Dryad Daydream

 //...she hath a smile of light
and an eye of hazel bright
beaming love and pleasure //
-Charles Mackay 

Something about the waterside havens along Lake Washington Boulevard feel like a magical forest to me. When I was in fourth grade, I remember starting a story that was equal parts Alice in Wonderland and The Magician's Nephew, with maybe a dash of Tuck Everlasting thrown in. It was about a girl who found a trap door in the middle of her backyard, which lead to a magical garden. When I saw the photos Evelyn took of me, it was like being transported into my own nine-year-old fantasy.

Every once in a while, I come across an article of clothing on a clearance rack which is so forlorn and so unique, I feel a sudden need to adopt it. Though I know full well it isn't the only one of its kind, something about this light-knit sweater hanging alone in all its crochet glory got the maternal juices flowing, and I've been babying it ever since. And boy does it need to be babied! With its light weave and soft threading, it's got a one-way ticket for Snagsville. She's high-maintenance, but I love her.

The same goes for these shorts: light-colored bottoms require constant vigilance to keep them looking clean throughout their wearing. I finally chose to invest in this pair because I loved how their lack of color became a statement when paired against deeper tones. While pure white doesn't suit everybody (I recommend looking at the variety of creams and off-whites out there, to find your ideal match*), using it as an accent piece, particularly away from the face, can be less overwhelming to a pale complexion. 

Next: more boots with shorts. We seem to have crafted an unintentional theme here. For me, a pair of knee boots work to provide extra coverage below bottoms as short as these. This is great practice for dressier occasions as well: focus on flashing skin in only one area: cleavage, arms/shoulders, legs, or back. Obviously you can be more liberal in evening situations, but this is a good rule of thumb if you're ever looking for the line between trashy and sexy.

How much do you love Evelyn's photography? Every ounce of beauty here is all thanks to her lighting, framing, and careful eye. You can see more of her work here.

   *I've also heard that your personal best "white" shade will match the "whites" of your eyes! Food for thought.

Sweater: Bobeau
Camisole: Forever 21
Shorts: Gap
Boots: thrifted  
Necklace: Portobello Road, London


Girl Sailor

 // You are not some saint who's above
Giving someone a stroll through the flowers
You've got so much more to dream of // 
-The Shins

A couple of weeks ago I was afforded the fabulous opportunity to shoot photos with the well-dressed lady you see above. Evelyn is easily one of the most talented filmmakers I've had the pleasure of working with, and there's no doubt in my mind she's destined for great things. We haven't collaborated in a while, so I was very excited to reconnect for this outfit shoot. Not only did she share some super helpful Photoshop tips with me, she also agreed to step out from behind the camera so I could feature her here on Inspirsession.

One thing I’ve always dug about Evelyn’s style is her ability to make even the most simple basics look unexpectedly glamorous. Her clothes are ever functional, but they still project a stylishness that is all her own. In the outfit above, details like a classic belt, unique rings, and peekaboo socks bring that air of chic to an otherwise simple look. And how great is her crown necklace?? I wish I’d gotten a more detailed shot of that beauty...

Evelyn's pairings also strike a perfect compromise between summer and fall. The warmer season's casual denim, neutrals, and muted tones mix surprisingly well with the more autumnal long sleeves, boots, and warm socks. Its overall effect is a light coziness -- ideal for the transition weather soon to grace the Pacific Northwest. I could see wearing something like this to an end-of-summer BBQ or on an evening sailboat ride. 

Stay tuned for Evelyn’s own photos and more summer-fall transition ideas in the coming week!


Adventures in Jodhpurs


I purchased these jodhpur capris on a whim during my freshman year of college, the very first time I visited Forever 21. I'm always a sucker for unique styles, and the two friends who accompanied me on this shopping venture assured me they were the weirdest pants they'd ever seen. Every summer, as I prepare to store them for the fall/winter months, I wonder if it's time to let them go... and something always compels me to keep them around. Needless to say I was overjoyed to find "harem pants" on the trend report for summer 2014!

While these are still quite a departure from the currently popular more pajama-like style, they maintain some classic, timeless features. The high waist and loose draping recall the elegant 1940s trouser popularized by Katharine Hepburn. The olive hue, belt detailing, and pleats come straight out of safari culture giving them an edge of masculinity.

Because these pants add so much volume to my bottom half (where I don't really need it...), I've paired them with a tight-fitted crop top to balance things out. Like their '40s cousins, jodhpurs also look great with a light-weight, tailored blouse. Whatever you do, make sure your top tucks in at the waist -- else you risk looking like a bit of a balloon! For shoes, you also want to aim for volume and a fair amount of height, if you're short like me. I chose a chunky wedge sandal (not pictured) that further complemented the safari theme.

