fresh eyes: part 1 of a ? part series

When I started this blog, I had the hope, of course, that people would read it. It would be disingenuous to pretend I had any desire to write into a void. But I never dreamed that one bonus outcome would be that I’d get to raid my stylish friends’ closets and put together outfits for them to model–much less that these stylish friends would ask me to do this. So I was very surprised (and pleased!) to encounter the following question from the author Kelly Luce on my Facebook wall:

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Not only was I flattered to receive this plea for help, as Kelly is one very well-dressed woman, I was dying to get my hands on those boots. They’re amazing. See?kelly-boots

The color! The fringe! The suede! The fact that Kelly had a pair of boots she didn’t wear astounded me, because she is the Boot Queen. She even wore boots at her wedding. This was an honor, people.

But before I show you what I chose for Kelly, I want to let her tell you in her own words about her personal style philosophy. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me (with charm and smarts to spare, naturally). Here they are:

Thirty is the New Thirty: How would you describe your personal style?
Kelly Luce: Comfy artsy. My ideal is to combine chill and elegant, to be…chillegant.
 
TITNT: What attracts you to a piece?
KL: Fabric that I can’t help but touch, a deep jewel tone, anything with a boat neck.
 
TITNT: Where do you like to shop?
KL: Modcloth, though their quality varies a lot. I love thrift stores, and I go through spurts of buying brands I like but can’t afford new (Free People, Lucky, Odille, Romeo & Juliet Couture) secondhand on ebay. 
 
TITNT: What do you look for in a quality clothing buy?  
KL: Can I wash it without ruining it? Will I actually wear it? 
 
TITNT: What about them green boots called to you? More generally, you’re a boot girl. What is it about boots that feels right to you?
KL: Skirts look better on me than pants, and are more comfy, and I’ve always loved the balance that a tough boot brings to a feminine flowy skirt. I think I learned this from Blossom. The green boots called to me because of their vivid color and chunky, not-too-high heel. 
 
TITNT: When you’re putting together an outfit, what’s most important to you?
KL: Balance. Of color, of hard vs. soft elements, of accessories. 
 
TITNT: What’s one trend or aesthetic you love but aren’t sure how to approach?
KL: Pattern mixing. I think this comes from years of “clash day” at school, where you wore stripes and plaid and everyone thought it was hilarious. Also, I love hats, but they rarely look right with my face shape.
 
TITNT: What’s something you’ll never, ever wear?
KL: Booty shorts. And gym shoes outside the gym. 
 
TITNT: What was your worst fashion moment?
KL: I found this hideous homemade skirt at a thrift store in high school. It was made of felt and was covered in neon paisley flowers. You could have a seizure looking at it. I wore it with an oversized men’s red velvet blazer. People were too shocked to even make fun of me. 
 
TITNT: What was your best?
KL: Either my wedding–an Etsy designer made my green dress out of vintage lace, which I paired with bare feet, and later, cream cowboy boots–or my book launch: I wore a sleeveless, fitted, navy dress with an asymmetrical button-up front of bright blue buttons, and cream/turquoise peacock heels.

 

Kelly’s closet bears all of these philosophies out–it’s bursting with color, full skirts, and boatneck shirts. It’s a closet that you immediately want to step into and say, “Oohhhh,” while you run your fingers through the hangers. (Which I did.) One of the fun things about getting to dress someone from their own clothes is that I get to play with styles and textures that I love but don’t wear myself. Even though I’m partial to darks, neutrals, and metallics in my own wardrobe, I was magnetized by all the romantic, slightly bohemian silhouettes Kelly had and couldn’t wait to try them on her.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

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kelly-possibilitiesPossibilities.

The first look I put together incorporated Kelly’s newest summer staple, a cool, classic pair of white shorts. I knew the green would pop against them, and that the navy button-up would ground the ensemble. Plus, navy and green always make a great pair, if you ask me. 

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Next we went for something a little girlier–the crop top was fun, and the green in the boots picked up the green in the print. The skirt is lightweight, made of a cool, easy fabric, and works as a neutral. Kelly also let me raid her jewelry box, where I found these great yellow earrings–they provided a great pop of coordinating color while breaking up the matchiness of the green on top and bottom.

