oxford

I transitioned from a 90% heels shoe collection to “mostly flats” about 4 years ago.  Ever since, I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of dress oxfords.   I wanted something with a pointed toe, but also super comfortable.  It’s an elusive combo.

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This is the pair I found via Farfetch, approx. 65% off.

I’ve kept my eyes open, though, and found these oxfords at a steep discount during a post-holiday sale.  I obsessed over a pair of Marsell sandals a couple of years ago.  It was bad – I saved 3 or 4 links and checked them on a regular basis, waiting for the shoes to go on sale.  The sandals were eventually marked down by 50%, but none were available in my (estimated) size.

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I tried and failed to track down a pair of these in my size.  Maybe Marsell will make a similar pair in 2018.

During this period I did a ton of research on the brand, and all sources said they run big.  Some reviewers recommended going down an entire size.  (There are no retailers in my city who carry Marsell, so I had to rely on reviews and retailers’ notes.)

The oxfords are patent, with a rubbed finish at the toe.  I like how they already looked worn in and loved before I ever tried them on.  I typically wear a US7, 37-37.5 in IT or FR sizes.  According to my previous research, I should be looking for a 36.5.  Of course, that size was not available.  There was a 37, though, and I was so excited by the prospect of finding the Perfect Oxford – I was willing to take a chance.  I promised myself, if they aren’t a perfect fit, I would return them immediately.  (I have a history of keeping clothes and shoes that aren’t exactly what I was looking for, to avoid the hassle of returns.  Stupid, stupid!)

Long story short, the 37s arrived, I tried them on and they felt amazing.  My toes rest where the pointed toe narrows, kind of where a square toed shoe would end.  So, there’s roughly an inch of “point” ahead of my foot.  I’m not sure if that’s the intended fit?  It definitely slims the profile of my foot (which is a silly thing to notice, I know).  Despite that extra room, the shoe itself is a nice snug fit in the foot and ankle, so there is no slippage.  I found the shoes very comfortable.  I like the snug fit, and the thick sole is supportive but has some give so my stride felt very natural walking around the house.  HOWEVER, in a rare display of self-awareness, I worried that I might be willing the shoes to fit.  I’ve been looking for so long; I wondered if my judgment may be clouded by excitement?  I set them aside in a box and decided to come back to them in a week (I had 10 days to initiate a return).

I tried the shoes again last weekend and they felt so good, like a favorite broken-in pair.  I tried them on in bare feet, with tights, and again with thin trouser socks.  Fit, fit, fit!  I got up the nerve to cut the security tag, and they were officially mine.

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Saturday: 4th day in a row wearing the oxfords!  (And it’s warm enough to go sockless – DOUBLE WIN).

Against all good judgment, I decided to wear the oxfords to my conference this past week.  I was on my feet for 10+ hours three days in a row, and most of Friday.  It was foolish for me to test new shoes like this.  I lucked out.  The oxfords are keepers (I guess they kind of have to be, now).  Each day, all day: they were both supportive and comfortable, even after so much standing/walking around.  I have another week-long conference at the end of the month and I’ll definitely wear them for that event, too.

The soles look really sturdy so I’m hopeful these will last a few years before they need any repairs.  I’m genuinely excited to have found such beautiful shoes that fit.  They look good with casual jeans, but I’m most excited to have a “dressy” flat I can pair with dresses and skirts year-round.

The Marsell oxfords are off to a promising start.  The brand is expensive, but looking around on Farfetch and Yoox I’ve found a lot of 50-70% off deals… it’s just hit or miss on sizes.  And, once shoes are heavily discounted, you have to be careful about whether or not the retailer will accept returns or consider the transaction a Final Sale.  After some pretty terrible consignment results in 2017, I am determined not to waste money “trying” shoes this year.  Shoes are worse than cars for depreciation.

