Wednesday, March 7, 2012

same inspirations, new outlet

While I enjoy blogging, I find I don't update this blog nearly as much as I like.  To follow my inspirations and daily thoughts on style, find me on Pinterest @macarteblanche:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

what it means to be a shoe girl

[left: elizabeth and james tari | orig. $350 | purchased $68]
[right: jeffrey campbell so much | orig. $140 | purchased $45]

So my new years' resolution is going generally well with one caveat: shoes.  For every girl, there is that one thing she loves most and can't live without - be it floral spring dresses, fine leather handbags, crisp blouses, so on and so forth.  For me, it's shoes with personality.  Despite the over 50 pairs of shoes I own, I do not have one pair of leg-lengthening nude pumps, classic sky-high black stilettos, or even wear-with-everything knee-high flat black boots.  I don't believe in buying basics for the purpose that they're versatile pieces to wear with everything.  Because what's the fun in that?  If style is a form of expression, then that white v-neck shirt you've paired with those medium wash bootcut jeans and black heels tell me you're one hell of a boring girl.  So more power to the Olsen twins who may make one too many style faux-pas but are at least never boring a la Lauren Conrad.  Sorry LC - just my two cents.  But back to shoes.  I like keeping the clothes simple and predictable to myself - flattering, nothing too crazy, slightly whimsical.  The shoes are where I like to tell the story.  It can be an indication of how i feel, where i want to go, what i'm dreaming about, and the list goes on.  That's the reason I can live with an adequate supply of clothes and other accessories, but the want for more shoes - more representations of myself - never ceases.

This year will be a year of finding myself - a small part of it getting closer to finding my style.  I hope to use this blog as an outlet to keep track of my wants, likes, thoughts, and progress.  Tripod investment coming up - which should make outfit shots a lot easier.  No more needing another person to be around when I've got an amazing outfit on.  Any recommendations for tripods that are particularly flattering to double chins?

Time to eat a really unhealthy dinner.  Healthy lifestyle plans not going so well.  May come back later with some things I've been lusting after lately.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

edit, delete and acquire

[kate spade essex small scout | orig. $295 | purchased $162]

This is the second of my quality purchases this month, only bought in a bright spring red. I've been eyeing this bag for about a good 9 months now, when it first came out and everyone and their mother was coveting this bag, and it's cheaper look-alike by the cambridge satchel company.  after months of being sad that it was either sold out or a bit too expensive, it finally went on-sale for the post-christmas sale - and it was too good not for me to snatch up.  It's coming tomorrow in the mail, and boy am I going to pee my pants when I finally hold the beauty in my hands.

So after my post yesterday, I read a couple more articles at closet curating, and had a couple more glances at my improved, but still, busting at its seams wardrobe.  So I said to myself, "Phebe, this is the year of no excuses.  No excuses not to wear what you love every single day."  Because knowing my shopping habits, what I love six months from now will probably delete yet another good 30-40% of my existing wardrobe.  While certain pieces I know I will love years and years from now, others I have less confidence about how long they will keep my affections.  So time to wear them before they become unloved like ex-boyfriends.  

As I ruthlessly cut certain things from my wardrobe, including some dresses with tags still attached, items I wore once and thought I could pull off the trend, sweaters that were too plain to have a place in my wardrobe - I started noticing elements of my personal style that have remained consistent over time.  Some that were trends and stuck with me, others that highlighted the parts of my body I don't hate, and a few that spoke to my personality and lifestyle.

1) Socks + Shoes combination.  I wear cute socks with everything - ankle socks with platform sandals, knee high socks with some ruching with ankle boots, thigh high socks with heels, etc, etc.

2) A disdain for denim.  You will not find a single denim piece of clothing in my closet.  The end.  The color, the texture, the wash, the fact that it's the "American casual staple" turns me off like a guy with a pedo-mustache.  Just no.

3) Short skirts with an A-line/Circle silhouette.  I like my waist, think my hips + butt are too fat, and kind of love the shape of my legs from mid-thigh down.  These are the perfect solution.  And they're cute and work well with all seasons.  Yes, I've taken to some of the tweed and sweater variety for the colder months.

4) V-Neck t-shirts and loose crop tops.  These are just flattering, and add an appropriate casual touch to any outfit - be it with jeans, with my skirts, or over a dress.  Bonus points if it has an interesting design.

5) Shrunken, chunky sweaters & cardigans.  The perfect candidates for hiding a few extra pounds of fat in the winter and make you look like the coziest thing on the planet even though you're itching in the 100% acrylic material.

6) Sleek shirtdresses.  Love a sophisticated long button-down with either interesting draping, cut, or beautiful tailoring.  I recently got a khaki-colored one from liquid new york (sold by Barney's) that doubles as a glamourous long vest.  

