Saturday, September 29, 2012

Down Low: Fall/ Winter 2012

When you mention winter clothes, most people think boots, pants, and heavy coats.  Even in warmer climates, it's boots and coats.  Fashion designers this years have apparently decided that your legs don't get cold.  There are still boots out, and pants, but it appears that the ladylike silhouette of Mad Men and the rockabilly trend have taken over winter.
Ladies who love clothing with an actual waist, as opposed the shapeless sacks we've been seeing, you're in luck.  Belts, dresses with waists, pencil skirts, peplums... it all centers around showing off the feminine waist. 
Belts, as you've seen, are one of my favorite accessories.  Use a leather one, a cloth one, tie on a scarf as one, and BAM, a less than shapely outfit fit right and looks good. Proud of your waistline? Buckle a belt around it.  Don't care for your waist, but love your bust? Put a belt just under the bust.  Pants keep falling down?  put on a belt and tuck your shirt in to show off the belt.  Verdict: Unless you truly don't like your torso, or have other issues with belts, get a few.  While skinny belts are technically the hot thing, any belt (excluding the overly wide corset belt) is your friend.  This "trend" has never really wavered, even in the era of the potato sack.  I'd say stick with the classics and subdued version of the hot new trend, or you run the risk of looking like a teenybopper.
I also love a dress with a waist.  It looks good on damn near everyone, from the skinny toothpick to the heavily overweight.  Even if it's only the dress that has a waist, that create the illusion of the wearer having more of a waist.  A potato sack dress does very few people any favors.  Verdict: Enjoy this trend.  It is one of the very few in recent years that is nearly universally flattering.  Stick with the waist height that looks best on you (empire, natural waist, dropped waist) and you're in like Flynn.  I also believe this one may stick around a while, as a backlash against the shapeless dresses of the past several years.
Pencil skirts, straight skirts, wiggles skirts: whatever your preferred variety is, these are very "in" right now.  These cause the same waist effect that a good dress with a waist does.  Verdict: There's a reason these are considered classics.  Get at least one (preferably as a suit.)  Don't go too high in the leg (it turns into a skanky ho mini) or too long (sister wife or 1980s reject.)  Ideally, you want it to land within a couple inches either direction of the knee.  Also beware of frou frou detailing or detailing that would instantly date it.  You want a classic look.
Peplums are also back in. These also fall into the waisted category, and can be very figure flattering on many figures.  This is a very ladylike silhouette.  Verdict: This one comes down to personal taste.  It is a VERY feminine cut, so if you generally dress more tomboyish or avoid the romantic looks, I'd give this one a miss.  If you do go for it, the trend should be around for at least a year.  Just beware the overexaggerated peplum and the one in a very stiff material, as both of these can cast you toward fashion victim territory and make your hips appear ginormous.
For those of you that mostly wear pants, you're almost SOL.  There are a few trends I was able to dig up, but they seem to have taken a backseat to the skirt and dress this winter.  From what I've seen, the skinny/ cigarette pant trend has no intention of slowing down or going away.  This winter, it's colorful skinny jeans, cigarette/ stovepipe pants in nearly any color of the rainbow, and patterned pants.  (Translation: if you live in boot cut or wide leg pants, like I do, you're screwed.)
If you loved the skinny jean sensation this past year, you're in luck. Now they come in more colors and a couple variations of skinny.  You can even get them in patterns!  Verdict: This one's a matter of personal taste.  If you like skinnies, enjoy this trend, it shows no signs of going anywhere.  Stay away from the overly trendy colors (neon green leopard print is a bad idea) and don't get the leggings style to wear as pants. LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS.
Cigarette pants and stovepipe pants are back in season, too.  Unfortunately, it appears that the fashion gods have decree that this shall exist only in slacks, not jeans, for whatever reason.  Remember, this is the season of Audrey Hepburn and Mad Men, so of course we aren't entertaining your silly warmth ideas. Verdict: A cigarette or stovepipe pant can look good on nearly any figure, depending on the top it is paired with.  Beware that these are both meant to be ankle pants, so bunching around the ankles isn't good. 
If you like colorful, patterned pants, this is your season!  Brocade, prints, and true colors are all big things. Verdict: If you decide to partake in this trend, be very careful.  The colorful pants thing shows no signs of slowing down, but it can turn into a very dated look in the near future.  I'd avoid the wild patterns and brocade on the pants.  This one is nearly impossible to do right; you either look like a fashion victim, like a 60 year old woman at the opera, or like an '80s reject.

