- Sources of Inspiration
- The Fine Print
- And Whatnot
[ Top row, from left: February 2012 / November 2011 / July 2011 // Second row, from left: November 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 // Third row, from left: December 2010 / April 2011 / February 2011 ]
If I had had my act together today, I’d have (a) actually picked out a pair of green pants instead of continuing to endlessly search for the perfect one, (b) worn said pants and made it long enough into the day without getting baby spit-up on them to take photos, and (c) actually edited and posted said photos amid a blur of deadlines and an allergies-without-medicine induced haze. Because you all know part (a) was by far the least realistic of the required elements, I bring you…this recap of some of my favorite ways to wear green and green-ish through the ages, settings, seasons and stages of being not-yet-pregnant, barely-pregnant, hugely-pregnant and thankfully-not-pregnant-anymore.
*and I would love, love, love your suggestions on green pants. I tried those adorable tiny babypants from Target, but the pants-kryptonite of my waist-to-just-above-the-knee ratio proved their undoing (terrible pun intended). Have a wonderful Tuesday!
- Navy Cords: J.Crew, skinnied and hemmed
- Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer via DSW
- Long Black Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Black Nursing Tank: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity
- Chevron Dolman Tee: Old Navy
- Earrings: Old Navy
- Off-White Scarf/Wrap: comme des garcons, mommed
This outfit was born of an online shopping disaster.
I tend to be a long-searcher. I do a lot of online shopping (and a lot of returning), and when I do shop at a bricks and mortar store, it’s usually a place with an online catalog I’ve perused extensively before walking in. And it usually pays off: it takes a while, but I often end up finding just the right version, and it limits buyer’s remorse over the thing I end up actually keeping.
Every now and then, though, I fail catastrophically. Usually it happens when, under the aegis of stepping outside my comfort zone, I become somewhat entranced by a look that just isn’t me, one that doesn’t work for my proportions or the lifestyle I’m actually living. (Nota bene: while I absolutely abhor the phrase “you just shouldn’t wear that” because of an alleged mismatch between garment and body type, I don’t believe there’s harm in thinking, “hmmm. I don’t feel quite as fabulous in this as I do in other things.”) In these cases, the problem isn’t that I didn’t find the right one, it’s usually that I was barking up the wrong tree to begin with.
Case in point: the past few weeks, where I’ve been feeling a strange infatuation with a kind of quasi rock-and-roll-ish aesthetic of colored skinnies and motorcycle boots and drapey, woven tops, for reasons largely passing understanding. After looking at more pairs of mid-calf and ankle boots than I’d like to admit, I ordered the pair pictured above, which were (and still are) on super sale at Nordstrom’s and eagerly anticipated their arrival. And as I probably should have known, they were a complete disaster. Not that they’re not fabulous boots (which they are), they just aren’t fabulous boots for me. They looked all wrong, they didn’t go with anything in my closet, they belonged to a universe which is, I’m sure, a very nice place, but not the place I’m living in. The blazer and draped top above (dreamed about but not purchased) are in similar veins. While I fantasize about the colorblocking (and in my favorite combination of colors), I couldn’t ever really get away with wearing it to work, and it probably wouldn’t ge enough use in my at-home and at-school lives to justify the expense (though it’s still in the “maybe someday on eBay” list). The top is gorgeous, but not really the right silhouette for me, and besides: it belongs on someone who both isn’t getting spit up on 50 times a day and can get away with wearing 1″ owl print (a woman I’d like to meet, for sure).
The fact that some kinds of things are less “me” than others is fine, and it doesn’t make any of the things that aren’t “me” any less beautiful or even make me like them any less. They often make great recommendations to my mother for things she might like, even, since she’s admittedly more adventurous and less likely to get spit up on. Recognizing what works well for me is part of what makes personal style, well, personal, and that’s important, too.
