Style icons: Harley Quinn

I was pretty rapt with the Suicide Squad movie.  Even though the critics have kinda panned it, I really enjoyed the film. There can be no doubt that a huge part of my love for the film came from the presence of one of my favourite DC characters, Harley Quinn.  After seeing the film, I was so inspired by Harley’s awesome sense of style, and I wanted to dedicate a Style Icons post to the mad clown queen of Gotham City.

 

 

Mod Harley

 

There can be little doubt that Harley is the queen of colour blocking.  She likes large panels of bold colour, usually in a half-and-half style.  Her favourite combos are red and black and blue and red with splashes of white thrown in for good measure.  Her two-tone look even extends to her hair, often worn in pigtails with dip-dyed tips for dramatic effect.
Casual Harley

 

Harley’s outfits are usually form-fitting or scandalously brief.  She loves being the centre of attention so eye-grabbing pieces are a must.  But although you might want to touch, you’d better keep your mitts to yourself.  Harley’s relationship with The Joker is anything but open.  He keeps her on a tight reign, and while their relationship is pretty dysfunctional, there are also strong elements of dominance and submission present.  I really liked the way that bondage gear and winks to Harley’s BDsM relationship with Joker were woven into her costumes.  Her “Puddin” collar, ”Yes Sir” cuffs and “Property of Joker” bomber jacket all speak to her submission to Mr J.
Daddy's disco princess

 

It’s the tiny details that are key to Harley’s outfits.  She particularly partial to diamond shapes, which harken back to her harlequin-inspired costume in the original cartoon.  Jagged edges and circus-goth finishings are also perfect for a girl who is more at home on a tightrope or aerial silks than with her feet firmly planted on the ground.
Rev her up

 

Interestingly, a large number of items in Harley’s wardrobe are inspired by sporting apparel. From her triple stripe sneaker stilettos to her baseball tees, Harley likes to blend a bit of activewear in with her outfits.  This possibly has to do with the fact that her weapon of choice is a baseball bat (when she’s not wielding her comically-huge mallet).  Harley likes to match her baseball jacket with teeny tiny shorts and a liberal application of bling.
I’m head over heels in love with Harley’s look, and it’s so tempting to sprinkle a bit of madcap circus-gal fun into your own wardrobe.  You could quite easily add a few small touches, or go for the full-shebang in two-toned gear, a collar and booty shorts.  It’s up to you how far you take the look, but once you get going, it’s hard not to go a little bit nuts.
Are you a fan of Harley’s look?  Which parts would you like to incorporate into your own wardrobe?
Advertisements

Building a work wardrobe

When I began my first full-time job, I faced a fashion dilemma.  This was the first time I’d worked in a place that didn’t have a uniform, and I would be free to choose my own clothes for work every morning.  What joy!

My excitement was quickly dampened when I spent the initial hours of each morning fretting over what to put on my body.  I would stand in front of my open drawers scrutinizing each item and struggling to put together an outfit.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have enough suitable clothes, the problem was that I had TOO MUCH CHOICE.  I was overwhelmed by the options.

I decided that the best way to tackle this would be to create a “work wardrobe”.  I went through my current wardrobe with an eagle eye and pulled a selection of items that were work-appropriate.  I then bought a few basic-but-classic items to mix in with them.  My work wardrobe solved my daily “what to wear” dilemma and left me with enough extra time each morning to have another cup of tea before heading out the door.

If you’re facing a similar sartorial debacle, don’t worry.  Today I’m going to share my tips for putting together a work wardrobe that is practical and stylish.

Work wardrobe

 

First of all, remember that less is more.  You want to create a capsule wardrobe of carefully-chosen pieces.  You want enough to create a full week’s worth of outfits and not much more.  If you add too many items to your working wardrobe, you’ll be overwhelmed by choice.

 

My own working wardrobe contains a skirt, a pair of trousers, two dresses, three blouses and one jumper.  Everything matches everything else, so I can mix-and-match outfits from this selection.

