Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Peanuts are complimentary. Compliments are not.

When I left the house this morning, I mentally prepared for it. I assumed that today's color scheme was representative of some school's colors. This assumption aside, my intention -- with today's outfit -- was to do "runway" the "real way."

I first saw bright blue and orange paired together in Vogue. It makes sense -- they are at opposite sides of the color wheel. Coral and turquoise are complimentary of each other -- why not safety orange and cobalt blue? The models I saw were swathed in vibrant colored silk. One in an electric blue pantsuit with a bright orange cami, the other in a vivid orange dress with a bright blue pattern. Not having either the pantsuit or the dress, I opted for a cotton cami from Express, a blue cardigan from Ann Taylor Loft and my gray pants. I debated whether or not to tuck, but given my ongoing belt loop drama I opted for untucked. I piled on the jewelry and headed for the office.

The second I stepped foot in the office door I hear: "You're wearing Southwest Airlines' colors today?" Huh? I was not mentally prepared for that. I proceeded to argue that SWA's colors were a bit darker than what I was wearing. But this woman insisted that she had just seen a plane that morning and I was in fact wearing the same colors. I guess I should have taken her word for it. I mean, after all, I'm sure if she saw a plane -- 5,000 feet in the air -- she would know. Instead I used Google -- close, but I see the difference.

Later today, I found out that I was in fact wearing school colors. Boise State to be exact -- GO BRONCOS!

Believe me, this was not my intent. I simply wanted to see how bright orange and blue would translate outside of a fashion magazine. And apparently it translates to: "Welcome aboard Southwest Airlines flight 1286, final destination Boise."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Head down. Thumbs up.

I tend to get random song lyrics stuck in my head (shocking, I know). On Friday, "American Boy" by Estelle (feat. Kanye West) was on a loop in my head. No real reason. It is not as if it had anything to do with anything I was doing. I mean, I was at work -- not convincing some guy to take me on a tour of America. I mean, I've been to Brooklyn. I've seen what's good.

Sometimes song lyrics get stuck in my head for no apparent reason. Other times, the situation reminds me of a song, hence that song gets stuck. Keep reading, I may eventually make a point.

I rarely venture out of my downtown office building during the work day. On occasion I may stroll down the road with a co-worker for lunch, but most days I stay in the office. I've got a cush thing. I depart from my house garage in the morning, park in the office garage, walk a few yards to the elevator and I'm in the building -- no jacket required (obscure Phil Collins reference duly noted).

However, today I ventured out at high noon. Never a good idea if, like me, you tend to get very hot if the mercury rises above 75 degrees. But, I needed to run an errand about 5 blocks down the road. I seriously debated driving, but knew that would be overkill. I set off down the sidewalk, only to find it flooded with water from a nearby sprinkler. I gingerly stepped over it, much like Elmer Fudd does when he's sneaking up on Bugs Bunny -- minus the gun and funny hat.

I cross the street to avoid the war protestor (singular). I attempt to avoid eye contact with the Neiman Marcus window display taunting me with fantastic shoes I could never afford to buy. Half a block down the sidewalk is closed for "Men at Work" (oddly enough, the lyrics to "Down Under" did not get stuck in my head until I'm typing this.) I end up walking near the street curb, wondering if the guy on the manlift above is enjoying the view. He seems to be.

Now, every email forward I have received -- regarding how to avoid becoming a serial rapist's next victim -- instructs the reader to walk with a purpose, head up and make eye contact. I usually have a purpose for walking (to get somewhere) and I keep my head high since good posture makes you appear thinner. However, when walking in downtown Dallas, I must keep my head down as to avoid getting my thin heels stuck into a sidewalk crack. I look at the ground to avoid cobblestones, decorative brick and sidewalk grates and wonder why the hell the city planners used so many different forms of concrete work.

Somewhere between the construction worker and the decorative brick, song lyrics gets stuck in my head: "...Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear. But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there. Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world." This of course is "Wild World" by Cat Stevens, currently known as Yusuf Islam (I'm sure my blog just went on the government watch list for typing that name. Great. I could use the publicity.)

To summarize, I do have a lot of great things to wear. Week 3 of no shopping and I have yet to repeat an outfit. I've repeated belts a few times, but never an outfit. See, I told you I would have a point.

Friday, May 22, 2009

No jeans, got me blue

No "denim day" at work today.
Sometimes I feel like the whole human race is jazzin' for blue jean.

Me included.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

American Girl -- Like the song, not the dolls

It is difficult for me to not associate certain colors with certain things, for example: When we first moved into our house I decided I was going to paint the kitchen. For some inexplicable reason I decided to paint the kitchen bright, bright yellow with accents of red (I think I was using some ethnic, Pier One, glazed plate as my inspiration). Once the walls were painted yellow, I set about the task of painting the beadboard red. I was about half way through when I realized I was making my kitchen look like an old school McDonald's. The beadboard was quickly repainted white, but the bright yellow walls remained. Eventually, I painted the kitchen cabinets a bright blue -- sort of French Provencialesque.

