Fashion, Travel, Poetry

Style by Joules

Category - Thoughts

Thoughts   ·   12/31/2014

The Year in Review

With New Year’s Eve upon us I thought I’d share a my favorite looks by season with you all, as well as the highlights of my year. Overall 2014 was… a bit of a tough year, at least when compared with the profound awesomeness of 2013 (not surprising, given that 13 has always been a lucky number for me). In 2013 I got engaged, went on a wonderful whirlwind tour of Italy, relaxed on the private beach of a gorgeous little house in the Bahamas for a week in February, and had countless little things throughout the year just go right.

Maybe 2014 was a bit of a hangover year, but things tended to go just the opposite. I should have known something was up with the way this year started. On New Year’s day we drove from Petoskey, Michigan (where we had been holiday-ing with my fiance’s family) to Chicago in a snowstorm so bad that we actually had to take back roads all the way from around Grand Rapids to Chicago (it turns out that slowly driving through thick snow is safer than driving on black ice on the Expressway). Anyway, flash forward to my work sending me to South by Southwest without finding adequate accommodations (I had to sleep on a friend’s couch), work struggles with a boss I couldn’t see eye-to-eye with, me losing nearly 20 lbs then gaining it all back during a stressful summer, catching a serious stomach bug on our trip to Ireland that landed me in the bathroom for a full day (and it wasn’t pretty in there), and then finally, after meticulously planning a big family Christmas, having my neck go out on Christmas Eve morning and again on Christmas day so badly that I actually had to go to the ER and get put on some serious pain killers.

At least, as it turns out, life feels a lot happier and more relaxed on Valium and Oxycodone.

Enough with the bad, though. This year also contained a good bit of fun, and some great outfit posts, if I can be so bold. Let’s have a look at them.

Spring
Spring outfit, Year in Review 2014

Summer
summer

Fall
fall

Winter
winter

Highlights of 2014

  • Buying my first (his second) car with my fiance
  • Getting to model for the Sparkle and Sophistication jewelry launch
  • Switching to a great new job right in downtown Chicago
  • Watching Real Madrid play (and sadly lose to) Manchester United at the Big House, and enjoying all the associated tailgating and summer fun
  • Going to Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour at the United Center
  • Touring through Italy with my fiance and his parents, staying at Dowton Abbey style B&Bs, visiting 5,000 year old burial mounds, making friends with an adorable Irish/English couple at a pub in Kinsale, and drinking at combo bar/hardware stores in Dingle.
  • Taking a quick trip out to San Franscisco for my fiance’s cousin’s wedding
  • Catching up with old high school friends in Marquette for another friend’s beautiful fall wedding
  • Elk hunting (though we failed to actually bag one) in Montana with my dad, fiance, and his dad. Much scotch and cigars were had by all.
  • Spending Christmas with my fiance’s family in Ann Arbor and having my dad fly in to join in the festivities.

And what about 2015? At the moment, the only 2015 thing that I have headspace for is my wedding in March. There’s a lot of planning to do.

Happy New Year to all! I hope you have a blast tonight and throughout the coming year. :)

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Thoughts   ·   12/17/2014

I’m Changing How I Run This Blog. Here’s Why.

There are going to be some changes around here.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the struggles I’ve been having with running a fashion blog so that you, dear reader, will know why I’ve decided to deconstruct and rebuild this blog and its content. There are three general groups of reasons why things need changing. Let’s examine them.

1. The Time

Fashion blogging takes a lot of time.

Let me share with you what my average summer weekend was like this past year. My fiancé would generally spend one day per weekend golfing, which I would use as my opportunity to take all of my fashion blogging photos. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? But in reality those days would end up feeling like 10 hour work days. I would get up and quickly work out, then do hair and makeup and during that time I’d decide what outfits to shoot.

Actually lets rewind a bit and expand on that point. When I started blogging, I remember thinking that it wouldn’t be that hard. I already dressed well–all I would need to do was snap a few pictures, right? Well, it turns out to be so much more effort than that. You discover that not wearing makeup and not spending a long time on your hair really shows in photos. You discover that having mis-matched accessories is extremely obvious. In short, you realize just how much goes into a truly great outfit, and you begin to plan (read: obsess) accordingly about every last detail.

Back to the shoot. After putting on all the clothes and jewelry (which often involved ironing multiple garments), I would run downstairs to the street with my camera. The camera is another beast in and of itself. I have to make sure the flash card has enough space, the battery is charged, the remote shutter release is charged, and that I have both lenses (one for the close ups, one for the full body shots). I would haul that along with tripod downstairs and spend a while finding a place on the street that looked nice. The weather always factored into this decision. Harsh sunlight makes for squinty pictures unless you’re wearing sunglasses (another outfit item to obsess over). Rainy days would totally destroy shoots. Nothing was worse than having my photo shoot day be rainy. As a person with a normal job, a relationship, and social commitments I rarely had time to do outfit shoots during the week, so if my shoot day was rainy I was more or less screwed (you can imagine the stress and frustration).

