Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shades of Grey

Draft:
Composition:
grey-striped button down (Gap)
linen blazer (Gap)
putty-toned shorts (J.Crew)
charcoal T-strap heels (gift from Liz, Xhilaration via Target)

Usage:
Liz gave me these fabulously versatile heels at the beginning of the month as both a birthday present and a celebratory gift for completing our M.A. degrees.  I'm debuting the cuties for the first time on SSG, but I've worn them to almost every semi-formal occasion - with the exception of this wedding - so far this summer.  How did I ever survive without a pair of grey heels?  Thank you, Liz!

Today is appropriate to showcase these T-strap wonders because, since returning from my vacation in Charleston and Savannah, I'm obsessing over washed-out hues.  I normally spend the summer months in bright colors, wallowing in saturated pinks, greens, yellows, and blues.  Earlier in June, I even gave a shout-out to neons.  But you may have suspected my change of heart when I returned from my travels in a white-button down and bleached jeans.  Indeed, strolling the historic streets of these southern cities convinced me that muted has merit.  It's cooler, breezier, and, some argue, even chicer.  (Chicer is a word, right? It looks funny to me.)

I'm doing subdued today by mixing shades of grey.  The striped grey button-down is one of my favorite summer pieces, since it's gauzy and suggestively - in the confident, easy, warm weather way - see-through.  Last week I threw it on over bathing suits; this week, I'm tucking it under this light linen blazer.  The putty-toned shorts are barely a shade darker than the top.  (They also mark my second occasion of testing the waters of short-shorts on this blog!  Eek.)  And Liz's gifted heels punctuate the ensemble with the most saturated charcoal shade.

The spectrum of grey traveling down my silhouette makes me want to fist-pump the air.  It was accidental, but I like the visual line it creates, and that it highlights the ruffled T-straps.  How does the gradation  of grey resonate with you?

Prompts:
  • Was I successful in compiling a muted look?  What else would you have done to emphasize the de-emphasized colors?
  • How do you feel about wearing heels with shorts?  Too much like a Nair TV commercial?
  • Do you think muted tones are chic-er than saturated colors?  Which hues do you prefer for summer?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Four Eyes

Draft:



Composition:
blue top (H&M)
white eyelet skirt (Express)
white kitten heels (Aldo)
seahorse necklace (gift from boyfriend)
glasses

Usage:
I'm back from my adventures abroad!  I had an absolutely wonderful time, though it is definitely good to be home.  As a result of my trip, I have some traveling style posts coming up, but first I have a confession to make to you, my dear SSG readers.  The outfits that you see on this blog are often not exactly as they appear in real life.  For you see, I wear glasses (cue collective gasp).

I started wearing glasses in high school, at first only to read or to see the blackboard, but soon I needed them all the time.  I got contacts in college, but I rarely wear them unless I'm going out at night or am generally only doing fun activities.  I find that wearing my contacts during sustained reading and/or computer use - my main everyday activities as required by my studies and my job - hurts my eyes and my vision becomes blurry after a certain period.  I'm not entirely sure why my eyes don't take well to prolonged use - possibly because of my astigmatism or maybe just my reluctance to take the time to truly break them into everyday usage.  So, I generally wear my glasses at work, while reading, and in class.  However, I do not particularly like the way that I photograph in my glasses, so for all SSG photos I remove them.

I got to thinking about this vanity because on my travels, whenever one of my travel companions would take a photo of me, I would hesitate to take off my glasses.  The rare photo will actually feature this particular aspect of my outfit.  Unlike Liz, who unabashed dons her glasses in her SSG photos, which I love.  She also has super cute glasses, which I hope to attain at an upcoming overdue optometrist appointment.  She wrote about her glasses once, where she said that she "constructed her glasses as a mediation between her and the people who are staring at her."

I regard my glasses very differently.  As opposed to thinking of them as a barrier between internal and external, I think of them as completely internal.  I do not actually regard my glasses as part of my look, part of my style.  Rather, I consider them as an extension of me, as part of my body rather than as an accessory.  Perhaps it it because they function in conjunction with a body part, as a necessity for me to see properly, than as an a accoutrement, as something purely for frill.

Why, then, take the time to remove the glasses for pictures?  Why not leave them on if they really are a part of me?  I suppose I consider it like brushing my hair before a picture or checking if there is something in my teeth - trying to showcase the best possible me rather than the as-is me.  I'm not entirely sure that my logic on this issue is solid; in fact, I'm sure it is not.  However, as with most personal style quirks, that doesn't really matter.

After my trip, I realized that maybe it was time to embrace the glasses as part of my look, at least for one post.  I'll probably go back to leaving them the hidden final touch to my look in photos, like a swipe of lipstick right after the camera flash.  Maybe if I get new glasses they'll make an occasional appearance, though I doubt it.  Or perhaps I'll actually start wearing my contacts regularly when my work will change drastically come fall (no more office work and teaching in the spring).  Until then (or not), I at least have one moment where I proudly stood up (sat at my computer?) and said, "I wear glasses, hear me roar!"

Prompts:
  • Do you wear glasses?  Are you proud of them?  Ashamed of them?  Indifferent to them?
  • If you do wear glasses, do you consider them as part of your look or as an extension of you?
  • Do you have a certain styling blogging/photography vanity?

Monday, June 28, 2010

When Styling Falls Flat

Draft:

Composition:
necklace (gift from husband)
gray eyelet cami (American Eagle)
purple pocketed dress (H&M, from my sister's closet)
stone belt (NY&Co)
white wedges (MIA)

Usage:
I've already shared some of my surprising styling successes here on the blog, so I thought I'd see how you guys respond to a styling look that, for me, completely falls flat.  I found this great dress in my sister's closet, so I thought I'd try pairing it with light-hued accessories to make it feel summery.  I tried to add some visual interest by wearing this eyelet cami underneath instead of a standard plain white one.  I like this cami as a layering piece because I just can't quite bring myself to wear a lace cami to work-- it feels like my undergarments are showing-- but the eyelet detail feels like a nice middle ground.  I swapped out the purple tie belt that came with the dress for my stone colored belt and put on my new favorite wedges.  I guess the outfit isn't terrible, but it's putting me to sleep.  On top of that, I noticed that the skirt portion of the dress was a little snug when I tried it on, but after wearing it all day led to the nice accordion of wrinkles across my lap that you see here, I accepted that this dress will just have to stay in my sister's closet.

I've been trying to think of how I might have styled this differently, and I think what the dress really wanted were some pops of warm-hued colors.  I have been coveting Anne-Marie's orange pumps and coordinating bangles since she debuted them here, and I can imagine that pairing bright accessories like those with this dark dress, rather than relying on light-toned neutrals, would have resulted in a much better look.  It occurs to me also that I might have too much going on here in terms of "visual interest."  With sheen, pleated pockets (4!), buttons, eyelet, and a belt that varies in thickness and texture, it's like the eye doesn't even know where to look.

