Frumpiness and Pleather

by Kate

Fashion has been the last thing on my mind of late. In fact, for the past two months my style has consistently been that of a depressed farmer reluctantly trudging out to the barn to perform chores. Perhaps if I lived anywhere near a farm, or actually had chores to perform, this would be appropriate. Sadly, I am instead in the midst of a city, and therefore highly likely to encounter other people instead of chickens and cows. Faded and baggy jeans, worn and beaten boots, oversized sweatshirts, and large caps to cover my tangled hair twisted into a glob on the top of my head have been my mainstays. Granted, this look can be done in a glamorous manner- but let me assure you that in my case, glamorous it is not. I have abandoned my beaten silver and painted wooden earrings and even stooped so low as to skip applying smoky eyeliner in the morning. It has been a sad state of things for me.

In the midst of this style crisis, I received an alluring invitation in my email inbox last week. The invitation was from Maniac Magazine, a locally based monthly magazine covering Fashion, Celebrity, Style, and the Arts. Maniac was holding a special event for Pittsburgh bloggers at an abandoned storefront in the super hip South Side Works, showcasing the upcoming issue of the magazine. The invitation promised food and drink and complimentary massages- but most importantly for me, it offered a chance to put aside my tattered barn clothes, rip apart my closet, and attempt to find some semblance of stylishness.

I built my outfit around a pair of pleather leggings buried in an old trunk full of dance costuming. These leggings cost me an exorbitant seven dollars three years ago, and have been worth every penny. Pleather leggings must be deployed carefully, but in the right context they can really make an outfit work. In this case, I paired them with a black Target minidress with jet beading on the collar. I topped that with the only designer item I own- a black Christian Dior blazer with a zebra print collar, purchased from Goodwill for four dollars. This blazer, like the leggings, requires caution. It has a cut that can be construed as classic or ridiculous, depending on how it is paired with the rest of an outfit. I personally like to throw caution to the wind and assume that being six feet tall and sticking my chin in the air will somehow carry me through wearing it without looking like a complete fool. In this spirit, I slipped on a pair of 80’s style pumps (also a thrift store find) and confidently applied a great deal of eye makeup. On my way out the door I noted that my hair was in rather desperate need of another henna treatment, and also that wearing pumps in the middle of winter was a chilly proposition. I grabbed a magenta mohair beret that my grandmotherly neighbor recently gave me, and headed out to see the world of the sophisticates.

Actually I headed out the door with my husband and toddler in tow due to a complicated set of logistics. My husband is amazing, but not capable of multitasking as a fashion photographer while also taking care of the toddler. This meant that there was a serious possibility that there would be no documentation of my pleather look to share with you. Luckily for me, an incredibly sweet blogger from The Pittsburgh Look took my picture and shared it on her lovely blog, which you should definitely check out if you get the chance. Without further ado, here I am in disguise as a stylish person:

I really do recommend pleather leggings. In my case, they gave me the courage to confront this spectacularly stylish scene. Here is a shot of the party from the outside looking in:

So sleek. So stylish. So sophisticated. And it is a great cover, isn’t it? Inside the door, there were many fashionable people talking about fashionable things, and hip photographers on hand to document the action. Here is the dashing Tobi Makinde of Makinde Photography.

I did instantly realize that I was not quite the only one seeking comfort in pleather pants. At least, I think these are pleather…

There were chic people wearing carefully chosen and colorful  outfits and accessories.

And of course, there were great shoes.

Actually, great shoes and great tights and a really photogenic dog.

I really do love those grey tights, worn by the blogger Nicole. You can read all about her dog, Gwendolyn on her blog as well, here. I am pretty sure Gwendolyn was the belle of the ball that night.

In case the other attendees weren’t up to Gwendolyn’s level of fabulousness, there were hair and makeup teams on hand, ready to help party people take it to the next level. Staff from the Harmony Salon were providing instant trims, blowouts, and layering.

Makeup artist Katherine Reel worked her magic.

And for those in the market for further fabulous accessories and beautiful jewels, Stella and Dot was on hand to serve those needs.

