Friday, May 31, 2013

Love Your Closet

Sometimes it feels like no small accomplishment to love your closet. When you add up the organizational time and thought, the ruthless weeding, the discovery of color theory, figure flattery and textile chemistry, the positive affirmations to love your body while acknowledging your fussy feet - well, that represents the equivalent of designing and building a nuclear plant in order to flip on a light switch.

Most mornings I slide open the closet doors with pleasure and anticipation even if I already have an outfit ready to go. My closet represents an oasis of orderly cleanliness that the rest of my home will never achieve. The only inroads are the rare cat hair tumbleweed. I organize clothes by color, and then by item type within that rainbow. I wonder if this is good feng shui? The clothes themselves seem happy.

The sliding doors are a little tiresome. If I had bifold doors, I could see the entire closet at a glance - which would make it easier to both pick things out and also to put clean clothes away. The second thing I would alter is having no full length hanging space. I inherited this closet, of course, and it was clearly laid out for a single man. Which is fine with me 95% of the time, as about that much of my wardrobe is separates, but the few dresses and long skirts that I do own drape awkwardly over the lower rack.

My modest involvement in Pinterest helps me love my closet too. For every potential outfit that I pin, I can discover the equivalent piece on a hanger. I have white jeans, a denim shirt and a black jacket: no problem!

The inspiration.
The interpretation.
I thought it was too warm to wear a jacket, and also had an interview this morning, so I didn't want to wear jeans. I also considered these variations:

 The skirt is pretty, but a little tight at the waist for a Friday.

I didn't like the proportions with the shorter skirt. I wore black and silver jewelry, but you know, gold would have been better, now that I look at it. Gold would have warmed up the outfit a bit.

My closet generally seems infinite - but I don't have anything like these:
Miz Mooz Papaya Sandals, $75

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Two Purchases

1.   What about this jacket?

This is the ivory Boden cotton ponte Elgin jacket, for which I paid a very reasonable price. What I don't like about it: it has a pretty but fairly heavy cotton lining, which gets crumpled and shows through the light color of the exterior. Ironing the ponte fabric was tricky enough without trying to iron the lining too. Boden loves those cotton linings, but polyester would have been a better choice in this case.

But, it fits really well and that notched neckline is very sleek. It is truly ivory, but but I could wear it as a white jacket too. Heavy enough to wear in cool weather, but comfortable with a tank in office AC. I will probably wear it to work and let Heather vote in person.

2.   Couch!

Feet up at Macy's
Yummy ivory leather (again, more ivory than it looks in the photo), lovely firm back and seating, reasonably priced, will be delivered in July. I CAN'T WAIT. A new couch has been on my Things I Want list for years. This is clearly the upside of having grown children, as Michelle pointed out. Also, the cat fur will just blow away, and it's so slippery I will be able to play air hockey on it with Riley!

Enjoy it while you can, my furry friend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Birthday Presence

As usual, I found all sorts of ways to treat myself for my birthday, and then totted up the dollar signs with pained amusement. I find there is always a reason to treat myself. Tax return? New shoes! Crappy board meeting? An hour on eBay. Christmas? Change of season? Gift card? All of these occurrences spur "a little something."

My friends take loving care of me also. Karen got me TWO of these:

It was there a second ago . . .
And Carol got me these beauties:

But seriously, my best present every year is a copy of my credit report. My credit score rose another 40 points this year, from "there's hope" to "adequate". I think that next year it will rise again into "not bad!" My current dilemma is that most of my accounts are closed, so they show only debt with no available credit. Next year, when everything is paid off, this change should reflect well on me, as I will have a couple of cards with decent credit limits and no/low balances. Another questionable influence is my lack of mortgage or other current installment loan (like a car) which drags the score down a bit too. Rent is not generally reported, although there apparently is a way for property managers to do so. My guess is that applies for multi-unit buildings and such.

I hesitate to take on a loan to improve my credit - that sounds like perpetual motion snake oil to me - but if the hike is not significant next May, I'll consider it.

Also, I recently wore this and got lots of compliments:

I added a dotty scarf that conveniently highlighted the tights:

Much better, yes?
We had a spot of cool weather, and I realized I didn't wear these fun spots all winter!

Camera on wrong setting = grainy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sandal Weather, and Some Eggs

I was so pleased to pull out linen and cotton for the first time this year. I even polished my toes and put on sandals!

I have done a lot of clothes shopping so far in 2013. My little spreadsheet shows an average of $307.40 spent each month through May. This is the sum total for 36 new items, plus a packet of tights, socks and underwear. That works out to about $37 per item (not counting the lingerie), but the $300 purse really skewed that average, hee hee.  The purchases have also been fairly distributed across clothing categories, a few dresses, a handful of skirts, four pairs of shoes, etc. 

I have been highlighting those new things I have not worn on the chart, as a reminder not to let them languish in my closet. 

