New year, new blogified resolutions

Many people don’t think much of New Year’s Resolutions, but I love them. What better time to sit back, reflect on the year behind you and get excited about the year ahead?

As a new blogger, I thought the New Year would be a great opportunity to reflect on my goals for blogging in the coming year. 
  1. Write, write, write: I would like to continue including more thought-provoking topics that provide rich opportunities for writing, such as I did when I discussed Alexa Chung's thrifting endeavor. Writing challenges me in a way nothing else does, and is a wonderful creative outlet. I do worry that my personal style blog will somehow evolve into a journal, which I am looking to avoid. Hopefully if I keep my focus on fashion and style, this won't happen.
  2. Increase my followers: Through the IFB Network, I've learned that one way to increase followers is to shamelessly promote my blog through their site. I've been participating more in their forums, putting in friend requests to other bloggers that inspire me, and submitting my work on my profile page. I am up to nine followers now (yay!), all of whom I am deeply appreciative of. My short-term goal is to reach 50 followers.
  3. Make more connections: There are so many fashion and style bloggers who have galvanzed me to start my own blog. Reaching out to them by commenting on their recent posts is an easy way to show my appreciation and hopefully, make some kind of connection. I'm learning that the blogging world is largely based on personal connections, and I'd like to be a part of it.
  4. Quit comparing myself to other bloggers: This is the most challenging resolution I'm setting. I follow so many style blogs, all of which seem much more professional and well, stylish than mine. The authors have thousands of followers. They are confident and glamorous in their photos. They have sponsors. They write beautifully, and their advice is astute. While working on my goals, I'm going to try not to compare myself to other bloggers. I'm new, and I have a lot to learn. I'll get there with time and hard work.
  5. I will set tangible, short-term goals for my blog: Breaking down goals for the month are an easy way to feel I've achieved something when I meet them. For example, this month I put myself on a no-jean challenge. It was wonderful because it inspired me to wear things I normally steer away from, such as skirts and dresses. However, I didn't post often enough about this challenge. If I had limited it over the course of a week, I would've have become distracted by other topics. A short-term, strictly focused goal is easier to focus on.
I'm curious - what your goals are for this upcoming year? How do you plan to carry them out?

Loft cardigan; J Crew button-down; Gap chinos;ancient Naturilizer ballet flats; diamond cross necklace

Fashion-related ridiculousness, or why I forgo pantyhose

Back in August, The Atlantic's "Daily Dish" reader-question was, "What widely accepted practice, custom or societal norm do you regard as irrational, absurd, offensive, silly, nonsensical, counterproductive, or morally wrong?"

Writes Conor Friedersdorf,
Perhaps 200 people responded, and the most frequent answer was that it makes no sense to say "God bless you" after someone sneezes. Lots of readers also lodged complaints against eating meat, mistreating animals, believing in God, practicing organized religion, driving SUVs, and the societal practice of pairing off in monogamous relationships.
I love questions like this. They provoke me to engage in my favorite pastime - makings lists of things that irritate and antagonize me. Here my top five fashion-related things that I consider ridiculous, completely illogical, and just plain wrong:

1. High heels. Yes, I understands they make your legs look fabulous. But they shorten your achilles tendon, prevent you from moving as quickly and efficiently as we were born to, and HURT. No to high heels! (This largely comes from the fact that I can't even look at a pair of high heels without spontaneously blistering.)

2. I'll say it: female beauty standards are whack. The practice of shaving one's legs (and in recent years, the va-jayjay) started because the male facial razor industry wanted to expand its market. It's screwed up that society expects women to rid of naturally-occurring body hair, and considers them disgusting if they don't. To do this, most women take knives and tweezers to their skin several times a week. I dutifully get rid of my hair, too, and like the appearance of stubble-free legs, but that's one of the things that has always struck me as really weird when you think about it.

3. Bikinis. Not because I think they're morally wrong. It just baffles me that just because it's a different material, it's completely fine for women to walk around in public in what's basically underwear. But don't you dare show your lacy bra! Slut!

4. Pantyhose. Worst. Mechanisms. Of. Torture. Ever. Invented.

5. Thongs. If your pants are so tight that flashing the outline of your underwear though them is a genuine concern, then your pants are too freaking tight.

Today I went with a pantyhose-free, high heel-less, thong absent outfit. I did shave my legs, though. I might be bucking society, but at least I'm comfortable.

Anthropologie button-down; Gap camisole (underneath); Gap Out cargos; Forever 21 oxfords; Forever 21 necklace and bracelet

Not a girl, not yet a woman

This summer I met a neighbor of mine while accompanying our children to our community pool. At one point we became entranced by an infant splashing in the water, and she mentioned that she was having baby pangs. "I'm too old to have a baby", she mentioned, "but you're young. You should absolutely have another."

