Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thrifting Walmart

You know that thing where you find yourself thinking "This is a bad idea" while you continue doing it, immediately proving to yourself the wisdom of that observation?

I felt that way while trying to drop a tiny 3" chain necklace extender into its tiny little drawstring bag in the bathroom over the sink.  Buh-bye, necklace extender!  It was great knowing you!  What's weird is that I didn't see it go down the drain or the water overflow hole -- it just totally disappeared as I dropped it.  It was like a strange optical illusion or magic trick.  It was kind of cool watching it happen, actually.  I felt around in the bag and then turned the thing completely inside out because how could it disappear that way?  But nope, gone.  Robert and I hunted for it on our hands and knees, and though we found a lot of blonde hair, there was no chain on our bathroom floor.

I ordered a replacement chain on Amazon but it hadn't arrived yet, like 2 days later, when I wanted to wear a necklace over a button up shirt and thick knit top (worn as a pullover sweater).  So I dug out my black embroidery thread (to match the black shirt) and made my own extender.  It worked just fine, though I am looking forward to the convenience of the chain extender.  Tying the thread to the necklace at 6:30 in the morning in the dark bedroom was not the kind of fashion challenge I enjoy.  But this was a pretty good "Be resourceful on the fly" effort.

Anyway, about that black shirt -- it's a Walmart shirt (George brand) that I bought at Goodwill.  Some people will advise you against buying inexpensive clothing (Walmart, Target, Old Navy, whatever) at the thrift store, saying you should focus on buying costlier/higher quality brands instead.  I sort of get that.  Certainly it is more satisfying to buy a Banana Republic skirt for $5 (like the microcheck one I wore the other day) than a Walmart shirt for $5 because wow, I saved a whole bunch of money compared to buying it new!  Yay me!  But even though it's cool to "save" money in this way (even if the savings are only theoretical because you wouldn't have bought the BR skirt new for $100 and it's not really "savings" if you're spending money), I think there's something off about the logic.  I mean, bottom line for me is, Is this item worth to me the $X they're asking for it?  And the lower the price tag is than the amount I think it's worth to me, the better.

Perhaps there is an assumption that cheap clothes will fall apart faster, so you won't get your money's worth out of the item even at thrift store prices.  OK, I can see that as an assumption, but it hasn't matched my experience where Walmart clothes are concerned.  My problem with Walmart clothes is that they never die!  Old Navy, though...yeah, those things do fall apart pretty easily.  Read the reviews of any given item at Old Navy's website and the complaints are pretty much "Why the hell do two ostensibly identical items in the same size have such completely different measurements?" (amen, sister) and "I loved it until I washed it once and it developed holes/unraveled/basically totally fell apart."

In any case, I was happy to (finally) get a black button up shirt that fit well and was in good condition for $5.

 Day 29: Never Before Worn -- Wednesday, 12/10/14

The only challenge for me here was picking out a never-worn item from all the candidates.  But red and black stripes?  Yes, please.

(Note: I wore sheer knee highs with this, not bare feet.  It is winter.)

*Red/black/tan/white striped pullover (thrifted, Kohls)
Black button up shirt (thrifted, Walmart)
Black on black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Black claw/tooth necklace (Outfit Additions)
Tan captoe flats by Clarks

And here's how the necklace looked with my embroidery thread extender in place.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Silent and Grey

Day 20: Monochrome -- Tuesday, 12/9/14

What could be better for a dark winter day when you simply cannot believe you have to go to work when you're this tired and omg it's only Tuesday....waaaaah! than wearing grey head to toe?  It's more professional looking and subtle than a "mood" t-shirt stating #Tired, and the pieces can be worn separately when for whatever odd reason you are not actually completely exhausted at work.  Bonus: you do not look like an idiot.

Holy shit!  On a whim, I searched for a t-shirt with #Tired on it, to see if such a dumb thing exists, and I didn't find one.  But I did find this.  Absolutely perfect.  (See, it's in French so it's chic!  And chic is chic because it's French!)  Also, that woman is so tired that she only put on half of her button up white shirt beneath the mood shirt!  Way to commit to the look, lady.  Personally, I would have worn a pair of army green camo pants with it ("fatigues") for a visual pun, but still, a solid A for Effort here.

My outfit is distinctly less remarkable.

OK, please be hella impressed that the grey t-shirt and grey cardigan are almost identical colors.  I was basically astonished to see that, given that greys are so freaking hard to match.

I could not completely decide whether I thought the maroon/navy/yellow striped ribbon along the edge of the cardigan looked a bit strange in the context of the monochromatic outfit or whether it added a pleasingly unexpected bit of contrast to the ensemble.  Also, against the solid grey background, my leopard scarf looks especially beige-grey (which it is) rather than true grey. 

Verdict:  Adequately expressed my mood (while meeting the requirements of the style challenge) without requiring me to buy a stencil set and fabric paint to create a word art T-shirt.

*Grey long-sleeved T (Kohls)
Charcoal grey cardigan (thrifted, Tommy Hilfiger)
Grey trousers (Kohls)
Grey leopard scarf (Target?)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles

P.S. Bonus points if you recognized the title of this post as a quote from the Morrissey song "Everyday is Like Sunday."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Revise and Resubmit

The paper from my first year project at My Masters University continues to wend its way through the review process.  We have a "revise and resubmit" without the need for additional studies -- just revisions to the discussion section, etc., to clarify what the hell we're getting at -- which is pretty much a totally great place for us to be with it. 

After I got off the phone with my parents earlier, I thought I'd come down, check my email real quick (delete the 50 buy-now-get-by-Christmas sales spiels), and play some Oblivion before bedtime, but instead I found the good news in an email from my advisor, so I spent the time reading and making comments on our current draft manuscript.  (I wanted to get something back to my co-authors right away so they can continue working away over the winter break.)  So, yeah, instead of playing a computer game, I was engaging in meta-metacognition (thinking about "thinking about thinking," which is what the paper is, at heart, about).  I still love that research, and think the findings were totally cool, but after a long day at work, hell, a long week at work....well, to quote my most commonly used Thieves Guild fence in Bruma, "I'm glad that's done.  I need a nap."

You know what else I need?  A vacation.  I started my job at the beginning of April and have taken a grand total of ONE (1) vacation day.  I am looking forward to starting a nice, long two week vacation this weekend!  Woo hoo, people. 

Over this winter break, Robert and I are going to be as happy as two rabbits with an abundance of carrot, if not as absolutely adorable. 

Throwback Thursday:  The World's Best Bunnies Chow DOWN with Joy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

World's Easiest Refashion

Day 26: Be Resourceful -- Monday, 12/8/14

Yep, this was one of the easiest refashions ever.  I liked a teal knit jacket I found at Goodwill but the huge plastic buttons looked odd and dated to me.  But instead of closing the jacket with buttonholes in the jacket fabric, there were fabric loops that stuck out along the edge of the jacket that went around the buttons.  (I forgot to take a before photo, and struck out finding a similar photo on the Internet, so I have to hope that description makes sense.)  I bought the jacket, and when I got home, I cut the fabric loops off and removed the buttons in about five minutes.  Viola!

I liked the opportunity to wear this new (thrifted) black/white microcheck skirt.  I love these tiny black/white patterns that look vaguely grey at a distance but with such texture and depth -- and that up close, have a "softened" black appearance that lends itself really well to subtle pattern mixing.  For example, with a floral scarf.

