Inspiration: Effortless Dressing

When people write about fashion, often times they say a person should have a style icon (i.e. celebrity) with a style they admire. (or flat out wish to rip off if they had the means). I pin a lot of looks, and a lot of them are not exactly fit to my lifestyle (vacuuming in this gown maybe??)

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Maybe she does, who knows? The more down to earth (and reasonable) side of me knows that I should stick with simple clothes, interchangeable, and items that can work in multiple ways.

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These women – Victoria Beckham, Clemence Poesy, Jennifer Aniston – all have simple, clean styles, and for the most part, practical styles that could work for me as well.

I am also a huge fan of Sophia Coppola. She’s beautiful without trying to be. Her style is also very French chic, and seems like it is effortless (I have a Effortless- Sophie Coppola Pinterest board that I continually drool over).

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There’s nothing particularly complicated about her look, she knows what looks good on her, and the fit is especially key to her look. The pieces are high quality (and I do think that does make a difference.)

Recently, I looked through my own closet (as I’m off to discover Blitz vintage to uncover some treasures.) I saw a lot of things…but not a lot that can do multiple duty. I have lots of color – pinks, blues, reds – and way too many stripes (my weakness). It’s time to change things up, or at least add some more neutral items.

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pardon the chaos, but that is literally what I have to work with for a closet. I have one small space upstairs about half the size with a top hang bar and a lower hang bar, neither of which allow a shirt to hang without touching the bottom, I am used to hanging everything in my huge suburban American walk-in closet, so this has been challenging to say the least

Upstairs in the ‘dressing room/useless space/office’, I have several bags of items waiting to go to the consignment store back home (where I’ve had good luck getting at least some money for items I no longer wear.) I do believe if I bring something in, something needs to go out unless the new item fills a specific need. At least in theory. In practice, I’m still working on it.

Yesterday after watching this video on HuffPostStyle, I made my list for Blitz (and I fought the urge to jump on the tube right then and there, which is progress.)

NO STRIPES

  • denim skirt
  • cropped sweater in rust/spice
  • swingy sweater in rust/spice/earth tone
  • long line cardigan in grey/black/neutral
  • loafers/brogue shoes
  • brown tote/crossbodybag

The loafers have been an item I’ve been looking for since forever. I love these ones from Everlane, but I have most definitely learned my lesson after the import duties/customs charges incident a few weeks ago. More than learned that lesson, thanks. Once summer comes along and we are back in Seattle, then maybe my Everlane loafers will be in the cards.

I do have a denim skirt I thrifted from thredUP, but while I love the quality, and the responsible values of AG, it simply does not fit me right. It’s big in the waist and I am not comfortable with the height of the back slit. I should have returned it (one of the greatest things about thredUP), but I didn’t. It sits, being unworn. A denim skirt is a valuable item in a closet because it can dressed up, maybe with this top:

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Or kept casual with a sweatshirt and scarf, or cropped sweater and under layer like this:

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Boots, trainers, sandals, even heels and clogs; the denim skirt is every bit as versatile as the the perfect pair of jeans. The other items on my list like the long cardigan and perfect brown tote (which does not exist!) are also items I’ve been searching for. The big difference between past searches and now, is I’ve actually written it down on my phone and I am determined to ONLY purchase something if it’s on my list. (something every capsule closet blog tells you to do, make a list and stick to it).

If I manage to find anything on my list that fits within that effortless style I am looking for, I will be very happy. If I don’t find anything, that’s okay too because the hunt is half the fun right?

Do you have a style icon, or a style you are looking to emulate?

I just wanted to add, as there have been some blogs/articles on affiliate links of late. None of my links are affiliated in anyway {you may find links in posts from 3+ years that were ads/reviews I was compensated for – usually with a product. each of those posts are very clearly marked as such}. If I link a product or website, I simply like the product or want to point you to what I’m mentioning. If I ever do have an affiliate link, I will mention it very clearly. Because if I made money from blogging that’d be cool! 

How about a little tree-hugging, car style?

One of the things that occupies my mind these days, is deciding on what car to buy when we return to the US in July. I know, most of you are thinking, that’s months away, and yes, it is. But I am a closet car junkie (or not so closet maybe). I love cars. I love auto shows. One of the biggest disappointments of my trip to Seattle in November was that I was one week too early to go to the Seattle Auto Show. Like I tried to think up excuses of any kind in order to stay type of disappointment.

I really do like auto shows.

