Warm Socks, Strong Coffee & Good Books

So, it’s winter(ish). And that means I’m cozying up alone with books. Here’s the journey where my introversion has taken me.

 

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love
by Jonathan Van Ness

I got this book for my birthday. I love Queer Eye and so I knew I’d enjoy this. I’m also a sucker for a story of a checkered past. So, yeah. By the time I finished the book, I felt such a strong feeling that Jonathan and I were friends and should chat everyday. Side note: check out Gay of Thrones.

 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder
by Eli Brown

I started off slow with this one but was glad I stuck it out. It was really good. What’s it like to be a chef kidnapped by pirates? You’re about to find out. Pirates, trade wars, gourmet food prep … could be a current TV show … only it’s 100 years ago.

 

Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

I’m proud to say I got this book from the library (and by “got” I mean had it downloaded and then had to wait to have it renewed through my Libby app). This book was so beautiful! The imagery! The mood. I just wanted to BE there. I was there. Creative and original. Highly recommend.

 

Love Anyway
by Jeremy Courtney

I was invited to meet this author and be a part of a making a difference in war-torn places. The evening was amazing and I’m so glad I went. Taking a close up look at the wars in the middle east is not something I frequently or willingly do. The refugee crisis and ever widening violence in this world is just too painful for me to look at. So, reading this was a big step. And it was so worth it.

 

Have you read any of these books? It’s always interesting to step back and look at what themes I’ve been immersing myself in. Growing up gay in the midwest. Getting kidnapped by pirates. Surviving poverty, abuse and rejection. Facing the worst atrocities as well as your own crisis of faith. Sort of connected. Sometimes our trials and suffering lead to great accomplishments. Sometimes our attempts to escape lead us right back to where we were. But, hopefully our experiences will shape us into something useful and something we can be proud of.

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New Wardrobe Additions: November

NOVEMBER $430
okay, okay…I know. It’s bad. But I found the perfect winter (investment) coat.

GAP Long Sleeved Tee in White — $12
I love GAP’s featherweight tees. I’ve been needing a basic white shirt for layering…

Madewell Tee in White — $17
Couldn’t pass up this adorable vintage looking tee. (top photo)

Cole Haan Chelsea Boots — $80
I’ve been on an endless hunt for some pointy toe, low heel boots. Originally, I settled on this pair from Madewell, which were pricey and not very pointy. My lovely friend Annie had given me a gift card to Nordstrom so I returned the first pair and got these. (top photo)

& Other Stories Peacoat — $245
A huge splurge! I lived with this coat handing in my closet for a while before suddenly wearing it on a fancy night out. I did not regret it. It is so warm (100% wool) and enveloping. I believe it will be a staple for years to come. I managed to sell my old black wool coat on Poshmark to make room. (bottom photo)

GAP workout leggings — 2 pair $67
I needed long leggings and I found 2 great pair at GAP. One black and one striped. Great deal! (middle photo)

COS Sparkle Socks — $9
Oh, I almost forgot, I also got a pair of sparkly socks from COS (high end sister store to H&M). I wanted so many things in the store but decided to wait…

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New Wardrobe Additions: October

OCTOBER $185

(A little over budget, but it was my birthday…)

Gold heart stud earrings $40 — I’ve been wanting a pair of small studs. I found these at a local store, Dandelion.

J. Crew d’orsay flats (similar) $35 — These have been on my wishlist for a very long time. Found them secondhand on Poshmark. (middle photo) I did buy these Aldo shoes first but then realized they weren’t what I wanted so I returned them.

Anthropologie belt $48 — I found this perfect thin brown belt with gold buckle while visiting family in DC. (top photo) In my belt search, I tried this Madewell belt

J. Crew rain jacket $40 — Also found on my trip to DC. I have worn it SO MUCH. (middle photo)

J. Crew slim perfect t-shirt $22 — Bought this in black and in white but only kept the black one. (bottom photo)

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All the Coats I Own

As I consider getting a new coat this year, let me reflect on the (old) coats I already have.

