15 Outfits for July 2018

For me, July was a month of travel and special events, both of which called for unique considerations outfit-wise. While I admittedly have two cocktail dresses which I keep specially for formal occasions (i.e. the wedding I attended this month), there were several casual events to take into account while planning this month's sampler wardrobe; among them a rehearsal dinner, two fancy brunches, an Independence Day soiree, and my high school reunion, for which I shamelessly wanted to look my best. I also had to ensure I pulled enough travel wear to get me through two long plane rides and both east and west coast summer climates. Between all that casual-wear planning, I decided it would be best to leave my work wardrobe as-is, so you may notice those pieces are exactly the same as July's -- just styled differently in the photos below!

For all these constraints, I'm proud with how this sampler turned out. With just 24 articles of clothing, I kept things fresh by mixing in accessories and rotating separates. A distinct color palette emerged almost by accident, and I correctly anticipated what little interest I'd have in sleeves this month. Incredibly, I'm not yet bored by my rollover work wardrobe, and while I am still seeking a lighter-toned trouser or skirt, you may see most of these pieces remixed a third time for August!

To my delight, I had a chance to put my wardrobe organization studies into practice when I visited my parents. My mom, who shares my fondness for a variety of clothing styles, felt overdue for a closet purge, and I set to work making room for more space, order, and "her-ness" within her current collection. We spent five fun-filled hours together, pairing like with like and creating a series of new looks she felt excited about. It was a joy to see my mother exercising her panache for creative problem-solving with pieces she'd been uncertain about before; I've always admired her willingness to embrace change. If I can figure out her secret to doing this, I'll consider myself twice blessed!

It's always hard after vacation to rev up the engines again; to put in motion all those hopes you dreamed up while away from reality. The reunion provided a good chance to check in on what I've been doing (and not doing) in the ten years since I left home. Presently, I'm doing my best not to get swept up again in the current that is New York City; to keep my head above water and my feet kicking forward, my breath level and my eyes on the silhouette possibilities that I chased here, rather than the distractions which lie around every corner, however delightful they are. It feels quite grown-up to think in that way, and I believe I'm finally ready to let myself grow up a little bit more.


16 Outfits for June 2018

Whew! It's been a full day of sorting through and editing this outfit spread, as there was lots to feature this month. June's sampler was packed with tops (for reasons I'll explain further on), which of course meant taking more photos to feature them properly. The summer foliage on the tree outside our apartment means natural lighting is more difficult to come by these days. And of course the infamous humidity is starting to creep in as well. Needless to say I'm a little nervous for my July & August shoots! Good thing ballet taught me how to smile through a whole lot of sweat.

Can I get personal for a moment? This season has been somewhat of a turning point for me in my attitude toward the future. I'm finally coming head to head with some thought patterns that have been present my whole life but which have never served me. I'm doing a lot of thinking about where I've come from and where I'd like to go from here. Particularly, I'm willing myself to let the past remain in the past; to finally let myself move forward from habits, expectations, relationships, and dreams which no longer resonate or bring joy to my life. I'm doing my best to siphon the good memories and avoid tossing the baby with the bathwater, but as someone with a truly sentimental soul, who's always been guilty of nostalgia, I'm realizing it's better for me to focus on what's ahead, rather than obsessing over the lessons left behind. Most of all, I'm hopeful that things like exercise, mental health, and goal-setting are going to reclaim their seats as my shotgun navigators. In the past three years, I feel like I've taken one detour after another, exploring to my heart's content and letting my whims take the wheel -- but now I'm ready to merge back onto the freeway and make some serious mileage.

What does any of that have to do with my wardrobe? Why, getting out of my comfort zone, bien sur! Personal style is an excellent way to experiment with your own boundaries. While they feel like extensions of my soul now, some past examples of such tests exist in the peach babydoll dress (Am I this girly?), the white crop tee (Do I need a toned stomach?), and my beloved vintage denim cut-offs (Is a mom jean too "mom" if it actually belonged to your mom?) These pieces were obviously worth branching out for, as they're all still here, being paraded across my blog. It's so satisfying to try something you're not sure about and wind up feeling really great in it. So give yourself the permission to shake things up every once in a while. Especially when something calls to you in a thrift shop, where there's usually little monetary risk involved.

I've also made a point to embrace those aspects of my body I don't typically feel comfortable displaying. Crop tops, high-waisted jeans, short shorts, and even flat shoes all pose potential problems on my short figure, but I'm training myself to ignore such style scripture. You may be struggling with your own personal hang-ups, but if there's one thing I've learned about personal style, it's that you can (and should!) dictate your own rules. So long as you feel comfortable, who really gives a damn? I care A WHOLE LOT about my wardrobe, but we should all remember: at the end of the day, it's just fabric!

All in all, I only increased my item count slightly this month from the last, but I have two good reasons for it:

  1. Adventures in Subway-ing. While I'll happily lay around the apartment in a camisole and boxers, I naturally want to look more presentable for my commute. Getting to and from work means about 30 mins of walking in the sunshine / summer-storm / sticky evening air, waiting 5-15 mins in the sultry subway, and at least 1.5 hours on the train itself -- the interior of which can range anywhere from refrigerator-esque to hot-yoga humid, pending on the AC situation. While my workwear requirements remain fairly consistent through the seasons, those to-and-fro 'fits have to be adaptable. Hence the variety of outerwear and sleeve lengths in this month's casual stock.
  2. More Laundry, More Problems. It doesn't take a genius to figure out wearing two tops per work day translates to an increase in laundry, one way or another. Since I'm far more interested in having additional outfits than doing additional chores, I chose to balance my wardrobe accordingly and schlep larger loads on my usual laundry days.
While my ice-cold winter heart will always be faithful to the cold seasons, I have to say I'm melting a bit toward enjoying warm-weather dressing. In all fairness, NYC hasn't reached its full heatwave potential just yet, so take that admission with a grain of salt. For now, there's a certain element of fun in trying to anticipate what the day will call for -- like whether I can get away with long sleeves and bare legs. I live for these narrow windows of Goldilocks temperatures!

A lot of you are probably taking trips out of town for the summer. I'm pleased to report this little wardrobe held up perfectly for a family vacation to Colorado. For four days of travel, I managed to fly with just a small backpack and a lunch tote -- probably my most minimalist pack to date! Everything I wore felt comfortable and stylish, I did NOT wear pajamas on the plane, and no money was spent on overpriced airplane food. (Am I radiating enough smugness here??) I'm just rearing to go for next month's challenge: a ten-day trip to the west coast, with three special events to boot! Bring it on, July!


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!