styling my new-mom-self – summer edition

Last summer is a complete blur of sleep deprivation, learning about babies, and trying to transition to a work-at-home mom. I don’t even remember what I did or how I looked when I did it. It’s crazy to think it’s been 16 months since having a baby, because I still feel very much post-partum.

This summer feels different, in that I’m actually rested enough to know what season it is. 🙂 I feel a bit more like me again. I *finally* made time this last week to color and cut my hair. I’m off the henna. It just takes too damn long! I gave all of my stash away. 😦 So I did a DIY box color during Hannah’s nap time one day, and my mom watched her while I went and got a haircut. It’s a really choppy-layered long a-line bob. It does the messy-wave thing quite nicely, and I love that style because a little heat and humidity doesn’t mess with it too much, and I can extend it a few days with just a couple of touch ups, some dry shampoo, and sea salt spray. Hooray for low-maintenance! Perfect mom hair.

new hair frontnew hair side

Hubby and I have been talking about actually going on dates again. We need it. Well, at least I do. I need conversation without distractions and I need a break from the 24/7-ness of having a toddler. But it’s embarrassing to admit that I have (nearly literally) nothing to wear to go out. At least not in the warm season. At least not if I don’t lose the baby weight. There’s enough guilt and shame in our lives to have to apologize for not “bouncing back” immediately (or 16 months after..cough cough) after having a baby. So I’m not apologizing for it, OR making excuses for it. I’m working on it.

But the meantime is awkward. I don’t need, or have the time, to feel crappy about myself. I know it’s not so much about my size, as it is the futile attempts to look put together when nothing I own is doing me any favors. So, because my birthday is coming up, I am going to use it as an excuse to get myself something decent to wear for a nice summer date. Maybe with a reason to wear something other than yoga pants 90% of the time I’ll be a little more motivated to eat kale.

Here are a few ideas I put together (the first for casual day-dates and the second for slightly nicer evenings out) that will (theoretically) flatter my mom-bod AND keep me cool when it’s 100 degrees. (I have some items similar to a few things shown here).

summer casual styleFor the casual styles, I basically picked belly-hiding tops with wear-to-death denim. I don’t mind showing a little leg if the upper half of my body is covered with distracting colors, prints and layers. 🙂 My favorite is probably the second from the left – floral shorts are different and fun and I have a similar vest.

summer date night style For the evening looks, I picked mostly darker colors (more flattering on me and fine for summer evenings). My favorite item on this board are the shoes from the second look and the top on the third look. The third look is actually a bit too trendy for my liking – on someone else it’s great but I’d feel a little self-conscious. The last look is easiest though – I already have the top and similar sandals and earrings.

The hardest part is actually shopping for things I like – thus gathering ideas ahead of time. It saves me time when I can shop with a mission rather than wandering aimlessly. Any faves from the outfits? And any fun summer date ideas for me? I’m truly out of the loop with it all! 😉

decorating with scarves and pashminas

headwrapOne of the perks, or hazards, of my job, is I am gifted with an excess of souvenirs. I work with – and do lots of paperwork for – people who travel overseas. Many of them bring me back pretty scarves and pashminas, which is so thoughtful! I also am frequently gifted with scarves for holidays and I pick up pretty ones at thrift stores. And as a result I have a LOT of scarves. Somehow I’ve amassed a pretty ridiculous (-ly awesome) collection.

I wear scarves pretty often, and I use them as head wraps. But I have so many pretty scarves and so few places to go these days that I hate seeing them tucked away. The fabrics and colors are so pretty! So I’ve rounded up a few ideas (some that require cutting and sewing for the thrifted ones, but most that leave them in tact) for using and displaying a scarf collection more frequently.

how to tie a scarfMy friend Cassie actually got me a cute book, How to Tie a Scarf, for Christmas. It’s full of fun ideas. There are also tons of tutorials on Pinterest, including how to tie and knot scarves stealthily to turn them into kimonos and vests. Really awesome! There are plenty of head wrap ideas or tutorials on braiding scarves into your hair, too, though I don’t have enough hair or swagger to pull off many of them. I just go for the super simple wrap-styles.

