Why. No. The Belt Bag.

Rebranding a fanny pack as a “belt bag” doesn’t make it any less a fanny pack. I love that I’m seeing these crop up all over the place, but to me, they belong on a mom or dad at a theme park. One use and one use alone. And you can bet that I sure as hell won’t drop $1800 bucks for something that will invariably get doused when I go down Splash Mountain.

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GG Marmont Velvet Belt Bag – $1,890

Listen, I don’t mind that these are making a comeback from the 80s and early 90s (though it’s been attempted on and off for the past 6 or 7 years, at least, on runways with limited success). What I mind is not calling a spade a spade, and for something to be so on-trend it’s almost useless for daily life. You can fight me on this, but when I have kids, IF I ever elect to wear a FANNY PACK, you can be sure I’ll be proudly rockin’ the Goofy special in some garish neon color, having paid for the Walt Disney tickets with all the money I saved NOT buying these (despite the inarguable stylishness).

September 12 OOTD: Outdoorsy

I just recently returned from spending some time at my in-laws lake house. It’s a bit outside of Yosemite and has a bunch of gorgeous hiking trails, camping spots, and such.

Unfortunately, outdoorsy clothes aren’t exactly cute, are they? I mean, sure there are people that own that ish, but it’s hard to put the outfits together given the just general blah-ness of what we have to work with. So without further ado, here’s a cute outfit for your fall adventures (specifically for mildly cool, not-too-rugged conditions).

Fall Hiking Outfit

TOP: Kuhl Aspira Tank Top – $22.99

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Breathable and layerable, a good base layer for your trekking!

SWEATSHIRT: Alternative Apparel Athletics Hoodie – $15.24 – $54

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I love Alternative Apparel – they’re super duper soft, really breathable, and not too confining. This is not a heavy sweatshirt, so you won’t overheat if you are on a tough trail in cool weather. Nothing worse than getting sweaty and picking up a chill…

VEST: Uniqlo Women’s Ultra Light Down Vest – $39.90

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This is such a great added layer – it scrunches into a tiny-sized carrying case that you can pop into your backpack and pull out as needed. I’d suggest going for a bright color, like red, though this burgundy shade pictured is nice, too.

PANTS: KUT from the Kloth ‘Diana’ Stretch Skinny Jeans – $36.97

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If you’re not getting super rugged, a pair of jeans with comfortable stretch should do the trick. I’m all about premium denim, but not for an activity like hiking, where I’m almost guaranteed to destroy my pants. If I dropped $180 on jeans that snagged on thorns, I think I’d cry.

BOOTS: Kodiak Surrey II Hiking Boot – $121 – 170

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Don’t skimp on price for anything that connects you to the ground! Meaning, don’t cheap out on shoes, tires, or your mattress/bed. Seriously – you’ll thank me later. Having destroyed my feet in fast fashion high heels on cobblestones for a few years, I can assure you that the scars aren’t prettier with each year. And particularly with an activity like hiking, you want your shoes to be sturdy and safe. Make sure you break these in sufficiently, and always wear the appropriate socks when hiking!

OTHER (MAYBE ESSENTIAL?) ODDS AND ENDS

 

July 31 OOTD: Beach Babe

I’ve recently quit my job, and as of next week will actually have some beach time and an ability to go out into the sunshine during the week. If you look at me, you’d have no idea it was the peak of SoCal summer – I’m so darn pasty.

So, here’s a cute beach outfit that also translates well to a glam pool party — looks super luxe.

A DAY AT THE BEACH

BATHING SUIT: Myraswim Enzo One-Piece in Vanilla – $120 AUD

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Hi-cut and with a bustier detail to keep the girls looking perky and… less like headlights, this classy white suit is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Pop on a pair of shorts and wear out like a tank top, tight jeans if you’re going beach-to-clubbing, or just a traditional kaftan or cover-up to complete the look.

COVER-UP: ASOS Design Slinky Glam Long Sleeve Plunge Beach Dress in Rust – $51

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Holy moly, how cute is this dress? I don’t advise blowing a huge budget on cover-ups, though I do think good swim items (specifically bathing suits) are worth the price tag. That said, every cover-up I’ve ever owned has taken a ton of punishment. If I put things on after the beach, light colors get dingy, and it’s difficult to wash items with a lot of beading or embellishment. If I wear things in the sand or poolside, the sand itself is harsh, as well as chlorine and sun – you get regular bleaching punishment. Of course, if you don’t plan to actually go in the water… worry less about what you wear 😉

SHOES: Steve Madden Bandi Platform Wedge – $89.95

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Cork for sand, easy slope, not much that will chafe… and very Côte d’Azur. You can wear these all day with no pain – the straps are textile, not anything that’ll sweat.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

Enjoy your suntime funtime – I know I will!

