Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, Day 3

I didn't realize how much I'd gotten used to not blogging every day until I started doing this challenge. For many months now, I've been photographing a bunch of outfits when I put them together and then writing a few posts at once and scheduling them for several days out. And then I've gotten 'ahead' of the posts and stockpiled several days' worth of photos, so that now each post typically appears about a week after I actually wore the outfit. While it is certainly more convenient and allows me a lot more flexibility in my schedule, I have to admit that there's something satisfying about posting in real time, when I can compare the way the outfit feels with the way it comes across in the photos. For those of you with blogs, which approach do you prefer -- devoting a large chunk of time to several posts, or blogging every day?

For Day 3 of Jane's challenge, I added one clothing item and one accessory: the skirt and the earrings. Because I wore this dress as a bottom layer yesterday and it was mainly the collar and sleeves that were showing, it looks completely different here, where the skirt of the dress is now the only part showing. As you can see I used the new blazer again, but this time I buttoned it up to give it a different vibe. Here's what the back looks like; I apologize for the wrinkles! I guess I should've ironed everything before I turned it into another outfit. Not that my coworkers would ever notice!

The lighting isn't quite optimal in these shots; if I'd angled my flash a little better you'd be able to see that my tights are a rich eggplant purple, a darker and more intense shade than the tulle skirt. I thought this was a great way to brighten up an outfit that is otherwise comprised solely of neutrals. I'm really loving the combination of grays and browns lately; I think this is going to be a staple for me this fall and winter. It's still a neutral combination, but it's so much softer than black, and an easier backdrop on which to hang a few brighter colors even during the darkest winter months. I could see the gray/brown combination working well with a splash of yellow, orange, red, or even blue or green if it was the right shade.

Blazer: Victoria M. Ortiz
Dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: Noa Noa
Tights: Foot Traffic
Shoes: Cydwoq

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, Day 2

Here are those nice, roomy cowboy boots that are so kind to my ailing foot these days. I assure you that my swollen little cocktail weenie of a toe is lovingly encased and cradled, despite the boots' rugged and badass exterior.

I was surprised that several people at work asked me why I didn't just wear flip flops; for one thing, shouldn't it be obvious by now that I'd rather call in sick than come to work wearing something as tacky as flip flops? And then, did it not occur to anyone that the reason I smashed my toe in the first place is that I'm clumsy as all get out, and that wearing open toed shoes would be like issuing an invitation to all heavy or protruding objects to injure it further? These people really have their heads in the clouds most days.

Here is Day Two of the Capsule Wardrobe Challenge. I've now added 2 dresses, a pair of shoes, and a necklace into the mix, bringing me to 6 of the 10 allowable clothing items and 2 of the 5 maximum accessories. Stay tuned to see if I can make it to the end of the week without exceeding the limits!

Gray dress: Red Dress Shoppe
Ecru dress: Lady Language
Necklace: H&M
Boots: vintage

Monday, September 28, 2009

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, Day 1

This week I'm participating in Jane's Capsule Wardrobe Challenge, aided in part by the fact that my shoe selection has already been limited by my still swollen broken toe. I'd love to say I've got the whole week's worth of outfits all carefully planned out, but the fact is that between the post-vacation jetlag and the toe situation, I haven't been as motivated as usual, so I'm just making it up as I go. At the end of the week I'll show you all the components of my capsule wardrobe.

I for sure had to select this velvet blazer as one of my items, having just brought it back from Uruguay and being excited to wear it. The designer is Victoria M. Ortiz, and let me tell you, her shop in Colonia del Sacramento is filled with all sorts of beautiful things. This blazer caught my eye because of the lace edging, brass buttons, and puff shoulders, which give it a Victorian feel. The Victorian styling is more apparent when the jacket is buttoned all the way up, but for this outfit I left it open so that more of the dress pattern would show.