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work week

This week was the first of two large conferences I’ve organized for work.  Each event has around 200 guests, and it’s been more stressful than normal this year.  I used to volunteer for this task because I was able to charge the banquet meals, deposits, etc. on my corporate AMEX and collect the points.  (I wasn’t being sneaky; it’s a benefit my company offers – so long as you pay the annual membership fee on your own, employees can keep all of the AMEX points accrued for business expenses).  Now it all gets charged to a general account, so there’s no “bonus” for my work.  And, being so heavily involved in the conference, I have to turn down other projects for which I could earn a travel bonus.  Even worse, all the work I do now is basically wasted because, fair or not, work completed in January is rarely remembered or valued when year-end salary reviews take place in December.  I should have known better!

This week’s event was truncated due to the holiday, so I spent most of Tuesday running back and forth between the venue and various office locations in the city.  I was dragging around banners and signage, then transporting welcome gifts and other necessities for the week (thank goodness I didn’t have to assemble the welcome bags – but I did need to spot check them to make sure all of the guests receive the appropriate gifts).

I was at the hotel and in professional mode all day Weds – Fri.  It’s about 40 minutes from my house and while I had the option to stay there for the week… I knew I would benefit from the down time on my own to recharge each day.  I found the commute time, alone in my car listening to music or podcasts, VERY relaxing.  And VERY necessary.

(Weird yellow lighting in my outfit photos due to artificial light.  Every day this week, it’s been dark outside when I left and dark outside when I got home.)

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Sweater: Elizabeth Suzann, Boots: Sorel

TUESDAY – Manual labor.  Very few people attending the event this week know me by sight, so I was comfortable running around the hotel in jeans and snow boots.  The big pocket came in handy!  Thank goodness I did not have to dress professionally.  I must have made 50 trips back and forth to the parking lot to pick up deliveries.  (It snowed on Monday and Kansas City schools were closed Tuesday due to sub zero temperatures all day – thus, snow boots were needed for traipsing around outside).

I did have to work pretty late; a few guests from Houston had a seriously delayed flight and our shuttle service couldn’t accommodate the change.  We have a (probably good!) company policy about not forcing people to take Uber or Lyft, so I ended up driving to the airport and picking them up myself.  It was just easier that way.  I was ragged by the time I got home, close to 11 p.m.

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Dress: Elizabeth Suzann, Cardigan: Acne Studios, Oxfords: Marsell (new!  I plan to write a review this weekend…)

WEDNESDAY – Blending in.  I wanted to look professional, but be largely invisible. Mostly I stood around/sat in the hotel atrium waiting to put out fires during the main conference sessions.  Nothing serious to deal with, thank goodness.  I’m actually thankful for the ice storm in Houston because at least 10 people had to cancel, and we were cutting it pretty close on the breakfast and lunch meal service.  I can’t be sure, but I think some interlopers from another conference were helping themselves to our food!!

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Top: Jamie + the Jones, Skirt: Leith

THURSDAY – Same.  Blending in with the hotel mgmt staff.  Barring any actual conference-related problems, I didn’t want to get sucked in to conversations with anyone from work.    I was so over this event, completely worn out… exhausted past the point where I could feign enthusiasm.  Better to avoid any work-related chatter.  My biggest challenge was coordinating travel for off-site “team builders.”  Gently reminding C-suite types to get on the bus NOW.

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Sweater + pants: Elizabeth Suzann

FRIDAY – Thursday night I got home at at 6 and took a nap.  All in, between the nap and normal overnight sleep, I got in 7 hours so I’m feeling much better and actually in a good mood.  It’s finally the last day of the conference!  The event wrapped up around 1 p.m. so most guests could catch a flight home before the weekend.  Only a few people needed help to coordinate alternative accommodations due to flight delays/cancellations.  I picked up Indian carryout, a bottle of wine, and am looking forward to a movie night at home.  Already in my PJs while I nosh on pakora and daal.

2017 best buys; 2018 strategy

I’ve been thinking quite a bit these first couple weeks of 2018: how can I improve my shopping habits this year?