Friday, September 28, 2012

How's It Feel: Winter/ Fall 2012

One of my joys in winter is the feel of soft, cozy, furry, and leather clothes I can't wear when it's hot out. Sure, I COULD wear that cashmere sweater to work in July, when it's 105*F before heat index, but I like a life without heat stroke.  Winter fabrics just feel more fluffy bunny friendly.  It appears fashion designers have heard my plea for a winter of things that are interesting to touch.
Shiny is having a major moment this winter.  Patent leather, rubber, and metallics are all being touted as THE way to spice up your wardrobe. If you're in the market for patent leather shoes or a polyurethane coat, now's this time shop. Verdict:  In small doses, this trend is fine.  Anything more will mark you very quickly as a fashion victim.
Denim and chambray are also making a major comeback.  To truly do this trend justice, several designers are calling for a Texas tuxedo (matching jeans and jean jacket) worn with a chambray or denim shirt and denim cowboy boots.  I see that all the time here, and these people don't even know it's trendy.  Verdict:  One piece at a time, people.  I have a soft spot in my heart for the Texas Tuxedo, and I have been known to wear it, but at least make sure the pants and jacket are different shades of blue.  Leave the denim shoes on the shelf, those have all the hallmarks of bad taste, generally.  Chambray, worn with something other than jeans, can look very nice, but beware this'll probably be a one season thing.
Fur, leather, suede, and shearling are big, too, this year.  Then again, fur and shearling have been big for the past several winters and leather and suede new went out of fashion.  They're comfy, cozy, warm, and generally very winter friendly.  There's also faux versions of all of these, for those that can't afford the real thing. Verdict: For fur and shearling, I'd say stick with trims, linings and touches.  Otherwise you run the risk of looking like a yeti or an old society dame.  With either fur or shearling, it's really not worth it to pay for the real deal.  A leather coat or jacket is a great investment piece.  Buy it in a classic cut and wear it for years to come.  Get the real thing or an extremely high quality rip off, though.  Cheap pleather is not your friend.  Suede is hit or miss.  Stick with the natural colors; bright blue suede just looks cheesy.   I'd almost recommend a good fake over the real deal for suede, simply because it's not as delicate and doesn't throw a temper tantrum if you get it wet.
In the same vein, fluffy fabrics are back in.  Giant cozy sweater, fuzzy tunics, alpaca scarves, and fleecy goodness. Verdict:  Go form fitting in these, if you get the fluffy bunny fabrics, or risk looking like your clothes are trying to eat you alive.  Or you raided gramma's closet in a bad way.  Either way, no bueno.

Raining Gratitude

1) Army green short brimmed hat, gift
2) Tree of life/ snowflake pendant, $1, Claire's
3)  "Stand Back, I'm Going to Try Science" tee (under button up), gift
4) Black button up, $20, New York and Company
5) Jeans, $20, Old Navy
6) Knee high waterproof boots, $15, ?
 It's raining in the desert.  Not sprinkling.  It's coming down in sheets.  Hence why I'm wearing my equivalent of rainboots.  Why am I not wearing real rain boots?  Because I live in the scrub desert and can't justify a pair of shoes that sees real use once a year if I'm lucky. Same goes for why I'm not wearing a raincoat.  I have a hat, I have an umbrella.  Double duty, double use.
By the way, y'all, I just hit 1000 views.  While that doesn't seem like much, to me it means the world.  Thank you, Cheapasses, for making this dream become a reality!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Up Top: Fall/ Winter 2012

For winter, there are two camps in the fashion world.  There are the OMIGODILOVEIT types, for those who adore tights, boots, covering up, and layers.  Then there are the BRINGSUMMERBACK types, who live in sandals and tanks and only begrudgingly put on winter clothes to save themselves from frostbite.  Personally, I'm a winter person, even though I HATE the cold with a passion. The ability to wear more than a layer of thin cotton without sweating like a latex fetishist charms me.
There are multiple hot ticket items out for this winter.  I'll try to split them into categories, but some'll sit in multiple categories.
Call Attention To The Neck
Bow neck blouses.  Collars. Detachable collars. Huge scarves. Pendants.  These are all big right now.  If you want something to hang around your neck to show it off or cover it up, you're in luck.
Bow neck blouses seem to be a spin off of the retro/ rockabilly/ Mad Men fad goin on right now.  They tend to come back into style fairly often, especially when it gets cool enough that something at your neck doesn't smother you.  This style tends to look better in silk or an equally flowy material.  A bow at the neck in a stiff cotton makes you look like someone's pampered Persian cat.  Verdict:  If you like the feel of silky material and bows, I'd say go for it.  In the right material and cut, this style is relatively seasonless and would look good on nearly anybody, depending on where the neckline hits.  This is also a relatively timeless fashion unlikely to look dated in the near future, if you get a simple version.  I recommend a style akin to one of these: here or here.
Collars always come back around this time of year, to help protect against wind and cold. Turtlenecks and peter pan/ straight seam collars seem to be having a moment in the sun right now, with every conceivable variation of either one available, from extremely ornate or fur lined to simplistic school uniform collars.  Dickies are are enjoying a resurgence, both the turtleneck and collar versions.  If you do decide to get in on the ornate collar trend, I would suggest leaving the front open or otherwise leaving at least partial view of the neck, otherwise it could get a bit stuffy looking. Verdict: Beware that collared and high necked shirts do not look equally good on all people.  A large bust looks overwhelming with a high neckline, and drawing attention to the neck can draw attention to issues some people have with skin there.  If you can pull of a collar, stick with subdued detailing and leave the metal tips, wild patterns, and heavily ornate collars to those who can afford to indulge in a 3 week trend.  If you opt for the detachable collar (almost a necklace, really), be careful choosing it. A ringmail or pearl collar may look awesome now, but will look very dated very soon.
Collar necklaces are the mutant offspring between the detachable collar and a choker. They come in almost as many metals and materials as there are stars in the sky, as well as any price point, from Claire's to Bergdorf Goodman. Verdict: I'd say shy away from them, these are likely to be a flash in the pan trend.
Scarves come back every year, presumably for those folks where it gets cold enough for a scarf for something other than fashion.  This year, designers are pushing scarves that would double as a bed sheet or a sarong. Big and fluffy or chunky seem to be the MO this year.  As y'all've seen, I own 5 million and one scarves. I love scarves.  It's an easy way to dress up an outfit, an adjustable belt, and any other fashion accessory you might need in one length on fabric.  Verdict: Scarves never go out of fashion. Ever.  Indulge all you want in this trend, with one caveat:  if it doubles as a waterbed sheet, it's too big.
Pendants: personally, I'm ecstatic these are coming back in fashion.  I love a pendant necklace, mostly because they offer a focal point and keep themselves in place.  Verdict: Go for it.  At the right length and scale, any woman can wear a pendant necklace, even those not so proud of their neck.

