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.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caterpillars Never Ever Wear Brown Boots

Dressing Like a Boy -- 3/12/14

It's hard to tell from the photo, but these are dark navy or black (can't remember right now!) pinstriped pants.  I initially wanted to wear a white/ivory, light pink, or light blue pullover sweater with it, but I don't own anything like that, so I decided to go very menswear instead -- button-down shirt, pullover sweater, oxford shoes.  Not even a necklace or scarf, which is weird for me.

I was super-pleased that the blues in the shirt and sweater were such a spot-on match.

New items:
**Pinstriped pants (thrifted, Express)
**Blue striped button up shirt (thrifted, Jones New York)

Heeding the Muppet Show's Warning -- 3/13/14

Do you remember the Muppet Show segment with the caterpillar losing his brown boots?  (I did not remember that this segment was on the Muppet Show until I googled it -- I just remember it was on TV, and that my mom used to sing the main line to my sister and me sometimes.)  Anyway, clearly brown boots are dangerous.  But what about black boots?

Because it is becoming spring-like in other parts of the country, but is still winter in Snow City, this was a great time to get a pair of work-compatible tall black boots on sale from Zappos and still get a lot of wear out of them this season.  I tested about half a dozen pairs and settled on this riding boot by Fitzwell.

And I wore them with a brown outfit.  Though sort of miraculously, the skirt has some black in the plaid.  I am a huge fan of prints that have even a little bit of black -- it makes it very simple to wear the item with black (a hugely common color for jackets, pants/skirts, and shoes/boots) in a coherent way.  But to pump-up the compatibility factor, I also wore a scarf with black in it.  A scarf with horses on it, people.  Get it?  Riding boots, horse scarf.  It all makes sense now.

New items:
**Brown quilted jacket (thrifted)
**Brown plaid skirt (thrifted)
**Black riding boots from Zappos (Fitzwell)

Oh, I think I haven't been pointing out when I've been wearing my new leggings that are THE BOMB.  Super comfy, high at the waist to avoid the segmented worm problem, and with just a bit of support.  I have them in all the colors now.  I'm not the only fan.  I got a kick this week out of seeing at the bottom of this post that another blogger owns and loves the same leggings I do (I could tell from reading her description and looking at the color selection -- yep, those are the colors they come in -- well, those plus navy).  The only downside is that they have really upped my standard for tights/leggings.  I bought a pair of tights from Target (because they are relatively inexpensive and come in a zillion colors) but they were less comfortable in the waist and too scratchy.  So I'm still on the lookout for actual tights (footed ones, I mean) that match the high bar set by these leggings.  We'll see. 

Another thing that has made a big difference to me is learning that sizing up in tights is a good idea.  (I thought I read this on this blog but I can't find the link; maybe I dreamed it).  Anyway, I've started doing that and it is fab.

More Riding -- 3/14/14

The other issue with the tall boots is how they would feel worn over skinny(ish) pants or jeans, so I tested that next.  (You're seeing a photo taken in the afternoon, when my jeans had the opportunity to scrunch up a bit.  Still looks OK to my eye.)  The boots passed the test.  I also thought the black jacket was suitably equestrian-looking for a riding boot ensemble.  (Note the scarf with significant black in the pattern with light and bright shades of pink and blue -- well done, designer.)

New items:  none

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Start Date

My first day at the new job will be April 7.  I originally inquired about March 31, but since that's spring break week, a lot of people will be out of the office, so my new boss suggested the following week.  That's great for me -- plenty of time to switch gears and get ready to do this thing.

I'm going in this Friday to fill out the new employee paperwork.

Good times!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Yesterday afternoon I got a job offer from the place I applied to in November and went in last week for the "not an interview" meeting.

Yay!  It was even more money than I was expecting.

I'm still waiting to hear back from HR about my start date.

Now it's time to start switching gears to "Responsible Adult with a Job" mode.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two Surprisingly Awkward Woven Shirts

Surprisingly Awkward Woven Shirt #1 -- 3/6/14

As you have gathered by now, I love wearing the color blue.  Robert has a couple of shirts he wears to work that are in that range of periwinkle to French blue, and I always think they look so sharp.  So I decided I wanted a crisp blue woven shirt of my own, with the idea that I could wear it with my black suit and look totally right for interviews.  When I saw this shirt on deep discount at Travelsmith (in a google shopping search; I've never shopped at this store before), I liked the details that made it more interesting than a normal button-up shirt -- the knot under the chest, the curved edges.  When I tried it on, it fit well without feeling confining (as I find stiff woven shirts sometimes feel) so all was good...

