Friday, June 29, 2012

NEW Challenge - Blue Summer Sweater

This Jones New York purchase dates back to last fall, a really good sale price and a 15% off coupon at Lord and Taylor. A white tank and white jeans and white Riekers complete the stylin' nurse look. It was over 100 degrees the day I wore this, and I'm glad I only had to go outside for a few minutes. Even our hefty building AC couldn't compensate for the heat, humidity and the dozens of extra people seeking relief in the library.

Hanging in my closet for nine months without a wearing; that is the price of shopping on sale. The sweater is basically see-through, and looks very odd over a print, which limits its wearability, but it looked so good with white that I didn't mind it being a specialist. It would fly with ivory, and possibly black, too.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

NEW Challenge - The Maxi Skirt

Here 'tis. I bought this over the weekend at Lord and Taylor, after trying it on a few weeks prior. It had gone on sale, I had the remainder of a gift card, the stars were in alignment, the time was right.

Also pictured, my faithful black linen jacket, "sepia" washed silk tank, and comfy Clarks sandals. Tonight is the board meeting, so I need to look professional (but not too powerful) and be comfortable. The skirt is chiffon with a black underlayer; perfectly discreet, though I have already caught it under the wheels of my desk chair. That might be a headache at the meeting.

Skirt closeup

The shiny blur in the full photo is this enamel brooch, which I KNOW came from Alaska, and I THINK was a gift from my ex's sister. That was decades ago, people. It's weighty.

Nearly palm-sized!
P.S. The skirt WAS a good choice for the meeting. I didn't realize how much of me was visible on camera!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lilac and Periwinkle and Silver

The title sounds like I'm awa' with the fairies. Today's outfit is a melange of older kibbles and bits.

Seriously, Ben takes so much better pictures than I do. I'm wearing a silk Kate Hill jacket, a crinkled cotton eBay skirt, silver Talbot's shoes and a cotton top that was a sister-in-law gift (as was the bracelet). The top has a very sweet bitty print in lilac, purple, aqua and lime - goes with everything. The skirt is lovely to walk in; two light swishy layers.

Closeup with bad color!
The shoes are favorites, though starting to look a little tatty. I got them at the Talbot's outlet store in Park Ridge for about $15 and I wear them a lot in the summer. Though now that my feet have rebelled, these little flats are an indulgence, not daily fare.

But they're so SHINY!

I'm always on the lookout for metallic shoes. I used to have a pair of Van Eli's in gold with a Louis heel. They were ridiculous and yet went with everything. The real problem with metallic shoes is that they cannot be polished, so they age quickly.

So here I am, wearing some older items while I have the following, UNWORN pieces in my closet:

Navy lace Talbot's pencil skirt (Talbot's)
Emerald green jersey shift dress (Ann Taylor)
Navy bi-stretch bootleg trousers (Talbot's)
Ivory lady jacket (Talbot's)
Crinkled print maxi skirt (L & T)
Navy pique three button jacket (Talbot's)
Yellow and black cotton Nine West top (eBay)
Animal print stretch Dana Buchman dress (eBay)

There's definitely a navy theme, eh? Although these are all the unworn pieces I can bring to mind right now, there may well be more. And it's not that I don't like these items or am experiencing buyer's remorse. None of them are fur-lined or otherwise inappropriate for the season. I just haven't made the effort to get them out of the closet and style them.

Interestingly, these were mostly things I bought because "I needed them." I needed a navy jacket which was three season, it would go with everything. I had no navy slacks and kept wishing I had a pair. I thought the ivory jacket would fancy up a few skirts  and dresses. (In it's defense, it is a little too big on me and was final sale. I've been debating the merits of having it tailored.) I needed more short sleeve summer tops, and I just plain coveted a maxi skirt, for when you want to - but can't - wear pants.

My next challenge appears to have been spelled out for me, non?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jacket and a Skirt, Rinse and Repeat

Bored now.

Brown linen Talbot's jacket, chiffon Loft sleeveless top, ivory linen Talbot's skirt, red born flats. I do love that skirt. I bought it at the tail end of October last year, and this is the first time I've worn it. It has horizontal raw edge tucks, which are interesting in their own right, and also conceal the inevitable wrinkles. (Ben took this picture, which is why both my head AND my feet are visible. The limits of where you can put a tripod in my kitchen are apparent.)

Tuesday: the exciting PANTS variation!

