Building an outfit with safety pins, castles, and a coral top

I am so, so behind on things to blog about this summer. Hell, this year, even! Things I’ve sewn, places we’ve been. I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. So instead of catching up, how about just an outfit from last week?


This was just a typical summer outfit that I wore last weekend, and Mel graciously snapped a few photos before we set off for the day. We didn’t do anything special—far from it. A bit of antiquing, picked up a Heywood Wakefield bed frame that we’d bought the weekend before, and spent a good portion of the afternoon at home hanging art and disassembling and reassembling beds in the guest bedroom. It doubles as my dressing room and it’s the last room we need to paint and fully “do”, but finally it’s starting to come together and I’m so pleased.

Anyway, it was a hot day, so I really wanted to wear something light. This pretty coral peasant blouse (that I clearly didn’t iron anywhere near enough, oops) is a rayon cropped top from Oblong Box Shop. With something sitting at my natural waist, it only shows a little skin, so I don’t feel too exposed (even for summer). It’s a beautiful color and theoretically I really love coral, but always have a hard time matching it. I realized after buying this top that it didn’t actually specifically match a whole lot in my wardrobe so I feared it would suffer from that “I always want to wear it but it doesn’t go with anything” syndrome.


Sometimes I’ll get comments on my blog or more often Instagram (since way more outfits make it there than here as it’s so easy, sorry!) about my choice of colors and outfits. Especially about how I make certain colors (sometimes unexpected) work together in an outfit, or that I’m matched well, or things like that. It’s really flattering and tickles me a lot, especially since I don’t think I do anything special in that department at all!

In fact, I really feel like I’m pretty conservative in how I assemble outfits based on color and style. Obviously I don’t mean I’m a conservative dresser, but I stick with a general comfort zone in how I build an outfit, usually trying to tie most things in together in some way.

Building an outfit with safety pins, castles, and a coral top

I sort of work with an unspoken rule that if I’m going to wear a color as an accent, I need it to appear in at least one more place within my outfit. Like if I really want to wear blue shoes and there’s no blue in my outfit at all, I’ll almost always throw a bit more blue in with my jewelry, or purse, or maybe a hair flower. I would probably break every single style rule of every modern fashion magazine. 😉 I don’t always do this if it feels like a relatively safe color for the outfit, but if it feels somewhat questionable, repeating the color elsewhere always pulls it together for me.

I usually start with an item I want to wear and build an outfit from that. Often that’ll be a main piece of clothing like a dress, skirt, or a top, although it can be an accessory or often a pair of shoes. In this case it was the coral top.

Building an outfit with safety pins, castles, and a coral top(Still swearing to myself to never wear this again without doing a lot more ironing)

I debated what I had in my closet that would match the coral and that I felt like wearing. I did notice it was sort of close to the shade of orange in the flags adorning the castles on this skirt. I sewed the skirt ages back, when I had very little experience with sewing, and didn’t know enough to be slightly nervous about using vintage patterns. It’s from a pattern from the 50s or 60s, I can’t recall. It’s at least a size too big now, which I must not have noticed the last time I wore it last year with a shirt tucked in, but was really noticeable with a cropped top. So I just used a couple of strategic safety pins on the inside of the waistband to get it to the right size.

Safety pins to the rescue!

castles skirt

Once I had the top paired with the skirt, I knew I wanted to wear comfy shoes for the day, so I picked green jelly Fiebinger flats. I have several pair of these (because I love the little peep toes and bows), but none in orange or coral, so I couldn’t go in that direction to tie in the top. So green it was.

Fiebinger jelly flats

I also really wanted to carry a new-to-me vintage purse that I picked up for a song the weekend before at the Vintage Garage Chicago, a marvelous souvenir basket purse from Acapulco. But the orange in it was very orange, definitely not coral.


So I added orange into my mix of green and yellow Bakelite bracelets to get that to work for me. The bright green one was also picked up at the Vintage Garage, I think it was the cheapest Bakelite bangle I’ve personally found, at $5 (alas, never thrifted Bakelite in. my. life).

Orange was also in the skirt I figured, since the flags kind of straddled the ground between orange and coral. If I’d have had a coral bangle, I’d have thrown that into the mix, too, but I didn’t. (Note to self, I can fix that since I’ve been making a lot of resin spacer bangles recently!)