Prompts:

  • How do you style dark-toned garments to make them feel more summery?
  • How often do you put together an outfit, wear it all day, and then still decide that it just isn't working?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Up, Up, and Awhiteshirt

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I celebrated my oldest brother's college graduation in these pumps.
I practically sleep in these boyfriend jeans.  I've worn them over and over again.

Composition:
headband (J.Crew)
white button-down shirt (Gap)
boyfriend jeans (Gap)
nude heels (Nine West via Piperlime)

Usage:
I snapped these photos minutes after hauling my suitcase out of my car, up my front stairs, and onto my second floor landing.  Before changing into sweatpants and collapsing on the couch, I wanted to capture my latest traveling wear for you road tripping warriors: a simple outfit for a blissfully uncomplicated day of airport hopping and airplane reading.   (Speaking of reading, today while awaiting a flight in Charlotte, I completed Dave Eggers' Zeitoun.  Anyone else read the book or plan to?)

I just returned from a week spent between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.  I am sunburned and exhausted and energized.  Travel has that effect, doesn't it?  It yields a sort of tired vitality.  As such, my contented mood matches the time-worn dynamism of the classic white button-down.  The shirt is well-loved, yet resilient.  It's a sartorial staple that revives itself season after season.  I rely on it and these periodic jaunts to new scenes for similar reasons: both remind me to pare down my wardrobe and lifestyle to the basics, and, in so doing, they refresh my (out)look and my spirit. 

The girls and I don't normally post on Sundays, but our travel plans converge this weekend.  Katie and I return from our getaways, and Liz begins a week of relaxation.  Our post schedule won't change, never fear.  However, we are planning to showcase the new dressing ideas we've gathered from the fresh sights and faces.

Prompts:
  • I depend on this simple white button-down for airline travel.  What are your favorite garments for plane hopping?
  • I mentioned my latest read, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.  Which books have made your summer list?
  • Where are your favorite vacation destinations?  What types of clothing do you pack for the locations?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wedding Fashion: Not a Dress?

Drafts:
Earlier Drafts:
This skirt has helped me ease into neon.

Composition:
yellow spotted top (Billabong via Swell)
pink skirt (Target)
gold heels (Guess)
yellow clutch (SR Squared by Sondra Roberts)

Usage:
I enjoy wedding season, even the thick, dead-heat-of-summer of it.  The romance, the food, the music, and the reunions with old friends combine to make June and July weekends positively delightful.  Last Saturday, I road-tripped with friends to just such a festive occasion in Connecticut.  I easily planned my casual outfits for the mini-vacation, but I was stumped as to my (semi-)formal attire.  I'm disenchanted with dresses, see.

I'm over frocks because I've cycled through most of my own.  My interior monologue goes like so: "I wore that dress to a bridal shower last week, this one to my brother's graduation, and I'm reserving that one for an outdoor affair in the middle of August."  Not that I own merely three dresses.  But what's with this No Overlap rule?  The one which cautions against outfit repeats, especially at weddings which occur in the same calendar year and with similar guest lists?  Don't the gods of wedding fashion empathize with our plight?  It's nearly impossible to wear a dress differently enough to disguise it as an entirely new ensemble.  (Props to Liz for accomplishing just such a feat earlier this week.)  Sure, a unique clutch, heels in a different shade, and perhaps a belt can infuse a frock with new vitality, but changing the accessories won't prevent your former college apartmentmate from greeting you with, "I haven't seen you since So-and-So's wedding last month!  Weren't you wearing the same dress then?"  Hmph.  Detected.

I'm also disillusioned with dresses because I'm bored with their silhouettes, especially the two to which I most often revert.  First, I'm tempted to purge my closet of all empire-waisted, spaghetti-strapped, knee-length, mono-articles of clothing.  I'm tired of seeing myself in them, and wedding attendees everywhere likely sense my halfheartedness toward donning them, too.  On my curve-less body this look is the quintessence of "Blah."  Second, although I'm grateful for my trusty strapless get-ups, I supremely dislike joining the requisite mob of fellow tube-topped women simultaneously hiking up their uppermost hems in preparation for the bouquet toss.  At the most, I feel cloned and mechanical; at the very least, I feel well-choreographed.  Are we all bored with these silhouettes, or do I need to join the rest of you in branching out?  More variety please, screams my closet!

In my pursuit of more interesting semi-formal options for the Connecticut fete, the color palette of Katie's Catherine Malandrino dress inspired me.  I liked her refreshing combination of pinks and yellows.  Even better, I liked that my limited frock selection prompted me to translate Katie's pastels into a neon-hued skirt + top pairing of my own.  I wanted rose-plus-lemon, but my closet offered the more saturated bubblegum-plus-trafficlight.  I wanted a new silhouette, and I got frills and layers, without venturing down the dress route.  This look feels energized to me.  What do you think?

Next up on my silhouette pursuit: pants to a wedding.  I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try it.  Have any of you ladies attempted it?

Prompts:
  • What silhouettes do you normally wear to weddings and other semi-formal / formal affairs?
  • How do you dress creatively for events which require more or less standard attire?
  • Have you ever worn pants to a wedding, ladies?  If so, how did you wear them?  I'd like to try it, but I need some advice from braver souls first.
  • After I wore this top, Liz expressed surprise that I had effectively repurposed a surf brand garment for an explicitly uncasual event.  We're both loyal to beach wear, but we tend to keep it in context, this outfit being an exception.  Would you wear pieces cross-context like this?  To what extent to you heed the marketing of clothing brands? 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shorts and Stripes

Drafts:

Earlier Drafts:
I started wearing this jacket again when I realized I could cuff the sleeves, and I wore it again with these Chucks in an All-American look.
I showed you these walking shorts before I altered them, and I've been wearing these wedges nonstop since I bought them to re-energize my summer wardrobe.

Composition:
antiqued gold finish earrings (Charlotte Russe)
navy cotton jacket (Gap Outlet)
nautical stripe tank (Gap)
white walking length shorts (Old Navy, altered)
white short shorts (Old Navy)
white wedges (MIA)
white sneakers (Converse Chuck Taylors)

Usage:
After weeks and weeks of searching, I finally found the perfect navy and white nautical striped top-- for $4 at gap.com!  I love navy and white, and I love how crisp they look together, so when I started seeing this trend on other blogs a few months back, I fell hook line and sinker for it (too much with the nautical talk?).  I hope you guys are feeling the nautical-inspired love because I can already tell that I'm going to try to find a million different ways to wear this tank.  (Starting again on Saturday when the U.S. takes on Ghana in the World Cup!)

For my first try, I paired the tank with white short shorts and my chucks in an attempt to beat the unbearable heat when I went out to run errands with my husband.  I've already boasted about how comfortable I am with my runner's legs, so it might not be a surprise that I wear short shorts, though I completely understand why plenty of women feel ambivalent about them.  Oscar seems to be questioning my shoe choice, but I liked how the Chucks gave the look a sporty Americana-esque feel.