So, slightly defeated and already looking for my fourth outfit of the day (thanks, little m.!), I rummaged in my closet with fairly low expectations. Clothed, looking like enough of an adult to take m. to the pediatrician (oh, the shots! and the screaming!), warm enough, reasonably efficient breastfeeding access, and if I didn’t match, at least looking like I didn’t match on purpose. And while the resulting look is a little bit girl-of-alt-summit/all-things-at-once, (a) that doesn’t really matter and (b) by the end of the day, I ended up really liking it. It was responsive to my inner drive to try something new (which is what brought on the shopping disaster in the first place), it worked with my body and with what’s actually in my closet. It sparked my creativity without the psychic, financial or temporal toll that the desire to acquire can sometimes take, and that was worth something, too. And probably I get some bonus points for putting together an outfit that combines comme des garcons and Old Navy.
As an aside, when my mom handed this wrap down to me, I remember saying, “are you sure? I already have an off-white wrap,” to which she said, “yes, but you don’t have this one.”
As usual, she was right.
How do you balance trying new things, genres, trends and styles with the need to fit your shopping habits into your financial, temporal and psychic budget? Are you a long-searcher or an impulse buyer? Have you ever tried a trend or an aesthetic that turned out to just not work for you at all?
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- Patterned Shirtdress: (Accidental!) Target
- Teal Cardigan: Caslon via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Black Tights: HUE
- Brown Riding Bots: Franco Sarto via Zappos
- Belt: Forever21
- Earrings: Old Navy
Much as being a parent in law school (or in any setting where relatively few people have kids) has its “oooh! Look at the pandas!” moments, my particular experience suggests that pandas might not be so rare. In one three-month span this summer and early fall, five children were welcomed by students from my first-year section (of 120) alone.
This is not at all representative of law students as a whole, or even students at my law school, and I don’t know what was in the water last winter that explains the great Section One Baby Boom of Fall 2011. It’s worth noting that it’s not just our child-rearing habits that seem to be ahead of the curve; a decent number of my classmates were married before beginning law school, and that number has grown over the last 2.5 years. I’d like to think we’re exercising some kind of group defiance against the (bogus but oft-repeated) idea that law school has to entirely kill your personal life and your relationships with anyone outside law school, but that rebellion is probably more in my head than anything else.
We make a strange secret society, our motley crew of zombie parents (frequently indistinguishable from zombie law students of other stripes). Some of us were good friends before we all became parents at around the same time, and some of us have little in common other than that. But amid a whole lot of trying to appear normal, we share our secret Real Lives, passing down leftover newborn diapers and advice about class schedules and back-up child care. Membership comes with its own private rituals and obligations, a strange amalgam of commiseration about sleep schedules and an iron-clad promise to cover if you have to miss class.
Although I planned (or attempted to plan) many aspects of our process-of-becoming-parents (and boy, am I eager to tell you about them!), this was not one of them. Among my friends from college, D. and I were frontier settlers in the land of marriage, and if you’d asked me who I thought would be accompanying us on this journey to the outer space of parenthood, I certainly would not guessed that it would be my law school classmates. It’s turned out to be a wonderful surprise: while there are universal things about parenting that anyone whose done it can tell you, there is a kind of magic, healing bond that comes of experiencing very similar things at very similar times. And while much of the “parent wars” (I won’t say “mommy wars”) rhetoric out there is unhelpful nonsense, it is certainly not false that the way our lives are organized (economically, structurally, logistically) influences how we experience parenting, and that it can be incredibly helpful to have people around you implementing similar models and experiencing similar challenges. I don’t know if you’ve heard this rumor, but the early days of being a new parent can be incredibly lonely, even as they are magical in ways you never could have guessed; it helps to have some hands to guide your metaphoric leap into the great unknown.
I wore this outfit to a lunch with some of our partners in crime/law school parenting; my friend S(3). and I are both home with our kids on Fridays, and often get together for lunch with the babies and sometimes a spouse or another friend from school. His son l. is only six weeks older than baby m., and they aren’t really old enough to meaningfully interact, but they smile at each other sometimes, and we trade off holding babies and burp clothes so nobody has to eat the entire meal one-handed, and we go home relieved that we’ve made it out of the house, that we have Done A Thing Today, Darn It. It has done wonders for everyone’s sanity. This dress (yet another accidental Target find), in all its milk-friendly glory, was forced into early retirement after the fourteenth spit-up incident during the two hours we were out of the house. Thankfully, it seems to have survived the wash, and I look forward to rejoicing in its dot-matrix pattern, its swishy shape, and oh, yes, those fabulous buttons, in many remixes to come (particularly if this warm weather keeps up. Insane!).