Okay, first of all, this woman could not have possibly been younger than me. If I had to guess-timate her age, I'd say she was around the same as me - upper 30's, perhaps a couple of years older. On the way home, I started giving the subject of pregnancy more thought. Truthfully, and especially since my 36th birthday, I think of myself as too old for most things. Too old to wear vinyl leggings, too old to go to clubs, and certainly too old to have another baby. However, much of the time I feel like a kid playing house. I feel a lot younger than 36.  I toy around with the idea of coloring my hair pink. And my love affair with tattoos (I have ten) has only increased since getting my first one three years ago. I'm a married mom to three children and yet most of the time I feel about fourteen years old. I'm not a girl, but I sure as hell don't feel like a woman. What gives?

Perhaps my problem is that I rely on very specific, somewhat stereotypical ideas of girl and woman. Girls are innocent and fearless. They are encouraged to experiment and try new things, whether it's sports, clothing, or hair color. Girls go on road trips, where they take photos with Holga cameras and manage to look gorgeous without washing their hair for three days. Girls shop at Urban Outfitters and American Apparel and Forever 21. They are creative, free-spirited and fun.

Women, on the other hand, are hardened and self-serving. They take pilates and daydream about vaginal reconstruction and vacations in St. Barts. Women shop at places like Nordstroms and Ann Taylor. Tattoos, piercings, and wildly colored hair are frowned upon. They balance their checkbooks and pay the mortgage and cook a balanced meal for their family every night.

I think I encompass qualities of both girls and women. I have multiple tattoos. I adore Forever 21. I'm a bit naive and have an overly active imagination. I also have a mortgage and stretch marks. I feel old when I see clusters of teenagers emerge from some mall store like Abercrombie and Finch or American Eagle, giggling and texting. At 36, I definitely don't think hanging out at the mall is fun anymore, but I did catch myself a few months ago feeling really proud that I'd managed to go to the dentist. At some point in my life, I'll probably stop patting myself on the back for "adult" things like that, and then maybe I'll really be a woman.

I think this outfit embodies both girlish and womanly components. The twirly skirt and tied shirt  makes me feel young and light-hearted, but those heels are sturdy and serious. And those are definitely not the legs of a girl.

Thrifted Ann Taylor chambray shirt; vintage gray tee shirt (underneath); Forever 21 skirt; J Crew tights; Jessica Simpson booties; Forever 21 necklace; Frye clutch.

My battle against rainy day gloom

Today dawned chilly and overcast. It is the perfect day for old movies, new books, and mugs of herbal tea while snuggling under an old quilt.

Truthfully, I am a girl that thrives in sunshine. Dreary days make me feel, well, dreary. I easily sink into a depression. I get antsy and itchy and morose. While some people might find an endless stretch of sunshiney weather monotonous, I can't imagine living in a climate without it, which is why I'm so grateful to be living in Texas.

Perhaps I'd be more well-rounded if I learned to embrace rainy days. Days like today seem perfectly tailored for poets, artists and other creative types. They hang out in coffee shops scribling into notebooks and pasting things into scrapbooks. They are the kind of people who drink whiskey in dive bars in the middle of the afternoon, and drive rusting old pickup trucks or vintage motorcycles. They engage in long, esoteric conversations with strangers they've just met. Bright sunny days dry up their talent and put them on edge. Chipper people make them bristle.

I imagine the slightly shabby, somewhat glamorous life rainy day people live. Their homes are cave-like and decorated in Gothic splendor, with heavy dark furniture, floor-grazing damask drapes, and light fixtures made from iron. Stacks of dusty books line their hallways. There is always a roaring fire in the fireplace, and a fully stocked bar with absinthe and red wine. Rainy day types listen to Classical music from the Romantic period and experimental jazz. They light incense, collect Art Deco jewelry, and shuffle around in vintage embroidered capes and slippers made from crushed velvet. They somehow manage to look deranged and gorgeous all at the same time.

While I indulge in the occasional glass of whiskey, I could never be a rainy day person. For one, my home features ground-in Cheerios in the carpet and smells of Eau de Playdoh. Most poetry makes me cry. Overcast days don't encourage my creativity; instead, they make me practically suicidal.

I decided to fight today's creeping rainy day depression with a cheerfully colorful outfit. 

Thrifted vintage 1950's embroidered cardigan; thrifted J Crew silk blouse; thrifted Gap pants; Vince Camuto ballet flats; Louis Vuitton pochette; Nordstrom Rack dragonfly necklace; Marc Jacobs watch; vintage diamond tennis bracelet; Betsey Johnson daisy studs

Military service: Taking on cargo

If you read fashion blogs, celebrity websites, fashion or gossip magazines, or are an avid shopper like myself then you'll remember that this summer and fall ushered the return of the cargo pant. Largely responsible for initiating this trend was J Brand's Houlihan cargo. Made from a super-soft Japanese twill, this pant featured a slimmer cut leg than the traditional cargo, removing much of the bulk typically associated with this style. A low waist, aggressive moto stitching and long zippers at the ankles completed the look. The military pants were aptly named, too - after Hot Lips Houlihan of the movie and television series “M*A*S*H.”

