Pumpkin Smuggler


Sweater: Greenwood by Ann-Marie Jackson; Aran Tweed by Donegal in blood red; my notes and modifications on The Dolman Experiment
Skirt: J. Crew felted wool mini; I'm kind of obsessed with this Joa skirt but bought the dress instead, and if I think this MSGM skirt is pretty boss as well
Boots: Manolo Blahnik; so this is the time of year to buy your expensive black boots because everything is on sale. My argument for buying a pair is below, along with my list of pics
Lips: Clinique A Different Grape

If you're looking to make an investment in a pair of shoes that, treated right, will last a very very long time (the boots in this photo were bought in January, 2001), January is THE month to do it. Below are just a sampling of really nice boots that are really much cheaper than they're worth. If you have the funds and you have the desire, buy yourself a pair of black boots. If this isn't the year when it's in the cards for you, please remember that the latter half of January is when you'll find the best deals of the year. For those of us who do not need another pair of black boots, enjoy the eye candy:

Edgy - Emmanuel Ungaro
Classic chunky-heeled Jimmy Choo
Equestrian-style Tod's
Stretch suede with a relatively modest stiletto from Giuseppe Zanotti
Excellent value from Loeffler Randall
Square-toe from Acne

Now for sweater talk: I feel that this sweater requires a certain amount of confidence to wear because it is anything but figure flattering. In fact, it's figure obliterating. So if you're not feeling pretty excellent on the inside, do not put this sweater on. I chose to wear it today because it's frickin' freezing outside and because I feel decently enough excellent. Also the mini skirt is a good counter balance to remind people I am not smuggling prize pumpkins in my sweater. Having said all that, I really like this sweater. I loved knitting it side to side because you don't often do that; I love the yarn; I love the finished shape on me as a counterpoint to so many of my other sweaters. I named it "The Dolman Experiment" because I had no idea if I ought to get within a mile of this type of sweater, but I now wonder if I might now eventually make a lighter-weight one for warmer weather. It's very easy, breezy, and it's definitely style-defining.


Emergency Preparedness


Sweater: Telluride Aran by Amy Herzog; Black Trillium Fibre Studio Pebble Worsted in Moon Shadow; my notes and modifications on Last Run
Jeans: DL1961 Florence coated jean in Barcelona; similar styles by Topshop, Calvin Klein, and Treasure & Bond
Blazer: Forever 21 asymmetrical coat; another Forever 21 option, this from Urban Outfitters which I might buy at $40, and if you like the color, but not the length, Forever 21 has you covered too
Shoes: Mossimo for Target but I got mine on sale and you should wait for a sale too; then, of course, there's always the original Frye model
Lips: Korres mango butter lipstick in nude PLUS Bobbi Brown high shimmer lip gloss in Hot

So I hear we'll be getting some weather! My original plan was to head into the office early, work there a half day, grab my computer, and head home before the worst. Since I was also mindful of the possibility of perhaps being stranded in my car or needing to be in the elements, I scrapped pencil skirts and stilettos in favor of -gasp- pants. I don't generally wear pants to the office, not out of any abhorrence of pants, but because I don't think I look as professional in pants as I do in a skirt, primarily due to body shape. Trust me, I would be over the moon if I could rock a pantsuit, but I can't because I'm hippy. So I chose the coated jeans as being "dressier" than regular jeans, went with a monochromatic top (also a raveler recently asked me a question about this sweater and I realized I hadn't worn it in a while despite loving it), and then still wanted something that would cover up the fashionable tightness of the pants across my rear. This Forever 21 blazer was featured on some fashion blog, or I saw it on pinterest, or something, and I impulse bought it (which is pretty easy to do at Forever 21 since everything is cheap). When it arrived, I wasn't crazy about it, but that was because I was trying to wear it closed (where it looks ridiculous). Open, however, is a different story and I actually like that it's a bit different both from my general palette and from my very tailored fit. It works equally well over a dress. I also barely did my hair (but as you can see this magic hair stuff makes it possible for me to not blow dry AND not look homeless - it's amazing), put on a minimum of makeup (pressed powder, bronzer, blush, lips (I just curled my lashes but didn't mascara them)), and decided to brave the roads.

