happy halloween

Happy Halloween, everybody!

blog rec: advanced style

For a little Friday pick-me-up, I want to recommend a blog I just stumbled across (isn't it amazing how a blog can be extremely popular, and you and no one you know has heard of it? I love that about the internet. There are so many secret pockets of awesome.) Advanced Style is a street fashion blog that features an underappreciated group of fashionistas: older people!

The ladies and gentlemen featured on Advanced Style display a wide variety of personal styles, from funky to classic. There are outfits featured that make me go "I want that!" and outfits that I could definitely see either of my grandmothers (who have very different styles!) wearing.

I think it's great to remember that the constant tirade of "new new new" that we get from the fashion industry isn't true. You can wear things past their "season," you can keep pieces in your closet that you'll be rocking years (or decades!) down the line. And when the media is busy telling you anyone over thirty (well, any woman over thirty) isn't worth squat, you can surf on over to Advanced Style and see ladies who keep rocking it into the 80s and 90s...there are even women who are still showing off their personal style at 100! Wow! Now there's a goal I can really aspire to.

I just picked a few of my favorite images through a quick perusal of Advanced Style; I heartily recommend you go and enjoy the uncoventional pretty! It's a great way to start your weekend. Have a happy/safe one!

the two kinds of shopping

Life has been a little bit up and down as of late. I finished my long-term temping assignment more abruptly than I expected to, went directly to another two-day gig (the second of which was today), and am waiting to hear if another longer term gig will be coming through. All the while sending in all the applications and resumes I can (and getting...pretty much no response. It's hard out here for a pimp recent grad!). Basically, I was feeling a little down in the dumps and in some desperate need of some retail therapy.

For me, retail therapy is as much about the experience as the actual purchasing. Plus, there's the experience both before and after: the fun of shopping, hanging out with a friend, and then getting to integrate a new piece into your wardrobe, making new outfits, and (hopefully!) getting compliments! The first half of the experience is what separates the retail therapy sort of shopping trip from targeted shopping, when you know exactly what you're looking for.

DVD Bonus Fact: You can tell which pictures I took because they're slightly blurry. Just call me Shaky Hands McGee

My retail therapy trip was, surprise surprise, with the fabulous Kaitlin Disdainbrook. We actually talked about posting this to my blog and both laughed about how all of you probably think she's my only friend. I promise she's not! She's just the only friend I have who lives close enough visit with any regularity (and even then, she lives just over an hour away!). Plus, she's awesome, so you should be jealous that I get to hang out with her and blog about it.

This trip, the tone was set when we walked into Old Navy, and I discovered brightly colored peacoats (drool!) were marked down to a mere $35! Kaitlin and I are both big fans of colorful outerwear; I support bright winterwear 200%! The season is monochromatic enough as it is, why not stand out? We each slipped one, and it was clear as we admired each other's coloriffic flair that we both needed to buy one of these coats. And from that moment on, this shopping trip had a theme: twinsies!

Dang, look at those fierce kitsches. We're obviously utilizing our ANTM know-how and smizing as hard as we can

Yes, the two of us bought matching coats, almost-matching necklaces, and corresponding hats. If we wore all of these things out together, we would look like huge nerds: perfect! Unfortunately, with me up here in Milwaukee and her down by the stateline, we have far less opportunities to rock the twin look. Still, we each loved the individual pieces, and they all worked great together. We were shopping for fun, but we didn't stop thinking about what we needed. Neither of had a shorter coat or nice ear-covering hats, and Kaitlin only owned one necklace (a time turner! What a nerd). Our purchases will serve us well, but we also had a lot of fun window shopping and trying on lots and lots of hats that looked like animals.

Coats: Old Navy
Necklaces: Francesca's Closet (I realize I didn't actually get a pic of these -- soon!)
Hats: JC Penny's

Now, the second kind of shopping is a carefully planned hunting trip. My quarry: boots. My sister got a pair of great boots last year, and this year, Kaitlin joined her in vexing me with their fabulous footwear. No longer! I would have boots of my own!

Because I knew what I was looking for would be a larger purchase and (hopefully) a big part of my wardrobe, I needed set criteria for these boots. Otherwise, I might be easily swayed by a bargain or even a pair of gorgeous boots that just weren't for me.

