ootd: work & birthday

Today I went to work! Actually, I went to work twice. You see, I work at my college's theater. So during the day, I slave away in the box office, providing the culture-starved hordes with tickets to the shows. And then I work as an usher on show nights. It's actually a really great job that's a lot of fun, helps me hone my customer services skills, and means I get to see the shows for free! Win-Win-Win situation! The fourth win here is that we're required to dress nicely for our ushering duties, and any excuse to look cute is fine in my book. I'll admit that during the winter, I slacked, usually going with black pants and a blouse because I did not want to walk across a frozen campus at night in a skirt.

But now the sun has come out, the weather is (a bit) warmer, and I'm ready to get stylin'. Tonight I test-drove one of my bag sale scores! It was even better than expected. I wore it to work, and then to a little birthday get-together in honor of my beloved Kaitlin, who turned 22 today! (Happy Birthday, bbud! ♥)

click for fullsize!

Top: Kohl's
Skirt: thrifted, vintage (no tags)
Shoes: Kohl's

My lovely roommate/photographer suggested I hold the books mostly as a joke, but they look pretty natural there, don't they? (That's The Hunger Games and Hero for the curious. Both worth checking out!) I always used to call this sweatervest top my "professor shirt," and paired with the skirt, I was definitely feeling young professor or sassy TA.

I love the skirt. It's kind of a trial to get on and off (there are...no closures whatsoever. None.), but it's worth it. I'm really feeling the accordion folds lately...I actually just ordered a dress for graduation that has very similar pleating--hopefully it'll be a success, and I'll give you guys a little preview (probably on twitter!)

rain rain, go away

I thought it was supposed to be spring! But if April showers bring May flowers, this year is going to be a bumper crop! It's rained almost every day for weeks, with only one or two nice days to let us know that it actually is spring. It makes it hard to believe there's only two weeks left of school for me (forever!) -- are we sure it's not still March?

To be honest, I sort of like walking in the rain, though only if it's a nice subdued sort of drizzle, not the crazed windy downpours we've been getting. And having a nice umbrella is key--mine is a nasty old beast bearing my school logo that was (ahem) "borrowed" from a friend years ago that has been blown inside out a number of times. It has more failing spokes than working ones at this point. My sister showed off her new Van Gogh "Water Lilies" umbrella that she picked up at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I definitely got some umbrella lust.

rain or shine

rain or shine by ficklekitsch

There's nothing I love more than seeing a sea of brightly colored umbrellas out in the rain, so I tried to choose only colorful ones for this set--except the one with space on the underside because how cool is that!

Really, my rain gear is kind of pathetic. A crummy umbrella, no rain boots, and no rainproof jacket. If I'm going to be walking around on rainy days, I ought to get better prepared! It just never seems like as much of a deal as cold weather to prepare for.

What about you? Protected head-to-toe or just let it fall? What does your umbrella look like?

spring cleaning for fashionistas

It's that time of year! Temperatures are rising along with hearts and hemlines. Spring is the time dedicated to fresh starts, to cleaning out the old and welcoming the new in--and it shouldn't be any different in the realm of style!

Rainbow shoes! Love it

Obviously, it's a great time to dump the clothes you didn't seem to wear all winter and anything meant for warm weather that doesn't fit. Of course, everyone has their own rules about when something needs to leave the closet. Some are strict "use or lose it" types, while others hold onto every pair of bell bottoms because "they could come back!" My general rule is anything that doesn't fit (and you therefore won't be wearing for a long while) goes, unless it's particularly special for some reason. I'm still holding onto a shirt with a hand-illustrated squid on it that doesn't quite fit me, but I could never toss it. A pair of random denim shorts? Get outta here!

As I've recently discovered with my mystery dress adventure, clothes can surprise you. I can't advocate for immediate purging of anything you're wishy-washy on--it may surprise you! But if you've been hanging onto a piece for over a year with no real change in your affection, it might be time to let it go. Another tip I read on another fashion blog (I forget which it was, but I find dozens touting the same advice when I google it, so I'll assume it's common property by now!) is to place all of your clothes in the closet with the hangers backwards. Whenever you wear an item, when you put it back in the closet, hang it back up with the hanger going to correct way. That way, after however long of a sample time you need (3 months? 6? a year?), you can clearly see what pieces you don't wear and could probably safely dispose of. By dispose, I of course mean donate, presuming your clothes are still in good wearable conditions. (You can also send clothes that need more love than you can give to a new home, a good home with someone who would love them, a little place on a farm, with plenty of room for them to run around and ducks for them to play with...by which I mean, there are few people who would not appreciate a box of gently worn clothes. Thanks, Misha!)

While you're doing all this clothes organizing, you might as well tackle the closet as well, right? Now, my dream is, of course, to have a fabulous budoir just filled with my clothes, all ready for dressing and glamorizing.