Then I immediately began thinking about how I could get away with wearing this tank to work.  I knew it would look great under my navy jacket, so I thought I'd go white on the bottom again.  I  pulled out these "are they cropped pants or are they walking shorts?" shorts, cut off the hem, and cuffed them over.  I've had these "shorts" for several years, and I have no idea why it never occurred to me to alter them before.  My creativity must have been inspired by my love of this tank and my frequent pilgrimage to the blogs written by ladies who regularly modify their own clothing.  I can already tell they'll get much more wear like this.

Finally, I love the nautical stripes with navy and white, but I also like them with pops of contrasting colors.  Though my favorite nail color of this summer, OPI's Mod-ern Girl, only provides a very small pop of color, I think it completes the look.  I put this orange hued jelly polish on my nails several weeks ago and have worn it nearly every day since.  It never chips!  I do think that keeping your nails short is key when you're wearing an almost-neon shade like this, though.

Prompts:
  •  Have you embraced this nautical-inspired trend or are you resisting it?
  • Should I hem these walking shorts or keep them cuffed?  (You can click to enlarge if you want to get a better look at the cuffs.)  I'm afraid my cuffing obsession is approaching the level of my belting obsession.  Feel free to stage an inter-cuff-tion.
  • Can you wear shorts to work, or is that a no-no in your workplace?  I think these are walking shorts are suitable for working on campus during the summer, but I might not teach in this ensemble.
  • Are you buying my claim that my orange nails serve as an adequate pop of color?  What apparel color should I try pairing with my nautical stripes next?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scarving and Summering

Drafts:
Earlier Drafts:
I wore these slouchy jeans for a relaxed night on the town.
I paired these sandals with my favorite jean jacket.

Composition:
Road Trip Wear (above):
nautical patterned scarf (the sale bin at Irresistibles)
violet layered tank (Swell)
boyfriend jeans (Gap)
strappy sandals (Target)

Safari Chic Challenge (below):
green patterned cotton scarf (Old Navy, eons ago)
khaki shirt dress (Gap)
three-strand woven belt (Lulu's)
bangles (thrifted)
aviator sunglasses (Fells Point Surf Co.)
strappy sandals (Target)

Usage:
Many thanks to Sally of Already Pretty and Jessica of What I Wore for featuring Liz and me in your style challenges yesterday!  We had fun crafting the ensembles, and we especially enjoyed joining forces with other bloggers.  For our first-time and new readers, thanks for stopping by!  We hope you stick around.

Today I'm exploring uses of the patterned head scarf, the accessory which Vogue magazine calls in its latest issue (page 64, if you're interested) the "ubiquitous" hairwear of the summer.

Last weekend I embarked on a road trip to New England with my husband, my girlfriend, and my girlfriend's husband.  Our destination?  Connecticut!  Our mutual amigo from college married his gal in Enfield, and the four of us were thrilled to celebrate the occasion with him and his new wife.  Their wedding also served as a great excuse to explore historic Greenwich.  So, on our way back from the affair, we shopped along Greenwich Avenue.  I wore the above outfit to stroll the shops with the locals and to brunch al fresco at an Italian restaurant.  (I'm embarrassed to confess to our native New England readers that I ate pasta instead of lobster that day, but I promise I sampled your famed regional delicacy during the weekend!  Lobster in its original context was as delicious as I had imagined.)

These slouchy boyfriend jeans seem to work better with this purple top than with this baggy brown one.  And the layered tank suits my flat-chested self by adding volume.  The scarf was an afterthought, to be honest, but  I hadn't blow-dried my hair that day, so doubling-over the width of the gauzy fabric and wearing it as a headband served as a great alternative to a baseball cap.  I loved the scarf's hue, and the nautical pattern gestured good-naturedly at my waterside context.  It's always nice when a styling afterthought becomes an outfit's centerpiece.

Feeling emboldened in my scarf experimentation, I repurposed one of the long, cotton variety into hairwear for Jessica's Safari Chic Challenge.  Normally, I wear this particular accessory around my neck, doubled or knotted in various configurations.  Seeing that my khaki shirt dress could use a pop of color, I tried wearing the lime-patterned fabric in this way, coiled around my neck.  It looked too bulky.  I wanted to look breezy, imagining myself on the exotic African plains.  So this time, I wore the scarf like a kerchief, tucking my hair into a knot at the nape of my neck.  The result?  Behold:
What do you think of these looks?  Would you wear the scarves differently, tie them in a knot or in a bow, throw them o'er your shoulder like a continental soldier? Or, erm, abandon them altogether?

Prompts:
  • Are you wearing head scarves this summer?  How are you sporting this look?
  • Why do you wear scarved hairwear?  Are you exchanging hats for scarves for a bit of sun protection, to escape laborious hair styling?  Or, do you favor scarves for less practical reasons?
  • Native New Englanders (and others, too!), what do you think of my Greenwich shopping look?  Should I have worn something more context-friendly, like, say, a navy polo dress and boat shoes?
  • What do you think of the Safari Chic look?  Too literal?  Not enough Meryl Streep a la Out of Africa?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Style Blogger Collaboration

We've got some exciting news for our readers today-- we're being featured on two very notable style blogs! 

Liz's black-out week challenge looks can be found at Already Pretty.  Please visit the Already Pretty Round-up post to see all the ladies who participated in Sally's black-out challenge.  To see Liz's own black-out week write-up, click here.  Thanks to Sally for issuing the challenge and showcasing Liz's participation!

Liz and Anne-Marie both participated in the What I Wore Safari Chic Style Challenge.  For your own safari chic inspiration, visit Jessica's What We Wore post and check out the other stylish ladies there.  For Liz's safari ensemble write-up, click here.  Thanks to Jessica for rallying so many ladies to share their style savvy!

And to those of you who are visiting our blog for the first time, Welcome!!  We hope you'll let us know what you think!

From Vacation to Vocation

Drafts: 
 
Composition:
antiqued gold finish earrings (Charlotte Russe)
purple cotton jersey dress (Victoria's Secret online)
white button down (Express via sister's closet)
brown stretch belt (Kohl's)
brown wedge sandals (Old Navy)

Usage:
I mentioned earlier that I was having a lot of trouble finding affordable, easy summer dresses, so naturally I found this one after I had given up searching.  I really like the fit of this dress, and it will be perfect for my upcoming beach vacation, my attendance at a summer ATP tennis tournament, and countless outdoor social gatherings.  The cut of the dress is definitely not work appropriate, though, so I wanted to try to re-style it in order to get some use out of it during my work week.

A while back, I put together this look which featured a belt to disguise the line between my button-down and one of my favorite skirts.  I thought I'd try to recreate that look with this dress since its skirt is an office appropriate length.  I found this short-sleeve button down in my sister's closet, so I wore that over the dress, folded up the bottom of the top, and positioned it under the belt.  This belt is about 2" wide, and all but the buckle is stretch material, so it did a nice job of flattening out the fold and disguising it.  I thought I might end up adjusting this all day long, but I was surprised at how well the belt held everything in place.

When I wear this again, I think I'll wear the belt about one inch lower so it's not right under my bust, but I liked the overall look here.  I'm always excited to find new ways to maximize the usefulness of an article of apparel! 

