Daily Outfit: 9/26/11

Already Pretty outfit featuring Vivienne Westwood Pirate boots, red shirtdress, black obi belt, houndstooth scarf

Red shirtdress, Land’s End – more red shirtdresses
(LE did a shirtdress this season, but fit is different. Longer bodice/hem, skirt not as full.)
Belt, thrifted – similar
Boots – (can’t find them in this colorway) – Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boot
Bracelet, thrifted – similar
Earrings, thrifted – similar
Scarf, thrifted – similar

Today, I was lucky enough to guest lecture for Traci Mann‘s psych of body image seminar at the U of M. Just me and 20 college freshmen gabbing about Photoshop, models, push-up bras, how jeans fit, and the beauty standard. I absolutely adore teaching and had a fabulous time with this group, but they were a tough crowd. Smart, engaged, and curious, but a wee bit shy. And I worried that I was boring them. Must not have botched it too badly, though, since I got a hug at the end.

I’d planned to wear one of my plaid shirtdresses with this scarf and these boots to try my hand at a little pattern mixing, but SAKES ALIVE my plaid shirtdresses are SHORT. I mean, I was seated for nearly the entire class and I’m sure none of the students would’ve even noticed, but I just couldn’t do it, people. Perhaps I was overly cautious, but I knew I’d be more comfortable and focused in this longer, red shirtdress.

When are you most conscious of hemline length? Or neckline depth?

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  • eek

    I love how you have made this simple shirtdress simply rockin’!

  • Love that dress. And yes, teaching always makes me most conscious of my hem and necklines, and that’s my job, so, all the time.

  • Mia

    Aw, this is a cute sub for plaid shirtdressage.

    Funny you should ask about hemlines–I wore a new (to me) skirt today, and my exercise shorts weren’t dry enough by the time I had to leave so I just said “whatever” and hopped on my bike. Except whoa nelly this skirt rides up. I don’t generally wear skirts shorter than an inch or two above the knee, and this skirt is about that length, but because of the shape it climbs up to midthigh when I sit and gets even worse, apparently, on a bike. But, you know, it’s only fifteen minutes each way so I’m not going to fuss about going home. I’m pretty sure I didn’t flash anybody and it’s nothing to get excited over. (Funny how apathy has made me bolder in my style choices. Anxiety is tiring!)

    I definitely do get nervous about wearing shorter skirts to work, even if I have tights on under them–I ran around one day last winter in a (for me) teeny plaid skirt and black tights hoping I wouldn’t run into our department’s VP. I’m thinking I’m going to try and push it a little more this coming winter, though, because tights hide a lot of thigh imperfections and I do feel cute in shorter (if not obscene) skirts.

  • This may be a random question, but did you wear the scarf all day? I’ve got to imagine the fringe on it tickled anytime you moved and that would just drive me insane.

    • Sal

      I did! The fringe is incredibly soft and was actually tucked away from my neck.

  • Kat

    I am a classical musician–specifically, a bassoonist. The usual way you play the bassoon is sitting down, with a strap (usually leather or some other grippy material) extending from the bottom of the instrument for you to sit on and help support the instrument’s weight. It is a little awkward to wear a short skirt while playing in the best of situations, but get your skirt caught on that strap and it is very, very awkward. It is much worse for cellists, who hold their instrument between their legs! At least the bassoons are usually in the back. When I am seated in front of a group I am also very conscious of skirt length… especially since I don’t normally “sit like a lady” and am afraid I’ll give an unintended show.

    I have long legs and a well-rounded butt that pushes skirts outward, so anything more than a tiny bit above knee length feels awfully short anyway.

    Neckline depth–I never go out braless, so mostly I worry that my bra is showing rather than specifically about the neckline… anything that doesn’t expose my bra should be “safe”.

  • Laura

    I’m conscious of hems and collars when I’m teaching. Which is six days a week. I’m not a whole lot older than my students, so I need to reenforce visually that I am a grown up, that I am the teacher, that I am an academic resource, not an attractive person. My job is getting them to learn, and being distracting in my clothing choices doesn’t help.

    That being said, there are some adorable slightly-too-short outfits in my closet, so I negotiate. Flats and tights make a lot of borderline outfits work appropriate. Cardigans and chunky necklaces cover up some collarbone and cleavage.

    It’s a rare day that sees any bare leg for me at work.

  • Love those boots! I’m the same way about hemlines. I do the old-fashioned arm trick, if the hemline is above my fingertips, it’s too short for common decency lol.
    That dress is great btw

  • You *have* to feel comfortable, IMHO, when doing public speaking. You need to be able to focus on the audience, and not have niggling thoughts about hem or neckline. So I would’ve done exactly as you, dear Sal, and gone with a comfortable hemline (btw, I like the LE shirt-dress a lot, esp in the green). Very dashing scarf – I’d love it with my skirt today.

  • That red is a gorgeous color on your fair complexion! And I am the same way re: skirt lengths for work situations – I’d rather lean towards just a tad too long than the other way.

  • I had a shirtdress very similar to that one back in the 80’s from Speigel. It was la bombe. And yours is too! The boots and scarf definitely take it up a notch!

