June 30, 2011

Do you know what it means...

I wore this outfit in New Orleans. I liked how my purple beaded top matched the magenta hue of the Drawing Parallels skirt. The friend I was traveling with actually thought it was a dress at first! She took this photo of me in Louis Armstrong Park. It was undergoing renovations so we weren't able to venture very close to the statues of Mahalia Jackson or the park's namesake, but we did stroll around a bit on a fairly sweltering day. We grabbed Popsicles from Meltdown in the French Quarter on our way there.

I already miss New Orleans terribly (hence the title of this post) and cannot wait to go back in November (when I am presenting at the National Communication Association's annual conference). I discovered so many new things on my second visit that I am excited to share with Chris.  One of the first spots I plan to show him is the French 75 bar in Arnaud's Restaurant. We already drank together at the Sazarac (and will certainly return) but this bar was also very cool, with very excellent cocktails. Upstairs from the bar is a Mardi Gras Museum that showcases the costumes worn in Carnival parades by the women in the family who own Arnaud's.

The daughter was the queen of Mardi Gras and also the queen in the parades of various other social clubs, so she got to wear all of these intricate costumes over the years. Aren't they amazing?

June 29, 2011

One of these things (is not like the others)

"One of these things just doesn't belong! Can you tell which is not like the others?"

I'm pre-packing for Maine and noticed the dominance of one specific store save for one dress. And it caused me to hum that old Sesame Street song from my childhood. The cotton fabrics in my summer wardrobe seems to be a one trick pony! Oh well...

June 28, 2011

Trying a trend with trepidation

Ancient Myths Maxi Skirt

Today a bunch of stuff I wishlisted went on sale at Anthropologie (list with photos thanks to Roxy, here). I was near my local store anyway so I made a quick stop to check it out. I almost bought the Chartreuse Shoots dress (reviewed here) but it is still a little too pricey, in my opinion. I did find the above maxi skirt in the sale room. I have wanted a maxi skirt for a while. Gretchen of Gretchen's Closet (who I consider to be the queen of cool maxi skirt ensembles) suggested I start with a solid color. But I have always been a print junkie so OF COURSE I still went with a print. I hope I can figure out ways to wear this. Here 13 of Thirteenlbs makes the Ancient Myths Maxi look fantastic!

I plan to bring it with me to Maine cause it feels... vacation friendly. I'm still not totally confident about the purchase so I might keep the tags on, leaving it wrapped in tissue. If I don't find a way to wear it, I am going to take it back. This sounds like a reasonable plan to me. Do you give yourself any "wear or return" deadlines?

June 27, 2011

Another day, another repeat OOTD

I know I just wore this See by Chloe dress the other week. But I'm a bit paunchy from summer libations and grilled foods and I like how this ensemble provides such adequate cover. Not to harp negatively on my appearance or anything... Bodies fluctuate and I accept that. I just think this outfit distracts effectively from any potential food babies. I have been wearing other clothes but not taking the time to photograph so I either will re-wear soon (likely), or re-create the looks for photos (unlikely).

June 24, 2011

Sale Roundup and why I am sitting out this round

Second cuts have arrived and there are deals everywhere. I am showing restraint but that doesn't mean you have to...

Saks Fifth Avenue
has made second cuts.
Barneys is now up to 60% off.
Yoox clearance for Spring/Summer is now up to 50% off.
Net-A-Porter's sale is still going strong.
Neiman Marcus offers up to 55% off.

Sitting out these sales was an easy decision. Right now there is nothing I want more than a digital slr. I have the funds for one (I think). But I don't have the time to learn to use it. I don't even really have the time to research which kind to buy. I want one just enough to dwarf my other, more frivolous consumer desires. But not enough to make the leap. (I say to myself, "this dress is pretty but it would be 1/5th of the dslr budget." And I put it back.).

When it comes to buying small or large electronics, I am uncommonly timid. I definitely feel intimidated. How do I know if I am picking the "right one." Electronics presumably have more use value and practicality than repeat purchases of handbags or dresses. But for so many of us, it has become too easy to rationalize buying impractically ("I had a bad day." "I have an event and want a new outfit." "I am bored so I am going to shop aimlessly." etc.). I'm trying to think through my consumerism and in doing so I keep coming back to the realization that too often my reasons for wanting are silly and irrationally materialistic. Clothes, bags, and shoes are my "safe"shopping categories. I can shop for them and feel like an "expert." I don't get that panicky "is the customer service person going to inadvertently figure out that I have no clue about this stuff" feeling I get when I need to buy something technical or auto-related. This isn't to say that shopping for clothes, bags, or shoes is bad or inferior. In fact, I balk at the subtle sexism of writing off fashion as only frivolity (because I tend to balk at the writing-off of any domain or interest overwhelmingly dominated by women). Clothing, shoes, and bags have use value in moderation. Over the years I have not exercised moderation in my approach to consuming these categories.

