Monday, November 30, 2009

Impulse Control: Zero

Guess what arrived for me today...

After coveting a certain shoe to the point of distraction, I put myself out of my misery by taking on some freelance editing so that I could purchase this particular package guilt-free. (Contrary to what some of these entries might suggest, I actually do have some editing skills after many years of teaching writing...)

Tomorrow: the debut of the contents of this mysterious package. Stay tuned.

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed

Works Cited

ruffled shirt: j crew (via jeremy's)

gray skirt: american apparel

belt: hand-me-down from mom

tights: american eagle

socks: target

boots: indigo

earrings: gift

Yesterday, I wrote about where I find outfit inspiration. I recently stumbled upon jesse anne o's blog, where she wears this American Apparel skirt in inventive ways. I loved this skirt hard this summer, when I wore it just about every other day, but I hadn't thought as much about translating it into autumn and winter wear. I love the way she belts it (borrowed), pairs it with tights (borrowed), and keeps the palette sophisticated.

And to keep the tone of the outfit serious, I did my librarian hair, which I will sadly have to retire when the weather gets too cold to head out without a hat.

Librarian Hair

American Apparel also does a pretty nice job on its website pairing this skirt with lots of tops, including button-ups. I love the combination and wanted to try it out myself. I like the way this turned out...expect to see more of this summer skirt in the mix this winter.

Ruffle Detail

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend in Review

Getting Ready to Grade

Hiding the extra pie

Works Cited
white tee: gap
scarf: bought for $5 from a stall in SF
linen pants: j crew outlet ($8!)
belt: hand-me-down from mom
red-orange flats: old navy
earrings: stall in paris

black tank: h&m
black turtleneck: anthro
purple tee: american apparel
trouser jeans: banana republic
black flats: urban outfitters

It's been a cold reunion with the midwest, and I've added some extra cozy layers to keep warm this weekend. I LOVE a good white tee, of any variety--ruffled, button-up, crewneck, dollar hanes tees and tanks (my top drawer is full of them)--because they go with anything. I wanted to play up the scarf today and keep everything else pretty simple--straight brown trousers, white tee, reddish-orange flats (though I have to admit that this belt is pretty rad).

I'm also lusting after a cowl-neck top, having watched S. from academichic layer hers in so many inventive ways. I used this turtleneck from anthro in a similar fashion, letting the loose ruffle top fall out over the purple tee.

By the way, I am loving jesse anne o's plan to recreate other stylish women's looks with clothes she already has. Is this something you do, too? I am a shameless thief when it comes to recreating other great looks out of my own closet. If you're not already obsessed with flickr's wardrobe remix group, get ready to lose the next two hours of your life poring over it and rethinking your entire closet. Do you find inspiration in particular places? I'm always looking for new favorite spots to check out and copy from...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving and a 17-Mile Bike Ride

Works Cited
on me:
gray tee: borrowed from brudder (target)
ivory sweater: thrifted (org. banana republic)
brown skirt: old navy
belt: old navy
tights: hue
flats: target
flower: anthropologie

on brudder:
striped dress: h&m
navy tights: borrowed from mom
gold flats: steve madden

bossing my brudder around: genetically-gifted

Now you can see where I get my fashion inspiration--my brudder (sister) is adventurous, colorful, and has mile-long legs--but that doesn't stop me from bossing her around (and is why I love this photo). These were our Thanksgiving dinner outfits: I wore the same brown skirt I've been sporting all week, and the same flats, but mixed it up with tights and this awesome flower in my hair (found at anthropologie and affixed with both barrette and safety pin so you can put it in your hair or on your coat). I love the combination of stripes, the navy tights, and the gold shoes on brudder--the outfit is dressed up, but still comfortable (i.e. perfect for packing in extra helpings of pumpkin pie).

We can afford the extra pie, too, because our annual Thanksgiving walk involved a 17-mile roundtrip bike ride to Marin county, where we then hiked for several miles. We got to bicycle across golden gate bridge, which was an amazing ride. I had to post this gorgeous photo of C. and I at the end of the bridge after our ride, despite my fashion-don't apparel and sweaty hair.


And my sweet family up in the hills in Marin during our walk:


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend--and thank you for being such sweet readers...I feel mightily welcomed into blog-world. xoxo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leather and Lace, On The Cheap

Leather and Lace, on the cheap

Leather and Lace, on the cheap

Works Cited
lace-trim top: forever 21
brown skirt: old navy
belt: my mother's
leather flats: palladium
earrings: gift from C.