But the ideas I’ve been collecting are more for decor purposes. I love the casual vibe that different patterns and fabrics give off when layered around the house. I suppose you could use any textile for most of these, which makes them even more awesome. I like scouting textiles. They are so versatile. So.. here we go:

I LOVE these huge pillows made from big scarves {plus the link has tons of other ideas I love for scarf-upcycling}.

big pillows - dishfunctional designsSmaller pillows wouldn’t require sewing; you can wrap the scarf and twist/knot the back. The link for this one didn’t work (found on Pinterest), but it directed me to All You.

all youI like the idea of using scarves to cover poufs and ottomans, like these ones: (left from from Urban Outfitters, now sold out; right from Plumo). The Urban Outfitters version is something I’ve wanted to make for a while now. A less pretty “collection” I’ve got going on is 5 gallon buckets (I know, random), and I think with a little creativity I could make a similar ottoman with some patchwork scarves/other fabric.

UO Pouf   Plumo pouf

I use one pashmina as a runner on our dresser top to keep the surface from getting scratched. They are nice for table runners over a table cloth to keep them from sliding.

table runnerThere are lots of images out there for patchwork curtains made from scarves and handkerchiefs, but just hanging one in a window is really pretty and will allow it to be worn later.

windowI loved framed scarves like these, because you can see the entire design. It would be simple enough to switch out, too. (I wish I owned both of the ones below):

framed scarvesYou can hang a scarf on a wall without framing or doing anything special, like below. No cutting into the fabric for the special scarves I’ve got. I love this for the huge silk pashminas I’ve got from the Middle East.

wall hangingStoring scarves in plain view lets them be part of the decor and still keeps them usable. I’ve done this before in the bedroom, but it’s a great idea for an entryway.

hanging scarvesAny other ideas I’ve missed?

thrift shopping is my fave.

thrifting1

You guys.

Hannah’s finally old enough that 1) she enjothrifting3ys getting out of the house, even for shopping. In fact, some days, she really really needs to get out. And 2) she’s had all her vaccinations and I’m much more confident about bringing her to public places. Even though I go through many-a disinfecting wipe on shopping carts. {yeah. She’s trying to escape because I have my phone out to take a picture and she wants it. :)}
I haven’t done a lot of real thrift shopping since Hannah was born, except a few pop-ins to browse baby stuff. But actual pawing through the racks for stuff for myself.. it’d been a minute. And I have been jonesin’ to go for months. This week we hit up two in my quest to update my spring wardrobe a bit. I’ve got the Frumpy Momdoms going on. And while I am trying not beating myself up for that lingering extra belly squish, I’m not exactly wanting to show it off in my still-too-small pre-pregnancy clothes. Sigh. thrifting2
I scored a few new tops, a purse (I didn’t need one, buuuuuut) and some like-new TOMS (!!). They are these hippie rainbow ones. They are the perfect thing to wear around the house because they are comfy and warm. This might be in my top-ten best thrift scores evah’.
I know it’s easy to want to skip the shoes, but sometimes there are some real gems. I will only buy secondhand shoes if they look like they’ve barely been worn. I’m not above buying used and Lysoling the crap out of them, but even I have standards.
I know there are some expert thrift shoppers out there, and I am not one of those people by any means. I don’t have a great strategy, I don’t haggle. I mean, if there’s a defect I have been known to point it out in hopes I’ll score a discount, but otherwise I am content to pay the already tiny price tag for something I like. But one tip I have, is to avoid getting overwhelmed by hitting only certain areas or looking for (kind of) specific things, rather than browse the whole store (unless you have the time!). It’s easy to get sucked in to certain departments and then leave with nothing you went in for because you lost track of time. These are the items I always look for because I *almost* am always guaranteed to find something good:
my favorite things to find at thrift stores
On my list:
  1. Cool tee-shirts in the little boys section.
  2. Frilly, silky camisoles.
  3. Work-appropriate basic skirts and pants (you’ll find a million pencil skirts).
  4. Basic sweat shirts and sweats.
  5. Pajama pants. My local thrift shops always have tons of Old Navy and Victoria’s Secret pajama bottoms.
  6. Baskets for organizing the house. I have a LOT of baskets and almost all came from thrift shops. This is one of those things I don’t feel like I have to have an immediate need in for in mind to justify buying. I will ALWAYS use another basket.
  7. Tiny plates and dishes. I use these for spoon rests, soap dishes, under plants, to organize jewelry and other small stuff, under candles, etc. I’ve found them for as low as $.10.
  8. Teacups. I don’t have a collection, but I’ve picked up cute ones for organizing. Or you could make fun candles or bird feeders.
  9. Plant pots and pottery. I like to give little potted plants away for gifts in cool pots I find at thrift stores and yard sales. If we exchange gifts and I haven’t given you one as a gift yet, it’s only because I haven’t known you long enough. 🙂
  10. Books. I buy cookbooks and reference-type books, but not many paperbacks, as I would rather borrow and return to the library.
  11. Pyrex. I just recently started to collect and though it’s not super easy to find in thrift stores anymore (people sell on Ebay instead) I’ve found a couple pieces.
  12. Frames for projects. It’s not easy to find perfect as-is frames, but there are a ton of paintable ones or nice frames without glass you can do something with.

