Green and Yellow Brights

If it’s what’s underneath that counts, maybe it should be worn on the outside.

fashion ootd dress

The story behind this petticoat comes from a faraway unlikely place. Not too long ago, I traveled to Bolivia and explored the country’s sights and culture from dusty small towns all the way up to the highest capital city in the world. My style eye is most alert when I’m in a foreign land, and I couldn’t help but be inspired by the traditional “cholita” fashion.

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“Cholita” was once a derogatory term for indigenous women in Bolivia. Only recently in the last decade or so has this term become a source of pride and empowerment. Even as society modernizes around them, older cholitas as well as younger generations still maintain this way of traditional dress that harkens back to the Spanish Inquisition. It varies slightly by region, but in general their ensemble consists of a bowler hat, shawl, blouse, full pleated skirt, and multi layered petticoat.

I’ll leave the full traditional dress up to the experts – the cholitas – but I found a way to integrate a part of their fashion into my vintage wardrobe.

fashion ootd dress

While the cholita’s petticoat is cloaked under colorful voluminous skirts, I think it’s too beautiful to remain hidden. I may have worn it as a petticoat in my last chain reaction fashion post, but this time I’m showing it off – or at least one layer of it.

Wearing the petticoat as an outer layer, I complemented its cheery yellow with a punchy lime green dress that’s just as bright. The sheer fabric lets the right amount of green peek through, offering a color contrast to the intricate floral embroidery and scalloped hemline. It clearly is a statement piece all on its own.

fashion ootd dress

chain reaction fashion: July | June | May | April | March | February | January | December

My Pretty Petticoat

When I want to add a bit of body to my bottom half, I put on my pretty petticoat.

fashion ootd dress

Petticoats have a long standing history in women’s fashion. In vogue from the 1500s to the 1800s, this popular undergarment was worn under dresses. It added fullness to the wearer’s hips and rear, creating exaggerated bootylicious curves that was all the rage at the time.

As with all trends, the voluminous petticoat fell out of fashion to make way for slimmer silhouettes. In the 1950s, Christian Dior’s “New Look” made room for this historical undergarment to resurface back to popularity under full skirts and fit and flare dresses. Nowadays, petticoats are less common, but I still found a way to incorporate it into my chain reaction fashion.

vintage dress (similar) | Forever 21 belt (similar) | Bolivian petticoat (similar) | J. Crew heels (similar) | green necklace (similar) | vintage purse (similar)

fashion ootd dress

The petticoat adds some dramatic flounce to my citrus-hued 50s frock. With my lemony peep-toe Mary Jane pumps matching perfectly with my pretty petticoat, I found it hard to leave my skirt down.

I’m putting the flair back into fit and flare.

fashion ootd dress

Chain reaction fashion: May | April | March | February | January | December

One Shift Dress, Two Ways

Fashion Style Shift Dress

When is a shift dress not just a shift dress? I ponder the all-important question of whether or not I should keep my pants on for some shifty business.

Look 1: H&M dress (similar) | necklace (similar) | pashmina (similar) | vintage Levi’s (similar) | bangles (similar) | vintage clutch (similar) | vintage heels (similar) | Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar)

Look 2: H&M dress (similar) | H&M necklace (similar) | pashmina (similar) | Me Too heels (similar) |Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar)

Fashion Style Shift Dress

I love shift dresses for their easy shapeless silhouette, which seems to be made for a not-so-easy shapeless silhouetted gal such as myself. I wore this dress to a summer wedding a couple of years ago, and it was the best decision ever. While everyone else was restricted by their fitted frocks, I was able to let myself go at the buffet line until I passed out from sheer gluttony.

Recently, I was rifling through my closet searching for something summery to wear when I heard the familiar croak of my feathered friend. I had so much fun at that wedding – won’t you please wear me again?

Fashion Style Shift Dress

With a blueprint of a tropical paradise serving as the backdrop, the orange-beaked toucan and two birds of a feather in flight invite me into their lush oasis. Flowers and fruit come alive in tangy color pops as juicy as fresh squeezed orange juice on a hot summer day. Oh yes, I rediscovered this dress just in time for summer. But I have different plans for you this time around, my dear toucan.

I’m taking the “dress” out of the shift dress and ditching shaven legs for a roomy pair of mom jeans. The hem of my tropical shift meets my vintage Levi’s in a concrete jungle combination. I wrap my head around a head wrap with stacks on stacks on stacks of bangles upon my wrists. Meanwhile, the toucan is tucked snuggly against my waistband, his orange beak just barely peeking out to observe the world around him.

