15 Outfits for May 2018

Remember back in grade school when you defined yourself and all your friends by your favorite colors? Akin to inquiring “What’s your sign?” this served as a perfectly adequate way to pigeonhole one another — distinguishing the pinks personalities from the purples. My own best friend at that time loved blue — particularly the lightest, softest shades — and I, in my typical over-enthusiasm, declared a devotion to yellow. This preference lasted until I painted my bedroom walls lime green, and then a new obsession was born. In recent years, I’ve shied away from the pale yellows of my youth, figuring they make me look babyish (or worse: sickly!)

But there’s nothing so delicate about bright yellow! In fact, I noticed that wearing this shade really boosts my confidence. Pairing it with shades of denim lent the essence of a sun-filled sky to even the chilliest, dreariest storm day. I adore how these colors pop in this month's photo spread — especially alongside my more sober-toned work outfits. Between all the navy and black, I included some lighter blouses and dresses, but I do intend to find at least one warm-toned professional trouser or skirt before summer's end.

While storing pieces at the end of my April sampler, I decided to take a full closet inventory categorized by season. As it turns out, I have an ideal number of warm-weather pieces, some room for expansion in my cold-weather category, and waaaaaaaay too many transition pieces for the brief spring and fall periods which characterize New York. As mentioned in March, this is likely due to holdover from Seattle, the climate of which necessitated such pieces about 80% of the year.

Spring and fall are difficult seasons to resist shopping, as this is when stores roll our their new inventory, but I did my best to redirect my attention away from the abundance and instead toward anticipating key summer items in need of replacement. I'm glad to have taken this approach, because surely the $50 required to resole my singular pair of sandals would have quickly been spent on a novelty dress with an irresistible print — or three. Ergo, my main takeaway tip for you this month: Understand your city's unique division of seasons, and stock your wardrobe accordingly.

Another obstacle I ran into this month: redundancy. In addition to the pieces listed above, I had also included an additional tunic-style tank blouse and another pair of skinny jeans. They worked well together, but when their rotation came up I found myself reaching for something else, and my error was realized. Three pairs of jeans was, of course, overkill for the casual section of my wardrobe — especially while trying to get the most wear out of my favorite transitional dresses. The featured white floral maxi and peach babydoll are two of my most favorite pieces, but their fabrics call for ideal weather conditions to make them truly wearable. So, second tip for sampler wardrobe-ing: Identify your seasonal favorites and make room to wear them as much as possible.

Style-wise, I would happily wear this wardrobe another month if I could. Transitional seasons are my favorite because they provide the opportunity to play with layering and quirky pairings without winter coats or summer sweat obscuring the fun. Unfortunately for me, we've already soared into the 80s a few times here, and a portion of my casual wear will need to be swapped out to accommodate the rising heat. That said, my work basics are here to stay; continual air-conditioning means longer sleeves and pants are not only possible, but essential. It also means increasing my casual wear options, as I'll soon have commuting outfits to consider alongside my regular off days'. If that seems excessive, I invite you to try boarding a crowded subway car with broken A/C in an outfit selected for several hours of standing below a chilly vent... NYC humidity DGAF about your best silk work blouse.

But let's hope we still have a few weeks of spring left to celebrate before all that.

See you in June!


12 Outfits for April 2018

April was a trying month for me. Whether it was Mercury in retrograde or the unpredictabile weather patterns of the Northeast Winter That Would Never End, my moods have been up and down, my self-confidence kicked around, and my general enthusiasm for dressing up gone out the window along with my energy.

Here in NYC, we spent the first week of April freezing through the forties, then in the second week we sporadically plunged into sunshine. Excited to spend my day off outside for the first time in ages, I donned my newly-thrifted leather jacket, converse, and a breezy jumpsuit, then thought twice and packed a lightweight wool cardigan and scarf too. They never came out of my bag. Thermometers hit 80 degrees and my leather jacket was quickly stuffed away with them. Hail the sunshine!

Within 48 hours it was windy, raining, and miserable again.

Just when it seemed we'd never level out, this week brought a string of tentatively warm days which I hope signal the end of winter-spring and the start of spring-summer. (There is no official, straight spring here, I'm convinced; it's a phenomenon that exists only in singular, sublime hours when you happen to be trapped inside at work.) Anyway, I'm not exactly satisfied with the practicality of this sampler. But I'm also not altogether sure how I would've fixed it under the circumstances.

One thing that did cheer me up significantly were two fabulous thrift scores at the Housing Works Best of Spring sale. Both make an appearance above. The first, while you can't see the texture very well, is a black v-neck sweater which just so happens to be made of the softest, most comforting cashmere I've ever been blessed enough to own. This sweater became my security blanket through the darkest of days, the dimmest of evenings, and the longest of subway rides. The second piece, a lemon print skirt by Kate Spade (scored with tags at nearly 80% off its initial price) is a springtime dream! Until playing with the flowers in last month's post, I'd never imagined bright yellow being part of my closet. So I decided to employ the waiting game for about a week, giving myself time to mull over how it would function in my wardrobe and how badly I wanted it -- and hoping against hope no one would find my treasure in the meantime. When I came back to the shop and found it waiting for me, I took it as a sign and made lemonade, so to speak.

