July 21, 2016

Midi Skirts: A Non Shorts Summer Style Option

midi skirt summer outfit 3

I love summer (like, a lot), and even more so since I moved to Michigan and experienced the pure bliss that is a Michigan summer.   But..dressing for summer?

Yeah,  not so much.

There’s nothing like trying to get dressed on a hot summer day to to stir up all those body insecurities I spent the last nine months convincing myself I didn’t have.  It serves as a good reminder of why Fall is my favorite season-  jeans and oversized sweaters aren’t just favorite outfit options- they are precious protective layers!  I’ve joked before about my “cottage cheese” thighs, but it’s a lot harder to find the humor (ha, ha….ha?) when I’m trying on shorts and bikinis for the first time of the summer.  And, (TMI?) I’m a big time “sweat”er and sweat + shorts = an uncomfortable, irritable Jess. 

So over the years I’ve figured out a few ways to adapt my summer wardrobe to soothe my summer style stresses: skirts and dresses (ha! that rhymed). Midi skirts are the length I feel most confident in. My favorites are midi skirts with side splits, because they cover enough skin while allowing me to stay cool (or at least less sweaty). In July and August I usually throw on a basic tank or lace cami, a midi skirt and my Birkenstocks and I’m good to go for the whole day. Here’s how I styled a few of my favorite midis….

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May 3, 2016

How To Wear White Right Now

white denim santin cami soft neutral outfit

Whites are trending big this season and neutrals have come so far from plain old tan. Soft, pastel hues like blush, dusty blue and mint have made their debut and become the new essentials to a well-rounded wardrobe. Neutrals have definitely garnered a bad rap over the years – deemed dull and boring, or overlooked in favor of more colorful trends. But when combined, neutrals can create an effortlessly chic and timeless look that’s surprisingly simple to pull off.

So if you’re looking for a refreshing spring style alternative…. 


….you consider yourself a rebel, someone who prefers to live life on the edge, push limits, break rules and wear white any.day.of.the.year you please…

giphy (3)


then continue reading…

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February 23, 2016

Five Fun Ways To Style A Chambray Shirt Now

I woke up one day and decided I finally had enough of dealing with the ever growing piles of cheap junk clothing I’ve accumulated from years of chronic impulse buying.

So, I made it one of my goals this year to work on becoming a more conscientious buyer; to be more thoughtful and deliberate with my clothing purchases. This is no easy task for me, I’ve always been more of an act now, suffer the consequences later kind of a person, but acknowledging that I have a problem is the first step to overcoming right?

Quality over quantity is my new motto. I am going to work really hard at simplifying and buying only the essentials: quality clothing items that are versatile, durable and timeless.

Which brings me to my new chambray denim blouse, the 1969 Chambray Western Shirt by Gap, $59.92. I never realized the true potential of this unassuming top. There are soooo many different ways to style it. Seriously, just go onto Pinterest and search ‘How to style a chambray top’ and there are literally hundreds of outfit ideas. Here are my five favorites – outfit combos that hit the right note of ease and modernity:

1. Lace Skirt & Knee High Boots

denim outfit 1

Outfit details

top – you guessed it, 1969 Chambray Western shirt from Gap, $59.95

skirt – Bloomingdales Lace Pencil Skirt, $109.50.

hosiery –  Spanx Bodyshaping Tight-End Tights in charcoal, $20.00.

boots – DV by Dolce Vita Myste Riding Boots on Amazon & currently 69% off at $49.50.  A great way to make tall boots feel fresh.

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December 18, 2015

A Cozy (Yet Glam) Outfit Combo: Fitted Sweater + Knit Midi Skirt


I found the coziest skirt.  It’s soft, comfy, and currently on sale at Joe Fresh (in varying lengths).  Personally, I’m digging the midi length.  When paired with a fitted cashmere sweater and faux-fur stole, there’s a decidedly 1940’s vibe that feels so glamourous, dahling.

Of course I paired mine with chunky ankle boots and socks (because that’s how I do), but pumps would be a logical choice.

