Style & the SAHM: The Quest Continues

two years later . . . .

It’s been almost two years since I wrote Style & the SAHM: A Quest, the beginning of an on-again, off-again series.  I’ve been less enthusiastic about my quest lately (gaining 20 pounds will do that to you).  Still, the quest continues.  Here are some lessons learned from the past fall and winter . . . which, in April, is helpful to no one in my hemisphere . . . you can bookmark this to read come October.  😉

1. If you try on a sweater at TJ Maxx

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and don’t buy it and then find yourself, thinking about it a lot, you should go back and buy it.  You’ll wear it a lot.  Especially, since you’ve been on the lookout for a flattering,  white, non-scratch, cableknit sweater for a long time.

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2. When in doubt, ditch the bootcut jeans and sneakers and go for skinny jeans (or LOFT curvy straight leg jeans) with boots, especially if you have a drapey top.  Also, those red bowling clown shoes were a mistake.

See example A

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vs. Examples B and C

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3. But bootcut jeans aren’t always a bad choice, if your top is more on the fitted side.  And even those red sneakers, well . . .

IMG_7660 IMG_76614. If you have a round face and broad shoulders to begin with, and then gain weight, you’ll wish you had bought more v-neck, drapey tops like this one from T.J. Maxx . . .

IMG_8211 IMG_8227and this one from Express (didn’t buy it but should have):

IMG_7639and fewer fitted crewnecks like these.  The pictures were taken when I bought them a year ago–they’re more snug now 😦

IMG_7579 IMG_76385. If you find yourself at a coffee shop wearing the same sweater as someone else, then later notice that she has taken off the sweater and is now wearing just the shirt underneath, take a good look at yourself, and ask

“Would I want be dressed like me?”

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Lesson learned: beware the siren song of the elastic waist.  When in doubt, wear jeans.  😉

Also, after two years, it was time for another closet purge.  It’s amazing how much piles up, even when I try to be pretty minimalist.

Most of these things I gave away, or am in the process of giving away.  A few I saved for a different season.  A very very few I couldn’t bear to part with and saved in hopes of losing weight.

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Now the extent of my wardrobe is this:

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and this:

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with one box in the closet of out-of-season or too-small things I’m hanging on to.

The battle against frumpiness and clutter takes constant vigilance.

Keep fighting the good fight

{And click over to Jenna’s blog for more five favorites posts.}

My first Stitch Fix!!!! {March 2015}

At last! / My StitchFix has/

come alo-ong/

my-ii nakey days/

are over . . . .

Exaggerating.

Only slightly.

My first Stitch Fix arrived Wednesday morning.  I had committed to working the whole day, and I forbade myself from opening the box until I finished my work.  That was motivation, let me tell you.

Aren’t they lovely?
Aren’t they won-der-fuh-ull?

I’ve been reading a lot about Stitch Fix.  It seems every blogger I follow is trying them.  (They have a good FAQ page describing the system here.  No need for me to rehash it here.}

I was very specific about what I wanted.  SF has you fill out a detailed “style profile,” detailing your size, body type, color preferences (I told them no black or gray), and style preferences.)  Also, they suggest you send them a link to a Pinterest board to give them a sense of your style.  I made one specifically for Stitch Fix, and you can see it here.

SF asks you what you’re looking for in each fix.  I told them I was mostly looking for a dress for Easter and another dressy occasion this Spring.  They delivered!  Five dresses–the stylist mentioned in her notes that it’s unusual for a Fix to have all dresses.  It worked for me, because until now I was down to two dresses and one skirt that fit me.

Y’all, I haven’t felt this good about how clothes look on me in a long time.

So, the keepers:

Carlita Multi Chevron Print Maxi Dress
by Loveappella
size Large $78

Carlita Multi Chevron Print Maxi Dress
by Loveappella size Large

I was pretty sure I’d get a maxi dress since I pinned a bunch of them.  I actually pinned this exact dress when I saw it on Stitch Fix’s blog.  Love.  Love!  And it’s made in the USA!

I’m taking it to a seamstress to have the crossover top tacked down, since Girl 2 tends to pull it open and expose my entire bra.  Also, it shows more skin in the back than I’m accustomed to wear to church,

Eh, maybe it’s not a big deal.  But anyway, this would work for church, as well as for the Fall:

My first Stitch Fix! ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

A white blazer or moto jacket or something would be more fun.  A denim jacket will work also.