It was not until about a month later when it dawned on me -- not only was yellow and blue my high school colors (Go Trojans!) -- but it also happens to be on the WaMu logo.

My kitchen walls are now a very pale yellow. The cabinets are a darker shade of goldish yellow. Believe me, it looks much better and (so far) it hasn't brought to mind any fast food or banking establishments. Paint colors or not, I still associate certain colors with certain things.

Today I decided to wear my white pants and electric blue, silk blouse. I have always worn this blouse with black pants or skirt. But, since I'm all about trying to do new things with my clothes, today I opted for the white pants. I immediately wondered if I looked to "All American." I remind myself of the star-spangled part of the flag, only with a brighter blue. But, since there is no red in my outfit, it doesn't conjure up images of the entire flag. And -- unlike last week's black and yellow ensemble -- no one has commented on my "4th of July outfit" -- bonus!

I know white pants are iffy for many people. I was trepidatious to try them, but once I found the right cut and fabric I knew it would be okay. A fair share of white pants are made of paper-thin fabric and you can see right through them -- not professional at all (unless you are a "pro"). White pants with lining are a good option, but it can get too hot in the summertime to wear lined pants comfortably. After a good deal of looking for the right pair, I bought these white pants last year.

The secret about these pants is that they are actually a pair of jeans. I work at a place where jeans are not allowed, but then you know what they say about rules... These pants are trouser cut. They don't have the telltale jean hem, but they are cotton denim. Also, I have them professionally laundered to get the sharp crease.

I think the common misconception about white is that it makes you look "bigger." I don't know about all that. I do agree that black is better at hiding flaws, but let me tell you -- if you are wearing white pants, you will stay away from most things. This includes happy dogs, your car door, printer toner, highlighters without caps and food. I think I actually lost weight today since I was too nervous to eat for fear of messing up my white pants. Okay, you caught me. I actually did eat today, but I'm not lying when I say I covered myself in a blanket of paper towels before eating my lunch -- Amy's Organic Cheese Enchiladas. Those things are great, but one wrong move and it can take white to wrong.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quick change artist

I have a love/hate relationship with fashion magazines.

I love how they arrive in the mail, fresh and new, brimming with the latest trends and ideas. I hate how you have to flip past no less than 10 pages of advertisements -- convincing you that your teeth should be whiter, you should be thinner, your makeup should last longer and you really need to wear more diamonds -- to get to the "articles." An article is usually text wrapped around photos of models who are six feet tall, 115 pounds, dressed in beautiful clothes, their hair and make-up perfect. I silently chant "airbrushing, airbrushing, airbrushing," reminding myself that everyone could look this good with a team of make-up artists, hair stylists, 20 wardrobe changes, a two day photo shoot in Maui (to capture the perfect 5 pictures that actually end up in the magazine) and endless amounts of airbrushing.

I took a Women Studies course in college. I wrote my final paper on how fashion magazines affect the self-esteem of woman. Nailed it!

Having since moved past my collegiate ideals, I now read about 5 fashion magazines a month -- "research" for my wardrobe consultation business (write off!). Now, more than ever, most fashion magazines have a section wherein they show you one piece of clothing done two ways. Unfortunately, the piece of clothing is always something like a $285 blouse. Then they match it up with a $355 pair of pants for work OR for the casual weekend, a $175 denim micro mini. Nice!

Publishing house budget aside, I get the point. You should be able to wear your clothing more than one way. Whenever you are about to buy a new skirt (for example), stop and think -- What will I wear this with? Is that skirt worth buying if you also will have to buy a new top to go with it? Before this blog, I use to answer myself with a resounding "Hell yes!" and then keep shopping. If I felt particularly thrifty, I'll buy a dress -- its the top and bottom together.

Now, I aim to show women how to create outfits using the items already in their closets. Therefore, when shopping for clothes the question becomes: "Can I add this to what I already have in my closet and create another outfit? -- not, "What do I need to buy to go with what I just bought?"

Today I wore a top that I had bought for a concert last year. It was colorful and flouncy and served its purpose. It was inexpensive and I was in a rush. I didn't stop to think what else I could do with it. I wore it to the concert with jeans and back to my closet it went. I love the mixture of colors -- pinks, grays, black, white and a touch of purple. However, since it is sleeveless and has a wide band, fitted bottom, I never considered the possibility of wearing it to the office.

This morning as I stood in front of my closet, mulling over what to wear, a light bulb when off. I grabbed the top, grabbed my gray skirt and set about pulling together my outfit. I tucked the top in and the wide band, fitted bottom actually kept the shirt from riding up. Sleeveless? No problem. My trusty light gray cardigan has seen me through a lot. I accessorized with my strappy gray heels and gray toned jewelry, letting the colorful top be the focal point.

