Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week One Work Outfits

I not only put all these outfits together on Monday (and I mean, not only did I figure out what I wanted to wear together but actually tried them on in their entirety to make sure everything fit right, went together like I thought they should, etc.), I collected all the pieces and laid them out so that each morning, when I got out of the shower, I could just grab them and put them on -- no digging through the closet or jewelry box necessary.  (I also wrote down the items on a list so it's easy for me to later recreate these outfits if I want to -- sometimes it's really not obvious what black pants I'm wearing in a given photo, for example, but it matters because in person, they are not really fully interchangeable in terms of fabric or fit.  I'm including descriptions of the items on this post for easy future reference.)

Actually, I put together these and 19 other outfits -- so tomorrow I will select 5 more from my list of "ready to go" outfits, collect and organize the components of the outfits, and be ready for the week.

Tuesday -- 4/8/14

I'm so, so happy that my office does not get overheated on sunny afternoons (when the outdoor temperature is a lovely 60 or whatever)!  I would have been dying in long sleeves and a blazer at home, but it felt just right at work.

*Blue bowtie shirt from Lands End
Black pants with black stripes (thrifted)
Black herringbone blazer (thrifted)
Black buckle flats by Me Too

Wednesday -- 4/9/14

Yep, using the Business Casual 101 black patterned item principle here with the black pants, black shoes, and the black-and-blue floral scarf.

*Blue lace front sweater from Kohl's
Black pinstripe pants (thrifted)
Black oxford shoes (thrifted)
Blue floral scarf from Target

Thursday -- 4/10/14

Hard to believe I waited until Day 3 to show up in animal print, isn't it?

*Black and brown ponte knit dress from Lands End (this thing is made of incredibly thick and wonderful fabric and it has nice roomy pockets on the front -- highly recommended)
*Brown button-up shirt (thrifted)
Brown leggings
Brown riding boots
Black claw/tooth necklace

Friday -- 4/11/14

I noticed this week that some women in my department do wear (nice) jeans to work, but I'm not planning to go there yet -- I have not seen anyone at my level or above in jeans, and I have enough other pants that I don't need to rely on jeans to put outfits together.  So instead I went with the black + color + black/color scarf stand-by.

Black 5-pocket pants from Rafaella
Red v-neck long-sleeved knit shirt (thrifted, Lands End)
Red belt from Target
Red/purple/black scarf from Target
Birds of paradise patterned socks from Amazon
Red buckle flats from Me Too
Black travel cardigan (thrifted, Chico's)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Business Casual 101

In the days leading up to starting my new job this past week, I put together a few outfits using my absolutely most brain-dead simple method of making up a business casual outfit -- the use of black patterned pieces with plain black items.

But first, a truly casual outfit.

More Fun With Stripes -- 4/1/14

This is probably going to be my last really casual purchase for a while (barring the availability of something as irresistible as, say, the Alice or Watership Down t-shirts or the determination that I'm lacking in stuff to wear when it gets really warm, as it will soon enough).  I got a great price on it, and it's a nice item for that inbetween kind of spring and summer weather we have in Snow City -- it's lightweight enough that wearing it with a short-sleeved or sleeveless t-shirt is not appreciably warmer than just wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt by itself, but with the additional flexibility that layering offers.

*Teal striped knit cardigan from Coldwater Creek
*Oatmeal t-shirt from Kohl's
Chunky stone necklace from Outfit Additions

Business Casual 101 Part 1 -- 4/2/14

Here is the most basic version of the formula:
* Black pants (or skirt)
* Black shoes
* Top with a pattern that incorporates black

The shirt is from the Kohl's 212 Collection, which appears to be designed with this formula in mind, given that almost all the prints they use -- even a light-colored one like this -- has black in it.  This is brilliant of them because I think black has to be the most common color for workplace staples like pants, skirts, and blazers to come in.  (I actually like the color black and like wearing it, but even I find that it's easy to end up too much black -- say, 6 black skirts and 7 pairs of black pants -- and difficult to find even one or two in grey or navy, the obvious alternatives to black for these items.)  And it can be hard (at least for me) to figure out how to pair spring-y and summery colors with black pieces on your own without it looking kind of weird and incoherent.  But add black to the pattern and it's a no-brainer.

