Bridezilla Odyssey – part 3 – Lehenga Skirt

Moving swiftly along to the outfit itself…This spans the full spectrum from purely RTW (shawl) to partly pre-stitched (skirt) to purely me-made (top).

The skirt completion / alteration turned out to be more involved than I anticipated… Partly because I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to customise & do some unnecessarily tidying of the invisible innards!

Fit Alterations

2-skirtPanelLehenga skirts seem to be mostly panel / umbrella skirts. So originally I thought I just need to remove panels to reduce the circumference & shorten the length to fit, then sew up that last side seam & I’ll be done.

Well it turned out the top lace layer of this skirt is made from 34 panels which are each quite narrow from the top to the thigh, then spread out below that. Even if I remove some panels to fit my hip, this would still leave the top too wide for my waist (actually high hip, since many are worn lower down than the natural waist). Many lehenga designs simply use the tasselled cord to tighten the waistband to fit. But I didn’t like this haphazardly pleated waistline look, especially as the waistband can be quite stiff & bulky.

I ended up removing one panel, then pleated the extra width into 4 pleats at the front & back princess lines. This is then sewn to the smooth & more fitted waistband. The weight of the skirt actually pulls the pleats apart & along with the textured embroidery you can hardly see the pleating in the end. But I got the more fitted waistband I wanted. Well, almost.

The weight of the skirt still pulled the waistline down too much. To keep the skirt from sweeping the floor I had to tie the waist cord tighter, which brought back the dreaded bulky pleated waistband look. I tried to fix this by adding waistband elastic, which kind of spoils the neat waistline finish I took ages to make. Boo.

The inner layers were simpler to alter width-wise, though again I ended up doing this differently than planned. Because the hems of the inner layer weren’t as wide as my free spirit would like, I decided not remove any panel. Instead I resew each panel side seams & tapered more at the waist. Thankfully there are only 6 panels for each inner layer.

Length alteration was done at the top for a more A-line / circle skirt result. Considering that I basically resewn the hem border, I could have shortened from the hem. But I wanted more swish, so it made sense to cut off the more fitted length at the top rather than the flared length at the bottom.

Mug Shots vs Original Design vs Pre-altered Skirt

Customisation

2-skirtHem-nettingOut of the box the skirt weighs a ton & could stand on its own! In addition to the lace, the shiny underlay, and the lining, there was stiff netting attached to the hem of the lining. The lining itself also has wide hem that’s stiffened with the sort of heavy fusible interfacing that you might find in men’s formal shirt collars. It felt formal, ceremonial, claustrophobic, which I suppose is what a wedding ceremony calls for. Most of the other bridal lehenga outfit I saw also look really formal & restrictive.

lehenga_gold-red_1-3But it wasn’t what I attracted me to this outfit. The original design photos look bohemian. The model looked like she’s free to dance & twirl. I wanted a bit more of that romance. So off came the netting (fed to the Stash for some future petticoat of course!). The stiff lining hem interfacing had to go as well. The skirt still weighs just a touch under a ton, but at least I can twirl a bit better.

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The more streamlined waistband, princess line pleats, & A-line silhouette I already mentioned above.

2-tasslesThe only other change I made was to replace the tasselled waist cord so that I can have a matching one for the Choli Blouse. I did like the original cord & tassels design, so tried to look for similar material. But it’s amazingly difficult to find the exact same type of material. Part of the problem is not knowing what the bits are called – eg the type of cord that was used. I did eventually find the same type of cord at jewellerymaker.com which they called “zari ropes”. No luck with the beads, so I ended up getting my beads from firemountaingems.com & also had to get some Montana Gold spray paint in Gold Chrome colour to ‘correct’ the brassy colours of the filigree beads. I followed the threading pattern of the original tassels, but replace some beads with red acrylic ones to tie in the red from the shawl. And paranoid about washability, I made the tassels detachable – hooked on to the cord with carabiner catches.