After work, if I was meeting the girls for dinner and drinks, I would just change into jeans and be ready to go. Viola! One top worn two ways -- just like a magazine. However, since I was not meeting the girls after work the photo to your left is for illustration purposes only and does not reflect real life -- just like a magazine. Hey, I may read them, but I still think fashion magazines are glossy books of propaganda devised by ad agencies to use as vehicles to sell their client's beauty products by convincing women they are fat and ugly. As I said, its a love/hate relationship.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shine on

Some people like animals or landscapes on their calendars. Some people have a fun facts or quote-of-the-day calendar. I have a "shoe-of-the-day" calendar. My desk calendar is 365 beauty shots of shoes spanning from 17th century to 2008. As you may have guessed (if you read Thursday's love letter to my shoes) I think my "Dignity" shoes could be on this calendar. I have considered submitting a picture of them to the publishers. I'm not sure if it works that way, but I've had the thought.

Today's calendar shoe du jour is a gold and sliver metallic leather pump circa 1930 -- proof that metallics have long been a part of fashionable footwear. Today my shoe du jour is a silver birdcage metallic leather pump circa 2007 -- proof that I will wear shoes that are 2 years old.

Metallic shoes are not just for pageants and proms. Metallics are neutral -- they go with everything. Metallics are in season -- every season. Metallics don't care what time of the day it is, they only care that you wear them and often.

Of course, all things in moderation. I'm not suggesting you wear head-to-toe metallics. Remember: "lamé" becomes "lame" without the accent. Use metallics to accent your outfits, not overpower them.

Today I wore what is undoubtedly my favorite button-up shirt. It is bright aqua blue that makes me happy. I have been searching everywhere for another shirt of the same color. Of course, I stopped looking for said shirt when I entered my 90 day moratorium on shopping. (However, if anyone reading this feels I'm owed a gift, or they like to shop for Christmas presents early, please take note.) I also wore my black wide-leg pants. These pants are fantastic because they have decorative tabs instead of belt loops -- no belt required! I accessorized with my crystal and pearl necklaces and silver shoes. The crystals are clear, but faceted so they capture the aqua blue and shine. Shiny makes me happy. I'm a shiny, happy person.

R.E.M. could have been singing about metallic accessories:

Everyone around love them, love them
Put it in your hands
Take it take it
There's no time to cry
Happy happy
Put it in your heart
Where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine
-- "Shiny Happy People" by REM (1991)

However, according to my good friend Mr. Wiki, the song is supposedly an ironic reference to a Chinese propaganda and the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Really? Because I could swear it was about my shoes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pleats me.

I knew I was wearing a skirt with some kind of pleat, but I was not sure which kind. Thank goodness for Wikipedia.* After learning the proper term for more than 10 types of pleats, I was able to deduce that the skirt I was wearing today had an "inverted box pleat." I figured this tidbit of knowledge would come in handy for when someone asked: "Hey, what kind of pleat is that?" Strangely, no one did.

I originally debated buying this skirt because to me it looked like culottes -- and I have bad memories of culottes. Does anyone -- other than me and your grandmother -- know what culottes are? I think most Texans call them "skorts." A culotte is basically a pant that look like a skirt -- or is it a skirt that looks like a pant? Food for thought.

So my skirt with the inverted box pleat is reminiscent of a culotte, which brings me to today's flashback (cut to me making waves in the air with my hands a la Wayne's do do do do do do... ) The year was 1989. I was 13 years old and attending 8th grade in San Antonio, Texas. Having just been uprooted from my middle school in Austin, I was struggling to cope (on many different levels).

Texas summers are hot. If you did not know this, you would just need to spend about 2 minutes with me anytime between mid-May and late October and I will constantly remind you just how hot it is. Texas summers are hot and the further south you are the more humid it gets. You could imagine how delightful it was in San Antonio, in August.

I arrived to school, one hot summer day, wearing culottes that hit my knee. I managed to make it half way through the day before I got called into the Principal's office. Why? Oh, did I forget to mention that in 1989 San Antonio the public school system's dress code did not allow you to wear "shorts."

Girls were allowed to wear "skirts" or "pants," but apparently not any combination of the two. I was sent to the Principal's office and made to change in to some grey sweat pants from the lost and found. It was torture. I assume this is what Gitmo was like. I should have sued -- but, since I do not come from a litigious family, we did not sue. However, my parents did vehemently defend my choice of dress and blasted the stupid dress code. We moved back to Austin a year later. I like to think the two events are connected.

I don't remember much else about that school in San Antonio. I can't tell you who my teachers were or what the school mascot was. I sure as hell don't remember the pre-algebra or the Alamo, but I'll be damn if I will ever forget that fashion censorship!

*I love Wikipedia. It is great on so many levels. I think Michael Scott explains it best:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Who needs to remember where they parked? Not me.

