new year's eve: night of a thousand cocktail dresses

It's (almost) New Year's Eve! That means, for many people, parties, champagne, and disappointment! Not to be a downer, but have you ever noticed that NYE never seems to live up to being the amazing night you planned on? (Obviously I'm not the only one, since How I Met Your Mother did a whole episode on the phenomenon.) Of course, that could also have to do with my plans...I've never gone out on NYE. I usually hang out at home with my family, play a board game, eat some snacks, and watch the ball drop in New York. There's not a lot to go wrong, but it's not actually that different from most weekend nights at my house. Still, ringing in the New Year is always sort of profound; it's another step in your life, and a kind of fresh start.

I sort of already did the schmoopy "my life" thing, but these are my goals for the new year:

  • Be a little bit fabulous every day (and very fabulous as many days as possible)
  • Read more for pleasure
  • Do something creative every day (blog/draw/write/craft/create)
  • Submit a story for publication

  • And, by this time next year, I hope to:

  • Have a job (even if it's retail)
  • Have an apartment
  • Have great new friends (both online and off) to share NYE with ♥

  • Okay, enough of that, how about some dresses?

    a very neon new year's eve

    Zowie! NYE is a night that people really go all out to have a good time. Unlike a lot of holidays, this is one you're just as likely to be spending with friends as family, which might give you some more freedom in your color choices. Go bright, go bold, go big, and pair your peacocky dress with a pair of matching or contrasting pumps--just make sure you can walk in them even after a full night of celebrating!

    a classy affair

    If you're attending a more staid event, there's nothing that can beat an elegant dress in black, gray, or nude. These dresses bring the glamor and a little bit of the glitz without bringing the noise. Jazz up an understated frock with some statement jewelry; when your dress is understated, you have a lot of freedom in the bling department.

    only on nye...

    NYE is a little bit kooky, so embrace it! Take the chance to pick up an accessory that you don't think you could pull off in "real life" -- and spend the night absolutely bringing it. I obviously have an eye for crazy hats, but it could be anything. That peacock thing in the set is a pair of false eyelashes. How cool is that?

    What kind of goals/resolutions are you setting for the new year? Are you going to be rocking it in neon or going more classic this NYE? I'm dressing up even though I'm not even leaving my house! Any excuse works for me!

    It's been awesome meeting all of you this year, and I hope I'll get to see more of you in the year to come! Have a safe and happy NYE -- see you in 2011!

    ready, aim, fire: shopping goals for smarter shopping

    I finally got the new winter coat I've been daydreaming about since the earliest days of my blog, way back in the summer.

    Seen here: WORKIN' IT

    Ain't she a beaut? My coat shopping experience was really quite excellent, due in equal parts (I'd like to think) to serendipity and to my planning. Now, shopping is fun (or is it a sport?), but it never hurts and usually is very helpful to have a least a few goals in mind when you go shopping. Having an idea of what you want to buy is great, but the more specifics you have, the easier it will be to avoid buyer's remorse and spending fruitless hours searching through things you don't really want.

    I'm going to use my coat as an example, but these goals/thinking points can apply to any other clothes, and the principles within might even help you shop smarter when you're looking for books or furniture!

    Material I knew I wanted a wool coat. Anything lighter wouldn't keep me warm during the winter, and I'm not really into the shiny/slick/poofy styles. The specifics of the material might not seem as important in your everyday shopping, but the weight and appearance of a piece of clothing can really affect its appropriateness in a physical and presentational way.

    Color I did not want anything black. Black is a bit of a safety color for me, as it is for many people, and I've been wearing a black peacoat for seven years. I'm done when black coats. It was tempting to look through the racks and racks of black, but I just remembered how much I envied and enjoyed the pink, green, and yellow winter coats I'd seen other students wearing on campus. (Sidenote: Paying attention to what other people are wearing can be very inspiring! Make sure you remember cute combos/ideas, and remember that an "I love that, where did you get it?" is very seldom unwelcome.)

    Fit Ah, fit. That devilbeast that has doomed so many of us to curse the heavens when the piece we desperately want is either out of stock in our size or was never in it to begin with. We are often tempted (at least I am) to go with something almost right. It's just barely too small, right? (Or just barely too large, and you know you won't get it tailored.) Unfortunately, no matter how cute it is, the likelihood of you feeling comfortable wearing it out are slim when it doesn't actually fit properly (and therefore look right), which leaves it to sulk and smolder in the closet, a hateful reminder. With this coat, fit was even more nonnegotiable than ever. I would have to wear this coat over any number of other pieces, so mostly fitting wasn't going to cut it.