*Coral and black shirt from Kohl's
*Black and white necklace from Kohl's

It's also easy to build on this formula by adding a topper (cardigan, blazer, jacket) in either black or, more interesting to me, another color from the shirt fabric.  This shirt is great because in addition to black, it has white and a tan/taupe color, both of which are also common neutrals.

*Grey/taupe ponte blazer from Target

Business Casual 101 Part 2 -- 4/3/14

Another version:
* Solid colored dress
* Black topper (blazer or cardigan)
* Scarf with black and the dress color in the pattern

*Hot pink dress from Lands End
*Hot pink/orange/black scarf from Nordstrom (I think)

Putting a bird on it is optional but does make your outfit extra awesome.  Also, it's kind of amazing how little black needs to be in the patterned piece to bring the outfit together.

A Casual Take on the Formula -- 4/4/14

I've put this idea forward with business casual because black is so common for basic pieces in the business casual wardrobe (taking the place that blue denim often takes in the casual wardrobe) but of course it works with a truly casual outfit, too.

Here I used the black in the animal scarf to match the black jeans and shoes.  The shoes look like Mary Janes, but they're not.  The black "strap" that kind of shows in this photo comes from these most excellent socks from Sock Dreams.

I call these my Seeley Booth socks.  (Are you thinking, "I don't know what that means"?  If so, good for you...and you're lying.  If not, time to get your Bones on, people.)  I'm looking forward to rocking them, Booth-style, at work with conservative black pants and my black oxford shoes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Very Brief Update

Yes, I've started my job.  Yes, it's going well.  Yes, the drive home is long and annoying (today it was an hour from work desk to home door), though fortunately the drive to work is not bad.  Yes, I'm pretty much completely exhausted by the time I get home (though it's getting a bit better each day).  Yes, I'm glad tomorrow is Friday!

I'll write more later, but right now I'm too tired and too much enjoying the Game of Thrones/Runway comparisons here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Out Like a Lamb...

...If By That You Mean, Wearing Wool -- 3/28/14

Can't believe it was late March before I pulled out this wool sweater to wear, but that's Snow City for you.  Almost anywhere else, a wool sweater decorated with snowflakes would look utterly ridiculous this time of year; here, it was only mildly so.

*Grey wool snowflake cardigan - thrifted, J. Crew

What To Wear When Buying a New Car -- 3/29/14

I wore this with jeans, my lavendar all-weather mocs, and a hot pink ski jacket. 

Striped shirt - thrifted, Bass
Pink statement necklace - Outfit Additions

Flower Power -- 3/30/14

I bought several things from Lands End, but had less luck than usual -- I only kept this silky flower blouse and a dress.  As my wardrobe shapes up, I'm getting pickier.  This print is really loud, but it has many useful colors and can be covered up partially with a sweater or jacket.

The running-errands on Sunday version of this look involves another great casual jacket I got at Goodwill during our "stock up on jackets for the trip to Yellowstone" visit.  It's a lot like my green military/utility jacket, only in a nifty rust color.

But in the afternoon, on a somewhat warmish sunny day, it was 78 degrees in the apartment upstairs.  Argh!  Soon we will move distinctly from "the season in which I talk about how cold it is in the Skyrim office" to "the season in which I talk about how hot it is upstairs."

*Bold flower print top - Lands End
*Rust utility jacket - thrifted, Kohl's
Beaded statement necklace - Outfit Additions
Jeans - thrifted, Talbots
Yellow flats - 6pm

Cleaning the Office -- 3/31/14

My office has gotten into a state of barely contained chaos.  School stuff (still), sewing stuff, job search stuff, Skyrim stuff, and miscellaneous crap piled up everywhere.  I knew I'd get warm moving everything around, so I went with the classic t-shirt and pants combination.  (Later, with the windows open and fans pulling in the cool outside air, I had to put on a cardigan.)

The good news is that my room is vastly improved (though the table you can see in the photo below is still a disaster zone).  I was very, very happy to get rid of some clothes that didn't fit or that I didn't like (I finished up a project I've been slowly working on for a couple weeks of trying on everything that I own to make a decision about them).  Between that and moving my most casual clothes and shoes to the office closet, I was able to find room in the bedroom closet for all my work clothes (except my interview suit, which I'm keeping in the office) and shoes!  (This is only possible because Robert takes up so little space with his clothes -- thanks, sweetie.)

I was also color-coordinated with my new car, which I drove home after dark in a rain/hail deluge.  (The blind spot detection was put to good use because my visibility was bad.  The car performed like a champ.)

