Tag Archives: fashion

I’m In Chains: The Dress That Has Come to Represent My Early-Mid 20s

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Dress: Lazy Oaf via Nasty Gal. Faux fur vest: gift from my brother. Necklace, ring, bracelet: gifts from family and friends. Earrings: vintage. Tights: DKNY. Shoes: Ann Marino (these are ANCIENT).

The dress from the front.

The dress from the front.

The dress from the back.

When I first saw this dress, my first thought was, “OOOOOooooOOOOOoooo. So many colors…” Like most days, I was checking out Nasty Gal (don’t worry — I’m almost always just checking) when I stumbled across this funky number by Lazy Oaf. The colors, the bold chain print, and the form-fitting, figure-flattering, flirty, feminine cut were enough for me to click on the picture for a close-up. What did me in, however, were the “Lazy” tags that were part of the print. This dress reminded me of what life had been for me up until now: I had been chained by what many had perceived to be laziness, but what I knew was actually fear of failing miserably.

I recently came to the realization that anxiety over the prospect of failure is not my only problem, nor is it my biggest problem. My greatest issue is fear of commitment. I’ve come to understand that, like many people, I am not a talentless loser who fails at everything. Rather, I actually have many talents and, if anything, I’m overwhelmed by opportunities for tremendous success. However, being that I’m afraid of commitment, I’ve shied away from many opportunities for success precisely because of the presumed commitment to continued good work in that particular area in which I would have realized success. In a nutshell, if I decide to pursue taxation and I become successful in that field, I am afraid that I will be locked into that field forever without any way out.

You must understand that this realization is a huge step forward for me. Not only have I accepted my real shortcomings, but I’m beginning to accept my talents. Let me tell you, it’s been extremely liberating and empowering to finally look at myself in the mirror and see the reflection of someone capable, rather than someone who constantly fails. I’m finally freeing my true self from my old, toxic self-loathing self. I’m sawing off the rusted chains and shackles that have kept me from soaring into space! Needless to say, I bought the dress, and am thrilled that I did.

Anyway, back to the dress. Now I know what some of you might be thinking: “Umm, hello? Is anybody home? It’s made of polyester, and you’re not supposed to buy anything unless you need it.” Well, smartypants, I have news for you all; I did need to buy this dress. I was in need of one club/lounge dress at the time of purchase because I didn’t own ANY.

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Anyway, I wore this last Saturday night under the faux fur vest my brother gave me. I wore it with some of my mom’s jewelry from the 70s: a colorful silver scarab on a silver chain, and the “shield” ring with her first initial on it. I also wore a silver coil bracelet with brass balls threaded through it that was given to me by a family friend eons ago (pictured above).

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vegetable picnic earrings

I mustn’t forget my favorite earrings! I had purchased these a few years ago at some thrift store on Orchard St. I had to haggle with this loaf of a man with Jerry curls for about ten minutes before reaching an acceptable price, but I got them. I love their whimsical design; the flourishes and the dangling “carrots” are so magical!

I think that I looked great. I did, however, make one major rookie mistake: I layered a form-fitting polyester dress over a Spanx slip over tights. My dress was riding up my thighs for most of the night. Also, my shoes kept on slipping off of my heels as I walked. Sigh. It turns out that wearing this dress is like wearing the chains that were keeping me from living my life until recently!

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Quick Tip: Tights on Tights

Living in a cold weather state can be nice (there’s nothing like a nice cup of hot cocoa after a cold walk), but it also comes with some problems. For the fashion-conscious, winter is like a dangerous game of Would You Rather in which style and comfort are constantly pitted against each other. If you’ve ever chosen a stylish, flimsy jacket over a warm (but inelegant) puffer coat for a night out in February, you definitely understand how cruel the fashion gods can really be. In recent years, however, I’ve begun to really grow tired of sacrificing one thing for the other, and I’ve been trying to blend the two elements together. Although some attempts don’t yield a harmonious marriage of style and warmth, others have been pretty successful.

Take, for example, hosiery. Not all tights or stockings are warm enough for the winter, but there is a way to make them so, and it’s SO. EASY. All you need to do is layer tights over tights. That’s it! It’s a trick I picked up a few years ago from a friend of mine, and I’ve been doing it ever since! Just take two pairs of tights, like this black pair and this blue pair….

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and layer them to make navy… I wish that the picture had turned out better, because the result is really cool in person…

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You can even try this with textured tights for a more funky effect. Again, I apologize for the crappy lighting of the photos.

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The photos can’t properly demonstrate just how awesome the effect is. I encourage you to try it yourself! Not only will you be warm, but you’ll be adding a little bit of freshness to your style.

Black and blue tights: Hue
Black leggings: Guess
Black fishnets: Marion

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Fashion Challenge: Mesh Top *Lots of Pics* *New Segment*

It’s been about a month since I’ve written about my decision to abstain from purchasing any non-necessary and/or low-quality items. While it’s true that my wallet hasn’t felt this good in years, this decision hasn’t entirely been “sunshine and roses”. Listen, I knew from the start that cutting down on clothes shopping wasn’t going to be without its obvious issues (has anybody seen Jeffrey Campbell’s Seem platform?), but I definitely didn’t expect to have any new concerns related to style and upkeep.

Now, instead of just being afraid of one day cracking and dropping $300 on some stuff I don’t need, I’m haunted by another, even more pressing concern: will my newly limited wardrobe resources lead me to eventually run out of outfit ideas? I’ve seen what’s in my closet: lots of clothes that either no longer fit me or have shoulder pads and ‘80s proportions (remember, most of this stuff belonged to my mom twenty to thirty years ago). Wtf is a modern Millie to do!?

