Let’s Get Fit: Recovering from Injury and Setting Reachable Goals

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I love to work out.

That’s why I am really struggling right now. My back went out at the beginning of the year and I had to take a lot of time off from exercise. Each time I start again my back says, “No.”  But I’m not giving up.

So what can you do when you’re injured? In the past, I went to the chiropractor, got adjusted and didn’t go back until I was in severe pain again. And took some motrin. But this time was different. One adjustment wasn’t enough. I went back two more times. Then I had to admit that I obviously wasn’t taking care of myself and I hadn’t for a while. In fact I had been running with this nagging glute… sprain? tear? tumor? for over a year. It was time I faced facts and found someone, anyone (other than myself) who could tell me a solution. That’s the biggest challenge. Who do I ask? Who do I trust? I had no idea where to go.

I rested for 15 days.

I got a really intense massage during that time which helped. I asked my massage person what I should do because she’s really good and my husband swears by consistent visits which have rehabbed his hip problem and got him running again. She didn’t have a magic answer though. On day 16 I did an easy yoga class. The following week I did a few PopSugar workouts which was probably not smart. Don’t do this one if you have a back injury. After that I added Jazzercise back in. I had gotten so used to not working out that work and life any all that started to come first and it was hard to motivate. I could take it or leave it. After a few weeks I got back in the groove and was doing something everyday (walking, yoga, Jazzercise) and then my back sort of went out, not all the way, just some of the way, so I tried to chill.

I waited five days then I started again.

My back sort of went out again and so I went back to the chiropractor. He warned me again of the evils of sitting with legs up or crossed. I’m limited to sitting with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor (which is ridiculous) or lying completely flat. Sleeping on my side requires I have a pillow between my knees. (Or sew pads to the insides of my knees) And he told me to do the stretches that he told me to do last time which I told him I did everyday which might have been sort of a lie. He asked me if I had a lot of stairs in my house which made me think, “Just the usually amount. I mean, I don’t live in a lighthouse…” I asked him, “How will I know that I can workout again?” He said, “I don’t know. Try it and see how it feels.” He also said, “Maybe, try acupuncture.”

I’m walking and doing yoga only.

I did a yoga class this morning entitled “slow gentle flow” which was as awful as it sounds. I drove home afterwards and thought, “I just spent $16 to lie on the floor. I can do that at home. For free.” But the walking feels good. I feel very accomplished when I manage to get out of the house even when it’s freezing and walk. It’s really good for my crazy head.

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I realized I’m going to have to find another way to keep the weight off.

Up until January I kind of ate whatever I wanted. I mean, I don’t go crazy. Over the years I have found what works and I maintain good habits. For the most part I “Just Eat Real Food.” Since this injury I have gained 5 pounds, on top of the 5 I gained since it got cold and dark. This week I decided to start my get-ready-for-summer diet early. I cut out sugar and cut back on bread. I eat only when I’m hungry. I drink more water. I don’t eat the food off my kids’ plates. I’m actually glad to get back to better eating. After just one day I feel so much happier and more energetic. I made this salad, which was the best salad I ever ate:

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[romaine, chick peas, albacore, goat cheese, almonds, olives, dried cranberries, olive oil-lemon-dijon dressing]

I hope you are healthy and happy these days. And if you’re not, start again. Don’t give up!

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No Regrets

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How often have you bought clothing and ended up asking yourself, “What was I thinking?”

Last week I wrote about how I realized I needed to stop buying clothes … compulsively, irresponsibly. But just how does one do that? I stopped buying clothes for the whole month of January while I worked on defining my personal style using The Curated Closet.

Should I have been concerned when February 1st rolled around, that I went straight to the mall? Was it bad that I joked with the saleswoman at LOFT that having items shipped to my house might get me in trouble with my husband and her response was, “Well, you need to have a good relationship with your…UPS man. Mine hides the packages behind the bushes.”

Hahaha. he. um…

I thought I was ready to shop again, this time the “right” way. But it seemed like I fell right back into my old habits: buying things because they are pretty and new instead of buying them because they meet all my criteria and I actually need them. I thought about how many articles of clothing I have bought and then returned (or sold or donated.) I’ve had some success with eBay but mostly I send things to Thredup or donate to the local thrift store. But, ideally I wouldn’t have such high turnover in my closet.