Yellow Talbot's cardigan, white L & T tee, white RL jeans, cognac Chiang sandals, Alexander McQueen knockoff scarf. I adore the scarf; not just leopard spots but little skulls!

$29 via Shopstyleinch on eBay!
Wednesday: I didn't even bother photographing that ensemble. Brown denim jacket, green and brown floral skirt, green drape-neck tank, brown sandals. Perfectly presentable, just not very interesting.

Black linen Talbot's jacket, polka dot RL top, orange silk Talbot's skirt, black suede kitten heels.  This outfit is a spin on this orange and navy combo, which in turn is an interpretation/happy coincidence of this magazine cover:

Relatively few of my choices are influenced by library literature. Nonetheless, someday I will achieve this look, circa 1972:




Monday, June 18, 2012

A Very Good Time in Brew City

I took Friday off to visit Milwaukee and the Lakefront Festival of Arts with Ben. This is a semi-annual trip for us, although it has been at least three years since we've made it up there. Occasionally I've bought a piece of art; this year I just felt delighted to make the trip and eat a nice lunch and pay admission without nervously checking my bank balance! I wore my yellow Kohl's dress and my sensible new Clark's.

Milwaukee is a really great place for a day trip. An easy hour and a half drive, inexpensive parking, friendly folks, great food, and one of my favorite museums:
Who wouldn't love the breathtaking Brise Soleil by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava? Some years we have stayed until evening to watch it close. This year the Milwaukee Art Museum had (has) an exhibit of French fin de siecle posters, by Toulouse-Lautrec and others.

The art festival is pretty remarkable, too. The work is very high quality (not "local" in any negative sense), but also quite reasonable - this isn't the Bienniale. I was very tickled to talk to Jill Bedford, from whom I bought a large photograph almost eight years ago. That piece has given me so much satisfaction over the years. In Skokie it was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep at night (and the first thing I saw waking up) and now it hangs by my desk so I see it every day. I wanted to tell her that.  :-) She shows all over the Midwest, and in fact will be in Evanston this coming weekend at the Fountain Square Art Festival.

We saw beautiful photography and digital work, painting, metal, ceramics, etc. I stay out of the jewelry booths entirely because I can't afford anything there. I'd rather have something on my wall anyway. I hope that next year I will be able to buy something.

Or maybe I'll come back and buy a pair of shoes! Because Milwaukee is also the home of Shoo, chock full of Fluevog, Camper, Miz Mooz, Bed-Stu and more fabulous shoe friends.
Those are the cutest black and white pumps from All Black to the right. I had to have Ben hold my credit card.

There is also the Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design, right up the street from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, though sadly closed when we were there. Their windows had quips like "Without advertising, "what's in your wallet" is just an awkward question". I am a little suspicious that the museum may be more than temporarily closed, as the website appears kind of broken too, but I sincerely hope not.

We had lunch in the Historic Third Ward, which has a pretty riverwalk and a lot of appealing boutiques, businesses and restaurants. And of course, everywhere you go the service is so pleasant and so friendly. Much like these fellas, playing outside the Museum:
The Viking on the right is playing a saw.
They were AWESOME.

There's also a very cool new-to-me Public Market about five blocks from everything. We stopped there on our way back to our car, scoped out the bakery and chocolatier (Ben shopped here), bought a couple bottles of wine, picked up a few things for the pantry at The Spice House, chose delicious carryout from Aladdin's, and then jumped in our car.

Why do we only go once a year? Oh yes, because it was a $150 day and I didn't even get any SHOES.  But what a fun, fun day it was.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pink and Black

Hello again! I've been off having fun in the city, at the movies, and shopping. Occasionally at the same time! My city buddy is also an excellent shopping buddy: "You must buy that right now." You'll be seeing what she was referring to very soon, my friends.

Friday I wore a skirt and t-shirt and flats to walk all over Chicago on a hot day. By the time I came home my feet had mutinied." Get some supportive sandals OR ELSE!" Now, supportive sandals is not my favorite phrase. When I see that stylish 70-year-old woman at Nordstrom, that's what she's wearing. I don't want to pay that much for ugly shoes.

But I didn't want to be abandoned on a desert island like William Bligh by my feet, either, so I went to William's in Evanston on Sunday and tried on every pair of supportive sandals that I could stand. I bought these:
Clarks Un. Port (the dot is silent).
They are a nice pewter color and not TOO orthopedic looking. I guess. I wore them back into the city on Monday for a couple of miles of NeoCon, and they passed that audition. Moderate arch support, no rubbing anywhere, very light and pretty good cushioning. Now there's some faint praise.

