High drama

Top: Macy’s
Jeans: Gap
Flats: Boden
Scarf: Otavalo Market, Ecuador

 It’s always the best day when your shirt matches the car in the background. I planned that, guys. Srsly.

I discovered how silly I am when I first organized this outfit with corduroys, took the pictures with Mandi, went home, uploaded them to my computer, decided I HATED THOSE PANTS, decided I should stick it out anyway, edited the photos, showed them to Brian, decided again I HATE THOSE PANTS, decided to stick it out anyway, decided not to after all, changed into the pants pictured (do you recognize them?), and made Brian take new photos. This is the life of an insecure fashion blogger, friends. Good thing I liked the shirt!

Bring out the mukluks

Boots: Mukluks. Yup.
Mittens and Skirt: J. Crew
Shirt: Gap (Men’s)

It is SO FLIPPING COLD in Minneapolis right now that just LOOKING out the window makes me shiver. So no, these photos are not from today. And my outfit for today will likely be taken indoors, so as not to freeze off my fingernails.

But the cold does give me a good opportunity to break out the Mukluks and the long underwear (which yes, I am wearing today) and the turtleneck sweater just to show all you warm-weather folks what true endurance is all about: it is about below-zero temperatures in the shortest of days, about sleeping with a hot water bottle and wool socks and extra blankets and still not feeling warm enough, about scraping ice from the windshield, arriving at your destination before the car has even warmed up (or coordinating the time you leave the house so as to perfectly minimize the minutes spent waiting for the bus), and about not having to wear blush because the wind provides you with flush enough. And after all that, STILL loving where you live.

Doesn’t that make you want to move to Minnesota?! Tomorrow when I’m in a better mood, I’ll tell you all about the wonderful winter things we do here in the North Star State, like having art galleries in ice houses. But for now, I’m going to go ahead and throw myself a pity party tonight. 😉

 

Winter in Minne

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Hat: J. Crew (gift)
Silk top: J. Crew (also a gift!)
Pants: Target
Puffy coat: Marc Jacobs via Opitz, 2009
Booties/Wellies: Thrifted

And friends… we’re back! Mandi has talked me into a Winter 30-for-30. This time around, we have a new camera, a new season, and a whole new  wardrobe (okay, you might recognize some a lot of pieces). Expect snow, pragmatic Midwestern outfits for below-zero temperatures, indoor photos, and gratuitous shots of my cat. It’s going to be awesome.

Also in the works? I have a few long-awaited guest posts coming up, including one from my boss, entitled: “How to make change at the state capitol by dressing like a non-profit lobbyist” (or something to that effect) in which you may learn more about what I DO in life (aside from chronicling my daily outfits 60/365 days of the year).

And of course, I have to tell you which 30 items I have chosen to wear over and over again in the coldest of Minnesota seasons. Yes, it’s gearing up to be a thrilling month! Hold on to your sleds!

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My lessons learned

Friends, the time has come for my reflections on this whole 30-for-30 challenge. Let me start by saying THANK YOU! You all are so sweet for reading along and supporting me throughout this whole project. Many of you have already heard some of my thoughts on this style blog endeavor in person, but I’m excited to share some of them with you in writing here.

I’ve also put together a collection of all my outfits so you can see them at once, and if you’re interested, you can go back and view my original post with all the 30 items. (The post also explains the purpose of the challenge, if you’re new to this blog and the style blogging world).

I suppose throughout this whole endeavor, what I’ve struggled with the most is WHY take one multiple pictures of myself every day and post them for the world to see. What’s the point? Am I being shallow? Is it just fun? Is there a deeper purpose to it?

So the biggest takeway I’ve learned is: #1. BE AUTHENTIC. Be authentic to my body, and to who I am. All of us, whether or not we take pictures and post them to the interwebs, get dressed for an audience and make a statement with what we wear. Our appearance is fundamental to human interaction. So in a way, creating a blog for myself is a way to be mindful of how I’m appearing to colleagues, friends, and strangers. Am I projecting the message I want to? What IS the message I want to project? Being clear with myself about who I am and how I want to look is the first step toward creating an authentic style.

Also, turns out that I am authentically a person who loves fashion blogs. So I’ll do what I do, and I’m ready to accept this fact about myself, shallow or not. I don’t need to not have a fashion blog, in order to prove to myself that I’m smart.

Most authentic outfits: #16, #11.

