Written summer 1858, on the last sheet of Fascicle I.
We lose – because we win –
Gamblers – recollecting which –
Toss their dice again!
Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer, the sun shines higher in the sky, and the world feels like it’s smiling on me when I go outside. Even though temperatures here are still flirting with freezing, I’m ready. I feel the energy, the spark, the excitement of spring – this time when the world comes back to life, people leave their homes, and the outdoors become as comfortable as indoors.
I adore this time of year, and it’s making me want to gallivant around in multi-colored tank tops and sundresses. The weather won’t permit this, however, so I’m left to find a way. I want color. I want lighter materials. But I still have to be warm; this pleated skirt provides the perfect solution. I’ve had it for years, but pleats are hot right now, so I guess it’s better than ever.
I can still wear it with boots and my super warm tights if I need to, but it has the flirty, floaty spirit of spring time.
Originally a dress, I didn’t like the drape of it, so I tucked in the straps and made myself an adjustable waist.
I used to use safety pins, but I got sick of undoing and redoing them every time I took it on or off, so I found two buttons from another shirt I was getting rid of and a little black ribbon from one of those superfluous loops sewn into the shoulder of a shirt, whipped out my mini sewing kit, and sewed it all together.
I can tighten or loosen it depending on how I want it to hang and how much I’ve eaten or what time of day it is, which I love – I wish clothing companies made adjustable waist clothing for adults like they do for kids.
I wear it with the closure in the back because I like the way it hangs, but sometimes – in warmer weather especially – I’ll turn it to the side or over my hip. So versatile, I love it – I’ve even worn it as a dress over a bathing suit! The length is perfect – just in the middle of my calves. Green is one of my favorite colors, and this olive color goes with everything. Since it’s still cold, I’m rockin black, but once the flowers start blooming I’ll get crazy.
If you want a pleated skirt of your own, go to Zara, H&M, Forever 21 – really I see these everywhere, it’s just a matter of finding one that suits you. Or, if you have a dress that isn’t quite right, try folding the top under and wearing it as a skirt – it might become your new favorite thing.
Love, calm, & care –
Who doesn’t want to leave the house in sweatpants? You’re lying if you don’t – they’re a dream. And aren’t we lucky, they’ve somehow become stylish. Personally, I am all in on taking advantage of it. I found this pair at Forever 21 for just ten dollars, and the selection was ample. Jogger sweatpants are so hot right now you could find them at Wal-Mart in exactly the style and color that suit you.
I went for pink. It’s a nice 90s dusty rose kind of shade, which plays nicely with most of my clothes – blacks, burgundies, corals, oranges – and I generally prefer to wear black tops with funky bottoms, although I do have a couple more wild shirts like the brocade you see here.
As sweatpants, these are powerfully comfortable. They’re also versatile – just wait for the summer post. Still bangin. Here in Siberia, I do have to layer them with leggings or tights to stay warm, but can you even tell?
I’ve posted photos before of these paired with a pajama top – my cozy Christmas outfit. Here I’ve got three other options.
Start simple – these pants can sing, so let them. They rock well with a black t-shirt, boots, and a hat – perfect for when you don’t leave yourself enough time to get ready or just don’t feel like putting clothes on but have to go to work and haven’t washed your hair in far too long. This is the ultimate lazy person’s outfit.
Next we have this Victorian looking gem – a bit more elevated, like the next one. Something about the casual nature of sweatpants makes me want to class it up on top, and what says classy more than a high necked top made out of brocade?
If anything can top the brocade, it’s this sweater – classy as hell, right? Boots in all three of these outfits keep it grounded – comfy, but still utilitarian.
Comfort and class, united in three outfits – what could be better? Sweatpants are now acceptable attire for work, for school, for errands, for life outside the house – with a single caveat. Style them appropriately. If this didn’t help you on that front, I don’t know what will, so now that you’re equipped, bust out those sweats. I hear Chancho has an extra pair. Stay cozy.
