Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wrapping Things Up

"Zooey Wonderland"--Saturday, 4/30/16

I pretty much think Lindsay is the real-life counterpart of Zooey Deschanel's character Jess on New Girl.  (She is even a teacher, no joke, though elementary rather than middle school.)

I thought this kinda funky outfit was a nice way to wear my ancient purple knit dress for the weekend.  I loved the purple dress/black tights/Oxford flats combo especially.


For my version I used my black and white check jacket and plain black leather/suede Oxfords, and I loved it.  Enough that this dress I was considering removing from my closet has been re-established as a winner when worn as a comfy knit skirt.

Purple knit dress (Target)
Black and white check jacket (JNY), $4.94/wear
Alice scarf (NerdCreations), $5.71/wear
Black tights
Black suede Oxfords (thrifted, Munro American), $0.56/wear

Outfit total: $11.21/wear

But if I'm going this far, I might as well go all out and add my Alice in Wonderland scarf, right? 

In other news...So this is the last day of the Work the Wardrobe Challenge.  Whew.  Now it's time for a new challenge, right?  No rest for the weary!

With no further ado, I present to you Operation Cost Per Wear, in which I am prioritizing wearing items that currently have a relatively high cost per wear for their category (as well as wearing new items, with their notorious #DIV/0 cost per wear in my Excel file).  As part of my continuing purging process, I'm also going to emphasize wearing things I'm uncertain about keeping and making a decision about them.

I actually started that already today with this dress that I don't like as a dress (because the upper part doesn't fit right) but that I like layering and wearing as a skirt.  I don't have any other knee-length or longer, somewhat full knit skirts or dresses, so even if I don't wear it often, I do feel that it fills a niche.  And Coldville is the kind of place where having a few dresses that you only wear when layering up is a reasonable proposition.  I'm already thinking how much I'd like this one with a grey or black pullover sweater worn over it.

So in addition to celebrating the last day of the WtWC today, I also finished Fallout 3.  I completed the final, interminable mission of the end-of-game DLC Broken Steel on the Very Hard (i.e., hardest possible) level even!  It's funny, very soon after starting up the game today for the first time after last weekend's slog, I killed an enemy with a gatling laser, which gave me the parts I needed to repair Vengeance, my favorite automatic weapon: "unique and very powerful...[it] can handily slaughter most opponents."  So the second half of the mission, while objectively as difficult as the first, was easier because I was able to repair Vengeance 3 times, keeping it in near-perfect condition and hence in its full-out motherfucking bad-ass mode for the rest of the mission.

Friday, April 29, 2016

In Which I Declare Victory

Inspiration Bonanza!--Friday, 4/29/16

Focal item:  Blue/bright pink/white circles shell from Nordstrom

I struck the inspiration jackpot when pairing a pink patterned top with a bright pink cardigan and blue jeans/navy pants.

From #1, #2, #3, #4

Seriously, I was running out of time with this top before the end of the Work the Wardrobe Challenge and was afraid that it would be too cold for it.  For once, the crazily early warming this spring has worked to my advantage!  It was fairly chilly this morning, though, so I wore a bright pink scarf tied around my neck until about 2 p.m.

Straight leg jeans (thrifted, Bandolinoblu), $0.15/wear
Blue/bright pink/white circles shell (Nordstrom), $19.50/wear+ (!!!!)
Bright pink t-shirt cardigan (Lands End), $5.00/wear
White swag necklace (Kohls), $2.89/wear
Medium blue flats by Sofft [see photos #1 + #4], $5.83/wear

Outfit total: $33.37

At least I didn't have to wear mine while there was snow on the ground (like blogger #4).

This top was the last item for the Work the Wardrobe Challenge.  I absolutely eked it out at...well, not the very last minute (since I gave myself until tomorrow) but at the 11th hour.  (Interesting, that phrase may or may not have its origins in the Bible.  But everything in English is from the Bible or Shakespeare, isn't it?)   Yay for me!

However, because I do outfit planning in advance, I do have some recent purchases that didn't make it into the WtWC, but I had already decided that they were exempt--you will be seeing them coming up soon, though.  And I have some older purchases, dating back to December, that were not part of the WtWC because it made zero sense to me to either (1) wear seriously summery clothes before summer or (2) not take advantage of a great thrift store bargain just because the item didn't align with the season.  So that's a caveat to this whole thing.  But I say, It's done, I won.  The End.

