Thursday, March 31, 2016

Out Like a Lamb...

...because snow is also white and fluffy, right?  Well, despite the forecast two days ago, we did not get snow today.  It warmed up enough to be rain.  Actual liquid rain, not any of that freezing rain/wintry mix nonsense. 

This reminds me, my sister's dog is particularly attracted to small fluffy white dogs she meets at the dog park.  (She is also happy to sniff at other dogs, but does seem to go out of her way to greet small fluffy white dogs.  I saw this in action last weekend.)  I'm partial to small fluffy dogs, too.  My sister said that she thinks her dog is interested in small fluffy white pups because they are similar to the white Persian cat that they used to have.  Awwww, right?

Speaking of cats... 

"Cheetah Repeatah"--Thursday, 3/31/16

Focal item:  Coral red knit dress from Lands End

I wanted to wear this one another time during the Work the Wardrobe Challenge and found two inspiration ideas to combine.

#1:  She calls this adorable bird print dress a "teacher dress."  I'm liking the red dress/grey blazer combination.


#2:  A light grey blazer worn with a dress in a familiar shape (though her dress is a different brand, and she combines grey and yellow in a way that my light skin/hair combination can't pull off).


I absolutely love how the coral red + light grey color combination turned out!

Coral red knit dress (Lands End), $9.00/wear
Light grey blazer (JNY), $2.21/wear
Coral cheetah infinity scarf (thrifted), $0.38/wear
Grey tights
Grey ribbon flats by Louise et Cie, $5.56/wear

Outfit total: $17.15/wear

And everything's a little bit better with some animal print, no?  The cheetah nose knows this is true.

In other news...I loved this post about a fashion blogger's bunny obsession.  (This is the same woman who has that awesome rabbit bag charm.)  I about died at "bunny of honor."  And look, are these not the cutest bunny flats??  (Unfortunately, at 315 euros, these are not in my price range.)


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Substituting and Forgetting

Think Pink--Wednesday, 3/30/16

My initial plan for this outfit was to find a way to wear this odd little brown jacket that I'd found at Goodwill.  But everything I tried it with, I just wasn't excited about, and after a few different attempts to make it work, I realized that I didn't care for how it fit.  It was cute but too short, and the cut of the open front made it feel like it was too small (and I mean, maybe it actually was too small, you know?, but some styles of jacket look OK even if they are too small in the bust as long as they fit elsewhere but this wasn't that style).  So with a sense of relief, I put that jacket into the donation bag and moved on to find a different outfit using brown leggings because I already had a pair of them on, and ain't nobody wants to waste the investment of effort that represents.

So I brought forward a spring outfit based on this inspiration photo from Bridgette Raes.  In the blog post, she gives tips for wearing weekend clothes on casual Fridays at work, and this is the example for upping the professionalism of a weekend knit dress by adding a Chanel-style jacket (at least that's what I think this style of jacket is called and the Internet agrees).  I have a very similar pink/beige tweed jacket and I have a bright pink knit dress, so let's do it.


And because I'd thought of this as a "spring" outfit, and spring in Coldville means tights (though the highs this week are inexplicably in the 40s), it was not a stretch to make this a winter-to-spring transitional outfit with brown leggings and tall boots.  I think the result looked just fine--not too dark/heavy with the brown at the bottom, given the season.

Yes, I am taking a "weekend dress for casual Friday at work" style inspiration and wearing it on a Wednesday.  The water-proofed tall boots were perfect for the deluge this morning.  It's been a while since I've been out in that much rain.

Sleeveless pink dress (Target), $9.33/wear
Pink tweed blazer (thrifted, Chico's), $3.50/wear
Brown leggings
Tall brown boots by Fitzwell, $5.83/wear
White polka dot scarf (Target), $2.37/wear

Outfit total: $21.03/wear

I was initially planning to wear my thrifted cream scarf, but when I put it on, it looked so blah.  I decided to try the white polka dot scarf instead and bam, it was like 100000% better.  I think the cream looks okay when I wear it with darker colors on top, but because it's really not a good shade for my skin tone, it looks terrible when I wear it with lighter colors.  And since I have the white one now (which is, I think, strictly superior), and approximately 31,835.27 other scarves, I'm saying adieu to the cream one.

Does anyone use the term "strictly superior" outside the context of Magic the Gathering game cards???  It's weird that a google search brings up so many card comparison sites and posts.  After writing that phrase, I had this sudden feeling like I don't know where it comes from.  It's a clear and obvious concept in my head, and those are the words that go with it, but I am sure it didn't arise from my intersection with Magic the Gathering, a game I've never played or read about or known anyone who is into it (such that they'd talk to me about it).

