Monday, February 29, 2016

Exhausted Already

And It's Only...--Monday, 2/29/16

While either a navy sweater or pop-of-color sandals look just fine with this outfit, I think you can guess which one I chose...


...but then I discovered that my navy pullover sweater is too short and had to be purged.  So I substituted an olive sweater in its place.  Plus tall grey boots for the win!

Olive pullover sweater (Kohls), $2.83/wear
Light grey skirt (JCP), $3.61/wear
Navy scarf (Target), $1.71/wear + navy owl scarf (Nordstrom), $3.33/wear
Grey leggings
Tall grey boots by LifeStride, $12.50/wear

Outfit total: $23.98/wear

I could have gone with something bold here, like the coral cheetah scarf, but I wanted to revisit the navy scarf + owl scarf combination.  I tied it a little differently here from last time, and I liked the effect.

In other news...Not a great night's sleep, too much work to do today, an intense (i.e., draining to the introvert) meeting that kept me a bit late at work, the dreaded "drivetrain malfunction" message on my car on the way home (like others experienced, when I turned off then restarted the car, it operated normally; knock wood that it was another random erroneous error message and not something that will lay my car flat or that I will otherwise have to take it in to be serviced for) now I feel completely worn out and in need of another weekend.  Fuck you, Leap Monday.

But on a happier note, Tam texted me that I should look at today's Google doodle.  I immediately texted Robert that he should look at today's Google doodle.  Robert didn't get my text until lunch when he picked up his phone to text me that I should look at today's Google doodle.  So dear reader, look at today's Google doodle!  If you've looked already, look again!

And if it's been a tough day, I don't know why I'm surprised.  Leap Monday can presage nothing good.

This otter dwarf knows that today is going to suck.

I otter have known.

Bring the Bling

Wearing Mixed Up Outfits: A Litmus Test--2/28/16

This inspiration photo combines a plaid button up shirt, a bright pink puffy vest, and a big-ass necklace with jeans.  It seems sort of incongruous yet interesting.  Shall we try it?


I chose my trusty dark plaid flannel shirt as my base layer.  It's funny, this is a men's shirt I bought several years ago as a robe substitute and then, once we moved to the frozen north, started wearing to bed with various knit shirts and flannel pajama bottoms (that did not come with a matching "jacket").  I think last year was the first time I tried wearing it in a non-sleep/non-lounging context.  I wore it earlier this winter when Robert and I visited the ivory gull along the cold lakeside.  So it's got a really funky cost-per-wear going here.

For the necklace, I brought out the mega-fancy one I purchased for Robert's mom's cocktail wedding.  I have hoped that it would work in other situations...and I am choosing a pretty extreme one to test its versatility.  But if you can't wear a men's flannel shirt with Barbie's ski vest and a cocktail wedding necklace and masculine suede Oxfords on the weekend, then this isn't America!

Green plaid flannel button up shirt (Walmart), $1.67/wear [non-sleep-related]
Bright pink puffy vest (thrifted, Casual Corner), $0.44/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Kohls), $1.75/wear
Blue/crystal bib necklace (Baublebar), $26.00/wear
Black suede Oxfords (thrifted, Munro America), $0.83/wear

Outfit total: $30.69/wear [85% of which is the necklace!]

In other news...I spent most of the day on a closet clean-out!  More on that later.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Strangely Warm Saturday in February

Dog Park and Extra Exercise--Saturday, 2/27/16

Focal item: Grey snowflake cardigan

I bought this cardigan, which was pretty pilled and a bit ratty-looking, at the thrift store for a bad reason.  J. Crew cardigan are expensive, and you almost never see J. Crew at Goodwill, so getting one for $6 is a steal, right, even if it's in kind of rough shape?  Well, maybe.  I've only worn this item once (the winter of 2014, I think) since I bought it, so that's not such a great bargain after all.  I decided to give it another try after working on it with my new sweater shaver.

Because this is clearly a weekend wear cardigan, I looked to this fairly casual outfit inspiration with the idea of pairing the grey cardigan with something orange.


And I found myself with my Watership Down T, which has a bit of orange in it, and a big partly-orange scarf.