However I style them, these pants always make me feel like adventure is right around the corner!

Crop Tee: Express 
Jodhpurs: Forever 21 similar 
Wedges: Born 
Scarf: Forever 21
Bracelet: Gap 


Children of the Sun

Sunset photos are always so gorgeous to behold it kind of makes my heart ache.

Katie and I ran outside to snap these shots right as the final rays broke across the beach. It looked like the whole horizon was on fire. We were in the middle of an active game of charades (hence the loungewear), so I guess we were still channeling some high energy from that. Nevertheless, it's pretty clear who the real child is in this situation; Katie manages to maintain her standard air of grace and elegance while I'm stampeding around like a baby gazelle who's just discovered its hind legs. They say the sun brings out the best in you!*

I hadn't intended to color-coordinate, but I think my "outfit" accurately parallels the light & shadow play going on here. Only recently did I introduce this sunflower-colored tank into my wardrobe, yet it's proven to be one of my favorite summer capsule pieces. If you're wary of yellow shades, gold is a great place to start! A muted shade will practically function as a neutral (like brown), and it can be dressed up with just about any kind of metal jewelry.

More beach photos from the Oregon Road Trip to come later this week!

Tank: H&M 
Yoga Pants: Active Basic
Hoodie: Victoria's Secret

*They don't say that. I just made it up.


Life Lessons from Robin Williams

Much as I love to wax poetic about bangles, vintage skirts, and seasonal palettes, every once in a while a wave breaks over pop culture that's just too huge not to solicit some kind of reality check. When I sat down to plan yesterday's post, the news of Robin William's death still hung close to my chest, pressing smoglike against my heart and lungs. I knew a reflection would be a necessary component of my personal mourning process, and I also knew I'd need day's distance before beginning it.

This man, this creature of genius, exploded into my life as he had for many others of my generation: as a bright blue, scene-stealing, whirlwind of a genie. You could sense his magic not just in the lamp he burst from or his breakneck shape-shifting powers, but also in the multidimensional quality of his voice: delight one moment, then manic lunacy, always decelerating for a moment of genuine tenderness. I remember asking my parents what was "so funny" about his lines and impressions, wanting to be a part of the inside joke this character shared with his more mature audience members. My dad would just shake his head, chuckle, and say: "Robin Williams."

To say Robin Williams was funny would be an incredible understatement. Not simply because there are far better words to encompass his comic capacity (hysterical, side-splitting, exceptional, genius... to name a few), but because it overlooks the other remarkable qualities he brought to his acting. My mind flutters to a final scene in Jumanji, when I witnessed firsthand what fear looks like, and what triumphs may reward us when we face that fear head-on. In my countless viewings of Mrs. Doubtfire, I recognized (and began to understand) the heartbreak of my friends who were dealing with divorce. Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man awakened a bittersweet understanding of loss and death at the apex of my childhood. Even in those early days, I recall being shaken by the sincerity of emotion Williams brought to the screen. My fascination with this talent only increased as the movies I watched became weightier: Dead Poet's Society, Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come. It was comforting to have him there, seeing me through the difficult subject matters of war, classism, abuse, and, yes, suicide.


In the wake of his death, I know a lot of folks are asking the usual questions -- How could such a successful person want to end their life? What thoughts were going through his head as he made the choice? Was he aware of how beloved he was? -- as well as more important ones -- How does this reflect our country's disregard for mental health? What can we do to lessen the chances of this happening in the future? Myself, I keep wondering why. Not why he did it, but why I feel it so deeply. Why I've spent the last 30-some hours not merely considering but truly mourning this man I knew only as a character on a screen. What am I to learn from it? Where do I go next?

Maybe these are selfish inquiries. Maybe it's enough to say the man was a fellow human and worthy of being mourned for that reason alone. But I feel something bigger in this. I'm not sure what it is, but within it lies the reason for my own reluctance to get out of bed this morning, the unexpected & uncontrollable wave of tears that interrupted my morning commute, and this enduring, compulsive need to digest everything the internet has to offer in the way of memorial. At the end of the day, this is a loss of innocence for my generation. It's a reminder to acknowledge all of our emotions, impulses, and perspectives -- not just the ones that are acceptable or logical or politically correct. Williams was a man who shook up the norm. He let his wit off the leash. He offered truth to a world that so often relies on artifice for entertainment. With a lionhearted vulnerability, he allowed himself to feel deeply, and in doing so, he revealed both the exquisite beauty and the terrible tragedy that such an allowance enables.

