Au Revoir, 2014

This was one delightful year for me. Lots of time for reflection and self-discovery, some new challenges faced and mastered, many lessons learned and pondered over... Now I'm here in Oregon, relaxing with my boyfriend's family and looking back over the year as I clear out old pictures. I've archived some favorites below, for auld lang syne!

Happy 2015, everybody!


F2014 16: Cubicle Christmas

F14 - 18 (Cubicle Christmas)

If you work any sort of office job, this is probably the time of year when you start to go a little stir-crazy. Half the world is on holiday*, meaning one of two things:

-No one requires your services; you have next to no client-related responsibilities, and the work hours craaaaawwwwl by.
-EVERYONE requires your services; the phone rings off the hook all day, and you're ready for happy hour long before it's 5:00 anywhere.

The best you can do in either scenario is act like Don Draper and work it out with style. I suggest a well-structured blazer and trim, tailored pants. You'll want a comfortable undershirt, whether you're slumping or sweating, so nix the blouse today and opt for something simple. For a bit of festivity, add some plaid, or swipe on a coat of metallic nail polish. Or better yet, do both. You're going to need something to make merry about.

Eggnog, anyone?

*This being the lucky half whose holiday vacation starts the weekend before Christmas and somehow(how? HOW?!) extends through New Year's Day.


F2014: The Holiday Office Party

Ah, ye olde Holiday Office Party...

The stigmas which so often accompany this annual event (lawn-mower accidents, anyone?) are hardly worth mentioning, but whether you're anticipating an eggnog-driven revelry of questionable copy-machine antics or a basic evening of small-talk-endeavors which lend new meaning to "Silent Night," you're going to want to dress appropriately. You still have to face these folks in the new year, after all.

F14 - Holiday Office Party Outfits

(Disclaimer: As a 20-something who works for a small business, I'd consider any of the above capsule outfits perfect for a more casual holiday get-together. However, I can't speak to the etiquette of the corporate world. If your office has a defined dress code, I'd recommend sticking to those guidelines, even for after-hour occasions.)

Here are some general guidelines when approaching office party attire:

-When it comes to hemlines, follow the school rule. Remember that old dress code directive? That hemlines should rest no higher than the middle finger when your arms are at your side? As troublesome as I usually find dress codes to be, this is a good one to stand by if you (or your boss) is concerned with modesty. When in doubt, add a sheer pair of tights or opt for more leg coverage with a pair of knee boots.

-Focus sex appeal to one area. Appearing sexy might be the last thing you care about at an office party. If that's the case, good on you! Rock on with your bad self! For those who are interested in seizing the opportunity to show a little skin, however, do just that: show -- a little. The simplest way to do this is by choosing one area of your body to feature. If you love showing off your legs, slip on some strappy heels and nix the tights, but contrast with long sleeves or a higher neckline. If shoulders or decolletage is more your thing, consider pairing your sexy shirt with tailored trousers or a knee-length skirt.

-Nix the work clothes. Unless this event is happening during regular office hours, take the time to dress your best. You don't have to be overly formal, nor do you have to rework your usual fashion personality; just give yourself -- and your coworkers -- the opportunity to admire another side of you. Maybe it means pulling out that flashy blazer in your favorite color, maybe it's wearing a funny Hannukah tie. Maybe it just means you don a button-down shirt instead of your company polo. Whatever suits your style, this is the time to be a little more festive -- and therefore a little more you!

Happy Holidays!


F2014 15: Urban Elegance

Urban Elegance

Inspiration Image Source

This inspiration photo immediately caught my eye; it's such a great representation of my ultimate style. The pleated drapey skirt and button-down blouse are classically chic, while the tough leather jacket, buckle boots, and aviators give the outfit an edge. Classic-with-an-edge is just my cup of tea!

The chambray blouse, leather jacket, and brown heeled booties were pulled directly from the source, but I wasn't sure how to capture the look of the maxi skirt. Since the weather called for some slightly warmer additions, I incorporated the original army green color (which I just love against this shade of blue) in my winter accessories. Since my other two skirt options are on the short side, I used these cognac skinnies to mimic the long stretch of color on the bottom-half.

Swapping the skirt for pants took some of the elegance out of the outfit, so I upped the class factor with a dainty leather crossbody, Ray-Ban wayfarers, and stacked pearl bracelets. The effect was polished, yet comfy. Perhaps my favorite creation thus far!


F2014 14: Equestrian Cool

F14 - 14 (Equestrian Cool)

Inspiration Image Source

Back in November, when Annex Theater's Horse Girls was in full-swing, I was really feeling the equestrian style. Although it’s been nearly a month since the show’s closing, I’m still running with the vibe. There’s something so effortlessly chic about this look – and yet, when you think about it, it’s really only (fancy) sportswear!

This is a simple one to create. If you’re living in this decade, chances are you’ve probably already paired a blazer with skinny jeans before. You may even have made the tremendous discovery that knee boots pair incredibly well with these two items. (You Fashion Einstein, you!) All that’s left is to raise the neckline. Try a turtleneck, scarf, or high-collared blouse in a contrasting shade to your blazer. It will emphasize the tailored lines of the coat and ensure your shape isn’t lost in the mix!

Boots will, of course, finish off the outfit. And don’t forget your favorite bag! The representation you see above is Burberry, which means its costs your entire paycheck. In reality, I found my roomy, rectangular beauty for $1.00 (ONE DOLLAR!!) at a community rummage sale. In two years of everyday use, it hasn’t failed me once.
Be yourself and ride on.


