On Layering…Basics and Beyond

Layering.  It’s one of those things in fashion that is sometimes necessary (because of weather changes), sometimes amazing (think the Gucci runway, that gives me ALL the heart eyed emojis in the world), and sometimes an absolute BEAST to figure out how to get right.  To be honest, I think it’s hilarious when people compliment me on my layering skills, because I have been known to be the anti-layerer.  When it comes to weather, I am terrible at figuring out how to layer.  But when it comes to layering for fun fashion purposes, I’ve learned to overcome some of my layering phobias.  Because it is sometimes a struggle for me, I thought I could share some tips to maybe help you think outside the box or even just get started with layering some things you already have in your closet…or need to go thrifting for, am I right?

When I was in high school, I stretched ALL the necks out on my shirts.  If something was tight in the armpits, I wouldn’t wear it.  I wore a simple v neck t shirt and jeans, tennis shoes and a sweatshirt (hooded of course).  My dress code options were highly limited and the style at the time was more Oops I Did It Again than Private School Appropriate.  No way was I wearing plaid mini skirts and combat boots (although that would have been totally awesome) to school when my skirts were getting measured all the time.  Once a girl had to wear a towel around her waist as punishment since her skirt was an inch too short and no one was available to bring her a change of clothing.  Heck to the no was a gonna risk being “terry cloth chic” for a day when I could just dress kind of dorky and, well, NOT wear a towel as my attire.  I hated being hot (like I do now), I hated things touching my neck (claustrophobia applies to clothing too, you guys), and I hated not being comfortable.  Now…well let’s just say that I’ll overcome the comfort thing for fashion if need be often.  Unless it applies to heels.  I just can just only RARELY do it you guys, it jus hurts too much!!

So now that you have some background on my layering history, you know that I wasn’t some born layer-er and rocking super cool blazers over vests over ruffly shirts…no no no.  I had to learn to layer, overcome my fears of things touching my neck, and wear super powered hippie deodorant to deal with my sweaty, um, armpit situation.  Let me share with you some simple thoughts to help you out with your next layering venture!

  1. Layering is a lot about shapes.  I hated geometry you guys, like VERY MUCH.  Layering is like geometry for clothes.  Since there are no numbers involved, I can deal.  The shape of the top that is the base layer has to be compatible with what’s going on top of it.  A dolman sleeve is bad for layering because how can something go on top of a sleeve that goes all the way down to your waist?  When you’re looking at base layers, think collared button downs, turtlenecks, simple t shirts, or blouses that have a puffed sleeve (as long as it is tighter at your armpit than a dolman or peasant shape!)  It’s also excellent if your base layer has a sleeve as opposed to a tank top…it adds more to whatever’s going on top.  Now that you’ve chosen a good shape for a base layer, what’s going on can be pretty flexible since the base layer is the correct shape.  This is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s often better if the base layer is tighter rather than loose.  Unless you’re adding something open and flowy on top of it, it will be more flattering if your under layer is snugger!  The opposite of this “rule” (there are no rules, only suggestions!) is to look on Free People and you’ll see all kinds of flowy madness layered over more flowy madness.  Adorable, but often highly unflattering.  So…it’s kind of a personal taste thing.
  2. Layering is also about colors.  There are absolutely NO RULES on color/pattern mixing except for one.  If it looks good together, it GOES TOGETHER.  Most people aren’t super comfortable with mixing patterns, but it’s a really fun thing to do!  Florals and plaids are often excellent together.  Polk a dots can be really cute with florals too!  Honestly the only way to tell is to actually put the two items of clothing together and see if they get along.  Sometimes they fight for attention, and sometimes they make each other more beautiful!  If you’re freaked by the idea of pattern mixing, try using a neutral plaid or something as a base and put a floral with it.  It will be less crazy than a lot of colors vying for attention.
  3. Buy layering “pieces” and reuse them constantly.  This is probably one of the best things I have ever done for my layering phobias.  I have bought some lace vest shaped tank tops and I wear them over dresses, collared shirts, and anything that strikes my fancy.  I have them in black, white, and rust brown…good neutral colors for my closet.  I have some basic button downs…plaid, gingham, stripes, and polk a dot…that I use as “under” layers.  Lace makes an excellent top layer, as it adds texture to whatever’s underneath, it’s lightweight, and it will show through a bit what’s underneath which adds interest.  Short sleeved sweaters go nicely over button down tops.  Even tank tops can be used as a layer over something if it’s the right shape or fabric.  Vintage slips are my favorite top layer right now…and even those vintage slip camisole tops you see at thrift stores would make for super cute “vests” over dresses or button downs.  Before I bought those tops that I reuse constantly, I thought through all the things they might go over so that when I got them, I’d have a lot of outfit ideas already!
  4. Get inspiration from Instagram/magazines/blogs.  So many girls out there are so genius with layering!  I have found ideas that I never ever would have thought of by screenshotting a photo I see on Instagram and finding pieces that work for that look.
  5. Buy the basics.  An idea of things that you could load your closet with to mix and match…blazers, vests (sweater, denim, button down, lace…whatever your particular style is!), button down shirts/flannels, kimonos or dusters, vintage slips, basic t shirts.  Once you get started, you won’t want to stop I promise!!