And I wore one of my newly rediscovered Walmart long-sleeved knit shirts with it -- another way to be resourceful.  

Be Resourceful summary:
- Thrifting items
- Refashioning items
- Shopping my closet

Black long-sleeved T (Walmart)
*Teal ribbed knit jacket (thrifted, Coldwater Creek, refashioned)
*Black microcheck skirt (thrifted, Banana Republic)
Black leggings
Tall black boots by Fitzwell
Teal/blue floral scarf (Target)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Green Leopards Live in the Forest

Living the Green -- Sunday, 12/7/14

One of the benefits to our ridiculously warm apartment is that on the weekends, when our neighbors are home blasting their heaters, I can often get away with wearing a single layer of clothing.  And a scarf.  Because: scarf.

In addition to silly lapin swag, I also ordered myself some new long-sleeved knit shirts from Kohls and Macy's for my birthday.  I have often bought Lands End, but for some reason, they didn't have the colors I wanted in my preferred style from them.  But luckily, Kohls and Macy's came through with some thick knit T-shirts in a range of colors.  (I love the thin, lightweight knits made with modal fabric for sleeping in, but have a strong preference for thick knits for normal shirts -- I like the added structure that the thicker knits offer.)

Today I'm wearing the "spruce night" shade of this v-necked Karen Scott shirt from Macy's.   I bought a size large and it fit well.  Oddly, I also bought what I thought was the same shirt from the description, only with a scoop neck, and it was a tad too small.  (I bought two Vs and two scoops, and both Vs fit and both scoops were too small -- due to this inconsistency, I assume it's something to do with the actual styles themselves and not that the shirts were different only because of sloppy sizing a la Old Navy.)  For $10.98 minus whatever amount the sale is on any given day at Macy's (never shop at Macy's without looking for a coupon/sales code), I can recommend it.

Also, in the process of trying on clothes to find things to donate to Goodwill prior to our move next month, I found that I have several old long-sleeved Walmart knit shirts that I thought were too small and/or clingy and/or old and worn out to wear by themselves that actually look just fine.  Two cheers for shopping the closet.  Better yet, I did not duplicate the colors of the old shirts when I bought the new ones.  Perhaps at some level, I remembered that I had red, maroon, and blue long-sleeved T-shirts, even though I hadn't been wearing them.  Sometimes keeping old stuff in your closet screws you up because you have a mental check mark next to Clothing Item X and don't buy another one, but when you want to wear X, you look at it and remember, Oh yeah, this item isn't workable after all.  But in this case, my laziness about going through my closet might have helped me.  Of course, better still is being conscientious about trying on the clothes from your closet regularly so you remember what you have and how it fits.  I could have been wearing that blue shirt all along!

*Forest green long-sleeved T (Macy's)
Green leopard scarf (thrifted)
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Target)
Light brown ankle boots by Easy Spirit

Sunday, December 14, 2014

In Which I Embrace a Trend Unexpectedly

Feeling French -- Saturday, 12/6/14

It absolutely boggles my mind, the ubiquity of French-themed "fashion" T-shirts in the US marketplace.  I don't mean tourist souvenir type T-shirts, but trendy T-shirts for daily wear.  It's like, French women are famously fashionable, so let's all wear a shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it...

...or some French words...

or hell yeah, a drawing of a fashionable French woman (who is not wearing a French-themed T-shirt, mai oui).  Indeed, the skinny French woman design has risen to the level of plus-size fashion trope.  (I have tried so hard several times to re-find the hilarious website where I read about plus-size fashion cliches but can't. Boo!)

I am distinctly not a fan of the weird stand-alone word(s) on clothing thing, whether it's the obnoxious Pink/Juicy/etc. sweatpants ass or the slightly more grown up "mood" words on shirts and sweaters.

It probably doesn't help that an accurate mood shirt for me would spend 80% of the time declaring: No Fucking Way, What Fresh Hell?, or Hulk Smash.  About 15% of the time, it would read: BUNNIES! LOVE!

But when I was perusing the 25% off Style & Co. clothing sale at Macys.com on Thanksgiving, I found the perfect French themed shirt.  No, it did not say "MERDE."  It said:

Yep, a disapproving lop in a beret.  For $8.50.  No words needed, French or otherwise -- that grumpy face transcends verbal language.

Now they just need to complete their "rabbits in hats" clothing line.  May I suggest a Rhinelander in a Tyrolean hat?  A rex in a fedora?  A Dutch in one of those silly white bonnets?  A Xmas themed disapproving rabbit in a Santa hat, with optional wording: "Bah, humbun"?

*Beret bunny T-shirt (Macy's)
Navy cardigan (Kohls)
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Target)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In the Navy (Boots)

Day 23: Buttoned Up Statement -- Friday, 12/5/14

What the hell is going on with 5 day work weeks?  I was perfectly content working 3 days the previous week.  This 5 day week thing is just tough!  I guess it's good that I'm so close to taking my Christmas vacation and not going to work at all for two weeks straight.

When I saw that this challenge called for a statement necklace (worn on top of a button up shirt), I immediately picked the blue and green and pearly one from Target that I've only worn once so far but totally love.  The rest of the outfit was obvious from there.  The only question was whether to wear denim trousers or a denim skirt for a Friday outfit, and because my denim skirt hasn't seen any love this winter, I went that route.  All the better to show off my pretty navy boots, my dear!

*Light blue button up shirt (thrifted, Kohls)
Blue polka dot blazer (Target)
Denim skirt (thrifted)
Navy leggings
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles
Blue/green/pearl necklace (Target)

Verdict:  I think this outfit....wait, have I got this right?  I went five days in a row, in the Snow City winter, without wearing a scarf to work?  (Technically, I did wear a scarf to work, and home from work also -- a black fleece scarf from Lands End to match the fleece hat and gloves I've been wearing with my excellent super-long 100% wool vintage coat that I just realized last week has a velvet collar, so pretty).  Is this a sign of the apocalypse?  Or global warming?   Or a natural consequence of wearing so many shirts with collars that I want to show?  Next week has got to be all about the scarves, people.  Of course, it'll probably be like 50 degrees next week, but that's OK, I've demonstrated that I'm happy to wear a scarf in warm weather, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Whistler's Rabbit

Jess at Animated Cardigan is awesome, and I am grateful to her this week for this post.  Art, bunnies, and Christmas -- an irresistible combination.

Monday, December 8, 2014

These Boots are Not Particularly Made For Walking But Whatever

Personal Style Challenge: Feminine + Masculine Revisited, with Mom Inspired Olive + Pink -- Thursday, 12/4/14

Whew.  OK, that was a challenging challenge name.

This week I was all over the button up (up! up, I tell you!) shirt with wool pullover sweater idea, but I controlled myself and only wore two variants on the theme -- and made them into two personal style challenges because this combination was not part of the 31 Days, 31 Ways challenge (although a similar challenge was, as you will see in Friday's outfit).  Over the weekend, I'd been looking at the weather forecast -- no snow, but cold -- with a bit of dread and something about a wool pullover seemed more appealing than a cardigan.  (Perhaps that something is the fact that it automatically covers the entire front of your body with a layer of wool?)

