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

C is for Cloche

I wear more than one hat, two to be exact.

hat_accessory_cloche hat

Contrary to what many people believe, the cloche hat was actually invented in 1908, almost two decades before the flapper era of the 1920s. Leave it to the Parisians to create something so chic and timeless, the word cloche means “bell” in French. Years later, as the Roaring Twenties kicked in full steam, it became the iconic hat of the Jazz Age.

How to spot a cloche hat? It’s all in the bell shape. Cloche hats are traditionally made from felt, though ones made from straw or cloth were not uncommon. Decorations were minimal in order to maintain the slim and trim profile of the hat.

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Cloche Hats

The fitted silhouette makes it hard to see because it covers the eyes, and for this reason it even altered the way women carried themselves. They literally had to tilt their chins up in order to see. The snug shape also playfully accented the short hairstyles that were so in vogue at the time, and was the ideal way to wear such a trendy accessory.

It’s been years since I sported a bob, but I might just chop off my long locks and embrace my inner flapper at the drop of a cloche hat.

hat_accessory_cloche hat

Springtime Hawaiian Florals

Spring has sprung, and I’m sprung over spring.

OOTD

D&Y hat (similar) | vintage Hawaiian blouse (similar) | vintage shorts (similar) | Bottega Veneta bag (similar) | Crown Vintage sandals (similar) | vintage wooden cuff (similar)

OOTD

It doesn’t quite feel like spring yet in the Bay Area, because our version of it means a healthy dose of cloudy grey skies with a chance of rain. Never mind it, I’ll just bask in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – that is, back to memories of my recent Hawaii trip.

I last wore this shirt when I had a serious case of the wanderlust. Luckily, this time around I actually got to play tourist while looking like a tourist. I lived out my fantasy of being mistaken for a Hawaiian waitress while brunching on a plate of guava chiffon pancakes. Yes, I was practically wearing their uniform, but what fools they are, those tourists! How could they not see that no self respecting local would be caught in a big floppy hat??

That’s all folks, quicker than you can say spring fling.

FOOD

palm trees

hawaii

D&Y hat (similar) | vintage Hawaiian blouse (similar) | vintage shorts (similar) | Bottega Veneta bag (similar) | Crown Vintage sandals (similar) | vintage wooden cuff (similar)

hawaiian florals ootd

Tonal Denim and Ornate Paisley

ootd chambray paisley

I’ve found a masterpiece in you, a work of art it’s true. And I treasure you, my OOTD.

Although the paintbrush and I have never been close pals, I guess I could still call myself an artist. A painter may mix paints on his palette to create masterpieces, but I also mix styles, patterns, and accessories to create the perfect OOTD in my chain reaction fashion series that even Bob Ross would be proud of. And in this case, an ornate splash of 1970s paisley over a denim color palette.

Chain Reaction Fashion: March | February | January | December

ootd chambray paisley

vintage paisley blouse (similar) | Old Navy chambray blouse (similar) | Levi’s jeans (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar) | White Mountain booties (similar) | Calvin Klein beanie (similar) | Urban Outfitters necklace (similar)

OOTD chambray denim paisley

I picked up this blouse from an artist’s studio of sorts. It was a small neighborhood cornerstone that always appeared perpetually closed for business, the window displays dusty from neglect. One sunny spring day it was actually open, with boxes of goods placed outside as if for a sidewalk sale. The owner sold knick knacks from the ghost of decades past – old vinyls, collectible toys, faded posters, and my favorite of all – vintage clothes.

“You’re welcome to go into the back, there’s more through that door,” the friendly owner said to me.

vintage paisley blouse (similar) | Old Navy chambray blouse (similar) | Levi’s jeans (similar) | vintage Dooney & Bourke (similar) | White Mountain booties (similar) | Calvin Klein beanie (similar) | Urban Outfitters necklace (similar)

OOTD chambray paisley

I tepidly wandered towards the rear of the small store, through an open doorway. It led to a surprisingly larger room that was sparsely furnished and in need of a clean up. Probably used as a storage space for the store front, it also resembled an artists studio for building Burning Man sculptures. I thought I saw remnants of what looked like the cross section of a rocketship, complete with three fins and a circled window. It seemed like the kind of space where dreams are realized and art comes to life, and also where I might find a rat or two.

Along with cans of old paint brushes, on a table hidden under a pile of fabric and clothes, I saw the sleeve of this blouse dangling out.

A little bit oversized, with a slight trapeze silhouette, it is big enough to throw over my outfit as an artists smock shirt, complete with side pockets. Perhaps it had a hand in painting masterpieces in its former life, and fate had spared it from being accidentally marred by paint.

With an ornate paisley-esque print in a color palette that is so 1970s, I couldn’t think of anything more complementary to wear underneath it than a tonal denim look, featuring my chambray shirt from last month. The resulting outfit reads off duty artist who turned in her wooden color palette in exchange for a vintage Dooney purse in hand.

I recently passed by the corner where the studio once stood and it appears vacant now. A faded “for lease” sign by the window is patiently waiting for another business to see potential in its space. I suppose the previous owner has launched himself into another artistic venture. Or maybe, to outer space.

B is for Brooch

Buttons, zippers, buckles, hook & eye, and velcro. Before the advent of these modern fasteners, there was the brooch.

brooch fashion jewelry

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Although brooches are merely just decorative jewelry pieces nowadays, they once had a utilitarian purpose. The earliest form was called a fibula brooch. Resembling a safety pin, it was used to hold garments together on the body. From the draped peplos tunics of Roman yore to the heavy cloaks in early medieval dress, brooches were used throughout history and in many cultures. Sometimes, even the design of the brooch served to reveal something about the wearer, like their rank or affiliation in society.

fibula / peplos / cloak

Eventually as innovation ensued, the functional necessity of the brooch was no longer needed. Yet the brooch still remains one of my favorite go to accessories to adorn the shoulder of my cardigan or the lapel of my coat. Vintage brooches can be found at thrift shops, but even department stores like Macy’s have great options for inexpensive costume jewelry.

With buttons fastening the front of my blouse, I can focus taking my brooching to a whole new decorative level.

1. All tied up: A feminine take on a masculine necktie, excessive accessorizing is key.
fashion jewelry brooch

2. Belt it out: A fabric belt or a wide ribbon tied around the waist will also do. The result is a burnished belt worthy of the wrestling ring.

fashion jewelry brooch

3. Beret, oh hey: A classic Chic Vic move, even the rookiest of broochers can pull this off.

fashion jewelry brooch

4. Off the chain: All you need is a chain with links large enough for the pin of the brooch to needle through. Voilà, that brooch has become a pendant necklace.

fashion jewelry brooch

And there you have it, the fascinating history of fasteners! How do you like to wear your brooch?