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.


12 Outfits for February 2018

Welcome to the end of February, friends! I really enjoyed structuring my sampler wardrobe for this month. My birthday falls in February, so naturally it's always been one of my favorites. I've never had qualms about sending out all the love on Valentine's Day, cheesy or not, so I made an effort to select garments that reflected my love for, well, love! As a result you'll see splashes of reds and berries alongside my usual neutrals of gray, black, white and denim. I also tried to focus on lace, ruffle, and bow details, which speak to the prototypical "feminine" aspect of this occasion. But of course you'll never catch me getting too cutesy; there's still plenty of tomboy influence tempering out these additional frills.

Glancing over the looks above, you may detect a noticeable outlier in the bunch, and that's the sage blouse + rust/black maxi skirt combination. Ironically, this outfit is probably my most favorite! (The first time I wore it, I felt like I'd finally unlocked my own version of Molly Ringwald's Breakfast Club ensemble.) While sorting through my January wardrobe selections, deciding what to pull forward vs. what to put back in storage, I found I'd shied away from giving the skirt much airplay, possibly out of bashfulness at how bold it is. For February, I decided I'd challenge myself to embrace its attitude, and once I got over my own hesitations it turned out to be surprisingly versatile. So I'm glad to have kept it in rotation, even if it didn't perfectly fit the rest of the chosen palette. A good reminder not to get too hung up on following "the rules," for it's these spontaneous gut-instincts that unearth our truest style!

Speaking of discovering style, it's odd that as my fashion type becomes less definable (while the influences are there, I don't think you could label these looks altogether classic, urban, or bohemian), my sense of personal style is becoming more and more clear to me. It's pretty easy to enter a shop now and know what's worth taking home. I spend far less time in the dressing room than I once did, because I know what I like, and I know what fits me. While I can still be indecisive about whether something is worth the cost, that gut voice has gotten louder, and I'm letting myself trust it more.

For those of you struggling with any aspect of defining your style, I can only suggest spending more time with what you already own. Ask yourself what you wear most often and why. Take notes on which fabrics you're drawn to and which ones drive you crazy. Put on some music, mix up some outfits, and admire your creations in the mirror. Styling can be its own form of self-care, and in the month of romancing, it's just as important to give some love to yourself!

Looking ahead, I anticipate March in New York will be chilly as ever, so I'll be styling for another month of winter rather than pulling springtime pieces. That said, my favorite Housing Works' Best of Spring sale starts next week, so I'm jump-starting my bi-yearly closet analysis to come with a game-plan in hand. For those of you interested, the guidelines I use for this process are outlined in Anuschka Rees' The Curated Closet -- which, as I mentioned last month, is pretty much my style bible. If you're looking for a fail-safe way to build a versatile, compact wardrobe, this is a perfect resource.

More soon, lovelies! Best of luck as we wander toward the greens of spring.


14 Outfits for January 2018

With full intentions to post my December sampler wardrobe as usual, between holiday season at the restaurant, traveling home for Christmas, and two bouts of winter colds (I am now battling a low-grade flu, and having just recovered from those colds, it hardly seems fair!), life just ate up any opportunities for personal photo-shoots. Hopefully this post is a welcome reintroduction to the sampler process, detailing how you can build a variety of unique outfits from even the smallest of wardrobes.

Here in NYC, January marks our transition into true winter weather. Per the advice of my wardrobe-building guru Anuschka Rees, I performed just a minor closet assessment during this season change. Rather than seeking out new styles or silhouettes, I turned my attention to cold-weather additions that would help me get through those single-digit days. Upon this assessment, I found myself fairly well-equipped for weekends, what with my inability to resist (and afterward ever part with) loose-fitting knitwear. When it came to winter-proofing my work attire against our front-of-house freezing winds, however, I was stumped. Finally, I settled on a simple black turtleneck, which has already proven itself to be a real wardrobe MVP. Pairing my usual silk blouses beneath more tailored sweaters has also been a godsend through single-digit dinner shifts.

After five days of work in those nicer garments, crawling between the folds of a chunky sweater or broken-in jeans feels almost indulgent, and I basically lived in this combination on the weekends. Typically I'm not much for the "uniform" approach, but a variety of sweater shapes and two different styles of jeans was enough to keep me from ever feeling bored.

My winter outerwear pieces are not featured in the photos, but of course I have a few on rotation. One is a cozy neutrally-colored parka and the other a slightly fancier black wool toggle coat. My down layer has also featured heavily due to the freezing temperatures we experienced at the start of the month. Those three options, layered with my knitwear, have seen me through even the chilliest temperatures without complaint. Having hauled enough elephantine Canada Goose parkas to and from coat check, I'm very much over the idea of burdening myself (or anyone else for that matter) with something heavier.

One hurdle I have yet to overcome in developing a more conscious closet is how to balance my sustainable standards alongside an appetite for creative spontaneity. I'm not bothered by the structure my sustainability journey has imposed -- an over-thinker by nature, I feel much better making choices within a set of guidelines -- but what drew me toward styling in the first place was the potential for new discoveries. So this month I loosened the reigns enough to "impulse-buy" a pair of black platform hightops (featured above.) While I'd typically go for a more practical look, these took me straight back to my high school obsession with all things 80s (Goonies, anyone?) Once I confirmed their comfort and affordability, I was happy to indulge that gut-reaction.

Come springtime, it will be time for a more in-depth style overhaul, perhaps exploring some new directions for the warmer half of the year. For now, I'm just focusing on gathering inspiration -- like a little chipmunk hoarding seeds! -- so I'll have plenty of material to draw from once March rolls around.

Springtime. It sounds lovely right now, doesn't it? Birds chirping, the scent of fresh flowers, sunshine peeking through the budding trees... I try not to get ahead of myself, but on days like these it's hard not to dream. For now, as I shiver along these city streets, I remind myself that once the July humidity comes rolling in, I'll be dreaming of winter all over again.