- Sources of Inspiration
- The Fine Print
- And Whatnot
- Black Jersey Dress: Ann Taylor, endlessly remixed
- Tweed Asymmetric Blazer: Ralph Lauren, mommed
- Black Tights: HUE
- Black Boots: Born, gift from husband D.
- Warm enough weather to go without a coat in January: ??
After having gone on at some length last week, I’ll keep this post, which is yet another chapter in great saga of “what do you wear when a suit would be overkill,” brief. I went to lunch last week (at the home of the holy grail of oatmeal-raisin cookies*) with the judge I’m clerking for next year (perhaps the one person whose name will never, ever appear on this blog), the current clerks and one of my future co-clerks. It was a mostly social gathering; we talked holidays with small children and revisions on my note and fiction reading that I’ve mostly done between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m. But, social gatherings with employers are still gatherings with employers, which merit dressing a bit more thoughtfully than I would have for an ordinary day at school.
Because it was a predominantly social gathering, and with people who knew I was coming from school, a suit would have been overkill — at least a little bit. Here, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to be slightly less formal to wear boots, which I wouldn’t do in an extremely conservative office but which take the outfit to a slightly more fun, original spot. This much-loved blazer has become a go-to for occasions like this during the colder months. In the right weather, it can be worn without an overcoat; its inventive shape adds instant visual interest and punch to an outfit that still sends a message that I understand the requisite level of formality. Worn with a dress, the slightly shorter length helps balance out my long torso, all while defining a waist without looking sexualized. But what I love most about it is much more subtle: the way it makes me feel like me. I’ve never quite been able to pin down why, but this blazer is one of those items that makes me feel like my most powerful, confident, inspired self. Maybe because it was one of the first things I owned for work that wasn’t the same black suit from Banana Republic or J.Crew that every girl on the Hill has, or maybe because the fit was so unexpectedly perfect, but it’s remained a signature business piece for many years as a result, and represents a kind of lodestar in my work wardrobe for my personal breed of power dressing. It’s another great example of how our clothes become imbued with our own lived-in history, the way they take on meanings far beyond the surface image they present to others.
Do you have a favorite item lurking in your closet somewhere, one you consistently compare new purchases and ideas to? What makes it so special to you? Its shape? Its color? Its history? Where’d you get it?
*Local residents get five points for identifying said location.
Happy New Year, friends! I’ve been off enjoying a little mini stay-cation with my extended family, but even though the gates have closed on 2011, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a quick recap of my favorite looks from what has been, by all accounts, a totally fabulous year. This list isn’t perfectly temporally balanced, since there were some serious sartorial doldrums in there, but here we go:
January: School starts again! I find out I’m pregnant (at what feels like long last, but really wasn’t). I am told to wear a suit to speak on a panel and don’t feel like it, beginning an extended search for creative and pregnancy-accommodating suit alternatives. After a few blissful days of not being so, I’m so sick and dizzy that I have a nearly out-of-body experience during said panel, but thankfully no one notices. I go to Colorado to help my SIL E. revamp her work wardrobe.
February and March: I go through a phase of not straightening my hair, get elected Editor-in-Chief of my law journal, and complete another 30-for-30 (while only cheating a little bit to account for an emergency lack-of-pants). After a few scary first-trimester moments, a switch to a new OB, and a lot of being really, really sick, we finally tell people I’m pregnant.
April: I go to New Jersey for a moot court competition and it snows (snows! And I have to go back this year!). I speak on lots of panels during which everyone else is wearing black, white and grey. My mum takes pity on my dwindling closet and gifts a number of maternity and non-maternity items my way, starting a long dialogue on dressing the pregnant body in the workplace. I swoon (and agree!) when Sal dubs this “the prettiest maternity dress ever.”
May: I sit my exams and start the first of two summer associate gigs. I attempt to navigate the tricky waters of being pregnant as a summer associate, in a large-firm, large-summer-class, mixed-age environment. I develop an obsession with closely analogous warm-color pairings, even at work, that lasts most of the year. At 20 weeks pregnant, I finally have to give up running and climbing, but I’m able to stay active throughout the rest of my pregnancy. We take a hypnobirthing class from this fabulous woman, and I feel the baby move for the first time.
