. The top layer should be a very loose weave, like these wide fishnets (also called fence net). A loose crochet or lace would work too, just not one of those tightly woven herringbones or laces. There must be enough stretch for the second layer to be really comfortable & prevent the dreaded Segmented Worm Syndrome (or just the Woman in Sausage Casing Feeling).

I also carefully chose what I wore over the tights. No elastic waistbands, to further prevent sausage-y stuffing. I'm wearing a skirt with a wide, fitted waistband & a shirt tucked in. A dress that skims the body would have been good too. Having something layered over the waist area (in this case, a vest, but a jacket or cardigan would have worked) helps camouflage any potential bunching up that might have happened later in the day (luckily, that didn't happen). I would *not* have worn this with a belt tho' because cinching on top of extra layers would have felt like a squeezed sausage to me!

Who else has been layering tights? Fave combos?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Quest for Black Jeans

This isn't exactly CorpGoth, but it's goth-ish &, well, I want to rant about it!

This weekend, I attempted, for the billionth time, to find black jeans that fit me. And, for the billionth time, I failed. Firstly, black jeans are a rare species. While it would be a casual goth wardrobe staple, it's not something you can find easily in many stores. They're a trend that goes in & out of style in the mainstream. Secondly, I am what might be politely phrased as a "specialty" size. Petite plus size. I'm 5'2" & currently wear something around a U.S. women's 12-16 in pants.

Much has been written about the issue of vanity sizing -- how companies make clothes in smaller number sizes to supposedly flatter consumers. And every savvy shopper knows that different brands have their own fit models, which dictates a specific (& basically, completely random) size & shape standard for each brand. Fashion lines targeted towards juniors with slimmer hips & bust such as H&M will run smaller than, say, lines such as Talbots targeted towards older women with more pronounced curves.

Add petite sizing into the mix, & everything goes haywire. Some brands think "petite" means "chop a few inches off the pant leg & arms" while others miniaturize the entire garment, as if petite women were child-size versions of adult women. Even when they cut length off, different brands shorten by different amounts. The petite-focused blog Alternations Needed has a wealth of information in the Petite Fit Guide section & Adventures in Alterations that explain exactly how standard size garments (including juniors & typical petites) differ in accurate fit from petite women's bodies. Unfortunately, that site is aimed more at small petites, those who wear sizes at the 0 end of the range. I suspect one of my thighs might fit into a size 0 waist trouser. *sigh*

So with this background, you know a little about my lifelong quest for black jeans that fit. Not sure why I tried again today, guess the mood just struck. Here are some reviews of places & brands, which may or may not be applicable or useful to others...

Where the black jeans are & aren't right now:
Usually, Gap jeans fit me great. The "curvy" cut & "ankle" length accommodate my pant size & my inseam length. However, they don't carry black or even a very dark wash right now. Around September this year, Gap did have lots of black jeans online. BUT, the same size that fit me in the store did not fit when I bought them online! Lots of people complained on the website of the same thing. Wtf, Gap?

Old Navy pants -- not jeans -- often fit, but petites are very hard to find in the store. It's easier to order them online. I did find petite dark wash (not exactly black) jeans in the store, but the "short" length was perhaps 3" to 4" too long for me. How is that short?

I thought I'd give Torrid a try because the store specializes in plus sizes & edgy, hip trends. Well, I liked a lot of what I saw, & the sizes were close to fitting, but the pants were all too long by a 3" or 4". Yeah, I sew, but I hate hemming pants more than anything in the world. Also, you cannot hem jeans without them looking dorky, imnsho. I just won't do it. Rolling jeans is out of the question -- it simply reinforces the fact that I'm short. No thanks.

I didn't even bother with the super-trendy stores like True Religion, Lucky, & Guess. Maybe I'm stereotyping, but they don't seem like the kind of places that sell to people over size 8. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong because I honestly will pay big money if I could find black jeans that fit my big ass & little waist!

So, on to Macy's petites department, my usual best-bet for things that fit. I know I'll find a wide selection of both in-house brands & fancy labels, plus great sales. I tried on absolutely everything in that section even close to my size in a dark wash, from grey to black. One critique: Unfair of Macy's to put petites jeans on racks high on the wall! My arms & shoulder were aching from reaching up so high.