I have always been tuned into recycling and environmental awareness, but as things keep charging towards a total meltdown on the climate change front, I’ve become very concerned about what I can do to help. I’ve been watching the extraordinary program Years of Living Dangerously, (now on season 2) and have started reading the book, Climate Change: What Everyone Needs To Know by Joseph Romm. Leonardo DiCaprio’s film Before The Flood is also worth watching.

That leads me back to cars, one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters of CO2. The increase of hybrid cars has been fantastic over the last 5 years, the most famous (in my mind) of hybrids, the Toyota Prius. I have always liked the Prius, and almost put my name on a list for one when they first were introduced.

But I am not in love with the most recent body style, which after enduring years of the hideous (but wonderful) Subaru Outback, I’d like my next car to have a little bit of beauty. So my next car needs to at least have some. One of the big selling points for finding a used Prius is that after a year or two of trying out the hybrid life, I could then pass this car on to the Boy {who {pinch me} will have a drivers license}. Then I get to play Let’s Buy A Car all over again. At which point Tesla should have the Model 3 out…

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and boy, is that purrrty.

There are plenty of things in the works in the hybrid, hybrid-electric, and electric car departments. Nissan has the Rogue hybrid for those in a more mini-sport-ute kind of mindset (Toyota also has the Rav4 and Highlander hybrids). Mini is bringing out the Countryman in a plug in hybrid-electric sometime this spring.

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Mmm, teal + bonnet stripes. {did you know we used to have a Mini convertible? talk about a fun little car, plus there’s a Mini club we used to belong to and they do super fun things like the Mini Road Rally, and the Mini dealership put on The Seattle Job: Team Photo Scavenger Hunt, Mini people are just FUN, they even do the little wave when you cross paths while driving}

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our Team cars & our Maggie convertible in red

 

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yep, two kids in the back!

Tesla has announced the new Model 3 in a reasonable price range (starting around $35k) but details are still forthcoming on production. I would 1000% wait for the Tesla if I knew for sure they could meet the estimated start production timeline of July 2017. As of last May, 373,000 people had placed a $1,000 deposit for the Model 3.(source) If I felt at all comfortable just plunking down $80,000 for a the current Tesla model, I’d do it.

One of the biggest drawbacks to an all electric (in my case) is that several times a year, I need to go 300 miles from Seattle to my parents house in Idaho. As I have discovered with the app Charge Point, there are quite a few charge stations along my route of I90 from Seattle to Coeur D’Alene. It’s not out of the question to make it work.

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I am very intrigued by the look of the BMW i3, and by it’s possibilities. It’s cute (I’ve always thought so), and apparently full of that fabulous German pep I so dearly love. And we already have a connection with our local Seattle dealer since that’s where we bought our last BMW. The only big sticker, is the sticker shock (haha). It’s nothing like a full-on Tesla, but it’s not cheap-o either. This is one of the things I am personally okay with knowing that I am doing my part to reduce CO2 and save the planet and generally the world.

My cape is on order.

One other good point to going all-electric if these articles can be believed, it is possible to charge the BMW i3 up to 99% in one hour with a public fast charger. So I could drive to Bellevue Square, plug into one of the MANY chargers in the public garage, eat lunch & shop, and come back to a fully charged car. {i hate to say it but, BOOM}

I’m still no closer to make a true full-on decision. I need to drive the i3, sit in the new bigger Mini, take stock of used Prius 4’s, and work out my top priorities for a new car. I’d love to hear thoughts if you have a hybrid, especially if you’ve ever driven one of these cars!

If the sun shines

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If the sun shines in London, make sure you are enjoying it, like Mr. Peacock here. There’s one definite way to enjoy a sunny, warm, winter day in London; go to Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is one of my favorite places (and I will miss it dearly when we move home). I have more than gotten my money back from my membership. And then some.

Originally I wanted to take pictures in front of the Chinese Pagoda. The walls are red and I thought my green peacoat would look great in front it. Unfortunately, (or fortunately since it needs it), the pagoda is under restoration which I knew was coming but they’ve already started. With the area blocked off by fences, I had to come up with another plan. Thankfully, Kew Gardens is huge, so there are plenty of other places to take pictures.

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Along the far back side of the gardens is Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. While it isn’t open to the public during the week {I believe it is also closed in winter}, it does make a great backdrop for photos.

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Taken on a previous visit

It is insanely peaceful in this part of the garden and not that many people wander that far, though I did have a few people wander past today. I think the day was just too nice to pass up a stroll through the woods.

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Wellies were the footwear of choice today for wandering off the path and amongst the muddy grass. If you don’t leave the path, you’ll miss out on beautiful things.

