Treat yo self

Shortly after Graham’s first birthday, I started feeling really down, and I realized that was due in large part to the fact that I hadn’t done much to take care of myself in a while. The first year of his life was all about survival; since we made it through that first year and, dare I say it, things had gotten a bit easier, it became clear that I needed to get back to taking care of me.

Now, money certainly doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy a few pick-me-ups to make a girl feel good. Here are a few things that have done wonders for my soul and self-esteem lately.

Treat Yo Self: Claremont Road blog

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette
I actually bought this a while ago, but it is the self-gift that keeps on giving. I’ve never been much of a makeup girl, because I’ve never really been great at knowing what makeup looks right on me. I heard enough people rave about this thing that I decided to give it a whirl, and it’s a really great palette that makes it fun (and pretty fool-proof) to do my eye makeup. I definitely don’t wear eye shadow every day, but I wear it more often now that I have this.

Blakeley boots
Early last winter began my search for the perfect riding boot. The pair I had were about five years old and not looking so great, and the leather was stretched out enough that I didn’t thing it was worth having them resoled if they still wouldn’t be a great fit. I sure love Frye boots, but couldn’t stomach the price tag, so I looked around for a pair that would be less than $200 with the same timeless look. I ordered several pairs from Zappos, but unfortunately none of them quite hit the spot — most were too loose around my calves. Then my mom told me that the Blakeley boots I had pinned on Pinterest were on sale at Lands’ End, I ordered them in Cognac, and the stars had finally aligned — they were perfect! I pretty much wore them every day over the winter, and they put a little pep in my step each time I put them on. I’ll surely be wearing these for several more winters to come.

Wacoal bras
Being professionally fitted for a bra is one of the greatest things a new mom can do for her self esteem. I go to a local shop called Gie Gie every few years to get measured, and most recently went a few weeks ago (and left feeling like a new woman). It turns out I have a brand that fits me perfectly, Wacoal, so now there’s no more guessing when I’m in need of new bras. If you’ve never been professionally fitted (i.e., at a place where they know what they’re doing, NOT Victoria’s Secret), go. Do it. Now!

Stitch Fix
Since the baby weight is mostly gone but my old clothes are looking a bit sad and drab, I’ve been in need of some new wardrobe staples and a few statement pieces to spruce things up and feel like a stylish member of society again. A friend referred me to Stitch Fix, and after receiving my first Fix last week, I’m officially hooked. The things I love most about it are that you don’t need to subscribe — you can schedule a Fix whenever you want, and only pay the styling fee once you’ve scheduled one — and that I’m being introduced to pieces that suit my taste and figure but may not be things that I’d pick out in a store if I saw them on the rack. You can keep as many or as few pieces as you want, and send back the rejects in the prepaid envelope included with your Fix. As long as you keep at least one of the five pieces that are sent to you, your styling fee is applied to your final purchase, so you can’t lose. I kept three of the five pieces that I received so far, and I’ve tweaked my style profile to better reflect my sizes so my next Fix is even better.

What have you done lately, in the words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, to treat yo self?

return of the favorite dress

Remember this Anthro dress?

It quickly became a favorite of mine, and it’s super versatile, in addition to being extremely comfy. I even wore it for some fancy new company photos a few months ago.

photo by my biz partner and friend, Maggie

Well, it’s now available in two more prints (and a solid, though I really didn’t like the last solid I tried on in this style). I’m pretty sure this pretty little one has to be mine.

Gathered Hemlock dress in orange

in the bag

I have been on the hunt for the “perfect” everyday bag for a while now. Something in gray or brown leather, perhaps…not too big, but not too small…simple without a lot of flashy hardware, but still interesting/classic/pretty…not super expensive, but maybe a little bit of a splurge considering how badly I’ve been wanting something new.

I’ve been carrying the same pewter Nine West bag since Nick got it for me for Christmas 2007 (I had asked for it…and sent him a photo and the location where he could find it at Macy’s, naturally). It is a great size — not so big that I feel like I’m carrying everything I own, but big enough that I can throw in my camera and small sketch book with everything else in there — and it has just enough hardware to be interesting but not so much that I feel like J.Lo. It has served its purpose and been a great everyday bag, but it is now looking shoddy as the straps are falling apart, so it’s about time that mama got a new bag.

I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for months now, but really haven’t found anything I love. Until…I visited the glorious world of Zappos. (I won’t tell you how long I spent one evening looking at every. single. bag. on that site.) I’m not really into needing big names and although I saw some gorgeous bags from Kate Spade, Michael Kors, etc., right now I can’t justify $300+ for a bag that isn’t 100% me. I did find about four contenders for Perfect Bag 2011 that were under $175, the max I wanted to spend, so that was a great start. Zappos has free shipping and a great return policy, but I still didn’t want to go overboard, so I finally narrowed it down to two bags.

