More ramblings on fashion: creative expression or frivolous obsession?

I thought this was an interesting piece and posted it on Inge's links thread:

I'm struggling with trying to reconcile my appreciation of fashion with the tendency for others (and even myself sometimes when I'm feeling guilty about it) to think that having an interest in fashion is shallow and vain. Is caring about what you wear, taking pictures of yourself and posting/blogging about it a narcissistic and unhealthy obsession and a frivolous pastime, or is it a legitimate form of artistic self-expression and means of communication? I spent all these years studying "serious" topics like medicine and yet I love reading about fashion and thinking about what to wear. I spend my days trying to save lives and yet when I get home (after the kids are asleep) I stay up late watching Project Runway. I have to admit sometimes my interest in fashion seems a little odd and silly even to me! Maybe it's just a necessary left-brain right-brain balance? I can't draw or paint (my kids are better artists than I am!) or write (don't have the teen angst I had the last time I wrote a lot of poetry), I don't play music (used to take piano lessons as a child, but I don't have the natural talent my mom and brother do), I rarely cook (since the kids always prefer to be with me when I get home from work, DH has taken over the cooking duties). So fashion is really my only hobby and creative outlet.

Growing up we always thought my mom was way too dressed up all the time, always wearing makeup and heels, and yet, she never sat there taking pictures of her outfits and posting it on the Internet like I do...does that make me vain and self-absorbed? What is my daughter going to think of me when she grows up?

I just finished watching The Devil Wears Prada (thread discussion from last month here and I identified a lot with the Anne Hathaway character. I still feel like "lumpy blue sweater" Andy sometimes because I'm such a fashion newbie and have so much to learn still. And especially when her friends and family don't understand her sudden style transformation and think that her whole personality has changed. She denies it and says, "Same Andy, just better clothes". That's how I feel. I'm still the same me, just dressed a little nicer!

Also, I really hate to admit this, but sometimes I look at everyday people walking around in their baggy sweats and flip flops (especially since I was at the airport a lot this weekend) and I'm a tiny bit jealous that they don't have to worry or expend any brain cells thinking about what they're wearing. They're perfectly content to wear whatever, satisfied with what they have, not coveting the next purchase or trying to perfect their wardrobe by filling yet another hole. Maybe it would be more "zen" not to care what you wear. I don't really want to go back to my pre-YLF non-style or wear gear all the time...I just wish sometimes that I didn't stick out so much or care so much what I'm wearing!

Anyone else struggling with these same thoughts and contradictory feelings? I know I've started similar threads on this before but I'm still ruminating on this topic! I hope I don't offend anyone with my comments, I am not trying to be inflammatory or comment on anyone's motivations or personalities aside from my own. I personally don't think fashion is frivolous, otherwise why would I spend so much time on it, right? Fashion is fun and makes me why should I feel guilty about it?

I am really really happy with where my style is now, thanks to the help of Angie and all of you at YLF, and I think it's done wonders for my self-confidence! I guess I'm just feeling a little conflicted about this whole journey and how even as far as I've come, I've still got a long long way to go. Even when you think you've got your style all figured out, sometimes you can get thrown for a loop and your style will move in a whole new direction. I don't know where I'm going with this and I'm rambling way too much, so I'll stop (this post is what happens when you're up too late because you drank a Pepsi for lunch and have the next day off!), but I'd love to hear your comments and hear how you feel about fashion and your own style journey!


Pics from OC/SoCal swap 7/14 (including bag and shoe shots)!