Dita Von Teese's closet, via her twitter

Obviously, Dita Von Teese is living the clothing dream, but even those of us without unlimited funds and space can fix up the closet a bit. It's where we keep our pretty things--they deserve to be displayed fabulously too, right? There are dozens of great organizers to make sure everything has it's place. I have to admit that I'm partial to Bed, Bath & Beyond's in-room closet systems. They're designed for dorms, sure, but I love the idea of having a rack of my clothes. It would be like shopping every day, without spending money!

Also consider how your clothes are arranged in the closet itself. Can you find everything? Is something you need daily tucked into a corner while your old prom dress is hanging front and center? I organize my closet from dresses to outwear, from most to least formal within the category. So I have my cocktail dresses to my day dresses, to skirts, to slacks, to blouses, to tops, to sweaters, to blazers, to jackets. This way, the things I'll wear most often (skirts--sweaters) are most easily within reach. Never underestimate the power of little things, too. The revolving shoe rack that my sister gave me for Christmas was an instant game changer. No more squatting and digging around at the bottom of the closet, pushing clothes out of the side. My shoes are all attractively displayed for my perusal and easy retrieval!

What's your tried-and-true organizing tip? Or is all this "spring cleaning" business giving you hay fever?

(related, I brought up a very controversial subject on my twitter this morning: organizing your books by color. If you feel strongly about it, come follow along and join in!)

bag sales and ootd

I went to my very first bag sale today, and it was pretty much the best morning of forever. It was down at The Little Green Dress, the local vintage/thrift shop. I'd been there before, but hadn't found something that was perfectly me. But hey, with a $10 bag, I was sure I'd find something! Somehow, I had failed to grasp the true magic of a bag sale...I grabbed a dress from the clearance section that was priced at $12. Therefore, just by virtue of putting it in the bag, I was saving money. Anything else I put in that bag, I told myself with true shopper's economics, was free!

So I grabbed a dress and skirt that I tried and loved, then another dress and skirt for me, and a skirt for my friend because, hey, they fit in the bag! Might as well! The dress is...strange, and I'm pretty sure it was homemade to someone's very strange proportions, but I might try to cut it into a top. The other skirt is very cute; hopefully you'll be seeing them around here!

But the first dress, the one I loved, I wore today! We were going bowling, and in celebration of my first vintage dress (and for so cheap!), I decided to go with the spirit of the game and do a little 50s drag. I forgot to bring my camera and didn't get a picture of me in my bowling shoes but, trust me, it was pretty fab.

(I feel kind of ridic in this photo, but it was really bright out! The dress comes to a little bit below my knees, fyi)

Dress: thrifted vintage, tag says "Ilse M"

I'd really like to get a cute belt to wear with this...it comes with one in the same fabric, but that's a little too matchy-matchy for me. A friend suggested I wear it as a headband, which I will probably do the next time I try this outfit! And I posted a little makeup preview on my twitter, so details for that: I did a take on the classic pin-up look with a creamy eye (UD Sellout on the lid with Nylon in the crease) and a winged liner (UD Zero). My initial instinct was obviously for a red lip, but since I had an almost-minty green, I went with my current standby for fabulous, MAC "Lickable."

What's your favorite sale experience? Are bag sales just as magical in the stores by you?

how to: walk in heels

My mom doesn't wear heels. She might have back when she wore the 80s power skirt-suit sets that now live in my closet, but no longer. My best friend didn't either, back in the day, so I was pretty much on my own when I decided that I needed to start rocking a pair of pumps. So if you're in the same boat, whether you're a teen looking to try it out or an adult looking to try something new (or try again!), read on for my blister-won tips and tricks for wearing heels.

The most important thing begins when you're shopping for heels, and that is fit. No matter how high or low the heel, if the shoe doesn't fit properly, it will never be comfortable to walk in. For a long time I got blisters on the back of my ankles...because my shoes were sliding down, rubbing against my heel every time I stepped. I buy my heels a half-size down on average from my sneakers, because, obviously, I'm not wearing my chunky socks with my pumps. I find that buying a pair that feels just slightly too tight is the best way to go--like a pair of jeans, heels will stretch slightly to accommodate you as you wear them--so that I don't have any slippage problems.

Two of my favorite pairs, on opposite ends of the spectrum. Both from Kohl's: Yunnis (on sale now!) and "Swell" (no longer listed on the website)

Regarding heel choices, beginners might want to look into character shoes. These are specially made for walking/dancing/performing in, and can be a good intro to the world of heels. However, the soles are also made for use on a stage, so they can get pretty beat up if you wear them outside, and they aren't really "stylish" shoes.

Along with personal style preference, being careful about selecting the right make of shoe will be helpful in having a fun and fabulous heels-wearing experience. Obviously, newbies are going to want to go with lower heels, but you might also want a thicker heel (or even a wedge) for more support. I've found closed-toe shoes to be easier than peep toe; it might just be my monkey toes, but for a long time, peep toe shoes gave me the uncomfortable sensation that my foot was trying to jam itself out and make an escape through the open toe.