So I asked Robert, what would you call it when you think one thing is better than another thing in every way.  And he said, Strictly better.

I asked, Where does that term come from?  He said, From economics...from game theory, really.  He talked for a moment about the idea of strict preferences, and I was like, Yes, of course.  I was an economics major.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that the homework for the first day of my PhD math camp was proofs around strict and weak preferences.  And I've read at least one book on game theory (a textbook of Robert's).  Plus I'm married to an economist.

So, whew, maybe I haven't been playing middle-of-the-night online Magic the Gathering games--wait, can you even play it online? let me say instead: doing middle-of-the-night online Magic the Gathering strategy research--and then blacking out and forgetting all about it the next day, while my vocabulary has been indelibly if mysteriously stamped by the experience.  Instead I've just forgotten that the phrase was a major foundational concept from a field I spent more than four years studying at university.  Oh yeah, that's a relief.  Tune in next week when I forget whether "attitude strength" has any meaning to anyone but myself.

It's funny to consider how a piece of jargon can become completely ingrained in your head and yet, when you take it out into the light, it looks questionable, like, Can that really be words that go together and mean something?  Did I just make that up on the spot (you know, like kludge, hah) or is it phrasing that other people would recognize as referring to this concept?

You know, there's probably a psychological term for this but I've forgotten what it is.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Introducing Pink Week

I swear it was an accident that all my outfits this week have shades of pink/coral/fuchsia.  I guess it's something about this spring weather that has me reaching for these bright-soft hues.

Saturated Pastels in Action--Tuesday, 3/29/16

Focal item: Pink/light blue floral scarf

I think this shade is a bit too much on the peach/coral side to fully qualify as "rose quartz" to complement the "serenity" here, but it still has a bit of that Pantone 2016 color mix feel.  And so does my scarf, so that's convenient.


My sweater is more of a medium blue, and my pants are a darker grey, and my shoes are grey flats, and I'm not wearing a belt or a light blue purse or floral earrings or nail polish.  Otherwise, identical to the inspiration photo.

Medium blue pullover sweater (thrifted, Studio Works), $1.25/wear+
Grey wide leg trousers (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.71/wear
Grey ribbon flats by Louise et Cie, $6.25/wear
Pink/light blue floral scarf (Target), $2.00/wear+

Outfit total: $10.21/wear

Oh well, it's all just an excuse to wear this scarf (and this sweater).  I'm not really up for rocking the 25 year old administrative assistant in 2012 look anyway.  I would kill myself in those shoes, for one.

In other news...An article for teachers, parents, and anyone who might in the position to help kids learn.  (Here is a longer article in Ed Week, for which you need to sign up for free access.)  Carol Dweck, pioneer of the growth mindset concept, responds to how these ideas are being misunderstood by adults such that "false growth mindsets" are holding kids back.

The key point: It's not enough to praise for effort--this is a practice likely to perpetuate the failures of the self esteem movement that the work on growth mindsets was developed to counter.  Dweck says, "Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve."

I liked this visual from the Ed Week article.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Superbaby Easter

Not a Peep--Monday, 3/28/16

Today's Reverse Inspiration is one of 12 Easter outfit ideas in this article.


Color match--good.  Seasonal match--not so good.

Cream cardigan vest (JCP), $11.73/wear
Magenta pants (thrifted, Target), $1.13/wear
Light blue long-sleeved top (Kohls), $1.27/wear
Navy/burgundy/blue birds scarf (Kohls), $2.26/wear
Rabbit brooch (gift from Robert)
Taupe smoking slippers (thrifted, Gap), $2.00/wear

Outfit total: $18.39/wear

But holy hell.

Way back in January, I laid out the outfits for the rest of the Work the Wardrobe Challenge and then allotted them to the remaining weeks of the challenge.  This was based on assumptions about weather as the weeks go on, colors that seem more "winter" like vs. more "spring" like, and making sure I don't have to have 6 clean pairs of black tights all available in the same week.  I assigned this one to the Sunday of Week 12.

And for outfits like this one, I went in search of a reverse inspiration photo on Pinterest and when I found a decent match, I pinned it.

And it's not until just now, when I looked at the original website where this photo came from and looked at the calendar, that I realized that this Easter outfit idea is, indeed, the reverse inspiration of my pre-scheduled Easter Sunday outfit.

Even I am now becoming afraid of my powers.

If Professor Xavier calls, tell him I'm busy drying my hair with a towel, thereby inventing the turban in the first century BC.

As it turned out, I later made arrangements to visit my sister such that I flew home on Easter Sunday, so I moved this outfit to Monday.

Given the Easter connection, I obviously had to put on my rabbit in celebration of this most bunnilicious holiday!

