Monday, October 7, 2013

Costume Party

I bought this dress and cropped jacket set the last time I was in Paris, and I just love the mod vibe. Over the summer I wore it with bare legs and sandals, but these pictures were taken when I wore it to a friend's party on a Saturday night. I played up the 60's flight attendant look by adding patent leather go-go boots and curling my hair. And no, it wasn't really a costume party per se, but then again one might say that EVERY party in San Francisco is a costume party.

The dress is cute on its own, as well. It has a woven linen trim and little brass button details, and came with a matching belt. Even Spencer stopped by to check it out.

Dress and Jacket: Caroline Biss
Boots: MIA

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September Sun

Ah, September; the month when summer really begins in San Francisco. This month has brought us the sunniest, hottest days so far this year, which meant some of those rare opportunities for both bare arms AND legs.

Friends, I have some big news: I'm now an official contributor over at Already Pretty! What I think it means for this blog is that my posts over here will be brief and outfit-focused, whereas my meatier posts will reside over with Sal. Stop by and visit me for my first contribution tomorrow!

Top: Club Monaco
Skirt: Moon Collection
Shoes: Fly London
Bag: East
Belt: gift from Mom

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Seeding" a Travel Wardrobe

Top and cardigan: Anthropologie; Pants: Karen Kane (a gift from Sal);
Sandals: Ara; Bag: East 

The outfit pictured here is very typical of what I've been wearing all summer, and came about because of a process I call "seeding," which I'll explain in this post. I developed this process as a way to assemble a travel wardrobe and manage on-the-road purchases, and it has worked remarkably well.

The strategy is easy and straightforward. Before I left for my last trip, I "seeded" my wardrobe with a few new items, shown below. I chose items that seemed very current in terms of color and style, and these formed the basis of my travel wardrobe.

The items I chose worked well with one another, as well as with the pieces I packed from my existing wardrobe. They're also all made of comfortable, washable fabrics that pack easily and resist wrinkling. Below are a few of my travel outfits that used both seeded and existing garments. Right off the bat the new items made my travel wardrobe more interesting because none of these outfits had ever been worn at home.

In addition to the items shown above, I also packed one pair of dark wash jeans, 2 pairs of sandals, one pair of boots, 2 other lightweight knit tops, and a few basic layering pieces such as long-sleeved tees and tank tops. Perhaps you're thinking, "White pants for traveling?" Yep. More on that later.

Now comes the fun part: shopping on the road. The items I seeded my wardrobe with, being the season's current styles and colors, had two important advantages:

  1. They worked well with many things I found in the shops abroad. Let's face it, fashion has become pretty homogeneous in the Western world these days, and the things I picked up in Baden-Baden, Edinburgh and Paris could easily have come from any of the shops I frequent in San Francisco. That's fine; they still have the sentimental value of being purchased while traveling, and I know they won't end up as closet orphans since they integrate well with other favorites.
  2. Since they were the new and exciting pieces in my wardrobe, they made me gravitate towards other items in the same color family that I found along the way. Not only that, but since I was often wearing one or more of my new items while shopping, I had them there to try on with all my potential purchases. 
Here are the things I picked up on the road:

As you can see, my entire shopping haul was made up of navy, teal and white (or off-white). All of these items were worn multiple times during the trip, and many were still workable even as I traveled into colder climates and needed to layer.  By the end of my trip I had slowly infused enough new items into the mix that I never tired of my travel wardrobe, and since I packed light to begin with, my suitcase had the space to accommodate the additional clothes.

The outfits shown below were all born on the trip, and have since been worn to work and around town. By seeding my wardrobe with a few new things and building upon those as I traveled, I built a fresh, versatile summer wardrobe with plenty of items that can transition into fall and winter.

Now, about those white pants: yes, they seem deeply impractical for a travel wardrobe because even the smallest spill will cause them to need laundering, but I managed to be extra careful with them and it was well worth it. The reason is that although it was hot and summery in Istanbul, the rest of the trip took me to colder climates where my sundresses were rendered completely useless. The white pants were a great way to look summery no matter what the weather was doing; in Istanbul I wore them with tanks and sandals, and in Iceland I tucked them into boots and wore them with layers and a jacket. So go ahead, pack those white pants for your next summer trip; just make sure you stay away from red wine and marinara sauce.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Foot Pain and the Fashion Girl

My feet hurt. I'm not talking about the sort of general soreness that comes with a day spent out walking, I'm talking about crippling pain that leaves me limping and near tears, flagging down a cab when I could easily walk the distance. It has taken me a long time to admit this.

