yoga pants: the gateway drug to mom jeans

I love my yoga pants, though I have to admit I don’t do much downward facing dog in them. For yoga, I prefer tight crops especially when practicing in rooms with temperatures 95 degree plus. But for almost every other activity, yoga pants are fair play. Now that I work from home, there are days I never get out of them. Yoga pants are a critical component of this aspiring novelist’s wardrobe.

If I do have to dress up for a meeting, the first thing I do when I get home is change back into my yoga pants. When a friend invites me over, I ask myself: are yoga pants appropriate for this social interaction? More and more, I want to wear them outside the confines of my home office. I try to dress them up, of course, with a sweater and maybe a cute pair of flats or a t-shirt and jean jacket in warmer temps. I had a version of this outfit on over the weekend visiting my college roommate.

Chris: “I wouldn’t have thought to wear my yoga pants with tiger print flats.”

Yep, that’s me. I’ll do anything to justify wearing these most comfortable and flattering of pants.

Because let’s be honest about jeans. They aren’t comfortable. I recently had dinner with a friend (who shall remain nameless) who after our meal, pushed back her chair, unbuttoned the jeans that were digging into her waist, and let me feel the lump of scar tissue in her belly where the button of her jeans typically hit. I mean, ouch.

Nameless friend: “Wouldn’t it be nice if they made jeans with the same stretch as yoga pants?”

Me: “They do. They’re called mom jeans.”

Yes, our love for the comfort of yoga pants makes us yearn for elastic waistbands. I don’t even like my formerly beloved Minnie pants anymore. It’s yoga pants or bust. So please, someone, make yoga pants in workplace appropriate fabrics. Or make denim more comfortable without the stigma of a stretchy waistband. In the meantime, I’m going to go debate with myself whether I can get away with yoga pants for my meeting this afternoon.


fashion happenings: update one

Last night, as promised, I attended the trunk show showcasing The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens. I am happy to report that I walked away with a new silk blouse. Of course, I wanted to wear said new blouse immediately, but given the high temps this week, I will probably have to save this long-sleeved beauty for a more temperate day.

If you know me, you are looking at this pattern and thinking “that is so not Chelsea.” I know, right? I don’t do floral. But I do love bold colors. And while this was not the blouse that initially called to me (that would be the navy pin dot version of the same style) once I had it on, I knew it would come home with me.

If you are still questioning my purchase, here’s how I plan to style it:

For work, with a white pencil skirt and nude pumps. (I don’t own this skirt, but I like the texture, which I think would carry from summer into warm fall days.)

For date night, with white jeans (I’m a huge fan of the Angel by AG) and an animal print flat. (I’m not sure this Loeffler Randall flat would work, but I want you to envision something other than leopard.)

For casual events, with white shorts (if I can find a pair that I don’t detest) and the J. Crew malta sandal.

It’s important even in a conservative town like Washington, DC that we push the fashion envelope when appropriate, and that is what this blouse does. It expresses personality. It will garner attention. It was just a teensy bit outside my comfort zone, which means I will wear it and be unexpected.

Best of all, together this blouse and I likely will not run into a woman in the Senate with an identical top. But even if we do, she and I will know we both bought a blouse from a DC-based designer who used to stomp the halls of Congress herself. She gets us. She gets our needs. And I hope she continues to make her blouses for years to come.

step into my closet

The two biggest questions I get asked about my clothes are, “where did you get that?” and “how did you ever think to put that [insert bold color] [insert item of clothing] with that [insert bold color] [insert item of clothing]?”

If you just don’t have time to put together an outfit or maybe you think you don’t know how, or you have a vision but are stuck on where to shop, check out the recently launched Kassie’s Closet. This project is based on the idea that every great pair of shoes deserves a great outfit. Or you could look at it the other way around and say every great outfit deserves the perfect shoe. Either way, in Kassie’s Closet you will find a set of outfits designed by a team of stylists, complete with purchase information and hyperlinks to each item. Just think, you can browse where I buy my outfits without the burden of finding a babysitter, parking or mapping out a route from store-to-store.

As if this weren’t enough, you can also “save” products and outfits you like to your own profile and receive emails when additional outfits are built by a stylist you follow and a notification on your page when a new outfit is made around an item you have saved. You can comment on outfits and engage in an “e-conversation” with the stylist who created the look. It’s interactive. It’s current. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or should I say, the greatest thing since four-inch heels?

Even if you don’t purchase outfits identical to those featured, you can use the Closet to inspire you to put together similar outfits or to put your own spin on a certain ensemble you see pictured.

I’m proud to be a Kassie’s Closet stylist, though everyday I wait for the Closet Powers That Be to realize I don’t really have any styling qualifications beyond being a wardrobe wonk with a strong appreciation for clothes and a slightly unhealthy fetish for shoes. I enjoy contributing to the Closet because it gives me a chance to put together wardrobe ideas I’m contemplating for myself, as well as providing an opportunity to share with you outfits (or versions of outfits) I already own. It’s my small way of making the world a more polished place, one soul (two soles) at a time.