I think I've only worn this particular sweater once, and the outfit was a total fail for me -- too dowdy and blah.  This time, I decided to wear it with my recently purchased olive pants (the sweater has olive stripes) but the overall look, while much better than the other one, was still very dark and unexciting.  Then I remembered Mom's suggestion that olive and pink are a great combination and put a pink button up shirt underneath.  Add a sparkly pink necklace for extra girly brightness and the drabness is defeated!  (My new maroon ankle boots have also supplanted the middle-aged-looking loafers I wore last time -- those were a thrift store purchase that is going back to the thrift store for a new owner who does not need modern kicks to escape complete frump-out...or who enjoys pairing modern ensembles with old-fashioned shoes...or who flat out embraces the frump for that matter).

Pink button up shirt (thrifted, Liz Claiborne)
Maroon/grey/olive striped wool sweater (thrifted, Target)
Olive pants (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Maroon ankle boots by Dolce Vita
Pink "floral" necklace (Target)

Verdict:  Yes, this sweater can be saved!  Also, these boots are the bomb.  I really liked wearing them with the wide leg pants.

I'm not sure why the reviews -- all four of them, so beware small sample size -- are so split between the love 'em and hate 'em crowds.  Maybe the taupe is not as nice looking as the eggplant?  I agree that they don't have a lot of cushioning, so I wouldn't wear them to walk any distance, but they're very comfortable for wearing at work.

My review: "I spent all day at work sitting on my ass, working in SPSS and Excel on my computer, and my feet were perfectly content to rest there, looking awesome, in these boots.  Occasionally I walked for a minute to the bathroom and back, and my feet were cool with that.  Then I changed into snow boots to walk out to my car and drive home.  I got home, put these boots back on, and sat in my comfy chair while my Eggman cooked me scrambled eggs and brought them to me to eat.  After dinner, I sat at my computer all evening playing games and writing blog posts, and my feet were like, Rock on, man.  I thought about wearing the boots to bed but realized -- oh my god, how ridiculous, my feet will get way too hot wearing boots under my blankets!  So I didn't.  And my feet thanked me for it by not getting all sweaty and gross."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Winterization Continues

Day 19: A Specific New Spin on an Old Favorite Look -- Wednesday, 12/3/14

When I saw this prompt, I knew that I wanted to wear a winterized version of this blouse and skirt combo (that I wore in September).  I really loved how well the two pieces went together.


Let's start with the obvious -- add black leggings/tights and tall black boots.  Now add a scarf...oh, already have a scarf (and I was not yet clued into the double scarf idea), so switch it out for a necklace instead.  And naturally I have to wear a cardigan or jacket, so this teal waterfall cardigan is a nice addition.  Finally, it's time to test out the Thermaskin camisole I bought from Lands End (for $11 on sale) with the hopes of giving myself a little bit more warmth on top without adding more outer layers/bulk.


Black fold pencil skirt (JCP)
Teal drape cardigan (Coldwater Creek)
Black/teal/yellow floral top (thrifted, Kohls)
Black leggings (Target)
Black tall boots by Fitzwell
Black/white floral necklace (Kohls?)

Verdict:  I think the drapey cardigan worked well with a pencil skirt, and though the black tights/boots cannot be as perfect a complement as the mustard flats, they are a satisfying way to make the skirt wearable into winter (leggings + tall boots + socks = warm!).  I declare this outfit a success.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Boy Meets Girl (Clothing)

Day 30: Masculine + Feminine Pieces -- Tuesday, 12/2/14

I don't think I've really ever purposely put together an outfit with this type of contrast, but it was very easy to do.  Add a girly light pink lace-front sweater and some pearls to black pants, black oxford shoes, and a blazer and you're good to go.

Pink lace-front sweater (Kohls)
Black on black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Black and white windowpane blazer (thrifted, Target)
Double strand pearls (Macy's)
Black oxfords (thrifted, Munro American)

I think these shoes are one of my favorite Goodwill finds ever.  They are comfortable, high quality, and have a great masculine look, but are a bit more interesting than your standard oxfords because the top of the shoe is suede while the rest is leather.  Nice and subtle.

Verdict:  Masculine + feminine pieces is a good formula.  Will do again.

Of course, one thing thinking about "masculine" and "feminine" with respect to clothing brings to mind is how much more strongly gendered female clothing is than male clothing, and how much more acceptable it is for a woman to "dress like a man" than a man to "dress like a woman."  I guess it makes sense that it would be acceptable/understandable for women to wear masculine clothing, especially in the workplace, as they attempt to take on the positive qualities (tough, smart, level-headed, business-like, strong) of men, but the idea of a man wanting to seem more like a woman (soft, emotional, weak, vulnerable) by wearing feminine clothing?  Ridiculous!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend

OOPS.  I posted in the incorrect order, so I guess tonight is a two-post night.


My Thanksgiving weekend consisted of pumpkin cheesecake and Oblivion for the most part.  Not a standard holiday experience, to be sure, but it was great.  Oh, and I also did some Black Thursday/Friday online shopping, so that helps establish my bona fides as a real American.  I also spent time sitting in my comfy chair getting my butt kicked at Words With Friends by my mom (the usual) and reading the gargantuan Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett, the third book in the American trilogy.  So far, it's maintaining the quality of the previous two books and is a very interesting read.  (I think it helps that when he changes books, he skips ahead about 15-20 years and introduces us to the next generation of the families on which he's focusing.  That approach must make it easier to keep the story new and engaging than trying to write a gazillion and a half pages on the same people.)

Putting Yet More Birds On It -- Saturday, 11/29/14

Another great part of the weekend was wearing this new bird shirt that I bought at Kohls recently. They look like barn swallows to me.  (I wore it like this for about 2 hours before I added a navy cardigan to hold up to the 63 degree temperature in my office.)

*Blue bird (swallow) knit top (Kohls)
Jeans (thrifted, Target)
Navy scarf (Target)
Blue leopard shoes (6pm)

Like Robert?

Book Review:  Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

5 stars

If you have any interest in traditional fantasy, I highly recommend this book.  It's a sort of high fantasy caper novel with a hint of political intrigue and a whole delightful heaping portion of magic-fueled martial arts (the comparison to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is inevitable).  One of the most striking things about it to me was how well-developed the magic system is -- it felt novel and well-thought-out.  I am glad that we got to watch as the female lead (a strong female character who does not come across as the standard "strong female character" that has plagued way too many otherwise enjoyable fantasy series of late, though in general character development is not a strong point of this book) learned how to use her powers -- her instructor's explanations were interesting and satisfying.

This is the first book in a series, and I am eager to read more of it.  If the second book is as good as this one, I'll be happy.

Personal Style Challenge: Like Robert -- Monday, 12/1/14

Even though Robert has branched out significantly from his old uniform, I still associate him with red and blue -- especially stripes, of course, but he actually doesn't own a red and blue striped shirt anymore. He does, however, own a red and blue check shirt that I love on him, so I decided to see if I could wear it to work.  And I did.  The sweater rode up some in this photo (grr) but I did leave a bit of the tail sticking out on purpose.  I don't know why, but I sorta like the casual vibe of that look.  One could argue it doesn't do my hips any favors, but my hips are so awesome they don't need favors from anybody or anything.

Robert's blue and red check button up (Target)
Navy wool pullover (thrifted, Ralph Lauren)
Navy Dockers
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles
Bulbous silver tone necklace (JNY)

Verdict:  I enjoyed wearing this Robert shirt, and the wool sweater was appropriately warm for a day with a high of 8 degrees.

