My Take on the Great Cardigan Controversy

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy stirred up a firestorm recently when she called a cardigan “the easiest way to ruin a good outfit.”  It was one of her most commented-upon posts of the year.  Cardigans!  People feel strongly about their cardigans.

I have to agree with her for the most part.

So many times I think, “What’s wrong here?  Can’t I just throw on a cardigan?”  And the answer is no (no, no, nope).

I tried finding a pink cardigan to wear with a black dress for a school auction earlier this year.  I was hoping for something like this:

Instead I ended up with this:


and this:


I returned them both and went without.  Fortunately it was a warm evening.


Another example is one night long ago when Pat and I went out for dinner.   I have a hard time with dressy-casual outfits.  I wore a sleeveless top and jeans.


Because it was nighttime and slightly chilly, though, I threw on a cardigan.


It killed any potential that outfit had.  (I still wore it.  Marriage, you know.)  In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t so awful, but it wasn’t great.

A blazer would have been better.  I love my navy blazer.



On the other hand, some of my favorite outfits over the past few years included cardigans.

IMG_1511 IMG_1457 photo (18)


It bothers me at this deep deep level that I can’t have a just a few pieces that all go with each other.

But a completely mix-and-match wardrobe only seems to work if your pieces are all the same shape.  The same cardigan that goes with skinny jeans most likely will not go with flared jeans and an A-line dress, too.

I’ve thought and thought about this (chronic overthinker here!) and I’ve concluded: it’s all about proportion.  Aesthetics and beauty are all about proportion, right?  Symmetry is the most universally accepted standard of beauty.  The aesthetics of proportion are unavoidable.  Who am I to think I can get away with wearing any old cardigan with anything?  Nature and nature’s laws, etc.

How that for starting out with cardigans and ending with philosophy?  Are you impressed yet?


Never mind, I’m going to shop for more blazers.



Some Sunday outfits of late

Happy Mother’s Day!

In case you’re interested, here are some Sunday outfits I’ve worn lately.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a nap to take and brunch to digest. 😉



Pinspiration from MK of Outfit Posts:

Past weeks (why do I tilt my head for photos?  I’m self conscious about this now):







Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for WIWS.

Dressing Up A Whole Month of Sundays






Plus an example of how a camera is more honest than a mirror.

This is what I wore today:


Let’s just skip the week before, but the week before that I started out with this:


It looked okay in the mirror.  But taking a picture (before Mass, which is unusual), made it clear that the belt wasn’t working.  It kept slipping down on the slippery material.

So then I tried this (a bit school marmish, that is to say, more so than usual):


This is what I settled on:


And the week before:


I haven’t had much fun dressing for Mass lately.  I’ve put on what Heather calls a “winter layer.”  Anyone else put on a winter layer?  Never do I feel those extra five pounds so much as when I put on a pencil skirt.  Ugh.

It just now occurred to me: Lent comes at a good time, doesn’t it?  Right at the end of winter, when it’s time to shed our winter layers and get outside and move and stop drowning our wintertime blues in chocolate and chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. . . . Oh, that’s just me?  Ahem.  Anyway.

Here’s to Spring!

And to Fine Linen & Purple!


My Minimalistic Fall/ Winter Mom Uniform

Don’t get too excited. It’s shockingly similar to last year’s.

— 1 —


My “inspiration” was this outfit I saw on Pinterest (can’t find the original source):


To be honest, I usually wear this cardigan with a knit top, because I hate ironing the chambray one, and it’s less comfortable.

— 2 —


— 3 —


Old Navy has redeemed itself with this sweater.

— 4 —


I have a few other cotton tops that I also wear with this cardigan . . .

— 5 —

Like this (you’ve seen this outfit before).


— 6 —

IMG_4615 IMG_4627

Cotton Lands’ End sweater I picked up at a consignment shop recently. Not my favorite ever, but good enough to keep for this season at least.

— 7 —


This sweater/scarf combo is an old reliable for me. It probably looks better with the wider legged jeans, come to think of it.