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Finally, I put Kelly in a pair of jeans. These aren’t really weather-appropriate, since it is way too hot for pants in Texas right now, but my real interest was trying something a little out of Kelly’s wheelhouse; as she said above, she’s much more likely to wear a dress or skirt than pants. I thought these boots might look great with a slouchy boyfriend cut (I told you I’m obsessed with the boyfriend cut), so we improvised with this pair of straight-leg Joe’s jeans by rolling up a loose cuff. The real inspiration here was the top, though–I was totally enamored of it and was surprised by how well its more muted color palette played with the vividness of the boots. I’m not sure I managed to make a cuffed jeans convert out of Kelly, but there’s no denying she looked awesome.

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Once again, I’d like to thank Kelly for her adventurous spirit and sharing herself and her wardrobe with me. I had a blast. And if you haven’t picked up a copy of her book, a collection of short stories entitled Three Scenarios In Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, do yourself a favor and click the link. Read it while you savor these last few weeks of summer.

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tryouts

One thing that inevitably happens to me during the summer is wardrobe malaise. The thing is, I’m not a summer clothes gal. I like layers, and leather jackets, and boots. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for ways to inject some life into my hot-weather dressing, because it’s all too easy for me to find one cool, comfortable thing and wear it over… and over… and over. And no matter how much I love that one thing, the repetition starts to get me down unless I can find a new way to style it.

Enter this post on Refinery 29: Versatile Clothing–How to Double Your Closet. I’m a big fan of R29’s fashion content in general, but I particularly like slideshows like this, which are chock full of inspiration and feature looks that can be achieved with both high-end and low-end pieces. When I found this article one morning a couple of weeks ago while listlessly scrolling through Pinterest to avoid getting dressed, I was thrilled. It was just the inspiration I was looking for.

The first look I decided to try was this one:

(Refinery29)

Earlier in the spring, I’d bought a pair of high-waisted poly-blend shorts from ASOS that I was convinced I would wear constantly, but it turned out that I could ever get the look quite right. The shorts were of a fabric that looked best dressed up a little, with heels, but finding a top that tucked in to show off the high waist without coming untucked from the slightly slippery fabric proved a challenge. And, as I’ve mentioned, I spend most of my time these days with a ten-year-old; heels aren’t really in order. So R29’s suggestion that I take my beloved chambray (or, in my case, chambray-look) button down and pair it with a crop-top, brogues, and culottes gave me an idea about those shorts.

Full disclosure: I’m not 100% crazy about this outfit, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction. The button-down/vest option makes the shorts a lot more versatile as a casual piece. I’ll keep trying in a similar vein until I hit upon something I love, though. 

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This bun is, frankly, a triumph. I’ve been growing my hair out for two years, and “long enough for a bun” is a milestone.

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Stila’s Stay All Day in Besos makes me feel like a boss bitch.

Shorts: ASOS
Crop tank: H&M
Chambray-look top: Target
Shoes: Shoedazzle
NecklaceH&M
Watch: Michael Kors

The second cue I took from the Double Your Closet slideshow was this one:

It suggests putting a boxy crop top over a maxi-dress to create a new silhouette. I’m not much of a maxi-dress girl, but I do have this bangin’ Enza Costa midi-dress that I have been wearing to death. It came from an amazing little chain called UAL (United Apparel Liquidators) that has a location in Austin on South Congress. It’s a magical land where they have tons of designer brands at up to 90% off, everything from up-and-coming contemporary designers to heavyweights like Lanvin and Chanel. I bought this dress, originally priced at $198, for somewhere between $50 and $60, and I’m totally obsessed with it. Thing is, I’ve been wearing it so much that I was looking for ways to make it look fresh so it wasn’t quite as obvious that I don’t really want to wear anything else right now. I paired it with the black version of the crop top in the outfit above (I buy one of everything in white and black, if I can) and the Seychelles which I bought on the excellent advice of my sister-in-law to wear as a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and have worn TONS since. Smartest bridesmaid purchase ever. (I only wore the bridesmaid’s dress once, though. Don’t ever believe a bride who tells you you’ll wear the thing again–I should know, because I was that bride. My best friend had the decency to pretend I wasn’t full of shit while I stood in David’s Bridal and lied to her, but she knew. We both knew. She was never going to wear that cute little green dress with the flower on the bodice ever, ever again.)

