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)

U Can’t Touch This

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Yesterday I emerged from the shower to find my husband watching the babies an episode of In Living Color. The iconic Fly Girls nailed the Running Man to Calloway’s 1989 hit “I Wanna Be Rich.” Instantly I am in 7th grade, feeling all the Fly Girl feelings. These middle school style muses embodied 1990: Hair, dance moves, attitude. A pitch perfect blend of hip-hop and cheerleading in Merry Go Round crop tops. 

The throwback theme followed me to Tysons Corner Center where I encountered the Vans window display: Two mannequins in tie-waist flannels and high waist jeans posed under the directive: “Bring Back the 90’s!” I snapped a snarky picture to share with my Facebook friends. Subtext: “Silly children.” Translation: “We are old.”

The generation gap happens slowly. First Michael Jackson dies. Then one day you glance through Glamour magazine and find that you can’t relate to a damn article about Tinder hook up etiquette or what to wear to a boozy brunch. And then the Vans store packages your teenage wardrobe as “ironic vintage.”

It’s unsettling to realize that you are no longer the target audience. I remember the day I came home from the mall with a pair of pink peace sign earrings. My dad was all “do you even get the significance?” He was thinking Woodstock and I was channeling NKOTB.

Today’s outfit proves that fashion is truly cyclical as it just occurred to me that I’m wearing Hammer pants. Can’t touch this. 

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Outfit details:  Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Stella & Dot Havana pendant necklace (2015); Pave disk necklace (2014); J.Crew embroidered cuff 92015); Gilt.com Firth tank top (2012); Target Mossimo “Hammer” pants (2015); Sergio Rossi flat sandals (2015);  Loeffler Randall open work tote (2015); Hermes scarf tied on handle (2014)

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)

Throwing Shade

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I don’t get out much but when I do I lose my sunglasses. Two Saturdays ago we celebrated a friend’s birthday and I left my Chloe Havana’s on his rooftop deck. Why my expensive sunglasses were on the deck and not my face is commensurate to the amount of wine I consumed before taking them off.  

Sunday morning dawned, brilliantly sunny, and my first instinct was to gather the kids for a Neiman Marcus field trip to replace the lost glasses. Reason my pounding headache prevailed and we got pancakes instead. After breakfast, we hit up Rite Aid for $13 Foster Grant aviators to hold me over until I could retrieve my perfectly good (did I mention expensive?) Italian pair.

This Saturday we visited a dear friend’s home to shower her baby-to-be. Kisses and love and a few Pinots later I left behind the Foster Grants. This friend knows me well. When she called to say her husband found them she casually mentioned she was confused by my sunglasses selection. “I told him those can’t belong to Jenn; all of her sunglasses are Prada or something.”  I explained the irony and we both had a laugh. Some behavior never changes but, I am proud to report, some behavior can.  

Today’s outfit is topped with my retrieved Chloe Havanas. I wear them all the time because are nice glasses, with polarized lenses and a good weight. The Foster Grant pair looked fine but they were cheaply made, with a flimsy frame and loose lenses that popped out the first time AJ threw them down the stairs. Today’s lesson: Invest in quality sunglasses. Also if you want a pair for free, invite me over for wine.

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Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Tart Collections dress (2015); Hermes scarf as belt (2009); Amethyst pendant (2015); Gold hoops, Mothers Day gift from Matt (2015); Kate Spade gold wedge sandals (2014); Coach Legacy purple cross body as clutch (2012)

Orange Crush

They say that an attraction to the color orange is an indicator of creativity. This makes sense because orange is also the color of the sacral chakra, which governs creativity. I must be creative - or maybe just influenced by the UVa fans in my family - because paired with navy blue, this summertime hue is popping up all over me. 


Outfit details: Chloe Havana sunglasses, (2014); J.Crew cashmere cardigan (2012); Tart Collections dress (2014); Stella & Dot Havana pendant necklace (2015); Stella & Dot Waverly Petite crossbody bag (2015); Kate Spade gold wedge sandals (2014)

Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); Peter Som for Bergdorf Goodman linen top (2008); Diane Von Furstenburg skirt (2007); Brian Atwood nude peeptoe pumps (2008);  Stella & Dot Waverly Petite crossbody bag (2015)

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)

Alternate Realities

I have been awake since 5:45AM. Someone left the sunroof open in my car and it rained. There is a pimple the size of Manassas on my lip. The baby is congested and teething. It feels impossible to get anything cleaned or organized with a full time job and small children. Our refrigerator is very small. Daycare costs more than a mortgage in a normal town. I waste too much money on Starbucks. I am having a bad hair day. 

Or

Our new home has a playroom. It takes 14 minutes to get to my office from my driveway. I am paid to make Cibu hair products. People love Fresh Crunch pickles. It is nearly summertime. The bruises on my triceps are from extended side crow. I’ve been blessed with beautiful children, a very cute dog and an excellent cook for a husband. Everything is funny. The peonies are blooming. Life is full of creative opportunity.

Which of version of my story is more interesting? Which version of your story do you tell each day?

Today’s outfit is so much more put together than warranted for my level of fatigue. Why? Because last night I said eff it, let the baby cry a little in her crib and ruthlessly edited my summer capsule down to 33 items, exactly. More on that story later. 

Outfit Details: Chloe Havana sunglasses (2014); J.Crew white button down shirt (2012); Hermes scarf as belt (2009); J.Crew #2 Pencil Skirt (2012); Brian Atwood nude peep toes (2008); Coach Legacy tassel cross body (2012); Fake ass Hermes cuff from Party City (2014)