Remixing: School day to school board

Today was a difficult day to get dressed: I had to sit through a day of classes then attend a local school board meeting on a work assignment, all with an inch or so of snow on the ground and even more in the air. How to go from put-together casual to professional with minimal effort? My solution: A basic top and sweet accessories. Just a plain Forever 21 black turtleneck sweater, with a super pretty, multi-strand, multi-color New York and Company necklace and matching earrings.

The outfits:

For the school day, skinny jeans and my favorite black boots, which are not as waterproof as I would like but still functional.

For the school board meeting, Banana Republic slacks and my favorite black wedges (heels would have worked better with the slacks, but, again, snow). I also swapped the big, colorful earrings for plain studs.

I loved both looks today — neither was complicated, but both looked sharp and pulled together, which is impressive on snow days, when half the campus is in sweats — or, worse, leggings as pants — and rainboots. Cheers.

Not-so-casual Friday

I finally did laundry for the first time in a month, which is alarming on so many levels. How did I accumulate so many items of clothing that I can go a month without washing anything and still have stuff to wear? And how am I fitting everything in my itty-bitty college room?

Most college students take “My clothes are dirty” as an excuse to wear old t-shirts and sweatpants. Given that I have to maintain a semi-professional appearance all the time for my work, though, for me it means more dresses and “nice clothes” than usual. When my casual jeans got too dirty to keep wearing, I went as long as I could wearing dresses and skirts, but Friday I had to pull out my nice jeans, which require heels because I still have not had them altered. Heels on a normal college day! People were judging so hard.

The challenge became finding a top that was casual enough to not look ridiculous on campus but nice enough to wear with heels. So, I went for nice but basic: just a turtleneck sweater in a rich color. I even threw on that snakeskin belt I got for Christmas and had no idea how to wear, which is exciting — now that I’ve worn it with an outfit other than the one the saleswoman put together for me, I might be able to actually wear it on a sort-of-regular basis.

Do you ever think to yourself, “WHERE DID ALL OF THESE CLOTHES COME FROM?” I know it’s totally #firstworldproblems, but really. It’s embarrassing. I’d love some advice on how to execute a closet purge so I can have more space and feel better about myself. Cheers.

Time machine

I got dressed in a hurry today, just throwing on a cardigan over the first semi-decent shirt I grabbed. At some point in the day, though, I thought about the shirt I was wearing and laughed when I realized it’s one of the oldest shirts I own.

I am not entirely positive, but I’m pretty sure I bought it back in eighth grade, when Hollister was just starting to get popular and everyone wanted to be wearing their clothes. I don’t remember what made me choose it at the time, and I don’t think I wore it much for the first several years I had it, either. It’s grown on me lately, though — it’s simple, but I like the color and the detail around the neckline.

Having the same item of clothing for seven years is not remarkable if you’re an adult buying quality, investment items, but when you’re still wearing a $20 Hollister shirt that you bought at 14 when you’re a few weeks shy of your 21st birthday, it’s amusing.

I only have photos from college on my laptop, so I couldn’t find any really old pictures of this shirt, but I made the even funnier discovery that I actually wore it the day I moved into college as a freshman.

One shirt, two totally different looks. Then: Lace cami, short shorts, flip flops. Now: Cardigan, jeans, wedges. My favorite part? Aside from having grown out my bangs, my hair is pretty much the same. Love it. Cheers.

My fall/winter uniform

Fun fact: I spent my first- through eighth-grade years in a uniform. Plaid skirt, polo, the works. I think that’s part of the reason I’m just starting to really think about clothes: I went through grade school wearing the same thing every day, then high school trying to wear something different every day, and now that I’ve figured that out, I can try to actually look decent every day.

But, I’ve come to realize, having a uniform was a pretty handy thing. Life’s always busy, and any day when I have to make one fewer decision is a good day. On days when I don’t feel like thinking too hard about what to wear, I turn to my favorite standby: my American Eagle cable-knit v-neck sweaters.

I don’t remember which one I got first, or when I got it, but these days I have five. The striped one is the newest; the purple one is my favorite. The colors and necklines change a little year to year, but one thing never changes: They’re honestly perfect for every single occasion. I’ve worn them with Chucks to class, with black slacks and heels to work, with skinny jeans and knee high boots for just about everything else. They work with scarves. Short necklaces. Long necklaces. Tank tops. T-shirts. Skirts. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them.

I’m cheating with the outfit photo below, because I’m wearing a Tommy Hilfiger version that I “stole” from my mom, but it’s basically the same thing. How many times have I wore variations on this outfit in the past two weeks? Seeing as only the solid blue one is clean right now, looks like five. I’m sure if you read back on this blog to last winter, you’ll see them several times. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Sorry for the horrendous Photoshop abuse. Sunshine + snow = death of my camera.

So if I go multiple days without an outfit post, you all can probably safely assume it’s because I’ve fallen into my uniform trap and I’m too embarrassed to admit it 😉 Cheers.