Until I tried actually wearing it with a suit jacket.  The same generous cut in the shoulders and arms that made it feel comfy -- and the high-tech stain-resistant fabric that gave it such a crisp look -- made the fabric bunch awkwardly and, yes, uncomfortably under the jacket.  The curved edge also looks weird with the cut of the blazers I have.  I tried wearing it under a cardigan sweater -- hah, that was even more of a joke.  So really, the shirt has to be the top layer (for extra awkardness, the V neck is too deep to wear in a professional setting without a camisole/t-shirt under it).  Which is fine because it has enough nice design features (including that great hemline that begs to be worn untucked) to stand alone, but this means that it will not serve the purpose I originally envisioned.  That's cool.  I've found that blouses in drapey fabrics or knits work better under my interview suit anyway.  This one looks good with my 88 cent pants for a business-casual outfit.

New item:
**Periwinkle blue woven shirt from Travelsmith

Surprisingly Awkward Woven Shirt #2 -- 3/7/14

I was so happy to get this cute striped shirt at Goodwill, and with all those colors in it, I thought it would be quite versatile...

Until I looked more closely at the shirt and realized that the stripes are pink, magenta, light green, purple, yellow, and white.  No blue.  No red.  No black.  No grey.  No brown.  No obvious pants or sweater I own to wear with it.  Sigh.  Well, as I've said, everything goes with denim, and at some point it will be warm enough to wear a woven long-sleeved shirt on its own.  But for now, it's the olive green safari blazer to the rescue.

New item:
**Striped woven shirt (thrifted)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coming in Like a Lion (or Leopard?)

Soft and Blue -- 2/26/14

This is the other cashmere pullover I purchased at the crazy and brief Macy's sale over the holidays -- another shade of blue, of course.  Love it.  (And yay, I did not pair it with either green or red!)

New item:
**Bright blue cashmere pullover from Macy's

Different Shades of Bluish-Green -- 2/27/14

I'm not generally a pastel kind of person, but this winter has been so long and so cold that I find myself looking forward to spring.  If I can't have spring-like weather, though, I can at least start wearing some spring-like colors.  A lightweight wool cardigan over a long-sleeved t-shirt is about right.

Also, these pants are really great -- they are a normal office-work style trouser in typical office-work trouser fabric in a color/pattern that looks very similar to extremely dark denim.  Because denim goes with everything, these pants go with everything -- it's like you're wearing jeans while still being business-casual appropriate.  Nifty.  I bought two pairs in slightly different denim-like dark blue colors, so I'll probably hem one for flats and leave one the original length for wearing with a slight heel (these wedges are under 2" and that's about as high as I'm willing to go for business-casual).

New items:
**Light blue flower cardigan (thrifted)
**Blue "denim" pants from Kohl's

Signature Piece -- 2/ 28/14

When the olive green safari-style jacket I stole from RB many years ago got an ink blotch in the front pocket, it was resigned to birding jacket status.  When my booty got too bodacious for the jacket, I had to go without an olive green jacket for a while, and that felt weird.  But Goodwill came through this summer with two great jackets on a single trip.  The first one, which zips up and has a hood, has become my new birding jacket, and I debuted it at Yellowstone NP in the fall (where it worked like a champ).  This is the other one -- it has more of a slightly fitted blazer construction with buttons.  Wear it and achieve instant awesomeness.  I feel very Sally-like in such a jacket.  (Do the following sentences imply Sally-like = awesome?  Hmmm.)

The way the scarf was tied and then tucked into the jacket puts me in mind of an ascot tucked into a smoking jacket.  Well, I'm wearing it with animal print smoking slippers, so it works for me.

New item:
**Olive green safari style blazer (thrifted)

A Familiar Cashmere Feeling -- 3/4/14

Ever hopeful that it will eventually be spring, I decided I needed to get wear in on the remaining cold-weather sweaters I have.  This is a silly one I got at Goodwill -- a cashmere hoodie!  And it's the same Macy's brand/cashmere sweater line as the new pullovers I bought this year and has the same great feel to it.