My boot criteria were:

  • Neutral color. Brown was preferable, but gray and black would also be considered.

  • Mid-calf to knee-high

  • Moderate heel (I wanted to be able to wear these out and about without worry)

  • Easy to get on/off

  • Wide enough to tuck my jeans into

  • Buckle detailing

  • No fur (faux or otherwise)

  • Awesome

Not an unreasonably long list by any means, but it was specific enough that I was able to stay on track, resisting adorable ankle boots and amazingly sassy numbers with sky-high stilettos. Surprisingly, the fur was always a difficult point for me; it often looks very cool when the boot is on the shelf, but I've always felt really silly wearing it, so I knew it the end it wasn't for me. I kept my eyes out whenever I shopped, and because of my list, I was usually able to take a quick walk through the aisles and leave. Either I liked it, but it just didn't match up to the requirements, or it didn't immediately catch my eye...thereby violating the awesomeness criteria.

My sister came home for a brief midterm respite from the wilds of academia this past week, and while she was here, what could be on the agenda but shoe shopping! We hit up DSW; it was my first time in the store, but it will not be the last! I had a great time prowling the boot selection (and forbade myself from even looking at the heels and flats...I was on a mission!). I tried on several pairs, but there was one I just couldn't stop thinking about:

This is Hali from Kelly & Katie (DSW's store line), and can I just say: L-O-V-E! I've worn them the past two days (to work on Monday, where I was super pleased to be complimented on my outfit by my supervisor, and out for burgers on Tuesday) and they felt equally appropriate in both settings! The heel looks a little high, but it's very stable and they're a dream to walk in. The fit is great; I wear a size 10 (I know, wowza!) and they fit me very accurately. The calf opening is quite generous--it doesn't squeeze on my calf at all (though they do stay up), and I think someone with wider calves shouldn't have too much trouble with them. I didn't get a picture, but as you can see on the website, they also come with little removable knit insert that looks like a pair of ribbed socks coming out of the top. Very cute!

And there you have it: a grand week in which I experienced both types of shopping. They were both pretty amazing, in different ways; I really enjoyed spending time with Kaitlin, giggling over hats that looked like chipmunks and roosters. My retail therapy shop was an experience, and one that definitely lifted my spirits. On the other hand, getting those boots felt like a real triumph. I've been looking for them for a long time, and I finally snagged them! I want to wear them all the tiiiime.

Do you notice that you have multiple shopping modes? Which do you prefer? Do you want to tell me how great my boots are? Because that's understandable, they're totally boss.

girls of the silver screen

A long, long time ago, my incredibly stylish little sister told me I create some outfits inspired by film genres. And it was an awesome idea. We've all been inspired by a particularly stylish character (I saw 50/50 this week, and I was struck by Bryce Dallas Howard's wardrobe. Gorgeous!), but copying a favorite fictional icon's look can feel a little costumey. There's plenty to be mined from the genre itself, allowing you to take a more subtle inspiration.

indie flick

Take inspiration from the quirky yet infinitely stylish gals of indie flicks! Plaid, bright contrasting colors, and a touch of whimsical flair with the cute backpack (What self-respecting indie kid doesn't love an owl?) It's a little hipster, a little thrifty, and guaranteed to make you feel one set of fabulous bangs away from being Zooey Deschanel.

action star

The funky indie style a little cute for you? Maybe you should draw from action movies and dress to impress (and kick ass!) Dark and stripped down is the name of the game; you have to be ready to run from an explosion or get into a car chase. But glam isn't totally out of the question! I paired this look with some tattoo-inspired jewelry to stay a little edgier.

mystery vixen

If your glamorous instincts just can't be contained, go full femme fatale! Every noir film worth its salt had a mysterious lady floating through, looking irresistible and knocking them all dead with her swaths of brilliant color and dramatic style. I thought the keyhole ring added a subtle wink to the theme of mystery. The hat could take you over a bit into costume territory, but if you have the confidence to rock it, please do! Every day, I wish that dramatic hats would come back into style outside the Kentucky Derby and the odd royal wedding.

