Friday, August 31, 2012

August Purchases

My purchases were pretty simple this month. I bought one thing.

J Crew

1. Schoolboy Blazer in Modern Red, $198.00

I’m gradually developing the following shopping strategy: buy quality, staple items from well-respected retailers and find the fun stuff at the thrift or discount stores. I won’t pay $200 for a polyester dress at Anthropologie, but I’d spend the same amount on a wool blazer from J Crew. I shell out for quality footwear and bags (I prefer leather, despite not eating meat). I expect cotton, linen, silk, wool or leather fabrication for a major purchase. These are my wardrobe foundations.

As the quality and number of likely wearings decreases, so does my price point. I won’t buy anything made of synthetics that is priced at more than $60. Trendy items aren’t worth spending much money on. And, although I love to shop Target and Forever 21 for the “wardrobe frosting,” I prefer to find these items at the thrift store. It feels much less wasteful to get only a few uses out of something that someone else has already worn.

Of course, I’m always hopeful that I’ll find a quality basic at the thrift store (like my Jones New York striped tee or my Seychelles sandals), but I can’t count on the thrift gods to grant me this boon on a regular basis. Conversely, an expensive pair of shoes can fall apart after a few wearings. But buying them from a company that stands behind their product makes returns or repairs easier.

This shopping strategy makes a lot of sense to me, and it always has, but it’s taken me awhile to get here. I absolutely hate seeing a huge portion of my budget go to one item. But it’s usually worth it in the end!

August total: $198.00

Total spending for the year: $974.72.

Under the HR Radar

Today, I celebrate eight years of wearing wacky ensembles to work at the headquarters of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods company. And not once have I been reprimanded for my wardrobe.

Shirt, Christopher & Banks (thrifted). Dress, Mossimo. Belt, thrifted. Bag, Charming Charlie. Pumps, Gianni Bini (hand-me-down from Londyn). Earring, Green Mountain (gift). Bracelets, Target, Claire’s and vintage. Rings, gift, vintage, and heirloom.

This week’s episode of What Not to Wear featured Rebecca, a woman who was counseled for her office outfits. Rebecca was sent home to change at least once and said that her ensembles played a part in her company’s decision to let her go. I really connected with her fearless, colorful, pattern-mixing style, so I had empathy for Rebecca. When she came out in this outfit, I stuck up for her:

I said to Beefy, “If a young, thin, beautiful woman were wearing this outfit, she’d be considered stylish.” In fact, add a blogger bun and she’d probably be on the front page of Chictopia. I felt like Rebecca was being picked on for more than her clothing.

Beefy disagreed, saying that fit was the issue: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from What Not to Wear, it’s that you can wear anything you want as long as it fits properly.”

Hillary recently left me this comment: “I have learned I can get away with anything at work as long as I am neat, tidy, pressed, washed, hair done and covered up. Crazy dress and shoes? OK as long as they are ironed and my hair looks nice.”

Personally, I believe my secret to wearing the cray cray to the office is that I conduct myself in an extremely professional manner. I’m on time. I don’t gossip. I treat my coworkers well. I’m organized. And I produce excellent work.

I’d love to hear your opinion. What’s the trick to dressing creatively yet remaining employed? Youth? Weight? Beauty? Fit? Modesty? Grooming? Behavior? Results?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Neon Lips and Toes

After donning a bunch of neutrals (brown, black, navy, and denim), I found myself craving bright accents. I completed the look with electric orange lips and acid green pumps.

Shirt, Old Navy. Dress, Richard Chai for Target. Belt, Deena and Ozzy. Bag, Fossil (gift). Pumps, Colin Stuart. Earrings, Monica D. Necklace, thrifted. Cuff, Target. Rings, vintage and Jan Michaels San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Swish Swash

I felt super ladylike with this full skirt and silk scarf swishing in the breeze.

Jacket, Forever 21. Dress, Jones New York. Scarf, Calypso St Barth for Target. Purse, Charming Charlie. Shoes, BCBGeneration. Earrings, Target (spraypainted by me). Rings gift and vintage. Bangles, Target.

The ladylike feeling ended when I finished the long walk to my music teacher’s house. I discovered that the friction between my computer bag and dress had caused the skirt to creep up with every step. I’m not sure how much of my backside was exposed, but it was certainly more than I would have liked. The breeze sure felt nice, though.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pop of Brown

It’s pretty standard to accessorize a black and white outfit or garment with a “pop of color.” Sometimes, though, that seems too predictable. How about a “pop of brown?”

Top, Jones New York (thrifted). Skirt, Billabong. Moccasins, Minnetonka. Headband, Forever 21. Necklace, Zad. Bracelet, Zad. Bag, Charming Charlie.

I doubt the phrase “pop of brown” is going to catch on. Add an extra “o” and the meaning has changed entirely.

Some more black and white with a pop of brown:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sporty Sunday: A Different Kind of Race

I may be a convert to “extreme” races. The Pikes Peak Ascent (half marathon) was the most fun I’ve ever had at a racing event. It was so different from my past halves (Heart Mini and Flying Pig).

Course: the half marathons I’ve previously run were loops or out-and-backs on paved roads. Both had hilly sections, but were mostly flat. The Pikes Peak Ascent starts on a paved road, but soon transitions to a dirt road and then a steep trail. The trail surface ranged from crushed rock, to forest floor, to solid granite. Running on pavement is hard on the knees, but stepping from boulder to boulder offers even less cushion! The Pikes Peak trail is relentlessly uphill (an elevation gain of 7,815 feet). Each time I reached one of the few and brief downhill or flat sections, I took a moment to appreciate the sensation of standing upright. And then I leaned into the mountain, again.

