To Tuck or Not to Tuck?

I’ve had a lot on my mind these days. Life is busy and life is incredibly hard and lately, very tragic. I think a lot about what’s going on in the world and I feel a lot about it. This blog is my outlet… an emotional and a creative outlet. I think we all need a light-hearted diversion occasionally. So, please indulge me in this very not serious topic: Shirt Tucking. 

I have always been squarely in the no-tuck camp. Why? Because I have (in my mind) a crazy large booty. I feel like the visual effect of having my tops over my pants creates the optical illusion that my backside is more reasonable. For this same reason I have embraced lower cut pants as long as they’ve been around. As waist heights have risen, I’ve resisted. Ever so slowly I’ve become more openminded about high waisted pants. And one day last month I was somewhat willing to try tucking in my shirt. Probably because of Jeanne Damas. I started to think maybe it looks better to tuck shirts in. I kind of like having a defined waist and having longer-looking legs.

I tried tuck vs. no-tuck with the two pairs of high-waisted pants I own: a wide-leg crop from Madewell (that I cropped myself using this video), and a long flare from the Gap.

So, I enter into evidence, exhibits A – E. You decide.

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My Never Ending Search for the Perfect Trench Coat

It all began back in 2013. I became aware of the most important wardrobe must-have. The Trench Coat. Remember Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I wanted to look just like that. I searched and researched and then finally, on February 4, 2014, I found the perfect trench coat: Banana Republic, eBay, NWOT, $50.

I never wore it. I tried. I really did. I thought the problem was that it was too long, so I had it shortened. I still didn’t wear it.

Pictured below: The BR Trench Coat (photographed January 2016)

Caught up in Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo fever, I bought a bunch of stuff I would end up returning including this next trench coat, pictured below. I felt like the color was wrong and the lining made it look bulky.

I continued to obsess about finding the right coat.

Then I read the book, The Curated Closet and learned that just because everyone says something is a “Must-Have” you don’t have to believe it. It may not work for you. I mean, how can something be a must have for everyone. I began to let go of my need for a trench coat. “It’s not me.” I still sort of held out hope. Maybe, I just hadn’t met the right one.

I finally gave away that Banana Republic coat I never wore, never loved. I could live with out a trench coat in my carefully curated wardrobe. No one needs a trench coat.

But I still searched. I saved them on my Pinterest boards. I had my eye on a few, but waited. I didn’t need one and I didn’t need to spend the money.

And then on a whim I grabbed this trench coat, pictured below, at Target for $45. I’m wasn’t sure about the color but loved everything else about it, especially the hood. As I was buying it I felt sure I would be returning it the next day.

Could this be the one?

Here are my top contenders, and the one I bought:

Uniqlo | $130
Everlane | $138
Gap | $80 (on sale for $56)
Target | $45
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Copy Cat

When I’m bored or uninspired by my clothes, I go to my style board on Pinterest. When I’m really bored, I try to recreate my favorite pins with items I already own. Not a new concept of course, it’s been done by everyone from jseverydayfashion.com to manrepeller.com.

Look One: Cream-colored sweater, olive “army” pants and black sandals. I would love to  buy a cable knit sweater like the one in the inspiration photo, but will settle for this old, Old Navy sweater. Source

Look Two: White button down, black pegged trousers and red pumps. I love her shoes—leather with ankle straps. Mine are swede and you can’t see it but they have a nice brown block heel. This is a simple, obvious outfit formula, but somehow I needed Pinterest to tell me it goes together. Source

Look Three: And black trousers go with anything so they definitely go with my oatmeal colored sweater. I don’t know what kind of shoes she’s wearing, maybe Adidas, but I’m still doing the red heels. Sunglasses complete the look. Note to self: a big black tote can’t be too big. Source

Look Four: There are so many things that are good about this inspiration photo, from the coat to the little bag, but the main thing here is: high-waisted jeans that are belted and have the shirt tucked in.* After I took this selfie, I promptly took a pair of scissors to the hem of my jeans and then washed them. Source

*Only half tucked, but may have been a turning point for me regarding tucking in shirts.