Have you ever had the experience where you perceive a smell and suddenly remember an event that you'd forgotten for years? Or, consider certain perfume or cologne smells that remind you of people in your life (Oscar de la Renta = mom; patchouli = Jerod; Blackberry and Vanilla = Megan; moth balls = Aunt Phyllis, etc. ). These are examples of the connection between olfaction and memory. A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people's moods and even affect their work performance. Clothing does the same thing for me.

There is a scientifically proven connection between olfaction and memory. To me there is also a connection between old fashion and memory. Get it? Olfaction. Old Fashion. Okay, moving on...

I think we can all relate to wearing something we have worn before and it reminds of other times we wore that outfit. For example, you wear a dress to a friend's wedding and then later that year (or years later), you wear the same dress out to a nice dinner. You probably think about the friend's wedding as a result of what you are wearing. I can remember specific compliments I received when wearing certain items of clothing. Likewise, I can remember anything negative said.

I may have a real problem with short-term memory. However, my old fashion memory works quite well. I can remember the outfit I wore the first day of school to the 1st grade: red cotton skirt, white cotton top with hearts all over it. I remember waking up, being so excited about school (last time that happened), getting dressed and going to the living room only to see my parents watching the news -- I had only been asleep for about 2 hours. The first day of my senior year of high school I wore a red denim skirt, white cotton top with floral print (and I'm fairly certain I rocked a braided leather belt with that outfit). Not sure why I favored red skirts, but I digress.

Today's outfit is nothing too memorable. I have worn this dress one time before, but last time it was with a black belt and my BCBG "Angel" shoes (as shown last Friday). Today I opted for my nude belt and shoes. I will say that I was about half way through my work day when it dawned on me what this belt reminded me of. Has it occurred to you yet?

I am also wearing my ginormous coral and turquoise butterfly ring. This is the very same ring that prompted a memorable (albeit lengthy) Facebook status update and several supportive comments in return (to recap, last time I wore this ring a woman commented, "Wow, that's a big ring." This mindless statement prompted a discussion about how people who state the obvious are not necessarily complimenting you so they should just keep quiet.).

Yes, my old fashion memory is very keen. I don't think I shall ever forget what this belt reminds me of.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Doing it with "Dignity"

I love my Carlos Santana "Dignity" shoes. I love them so much I would write a sonnet about them if I actually understood what a sonnet was. I think everyone should have (at least) one pair of shoes that makes them feel like a goddess and these are mine.

The box describes them as "Old Silver." I think they are more of a faint gold with bronze accents -- but then, maybe that's what "Old Silver" looks like. These shoes are leather, but shimmer. I don't know how they do it, but I like it! I always have to explain to people that that metallics are neutral. As such, these shoes have been worn with a variety of outfits. I even wore them with a pear-green bridesmaid's dress in November. Talk about getting your money's worth!

The top-knot and bow gives these shoes a bit of a party vibe, but I don't need a party to wear them.

Today I wore them with my purplish-mauve button-up blouse from Banana Republic. The blouse's buttons are gun metal. I wore my pearl and crystal 3-strand necklace that has gun metal accents and a gun metal bracelet (all Cookie Lee, of course). The skirt is also from BR. It is a great skirt with a varied, brown weave (much like Beyonce).

I'm not joking when I say that I have instructed Joe to "memorialize" me in these shoes. Now, while that may sound dirty, it really is the equivalent to saying "bury" me in these shoes. And since I have opted for cremation, a memorial is what we shall have. Talk about dying with "Dignity"!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today's outfit causes a "buzz"

The high-waisted pencil skirt epitomizes retro glamour. I know an A-line skirt is more flattering on me, but I can't help myself. I lust after pencil skirts. I envy the women who can wear them with ease and not concern themselves with unsightly bumps and bulges. I even bought a pencil skirt last year. It fit, but I knew would fit better after I lost another 5 pounds (famous last words). I wore that skirt once to work and it has sat in my closet untouched ever since.

Fast forward to about a month ago. I'm at the mall (I can't wait until I can say that again) and I spy with my little eye something so fabulously high-waisted and straight that I had to try it on -- "just for fun," I told myself. I stood there in the dressing room, zipped into this skirdle (skirt that acts like a girdle) and examined myself closely. Can I breath? -- Define breath? Can I sit? -- Who needs to sit? I debated if I should buy it. I calculated what I had eaten that day and wondered if, on a day when I ate more, would it still fit? Throwing caution to the wind -- and my credit card to the cashier -- I left the store with the skirt that was sure to make me look like I belonged in nose art.

The skirt hung in my closet for weeks, but today was the day. I put on my exceedingly bright, highlighter yellow blouse, then I said a silent prayer and told the dogs to "cross their paws" as I zipped up the zipper that just kept going. It was on! I examined myself in the mirror. Not too shabby! I felt like a Joyce Ballantyne painting as I arrived to work, head held high, thinking "This outfit is fantastic. I love it."