I first learned of these cargos in May through The  blog's author raved about the fit, calling them "pretty and feminine", with a "surprisingly flattering" fit on the butt. In the weeks that followed the popularity of these pants exploded. In a matter of a month they were sold out at Bloomingdales, Bergdorf's and Barneys New York. Celebrities adopted them as a uniform - Beyonce caught a flight in them, Rachel Bilson fetched coffee in them, Kate Bosworth wore them to walk her dog, and Gwen Stefani dressed in them to cavort with her son at the playground. These pants were everywhere. Other premium denim companies reinvented them in denim, cotton, and even leather. Hell, even the NY Times did a feature on them in their style section.

Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I should scoop up a pair of these cargos myself. I'm always looking for an alternative to my beloved jeans, and they seemed like the ideal replacement. Then I saw the price tag: $230. Bargain shopper that I am, there is no way I'd consider spending that much on a pair of freaking pants. I don't care who wore them. Unless they could make me dinner and dispense cash like an ATM, these cargos were a personal don't.

Flash forward to October. I was waltzing through The Gap outlet near my home when I saw a rack of cargos that looked suspiciously like Houlihans - same cut, same wash, even the same long zippers at the ankles. At 1/3 the price they enticed me even further. I tried them on at the store, decided I needed them, and brought them home.

Here's my review: They are very low-waisted. If I was wearing them in the summer with a tank or tee, they'd practically require a bikini wax. I'm not the biggest fan of exaggerated low-waisted pants. Such a cut can be very flattering for petite women, because they elongate the torso. However, I hate feeling like I have to tug on my clothes to keep them on, and that's the effect these pants had on me. Furthermore, they stretched out a bit more than I expected, resulting in the dreaded baggy butt. It's possible I bought a size too large, though.

They also created a bit of a shoe conundrum. There's no doubt that these are pants best worn with a heel. However, they seem too casual to be paired with a stiletto or pump. I went with flats, and they look kind of sloppy to me.

J Crew denim jacket; Forever 21 sweatshirt; thrifted Gap buttondown; Gap Outlet cargos; Juicy Couture ballet flats

Despite my smile, I am not happy with this outfit. I had to go through a lot of pics to find these three. I've decided to bring these pants back to the store and exchange them for a smaller size. Hopefully, that'll do the trick.

Dress Code: How to survive winter

In October 2008, my husband informed me that he had received a job offer for a position in Des Moines, Iowa. We had been living in Texas for three years, after being relocated there from the New York City area, where we had both grown up. The new job was too good to pass up, and after a few weeks of deliberation, we decided to pack up our three children and move.

Let me state, with absolute certainty, that the year and a half we spent as Iowans was the worst period of my life.

There are many wonderful things about living in Iowa. The people are absolutely lovely. They are down-to-earth, welcoming, and sincerely, genuinely nice. They are the types of people who will let you cut in front of them in line at the grocery store, bring you soup when you're sick, plant extravagant vegetable gardens, and make casseroles for their neighbors. They don't gossip or engage in other types of petty behavior. They are rock-solid, decent, salt-of-the-earth types of people.

However, the weather of Iowa leaves a bit more to be desired. After years spent living through snowy New York months, I felt ready to take on Midwestern winters. Boy, was I wrong. Epically wrong. Trust me when I say that you do not know what cold is until you've lived in Iowa in January. This is a cold that hits you in the face with the force of a thousand knives, a cold that gets deep in your bones and festers. This is a cold that cancels school, that freezes the doors of your car shut.This is a cold that forces you to sleep with a space heater next to your bed, even while snuggled under a pile of down blankets.