I’m not going to design a plan for myself in terms of dollars to spend, or maximum number of garments to buy, or any particular items that are totally off-limits.  That’s an ineffective strategy because I don’t like feeling bound to a set of arbitrary (or, even, not arbitrary) rules.

So, I reflected on all of the things I bought in 2017.  I have a long-term goal to develop a wardrobe of frequently-worn, well-made and ethically-made garments.  However, I can’t get too hung up on the # of times I’ve worn something purchased in 2017, or the current cost-per-wear.  It’s just too early to judge successful choices based on that criteria.

I took a careful look at all of the garments I bought in 2017 and tried to remember how I felt about the purchase in real time, vs. how I feel about the item today.

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Worst, worst, worst buy of 2017.  My cut of the consignment was around 20% of what I paid for these stupid shoes.

I used the Stylebook app to remind myself of all the things I bought in 2017 that have already been shipped off for consignment.  There were 8 clothing items and 3 pairs of shoes.  These are the mistakes I want to avoid in 2018.

Here’s what most of the almost-immediately-consigned items have in common:

  • I remember thinking about most of them: “This doesn’t really look like ‘me’, but I like how it looks on the model/mannequin and I think I can pull it off.  You never know unless you try.  I can always consign it later.”
  • I remember deciding on some of them: “This is not exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s close, and it’s on sale.”

I also thought about what I bought in 2017 that’s already in heavy rotation and makes me happy to wear.  By coincidence, my outfit today has two of my favorite purchases from 2017: an oversized Acne sweater (bought second-hand from The Real Real) and slim boyfriend jeans from Citizens of Humanity.  I remember when I bought each item, I was excited because I could envision a number of places/occasions where I wanted to wear them right away.

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Casual at home – Sweater: Acne Studios, Denim: Citizens of Humanity

 

Apart from known successes and failures, I also want to consider my two-year career plan when I think about shaping my wardrobe.  I’m in the beginning stages of networking and research in order to transition out of my current job, with its unpredictable and sometimes demanding schedule, to a more traditional 9-5 role.  In my company, unless I step down to a job with considerably less responsibility, this means an office-based position.  Our office environment skews casual, but not quite as casual as my work-from-home wardrobe.  So with every new purchase, I want to think about (a) whether it can somehow work for the office and, if not (b) whether there is a legitimate need for more “weekend only” clothes in my closet.

Guidelines for shopping in 2018:

  1. If the possibility of future consignment crosses my mind, I need to walk away.
  2. Don’t settle for/buy anything “almost what I’m looking for.”  I am guaranteed to already have something at home that is “almost what I’m looking for.”
  3. Consider whether new pieces can be worn on their own, or combined with something I already own, and be appropriate for a casual office environment.

I also plan for a monthly blog post where I recap anything I’ve bought over the past 30 days, and reflect on other purchases from the year.  I hope monthly check-ins will help me take better stock at the end of the year.  And, of course, identify mistakes in real time so I can do a better job as the year progresses.

sub-zero Saturday

The evolution of my day:

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Coat: Toteme

9 a.m.  Bundled up to run errands while the sun is still shining.  The wind chill was around 5 below this morning. I was hoping to get a gluten free cinnamon roll at the bakery near my house; they offer GF pastries on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but sell out so fast!  I settled for a GF cookie with icing – totally worth getting up and dressed early on a weekend.

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Cardigan: Vince, Denim: AG

1:00 p.m. Back home and ready to relax… after I finish my list of work tasks for the day.  I spent a couple of hours double checking the rooming list for a conference I’m coordinating next week.  I’m a hyper organized person, but growing frustrated with all of the last minute change requests from a number of guests.  I’m organizing two events this month with 200+ guests each, and I swear it’s the last time I’ll ever agree to take on this scale of project so close to the holidays.

I knew it would be a time consuming and stressful project, so I scheduled a week of PTO once the second conference wraps up.  My parents are normal Midwestern elderly people; they spend the winter in FL so I’m going to visit and enjoy the beach for a week.  Three weeks to go.