Then I got to the office.

Within 10 minutes a male attorney said to me, "You're wearing your bumble bee outfit today." Okay, first of all that would imply that on other days I wear my butterfly outfit, my ladybug outfit, or perhaps a dragonfly outfit. Secondly, who the hell says something like that to a woman you work with? Who the hell says that to anyone who is not a 5-year-old at your door trick or treating in an actual bumble bee outfit?

Shortly after that, a woman said, "I haven't worn yellow since I was a kid. People just don't wear yellow that much anymore." I smiled politely, nodded my head and said "Really, I see it all over." In my head I'm screaming "Open any fashion magazine! Watch T.V.! Step outside!" Where does she get off? "People just don't wear yellow that much anymore." I mean, its the color yellow -- its not a petticoat. Later in the day, this same woman asked if Scarlett Johansson is someone famous? (Yes, she is in fact famous and oh, by the way, she wears yellow!)

What is it with people who just say what ever idiotic thing that comes out of their mouth? If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Or at least have the decency to stay quiet and blog about it later. Passive aggressiveness is highly underrated.

Despite those wildly incorrect comments, I still think this outfit is great. The skirdle wrinkles badly, not great for my desk job. Nonetheless, I know that if I was standing for long periods of time -- posing for Ballantyne or Vargas -- I would make fantastic nose art.

Author's Note: There were a few compliments paid to me today, but that doesn't really give me fodder for the blog, so I'm skipping them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In a foul mood and out of the loop

This morning brought another dreadfully dreary day in Dallas. The kind of day when even alliteration did not improve my mood.

The smattering of raindrops and fog this morning did nothing to facilitate my creativity. Facing my clothes I remained steadfast, refusing to accept defeat. What to wear? What to wear? Only subdued colors would suit the mood I was in. Some people dress for the occasion. I dress for my temperament. This would explain why some days I show up to work in an electric blue shirt and other days I wear grey. Much like Homeland Security advises of threat levels, my outfits rely on color to relay my mood.

But instead of looking like this:

Its more like this:

I think predictability is overrated (although I'm sure most husbands would disagree).**

Today I opted for -- what I consider to be -- subtle colors. I wore a pair of navy blue trousers that have a faint, small "window pane" pattern. The large, flap-front pockets and over sized buttons are reminiscent of sailor pants. I paired it with a salmon colored, short sleeve button up with slightly puffy sleeves. While I am aware that the color salmon does not impart my feelings of apathy to the general public, to me it is a step-down from the bright aqua blue I considered wearing. After mulling over what shoes to wear I opted for my go-to nude heels. Now, for a belt. I'm not going to lie, I have 29 belts (I counted) including one with glitter (I know, what was I thinking? That is going in the trash). But even with 28 belts, I never have the "right belt." (Sisters, can I get an "Amen!"?)

I've had these pants for just a short time and have not yet found the "right belt" for them. And, since my self-imposed moratorium on shopping, I'm about 80 days away from being able to buy the "right belt" for these pants. As I stood in front of my closet (kicking myself), I considered my options. Surely one of my belts would work right? Wrong.

As I mentioned on Friday, I have a short torso. My build, coupled with the fashion industry's desire to cut trousers to hit "just below the waist," leaves me with a dilemma. Even pants designed to hit "at the waist" fall below my natural waist. Whereas I can get away with a smaller belt to encircle my waist, I need a larger belt to encircle my hips when I wear pants. I call this the Lily Rush Syndrome -- which I named after the heroine detective on "Cold Case." Unlike me, she is willowy and able to wear her uniform low-rise pants with a belt. I just can't pull that off.

I tried several belts this morning, none of which fit properly with these pants. It is this very reason that I so rarely wear shirts tucked into pants and why I am a huge fan of pants without belt loops. I considered changing clothes and then said "screw it" (but as I was saying it to my dogs, I used an expletive). I went to my jewelry drawer. I put on a long, silver chain necklace, my silver hoop earrings and a silver bangle (Cookie Lee, of course). Then I added a second necklace for good measure. Maybe the jewelry will keep the attention away from the fact I'm not wearing a belt. After all, this is Dallas -- people here are easily distracted by shiny objects (Oh, you know its true).

**I heart the Internet! You can design your own personal threat level chart at I would have done my own, but they didn't offer plum, fuchsia, pewter, chartreuse or any other colors I deem necessary.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Would I lie to you?

Would I lie to you? Perhaps. But I would call it a slight untruth. Sounds better right?

There was a time when I thought wearing inexpensive clothes was completely uncool. In junior high I was utterly ashamed that my white, canvas shoes didn't have that tiny blue "Keds" label on the back. I was the brat who always insisted on having a JanSport backpack and a Dooney and Bourke purse (even if my parents couldn't afford it). If it didn't have the name brand plastered across it, I deemed it simply no good. Looking back on that, I realize how foolish I was. I can see why my parents were so aggravated by it.