When I am contemplating buying something that has immense potential to be useful, I get shopping anxiety. Cameras are laden with symbolism and meaning. The practice of looking, the gaze, the iconography of photographs, the ways we see (and don't see) due to framing... all those scholarly aspects of visualization bog me down with intellectual overwhelm when I contemplate buying a camera. This doesn't happen when I think about buying a dress. If I buy a camera, I am buying a thing has the potential to capture memories... This thing is in a technologized genre of stuff that feels alienating, complex, and more expensive than so many other material purchases. 60% off camera sales don't tend to happen (even within the resale/refurbished markets) so spontaneous, poorly-thought sale-goggle-induced purchases don't threaten to squash my timidity. If only I could be more unthinking when it comes to shopping for cameras... and more thinking when it comes to shopping for everything else!

June 23, 2011

Readymade Dress Review

It is easy to see why this cute little dress is named the "Readymade." After all, the attached shirt/skirt combo offers an outfit assembly shortcut. I tried on a size 8 and it was a good fit. The denim fabric skirt is light enough to wear on hot days. The modal top seemed slightly sheer. I thought the length of the skirt was a little long on me, so the petite might be a better option. But if I was to buy the petite, I would get a 10. I tend to size up in petites at Anthropologie. It is by Odille. Overall I am going to wishlist this and think about it later.

Off Fifth Saks Outlet testing the waters for an online retail sale website?

Today I received an email request to take a survey from Off Fifth. As a communication scholar with interests in advertising strategies, consumer history, and quantitative research methods, I often accept these requests because they offer insight into marketing decisions and brand developments. From this specific survey it became clear that Saks was conducting research to determine the viability of an online component to their Off Fifth outlet stores. Because Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call already have outlet retail websites, I'm surprised it took Saks this long!

June 22, 2011

Ice Cream Social OOTD

The other night I went for ice cream with Chris and two of our good friends, Rich and Elaina. Once we all ordered our cones we settled down to eat them. Unfortunately we lost a casualty to clumsiness. I split what was left of my turtle ice cream cone with Chris (mostly out of pity and guilt that I couldn't stop laughing about how his cone bounced off the ground when he dropped it). It was simultaneously hilarious and sad. What you see blanketing the delicious black raspberry concoction is mulch (and not chocolate shavings). Isn't it funny that a wood-chip-covered cone can still manage to look incredibly appetizing?

Anyway, I am wearing the green skirt version of my current uniform: Drawing Parallels skirt, striped F21 top, vintage map bag, reva flats. Here it is again (from two other recent days cause I am a one trick pony lately!):

On the right I am wearing wedges instead of flats but everything else is identical.

June 21, 2011

Tippi in action

This is not the most flattering photo of me. It was taken after a long and delicious dinner which is part of why my lips are stained an odd color from too much wine. I'm also making a goofy face from too much of a strong cocktail. But I wanted to share a photo of the Tippi in action. As you can see I have decided to keep it and this was its maiden voyage outside of my house. My inner kid enjoys how this dress moves especially if I descend quickly down a staircase. It floats! Thank goodness for my ever-present rotation of bike shorts (that assist in my remaining modest AND evading the dreaded thigh chub-rub). Apologies for not posting this last night as I said I would.

There's a sale today at Anthropologie. Be sure to check out Effortless Anthropologie for the full list of sale items and second cuts! By the way, Saks took a second cut today too.

June 20, 2011

A happy weekend of gift giving!

This weekend, not only did I celebrate Father's Day (like so many here in the US), but my parents were celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary! Like many married couples, they were together for years before that. And regardless, 34 years of marriage is nothing to sneeze at. Next year they plan to finally take a long-overdue trip to Hawaii to mark their 35th. I hope to figure out something special my siblings and I can do for them to honor the occasion. Hawaii is a place they've wanted to see for ... well 34+ years! But my parents have never been big travelers. They still live in my father's boyhood home, in the area where they both grew up. After they had kids they rarely left town without us (occasional business trips were the only times). And it wasn't financially realistic to take vacations that required plane tickets for the entire clan. My folks were more interested in saving the money to help with the cost of three college educations (not to mention all the other parental expenses they were generous enough to assume). I really hope they do something indulgent and for themselves after all these years!