Are you into thrift shopping? What are your favorite scores and tips? After writing this post I am anxious to go again!

selling my sole.

*AKA, a review of leather shoes. AKA, vegetarian problems. AKA, bad shoe puns.

I have kinda weird self-imposed rules when it comes to buying shoes. A) They need to be of man-made materials whenever possible. And B) If they are over $40 or so, I have to prove to myself that I can make them work in at least three every day situations before I can buy them, to ensure I will actually wear them. Due to these rules, I own probably too many cheap, uncomfortable pairs of shoes that are ruining my feet. It’s taken pretty much all of my 20s to come to terms with the fact that I simply can’t do that to myself anymore if I want to maintain my mobility in my older years. Wisdom and all that. Due to years of coming home and limping around. LIMPING!

Last weekend I boxed up about 10 pairs of shoes I’ve been wearing, and suffering through, for months or years. They are being donated. In their place I ordered five pairs of comfy/cute clogs from Zappos (knowing all but two would be going back after picking my favorites). I settled on two black pairs, one practical goes-with-everything pair by Frye and one these-are-so-ridiculous-I-hafta pair by Alegria. And sadly both surviving pairs are made of leather.

Let the justifying begin.

I wish this were a review of awesome vegan clogs. The other pairs I ordered were man-made, Vegan-friendly options made by Dansko and Doc Martin in a similar price range, and I was really pulling for them to win. Sadly, they didn’t make the cut because they felt far too cheap (especially for the price)/weren’t that comfortable. I hate that I bought leather shoes, but I feel like at the very least the leather items in my life get worn out far past their aesthetically-pleasing lifespan. For a super casual shoe I will always pick a leather-free Sanuk, TOMs or Saucony shoe, and until now have been buying some very cheap, very uncomfortable man made shoes to wear to the office. If anyone knows of a nice-looking, professional non-leather shoe, please let me know!

I sheepishly admit I am in love with my new shoes, and in my guilt at least proved I will appreciate and wear them down. Here are a few of my style boards:

1. Spring Picnic. Cargo pants, a chambray shirt, and cute accessories are a good alternative to jeans and cardigans in the spring. (In my imaginary picnic I pack cute Bento-style meals and we drink Shiraz – it’s highly specific, but it’s my well-styled fake life.)

spring picnic

2. Weekend City Explorer. For a shoe with a heel, these clogs are seriously comfy. I could walk around all day in them on a city vacation without wearing my usual dork tourist hemp Saucony sneakers.