Love, calm, & care –
I love wearing black in the winter. Excessive color just seems wrong to me this time of year – I take a cue from nature, and let the color fade out of my wardrobe, blanketing myself in cozy neutrals. It’s easy and comfortable, and makes getting dressed a breeze. One of my favorite winter pieces is my big black cocoon sweater.
I found it at a thrift store a few years ago – the tag says 22W, so it’s massively oversized, and that’s what makes is so ideal. I can layer a shirt underneath if it’s really cold, but, even in these subzero temps, that’s hardly necessary. It’s roomy and soft, like wearing a hug, and it works with any pair of leggings or skinny pants in my closet.
The sleeves hang low, giving it that safe cocoon feel, and the neck is fitted without being constricting. There’s a little zipper up the back to give it an extra bit of polish – zipping up a sweater feels far more fancy than just pulling it over your head.
I can throw on my loafers for a pedagogical look –
Or boots and leather leggings for a bit more swag –
Or if I just need to run out of my house to the market or something quick, it’s the easiest thing to reach for to be dressed in a hurry. Stay warm!
Love, calm & care –
I’ll let you in on something – I haven’t always adored being female. There are just so many rules! As a kid I ran around in my brother’s hand-me-down basketball shorts all morning and then had afternoon tea in a fake silk ballgown my mother stitched up, but the romantic comedies I watched and the novels I read told me that women needed men in order to be confident, whole people and that, above all else, we’re supposed to be pretty – devoting our lives to finding a mate. This didn’t jive with me even in my adolescence, so I wore ridiculous, ostentatiously feminine outfits – playing dress up everyday with high heels and makeup in an attempt to find clothes in which I actually felt like myself.
And this, my friends, is why I love androgyny – a blending of gender concepts and styles and feelings and traits that allows men to be emotional and women to be intelligent and all of us to wear whatever the hell we please.
Sometimes I feel like dressing like a boy. A boy who has my closet and my tastes and my figure. When the mood strikes, I’ll layer my black summer crop tops over button downs for a comfy boyish sweater vest look. I just love it, and there’s so much variety to be found within it, depending on how far I want to go – necklace or no, silky top or flannel.
I like to balance masculine and feminine elements, so I put the edgy leather leggings with the silky pajama top –
The lumberjack flannel with the beanie, pencil skirt, and bulky boots –
And the sweet lilac suede with simple black pants, a necklace, and my loafers –
People might do a double take when you step out like this, but so what? What really matters is that your clothes honestly represent who you are. Personally, I find it liberating.
What are your thoughts on this baby step into androgyny? Not for you? Down to try it?
Love, calm, & care –
Form and function, right? Well, where I currently live, the conditions are icy, snowy, subzero – like the winter x-games on my sidewalk. So I had no choice – I needed snow boots…or moon boots…or, as I’ve been affectionately calling them – moots!
Harbin boasts shopping malls not only on every corner, but underground, too. I stroll through one when I pass by now and then, and, upon finding one marked OUTLETS – I perused. I have yet to find a thrift store here, but this place was the closest thing. First floor was all shoes, something like forty different vendors with different types of boots and sneakers.
It was love at first sight.
I didn’t try them on, but I did think about them all week. I like to step back before making a purchase – give myself at least 4 days to think about it, let it simmer, mentally match it with everything I own. And if it sticks – it sticks for many good reasons, and, budget permitting, I proceed. These only cost the equivalent of 13USD, but as far as I can tell they’re great quality. #MADEINCHINA. Lined with fake fur, they are cozy and comfy.
I’ll admit that these are not as orthopedic as I like my shoes to be, but, given the harsh conditions out here, I had to compromise. I do have a slice of Dr. Scholl in there, and that makes a difference.
What I love about these – they look sleek, even futuristic. Black goes with everything, but the words on the back add somethin special. I love that the word is love – that sealed the deal for me. All the tread on these acts as a platform, too, which, since I don’t much wear heels, is a fun boost.
