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ways to wear: high-rise jeans

With jeans, I’m always looking for the perfect blue.  A true blue without any gray or green, and not a lot of distressing.  Browsing the markdowns at Revolve, I found it, in a J Brand wash called Lotus.  And marked down to $85!  The problem: the only style the color came in was a high-rise flare–a cut that, when done wrong, can be cruel enough to put you off jeans altogether.

But what’s this blog for if not to challenge myself?  Spring is in the air and I’m tired of my skinnies.  And the jeans reminded me of my all-time favorites, a pair of vintage Levis 517s that I had in high school.  The $85 J Brands felt a little like fate.

Pantywaist

There are a few reasons why high-rise jeans are so dangerous.  First, the potential for camel toe.  Sorry to get all personal, but the issue of camel toe needs to be addressed.  If you don’t know what it is, google it, but not if you’re at work.  My personal theory for why camel toe happens so often with high rise jeans is because you tend to hike up high-rise jeans, and when you hike too aggressively, that’s when the camel toe happens.  Second danger: pancake ass.  To be Asian is to be at one with the pancake ass.  I could write a book about pancake ass.  High-rise jeans present a high risk of pancake ass because they create the illusion that your butt is longer than it really is.

I think the temptation with high-rise jeans is to wear something longer on top to cover some of the rise in the back so your butt doesn’t look so long.  But if you’re feeling like a challenge, try pairing a high rise with a cropped sweater.  The whole point of a high rise is the 70s feel, and you miss out on a lot of that if you just cover up the waist.  And for me, the pairing seemed to create curves where I don’t really have any, so that’s an added bonus.  Be careful what you layer under a cropped sweater.  Too long, and you’ll ruin the look.

Or Don’t Tuck

If you’re reading this and you just can’t get behind the tucking in, I hear you.  But consider this: a pair of high rise jeans is better than a pair of Spanx for slimming, if you’re going to be wearing the jeans under tops that you don’t intend to tuck in.  The high rise will cover your stomach and kind of tighten up the area, so they are a solid choice for pairing with tops made of slinkier materials (like jersey–God I hate jersey).  Just make sure to get the sizing right.  If they aren’t tight enough, they will just add more material to the belly area, instead of sucking you in.

Back to Basics

At my core, I’m a t-shirt and jeans girl.  But the t-shirt has to be right.  I hate tight necklines and the sleeve has to be short, but not too short.  The t-shirt below has been my standby since law school.  I have it in four colors.  I wear it to bed, I wear it to work out, and now I wear it with my high-rise jeans.  It’s also actually $22, not $24, but it’s been a long weekend and I’m too tired to fix the price in the photo below.  The tri-blend fabric is especially good with the high-rise because it underscores that 70s vibe.

Other stuff I intend to wear these jeans with: a tight black turtleneck with a big earthy necklace over it (think Ali McGraw).  Or belted, with a chambray button-down, for a little denim-on-denim action.  I’ll lose the boots when it gets warm and wear them with wedges and a tank.

Have I convinced you even a little?

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the pretenders

The day my first kid was born, my husband stepped out into the hallway at the hospital and dialed a Montessori school in town, to put our newborn on their waitlist for admission. Three and a half years later, Finn finally got into the school. And I’ve been stepping in it, both literally and figuratively, ever since.

It is an amazing place. I once saw Tate’s teacher get tears in her eyes while talking about how much she enjoyed working with the twelve toddlers in her class. From joy. I have a good radar for emotional fakery, and she wasn’t faking it. I feel incredibly fortunate that my kids spend their days with extraordinary teachers who care that much about them.

It’s not the teachers (“guides”), or even my children. The problem is me. I have no previous experience with Montessori schools, so the language of Montessori and the unspoken rules are utterly foreign to me. For instance, because Montessori is fundamentally a practical, work-based approach to education, “pretending” of any sort is generally out. In my family’s day to day life, what that boils down to is this: no costumes, no books involving imaginary characters (talking animals), and no clothes depicting characters.