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Sweatshirt: Assembly New York, Lounge pants: Eileen Fisher

4:00 p.m. Ready to zone out on the couch with mochi and hot chocolate.

I bought these linen pants to wear in summer weather.  They’re lightweight and comfortable (and they have pockets!), but they’ve stretched out and won’t shrink back down to a more flattering shape.  I transitioned them to the lounge drawer a while ago.  Today I’m wearing them over heavy tights to combat the cold.

week in review

This was my first full week working from home in nearly a month.  I’ve grown accustomed to short holiday weeks and intermittent PTO since Thanksgiving.  With the MLKJ holiday coming up, plus hosting two week-long conferences in my home city later this month, followed by a short vacation – it will also be my last “normal week” working from home until mid-February.

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Cardigan: Acne Studios, Top: Elizabeth Suzann, Boots: Sorel

MONDAY –  It was a weird weather day, reflected in my outfit choice.  Black ice in the morning; I had to pick the dog up and carry him out in the yard until the sun came out and all of the ice was melted around noon.  (My front porch and deck both have stairs leading out to either yard – he wasn’t having it!). Crazy, oversized layers (between the top and cardigan I had THREE huge pockets) and all-weather boots.

Thankfully the sun did its job and all of the moisture evaporated before dark, when the temperature dipped below freezing again.  I had to pick my sister up at the airport around 10 p.m. and I was worried we’d be sliding around on slick roads, but it was totally fine.

Now that my sister is back, I’ll sort of miss having the dog at my house 24/7, but not during the workday.  It’s distracting.  And he’s a DOG.  I have no idea how people with actual, human children manage to work from home.

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Dress: Elizabeth Suzann, Boots: Sevilla Smith

TUESDAY – OMG it was sunny and got up to 48F by mid-afternoon!!  I took full advantage and suited up for an outdoor run.  Before that, I wore my jeans from Monday with much cuter boots.  And, my black Harper dress.  This is the fourth day in a row I’ve worn some iteration of the Harper silhouette.  I’m all about that pocket.

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Brushed denim: AG, Worn-in boots: Sevilla Smith

WEDNESDAY – DOUBLE OMG it got up to 56F on Wednesday!!  Two outdoor runs in a row.  In January.  I cannot believe my luck.  These brushed denim pants are usually reserved for spring (they’re not flimsy per se, just not as sturdy as or warm as regular denim), but I was happy to dust them off before the snow and ice storm forecast for Thursday.   I was also thrilled to go sockless for the second day in a row!!

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Sweater: Vince, Boots: so old the designer name is entirely faded from the leather and soles – I don’t remember!

THURSDAY – Aaaaaand… we’re back to normal January weather.  Thankfully I was able to escape the house and meet an old co-worker for breakfast before the freezing rain began mid-morning.  These suede boots are old and rarely worn, but I still like them very much so I feel like it would be wasteful to sell or donate them.  I wouldn’t repurchase them today, knowing how infrequently they are worn.  They’re already here, though, so I’m keeping them.

The sweater is a similar story.  It’s rarely worn, but I still really like the ombre colors.  It’s staying.  I do see the value in applying a “one year rule” to closet organization (if you haven’t worn an item in the past year, you’re probably not going to wear it, so it’s time to sell/donate), but it doesn’t feel necessary for me.  Obviously, I can get along fine without the boots and the sweater.  But, I am fortunate to have room to store a few extra tops and shoes.  If space were an issue, then I might consider capping my wardrobe at X many items and following a One In, One Out rule.  I’m not there yet.  Nor do I hope ever to be – I live alone so I have a lot of closet space.  It would be completely excessive for me to fill it up to the point where I had to start deleting items due to overcrowding.

Frankly I should admit: I do need to remind myself from time to time, when I look at my closet and see plenty of empty space, it’s not because I’ve mastered the art of self-restraint.  It’s because I’m using two or three people’s worth of closet space for one person’s clothes.

