- Sources of Inspiration
- The Fine Print
- And Whatnot
- 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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- 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” . . .
- Navy Maxi Dress: Liz Lange for Target
- Mottled Military Detail Sweater: Vintage Ralph Lauren, mommed
- Silver Necklace: gifted
- Teal Earrings: mall vendor
- Red Pumps: UO
I’m hoping that by the time you read this, my sweet SIL E. will have welcomed her son into the world! We can’t wait for baby m. to meet her newest cousin (my oldest brother’s daughter is 11 months older than m.), and are hoping we’ll wake up to wonderful news to kick off our Thanksgiving holiday (though we’ve been waiting with bated breath for updates, the time difference and the sleep constraints of life with a newborn likely mean we won’t be able to stay up all night waiting for the grand finale).
I don’t know quite why I feel so much like I should be frolicking among the lilies of the field in these photos (even though that’s a pretty far cry from life as I know it, with the end of term hurtling towards us and an increasingly-vocal two month old to attend to), but I just do. I think it’s that maxi dresses worn in the fall just screams, “I could go frolic, or maybe I’ll just wander around Brooklyn running errands on an effortlessly casual schedule.” (See, e.g.). But frolic or no, this is what I wore on a day at home with a sniffly baby m., intermixing snuggling and homework and attempting to use a bulb syringe without infuriating said congested infant.
This maxi dress was a workhorse at the end of my pregnancy, in the suffocating late summer heat, and even though it says “maternity” on the tag, I’ve been getting a kick out of remixing it post-pregnancy as the temps finally cool down. Not only is it a fun, on trend shape that I can actually wear in my state of bodily limbo, it’s emblematic of an interesting by-product of my postpartum, well, dearth of pants: I’ve found myself wearing skirts and dresses more on casual days than I ordinarily would. It still won’t work for going to the park, but for studying and playing with baby, a maxi provides a combination of comfort, modesty and laid-back ease that I wouldn’t necessarily have expected. And the counterintuitively figure-forgiving fit? An added bonus. I’ve glammed up this combination with red heels (that, wow, call attention to my pasty white skin), but flats or loafers would have worked for an even more casual (and easier to walk in) version.
While I love this look for a low-key day at home, or even an evening out, I’m less sure about the viability of the maxi in the workplace. What do you think? Long skirts or dresses at work: yay or nay?
- Peach-Orange Top: Japanese Weekend via eBay
- Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
- Skinnies: Gap Maternity
- Brown Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer via DSW
- Earrings: Mall Vendor
And with that, friends, our experiment comes to a close. There’s not a ton to say about this look, which was perfect for a day I spent at home with baby m. and not getting nearly enough work done, save that it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for my oh-my-goodness-totally-desperate need to do the laundry. How is that, you ask? Well, if I hadn’t needed to wash them, I would have worn my boot-cut jeans, and then this top would have been too long and so on and so forth and I never would have found myself, at 5:00 p.m., taking photos in the fading afternoon light while waiting for m. to wake up from her nap. Which goes to show that Amy is so right: there’s almost always a way to turn “clothes” into an “outfit,” and it’s probably worth trying, even if you aren’t really planning on leaving the house (and perhaps especially if you aren’t planning on leaving the house because you’re spending it at home with an infant!). And really, it was worth it: I felt better, and I managed to salvage a crazy morning into a productive afternoon and evening. In an ideal world, I’d have worn this combination (which is my favorite analogous pairing) with a gray or navy pencil skirt and brown heels or boots, but this more casual version worked well for the day I was, you know, actually having.
As an aside, baby m. is 8 weeks old today. How did that even happen?
Have a wonderful weekend, friends, and safe travels to everyone heading out early for the holiday!
- Breton-Striped Raglan: Old Navy
- Nursing Tank: Bravado Designs via Figure8Maternity.com
- Necklace: Gifted
- Earrings: Old Navy $7 bin
- Boot-cut Jeans: Old Navy “Flirt”
- Those Red Heels Everyone Has: Urban Outfitters
Remember when I threw myself a pity party about my lack of pants? I decided to put on my big girl panties, take a deep breath and spend a (reasonable) amount of money on a few key pieces that, while I don’t “need” in some per se sense, will make me feel more like myself in my stretched out skin and embrace the body I have now, with all the honestly-still-a-pretty-big-deal things it’s doing.