Prompts:
  • Do you tend to keep your work wear and your casual attire separate, or do you try to find ways to mix and match them?
  • Do you have any other tricks for making a more casual item of apparel more appropriate for the classroom or office?  (Feel free to share links!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wedding Fashion: Bridesmaid Dress

Draft:


Composition:
bridesmaid dress (David's Bridal)
silver heels (BCBGMaxAzaria)

Usage:
(Note: I'm traveling between June 16 and June 28, so I won't be commenting or responding to anything until I return.)

As I mentioned previously, one of my closest friends got married recently.  I served as a bridesmaid, and here's how I looked on the big day.  For me, picking out bridesmaid dresses presented a few problems.  I'm in another wedding this summer and in both cases, I told the brides that I would wear whatever they wanted - a giant taffeta gown, a tuxedo, really anything - as long as it sufficiently covered me up.  The problem is that I am bustier than the average bridesmaid.  To find a dress that fits my chest without looking obscene (hence, the covered up requirement) is harder than it looks.  I often have trouble wearing strapless dresses because they often do not provide ample coverage.  This dress, however, comes up high enough that it makes me look decent for church, much to my (and the bride's) relief.

For my hair, I requested a loose, side-swept updo, and I was pleased with how it came out.  The bride, per tradition, gave us the purple-hued jewelry that we wore on the big day.  Though I had little to do with how I fashioned or styled myself for this day, I ended up happy with the way that I looked.  In this blog, we try to think about the ways that we present ourselves through clothing and the messages we send.  Being in a bridal party presents an interesting stylistic arena as you do not necessarily represent yourself through your look (of course, there are exceptions to this).  I like to think of it as such: you represent your love, loyalty, and support for the bride through your clothing on her wedding day.  In the case of both weddings that I am in this summer, I am honored to stand by these strong, beautiful women as they take this step forward into matrimony.  To L and A, congratulations.

Prompts:
  • Have you been a bridemaid?  How many times?  What did you wear?  How did you feel about it?
  • Brides, how did think about styling your bridesmaids?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Submission Sunday: Vickie

Introduction:
Liz's sister Vickie recently completed her Bachelor's of Nursing degree and is currently studying for the NCLEX.  She didn't tell us how she would describe her personal style, but Liz would describe Vickie's style as colorful, relaxed, and classic.

Draft: 
Summer Black-Out Challenge: Go Bold!


Composition:
blue v-neck tee (Old Navy)
patchwork skirt (craft fair in Nicaragua)
headband (bowtie from dad’s closet)

Usage:
Since half of my wardrobe made its SSG debut last week, I thought I might try this challenge for myself.  Black is a staple in my closet, as almost all of my accessories are black, and it’s the neutral I find most comforting.  So when I was getting ready for church this morning and looking at the “camp/wedding wardrobe” that isn’t currently at my sister’s house, I found this skirt, and decided that I would not only go without black, but try to make as bold of a fashion statement as possible.

I bought this skirt while on a medical mission trip in Central America, so wearing it always reminds me of good times and great people, and this gave me the extra push to go all out.  I usually wear it with a white shirt, since I think it’s bright enough on its own, but decided to try something new today.  I also thought to myself “what would Emma wear?

My favorite McKinley HS guidance counselor seems to always pair bold skirts with bright tops, or the other way around, so I felt like I could use that as inspiration for straying away from all neutrals.  I found this pink bowtie hanging on the back of my dad’s door, and was thrilled to find that it fit my head perfectly, and pulled another color out of the skirt.

I agree with Katie’s idea that bright colors can put you in a good mood, as well as Liz’s idea that some items have sentimental value.  Both of those things are true of this outfit.

I’ll admit that I wore black flip-flops when I wore this outfit to church because I didn’t pack many shoes, so it was either those or bright red heels, which didn’t seem to work.  I’ve been working on my cheesy poses since I’ll be spending the next 8 weeks at camp, and cheesiness is a must when surrounded by middle schoolers.

Prompts:
  • Is this too bold?  Does it draw away from the skirt to be wearing a non-neutral on top?
  • What shoes would work best here?
  • Does this large pink bow make me look like a present?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cuffs and Conversation

Draft:

Earlier Drafts:
I have worn these jeans with boots for comfort and to show off the length of my legs.
I debuted these wedges last week during the black-out and wore them again with an easy cotton jersey outfit.

Composition:
pewter disc earrings (Charlotte Russe)
blue "boyfriend" cardigan (Gap)
white cami (Old Navy)
dark wash skinnies (American Eagle)
white canvas wedges (Mia)

Usage:
I submitted my final paper of the Spring semester almost exactly a month ago, but I'm still trying to get used to this elusive thing we call "free time."  I promised myself and my professors that I'd give myself a little bit of a mental break this summer, so though I've been doing some reading at a leisurely pace, I haven't been devoting a whole lot of attention to my academic pursuits.  I'm still working at my office job through the end of July, but I only work there 20 hours a week, so I'm home from work on Mondays and Wednesdays.  It's great, and I feel fully rested, but to be completely honest, I hardly know what to do with myself.  I'm used to being the queen of the to-do list.

As part of my ongoing project to learn how to relax, Anne-Marie and I finally arranged to meet up for lunch at a popular neighborhood in the city.  It wasn't the closest spot between our two houses.  It wasn't beautiful weather.  We didn't have a specific time by which we had to leave.  We didn't have a plan for a restaurant at which to meet.  It was perfectly impractical!  Our friendship has largely been defined by carving out time to talk amidst looming deadlines, so it was fun to get together to eat, chat, and wander outside those constraints.  We even found, in one shop, a "not to-do list" on which to write all the things one is not going to accomplish that day!  (Should have bought it.)

I also used this outing as part of my ongoing project to learn how to put together casually chic ensembles.  Since it was cooler, I was excited to pull my skinnies and this thin knit "boyfriend" sweater back out of the closet.  When I purchased the sweater early in the spring, I wore it fairly frequently because I love the color.  But the mild weather gave me a genius idea: I could cuff up the sleeves and wear it elbow length!  I would have photographed the sweater with the sleeves down to show you how much better it looks cuffed, but it takes a lot of work to make cuffs look effortlessly folded!  Believe me when I tell you, though, that the slouchy fit, the pockets, and the length of this sweater look way better with cuffed sleeves than with long sleeves.  Though it would have made my legs look longer to leave the jeans uncuffed, I decided to cuff them as well.  I like how the cuff on the jeans "goes" with the cuffed sleeves, and I also like how the jean cuff introduces a third shade of blue to the look.

I'm used to dressing up to perform professionalism, and I definitely noticed that the easy, relaxed perfection I felt in this look really helped set the tone for my easy, relaxed outing with Anne-Marie.  I hope I continue to find success in my attempts to use clothing to help me separate this summer break from my regularly scheduled program.  I hope you're all enjoying an easy, relaxed weekend!

Prompts:

  • If you had a whole day off from your regular responsibilities, what would you do with it?
  • Academics, what are some strategies you've found useful in making the transition from in-semester rigor to out-of-semester relaxation?  (Yes, I realize I'm asking you to help me strategize my relaxation.  You can't take the academic out of the girl entirely, I guess.)
  • Any suggestions for my next attempt at casual dressing?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Road Trippin' Wear

Draft:
Previous Drafts:
These are my new favorite shoes.  I wore them here and here.  And a few days in between.

