Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z to A

MMMSC Day 26: Patterns or Textures--Thursday, 4/30/15

When I got a top and a skirt that serendipitously coordinate with each other in the mail on the same day (though from separate companies), and both were keepers, it was an outfit waiting to happen.

Time for another round of Reverse Inspirations!  This time I have two players.

Once again, Alice's clothing choices have been retroactively influenced by my outfit.  This time, she is wearing a cobalt blue skirt with a blue/white/black animal print top half.


And Tara is wearing a cobalt blue skirt with a black and grey animal print sweatshirt/sweater.


Didn't they do a nice job of putting their personal spin on my animal print top with cobalt skirt outfit?

Before I left for work, I decided to add another layer--it has been cool in the mornings, even in my office, and I wasn't sure whether this sweatshirt (which is made of T-shirt knit, not the usual heavy sweatshirt knit) would cut it.  Plus I finally wore this short navy blazer I got at Goodwill many, many months ago.  Yay for wearing all these new things.

*Navy/blue leopard sweatshirt (JNY)+
*Cobalt skirt (eShakti)+
*Short navy blazer (thrifted, Loft)+
Light grey wedges by BCBGeneration+

I ordered this custom-sized skirt from eShakti at the same time as I did the rabbit dress.  On the plus side: it's long enough, it's big enough in the hips, it's got pockets, and it's an interesting style.  On the minus side:  the pockets and style combine to make it very bulky/puffy in the hips, especially at the sides, which looks weird.  It looks relatively OK with this particular sweatshirt, but with other tops, the extra bulk makes them stick out funny at the sides.  I'm considering whether I want to sew up and cut out the pockets to decrease the extra padding (that my hips do not need).  Or maybe my eye will just adjust to it.  Another minor issue is that the faux-wrap style means that if I'm not careful when I sit down, the skirt can separate along the slit all up my thigh--luckily I discovered this the first time I sat down at home.

But on the plus side again: it's blue.  Tardis blue, even.

Verdict:  A super-comfy outfit, and the jacket was welcome in the morning.  I took it off at lunch time.  It's funny how the Robin compensatory dressing approach does work pretty well--I had bare legs, so I added an extra layer on the top, and it kept me comfortable.

In other news...I am really tired of this A to Z blogging challenge.  The end of the alphabet is extra challenging at a time when bloggers are getting burned out on the whole thing.  Clearly they should have started with Z and worked their way to A. 

Speaking of Z to A, I had a conversation with my office mate about alphabetical order and reverse alphabetical order today.  A sign-up sheet for sessions at a conference was going around the office and our first names were on the front (in alphabetical order).  I saw my office mate C. with the sheet today, and saw that my name is second from the bottom, and said, I just can't catch a break--I'm at the bottom of alphabetical order whether my first or last name is used.  I told her how in elementary school, we lined up in alphabetical order by last name whenever we left the classroom, and how this was particularly annoying at lunch.  (I was almost always 3rd from last.)  I remember one teacher on one day switched around the line to reverse alphabetical order and the Andersons et al. bitched and bitched about it, like they had come to believe that the alphabetical-order-privilege they had been receiving all this time was somehow their right and not actually totally arbitrary and unfair. 

I still have a little bit of resentment over the whole thing.  It feels a bit like my school had inadvertently instituted one of those experiments in which they differentially treat people based on eye color in order to enlighten them about racism and privilege (only without ever acknowledging what was going on).  If you aren't familiar with the blue eye-brown eye experiment by Jane Elliott, or hell, even if you are, check out this under 5 minute video from Oprah.  There's a funny/depressing moment in which a member of the privileged group starts rationalizing why her group is superior to the other and a purely depressing moment in which a white dude explains why racism is reasonable (though discrimination based on eye color is not). 

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 26: Z is for Z to A

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Year End Countdown

MMMSC Day 18:  Color Block #2--Wednesday, 4/29/15

Today's inspiration photo is a bit different.  Instead of making an outfit on the basis of a photo, I created an outfit first, then looked for a photo of how someone else created a similar look.  If one doesn't want to get too particular about a belief in linear time, one could characterize this as a reverse inspiration: my outfit influenced someone in the past to wear something like it.  Or, you know, maybe we're just doing the same kind of outfit because of the zeitgeist.  (I like the backwards causality explanation better, of course.)

Here's how Alice rocked a black dress, black tights, black ankle boots, and a blue jacket.


Here's how I did...because I really wanted to wear this nifty colorblock jacket that I bought at the big Jones New York jacket/blazer sale for $22.25.  (I loved getting all these great deals but I'm sad they're going out of business--I love that company.)

*Black short-sleeved dress (thrifted, Target)+
*Blue/black/white colorblock jacket (JNY)+
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman

It was also a good opportunity to wear yet another black dress that I bought at Goodwill.  I don't even want to count how many black dresses I've bought there, but it's got to be at least five.  It's definitely ridiculous.  I think it's getting to be time to decide which of them I want to keep and which of them I want to donate back--indeed, this idea inspired me to edit out two of my least favorite ones just now.  Yes!

This one I like and it fits quite well, but it has two issues.  (1) It has a somewhat rough texture so little balls of fuzz stick to it in a "this dress could have inspired the invention of Velcro" kind of way, particularly on the top half (which is conveniently covered by the jacket in this instance).  (2) It's too short to wear without tights.  It's borderline too short to wear with tights to work but I did it anyway.  (This might very well be my last tights of the season!  It's going to be 75-80 F for the rest of the week and into the weekend, they tell us.  We'll see.)  After wearing it, I discovered a third issue: (3) the V neck is too low to wear without coverage.  Three strikes and you're out.  Goodbye, dress.  It's too bad because I liked the way it fit and it had pockets.