And to be perfectly clear, I like Robert every single day.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dressed for the Holiday...or Not

Day 15: Color Blocked -- Wednesday, 11/26/14

There is nothing that screams "day before Thanksgiving," while it's snowing outside, like the bright, spring-like hues of pink and teal, right?  Right?!?!

Pink/green/purple/white striped button up shirt (thrifted, Bass)
*Pink sweater vest (thrifted, Fieldgear)
*Dark teal pencil skirt (JCP)
Grey tights (Kohls)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles

Verdict: I wish I'd worn a chunky silver tone necklace with this but otherwise, it was fabulous.  The bright pink color was very cheery on a cold, snowy day, and despite the fact that my arms were only covered with a thin layer of cotton, I didn't get cold wearing it (as long as I kept my heating pad turned on).  These tights are Apt 9 brand, if I recall correctly, and I love how they look.  They are not as opaque as the Spanx and have a different color and texture -- darker and more heathery.  But alas, they are also not as warm as the Spanx.  I am in the market for fleece-lined tights now, and perhaps next weekend I will check out the selection of $4/pair fleece-lined tights at Walmart.  (They were sold out online.  Of course, Walmart's online shopping is pretty much a joke.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scarfing Down

Day 18: Add a Scarf -- Tuesday, 11/25/14

The maniacal laughter you hear is me thinking of adding a scarf to an outfit as a challenge.  One of the best things about living in the frozen north is that I can wear scarves year-round, and I have the collection that befits such a useful and versatile outfit staple.  Today's outfit features a new (to me) scarf that I recently bought at Goodwill.  It also features a beloved color combination -- red, black, and white.  Yes!  Love!  I liked it so much I didn't even care that I wore the herringbone jacket to work two weeks in a row.

Black and white herringbone blazer (thrifted, Studio 1940 [?])
*Red corduroy skirt (thrifted, H&M, new with tags) -- I really have trouble remembering that corduroy start with "cord" even though pants made of out this material are often called "cords"
Black knit top (thrifted, Liz Claiborne)
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman
*White/red/black plaid scarf (thrifted)

Verdict:  The thick tights and leggings from Spanx are pretty warm -- certainly warm enough indoors (even if my office is on the chilly side) when it's in the upper 20's outside.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Button Ups

Thank you, thank you to this blogger for making me not feel like I am the only person in the world who calls shirts that button up the front "button up" shirts and not "button down" shirts (which I would only use for e.g., old-school oxford shirts with button down collars).

My favorite ways to wear a button up shirt are:
1) With a sweater vest
2) With a pullover sweater
3) With a cardigan or blazer (tied)
4) Under a sleeveless dress

Or, you know, under an Alice in Wonderland t-shirt worn as a vest with a blazer on top!

Sparkly Goodness

For the short Thanksgiving work week, I decided to start making winter compatible skirts outfits.  

Day 8: Sparkle and Shine for Day -- Monday, 11/24/14

This is a winterized version of an outfit I had put together a couple weeks earlier -- before it got so cold (high temp 27 degrees) and before I determined that I really didn't care for the way that particular grey sweater looked on me (a peplum that had an oddly semi-empire style waist).  I swapped the grey leopard camisole and grey sweater for a grey t-shirt and grey leopard jacket, and the outfit was both more weather-appropriate and looked better.  Can't say fairer than that.

The jacket has some subtle silver metallic threads, and it was cool when I went through my scarf collection and realized the one that has pink and black in it also has silver metallic threads.  Some things are just meant to be.  Double metallic thread = sparkle and shine in my book.  So done and done.

Grey leopard jacket (thrifted, Macy's)
*Burgundy pencil skirt (Nordstrom) -- this is the Halogen seamed pencil skirt that is the love of everyone on the Interwebs; also note, it's not the same color as my hot pink skirt from JCP (a skirt that gets some love in that second link, too, and I could not agree more)
*Grey T (Kohls)
Black/pink metallic thread scarf (Target, I think)
Grey leggings (Kohls)
*Tall grey boots by LifeStrider (Zappos)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Lagging Indicator of the Weather

Falling -- Saturday, 11/22/14

After trying several ideas trying to make my (lightweight) bird cardigan work for the cold day despite not having a long-sleeved knit shirt in a coordinating color, and realizing that the sleeves are too tight for most long-sleeved shirts to work underneath anyway, I had to face the fact that my beloved bird cardigan is a spring/summer/fall sweater for Snow City.

As part of this doomed outfit creation attempt, I discovered that I really do have too high a short-sleeved to long-sleeved ratio in my closet, esp. for knit shirts.  For example, I have 3 brown short-sleeved knit shirts, but no long-sleeved ones -- I bought two of them at Goodwill in the Snow City area, suggesting that perhaps other people here have the same problem.

So I gave the bird cardigan idea up and wore this very fall-looking outfit.

White long-sleeved T (Walmart)
*Olive cable-knit cardigan (thrifted, Eddie Bauer)
Straight-legged jeans (Kohls)
*Tan ankle boots by Easy Spirit (Nordstrom)
*Green/brown scarf (Kohls)

Everybody else has been wearing fall colors, etc., for weeks now, but I wait until it's basically winter (by temperature if not by calendar) to start doing so.  You might have noticed that this tendency to dress for last month (or earlier) is not uncommon for me.  Robert described me as a "lagging indicator of the weather."  So about the time I have started wearing seriously winterized outfits, you can be assured that spring in Snow City is around the corner (or has already arrived -- I wore tights and tall boots into May last year).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Awesome Power

Book Review: Deadline by John Sandford

3.5 stars

I really understand if you think that rednecks are a southern phenomenon, but allow the Virgil Flowers novels by John Sandford demonstrate to you otherwise.  Rural Minnesota has a ton of them.  I liked this book, but I think part of it was that there was some alternative person in my head (a man) who really liked it while I personally thought it was just okay (though I will say that the school board conspiracy aspect was hilarious and the anti-dog-napper crusaders were well-played).  It was very well done, and I did enjoy reading it, but it's just not quite to my taste...a little too folksy and colorful and quirky and man-centric (that last one is probably the main problem--I feel strongly that this is a book written by a man for men).  The Virgil Flowers series of books (this is only the second one I've read, so I'm extrapolating) are not my thing in a similar way that Elmore Leonard books are not my thing.

Speaking of deadlines...Friday was my deadline for a project that was horrible and stressful all week from a combination of network issues slowing me down to a crawl (I mostly worked on my local hard drive, but getting the files I needed to use off the server was a pain) and people not finishing their parts of the work soon enough.  I was really worried that I'd have to work on the weekend, and for a person who was only (barely) getting through the week by thinking of the glorious work-free Saturday and Sunday to come, that was painful and filled me with dread.  On Friday, I needed something to keep me from killing everyone in the world in a murderous rage. 

So...bunnies, of course.

Day 25: Dressed Down -- Friday, 11/21/14

I took casual Friday a step more casual than usual with my (excellent) Watership Down t-shirt, trouser jeans, and a cardigan made from sweatshirt-like material.  And snazzy boots.  Wearing bunnies cheered me up!  And because school wasn't in session, the network was running at its normal pace, so I was finally able to power through the work at a reasonable speed and finish the project before 4 p.m.!  I felt really elated when I left work at 4:30...until I got to my car (which I had to park at the very farthest end of the parking lot because there was a professional development training session with a lot of people who usually work somewhere else in attendance) and tried to open the door and nothing happened.  What?  I tried again.  Oh shit.  I forgot my purse in my desk again.  But even having to tromp all the way back across the parking lot and upstairs and back to the end of the lot again in the below 10 degree weather was not enough of an annoyance to entirely dim my satisfaction with the fact that I was not working over the weekend.  (My boss is, because he's the one who has to review the work before it's sent on Monday, but that's not my problem.)

