Tuesday, September 30, 2014

More Pencil Skirts: Part 2

Weather continued to be pleasant, with highs in the low 70s, appropriate for eking out some more skirts-without-tights outfits.

This post is brought to you by the color pink.

How Many Pink Knit Shirts Does One Woman Need? -- Wed., 9/17/14

At least this one has a (subtle floral) design and a couple rows of ruffling around the neckline rather than being plain.  It's from a brand I'm totally unfamiliar with -- the oddly named Fresh Produce.  For extra warmth, I wore this in the morning with my short sleeved white cardigan from Nordstrom that is turning out to be a real workhorse.  That was $20 or so well spent.

* Pink floral knit shirt (thrifted, Fresh Produce)
* Light grey pencil skirt (JCP)
Big grey ball necklace (Macy's)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious

Crazy About Dots -- Thurs., 9/18/14

This navy polka dot pencil skirt is one I keep seeing crop up on various blogs.  I love that it is so versatile.  And it totally works with yet another pink knit shirt I could not resist buying at Goodwill.  But this one is dark pink, 3/4 length sleeves, and boat neck.  That makes it completely different from the others ones, right?  Right????

* Pink 3/4 length sleeve boatneck knit top (thrifted, Talbots)
Navy polka dot pencil skirt (Target)
Light grey flats by BCBGeneration (Nordstrom)
Big silver necklace (Jones New York)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Pencil Skirts: Part 1

I started off the week with floral patterns.

Monday Tiers -- Mon., 9/15/14

Luckily, having to go back to work on Monday does not make me cry, but I decided to wear this skirt with tiers anyway.  I actually don't know how to describe it -- the name of the skirt had some term like shutterfold in it.  Anyway, it's folded so it looks like it is made of horizontal tiers, whatever that's called.  It's also insanely comfortable.

* Black knit "tiered" pencil skirt (JCP)
Black/yellow/blue floral knit top (thrifted, Kohls)
Mustard flats (6pm)
Green-blue scarf (Target?)

Tie a Green Ribbon Around That Cat -- Tues., 9/16/14

I would not normally have thought, Hey, I know what goes with a watermelon/floral skirt and a shirt with ribbons tied into fans!  A scarf with cats on it!  But I felt that the scoop neck was a little low for some combination of propriety and warmth, so I put on the scarf.  I ended up adding a short-sleeved black cardigan at the last minute for additional warmth and wore that in the morning -- the outfit actually looked a little more coherent that way, but who is going to fault me for random kitties?

* Green ribbon-front knit shirt (thrifted, Talbots)
Green/pink floral pencil skirt (thrifted, Talbots)
Black cat scarf (Nordstrom?)
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Attack of the Pencil Skirts: Part 2

A Substitute (Isn't it a Bit Early in the School Year For That?) - Wednesday, 9/10/14

I was going wear a pencil skirt on Wednesday, but after getting to work on Monday and looking at the calendar for the week, I realized I had an off-site meeting (at a high school) on Wed. and I prefer wearing pants in these situations.  So I put together several stand-by items Tuesday night and the resulting outfit was that mix of understated, professional-looking, yet comfortable that puts me in the right place for attending this kind of meeting.  Driving to an off-site meeting puts me at a level of anxiety such that worry about whether we'll be in a place that is too cold, or that my skirt will rise up too much when I sit down, or whatever, is enough to put me over the edge.

Black/grey floral blouse (Kohls)
Beige-grey ponte blazer (Target)
Black linen pants (thrifted)
Black wedges (thrifted)
Grey bead necklace by RB

What To Wear When Using a Ridiculous Manual Report Process Because the Entirety of the Technology Department Can't Run a SQL Query Right - Thursday, 9/11/14

Feeling catty about the collective incompetence of another unit at your workplace (whether fair or not)?  Then you'll feel right at home in a leopard print infinity scarf.  And if fall has fallen all over you, a long-sleeved dress is a nice choice, too.  (Welcome to highs in the 50s.)  I love, love this dress from Lands End -- the knit fabric is extremely thick, which makes it both warm and more professional looking than your typical knit dress.

*Green long-sleeved ponte knit dress (Lands End)
Green leopard scarf (thrifted)
Brown flats by Frye

Ending the Week With a Watercolor/Tie-Dye Extravaganza - Friday, 9/12/14

It was a crazy week at work (though, perhaps not surprisingly, it was actually sort of great, too), so this kind of crazy outfit felt apt.

*Blue "watercolor" knit top (thrifted, Kohls)
Blue Dockers
Blue pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Blue tie-dye scarf (Kohls) -- I kept spelling this tie-"die" because I am clearly under the influence of Torchlight 2, as discussed below.

On Saturday, I wore a new short-sleeved knit polo shirt, a women's style with a v-neck, in a pretty shade of light blue that Robert brought home from work -- it fit like it was made for me.  His employer does a nice job picking clothes to put their logo on.  I don't mind advertising for Robert's employer, especially around the house, but in this case, I wore a grey open-front cardigan most of the day, so you couldn't see the logo anyway, just the blue shirt peeking out.

