Maximizing on Winter

During certain phases in college, I practically lived in maxi skirts.  I went to school during a few extremely brutal winters, but I still wore these skirts.  At the time, I would layer my skirts over tights and even knee socks and/or knee boots. 
Skirt:  Eloquii (Available here)
I had forgotten about these style hacks.  I've been wanting to wear some of my maxi skirts, but it has seemed too cold for such a breezy option. 

Remembering my styling tricks from college, I threw on some tights and knee high boots with my newest maxi skirt and stayed nice and toasty!

Top:  Eloquii (Available here)
Blazer:  The Limited (Similar here)
This cobalt blue color is one of my absolute favorite colors, and I love the waistband and pleating details.  Blue is a huge color trend for spring - in fact, there are four shades on Pantone's spring 2015 color palette!

This is the first bottom I've purchased from Eloquii, and I'm so happy with it.  It's supposed to be a midi skirt, but since I'm petite - instant maxi.  I'm sort of loving the midi skirt trend because if I want a maxi skirt, I can get one right now without having it altered!!

Clutch:  Vintage
Bracelets:  LOFT
I am normally a 12 on bottom, and Eloquii starts at a 14, so the waist is a little big, but that's an easy enough fix if I decide to alter it.  The skirt is unlined and is a tad sheer, so I added a slip which also added a little extra warmth.

I wanted the waistband on the skirt to stand out, so I paired the skirt with an off-white crop top also from Eloquii.  Since I wore this to work for yesterday's casual Friday, I threw on a blazer for a professional edge.

Rings:  Torrid
Mixed metal accessories, including my super cool pendant from Antiquarian Couture, completed the look.
Pendant:  Antiquarian Couture (See more options here)
Earrings:  trendylittlepieces - etsy
If you're in the St. Louis area, you can pick up some of Antiquarian Couture's pieces at Cheap Trx or Rabbits and Rags, or contact the designer directly here.  Check out the lovely Jill of Stilettos on Sunday Morning to see another piece styled from Antiquarian Couture.

For the blazer in other looks, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

For the necklace in another look, see here.


Working It Like A Boss

Happy Friday, everyone!!

I'm wrapping up the week with a new work wear post.  Work clothes can become exceptionally boring, but since our image matters in the workplace, it is important to toe the professional line.
Blouse:  The Limited (Available here)
If you're lucky enough to work at a more creative company or one with a casual/relaxed dress code, your options become more plentiful.  Since I work in a business casual environment of a conservative industry, I generally try to stick to pieces that have polish and that aren't too loud.

That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a little dramatic at times, and that's the vibe I was feeling with today's look.

Cape:  Boohoo (No longer available)
I did a twist on the classic black pantsuit by pairing black skinnies with my black capelet jacket from boohoo. 

The minty aqua bow blouse added a fun pop of print and color while being a very classic work style.

This aqua color mixed with red is one of my very favorite color combinations, so I threw on red peep-toe heels and added a red clutch for a slightly flirty mix.
Pants:  The Limited (Available here)
Clutch:  Vintage
Cuff:  The Limited
Heels: Target
The bright colors, leopard print blouse and cape made me feel bold and in control.
It's nice to feel like a boss...even if, like me, you're NOT the boss!  :-)

For the capelet in other looks, see here and here.
For the pants in other looks, see here, here, here, here, and here.


This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

I am a proud feminist.  For me, being a feminist isn't really a choice.  It's a responsibility.
Skirt:  Target Petites (old)
Gender inequality in my own culture and society and around around the world is so often the root of violence towards and oppression of women and of non-conforming men and transgendered individuals. 

While there have been strides towards equality, I am inundated on a daily basis with examples of gender inequality in action from the murder of a young woman in Turkey who was killed trying to fight off her rapist to poor working conditions for women to a certain popular novel and film widely thought to glorify abusive relationships.

With so many examples of sexism in action on a daily basis, it's clear that the patriarchal system that supports such inequality hasn't really gone anywhere, despite changes in the last century.

Being a feminist is being an advocate for the fair and equitable treatment of all people regardless of sex or gender identity.   At its core is the common humanity that we all share.  We are inherently equal no matter what, and we deserve to be treated as such in our personal relationships, by others in our societies, and by the institutions that control our everyday lives.

T-shirt:  Zazzle (Available here)
But as a feminist, I'm certainly aware of the negative connotations that the word can carry. 