There are aspects of our experience that we don’t share, of course, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that of these five families, I am the only female parenting student. There are days when this state of being not-just-a-parent-but-a-mother matters more and less, but for these last few weeks and months before we all splinter off to the wide blue yonder, I’m trying to be a lumper rather than a splitter.
All the same, I’ll reserve the right to refer to our Friday lunches as “mom dates.”
- Scarf: Malo, mommed
- Dress: Mandy’s closet sale
- Tights: HUE
- Black Booties: Franco Sarto via Nordstrom’s
- Arm party of hair elastics I forgot to take off my wrist, again.
I’m a little behind these days (can’t imagine why), so these are actually from last Thursday . . . when I got all did up to steel myself for a “challenging” meeting, only to have it cancelled at the last second, leaving me relieved at not having to go, and amused at feeling like a walking style-blogger cliche, all dressed up and nowhere to go. We’ll pretend it made me more productive in the ensuing hours, after my schedule was all shot to hell. After all, don’t these shoes just scream scholarly to you?
. . . Right. Of course they do.
This dress is yet another attempt to incorporate more pre-loved items into my wardrobe, as I manage the “in transition” nature of my body, my budget and my closet at the moment. I snapped it up from Mandy’s closet sale a few weeks back (along with a fabulous pair of yellow shoes). While the fit isn’t perfect, it’s a great blank canvas for remixing, and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of its relative seasonlessness. It’s also a breastfeeding-friendly silhouette that works for both nursing and pumping (easier said than done), which is an added bonus. And come on, the vague shades of the late lamented crocodile hunter that I seem to be accidentally rocking are pretty hard to resist.
(Incidentally, my actual past adventures with crocodiles during the nearly two months I spent here were no joke. It’s a good story. Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.)
- Teal Earrings: Mall vendor
- White Pashmina: Union Station vendor
- Tweed Sweater: Vintage Ralph Lauren, mommed
- Eye-Searing Orange Top: Olian via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Navy Cords: J.Crew, tailored (narrowly! ba dum, ching!) by yours truly
- Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto via Zappos
- Diaper(!) Bag: Storksak “Emily,” gift from parents, tip from Amy
If you were trying to be polite, you might refer to me as a creature of habit. There are less charitable variants. It’s true: much like my parents, I am the kind of person who craves routine, who finds a thing and sticks with it to—and often past!—the point where a reasonable person would explore other options. Often, at some point, I get sick of it and move on to something else, but I can last a surprisingly long time. It’s true of brands (sometimes), tv shows watched while on various forms of cardio equipment (Buffy, The West Wing), breakfast foods (Greek yogurt and maple syrup), and my non-coffee coffee order (tall sugar-free-vanilla extra-foam chai. Vestiges of my dark past as a barista, about which the less said, the better).
It’s also true of handbags. I realize it’s a big sartorial missed opportunity, but barring an extraordinary occasion, it’s rare that I gather the je ne sais quoi to move my stuff from one bag to another to match what I’m wearing. I suspect part of this is because I tend to carry around way, way, way, WAY too much stuff, with some morning organizational fails thrown in there for good measure. Baby m., for all of her enduring charms, helped with neither of these things.
Before and after baby arrived, we researched a variety of “diaper bag,” “non-diaper-bag-diaper-bag” and “non-diaper-bag-non-diaper-bag” strategies for carrying around m.’s necessities when we’re with her. We needed something that had enough separate pockets for all those baby-related things that somehow go missing, and most importantly, that wouldn’t require us to carry more than one bag (this eliminated the “diaper bag follows the child” approach, despite its gender-neutral appeal, because it seemed to result in me always carrying both a purse and the diaper bag, or discovering the next day that I’d left my wallet and/or cell phone in the diaper bag which was now with my husband or our nanny or my mother-in-law.). In news that shocks no one, all approaches have their shortcomings.