Anyway, nobody's going to notice the dress because the jacket is so spectacular.  It doesn't hurt that this shade of blue is a terrific color on me.  I was so happy about getting this jacket that I decided to do Day 18: Color Block of the style challenge twice.

Verdict:  I was glad to be wearing a jacket and tights today because I was in a 3 hour meeting in a quite cool conference room downstairs.  I also was sneezing (in my office, which is warmer) because the Coldville/Snow City area is the #3 top pollen location in the country right now.  WTF?  I guess it's really spring.

In other news....every week I slightly increase my probability estimate for keeping my job past the end of our fiscal year on June 30.  Two more months!  I'm feeling pretty good about things at the moment in the sense that my hopes are on a slow upward climb but also I've just adjusted to the idea for now.  I would love to take credit for my more chill attitude on realizing that there's no use in worrying about it, but it's not like that argument has ever worked for me before.  It's more that I'm just embracing the seeming normalcy of my work environment and staying focused on just moving forward as though everything really is going to be just fine in my department.  I really am hoping that I'll have reason to celebrate on July 1, though.

And let me just say that I'm glad it's not now the end of October with me trying to ride out the uncertainty at work until December 30.  That is not how I want to spend the holidays.  I can endure Flag Day Eve and Flag Day in my current state, though.

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 25: Y is for Year End Countdown

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When You're Right You're Right

My dad used to give his mom a hard time for calling Cheerios "Cheeri Oats" until he found out that Cheeri Oats was the original name of the product.  Well, I just saw this ad online, where General Mill is really playing it old-school.  (I'd never seen the Cheeri Oats logo, so that was cool.)

Now if somebody would explain to me why CORN is the main ingredient in about half the varieties of Cheerios on the market!

Xerox, Starbucks, and Arizona State

It's the last week of the MMM Style Challenge and the A to Z Blogging Challenge.  Whew.  By accident, it's also Blue Week.

MMMSC Day 10: Metallic

I loved the sophistication of this all-neutral professional ensemble from Polyvore.

Have you heard about Polyvore?  It's a nifty site where people can put together individual images (of stuff that's available for sale) into a collage--clothing outfits, home decoration ideas, cosmetics sets, etc.  It obviously does a lot to drive shopping (oooh, look at that pretty dress!) but you can also use it as a source of ideas for how to put together things you already own.


My office is more business casual so I stepped things down a notch in my own rendition, but it's still a really close match.  I'm loving how useful this black sweater vest is both as an extra layering piece in winter and as a transition piece in spring.

*Dark grey skirt with black embroidery (thrifted, Point Zero-Nicole Benisti)+
Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft)+
Blue button up shirt (thrifted, Kohls)+
Gold chain necklace (Ann Taylor)+
Black sweater tights+
Black smoking slippers by Clarks

Choosing a metallic necklace might not be the most original way to meet the challenge, but I like this necklace and am happy to wear it.  I'll leave my 80s/Madonna style shiny gold or silver bustier for another time.  (When you own both gold and silver bustiers, it can be hard to choose which one to wear.  Analysis paralysis might lead to neither of them showing up on this blog in the near future.)

The first light blue button up shirt I tried with this skirt is one that kind of drives me crazy.  It's made of very stiff cotton fabric (I think it's been treated to be stain-resistant, among other things) and it's wrinkly and it has a knot under the bust that means the whole front of the shirt is a big-ass swirl of wrinkly, stiff fabric that's just very annoying.  But then I remembered that I had bought this other light blue shirt in a simple style made from softer fabric (poly/nylon/spandex), and when I put it on, it looked and felt so nice that I immediately put the first awkward shirt into my Goodwill bag.  Aaaaahhhh, that feels good.

I'm a bit embarrassed by how long it took me to wear this skirt for the first time; I've had it for so many months that it's probably close to a year old.  But this outfit was like the perfect context for its debut, so I'm not sad.  The brand is an unusual one.  Point Zero is a Canadian brand, and the Nicole Benisti collection is their premier line.  They are not currently selling any skirts in this line, but the dresses run from $80-$115, somewhere in the range between Lands End and Ann Taylor pricing.

I would not have thought to put this grey skirt together with a brown leopard print shoe, but I'm digging it.

Your think-piece for the today is this article in the Atlantic about Starbucks' new college education initiative for its employees, with coursework provided by Arizona State's online function and counseling services provided by contractors such as a woman at Xerox (who does not herself have a college degree).

Sure, the Xerox connection is a bit tenuous, but it's an interesting article.  Oh, did you really want to read about xylophones or x-rays?  Knock yourself out.

A to Z Challenge Day 24: X is for Xerox, Starbucks, and Arizona State

Monday, April 27, 2015

Whiny Wimpy

I got a migraine Sunday afternoon and it's only this evening starting to get better.


A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 23: W is for Whiny Wimpy

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Life Style Challenge Update Plus

An interesting discussion of whether it's appropriate to wear sleeveless tops/dresses (without a covering layer) to your business casual or business professional office--and does this answer depend on what your arms look like?  Additional commentary on leg size and skirt length. I'm not convinced this justifies anything, but one commenter does make the point that bigger legs = more "SKIN" at a given skirt length, which is one (not entirely prejudicial) reason that short skirts could look less professional on larger women (because "SKIN" = not professional).  A couple other people comment that at their skinny/bony size, they feel that e.g., tops that show their collarbones make them feel more exposed than they think a person of a larger size is in the same garment (because bones = "here's my body" = unprofessional).  I remain of the opinion that sleeveless tops and short skirts (more than a couple inches above the knee) are not appropriate for the professional/office work place no matter what your size.

A very body-positive plus-size blogger with an extensive cute-ass wardrobe starts exercising for health and loses some weight as an unintentional side effect--now she's dealing with ill-fitting clothes and an identity crisis.  Weight loss isn't always all fun and games (even when it comes with improved health rather than a health problem).