Part of that negative stereotype is of a man-hating woman who is generally unattractive, often fat, hairy-legged, and a laundry list of other physical characteristics deemed less than desirable in our culture.  

While I will gladly argue that most of these traits aren't necessarily "negative" in the first place, this caricature of feminists serves to perpetuate the inequality that feminists would fight. 

First, it assumes that men aren't feminists. 

If you believe in the social, economic, political, and cultural equality of men and women, congratulations, you're a feminist!  No vagina required!
Sweater:  Target
This caricature of feminists as physically unattractive works to preserve the beauty myth while making feminists look like unsuccessful women, women who simply lost at the game of playing gender.  Only women who couldn't hack it as "real" women (i.e. slender while still curvy, perfectly coiffed, etc.) would resort to feminism, right?  Over the years, I've heard that feminists are losers, lesbians, ugly, and mentally disordered, among other things.
Boots:  Target (Purchased used from eBay)
This erroneous line of thinking has been used by the dominant culture to make it easier to discount feminists and to discourage women from identifying themselves as such.  It keeps women from wanting to associate themselves as feminist for fear of being less acceptable in the culture.

The stereotypes used to turn people away from feminism are in place for the very reason that feminism is still needed.

Women are taught from a young age that we must constantly worry about our appearance and devote tons of time, money, and personal effort to maintaining said appearance.  We are told that in our natural states, we are unattractive.

Necklace:  JC Penney
While the war against women's body image is only one small part of gender inequality, it is one that affects so many women from all walks of life.

It certainly has affected me.  Due to my love of fashion, I found myself absorbed in fashion magazines from a very young age, and I pored over the images of airbrushed and digitalized women, not understanding that the women who these images were supposed to represent didn't even look like the pictures.  Cindy Crawford has famously said, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford"!

Clutch:  The Limited
I was led to believe in a false ideal of perfection, and it has taken me a lifetime to recover.  I'm still recovering.  I bought into the beauty myth hook, line, and sinker, and despite all of my gender studies education, despite my own rational mind, despite everything I knew, I accepted it.  I allowed the myth of perfection to overtake my life and affect my perceptions of my body and ultimately, myself.  My self worth was so tied into what I looked like that I let my appearance overshadow everything else great about me.

Over the last few years, I've found myself stepping away from fashion magazines and turning to bloggers of all shapes and sizes as a way to get my fashion fix.  I've continued to teach myself that my value as a human being isn't about my surface.

I am at the best place in my life in regards to my self-esteem and body confidence. 

100% cured from the damage caused by society? 

No way, but such amazing progress nonetheless.

And today, I celebrate that growth by the wearing of this shirt.
Bracelets:  The Limited, Ann Taylor
You see...over ten years ago, while reading a fashion magazine, I ran across an article on Ashley Judd.  She discussed her feminist views, and the article contained a photograph of her wearing a t-shirt with the phrase, "This is what a feminist looks like."

I immediately was drawn to the message, and I wanted a similar shirt.  But, something stopped me.

At the time, I thought the whole point of the shirt was to dispel the myths that feminists were only physically unattractive (as if that would be such a bad thing, anyway). 

Of course, Ashley Judd could wear a shirt like this.  She was thin and beautiful, and she was the perfect poster woman for such a message.

Ring:  Purchased at local jewelry show
But what about me?

I was short, a tad overweight.  I wore glasses.  I wasn't pretty enough.

Would wearing such a shirt reinforce the stereotypes of feminists as unappealing?

Who did I think I was to suggest that I was attractive and therefore a deserving face of the feminist movement?

Oh, I look back now, and my heart hurts for the insecure young woman I was.  And I realize now that I missed the whole point of this slogan.

Feminists come in all forms - male, female, and intersex.  Some of us are cisgender.  Some of us are not.  We identify sexually in different ways.  We are of different heights, hair colors, skin colors, body types and sizes, and physical abilities. 

Feminists are people who believe in the unwavering equality of human beings and are willing to stand up against the tyranny of sexual and gender oppression.

Yes, I am a feminist.
Earrings:  New York & Company
And this is what a feminist looks like!!!

Read more of Ashley Judd's views here.

A note on the shirt.  I'm wearing an XL, and the printing appears smaller on my shirt that on the web site.  Looks like the screen print is one size, so it will appear smaller on larger sized shirts than the smaller sizes.  Had I realized, I would have chosen one of the larger print options.

For the skirt in other looks, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

For the sweater in other looks, see here, here, and here.


It's Only Rock-N-Roll...