A line of brightly dressed racers highlight the switchbacks above the treeline.

Pace: I never expected to run up the trail. First of all, I wasn’t able to practice running up a 13-mile, steep grade at altitude. Secondly, the trail is often too narrow to pass others. Most of us completed the race at a fast walk. At times, we even came to a dead stop, waiting for slower folks to navigate a tight turn or squeeze. I run half-marathons in Cincinnati at a 9:30-ish pace. I completed this event at an average of a 24 minute-per-mile pace. It is possible to run up the trail (my neighbor made it up in 2:51), but you’ve got to train for it and start at the head of the pack.

Spectators: the Cincinnati Flying Pig course is lined with well-wishers holding signs and shouting encouragement. Due to the remote nature of the Ascent, I only saw spectators at the beginning of the race and at the end. So it was up to the participants to encourage one another. I hooted and hollered and cheered on everyone I passed. In fact, I might have been a little annoying! But the activity energized me and, I hope, motivated others.

Support: despite the difficulty accessing the trail, the race organizers were able to provide water, Gatorade, and food every few miles. Twice, a hose was dragged in to refill personal water bottles. Elsewhere, the volunteers packed in water and distributed it from pitchers and cups. In between stops, we were on our own. There were no quick stops at convenience store or trays of orange slices offered by friendly spectators.

Medical support was similarly limited. Members of the local search and rescue were on hand at refreshment stops and at a few other locations. (I’m guessing they chose the additional spots based on past years’ incidents.) Once, we all moved aside as emergency personnel ran down the trail past us, but I didn’t see any cases of medical emergencies, myself. Beefy did report seeing vomiting at the top and at least one person carried up the mountain.

And speaking of vomiting and passing out, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the Hash House Harriers for offering beer halfway up the Golden Stairs. As we climbed the last few hundred feet to the top of the mountain, we were invited to pause, enjoy some Pabst Blue Ribbon, and appreciate the view. I was sure to limit my drink to only a few ounces.

Trash: water was provided in disposable cups and designated “trash zones” were marked for a few yards following each rest stop. We were instructed to drop our used cups and other garbage on the trail in these zones for clean-up by volunteers. Outside of the zones, we packed it out. I was pleased to see very little litter left by the race participants ahead of me.

Restrooms: I’m accustomed to the familiar slap of porta-potty doors along the race course. On the trail up Pikes Peak, though, one peed with nature or not at all.

Camaraderie: I’m an antisocial runner. I train alone and I plug into my iPod for most of a race. The Pikes Peak events disallow use of headphones. Given the trail conditions and the crowding, it isn’t safe to disconnect with audio entertainment. More importantly, I’d have missed out on the most fun aspect of the event: interacting with the other participants! Many of us were racing alone and made connections on the trail to pass the time and provide encouragement. I struck up multiple conversations and made a “race buddy,” too. Bill and I started chatting a few miles in and stuck together for the remainder of the race. He’s from Colorado Springs and was determined not to let a “flat-lander” kick his butt.

My new friend Bill. Pikes Peak is the brown mountain, behind him.

Views: the Cincinnati races are not ugly. The city skyline, river, and bridges are picturesque. But it can’t compare to the views offered on the trail up Pikes Peak. I was enchanted, early on, by the forest, rock formations, and quaint footbridges. Once we left the treeline, the views blew me away. I reminded myself, often, to look up from the trail and appreciate the scenery. (This invariably resulted in me tripping, but was totally worth it.)

I usually leave a race low on energy and glad to be done. After the Ascent, I was totally high. I had a donut at the summit, danced in line while awaiting transportation, and leapt off the bus in Manitou Springs. I can’t wait to race up Pikes Peak again next year!

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Second Try

For Beefy’s dad and stepmother’s 20-year anniversary, I had a crisis of “what to wear.” I spent a lot of time staring at my closet and trying on outfits. The first, completed attempt was deemed “too fancy.” My second was just right. I’m glad I didn’t have to try for a third. That would have made us late.

Vest, Express (thrifted). Tank, Deep Los Angeles. Skirt, Mossimo. Shoes, BCBGeneration. Earrings, Pangaea. Cuffs, thrifted and Urban Outfitters. Rings, gift and vintage. Bag, Carlos Santana.

Throw Away the Key

We took these photos in front of a tiny little chapel near Thomas More College. However, due to the framing, cropping, and bars on the entrance, it looks like I’ve just escaped from a cell, instead

Shirt, Christopher & Banks (thrifted). Dress, Frederick’s of Hollywood. Hat, Target. Bag, Charming Charlie. Sandals, Lela Rose for Payless. Earrings, Monica D. Pendants, gift and thrifted. Bracelet, thrifted. Rings, gift and vintage.

Honestly, church has always felt like prison to me, so I guess the images aren't far from the truth.

Photos by Beefy Muchacho Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 35 mm 1:1.8G lens.

Three Legged Capsule

I’ve spent the last nine days remixing the hell out of four dresses. They were the backbone of my wardrobe for vacation in Denver and business in LA.

And there were two outfits I didn’t photograph (Saturday after the race and Monday night)!

After nine days, I’m a little sick of these dresses (and they are all due for a wash!) but I’m ready to wear that blazer again next week.