Boden Spring 2014 Review

And other retail therapy hits and misses . . . .

It’s a funny thing, online shopping.  You see the picture of the model, and it gets you all optimistic.

Casual Weekend Dress

Then you try it on and try to convince yourself that you look at least like a more-fit version of yourself:

Boden casual weekend dress

Boden casual weekend dress

But then you look reality squarely in the face:

Boden casual weekend dress


Again, fantasy:


Boden jersey dress

Boden jersey dress


Amelie dress


Boden Amelie dress 2014

Cut it out Laura

size 10 UK

This is turning into one of those I-hate-my-body rants, and that’s really not what I mean to do.

I guess my points here are (a) online shopping is a tricky mind game and (b) it’s best done with free shipping and returns and (c) none of these dresses was really flattering to me.

By the way, the dresses were all US size 10 Long, which matched my measurements on Boden’s size chart, so they run pretty true to size.

Fortunately, there are lots of polka-dotted shirts in the world (currently $15 at Ann Taylor, only size M left; I got a L.):


And stripes (Boden’s short sleeve Breton; with my wide shoulders I found this top most comfortable in a US 12, tho according to the size chart I’m a [perfect?] 10):


Because I clearly needed more dots and stripes:


And I think I’ll catch the tail end of the puffer vest trend, before it’s gone.  Lands’ End has down vests for $20 — $15 right now, with a promo code that ends 2/26/14.  

Lands End Core Down Vest

As the number of my long-sleeved shirts recently has expanded from 2 to 6, I think I feel my late winter/ early spring uniform taking shape.

But for now I need to get out of my pajamas.  😉

How about you?  Any retail therapy hits or misses?

7 Quick Takes About Fingernails (Again), Valentine’s Day, Clothes and Shoes

1.  I wrote a quick little review of Kisses for Katie, over at Mary’s blog, Atelier.  If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2.  I followed Mary’s advice for a Valentine’s night in, almost to the letter, and it was really nice.


Valentine’s date night in: raspberry Belgian ale, flourless chocolate cake, and pina colada sherbet!

We watched Romantic’s Anonymous on Netflix, which both (!) Pat and I found entertaining.  I would have changed the ending though. (And does it bug anyone else that so many movies feature a male romantic lead so much older than the female romantic lead?) . . . Actually, never mind.  I just looked it up and the lead actress is only 7 years younger than the lead actor.  But man, she looks a lot younger.  Anyway . . .

It made me want to watch more French films.  It’s one thing to read about the Frenchwoman mystique, and quite another to watch it.  I get it a bit more now.

3. My first attempt to rejoin the world of fingernail painters was a bust.  I used Sally Hansen Hard As Wraps for a base coat (accidentally ordered the top coat instead of base coat), an old bottle of red Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, and the Vinylux top coat recently of Camp Patton fame.  It was chipping before 24 hours was up, and by the end of the second day it looked like this.


I never gave much thought to my cuticles, but they don’t look so hot close up, do they?

But a bottle a OPI Sweet Innocence, per Nichole’s advice, is on its way to me.

4. Amazon sends me an email every day, apologizing profusely for a shipping delay with the aforementioned nail polish.  It’s okay, Amazon, really, it’s okay.  Whole lotta snow out there.  I understand.


5. Pat was really sweet in how he ordered a Valentine’s Day gift for me.  He went to my web browsing history and specifically looked for what I had viewed on Boden’s website.  And he ordered me a dress.  Unfortunately, I already had ordered myself the same dress and returned it, because it didn’t look good on me.  But it was a really thoughtful idea.

6. I know I‘m not the only one excited by the newest Boden catalog.  I’m finding that a lot of their stuff doesn’t look as good on me as it does on the models (surprise surprise).  I’m hopeful to get at least a couple of winners for my summer momiform, though.