Watership Down t-shirt (Out of Print)
Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
*Navy/blue sweatshirt cardigan (thrifted, Rafaella)
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles (Zappos)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now For Something That Looks Different

Book Review: Your Face in Mine by Jess Row

3.5 stars

You're walking down the street of your hometown, where you have returned after a crushing personal tragedy only to have your unhappiness compounded by a depressing professional calamity, and you see a familiar-seeming man on the street.  You rack your brain, trying to think of a black man you know well enough that he would look this familiar to you, and you come up empty.  But when he gets closer, he's a high school friend who played in a band with you for a couple of years...your friend who was white (with some Jewish ancestry).  WTF?  Your friend explains to you that he's had racial reassignment surgery (a very cutting edge, secret series of operations in southeast Asia) and is now married to a black woman and living as a black man.  But he wants to go public with his story, and he wants you (conveniently now otherwise unemployed) to help him craft the narrative.

This is a crazy-promising premise for a novel, no?  And it starts out really good.  And then at some point, it just gets kind of bogged down, and then it turns weird.  Not like eerie-spooky weird, just like, wait, the characters are doing what now?  Where did that come from?  And the pay off I had been so curious about (e.g., what will your friend's wife do when she finds out?) never comes.  Instead we get a kind of implausible, meh ending.  It was hitting 2 star level by the very end.  This is too bad because the central idea was so smart and interesting.

I did not make any radical changes like that for my outfit, but I did try a personal style challenge that pushed me to do something different that's a bit outside my comfort zone.

Personal Style Challenge:  Ankle Pants with Ankle Boots -- Thursday, 11/20/14

Everybody else in the world is wearing this combination, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I had a couple of new items that came together very easily into an outfit.  It was comfortable and flattering enough.  (Yes, I wore black trouser socks under those boots.  I was not about to do the stylish "leave an inch of bare ankle poking out above your boots" thing during the 8-15 degree F days.)

And it featured a new scarf with pretty birds on it!

It's hard to go wrong with a bird scarf and a pair of bad-ass maroon boots.

White long-sleeved T (Lands End)
Black ankle pants (thrifted, Eileen Fisher)
Maroon cascade cardigan (Coldwater Creek)
*Maroon ankle boots by Dolce Vita (Nordstrom)
*Beige bird scarf (Kohls)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All Mixed Up

Last week was such a hard week.  I was tired and headachy and going bonkers at work with slow-as-frozen-molasses network issues while running up against a deadline.  Wednesday was a want-to-cry kind of day when I realized I had left my caffeinated tea at home (which I was planning to use for my migraine) AND the insulated mug I use to drink my decaffeinated tea.  And my ulcer was bothering me so I didn't want to risk trying coffee as my caffeine dose.  I thought I might have caffeinated tea bags at work, but I didn't.  (Note: I do now, as well as my grumpy/angry Sylvester the Cat mug.)  Then when I left work at the end of the day (FINALLY), I realized about the time the elevator reached the ground floor that I'd left my purse upstairs in my desk.  It was the Grumps.

But what is not hard?  Mixing stripes, leopard, and herringbone patterns!

Day 16: Pattern Mix #2 -- Wednesday, 11/19/14

This one is pretty subtle by my standards, but I liked it a lot.  It was even warm enough at times during the day to leave off the jacket.  (I'm loving the "happiness is a warm bun" approach of sitting on a heating pad for extra warmth in my office.)

*Black and white striped button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy)
*Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft)
Black pants (thrifted, Macy's)
Gold "shelled pea" necklace (Target)
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks
Black and white herringbone blazer (thrifted, Studio 1940)--I'm not familiar with this brand, but this blazer is da bomb

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dressing Up in Black

Book Review: The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

4 stars

I only recently became aware of these books that are a continuation of the Peter Wimsey mystery novels.  OK, I've read a few of the original Sayers novels, but I was never a huge Peter Wimsey fan and do not really remember them well enough to assess how well Walsh's books stand up against them.  So my review is based on the book in itself and not a comparison to the original stories.

I'm a bit of a sucker for murder mysteries set in academia (I am very sad that I have only one of the excellent Inspector Lewis TV mysteries, a police procedural set in Oxford, to watch!) and that's what attracted me to this book.  I was a bit surprised by how much it felt like "Inspector Barnaby, Peer of the Realm, Goes to Oxford in 1952," with people dying left and right and our investigators nonchalantly out of their depth much of the time.  And there was this weird detective-on-vacation thing going on: Hey, somebody just died...look, it's a gorgeous day to go punting, have lunch at a lovely little inn, and then go see some old building!  Fundamentally, the story was ludicrous, but it was entertaining.

I've heard that graduate school in the UK is very easy compared to the US, and here's an extreme example (easy if you have money, of course):

     "I didn't know you had an MA," Paul [Harriet's son] said.

     "You just leave your name on the books, and pay the fees for five years, and then your BA becomes an MA," Harriet admitted.

The best lines in the book occur when Peter asks Harriet:

     "Can I go haring around after bodies without shaving first?" he asked her.

     "Certainly not, Peter," she said. "There is an implication of inattention in an unshaven man that gives the impression of intellectual weakness."

I would give them kudos for the "haring" term but at one point this evil couple eat roast r***** at one of the myriad restaurants they visit during their investigation-vacation. THUMP!

Day 12: Play Dress Up -- Tuesday, 11/18/14

I did not think wearing a black academic gown a la an Oxford don would be appropriate for work, but I did base my outfit on the color black.  My initial version of this outfit used a sleeveless black dress and tights instead of the sweater and pants, but the onslaught of winter made my original version unworkable.  But we will not compare this new version to the original but will instead examine it on its own merits.  It's not really in seasonally appropriate colors, but I didn't want to wait until spring, and a tuxedo jacket is about as dressy an item as I want to wear to work.  One of my co-workers liked its spring/summer quality -- I suppose it did bring a bit of brightness to a dreary day.

Black sweater (thrifted, Liz Claiborne)
Black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
*Black/floral "Monet" print tuxedo jacket (thrifted, Target) -- the print just reminds me so strongly of a Monet painting
Purple gumdrop necklace (Target)
Black buckle flats by Me Too

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not a One Hit Wonder

Book Review:  City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

4.5 stars

This is the sequel to City of Dark Magic, and it avoids the sophomore slump problem that sometimes plagues sequels (I am looking at you, Authority!).  For some reason, I was kind of not into the book for about the first third, but I think it was more about me and my mood at the time than anything wrong with the book.  It was reasonably well-paced and set up the story for the rest of the book in an unobjectionable way, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Then one day I picked it up and started liking it a lot -- go figure.

I want to share with you my favorite lines from the book (don't worry -- it doesn't ruin anything for you if you decide to read the book, and they stand alone just fine if you don't).  One of the characters is a 13 year old blind musical prodigy (who is suffering from a serious illness) who has a dog:

        "Boris. Yoga mat," she said in a loud, firm voice.

        She listened to the sound of her elderly mastiff rising, heard the jingle of his collar make its way to the corner of the room, then cross to her.  Boris nudged her knee and deposited his favorite chew toy, a mangled stuffed lion missing its tail, at her feet.

