No Longer Grey

The sartorial experiments and ramblings of a girl named Sarah

Dressing for a Cocktail Party: To LBD, or Not to LBD

by Sarah on January 18, 2019, one comment

When you’re a kid, going to a party means wearing either clothes you can get cake on or clothes that you would wear to sit for a 1950’s family portrait. When you’re a teen, it means wearing shoes people can step on and a jacket that can get lost in some frat basement. But with adulthood comes complications, and nothing is more complicated than the ambiguous “cocktail attire”. What’s a girl to do? Even though I’m not technically of cocktail age, cocktail party clothing doesn’t require an ID. Read on for some tips on how to nail the perfect party look.

  1. Check the invite in the off chance that the perfect outfit formula will be printed on the back. When it’s not, consider the season, the venue and time of day of the fiesta. Plus, if the invite was over email, it’s probably a less fancy party than one with a calligraphied invitation. Also be sure to RSVP, because the least fashionable thing is to show up unannounced.
  2. Consider the LBD. It’s appropriate for every season, every event, yada yada yada. In the summer, a lighter fabric is in order, while in winter, velvet and brocade reign supreme. With an LBD, it’s all about the styling. Necklaces, statement earrings, big rings and barrettes (for a look at some serious bling, click here) can all help to refresh a simple dress. My personal favorite option is a pair of wild shoes.
  3. If you decide to reject the LBD on the grounds that you think can do better and it’s worth it to at least consider another option, try literally any other dress (unless you have a really really perfect LBD and/or are terrified of spilling drinks on yourself and always wear black to protect against that eventuality). But if you’re anything like me, this is the moment you’ll realize you don’t own any non-black dresses. Resolve to fix that and look for other options.
  4. Try a suit. After all, the guys at the party will wear one, so why shouldn’t you? A dark suit if you’re looking for something sleek, a brighter one if you want to stand out a little more. An unbuttoned silk shirt underneath always looks chic, or a lacy cami for a more feminine take. If Hillary can do a pantsuit, so can you.
  5. Reject the pantsuit because you maybe look a little too much like Hillary. Save the pants and go for a blouse or button down up top. Add some dangly earrings and a swipe of lipstick. With a more masculine outfit, heels never go amiss to make the look a little more girly. Don’t be afraid to play with a little color. I’m a big fan of neutral colors, but pull a Samantha Jones and get some color up in there.
  6. Wonder whether or not you’re actually pulling off your outfit and probably end up in an LBD. C’est la vie.

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Never thought I would say this…

by Sarah on January 12, 2019, one comment

sweater- Everlane, jeans- Levi’s, shoes- Everlane

… but I’ve been craving color in my outfits lately. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Pantone’s color of the year, Living Coral, is a vibrant pinkey orange. Mustard, baby blue and blood reds have walked the runway in men’s fashion week. My instagram following feed has gone from minimalist black and white to sugarey pastels, dazzling sunset tones and bold jewel tones. The fashion world is emerging from color minimalism, and I love it. This sweater is a celebration of color, in a gorgeous sugary cool toned pink. It feels like wearing an eternal blush.

Will 2019 be the year of color?

Cream and Taupe and Beige All Over: Adventures in Neutral Outfitting

by Sarah on December 28, 2018, 2 comments

shirt- vintage, pants- Everlane, shoes- Everlane, jacket- thrifted

Beige is possibly the least appealing word in the English language. It’s the lexical version of the waiting room in a dentist’s office or a pair of stretched out socks doomed to reside in the back of a dresser. The color itself seems like the most boring color in the world, surely in need of some sartorial condiments to make things interesting. Because of this, at first it would seem counterintuitive to style beige with more beige. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right. However, two beiges can make a killer outfit. Here are some tips for how to pull off head to toe neutral.

Break it up

The key to a successful neutral outfit is contrast, so even if it’s not in terms of color (the traditional way to add contrast), create contrast through other mediums. The best neutral outfits use a range of textures, all designed to break up the appearance of the outfit. Different finishes – glossy vs matte, knit vs silk, pebbled vs smooth all will help break up your outfit.

Beige doesn’t have to be beige

There are a lot of neutral browns. Camel, khaki, mauve, cream, white, eggshell, caramel, chocolate, the list goes on and on. Find out what looks good on you and which shades you think are pretty, and work from that color palette. Using different tones in the same color family helps keep a monochromatic outfit from being too completely monochrome. Tonal contrast guides the eye through an outfit in the same way contrasting colors can. Here, I’ve got gold, cream, camel, dark brown, caramel and rusty brown represented, but there are hundreds of other shades too.

Play with proportions

One color outfits can look blob-ish if not done correctly. The key is to have clear dividing lines between pieces, so that they don’t flow into each other and become a melted mess of beige. Do a half or whole tuck, layer a sweater over a different colored button down, cuff your sleeves and pant legs. Even just adding a shoe with a bit of a heel can change up the proportions, so don’t be afraid to try a heel.