June: I finally finish last semester’s papers (thank you(?) usual and customary extension). I get to work on a class action defense and do some amazing pro-bono work before wrapping up job #1, and getting ready to start job #2. I participate in Dress Your Best Week, finding things to celebrate about my increasingly-foreign body as the mercury frequently tops 95 degrees, breaking records and (occasionally) my resolve to be well-behaved about being pregnant in the summer. I reach a state of zen-like acceptance about empire waists, fall in big love with a funky white blazer and can’t stop wearing a pair of nude wedge heels. Grades are released and the “let’s panic about clerkships” season begins in earnest.
July: It’s still hot! I wrap up the working part of my summer at job #2, but not before finishing some wild research involving the jurisdiction of tribal courts (seriously). Three days before I’m supposed to finish working, at 32.5 weeks pregnant, I get in a car accident coming home from work and D., mom and I spend a long night watching a fetal monitor in L&D. Thankfully, everything’s fine, beginning a long series of calamitous events (including, to wit, an earthquake, a hurricane, a flood and multiple 24+ hour power outages in 90 degree weather) that fail to shake baby m. loose from her cozy uterine hiding place. I start making lists of everything that needs to be done before the baby is born, and kind of freak out a little.
August: We take an impulsive, last-minute trip to North Carolina for A2. and A3.’s wedding, relishing the opportunity to celebrate with friends and family. On the way back, we spend the night at an inn in Durham that seems like it might be a cross between Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Psycho. I turn 27, wearing a dress also worn by Emily Deschanel on the Bones set (squeee!). We celebrate hitting the 36 week mark by walking 7 miles, and I feel like a superhero. Despite hopes of an August 1 move date, D.’s start-up is still based in our house, meaning I get to be 8217432987 years pregnant . . . with an audience!
September: We wait. And wait. I celebrate my last first day of school, to the hilarious tune of people who didn’t realize I was pregnant last spring audibly gasping when I walk into meetings. I finally find some pants. The baby locks and loads herself into my pelvis such that I can’t sit or lie down comfortably, and then stays put. I go to doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment where my OB swears I’m having the baby this week, but despite some significant progress, “active labor” never materializes. Less than 100 hours before my due date, I interview for a Very Important Appellate Clerkship, and (admittedly) fall slightly to pieces about not getting it (it’s okay. Journey, destination, etc.). As my due date comes and goes sans baby, I try to find some humor in wearing my first-trimester skinny jeans. And even though at the time, I swore I didn’t really look that big, did I? I . . . did. Finally, after 4.5 weeks of prodromal labor and more than 40 weeks of pregnancy, I sigh with relief (and some trepidation) when my OB says it’s time to induce, and baby m. enters the world on September 23, 2011. After a week, we leave the house as a family, with a whole new set of challenges. D.’s start-up gets some office new office space, leaving us alone in our house for the first time in more than a year.
October: Two weeks after M. is born, I go back to school, where one of my classmates hilariously asks where I’ve been the past two weeks. My mother-in-law watches M. while I’m in school, and we struggle to figure out nursing, pumping, and sleeping in a way that produces maximum family sanity. I get the baby blues but don’t have time to think about it (not a strategy I recommend). I meet some great mom friends, online and off. I’m tired.
November: I’m still tired, but it gets better. I cave and buy myself some mom jeans, and feel much better for it. I start belting again, and discover the miracle of a boxy sweater-jacket. I test the limits of winterizing summer favorites and extending maternity wear into my post-maternity life. The idea of the end of the semester starts to wear on me. M. starts to smile for real, and we celebrate the best Thanksgiving ever, visiting with family and welcoming yet another baby cousin. I finally start to feel a little better, until I mess up my back over the holiday weekend (which turns out to be not a huge deal, thankfully). M. starts a nanny share with another family, and we breathe a sigh of relief as the arrangement seems to work out. Finally, after eight weeks, breastfeeding starts to seem manageable, and I’m glad we stuck it out.