Anyway, this look was exactly what I hoped it’d be. I wore it to a friend’s birthday dinner and felt fabulous and comfortable the entire night. Granted, the margaritas might have had something to do with that, too.

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Dress: Enza Costa (at UAL)
Cropped tank: H&M
Shoes: Seychelles

That’s all for now! Stay tuned in the coming week for a special post featuring my good friend and author of the wonderful collection of short stories Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, Kelly Luce.

choose your own

Part of life after graduation has been adjusting my expectations and, with them, my wardrobe. I’ve made the choice to nanny part-time for the next year in hopes that this will give me the time to finish writing my in-progress collection of short stories. It’s a choice I feel good about, but it’s also strange watching everyone who graduated go off to jobs and bigger cities. In my weaker moments, it makes me wonder if I’ve made a mistake, if I should be doing something more “adult,” whatever that means. At the same time, I remind myself that this choice is, in many respects, doing exactly what I ought to be doing with a master’s degree in creative writing: it’s putting the work first. It’s saying yes to at least one lean year ahead in service of my long-term goal, which is to publish a book (hopefully several over time) and teach creative writing at the university level. Many of my peers in graduate school were still in their early twenties when they arrived, and already they were so focused, so certain. Most had at least one publication under their belts already. I didn’t have such conviction at their age. I was twenty-six before graduate school even occurred to me, twenty-eight before I went, and twenty-nine before I took myself seriously enough to even consider trying to publish my work. Even then, the attempt to publish consisted of sending one story to ten journals, feeling a strange sense of accomplishment when the tenth rejection had arrived, and promptly forgetting about the whole thing. Beyond that, I have only written, and revised, and revised some more. Now, two years later, three of my stories are finally out in the world on their awkward little legs, looking for a place to land. It’ll probably take a few rounds of submissions before I find any of them a home. But I’m giving myself that time, and that gift to myself feels selfish. My husband works full-time, and here I am pursuing this goal that is only ever achieved in fits and starts. A lot of artists seem to believe that making sacrifices for art is noble, and it is not my business to judge that belief, but it’s not a belief I hold. My only justification is that I love the work. I believe in the work, and I believe that something will come of it. I hope that, if I turn out to be wrong, I can recognize my mistake and have the good grace to change course. But until I try, I can’t know either way.

In the meantime, I am dressing casually because I spend all my time with a smart, funny, friendly ten-year-old girl, and there is such a thing as being overdressed in that case. Some days I don’t even bother with makeup and clothe myself in a way that would mortify me if I were to be seen by any adult I know. Other days, like today, I manage to strike a balance between comfortable and cute and look reasonably well put together.

Two notes: my lipstick is NYX’s matte lip cream in Antwerp, and I successfully diffused my hair for the first time in a month yesterday. I’ve been wearing it straight lately because growing out wavy hair is weird sometimes.

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(These earrings were a gift from my beloved sister-in-law, from a place in Atlanta I can’t remember the name of.)

Mesh-detail tank: Target
Jeans: Target
Rings: H&M
Watch: Michael Kors
Sandals: Forever 21

fat legs, little shorts

Hey, did you guys know I have a blog? Me, neither! The thing about the last semester of graduate school is that you’re lucky if you manage to get six hours of sleep and feed yourself at regular intervals. Blogging does not enter the equation. But now I’ve graduated! And I’m unemployed! (Until next week, when I am partially employed, at least for the summer.) This means I have plenty of time for blogging, but it’s also meant that most days I don’t ever put on pants unless it’s to go to the gym. And while I have some pretty cute pairs of underpants, I’m not quite at a place in my life where I want to put pictures of myself in them on the g.d. Internet, nor do I ever plan to arrive at such a place. But today, y’all: today, I got dressed.