And at first they weren't bad at all and I felt silly for my trepidation. Then, however, at about the halfway mark, I noticed that the problem for the moment wasn't snow, it was wind. The wind was already picking up enough to both blow the weekend's snow around, but it was also approaching the strength where it jiggles the car. I decided that I would chicken out at that moment: go to the office, pick up my laptop, and return home. There was no virtue, to my mind, in waiting around for several hours and possibly getting stuck indefinitely because my lovely front-wheel drive sedan is not cut out for blizzard driving.

So now I'm back at home with a cup of peppermint tea, a working and charging laptop, and for the time being electricity. Who knows how long that will last, but I thought a "business casual" post would be fun. To everyone affected by this round of winter nonsense: stay warm, stay safe, and let's all catch up on some knitting!


Same Same But Different


Sweater: Josefin by Elin Berglund; madelinetosh sport in moorland; my notes and modifications on Wood Nymph
Skirt: Alice + Olivia olive suede pleated skirt; similar styles and/or colors by Halston Heritage, Belstaff which I am deeply coveting, Torn by Ronny Kobo on final sale, and Rebecca Minkoff
Blazer: Jack Wills Austerberry blazer (very on sale!); similar styles at Ralph Lauren and Loft
Shoes: Maiden Lane leopard calf hair pumps; similar styles by Charles Jourdan, Oscar de la Renta, and Dune London
Lips: Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Showstopper

Perhaps it's that I fell asleep reading my new copy of Knitsonik Stranded Colorwork Sourcebook, but I woke up with a desire to wear many similar, yet different things to see how they worked together. I've also been meaning to wear this sweater for several weeks now - I really like it and it really doesn't get worn a lot. In light of my massive sweater clean out, I figure I should wear the sweaters I love! Sorry, raglans, many of you are going to go live with other people (it's funny, though, because I have a design idea that is really going to work better with a raglan sleeve and I have to come to terms with the fact I might not be the eventual model - I smell something for a certain Vanessa...). I love love love this Alice + Olivia skirt - so much that I own it in another color. Sadly, there is something faulty with the zipper which I am pretty certain my shoemaker didn't actually fix when I brought it to him leading me to believe it is time -sigh- to find another shoemaker. Eff you, suburbs, you are absolutely the worst for finding remotely decent dry cleaning, tailoring, and shoe repair; three things I find only second in importance to grocery stores which I will grudgingly admit Greenwich spoils me for choice (though the new Citarella could open already, I am tired of waiting).

It's been a post-holiday season of shopping and returning and not-shopping. One thing I have not shopped for, but urge you to shop for, is this blazer. I own it in four colors. That is not a joke. Perhaps this was a mistake, but I love them and I find them stylized without being over the top. I have also not shopped for an upgrade to these shoes. A couple pair of the high-end leopard shoes went on sale and sold out and I didn't consider them. These cheap shoes are totally not bad. I'm glad I didn't spend over $100 for them, but they're absolutely fine. And I would certainly consider another pair from Gilt at a similarly not over $100 price. Especially for something a little silly like leopard pumps.

Finally, something weird has happened to my skin, in that when I bought this lipstick, I liked it for half a minute and then hated it. Now I love it. I don't know if I'm applying it with a lighter hand, or if the color of my skin is different, but I don't feel like a juggalo when wearing it and that is ALWAYS a good thing.

Oh, and while I did go to VKLive this weekend, obviously I took no pictures because I am terrible and because I seem to have terrible handshake with the cameraphone that just makes me feel old (also I really, truly thought that handshake would go away when smoking went away - add that to the list of things quitting smoking was supposed to accomplish but didn't - thank goodness I love all this extra weight to keep me warm).