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It might only be February, and the begin of it at that, but it certainly feels like spring might be on the horizon. The rhododendrons were already in bloom.

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If it should rain tomorrow, at least I can look back on today when the sun was shining and warm, and remember, tomorrow’s another day.

Maybe it’ll be sunny.

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Feminism; and for the love of politics

How relevant is this word these days; feminism? In light of all the things going on (going wrong) in America now, it’s definitely a topic that is applicable to my life. What is feminism?

feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

Am I a feminist? Well, yes, and no. I do believe in equal rights – and not just for women, but for everyone. Every person should have the same rights, same pay, same opportunities. There are some movements/groups etc that take a very harsh line with feminism. An in your face, and all the crass words (that I will not use), that go along with it.

That is not what feminism is to me.

Maybe I am just an old-school, wanna-be southern gentile kind of person. You can say how you feel and what you think without resorting to using language that doesn’t belong in polite company, or around children. When movements/groups use these words, I think you take away from the important points you try to make.

Isn’t it more important to be above the names? above the uneducated view?

It is to me.

The marches that have taken place around the world in protest of Trump as president, have blown me away. Blown. Me. Away. Lots of people have spoken a lot more elegantly than I have on this topic. Comedians have given some pretty dang good commentaries. I found this particular article recounting a two line exchange between a marcher and a non-marcher to be really, really awesome.

Here’s what feminism means to me relative to the world we are living in today:

be strong. stand up for your rights. don’t let anyone tell you you can’t change the world. women, men, people in other countries, are right there with you. continue to fight.

There are a lot of ways to be involved and make sure America doesn’t completely spin out of control more than it already has in two short weeks. You can call your senators to protest against Education nominee DeVos. You can write to your senators and tell them about the issues you want them to fight for. Trump has reached a majority disapproval rating the fastest in the history of a president. It only took him 8 days.
‏Will Jordan @williamjordann

Days until achieving MAJORITY disapproval from @Gallup

Reagan: 727
Bush I: 1336
Clinton: 573
Bush II: 1205
Obama: 936

Trump: 8. days.

That’s pretty impressive, you have to admit. There are also endless videos you can Google of Trump and his staff contradicting themselves, outright lying, creating ‘alternative facts’ (what are those anyway?) 

It would really be funny if it wasn’t my country this guy is screwing with. If we want to start WWIII, I’m pretty sure Trump will be the one to do it.

I guess the point of this post is to ask people to keep fighting to do the right thing, speak up and be heard, and get things to change. Be a feminist. Personally, I’m predicting a Trump impeachment (hopefully much sooner, rather than later, you know, so there’s at least a tiny bit of the world left who doesn’t hate Americans). But most importantly, speaking as an American living in a country that is not my own, remember that me being an American doesn’t mean I share the views of the man in charge of my country. I didn’t ask for or vote for him, but it’s who got. And now we have to keep going.

Be Kind. To everyone.

The world really needs it right now.

Inspiration: Forests

I love the woods. I love trees. I love the smell of moss. There’s nothing quite like standing in the middle of a forest and experiencing that deep woodsy scent. It’s all earth, and dirt, and wet, and a bit of mold. But there is also pine and sap and an almost sweet quality to the air. I love buying rosemary because the scent is like a pine tree: rich with a hint of an almost lemon quality.

It makes sense that I love forests and trees since I grew up in the Evergreen State of Washington. Trees have been familiar to me from the very beginning of my existence. My family went camping and boating all summer, and skiing all winter. My sister and I lived outdoors as much as possible. Our backyard as children contained pine trees, and when the needles would fall I would make a bed for our dog or seats for my dolls. I’ve lived around forests (of one kind or another, in many places) and they truly do make me happy.

There are a lot of poems about forests, and soul searching, the most famous of course, written by Robert Frost. We all know the line ‘two roads diverged in a wood and I/ I took the one less traveled by/ and that has made all the difference’ but the poem in it’s entirety is incredibly beautiful.

 Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There’s lots of meaning in there, deep and light, soul searching and surface. To chop it up into just the little snippet that is so frequently used is to do injustice to Robert Frost’s brilliance.

There is something magical about forests and trees, something peaceful but also something very dark. Secrets surely exist and are buried in the forest, contemplation and thoughts of all kinds have been left to trees by people needing a bit of comfort or advice.

Thoreau was on to something there I think. Spending time alone, like the trees are alone in the forest, can also make a person happy. Hiking in solace, and quiet, where your mind can think and breathe and be. You sometimes come across the light.

