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Neon Happiness

You know when you buy something so awesome it inspires you to launch into dress up mode immediately? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

Solestruck recently had one of their famous 20/30/40 sales. I jumped in on the final day and bought some bronze high tops (Jeffrey Campbell, of course) and randomly threw in a pair of ankle boots by Gold Dot, who I’d never heard of before, purely on the basis of its amazing neon perspex insert in the heel.

I’m obsessed with neon right now. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve never really been one to follow trends when they’re trendy. Neon is just the ramped up version of the standard bright, happy colours I like to surround myself with and this winter I’ve armed myself with as much of it as I can find. My hypothesis: you can warm yourself up starting with your attitude, which is reflected in what you wear, and vice versa. I wear the same colours in summer and winter – read: alllll of them! I don’t discriminate – but I definitely receive more surprised remarks from people during winter when everyone seems to expect you be swathed in black all the time.

So anyway, these boots. They are called “Helga” and other than the fabulous neon lime-y yellow detail, also feature shiny charcoal snakeskin side panels (which haven’t photographed very well anywhere), and have a 5¾” heel with a 2¾” platform. With those perfect “sweet spot” dimensions – thick heel, between 4 and 6 inches, 3 inch incline or rise – it was still an impulse buy, but as my order got en route, I became inexplicably more and more excited about their arrival..

The day the box arrived and I ripped it apart and immediately put on the boots – my, are they amazing?! I don’t know what it is about these. They’re ridiculously comfortable and as if a sign, the neon insert perfectly matched one of the shades of the Aurora Skye leggings I happened to be wearing on the day.

Ever since I’d put the shoes in my cart online, I’d been visualising them paired with my neon pink beetlejuice leggings. So clearly, that had to happen a.s.a.p.

Ow My Eyes!

Helga boots: Gold Dot
Beetlejuice neon pink leggings: Black Milk Clothing
Neon yellow stars and stripes top: ZARA
Breanna beret in Sulfur Spring: Cotton On
Merino ruched sleeve longline cardi in Black: Glassons
Wool blend puff shoulder peplum coat in Black: Glassons
Black chiffon shirt (worn underneath)

It was a Friday night, and I just wanted to head out and grab some Malaysian takeaways for date night in, so I changed back to my original outfit which I’d worn to work…

Bright Skies, Brisk Morning

Helga boots: Gold Dot
Aurora Skye leggings: Black Milk Clothing
Peter Pan collar coat in Teal: Oasis (Sold by ASOS)
Breanna beret in Gardenia: Cotton On
Emo scarf: Pieces (Sold by ASOS)
Chiffon placket top with bow in Moonlight Jade: Vero Moda (Sold by ASOS)
Long chunky knit cardi in black: Jay Jays
Disembodied Legs in Black Milk: Indie

Sorry about the delay in posting Part 2 of my non-leggings nylon winter styling experiment. I have travel photos coming out of my ears that I want to try and get rid of first, so it might be another week or so away. Soon: promise.

Non-leggings Nylon Winter Challenge: Part 1

Whenever I complain that it’s cold on a Melbourne June morning, people brush me off and make one or both of two assumptions.

One: that I should be used to cold because “where I come from” is very cold, because I come from New Zealand, right, where there is snow and stuff?

Two: Melbourne isn’t cold because it’s in Australia, right, and don’t they have desert and stuff? (That one is mostly from people who don’t live in Melbourne, obviously).

Ok firstly, I am from Auckland – the summers are mild, the winters are merely cool, and the average daily low in the coldest month of the year is above 7°C. Secondly, Australia is a big country, ok? Does Texas have the same climate as Maine? Up in the north, winter doesn’t exist. Here in Melbourne, more than occasionally we travel to work on 2°C mornings with Victoria’s impressive oceanic wind chill factor dropping that another 5 degrees or so, and that’s not even the overnight temperature. Sure, it’s no Canada, but we have Canadians here and they ain’t saying that it’s balmy!

So what happens in the coldest state (Tasmania doesn’t count) in the Land of Shiny Nylon when it’s one of those said mornings and you just want to inject some Shiny Nylon goodness into your day? Most will go for the leggings, maybe with some tights under them for extra warmth. But see, I have a lot of nylon that isn’t leggings and I don’t want a huge chunk of my wardrobe to go to waste every year while Melbourne has its five-month weather hissy-fit.

For the non Black Milk initiated, non-leggings items mostly consist of skintight, thin bodycon dresses, hip-hugging mini-skirts, swimsuits/bodysuits and shorts. Things that don’t scream “winter”.

There was only one way to encourage myself to claw out these pieces from the back of the drawers on a crisp July morning – I challenged myself to come up with a dozen general ways to style non-leggings Black Milk for winter. Here are the first six “results”.