J. CREW PEA COAT — Hello old friend. This was a good investment. I think I actually got in used on eBay. Had it for years. It’s stadium cloth and very warm. The only issue is it is short and when we get into winter here in PA, my butt needs to be covered. Also, I’ve had to resew the buttons back on 100 times. I’d love to trade it for a black version that’s longer/oversized (mentioned in my & Other Stories Try-on post.) But I have a renewed appreciation for it now and will definitely keep it. poshmark

J. CREW PUFFER COAT — This was my favorite coat for a while. It’s actually not black but charcoal. It’s super warm, super cute, goes with everything. It has a detachable  hood. I ended up getting another puffer, again, so my booty isn’t cold. See below. everlane

J. CREW DUFFLE COAT — I have been neglecting this coat lately. I keep thinking I need a coat that’s a light color, but I have this “pink lady.” It seemed enormous to me when I got it, (again, used on eBay) but after trying on a bunch of coats recently, I realize it’s not. It’s actually quite fitted. And cute. Also stadium cloth and very warm. Luckily, it is, at this moment, not in need of dry cleaning. Word to the wise: light coats are high maintenance. new version

UNIQLO X INES DE LA FRESSANGE TOP COAT — This coat also suddenly seems so minimal and fitted. I’m not sure it was a good choice. It looks like a proper menswear style wool coat, very classic. But it’s very thin (as in not warm) so I just don’t wear it that much. If you live somewhere with mild winters, I’d recommend. new version

UNIQLO LONG PUFFER — I got this last year. I wore it almost every day of the winter, as well as into the “Spring”. Ah, Pennsylvania… It’s lightweight but so toasty and it can be packed very small. Every East Coast girl needs a coat like this. I assumed I would one day get the Northface version, but this one is great. new version

ROXY SKI JACKET — Although it’s a ski jacket, which I need, I wear it as a regular everyday coat. It’s warm, it’s waterproof and the pattern is very cool. It’s a good option when my whole outfit is black and I need some color. A gift from my sister, who has an almost identical one with feathers instead of leaves. similar

That is it. Six fall/winter coats.

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& Other Stories Coat Try-ons

Here we are again. It’s Fall and I’m wondering, “Do I need another coat?” I’ve been browsing. A lot. So, late one night I ordered THREE from & Other Stories, which has free shipping and free returns. The first coat style I’ve been on the hunt for is…

THE OVERSIZED PEA COAT. I have a short navy blue pea coat but see a lot that are longer and black (with black buttons). They just look so understated and chic. More European street-style, less preppy. This was probably my favorite of the 3 and I feel pretty certain I need it. It’s boxy and sculptural, very modern. The shell is 100% wool, in a boucle (nubby) texture. I tried it in a size 6 and it seemed right. Here’s the link for it as well as 2 other options. & OTHER STORIES $249 | ZARA $130 | UNIQLO $60

The second coat style I’ve been obsessing about for a while (and I know this is just being fueled by media and commercialism and whatnot) is…

THE CAMEL COAT. They are everywhere, have been everywhere, on social media and the trend only seems to be picking up speed. I love how they look with black or monotone outfits. My hesitation, though, has been that I generally don’t look good in shades of tan. And, that a coat like that would be an investment. I instantly thought I needed to size down. I got it in a 6. The shoulder seams weren’t where they should be an, I know, it’s oversized but it just seemed tent-like. Not a fan of the easily-wrinkled or noticeably wrinkled look and really don’t think I can pull off the color. It’s a no-go for me. Here’s the link to it though as well as the Everlane one I think I need to try and a very affordable option from H&M. & OTHER STORIES $249 | EVERLANE $298 | H&M $129

Lastly, I’ve been asking myself, would I ever, maybe consider the ubiquitous trend…

THE TEDDY COAT. I don’t love being like everyone else. I don’t love the brown color ones. And I don’t feel great about something made of polyester. But, cosy. I couldn’t stop laughing when I first put it on. SO BIG. Pretty crazy. I wanted to fall in love with it partly because it was on sale and almost sold out. At this moment, they only have it in a 10. (And this size 6 when I most certainly return it.) Really torn but I think I really can’t pull off this look. Link to it as well as the Madewell one I tried on recently and a cheap Popsugar one I tried on at Kohl’s that sort of faux fur. & OTHER STORIES $107 | MADEWELL $168 | KOHLS $78

That’s it. Three coats I want but don’t need. I’ve got to make a decision.

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Transitioning into Fall — Jackets

Ah, jackets. Time to think about them again. Time to shop for more? Or not. I first wanted to see what I have. I think my favorite, or the one I’m most looking forward to being able to throw on is this buffalo plaid popover from J. Crew.

 

Next is an army green utility jacket from H&M. It’s lightweight (not warm) but cute and goes good with jeans.

 

I’ve got my new oversized jean jacket from Madewell. Love it. Get it here.