About three years ago, before I moved to Texas, I began a short-lived Tumblr project I called “Fat Legs, Little Shorts,” in which I took pictures of myself wearing shorts and posted them with the tag–you guessed it–#fatlegslittleshorts. You see, I had sworn off shorts years before because I don’t have a thigh gap, and that means that sometimes, HORROR OF HORRORS, the legs of my shorts ride up and I have to… pull them down as though I were a human woman made of flesh and not a mannequin. Clearly, this meant that shorts were not made for me (even though, weirdly enough, plenty of companies make shorts in my size), and so I wore jeans all summer, every summer. When I lived in Eugene, Oregon, this was bearable. It never really gets hot in Eugene; there were plenty of June mornings where I had to wear a sweatshirt because I was chilly. In Chicago, where I lived before moving to Eugene, jeans in the summer were uncomfortable, but I told myself I could suffer through a lousy three months of heat. “So, Taylor,” you may be saying, “why didn’t you just wear dresses or skirts?” Well, dear reader, the answer is this: if you don’t have a thigh gap, your thighs rubbing together makes you sweat, and then the sweat runs down your legs and it looks like you’ve peed yourself. Sorry if this shocks you, but what can I say? I didn’t come here to make friends. (Okay, maybe I did, a little.) At any rate, I had to end the shorts embargo when I found out I’d be moving to Texas, because, y’all. It’s fucking hot here.

As for Fat Legs, Little Shorts, I gave up on it pretty quickly after I got comments like, “Skirts are so much more flattering!” from people who were trying to be helpful, and comments like, “FATTY” from people who were trolls. None of these comments really hurt my feelings, but they did exhaust me, and that little experiment had already done its work; I decided I didn’t look too hideous to be seen in public. I just looked like a lady trying to keep cool.

All that said, I hesitated when choosing photos to share today. A big reason I started this blog is that I still spend a lot of the time feeling like my body is ugly, or wishing certain things about it were different, or, yes, I admit it, longing for a thigh gap (not that there’s anything wrong with a thigh gap–if you’ve got one, God bless you). It is constant work to accept my body for what it is. I’m in great shape. I’m strong, I eat well, I exercise regularly. I have exactly the body I was meant to have. All of those bad feelings stem from a culture that tells me that body isn’t good enough, that I should starve or slice it into submission. I grew up in this culture. I’m not immune to it. I don’t think I ever will be. And when I looked at the photos I took this afternoon, my heart sank a little because I look like myself in them. Myself, cellulite and all, in shorts.

But the flip side of all this is that I am–we all are–more than just a body. And no matter how our bodies look or behave (because often our bodies betray us), we are worthy people. Your size doesn’t determine your value, nor does how you eat or whether or not you exercise. What determines your value is the light your spirit bears. It would still be okay for me to like clothes if I never worked out, if I ate junk food all day every day, if I were disabled or chronically ill. I deserve to take up space in the world. And so do you. So here I am wearing some gol-dang jorts and a BALENCIAGA SCARF OMG.

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About this scarf: It’s this week’s 500 point reward at Sephora along with a bottle of Balenciaga’s Rosabotanica, which smells AMAZING. If you’ve been hoarding your rewards for something awesome, this is a good time to cash them in.

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Tank: Forever 21
Shorts: ASOS
Sandals: Target
Anklet: Senesense
Scarf: Balenciaga

nice and naughty

One of my main wardrobe staples is the sheer blouse, of which I own five or six. I bought my first one a couple of years ago as an exercise in confidence: for a long time, I felt like I wasn’t “allowed” to wear clothes that showed my body, because my body isn’t perfect. So a visible bra was, in a weird way, an act of defiance, a method of testing the idea that fashion belongs to everyone–if an actress or model can step out of the house in a see-through shirt, why can’t I? And now, as you’ll see, I’m addicted. The delicacy of the fabric plays well with heavier textures, and, in the summertime, it’s cool (a very important factor when you live in Texas, as I do). Furthermore, a sheer blouse can be feminine and subtle if styled properly, and because I don’t work in a professional office environment, I’ve found them to be versatile, too. They elevate a basic outfit into something more interesting, and they can be sweet or sultry, depending on what you wear them with, as this post will illustrate.

First we have an outfit I wore last week. The weather here has been intermittently gorgeous, and on these sunny days it’s impossible to stay cooped up in the house for long. We got our back yard cleared out in preparation for consistent spring weather and impromptu barbecues, and here I am enjoying it. (You’ll also notice another pair of boyfriend jeans–I told you I love ’em!)

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Peering into my own bedroom window like a creep.

