1.30.2018

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.

xoxo,
R

1.19.2018

2017 Wardrobe Purchases & Evaluation

Happy (belated) New Year to all! If you are reading this, I appreciate your loyal interest in what has been a rather neglected space this year. While I'm not making any promises I can't keep, I do hope 2018 holds more space for creative pursuits, and as always, Inspirsession will remain at the top of my list of preferred outlets.

Each January I like to reflect on the past year's style in some form, and this year I thought it might be productive to review my wardrobe purchases with you. Having yet to take inventory as I type this now, I'm slightly anxious to see how I fared in terms of quality over quantity. After all, I spent the entirety of 2017 abstaining from "buying new." Hopefully I continued to foster good shopping habits!

While I did purchase both used and new items this year, I strove to find secondhand options whenever available. There's little excuse in New York to shop new (well-stocked thrift stores, fashionable friends, a never-ending scroll of Craigslist moving sales... the options are boundless) -- but temptation also lurks around every corner. When I set foot inside Banana Republic for the first time in almost two years this holiday season, I almost lost my mind. So many choices, yet so little satisfaction at the end of it all! It reinforced my commitment to seeking out more localized, ethical options when supporting brands.

Below you'll find a list of each acquisition, along with comments regarding my overall satisfaction with the item since its purchase. As countless selfies abound on my phone, I've also thrown in some photos of these pieces in action. Whether your style runs parallel to mine or not, hopefully it will encourage similar pondering on your own habits and acquisitions.

Here's a little nudge:

   ▻Which items served you on a daily basis and which were just occasionally fun?

   ▻What brands proved worth their salt?

   ▻Could anything you purchased have been borrowed instead?

   ▻What piece still gives you butterflies when you take it in your hands?

          and of course we musn't forget the most delicious (and dangerous) of questions --  

   ▻What's still missing?



Graphic-Print Bikini • Athleta


Full disclosure -- The last time I bought a bikini before this one was in 2008. In case you can't do the math, here's a bit of perspective: the first person who saw me in that bikini was a high school boyfriend. Needless to say, it was time to find a replacement. While I usually aim for all-natural fibers in my clothing, modern swimsuits by their nature require synthetics. Plus, I figure if I continue to swim as infrequently as I do now, then maybe this bikini will last me two decades, at which point I'm sure I'll be ready to throw in the towel (pun intended) and... well, go nude!

Frequency Worn: That once-in-a-blue-moon summer vacation.
Would Buy Again: So far, so good. 

 Cotton Boyshorts (2pk) • Pact


Victoria's Secret had been sounding its siren call across 5th Avenue for long as I'd been in need of replacement underwear. However, having heard about Pact -- with their fair-trade policy, organic cotton, and eco-focused production practices -- how could I justify pushing money toward anything less, all in the name of a cute ass-shielding print? As it turns out, Pact's options are still cute, and their underwear is some of the comfiest I've ever worn in my life. Boyshorts without wandering hems are nowhere to be found at Victoria's Secret, and it feels good to know I'm supporting a company who respects both their workers and the environment.

Frequency: Every laundry cycle.
Would Buy Again: 100%.

Cotton Lace-Waist Thong (2pk) • Pact


Another round of applause for Pact: The first pair of unmentionables I purchased (before the boyshorts) just weren't quite the right fit for me, and because their policy cited a satisfaction guarantee, I asked about exchanging for another style. In the interest of saving on shipping costs (for me as well as the planet), Pact let me keep the first order, shipped my replacement free of charge, and also sent me a free pair of socks. Guys, this is how you build a brand.

Frequency: (see above)
Would Buy Again: (see above)

Ribbed Cotton Socks (3pk) • Merona


Not much to say here. These are socks I got at Target. I tried to not get socks at Target, and I tried to get 100% cotton socks, but apparently that isn't a thing anymore. I've already lost the black pair. Sigh.