Getting back to the shoot–I’d take my pictures and go upstairs to make sure they turned out ok. My camera has an affinity for focusing on the objects around me (trees, brick walls, signs) and so I would sometimes have to run back downstairs and reshoot. Look below for an example of it focusing on the brick wall beside me in one of my more recent shoots. In a whole day of shooting I could usually get a maximum of 6 – 9 outfit posts shot. It was exhausting.

As it turns out, photography is hard.

But then you have to add in the time for editing the photos, which entailed picking the best ones out, playing around with the fill light, shadows, and contrast in Photoshop until they looked good enough to blog, and then uploading them and putting the post together. I generally only had time to just shoot my outfit posts on golf days. I’d have to squeeze in all the editing and post creation on other days.

Essentially what this amounted to was that I spent all of my free time blogging.

But wait, there’s more! Just putting together the posts wasn’t enough. If I didn’t spend time on promotion nobody would read my blog (hardly anyone reads it anyway, if you compare it to any of the big fashion blogs out there). So my lunch breaks at work were spent on Bloglovin’ leaving a comment and my blog’s URL on as many other blogs as I could squeeze in. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m guilty of leaving the kind of comments on other blogs that I hate receiving on my own–the type of fake, brief comment that screams “I didn’t actually read your post and I don’t care about it. Please come to my blog!”

Over time this has amounted to me dropping everything for blogging. I’ve neglected my personal relationships. I’ve neglected all of my other hobbies. You get the idea. I’ve become a blogging machine.

This fall all of this started to become apparent to me. I had several big trips bookended with packed weekends that allowed no time for outfit photos. I planned posts nearly months in advance and exhausted myself doing so. On our return from Montana, I got up one morning early before work to do an outfit shoot and it felt stressful and forced. Over Thanksgiving break I hauled all of my camera equipment home along with a bunch of outfits and did shoots while the rest of the family watched football and spent time together. Last week I decided, due to lack of weekend time and a general lack of sunlight, that I would try to do my outfit pictures over my lunch break at work. The next morning I got all ready–including makeup, hair, jewelry, the whole bit. As I picked up my workbag heavy with camera equipment and my tripod (carried seperately because it’s too large for a normal bag), my fiancé asked me why I was adding so much stress to my life for a blog that was supposed to be a creative outlet–a stress reliever. I had no good answer.

After some reflection, it really hit home how crazy this has become. Dressing nicely and enjoying fashion used to be a fun, creative outlet for me that was totally different from my job as a web developer. Now it feels more like a second job. My outfit photos take so much time, I don’t have time left to do nearly anything I actually enjoy, including shopping and fashion-related activities.

2. The Content

Fashion blogging can sometimes cause inauthentic content.

When I decided to start fashion blogging, I took a look at my favorite blogs (Extra Petite and 9 to 5 Chic) and thought to myself that there was a real dearth of blogs like them. Most of the blogs I found were in the Blonde Salad, Song of Style, Sea of Shoes vein (read: totally unlike anything I would ever wear). I thought the world could use another blog from a normal girl wearing normal things to normal activies (like work). I didn’t realize until I started blogging and doing more research that the blogging market is absolutely satured with blogs of every type, including blogs like mine.

Because there are so many fashion blogs trying to do the same thing, I think nearly every blogger out there is feeling the pressure to put out more and better content. Given that the biggest bloggers are really just businesses (meaning that their blog is their job, not their hobby) it’s nearly impossible for a blogger like me with an actual 9 to 5 job to compete with the amount and quality of their content.

Yet never-the-less I found myself trying. This led not only to me over-extending myself and my time as I wrote about earlier, it also led to me producing less content that was what I wanted to talk about and more content that sells well. In the past few months I’ve featured trendier and trendier items. Examples? My plaid shirts. My camel scarf. My ankle booties. I’ve found myself reluctant to feature items that might be considered played out (like my Longchamp bag) despite the fact that I like the item and use it nearly every day. I’ve also been wearing heavier makeup in blog posts than I ever do in real life. The bright red lip? Not a look I like very much or, I’ve noticed, the people in my life like very much. But it looks nice in pictures, and thus it goes up on the blog.

My blog is becoming a McBlog. No different from so many others. I’m featuring the same shit in the same way so many other bloggers are. And I’m getting praise for it too. The trendier the clothing and makeup I feature are, the more hits I get, the more likes I get, the more response I get in general from my readers and followers. And this response triggers a desire in me to get even more followers and more likes.

