Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Costume Idea!

It's fall and my kids are going back and forth on what to wear as a costume. I found this great idea on Pinterest. The original link is here. It was originally an idea for a girls tulle tutu but I love how it was done above for a witch costume. CMB is thinking about being a witch this year and this might just do the trick!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


CMB's horse is named Dancer. We bought him about 3 years ago when she outgrew the little pinto pony she had learned to ride on. He's about 15.3 hands and a registered quarter horse. For those who don't know, horses are measured in "hands" which are 4 inches each and they are measured from the withers (at the base of the neck) to the ground. Anyway, he's been pretty good and she's had 3 good hunt seasons on him. However, he developed some bad habits as CMB got more demanding and became a better rider. She also got busier when middle school started. Dancer lives on my parent's property about an hour from where we live. He started bucking people off, well, CMB and I specifically as we are the only 2 who ride him. He went to spend the summer with a trainer to see if some good old fashion discipline would help. CMB and I went to visit last weekend. He looks really good and she had a nice ride on him. Hopefully, things will improve when he comes home.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An Interesting Side Effect of the Capsule Wardrobe

I'm going to start right off by saying this isn't my closet. Although, I totally wish it was! I've posted in the past about trying to buy fewer, better clothes and stick to my defined style and colors. The interesting side effect is that you really don't want to buy stuff. I guess that's the point. I click around on web sites and flip through magazines but, if I already have the perfect navy turtleneck sweater, do I need 2 or 3 less than perfect ones? No. The hardest thing for me is re-training myself to look for clothes that really fit my style now that I have narrowed it down. I admit I love dresses and pencil skirts. There are times when I fill my on-line shopping cart or eBay watch list or dressing room with them. Then I look at them and remember, I can't wear heels at all anymore (severe arthritis in my ankle and big toe joint) and I think flats worn with pencil skirts and most dresses make me look dumpy. I know lots of people wear them and look great but I hate the way it looks on me. Same thing with button front blouses. In theory, I love the crisp look and style of a button front. In reality, I have narrow shoulders and they don't really fit right. Still, I long for them. It's been an interesting transition. My wallet thanks me and I love the ease of getting dressed and out the door in the morning so I plan to keep it up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not getting it done, J Crew

Ok, first off this is not a good picture but my computer is not performing well this morning. I just can't get over how, I guess the word is over, I am with J Crew. There was a time almost all my clothes came from there. I've thrown away the last several catalogues after a quick skim and a laugh. The super skinny models, the sloppy layered look, the messy hair and don't get me started on the dropped shoulder trend. All of this was visually off putting but the lack of lined dress pants, the increased costs and the declining quality are also a major factor. The last time I had the chance to walk into a brick and mortar store, I turned around and walked right back out. Really the final straw is the apparent demise of the School Boy Blazer, one of my staples. I wear a blazer almost every day in my business casual office. I have wool school boys for fall and winter and linen ones for spring and summer. I hate the popped collar on the Regent blazer and am not a fan of the Rhodes or Campbell either. The prices are higher and the fit isn't as good on me. I'm busy scouring ebay and snapping up school boys when I can. What do you think? Am I being to hard on the "Crew"?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ethically Source/Produced Clothing

As I learned more about "fast fashion" and started to re-focus on buying few but better items, I began to add learning about a companies production environment was like and including that in my calculations when looking for items. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Brooks Brothers is one company that is paying attention to this. They have a detailed description of their process and commitment on their web site here. They also just opened a new, expanded manufacturing space in Massachusetts.  A commitment to ethical production and to production in the US and not oversees. Just another reason to love them! Brooks Brothers has long been one of my favorite places to shop, although I usually stalk items and wait for sales. As I re-focus on fewer and better things, this really has been working for me. Do you consider production when you shop?

Friday, September 18, 2015

In Which I Embrace Printed Pants

I was always a dark, solid pants person. Navy, black, the occasional glen plaid maybe, but nothing printed or bright. I know that printed slim pants have been around a while but I have only recently jumped on the band wagon. My shift on only flat shoes have had something to do with this. I tend to wear mine with a pointed toe loafer or flat and either a round neck top or turtleneck and a blazer. That's my new uniform but I'm experimenting with some slightly different pants to mix it up.
 It's really hard to tell but these are from Brooks Brothers and a very dark navy or black (I can't really tell) and have a small, subtle brighter blue foulard print on them. They almost look like a man's tie.

These I think I have posted about before. Also, Brooks Brothers. They are so great! I was nervous about buying them as they were my first toe dip into printed pants but I love them. I also have a gray windowpane plaid pair of Sloan slim ankle pants from Banana Republic which I couldn't get a good picture of. I wore them to work this week with a dark green Tippi sweater and a dark green blazer. I think the key has three parts. First, quality trousers. They shouldn't look cheap or shinny. Second, I always try and pair them with a conservative top. The busier/crazier the pants, the more conservative the top. This goes for shoes too. Third, I'm sticking with conservative prints too. Not wild floral prints. It's working for me and I quite like it. It allows me to feel fashion forward and safe at the same time. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Almost Fall!