Frequency: Less often than I would have thought. Apparently I wear all black much more than I realized...
Would Buy Again: While not the cheapest alternative, I'm so satisfied with the aformentioned complimentary Pact socks, I'd probably consider their options next time

Black Contour Bra • Natori 



I love this bra. Bras, like swimsuits, can be pretty hard to purchase ethically. (That is unless you have itsy-bitsy breasts, in which case, please enjoy those lovely drapey triangles for the rest of us, mmkay?) This bra passed because a) it came in my small-around-the-ribs-except-for-these-lady-lumps-right-here size and b) it's sexy without being fussy. Win.

Frequency: Like, every work day.
Would Buy Again: I want all the colors.

Nude & Lace Convertible Bralette • Wacoal


SING HALLLLLLELUJAH, BECAUSE THE BRALETTE GODS HAVE FINALLY SMILED DOWN ON MY GRAVITY-BOUND TA-TAS!!! This bralette is so comfortable, yet still somehow it remains supportive without any wiring at all. (I think the secret's in the seams?) It can also be converted into a racer-back style, which lets the lace peek out a bit more. 

Frequency: Like, every non-work day.
Would Buy Again: Definitely.
 

Reversible Camisole • Old Navy


I don't have a very good picture of this camisole, because I typically wear it under sweaters and sometimes to bed, but it is COMMMMFFFFYYY. I'm trying very hard to avoid Old Navy and its fast-fashion sisters these days, but you really can't argue a good basic when it's $3. And verrrrrry soft modal. I mean, I'm only human.

Frequency: Weekly or bi-weekly.
Would Buy Again: As long as I feel I can't afford Pact's more ethical options. (This is becoming a trend...)
 

Rose-Pattern Crop Swing Tank • Free People (secondhand)


Randomly thrifted for $8 at a Buffalo Exchange in Brooklyn. This is the perfect style top for those terrible NYC summer days when you can no longer fathom the idea of clothing.

Frequency: At least twice a month for the summer months.
Would Buy Again: Yep!

Striped Banana Crop Tee • Topshop (secondhand)


I justified buying this shirt while I was a nanny, because I figured it was the type of thing the kids would adore. Turns out, funny graphics on crewnecks are nothing new to children, and they were unmoved. I'm still glad I found it, because it's certainly appealing to me. (You're welcome for that.)

Frequency: About twice a month in the warmer months.
Would Buy Again: Everyone and no one needs a banana shirt.
 

"Misfit" Oversized Tee • Rebel Yell (secondhand)


Apologies for this moody, flip-flopped, and slightly scandalous dressing room shot, but this is photographic evidence of love at first sight. (Yep, that's my "love" face.) I don't remember how much this tee was -- certainly less than $10 -- but I do remember immediately falling for its effortless draping, softness, and lingering scent of someone else's detergent. Nothing I tried on that day fit me better than this, so the ironic misnomer was just icing on the cake.

Frequency: To bed, and often.
Would Buy Again: Over and over again.
 

Silk Hi-Lo Blouse • Vince (secondhand)


A silky score at Housing Works' Best of Fall sale this year. There's nothing to complain about here, and I do love that evergreen color, but this blouse isn't exactly winning any creativity awards. It just gets the job done at, well, the job.

Frequency: Once a laundry cycle.
Would Buy Again: Despite my lack of enthusiasm here, it's a great basic. Would buy again.
 

Crop Chambray Blouse • Alice & Olivia (secondhand) 


This blouse has been a treasure, albeit a fussy one. A "dry clean only" (ha-ha) linen-tencel mix, it's like the Pomeranian of blouses, requiring watchful hand-washing and careful drying. Still, she's versatile, and I love her. Woof-woof. 

Frequency: A bit too hot for summer and a bit too cold for winter, this is decidedly a transition piece. Just a few weeks' wear, but well worth it!
Would Buy Again: For a basic, I'd probably seek out something a bit easier to care for, but I do love the structure lent by the linen.
 