7) Architectural heels.  If they're minimalist in color and ornamental bits, then it better be a killer design.  If they've got some kickass buckles and hardware, then a more subdued color and shape will do.  Or anything Alexander Wang makes.  Though I'm loving Balenciaga, Jil Sander, and Acne as well.  My taste in shoes is kind of on the opposite end of the stick from my taste in clothing.

8) Small cute bags.  I have a pretty embarrassingly big, recently acquired collection by kate spade.  Doesn't help that the boyfriend spoils me by buying me them every now and then (not complaining, i promise!).  I'm a small bag girl - not enough shit to fit in something larger than the length of my hand.

How all these little bits and pieces of what I adore translate to my personal style - I don't know enough words in the English language to make the connection.  But knowing what you like is a good step in not making poor choices in shopping.  After donating a good 40% of my current closet, I've learned a couple of lessons.  For one, if it's a trend or an "of-the-moment" love - like all my baggy v-neck sweaters, only buy one.  Will save donating $500-$600 worth of things to Plato's.  At least I made a total of $215 back.  $116 to that shitty cop in Missouri that pulled me over for speeding.  And on that note, I think this blog entry just hit a sour note.

Monday, January 2, 2012

say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new

[alexander wang freja | originally $695 | purchased $80 at barney's new york outlet]

I spent new years' cleaning out my closet.  Even though it's still kind of a big organized mess, I did get rid of a considerable amount of stuff.  I have a really hard time of letting go - sometimes because the item has sentimental value, sometimes because i convince myself it can be worn a certain way, and sometimes because i tell myself i spent too much on it to give it up.  So for the pack rat like me, these are the steps I took to clean out my closet:

1) Is this an eyesore?  Eyesore is defined as not my style, has ruching, looks like it's from the Forever 21 clearance, has a black elastic band for a waist, etc.

  • If yes, throw into a pile to sell or donate.  If the item is still in good condition and is objectively stylish, sell.  If the item has stains, rips, or is plain ugly, donate.
  • If no, ask the following questions.
2) Do you have too many of these? or Do you need to wear it a couple more times before tossing it to justify buying it? or Is this decently worn but is still well-loved?
  • If yes, set the item aside.  For the "too many of these" question, I took the least loved one or two of the item.  I then put these items in a separate closet, reminding myself to wear these before the next donation/reselling cycle.
  • If no, the item has successfully passed the test and is staying until next cycle.
I had about a couple of shoes, oversized bags (totally a little bag girl), and some dresses that fell into the first category.  Made a good $58.25 from Plato's Closet for about $150 worth of items.  For anyone that has ever considered reselling things to Plato's, I honestly almost shied out of going down that path.  I read a lot of online reviews that complained about the chump change they were getting for their items, and a lot of things they will pass on.  Out of the three bags I took, they took everything but a pair of sneakers and a dress because of minor stains.  I consider that a pretty successful exchange.  As long as your items are in good condition and are still objectively in style for the teen - mid-20s market, they will most likely offer you a decent trade for it.  I prefer this to ebay, since I don't like dealing with postage and checking on listings and what not. 

And as for the hundreds of things still lying around in my closet this year, I made several resolutions:

  • Wear things before you don't love them anymore.  I can't count the number of things I gave away that were only worn once or twice because they were too "of the moment" purchases.
  • Buy only 1-2 quality items per month.  For January, this was the Kate Spade Essex Small Scout in spring red and those Alexander Wang Frejas above.  I have enough cheap shit.
  • Do clothing evaluations every 1-2 months.  Part of the reason I have so much stuff is because I hoard and keep and never delete.  While I'll probably never have a curated closet, I definitely need to be a bit more ruthless with what stays and what goes.  Choosing what to wear in the morning is a lot easier when you don't have the entire Goodwill store staring you in the face.  
  • Learn how to walk in the Constance's I bought last month.  I have never had this much of an issue standing in a shoe, let alone walk in it.  The angle of the shoe is crafted in a way that the entire weight of your body is 95% on the balls of your feet and 5% on your heels.  Yeah...not very good.  But I love them a bit too much to return/resell them.  So practice it is.

And there we go.  Cheers to a more stylish 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

confessions of a shopaholic

[alexander wang dakota | orig. $650 | purchased $190]
[alexander wang constance | orig. $675 | purchased $86]
[united nude block ankle strap | orig. $315 | purchased $95]

All purchased within the past 30 days.  I think it's about time I admitted that my working income has gone a bit to my head and I've been indulging in too many goodies lately.  Worst of all is I haven't gotten around to wearing many of my new purchases, as I've been throwing on the first couple of things that look wearable and office appropriate every morning because I've gotten too lazy and pressed for time in the mornings to actually craft an outfit.  But enough excuses.

