Thursday, January 31, 2013

Turquoise and Purple

This outfit is so boring.  Yawn.  I need to accessorize or SOMETHING.  But I just never know where to start!  Would a long necklace look weird?

These pants always make me smile.  The day I bought them, it was as if some other woman who wears an 8L had tried on a bunch of stuff and then stuck it back on the end of the sale rack.  It was a treasure trove of stuff in my size!  These pants were $11 and I have gotten my money's worth many times over.

Cardigan - JCrew Jackie in retro jade
Button-down - The Limited
Pants - The Limited
Booties - Born

An Open Letter to Every Woman on House Hunters

See that?  That's 23'' of closet space.  I measured.  The other 23'' belongs to my husband (who takes up more overall closet space than me, by the way).   When you complain that your 3 walk-in closets aren't enough, I cringe.  When you think you're the first woman in the universe to joke "oh, this closet is only big enough for ME and ALL MY THINGS LOL!!" while your poor spouse gets stuck with the closet leftovers in the guest bedroom, I cringe even more.  Don't even get me started on you and your precious granite counter tops (which are hideous, by the way).  You are annoying.  The end.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Heat Wave

Oh couch, you're so funny.

When 32 degrees feels akin to a summer heat wave, you know you are in the depths of winter.  On the flip side, the days are getting a little longer and it is nearly February - always the winter 'upswing' to me.

Skirt - JCRew Number 2 in Super 120s, Poppy Grove
Blouse - Elie Tahari for Nordstrom via Nordstrom Rack
Cardigan - JCrew Jackie Cardigan in Black
Tights - Off-brand from Duane Reade
Shoes - Dana Davis

Sunday, January 27, 2013

JCrew Hacking Jacket in Autumn Coral

JCrew loves to clear out merchandise through final sales.  It's a great time to stock up on stuff you know will fit, but it's also easy to be tempted by untested garments in beautiful colors.  Cue the JCrew Hacking jacket.

I held off on buying this for a few days.  Then the sale increased from 30% to 40% off the sale price.  Oh, my.  But I can't return it.  I sat on it for a few more days and finally took the plunge.  One of my "closet holes" is blazers and cardigans, so I figured it was worth it.

The color  It's called Autumn Coral.  It is very coral.  Very, very coral.  Borderline orange.  It looks great in these pictures but it is brighter in real life.  It's growing on me.

The material is double serge wool.  I just love this fabric.  I have the pencil skirt in the same fabric and I am obsessed with it.  It is heavy and lays so well.

I ordered a size 8.  It fits beautifully in the waist and hips.


Buuuuut....see under the arms?  I can't really move my arms due to this weird cut.  The seam sits an inch or so below my armpit rather than right up in my armpit.  This is one of the first tests I do with a blazer to mimic how I stand on the subway (arm to the side or arm straight up). I do wonder if a petite size would have been better?

Here I am manually adjusting the jacket.  I am hoping a tailor can replicate this without too much deconstruction.  The jacket fits at the top of the shoulder quite well, so I wouldn't think they would detach the sleeve altogether.  The downside is that this fix (as I'm presenting it) shortens the sleeve to a bracelet length or shorter.  More $$$ for alterations but the dirt cheap price ($53 after sale discount) makes up for that.  Original price $250.

Jeans - Joe's Cigarette Jeans via Last Call Neiman Marcus
Shoes - La Canadienne via Last Call Neiman Marcus
Blouse - Nordstrom Rack

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Texan's Guide to Dressing for Cold Weather

I grew up in Texas. For years, my winter wardrobe consisted of a couple of sweaters and an assortment of fairly lightweight jackets. I wasn't prepared for the occasional below-freezing day, but luckily those were few and far between.

I moved to the northeast in 2007. I knew I was unprepared for winter, and frankly I don't remember how I made it through. I do know that I quickly realized that "snow clothes" (waterproof boots and a water repellant coat) were necessities, as was the need for many layers. Too bad winter clothes are expensive and my grad school budget didn't really allow for many new purchases.  I also remember feeling especially bulky when I dressed for cold weather - like the spawn of Stay-Puft.

After six years of gradually stockpiling base layers, coats, gloves, and hats, I think I have finally reached the point of having an adequate winter wardrobe.  By adequate I mean that I have at least a couple of each item so I don't get sick of wearing the exact same thing every day.

Are you a Texan moving to a cold climate?  I will show you what I put on for a typical below-freezing day in New York. I walk about two miles a day just going to and from work, so I need to ensure sustained warmth.
Before I start, I will tell you that you will need to spend some money here. I buy most of my stuff on 6pm during the spring when winter merchandise is on closeout. Maybe you have a good thrift store near you or a well-stocked Nordstrom Rack.  Buy quality brands, even if it means buying only a couple of things each year.  I have a few preferred brands but overall look for items that are at least one of the following: wool/mohair/cashmere/angora, insulated, or windproof.
Now, here is what I would wear on a typical cold day.

