Maxi Pleated Skirt

I feel like I’ve been looking for this exact skirt my whole life, and I finally found it this past weekend.

I spent the weekend with my girlfriends in Santa Monica. We’ve been putting a little bit of money in a pot each time we meet in the hopes that at the end of a year we would have enough to pay for the six of us to spend the weekend together at a hotel. I’m so glad we did because our weekend together was so much fun!

After some shopping on the Promenade, we had dinner at Musha on Wilshire Boulevard. It was seriously, seriously good. You need to go there. Order the lobster roll, yellowtail sashimi, and the risotto. (I’m salivating just remembering how good it was!)

I spotted this skirt at Zara on the Promenade while we were making our way to dinner. I’ve wanted a skirt like this forever, and I knew when I saw it in the store that it was perfect.

I wore it to work today, and my teaching partner commented on how fun it looked to walk in. And it is! I love how it swishes when I walk and how the wind plays with the fabric. I do have to be careful not to step on the hem when I’m walking up and down stairs, but that’s fun in a way as well. I’m not used to wearing long skirts, and there’s something nostalgic and romantic about the total impracticality of daintily holding up one’s skirt as you climb or descend a set of stairs. It makes me feel so very lovely.

I love this cloche hat too. I used to never feel comfortable wearing hats, but when I cut my hair super short a couple of years ago, I started experimenting with hats and other hair accessories. As it turns out, I really do like hats.

This one is made out of jute with a black grosgrain ribbon. While I love the vintage shape of the hat, I feel like the wide stripe gives it a more modern feel too. Still, I feel like this whole outfit has a very 1920s vibe, which is definitely a good thing in my book.

And I think this is one of the first outfits I’ve posted on this blog where I haven’t worn black as the dominant color, but just as an accent. I’m kind of proud of myself! My friend was telling me this weekend about how she’s trying to step out of wearing so much black by incorporating more grey into her wardrobe, which I thought was pretty funny, but it’s true! Black always looks good!

Isn’t the skirt just so pretty?? *sigh*

Shirt: Zara peter pan collared blouse
Sweater: Rag & Bone sweatshirt (hand-me-down from my mama)
Jacket: Madewell (also worn here and here)
Skirt: Zara pleated maxi skirt
Shoes: J.Crew
Hat: Anthropologie cloche hat (old)
Accessories: Mikimoto pearls (hand-me-down from my mother-in-law), field guided canvas bag
Nail Polish: essie licorice and deborah lippmann shake your groove thing
Lipstick: NARS Jungle Red lip liner and Red Lizard lipstick

Ode to Books

I am immersed in books. At work, I help students with reading comprehension, I facilitate discussions about literature, and then I help students write about the books they’ve read. At school, I read and research and write about literature. At home, I read to my children and listen to my six-year-old as he reads aloud. When I volunteer in his classroom, I am often asked to help his classmates as they struggle through phonics readers. In the playground, I bring picture books and read to the children who want a break from more active play.

And I love it, all of it. If someone had told me when I was a kid that this would be my life when I grew up, I would have been utterly content.

After all, I was the otherwise obedient child who read under my covers at night by the dim light of my nightlight and then swiftly pretended to be asleep when my mama would come to check on me. I was the child who preferred reading to playing, to watching television, to playing video games, to practically everything. I was the child for whom books was the ultimate pleasure, a world where I could see and experience all things and all places and all times.

I’m still quite romantic about books. I still believe in the transcendent power of stories.

I also just really, really love books. I love the smell of books – the crisp smell of new paper and the musty smell of old tomes. I love how a book feels in my hand, I love the texture of the paper as I turn a page. I love the experience of curling up with a book in a comfy place. It is probably unsurprising, therefore, that as much as I embrace and often prefer the digital versions of newspapers and even magazines, I don’t like e-readers. They aren’t bad per se, but my attachment to the experience of reading actual books and to books as objects in and of themselves makes reading e-books a comparatively cold experience.

(I’m actually not a huge fan of Gertrude Stein. I think her work is fascinating and important, but it doesn’t move me. Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels have been on my reading list for a long time, but I’m determined to read them this summer. Then again, my summer reading list seems to add a few titles every other day, and Gaskell’s novels have been on the list since last summer.)

(Mostly, I picked these books because they matched my outfit!)