        "Good boy," said Pols.  Her dog was becoming nearly as deaf as she was blind.  He was also pretty blind.  It was important to consider his feelings, though, and be encouraging.  Boris may not be able to see her, or hear her, but he knew she wanted something, and he had offered her the best thing he possessed.

OK, I'm not much of a dog person, but damn.

City of Lost Dreams demonstrates that City of Dark Magic was not a one hit wonder from the writing team who call themselves Magnus Flyte.  Monday's outfit demonstrated (to my satisfaction) that my brown-and-black vaguely-leopard-print cardigan-jacket-thingy wasn't a one hit wonder either.

Day 24: One Hit Wonder -- Monday, 11/17/14

She defines a one hit wonder as "an item you've only worn one way before."  I think maybe I've only worn this cardigan one time before, so it probably counts as a one hit wonder.  I like it and want to wear it more, so I decided to give it another try in an outfit combining black and brown, which is not something I usually do.  One reason I haven't worn it much is that it is somewhat heavy but it has 3/4 length sleeves -- awkward!  If its cool enough to wear this weight of sweater, it's probably cool enough to wear long sleeves.  But I decided, Fuck it, I'll just wear it with long sleeves in a similar color (so the sticking out sleeves are not crazy-obvious and contrasting).  I was satisfied with the effect and amused to note that one of the women in the HR department had done the same thing with her heavy 3/4 length sleeve sweater.  I don't know if the long-sleeved shirt under 3/4 length sleeve sweater is a thing or not, but it seems like a workable solution to the problem.

I took the photo wearing the brown weather-proof loafers that I wore to work, but I changed into my brown flats when I got there.  (Ever since it snowed, I've been wearing weather-proof shoes/boots to work and changing into my real shoes inside the office.  The snow/slush/ice/sand/salt/mud mix o' nasty in the parking lot is not nice to shoes.)  Damn, this photo doesn't show you much, does it?  Well, I wore pants and a top and they were both dark colors and there is a necklace that is flashing a bit of bright metal.

Black lace-edged knit top (thrifted, Coldwater Creek) -- you can't really tell here, but I liked how the lace peeked out from under the sweater, it added a nice bit of texture and perhaps made the whole "my shirt is sticking out from under this sweater in multiple places" thing seem more intentional
Black/brown leopard-esque cardigan-jacket (thrifted, Josephine Chaus)
Brown cotton pants (thrifted, Nine & Company)
Black tooth/claw necklace (Outfit Additions)
Brown weather-proof loafers (Lands End)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Staying Warm in 90s Style Jeans

Even though my Skyrim office is now my Oblivion office, it's not as much warmer here as you might expect.  Winter has set in completely in Snow City.  So for a Sunday of Oblivion playing, I thought my puffy leopard vest was just the thing with jeans and a comfy shirt.

Day 16:  Pattern Mix -- Sunday, 11/16/14

I know, a normal person would wear a solid shirt with a leopard vest, but I was excited to wear my new striped shirt.  I love stripes, and I have a couple of striped shirts/sweaters, but I did not have any plain black-and-white striped knit shirts.  (This is not something that I ever come across at Goodwill.)  So over the weekend, I went to Kohls and found two excellent ones.  

I also wanted to wear my new black ankle boots, part of my haul from the Nordstrom sale.  And to show them off to best effect, I pegged my straight-legged jeans like it's 1992.  OK, I admit, I did not actually wear my jeans like this all day -- I did it for the amusement value in the photo (and, yes, to expose the boots in the photo).  I hope you are properly entertained/appalled by this time warp fashion.

A detail about this shirt that I love, which is not visible with the vest, is its cool quilted shoulders!

I am happy to have a black-and-white striped knit shirt in my wardrobe.  (I actually do have a short-sleeved one from Walmart that I've had forever, but the season in which short sleeve shirts make a serious return to relevance is months away.  One thing I have noticed is that despite living in Snow City, I still automatically gravitate toward short sleeved shirts.  They feel the most flexible and adaptable -- hey, you can always add a cardigan or jacket!  Wait, I need to add a cardigan or jacket to a long-sleeved shirt or sweater anyway because it's like 0 degrees outside!  Damn! -- but they are definitely of limited value in my current situation.)

*Black-and-white striped top with quilted shoulders (Kohls)
Leopard puffy vest (Macy's)
Straight-legged jeans (Kohls)
*Black pointy-toed ankle boots by Sam Edelman (Nordstrom)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sinus Infection Blues

Day 13: Old Faithful (With a Twist) -- Friday, 11/14/14

Well, after a week of fighting off some kind of illness, I woke up during the night with a fever and other sinus infection symptoms and decided that I wasn't going to go to work.  Luckily, my casual Friday outfit worked just fine for feeling warm and comfy on a puny day.

I have worn this scarf and pants combo before, but decided to make it winter-friendly by upgrading the knit shirt to a sweater (with a T-shirt layered under it) and the flats to socks and ankle boots.

Robert could not resist making the "Feeling blue?" joke, and who can blame him.  This is a majorly blue outfit.  If I were a rabbit, I'd be Blue Bunny.

Blue pullover sweater (thrifted, Studio Works)
Blue Dockers pants
Blue "tie-dye" scarf (Kohls)
*Navy ankle boots by Seychelles

Between two recent Zappos and Nordstrom (anniversary sale) orders, I finally have a boot collection suited to a woman who lives somewhere that has winter for 6 months of the year.  You've seen the grey and navy ankle boots now.  I plan to get the others into the rotation ASAP for your viewing pleasure (and for the happiness of my feet).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


 Book Review:  The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

4 stars

A historical mystery/romance that's a little bit sexy and a lot unexpected.  It's Britain in 1922, but this is not Downtown Abbey.  An older woman (an uber-snob) and her 26-year-old daughter (a snob-in-training) are trying desperately to keep a foothold in the privileged, moneyed, nice-house-owning class after all their men have died -- the sons in the war, Dad of something I don't remember, but which should be embarrassment over having lost all the family money to a series of terrible, stupid investments. They have already given up their servants (Mom hates seeing her daughter play charwoman and yet, what the fuck else is she supposed to do? Let them live in squalor?  Daughter's job is to do all the dirty work around the house, try to stretch too little money across too many bills, etc., while protecting Mom's delicate sensibilities and outrageous delusions) and a great deal of their ability to keep their crumbling house in a respectable neighborhood of London warm and well-lit, so now they are reduced to taking in lodgers, an outgoing young clerk and his wife.  Intrigue ensues.

Now for an unexpected (but not sexy) work outfit...

Day 17: Layered Necklace -- Thursday, 11/13/14

I wear some necklaces with built-in layers, but I haven't tried layering my own.  I was iffy on this proposition, but gave it a shot with two short necklaces with different shapes -- a hanging pendant and a discreet beaded choker.

*Berry wool pullover sweater (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Grey pinstriped Dockers (thrifted)
Black/grey argyle socks (Sock Dreams)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious
Black beaded necklace by RB
Silver pendant (thrifted)
Not shown: Quilted black vest (gift from my mom)

Verdict:  I enjoyed everything about the outfit (my bottom half is 3 monochromatic patterns -- yay!) except for the layered necklaces, which I feel pretty meh about.  I don't wear long pedants, which maybe makes this harder to do -- I think a shorter necklace and a longer necklace layer more easily.  I will stick with one necklace at a time in the future, I expect.  (Or a necklace and a scarf, of course!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Seconds, For Good and Bad

Book Review: Authority by Jeff Vandermeer

2.5 stars

Check out that cover, people -- a crazy-looking, hare-like rabbit (a modern March Hare?) with a broken cell phone.  Intriguing, isn't it?  Especially given how much I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy (Annihilation), I was excited about this book.