Go Big
This appears to be the year of raiding other people's closets.  Boyfriend clothing, gramma's closet, and Dad's plaid are all equally enamored.
Want to instantly expand your wardrobe, look OMGFASHYUN, and turn on your local male (husband, boyfriend, guy friend, etc)?  Steal his clothes.  Wear his blazer with the sleeves rolled up, wear his button ups untucked over straight leg jeans, and steal his sweaters. Verdict: The slightly oversized look is really big.  It's also really comfortable and the boyfriend trend doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon.
Remember how gramma always wore oversized sweaters, coats, tweed and you pitied her but secretly wished you could get away with oversized?  This year, you can.  Buy that sweater a size or 2 too big and look suddenly fashionable.  Remember that too big coat hiding in the closet? Have fun.  Verdict: There's a fine line between fashionable and bag lady/ gramma.  Be careful.  Stick with only one oversized item per outfit, and if you think it looks sloppy, it probably is.  A belt would probably go a long way to making it better, though.  This idea is great for those growing or shrinking, especially teenagers or those losing weight.
Who can forget Dad's hideous golf pants or lumberjack shirts?  Steal that idea.  Plaid is in and it's everywhere.  Then again, it comes back in every winter.  This winter, it looks like they want you to steal Dad's lumberjack shirt, belt it, and wear it as a dress or tunic.  Verdict:  This one comes down to personal taste.  Don't let it overwhelm you and stay away from day-glo.
Puffer coats are back, and I don't mean short ones.  This season, puffer coats are knee length or longer, and belted for that fresh squeezed Pillsbury doughboy effect. Verdict: If you truly need a puffer coat for warmth this might be an ok idea, but a more streamlined coat looks better on pretty much every female body.

With all of the new stuff that comes in every season, there are certain things that never really go out of fashion.  If you get one of these, make it a classic cut, a classic color, and get  good quality, so you can wear it for years to come.
Trench coats and peacoats are back.  Well, they would be, if they had ever left.  Verdict:  If you don't have a classic trench coat (short or long), get one.  Trust me.  There's reason these weather proof coats have been popular since before Humphrey Bogart.  The peacoat is a golden winter standard for a reason, but is a bit more personal taste driven.  In either case, stay classic and shy away from overly trendy patterns, colors, and textures. (Put down that day glo plaid peacoat.)
Tweed is back, too, for jackets, except it never left either. Verdict: if you like tweed, get it.  Again, stay away from overly trendy colors and shapes, and opt for a classic.
Blazers never left the room.  The style availability  has expanded (shrunken, fitted, boyfriend) and for the first time in quite a  while, they come in any color you could want.  They're another easy way to class up an outfit and make it look like you give a damn, even if you don't.  Verdict: Don't go overly trendy, and get quality.

Rock Chick Blues and Layout Changes

1) "Turquoise" and silver earrings, gift,
2) Cornflower blue pendant, $6, Kohl's
3) Blue cardigan, $11, Express
4) Graphic abstract tee (under cardigan), $5, Target via Goodwill
5) Silky polka dot print belt, $0.50, Goodwill
6) Jeans, $20, Old Navy
7) 60 eye Doc Martens, $180, Zappos

You may've noticed that my format has changed, both in terms of layout and clothing lists.  In both cases, this is a way to make things easier on my readers. 
The layout seems much more readable and allows for a better display, as well as allowing readers to quickly scroll through if they're hunting for one outfit in particular.  Please notify me of any glitches or sizing/ legibility/ loading issues so I can fix them (if I can.)
The new links in the clothing lists are links to similar (in certain cases, the exact) items to what is listed.  Since most of what I wear is from the thrift store or clearance rack, it would be very difficult to downright impossible to find the exact item, hence the similar items.  There will be cases where I can't find anything like an item on the current market, like the belt above.  If that is the case, I'll leave it unlinked.  I'm also partially relying on y'all to let me know when these links go dead or to a bad redirect, so I can either remove the link or update it.
You may also have noticed that there's an extra zero on the price of my boots.  That's not a typo, I actually paid full price for these.  I bought them to wear at my wedding reception and have been wearing them out ever since.  For ladies looking to buy a pair, be forewarned: the 60 eyes are sized in men's sizes, not women's.
The sweater actually came with these god awful, gaudy rhinestone buttons that refused to stay buttoned.  After arguing with them through 3 or for wearings, I decided to fix that.  I took some el cheapo white buttons and colored them with nail polish.  It actually worked, and I sewed on the resulting blue buttons after cutting off the useless buttons.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Patterns and Prints: Fall/ Winter 2012

Patterns appear to have taken a backseat to texture this year.  Both are still fairly prevalent, but it would appear that in an effort to winterize the trends, the fashion gods have decreed that texture reigns.
What few patterns exist are generally loud and aggressive.  Nineteen seventies psychedelics, bold geometrics, and color blocking are all over the place.  Some are keepers, some won’t last a month, and some a flash in the pans that can be made keepers, if you’re careful.
 I’d heavily recommend skipping on by the psychedelics.  It looks to be a 3 week flash in the pan.  Besides, you really don’t want to look like a hippie’s bad acid trip.  That said, if you like the psychedelics, keep it minimal.  A psychedelic purse, a trippy belt.  For the love of god, don’t go head to toe in this trend.  Verdict: Skip this.  It’s a flash in the pan and doesn’t look good on much of anyone.
The geometrics, if done right, can be friendly.  Think Navajo prints, batik dyes, plaids, and argyles. Positioned or scaled correctly, they can draw attention to a tiny waist or away from hips of which you aren’t particularly proud. Positioned and scaled wrong, suddenly even Barbie thin legs look like tree stumps.  The general rule of thumb is that the size of the print should match your fame size.  Tiny frame?  You generally don’t want the huge floral print.  Built like a linebacker?  You might want to skip the swiss dots.  These rules aren’t hard and fast, though.  There’s going to be the occasional article of clothing that breaks all the fashion rules and looks damn hot on you doing it. Verdict:  A traditional sized plaid, check, or polka dot would look good on most women, although beware the lumberjack and schoolgirl effects with plaids.  With the native and exotic styled prints, I recommend using them more as accents than the entire outfit.  It’s too easy to go overboard and look like caricature of the culture than pay homage to it.
Color blocking does wonders for the female figure.  It truly can enhance or create an hourglass shape like no one’s business.   Darker colors will cause the eye to flow away from the area; lighter colors will draw the eye.  Knowing that little bit of magic right there will help you make colorblocking work for you.  Too lazy/ cheap to go buy new clothes, like me?  Congratulations, wearing a shirt that’s a different color from your bottom is color blocking.  Add a different colored belt if you’re really pushing the envelope that day.  Verdict: Go for it.  As long as you watch where the blocks land and what color ends up where, this is a great trend.  It’s been around several years and will probably be around several years more.