I’ve worn these all week, and I haven’t slipped on ice once. Mission accomplished.
Love, calm, & care –
It’s the holidays – the most wonderful time of the year. Parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, caroling out in the snow, etc, etc. But why do we care, and what does one wear?
Of course we all like to look festive for Christmas parties, throwing on sequins and red dresses – really doing ourselves up. I went to a couple events, and, for the first big buffet I went for a big high-waisted skirt. I found it at a thrift store a couple years ago, and sewed two snaps in the waistband, so it’s expandable. It’s a great deal of material, so I save it for special occasions or when I’m in a particularly flashy mood, but I find that I wear it most around the holidays. I keep it simple with black, my necklace, and my tall boots. A bold lip sets the whole thing off. It’s simple, comfortable, but still interesting enough to merit complements at a holiday party.
The holidays are a big time – a series of days with high expectations attached. Expectations are a sure-fire way to set yourself up for disappointment, so why do we always insist on having them? Why is it that Christmas must be the most wonderful time of the year? Supposedly you’re with the people you love most, giving and receiving a few thoughtful gifts, eating delicious foods, and all laughing and wearing santa hats like you’re living the reality of whatever Christmas card you sent out. But what actually happens on Christmas, and why are we celebrating?
To many people, Christmas is nothing more than a chore – a day to be around people you call family by blood, not by choice – to eat and drink and try to be merry, to give and receive gifts that not much thought were put into, to attempt to enjoy each other’s company. For others, it’s a break in the monotony of everyday life – something to look forward to, a day to set aside for nothing – for fun. A day to be calm, relax, socialize with people whose company you enjoy, and forget about the rest. We throw parties because we can – here in China no one knows what Christmas means or where it originates – stores put Santa Claus stickers in their windows, and people use the day as an excuse to have a party, to go shopping – to treat themselves. Because they need a reason.
It began as Saturnalia – a week-long pagan festival of debauchery, something like The Purge movies – where anything and everything was indulged, and a human sacrifice set it all right at the end; gingerbread cookies started as human shaped biscuits to symbolize the human sacrifice. If you’re curious to know more, I read through this page and found it fascinating. But then Jesus came – supposedly the ultimate [human] sacrifice. He was born, and Christians placed his birth on this day – somewhat arbitrarily – in an attempt to redeem the pagan holiday. Then it became an excuse to persecute Jews – a day to mock them for being wrong about the messiah’s arrival.
Growing up, we always read the Christmas story straight out of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and celebrated the whole thing as a day of hope – a day when, as the Christian band Point of Grace pointed out on a Christmas album we played every year – love came down. Regardless of why we celebrate, I hope we can all latch on to that phrase. Whatever or whoever love is to you – let it come today. Let it be a day to give, to enjoy, to embrace – to extend love to those you might not naturally extend love to. And let that pervade your daily existence. I think that’s the true spirit of Christmas, and what is there to lose by practicing it? It can bring joy all year round, and it doesn’t even require the trees or the presents or the feasts.
Feasts are a blast, though, and I really got to go HAM this weekend. I took time to care for my body in between meals with a 20 minute yoga vid especially for holiday meal digestion – it’s a gem, especially with all this rich food. For the Christmas day festivities, I wore dressed up pajamas – a second buffet within 24 hours required an elastic waist, and this top literally came from a pajama set at Target. I’ve been incredibly comfortable for games and meals, and I look cool to boot – at least I think so, and that’s what makes it true.
What do the holidays mean to you? What do you like to wear for a party or a day of opening presents? Please comment down below, and enjoy your holiday!
Love, calm, & care –
Guess what? I live in China now. I’ll post about my apartment, the Siberian cold, and all that jazz later, but for now – how do I travel? I like to streamline, so in any packing situation I try to take as few things that will serve me in as many ways as possible. I checked my bags, so I challenged myself with filling my little backpack effectively. When you’re facing 17+ hours of flight time, you gotta consider entertainment, hygiene, nourishment, and, of course, comfort.
