Remember April?

It’s been awhile. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been socializing. I haven’t been a part of the world. So I thought I’d check in with you all. After much thought and reflection, I’ve come up with a vision for this platform, this blog. And that is this: just post stuff. Sometimes a crappy effort is better than no effort at all. Creativity is a tricky thing. And I can talk myself out of creating because I think too much about my audience’s reaction. But, really, who cares? Sometimes the cure for feeling stuck is to just do the next thing, no matter what anyone thinks about it.

Let’s pretend that I posted something new every week. That would take us back to April 3rd. That was my friend Annie’s birthday. Some of her friends and I decided to go over to her house and sing happy birthday to her in her driveway. That turned into dressing up and singing and dancing to ABBA. And then that morning it was rainy and I thought we decided to wait until the afternoon when it let up. I stepped out of the shower and Peggy called and said where are you?! I said I’m not dressed and aren’t we doing it later? to which she said, and I quote, “Just put on your wig and get over here!” And I did. We danced in the rain to Waterloo and Mamma Mia and Annie videoed it and even though we said do NOT post that, she put it on YouTube.

A few days later we went through the kids not wanting loft beds any more. My daughter convinced us to dismantle hers so it was just a regular full sized bed on the floor with no room for a desk and a massive clean out of her closet and all her old toys. I photographed all the Barbies, the My Little Ponies, and other oddities (Do we really need a rubber unicorn finger puppet?) and asked my friends if they wanted any of it. My son’s loft bed could not be converted so it was either use a chainsaw or flip the whole thing upside down. We chose the later and ended up having to take it apart and put it back together incorrectly, which was quite the IQ test.

Then it was Easter.

Then my daughter grew out of all her clothes. You know what that means. She wanted new clothes. It seemed like the perfect time to finally get her to watch The True Cost. If you’ve never seen it, you should. And your kids should. It’s about the devastating effect of fast fashion. In actuality bribed her. I said I’d buy her the crap she found on Pinterest if she still wanted them after watching it. She didn’t. We got a few things she needed. I passed her old clothes to friends and got some new-to-us things from other friends.

Quarantine continued and we struggled though online or “distance” learning. Middle School is a MF. I decided it was time to read Queenbees and Wannabees. It is full of great information about the challenges of teenagers. It also re-traumatized me! Ah, adolescence.

And there you have it. That was April.

 

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My Newest Clogs

#cloglife

I finally ordered this pair of clogs, the Lotta from Stockholm “High Heel Classic Clog Tan” on March 11th and they arrived, all the way from Sweden, on March 21, so 10 days. (I might have checked the tracking number multiple times…) I have been pondering this purchase for a very long time, being very intentional about what I add to my wardrobe.

#lowbuychallenge #2020wehaveplenty #useless_lowbuy2020

I almost didn’t buy them. Before I did, because I would be paying for shipping both ways, and didn’t want to buy the wrong size, I emailed the company. They emailed me right back!

Hello,

I’m wondering how narrow these are. I usually wear a US 8.5 because my foot is sort of wide, but fit well in a 38 in Troentorp and Birkenstock.

Thank you,

Leigh


Hi Leigh!

Thank you for getting in touch!

The general width of the widest part of the highwood shoe is 8cm (the ball of the foot) and the narrowest part (just by the heel) is 6.5 cm. Depending on the size of the shoe, this will vary by a couple of millimetres but is generally similar.

The general width of the widest part of the Lowwood shoe is 9cm (the ball of the foot) and the narrowest part (just by the heel) is 7.5 cm.

This is not the best style for a wide foot. If you would like a high heel, the Highwood clogs will fit better than High Heel Classic even if the base is exactly the same.

Do let me know if I can do anything else for you!