Grey snowflake cardigan (thrifted, J. Crew), $3.00/wear+
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Kohls), $1.75/wear
Watership Down T (Out of Print), $4.60/wear
Black/blue/orange floral/brushstroke infinity scarf (Kohls), $3.72/wear
Grey/rust/tan tribal flats (Payless), $4.00/wear

Outfit total: $17.07/wear

The result was pretty awesome, though this was more in spite of the cardigan than because of it--it's really flat out too short on me, in addition to its other shortcomings.  I think I would have liked the whole thing even better with the grey cardigan my mom gave me when I visited at Christmas (even though I will admit that this one is warmer).  So, sorry J. Crew cardigan, it's time to send you back to the thrift store.  Thanks for helping me learn an important lesson of thrift shopping--don't get so excited about a brand name that you pay too little attention to everything else!

In other news...Because it was crazily warm today, I only wore the cardigan part of the day (when the open windows let in a bit extra cool air).  Robert and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures--like EVERYONE ELSE IN TOWN--to take a walk along the river this afternoon, and we finished up by checking out the dog park.  I felt a little bit less like a creepy dog stalker today because I saw a couple other people without dogs watching the dogs too.  (So, maybe less like a lonely creepy dog stalker anyway.)  I think my favorite dogs of the day were a trio of dachshunds being walked along the river by two people.  Two of the dogs were older (grey at the muzzle) and one of them needed to be carried part of the distance.  Dachshunds have such a funny walk.  I think about 60% of their energy goes into lateral motion so they have a very waddle-y style.

This evening I doubled-down on my exercise by doing some PT/strength training while watching two episodes of Elementary.  This week I have made a point of watching some TV in the evening and doing some light non-aerobic exercise during it (in addition to the approx. 3-4 times per week that Robert and I watch Death in Paradise and use the treadmill and bicycle).  I'm really enjoying it--in part because I do not have any specific goals/routine in mind but do whatever I feel like.  (I have done enough weight lifting/strength training in the past that it's easily to do a bunch of different things while focusing my attention on the TV program, which serves as a nice distraction so I do more exercise than I otherwise would.)  I got started on this because I wanted to get in the habit of doing the PT exercises for my knee again, and because I can't do those exercises for the length of 1-2 episodes, it made sense to go ahead and so some other exercises too. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Old Meets New (Old)

Singing the Praises of an Old Standby--Friday, 2/26/16

In the blog post with this outfit, Jessica talks about "core classics" and their importance in her wardrobe.  I decided to recreate this outfit using one of my own closet champions, one of a set of surprisingly long-lived long-sleeved T-shirts from Walmart.  I know...Walmart?  I can't explain it but these shirts are...well, if not perfect, shockingly great and versatile.  And they have that sort of Traveling Pants quality of continuing to fit well even though I'm wearing at least one size larger in everything else than when I bought them.  It's strange.  But whatever, they make a terrific basic layer for all kinds of outfits.


I started with the old magical maroon T-shirt and topped it with my new corduroy jacket (which was somebody else's old corduroy jacket but let's not confuse things).

Maroon long-sleeved T (Walmart), $2.50/wear+
Olive corduroy blazer (thrifted, JCP), $3.50/wear
Skinny jeans (JCP), $1.08/wear
Brown leopard scarf (Kohls), $4.58/wear
Tall brown boots by Fitzwell, $6.18/wear

Outfit total: $17.84/wear

I think the real cost-per-wear on these shirts is counted in dimes now, I've had them so long, but even with my restarting the cost-per-wear with the introduction of outfits on this blog, the cost is coming down nicely.

In other news...Tomorrow it is supposed to get up to 57 degrees!  What the hell?

God, it has been such a long week. All I can say is... tired.  Oh so tired.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Stripey Goodness and Data Requests

Plus Mad Shoes--Thursday, 2/25/16

The blogger wore this outfit house-hunting, which is much more difficult than anything I had lined up today at work.  Still, I figured I could jump on her red dress + striped cardigan bandwagon.


In my case, this involved a combination of grey and black with a coral red dress.  Of course, I love the polka dot tights with the striped cardigan.  (Not that the poor lighting lets you see the polka dots--oh well.)

Coral red dress (Lands End), $13.50/wear+
Black/grey striped cocoon cardigan (Kohls), $2.76/wear
Grey polka dot tights
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles, $8.75/wear
Grey/coral tree print scarf (Target), $1.20/wear

Outfit total: $26.21/wear

I ended up adding a scarf because (1) brrrrr and (2) I liked how the coral in the scarf matched the dress.  I have two red dresses, which seems kind of silly, but I enjoy the distinction between the coral red of this one and the dark red of the other one.  This coral red looks stunning with grey to my eyes.

