23 February 2011 -- Day 15

  • Floral Print Jersey Dress: Boden (UK)
  • Light Grey Cardigan: H&M (Subbed for Ann Taylor long grey cardigan)
  • Dark Grey Tights: HUE, via Hue.com
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos
  • Necklace: David Yurman, gifted

I’ve had to make more substitutions than I would like during this 30 for 30 challenge, due to a combination of fit issues and, in this case, a tragic, tragic laundry disaster. Yes, friends, after many years of dedicated service, my faithful long grey cardigan is now…thoroughly felted. Now thoroughly sold on the concept of long cardigans, I’ve replaced it with this lighter-colored one from H&M, and hope it will last for even more years to come.

Here, I’m using the light grey cardigan and neutral leg coverings (grey tights and brown boots) to subdue the bright print of this jersey dress from boden. In retrospect, belting this look may have been a better choice than letting it hang open, but the relaxed look had its advantages on a sleepy Friday in the library. This outfit is one of those looks that seems to photograph quite differently than it feels in the mirror, in this case presenting a much more serene impression than I felt while I was wearing it. All day, I felt like something wasn’t quite right, like the fit on the top half didn’t quite either contain or flatter my chest the way I expected it to, nor did the seaming on the midsection emphasize my waist the way I would have liked. It’s a testament, though, to the importance of little details to bring a look together, though: the details on this necklace do a lot to bring the focus off my chest and up towards my face, and give the look itself a little more polish than it would otherwise have.

Do you find that photographs or mirrors affect your perception of how well an outfit “worked” after the fact? If you take outfit photos, do you find they provide needed clarity on your sartorial choices, or make you focus on past choices in an unhelpful way?

23 February 2011 -- Day 15

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22 February 2011 -- Day 14

  • Scarf: Mommed (Mid-1990s)
  • Purple Heathered Tee: Gap
  • Green Heathered Cardigan: Vintage TSE, mommed (subbed for Max Azria military jacket)
  • Dark Wash Skinnies: Gap, via Gap.com
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos

As I’ve talked a lot about, I’ve had the good fortune to inherit a number of items—many of them fairly unique—from my mother, who is not so much one of those “my mom was fashionable way back when” mothers as the “my mother wears way better clothes than me now and may in fact be far more of a risk-taker than I’ll ever be” type. While we’re close enough in size now (or have been at a few moments in the past few years) that I’ve gotten some of the “oops” items from her closet (the, I bought that and it never worked kinds of things), the fact that I am not only slightly curvier but also taller places some important constraints on the kinds of things I get from her closet. Pants, for example, are mostly out of the question (barring conversion to capris). Mostly, the universe consists of accessories (some of which are quite recent), and clothes from earlier eras, when she was not quite so painfully svelte as she is now.

It can be challenging to figure out how to style some of these beloved pieces. While almost everything old becomes new again at some point, there are definitely trends that were not very flattering the first time around, making them a bit of a challenge to resurrect. Part of my “project” of improving and interrogating my personal style very much involves thinking critically about how to better incorporate these pieces into my everyday rotation, and I’ve been surprised and impressed with the results: some of the more “idiosyncratic” among them have become unexpected remix heroes (see, e.g., the red cardigan, the brown tweed cardigan, etc).

This scarf is from the mid-1990s, from what we often jokingly refer to as my mother’s “craft fair era,” where she wore Serious Woman of the Justice Department suits during the week and flowy, shapeless but artisanally crafted duds on weekends, cropped her hair short on the sides and pouffy on top and wore (trust me, I’ve seen them) enormous glasses in an entirely non-ironic manner. Despite those associations (who was that woman? she now says upon reflection), some of the individual items from that era of her closet can be resurrected in a more modern manner, and this scarf is definitely one of them. I could have worn it any number of ways, but I loved the way it played off the somewhat muted jewel tones already in the outfit, and added some glamour to an outfit that was otherwise very, very simple. I wasn’t going anywhere fancy (the library and lunch with a friend), but I felt just that little bit more “done” than I would have had I just worn jeans, boots and a sweater. A quick note about these jeans, which I praised yesterday: while they are incredibly comfortable, I found that the average time to beginning of serious rear-end saggage was…shorter than I would have liked. Your mileage may vary, but, I wanted to be sure to be fair and balanced, so to speak!

