Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 5 Style Inspirations: Joan Holloway, Mad Men (Christina Hendricks)


The following is a five-part series on my biggest style inspirations, real and fictional. I've never been one for spot-on trying to copy another person/character/celebrity's outfit, I tend to aim more for the realm of "close enough" because I believe that style should first and foremost be self expression. Of course, it's never a bad idea to draw inspiration from those you admire. Thus, in this series my aim so to create sample outfits that are influenced by my inspirations, but not exact copies of what they're wearing. 

I'll admit I've only recently finished the first season of Mad Men, but the main thing that drew me in to the series was the style. Va-va-voom is literally the best way to describe Christina Hendricks and her character on the show, Joan Holloway. I love 50's and 60's retro style, and as a shapelier girl myself it's great to see women with curves for days on television.

The way Joan dresses suggests she knows she's got it, and flaunts it accordingly. Belts, wiggle dresses and pencil skirts all help to show off Joan's amazing hourglass figure. She's also not afraid to experiment with color, which is fantastic inspiration for women who feel like they need to hide their shape in black and grey. Of course, you don't have to have a body like Christina to work gorgeous retro inspired ensembles.

Joan dresses in fitted dresses or skit and blouse combinations, usually made of heavier looking material in rich colors like berry, cobalt, emerald and coral. Her jewelry is generally timeless and tastefully chosen so as not to overwhelm her own beauty. Here are some Joan-esque outfits for inspiration.

(Dress, Shoes, Brooch, Necklace, Earrings)

The color, shape and side bow of this dress is very reminiscent of Joan's style. I decided to go with a simple gold chain instead of the dangly piece that Joan is wearing in the picture due to the cowl neck of the dress. I think a simple pair of black pumps with a tiny bit of detail pulls the entire look together.

In this look, Joan wears a pussy bow blouse with a camel colored, textured pencil skirt. The dangly necklace makes a reappearance (I think it's actually a pen) which I think is an interesting choice considering there is already quite a bit of detail in the neck area, but I left it in with inspiration outfit this time. I'm not sure about the exact shoes that Joan wore in this episode, but I took some artistic liberty and thought that a light red suede would look nice.

Who is your style inspiration? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, December 26, 2011

5 Goals for 2012

With Christmas out of the way, New Year's is on the horizon. I've never been one to seriously make any New Year's resolutions, but this year I think having a list of goals for me to complete would be good for me, especially with my tendency to lose sight of the things I want and get caught up in the "now". As I was contemplating all the things I would like to accomplish, I realized there are a lot of them, I actually had to edit out half of them to make it a more focused and succinct list. but I don't think any of them are particularly difficult as long as I remind myself of what I want. Perhaps I'll print them out and post them on my desk so I can look at them every day.

1. Exercise at least twice a week.
I've lost about 25 pounds in the last year of my life, and it makes me feel fantastic. However, I'm still not within the healthy BMI range (yes, I know that BMI isn't entirely accurate, etc. etc.) and I would like to lose another 25. Vanity reasons aside, diabetes runs in my family and I want to make sure that I keep my body in the best shape possible, and sometimes it's easy for me to feel too lazy between school and work. I have free gym access through University, I may as well take advantage of it.

2. Continue improving my GPA. 
I've never been the most studious person in the entire world. I wasn't the most impressive student in High School, not because I wasn't interested but just because I hated the idea of homework. I would go to class, I would listen and participate, but it seemed ridiculous to me to expect me to be there for eight hours a day, participate in extra curricular activities and go home and do assignments. Even more so when you take into account how often High School reteaches the same things. Even though I've developed a lot more personal study skills in my year and a half of college, my GPA is still not where I would like it to be. I have been improving it every semester though, and I'd like to continue that pattern.

3. Be more open to social situations. 
I had never considered myself an introvert. I'm a generally outgoing person, and I don't easily get intimidated by social situations. That was until I heard a description of introvert vs. extrovert that I had never thought of before. Extroverts were described as people who gain energy and thrive off of social situations, where as introverts were people who may very well enjoy social situations, but expend energy in them and need time alone to recharge. The latter describes me perfectly, and I find myself often being apathetic towards the idea of meeting new people and having new experiences. That's something I would like to start changing in 2012.

4. Dress up even when I feel lazy. 
Sometimes, when I only have one class on a particular day and the rest of my plans consist of sitting in my room playing Skyrim, it's difficult to justify getting up any earlier than I have to so I can do my makeup and put on anything other than a T-shirt and jeans. Thankfully my class schedule is less erratic this semester, and I took special care to ensure that none of my classes started before 9:30 so I should have ample time to make myself presentable and accomplish this goal.