I hope that realizing I can always get my rabbit on by pinning this brooch to my sweater will keep me from too much longing to purchase this adorable rabbit sweater from J. Crew, to the tune of $85.  It's really cute!  But for $85...I don't think so.


In other news....Speaking of adorable, my nephew, aka Superbaby, has the cuteness of 100 rabbits.  That's saying a lot, I know, but seriously.  He is much less disapproving than rabbits, though--he was hardly fussy at all (by baby standards--my mom commented multiple times on how much easier/calmer/etc. he is than my sister was at that age--which goes to show that the adage about how having a baby brings payback is balderdash) and likes to give big gurgling grins at people. 

It's also been established that he has my nose.  You might think I'd find this inconvenient, given that I need it to hold up my glasses, but he's so cute I don't even care.  You can just keep it, Superbaby!  I'll find another one! 

He was fascinated by my shirt on the first day--it is a white t-shirt with a bold black outline leaf pattern (it looks like a coloring book drawing of leaves to me).  The word is that babies really like this kind of high contrast print and that it stimulates their visual acuity.  Superbaby was definitely digging that leaf pattern.  So if you're going to meet a young baby, I highly recommend some striking black-and-white patterned clothes!  It will draw and keep the baby's attention, which you can choose to interpret as the baby finding you attractive, charming, and lovable, AND the baby gets to work on developing their vision.  A win-win!

Oh, and as might be obvious in the last couple paragraphs, when visiting a baby, be sure to bring extra exclamation points with you.  Though shouting directly at the baby is not recommended, the overwhelming adorableness will have you reaching for !!!! again and again when talking to other adults or the pet dog (who, by the way, will be thrilled!!!!!!!! to have you there for pets, play, walks, wrestling, etc.).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The End of a Short Work Week

"Meower Suit"--Tuesday, 3/22/16

Hey, it's not my fault.  This polyvore inspiration photo has a lot going on for an outfit comprised of neutrals!


I took it as an opportunity to wear my "new" leopard sweater vest...that I bought at Goodwill in June.  I've had plenty of time to wear it, but I've been a little intimidated by it somehow.  Weird, huh?  But I mastered my trepidation and jumped right in to creating a version of this outfit.

Dark grey wide leg trousers (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.83/wear
Black tipped blazer (JNY), $6.81/wear
White button up shirt (thrifted, Kohls), $2.00/wear
*Leopard sweater vest (thrifted, Walmart), $3.75/wear+
Grey ribbon flats by Louise et Cie, $7.14/wear
Green gumdrop necklace (Target), $6.24/wear

Outfit total: $26.77/wear

It wasn't so scary once I got started!  I really like how the (initially kind of worrisome) thin knit and body-con fit of the sweater vest actually make it a great piece for layering between a somewhat stiff button up shirt and a blazer, adding a little warmth and visual interest without bulk, and even smoothing down the shirt a bit in the process.  I tried my maroon flats but because I am in sock season, I thought they looked a bit strange, so I switched in a pair of grey flats with black ribbon detail to (all together now!) make the combination of black blazer and grey pants look intentional.  The light green necklace seemed to work in the space created by the shirt's neckline and echoes the green-ish tinge of the vest.

In other news...Tomorrow my mom and I are headed west to see my sister, brother-in-law, and their adorable baby!  Let's hope that the snow that's expected tomorrow doesn't interfere with our plans.

Monday, March 21, 2016


"English Green Swirl"--Monday, 3/20/16

The blogger is wearing a beanie that her sister bought for her at Target because the closest one is an hour away from where she lives (sad trombone, right?).  But more relevant to me, she is wearing a green skirt, black top, and grey vest...which I can modify for my purposes.


For me, this becomes green dress, black sweater vest, and black herringbone blazer.

Green knit dress (Lands End), $6.75/wear
Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft), $0.50/wear
Black herringbone blazer (thrifted, Studio 1940), $0.45/wear
Green/navy paisley silk scarf (thrifted), $7.50/wear+
Black tights
Black ankle boots by Sam Edelman, $2.80/wear

Outfit total: $18.00/wear

I was skeptical at first of how well this green/navy scarf would work because of the whole black vs. navy thing, but I think it works very nicely.  I'm glad I gave it a try (prompted by my desire to get the cost-per-wear of the scarf down!).

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring is Coming

"A Work Outfit Tie Dye For"--Friday, 3/18/16

I mean, spring the calendar season is coming--the warmer temperatures widely associated with spring is many weeks away.  Still, it's nice to start wearing some softer, paler colors at this time of year.  I thought this inspiration photo (taken somewhere, sometime that is actual spring--look at the flowers!) showed a nice way to do that with blue hues.


Her scarf reminded me of this shades-of-blue tie dye scarf, which I paired with an acrylic pullover sweater that is warm but a nice pastel lavender-blue color.

