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Posts from the ‘work’ Category

ways to wear: white jeans

You’re reading the title of this post and thinking that I don’t know that it’s December. I do. A NYC friend (thanks Kim!) recently mentioned that she loves her white jeans. Then I started thinking about my white jeans, and how I might wear them in the winter. So here you are: one pair of white jeans (Citizens of Humanity, Ava, $164, hemmed to 26.5 inches)–four doable winter looks. Doable, that is, provided the weather is cold and dry. I’d advise you not to try any of these outfits in the rain.

A word on white jeans. In terms of fit, white jeans rank right up there with swimwear in difficulty. If you haven’t sobbed or screamed in horror in a dressing room while trying a pair of white jeans, you are made of tougher stuff than me.

You should accept from the outset that your thighs and butt will look bigger in white jeans. What you should NOT accept are white jeans that are transparent or make your legs look dimpled from the outside. If you have jeans that are doing this, let me suggest that it’s not you, it’s the jeans. With white jeans, I think too much stretch works against you. I don’t know why, but that’s been my experience. Try a stiffer denim (one with a higher cotton percentage vs. the stretchy stuff). Also, you may look better in white jeans that are a size or two bigger than your normal size. I think the Citizens of Humanity pair shown here, in the color Santorini, are probably the most forgiving that I’ve tried in a while. They are still available online, at Nordstrom and elsewhere.

White on White

I love white on white during the summer, but it looks even cooler in the winter because it is unexpected. You can’t just walk out in a cotton shirt and cropped jeans though, so throw on a blazer or cardigan. Nothing too dark. Stay with neutrals and your outfit will look soft and cozy–the fashion equivalent of a mug of eggnog.

I bought this shirt at the Gap about three years ago for $48. It is a lovely, delicate thing that promptly fell apart upon first wash. That’s not the Gap’s fault, that’s my fault, for throwing it in with a load of towels. The embroidery is torn and the hems are frayed, and still I cannot let it go. I actually searched eBay to see if anyone might be selling the same shirt, but try searching “white shirt from the Gap” on eBay and see where that gets you. If, by chance, you own this shirt in a size large, I will buy it from you. Just name your price.

Work Whites

We live in an age of political correctness and workplace harassment suits, where management is understandably hesitant to get into matters of workplace dress with female employees. So take advantage. In my book, if you wear non-blue jeans with a top long enough to cover the jean detailing at the waist and pockets, they aren’t really jeans. To really throw your boss off the scent, though, I’d pair the pants with a buttoned-up top and work flats. I like this outfit because of the shrunken proportions and the graphic punch of the black, white, and orange-red.

Bundle Up

The sweater below is one of my favorites, although I can’t eat anything in it because of the sleeves. Who needs food when you have a sweater this awesome? That’s a joke. I do. I need food even with a sweater this awesome.

If you have a bunch of neutrals laying around, trying punching them up with some neon. American Apparel sold these highlighter tanks over the summer and I can’t wait for May so I can buy some more.

Ahoy Matey

I’ve had at least four people ask me why I look down in the photos on this blog. I look down because I want you to look at the clothes, not my face, which generally reflects the exhaustion I feel. In any event, white jeans always look good with navy, and stripes. Always. Since it’s winter, pile it all on, as I’ve done below. Going warm on top will distract you from your numb ankles.

Note: I wear cropped jeans year-round, and if there’s one thing that will kill a pair of cropped jeans, it’s socks. So I don’t wear socks most of the year, no matter how cold it gets. Sometimes style has to give way to comfort, and sometimes comfort has to give way to style. I refuse to wear thongs no matter how visible my panty line. Pick your battle, right? Anyway, if you don’t mind your ankles getting a little cold, a cropped length is great for white jeans because they won’t gather as much dust at the hem. If you choose to go cropped and insist on wearing the jeans with socks, go with God, and don’t say yoonanimous sent you.

leaving on a jet plane

It’s likely a sad state of affairs at home if you’re looking forward to an upcoming business trip.  Or, it may just be that, like me, you’re a working parent, and looking for whatever opportunity you can find to escape the reality of your life.

Tom travels for work more than I do, and for a while now, despite his protestations to the contrary, I’ve suspected that his trips are less onerous, and more enjoyable, than he has led me to believe.  There was the trip to Anchorage that he returned from blabbering on and on about how he could spot bald eagles and orca whales from his office window.  The rigorous retreat in Scottsdale from which he returned with a tan.  The recruiting trip to Ann Arbor, coincidentally scheduled during the week of the Wolverines’ home opener.  The trip to Chicago, from which he returned heavily conversant in both the architecture of that city, and deep dish pizza.  After a recent week-long trip to Seattle where he was supposedly working so hard that he managed to call home only four out of six days, he came back looking like he’d spent the week at Canyon Ranch, with bright blue eyes popping out of a face glowing with health, and five fewer pounds on his frame.

And why not?  Anyone who tells you that spending a night in a hotel with room service is rougher than dealing with the daily reality of a 5 and 2 year old, is yanking your chain, and yanking it hard.  Tom texted me the photo above during the aforementioned Anchorage trip, from his twilight run along the water.  I can only assume that he was rendered momentarily senseless by the natural beauty, because he is well aware that the only thing I want to hear from him when he’s traveling is 1) how much it sucks, and 2) what gifts he will purchase to make it up to me.  When I received this photo on my phone, I was mopping up the second glass of milk my toddler had spilled on our rug, while simultaneously trying to pick every piece of cilantro out of my older kid’s beans and rice to prevent a meltdown.  Basically, by sending me this photo at that stressful moment, Tom managed to ruin for me, not only the entire state of Alaska, but also, nature itself.