If someone asked me where I bought the skirt I was wearing, I would respond by shaking my head, flicking my hands and saying, "Oh, I just don't remember" -- hoping my wild gestures would throw them off the scent and perhaps make them forget their question. Sometimes I would lie and say I got it at Dillard's (even if it really came from Weiner's).

Now, years later, I take pride in telling people that the fantastic dress I'm wearing is from a consignment store, or the great heels you admire were bought on clearance at DSW. I have fun taking a $25 dress and building around it to create an outfit you would expect I spent more on. Of course there is a lot to be said for "investment" pieces -- clothing you will wear for years and years, clothing that is timeless and makes you feel good. For the sake of full disclosure, I will tell you that I do not own any "investment" pieces. For the amount of money I have spent on ten inexpensive, trendy tops, I could have bought a few quality, timeless blouses. But that's not me. I'm very fickle -- I like what I like when I like it.

Today's outfit is Merona dress from Target. The ad will say its berry colored and 100% cotton. I say it is a rich, vivid plum color made of luxurious sateen cotton. Sounds better right? Also, as with anything that comes "belt included," you have to switch it out. This dress came with a matching "sash" (fancy talk for "extra piece of fabric"), that did nothing for my figure. Also, I think wearing tone on tone can be boring, especially when dealing with such an unstructured dress.

Today I paired this dress with one of my (many) wide stretch belts. I think I got this particular belt at Kohl's, but I don't remember (and I'm not just saying that, I really don't remember). I wore the "Ebony Twilight" necklace and earrings and a gunmetal bangle bracelet from Cookie Lee (shocking, I know). The shoes are my Carlos Santana "Satisfaction." This is the most expensive part of the ensemble. While that little fact will probably not surprise most readers, I'm sure my husband will be less than thrilled when he sees this. Zappos has them on sale now. Unfortunately, I paid full price when I bought them last season at Macy's (I'm just sayin').

While I have learned to appreciate a bargain and relish telling people how little I paid for something, I still have not completely outgrown my desire to obtain high-priced, designer items. I want my sunglasses to say Fendi on the temples. I covet a Gucci bag that is so obviously Gucci and Christian Louboutin heels that scream "I'm Louboutin!!" with their noticeably red soles. Perhaps when my 90 day shopping moratorium is lifted, I will have saved enough money to "splurge" on a $800 pair of shoes, something I will wear for years and years. Although I'm fairly sure I'll stick to my $100 shoes. Then I can afford 28 more $25 dresses.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

If you're strappy and you know it clap your hands!

Bra straps. Can't live with them. Can't lift without them. So what's a girl to do about the girls? There are several options available to us. Hell, there are industries built around them. Victoria has made no secret about it. Fredrick took over Hollywood with them. And lest we forget Bette Midler sang a song about them.

So what am I to do when I want to throw on a comfy, thin-strapped tank? There are bras with clear straps -- but I find they lack the comfort and hoist of traditional straps. There are strapless bras --but (much like chocolate cake), I find they go straight towards my waist. I know what you are thinking -- improper fit. Well, that may be true, but the fact is I worry more about what I'm wearing on the outside, than I do about what is underneath.

You may say, "But, Daniela, isn't what you wear under your clothes just as important as what everyone can see?" To which I may say (diving into the shallow end of my personality), "Nothing is more important than what everyone can see." The Style Within's motto is "its what's inside your closet that counts," not, "its what's inside your lingerie drawer that counts."

Now, where was I? Oh yes, bra straps. Okay, so today I threw on a shapeless (yet embellished), aqua tank top. I just threw on the top, paying no mind to the fact that I was wearing a standard issue bra underneath. Nothing cute about this bra -- no frills, no lace. It was, however, a nice pewter color. I thought about changing into my bra with clear straps. I considered changing into a strapless bra.

As I stood there, debating my options, a wise woman's voice resonated in my head. "So what if your bra straps show. At least then everyone knows you are wearing one." Yes, wise words indeed. Thanks mom.

**Disclaimer: The author only condones visible bra straps under certain circumstances. For example: an outdoor concert, mowing the lawn, McD run and going to the nail salon. The author does not support (pun intended) visible bra straps at work, school, church, mall, car dealership, grocery store, restaurant, et al.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Will the weekend bring weakness?

While many companies (including those in the building where I work) allow their employees to wear jeans on Friday, at my office we cannot. We are, however, allowed to wear jeans on the workday before a holiday. Unfortunately, this does not include Arbor Day, Flag Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Armed Forces Day or any of the other hundred "holidays" my calendar says there are. Therefore, I get to wear jeans to work about 7 days a year.

It is urban/office legend that years ago, wearing jeans on Friday was allowed. I have heard hushed voices in the hall talk about people who "took advantage" of said relaxed dress day. Now, I'm not really sure what "took advantage" means, but based on what I have seen in the days leading up to Christmas, I've got an idea.