 

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What I Read This Summer

The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton

Having already read The Secret Keeper, I knew I would love this book which unravels the mystery of a little girl who travels alone by boat from England to Australia. The story line has us bouncing back and forth between present and past — 1900, 1913, 1975 and 2005. It is reminiscent of The Secret Garden, which I read and loved when I was little, but goes much deeper into complex family dynamics and history. I was so incredibly hooked. My favorite read all summer. (Note: I found this book in a little free library in Carversville, PA so double win!)

 

 

Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah

I grabbed this book one day at the library because I was heading to do one of these really-fun-for-the-kids-really-boring-for-the-moms thing and needed a book to read while they played. I’m trying to not be that person on their phone who’s ignoring everyone. I feel way cooler reading a book and ignoring people and this somewhat controversial title seemed like the perfect way to do that, so extra points for me.

I was somewhat unprepared for how heavy it would get. I should have known. But what an amazing story. So worth reading.

 

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

I get a lot of recommendations from my aunt Cindy and she thought this one was so good and thought I would love it so much  that she ordered it on Amazon for me. We were talking about it at the Memorial Day picnic and the next thing I knew it was in my mailbox.

An epic page turner, told from the point of view of two french women living through WWII. I mean, I knew the war was bad but this made me feel like I personally lived it. And I gotta tell you, I was so mad at the Germans. The author really drives home the indignities endured, like having their priceless paintings taken and not having any coffee. Brutal.

But seriously, everyone should read this. It felt so significant to me at this time in our country’s history.

 

The Painted Drum
by Louise Erdrich

This book. It didn’t look that interesting at first. I couldn’t remember where I got it. Then I remembered: I read a review about it (probably in Marie Claire or Elle), put it on my Amazon wish list and then my lovely sister Missy bought it for me for my birthday. I finally go around to reading it. The initial plot is rich and dark and draws you in, but then it’s like a story within a story. It was so interesting, so unlike anything I’ve ever read. I won’t tell you anything else. Just read it.

 

 

 

 

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The Art Museum

The first time I took my kids to the Michener Museum, I think they were about 3 years old, the woman at the front desk asked me, “Are their hands sticky?” What? Are you asking me if they just got finished climbing a tree, raiding an unattended beehive, scooping large handfuls of delicious honey and licking theirs paws clean…but not entirely clean? And then as soon as they finished their snack, decided they would very much like to explore some local art?

Whenever I return to this local cultural gem, I think of that woman. And I wonder, why do people think art isn’t for kids? Not only do I believe it’s a great experience for them, but I think they “get it” in a pure, simple, true way that many adults don’t or can’t or forgot how to. I pay for an annual membership and we only go a few times a year, but it’s worth it. I believe in supporting the arts. They say only 5% of Americans have ever been to an art museum.

I grew up in DC where the museums are amazing and free. My parents took me to them a lot when I was young. I still remember being around 5 or 6 and saying that the Mary Cassatt paintings were my favorites. Then, a few years later, explaining that I liked them when I was little but had outgrown them. I moved on to new faves—Surrealists, Pop Artists, Abstract Expressionists.

So I take my “little ones” to art museums, and ask them which are their favorites, and why. They get it.

 

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Let’s Get Fit: I’m Working Out Again

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I am so happy to report that I can workout again! You have no idea how freaked out I was when my back went out at the beginning of the year, and then again, and then again. So, I want to share with you what I did to heal my back and what I learned from it.

Chiropractic — I have an amazing chiropractor (that takes walk-ins.) The morning my back “gave out,” I was suddenly unable to stand up, walk, go up or down stairs, bend over, lift anything, dress myself, drive…basically anything…without excruciating pain, I ended up driving myself to his office to get adjusted. This time wasn’t a quick fix. I went a few times before I was better. Lesson: go early, go often. 

Massage — Two weeks after the original “issue” I went to see Michelle. And then again 6 weeks later. She is amazing. More like a Doula than a masseuse. She said my back was really in bad shape, but not even in the place I was hurting. Everything was out of whack. And she was the one who started me thinking about what I realized was the root of the problem: my abs. More about that in a bit. Lesson: have a standing appointment.