I love the way this outfit turned out, and I'm proud to say nothing I'm wearing cost more than $20, even the flats (which I stalked on Amazon until the price dropped from $80 to $17.50!). I'm wearing a few pieces I've already worn on this trip in new ways--I wore this skirt at the hips a couple days ago, and I wore this top as a long layering piece earlier this week. I'm wearing this jersey skirt from Old Navy hiked up around my waist and belted with one of my mother's now-vintage belts, to create the illusion of a high-waisted skirt. I tucked my extra-long lace top into it. I like the very neutral palette of this outfit, and the way the metallic earrings (perhaps too small to see) play off the earth tone colors.

I'm so glad that I've seen lots of people wearing these little side-braids these days. I used to do my hair like this all the time (below, when I was studying abroad at twenty, with much chubbier-cheeks, riding a merry-go-round in Florence). It's easy-to-do, pretty, and keeps flyaway bangs in place--what's not to love?

San Francisco Afternoon

San Francisco Afternoon

San Francisco Afternoon

Works Cited
pile of white tees: pillaged from sister's leftover drawers
gray sweater: grace elements (via philene's basement)
scarf: bought on the street in san francisco
jeans: j crew outlet
purple flats: target
bag: recently thrifted

This afternoon, boyfriend C. and I packed up to spend an afternoon in the city, doing the touristy stuff you never do until you have a guest. As we were getting on the train, C. realized that his camera battery was sitting in his charger at home. It was a disappointing moment, because not only did we miss out on photos of the amazing sunset, the sea lions, and the cable cars, but I didn't get any exciting outfit pictures in one of my favorite cities in the world (hence: the indoor shots).

On the other hand, it was kind of freeing to have forgotten a camera. I got to enjoy the world through my eyes instead of a lens.

It's a good idea to have a bunch of light layers for walking around San Francisco in the fall--when the sun is out, it's quite warm, but after dark, it tends to be pretty chilly--and having a pashmina to throw around your shoulders or neck comes in handy. I love this long cardigan and its white stripe, and wanted to keep things simple otherwise, but I did play with the blue-green color of this bag I picked up recently with the blue scarf and the dark teal earrings.

Bag/scarf detail

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Covet You, Oxfords

Tonight, out of nowhere, I found myself pining away for a pair of sweet oxford shoes. I love their nerdy, schoolboy aesthetic. With a pair of skinny black pants and a button-up, I'd feel like a nerdy schoolboy. I would also wear them with a bright skirt and a black turtleneck...or with a patterned dress and jacket.

The holidays are coming up...

Clockwise from top left: by steve madden, the tuxxedo; by topshop, the knox brogue; by anthropologie, the withered wingtips. Some others (if I had a million dollars) these brooks brother oxfords; if I ever wore heels, these urban outfitters wedges.

Am I alone in thinking these nerdy throwback shoes so-very-covet-able?

Accidental Matching

Accidental Matching

Accidental Matching

Works Cited
on me:
maroon sweater: newly thrifted (org. j crew)
pink tee: j crew outlet
brown skirt: old navy
sandals: birkenstock
bag: thrifted at antique store last summer

on mom:
maroon sweater: ralph lauren
striped tee: ralph lauren
brown pants: jones new york
clogs: sanita

Even though we've lived apart for seven years, my mother and I came out this morning with accidentally matching outfits. Dark red sweaters, brown pants/skirt, brown shoes. Because my mom and I have similar body types and similarly classic styles, I learn a lot about what I can wear by what flatters her (bet you never knew that, Mom!). Dark red is a color that flatters both of us, and I think it was both of our instincts to play up our narrower top halves and downplay our wider hips with a dark neutral on bottom. I don't own very much in this dark red color, but I fell in love with this sweater yesterday while I was out rooting around in my favorite thrift stores. I can hardly believe I don't own a sweater this color already--it would go well with pink (a color I have trouble wearing but own quite a bit of), with gray, brown, and black; or even with more exciting colors like a dark orange or a yellow.

Forgive the awkward bottom photo, taken by my mother who was bossing me around (for a change) and insisting that I keep my head and arms very straight while she took the photo (she had squawked last night, "Why are you looking down in all these blog photos? Your mother wants to see your face!"). So I ended up looking like a stiff mannequin, but at least my mother will like it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Visiting Old Haunts

Travel Day 1

Travel Day 1

Works Cited
brown sweater: dug up from bottom of sister's closet
off-white top: forever 21
jeans: j crew outlet
sandals: birkenstocks
bag: urban outfitters

To celebrate my arrival back in the east bay, California, my summer birkenstocks came out to play. It's far too cold in the midwest to wear them now, but fall in the bay area is still warm enough to warrant sandals. I also wanted to be comfortable for a day of walking around--visiting my favorite bookstores to pick up some Beckett plays and Ian McEwan, eating frozen yogurt, and perusing my favorite thrift stores (more to come on my successes there!).