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June 10, 2015

How To Pull Off Pencil Skirts and Flats (Even For Petites)




We had a blast at the World War Two Weekend in Reading, PA this past weekend.  (For more deets on the event, see my full coverage here.  It’s pretty amazing.)  But dressing for the weekend is always a challenge:  it’s hot, it’s sunny, I’m on my feet all day, and then at night…..there’s a swing band and dance party.  To make matters worse, most of the other attendees arrive in full 1940’s costume.  Every year they look GORGEOUS and glamorous, and that level of dedication truly makes the weekend feel like stepping back in time.

So. I wanted to wear something comfortable, but something that could hang with all of the pin-up girl glamour (although a few women came dressed as Rosie the Riveter which was awesome).  Inspired by Cam “grunging” her pencil skirt (bless her preppy little heart), I used Cam’s grunge to make mine…glam?

But here’s the thing:  Cams is tall. I am not.

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December 14, 2014

Sequin Skirt Styling: The Flirt, The Fail, The Fix (and the fix again – never say I don’t try)




The Flirt

Hey baby.

Now this outfit, I like.  The texture of the cozy sweater contrasted with the shiny sequins, the sharp booties, the flecks of white in the tights – it all works.





Even the mismatched sequin skirt/bag thing is alright.

 the kids are alright….






shirt: old Equipment Margeaux shirt….the Outnet has Equipment’s Brett shirt for 65% off, Neimans has the red-striped version of mine for under $50, Shopbop has Equipment’s Margeaux in white

sweater: old….try the Nordstrom Collection Cashmere poncho (33% off), Chelsea 28 boucle poncho, Forever 21’s Turtleneck Poncho Sweater , or ASOS’s cream poncho (best for tall girls)

skirt: Forever 21 (sold out)…but they have a ton.  I like this patterned sequin skirt.

tights: Madewell Donegal 1937 tights

boots: old….but Banana Republic’s Tila Bootie is verrry close

bag: old….but BCBG has a glittery gold cross-body on sale for $56



The Fail

The problem, however, is when I take the sweater off.   Outfit…not good.  OUTFIT BAD.

(So bad, apparently, that I start to talk caveman.)

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October 15, 2014

Styling A Matching Lace Skirt and Top, And A Few Thoughts On Petites – Sponsored Post


I’m typically a dress kind of girl.  A matching top and skirt “set” isn’t usually my thing, it’s just so….ladylike, dahling.  Add pearls and pumps and I look like I should be holding bunco parties and fundraising for my husband’s political campaign.

But it turns out that a matching top-and-skirt-set – in lace no less – is EXACTLY my style when paired with ankle booties and a chunky necklace.  (If I could decide which leather jacket I like best,  I’d be wearing one of those, too.  But I’m right in the middle of an epic dither on the leather jacket topic, soooo….)

Even better, there are roughly 1.4 * 10^3 ways to wear this outfit (BAM – now THAT’S what I call outfit math) but in the interest of time, I’ll show you my top FIVE.

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September 2, 2014

Reader Style: Sarah’s Daily Uniform And Heartbreakingly Honest Journey On Finding Her Style

A few weeks ago, I received this email from reader Sara:

I’ve been a long-time reader (since 2010? I can’t remember except somewhere around gestating my middle child), enjoying your blogging, and your honesty throughout (cancer, clothes, mom stuff). I have an outfit for your reader submitted outfit stuff, and I also have “shit to say” about clothes and nowhere to say it except my diary. So, you can do whatever with it, but….

Dear Diary Shana:

And so begins one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful essays I’ve read all year.  Get a cup of coffee, settle in, and hand your heart over to Sarah.  By the end, you’ll be on your feet, tears in your eyes, cheering her on (I certainly was).



There’s a great episode of The Wire (which is the greatest television show ever, fyi). In it, a former city police sergeant is working in a classroom setting, interacting on a personal level with these “inner city kids”. He makes them a bet, they win, and so he delivers on the terms by taking them to a fancy restaurant in Baltimore. The kids are excited to get dressed up and go someplace nice, but once they get inside, it slowly dawns on them how out-of-place they are.

This one clip sums up a moment I have experienced at least twice a week since moving to the Washington D.C. area eight years ago. At nineteen, I’d graduated college and gotten a job in law school administration at Georgetown University Law Center. I had the city and the potential of free graduate school at my feet. In the end, it was simply demoralizing. Professionally, I could be summed up in having just enough awareness to notice that I was pulling the old black-sweats-as-real-pants-with-a-cheap-blazer trick while giving career advice to a woman in an impeccably tailored Chanel suit. I thought I would grow beyond that—with kids, becoming a stay-at-home mom and a fledgling writer—but I’m still struggling.