Rest — This was the hardest part. I did absolutely no exercise for two weeks, then some easy yoga, then some online bootcamp-type workouts, then Jazzercise. I felt my back start to go out again and cooled it. Just walking and yoga. Then Jazzercise again and back pain again. All this time my weight was creeping up. So just yoga and walking for two weeks. Lesson: um, rest?

Yoga — I swear by yoga. I especially love the place I go and the instructors there. It’s incredibly humbling to not be able to do a class you once did. At first all I could do was the stretches my chiropractor suggested: child’s pose, cobra, and then really gentle stuff at home. When I went back to class, I had to really modify. But let me emphasis the absolute necessity of yoga. It’s where I learn about body alignment, protecting myself from injury and committing to caring for my body longterm. Lesson: make a lifetime commitment to some kind of yoga/stretching everyday.

Walking — I love walking. I love that I can walk. When you are in a lot of pain for a lot of days, walking is no longer the poor cousin to running. Walking is glorious! I recommend walking outside on a long flat trail in the sunshine. Fast or slow doesn’t matter. Talk to yourself or to The Big Guy. It heals the body, the mind and the spirit. Lesson: walking is a privilege denied to many.

Abs — If you have ever felt the muscles in the base of your spine quit on you, you may wonder what you did to cause it. People always ask, “How did you hurt your back, what did you do?” Nothing. It just happened. I’ve come to realize why. I neglected the muscles on the opposite side. The lower abs. My massage person suggested that I may still be feeling the effects of having a C-section. That area can’t be ignored. I’m working on building them back up and I try to always think about them, i.e. engage them, especially when loading the dishwasher and other tipping over movements. And coincidentally, my yoga class this week was all about awareness of those muscles. Lesson: if you make your back do all the work, it will eventually quit.

On March 5th I tried running (on the treadmill) for the first time in forever. Well, in two months. I did it for 10 minutes. I know, I’m impressed too. The next week I went back to Spin class and the following week, Jazzercise. And finally I was able to go back to my favorite level 2-3 yoga class. I have never been happier. Everyday I’m getting just a little bit fitter… and it feels amazing.

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Never Tacky in Khaki

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When I chose the pieces for my Spring capsule wardrobe I knew I wanted to include my new khaki pants. Why do I love khaki’s so much? It’s not just because I went to Prep School and literally read the Preppy Handbook as a kid. Something about this time of year makes me crave them so much. I woke up one day in March and realized I had no khakis. Past pairs were long gone and not replaced. The hunt began. Pins were pinned. I tried these, these and these. Finally I tried on these from The Gap and fell in love. They have a sort of slim cut but feel roomy, soft, comfy. Also they have a sort of casual, broken in look to them rather than that very crisp/country club vibe. And they have a nice, subtle stripe detail on the sides. I originally thought I wanted them in “iconic khaki” but “mission tan” turned out to be a much better color on me. Note: Definitely size down since they stretch out.


Oh, but that’s not the end of the story. The plot takes a tragic turn. My precious new pants got a few tiny stains, which I scrubbed with a little detergent like I usually do and ended up with bleached out blotches. I took a chance and took them back to The Gap and a lovely woman said I could return them and in the end I went home a replacement pair and some valuable advice on stain-treating khakis. Don’t use detergent, use Amodex.

I’m so happy now.

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Capsule Wardrobe

I take a lot of selfies. It’s pretty ridiculous. I do it to figure out what outfits work for me and it’s really helpful. You will see below, how taking tons of shots helped me come up with a “Spring Capsule Wardrobe” (a la Un-Fancy) My goal: get dressed quickly, feel comfortable and confident and stop buying clothes I don’t need.

I started by picking out:

5 DRESSES.

7 BOTTOMS.

14 TOPS.

5 OUTER LAYERS.

8 PAIR SHOES.

Then I mixed and matched. That help me finalize my picks. I won’t show you all the photos. We’d be here forever. I’ll just drop in a few favorites for now.