…which is really all a fancy way of saying, I did it: I bought mom jeans. But this deep, dark, very-reasonably-priced pair from Old Navy is actually decidedly un-mommish, and has the very-slight-bootcut and mid rise I so dearly missed about my pre-pregnancy jeans. And I’ll admit it: they’re flattering, comfortable, and while I still could in all honesty probably care less what number is on the tag, I’m much happier with this state of affairs than I was wandering around pantsless and contemplating just how many months I was going to spend restricted to elastic waistbands and jersey dresses. They’re pants that fit the body and the life I have now, equally functional for long days of trying to study during baby m.’s naps, long walks in the park, and the eventual out-of-the-house date night we promise we’ll have sometime soon.
This top is also new, from the same Old Navy trip, and I love its slouchy chicness and easy, practical shape (nursing access is an up-or-down possibility, depending on how rough I feel like being on the neckline and how much I’m willing to risk baby m. deciding to share her breakfast with me….). Overall, the look is one I probably wouldn’t have worn pre-pregnancy, when I loathed the idea of surrendering my waistline and wearing something so un-fitted up top. But maybe that’s just another positive thing about this strange journey my body has been on for the last year: even now, as I’m trying to figure out how to live with and dress my post-pregnant self, the project of learning to dress — and feel good about — an unfamiliar body is pushing me to experiment sartorially in ways I wouldn’t have though to do.
But really, let’s be honest: when you’re wearing three-inch-heeled red pumps with a round toe, that you can actually walk in, how bad could things possibly be?
- Pre-pregnancy Bootcut Jeans: Kut from the Kloth via Nordstrom
- Scarf: Target
- Rust Slub-Knit Tee: Gap Maternity
- Metallic Loafers: Naturalizer via DSW
- BeBand: BeMaternity (Ingrid & Isabel) via Target
- Brown Die-cut Flats: Lifestride via Zappos.com
- Silver Necklace: gifted
- Orange Draped Top: Olian Maternity
Baby m. needed some extra snuggles, so she decided to join us for these photos. We hope you don’t mind. Incidentally, she turned one month old this weekend. When did THAT happen?
Oh, man. If I had a kingdom, I’d trade it for some clothes with a regular waistband. You know, one with a proper closure. Seriously.
I’m almost-but-not-quite able to wear my pre-pregnancy pants and skirts, including these beloved bootcut jeans. So close, but yet so far: while they button, there’s an unacceptable risk of muffinage. A rubber band and my BeBand make them wearable for low key around-the-house days, but in my non-pregnant state, it seems to take away some of their essential je ne sais quoi as, well, jeans. On the other end of the spectrum, most of my early-stage maternity pants are too large to stay up, which isn’t very practical for someone who spends much of her day on the floor.
So what’s a recently-pregnant gal to do? I’m normally the champion of the theory of buy clothes for the body you have now, but there are limits on that theory: while I’ve (admittedly) stalled out a bit in my post-partum weight loss, I’m determined to get back into shape, and I’d rather not spend a fortune on clothes that I’m hoping won’t fit in [insert appropriate time period here]. Dresses and jersey skirts work well for class and for some of my at-home days, but it turns out, I haven’t yet figured out a way to get by entirely without pants for the truly casual moments I’ve been relishing this fall, including taking baby m. on her first hiking trips to the park.
This is, of course, both a practical problem and a psychological one, requiring some sartorial creativity and some emotional discipline on my part. But help me out, dear readers: how do you dress when your physical form is in a state of flux, whatever the cause? How do you honor both the body and the budget you have today?
Incidentally, I’m taking some of Amy of BiblioMOMia’s great advice on fall trends and the postpartum body from her guest post in these outfits — be sure to take a look at the full list!
Hi Narrowly Tailored readers! Angeline from The New Professional here. While S. is resting peacefully with the bean (one can hope), she asked several bloggers to sound off on variations of a theme: adaptation.
Adaptation in professional dress can be prompted by a number of factors: job change (to a different position or a different company), office management turnover or major career change, such as a lay-off or resignation. If you’re staying in the same industry, your workwear may not change much from workplace to workplace, but leaving the office environment entirely? What do we do with that?
Let’s take into account why we dress professionally in the first place: it’s often required to some extent by our employer and we want to be taken seriously by our colleagues. For freelancers and entrepreneurs, the need to look professional extends beyond our home office or coffee shop spot—every interaction is a potential opportunity for networking and business development. That doesn’t mean you should be wearing your suits to Starbucks, but rather finding a professional-casual balance that works for you.
Your exact formula and preferences will vary based on your own style and the demands of the new work you’ve chosen, but here are some tips to get you started to looking polished and professional and grow your freelance career or business.
Do your research. You’ve probably done a bit of reconnaissance into your new field. What do others in your field wear? Are there any physical requirements that you should take into account (will you be on your feet much, getting your clothes dirty, etc.)? The worst outfit is always the one that is inappropriate for the situation, whether it’s overdone or underdone.