Composition:
plaid button-down (Target)
khaki shorts (Lulu's)
wedge heels (RJ Girl via Piperlime)
aviator sunglasses (Fells Point Surf Co.)

Usage:
This weekend I'm taking my first ever couples road trip with a girlfriend and her husband.  Have you ever vacationed with other couples?  I'm excited to travel together, and I'm especially thrilled to traipse around our quaint New England destinations (details to come!).

For our first day on the road, I'm keeping my outfit simple: shorts, button-down, and wedge heels.  Typically I'm not a short-shorts kind of girl, but I've committed to a more intense running regimen this summer, so I'm feeling bold.

I'm also happy to revive this plaid top, which I haven't worn in years.  The cap sleeves are newly adorable to me, as is the cinched waist.  They add interest and make this shirt a little special, I think.

Happy weekending!

Prompts:
  • Are you road trippin' this summer?  Tell me about your outfit (and traveling) plans!
  • If you wear shorts, which lengths and cuts do you prefer? 
  • If you don't wear shorts, why not?  Maybe we can commiserate?  Therapy-ize each other?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wedding Fashion: Rehearsal Dinner

Draft:


Composition:
yellow and pink beaded dress (Catherine Malandrino)
black belt (Macy's)
black sandals (DSW)

Usage:
(Note: I'm traveling between June 16 and June 28, so I won't be commenting or responding to anything until I return.)

This past weekend my oldest friend, who I've known for 20 years, got married in an absolutely gorgeous wedding at which I was honored to serve as a bridesmaid.  The ceremony was beautiful and so touching, and the reception was a blast - one of the best times I've had all year.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Before the wedding, there's the rehearsal, to avoid confusion and panic (especially for me, the wedding illiterate bridesmaid) on the big day, and the rehearsal dinner.  For these events, I wore this dress. 

I adore Catherine Malandrino - her clothes are feminine, classy, and always have little flirty, sassy touches that set them apart.  I drool over her fashion but rarely get to experience it firsthand.  I'm lucky enough to own two of her pieces: this skirt, which I received as a Christmas gift, and this dress.  I got it awhile ago at a Nordstrom's, marked down from $500 to $150.  I haven't had an event to wear it to until now.

I very rarely wear yellow, but I like this festive, bright yellow and pink color combination.  The beading of the dress at the neckline gives it built-in bling.  Truth be told, I'm not completely thrilled with the way I styled this dress.  With all the color, I thought a black belt would look good, bringing out the black hints in the dress, and paired with the understated black sandals, the dress could really sing.  I think it looks ok but not great.  I wanted a pink belt, but I didn't have one/couldn't find one that looked good with the dress.  Next time, I'd like to try it with pink heels and a pink belt to really embrace the color.  Or would that be overkill?

Prompts:
  • What suggestions do you have for styling this dress in the future?
  • What do you wear to rehearsal dinners or other wedding related parties?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jean Scene

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I wore this linen cropped jacket during my last graduate school exam.
These wedges sustained me through my first week of job-hunting.
I carried this bag with a classic jean jacket.

Composition:
linen cropped jacket (Gap via my sister's closet)
brown jersey-knit tee (no tag, likely thrifted)
boyfriend jeans (Gap)
wedge heels (RJ Girl via Piperlime)
bag (Marshalls)

Usage:
Lately I'm obsessed with jean everything.  Something about the near-90 degree weather makes me want to wrap myself in a stiff pair of Levis.  You should see me in the morning.  I'm like Gollom chanting "My preciousss" before my closet, throwing on nearly every jeaned item I own, coat-rack style.  Yesterday, after espying my veritable three piece suit - I kid you not: pants, vest, jacket of acid-washed medley - my husband gently coaxed me into "paring down the ensemble."  I kept the pants.  Why did I keep the pants?  My legs were producing more moisture per minute than our backyard sprinkler.  I can't figure out why I've timed my fascination so irrationally.  In these climbing temperatures, I should crave skirts, sundresses, and breathable fabrics.  And iced beverages.  I'm almost positive I'm the only one still ordering hot coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  The cashier asked me twice to verify that I, in fact, did not want an iced latte.

"No sir, I missed my jog this morning, so I'd like to get my sweat on in an alternative manner."

Maybe the rain has helped along my fixation.  Last week, on a dreary day, I wrote about my favorite and loyal and reliable and devoted jacket.  Today I'm all about the boyfriend jeans.  Slouchy, roomy, and not nearly as perspiration-inducing as their cousin of the skinny variety, these babies have lately carried me through an overcast evening of outdoor dining in Annapolis.

That said, maybe my context has prompted my compulsion.  Annapolis is a relaxed city, a mecca of boat shoes and windbreakers.  Here it's not uncommon to transition from boat deck to candle-light dinner in a single evening without a major wardrobe upgrade.  So when my girlfriend and I decided to meet our husbands for dinner in the town's quaint harbor, my heart thumped out a rhythmic boyfriend jean! beat.  Ah, relaxation for relaxation.

I'm hoping my linen jacket tempers the pants' unseasonable appearance.  That, and their light wash.  Next time, I probably won't pair them - they with the saggy waist line - with this top - it with the banded and cinched hem.  The combination gives the illusion of a heftier midsection.  And I might cuff the jeans higher to expose a bit more of my pale summer skin.  How would you convince these pants they they belong in warmer months?  Or, first thing's first, do they?

Prompts: 
  • Do you favor jeans in summer, or do you definitively ban them after the weather reaches certain temperatures?
  • What's your favorite way to wear jean-ed anything, pants especially?  I'm running out of ideas! (Does that mean I should stop wearing them?)
  • How much weight do you give context in your dressing decisions?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Formal Fabric(ation)

Draft:

Earlier Draft:
I wore this skirt while considering the relationship between feminism and high heels.

Composition:
white tee (American Eagle)
silver-tone chain necklace (H&M)
gray jersey printed skirt (H&M)
white wedges (Mia)

Usage:
Since there are very few classes running during the summer session and most of the professors are rarely on campus, our office is more casual during these warmest months.  This change in formality has led me to start wondering why my clothing so frequently registers with others as "dressed up" when I simply think of myself as "dressed."

One thing I've noticed is that cotton jersey seems to read as more casual than synthetic jersey materials.  For example, when I wear a dress like this synthetic one, people respond to me as if I'm more "dressed up" than if I'm in a cotton jersey dress like this one, even though the cut and drape of those two dresses are nearly identical.

Today, I tried to embrace the casual feel of cotton jersey by pairing this cotton jersey skirt with a simple cotton tee instead of dressing it up with a crisp cotton button-down or a synthetic, airy top.  In my opinion, the necklace and heels made the outfit feel polished and office appropriate, but the look overall still expressed the summertime ease I enjoy while on a break from rigorous study.