Just the other week, I chose to take my oldest to VBS without shoes (having not noticed we’d forgotten them until we were halfway there). Believing it to be a small embarrassment but otherwise fine, I again miscalculated the standards. I arrived, wearing cut-off shorts (they had been cut-off because they were ripped in a dirtbike/motorcycle accident while visiting my family), and a faded band t-shirt complete with skull. My nails were not done. My hair was not brushed, but knotted on my head. My child had no shoes. In front of the mirror I’d said I didn’t care, but standing there, I cared.  The other mothers watched quietly, the leaders tried to be very nice and casual about the fact that he could not attend without shoes, and I simply stood there and blistered under the dawning realization that everyone could see it again—how I was still, after all this time, country shit. I turned tail with my shoeless and sad five-year-old, and started thinking. About that moment with the lady in Chanel. About why I had a decent salary and was still wearing the cheapest clothes I could find. About why I cared and why it mattered.


“We wore sweatpants and t-shirts. When you wanted to dress up, you put on your jeans. If you went grocery shopping, in jeans and makeup, well you were just way over-dressed. You’d stick out like a sore thumb. That’s how you gained twenty pounds without noticing–you were always in sweatpants.”– my mother, during my borderline-crying phone call, about standards of dress in the rural places I grew up.


Deep down in my soul, I still truly put on jeans to dress up. But, it’s not really as simple as revising my style rules to include “jeans are, by-and-large, casual,” for to change that deep truth is to change a thousand older truths. It’s to change the place in my soul that watches the harvest of these tiny gentleman farmer hay fields scattered around me and remembers the cut of the twine in my hands, and the sweat beading on my spine, and marvels that in this warm, southerly place you can hay at least THREE times. No one else seems to notice how amazing it is that you would literally never have to worry about running out of hay in a winter! That’s the same place in my soul that praises God for the blessing of a buying a raspberry from a store in the middle of winter (my main dream as a child was to one day be rich enough to afford buying whatever fruit I wanted, whenever I wanted it). And it’s also the place that remembers the sun sweet taste of a wild one plucked off a thorny bush. I cannot simply REMEMBER SHOES or believe JEANS ARE CASUAL, because to do that, I feel like I have to forget running barefoot through the woods all summer, and forget the cost of each penny that went into boots from the thrift store for winter. It’s to forget when someone gave me a pair of flared, low rise jeans when I was in middle school and had to wear tapered, high-waisted jeans my mom had saved from high school in the eighties. It’s to forget never actually wearing those jeans because my life would positively ruin them, and I had no way to replace them.


There’s a whole person in those memories– once they start, I cannot stop them. Stories that I slip into telling before realizing everyone is staring, and not in a good way. It’s the sound of a coal train at night, and how a deer-hide feels when it comes right off a fresh kill. How the inside is so soft and how it stretches and my hands sting when I rub salt into the hide. It’s the memory of perfecting a blow-out look by coiling my hair just right inside my hard-hat and then working a twelve hour overnight shift at a plastics factory to get myself through another semester of college. It’s the hazy memory of white robes and cut eyes and a raised cross in the grocery-store parking lot. It’s of surviving when men were ill-intentioned and there was no one to stand up for me. Those things have surely driven me straight into the person I am today. As if each of those memories hinges an entire course I became destined to walk. So many memories I still cling to, without having anyone who understands. What it’s like to be alone. What a coyote sounds like in the dark, two steps away from you. The weight of an infant sibling on my hip with the blowing grass and a twisting finger of God reaching down across the low hills. I remember that moment, fleeing from harm and halfway to the safety of a neighbor’s basement. I stopped. And tipped my head to the swirling green clouds and knew I could open my mouth and swallow those winds whole. I didn’t need to run. I could withstand.


And I did.