In other stripe news...Tam sent this link to a new Disney Alice in Wonderland shoe collection, of which she correctly guessed that I would prefer the Cheshire flats.

Even these are almost too much.  But the real question is, How do you trust wearing a pair of Cheshire Cat shoes?  When the body disappears, you're left with a very awkward toe cap and that's it!  I think I prefer my shoes to be a little bit more reliable than that.

As it turned out, I had a LOT to do at work today.  On Tuesday I got assigned the responsibility for coordinating data from a bunch of different people (some of which was good-to-go and other of which were bits and pieces that I need to do  analysis on) for an upcoming presentation to our board.  So the first thing I did this morning was send out emails to people letting them know what data is needed.  Luckily people have been pretty responsive so far.  I also came in this morning to find out that a request (for some data in an area that I am responsible for analyzing) had been lost in the bowels of our ticket system so....surprise!  (They submitted the request two weeks ago!  It's terrible.)  So now I have not only the board presentation data due next Wed. but this other not-insignificant data request due the same day.

Right now I have a pretty long list of projects I am working on in the coming few weeks.  Last night I thought that I was in the sweet spot where I am just busy enough to be maximally motivated without being stressed.  I then went into the lower end of the stress zone this morning, but by kicking all kinds of ass today in Data Analysis Land, I think I brought it back down into the not-quite-stressed category again.  Whew.

Data Analysis Land:  Not as fun and zany but also not as crazy-making as Wonderland.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What to Wear for User Acceptance Testing

Winter Serenity--Wednesday, 2/24/16

Today's Reverse Inspiration features two players from October 2014, which is a surprisingly time-targeted echo of my outfit.

#1:  First up, Anne wears a striped top and quilted vest from her fall wardrobe capsule...and eats ice cream.  Is it possible for my food cravings to travel back in time as well, affecting people's meal and snack choices?  That would really explain all the outfit of the day posts on Instagram that include spurious doughnuts!  (Which is so common there's an Instagram about it.)


#2:  Thank you, Google reverse image search, for helping me identify the blogger in this photo.  This one comes very close to my outfit with a striped top, blue dress worn as a skirt, and quilted vest.  (This is Nashville, so no tights with the ankle boots.)


However, since I'm wearing this in February, tights are a must.  (And yes, the black quilted vest appears yet again this week.  What the heck?)

Light blue sleeveless dress (Kohls), $10.00/wear+
Black and white striped top (Kohls), $0.85/wear
Black quilted vest (Mountain Lake/Stage), $1.67/wear
Black tights
Black LifeStride flats, $1.34/wear
Black/grey/pink big butterfly scarf (Kohls) [free]

Outfit total: $13.86/wear

And the outfit is not complete without the big-ass butterfly scarf (the matching light blue color is a winner).

In other news...Have you heard that light blue and light pink----sorry, I mean to say, "rose quartz" and "serenity"----are the Pantone colors of the year for 2016? 


The funniest comment I've heard about it (and I can't relocate where I read this!) is that it looks like preparation for a gender-reveal party.

A lot of women are highly uncertain about wearing these pastel colors, but for pale-skin blondes who do not work in corporate environments in which looking to "feminine" is looked down on, the colors could be a lot worse.  (I think my mom rocks these two colors better than anyone I know.)

In other news...I believe that my dashboards are acceptable.  Hurrah for that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Mad For Plaid--Tuesday, 2/23/16

A column of color (black) plus a plaid jacket makes for an easy work outfit.


I tried this out with a black plaid jacket I snagged at the December 88 cent sale with my mom.

*Black/maroon/beige plaid jacket (thrifted, Joan Leslie), $0.88/wear+
Black striped layering T (thrifted, Talbots), $1.00/wear
Black pants (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.71/wear
Gold tassel necklace (Kohls), $1.43/wear
Red/black paisley flats by Ivanka Trump, $1.75/wear

Outfit total: $5.77/wear

I thought yesterday's low total cost per wear would be hard to beat, but this one is really good!  (That's what happens when you wear several thrift store items and a couple of older pieces with several wears on them, I guess.)

I thought it looked really good with this long tassel necklace.

Now in this post about wearing prints and patterns to work (in a conservative/business professional work environment), the blogger suggests sticking to a single pattern.  Well, it's a good thing that my workplace is business casual because print mix is where it's at.  I did a subtle print mix on top by wearing a black top with very faint (slightly glittery) stripes that you can't even see...

