March 5th, 2014
It’s been one year since we left Korea on a jumbo jet that fired us across both land and ocean like birds seeking a proper nesting ground. It’s been one year since I said goodbye to my students and friends and headed back to the state I will always refer to as “home.” And in some ways this year has been both longer and shorter than the year we spent in Korea — although I have experienced a similar amount of laughter mingled with tears.
How fast the time falls away from us and suddenly, what was once an accepted reality is now a distant memory, rarely spoken about and only visible in hindsight. Is the point of travel simply so that you can experience a wistful nostalgia that echoes into eternity? I’m not sure, but I now know something I wasn’t quite convinced of upon my return, and that is that spending a year abroad changed my life. Not only did it make me hungry for new experiences, it opened my eyes to the distinct differences between my native culture and my adopted one. I’ve noticed so much in this past year that I didn’t see before. Alternatively, it amazes me how static other things have stayed. An extended absence from what I considered my life provided me with insight into real friendship, love and my own expectations and goals for myself.
Now, I speak Korean with the ESL students I tutor in writing. Their faces light up when I greet them with “annyeong.” I can pronounce their names correctly and they think I am some kind of savant. I didn’t learn as much of the Korean language as I hoped I would while living abroad, but I keep the small, broken pieces closest to my heart. I use them now to comfort those who I once was, the strangers in a strange land. I see in them my own struggle to comprehend a new culture and attempt to communicate with those broken pieces of a language they don’t fully understand. We work together to make it all whole.
March 3rd, 2014
I feel like I post a lot of my work outfits on the blog, but often neglect to show what I might wear for just a day of errands. This is an outfit I wore to the library and grocery shopping. These funky fresh harem pants from SammyDress are my favorite thing for casual “day-off” outings right now. Also, in perfectly feminine fashion, I am exceedingly excited to get my hair done this week — I’ve been putting it off until as close to our vacation as possible and my roots are getting rather difficult to hide. I never have the same haircut for long, but I think this asymmetrical style is going to stick around for a while, albeit shorter.
Shirt: Thrifted // Harem Pants: c/o SammyDress // Shoes: J. Crew (thrifted)
February 28th, 2014
It’s no secret that I love subscription boxes. A fashionable surprise in the mail is the best thing to come home to! So, naturally, I was very excited when I-Ella offered to let me review one of their gift bags. The concept behind I-Ella’s bag service is basically Birchbox meets Stitch Fix. You complete a style profile by choosing images you find appealing and listing your own preferences in regard to beauty products. Then, you simply wait for your personalized gift bag to be delivered.
The Box: The List Gift Bag by I-ELLA
The Cost: 3 options – Starter Bag ($59 a month), Soho Bag ($129 a month) and the St. Barth’s Bag ($389 a month)
The Products: Each bag will contain 3 – 5 items with 1 – 2 being featured designer pieces.
The bag I received was a Starter Bag — which was perfect because realistically I probably wouldn’t commit to spending more than that on my first attempt. And overall, I was happy with the contents. There was a full-size lotion, which was more scented than what I normally use, along with three of each type of face mask (as pictured above) and some perfume samples. The “big ticket” item was a designer dress by Collective Concepts. As soon as I pulled it out of the box, I knew it would be a versatile piece — wrap style, bold pattern and pockets. Yes, please!
Collective Concepts Dress: $89.00
Comodyne Face Masks: $10.00
Apothia Lotion & Perfume Samples: $17.00
Total = $116.00
Subscriber Price = $59.00
Frugal Factor: If you want designer clothing at a cheaper price than you’d find at a department store (like Nordstrom), then this service is for you. I’d probably need to view another month’s gift bag in order to determine if the clothing and products continue to be of consistent quality, but so far I’d say you’d definitely be receiving well-made items. Since I am not a huge fan of fragrance, I also feel like I didn’t get the most out of this particular month’s sample selections. I did, however, gain a perfectly lovely dress that I can style for work and play.
February 26th, 2014
This dress has become an unintentional staple in my wardrobe. The black and white combination makes it an easy “grab and go” outfit. The belt, which I found separately, stays on the hanger so that I don’t need to search for a matching combination as I blearily paw through my closet before work. I like how it looks, it’s office appropriate, I can add as many colors to the palette as I want — this dress is my version of fashion fast food. Unrelated: are y’all tired of these boots yet? Too bad!
If you want to see how I’ve remixed this dress previously, click here.
Dress: Ross // Tights: ModCloth // Boots: Zara // Necklace: Old Navy // Belt: F21
February 24th, 2014
I am finally crawling out of the “blah” I’ve been mired in for the past few weeks. I am starting to feel more positive and hopeful as the weather begins to transition. Sunny days bring long walks and less anxiety. I’m anticpating big changes, some I am not prepared to share yet, but overall I am feeling experimental. And in the obnoxious fashion of someone anticipating a vacation, I must mention that it’s less than 2 weeks until our cruise. Jared and I are in desperate need of a shift in both our routine and reality. I am also looking forward to unplugging for a week, as there won’t be ready access to wifi during our trip. I am a full-on Internet addict in need of a detox. But you better believe I will still be hoarding Instagram snapshots.