Why so tense, you ask?  Because, when Tom is away on business, I’m back home, wasting away from stress and exhaustion, and being eaten alive by my offspring.  During Tom’s trips, I go through stages, and those stages look a lot like this:

Day 1: Invincibility.  I got this sh*t in the bag.  If only I had more kids and a night shift at work, to really challenge myself.

Day 2: Martyrdom.  I am working hard so that Tom can work hard.  I am a good wife, and deserving of jewels.

Day 3: Anger.  I have my own damn job, and my own deadlines, and why have I never noticed before how much I hate making lunches?  Also, if these kids want another book read to them, they should try their dad, except I guess they can’t, because HE’S NOT HERE.

Day 4: White hot rage.  Yes, it does feel good to throw all of Tom’s cufflinks and stupid collar stays on the floor.  Think I’ll put them back in their stupid little tray and do it again.  And yes, I think I will clean the tile grout with his Sonicare.

Day 5: Surrender and acceptance.  This is my lot in life.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Perhaps I can dull the pain with online shopping.

Anything longer than five days, and Tom simply risks returning home to my dead body, drawn on by washable markers, covered in cheerios and yogurt, with one withered hand gripping a half-finished legal brief and the other clutching the remote control, frozen in the act of searching for just one more episode of “Dora the Explorer.”

So today, it’s my turn.  I’m in a shitty hotel, after a turbulent airplane ride and two missed exits on a California highway.  And I’m loving every minute of it.

Now, if only I could stop missing those boys.

ways to wear: stripes

There are days when the family wakes up late and we have exactly 17 minutes to get out the door.  There’s a lot of pain in that kind of morning, and it can be summed up by one image: that of my two year old, shrieking and banging on my shower door while I try to keep it closed with my foot long enough to wash the conditioner out of my hair.  I highly recommend this kind of morning to ensure a super zen day.  On such mornings, I have zero time to think out an outfit.  So I usually reach for some stripes.

Stripes almost always look right.  To me, they are shorthand for a bunch of things: ease, insouciance, pep.  Some opine that horizontal stripes can be unflattering, especially for those who aren’t stick-thin.  I tend to disagree.  I see lots of stripes on friends of different sizes and shapes, and whenever I see them, I’m charmed.  Actually, I can think of one exception: I’m not charmed by vertically striped dress shirts on my 6’4″ husband, because they make his torso look approximately five feet tall, and as if he should be walking on stilts at a circus.  But I digress.

Try playing with stripes of different thicknesses, from pinstripes to awning stripes to everything in between.  Stripes are a no-brainer with casual wear, but where they really prove their versatility is when you dress them up.  I particularly love them under suits.  Nothing says “believe me, I’m cooler than this lame job” like stripes under a suit with a bright belt and some killer shoes.

Below, a few ideas.

Starter stripes

Black/white and navy/white stripes are a basic everyone should have.  But try stripes in other colors.  Below, a button-back t-shirt I bought for $14.99 on sale at J. Crew has gotten heavy rotation in my wardrobe.  The mustard color has paired well under black or charcoal suits.  But where the mustard really comes to life is when paired with cobalt, a color that was big this summer, that I’m wearing into the fall.  By the way, as evidenced by the photos in this post, J. Crew is ground zero for stripes.  The downside to J. Crew (that their clothes look the same year after year) is an upside when you need a reliable source for the stuff you wear so regularly that it wears out.  Like stripes.

Striped button-back t-shirt, J. Crew ($14.99 on sale); twill skinny pants, J Brand ($176, bright royal); fleece blazer, Gibson (Nordstrom, $88, last season); suede desert boot, Clarks ($120)

Plays well with patterns

Stripes pair well with prints, like the batik-type skirt shown below.  When mixing with patterns, it helps to keep the stripe neutral, and to pair with a pattern that repeats in roughly the same proportion as the width of your stripe.  This barely makes sense to me, and I wrote it, but basically–if you have a medium-width stripe, stick with a medium-size print.  But there’s no science to it.  Just trust that you will know if it’s wrong.  It’s a good sign if your significant other takes issue with your outfit, because that, at least in my case, means you’re probably doing it right.  On the other hand, if you have small children who love your outfit, you may have inadvertently fallen prey to some bad mixing.  It’s never good when I come downstairs and my boys freeze, mid-play, to stare gape-mouthed at my outfit.  Also bad when I get the dreaded “Mom, are you going to a party today?” from my five-year old.  He wears his pants backwards on a regular basis.  It stresses me out when we’re seeing eye-to-eye on my clothes.

Cotton striped shirt, J. Crew ($48); cotton batik skirt, Gap ($44); leather mary janes, Chanel ($480, gift from hubby). Awesome letterpress print behind me by my friend Suzanne Hallerman at jigsaw graphics

Stripes on stripes

For those who have been wearing stripes for years and want to kick it up a notch, try pairing stripes with stripes.  A few considerations: 1) make sure your stripes are going in different directions; 2) it helps to have a visual break between the stripes, like a belt; and 3) stripe-on-stripe works best with stripes of different widths.   I wore the outfit below to my firm’s party a couple weeks ago, where it paired beautifully with my nametag and the jumbo shrimp.

Silk shirt, J. Crew ($110); wool pants, J. Crew ($108, five years ago); leather belt, J. Crew ($48); watch, Timex ($50)

How do you wear your stripes?