To celebrate 34 years, we kids gave them a gift that was very inexpensive but that moved them both. At home, I had an 8 by 10 frame that was from the cookie table decor of my own wedding. It was matted to display two 4 by 6 photos, side by side. To turn it into an appropriate anniversary gift, I picked two photo prints of my parents: one from their wedding day and one from mine.

They loved it and it was such a simple, inexpensive idea! In this era of photographic post-materiality, it is a gift just to save someone from the task of ordering and framing tangible prints. And the photographic aftermath of our wedding has yielded many gift opportunities for all three sets of parents.

Chris and his brother also came up with a clever, sentimental, and inexpensive father's day gift that made a bigger splash than the other, more costly gifts they gave. They compiled a list of songs that their dad sang to them when they were kids and turned it into a mixed cd. The entire family was so excited to gather around and listen when they learned what it was. And Chris's dad was clearly moved by the gesture. One of the really interesting things I noticed as a relative newcomer to the family was the excitement his baby sister (who is 20 years younger than Chris but really no longer a baby at age 11) exhibited when she also was able to recognize so many of the songs from her own childhood. 

I'll post some outfits and a review or two this week. I've been wearing some version of my Drawing Parallels skirt with a striped or basic top, as though it is my uniform. Later today I'm also going to post a less-than-flattering Tippi-dress-in-action photo. Happy (belated) Father's Day!

June 18, 2011

Blogging and Body Image

When Galadarling requested blogger contributions on the subject of blogging and body image, I decided to up a brief submission.

I focused on that nagging urge to compare one's own body with others. A friend of mine once said that no matter how you feel about your body in any given moment, there will always be someone who wants to be the size you are right now. For me, that idea begins to put things into perspective. When I think of it in combination with the knowledge that I am never as critical or hard on others as I am on myself, I feel liberated from the need to be negative about my own body.

Here is what I wrote:

Much like socio-economic class, bodies have often been the elephant in the blogosphere dressing room. So few of us discuss the subject openly (though Sal of Already Pretty does a fantastic job raising awareness and promoting acceptance). Despite the large amounts of silence, bodies and body image can be a source of significant internal struggle for many women. When it comes to blogging and body image, we must resist comparisons. Many of us exist within a media environment where the impulse to compare “who wore it best” and to scrutinize the bodies of women have become reactive, knee-jerk entitlements, fostered through celebrity tabloid culture. It would be naive to disregard the ways that such thinking can trickle down into our ordering of everyday, non-celebrity bodies. But we must suppress those impulses for the good of ourselves and others.

One of the things that has helped me in my own resistance is to hold firm to my feminist beliefs. Just as I believe there is room in the fashion/style blogosphere for all types of styles, I believe there is also room for all types of bodies/shapes. With a positive attitude, I strive to be less hard on myself when it comes to my appearance. Although it might be difficult to remember while lurking in such an aesthetic realm, we are not the sum of how we look. Our blogs encompass brief glimpses of lives much more complex and much more dynamic than mere surfaces can deliver. I’ve learned to accept the aspects of my image that bred insecurities in my youth. In a way, this has become a side effect of active blogging. I work every day to unlearn judgmental impulses and the habitual need to self-scrutinize. I remind myself that when I read blogs, just as when I see women in my day to day life, I do not see their flaws. I try to extend myself the same kindness. Most of us are too caught up in our own responsibilities, challenges, and enjoyments to spend time picking others apart. But the decision to stop those impulses is exactly that: a decision. And paths to self acceptance are neither linear or smooth. There are good and bad days. But at the end of most of them, I realize that comparisons (based on what others have or how others look) are unproductive and unfruitful.

You can read the entire entry with the thoughts of many very smart, stylish ladies here. Thank you for including me and organizing submissions on this very important subject, Gala!

June 17, 2011

In which two stylish men accidentally dress like twins

Upon meeting some friends for dinner recently, Chris and our pal Michael (who works at super useful, Pittsburgh-based start-up, Pikimal) realized that they had inadvertently thought alike that day, as great minds often do. Navy jackets, brown ties, light blue dress shirts, brown shoes. It was too adorable to not capture and share!  Although I am not certain about Michael's outfit credits, Chris is wearing Rag and Bone (jacket and pants), Trovata (shirt), Theory (tie), and Timberland (shoes).