Shopping win, and a shoe acquisition

We have several Marshalls stores in my area, but I don’t visit them very often — I’ve always had trouble understanding their organizational system, and stores I don’t understand make me nervous. But I’ve been on the hunt for new shoes, and Jean from Extra Petite posted a few weeks back that TJ Maxx/Marshalls is good for “chic shoes in extended sizes,” so I thought I’d give it a try. Turns out I’m taking Jean’s advice on everything from here on out, because I struck gold at Marshalls. Not shoes, but still gold.

Because I am your standard college student, I live in jeans. Unfortunately, I never seem to find jeans that fit me well. In the past few years, I have found two styles that I’m happy with: Old Navy’s The Flirt Skinny, which no longer exists, and Levi’s 524 Boot Cut, which runs about $46 a pair at Carson’s, a store that doesn’t let you apply coupons toward Levi’s. I thought I had found a great deal Monday, when I found a pair at Kohl’s, where I could use a coupon and get them for $34.

Marshalls today? $16.99. And in a better wash, too. I almost fell over. I bought two pairs, thinking I can get one altered for heels and one for flats.

$16.99 darker-wash pair from Marshalls, left; $46 ($34 with coupon) pair from Kohl's, right.

So yeah, that made my day.

Then, success part 2: I found a pair of shoes at the Famous Footwear next door. My shoe priority was a pair of black shoes that looked nice but were easy to run around in (a.k.a. journalist shoes). I had planned to just get new flats, but I found Oxfords in my size on the clearance rack, and I couldn’t pass them up.

I’ve wanted Oxfords for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally found a pair! Admittedly, I’m not sure how to wear them with anything other than pants, so I’d love some advice there. I want to try them with dress shorts — any tips? Also, I instinctively bought normal black laces to dress them up, but the ribbons are quickly growing me. Should I keep them?

Anyway, I didn’t get around to the hours-long mall adventure I had planned for the day, but I had a pretty successful 2-hour trip. Cheers.

Oxfords: Hot Kiss Oxy in black, sz 5.

Keeping things simple (and weird!)

I had another skirt-and-boots combo and a trip to the mall planned for Thursday, but after ice skating and walking 9 miles Wednesday, I woke up with a beyond-sore ankle and both plans went out the window. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not an injury-prone athlete, so I could think of only three potential “cures” for my ankle: 1. Ibuprofen. 2. An afternoon of rest. 3. Comfy shoes.

Because I’ve never mastered the art of dressing up your Converse, I ended up keeping my outfit simple: just jeans and a t-shirt, plus a cardigan for warmth. I reached for my favorite school t-shirts first, then thought I’d step it up to a solid color, before finally settling on something more fun: my Keep Austin Weird shirt.

I picked this shirt up last summer, when I was in Austin, Texas for a workshop. I had seen the slogan all over town, but I wasn’t sure what it meant. Turns out, Wikipedia says, “Keep Austin Weird is the slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance  to promote small business in Austin, Texas,” and it’s become an idea the people of the city embrace, too — they like the city’s “weird” culture (and I did, too!). The small print on the shirt reads, “Support your local businesses.” I’m not a huge “message T” person, but I like this one. It supports small businesses and makes a great conversation starter. Plus, you know, everyone needs a good tie-dye t-shirt in his/her arsenal.

Also, I did end up getting to two stores, and I managed to pick up some pieces I’m looking forward to turning into outfits. Stay tuned! Cheers.

T-shirt: Outhouse Designs Original Keep Austin Weird Tie Dye Shirt, sz Youth L (adult version here). Cardigan: Target Merona Womens Essential Cardigan Sweater in black, sz XS. Jeans: Levi’s 524 Boot Cut, sz 1 short (shortened).

Sweet Home Chicago! Skating in the City.

I’ve been to a lot of cities in the past year, and lived in a few states, but today, my first day in the city since May, made it clear to me that I am forever a Chicago girl. I grew up in the suburbs, but my parents have taken me downtown from a very young age, and I worked there a few summers ago, so I feel like it’s my city.

I didn’t get many good pics today, because I was with a friend and we were mostly just walking and talking, and we didn’t really get out by the lake, which is where the best pictures are taken. Next time.

Millennium Park's Cloud Gate, commonly known as "The Bean."

Millennium Park Amphitheatre

Awkward corner of the Skyline, taken from Buckingham Fountain. The tall, silver-blue, roundish one in the middle-back is Trump Tower.

Our main activity today: Ice skating! I’m a terrible skater; I think the last time I skated was at least four years ago, and I only went a few times before then. You’d think that the ten years of ballet I took in grade school would have given me good enough balance to skate well, but nope. Not good. Today wasn’t all my fault, though — it was a bit too warm, so the ice didn’t hold up well. Even my friend, who played ice hockey growing up and actually could skate, had trouble. Oh well. It was still a fun day! Cheers.

Sweater: Gap (old). Scarf: My university bookstore, oddly enough. Jeans: L.E.I. (old). Skates: Chicago Park District 🙂

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