Then I opened the book and started reading it.  This is why you don't judge a book by its cover.  Sometimes the cover is way, way more interesting than the book.

It's hard to describe this book and everything that was disappointing about it, but it was sort of like a spy thriller meets The Office only without any intrigue or humor.  One of the reviews on the cover made a comparison to the Lost TV series, and I get that it was similar in the sense that there is something mysterious going on with Area X that our protagonist is trying to figure out (perhaps like people on Lost were trying to figure out WTF was going on in their bizarre world smoke monsters and buttons you have to push), but otherwise, um, nope.  Not seeing it.  One main difference is that things actually happened on Lost.  A second main difference is that the audience was also confused and curious about the mysterious events on Lost.  A third main difference is that the characters in Lost were interesting (if annoying--like Jack and Kate) and we cared about at least some of them (Hurley!!!).  In Authority, there were possibly two facts that were revealed, one about the protagonist's experiences within the organization that employs him to direct the researchers investigating Area X -- this was a great big DUH -- and another about Area X itself -- another DUH that was also kind of strangely vague.  Before that was all kinds of boring things.  Even the parts that were obviously supposed to be suspenseful and surreal and eerie were just...blah.  Whatever.  I really didn't care who put that cell phone there if only for the love of god something would happen!  The characters were not well-developed, and despite having spent a lot of time in our protagonist's head, it wasn't clear what he was thinking or what was motivating him much of the time.  But this book and Lost do have one big thing in common: the ending was confusing and a let-down.  (In the case of Lost, a major let-down.  In the case of Authority, only a minor let-down because, well, the whole book was a let-down so you were hopeful that things would get really good there at the end but you weren't really expecting it.)

There was one funny thing, when one of our protagonist's colleagues made a weak joke that the hole/tunnel into Area X is this many rabbits tall and this many rabbits wide, and that was only funny because I look so favorably on mentions of rabbits and I was so desperate to find something appealing about this book. 

This said, I will push on to read the last book of the trilogy and see if it makes up for how dull this book was.  

Not invested in the Southern Reach trilogy but intrigued by the "strange events in the workplace" concept?  I have read much, much more enjoyable books about people working in bizarre, fucked-up, eerie settings.  May I recommend Kings of Infinite Space by James Hynes (4 stars)?  This is straight-up "it sucks to be working for the Texas Department of General Services in the (Austin-like) city of Lamar, TX, oh shit, now it sucks even MORE" satirical fiction/horror.  By the same author, The Lecturer's Tale (4.5 stars) was a real prize in the skewering academia humor/horror category.  And I cannot pass up this opportunity to plug The Ax by Donald Westlake, a strong 5.5 star powerhouse of dark humor, page after page of it, about the job search.

So that was a second book failure in my opinion.  Let's see if I can do better with a second outfit.  (Yep, I am a master of the subtle transition.)

Day 10: Repeat Item (from the previous day) -- Wednesday, 11/12/14

I make a point of not repeating items from one day to the next, so this was a bit of a stretch for me.  I took the easy route and wore the same plain black pants as the day before.  I kept things simple and low-key with a black/cream/dark green color palette and gold accessories, but I think my outfit was much less boring than the book Authority (even though I wore it in a much less intrigue-imbued office) so I declare victory.  (OK, being more interesting than Authority is a pretty low bar, but whatever.)

Black pants (thrifted)
Cream/black polka dot blazer (thrifted, Target) -- I love the black around the edges and the fact that this is a relatively warm jacket
*Dark green T (Hanes--shortened by me)
Black buckle flats by Me Too [imagine them worn with black socks]
Gold chain link necklace (Ann Taylor)

Verdict: This was comfortable and I felt sharply dressed.  (A crisp blazer will do that to ya.)  I could have stood it had I worn a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath it on this unseasonably wintry day (8 degrees in the morning and up to 22 by 5 p.m.) but I was not quite so chilled as to feel cold at work, just intermittently a little on the cool side.  Wearing this blazer again later in the season, I'll need to wear long sleeves and possibly a scarf.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oblivion, Begin Again

Part of the reason I got ahead with pre-planning my workweek outfits was so I would have more time on the weekends to play Oblivion.

I saw a couple weeks ago that the game developers had announced the new Elder Scrolls game would come out in March...2016.  Sigh.  Ever since then, I've been jonesing to play another Skyrim-like game, and finally decided, well, for $25 I can buy Oblivion with all the add-ons and give it another shot because I never even finished the main quest line when I first played it (nor did I start the Dark Brotherhood quest line, nor did I have any of the add-ons).  So I started playing Oblivion again the weekend before the snow/ice storm on 11/10.

When the news about the storm and the accompanying cold weather (not expecting temperatures to reach 32 degrees for the next 10 days that Wunderground was willing to forecast), I had to scramble a bit with my outfits (without taking enough time to interfere with my Oblivion playing).  I wasn't sure whether this one would be warm enough as planned, or whether I would need to try layering another shirt underneath.

I am playing a male character for the first time, a Nord.  I know, a Nord would have been more appropriate for Skyrim but I enjoyed playing an outsider character in that game (a mixed-race black woman in a male-dominated Nordic culture).  My Nord character in Oblivion goes by the name Sven (obviously not his real name, but he's got reasons to want to sound anonymous as he makes his way around the capital).  One of the Nord's characteristics is a resistance to cold, so we'll see if I can take on some of this ability in real life this winter through sympathetic magic.  Poor Sven is eventually going to be spending a lot of time in Oblivion (i.e., the pits of hell), which is a place where his cold resistance is not exactly going to be useful unless, you know, hell freezes over. 

Day 11:  Pick an Outfit Formula -- Tuesday, 11/11/14

(Note: I originally typed "Pink an Outfit Formula," which is also an appropriate title, actually.)

As you know, I love the simplicity of patterned blouse with black and a bright color or colors, a cardigan or jacket in one of the colors from the blouse, and black pants and shoes.  So I chose that as my outfit formula to create a new version of for this challenge.

(I added black socks and a black scarf to this to make it a bit more below-freezing-temperatures compatible, but this is the basic concept.)

I'm a bit disappointed that the bright pink in the shirt looks dark coral instead of pink in the photo, but you'll just have to trust me that they matched. Matchy-matchy is pretty much the basis of this formula.

Black/white/coral/pink blouse (Kohls)
Pink drape cardigan (Macy's)
Black pants (thrifted)
Black pointy-toed flats
(Not pictured: Black scarf from Target)

Verdict:  A bright cardigan in fall/winter is cheerful and fun.  I liked it.  Adding a solid colored scarf is a nice way to warm up the formula -- black was a good choice in this case, but other colors could work with other combinations (I have a few solid colored scarves it would be good to put into more regular use).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What To Wear on the First Snowy Day of the Winter

Thanks to the typhoon and global warming, we got a mix of snow and ice Sunday night through Monday, so I had to pull out a pair of snow boots, some gloves, and the brand new ice scraper/brush/toy light sabre that Robert bought me.  I wish I'd thought to wear a hat and warmer gloves because my car was coated in ice after work, and it took a while to get it all off.  My fingers got pretty cold in the process.  (Also: definitely got some exercise there.)  But hey, when I got in to drive, I turned on the seat warmer and that was nice.  I turned it off after about 3 minutes, but I enjoyed testing it out.  (I also took a heating pad to work because I read on Capitol Hill Style that sitting on a heating pad is a great way to warm up in the office, and from Leopold Rex's experiences sitting on a heating pad when he was sick, I know that a heating pad = warm buns.)