Style & Co. is my least favourite brand for jeans. I have one pair in a dark grey wash that I've been wearing for years, but I kind of hate them. They're a bit too high-waisted or maybe it's that my waist is a bit slim but my hips are wide -- whatever, they tend to sag on me & it's very irritating! My blue jeans from the Gap don't fit so poorly. But I can still wear the Style & Co. jeans with longer tops or jackets & that doesn't show. Just feels annoying. I tried on the latest incarnations of solid black jeans from this brand, & *gag* even worse. Very mom jeans, high-waisted, plus 3" too long.

Not Your Daughter's Jeans were interesting -- lots of pretty embellished black jeans. But they were insanely overpriced, starting at $100, for very stretchy jeans that were all rather high-waisted. Felt a tad mom jeans-ish in the waist. The length was an inch too long -- would have been ok with heels or heeled boots. If they had been less pricey, I might have gotten a pair just for kicks, since they were super-black.

DNKY were also an one-inch-too-long length. Apparently, "petite" means you're 5'3". Couldn't find a size that worked well for me though, & they were a very dark blue-black wash not true black.

Ralph Lauren jeans were about 2" too long & I couldn't find a good size. But I did like the straight-leg cut. Couldn't tell about the rise though. Nice, sold true black (better be, for $100!).

Calvin Klein jeans fit like a glove, very comfortable but not too stretchy. However, they're maybe an inch shorter than I would ideally want! *eye rolls* If you are 5 foot tall, these would probably look super-chic, because I love jeans & trousers that just hit the floor without dragging. The darkest I could find that fit me was a dark grey, & they were on sale for $30, so I bought them. I think they'll look good with black buckled boots (of which I have many). Just looked a little odd with the flats I wore today.

I looked online later & found more in a solid black wash with a supposedly slightly longer inseam (29", when the ones I bought measure 27"). We shall see! The great thing about ordering online from Macy's is that I can return them to the stores in person, thus saving shipping fees.

Levi's had decent length. Just that inch too long. I didn't like the boot-cut jeans, they felt a little too wide, more like bell-bottoms, & I couldn't find skinny jeans or straight-cut in my size. But the sizes seemed about right otherwise, had a more mid-level rise, it was just the leg shape that didn't appeal. I did find the skinny black Levi's in my size online, so that's another TBD.

Anyone else found black jeans they love? Any petites &/or plus size jeans recommendations? I'll wear colors other than black in jeans if the fit is fab!

Friday, December 10, 2010

We Love Colors review

I'm kind of on a roll with colors. It was great to hear everyone's input about Gothic Color Theory, thank you!

Since I was wearing new tights yesterday, I thought I should give them a review. A lot of people love We Love Colors & rightly so.  The company focuses on one thing & does it well -- it sells tights in literally a rainbow of colors. If you want to match a specific color, that's where you go, & if you just want to spice up your wardrobe, there's no easier place to shop. Goths, take note: We Love Colors sells black or white stripey tights with pretty much any contrast color. You can also get stripey knee-highs in the same huge variety of colors. Shopping with them is easy & usually quite fast.

So far, so good. Where it all breaks down is size. Which, to be fair, isn't a problem exclusive to We Love Colors. Many hosiery manufacturers / brands have limited size ranges, which can be a problem for those of us in the petite or plus size ends of the spectrum (even worse for me, who straddles both!). As noted previously in this blog, I've found my Holy Grail of Black Tights in the Calvin Klein size B/C which is stretchy enough to not sag at the ankles but generous enough to not pinch or roll at the waist. I had hoped We Love Colors might deliver the goods when it came to stripey tights, but alas, no such luck...

I bought three pairs of plus-size stripeys & have worn two, on very different occasions. And they're ok, but not great. (Fwiw, I have plenty of experience with the "one size" variety. They are a bitch to get around my waist, & they start to roll down throughout the day.) The design of the plus-size tights is a bit odd -- the tights have two seams up the back (you really have to wear them with these seams in the back; uncomfortable the other way round). It's as if a large gusset was added to expand the rear instead of making the panty of the tights larger. Feels funny, not horrible, but noticeable. The tights do sag a little bit at the ankles on me too. The sag is, I'm sure, because of the fiber content as much as due to the overall length. If someday I can find a cotton/spandex blend stripey tight, I will gladly pay extra for it!

Other than the stripeys, We Love Colors has colored tights in a 1/2 or 1/2/3 & plus-size ranges. It's just the stripes & patterns that are one-size or plus-size only. Bummer, because I want to wear funky tights too! A few high-end brands like my beloved Calvin offer textured tights in more subtle sizes (I have CK black ribbed & lace tights), but patterns with color are hard to find.