I learned a few things about dressing for winter while living with Iowa. Here are some of them:  
  • Layering is your friend. Tights under pants or jeans is mandatory if you're walking longer than a block. If you're wearing a dress (brave girl!) you can layer leggings over tights, or wool knee socks over tights with boots. If your office or classroom is warm,  just remove those leggings or socks when you get indoors.
  • You will need more than one coat. Start with a long down coat with a hood for time spent outdoors (I know they're fug, but trust me, you won't care when it's 15 degrees out. I also guarantee you won't be the only one sporting this kind of outerwear.) Also invest in a heavy wool coat, such as a peacoat, for when the temperature isn't quite so low. If you have the extra cash, and attend professional or dressy events, a sleek black coat is a good idea too.
  • Have many pairs of gloves. Somehow, no matter how close an eye I kept on mine, they'd inevidably get lost. Go to Old Navy or Wal-Mart and buy multiple pairs of their $2 stretchy gloves. Keep a pair in the car, in every coat pocket, and in your purse. Surprisingly, mittens will keep you warmer than gloves. You will look a bit childish, but no one will care. Layer your stretchy gloves under your mittens and you're set.
  • Sweaters: Big woolly ones are great, especially in cardigan form. Layer them over a thermal and a buttondown and you're set. However, if you don't have the space or money to invest in them, thinner sweaters can be practical too. Cashmere is super-warm, thin enough for the office and easy to layer. Also, it's not the investment it once was. Thin merino wool is a good alternative too.
  • Think your cute little ankle boots and oxfords will cut it? Wrong. You will think you can walk the couple of blocks to dinner in the snow, but then your feet will go completely numb and you will have to go to the bathroom and pour hot water all over them in order to reassure yourself that you don't have frostbite. Nope, you need some lined boots that are at least somewhat waterproof, because you will be walking through snow and if you are just wearing sneakers or leather boots, it's like your feet are IN THE SNOW.
  • Besides snowboots, you're probably going to want another pair of tall boots you can wear to class or the office, and on non-snowy days with your woolly tights and maybe a pair of heavy socks. The heel height is up to you (although a lower heel is much safer when it's icy), but a pair wide enough to fit over jeans makes a big difference. In a cold climate, you'll live in your boots. I've found mine on eBay, Marshall's, and on sale at Consider having them waterproofed (especially if they're Uggs, or Ugg-types...they look cozy but are less so with snow and slush soaking through. Ugg boots are NOT waterproof. NOT AT ALL. Seriously, don't even try. You will regret it. If there isn't rubber around the foot, not just the sole, it is probably not waterproof. They are really good slippers though)
  • Scarves are essential. You want thick, heavy ones for the cold when the wind is blowing so hard that your eyes tear up. Thinner fleece, merino and wool-blend scarves come in a huge variety of prints and colors. For a more polished look, coordinate your scarves to your gloves.
  • FLANNEL. Seriously. Flannel shirt unbuttoned enough to show your cleavage tucked into a nice skirt with tights, boots and a sparkly necklace. It's festive, chic and WARM.
  • Warm socks are necessary. American Apparel makes thigh-high socks that are the bomb. Department stores like Nordstrom sell cashmere blend socks that are extremely warm too, and you can often find them on sale. You'll also want at least a few pairs of heavy wool socks - long enough to pull up over tights and leave no room for cold to get in. 
Winter in most parts of the country sucks. You won't look cute. Get over it. But you know what? On those bitter days, there's a sense of community that you may not find during other seasons. Everyone feels your pain, everyone understands...we're all just trying to stay warm, and get where we need to go. It's funny, people are often nicer. Probably because they are too freezing to put up a fight :-)

Do you have any tips on dressing for winter? How to you stay fashionable and warm?

Thirty things that make life worth living

  1. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
  2. Cupcakes.
  3. The beach.
  4. Thrift stores.
  5. Lying in bed listening to the rain.
  6. Giggling.
  7. Long conversations late into the night.
  8. Going to the movies.
  9. Running through sprinklers.
  10. Laughing at an inside joke.
  11. Laughing so hard your sides hurt.
  12. Just plain laughing.
  13. Having someone tell you you're beautiful.
  14. Walking through fall leaves.
  15. New boots.
  16. Making new friends.
  17. Sushi.
  18. Dinner out with old friends.
  19. Playing with a new puppy or kitten or any other small furry animal.
  20. Jeans.
  21. Sitting around a roaring fire.
  22. Blogging.
  23. Making chocolate chip cookies.
  24. Road trips.
  25. Being in love with someone that loves you back.
  26. Overhearing someone saying something nice about you.
  27. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours to sleep.
  28. Maker's Mark whiskey.
  29. Bookstores.
  30. Fresh flowers.
Gap blazer; thrifted Gap floral button-down; Michael Stars tunic; Gap jeggings; thrifted belt; Boutique 9 booties; Forever 21 necklaces; Target pyramid studs

    Why Alexa Chung's thrifting endeavor is problematic

    Alexa Chung, It-Girl, is launching a reality show where she goes to different thrift stores. This has left me far more conflicted than anything concerning a reality TV show should.

    I'm trying to figure out what exactly being an "it-girl" means. I think the meaning depends on the tone - whether you crow "she's an IT girl" like someone out of an angst-filled yet vaguely quirky teenage flick, or whether the person in question has a resume containing any one of the following abilities: Modeling, working as an MTV VJ, serving as a muse to a big-time snotty designer like Karl Lagerfeld, dating an emo alternative singer, being big in a foreign country, and dressing well. It appears that Alexa Chung fulfills every one of these qualities. She's from England, enjoyed a brief career as a model, is close friends with Uncle Karl, and worked for MTV in 2009. She also serves as a guest designer for Madewell, looks coltishly adorable, and dates a dude from the Arctic Monkeys. And even though — or perhaps because — she kind of dresses like a lot of tomboyish hipsterish girls her age, she's also something of a style icon.