Today, I went for neutral colors accented by the olive green of the scarf, which unfortunately covers up the best part of the outfit: the awesome lace detailing on this top.

Lace Detail

I'm planning on wearing this top again with a brown jersey skirt belted at my natural waist--I like that I can wear it as a long layering piece and as a detailed top over a skirt. Garment flexibility is crucial for a tiny traveling wardrobe! I also like to pack in easily-mixed colors, like these neutrals--off-white, brown, and olive green.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Traveling Style

Traveling Style

Traveling Style
Works Cited
olive scarf: h&m
black and white coat: forever 21
navy cardigan: j crew outlet
yellow tee: j crew
jeans: j crew outlet
flats: palladium

This afternoon, the boyfriend and I are off to California to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. It's always a quandary to figure out what to wear on the plane. As much as it sounds divine to wear pajamas on the plane, I tend to feel better during a long day of travel if I take the time to look presentable and put-together. I am SO excited to go back out west--expect posts all week of my travel wardrobe and adventures back in California.

Today I'm mixing mustard yellow and olive green--another favorite color combo--with a cozy scarf for cold planes, and tan flats for comfortable walking through the city and airport. What do you like to wear to travel? Do you tend toward the comfortable--yoga pants? fleece?--or do you like to look extra stylish--wool coat, heels?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Winter Kept Us Warm

New Heights

New Heights

Works Cited
gray tee: target
skirt: old navy
belt: j crew (gift)
tights: target
gray heels: style & co.

If there's any poet to get serious about, it's T.S. Eliot, who took himself so seriously that he adopted a fake British accent after moving to London at the age of 25. In an attempt to adopt an Eliot style, my color palette is mostly grays and blacks today. The yellow belt helps break up the look, and works as a metaphor to suggest that there is perhaps some hope in Eliot's fragments after all. I'm finding this yellow belt to be a wonderful addition to a dark winter wardrobe, and I love how it interrupts blue and gray outfits. I find skinny belts to be sophisticated and subtle, which is why this one gets away with being a bright color. As for the heels, I am normally a flats-wearer, but my students are getting papers back today and I need all the height and authority I can get to show them whose boss in the face of paper grades.

This brings me to a perhaps controversial question: recently, a male colleague whom I spotted wearing a tie to teach, told me that there is a direct relation between wearing a tie and how well your class goes. I was skeptical about this argument, especially because I don't see an easy equivalent for the female instructor, who might be perceived more like Avril Lavigne than a tenure-track professor if she came in with a tie. My colleague claimed that women can wear high heels to get the same authority a man might get with a tie. But I find that unlike a tie, heels can convey both authority and sex appeal. I wish there was a magic article of clothing in women's closets that would convey the authority this male colleague seemed to think his tie does. Unfortunately, his authority in the classroom is probably due as much to him being a bearded man as it does to his sartorial choices. I have found that my female colleagues have encountered more disrespectful behavior, from young male students in particular, than my male colleagues have. Over my years teaching, I've come to think that some students, whether consciously or unconsciously, accord less authority to their young female instructors precisely because they are young and female. And unfortunately, no tie or heel or corduroy blazer is going to fix that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Covet You, Sweater Dress!

Why had I never seen this site before? Ruche sells itself as "vintage inspired," "affordable," and "eco-friendly"--it's like a nerd's dream! This adorable sweater dress would look great over a button-up with tights and boots for teaching, or over leggings and a tee around the house.

Have you ever bought anything from Ruche? How does its stuff fit/hold up?? I love the looks it has, but am skeptical about shelling out money if I don't know how things fit...

Dress as Skirt

Dress as Skirt

Dress as Skirt

Works Cited
dress (worn as skirt): h&m
sweater: gift
tan belt: j crew
tights: target
flats: urban outfitters

Oh rats. There is something not quite right about this outfit that I didn't have time to fix this morning before running off to meetings. If I had the time for a do-over, I might swap out the blue flats for tan flats (the color of the belt), or swap out the striped sweater for a navy blue one. Luckily, I'll have ideas for next time.

