NSFW: Summer Dress, or How to Make Everyone Uncomfortable

(scroll down for outfit post) 

I’m preparing another conference report. It was super hot and sweaty at this particular conference, however, so there are things I have to wash and iron before I can even consider donning them, again, for you, StyleNation. In the mean time, I offer the following.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year has proved exceptionally busy, if not particularly productive as yet, at least in terms of the multiple writing projects I’m meant to have on the go. I’ve travelled three times already, and I’ve got another trip this weekend. That said, it’s still  pleasant not to be teaching, and thus to have time to organize and prepare for what promises to be a frenzied and – I hope – invigorating summer of writing and getting things off my desk and onto the desks of others.

Even the student who skipped his deferred exam, emailed two days later to offer a weak and implausible excuse, then asked for another deferral really hasn’t phased me. Two months ago, this situation would have filled me with rage. But last week, I merrily denied his request, sent him back to his home faculty, and only bitched to D-Med about it for (what I recall as) a relatively short time last week.

Outfit Post: Live and Learn 

Recently, I wore a dress and took some photos of it so I can learn things. What I have learned is as follows:

1. The top of this dress is a little big for me, so it gapes in ways that are probably pretty uncomfortable for my students and colleagues. You know, unless they want to see my laundry-day bra and some blindingly white fleshy bits.

2. While the skirt is swirly, the pattern huge, and the colours pleasingly vibrant, the whole thing would, I think, be better on a woman a little older, and much darker-skinned than me. I think either a brown woman, or a very dark-skinned woman with a little more bosom, and a lot more experience and presence could do this baby more justice. Me, I feel like a ghost in it. A ghost whose boobs and armpit cleavage are occasionally on display if I do anything more than stand like this:

Crinkly summer dress: ?? (I cut out the scratchy tag. It is cotton and was on sale at one of those big discount department stores in Florida); “Snakeskin” gladiator sandals: Report (via Winners); Classy office boombox: bottom-of-the-line Canadian Tire, Baby

Sandal close-up. They are more comfortable than I expected. Like wear-around-all-day -in-the-heat-and-don’t-get-blisters comfortable.

And here, because I have it and was feeling frustrated about how awkward things were looking, is a super-unflattering image of me doing an angry high kick:

Now that I see it again, the kick’s not that high. Probably I should do some stretches.

What clothes have you bought for other women, StyleNation? 

Just how successful are we at shopping for the lives we have

(as Angie, at You Look Fab might say)?

Summer Dressing

Hmmph. It’s been one hell of a summer, hasn’t it?

Perhaps most horrifying are the droves of people dying of starvation in Somalia (if you’ve resources to spare and haven’t done so already, please consider donating). Then there’s that right-wing anti-Islamist sack of sh*t who killed 93 people in Norway (is anyone else peeved that he and his stupid manifesto are getting so much media attention? I’ve yet to hear a single newscast lead off with extended coverage of the victims).

Update: Interrobangs Anonymous’s Katie gave us this link. CBC’s Rex Murphy foregrounds the plight of Norway’s grieving population.

And while we’re on the subject of stupid, pointless deaths, I am really going to miss Amy Winehouse (Oh Amy. You were one beautiful, talented mess!).

With all these seriously awful things happening, and after we’ve given them due consideration (taking action where we can), it’s sweet to enjoy some hilarity and clothes talk.

Clothes talk: remember that thrifted sundress from last summer?

I finally wore it with a coral cardigan. Prepare yourself: I am mixing it up pose-wise in this shot (click the link above to see more of the dress):

MAK coral cardigan: remixed
Thrifted cotton sundress: remixed
Portia gold leather and cork wedges: new (via Shoe Heaven)  
Fantastic leg tan: unfortunate sunless tanner incident

I know. The pose-related excitement is almost overwhelming for me, too.

In other news, how much are we loving the coral with all the other colours here? I could probably use accessories to take me out of the June Cleaver realm, but there are so few people around the department these days that I’m having a hard time bringing my sartorial A game. Also, these are my new favourite shoes.  

NSFW: afternoon wedding

The Hubs’s friend got married on Friday. We attended his breezy outdoor afternoon wedding and stayed for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the sunny, breezy patio-by-the-park. After trying on a series of dresses stashed in the back of my closet and declaring them either (a) too formal, or (b) too much in need of horribly squeezy, sweaty under-armour, I opted for this combination instead:

Le Chateau ruched and lined cotton (not jersey) top: remixed
Jacob lined cotton pencil skirt: remixed
Dangly and sparkly earrings, sparkly cuff: remixed (worn with the pale pink wedding dress)
Naturalizer silver sandals: remixed (see link above)

Then I added my silver clutch and the wrap I bought for my mother, but that she didn’t want, so I kept it and she can eat her heart out:

Dezario silver clutch: new to blog (via Shoe Heaven, ages ago)
Fuschia pashmina: who knows? I never keep the tags I cut off scarves (via Winners)

This appeared to hit the right note. And it was great to play hooky for an afternoon from my quiet office. 