Color Me Trendy: Fall/ Winter 2012

If you're here, you're at least vaguely aware of what passes for a trend each season, if only for laughing material. Some of y'all, I know are die hard fashion fiends; others really don't care so long as it's clean and not falling off.  For my fashion fiends trying to meet a budget, this is the first in a seasonal series of what's on trend and worth buying.  I'll run through the colors, cuts, and trends that seem to be most prevalent and see which ones hold water. If you don't agree with what I have to say about a trend, do what's right for you. I'm not the fashion goddess.
As per usual, darker colors are in and lighter/ pastels are out, as decreed by the fashion gods.  It appears that the two big colors are wine and gold. 
Wine, burgundy, dark red, whatever you call it, can come in  a shade to fit almost any complexion. Almost.  Those with very fair skin, red hair, or that are prone to sunburning may have trouble finding a wine color that works.  If you can't find one, don't worry about it.  Carry a glass of red, you'll be fine.  (Unless you're in public.  Then the cops might have something to say.)  This color red is neutral enough that even if the hot color is something different in 3 weeks, you won't stand out like a sore thumb for wearing it.  Verdict:  If you can find a shade that looks good on you and the article itself looks good on you and is well made, go for it.
Gold also appears to be another color of the moment. Not just golden accessories, either.  I've seen hints that 1980s gold lame' may make a comeback. I'm one of those people that firmly believes some people look good in gold, some people don't. I look better in silver.  If you feel/ look better in silver, feel free to ignore this.  If gold is your thing, I'd say stock up, since it's popular and gold jewelry rarely goes out of style.  That said, I'm referring to jewelry here.  Anything in gold lame' should get an automatic veto.  Do you really wanna look like Peggy Bundy? (You do?  Well, this is your season.)  Be careful with golden accents.  Golden pinstripes or hints are one thing, a shirt that half metallic gold fiber is quite another.  You want the gold as an accent, not the showpiece, or you run the risk of fashion victim.  Verdict: Tread this line carefully.  If you're unsure, put it back.  The gold metallic trend is likely to be a flash in the pan for the winter, and even if its not, you still run the risk of looking like an 80's reject.
It looks like the fashion gods have decreed black and white/ black and navy to be the OMGFASHYUN color combos this winter.  Again.  Each winter, they declare black and white as the fashion palette, with a side of black and another neutral.  I know some of y'all out there are screaming in rage because you can't wear white (doesn't look good, guaranteed spills), or can't wear black (white pet, doesn't look good.)  If you can't pull off the stark summer whites due to it washing you out, try the softer winter whites or a creamier color.  If black washes you out worse than a spotlight, try navy or another very dark color.  If it still doesn't work, meh, no worries, it's only clothing trends; wear what you want.  Black and navy has always struck me as being very hard to pull off. One misstep and it looks like you got dressed in the dark.  I'm sure the trendy folk are yelling at me about how it's supposed to look that way, but I live in the real world.  I'd say unless you can easily differentiate between the black and navy in low light, don't mix 'em.  It's just too easy to go into fashion victim territory with that.  Verdict: If they look good on you, black and white are a safe color mix, it comes around as a trend every year.  You'll get plenty of wear out of it.  Black and navy has been a trend for the past several winter so, if you can pull it off, this look is likely here to stay for a while as well.  Go for both.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Tried, Dammit

1) Painted "silver" and wood bead earrings, $1, Kohl's
2) Enamel and "silver" pendant, $3, Kohl's
3) blue/white polka dot tee, $3.79, Goodwill
4) Black khakis, $8?, Ann Taylor Loft via Goodwill
5) Turquoise and "wood" heeled sandals, ancient, Payless

As you can see, while I prefer the real material, I'll take the cheaper version in my accessories, for the right price.  This is also one of my more casual days at work, with khakis, a not quite plain tee, and accessories.Thought did go into the outfit, but only enough to pull it from "rolled out of bed" to "I tried, dammit."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Use It Up, Wear It Out

1) Cameo style amethyst and silver earrings, $20
2) White scarf with painted flowers, $0.50, Goodwill
3) Purple button up, $20, Express
4) Navy floral cami (unseen), $8, Express
5) Dark wash jeans, $20, Old Navy
6) lavendar rope side wedges, ancient, thrifted

I rescued these shoes several years ago from a thrift store. I made the mistake of wearing them and they started falling apart on me.  I had checked them in the store for any apparent loose ends, talking soles (heh, they had a good song or 2), or other construction issues and hadn't seen any.  When they started talking to me, I chucked 'em into my "needs Gorilla Glue pile" and forgot about 'em.
Well, yesterday, I was rooting through my lab and found the  Gorilla Glue section of the needs repair pile.  I found this and one other pair of shoes that could be repaired with the shoe glue/ patch I had left over from trying to fix a pair of old steel toe boots.  I later found out that the other pair were completely irreparable; they were just too far gone.  This pair, on the other hand, I was able to fix.  (Never did get around to the rest of my pile of "needs fixed.")
Moral of the cheapass story:  just because the shoes need repair, doesn't mean they're bound for the trash heap.  Gorilla Glue is one of my best friends.  That shit'll glue anything to anything, almost as well as epoxy or model airplane glue.  The stuff I used, though, was made by Kiwi.  If you ever hafta buy shoe repair/ cleaning/ shine stuff, get Kiwi.  It's the best of the best and cheap as hell.  That and their boot/ shoe patch has repaired more than a few pairs of my shoes back to good condition.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh Sheath!