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Blouse: H&M
Cardigan: Xhilaration (at Target)
Jeans: Old Navy
Scarf: Unknown
Shoes: whitemt.
Watch: Michael Kors

Next, we have what I wore yesterday. It was in the high sixties, but overcast and muggy, so bare legs and a cardigan were the way to go. Really, though, this look was just an excuse to wear my new super-goth matte lipstick from NYX in Siren. It’s my new favorite thing. (And if you haven’t tried NYX products, you should–I use mostly high-end makeup brands, and NYX is my one drugstore exception.) You’ll also see the return of the faux leather skirt from my first post.

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Blouse: H&M
Cardigan: Mossimo
Skirt: Decree
Shoes: Shoedazzle
Necklace: H&M

 

double duty

Oh, hey there. I bet you thought I forgot about this old thing.

Surprise, I didn’t! It’s just that I’ve been so busy that leggings have become an acceptable and frequent substitute for pants. Not that I have anything against leggings as pants–in fact, if you have a leggings are not pants policy, we aren’t going to understand each other on a fundamental level. My point is simply that I haven’t been building a lot of Looks lately, unless you count “I successfully made it out of the house looking like a reasonably sane individual” as a look. Since school started back, it’s a miracle if I have time to get dressed at all, much less time to photograph it and form, like, thoughts about it.

And also–it’s gonna get a little real here, you guys–the year’s gotten off to a rocky start, and I’ve been sad. This blog is not a feelings blog, so I’m not going to get into my sadness here, but I will say it’s put a bit of a damper on my social life, and therefore my outfit life. But! The silver lining (?) to mild depression is that I crave instant gratification, which means I’ve done a fair amount of cheapo clothing shopping in the past month. So not only will this be a double post, it’ll be a double post centered around impulse purchases that I’m determined to wear a lot so I don’t regret them.

Up first is an outfit that I wore on a beautiful seventy degree day a few weeks ago, a day so lovely that, in an act of extreme hubris, I ordered a pair of shorts from ASOS, which I have yet to wear because it has not gotten warm again since. It’s not practically Arctic here like it is in other parts of the country right now, and I don’t even mind the cold that much, but I DO mind not having central heat, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic for this ensemble at the moment. The pictures aren’t the best because I was on my way out the door when I took them and also because I semi-broke my tripod (but have since fixed it, I think), but you get the idea.

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Tank: Spy-C, via NastyGal
Skirt: Silhouette NYC
Jacket: The Limited, thrifted
Shoes: Target
Sunglasses: Bazaar social, bought at Le Garage Sale
Necklace: Same as above

Next we have what I wore today. It’s cold out (not cold enough to justify UT’s silly closing today, but cold), and I’ve been wearing a lot of variations on this ensemble. One of my shopping-about-my-feelings trips was to Forever 21, a store I rarely frequent anymore. My old faux leather jacket was starting to peel, and I needed a new one but couldn’t find one I liked at my usual spots, so I went to the Mecca of my early 20s on a whim where I found this replacement, which I love. It’s surprisingly warm, with a real lining, and it plays well with just about everything in my closet. I might still be on the hunt for one without studs, but this is doing the trick right now. The shirt is a bonus from my Forever 21 trip. I don’t usually wear colors, but when I do, you can be guaranteed some kind of print will be involved, and that print has at least a 60% chance of being floral, because I’m secretly your grandma. Lastly, the jeans are from another sad shopping excursion, this time to Target, another place I don’t often buy clothes anymore. But Y’ALL. These jeans are great. They’re “high rise” (a bit of an overstatement, since really they only come to my belly button and do the apparently extreme job of covering my entire ass when I sit down, but whatever) and they fit like a glove, plus they have zips at the back of the leg. LOVE THEM, not even sorry. So I bought two pairs in two different washes. P.S. They’re still in stock if you want to get you some.

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Can we please appreciate my brow game right now? TOO STRONG.