But why do I want so many followers? While I suppose there is a monetary angle (more followers = more money from affiliate links and more free products from companies), the truth is I doubt I’ll ever become a truly huge blogger to the point where I could live off blogging. So then, whats the point? My income from the blog is small enough, and always will be small enough, that building a following shouldn’t matter to me more than producing authentic content.

I think I’d be much happier blogging just for women who enjoy my sense of style. For example, I like the Instagram post above on the right more than the one on the left. It looks more genuine, and features my own personal style (the big hair has always been a thing for me, and I enjoy a good no-makeup look). But if I’m only concerned with followers, I have to focus more on trendy, makeup-heavy looks like the one on the left that got so many more likes.

In short, I think focusing on promoting my blog and running it like a business has caused my content to not necessarily reflect my own personal tastes. I’ve been focusing way too much on what is trendy and what will sell. That needs to change.

3. Fashion Blogging can be a Vapid Affair

Me reading the Chicago issue of Granta magazine.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t care at all about clothes. In college I was an out-and-out hippie. I didn’t own a pair of heels. I disdained commercialism.

It was a phase.

But still, that part of me continues to exist in some way and it has been feeling increasingly uncomfortable with my obsession with my own appearance.

Before I began working in technology and fashion blogging, I was a budding writer trying to break into publishing. I have a Masters in English literature and I was doing everything I could to use it. I wrote book reviews for Booklist magazine. I ran a blog about publishing in Chicago (please excuse the Bingo links/posts–when I let the blog die I decided it wouldn’t hurt to monetize it a bit).

I recall during my Booklist reviewing days apologizing to my fiancé (then boyfriend) for spending so much time reading. He told me not to apologize–much as reading is a solitary activity, he told me, reading so much made me an interesting and well rounded person. I never forgot that.

In the last few months I’ve noticed nearly the opposite trend in myself. My focus on clothing trends and efforts to make myself look increasingly attractive and fashionable have drained nearly every other aspect of my personality away. If what you focus on defines you in some way, I have become nearly as vacuous as the Oort Cloud.

I’m not exagerating. Over Thanksgiving I distinctly recall having convervsations with family members in which I was stunned, as the words came out of my mouth, at how generally stupid I sounded. Not only did I have nothing to talk to anyone about (deep conversations are rarely inspired by considering whether or not a dress is cute or a scarf is on trend), when I did talk I sounded like I hadn’t had a serious thought in months.

For several days I considered very seriously the idea of stopping this blog altogether. The thought saddened me. I still enjoy the creative challenge of putting together posts. And I can recognize that focusing on looks and appearance doesn’t necessarily mean a person can’t also do enriching activities like reading, having meaningful discussions, or finding time to focus on relationships. It feels as though some kind of balance must be possible.

And so I’d like to announce that this blog will be going on a mini hiatus while I figure out exactly what changes I’d like to bring to it. I already have a few ideas in mind–longer editorials, fewer outfit posts, potentially even bringing in book reviews–but I want to give myself a bit of space to flesh those out before heading off blindly in a new direction. I’ll be back in the new year.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve written above, and also your thoughts on what content I’ve produced in the last year and a half you’ve liked the most and what you’ve liked the least. If you’re still here, thanks for sticking with me.

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Thoughts   ·   11/15/2014

Handbags 101: My Four Favorite Handbag Shapes and What I Carry in Them

Rue La La, a members-only online designer retailer, recently released a handbag guide that I think is an amazing jumping off point for anyone interesting in handbags. I particularly like their advice about designer labels (I often buy vintage handbags, and it’s important to be able to spot a fake) and their history of handbags. I thought I’d share my own four favorite handbag shapes and what I carry in each as a bit of my own handbag 101.

The Clutch / Wristlet

Rue La La Handbag Guide Clutch

I probably have more of this type of handbag than any other due both to cost and versatility. A good wristlet is an easy, inexpensive accessory that can add a great pop of color to an outfit.

Mine generally contain my wallet (bonus points for the Kate Spade in the upper left that actually is a wallet), my phone, and some lip color (or just chapstick).

I use my clutches and wristlets primarily to accent evening and formal wear. They make it easy to keep your things on you while dancing and squeezing through packed bars. I also use a wristlet to keep my work keys together–my office has a beep card I need to use all the time. A wristlet keeps it handy.

The Small Carry All

Rue La La Handbag Guide Small Carry-all

This is my go-to purse for errand running and daytime activities. Its got slightly more room than your average wristlet or clutch, but not so much as to be bulky and get in the way.

What goes in? Add wristlet contents plus fast flats (if I’m wearing heels) and sunglasses and their cases.

The Satchel

Rue La La Handbag Guide The Satchel

Behold, the queen of the handbag world (in my opinion). Nothing trumps a good satchel in my mind. They have all the space you need without looking boring (see next: totes). You can take a satchel to work, to a party, shopping, out on a date, pretty much anywhere.