This is also this skirt's debut on the blog.  I purchased it at REI for our Yellowstone trip, and it ended up being the most expensive skirt I own -- $60, people, for a skirt made for hiking, and it doesn't even have pockets.  It's made from some super-fancy tech fabric...that must have an embedded GPS that monitors your movements and automatically contacts the emergency ranger services when you appear to be in trouble on the trail.  Or something.  Well, it worked out fine on our trip, so I don't regret the purchase.  (Among other things, it appears to dry very quickly, which was nice during the rainy periods in the park.)

New item:
**Grey cashmere hoodie (thrifted)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My "Not an Interview"

Job search follow up the job I applied for in November.  I went in a couple weeks ago for the interview, which turned out unexpectedly to be a group interview with the HR person and 4 people in the department.  Because it's a government job, they did the typical "ask the questions written on the piece of paper and give nothing away in response to what candidates say" thing.  It actually went OK except I had to admit to not knowing anything about one of the questions (which later googling revealed was a specific assessment used by the state, oops).  But otherwise, I felt pretty comfortable with my responses and my ability to connect with the interviewers (at least, as well as I feel I can in that sort of situation). 

And apparently I did OK because I was called by HR to come in for an "informal" meeting, "not an interview," with people in the department.  Not sure what to expect from that, but I had visions of trying to make small talk with people for an hour and a half, which is not exactly my favorite thing, though my basic strategy of asking people about themselves, their experiences and impressions, etc. would probably see me through.  The "not an interview" thing was odd, but perhaps this was just a final evaluation before they decide whether to offer me a job.  As my mom put it, they want to be sure I pass the Umbrella Test -- a kind of sanity check whose name alludes to perhaps the craziest (non-academic) job interview situation I've taken part in.  (The story is that when I was working at a psychiatric research center, we were interviewing research assistants.  When one of my co-workers went down to meet this one candidate, she saw that the candidate had left her umbrella lying next to her chair, so she said, "Be sure to remember your umbrella."  To which the candidate replied, "I am perfectly capable of remembering where I left my umbrella!"  After the interview, my co-worker told the rest of us this story, commenting that she wished she could have just thanked the woman for her time and dismissed her on the spot since we obviously couldn't hire someone like that.)

Anyway, when I showed up yesterday, I was surprised and utterly delighted that instead of the dreaded "walking around meeting people and talking to them" thing I was expecting, I was invited to participate in the team's normal data review meeting -- somebody had recently analyzed some data and everybody was going to look at it, discuss it, etc.  Sweet!  I would much rather talk to potential colleagues about data than just about anything else.  It was actually a really, really smart idea for the hiring manager to do this, I think -- it was a sort of trial run for what it would be like for us all to work together.  They got to see how I process and talk about data, how I interact with a group, etc., and I got to check them out too.  The hour and a half flew by. 

Oh, and it was also totally great that the hiring manager sort of prefaced the meeting by saying to me that it's clear I have the right skills, and that I can easily learn the details/data/content as I go.  Yes, finally, somebody seems to get it that having years of Specific Ditch experience is not the most important consideration when hiring a research analyst!

The way we left things was that she was going to talk to the team and they should have a decision by the end of the week.  I'm feeling pretty hopeful.

In other job search news, I got a call yesterday afternoon to interview next week for an analyst position with a state agency.  So things are moving along.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Unexpectedly Excellent Book

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

This is one of those books I see on a recommendation list somewhere, request from my library, wait weeks/months for it to come in, and then am like, WTF is this?

I would say that I'm not generally into novels narrated by 11-year-old boy pop stars, but...well, because this is the only book of that type I'm aware of, and I super-enjoyed this book, maybe I am.

The narrator is not annoying in the ways you'd expect -- he seems smart, funny, clued-in about many things (and decidedly clueless about others, as it should be), and though with his faults, overall, a sympathetic and likeable kid.  The whole book rests on this kid's personality and narrative style, so this is a good thing.

You can read general reviews elsewhere, but I'll say that one thing that hit a button for me was how the author used an interesting parallel/contrast effect with JV's real life and his experience in the role-playing game that is one of his primary recreational outlets while on tour.   Also, the last sentence of the book kills.