I try to toe the line at home, but it’s hard. My kids spend 75% of their time at home pretending to be Batman, and given that they are children, I imagine they reveal a lot of their active fantasy lives at school, foiling my desperate attempts to convince their teachers that I’m bona fide. At home, my 27-month old (Tate) is regularly armed with a foam sword or plastic light saber. I cannot stop it. It is simply not stoppable. I took the weapons away once and he started using our chopsticks–which, it turns out, are a lot sharper than foam or plastic.

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I picture Tate at school, impaling his buddies on imaginary swords, and fervently hope that he is keeping the make-believe on the DL during school hours, but I fear it’s not happening. I also fear that he’s showing off his new verbal skills by shouting his favorite words (“good guy,” “bad guy,” “Chewbacca”) to all passerby.

Montessori is not big on TV. My kids watch TV sometimes. And I imagine everyone at school is aware of that fact, given that my five-year old (Finn) has a keen ear for music and mimicry that these days, mostly retains TV jingles. If he’s singing at school what he sings at home, his teacher is hearing a lot of the Sprout jingle and voiceovers for Zhu Zhu pet ads. Outed again.

Back at the school, I do a lot of pretending of my own. I pretend that I have it together, that things are under control, that I’m living the Montessori dream and loving it. But I’m failing miserably, and I’m pretty sure everyone can tell. Every time I enter the school to pick the boys up, I square my shoulders and give myself a little pep talk: “I’m a good mom. I’m a good mom.” And then I go in and spend ten minutes chasing Finn in laps around the playroom while the other parents watch. I know what they’re thinking: they’re wondering how bad things can be at our house that my kid doesn’t want to go home.

If the chase goes well, Finn will lose speed after a few laps and I can get close enough to hiss that there’s a granola bar in it for him if he will just GET IN THE CAR. If it goes poorly, I have to kick it into turbo and grab his arm firmly enough that he will inevitably yell “YEEOW MOM YOU’RE HURTING ME!!!” loudly enough for the entire school to hear. And that’s usually when the image of Maria Montessori turning in her grave pops into my brain.

It’s not like I don’t try. I do. I watch amazing parents like my friends Suzanne and Mollyanne, who sew napkins for the class, or can get their children to stop doing something by calmly saying, “that’s not available.” I want in that club like you wouldn’t believe. But the harder I try, the worse it goes. I actually thought hard about Finn’s Bruce Lee t-shirt, which he really wanted to wear, and which depicted a realistic image of Bruce Lee (not a cartoon). Thought it would pass the mustard, especially since Bruce Lee was a) a real person, and b) an Asian and therefore diverse. No dice. When I picked him up, Finn’s shirt was on inside out, a silent protest. Or when I baked healthy banana bread in mini cupcake molds and carefully packed one in Finn’s lunch. At pickup, Finn handed me his lunchbox, looked at me sternly, and said, “no cupcakes, Mommy.”

If I sucked this bad at my job, I’d quit. But it’s my kids. I can’t quit them. So I do it wrong, pick myself up, and try again. That, to me, is what parenthood is all about: getting your teeth kicked in and smiling through the blood. I’ll keep at it, and one day, I’ll look at my boys and see two confident and self-reliant citizens of the world, and there’s no question it will have been worth it.

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downers: Saran Wrap

The hardest thing about this blog is not giving into the temptation to use it as a platform to rant about all of life’s minor annoyances. But everyone has their limits. And I reached mine with Saran Wrap, the plastic cling wrap that does not cling.

I’m not going to write an essay about it. Let me just say that this product is intended for one purpose: to cling to plates and create an airtight seal so that your food is preserved. It’s not like I’m using a product for something for which it is not intended–like the tennis ball I throw in the dryer to keep my sheets from balling up. Hey, if that tennis ball lights my dryer on fire, I get that I probably don’t have a great product liability claim against Wilson.

is this a joke?