 Life Style Challenge Week 7 Review:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Pick a new paleo recipe for next week 

I not only picked my new recipe but I made it, and it was fab.  An Italian sausage soup with stewed tomatoes, onion, and bell peppers, cooked in the slow cooker.  It was confusing because the photo in the cookbook showed a smoked or Kielbasa type sausage instead of Italian sausage, but I made it with Italian sausage as indicated in the recipe (you cut the links into disks/chunks and brown them on the stovetop before putting in the slow cooker) and that turned out well.  It's similar to a recipe my mom gave me but I like it better because bell peppers > zucchini in this context--I never liked how the zucchini breaks down when you cook it and seeds to get everywhere.

When I'm not feeling too lazy to go find my cookbook, I'll post the recipe here.

 Life Style Challenge Week 8:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Restart flaxseed oil regimen (SIGH)

I've known for a while that I want to start taking supplemental oil to fight inflammation (which has slowly gotten worse since I stopped) but I haven't because (a) yuck, (b) the digestive drama of re-adjusting to it, and (c) perfect being the enemy of the good.  By (c) I am referring to reading I've done lately of the superiority of a krill oil/cod liver oil combo for boosting omega-3 and vitamin D (both of which I need).  But I don't have any krill oil or cod liver oil, and I've been kind of scared about the whole "restarting the oil thing and my stomach freaking out and I can't miss work" element that has accompanied the end-of-the-quarter reporting cycle the last couple weeks.  But now that I'm done with and have been appropriately lauded for all those reports, this is a week where I could call in sick/go home early if my digestion rebels against the onslaught of oil.  So I'm going to jumpstart this whole thing with the flaxseed oil I already have, and think about trying a different oil combination once my body settles down into this routine.  It starts on Monday.  Wish me luck.

I can't believe I forgot to show the cool watch I wore on Friday with my puffy vest outfit.  The J. Crew styling included a big gold-faced watch but instead I wore my new (Life Style Challenge Week 6 reward) watch:

Yes, a bunny.  It is the Nerdy Bunny watch from Charming Charlie, and it looks exactly like me (well, only being a plastic bunny-shaped watch instead of a living human).  I too have gold cateye glasses.

Burberry B1249 in champagne

Although I do not have gold-colored ears, I have gold-colored hair that matches the color of my glasses.  I have a round shaped, pale (if not actually white) face.  And time-telling is one of my superpowers.  So there you go.

I saw a woman on a blog wearing a bunny watch from Charming Charlie, and when I went to their site, discovered that they sell four different bunny watches (!!!!)--the nerdy bunny was the obvious choice for me.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Versatile Vest Variety Victory

MMMSC Day 12: J. Crew Inspired--Friday, 4/24/15

I don't think I own a single J. Crew garment.  Their stuff seems to be over-priced for the quality, according to...well...basically everyone, but especially in my reading, the Capitol Hill Style blog.  So I've never bought anything from them, not even the cheaper J. Crew Factory line, and I haven't found any of their stuff at the thrift store (perhaps because it all falls apart first?).

But I am familiar with the idea of J. Crew as the originator of trendy styling practices, so I went to Pinterest in search of something to use with my decidedly non-J. crew wardrobe.  Aha, a puffy bright pink vest--we are in business.


I don't own a gingham shirt--OMG style blogger FAIL--but I'm of the opinion that any classic pattern will do, such as my beloved stripes.  Here we go with my late-spring version of a several years old J. Crew outfit, worn with trouser jeans that sorta tap into the current popularity of flared jeans (or so I tell myself).

Pink/purple/green striped button up shirt (thrifted, Bass)+
Cream cashmere pullover sweater (Macy's)+
Bright pink puffy vest (thrifted, Casual Corner)+
Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)+
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks+

With an expected high of 59 F, this outfit was kind of pushing it, weather-wise, but I figured, What the hell--that's the advantage of layers, right?  You artfully devise an outfit that looks and feels great and then you start removing items until you're left with something awkward, boring, or worse (e.g., just wearing a shirt you kept despite the fact that it has a mustard stain on the front because "it will look fine if I wear it under a sweater"--sucker!).

Verdict: I'm glad that I zipped the sleeves off this puffy jacket to turn it into a vest.  It feels a lot more versatile that way, and from a purely practical perspective, it's nice to not have to deal with the tightness in the arms that accompanied my wearing the jacket with anything more than a single light layer.  Sweater vests, quilted vests, puffy ski-style vests--I'm really liking vests as a layering piece this year.  And I'm glad to catch this one for my Work the Wardrobe challenge before it migrates for the summer the weather is too warm to make it at all a plausible garment to wear.  I was actually comfortable in all my layers until about 3 p.m., when I took off the vest.

As for the puffy jacket I (sorta) destroyed to make this vest, I've kept the arms in case I want to re-attach them, but seriously, I've moved on.  For under $35 I was able to get a super nice replacement lightweight puffer at the Jones New York sale that is a bit longer and a bit looser (to better accommodate fall and winter layers).  It's also black--perhaps not my first choice for a casual coat/jacket but it's certainly a useful color that is the Official Puffy Jacket Color of the Snow City/Coldville metroplex.  I also discovered on a recent wearing that it is reversible--the side I've been wearing is quilted but the other side might be rain-resistant (I have not tried it yet).  And if I keep checking Goodwill, I'll find another colorful replacement for this pink jacket that I bought at Goodwill to begin with.  Jackets are quite abundant at local thrift stores--not as insanely ubiquitous as fleece (in all seasons), but readily available in a good variety.

In other news...I had the strange experience at work on Friday of being asked to come to a meeting just so everybody could tell me how awesome these reports I put together for them were.  A small victory, but I'll count it nonetheless.

