Trying Stitch Fix

I’ve always been super curious about what it would be like to have a personal stylist. In my head, it’s like having a sister/best friend who gets you and so knows your style instinctively and yet would push you to take a few risks, steer you away from yet another little black dress and sensible black pumps, and of course knows all the best places to shop. Clearly, this is fantasy though because not only do I not have a sister (though my mom is pretty great!), but well, stylists cost money. Money that must be spent on little league and giant supplies of toilet paper (seriously, Amazon subscription services have resulted in an insane collection of toilet paper in our garage) and also actual clothes.

But! I heard about this new monthly subscription service (why, yes, I am a sucker for things delivered via mail!) called Stitch Fix via a facebook friend, and I was intrigued. (FYI, I have not in any way been compensated for this post/review nor was I asked to either try or post/review by anybody. I just felt like it. So there.) I filled out this extensive questionnaire, included a link to my fashion pinterest board (and this blog), and waited for the Stitch Fix stylists to work their magic.

My first “fix” came today, and while it was super fun to get a package of clothing picked out just for meeeeee, I was pretty disappointed with the contents of said package. To wit:

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The “Kristi Lace Detailed Striped Dress” ($78) is something I might have worn in college. Maybe. The cut was just really young. (And now I just feel old. *le sigh*) Also those weird black mesh things on the side are, I suppose, intended to make one appear thinner. But instead, the whole thing seemed fragmented. The lines are just off. The dresses I wear now are much more tailored and structured.

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This is the “Eloise Lattice Detailed Silk Blouse” ($88), and is a pretty well priced for a 100% silk blouse (the liner, however, is poly/spandex), but it’s just not my style, cut, or color. (It sounds like I just got my hair did.) (Oh btw, sorry about the horrible iPhone pictures!) (Also, my space heater in the background!) (And endless parentheticals!)

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This Kelly green cardigan (“Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan” ($38)) was actually pretty nice if slightly boring, but it was too tight. If it fit a bit better, I probably would have kept it though.

The last clothing item was a pair of black jeggings (“Rizzo Skinny Ponte Pants” ($88)), which I’m wearing in all of the above pictures. I’m not a huge fan of jeggings in concept (fake pockets frustrate me. I want pockets that I can actually stick my hands in!), but these are super comfy. Like stupendously comfy. So maybe I’m missing out on a good thing with this jegging thing. Especially post-two-babies body. Elastic waists are just so lovely! So even though I’m kind of horrified at the idea of spending almost $90 on a pair of pants that have FAKE POCKETS, I may have to keep these. They also look pretty awesome on, and are convincing enough as skinny jeans that I could wear them to work and class. And they’re moderately high-waisted, which is a super duper important thing for me nowadays. I am so not cool with sitting down and having my students see my undies. Just. No. (Also, again, I am old.)

There were also a pair of earrings in the package (Eliza Druzy Stud Earrings ($55)) which I didn’t bother to take a picture of because they were a) totally not my style and b) I’m not spending $55 on earrings. Unless they’re perfect. I’m kind of picky about jewelry, unless it’s like $5 from Forever 21. Which I can’t buy anymore because it gives me a rash. Boo.

I did like how my stylist included a cute little personal note about her selections as well as nifty, perforated cards for each item with styling suggestions.

So, overall, nice idea, but I think I’ll stick to doing my own shopping. I’m pretty picky, and I know when I like something and when I don’t. So I guess I’m happy being my own stylist after all.

A Very Potter Party

In a very inactive, sort of fashion blog by a literature grad student, it seems totally appropriate to break a months-long blog silence with pictures from my son’s Harry Potter-themed birthday party that happened, incidentally, several months ago. Yes, yes, of course.

When I’m not being really bad about updating this blog or doing whatever it is grad students do (read, write, grade papers, rinse and repeat), I really love planning parties. My grandmother, who raised five kids and nobody got a birthday party every year and when they did it was cake, sing happy birthday, play pin the tail on the donkey and say goodbye, thinks I’m crazy, but I love me a themed party. When my oldest son was obsessed with Thomas the Train, I bought a train-shaped cake pan (that made individually-sized train cars), decorated the train with candy, and made a track on a cake board with black licorice. It was awesome. One year we threw a monster party for my younger son complete with monster cupcakes with googly eyes. And also slime (can’t have a monster party without slime!).

But considering my own irrepressible obsession with the Harry Potter universe, you can imagine how happy I was when my older son asked for a Harry Potter party for his 7th birthday. I’ve been reading the books to him at bedtime for the past year or so, and I told him he could screen the first movie at his party since we had just finished the first book. (Obviously, it is a serious rule in our household that one may not watch a film based on a book before reading the actual book.)