December: The semester finally hurtles to a conclusion. I spend a week at home alone with M. while D. is on a business trip the first week of finals. We breathe a huge sigh of relief when the semester ends, in a bit of a state of disbelief that the stars have aligned for us to get through it in one piece. I spend a few days at home with nothing on my to-do list. I meet up with Amy, Tania and M. of An Epic Battle in High Heels. We celebrate the holidays with family and a napless but beloved infant. Before we can believe it, it’s 2012, a year that seemed like it might never come.
- 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?
- Magenta Dress: Olian via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Tweed Cropped Jacket: Tracy Reese via Nordstrom’s (2004)
- White Nursing Tank: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity
- Black Tights: HUE
- Black Booties: Franco Sarto “Artist’s Collection” via Nordstrom’s
It’s been a long and occasionally alarming semester, but it’s finally over! I wore this outfit last Wednesday, when I sat my last exam and then sat down for a celebratory coffee with M. of An Epic Battle in High Heels (and then sat down . . . to stop doing work . . . for at least 48 hours). I’m a big fan of “dressing up” for big academic and professional moments, whether that means tweaking a proven formula, trying out a much-anticipated new arrival, or letting necessity be the mother of invention. And on a day that marked a pretty major milestone, I couldn’t resist wearing an outfit that reminded me (and every non-colorblind person in the general vicinity) that I’m no shrinking violet, even when I’ve got, you know, kind of a lot going on.
This outfit is a mix of (very) old and new: I’ve had this cropped jacket for ages, the booties are brand new, and this dress is, well, yet another maternity dress that I’m still wearing (!). A pairing of two unexpected workhorses and a hoped-for new staple. And, slightly sadly, a sign that I’d need a new teasing rebuke for strangers who questioned the timing of M.’s arrival (because sometimes the appropriate response to rudeness is humor). While I used to claim that I’d never had so much as an unplanned pair of shoes, behold the pair that brought me down. What can I say? Apparently the sight of these in the half-yearly sale overcame my typically arduous decision-making process (and yes, I’ll spare you the in-retrospect-totally-inappropriate further extension of the metaphor, for both our sakes).
In all seriousness, though, it’s hard to overstate how emotional I felt about reaching the finish line of this term. However silly it may have been to feel that way, I shed more than a few tears of joy and relief when all was said and done. However much this was exactly what we had in mind, the number of stars that needed to align in situations in which we were largely out of control (and some in which we were in control, to be fair) was staggering. I can’t help but feel thankful and, indeed, a little bit proud and perhaps defiant that it all worked out in the end. When we said shehechyanu at our family’s rescheduled Chanukkah (faux-nukkah?) celebration on Saturday, I couldn’t have meant it more.
Many, many thanks are also due to you lovely folks, who have inspired me, cheered me on (and up!), shared parenting wisdom (and humor!) and counseled patience via Twitter during 4 a.m. feedings. You’re overwhelmingly fabulous. Really.
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!
- Draped Cardigan: vince via Nordstrom’s, gift from mom
- Red Tank: Liz Lange for Target
- Boot Cut Jeans: Old Navy
- Red Heels: UO
- Necklace: BeadleBop via etsy
- Teal Earrings: mall vendor
Those of you who follow me on twitter know that it was not exactly a banner weekend around here. But though our Saturday had a less than ideal start, it had an unexpectedly lovely finish: with both baby m. and husband D. on the mend from their respective (and very minor) colds, we were able to take advantage of my parents’ generous offer to babysit and actually go on a (gasp!) date for the first time since m. was born two months ago. We had a delightful dinner at a casual brasserie near us, and while we were only gone for two hours and fifteen minutes (during which m. was sound asleep and my parents were watching the unexpected football resurgence of my alma mater on tv), it was wonderful to be able to indulge in some of those things that have been absent from our lives for a while: unpasteurized cheese, sparking wine, and uninterrupted adult conversation.