Is your mom a candidate for that “My Mom, the Style Icon” feature in the back of Lucky? Do you talk about style with your mother? If you do, do you guide her or the other way around? What’s your craziest parental style memory?


22 February 2011 -- Day 14
22 February 2011 -- Day 14

22 February 2011 -- Day 13

  • Scarf: Mommed
  • White Striped Tee: Columbia Sportswear, hand-me-down from SIL E.
  • Skinnies: Gap, via Gap.com, subbed for Kut from the Kloth pair
  • Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer, via Zappos

Just when I had really hit the remixing blahs…mum to the rescue! My parents very graciously took us to a lovely dinner on Saturday, and my mum, unexpectedly, brought with her yet more additions to my scarf collection, including this one, which consists of several very different, equally wild, patterns. While I’m always happy to relieve my mother of the stresses of ownership, her offering was particularly welcome at the moment, when I’ve been, admittedly, struggling to keep my remixed looks vibrant and interesting.

On the note of keeping things “mixed up,” I have subbed in these skinnies from the Gap that I had ordered pre-remix for my old-standbys from Kut from the Kloth, due to a longstanding fit issue that just wouldn’t seem to resolve itself. Owing to their slightly longer length, these are a little more “straight” at the opening than the others, but I’ve been loving their superdark wash and comfortable fit. Here, they form a relaxed pairing with loafers and this supersoft tee, which takes advantage of the multi-patterned scarf for both warmth and visual interest.

Have you had the remixing blahs? If so, how have you broken through them? What “go to” items have gotten you through the challenge?

22 February 2011 -- Day 13

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21 February 2011 -- Day 12

  • Trench: Banana Republic
  • Plaid Button-up: Forever 21
  • Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor
  • Brown Wedges: Naturalizer “Beaba,” via Amazon

I don’t usually feature outerwear here, but this beloved trench so was such a perfect addition to this outfit and the product of such a long, long search that I couldn’t resist taking a few photos with it on! It was one of those desperately-trying-to-be-warm days, so that despite the drizzly, grey weather, I felt compelled to try to urge spring along with bare legs and painted toenails. A futile effort, given that it’s going to snow again tomorrow, but bear (no pun intended!) with me….

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I tend to be a “long search” person when it comes to shopping, at least for key items. And by long I mean, years, plural. My brown boots that I now wear all the time? Three years. This trench? Two and a half years. Some of that involves shopping in actual stores, but a lot of it involves scanning websites and magazines, looking for inspiration, and ordering things online and returning them. Sometimes “the find” comes at the end of a long, purposeful day of shopping or a particularly productive mail-order haul. Other times, like with this trench, it happens at random: husband D. and I were walking around after lunch and I stopped into Banana Republic while he was on the phone with his uncle, and there it was. It’s now my go-to piece for work day outerwear in spring, fall and sometimes even early winter, and while it definitely shows its wear more than a black coat would, I’ve been able to get by dry-cleaning it once a season. It was definitely an “investment piece” (defined here loosely as anything > $100), but given that I’ve probably worn it 200 times since we brought it home, the cost-per-wear (to me, by far the more important aspect of the item’s cost) has been really low.

The trench added both classic and classy vibes to an outfit that otherwise consisted of endlessly remixed, flexible-register pieces: the kinds of things that could be dressed way up or way down, and that, perhaps because of their versatility, don’t have that kind of stand-out specialness of a “signature” piece. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of wearing this dress as a skirt lately, here using the shirt itself (tied at the waist a la Kyla) to define a waistline, rather than leaving the tails down and belting. I wasn’t planning on wearing red, white and blue on President’s Day, but as it happened, I ended up with an outfit that to me read as really “classic American” apparel. I can’t say that the bare legs actually helped coax the weather into a warmer, more compliant mood, but it made me feel a little more like the winter is actually wrapping itself up than I was otherwise feeling.