Be brave, be bold, and just go for it!  When I originally thought to try this vest and this top (both vintage), I actually didn’t think they were going to work at all.  But when I put them together, something magical happened.  They looked better together than they did apart!  Even if you think it may be wrong, just give it a try. You never know, you might make magic!  These earrings are from Southbound in Etsy and they’re amazing.  They come in all colors and I want them all!

Happy midweek all you lovely ladies!


On Letting My Husband Choose My Outfit

I’m one of those people who often has fantasies that I can control stuff.  Like my surroundings.  Like how things are going to go.  And then, I remember that I have toddlers, and that the nice family dinner we were all trying to have has ended in screaming (me),  food all over the floor (them), and general crankiness (all of us). And there went that fantasy.  I swear that social media is ESPECIALLY damaging when it comes to the whole “being in control” fantasy, because you could seriously take an amazing, perfect, and beautiful photo…but then what we don’t see is that everyone melted down two seconds later.  All we see is that bright and shiny photo and our thoughts go to that place: “why can’t I get control of my life like that girl SO CLEARLY can??”  Yep, I am guilty, guilty, guilty on this issue.

I suffer from a split personality when it comes to the issue of wanting to be in control.  I love surprises (the good kind, obviously), and I love to feel like I can just let go and let someone else take care of stuff for me.  BUT (I made it big, because on this point, I have a HUGE BUT), I ALSO have a super hard time letting go of control.  My poor husband gets the brunt of this split personality.  I mean, when he comes in and offers to clean up the kitchen after dinner, what do I say to him?  Do I jump at the opportunity to let someone help me so I can sit down for a few precious minutes?  Aw heck no.  I say: “yeah…um…okay…maybe…well…you know…why don’t I just go ahead and do it?”  What is my problem you are asking? (I know you are asking that, because honestly I ask myself that multiple times a day).  I LIKE TO DO THINGS MY OWN WAY.  Because if I let someone help me, things might not get done quite the way I like them to get done.  And that’s a hard thing to let go of for me, and quite frankly I think there’s a lot of others out there who suffer from this control disorder.