    Style This one can be sort of a no-brainer, because yeah, duh, you want to buy something you like. But if you're moving in a direction where you're trying to create a wardrobe or a style, you might need to have other qualifications besides just liking it. As an example, though there are tons of great cuts of coats, I was fairly sure I was going to be getting a peacoat. It wasn't a hard and fast rule, but I've always found peacoats very classic and malleable style-wise, so I didn't have to worry about having a totally RAWKIN coat that wouldn't go with a more professional dress or an unltra conservative coat that I couldn't have any fun with. In this case, I ended up combining two of my favorite coats: the peacoat and the trench. Plus, I got tons of the stuff I like: studs, belt, buttons, zippers, fancy collar, hurrah!

    Price Depending on your situation, the negotiability of this one will vary. However, even if you had all the money in the world, it's worthwhile to consider how much you're willing to spend on any specific piece. (Although if you had all the money in the world, you would probably be willing to spend a bit more than the average student!) As much as you might like any piece, you need to consider how much you can spend as well as how much said piece is worth. Even if I had a thousand dollars to throw around, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't buy a fifty dollar tanktop because...what? I can't imagine it being worth that to me. This sometimes means making sacrifices. In my case, I got my coat in a super post-Christmas clearance that brought it down to a quarter of the original price. If it had been half or a third of the original price, I wouldn't have bought it, even though I would have loved it just as much. I actually almost put it back on the rack entirely when I glimpsed the price tag, before I saw that it was on a rack that offered additional discounts.

    My opinion probably differs from other fashion types, but to me, if the price isn't right for you, neither is the piece. Paying more than you can/want to for anything you don't have to buy will probably lead to buyer's remorse. There are definitely things in my closet that I resent somewhat because I know that I paid too much for them. I don't get nearly as much enjoyment out of them as I do from pieces that I hunted down/waited for/discovered serendipitously at just the right price range. Of course, the other side of the coin is non-buyer's remorse, another painful thing I've felt. It's a fine line, and you're the only one who knows it. And, if you've set up your goals regarding price beforehand, you can feel a little more comfortable either sticking to them or fudging them (just this once).

    ...obviously I get wordier as I go! I hope some of these tips will help you shop smarter, avoid buyer's remorse, and find exactly what you want! Obviously, whatever "rules" you make about what you're looking for are your rules. You can change them or break them whenever you like. But I find that having the rules/goals/guidelines in place helps me really consider if I want to break them. I buy less impulsively now, and I think that the quality of my wardrobe has improved for it.

    Coat is Miss Sixty brand from Boston Store, but it doesn't appear to be in stock anymore.

    craft book round-up: alternacrafts and rubbish

    I have been bitten by the DIY bug and am coming down with a terrible fever for crafting that I don't want to cure! There are thousands of amazing resources for DIY tutorials on the internet (and I'll share a few of my favorite links if there's interest!), but while I was home with pretty much unlimited free time and easy access to a great system of libraries, I figured I should take advantage of the craft books.

    One of my favorite things about the indie/DIY scene is that crafting isn't just for ladies doing needlepoint or knitting Kleenex box cover anymore. Not that it ever really was, but these days I find it much easier to find books about making things that are aimed towards people of my style and aesthetics. So I placed a ton of holds, got my sister to pick up some from her school library for me, and set to readin'.

    The first book I got was Alternacrafts: 20+ Hi-Style Lo-Budget Projects to Make.

    It had excellent reviews on Amazon and I'd seen it recommended on other blogs, so it seemed like a good place to start. And it...probably would be a good start. I'm not that much of a crafter, but this book felt very done to me. There were a couple projects that I liked (the chopstick place mat is coming to mind), but most of them were too obvious for my taste. It's probably due to being spoiled by DIY websites, but if you're also an online project hunter, this book is probably going to be a bit too repetitive to be useful. The bulk of the projects (bottle cap jewelry, make a collage, glue buttons to things) can be found in more exciting forms online. However, if you're a true beginner to anything indie-crafty, there are some good directions and some interesting projects. (Available here)

    The next book was Rubbish! Reuse your refuse.