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(Stupid, stupid choice for below freezing temps.  Even if I spent most of the morning in my car.)  Top: Jamie + the Jones, Pants: Elizabeth Suzann

FRIDAY – I managed to wear my new emerald shirt on a non-holiday.  It will never be a weekly wear kind of item, but I’m glad I bought it.  I think the black pants and shoes toned it down enough to suit my taste.  I had to drive to the Real Office to sign some contracts this morning, and I often wear these Elizabeth Suzann pants for short appearances over there.  The pants are casual, but the conservative heels add a more formal/business element.  (Also I had on a wool coat the whole time, so you couldn’t see my ultra casual layered tops).  Since no clients were present, it actually didn’t matter.  I could have worn jeans and snow boots, which would have been prudent, and no one would have bat an eye.

I swapped the heels for moccasins when I got home and will probably wear them all day.   The heels aren’t uncomfortable, but moccasins always win that battle.  Especially at home.

documentation

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(Inspired by Xin’s recent post.)

I never jumped on the PDA bandwagon.  Today, while I use the calendar on my phone for alarms – that’s about it.  I will accept and publicly display meetings and other work-related invites in my Outlook account, but that’s just so interested colleagues can see what I’m presumably up to.

For my own personal reference, I rely on a handwritten agenda/planner to set appointments.  I carry it with me ALWAYS.  I know myself; I can’t be trusted to not delete (or inadvertently modify) electronic appointments.  If my phone battery dies, what will I do?  If I get locked out because I’ve misspelled my password 8 times, then what?  It comforts me, having a paper agenda.  I’m also a visual learner, so the act of physically writing down appointments helps me to remember them in the future.

SIDE NOTE: When I was in college and grad school, I filled stacks and stacks (probably hundreds) of notebooks with lecture notes and observations on assigned reading.  I always carried around pens and highlighters.  I had a great system going.  I rarely looked back at the notes after they were written down.  For me, spending the time writing everything by hand formed a memory I could rely on for exams.  Only if I needed guidance toward a specific reference when writing a paper, for example, might I consult one of my notebooks.  Naturally I also had a robust filing system in place so I could locate those reference points quickly.  If I inherited a huge sum of money I would go back to school and study for a Masters in Library Science.  It’s something I really wanted to do way back when, but couldn’t justify spending another $30K on another graduate degree specific to a field with such grim employment prospects.  But if money were no issue, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  

I use a Midori Traveler’s Notebook (standard size) as my planner.  Midori is really the best.  It’s a one time, up front investment in the leather agenda cover, plus any accessories you might want.  I have: numbered tabs for the months of the year, a pen holder, a small zippered pouch to carry emergency cash and my work ID, and – finally – a folder to carry receipts.  For the actual planning, I buy notebook inserts that rest inside the leather cover (held in place by stretchy bands).

midori

1) Midori Traveler’s Notebook, bound    2) Monthly calendar layout    3) Page clips to separate months in the weekly layout    4) Unlined journal – I use mine for lists    5) Brand new weekly layout calendar I just customized

I have three notebooks in my Midori: the first is a monthly calendar view.  This is where I track bills and other personal items (milestones like birthdays and anniversaries, vacation planning,  weekend or evening events like concerts, etc.).  The second book is a more detailed weekly calendar.  This is where I manage all of my work tasks, including meetings, calls and other appointments.  I also use this to document any personal appointments that occur during my normal work hours, so I can balance those priorities.  The last book is an unlined journal.  I keep a number of lists in the journal – books I want to read, movies I want to watch, projects for the house, etc.  I also use the blank journal to track online orders – confirmation numbers, when received, whether kept/returned, etc.  I like to stay organized.

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Even with some color coding, this bullet journal example still looks clean and professional to me.