I've been thinking more about wearing dresses as skirts to extend a wardrobe without buying new pieces. This dress works well for that purpose because it's fitted at the top so I can layer things on top of it without looking too bulky. I don't wear this sweater often, only because it's a bit shorter than I like, but on top of a dress, the proportions work well. I (mostly) like the way this turned out and will definitely remix this dress-as-a-skirt again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catalogue Copycat

Catalogue Copycat


Catalogue Copycat

Works Cited
gray-blue dress: ann taylor
striped button-up: forever 21
navy sweater: j crew
tights: target
socks: gap
boots: indigo

This look was a pretty blatant copycat of this one by J. Crew from its November catalogue. I had actually worn this outfit before with the turtleneck underneath, and while it was warm and cozy, it looked like one too many layers on me.
J. Crew models pull off a lot of baggy layers because many of them have slimmer, longer figures than I. Wearing six layers, I look more like a bag lady than a supermodel.

This dress is from Ann Taylor Loft and was on sale for $9! Even though it's a small, it's a big baggy on me, so I'm wearing it almost as a jumper over a button-up shirt, which also dresses it up more. I love making tank dresses into jumpers by layering them over button-ups and henleys.

The dress came with a tie, which I simply removed and retied around my sweater. Because it's quite cold today, I doubt I'll want to take off my sweater and have to deal with the hassle of re-tying anything.

And don't mind the bags under my eyes: here's what I've been doing all week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Olive Green and Teal

Olive Green and Teal

Olive Green and Teal



Works Cited
teal tee: forever 21
brown tank: target
green scarf: h&m
jeans: j crew
brown flats: palladium
ring: urban outfitters
leaf earrings: forever 21

Olive green and teal is one of those bizarre color combinations that I find myself drawn to. I think olive green looks wonderful with a whole range of surprising colors--almost all shades of blue, lemon yellow, navy, teal, brown, and gray (of course)--and I love the way the muted shade looks against the bright one here. The teal shirt looks a little bluer in this photo than it is in real life, where it is actually a bit greener.

And I love these giant leaf earrings! Their bronze shade goes with just about anything.

Do you wear bizarre color combos that seem to work well? Mustard and red? Brown and black? Khaki and pale blue?

Monday, November 16, 2009

50 New Outfits?

[ASIDE: This awesome drawing is by Nancy Torres, from the awesome flickr What I Wore Today group (drawings of people's outfits, which I could look at all day).]

I am always on the lookout for new inspiration on the style front. I recently found this list of fifty outfit ideas, some of which are pretty awesome, like:

48. Layer a wool jumper or sheath dress over a contrasting long sleeve t-shirt or thermal. Pair with wooly tights and rugged, flat boots for a cute daytime look.

25. Try cropped and cuffed pants over bold tights with knee boots and a blazer. This may also work with fitted or layered knits.

16. Layer a shirt dress over a print or contrast vintage thermal. Wear with metallic ballet flats and a headband.

12. Winterize a pretty skirt by wearing with a chunky crewneck sweater.

I especially like these because they are classic and a little conservative (which is where my style tends to go) while still being fun. They also help me think of new ways to winterize my summer clothes and to wear pieces in new ways. Have you seen the way the Clothes Horse remixes a single dress about a million times (by the way, this girl is adorable)? And Musing Around did something similar recently, too. It makes me think about wearing my sundresses in all new ways...

Rain, rain...

Rain, rain...

Rain, rain...

Works Cited
gray sweater: j crew
yellow tee: old navy
gray scarf: the pashmina store
brown cord skirt: j crew
gray wool tights: j crew
rainboots: hunter wellies

It is bitterly cold and rainy today and I had to spend a lot of the day outdoors, so this is cold-wet-weather-gear disguised as fashion. The wool tights are new--I had formerly coveted them and finally bought them in a package with my roomie's birthday present (woo free shipping!). I decided to shell out the cash for wool because I want to wear my skirts and dresses in the winter and it is really too cold here to just wear spandex tights in the winter. Plus, it is fairly wet in late autumn and spring, and wool keeps you warm even when it's wet (something I found out is very true today!). I love gray with just about anything, but I think it complements yellow especially well (so does E.). Brown and yellow is another one of my favorite color combos--and with today's weather, I needed the bright colors.