If you aren’t already in the Closet, click on the link above to request an invitation (you will get one, it just might take a day or two) and start browsing. Let Kassie’s Closet and the team of stylists inspire you.

I look forward to seeing you in the Closet.

must have monday: the great white blazer

I have to admit, while it is a must have, I haven’t found my perfect white blazer yet.

Two years ago, when Rosanna Vollmerhausen, owner of DC Style Factory, came to my house and performed a closet audit on my spring and summer wardrobe, her immediate observation was that one of my gaps was a great white blazer.

I have spent the last two years on an mission to find it.

I know it shouldn’t be this hard, but I’m very particular about my blazers. They cannot be boyfriend style, for one, a cut that is (sadly for me) ubiquitous. Given how unforgiving white is, the material has to be of a certain quality. Cheaper fabrics might be passable in black but white shows all flaws. And speaking of flaws, given what a complete and utter klutz I can be, I really don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on this piece. I’m bound to bump into someone with a glass of red wine or have a kid with a nutella mouth give me a hug when wearing it. In other words, this will not be an investment piece for me like my black Smythe blazer was.

So the hunt continues for an affordable but not cheap looking great white blazer with a good shape. If you have any leads, you know where to find me.

summer clothes woes update

First of all, I would like to extend a big hug to everyone who reached out, either publicly or privately, to offer advice, share links, or otherwise advise on my efforts to find casual but stylish weekend summer wear. Given the level of response, I feel it’s only appropriate to provide an update.

Based on a recommendation from my friend Erika, I checked out Madewell, the casual sister company to J. Crew. I ended up buying their beachhouse dress in fuchsia (pictured). One concern about this dress is how many ice cubes would be dropped down the cut-out detail in the back, which (sorry) I found impossible to photograph for you without my back looking fat. While I like the idea of a mustard colored patent leather skinny belt around the waist, I don’t love the dress enough to keep it for the price. Back it will go.

This week, J. Crew kindly sent me a notice that more items had been added to their summer sale. Lured back to their website by my second favorite four-letter word, I bought the Driftwood dress (I know, this has a dreaded elastic waist, but I envision belting it) and the Elinor dress.  I think (hope) one or both of these dresses will help fill the causal weekend outings wardrobe gap.

I spent time time cruising the likes of Anthropologie and Modcloth but didn’t find anything that fit the bill. (I found a lot of items that didn’t fit the bill, of course.) Lilla P has some cute dresses but the price point is more than I want to spend on casual attire. Thus, the hunt continues. I’m determined to stay laser focused until I have filled my closet with seasonably appropriate weekend attire.

And then we can talk about shoes again.


My first day of my second job on Capitol Hill, I wore a black pant suit, the best suit in my closet at the time. When I reported for duty that morning, the office’s old school secretary (who had taken shorthand during negotiations on the Civil Rights Act) looked me up and down with disdain and informed me in a most serious tone that the office had a “very strict dress code.” You would have thought I’d been wearing a tube top.

It turned out pant suits for women were against policy, as were, for the record, cropped tops.

Me: “Really? You had a problem with them in a Senate office?”

Apparently, they did. A few summers earlier, an intern dubbed “MTV Bethany” had indeed tried to get away with a navel-exposing cami. You would think a person handed a dress code that indicated women couldn’t wear pants would not be so bold as to push that particular envelop, but she did.

“She was a skin-tern,” my new officemate and future best friend informed me.

It was then I learned about the one constant every summer on Capitol Hill: the arrival of skin-terns. You’ve seen them. Young women in college who have landed their dream internship with their hometown senator or Member of Congress, but they have never had an office job and don’t know how to dress the part. Their mom bought them a suit or two from the Limited or Banana Republic which they then try to marry or supplement with their club wear, the fanciest stuff in their closet. The result leaves nothing to the imagination.

Sadly skin-terns aren’t the only ones perplexed by what passes for summer office wear. A former colleague emailed to express her dismay at what young women in her office are wearing this summer; she has genuine concerns that their wardrobe choices reflect poorly on her organization. I affirmed for her the following:

1. Strapless is not appropriate in the office.

2. Spaghetti straps are not appropriate in the office.

3. Mini skirts are not appropriate (even as a “suit” component) in the office.

Much like anything in Washington, DC, knowing how much skin to show is about striking a balance. You want to show some leg? Cover the arms. You want to bare (so to speak) arms? Wear a skirt of a longer length. In the dog days of summer, you want a sleeveless dress with a skirt of a shorter length? Make sure other assets are contained, but not in too clingy of a fashion.

Think of it as a form of bipartisanship.

champagne or gunmetal?


Same dress, two different colors. I’m partial to the champagne gown pictured on the right. Lee is partial to its gunmetal sister pictured on the left. Let’s settle it here with an electronic arm wrestle. No, seriously, please feel free to weigh in with your favorite.

(For those who are wondering what happened to the pink over budget dress, according to Lee the material was very delicate and she had already noticed some snags in the fabric, not acceptable for an $800 dress. She was worried about the gown standing up to a cross-country airplane ride, not to mention the prospects of getting multiple wears out of it.)