Having relocated almost everything across closets, I see that my summer wardrobe is much smaller than my Fall/Winter collection. I have fewer multiples - only one brown jacket instead of four, one pair of summer shoes in each color, instead of three heights of boots in six different colors. The closet is much less crowded. Well, winter clothes are heavier weight, too.

Green linen Jones New York jacket, White House Black Market skirt, Arturo Chiang sandals. I'm very fond of these sandals, but they are getting scruffy. Sandals just aren't long term property the way boots are.

Boden gauze top, Ralph Lauren red jeans, red Born flats. This was peppy but simple.

This is breakfast for dinner! From the bottom up; waffle fries, refried beans, sauteed spinach, poached eggs, a sprinkle of cojack cheese, and homemade salsa. Yummy, easy, pretty.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Pleasure of White

Allie of Wardrobe Oxygen is blogging about Project 33, in which you make a wardrobe out of 33 items in your closet, and/or consider which are your 33 favorite pieces of clothing.

This white sweater would definitely be one of my 33 items. I've had it at least a decade and it still looks good, it is forgiving no matter what weight I am, it is the perfect length in the torso and in the arms, I could go on and on. J. Jill tape yarn sweater, J'adore.
I wore it with brown linen pants, leopard shoes, and this great necklace that I found on eBay. The pendant is an ammonite - a fossil version of a nautilus. I am quite enamored of nautiluses. Nautili?

The rest of the necklace is turquoise nuggets with silver findings, and a few little brown beads that look like peppercorns. It was sold as vintage, and I have no idea if the turquoise is genuine or not, but the ammonite sure is. It's funny, but I never used to like turquoise, but since my sister in law gave me a "turquoise" bracelet, I found myself wanting more of it. It's so good with bright colors, and jazzes up neutrals.

I could not possibly pare my wardrobe down to 33 items for a single season, but it was fun to think about which are my favorite items In my case, most of them became favorites over time. After I wore them a hundred different ways and still loved them, it proved to be a long-term relationship and not just an infatuation. I have more than a few crushes in my closet, ladies. Unsuitable boyfriends, like my Missoni for Target dress.

The dilemma is that by the time you know it is true love, the sweater or skirt may a bit worse for wear (there was never a truer cliche), and you have to start thinking about replacing it. But no new item will capture that depth of feeling right off the rack. In this frame of mind, you wander around, longing for that deep red wool crepe Princess-seamed jacket with a three button closure and usable welt pockets.

I suspect I will find true love with my Ralph Lauren purse. How about you?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spots and Blooms

I trundled two large bags of clothes off to Goodwill on Sunday, and saw these along the way.

It was delicious outside; cool but brilliantly sunny, and Des Plaines looked its best. Many yards had been mown for the first time, all the fruit trees were blooming, and the air smelled fresh and sweet. As I was walking, a friend pulled alongside and called out "Happy Mother's Day!" Ben called me in the morning too, of course.

The next day found me back at work, and I wore my new Ann Taylor polka-dot jersey dress. Still cool enough then to wear tights and boots, but it is 80 degrees today.

The face and the empty dish say volumes.
This definitely needed a bright red necklace or a splash of non-matchy color, but I couldn't quite get there. Here is the dress on its own. It is very stretchy and flattering, but boy, I think I look pretty darn big in this picture. Hmmm.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spending My Tax Return, Part Two

Another very groovy thing that happened in April was getting my tax return before I left for Providence. Not only do I not consistently get money back, but I usually have some financial hole or other that the money must fill. Two years ago it was medical bills, for myself and Ben. This year, there was nothing pending, and so we enjoyed a full week of not checking the bank balance once or twice a day - or before we ordered dessert.

Not that I bought anything of note. Lots of good meals, some clothes for Ben, some tea at Tealuxe, a very cool pencil from RISD, and a new candy dish for my desk:

How cute is that! I'm sure it is meant for small children, but I reject conventional limits.

Speaking of RISD, I spent one morning at their museum while Ben was at work. Their galleries are spread over at least five floors, including a museum that was built to look like a wealthy merchant's Benefit Street home, and some niche spaces like gardens and terraces and bridges. The exhibits were beautifully curated and less pompous self-conscious than most museums. One exhibit, of "everyday" design, had five Little Black Dresses interspersed with more industrial objects.

Karl Lagerfeld upfront.
This exhibit also included a gorgeous Italian typewriter from the Sixties, which was a very early example of all lowercase design in the logo and name. The sample typewriter actually had no upper case letters to type with, but of course Olivetti added them to the models they sold.

The valentine.
But enough about my adventures. You want to see the Boy! Lets start with his mailbox.

I'm not sure why Ben is an elf in this drawing.
You don't want to see, or even hear me describe his apartment, so here he is on the shores of still-frozen Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks.

So handsome, working his Spike look. I keep telling him he should go platinum blonde.