 

Another lightweight utility jacket from H&M. This doesn’t get a lot of wear but it just feels like me, so it’s good. I think I’m attached to it because it feels very Swedish and reminds me of my friend Madeline Lundberg.

 

A grey on white leopard print fleece from Old Navy. Every time I go through a closet clean out I think I should get rid of this, then I put it on and I love it. It’s especially perfect as a coverup to go to the gym. I don’t know why I don’t reach for it more.

 

Trench coat from Target. Why don’t I look like all the street style photos I see on Pinterest? I might have to accept that I don’t look good in a trench coat. I’m also starting to realize that masculine jackets maybe look better over feminine outfits (dresses).

 

Utility parka from the GAP. I’m letting go of this finally. It’s nice but I never wear it. Buy it from my Poshmark closet here.

 

And this black leather jacket from Lucky Brand. I don’t know if it’s the leather jacket look or this particular one. I used to have a vinyl one from H&M that I wore all the time. Buy it from my Poshmark closet here.

 

Lastly is this bomber from the GAP. It’s terribly warm and has a bright orange lining. It’s a keeper.

 

So that’s all my jackets. I think I probably have enough.

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New Wardrobe Additions: September

I think I did well this past month. Only 3 adds. #secondhandseptember

SEPTEMBER: $93

New Balance for J. Crew 520 (Used/Poshmark) $40  |  J. Crew

September was WARM in Pennsylvania this year. The shorts photo would have been appropriate all month but it was actually taken at the beginning, right after school started and I got these new sneaks. I love them. I’ve had my eye on them forever. So glad I found them, in perfect used condition, for only 40 bucks!

Banana Republic Boat Neck T-Shirt $9  |  Other colors

I have to be honest, I bought this shirt on a trip to BR that was strictly entertainment. I did not need another striped shirt. But it’s very flattering. The pink stripe looks really cheery on me.

J. Crew Black Wool Jacket/Blazer (Used/Poshmark) $44  |  Poshmark

I’ve been going around and around looking for this wardrobe staple: the black blazer. I finally realized why I was stuck and why I’ve never worn blazers I’ve had in the past. The classic, masculine style doesn’t really look good me. I wanted more of a feminine, Chanel little black jacket style. This one (top photo) is really cute.

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Transitioning Into Fall — Shoes

It’s time to put away the flip-flops. But it’s time to pull out BOOTS. Well, not quite. But, boots! I went through all my autumn to winter shoes to see where I stand when it gets chilly. How fun!

Tahari boots in black leather. These are very old. I almost got rid of these last year, but decided they’d be better if I removed the straps and now I like them. They’re high but still comfy. (similar | similar)

Franco Sarto boots in black patent. Also very old. I’m getting my money’s worth! They have a square toe and a sort of sixties vibe. They’re high but therefore flattering. Also, they’re good for rainy days. (similar | similar)

Clarks ankle boots in black leather. I love these. They have seen a lot of wear. Because of their rubber soles, they’re fairly weather-proof. More casual than the previous two. (similar | similar)

Madewell pauline boots in brown suede. I can’t wait to wear these babies! I got them last year and they are so good. (exact pair on Poshmark | similar)

Lucky Brand in brown leather. These were such a great choice. I’ve worn them for years. They go with everything. I love how they have aged and broken in. They’re so comfortable—with or without socks—and I don’t worry about them getting a little wet. (similar)

Troetorp clogs in navy leather. I’ve worn these all year ’round. They are the perfect shoe IMHO. (exact pair)

Dr. Scholls calf hair ballet flats in leopard. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Now, if I could find some in brown leather and black leather. (exact pair | similar | similar)

Steve Madden open toe booties in black leather. I love the way these look but they still give me blisters (across the top of the toe) Also, do they qualify since they’re open toed and heel? I think they work for early-summer-into-fall outfits. (similar | similar)

J. Crew calf hair maryjanes in leopard. These were an amazing find. I got them super discounted last year. #nataliebortonmademedoit (exact pair on Amazon | similar)

Analysis: 

I feel really good about my boots. I think I’ve got everything covered. Not shown were my J. Crew short black rubber rain boots (which my daughter has stolen for the purposes of horseback riding), a pair of black Hunter rain boots and some Sorel snow boots.

The above also doesn’t include all my closed toe heels/pumps of which I have a good number (don’t need more).

I would like to add a few pairs of mules, loafers and/or ballet flats (especially of the d’orsay variety.) So, I’ve been looking.

And, of course, I’m considering adding another pair of clogs. Probably in brown.