5. Post at least twice a week.
It's easy to get discouraged when blogging. I had a Lolita blog that I abandoned shortly after starting, but I think that's largely because my focus was too narrow and as I already discussed in this post, Lolita just wasn't for me. Blogging can be a labor of love, and I plan to keep that in mind in 2012.

What would you like to do differently or accomplish in 2012? Tell me in the comments! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I hope whatever Holiday you and your family celebrate was fantastic! My family isn't religious, but we still celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Eve we have an extended family party. I taught my family how to play Werewolf. For those of you unfamiliar, Werewolf is a fairly simple role playing game where you draw a card that assigns you the role of either a Werewolf or a Villager, and the goal is to kill off the opposite team without knowing the other players' roles (It's very Christmas-y, no?) It was my first time moderating the game, and it was actually kind of fun being "in the know."

Christmas Day I have dinner with my immediate family and my grandmother. My sister woke me up early to open presents. It's a little funny to think back to when I was a kid and how I couldn't sleep because Santa was coming, and sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night and stare at the presents under the three waiting until morning so I could open them. Now someone has to wake me up and I roll out of bed only begrudgingly.

Here's what I got!

I love, love, love this Betsey Johnson watch. I remember being at Boston Store with my mom a few weeks ago and pointing these out to  her. She picked a good color, I probably would have gone with hot pink only to realize it doesn't match anything I have. I like the gold face with rhinestones and the iridescent cream colored band though, I'm sure it will go with almost everything.

On the same trip to Boston Store I was helping my mother pick out a new perfume, and I told her I liked Armani Code. She went with a different Armani Perfume: Acqua di Gioia, but I guess she picked this up for me too. I love it when I get presents that show that the person was listening closely to the things that I said I liked earlier in the year.

My sister bought me this gorgeous tea pot. I got a teacup and saucer from her last year, she certainly knows how much I love tea.

Tell me in the comments what you got for Christmas! 

Christmas Eve party!

Necklace: Unknown
Skirt, Cardigan: White House Black Market
 Stockings: Berkshire
 Belt, Shoes: Target

This is what I wore to my family Christmas Eve party this year. This was my first time wearing my garterbelt and stockings for an extended period of time, and I"m happy to report that it was actually a lot more comfortable than I anticipated. I love, love, love stockings and I'm going to try to wear them with skirts and dresses a lot more often. I can definitely see some of my Lolita background in this outfit with how I balanced the red. Next time I think I'll try to find a hair accessory of some sort.

PS. Aren't those coral blinds and green curtains horrendous? I'm trying to convince my mother to get rid of them.

Did you put together a special outfit for the Holidays? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Musings on Being a Girly-Girl, Lolita

For about three years of my life, I obsessed over Lolita fashion. It was cute, pink, frilly, and over the top—all things that I absolutely adore. However, even though I would often spend every last cent I earned on buying myself a new piece to add to my wardrobe, I rarely ever wore it out. I suppose part of that was a confidence issue: whenever I did decide to wear it out, I ended up being exhausted by the stares and snickers and having to explain what I was wearing to the more polite onlookers who cared to ask. It is exhausting to stand out like a sore thumb. You can't really blame people; they're curious or they're not used to seeing someone dressed in an out-of-the-ordinary way. Some people react to this with disgust and others react with interest. However, outside of Lolita I haven't had much of a confidence issue, so what was the problem? Well, I realized after a while that Lolita just didn't feel like "me." Sure, I loved looking at it, but when I actually had the clothes on, I felt out of my element—like I was pretending to be someone that I wasn't. It felt like I was playing make believe as a cute, sweet girl that lived in a fairy tale world; when in reality, I'm a sassy, sarcastic, and cynical woman living in the very un-whimsical state of Wisconsin.