    There were some nifty ideas in here that I hadn't seen before, as well as a few recycled (har har) ones. I wanted to try them out, but I was pretty surprised by the amount of specialty supplies a lot of the crafts called for. I don't have a lot of crafty things, so I do expect to buy special products to assemble them, but for a book that purports to be about reusing/recycling things you already have, a lot of the crafts required another purchase. I'd never heard of this book--my sister picked it up for me from the school library--so it's possible my lack expectations played a role. A lot of the crafts are fairly elementary (put magnets on bottlecaps) and simple, but I was definitely intrigued by a few (the one coming to mind is a cuff made of spam credit cards). (Available here)

    Overall, I wouldn't 100% recommend either book for purchase. If you can get them from a library, I definitely think they're both worth checking out, but there's so many awesome projects available for free, I'm not willing to pay for a few good crafts buried in with so-so ones.

    I have more craft books incoming and a few decor/DIY books already waiting for me, so I'll make sure to share once I've explored! I'm also always looking for more, so if you have a craft or decor book that you love, please let me know! And, my twitter feed is so sad and empty lately--I'd love to meet some new tweeps, so please follow me for updates and chitchat. I'd love to follow you back!

    merry merry

    Check out those awesome striped leggings! Nothing like candy cane legs to make the season bright. Gotta make sure Santa knows what exactly baby!bloggers want! I admire my little self's commitment to Christmas excellence.

    Merry Christmas, everybody ♥

    the right stuff: gold for the holidays

    So I said I wouldn't post again until after Christmas, but I lied again. I actually managed to get my shopping done at a reasonable pace this year, so I had the time and wanted to get this post out.

    For most of the year, I am all about the silver. It feels clean and elegant, goes well with pretty much any color. But once the weather starts turning cooler, I see a sweeter side of gold.

    Gold is awesome for cooler weather because it goes so well with the rich jewel tones that are also awesome in cooler weather. I'm not really a person to go sparkly all over, so gold dresses aren't my thing, but I love a little touch of shine.

    gold for the holidays

    Polyvore had some great gold accessories for me to snoop, but to be honest, my favorite use of gold in the winter is in my make-up. I am in love with golden eyeshadow, and I don't care who knows it. It really brightens up a look instead of seeming too on the nose or matchy matchy with either red/green or whatever color you're wearing (usually purple for me, this year. I've been buying a lot of purple.) I like to put a slightly shimmery neutral in the crease of my eye, then apply gold to the lid and blend into the neutral.

    For my everyday/grandparent-appropriate holiday looks, I've been using Nylon and Half-Baked from Urban Decay's Book of Shadows Vol. II (which is out of production now, but I believe both shades are available in other palettes).

    They work really well together, though if I were going out and tearing up the town, I would definitely go with a more intense gold. I usually leave off the eyeliner with the gold; it lets the color stand bright on it's own, and it keeps the look a bit softer. I've been doing nude lips for the most part, but I'm excited to rock a red lip with the gold eye this Christmas. It'll be like Gryffindor all over my face!

    Hope everybody celebrating something has a safe and happy one, and everybody not enjoys some time off!

    living beautiful

    In my note, I mentioned thinking about life/Fickle Kitsch, and this is the product of that. I will say now that it's a bit (very) self-indulgent and doesn't have any pictures, so if that's what you're most interested in, check back after Christmas and I should have something for you! But I'd love to hear some thoughts from those of you who might have the same feelings.

    I've always loved reading fashion/lifestyle blogs; the outfits and decorations are great, of course, but the real attraction has always been one of a slightly voyeuristic nature. I love seeing other people's lives, what they do all day, where they go, the things they see. It's a desire that both feeds from and deepens my sense of envy; I've always wanted to live a "beautiful" life.

    Trouble is, I've also always been a waiter. Not the kind with a menu pad (though I will admit that another secret desire I've harbored is to be a rollerskating drive-in waitress), but the kind who's willing to sit and wait for things to get "better." When I was in high school, I was waiting for college. College would be better. And hey, it was better! But by now, I'm waiting for college to end. Because after college comes apartments, jobs, new clothes. I'm convinced that will be better, and, hey, it probably will be. It's totally legitimate to be excited about things coming. But what my problem has always been is letting the things coming (maybe) eclipse what I could do now.