Sweater: vintage Philippe Adec silk and cashmere red sweater (hand-me-down from my mama)
Jacket: Marc Jacobs (old)
Shirt: J.Crew
Shorts: Q40 glam leather shorts (also worn here and here)
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew
Accessories: Chanel sunglasses (hand-me-down from my mama), Forever 21 headband and teal earring (worn as brooch), Herkimer diamond earrings from Principessa (gift from Yubo)
Nail Polish: essie turqoise and caicos
Lipstick: NARS Jungle Red lip liner and Red Lizard lipstick
Books: teal giraffe notebook by Florence Balducci for Anthropologie (gift), Selected Writings of Gertrude SteinThe Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell

White Lace, Red Tights

I’m really enjoying this semester so far even though I’m not taking any literature classes. While I do feel rather lit-deprived, the pedagogy course I’m taking has made teaching so much fun. It’s odd because the reading for the course often puts me to sleep it’s so dry, but the stuff I learn I then try out on my students and – lo and behold – it works! It’s so awesome!

In addition to the pedagogy course, I’m taking a required course in linguistics. I took a year of linguistics in college for my math GE requirements (I know, it’s weird that linguistics counted for math, but I was beyond thankful it did). I didn’t love it back then, but it was mildly interesting and it’s kind of a neat trick to be able to translate things into IPA. I can’t decide how I feel about the course I’m taking now for my graduate program. I see the usefulness in being able to understand the back-end, so to speak, of English, particularly when it comes to grammar, but my professor likes to go on tangents, as do some of my classmates, which means that often we spent half the class discussing things that have nothing to do with anything remotely associated with linguistics. It’s not that I mind tangents as a rule, but when it wastes half of a three hour class, I get irritated. Every wasted hour is time I could have spent eating dinner with my family, tucking my kids into bed, or watching Downton Abbey, dammit.

Aside from that particular life-shattering burden, school and work are engaging and fulfilling. I’m tutoring in the freshman writing lab this semester as well, and it’s nice being able to work one-on-one with students. And the discussions in my pedagogy course are so fun, mostly because my colleagues are amazing. It’s so great to be a part of a group of such motivated, engaged, hard-working, and yes, idealistic people. I know that in all probability we will all eventually end up grumpy, cynical, and bitter, but I really, really hope not.

Actually, if I ever end up like that, I hope I stop teaching and go do something else that I can be idealistic about.

This outfit was inspired by this Valentine’s Day-themed wedding shoot I stumbled upon while doing research for my parents’ upcoming 30th wedding anniversary party, specifically this photo. I loved the combination of the white lace dress with the red tights so much and her dress looked so similar to the one in my own closet, that I figured I could pull something similar together.

This dress is so soft and feminine, and I like how the red punches it up a bit and cuts down on some of that softness. I feel so different wearing this dress styled this way than, say, this way.

My hair is based off this Refinery 29 tutorial – I first did my hair like this for the holiday party my girlfriends and I throw annually. It’s super easy and even though my hair is still pretty short, I can still just manage to make it work. I like that it’s sort of messy; it feels very feminine, but in a un-fussy I-did-my-hair-in-under-a-minute type of way. Which I did!

I also really like the way it sets off this headband. It feels very Grecian.

Can you see my sunburn setting in? Stupid uber-pale skin. Nah, I like my blindingly pale porcelain skin, but its tendency to burn is kind of a pain. (Mind the puns!) Must remember to apply sunscreen to my shoulders now that the weather is nice enough not to require layering.

Dress: Anthropologie (also worn here)
Blazer: Madewell Academy Blazer (also worn here)
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: Zara wedges
Bag: vintage (from ebay)
Accessories: Anthropologie headband (old), Forever 21 hairpins (old) and scissor necklace, Herkimer diamond earrings from Principessa on Abbot Kinney (Valentine’s gift from Yubo)
Nail Polish: essie watermelon
Lipstick: NARS Heat Wave

Blood Orange Pleats

We’ve been eating a lot of blood oranges lately and they leave these shockingly bright red-orange stains on everything. This skirt reminds me of them.

I go through phases with color – sometimes I wear a lot of bright, flashy colors – yellows and reds and hot pinks and greens. Other times, I feel drawn toward more muted colors – dark plum purples and navy blues and tans. But I am, at heart, a black is best kind of gal. My mama has great style, but it’s subtle. Her closet is a sea of blacks, browns, navy blues, and crisp white blouses. She has an eye for details and appreciates really beautiful design. My grandmother, on the other hand, has a very theatrical style – she has entire matching outfits of bright purples, pinks, leopard-prints. She comes from the era of bright lipsticks, perfectly coiffed hair, and matching shoes and handbags. My grandmother, even at 90, always makes an entrance in her bright colors and high heels.

So any color I incorporate into my wardrobe feels like a grand gesture, a nod toward the fun of theatrical dressing, of play. Black comes naturally to me; it’s timeless and dependable and always chic. But when I wear bright colors I feel like I’m dressing for adventure.

And I like that.