What are you remixing this summer, StyleNation?

Also, what’s your position on afternoon weddings and sartorial formality? 

Fakin’ It; or Copy-cattin’ Anne

So today I wore a glorious new dress that Anne showcased on The Cohabitating Closet the other day, leading me to rush out to Target to buy it. It’s a little outside of my typical summer dress wheelhouse: it’s polka-dotted; it’s not made of cotton jersey; it’s more wearable to dressy occasions (ie. I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it at some of the wedding festivities to come).
Dress: Target
Flats: Joe
Blue necklace: F21
This is Target dress number two that I’ve bought because Anne had them in the last couple of weeks (the other dress will show up here shortly). Clearly, I’m well on target for my single-white-female-ing plan. I feel like the shape of the dress comes through better in the picture below — sorry for its crazy darkness. Mostly I just wanted to show off the hibiscus flower that’s pretty spectacular.
Where does the faking it part of the title come in? I threw this dress on today because I continue to feel like death warmed over thanks to a chest cold I picked up while at a conference last weekend (which went well — busy, but good) and which incubated nicely on the flight home. Between things like my annual review meeting with my department chair, having a senior colleague observe my class, and dealing with a plagiarizing student this week, this week has been a bit of a blur. A spring-y dress with cheerful accents was the only way to envision getting through today. It did the trick so far — getting me home early where I can have therapeutic cuddles with the mini-FR on the couch.

How do you dress to trick your body into forgetting it’s sick?

Not Yet Back to School

On this, the first day of school for many of our awesome Stateside readers, I have to ask if all ya’ll have read this enraging piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education on the perils of academic hotness. If not, you could skip reading that and read this, instead: La Historiadora de Moda’s response to same.

And while we’re on the topic of awesome Fashionable Academics, don’t forget about their “Back to School First Day Finery” conference (check the top right sidebar). Things are going to get even more awesome over there shortly.

In addition, don’t hate me because I don’t start back until September 8th. In other news, I briefly considered this ensemble for first-day-back:

Aside #1: Gah! What to with expanse of space? The updated blogger editing tools are screwing with my preferred layout.  Please stand by (perhaps for up to a month) while I attempt to update my skills.

Poly-cotton jersey dress: Winners, last-chance clearance rack
Studded leather & elastic belt: same as dress
Bangles: The Bay, and cousin’s shop (remixed)
Nude platform wedges: Nine West (remixed)

Aside #2: The strangeness of my hair in these images may give pause. But don’t worry: it’s not this weird. It’s actually jaunty, but in a just-got-a-blowout kind of way. You know, because I just got a blowout. 

But I’m not as full-on sold as I used to be on the unapologetically summery and casual vibe of the bare legs and wedges. Probably I will profesh things up a bit more. Probably the dress would be better with black tights and shoes. But September continues to be pretty intensely hot and humid here at IPF, northern division, so I’ll save that look for a little later in the term.

In the mean time, I’ve little else to report, except that D-Med and E-Jo continue to be away having awesome lives, and I continue to struggle bravely onward, alone. I will, however, provide us all with a comforting image of the Fuzzy Roommate cuddling with his mini-toy self. He’s pretending this is a serious moment.

Are you ready to work your fall fashions into the rotation? 
Even if it’s still really hot where you live?

NSFW: Maxi Dress, Too

We interrupt your regularly scheduled “Friend Friday” program to bring you this Maxi Dress Discussion, Part Two. Yesterday(see comments & post), IPF‘s (Recently-In) London Correspondent reported that maxi dresses are all over London. She also noted that some of us did the maxi dress two years ago. Thus, she wondered, are London fashionistas behind or ahead of North America’s sartorial times?