I did so much work for this party. It was insane. But, in the end, it was the most awesome party ever, and my son still talks about it being one of the best days of his (very-distinguished-at-age-seven) life. Most of the pictures I took with my real camera were of the kids so excuse the instagramy nature of these images:

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Guests were greeted by a Chinese Fireball dragon, which guarded the entrance to Gringotts, where the children were given the key to their vault and collected a sack of galleons.

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At Diagon Alley, the children bought a copy of The Standard Book of Spells: Grade 1 (yes, inside is actual text about various spells from the Harry Potter wiki, compiled by yours truly into an actual spellbook) and quills. The quills and many of the other paper goods from the party were from PropPrintables, an etsy shop chock full of the most amazing HP-themed printables.

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The children then continued on to Ollivanders, where a wand chose each child. (Wands were bought unfinished at another great etsy shop Party Scribbles and then I spray painted them brown. Each wand came with a little tag indicating the wood and wand core!)

Platform 9 3/4

Finally, the children entered through Platform 9 3/4…

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and finally arrived at Hogwarts to study potions with Professor Snape! (Our dining room was done up as the great hall, but I never managed to get a picture.)

Hogwarts letters

Our fireplace the Dursley’s fireplace on the morning when all the letters burst through it.

floo power

Of course, the Dursley’s would never had floo powder in their house!

HP candy

Finally, the children had a Hogsmeade weekend right before the film started and were able to visit Honeydukes for Chocolate Frogs, Squeaking Sugar Mice, Licorice Wands, Sweet Slytherins, Dumbledore’s favorite Serbert Lemons, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. The amazing candy containers were from PropPrintables. But, let me tell you, the cutting and the folding and the gluing of all those candy containers is not for the faint of heart.

Can you just make out he adult beverages on the counter above? Yes, that was a nice touch, if I do say so myself.

head of ravenclaw

And here I am in my Ravenclaw robes (I was, of course, Head of Ravenclaw). If you look closely, you can see I’m wearing dirigible plum earrings. (10 points to your house if you know what those are!) You can see the Sorting Hat in the foreground (all the children were sorted).

There was also a golden snitch cake (specially requested by the birthday boy), which was probably the most difficult cake I’ve ever done (let me tell you about those wings), and of course it fell apart just as I was transporting it the four feet from the kitchen to the dining room. But even so, the kids loved it. Still, no pictures of the broken cake for the internets.

and then it was summer

Um…long time no see?

Life, blah blah blah, so busy, blah blah blah, etc.

I finished with my third year of graduate school a couple of weeks ago and then spent the next two weeks working furiously (and full-time) editing this year’s edition of an annual book of first year writing. Oh yes, I finished my first year of teaching first year composition. At the end of the year, I won an award for teaching, which was lovely both because of the acknowledgment and the fact that the award came with money.

In the fall I’ll start my last year of my MA program, but this summer I’ll be studying for the GRE (general and subject – literature) and putting together my application for doctoral programs. Mostly though, I’m looking forward to being present with my children in a way that I struggle to during the school year, especially in the two months before finals. I usually have all sorts of grand plans for the summer – visit every museum in Los Angeles!, go to Disneyland!, attend outdoor music concerts!, etc., etc. But this year, I’m just happy to be with them. We may still go to the Getty Museum or catch a concert downtown, but I’ll be perfectly content if all we end up doing is hanging out in our own little neighborhood.

We’ll see if I manage to blog a bit here and there this summer…I do have some outfits I’ve been wanting to share, and as we moved into a new house (oh yes, bought a new house – it’s lovely and nearly perfect), it might be fun to start posting about some of our home projects both inside and out.

Back to School Shopping

My fall semester begins in a little over a week, but next week I have work orientations for my various teaching jobs and I have been frantically trying to lesson plan, write essay prompts, and otherwise prepare for my classes so it feels like school/work has more or less already begun.

I recently read that August is the worst month to buy clothes, but unfortunately I had no choice but to go back to school shopping this month unless I wanted my son to traipse off to school virtually naked. That child grows like a weed and wears his clothes out even more quickly. Luckily, I’ve gotten down kids shopping to a near science – buy the basics at Target (skinny jeans, shorts, cute graphic t–shirts, underwear) and Lands End (always with a discount – socks, sweat pants) and Gap Kids (again, always with a discount that makes the prices comparable to Target – more skinny jeans and shorts) and sweaters, jackets, and button downs are where I splurge a bit (mini boden, J.Crew’s clearance section, and Zara Kids).