Unnecessary tidying

What can I say, I have sewing OCD }:-)

  • All 33 panel seams on the lace top layer had the seam allowances re-overlocked to an even & narrower width so that the shiny underlay show through more.
  • All 8+ yds of the hem border interfacing were replaced & tidied up (with Pro-Sheer Elegance Light Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply that I had in the Stash), and the border facing darted uniformly to match the 33 panel side seams. Before this fix there were some excess folds in the interfacing & the facing dart shaping were done more haphazardly. Although neither problem really affected the look, I. Just. Could. Not. Help. It!
  • Added plackets to the waist opening / waistband with hook & bar closures for extra security against gapnosis.
  • But there one thing that I didn’t bother to fix which perhaps I should have, and that is to replace the plastic bead trim at the hem with metallic beads. It’s all too easy to crush these beads when you’re a klutz like me. My sewing room / photo studio is now strewn with bead carcasses. I predict by the end of the wedding day I’ll have 5 beads left. So why didn’t my OCD extend to this fix? Because the skirt already weigh too much. And there’s 8+ yds of zig-zag beads. And they would all have to be replaced one by one as there is of course no ready-made trim that fits the bill. I think I’ve done my time with the blouse embroidery.

All this for much less than one day

WORN WITH: 1 & 3 Self-drafted top/jacket; 2 Self-drafted choli blouse;

Love the skirt, missing beads notwithstanding.

But my lifestyle just doesn’t support wearing this again. So I must swish as much as possible on the day. And afterwards, steel my heart & refashion this into something more wearable.

Am I buddhist enough to let go I wonder. How about you? Have you hung on to your wedding dress? Do you have any plans for it?

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Reversible Muppet Mock-Wrap Skirt

Let’s start with the one that actually sort of went according to plan shall we?

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted raglan T-shirt; 2 Self-drafted ruched-bust T-shirt;

WORN WITH: 3 Zara blouse, Self-drafted detachable-sleeve jacket; 4 Burda 2015-10-109 sweater, Burda 2013-11-117 jacket, Self-drafted hat, Self-drafted mittens; 5 Self-drafted ruched-bust T-shirt, Burda 2013-11-117 jacket;

WORN WITH: 6 Burda 2013-02-121 Sweater; 7 Refashioned sweater; 8 Burda 2012-09-123 T-shirt;

The Inspiration, Design & Pattern

Inspiration & Design:

So this was supposed to be sewn for SWAP Fall/Winter 2014 . The starting point was the sweater knit. I was feeling rebellious & wanted biker chic…pencil skirt, front slit/vent, asymmetry, exposed zipper…AND reversible.  That was the vague idea. The devil was in the details. What exactly did I wanted & how can I make it happen. Here are some of the inspirations I collected…

- SWAP2014aw-1I ended up with this when I planned the SWAP – a princess line wrap pencil skirt with asymmetric hem. Princess line because to make it reversible with a single layer of fabric, I settled on flatlock seams & overlocked hems. And I then had to ruled out darts because I wasn’t sure they’d look good in my spongy fabric with flatlock seams. Wrap skirt because I ruled out simple side front slit as being too risqué.

When I actually started drafting the pattern this year, I was inspired by the reddish brown Reiss wrap skirt above to omit the princess line on the front overlap piece, and utilise the unsewn dart to exaggerate the asymmetry.

Block Used:

Princess Seam Pencil Skirt Block, which was derived from my 1-Dart Pencil Skirt Block.