...but the wow factor in this outfit comes from this sock/shoe combination.  Plaid with paisley (in very similar colorways, though) works for me.  I was pretty much happy every time I looked down at my feet today.  Happy feet for the win!

In other news...It's been a while since I've done a book review, so I have a bunch of books piled up that I could talk about--after having a cold for two weeks where I feel like I did nothing but complain, eat carb-heavy foods, watch Netflix, and read, it's really two piles.

I thought I'd start with this one that I nabbed off my mom's "books to be read" shelf this past Christmas because (1) I was intrigued by it and (2) it had been sitting on that shelf for a couple of years.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I was like, Huh, I guess this is the book that the crazy-popular Broadway show is based on.  Knowing absolutely nothing about the show, I thought it possible that it might be a very simplistic book that it could be turned into a musical [now that I've been listening to Hamilton, I realize what a faulty assumption that is] but decided to try it anyway.

I'm really glad I did.

I believe this book does an amazing job of complicating the Oz universe, making it rich and dark and very, very funny.  (Confession:  I have seen the movie of The Wizard of Oz but I'm not sure that I've ever read any of the books--well, I feel like I've read one but I don't trust that feeling.  So my understanding of the original Oz universe is pretty rudimentary.  Still, I stand by my assessment.)

The book starts with a Munchkin couple--a minister (whose religion is being threatened by the newly popular Clock of the Time Dragon) and his hugely pregnant wife.  She's warning him that she feels like today's the day, and because this is very inconvenient to him (as he is traveling to a nearby village to preach against the Clock, which is going to do a show and enrapture the villagers into idolatry), he tells her, "Exert some self-control...Think of it as a spiritual exercise.  Custody of the senses.  Bodily as well as ethical continence."  She is amused by this.  "Self-control?  I have no self left.  I'm only a host for a parasite."

From the very first, I enjoyed his writing style, dialogue, and characterization.  The expansion of the universe feels fresh and new, taking advantage of our familiarity with Oz to twist and tweak our expectations.  After we meet the green-skinned child Elphaba, a wonderful coming-of-age-in-boarding-school story occurs (for those of us who find such things irresistible).  And then we get to see how a strange young girl becomes a "wicked witch" and what she does about it.

A sample amusing exchange:

"She's sent the crows out to blind the guests coming for dinner!"



"Well, that's one way to avoid having to dust, I suppose."

I'm not sure I'd go so far as one reviewer who said that it is "the best fantasy novel of ideas I've read since Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast or Frank Herbert's Dune," but my sense that it is not completely ludicrous to mention this book in the same sentence as the other two says a lot.

I just discovered on Amazon that there are 3 additional Oz books in this series, and I will definitely be trying the next one (Son of a Witch) and hoping it's as good (or close to as good) as this one.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Introducing the Sartorial Seasons

Yep, It's Still Winter for Another Week or So--Monday, 2/22/16

Christine wore this outfit on a day when it was -9 wind chill in the morning, so that seems like a promising basis for a Coldville winter outfit.


I upped the warmth factor (and reduced the professionalism factor) by using my MVP black quilted vest as the top layer in this outfit.  If I'm going to wear a single layer of t-shirt on top, I need to give it some oomph in some way, and this is one of the easiest ways there is.  So easy that I wore it two days in a row....and it's not the last you'll see of it this week.

Dark blue top with ruffle neckline (thrifted, Lands End), $2.00/wear+
Black quilted vest (Mountain Lake/Stage), $1.82/wear
Dark grey wide leg trousers (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $1.00/wear+
White polka dot scarf (Target), $2.85/wear
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious, $0.82/wear

Outfit total: $8.49/wear

In the process of putting this together, I decided to purge the grey pants I originally was going to wear.  The fit was pretty meh and I had this other pair that I like better--so why don't I just wear this pair each time, instead of splitting my wears?

One thing that was different about the other grey pants is that they were longer, so I could wear them with my leopard wedges.  With these pants, I'm back to the leopard flats (now at under $1 per wear).  (I'm trying to ramp up my wears of the leopard wedges with skirts--where heel height is so much less of an issue.)

In other news...I think I mentioned that for long-range outfit planning purposes, I have recently established 8 sartorial seasons for the Coldville calendar.  The most critical element is whether skirts are worn with bare legs or with tights (and whether flats are worn with socks), but I also adapt sleeve length/level of layering, switch out certain items (like corduroy skirt and lightweight cotton skirt in my brown skirt category), bring in limited seasonal items (tall boots I only wear with tights, nude/gold shoes I only wear with bare legs), and (to a certain extent) shift the color scheme.  I looked back at my outfits for the last couple years to estimate the length of the tights-free seasons.  This is my first year of using this schedule, so it will doubtless need tweaking, but here's what it looks like right now.