What’s your shopping personality? Are you a long-searcher, like me, or are you more of a wanderer, letting pondering whether individual items work in your closet when and if they strike your fancy? Do you share my compulsive purchase-and-return habit? If you’ve broken it, any tips?

21 February 2011 -- Day 12

21 February 2011 -- Day 12

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18 February -- Day 11

  • Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
  • Grey Stretchy Belt: Forever 21
  • Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor
  • Brown Peep-toe Wedges: Naturalizer “Beaba,” via Amazon.com

When the wonderful folks at Fashionable Academics put out their CFP for photos and definitions of feminism, I struggled a lot with what to send them. And then I realized the answer was staring me in the face (or rather, in the mirror) all along: what I wore today—and every day—is a picture of what feminism looks like. Today and all days, I look like a feminist…because I am one.

Now, of course, like any good English department trained, literary-theory headed feminist, I have ambiguous feelings about the use of the word “am,” but even in the most malleable, polymorphous, performative understanding of identity and subjectivity, I’m pretty comfortable with that sentence (thought I might say something more like “feminism is an identity I perform every day” if I wanted to acknowledge those theoretical debts—even though it doesn’t sound as pretty). But here I am, on a perfectly ordinary Friday (and in fact, a somewhat extraordinary one, as it’s 70+ degrees in February), off to a coffee shop to do homework on a non-academic day, “performing feminism”: I’m making choices about my future and my goals without regard to gender-imposed or implied boundaries, I’m confidently expressing my views on the important texts in my field without regard to some notion that I shouldn’t for whatever reason, I’ve challenged gender, race and class essentialisms through policy work aimed at broadening opportunities for self-realization by low-income and uninsured men and women, and while I’m aware that bodies are never neutral, I’m dressing in a way that reflects confidence in and control of my physical—and indeed, sexual—identity.

As a student of gender in law, in political science and in literature, as a campus activist and hotline counselor and later as a “professional feminist” doing national policy work, I’ve had a long and complicated internal and external dialogue about what it means to be a feminist, and about who “gets” to be one. I’ve bounced back and forth about the critique that it is itself unfeminist to suggest that there are boundaries beyond which one can’t go and still be called a feminist, and in particular, struggled with the idea that reproductive choice is one such boundary, and with the idea that the “Mama Grizzlies” funded by a certain former Alaskan governor who shall not be named “get” to share this label with my friends, with the clinicians I used to represent, with the women and men whose tireless work for equality I’ve always admired. I don’t know the answer to this question, and I’d hate to commit myself to one here.

So for today, I’ll say this: feminism is about challenging the unspoken assumptions of the status quo, about making visible that which our conscious or unconscious biases or cultural squeamishness would seek to mask, about the rigorous search for equality of opportunity across race, gender, class and sexuality boundaries, about the belief in the political dimension of the personal, and about trying to resist the urge to allocate responsibilities or roles using gender as a “default.” It’s not a perfect or an all-encompassing definition, or even much of a definition at all, but it’s one slice of my very complicated pie of very complicated feelings about a movement which has shaped my professional and personal lives in dramatic ways over the last ten years.

Do you think of yourself as a feminist? If you’re a style blogger, how do you feel about the feminist political implications of blogging about these aspects of our personal lives?

18 February -- Day 11
18 February -- Day 11

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I’m still catching up from my week of cloistered paper-writing, but while it’s been dismal weather here (until today!), it’s beach week over at The Coastal Chicster, where I’ve got a guest post up on packing for the beach vacation I wish I were going on for the long weekend!

Without further ado, though: outfits 9 and 10!