Design Changes Made

  1. Eliminated CB seam & redistribute the dart allowance to Back Princess Seams & Side Seams.
  2. Reduced the ease at Back Princess Seams in the Hip area. The knit is puffy already. I might as well take advantage of its stretch property & go for a more streamlined silhouette, especially since I don’t have the booty to do that ease justice.
  3. Left Front is two-piece with a princess seam: 1 CF piece + 1 Side Front piece. This is the top flap when worn with black side out. As the flap closure will be a simple hook & bar at the waist, the flap edge on CF is extended straight up rather than curve along the waist dart so the flap will hang straight.
  4. Right Front is one-piece spanning 1 CF piece & 1 Side Front piece. This is the top flap when worn with orange side out. The flap closure on this side is the exposed zipper, which extends down to just below the hip. So the flap edge can incorporate the waist dart curve.
  5. The hem is raised all around from Left Front flap edge to Right Front side seam, then slopes down to create asymmetric hem in the front.
  6. To remove the gap in the waist created by the Right Front’s lack of waist dart, I pivoted it clockwise. I’m a bit fuzzy about the logic, but I think the dart wedge is moved to the hem (see the triangle formed by the thin red solid line & dotted line in the left bottom of the last pattern illustration above), but shows up as a slanted gap opening up from zipper bottom downward. Anyway, this pivot exaggerates the asymmetric hem further.
  7. 2-steps-d The OOPS: Originally the waist also had an asymmetric front created by step 7. But after I sewn the skirt up & tried it on, I changed my mind. It just didn’t work because my choice of overlocked waist edge, messy zipper stop finishing, and an initially over-tight petersham waist facing on the black side. The leveled black side waist looked better. So I redesign the waist to have level waistline on both orange & black sides by chopping off the blue bits in the pattern illustrations above.
  8. Finally, the seam allowances, urgh, the seam allowances. Most were straightforward once I decided on the seaming technique: For the flatlock seams I use 1/8″ seam allowances so that the 1/4″ flatlock stitches is centred on the seamline. The overlocked hems needed no hem allowances. The problem is the exposed zipper. This did my head in. How much to deduct for the width of the exposed zipper – ie where are the seams exactly. Then how much to add back for the seam allowance. How to do this so the transition to the vent looks tidy on the orange size & hides the zipper altogether on the black side. I ended up sticking to the 1/8″ SA for the Left Front princess seam, then moved the seam line on Right Front just over 1/4″ inward (towards CF) giving me this amount for the exposed zipper. I added back this amount for the seam allowance along the zipper, then 1/4″ hem allowance for the overlocked hem edge below the zipper.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

Apart from the general sewing problems I had with this fabric, and the waistline design Oops mentioned above, the only other tricky bit is the zipper princess seam / vent. I wanted the zipper to be hidden on the black side, which means the tape had to be trim down to fit into the 1/4″ flatlock seam. I wasn’t confident I could flatlock this, especially as the overlocker’s foot is a bit wide. So I had to fake the flatlock alongside the zipper by overlocking the fabric pieces separately, then baste the CF + zipper + SF, then hand fell-stitch the fake flatlock in place on both the orange & black sides. The Left Front princess seam below the zipper I ended up flatlocking because I couldn’t be bothered to do more hand sewing than is necessary, and it’s neater by machine.

The rest are fairly straightforward & most of the steps are illustrated in the above construction photos. Not shown is the waist finishing. This is just tiny hem allowance turned to the black side & covered by the petersham ribbon which is fell-stitched in place along the top & bottom. It’s my standard skirt waist finishing for skirts without a waistband.

The Verdict

Well, MR isn’t a fan of the Muppet orange side. And I was tending to agree with him…until this photoshoot where I ended up having more fun & styling ideas for the orange side than the black side.

It’s also a really warm skirt. Maybe a tad too warm. Except from the exposed knee down. But when worn with tights the Front bunches up most ungracefully. Static perhaps? So I can’t really wear this until I make myself a half-slip.

And as we’re on the impractical / unearthy wavelength, please indulge me another hippy style shot, the result of mucking about with a new app on my phone called PicsArt.

4-style3-3

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Tigra-Zeber-Tiber-Zegra Skirt


I really should be sewing right now. A two-part shimmering black snake is hissing at me from the cutting table.

Productivity here still hasn’t recovered from Plutonian shake-ups of last year. But I want to make sure the one beast I did manage to hack together doesn’t miss the Jungle January 2016 Party.

JJ2016-fabricAs I’m still grieving for Mom, this year’s Jungle January pets (and maybe others) will all be refashioning items from her closet. First up is this psychedelic purple top which is now a skirt & a sash scarf/belt. I can’t tell whether this is a Zebra or Tiger stripe. So Tigra-Zeber it is then. Or should that be Tiber-Zegra instead? Anyway, don’t Google “zebra tiger” – the first image that comes up is seriously disturbing!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: Zara blouse.

WORN WITH: self-draped altered RTW top.