It makes me think about the influence of aging on what I wear. I've mentioned my middle-aged feet, and I'm inclined this summer to cover my upper arms, both to conceal my many speckles and protect them from more sun damage. I saw a woman in the library that was 25 years older than me, and her outfit was only a slight variation of what I might wear. Her white pants were double-knit, not jeans, her cardigan might have been Jones New York, and her sandals were way too close to mine for comfort, frankly.

So how can I dress to accommodate my aging joints and changing perspective on covering up, without turning myself into a pensioner 20 years too soon? It feels like I got over thinking I'm fat in every picture to worrying that I look like Grandma.

This is what I wore above the shoes.

That's an Athleta skirt, a Boden tank, and a random eBay cardigan (I liked the color). I'm wearing pink and sparkly jewelry:

I have a couple of thoughts on young vs. old:

  1. it isn't about age. The choice is stylish vs. frumpy.
  2. Denim instead of polyester. Short(ish) skirts instead of pants or midi skirts.
  3. Very expensive shoes don't look as orthopedic.
  4. Stop shopping at Macy's.
  5. Dear Lord, don't ever stop coloring your hair again.
  6. Pack away the shawls. The combination of 5 and 6 was particularly deadly.

As always, other voices have said this earlier and better:

Angie at You Look Fab: Identifying the Frump Factor 

In the end, it's like feeling fat; there's always someone out there who will make you feel thin and someone who makes you feel fat. Concentrate on the former. And keep the judging in your head if possible, though that's another blog post, because I am the most judgmental person in the world out on the street.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lime and Tangerine and a Useful Acronym

The day started with a fun skirt and a bright orange tee, which I tried to marry to my military jacket.
It was a Kardashian marriage, sadly. I really like that jacket, but I'm not sure it particularly likes me. Second try:

Better! This Jones New York linen jacket is shorter, lighter and less detailed (tiny, invisible pockets and buttons). I remember seeing this jacket on a mannequin at Field's and thinking, "That jacket is for me." It was like seeing a cute boy at a party, except I didn't go home with it that night; it took a few months to own it.

My shoes look a little clog-y in the picture, but cuter (I hope) from the side and a less top-down view.
Beloved Arturo Chiang sandals.

    M= misleading: factually inaccurate (makes you look wide, short, ill or otherwise not yourself)

    U= ugly: beyond mending or rebinding (this also goes for threadbare, stained, overly shiny, etc.)

    S= superseded by a new edition or by a much better book on the subject (there's a reason you don't own a Members Only jacket, unless it is worn ironically. And even then.)

    T= trivial: of no discernible literary or scientific merit (everyone's list is different, and mine currently includes ankle bracelets, ear cuffs, and flip-flops)

    I= irrelevant to the needs and interests of the library’s community (do you need a ball gown, a bowling shirt, a vintage fur or a scuba suit?)

    E= elsewhere: the material is easily obtainable from another library (this is less applicable; on the other hand, for a long time I borrowed a specific piece of luggage from a friend every few years so I didn't have to buy my own.)

MUSTIE is courtesy of Rebecca Vnuk, who is quoting The CREW method. (

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Red and Cream, with Bonus Financial Reverie

Sheila has all of our engines in neutral, as she pursues her 30 for 30 challenge for June in shades of mushroom, ivory, taupe, black, gray and cream. I pay homage to her today with this:

Talbot's sweater and linen pants, Kohl's zany necklace, fancy red Spring Step sandals:

REVERIE: Every year, around my birthday, I send for my annual free credit report (and the attendant $7.95 credit score). In recent years it has not been in the way of a birthday present, if you get my meaning. But this year, I opened it up and found my score had gone up 75 points! From crappy to marginally OK! (Those might not be the official terms.) Shortly after seeing this, I got the first credit card application that I've gotten in AGES in the mail: I'm credit-worthy. My hope is that next year I'll have gone up another 50 points, though I discovered that there are different "scorecards" for different levels, and I may slide back a bit before I go up again, or not improve at the previous rate. I also did not know that insurance companies consider your credit score when giving you a quote - and many companies won't even give you mortgage insurance if you are under 660.