July 30 OOTD: Sassy Florals

Sorry for my absence – despite best intentions to post twice a day to get this blog up and running initially, real life called. I’ve quit my job and am tying up loose ends.

That said, what this has meant for me is a deep dive into fashion magazines I’m behind on reading, a schedule for how I will fill my days, and a reinvigorated focus on the things I love and am personally trying to accomplish.

Yield: The Florals. I absolutely love the continued presence of big and bold florals we’re seeing across the board, with Gucci and D&G and others. I was ripping out page after page today from Elle to tuck into my sketchbook because this ish made me SO HAPPY. And this mother-daughter post from one of my favorite Instagram accounts (Mrs B.C.) was so darn cute.

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Elle Magazine… June (?) 2018

But, because most of us don’t have a few K just laying around to spend on Dolce and Gabbana, here’s the hot summer rose look for less.

Casual Floral Outfit for Summer

TOP: Rebecca Taylor Silk Blend Floral Blouse – $129.97

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Admittedly on the pricier end of the spectrum for a casual outfit, I think the material is worth the splurge. When looking for something that follows a trend, most of the dupe items you find will be polyester, which frankly doesn’t breathe in the dog days of summer. This is cool and breezy.

BOTTOMS: 7 For All Mankind Distressed Denim Skirt in Montreal – $134.99 (or 40% off retail with code – $80.99)

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I am totally in love with this skirt, and 7FAM jeans are my favorite, by far. This isn’t too short/high, but is youthful enough to be a really good multi-purpose piece – wear to brunch or daytime activities with your boyfriend, or throw on a blazer and sleek blouse and ankle boots for a night at a bar. At the time of prepping this post, there is a 40% off code on Off5th, but these sales are not infrequent – if you miss this, you’ll catch another. Plus, 2% cash back on Ebates.

SHOES: Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Sneaker – $44.97

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These Cloudfoams land on my Wardrobe Essentials list. Unbelievably comfortable and versatile as just a general daytime shoe.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

A Girl Can Dream: Luxury Nightwear

This actually is something a little more attainable in my “girl can dream” series of luxury items. Personally, silk nightwear has always been an indulgent fantasy of mine, but I still haven’t copped because I’m just a gross, disgusting sleeper who sweats through everything, and I imagine I’d ruin anything that wasn’t a plain cotton t-shirt quicker than you can say “deodorant.”

However, if you were going to cop, Lunya does washable silk sleepwear that’s super cute. They have silk kits and slips, as well as short pj sets, but I personally have already put these two items on my Christmas wish list with my husband:

WASHABLE SILK PANT SET – $238

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WASHABLE SILK ROBE – $248

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Not quite as out-of-reach, but more out of budget than strictly necessary. But this segment is all about indulgence, right?

July 23 OOTD: The Not-Outdated Powersuit

I think I’ve made my feelings on suits relatively clear – the time of the old-school power suit has passed. Women’s suiting has a long and illustrious history of an attempt to level the playing field between the genders.

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The 80s power suit in particular, with its gigantic padded shoulders mimicking the broad structured shoulders of Wall Street suits, did a fair amount to visually achieve that goal… and then didn’t progress all that much for 20-30 years. These “modern silhouettes” attempted to liken the genders by, in my opinion, reframing traditional femininity within the outlines of what was perceived to be masculine.*

Unless, of course, they were fetishized.

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*Note that the trend toward androgyny in attire is, at least to my mind, a completely different and intention in fashion, something to reclaim pieces and fashion as “neither-nor”  as a concept when gendering attire, rather than “either-or” and forcing women to choose the latter in order to play with the boys. Own that androgynous style – just recognize the difference and nuance between the motivations of why these styles are worn.

The reality is that we don’t live in a world anymore that sees being womanly or feminine as a weakness – we don’t need to necessarily have to have linebacker shoulders to be taken as seriously as men. Being female is a power in and of itself, and not one that’s sexualized or fetishized – it’s about perfect comfort in ones own skin, in one’s own clothing, and accounting for the sexism behind the office thermostat.

That said, we’re hitting summer sale season. It’s a good time to stock up on your transitional suiting pieces.