Blue tie dye infinity scarf (Kohls), $2.40/wear
Blue-lavender pullover sweater (thrifted, Casual Corner), $2.50/wear+
Dark grey blazer (JNY), $5.36/wear
Flared jeans (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.44/wear
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan, $13.20/wear

Outfit total: $23.90/wear

The dark jeans and dark grey blazer keep this from looking like an Easter outfit (especially when photographed on a cloudy day) while giving a nod to the colors of the coming spring.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Celebrating a Scottish St Patrick's Day--Thursday, 3/17/16

From this outfit I took away the idea of plaid skirt and cardigan/blazer in a greenish hue that matches the skirt.


Because my skirt has more of a green than teal color, I used my dark green ponte blazer (and a black top to coordinate with the black lapels).  Tights and librarian shoes complete the look.

Red plaid skirt (thrifted, Hannah Anderson), $4.00/wear
Black heavy knit top (thrifted, Liz Claiborne), $0.80/wear
Dark green ponte blazer (thrifted, Target), $3.00/wear
Gold tassel necklace (Kohls), $1.25/wear
Black tights
Black mary janes by Hush Puppies, $4.80/wear

Outfit total: $13.85/wear

It's nice to take advantage of the (very little) wiggle room in my Work the Wardrobe Challenge schedule to get a repeat wear of some of my recent winter-ish clothing purchases, like this skirt and blazer, before the weather warms up.  Because it will.  It will, I tell you!

Just not, you know, any time soon.  It was a shockingly chilly 40 F when I left work this afternoon.  All this humidity and wind makes it feel so cold.  I had switched into my spring trench coat for the days reaching 50 F but I think it's time to go back to a warmer coat for a while.

In other news...I made it to and survived my 7:30 meeting this morning.  Luckily I had been to that location before so it wasn't too difficult to find my way to the parking lot and into the right room.  It was definitely a good meeting, so I'm glad I went, but I am also glad the next meeting of this early-bird group isn't for at least another month.

Speaking of early birds, migration is happening early this year with all the warm weather we've been having across the US.  This morning at breakfast Robert and I heard our first robin of spring!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Making It Through the Week

"Somber Ombre Leopard: A Brown Study"--Wednesday, 3/16/16

Focal item: Brown cardigan

I liked this combination of brown cardigan, white shirt, and dark teal skirt.  Add in an animal print accessory and I'm sold!


For comfort, I substituted a white T-shirt, and for warmth, I added leggings and tall boots.

Brown cardigan (Kohls), $2.74/wear+
White long-sleeved V neck T (Lands End), $1.50/wear
Dark teal skirt (JCP), $2.26/wear
Brown leopard scarf (Target), $3.66/wear
Brown leggings
Tall brown boots by Fitzwell, $5.83/wear

Outfit total: $15.99/wear

And of course to get the animal print in, I used my trusty brown leopard scarf.  I love that the background color on this scarf is a graduated white-to-dark-brown, and that the color palette is on the cool side rather than warm (orange-y) side.  It's prettier than a plain brown leopard scarf, and I like that I can choose whether to feature the darker colors or the lighter colors by how I tie it.

In other news...I'm glad to have my Wednesday work day behind me but I am dreading my 7:30 a.m. meeting tomorrow.  Oh, and the offsite meeting on Friday from 12-2.  WTF.  Let's have a meeting during the whole part of the day that it would make any sense to eat.  Do I want to be done eating by 11:30 a.m. or wait to start lunch closer to 2:30 p.m.?  What great choices.

I'm tired this evening and I've got nothing.  Well, I've got a photo of some cute bunnies.  Check out the English spot with the beauty mark on his cheek. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Elephant Season, Rainy Season

"Greige Elephant"--Tuesday, 3/15/16

Christine blames the 5 a.m. haze for the choice of gold heels in this outfit.  I'm not up and dressed at 5 a.m., nor am I going to wear heels (or bare legs in this season), but I can get on board with a purple-ish colored dress and a beige-grey knit blazer.


I really like how these colors went together here.  My initial instinct would be to wear this dress with a straight up, true grey blazer (and I'm sure I will do that) but I'm glad I tried it with this more taupe colored blazer.  "Purple/blue," "beige-grey"--if only it were always the case that weird, intermediate, difficult to name colors always went together.

Purple/blue fit and flare dress (Kohls), $6.67/wear
Beige-grey ponte knit blazer (Target), $3.12/wear
White elephant scarf (Charming Charlie), $5.00/wear
Grey leggings
Tall grey boots by LifeStride, $11.11/wear

Outfit total: $25.90/wear

Elephant pendants, elephant scarves...I guess it's elephant season.