1) Wood bead necklace, $3, consignment store
2) Grey sheath dress, $7, Target via thrift store
3) Studded belt, $5, Claire's
4) Suede heels, $35, Gianni Bini via Dillard's clearance

I tend to shy away from sheath dresses.  Most of them are just not built for my frame. They're either built for a figure model doll, a woman without a waist, a woman without hips, or a have an absurdly high neckline. This one I tried on a whim, just out of curiosity, and wonder of wonders it fits.  Fits well.  I added the belt because it looked a little plain without it and I needed my rock chick touch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Heavy Dose of Fukitol

1) "Silver" feather earrings, $1, Claire's
2) Leopard print scarf, $0.33, eBay, lot of scarves
3) Suede blazer, $7, local consignment shop
4) Pink 3/4 sleeve sweater, $10?, Ann Taylor via eBay
5) Jeans, $20, Old Navy
6) Ribbon flats, $17?, Target

Simple does it best, right?  Especially on a day when your giveafuck is through the floor and your fukitol is through the roof.  Grab a top, grab pants, grab shoes and a jacket that go with everything you own, and throw on a scarf.  Problem solved, leave before your desire to go back to bed overwhelms you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yipes, Stripes

1) Red star hoop earring, Claire's, $0.50
2) Tree of Life pendant, Claire's, $1
3) White cami, Charlotte Russe, $5
4) Striped t-shirt, GAP outlet, $4
5) Red silk scarf (worn as belt), eBay, $0.33 (part of a lot of scarves)
6) Black pencil skirt, Express, $60
7) Boots with spikes on the back, Steve Madden via Ross, $26
8) Hair elastic doubling as a bracelet, Goody via Walgreens, $0.05

(Geek shot this at a bad angle, but we were in a hurry. Excuse the apparent extra width on me.)
I don't know what I love about the outfit more: the rockabilly look, the boots, or how farking professional I look even when being rocker girl next door.  I've had this skirt pretty much since I started doing interviews in college and I needed a GOOD interview/ suit skirt.  A high waisted pencil skirt is one of my best friends, because it can do so many things and pull together so many looks and make them look pretty damn polished, even when you rolled out of bed, threw it on with a t-shirt and boots, raked a brush through your hair, and ran out the door.  (Nooo, of COURSE that's not what I did here. /sarcasm)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hulking Out

1) Black flower feather hair clip, $1, Claire's
2) Celtic knot silver and amethyst earring, gift, local fair
3) Rune necklace, gift
4) Purple cami, $5, A'Gaci Too
5) Purple/ lavender/ black kimono sleeve sweater, $7, Charlotte Russe
6) Black khakis, $10?, GAP via eBay
7) Purplish gray peeptoe kitten heels, $17, Ross

I love an outfit like this: decorative top, complementary cami, and simple everything else.  The less I hafta think the better, especially on Mondays. 
By the way, I love kimono sleeve tops.  Those of us with broad shoulders, muscular upper arms, and thin waists are always so damn grateful when we can find a top that flatters all three without being afraid of Hulking out a shirt.  (Yes, I went there.  Yes, I was a geek before it was cool.)  With my build, it's usually entirely too easy to rip a seam/ bust a sleeve button/ or rip a sleeve partway off just by trying to move around in it.  They just don't build shirts for women with athletic frames AND a waist AND hips unless there's something bizarrely trendy about the shirt or you're willing to pay an arm and 3 legs for it (I'm not.)  Hence my love affair with sweaters, long sleeve blouses, and knits.  It's rarer than hen's teeth for anything else to fit.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Cheapass Went to a Real Store?!

1) Blue sodalite ball earrings, gift
2) Pink scarf, $0.50, eBay
3) White sequin bust tank, gift, American Eagle
4) Navy sunburst cardigan, $11.48, Target
5) Jeans, Old Navy, $15
6) Ruched silver ballet flats, $7, thrift store
  (By the way, if you love that sweater, I'd suggest hieing your hide to Target ASAP.  I got it off the clearance rack last night, and there aren't anymore online.)
Went shopping last night, for a few things, and found 2 of them: a winter peacoat with a detachable hood (my heavy winter coat is faux fur lined leather) and a navy print cardigan (well, I went in for a navy cardigan but was more than willing to accept this as a substitute.)  Part of the fun/ headache of being a cheapass is riffling through the clearance section and hoping they have your size or your taste.  Even if there's nothing there you'd wear, you still get some pretty good laughs at what's there  (a mullet crop top in size 3X.  Wonder why that's still there....)  For me, shopping at a good shop is relaxing, even if I don't walk out the door with a damn thing, because of all the people watching and laughing at the hideous stuff they want people to buy  (For the record, I want to know who bought the rest of the Yeti furred, sequined, traffic cone orange, peep toe boots.  There was only one pair left.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rain! Precious Rain!