    None of which really explains her bona-fides as a thrift-shopper. Her thrifting getup — described in a Sunday profile in the NY Times as "a dark skirt from J. W. Anderson, an Isabel Marant cardigan and Russell & Bromley flats" — invites raised eyebrows from those of us thrift store hoarders who would see proof of this alleged conterfeit. Although for all I know she's one of those wunderkins who can identify vintage Missoni at 20 paces, her show has the same air as the recent glamorization of eBay: an attempt to elevate second-hand shopping in order to convert the sort of person who'd normally find used clothes icky. Here's how the Times describes the program, which will run on PBS next summer.

    On the show, she and Maya Singer, the series creator and the editor of special projects for, will comb the country's consignment shops, garage sales and flea markets for old clothing, furniture, music equipment and other potential treasures to use in various creative endeavors. A few of the places they plan to visit include Orlando, Detroit, Nashville, Alabama and Brooklyn and, on a less populist note, fashion capitals like Paris and London as well. In the first episode, Ms. Chung helps Pamela Love, a gothic jewelry designer, create a pop-up shop in London during Fashion Week.

    I briefly justified my self-righteous indignation with the thought that such spot-blowing-up would be detrimental to struggling eBay sellers competing with each other for a decent profit. Or those families who really need used clothes at good prices. But let's be real: a show like Alexa Chung's isn't going to focus on utilizing Goodwill's racks of moth-chewed mismatched suits or men's pleated Dockers. She's not shopping for essentials. She's going to focus on excavating high-end designer and uniquely vintage pieces. The only ones who'd possibly be negatively effected by some hypothetical rush on America's Goodwills are those of us who love to thrift.

    Although I don't need to thrift out of necessity, I still relish the opportunity to do so. I thrift earnestly and for self-expression. I've thrifted since I discovered secondhand stores for my clothes while a high school student and am a vintage addict. Shopping vintage and used and learning how to alter it if you needed to was an awesome skill set as a student, especially one enrolled in a performing arts school where individuality was prized and could elevate one into the "cool" set. Once I found my first designer piece of clothing in a Goodwill it was love at first sight.

    Thrifting will never be for everyone. It takes patience and perseverance and a good eye and a willingness to sift through an amazing amount of crap. I do worry that Ms. Chung will popularize this activity, and make thrift-store shopping way more popular resulting in my going to a thrift store and not be able to find anything because it had been all picked over.  That would suck.

    That said, I'll watch Alexa Chung's show with interest. I want to know if she'll talk about how to remove thrift store stench, or the reality that preworn shoes are not supportive nor comfortable, or the fact that trying on used wigs is a really, really bad idea. Because that could be highly educational. And would really justify the title of It Girl.

    Run run Rudolph

    The cookies for Santa have been eaten. Presents have been unwrapped. Stocking have been pillaged. And my kids are bouncing around the house like they're on meth. It must be Christmas!

    I'm thrilled the day has finally arrived. All the weeks leading up to it are kind of draining. I hate the gnawing anticipation and anxiety to make this Christmas even better than the last. Conversations with friends have revealed that I'm far from the only one who feels worn out by the time Christmas Day arrives. We're ready for an end to holiday music and commercials urging us to buy just one more present to show people that we really love them.  We're ready to wave goodbye to mall Santas, Salvation Army bell-ringers, and lines of crazed shoppers at Target. We want to stop worrying about what to serve, what to buy, and how we're going to live with our mother-in-law without resorting to violence.

    One of the reasons I hate the commercialization of Christmas is that it infallibly results in a post-seasonal depression. While I'm happy for Christmas to finally arrive, I know I'll experience a little let-down in the weeks ahead. There's so much pressure, from all kinds of sources, to have the "perfect" holiday season. Magazines instruct us on the perfect holiday menu, table decorations, and music to play in the background. Television hosts teach us how to choose and decorate the perfect Christmas tree. Supermarkets advertise the perfect wine. Stores hawk the perfect gift for moms/teachers/aunts/neighbors/school bus drivers/spouses. Commercials tell us what the perfect outfit for entertaining is, and where to buy it. It seems that there's nothing else to talk about.

    And then, suddenly, BAM! it's over, and it's January and freezing out and everything looks bleak and colorless and sort of sad. And now, there really is nothing to talk about.

    I hate that let-down. It kind of takes away from the appreciative, grateful spirit we should have after Christmas. We should be fondly mulling over the time we spent with family, enjoying whatever Santa brought us, and reflecting on how fortunate we are. Instead we're mopey and depressed. This year, I'm going to work harder than I ever have to avoid post- Christmas traumatic stress disorder. I'm going to see my friends, focus on building this blog, start some new books and resume training for a 10k. I'm going to make some long-range goals for a business. 

    And who knows...the end of the holidays might be the start of something even better.