    You (and by you, I mean me) can't just wait for something fabulous to fall into your lap. Maybe it will one day, and maybe not. You have to chase after the things that you want in your life and find the things you already have that are pretty damn fabulous. I've always had a fantasy of a beautiful life, great clothes and places that would need time and money that I don't have right now. I was reading one of my favorite retro style/life blogs, The Freelancer's Fashionblog, and in response to a question about whether she looks "vintage" all the time, she said that although her inspiration comes from older days, she doesn't aim to look "anything except than just good." That really stuck with me and made me smile when I read it. I don't have to have a great camera or the perfect dresses or figure out how to transform my life into a "beautiful" one. I don't have to aim for anything besides looking and feeling good.

    If you (actually you this time) read all that (and good on ya!), you're probably wondering why I said this related to Fickle Kitsch. Well, I feel that, because of a perceived lack of awesomeness in my real life, I've kept the blog at arm's length. I've shared my opinions, but not much of my self. Everything somehow got slotted into "themes" or "series" without much space for organic writing/discovering/thinking. Don't worry, this isn't going to become a "what I ate for lunch" today type of blog. But I would like to share more of myself, be that through pictures of outfits I've seen and enjoyed in real life (I'll try to borrow Sparrow's camera if I do that), or just a bit more embracing of what I personally can contribute to you. Who knows, maybe somebody out there would be gleefully envious of my beautiful life.

    Okay, I lied, if you made it this far, you deserve a picture:

    Via Caps-and-Pics

    I want to be that girl. Gorgeous dress, fierce shoes, staring down at the whole wide world.

    note: trees and thoughts

    I wrote up a post about my new purse (as I mentioned on twitter), and when I went to post it, Blogger glitched on me. Looking back on it, it turns out website failure did me a solid because that post was boring as all get out. Really, really boring.

    Instead, I've been thinking about things I want out of life (always a good/scary thing to do). And, y'know, doing the Christmas thing.

    Webcam quality -- yikes!

    So I have trimmed the tree, and thought the thoughts. More on one of those this week (you'll never guess which!), and possibly some bloggy change-ups.

    and just because I love my kitschens and my new purse is pretty sassy, here it is:

    PS you should try this nifty Etsy taste test thing. It's pretty much the most magical thing I've seen in my whole life.

    fashionably artistic: sparrow

    My semester is officially over! I survived my finals, I survived the snow, and I survived about 48 full (nonconsecutive though just barely) hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I might have to post about it, just because it's so at the forefront of my mind--there are a lot of hilariously 90s outfits on that show.

    But today, I'm relaxing at home and introducing a fun new blog feature. fashionably artistic celebrates the combination of two different kinds of pretty things: clothes and art. (Art, of course, is not necessarily pretty, but my favorite kind usually is!) There are gorgeous outfits throughout art, but art is also an awesome way to fantasize. You can create an outfit you're wishing for, unrestrained by what you've seen or what's actually possible. I enjoy doodling cute things, exploring the sort of styles and shapes that I might like to try out.

    Though I plan to show the works of professional artists (and maybe even famous ones) in the future, today I have a lovely piece done by my very own friend, roomie, fellow Buffy watcher, and tights-provider, Sparrow.

    Click to enlarge

    She asked me to design an outfit for her to draw from, but in drawing it, she really made it her own. It makes me want a skirt like that more than looking at one in a picture ever did. That's my other favorite part of art fashion (fashion art?): the inspiration. I see this foxy illustrated lady, and I want to be as sassy (and holiday appropriate!) as she is!

    Thank you to Sparrow for kicking us off--if you enjoy her art, she and I will be launching a web comic in the spring. It's called Faire Play, and will be about the adventures of a renaissance faire troupe.

    If you'd like to draw some pretty clothes for me, please e-mail (or tweet) me and we'll figure something out. I'd love to have you!

    my five: random passions

    I've been asked to describe my personal style more often this week than in the past...forever, I think. I still don't have a very good answer, but it got me thinking about things I love in clothes. I haven't done a my five list in a while, and thus the post was born! Here are five random things that I love to have in my clothes.

