Footloose and Fancy Free

A very long time ago a six year old boy I babysat looked down at my pink flowery flip flops and asked “why are you always so fancy?” I still smile when I remember that exchange. I don’t consider myself fancy. A fancy girl wears heels everywhere. A fancy girl reapplies lipstick and maintains a French manicure. A fancy girl wouldn’t think of trying to pass off Lululemon as real clothes.

My un-fanciness was on full display this past week at the beach with my family. I blew out my hair exactly once and managed to go barefoot 80% of the week. My beach look consisted of two J.Crew bikinis, my Target MC Hammer pants and the Stella & Dot Havana pendant. To add interest I applied multiple Flash Tats to an assortment of body parts. One afternoon I layered the MC Hammer pants with a fringed black tank top, which prompted AJ to observe that my shirt looked like an octopus.  

A long span of my lifetime was spent fancy. I distinctly remember wearing a black and white Ann Taylor flair waste dress with pink pointy stilettos to the airport in 2004. On our honeymoon in 2009 I wore my sky high teal wedding Louboutins to dinner at an Italian restaurant located atop a steep cobblestone hill in Capri.  

Today, with two small children and fallen arches from walking up hills in heels, mine is an incredibly paired down aesthetic of accessorized basics. My first instinct is to correct well meaning friends when they describe me as fancy or, better worse yet, a “fashionista.”  What others perceive as the quality of my clothing is actually the quirkiness of my character. I am totally comfortable in quirky. Fancy hurts my feet.

A 35-piece wardrobe makes it that much easier to get quirked up on a Monday morning, even after vacation. I wear this Tart Collections dress on repeat but keep it fresh with accessories. I’m passing off tan lines and a monogrammed OBX tumbler as critical elements of my fresh off the beach look.

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses, (2014); Tart Collections dress (2014); Hip to be Round belt (2014); J.Crew flip flops (2013); Kate Spade wedges in hand (2014); Loeffler Randal open work tote (2015); Hermes scarf tied on handle (2007); OBX Monogram Shop tumbler (2015)

The Force

AJ is obsessed with his new Darth Vader costume. He’s assumed the iconic role with impressive conviction for someone who has never actually watched a Star Wars movie. He even has the breathing down. Unfettered by humidity, DV stoically guards the driveway, synthetic black cape absorbing August heat, plastic robotic mask askew on his little face. In lieu of a light saber (on backorder) he practices anti-Jedi moves switching mommy’s skinny yellow J.Crew belt at family members.

Costumes dictate the quality of your behavior – and your audience’s reaction. Whether you’re a lady lobbying for beads on Bourbon St., in line at the bank in an army uniform, the only guy at the meeting without a tie or swathed in custom Christian Siriano and electric teal Christian Louboutins on your cold, rainy wedding day – costumes can grant you power or take it away.

I can be am obsessive about my appearance. Having two children under 3 has loosened my (weekend) standards but believe me I am just as compulsive about casual. Every ensemble must fit just so, coordinate and be appropriately accessorized. Why? Because if it doesn’t I am uncomfortable ALL. DAY. LONG. I can’t concentrate. I tug and over think and seek out mirrors to scrutinize. When my outfit is sorted my mind space is clear. I am empowered to perform and the world responds accordingly.

We went to the mall last night for flip flops and Shake Shack. After lengthy negotiation it was settled that AJ could wear his cape and mask, and we would leave the body suit at home. Matt requested that AJ stay on my side as we strolled through Lord & Taylor so he didn’t have be associated with the crazy kid in the Halloween costume. I didn’t mind. The Darth Vader costume empowers my little guy to strut like a big guy. I get it. AJ, I am your mother.

The Dark Side has inspired this week’s outfit choices, too. When all else fails (and half of your 35 items are at the dry cleaner) bet on black. 

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses, (2014); BCBG cuff earrings (2015); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant necklace, (2014); BCBG black asymmetrical tunic (2014); J.Crew Minnie pants (2012); Tahari blue peep toe flats (2012); Marc by Marc Jacobs Metrooptic cross body (2015); Lanvin tassle keychain (2014)

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); 14K gold hoop earrings (Mother’s Day gift, 2015); ASOS black dress (2014); Miguel Ases necklace (2012); Renvy sandals via Gilt.com (2014); Loeffler Randall open work tote (2015); Hermes scarf tied on handle (2009); Stella & Dot bangle (2013); David Yurman classic cable bracelet (2006)

What Happened in Vegas

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Vegas has a shelf life of 48 hours. On Thursday night the iconic city is sinfully charming. Hundred foot digital screens light up the Strip as the crowds swell beneath. A deafening EDM anthem repeats while the Ding! Ding! Ding! of a million slot machines reinforce the promise of winnings and revelry. The party has started! Let’s play.