Here are my pics from my first YLF clothing swap! MaryK is the only fabber I've met so far, so I was super excited to meet all the YLF ladies! Vicki's house is so beautiful and she was a gracious hostess, it was so nice to meet her family too. When I got there and went in, much squee-ing and lots of hugging ensued. Same with when Rae and Denise (Cocolion) showed up after me too! We chatted and had a delicious lunch, and then got down to the serious business. The living room was set up with racks of clothes, just like a store! Everyone started trying on clothes and critiquing each other ("Does this look too boobalicious on me?" was a typical question). And sometimes something would look OK but not quite right on someone so she would pass it onto someone else and it would fit perfectly. We all ooohed and aaahed when a garment found its way to the new rightful owner. What a neat experience to see our closet orphans find new life and look so perfect on someone else! And all of us took home fab new clothes ourselves! We even got a new shopping bag and some nail polish thanks to Vicki. We also munched on a pretty fruit arrangement sent by Lina and loved the notes that Claire pinned to the clothes she sent (we were all bummed that they couldn't come). At the end we did the obligate bag and shoe shot--can you guess the owners?

What a wonderful get-together--I am so lucky I got to be a part of it and meet all my wonderful YLF sisters! Thanks again Vicki for being such a gracious host. Denise and I are already plotting to have a Bay Area get-together this fall!

Attendees (pic 5): Jennifer, Denise, Vicki, Marley, MaryK, Eva, Natalie, Rae


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WIW 7/13: Salted chocolate, cream and caramel (inspired by Kari)

I was inspired by Kari's color palette from her NAS finds--it sounded like an artisanal chocolate confection! Grey salt, cream, chocolate and caramel. YUM!!!
So I decided to pull pieces from my closet to imitate these colors. Not much of my usual bright colors but I do like to do neutrals when there is enough texture and subtle pattern to keep my interest.The caramel leather jacket is similar to the pretty one Kari bought. The bee blouse is a favorite because of the secret bee and crown pattern that look like polka dots from far away (it kind of looks like the Bellatrix blouse that Kari bought). And the grey skirt matches the grey of the bees, and the black lace trim is a fun detail. I wore the brown pumps because I just had to have chocolate in this outfit too, given the title. And matchy matchy me loves that all of these various colors can be tied together with my Fossil chevron stripe bag (even the brown pumps match the leather trim of the bag)! I'm so excited by this brand new outfit combination--thanks Kari for the inspiration to hug my closet even with all the NAS excitement going on! (And thanks Rita for a fun phrase to describe shopping your closet!)

Lafayette 148 caramel leather jacket (from last year's NAS, although I bought it later when it went to the Rack)
EmersonMade cream pussy-bow bee blouse
Classiques Entier grey tweed skirt with black lace trim
Clarks brown twist strap pumps (pre-YLF)
Fossil chevron stripe satchel

PS It's 54 and foggy here right now (usually warms up to about 70-75 when the fog burns off mid-day, then turns foggy again in the afternoon) so I'm glad to be wearing a leather jacket--I get chilled easily! Plus I'm working in an air-conditioned office. For those of you sweating it out, stay cool!


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My NAS loot

I bought a lot of stuff at last year's NAS--I actually joined YLF and signed up for a Nordie's card after seeing a list of Angie's NAS picks, which inspired me to jump start my wardrobe renovation. So I am trying to be very judicious this year and only buy things that are true wardrobe holes instead of duplicating what I already have. Hence I am trying to stay away from things like boots and leather jackets. There isn't a whole lot that I want or need (that is, until Angie's list comes out and then all bets are off!).

This was my first time doing pre-select. I made an appointment, but I don't have someone that I work with closely so it was just a random SA. She took me to a couple different sections of the store which were roped off areas with the NAS racks. Here are the things I ended up with:

I copied this catalog pic and bought the
1. Halogen toggle closure topper in grey:
and Hue red denim leggings:

And ironically, I bought a very similar outfit to what anti-snazzy Yoga Pants Mom was wearing! I am going to use this for loungewear mostly, but also perhaps for super casual MOTG days. I have very few non-pajama loungewear outfits (actually, only 2--a pair of blue AE sweats and pink jacket, and the Target purple jacket and pants that I just bought) and since I always take off my clothes right when I get home, it beats my typical souvenir dive T-shirt and PJ bottoms look. I admit, I don't do yoga, so maybe I'm a poser for getting yoga pants, but they are so comfy and seem like a more stylish alternative to baggy sweats.
2-3. Zella Pleated Hem Shirred Jacket in Blue Dresden--I really like wearing turquoise, and I feel like the peplum back and shirring make this an UWP-style upgraded version of my old REI fleece jacket.
4. Zella Booty pants in black (really form fitting in the butt and thighs but stretchy and comfy):

I also bought this dress in black and white, although I also ordered the black and red to compare which one looks better. This dress is so cute, but the body-con style is brutal for apples though...I am going to try it with some shapewear to see if it will work.
5. French Connection Dani Stripe dress in black and white stripes (I could even wear it over the red leggings as a long tunic).
6. French Connection Dani Stripe dress in red and black stripes:

Also I didn't get a chance to try these on, but I ordered these capes online. I had bought a camel cape at NAS last year but ended up returning it because I realized that the camel color washed me out. Hopefully one of these two will work and won't overwhelm my frame.
Betsey Johnson capelet in orange:
Via Spiga Ombre Plaid Cape:

Any thoughts on 5 vs. 6 and 7 vs. 8 or do you want to wait for the K/R pics when I get them? I'm proud of myself for not going hog wild (although I can't promise I won't covet the goodies that you all and Angie post!).


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WIW 7/5: Pattern mixing and matching (hearts, snake & leopard)

I always carefully plan my outfits in advance. Haha. Actually today while rifling through my dress collection (lately I find myself reaching for dresses much more than skirts because it saves time--dresses are my FFBO because I don't have to spend as much time picking separates to go with each other) this Tory Burch heart print dress fell off the hanger and I was too lazy to hang it back up so I wore it today, hehe!

Then, speaking of being inspired by other's style journeys as in Manidipa's recent thread (, I saw what DD picked to wear today (#4) and really admired her fearless pattern mixing. So I decided to pair the dress with my leopard pumps. Then I added my fave WHBM red snakeskin bag to match the red trim, and since I'm in a matchy matchy phase right now, I used the matching red snakeskin belt. I feel like it's a nice middle ground in the girly-tough continuum for this dress. In my previous WIW's, #5 is really sweet and girlish with the red bow belt and red T strap pumps and #6 is UWP tough with the black lace up boots and charcoal moto jacket. This version is more grown-up and refined, but still a little sassy.

I got lots of compliments about the shoes and dress today. I definitely felt snazzy today, even while picking DD up this afternoon! :) But the most fun was when I went to the mall over lunch break to return some stuff to Nordstrom's. I walked back to my car and started driving away and this woman starts waving frantically at me. She's Asian in her 20-30's and wearing a red plaid flannel shirt and baggy khakis and a grey waffle knit beret kind of like the hippies with dreadlocks wear...she looked like she'd totally fit in at Haight Ashbury or Burning Man. I thought she wanted to get directions from me, or that somehow I'd left something on top of my car or something. I rolled down my window and she said, "I just wanted to ask you...where did you get that dress?" I was tickled! How fun that she liked my prim dress! I think she'd wear it more like #6 though!

Another fun coincidence--I just saw that Kiwichick also did snake plus leopard ( and that MaryK did a navy and white dot dress with leopard accessories too (! We must be psychic! Or the YLF sisterhood is cycling together!!!

Tory Burch navy and white heart print dress (buttoned all the way up inspired by Angie)
White House Black Market red snakeskin bag and belt
B Makowsky Heist red-trimmed leopard heels


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WIW: Happy July 4! Red, white and blue

I love theme dressing so I couldn't resist dressing in red, white and blue, just like Angie's post talked about. My sisters and their kids came over to our house to celebrate July 4 and my upcoming birthday (since I'll be on call at work on my actual birthday). One of my sisters did everyone's makeup for fun. And she brought sparklers and balloons for the kids and cupcakes for my birthday. We all had a great time!