There was a great deal of White Diamond Vodka, a massage table from LaVida Massage, and the food was lovely- but fashionable. So, light. So, sushi and cupcakes.

Needless to say, I ate quite a bit of sushi. Which was very nice. Pleather leggings are surprisingly forgiving.

I sipped, and mingled, and photographed, and was delighted to have my fill of sushi and of the world of high fashion. The one thing I didn’t do was get a chance to sit down and seriously apply myself to instantly blogging the new issue of Maniac Magazine.

But lots of other people did! You can read all about it herehere, and here– or even better, pick up a copy yourself if you happen to see it at a chic boutique or newstand near you.

I am grateful to Maniac Magazine for bringing style back into my life- even if only for a night. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to add another frumpy layer to my current chicken feeding chic outfit.

13 thoughts on “Frumpiness and Pleather

  1. Rebecca

    As a former victim of the farmer fashion curse (i.e. dressing like my dad), I heartily commend your getting out there in your leggings. What a fun evening.

  2. Michelle

    I am cracking up right now because I just bought pleather leggings last night! I am going to an 80’s party this weekend and I went and got an outfit last night (its amazing how easy it is to find 80s clothes right now- I can’t believe that style is back in!). I had Brigid with me and she saw the leggings and she told I HAD to buy them. Once again- apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree:). I think I am going to have a cocktail before I leave for the party to have the courage to even wear them…. I wish I had an ounce of your courage to step out of my mom jeans. he he.

    1. sweetridgesisters Post author

      Michelle, I so hope to see photographic evidence of your pleather legging party. I will say that a miniskirt OVER the pleather leggings makes them far less terrifying. That is really, really funny that Brigid encouraged you to buy them. -kate

  3. gojulesgo

    How freaking cool is this?! You pull off those pleather leggings (and the whole outfit) like nobody’s business! The picture of the red pleather pants was priceless. So glad you got to have a glamorous day out!

  4. Jenna

    I love your pictures, and your outfit is fab! I have no idea what I’d wear to such an event, but now you’ve got the wheels in my head spinning . . .

    1. sweetridgesisters Post author

      Jenna, I am so confidant that you would come up with something incredible. Actually this event really made me think about the importance of keeping one go-to “cool” outfit around. That way, when life is as frumpy as it feels for me right now, there is an instant solution. Thus pleather for me right now… -kate

  5. Minnesota Prairie Roots

    Kate, you look styling spectacular. I will admit to not knowing the definition of “pleather.” Does that throw me in the non-fashion category? Yes, I happily live in the world of jeans and tees and a sweatshirt layer tossed on in the winter.

    What a wonderful opportunity this was for you to mix and mingle with other bloggers. Are you getting any ink in the magazine?

    Amid all the glam I noticed one minor, overlooked detail: cupcakes in boxes. Those should have been glammed up and displayed on an artful plate, don’t you think?

    1. sweetridgesisters Post author

      Thanks! Pleather is plastic faux leather. Very warm in the winter, actually. As for the cupcakes- I don’t think fashion people are QUITE as interested in the joy and beauty of food as the rest of the world… -kate

  6. Erika May

    “I personally like to throw caution to the wind and assume that being six feet tall and sticking my chin in the air will somehow carry me through wearing it without looking like a complete fool.” I live and love this remark! ❤

  7. amstapp

    That was a pretty bold and stylish outfit – love the pleather leggings. Also, I am consistently impressed with the Pittsburgh fashion scene and kind of jealous you got to go to such a fun party with such stylish people!

  8. Sarah

    You looked awesome in your pleather leggings. I’m glad that you chose to come out of your “barn funk” for a night and come out so that I would have someone to talk to 🙂 I hope to see you again at the next meetup! And perhaps I should search for 7″ heels or so, so that maybe I can see you eye to eye! Haha

  9. nicole marie story

    oh my goodness, gwendolyn and i are so absolutely flattered at the mention in this article!!! do you really think gwendolyn was the belle of the ball? her puggle majesty agrees, i am certain. 😉 if you loved my tights, you must check my blog later tonight because i’m posting a kate spade giveaway! it’s very nice to have met you and your blog. xxx


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