7. I finally replaced my old Sperry’s with a pair of pink Minnetonka Kilty mocs, for my requisite pair of casual-flats-with-which-I-can-wear-socks.  They would look better without socks, but I just really really need socks.  But anyway, I found them at our local general store for $7 less than Zappos!  I hesitate to jump on the “buy local” bandwagon.  When I see a “Do You Know Your Farmer” bumper sticker it just seems so smug and self-righteous to me.  And plenty of virtuous people don’t have the time or money to buy local but feel guilty about it.  And I hate that.

But every now and then you find just what you want locally for a good price, and it feels really good.

The end.  Click over to Jen’s for more quick takes.  Happy weekend!

A New England Fall Momiform

I’m very happy to have a guest post today from my cousin-in-law, Monica. (That sweet baby girl whom you see below is my girls’ second cousin!) Monica has put together a classy, casual Fall wardrobe, which she has kindly allowed me to share with you all today:

Hi! I’m Monica and I’m a SAHM to a ten month-old girl. I have been following Laura’s Style and SAHM series for a while and have been working to apply her advice in hopes to step-up my wardrobe. I’m happy to be here to share some of my favorite wardrobe pieces, why they work for me and what I’ve learned along the way.

Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned while de-frumping my wardrobe is this: clothes simply must fit in order to look good. Most jeans are too long on me and generally look sloppy as a result. These ankle-length jeans from Banana Republic are the perfect length and look great with flats or boots.


I’ve also learned that wearing socks with flats is a semi-big fashion no-no. So now I only wear these brown Lucky leather flats in the spring, summer and fall. Sans socks.

I like to wear bright solid colors like this festive orange sweater below. It’s just the right amount of fun for fall without risking being too Halloweenish and looking more like a kindergarten teacher than a SAHM.



^^ I love this Boden tunic. It’s so easy to just throw on and I always feel put together when I wear it. With it, I like to wear Cresta Wool Midweight Base Layer leggings. They keep me warm, are very soft, never fade AND come with a lifetime guarantee from LLBean. Worth every penny!


This cardigan sweater is perfect for me. It’s long, so it looks great over my leggings or skinny jeans, has a tie around my waist and is a wool/cotton blend so it keeps me warm. The cream/winter white color also works with my complexion because it doesn’t wash me out like plain white would.


^^ A staple thrift store find: This cream colored Gap body shirt goes with everything I own. I like it because it was inexpensive, lightweight 100% cotton and the color provides a nice background for brighter statement pieces like necklaces, scarves and vests.20131015_184000

Every now and then I stumble upon a real gem at a great price. This yellow vest was a ThredUp find and I just love this fun statement piece. It serves as a nice reflector while walking in the evening, too.

Fashion for me is functional and fits my personality. I try to invest in quality foundation pieces, like jeans and shoes. Then I like to have fun with color and less expensive items that add personality to my outfit and make me feel good in what I’m wearing.

Thanks, Monica! I think you’ve put together a great Fall wardrobe!


Summer mom uniform with skort

Wow!  Just published this without realizing it.  Sneaky Polyvore.  But I’ll let it stay.  This is pretty much how my summer mom uniform has shaped up.  I am loving my skort from Athleta.  More later . . .
Summer mom uniform with skort

Lands End evening top

Mossimo top

Loft top

Wherever Skort


Birkenstock shoes

Chain jewelry

Nina earrings

Gold disc necklace

H m scarve
$7.82 –

Wherever Skort | Athleta

Getting To the Bottom of It [Style & the SAHM]

or: The Long and the Short of It

or: Clerks At the Returns Desk Tremble When I Walk In

or: I Hope Y’All Appreciate Everything I Go Through For You!!

I don’t remember whether I’ve said it explicitly, but a basic premise of my quest is that I want to be completely satisfied with the clothes I wear.  I’ve gone through most of my life feeling . . . meh, okay . . . at best, about how I look and, more specifically, how I dress.