3 EBAY AUCTIONS (click on images to buy):

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I decided that for me to make better choices when I shop in the future I should look at the past. It’s fun to go back through all the photos on your computer. My iPhoto goes back almost 10 years. There aren’t a lot of selfies from back then. Most of my photos are of other people, but almost all the photos of me have me wearing clothes I no longer own. When I found a shot of me in something I still wear, I think, “Nice choice. Well done.” I made a little collage of the “keepers.”

I can see the brands that work for me and the colors and silhouettes that I return to over and over. In addition to the above, I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of my white button down, jean jacket, navy crew neck sweater, black v-neck tee, black tank top, and black cropped skinny jeans. (I left off shoes and outerwear, I’ll save them for another time.)

Now the challenge will be to remember this when/if I go out shopping again. I need to try to avoid the usual pitfalls: Buying things because they’re new/on sale, because the salesperson said I should or because I tried on a bunch of stuff and don’t want to leave empty-handed. I also have to admit, and this is really humbling and embarrassing, that I have bought things because Pinterest, fashion blogs and fashion magazines said they were “must-haves.” Nothing is a must-have for everyone. I learned that only certain things look good on me and only I can decide that.

I think I’m making progress. To be continued…

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I’ve Hit Bottom

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I hope.

This post is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I haven’t decided the best way to present it. I haven’t figured it all out. But I need to START. So I’m starting.

This post is about clothes, mostly. But, more than that, it’s about self-expression and self-acceptance. It’s probably about a lot of other things. Let’s begin:

THE CURATED CLOSET

I read, no I am reading the Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. I’ve always been about refining my style and I thought this would help. What I didn’t realize was it would bring me face to face with the reality that I shop too much, I don’t buy quality and I don’t have any idea what I like. It pains me to admit how many mistakes I’ve made. All the items I never should have bought. Don’t get the wrong idea, the book has been really fun and helpful. I really enjoyed the various exercises: creating an inspiration file, two weeks of test outfits and then analysis, creating a mood board, then defining a style profile and color palette. I learned how to balance the types of clothes I have for the actual lifestyle that I have. (Apparently I think I go to a lot a fancy parties!) I did a lot of self-discovery and thinking. I thought I was ready to go out and start buying the right clothes for me, carefully chosen clothes that would be perfect. I had pretty much taken the month of January off from shopping. On February 1st I hit the stores. I bought five things and returned three. I felt anxious as well as empty. Something had changed. More thoughts about this to come.

UN-FANCY

My favorite blogger right now is Un-fancy. Caroline is a curated-closet, capsule-wardrobe prophet! I really respect bloggers like Caroline who post consistently. They show up daily. That is hard to do! I also love her photography. The ‘set’, the lighting, and her writing are so beautiful, clean and simple—reflecting the content and philosophy she embodies. Reading Un-fancy led me to The Curated Closet and the spiritual awakening I just spoke about. And then…

THE MINIMALISTS

…a few weeks ago I stumbled upon Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. It features The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus who wrote the book on the subject Everything That Remains. It also features Courtney Carver of Project 333. I think I’ve always been a minimalist. It really shows in my home decor (or lack thereof). People who know me tease me about how empty my house is, about how much I hate clutter. (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was written specifically for me!) I’ve always been drawn to modernism and scandinavian style. But secretly I’ve felt like there was something weird about me. Watching this film made me feel so validated. Having a word for only keeping what you need and really love made it seem normal. It made me want to be more minimal. It feels really good to me. In my soul. But the reality is that I don’t always do what is good for my soul. A part of my soul is sick. A part of it feels scared and “not enough.”

I could tell you about my deprived childhood and my very frugal Dad who only let me get clothes from Sears and only if I really needed them. I could point to the popular girls in school who had the cool clothes that I didn’t. But that doesn’t have to define me. What I’m learning is that making a decision to acquire only what you need doesn’t need to feel like a punishment. I don’t have to feel deprived. I can make the decision that I’m enough no matter what I have or what I wear. I can also make mindful choices about having certain beautiful things. I think that’s okay.