Sometimes I sit in the air conditioning and eat my store-bought raspberries and re-blog feminist quotes on tumblr and I marvel at my privilege. I’m poor to 90% of people around me, but they don’t know what I know. I’m rich! I can pay all my bills and buy a few extras. I can buy luxury textiles to wrap my baby. And real leather boots. I can buy an orange in summer and a berry in winter. But sometimes, late at night, when I’m writing while my kids are asleep, I stop and remember. I remember who I am deep down inside and that if all my privilege falls to dust and my safety becomes a whirling wind, I will not fear, because that girl still exists, deep down, right alongside “jeans are for dress-up”.


Nearing thirty, I want different things now. I want my pediatrician to stop talking to me like I’m an idiot. I want to stop sending emails I regret to my agent (ha!!). I want to have control over who I was and how people view me. I want to sell a book and be ready for any measure of success. This is the last part of surviving, isn’t it? Growing past being a survivor? But I don’t know how, really, without losing that part of me. For every-time I forget shoes, I remember her, and clothes become a struggle between the many once and future me’s.


Occasionally, I hit on it.


In this picture I’m in Baltimore, at an appointment. I went early and took my oldest (with shoes!) around some places in the Inner Harbor. And in this outfit, I felt like I was all of me at one time. When we passed a hotel along the water, the doormen and the car service guys nodded and smiled respectfully, moving to open the doors as if I belonged. But if you dropped me beside my sister—that day butchering fresh-caught salmon and canning them for the winter in her trailer in Alaska—I could untuck my shirt and put down my bag and work alongside her. (Well, I might need a sweatshirt). If you put me in my old job, talking to the woman in the Chanel suit, I’d be seen as competent and professional. If you add “best-selling author” to my bio, I’d look like a successful woman. That’s what made this outfit a win for me.


And, I felt very Morticia Adams in it. That’s always a win.


P.S. I’ll take suggestions for replicating this into any form.



Sunglasses: Target; Tank: J. Crew from few years ago but it’s their fine-spun one (similar J.Crew tank); Skirt: ASOS (might still be on sale, but if anyone knows of a different washable skirt in this shape, I NEED IT) [NOTE From S – found a similar black skirt at Kohls, also in seriously cool stripe]; Shoes: Target from three years ago (on my list of things to upgrade); Bracelet: off the super clearance at Kohls; Bag: Fossil (similar Fossil cross-body bag). Picture courtesy of the five-year-old.



Sarah Nicole Lemon








Sarah, your words are a gift.  Thank you – so freaking much- for sharing your world.  (And I have a few thoughts on outfits for you…more to come…..)

August 27, 2014

Your Outfit Needs Some Extra Oompf? Try Patterned Heels. (Sponsored Post)


(all photography by the insanely talented Vafa-Coffman Photography)

I know layering is big thing in fashion-blogger land, but sometimes I just want to be all Pants. Shirt. Done.  You know?

“I have eighteen layers of clothes on. I’m wearing a shirt and a tie and a sweater and a suede jacket that just seals in all the heat. Seals in all the juices. I’m just…it’s all sweat under here. This is just sweat from here down.”  -Steve Carell in Crazy Stupid Love


We’ve talked before about interesting basics, and a pair of patterned heels is one of my go-to methods to make…well…any outfit better.  Especially if you are firmly planted in the shirt-pants-done camp.
















tee: old James Perse (here’s the new James Perse tee…I bought mine in both size 1 and 3 – I’m wearing the 3 in this pic.)

jacket: Free People Oversized Knit Jacket, size XS

skirt: Nasty Gal Ruched Knot Skirt, size S (on sale for $26)

shoes: Sole Society Olyvia Heels in black white

necklace: Tiffany

watch: Mike’s Tissot watch


Patterned heels are often my answer for boring work outfits, too.  And when those patterned heels also happen to be of that magic height where they’re walkable, yet sexy?  And affordable, to boot?  Well.  The Shopping Enabler rests her case.







A graphic tee + skinny suit is a combo I will love forever…but I’m especially digging the contrast of the tomboyish outfit with the ladylike heels.  This is right up my alley.