What goes in here? The most important item of all: shoes. Satchels have saved me from so many evenings of foot distress. If you’ve only got a small purse, but you’ve worn heels out, what do you do when your toes are aching so bad that you’d rather just go home than keep walking on them? You go home, and miss out on the rest of the evening. But if you’ve brought a satchel, you can quickly swap out your heels for flats with ease.

Other than shoes, I often keep a spare cardigan, a water bottle, a granola bar, winter accesories (hat, gloves, scarf), and miscellaneous items in there (pens, change, receipts, etc.)

The Tote

Rue La La Handbag Guide The Tote

Big, utilitarian, and slightly boring are the adjectives that come to mind for me when I think about the tote. I’m a bit left of center in the fashion blogger community on this, I think. Totes are all the rage these days–when I look around the city, totes are the most common designer bag I see. I find them to be undeniably useful (my trusty Longchamp accompanies me to work almost every day) but ultimately a bit homogeneous in style. My recommendation for totes is to by one in a neutral color that’s built to last, and spend your big bucks on a unique, beautiful satchel.

On the average work day my Longchamp contains a wristlet with my wallet and cell phone, sunglasses case, lip balm, breakfast and sometimes lunch, and my gym clothes.

 

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Thoughts   ·   04/09/2014

Photos from the Sparkle and Sophistication Launch

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Last weekend I was invited to the launch party for Sparkle and Sophistication, a small jewelry line from a local Chicago designer. As part of the event, I got to model several of their pieces for the S&S lookbook. It was a ton of fun. I’ll be sharing the official pictures with you when I receive them, which should be sometime this week. For now, here are a few pictures I took at the event. Many thanks to my friend Brandon for accompanying me to the event and snapping many of these pics. You’re the best!

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

I arrived and was ushered into the hair station.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Next came makeup. I’m not much of a makeup artist myself, so I was amazed at the transformation! She started light…

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

…then things got a bit heavier. I’ve never outlined my cheekbones before, so I had no idea this was how it’s done. She blended these harsh lines in later to make them less defined, but still, it’s pretty neat to see how these things are done.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

And finally she added the finishing touch–a bold lip the likes of which I’d never worn. I thought it looked great for a photo shoot, but probably too severe for real life. And that’s not to take anything away from her amazing work–I think she did a fabulous job (which I doubt I’d ever be able to replicate).

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

These necklaces were my favorite pieces from the collection. I love the bows–very dainty and cute. I should note that they feel very much of quality–they are not light and chintzy like some necklaces I’ve seen in this style.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to pick up one of these bracelets. I love the big heart charms–in the light, they were just gorgeous. I can’t decide if I like the silver and blue or rose gold and clear better. Decisions…

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

These were probably my least favorite items in the collection. They were a bit too bulky and boxy for me. That said, they still looked fabulous in the bright lights.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Before the shoot, I had Brandon snap a few pics of my makeup and outfit.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

The setting for our shoot.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

I got to meet some fabulous Chicago bloggers at the event. From left to right, this is: Ashlei, Kristen and Jeana, moi, and Sarah.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

This is us shooting the cover of the lookbook. Nusrat, the owner of Sparkle and Sophistication, is to my left.

Sparkle and Sophistication launch.

One big, sorority-style shot of everyone who came. Thanks again to Sparkle and Sophistication for a fun Saturday afternoon!

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Thoughts   ·   03/31/2014

Late March Check In

Late March Check In

If you’ve been following my weight loss journey (did I really just say weight loss journey? ::cringe::), you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been doing well since I started posting again. For the uninitiated, my rules at the get go were that I wouldn’t do any more outfit posts until I hit my goal weight/size (125 lb / size 4), but I would allow myself to make fashion related posts once I hit the halfway point. This has proved to be very motivating.

On Sunday, the scale at the gym read 131 lbs.

This brings my grand total of weight loss so far up to 17 lbs. I’m feeling pretty happy. Mostly what I’ve found is that working to maintain a good weekly average of calories per day has been my best strategy. This allows me to eat more on the weekends but make up for it the following week. In fact, I have a whole list of helpful pointers that I could share at this point, so stay tuned.

I’m now comfortably wearing size 6 jeans from Target. I can only assume, though, that a Target 6 is much more lenient than, say, an H&M 6, so I’m not sure exactly where I stand on that. What I do know is that I’m only 6 pounds away from my goal weight, so by the end of this month I’m hoping I can successfully return to outfit posting.

Thanks for sticking with me this far. :)

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Thoughts   ·   03/12/2014

An In Depth Look at Seasonal Color Analysis

The Importance of Finding Your Season

During my hiatus from fashion blogging I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering this question: what makes a great fashion blogger great? I follow quite a few fashion blogs, but only a handful consistently publish posts that really strike a chord with me. For the rest, regularly something is just off about their look. To tease out the difference, I first went through my favorite fashion blog of them all, 9to5Chic. Ahn’s blog was the first one I truly fell in love with. Even if I didn’t like the cut of the pieces in each outfit or the style, I always somehow still felt moved by the outfit regardless.