But Saran Wrap: you anger me. Because you do not cling, tightly or otherwise, to glass or ceramic, the materials that constitute 99% of all dishware. I mentioned how much I hate Saran Wrap to my friend Josh and he told me that his trick with the stuff is to wrap the entire plate with it. If you manufacture a cling wrap that requires you to wrap the entire plate to create a seal, or requires a “trick” to get it to work properly, I submit that you (SC Johnson) are in the wrong business.

the ross method

So I’m calling you out, Saran Wrap, and imploring my readership not to make the mistake I make every six months. Which is this: to stand in front of the plastic wrap section of the supermarket, trying desperately to remember which brand it is that does not cling, and then to choose Saran Wrap, because you think “hmm, the stuff is generically called Saran Wrap, so that must be the one that works.”  It’s not, it’s not.

ways to wear: mens’ casual

I’ve had a few requests for a post about weekend basics for guys. So here it is: ideas for a few guys’ no-brainer pieces that go the distance, targeted specifically for the guy who cares how he looks, but not enough to really do anything proactive about it. If you, like my friend Eric, already know your way around a deep-V and skinny jeans, this post is not for you.

I don’t pay as much attention to what I pay for Tom’s clothes as I do for mine. So I’ve left off a few details regarding price. Also, the model in this post is my long-suffering husband. If you know Tom, be assured that he only posed for these photos under extreme duress. I may have even accused him of hating my blog. So please be kind.

The sweatshirt

Tom has a Michigan sweatshirt that is 20 years old, complete with a frayed neckline, paint splatters, and one sleeve ripped to the elbow. When he wears it, he reminds me enough of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance to make me uncomfortable.

If my friend Linds doesn’t like an article of clothing of her husband’s, she donates it while he’s gone or throws it away, and then simply lies about its whereabouts. I admire her technique, but when it comes to that Michigan sweatshirt, I have a better chance of winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles than I have of getting rid of it on the sly. That’s because Tom loves it so much that he checks on it periodically, to make sure it’s still molting in the drawer where he last left it.

Chances are, there’s a sweatshirt like Tom’s that’s currently ruining your social life. So do a bait and switch, and get him a sweatshirt you can live with. Make sure it’s cut slim to the body, and made of a thinner material than a full athletic fleece. The advantage of such a sweatshirt is that you can dress it up by throwing a cool coat over it, without the bulk. No prints please, or logos.

Merino sweater + Gingham

I like to think that Tom’s sense of style improved vastly when we met. Tom thinks he was born with it, like Athena springing full-warrior from the forehead of Zeus. The truth is somewhere in between. I generally buy his clothes–which explains the huge gaping hole in his brain where a working knowledge of clothing prices should be–but he figures out how to put them together. It works best this way, because he can legitimately snarl “NO” when someone asks “Did Yoona put together your outfit?”

Of course, if I’m going to be seen with him, I get a veto. But I don’t use my veto power much when it’s cold, because Tom is a pro with jeans and outerwear. In summer, I veto things all the time, mostly because Tom starts feeling compelled to wear shorts, and husband or no, I can’t get behind the idea of a man that pale in shorts. I mean, if he happens to be standing in shorts against a white wall, it can actually look like his shorts are floating in thin air, suspended above his shoes. But that’s another post for another time.

Anyway, like anything else, putting an outfit together takes practice. And practice will go easier with pieces that work with lots of different things. Like a crewneck merino sweater and a gingham shirt. The merino sweater can be thrown over a button-down and khakis for work, as easily as it can be thrown over a tee and jeans. The gingham shirt is a good layering piece–everyone looks good in gingham, and it’ll add a little visual interest to an outfit otherwise comprised of solids. Put the gingham under a hoody, or iron it and wear it for drinks under a blazer. Easy.

Gray jeans

You have jeans. And they are not dad jeans. Sweet. So let’s take it to the next level.

Gray jeans are versatile. They are more interesting than blue jeans, so they work well for dinner parties and other situations requiring a modicum of effort. But they aren’t so interesting that you will get ridiculed by your friends at the sports pub. If you wear a lot of black or navy on top, gray jeans are a no brainer. Go get some.

Topper + Boots

I have real trouble with my own outerwear. I never like my coat as much as my outfit, so I usually go without. In this regard, I really envy Tom this Nau coat. It’s waterproof and machine-washable, and looks slick on top of a suit. I call it the Fixer, because it is capable of concealing all manner of sartorial crimes underneath.

Make sure your weekend coat length suits your purposes. Tom’s 6’4″ and has long legs, so this length suits him, but Nau makes a lot of shorter jackets. A word on Nau–they started out expensive and have gotten even more so, but I find it to be a reliably awesome brand for men. Tom’s Nau pieces get heavy rotation and have held up well over years of use.