Like the punishing glare of sunrise after late night at Drai’s, if you stay beyond Sunday afternoon, everything painful about Las Vegas compounds. Second hand smoke, dehydration and black jack losses, for example. Depart on Tuesday and you are lucky to get out with your life (or your wife).

I had delusions of leaving the adult playground with an authentic Hermes Collier De Chien cuff, purchased with winnings from an epic run of split eights after the dealer busted when I doubling down on a five and a six. Well that didn’t happen in Vegas so the cuff stayed.

Outfit wise, however, I was a winner. Three days of work mixed with two days of play requires the ultimate capsule collection, which I meticulously purchased* over the past month. My fashion formula was black, white and watermelon separates connected by a new Marc by Marc Jacobs multi-print cross body, new Sergio Rossi flat gold sandals and two of my favorite Hermes scarves. 

Back in VA, today’s outfit features three of my most beloved accessories. Hey, what’s a few grand to realize what I have at home is priceless?

Top outfit details: Hermes scarf as head wrap (2013); Joie silk jumper (2015); Sergio Rossi flat gold sandals (2015); Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Optical Stripe Crossbody via South Moon Under (2015); Gorjana Nina layered lariat necklace (2015)   

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Outfit details: Tart top (2015); J.Crew pencil skirt (2015); Hermes maxi twilly as belt (2014); Sergio Rossi flat gold sandals (2015); knock off Hermes Cuff via Party City (2014)

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Outfit details: South Moon Under high low tee shirt (2012); Banana Republic ruched skirt (2015);  Marc by Marc Jacobs Metropoli Optical Stripe Crossbody via South Moon Under (2015); Loeffler Randall sandals (2011). On AJ: Polo t-shirt; Baby Gap shorts, Nike Lebron James kicks. On Ashby: Baby Gap onsie and pants. On Custis: new Pet Smart collar thanks to Sylvia Mapp

*Newly purchased apparel has been rotated into my 35 piece capsule wardrobe, replacing less popular selections.

Highlight Reel

This week’s fashion themes were flat sandals, pendant necklaces and the ole pocket book elbow hook. Out of all of my blogged outfits so far, these looks feel the most like like “me.” Can you tell me why?

Outfit details: Hermes Maxi Twilly as head wrap (2014); Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); ASOS dress (2014); Stella & Dot Havana convertible pendant necklace; Sergio Rossi gold sandals (2015); Loeffler Randal Industry bag (2014)

Outfit details: Foster Grant aviator sunglasses (2015); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant necklace (2014); Helmut Lang twisted back tank (2014); Hermes scarf as belt (2007); Banana Republic skirt (2015); Loeffler Randal Industry bag (2014); Loeffler Randal gladiator sandals (2009)

Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Target/Mossimo red tank top (2014); J.Crew cardigan (2010); DVF skirt (2012); Manolo Blahnik gladiator sandals, originally yellow (2007); dyed black (2009)

Head Case

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This weekend I unearthed hundreds of vintage pictures. You know the kind we used to take on a camera that housed a film roll, which you then removed and dropped off at CVS to develop and pick up one week later? I scanned through these relics pictures contemplating two decades of fashion choices. From Gangsta Chic to Raver 1.0, Miss Steeple Chase to Bebe Goes to Vegas, mine was a vast and varied trend trajectory.

I have always prided myself on possessing a definitive personal style but my fashion moments seemed disconnected.  Unnerved, I looked closer, willing a pattern to emerge. And there it was, right on top of my head. Be it a bucket hat or a bandanna, beret or backwards visor, the only thing more prevalent than the one arm on hip pose was my enthusiasm for headwear.  

Why the obsession with headdress? I pondered this. Does it convey status? Nobility? Class distinction? Nope. Simply put, I find the head the perfect place to put an accessory. Makes you look. Plus a jaunty hat has an attitude that just resonates with me.

Twenty years later, only the quality of my scarf selection has changed. I’ve upgraded the bedazzled JLo-era bandanna for a collection of Hermes twill but the attitude remains. As they say, you can take the girl out of Norfolk but you can’t take the Naughty out of the girl.

Today’s outfit reflects my 2015 style – a settled, comfortable and colorful aesthetic, accented by a baby. Of course I had to throw on a gypsy wrap for good measure.