I learned a lot about control the hard way over the past years.  I mean, I worked hard, I didn’t get into debt, I was kind to people, and really felt like I did everything as right as I knew how to do.  And things still fell apart.  I think it’s interesting when I hear younger people say things like: “he worked really hard, so he deserves to receive _______ (fill in the blank with some reward)”.  I don’t disagree with that statement at all.  Of course, hard work deserves reward.  However, I learned in a painful way that the reward doesn’t always come right away, and sometimes it seems like all the illusions of taking control of your life in the world can often lead to the opposite of what you intended or even what you thought you “deserved”.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am still more of an idealist than I am a realist, even given what I’ve gone through.  I am not going to sit here and say “sometimes you work hard and get nothing, life is crap”…NO, on the contrary.  What I’m saying, is that sometimes the reward doesn’t come immediately, in the form you thought it would, or in the time frame you thought you “needed it”.  I really did need that reward.  I mean, like if I told you the circumstances, you would fully agree with me that I truly NEEDED things to be what I worked for them so hard to be.  Instead, for a couple of years I lived in a state of fear, panic, and need.  It hurt.  It felt like it killed me, because it did kill part of me.  And it turns out I actually kind of NEEDED that to happen.  The reward is still out there, for sure, but I have learned though that no matter how hard I try, I don’t control the outcome of much of anything.  Except for cleaning that dang kitchen.  Haha.

I love this outfit.  And you know what?  I didn’t pick it.  My sweet, amazing, thoughtful husband bought this dress and vest for me, styled with the help of Stephanie at Ruby Rose.  And he did an awesome job if you ask me!  It’s proof that letting go sometimes yields amazing results!

The tunic dress/top and denim vest is from Ruby Rose, the necklace is from Bauble Bar, but since it’s sold out, you can get one just like it here. The bells are from Show Me Your Mumu.

My husband did an incredible job on picking this outfit and also on cleaning the kitchen last night.  I guess I don’t have to always do everything myself :)



On Nightgowns as Dresses and Feeling Like a High Schooler

I was home schooled when home schooling wasn’t the cool thing to do.  There was no super adorable school room set up filled with maps and pinterest-ed crafts.  It was just me, by myself, at a table, doing school work.  No one home schooled at that time, unless they had hair that had never been cut and wore long denim dresses and outfits that looked like they came from Little House on the Prairie…and not in a good way.  It was the land of the socially awkward, the fashion-challenged, and the hyper religious, to say the least.  But I survived, and made it to high school somehow…but I sure didn’t make it out with any fashion sense.  That’s for sure.

My freshman year at my tiny high school was one of my favorite years ever.  It was such a strange and amazing time for me.  I had literally never been out of my house by myself for longer than an hour or two…and then suddenly I was at school all day long, five days a week.  And I LOVED IT.  I was probably the most excited kid on the planet to go to school every day.  Weekends were lame.  And summer??  Who the heck needed summer when we could go to SCHOOL!  I think I had a crush on every single boy for the first few months, because, well, they were THERE.  I was a freshman version of Leslie Knope.  All my school projects were ridiculously overdone.  They were all pages longer than they needed to be, were done in usually three dimensions, and of course ALWAYS included glitter.  My school lunches were always made with gusto by a mother of an only child who was used to having her kid at home all day.  People flocked to see what was in this magical box that was roughly the size of my head and weighed about as much as a small bowling ball.  But all this to be said, my clothes…well, they were an issue.

Since it was the first year I actually was GOING to school, I got to do some real back to school shopping.  Real or not, I still was definitely not going to win any “best dressed” competitions.  Like anywhere, ever.  My jeans were all ill fitting high waters (I was pretty tall, and cheapo jeans were not as decent as they are now), and basically the high school equivalent of “mom jeans”.  I had a couple of body suits.  (I’m trying not to gag while I type that sentence).  I got them because they were at Ross, so that must mean they’re cool right?!  For someone who typically only got to shop at not fun thrift stores, Ross was like Nordstrom.  I had a bad hair cut and had no idea how to use a blow drier, curling iron, flat iron, or even REGULAR iron for that matter.  But who has time to iron anyway?  My glasses were giant and turquoise.  I had blue converse shoes I wore all the time.  Lest you’re starting to think: “well hey, at least your shoes were cool right?” let me stop you there.  They had TWEETY BIRD ON THEM.  Do you have an accurate picture of this thirteen year old?  Man I do, and I hid them all so that no one could ever find them.

This is what I think is funny.  No matter how much my fashion sense has changed and even I have changed, there are times when I still feel exactly like that ninth grader with the tweety bird shoes on…the one who overheard the boy she liked say that he would “NEVER EVER like HER.”  (He totally did the next year btw.  Not that it’s relevant, but I’d just like to point that out.)