So, when the forecast changed suddenly on Friday, it meant that I had to revisit the outfits I'd already preplanned for the week.  (That's what I get for being so freaking organized, eh?)  Moving this outfit up (that I'd already gotten together for the following week, I know, it's nuts) was easy-peasy.  I wanted something with a couple of layers, with pants, that would be cozy and simple.

Day 14: Pinspired -- Monday, 11/10/14

I have a fairly wimpy Pinterest account, but when I bought my forest green trousers for work (about a year ago), I felt so clueless about color pairings that I pinned a few photos.  One of them was of olive pants instead of forest green, and when I saw it and remembered the olive pants I'd recently thrifted (finally: I am a huge fan of olive pants and I can't believe it took me so long to find any -- I just didn't like that 99% of them available new in stores are skinny ankle pants), it was a no-brainer.

Here's the pinspiration photo:

Note that she's wearing baggy pants, not skinny pants even.  I can do this.

I did not have a big brown belt, or what appear to be brown ankle boots, but I picked up some of the warmness of the brown color in my grey/white/black/coral scarf.  (Note that I also put on a pair of black socks before heading out to work!  I think the days of no-socks are done for the season.)

*White long-sleeved T (Lands End)
*Olive green pants (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Black cardigan (Walmart)
Grey/white/coral scarf (Target?)
Black button shoes (thrifted, Franco Sarto)

Verdict:  This was comfy and plenty warm enough in my office (I did not need to sit on a heating pad).  It's a pretty basic outfit, but the key inspiration of the photo was to add a grey/white scarf, which would not have been my natural choice.  I'm looking forward to wearing these olive pants again.  I've already got the main pieces for my next olive pants outfit picked out.  If one of the pairs of brown/cognac/beige booties I've ordered from the Nordstrom sale works out, I'll be doubly happy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Portlandia Style Challenge

I could not resist another personal style challenge, this one inspired by Portlandia:

Put a Bird on It! -- Friday, 11/7/14

(Even if you are totally familiar with the "put a bird on it!" concept, I recommend the link above.  "...If this ushers in an era of otters and deer..." put me in mind of Tam.)

I loved the idea of wearing my bird cardigan (yep, I only own one bird cardigan) with jeans and a mix of other items that draw on the supporting colors of the sweater -- a very light aqua blue, magenta, and mustard, not colors I would normally think of wearing together.

Aqua bird cardigan (Target)
Light aqua blue knit top (thrifted, JCP)
*Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
Magenta scarf (Target)
Mustard flats by Mia Girl

And here's a close up of one of these adorable birds:

It's kind of surprising I don't own about a dozen bird cardigans.  I am definitely in the market for more.  My love of birds is second only to my love of rabbits, and since I'm over the age of 12, it's kind of difficult to incorporate bunnies into my daily work wardrobe without looking whackadoodle.  (I am whackadoodle where rabbits are concerned, but I'd just as soon keep this information private in the workplace.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On a Grey Theme

Book Review:  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
4 stars

This is not a complete retread of Outlander, though it clearly has several things in common: it's a historical romance with a mix-up of modern day heroine and the Scottish independence movement of the 1700s.  But it does not use the straightforward time travel trope of Diana Gabaldon's novels.  It has a somewhat different SF/fantasy/supernatural thing going to connect the current day to the historical events. If Outlander rang your bells, I think you're likely to enjoy this one, too. 

Day 6: Color, Pattern, Texture, Shine -- Thursday, 11/6/14

Since color is not an area I struggle with, I opted to focus on the other 3 aspects of this prompt and keep everything neutral, using the hue of the winter sea as my starting point.  (Note: I would have frozen my ass off if I'd been visiting the setting of The Winter Sea in this outfit, but fortunately I stayed here in the relatively comfortable Snow City autumn.) [Boy, what a difference a few days make.]

Pattern: grey leopard print
Texture: suede snakeskin booties
Shine: necklace

Another thing to note here: man, grey is a hard color to match!  I think all these shades of grey work nicely together but they certainly do not match.

Also, yep, I've broken down and ordered some more boots for the fall/winter season.  I also topped this with my black moto jacket to wear if/when I got chilly in the office.  (It seems that grey animal print + black moto jacket is a favorite combination of mine.)

It's surprising for me to realize that this outfit doesn't have any thrifted items in it -- that's unusual.

Grey leopard knit top (Kohls)
Grey knit skirt (Target)
Grey leggings (Kohls)
*Grey suede snakeskin booties by Seychelles (Zappos)
Sparkly black necklace (Kohls)

Verdict:  Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Belting It Out

My outfit order got a bit screwed up because I was home sick from work on Tuesday with a migraine and my planned Wednesday outfit was not compatible with the tons of rain we had (suede boots that I have not yet weather proofed -- not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent).

And as the weather is getting colder and a bit more variable (e.g., switching from "bare feet or lightweight hose with flats are maybe okay" and "socks and boots are necessary" weather), I'm building more flexibility into my outfit planning, so the days are unlikely to get all out of order.  I am enjoying the challenge to build new outfits using items I already own, but don't want it to be an "ack, it's going to be 25 degrees and snowing tomorrow, how do I make this dress work with a different set of warmer items!" mode the night before or, shudder, the morning of.  When that happens, I'll switch to a different pre-planned outfit.

Day 9: Put a Belt on It -- Wednesday, 11/5/14

What gives this week?  We have two days of belts (since wearing a belt is the most obvious "define the waist" technique) and two days of "shine" (more on this to come).  Well, I wasn't going to try to build another waist-defining belted outfit, so I went for something very different but that I also do infrequently if ever: wear a belt with work trousers.

And it was a no-brainer which belt I was going to choose, right?

No, your eyes do not deceive you -- I actually tucked in my shirt.  It's gettin' all crazy up in here, I tell ya.

As an added bonus to my day, when I walked into my (female) department head's office for a group meeting, she told me in about 3 or 4 sentences that she loves my style, I have great fashion sense, she always looks forward to seeing what I'm wearing, etc.  That felt great.  

Melon shift blouse (Nordstrom) -- wow, it looks really neon in this photo!
Black/white striped knit jacket (Nordstrom)
Black on black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Leopard belt (Target)
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Black tooth/claw necklace (Outfit Additions)

Verdict:  Tucking in a very lightweight blouse (that doesn't bunch up under the pants) and wearing with a cardigan/jacket and a belted trousers is a doable combination.  I have several of these shift blouses in various colors/patterns, so I could definitely recreate variations on this theme for a while.

Pro tip:  I used trick #13 from this list of styling methods to create the right amount of looseness above the tucked in blouse.  (In addition to the horrible bunching problem that puts me right off the full tuck, I generally have had my shirts tucked too tightly, so that there were weird wrinkles, etc., in the shirt fabric above the waistband.  Not any more!)  The whole list is pretty much brilliant.  I'm definitely going to be trying #6 (tuck non-skinny jeans into boots) this winter.