As for the boots--I waited forever and finally found these Hunter rainboots on sale this year. Solid rainboots are essential for riding one's bike in the rain in this town, where drainage is terrible and one often has to wade through foot-deep puddles to cross the street. Plus they last forever and in the (unlikely) chance I ever decide to take up fly fishing, I can bravely wade into the ponds with these babies.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weekend in Review

Purple Dress
Works Cited
purple cord dress: old navy
turtleneck: j. crew
belt: urban outfitters
leggings: thrifted
boots: target

This is my sole weekend outfit (unless you count striped tees, yoga pants, and slippers). I spent most of the weekend sick in bed but had a meeting I couldn't miss today, so I dragged myself away from the comfort of bed, tissues, and Arrested Development. My aim was to wear something as close to pajamas as possible. I don't often wear leggings (I don't have the Giselle-like body for it), but under a dress and boots, they are divinely comfortable and I feel well covered-up. I love this cord dress from Old Navy, although it's a bit short, so I would really only wear it over pants or leggings--I doubt I'll ever put it over tights. Layering dresses over turtlenecks is a new thing for me, but J. Crew has been doing it over and over in their styling, and I love the way it looks. It also keeps you very warm--important when one is under the weather.

I know S. layers dresses--maybe I could put this on top of a longer dress in the future? Hope you all had a terrific (and healthier!) weekend.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Style Inspiration


Don't you think this nylon spandex stretch floral lace unitard would just go with anything in your closet? Me, too.

Nerd-fest 2009! Land's End is now producing a high-end, chic line called Canvas. Seriously? I wasn't sure, but I saw these pictures of styled mannequins and it looks pretty good. I especially love the checkered shirt under the cardigan.

Check out these pretty book covers (Oh, and isn't her blog sweet?). I have this edition of Jane Eyre, and it's gorgeous.

I loved Dottie's post on bikes as yoga. It was the perfect antidote to a long and chilly ride.

Ohhh, the December J. Crew catalogue is out. I can't afford a thing, but I love what they do with color--it gives me good ideas for how to mix the (much cheaper) things I already have.

I didn't think there was such thing as a pretty backpack until now. How do you carry your things?

I wish my closet looked like this.

Coming next week: how to wear your forced company/dorm/sorority/college/group organization tee shirt and not look (well, not entirely) nerdy.

Getting the Flowers Myself


Earrings and Ring

Teaching Dress

Works Cited
dress: ann taylor loft (sale for $9!)
sweater: h&m
belt: urban outfitters
tights: target
boots: j. crew
ring and earrings: origins long forgotten

This dress was a real find for $9, and considering that it's shaped like a sack and has an ornate neckline, it's actually pretty easy to wear. With a sweater and a belt, or a tee layered under it, or a blazer, it is easy to make the neckline more casual and give the dress more shape. This sweater is perfect because its slightly scooped neck shows off some of the neckline. I tried to keep everything else pretty simple in terms of colors and accessories. I think I could also wear the dress on its own to holiday parties this winter--maybe a red sweater would make it more festive, or would that be overkill?

It's getting chilly here, and I'm still riding my bicycle--I've found a brisk ride to campus wakes me up better than a cup of coffee.

And if you're wondering about the title, it's what I'm teaching today...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Plaid and Flannel

Plaid and Flannel

Plaid and Flannel

Works Cited
blue sweater: j. crew (gift from g-unit)
plaid shirt: target
gray tank: old navy
skirt: j. crew (from high school)
tights: from high school
socks: target
boots: indigo

Brrr! It's finally getting cold here today so I had to dress wisely. I've been looking for a plaid shirt like this for ages, and even though I'd hoped to find one in a thrift store, after years of looking, I succumbed to the corporate version (thanks, Target!). Plaid flannel reminds me of nineties grunge and of being a woodcutter in Vermont (not that I was the flatter...or the former, for that matter), but plaid can never escape its nerdy roots. It's also, conveniently, quite warm. The sweater, a gift from my grandparents, is cashmere and also incredibly warm. I'm all about a lot of lighter layers for late fall, because I tend to feel suffocated under a huge coat so soon.

These tights needed a bit of repair this morning. I had cut off the feet impulsively in my first year of college to wear them as leggings, but stuffed into socks and boots, no one would know.

I Covet You, Wiksetenmade

Remember ellybeth? This is her best friend, and these are her awesome clothes.

How adorable is this outfit? It makes me want to move to Alaska and curl up in front of a fire with a half gallon of hot cocoa and a big stack of F. Scott Fitzgerald stories. I love the layers, the quirky leggings, the long sweater and the cozy plaid scarf. Mmm, what good medicine for the cold weather!