A Real Vacation, Part One

This April, I spent a week visiting Ben in Providence, including a weekend jaunt up to Indian Lake to visit Mom, who just celebrated her 90th birthday. She says she is very wise now.

I left Des Plaines after an overnight drenching rain, which turned the area into a disaster area, as the already overfull Des Plaines river crested at a new record (over ten feet) and drowned every bit of land near its banks. I was lucky to get out at all, and ended up spending most of the day at the airport, and flying into Boston at 10PM instead of Providence at 5PM. I then caught the last Peter Pan (no lie) bus of the evening into Providence, and arrived about midnight downtown. THEN I took a cab to my hotel. I was so happy to be on vacation that none of this bothered me in the slightest. "Look, the bus has outlets at each seat! Awesome!" 

Providence was in full bloom.
It was 70 degrees on my first day there (it snowed back in Illinois, if only flurries). This is the view heading up the hill toward Brown's campus. At the park by my hotel, I noticed these pretty manhole covers:
The day was so beautiful that we decided to rent a car early and drive down to Newport. There wasn't a car to be had because of the train stoppage to and from Boston (intended to prevent Tsarnaev's escape), so we waited an hour or so and were rewarded with a brand new Ford Escape! This was one of the cars on my shortlist to buy next year, so I was pretty thrilled to have such an extended test drive. More good travel karma.

A very scenic drive south to Newport, and over a bridge that rose 400 feet in the air and disappeared into a fog bank. It was beautiful and eerie and possibly full of leprous ghost sailors. Newport itself is wildly touristy on its main drag, but charming everywhere else. It was getting cooler and mistier so we ran to the Gap to get Ben a pullover, and drove down to the Cliff Walk.

You wander along a rugged shore, on the petticoats of grand mansions, and imagine the lives of their owners. Name a commoditiy, and these people owned it: railroads, coal, steel, whale oil, timber.
The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilts
I was going to Photoshop out the white van, but you know, it gives the picture SCALE.

It eventually got too rainy and cold for us to pretend any longer that we were hardy fisher folk, and we got back in our luxurious cockpit and drove back to Providence, where we had a fiery Korean hotpot stew that I had just seen on Anthony Bourdain the night before. Ben's pot was full of kimchi (I am not a fan) and mine had calamari and clams. After dinner we met Ben's pals at Trinity Brewhouse, where young Ben has his own tankard, and had some excellent Hefeweizen. THEN we moseyed across the street to a Providence Bruins game!

The game was fantastic fun; Skating! Fights! Goals! Sweet Caroline! in between periods they brought out Peewee hockey teams for mini-games. And then, about halfway through the second period, the game stopped abruptly, and the announcer came on to tell us "The Boston Police have captured the second bomber!" The crowd went nuts and I got chills. Providence is like Boston's little sister; the Providence Bruins are the feeder team to the Boston Bruins, and it was a full house of Boston fans. For many reasons, it was a special time to be in this lovely city.

And that was just the first day of my vacation.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Once More Into the Breach

This outfit illustrates many things that I know better than to wear (still learning to write, sorry).

I forgive the blobby sweater, because it is cashmere as light and soft as a cloud (Ann Taylor in praline, yum), but it gives me that terrible egg shape that is the antithesis of everything I actually like about my body. Underneath is the mythical lace tee that I was searching everywhere for last year, but which is sheer and requires a tank underneath. Also, it tore a small hole in the side seam on the first wear, which serves me right for buying something so cheap.

The Talbots pants are a grayish pink and I love the soft twill, but that cut isn't doing anything good for me. They date from the Box O' Pink episode, and I wore them several times last summer. I think I wore them with little sandals which . . . helped? Goodwill? And the shoes, oh my, so sad.

Although I have been avoiding the scale, the months of January through April were full of stress eating, and it shows, at least to my eyes. I look pudgy and pale. However, that purse classes up everything I own. 

Ralph Lauren, the last one at Lord and Taylor, and at $300, more than my monthly clothing budget, but oh so worth it. At least I had a 15% off coupon.

Contrast, if you please, THIS outfit, which is so much more successful.

The sweater is Prive cashmere, from eBay and the dress is purple ponte from Lands End. About 40 smackers total. I look long and lean and am having an excellent hair day.

Remedial Blogging, May 2nd 2013

Well, I've been away, obviously. I was a little bored with the blog, had a lot of things on my mind, and my old tripod didn't fit my new phone. So.

I'll clearly be learning how to take pictures of myself all over again, and here is an outfit that points that out.
MOST of my head is in the frame.

But this is cute, no? Another thing I forgot how to do is take closeup shots of details. The jacket is an eBay find after typing in "polka dot jacket". The dots are actually little octagons woven into the fabric.

This is probably the last wearing of tights, unless the temps drop unexpectedly.

I can't remember how to write, either. New purse fancy.