I’m not a huge magazine reader in general, but when I’m waiting to board a flight or only mentally awake enough for something small, a magazine is just the thing. This issue of The Economist is bangin, and is educating me on current events around the world from a perspective I’ve always loved and understood.
I love the feeling of a novel in my hands, but, given overseas move, I had to give in and get a kindle. It took me a minute to get used to it, but now I love it – it’s convenient, has that flat screen that doesn’t punish your eyes, and makes underlining and looking up words a breeze. I started Hesse’s Demian on the flight, have since finished it, and, as usual am impressed by Hesse’s wisdom. I could say a lot more about him as a writer, but I’ll leave that for another post. If you want a coming of age novel that is grounded in reality but isn’t afraid to get wacky, this would be a good choice.
When it comes to books, I always like a sampling – poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. A good friend got me that copy of e e cummings’ poetry in Paris, and I take a juicy bite out of that every now and then. My other constant companion is my pocket Emily Dickinson. Both of these poets require a a little chewing and have pretty short poems, so they’re perfect when you need a quick burst of flavor. I haven’t begun Wages of Rebellion yet, but it’s a history of revolutions around the world, so I’m amped about starting it.
The long flight had a fantastic selection of movies, and I watched Citizen Kane, Suited – a documentary about Bindle & Keep, a custom suiting company with a focus on fitting the growing trans population, and a Ted talk on the Chinese Zodiac. I wanted to watch All the President’s Men, too, but sleep overtook me.
Fold-up, noise cancelling headphones are a must, and I brought my laptop, too – it’s light, and I didn’t want it getting flung around in my checked luggage. And, of course, I don’t go anywhere without my notebook and pen. I got this notebook at The Strand in New York a couple months ago, and the cover is so soft.
Flights make me feel gross. So these are my tools to combat that – cleansing water, dry shampoo, unscented lotion and deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. I also had chapstick in my pocket. Taking a minute to cleanse between flights really makes a difference for my mood. Call me crazy, but I just hate walking around with that layer of greasy recycled air on my face all day. And it’s still serving me well because Delta lost my baggage, and I spent two full days with nothing but this backpack.
I like a sleep mask, too, because you never know when they’ll turn the cabin lights on, or if the person next to you won’t close the window. All this fits perfectly in a little travel case from a United business class flight that a friend of mine took.
I pack as much food as I can when I’m out because I never like to be caught without a snack, and, since I can’t eat dairy, my options can be limited. I brought apple slices and a mix of nuts and seeds and, of course, water. I also brought chocolate, because I’ve been raised as a human woman. They served a lot of food on the flight, and my body was confused and I ate at such weird times, but I think it went as well as it could.
Black is my favorite, especially in the colder months. Don’t tell anyone, but all my underwear is blush pink and lacey! It’s a fun secret. I like to be able to move freely with nothing pinching my body parts, but I also don’t like to look schlumpy.
A turtleneck keeps my neck warm, black jeans are roomy and fitted at the same time, scrunched down over-the-knee socks warm my ankles and keep the jeans from bunching at my knees, Clarks loafers are beautiful and oh-so-orthopedic. I layered with my beanie, scarf, and cashmere sweater because I like to wear blankets and call it style.
Time keeping is essential, so I wear a watch that I take off during flights. I don’t wear much jewelry ever, so I wore my only pair of earrings and a couple rings as I would any other day.
A good night’s sleep and a morning workout have bolstered me against jet lag, and, sitting in my very own apartment with my view of Harbin’s 20 story apartment buildings, I’m feeling ready.
Love, calm, and care –
Anxiety has become something of a buzzword, a catchall for freaking out. It manifests differently for everyone, and sometimes people blame their wild overreactions on it. I’m not one to say if they’re blowing the situation out of proportion or not – anxiety is real if you’re experiencing it. And it can feel overpowering.