Many people use Midori products for bullet journaling.  I do make bullet point lists within my weekly calendar, but relying solely on the bullet journal method just wouldn’t work for me.  I really understand the appeal, though.

I’m down to just three weeks in my current weekly calendar, and I spent about an hour today prepping my next weekly agenda.  The weekly notebook has 6-7 months’ worth of printed weekly outlines.  Midori products are all blank; it’s their best feature in my opinion.  The user writes in the dates for each calendar, so you aren’t bound by a January 1 start date.  I started using Midori calendars in the summer of 2014, for example.  Anyone could start a new Midori calendar tomorrow, and there would be no wasted days/weeks/months.

I love the clean, streamlined look of Midori calendars.  And the fact that the notebooks are very plain.  I feel claustrophobic when I see a “scrapbook style” planner.

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NONONONONO!!!!!

Erin Condren products terrify me.  I just don’t get it.  And on a practical note, who other than a college student or perhaps an elementary school teacher could actually carry a colorful, stickered-up planner to their place of business?  I can take my Midori out of my laptop bag, review my schedule, etc. in front of colleagues without fear of ridicule.  Not that I want one, but I would be quickly eviscerated if I showed up to a corporate meeting with an Emily Ley planner, or the like.  There’s no washi tape in business.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a clever notepad or cube of post-its, but everything in its proper place.

 

sequel

As is frequently the case, I wore the same sweater both days this weekend.

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Sweater: Elizabeth Suzann, Denim: 6397

I haven’t left the house today and don’t plan to (freezing rain!), so I didn’t even bother with shoes.   It’s really dreary, no sun – I’ve had the lights on indoors since I woke up this morning.

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Wrap: White + Warren

I knew there was a high probability of icy road conditions today, so I ran all of my errands yesterday.  It was slightly below freezing but sunny, and I didn’t feel like wearing a coat.  I brought it along in the car, of course, but I used this travel wrap for warmth while I was out and about.  It was plenty warm, actually.  I wore gloves as well, and with my neck covered, my nose was about the only part of my body that felt cold.

*****

Thanks to Michelle for recommending Barre3 streaming workouts.  I tried three this weekend and I think they’ll be a good fit to substitute a few times/week for my regular yoga sessions at home.  The subscription cost is reasonable, and I already have the equipment I need (yoga mat, squishy ball, resistance bands, chair).  Initially I was disappointed Barre3 doesn’t have an app for AppleTV or my smart TV, but I used Airplay and was able to watch the instructors on a television screen vs. my tiny iPad or MacBook screen.  If I get really in to it, I might invest in a proper barre – but that would be months down the road.  The sample workouts were only 30 minutes each, so they went by very quickly.  I found the short repetitive movements left me sore, almost immediately.   I’m curious to see how much more intense the regular workouts are… and if the workouts can maintain my interest for longer than 30 minutes.

shocking

Back to normal at work this week, following the holiday.  Everyone has returned from varying lengths of PTO (or just the company holiday), and with all of us back to our normal roles, I feel relaxed despite having a higher than normal volume of work.  At least it’s my own work, and I can handle it how I please.

It’s been another week of historically cold weather.  Kansas City winters are fairly mild (especially compared to growing up in Minnesota).  January and February are the coldest months, with daytime temps typically in the high 20s or low 30s.  So… the temperature hovers right around freezing most of the time.  We get a lot of ice, which is problematic for driving, but that’s the worst of it.  Starting around Christmas 2017, though, our weather has consistently been in the single digits on sunny days and sub-zero (F) overnight.  No “bomb cyclone” of snow here – but still, I don’t like it.  My skin is so dry, and the low humidity indoors fosters a lot of static electricity, which means I am constantly shocking myself when I touch a door knob or any other metal object. Or if I drag my feet across carpet.  Or anytime I pull a sweater off/on.  Sometimes when I wash my hands, that first contact with water triggers a spark!