A week ago I went to get some boots for my husband for Christmas.  I went to the place downtown that sells the brand he wanted.  It’s this kind of rockabilly barbershop place that sells cool cool clothes and hipster hair products for men.  And I am telling you, the minute I walked in, I instantly found myself uncomfortably shifting in my (non tweety bird) shoes and totally felt exactly like that super dorky girl I used to be.  I mean, I may have well had my giant turquoise glasses on for how not awesome I felt.  Then I caught a glimpse of my outfit, and was like “hey…you’re kind of cool sometimes!  Stop being lame about this and get some confidence!”  I’d like to tell you that my inner ninth grader listened, but I’m pretty sure she just pushed her glasses up on her nose and was like, “uh, yeah, have you seen my super fun tweety bird shoes?”

I think it is hilarious how hard it is to really leave high school sometimes.  It’s like we form this inner opinion of ourselves at that point in time…because it was such a pivotal time in our lives.  There are those girls you meet who you can tell were like MAD cool in high school…because they still have that aura about them.  Then there’s the girls who were super overweight in high school but are skinny and in great shape now…and yet they still think of themselves on some level as “fat” because that’s what everyone labelled them unfairly as.  For me, I think it’s just that shy, unconfident girl who really didn’t know what the heck she was doing that really stuck with me.  I often struggle with confidence.  Sometimes I’ll be talking to another girl and I’ll get this momentary thought of: “why is she talking to ME…she’s COOL!”  And then I realize that she can’t actually see my tweety bird shoes.  I can sure still see them though!!

I got this dress, which probably used to be someone’s nightgown, at Fred and Betty’s a few weeks ago.  It was one of those dresses that I knew was kind of shapeless and an iffy color, but I just loved how flowy it was.  I instantly saw it with this fringe vest from Ruby Rose and this squash blossom from Classic Rock Couture.  I tied a knot in it to give it a tiny bit of shape…and bam.  Instant kind of shapeless Free People inspired vibes.  It may just be an old shapeless nightgown, but I see it as much more than that.  And that’s what’s so awesome about this whole thing.  We may see ourselves as our former not as cool selves…but other people see us as so much more.  And we can totally change the way we see ourselves too.  It might be harder than just adding a vest and tying a knot in it, but hey, it can still be done. :)


Winter Whites and When People Just Don’t Get You

Have you ever had someone in your life who just didn’t like you?  Like no matter how nice you are to them, no matter how hard you try, it just gets worse?  Yep.  I’ve been there.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and I saw this girl who I knew a long time ago.  We were friendly and had a friend in common so we spent a limited amount of time around each other, but I could just always feel that little barbed wire around her when we were together.  She was like as sweet as pie and sweeter to me…but you know when there’s poison in that pie because you can taste it!  I could tell she was a highly competitive person and so I just kind of kept as much space as possible between us, but she finally attacked my relationship with my now husband and after that I just gently walked away and tried my hardest to literally never be around her.

This isn’t the only time this has happened.  There’s another girl who I used to know who has decided she hates me.  I worked my butt off on this one, you guys. I invited her on day trips with other friends, I hugged her and apologized for anything I had done to hurt her…and after all that one of our mutual friends told me that she had had it with me.  Oh my gosh do you know how ANNOYING THAT WAS???  And yet, at the same time it was kind of freeing.  I was like…wait a minute…the more I try, the more she hates me.  So I don’t have to try anymore with her!  I can take a deep breath, and just wave and smile when I see her and not even worry about it!