Perhaps I was revisiting my childhood in an attempt to come to terms with being a girl. As a child, I generally considered myself to be a tomboy, and I distinctly remember complaining to my mother about how boring the "girly girls" were because they would braid each other's hair and talk about Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson during recess—things that I had absolutely no interest in. I liked video games, Pok√©mon, and superhero cartoons. I felt more comfortable around boys than girls in elementary school, and that's still true for me today in college. Despite having nurtured my feminine side since then and amassing a collection of beautiful clothes and expensive makeup, I honestly still do not have much common ground with a lot of the girls at my University. My love for fashion is one of the few things that I find I'm able to talk about when I'm interacting with other girls. But even then I find that my mannerisms don't quite match up with those of whomever I'm speaking to. Despite many girls having an interest in fashion, many of them don't particularly care for glamour over comfort or don't talk about it with quite as much fervor as I do. I don't think my awkwardness makes me a special snowflake; in fact, sometimes I even feel a little lonely and ashamed for not feeling comfortable around my own gender. I've been on an all-girl floor for both of my two years of college and haven't made a single friend just based on living arrangements. I look around and see other girls running down the hallway to hang out with their friend five doors down or chatting in the bathroom, and I wonder what's wrong with me that I can't make friends as easily. I think it would be great to not feel so out of place all the time, but I suppose I'm just meant to be a bit of an oddball.

Regardless of my reasons, my love affair with Lolita was not without it's lessons and benefits to me both in regard to fashion and life in general. For much of my adolescent years, I dressed almost exclusively in black. I didn't feel comfortable in color, and I thought it would make me look fat. My attraction to sweet Lolita gave me the confidence to wear my favorite color which I was deathly afraid of actually including in my wardrobe: pink. Lolita made buying mid-range mall store clothes seem affordable("$150 for a dress? That's half the cost of an Angelic Pretty one piece!") Lolita taught me how to coordinate a balanced outfit.  Lolita allowed me to meet some incredible people. Lolita taught me how to sell things I didn't want anymore online. Lolita taught me to wear what I love with confidence and to be polite to those who were rude to me. Despite all the important lessons that Lolita taught me, the clothes themselves are just not for me. They don't flatter my body type, and they don't make me feel like who I am on the inside is showing through to the outside.

I still have great admiration for other Lolitas, and I love to look at daily_lolita and see all the beautiful coordinates. I still incorporate some of my Lolita brand accessories into my regular clothes and sometimes look longingly at the newest Angelic Pretty print. But I'm moving on now, and I truly do feel fantastic about it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plato's Closet Shopping Tips

If you're lucky enough to have a Plato's Closet nearby you know just how awesome it can feel to find something that would normally go for $20+ at popular mall stores like Forever21 and Wet Seal for a hugely discounted price, usually in the neighborhood of $6-8 depending on the item. If you don't have a Plato's Closet near you, you may not even know what it is. Plato's Closet is a thrift store that specializes in up to date fashion styles seen in mall stores within the last two years. If you're looking for stylish items, Plato's is a much better choice than a store like Good Will where you will probably sift through racks of sweaters with cat appliques before you find anything worthwhile. Of course these used articles of clothing have to come from somewhere, and Plato's will purchase your gently used clothes from you but they are a bit on the picky side as far as what they will take and don't offer much money. For the time being I will state that Plato's is a much better place to buy from than to sell. Several of the staples of my wardrobe have been purchased there and over the course of my frequent visits I've picked up a few strategies that can help you get the most out of your Plato's Closet experience.

1. If possible, stop at Plato's Closet before going shopping at the mall. 
I'm fortunate enough to have my local Plato's Closet only a block away from my nearest mall and I've found that stopping at Plato's prior to going shopping can save some big bucks, especially if you know what you're looking for beforehand. If all the mall stores are carrying the latest trend that you're dying to get your hands on it's worth a shot to see if Plato's has what you're looking for first, but of course this will always be luck of the draw and the more recent the trend the less likely they are to have a wide selection of it.

2. Buy basics! 
If you're looking for staples like leggings, belts and tank tops this should be your first stop. On any given day they will likely have a good selection of basics in a wide range of sizes so finding discounted pieces to build your wardrobe will be a piece of cake.

3. DON'T buy shoes!
I admit I do have two pairs of cute flats that I bought at Plato's that I wear regularly. This applies more to anything with a heel. For starters, even new shoes that are sold at non-department mall stores are usually of pretty poor quality and most likely will not be very comfortable. Now add the fact that someone else's feet have been all up in there and you end up with something you probably don't want to own. If you absolutely must buy shoes, be extremely discerning about the construction and hose those babies down with some anti-bacterial when you bring them home.

4. Check out the accessories.
Accessories at Plato's are a steal. Regardless of whether I purchase any clothes I always walk out with at least a few accessories, at around $2 a piece you can't go wrong and they usually have a huge selection organized by color and style. Just remember to sanitize earrings before wearing them.