 

I picked the most comfy dresses, a combo of long sleeve and sleeveless, sort of casual but work-appropriate for me. I chose one denim skirt and one black pencil skirt and one pair of black shorts. Plus pants in cream-khaki, tan-khaki, black cropped trousers, skinny jeans. For tops I went with a black cami, a super colorful shell, a blush tank, a striped tank, an off the shoulder striped tee, a white tee, a grey tee, a black tee, a three quarter length navy tee, a long sleeve white button down, a floral blouse, a long sleeve striped top, a lightweight navy sweater and a grey cardigan. Whew! Outer layers are an oilve bomber jacket, a jean jacket, an army jacket, a faux leather jacket and a soon to arrive “coatigan.” I managed to narrow the shoe wear down to black stripy sandals, black open-toe booties, brown thong sandals, brown ankle boots, blush ballet flats, black block heel ankle strap heels, adidas sneakers and platform sandals.

As I’ve put my wardrobe to the test, some items seem destined to be swapped out. I also have become obsessed with the “perfect” long, cosy, sweater/coat.

That’s it. Let me know if you’d like to know where any of the pieces are from.

Happy Spring!

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Beauty and the Beast

I saw the new Beauty and the Beast this past weekend with my 8-year-old daughter, her aunt and her grandmother. A girl’s day out to indulge in a girlish fairytale. Then my son tagged along even though his sister explained repeatedly that it was a girl’s thing. You see, there is a lot of separation in my world based on if you’re a boy or a girl. Boys go to monster truck shows and hockey games. Girls go shopping and to get their nails done. Many birthday parties are girls only. I’m always questioning it but that’s kind of how it’s always been and I don’t see it changing, although I did end up going to a monster truck show last year. A “girl” driver won.

So, Beauty and the Beast, 2017. They just released this live-action remake and if you’ve seen the 1991 Disney animated version, it won’t feel much different. The plot and dialogue is almost identical. There were a few new things peppered in and some funny jokes. The best and most unexpected part was casting of Josh Gad as Le Feu. Thank you! If you missed him as the unforgettable “Bearclaw” in The New Girl you need to go watch it immediately.

Here’s my take away from the movie: what exactly are we supposed to learn from B & the B?

It’s the Beauty on the inside that matters? You could say that Gaston was pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside and the beast was the reverse. But the beast started out like Gaston, then was cursed for it, then he was ugly outside as well as inside. It’s only at the end when he falls for Belle that he becomes selfless and good. The beast never seemed to be aware of what a jerk he was. He only seemed concerned with his own eternal damnation.

Women should not have to get married. They can be perfectly happy being independent? Belle makes such an argument for not getting tied down and living a provincial life. But she ends up marrying the beast/prince and settling down in the castle—even more remote than the small town she grew up in. Why couldn’t she have a career as an inventor like her dad? Or move to Paris and open a bookstore? Disappointing.

Poor townsfolk: bad. Rich monarchy: good? The other thing that I thought was bothersome was how we keep glorifying elitism. Can’t we move away from all this archaic classism? Didn’t we learn anything from Downton Abbey?

Also, was anyone else concerned that after the household objects/servants succeeded in getting Belle to fall in love with the Beast and getting the curse lifted, they all went back to being human servants? How is that a win?

I really wanted to like this movie and was willing to accept that it would be fairly fluffy, but it just left me wanting to go back an watch the version my mother took me to when I was little: Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête. Trailer. Online rental.

If you’re interested, you can read a plot synopsis of the original story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve here. It is much more interesting than either Disney version.

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My Free Leggings

I’ve been meaning to tell you about the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Well, after meeting my husband. And having my twins. And, like, Paris. But after that.

I heard about these free leggings through Girlfriend Collective from the blog Un-Fancy.com and paid $20 to ship a pair of leggings, which I actually needed and thought, why not? I especially liked that they claimed to be not-see-thru. That’s kind of important. So, I ordered them and then I waited.

73 days.

That’s a long time to wait. Everyday that went by, I thought, I am so dumb.

But they are amazing! The fabric is so soft, like it’s made out of kittens. (Which I hope it’s not.) But, like really strong kittens. The texture is unlike any spandex-type product I’ve ever experienced. Thick and study but with enough stretch. They are very opaque and a beautiful finish, not too shiny, not too matte. They are high waisted and flattering as hell.

And to top it all off these leggings are fair-trade, made from recycled materials. Learn more here.

So, even though the “free” leggings promo is over, check them out and just know that there are good quality products out there that you can feel good about.

Okay, I’ve got to go workout now. Bye!

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