I have two pairs of jeans that I wear regularly: Loft curvy straight leg jeans (I grin every time I write this . . . curvy straight . . . hah!) (currently 50% off), and an old pair of Levi bootcut/ trouser leg jeans. I also have two other pairs as backup.

Throughout the Fall, I wore these outfits with the stretchy cotton Lands’ End blazer I wrote about earlier.

I had some trouble getting a good shot of the blazer in action.

But I tried valiantly . . . .

IMG_4483 IMG_4486 IMG_4488

So that’s it. Three sweaters, three cardigans, a few knit tops, two jeans, two pairs of boots, one pair of Sperry’s (really looking forward to replacing the latter). Pretty much what I wear every single day. I do have a heavier sweater for really cold outings, plus a law school hoodie for those days that just call for a sweatshirt.

It works pretty well for me. The thing no one tells you about minimalism though . . . it gets boooring. Especially when half of your sweaters are from 2009. Here’s hoping for a new year filled with many new sweaters . . . well, two or three anyway.

A Classic, Feminine Maternity SAHM Wardrobe From Lauren

I’m happy to have a guest post today from Lauren, who shares her SAHM style, maternity edition.   Lauren is the mother of a little girl and a little boy, with Baby #3 coming in January.  She blogs at The O’Briens.

I love the topic of SAHM style because honestly there was almost nothing out there to guide me when I started staying at home 3 years ago.  I kind of figured out my personal style through trial & error and thinking about what in my closet made me feel classic, feminine & put-together – and then slowly buying more of those types of clothes.  Now I have a pretty good mix & match wardrobe of sweaters + skirts, with boots or leggings & ballet flats.  Mainly if I go out with the kids it is to the library, the park, Target/Costco/Grocery store, or church for preschool coop/daily mass.


My favorite accessory is a scarf … I’m not big into jewelry because I feel like the kids just grab it off.  Scarfs / cardigans are easy (washable) ways to add color.  Also I intentionally avoid clothes that need to be ironed, washed in a special way (dry clean only), or can’t be dried. 

Since I am 7 months pregnant right now, most of this stuff is Motherhood Maternity (pink dress), or Ross Maternity (yellow top, navy blue top).  Both scarves are pashminas from Italy & Spain when I traveled abroad years ago.  Boots are from Italy (hand-me-downs from my sister), and the silver ballet flats are from Marshalls.  Everything else is either a thrift store find, or 4 years old from Gap / Ann Taylor Loft / etc.

Fall maternity SAHM style

Here I mixed up some of the styles above for different outfits (& my oldest, Grace jumped in some pictures :-).  The green sweater is from Kmart, beige sweater from Motherhood Maternity outlet (and here I am wearing it last pregnancy during Christmas time).  The teal top and jean skirts are all thrift store finds.  The gray sweater with rhinestones is from Burlington Coat Factory’s maternity section – which I just discovered & love.

So I hope this helps other SAHMs who are trying to find that perfect mix of comfortable clothes for running after kids, while still looking nice & feeling good about how you’re dressed every day!

 Thank you, Lauren!  I  like how you incorporate several different colors that look especially good with your hair and skin tone.  Beautiful!


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!


Style & The SAHM: How To Look Less Bad

Never let it be said I don’t learn from my mistakes.

How To Look Less Bad

After my recent wardrobe malfunction . . .


here’s what I’m doing differently, wearing the same pair of jeans and a similar top:

How to Look Less Bad--AFter

1.  Higher ponytail: Just putting a ponytail higher on my head looks perkier (as one commenter pointed out).

2.  Colorful cardigan:  Neutrals are classy, but I think most of us need some color.  So much gray was too blah.  The scarf, while having color, was not the right color, nor the right shape, nor tied well.  Just wrong in so many ways.  It went in the give-away bin.

3. Trimmer cut: A long, oversized cardigan, obviously, can look really good, but it takes some finesse to avoid looking like I’m wearing a bathrobe.  I don’t have finesse at 6:30 in the morning.  A more moderately-sized cardigan is more versatile.  (The gray, oversized one is going to Twice.)