Other Things I'm Not Good At

Sweater: owls by Kate Davies; malabrigo chunky in polvoriento; my notes and modifications onf Tee-hee Hooters
Dress: Brooks Brothers blackwatch plaid shirtdress (still available in sizes 8 and 12); similar styles at The Gap, Forever 21, and Ralph Lauren (and boy do I love it styled with that leather jacket)
Shoes: Prada green leather loafers (seriously these are an amazing deal for the lady with the size 8.5 foot); similar styles by Chie Mihara (love that heel), Tory Burch, and Sonia Rykiel
Lips: Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Showstopper (I've been really into this color this winter)

I was already late getting out of the house this morning. It's cold and I knew the shirtdress alone wasn't going to cut it. I know, I said, I'll do that adorable thing where you put the sweater over the dress with the collar sticking out. You know, this. Here are the sweaters I attempted to make work: Harrogate, the above referenced Chuck, Happy, Josefin, and then I went to cardigans, Aidez, Darling Emma, Moody, before deciding that my Owls sweater was the least crappy. I do not know why this look does not work on me. The problems are manifold: the collar never stays in place and the dress or shirt underneath constantly rides up with basic movement; often the back of the collar gets swallowed by the back of the sweater; the shoulders never fit right and there's either too much or too little room in the armpits; the length is never right and it looks as though I just didn't care enough to get dressed like a grownup. This is really really sad for me because I would love to rock this look. Layering is cool as well as really smart for crappy weather, but any time I have ever tried any from of layering, I just feel as though I would have looked better had I not tried so hard.

On the other hand, I've really embraced the shirtdress this year. I think I've purchased 5 in the past 18 months having not had one at all since the 8th grade. Some of them are, as my husband will tell you, too short to be worn, but he's kind of conservative and it's why god invented opaque tights. This one from Brooks Brothers was an especial coup as it had been so popular they had to do a second run and I still waited for it to go on sale (please don't ask me why I thought $98 was too much for this rather well made dress, but I did, and I persevered). Blackwatch is likely my favorite of the plaids and while there was an AMAZING Ralph Lauren silk chiffon blackwatch plaid dress with a peter pan collar that I was very smitten with, it was much more expensive and it sold out before I had a chance to nab a sale one. I like the shirtdress because it is the very definition of a double duty piece (do you ever notice a trend with me?). I originally had this dress on with my Frye boots in brown when, of all people, my husband said it would be better with either Mary Janes or loafers. So, I kid you not, I tried on two colors of Mary Janes (both not quite right according to the mister) and then these loafers, before considering the outfit done.

I'm wondering now if I'm one of those people they make the afterthought collar necklaces for: all the fun of a visible collar, none of the constant readjusting.


Take Your Breton To Work Day


Sweater: Better Breton by me; wollmeise dk in natur and admiral
Skirt: J. Crew; similar styles at ASOSs, H&M, and bcbg
Shoes: Tabitha Simmons Lou leather pumps and there are a couple sizes left in this amazing sale; similar styles by Kate Spade and Sam Edelman
Lips: Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Showstopper

In light of my full-on sadface vis a vis the Grandpa Cardigan, I wanted to use a counter example to show why my sweaters need to perform double duty. Monday through Firday I work in an office. It's not overly formal, in fact I think I am dressed far more formally than many of my coworkers, but chalk it up to a conservative upbringing when it comes to comportment (on all other things, I am pretty sure my upbringing was pretty standard commie, pinko, UES, ACLU, NYT, ADL); Saturday and Sunday I am either not leaving my house except for groceries, or out seeing friends, maybe going out to dinner. And if I'm sitting in my house with no one but my husband to see me, I don't really need a wardrobe for that. Which is why my wardrobe is predominantly business casual. I have recently been adding to my jeans collection (thank you, sales), but when I think about knitting a sweater, I always think about how it will look at work and on line at the Whole Foods - because I am very vain and need to make sure the other insufferable yuppies aren't judging me on my clothing choices while I judge them on their carts full of frozen organic meals.