Thermal Turtleneck • Cuddl Duds

 

Never underestimate the power of a simple black turtleneck. (Audrey knew.) This little number has saved me from many a night of single-digit winds through the restaurant door. Plus, it makes me feel classy AF.

Frequency: I'd probably wear this to work every day of winter if I could.
Would Buy Again: Yes. It's machine washable (though I baby it and don't tumble dry), and it's held up really well so far. Plus, Cuddl Duds will probably be around forever, so it should be easy to replace when the time comes.

Cashmere-Blend Striped Sweater • New Scotland (secondhand)

 

This sweater is apparently so fun it made me want to blow yellow rose petals toward my phone in jovial excitement! A cashmere-linen blend, it's another piece that requires careful washing, but has proven a worthwhile basic for transition months. It's no great secret that stripes can help to jazz up an otherwise basic or monochromatic wardrobe. So if you're getting a little bored with your closet, get thee to a Bretonery!

Frequency: Regularly... every other wash cycle or so?
Would Buy Again: Yes. 

Merino Side-Button Sweater • A.P.C. (secondhand) 

Touch-Screen Gloves • The North Face (secondhand)


I thrifted both of these items on the same chilly fall day, anticipating the cold winter to come. Turns out it was the right choice. The North Face gloves are touch-screen compatible and have held up much better than their preceding wool alternatives (which always developed holes in the first season of wear.) A.P.C. is one of those brands I've slobbered through the windows at on my walks through the West Village, so I'm excited for the opportunity to test-run one of their pieces without taking out a small loan.

Frequency: Seasonally-speaking, daily for the gloves and every so often for the sweater -- I'll admit it's is a bit unimaginative for my everyday taste.
Would Buy Again: Yes to both -- The glove for practicality. The sweater for pride.

Chambray Shirtdress • Old Navy 


While this dress is nothing to write home about, it has served me well this year as a steadfast go-to on those "what-the-heck-do-I-wear-today" days. Since my nannying came to an end, it's been worn less regularly, but it's been fun figuring out new ways to mix it for weekend interest.

Frequency: Since it's seasonally fluid, this dress stays in rotation for most of the year. So while I gravitate toward it less regularly than other items, it's still gotten a fair amount of wear.
Would Buy Again: If I ever again found myself in need of casual basics, then yes. 

Boho Babydoll Dress • Free People (secondhand)


Funny story about this dress... I almost didn't buy it for fear of it parading too far into precious hippie territory. After convincing myself it might well serve to rectify my dashed dreams of being Clara in The Nutcracker, I marched to the register -- and on the way my darling dress collided with a blue-ink Bic monster sticking out of someone's purse. Devastated, I explained what happened to the clerk, who was kind enough to knock a few dollars off for the accident. After a MacGyvered blot test at the register with some Purel and a napkin from my purse, I felt confident I could doctor her back to perfection at home. I'm glad I took the chance; the stain is nonexistent now, and I love every minute I spend in this peachy beauty.

Frequency: Seldom, but that's forgivable for a statement piece.
Would Buy Again: Pen stain and all.

Pleated Trapeze Dress • Rachel Roy (secondhand)


This picture was taken for croquis reference, so please excuse my bored-to-death face. I've been eagerly waiting the return of this dress, as it's really a spring/summer piece. Not a shape I would typically gravitate toward, but the collar detailing and little pleats at the bottom make it irresistibly cute to wear. Plus, hidden pockets -- always a plus.

Frequency: Weekly, once it's in my work rotation.
Would Buy Again: Yep! This was a thrift score.

Silk Bell-Sleeve Mini Dress • Elizabeth & James (secondhand)

Black Sheer Tights • Hanes


Rarely are my monthly inspirations so convivially rewarded by the secondhand shopping gods, but this dress instantly answered my October dreams of a Morticia Addams wardrobe vibe. You might almost suspect there was magic afoot... 

Frequency: Once it was in my work wardrobe rotation, this probably saw a good 5-6 wears last season.
Would Buy Again: Um, yeah, have you seen those sleeves?