WORN WITH: Vogue Donna Karan 1282 top + RTW cardie from Mom.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Mystery flocked knit top from Mom’s Closet. I can’t find any photo of her in this, but I vaguely recall it’s a top + skirt combo. She must had this for ages, as the top had all the vertical darts let out presumably to accommodate the middle-age spread. Sadly the skirt’s gone. Sadder still because it means less fabric for me to play with.
  • Lining: Skin color lightweight Power Mesh from Tissu Fabrics. These Power Mesh seem to have become my GoTo lining for knits.
  • Invisible zipper, hook & eye from the Stash.

The Design & Pattern

What design? What pattern! While I wasn’t as wantonly destructive as the contestants of The Great British Sewing Bee in my refashioning, nonetheless as there was preciously little fabric left for proper pattern-drafting, I too had to improvise as I went along. Key seams were all unpicked. I needed every millimeter I could get.

Changes Made

  • SKIRT
    • Swapped front & back. My waist shaping always nudges the back waist on skirts downward rather than stay level at the waist. So the lower front neckline of the top was better suited for my back bottom. Especially as it already comes with bum (formerly bust) shaping. Granted the darts are from the side seams. In a plain fabric I would hesitate to use such shaping for the bum – what can I say, sometimes I give in to herd mentality too. So thank god this busy print hurry your eyes away from the darts to whichever ways.
    • Widened & re-shaped neckline for waist.
    • Re-shaped side seams & hem for A-line skirt shaping as this wastes the least amount of fabric.
    • Added side invisible zipper & hook/eye at the top.
    • Added lining (using main fabric as pattern) & reused neck facing for waist facing.
  • SASH SCARF/BELT

    • Spliced each sleeves length-wise into 4 strips & joined the short ends to create 2 long pieces for double-layered sash. The sleeve caps became the shaped ends of the sash.

The Verdict

Yeah, I could have just left this purple psychedelic top as a top. But then I wouldn’t be able to sent her to the Jungle January Party.

You see, while documenting the top as is, I decided my Mom’s top deserved better than a mug shot. So I found some leopardy playmates for her…

0-fabric-MomsTop-1

I know, it’s crazy busy & not everyone’s cup of tea. I usually don’t wear so much busy prints in one go. I was trying to honour of our gracious hostess by going all out. But actually I secretly LOVE this combination. Something vaguely Italian about it.

The scarf is Mom’s too. I decided against refashioning it. Firstly there’s not enough of it. Secondly some memories should be kept as is, especially as it play nicely with others & fit perfectly into my Look Book anyway.

The skirt is another altered RTW from 2012 & it’s the best shade of leopard that’s not high on something or other. The golden yellow is the perfect match for the psychedelic purple Tigra-Zeber-Tiber-Zegra. ‘Complementary colors’ they call it right? Most yellow leopards are such dull beasts. Not this skirt.

But now that TZTZ is also a skirt they won’t play nicely together anymore. So the hunt is on. Oh, did I just find an excuse to expand my stash? Oops.

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Fix It July: from Grecian to My Cup of Fugly

fortuny-dress_4s7_07.jpg

the Original dress

Throwing all caution to the wind I took on another less than stellar Make which did feature in MMM’15: My Fortuny Delphos Wannabe dress.

She’s such a Romantic, perfectly in her element on holiday in the Sun & Sea. But seriously, how will I ever afford to take her to such exotic places again with Uncle Sam & HRH dipping into my wallet whenever they want? 😉 Besides, I was never comfortable with her flashing my ribby chest.

So yeah another commitment-phobe city ensemble coming up! And one that MR considers F-U-G-L-Y. But I’m OK with that. What does he know about fashion right? 😉

The Design & Construction Odyssey

odyssey First off this fabric is a royal PITA to work with. Unlike Mario Fortuny’s Grecian Delphos which were made of silk, this is 70s Mary McFadden style polyester mushroom pleats. I don’t know if the Fortuny silk version drapes better, but my polyester version definitely balloons out in the most unflattering places, yet at the same time is highly shifty & unstable. An Utter Diva.

I was at a loss design-wise. Apart from Fortuny, McFadden & Issey Myake are the only designers I know who use this type of fabric as a signature. But neither are my cup of tea.

sari top + Gigli wannabe + Fortuney wannabeodyssey I did like the dress as a skirt in this style shot though. So comes what may out  the Reckless Scissor came!

