12 Outfits for April

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.


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.