With kind regards,

Sol

I sort of decided then I wouldn’t get them. But then they kept calling to me. My desire for them never went away. If I was going to buy one new thing this season, it was a second pair of clogs. So, about a month later, I measured the width of some of my narrower shoes and decided that the “highwood” clog would fit me. Oh, my gosh. When they arrived and fit me perfectly, I was so thrilled! I really like to live on the edge. Haha. I love them and they are everything I have been wanting: classic style, brown leather, mid heel. (They are only $76.38 + S&H and run true to size.)

Before this pair, I bought the Troentorp Da Vinci in Dark Blue. I’ve had them for a year and a half and have worn them so much that I need to get them resoled. I was advised by a fellow clog-lover, “if you get them resoled before you get down to the wood, they’ll last a lifetime.” I had planned to take them to the cobbler right after I received the new pair but then we went into lock-down due to COVID-19. The Da Vinci are amazing. I love that they make me taller without being a high heel. I knew that my next pair would be a higher heel and the “High Heel Classic” are more like a mid-high heel and they are equally comfortable. My favorite thing about clogs are wearing them while I’m cooking. It’s no surprise so many chefs wear them. There’s something about them that give me confidence in the kitchen. But I do get nervous about spilling food on the new ones.

I’ve been wearing them for about a week now—mostly indoors. Yesterday I wore them to go to the grocery store. They are so comfortable, needing no break in period. They are so perfect.

Here are the ones I got plus three others I considered. I hope you have a chance to get yourself a pair if you’re looking.

 

Lotta from Stockholm  |  Sandgrens

No. 6  |  Swedish Hasbeens

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White Jeans Make Me Happy

Well, I’m ticking through my to do list. “Write blog posts” is one item. It’s something I never seem to get around to. I have a lot of time on my hands these days and you would think I would do it. But here’s the thing, I don’t get paid to do it. Also, there are usually more (seemingly) important things for me to do. Plus, who cares? Well maybe a few people. I mean, I care about clothing and outfits and such. It’s a beautiful diversion and I especially feel good when I see other people making conscious choices and sharing their personal lives.

So jeans. I have a lot of jeans. But no white jeans. And since the beginning of the year I have been on a low-buy challenge which has been really good for me. To date I’ve bought only one sweater (which I didn’t end up keeping) and one pair of jeans: the above pictured jeans from Gap. They were the second pair I tried on. (The first pair were from Madewell and they did not flatter me!) I ordered these white jeans on a whim when I was buying some things for my daughter on Gap.com. They looked promising—high waisted, off white, straight leg… When they arrived, I was instantly in love. They fit so well in the butt and the waist. So comfy! And, I love the button fly. They were exactly what I was looking for. I couldn’t believe it could be that easy. Plus, with discounts and all, they were only $41. The only thing that would have been better is if they were from a sustainable brand.

INSPIRATION

White jeans are something I have been wanting for a while. I thought they’d be perfect in my fall/winter capsule wardrobe. I looked and looked. I found a few options and saved them on Pinterest. When I think of adding something to my wardrobe, I have to really want it, really need it and if possible, buy it used or responsibly made. Ideally it is something that I don’t have and will mix well with my other items. I decided that, from now on, if I was going to add something, I would only get it if it was really special. I saved my clothing allowance and planned a trip to Manhattan (a 2 hour drive away). I wanted to go to a handful of stores I really like, stores I don’t have near me, to see the clothes in person. I focused in on Greenwich Village/Soho and chose Sézane, Everlane, & Other Stories, and Maison Scotch. I was prepared to spend more than usual, make an investment. At this point, I’m not going to NY. Well, not any time soon. But I’m okay with it.

OPTIONS

Gap | Madewell | ReDone

Everlane | J Crew | J Crew

Sézane | & Other Stories | & Other Stories

If you’re looking for versatile addition to your wardrobe, I think a pair of high-waist, straight-ish pair of white denim could be just the thing. I really don’t know if shopping for clothes is where anyone’s head is at right now. I bought these at the very beginning of March and haven’t really worn them much. Yesterday I pulled out all my Spring/Summer clothes and packed away all the Fall/Winter clothes. It was a first-day-of-spring activity I had been looking forward to. It was very satisfying. And my new jeans look very pretty hanging in my closet. I hope you are holding up under these scary times. I hope you’re keeping it really simple and finding things that make you happy. And reaching out to others however you can.