The rule I abide by when I'm lucky enough wear jeans to the office is: Dress as you would on any other work day, but swap out your slacks or skirt for jeans. If you wouldn't wear, oh, let's just say, a Dallas Cowboy jersey over your black slacks on Tuesday, then please don't wear it over jeans on Friday. Of course, any jeans worn at the office should be of a dark wash and nice cut (if you have not tried the "Ginger" cut by 7 for All Mankind, I highly recommend them).

As I was not allowed to wear jeans today, my ensemble allows me to tout the glorious invention that is Hollywood Fashion Tape as well as expound on the durability (and wearability) of a 4 inch heel with 1" platform.

Since "shopping my closet" I am pulling out all sorts of things that I have not given recent consideration to. Today's kelly green, cropped, henley-style sweater is from the Victoria's Secret catalog circa 2005 (2005 is of course before all the catalogs I received went straight to the recycle bin without being opened). The color is fantastic and even though it is 100% cotton (yes, cotton) it has held up great against several years of machine washing. Plus, the little gold buttons add a bit of fancy. I paired the sweater with basic black cropped pants (from Old Navy's "wear to work collection" of all random places) and my absolutely fabulous, multi-colored snakeskin strappy heels -- more on those later.

I have a short torso -- my waist is right under by ribcage. The problem with a short torso is that the shoulders of tops fall longer on the body than intended. I have spent countless dollars having my tailor shorten straps of tank tops or take the hem up on the bottom of shirts so they don't hit too low on my hips. Tailoring aside, I mostly rely on my Hollywood Tape. This stuff is great! By pulling the sweater up a touch and taping it, I am able to avoid revealing too much (if you know what I mean...and I think you do).

Today's shoes are nothing if not attention-getters. Even the most mousy, tight-lipped secretary commented on them. One lady challenged me to run around downtown a la Anne Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada." I told her I was more than capable to run in heels, but the heat and humidity outside prevents me from proving it. Most people do not believe me when I tell them I am quite comfortable in my towering shoes. I have no desire to wear ballet flats or kitten heels. I am 5' 4", but thanks to my shoes I stand tall at a glorious 5' 8".

The shoes I wore today are similar to a multi-colored snakeskin peep toe I owned years ago. They were a low profile (re: no platform), peep-toe, with a "birdcage" open weave. They were shades of greens, blues and browns. I bought them on a whim and soon realized they went with almost everything. Hence, when I saw these BCBG "Angels" I just had to have them. They really do work with a variety of clothing and will turn up in numerous future blog entries.

Well, it is the end of the week. On most weekends I shop. It is not always the spend-the-entire-day-at-the-mall kind of shopping, rather my car tends to drive me to retail stores in between errands (it is, after all, a high performance vehicle). This is my first weekend of the 90 day shopping embargo. When Sunday night arrives, I anticipate having a very clean house, a book read and perhaps I will have mastered the challenge of writing haiku. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I will have to find ways to keep busy and out of stores this weekend.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Horizontal stripes, really? Oui!

Most women I know have been told (one way or another) to avoid horizontal stripes because they "make you look wide." I too subscribed to this theory until very recently.

Something about black and white horizontal stripes is very Parisian to me. I imagine wearing peddle pushers, a little beret on my head and a red scarf tied around my neck as I ride a bike on a cobble stoned street in a small, French provincial town. The bike would have a wicker basket containing French bread. Of course the bread would contribute to the wideness of my frame, more so than the stripes. Not having a bike with a basket I opted for a bike with saddle bags.

Today it was 90+ degrees with so much humidity that it felt like trying to breathe under water. It was so muggy and uncomfortable, I opted to pull on my striped Micheal Kors cotton t-shirt. I bought it at TJMaxx -- a bit before my 90 day shopping embargo -- on clearance for $14. I'll be honest, I bought it for my Burlesque dance class, but ended up wearing it to work today. I paired the casual tee with my black Banana Republic skirt (a staple every woman should have). In lieu of the little red scarf, I opted for my years old, red Guess "Carrie" pumps. The Guess "Carrie" is the greatest heel I have ever owned. Guess has carried the "Carrie" for years and each season they come up with new and exciting colors and patterns. I am dying for a pair with the multi-colored floral pattern (shown right). Maybe I will buy them in July after my 90 day experiment is up.

Speaking of shoes, I will take this opportunity to note that the only comment uttered at me today regarding my pseudo-French look was: "Wow, look at your fancy red shoes!" Fancy? Really?
I mean, Dorothy had some fancy red shoes -- mine are just leather.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Its Unnatural!

I love unnatural fabrics: rayon, modal, spandex. I especially love polyester. Nothing against cotton, wool, silk or any other natural fibers -- I own my fair share -- but I love me some man-made, artificial, flame-retardant fabrics. The stuff doesn't wrinkle, it comes out of the washer practically dry and it never fades! Now, I know what you are thinking -- leisure suits, shiny shirts, your 4th grade teacher's wardrobe -- but all that is not necessarily true.