I went through Ahn’s entire blog, pinning the outfits I particularly liked to my Inspiration board on Pinterest, and one of the things that struck me about all of her outfits that I liked the most was that they followed a consistent color pattern that looked great on her. I liked that both the colors in each outfit looked great with her overall skin tone, hair color, and lip color and that the colors in each outfit looked good together. It really helped each outfit to look cohesive. Here are some examples:

See how perfectly the colors in this outfit work together? The skirt, top, and even ring  work well. And the black is a nice neutral with it.

See how perfectly the colors in this outfit work together? The skirt, top, and even ring work well. And the black is a nice neutral with it.

This color work so perfectly with her skin tone, and I love how the blazer, skirt, and clutch work together color-wise.

This color work so perfectly with her skin tone, and I love how the blazer, skirt, and clutch work together color-wise.

Realizing I was on to something, I began to search for resources on finding what colors would work best for me. Along the way, I found a few more images that showed me how important finding the right color is, and particularly, finding the right seasonal color. I thought that this post highlighting the differences of the right colors on certain celebrities hit the nail on the head, and this image of Scarlett Johansen floored me:

The picture on the left is so much brighter and younger looking than its twin on the right and the only difference is the color swatches beneath.

The picture on the left is so much brighter and younger looking than its twin on the right and the only difference is the color swatches beneath.

Hopefully I’ve been fairly convincing on the import of color when it comes to getting your wardrobe just right. The rest of this post is going to be devoted my research on my own personal seasonal color. I’m hoping it can be used as a learning tool for others just starting out with this. Onward!

The Links

First, for those who just want to get to the helpful links, here they are:

My Search for a Season

I began just with a simple Google search for tests to determine your seasonal color. Their were, of course, more than dozens–some more helpful than others. I’ll only reference the ones I found most interesting and helpful. The first I landed on was CollegeFashion.net’s How to Find Your Perfect Colors. I’ve been a College Fashion reader since, well, college, so I dove in. Their test was based on the same updated model of the seasonal color analysis that came out in the 80s (in the book Color Me Beautiful) that most everyone uses, with slight variations. The original idea was that people could be divided into four seasonal groups. That idea has since been updated to give each group three sub groups. The names of these sub groups differ from one place to the next, but generally they’re based on sub characteristics that a person might have within each season.

Back to College Fashion, their first big split put me in the Summer/Winter category, since I look terrible in browns (particularly medium warm ones). I figured I looked better in pale colors that ultra dark ones, and that made me a summer. Looking at the swatches and descriptions, I figured a light summer most matched me. I ended my search there after bookmarking the .jpg of colors that would like nice on me.

But the thought stuck with me that summer colors are supposed to look like those seen through the haze of a summer day. They can be dusty, and not terribly bright. Black was supposed to look terrible on summers. I decided to do more research. It turned out that most light summers are natural blonds–pale and delicate. I may be pale, but I’m a natural medium brunette. And black looks pretty good on me. And pale, dusty, muted colors look pretty mediocre on me.

So, still using the College Fashion model, I decided I must be a Winter. The only Winter category I really fit into was a Clear Winter. I felt better with this than with the Summer selection simply because I liked the colors better. I like brights; I hate dusty blah-zay colors. But still I felt like I hadn’t gotten it right. I started doing other quizes just to see if I could find something better. I liked The Chic Fashionista’s quiz quite a bit–it still landed me in winter. Cardigan Empire had lots of good resources including a quiz and nice page on each seasonal type.

Everything I looked at ended up leading me to clear winter and yet as I sat staring at the faces of Liv Tyler and Zooey Deschanel I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t right. My hair is not that dark and my skin is not that white. Lots of really dark, jewel tones leave me looking too heavy. I wasn’t happy. I was beginning to think that the whole seasonal color thing was bunk and that I should just go back to randomly picking colors that I sort of liked off the rack.

And then I stumbled upon Truth is Beauty, a website devoted almost exclusively to color analysis. I skipped her expensive swatches and lip stick methods and went straight for the questions on what colors look best and worst. My answers to these questions pointed me in the direction of Bright Spring, or Winter transitioning into spring (also known as Clear Spring). To add to the convincing, she specifically mentions that Bright Springs often get mis-classified as winters because we can be somewhat hard to place. Beauty and Elegance confirms this in an article about brunettes being misclassified.

I suddenly felt at home! Google searches turned up celebrities that looked like me. I thought of my favorite colors on myself and they fit in the palette. I was happy. Sometimes I feel like fashion and beauty are too shrouded in mystery, and when I start to decode them into variables I can understand and manipulate I get excited.