Sally's Sartorial Seasons

Winter/Spring Mar 1 Mar 30
Spring April 1 May 15
Spring/Summer May 16 June 30 No tights
Summer July 1 Aug 30 No tights
Summer/Fall Sept 1 Oct 15 No tights
Fall Oct 16 Nov 30
Fall/Winter Dec 1 Jan 15
Winter Jan 16 Feb 28

If you were going to design a sartorial season schedule for where you live, what would it look like? 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Quick $300 Target Run

Weirder in Conception Than in Execution--Sunday, 2/21/16

This layering technique was like, Hmm.  A purple top, an olive jacket, and a fuzzy vest.  How can that work at all and yet, it kind of does, doesn't it?


I decided to try something similar (knocking out a couple of items for the Work the Wardrobe Challenge in the process) but I had little hope that it wouldn't be utterly ridiculous.  But it turned out okay, I think.  And it was warm enough so I declare victory.

Olive cable knit cardigan (thrifted, Eddie Bauer), $2.50/wear+
Purple quilted-shoulder top (Daisy Fuentes/Kohls), $3.40/wear+
Black quilted vest (Mountain Lake/Stage), $2.00/wear
Skinny jeans (JCP), $1.15/wear
Tall cognac boots by Sam Edelman, $11.51/wear
Purple gumdrop necklace (Target), $3.12/wear

Outfit total: $23.68/wear

In other news...One of the academic psychologist's go-to idea-generators is: Take something that has been shown in the literature to have a certain effect--e.g., to be generally "bad" or "good"--and show that it can go the other way.  This article refers to a couple recent studies showing that high levels of self-control--a generally positive trait--can have downsides in the workplace because colleagues will pile the work on your shoulders and not give you full credit for it, possibly because they perceive that it takes you less effort.  This can lead to burn-out in high-achieving, high self-control employees.

This article made me think of Tam's grad school friend who has a seemingly dysfunctionally high level of conscientiousness.  In her case, it feels like a combination of high conscientiousness, a strongly internalized sense of duty/need to please/martyrdom/women doing all the emotional work/etc., and a hint of perfectionism.

In any case, I welcome more research into the downsides of high self-control.  In 2009, Roy Baumeister (the ego depletion guy) wrote an article "Is there a downside to good self-control?" that found only one study reporting a negative aspect of high trait self-control: reduced emotional sensitivity (which he points out can be both good and bad).  This more recent research speaks to a downside that every conscientious person knows--other people will totally take advantage of you if you let them.

Speaking of self-control, I intentionally did not regulate very strongly my desire to buy ALL THE RABBITS at Target this afternoon.  You know how it is, you go to Target to buy Sudafed from the pharmacy and you come home with everything in the store.  In addition to a bunch of stuff like conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, etc., and the bunny things that I helped the Easter Bunny select (which for the record was not literally every single thing), I also finally got a new pillow!  Going into the store, I saw a guy carrying a pillow out, which reminded me that I've been wanting a new pillow.  I got a nice-feeling memory foam one that I hope will work better and hold up better than the previous (inexpensive) pillows I've bought at Target.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tweed Weekend

With Boots--Saturday, 2/20/16

One way Bridgette Raes suggested wearing this red top and black pants was with a tweed jacket.


The white one she featured is very classy but I just can't stop with this marvelous colorful tweed blazer.

Colorful tweed blazer (thrifted, Sag Harbor), $0.29/wear+
Black jeans (thrifted, NYDJ), $1.67/wear
Red long-sleeved T (Walmart), $1.25/wear+
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman, $3.04/wear
Red/silver ribbon necklace (Kohls), $3.94/wear

Outfit total: $10.19/wear

Bright colors AND it has that edging that I adore?  I would definitely have spent more than 88 cents on this blazer, but I'm happy I didn't have to.

In other news...Texas doesn't get a lot of love in the K-12 education world, so it was nice to see this post about an elementary school in the Fort Worth area (Eagle Mountain) that quadrupled recess time for KG and G1 students with good results.  Note that the positive feedback so far is qualitative; this kind of program often lives or dies ultimately based on hard numbers like test scores, unfortunately.