Top: Forever 21
Jacket: Forever 21
Jeans: Mossimo, at Target
Shoes: Dollhouse
Earrings: Bazaar social, bought at Le Garage Sale

hat tricks

Well, hello there! Before I went out of town for the holidays, I had the hilarious thought that maybe I’d blog from the road. But guess what? The holidays were crazy! We stayed at four different houses in ten days, and by the time we were headed back to Texas, I was so puffy and exhausted that the thought of any outfit consisting of real pants and a top that wasn’t a sweatshirt made me want to crawl into a hole and die. We got home a week ago, but the sweats parade continued as I hunkered down indoors, emerging only to forage for food and wine at the grocery store (and to throw out our sad, very dead Christmas tree.) Today, though, I got dressed, and I even have a couple of places to take this outfit.

So.

My senior year of high school, I met the woman who would become my best friend. The first time she talked to me, I couldn’t believe it; she was so cool, and I was so… not. I knew who she was, of course–she had perfectly messy hair, hosted rock shows in the basement of her house, and had these white vinyl bondage pants that I coveted with a fiery passion. I, on the other hand, wore jeans and a hoodie most days, unless, of course, I couldn’t be bothered to change out of my pajamas at all. That’s right: I wore pajamas and slippers to school. On a regular basis. Teenagers are weird.

Anyway, once Lindsey and I started hanging out, I realized that it was time to learn something about clothes. It wasn’t that I wanted to be as cool as her–that seemed impossible–but rather that I needed to be cool enough to at least be seen with her. In 2001, this meant getups like jeans with a long-white button down over which we wore the corsets from our prom dresses, and (my personal favorite) fishnets under cropped pants. No matter what, enormous platform shoes from Delia*s were essential.

Obviously, our styles evolved over the years–from five-inch heels and blazers in college to our current obsession with sheer blouses–and our personal aesthetics have become much more distinct (e.g., she wears camisoles under her see-through shirts, and I don’t, because I’m shameless). Due to our size disparity, we actually never shared clothes, but even if we could, I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t now. Still, Lindsey is the first person I knew who had fun with clothes, who wore what she liked because it made her feel good, and who wasn’t afraid to take risks. I learned that from her, and she still knows my sartorial preferences better than anyone else. To wit: after a text conversation about the super witchy fashion on American Horror Story: Coven, (actual quote from me: “It makes me want to dress goth as shit”), Lindsey took it upon herself to buy me an entire outfit straight out of the show: long black dress with a deep front slit, seamed stockings, pointy boots, and a hat.

While I’ll eventually model that entire ensemble here, I’m waiting for a special enough occasion, so today you’re only going to see the boots and the hat. As for the hat, I’ve never been big on millinery, and in fact find most hat looks annoyingly twee, but I have to admit that I love this particular hat. It makes me feel like I could cast some wicked spells.

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My pets are unimpressed, clearly.

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Tank: Spy-C (via NastyGal)
Jeans: ASOS
Blazer: Mango
Hat: D&Y
Boots: Dorothy Perkins
Necklace: Catbird

medicinal properties

Today wasn’t great. Not all days are. This evening I received some sad family news, and even before that, I just woke up feeling gross. Holiday malaise isn’t something I’m particularly prone to–I love Christmas and all its attendant fanfare without irony–but what I felt today came pretty close. Or maybe it was just a premonition of the bad news to come. 

At any rate, one of the reasons I think fashion matters is that when I’m feeling crappy, getting dressed and putting together a look makes me feel motivated to be productive even when I don’t want to be. I ended up getting a lot done today, and while a good outfit won’t help my family situation or erase the pain of loss, it did cure my more generic case of the feeling-sorry-for-myselfs.

Contrary to popular belief, it does get chilly in Texas sometimes, but today was not one of those days. Before I moved here, I would have never dreamed of wearing denim on denim. However, not only has an updated twist on the Texas tuxedo become fashionable again in the last couple of years, but a jean jacket is the perfect piece of outerwear for a Texas winter. I never fully appreciated it when I lived elsewhere, but when it’s a consistent sunny sixty-five degrees with just the slightest chill in the breeze, nothing keeps you perfectly comfortable like denim.

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Another staple of my wardrobe is the crop top. I love ’em with a high-waisted set of bottoms. And the good thing about Texas’s extremely temperate winters is that it’s always the right time of year to wear one.

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After I took these photos, I considered not posting them, mainly because I made a poor choice in undergarments that created some weird bulges around the hip and thigh area. But then I decided that not posting them would go against the grain of everything I want to do with this blog. I’m a size twelve! I’ve got soft parts! That’s okay!