Prompts:

  • Do you find that cotton jersey generally registers as less formal than synthetic jersey?  What other fabrics seem "informal" to you?
  • Why do you think these fabrics seem less formal than others?
  • What color top might I try pairing this skirt with in the future?  I've tried yellow, but I only felt lukewarm about that combination.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Black-Out Challenge


Drafts:

Composition:
Tuesday:                                                                  
purple satin-ish dress and belt (sister's closet)           
pink button-down (NY&Co)                                     
brown wedges (Old Navy)                                       
Wednesday:                                                                                  
antiqued gold earrings (Charlotte Russe)
green striped and yellow tanks (sister's closet)   
khakis (Old Navy)                                          
antiqued gold bangle (Ann Taylor Outlet)
white wedges (Mia via Sears.com)
 Thursday:                                                                
turquoise beaded necklace (Kohl's)                           
white button-down (NY&Co)                                   
stone belt (NY&Co)                                                  
cropped stone trousers (NY&Co)                              
rose gold flowered sandals (Old Navy)                    
Friday:
red jacket (sister's closet)
white cami (Old Navy)
brown belt (Kohl's)
cropped jeans (Gap)
red flats (gift from my mom)


Usage:
The alternative title for this post should be "Shopping My Sister's Closet."  My sister is storing her "nice" clothes at my house while she works at a summer camp for the next few months, which of course means I'm wearing them!  Best idea ever!  As I mentioned in my last post, I accepted Sal at Already Pretty's black-out challenge!  At first, I thought this would be easy, especially since I had access to so many extra items of clothing.  Over the course of the week, though, I realized I'm much more dependent on black apparel, accessories, and shoes than I had realized.

On Tuesday, I wanted to embrace bright colors to get away from Monday's neutral experiment.  This purple dress has the same cut as this one I love, and I originally tried wearing the button-down underneath the dress, like a jumper.  It didn't look right, though, so I put the button-down over the top and liked how the wide belt created a color blocking look.  In this outfit I felt bright and cheerful, and I noticed that being in a colored skirt gave me a little more pep in my step than my usual black pencil skirt does.

On Wednesday, I thought I'd try this almost-breton-stripe tank top I discovered in my sister's drawer.  (I love this look, which Anne-Marie styles here, but I haven't been able to find a breton tank top I like.)  I was feeling a little adventurous for my shopping excursion, I didn't have to go to work, and I was excited about my new white wedges, so I thought I'd try this cuffed khaki look I have liked on other women.  Verdict?  I still like this look on other women.  On me, I think it looks stupid.  Plus, I couldn't help feeling like the early 90s childhood version of myself who lived in pegged-legged jeans.  I had intended to use the yellow tank underneath to give the outfit a little more color, and the gold accessories to make it look more polished, but I still think the outfit looks too blah.  (If I cut out the jeans from Friday's look, and place them over the khakis paper-doll style, I think I'd have a MUCH better outfit!)

On Thursday, I thought about how one of my cold weather fall-backs is a combination of black and gray with a pop of color.  I decided that the summer alternative to this ensemble would be a combination of light khaki/stone items and white, and I added my turquoise necklace to serve as the pop of color.  I'm not sure that worked (it's mostly obscured by my hair), but I still liked this opposite take on my winter neutrals.  I felt refreshed and crisp in this ensemble.  Katie and I also agreed that the belt brought out the safari-like look of the button down, which has two chest pockets.  I can definitely see myself trying out different iterations of this color(less) scheme this summer.

On Friday, I was beside myself!  I couldn't think of anything to wear that wasn't black!  I wondered why I had ever accepted this challenge!  I wanted to get back in bed!  So I went back to my sister's closet and discovered this great red jacket/top.  It has some fantastic structural details that I'm not sure this picture really captures.  I know how I would have styled this any other time: with a black belt and black cami.  (I love red and black together.)  I was surprised how much more "summery" this outfit felt when I put on a white cami and brown belt instead.  I'm afraid the shoes might be taking me into matchy-matchy territory, but since they don't match the belt, I still felt safe in coordinated but not over-coordinated territory.

Thanks for this challenge, Sally!  It helped me realize that part of my problem with styling "summer appropriate" looks is that black is my default neutral.  Staying away from black helped me realize that I can use the clothes I already have to put together looks that feel right for warmer weather, whereas before I would have said that I have very few clothes that I like to wear during the summer.  I thought I would run out of steam when it came to avoiding black, but the looks from Thursday and Friday are actually my favorites, which suggests I was learning to think about my clothes even more creatively as the week went on.

Prompts:

  • Has writing or reading "style" blogs helped you to identify blind spots in your styling tendencies?  Which ones?
  • Have you ever tried "trendy" styling techniques like the cuffed khakis?  Can you execute them or do you fail miserably, like I did?
  • Did anyone notice that I'm not wearing any prints? (Unless you count stripes, which I don't.) What's up with that?  Looks like I might have my next styling challenge.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ol' Faithful

Draft:
Composition:
jean jacket (Ann Taylor Loft)
white tee (H&M)
skirt (Lulu's)
sandals (Target)
bag (Marshalls)

Usage:
I really want to dislike this jacket.  I really want to dislike most jean jackets, in fact.  They go awry so often, in so many ways.  The cut can be too boxy, or the sleeves/armpit area too baggy, or the collar too large, or the fabric too thin.  It's rare to find a winner in the jean outerwear department, I think.

But this number?  Ah, te amo, chaqueta!  I bought it for the Mao collar and the unoffensive wash, but I continue wearing it for the softness and the go-with-everything versatility.  On average, I've worn it every week since my senior year of high school.  That's not hyperbole, unfortunately.  (It smells like roses, don't fret.  Basically, I launder it as often as I shower.)  As the jacket ages like a fine wine and earns the "vintage" label, my affection for it multiplies.

Today I'm pairing my prized outergarment with a simple white tee, a bold-printed skirt, and some flats I scored for nearly nothing on sale at Target.  It's an easy early summer look, made comfier by my lived-in jeanlove.

Prompts:
  • What are your wardrobe faithfuls?
  • Has the bond you've formed with any of your favorite pieces surprised you?  Did you buy the garment with a tinge of skepticism, only to fall in love upon first wear?
  • I've owned this jean jacket since high school.  How long have you owned - and worn - any one article of clothing?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gifts

Draft:



Composition:
gray studded bag (Marshall's)
OPI nail polishes - from right to left: Russian Navy (matte), Jade is the New Black, Pamplona Purple, An Affair in Red Square, My Chihuahua Bites!, Japanese Rose Garden
sting ray charm necklace

Usage:
After my semester ended, I decided that I needed some serious retail therapy.  A lot of big stuff happened during spring semester 2010, including getting into a PhD program, defending my MA project, and getting my MA degree.  So, with seminar papers and my thesis behind me, I decided that I wanted to buy a present for myself.  Normally, I gift myself with shoes, but after scouring the usual sources - Zappos, Piperlime, Shoes.com, ShopItToMe, etc. - I couldn't find any pair that I really wanted.  Ahem...with the exception of these Betsey Johnson wedges (size 7) which I am utterly obsessed with and have been for some time.  However, I am a graduate student, and I'm in two weddings this summer, so I'm not in a financial situation to really indulge myself.  So, I had a splurge lite (a diet splurge?), which sounds like a contradiction, but welcome to grad school reality.