As much as I like the concept of a dress that’s long, loose, and eliminates my morning-shower-leg-shaving-rage, like D-Med, I can’t help but feel like I’m wearing a costume when I sport a long floaty dress in daylight. And even though I adore the navy blue of this maxi – because navy, like gun-metal gray, is kinder to my pale complexion than black is – the extreme contrast between my near-naked top and my very covered bottom bothers me:

Cotton maxi dress: Gap
Pewter leather sandals: Kenneth Cole
Necklace: Smart Set
Bangle: The Bay
Pythons: care of Sheila’s upper-body workout tips

‘Just trying some other accessories (hey- where’d the pythons go?):

Necklace & bracelet: thrifted

Other elements of this dress that make it awkward as well as NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) include the following: requisite bralessness (i.e. not nearly enough layers of material between “me” and my colleagues and students), and spaghetti straps (I’m supposed to be retiring from wearing these).

And finally, once again, please bear with me as I offer myself a lesson via public exposure. A-Dubs: This. Is. A. Beach. Dress. No necklace will change this fact. Stop wearing it in the city.

Poly-cotton BEACH maxi dress:

(Winners last summer, but I cut out the tag)
Necklace: sad sale rack at Suzy Shier
(that’s right: I shop with the tweens)

Way back in May, Fit For a Femme offered some great suggestions to make a maxi dress SFW. I was immediately inspired, but gave up almost as quickly.

Do you think maxis can work for work? If so, how?
If not, are your reasons the same as D-Med’s and mine?

NSFW: Maxi Dress

I would be remiss in my duties as a style blogger if I did not report in on London street style. It did not seem distinctly different from North America, actually—jeggings, gladiator sandals, general pantslessness—with one notable exception: the maxi dress. Maxi dresses were everywhere in London. Weren’t they everywhere here, like, two years ago?

At least, that’s when I succumbed to the trend with this dress.

Dress: Calvin Klein

Beads: belonged to my grandmother (I love them)
Pose: Wonder Woman, via A-Dubs

It took me a long time to get on board with the maxi dress and I think I’m still on the fence, even though I own one (I’m ignoring the mixed metaphor; please follow suit). Something about the maxi seems costume-y to me. And this was especially evident in London when groups of women in maxi dresses would go out en masse looking like a mis-matched bridal party. There is something distinctly 70s about the maxi dress that I don’t dislike, I just think it’s difficult for me make it current (except, obviously, it is current so what do I know?). I also think that it looks best on tall, willowy chicks and that is not me (it is A-Dubs).

Nonetheless, I do love how comfortable my maxi dress is, especially in the hot weather. And this one is the perfect long length on me because it does not trail on the ground, even if I’m wearing flats.

Gold flat sandals: Cole Haan Canvas Wedges with a kicky bow: Keds

I don’t think it’s at all suitable for my workplace though I do wear it a lot when I work from home, mostly because it feels like a nightie. And, of course, I’ve worn it to the cottage. I love the pattern and the softness of the fabric but this dress does not get a lot of street wear and I think I bought into the trend because it was deeply discounted even though I was not convinced I could pull it off. Lesson learned (probably).

These are my favourite things about my ensemble today.

And I like the beads too. (I’m here all week, folks. Try the veal.)

Do you wear a maxi dress? How and where do you wear it and how do you tone down the 70s? Or maybe the 70s isn’t a bad thing? After all, TV’s Wonder Woman is from the 70s.

Thrifted Sundress, Take Two

Campus is getting crowded, again, as students begin their last summer courses today. I’m bringing my own caffeinated beverages until things settle down. But that’s neither here nor there, is it? Let’s move on.

Last month, I picked up this sundress for a song at my local Value Village (pronounced, of course, “Va-LOO, Ville-AGE,” with chic French accent). I’ve tried styling it once, with limited success here (note comments). Here’s my second try:

Dress: thrifted
Short-sleeved cardi: Loft
Shoes: Nine West (remixed)
Beads & solid cuff bracelet:
Le Chateau
Other cuff: ?? (remixed)

This pic >
is included almost
exclusively to showcase
the platform foothugs
And just in case you were craving a poorly lit close-up of the Wonder Woman pose/the accessories:
Finally, I think I’ve shown improvement. I’ve decided that for now, I’m too lazy to hem the skirt, so I’ll keep wearing the dress with heels. But I really wish I had either a yellow or a soft coral 3/4-sleeve cardigan to wear. Then I could skip the necklace and brighter cuff, right?
I imagine the summer sales are picked over by now and have thus been reduced to a sad, over-crowded single rack at the back of the store, a rack through which one somehow feels just as sad browsing (not that I don’t do it – I can get over being sad if it gets me an unbelievable deal). Maybe I’ll venture out. . .
What treasures, if any, have you found in the end of the end-of-season sales? Or is the sadness overwhelming for you?