I still don't know what's going on with my job situation, though in a recent meeting some people were discussing the fact (of which I had not been completely aware) that our counterparts in the Snow City organization had all been laid off effective July 1 and everyone had to reapply for the (fewer?) jobs that will exist in the department in the new fiscal year--this is the way that the organizations have to operate given the pure seniority basis of layoffs by union rules.  My manager said something like, That's a really tough situation for all of them and I'm glad we aren't facing that.  So I don't know what that means exactly, but I can't help think it's a small ray of hope.  Because you know, they're just going to lay me off (the lowest seniority person) and be done with it...or maybe something less dire.

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 22: V is for Versatile Vest Variety Victory

Friday, April 24, 2015


MMMSC Day 13: Fab Flats--Thursday, 4/23/15

I have many pairs of fab flats, but one that I haven't worn in while is a pair of soft grey flats with a black ribbon across them.  I thought the grey flats with a black cap toe in this inspiration photo was a pretty good match, so I decided to do my own take on the rest of her outfit as well.


Oddly, I couldn't settle on a blue patterned top that I liked with the microcheck skirt I had selected, so I substituted a black patterned top with a bit of cobalt blue in the design.  At first I thought I liked my shirt better with the plain grey skirt I've worn it with before, but in the end, I think I prefer it this way--and after leaving this pencil skirt to languish unworn in my closet for so many months, I have some catching up to do.  (Also, the figure-hugging nature of this pencil skirt makes it a great thing to wear with a voluminous upper half like this drapey cardigan.)

Black/white/blue blouse (Kohls)+
Cobalt blue cardigan (Lands End)+
Microcheck pencil skirt (JCP)+
Grey tights+
Grey flats with black ribbon by Louise et Cie+
Blue bead necklace by RB+

See how snazzy these shoes are?  I'm not sure I've worn them with grey tights before...or at least not for a while, but I like the effect.

Verdict: Yep, it's definitely still tights season this week. 

Bonus link:  I enjoyed This Is What Plus-Size Clothes Look Like on Plus-Sized Women (thanks, Tam).  The amusing commentary by the two women in question is very much on point.

I have umbrellas on the brain right now because of the rainy weather that's coming up--April showers, that should be a thing.  Astonishingly, I still have my orange and green dragonfly umbrella that looks like a Tiffany lamp, if that makes sense--I'd show it to you but I'm too lazy to go down to the car and photograph it.  Hah, I tried googling "dragonfly umbrella" and it popped right up.  Thanks, Internet!

I got it at Zilker Botanical Gardens a very long time ago.  I sort of can't believe I held on to it this long but (a) I absolutely prize it so I take care to hold on to it and (b) it's so distinctive, none of my co-workers etc. have dared to steal it from me!  The umbrellas that have lasted in my household are this beauty and a freebie Houston Astros/HEB umbrella Robert and I got at a game. 

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 21: U is for Umbrellas

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tipped Tights Ts

MMMSC Day 24:  Color Pop--Wednesday, 4/22/15

There is definitely a thing where women choose a bright, contrasting-colored handbag to provide a pop of color in their outfit.  I get it...but I don't get it.  It's like when I see somebody online showing off a cute outfit that is all about their coat--it looks great, but what happens when you get to work and take off your coat?  Now you're just wearing a dress or pants and a blouse.  Same deal with the handbag.  It makes more sense to me when you're out shopping and wearing your coat/carrying your purse the whole time, but not so much for sitting in your office.

Of course, this is a quite interesting outfit even without the purse.  I liked the idea of using this color palette with a somewhat different pop of bright pink.


I think the scarf is a great way to get that pop of pink into the outfit in a more lasting fashion.  Also, check out that tipped blazer!  JNY came through with this puppy for a mere $27.25 (no, I didn't memorize this; I have the receipt right next to me).  I love it!  Oddly, yesterday I saw a link on a blog I read to the plus-size version of this blazer at Macy's on sale for $119.  Muahahaha.

(I also really like these tights that fit magically perfectly.)

Dark teal pencil skirt (JCP)+
Black polka dot top (Kohls)+
*Black tipped blazer (JNY)+
Black tights+
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman+
Bright pink scarf (Target)+

See, I really am wearing a polka dot top underneath the blazer.  I like that if it gets too warm for the blazer in the afternoon, I've still got the black and white pattern going with the top.  It's the little things, yo.

Verdict: I felt comfortable and subtly bad-ass in this all day.  (Yeah, it's the boots.)

It's true that it's hard to find a T-shirt with writing that isn't stupid/offensive or in French/about France.  What would your self-designed white T with black writing say?  My top of mind choices:  "Happiness is a warm bun" and "DISAPPROVE."  Yep, I've got bunnies on the brain right now because (a) bunnies and (b) a co-worker said in a meeting this morning, "We're like rabbits today hopping from topic to topic and going down every rabbit hole."

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 20: T is for Tipped Tights Ts

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Screen Sherlocks

For most of my life, Sherlock Holmes has been one of my favorite literary characters.  (It was only in the last few years, with so many apartment moves happening, that I finally downsized to only one complete Sherlock Holmes book set.)  Recent years have been good to Sherlock fans with the launch of two very good TV series: the BBC Sherlock and the American Elementary.  I caught up with Sherlock quickly (because British TV seasons are about 6 minutes long) and then turned last week to the first disk (4 episodes, I think) of Elementary.

Although there are many ways to celebrate S, the best letter of the alphabet, I thought a commentary on some of the screen Sherlocks I have known and, in some cases, loved, would be a fun project.

First, can you name the movie/TV show and/or actor that fit the following descriptors (based purely on my own characterization of their personality)?