Which elephant season?

--Musth, when bull elephants become highly aggressive, with testosterone levels up to 60 times normal?

--Elephant mating season?

I refuse to think about any other kind of elephant season, like where guns might be involved.  Shame on you, Captain Spaulding.

In other news...My tough week continues.  Woke up with a headache and an immediate leg cramp as soon as I tried to move.  I'm sure my headache was partially caused/not helped by the fact that it was raining today, though I did feel a bit of gratitude that at least I wasn't having to drive to work with full sun in my face, blinding me and causing a headache spike.

I actually made it through the workday better than I had hoped (a glass of caffeinated tea helped) but topped off the day by trying to enter the wrong apartment when I got home.  Why isn't my key working?  Oh shit.  I'm on the wrong floor.

I can't tell if I actually pushed the wrong button on the elevator or (and this happens very occasionally, so I'm sorta holding out hope here that it did this time) someone else had pushed the button for floor 1 and I automatically got out when the elevator doors opened.  (Yeah, this does sometimes happen even when there's no one else in the elevator.  Maybe there's an invisible person who likes to fuck with us or there's someone who realizes that they should be walking up the one flight of stairs from the garage to floor 1.)

It's good I didn't have any truly difficult tasks today, like my baby nephew who is trying to learn how to fall asleep on his own (not being nursed, in mom's arms, or in a swing).  It was a challenging Day 1 for him today but he's making progress.

Let's all be inspired by this baby's efforts to be a good sleeper and get our full-grown asses to bed on time tonight, shall we?  (Well, maybe that won't work for my sister but she has a good excuse.)  I can definitely use my 8 hours tonight...especially since I have an offsite meeting on Thursday morning at 7:30 (!?!?!?!?).

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Post-Time Change

"Invested in Prison"--Monday, 3/14/16

Today's Reverse Inspiration truly speaks to my sartorial power over time and space.  Not only did I make Amazon sell a mint cardigan vest with a shawl collar for men, I caused them to sell out of it.  They are even styling it with black and white stripes.  (However, I take no blame for what must be among the strangest dress shirts I've ever seen.  I have no idea what purpose--practical or aesthetic or symbolic--built-in dual khaki armbands serve.)

My outfit serves to celebrate the post-Easter winter-to-spring transition.

*Mint cardigan vest (JCP), $23.46/wear+
Black and white striped long-sleeved top (Chaps/Kohls), $3.89/wear
Black space dye skirt (Old Navy), $2.00/wear
Black tights
Black mary janes by Hush Puppies, $5.17/wear

Outfit total: $34.52/wear

It feels weird not wearing a necklace, but this combination of shirt and sweater necklines isn't promising for that.  I did wear some statement earrings (the big black leaf ones), however.

In other news...Is everyone struggling after the time change? Are you eating pie today to celebrate Pi Day (3.14)?  (I had forgotten about Pi Day until I went to an off-site meeting where people were having an apple pie.)

I was feeling nauseated this morning after having flax oil for breakfast (it's not uncommon for me to have a short-ish wave of nausea around 8:30 or so after having flax oil at 6:30) and when I saw myself in the bathroom mirror at work, I was like: Nausea + roomy cardigan vest = person who seems possibly hiding an early stage pregnancy.  Nope, none of that going on! 

I am feeling a bit tired and a bit worn out from several intense meetings today.  I think it's time to play a bit of Fallout and decompress.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Two Ways in One

...Or How to Dress Like Bill Clinton Politics?--Sunday, 3/13/16

Shea has a neat recurring feature in which she shows multiple ways to wear the same item.  In this inspiration photo, she shows us two ways to wear a navy print sweater--with a striped top or with jeans and bright flats.

Or you can combine the two outfits into one--engaging in a sort of sartorial Third Way--and get something like this.  I'm not sure Bill's approach would advocate for a 70s hinged owl pendant but you gotta throw those old hippies a bone now and again.  I've also nixed the red entirely from this outfit, but that seems appropriate in the post-Cold-War era.  Ain't nobody needs to bow to the Reds in this day and age.

And if the Republicans feel left out...well, they shouldn't be represented by a Commie color.  Though to be fair, it's not their fault.  Blame Time magazine's maps of the 2000 election, in which red was chosen for the Republicans because, as this article puts it: "red begins with r, Republican begins with r," said the senior graphics editor Archie Tse, "it was a more natural association."

Of course, now I feel like I missed an opportunity to wear my elephant pendant with a fun idiosyncratic political intention but oh well.  OWLS FOREVER.