It was a nice comfy outfit for beating the main questline in Torchlight 2 with Robert/Barilla!  We have now moved to the "dungeon crawl" part of the game, which I actually am liking a lot so far.  There is a special map area (that has the main vendors that a city would have, and your loot chest) but also a map seller.  You can buy maps that give you access to different dungeons, and there are interesting modifiers that come with the maps.  For example, you might buy a map for the Gruesome Crypt that comes with a +15% to fire damage and +5% gold found for players/pets/minions and a +75% chance to haunt after death and a 10% damaged taken reduction for monsters.  It seems like a nice way to keep things interesting in a game that is kill, kill, kill (wait for Barilla to examine his equipment), kill, kill.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Attack of the Pencil Skirts: Part 1

Pencil skirts are very hard to fit if you have an unusually large hip-to-waist ratio unless you are willing to do alterations or pay someone to do alterations.  But I have found another way -- take advantage of a job that allows for more casual, relaxed dressing by wearing your tops untucked.  Buy the skirt in a bigger size that fits your hips and butt -- the loose waist means that the skirt will shift down on the body, making it effectively longer, too. 

Ever since finding a couple of pencil skirts at Goodwill and loving how much easier they are than full skirts to wear with untucked shirts (with full skirts, the length has to be just short enough), I've been wanting to get some more.  So I put in orders at 4 stores and actually found some that worked.  Sizing up makes a big difference.  But it was interesting how much the shape of the various pencil skirts differed.  This was mostly just different cuts for different brands/particular items -- some more straight from the waist to hips and others with a curvier cut.  But the worst offender was (perhaps not surprisingly) Old Navy, notorious for the amount of variability in their clothing sizes -- it's like they are so bad about cutting and sewing their clothes that you have to expect that a given item might be anywhere from one full size bigger to one full size smaller than the label.  Oh, and not consistently too big or too small.  It might be the right size everywhere except they cut the arms like it's a size smaller or the shoulder straps a size larger.  I guess that's how they sell stuff so cheap.  I know Walmart's clothes are the same way -- you might have to try on 3 red t-shirts in size L to find one that fits.

The Summer to Spring Transition - Monday, 9/8/14

So much is written about transitioning from summer to fall, as though this is at all difficult.  I mean, summer turns into fall all on its own.  The summer to spring transition is much more challenging because it is at odds with natural science.  It requires a kind of magic.  But here I am, bringing the magic to this pencil skirt ensemble.

*Cream lace top (Target) -- I have owned this for over a year and never wore it until now.  It's so cute on its own, but it's hard to wear.  I wasn't super pleased by how the skirt shows through the lace on top (and the skirt is already lined, so I feel like wearing a camisole with it is just dumb).  I could tuck it in but the sort of boxy cut makes me look like Inspector Shelf-boob when I do.  So I don't know.  This one might end up in the Goodwill bag.
*Teal pencil skirt (JCP) -- woo, thank you JCP and your colorful line of Worthington pencil skirts sold in a wide range of sizes at good prices.  You rule the (start of the) school (year).
*Rose gold ballet flats (thrifted, Old Navy, new with tags) -- I probably don't need another pair of shiny nude flats but for $5, I wasn't letting these go.
Wild bead necklace (Macy's)

Expanding My Collection of Barbie Pink Work Clothes - Tuesday, 9/9/14

This is a great example of a skirt that would have been too short if I were wearing the waist up where it's intended to be but that hits at a nice just-above-the-knee length when worn lower. 

*Black/pink dot knit top (thrifted, Target; it's the sister of the blue dot top I wore recently with the jeans-then-blue-golf-skort outfit on the weekend)
*Bright pink pencil skirt (JCP)
Black short-sleeved cardigan (thrifted, The Limited)
Black Lifestriders flats
Black claw/tooth necklace (Outfit Additions)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Lexicon

Lexicon by Max Barry was a great book for me -- a smart, funny, philosophically-flavored SF/fantasy thriller that doesn't bog itself down.  It's always a good sign when I have to keep myself from basically reading the whole thing out loud to Robert.  I always felt very interested and highly motivated to keep reading.  I can readily recommend it to you all.  (I was unhappy that one guy has a history of hunting rabbits, but no bunnies are harmed -- or even appear -- in this book, even in the parts set in rural Australia.)

This book uses the "alternating chapters between current events and the backstory" structure.

In the current events storyline, scary thriller stuff immediately starts happening to a hapless guy who doesn't understand what's going on.  We don't either -- but if you can handle the ambiguity of, e.g., a William Gibson novel, you'll be more than fine -- and anyway, the basic situation (confused innocent, dangerous kidnapper, even more dangerous obvious bad guys) is very clear and easy to grasp.  These sections of the book have a Snow Crash-era Neal Stephenson feel to me.  The story is frenetic and action packed yet leaves plenty of time for (too much) squabbling between the characters.  There is also a sort of mild horror-movie-esque sequence that was really good and creepy and gave me goosebumps (literally).