Today I wore a 100% polyester skirt circa 2004. I don't think I have worn this skirt for 2 years. Its pattern is made up of black, coral, peach, and cream with touches of brown. I use to rock it with a peach, lace-trimmed cami, black wrap sweater and the best pair of "all man-made material" shoes a girl can buy for $15. Trust me, they were fabulous!! But I digress. The coral tank top I wore today is 85% rayon and 15% spandex (I really thought I sensed cotton in there). The brown wrap top is 90% cotton and 10% spandex. This picture was taken after my day at the office. Look ma, no wrinkles. Fresh as a daisy all day long!

I decided to pair the skirt (which has a black background) with the chocolate brown shirt and shoes to prove a point. I know you can't tell from the image, but the brown in the skirt popped. Black is a neutral, brown is a neutral. I have seen several people take this to heart and wear black pants with a brown shirt. Black and brown can live harmoniously together (re: Carla and Turk on 'Scrubs'; and Puffy and JLo - granted that didn't end well). However, in the world of clothing, I think it is best to integrate black and brown with other colors. Cue music: "Ebony and Ivory," but remix it with "Rainbow Connection." (for the lovers the dreamers and me).

Today I accessorized with stacked wood, gold and pearl-white bangles and a Lucite necklace. Ah, Lucite -- not just for stripper heels anymore. I mean, what's the deal with clear jewelry? I'm not sure, but the Lucite beads did a nice job of filling-in the "negative space" at my neckline.

Today was a much better day as far as outfit attention goes. To recap, I heard a gravely "You look like a movie star." This from a gentlemen in my office who obviously has not received his sexual harassment training. A lady in my office commented on my "cute outfit." The nurse at my doctors' office said "I love that outfit...brown and coral are my favorite." See, she clearly noticed the brown. And lastly, "Mommy, look at that ladies' skirt!" This from a hemp-clothed child at the Whole Foods who clearly has no appreciation for unnatural fibers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On Neutral Ground

Since I have not seen the sun in about 10 days and it continues to rain here in Dallas, my desire to wear pants has increased. Something about the dreariness and the drizzle makes me want to cover up.

The shirt I'm wearing today is one that I found more than a year ago on clearance at Kohl's for about $12 -- and I have NEVER worn it. Every time I clean out my closets I consider sending it off to consignment, but I just hang on to it. I decided to try it out today. I love the puffy sleeves, subtle gatherings and delicate embroidery. I paired it with a well-worn pair of putty pants and nude heels. I tried on several different necklaces and forewent them altogether, opting instead for my cream colored hoop earrings.

Neutral on neutral is usually not my thing -- but given the weather outside and my mood inside, I decided understated was my best option for today. I really hope the sun comes out soon. I have a great sunshine yellow top to wear, but I can't bring myself to put it on when there is no sunshine in the forecast.

On another note, temptations abound! Today I got an email from a friend suggesting a new shoe website (I didn't even open the link). I got an email from another friend wanting to go shopping tonight (I reminded her of this experiment). When I checked my mail at home I found that my friends at DSW sent me a postcard offering 500 points (if you don't know what that means, believe me, its a big deal!). This is only day 2 and I'm tempted at every turn. I will remain strong!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Dressing on the Side" -- a stylish experiment in creativity and self-control

The idea for this blog came to me as most good ideas do, driving, shuffling the iPod for a song that suits my mood, lost in a myriad of random thoughts. As I drove past one of the city's premiere malls, it hit me: What if I did not shop for 3 months? The mere idea (while to some quite logical and realistic) to me seemed unfathomable. The longest I have gone without shopping has been 3 weeks, maybe, at most. To not shop for 3 months would be unbearable -- right?

I love to shop. I'm a self-confessed shopaholic who sees no need for self-help or a 12-step program. I believe in the power of retail therapy and riding out the highs and lows of buyer's remorse. My days are peppered with conversations that revolve around fashion and I fall asleep thinking of what I should wear the next day. I work full-time at a law firm and also own my own wardrobe consultation business, The Style Within ( Hence my blog name "Dressing on the side."

My business model for The Style Within is to provide a fresh perspective to help women utilize the existing items in their wardrobe and suggest ways to update it by adding specific pieces, new trends and accessories.

As a wardrobe consultant, I tell people how to make better use out of what is already in their closet. And I'm going to practice what I preach. I'm swearing off all fashion-related shopping for 90 days. This blog will chronicle the outfits I create and wear using what I already have in my closet.

Day 1: today I paired a bronze shirt with a lilac skirt. I added a black belt, black heels and black jewelry. I felt good about this. I recognize that not everyone realizes bronze is a neutral and I was a bit unsure about pairing it with such a light color and the stark color of black. No one complimented me today, but I won't read that much into it.