Lucky Brand Leather Stash Bag in Vintage Brown – $168.00

Fossil Modern Cargo Top Zip in Grey – $78.75

I ordered these last Wednesday, they were on my doorstep on Friday, and I immediately fell in love with the Lucky bag. The leather is a gorgeous, rich brown (and it smells good…what, is that weird that I like to smell my purses?), it’s a great size, and it has some nice stitching details to make it interesting without being weighed down with hardware. I like the Fossil bag alright, but it was touted as a bag with both a shoulder strap and a removable cross-body strap, yet the removable strap is really too short to look right if worn cross-body. And, while the size is perfect and I like the warm grey color, it’s just not all that pretty. Of course it was less than half the price of the Lucky bag, but still, I don’t love it, so it’s heading back to Zappos soon.

I am pretty excited to put all my stuff in my new bag and start carrying it around town. Ah, it’s the simple things in life with me…

Do you have a bag that you love, or are you picturing something in your head that you just can’t seem to find anywhere?

what I wore: four seasons, one closet, endless recipes for personal style

I’m so excited that Jessica Quirk‘s What I Wore book will be out soon! I’ve learned a lot from the style tips she posts daily on her blog, but I still always seem to have a hard time knowing what basics should be in my closet and at-the-ready for whatever may come my way. I look forward to getting my hands on her book when it hits shelves in August. Until then, it’s available for pre-order!

image via

victory is sweet

Thank you all for the sweet comments of commiseration and encouragement on my last post. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, though disappointing that shopping can be such a source of frustration for so many of us!

My journey to Anthropologie was postponed until Friday (thanks to about a centimeter of snow that made traffic come to a screeching halt on Thursday evening), but it was a major success when I finally got there! Thanks in part to a generous gift card from a lovely friend and my mom who treated me with some early Christmas gifts (and who also likes to live vicariously through my wardrobe), I was able to pick up a few beautiful things.

my loot, via Anthropologie

I also picked up these shoes at DSW that I am totally in love with and they are a great neutral that will go with a bunch of things! (They’re more of a brownish-olive-gray and much cuter in person, but I’m biased.)

Franco Sarto Expo in Smoke Lux

It’s funny — over the last several years I have learned that it’s better to buy a few key, quality pieces than a bunch of cheapie items, but for some reason I hadn’t been heeding my own advice. I thought I’d cut corners and avoid Anthro at first, but now I know that will get me nowhere (and probably result in tears). Never again, I say. NEVER AGAIN!

My friend Maya suggested working with a personal shopper sometime (complimentary at Anthropologie, J.Crew and Nordstrom, to name a few!) and that’s a great idea I will take advantage of the next time I need a wardrobe refresh and I’m feeling a little lost. While I didn’t have time to schedule that last week at Anthro, the women working in the fitting room were so helpful with their styling suggestions, which is not something you get everywhere. Overall, I’m a happy camper.

Now that I found my good shopping juju, I’m sending lots to all of you!

and then, there were tears

Shopping has always been an adventure in extreme hits or misses for me. Certain seasons/styles mean everything I try on works great with my shape and is an immediate keeper, while other seasons, it seems as if nothing is made to fit my body type or suit my taste and I can’t help but feel incredibly frustrated.

The other day I spent 3.5 hours at the King of Prussia mall with my mom, searching for a cute holiday outfit or two and maybe some new jeans and sweaters to refresh my wardrobe for winter. And what did I leave with? Nothing. Nada. ZILCH. We tried dresses at Lord & Taylor and Macy’s, perused LOFT, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, Fossil, and a few shops in between. Either the things I liked were ill-fitting, or I simply didn’t see anything I liked.

cute on models…notsomuch on me.
That sweater was basically down to my knees when I tried it on.

By the time we got to Nordstrom’s dress department, the tears of frustration finally came out. I felt ridiculous — 30 years old and crying in a department store over SHOPPING, of all things! — but I couldn’t help it. I work from home and wear sweats most days, and my default jeans-and-boots whenever I leave the apartment. I haven’t shopped a lot in the last few years (at least, not like I used to!) and I was really looking forward to picking up some new items with my hard-earned cash. I told my mom it felt like the stores wouldn’t even give me the opportunity to throw my money at them.

Maybe it’s just that the styles and trends out there right now are not my style, but it’s hard to believe that I couldn’t find a single thing worth buying in the second largest mall in the country. I did find one dress that I really liked at Lord & Taylor, but of course the one I tried on was a size too large and my size was nowhere to be found (nor can I find it online). Sigh.

Tonight, I’m going to venture to Anthropologie and see if they won’t let me throw some money at them. Please don’t disappoint, Anthro!!

Does anyone else feel like it is impossible to find anything you like when certain trends hit the stores? How do you end up creating a wardrobe that you’re happy with (without going insane)?

(As an aside: I do realize this is a “first-world problem.” In the grand scheme of life, my inability to find clothes I like is pretty insignificant :) But alas, it’s something I’m experiencing at the moment, and this is where I share my adventures in adulthood.)