That said . . . when Amy tipped me off about the Storksak “Emily” bag, I heard little tiny cherubs rejoicing. It’s a purse! It’s a diaper bag! It has a plushy, ultralight changing pad in it! It has 8675309 pockets! It can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body! It’s large enough to hold a variety of baby pleasing-and-amusing essentials without being have-to-hang-it-on-the-stroller huge. You can still fit it on your shoulder while wearing the baby! It’s a soothing, non-black neutral! Bliss. Bliss in a diaper bag. Not a phrase I really imagined I’d be uttering . . . and yet.
And of course, true to form, it’s the bag I’ve carried 90% of the time since my parents gifted it to me at the end of last semester. By way of explanation, I’ll kick that one to the inimitable Paula Radcliffe: “I had a baby, not a personality transplant” . . .
- Ubiquitous Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor
- Cream Cardigan: Halogen via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Suede Obi Belt: Garnet Hill, gift from SIL E.
- Black Nursing Cami: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity
- Black Tights: HUE
- Black Boots: Born, gift from husband D.
- Necklace: Gifted
- Earrings: Old Navy
This post could also be called “when you are engulfed in mucous,” or “dressing to impress medical professionals.” Much to our chagrin, baby m. has yet another cold (le sigh…). According to our pediatrician, it’s more theatrically spectacular than medically problematic, but it has still made for several quite long and messy days around here. We’re pulling out all the stops (or as many as you can at this age!), and keeping our fingers crossed that she rallies in the near future.
For a long time, black was the foundation of my closet. Then I bought a pair of brown riding boots, and it was more or less all downhill from there. I started cheating on black with other neutrals. I became less and less discriminating, falling hard and fast for grey, navy, and even off-white and camel. Then I got pregnant, and every list of maternity wardrobe essentials and pregnancy style advice I found urged me to build a wardrobe around slim black pants, black tank tops and drapey sweaters and I just rebelled. It was more than 95 degrees outside for many, many weeks of my pregnancy, and I was having none of this all black nonsense.
But now that Baby M. is thankfully outside of my insides (and much cuter for it), and the weather has cooled down considerably, black and I are beginning to reconcile. I still think black plays best when paired with other neutrals, or with other neutrals and an accent color, and I’m still on something of a break from black suits, and I still have to watch the tendency of too much black with my stark-white complexion to appear slightly vampiric. But with those caveats, black and I are making peace. Black, as it happens, can live up to some extraordinary demands, lending instant sophistication and credibility while having an obliging attitude towards spit-up stains, which, come to think of it . . . is a powerful metaphor for the state I’m in right now, don’t you think?
- Necklace: Gifted
- Earrings: Mall vendor
- Grey Cowl-Neck Tee: Filene’s Basement
- Aubergine Cord Skirt: Thrifted
- Black Belt: Ann Taylor
- Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
- Black Tights: HUE
- Black Boots (finally!): Born “Mallory,” holiday gift from D.
I remember when I was applying to law school (back in the dark ages of the fall of 2008, which is now starting to seem like a really long time ago), D. and I looked at letters inviting me to apply for the Class of 2012, and the date sounded almost futuristic, like some kind of insane fantasy. 2012? That’s when some people think the world is going to end!
And yet, it seems that brave new world has arrived: even though I keep writing checks dated 2011, it is, in fact, January 2012, and my last semester of law school starts in a week. And while I’m not big on new years’ resolutions per se, I’ve definitely got a list on my mind of things I’d like to work on in the coming year:
- Make my last semester of school meaningful. I’m unlikely to ever be in school again, and I want to make it count. Separate and apart from my desire not to have “senioritis” affect my grades and jeopardize 2.5 years of hard work, I don’t believe in doing things halfheartedly, particularly not right now, as my time is so limited on all fronts. I still have some (actually, a lot) of big dreams out there and some things I need to be doing to keep them in the realm of possibility, and it’s worth remembering that. Even without the utilitarian aspects, I want to be intellectually engaged and alive to the moment.