I love shopping at Marshall's because while they tend to be, in my experience, hit-or-miss, I almost always manage to find at least one or two items that I really like for low prices.  I never particularly liked the bags with a lot of hardware, but I've been looking for a non-black neutral bag, like a light beige-y brown or gray, like this one.  I was drawn to it for the color and the size - big enough to hold my essentials, plus a small notebook and/or books, essential for class going, but small enough that it's not a Bermuda Triangle bag where my lipsticks can never be found.  The metal doesn't overpower the bag; it just gives it enough interesting texture to separate it from a plain neutral purse.  And for $30, a major steal.

Since I got a great deal on the purse, I decided to get a second "self gift."  Liz and Anne-Marie always have cute manicures, and they've inspired me to pay more attention to my nails.  I consider buying several new nail polishes a splurge for me since I would never normally spend money on them - thus, making them the perfect, relatively inexpensive "Woo-got-my-MA" present.  In total, I spend less than half of the cost of the aforementioned Betsey Johnson wedges.

The necklace was not a self gift, but rather part of my (early) birthday present from my boyfriend.  I love all aquatic animals.  I jump and coo and generally act like a 5 year old when in an aquarium.  My roommates joke that I missed my calling as a marine biologist.  Of all sea creatures, I particularly adore sting rays.  I think that they are so cute and adorable (yes, I realize that I am in the minority here).  The chain of the necklace is the perfect length, and the charm is just quirky and cute and totally me.  I love it.  Normally, I'm wary about other people buying jewelry for me.  I have my signature necklace and ring and some other fun pieces, but I'm pretty particular about what I wear.  This necklace, though, is a great little piece that I'll definitely use to switch up my necklace choice.

Prompts:
  • Do you buy gifts for yourself?  Do you call them gifts to justify spending money, like me?
  • What style related gifts do you receive?  Do you get them from men or women?  Do you like your significant other to pick out jewelry or clothes for you?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Textual Analysis: Henry James

Draft:

Composition:
aviators (mall kiosk)
turquoise beaded necklace (Kohl's)
brown cotton jersey dress (Old Navy)
white cami (Old Navy)
brown wedge sandals (Old Navy)
dachshund as accessory (as advocated by Katie)

Usage:
When Katie and Anne-Marie and I were talking about elements we wanted to incorporate in our blog, I couldn't quite remember when I had begun thinking of dressing and composing as similar acts, but I did remember that we had been talking about the two of these as related since we had become friends.  In the "about" page for our blog, we explain accordingly, "Since we see 'composing an outfit' as an act similar to composing a written text, we've developed the 'style guide' theme to pay homage to the countless style guides, handbooks, and manuals we consult when we write."

Last week I revisited Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, which AM and I read together in our first semester of graduate school, and I came across the passage that I believe first tied these ideas together for me.  It begins with the words of Madame Merle, who is engaged in conversation with Isabel Archer.  (So I'll let James take it from here, rather than trying to paraphrase him.)

'When you've lived as long as I you'll see that every human being has his shell and that you must take the shell into account.  By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances.  There's no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we're each of us made up of some cluster of appurtenances.  What shall we call our "self"?  Where does it begin? where does it end?  It overflows into everything that belongs to us-- and then it flows back again.  I know a large part of myself is in the clothes I choose to wear.  I've got a great respect for things!  One's self-- for other people-- is one's expression of one's self; and one's house, one's furniture, one's garments, the books one reads, the company one keeps-- these things are all expressive.'
That was very metaphysical; not more so, however, than several observations Madame Merle had already made.  Isabel was fond of metaphysics, but unable to accompany her friend into this bold analysis of human personality.  'I don't agree with you.  I think just the other way.  I don't know whether I succeed in expressing myself, but I know nothing else expresses me.  Nothing that belongs to me is any measure of me; everything's on the contrary a limit, a barrier, and a perfectly arbitrary one.  Certainly the clothes which, as you say, I choose to wear, don't express me; and heaven forbid they should!'
'You dress very well,' Madame Merle lightly interposed.
'Possibly; but I don't care to be judged by that.  My clothes may express the dressmaker, but they don't express me.  To begin with it's not my own choice that I wear them; they're imposed upon me by society.'
'Should you prefer to go without them?' Madame Merle enquired in a tone which virtually terminated the discussion.

Our professor invited us to think of this passage as one in which the clothing metaphorically stands in for writing.  In his reading, Isabel's point of view suggests that what should matter in one's writing is one's ideas, and that those ideas should somehow be genuinely expressible.  Madame Merle's point of view, on the other hand, indicates that others cannot know what one is expressing except by interpreting one's modes of expression-- that, according to our professor, word choice, grammar, structure, etc. are things which carry one's expression to one's audience.  I think this analysis "works" in conjunction with my understanding of James, who I generally think of as a writer deeply invested in the expression of details because he believes the details are fundamentally important to his narratives.

I also think the passage functions very interestingly as simply an analysis of dressing choices, too.  I'm so thankful to have rediscovered this passage, which I believe has had a greater impact on the way I think about dressing myself than I had previously realized.  I tend to agree with Isabel that "expressing myself" would be nice to accomplish without having to employ the use of "things," and I wish it was possible to express myself outside society's impositions.  But I also agree with Mme. Merle that the "self" is not something that is so easy to define, and that "one's self-- for other people-- is one's expression of one's self."  I generally believe that whether we like it or not, we are judged by the way we present ourselves, and so we have a responsibility to make sure that our presentation of self (what she calls the "shell") aligns with what we think of ourselves.  And this does correspond to the act of writing, because I often tell my students that whether they like it or not, they will be judged on their use of language, because it is only through that use of language that their readers will be able to access their ideas.

So what does this outfit express about me?  I hope it indicates that I'm easy-going and approachable but also that I behave with intention and that I pay attention to details.  I think this looks is appropriate for a post on James because it is the detail of the turquoise necklace that brings the whole look together for me.  This detail, in my opinion, turns the outfit from something standard you'd see on an Old Navy mannequin into something that I styled for myself.  (And why the aviators?  Because I just got new contacts after several weeks of wearing glasses only, so I was excited to put on some sunglasses!)

And finally, this is my first look for Sal at Already Pretty's black-out week.  I wear more black than brown, but I like how brown looks better up against my bare skin than black, which creates a stark contrast.  For more info on black-out week, see here, and for a list of other participants, see here!  More on this in my next post!

Work Cited:
James, Henry.  The Portrait of a Lady.  Penguin Classics, 2003.  253.  Google Books.

Prompts:
  • I'd love to hear your responses to the James passage!
  • Do you think the necklace detail is enough to lay claim that this is an expressive outfit?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

R-R-R-Remix

Draft:

Earlier Drafts:
I pulled this dress out of the closet on the first day that was warm enough for bare legs.