I’m a tolerably attractive person, with a healthy BMI, and I think I should be able to feel good about the image I present to the world.  But I’m pushing 31 here; I’ve got two kids (with plenty of bodily evidence thereof); I drive a minivan.  If I don’t get it together now, I don’t know that I ever will.

My husband and I work hard for 100% of the money we earn.  The clothes I buy should work 100% for me.

And all this is a long way of saying:

A good pair of shorts (or crops or capris or whatever) is hard to find.  Especially when one is almost completely limited to online shopping.

I did find some, actually.  I love these shorts from Boden (tho I don’t have any pics of me wearing them yet).

Boden Off-Duty shorts

They’re expensive, but they’re comfortable and, I think, flattering.  They sit just right on my hips.  They don’t fall too low when I bend down.  They do sag a bit in the bum, but I don’t care, especially in a thinner material like chino.  They’re long enough without looking awkward . . . like these do:


Not the look I’m going for

I found this pair of Dockers Bermuda shorts at Goodwill, and I was pretty pleased with them at first.  Pat says he likes them. But after wearing them several times . . . meh.  They aren’t very flattering (the Birks don’t help, but that’s another story).  The at-the-knee length just doesn’t work for me, and they won’t stay rolled up.

Same with these from Target:

Merona Bermuda shorts

I had high hopes for these chinos from Shade clothing:

Shade Clothing chinos

But when I tried them on, it was that old, sad story: the pair that fit in the waist were too tight in the hips and thighs, and the pair that fit in the hips and thighs were falling down in the waist.  And somehow they just didn’t present enough potential to warrant bringing them to a tailor.

Same with these from JC Penney:


These were too tight  and failed to motivate me to swallow my pride and order a size or two up:

Slim chino from Shade clothing

On Mary’s suggestion, I tried these linen pants from Old Navy:

I dig the cool, flowy look:


But the blue isn’t the right shade, and the khaki doesn’t fit right, and I don’t like the other colors. (Typical Old Navy: different colors fit differently.)

I found these and really liked them (despite their being from that place).

Merona 5″ chino shorts

I tried them on and they looked great but I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that led to a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Are these shorts too short?

Pat: . . . Mmm . . . I dunno . . . maybe not . . . . How do they look when you’re sitting down? . . . Eh, well . . . they’re kind of . . . on the line.

Me: They’re the exact same length as my white shorts.

Pat: . . . Yeah, the white shorts are on the line, but I wasn’t going to say anything.


Whether or not they objectively are too short  (the inseam is 5 inches) really doesn’t matter.  If my husband thinks they’re “on the line,” they’re not 100% perfect, satisfactory, great, and I’m not going to buy them.  I want to look and feel chic & classy and appropriate for any occasion at all times (is that really so much to ask??? come on!).  If my shorts are “on the line,” then on a good day I’ll be self-conscious about garnering the wrong kind of attention . . . and on a bad day I’ll feel self-conscious about exposing great expanses of white, blubbery leg flesh.

Self-conscious = no good.

There are a lot of cute cropped jeans out there, but I’ve steered clear of them.  It gets hot here in the Mid-Atlantic, yo?  I can maybe do linen pants or cropped chinos, but denim past my knees is just too much for summer days.

I have this crazy idea that I should try a skort.  Rachel Meeks talks about how great it is to wear dresses in the summer.  I see her point, but I can’t get over my fear of overexposure (as Hallie would understand).  So enter these:

Athleta Whatever Skort

Athleta Wherever skort

I’m about to order them.  We’ll see how that goes.  If they don’t work, maybe I’ll just order a few more pairs of the Boden shorts and be done with it.  I am looking for a uniform, after all.