For casual weekend and evening looks, I love outfits that have a little bit of a rock-n-roll vibe. 
Dress:  H&M (Available here)
This outfit, with its mix of metallic accents, fringe, easy shift, and moto style jacket, definitely has a rocker feel.  I love that this look would work for an evening out at a bar, club, or concert but could also work for daytime due to the overall casual feel.
Jacket:  eShakti (Sold out on-line)
Booties:  Target
While I'm completely loving this look now, it did require some alterations.  The jacket is from eShakti and was custom fit.  The jacket is a wool blend, high quality, and warm!!  I went with the above hip length, and the fit was great except for the sleeves.
Purse:  The Limited
Cuff:  The Limited
I tend to find sleeves one of the more difficult parts of fit.  I have bigger upper arms, but they narrow down quickly, which means that sleeves are often too wide for me.  I decided to take this jacket to the tailor and get the sleeves narrowed down a bit.  The difference is subtle, but it creates an overall slimmer silhouette that I prefer.  
Slimmer Sleeves on the Jacket
The H&M dress, which was designed to have an easy shape, was definitely made for a taller woman, and the overall fit was quite off.  But, I loved the dress, and I knew that the alterations would actually be fairly simple.  
I promise I wasn't trying to look high in the before pictures. LOL
Dress shortened
Arm Holes Sewn Up
I had the sleeves/underarms taken up to cover my bra and to create a slimmer fit in the chest and upper torso.  I also had the dressed hemmed up, which created a more flattering shape and length for my body type.  I may even take it back to the tailor to go a bit shorter.
Necklace:  Shoxie.com
Ear cuff:  Torrid
The difference that tailoring has made to this dress is striking, and now I'm just trying to think of more excuses to wear it.  I'm also longing for warmer days where I can rock this dress with bare legs like I am here. 

Did I say I hate winter?  LOL

Are you a fan of shift dresses?  Would you wear so much metallic for day?



The wonderful bloggers participating in #UnconditionalBodyBeautiful are back with a second installment in our series.  This month, in the month of love, we are discussing the heart of many women's bodies - the bust!
Skirt:  eShakti (Available here)
As I discussed last month and at other times on the blog, I haven't always loved my body, and truth be told, I still struggle with loving certain parts of it.  That said, my bust has generally always been a source of body confidence.

Blazer:  Eloquii (Available here)

Shoes:  Anne Michelle Giovanni (purchased from eBay)
Necklace:  Target
I remember wanting to wear bras well before I had any need for them.  Of course, with a sister three years older, I could sneak her old training bras and pretend!  As puberty began in fifth and sixth grade, and my tender bust began to grow, I felt excited.  In many ways, I equated womanhood with having breasts.  More than that, the idea of wearing bras was exciting! 

My breasts continued to develop, and I remember picking out pretty lace and brightly colored bras that made me feel a little sexy.  I think maybe wearing bras felt a bit like an equalizer.  I may not have had the most expensive or trendiest clothes, but I could wear a pretty bra.  It didn't matter that they were purchased from a discount department store.  

Belt:  Torrid

Ring:  shoxie.com
Overall, I was happy with my breasts, but I do remember thinking that my areolas were too large.  It feels a little embarrassing to even bring this up, but I really only wanted to participate in this series if I could be honest as I truly believe more honest dialogue by women about their bodies is sorely needed.  

As an adolescent, my areolas were a real concern to me.  I saw the breasts of my mother and older sister and would very seldomly get a glimpse of a peer, but I didn't have a lot of knowledge about the variation that breasts have.  Even though my mother assured me that all kinds of breasts were "normal," I still felt like perhaps my areolas weren't attractive.  I compared my breasts to Samantha Mathis in "Pump Up the Volume," Beverly D'Angelo in "Vacation," and to other women I would sometimes see in movies, and I knew my breasts didn't look like theirs.  I remember identifying with the breasts of Cordelia Gonzalez, the actress who played the prostitute from "Born on the Fourth of July."  It was the first time I saw breasts that looked more like mine, and this view gave me a feeling of normalcy.
Cami:  The Limited (Available here)
I had a group of friends in high school, but I was definitely not a popular girl.  I didn't date in high school, but I did have an awareness that even if boys in whom I was interested weren't interested in dating me, there were some who had an appreciation for my breasts.  Through the wonderfully immature gossip grapevine that is friends passing notes and asking questions to boys, I learned that at least a few boys (male friends) thought that I had a nice chest.  While worrying what boys thought probably wasn't the most progressive of me, I did actually receive needed body confidence from this knowledge.  There were boys who thought that at least part of me was attractive. At a time when I felt rather unlikeable, both in terms of my body and my personality, this was a good feeling.