F2014 13: Unexpected Pairings

F14 - 13 (Graveyard Secretary)

Inspiration Image Source

In living with a capsule wardrobe these past six months, I've discovered a strange paradox: creating unique outfits has only become easier. You would think that having less items would make wardrobe variety difficult, but in reality the decision process has become simpler with less choice.*

Last winter, before my wardrobe was streamlined, I probably would've scrolled right past this inspiration photo. It wouldn't have struck me as something I was capable of creating. But now that I'm in-tune to the color palette, silhouettes, and the individual pieces in my closet, an outfit like this doesn't seem nearly as challenging.

Silhouette: The photo shows a dress layered under a turtleneck, but I know the same bulky-on-top, form-fitting-on-bottom look can be achieved with my oversized cable knit sweater and pencil skirt.

Color: Choosing the items above changed the main palette -- eggplant and beige instead of black and olive. Another option would have been maintaining the color scheme with my black v-neck sweater and olive down vest, but in this case I was more interested in silhouette than color. Since my color palette was still on the cool side, I stuck with silver jewelry, rather than gold or bronze.

Individual Pieces: The items that struck me in this photo were the knee boots and long pendant necklace. "I have those things!" I thought excitedly. If you find yourself recognizing minor details like these, start small and work outward. Ask yourself what items might work with these accessories. Pinpoint why they were used in the original outfit. In this case, the long necklace lengthens out a bulky torso, while the knee boots provide balance to the lower half of the body. (Not to mention warmth!)

When in doubt, approach inspiration via one of these categories. Chances are, you'll find an outfit you never would have thought of otherwise!

*If you're interested in learning more about this strange reality, check out Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice.


F2014 12: Spicy Date

F14 - 12 (Spicy Date)

Inspiration Image Source

I wore this little getup last month for an anniversary dinner with my studmuffin. It paired oh-so-nicely with our champagne!  

If you've got a hot date of your own on the calendar tonight, why not make the most of autumn's wonderful spicy hues? Every year, winter brings icy metallics, cool jewel tones, and blues back on the scene, and we must bid our reds and golds farewell til' next year. Fall never seems to last quite long enough, does it? (I still blame the lack of snow... It's really the only thing that gives winter an edge over the other seasons.)

To keep this look on the subtle side, stick to two or three spice tones and mix them with warm neutrals, like the chocolate booties and beige trench shown above. I chose cumin (scarf), paprika (dress), and sumac (gloves), but you might also incorporate sage, saffron, tumeric, cinnamon, ginger... Just open your spice cabinet and get inspired!


F2014 11: Dress Over Blouse

F14 - 11 (First Snow)

Inspiration Image Source

Well, it's back to rainy days here in Seattle, and I'm thinking wistfully back to the Saturday after Thanksgiving -- this year's first snowfall! While it's nice not having to worry about ice on the street or wearing socks to bed, there's nothing like seeing that little snowflake in my weather app. It just doesn't seem like Christmas without snow...

That said, you don't need the white stuff to rock this outfit. In fact, wearing it on a temperate day will ensure it doesn't hide beneath your coat all day long!

In the past, I've been wary about layering blouses and dresses. For one thing, I associate this look with Catholic schoolgirls, which I'm probably beyond the age of imitating with dignity. Secondly, I just can't stand seeing wrinkles under outer fabrics. Like the VLP, that sort of thing can really spoil an outfit.

Fortunately, the printed dress I chose for this capsule wardrobe is made of a thick material -- perfect for concealing pesky fabric folds and buttons! (It also keeps me wonderfully warm, for a dress.) To make this outfit more seasonal, I added some layered tights & knee socks under my favorite boots, a funky Victorian-looking brooch, and a belt with a smart little bow. BAM! I'm a Christmas present.


F2014 10: Black, White, and Not Boring

F14 - 10 (Monotone)

Inspiration Image Source

Even with a streamlined wardrobe, the question of "what to wear today?" still arises. Part of me hopes that's because I'm still curating and that one day I'll be able to reach into my closet, pull something out, and think "Voila!" Perfect outfit. Another part of me knows that's not likely to happen for me ever. (That's also the part of me that changes her favorite color week to week...)

But wait a minute -- this outfit HAS no color! Yep, welcome to black and white and gray all over. While the monochrome fashion hack isn't exactly anything new, I've only just learned how to make it work for the side of me that craves color, pizazz, and general variety (in other words, the alive side of me.)

Here's the secret: texture. It doesn't have to be something as blatant as corduroy on tweed on velvet,
but mix things up a bit with a patterned sweater, statement jewelry, and sleek boots. Mix and match something you may not have tried before. It's hard to go wrong with black and white!

Happy Weekend, Everybody!


Christmas Playlist 2014

Another year, another Christmas playlist.

I'm a total sucker for holiday music. As soon as the continuous-Christmas radio starts, it's like having a replenishing pile of brownies before me. I'll try to avoid them, attempt to reason with myself ("I'll tire of them if I overindulge too early...") and then sooner or later I'm clicking the station for "just one more" !

If you feel like you've heard it all, give the playlist below a listen, or check out last year's version. Perhaps you'll fall in love with a new tune. Don't forget to share your own holiday favorites in the comment section below!