To verify my findings, I decided to do an analysis of my new Bright/Clear Spring palette against which colors I thought looked best on me from previous outfit posts. Here are clips taken from the outfits that I think suited me best color-wise (sorry it’s so huge):

best-colors

And here is a palette made from colors picked directly from these outfits:

Best colors on me.

Best colors on me.

For comparison, here’s a Bright/Clear Spring color palette I found in my searches:

clear-spring

Pretty similar, right?

Finally, for self edification, I put together a group of clips from the worst colors I’ve worn on this blog:

Ick.

Ick.

Note how absolutely abysmal the pink button-down I’m wearing in the upper left is. It totally washes me out. Similarly, the all-dusty-pastels dress I wore last spring makes my skin look just dead. The browns are more subtly wrong. It’s hard to discern why they don’t work at first, but I think it’s that they clash horribly with my hair and are too warm overall. As a Bright Spring I need contrast that matches the contrast between my skin, eyes, and hair. Brown is way too medium.

And the pictures on the bottom are just a tour of terrible greens. The dress on the far left washes me out so totally that I almost disappear (which is a damn shame because the cut of that dress is great). Remind me never to wear army green again, like I am in the next picture. It sucks the life right out of me. The golden olive color in the next picture makes me look sickly, and the brown color and pale dusty shoulders of the final dress have me running to put it in the donation bin.

Whew. So my worst colors confirm my Bright/Clear Spring identity. The worst colors for my season are medium browns and dusty, pale colors.

My current plan, as I ramp back up toward putting together outfit posts again, is to use Pinterest to piece together outfits that work with my new-found palette. I’m pretty excited about the changes this could bring to my wardrobe.

In Summary

My two bits of advice after doing this research are:

1. Choosing the right colors for your wardrobe is definitely important. (Duh.)
2. Make sure you spend some time finding your right color. Do multiple quizzes, look at outfits you like on yourself, and make sure you’ve got the right season before you commit to it.

If you’ve got questions I’d love to hear them! What season are you? :)

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Thoughts   ·   03/09/2014

Halfway

You guys! I’m back!

Reaching 135 lbs took me a lot longer than expected, mostly due to lots of unexpected social outings involving drinks and, inevitably, food that’s not very conducive to weight loss.

But I’m here, finally, and I can’t wait to start posting regularly again. Stay tuned this week for some in depth editorial on color theory, my spring favorites, and a link roundup on Friday.

Oh, and apologies for the selfies. I wanted to put a picture with this post but I’m currently at South by Southwest so a selfie bomb was the best I could do. And speaking of South by Southwest, or SaxSaw as I’ve taken to calling it (my fiance came up with that after we both decided that calling it “South by” is awful), I’ll be posting a review of my experiences here soon. Spoiler alert: it’s not going to be positive.

But lets not end this on a down note. Instead, here’s an adorable polar bear cub. Glad to be back!

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Thoughts   ·   12/30/2013

October – December 2013 Update

New cashmere scarf, purchased at Grandpa Shorters in downtown Petoskey, Michigan. Only $20! Such a steal.

I’m not dead! Though I wouldn’t be surprised if my readership is, given my spotty posting habits. Eh, well. Sorry, guys.

I thought I’d do a quick update to give you all a recap of the last few months. And also to reassure you that I haven’t given up on my fitness/weight loss goals. Up until Christmas vacation I did pretty darn well on my quest for getting healthier. Throughout the fall I did struggle a bit, but December was a good month for me. Just before leaving for Christmas with my boyfriend’s family I checked in at 142. I’m sure that’s not what I’ll check in at after this break is over, but honestly, that’s to be expected. I’ve had a big, long Christmas holiday with lots of family and lots of treats. I’ve always thought the most important part of any fitness regime is getting back on track after a slip up, not avoiding slip ups entirely (because no one can).

My current plan is to be back to posting outfit pictures by March or so, just in time for spring fashion. It’s also my hope to keep posting fitness updates every once in a while. But January promises to be a busy month for me, and I’m clearly terrible at it anyway, so no breath holding.

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Thoughts   ·   10/09/2013

Day 2, Checkin

Quick note: A big part of my methodology for getting healthy has come from the Nerd Fitness Academy, which is a new thing from NerdFitness.com When you see me write about being paleo or doing the bodyweight brigade exercise series, it comes from that. If you’re interesting in getting in shape, I’d encourage you to join. It’s full of great info and has a great community. 

Wow, it feels SO GOOD to write day 2. I’ve had so many day 1s, I hope never to have another!