    Thrifted vintage Pendelton wool blazer; thrifted Kansas State tee; Target long-sleeved tee; Old navy jeggings; Justin boots; Forever 21 necklace; Forever 21 bracelets

    Some kind of wonderful

    One of my earliest memories is of the backyard birthday party my parents gave me when I was five. We lived in a two family house in a crowded neighborhood of Queens, and were extremely fortunate to have possession of the backyard. Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I can remember almost every single detail of that precious outdoor space.  In the summer I'd emerge from our side door, walk through a rose covered trellis, and enter a private, sweet-smelling world. Shaded by a gigantic crab apple tree, and protected from intruders by a chain link fence, the backyard would bloom with orange day lilies in summer. My family spent many afternoons picnicking, playing, and barbecuing in that backyard. We also hosted quite a few parties, my birthday being one of them.

    I'm amazed at how much I remember from that day. My dad fired up the grill and made hot dogs and burgers. We ate ice cream cake from Carvel (if you grew up or live in the Northeast, you'll understand the thrill a trip to Carvel incites. Their soft serve is legendary.) Records by Carol King, Blondie, and Simon and Garfunkel spun on the stereo. My grandfather stretched out on a lounge chair, smoked his pipe and worked on his tan. At the urging of my cousins and friends, my dad plucked an apple from the tree, sliced it in half with his pen knife, and revealed a fat, dissected, still squirming worm, which both horrified and fascinated me.

    However, when I flash back to that day, the first thing that comes to mind is the dress I wore to the party. Oh, how I loved that dress. It was white, with a full pink and white striped underskirt and puffed white sleeves. The front of the dress was adorned with a pink, yellow and green floral applique (it was 1979, after all.) I felt amazing in that dress. I spent hours twirling in front of the mirror, watching the skirt swish around me. That dress made me feel sweet, girly, confident and joyful.

    The outfit I wore to dinner last night incited the same feelings. What article of clothing makes you feel great? Do you have any special memories attached to an outfit?

    Forever 21 denim jacket, Muise ikiat dress, American Eagle black tee, J Crew tights; Kate Spade boots; Frye clutch; Forever 21 necklace; Forever 21 bracelets; Target pyramid studs

    The prep step

    If you are a child of the eighties, as I am, you might remember a hugely successful, tongue-in-cheek tome called The Preppy Handbook. On the North Shore of Long Island, where I spent much of my childhood, this book was studied as closely as the Bible. Although it was written as a parody, it served as an accurate "field guide" to the dress and lifestyle of the New England prepster. Indeed, what made The Preppy Handbook so successful in the eighties was that it is simultaneously a satire, for those in the know, and an actual handbook, for those hoping to pass as socially upwardly mobile.  

    While reading the Handbook, you learn immediately that being a prepster goes well beyond attendance at a private boarding school. You learn about their cars, colleges, clothes, food, jobs, music, pets, what they read and how they decorate their houses. (FYI: Prepster cars include BMWs, Saabs, Volvos, Land Rovers, and Jeep SUVs; pets are retrievers and spaniels.) Written in 1980, this work help launch the preppy craze of that decade and gave birth to the current preppy style among which many have chosen to emulate. No socks? Classic. LL Bean Rubber Mocs? Always, even in temperate weather. Lacoste, and turned-up collars, and madras shorts? All accounted for.

    The Preppy Handbook is timeless. According to Wikipedia, its musings on young urban professional culture served as an inspiration to the founder of the J. Crew clothing line, Arthur Cinader. Cinader hoped to capitalize on the success of the book through the development of a retail empire based on argyle sweaters, chinos, and oxford shirts. The book also represented a resurgence of interest in 'preppy' culture that aided the growth of retailer L.L. Bean.

    I did not go to boarding school, or an elite day school, but I was able to bs my way into Hobart and William Smith Colleges (one of the exceptional schools for demonstrations of prep-dom). The lifestyle depicted in the book was as true in the late 1990's as it was when it was written. As a person who can admit to wearing topsiders to class, ordering chinos from the J Crew catalog, and going for a sail on lake Seneca, my college experience seemed modeled according to The Preppy Handbook word-for-word.

    I don't consider myself a preppy anymore. I do own a few pieces relevant to that style, and it's fun to throw them on and pretend I have the sort of life where I summer in the Hamptons, drink Bloody Mary's, and play lacrosse in my downtime.

    J Crew sweater; American Eagle oxford shirt; Gap pants; Gucci loafers; World Market pearl studs

    The siren call of the sweater dress

    This is the outfit that almost wasn't.

    Four years ago, after dropping the boys off at preschool, I engaged in my favorite weekday activity: wandering through the aisles at Marshall's or TJ Maxx looking for deals. These stores have always been among my favorite places to shop. They offer substantially low prices on this season's clothes, and their shoe departments cannot be beat. I also adore the fact that I never know what I'm going to find. I might unearth a couture Ralph Lauren wool blazer, or Kate Spade boots, or a Marc Jacobs clutch, or a pair of Seven For All Mankind jeans. And, most of all, I love the shock I see when I reveal the source of my designer items. I really believe there is absolutly no reason to pay full retail price for anything at all, ever, thanks to TJ's and Marshall's.