As for the Bean Boots, Tom told me once that if there was ever a fire at the house, he would grab the boots first. Can you smell the romance?

So, there you have it. A few basics that will get you from your kid’s soccer practice on Saturday morning to a dinner party on Sunday. What are your favorite weekend basics?

outside in

Nothing about me other than my appearance gives away the fact that I was born in Seoul and lived there until I was four. My life is like that of many other Americans. I work, I’m a mom, I’m a wife. We have two cars and a mortgage and student loans. I eat Chipotle twice a week because my kids will eat it and it’s fast, and sometimes I only have time to put mascara on the eye that’s not covered by bangs. See? I’m basically you.

Except, maybe I’m not. Unless you, too, have accidentally cut someone off and then had that person pull alongside you to call you a “stupid Oriental bitch.” Or been heckled by the school bully in front of 30 merciless 8th graders for having a flat nose and “Chinese” eyes. Or had someone–who’s just “keeping it real”–tell you to your face that you probably got the job offer because you’re a minority.

I’m not complaining. Everyone feels like they are on the outside, some of the time. I’m only writing about it now because a recent incident reminded me how the scars last long after you think you’ve outgrown them. I belong to a private athletic club that I joined mostly because my husband badgered me into it. The reason I had to be harassed into joining is because, when I was growing up, that club represented everything I felt excluded from. But I’ve grown to love the club. I work out there, and my kids take swimming lessons there and shoot hoops with their dad. I’ve met great friends.

This last November, without advance warning, the club put a photo of me on the cover of their monthly member magazine. I’d been asked to take part in a photo shoot promoting the club’s upcoming fashion show. Good God that sentence pains me. Anyway, the point is that the photos, if they turned out, were supposed to appear inside the magazine. My husband can confirm that I spent all of October regretting my decision and dreading the November issue.

And then, there I was, on the cover, in my mailbox and in the mailbox of almost every lawyer that I know and work with professionally, immortalized in the most unnatural pose imaginable.

yes, i stand like this all the time

My most pressing concern was that people would think that the ruffly dress I was wearing on the cover reflected my personal taste in clothing. My next most pressing concern was that people would think I was put on the cover because I’m Asian and the club wanted to advertise that they had some. And my fear was justified.  I got more than a few well-meaning comments that were variations on “They must have put you on the cover because you’re a minority!”  Gee, thanks.

The comments were technically made in 2011, but people: it’s 2012.  2012.

After the December and January issues came out, I thought I’d heard the last of it, but three days ago, an older woman in the locker room, after asking if it was indeed me on that cover, asked what I “did at the club.” I guess she assumed that I worked at the club, because a lot of the club employees are minorities. When I stammered that I didn’t work at the club, it was hard to judge who was more discomfited: the other woman, or me.

The concept of “passing” is one that has stayed with me since I first read my Ralph Ellison. But the older I get, the less I want to pass for something I’m not. Instead, I’m taking ownership of what I am. Which is why, with this post, I’m saying goodbye to all the rest and choosing to dwell only on my favorite comment about that cover, from an older Filipina, who told me that she was so proud to see a fellow Asian on the front of that magazine. There. Progress. For her, and for me.

nature: meh

I camped a lot as a kid, but it was always with a car and three coolers filled with Korean bbq for the campfire.  Koreans camp for one reason, and that is to eat outdoors.  My family always stayed within a 10 yard radius of the campsite, and marveled at nature from that safe remove.  Any deeper in the woods and you might find hicks, and we, like most minorities, were scared of hicks.

Tom is not a hick, but he is white.  And by and large, the white people I know really dig on nature.  Tom has a long history of backpacking and building fires from twigs and licking bugs off tree bark.

scott and tom hiking in banff

When we started dating, Tom convinced himself that I must love nature too, since I grew up in Oregon.  And once he made that assumption, I tried it on for size to see how it fit, because I’m a giver, and that’s what givers do.