 

To start with, choose simple block colours that team well together.  Look for crisp lines and simple pieces.  If you can’t resist a beautiful print, select a well-made blouse or jumper that can be worn with a plain skirt or trousers.  Dresses are also a great way to experiment with prints, because you don’t have to worry about matching them with anything; they’re an outfit all on their own.

 

Make sure that you select pieces that suit your body and that you feel comfortable in.  You’re going to spend a large portion of your week in these things, so make sure you feel great in them.

 

You don’t have to spend a fortune on your work wardrobe.  Look for items in your existing collection that will work.  I would recommend spending a bit more cash on some nice trousers or a simple skirt and then adding a few trendy blouses for each season.  Your basics will last longer and look more polished if you spring for good-quality versions.

 

Although it might seem boring to wear the same things every week, there’s an awesome way to dress up your work wardrobe.  Accessories will be your saving grace.  Never underestimate the power of an amazing pair of shoes, a gorgeous brooch or a unique scarf.  Use your finishing touches to change the look of your work wardrobe and bring a touch of personality to your outfits.

 

Don’t forget that you can still experiment with your hair and makeup to change your look.  I had loads of fun sporting victory rolls and red lippie with my basic work wear.

 

Resist the urge to add new items to your work wardrobe.  If items become worn-out, then replace them as necessary.  You might also like to add a few seasonal pieces, such as lighter-weight blouses for summer or pretty cardigans in winter.  Be selective about what you add to your work wardrobe, because if you make too many additions you will be swamped with options and you’ll eliminate the purpose of creating a capsule wardrobe.

 

I’ve found that having a work wardrobe made getting ready in the morning so much easier.  It saved loads of time and I knew that each day I walked out the door looking polished and put-together.

 

Do you have a work wardrobe?  What do you like to wear to work?

Should you wear white to a wedding?

I got an email from Lover.ly inviting me to weigh in on one of fashion’s biggest debates: is it O.K to wear white to a wedding?

To begin, I should point out that I’m not the kind of lass to adhere to fashion rules.  For the most part, I find  fashion guidelines a bit too hoity-toity for my liking.  Most of them seem to have sprung into being around the same time that our society decided that ‘thinner is better’ and are centered around making you look as small as possible.  Which is kind of pointless if you aren’t small.   I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being bigger, or smaller in some areas and bigger in others.  All bodies are different so what’s the point of trying to camouflage ourselves into looking like carbon copies of one another?  I prefer the motto of: wear what makes you happy.

DSCF6921

That being said, I’m kind of old fashioned about the whole “wearing white to a wedding” issue.

I wouldn’t wear white to a wedding.  I simply don’t think it’s appropriate.  If anyone’s going to wear white, it will be the bride.  The bride’s wedding day is HER DAY and for that day, white is HER COLOUR.  If she chooses to wear white, then I think she should be the only one.  In a weird way, I think it’s kind of rude to wear white to a wedding if you aren’t the bride.  It’s like stepping outside the boundaries of ‘guest’ and beginning to encroach on the bride’s sartorial territory.

The only time I would consider wearing white to a wedding is if I knew for sure that the bride wouldn’t be wearing white.  If the wedding is more informal and you knew that the bride wasn’t planning on wearing a white dress, then I think it would be O.K to relax the rules and wear white if you choose.

So what would I wear to a wedding if not a white dress?  Well, weddings are very exciting for me because they’re an opportunity to pull out all the stops and get dressed up to the eyeballs.  I have a lovely collection of dresses that are too fancy or special for everyday wear, and a wedding is a great excuse to grab one of these beauties out of the cupboard.

The last time I went to a wedding, I wore this vintage cheongsam.  I added patent leather shoes that were comfortable enough to dance in and funky textured hose.  The time before that, I wore an emerald-green silk dress and a hat with a little veil on it.  I feel that it’s perfectly O.K to get as dressed up as you like for a wedding, as long as you don’t wear white.

What do you think?  Should you wear white to a wedding?