Gap blue denim polka dot shirt
Jason Wu for Target Milu tee
Kut from the Kloth red jeans
Red Converse
White House Black Market red snakeskin bag
Anthro red corset trench

PS DD carefully selected her own outfit in #2. She would not let me make her outfit match ours (she said, "it is red, white and blue--there's red and white in the pants and blue in the T shirt!". You can see she's even more daring with her pattern mixing than her mom!


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"Snazzy is overrated": is being fashionably dressed a turnoff?

My daughter is starting kindergarten at a new school this fall. She is doing a camp this summer at the school to get to know the other incoming kindergarteners. Most of the time I have to work and our nanny is doing drop off and pickup, but when I can I try to take her there or pick her up if my schedule allows so that I can meet some of the other parents. So this morning I was wearing my floral pants outfit below, and after I dropped her off a few of the moms were talking outside. One of them I had met before and she was dressed in scrubs (she's a nurse). The other two I hadn't met before--one mom was older and I don't remember what she was wearing, something like a plain white shirt and black trousers, and another mom was wearing yoga or athletic pants and a turquoise athletic jacket (like Athleta or Lululemon type gear). We all chatted for about five or ten minutes. As we were walking back to our cars, scrubs mom said to me that she really liked my pants and matching shoes and said to yoga pants mom, "Isn't she cute? She's always dressed so nicely!" Then yoga pants mom said something like, "Oh yes, but I never try to dress up or look so snazzy myself. Snazzy is overrated." OK...I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt...I guess that could be taken as a somewhat backhanded compliment, but I sort of felt like she was making a dig at me and my outfit. I'd never met her before. Was she intimidated by how I was dressed or was she just expressing her own personal taste and stating that she isn't interested in fashion? Why would she say that?

I wouldn't have been dressed so "snazzily", but I was on my way to work so I wasn't wearing MOTG clothes. Even so, I don't have any of these popular/ubiquitous athletic wear outfits (because I'm too lazy to go to the gym or work out, LOL!). I really want to make friends with the parents so that my daughters will have friends to play with (because often times if the parents click then they'll make play dates for their kids). I'm just wondering if my fashion style is turning people off and/or intimidating them? Should I try harder to tone things down and blend in? I'm normally pretty shy and quiet so that's already kind of a social handicap for me. I try to smile and be friendly and most of the parents so far are really nice. I could see how dressing a certain way as some moms around here do (stepping out of their Range Rover, hair perfectly coiffed, full makeup and mani/pedi, designer logos head to toe) might give off a certain impression, but am I now lumped into this category because I show up in my $15 floral H&M pants?

Earlier this year when I was trying to set up a playdate to meet other moms from my online mommy board, several people said they didn't think they should come because they didn't have anything fashionable enough to wear (I post in the mommy fashion section on that board too so I'm sort of known as a fashionista there). I never said that was a requirement. I don't know if they were joking, but it ended up being only one mom that I met with. I don't want fashion to make me seem unapproachable or intimidating!

I know we've talked about this issue before--blending in with the environmental norm esp. when entering a new social group, whether at work or socially. Should I try to dress more "normally" or continue to follow my own personal style? I don't want to make this harder on myself socially! What do you do? Do you try to conform in new situations?

BTW Did I mention how much I hate the word snazzy? It seems like a putdown rather than a compliment. Definitely not one of my style aspirations!


WIW 7/3: Giving the H&M floral pants my best shot!

I've tried and tried to come up with the perfect outfit for these H&M floral pants that DH hates (both for work and MOTG) but each time it hasn't felt quite right. This is for work so he won't see it. This is my best shot at making these sophisticated and wearable. Did it work?