1) Anatomically correct heart necklace, gift
2) Red French cuffed button up, Goodwill, $3.80
3) Black cigarette pants, Express via eBay
4) Thigh high gray leather boots, $60, Kenneth Cole Reaction via flash sale site

It's raining here all day today.  For those who are unaware, I live in the scrub brush desert, and we get an average of 13 in of precipitation a year.  We're also in a drought.  Rain is a HUGE deal here.  I busted out my rocker pirate boots in celebration.  I normally wait til it gets a bit cooler for these, but the rain made it necessary for shoes that weren't fabric, suede, stiletto, or sandals, ruling out almost all of the shoes I own.
Anyways, these are my pirate rock star boots.  I love these things because the section above the knee  can be cuffed, and is studded/ riveted on one side and plain on the other.  This in effect gives me pirate boots and rock star thigh high boots in one pair.  2 styles, one pair?  Hell yeah, I'll pay extra for those!
That's one of my big things, in case you haven't noticed yet.  How many ways I can I wear, rewear, and repurpose this article of clothing?  If the answer isn't more than one, I leave it on the hanger and walk away, no matter how gorgeous it is.  It just doesn't fit into my closet and I'm not buying extraneous crap just to fit one article of clothing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Closet Fail

1) Sodalite ball earrings, $15, local merchant
2) Lapiz Lazuli and Turquoise necklace, $20, local museum
3) Turquoise tee, $3, JCPenney
4) Royal blue flyaway cardigan, $5, Ross
5) Black cotton slacks, $10, eBay
6) Crushed seashell necklace, $1, Claire's
7) fauxligator loafers, $7, Ross

This is what passes for a "fat day" outfit for me.  I'm all kinds of bloated and gunked up from yardwork yesterday, to the point that many of my pants don't fit well or at all.  This resulted in a muffin top that the t-shirt didn't quite conceal.  Adding the flyaway cardigan masked that and made the outfit a touch more professional.  Adding jewelry and semi patent fauxligator shoes to draw the eye away from my waist was the final key in an outfit I was comfortable going out in.
Hints for days you aren't exactly happy with your body are below.  (I hope days like that don't exist for you, but life happens.)
1) As counterintuitive as it may seem, don't try to hide away in something with no shape.  It will only make you feel worse (because you're hiding) and tell the whole world you're trying to hide.  Also, 9 times out of 10, it only magnifies what you're trying to hide.
2) Pull out something that you absolutely love that always fits (elastic, drawstring, jewelry, kick ass shoes) and build an outfit that will show that off.
3) Determine whether a tailored outfit or something loose and flowy (not baggy or shapeless) would camouflage your area of distaste better.  Sometimes, all it takes is a good button down shirt and no one can tell there's anything out of the ordinary.
4) Sundresses, flyaway cardigans, blazers, highwaisted anything and elastic waist flowy skirts are your friend on closet fail days.  ( A closet fail day is one where your entire wardrobe seems to be plotting against you by not fitting right or not coughing up a gorgeous outfit.)
5) Believe it or not, most people don't notice much of anything.  If you're worried what the public will think because your pants are fitting much tighter (to you), don't bother.  They won't notice unless that straining button pops and hits'em in the back of the head. You are your harshest critic.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Material Gains and Losses