Catching Up -- Day 9

  • Doubleknit Blazer: Halogen, via Nordstrom
  • Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor
  • Maroon Tights: HUE
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos
  • Necklace: David Yurman, gifted

Sometimes the wrong shoes can totally make an outfit. I actually wore this on EBEW’s Blazer Day, and struggled way more than I expected with how to style this comfy-yet-structured doubleknit blazer that both SIL E. and I bought when I went to visit her in Colorado last month. I love the cropped length, but it can make it challenging to wear with pants without the right length top underneath (long enough that the difference looks intentional, or tucked into a higher-waisted bottom. Enter my workhorse of workhorses, the black jersey dress. The solid length of black underneath the blazer creates one long line, while allowing the cropped length of the blazer to artificially lengthen my legs and distract from my longer torso (the cropped sleeves, one of the oldest tricks in the book, also help with this, obscuring the connection between where my wrists hit and my legs start, and preventing sleeve fidgeting at the same time). I had planned to wear this—which I wore to an informal Q&A with other candidates for Editor-in-Chief of my law journal—with colored tights and my new brown wedges, but for whatever reason, it just wouldn’t come together that way. The boots—which are demonstrably “the wrong shoes” for this outfit—were a last minute addition, but I was intrigued with the way they ended up being pivotal to the look. The boots give the overall ensemble a little more of that relaxed, cool-girl vibe I was going for, grown-up but not stuffy, comfortable in my skin. It’s not the perfect outfit designed to highlight this piece, but I loved the way it turned out to just work: it’s yet another testament to the empowering aspects of working with what you have, even when what you have doesn’t include the “right” pieces for a look you’re trying to create. And as a substantive matter, it seems to have worked: I found out yesterday I was elected EIC!

Catching Up -- Day 9

Catching Up -- Day 10

  • Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
  • White Tank: Banana Republic
  • Red Woven Belt: Forever 21
  • Black Tulip Overlay Skirt: Ann Taylor
  • Black Tights: HUE
  • Black Croc Wedges: Stuart Weitzman, via Bloomingdales

I wore this look to class and some meetings on Valentine’s Day, a mix of soft textures, favorite items and a favorite color combination (how did I live before black and red together?). This skirt, which I rescued from a final final final sale bin over the summer, is a little fussy to are for and isn’t a perfect fit, but with a belt and under or over the right top, it’s one of those “make it work” staples of the business end of my business casual wardrobe. And for once, I’m playing by the rules, creating a long leg line with black skirt, black tights and black shoes, while having a little bit of fun by mixing up the textures along the way. Festive and holiday appropriate, without being too cutesy, and grown-up enough that I didn’t feel embarrassed by the arrival of a surprise guest speaker in seminar.

What are some surprising sartorial combinations you’ve put together lately? How do you inject creative energy into your style while resisting the urge to acquire the “one perfect thing” that will make you never need to shop again (you promise!)?

Catching Up -- Day 10

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…aaaaaaaand I’m back. Phew! Thanks to a weird quirk of the law school’s calendar, our paper deadline for fall semester seminar papers is…one month in to second semester, and despite my best efforts over winter break, I was working on said term papers until about eight minutes before the deadline yesterday. I’ve been 30 for 30-ing away while I was cloistered away at my writing desk, and as promised, I’ll be catching up for the rest of this week.

Catching Up: Day 5

  • Long Grey Slouchy Cardigan: Michael Michael Kors, via Nordstrom
  • Metallic Soft Belt: Loft
  • Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor
  • Black Tights: HUE
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos

There comes a time in every woman’s life…when she really, really wishes she could wear sweatpants. Unfortunately for her, sometimes this happens on a day that she has multiple seminars and dressing “like a grown up” feels like more of a requirement. Enter…as many layers of jersey as you can possibly find! This super soft, drapey look kept me comfortable and at ease on a long, cold day, while still giving me a teensy bit of shape underneath all those soft layers. As a sartorial bonus, I felt awfully sneaky all day long: how was it possible to be so comfortable and still be wearing a dress?

Catching Up: Day 6

  • Boot-cut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth, via Nordstrom, hemmed by me
  • Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer, via DSW
  • Striped Tee: Forever 21
  • White Scarf: Union Station Vendor

Linda from The Auspicious Life and I have been talking a lot lately about honesty in style blogging. Honesty not in terms of the written words on the page, but honesty in terms of the coverage we provide, the slice of our sartorial experiences we choose to represent. Obviously, this is a deeply personal choice, and one we’re all entitled to make, but personally, I’m realizing how important demonstrating a slightly “broader scope” of outfits is to my sense of authenticity. Some of this comes from my own increasing confidence (perhaps misplaced!) about my casual wardrobe, and some from a sense that this blog is about exploring personal style with emotional and fiscal integrity in all kinds of settings, not just at work. So, I’m trying to show more of these kinds of moments, even though they aren’t necessarily the most fascinating outfits I could possibly imagine. On this day, like many I’ve had recently, I was running late, stressed and sickly. For some reason I decided the right answer to this was looking like the Fourth of July, but it kept me, again, comfortable and warm and feeling like at least I’d thought about what I was wearing for a minute, rather than showing up in sweats.