I'm not yet sure what to take from this quietus; I'm still looking for answers. But I have a feeling it concerns all of those ideas Robin Williams turned me on to a long time ago. Love and generosity... bravery and standing up for what's right... reaching out to others and finding strength in our communities, not merely ourselves...

And laughter. Above all things, laughter.


Oregon Road Trip: Rachel-Style

Since my love of organizing is surpassed only by my love of travel, I actually look forward to packing for vacations. Sometimes I even start planning what I'm going to wear weeks ahead of time. While such forward-thinking may not always be necessary, if you're aiming to pack light (or if you're working with a capsule wardrobe), it can be useful to give yourself some extra time at the drawing board.

Several factors come into play when I pack. At the top of this list are the practical points: where am I going and what am I doing there? There's no use packing cocktail dresses for a camping trip or hiking boots for an urban getaway. That said, don't be afraid to allow for some spontaneity. Let's say the majority of your vacation warrants casual day-wear, but there's also the chance of a fancy night out. Rather than creating a separate uniform for this possibility, bring one or two pieces to dress up your daytime outfits. In "Beach Stroll," for instance, I could swap out the leather jacket & tank for a sequin statement top. Or I could change the funky jodhpurs in "I Love Portland" to a high-waist pencil skirt for a sexier evening look.

Without further adieu, here are my outfit choices for this weekend's road trip through Oregon. If you missed yesterday's post, be sure to check out Katie's wardrobe plans as well! She was the brains behind this fabulous outfit presentation method.

"Road Trip"
Shoes: Dansko Tank: H&M Sweater: Bobeau Shorts: Gap
Crossbody: Fossil

"Beach Stroll"
Leather Jacket: Big Chill Vintage
Scarf: Forever 21
Sneakers: Josef Seibel

"I Love Portland"
Crop Tee: Express
Hat: Forever 21
Jodhpurs: Forever 21
Wedges: Born
Zip Clutch: Lucky Brand


Oregon Road Trip: Katie-Style

A little over three years ago, I took a very memorable road trip with two of my dearest college friends along the coast of Oregon.

Today, one of those friends joins me -- both in person and here on the blog! -- to commemorate that adventure in a reunion journey. This weekend Katie & I are southward-bound for a gigglish girltime getaway, and I can't wait to hit the road!

Katie is a spectacular writer & self-made graphic designer, and I'm constantly in envy of her incredible eye for detail. This lady has always had a knack for arranging things "just so" -- and, as you can gather from the pictures below, this talent certainly extends to her wardrobe. When she shared these outfit arrangements with me, I couldn't wait to feature them here on the blog. It's a great example of how to find inspiration in everything, then make it your own.

Check out Katie's wardrobe plans for our cross-state adventure, and vote for your favorite outfit in the comments! Personally, I'm excited to see whither these midnight wanderings of hers may tend...

Check out more of Katie's creations: www.cocoaandcayenne.wordpress.com


Off We Go

Somewhere in between high school and college, I saw Girl, Interrupted for the first time. I was so enthralled by Angelina Jolie's performance as Lisa, I went right out and bought myself the first Air Force tee I could find at Value Village in commemoration.

For several years now, shirts like this one have been filtering their way to the bottom of my exercise drawer, frequently passed over for more practical tank tops and sports bras. When I unearthed Mr. Air Force during a clean-out earlier this summer, I knew he was long overdue for a makeover. Following the rampant over-sized crop-top trend, I tore the tee to about half its length, then widened the neckline for a more flattering shape.

This look is quite a bit more casual than I prefer -- even for an everyday outfit. I probably wouldn't wear it beyond the beach, or maybe on a road trip (and obviously in a psychiatric hospital situation, should one ever arise.) If I planned to wear it more often, I'd tidy up the shirt's neckline and maybe hem the sleeves up a bit.

And what a charming surprise to find this pair of cut-offs, still in my possession OVER TEN YEARS after their original purchase date. Yes, kids, I owned these jeans in middle school. I still remember finding them at Pac Sun while back-to-school shopping in the early days of *stretch* denim. Come to think of it, that stretch is probably why these babies still fit!

The flame red cross-body purse was a random $5 find at H&M a few years ago. I never expected it would become one of my favorite statement pieces! If you're wary of a color (as I sometimes am about bright red), using inexpensive accessories like this is a great way to test it across your wardrobe. Who knows? You just might find a new favorite shade.

Tee: thrifted
Shorts: Pac Sun (old, very old.)
Purse: H&M
Nail Polish: Sinful in "Snowing Gold"