THREE SALE SUITING SUGGESTIONS TO HOP ON RIGHT NOW:

#1- THE PRICEY: Theory Sculpted Chevron Jacket and Theory Adbell K Chevron Stretch Pants – Nordstrom Anniversary Sale total: $514.80

Yes, I know this is pricey. This viscose and wool set is the highest end of the price spectrum I’ll suggest today. The chevron print is both timeless and youthful, and these pieces can liven up an outfit when worn either together or separately – plus, I love a good mandarin-style collar. Good suits, with fine cut, cost money, but they should last years. Consider the amortized costs to decide if this is worth it for you.

#2- THE MODERATE: WHBM All-Season Peplum Jacket ($150) and Essential Slim-Crop Pants ($89)

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Super tailored to accentuate the positive, with some unusual detailing to draw away from the strictly-classic structure. The crops would be good for transitional seasons.

#3- THE ULTRA AFFORDABLE: Zara Cape Jacket ($99.90) and Flared Pants ($69.90)

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I love capes! Zara is pretty fast fashion, but with an item as on-trend as a cape, it’s tough to beat the price… plus, no uncomfortable shoulder-pulling from your sleeves, and an easy piece to use/transition into evening wear!

#4- ULTRA AFFORDABLE AND PRONE TO SALES: Nine West Kiss-Front Blazer and Flare-Hem Skirt – $168

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With some added frill detail on the skirt and a notched collar / kiss-front closure, the set pictured here is such a dressed up version of a classic. And Macy’s frequently has sales (48 hour, etc.), and offers up to 12% cash back via Ebates.

Happy suiting!

Shopping Therapy: The Psychology of Stuff – Part 2

All opinions are my own, and I’m not at all a psychologist or any sort of expert — in fact, I’m wholly unqualified to express this opinion (but express it, I will). This piece is simply a very unofficial exploration of an idea.

The first part of this opinion piece laid out the issues with compulsive shopping and the psychological motivation and impact of our relationship  to owning things, and my teensy-weensy hypocrisy in telling you to shop less on a blog essentially about shopping.

I love shopping. It’s a joy and it makes me feel good. I like having enviable pieces and seeming well put-together (well, on days that I put on makeup, at least). I’m guilty of being a bit of a self-indulgent fashionista.

But I strongly believe that there is a way to shop without being problematic, psychologically or spatially.

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Let’s avoid hoarding, please.

To avoid the psychological and other trappings of too much stuff, shop with strategy. It’s important to take inventory of what you have, how many items you can match each item with, and really ascertain what you need. Sale shopping is great and all, but if you’re buying things simply because it’s on sale instead of shopping for what you’d always intended on getting, you are spending too much. End stop.

That means items  in your closet will probably lean more toward classic than super trendy. Said items tend to be in more universal, earth-toned, neutral, or dark colors, since brights by nature tend to be a bit more limited in how they can be used in outfits. That means that you have to commit to the care of your pieces and select items with good stitching and durable, quality fibers (and yes, this is a time and energy investment).

I have a few tips I use when shopping:

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Realistically, this logo is owned by the producers and studio affiliated with The Purge Franchise. But it’s so appropriate to #4’s timeline. Consider this appropriate credit.