Uttam Paddy Bird Print Faux Wrap Dress
UK size 14
$114

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

Uttam Paddy Bird Print Faux Wrap Dress
UK size 14

I mentioned to SF I’d like a wrap dress.  They sent me a faux wrap dress, which is probably better.

This dress makes me feel saucy.

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

The pattern has green and orange birds.  I wouldn’t choose those colors myself, but the overall look is great.

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

More than I’ve ever paid for a dress except my wedding dress, but I did get all my work done . . . so I’m keeping it.

The bottom half is pretty snug.  There’s no way I’m leaving the house in it without Spanx.  But that’s becoming my MO for more and more occasions lately.  {Shrug}

“You know I’d rather walk on my lips than to criticize anybody, but, Janice Van Meter.  . .  . I bet you money she’s paid five hundred dollars for that dress and don’t even bother to wear a girdle.” “Looks like two pigs fighting under a blanket.”

Hailey Geo Print Tie-Waist Dress by Ezra
Size L
$58

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

Hailey Geo Print Tie-Waist Dress by Ezra
Size L

I LOVE this one.  It’s lightweight and comfy.  I was thinking it would make a nice everyday dress (not clingy–I could skip the girdle!), then I saw the tag and

duhn, duhn DUHHHHHNNN

100% RAYON, DRY CLEAN ONLY

I know from sad, sad experience that when something is rayon and says dry clean only, it can shrink even if you hand wash it cold.  I will ask them, for next time, not to include anything that is dry clean only

But I love it and I think it will make a good Easter dress, and Pat likes it too.  Maybe Dryel will work?

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

{Incidentally, he saw all the dresses spread out on the bed and was thrilled to see so much color.  I’ve been in a navy blue, black, and gray rut.}

Here are the dresses I’m sending back:

Harlowe Keyhole Dress
by Donna Morgan
size 12
$138

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

Harlowe Keyhole Dress
by Donna Morgan
size 12

This dress looks okay in this one picture–and it has pockets!–but it’s not flattering from any other angle, or in real life.

Me: “This color is kind of . . .”

Pat: “loud”

Me: ” . . . sexy Grandma.”

Besides fitting poorly, it feels a little too Junior League (apologizes to any Junior Leaguers reading this!).  I just think . . .

The Help movie Junior League

Finally,

Neel V-Neck Dress
by Uttam
Size Large

$114

My first Stitch Fix!  ThisFelicitousLife.wordpress.com

Neel V-Neck Dress
by Uttam
Size Large

It looks okay from this one angle (how’ya like my skinny shoulder pose?), but I’ll spare you the shot of the cool back-zipper and uncool, very visible back fat.  Pass!

. . . .

On the whole, I am hooked! The stylist who picked my fix is Jennifer, and I hope she chooses my next!  Some bloggers I’ve read buy all their clothes this way, and I must say it sounds tempting.

Stitch Fix is in no way sponsoring this post.  But, if you’d like to try them out, please use my affiliate link and I’ll be your best friend . . . also, I’ll get a $25 credit.  🙂

Happy weekend everyone!

It’s the time of year for … new shoes.

Casual flats, warm enough for the colder months, comfy enough for all day every day, cute and not orthopedic of you please.

Oh, and if they could be compatible enough with socks, at least so they don’t look dumb if I wear them with unobtrusive socks and long pants, that would be greaaaat.

It’s getting too cold for sandals. And some days you don’t want to pull out your boots. And I’ve taken the SAHM’s no-clunky-athletic-shoes-except-at-the-gym pledge. (I just made up the part about the pledge.)

My pink Minnetonka mocs worked pretty well for the past year. But they’re showing their age. I’m not sure a professional cleaning would be cost effective, or effective at all. Plus they have absolutely no support.

A cute pair of sneaks could work. I don’t think I’m edgy enough (*snort*) to wear those slip on things that used to be just for grandmas and toddlers but are now what all the cool kids are wearing.

Or even keds. Keds just look like grandma shoes on me. Especially with socks.

Okay everything looks worse with socks.

I think I’ve written about this at least once a year.

My yearly shoe dilemma.

What are your feet wearing these days?

Fall clothes, fat clothes

. . . leggings, parkas, and gosh darn you, LL Bean.

1. Anyone else enjoying the recent posts over at The Mom Edit (fka Ain’t No Mom Jeans), where Shana and her friend Sara tried on clothes at LOFT, Gap, and Target?

I jumped on that bandwagon and ordered the Gap plaid shirtdress (it was on sale).  It fit in with my recent criteria for fall clothes: stuff I can wear over leggings because my jeans felt too tight.