I have my “nephew” at the house this week (my sister’s dog), and the static electricity is so bad, we get a little shock every time I reach down to pet him.  It’s cute but kind of sad; I can see the internal debate in his mind when he is deciding whether or not to approach me for attention.  Then he winces, slightly, when I reach for him.  (I guess, I wince too.  So maybe he is just mirroring my own anxiety).

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Cardigan: Vince

FRI – This morning, I resisted the urge to stay in loungewear all day.  (I don’t work efficiently unless I get dressed in street clothes.)  The cardigan is kind of like a blanket, though.  So, lounge-ish.

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Sweater: White + Warren, Coat: Carven

THURS – The designer calls this sweater a “stand neck.”  The neck doesn’t fold over, so I guess they have a point, but in my mind it’s still a turtleneck.  I don’t find turtlenecks confining at all, but I know some people feel claustrophobic wearing them.  I like the otherwise boxy shape of this sweater.  It leaves plenty of room for a long-sleeved tee layered underneath, which I needed to stay warm yesterday.

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Sweater: Equipment, Denim: Citizens of Humanity

WEDS – Jeans with holes, socks with stars.  This is obviously a work-from-home outfit.  I was inspired by my nephew’s collar and wore a green scarf when I left to run errands.

2018

WARNING: long; possibly/probably banal

First outfit photo of 2018: I could have used another day or two away from work to recover from the holidays, but I tricked myself in to productivity by wearing a button down.

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Blouse: Equipment, Sweater: Elizabeth Suzann

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Still wore comfortable jeans, though.

I realize it’s a cliche position to espouse, but I truly don’t find value in resolutions at the New Year.  For all the same reasons everyone else says “I don’t believe in resolutions.”

BUT, I have always been excited by opportunities to reset.  When I was a kid, it was the start of a new school year.  Or a few times when my family moved, and I was able to start from scratch at a totally new school with people I’d never met before.  As a child, I enjoyed reinventing myself.  (I think most of us do that, trying on different personalities/peer groups/style statements in our teens and early twenties).

As an adult, I find it exciting to start a new project at work.  I’ve been in the same job for a decade, but every 2nd or 3rd year I will trade major responsibilities and direct reports with a peer.  In some ways, it’s like starting over from square one.  2018 is one of those “reset” years for me and I’m really looking forward to working with a new group of people, focusing on a different area of the country (my projects for the past few years have been largely focused on TX and the Desert Southwest, but I’ll be spending more time working on the East Coast this year), and establishing a personal development plan to transition to a new job with my company during or before 2020.

Of course, other aspects of life seem to reset around January as well.  I usually have to rethink my fitness plan around the first of the year; at this point I’ve been jogging on a treadmill daily for about a month and I find myself dreading the chore every day.  It’s hard to describe, but I’m so mentally checked out on the treadmill this time of year I don’t think my body benefits from the movement.  So – even though it’s the worst time of the year to do it, for the sake of variety I usually venture out and try new public fitness classes in January and February.

Side note: I am fortunate to have space in my basement for a home gym but there is no happier day in the year for me than the first afternoon when temps rise about 40F (usually late February, early March) and I can start jogging outside again!!  

I also reevaluate my financial plan at the start of the year.  How much to siphon off to retirement accounts?  To saving accounts?  What, if any, short term saving goals do I have the for year?  What are my maintenance needs for the house and the car?  What are my wants – renovation, furniture, vacations, etc?  My company does raises in January, and I also do my tax return the moment I get my W2s, so I can get a better picture of where I’m at and what I need to do to hit my financial goals for the year.  Even if I have failed to meet the previous year’s goal (and to be honest, that happens at least a third of the time), I feel renewed energy at the start of the year when I set a new plan in motion.