Ultimately, Lee has to make her own decision based on what she feels most comfortable wearing, but I champagne plan champagne to champagne work champagne on champagne subtly champagne swaying champagne her champagne to champagne choose champagne my champagne favorite.


a quadratic equation

I have a confession to make.

As announced to everyone within earshot of me as I made my way to the Cheverly Prom a few weeks ago, I bought Prada shoes.

(No, not to wear to the Cheverly Prom.)

This should not come as much of a surprise to those who know me, or maybe it will come as a shock. It might be the most indulgent purchase I have ever made, which is why I feel a slight chagrin in this admission. But I fell in love with these shoes when shopping for a dress to wear to Kaitlan’s wedding, and as those on the receiving end of my affection know, my love is not fleeting.

I have a mathematical formula in my head that justifies such a purchase. It goes something like this:

Credit for returned Kate Spade shoes + consignment check from Secondi + price differential between black DVF dress and dress I actually wore = Prada shoes

Shoes are the constant.

I knew I wanted these shoes the moment I slipped my feet into them at Neiman Marcus when trying on dresses. (Note: it’s a clever sales trick to bring into the dressing room a nice pair of shoes to ease your trying on experience.) I made a valiant effort to distract myself with non-Prada alternatives. The Kate Spade pumps referenced in the above equation were too pointy. The Stuart Weitzman Platswoons in adobe had a significant gap at the heel. Time was ticking. I had a dress. I needed a shoe.

So now I’m the happy owner of a gorgeous pair of buff patent leather Prada pumps with the perfect heel height and a tasteful platform. They are not my every day shoes. I dread the day a heel gets caught in between the uneven cobblestones of an under-maintenanced DC sidewalk. They will never see the rain or be the guest at a reception held on a carpet of grass. They aren’t quite special occasion shoes, but most certainly are great date night shoes or “I’m having a big day” shoes.

Regardless of whether I wear my Prada splurge walking down the halls of Congress or behind closed doors, these shoes make me feel powerful. And that feeling is worth every penny.

the Rita by Lillybee

I bought a white purse. Okay, it isn’t exactly nursing shoes white, but more accurately, a soft cream color that my kids just happen to call white. It has lovely dove-colored handles, the length of the drop on which is perfect for me and my on-the-go needs.

In three weeks, I may be wondering why I went with such an unforgiving color. It’s only a matter of time before it catches the nip of my ink pen, rubs up against something sticky, or just starts to accumulate a city hue from being carried to and fro in an urban environment.

But I’m going to diligently protect it from such evils because I love it.

I love that it looks just as good with black as it does with my brightly colored dresses and skirts for spring and summer. I love that it works with jeans. I love that it isn’t matchy matchy with my spring and summer shoes, but it also doesn’t clash with them. And most of all, I love that it’s from the Lillybee inaugural Italian handbag line, designed by local shoe goddess Kassie Rempel. That means my purchase not only supports a dear friend, but a woman-owned, DC-based small business.

On the first day I broke it out, I was mainly confined to my desk, but the three times I stepped away from the office, I received compliments on Rita. She makes a fine addition to the Lillybee family, and with any luck, maybe I can talk Kassie into offering it in eggplant for the fall.

bad outfit days

Just like every woman has a bad hair day now and then, usually coinciding with an event for which she’s extra focused on needing it to look good, like for a date, we also have bad outfit days.

Bad outfit days usually reveal themselves within minutes of their wearer being far enough away from home that it’s too late to rectify matters. Sometimes bad outfit days don’t make themselves apparent until after the outfit has seen several days of wear (not consecutively, of course). And under the worst case scenario, the bad outfit isn’t uncovered until many years later as the wearer combs through photographic evidence of days past. In the last case, these bad outfits aren’t just a representations of a long-gone trend or victims of the passage of time. You know deep inside they were as horrible then as they are now.

I had such an outfit that plagued too many days of my life two summers ago. I was experimenting with the mixing of patterns. You know, stripes with florals, florals with dots, dots with stripes. (J. Crew used to make it look effortless, though I’d describe their current combinations as erring on the side of the ridiculous.) Anyway, I had this olive green and ivory striped long-sleeved shirt.  And I thought it would be super cute to wear with it a short-sleeved floral cardigan with predominant tones of olive, orange, pink and purple. I threw a multi-strand pearl necklace over the whole thing, paired it with jeans and waited for compliments that did not come.

Me: DC isn’t ready for this coolness.

I seriously thought my ensemble was awesome, so I wore the combination again. And again. And again. Then one day, I looked in the mirror and realized, “this is just awful.” (Or rather, that’s the sanitized version of what I said to myself.)

The point I’m trying to make is that bad outfit days happen to everyone. Maybe they happen to those who experiment and envelop push more than they happen to others. Or maybe because (for me personally) the pressure is high to always have on a great outfit, I’m more sensitive to the bad ones when they occur. Whatever the case, I typically advise to go with what your gut says when you stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself, “does this work?”

You just have to recognize that sometimes your gut is going to be wrong.