Blip blop bloop.  Super unflattering.

 

Gap plaid shirtdress 2

 

Gap plaid shirtdress 1 Gap plaid shirtdress 3

 

 

2. I also tried Gap’s u-neck marled sweater.  Booooring.  Nothing special.  Blah.  I ordered in a tall, so I could wear it with leggings.  Maybe it would look better in a normal length, but I’m not motivated to try.

gap marled u neck sweater

No thank you.

Gap marled u neck sweater

 

 

3. The one winner from that ordeal was Old Navy’s ponte knit leggings (now sold out in most sizes and colors).  They’re a nice, thick material, closer to pants than to tights.  They’re slightly baggy in the belly area so the wearer is less likely to encounter a, um, dromedary digit situation.  On the downside, they’re starting to pill just a bit after a few wearings.

 

4. I also made a ThredUP order, tried on a bunch of tunic tops and dresses, and kept one.  Then I read the fine print and learned that returns are free only if you order from their mobile app, rather than from their regular website.  $13.39 in return shipping out the window.  Ouch.

Anyway, I kept one dress.  Super boring in the pictures, but it’s fairly flattering and works well leggings.  Plus, only $6 (or $6 +$13.39, depending on how you look at it).

 

5. I also have this tunic, hand-me-down from a stylish friend, to complete my elastic-waisted repository.

style and the sahm

 

 

And in the midst of all this, I lost 3 or 4 pounds, making my jeans bearable again.  So, hooray for options!

This is an interpretive dance showing how much I love these jeans.

 

6. I’m still inclined to choose jackets over cardigans.  But my denim jacket looks dumb with my jeans.  And my navy blazer is a little too dressy for my liking some days.  (Oh, my troubled life.)  So I’m drooling over this jacket:

Women’s Quilted Jacket from Target

The moto jacket trend didn’t thrill me at first, but 3 years in, or however long it’s been, I’m starting to catch the bug.

I also suddenly have this intense desire for a military-inspired parka.  With a fur-trimmed hood, if you please.  This is another trend that I wasn’t into until now that it’s probably over.  But it’s not over enough that the J. Crew ones aren’t still expensive on eBay.  Actually, this is a fairly affordable option:

Sebby Sherpa Hood Parka from Nordstrom Rach

 

But my incredibly blah, shapeless, styleless parka from 6+ years ago just will. not. die.  So I have no good excuse to buy another.

Me in that parka, circa 2008

Me in that parka, circa 2008

Die, LL Bean parka, die!

*Ahem*

What are you wearing these days?

{Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 quick takes.}

 

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:

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and this:

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

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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.

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

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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.

WIWS

 

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?

Well?

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

 

 

A Minimal-ish Summer Momiform, 2014 Edition

Hello everyone!  It’s about time for another installment of my Style & the Stay-At-Home Mom on-again off-again series.  {And the crowd goes wild.}

Style & the SAHM

Last summer was the first summer I really had a week’s worth of outfits that really worked for my lifestyle.  This summer is similar but (I hope) a bit better.  Most of the shirts I wore last year were worn out I was sick of after a year, so I’ve picked up some new pieces.

Last year, I discovered the Athleta Wherever skort.  It worked well, but this year I went with something a little more streamlined and less flowy, the Sweet Sport Skort.  Sadly, it’s sold out except in XXS, last I checked.   There are several to choose from on eBay though (mine is the Tall length).  Also, the “Sweet Sport Skort Active,” which is the same style but shorter, is still available.  It might work for some of you more petite ladies.

I’m still struggling with proportions: what shaped top goes with what shaped bottom (and what shaped items go with my bottom *ahem*).  I feel like I’m missing whatever gene makes this instinctual for some people.

Generally, I’m happier with tops that have some drape.

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I love this linen tee from Madewell.  (Comme ci, Comme ca translates, I’m pretty sure, to “32 years old and desperately trying to stay become hip.”)  My two-year old stretched out the neckline a bit, boo hoo.

And sometimes it makes my arm fall off.  I hate it when that happens.

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Another success is this “tail” shirt from Anthropologie (no longer available in this color):

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It, too, is looking worse for the wear after only a few months.  I’m starting to accept that knit, casual tops are only going to last me one season.

I’ve been a less happy with my Breton tees from Boden.  They’re fine, and better layered with a jacket or puffer vest in the fall.  But on their own . . . boxy and not especially flattering.

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I think more fitted, stretchy knit tees can be an elegant, minimalistic choice.  But for those of us with a bit of a tum to hide, drapey is the way to go.  