A tropical paradise in a pair of mom jeans. Shifty business indeed.

Fashion Style Shift Dress

Eyelet Blouse and Citrus Hues

It’s official: this weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

Fashion OOTD Vintage Dress

Once called Decoration Day, Memorial Day has been celebrated since the late 1800s, but only after WWII did it become a regular day of remembrance for those who have died serving our country.

Emerging victorious from the dark cloak of WWII, post-war American life was filled with a renewed sense of hope and vigor. Those who had contributed to the war effort either abroad or on the home front were eager to resume regular life again. Consumerism was at an all time high, along with a booming economy and baby making. Dior’s “new look” became revolutionary, and fashion was ruled by excess and the need to express conformity. Women had specific clothing designated for housework, lounging, errand running, and social gatherings.

Fashion Vintage 1950s Dresses

source: the people history

What’s considered conformity in one decade becomes individualist in another. Who knew that this post-war dress would find its way into the hands of a millennial? While this dress might’ve been the designated uniform for housework back in the 50s and 60s, it has certainly become my unique go-to dress for picnics and Memorial Day barbecues.

Fashion OOTD Vintage Dress

vintage shoes (similar) | vintage dress (similar) | vintage purse (similar) | Forever 21 belt (similar) vintage blouse (similar) | Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar)

Fashion OOTD Vintage Dress

The faded citrus hues of tangerine, orange, and lime still pack a cheery tart punch, garnering compliments whenever I wear it. With a retro blooming wildflower variety print that resembles 1960s wallpaper, I layer my eyelet blouse from my chain reaction fashion series over the classic fit and flare silhouette to create a completely “new look” of my own. The eyelet blouse adds a subtle texture contrast to the patterned print of the dress, allowing the juicy citrus colors of the bodice to squeeze through.

Happy Memorial Day!

Chain reaction fashion: May | April | march | February | January | December

Fit and Flare Floral Frock

fashion style floral dress

Though spring florals aren’t exactly a new trend, each season they get a refreshing makeover. Whether it’s big bold watercolor florals or tiny micro print flowers, no springtime fashion would be complete without mentioning these petaled pretties. And if there was anyone who admired the natural elegance and beauty of nature’s blooms, it was Dior.

Along with flowers as his muse, Dior pioneered the “New Look” in the 1950s, which is the fit and flare silhouette we know today. A far cry from the austere minimalist look of the wartime years just the decade before, the “New Look” embraced fabric fullness and a woman’s feminine shape. With a fitted bodice and a flared out skirt, it creates a flattering outline with a retro vibe.

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fashion style spring trends floral dresses

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fashion style floral dress

I bought this gently used, fit and flare handmade house dress at one of my vintage haunts in San Francisco. I imagine that it was once worn by an elegant lady of the house. She was probably a gracious host too, coordinating the perfect dinner party for her guests.

Although time has not been kind to this handmade beauty, I bet it was in living color at a time when Americans were still watching episodes of I Love Lucy in black and white. With a touch of sheen that has lost its luster over the years and a bejeweled belt with a few missing rhinestones, I simply adore the faded violet roses blooming on geometric square tiles. They tumble about in every direction like roses thrown on stage, as if I just gave the best performance of my life.

If April showers bring May flowers, then this dress must be it.

fashion style floral dress

I Get it from my Momma

“I’m turning into my mother,” is something I think about more frequently these days. If this thought has never crossed your mind, don’t worry young grasshopper, in due time it will.

I love my mom, but there are a few traits I wish I didn’t inherit from her. My propensity towards hoarding (you never know when you’ll need that!), my general indecision (I think maybe yes, perhaps no?), and worrying about the small stuff (there’s too many to name).

Yet for all the undesirable traits, she’s also passed off some of the better ones. Her strong attention to detail, her patience and kindheartedness, her artistic and creative endeavors. I learned to sew under her guidance and she gave me my first crochet needle which I still have. She taught me how to ride a bike when I was 26 (nope, I’m not too embarrassed to admit that). When I couldn’t convince any of my friends to attend a free swing dance class with me, my mom happily volunteered, and we danced under the stars in an unforgettable mother-daughter date. She has always been my biggest fan, urging me to embrace my creativity and travel far while I’m still young.

All too often I’ve seen her petite frame hunched over at the dining table, her small face behind wire rimmed glasses twisted into a look of concentration as she fiddles around on her tablet. She’s still getting used to technology. I look closely and see that fine lines have slowly etched themselves on her face. Her short hairdo, which had been jet black for the longest time while my dad’s turned white, has been increasingly salt and peppered more than I remember.