In other news....This story is for my dad because I think he will relate.  This week I asked Robert to put soy sauce on the grocery list because I have only about 2 servings left.  He told me, We have more soy sauce.  I say, Oh really, where?  He says, On the shelves.  I say, I saw two bottles of Worchestershire sauce but no soy sauce.  He goes over and finds the Worchestershire sauce and says, Damn, I thought I bought soy sauce the last two times I was at the store but I got Worchestershire sauce instead.  I said, Yeah, the first clue is that only Worchestershire sauce comes wrapped up in paper like that and the second clue is that it says "Worchestershire sauce" on it instead of "soy sauce."  But this story has a happy ending.  On Wednesday evening he came home from the store with a bottle of soy sauce and no more Worchestershire sauce...which I can't even remember the last time I used. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Outfit Mastery

"Watermelon Bubble Gum"--Thursday, 4/28/16

Let's just get this out of the way immediately.  This patterned pencil skirt (from Boden--they seriously have the most excellent prints) is gorgeous!  I think it looks like coral...or fish eggs...or something that doesn't sound like it should look good on a skirt, actually.

Bridgette makes a printed pencil skirt corporate-friendly by adding a plain button up shirt, classic heels, and simple jewelry.  I'm going to go Librarian Chic with mine.


And that means pattern mixing, untucked button up shirt, sweater vest, and mary janes, of course.

Black and white button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy), $0.80/wear
Bright pink sweater vest (thrifted, Fieldgear), $1.00/wear
Watermelon floral skirt (thrifted, Talbots), $1.25/wear
Black/silver pendant (JCP), $3.07/wear
Black tights
Black mary janes by Hush Puppies, $4.48/wear

Outfit total: $10.60/wear

I could pretty much wear a variant on this outfit every day.  It would get boring eventually, and there are a lot of other looks I like, but the pencil skirt/button up shirt/vest (+blazer when it's cold) combo would be a serious contender for Sally Work Uniform.  (By the way, it was 41 and raining hard when I left work today.  Good thing I had worn my super-long trench coat for trudging across the parking lot.  I could have used the blazer today but relied upon my butt-warming heating pad instead.)

In other news...Scarcity vs abundance mindsets, talking about flow without invoking the word "flow," the insidiousness of social comparison, and more in this article about "why so many smart people are unhappy"--it's an interview with a University of Texas marketing professor.  I wish the marketing professors in my PhD program had been familiar with these (to me, pretty basic and obvious) ideas.  Perhaps they would have made their grad students less miserable.

Plus a blog post on style uniforms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Not Popular, Plus a Mini Rant

"A Different Lavender Brown"--Monday, 4/25/16

Today's Reverse Inspiration comes from stylist Bridgette Raes.

#1:  Here she shows lavender with a black dress (and to her broader point, brings in a pop of green, but let's ignore that for now).


#2:  And in this post, she argues for pants that are just as versatile as black pants, such as the brown pants paired with lavender and purple in the right hand side of this layout.


I think these two posts are converging on the idea that wearing a brown skirt and brown top (and brown leggings and brown boots) with a lavender quilted vest is a good one.

Brown long-sleeved T (Macy's), $3.66/wear
Brown corduroy skirt (thrifted, Walmart), $1.50/wear
Lavender quilted vest (thrifted, Van Heusen), $2.00/wear+ (!!!!!)
Brown leopard scarf (Kohls), $3.05/wear
Brown leggings
Tall brown boots by Fitzwell, $5.25/wear

Outfit total: $15.46/wear

And let us not forget the ubiquitous brown leopard scarf!

It was interesting to see how rare the brown + lavender color combination is.  The second photo was the only one I found with lavender and brown but I really like how they look together.  I guess the rest of the world is missing out on this good thing.  (Well, it wouldn't be the first time.)

And all this despite the fact that Lavender Brown was a character in Harry Potter (Ron's short-time girlfriend)!  But maybe she wasn't very popular.  And I cannot see any evidence that she wore lavender and brown together.  I guess with a name like that you have to be careful.  My name and status as a free American give me the liberty and confidence to wear whatever color combinations I want...or something.

Even if it is utterly ridiculous for the recent weather.  Reaching 70 F in mid-April?!?!  This is wrong, I tell you, WRONG!

We disapprove of this inappropriately spring-like weather in...well, spring.  But still.

I had actually been despairing that I wouldn't have a chance to wear this outfit and thus would miss out the lavender vest on the Work the Wardrobe Challenge--the weekends have been so warm for so many weeks (and it's warmer in my apartment than it is at work).  But when I saw a high of 50 F and raining on the forecast for Monday, I thought, What the hell, I could wear this outfit to work, right?  I mean, yeah, it's strongly on the casual side of business casual but I don't have any meetings or anything--I'm just going to be sitting at my desk churning out some quarterly reports.

Well that was Saturday.

Then I checked the forecast again Sunday night and we were back up to 67 F for a high on Monday.  WTF, people.  But Wednesday looked not quite so bad, highs in the low 50s F and raining, so I tried it today...even though I did have a meeting.  What I won't do for the WtWC. It turned out to be quite appropriate for the weather.