This outfit is a bit more simplistic, or maybe it’s just less colorful, than usual. I decided against colored tights and regretted it all day. I feel like my burgundy or mustard tights would have added some much needed interest to the bottom half of this ensemble. Oh well, live and learn (and buy more colored tights).
Blouse & Tights: ModCloth // Skirt: StitchFix // Shoes: J. Crew (thrifted)
February 21st, 2014
Images: 1 / 2 / 3
At the beginning of this year I said I wanted to focus on simplicity and not purchasing any new, unnecessary clothes was a part of that — of course, I gave myself a bit of leeway since I had a few free swaps left on Swapdom and sometimes thrift happens. Then, when I wrote my 50 Things in 2014 List — I made a notation that I wanted to buy a (supportive) swimsuit and a sports bra that actually fits. I have a large chest and my swimsuit from last summer cuts into my neck. Since we are going on a seven day cruise I decided I should probably give in and purchase a swimsuit that won’t continually attempt to decapitate me. I tried on some options at Pink, the Vicoria’s Secret satellite store, and that was a laugh! The saleswoman told me she doesn’t even shop there because the bras / swimsuits have so little support. I finally found a decent option (with removable straps) at the regular Victoria’s Secret store. I love mix and matching swimsuit tops and bottoms, so I was pretty glad that’s still a “thing.”
Then, it was time to tackle the sports bra problem. To be honest, I have never owned a decent sports bra. I usually buy them on sale at Academy and I think the last one I actually picked up was from Wal Mart. I don’t do a lot of bouncy workouts (running, HIIT, etc), I tend to stick to yoga, pilates and long walks with Sherman — so I don’t need a TON of support. I decided to hit up Lululemon (see also: what I understand to be the ultimate sports bra mecca), where I chose the Energy Bra. It has enough support to keep my girls under control in inversion poses and I will probably end up just wearing it around town when Texas starts getting hot; the straps are too cute and would look great with a racerback tank. Lastly, I bought an oversized, black Zara tee via Mini Penny’s blog shop to replace my own pilling, black t-shirt from Target.
Victoria’s Secret Swimsuit: $36
Lululemon Energy Bra: $51
Zara W&B Collection Tee: $10 (via MiniPenny)
Total = $97
The total comes in JUST under my self-proposed budget of $100 (and some of it was Christmas money I’d saved). Now that I’ve crossed off my two “big purchases” for the year, I am going to attempt to continue this effort of not buying any clothes in order to keep my wardrobe at its current size and (obviously) to keep livin’ that frugal life.
February 19th, 2014
Sometimes I use scarves to cover up an otherwise work-inappropriate neckline. The neckline of this dress is really rather normal, and I will rock it during the upcoming summer months, but it felt slightly “off” for a normal workday. Quick fix: add a cardigan and large scarf! This was actually my “summer scarf” in Korea. A Korean student I tutored yesterday (sidenote: I love being able to still speak Korean with students here!) told me his favorite thing about moving to Texas has been the weather, and I can’t disagree. I love the weather here too — I can wear my summer scarf in the winter.
Dress: UO // Tights: ModCloth // Cardi: Express // Shoes: Zara Korea // Scarf: Korea
February 13th, 2014
Life has been foggy lately — perhaps it’s the cold, grey weather combined with my own general malaise. My mind has been running a mile a minute, making plans, doubting myself, and starting the whole process over again. I’m stuck in a bit of a hamster wheel routine. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some beautiful, penetrating rays of sunshine in my life, and my job at the college is going well, but mostly I’ve been feeling the blah’s. However, two things I’ve actually been enjoying are reading and taking outfit photos. So, hooray for blogging and books and stuff.
I have not always been a wearer of scarves as accessories, but I am really enjoying them lately. I suppose that’s what people mean when they discuss evolutionary style — finding new things that work for you and integrating them in with tried and true staples. Some of my favorite staples are long cardigans — you only need to glance at my Pinterest board to observe my obsession with oversized sweaters and cardigans (among other things). I bought this one back when I was teaching public school and needed something comfy to wear around the classroom — oh, how far we’ve come little cardigan!
Tshirt: J Crew // Pants: Gap // Cardigan: F21 // Shoes: Minnetonka
February 11th, 2014
The grey weather loitering in Houston’s skies has me dreaming of sunnier days — the lack of natural lighting also has all my indoor outfit photos looking rather gloomy and blurred, I think you can still get the gist of the outfit though. In an effort to recapture a memory of the sun, I’m wearing one of my floral dresses and counting down the days until our cruise. I could really use some vitamin D and beverages served primarily in coconuts.
Blazer: Tommy Hilfiger (thrifted) // Dress: UO // Tights: ModCloth // Shoes: Zara Korea