When I was interning at the local news station in college (it was a requirement to do an internship for my major), I thought it was going to be a blast.  I mean, I knew it would be work, but I like that kind of work so I was pretty excited about logging hours at a television station I grew up watching.  Yeah it wasn’t fun.  Like, AT ALL.  You want to know why?  The editors.  So I’d come in, and sit in the large room with all the desks and computers and I’d ask the editors what they needed done and I’d do it.  Free labor.  They should have been ecstatic.  Let me paint a more ACCURATE picture of what went on.  I’d come in, all happy and friendly (because I am a decently happy and peppy person) and all the editors would be sitting in a group around their computers.  Frowny grumpy faces on.  Bitching and moaning about how lame the news was around here. “Why doesn’t anyone get murdered around here?” Okay, not an exact quote, BUT I did catch a reporter staring at a newsfeed of a massive fire down in Los Angeles saying wistfully: “that would NEVER happen here…”  And I just looked at him and said: “UM, THANK GOD!”  And he was like “oh…yeah yeah of course.”  Are you catching my drift?  Anyway, back to the newsroom.  I’d come in and say hi and they’d be like: “meh” (or however hipster cool kids say hi) and then they’d be like “whatever here’s some stuff to do.”  There were a few other interns who bitched and moaned as easily as breathing, and they fit in like a glove.  I, however was trying to do my job, keep a low profile, and not bother anyone, seeing as I was never going to fit in to that crowd.  And then, I got the truth about how they felt about me.  One day the station manager was obviously trying to get a read on the interns and how we were all doing since he wasn’t ever around us, but he was for sure in charge of our grades.  So he called one of the editors on the phone.  This girl, of all the editors, really was the worst.  She was the angriest, unhappiest, and the one who I knew hated me the most.  She sat right behind me, and I basically just tried to breathe as quietly as possible all day long so as to not annoy her further…because my very existence was pretty much the worst to her. So she picked up the phone and I could hear her talking about the interns.  Then she got to me.  She mentioned me by name, and then went on and on about how annoying and incompetent I was because I would ask her for work everyday.  Um, hello, I’m was INTERN and that is how I GOT work!  And then she proceeded to rag on me while I was INCHES FROM HER HEAD.  At this point, okay I was a bit worried about my grade for sure, but I actually was so baffled by this whole thing that I couldn’t even be upset.  I kind of thought it was hilarious that she was bagging on me about 14 inches away from my ears.  Did she think I was deaf?  Did she think I wouldn’t hear her?  It was so incredibly ridiculous that I couldn’t really even be mad about it.  I just let it go being as I wasn’t going to ever see her again after stopping my internship…and she sure as heck didn’t like it when I was nice to her, so I really had no course of action to take.

I got a B in the internship.  Sure, I deserved an A.  The reporters loved me, all my stories made it on the news, and I rocked that joint (okay except for the police scanner…I honestly could never understand a THING they were saying over that muddy radio signal)…but I learned a lesson.  Sometimes you can do everything right and really deserve an A+ in life.  But that’s not what they really wanted, so you get a B instead.  Sometimes you gotta figure out who you’re really working for and want to please.  I’ve been in plenty of situations where the way to get ahead is to have a rotten attitude, treat people below you like garbage, and suck up to the boss.  That’ll get you an A+ with the management.  But who the HECK cares because I am not going to compromise who I am and how I treat people just to get an A or a promotion or recognition.  I’m going to do my very own A+ work, treat people with love, and then if people don’t love me back for it, at least I know I did what I could.  And hey, for the most part people love it when you’re kind to them, so most of the time being friendly and nice happens to be the way to get ahead!

I love white.  Even in the winter.  Nothing sounds purer than “winter whites” does it?  My full name means purity, and it’s one of those qualities that my parents passed down to me that I’ve always thought was important to try and preserve in myself.  I don’t mean “perfection” I mean the innocence and purity of truly caring for people and for what’s important in life.  So for today, pure winter whites.

I got this massively amazing vintage lace gown at Ruby Rose in SLO and I just love it.  It feels like a fairy princess gown.  I added the white fur vest from H&M last season (but these are everywhere right now…particularly Target!) to keep with the white theme and to give it a winter feel.  I feel like in the spring I will style this dress completely differently and it will be just as magical.  I took a headband that I hardly ever wear and tied it as a choker because I actually like it way better like that!  Hot tip!  Tie on headbands can ALSO double as chokers!!  Y tall grey Frye boots keep the look nice and neutral and wintery.