I looked up the school on the Civil Rights Data Collection website and found that for the 2011 reporting year (the most recent available), the school is 82% white and 16% free/reduced price lunch, the profile of a school that probably already has high test scores given the racial/class predictability in that domain.  So it's not clear that they have a lot of room to move the dial on that metric.  OK, I found data on the Texas state assessments of math and reading, and it looks like this school does a bit better than the average elementary school in the state, moreso in reading than math (which makes sense given that only 1% of the students are classified as limited English proficient).  Hopefully the evaluators working the project will have a range of metrics they'll analyze in determining the success of the project.

Friday, February 19, 2016

On Wardrobe Minimalism

Vaguely Horsey, Must Be the Boots--Friday, 2/19/16

The cobalt blue blouse in this inspiration photo reminded me a lot of a blue blouse that I am trying to wear more often.  I wasn't sure how well it would work to try to get one more wear in during the Work the Wardrobe Challenge (now that the weather is cold) but this was a promising combination.


I felt that my version was reasonably faithful to the original (yep, it helps that I wear the same cognac boots as she prefers), though I did wear skinny jeans instead of skinny ponte pants (which I do not own).  The tweed blazer in the inspiration photo is awesome, but I wore this surprisingly useful mottled black/brown jacket instead.  (I think it was probably a part of a suit originally, though I bought only the jacket at the thrift store.)  When you want to wear both black and brown in an outfit, it can look a bit odd unless you make it look very intentional, and I find that wearing an item that already incorporates both colors is an easy solution to this.

Brown/black open front blazer (thrifted, Perceptions New York), $1.67/wear
Skinny jeans (JCP), $1.23/wear
Blue short-sleeved blouse (212/Kohls), $6.66/wear
Black/pink/blue sparkly scarf (Target), $3.00/wear+
Tall cognac boots by Sam Edelman, $12.66/wear

Outfit total: $25.22/wear

Using that brown/black jacket made it feel more acceptable to me to wear both cognac boots and this black striped scarf (which complemented the blue color of the blouse and I needed to wear it for the WtW Challenge so I'm glad it worked out).

In other news...It was nice to wear my newly-re-waterproofed boots today because we had RAIN, that liquid that falls from the sky and makes the ground wet (not icy).

Jen sent me this article about becoming a minimalist in the fashion realm by "wearing the same thing every day."  It's an interesting synopsis, re-iterating some of the points we've talked about on this blog before re: the efficiency and lack of decision fatigue involved in having a uniform.

One thing that struck me about it, though, was that it seemed to conflate some very different approaches to dressing.  For example, it talks about capsule wardrobes as though that is the same as "wearing the same outfit every day" (which I take to mean having a uniform).  NO.  I mean, you can use a capsule wardrobe as the basis for a uniform, but it's really not the same thing.

A capsule wardrobe is where you select a limited set of items that can be mixed and matched with each other to create various outfits.  Capsule wardrobes are often developed around a particular season or a particular use situation (e.g., work, stay at home mom, formal).  They often have a "minimalist" feel in the sense that you are limiting the number of items and there is often a focus on ensuring that you have your essentials covered.

But I do not believe that capsule wardrobes inherently lead to dressing the same all the time/wearing a personal uniform.  For example, check out this plus-size business casual capsule wardrobe--it contains a lot of different patterns, colors, and silhouettes so you might wear a bright ankle pant with a striped top and cardigan one day, a fit-and-flare patterned dress and blazer another day.  Here's another great example of a spring business casual capsule wardrobe--while utilizing a limited color palette to make mixing items easier, it has a lot of variety in the shapes (e.g., pencil skirt, ankle pants, bootcut pants, straight leg pants) and the textures of the items.  Both of these capsules give you the opportunity to maximize the variety of looks you can achieve with a minimal number of pieces.

Of course, you could easily create a capsule wardrobe that supports wearing a uniform.  Robert has a capsule wardrobe for his work clothes that makes it monkey simple for him to get dressed Monday through Thursday mornings in a pair of black or grey pants, a long-sleeved button up shirt (with a focus on blue, burgundy, and white color scheme), and matching black shoes/belt or oxblood shoes/belt.  On Friday, he wears a pair of somewhat more casual beige pants with a long-sleeved green (solid or patterned) button up shirt and a brown shoes (more casual)/belt set.  I helped him last time he "refreshed" his work wardrobe capsule and he was extremely intentional about it.