Even then, drapey can be difficult, as in the case of this linen baseball tee from J. Crew, which I purchased recently on sale.  It’s hard to get it to look right.  On its own, it’s too shapeless, I think:

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Better with a necklace:

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Okay-est with a half-tuck, I think.

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I think???

Another piece I wear with some frequency is this dress from Old Navy:

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It’s my first foray into wearing dresses for every day.  I finally got around to having it altered, and I’m glad I did.

Okay, surely there’s a law against posting this many blurry pictures of oneself on the internet in one day.  So I’m stopping here.

And for the fun of linking up with Heather for Five Favorites Wednesday, here are five of my favorite pieces that I’m wearing this summer:

1. Birkenstock Gizeh sandals

2. Crocs Estiva ballet flats (currently on sale)

3. Madewell linen tee (currently on sale)

4. Athleta Sweet Sport Skort

5. These prescription sunglasses from Firmoo.  Now I can see without squinting outside.  Possibly my favorite purchase of the year.  Firmoo usually has a promo code for free shipping, or for 50% off your first purchase.

What about you?  What are you wearing this summer?

Mama’s Gone Shoppin’

A little Anthropologie action for you . . . and can Crocs be cool??  Read on.

I made my first Anthropologie purchase ever.  I’ve yet to set foot into one of their stores.  And I didn’t have the courage to venture beyond the Sale page on their website.

I’ve resolved to stop automatically shopping the clearance racks when looking for clothes.  Instead, I try to buy fewer but better quality items that are perfectly suited for me and my life.

But . . .

Anthro’s expensive, yo?  Baby steps, baby steps.

1.  So I love this shirt, the Tail Stripe Tee.  I’m up to maybe . . . five nautical stripe tees now.  But I don’t care.  Pat said, “I like your shirt.  It’s very . . . you.”  Yup.

Anthro tail stripe tee

Except that it has a tail.

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Has anyone watched that show Orphan Black?  There’s this character with a tail.  And it gets more disgusting from there.  *Shudder*  I would prefer a little less tail, but I still like that it’s interesting in the back.

Also, it runs very large.  This is a size down from what the size chart says I should be.

2.  New Birkenstocks (see first pic).  I just love the way Birkenstocks feel on my feet.  It’s like getting a massage with every step.  I kid you not.  I did not like how my former pair looked.  So I sold them on eBay (can you believe it? (not that I came even close to recouping my costs tho)) and bought the Gizehs.

3. Some other Anthro winners:

This tee (the seamed scoopneck):

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Zebra sweater (pardon me . . . the “Quagga pullover“).  How cute is this?  Can’t wait for Fall now.  Kind of.

Anthropologie Quagga Pullover

 

This blouse (the Estrie Henley).  Hard to see the detail in the photo.  But it’s a nice date night/ dressy blouse, which is something I was lacking.  Looks better with white jeans.

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Anthro Estrie Henley

 

4.  Moving on to shoes, can you believe these are Crocs??

IMG_6183 (2) IMG_6185 (2) IMG_6188 (2)

 

 

They’re Crocs’  “Ballerina Estiva” designed by some guy named Stefano Furiano.  Stefano don’t know bleep about punctuation.

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But he knows his sh . . . shoes.  He knows his shoes.

So expensive, but I think I’ll wear them a LOT.  They aren’t quite as comfy as my Birks, but they’re nice and cushy.

They run large though.  I ordered a full size smaller than I regularly wear.  Probably the first time I’ve worn a single-digit shoe size since Girl 2 was born.

Full disclosure, these are not as cushy as regular Crocs, which I tried on for the first time recently.  (Gotta love free both-way shipping from Zappos.)

My feet went “Ahhh.”  And I went,  “So that‘s why everyone wears Crocs.”  The leopard print Kaydees looked cute from a distance but the print is just horrible close-up.  See how the spots are stretched out in the back?  That’s exactly how they look in real life.  So they went back.

5.  And to round it all out, another nautical striped tee (same one I already have, but in a different color).  I just can’t help myself.  J. Crew Factory was having a sale (and today, they’re having an even better sale–50% off everything).  What could I do?

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You can go make dinner, Laura, that’s what you can do.  And put a diaper on your nekkid two-year old before she piddles on the floor.

Signing off.

But not before I link up with Hallie.

 

 

 

 

Old Navy Spring 2014 In Review

Plus a bit o’ Lands’ End and Athleta.

Girl 1 and I made a trip to Old Navy not long ago.  Here are some highlights.