The fit, needless to say, was terrible, like high-rise jeans that give you pancake ass AND camel toe.  In hindsight, I blame Tom completely, because he set me up for failure by taking me to the Napali Coast for my first backpacking trip.  To describe that three-day hike as steep, humid, and unending would be to unfairly emphasize only the high points of the experience.  Here’s a photo of me, in purgatory.

Remove the tropical vegetation from the photo, and it’s not a huge stretch to imagine that it was taken during a forced death march.  I look preoccupied because I was busy planning my own suicide.  In all seriousness, here’s what I was thinking in this photo: 1) there is no way that this backpack weighs an ounce less than 172 pounds; 2) hot DAMN these hiking boots are ugly; and 3) dear God, please don’t let me get a sock tan.

At the end of this first day of the hike, we put our packs down and dug into a dinner of beef jerky and Triscuits.  Imagine if your only prior experience with the outdoors was completely food-based, and then you had to go through that ridiculously taxing hike, and then end the day with TRISCUITS.  I am proud to say, dear reader, that on that bleak night, the tears welled, but they did not overflow.

Things got better on the second day, when we pitched our tent on our deserted beach.  Tom broke out the freeze-dried chili and I was able to jolt myself out of my despair by dunking myself in the ocean.  See below: the relief on my face is palpable.  Although I guess that could also be happiness, because Tom had just proposed.

Anyway, that was 12 years ago, and proposal aside, I was so traumatized that I haven’t been backpacking since.  Tom keeps talking about taking the kids for a backpacking trip, but whenever I picture it, I picture myself on that same grueling hike, except this time, there are two kids behind me throwing sticks at the wildlife, falling off cliffs, and whining in two-part harmony.  But I relish the idea of a redo, so that I can do that hike again and take the time to actually wallow in the nature around me.  Only this time, I’ll remember to pack in some Korean bbq.

stuff i like: finesse hairspray

Have fun stockpiling food and water for the apocalypse.  I’ll be busy stockpiling Finesse hairspray.

I have hair that works better the less I touch it.  I shower, towel dry my hair, rub in a dollop of my proprietary blend of smoothing cream (3/4 parts Garnier Fructis Surf Paste + 1/4 part Kiehl’s Creme with Silk Groom*), and then blow dry the roots for one minute.  The crucial part of the process is in the freezing of the hairdo at the end, because I need that puppy to last until 6:00 PM.  And for this, I need liberal quantities of Finesse Unscented Maximum Hold Hairspray.

The hairspray holds my hair in place and gives me volume at the crown, but does not turn it into a helmet.  It’s also not gummy or sticky.  I’ve tried other hairsprays, mostly the ones available for free in the restroom at the office.  Most of them don’t last the day, or freeze the hair to such a degree that I’d be scared that my hair would chip off upon contact.

I’m sure there are higher end hairsprays that achieve what Finesse has achieved (like L’Oreal Elnett), but here’s the thing: no one should be paying that much for hair products.  You WASH IT OUT.  I use whatever shampoo is on sale at Walgreens, and if I feel like splurging, I’m going for something luxurious like Pantene or Aveeno.  A can of Finesse hairspray costs a reasonable $3.99.

I use the stuff like it’s going out of style, which it is.  Over the last few years, I’ve seen the Finesse line of shampoos and styling aids slowly disappear from stores.  One day, it will be gone completely, and then it’ll just be me and the 17 cans that I have stored in my bathroom drawers.  And the zombies will have to pry each one from my dead, lifeless hands.

*Kiehl’s Silk Groom is not cheap.  But you only use a pea sized amount, and I can make a small bottle last 8 months. 

what a crock

For me, the idea of crock-pot cooking is way better than the reality of crock-pot cooking.

The problem is, crock-pot cooking is advertised as a convenient way to cook, and it’s just not. You have to put a lot of forethought into a crock-pot meal, and wake up pretty damn early to get the meal started, all to save yourself the supposed bother of cooking when you get home.

Browning a five-pound chuck roast over high heat is dangerous business even when I’m fully awake, let alone at 7:00 in the morning. The last time I prepped a meal for the crock-pot, I sleep-walked my way through the first 30 minutes of chopping and browning and woke up only when my arm grazed the hot pan.