How to clean second hand shoes

I get very mixed reactions from people when I tell them that I buy and wear shoes from second hand stores.  Some people are fine with it, but others seem distinctly grossed out at the prospect of treading around in someone else’s shoes.

DSCF8874

I can understand the reservations of the nay-sayers.  Shoes are the receptacles for all kinds of nasties, such as athlete’s foot and other types of fungus.  A well-worn pair of shoes can also be a bit smelly and sweaty, which isn’t very appealing.

Today I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of how I choose second-hand shoes and how I get them ready for a debut outing on my tootsies.

DSCF8597When it comes to buying pre-loved shoes, I’m very selective.  I like to choose pairs that look as though they’ve had little to no wear.  The less wear and tear the shoes have had, the less likely they are to harbour bacteria.  Also, shoes have a tendency to conform to the shape of the wearer’s foot with time, so a well-loved pair will probably be quite uncomfortable and awkward to wear.  Here are the things I like to check before buying a pair of pre-loved shoes:

– Take a gander at the soles.  Unworn shoes will have clean, unscuffed soles.  If the bottoms of the shoes are scuffed, dirty or worn-down in places, they’ve probably been well worn.

– Check the insides of the shoes for signs of wear.  Discard any shoes that have frayed in-soles or imprints of the previous owners feet.

– The instep of a well-worn pair of shoes may be stretched out or frayed.  If there are signs that the original shape of the shoe has changed (such as stretching around the toes or folding-down at the heel) I wouldn’t purchase them.

Once you’ve selected a pair of shoes that fit well and you’ve taken them home it’s really important to disinfect them before wear.  Even if you plan on wearing the shoes with socks or stockings, it’s a good idea to give them a good clean before their first trip out.  I use a two-step process to clean second-hand shoes before I wear them.

DSCF84111. Give the insides of the shoe a good spray with an anti-bacterial spray.  I like to use Glen 20, which deodorises and kills germs and bacteria.  It also dries clear without a sticky residue so it’s less likely to damage the shoe.  Be particularly careful with fabric shoes as the spray may stain or discolour the finish of the shoe.  Try to keep the spray confined to the inside of the shoe if you can.

2. After I’ve given the shoe a good spray, I’ll put them outside in the sun for a few hours.  Sunlight is a great anti-bacterial agent, and a bit of sun will help to kill off any residual nasties.

And that’s it.  After this process, my shoes are usually ready for their debut trip out on the town.

If you have any questions about cleaning or buying second-hand clothing, feel free to drop me a line.  I’d be happy to try to answer them.

Introducing Nessbow’s Personal Style e-course.

Hi there, gorgeous! Remember a while back when I mentioned that I’d been working on a big writing project?  Well, it’s taken a bit longer than I’d expected but it’s finally ready!

I have so many readers who write to me to ask specific questions about personal style and dressing in a way that makes them happy.  Although I love answering questions like this on my blog, I felt that it should put all the answers together in one handy little package.  And so, Nessbow’s Guide to Developing Your Personal Style e-book was born.

DSCF8683But a while ago I started looking at the e-book and thinking more closely about it.  Personal style is one of my greatest passions.  I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to dress in a way that makes them happy.  I believe that clothing is so much more than a covering for your body: it’s a form of self-expression.  The way we dress can have a huge impact on our self-esteem and happiness.  I wanted to delve even more deeply into the subject of personal style than I had in my e-book.

I wanted to write something that would be more instructive.  While I’m so proud of my e-book, it’s not as directive as it could be.  It gives plenty of great, practical advice, but I’ve had some readers comment that it’s a bit overwhelming, and that they didn’t know where to begin putting the advice into practice.  And that’s how the idea of penning my own e-course came about.

DSCF8562

Nessbow’s Personal Style E-course is a 30-day course that will change the way you look at your wardrobe.  It combines written articles, quizzes and videos to give you plenty of practical and theoretical advice for examining the way you want to dress and making your ideas a reality.  Each day covers a different topic, and there’s a homework task to be completed at the end of each lesson.  You can complete the tasks over the space of a month, or spread them out, doing one every couple of days or even one a week.