But in addition to having a capsule wardrobe that maximizes variety, you can have a huge wardrobe of similar items from which you generate your uniform.  There is nothing inherently contradictory about wearing a daily uniform consisting of a pair of skinny jeans, ballet flats, graphic T, and cardigan every day and owning an absolute TON of clothes.  (I mean, have you checked Threadless lately?  A person could spend a gazillion dollars on t-shirts there.)  And you might have a bunch of these items that mix and match well or have sets of them that you always wear together (e.g., you always wear the French bunny top with the grey striped cardigan and the bright pink ballet flats).  Or you might go the easiest route of all and have a really basic uniform and only the essential items to support it--like a bunch of white, grey, and black T-shirts, jeans, a couple jackets/cardigans, a few pairs of shoes, maybe a button up shirt and a pullover sweater in the same white/grey/black color scheme.

I guess I see at least 3 dimensions in play in these discussions of wardrobe "minimalism," all of which can get conflated:
(1) Variety--do you wear a uniform or wear a lot of different looks?
(2) Wardrobe size--do you own few clothes or a lot of clothes?
(3) Intentionality--do you shop carefully and curate your closet to achieve an overall coherence in your wardrobe or do you shop more randomly?

I think it's important to remember that these are separate dimensions and that you can choose to be more minimalist on some and more maximalist on others.  

Let's be clear--I am a wardrobe maximalist.  I have high variety, a large wardrobe size, and a tendency to shop randomly.  I have a lot of space to keep my clothes, I like bargain hunting and thrift shopping (both of which are highly reliant on serendipity), and obviously this whole thing is a hobby to me.  So I'm not really going to start worshiping at the altar of minimalism for minimalism's sake.

I think that article forgot to point out one of the reasons to pursue wardrobe minimalism:  It's what all the cool (non-"mainstream") kids are doing!  It's a way to avoid the "artificial pursuits" created by capitalism.  "Successful people" are doing it!  People who want to criticize consumer culture and write self-congratulatory articles displaying their "social consciousness" on the Internet are doing it!  (The quoted phrases all appear in the first couple paragraphs of the article.)

And thus as wardrobe minimalism becomes more frequently presented as the right way to have a wardrobe, people for whom wearing one of your 100 identical black turtlenecks every day (so that they can save their energy toward being an asshole) is not immediately appealing start to feel pressure and stress about how they can become minimalists.  (This can occur on top of existing feelings of anxiety and inadequacy because they are "mindful" enough.  Living a life of mindful minimalism while ensuring you have lots of interesting, enviable photos to post to social media is like the holy grail right now, I think.  Here I am wearing sustainably-produced organic cotton yoga pants, eating a perfect locally-grown tropical fruit you've never heard of and sitting with my gorgeous puppy on top of a mountain in the Andes.)

I wholeheartedly agree that minimalism can be awesome.  I have embraced food minimalism (eating the same simple meals over and over again, so low in variety, low in pantry size, and high in intentionality) and I am not looking back.  I mean, it frees up a lot of time for taking photographs of my scarves and posting them on the Internet, you know?  But it's not a necessity, it's not a morally superior way to live, it's not a competition, it's not something to beat yourself up over if you can't get as minimalist as somebody you read about on the Internet.  Minimalism (which is itself a multi-faceted construct) is something to do in the ways and to the extent that it serves you.

If you read no other thing in the world about capsule wardrobes, you MUST read this take on the reality of a capsule wardrobe for moms.  She had me at "1 set of fairy wings."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Back in Pants

Leopard Rabbit--Thursday, 2/18/16

In the blog post, she discusses mixing neutrals using different textures and patterns.  I am starting to like mixing brown and black lately, though I still think having something that incorporates both colors helps a lot with a unified look.  She did it with a tiger cardigan, and I did it with my leopard cardigan.


Like her, I wore brown pants in a shade that did NOT match the cardigan and a black top.  Did it work?

Brown wide leg trousers (thrifted, Nicole), $1.67/wear
Black long-sleeved T (Walmart), $0.83/wear
Brown leopard cardigan (Lands End), $9.22/wear
White Rabbit pocket watch pendant (Zad), $5.38/wear
Brown pointy-toed flats by Frye, $8.54/wear

Outfit total: $25.64/wear

If you think this outfit is nonsensical, let's blame the Wonderland influence of the White Rabbit.