For those of you still suffering through the land of Is-It-Winter-Is-It-Spring, here's what did work this month:

-Keep Out The Winter Jacket: While I've stored my wool toggle coat, this parka was the most worn outerwear of my whole stock -- proof that April in New York is still chilly as can be! Don't abandon ship early; wait til May to stuff it away.
-But Also, Layers: For those days that do reach the 60s, especially when there's sunshine, layers will clearly come in handy. I focused on lightweight-yet-warm fabrics like merino and leather, which could be paired with one another for additional heat.
-One Kick-Around Sweater, One Work Sweater: Sweaters are also still a necessity right now, and while I always have some kind of casual cozy knit to get me through any season, having a nicer one for work was also useful. If your workplace is like mine, people are starting to play the cooling vs. heating game, and there's nothing like a blast of AC to make you regret breaking out your spring silks. Looks like I'll be sticking with long sleeves at work til the humidity rolls in.
-April Showers Bring... Skirts!: Nothing beats kicking up your rainboots under a cute skirt while you parade fearlessly through rain puddles. Black tights will conceal mudspray, and bold ones can be paired with high boots for a cheeky pop of color.

Onto (true) SPRING, guys! I feel like I've been sitting on two months of expectation now. It's time to let the sunshine in at last.


12 Outfits for March 2018

We've reached the end of March! As you will see in this month's outfit photos, I am celebrating the end of winter with bundles of bright, sunny flowers. While I'm one of those rare oddballs who actually loves winter, I don't think I've ever been so restless for spring. This season's felt colder, longer, and fuller of personal reflection than any I can remember -- and now I'm rearing to go outside, get moving, and take action!

Lucky for me, my March sampler wardrobe did not disappoint. Beyond the overhasty storage of my wool coat, I was pleased with its mixability and overall boho-chic look. It's immensely satisfying to finally discover the perfect blend of basics and statement pieces. I've been pendulum-ing between those two extremes for a long time.

When I planned this sampler at the end of last month, I was struck by an instinct to lunge for my skirts and sundresses. I'd already identified my spring inspirations and made a shopping list for the warmer months ahead -- fare-thee-well, winter! I've always thought of March as marking the start of spring and, calendar-wise, that's true. But nowhere I've lived has spring actually ever started when it's "supposed" to do so. In New York, spring is the shortest season after fall, lasting about 2/3 as long as winter. It makes up for the lack of sunshine during its miserably long summers, but essentially nullifies the transitional basics acquired during my time in Seattle. My favorite long sleeve dresses, light sweaters, and down vest seem to lie constantly in waiting.

What did work during transition time:
  • Choosing a palette and sticking to it. With the exception of my lightwash jeans and floral dress, everything in this wardrobe fell into the category of a neutral (black, white, gray, and beige) or a green. Palettes aren't a requirement for maintaining small wardrobes, but they do allow for maximizing a limited collection. When everything goes with everything, you can mix and match to your heart's content! It also creates a lovely harmony in your personal presentation, which suggests a certain reliability of character.
  • Focusing on duality, not transition. Winter and spring can coexist in the same wardrobe, but as mentioned above, unless you live in a truly temperate climate, weather fluctuations are going to demand one season at a time. If you're struggling with adjusting to temperatures changes, you may consider including both wool sweaters and light tees in the same collection, as opposed to relying on spring jackets which will likely prove too cool for wintry days and be cast off in the sunshine.
  • Rejoicing in the power of accessories. Another troubling aspect to season transition is that it seems like the wrong time to buy anything. On the one hand, it can feel risky to invest early in warm-weather styles and nonsensical to buy cooler pieces just to store them in a few week's time. This is when I turn my attention to those necklaces, scarves, hats, bags, and tights which haven't journeyed beyond my bedroom in awhile. I'm super pleased by the mileage I got from my bejeweled collar necklace, afghan scarf, and leather backpack this month -- and it's nice to know they feel loved in return.
Additionally, completing my bi-annual personal style overhaul was rewarding as ever. This process gave me time to reflect on last year's wants and purchases and served as an invitation to pour over a cast-off Vogue with tea and cookies, which is always a welcome treat. It came together just in time for the Housing Works sales, and it was comforting to know I was shopping on more than just impulse. I can't wait to share the new treasures I found in future samplers!

What else is on the horizon for spring? The annual stream of fair-weather visitors is arriving, and I couldn't be happier to have an excuse to tromp around the city with my out-of-town pals. (Always a fun time to plan some new outfits!) Daylight savings time has brought brighter light to the restaurant, which has in turn brought more attention to the state of my work garments and necessary repairs therein. Sporadic nannying opportunities require having one or two kid-proof outfits on hand. And if I can get over whatever hump's been looming before me, auditioning will start to take more of a front seat in my life again. In preparation for the warmer weather, I'll also be giving my winter items a final laundering before storage, including multiple-wear pieces like coats and hefty handwashables, like my merino sweaters. Gotta harness those last days of radiator heating!

Until April, everyone.