Add the bling

You don’t have to be a diamond expert to know that a little sparkle can turn around an outfit. Earrings, some layered necklaces, even a funky pair of socks can help add interest to a simple look. Plus, throw on a scarf (remember that the way you wear your scarf matters) for some added textural interest.

Convinced, or not quite ready to put on a latte/ chicken nugget/ cinnamon roll costume that a taupe outfit really is? Let me know in the comments!

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Sustainability or Self Interest?

by Sarah on December 21, 2018, no comments

jacket- Everlane, scarf- Urban Outfitters, sweatshirt- local

My favorite winter puffer is made from recycled plastic bottles- 47 of them, to be exact. I make sure to tell this to everyone who compliments the coat. I’d like to think that its plastic bottle past does make it a nicer jacket, that the jacket’s worth goes beyond its aesthetics to include the sum of its parts. I also think the coat’s origin in a factory in Bac Giang, Vietnam that also made uniforms for the 2014 Sochi Olympics makes it more valuable, that the fact that $18.43 of the dollars I spent on the jacket went to the employees of the factory. The jacket fills a purpose, to keep me warm and have pockets big enough to schlepp around my stuff, but it also fills my need to be contributing to a “sustainable” clothing company. And every time I tell people it’s made from plastic bottles, I’m not just extolling a technological marvel, I’m also saying “this is what I care about.”

Do I care about sustainable fashion because I care about the earth, worker’s rights, the evolution of the fashion industry? Or do I care about it because I want to be the sort of person who cares about those things? And better yet, do brands that claim to be “sustainable” do so because they truly think it’s valuable, or because they want to appeal to a target customer who prizes those issues?

It’s been a big couple of years for sustainable fashion. With the rise of brands like Everlane, Reformation, H&M Conscious, Amour Vert, Grana and so many more, it seems like everybody has a “Sustainability” tab on their website. Transparency, in pricing, environmental impact and working conditions is becoming the new norm. This is all good stuff. Informed consumers can make informed choices. And in a market with a lot of very similar goods, brands that are coming up with sustainable innovations can become more appealing to consumers, setting themselves apart from the pack. If all brands act the same, but a few new ones come in with more appealing prices/ policies/ goods, it drives every brand to change.

But these brands aren’t sustainable angels. After all, they’re businesses, and the first rule of economics is that everyone is inherently self interested. Though they may be driven by a desire to create positive change within the fashion industry, sustainability is also an increasingly good marketing strategy. I’m more likely to buy something if it’s made “sustainably”, and apparently enough people think similarly that even big brands like H&M are feeling the pressure to change, to create their own sustainability promises.

And maybe it doesn’t matter if self interest or genuine desire for positive change or both are the motivating factor. Because at the end of the day, it’s all positive change. But it also makes it important for consumers to be critical. After all, the word sustainable isn’t regulated, and it’s much easier to claim to be sustainable than it is to actually be sustainable. We’re not at the point yet where everything is sustainable. We’re far from it, and I’m not sure if that point will ever really exist. After all, the best kind of consumption (for the earth, at least) is generally of the minimalist sort, and even if your shirt is compostable, it still might end up composting away in a landfill.

As the new year approaches, I’m contemplating how I want to consume fashion in the new year, and what sustainable consumption should look like. I’d love to hear your thoughts- let me know in the comments. How do you consume fashion, and what do you think brands should be doing in terms of sustainability?

The Pink Shirt

by Sarah on December 2, 2018, one comment

shirt- thrifted Gold Hawk, jeans- thrifted Lawman

Some clothing pieces can only be described in 1950’s era language. This shirt is one of those, because it’s simply divine. It’s a late afternoon coffee (invigorating) followed by a long walk in the city (chilly but beautiful) and a night in with a face mask and bubble bath (indulgent). It’s made of buttery silk and little tiny Marie Antoinette-esq fabric covered buttons. I fell in love the moment I saw it, added a few stitches to make it fit better, and promptly didn’t wear it for several months.

Because as divine as this shirt is, it’s also fussy. It’s got tiny little straps that are impractical for all but the hottest of weather but it needs to be paired with a big pair of pants to balance out its delicate proportions. The time it can be practically worn is limited to three days a year. I also wasn’t quite sure about the color. The pink is truly divine, but not a color I know what to do with. So I let it sit in my closet, brought it to college only because I felt bad that I hadn’t worn it in two months of ownership.

But then I woke up one day and it didn’t seem like an impractical object, but rather like the only practical piece in my closet, the only thing I wanted to wear. I put a big sweater on over it, but wore the pink shirt for the entire day. And it felt amazing, lovely, divine.

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.