Black/blue striped T with blue top (Macy's),  $1.76/wear
Black and white diamond cardigan (JNY), $17.25/wear
Straight leg jeans (thrifted, Bandolinoblu), $0.29/wear
*Bright blue flats (Payless), $8.00/wear+
Owl pendant (Kohls), $1.58/wear

Outfit total: $28.88/wear

In other news...Yesterday was so crazy warm (70-75 in the apartment, 60s outside) that I ended up wearing my birds on a wire t-shirt, striped ballet flats, and a pair of basketball shorts I exercise in (I don't own any non-exercise shorts at this point).  Of course, next weekend we are expecting snow (1-3").

I spent a lot of time this weekend playing Fallout 3, and tonight I finished the Point Lookout DLC (downloadable content).  So I am done with killing aggressive inbred swamp folk who attack me on sight.

I also reached the maximum level of 30 this evening--this doesn't stop the game, but means that I am no longer getting experience/leveling up/improving skills at this point (which is OK because I am already maxed out at 100 for each of my skills and have been for a while).

I wanted to put some game time in this weekend because I don't play much (or at all) during the work week, and I'm going to be busy for the next couple weekends with social stuff that is incompatible with sitting around for a couple hours at a stretch playing Fallout.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fashion Tips!

"French Cowgirl"--Friday, 3/11/16

It's nice to have an inspiration photo from Already Pretty, the blog that deserves the credit for my being able to go outside in the Snow City/Coldville area and not become a sodden snowy mess and slowly freeze to death.  (It was also my introduction to the body-positive Internet community and a gateway drug for fashion blogs in general.)

Let's see what I can do with the outfit on the right.


Incorporating three items for the Work the Wardrobe Challenge, with only about 5 weeks to go, is rather impressive in its own right.

Aqua cashmere pullover sweater (Macy's), $10.00/wear+
Brown quilted jacket (thrifted, Kmart), $1.00/wear+
Denim skirt (thrifted, Levi's), $1.00/wear
Maroon leggings
Tall cognac boots by Sam Edelman, $10.55/wear
Blue/maroon floral silk scarf (thrifted, Art Institute of Chicago), $5.00/wear+

Outfit total: $27.55/wear

But I enjoyed the outfit, too.  Win-win.

I decided to tie my square silk neck scarf like Jen does here in her French-inspired outfit.


I liked how it turned out.  And I got a compliment on my outfit from a co-worker today, which was nice.

In other news...Tam sent me this killer fashion tips video from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert featuring the sharp-dressing bandleader Jon Batiste.  I need to start working on Lesson One: Name Your Outfits.  "Every outfit has its own personality," he tells us.  Can I come up with names as good as "Hallucinating Referee" and "The Slim Grimace"?  Time will tell.

I think "French Cowgirl" isn't a bad start, though.  Yee-haw, ma chere.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Decider with the Floral Dress On

Now With Extra Polka Dots--Thursday, 3/10/16

Bridgette recommends that we "add a tailored touch to a soft floral" in her blog post on wearing fall florals to work.  My grey floral dress is beyond soft and swishy--it's got a very casual, gathered boho style top that is too low cut in front and back to be appropriate for the workplace without some coverage.  A blazer is a must.


This grey blazer from Jones New York feels tailored and professional enough to mitigate the laid-back weekend vibe of the dress.

Grey floral dress (thrifted, Old Navy), $1.67/wear+
Dark grey blazer (JNY), $7.14/wear
Magenta scarf (JCP), $2.40/wear
Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft), $0.57/wear
Grey polka dot tights
Black mary janes by Hush Puppies, $5.60/wear

Outfit total: $16.38/wear

And a sweater vest + scarf combo provides the needed coverage on the front.

But lest you think I've lost my goofy edge, I've got polka dot tights and librarian shoes in this outfit, too.

In other news...I don't think I ever mentioned that the other aspect of my Sunday a week ago, in addition to the Big Closet Purge, was that Robert and I went to Goodwill in the morning to spend a $100 gift card that he had won by doing an online post-purchase survey.  $100 goes a long way at Goodwill!  

The way the Goodwill stores in our area operate these days is that when you make a donation, you get a 25% off coupon.  They've been doing this for some time now.  But I've noticed more recently that they have increased their prices somewhat.  I can't tell whether they've increased prices enough to fully compensate for the 25% off coupon (it's definitely not more than that) but it does mean that it makes more sense than ever to make a donation when you shop.  So I will NOT be taking the full contents of the Big Closet Purge all at once.  I'll be breaking it into several donations so that I can take advantage of the 25% off deal.

I wasn't at all paying attention to how much I thought my purchases were going to add up to as I was shopping.  And with the 25% off coupon and the 50% off all blue tag items sale going on, it wasn't as though it was easy to keep a rough idea of the amount in mind while not actively trying to monitor it.  And one of the benefits of thrift shopping is that I don't have to worry about how much the total is anyway.  Everything is inexpensive enough, and even when I purchase a bunch at once, it's not an important amount to me.  And with the $100 gift card, well, if it's more than $100, I'll just pay the difference.