These are just the first three I thought of, but I love the idea of dressing to a genre theme. I'd love to find a way to work fantasy (Game of Thrones, anyone?) or historical film into my wardrobe.

What movie genre are you inspired by? Do you want to be an indie darling or maybe the charmingly eccentric heroine of a romantic comedy?

the wonderful world of cooking

I love to cook, which you might know. I won't say I'm super good at it (yet!), if only because my repertoire is pretty slender as of yet, but I very seldom produce something I'm not willing to eat which is an improvement over when I started! A major reason I love cooking is that I love eating, and as a picky eater, I definitely appreciate that being the Queen of the Kitchen means I can get exactly what I want. Don't like that spice? Leave it out! Feel like eating half an onion? Throw it in the pan!

Now, I'm aware that a lot of people my age have some trepidations about the magic of the kitchen, and that just makes me awfully sad! Some people don't have the time to cook or access to ingredients, of course, and others prefer premade/processed foods (there are plenty of things that I like just fine out of a box!), but the people who say they can't cook, well...I just have a hard time believing that!

Cooking, at its most basic, consists only of the following steps:

1. Choosing ingredients
2. Combining them in a way you want to eat
3. Heat them until they're done

That's it! Now, sometimes the combining or heating process takes a little more finesse than others, but at its very root, if you can take things you want to eat, put them in one place, and heat them, you can cook. For lazy/busy people, it can be just that simple: the most common dinner by far in Ham House (my former apartment) was a "skillet." We would take whatever we wanted (for me, usually potatoes, onions, and some kind of meat, for my roomie Claire, any and all of the veggies she picked up at the farmer's market) and cook them in a frying pan with butter or olive oil until they were done. Ta-da! (Skillets are super good with egg scrambled in at the end, just saying.)

I personally find it gratifying to have control over what I eat; I know exactly what went into everything I make. Plus, it's always fun when people are impressed with what you made, especially when they expect someone your age to be living off ramen!

So I might not be quite as fabulous as Miss Dita up there in the kitchen, but it's worth a shot! (I do have a cute apron, but I always forget about it until after I'm done cooking)

fall lust: trenchcoat

To be totally honest, there are a lot of times that I sit up and go "that is what my wardrobe is missing." It can be any variety of things, because apparently my wardrobe is missing a lot, but the one thing that I constantly come back through the years? A trenchcoat.

There is something unbelievably and effortlessly chic about the classic trench. It makes me think of being the femme fatale in an old noir movie...except I'm also the private eye, vamping around the smokey streets and solving my own mysteries. A trenchcoat has been in style year after year with relatively little variation. It's truly a classic piece and one that will belong in your wardrobe for many, many years to come.

...okay, I've convinced myself. I need one! For those of you who need a little bit extra convincing:

The most classic of the trenches: a simple clean khaki that will always invoke a classic flair. Confessions: I despise khaki in all of it's forms...except for this one. I would wear it in a heartbeat.

But classic doesn't have to mean boring! Even a standard trench can have a fun detail (like the bow here, or some fabulous pleating) to make it funky and fresh for the modern gal on the go.

This Burberry trench is way outside my price range, but I love the dark, stripped down take on a trench. For those fashion fans who find more glam in the sleek and modern, going dark is super tempting.

But dark and stripped down aren't necessarily hand-in-hand! I absolutely adore the shape of this coat, and the funky steampunk accents on the back. Strap me down and buckle me in, folks, because I go nuts for useless accoutrement like this. I know that "put a buckle on it!" is basically the steampunk/goth answer to any design issue (if you don't get the reference watch this) but I don't care. They're cool! Nearly as cool as the asymmetrical hem.

Source: ebay.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

If you want a little more zing than classic khaki but dark isn't your thing, there's only one thing to do: go bright! Colorful trenchcoats are sassy and so much fun. My own winter coat is a teal trench-style woolen coat, and it's so bright in the dark, cold days. It makes me smile to wear it which is totally the magic of color!

My problem is that I can't decide! I love classic, dark, and colorful...what's a girl to do? (Until she writes a multimillion dollar bestseller and can buy all the coats she wants...)

What's your trench style? Do you like to keep it neutral and classic with khaki, get edgy with a dark color, or go full-flash with a bright color?


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