4. Spiffier shoes: Birkenstocks can look okay but, like an oversized cardigan, they require some finesse.  You have to go all-out boho, I think, or be tall, thin, painfully chic and preferably blonde.    These Top-Siders are a bit more versatile.

So I think I’ve gone from an “F” to a “C” or so.

A more fashionable look with  wide-legged/flared/bootcut  jeans like these would be to wear heels.  But . . . um . . . what kind of a freak would I look like wearing heels to preschool drop off?  Another option is to wear skinny jeans with boots.  But I don’t want to wear boots on these in-between days when temps might start in the fifties but later reach the eighties.

So, my friends, you’ll have to go elsewhere for cutting edge fashion.  But stick with me if you want to peer deep into the depths of frumpdom . . . and then watch me claw my way out.

What I Wore Sunday: Clothes For Fickle Weather

Any other SAHMs out there interested in writing about your style struggles and successes (or work-from-home moms, or part-at-home/ part-outside-the-home working moms)?  I’m in the market for guest posts.  I am usually at the top of Google’s search results on this topic, if you can believe it.  But there’s only so much material I can generate on my own (ahem).   Let’s discuss: thisfelicitouslife @ gmail dot com.

Last week the weather was hot and I wore this, but I was quite warm with the cardigan and all:

blue skirt, pink cardigan, teal tank with sequins

And today is rainy and wet and I wore this and it was just right.

IMG_4176 Trench coat, green Old Navy polka dot sweater

Aaaaaaand that’s all I’ve got.  Happy Sunday everyone, especially all of you linking up at at FL&P today!

Related articles

Fall Momiform FAIL

Fail, fa-FAIL!-fuh -fail.

I rolled out of bed this morning and put on what I put on almost every day: jeans, dark blue tee, gray cardigan.  Plus a scarf or necklace or something.  Today, something just didn’t feel right.  I asked Pat to snap a picture (photos are more objective than the mirror; don’t ask me why).

This, this! is what I saw:


Huh? What the. . .  ? I can’t even . . . . How?  How is this happening to me? ??!!!

I’ve obsessed about my mom-drobe for how long now?  I have how many pins on my “cardigans” Pinterest board?  And for what?  For this???


I love this cardigan because it feel like a comfy bathrobe . . . Earth to Laura: It looks like a comfy bathrobe!

You see?  As soon as I let my guard down, BOOM!: the frumpies are back.

So, keeping things positive . . . here’s my action plan:

For now,

  • Loose cardigan only with slim-fitting jeans; only slimmer fitting tops with aforepictured jeans (there goes that completely mix and match wardrobe I was going for);
  • Ditch this scarf, and
  • Brush up on scarf-tying skillz;
  • Only Sperrys with these jeans, no more Birks (too warm yet for boots, new shoes not in budget); and
  • Hair . . . do . . . something.

For next year,

  • More fitted cardigan
  • More color
  • Cute flats (leopard?)
  • Replace jeans
  • . . . never leave house.

Until next time, this is Laura Christine, reporting to you live from Frumpsville.  Signing off.

(Here’s the post going over  what I learned from this fiasco: How to Look Less Bad.  Also, I sold the cardigan on eBay for like $15.  Not a total loss.)

Dress, Cardigan, Sweater, Boots and Thoughts on WIWS

Here’s what I wore to Mass today:

I’m linking up with the ladies at FL&P today.  It’s been a while.  The number of bloggers participating in the What I Wore Sunday linkup has declined, and that makes me sad.  It’s been such a fun activity.  I’ve gotten some great outfit ideas and, more importantly, met some great bloggers.  Bloggy friendships aren’t the same as real-life friendships, but I still think they enrich my life.

At the same time . . . I wonder if anyone feels the same way I do: that it’s a bit weird to keep posting pictures of oneself week after week.  I don’t mean to fish for compliments.  I really don’t.

I don’t think less of others when they post outfit shots, so why should I feel uncomfortable with it myself?  I don’t know.  When you put together a nice outfit, I like to read about it on your blog.  So when I put together a nice outfit, I like to blog about it.

Just don’t feel like you need to leave a compliment if you don’t want to.


Happy Sunday!