That being said, I'm still very pleased at seeing a turnaround. I feel near the tipping point, where I will see individual smaller debts disappear, and those payments then applied to other accounts, which then shrink more quickly, until in two years I am debt free. I also have some breathing room now, so I can pay all of my bills and still go out to lunch once in a while, or at least without checking my bank account nervously. The two year goal is barring any major expense (illness, family emergency) of course, but I'm still better situated for that event than I have been in several years.

I wonder if I can do without a car for another two years?   

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not at All Like a Wimbledon Judge

A trip to Shop & Save was in the cards today, so I chose walking shoes and worked from the ground up. These are Rieker's, mostly white with pale blue suede trim. I call them my croquet shoes because I bought them for a croquet tournament that I organized for the library six years ago.
Happy feet.
Rieker's are comfortable, but you have to embrace their weird, wacky style. I went round and round about buying these. "Do I look nursey?", I asked a friend. "Yes, a private nurse to a very wealthy invalid, but definitely a nurse."  I bought them anyway.

I added white RL jeans and a J. Jill floral top. 

The final touch was a pale blue Talbot's jacket. And here, I thought, it gets dicey. There's been some talk in the 'verse about MMFO - Makes Me Feel Old. That item in your closet that, because of its cut or color or style, makes you feel like you are celebrating your own Jubilee. With no royal barge or extra days off.
In my mind, I was adding and subtracting points. Add 10 points for white jeans, minus 10 points for white shoes, plus ten for cool earrings, plus ten because the jacket fits perfectly, minus ten points for being so matchy. The jacket has been on the fence for a while, because this is what I see in my head when I wear it:

Pretty Wimbledon Judge
But when I got to work I was complimented twice on the outfit. I also have an idea to liven this jacket up with a leopard scarf I just acquired. Yay! I get to keep it! I didn't really want to retire it.

And by the way - I ordered the Born boots in black. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bright Dress, Dark Jacket

I love the Kohl's dresses I've found on eBay. Love the stretchy polyester, love the flattering A-line, love the bright colors. The only thing I don't love is the feeling that I'm wearing something A. possibly made by nine-year-olds for ten cents an hour, and B. worn by nine billion American women.

I feel marginally safer with this one, because it was fairly expensive for Kohl's, being Dana Buchman, and also because this hot pink and black print surely would not appeal to all those imaginary gals.
Over it is a Studio 148 jacket that I love for its great fit, but which is a cat hair MAGNET. My Sticky Buddy (tm) came in handy this morning. You wouldn't think sateen would be so clingy.

I have on a bloodstone ring from eBay and a goth-y bracelet from Talbot's. I have a similar necklace, but it seemed a bit much with the leather and silver belt that came with the dress.

The perfect weather lured me out this weekend - to the ZOO! The Lincoln Park Zoo is the greatest place in the city, I think, even better than Millennium Park. I've been going there since I lived in a tiny efficiency in Lincoln Park in 1984. I've gone in all seasons (even caroling to the animals in December!), with Ben at all ages, and then and now by myself. The gardens are as wonderful as the birds and animals. Having a free zoo is a wonderful thing; having a respected, successful, clean, friendly and free zoo is positively a miracle.

This lady (and her sister) were my favorite on Saturday. They've only been in the zoo since February. One was happily shredding a cardboard box and the other was settling down for a nap, also in a cardboard box. Boxes all around!
Eurasian Lynx

Brown and Gold

Still thinking about colors. Today I'm wearing a brown Talbot's jacket, a gold Athleta corduroy skirt, brown textured tights from Target, a brown and green necklace from Kohl's and my trusty Golcs.
I must be rigorous whenever I pick up something brown and clutch it to my bosom. "The reason you like it," I tell myself, "is because you have five things like it at home." Off the top of my head, I have at least six brown jackets and sweaters, as many skirts, three pairs of pants and half a dozen tops. Conservatively.

Brown is my comfort color. Black has been a little too severe for me since I passed 40, and brown seems to be both dark (concealing!) and warm (flattering!) at the same time. Plus there are so many yummy shades. I love navy, it goes with many colors too, but in the end there's really one true neutral navy and everything else becomes a COLOR, and you have to start CONSIDERING it and what will work with it. And navy can easily make you look like a flight attendant. Navy and GREY makes you look like airport security. Brown has the UPS connection, but really only if you are wearing shorts.

The day started with the necklace.

It's still fairly cool outside, so I thought about tights, and from there it was a hop, skip and a jump to chocolatey happiness.