Style It Chic: Leopard Cardigan 3 Ways

Photos: Celebrities,; Runway Photos: Marco Madeira for; Scarf photo: Devon Jarvis for; Autumn Cashmere Leopard Cardigan. Style It Chic! Array by me.

Another Monday Tuesday, another edition of Style It Chic!  (Yes, this was supposed to post yesterday, but I just couldn’t get it done fast enough.)  It’s now the beginning of my one of my favorite months of the year!  In this post series I will be taking one item or trend and showing you how to emulate that look – for much, much less than what you might pay at retail.  I’d love to hear your feedback on what you think of this style of post!

Fashion inspired by our furry little friends is HUGE this Fall with faux fur and animal PRINTS populating retail shelves and Must-Have lists across the ‘net.  And a little pop of leopard definitely brings your Summer ensembles into Autumn with an amazing ease.  Add a leopard-print scarf, booties, hat, or pair of gloves for a little…or go for a lot with a voluminous coat.  I’ve donned a cardigan in my favorite hue of gray (Snow Leopard – yay!) [cardigan from Ann Taylor, scored on Ebay since they no longer sell it] and styled it 3 different ways below:

1. Eclectic Layered

(Hat: Christie’s Crown Series; Sequined Chain Necklace: Forever 21; Satin-Edged Cardigan: (worn underneath leopard cardigan) Old Navy; Mixed-Chain Cuff: Target (check the Clearance bin in-store!); 2 DIY feathered bangles; Hue reversible tights)

If your leopard layer is cropped or short-sleeved at all, go for the unusual by layering a cardigan or sweater underneath it.  Ward off the chill of bare arms by covering up with leg- or arm-warmers or elbow-length gloves for a retro-style look.  Pair pieces that are different colors and see what sticks – sometimes a mish-mash of hues works to your advantage!

2. Leopard-on-Leopard

(Leopard-print Bra: Warners, Twisted Chain and Rhinestone Necklace and Boyfriend Watch: Forever 21; Rough-Cut Quartz Heart Ring: gem & mineral tradeshow; Wire & Rhinestone Wrap Ring: Payless; Destroyed Jean Shorts: Hudson; Velvet Ribbon worn as belt; Hue footless tights; Steve Madden pointy flats; DIY Shoe Elastics)

Mixing and matching patterns is always a toughie – but what could be easier than going full-on double leopard?  The rules: wear no more than 3 pieces and only use at most 2 different colors and sizes of the leopard print.  Keep your other pieces in solid, coordinating colors to keep the eye focused on the print.  There’s a fine line between looking like you got dressed in the dark and looking cute and intriguing. (And yes, I’m showing my bra – which I usually don’t do – but in this case it’s super-subtle since the similar prints fool the eye.  If you’re not feeling as daring, then try a leopard camisole underneath instead!)

3. Downtown Cool

(Velvet Cord Necklace: bought at Michael’s in the jewelry section, Silver Bangle Set: Forever 21; Grommet Watch: Hot Topic; Lace-Edged Camisole: Target; Skinny Black Jeans: Alloy; Alloy Sia Wedge Booties – BTW there’s currently FREE Shipping for orders of $25+ with code AFS25A AND 15% off your order with code ALPW15B at!…if you can’t use both codes together at checkout online try ordering over the phone instead, I’ve had success with a rep allowing both codes to be used before.)

Sleek and chic is the name of the game.  Use as a light layering piece – over another huge trend for Fall 2010: LACE! – and play with the fun of prints with a minimalist commitment.  I’ve added a pair of skinny jeans and some super-wedges for an on-trend re-interpretation of urban chic.

Are you breaking out your animal prints now that Fall’s in full swing? How would you wear leopard?


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Style It Chic: Army Shirt 3 Ways

Photos: Runway photos, Marcio Madeira /; Jessica Alba photo found here; Forever 21 Silky Tie Belt Shirt; Nicky Hilton photo found here; Alexa Chung photo; Current/Elliott Perfect Army Shirt.  Style It Chic! Array by me.icon

Welcome another installment in my brand-new Style It Chic! series of posts.  (Can it have been a whole week since my last one already??)  In this series I will be taking one item or trend and showing you how to emulate that look – for much, much less than what you might pay at retail.  I’d love to hear your feedback on what you think of this style of post!