In the meantime, I wear my Boden shorts as often as I can.  And when those are in the laundry I wear the dreaded Dockers, or the on-the-line white shorts (for 30 seconds or so until they get filthy).  When the laundry situation gets really dire, well, if you knock on my door just don’t be surprised if it takes me awhile to come answer.

image via

“Hang on a sec!  I have to put on my barrel!”         image via the U. of Ky

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Style & the SAHM: Spring/Summer Uniform, Part 2

Last week’s post on my online shopping wins and losses was well received, so I’m doing another this week.

First, here’s an outfit that I’ve worn several times over the past few weeks:

Variation 2 (top from J Crew Factory)

Variation 1 (top from J Crew Factory)

Variation 1 (top from Lands' End)

Variation 2 (top from Lands’ End) (mirror smudges from Girls 1 & 2)

(Blatantly copying the lovely Erika; who wouldn’t? )

I am LOVING my leopard scarf, which I found for cheap at Walmart.  (Woot!)

I’ll do another outfit post as soon as I can . . . .  My photographer, you see: he has his faults . . . but over enthusiasm isn’t one of them.

Yeah, you.

Yeah, you.

And my selfies in the mirror are awful.

Does iPhone’s camera have a self-timer?  Can I get a tripod for it?  These are all things I need to look into.

Anyhoo, here are some winners and losers:

Definite a winner.  Very comfy, perfect length, perfect rise.

I got them in Eucalyptus (a grayish blue).  Very pricey, but Boden was running a 20%, free shipping, free returns deal.  They are 98% cotton, 2% spandex.  The tag says not to put them in the dryer, to which I say, “Pfft.”  If they shrink up, I want my money back.

I ordered the same shorts in terracotta, but they are still backordered.  Good thing too: in the meantime I found some Tommy Hilfiger shorts in almost the same color (the same as this pair, I think) for $4.  They are big and need to be taken in, but still, that’s only $14 for a nice pair of shorts.

For only $10 (or less with the current 20% off promotion), you could buy these from J.C. Penney:

I tried them and they’re cute.   The rise is not too high, not too low.  However, the tie is sewn on in front, so you can’t use other belts.  Also, I’m not crazy about the patch pockets, so they’re going back.  (Note that they run a little smaller than Boden.)

I am keeping this basic pencil skirt from JC Penney, modeled here by moi:


I’m moving from black to navy as my go-to neutral, plus my black pencil skirt is showing signs of age, so I was in the market for a basic navy blue skirt.

I am returning this one from Boden:

Boden Everyday Mini (order in long if you want it, well   . . . longer)

I ordered it in a Long length, which makes it hit right at the top of the knee for me.  It’s lovely and would be versatile if you wear skirts for casual wear.  I’d rather have a skirt I can dress up more, though, so I’m sticking with the non-denim variety.

Here are a few more lovelies that are going back:

J Crew Factory Flutter Pocket Skirt.  You don’t need a pink skirt, Laura.  Put down the pink skirt and back away slowly.

Boden printed cardigan.  Scratchy + I don’t need it + really friggin’ expensive = what was I thinking?


Oh how I love, love this beautiful cardigan but I just. don’t. need it.

You see, we only have one tree in our back yard:


And we can’t even get it to grow peaches, much less money.

I’ll write later, in more detail, on how I’ve dealt with this depressing topic.

For now here are fun striped outfits I found on Pinterest:

Can’t find the original source.

And some vintage summerwear for good measure (check out the terracotta shorts on the left!):

Life Magazine, 1950, via Yeh Yeh Grace

Style & the SAHM: Spring/Summer Uniform, Part 1

**Update: Some of these images are no longer showing up.  I will try to fix this ASAP.**


Warm weather is finally (finally!) here.  Like Lisa, I’ve tried to put some thought into the clothing I buy this summer, so I don’t run to the nearest store (LOFT) in desperation, on 50% off day (like I did last year) and buy everything in sight (resulting in about 50% duds).

A few weeks ago, the only warm weather clothes I had that (a) fit and (b) were not detestable were these:


Five shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of crops.  And even this includes a recent purchase.  AND three of the shirts are on their last leg.