Catching Up: Day 7

  • Boot-cut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth, via Nordstrom, hemmed by me
  • Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer, via DSW
  • Purple Heathered Tee: Gap
  • Yellow Scarf: Union Station vendor

This is another casual day/weekend outfit, worn for a tragically long Saturday spent writing until husband D. and a dear, dear friend came home for dinner to distract me and cheer me up (to great effect, in fact. Great effect involving tea, and grilled cheese-and-fig sandwiches, and the episode of Modern Family featuring the hilarious “Underneath the Moonlight” song). I’m letting the color combination do most of the work here, and I’m happy with that outcome: it was peppy without being distracting, more interesting than your standard issue tee-shirt and jeans, without actually taking much more effort.

Catching Up: Day 8

  • Boot-cut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth, via Nordstrom, hemmed by me
  • Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer, via DSW
  • White Striped Tee: Columbia Sportswear, hand-me-down from SIL E.
  • Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
  • Metallic Braided Belt: UO

So, let me talk about this tee-shirt. When SIL E. gave it to me, I was convinced it would be a mainstay of my “casual day/hiking/travel” wardrobe, but wouldn’t make it into the everyday rotation. Thankfully, I was wrong! This is absolutely the softest, most comfortable, most fabulous tee-shirt in the world, and I’m so happy I was able to swipe it from her! It’s a length I’m still learning to wear (as a short-legged gal, I tend to go for higher waisted looks), but I’ve loved it softness and its subtle shaping details, and the way it’s been able to blend its way into different registers of clothing with such little effort. Here, I paired it with my favorite sartorial pick-me-up, my terrifyingly red cardigan, and a simple belt. Again, it wasn’t the world’s most elaborate outfit, but all of a sudden, hey! I’m wearing patterns! And bright colors! And for brunch with my parents on a busy working Sunday, this wasn’t at all a bad outcome.

What’s your definition of “honesty” in styleblogging? If you’re a blogger, how do you decide what kinds of looks to show and not show, both in terms of the perceived “blogworthiness” of an individual outfit and in terms of whole classes of outfits you do or don’t feature? Have your feelings on the subject changed over time?

That’s all for now, folks, and thanks again for your patience while I was away! I’ll be back with looks 9 and 10 shortly, and then back to the regular 30-for-30 schedule.

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Hi Friends!

I’m so sorry I’ve been AWOL from bloggy land this week! I promise there’s both a good excuse and a lame, slightly depressing procrastination-related excuse. Rest assured I’ve still been remixing right along, and will post this week’s 30 for 30 outfits over the weekend or early next week. I appreciate your patience, and have been so inspired by all the great looks you’ve created this week, fellow remixers, and am so happy to have met another great group of bloggers and new reader friends! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again for bearing with me during my unexpected absence!

XO

S.

 

4 February 2011 -- Day 4

  • That Boden Dress That Cynthia Also Has: Boden (UK)
  • Magenta Cardigan: Talbots
  • Grey Tights: HUE
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos
  • Grey Stretchy Belt: F21
  • Necklace: David Yurman, gifted

You may need to adjust your monitors…there’s a whole lot of bright going on! While I tend to try to tone down this quite bright Boden dress with more neutral accessories (grey and/or winter white cardigans, winter white scarves, etc.), I ended up loving the for-some-reason-hilarious combination of loud-on-loud in this outfit. The (exceeding) brightness gave me a bit of a pick-me-up on a long, dark day of being on call in class, running errands and writing about the arcana of Congressional investigations (whatever poor soul had to digitize these videos to put them on youtube…thanks. You’re my superhero.). I liked the way this longer cardigan mixes up the proportions of this dress and gives it a little more shape than it would otherwise have. As an added bonus, it disguises the under-bust seam, which allows for visually easier belting.