I swear that Robert and I have seen near 20 degree F shifts in the forecast within a couple of hours on Weather Underground.  He has asked, 'Why do the forecasts change so much so quickly?  Do they have multiple meteorologists updating the forecast back and forth with their own predictions like the site is Wikipedia or something?'  It's a good question.  All I know is that I find it very annoying, how it fucks up my planning.  THUMP.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cool Colors, Cool Weather

"Embroidery Barbie Has Balls"--Tuesday, 4/26/16

Christine works this color combination in June (and with a baby bump) but I thought this was a fun, bright way to wear a grey cardigan I got from my mom at Christmas...


...and to realize that my aqua T is too short (good-bye!) so I need to substitute a top in a different shade of blue.

Blue embroidered knit top (Walmart), $1.33/wear
*Grey V neck cardigan (Kohls, from Mom)+ (!!!!)
Bright pink pencil skirt (JCP), $2.01/wear
Grey tights
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan, $10.42/wear
Wild ball necklace (Macy's), $3.04/wear

Outfit total: $16.80/wear

I like the texture mix going on here with the ribbed cardigan, the embroidered top, and the variously smooth and grooved and pitted balls on the necklace.

In other news...I enjoyed the commentary on this list of Things My Male Tech Colleagues Have Actually Said to Me.  But...seriously?  You guys suck.

It turned out to be surprisingly chilly today--I mean, the meteorologists were off by a good 15 degrees F in their forecast--so I had to use my bun-warming heating pad today at work.  It may seem silly but it's damn effective.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rainy Monday

"The Giant Alice Schoolgirl"--Monday, 4/25/16

For today's inspiration, I'm bringing another StyleUp photo out from the dark recesses of my computer.  A navy sweater is paired with a brown skirt.  Let's get to work.  (Not private school, or should I say "public school" in good British style, like this model, who has torn the school crest patch--with the Latin phrase "Numquam obliviscar" and an elephant rampant--off the front of her jumper and turned the waistband of her skirt over several times to make it daringly shorter....ah, to be in 8th grade in some imagined England of the 1960s).


Anyway, back to today.  This schoolgirl outfit can be the basis for using two relatively recent thrift store acquisitions--a lightweight brown pleated skirt purchased in November (as a "warm weather" companion to my corduroy skirt) and a navy argyle cardigan from the 88 cent sale in December.

*Brown pleated skirt (thrifted, Casual Corner), $5.99/wear+
*Navy/light blue argyle cardigan (thrifted, Kmart), $0.88/wear+
White long-sleeved T (Walmart), $0.38/wear
Navy tights
Navy striped flats (Payless), $2.83/wear
Aqua/silver teardrop necklace (JNY), $1.85/wear

Outfit total: $11.93/wear

I would not normally wear tights with striped shoes but I was optimistic when I put this outfit together that it would still be firmly cool for a few weeks yet.  As it turned out, we've been in that limbo between true tights weather and bare leg weather for the last couple weeks.  It's been cool enough that I need tights until about 2:00 in the afternoon, at which point I start to feel warm.  Today, however, the rain kept me happy to be in tights all afternoon long. 

I haven't lived anywhere before where--not counting winter--the difference in how warm you get indoors when it's rainy vs. when it's sunny is so substantial.  Sunshine is like a guarantee that the apartment/office will be too warm.  Are all buildings constructed here to suck all warmth out of the outdoor air and transfer it immediately indoors or what?

Regardless, I am irrationally pleased to see how the cognac piping on the edge of the ballet flats matches the brown in the skirt. 

Also, this close up of my legs and feet, in comparison to the smaller photo above, makes me feel like Alice after eating the EAT ME cake.


In other news...How was the weekend so short?  Oh yeah, I spent a lot of it playing Fallout.  As my mom predicted, Robert finished the game before I did--though to be fair, I collected all the bobbleheads and he did not, so I am finishing more of the game, if that makes sense. 

When I completed the final quest of the main quest line on Saturday, it was so short and easy that I decided to play the DLC that extends the game (Broken Steel) on the Very Hard setting (i.e., the very hardest setting in the game).  That wasn't too bad at first (because the missions were relatively short so I could go back home and resupply) but when I reached the final quest of Broken Steel yesterday...oh man.  That is a LONG SLOG. 

I had to travel through 4-5 metro lines while being attacked by things like groups of 6 feral ghouls, 3 of them the dreaded ghoul reavers, or groups of sentry bots (oh yeah, I'd forgotten that those sumbitches can be tough to kill) until finally reaching this air force base that is gigantic and crawling with enemies (and with turrets atop every corner of every building, it seems).  I have tons of ammo and tons of stimpaks (for healing) but my weapons are really degraded--I brought spare parts, but not enough given how many/tough the enemies are.  I did pick up a special weapon ("tesla cannon") which is good but only holds one piece of ammo at a time so there is a lot of reloading.  So far I am finding it mostly an inferior substitute for my degraded Vengeance gatling laser (it runs on the same ammo type as the tesla cannon).