On the heels of last week’s Denim Shirt 3 Ways, I decided to stay with the shirt theme and this time take the green army shirt for a whirl.  Right now military-inspired trends are HUGE – just ask Lucky Magazine, Marie Claire, and Vogue for starters!  For Fall 2010 designers such as Burberry, Fendi, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta filled the runways with chic trenchcoats, shirt-dresses, chino pants, and button-downs, all in camo-inspired hues of olive green, khaki, and camel.  Paired with boots, shearling, and brass buttons their look is straight-laced uniform…but paired with some unexpected pieces it can be brought down to the streets and totally wearable.  With a thrifted olive green men’s shirt (going to the Army & Navy Surplus store would have yielded more authentic results, but alas I only had my local Goodwill, where I chose a man’s button-down shirt in that coveted olive green color) here are 3 ways to wear the army shirt:

1. Urban Chic
(Skirt: DIY’d from a Forever 21 skirt, similar base skirt here; Ring: Handmade by me, Doorknocker Bag: Deena & Ozzy from Urban Outfitters awhile ago, Tights: Hue, Heeled Combat Boots: Forever 21 awhile ago)

Shirt buttoned up and tucked in to a flirty, silky skirt.  A cross-body bag breaks up the mannish shape to the shirt.  Finished off with warm tights and boots for walking, this outfit works perfectly for sightseeing or a day full of being out and about around the city.  Collegiate casual at its best.

2. Layered
(Jacket: Jones New York which I’m selling here, Brooch: DIY, Ruffled-Front Blouse: Forever 21; similar here, Mirror Locket Necklace: Forever 21; similar here, Belt: Victoria’s Secret (came with a skirt), Shorts: Pineapple County)

Leave the shirt open and wear it under a structured blazer in a darker color.  Wear a neutral-colored blouse dripping with ruffles and chiffon, and bare some skin on your bottom half.  Vintage-style accessories sweeten up this uniform for a lady.

3. Trendy, Trendy
denim workshirt
(Mossimo Captains Hat, Leopard-Print Scarf: Handmade by Me, Yukester 2-Strand Gold Ball Necklace; Chain Necklace: Handmade by Me, Convertible Dress (Worn as Tube Dress): Norma Kamali, Belt: Icing by Claire’s, OTK Knit Socks: Target, Fur Legwarmers: Shibuya-109, Fergie Gallop Boot)

Trying on all the trends for Fall 2010!  Shirt worn open with cuffed sleeves in place of a jacket.  Leopard print scarf for a dash of the animal.  Gold accessories – marine cap – fur at the ankles – there’s a whole lot going on – so maybe picking and choosing what’s best is the name of the game.;-)

I have chosen not to alter the shirt to fit my frame – though you can do so with yours by following my tutorial here.

So how would you wear the army shirt?  Do any of these styles appeal to you at all?


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How To Re-Fit a Button-Down Shirt…To Your Size! Fitting 101

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

Tying in to my first Style It Chic! post from yesterday regarding the denim work shirt as current closet staple, in this post I’m going to show you how to fix that denim shirt you stole from your guy – or thrifted – into something that fits you properly.

As many of you know, I love finding both my materials and base items for my DIYs at the thrift store.  I’m always searching out the biggest, baggiest shirts (so I have tons of material to work with!) for my shirt re-cons.  Thus what I find is rarely pretty, and rarely fits.  It’s always the potential for a remake that gets me so excited.

So what to do with those shirts that you find – that you want to wear yourself – but aren’t quite your size??  You’re going to be keeping the sleeves and the length, let’s say, but why doesn’t the shirt look like it fits right?  And what to do? 

Can you tell what it is that’s making my shirt look too big in the above photo?
This brings me to my first Fitting Tip, the most critical for making your shirt look like it’s the right size:

Fitting Tip #1: The make-it-or-break-it “does it fit?” criteria is where the ARMSCYE SEAM HITS THE SHOULDER SEAM.
shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

I cannot stress this one enough.  This is what makes the difference visually between “she’s wearing her boyfriend’s shirt” and “she’s wearing a cute shirt that fits her.”

We’ve all tried on a guy’s shirt before, right?  And, invariably the seam connecting the sleeve to the shirt (called the “armscye seam”) will be hanging off our shoulders, lying somewhere on our upper arms.

This is a DEAD GIVEAWAY that your shirt doesn’t fit you!!

Even if the body is un-fitted, loose-fit, billowy tunic, whatever…if this seam is in the wrong place on your body then it will look like it is the WRONG SIZE FOR YOU!