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Mad Men is back tonight and I love me some Mad Men. I love its aesthetic, both costume and set design; I love the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) irony about the gap between the generation it is set in and the generation it is shot in; and I love the writing. A colleague of mine and A-Dubs pointed out that a number of the writers on the show are women, which makes it a particularly fascinating experiment. I think it would be a great text for a women’s writing course, given the complex relationships between the overtly chauvinist material, the women characters on the show and the period of burgeoning feminism, and the women television writers.
This shirtwaist dress is more Betty than anything else even though I prefer to think of myself as a Peggy, or better yet, a Midge:
Dress: INC
Bracelet: vintage Bakelite
My shadow: The Vampire Cat (he’s getting in on the Mad Men trend by looking up my skirt)
The skirt is a perfect circle, which doesn’t show up much here. I’ve actually worn it with the flats at a conference. On that occasion, the organiser of the conference, who was a gregarious Italian Italianist shouted across the room for all to hear, “That is a gorgeous dress!”
Flats: Dune
Gin: Bombay Sapphire
Cat: Vampire
Too much gin:
Shoes: Via Spiga, via Winners
And while I do think that the show offers a fascinating insight into social mores, both then and now, and I do want to teach a few episodes in my classroom, obviously this is the reason I love me some Mad Men:
I think you could bounce a quarter off of that.
Will you be watching Mad Men tonight? With a martini?

I’d like to sup with my baby tonight

Have I mentioned that it is HOT in London? Oh yes, I have. The thing about my being here during the hottest summer on record in London is that I did not pack for being here during the hottest summer on record in London. I packed for England: cardis, long pants, jeans, coat. I needed all of these things when I was up in Leeds, where it monsooned daily while I conferenced and tried to be charming and smart, but these things are just not on with the daily living in London.
The day I landed I took the tube from Heathrow to Russell Square and was miserable and sweaty (I really hate the tube and yet I am still too cheap to take the Heathrow Express) so when I got out and hauled my suitcase and my arse up the stupid, stupid stairs I went straight to Joy and bought this dress. It was modelled in the window AND by a very stylish customer rocking it in the store. I don’t think I’ve ever bought something because I saw it on someone else but my brain was heat-addled and she was willowy and beautiful. She might have glamoured me. The dress is tent-like and does absolutely nothing flattering but it barely touches me and only needs to be accessorised by a pair of M&S knickers, footwear and a smile.
Dress: Louche
Undies: Marks & Spencer (not pictured)
I actually like the bright florals, the precious heart-shaped buttons and the pockets but it is a little short for my comfort level (especially since I washed it) and trapeze-like for my shape. But it has been a staple for my days in London (outside of library time, where it is freezing and cardi-friendly).
How are y’all survivin’ the heat?
(I have been watching True Blood on-line for the first time, because I am also too sick to sleep.
I am in love with Sam. Why doesn’t he love me?)

Hot Cheap Compromises

It’s (finally) smokin’ hot here in the late-blooming north. With the heat comes humidity. It’s no where near the turn-you-into-human-jerky humidity experienced by our lovely readers in the American south, but it’s still moist hot air. In this kind of heat (which I secretly love), a la carte dressing is the only option; non-metal accessories are sticky against sweat and sunscreen, and metals heat up to excruciating temperatures in the sun. My goal, then, is to be as close to naked as possible while remaining paparazzi ready outside my apartment.

As a result, business casual has gone out the window for the past two days—as have my anxieties about being too old to wear spaghetti straps in real life:

Brown cotton jersey dress: Theory

Non-neutral wedges: Geox (remixed)

Yellow beachy-lady bag: thrifted

This bag breaks my once-firm “No Women Besides Me In/On My Clothes” rule. I’ve never seen the point of wearing a face or body other than my own next to my face or body. I still don’t. But the bag is a fun and unusual print, it’s got two wooden peaches on its canvas straps, and it cost next to nothing; so I folded.

Another compromise I made this week involved this “dress”:


jersey bag/dress: Spense (via Winners)

White tank dress: Le Chateau

Studded gladiator sandals: Steve Madden (remixed)

Silver bangle: The Bay (remixed)

I acknowledge this is less a dress and more a bag with straps. But that’s pretty much the point – well, that and the colour, which I pretend makes me look tan. Either way, the “dress” hangs, air blows it around when I walk, and I decrease my chances of melting. I compromise because it’s bloody hot out – but I wear the light tank dress, too, because viscose jersey is WAY too thin to go it alone this far from the beach. (Or at least it’s too thin for my buttock-related comfort.)

What sartorial compromises, if any, do you make in the heat of summer? What have you purchased (and worn) in violation of your style rules?