Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves

Ideal Selves
works cited: megan nielsen skirt; loft blouse; j. crew belt; UO flats; breda watch; WYNC bag (I ♥ radiolab!)

A post unrelated to anything else, brought to you by the beginning of Dissertation Madness:
When I was at Kramer books recently, I picked up The Architecture of Happiness (the dilettante's everyday architecture, sorry Emily I'm sure you're cringing) and have been reading it in my spare time. Since moving to DC, I've been missing my community of other grad students and my campus more than I expected, and trying to adjust to working on my dissertation from my living room or coffee shops. When I was reading this book the other day, I found a line that resonated given my recent relocation: "Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places--and on the conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be." Struck by the idea that a well-designed space might remind me of my best possible self, I headed to the Library of Congress all day today, feeling that enormous vaulted ceilings and enormous rows of desks would help me get in touch with my scholarly possibility more than the crowded corner of a coffee shop. And you know what? It worked. The enormous main reading room gave me the feeling that I was pursuing knowledge in a space built for such a thing and I felt immense joy as I wrote today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011



works cited: madewell jeans; target belt; h&m top; clarks wedges; liz claiborne bag (from college), breda watch

For my "back to school" shopping this year, I am trying to spend a bit more on individual pieces (but not overall) and buy a lot less. Marketing really tempts you to buy a bunch of cheap things (especially tempting when you take pictures of yourself every day and thus start to fear redundancy) but I've really been trying to resist that mindset, in part because this article gave me a lot of food for thought about trends and clothes pricing. And honestly, nothing kills the shopping bug quite like moving all your possessions across the country and downsizing your closet by 50%. I like Linda's one-in-one-out policy. I also like the idea of buying one or two fairly-priced pieces and nothing else (partly because I don't have the room for many things). Do you have any rules that govern when you buy or what you buy? Do you spend more for less or less for more? Do you try to buy only ethically- or locally-produced clothes? Are there any stores you can't resist? I'd love to hear--I'm always curious about the "rules," conscious or unconscious, that we use when it comes to buying new clothes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Power Pants

power pants

power pants

power pants
works cited: BDG pants; old navy tee; j. crew belt; UO flats; breda watch

Today the mercury mercifully dipped below 80 degrees which meant the moment was here: The Time To Wear My Awesome High-Waisted Red Pants. I know they say red is a power color, but until you have red pants of your own, you don't realize how cheer-inducing and powerful-feeling red can be. I feel endowed with extra strength today, like I could lift a car off a hurt baby or pilot an emergency helicopter or even finish annotating the three volumes of essays I've read in the past few weeks.

Friday, August 26, 2011




works cited: megan nielsen dress; volcom shoes; target belt; thrifted bag; thrifted watch

Between the DC earthquake, the impending hurricane, a stolen credit card, torrential downpours, teaching a brand-new class, and zooming through four books in five days, this week has been a bit of a doozy and it's a relief to see it coming to a close. So today called for an easy outfit--dress, shoes, bag--and saving my energy for other things, like stocking up on snacks and candles in case our power goes out over the weekend. While it would be a hassle to lose electricity, I'm kind of excited by the thought of playing cards, reading by candelight, and making pasta on our camping stove. Oddly enough, Christopher doesn't share my enthusiasm for a romantic off-the-grid weekend with nary a moment of ESPN to be found. Hope your weekends are good (and safe and full of good books if you're facing down Irene).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Balancing Act

teaching day 2

teaching day 2
works cited: thrifted skirt; UO belt and flats; loft blouse; bag from etsy

Last night I went to a DC blogger event which, after my initial social shyness subsided, was pretty fun. The best part was congregating on the sidewalk outside afterward talking to a bunch of other blogger-teachers/students (Amy, Maria, Gina, Hannah) who were so smart and lovely and grounded. I didn't get a chance to get any photos of what I wore there or the event itself (whoops) but this is what I'm wearing today for my second day of being an invisible online teacher. Guess I still can't break the habit of dressing like I'm in the classroom.
P.S. A few people asked me to write more about online teaching--I would love to talk about it via email if anyone would like--and spare anyone who is not interested my long rambling thoughts about pedagogy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy First Day of School!

first day of school

first day of school

first day of school
works cited: anthro shirt (gift from my little sister several years back); skirt c/o ruche; target wedges

A lot of schools are starting this week, and mine is no exception. Even though I relocated to DC, I was lucky enough to get offered an online course (thank you, staffing shortage) along with my fellowship for the fall, so yesterday was my first day of teaching. Teaching online is a very different format than my other first days, but I still had to get dressed in order to feel prepared and confident enough to tackle the intimidating virtual classroom programs. Later, Christopher told me that his career counselor encouraged him to put on his suit even for phone interviews; evidently being dressed for the situation really helps you get in the right mindset, even if nobody at the other end can see your high heels or tie. Happy first day/week of teaching to all you other students and teachers out there! Hope it is a good one and nobody throws up on their shoes like I always feel like doing on the first day :)
P.S. I've gotten a couple questions about this skirt--it runs small, if you're thinking of getting it. I ordered a size up for a perfect fit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lazy Grays

lazy grays

lazy grays

lazy grays
works cited: dress c/o five bamboo; UO belt and necklace; target flats