The Asperger Dreamboat Sherlock

The Edgy Brawler Sherlock 

The Intense Wry Sherlock

The Quirky Damaged Sherlock

The Sarcastic Misanthrope Sherlock

The Straightforward Hero Sherlock

Answers, and my comments, follow the adorable Snoopy Great Detective image.

You can buy this figurine at Amazon; I own a Christmas tree ornament version. Of course.

The Straightforward Hero Sherlock
Actor:  Basil Rathbone
Movies:  14 films between 1939 and 1946
Check out that elegant silk neck scarf.  Classy, Sherlock!

It has been a very, very long time since I've seen any of these films, and at this point I only remember The Hound of the Baskervilles, and one that takes place on a train, and one about a Nazi agent that may or may not be the same movie as the one on the train--that should tell you just how solid my memory for these movies are.  But I do remember that Basil Rathbone's Sherlock is a (surprisingly) urbane, respectable, professional guy who occasionally veers into the territory of almost affable (though he pulls back from this brink quickly enough).  He's an extremely smart person, of course, and this is made all the more clear because his best friend Watson, the police detective Lestrade, and every other person is a complete fucking idiot.  But Sherlock always saves the day!

Basil Rathbone is probably the iconic Sherlock Holmes for the oldest generations.

The Edgy Brawler Sherlock
Actor: Robert Downey, Jr.
Movies: Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Complete with artful scrapes on his face.  And Lennon glasses, before Lennon.

Sure, I'm a sucker for an occult mystery and for Jude Law categorically, but I thought Robert Downey, Jr. made an interesting Sherlock in these films--scruffy, physical, a little more rough and gritty and dark in general than we're used to seeing Sherlock Holmes. 

The Sarcastic Misanthrope Sherlock
Actor: Hugh Laurie
TV Show: House, M. D.

A man reduced to pure genius, a love of monster trucks, and startling blue eyes.

What's that you say?  House is not Holmes?  BAH.  House is about as good a Holmes as we have seen in the last 20 years, and having him working as a medical detective is a fitting nod to Arthur Conan Doyle's real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell.  Really, by giving House all of Holmes' observational genius, prodigious memory, rudeness, eccentricity, grandstanding, and drug abuse as well as Watson's professional knowledge and physical injury, there's very little for his sidekick Dr. Watson Wilson to offer other than an ignored moral compass and a partner for banter (which is enough).

Also, anyone can see that Robert Downey, Jr.'s Holmes and Laurie's House are practically the exact same person.

The Asperger Dreamboat Sherlock
Actor: Bandersnatch Cummerbund Benedict Cumberbatch
TV Show:  Sherlock

"No, I can't go to prom with you, I am working on an experiment."

Let's get real for a moment.  Sherlock's grasp of psychology could use a bit of help here.  He's most definitely NOT a "high-functioning sociopath," no matter how much he may wish that to be true or how much he may identify with this distinctly non-kosher diagnosis (and note: there is no difference between sociopath and psychopath, the term Sherlock was reacting against).  Cumberbatch's Sherlock has a socially awkward Asperger-y quality that's a bit all over the map--he sometimes doesn't seem to care how people will respond to him, at others he simply mis-gauges the response, and occasionally he has to check in with Watson to find out whether his behavior was "no good?".

I found this difficult to take, at first, because it's not how I see "Sherlock Holmes."  (House's tendency to be the most egregious asshole he possibly can in most situations felt more in keeping with the Sherlock way--it demonstrates that he knows exactly what buttons to push and thus displays his superior intellect.  Also, being a total asshole to everyone you work with, including your girlfriend you work FOR, and yet not getting fired is a great way to underline that you're an irreplaceable genius.)  I had to walk away from the series after the second episode, but when I came back, I found I could accept it.  It helps to have British everyman Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson, playing the role with his usual quiet brilliance--sure, he "humanizes" Holmes and all that, but more importantly for me, he sells Cumberbatch as Holmes.  It helps that the 50 British actor (whom I've most recently seen playing a stick-up-his-ass banker of Braavos on Game of Thrones) who plays Mycroft is excellent in the role.

And OK, it helps that Cumberbatch is easy on the eyes.  And I do mean easy.  No predatory Robert Downey Jr./Hugh Laurie Glares of Doom looks going on here.  (I think he looks a little empty--maybe he's trying to do a more-robotic-than-thou thing?)  You could really be tempted to run your fingers through those curls.  He seriously wouldn't like it, but he probably wouldn't kill you if you tried it--he'd just insult you.  This makes him almost a nice guy by Sherlock standards.

The Quirky Damaged Sherlock
Actor: Jonny Lee Miller [who Robert says is "actually British despite sounding like a guy from Kentucky"]
TV Show: Elementary

"As if."

I had zero resistance to the idea of Dr. Watson being a woman (especially a woman as awesome as Lucy Liu).  Actually, I loved the idea, though I wondered why a woman would hang around Sherlock long enough to develop any affection or loyalty to him whatsoever.  Let me amend that: how would any person hang around Sherlock long enough to do that?  The explanation offered in The Young Sherlock Holmes rings true to me: Watson and Holmes met and became friends in a British boarding school, where I'm willing to believe almost anything can happen.  But they handled this very well on Elementary by introducing Joan Watson as the "sober companion" hired by Sherlock's father to watch him and keep him away from drugs after Sherlock's stint in rehab.  (On preview, I had to amend that sentence to say "watch him" instead of "match him"--she does match him in a way, but that wasn't what she was hired to do.)  She hangs around him because it's her job.  OK.

So, this is the tamest Sherlock yet.  Yeah, he's got his issues, and he's a pain in the ass, and he likes kinky sex with hookers, and he's definitely a druggie, and he's got this whole tattoos/graphic Ts/suit vests look going on that's sorta weird, but yes, he's kind of a pussycat really.  He's apologizing to Joan Watson in like episode 1.  Whoa.