Incidentally, at the Vintage Garage (a regular vintage fair) they were having a tiki and rockabilly theme, so far be it from me not to take up the challenge to dress for a theme. And it turned out Mel and I won best dressed couple in a photo contest they were having, what a hoot!

Mel and Tasha at the Vintage Garage, July 2015 (photo credit: Leilani, Vintage Garage Chicago, photo credit Leilani,

Anyway, back to the outfit at hand. So what else with the coral? I did have a coral scarf, so I tied that in my hair, and it was my tying-in (well, literally) touch of coral. Finally, I went with green and yellow in my amazing striped Bakelite earrings from Truly Vintage, and floral necklace from Idaho Reds.

Building an outfit with safety pins, castles, and a coral top

And that’s how I built an outfit with a couple of safety pins, a coral top that didn’t actually match much, and a skirt adorned with castles. What’s your favorite way to approach building an outfit?

Building an outfit with safety pins, castles, and a coral top

outfit details

cropped top: The Oblong Box Shop
skirt: sewn by me (not blogged)
vintage straw purse: Vintage Garage Chicago
Bakelite bangles: misc.
Bakelite earrings: Truly Vintage
shoes: Fiebinger
necklace: Idaho Reds

Filed: Vintage Wardrobe

Tagged: , ,

Golly, 15 Comments!

  • Oh. my. gosh. I. Love. That. Skirt.

    I mean, I love your whole ensemble. And I’m not shocked at all that you and Mel won best dressed couple; you both look rockin’. 😀


  • Congrats on winning the best dressed contest, I can see why!

    Are the jelly shoes vinyl and do your feet ever get hot in them?


  • Such a fun outfit! I actually have that crop top in coral and in black. I thought the black was a nice sensible choice while the coral would be more fun. Turns out I have worn the coral one all summer long and the black one only once or twice. It really is a great color! Mine needs a good ironing as well 🙂


  • I adore your outfit, and I, too, suffer from ‘matching-mania’, as I call it. Always letting colors come back elsewere in my outfit.

    I love your jelly flats, too!


  • I love that coral colour, so cute and summery! I’ve only just come across your blog and it’s lovely, looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂


  • I like that little rule about having more of the accent colour in the outfit. Though it’s crazy to think that there was ever a time when you weren’t that confident of a sewer!


  • You have such a knack for colour mixing and outfit building. For winter I usually wear tops and skirts,not too much colour variation, but sometimes it is fun to mix things around, for example ‘how many outfits can a green velvet blazer go with, or a red pair of shoes’. Sometimes I ind things work well in unexpected places


  • I absolutely love the contrast of the midriff top against the skirt! So eye catching! And I too always feel that I have to repeat a color that maybe doesn’t really “go” with the rest of my outfit somewhere else. I feel like it creates the impression of intention, and I’m always drawn to symmetry in what I wear! 🙂


  • Very charming outfit! I think that coral looks terrific on you – especially nestled into your dark locks. What a fun, summery pairing for a (mostly) green novelty print skirt.

    Love that shot of you and Mel. You guys are the cutest couple!

    ♥ Jessica


  • I am much more conservative with colours than you are, but that’s how I do it too. 🙂 My wardrobe to-get list currently has a red or red-and-gold statement necklace on it as a “must-have” and a navy-and-red “would like to have” evening handbag to tie together any look involving the bright red stiletto pumps that I adore but hardly ever wear (I’ve worn them as a bright statement piece with mostly navy outfits, but I’d like to be able to wear them in a more “balanced” way). It’s how my mother (also a sewer) taught me to dress, although she never talked about accessories but rather how to match fabrics when one’s a busy print. It’s all the same idea, though!


  • Hi,

    I LOVE the red espadrilles in your “garage” pic! Where are they from?

    Heidi L. in L.A.


  • To be honest, I am not much surprised that you won the best dressed. Very impressive!


  • I think it’s so important to push ourselves to play with different colors. Hats off to you, m’dear, you look wonderful! I definitely think I’m going to scoop up one of those tops from Oblong Box Shop.


  • […] really like these colors together, and they’re similar to an outfit I wore last summer (in fact I wore a lot of the same bracelets and had the same purse then). Shades of orange, coral […]


  • I love your skirt..
    It is so cute..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notice: ob_end_flush(): failed to send buffer of zlib output compression (0) in /home/bygumbyg/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5107