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

Blue Bow Belt

I was up for a good chunk of last night with my youngest son who came down with stomach flu yesterday so I had a hard time waking up this morning. I finally dragged myself out of bed about 10 minutes before I usually leave the house for work so I had barely enough time to throw on some clothes and dash out the door. I did my makeup in the car (does it make it better if I tell you I save my eye makeup for red lights?) and, to my dismay, I got a parking ticket at school today because in the rush this morning I had forgotten to switch my pass from my husband’s car, which I drove yesterday, to my car.

So yes, wrong side of bed today and all that.

Still, I absolutely love my job; it’s hands-down the most rewarding and enjoyable job I’ve ever had so this morning wasn’t a complete wash in the least. I started one-on-one conferencing with my students on their papers this morning as well, and that’s one of my favorite parts of teaching writing. You can do so much with a student one-on-one that just isn’t possible in a large group.

Except for brief periods where I wanted to be a ballerina (tutus! need I say more?), a singer (I have had a longtime and ongoing infatuation with female singer-songwriters), and a lawyer (like my mama!), I’ve really always wanted to be a teacher. I adored nearly all my teachers growing up, and the idealist in me has always wanted to do something that made a difference in the world for good. In my last year of college I was actually applying to teaching credential/education MA programs with the goal of becoming a high school English teacher, but the birth of my first child sort of derailed those plans. In the past several years, I’ve tried a few other careers, but nothing seemed to fit. So it makes me really happy now to be doing something that I not only believe in, but I really, really enjoy.

Since I was in such a rush this morning, I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular when I threw my outfit together this morning, but I like how it ended up. I nearly always try to buy clothes that I know I can mix and match with other items in my closet. You know those magazine articles that show how you can wear one shirt 5 different ways? That’s how I think when I shop. If I can’t imagine several ways an item can be worn then it really has no business in my closet to begin with.

I’ve never really worn belts before this year so I’m hesitant to buy them because I’m not always sure how or what to wear them with. This little blue bow belt was an impulse buy last year during one of Nordstom’s big annual sales, and I almost regretted buying it after it hung in my closet unworn for months afterward. Lately, though, I think I’m getting the hang of this whole belt thing.

I think belts and other accessories are great ways to incorporate trends without a big commitment. For instance, neon colors are really big right now, but no matter how much I love these uber-popular neon bags from The Cambridge Satchel Company, I can’t afford to spend that much on something that I’m not ready to commit to wearing for the next 10 years at least. But this neon yellow belt from J.Crew? I think I could splurge on that (maybe next month though?), and I know I could wear it a ton of different ways. And then the canvas bag I’m wearing from fieldguided is a nice little nod to neon without being totally overwhelming or breaking the bank.

I’ve talked about this before, I think, but that’s part of why I really like nail polish as well. Not only is nail polish just plain fun, but it’s an easy, low-commitment way of incorporating bright and silly colors. I don’t like manicures (I know, I’m weird) so I buy my own polish and paint my nails myself. It’s not always never super perfect, but I feel better about buying one new nail polish color a month than I would about getting a manicure every few weeks.

My mama, however, is always a little appalled by my nail color choices, I think. I admit that perhaps I take a little teeny bit of pleasure in her mildly disapproving “tsk tsks” though. Maybe in another ten years I’ll have completely grown out of this little bit of post-teenage rebellion.

And then on the opposite spectrum are my pearls, a wedding gift from my grandmother, that I know I’ll be wearing when my own grandchildren are getting married. My grandmother originally bought me a very, very long string of freshwater pearls, which she then had split into two lengths – the long one I’m wearing now with a pearl shortener clasp (also a gift from my grandmother) that makes it a few inches shorter than it would be otherwise – and a choker length necklace that I wore on my wedding day. As a set I can wear them so many different ways.

Shirt: Mikkat Market (also worn here)
Dress: laurie b. cashmere and tulle shift, worn as skirt (also worn here)
Tights: J.Crew
Shoes: J.Crew
Bag: fieldguided
Accessories: Nordstrom blue leather skinny bow belt (similar at Forever 21), Forever 21 bow hair clip (old), pearls (gift from grandmother) worn with pearl shortener clasp (similar here), Herkimer diamond earrings from Principessa (gift from Yubo)
Nail Polish: essie turqoise and caicos
Lipstick: NARS Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

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

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