Be sure to check out Pikimal if you haven't heard of it! From their Twitter Bio: "Pikimal is a Pittsburgh start-up redefining search by removing marketing and bias from your results. Just the facts!"

June 16, 2011

Ferrying about in New Orleans

Old Navy top
Chloé flats
Michael Kors bag

One of my favorite things to do in New Orleans is take the ferry to Algiers. I love that it is a fun, free thing you can do as a tourist, during which you see plenty of residents going from the Central Business District to more residential Algiers. It is interesting that cars and motorcycles can also utilize the vessel. Chris and I stumbled upon it when we were milling around the convention site for ISA when we first visited the city in February of 2010.

(photo of the Ferry from February 2010)

Despite living so near to the Monongahela River growing up, I didn't spend a lot of time on boats. My brother currently works on one. But no one in my family owns one so climbing aboard always feels special. Learning that this particular boat was free was quite an exciting find. The ferry ride consists of a very quick trip across the Mississippi River, which also feels special (to this Pittsburgh gal) because of the river's connection to the Ohio (and the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers that form it... Three Rivers pride and what not). The Ohio is the largest tributary of the Mississippi. After following the television drama, Treme my second ferry ride felt a bit more somber (No spoilers here! You'll just have to watch the show!). But my travel buddy was kind enough to snap this photo of the magenta Drawing Parallels skirt in action.

June 15, 2011

Quick Outfit from New Orleans

Gap cardi
MBMJ dress
Tory Burch flats

I've been trying to catch up from being in and out of town the last few weeks. I was lucky enough to make a visit to New Orleans recently and wanted to share an outfit I wore for cocktails and eventually dinner. I got to go to one of my favorite bars in the country.

Anyone have a favorite cocktail? Mine fluctuates depending on the season. But the Gin Fizzes at the Sazerac Bar (located inside of the beautiful Roosevelt Hotel) are in my opinion as delicious as the eponymous drink!

June 14, 2011

MS 150 family photo and my tag sale buys

Gap cardi
Old Navy tee
Patent Tory Burch Reva flats
Michael Kors bag

On Sunday I drove to Conneaut, Ohio to pick up Chris and some friends who rode in the MS-150 bike ride to raise funds for the National MS Society. It was a great cause and it involved a two-day, 150 mile bike ride in northwestern PA, into Ohio. I am so proud of the members of Team Planned Parenthood, comprising of Chris and our friends, Rachel, Phill, Matt, and Chris L. It is great that hundreds of people were biking for something so worthwhile! Although I am not athletic enough to do such a thing, it was really moving to see everyone gearing up for the ride when I dropped off my cyclist pals on Saturday.

When I went to pick up the riders I decided to wear my new tag sale skirt. I didn't know how cold it would be by the lake. And the winds coming off Lake Erie were serious! For evidence, look no further than the 80s-ification and general bigness of my hair. Speck joined me for the drive and was so thrilled to see Chris. Because I was out of town during the week and he was out of town during the weekend, she was relieved to finally unite her pack. I love this impromptu family photo because my hair is out of control and you can see Chris's team jersey, which features a cloud spewing a rainbow that leads to Bigfoot riding on a bike. Confusing AND clever.

Chris needed more layers cause it was cold. 
I swapped my flats for Havanianas.

Regarding my tag sale purchases: The downfall of my print obsession is that I rarely invest in smart, basic, blank-canvas pieces around which I can build an outfit. The majority of my skirts feature vibrant, exciting prints that become the focal point of an outfit. The printed tops I own can occasionally be mixed. But not every occasion calls for print mixing.

Until this week, I owned a plain black skirt, my red button-front skirt, and that was about it. When the Drawing Parallels Skirts went on sale AND I realized I could take an additional 25% off, thanks to Anthropologie's Tag Sale discount, I decided to go for it. They are cotton and airy. The mediums were exactly the fit I needed. And they proved to be the perfect travel pieces, allowing me to look pulled together in 95+ degree heat. Although the website reviews were mixed, I don't mind the skirt's poofiness. The pleating and the bright colors made them a great deal at $29.95 each. I bought green, navy, and purple. If they had yellow in my size, I would have grabbed that too. Although the web only has navy and white left, there should still be plenty available in stores.