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I’m Still Making Myself Read Books

Actually, I like reading. But, you know, Netflix. And Instagram. And other mind-numbing activities. Reading seems like it’s good for the brain and the soul. So here’s what I’ve read since I last posted about books.

To the Land of Long Lost Friends:
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

I am only about one third of the way through To the Land of Long Lost Friends now. I previously read two other Books by Smith. It’s not really my style of literature but he was such a favorite of my stepmother Carolyn, and it reminds me of her and her quirky sense of humor. My copy was a gift from my Dad and it has a sticker on it that says “Politics & Prose, Signed by the Author” which gives me so many feels. #politicsandprose #iheartdc

Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover

This books was really hard for me to read. I became so invested and emotionally effected by it I almost couldn’t finish it. But it was so well written. And, if she could survive the living of it, I could hopefully survive the reading of it.

The Four Tendencies:
The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better
by Gretchen Rubin

I would say this book changed my life. I think everyone should read it. I read it on my Libby app. Because it was a library book, I read it super fast. Whenever I read a self-help type book, it feels like a school assignment and there’s a sense of obligation to get it done (that’s why I’m an Obliger!) Take the online test to find out which of the four tendencies you are. It gave me amazing insight on who I am as well as the motivations of the people I live with!

Turtles All the Way Down
by John Green

You may know I steer clear of YA, but my good friend Laura recommended this, so I read it. It was pretty good.

Circe
by Madeline Miller

Wow, not like anything I’ve ever read before. Quite intense. I studied ancient Greek and Roman mythology in Junior High and High School. I also read the Odyssey (voluntarily) rather recently, so it was fascinating to read a sort of novel told about the gods as if they were people. The writing was rich and challenging and really transported me to a radically different place and time. Recommend.

 

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Low Buy: My Rules and How I’ve Done So Far

My only purchase this year: a J.Crew sweater from Poshmark

I don’t know exactly what day in January I officially committed to doing the “Low Buy Challenge” but here we are, one week into February and I feel like I’ve done well so far.

In my last post I talked about why I was doing it, who inspired me, and what clothes I currently have in my Fall/Winter closet. (Spring/Summer items are packed away.) I think the next step is to discuss the rules I’ve created around when and if I add something.

  1. Wait. That’s right. Try it on in store or look at it on line, but don’t buy it today. Pin it on my Pinterest “Wish List” board. If I still really like it in a week or a month, I can get it.
  2. Ask myself if I need it (will it fill a hole in my wardrobe/I don’t already have something similar), Is it truly my style, will it get a lot of wear. Is it on my list?
  3. Try to buy second hand or get it from a friend.
  4. Shop sustainable brands. Consider spending a little bit more to support more responsible manufacturers, and invest in a quality item that will last longer.
  5. Don’t shop to avoid uncomfortable feelings or boredom. Find an alternative outlet.

Setting this goal for myself has been surprisingly freeing. I thought it would be harder. Some of the things I’ve done have made it easier. For one, at the beginning of the year I did massive email clean out. I unsubscribed from all unnecessary emails, especially clothing stores. I threw away coupons and sales flyers and any other enticement to buy stuff when I don’t need stuff! Another thing that helped is resisting the urge to get rid of a ton clothing I don’t wear. I know now that this can create a vacuum that makes me want to run out and get new stuff. If I think I should get rid of it, I put it away in my off season bins. If I still feel the same in the Spring, I’ll donate it. The third thing I did was spend less time looking at fashion blogs and social media in general. If I read posts, it’s from people who encourage slow fashion. This growing online community is like a support group and it really helps! Check out #2020wehaveplenty and #useless_lowbuy2020

The longer I go without buying clothes the more I feel like I don’t need to. I like the clothes I have. I don’t need new ones. Besides, I like knowing I have a stash of allowance money that keeps getting bigger. The more I have, the less I want to spend it.