Three observations:
1.  I found this photo yesterday, fell in love, and realized delightedly that this $59 five bamboo dress is a crazy good match for (and looks just as good as) that woman's couture dress.
2. I just love a simple outfit (to put self-deprecation aside for a moment, I think a simple dress or a tee and jeans is the most beautiful sometimes).
3. After seeing these photos, I realize that I need a haircut. Scratch that--I needed a haircut a month ago. I'm starting to look like Cousin It.

Monday, August 22, 2011

With Friends Like These, You Don't Need to Shop



works cited: shirt borrowed from friend in college and never returned (thanks, Syd!); skirt c/o threadcase; fitzwell wedges bought for mere pocket change on 6pm; j. crew belt; breda watch

One of the best things about being in college was having access to all your friends' clothes and I was lucky to have several friends who were my size and had enviable closets. In particular, my friend Sydney always had fun tops, cool earrings, and the best jeans so I was always borrowing things and later begging her to let me keep them. This shirt was one of the pieces I usurped during college; I love the scooped back and the soft color. Sydney has always been ridiculously generous and permissive of my greedy fingers; over the years, her castoffs have become some of my favorite pieces and when I stayed with her this last Christmas, I walked away with a sweater I've coveted for years and a plaid button-up. Now if only I could get her to move a little bit closer, I might never need to shop again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011




works cited: downeast basics skirt; j. crew outlet chambray shirt; j. crew belt; UO flats; breda watch; necklace c/o le mode accessories

Unfortunately, the best part of this outfit is missing--volumes 3 and 4 of Virginia Woolf's essays. Christopher insisted that I put down my armload of books before taking pictures this morning. "I can't let you turn your books into accessories," he insisted. "But they aren't an accessory; they are just what I'm carrying this morning," I told him (never mind that they just happened to match the outfit exactly--coincidence, I swear). So even though I was tempted to have my VW volumes join in the fun, I will spare her the humiliation of looking too much like an accessory...for now, at least.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Criminal Behavior

keep out

keep out

keep out
works cited: lands end dress; ancient old navy sandals; target belt; thrifted bag; gifted bracelet

I love taking a bunch of pictures only to realize that the secret spot you stumbled upon has a big old "Keep Out!" sign on it. But following posted rules has never been my strong suit...and that quality has shaped me into the deviant, law-breaking super-nerd who gets up at 7 a.m. to read modernist novels, like all criminals do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Routines


works cited: skirt c/o ruche; forever 21 top; target flats; thrifted bag; nobletown vintage earrings

In my midwest university town, I felt perpetually overdressed, but D.C. has so many incredibly beautiful, well-dressed women that I feel joyfully like a very tiny fish in a sea of fashionable sharks (that simile went a bit off course, but you know what I mean). A few days ago, a girl walked by my building wearing a camel-colored skirt and black tank--it was such a simple, pretty combination and right away I knew I wanted to try it out. Today is the first day I am "back to work," so I spent the morning at a coffee shop (at Tryst, thank you for suggesting it!) doing research. Now I am refueling for an afternoon of conference calls and syllabus-prep for an online class I was offered at the last minute (hurrah I am extra-gainfully employed and not just dissertating all day long until I turn into Jack Nicholson from The Shining!).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hello, D.C. I like your alleyways.

photo paradise

photo paradise

photo paradise
works cited: dress c/o spotted moth; thrifted bag; target flats; necklace c/o little o by wolfbrother

Guys, we made it to DC! I'm alive! And halfway unpacked! And still without internet (except for a sliver of a signal I'm siphoning from one tiny corner of the apartment). And yesterday for the first time I actually got dressed in real clothes, which made me feel like less of a schleb and got me through unpacking the bedroom lickety split. There's a lot to catch up on but I'll have many more posts coming next week. In the meantime, I'll tell you that the best part of our apartment is the incredible alleyway behind it, which has a dozen different beautiful walls (brick, painted, wood, whitewashed, garage doors) which is basically a photo background paradise. I'm overjoyed about the variety and Christopher is just happy not to have to walk very far :)
P.S. If you're looking for a perfect summer-to-fall dress, might I humbly suggest that this one is awesome? It's an incredible orangey-pink color, looks great with sandals and flats but will also be perfect with boots and a cardigan in a couple months.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do I Wear Thee: Lace Trim Top