So of course it turns out that with the sale and coupon and everything taken into account, the total was $98.47.

I mostly bought things from my shopping list (mostly).  I did very well with finding lightweight short-sleeved tops and a couple spring/summer cardigans in colors I do not already have, which I can best describe as "saturated pastels."  So like light green, light blue, aqua, pink, light purple--not the ones that have a lot of white in them that look very light and pale, but a bit more intensity of color.  I thought it would be easy to find an image via Google of "saturated pastels" but it's not!  This is closest I could find to what I mean.


I have always really liked these colors.  One of my favorite outfits growing up was a blouse/skirt set my mom sewed for me as an Easter dress.  It had an intense lavender/lilac colored top and a skirt with somewhat broad vertical stripes of a white/ivory and various intense pastels colors.  While I will not be recreating the full awesomeness of that outfit this spring/summer, I do have a nice selection of "saturated pastel" clothes to show you in the coming months.

The most not-on-my-shopping-list purchase was a black knit textured tuxedo jacket.  I have a lot of black jackets, but I wear a lot of black jackets, and this was different enough in shape and fabrication from the ones I have to justify it.

For the record, even though I purchased these items with a gift card, I am still counting them at the price they rang up at for my cost-per-wear calculations.  That seems reasonable given my interest in seeing the value I'm getting out of my purchases.  Putting them all at $0 would make every item look like a fantastic choice--and it wouldn't help me see the purchases in terms of opportunity cost.  I'm doing it this way because I'm the decider!  (Well, I also asked Robert's opinion and he independently suggested listing the items at receipt price.  Even the decider benefits from expert advice.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Depletion Crisis Critique

Plus a Paisley Work Outfit--Wednesday, 3/9/16

This post about work to weekend dresses featured a floral dress that reminded me of my cream/black paisley skirt that I need to wear for the Work the Wardrobe Challenge.


In keeping with the weather, a high of 42F (and the fact that this skirt is short enough that I prefer wearing it to work with tights), I took a spin on the first look with a black blazer and the color red, which I used in the form of a cashmere sweater.

Cream/black paisley skirt (thrifted, Loft), $1.67/wear+
Red cashmere pullover sweater (Macy's), $8.00/wear
Black velvet blazer (thrifted, Talbots), $0.63/wear
Black leggings
Tall black boots by Fitzwell, $2.67/wear
Black burberry plaid scarf (Sheinside/gift)

Outfit total: $12.97

I went off script by adding a plaid scarf but print mixing is an addiction I can't control.  And I can justify it by noting that it's still nippy in the mornings. I mostly just wore the scarf outside to and from work, but it was cool in our conference room so I was especially glad of the blazer during our 3 hour meeting.

In other news...Tam and Robert both sent me this article [link fixed!] from Slate about a soon-to-be-published, large-sample study of ego depletion that gets a null result (i.e., shows no effect of depletion) and possibly invalidates the concept.  I will reserve judgment until I see the actual paper, but will say this--the methodology as described in the article does not seem like a good ego depletion task.  Here's what it says:

Subjects watched as simple words flashed on a screen: level, trouble, plastic, business, and so on. They were asked to hit a key if the word contained the letter e, but only if it was not within two spaces of another vowel (i.e., they had to hit the key for trouble but withhold their button-press for level and business).

Um, I kind of hate to break it to the authors but I wouldn't expect that task to be depleting.  The task used by previous researchers (yep, including me) involves first having your participants cross out (physically) every instance of the letter e in a long, boring piece of text (I drew mine from a statistics textbook).  They do this for 5 minutes...until it becomes very ingrained and habitual (it's a very easy habit to pick up).  Then you switch up the task and ask them to cross out every instance of the letter e except when another vowel follows the e in the same word or when the vowel is one letter removed from the e in either direction (e.g, in the word "vowel") for another 5 minutes.

(For the record, in my research, I did the e task described above and then, for an extra dose of depletion, had people spend 3 minutes freely thinking and writing about whatever comes to mind except a white bear because suppressing a dominant response is also depleting.)

My problem with their version of the e task is that it does not create the conditions that are depleting in the original version, i.e., the inhibition of a habitual response.  Rather, participants are merely doing a judgment task, and not one that I would expect to be very cognitively challenging either.  (I mean, yes, it's more difficult than pressing a button for every word with an e in it, but during the task, that simple rule would itself become pretty habitual, I think.  And really, if that kind of basic "please use your brains just a little bit now" task wiped people's regulatory resources in a few minutes, the world would be in even bigger trouble than it is.)