*You may note that there is no photo today.  That's because I'm wearing an outfit y'all've seen before.  That means it's time for an actual post of use, not just me showing off.*
I figured today I'd talk about one of the quality lessons I've learned over the years, both by experience and via Google.  Some may apply to what you wear, some won't, and hopefully it's useful.
Material, material, material.  You can doctor most parts of a piece of clothing, but if the material blows, you can't fix that.  (Yes, even if it's otherwise perfect.)  If the material itches the instant you try it on, put it back and walk away.  Washing won't fix that.  If you start sweating just looking at it, put it back.  No one looks good with pit stains.  In general:
  • Cotton can be nearly any weight, breathes and makes excellent clothing with very few exceptions.  Those exceptions are usually related more to how the manufacturer abused that the fiber itself.
  • Linen is usually reserved as a summer fabric because it breathes very well and generally is very lightweight, making it excellent for hot or hot, sticky summers, and not so great for trying to stay warm.  Be warned that linen can be itchy- scratchy, like burlap, if woven wrong, and no amount of softener, bleach, vinegar, or washing will fix that.  While you can get linen sweaters and jackets, they generally are more for looks than warmth.  Also beware that linen will wrinkle like no tomorrow.
  • Silk is again, generally reserved for summer, because it's slick, slippery, and cool against the skin.  Silk knits, while they may not maintain that slick slipperiness, the coolness and the airiness (not necessarily the appearance of airiness) of it's woven cousin. Be wary of stiff silks or itchy ones, it means the fibers have been abused and may no longer maintain it's silk like capabilities (i.e. silk taffeta.)  I personally take those silks on a case by case basis and apply other rules to see how good it may be.  Silk is also a specialty care fabric.  Unless the tag specifically says otherwise, assume it's hand wash or, if particularly fussy, dry clean.  (Unless it's outwear or particularly ornate, you should be safe to hand wash even the silks that say "dry clean.")
  • Bamboo can be turned into fabric.  It'd generally be very soft and light, but may require certain special care.  Can be summer or winter fabric.  I've seen it advertised as sweat wicking in some exercise clothing, but can't vouch for how accurate that is.
  • Wool.  Some hate it (oh, that itch!), some love it (oh, how warm!)  While you can get tropical wool weight slacks and blazers, I'd highly recommend using your climate as a guideline for wool.  Down here, even tropical weight wool in the summer is asking for trouble.  Up north and overseas, it may be suitable for every day of the year.  If wool causes you to itch, I'd say find a blend, keep it as outer wear, or stay away from it.  Again, nothing can remove that itchy scratchiness.  Beware wools that look like Brillo pads, unless it's a tweed or something meant to look like that.  Brillo pad wool generally means piss poor quality.   Also beware wools that look fuzzy like a bunny, that shit will felt or fall apart pretty damn quick. Wool cannot tolerate hot water (causes it to felt like a mother fucker) or the abuse of a washer (unless it says otherwise.)  This is another hand wash or dry clean material.
  • Cashmere is essentially high end wool (technically, it should be the finest wool of certain goats, but that definition is rarely used now.)  Those who find regular wool itches may be able to tolerate cashmere.  It also breathes a bit more than wool, making it more tolerable in less frigid climates (still wouldn't recommend it down here in the summer.)  It does grant that cloud like loft that few wools can match (and loft is actually air that can be used as insulation, believe it or not.  The Brillo pad rule still applies.  The bunny rule may or may not apply, this is brand dependent and I would check other quality factors to determine if it applies.  The same care rules as wool still apply though, and it is usually more delicate than wool.
  • Leather is technically the hide of a creature (usually cow.) It should be soft, not stiff (if it's stiff, it's more closely related to rawhide and won't serve you as well or as long.)  Crumple it in your hand for 30 seconds and then let it go.  See wrinkles or creases?  Walk the fuck away. Run.  That's bad shit.  Scuff at it (gently) with the back of your fingernail, then rub at the scuffed area.  Does it look like you scuffed it?  Bad quality.  Walk away.  Unless it's part of the design, it should all be one color leather, not multiple shade of one color.  While it is waterproof, give it special attention during particularly wet seasons (leather conditioner, etc.)  Stuff spilled on it should come right off with water and saddle soap, but condition it after wards.  If it is dire need of a true cleaning, take it to a professional leather cleaner.
  • Suede is essentially leather with shorn hair still attached.  It'll be stiffer than leather, but not rawhide stiff. Most of the leather tests still apply, with the understanding that the hair will change directions and should still be able to be smoothed out. Suede is NOT friends with water.  Don't take it out if there's even a threat of wet weather or puddles.  Unfortunately, any cleaning has to be done by a professional.
  • Shearling/ fur I know very little about, other than it shouldn't shed when petted, should be reasonably supple, and requires a special cleaner.
  • Man made fabrics.  I loathe most of these.  Except in very rare circumstances, they don't breathe worth a flying fuck and have the highest chance of being cheaply manufactured.  
    • Polyester can take many forms, but it rarely breathes and has a high chance of looking cheap or old lady like.  If it itches, put it back.  If it's a sweater, beware that you will likely sweat in it indoors.  Poly satin can be ok, but again, that's a case by case basis.
    • I've never met a rayon that didn't itch to high heaven or look like something for an old lady.  Stay away from anything with rayon as it's main component.
    • Same goes for nylon.  It generally has a nasty texture and I generally despise the stuff.
    • Microfiber CAN be ok, but I'd definitely take it on a case by case basis and not buy it unless I can feel it and crumple it.
    • Pleather/ vinyl/ any of it's kin: Apply the same rules as leather, but be warned that it likely will crack or wear through long before leather.  I'd highly recommend getting it in the real thing, even if you have to save up, because it'll last you much longer and be more comfortable.
    • Faux fur/ shearling/ etc.  Apply same rules as the real thing.  Here's one area I have no problem buying fake, so long as it passes all my tests.
Any fabrics I missed?  Let me know and I'll give you an idea of what I've learned of them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hanging Around

1) Silver Celtic knot amethyst earrings, $20, local faire
2) Beaded necklace, ancient gift
3) Tribal print tank, $4, Walmart
4) Gray henley, $7, Old Navy
5) Wide leg jeans, Express via eBay
6) (unshown) Silver cuff  bracelet, $15, local trading days
7) red satin flats, $10?, Converse via Target

Yes, I do actually work out here, both weights and body exercise.  How else do you think I gained the right to bitch about having broad shoulders and having to tailor all my button up shirts?  To answer your next question, yes, I am actually hanging there, not cheating by having an object I'm resting on.
Odd pose aside, I do like this outfit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Barefoot Freak goes to the Office

1) "silver" heart earrings, $0.18, Claire's
2) blue/ white polka dot t shirt (under button up), $3.79, Goodwill
3) turquoise button-up, $20 (ancient), New York and Co
4) Lucky Jeans
5) Vibram Five Finger KSOs, $25, eBay
6) Making its first appearance: my dragon ring
7) As a bonus, you can see my safety glasses perched atop my head.

I swear, my office isn't green.  It's mostly greyish blue.   (I really am that fishbelly white, though.) Yes, I took this at the office, doing my damnedest to crop out any references to the company name or insignia (harder than you'd think.)  That's why this is late today, as I completely forgot to turn my alarm on last night and overslept.
If you can see that splotch of (well, grey in this photo) down on the floor by the printer that doesn't work, that's purse I carry damn near every day.  It's a Brahmin hobo bag in a byzantium color (too bright and red to be eggplant, but close.)  That's the one I paid an arm and 3 legs for on clearance.  I carry it all the damn time, so it's cost per wear in pretty close to $0.50 now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cheapassery is an Art

1) Red hoop earrings, Claire's, $0.16 (Part of a 6 pack bought for a dollar)
2) Silver Tree of Life pendant on black cord, $6, Claire's
3) Black silk short sleeve blouse, $10, Banana Republic via eBay
4) White khakis with black pinstripes, $9 Banana Republic via eBay
5) Red peep toes, $5, East 5th via eBay