At one point I was taking a ton of damage and I realized that I hadn't checked my armor in a while--it was almost in shreds.  Luckily I was able to scavenge a couple sets of armor off some dead enemies and cobble them together into a pretty nice set of gear. 

Anyway, after a few hours of that on Sunday, I was like, OK, I am ready for this game to be over RIGHT NOW.  I took that as a sign that it was time to take a break.  I am planning to return to the game next weekend to finish Broken Steel--and I'm planning on continuing on the Very Hard setting for maximum bragging rights to Robert when I'm done for the greater challenge.  I mean, if you are ridding your world of a horrifyingly powerful and evil enemy army, it should feel hard, you know?  But who knows...if it continues to feel like an un-fun slog, I reserve the right to reduce the setting to Hard.  (I still think that the default setting is likely to be too easy.)

How was your weekend?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mint and a Butterfly

"The Hippy Semi Hippie"--Sunday, 4/24/16

Mint, grey and blue denim in one simple weekend outfit.


Here is my rendition, complete with a little grey pearl pendant.  I wear the matching drop earrings from this set all the time but the necklace is worn infrequently.  However, I thought it worked very nicely with this sweater vest that mostly resists my attempts to add scarves or necklaces.

Mint cardigan vest (JCP), $11.73/wear
Grey metallic striped long-sleeved top (Kohls), $2.26/wear
Flared jeans (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.29/wear
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles, $7.78/wear
Single grey pearl pendant+

Outfit total: $22.06/wear

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that these flared jeans look pretty good with the sweater vest.  I expected that the semi-baggy shape of the vest would be dowdy (not that that stops me!) but I think it's just flattering enough.

In other news...As the Work the Wardrobe Challenge nears its end, I thought I'd share my first sliver of data today.

One of the things I tracked this year was wardrobe items purchased and wardrobe items purged.  Let's start with examining the net flow of items in and out of my wardrobe.

Overall, I purchased 148 items this year and purged 105, for a net gain of 43.  Ouch...or not?  How did this break down by category?

In the general category of bottoms, I increased my skirts significantly.  I was pretty pleased that I added more colorful and patterned pencil skirts, which is increasingly my go-to choice because they are easy to wear with long tops, high-volume tops, etc.  So I'm happy about that.  Pants were stable, and I only bought a dress because I needed something for a cocktail wedding.

In the general category of tops, I did a good job of decreasing my numbers, especially among sweaters.  Those always feel like they will be useful (because: Coldville) but it turns out that I have a strong preference for layering year-round and bulky sweaters are not actually the best option for that because they do not fit well under blazers.  I also got rid of a bunch of stiff button up shirts that just aren't all that comfortable and are not happy with cardigans.  I still have too many tops, but I think I made some progress on that front this year.  I'd like to get rid of more in the year to come.

In the general category of toppers, I am not surprised to see that I have expanded my jackets and vests, though I didn't remember that I'd gotten rid of so many cardigans.  In keeping with my preferences (style-wise and comfort-wise) for layering, I made a point of expanding my layering options, especially with vests.  I had to take advantage of what will no doubt be a very brief period of cardigan vest trendiness to snatch them up!  But I'm in really good shape in that category now.

In the general category of accessories...yeah, I kind of went overboard.  But luckily scarves and necklaces take up next to no room, so that's not really a big deal (and I have them well-organized in space and in my spreadsheet, so I don't forget about any of them).  The shoes...well, it was a parade of colorful, inexpensive ballet flats from Payless (and a few from Goodwill) for the most part.  I was already extremely well set on the pricey stuff (boots, more professional leather flats) and now my fun ballet flats game is strong, too.  So really, one could almost think I don't need to buy any more shoes.  One could.  Almost.  If they didn't know me.

So although I did increase my net items by an appreciable amount this year, I am happy to see that I've shifted the balance a bit in the right direction.  It's clear that I had too many long-sleeved shirts and pullover sweaters, and I know I still have my work cut out for me in that category a bit, but it is good that I retired about 3 dozen of them and replaced less than a dozen.  (Some key purchases there were basic, extremely versatile black and grey pullover sweaters and several blouses that are more comfortable and play more nicely with layering than stiff woven shirts.)

This, the Work the Wardrobe Challenge was NOT successful in the sense of keeping me from shopping (though without the WtWC, I could easily have purchased more and purged less!).  But I have the room and organization capacity to deal with the extra stuff.  How about the financial impact of this shopping?  That's a topic for another day.  Stay tuned!

Do you like my butterfly chart?  This site had the best (i.e. easiest to reproduce) tutorial for making one in Excel that I found.  (Transferring that chart from Excel to Blogger?  That was a nightmare!)