*Striped t-shirt - thrifted (88 cents), Eddie Bauer
Black pants - thrifted, Dockers
Red statement necklace - Outfit Additions
Red flats - Me Too

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Outfit Catchup Again

Jen Recommends, I Deliver -- 3/24/14

I followed Jen's suggestion to try the cascading cardigan with skinny jeans and boots -- I used the second of the two cardigans and added a scarf (tied the ends together to make a long fauxfinity scarf).

I've also decided for my own documentation to list all the items in the outfits, indicating new ones with an asterisk.

*Blue cascading cardigan - Coldwater Creek
Geometric print scarf - Kohl's
Skinny jeans - thrifted, Old Navy
Black riding boots - Fitzwell

Animal Print and Maroon -- 3/25/14

I'm continuing to work up business casual outfits in advance of my job starting next week (eek!).  One of my dress-for-work mantras is "put a blazer on it" because that seems to make almost any outfit more office-environment compatible. 

Gotta see a close-up of these cool socks.  Grey-and-black leopard print + Grey-and-black stripes = awesomeness.

Animal print knit shirt - Jones New York
Maroon blazer - Lands End
Black pants - thrifted, JC Penney
Necklace - gift
*Grey and black striped socks - Sock Dreams
*Comfy black flats - Zappos

Pink for Spring -- 3/25/14

I was happy to find a couple of pastel colored pullover sweaters for the spring season.  Because it's not yet actually spring weatherwise, I paired this one with a fun striped cardigan.  (Yes, I love grey with stripes for some reason.)

Loved how this combination of sweaters with this necklace turned out.  Put this top half over grey pants and different shoes and it'd be a comfy but nice looking work outfit.

Apparently this outfit is brought to you by Kohl's....
*Pink lace pullover sweater -- Kohl's
*Grey striped cardigan -- thrifted, Kohl's
Jeans - Kohl's
Necklace - Kohl's
Shoes - Skechers

Caterpillars Don't But I Do -- 3/26/14

I liked the tall black boots so well that I decided to get a brown pair of the same kind while they were on sale.  The boots kind of look black in the picture, but they are brown -- albeit a dark brown. 

Man, wear riding boots with jeans and a blazer and it's very easy to get an equestrian vibe going even without the horsey scarf.

*Brown blazer -- thrifted, Ann Taylor
Green animal print scarf -- thrifted
Skinny jeans - thrifted, Old Navy
*Brown riding boots - Fitzwell

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Car Shopping

But before we get into that, I got an email that my new start date is Tues, April 8.  One more day to get my act together!

I also finally remembered, just before starting this post, that I needed to email my references and update them on the job situation.

So, OK -- onto cars!

As I think I've mentioned before, my job is not in Snow City, but in its sister city across the river, Coldtown.  There are buses that go between the two cities, but to get to my job in a residential neighborhood would require 2-3 buses and about an hour.  Perhaps the one hour commute wouldn't be so bad, but the idea of having 2-3 chances to miss the bus or the bus to run late and make me late for work just sounds terrible.  So I need to get a car to make this workable.

I haven't driven for more than about 15 minutes since we moved to Snow City coming on 3 years ago.  After my experience driving Robert's car (a hatchback) with its completely terrible visibility, my dad's discussion of the various safety technologies available, my impressively bad sense of direction, and this never-ending winter, it was not difficult to generate a list of requirements for a car:

* Four wheel or all wheel drive
* Navigation package
* Good visibility and/or (preferably and) blind spot detection
* The other driver assistance technologies (e.g., lane warning, rear view camera)
* Relatively small size (preferably a compact)

It is kind of amazing how difficult it is to get all those things in one car.

Almost all of the lower-price compact cars (the whole Honda Civic class) were out of contention because they don't have the blind spot detection or any of the other driver assist technologies and because they did not (if I recall correctly) have an AWD option.  The Subaru Impreza at least is reputed to have good visibility and comes with AWD standard, so it went on the list of cars to test drive.

Almost all of the lower-price midsized cars (the whole Honda Accord class) were out of contention because they do not offer an AWD option, though they did tend to have blind spot detection, etc.  However, the Ford Fusion does have the AWD option, so it also went on the list (despite being on the large size of the midsized car range).

There are several compact to midsized SUV/crossover vehicles that fit all my requirements except for not being, you know, a normal car.  Several went on the list, despite both me and Robert having doubts about my interest in this type of vehicle.