These outfits are nothing to rave about (or repost on Tumblr) – they were actually all thrown together rather quickly and photographed in my living room in one afternoon. However, I feel they’re a demonstration of the many types of possible combinations of garments and accessories you can style with nylon pieces to make them cold-weather-feasible. In other words, at least for myself, they will be great starting points or formulas for creating a warm and stylish outfit!

Note: Where an item was still available for purchase at the time of writing (as far as I was aware), I have used a shopping icon which will link you to a store.

1. Weekend Fun
Shorts with opaque tights and a baggy jumper

I would wear this: out to a hot chocolate and shopping date in the city on Saturday, followed by cupcakes. All the cucpakes.

Gingham red shorties: Black Milk Clothing
Nico Shoe in Black Canvas: Jeffrey Campbell
Maffefka sweatshirt: StaffByMaff
Opaque coloured tights in Tomato: Sportsgirl
Boucle pom pom beanie in Red: Cotton On
Rainbow swirl earrings

Aren’t those JCs with the rainbow cork wedge amazing?

2. TGIF Drinks
Knit or jumper tucked into a skirt

I would wear this: on a Friday evening to meet friends for a drink or two

Metallic velvet gold skirt: Black Milk Clothing
Mya Spike shoulder Jumper in Khaki: Boohoo
Lita shoe in Taupe Suede: Jeffrey Campbell
Opaque coloured tights in Moss: Sportsgirl
Lurex knit stripey scarf
Amber and bronze teardrop earrings
Chocolate brown leatherette hairband with gold detail

3. Suit Up
Swimsuit over collared shirt, tailored pants and blazer

I would wear this: to a meeting I’m running, to be stylish and impressive at the same time

Revolution swimsuit: Black Milk Clothing
Sonita T-Bar Shoes in Tobacco: ASOS
One-button Blazer in Vanilla Bean: Victoria’s Secret
Pearl studded collar chiffon blouse: ZARA
Wide-leg tailored pant: Forever 21
Eden Eternity Scarf in Lapis Blue: Cotton On
Brown belt: came with some skirt I bought

4. Cute and Cozy
Dress with chunky or waffle knit jumper and tights

I would wear this: while hanging out at a friend’s place on a lazy Sunday

Beer dress: Black Milk Clothing
Lauren Batwing Jumper in Lilac: Boohoo
Lita shoe in Mustard: Jeffrey Campbell
Opaque coloured tights in Purple: Sportsgirl
Pom Skull Beanie in Burnt Orange: Cotton On

5. Brunch Date
Dress or swimsuit with cardi, tights and a comfy skater skirt

I would wear this: to look cute going to brunch with the girls in South Melbourne

Suicide of Morozumi dress: Black Milk Clothing
Ponti Skater Skirt in Red: Glassons
Lita shoe in Gingham: Jeffrey Campbell
Ruffle Cardi Sweater in Black: Victoria’s Secret
Feather Fedora: Forever 21
Red hoop earrings
Black 80 denier tights

6. Casual Date Night
Dress with “repeating” print over a collared shirt with crop jumper and knee high boots

I would wear this: on a relaxed date night with the boyfriend – Mexican for dinner, and a movie

Chopin dress: Black Milk Clothing
Pleated chiffon crop shirt in Black: Supre
Cropped Fluffy Jumper in Black: ASOS
Knee high wedge heel boots: Hannah’s (New Zealand)
Paisley and Leopard Scarf: Forever 21
“Sharkie” necklace (temporarily removed from original chain): Planet Rawr
Black and chrome chunky necklace
Thick cotton knit stockings with gold flecks

As this is my first “fashion” post, you might have noticed that (arguably other than my addiction to Jeffrey Campbell), I tend to shop at pretty ordinary stores rather than opting for expensive labels. I don’t believe that a scary price tag nor a groundbreaking design are necessary to putting together a unique style.
I would maybe love to shop for one-off boutique pieces all the time but that’s not reality, nor is it that important – I’ve chosen instead to have an expansive and versatile wardrobe of simple pieces with which to throw together styles in which the creativity comes from me.

Tune in soon for part 2, the second installment of my Winter Challenge with the final six ways to style non-leggings Black Milk when it’s brrrrrr!

The Swimsuit to Tank Top Experiment

When looking for a swimsuit to wear, I’ll never choose a one-piece, which I find hide the best features of my figure – yet I own about 13 of them, thanks to Black Milk Clothing.

Black Milk swims make me wish I did actually wear maillot-style bathers. You don’t know how many hours and dollars I used to spend every summer hunting down the perfect bikini – not only did it have to fit my small build with DD/E chest, but it had to be a design I liked and which was “me”.


As one of the three most stocked garment types, and with new printed designs released at least twice a month, I never have problems finding designs I love in Black Milk’s swimsuit collections. And like many sharkies, to get full (or in my case, any) use out of them, I wear them as bodysuits as part of everyday non-aquatic outfits.