Yesterday’s Eats:

B: Fage strawberry greek yogurt + granola – 250c
L: Chicken andoille sausage, tomato, banana – 450c
S: Fruit snacks (from our HR lady ::hangs head in HFCS shame::) and almonds – 150 c
D: Chicken fajitas without the tortilla or cheese (so basically just chicken and veggies with lots of delicious spices) – 500c
S: Salted popcorn – 140 c

Two things to note. First, you’ll notice that I’m calorie counting. I’m doing this largely to get myself used to the size of meal I should be eating. What I’m shooting for is 250 for breakfast, 450 for lunch, 150 for a pre-workout snack, 550 for dinner, and 150 for another snack. That totals 1550, which is about what I should be eating for weight loss. When I hit my goal weight/size I’ll up that amount a bit. Basically what I’m going for with my eating is to count my calories to get my meal sizes right when I’m making my own food, and to simply eat paleo and keep things healthy when I’m out at restaurants or somewhere I can’t count the calories.  That’s the goal.

The second thing to note is that I’m clearly struggling a bit to get things totally Paleo, but I’m moving in the direction. I really like having greek yogurt with breakfast, but I realize that it’s dairy which isn’t entirely paleo and that it’s full of sugar. So eventually, once I’m used to this level of eating I might try to eat unsweetened yogurt or try to replace the yogurt with something else. I’m a little unsure right now. Any suggestions would be awesome. I will say, though, that the meals I did eat fully paleo, like lunch and dinner, left me feeling way more full and satisfied than they used to when I was just calorie counting but still eating grain and sugar. 100 calories of tortilla versus 100 calories of chicken and veggies is not at all the same thing.

I’m seriously getting pretty stoked about this Paleo thing. I never really thought a diet would exist on which I could be skinny and feel satisfied all the time.

Yesterday’s Exercise:

I started the bodyweight brigade exercises! I was a bit nervous because of my back and neck. Mostly because of my back. But I did the whole thing, complete with burpees at the end. I thought it was going to be sort of a breeze, but it seriously was a really great workout and I’m definitely pretty sore today. My lower back feels a bit sore after it, so I’m still kind of waiting to see how it recovers. I may have to modify a few of the exercises to keep it ok for me, but we’ll see. I’m sort of wondering if part of the reason my back feels shitty is just that it’s so weak right now. Plus I spend all day sitting at the office, so that doesn’t help at all.

—-

Today:

Nothing big is happening today for me in terms of food. I’ll just be eating a normal work lunch and having a normal dinner with my bf at home. I think I’m going to do something with eggs for lunch and for dinner we’ll have sausages and sauerkraut with broccoli. I have an apple for my mid-afternoon snack. We’ll see about tonight’s snack. I have to find a replacement for my popcorn. I love it, but I realize it’s not paleo. Hmmmm…

Today’s workout will be another short run. So far my foot injury is feeling all better, and my run on Sunday didn’t seem to bother it. Fingers crossed that it’s doing much better. :)

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Thoughts   ·   10/08/2013

Style Me Fit

Apologies once again for my long absence on this blog. I can assure you that this time it wasn’t just because I had too many other commitments eating away at my time–though I did just get back from a two week vacation in Italy, and that was awesomely time consuming in the best possible way.

This time my absence had a purpose. I was cementing my decision to make a change.  I started this blog back in May partially as a way to motivate myself to lose some weight and get healthy, which has been a continual struggle for me pretty much since I hit puberty. Surely if I had multiple photo shoots per week I’d feel motivated to lose weight, I thought. And that’s exactly not what happened. In fact, the opposite did. I felt so stressed out about the urgency with which I need to lose weight that I then ate to assuage that stress–which didn’t help in the weight loss department, as you can imagine.

What I did gain from running this blog was a healthy appreciation for fashion and the work that goes into it. I’ve learned a lot about fashion, but the style on this blog doesn’t really reflect the clothes that I’d like to be wearing. Instead, it shows you the clothing that makes me look thinner. This basically just means dresses. There are so many clothing items that I’d like to feature on this blog that I’ve been waiting to purchase–waiting because I can’t fit into the size I’d like to wear. I want to show you outfits with jeans, leather jackets, and crisp pencil skirts. But I can’t do that until I can feel happy buying them. And I can’t feel happy buying them until I can fit into them. And that’s not going to happen until I get my shit together.

So rather than making this blog my motivation I’m making this blog my accountability. I love running it, and I can’t wait to make more outfit posts. But I won’t be doing that until I’ve gotten my weight under control. Until I’ve gotten healthy. Until I’m a size 4 (or whatever size feels healthy to me once I get there).

But I’m not going to stop posting here entirely. Instead, I’m going to turn this into a fitness blog. You can expect daily posts about what I’m eating, how I’m working out, and what I’m feeling. You can expect weekly posts featuring my progress. And you can expect opinion pieces about things I’m feeling and thinking during this journey.

I’d love to have your support while I’m getting into amazing shape and eating right. And I promise you that the first outfit post when I’m back to posting about fashion is going to knock your socks off.