Composition:
eyeglasses (Kate Spade)
acrylic necklace (Kohl's)
print sheath dress (H&M)
boring, uncomfortable white wedges (Michael Shannon via DSW)

Usage:

I'm experiencing a shopping slump.  I keep going to all my favorite stores in search of a few new summer dresses to spice up my warm weather wardrobe, and I keep failing.  Everything costs too much or doesn't fit well enough.  Even when I find something that fits at an affordable price, I just can't get myself excited enough about it to actually take it to the register.  Does this happen to you?

I've identified the following as possible reasons for my shopping slump:
  • I have switched my brain over to "money-saving" mode, so unless something is a steal, it seems too expensive.
  • I already love my own clothes much more than I like anything I'm finding in the stores.
  • I know that if I buy something I like but don't love, I probably won't wear it more than 2 or 3 times this summer.
  • I'm conscious that I might be trying to buy new things just for the sake of buying new things, so I can't decide if I really want to buy anything or not.
  • I've just seen SATC2 and am becoming increasingly afraid that shopping turned the interesting women I met in season 1 into the mindless consumers I just saw in the theater. (There are great conversations about the film going on at Cohabitating Closet and Fashionable Academics, btw.  My blogging buddies are helping me remain confident that loving clothes and thinking critically are not mutually exclusive.)
So I've decided to take a new approach: embrace the fact that I really do like much of what I already have in my closet, but give those items a fresh feel by adding some key accessories.  I really like the way my new-ish turquoise necklace is giving old tops a new look, and this acrylic necklace "goes" with everything.  I love this dress.  I've worn it to weddings, showers, work, and probably other places I'm forgetting.  I like the print, the fit, and I even kind of like the strange pouchy detail on the front.  (It makes a big lunch look like a conscious fashion choice.)  Can you tell it's belted?  Probably not.  The belt is totally disguised by the print, even IRL.  But we know I love a belt.

Since I am trying to focus on why accessories matter, I decided that these shoes are giving me a bad attitude toward my summer wardrobe.  They're not comfortable. They're not interesting.  Because they only have front straps, I feel like I have to use my toes to grip them as I walk.  So, they're on their way out.  I purchased a new pair of summer wedges this week to replace them, and if all goes well, I'll debut those on the blog soon.  I hope to wear them to death this summer as I experiment with remixing all the clothes I already own (but many of which you haven't seen yet)!  I've also ordered some new nail polishes in bright, summer hues that I am hoping will add some much-needed pops of color to my summer attire.

Prompts:
  • What puts you in a shopping slump?  What gets you out of one?
  • What role do accessories play in how you think about the clothes in your wardrobe?
(Post Script: I considered naming this post "Hot and Fresh Out the Kitchen," as in, "This is the remix to Ignition, hot and fresh out the kitchen... it's the freakin weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun," which pops into my head every time you guys use the term "remix" in your blog posts.  But I've got you all convinced that I'm a thoughtful person (right?) so I can't very well quote the despicable R. Kelly, even though this song reminds me of fond memories of my undergrad days... can I?  Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I just did! : ))

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quick Change: Neon

Draft:
Earlier Drafts:
I wore these nude flats with a casual ensemble.
I donned the yellow wedges with a patterned frock.
I wore this bib necklace with a subdued palette.

Composition:
pink tiered skirt (Target)
white tee (H&M)
chartreuse halter top (Gap, several seasons ago)
yellow wedges (Nine West)
nude flats (Jessica Simpson)
wooden and enamel bracelets (thrifted)
turquoise bib necklace (Shopmamie.com)

Usage:
Two things are certain: first, I have failed miserably at executing the shampooing-my-hair pose, and, second, I have officially hopped aboard this season's neon bandwagon.

I bought this skirt on sale at Target, thinking it would help me ease into the neon trend.  (See Exhibit A, on the left.)  I quickly learned that, when dressing to imitate my highlighter set, there is no easing.  There is only the all-in approach.  Pairing a fabulously bright skirt with a white T-shirt?  I could not have been safer had I strapped on a seatbelt.  Womp, womp.  So, in my second attempt (Exhibit B, on the right), I embraced color, much like Katie did with her Granny Smith Apple green bag.  I feel bold in this ensemble.  I feel like I'm riding the life roller coaster with hands in the air and both eyes open.  The takeaway for me?  Do color, especially neon hues, full-on.

The fashion market has revived the brights obsession at an opportune moment for my personal life,  just as I'm stepping away from graduate school and into the world of paid labor.  Not that I'll attend job interviews in yellow pant suits.  However, on these days in between employment, when I'm struggling to find motivation, brights prompt me to go for the gusto.  Wearing neon requires courage, I think, because these hues don't allow me to blend in with a crowd.  And courage is the best salve for my current ambivalence.  Exchanging my beloved neutrals for shield-my-eyes shades of yellow, green, pink, and orange reminds me to slough off my noncommittal attitude regarding corporate America.  I gave grad school a fair shot; I owe it to myself to give Working World a fair shot, too.  I'm all in.

Prompts:
  • Are you game-on r.e. the revival of brights?  Ambivalent?  Mournful?
  • How have you dipped your toes in the neon waters?  Have you found successful ways to wear the shades?  Several weeks ago, I dabbled in neon nail polish and had a great time.  I like this tutorial by Emily at Cupcakes & Cashmere.
  • What's your interpretation of the "neon attitude"?  Am I wrong about these hues requiring sartorial courage?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Staples

Draft:











Composition:
blue dress (Target)
flip flops (Rainbow)
purse (Coach)
sunglasses (H&M)
signature items

Usage:
Fashion summer, as opposed to meteorological summer, is here, so I've been thinking about my summer staples.

1. Cotton sundress

One great thing about summer is that one and done looks are so much easier since you don't need tights, cardigans or coats since the temperature is warmer.  For me, simple dresses, like this one that I got at Target for probably around $10, are key.  They're a great way to look put together with minimal effort - plus, they're comfortable and keep you cool.  You can dress them up with accessories or high-heeled sandals, or wear them as I have here with just flip flops and minimal accessories.

2. Flip flops

These ubiquitous summer shoes have many incarnations.  From the $1 Old Navy plastic version to the $385 Gucci edition, flip flops reign during summer.  I like this pair because the black design on it adds some visual interest, making it, I think, a step up from the regular thong sandal.  Of course, no flip flop would be complete without a pedicure.  I like bright colors for my toe nails, experimenting on them far more than I would on my finger nails.  I'm currently wearing OPI's My Chihuahua Bites!, which is a coral-y orange-red - a great summery color that immediately makes me think of sunsets on the beach.

3. Bright Bag

I once wrote that I have a firm belief in bold, stylish coats because they are our opening sartorial statement.  I have similar feelings about purses.  I got this little green one deeply discounted at a Coach outlet awhile ago.  I carry it a lot in the summer because I just love the playfulness of the Granny Smith color, which always adds to my outfit.

Also, you can always accessorize with a puppy:


Prompts:
  • What are your summer staples?
  • Are you drawn to brighter colors in the summer like me?  Or do you wear them all year long, using them to spruce up dreary winter days?