A lot of goths adore Sock Dreams, but I didn't have luck with the stripey plus-size knee-high sock/tights I ordered a couple years ago. Of course, their stock changes frequently & they have many more styles I could try...

Do you like to wear patterned or stripey tights? Do you have favourite brands & stores? Tell me all about it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gothic Color Theory

Still fussing over photos. Today I even took the tripod & camera into work & tried taking pix in an unused conference room (since I get to the building before most anyone else in my department). Not sure they turned out any better...

What I'm wearing:
Black twill military-style jacket, H&M
Black knit top (unseen under jacket), NY & Co.
Burgundy velvet tiered skirt, NY & Co.
Black & rubine stripey tights, We Love Colors
Black buckled wedge heels, Kohls
Black & pink Victorian-esque earrings, random accessory store
Burgundy flower brooch (it has both a hair clip & a pin back!), Forever 21
Dark berry lipstick, Sephora

Had to figure out a way to wear these fantastic new wedges today, even tho' it's still rainy. So stripey tights & buckles, that seemed right. Plus velvet. Even tho' it's all essentially black with one color.

Sometimes, when I read through all the lovely fashionistas in my blogroll (which you should too, if you don't -- they are beautiful & inspirational women of style), I think, wow, I love how they combine color in their wardrobes. There's Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy, who is mad for color mixing in a fabulously retro fashion, & Kasmira of What I Wore Today, who combines patterns with aplomb, & Vanessa of Big Girl, Small Budget, Tiny Town, who sprinkles wild pops of color across ultra-posh styles. And some outfits just blow me away, like Shelia's red & yellow combo with killer buttery boots & Sal's touches of red & teal with a black & white print dress -- that's, like, omg, crazy & gorgeous.

And yet ... I know that I would not, I could not wear these kinds of combos myself. That's just not my aesthetic. I am far too much of a traditionalist when it comes to Gothic Color Theory. While there are no hard & fast rules, what I've observed over the past 25ish years in the subculture is that our wardrobe color combinations break down along these lines:
  1. All black
  2. Black + one color
  3. Black + white + one color
  4. Black + two colors, often with one color predominant & the second color as an accent
And in each of these, black will tend to make up at least 50% of the outfit. That's Gothic Color Theory in a nutshell. Certainly, individuals may vary, but if you were to look at a large group of goths, you'd probably see that the majority of their outfits would fall into one of those four color combos. It's just how we roll.

As I'm planning my outfits, I naturally gravitate towards #2 & #3. I find #4 more challenging. And #1, while I love to do because it's super-easy -- now that I'm blogging my daily outfits, it feels like a cop-out (also, it's even harder to photograph!).

My wardrobe color palette tends to be black with one of these: burgundy, purple, dark pink, red, grey, or white, including shade various. Every time I try a different color (because I do, honest) I end up wearing it once & then shoving it to the back of the closet. I've even done this with historical costumes -- made lovely outfits in colors outside that palette, but wore them only once, & can't bring myself to wear them again.

I'd like to hear from goths & non-goth about what colors you wear. Do you like wearing mostly black or more colors? Do you feel like you want to mix it up one way or the other?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rain & Spiderwebs

Ugh, rainy day! Meaning, the porch was dreary & grey again, so more bad photos, even tho' I *did* fuss with the camera settings. I promise that one day soon, I will either figure out the picture quality on this blog or just stop whining about it.

What I'm wearing:
Black wool ruffled bolero sweater, Kohl's
Red knit peasant top, Express
Black stretch belt with ruffled detail, NY & Co.
Black & white spiderweb-print skirt, made by me
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Red ankle boots, Aerosoles
Black beaded necklace with cameo, random accessory store
Black & white beaded earrings, random accessory store
Real pearl stud earrings, gift from my stepdad

After Halloween, I was taking the cloth off our dining room table. It was a tablecloth just like the fabric of this skirt, & I remembered that I had a second tablecloth of this type with a big burnt-out hole in the center from a candle mishap. I'd cut out the burned bits & stored the cloth in my fabric stash.

So I retrieved the old cloth & decided it was time to make something from the fabric. How about a skirt? I cut panels in such a way that I could use the old tablecloth's existing hem for the skirt's hem (saving me time). I sewed the sides up & made a casing at the top for an elastic waistband. Ta-da, a skirt!