Sometimes I feel fragile, brittle, fractured, like a pane of glass that’s just been shot but hasn’t fallen yet. Cracked in all directions, waiting only for a breeze, a breath, a look to clatter to the ground in a hundred little shards. I can be very sensitive to energies, and often it gets so overwhelming that I have to step away, breathe, just take a moment. This is one way that anxiety manifests for me. That feeling of fragility, accompanied by irrational fears that I’m losing control, spinning out of orbit, about to explode – that I can’t. Whatever it might be, sometimes the situation can overtake my rationale. And that’s a scary place to be.
Here’s how I deal with it –
So – next time you get anxious – stop. Breathe. Investigate. Feel. And find a way to get comfortable. Those steps might seem monumental now, but with practice it does become a little easier. Stay mindful – you’ve got this.
Style is fun. It’s wearable art. Any kind of art takes a certain knowledge of your self, your preferences – what colors belong on the palette? What are you painting on? What types of brushes do you prefer? These are the questions that must be asked when figuring out your style. I could write a whole essay on the case for having personal style, but put simply – don’t you want what people see to represent you accurately?
What do you want your painting – your art – your self – to look like? Some prefer garish prints and neon colors, while others enjoy muted tones with a focus on texture. Really the possibilities are endless. The two principles to consider, under which all others rest, are form and function.
Form should follow function. This was a principle of the architect Ansel Adams that always stuck with me because it makes sense – and his work is gorgeous, workably beautiful. I like to be comfortable in my clothing, but that doesn’t mean wearing sweats. The function of clothing is also make me feel incredible. A bomb outfit boosts the confidence. But it begins by feeling good in it. The two go hand in hand.
This is the visual aspect, the textures, colors, prints, silhouettes. It takes getting to know your coloring, body type, preferences. Do you look better in warm or cool colors? Solids or prints? I’ve done this through trial and error. I’m drawn to textures – I have velvet shirts, leather and wool skirts, a denim dress, silks, and all kinds of blends. I like clothes that hit my natural waist, calf-length skirts, backless anything, and fitted shoulders. With experimentation, I’ve found that shades of red belong both in my hair and in my wardrobe. Warm colors, olive greens, oranges, mustard yellows – rich, fall hues. I wear far more color in the summer than I do in the colder months. I like my accessories to be black and versatile. All my jewelry is gold, with various gem stones.
To figure this out for yourself, pay attention to what compliments people give you, to how you feel in various colors, etc. I once saw an episode of Scrubs in which Elliot returned a dress because she didn’t get three compliments on her first day of wearing it. This is excessive, but it’s worth noting that people don’t usually lie when they compliment you. And people notice when you feel good. Feeling good is the ultimate goal. And that leads us to…
I like to be comfortable, to be able to move freely. I like room around my waist because I don’t want to feel like I can’t breathe. Soft, luxurious fabrics feel nice against my skin. I have two bags – one backpack with sturdy straps, and one simple black cross body number. I have a shoe for every occasion, but only 4 pairs, all of which are comfortable and worn regularly. I wear the same pair of earrings every day and rotate through five rings. All of my clothes can be mixed and matched [part of why color palette is so vital]. Everything goes with everything. It makes getting dressed so much easier. But it’s still fun! Like when you were young and had a Barbie doll with a 4 piece clothing set that allowed for at least 10 outfits. That’s me every morning. And it gets fun trying to find all the combinations.
Notice what you feel comfortable in. Take into account your lifestyle, your daily activities. There’s no point having a closetful of sky high stilettos if you’re on your feet all day and rarely go out in the evening. They might be nice to look at, but it feels better to use everything you own, to make your wardrobe your own.
Another aspect of function is price. I like high quality, always have, but I’m forever on a budget. And maybe it’s my Jewish heritage, but I love a bargain. And I find some of my nicest pieces on clearance or at a thrift store. The hunt is part of the fun. I also customize things – little fixes here and there make pieces uniquely your own.
Style is important to me. Remember that the phrase, “Look good, feel good” is axiomatic; “Feel good, look good” rings just as true.