The strangest thing for me about this series is how they've done away with one of the critical characters in the Sherlock stories.  I don't mean Mrs. Hudson, I don't mean Mycroft, I don't mean Irene Adler, I don't mean Moriarty.  I'm talking about the city of London.  It's disconcerting to see Sherlock making his way in NYC.  (Hah, I'm totally laughing at the idea now of Holmes and Watson showing up to help Kate Beckett and Castle solve a murder.  Too bad the shows are on competing networks...although actually, of course they are.)

I've only just started watching it, but I like it fine so far.  It feels like any other good-quality American police procedural/mystery with a buddy aspect, only with a Sherlockian detective who is actually named Sherlock.

The Intense Wry Sherlock
Actor: Jeremy Brett
TV Show:  Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994)

In the spirit of saving the best for last, I offer you the definitive screen Sherlock: Jeremy Brett.

100% Sherlock Holmes. Guaranteed.

Jeremy Brett brought everything to the role--his Sherlock is sharp, dangerous, tormented, occasionally vulnerable, impatient, patient, cold, impassioned, brilliant, sometimes ludicrous, and most of all, wry--wry in every sense of the word.  Sardonic, vexed, devious, perverse, ironically amusing and ironically amused.  I love that there is an unpredictability and volatility in him.

I watched a few episodes of the show within the last couple years and I was blown away once again by how thoroughly Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes.  (I was also interested to see a very young Jude Law in a minor role in a 1990 episode.)

Also, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch will be this attractive--with an amazing and interesting face--when he grows up.  After all, Jeremy Brett was an astonishingly pretty face when he was young.  He played Audrey Hepburn's love interest in My Fair Lady, of all things!

Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes is the Sherlock to beat, and I really doubt that's going to happen in my lifetime, if ever.

That said, thankfully there need not be only one Sherlock Holmes.  I'm hopeful for many, many more versions and variants to come.  So that I can enjoy them and ultimately declare them inferior to Jeremy Brett.  It's a thing I do.

Do you have a favorite Sherlock Holmes?  (Saying "the Sherlock Holmes in the books" is cheating, but I can accept that if it's true.) 

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 19: S is for Screen Sherlocks

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Remix Ruffles Realism Roomy Reason

MMMSC Day 21: Chambray Remix--Tuesday, 4/21/15

There's just no stopping the chambray train.  At this rate, I'll have my cost-per-wear on this 88 cent shirt down to nothing in no time.

Since my Easter dress was all bad-ass bunnies, I decided to get my Easter egg pastels on by wearing my lavender cardigan.  Maria provided a good chambray-and-lavender starting place for my outfit.


I dressed things up just a bit with grey trousers, grey leopard wedges, and pearls.  And ruffles down the front of my faux-chambray shirt, of course. 

Chambray button up shirt (thrifted, LL Bean, 88 cents)+
Lavender cardigan (thrifted, Eddie Bauer)+
Grey pants (thrifted, Loft)+
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan+
Double strand pearls (Macy's)+

Whoo, that's such a relief to have the chambray button up shirt out of the way for the year.  Man, cognac boots, chambray shirt--I really am starting out this year by checking off the sartorial equivalent of the house sparrow and the turkey vulture.  Well, it's OK to ease into this thing...especially since I'm finishing up the MMM Style Challenge at the same time.  She dictated chambray--I couldn't help it!  Also, let me get real for a moment and point out that I added a pair of grey trouser socks to this outfit--it's just too cold this week for the sockless thing.  I drove home through snow flurries this afternoon!

Verdict: I'm not usually a pastels person, but for some reason I'm sort of obsessed with lavender ever since putting this outfit together.  I want to wear lavender with all the things.  Well, Coldville is a wear-cardigans-9+-months-per-year kind of town, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to remix the cardigan.

I'm also very happy by how I've cleaned my closet out.  I won't go so far as to say it's roomy, exactly, but it's not so over-stuffed anymore.

And the Wear the Wardrobe Challenge is a big reason I have not bought this adorable elephant T from Loft (at 40% off).  Even after cleaning out my closet, I still have a lot of short sleeved tops to wear this year (esp. by Coldville standards).  If it's not thrifted, bunnies, from another crazy Jones New York sale, or filling a clearly defined hole in my wardrobe (of which right now I have identified this many in the short sleeved top category: 0), that short sleeved shirt just isn't coming home to me right now.

Uh-oh, they also have an elephant scarf!  Well, I don't need another red/blue/white scarf either.  I'll just stick with my silly fish scarf instead.

You might conclude that these Loft items are irrelevant, and you're right!  "There's a whole lot of irrelephants in the circus."

 A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 18: R is for Remix Ruffles Realism Roomy Reason

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quick Quiet Quarterlies

MMMSC Day 18:  Color Block--Monday, 4/20/15

Hurray for winter's last gasp, bringing cool, rainy weather back to Coldville (after a week of sunny days with highs around 70) so I can replicate this outfit that I loved from the Fashionably Employed blog.


I feel like I nailed this one.

Navy cardigan (Kohls)+
Bright teal pencil skirt (JCP)+
Navy/teal striped T (Kohls)+
Navy scarf (Target)+
Navy leggings+
Tall cognac boots by Sam Edelman+

(Items marked with + are new for the Work the Wardrobe challenge.  It's like your first birding outing of the year, when even the ubiquitous house sparrow counts as new for the year--it's easy to make quick gains.)

I have to admit, even though tall cognac boots are a fashion blogger cliche, they really worked in this outfit.  Teal, navy, and cognac are a very appealing combination.