It had long points at each side, but when I tried it on, the points dragged on the ground. Ooops. At first I thought I might wear it like that with high-heeled boots, but that still didn't work. So I put the skirt on my dressform & tacked up the points & sewed some vintage jet buttons over the join. Can't actually see those buttons today because they're covered by the red top tho'. Still, I think the folded-over sides make for an interesting detail.

Have you made any of your own clothes? How about refashioning things from the thrift store?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cyber Black Friday Spoils, Part IV

And the last package arrived -- from NY & Company, a bunch of accessories & some more practical pieces.

Or ... semi-practical ;-) Like these leggings with a lace inset. Kinda '80s retro, but I promise I'll only wear them under skirts. The actually practical items were a black knit 3/4th-sleeve top & a black camisole, because one can never have too many layering pieces like that.

Two belts increased the potential for belted sweaters & knit dresses -- a style I find increasingly flattering. Both of these are elastic with flashy center clasps, so a nice combo of comfort & bling.

Speaking of bling, the other items were all jewelry. Two brooches, two necklaces, all shiny. Here's a sample.

O'Dark-Thirty & a Shout Out

First, welcome to everyone visiting via Gothic Charm School & thank you to the Lady of the Manners for mentioning my blog! She is a fabulous friend from way back, & I'm thrilled that she linked to me here. I look forward to feedback from all my fellow & aspiring CorpGoths.

Today, I had to get up at the crack of, no, before dawn because my carpool driver had an early meeting. Ugh. So taking these pix was more difficult than usual -- the sun had just come up, & it was shadowy on the porch. The camera's flash kept wanting to go off (which washed out my face), but no-flash didn't look great either. And before coffee, I wasn't up to fiddling with the camera controls.

What I'm wearing today:
Black & grey striped sweater, Target
Grey corduroy skirt, Newport News
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Black stretch faux-leather boots, JC Penny
Black & white stripey scarf, Forever 21
Black & gold round giganto earrings, Forever 21
Red-brown lipstick, Lorac

I can't take photos after work because the sun has already gone down (this may change next spring, of course). Inside my house is too dark at any hour, thanks to both my Gothic Martha Stewart-ness & being a lifelong migraineur. For now, it's early in the morning (the blogging bits happen in the evening tho').

My carpool usually leaves at 8 a.m., & I hustle to get dressed & take pix in an hour before that. I don't get coffee until I'm at the office (we're lucky in that we have free, barista-made espresso drinks). If I'm in a breakfasty mood, I grab oatmeal or a custom-made omelet at the office cafeteria too & eat that while checking the morning's email.

So, workers of the world, what time do you get up & go to the office?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cyber Black Friday Spoils, Part III

Didn't intend to post twice today, but *whee* got a big box from Kohl's with goodies bought during their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales!

Even tho' I live in the 'burbs, I don't shop at Kohl's very often. The nearest stores aren't on any of the most convenient bus lines or next to any other shops I regularly visit. But the few times I have been in one, it reminded me of the Mervyn's chain store of my youth (West Coast folks may know what I'm talking about). Basically, it's a mid-priced, smallish department store that has not too trendy clothes but decent quality, lots of classic styles, good range of sizes (e.g., good for petites & especially for plus sizes), & modest prices on everything. Not as "fast fashion" as a big-box store like Target or as specialized as mall boutiques like Forever 21, but a reliable place you can find a black pencil skirt or a pair of tall boots that won't fall apart.

But I digress. I bought more shoes (yay!), stepping a little out of my comfort zone this time (boo, bad pun!).

High-heel red ankle boots, & the fit is excellent, including with leggings, so I foresee a variety of outfits with these.

Then these buckled peep-toe wedges. OMG, the sexeh! Seriously, these are amazing shoes, & I'm very glad I bought them. Great fit as well.

I've been needing some new jackets, so how about a little color? This corduroy blazer is a lovely deep wine. I'll swap out the fake-wood buttons with some vintage black glass ones that better match my aesthetic. Otherwise, this jacket's a winner.

This little sweater bolero is adorable. Sweet ruffles. It's a bit lighter than I'd expect for something described as "boiled wool" but it's not tissue-weight, & I live in California so I don't need heavy sweaters anyway.

I think there' s just one more package yet to arrive (have to check my email). I ordered a bunch of blingy accessories from NY&Company, all half price. The biggies are all here tho'.