Friday, April 22, 2011

Snap out of it!

I won't lie, the last week and a half was not exactly cupcakes and kittens. Swamped in tricky workplace politics and wallowing in deadlines, I can't seem to pull myself out of a serious bout of ennui. Car troubles and family emergencies only compound the desire to curl up and hide. Last year's enthusiasm and kick-assery seem to have been replaced by a feeling more akin to Atreyu moping about in the swamp of sadness after losing Artax (Watch this clip without tearing up. I DARE you.). Alright, that's perhaps a tad melodramatic, but you get the picture. Its been bleak. Even the last few days of sunshine haven't done much more than make me feel resentful that I can't get out and enjoy them.

I woke up this morning determined to break out of this negativity. Fact: there is nothing cheerier than a pimento red skirt and a teal blouse. This is science, kids. I've got the proof right here. Bonus points for a secretary bow. Throw in a little (or a lot of) animal print, and you're unstoppable. Neutral heels and a classic bag keep it work friendly. Hair touseled by walking all over town putting up posters for the quilt show, smudgy nude lips from untold cups of black tea, and rosy cheeks from working in the garden (In the sun! Yes!) keep it grounded. And what do you know? A little color brightened my day.

My two year hunt for a vintage Dooney and Bourke all weather leather bag is at long last over. I found this perfectly proportioned creamy little goes-with-everything satchel at Value Village last week. Even better? It's been completely re-lined, so even though its exterior is gently worn vintage, the interior is pristine. Which is probably why it cost much less than the others on display. Ka-ching!

Leopard trench, Buffalo Exchange, $10
Vintage secretary blouse, thrifted, ?
Vintage wool skirt, thrifted, $7
Franco Sarto nude heels, TJ Maxx, $34
Vintage D&B bag, thrifted, $14

In other news, these photos were taken just before sunset, at 7:30 pm. The sun sets a little later every day, the drive-in theater in my home town is officially open for the season, and the hot dog guy is pushing his little aluminum cart up and down main street again. Spring is upon us, and I sometimes feel like I'm living inside an episode of Gilmore Girls.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day *sigh*


Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a list of options on your tax forms for you to indicate how you would prefer your taxes to be spent? You would simply check the box on the item/s you consider most important, and your tax dollars would be equally divided amongst them. The neo-cons could check military and defense spending, the bleeding hearts could check wellfare and low income housing subsidies, and anyone with half a lick of common sense and self preservation could check healthcare, roads, and EDUCATION. Then everyone would be happy and true Democracy would have its day in the sun. The end. Ok, so maybe I'm oversimplifying a wee bit...but there's merit in the concept, right?

Being patriotic just looks easy!

Anything would be preferable to the veritable circus that is "balancing the budget" in DC. Do these people even know what an actual budget is? When was the last time you think Boehner had to decide whether to stick with his preferred brand of toilet paper, or try the off brand that was on sale, so he could afford to buy laundry detergent, too? Has Nancy Pelosi ever had to think twice about whether she can afford to go out to Sizzler with her husband, or whether it might be cheaper (but just as nice!) to open a bottle of Three Buck Chuck and use up those leftover frozen appetizers from New Years?

Probably. Not.

So, let's talk about the budget for a sec...oh, not that one. That one deserves its own blog, with a paid staff, a grade A health plan, an in-house Starbucks, and a full-time rooftop sniper (What do you mean, how will we fund that? Cut education, of course!). I mean the one we all have, the one that pertains to how we personally spend our disposable income.

As I restructure my closet for spring, I have been thinking a lot about my history as a consumer of fashion, my relationship to money, and my adventures in self expression through the fun and versatile medium of clothing. I used to run a really tight ship around here. Once upon a time, when I was a college student selling hot dogs in front of a Home Depot (Best. job. ever. No joke.) I barely had enough money to make rent and eat at the same time, so shopping was limited to thrift stores. This kept me creative and made looking sharp a challenge. I really enjoyed and appreciated my carefully amassed collection of vintage and second-hand finds. Once I got my first job as a baker, I was making enough money to have a little more fun...which meant buying even more clothes from thrift stores, and shopping in the clearance sections at fancy places like Ross and Burlington Coat Factory. Clothes that hadn't been worn before? Heaven. I started moving away from vintage. Then I became a pastry chef, and suddenly I had enough disposable income to shop at Target. I stopped thrifting almost completely, and started buying new, new, new. Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Forever 21 came into play. Occasionally I would splurge on an item from Nordstrom Rack, and I could even afford a few things from Anthro's clearance section. Because I was miserable in my career, I shopped for comfort. My wardrobe got bigger, but not necessarily better.

So many choices! Where's my scotch?

Someone once told me that as wealth increases, so does the need to spend. I have found this to be eerily true; As you move up in life, into adulthood and positions of responsibility within the social hierarchy, it is tempting to believe that you must increase your possessions to match your status, buying bigger and fancier and more, advertising your accomplishments through accumulation. I have become determined not to fall into this trap. I don't want to spend all my hard earned money on clothes I'll never even have time to wear. After I switched careers, despite a distinct increase in my pay grade and the ever-present temptation to buy new work clothes for my new job, I've actually purged over 75% of my wardrobe. I focused on keeping the items that were of the best quality, the things that fit me best, and truly epitomized timeless style, without sacrificing playfulness and charm. I resurrected some of my most cherished vintage. I'm down to 100 items, and I'm genuinely happy with my wardrobe for the first time in years.