  • Sarah

    I find that unless it’s sweltering hot out, I can’t go much above the knee. I feel too self-conscious. I even feel weird if a slit hits my thighs. This winter I may try to get bolder with hemlines thanks to the safety of tights. Neckline-wise, well, I am a bean-poll body type, and I don’t find plunging necklines flattering anyway so I just avoid them. Actually, being a bean poll is a primary reason I dress fairly modestly… I don’t have curves to show off and would rather “create” curves with the clothes.

  • I love that you wrapped your scarf to the side! It’s so chic and fun!

    I’m most aware of my hem and necklines when I go to church or when I’m going around my boyfriend’s mom.

  • “When are you most conscious of hemline length? Or neckline depth?”

    Usually when it’s too late to change. =)

    Your guest lecture sounds like so much fun— wish I could have been there! Even if the students didn’t speak up much, you may have made a huge impression on them; years ago, a man (Peter D) came to my university to talk about how advertising manipulates women. Photoshop, anorexia, phallic imagery, changing beauty ideals… these issues are old hat to many of us now, but as a college freshman I was awestruck. Sounds like at least one of your students was, too. =)

  • I loove this outfit, well actually all of your outfits, but these boots kill me! Too faboo! I so enjoy the way you add your personality to each style and can take a simple shirt dress and add just the right stuff to make it extraordinary!
    Hail to the Queen!

  • Very cute, and amazing boots =)

  • Pretty much all the time! I’ve found that I am happiest in skirts that hit just above the knee (very flattering, minimal chance of being accidentally inappropriate). Cleavage-wise I am very modest anyway, but more so at work. My general rule for work is that if I lean over and you can see cleavage, it needs a (high) undershirt. For casual clothes, as long as my bra stays covered, I’m a happy camper.

  • What an absolutely ADORABLE outfit.

    I feel like once I hit 20 I went through this modest-phase. I used to feel fine running around in a cami and shorts, but now I feel like I at least need a decent coverage tank and a knee length skirt. I’m trying to get comfortable enough with mid-thigh skirts that definitely cover the bum. I’m usually fine with deep V/scoop necks, so long as they don’t show off any bra. It’s a bit easier because I’m not particularly boob-y.

  • I get totally self conscious in a short skirt! Also when I go sleeveless though I don’t really know why . . . I would so LOVE to hear you lecture one time. I’ve read your blog extensively and I love your posts. I am positive those girls were not bored! And on a more material note, I am loving your scarf and boots. Looking beautiful while teaching beauty is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

  • All the time. Quite honesty, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in the shirt dress you’re wearing. While the length is perfect, the skirt is slightly flared leaving an ever so tiny opportunity for unwanted exposure.
    I like all my skirts to hit my knees or just slightly above in case of pencil skirts. As for cleavage, it’s absolutely impossible to find a decent shirt or a a dress when you’re big breasted.
    That said, I love this outfit, especially the way you wrapped the scarf.

  • Sonja

    I’ve always worn my hair very short, and noticed somewhere along the way that a low neckline softens my facial features and makes me look more feminine, whereas the typical high neckline of a t-shirt makes me look like a twelve year old chap. It’s a bit different nowadays, because I wear my hair a tiny bit longer and use more make up and jewellery on a daily basis, but I’m still absolutely addicted to low necklines, the lower, the better. I love low-cut tees, strappy tops, tube tops … If I ever wear a blouse or a buttoned shirt, I open at least the three top buttons. From Sal I learned the trick to create a false lapel with Hollywood Tape.
    I only teach occasionally, and always one-to-one. As this takes only about an hour of my day, I don’t usually dress in a specific way for class. But if I wear a top that’s more summery or daring, I bring along a cardi or blazer to cover up and look more professional. But I have to admit that sometimes I bent forward to pick up a pencil or to help my student with an exercise and then think – whoa! That neckline didn’t look so low when I was standing straight…
    Also I have one personal rule for my style: I show flesh or at the bottom or at the top, but not in both places at the same time.
    Lately I wear more skirts and dresses. Most of my hemlines fall at my knees, I don’t like them to be much higher, because I’m very conscious of my strong thighs. But then again I’m flexible with this, one of my favourites is shorter than that, but I adore it and wear it nonetheless.
    Also, I dance lindy hop and love it when my skirt flies and twirls, and at that moment I’m not thinking about thighs or buttocks at all. (By the way, I wear very modest and covering briefs, those colourful cotton things by H&M, so I don’t show more than I would in a bikini and hope I don’t offend anyone.)

  • Erika A

    For me, I worry more about neckline than hemline. I’m only 5’4″ with legs on the shorter side, so few skirts are prohibitively or unprofessionally short on me. However, I have narrow shoulders and large breasts so the risk of a shirt being revealing is much more likely. In my teaching and working life I have to think about what will show down the front of my shirt when I bend over to talk to a student or look at some papers. I have to do a lot of searching to find nice-looking shirts that aren’t terribly unflattering with the dreaded jewel neck or too much of a deep scoop.