    So there I was, trolling the sale rack, when I stumbled upon a little flecked green sweater dress. Hell-o!, it whispered. Check out my pretty Faire Isle design, my dainty leather tie, my flattering just-above-the-knee length. Wouldn't I look fantastic with leggings or skinny jeans and boots? Imagine how warm I'd keep you. Winter arrives in a week, after all. Notice my label - I'm made by one of your favorite brands. And my price - $38, down from $129! I was made for you! It beckoned. It tempted. It seduced.

    The sweater dress and I considered one another. Truthfully, I had never worn a sweater dress before. Winter was quickly approaching. And I was sick and tired of my cable knit cardigans. Okay, sweater dress, I decided. I'll give you a try.

    I took it home. Hung it in my closet. Where it languished, up until today.

    So what happened? Well, truthfully, I didn't think I had the right body-type for a sweater dress. While it was gorgeous on the hanger, once it left the store I concluded that it required a tall, slim, super-model type. A gazelle in knee-high boots. At five feet four inches, I'd look a fool. It would accentuate my short legs, my petite torso, my slight twin baby pooch. Despite these reservations, I couldn't let the sweater dress go. So I hung onto it for four years, checking on it every now and then, waves of regret washing over me.

    This morning dawned chilly and damp. I opened my closet, and the sweater dress called to me. This time, I put it on. And I felt fantastic.

    Free People sweater dress; Gap long-sleeved tee; J Crew sweater tights; Target knee socks; Frye boots; Plato's Closet leather bracelet; vintage Coach satchel; vintage thrifted fur cape.

    Why I blog

    I'm an avid blog reader, especially of fashion blogs. These blogs chronicle the style musings of young, twenty-something women, who somehow manage to look consistently fantastic. I've learned a lot by reading these blogs. Mostly college students or recent graduates, they live in studio apartments with their hipster boyfriends and spend their days hanging out with friends, seeing concerts, crafting their own jewelry, and perusing thrift stores.  They often get spending money from their parents and are gifted expensive clothes from relatives. Because of these blogs, I've been encouraged to delve into my closet and look at fashion in a much more creative way. In addition,  I've expanded the range of stores I visit beyond those at the mall. I now thrift with regularity, focusing on items that express my individual sense of style rather than what labels they are. I'll admit that I used to have a teensy tiny problem as a label whore, buying things just because they were of a certain brand, rather than how they fit. I'm thankful that I've broken that habit because there's so much more to dressing well than wearing the trendiest or most coveted brand.

    While perusing my favorite blogs the other day, I realized there was one thing that bothered me about them. While I consider myself young at heart, I am not a unencumbered twenty-something living in a studio apartment with her hipster boyfriend. I spend my free time chasing after my kids at the park, cleaning up one of my twins' millionth juice spill, and catching up on laundry. I'm lucky if I can grab a moment to read something other than the instructions for the Wii, much less attend a concert. And I have a husband to focus on, a mortgage to pay and school events to attend.

    I suppose that's why I felt the need to create my own personal style blog. I understand that as a parent, fashion means something different to me that your average twenty-something. It has to be comfortable and functional, while also remaining stylish. Affordability is also important, as it would be inappropriate for me to rely on my parents for a clothing allowance. And, for the record, I am a thirty-six year old woman. I have no desire to dress as these young women do. Tight skirts, thigh-high boots, and midriff-baring tops would look ridiculous on me. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

    American Eagle shirt; Texas Rangers tee; Old Navy skirt; J Crew tights; Frye cowboy boots; Nordstrom Rack necklace; Plato's Closet bracelet; Marc Jacobs watch, Forever 21 belt

    There is a light that never goes out

    In the year 1990, on a cold November evening, my best friend Elizabeth and I made a momentous trek into Manhattan. We had gotten dressed in our finest attire - green Doc Martins, knee socks, and a vintage schoolgirl plaid skirt for me I would be very popular within today's eighties-obsessed trends); and jeans and (I think) a black top for Elizabeth. We rode the subway in jittery anticipation, playing it cool but entirely unsure of what to expect. How many people would be there? Would the crowd be rowdy, I hoped? Would we have a decent view of the stage? And, most importantly, would I blend in with what I was certain would be the upper echelon of young Manhattan?

    This was a pivotal moment in my life. I was about to attend my first rock concert. As a classical musician in training, I had attended many mostly uneventful school-sponsored performances. Catching a cello concertos or opera at Lincoln Center was part of my monthly routine. However, pop music was somewhat out of my realm. First of all, I wasn't much into the music played on the radio at the time. (And thank God for that, because pop music was dominated by MC Hammer and Bell Biv Devoe.) My taste ran towards The Beatles, The Smiths, Led Zeppelin, and The Who. And secondly, no matter how much babysitting I did, I didn't have the money to attend concerts. Hearing my classmates talk about the amazing show they caught at CBGB or Madison Square Garden caused a bit of jealousy, but it wasn't something I lost sleep over. Nevertheless, when Elizabeth called offering me a ticket to see Erasure (forgive me... it was 1990, and English synthpop was big) I jumped at the chance. 

