When Your Outfit Becomes a Costume

We’ve all made the mistake of putting together that outfit that echoes a theme only to overdo the entire thing by sticking too much to the theme. Consider a pair of sailor pants paired with a striped top and, god forbid, accompanied by a sailor hat. A little too Cracker Jack or Popeye for me, thank you. But what about other trends? Suppose you have a gorgeous pair of 40s-inspired shoes? If you pair it with a great 40s-inspired dress, is that too much? Or is it the deep red lipstick that puts it over the top?

I saw a girl at the mall yesterday wearing a fabulous white a-line grecian dress with either a gold breastplate necklace or gold jeweled embellishments at the neck (she was walking by pretty quickly). She had on jeweled gladiator flat sandals and she was wearing multicolored bangles with a serpent bracelet. She looked amazing and not overdone. Why? Maybe it was her makeup, which was very summery and not too complicated. Maybe it was the fact that she mixed a modern clutch in with it, or the headscarf that wasn’t grecian at all. Perhaps it was just the cell phone she had to her ear. Whatever the reason, she was put together without looking costume-y. It went something like this:

Mixing in a few more modern, less thematic items often takes the edge off a retro outfit. And let’s face it – retro is definitely tricky to pull off well if we stick too closely to the theme. The sailor pants are great if you wear them with a fitted jacket. Or wear the sailor outfit with say a pair of stacked heels.

What do you do to mix things up?


August 24, 2008. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Blending Summer into Fall

As you know, I’ve been thinking about fall lately. So the other day when I had a few minutes, I dug through my closet and dressers trying to assess what I needed to get me through fall. Result – not much. It seems I’ve been shopping quite a bit! I have a lot of tops and an adequate amount of bottoms, not to mention scads of shoes. So it was fun to go through what I have and find new ways to wear the summer stuff.


This outfit came from a few newer pieces combined with spring and summer staples.

  • The Charlotte Russe blouse – $18.99.
  • Nine West clutch – $40 on the Nine West site
  • White jacket – $19.99 at TJMaxx
  • Nine West shoes – $19.99 on the Nine West site
  • Old Navy skinny jeans – $19.99 last fall.
  • Silver hoop earrings – $8 at New York and Company

I added my watch because hey, sometimes a girl just needs something expensive (though it was on sale, too). The jade bracelet was something we picked up in Chinatown when we were in San Francisco about 10 years ago.

Excluding the watch and bracelet, this set me back $126.96. Considering how much use I’ve gotten out of most pieces – the jeans especially, but I’ve carried the clutch most of the summer – that’s that much less money going to an entirely new outfit.

What are some of your favorite ways to mix existing clothes into the new season?

August 20, 2008. bargains, clothes. 2 comments.

Help a Sister Out

It occurs to me with more than a little embarrassment that I have too many clothes and shoes. I know, I know – how can that be? But I have at least ten pairs of shoes that have yet to be worn (I blame the change of season on that – it’s too warm for some of these yet!). I have dresses with tags still on them that I fully intend to wear, and I have tops that have been worn once. Yet I still shop.

But I’ve just made a conscious decision to shop, but not for myself. There’s an organization called Dress For Success that helps women starting over look their best. I’ve donated my next-to-new suits (work at home now), a few pairs of new shoes I’ll never wear, and some pantyhose. They accept new or like-new work-appropriate attire for women of all sizes. Check with your local chapter to find out what they’re most in need of. It’s a great way to still feed your shopping addiction while doing some good.

August 19, 2008. Tags: . cool websites. 1 comment.

It’s Still Summer!

Does anyone else go through the same weird morphing I do each August? Somewhere in the middle of the month, I suddenly feel out-of-place in my shorts. I mean, I feel exposed. Strange, because this is the hottest time of the year. Yet  here I am, torn between wanting to wear shorts and tank tops and feeling I should be in jeans and jackets. I’m sitting here in shorts wondering if I shouldn’t be wearing pants. It’s 85 degrees, Lori. Get over it!

So I shop. 🙂 Seriously, that could be one of the reasons I get like this. August is when I start picking up just a few more things to go with my fall/winter stuff. My handbags from New York and Company came in and they’re stunning. So are the shoes from Steve Madden. But now I’m thinking another pair of Joe’s Jeans (I get them at TJMaxx for a steal) is in order. And maybe I’ll grab a cashmere sweater in the bargain bin now before it gets cold.

What transition do you make between seasons?

August 14, 2008. clothes. 2 comments.

Vegan Fashion IS Possible

As a vegetarian, I’ve always had a tough time finding shoes and handbags that are, well, vegetarian. Leather and other animal products are rampant in the industry. And frankly, the options for vegan-specific shoes and accessories are expensive. I’ve craved Stella McCartney’s lines for years, but alas, I’m not on a Stella McCartney budget, so I’m reduced to scouring Payless and other inexpensive sources.

In most cases, I have bought leather. I’ll admit to having a tough time with vegetarianism when it comes to fashion, but as more eco-friendly choices crop up, I’m finding more choices. There’s Payless, but there’s also Steve Madden. Those Tipie shoes I showed you? Vegan. Not a scrap of animal product in them, if the advertising is to be believed. That matters. However, so does the amount of chemicals it takes to produce dyes and synthetic materials. How do you find out what kinds of chemicals are being dumped into the water because you wanted to buy plastic shoes? Is that better or worse than buying animal products? Let’s not forget that some of these cheaper alternatives are made in countries that use child labor or don’t support fair trade. Where can we draw the line?