Within the last year I've noticed that I:

  • almost always buy shoes while traveling, not because I need new shoes or even want them, but because the pain is so bad that I can't imagine getting through another day with the ones I brought. 
  • walk partway somewhere only to have to stop and grab the bus for the rest of the trip.
  • kick off my shoes at my desk, and even pad around the office in socks at times.
  • bypass many wardrobe options simply because I don't have comfortable enough shoes to wear with them.
  • shy away from about 80% of the shoes in my closet, even if they've been fine before, because my feet have gotten too sensitive to be trusted in all but the most reliable of pairs.

As you might imagine, the last 2 items are pretty dire for a gal who loves clothes and shoes, and has a giant wardrobe full of both. But lately the pain has gotten so bad that I decided to get serious, come what may, and I'm seeing it as a whole new fashion challenge that I CAN master.

This problem didn't just spring up overnight; it's the culmination of many years of intermittent pain that has always been difficult to pin a cause to. Shoes that were tried and true will suddenly cause searing pain; sometimes they'll be great for a few hours and leave me wincing by the end of the day, and sometimes I'll get off to a bad start and the pain will work itself out after awhile. It's one thing when a particular pair of shoes is the culprit; with me it can be any of them, at any time. For many years I could suffer one day with a challenging pair of heels and then recover the next by taking it easy in low-heeled boots, but over time the pain has gotten more intense, more frequent, and much, much harder to recover from.

Recently I dove in and did some serious research, and finally managed to determine what it is, though I've seen multiple doctors about the problem without ever being able to get any specific diagnosis. It's called Morton's neuroma, and basically it feels like the metatarsals between my third and fourth toes are grinding against each other every time I step down. Sometimes by the end of the day, the pad underneath the ball of my foot will also be burning with pain. Sometimes heels seem to exacerbate the problem, sometimes it's flats. It isn't just one foot either; sometimes it's the left and sometimes it's the right, though mercifully it isn't ever both on the same day.

Here's what's strange: I've lived with this for years, but somehow just knowing that this condition has a name gave me an incredible feeling of power over it. If it exists, I can fight it. If it's real, I can kill it. It's not a bizarre deformity, I'm not an anomaly; it's a named condition that is not deadly, and therefore it's surely within my power to conquer it.

I have carefully formulated a plan of attack. Certain things have helped me before: shoe inserts, reflexology, yoga, acupuncture, and of course, the right shoes (though to be sure, they are terribly hard to find -- at least ones I can stand to look at). A significant change must come to my shoe collection, and it will certainly involve the painful culling of some beloved pairs. I've been researching the brands that will work for my feet and have tracked down some inserts that specifically target this condition (which is a whole lot easier now that I know what it is); I've ordered some topical pain relief/anti-inflammatory creams and I've gotten myself a pair of toe stretchers; I will step up my visits to the acupuncture therapist and I will schedule regular foot massages; I am doing yoga to help with circulation and flexibility, and I will structure each day so that I have some time to put my feet up and let them recover and heal. Finally, I've started a journal to help me track which pairs of shoes I wear each day, how much I walk, which treatments I try, and the level of discomfort.

Sadly, not a journal about all the delicious bread I've eaten.

I'm hoping this will be, if not necessarily a fun journey, at least one that lets me explore fashion (mainly shoes) in a different way. With discipline and commitment, I know I can regain some sort of control over this aspect of my health and learn to manage it more effectively. Ultimately I'd like to do this without without having to go the extreme route of cortisone injections and/or surgery. The real question is, can I do it without having to resort to wearing orthopedic shoes? That, of course, remains to be seen.
. . . .

In case you're wondering, the shoes pictured here are the most recent of my desperate travel purchases. They turned out to be an excellent buy, and have been a staple all this summer. Here are the outfit details:

Top: Anthropologie
Cardigan: Jigsaw
Pants: Monsoon
Sandals: Mephisto
Bag: Banana Republic

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bear With Me

Here's that new bag again, which has seen a lot of use this summer. I like how it gives a little bit of structure and polish to this otherwise casual outfit.

You may have noticed that my posting of late has been both sporadic and infrequent. At this point I'm not sure in which direction I want to take the blog, or if I want to continue at all. With everything going on in my life right now, I just don't seem to find the time for blogging as often, and when I do I feel I've simply run out of things to say about daily outfits. I do have an epic post coming up which I've been mulling over since I got back from my last trip, and after that I may stop altogether or possibly spin off in a different direction. Bear with me while I try to sort out my next move.