June 13, 2011

Artist's Rendering Dress Review

(Excuse the sleeping eyes and the food baby)

Like many Anthro-lovers, I was enamored of the catalog photo of the Artist's Rendering Dress. It looked so painterly and beautiful. The in-store version was a little less thrilling, but I cannot deny any unique print the chance to wow me. I tried it on last week and was disappointed. It just wasn't cut to fit my body. I am wearing a 10 which was still snug on my hips but a bit big at the neckline. The dress is lined and has pockets. It didn't have a sash. It was a bit long on me and emphasized the fact that I had lunch before arriving at the store. I am passing because even the print cannot make me look past a shape that does not flatter my figure at all. I'm sure it will be great on another body though!

June 11, 2011

Summer work piles up right when I leave town

I was out of town for a few days so I didn't have free time to update. Now that I'm back I am bit behind on everything so I just wanted to share a quick outfit. It has been incredibly hot here. My home lacks central air conditioning and the air conditioning in my car decided to stop working (which is frustrating since I just spent a small fortune on repairs last month). So when I am in Pittsburgh I am dressing for comfort.

This cotton dress was an early xmas gift from Chris that he bought and gave to me in Brazil. I was excited to pull it out for summer since I only wore it once last December. I paired it with my map print bag from ebay, an anthro belt, and flats.

 The blurriness of this photo is ridiculous and for that I am sorry. But the blurriness kind of makes the print of the dress look more like fireworks which is the only reason why I still opted to share.

Fellow PA blogger, Dana of Curvy With a Side of Confidence recently received the Versatile Blogger Award and was sweet enough to pass it along to me. Be sure to check out her great blog! I will have some reviews, outfits, and post trip updates on the blog this week. I hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

June 06, 2011

Mompos Review

I'm so late to the party on this dress but with good reason. Since I've been limiting my shopping, I've also decided to limit the items I try at anthro. Smaller wishlists mean less buying at sale time or otherwise! It's a pretty obvious and effective strategy. The Mompos dress fit very similarly to the Spinning Lace. And although it is very pretty and the fabric is of significant quality, I will be skipping it. I don't know that the shape is one I like enough to have in multiple fabrications. I am wearing a size 8 which is the size of my spinning lace dress. There is ample bust room. The hips are free. The waist is true. It has an attached slip with crinoline to add poof to the skirt. It is indeed very pretty but indeed something I have no reason to own.

Regarding more critical, conscious shopping, I want to suggest the following: Although this article focuses on fast fashion, I think it makes some really salient and more general points about materiality, identity, and the constitution of an aesthetic self (not to mention its smart analysis of the role of social media in fostering the desire to brand human identities among its users). The title is the Accidental Bricoleurs by Rob Horning, and my very smart friend, Shar linked it on her Twitter.

June 05, 2011

Sweet drinks, Sweet jams

Tonight Chris is going to be DJ'ing at the Brillobox. He will be featuring a lot of great psychadelic music from the 1960s, some Brazilian sounds, soul from the 70s, and more! There's a cheap veggie dinner special (available for $6 'til the food runs out), a full menu otherwise, and as always, lots of fantastic beers. On Friday night, I drank the most delicious caipirinha I've have outside of Brazil at Brillo, so those will surely be flowing.

I still have to decide what to wear but am thinking about some version of this:

I wore it during the day on Friday to run errands and meet up with my friend Rachel. While out and about, this See by Chloé dress garnered so many compliments from strangers! I love when that happens. Anyway, stop by the Brillobox tonight and say hi if you are in Pittsburgh!

June 02, 2011

Daytime Wedding Attire

Inspiration board. I have a number of weddings to attend this wedding season, so I am trying to plan out how to dress. I love these options for daytime.

June 01, 2011

Blue and blurry OOTD

Gap cardi
Anthro dress and necklace
Map print bag from ebay
Flats from Brazil

The blurriness of these photos is ridiculous. Blah... car problems meant that camera upgrades have been tabled for now. But I wanted to share this outfit anyway. I cannot fathom wearing a cardigan again any time soon. But the other day it was totally possible, at least at night.

I did take Speck to Petco yesterday to chill out in some a/c. Then Chris and I caved and put in the window unit. She is the happiest pup now. Hopefully we can turn it off and use some window fans only, after the heat breaks.


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