When looking at yourself standing normally, this seam needs to be as close as possible to traveling straight up from your armpit to your shoulder, in a straight line.  (Raglan or set-in sleeves are different, and there is a little variation to be had when you’re dealing with a blouson, caftan, or loose blouse or dress but in general this seam needs to be in that basic area.)

The closer this seam is to going straight up from your armpit – the more fitted and chic the garment will look.  Even a t-shirt will look flattering and feminine if the sleeves are attached to the body at this line.

Fitting Tip #2: The body needs to connect close to your underarm for the garment to look “fitted.”

The body is far less important than this armscye seam in Fitting Tip #1.  There are more variations when it comes to the shape and size of the body piece, so words like always or never aren’t very useful here.  Again, in general if the body is too loose right at the underarms, the piece will look big and billowy on you, even if the armscye seams are in the right place.

So how to re-fit your shirt?

How to Re-Fit a Men’s Button-Down Shirt To Your Size


You Need:
seam ripper  //  marking chalk  //  pins  //  scissors  //  sewing machine & needle for the fabric in your shirt  //  thread matching the topstitching thread in your shirt  //  mirror

The Straight Pin Method: How to Move the Shoulder Seam of a Too-Big Shirt to Fit Your Body

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

1. Remove both sleeves by opening the armscye seams.  Do not rip or cut through either the sleeves or the shirt body.  Often button-down woven shirts have topstitched seams, so you’ll have to go through both rows of stitching to pull the arms off fully.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fittingshirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

Remove all the little messy threads from your ripping.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

2. Try the shirt on and button it up. Put one hand on your hip. Looking in the mirror, mark where your shoulder seam SHOULD be by drawing a straight line up from your armpit to your shoulder. Mark with a pin straight at the shoulder. (Note: I actually did this prior to taking off the sleeves, but it’s probably more logical to mark the seam after removing the sleeves. Oops.)

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

3. Take the shirt off and lay it flat. Sketch a line connecting the pin you marked the shoulder with and where the shirt hits at the armpit. (Make sure you “square” the line – which means that the line crosses at a 90-degree angle over the line of stitching connecting the back yoke. Add 3/8″ to the outside of this line. Draw the new armscye by mimicking the shape of the old one.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

4. Cut off the excess fabric. Fold the shirt in half, sketch around the edge of the armscye you cut onto the other shoulder area, and cut off the excess fabric on the other side as well.

The Mirror Method: How to Re-Fit the Body of a Shirt That’s Too Loose

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

5. Try on the shirt again, buttoning it up and putting it on inside-out.  Now the vest-like shape of it should look right – at least at the shoulder area.  Pin at one side to make it more fitted, looking in the mirror as you go, placing the pins as close as you can to your body. Drop your arm and confirm in the mirror that the shape of that side is now fitted and looks “right” for your body – not too tight, not too loose, and the shirt can move with you without constricting.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

Note the blue chalk “line of best fit” at the sides of the shirt above – the shirt’s left side blue line (line on the right) was drawn first by connecting the marks where the pins were. The shirt’s right side was drawn by copying the pin marks to that side. Some pins are still in the shirt to keep the side seams flat, not to mark the line of best fit.

6. Take off the shirt and mark at the pins. Copy your markings to the other side as well by folding the shirt at the center and pushing the pins through both sides, marking where they skewer the side without the pins. Unfold the shirt, lay it flat, and remove the marking pins. Draw a line of “best fit” to connect the marks your made.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

8. Sew along the lines you drew and trim the excess.  Now the shirt should fit your body properly.  (I’m wearing a shirt underneath, so it looks like it’s very fitted in the photo above, but it’s actually loose when I wear it as a single layer.)

How to Set Shirt Sleeves That Are Too Big Into Smaller Armholes

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

9. Now that the shirt fits you in the body, it’s time to reattach the arms.  Turn the shirt inside-out and place one sleeve inside it, right sides together.  Pin the armcap of the sleeve to the armscye of the shirt, all the way around.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

10.  Sew the sleeves to the body.  If necessary, topstitch both armscyes on the body side to re-create the finished look of the original shirt.

And you’re done!  The manly shirt (or too-big women’s shirt!) should now fit you pretty well – and not look like you just stole from your guy’s wardrobe.

Note: With this method it’s unfortunate, but the sleeves will end up slightly shorter than those of the original shirt. It really can’t be helped, which is why I try to find my big shirts with too-long sleeves if I can.