In other news...Speaking of rabbit accessories, I am mad for this bunny bag charm.  Is that totally cute or what?  A woman with a purse with a rabbit with a purse.  The blogger had a pet rabbit named Sophie for 8 years, and a while after her bunny died, she found this little rabbit to carry around on her purse as a sentimental reminder.  Awwwwww!  Sophie used to travel with her on the train through Grand Central station in NYC, among her other adventures.  The charm is crazy expensive and no longer available and I don't have a cute purse to wear something like this on, so I'm safe, but I have to give the blogger major approval for her rabbit style here.



Red Plaid--Wednesday, 2/17/16

This is a pretty straightforward outfit, though I think the mint handbag and the brooch are nice touches.


Let's take another of my summer thrift store purchases, a red plaid skirt, and winterize this sucker.  (Note: this blogger lives in Canada, so she's no stranger to tights and boots.  I just happened to pick an outfit from a warmer season.)

*Red plaid skirt (thrifted, Hannah Anderson), $7.99/wear+
Black pullover sweater (thrifted, Calvin Klein), $1.67/wear
Green scarf (Target), $2.40/wear+
Black leggings
Tall black boots by Fitzwell, $2.92/wear
Not pictured: Black moto vest (JCP), $3.40/wear [worn during the morning while it was chilly]

Outfit total: $18.37/wear

I went with a bright green scarf as my nice touch.  Really, it's big and bold enough to count as two touches, I think.

In other news...This workweek is halfway over.  Yay.

This article presents the most important financial tips...and they fit on an index card.  Interesting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Slip Sliding Away

Grey Elephant--Tuesday, 2/16/16

From a post on styling grey trousers, I liked the look of a teal top with light grey bottoms.


I kept my color palette a little simpler than her lovely teal + aqua + magenta combination.  Grey and teal and more grey and a slightly different grey.

Light grey pencil skirt (JCP), $4.51/wear
Teal top with ruffle neckline (thrifted, Macy's), $1.33/wear+
Thick grey foldover cardigan (thrifted, JCP). $0.83/wear+
Grey tights
Grey ankle boots by Seychelles, $9.33/wear
Elephant pendant (JCP), $4.80/wear

Outfit total: $20.80/wear

And I topped it off with my elephant pendant.  I don't think the blogger will mind--she's a Republican.

In other news...Tam sent this video from Hamilton at the Grammy Awards.  Nice!  (Note: I had to watch it in Chrome; it didn't work in Firefox.)

She also sent this very amusing article about reactions of West Texas quail to the recent death of hunter/justice Antonin Scalia.

This morning our parking lot at work was the black ice of death.  It took me three tries to get out of my car because despite wearing snow boots with decent traction, my foot kept slipping away from me.  I felt like I was walking to the building like a 95 year old woman but I did manage to keep from falling on my ass.  I got on the elevator with a woman who was immediately, Wow it's really slippery out there this morning.  I guess exchanging slippery parking lot commentary in the elevator beats exchanging face freezing off in the parking lot commentary, but damn 33 degrees F is a dangerous temperature.  After work, the parking lot was clear and dry.

I had a pretty good/easy day back to work today and I'm feeling quite a bit better than I did when I woke up this morning.   I kind of like this Monday-is-Tuesday thing.

Presidents Day

Red Tights Redux--Monday, 2/15/16

When you see my outfit, this inspiration photo won't make a lot of sense, so let me explain.  I was going with grid print + textured pink/red skirt + leopard shoes.  OK?


Put that together with a depraved tendency to pattern mix and a temporary need to have bright red legs and you get something like this.

Red corduroy skirt (thrifted, H and M), $0.71/wear
Black grid blazer (thrifted, Target), $1.25/wear+
Red silk shell (JNY), $7.50/wear
Burberry plaid scarf
Red tights
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks, $2.08/wear

Outfit total: $11.54/wear

Maybe my brain is frozen, but I think it looks awesome.  Much better than the blue legs that would result from going out without tights in any event.  It's keeping to the two-out-of-three rule ("If you are wearing tights, they must either be a) the same color as your skirt/dress or b) the same color as your shoes"), in its own outrageous way.  But as Belle says, "Teacher, casual office, etc., wear [colorful] tights." And when a work holiday sneaks up on you, it's the perfect time to wear red tights!

In other news...Tam sends this article, reiterating a favorite point of mine re: sustained weight loss--if Oprah can't do it, can anyone?

It was a rough day.  I feel like my cold is getting better in fits and starts, but sinus congestion is a migraine trigger so I've been dealing with that a lot this weekend.