Interestingly, in high school and college, the few compliments I recall receiving about my bust were from gay friends who weren't out at the time.  I remember being told by one friend how great I would look in a Renaissance-style costume, which I took as the intended compliment.

My breasts were not huge.  I was probably a 36C or D and I was overweight, but since I have such a petite frame, my bust definitely appeared larger.  I come from a family of large-busted women on both sides of the family, and sometimes, I felt like my chest was actually rather small.
Purse:  Forever 21
Earrings:  New York & Company
That said, I always felt like my breasts fit my frame.  I never really wanted them smaller or larger.  In my early twenties, at about 105 pounds and a full 34B, I remember my then-boyfriend telling me that a date of one of his friends had asked if I had breast implants.  She apparently thought that I was disproportionate.  While I've always had a fuller chest, I have never once thought that my body was out of sync in that way.  Throughout a lifetime of poor body image and negative self-image in general, my breasts were a source of feminine pride.

Weight gains and losses, having children and aging have taken their effect on my breasts, and I've watched them change over time.  Now, my breasts are at their largest ever, but as my body mass has increased, I still find them very proportionate to my body. 

I struggle now to find bras that fit me, and often I wonder back to my 10-year-old self and what I possibly could have been thinking when I thought that wearing bras was exciting!  LOL

Throughout my adult life, I have gone through occasional "bra-less" phases where I decided it was sexier or more natural to go without.  Even at my largest, I'm still not afraid to sometimes skip the bra if I feel the desire.  

Bracelets:  Target and Ann Taylor
While I've gotten a little more conservative in my wardrobe picks due to work and kids, revealing or hinting at my breasts, with or without the intention of being sexual in nature, has never felt like a big deal to me.  I try to stick to norms of professionalism at work, but I've never been one to care about errant erect nipples or other such issues.  Women typically have breasts - that's part of our biology.  Why should we have to hide in fear of eliciting inappropriate responses from men or worry about not being taken seriously because we have breasts?  

Being so petite, I don't have a ton of room between my clavicle and bosom, so sometimes small amounts of cleavage are an unintentional part of life.  For a while, I worried about this in relation to work, but now I just try to maintain a general conservative appearance and don't get overly hung up on a hint of cleavage.

I do tend to associate my breasts with sensuality, not necessarily sex, but with a feeling.  So, with that, I'm drawn to a slinky fabrics or the feeling that can be associated with a particular cleavage-bearing look. 

While I've had a few insecurities here and there about my breasts, they have more typically been a source of much-needed body pride, and at this age, I can unequivocally say that I LOVE MY BREASTS!! 

What has your relationship been with your breasts?  Have you compared your breasts to family members, celebrities, or peers? 

To catch up with the first installment of Unconditional Body Beautiful, see here.

For the skirt in another look, see here.
For the blazer in other looks, see here, here, and here.

Want to read more? 

Catch the other posts from the bloggers participating in #UnconditionalBodyBeautiful!

Rebequita Rose

Natty Nikki

Curves a la Mode

BBW Generation

Cool Curved Chrisandra

Katherine Hayward - My life with CP

Josofab's Curvesity World

Clothe Your Curves

Just Me Leah

Aarti Olivia Dubey

Beca:  Under Construction!


Black Pants for Work 2: Brocade

Today, I'm concluding my second series on black pants for work with another recent work outfit.  Here, I combined black brocade pants with a tunic length cowl neck sweater.
Pants:  LOFT Petites
The fitted pants work with the tunic length, and this was a comfortable and easy look.  During the winter, I can get a little lazy with my style.  I want clothes that are quick to throw on, and nothing is easier during cold weather than pants and a sweater.
Sweater:  New York & Company
Tote:  The Limited
Booties:  Target
To add more interest to such a simple look, I opted for the brocade pants instead of plain black and added the pop of plum.

Gold medallion dangly earrings accent the gold in the pants, while the sweater and simple black booties help tone the pants down enough for daytime work wear.

Earrings:  The Limited
What are some of your winter wear go-tos?

For the pants in other looks, see here, here, and here.
For the sweater in another look, see here.

To catch up with the rest of the series on black pants for work, see here, here, and here.
AND take a peek at last year's series for more ideas on styling black pants for work here, here, here, here, and here.