- Get back to running — injury free. I’ve had so many false starts in my running career, but the physical changes associated with pregnancy, childbirth and recovery give me (a) a lot of healing to do and (b) a chance to start fresh. So for 2012, no big races (nothing longer than 10K), no crazy training plans, just safe, measured progress, and a lot of cross-training.
- Go more places with the little one. For a variety of reasons, including a dislike of chaos, I didn’t do a lot of venturing out on the days I was home by myself with Baby m. during the semester. Now that we have a little more help and I’ve picked up the pieces a bit more, I’m hoping I’ll get better at taking her places by myself on my non-working days.
- Go more places… without the little one. True confession: D. and I have only been out together without m. twice since she was born…3.5 months ago. Whether it’s going climbing together or just going to see a movie, it’s something we should do more of.
- Become a radical completionist. As evidence of my distractability, I can’t even begin to narrate what happened from when I sat down to write this and finally finished it. I have a huge to be filed file and a tendency to look at a task, contemplate it and then put it off, whether it’s postal mail, email, blog stuff, cleaning our house, writing, etc. It’s a lousy habit, and one that would restore hours back into my days and weeks if I could kick it.
- Meet my breastfeeding goals, but let them evolve as circumstances require. I didn’t expect that I’d be able to breastfeed, but it’s been a wonderful experience for us in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. It’s also one that’s required some Herculean efforts to make work (about which more later), but which I’m willing to keep doing (in a totally non-judgmental please just do what’s best for your family way!!).
- Honor my physical and emotional well-being…and my desire to get back in shape. This is easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
- Shop sanely and sustainably. I talked a little bit about this in the context of my commitment to thrifting more in the coming year, but there’s more to it than that: thinking critically about wants and needs, making investments that will last, not plunking down cash for things I don’t love and feel fabulous about.
- Be a confident parent and a present partner. Worth it for everyone’s sake. Also some stuff about reducing the amount of clutter in our house — physically and emotionally.
Where do you stand on new years resolutions? What are you most looking forward to in 2012?
I should add a brief post-script about this outfit: I have been looking for these boots for ages (thanks, D.!), and they were worth the wait. I still haven’t gotten over my thing about reds and aubergines. This skirt is an exception to the “never thrift things from Target” rule: the fit is iffy, but it’s a good quality garment that seems like it will last a while. Unlike this shirt, which has a spit-up stain the size of Texas on it that refuses to budge. Le sigh…
- Navy & White Houndstooth Faux-Wrap Dress: Thrifted! (Banana Republic)
- Black Tights: HUE
- Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto via Zappos
- White Nursing Tank: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity
- Necklace: BeadleBop via Etsy
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends, and that your return to work or school (or dawning comprehension of same) wasn’t too brutal this morning! We had a whirlwind week of visiting family members (mostly mine, and an increasingly large group), a drop-in from Emily and Chris, and . . . a long time trying to put the house back together afterwards. But, baby m. got to meet her cousin, my brother’s sweet daughter a. (cue “Our Children” from Ragtime, big love and big sappy tears), and her great grandmother (my mother’s mother), which was both deeply moving and surprisingly hilarious (who knew age and disinhibition could be so correlated?).
I’ll be back later this week with a much-belated 2011 wrap-up and some thoughts on the coming year, as well as a long-awaited redesign. I hope you’ll pardon our dust if you notice any funny business going on while I’m making some changes on the backend, and I’ll do my best to keep downtime to a minimum.