    One: puffy sleeves

    Not like, Snow White level of poor, but I adore the feminine/romantic touch of a little puff at the sleeve. My favorite coat does this, as do two of my favorite tops. It makes me feel just a tiny bit like a Victorian heroine, which is pretty much my constant goal.

    Two: STAFF shirts

    T-shirts don't generally come into the conversation in fashion blogs, but here's a true confession: t-shirts still make up most of my wardrobe. (Gasp! Horror!) Now, I love a sassy Threadless tee as much as the next sassy college student (although trying to find one that you won't see coming and going on campus is a hassle, let me tell you) but my real passion is for STAFF shirts. You know what I at a summer camp, a school program, pretty much anything that requires immediate recognition of people who know what they're doing, and a great gift will be bestowed upon you: a t-shirt that says "STAFF" on the back. Never in my life have I felt more official then while wearing a STAFF shirt. In fact, I'm wearing one right now and feel like I could probably take down the school's administration without anyone saying "boo." That's right, University of Cyber Challenge Staff memeber coming atcha!

    Three: Buttons

    I really love buttons. I love buttons going down the fronts of shirts, I love buttons on sleeves, I love buttons on boots, I love buttons on pants (but preferably not on backpockets because ow). Just sew a button on it and I'll be good to go. It doesn't necessarily have to open, though that would be nice. Mysteriously, I have a shirt that has buttons that open but...don't actually do anything. That seems like an odd intersection of buttondom but it's cool. I love them all the same.

    Four: Outdated patterns

    So the patterns that your grandma used to rock are actually starting to come back now, glory be. But I gotta say, I was kickin' it with houndstooth, plaid, windowpane, and argyle before they were cool kids again. There's just something that's undeniably fun about a pattern, but I've never had much fondness for florals or random swirls. The geometric fierceness of the previously mentioned patterns sets something in my loosey-goosey English major heart aflutter. Also: polka dots, but those never go out of style.

    Five: Interesting backs

    The front of a piece of clothing is usually going to be pretty nifty. That's the part that people spend the most amount of time looking at, the part you see in a mirror or peering balefully at you from a rack calling buy me!. Which just makes having interesting back details all the more fun. Because people do see the back of your outfit, and while a simple expected back is nothing to scoff at, it always makes me feel especially stylish to have a little something extra. I have a shirt I love which has a gorgeous scoop back; whenever I wear it, I feel like it's a secret. I'm all, "Oh, this? Just your average dusty rose shirt but...oh snap! Actually it's totally sassy!" I also love gathers in the backs of vests/coats, especially ones that make a lovely little origami-esque fan.

    What about you, kitschens? What do you love to see in clothes?

    Semi-related, but I've been considering getting a third-party commenting system running so that we can actually reply to each other. What do you think? Suggestions, fellow bloggers?

    fictional fashion icons: hogwarts houses

    I haven't done the fictional fashion icon feature in forever (actually, I only did it once!) because looking up screencaps and going "ooooh" just wasn't that much fun. So I decided to twist it up a little.

    As you all surely know, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was recently released. Dear readers, I was there are midnight, Slytherin scarf wrapped around my neck, baring my Sharpie'd Dark Mark for all to see. I considered doing a costumes post for the movie, but the school uniform is pretty basic, so I wanted to get a bit more creative with it...


    For the stylish Gryffindor out on the town. You know that she doesn't think twice before pulling on a red dress and some killer shoes--it's all about bravery! Little bit of bling, but nothing too loud...a Gryffindor knows how to be the center of attention without having to flash the rhinestones too heavily (though there are some, lions just want to have fun!)


    For the Ravenclaw in your life, an outfit to wear when you're headed down to spend the day working on a paper in the local coffee shop. Mostly comfortable, but with some classically lovely accessories--you may be understated, but there's no doubt that a Ravenclaw is well put together.


    For a Hufflepuff, a lot of fun and a little bit of quirk. Since Hufflepuffs are particularly good finders, I think they'd be able to find some cute thrifty finds...and they're so loyal, they'd probably even share! (If you don't get this reference, you should be watching A Very Potter Musical Right Now. Actually, you can wait until you finish the post, but after that, go!)


    For the Slytherin side, a fierce professional who knows how to get what she wants. There's no reason to compromise when you look this good (and can I just say that I want this coat?), with some serpent touches to make sure you never forget the house you come from.

    Which stylish house do you want to be sorted into?


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