I had grander plans for what I was going to wear for this vaunted occasion, including this gorgeous blazer (a pregnancy gift from mom) that I can’t seem to wear without looking like Freddy Mercury, but I ended up wearing an outfit that felt like a dressed-up snuggie. I’d never tried to wear this cardigan with non-skinny jeans before, but I love the way it looks with this boot-cut pair and heels. And what do you know: yet another analogous color pairing, this time of bright red and red-orange (with a pinky-peach necklace thrown in for good measure). Was it the apotheosis of date night outfits? Of course not, nor was it the most glamorous, feminine thing I’ve worn since m.’s birth. But it was appropriate for the occasion and helped me mentally refocus for a relaxing, rejuvenating evening after what had been a very, very long day, which earns it at least an A- in my book!
Long cardigans with pants? Yay or nay? What do you wear when you want to feel glammed up and comfortable at the same time?
- Grey Ruched Cowl-Neck Dress: Gap Maternity
- Navy Pinstripe Blazer: Calvin Klein via Filene’s
- Black Not-so-Flats: Bandolino via ShoeWoo!
- Pearls: Mommed
The last few weeks of my pregnancy were, to say the least, eventful, as I raced to get ahead on my reading, complete a variety of law journal administrative tasks, get our house ready, and, oh, you know, prepare for our lives to be totally shaken up by our daughter’s arrival (along with a healthy dose of trying to coax her into arriving a little bit sooner, which obviously failed miserably!). In addition, I was going through the final stages of the hiring process for federal judicial clerkships for the year(s) following graduation, a process which would have been high intensity (and a little byzantine) even if I hadn’t been racing neck and neck between the official nationwide interview schedule and what seemed to be the Bean’s impending arrival.
This is, of course, not the most complicated or stressful or magical thing a woman has done in the last few days and weeks before giving birth; much as I might like to think it, I am not, in fact, a beautiful and unique snowflake. But, special or not, I trundled my way down to the courthouse, 279 days pregnant, to meet with a Very Important Judge and his current clerks and try to do some amount of credit to my past achievements and future promise. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up getting this particular job, but I was pretty excited about all the things that had to happen over the last two years to make my being considered for it a meaningful possibility.
So what do you wear to a job interview at more than nine months pregnant? Having tried so hard to avoid buying and wearing a maternity suit, I wasn’t about to start now (and certainly not for two hours of my life), so for this and a few other similar interviews, I used the dress+blazer strategy, sticking predominantly with neutrals and trying to emulate the “interview suit” look as best I could. Under ordinary fake-a-suit circumstances, I’d be trying to avoid wearing a suit for the purpose of wearing something a little bit more “out there,” but here, the goal was to blend in as much as possible, particularly since the other candidates I expected to run into and be compared to in the process were . . . well, not similarly situated! This actually is the blazer from my “interview suit,” and I love the way it brings out the blues in this blue-grey dress, and the way the proportions work on my very-pregnant form. Had I known how warm it was going to be in the courthouse, I might have gone with a black dress in a slightly thicker fabric (like this one), but hindsight is 20/20. I thought about heels, but decided to go with flats: sometimes, you need your clothes to get out of your way, and with everything else I had to worry about, I didn’t want falling over to be one of them!
Have you ever interviewed for a job in . . . unusual circumstances? If you had the option to avoid an “interview suit,” what would you wear to a job interview?
Hi friends! Just popping in to joyfully announce the arrival of Baby M., who made a safe and thrilling entrance into the world at 7:39 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 23. She delighted her adoring parents and grandparents by staying awake and alert for quite a while Friday night, and continues to amaze everyone with fascinating new tricks like figuring out the whole eating thing, being swaddled by her daddy, and getting the hiccups. D. and I are thrilled and overwhelmed with joy and love for this beautiful new life, and can’t wait to bring her home tomorrow. Many thanks to all of you for your kind wishes and words of support in the last weeks and months; we feel truly blessed to have so many near and far to share the moment with us.
S., D. and m.!