  1. Have a shopping buddy. When I see something I like, I send my best friend a screenshot, photo, or a link to the product and ask her opinion. Her first question almost always is, “Do you need that?” or “Will you wear that?” (e.g. today she saved me from a moderately awful pair of leather Cole Haan loafers that were on sale for $25 during Amazon Prime Day… but they were silver. Some women can own that shit- on me, silver shoes, if they’re not formal sandals, make me look like a geriatric disco dancer, and frankly wouldn’t fit into the scope of what I feel comfortable styling for myself to wear. I wouldn’t know how to make these look good.
  2. I rarely, if ever, purchase items I intend to keep forever. I have a few legacy items – a couple of specific coats, a few luxury handbags that I know won’t depreciate, some jewelry. But, many of the pieces I select I look at with an eye for resale, which helps me amortize costs over the estimated length of time I think I’ll keep the piece, and also forces me to be much more selective about what I’m willing to spend.
  3. I try to be patient and wait for the pieces I’m eyeballing to go on sale. I know this is super problematic for the longevity of brick and mortar stores, but if Macy’s is going to give me 12% cash back on Ebates and multiple coupon codes, as well as a flash sale on that sweater that’s been on my wish list, you can bet I will refuse to pay full price in store (hey, stores- can you offer those 15-20% discounts for first time shoppers in store, too, instead of just on the online email registry?).
  4. Seasonal purges: get rid of items in your closed every three months.
    • If you haven’t worn it in a year or more, let it go.
    • If you have multiple versions of an item, let all but one go. For example, I recently kept my husband from going buck wild at a Hugo Boss outlet and trying to buy two gray-striped dress shirts. We recently purged his closet at my insistence — because he has the whole master bedroom closet, and how is that fair? — and I discovered he legitimately has 4 different gray-striped dress shirts in excellent condition. On the flip side, he called me out for having way too many beige sweaters about five minutes before I received a delivery of yet another beige sweater. That went back to the store really fast.
    • If you have name-brand items, consider selling clothing via Poshmark and handbags via eBay or through consignment services. Cash is a soothing balm to the hurt of letting your closet babies go. OR…
    • …If you have good-quality in good condition, please consider donating seasonally-appropriate items to the less fortunate. Research the best non-profit in your area for the donations and support a cause that’s important to you. This, too, is a balm for letting your closet babies into the world.
  5. When shopping in person, I try not to enter a store just to “look.” This is what I call my Target dilemma – going in for toothpaste and deodorant and coming out with a full cart of stuff that I suddenly am sure I need as I see it. No, instead I go in with a specific idea of what shopping need I am trying to fulfill when looking for clothes. It’s a mental grocery list.
  6. Beware of fake “sales.” It’s a well-known retail strategy used to promote urgency in the buyer… and frankly, as much as I love HauteLook, this is largely their flash sale strategy (with a few notable exceptions, mostly for beauty products). I haven’t really found much that I can’t find statically on the Nordstrom Rack site (and the NR Clear the Rack events sometimes reduce these further).
  7. Don’t rely on your credit cards, even if you’re getting a pricier item. This is just general life advice – don’t put anything on your card that you can’t pay in full at the end of each month. Save for those items you’ve been eyeballing, instead. And having said item sell out before you get to buy it is actually a blessing in disguise, as it forces you to be more frugal in creative in finding an item of similar quality and worth of use. FOMO is all in your head – missing out on these is more money in your pocket, money you didn’t need to spend.
  8. Learn how to care for various types of fibers and fabrics. Cashmere, silk, leather, suede, rayon, cotton, polyester, etc. all require different, specialized care. You’re aiming for quality, classically inclined pieces that aren’t likely to go out of fashion soon, so it’s important to treat your investment pieces with care and respect for two reasons- 1) so you don’t look grubby, and 2) in case you elect to resell and/or donate items from your closet. Shave the pilling from your sweaters. Figure out how to treat that oil spill on your silk cami from dinner the other night. Get rid of the period leakage from your premium denim. There are tips and tricks to all of these things – they just require a bit of time and commitment.
    • Fringe benefit? This helps psychologically reset your disposable “fast fashion” mentality that if something is no longer good, you have to replace it. You don’t – sometimes a half hour repair project will get another year or more of use out of an item.
  9. Don’t exceed your budget. Seriously – be honest with yourself about what you can afford and don’t exceed it. Once you go down a slippery slope of “well, I will just spend less next month,” it’s seriously unlikely you’ll actually balance your accounts the following month. Most of the time, it just means you make yourself more and more comfortable with passing off the deficit in your budget to the following month, which can cause a balance to grow.
  10. Outlet shop on holidays. Go early in the morning, beat the rush, sign up for VIP coupons, and try to take advantage of specials (but don’t spend money on what you don’t need, even if it doesn’t cost money).
  11. Get comfortable with thrifting. I’ll fully admit that I am squeamish and a little prissy about used clothing and shoes, especially after reading this article about that oh-so-familiar thrift store smell that I’m especially sensitive to. But there are some good/well curated consignment stores in Southern California that don’t have that Goodwill-smell and specialize in higher-end attire. I’ve had some great successes doing this. Once again, don’t buy what you don’t need (with one small exception – if you see an exceptional item that you think can easily be resold for a profit, take the chance. Just be realistic about resale value).

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To my mind, a lot of the psychology about compulsive shopping can be combatted by associating pleasure triggers/relief from letting go of these items, as well. This can be done through rewards (altruistic or monetary), but it also means that those rewards can reshape your perspective on the purchasing side, as well.

Clothing is something you should try to use regularly, for as long as is reasonable, in my opinion… but it’s not something you should remain committed to if the passion’s faded. This isn’t a marriage. If a hotter young thing, a sensible choice comes along to replace your existing piece, REPLACE IT. No piece of clothing likes being stuck in the depths of your closet forever.