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I’ve also got muscles. In a muscle tee.

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Another great piece from Austin-based Ornamental Things.

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And bonus Betty Rubble, Bassett hound and canine love of my life:

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She’s the real lady of the house.

professional development

After my last post, I went out and bought a real camera. I still know nothing about photography, and my editing skills remain nonexistent, but technology is amazing–I took these photos on various automatic settings and am stunned by how well they turned out. I hope to improve as time goes on, of course–especially when it comes to my weird, self-conscious posing. But this isn’t a bad first step!

One of the many perks of my grad school experience has been the opportunity to work as an editorial assistant for a well-known yearly fiction prize, and yesterday I had lunch with the editor and my fellow editorial assistant and dear friend Marissa. As my graduation date approaches, I’ve become increasingly aware that I don’t have much of an idea of how to dress professionally. Post-college and pre-grad school, I was a full-time nanny, so a good suit never entered the equation. All of a sudden, I arrived at thirty with nothing in the way of “grownup clothes” other than a too-large black shift that I wear to funerals and a nice but slightly frumpy blazer. So, as a small move in the right direction, I bought a blazer with a more modern cut that I can work into my everyday wardrobe but also throw over a dress for interviews (as soon as I get some non-cocktail dresses). I wore it for the first time to the aforementioned lunch yesterday as part of a decidedly casual ensemble (depending on whether or not you classify five-inch heels as casual), but I do think it lent some polish and structure to the slouchy cut of the jeans and tank.

Speaking of the jeans, can we talk about how obsessed I am with a boyfriend fit? Not only are these jeans insanely comfortable, I love the effortlessly chic effect created by pairing them with more fitted pieces and/or a killer shoe. As I mentioned in my first post, I’m fond of toeing the line between masculine and feminine in my dressing, so it isn’t hard to see why I’m so enamored of this trend.

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Blazer: Mango
Tank: H&M
Jeans: ASOS
Shoes: Shoedazzle
Necklace: Ornamental Things

learning curves

One thing that happens when you decide to start a blog without doing much research first is that you come up against your own limitations at inconvenient times. For instance, it didn’t occur to me, until I tried to take pictures on Monday, that a camera phone–even a good one–probably isn’t going to cut it if a girl wants to show the world what she’s wearing in the most flattering light. And once that occurred to me, I realized that it also hadn’t occurred to me that literally any photo editing skills at all might be a bonus. But, hey. This is all about trying new things, right? And I’m buying a camera later today.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll bear with the amateurish visuals here while I figure out what the heck it is I’m doing.

I celebrated my birthday on Monday night at one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. I was joined by my husband and three wonderful girlfriends. As I sat around the table drinking delicious cocktails and eating chicken liver mousse and truffled deviled eggs, I was awash in gratitude for the amazing people in my life, near and far. My friends are smart, kind, beautiful, and funny, down to the last, and my husband is the most loving and supportive man I have ever known. Sharing my birthday with them was absolutely the way to go. I just wish everyone else I love could have been there, too.

So, what did I wear? A couple of weeks ago I placed three separate ASOS orders in a span of two days, thanks to the abundance of discount codes they kindly directed to my inbox. One of these orders included a white zippered sweater that I am obsessed with, and I knew I wanted to wear it on my birthday. The leather-look skirt is another recent find–the last one left, miraculously in my size, on a sale rack at a department store. The tights are by Gipsy; they’re spectacular in person, but I couldn’t get a good picture of them. The shoes are a Payless purchase from my broke college student days seven or eight years ago, and they’ve actually held up better than some more expensive pairs I’ve had. In this photo I’m proudly and tipsily displaying the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, gifted to me by two of my aforementioned girlfriends. It was a good day.

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Sweater: ASOS
Skirt: Decree
Tights: Gipsy
Shoes: Payless
Watch: Michael Kors

Man, that picture is even worse on a computer screen than it is on my phone. But at least that means the only place to go from here is up. Here’s a photo taken with my friend Thomas’s camera that’s better quality but in which it’s harder to see my outfit:

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Only slightly better, but what’s an ambitious thirtieth-year project good for if not learning from your mistakes in public? Learning curves, y’all. Learning curves.