Thank goodness the industry is finally responding to the need for vegan options. Linda Loudermilk is a talented designer who has put the spotlight on eco-friendly dressing, and she’s taking Hollywood along for the ride. She’s dressed an impressive crowd – she is featured in Sundance Channel’s Big Ideas for a Green Planet, where she’s dressing the likes of Robert Downey, Jr., among others.

Also joining the ranks of vegan design is Natalie Portman, who has her vegan shoe line she designed for Te Casan. Nice styles, too. Just because they’re vegan doesn’t mean we suffer for it. 

PETA publishes a Shopping Guide for those interested in vegan shopping. Everything from clothes to cosmetics is listed. And yes, there are even vegan condoms, go figure.

Another option includes freelance designers like Jenae Michelle at RangeofEmotion, who repurpose materials to create one-of-a-kind handbags.

While these designers may be out of reach for some of us on a budget, they’re riding the fringes of a trend I predict will be the next big thing – animal-friendly, eco-friendly clothing and accessories.

So what do you think? Should we spend more and get less in order to support vegan and fair trade movements? How conscious have you been about your fashion choices?

August 12, 2008. vegan. 3 comments.

Handbags and Shoes: Can You Really Have Too Many?

For the most part I’ve slowed down in my shoe shopping, picking up only one pair of shoes this month – these Steve Madden Tipie flats. I’ve been craving a pair of zebra-print flats that are, well, understated (if that’s possible with an animal print). The little bit of patent on the toe breaks it up enough for me to love them. The price – just $19.99 on eBay – was the selling point.

However, I have renewed my search for handbags. I’m not interested in black or brown (unless they’re completely unique), so I was thrilled to find a sale at New York and Company where I picked up a red bowling bag:  and also this blue satchel: 

Both of them with shipping cost just under $60. Guess that leaves more cash for shoes!

I’ve been on the fence about the bowling bag style, but after seeing some fine examples in the stores, I couldn’t help myself. I’m a believer in keeping your bag size proportionate to your height and weight, so it was a little bit of a stretch for me to buy larger bags (I’m under 5 1/2 feet), but with heels, I’m good to go.

What are your most recent purchases?

August 11, 2008. bargains, handbags, shoes. 2 comments.

Cool Site of the Week

Kids, if you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for a great look at a great price. A site after my own heart is the Frugal-Fashionista, which shows us the cheap way to look like the celebrity photo accompanying each post. An excellent way to ramp up your forward-thinking style!

August 11, 2008. bargains, cool websites. Leave a comment.

Can You Really Have Only One Style?

Recently, my girlfriend and I were browsing her latest find, Nothing to Wear by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo. We both took the style quiz in the book, and we were both in disagreement about the results. According to the quiz, she was a Bohemian Chic and I was, as well. Yet our two styles in reality couldn’t be more different.

The book, by the way, looks fantastic from what I’ve read. The authors go through exercises in which the reader is to go through her closet with a discerning eye – not a closet emptying, but a “clarifying” experience. I’m all for that. But where things may be flawed is in how the reader is to look at herself with a critical eye and see the clothes as either working with or against her. To be frank, I don’t think many women are able to do that. We like the color or we like the way our legs/chest/arms look in it. We like the length. We like the style, etc. An editorial eye isn’t second nature to many women, and even women who are fashion gurus make mistakes.

Back to the quiz. I think the problem was the way the questions were formulated. I’m a huge shoe shopper. Not one choice in any of these questions related to shoes. I’m also a bargain shopper. Again, nowhere was that passion addressed. The quiz was a mere 8 questions long, which I don’t think would give anyone a true sense of style. My friend loves pink and green, yet she came out as a Boho? I love ecclectic, I love edgy, yet here I am a Boho? Huh?

The book is, in my opinion, well worth having. If you’re not sure what your style is, skip the quiz and just experiment. Try the button-down shirt with the pencil skirt one day, then go for the high heels and skinny jeans the next. Make mistakes. Enjoy learning your style through trying on different things (and different sizes – don’t think all clothes must fit the same person the same way). Look in the mirror with a more critical eye. If it’s not exactly perfect on you, no matter how cute it is on other parts of you or how much you love the color, skip it. It’s not a bargain if it doesn’t fit you well.

August 8, 2008. books. 2 comments.

Makeup on the Cheap

How did I not know about the e.l.f. website before this? It’s touted in most major magazines, which is why I assumed the cosmetics would be pricey. How wrong! The eyes lips face (hence the e.l.f.) site is loaded with $1 cosmetic bargains. Seriously, when was the last time you paid $1 for anything, let alone cosmetics? The most expensive thing I found on the website was in the bath and body section – a bath/body kit in Peony Petal for a mere $15.

August 6, 2008. bargains, cool websites. Leave a comment.

Fall Savings

If you’re like me, you want to make that fashion budget stretch. As a new season approaches, I’ve already started my search for some fall basics. I did manage to find some nice tops at Charlotte Russe for under $20 each. My favorite is this chiffon number, which I plan to pair with wide-leg jeans and red patent heels. I might even throw on a slate gray jacket, if I can find the one I want.

 What luck to come across the Heavenly Couture website! Here’s a bargain hunter’s paradise – nothing costs over $17.95.  A few standouts include this teal knot-front dress and this adorable jacket with Peter Pan collar. While their denim is excluded from the $17.95 or lower pricing, there are some nice shapes to choose from.

August 3, 2008. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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