These Cydwoqs are one of 3 pairs of shoes in my entire collection that are tolerable to wear right now. Being completely unwilling to wear flip flops to work, I scoured the 70 or so pairs in my closet and finally came up with the Cydwoqs, my pink sneakers, and my gray cowboy boots. This pair and the cowboy boots are what I'll be using this week for my capsule wardrobe. Interestingly, neither pair is likely what I would've chosen for the challenge had it not been for the broken toe, but I think they'll both be versatile enough to get me through the week.

Blazer: Victoria M. Ortiz
Necklace: Rhapsodia (Argentina)
Dress: 90's vintage, shortened
Tights: Foot Traffic
Shoes: Cydwoq

Friday, September 25, 2009

Notes on Buenos Aires

At last I have my computer up and running again! This morning it suddenly decided that it wanted to pair with the keyboard again, much to my surprise. Bio geek though I may be, I will never be able to nerd out on computers, or even really understand them. But whatever; my blogging capabilities are back to 100%, and that's what matters.

This is the final outfit shot from Buenos Aires, and as you can see I finally got the chance to wear Jess's gorgeous green boots. The belt and skirt I have on are also new, as are Jess's 2 skirts (yes, it was cold that day; she nearly added a third!). I'll do some posts on the designers that I bought from later. For the rest of this post I thought I'd share a few of my general impressions of Argentina, as well as some photos.

My favorite sights in Buenos Aires were the Recoleta cemetary, El Caminito in La Boca neighborhood, the Floralis Generica sculpture, and the San Telmo flea market. But for me the best parts of the trip were not the sights, but the music, food, and experiences. Hands down some of the best food I've ever eaten was in Buenos Aires, and the wines are simply out of this world. On our last night in town, we had a wonderful time tasting some of Argentina's best wines at a beautiful wine salon called Terroir. Alex, the incredibly knowledgeable and all-around awesome guy that owns the shop, set Jess and I up with a dinner reservation at a hidden gem of a restaurant called Puratierra, where we had an outstanding 6-course tasting menu that absolutely knocked our socks off.

The thing that's interesting about Buenos Aires is that in many ways it looks very much like a European city, with its cobblestone streets and grand architecture. But it also has a very tangible latin vibe that comes from many different sources: the music, the laid back attitude of the porteƱos and the enthusiastic warmth with which they interact with each other, the tropical-looking trees and birds. To be sure, Buenos Aires is a big city, and a loud, traffic-snarled, polluted one at that. But if you get away from the center and into the smaller neighborhoods, there's plenty of quaint charm to be found as well.

We did find it challenging to interact with the locals, since English is not widely spoken and our Spanish is barely passable at best. However, the locals we were able to meet were invariably gracious and friendly. And then in terms of the cost, we were continually amazed at how far our dollars went. Clothing, jewelery, food, wine, and transportation were all a fraction of what you'd pay in the States. You can take a taxi ride across town for around $4, have a fancy dinner for two with wine for around $65, or buy a locally-designed dress for $40. Though the airfare was a little steep, we definitely made up for it with how little we spent on everything else.

More posts about the trip will follow. I still need to cover the fashion aspect, get Jess's thoughts, and talk about Uruguay, which was so wonderful that it deserves its own post. As a final thought for this one, I'll show you the luggage we came home with. I was fully expecting I'd end up with an extra carry-on for gifts and other purchases, but I hadn't planned on falling in love with the wine so passionately that I felt the need to bring home an entire case. Let me tell you though, it was worth it. I ended up carrying on the backpack and the brown shopping bag there on the left, while Jess carried on the black and white floral bag on the right. We both checked our suitcases and wine (I had the giant box on the left that contained a case of wine; Jess limited herself to half a case since she had to make a detour from Argentina to New York for a work trip). Note that we have matching Tumi bags!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vintage Vest

My keyboard is still non-functional, but with Mark's help I've at least been able to upload the rest of my photos from the trip, so I should have a few of them to show you tomorrow. In the meantime I'll talk about the fun new things in this outfit.