The course does cover some of the same material that was covered in the e-book.  However, I did a lot of research about the topics that you wanted to learn about, and I’ve included plenty of new material in this course.  In addition to covering basic information like building a wish-list, finding your style inspiration and cleaning out your wardrobe, there are also chapters on busting myths about style, discussions about why personal style is important and translating your dream look into reality.  I’ve included whole chapters on body image, self-confidence, fear of judgement and staying positive when exploring your personal style.  There’s a lot of new material in this course which I’ve never covered on my blog or in any of my e-books.

This e-course is the perfect way to dive into your style journey, or to re-ignite your passion for fashion.  It will walk you through each topic, so you don’t need to worry about where to begin or how to start putting the lessons into practice.

DSCF8498I should also point out that this course isn’t designed to teach you to dress the way I dress.  I recognise that everyone’s approach to fashion and style is completely different, and this course is intended to help you unlock your own inspiration and start translating that into a unique style that suits your personality and lifestyle.  I will be sharing my own secrets to confidence and organization, but the point of the course is that you should come out of it feeling comfortable and excited to start dressing in a way that expresses your own style.

The course is available for immediate purchase and download from my etsy store or via e-junkie on my e-book page.  It costs $10, and there are secure payment options available through each of the purchase pages.

I really hope that you enjoy this course and that you find it helpful and informative.  I had so much fun researching and writing it, and I’m really proud of it.

If you’ve got any questions at all about this course, please feel encouraged to get in touch with me.

Where to find cheap clothing.

So, here’s the thing.  I love having a wardrobe full of fun clothes to play with.  But I don’t have a huge budget.  So in order to be able to support my shopping habit and still afford things like food and hot water, I’ve had to find places where I can get awesome clothes on the cheap.

DSCF8066

So today, I’m going to talk about some of my favourite places to find cheap clothing.  Buckle your seatbelts, and away we go!

Op shops

Op-shops are probably the best place to look for cheap clothes.  Charity stores, second hand stalls and opportunity shops are bursting at the seams with budget clothing options.  It’s true that you might have to wade through piles of awful garments in order to find a treasure, but when you do, it will be worth it.  Op shops are also great for shoppers who love delving into styles from the past, and fashionistas who want clothes that are more unique than what you’d find in your average store.  If you want more information about thrifting, you might like to check out my e-book, Nessbow’s Guide to Second Hand Shopping.

Discount stores

I used to have a real problem with shopping at stores like Target and K Mart.  The fact that every second person on the street was sporting their clothes really turned me off.  I like to stand out from the crowd and the thought of wearing something that was on the back of practically every person in town did not appeal to me.

It took a while for me to realise that even if you buy something that’s commonplace, you can style it in a really unique way.  All you have to do is pull on a pair of fantastic shoes, add a vintage scarf and some handmade jewellery and nobody will guess that your gorgeous dress came from Big W.

DSCF7284

This entire outfit came from discount stores.  No joke.

Discount stores are also a great place to stock up on basics like plain-coloured shirts for layering.  Buying from discount stores is a good way to dip your toe into new trends without wasting a whole lot of money.  If you do find that you love wearing a certain style, you can always invest in a better quality version down the track.

Clearance racks

They’re messy, they’re crowded and they’re a pain in the neck, but clearance racks are one of the best places to find cheap duds.  You have to be very patient, flipping through the racks until you find something in your size, but you can save so much cash if you’re willing to put in the time.

Clearance shopping isn’t for you if you like to be outfitted in the latest trends.  But if you’re happy to wait a few months for the items to come on sale, then this might be a good option.  Get to know the retail ‘seasons’, which are different to natural seasons.  Typically, new-season stock will start arriving in stores 6-8 weeks before the actual season begins.  It’s around this time that the old season stick will begin to get marked down.  Visit your favourite stores regularly and get friendly with the sales staff.  They’ll be able to give you a heads-up when a big sale is about to begin.