    Here's what I remember about the concertWe sat way, way up in the rafters. At some point during the show one of the singers pranced around the stage in a pink tutu and combat boots. One of the male singers, I should add. A girl sitting in front of me wore a skirt made entirely out of men's ties, a skirt I continue to covet to this day. And the music was so loud that my ears pounded the entire subway ride home.

    I've attended quite a few concerts since then. But none of them can replicate the excitement I felt that first time..

    Vintage blazer; Hot Topic Morrissey tee; Gap long-sleeved tee; Old Navy jeggings; Kate Spade boots; Target pyramid studs; Forever 21 rhinestone bracelets.

    The siren call of bargain-shopaholism

    Websites like, and have offered consumers access to flash deals that must be purchased without much time to mull over their usefulness. And now we're all addicted to bargains.

    The Boston Globe reports that "flash sales" are attractive to both stores and consumers because they enable people to buy crap that they might need and they gives stores the opportunity to force consumers to make decisions quickly, before they realize that most of the stuff they'd buy from flash sales is actually crap that they don't need.

    I too have been tempted by these flash-sales. Every day, I check out the deals available on Ideel, Hautelook, and These sites, also known as private-sale sites, bill themselves as offering exclusive deals to members, but really anyone can be a member just by signing up. Their business model is simple: the sites buy mostly overstocked clothing and accessories from brand-name designers, then discount them deeply. Adrenaline-pumped shoppers rush to get the deals because the items are often gone in a few hours. Madison Riley, a retail analyst with Kurt Salmon Associates, said flash sales tap into consumers’ psyches in several key ways: the joy of treasure hunting, the desire for impulse shopping, the love of the deal, and the fear of missing out.

    The sites try to recreate the rush of a warehouse sample sale, minus the trampling and shoving, but they borrow as much from the Home Shopping Network as they do from Saks Fifth Avenue. After shoppers add an item to their cart at Gilt, for example, they get a 10-minute countdown before they lose the item.

    More mainstream retailers are also adopting the idea. Saks Fifth Avenue, for example, has held 24-hour half-price sales on brands like Hervé Léger. And recently J Crew created a site for their warehouse division, offering items to consumers on weekends only.

    Items with a countdown clock certainly put on the pressure to buy. There's the not-so subtle message that YOU MAY NEVER SEE SUCH A GREAT DEAL AGAIN. Joe's Jeans at less that $100 a pair is a once in a lifetime opportunity, people. Do you really, really want to turn down such a bargain? Some kind of brain mania washes over you, leading you to believe that yes, you NEED those jeans and you NEED to save $100 and thus you NEED to buy them oh my God hurry before the time runs out.

    Then you buy those jeans, and immediately realize what a stupid decision that was because hello, you already have twenty pairs of jeans in your closet, but by now it's too late. You've fallen victim to the manipulation these sites are so adept in. There's no second guessing, because all of these flash-sale sites have a no-return policy. All sales are final.

    The concept of these sites seems tailored to our post-recessionary times. Any guilt that people might feel after spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary items is assuaged by the knowledge they've gotten a great deal, and thus bragging rights for finding such a killer bargain, like a $4,500 diamond necklace that was recently on sale for $2,250 at Gilt.

    According to the article, the best way to treat bargainaholism is to simply, painfully, click way through to the "unsubscribe" page on these flash-sale websites. That is, if you can resist the siren call of discounted jeans.

    Because of you I smile

    You know those days where from the moment you wake up nothing seems to go right? Like say, for instance, you forget to set your alarm and just happen to wake a mere fifteen minutes before your three children need to get to school? That's the start of a not-so-good day. Or what should have been a brief check-up at the doctor turns into an hour of waiting in the exam room while being held captive to overhearing an animated conversation between the nurses about Glee? OR, you get into an argument with the morons at the gym who had told you your kids could enroll in taekwando while your membership was on hold, and now, three months after they started, the morons tell you they can't? 

    That's the kind of week I had.

    I was so relieved when Saturday rolled around. Here was a chance to sleep late and engage in activities that were guaranteed to be good for my soul. You know how there are certain things that just make you happy, no matter what?  For me, it's baths. Just the process of choosing a frothy aromatic bubble bath, lighting candles, and pouring myself a glass of wine reduces my stress. Taking a bath is a minimum hour-long activity. I make the water as hot as I can stand and read some trashy novel on my Kindle. Personally, I can't think of a better way to catch up on my reading. Is there a better way to catch up on anything? Hell, I would make dinner in there if I could. I want a full-size portable stovetop for Christmas.

    Another thing that makes me feel good is a short flippy skirt. Like this one.

    Anthropologie floral blouse (eBay); Anthropologie denim skirt; Gap white tee (under blouse); Hue tights; Frye boots; Urban Outfitters ivory flower studs; Plato's Closet leather bracelet.