I picked up this vest several months ago at a vintage show, but it needed some alterations before it was ready to wear, so it sat in my closet for awhile. I think it was originally a men's vest, which meant that it needed to be taken in at the sides so that it tapered more towards the waist. The tailor did a lovely job and now it fits perfectly. I love that it just has the single row of buttons, which really slims me at the waist. The plaid pattern has soft shades of green and teal that meld together, which gives it a lot of versatility for what I can pair it with.

The boots are some that I found while everyone was out visiting for my birthday party last month and all us girls went out shopping together. I'd been looking for a pair of deep red boots for some time, but it's tough to find colorful boots that also have interesting embellishments. The ruffled edge and buttons on these are just perfect, and they have a nice low wedge heel that's really going to be practical for the coming winter months. Too bad I can't wear them right now because of my broken toe...

Hat: Accessorize
Top: Anne Taylor
Necklace: Betsey Johnson
Vest: vintage
Skirt: Anthropologie
Tights: Biella
Boots: Miz Mooz

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good Sense

Well, my computer woes are still not sorted, so I'm still bringing you some of my pre-vacation outfits for the time being. But lookee here, this one's pretty exciting because it includes the replacements that I finally found for my beloved Noa Noa tights! These are from Danish manufacturer MP (who could very well produce Noa Noa's tights for all I know; they're quite similar in construction), and I found them at Sock Dreams.

I have to be honest, I didn't wear these shoes for the whole day. They are still terribly painful after a few hours' wear, so I took along my Fly London flats and swapped them out once these beauties became unbearable. I'm certain that these shoes could someday be comfy once they're broken in, but I fear that at my current rate of wear, that may never happen. At least this time I had the good sense not to wear them for the entire day, or it might have been another 9 months before I was brave enough to give them another try.

Dress, belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Shirt: La Redoute
Skirt: ??
Tights: MP
Shoes: Modern Vintage

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well kids, I'm back, and let me tell you, it's been a challenging 2 days. First, my computer decided to punish me for leaving it turned off while I was gone, dropping the connection to my wireless keyboard so that now I can't even get past the login screen. Then last night I broke my little toe, which, though certainly not life-threatening, severely impedes my ability to walk, not to mention that it hurts like a bitch. Funny I should make it halfway around the world unscathed, only to be felled by my own apartment a day after getting back.

So here I sit at Mark's place, calling in for my work meetings and trying to resign myself to being mostly immobilized for the entire day while the swelling in my foot subsides. Thus I bring you this outfit that I wore before I left on my trip, since right now I can't even upload the rest of my vacation photos with which to do a proper wrap-up of Argentina and Uruguay. Once I get this computer business sorted out I promise I'll share some more highlights from the trip.

This dress isn't cut so well for me on top, so I always wear it with a layer over, under, or both. The top of the dress is a criss-cross cut, and sort of bags open because I'm not really busty enough for it, thus I've put a tank underneath for the sake of good taste, and the cardigan on top to hide the bagginess. I like that you can still see part of the dress pattern in the top half of the outfit.

I still have a couple more outfits from before the trip that I can post while I'm figuring out my computer situation, but with any luck I'll be able to bring you my vacation post before the end of the week.

Cardigan: S
Dress: Max Studio, thrifted
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: LA Made
Boots: All Black

Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Day in Buenos Aires

Today is our last full day in Argentina; tomorrow we head for home. These outfits are from the last couple of days in Buenos Aires; we didn't take any outfit photos in Uruguay, since all we brought with us were fairly boring outfits that allowed us to fit all our stuff into one backpack.

As you can see, we're making good use of the new items we've purchased along the way. In the first photo, my olive tee, scarf, and shoes are new, as are Jess's belt, skirt, and necklace. In the second outfit photo below, I'm wearing a new tank top from a shop called Rhapsodia, and Jess is wearing her new green boots (which I haven't gotten a chance to borrow yet -- hoping to change that today).