Hope all of you are having an amazing Monday and feeling loved and valued!


Honesty & Dressing Up Like I’m Cool

Do you ever find yourself thinking that you’re like extra special in your abilities to not keep your house clean?  Like every other woman/mom out there has this amazing ability to eat donuts and stay thin, be calm with her children, do crafts all day, and generally be freaking awesome while you are working your butt off only to feel like your kids watch way too much tv and you could still stand to be thinner?  I am describing to you the story of my life.

And it’s only gotten worse you guys, because of the magic of social media.  As far as I know, I am literally the only mom who doesn’t do educational Pinterest crafts with her kids all the time, have a photo ready home at any given point in the day, and spend every night out on the town with my husband.  What the **** people?!?!  Sometimes all it takes is looking at one photo of this “perfection” that is not mine, and I have a complete meltdown because I feel like such a mega failure.  And here’s the funny part.  I’m pretty sure that’s how we all feel.  I’m almost one hundred percent sure that behind every perfect photo is another normal woman/mother who feels just as inadequate as the rest of us and wishes she could be better.

At church last Sunday, a woman I know who has some older children than I do was talking about how she’s been trying to be really honest with her children now that they are getting a little older about some of her struggles that she’s been though.  She mentioned some pretty deep stuff that, to be honest, most women don’t really feel comfortable sharing.  While she was talking to me, I started thinking about some of the feelings and struggles that I went through while we were going through the “three year darkness” as I’ve labelled it.  To be perfectly honest, I struggled with stuff I may have judged people for before experiencing it first hand.  Hearing her speak so unashamedly and honestly with me just gave me this moment of freedom…if she’s not ashamed of her struggles, I don’t need to be either.  But you know what it was that made me feel like that?  Her honesty.  I think there’s often a lack of honesty between women and mothers because we are all so much wanting to be the best wife and mother we can be, and yet we feel so far from it that we don’t want to admit that we are normal.  And by normal, I mean imperfect and sometimes struggling.

I remember watching Sex and The City 2 (yes, I can find gold in even crazy cheesy movies like that one!) and there was this scene where two of the girls (the two moms) were talking.  One of them openly admitted to having a super hard time when she went back to work after having her son…and began speaking about her struggles being a working mother.  The other, who clearly thought the working mom was super mom…broke down weeping and said: “why don’t we TALK about this stuff???”  I cry every time I think about it.  Because it’s true.  Having honesty around you creates such a different environment for you…for your health as a human being…and for your soul.  I’ve been in places where I had to frame everything I said, liked, and did in a way that looked like it “was supposed to”.  I hid the times I was sad and feeling discouraged about life.  I hid the hurts that I had been carrying around for so long.  Then when we went through a bunch of loss and pain…I couldn’t hide it any longer and I was forced to seek out other honest people.  It saved my life and my sanity.  And I never want to go back to a place (I’m speaking more figuratively than literally here) where I can’t just cry when I’m sad and laugh when I’m happy.

I had fun taking these pictures because I felt like I was “pretending to be cool” but having way too much fun doing it.  I’m so not a model, nor do I aspire to be one.  I just like taking pictures of fun outfits, and this one is FUN.  Let’s start at the bottom shall we?  These orange suede booties from Urban Outfitters are SO 1970’s it’s not even funny.  They make every outfit more fun, and one step closer to a costume, which, let’s face it, is totally my jam.  The pants are lace cropped flares I got at Curio.  I’m not sure if they’re SUPPOSED to be cropped because so many pants are just high waters on me anyway, but hey, they work as though they are intended to be so.  Perfect to show off these funky shoes.  Plain black flowy tank…old old old Michael Stars.  This vest is so much fun…vintage from Curio.  The giant gold arrowhead looking necklace is Free To Wander and the gold tassel is vintage.  Free People sunglasses all the way.  These make me feel like the Beatles.  And a little like a beetle…

Happy Tuesday!