It’s safe to say that in her mid 60’s, my mom’s only style needs are comfort and low maintenance clothes that can withstand a little dirt from the garden or oil stain in the kitchen. Velcro Mary-Jane sneakers, faded mom jeans with the elastic waist band (she added that herself, thank you very much), baggy rumpled shirt, and a home sewn denim tote bag – this is her typical OOTD, all day, everyday. One wouldn’t know it by looking at her now, but my mom was once a very fashionable lady.

I get it from my momma: peachy in shades of grey | motherlover | i’m a hustler baby | dirty flirty birthday | I want you back | a turtleneck for the spring

Over the years I’ve pilfered a thing or two from her former stylish years, providing a glance into her past as each article of clothing holds sentimental value, igniting a memory from her past. She’d say things like, “That was my favorite summer dress,” or “I wore those shoes when I first stepped foot in Hong Kong.” There are probably a dozen other stories that lay hidden in the fibers of her old vintage threads, and every time I wear them, I feel a bit closer to my mom.

I know it always brings a smile to her face when she sees me sporting her old blouse or dress, giving new life to old pieces she once wore and loved. It’s as if she sees a piece of herself in me. For better or for worse, there’s no doubt I’m really becoming my mom.

Mom, if you’re reading this on your tablet, I love you! Happy Mother’s Day!

A Shirt Around the Waist

fashion trend OOTD shirt around waist

 My cheeks were rosy, and I was out of breath from running around to avoid being tagged. It was 1995, and I was playing freeze tag with my friends at lunchtime recess. With my back drenched in sweat, I removed my favorite periwinkle blue and grey flannel shirt during time out. I didn’t want to risk forgetting it on the bench, so around it went on my waist, double knotted at the front. And there it securely stayed, flapping against my legs as I ran until I was saved by the bell.

I was never a grunge kid, but when flannel shirts made a comeback recently during my adulthood, it was like a flashback to my grade school days. Trendsetting fashionistas and celebrities have been photographed sporting casual outfits composed of ripped jeans, graphic tee shirts, and combat boots. Of course, the popular flannel shirt found itself tied around the waists of nostalgilstas everywhere.

fashion trend shirt around the waist

sunglasses (similar) | vintage eyelet blouse (similar) | casual corner skirt (similar) | vintage paisley blouse (similar) | vintage Caressa Prestige heels (similar) | vintage watch cuff (similar) | vintage snakeskin clutch (similar)

fashion trend OOTD shirt around waist

Yeah, I’m a bit late reporting on this trend, but I never guessed the 90s would cement itself in the 2000s for so long. My periwinkle blue flannel graduated to the vintage paisley blouse you’ve seen from my chain reaction fashion series. With polished heels and tailored elements, I can embrace the shirt around the waist trend without looking like a grungy school kid.

chain reaction fashion: March | February | January | December

I eyed this pretty eyelet blouse in my closet whose feminine texture complements the pattern of the paisley button up that’s draped haphazardly around my waist. Strung through the belt loops of my skirt, the hanging corners of the shirt cascades lackadaisically, creating an A-line handkerchief hem silhouette that becomes a perfect contrast to the prim skirt.

With my shirt tied around my waist, I’m confident and ready to run into the open playground, for the world is my oyster.

Tag, you’re it.

fashion trend OOTD shirt around waist

D is for D’Orsay

Fashion Shoes D'Orsay

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Pumps, peep-toes, platforms, slingbacks, stilettos…with so many shoes to choose from, it’s no wonder I’m still missing a d’Orsay in my life.

A traditional d’Orsay shoe is a pump with a closed toe and covered heel. But here’s the kicker in these classy kicks: the sides of the vamp are cut out to expose the arch of the foot. These days, the d’Orsay style comes in a variety of heel heights and types such as flats, kitten heels, wedges, and peep toes to boot.

Shoes 19th century d'orsay

Edwardian silk d’Orsay slippers, 19th century

There’s something je ne sais quoi about a d’Orsay pump that makes it so chic, perhaps because of its French origins. It is thought that the shoe is named after Count Alfred d’Orsay, a 19th century French artist with an impeccable style. Once upon a time, men wore pumps, and a common problem they encountered was gaping on the sides due to wide feet and ill fitting shoes. D’Orsay came up with the genius idea of cutting out the sides for a better fit, giving birth to the dandy d’Orsay pump we know today.

D’Orsay pumps are considered to be a sexy shoe, but wearer beware, it comes with a price. To prevent the foot from slipping out, the shoes are sometimes designed a little tighter than usual. Combine this with the pointy toe, and your feet will be cursing merde in the name of fashion.