And as for me? Well, I just couldn’t resist a few things:

┬áJacket – Zara, Shirt – Madewell, Belt – Nordstrom, Boots – Boden

Although I’m always tempted to buy all sorts of very on-trend pieces, as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to stick mostly with pieces I’m sure I love enough to wear for the life of that piece. And, to be honest, I’m a lot more risk-adverse when it comes to clothes than I like to imagine. So, for me, these pieces are just perfect. Classic pieces with a little dash of whimsy. I’m a sucker for simple pieces with very feminine details so I’m absolutely in love with the big bow on the otherwise plain white t-shirt from Madewell and the puffed shoulders on the Zara jacket. And of course I’ve been wanting to buy a pair of ankle boots for ages, but they were either way out of my price range or not wedges. I’ve promised myself to only wear them occasionally as 1) they’re suede and will wear and 2) my poor back can’t handle even wedges all that often. And the belt, though it was a “risky” pick for me as I’ve never really worn belts, I’ve been wearing it quite often since I bought it. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m rather enamored of belts now.

So hopefully as school gears up again I’ll muster up the time to post some of my outfits as I incorporate these pieces into my existing wardrobe.

Until then, adieu!

Floral Jeans and Almost Apologies

I know, I know. I promised I wasn’t giving up, and then I all but disappeared. What can I say? I was busy keeping my head just above water with school and work and the children and my hubby and all the lovely and difficult things that make up life. I’ve been on break now for nearly a month, but haven’t really felt like posting my outfits until just recently. This time, I won’t promise anything. I’m here today, and I’m sure I’ll be here for awhile, but probably inconsistently. I’m no longer a professional blogger, after all, and I’m just doing this for fun.

I’m usually not a big fan of prints, but that’s only because it’s so hard to find ones that appeal to my own aesthetics. The floral pattern on these jeans, however, are just perfect. I’ve been coveting them for months, but I refuse to spend over a $100 on jeans so I just figured these were out of reach. Lo and behold last week I was window shopping (heh heh) at Anthropologie and found these on the sale rack for half off! Score! Unfortunately, I bought them in my regular size without trying them on (dumb of me, I know), and they feel slightly too snug. They didn’t have the next size up anyway, and I can still squeeze into them so I’ll still keep them. I just have to remind myself not to eat large meals when I’m wearing them. :)

Anyway, I think they’re ever so lovely and evoke a sort of late summer feeling, when the days are long and hot and lazy.

I’m back to wearing flats all the time now because I’ve been having some trouble with my back. I have scoliosis, and while it’s mild enough that, absent close inspection, I look relatively symmetrical, I’m really not. But I was a dancer in high school, got a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, swam competitively in junior high, and carried two children with relatively few problems. All rather suddenly, however, I seem to be developing some pretty debilitating back problems.

The pain comes and goes, and usually I’m just fine. But when it comes, I can barely function so I’ve decided that I best take care of myself. I’m trying to get back into dancing and swimming, and I’m going to go back to wearing flats except for special occasions. I’m also trying to research alternative treatments for scoliosis since most doctors seem to give only two options: surgery or simply living with the pain. Neither is an acceptable option, as far as I’m concerned.

I know if I really do want to start taking care of my (nearly 30-year-old!) body, I need to start over the summer when I have time to foster the discipline. I think I could sustain the habit during the school year, but I definitely couldn’t start it then. Just one of my many summer projects!

Top: J.Crew (old)
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity from Anthropologie
Shoes: J.Crew
Bag: Twenty-Two (an unfortunately discontinued local line)
Hairclip: homemade
Lipstick: NARS Heat Wave layerd over Clinque different lipstick 33 Rasberry Glace
Nails: essie watermelon

Out Sick

I just wanted to say that I haven’t abandoned the blog, I’ve just been sick. I’ve promised myself that I’ll get the flu shot next year and every year thereafter because NEVER AGAIN! I can’t even remember how many times I’ve gotten sick this winter, and I can’t go through this again. I usually get pretty seriously ill about once a year, partly because I tend to not take care of myself especially if there are other, more pressing demands (children, school, work) and partly because my immune system sucks and it hates me. Last year, I ended up in the ER from dehydration after a particularly intense bout of stomach flu. This year, I’ve managed to stay out of range of medical professionals, but I can’t seem to shake these 4 or 5 day colds and flu. I’ll get sick for about a week, spend another week with lingering congestion or a cough, and then – if I’m lucky – have another week of blessed health during which I go around telling everyone how GREAT I feel and how WONDERFUL it is to be healthy again, and then I’ll promptly get knocked down with something else by the end of the week.

It so seriously sucks, but by next week hopefully I’ll be up and running again.