Why, yes, I am rather pleased with myself!

That said, I still go shopping! But these days I'm a little less concerned with getting more for less, a little less easily lured in by red ink and little orange stickers. I'm interested in keeping my wardrobe fresh and relevant, but I want to keep it right around 100 items (for perspective, we're talking coats, jackets, dresses, blouses, sweaters, pants, skirts, and jeans, but not shoes, accessories, t-shirts, or underpinnings.).   That seems reasonable to me, and it seems like all my clothes will get a fair shake. Now, when I buy something, its because I love it and it fits in with my style, not just because its cute and I can afford it and ten other things besides. This frees me up to spend a little more on truly remarkable items that fit into my existing wardrobe, like my Emerson Made jeans, or my space girl shoes from Modcloth, and allows me to keep an eye out for specific items that will fill gaps in my closet, like a deep blue pencil skirt, or a killer vintage kimono. I try to keep my clothing budget within $100 a month, but I allow for flexibility and "rollover"...for instance, if I only spend $50, I'll let myself spend $150 the next month, or if I spend $200, I'll try not to buy anything the month after. This, like most self-imposed limitations, is difficult! Right now I want this bag more than anything (Fancy Treehouse's styling only makes me want it more!), and I want it in time for Easter, dammit, but I already spent all my fun money, so I'll be good and wait. Unless you want to buy it for me? Yes? Just kidding. Sort of. *ahem*

Or, I could just stop crying and pet my rabbit. 

Actually, I'd probably just go ahead and get it, but it turns out I didn't have quite enough withheld from my paycheck for Federal income taxes ( Apparently I'm still poor, but not that poor. Confusing, I know.), and now I owe the Feds a pretty penny, which, at the moment, means I'm terrified of spending money on anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Don't worry, I'll get over it. Frivolity is in my bones. But, Boehner, if you're reading, please note that I would like that extra money to go to healthcare, roads, and EDUCATION, ok? Thanks, homeslice.

*Psssssst*And Nancy? Make sure Planned Parenthood gets a good chunk too. Losing access to low cost (or free!) checkups, birth control, and counseling on sexual health and family planning would throw off more budgets than just my own, sending the economy into a terrifying downward spiral as low income women everywhere STOPPED. BUYING. SHOES. This is serious, people.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't panic.

That is my little mantra for the week. I keep whispering it under my breath in a steady stream as I go about my errands and contemplate all I must accomplish in my office hours. Dontpanicdontpanicdontpanicdontpanic...Strangers in grocery stores have begun to look at me sideways. The Starbucks guy asked if I would rather have decaf.

I said I'd post Shop Well Curated by Tuesday, but here it is Thursday, and I haven't even photographed everything. Oof. I had obviously completely failed to take into account the staggering to-do list I would have this week as I prepare for the museum's largest event of the year. Literally, staggering. This morning I accepted a shipment of three wool quilts and an 1880s Pendleton wool blanket (Its amazing you guys. Pretty sure it deserves its own posting. Hell, it may get its own blog!), and you should have seen me stumbling about under the weight of the gigantic slippery bag o' woolens as I tried to navigate my way to the storage area. I couldn't see over the armful of bag, so I was hoping to access a deeper form of intuition, or maybe latent bat sonar or something. It didn't work. Instead I stubbed a toe, knocked a painting off the wall, and scuffed my Faryl Robins. Speaking of, if you are a 9 or a 10, check out Sea of Shoes/Atlantis Drygoods shoe sale! This mother-daughter team collects the most gorgeous designer shoes, and they are cleaning out their closet RIGHT NOW. I wish I had bigger feet. For real.

In a nutshell, Shop Well Curated will have to wait until the weekend. Now, where did I leave my towel?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Workin' on the weekend...

I like to keep things office casual on the weekends. Nothing too crazy, and I usually top it off with a snappy jacket, just to be safe. Wanna know a secret? A really good looking jacket cancels out a myriad of work wardrobe no-nos. I got this one at H&M. I'm typically underwhelmed by their quality, and this piece is no exception, but the fabric is good, and the cut is fantastic, so I made an exception. It didn't hurt that I got them to take $10 off because it had a missing button or two. Pssssssst! I am going to change the buttons anyway! Ahahahahahahaha!

Speaking of fast fashion, practically everything else I'm wearing came from F21. I placed a big ol' springtime order a couple weeks ago, and so far I have been really happy with everything I got! These jeans were meant to be cropped, but they fit me just right. I love the zippered ankles, and what you can't see here is that they are actually high waisted! The sweater is really lovely. The quality of the material is right up there with things I longingly fondle at Nordstrom and Anthro, and I love the woven embellishment and swingy silhouette. You can't see much of the little blouse underneath, because it is a tad chilly for chiffon, but fret not, I will be clubbing you over the eyeballs with it all summer, because it is the epitome of blue and white tribal print racerback asymmetrical ruffled perfection.

Jeans, F21, $24
Jacket, H&M, $30
Blouse, F21, $14
Sweater, F21, $30
Scarf, thrifted, $2
Irregular Choice shoes, Modcloth, $70
JPK clutch, TJ Maxx, $7

Since I've gotten some positive feedback on the "Shop Well Curated" idea, I'll be posting a few items on Tuesday. Keep yer eyes peeled!