Jacket: Tulle
Top: Anthropologie
Scarf: thrifted
Pants: Cynthia Steffe
Shoes: Gabor
Bag: Elaine Turner

And on a completely different note: for my fellow gardeners out there who remember my living wall post from last year, you might be curious to see how it's doing. Below are photos of the wall last September, about 3 months after I built it, and a couple weeks ago in all its tangled, overgrown glory:



The felt substrate is now almost completely concealed behind the tangle of plants. Over the past several months there have been a few substitutions when particular plants weren't able to cope with the deep shade, but over time I think I've fine-tuned the species that really thrive in this spot, and they all seem to be pretty happy. Even my gardener is impressed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Without Hesitation

This great little structured bag came my way via MyHabit, which is Amazon's flash sale site, similar to Gilt. When the bag originally appeared in a sale, I wasn't quick enough to get one before it was gone (my big complaint with MyHabit is that they have very few of each item, so browsing the sales often leads to disappointment when all the best things are sold out within 5 minutes). However, I put my name on the wait list and one became available about a month later, so I snagged it without hesitation. A sure case of non-buyer's remorse averted!

Cardigan: Max Studio
Jeans: Level 99
Top: a gift from my sis
Necklace: a gift from Sal
Boots: Brako
Bag: Elaine Turner

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Travel Photos

Today I thought I'd share some photos from my recent trip abroad. It was a complicated itinerary, to be sure. First stop, Istanbul:

Of course we had to hit all the major sights. Here's the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya, 
directly across from each other in the main square of the Sultanahmet neighborhood.

I almost never take pictures of myself during my travels, but this time we traveled with Mark's sister and her husband, 
who are better at remembering to capture the people and not just the places. On the right is the Basilica cistern.

Kitties everywhere! The running joke was, "Free kitten with every purchase!"

Istanbul straddles the European and Asian continents. Here's the view from the ferry, 
leaving the European side and heading over to Asia.

The beautiful (and fragrant) spice bazaar.

The incredible tiled interior of the Blue Mosque. 

The interior of the ancient Aya Sofya (aka Hagia Sophia).

The next stop on the trip for me was to work in Strasbourg, while Mark went back to London with his sister and her husband, who live there. 
However I had an extra day to kill, so I spent a night in nearby Baden-Baden, which is 30 minutes by train from Strasbourg.

 The town is peaceful and idyllic, the weather was perfect, and everything was in bloom; it's no wonder people came here 
for their health in the 19th century. I felt healthier after just wandering around for 10 minutes.

 The next morning I braved a long and very steep funicular ride to the top of the Merkur, a nearby mountain with 
spectacular views over the Black Forest and as far as the Vosges mountain range in France.

After working for a few days in Strasbourg, I hopped the train to Paris, where I met Mark for the weekend before he left for home.

 On Saturday we had lovely weather, and spent the morning going to the various shops gathering supplies for a 
picnic at the Jardin du Luxembourg. We stayed in the Marais neighborhood, which is one of my favorite parts of Paris.

From Paris I flew to Edinburgh, where I had another work stop. But I arrived a couple days early so that I could catch up with my friends there and do a bit of sightseeing.

In another uncharacteristic act of braving extreme heights, I hiked to the top of the Scott monument 
to take in the views of the old town and Princes Park.

After Edinburgh I had another work stop in Glasgow, and from there I flew to Reykjavik to spend the last days of my trip with my friend (and onetime blog contributor) Jess, who just moved there.

Ah, Reykjavik! It was so great to be back.

The big outing of the weekend was the road trip that Jess and I took around the Snaefellsness peninsula, 
with the first stop at the beautiful fishing village of Stykkisholmur, one of my favorite towns in Iceland.

Jess has adorable pink anime hair these days.

At around 1 am we made it to Dritvik, a mysterious black sand bay with the rusted remains of a 1940's shipwreck strewn across the sand. 

Still light at 1 am, one of the many great things about traveling in Iceland during the summer.

From Iceland I flew to Amsterdam, where I stayed overnight and caught a direct flight back to San Francisco the next morning. Whew! That was a lot of traveling, a lot of countries, and a lot of experiences. Oh yes, and there was a lot of shopping along the way too. I'll get a post together soon about my travel wardrobe (a particular challenge for so long a trip with so many different climates and activities) and the shopping I did along the way.