As for the actual act of walking, the most important thing to remember is to trust the heel. Your instinct (if you're anything like me) is going to be to put your weight on your toes, especially the higher the heel gets. Don't do that! You want to walk heel-toe, heel-toe, just like you do in a less exaggerated fashion when your feet are mostly level. Clomping around on the balls of your feet is just going to strain your calves, your ankles, and put you off balance. I promise the heel won't give out under you (or it shouldn't--definitely test the strength of the heel itself before you buy).

Don't be afraid to take as much time as you need. Keep your eye out for holes/ice/debris in your path -- a slight misstep in flats can turn into a wipeout in heels, especially if you're new to the game.
Do walk with purpose. I find that I walk best in heels once I hit my stride--shoulders back, posture perfect, heels clacking in a steady rhythm--like I've got places to be!
Don't forget to practice. I break in new heels by tromping through my apartment, doing my dishes, whatever I'm up to. Sometimes if I want to get used to the feel, I wear them sitting down (I've got the blue suede beauties pictured above on right now!)
Do pack extra shoes, especially if you're worried you might be walking longer than you can handle. I went to a stand-up show this past summer in Madison...and ended up looking for a theater on foot, because of a massive street fair that had shut down all the surrounding roads. I was wishing I'd shoved a pair of flipflops into my bag that night!

I hope this helps someone pluck up the courage to buy a pair of kickin' heels and take them for a spin! Any other questions? Advice from heels veterans? Share it below!

my five: getting your domestic fix

The rumors are true! I have been informing my roommates about very important articles regarding thread count and how to pick a perfect mattress. I get inappropriately lustful over appliance commercials. I mournfully browse IKEA's website at least once a week. There's no denying it: I'm in a haze of wanton domesticity. I can't control myself! I must be stopped.

Or perhaps I'll manage somehow. Sadly, I probably won't have an apartment of my own to wreak my domestic vision on for at least a year (please, don't make me wait so long), so I have to live vicariously through websites and blogs, showing me what it can be like. It's not just the decor or the furniture that gets me all warm and cozy; it's the promise of dinner parties, crafting, making a space all mine. I've been living in a campus apartment this year, and while I've had a good trial run, the school-standard furniture, beige walls, and student budget all put a pretty weighty damper on individual style expression. (As does, of course, the sheer amount of time being a student takes up. This week has been particularly miserable; it's as though they think we're here to learn!)

So, to allay the yearnings of those, like me, who are still waiting for a place of their own, and to inspire those who have theirs, here's my five favorite blogs to hep me get my domesticity fix.

1. Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn
They're part of the same web family, so they definitely count as one! Also, they're the most obvious; I probably should have left them off the list, they're so ubiquitous in the home/design blogging sector by now, but I hate the thought that someone might not know! The thing I really love best about Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn is not, in fact, their home/kitchen tours and inspiration posts. I love the questions set to the commentariat--I've never seen a group of commenters who are so helpful anywhere else on the web--and their useful link aggregations. As I mentioned above, I read a number of articles about thread counts and the differences between types of mattresses. My roommates were bored to tears, but I, ever the domestic wannabe, was fascinated. (Apartment Therapy was also the source of one of my favorite posts yesterday.)

2. Saucy Dwellings
Livejournal has pretty much been left behind in the blogging world, but one of my favorite sources of design inspiration is still housed (haha) there. Saucy Dwellings is a community welcoming the "saucy" homes and rooms of LJ users. They also run a weekly "Open Sauce" post full of random requests for help and new projects. It's been fairly slow lately, but the community aspect is something that keeps me coming back. There's a lot of back and forth discussion about elements of the rooms, and I've never seen a poster decline to explain a project, name a paint color, or give a reupholstering tip to a curious commenter.

3. Offbeat Home
I'm totally behind the boat on this one. I've always been a big fan of Offbeat Bride (because I am obsessed with weddings, hello) but never scrolled up to check out the other sites in their family. This one is fun because it's a little bit funky, with a lot of variety in style and substance. I'm pretty much head over heels for the Steampunk home they just featured.

4. Sweet Home Style
Repping for another blogging platform, Sweet Home Style is one of my favorite inspiration tumblrs. They feature some truly drool-worthy magazine shots alongside real homes. As much as I love a good chatty blog, there's something about page after page of lovely pictures that just makes my heart happy.

5. Design*Sponge
And another classic. Design*Sponge features gorgeous rooms, neat indie artists/artisans, and useful DIY projects! It was the first decor/design/home blog that I started reading regularly and will always have a special place in my heart, even if their features are usually less budget-conscious than I can handle!

What design blogs do you keep coming back to? Can anyone else not wait to freak out over cooking for a dinner party?


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