In the meantime . . . this outfit. Although many bloggers I know have outstanding thrift karma, I’ve struggled to get as much mileage as I’d hoped for out of our local thrift stores, even as I’ve had good luck sourcing second-hand items on eBay (see, e.g., most of my maternity wardrobe). I’ve always been frustrated by this, so in 2012, I’ve vowed (okay, vowed is a strong word) to make more of an effort to incorporate the previously loved into my wardrobe as both my body and my style continue to evolve. Happily, my renewed sense of commitment was rewarded with an unexpectedly good haul last week. This dress (which is from the days before vanity sizing at Gap, Inc. brands, which may qualify it as vintage!), two skirts and two pairs of pants found their way into my closet for under $30. I don’t know that I’m making a huge political statement or saving oodles of cash or doing much about the overall amount of clutter in my house. I am, however, reminded that my sartorial needs are not nearly as urgent and specific as the PTB would like me to believe they are, and that my zone of “make it work” moments is larger than I often think it is. And that’s probably a lesson worth learning, whether or not I’m taking a stand on any kind of broader agenda. So, here’s to what I hope will be a year of great thrifting, and to less time spent sucked down the rabbit hole of online shopping. (Except maybe during 4 a.m. feedings. Cut me a little slack, right?)
What are your best thrift tips, or your favorite haunts? What motivates you to thrift?
- Tweed Sweater: Vintage Ralph Lauren, mommed
- Heathered Tee: Liz Lange for Target
- Jeans: Old Navy
- Black Croc Wedges: Stuart Weitzman via Bloomingdale’s
- Red Belt: Forever 21
- Necklace: BeadleBop via Etsy.com
- Earrings: Mall vendor
My mom kind of hates this outfit, and she can’t believe I’ve belted her sweater. Sorry, mom. Win some, lose some.
I, on the other hand, kind of loved it. It fit the bill for the first of two blissful, largely-responsibility free days at home with baby m. after I finished my exams last week. I’m a serious skirts and dresses girl for work and school, but on my home-with-baby days, I’m falling back in love with pants: it really is just easier. Other things I love? That this tee is stretchy enough that it’s simple to nurse in without complicated layering gymnastics (and yup, it’s maternity…I’ve got one more day, right?). For purely practical reasons (and sometimes, form has to follow function), it’s hard to beat a sweater that layers well under a waterproof jacket for a rainy day.
…All of which was a really long way of saying, I got to be home (and just at home!) for the first time in ages! And I wore jeans and a tee-shirt! But really, it’s an illustration of a broader kind of boundary-blurring that I’ve been struggling with all term, and am hoping to get a handle on before classes resume in mid-January. While I occasionally fancy myself a high-quality binary deconstructor (though sadly, never as cool as this binary-smashing superhero, who I am apparently the last person on
EarthTwitter to discover), I’m in serious need of some brighter lines between my work life and my home life. And I’m working on ways to get them, both inside and outside my head. I don’t need stone walls, nor am I likely (particularly after having a child, which is a whole other kind of boundary-blurring experience) to have a life totally devoid of the liminal. But I’d like to get to a place where, when someone asks if I’m “home” today, I can just say, “yes,” and not “yes, but I have to …”, both because that’s actually the answer and because it’s one I feel at peace with giving. The first is a time management issue, the second raises broader questions.
But hey! Look at my jeans and tee-shirt! “Home” need not mean unconscious, sartorially or otherwise. Fellow work-at-home types (or work-that-you-occasionally-take-home types): what are your best time managing, balance inducing, head-clearing strategies?
Just in time for the weekend, a quick special feature from a very, very special guest blogger….
On baby m.:
- Dress: Baby Boden, gift from S2. and K.
- “Loose Tights”: Hanna Andersson
Baby m. wanted to show you her Thanksgiving dress, which was a very thoughtful gift from my mom’s very stylish friends. For the most part, m.’s remixing skills are being drastically underutilized combining onesies, footies and various warm outer-layers (often with ears!), so we couldn’t resist getting dressed up for such a special occasion. Thankfully, she couldn’t resist cracking a big, toothless grin at her daddy, either, while he snapped this series of photos in celebration of the holiday and her two-month birthday. We’re planning a weekend of studying and snuggling as the semester hurtles towards its dramatic conclusion on Wednesday, but we’re looking forward to more restful days soon. Have a wonderful weekend, friends, and to our academically inclined readers, best of luck whether you’re marking papers or completing them!
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