I guess this is all to say that when I wear color, I usually pair it with a neutral, like black. I like the juxtaposition and I feel like that one bright burst of color makes more of an impression.

For me, fashion is about wearing clothes that makes you feel beautiful, that makes you feel like the best version of you, that are fun, playful, irreverent, and interesting.

As a literary scholar, I tend to see stories in everything, and clothing is no exception. My clothes tell a story – about me and about the people that influence me. They’re just as much about where I come from as they are about who I want to be.

Shirt: Mikkat Market (similar shirt in blue)
Skirt: BCBG Max Azria pleated chiffon skirt
Shoes: J.Crew
Bag: J.Crew, worn as clutch
Accessories: vintage Gaultier sunglasses (used to be my mama’s), louloudo pouch necklace
Nail Polish: essie watermelon
Lipstick: NARS Heat Wave

Vintage Swing Coat

Hey there! I haven’t posted all week and it’s been even longer since I posted an outfit, but I was sick. And my kids were sick. And then my kids were sick again.

It’s been ugly.

Anyway, I’m breaking the blog silence with a bang. A bright pink one, to be specific.

I bought this vintage 1960s swing coat off ebay for a song a couple of years ago at the height of my Mad Men obsession. It’s beautiful and so delightfully pink.

I used to have a really hard time buying clothing online. You know how things can look great on the rack, but you try it on and it looks atrocious? Obviously when you buy clothes online, you can’t try it on, which is a conundrum supposedly solved by generous return policies. Unfortunately, I’m horrible at returning things. (I’m weird and feel really guilty when I return things. It’s dumb, but I can’t help it.)

Vintage clothes are even harder since it’s often hard to really know the condition of the piece from pictures. When I saw this coat, however, I just had to believe that it would be perfect.

And it was.

Just so you know, I have (quite happily, except in regards to my checking account) mostly overcome these hurdles to online fashion consumption. Sigh.

When I wear this coat, I feel instantly glamorous. The color, the weight, the length, the cut – everything about this coat is just lovely and fun.

Seriously, is it not gorgeous?

I felt a little like Superman/Clark Kent in this outfit. Or maybe Wonder Woman/Diana Prince would be a more appropriate analogy? My coat is like a cape – it’s big, bright, nostalgic, and out-of-place in the best way possible. When I remove it, I look and feel completely different. I blend in again, but in a I’m-wearing-leather-so-I-still-kick-ass kind of way.

Coat: vintage (from ebay)
Shirt: Anthropologie (old)
Sweater: J.Crew
Shorts: Q40 glam leather shorts
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew
Bag: fieldguided canvas bag
Accessories: Forever 21 bracelets and Dogeared heart necklace
Nail Polish: essie licorice

Happily Overdressed

Today was my first official day back at work after the break. Since I work at a university (the same one where I attend graduate school), most of my colleagues dress pretty casually. And it’s not like I don’t ever just throw on my favorite pair of jeans and a comfy hoodie, but I really enjoy dressing up so I try to take every opportunity.

When I was staying at home with my children during their earliest years, it was so easy for me to stop caring about myself. Motherhood during those first few years was almost indescribably beautiful and moving, but it was also utterly absorbing. Without really realizing it, I poured my whole self into the raising of my children and while I’m so glad I was able to do it, I think I sort of lost sight of my self as a whole, individual person.

I’m still working on it, but going back to school was part of me reclaiming some sense of balance.

Another part, as frivolous as it may seem in the grand scheme of things, is this. Fashion. Beauty. Clothes. Makeup. Painting my nails and (I’m loathe to admit) showering regularly again. While I concede the frivolity of fashion in the grand scheme of things, it makes me happy. It’s fun.

When I dress up, I feel beautiful and confident and strong. Not that I don’t feel those things when I come home and change into sweats and wipe off my lipstick, but that’s just the thing. Home is the place where I am safe, and that’s where I was for the greater part of four years. Now I go out into the world, and I enjoy the experience of creating myself for the world, so to speak.

Moving on from the philosophizing and on to the clothes! The jacket I’m wearing is a beautiful opera jacket by Dolce & Gabanna that my mama bought on sale some time ago, but then didn’t end up liking for her. It’s convenient that she has a daughter, is it not? The sleeves are so perfectly poofy at the wrists – I just love it.

Jacket: Dolce & Gabbana black silk satin opera jacket (hand-me-down from my mama), similar (with cropped sleeves) here
Shirt: J.Crew
Skirt: Anthropologie
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew glitter oxford ballet flats
Purse: vintage, worn as clutch (from ebay)
Sunglasses: Chanel (hand-me-down from my mama)
Nail Polish: essie watermelon