And, of course, all of this spills over to my consumer behavior and style/wardrobe goals for the year.  How much to spend/restrict?  What kind of clothes to buy/sell/donate?  I have some guiding principles in mind.  Mainly, I plan to either transition out of my current job or take a year-long+ fellowship (within my company) at or around 2020.  I want to severely limit my work travel that year, so I can spend weekends volunteering for national and state level election campaigns.  I wrote checks in 2016, but I feel a deep sense of regret at not having spent actual time on the ground in my community.  It’s something I’ve done here and there in the past, time permitting, but I was on autopilot in 2016 and while I obviously understand my actions didn’t sway any of those races (no joke – every single candidate and/or ballot initiative I voted for lost in 2016) – I just can’t shake the feeling I don’t have as much a right to complain about outcomes when I exerted so little effort throughout the process.

So, this upcoming month I’m going to invest considerable thought toward financial planning for when I eventually settle in to a more traditional 40-hr/wk job (i.e., no more travel bonuses and per diem checks to squander).  AND – I may also need to be more strategic with new additions to my wardrobe, since there is a strong likelihood any new role I accept will require me to show up at the Real Office instead of working from home.

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My ballot was 7 pages long and I went 0/25 in 2016, if I recall correctly.  I even picked the “wrong” county tax auditor.  Maybe no one wants my help with their campaign, after all?

most worn/December report card

I wore these gray jeans (just purchased last month) 6 times in December.  I brought them along on my only work trip of the month, and wound up wearing them every day during the conference.. but not ALL day.  Good showing, but not the true winner.

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6397 “shorty” jeans (old photo)

These AG jeans (hemmed for flats – I also have the same pair hemmed for heels) were worn 4 times this month and each time was for the whole day.  Although my Stylebook app credits the 6397 pair with the most wears, the AG pair definitely saw the highest number of hours worn in December.

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AG “ex-boyfriend slim” jeans (old photo)

My goals for December were sort of boring.  I wanted to keep the momentum going after moderate success in previous months, but I tend to feel lazy and undisciplined every year around the holidays so in retrospect I shouldn’t have bothered.  I did avoid buying any new clothes or shoes… until December 31.  Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 6.11.43 PMI had a 10% coupon for Elizabeth Suzann and also a credit from an item returned earlier in the year, so I decided to order this dress.  I want to see exactly how much the fit of my favorite Georgia silhouette has changed with the 4th generation Signature launch, and I’m also curious to see what the new rust color looks like in real life.  (Looks kind of like a warm earth tone on my monitor).  I feel like it could add some color to my largely neutral wardrobe without going completely overboard.  If I don’t like it, I’ll return it and recycle the store credit.  I figured with the 10% discount expiring 12/31, I should at least give it a try.

Health and fitness wise, I did manage to avoid candies and sweets until Christmas Eve and it’s a good thing because I sampled everything in sight.  My injured wrist is almost back to normal but I found some hands-free yoga routines on YouTube that were helpful.  Of course, they focused exclusively on lower body muscle groups so I had to track something else down to work on my arms.  This 15 minute workout from Ballet Beautiful is WAYYYY harder than I would have imagined (find it on YouTube – search “ballet beautiful swan arms”).  I’ve saved it as a favorite and am going to try doing this weekly to see if I can eventually get through the whole thing without crying.

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Mary Helen Bowers is sort of annoying but I can deal with it for 15 minutes.

My other, completely silly goal for the month was to avoid absentmindedly watching/listening to old Law & Order reruns while I do housework.  It’s my go-to when I’m doing my Sunday house cleaning ritual, two old episodes are about the right length to finish all of my weekly chores.  I skipped watching L&O but replaced that with listening to “These Are Their Stories,” a Law and Order podcast.  It’s actually pretty funny, and comforting to know there are other people out there who consume L&O like comfort food (I know it’s terrible, but I enjoy it nonetheless).

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Now I’m steeling myself to walk half a block in sub zero temps within a few hours for a NYE party.  I think instead of working on easy short-term goals each month, in 2018 I will have one or two broad goals for the year, supplemented by smaller more specific quarterly goals.  I like choosing small things because they’re easy to accomplish, but not sure how much value they have other than getting myself in a mindframe to achieve larger goals in the future…