But where does a Breton-style sweater fit into that? It is a decidedly casual piece and is evocative of people not at work: people at cafes in France on vacation, drinking strong coffee and smoking strong cigarettes, and definitely unconcerned with formal dress. Yet it's also a navy and white sweater and navy and white are perfectly lovely, boring work colors. Ask me how I know.

I originally paired the sweater with a highly patriotic red skirt and while I wasn't turned off by the Happy 4th of July-ness of it all, the skirt is too big by a fair bit and looks sloppy when it hangs on my hips instead of on my waist, and it also made it a bit too long on my legs. So out comes the old faithful J Crew chartreuse mini, the navy tights, and the brand spanking new navy pumps. This last choice was probably a poor one as the amount of salt dumped in my office parking lot is dangerous to all but the most LL Bean-ish of footwear. I almost went with a navy blazer as well, but I thought that might be a) overkill and b) ill-fitting - this sweater is a bit too ease-y to happily live beneath a tailored blazer.

Red lips were an easy choice.


A Promise is a Promise


Sweater: Grandpa Cardigan by Joji Locatelli; Swans Island All American Worsted in Kelp; my self-recrimination and complaining on Spirogyra
Jeans: Madewell Alley Straight in Harrison; how about the waterfall color?
Shoes: Target. Seriously.
Lips: Dolce and Gabbana passion duo gloss fusion lipstick in Sensual and Bobbi Brown high shimmer lip gloss in Hot

I somehow managed not to get photos of this while it was 2014, though it was finished then. Not for Rhinebeck, mind you, but it was finished. And I'd like to take this opportunity to 2015 Resolve not to knit any more cardigans until I can figure out if I wear cardigans (the one exception is Grace because it is a WIP I want to finish). So let's get some apologies out of the way: the pattern is terrific,, mostly intuitive, and fun; the yarn is amazing and I can't wait to get more. But this sweater is not me. This sweater is only me when I am sad and sick and cold. When I am wearing jeans and my Dalton t-shirt and am working from home because I worked until 11:30pm last night and didn't want to have to schlep to the office in the cold and now snow. This sweater is neither me nor my lifestyle despite the face that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THE SWEATER.


So instead let's talk about my hair. My other 2015 resolution was to start treating my hair with the same love and care that I treat my skin. Like most women, I have never been happy with my hair. Why I should have been granted both hair that is thin to the point of needing intervention, yet frizzy, is an issue I intend to bring up with the universe when I meet it, but in the meantime, there are things I can do. I had already tried the at-home cures: I wash my hair very very infrequently, I condition it a lot, occasionally, I even style it, but it wasn't cutting it, so when I read an article about a keratin process that is designed especially for people who want to retain the natural body of their hair and don't want the harsh chemicals of a full keratin treatment, I started doing some research. At a salon in Manhattan is a guy who developed something called the Zero Frizz Quickie: it's keratin, but without the formaldehyde. I looked for before and after photos of women who had hair similar to mine, found one, sucked it up, and made the appointment. I then spent some time rationalizing the cost by reminding myself that I don't color my hair and don't really spend any money on it at all save the 3ish times per year I have it cut.

Well these are the results. This hair got a scalp treatment this morning, followed by a single pump of serum, and was then rough dried. No brush, no mousse, no flat iron. Just me, my conair $30 hairdryer, and my hands. After a lifetime of sad hair, this has been the most amazing thing ever. True, it is the very first few days, but if this lasts the 6-8 weeks promised (though the stylist said that my shitty flat thin hair might retain the effects up to 4 months, so that would be nicely compensatory), it is so worth the price because I am not sad about my hair. And now that winter is officially upon us with its cold, dark bleakness, I need all the happy I can find.