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.

must have monday: summer clothes

Has it really been an entire week since I last wrote? Apparently, I need a ghost writer or at least to prepare extra posts to share on days I don’t have time to write. Sorry to be MIA. I’m surprised I didn’t get any panicked emails wondering if I was about to slip into cyber-oblivion like I did in February and March.

I have no excuse considering how much time I spent on my computer over the weekend. I created outfits for Kassie’s Closet. I did some work for my day job. But mostly, I scoured the internet for good weekend summer wear.

Today’s “must have” is not focused on an item I cannot live without, but on items that I desperately need: summer clothes.

Frankly, I hate summer. I melt in whatever I’m wearing. While I have a nice selection of professional summer dresses, I’m bereft of casual summer party wear. My clothes either scream Monday-thru-Friday or are too don’t-go-out-in-public-y. I don’t have any middle of the road wear. The deficiency is of my own making. I hate sundresses. I hate shorts. I hate capri pants. I hate bathing suits.

That doesn’t leave a lot of options.

Yesterday, I cruised the web, site after frustrating site, determined to find summery dresses. Why do all the dresses of an appropriate weight and material have an elastic waist, which is just deadly on me? Or spaghetti straps, which require a strapless bra? Why do the dresses in the styles I like only seem to come in either very synthetic (i.e. hot) fabrics or those I’d prefer to leave to office attire?

By way of example, pulling from my standby, J. Crew, this Kimono-sleeve maxidress would be perfect if it were cotton. But it’s rayon. The Villa dress in stripe would look cute with my coral wedge espadrilles but for the elastic waist. And what is with all the strapless options? Raise your hand if you really and truly love strapless dresses. Or do you just wear them because it’s all they make?

The bottom line is that I am still looking. Ideally I want three dresses and a couple of skirts that can take me from little league games to BBQs or out for weekend drinks and/or dinner with friends. Today I want your suggestions.

Don’t make me go to the next social gathering in jeans.

 

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.

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

I usually hate pink. Well, hate is too strong of a word, so let me amend and extend my remarks to say I don’t love pink on me. Pink looks lovely on my friend Emily, on Nancy’s daughter Tess, and on the azalea bushes in my yard each spring. But it is not a color I find myself drawn to usually.

When Jack was a toddler, he went through a phase where he was obsessed with the color pink. I indulged his whim by buying him a pink oxford shirt, pink pajamas and even pink socks. I balked at the pink L.L. Bean jacket he wanted because (honestly) I caved to the social pressure that says boys can’t wear a pink jacket. I had a hard enough time explaining to adults why I let him wear pink; I did not want my kid to get teased at day care. I thus convinced him that orange (my true favorite color) was really sort of a dark version of pink. Jack wore orange jackets for the next several winters.

It is with this history of my tepid relationship with pink in mind that I share with you some of my latest obsessions for spring. I am shocked at myself that my eye continues to be drawn to a color that can only be described as resembling chewed bubble gum. When I am perusing J. Crew’s new arrivals, I usually fill my virtual fantasy basket with colors of black, purple and gray. But right now, I am slightly fixated on this pink cardigan and the candy-striped sweater in azalea and orange. The bright dahlia dress would also be a huge departure from my safe usual choice of navy, and may make its way into my closet the next time there is a 25% off everything sale.

Coral has also caught my fancy, thus this Simply Soles exclusive color pairing on my favorite Bettye Muller pump has my feet begging for spring (and a sugar daddy). Likewise the Function in Fuchsia by French Sole (a marriage of pink and orange) has me overlooking my usual hesitation about flats. One thing is clear, I am smitten with the cap toe craze because both these shoes will be on my wish list, along with the similarly hued earrings.

You’d have to be a caveman to not know Valentine’s Day is coming up (I have been methodically unsubscribing from every email that reminds me) but sexy underpinnings are not only for special occasions. I love this raspberry Chantelle set available at Coup de Foudre (the one vendor I will forgive for sending aforementioned V-Day reminders) and I understand from store-owner Valerie that my favorite Marie Jo bra will be coming in a shade of pink this spring too.

Rounding out my color fetish, Kate Spade’s Cobble Hill Leslie in cinnibar (the perfect alternative to the dove gray purse I am using now), a baby pink Love Quotes scarf, and Chanel lipgloss in a color named, I kid not, Chelsea.