The only disappointing thing about the "girl is recruited to take entrance exams to what is fundamentally a hyper-elite magic school" backstory is that it jumps ahead too quickly.  I loved The Magicians in part because of the pacing and the wonderfully detailed way the magic school universe and the protagonist's position within it is developed.  You really get the whole story in The Magicians in a way that doesn't happen here.  I kept wanting to know more about how things work, the experiences the girl has, how they learn to do what they do.  What we get of this is great, but I really needed an entire novel's worth of this story.  It also reminded me a bit of Divergent in that the underpinnings of the personality segmentation, and the overall psychological/sociological foundation, was under-developed.  For example, I would have liked to see a more coherent explanation around this magic of persuasion and how the linguistic elements and personality elements intersect.  But I recognize that I have a ridiculously high standard for this due to my own knowledge of and interest in the subject matter.  If you can get into it as a cool idea, and leave aside all details about how it works, the book is still a lot of fun despite not fully delivering on the premise.

Each story is very entertaining individually, but I felt that the shifts from one to another were a bit too abrupt.  It felt like jumping between two unrelated, very different books for a while.  It takes a long time for the two storylines to fit together, and by the time they do, it's kind of too obvious what is going on and going to happen in a general way.  I feel that this structure was not entirely successful and that the somewhat anti-climactic ending could have been better with a more effective integration of the backstory and the current events.  However, I'm not sure what that would look like.  Anyway, this in no way makes me hesitate in recommending the book.  It's not perfect -- and it's not perfectly suited to my idiosyncratic tastes -- but it's still a good ride.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Start of the School Year: Part 3

White After Labor Day - Friday, 9/5/14

Yes, I did it, I wore a summer white blazer after Labor Day, and the ghosts of 10,000 southern debutantes did not rise up to scold me while calling me "sugar."

I wore my fish scarf with a navy blue dress because, duh, fish and the navy -- both rely on water.

*Sleeveless navy blue knit dress (Target)
White blazer (thrifted, Liz Claiborne)
Blue striped shoes by Chinese Laundry (6pm)
Red fish scarf (Target)

Weekend Clothing Adjustments - Saturday, 9/6/14

I had expected the temperature in our apartment to warm up over the course of a sunny weekend day and planned my outfit accordingly.  One of the downsides to our stupid-ass A/C system is that we have no thermostat, another is that it warms up a lot faster than it cools down.  Taken together, this means that we have keep the air cranked up at a level that will be adequate for the warmest part of the day and deal with it being too cool for the rest of the day by taking a page from Jimmy Carter's book and eating peanut butter to keep warm.

Or we have to change our clothes during the day. Often this means putting a sweater/jacket on and off as needed, but sometimes it requires a bit more of a change.



*Blue/white dotted knit top (Target)
Blue jeans (Kohls) / *Light blue golf skort (thrifted, Izod)
Blue/white striped sneakers by Rocket Dog
Aqua blue and silver necklace (Kohls)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Start of the School Year: Part 2

More Summer Ann Taylor Goodness - Wednesday, 9/3/14

I did not intend to have an Ann Taylor theme going, but once I picked out the linen skirt (are you noticing a theme here? it's subtle), the shirt jumped out of the closet at me.  Luckily, cotton shirts are very soft and I was not injured by it.  

*Green/white knit top (thrifted, Ann Taylor)
Brown linen skirt (thrifted, Ann Taylor)
Green belt (Target)
Brown wedges (thrifted, American Eagle)
Green/brown necklace by RB

A Better Way to Beige - Thursday, 9/4/14

I'm thinking that I really can only do beige if I mix it with black or a bright color.  Here coral gets the job done.  You know, I should wear the coral shirt and the fish necklace together some time because, duh, fish and coral.  

By the way, I was recently reading the extremely silly caper novel The Way of All Fish (by Martha Grimes), of which the haphazard treatment of saltwater fish, freshwater fish, coral, etc., is by no means any more ludicrous than anything else about the story.  Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it somewhat, but I didn't finish it and it's not a book I can recommend.  I thought the first caper book Foul Matter was quite a bit better, perhaps through the sheer novelty of it.  Overall, I think I'm just not a fan of the madcap caper genre.  I couldn't even get into the caper novels by Donald Westlake, author of two of the funniest books I've ever read -- Humans (written from an angel's point of view; I reread this book with great pleasure every few years) and The Ax (if you have ever been laid off from a job, this is the book for you).

Note that I was ridiculously pleased by the fact that the shoes have a small pinkish orange line (between the cream and the gold toe) that basically perfectly echoes the small pinkish orange lines against the cream/beige background of the skirt.

Coral knit top (thrifted, Talbots)
Beige/coral full skirt (thrifted, Target)
Cream captoe flats (Anne Klein)
Coral swag necklace (Kohls)