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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Power to the sweater dress!

Sweater/Dress: Gifted
Skinnies: Gap Outlet
Boots: Corso Como
Glasses: Warby Parker – Sinclair (just cause I haven’t reminded y’all in a while)

Remember? I told you I had more sweater dresses on the way! Actually, folks, this might be it for a while… but then again, I might be creating a trend out of this: a Minnesota(/Midwest)-based, potentially-scandinavian(-or-andean)-inspired, non-jacket-wearing, hot-mulled-whiskey-drinking trend out of…. THAT’S RIGHT–Sweater Dresses.

Hell, let’s make this a public call for mass wearing of the sweater dresses! If YOU wear a sweater dress, please tell me! I’ll link to it! And if you don’t have a blog, send me the picture and maybe I’ll even POST it (if I’m not lazy)! Because guest posts are awesome. Power to the street stylists!

And PS – About this pose (below): Rachel told me to do it. (But she also told me to pose for the cuter ones above. These things don’t come naturally, friends).

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…

Look Mom! It’s on sale!

Shirtdress: Anthropologie
Leggings: American Apparel
Sandals: J. Crew

Readers, I have such a hard time, when stating that I’ve bought things at Anthro, American Apparel, or J. Crew, not adding immediate parentheses afterwards making it VERY clear that I bought them ON SALE. SALE, I tell you! Not only does it feel so satisfying to purchase a great get on sale, but I have to add that with TWO of us in my household living on ONE non-profit salary (B is a med student, and yes, you now know that I work at a non-profit), I can’t very well afford buying things at full price. I just wanted you to KNOW this.

Now that I have that off my chest…

We have had such beautiful weather in Minneapolis this week that I almost started taking it for granted (ALMOST! Minnesotans NEVER take a beautiful day for granted!). It was still a nice enough day, but overcast and cooler, enough to make me long for one or two more heat waves before the summer ends. But this outfit was a nice way to still feel summery while giving the gams the extra warmth they needed. Lovely.

Lesson of the Day: Check to make sure my leggings are pulled down to the same length before taking photos. Check photos before ending photoshoot. (For pity’s sake!).

summer scallops

Dress: a gift, two years ago
Boots: Shoegasm, NYC
Bag: Thrifted
Glasses: Warby Parker Sinclair

And it begins with summer scallops! This dress is one of my go-to favorites, always so pretty and so easy. One hour before taking this picture, I was mowing the lawn. But don’t I look so breezy in these photos? It’s all thanks to the dress, my friends.

The scallops are also thanks to some inspiration from The Other Emily‘s scallop shorts. I desperately want to make a pair, but wasn’t able to in time for my and Mandi‘s 30 day challenge–and who knows how warm Minnesota will be once these 30 days are up? So the shorts may have to wait until next year–but until then, at least I still have the dress!

And finally, still jonesing on my big decision, I decided to wear my glasses one last time before sending this (sample) pair back to Warby Parker. The new (prescription) pair should arrive in about ten days!

PS – Don’t you just love dresses with pockets?!