Most people would do the logical thing and stop shopping, at least until they've worn all their purchases.  Some especially clever people would trade their old pieces for bandwidth for new ones.  Me?  I've carefully evaluated both options.  But the truth is, I haven't and will never lead a minimalist lifestyle.  Sure, it's fun to dress like one some days.  But that's the thing with me.  I dress like a minimalist one day, pose like a Japanese schoolgirl the next day, transform into an elegant office lady the day after that, and throw on some kick ass heels and some dark makeup like i could take on Lisbeth Sander the next one after that.  I wouldn't say it's because I haven't an idea of what my personal style is, but that my style itself is constantly evolving and iterating.  So can I throw away all those a-line mini skirts? Nope, need those for the schoolgirl days.  How about those blazers and blouses and sleek trousers? No way, I need something to satisfy my lofty professional look.  And those chiffon dresses?  Certainly can't take the girly from the girly girl.

So a large and growing closet it is.  While it'll take a while to make my way to certain items in my closet, at least I won't ever regret giving away a tutu skirt when I decide to be a ballerina for Halloween.  As for the reckless shopping?  Money spending will have to be put on hold for at least a month.  Going back to my old ways of ooh and ahh-ing at bloggers and their outfits and getting inspiration for my own.  Time to be more creative with what already exists - because there's a shit ton of it.

P.S.  Parents are coming this weekend to visit for the first time since they helped me move in.  This means taking mom to the Botanical Garden at Zilker Park.  This also means mom will insist on taking pictures of me in cute outfits posing next to a bonsai tree.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

minimalism, makeup, and movember

on me: [vest | people's liberation | $6] [skirt | rainbow | $5] [shoes | gunmetal | $10]
on boyfriend: [shirt | no excess] [vest | 21men] [jeans | american rag] [shoes | 1901]

So I've updated twice this month, which is the most I've done since moving to Austin.  Black Friday just passed, but much to my dismay - the sales really weren't that great.  I got a skirt and lace shirt at F21 for a total of $11...and that was the extent of my shopping spree.  I did check out some boutiques today.  Mint had a sale for Small Business Saturday.  I got a four finger ring that I can't really move in, but is freakin' awesome and actually fit my fat digits, as well as a necklace with a gun on it with a very thick chain.  I don't know if it's supposed to be "gangsterish" or not...because it kind of resembles those necklaces you'd see on rappers and what not.  It will definitely be a fun piece to incorporate into my wardrobe in the future.  I'll feel slightly more badass (or like a poser) when I wear it.

Included a picture of the boyfriend.  I always thought it was really cute how fashion bloggers got their boyfriends to take pictures of them, and insisted that mine do the same.  But with how picky I am about photographs and how fat I look in each one of them, he sure puts up with a lot.  I'm incredibly grateful for how he shamelessly takes pictures of me in all sorts of areas (though I'm sure both of our neighbors think we're strange), encourages me to pursue fashion, photography, and blogging, and gifted me with this DSLR that takes photos the way I want them to look.  In the meantime, I've also gotten him to dress up a bit more and participate in my lunatic photoshoots.  I secretly think he enjoys them.  Oh, ignore the mustache in the pictures.  As much as I support Movember as a great cause, definitely not a fan of one on Hai.  It's prickly, to say the least.  4 more days.

Oh one last thing.  The shoes I have on by gunmetal?  Used to be $140.  Got them at Nordstrom Rack for $10. :D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

chilly days and cozy sweaters

[sweater | cotton on | $9] [maxi skirt (turned into dress) | speechless | $14] [clock necklace | ebay | $3] [bird necklace | gift from eva] [boots | steve madden | $70]

Probably my favorite combination since peanut butter & jelly. This season, I've been really drawn to oversized cropped sweaters that have a tendency to make me look a lot bigger than I am (usually very undesirable) - but gives me excuses to hide the extra weight I've gained since moving to Austin. This city is not doing my body very well. Too much good food, and well - very little motivation to exercise. I need to get on that - considering I spent almost $200 on quality exercise wear/shoes. These pictures were taken two weekends ago, when the last cold front hit. I really wanted to give my new Steve Maddens a wear.  My first pair of real suede boots.  Officially convinced to stray away from cheap shoes forever.  Also, this kate spade bag from the boyfriend is marvelous.  I can't count the number of compliments received since I've put it to use.  I'm going to be sad when it gets worn.  I doubt I can find a similar replacement.  But who knows?  Maybe something else will catch my fancy then. :)