5. Don't buy it just because it's cheap.
Shop as though you were paying full price. Even if $10 sounds cheap, it's ten dollars wasted if you never wear it. Plato's has fitting rooms, so be sure to use them! I found two skirts that I loved while shopping today, but after trying them on I discovered that they were both too big and didn't sit on my waist properly. Don't assume it will ft just because it's the right size. Brand sizing can vary greatly and in a store that carries many different brands it can be difficult to guess what will fit.

Many of these tips can apply to any fashion thrift store, it doesn't have to be Plato's. Keep these in mind when you're out bargain hunting and you'll hopefully leave with something that you love.

What are some of your favorite places in your area to buy second hand clothes? What are your thrifting tips and tricks? Tell me in the comments!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Glamour and Public Perception


Okay, so this advice is probably going to seem as counterintutive as it gets, but when it comes to wanting to be perceived as glamorous do not worry about the opinions of the people you know personally. No one that you're close to is ever going to view you as glamorous because the notion of glamour itself has an implied air of mystery and a lifestyle that is unobtainable to onlookers, and chances are if someone is your friend or family member, your lifestyle neither unobtainable nor mysterious to them. Especially  not if they regularly see you in your sweat pants eating a bowl of popcorn on the couch. (Not that any truly glamorous people would ever do that, right?) They can think you're beautiful, or stylish, or fabulous, but they will never think that you're glamorous. So, if being a gorgeous bombshell with a killer sense of style is the public image that you want to portray, your target audience is the people you interact with on a daily basis but who do not know you personally because that is the group of people who is most likely to notice, admire, and talk about you.

I've always loved to get dressed up. It makes me feel beautiful and confident, and when I have those two charges running through my system I can do just about anything. However, for a long time, especially in High School, I had a mindset that prevented me from putting too much effort into my appearance. "I don't care what any of these people think of me." I would tell myself and my family, "... so why bother trying to look nice for them?" But you're not trying to look nice for them, you're trying to look nice because it's something that you enjoy, and garner admiration for the amount of effort that you're willing to put in to your personal appearance, likely much more effort than a good portion of the people that you see daily. Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work, and there is nothing wrong in taking pride in being known as someone who is fabulous.

As a general rule though, I advocate outward appearance as a supplement to internal awesomeness. From my experience, being beautiful or unique looking is only a way of catching others' interest. You have to have more to give than just a pretty face and gorgeous dress for anyone to remain interested. Unless you're a celebrity. But you're probably not.

"Winterizing" a Summer Dress

My favorite dress is billowy, light and has a delicate red and pink rose pattern on it, very romantic and reminiscent of warm weather and gentle breezes. I've lamented not being able to wear it for the last few months since the weather began to turn bitter. However, today I set out to find a way to make it more winter appropriate, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of me not acquiring frostbite. With a long winter coat on top, I actually managed to make this wearable outdoors for as long as it takes to walk to class, or from the car to a store. I probably wouldn't suggest it for extended outside Winter fun time, but if you want to be able to wear your summer dresses to class or out shopping this should be a good method to go about making it suitably warm.

Dress: Macy's
 Cardigan, Belt: Wet Seal
 Tights, Boots: Target

Find a Top and Bottom Layer
I wanted to put an extra layer between the thin fabric and my skin, so I found a good layering cami in my closet that matched one of the colors of the print to wear underneath. It's spandex, so it doesn't add much bulk, but the lace peeking out of the collar looks lovely. Next, I tried to match the colors to an outer layer cardigan. I chose a long cardigan in a burgundy color because it went well with the pink and red scheme of the roses, but made the color scheme seem a bit "warmer" to me.

Wear Thick Tights
Knit tights are actually pretty warm, and they're an absolute necessity if you're going to be wearing a dress in the Winter. I chose a cream colored pair to wear with this dress, since the print of the dress contains some white and it also matched a belt I wanted to use, which comes to the next tip...

Wear a Belt
I don't think this is a necessity like tights, but I always feel a little bit warmer when I have a thick piece of elastic hugging my waist. I also just love to wear belts in general to emphasize my waist and to tie an outfit together.

Wear Boots
I suppose this depends on how cold your region is, but boots will help keep your legs warm and keep your feet safe from snow and slush.

Add Accessories
This is a good rule regardless of what you're wearing or what season it is, accessories are the little details that take an outfit from good to great. I went with a knit hat in a cream color to tie in with the belt and tights, a pearl bracelet, a gold and coral colored cameo necklace and pink and gold earrings. Look through your accessories and try to find colors that are present somewhere else in the outfit. Hold them next to your clothes until you find something that works.

How do you make warm-weather clothes appropriate for Winter? 

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