 

weekend city explorer

3. At the Office. Cuz, duh, I spend most of my waking life there (sob). I actually recreated this outfit this week and felt really put together. These look amazing with long, flare leg black pants.

at the office

As for the Alegria’s, they are beyond comfortable and even with a floral pattern are surprisingly versatile. I have been wearing them most evenings around the house and twice this week to work (once with gauchos and tights, and today with wide-leg trouser jeans for casual Friday). I’ve found them to be extremely polarizing at the office, which I sort of liked. Meaning, I got both compliments and strange looks and that entertained me. I’m secure with my weird style, I suppose.

IMG_1440

PS: if you liked this post, I did a similar “ways to wear them” post with my glitter TOMs here.

pretty new things.

I really love the new Princess line by Vera Wang. I’ve picked up a couple pieces and they make me so happy.

Gold arrowhead earrings:

And this funky chain braid charm bracelet:

…which by the way is such a hackable idea. Has anyone made one of these braid-chain pieces? I found some tutorials online and plan to eventually give it a try. I’ll be sure to post on it if I do.

tv style inspiration – pretty little liars

Do you ever watch television shows or movies exclusively because the style or sets are inspirational? I have to admit I was sucked into Gossip Girl for a while just for Blair’s headband collection alone. I recently started watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix because a blog I was reading mentioned the fashion a couple times, and I decided to check out the pilot. And then I got completely sucked in.. to not just the fashion, but the interior decor of the homes on the show – and, ok, the actual plot line is pretty damn good, too. Does anyone watch this? It’s completely addictive.

I have a mini-obsession with one of the characters, Aria, played by Lucy Hale. She’s the artsy, literary, and very grown up one of the group. (Don’t you miss teen fiction? Everyone had a stereotype. That gave me several identity crises as a young girl.) Aria’s got an edgy but boho vibe in her style, in both her bedroom, and her wardrobe. I covet it all. I feel like it’s what my style could be if I refined it and focused it a bit.. which I am trying to do. Jewel tones, texture, artsy details. A propensity for boots and funky tights and big earrings. Her style has totally got me amped for fall layers.

{Image source.}

I whipped up this style board to dissect her style, pulling out some of the hackable details.

A pretty, mulberry hued dress, patterned tights, and motorcycle boots are the basis of the look. She wears great jackets (I LOVE jackets). And of course, really great, statement-making jewelry. She mixes feminine/Victorian styles with edgy/spiky styles. Dark nails are a must, too. I love black nails (rocking it right now), but burgundy would be a nice, and probably more office-appropriate choice.

I also wear a lot of black, like Aria. But I love how she mixes neutrals for a look that’s moody without being too rocker, too bad-ass, too gothic. Her style is completely attainable, because it’s not trendy or designer (or.. it doesn’t have to be). Lots of vintage/thrifted pieces can be incorporated and mixed with diy and affordable bold jewelry. Unlike the other styles on the show (which are also pretty awesome) Aria’s perfect for remixing pieces in lots of ways.

I’m also inspired by Aria’s pretty bedroom.

It’s very much similar to her clothing style.. and every time there’s a scene in her bedroom I scope the details. That framed butterfly inspired my butterfly art project. I love the pretty layered details like that about this room. Don’t you think styling a television or movie set would be the BEST JOB EVER?

What’s inspiring you lately?

practically free friday #11 – beaded necklace

Back with more beading from the shiny object collection. This time in the form of a simple but bold necklace. I totally love it! To make this I actually disassembled a boring black beaded necklace (long ago) I rarely wore and added some different beads for more interest.

I like the length of this necklace a lot because it’s great for layering with another shorter pendant.

It was a nice pick-me up today – I’ve been feeling totally blah at the office lately and as of today I’m vowing to amp it up style-wise. I start a new job Monday, sort of. A new company is heading up our contract, and while many of my job duties will remain, it’s a bit of a promotion. More responsibilities, more autonomy, and I’ll work directly for the Program Manager. This doesn’t necessitate dressing better but I love the feeling of a new start, so I’ve been thinking a lot about updating my look a bit in conjunction. More to come on that later, cuz now it’s time to think WEEKEND!