#2. Be intentional. The second most important lesson I learned over these 30 days is that I can do a lot with a little. As the month wore on, I discovered I liked (and disliked) certain pieces more than others, and it became a challenge to figure out how to wear the less-than-favorite pieces. Playing with those items and mixing them up in ways that would have never occurred to me before breathed new life into my wardrobe.

I’ve also learned since ending the 30 day challenge that I’ve liked the outfits from my reduced closet BETTER than when I’ve had access to my entire wardrobe. Dude, I get L-A-Z-Y! So, being mindful and intentional about what I’m wearing and how I’m wearing it not only yields better results, but I feel better wearing those outfits.

Outfits where I was most intentional: #30 and #6

#3 Take risks. For better or worse, we learn by taking risks. Whether I was happy with the results or not, I was able to learn from my risks and bring that knowledge with me into future outfits. Accessories and styling are awesome–I love how outfits 10 & 29, and 13 & 27, are so different from each other, even thought the base dress is the same. Were I to wear either dress simply, with little or no styling, it would look completely different all over again. I learned the most from having to re-work the dresses in my closet over the 30 days.

#4. Clear out the closet. Or: be selectively sentimental, and always seasonal.

Maybe you all remember my struggles with that damn black skirt, or those awful pink pants? Throughout the challenge, those were the two items I questioned the most. Still, one of the most pragmatic parts of having this blog was being able to toy around with each of those items and see, through an actual real lens, whether or not it was authentic and flattering. In the case of the skirt, I found some ways to make it work (outfits #14 and #30) but with the pink pants, outfit #26 clinched it. I hate those pants. They have now moved on to a better home.

#5. Be appropriate. I get a little jealous sometimes when I read the style blogs of either a) professional bloggers, b) students, or c) people who don’t live in the Midwest, because most have more latitude to wear stuff that I just can’t in my daily life. I do have a lot of room to be experimental, but there are lines that I just cannot cross in order to maintain a sense of professionalism. So one of my lessons learned from this challenge was that I can be creative while still maintaining appropriate workplace attire. And that’s pretty great.

So, what I would do differently? Well, this rule applies to almost everything else in my life, which is PLAN AHEAD. You might as well call my house Procrastination Station (hehe!) because I LOVE to procrastinate. Mandi, during this challenge, had a whole long list of something like 50 potential outfits she could wear! I, on the other hand, woke up every morning and stared blearily at what in my 30 items was still clean. Which leads me to: given another chance I would (maybe?) do LAUNDRY a lot more often. Outfit #26? Yeah, that happened–in addition to wanting to play with color–because the pants and top were two of three items in my closet that were even clean at all. Oops.

So thanks for playing, friends! I already have some other post-30 outfits to share in the next few days, so I’ll keep posting on and off!

Finally, as for my favorite outfits? Click through to find out…

The big number 30

Top: Target
Skirt: Thrifted
Belt: ModCloth
Boots: Corso Como
Tights: I never remember wear I bought my tights!
Scarf: A street vendor in Otavalo, Ecuador

 Huzzah, I finally figured this skirt out! For weeks I’ve been saying I’m not sure, it’s not quite right, I don’t love it… and the magic with this skirt was just to pair it with a fitted top. Remember when I wore it this first time? It just wasn’t right, but (today’s lesson learned) it was actually really fun to fiddle around with different options and finally come up with something I like! So unlike my pink pants, which was the other questionable item of my 30-for-30 challenge, I’ll definitely be holding on to this skirt a little while longer… with my added knowledge of how to style it very much intact.

Speaking of the challenge, this is my VERY LAST OUTFIT of the challenge! Go back and count ’em, I dare you. Okay, don’t. But I do have some thoughts and reflections on what I’ve learned, and am going to be doing a round up post of the entire challenge very soon. Also, while my posts might be slowing down, I’ll still be posting outfits, so don’t go away! And PS… I think Mandi and I will be doing another 30-day challenge in a few months. Wahoo!

A windy chambray day

Top: Target
Dress (worn as a skirt): Gap
Necklace: J. Crew
Shoes: Shoegasm
Bag: Thrifted

 This outfit is a prime example of something I never would have dreamed up had it not been for the 30/30 challenge. On the second-to-last day of the challenge, I stared hopelessly into my closet: the outfit I had wanted to wear was still in the laundry. I thought about this dress, but it was going to be a little cool, so I wanted to wear it with something. But my navy blazer wouldn’t do (I already wore it last time), my navy cardi was too similar to the blazer, and my yellow striped cardi was still dirty from camping. (I know, I don’t do laundry often enough.)