I think fall is one of my favorite seasons, not that we get a lot of season in the Bay Area. But the feeling of fall is the same. The light is a little different, even the sunshine feels quite, a little sad. I went to college at Fairfield University in Connecticut and the fall was so beautiful there. I miss it every year. Still, there are a few leaves turning on the trees outside my house, the evenings come quicker and there is a nip in the air. Time for fires, pumpkin spice, quilted vests and boots!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It had to be ME!

I don't have a good picture for this one but felt like writing it. I've been feeling like I was caught in a spiral lately, not a good thing. I turned 45 at the end of June and suddenly felt like I'd accomplished nothing. If I were a cliché, I'd be driving around in a red porche! I kept looking at web sites and shopping trying to find the perfect thing that would make me happy. Surely if I had the right clothes and makeup I'd be happy? Maybe if I lost 10 pounds (not going to happen while I was visiting the office vending machine every afternoon) then I'd be happy? Then, after a lot of thought, and a very good yoga class, I realized that only I could make me happy. If I want to lose weight, I can. My clothes are great and I don't need to buy more. I'm the compliance director at a hedge fund, so I'm pretty sure I'm not stupid. It was like a light bulb and a huge weight falling off my back. It seems silly now, like that should have been evident to me. But it wasn't, but now it is.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pretty Puppy

I love spring spaniels. Growing up we had a couple but the one I remember best was named Ruffles and I got him as a present for my 16th birthday. He didn't have beautiful long feathers like this guy above but these short, tuffty ones which is how he got his name. He was super sweet and went every where with me through high school and when I would be home from college. He loved to ride in the car and swim in the ocean. We are currently without a dog and it's a little sad. Both hubby and I work full time and we have three school aged kids. It's just not the right time. But some day that time will come again and I'll be searching out another springer to keep me company!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Rare Sighting

It's very hard to get all three of my kids to smile for the camera at the same time. Frankly, it's not easy to get all three of my kids in the same place at one time unless they are asleep or eating. However, we were at a family wedding last weekend and I managed to grab this one for a status up date. From right to left, AGB is almost 15 and a freshman in high school. He's baseball crazy as you would guess if you could see that's what is on his tie. In the middle is CMB, she's 12 and in the 7th grade. Still playing lacrosse, soccer, the flute and running cross country. Finally, the boy in the bow as we call OPB. He's also 12 (yes they are twins) but he's in the 6th grade. It's a very long story, perhaps the subject of another post. OPB is into fencing, chess and plays the violin. So there you go, a rare sighting of all three kids, in the same place, at the same time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Capsule Wardrobe

I've always been drawn to the idea of a capsule wardrobe. It seems easy and time saving as well. Trouble is, after a while I always got bored. Or distracted by something I saw on line or TV and before you knew it, I'd veered off course. Recently, however, I've been working to refine, update and streamline my closet and my life and the capsule is back. I found the blog The Vivienne Files and this great post about capsule wardrobes. It's based on a book called Ma To-Do List by Jeanne-Aurore Colleuille and Laure Gontier and has 3 main points.

1. Dictate your rules: This defines what you want and how you see yourself. Short sleeves? Dresses, flats? Think of this as your personal style rules and then eliminate anything in your closet that does not fit. My personal style rules are trousers (preferably ankle length and slim), round  neck tops, blazers and flat loafer style shoes. This is a switch for me from pencil skirts, cardigans and heels. The switch was mainly driven by 2 things. First off I have a bone spur and arthritis in my foot which makes walking in heels, even low ones unendingly painful. Second, I am the compliance director at a hedge fund in the Bay Area and the only woman in upper management as well as the youngest person. Somehow the cardigan and skirt look, just didn't work. This feels more authoritative.

2. Work on your coordination: A variety of colors, tops and bottoms that are impossible to coordinate, shapes and materials without a common ground: these are the enemies of the ideal wardrobe. At the base of the “capsule wardrobe” is a simple idea (and yet we apply it rarely!): everything should go with everything else, so that you can get dressed with your eyes closed. Think of this as a sort of grown up "granimals". I'm probably dating myself with that reference but that's how I think of it. My core colors are navy and gray. I accent with white, hunter green and camel.

3. Choose your signature piece: This is the part that makes it you. Do you love bangles? Scarves? Hats? Pick what pleases you and what you feel the most "you" in and go with it. For me there are 2 main one. First is pearls. I almost always wear the pearl and gold knot earrings my grandparents gave me for my high school graduation, the pearl necklace my parents gave me for my college graduation and the gold and pearl ring that was my mother-in-laws that my husband gave me at our wedding. I sometimes alternate with the gold and pearl necklace my father gave me on my wedding day. Second, I love brooches and have a collection of vintage ones that belonged to my grandmother and great grandmother. They look great on the various blazers I wear.

What do you think? Do you embrace the capsule look? Or are you more free ranging? Which suits you best and why?