Speaking of shoes, the selection we ended up with has served us very well this trip, even more so since we wear close to the same size and can swap them around. I've obviously made the most use of the Cydwoqs, and they've been really comfortable for long hours on my feet. We've been impressed with the variety of colors available in the shops here, which has led to Jess's doubling of her shoedrobe. We've also been successful in our quest to prove that as a traveler, you don't need to wear hideous white sneakers every day in order to be comfortable. See, not a sneaker in sight! Shoes. We love 'em.

We may have time for one more post before we leave; if not, I'll do a recap of the trip next week. Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shopping Our Way Through BA

As we sit here in the nearest internet-enabled cafe in Montevideo, listening to the requisite 80's music that blasts from every restaurant and storefront from here to Patagonia, we're happy to report that the boutiques' designs in this part of the world have been much fresher than their music selections. Here are some of our finds, which happily blended perfectly well with our meager wardrobes from home. The recent acquisitions, along with the occasional pilfering from each others' suitcases, has added variety to our daily wear, with the added bonus of supporting local designers.

Both of these skirts, as well as Jess's boots (thus proving that you can indeed wear pumpkin orange boots with a pink floral skirt), are new. We should mention at this point that the prices here are remarkably affordable, especially for one-of-a-kind, handmade items of quality construction. You'll see some more of these new pieces in the outfit photos to come, and in the meantime here's a sneak peek of some of our South American booty. All photos are clickable to enlarge; details on the designers to come!

Jess's Acquisitions:

Audi's Additions:

P.S. Many people we've encountered here, as well as some of our commenters, have asked if we're sisters. We're not. At least not as far as we know (moms, now would be a good time to speak up). However, Jess considers Audi (at times - mostly when she's making coffee in the morning) as the sister she never had. Sisters in style and spirit at least - we'll take the compliment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Outfit Catch-up from Buenos Aires

At last Jess and I have internet access in our Buenos Aires apartment, so I'll first catch you up on all our outfits. Tomorrow I'll show you some of our purchases, and after that I'll bring you a post on this wonderful city we've been exploring. As you'll see in the photos below, most of my outfits have been variations on the same theme, since I brought a very limited wardrobe with me. Jess has been a little more prolific a shopper so far, adding several new items and completely transforming her travel wardrobe. I did, however, buy an adorbale, handmade pair of shoes that look like 1950's bowling shoes; they're in several of the photos below.

Besides all the shopping, we've been dining out a lot and have had some of the most delicious steak I've ever tasted. We've discovered some great music that we hadn't heard before, seen a tango show (as well as tango dancing on the street), and have explored most of the neighborhoods in the city. Tomorrow we're heading across the bay to Uruguay for a couple days, to relax and escape from the frenzy of the city.

For now I'll just let the outfit photos speak for themselves, and do a recap of how my travel wardrobe served me after I get back.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hola from Buenos Aires!

Hola blog friends! No, I haven't fallen off the map. Jess and I are having a fantastic time in Buenos Aires, but alas we have yet to get the wireless connection in our apartment to work. We've been assured that we'll be online by Saturday, so I hope to be able to bring you a few posts after that. Hasta luego!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reflected Outward

As promised, I had a little surprise up my sleeve for you whilst I carouse in Argentina. Today I bring you the wonderfully talented blogger and all-around awesome person, Sally McGraw.

Even as a teenager, I felt like I knew myself pretty well. I knew what I wanted, what I was capable of, how the world viewed me. I was self-aware and self-assured. Or so I thought.

But looking back, I realize that I knew very little about myself. I felt frumpy and unattractive, yet had both men and women falling all over themselves to be with me. I felt absolutely certain that I would become a bestselling novelist, yet had never written a line of fiction. I felt like I had my style nailed, yet I was essentially just wearing peer group-sanctioned duds … and looking disheveled and formless in them.