The other thing about crock-pot cooking is the timing. Most crock-pot recipes require either 9-11 hours on low heat, or 5-7 hours on high heat. If you turn your slow cooker on at 8:00 AM, that means your meal will be ready to eat at 7:00 PM, or 2:00 in the afternoon. I have been in meetings at work worrying that I won’t make it home in time to prevent my beef stew from getting so tender that it disintegrates. What’s stress-free about that? And about that disintegration: crock-pot timing is especially stressful because a crock-pot meal can develop nicely for the first 10 hours and then, without warning, overcook in the 11th hour into a goulash* devoid of texture or taste.

I once observed the progression of a crock-pot meal during a day at home. I checked on it from time to time, out of boredom. Here’s how the day went:

7:00 AM: ingredients for pot roast in

8:00 AM: is this thing on

10:00 AM: pot bubbling

12:00 PM: whoa where did all this liquid come from

2:00 PM: roast smelling good, looking good

4:00 PM: when can I eat this already

5:00 PM: (leave to pick up kids)

6:00 PM: GOULASH

So, put away the crock-pot, and do what I do, and cook this chicken dish instead, in under an hour. The dish has Indian roots but none of the heaviness of a takeout curry. It’s got a thick gravy that is gingery, garlicky, tomato-y, and tastes like it’s been cooking all day. If you make it in the evening after the kids are in bed, stick it in the fridge, and warm it up for dinner the next day, the flavor’s even better. It’s a great dish for weekday entertaining, for that very reason. And loaded with greens, it’s healthy to boot.

Chicken with Tomato and Greens

Adapted from “Mangoes and Curry Leaves” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Ingredients:

2.5-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (use breasts if you prefer)

3 cups chopped onions

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2-3 tablespoons minced garlic

2-3 tablespoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

32 oz. canned, diced tomatoes (roughly one 28-oz. can plus one 14.5-oz. can), quickly drained of excess liquid

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

3-4 cups packed greens (spinach, chopped kale, chopped chard, pea shoots, etc.)*

1 cup chopped cilantro

Rice or chapatis to serve alongside

Directions:

1. Wash the chicken, pat dry, and chop roughly into smaller pieces. You can chop smaller thighs into two pieces, larger ones into three. Set aside.

2. In a large, wide saute pan or casserole, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger, and stir until incorporated.

4. Add the chicken pieces and raise the heat slightly to brown the chicken. Make room in the pan by burrowing the chicken pieces into the onion mixture to get the chicken in contact with the bottom of the pan.

5. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken pieces are browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne, tomatoes, and salt, and stir until the tomatoes begin to break down and release their liquid.

6. Once things are simmering, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. The dish can be prepared ahead to this point. If preparing in advance, once fully simmered, take off the heat, cool, and refrigerate or freeze.

7. Add your greens. If you’re using spinach, you can turn off the heat, add the greens, cover the pot, walk away for a few minutes, and then come back and stir to incorporate. If you’re using kale or a hardier green, you can simmer for an additional five minutes, or enough to wilt the greens to your liking.

8. Spoon on top of rice and lentils, or serve with chapati. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Take that, crock-pot! Serves 6-8, depending on appetite.

*Notes: to my friends from Eastern Europe–I like goulash. I am not disparaging goulash. But when I start with pot roast in mind, I don’t want to end up with goulash. Regarding the greens: if you are cooking this in advance, remember to toss the greens in when you are reheating to serve, to keep their lovely color. This recipe makes enough for 6-8, or for two meals for a family of four. I typically serve half right away for the family and freeze the rest for another quick weeknight meal.

Sticking with your crock-pot? Try this recipe for Thai Chicken, recommended by my crock-pot-loving friend Whitney.

black thumb

My mom believes that indoor plants are good for a home because they purify the air.  Her house is virtually a terranium full of lush, living things.  She wants me to breathe pure air, so she keeps giving me plants, and I keep taking them and killing them in due course.

When she offers me plants, I should say no, but I never do.  First, I’m Korean, so I’m programmed to avoid saying no to my mom whenever possible.  Second, I usually think that despite the dead plants littering my past, I might have better luck with the next one.  Third, my mom always assures me that the plants she gifts require minimal care.  I think her definition of minimal care is to water once a week.  My definition of minimal care is less co-dependent, and is based on the assumption that the plant should be able to fend for itself, as nature intended, without relying on the assistance of others.