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Low Buy Challenge

a new challenge
I’ve decided to make an effort to buy as few clothing items as possible this year. These last two years I did “A year of Shopping Responsibly” and then “New Wardrobe Additions” posts to help me be more accountable about what I purchase and to motivate me to be more selective about what I buy. It was a good exercise, and it really revealed that I shop too much. I recently watched the documentary, “The True Cost” and had to face some ugly truths. And how I was contributing to a big problem. Overconsumption is causing serious damage to the planet and the people who make our clothes. There are a lot of reasons to participate in “slow fashion” and it may seem like a real kill joy at first, but just like any form of minimalism, you get to decide how to do it and how much feels right for you. Any amount of change helps!

my inspiration 
My biggest motivator has been Signe from uselesswardrobe.dk. She introduced her “low buy” concept at the beginning of the year and I decided to jump on board. I’ve been following a lot of bloggers over the years who promote minimalism and capsule wardrobes—which I was attracted to because their beautiful simplicity—but am now embracing due to their social consciousness. Recently, I found myself following the Instagram stories of Jaana, from thismomsgonnasnap.com , on shopping addiction. I love that she had the guts to share her journey, and to call it what it is. There are so many others and I encourage you to check them out.

step one
I decided that the best place to start was to appreciate what I have. Above you’ll see a video of every item currently in my closet. Why did I try on all my clothes and take mirror selfies of them? Because I saw Signe do it and I wanted a record of everything I currently have. I knew it would really show me that I don’t need any more clothes. And, when and if I look for a new item, I won’t buy something I already have and I won’t buy things that don’t fit my style or my lifestyle. Signe also inspired me recently to try packing up all my off season clothing so what you see there is only Fall/Winter. And keep in mind, I’ve been through countless decluttering sessions including The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Curated Closet. I regularly inventory my clothes and only have what I truly love and wear. I now know that I have, available to me, the following clothing:

PANTS/SKIRTS – 14
TEE-SHIRTS – 24
SHIRTS – 9
SWEATERS – 13
JACKETS, ETC. – 3
SPECIAL OCCASION – 19
SHOES – 19

That’s a lot! (God, that really is an enormous amount of items.) And it doesn’t include off-season clothes and it doesn’t include what I’ve donated. I’ve spent the last 10 or so years trying to ‘build the perfect wardrobe’ LOL. And now, and at my mature-ish age, I’ve amassed a collection. I’m fortunate that my size has stayed fairly consistent and that I have a certain allowance for clothes. I try to take good care of my garments. Going through the video I can see some things that I could let go of. I’m going to see what I wear as I go forward.

Well, thanks for indulging me in this exercise. I do it only to convince myself: I have enough. I am enough. I’m looking forward to exploring this subject in further depth. Topics like: sustainable brands, buying second hand, putting outfits together with what I have, avoiding impulsive purchases, shopping from a list, etc. I hope you’ll join me!

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New Wardrobe Additions: December

Tissue Turtleneck: J.Crew | Jeans: Lucky Mid Rise Ava Super Skinny Jean | Clogs: Troentorp Da Vinci in Dark Blue

 

I’m wrapping up my series on new clothing purchases with the last month in 2019. I’ll be creating some new content for 2020 — things like responsible consumption, second hand shopping and styling old clothes in new ways. Here’s what I added in December:

DECEMBER $82

Madewell beanie — $22
I am in love with this hat. It’s so soft, and of course I totally have a thing for dark forrest-y blue-greens. It’s cozy and warm. If you’re looking for the warmest hat, I recommend this  wind-resistant fleece-lined one from LL Bean

Lucky Brand Jeans black skinnies — $60
These were sort of an impulse-y buy. One day I realized I didn’t have a pair of black skinny jeans and I needed some. I went over to Banana Republic, and then Lucky, and found the perfect pair. You know you’ve made a good choice when you wear them immediately and then for like 4 days in a row.