Verdict:  It was a good thing I was bundled up a bit today because it was quite cool.  There was a stiff breeze this afternoon when I left work, and when I got into the car, the radio guy said it was 43 degrees.  Yikes.

It was a relatively quiet day at work today because my officemate is on vacation today and tomorrow (staying home, working on her house--one of those home improvement projects that make me glad to be a renter).  But I had a nice amount of work to do, so the day went quickly.  My quarterly reports that were due at the end of the day today?  I had them out by 2 p.m.  Yay.  And just before I left for the day, I received the data file that I need for my next big set of reports, so I'm looking forward to getting started with that tomorrow morning.

A to Z Blogging Challenge Day 17: Q is for Quick Quiet Quarterlies

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Progress Project

I made good progress on the Life Style Challenge this week.  I still need to exercise tonight, but otherwise, I've completed all the tasks.

Life Style Challenge Week 6 Review:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Pick a new paleo recipe for next week

Not only did I find a new paleo recipe, I made it and it was actually pretty good!  It's a recipe for cookies made from shredded coconut, sweetened with maple syrup, and flavored with cocoa and walnuts.  They turned out a little less sweet than I would have liked, but otherwise tasty.

This week looks identical to last week by design.  The length of one standard American "hour long" TV episode without commercials is about 43 minutes, so that's how long I typically go.  But 43 minutes x 3 days a week is 2 hours and 9 minutes...getting close to the general recommendation of 2.5 hours per week.

Life Style Challenge Week 7:

(1)  No bread, no pasta, no rice
(2)  Cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (T, Th, Sat)
(3)  Strength training exercise for 10 minutes, 2 days a week (W, F--or after cardio)
(4)  Average 2 or fewer Triscuits per day
(5)  Pick a new paleo recipe for next week 

I have also been doing another big closet clean-out.  So far I've tried on and made decisions about all my dresses, shirts, and skirts.  Pants, sweaters, and jackets I haven't done yet.  I have filled a bunch of bags with items to take to Goodwill and my closet is looking a little bit more reasonable (a bit).  Going through my wardrobe, and looking at the new items I've ordered recently from the crazy Jones New York sale, I decided that it's time to revisit the wardrobe database project I had considered months ago--this time, to support my new personal wardrobe challenge.

I'm tired of forgetting about the things I have (and holding on to things I maybe don't really like enough) so my new challenge, starting on Monday, is the Work the Wardrobe Challenge. 

Let me explain first by way of analogy.  In the birding world, among people who are into keeping lists of bird sightings (life lists, state lists, etc.), one type of list is the year list--the goal is to record how many species you see during the year (usually the calendar year).  I've decided to flip this around a bit because even in Coldville, it doesn't really make sense to try to maximize the number of clothing items you wear in a year.  (And any such goal would reinforce my tendencies toward extraneous shopping, and I don't need the help.) 

Instead, my goal is that by April 19, 2016, I will have worn everything I own at least once.

To many, perhaps all of you, this will sound crazy--like having the goal to chew my food this week with my teeth, i.e., not much of a challenge.  But I own enough clothes/shoes/accessories that it's easy to overlook certain items, and it makes me a big disappointed at the end of a season to realize that I hadn't gotten around to wearing something that's now too hot/cold/whatever for the new weather. 

I am not going on a shopping ban or anything like that.  I am perfectly free to add to and subtract from my wardrobe as I desire.  But I hope that this goal will push me into the back of the closet rather than grabbing whatever has just come off the drying rack.

I'm going to keep track of my wardrobe items and what I wear when in a simple Excel spreadsheet.  I've decided that what I want to record is just not complicated enough to warrant the up-front time sink of developing an Access database and data entry forms for.  So far I've added most of my dresses and all of my skirts to the spreadsheet.  Keeping track of things will give me some new data to geek out over, which is always fun.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Old Navy Favorite

MMMSC Day 17: Old Navy Favorites--Friday, 4/17/15

This is a tougher challenge than it should be because of how often I try to buy something from Old Navy but it doesn't work out because the garment turns out to be 2 sizes too small in one dimension and 1 size too big in another.  But there is one Old Navy item (which I bought at Goodwill) that deserved to be called a "favorite"--my white with black stripes button up shirt.

My inspiration for this look comes from one of the ensemble suggestions on You Look Fab, a website to which I was introduced by Debbie and which quickly became a go-to (a "favorite" if you will).  Of course, the items and outfits on You Look Fab are much more modern and stylish than what I typically wear, but I enjoyed the opportunity to put a more Sally-esque casual/classic/thrift-store spin on one of Angie's ensembles.  She called this one "Flared Jeans with a Crisp Touch." 


My first thought was to pair my striped button up with my magenta blazer, but the cotton woven fabric of the shirt bunched oddly under the knit blazer (which I'd also forgotten had 3/4 length sleeves) and it wasn't as bright a pink as in the inspiration photo--a color I really wanted to include in my outfit.  So I tried it with a very plain cardigan in a knit fabric that is thicker than a typical T-shirt but thinner than a typical sweatshirt.  It was a bit awkward at first working with the woven-under-T-shirt thing, but after a bit of arranging everything, it looked all right.  Then I tried rolling up the sleeves to show off the striped cuffs and I was happy.

I took the gold color on the sunglasses and put them on my necklace, and I chose the grey ankle boots directly from the visual, and there you have it: me in an outfit that I could not photograph very well. (I kept changing my mind about how much of the cardigan to button; in the end, I ended up buttoning all but the bottom button.)

Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
Bright pink t-shirt cardigan (Lands End)
Black striped button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy)
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles
Gold shelled pea necklace (Target)

And Robert came to my rescue by fixing my necklace that (woo, high Target quality!) apparently came apart (without my noticing it) the last time I removed it.  When I took the necklace back out from the storage case, I couldn't even figure out what was wrong with it--it's like, there's this extra chain here and I don't understand what it is and where it should go and how the hell did this even happen.  I did, however, identify the correct tool for Robert to use to fix it (needle nosed pliers)--must be all that adventure game playing I do with my mom that allows me to figure out what tool I need.