I currently have three plants in my house in different stages of distress.  Actually, one of them no longer feels distress, because it is dead.  But I believe the other two are still alive.  The first one, commonly known as a Christmas Cactus, lives on my third floor in indirect sunlight.  My mom has the plant that this plant was cut from, and the mother plant blooms bright pink flowers every December.  My plant has never bloomed, on Christmas or otherwise.  But I try not to hold it against the plant, since I only remember to water it once every two months.

The second plant is the newest addition to our home.  It looks pretty green and its leaves are relatively shiny, but I’ve also only had it for eight weeks.  In his Montessori classroom, my toddler and his classmates learn how to care for their plants by wiping the leaves clean.  At home, Tate practices on this plant.  You can see the scars from his tender loving care.  Tate also likes to say hello to the plant by karate-chopping the leaves.  I fear for the plant’s continued health.

Lastly, my air plant.  I’d been coveting one when my friend Monica gave me one as a gift.  I can’t be 100% certain that it’s dead, because even when it was alive, it didn’t look very alive.  But I do recollect that it looked more green than it currently does.  In my defense, it took me by surprise that in spite of its name, an air plant requires more than just air: you have to spray it periodically with water.  If I can’t be bothered to water a plant with a cup, chances are slim that I’m going to be spritzing it with a water bottle on a regular basis.  As it turns out, the chances of that happening are actually zero.

teeming with life

I recently submerged the air plant in water in an attempt to shock it back to life, but so far, there’s been no discernable change.  I’ll keep you posted.

ways to wear: color at work

Color was big in 2011.  And the fashion editors are saying color will continue to be big into the spring.  Since they’ll be around for a while, let’s figure out a way to put those brights to work at the office.

I own a lot of orange-red because I find the color very easy to match with other colors, and you get a lot of bang for the buck in terms of drama.  I focused on that color in this post, but any of these looks would work well with other brights that might be sitting in your closet.  If you’re shopping for some color, try cobalt, mustard, or fuschia–all versatile brights that pair well with neutrals.

Nice ‘n Easy

I’m a lawyer, but I’m a plaintiffs’ lawyer, and plaintiffs’ lawyers generally don’t like to look like we spend too much money on our clothing, or that we think about clothing at all.  So I can get away with more casual looks at the office.  The outfit below comes in handy when I’m bloated and/or can’t bear the thought of heels.

J. Crew sells a merino version of the boyfriend sweater above but it retails for almost $90.  I bought the sweater at Forever 21 in three colors for less than $50 total.  “But they’re polyester, Yoona.”  For $50, I don’t care if they’re made of plastic ketchup bottles.  And let me just say this: if anyone at work is standing close enough to you that they can tell that your sweater is made of polyester, that’s not right.  Just my legal opinion.

Colored Pencil

My husband generally doesn’t notice my clothing, unless it looks new or expensive.  But he notices every time I wear a pencil skirt, so I try to throw him a bone and wear one from time to time.  This one is my favorite.  J. Crew is making pencil skirts in all sorts of colors, in wool and “double serge” cotton, which is apparently fashion-speak for “hideously overpriced.”  If you want proof that J. Crew never changes their clothes, please note that the skirt below was purchased four years ago.  There’s something comforting in that, I guess.

Casual Friday

I imagine if you’re one of those lucky SOBs who have a creative job, or even better, if you’re your own boss, you could dress like this even when it’s not Friday.  For the rest of us, the colored jeans probably have to wait for casual days.  But boy, given my investment in colored jeans, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to dress them up and disguise them for work.

A note on the jeans.  First of all, they were on sale at Nordstrom for $99.90 but all I paid was $20 after cashing in a Nordstrom note and a gift card.  I imagine that’s not that interesting to you, but I feel like I should get a shopping medal.  Secondly, I’m a J Brand girl, but these AGs are something else.  They are made of a thicker denim that holds like a dream.  I’ve worn them for four consecutive days and the knees haven’t bagged out.  That’s like, unheard of.  And I love the color, which is a deep green-blue.  The perfect foil for orange-red!

How are you wearing brights at work?