Check out my Pinterest boards:

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The Un-Book Club

If you don’t belong to a book club but wish you did, welcome to my ever-growing list of suggestions.

 

The Courage to Be Disliked
by Ichiro Kishimi And Fumitake Koga 

My friend Jenny recommended this and I bought it on iBooks. I thought it was going to be a book about setting boundaries, but it really wasn’t. I have to say I thought the format — a Socratic dialogue — very awkward. Maybe it was the translation from the Japanese. It was like, people don’t talk like that. But once I accepted that, I was able to enjoy and benefit from the ideas put forth. Although the concepts weren’t new to me, I loved them! I won’t spoil it for you, but I highly recommend!

Raising a Screen Smart Kid
by Julianna Minor

This book has become my parenting bible. Limiting screen time is all my family talks (fights) about! Raising a Screen Smart Kid has helped so much. It is extremely well written (easy to read) and well researched. Oh my god, did Julianna do her homework! I truly answers all the questions. Please, for your sanity and survival, buy this book. Like, now.

The Miniaturist
by Jesse Burton

Okay, now a lovely novel. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, it feels a little like Henrik Ibsen’s A Dolls House. I love a good family secrets book. A truly enjoyable literary journey.

The Call of the Wild
by Jack London

I read this because my 11 year olds had to for school and I needed to quiz them on it, but I ended up loving it. So interesting. Quite violent. I’m glad I finally read this artfully worded classic based on real events in 1900 Alaska. I downloaded it for free on my iPad.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I swore I’d never read another WWII/Nazi book. This was worth an exception. Two young lives, on opposite sides of a war, ultimately converge. Beautiful described scenes and action.

Lagom
by Niki Brantmark

Such a cute little book. I love Swedish design and culture. (I read and loved A Year of Living Danishly.) I’ve followed the blog My Scandinavian Home for a while and knew I’d love this book. I’m also a sucker for great photography and illustration.

Full of Beans
by Jennifer L. Holm

This is one of the books I read to my kids. I got it at the library. Their dad read The Third Mushroom and The Fourteenth Goldfish to them and they loved those, so I thought it would be good. So many kids’ books are a real drag for the parents but this one was enjoyable! It was fairly gritty, kind of a Elmore Leonard vibe. Set in Key West in the depression, it follows a sort of little rascals group of kids who are very resourceful.

Becoming…
by Michelle Obama

Not to be political, but I love the Obamas. It was obvious I was going to read this book. How fun to hear her life story, and all the presidenty stuff we already know, from her perspective. You gotta love her. Plus she is amazing in Carpool Karaoke.

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New Wardrobe Additions: August

AUGUST $128

The Oversized Jean Jacket in Wortham Wash $128

I only bought one thing in August: a jean jacket. I’ve been wanting it for a while but didn’t want to pay full price. In the end I got talked into it. And I don’t regret it. I think a denim jacket is such a versatile piece and a good investment. I already had a denim jacket (an old one from H&M) but it is fitted and doesn’t have pockets. This oversized one really feels cozy and soft. I’m looking forward to layering sweaters under it when it gets colder. (Almost identical one from Nordstrom)

So, although I spent a lot, I only added one thing which makes me feel good. I strive for a minimal closet where I love everything I have and I wear everything I have. I have experimented with capsule wardrobes and participated in 10×10 challenges but mostly I just keep all my clothes in one place. Most things are hanging in a medium size closet, with underwear, socks, jeans, pjs and workout wear in a dresser. I don’t pack away off-season clothes. It works for me to see everything I have. I like the way it looks. It makes me happy and it makes it easy to get dressed. I rotate things out as needed. I did a huge Marie Kondo clean out of my clothes back in 2016 and I haven’t had to do it since.

I feel good about sticking to a budget and being very organized and minimal. I don’t feel good, however about the fact that I do contribute to an industry with a very dark secret. I recently worked up the courage to watch The True Cost and now I can’t un-know it. I have to make some changes. A cheap tee shirt from a fast fashion store is not truly cheap. Some of the imagery in the movie will haunt me forever. We just can’t keep causing so much harm, to other human beings and to the planet. It’s just not worth it. But with all social change the goal is not to wallow in guilt, but to make the small changes we can. You choose. It will make a difference. I think twice whether or not I need a new item. I look for it from a responsible company. I try to find it second hand. And I take good care of it! Then I find someone else who can use it after me. I am so grateful for the life and lifestyle I’ve been given.

What about you? How has your outlook on fashion consumption changed over the years?

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