The only problem with only ever wearing these beautiful prints as bodysuits is that they obviously have to be tucked into the skirt, pants, shorts or whatever bottoms one is wearing, often cutting off a crucial or attractive part of the design. This is especially an issue with high-waisted bottoms. See the below example, where you can tell most of “Alice” would be hidden from the gorgeously illustrated Cheshire Cat scene if this swimsuit was worn as a top.

Cheshire Cat Swim - BM

This means that I regularly and unhappily decide not to purchase a number of pretty swimsuit designs simply because I would never be able to display the full print.

When Black Milk started releasing “long torso” length swim sizes, a theoretical solution formed in my imagination: I could cut off the crotch section of the swim to convert the piece into a true tank top which isn’t required to be tucked in.

I anticipated three problems in taking this approach with a swimsuit in my normal size.

  1. The top would be very short, ending up around the belly button if not stretched down without the crotch panel to pull it taut.
  2. If the top is fitted and tight, which it would generally be in my normal swimsuit sizing, it would definitely roll upwards due to the nature of the stretch fabric and the fact that there is no crotch panel to keep the piece from moving up.
  3. In the smaller sizes, print placement is often a little different and more of the print may be cut off simply by removing even the very bottom of the suit (ie. the crotch), hence defeating the purpose of converting the swimsuit into a top for print-retention purposes.

Problems 1 and 3, I decided, would potentially be solved by using a LT (long torso length) sized swim. I’m a mini-sized person, so even the normal swims are a generous length for my torso. For problem 2, I figured that sizing up width-wise would help prevent roll-age.

Excitedly, with these ideas in mind, I purchased a Cheshire Cat swim LTL (Long Torso Large).

I still had concerns. $90 is a big investment on an experiment that had the potential to fail completely and while I’d had Black Milk leggings and dresses altered before, I’d be cutting up a swimsuit for the first time! Among my doubts was whether or not the L, 2-3 sizes larger than my other swim pieces, might be too baggy on me; but generally speaking, bodysuits are very tight and formfitting, while some of my normal fitted tank tops in my own size are much larger. In other words, what is a little loose by swimsuit standards can still be fitted by tank top standards.

Here is what the swim looked like before the alteration, worn with a skirt and with Alice cut off at the bottom:

Cheshire Cat Top

And here is the result of its transformation into a top:

Cheshire Cat Top

I would write a tutorial on the actual alteration process, but I am not handy with a sewing machine (not that I have one anyway)! I simply took the swimsuit to my trusty tailor (who has worked with other nylon pieces of mine before) and instructed him to remove the crotch and cut a straight hem to convert it into a tank.

TANK TOP: Converted from Cheshire Cat Swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing, $90 SKIRT: Katie Box Pleat Skater Skirt in Turquoise by Boohoo, $20 CARDI: Ruffle cardi sweater in blonde-heather by Victoria's Secret, $29.50 USD; SHOES: T-strap Espadrille Wedge by Colin Stuart, $29 USD

TANK TOP: Converted from Cheshire Cat Swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing, $90
SKIRT: Katie Box Pleat Skater Skirt in Turquoise by Boohoo, $20
CARDI: Ruffle cardi sweater in blonde-heather by Victoria’s Secret, $29.50 USD
SHOES: T-strap Espadrille Wedge by Colin Stuart, $29 USD

So, all in all, a success! The tank is long enough so that it doesn’t sit in that awkward space between crop top and normal top, and roomy enough that it doesn’t roll up every time I move, and not so large that it looks ridiculous on me. A few minor issues to note, though:

  • Although the top isn’t hugely prone to riding up, it still does so a wee bit, if you’re moving around quite a lot. This certainly isn’t nearly as much of a problem as the ride-up issue can be in Black Milk dresses and skirts! And luckily, wearing a cotton cami underneath pretty much resolves the issue 100%.
  • Due to the larger size, around the armpits, the tank isn’t really well fitted, but it mostly sits quite well everywhere else. If you’re altering a piece yourself, it might pay to also take in the underarm area by a centimetre or so if you are an XS or small S.
  • Since the purpose of the tank is to not be tucked in, and the nylon fabric is quite thin, it looks better when worn on top of bottoms that are themselves not too thick. For example, if you are wearing it over jeans, be aware that the denim fabric, belt loops etc. might show an imprint through the bottom of the top. More rigid thick fabrics may also exacerbate the otherwise quite minor roll-up issue.

So, should you go for it? Should you buy a swimsuit, take the plunge and cut off the bottom?
If you a) are normally a size M or below and b) don’t require a long torso size as your normal swim size, and c) have been super disappointed at a swim you couldn’t buy because the print wasn’t suitable for wearing as a bodysuit… then YES, DO IT!

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