TOP:

odyssey Designing by flat patterndrafting would be a nightmare. So again I turned to draping with Q. (The dress was originally draped on her mother Big Bertha.) I started out addressing what I didn’t like about the dress bodice: too much skin at the chest & side boobs…

  • Front neckline was pulled from the V into a square for more coverage.
  • The side seam was pulled closer to remove the underarm portion that had been cut down to the waist level.

odyssey The result however looked a bit twee. Too safe. Which draws attention to the extra volume added by this fabric. I threw on some elastic to see where/how I can control this extra volume, but ended up liking the combination enough to use it in the final design. It’s just my cup of tea – the edgy contrast between utilitarian black elastic vs the fluid femininity of the mushroom pleat. Exposed elastic as a decorative detail is certainly not new to my aesthetic. My former favorite designer Comme des Garçons did it in Spring/Summer ’94. And I have a Jean-Paul Gaultier men’s robe with elastic waist ties from the 90’s that I wear a lot too.

So that’s the Design settled. On Q anyway. It’s a totally different story on me. Because I don’t want pins stuck into me to keep the fabric in place. The temptation to rely on pins is such a pit-fall when one design by draping rather than patterndafting.

odyssey Thank goodness there’s Pattern Magic 2‘s Different Facing Different Looks technique. Too bad I chose a whimpy cotton batiste for the facing/lining. Gravity won. All the more reason to incorporate the elastic into the design. Now it serves both a decorative & a structural purpose.

odyssey The top ended up with the most ridiculously complicated underpinning. See the annotated photos below for all the glorious gory details. That’s what you get with a Band-Aid approach to design! Definitely not a repeatable make. And as if that wasn’t enough, this thing has ZERO hanger appeal. This is definitely an Once Is Enough top.

SKIRT/DRESS:

I could not for the life of me decide on a hem length. After the chop there was definitely no floor length option left, which is just as well since it’s so impractical for modern day life.

2-sew-Skirt-inside1

It’s Super Skress!!!???

odyssey As the matching top has already given way to exposed elastics, I spared myself the agony of committing to one length. So an exposed elastic waistband done the iCandy Handmade way it is then. One that’s post-feast waist circumference in length so it hangs lower exposing the waist, and can be pull down even lower for a saucier low-rise look, or worn above the bust as a dress.

odyssey Matching detachable elastic shoulder straps & famine waist elastic belt complete the dress look. At a pinch the belt also yield a normal rise skirt. And if I sail to the edge I can also eke out a knee length skirt by doubling over the belt and leaving the built in waistband to hug my behind – not the most comfortable way to wear it, but hey we all have to make sacrifices for fashion right? 😉

odysseyodysseyodyssey

And FINALLY…The Mug & Style Shots

gr-dancing-1

gr-dancing-2

😉

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Fix It July: Pregger Wench no more

As I’m on a roll with the Fix-It’s…Here’s one that I couldn’t even bring myself to wear during MMM’15:

This was originally a RTW from a Camden Market stall. I actually quite liked the original. But because the bodice is made of stretchy knit without much recovery power, the combination of long skirt + gravity made this indecent to wear.

My first attempt at fixing this was an unmitigated failure. I wanted to keep the dress as a pull-on with no closure. But the China Silk/Habutai I used didn’t have the flattering clinging power of the original knit bodice. The resulting silhouette was F-U-G-L-Y, especially in the back.

My latest attempt at fixing this actually started January this year. I was hoping to finish it in time for a holiday in February. But when I tried it on for fit, the bodice felt too tight for a relaxing holiday. Plus there were too many new-to-me design features that I didn’t know how to sew up. So it went back onto the Fix-It Pile.

Fast forward to Fix-It June & July. I tried on the half-finished bodice again. I don’t know how, but the bodice now feels OK!!!??? Maybe recent stresses did what no diet can? 😉 Anyway, I felt ready to resume this Fix-It.

The Inspiration & Design

The funky A-line gore skirt has twill tapes inside on each gore seam which can be used to draw up the skirt into irregular bubble hem. It reminded me of this clipping of a Jean-Paul Gaultier dress from S/S ’91. So my initial design simply replaced the looser pull-on bodice with a corset style bodice.