That’s all.

Here are some outfits I like that I found on Pinterest:

via.                                                         But as soon as it’s warm enough for shorts, it’s too hot for a scarf and sweater. So sad.


Forget the shorts, I want that tank! (But apparently it’s no longer available.) 😦

Clearly, my most pressing issue is . . .  just how often can I wear striped shirts before it gets ridiculous?  Can I alternate stripes with polka dots and make that my uniform???

I’m still not sure.

But I’ve been online shopping like a mad woman.

And this is just a small small fraction of it.

And this is just a small small fraction of it.

I’ve only had 1 winner for every 9 or so losers.  Such is one’s lot who lives far far away  from decent shopping.   Thankfully I have free return shipping for most orders.  Here are some winners from my online shopping extravaganza so far:

The shoes: Lands’ End Espadrilles.                                          They also come in polka dot!

Plus a rare thrift store win:

Similar. Dockers via Goodwill.

Pat said, “I like those shorts.”  Really?  Boring navy blue shorts??  Maybe because they are a size-that-shall-not-be-mentioned and I don’t look like a stuffed sausage in them.

Anyway, some losers so far:

Boden pretty ruffle tee.   The dark pink color is lovely. Neckline is just right BUT runs small. I’ll try it a size up.

Boden stitch detail top. Lovely, perfect neckline, lovely fit. BUT 100% high-maintenance viscose. Never mind.

Boden pocket Breton. (I bought it in Navy.) The placing of the top stripe makes *ahem* the girls look droopy.

Lands’ End cropped chinos. Either these run small or . . . (duh duh DUHN) I’m a size bigger than I think I am.  But anyway, the rise is a little high.

  • Shorts/crops in neutral colors 
  • Tank tops (preferably polka dotted!)
  • Skinny belts (I’m thinking leopard and bright pink)
  • Comfy, every day sandals

By the way, you should always check before ordering anything online, to make sure you’re getting all the available discount codes!

What about you?  Do you have a warm weather uniform put together yet?

Good Fences [Would] Make Good Neighbors, and Other Sources of Anxiety

— 1 —

Yesterday afternoon I achieved the Holy Grail of parenthood: two siblings playing outside, together, for a good stretch of time, while I watched from inside:

Don't eat yellow snow, girls!

Don’t eat yellow snow, girls!

— 2 —

Later that evening, I paid a price for my half hour of peace.  At midnight I got an anxiety attack imagining the neighbors’ German Shepherd-ish puppy (the one with looooong legs) jumping our fence and mauling the girls, or at the very least traumatizing them for life.  I came *this* close to waking up Pat and demanding he come up with a plan.   I talked myself down, but I’m still concerned.  Nothing’s happened yet, but I can just tell that dog is gonna jump the fence any day.  Can we demand the neighbors do something before anything’s actually happened?  Or should we preemptively put up a tall privacy fence?  *Sigh*

English: German Shepherd puppy sitting.

The neighbors’ dog looks like this, but bigger and with longer legs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— 3 —

My baby suddenly is becoming a toddler.  She’s been toddling a while but now she’s getting attitude, drama, charm.  She knows to say “hot” when her food is too hot.  She throws herself on the floor dramatically when she wants something.  She gives kisses and says “mwah.”  And she screams when she doesn’t get her way.  Oh man, does she scream.

— 4 —

The honeymoon is over with blogging.  I still have lots of ideas to write about but have trouble motivating myself to write.  I’m going to stick with it though.  I don’t like to give up on something until I’ve given it a year.

— 5 —

I do want to write a series on my attempt to revamp my wardrobe and, at age 30, for the first time in my life, be a well-dressed person.  I’m going to title it “Style and the Stay at Home Mom.”  Get it???  But I just need to start writing.

— 6 —

On that note: my new jeans from Boden arrived yesterday.  I showed them to Pat and he said, “Nice . . . Comfy? . . . Keep ’em.”