  • CJ

    I worry about hemlines ALL THE TIME. Is it too long to be flattering? Too short to be Ok on a lady of 40? Will it ride up when I sit down? Will I be able to cross my legs without worrying I’m showing my body-shaping-undergarment?? My favourite just-above-the-knee skirt rides up when I sit down. It looks SO GOOD when I stand up that sometimes I put up with it, but I think it looks too trampy for work (TTFW) whenever I sit.


    When I was 25 I never thought about this stuff….

  • Cel

    I’m really conscious about hemlines around family, and at work. While I can be comfortable in a mini-skirt with my friends or out in public around strangers, it just feels kind of awkward to be showing so much leg around a grandparent or a parent, you know? As for the neckline, I’m pretty well endowed, nothing huge but still, they pose a modesty challenge. I always feel like even a little cleavage with me is too much, so I tend to avoid anything that shows any cleavage at all unless I’m in a very relaxed and casual environment.

  • SarahN

    I love skirts and wear them almost everyday, but you’re right: length is key. Tights and flats can save too-short skirts in the winter, but I am most comfortable in pencil skirts that hit at the knee or a little below, with bare legs in the summer and sheer hose in the winter. I mean, I don’t walk a runway at work… I sit on my butt all day, and skirts that are above the knee when standing end up too far north when sitting. If I’m in a meeting or something, I try not to cross my legs, but sometimes I forget, and a longer skirt lessens (but doesn’t eliminate!) the possibility of a show. I’m LOVING the midi-skirt trend for fall!

  • LinB

    Our church renovated the sanctuary, and removed the “modesty rail” that separated the choir from the congregation. Our choir no longer dons the full-length polyester robes of doom that further differentiated us from the rest of the worshippers. So I now wear slacks or trousers when I sit in the choir, on an elevated platform, facing the congregation. My 80+-year-old friend doesn’t understand that she should wear longer skirts and/or sit with her knees together. Many, many people have cornered me to tell her to keep her legs shut. My counter to them, “Oh, my. If it bothers you, YOU should tell her. I’m sure she’ll understand when YOU tell her how much it offends you. She just thinks I’m teasing when I tell her.”

    • Could someone kindly please explain to me why polyester has such a bad reputation? I hear very often how polyester “sucks” and is cheap/tacky, but it’s used to make a lot of really nice fabrics such as chiffon. I’ve done some internet research but can’t seem to be able to draw any solid conclusions. Thank you 🙂

      • Sal

        Hahaha. As a huge fan of vintage polyester, I’m with you, Margaret. My understanding is that the negative feelings stem from the fabric’s inability to breathe and tendency to suck up body odor smells.

      • Some people don’t differentiate between vintage and modern polyester, never mind between different fabrics made with polyester. I forget the details, but somewhere along the way I learned that how polyester is made now differs from how it was made in the ’70s.

        I also suspect that most people don’t realize that their favorite “silk” scarf or blazer lining is actually polyester. Or what about the thermal underlayers worn in colder climates? Most of the time those, too, are polyester. People complain about polyester being scratchy and not providing good air circulation, but those fleece jackets many people love are usually 100% polyester and they are marketed as being soft while allowing your skin to breath.

        In the end, I think it comes down to lack of education on what their clothes are actually made of combined with misnomers (so many times I see items labeled “silk,” but read the tag to see that it is made from polyester).

        • Thanks, Sal and Nethwen! This gives me a much better idea.

  • I love this outfit!!!! xD

    I’m always pretty conscious of hem and necklines. As a young teenage girl, I have to dress age-appropriately, and as a Christian, it’s my responsibility to dress appropriately so that the guys around me (my brother, my dad, any male relatives, my best guy friends) are not distracted by my body and lead to sin by their hormones. They have a responsibility to keep their eyes to themselves, and I know that’s hard work — the least I can do is try to make it easier for them. I never wear skirts or dresses more than four fingers above the knee, shorts no more than five; necklines can never dip more than three. It seems prudish and I know, almost ridiculously old fashioned, but I’m just more comfortable knowing that my guy-friends aren’t accidentally picturing me naked every time they see me. 😛

  • Jen

    I’m a preschool teacher. I bend over all the time. Except for a few date outfits, I don’t have anything shorter than knee-length or low cut. It just doesn’t work for my job.

  • i love love LOVE the red!
    perfect for fall<3

    much love and happy blogging!

  • Deborah

    I am very conscious of what I am wearing when I am teaching, and especially when I am interpreting for the deaf. Standing in front of a roomful of people while waving my arms around is intimidating enough without having to worry about my skirt being rising and becoming too short or my blouse suddenly gaping/shifting.

  • Evelyn

    Sal, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I LOVE your style!

    I also wanted to mention (at the risk of sounding like an advertisement and/or a spammer) your Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boot is available at 6pm, in that same color combination(!), its also on sale!


    • Sal

      Awesome! That’s where I got my pair (on sale of course) but I haven’t seen them over there in a while. Thanks for the tip, Evelyn!

  • Oh my gosh, those boots are so EFFING BADASS.