In some cases, when you go to re-attach the arms you will find that there is too much excess fabric in the sleeve cap to fit into your smaller armscye.  You have one of two options:

1) Make the sleeve smaller by sewing the sleeve seam closer together at the underside. (not pictured, but it’s pretty self-explanatory)

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

2) Match the sleeve seam to the shirt body side seam while pinning, and gather or ease the excess fabric at the sleeve cap to create a “puffed-sleeve” look.

shirt refit,alteration,sewing,fitting

When altering this particular shirt, I used Method #2 and ended up with sleeves that are slightly puffy at the shoulders.

This can be done with anything that has the sleeves set incorrectly for your frame: t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, button-downs, dresses – anything!!  Hope this expands your options when shopping at the thrift store and alerts you to fitting issues before you buy something that doesn’t fit you well!

denim shirt

Hope this expands your options when shopping at the thrift store and alerts you to fitting issues before you buy something that doesn’t fit you well!

Happy DIY’ing!


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Style It Chic!: Denim Shirt 3 Ways

Photos: Alexa Chung photo,; Ashley Olsen photo, Scotty Wilson/;
D&G and Chloe runway photos, Marcio Madeira/; Drew Barrymore photo, source unknown; Charley 5.0 denim shirt/Kitson; “…the denim shirt”/Topshop. Style It Chic! Array by me.

Welcome to the first of my posts in the Style It Chic! series.  In this series I will be taking one item or trend and showing you how to emulate that look – for much, much less than what you might pay at retail.  I’d love to hear your feedback on what you think of this style of post!

The denim shirt trend is still lingering as we head into the next season – and I love it!  It’s been so long since light denim was “in” – and though I know I’m late hopping on this bandwagon, it’s amazing how versatile and chic this piece really is.  I thrifted my shirt (who am I to buy new???!) and altered it to fit me better and look more flattering – which is essential in pulling off this trend well.  (Tutorial coming tomorrow, chickees!!)

For now, here are 3 ways to wear the denim shirt:

1. Denim-on-Denim
denim workshirt
(Jeans: thrifted Gap.  Sunglasses: From the Buffalo Exchange.  Watch: Mio Classic Select Petite Watch.)

As seen on the Chloe Spring/Summer 2010 runways.  Shirt buttoned-up but worn loose, paired with jeans in a different hue.  Sporty watch and retro sunglasses.  Kind of 80’s, kind of Jay-Leno-cool (if that’s even possible??!) – it can look really masculine, so add some girly accessories and do that hair!  (I, of course, didn’t – and you can see that the look is pretty questionable on me. What Not To Do!  hehehe)

2. Cute Cowgirl
denim workshirt
(Belt: From Japan like 10 years ago.  Crinoline: Retro store in downtown Portland.  Ruffled Bloomers: Ebay seller rabbitangelfashion.  Boots: Colin Stuart Convertible Boot in Cordovan color)

D&G – style!  Fluffy, peasant-style skirt paired with the shirt (tucked in or tied, of course!) and brown suede or leather accessories.  Western never looked this good.

3. Layered Edgy
denim workshirt

(Chanel-style Tanktop: DIY [my quickie tutorial here]; Leggings: Forever 21.  Shoes: Charlotte Russe from awhile ago.)
Shirt worn open with cuffed sleeves.  Loose long tank, slick leggings, textural shoes.  An edgy outfit provides the perfect counterpoint to the rough-and-tumble feel of the shirt.

So how would you wear the denim shirt?  Is this a trend you’d prefer not to try?  Or are you embracing it to the fullest?


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DIY Butterfly-Embellished Tanktop: Create Couture Challenge

Another project I submitted for Style Sample Magazine and New York Design Shop’s Create Couture Challenge.  (I’m getting around to posting them all…sloooowly….)

You Need:


*Large Iron-On Butterfly
*Mini Gold Pyramid Studs
*Large Gold Pyramid Studs

Additional Tools/Materials:

*1 tanktop (mine is Converse One Star Women’s Tanktop in White from Target)
*iron & ironing board

[prep: wash and dry tanktop to remove sizing and chemicals]

How to:

1. Iron Butterfly applique on to tank.  (Iron on medium setting by pressing on the applique for 10 seconds, then iron slowly, using pressure, in vertical passes over applique until it is fused to the fabric.)

2. Add studs to shirt, pushing prongs through fabric, and using pliers to fold prongs over on the inside.

And that’s it:-)

I’m all a-flutter in this cute little tank!


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