Anne Fontaine double collar blouse
H&M floral pants
Kate Spade turquoise Shelly pumps
Tahari black leather jacket
Banana Republic Trina Turk turquoise and citron drop earrings
Dooney & Bourke yellow satchel


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WIW 7/1: MOTG denim skirt plus leggings and sneakers to the fair

Waving at Harmonica, who inspired me to try this casual MOTG denim skirt plus leggings and sneakers look ( which is a new combo for me. It was a little hot to be wearing the cardigan but I wanted the red to match the sneakers. And the dotty bag to match the dotty blouse. The denim pencil skirt was a little more constrictive than I'd like for MOTG, but at least with the leggings I could get down and pet the goats with the kids. I wore this black hat with white ribbon to keep the sun off my face but DH says he hates the hat because it reminds him of Blossom (from the 90's sitcom). I had to look up "Blossom hat" but hmmm...maybe he does have a point! Should I get rid of the hat? And be honest--do I look like a bag lady? Now that I look at the pics maybe I do look a bit silly with the hat and all the different layers! Maybe I really am channeling Blossom (see pic #10)! But oh well, I had lots of fun with the family at the county fair!

INC red cascading cardigan
Casual Couture black and white polka dot top
Anthro denim pencil skirt
Nike black capri leggings
Marc by Marc Jacobs dotty snake bag
Red Converse (I just bought some lower ankle socks for next time)
Big Buddha black straw hat with white ribbon from DSW

1-2. Organic Fresh Squeezed Lemonade--my annual fair tradition!
3. Fire truck--the kids loved climbing up on it
4-6. Petting zoo--so hard to corral the kids and the goats into one picture!
7. Merry go Round
8. Listening to the bands
9-10. "Blossom hats"

PS I had fun dressing the kids in matching Tea outfits!


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WIW 6/28-7/2: Two work and two MOTG outfits

Feel free to skip to the pics if this is too much writing!

1. To work on Thursday. I normally wear this leather and tweed skirt with my favorite mustard paisley blouse as part of my signature outfit (see profile pic), but I thought I'd change things up and wear it with my bee blouse instead. Dark red bag and T strap shoes provide just enough color to keep it "me". With the pussy bow blouse and pencil skirt I felt very "1940's secretary" in this outfit (which is one of my favorite fashion personas!).
EmersonMade bee tie-neck blouse (the dots are little bees and crowns)
Lafayette 148 tweed pencil skirt with leather band
Clarks red T strap pumps
Fossil red executive tote

2. Later that day after work we took the kids to the playground so I changed into a MOTG outfit. This one is my interpretation of my mom's Christmas gifts from Forever21 ( bought similar pieces that fit me better and were more appropriate for my age. Much more glitter and sparkle than I usually wear, but it was fun to channel my mom for a bit. Not entirely sure about the tight tank over leggings look (even with the cardigan on top), but it was comfy to wear! Should I try a belt next time to break up the top and bottom or is it better as a column of black?
INC gold and black stripe cardigan
Calvin Klein sparkly tank
Macy's black leggings
Stuart Weitzman animal print ballet flats

3. What I wore on Saturday when we took the kids out to practice bike riding. Again, I can't help wearing white denim for MOTG even though it's totally impractical--my poor hems are getting permanently grey now! But as I said in Angie's blog post, who cares--we're having fun with the kids!
Banana Republic Trina Turk pink/yellow/orange tunic with matching bracelet
Paige Hidden Hills white bootcut jeans
Ugg Hazel sandals
Kate Spade yellow and orange straw hat from 6pm

4-5. What I wore today to work--my safari dress with leopard necklace and Fossil buckle pumps and brown leather bag. This doubled as a MOTG outfit because I had a couple hours in the afternoon since I got off a little early today, but had to go back for a work meeting in the evening. So the nanny brought the kids to the park and I ended up playing with them for a little bit.
H&M olive safari shirtdress
Linea Pelle braided leather belt
Jack Georges brown leather briefcase
Fossil buckle pumps in cognac
Secret Santa Lisa gifted necklace.

Thanks for your comments and suggestions!


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