Verdict: Another warm day in Coldville, so I dumped the cardigan after lunch. 

Man, I am so glad it's the weekend!  I had a good week, but I'm tired.

A to Z Challenge Day 15: O is for Old Navy Favorite

Thursday, April 16, 2015


MMMSC Day 4: Floral Print--Thursday, 4/16/15

The floral print/stripes pattern mix is hugely popular.  I could have created an entire Pinterest board just from outfits with this combo (but instead have left them in my One Huge Pinterest Outfit Board to Rule Them All, which is of course utter chaos).  I decided to use this one as my inspiration today because I have pieces that match it pretty well. 

Black and white striped shorts are with minimal integrity loss turned into a black and white striped skirt.  The black/blue/pink floral jacket is a pretty good match for my black/blue/purple/yellow Monet watercolor floral tuxedo jacket--which is not properly floral but seems very floral to me.  I could have tried a chambray button up shirt but I didn't love the look of it here, and I think the feel of the stiff fabric would be even worse, so I switched it out for an aqua blue T that works well with the blue of the jacket.  I took the opportunity to try my new yellow necklace--did you know yellow is a hot trend for spring?  (That's what the Internet tells us.  So are flared jeans--yay!  So is denim on denim--boo!  So is some particular kind of purse--snooze.)

Well, the final product is quite a bit different but I liked it.

But wait, you can actually get a decent idea of what this outfit looks like, what gives?  I enlisted Robert as my photographer because this jacket just will not cooperate at all when I put my hands up for a photo (I mean, even less than my outfits normally do, which is not much).

"Monet" watercolor floral tuxedo jacket (thrifted, Target)
Black and white striped knit pencil skirt (thrifted, Target)
Aqua T (thrifted, Kohls)
Black tights
Black wedges (thrifted)
*Yellow necklace (Kohls)

I was irritated that I was not able to wear the first top I selected because the "infamously tight Target arms" problem struck again--only this time, it was the forearms that were too tight because the lining in the sleeves was kind of loose and messed up and taking up way too much of the space in there (which was a weird experience because my forearms are the skinniest part of my body relative to my overall size, so sleeves are never too tight there).  I had to switch to a short-sleeved T and it wasn't quite as dark as the long-sleeved one.  I mean, it's fine, but I sort of preferred the darker tone.  Luckily the yellow necklace is a highlighter/neon shade that stands out just fine against the paler aqua.

Once I figured out the secret to tights (size up!), I have found wearing tights with a skirt to be more comfortable than wearing the skirt with bare legs.  I'm going to eke out the tight-wearing season as long as I can.

Verdict: OK, as it turns out, these tights were kind of annoying in the segmented worm way today.  They felt fine at first but slowly started to roll down, dig in, and basically cause me irritation.  Bah.  It's like they never make tights long enough in the waist.  I can get leggings that work fine but tights are so tricky.

I'm feeling good but kind of tired tonight so I feel like I've got nothing on the whole alphabet blogging challenge thing.  Oh wait.  Perfect.

A to Z Challenge Day 14:  N is for Nothing

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Easter Dress

My Easter Dress--Wednesday, 4/15/15

Although my Easter dress did not arrive in time for me to wear it on Easter, that really didn't matter because it's not like I went anywhere special on Easter--I just stayed home and wore my stand-by Cuddle Bunny shirt with the excellent Groucho Bunny socks that the Easter Bunny left for me.

But now it's here and I'm ready to share this wonder with the world.

This is the fabric, which I could simply not resist.

It's a rabbit print!  When I showed it to Robert, he said, They're not all in the same position.  Nope, this is fabric with bunnies in four different positions.  Pretty sweet, right?  But with the neutral colors, not cloyingly so.

I bought the dress from eShakti, a company in India that sells super-cute stuff and, most importantly, customizes the clothes to fit the measurements you send them and allows you to pick from a few options (for this dress, it included the type of collar and the length) for a mere $7.50 extra.  Because I was a new customer, I got $40 off my first order plus free customization and the dress was already on sale.  So how did the custom job work out?

I thought it fit great!  I was really glad to be able to order a knee-length dress and have it be knee-length on me.  I haven't owned a shirt dress for a very long time--I find them difficult to fit with my waist-to-hip ratio but the customization to my measurements (and the old-school flared skirt on this dress) worked out very well.

So to wear this to work, I decided to go all Tough Bunny with the addition of ankle boots and moto jacket (my go-to solution for making something pretty a little bit tougher).

*Bunny shirt dress (eShakti)
Black moto jacket (JCP)
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman

Verdict:  I'm a bad-ass in a bunny dress.  Woot!

I'm also loving my new haircut I got on Sunday--a chin length bob.  Because I wash my hair at night and sleep on it wet, it gets wavy and a little bit crazy as it dries over night, which is an oddly good look, actually.  It's more "stylishly tousled" than "in need of a brush." 

A funny thing happened at the hairdresser.  Robert told me that while he was waiting after getting his hair cut, he saw a woman who looked a lot like my sister getting her hair cut.  It took him a moment to realize that it was me.  Apparently with my hair wet from just being washed, the darker color threw him off, and somehow darker hair + my family resemblance + no glasses = a person who looked like Jen.  I know that my hair color is a definitive aspect of my look, but it's amusing that it's true to this extent.  If I want Robert to continue recognizing me as we get older, I'm going to have to plan to color my hair blonde when I start going grey (though thankfully there's no sign of that yet).

A to Z Challenge Day 13:  M is for My Easter Dress