Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: From The IRA to Rachael Ray

Taken from

            Tuesday’s social commentary was a bit fashion oriented, so it seems only fitting that Friday’s fashion commentary would see a bit of politics. Shit this good just doesn’t happen every day. On Wednesday of this week there was quite an uncomfortable shaking of hands. THE Queen, Miss Elizabeth, the 86 year old purely decorative leader of the UK, met with former IRA Chief Martin McGuinness in Belfast. For those of you unaware, Northern Ireland, unlike Ireland, is still part of the UK. If you are young, you may not have good memory of at least one [terrorist] bombing almost every year between 1969 and 2001 (some years having several) by members of the IRA and Provisional IRA in attempts to break Northern Ireland away from the UK. Martin McGuinness is credited with being in control when one of the Queen’s cousins was killed, just to give an idea of the tension. On to the superficial.
            Did you SEE what the Queen decided to wear to this event?????? You can’t miss it, it’s right up at the top of my blog (I took it from The Globe And Mail and couldn’t find any copyright info, so sorry if I’ve stepped on toes!). Here’s a link to another Associated Press photo that I can not afford to buy the rights to post. I can just hear her thoughts as she chose her outfit. “Well, I realize that for hundreds of years my ancestors have been terrorizing the Irish, treating them as peasants and forcing them to migrate to other nations. As an act of good faith for this meeting with Mr. McGuinness, I think it would be best if I dressed like a leprechaun.” Beyond the fact that this suit is hideous, it’s tasteless. Wouldn’t you agree? If it were a darker forest green, I probably would have thought nothing of it. But this is just really bad St Patrick’s Day decoration green. There is no way I am the only one who has made this connection. She’s a red hair dye job away from appearing on a box of Lucky Charms.
            Where do we go from here? I can’t say that I’m entirely sure. Leprechaun fashion isn’t really a trend that I’m worried about taking off. I would, however, like to address something I saw on Rachael Ray while at the gym the other morning. (I’ve moved away from the Dr. Oz side of the row of elliptical machines. I just needed a break). I don’t watch a lot of Rachael Ray; I thought she was mostly a chef, and her cooking doesn’t appeal to me so much. It seems that she likes to have a little fashion blurb on her talk show, and this particular one appeared to be about creating multiple outfits out of one piece for cheap. The guest stylist she had on the show suggested taking a men’s button down shirt (cheaper than a lady’s! the injustice!) and belting it over some pants and then, for evening, taking the pants off and exchanging the belt for a ribbon.
            I don’t want to start sounding like the No Pants Nazi, but that look just isn’t going to work. They showed the girl in her oversized button down shirt with ribbon from waist up and said “Oh, isn’t that cute?” Well, sure, from that angle maybe. Take that camera down a notch and no, it’s absolutely not. Everyone loves a shirtdress. They are sweet and comfortable. Tying a ribbon around a men’s dress shirt does not a shirtdress make. The thing about men’s dress shirts is that they are meant to be tucked in. They are cut longer in the front and back and shorter on the sides – shaped like a saddle. A real shirtdress is going to have an even seam the whole way around the skirt. Do you want to look like you walked out of your boyfriend’s bedroom onto the street high on Ambien? Or do you want to look like you got dressed before you left the house?
            I am all for discount styling, and I love using ribbons as belts, especially since tailoring is not usually at a high point in lower priced clothing. I’m going to use one of my favorite sales techniques right now. Since I’ve just nixed the idea of making a dress out of a cheap men’s dress shirt, I am going to suggest some better inexpensive options that can transform with a ribbon.
This is not a day to night option, but it is a wear it two ways piece. I love long stretchy fold over skirts because you can also wear them as strapless dresses. Of course, this is a trick that only works if you are fairly evenly proportioned. This skirt at Target is $24.99. Not bad. You can absolutely tie a belt or a ribbon at the waist to cinch this in and give it a bit more streamlining. Leave it hanging freely for a more casual cut or a beach cover up. Dress it up with glittery accessories and a delicate shoe, or keep it casual with colorful chunky jewelry and a wedge.
            Next! It’s getting pretty hot outside these days. It’s much too hot for sweaters. The air conditioning in restaurants can bring on quite a chill. What to do????? I have long been a fan of alternative forms of jackets. People close to me would question that statement, as I have often been told there is no understanding as to why a person would need to own so many coats. Regardless, to assist with the air conditioning chill I suggest a light chambray tunic such as this one from the Gap. It is $49.95, which is not a bad price for 100% cotton, especially since I’m going to tell you how to turn it into a sweet little belted dust jacket.
Now the obvious thing to do would be to just put the shirt on over your sleeveless shirt and tie the ribbon around at the waist, preferably with the bow off to the side. I like the asymmetrical look. What I will suggest is more cardigan like and will require two safety pins. Find where the shirt hits your natural waist and follow that point to the side seams. Put a safety pin in length-wise on each seam. Then take your ribbon across the back of the shirt, thread it through each safety pin as if you were going to bring it around the front and then instead fold both ends and bring them to the back. Now you tie the ends in a bow. This way you end up with a lovely little jacket that is tied open, so it’s not too hot, and drawing attention to the thinnest part of your midline. You can fiddle with where you place the safety pins. They may work better for some closer to the front or closer to the back.
I have scoured the Internet looking for inexpensive tunics and shirts that could be repurposed into shirtdresses, but to no avail. If you are handy with a needle and thread or a sewing machine, you could fix the saddle shaped seaming issue of the menswear shirt to a straight across hem. Otherwise, if that is what you are really after, I suggest buckling down and getting a shirtdress that was designed to be a shirtdress. Sometimes it is better to just invest in looking nice. You can’t wait around hoping that Queen Elizabeth will appear at the bottom of your cereal box to grant you a wish for the perfect cheap wardrobe.

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