Once you get up into the luxury car lines, you get better (if obviously more expensive) options, and several of them went on the list.

The total list had 12 cars/SUVs on it.

On Saturday, Robert and I went car shopping so I could sit in and test drive some of these bad boys.  I chose to start with the two least expensive brands -- Ford and Subaru.

At the Ford dealership, I was able to narrow my interests, just from sitting in the cars, to the Ford Fusion.  I did not have high hopes for it because I do not like at all the way Robert's Ford drives -- there is a weird lagging when you hit the gas or brakes that was disconcerting.  As the sales guy explained, that's because it uses a dual clutch transmission to improve fuel efficiency.  The Ford Fusion I drove had a 2.0L engine, and it seemed OK in terms of power and responsiveness.  But the most striking thing about it was the ride -- very surprisingly smooth, like you're just gliding over the street instead of driving on it.  It did not drive big for me the way it (or its predecessor) did for Robert a couple years ago -- it was actually a really nice car to drive overall.  I thought it was rather pretty on the outside (the inside is very basic), too.  My basic take on it was that (aside from the size potentially making parking in our underground parking garage a bit difficult) it was a quite a decent car that I would be satisfied with.  All in all, a good first car to set a standard for comparison.  (Other than the Subarus, it was also the cheapest car on my list.)

At the Subaru dealership, I tried the Impreza first.  Yes, the visibility was good, just like in my late lamented 1997 Nissan Sentra.  Unfortunately, it drove in every other way pretty much like my 1997 Sentra, too.  Which is to say:  I could drive such a car, but I don't want to, and I really don't want to pay over $20,000 for the privilege.  Next we tried the Forester, an SUV/crossover which the sales guy was enthusiastic about (by his standards).  I cannot even remember the details well enough to describe the myraid ways in which I detested this vehicle.  Yes, it had good visibility, but it otherwise sucked to drive.  I do specifically remember feeling like I was in a 1930's movie in which our protagonist is acting out the fake-driving by twisting a huge steering wheel dramatically this way and that -- I could not believe how loose (is that the term?) the steering was.  It was so bad that I pulled into a church parking lot and let the sales guy drive it back.  Subaru = major FAIL.  This was too bad because these were the least expensive cars and the brand Subaru is by a large margin the most fun to say out loud.  (It is an amazingly satisfying set of vowels and consonants -- it has that same pattern that makes Maru's name so fun to say.)

At the Mercedes dealership, I quickly discovered that the new CLA is a no-go -- the swooshy coupe styling is not compatible with comfortably looking outside the car.  But I did test drive the C class (compact).  And it drove every bit as smoothly and comfortably as the Ford Fusion.  It really didn't feel like driving at all -- and that wasn't so bad for me, because I'm not much of a driver.  Unfortunately, with the V6 engine, this smooth ride meant that it was extremely easy to drive way too fast and not realize it -- as my dad put it, the "lack of tactile feedback" was problematic.  I also did not care for the interior of the car.  The one we looked at on the showroom floor was particularly hideous -- I swear that the Mercedes symbol in the middle of the steering wheel was 6" in diameter.  The one I test drove was a little better, but overall, I did not really care for how ostentatious it was about being a Mercedes.  (It had that flashy Rolex kind of luxury thing going that is not to my taste.)  This all being said, it was a really a nice car.  I just was having difficulty accepting the idea that it was $15,000 - $20,000 better than the Ford Fusion (even assuming superior quality in all kinds of ways that are not immediately noticeable).

By this point, it was almost 2:00, so we stopped for lunch.  Over lunch, I was like, OK, let's check out the BMW but that needs to be our last stop of the day.  I was feeling pretty wiped out.

But seeing the thing of beauty that is the BMW 328ix in red with the brown-and-black leather and wood trim got me pretty excited.  This particular car was fitted out with all the packages that I wanted (blind spot detection and all the other driver assist techs, navigation, winter package, etc.)  And it was fun to drive. 

And so I bought it. 

April Fool!  Do you really think I would spend that much money on a car?  My god, I don't even like driving, why do I need an ultimate driving machine?

Because if I'm going to be driving over an hour a day getting to and from work, it might as well be awesome.  I really did buy the car.  And with this purchase, I think we can say that Operation Cheap Ass has come to an end in a spectacular way.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Official

I went in and signed all my paperwork today, so it looks like I really do have a job starting April 7.