Peg-Leg Trousers • Wilfred (secondhand)


In the Closet Olympics of 2017, these pants would take home the gold. For their versatility, comfort, silhouette, and fit, they have been my favorite purchase of the year. The feel like pajamas, but they lend an air of dignity to just about every shirt I tuck into them -- be it a silky blouse or grungy tee. Granted, as this picture evidences, I'll quickly run that dignity right into the ground.

Frequency: As many times as I can get away with before people raise eyebrows at work.
Would Buy Again: I'll take three, please.

Mary-Jane Pumps • Eurosoft 


For a heel, I've been impressed how comfortable this shoe is. I can spend a full dinner shift walking around in these pumps and only feel minor soreness at the end of the night. There's no blister-bound rubbing or uncomfortable squeezing. It's like walking around tip-toe in a particularly comfortable flat. (Something tells me the secret is in the strap...) They are my work godsend. 

Frequency: Weekly.
Would Buy Again: Yes.

+REPAIRED: Chelsea Booties • Guess  //  Snowboots • Sorel (both cobbled at Yakub Shoe Repair)


A couple bonus items... I acquired both of these boots prior to 2017. However, cobbling them still amounted to dollars spent (unlike gifts and swap items, which aren't included in this review.) If you live in NYC, I can't recommend Yakub's enough. They offered me a really good deal for these heel fixes, were clear about costs from the get-go, and made the repairs before my next workday. That's more than I can say for Sorel themselves who held my boots hostage for almost three weeks last January (while there was plenty of snow on the ground, mind you) only to inform me that their warranty wouldn't cover the repair. I paid $15 in shipping and carefully cleaned and packed them in a priority mail box; they sent them back to me in a plastic bag. Thanks, Columbia.
 


▻Well, that's it from me! Now, return to those questions above and consider your own purchases. You may find that reviewing your belongings like this gives you a new sense of appreciation for the job they perform. You might even find you can live without that next "want" item -- or discover something else that could serve a better purpose! 

If there's one thing I've learned about personal style this past year, it's this: It's not about finding a perfect number of pieces; it's about bringing mindfulness to those daily interactions -- the shopping, the dressing, the laundering, the living -- which will guide us toward the right wardrobe choices for us.

xxxo


11.30.2017

13 Outfits for November 2017

Seasons Greetings, yall!

With November winding to a close today, it's time to reflect on my lastest sampler wardrobe. November has always been one of my favorite months. There's Thanksgiving to look forward to and, naturally, a lead-in to the rest of the holiday season directly after that. My childlike wonder for this time of year never seems to fade, and you can probably guess which member of our household was guilty of cuing up Christmas tunes and vats of homemade hot chocolate before her Halloween decorations even came down... oops, did I give myself away? ;)

For my wardrobe this month, I held onto a few of my favorite transition pieces -- the hi-lo maxi dress featured at the top of the graphic, the chambray shirtdress, and most of my work basics for hosting. I was also excited to welcome some newbies to the closet. Adding to my growing collection of secondhand silk scores, I've been loving this versatile green blouse, pictured below with my drop pearls. (I called it "olive" below, but it's really more of an evergreen hue which has my soul aching for PNW pine trees!) Two new cardigans found their way into my life as well: the elegant little gray one with its adorable ballerina-esque tie front, and this amazing, deliciously-chunky cable knit number. Both items were purloined on their way to the trash, so I've started referring to them like other normal people refer to their dogs and cats: "Oh, thank you - she's a rescue."

Remember that thrift stores are wonderful to both shop and donate to this time of year. One person's cast offs could become your new favorite outfit, and giving quality items which you no longer find useful yourself might make a less fortunate someone's holiday a whole lot brighter.

For my own part, 2017 had me needing the distraction of Christmas about five months early, so I'm breathing sighs of relief that the time has finally come to relax, count my blessings, and look toward action for the year ahead.