Tagged with: Special Occasions
- White Draped Tuxedo Top: Joie via Nordstrom, gift from Mom
- White Tank: Gap Maternity
- Navy Abstract Floral Skirt: induetime via eBay
- Suede Wedge Sandals: Earthies via Zappos.com
- Silver Necklace: Gifted
After the rain and flooding finally abated on Friday, D. and I went to dinner with Emily and her boyfriend Chris, and in her honor, I tried out the sock bun for the first time. My hair isn’t quite long enough to be put up on a regular basis, but on such a ridiculously humid day (seriously, I can only describe the outside air as “dripping”), it seemed worth a try. Plus, I heard a rumor that straightening my hair just might not be something I have a lot of time for in the near-ish future, so figuring out something to do with my growing-out hair that keeps it out of the way of grabby little hands seems advisable.
I’m not 100% on continuing to wear this top, which is now doing nothing to downplay my upper half. All the same, I’m intrigued by it’s relative ease, and deeply appreciative of the way it’s traveled with me from “really, you’re pregnant?” to “OMG! YOU’RE REALLY PREGNANT!” (note the obvious lack of side view in the latter case). The look as a whole teeters dangerously on the edge of hippie drapey earth goddess whatever, but I loved how it still made use of things that felt like real clothes: woven fabrics, texture, pleating, a pencil skirt, heels, jewelry. And true to form, this is yet another way I’m proving my mum’s advice right. When she gave me this top a few months ago, I think her exact words were, “see, this is the kind of thing you could wear, even really pregnant, and feel dressed up.” And sure enough, she was right. Again. I really hate it when that happens.
As an aside, many thanks to everyone who checked in on us after our long string of bizarre weather events in the past few weeks. Despite the earthquake, hurricane and extensive flooding, we appear to have emerged with only a small amount of water in the basement and a slightly-enlarged crack in the garage floor. We are, however, bracing for the possibility of a mid-week snowstorm (despite the 80+-and-sunny weather), if only because it seems like the next logical shoe to drop!
- Abstract Floral-Print Dress: Gap Maternity
- Turquoise Cardigan: Caslon via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
- Necklace: Gifted
- Brown Die-cut Flats: Lifestride via Zappos
While most of my time at school is spent, well, going to class, the other part of my “day job” is as editor-in-chief of one of our school’s many law journals. Occasionally, this is a job that obliges me to speak in front of large groups of people, like at our new staff orientation, an annual ritual involving overwhelming the new 2Ls with information of occasionally debatable utility about their responsibilities for the coming year. Because, as a good law student, I’ve never met a checklist, flowchart or decision tree I couldn’t come to love, my process of trying to figure out what to wear consisted of a series of (increasingly hilarious) if-then balancing statements. If I must stand on my feet for almost two hours . . . then I must wear flats. If I must wear flats . . . then I must wear a skirt because I don’t fit into any of my pants that were hemmed for flats anymore. If I want it to be totally unambiguous that I’m, in fact, extremely pregnant, but I don’t want thirty people to be staring at my belly button the entire time, while looking appropriately authoritative and not too hopelessly uptight, then I must wear . . . a (woven) floral print dress and a brightly colored cardigan? Okay, so maybe there was a significant logic leap on that last one, but I think it mostly worked: I stayed on my feet without too much difficulty, and my clothes made me feel confident without being in my way.
What didn’t require a significant logic leap was realizing that this would likely be one of those events that functions as a kind of focusing prism for all the weird ways that the embodied experience of being a 3L and an authority figure in some respects and nine months pregnant all at the same time sometimes forces that discussion. See, e.g., the otherwise really sweet new member of ours who asked me, with a completely straight face, “are you married? Was that planned?” a question my dear friend C2 suggested would only be appropriate to ask one’s own teenage daughter. And while I knew, I suppose, to expect it, it has been the aspect of the being-pregnant-in-law-school experience for which I was least prepared and by which I am continually disarmed. This is obviously a problem for which a mere sartorial solution won’t quite cut it, but I’ve been thinking about it more as I get dressed for school these days, as I ponder all the messages that my decidedly-non-neutral body sends to the people around me, whether I intend to send them or not. The odds of my finding the perfect answer in the next (hopefully few!) days and weeks seem slim, but it’s worth thinking and talking about.
Regardless of what circumstances motivated you to do so, have you ever thought about dressing as a kind of armor in this sense, about dressing to deter certain perceptions or cut off certain lines of inquiry? If you have, did this kind of defiant dressing have the effect you anticipated?
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