It was really nice that I've been practicing dressing for a business-casual environment (at least some days) because I was able to just reprise the "dressing like a boy" outfit this morning, adding a chunky silvery necklace because I roll like that.  One thing that was funny is that I only have one pair of tall black socks (i.e., socks that you don't have to worry that your shin shows when your pant leg rides up when you sit down -- aka trouser socks) and I wore them with the "boy" outfit last week and haven't washed them.  Fortunately my feet are big enough that I could borrow a pair of Robert's black socks (with an argyle pattern -- I can't quite tell if all of his socks are this same pattern, but the 4 or 5 that I picked up this morning were) to wear.  But I had already known this was a problem and ordered several pairs of socks from Sock Dreams, which arrived this evening.  (I got a couple fun pairs and a few more sedate pairs.  Once I decide between a couple of plain styles from wearing them, I'll need to order more.  Not having enough socks is not fun!)  I'll be featuring some of these fun socks in later posts.

Blue Pattern Mixing -- 3/18/14

I've had this pencil skirt for a long time; I think I purchased it last summer.  The sweater, however, just arrived this week from a major online sale.  I could not resist trying the two items together with navy leggings-as-tights and my black boots as a possible work ensemble.

New items:
**Navy and white polka dot pencil skirt from Target
**Blue and teal cardigan from Coldwater Creek

Try Again -- 3/19/14

My first plan for this outfit was to wear the pants (the second, slightly lighter "denim" colored ones) with a t-shirt topped by a coral and white striped shirt...which turned out to be just too small to be comfortable.  (I have a few woven shirts that I bought at Goodwill about 10 pounds ago that are borderline too small or frankly too small.)  So I switched to this one, which is borderline in the sense that it is fine on its own but is too tight with a knit shirt underneath.  So I used it as the bottom layer instead of the top layer and was pleased that the same scarf could be worn, just picking up the grey stripes in this shirt instead of the coral in the other one.  I managed 3 patterns here -- stripes, floral, and herringbone.  Nice.

It's better to be scrambling to switch up an outfit because one of the components is unworkable now than a couple weeks from now when I'm trying to get to work at some ungodly hour of the morning.  (I am still somewhat in denial about how my morning schedule is going to work, but I do know that my evening schedule will involve laying out the clothes I am wearing the next day and that are already vetted for cleanliness, fit, comfort, matching, etc.)

New item:
**White and grey striped popover shirt (thrifted)
**"Denim" trousers from Kohls

Cascading Brick Red Cardigan -- 3/20/14

I am kind of ridiculously pleased with this cardigan I got on major discount at the Coldwater Creek sale.  (Which is nice because I also bought it in a dark teal blue color.)   It's nice enough to wear in my new work environment (at least on Fridays; I haven't quite figured out where the line is between M-Th and F dressing) but worn with a pair of Dockers pants, a t-shirt, and flat shoes, it's sort of like PJs for work.  (It would also be suitable for putting a belt over the cardigan, but I was like, Screw that I'm going for ultra-comfy today.)

New item:
**Cascading brick red cardigan from Coldwater Creek

About a month ago, I signed up for StyleUp, which sends you an email every evening (for M-F) with a next-day weather forecast for your zip code and an outfit suggestion (that is theoretically appropriate for that weather, though there is some variability in how well it fits for Snow City and other northern regions, from the comments I've seen on the site).  It also lets you pick between 4 different styles (corporate professional, creative professional, conservative casual, trendy casual) based on your needs -- I switched from conservative casual to corporate professional when I got my job offer.  (Be aware also that these definitions are not terribly binding or exact, but they get you in the ballpark most of the time.)  I have not actually based any of my outfits on these email suggestions, though I have saved a few to my computer that I thought I might find inspirational later.

Well, yesterday I was sitting at my computer wearing the outfit above when I got an email with this suggestion:

Cascading red cardigan over a black/grey base of knit shirt and pants?  Check.  Robert pointed out that we even both have blonde hair.  (I actually thought the rolled pants with the ankle boots was both not my style and not as workplace appropriate as my slipper flats.  Oh, plus, mine has leopard print, and leopard print is like an automatic win, esp. with red -- but I have a pair of black ankle boots I could use to approximate this look more closely.)  So...I didn't really take their suggestion, but I did dress very similarly to their suggestion.  It was just a day for cascading red cardigans.