Mix and match. From my observation, freelancers tend to strike a balance between work and casual wear, since their days usually involve some business interaction and some working alone. Plus, with the elimination of a regular salary, you don’t want to be spending money you haven’t yet earned on new clothes. Not all business and casual wear will be able to make the transition, but you’ll be surprised at how much of it can.
- Dressing down business wear: Split up your suit sets and pair each separate with a more casual piece. Blazers with a dress, for example, or pencil skirts with a tee. Roll up your shirtsleeves and leave an extra button open over a cami or tee. Soften a trouser-based look with an embellished cardigan and open-toed shoes.
- Dressing up casual garb: Add polished accessories, shoes, and toppers (blazers, cardigans, jackets) to instantly dress up a casual look. Fit is key here…clothes should be flattering and fit your body well.
Be confident. This goes for any kind of dress code or outfit, but is even more important as a freelancer. Your work is your calling card, not your ability to follow an HR policy. Above all, how you dress be empowering to you. Your confidence in yourself will inspire potential clients to place their confidence in you.
Know your audience. While business wear could get you from 8-5, M-F in the office world, you have much more of an ability to adapt to your customer or client in freelance work. Don’t be afraid to bust out a suit if you’re headed to a corporate client or bring out some boots for a farm visit.
Continue adapting. Just as in a traditional office-based career, freelancers and entrepreneurs grow and advance in their careers. Don’t be afraid to tweak things when your business starts booming or when your clientele becomes more high-brow.
How do you strike a balance between casual and professional wear? What pieces do you find to be the most versatile? Do you have any other advice for first-time freelancers or entrepreneurs?
I’m hoping you’re reading this *after* our daughter has arrived (or at least after I’ve gone into labor)! Even though I’m hoping that by this point, I’m no longer exclusively donning maternity duds, some of my last pregnancy outfits were among my favorites, and I wanted to share a few of them with you over the course of these next few weeks. I’m also looking forward to featuring some of my very favorite bloggers while I take a little mini-break to bond with our little one, so keep your eyes peeled for some features from some of these inspired ladies over the next few weeks!
- Navy Maxi Dress: Liz Lange for Target
- Yellow and White Striped Oxford: J. Crew
- Silver Necklace: Gifted
- Red Earrings: Target
- Brown Die-Cut Flats: Lifestride via Zappos.com
I was skeptical about the knotted-oxford-shirt concept, but buoyed by your sweet comments the last time I tried it, I gave it one more go, putting together yet another “hybrid” look, that’s a combination of these two outfits:
I wore this on a casual Friday of working from home, and having lunch with D. and his colleagues. This maxi dress has become one of the most indispensable of my maternity wardrobe items, and one I could even see continuing to wear post-pregnancy. For the most part, though, it’s been too warm to even think about wearing anything but a light scarf over it, so I’ve relished the opportunity the cooler weather has brought to experiment with using it as an under layer. I love how the bold jewel tone pairs well with both lighter neutrals and with bright accents in my closet, and the way the relaxed shape is easy to wear while still feeling “dressed up” when I need it to.
I’m curious, though: is the maxi dress a spring/summer only item, or can it work for fall? When you layer over one, how do you keep the proportions from feeling too hippie dippie?
- Dolman-Sleeved Wrap Cardigan: Forever 21
- Heather-Gray Tee: Liz Lange for Target
- Denim Bermudas: LOFT Maternity
- Blue Necklace: street vendor in Cozumel
- Brown Peep-Toes: Naturalizer via amazon.com
This outfit is a variant of one I had on the outfit list I made last week, but it took longer than I expected to translate the idea on the page into something I actually wanted to wear. But though I was tempted to give up part way through and lounge around in something less presentable (taking advantage of my relatively luxurious 3-days-of-class-a-week schedule), I’m glad I didn’t, as this ended up being one of my favorite late-pregnancy outfits. Like many outfits in that category, it consists mostly in elements I wouldn’t have worn (or more accurately, hadn’t worn or thought seriously about wearing) pre-pregnancy. For example: shorts and heels, short-sleeved sweaters over a short-sleeved tee-shirt, sweaters in the summer time as an element, rather than a device for necessary warmth. Ideally, I’d take more credit for these so-called innovations, for having really decided ahead of time that yes, these were the perfect kinds of things to wear at one million weeks pregnant, but realistically, I can’t: as intentional as it sounds, it was mostly the byproduct of standing, slightly distraught, in front of my closet and trying more and more things on until I found something I didn’t hate. But hey, who says necessity can’t be the mother of invention?
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