Holy cheapass, Batman, it's an eBay outfit!  Had I actually deigned to pay full price, this outfit would've easily run me $175, if not more, as opposed to under $30.  Life's too short for overpriced clothes, and the thought of paying $50 (or the more accurate $80 and up, for work slacks) is anathema to me.
I've had people ask me when in my life I started being a cheapass and how I honed my skills to find some of my better deals.  The simple answer is that I wasn't given a choice on being a cheapass.  My family was not exactly rolling in the dough as a kid.  Most of the time, except for rare occasions and gifts from grandparents, my clothes came from the clearance rack and the thrift store.  
My mother only cared about quality inasmuch as "How many kids can this go through being passed down to?"  That meant it had to have decent stitching, minimal signs of wear, and a material that was kid proof (we wore a LOT of cotton.) Over the years, I've expanded my  requirements on clothing to account for issues I've run into when my clothes didn't last: sewn on decorations instead of glued on, true embroidery instead or printed embroidery, and, if I can get my grimy little mitts on it, a true material pattern instead of the dot, stripe, etc just being printed on it.  I'll get more into clothing quality signs at a later date (possibly this weekend.)
We also generally didn't have a huge amount of clothing, as my mom was big on a "dressed in the dark" closet (and we were poor with very little closet and dresser space.)  The "dressed in the dark" closet was the predecessor to my "everything goes with everything" closet.  Everything she bought us had to match or go with a large chunk of our clothes, enabling us to grab a shirt, grab a bottom, and look like it was a planned outfit.  If most of our closet was in the laundry basket, we could still look like we put effort into our clothes. (Yes, I still maintain a simple wardrobe partially for that reason.  I don't like doing laundry.)
I honed my skills through a lifetime of being a cheapass and learning from experience.  Fuck, that shirt fell apart.  What went wrong? What do I need to avoid?  Wow, that just looks cheaply made, not buying that.  Learning to sew and tailor went a long way to helping me determine piecing quality.  Learning what materials had which properties helped as well.  Mostly, though, it was trial and error.
That's not to say that if you're just starting on the cheapass curve, you're SOL.  Hopefully, you're acquainted with my good friends Google, eBay, and Thrifting.  If not, get to know  them.  Google can help determine if a brand or fabric is worth a damn. eBay and Thrifting mean never paying full price (unless you think it's worth it.)  Reading this blog and asking Google can help you pinpoint marks or good or shoddy construction.  So will trial and error, although I'll try to help you minimize that.  While there is logic and science behind cheapassery, it's more closely related to an art.  You don't hafta know what you're doing in the beginning, so long as you're trying.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blazing a Path

1) Wooden bead necklace, $2, Consignment store
2) Mint corduroy blazer, $4, Thrift store
3) Polyester patterned top, $3.79, Goodwill
4) Jeans, $15, Old Navy
5) Silver laser cut flats, $6, thrift store

When I first put this out fit on, I was unsure about the blazer, because it is shorter than the shirt.  I decided I like the outfit anyways.  The rest of this outfit was pulled together after a marathon gaming session last night (0100 is NOT the time to end a good game if you want to be functional the next day.)  When I need to pull together a work outfit in 3 nanoseconds, I love the fact that my closet is built to be idiot proof.  Almost everything goes with almost everything else.  The toppers and accessories take more effort (and sometimes just don't happen,) but the bare basics almost all go together. I'm just too lazy and cheap to buy articles of clothing that don't work with what I already have.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Style of My Own

1) Silver hoop earrings, $1, Claire's
2) Enameled "silver" necklace, $2, Kohl's
3) Turquoise cami, $3, Charlotte Russe
4) White wrap blouse, $12.50, Banana Republic Outlet
5) Navy wide leg slacks, $7, Ann Taylor via Goodwill
6) Basket weave wedges, $20, Christian Siriano for Payless

Wow, that's a crappier photo than I thought it was.  Sorry about that, folks.  Now I know better for tomorrow.
I'm back up and running full speed ahead.  (Well, maybe not running in these wedges, but you get the idea.)  Labor Day's over, I'm not sick anymore- thanks to Nyquil, sleep, and my Neti pot.
This outfit sums up what appears to be my "Style of my own:"  Old Hollywood with a twist of Rock and Roll.  Take something classic, fitted, and ageless and apply a little (or a lot) spike, stud, leather, etc.  I've wondered for a while what my "Style of my own" was: I'm too clean cut for most styles and  not polished enough for others.  I'm too lazy for 3 pounds of make up and don't give enough of a damn to always be on top of the trends (which I guess makes being Cheapass easier.)  I like my rocker chic, but I'll be fucked if I'm putting it all in one outfit.  I like the classical Old Hollywood, but it's boring on it's own.
When it comes to cheapass shopping, I encourage you to figure out what your "Style of my own" is.  Look at your favorite outfits, make up, hair styles, etc. and figure out what drives them.  Then, when on eBay, at the thrift store, at the clearance rack, at wherever your local inexpensive but not crappy clothing is, keep a mental (or physical or digital) checklist of what you keep reaching for, of what's missing, and of what you have entirely too many (I keep having to remind myself that I don't need another black shirt or black pair of pants.)  Be on the lookout for those things that make your jaw drop and make your brain go "NEED. NOW."  If you find one of those, and it doesn't break the bank, buy it.  You'll kick yourself if you don't.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dances with Dogs

1) Geode slice necklace, $1, Kohl's
2) Blue polka dot dress, $9, Gap Outlet
3) white and "wood" wedges, $5, Melrose

This was my first day to experiment with the timer on my phone.  I've known about it for a while, but never really played with it.  Not bad for the front camera on a phone.  That's a shot facing from the back of the back yard towards the house, because I couldn't get a decent shot in the patio.  The black animal is actually my dog, Kasumi.  She's all of 12 weeks old, which is all the explanation I'm giving for why a Labrador retriever mix is that small.
I was hesitant to try this dress on up in Chicago.  Dresses with empire waistlines generally do not play well with my body shape, but I loved the neckline and pattern.  So, I gave it a shot.  I'd say it worked out well, even if it is all polyester. I know, I know, I'm breaking my natural fabrics rule AGAIN, but let's face it, sometimes, you just hafta deal with less than optimal fabrics when a piece of clothing is otherwise perfect and needs NO alterations.