Trouble is, I think they’re too comfy.  I think they’re going to stretch out and fall off after the first few hours (as I discussed here).  I wonder if I’m just deluding myself that I need a smaller size?  There’s nothing imaginary, though, about the plumber’s crack I get with my current pair of similarly-comfy-fitting jeans.  *Sigh* The search continues.

— 7 —

Pat made himself a dentist appointment and is there now.  I’m very proud of him.

Happy weekend, folks!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

What I Wore Sunday: Green and Pink Ruffles

Happy Sunday everyone!  Anyone else ready for Spring?  Given the state of the weather, I needed some bright colors this morning:


I’m also wearing a black skirt, black leggings, and black boots. In case you were wondering.

You know, I almost gave away this cardigan?  It has a small stain on it that bothered me, and it was a little too big and boxy.  I took it out after it had spent months in he giveaway bin.  I had to look hard for the stain, so I figure no one else will notice.  And it’s not too big anymore!  Wonder how it shrunk in the closet.  Crazy, huh?

Does anyone else get Boden‘s catalog?  I got my first one the other day, and I am in trou-ble.  Beautiful stuff, and I can see myself wearing just about every outfit.

So many spots and stripes this Spring!

A lot of ladies I know really enjoy J. Crew’s catalog, but I just can’t get into it.  For one thing, there’s the sticker shock   Also, I have to think too hard.  “Okay, I wouldn’t wear the distressed, denim cut-off shorts with the sequin peplum jacket and the neon knee socks with the ankle-strap peep toe heels . . . but maybe I would wear the white tee-shirt peeking out from underneath.”

Kind of like this. Seriously. You know?

Ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat.  Not me anyway.

Apparently J.Crew doesn’t have time for me, either.  They stopped sending me catalogs.  I think the last thing I ordered from them was my wedding dress.


Oops! How did a wedding picture get there?

Okay, enough of my silliness.  Check out Fine Linen and Purple for more Sunday finery!

What I Wore Sunday, or Here’s To Second Chances

So here’s what I wore to Mass today:

Cardigan: Gap Outlet
Dress: From Ross or Marshall’s, very ancient
Belt: Loft
Read more about my awesome boots here

For various reasons, Pat and I went to different masses today and alternated staying at home with the girls.  I wanted to wear a long necklace since I would, for once, be out of reach of Miss Grabster.  Then I realized that all the necklaces I wanted to wear were still broken from when I wore them two years ago when Girl 1 was in this stage.

I did wear some fun danglies though.

Target clearance. No one else wanted to buy these, apparently. Weird, I know.

So about the second chances:  I was all set to give away this cardigan.  Never felt it fit right; wasn’t sure about the color; Pat wasn’t crazy about it.  But then I saw this on Pinterest:

And I tried to kinda-sorta recreate it.  My outfit came out looking pretty different, but it was a combo I wouldn’t have thought to wear otherwise, and it saved my cardigan from being cast off.

Finally, funny story here. This is what the girls wore last Sunday:

Christmas photo day?  Nope.

Saintly Husband got the baby dressed.  When he brought her out, I said, “Oh, you put her in her Christmas dress,” trying to be all neutral and non-judgmental.  He said, “Wha?  That’s not her Christmas dress.”   Somehow he hadn’t noticed the red and white color scheme or the snowmen embroidered across the front.  But neither of us wants to undress and redress the baby more often than necessary, so we let it be.  Then Girl 1 decided it would be fun to wear her Christmas dress (another red corduroy number, handed down from a cousin).  Girl 1 kept asking if we were “going to Christmas” since both girls were wearing their Christmas dresses.  So anyway, we had a little Christmas in mid-November in our family last week.

Check out Fine Linen and Purple for more Sunday finery.  Thanks so much to the ladies there for hosting this fun link-up!  And be sure to check out my sister’s blog; she’s joining us this Sunday for the first time.