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Outfit details: Hermes scarf as headband (2008); Girls Day Out raw amethyst pendant, Charlottesville Farm Market (2015); J.Crew cardigan (2014); Tart Collections top (2014); J.Crew #2 Pencil Skirt (2012); Renvy by Gilt.com sandals (2014). On Ashby: Baby Gap onsie and bubble shorts

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Raver 1.0 in fairy wings, candy necklaces and a glitter crown, 1997

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Sporty spice goes to beach week in a Ralph Lauren bucket hat, 1997

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Naughty by Norfolk in a classic gangsta bandanna and Tommy zip neck, 1999

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Miss Bebe in a beret, 2001

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Steeplechase vibes at Gold Cup, 2006

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Etsy rosettes and a Cibu pin at Washington Life’s Young & the Guest List Party, 2009

Sleep Training 101

Recently I had the bright idea to bribe my toddler for sleep. If he stays in his own bed all night long he earns a new Lego set in the morning. I am proud to report that seven days and seven Lego starter sets later, this mommy feels quite refreshed. The arrangement is what corporate types call a WIN/WIN – except in the ways that it isn’t.

For instance, AJ now wakes at 6:02AM, on the dot, every morning. With rooster-like clockwork, he bounds into our room and bellows “I slept my own bed mommy, where’s my Lego set.”  Immediately after directing him to his prize he returns and demands that I build it. Have you ever tried to assemble Rockit the Mixle at 6:05 in the morning? I don’t know about you but my dexterity doesn’t peak until 9. 

Last Thursday I capriciously mentioned to AJ that I stopped by the Lego store. As the words left my mouth I recognized my first mistake. “Lemme see! Lemme see! Lemme see!” he repeated. I resisted, futiley, and finally let him peek inside the yellow bag. Mistake #2. “Give it to me!” he demanded. Slightly panicked, I realized my toddler negotiations were unravelling, quick. I had entered into a “mutually advantageous” agreement with a 3 year old who lacked impulse control and any concept of delayed gratification. Standing my ground, I calmly explained the difference between earning and demanding. This teaching moment earned me two bruised shins and a 45 minute meltdown. 

This morning, after watching Matt struggle to assemble Batwing, I reclaimed our power and declared that there would be no more Lego sleep prizes. To which AJ replied “OK, mommy. Tomorrow I want Iron Man.”  Fair enough.

Unlike pre-dawn City Bulldozer builds, today’s outfit was very easy to put together. Favorite skirt, Hermes scarf, reclaimed cashmere shell – 3 of 33 pieces – all within easy reach.

Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J. Crew summer cashmere shell (2007); J. Crew navy eyelet skirt (2012); Hermes scarf as belt (2014); DVF color block wedge (2014)

Showing My Stripes

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I love stripes. At least that’s the story my outfits are telling. Truth is, my propensity towards stripe selection is almost entirely subconscious. There is a Benton stripe dress on my mental summer shopping list and damned if I’m not wearing one right now. Didn’t even connect the dots. 

Last night we moved next door. Our new tenants don’t arrive until June and we’ve had the keys to the new place since late February. Schlepping a few items ten feet across the lawn has been a nightly ritual for several weeks. Yesterday was the final haul - beds and the like. Easy peasy, right? Not quite. 

The thing about having two homes right next to each other and no sense of urgency to vacate/occupy either is that you just kind of leave a pile of non-essentials behind. Apparently disorganized non essentials make me very anxious. Overwhelmed. Snappy. Impatient. Okay, I was SUCH a bitch last night. After six weeks of closet reduction, space clearing, almost daily yoga and meditation - was it all just a delusion of mindfulness? 

That’s why we call yoga a practice,” whispers the tiny guru in my head. “For goodness sake you’re not enlightened yet! “

Thanks, tiny guru. Any chance you could apologize to Matt for me?

So yeah, last night, when I was confronted with my deep seeded need to be in control at all times, I showed my base nature. But unlike that bitchy tiger, I am pretty sure I can eventually change my stripes. Or at least stop buying more.

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Top Outfit Details: Gap denim shirt (2015); Tart Collections striped dress (2014); Tangerine cashmere scarf, origins unknown (2012); Chuck Taylor All-Stars (2006)
Bottom Outfit Details: Hermes scarf as head band (2013); Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J. Crew striped rolled sleeve tee shirt (2015); layered over J. Crew poppy silk cami (2015); Joe’s Jeans skinny fatigue pants (2010); Christian Louboutin Simple 85 pumps (2007); Loeffler Randall Industry Bag (2014); Kendra Scott big ass cocktail ring (2013); David Yurman Classic cable bangle (2006); Nonexistent manicure

This girl cleaned out her closet, and what happened next was epic.

I spent last weekend peddling my fashion baggage all over Northern Virginia. It took three consignment stores (who does Current Boutique think she is, anyway?), one for-the-sisters pile and several trash bags earmarked Goodwill to shed my worn wears. So how does it feel? Simply put, it feels really good.

The creator of Project 333 suggests that clearing the physical and mental space previously occupied with shopping and storing purchases allows for richer, more meaningful experiences to enter your life. So far, its biggest impact on my life is the emotions I’ve left behind. You know that feeling when it’s 8:35 7:35 and you are frantically looking for a work outfit but you can’t even slide garments down the rack to select anything because your clothes are packed so tightly? I do not miss that feeling. Or the one when you try on a dress that you bought online for the fifteenth time and it still looks weird but it’s been over 30 days and now you can’t return it. Don’t miss that one, either.