Rest assured pink skeptics, in whatever manner I end up incorporating these happy shades into my wardrobe, I promise not to blind you by wearing them all at once. But on any given day, you will never know if I’m getting in my pink fix with the outfit under the outfit, so to speak.

all I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas...Now that Jack has been reassured that Santa exists, he has been busy working on his letter to Santa.

Too busy.

While letters from years past have been Facebook-worthy in their sure little boy-ness (“gas mask [with hood]” last year or “one puppy [small]” the year before) this year my little consumer monsters would have made the Material Girl blush.

23 items on Jack’s list, including such treasures as an iPod touch (no), a video camera (no) and a DSI (no). So then we had to have a little talk about gluttony.

Me: There’s no way I am sending either of these letters to Santa.

Both boys returned with more appropriate lists that were limited to five items of varying sizes and price ranges, though neither list included the item they’re actually getting for Christmas.

All their list-making and prioritizing and editing and rewriting got me to wondering: if I had a Santa, what would be on my list?

Of course, aside from a binding global agreement on climate change from major emitters, some very classic items came to mind. New riding boots (I’ve had my eye on these convertible ones from Lillybee for awhile) and an orange wool coat with leopard print gloves. You have read of my desire for a new handbag (pictured is Emily’s coveted bag but in a gorgeous purple). I’m in the market for some funky jewelry that can be dressed up or down. And of course, while one is dreaming big and making lists, a Cartier tank watch.

I probably have a better shot at getting a Cartier watch someday than I do on an international deal on climate change.

I didn’t self reprimand my gluttony as I do not have expectations that a single one of these items will end up under my tree. After all, there’s really no one to share this list with beyond the blogosphere, and I’m sure Santa doesn’t follow me. As a half-time single woman/half-time single mom, I will look forward on Christmas morning to opening the gifts my boys make for me. This year I am hoping for one of Jack’s self-designed comic books, perhaps a box of Colin’s paper airplanes, and a jointly assembled pack of their “Magic Cards” which include a cross-pollination of the characters of all the mystical books they read, each assigned a point value and strength based on their activities in their respective books.

At least, those are the items I intend to ask for on my real list, the list I plan to give to the boys.

After the holidays, I can always buy myself the boots.

a very newsy update

the scraped, primed and painted ceiling and walls of the guest room, the source of all my sweat equity efforts

I can’t fault writer’s block for my recent absence from the blogosphere. I’ve had several ideas that fell the wayside or were condensed into 140-character tweets. But fear not, I’m still here, thinking the same snarky thoughts.

I do feel like I should wrap up some loose ends, given how many questions and comments I get on previous posts. So for those who haven’t been sleeping at night wondering how my turkey came out or if I found a new purse, here are some updates to whet your appetite for more posts to come. Trust me, I have a lot on my mind that I want to share.

In no particular order, fall foliage. It’s gone. I’m no longer lounging under the brilliant canopy of autumn-hued trees. It was a spectacular fall, the best in my memory, and I hope fall 2011 is the new norm for the years to come.

My turkey. If you read my post, then you know I was poised to host Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and I was seeking turkey recipes. Thanks to all who submitted their favorites. I used the version submitted by my friend Stephanie, who has used it ten years running, although every year, her mother-in-law still declares, “why Stephanie, I didn’t know you could cook!” Now, my bird did not come out as juicy as Stephanie promised, but that’s my fault for screwing up the weight-time conversion and leaving it in the oven a little too long. Regardless, Colin ate both drumsticks and there weren’t as many leftovers as one would think given we were five adults, five kids and two turkeys (yes, someone didn’t trust me and brought their own).

A new fall/winter purse: There’s still no new handbag dangling off my arm, though I have test-run many models. The favorite thus far is my friend Emily’s purse, but even though she lives in Chicago and we have owned the same bag before, I am hesitant to click purchase. A big Kate Spade sale after Christmas and continued ennui with my current bag might cure me of that though.

The Sweat Equity Challenge: No, I did not end up tackling a household project every week between September 18th and Thanksgiving, but I did do eight weeks worth of projects in about a 5-day period, which explains why I still have repetitive stress disorder in both arms (I’m an ambidextrous scraper/painter). The lesson learned: next time hire someone to do the work or find a boyfriend who is handy around the house.