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m committing to not buying clothes for the rest of February. I’m going to finish the Curated Closet and continue to remix my clothes in new ways.

I’m working on some new content — on my fitness regime and on recommitting myself to eating healthy. Not bootcamp style. This year I’m looking to get in shape mindfully.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Happy New Year

It’s 2017! I actually love Januarys. They’re so… minimal. No holidays, no expectations. Sometimes bleak and snow covered. Oddly calming for me. I know it’s cliché, but they feel like a fresh start and I love to ponder how to makeover, well everything. Actually I did a lot of “pondering” back in November and then into December. By not waiting until the new year, I feel like I was better equipped to handle the holidays. Let’s just say I was better behaved than past years. By pondering, I mean journaling. I write about things that came up this year and look honestly at myself. In that way I can let go of old stuff and move on. It’s so helpful.

I came up with a few resolutions:

  1. Stop using styrofoam. This might sound strange and out of left field, but I thought about it one day and decided, no more. It’s horrible, non-recyclable, and takes 1,000 years to break down. Just no.
  2. Teach my kids what good music is. I’m not saying I’m banning all Justin Bieber and Sean Mendez, but c’mon, there’s so much more to know. It’s my job.
  3. Build a minimal, quality wardrobe. Pick clothes that are truly me. Stop the endless cycle of buying stuff I don’t need or like or wear.
  4. Learn to run a successful design business. After 10 years, it’s time to run my business like a proper business.

 

I’ve gotten a jump on a couple of these things. For one, I’m reading the curated closet.

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As soon as I heard about it, I put it on my wish list. Then my sister-in-law got if for me for my birthday. When I started reading it, I thought it wasn’t for me. Then, a few weeks ago, I realized it was utter genius. I guess you’re not ready to change until you’re ready. You may know how much I love simplifying and decluttering, how the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up was life changing for me. I thought I was good. I thought I had the perfect curated closet. I was so wrong. I had been brainwashed into picking some of the clothes I thought were essential. I am only just beginning this process, but I feel very good about it. Most of all I am happy that I feel no need to shop right now and that relieves a lot of guilt. I am halfway through the 2 week exercise of documenting daily outfits. Here is one:

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I am also reading The Creative Truth. Life changing. Because, I started my own design business without know how to start a design business. I thought I just need to know how to design and the rest would figure itself out. Guess what, you can learn a lot from other people. That applies to everything. I’m really excited about this and it has gives me a whole new attitude toward being self-employed.

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There is much more on my mind, but in order to say, “I posted something”, I’ll wrap it up here. It was a very busy and exciting December. Santa was good to us. I have many ideas for future posts. I will work on wrangling them into something read-able.

TTFN

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How to Maintain Healthy Gut Bacteria

 — So You Can Stay Physically and Mentally Fit Through the Holidays

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That picture is from September, the last time I wore a swim suit. I don’t love it. But I wanted a picture of a belly without using stock photography. There it is.

Let’s talk about our bellies. We want them to be flat. We want to look good. But what about what’s going on inside? Everyone is talking about gut bacteria these days. It seems that it has a much bigger effect on our weight and overall health than we thought. Is it possible that staying thin is more than just cutting calories and working out every day? And, ever since I read a couple of articles about how the right amount of healthy bacteria in your stomach can even effect whether or not you’re depressed I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to tell you anything you couldn’t just Google yourself.*

To improve your Gut Bacteria you need to:

  • Limit sugar — unless it’s dark chocolate!
  • Eat your veggies
  • Eat fiber — leafy greens, beans/legumes, nuts, bran cereal
  • Limit meat — eat more “animal fiber” when you eat meat
  • Avoid antibiotics
  • Avoid anti-bacterial cleaners, hand sanitizer
  • Get outside and get dirty—i.e., dig in the garden
  • Take probiotics/eat yogurt and kefir
  • Eat fermented foods — sauerkraut, pickles, etc.
  • Lower stress — meditate, do things you love, take a bath
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Exercise

*What I Googled:

10 Ways to Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria and Reduce Depression

16 Things That Affect Your Gut Bacteria

How Soil Microbes Make You Happy

 

Speaking of food, I did a Instagram-your-meal round-up for you which sort of looks like I live on eggs which I don’t. I try to eat a healthy balance of real foods. I do love bread so I try to eat whole grain and not too much. I eat blueberries and almonds and cashews and cheese and olives and hummus and plain greek whole fat yogurt and eggs with spinach and hot sauce. I eat pasta but also potatoes and quinoa and rice. Chicken and tuna and corn tortillas. I have a secret stash of really good chocolate. I eat too much ice cream and I love a burger and fries. If I’m hungry late at night I’ll eat raisin bran with almond milk. Oh, and in the summer lots of smoothies and salads. And Peet’s French Roast coffee. And Starbucks.

I hope you try some of these ideas and see if your belly and your mood improves.

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Greenwich: a beautiful day in the city

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Buvette

When I was in high school, my friends and I often frequented french places like Au Pied du Cochon in DC’s Georgetown. So Buvette was an obvious choice for a lunch date with my childhood friend Laura. It took us about 5 seconds to order: a croque madame for her, a salad nicsoise for me and pate to share.

Laura used to live in the Village. Sullivan & Houston, I think. “Why did I ever give up that apartment?” she lamented. “It was $900 a month.” Married now with 3 kids in a beautiful house on Long Island. “I know. You should have kept it.”

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Scotch & Soda

I had the loveliest experience at this little boutique. Not on my mental list of places I planned to go, I’d seen this brand on many a blog post and the olive-colored bomber jacket in the window called to me. The funniest thing happened when I walked in. The salesperson was really friendly. It was as if I wasn’t a tourist. He was so personable and helpful and it really paid off for him. I spent a ton there (for me). My excuse: how often am I in NY and they have some absolutely beautiful clothes. I bought a pair of black skinny jeans and an ikat blouse.

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Rag & Bone

I’ve loved this brand forever and was looking forward to seeing and touching some of their jeans and boots. I kind of ran out of time so I didn’t try anything on. I did, however score a free sample of this perfume which is so moody and delicious. All their perfumes are unisex. But, overall I didn’t lust for their clothes like I thought I would.

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This is another lesser known brand that I’ve been secretly craving. Way out of my price range but it felt so good in my soul to walk through the store and touch the velvet and sequined and brocade. Maybe someday.

Of course there’s so much more to explore in this part of New York. While I was there, just for an afternoon, I felt like a local. I even managed to navigate the subway with ease. There must be a parallel universe where I live in Greenwich Village. I have a cool apartment and I support myself painting paintings and know about all the best places to go.

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Another post about NEW YORK:

A Rainy Day in Brooklyn

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How I Stay Fit: a month of workouts

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It’s so great to see what I did over the last month. I think it really helps to schedule my workouts. I don’t always do what I plan to do, but I do a lot more that I would if I didn’t write them on my calendar.

I’ve gotten really weird with my schedule. I’m such a creature of habit. For some reason certain days work for certain types of exercise. Mondays always make me want to run. Maybe it’s the long weekend with kids that does it. I put them on the bus Monday morning and then get as far away as possible. Aaaahhhh! JK. Lately I’ve been running on the rail trail near my house which is so beautiful with the Fall colors and crisp air. Sometimes my run is actually a walk. I’m okay with that. Tuesday I always think I’ll go to Yoga but never seems to happen. Sometimes I make something up at home but honestly Tuesday has become sort of a day off. Wednesday seems to make me want to do some sort of boot camp kind of thing. I’ll work out at home to something on PopSugar fitness. I did this one last week and it was great! Thursday is always spin. It’s my favorite. Friday is the one day I go to Jazzercise. I love Jazzercise. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s the best. Yoga is usually Saturday mornings because that’s when my favorite class is and Saturday mornings just make me want to do a long, difficult yoga practice. Usually followed by some shopping. 😉

Sometimes things need to get adjusted and that’s okay. I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten into the habit of working out. The more I do it, the easier it is.

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a month of workouts
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Book Club: Go Set a Watchman

You can read all my reviews on the Book Club page.