In a slightly contrived segue from all that visual noise, Katy asked us this week about another kind of noise reduction: how we decide which blogging “Events” or memes to participate in. So, without further ado, this week’s Friend Friday questions:

1. With all the blogging events out there how do you determine which ones to participate in and which ones to avoid?

I try to make decisions about what to participate in based on (1) the time I have available and the other content I’m trying to produce, (2) my mission, and (3) the contents of my closet. Some of these decisions are easy (while I’m thrilled with what Linda and Liz are doing on Everybody, Everywear, I don’t own any Breton stripes, so I didn’t participate), but others are more complicated. When I can, I make these decisions on a periodic basis: for example, if I’ve got a Rule Breaking outfit for Monday or the Friend Friday questions resonate with me and fit with my other criteria for inclusion, I’ll participate, and otherwise I’ll take a pass.

2. Be honest, have you ever jumped on the bandwagon of some blogging movement/event for the wrong reasons? How did that turn out?

I suppose I haven’t been blogging long enough to have had this experience, but this may also depend on whether you think of as “the wrong reasons.” For me, participating in and interacting with the blogging community is important, so to the extent that that’s been a motivator, it’s hard for me to see it as an improper one!

3. How do you give your own flair to a blog event while still maintaining the general mission and purpose?

In addition to photos, I include a fair amount of written content, so I try to put my “twist” on the event in the commentary I provide on the outfits and items and the questions I ask of my readers. Among other things, I’m concerned about the aesthetics and politics of style, the intersections of fashion, feminism and body image, personal style in transitional life moments, and building a remixable, functional, appropriately-forward-looking wardrobe on a budget — fundamentally, that’s my mission, and I try to weave these issues in to the “spin” I put on posts that are part of a blog event.

4. When determining the best content for your blog what criterion do you keep in mind?

  • Does it fit with my mission?
  • Does it fit with my closet?
  • Do I have time?
  • Does it afford me an opportunity to connect with other bloggers?
  • Will it encourage my creativity or my remixing skills, and discourage consumerism?
  • How will it affect my other content plans for the duration fo the challenge?

5. While everything will not suit your blog, how do you try and support your fellow bloggers who are participating in something worthwhile but not your style?

While my time isn’t unlimited, I definitely try to reach out to bloggers who are working on projects I’m supportive of, either by commenting or plugging their project on my blog. I think everyone’s choices about what to participate in and what content to include on their blog are deeply personal, and I respect other bloggers’ choices, even if they aren’t always things that would work for me.

4 February 2011 -- Day 4

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3 February 2011 -- Day 3

  • Printed Silk Scarf: vintage Burberry, mommed
  • White Striped Tee: Columbia Sportswear, hand-me-down from SIL E.
  • Navy Ponte Trousers: Banana Republic
  • Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer, via DSW
  • Silver Woven Belt: UO

While this outfit wasn’t nearly as far out of my comfort zone as yesterday’s, it still pushed my boundaries in other ways. A combination of sore feet and a relative lack of creativity yesterday morning landed me with an unexpected conundrum: given the options available, could I wear pants and flats at the same time, and do so in a manner that felt as soft and comfortable as I was hoping to be?

I ended up with this combination, which includes some new-ish proportions for me: with my long-ish torso, relatively short overall height and relatively short legs, I tend not to wear long-waisted tops, particularly not with pants, and I rarely wear non-skinny pants with flats. I’ve tried to bring the visual focus back up with the belted scarf, which reclaims my waist from the expanse of white tee-shirt, while adding some visual interest with the bold scarf print and unconventional pattern mix. It violates the Stacey and Clinton proviso of always dressing to create the tallest, leanest hourglass figure possible, but wins bonus points for enabling me to look like I really wanted to get dressed today…even though I felt like I went to class (and my marathon of subsequent meetings) in my pyjamas.

What do you wear when you don’t feel like getting dressed? How has this evolved over time as your style has evolved and grown?

3 February 2011 -- Day 3

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