Cherry Blossom Girl

Konnichiwa sakura, when can I see you again?

OOTD Style Haori
It’s sakura season, and I can still remember the magic of being in Tokyo this time last year. The petaled pink pretties powder the treetops as crowds of tourists and locals gather for picnics beneath them. Even the most gentle breeze will send the petals flying, creating a delicate pink snowfall that envelopes admirers in their own little cherry blossom snow globe.

Japan is a place of contrasts, where modern meets traditional at the intersection of future and past. Ancient tranquil temples exist amongst contemporary bustling sky scrapers. Trendy restaurants serve up age old recipes, while high speed rail systems transport you in a flash from a sprawling metropolis to a snail paced village. Geishas in kimonos coexist with innovative street style fashionistas, while minimalist aesthetics ooze from every corner of Japanese design.

Japan left a great impression on me, and I couldn’t say sayanora without a keepsake to remind me of my wonderful time there. An authentic kimono seemed impractical, but how about a haori? A haori is a mid length coat that is worn over a kimono, open and unbelted. Originally, samurais wore haoris over their armor to keep warm, but it eventually became incorporated into every day wear.

OOTD Style Haori

It can be a challenge for a petite frame to wear something so voluminous. With full sleeves, a roomy fit, and hemline long enough to constitute a dress, a haori can be overwhelming. But if there was anything I learned from the street fashion in Tokyo, conventional style rules can go out the window of a bullet train to make room for experimentation.

It’s all about playing with size and proportion, and I decided to turn up the volume with a pair of wide leg trousers that rival the fullness of the haori’s sleeves. While the haori’s long length can make me look even shorter than I already am, the high rise of my trousers help lengthen the legs for days. The result is a simple, harmonious juxtaposition.

Haori (similar) | Urban Outfitters camisole (similar) | vintage trousers (similar) | vintage envelope clutch (similar) | vintage fan earrings (similar) | vintage leaf cuff (similar) | vintage heels (similar)

OOTD Style Haori

Incorporating Japan’s minimalistic aesthetic, I kept the accessories to a minimum, save for a few gilded accents. The haori’s delicate fan print and graceful flutter of the sleeves in the wind is a showpiece all on its own. Along with the clean lines of my pressed trousers, the unadorned look embodies the simple beauty that is a hallmark of Japanese design.

Although there isn’t a cherry blossom garden nearby, a eucalyptus grove I did find. At least they’re both trees, right? While the latter doesn’t provide any budding pink blossoms for me to admire, at least I can still marvel at their majestic heights and shedding bark all day long.

I am the last samurai of style.

A Turtleneck for the Spring

OOTD Style Fashion Turtleneck

As far as turtlenecks go, I’ve never been a huge fan. When I was young, my mom forced me to wear turtlenecks in hideous shades of pink and fuchsia. Maybe she believed they would prevent me from catching a cold. Or perhaps she was setting precedent for a modest way of dress that I came to embrace without question.

Urban Outfitters beret (similar) | vintage turtleneck (similar) | vintage Levis 501 (similar) | vintage Cameos pumps (similar) | vintage necklace (similar) | vintage bangle (similar) | vintage watch (similar) | vintage Coach crossbody (similar) | Urban Outfitters sunglasses (similar)

In my early 20s, I ventured down the turtleneck road again, and incorporated the high neckline into my working girl’s office wardrobe. I am willing to suffer a little discomfort in the name of fashion, but the turtleneck was in a class of its own. I gave it up after one season, as if its constricting nature was stifling my style.

But nowadays, turtlenecks aren’t as restrictive as they used to be, with looser necklines available in a variety of materials. Whether it’s cozy wool for the winter, lightweight drapey cotton knits for the spring, or even sleeveless ones in the summer, there’s a turtleneck for every season.

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OOTD Style Fashion Turtleneck

Like romantic relationships, you shouldn’t feel smothered by your turtleneck. I stole this vintage top from my momma’s closet, and while I can’t decide if it’s a turtleneck, funnel neck, mock, or maybe all of the above, alls I know is that my neck can breathe again like Toni Braxton. The loose fit and thinner material make it appropriate for this transitional weather, as we’re experiencing temperature swings left and right like hot flashes.

In keeping with the mom theme, I tucked my mom’s turtleneck into a classic pair of mom jeans, none other than the original Levi’s 501 button fly. A slim pair of pointy pumps helps streamline the otherwise dowdy mom look, while golden embellishments and a beret add a little flair to this turtleneck affair.

OOTD Style Fashion Turtleneck