So yeah, I really need to read the actual paper to understand exactly what their participants did because exactly what participants do matters a lot.  I think this is a point that journalists seem not to understand, and something even researchers (especially when they are working in an area where they don't have a lot of theoretical depth) get wrong.  There is nothing magical about e's or white bears or chocolate chip cookies in creating a depletion effect.  These are merely operationalizations of underlying ideas--that the act of inhibiting habitual or dominant responses (for example) is depleting.  This means that there are a zillion very different manipulations you can do in a study to cause the effect.  But it also means that a subtle change to a "proven" manipulation can be fatal to your study, if the little change you make means that your task is no longer an operationalization of the underlying idea.  Or that your manipulation is no longer strong enough to deplete people enough for there to be a performance deficit on the second task.

Which brings me to this--there's also the question of what the second task in the study is, the one in which depleted participants should be expected to do worse, and whether it is sensitive enough to depletion effects to give a robust result.

If the depletion task is truly as described in the article--just a judgment task about the presence of e's in familiar words--then I do not agree that "the study clearly shows that the effect is not as sturdy as it seemed."  Actually, it's possible that the researchers have shown that not every use of cognitive effort in very moderate amounts leads to ego depletion (which most people in the field would tell you).

This said, I do believe that there are some serious lacunae in the ego depletion research conducted to date.  One of them is this idea that tasks are "depleting" or "not depleting."  Indeed, one of my major papers in grad school was a research proposal that attempted to rectify the "lack of basic description of the depletion phenomenon" in terms of the duration-performance relationship--e.g. how self-control exertion over time influences performance and how varying the duration of the initial self-control task across a range of levels influences performance.  Is there a threshold effect, a warm-up effect, an adaptation effect?  Because most researchers care about "how can I get my participants into the desired state," we don't really know a lot about how depletion happens experimentally.  (We know pretty much zero about how depletion happens in the brain.  And I think the whole little bit of lemonade brings more glucose to the brain explanation is very, very wrong.  It makes no sense from a neuroscience standpoint.)

I look forward to seeing the published paper, but I am not ready to throw the ego depletion concept out the window quite yet.  It could be bunk, of course, but I'm not convinced of it by what this article has to say.

I think the bigger problem is that our estimates of effect sizes (e.g., how big of a difference on a second task does it make if people are depleted?) of this and other social psych phenomena are inflated...ironically because studies are generally under-powered (i.e., use too few participants) and thus it is harder/you are less likely to get a statistically significant result than it should be.  The issue of under-powered studies in psychology is a truth universally acknowledged.

Let's say you run 20 studies on depletion.  If you had a reasonable sample size in each, which allows you to detect effects that exist, you might get 13 with a small effect size, 6 with a moderate effect size, and 1 that isn't significant (I just totally made up those results, ok?).  You publish your studies that find significant results (the 13 and the 6) and people would probably conclude that the effect exists, but it is rather weak.  However, if you use a small sample size, which makes it harder to detect effects that exist, you might get 3 studies with a small effect size, 6 with a moderate effect size, and 11 that aren't significant.  You publish your studies that find significant results (the 3 and the 6) and people would likely conclude that the effect exists and is of moderate strength.  Because small effect size studies turned into non-significant studies, people base their estimates of effect size on only the studies that have larger effects.  This is one reason that people complain about the "file drawer problem"--that studies with not statistically significant results don't get published, they just get filed away.

But the interpretation of the "null result" (no significant effect) is not straightforward, as the depletion study described by Slate illustrates.  Does it mean that the effect doesn't exist?  Or does it mean that the experiment was flawed?  In a lot of cases, Or does it mean that the sample size was too small to detect the effect? is also a serious contender.  That's why they make a big deal about how big the study in the article is--it's so rare for it to happen.

In any event, man, given the worsening replication crisis in social psychology, I am glad not to be an active researcher in the field, with the entirety of my future career dependent on the difference between p less than .05 and p=.056 and all subject to being thrown out later.  Of course, learning deeply about the messed up state of the science in grad school was a major contributor to my decision to get the fuck out.  I mean, the academic environment can be very horrible, and if the scholars/journals in your field are scientific magpies ("ooooh, look at that shiny new novel result!  I like!") with low attention spans who are not nearly concerned enough with shoring up the fundamentals of your field so that you can trust what's being published and who don't appropriately value or reward the kind of foundational work you find yourself drawn to a lot of the time--well, that makes it easier to walk away from the whole clusterfuck.  (Though I freely admit that my published work from my masters program is totally a shiny new novel result!  That's why it got published.)

Social psychology, it's time to simply, grow up.

This poor mini lop is totally depleted by all this experimental design/stats talk.