This chambray shirt announced itself and an idea formed… cinch my waist… by tying a knot with the shirt over the dress! Lesson learned: It was cute! It took me a little while to arrive at the idea, but once I got there, it was automatic. I’ll definitely be replicating the tied shirt rule now and again.

PS – It was super windy when Rachel took these photos for me. So below, is a bonus outtake of what I go through to provide you with only the best of my outfit shots. Apparently tousled-wind-hair is not universally flattering, haha! Enjoy! 😉

 

Floral ease

Top: Thrifted
Pants: Gap Outlet
Shoes: J. Crew
Necklace: Swapped

 Behold the ease of a simple outfit! It’s a strange thing to say, but at the end of this 30-for-30 remix challenge, I’ve been finding it easier to create a flattering, well-balanced outfit than at the beginning. In fact, I’ve finished remixing (I’m a few days behind in posting than in wearing), but I still have a number of leftover outfits in my brain! I guess you just have to make it over the hump, right?

So throwing on this outfit was something I might have considered unflattering for some reason before the challenge, but which by now, I am happy to wear it. The colors are bright and happy, pulled out by the red necklace and yellow shoes. I think it worked better to pair with brighter accessories than bright pants, don’t you?

Today’s lesson learned: Slow and steady wins the race! Persistance is awesome.
PS – Thanks to my friend Rachel for taking pictures!

 

Transitional wear

Dress: J. Crew
Cardi: Gap
Scarf: Swapped
Boots: Corso Como
Tights: I don’t remember
Belt: ModCloth

Friends, we are closing in on the end of the 30-for-30 remix! This is outfit #27, and as I write this post, I am wearing the final outfit of the challenge. Tomorrow I can begin to dive back into my regular closet again, and with a whole new season on the horizon, one can imagine that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

When Mandi and I started this challenge, we were still in the depths of summer, as demonstrated by the last time I wore this dress. It is such a summery dress–the material so light, the color so bright–that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to transition it very well when cooler temperatures showed up on the weather forecast. But despite its challenges, I like this outfit a lot, and (today’s lesson learned:) it shows how easy it can be to fashion a fall outfit out of even the flimsiest summer sundress. Add tights, a cardigan, scarf, and boots, and BADABING. You are ready for September, my friends.

PS – These pictures were taken on the rooftop balcony of moto-i , the first sake brewery outside of Japan. They also have some pretty bangin sushi. So if you’re ever in Minneapolis…

Say no to the pants

Top: ModCloth
Pants: J. Crew
Sandals: J. Crew
Necklace: Picky Girl

Okay, that’s it, these pants are going on gone.

I love the color–and that’s encouraged me to keep hanging on to them for over ten years (ten years!!!)–but the fit, the length, and the back flippy-pockets (which you can’t see) have tipped me over the edge from indecision. Being able to see myself in full-length photos helped me to finally make this decision. They’re tight in the wrong places, loose in other place, and while they’re cropped, they stop at the wrong point on my leg. But never fear! I will doubtless be adding colorful corduroys or jeans to my shopping list for fall!

Anyway, about the outfit. I thought it would be fun to pair two bright colors with a funky necklace, and I was right! The color combination is fun and playful, and I think the necklace adds some extra kick. But the style of the pants is a little too preppy for the look, and clearly I’m not psyched about the fit. Still, I like the idea–I’ll be trying again with a look like this before fall ends.

Today’s lesson learned: It’s okay to take risks! And also, it’s okay to part with a piece of clothing that’s been in my closet for so long. These pants have accompanied me since my sophomore year of high school–1999!–and there’s some nostalgia that unquestionably goes along with tossing out one of the oldest items in my closet. But no more. We’ve had a good run, pink pants! Hopefully you will live on happily in someone else’s closet.

Simple pleasures

Dress: Anthropologie
Sunglasses: A boutique in Durango, CO
Necklace: Swapped*
Shoes: Shoegasm

Inspired by how the color of my newly-swapped necklace matches so perfectly the dress I wore to a Colorado wedding, I decided to style this dress about as simply as possible. I tossed on my nude (to me) pumps, tied a low bun at my neck, donned a simple matching necklace, and I was ready to let the dress do the talking. I’m glad I did–in fact, I almost wish I had simpler (or no) sunglasses to keep them from adding too much to the outfit.

Today’s lesson learned: Sometimes keeping our accessories sparse is just the right accessory.

*I got this necklace in a clothing swap! Some friends all got together, brought clothing and accessories we no longer wanted, and took turns picking items. What was left over we donated. We had fun getting together and got some cute new stuff out of it, too!