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I just finished Go Set a Watchman and I wish I had someone to talk to about it! I’m a little fired up. I sped-read it to the end last night.

Now, first of all, I probably wouldn’t have chosen this book myself, but it was a present from my dad. I am a huge fan of To Kill a Mocking Bird. But I had read some disheartening reports about how Watchman was never meant to be published and someone had taken advantage of Harper Lee in her old age in order to make money. Watchman was apparently written before Mockingbird, and was rewritten at the suggestion of the editor and become Mockingbird. And, the biggest shock and disappointment revealed by Watchman: Atticus was racist. So you can see why I hesitated.

But I’m the type of person who likes to come to my own conclusion. I wasn’t going to make a judgment until I’d read the book. Plus, I really like the cover art.

The book takes place in the 1960s, in the south. Our beloved Scout is an adult now and visits her home town from New York City. The unrest of the Civil Rights movement is rising and she is confronted by some unpleasant attitudes toward blacks.

There are some rich, descriptive flashbacks to her childhood, robust character development and the creative and insightful writing style that Harper Lee is known for. I wish she had written more books during her life. I felt a connection to her or maybe to Jean Louise and enjoyed spending time with her.

Is it a good book? I don’t know. If you don’t compare it to Mockingbird? Maybe. I’m glad I read it. In the end I learned a great lesson. A lesson about myself and my convictions and confronting things that are unpleasant. With the political climate right now and the ideologies I encounter living where I do, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Fitness Trackers—Fitbit V. Apple Watch

I love the Fitbit. The main reason: It makes you move. I play a fun little game where I try to get more steps than yesterday, more than my husband, or my Sister-in-law or my neighbor. I do everything I can think of to rack up steps: I park far away from the store, I do as many loads of laundry as possible, I play tag in the yard. Anything and everything. I’m obsessed.

The app is very cool. Probably the coolest thing about Fitbit. I love the ‘Friends’ feature.

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The graphics are great

 

It all started with the Fitbit Flex. I got it last year on my birthday (October 2015.) I loved it. I loved tracking my steps. I obsessively checked the App on my phone. You see the Flex doesn’t tell you your step count. It just has 5 dots. Each one represents 20% of your daily goal: 10,000 steps. It buzzes and flashes when you reach it. But, I desperately wanted it to at least tell me the time.

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My husband had used a pedometer for a while so he was happy when he got the Fitbit Zip that Christmas. It tells you your step count and the time! Jealous.

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At the same time, my kids got UNICEF Kid Power bands as Christmas gifts from my lovely cousin who works at UNICEF. Score. Saved us having to buy them Fitbits (which we really weren’t about to do.) These things are amazing! They tell the time, step count, power points (get enough points and you can contribute to kids around the world.) A great way to trick your kids into moving as much as possible and teach them about helping others. Bonus: they can get a little wet (they’ve survived the pool and the washing machine) and we received free replacement when one stopped working.

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So, by now I was seriously wanting an upgrade. I held off until March when I impulsively ordered the Fitbit Alta. It wasn’t the top of the line but it was simple and sleek and an obvious improvement from the Flex. It tells the time! And step count and active minutes and mileage and calories. It tracks your sleep and has silent alarms. It doesn’t track your heart rate or amount of stairs climbed but I didn’t care. I was also so happy to switch from my now grimy orange band to a black one that goes better with my outfits. Best thing about it: It vibrates when I’m getting a phone call or text and the name or number of message scrolls across the screen. I’m in love. The charger stopped working a fews weeks in but Amazon quickly replaced the whole thing.

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I was very happy with the Alta, I wore it all the time.

But…

On my birthday this year I got the big boy: the Blaze. I was SO EXCITED. I might have screamed. Yes, I did. Like a girl. The Blaze does everything! On top of what the Alta does, add heart rate, stairs climbed, notifications (like you can read whole texts), music controls. And it has that Apple Watch look.

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I really liked it. It has so much cool stuff. I hate to even say this, but I just didn’t love the graphics and the interface. It had some features I just wasn’t going to use. And the more I thought about it I thought the design was just to clunky. I asked my husband if he would be very upset if I took it back. I kind of just wanted the Alta back. But I had already given it to him. Not only did he say he didn’t mind if I returned it, he had been wondering why I didn’t want the Apple Watch, it was so much cooler.