Base layers
1.  Form fitting top and bottom base layer.  I like the bottoms by Patagonia but I'm sure there are other good options. I have the Capilene 1, 3, and 4.  These are the 3.  (P.S. I cannot believe I am putting this picture on the internet.  Holy pear shape!)  Form fitting is key because it lays nicely under your other clothes.

1a. Tights.  I have a love-hate relationship with tights.  They are cute, but I always buy them at Century 21 or another discount store because they are usually $5-$10 a pair.  Tights get scuzzy too fast to spend any more on them.  I tend to size up to avoid too much muffin top action.

2. Wool socks. These are Icebreakers but I have a few Smartwool pairs.  Smile!  The heavier socks provide lots of cushion for your feet!

3. Wool skirt or pants. Yes, a skirt!  This particular one is the double serge wool skirt from JCrew. It is heavy and lined.  I stalk for a sale on this item.  Pants should be lined.  Jeans are ok, but see #1.  Jeans are NOT warm on their own.

Sweater and skirt.  Not crazy about the combo.
4.  Sweater. Again, preferably wool. Optional blouse underneath.  (P.S. One of the things I'm already realizing about this blog is that it is helping me rethink some outfits that seemed to work before.  This sweater and skirt combo?  Not loving it.)

5. Glove liner. I discovered these this year. I have already lost one of them but am planning to get another pair. The ones I have are Smartwool. 100% wool and not at all itchy.

6. Gloves. These are actually "under gloves" for snowboarding. I don't even know what that means, but they are great. Not the most professional look, but warm and windproof. Fleece lined. Don't go cheap with your gloves!!  These gloves do make it impossible to do anything.  I have to take them off to take out my PATH card.

7. Ear warmers. A must have for me. If my ears are cold, all of me is cold.  Mine are 180s

8.  Scarf. One you can wrap around your neck a few times.  No flimsy silk scarves and no cotton.

8. A quality coat. Your pea coat?  Not cutting it.  This one is from North Face. I like that it is cut with a waistline so I don't look too boxy. (I also like that it is dark colored and the North Face logo is black and not too obvious).  This is a triclimate coat: it has a liner that can be worn alone or zipped into the outer layer. The outer layer can also be worn by itself. I have two of this type of coat and I cannot live without them.  A hood is necessity even on sunny days. My next winter purchase will probably be a coat that is wool and a little more work appropriate than this one. I can wear this to work but some women probably can't.

Ready for schlepping around NYC
10.  Boots.  What woman doesn't love boots?   I prefer flat boots since I walk so much, but will happily wear heeled ones too.  These are from La Canadienne.  They are leather but weatherproof at the same time.

There you have it - ten items to help you dress for cold weather.  This particular outfit is so warm and helped me endure the recent days with highs in the teens.  AND this outfit is all black (and charcoal) so you will easily fit in anywhere in Manhattan. Just kidding.  Kindof.

Coat - North Face Kalispel Triclimate -
Skirt - JCrew Number 2 pencil skirt in heather carbon -
Boots - La Canadienne Paulina -
Legs - Patagonia Capilene 3 - REI
Gloves - Burton - Zappos
Glove liner - Smartwool
Socks - Icebreaker -
Scarf - Nordstrom
Sweater - Ann Taylor Loft Cable Knit
Blouse - Banana Republic Factory
Ear warmers - 180s

Friday, January 25, 2013

Color Pop

Today is Friday.  The weather in NYC has been especially cold, though the sunny days have made up for it a little.  The current temperature is 16 degrees, which is about the warmest its been in three days.  I needed a break from charcoal, black, black, black, and more charcoal.  It is hard to feel fashionable in earmuffs, snowboarding gloves, long undies, wool socks, and your warmest coat.  Cue jewel tones.

You know, economic distress has its perks.  I remember going to a mall at the end of 2008, and it seemed like everything was on super-duper clearance.  I got a great dress from Ann Taylor for $59 and this amazing top from Banana Republic.  I am pretty sure it was marked down to $11.99.  100% silk, too.  Over the years I have realized just how versatile this blouse is.  I don't see such ridiculous sales any more.

Top - Banana Republic silk blouse, fuschia.  Size Medium Petite
Skirt - JCrew Number 2 pencil skirt in Super 120s, Deep Lagoon.  Size 8
Legs - Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight base layer, black (
Cardigan - Lauren Ralph Lauren Open Front Merino Cardigan
Boots - La Canadienne Paulina, black (

 I think this outfit could stand an accessory like a belt or maybe a bracelet.  Accessorizing is not my strong suit...