#cloglife #lowbuy2020

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Most Popular Outfit Searches

Google released its “2019 Year in Search” covered in the CNN article here which listed the most Googled outfit related searches. So, what are they, and do I care?

Egirl/Eboy is basically 80s punk with a little 90s grunge mixed in. How cute are these kids with their tartan, ripped jeans, fishnets, studded belts, chains and heavy eyeliner? I want to make them a mix tape with the Cure, Minor Threat, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Soundgarden. and  WHAT I WOULD BUY: GAP Plaid Pants

Soft Girl is the same as above, but with pastels. Same high-waisted pants with heavy cinched belt, also too-short skirts and too-short tops. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Asos Overalls

source: @samramic

Biker Shorts is pretty self-explanatory, but must include oversized tee, really big sneakers or combat boots. Bonus points for a blazer and/or fanny pack. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Free People Bike Shorts

VSCO Girl is so hard to define because it’s always evolving and so varied by season and location. May include: cowry shell necklace, crop top, ripped jeans, VANS. Beach-y and relaxed with a heavy dose of privilege. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Santa Cruz Tee

source: m.imgur.com

Dickies are actually really cool. The retro, masculine, can-I-check-your-oil look is edgy yet accessible. Look good with converse or VANS. They come in lots of unexpected colors as well as boiler suit versions. Balancing them out with softer elements, like a feminine tee, make for a great outfit. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Madewell x Dickies Twill Pants

source: @fashion_jackson

White Jeans also seems like a no brainer. Popular pairings: more white or tans or other neutrals. Extra credit for a brown leather tote bag. WHAT I WOULD WEAR: Sézane Brut Sexy in Ecru

source: stylevu.com

Fila is just Fila. I like that so many fitness brands never seem to go out of style. I’m not sure I need to explain this, basically, if you have a Fila sweatshirt (or really any fitness brand), wear it. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Hanami Logo Sweatshirt

source: thekatiquette.com

Champion is the same as Fila. (BTW, I just want to applaud the marketing departments that are keeping these brands relevant and profitable.) And I want to say, I love seeing how you don’t have to have a lot of money to be on trend. And that you don’t need to follow trends. Just find what you like and wear it! WHAT I WOULD BUY: Champion Joggers

source: livelovesara.com

Leather pants are great as long as you can afford them and aren’t against leather. Faux is also an option. I’m not a big fan of “leather” leggings that don’t look like pants. But whatever your preference, all you need to add is a tee shirt, a cozy sweater and literally any shoes. WHAT I WOULD BUY: Emerson Fry Vegan Leggings

 

What types of outfits do you search for?

 

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Short, Black & Pointy

How I describe the perfect boots. They weren’t easy to find. I looked and looked. I finally chose the Madewell ones but they did not have a pointed toe! I thought I was okay with that, but it turns out I wasn’t. So I sent them back. The final-final choice was the Cole Haan pair, from Nordstrom rack and I got my usual 8.5 size and then conceded that I needed the 9. Now I am happy. (Photo above shows the first purchase on the left and the second on the right.)

Here are all the ones I found in my search, so if you’re in the market, I hope this helps.

  1. Cole Haan $130
  2. Madewell $188
  3. Marc Fisher $180
  4. Franco Sarto $170
  5. & Other Stories $150
  6. Marc Fisher $100
  7. Everlane $225
  8. J. Crew $258
  9. J. Crew $228

 

My original inspiration: my daughter, at age 7, looking like a tiny Anine Bing, right? So fierce. Note the baby doll carrier. Kills me. She picked those boots out herself!
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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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