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Thoughts   ·   07/08/2013

Fourth of July Weekend Photos

Fourth of July weekend pics.

  • hat – papillon
  • dress – goodwill
  • sandals – lucky brand
  • necklace – etsy
  • ring – jewelmint

This Monday I thought I’d share with you all a few pictures that were taken by my amazing (almost) sister-in-law Cortney. You can see more of her pictures at her website. We hosted my boyfriend’s family at our condo this weekend for fireworks, shopping, and wine drinking among many other things.

I particularly enjoyed outfitting ourselves for a backpacking trip we’ll be taking in 10 days at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It’s close to my hometown, Marquette Michigan, and we’ll be backpacking for a few days before going to my brother’s wedding. I’m crazy excited. We purchased backpacks, lightweight sleeping bags, a lightweight tent, and even a pink spoon/fork/knife all in one.

Anyway, the picture above was taken at Oz Park in Lincoln Park. Cortney’s son Calvin is already quite the bibliophile and insisted upon Oz Park–themed on one of his favorite series of books. I quite liked the tin man. The hat I purchased from a local boutique that day to replace my current floppy sunhat.

Fourth of July weekend pics.

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Thoughts   ·   06/13/2013

On Jewelmint and Reddit’s Female Fashion Advice

This week has been a rather tough one. Several unsavory things have happened that I want to share with you.

Let’s start with Jewelmint, which I mentioned a few posts ago. At first glance, Jewelmint appears to be like any other online retailer. They sell relatively high quality jewelry for decent prices. I heard about them via another style blogger who had a giveaway, and after browsing their site for some time I decided to make an order. Part of my decision was predicated on their amazing introductory offer of two for the price of one for new “members.” I didn’t exactly know what being a member meant, but from everything I saw on the site it seemed like having an account at any online retailer–like Amazon, for example.

But it’s not like any online retailer. Turns out, Jewelmint hides in the fine print of their membership sign up form–which looks like any old “make and account with us” form that you see online–that they will charge your credit card $29.99 every month unless you opt out in the first five days of the month. They then allow you to purchase their jewelry with this money that they have charged from you. They don’t print this anywhere other than in the fine print when you sign up for an account. They also don’t send you email alerts letting you know that it’s time to opt out or you’ll be charged.

So, lo and behold, on June 6th my credit card was charged $29.99. I was upset. I hadn’t read the fine print–and let’s be honest, who does–and did not anticipate the charges. Just to give you all the full story, I’ll tell you how my interactions with customer service went. I emailed them, upset, and told them that I hadn’t read the fine print and didn’t know I would be charged this amount. I asked for my money back and asked for my membership to be revoked. They wrote back and, completely unnecessarily at this point, explained to me how the membership worked and told me they’d be happy to cancel my membership once I used my credit. That is, once I bought $29.99 worth of jewelry. It took them over 3 days to get back to me.

I deemed this unacceptable–I don’t think being forced to shop with my own money is really an okay thing–and wrote them a second time. This time I let them know about my blog and threatened to write about them on here and tell my readers about the experience I was having. Suddenly I had a reply in my inbox about ten minutes after I had written my email. They asked me, rather discourteously, to not make them seem like a scam to my readers. They immediately gave me my money back and cancelled my membership.

Now, is Jewelmint (and the other associated Mint brand online stores) a scam? Not in the most traditional sense, no. But I did do some research and found other posts on online forums from girls who hadn’t noticed, for months, the charges to their credit cards from Jewelmint. One girl had $120.00 charged to her card without her consent and she wrote that Jewelmint was flat out refusing to refund her money. Yes, she could have opted out. But when this language is buried in the fine print of a membership agreement, I think we can all agree they’re basically hiding these charges from their “members.” Furthermore, charging people’s credit cards in order to “help” them shop seems a bit devious. No other online retailer that I have ever come across does this. And I think we can all agree that having to opt out of this charge in the first five days of every month certainly doesn’t make our shopping experiences, much less our lives, any easier.

So there you have it. My personal recommendation is to stay away from Jewelmint and their associated Mint stores. The really sad thing about all of this is that I like their jewelry. I like the prices too. If they just didn’t have this terrible policy of furtively charging people I would be happy to continue shopping there. As it is, I won’t ever buy another piece of jewelry from them. I’m just happy to have finally gotten my refund.

Oh, and a word of advice–if you get sucked into something like this, dispute the charges with you credit card provider. Oftentimes they will fight on your behalf and get your money back. But never just accept charges like this. You have a right to be respected as a consumer.

The second thing I want to mention to you all is what happened to me on the sub-reddit “Female Fashion Advice“. If you’re not a Redditor, feel free to skip this. If you are, and particularly if you came to my site via the FFA thread, I’d love for you to continue.

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