So after much agonizing — if I should spend more money, if I should get the 38mm or the 42mm, if I should get black or white — I went ahead and did it. I got the Apple Watch. I knew immediately it was the right choice.

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I’ve only had it for a day. We’re still getting to know each other. If you’re interested, I’m happy to write a more extensive post about all it’s features and functions.

Through all of this I have sort of cringed at spending the money. A part of me thinks its a little showy. But I justify it like this: if it gets me to be more active and healthy (and encourage others to do the same) it’s so worth it.

(This is not a sponsored post. I did link the images to where you can purchase them though.)

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My Jeans Inventory

Shout out to my Dad who, when I was little, would always make me inventory my clothes before I was allowed to get new ones.

“Dad, I need new jeans.”

“What’s wrong with all the ones you have?”

Then I’d try on each and every pair of Toughskins to show him that they were either too tight, too short or had holes in the knees. (Wait, that describes the exact jeans I’m looking for today!)

Then out would come the iron on knee patches.

That was grade school. In Junior High and High School I earned my own money and bought Guess, Jordache, Levi’s and even Marithe & Francois Girbaud. I am so dating myself!

So, here they are, every pair of jeans I own to see if I could justify buying just one more pair of jeans. (Spoiler alert: I did.) And to make recommendations for anyone interested.

Note: I’m almost always a 29, but I indicated where I sized up or down.

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Lucky Lolita. There’s a tragic tale that goes along with these jeans: a gift from my husband, an attempt to exchange them because they were too long, a botched hemming job at the dry cleaners. In the end they became my favorite jeans. I’ve since cut off the hem. I sort of feel that they’re little too low waisted. One size down. Here’s their latest version with the coveted let-out hem.

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Citizens of Humanity Emerson Slim Boyfriend. These are so soft. They’re loose and stretchy but fairly slimming. They look best with a sexy-ish heel. One size down. Get ’em here.

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Lucky Charlie Skinny. These are lovely. Soft and stretchy in a dark, crinkly blue. Should have listened to the Lucky salesperson and sized down one size.

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H&M Girlfriend Fit. I loved these at first, more flattering that the Gap pair I had, but they bag out quickly. I like the higher waist. I always go up 2 sizes with H&M. You can’t beat the price.

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J.Crew Toothpick. Everyone needs a pair of classic dark wash jeans. These aren’t the most comfortable, but they are flattering. On sale!

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J Brand. These jeans! My first pair of really expensive jeans (that means different things to different people obviously) that I bought before I had kids, they’re that old. I was pulled into Barney’s COOP while shopping with my cousin Anna in DC. The woman working the “denim bar” argued with me that the 28s fit perfectly and the 29s were too big. To emphasize her infallibility, the model-looking ingenue said, and I quote, “I’ve worked in denim for seven years.” I bought the 29s. I had them hemmed and then re-hemed recently. Every time I’ve worn them I’ve felt like a celebrity. However, they’re not really my style any more — the bootcut-ness of them — I’m considering selling them. Similar pair.

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Kensie “You Look Pretty Skinny.” A score at Marshall’s. Everyone needs a super-light-wash pair, right? Soft, stretchy but slimming. Yay!

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Zara. Sort of scandalous black waxed jeans with gold zippers. A gift from my bestie Jen. I love how other people’s picks say what they think about you. Apparently she thinks I’m Joan Jett, right? Surprisingly comfortable. Keep, but reserve for sexy night out and with long shirt.

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Banana Republic Skinny Ankle. I love these. I ended up cutting them to shorten them and have fringe and I don’t regret it. Great waist height. Great stretch. SLIMMING. Buy these right now.

That’s it for jeans. Chinos, cords and trousers will be for another day.

And so I bought these:

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J.Crew Distressed Toothpick in Pamona Wash. Hello perfect Jeans. High-but-not-too-high waist, soft, stretchy, keep their shape, distressed without big knee holes, nice length with or without a roll, slimming and a great blue color that goes with everything. Denim Heaven.

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