Factory outlets

Factory outlets and sample sales can be a goldmine for fashion bargains.  Often, they only cater for very small sizes as sample garments are usually made as small as possible to save costs.  However, if you’re petite, then these outlets can be a fantastic place to stock up on cheap clothes.  While some of the stock may be damaged, most of it is totally fine.  Some of my favourite fashion finds have come from factory outlets and seconds sales.

Sample sales are also a brilliant place to look for shoes if you have tiny feet.  Many of the shoes at these sales are a size 5 or 6, so they’re perfect if you’ve got dainty feet and struggle to find small sizes in regular stores.

Friend’s wardrobes.

Never underestimate the value lurking in your fashion-forward mate’s closet.  While I don’t suggest hassling your friends to give you their best clothes, it’s worthwhile asking them to give you a heads-up when they’re going to have a wardrobe clear-out.  Before they throw away/ donate/ sell their cast-offs, ask if you can have a look to see if there’s anything there that might work for you.  Your friend will probably be relieved if there are a few less items for them to dispose of, and you’ll walk away with a bunch of new threads.

DSCF5658That gorgeous pink scarf came from one of my bestie’s wardrobes.

You can also do this with your mum’s or grandmother’s wardrobes.  I’ve got so many gorgeous pieces that used to belong to some of my relatives, which I’ve re-styled and given them another run around the block.

Where do you shop for cheap clothes?  Any tips that you’d like to share?

Fashion for petite ladies.

One thing that you might not have realised (even if you’ve been reading this blog for a while) is that I’m a bit of a shorty.  My height isn’t something that comes across in my outfit photos.  I stand at just over 5 feet, so I’m on the small side.  I’m also quite slender, and sometimes the combination of being short and skinny makes it tricky to find clothes that fit.

You see, most clothing brands seem to assume that if you’re thin, you’re also tall.  So while I might be able to buy clothes that fit my waist or bust, I often find that sleeves are ridiculously long or pants drag along the ground.

DSCF7461

See these jeans?  Well I had to chop about six inches off the bottom and I still have to wear them with heels.

In my vast shopping experience, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for finding clothes that fit petite ladies.  You might find some of these tips helpful if you’re small all over, and some of them will still help out ladies who wear a larger size but are short in stature.

 

– Embrace second-hand stores.  I find it much easier to find small sizes in op-shops and vintage stores because clothing sizes have increased with time.  Also, second-hand stores are often stuffed with hand-made items, which tend to be a more realistic fit than chain-store clothes.

 

– Take a look in the children’s department.  I always find it so hard to find jeans that are the right length, and the kid’s department usually yields good results for me.  If I buy a pair of jeans in a kid’s size 14 or 16, they tend to fit well and they don’t drag along the ground when I wear flats.

 

– Make friends with a tailor.  That way you can buy things that are too long and have them hemmed and altered.  It will cost a little bit more, but it will be worth it.  Alternatively, if you are handy with a sewing machine you can do these alterations yourself.

 

DSCF7391

These pants are second hand, handmade and are the perfect length for me.

– Embrace skirts and dresses.  It’s much easier to find these in a length that won’t swamp your frame.  Try buying ‘midi’ length dresses and wearing them as maxis.

DSCF7502

This skirt is supposed to be knee-length.  It’s a maxi when I wear it.

– Take a look at asian clothing stores.  When I lived in Melbourne, there were a couple of Japanese and Korean clothing stores that I absolutely loved.  Their clothes were made for smaller women, and therefore were often a better fit on me than clothes from western chain stores.  Do keep in mind though that these clothes are often cut for a very up-and-down shape, so if you’re a bit busty or you’ve got curvy hips, it might be tricky to find things to fit.

– Visit factory outlets and sample sales.  Designers often make sample garments in very small sizes in order to save cash.  You can buy samples at a highly discounted rate too, so it’s good for your wallet.  I find that factory outlets are particularly great for ladies with very small feet, as they have loads of tiny shoes available.

– Try wearing shorts.  It’s so much easier to find shorts that fit petite ladies, and there are so many different styles available.

Do you have any tips for finding clothing for petite ladies?