But I clung to the original dress’ empire waistline, and this was a mistake. I looked like a pregger wench in the resulting dress. To avoid any well meaninged but awkward conversations about when I’m due, I separated the bodice from the skirt. I had just finished the Sari Top Fix-It, so was in a cropped top mood anyway. And you know how I feel about committing to a dress – I much prefer separates that give me more options.

In the same commitment-phobe vain, I made the skirt wearable at waist level and lower down when I’m in a saucy GoT mood! I suppose if I’m ever in a pregger wench mood I can always safety-pin the skirt to the top’s hem… 😉

The Mug & Style Shots

 

The Pattern

TOP:

  • BLOCK: Moulage Block (0-ease).
  • As this was meant to be underwired bustier style top, I started out with a skin-tight pattern. This is fine for the stretch lining, but then I got worried that having no ease at all in the outer non-stretch layer would mean another top that I’d never really wear. So I added some ease back in.
  • The cup was shifted towards CF slightly in the hope that it’ll give my wide-set girls the barest hint of a cleavage. (Not understanding how bra cups really work, I’m still holding out the hope that it’s possible to cajole the girls into gravity defying positions & shapes!)
  • The CF bust dart (which isn’t normally sew up) is pivoted to the princess line for closer fit at neckline. The bust point shifted up slightly and tinsy bit shaved off the cup princess seam below bust point all in the hope of helping my girls defy gravity.
  • Not shown: rectangular front closure modesty placket, bias binding for the hem, bias strips for the underwire channels.

SKIRT:

No patterns as this is just the RTW skirt with the top edge turned inside to create the casing for the elastic + existing draw-string.

Fabric & Notions Used

TOP:

SKIRT:

Construction Notes

TOP:

  • This is my first time attempting a bustier / long-line bra top. So many new-to-me details. I really should have tried a commercial patterns first. Doing it on my own meant brain freeze from juggling too many somewhat-relevant-but-not-entirely advices from scatter sources.
  • I roughly followed the instruction in “Create a Foam-Cup Bra” article from Threads 9/2014 (issue 174). The cup padding pattern was drafted without seam allowance, then the pieces butt jointed with zig-zag stitches. The cup assemblage instruction was particular helpful to get a clean finish at neckline and armholes.
  • After I decided to turn the dress into separates, I had to ditch the CF zipper idea. I went for hooks & eyes as it fits the bustier look. But I didn’t have any hooks & eyes tape in the right color. So they had to be sewn individually. And for modesty a placket had to be added beneath the CF opening.
  • Rigilene boning was added to the lining at side seams, underbust princess seams, & CF opening in the hope of further helping the girls defy gravity.
  • The hem was finished with bias binding and stretch stitching to aid breathability while preserving a tight fit. I’ve been using a hybrid of backstitch & slipstitch wherever I need a stretchy binding top-stitch that disappears into the ditch. It’s basically a one-step-backward (right side) -two-steps-forward (hem fold) slipstitch. I haven’t come across this in any of my sewing books, so it’s something I cobbled together for myself. Maybe I’ll do a tutorial on this. I also used it for the Mustard Many-Faced Skirt waistband.

SKIRT:

  • Although I could have just used the drawstring for the waistband, I added the elastic in the hope that it’ll help keep the skirt in place whether I wear it at the waist or lower down. I find that if my skirts aren’t fitted from waist to just below high-hip, then they have a tendency to spin around after a few hours’ wear. Since the skirt is A-line, so not fitted in this area, I’m hoping the elastic will grab on to my love-handles and keep the skirt in line.

The Verdict

My cups weren’t particularly successful. Or at least they didn’t do what I wanted them to do. The Fiberfill is too thin for modesty padding. My cup shaping probably isn’t right either as it leaves me with deflated pointy apexes & still droopy old boobs. But the ease I did add in does allow me to wear a proper bra under this tight top. So problem averted this time.

I’m not entirely convinced by my vertical seaming on the cups either. Most bustier tops seem to employ horizontal cup seaming. But this is good enough for now. If only I have a summery pedal pusher to match. And somewhere warmer to wear this in!

The skirt I think will be quite handy. I really should make more fuller skirt. Unless I’m working my day job, pencil skirts are a bit claustrophobic for my unladylike manners, cross-legged sitting style and all.

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