It seems like a little bit of a cop-out to do a post on a cream-colored top with a little lace--it's not a particularly difficult item to style (neutral color, neutral shape, a few extra little details), but I've been reaching for it a lot this summer because it can be worn tucked in or loose, it's super comfortable soft jersey, and it's cool but offers coverage for days on campus.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Do I Wear Thee: Mustard Skirt

I made this skirt myself last summer, and have gotten a lot of wear out of it since then. Find the pattern to make your own here (it's ludicrously easy; I can't sew a thing and I can sew it). It's been an easy way to add color to my summer wardrobe in the one color of which I am actually not afraid.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Do I Wear Thee: Bright Printed Dress

I'm excited to give this a spin this fall, but this dress has been a favorite through the spring and summer, even if it a bit of a color statement.

printed dress

How Do I Wear Thee: Black and White Stripes

While we're moving in (and sans internet), I've scheduled a couple of these "how do I wear thee" posts just to keep things alive around here. Unlike Elaine, I don't have a good way of organizing how I've worn the same piece before, but occassionally I'll get questions about how else to wear a certain piece. First up is black and white stripes (this is for you, Celynne). At first I felt stuck about how to wear these, but then I just paired it with anything else nearby--navy blue, green, mustard yellow--and found that they seemed to go together fine.




Any other ideas/preferences/suggestions for how to wear a black and white stripe?

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Print


works cited: secondhand joe's jeans hacked at the knee; forever 21 top; volcom sandals; thrifted bag; bracelet mooched from emily

Because I work with words, I often find the written description of things more pleasing than the things themselves. A fresh baguette in person--pleasing. The delicious, crispy, crunchy words "fresh baguette"-- somehow infinitely more satisfying to me. The same goes for clothes; I love descriptions of items far more than the pieces themselves. And a description of today's outfit--cut off jeans, lacy tee, flat sandals--somehow sounds breezier and more put together than I actually felt wearing it. The way in which words trump experience is truest when it comes to "road trip." These always sound fun in print, but in person, when you've been stuffed in a suburu for 12 hours and eaten chex-mix for lunch, it is less delightful.
P.S. DC, here we come!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goodbye Party

goodbye party

goodbye party

works cited: emersonmade dress; vintage coach belt from mom; old navy sandals; bicycle tote from etsy

On Friday night, we had a little goodbye party with some friends. This dress has gotten a lot of love this summer but it is by far the most expensive thing I own, so I am determined to wear it to tatters. When I was growing up and we were on a tight budget, my mom splurged on a pair of leather sandals from hanna andersson. We justified the purchase (and forestalled my father's griping about the cost) by agreeing that I would wear them all the time so that we could tell my dad, "We didn't waste our money on these!" (we didn't...I wore them until they were ragged). The need to spend wisely was drilled into me then so in order to claim truthfully, "I didn't waste my money on this," I have to embrace repeats. And rather than fretting over whether it gets too boring, I'm hoping this is a more honest documentation.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tribute to Fanciness



works cited: skirt from common crow vintage; target tank and belt; clarks wedges; necklace from summer camp lost & found in high school

Today is my last day on campus for the summer so to uphold my tradition of looking ridiculously overdressed around 40,000 undergrads wearing adidas shorts, I strapped on the only pair of big shoes I packed in my suitcase and and a pretty skirt. I'm finally finished with all my summer grading and what felt like endless revisions on a manuscript I was editing, so feeling a little fancy is well-deserved. I'm also returning to my standard skirt uniform, after the excitement of yesterday's aberration. I'm definitely trying the maxi skirt again, next time taking into account some of your wonderful suggestions.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pass the Beaker, Please



works cited: old navy skirt; target tank; necklaces c/o little o by wolfbrother; bracelet mooched from emily; thrifted bag; birkenstocks (no, I'm not ashamed and if you could feel the arch support in these babies you'd forget about looking cool, too)

I would say 95% of the skirts in my closet are either above-the-knee, high-waisted, or a shade of blue (and probably 50% are all three). But this skirt is an outlier in my skirt statistics; ergo, I feel a bit uneasy about this outfit (if you needed any more proof that I will never be cutting-edge...I am much more comfortable 6 months-1 year behind the rest of the style world). After all my mooning about whether or not to cut my maxi dress into a maxi skirt, Christopher suggested I just buy a maxi skirt and see if I like it. We found this one at the very nadir of big box stores, but it was cheap enough to serve as a guinea pig. I'd prefer something high-waisted but Christopher forbade me, saying that I should try something at the hips and depart from my uniform. To mix these inadvertent science metaphors even more clumsily, I'll end by saying I'm not sure how this experiment turned out. Something about the look feels a little shapeless, but maybe I just need to stop being so stodgy and learn to like different silhouettes on myself.