Finally, I convinced myself that that would only happen if I allowed it to happen. Mind over matter, Size J! Or, as my grandfather would say if he were alive, “Coraggio!” That’s when I got the idea for the Fashion Challenge!

The core idea behind the Fashion Challenge segment is that anything can be styled. That’s right — anything. Give me your tattered, your fugly, and your outdated, and I will make them wearable once again. Sometimes, all you need to do is reimagine the world in which those pieces would be worn; other times, you might need more of a nip or a tuck. Either way, anything can be worn again, including your stripper heels and your ‘70s plaid bell bottoms.

Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed by my crazy, immense-scale ideas that I abandon any efforts to get a plan off the ground. Luckily, I know myself well enough by now to know that if I want to pull something off, I need to be organized and consistent, and avoid limiting my ideas. I am very pleased to showcase the inaugural Fashion Challenge post, and the Polyvore style boxes I’ve made to accompany it.

For this post, I decided to style something a little more simple: a black mesh dress.

Yes, you read that correctly. This is a black mesh DRESS.

Mesh is one of those materials that often looks cheap, which is why it’s especially important to pair it with quality accessories. There are ways to make your mesh top the standout piece, and ways to make it more of a “supporting” piece. Below, you will find several examples of how you may stylishly incorporate mesh into outfits without looking like a hot mesh… mess. Sorry — I blame the Sean Connery movie marathon. 😉

SOLIDS WITH MESH

With mesh, it can be really easy to go from night club to strip club. Here are some tips to keep you at the bar and off the pole (unless, of course, that’s where you want to be):

1. Match the solid top to the color of the mesh for a more refined finish.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Solid with Same Color Mesh
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Solid with Same Color Mesh by iamsizej featuring turtleneck shirts

Click the style box for clothing credits.

2. If you select a solid in a color different from that of the mesh, layer the solid OVER the mesh.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Solid with Different Color Mesh
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Solid with Different Color Mesh by iamsizej featuring a black optical

3. Try a more monochrome outfit for elegance and a more streamlined silhouette. Black on black is timeless, sexy, and mysterious. White on white is fresh and modern.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Smaller Solid Garments with Mesh #1
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Smaller Solid Garments with Mesh #1 by iamsizej featuring shoulder handbags

4. If you decide to go the less-is-more route by layering a bra or bandeau underneath your mesh top, there are two styles you can try. If you have a loosely fitting mesh top, go the bohemian route with down-to-earth accessories and more contrast among garment textures and style.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Smaller Solid Garments with Mesh #2
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Smaller Solid Garments with Mesh #2 by iamsizej featuring chris habana

If you have a more tightly fitting mesh top, don’t be afraid to really crank up the sex appeal by channeling the strippers of yesteryear with a leather bra, like I did. If you’re worried about looking cheap, never fear — keep skirt hemlines about knee-length at their shortest, only wear tailored jackets, and style with only good quality (or industry-approved — wink, wink) accessories. For extra impact, go monochromatic.

Mesh dress: the Luxe Collection (bought it at some store in Chelsea), leather bra: DeMask

Skirt: H&M, leather pumps: Pleasers, jacket: BCBGMaxAzria

I’ve already gone into detail about what makes this leather and silk jacket so awesome, but thrown over a mesh top and leather bra gives “ssssssexy” a whole new meaning! Oo la la!

These rings were my mom’s. She told me that she was on a serious silver kick in the ’70s. I think they make the outfit look very biker-esque.

MESH OVER MESH

1. Throwing a really loose net-like knit cardigan over mesh adds some funky movement to your upper half. Select a colorful knit for an even bolder optical effect.

2. A mesh shirt is pretty daring to begin with, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of your outfit can’t have an edge. Just remember that edgy “supporting” garments and accessories should at least be cut in more classic shapes, as your outfit will otherwise run the risk of looking too illogical.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Mesh with Mesh
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Mesh with Mesh by iamsizej featuring alexander wang shoes

3. Mesh is both a pattern and a texture. Mixing textures creates more visual interest in an outfit, so don’t shy away from mixing the smoothness of leather leggings with the bumps and jags of an alligator handbag. The key here is not to overdo it; make sure at least two of the garments in your outfit are the same texture and/or material.

4. Use neutrals to pull the outfit together.

5. Always know what you plan to wear underneath your mesh. Will you be wearing a t-shirt or a tank top? Will you be making a statement with a bra or a bandeau? Will you be wearing something skin-toned to keep the focus solely on the mesh? Be aware of what it is you’re trying to highlight or play down.

PRINT OVER MESH

Mesh can have the same effect as a print. For a punchy look, mix mesh with something graphic.

1. A uniform print like mesh should be layered underneath a more complex print to keep the focus on the statement garment.

2. To keep your outfit from looking schizophrenic, balance the colors in the selected print with accessories in one or two neutral tones.

How to Wear a Mesh Shirt -- Print with Mesh
How to Wear a Mesh Shirt — Print with Mesh by iamsizej featuring 3.1 phillip lim

3. I love garments with pleats and origami-esque folding. For a ladylike look incorporating mesh, combine printed architectural dresses, shirts, skirts or pants with edgier takes on classic accessories.

4. If you’d like to use mesh to look more “bohemian urban raver tribe child” (I made that up — I don’t know if that’s a thing), try pairing a loose printed dress with unusual shoes, statement rings, and a structured bag.

Sunglasses: my brother’s. Attitude: FUN!

Lastly, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember to have fun. I had so much fun trying to figure out how I could style a couple of outfits using a mesh top that I completely forgot to feel anxious over the prospect of running out of style ideas. Take that, closet!

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