My fall wardrobe refresh: In October, I took advantage of a 25% off J. Crew sale to purchase some new staples for my fall wardrobe. What a bust. First of all, I kid you not when I say each of the five items I ordered was shipped separately. Secondly, I ended up returning everything except the pencil skirt in harvest tweed. The camel sweater was not the right shade (nor was the blouse) and the plum capri pants looked like pajamas. The red pants, which I had high high hopes for, weren’t lined and it took 15 seconds of standing in front of my mirror before the itching began.

So that is pretty much my life to date. Stay tuned for my musings on Santa Claus, Christmas lists, and of course, my upcoming birthday.

December 17th for those who don’t have their calendars marked.

desperately seeking…

https://i1.wp.com/media20.onsugar.com/files/2010/12/49/0/1254/12546250/a757cea79ba11d62_chanel_255.larger/i/Most-Iconic-Handbags.jpgI always know what I want, and usually I get it. Occasionally I’m paralyzed by indecisiveness, but rarely. If you have lunch plans with me, and I ask where you want to dine and you say, “I don’t care” then I’m going to choose my favorite place. Only when I’m very tired or my creatively levels are low (or I’m trying to decide between two pairs of shoes) do I demure.

So it’s with a great sense of shock that I’m having a hard time choosing a new purse. I’m not a switch-your-bag-everyday kind of person. I like to buy one handbag and stick with it. Usually the way this happens is: I buy a new bag in the fall that I use through winter, then a new bag in spring that takes me through summer. Not exactly shopping rocket science, but it works. That’s how I justify splurging on some of my favorite designers and why I embrace today’s anti-matchy-match world where almost any color and texture combo is fair game. (Honestly, I hope color coordinated shoes and purses remain a relic of the past.)

But back to my inability to commit, the most perplexing part of my problem isn’t even that there are two bags I’m deciding between; I can’t find what I want at all. (Well, within reason.)

This summer, I had my eye on a purse called the Pippa (isn’t everything of “it girl” quality called the Pippa these days) by the British company Modalu. But back in August, when the color I wanted wasn’t going to be available until mid-October, I took a pass. (Now that it’s mid-October, of course I’m ruing the decision.) Then I had a crush on the Isabella Fiore Demi-Satchel but when I gave it a test run around the store, it felt a little too boxy (a-la-diaper-bag) to me. (This was one of those instances when Kassie, who was present for said purse try-outs, told me that she didn’t think the item I was considering was the right look for me.)

I’ve scoured my usual haunt, Kate Spade, but the problem there is I keep gravitating toward styles I’ve already owned. I want something different. I want a bag that screams Chelsea. On that note, I did contemplate a purse from the Chelsea line at Coach, but I just can’t help but feel like the Coach brand and my personality are not super compatible. A weekend shopping trip with girlfriends a few weeks ago to assist in the finding of the perfect purse only yielded frustration, not retail glee.

In case you have some suggestions to pass along, here are my specs: It has to have a zip or clasped top that can be easily accessed when I have a cup of coffee in one hand and a kid’s backpack in the other. I’m not afraid of color (after all, I just ordered two pairs of red-hued pants from J. Crew) though I prefer my purse fall in the “bold but neutral” category. (Too many brights in one ensemble and I fear I resemble a bowl of Skittles.) I learned my lesson with the Kate Spade Essex Scout this summer that I’m really not a small purse woman (though I did grow to love the hands free nature of a crossbody style). My purse must be large enough for my working mommy lifestyle (though I got mocked yesterday by my former boss for the moderately large bag in my current rotation). Seriously, a purse has to be able to hold my eyeglass/sunglass case, iPhone, wallet, small make-up bag, notebook, keys and whatever “treasure” the kids hand me to hold onto for them (sometimes rocks).

So if you see something along those lines, let me know. But if instead you come across my sugar daddy, let him know that the one purse I have seen and love is the Valentino Demetra. Yes, the price is equivalent to my first year’s salary when I first came to Capitol Hill. Yes, it’s the price of a small car.

But maybe it comes with a cute guy who would carry it for me when it’s full of rocks.