Someone asked about my tattoo.  It is new.  My sister has the exact same one.  It’s in my mother’s handwriting, and reads, “I love you lots” in shorthand.  It’s what my mom wrote on our lunchbags (brown paper ones, thankyouverymuch) until we graduated, and on my Dad’s lunchbag until he retired.  I’ve been thinking about a tattoo for years (decades??), and I couldn’t be happier with the result.  (Of course, the fact that Dan at Sacred Tattoo Studio in Marquette is some kind of miracle no-pain tattoo artist helped a whole bunch.)







jacket: J.Crew blazer (size 0)

shirt: old Army of Lovers tank by Zoe Karssen (size M), but I’m loving the Zoe Karssen BeYOUtiful tank, Life is fun tank or her Girl Gang tee. Awesome.

pants: old Vince ponte pants…but these ponte pants by NYDJ look promising (and are 50% off).  I suggest hemming them so they hit right above your ankle bone for that 60’s mod vibe.

shoesSole Society Olyvia Heels in black white

sunglasses: Ray-Ban folding wayfers in blue



Now onto the fun part!  SHOPPING.

Sole Society has some ah-mazing patterned shoes at the moment.  Including (SWOON) plaid.  Here are my favorites:


Lastly, here are a few seriously cool bags for the office, as well as some fun baubles for date night.  (And a scarf.  Just because I love it and it happens to be on sale for $12.)



You with me on the patterned heels/flats/shoes in general?



A HUGE thank you to Sole Society for sponsoring this post.  As always, all thoughts, opinions and product choices are my own.  (And I was seriously excited about this one…I know several of you have been asking for more workwear articles.  And more to come!)

ps.  It looks like Sole Society just kicked off their labor day sale…yessssss…..







August 11, 2014

Summer Layering With Sheer, Flowy, Pooch-Hiding Tops

After Raines was born, I bought this flowy top and wore it all summer over a shaper cami (or this nursing shaper cami).  My post-partum pooch was well hidden, but on hot days, I was a sweaty mess (especially while baby-wearing!  Ugh.)

It took me a couple of years, but I finally figured out a few tricks for layering these tops, although they won’t tame the pooch as well as the flowy-top-shaper-cami combo, but when it’s really hot, let’s go with GOOD ENOUGH.

(The real advantage to layering, BTW, is not only hiding the post-partum pooch, but allowing easy nursing access without stomach exposure.  Pull the top layer up, the under layer down.  Also?  You can sometimes wear a normal bra.)

1.  Layer Over a  Cotton Tank

I have had better luck (in the sweaty mess department) laying sheer flowy tops over simple cotton tanks – less pooch-hiding, but much cooler.  And if your top is flowy enough, you don’t really notice a pooch.  Admittedly, my pooch is much smaller these days but I am, ummmm…more than three years “post-partum”.   (I think the post-partum label is applicable for up to 10 years.  Or life.  Let’s go with life.)





top: Old Free People..try this Free People tank, on sale for $49…or this Free People crochet tank on sale for $89

tank: old J.Crew….but Gap has good basic layering tanks

bra: Cosabella bralet

shorts: Blank Denim

sandals: Rhodes sandals in Orange/Natural c/o Meraki Greek Sandals  (insanely comfortable, BTW)

bracelet:  old Chan Luu…love this orange and turquoise Chan luu wrap bracelet

bag: Antik Batik pouch

sunglasses:  Kate Spade sunglasses

on Raines: old Peek T-shirt (they have some seriously cool ones right now), Petit Bateau shorts from Thred UPVans Kids Half-Cab (on sale at 6pm)

on Pax: Tribe is Alive tank, Geofox pants, UA kicks


2. Layer Over a Silk Cami

On the hottest, stickiest days, this is my most comfortable outfit.  The pooch-hiding is just a bonus.






top: Free People Fly Away Tank (on sale for $49)

silk cami: J.Crew Silk Cami

skirt: old DVF bought on Ebay…but ThredUp has a decent selection of cute DVF skirts

sunglassesKate Spade sunglasses

bag: Madewell Transport Tote

shoes: Madewell (sold out)…but I’ve also worn this exact outfit with birks.


And as the nights cool?  Throw on a lightweight jacket (Gap’s military parka looks pretty great and is 35% off until 8/13).



Shop The Post

Pretty, Flowy Tops


Lightweight Jackets I Love


Happy Monday!



ps.  I just found these short-overalls on sale for $35, then an additional 40% off?  Did I read that correctly?