Before I curtailed impulse shopping and minimized my wardrobe I routinely felt guilt, annoyance and disdain towards my closet. Now I feel proud, creative, savvy and mindful about pretty much everything. Three months ago I could produce any number of excuses to buy something new. Now I can’t find an excuse to buy anything at all! In fact, I missed the boat on these Loeffler Randal sandals and these J.Crew flats in gold, both planned purchases for my summer capsule, because I delayed the purchase and now they are sold out. On the bright side, I saved myself $568.

How’s this for a rich and meaningful experience? On Sunday night Matt and I attended the annual Blue Jeans Ball to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Impulsively, we bid $700 on a three night stay in Paris – and won! That opportunity was made possible by Project 333 – for once, an extra $700 was actually sitting in my bank account. Plus it was for a good cause. ‘Cause we’re going to Paris!

The round up of outfits in today’s post all share simple foundations highlighted by joyful pops of color. What a way to live.

Top Outfit Details: DVF wrap dress (2012); Joie military jacket (2014); Tangerine cashmere scarf, origins unknown (2012); Loeffler Randal Tasmin ponyhair pumps (2014); Loeffler Randall Industry Bag (2014); Stella & Dot Norah Chandelier earrings (2014); Stella & Dot Rebel pendant (2014)
Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J.Crew necklace (2013); LA Made dress via Stitch Fix (2015); Coach purple Legacy tassel cross body bag (2012); Loeffler Randal gold gladiator sandals (2009)
Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Stitch Fix top (2015); Hermes scarf as belt (2009); J.Crew Minnie pants (2013); Elie Tahari teal peep toe flats (2013) Coach Legacy purple tassel cross body bag

6 Capsule Wardrobe Staples

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This infographic looks a lot better on Polyvore.  

Because the internet loves itself a random numbered list, here are my Project 333 Spring ‘15 Top 6 capsule wardrobe staples. Selected based on versatility, frequency of use, ability to anchor or connect an outfit and great fit, these items are best all around awesome.

  1. Gap Denim Shirt, 2015 - This shirt was my last mindless purchase of 2015 and it’s a winner. You can’t deny the cool factor of a denim shirt and I find myself reaching for it day after day. 
  2. Kiton Navy Blue Blazer, 2010 - So many good things to say about this jacket. Beyond classic styling and impeccable tailoring, the best thing about this Italian made blazer is that it’s valued north of $1000 but I scored it for free at the Greater Washington DC Clothing Swap.
  3. J.Crew Navy Blue Eyelet Skirt, 2012 - I could anchor 25 different outfits with this skirt. Navy blue is my favorite Spring neutral because you can pair it with virtually any color. Some fashionable people even wear navy blue with black. I do not. Reminds too much of St. Pius. 
  4. J. Crew Minnie Pants, 2013 - The perfect pant. The fit is on point and the angle at which they hit the ankle allows for easy styling with flats or heels. Classic and modern at once. J. Crew just gets it. 
  5. Halogen Nude Stacked Sandal Bootie, 2015 - Versatile, cheap and on trend. Marked down from $99 to $39 on Nordstromrack.com, these were a respectable purchase for Spring. Not that jazzed about the quality or construction (the leather is flimsy) but you get what you pay for with shoes. Which is why I usually pay a lot of money for shoes. Dammit.
  6. Hermes Eperon d'Or Remix Maxi Twilly Scarf, 2014 - My heart for an Hermes scarf! A signature accessory, this French beauty was a birthday gift from mon Mari. What makes her unique is her shape: she’s not a classic square but a long wide rectangle. Her vibrant color pallet and endless tie combinations earn her awesomeness status as my go-to outfit maker.

This week’s featured outfits utilize half of the Top 6 - can you find them?

Top Outfit: Street style selfie on timer in a stairwell at Towson Town Center
Top Outfit Details: BCBG asymmetrical tunic, 2013; J.Crew Minnie pants, 2013; Butter teal heels, 2012; Chloe Havana sunglasses, 2014; Stella & Dot Rebel Pendant, 2014; Party City teal Hermes knockoff cuff, 2014; Fendi B-Mix breast pump tote, 2007
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See what I mean about navy blue? Matches everything and not as graphically harsh as black.
Outfit Details: BCBG draped Dayton cardigan, 2013; No name navy pleated dress from TJ Maxx, 2011; Hermes Eperon d'Or Remix Maxi Twilly, 2014; Halogen booties, 2015; YSL Muse handbag, 2008; Chloe Havana sungleasses; Stella & Dot Norah chandelier earrings, 2014; Diamond disk pendant (2014) and floating citrin pendant (2010) gifts from Matt