The fit and flare jersey dress (first spotted on Ain’t No Mom Jeans):

Old Navy fit and flare dress

I think this will be my go-to summer day dress (the kind I was hoping to find at Boden).  Unfortunately, it is not very forgiving of the cortisol baby I’m carrying around in my midsection.  (The picture doesn’t show it, b/c I’m sucking in my gut with all my might. )  So I went up a size (XL), and found it more flattering in the midsection but too big in the top and armholes.

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So, I bought the XL and plan to have it taken in up top.  It’s counterintuitive to bother getting alterations on a cheap, Old Navy dress.  But I wouldn’t think twice about getting alterations for a pricey special occasion dress I’d only wear once, so why not drop $20 on something I probably will wear dozens of times?  That’s my thinking.

The black and white is cute, also, but washes me out, I think.

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This dress on the other hand:

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Hospital gown chic.  No thanks!

 These cotton sweaters are similar to the polka-dotted one I got from Old Navy over a year ago, which I’ve worn and worn and worn again.  So I have high hopes.  I went with the anchor print.

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I ordered a tall just for kicks, and wow, it’s tall.  Never mind.

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This sweater was blah and not flattering.  (Surprise!  It’s even blah and unflattering on the model.)

Old Navy v neck cable knit sweater, women's

A silky, drapey top paired with skinny jeans is a good look, generally, I think.  But I just wasn’t feeling it with this top:

Old Navy women's printed crepe top

This top is pretty.  I might have gotten it in white, but the back is very sheer (“slub knit” is always the tip-off, isn’t it?).

Old navy lace front slub knit top

I ordered this skirt online and I love it.  The stretchy panel on top is flattering.  The fabric is very lightweight, so I wouldn’t wear it without a slip or a shaper.  Still, it doesn’t cling the way I was expecting it to.  I might get wild and crazy and order it in a color other than dark blue.  That’s right; I just might!  (I also tried this similar skirt from Lands’ End, and the ON skirt won out.)

Old Navy fold over jersey knit skirt

Girl 1 found a dress she likes.  She’s worn it almost every day, usually along with this cardigan (unbuttoned and tied in front, ’cause that’s the way we roll).  I wouldn’t mind a bit more material up top on the dress.  She’d prefer wearing a strapless ball gown to preschool.  This is an acceptable compromise.

Old Navy girls' floral print maxi sun dress

Real quick, I love this cardigan from Lands’ End.  I had looked for something similar in cut to my old pink cardigan that I’m wearing to shreds.  I ordered the cardigan in a M.  It’s held up in the wash so far, ‘though I’ve laid it flat to dry.

Lands End womens cable knit v neck cardigan

I also am loving my puffer vest.  I’m tempted to buy more colors.  (You’re a minimalist, Laura, remember?  You’re a minimalist.  Come on.)  But, it’s back up to $35 after being on sale for under $20.  So maybe I’m not as tempted.

Lands End core down puffer vest

Aaaaand, I think this will be my skort for the summer (in a Tall).  The ones I wore last summer were just a bit too flowy for my tastes.  I’m hoping to recoup some $$ on eBay.

Okay, I hope you were edified . . .  or something . . . by all that.  Thanks for reading!

Straight, Skinny, or Boot? A Pear’s Denim Dilemma

My favorite jeans are half off today, making them about $35.  I think I’ll order another pair.

This is an interpretive dance showing how much I love these jeans.

This is an interpretive dance showing how much I love these jeans.

LOFT’s curvy fit straight leg jeans: they’re super stretch and comfortable, but they don’t stretch completely out of shape until about the end of the second day.  They’re snug enough to fit into boots without (too much) bunching at the knees.

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All the same, I don’t think they’re a great look for me except with boots.  They create what others have called a “triangle” or “piano leg” out of my bottom half.  “Straight leg” jeans are a misnomer if you’ve got a full hip and thigh area.  If jeans really go “straight” from your hip down, then you’ve got a wide or trouser leg jean.

I really dig the look of a trouser leg pair of jeans, or a bootcut that isn’t too tight in the thigh and knee.

Boden wide leg jeans

I haven’t quite found the perfect pair for me (these look promising but I’m waiting until they go on sale).

It rankles the minimalist in me: needing two cuts of jeans, one to wear with boots and one to wear with flats (and possibly another, longer pair to wear with heels). Especially as certain tops may work with one cut of jeans and most definitely not work with another.

But I’m aiming to have two great pairs of each cut and deal with it.

How about you?  What’s your favorite style of jeans?