Even after I’d graduated from college and taken my first job, I flailed – both personally and stylistically. I had no idea how to be myself, look like myself, make myself feel strong and vibrant and GOOD. In the present day, I work at a university, and there are always a handful of truly lovely college girls roaming around the office, making copies and stuffing envelopes for some piddly stipend. Some of them eventually get hired on as real live employees, and I always see my former self in them: Struggling to understand what “work wear” means to a 21-year-old woman who has lived in jeans and sweatshirts for the length of her short life. Their pants are too long, their shoes impractical, their hair unkempt, their sweaters either far to formal or far too low-cut. They have no idea who they are because they are in transition, and their stylistic sputterings reflect this to the observing world.

I finally hit my stride at about 27. I’d been married for two years and had finally shifted from “frantically dieting to keep weight off” to “leading a healthy lifestyle,” which meant I felt better about my body than ever before. I also felt secure and loved, smart and accomplished, grounded and happy; I felt like an adult. And when I turned my attention to personal style, I was actually ready to do that work. Because for the first time, I truly DID know what I wanted, what I was capable of, and how the world viewed me. And I was able to make better choices because of that awareness.

I chose clothing that worked with my body instead of disguising it. I chose classic pieces that were versatile and well-made instead of crappy sale items that had no lasting place in my wardrobe. I chose items that were eye-catching and embellished instead of staid and drab. I slowly assembled a closet full of clothing that fit and flattered my form, clothing that made me look better than ever. And I began to FEEL better than ever. It transformed my life to watch those links click into place: I knew myself, I knew my style, I felt strong and vibrant and GOOD. And it took me many years of exploratory fumblings to get there.

This is not to say that NO ONE can become stylish until they’ve passed a certain age. Awww, hells no. Along with the confusedly-dressed college girls there are a few who saunter into the office looking fierce and fresh and flawless in ways that I never could, not even at 32. And although those stylish young women definitely have a jump start on the rest of us, their personal styles will morph and transform in huge, unpredictable ways as they learn more and more about themselves.

Personal style is very, very personal. And it often takes time to puzzle out what your specific, unique, marvelous, and highly individual look will be. When we are still exploring ourselves and growing into our personalities, our unformed style tells the world about who we are. When we have found ourselves and allow our personalities to evolve at a slower, more relaxed pace, we drive. We shape our style, and decide how it will reflect our inner selves outward.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Swingin' Birthday Bash

Happy birthday to me! Well, not quite. My birthday is not until the 9th, but since my friends Laura, Dann and I have birthdays that are close together and are all celebrating a 'big' one this year, we decided to have a combo birthday bash the weekend before last. And what a bash it was! Because we we're both turning 40 and figured we could get away with it, Laura and I decided to really go all-out with our birthday getups. This is what I put together.

Of course I made the hat myself, and Mark made the belt (it's for sale in the shop, in fact). The shirt is the amazing one from All Saints that I mentioned the other day. The back of the shirt is bustled and fits so well with the bloomers.

Not to be outdone, Laura wore a silver and black, besequined outfit topped off with a viking helmet. Pretty much everyone had worn the viking helmet by the end of the night, including my mom (see below). Mom flew down from Oregon to attend our swingin' bash, and my awesome friends Jess, Lisa, and Jessica came down from Seattle. Yes, that's the same Jess who has now turned right around and flown to Argentina with me. Not only that, but my friend Susie surprised me by coming out from Minneapolis for the event! Truly, I am blessed with some wonderful friends.

Our party was held at the fabulous Ambassador here in San Francisco. We had the mezzanine level to ourselves, including our own bar and wait staff. The best part of the evening was that after it was all over I was still 39! Now I just have to figure out how I want to celebrate my actual birthday; I have a feeling it won't be too hard to find something fun to do in Buenos Aires.