The light is warmth and kindness and acceptance, daring as it were to infiltrate the dark and moody trees. The landscape changed by the little rays of sun, a talisman in the dark.

The forest comes alive, and maybe we were never alone to begin with. Maybe the trees were talking to us all along. They were there, just waiting, and listening.

What inspires you today? What do you have to say to the trees?

Days 7-10, and Final Thoughts for the Future

The #Winter10x10 (day 1; days 2-3, days 4-6) has ended, and I definitely learned a few things along the way. Unfortunately I also came down with a terrible cold so days 7-10 did not go as planned. But let’s review them anyway (I only have phone snaps):

Day 7:

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I spent the morning out at the V&A, and The Design Museum. Something I learned early on in London is that no matter where you go, even a museum, they will have the heat cranked to 95 whenever possible. Going to Westfield Mall is like going to a sauna. It’s no wonder that I hate in-person shopping nowWhen going out in winter, it is a conundrum. You need to be warm for all the time you spend outside walking from tube to bus to destination. But on the tube/bus, and at your destination, it’s hot. Sometimes unbearably so (hello Piccadilly line!) Layers can be your best friend. Be sure to add a large handbag to hold said layers as you recklessly tear off scarf, coat, gloves, sweater and hat.

Here I’m wearing the jeans and stripe shirt from my 10 items. I also threw on a wool cape I bought last year at the Windsor Horse Show. I added my black trainers for walking comfort. (And I did a LOT of walking since the V&A is at South Kensington Station tunnel, and the Design Museum is Kensington High Street station and a 1/2 mile walk.) I was warm but not too warm and very comfortable. Overall, I liked this look. It could easily work with the white button-down shirt underneath, or black pants and flats. I added a necklace from White Stuff and my Pandora bracelet.

Day 8:

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For day 8, I went with my People Tree dress. It’s so comfortable and warm, even with tights in winter weather when you spend significant time outside waiting for the school bus.

The dress is navy blue, with a fun purple-pink lining so you could cuff the sleeves in spring to give it a little more color. I added my brown boots from my 10 items, and a scarf. I like this dress a lot and I think it’ll get lots of use pretty much all year round except in the dead heat of summer (which is for about 2-3 weeks).

Day 9:

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This is how I spent day 9, just me, my dachshund, and Netflix. Peppermint tea, a cozy blanket and a nap also played a part in my day. I had on skinny jeans, my warm-as-heck Finisterre wool jumper, and my trusty Mahabias slippers. I can’t wear this jumper very often. Because it is Just.That.Warm. But it is made by such a fantastic company, you should really check out their stuff and their ethics. (read about their wool initiative, and the plastics project – thumbs up!) Their main thing is providing cold-water surf gear, but there’s plenty for those of us who aren’t crazy.

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Day 10:

It should have been a triumphant day 10, but I felt really, really awful, so I spent it like this:

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Tea, tea, and more tea. A good book, and some comfy pj’s. Some times you just have to accept defeat.

Takeaways:

#1 White I did learn some important things during my #Winter10x10. I need to stop being afraid to wear white. Yes, sometimes things happen, but it’s okay to wear white and I actually like doing so. I’m so confident I’ve put this top/tunic into my wardrobe for summer, this blouse, and this dress

Lesson: White doesn’t scare me anymore! You can take a white shirt and make so many combinations, and just by adding a scarf, a cape, a necklace, it can totally change how the same shirt looks. Which brings me to…

#2 Accessories I never used to pay a lot of attention to jewelry/scarves/etc. I would throw on a outfit – jeans, shirt, and go. But by taking 5 extra minutes to look at tying on a scarf, or adding a belt, or a few necklaces, I can take a look from okay to great & polished. This is something I want to continue to work on. I don’t have a lot of jewelry, and what I do have is fairly old (5-10 years). The look is less polished/simple and more fussy than I like so I think that’s what has kept me from wearing all but my favorite pieces. It’s an area I want to improve, and to find a few really good necklaces that can work with multiple outfits.

#3 It’s a Process, and Ethical Matters For the past year and a half, I have been trying to cultivate my wardrobe by doing a capsule, doing 10×10 challenges, and clearing out the items I do not wear. I’ve still made bad choices by purchasing things I haven’t ended up wearing. Those items are waiting for the consignment shop at home. One thing I’ve really tried to remember (and I’ve done pretty good with) is to buy from ethical, responsible, and sustainable companies. It’s not an easy thing to do when we as consumers are bombarded by fast fashion and the I-Have-To-Have-That-Look of social media. I’m plenty guilty.

What I hope is that I am making better choices now. I’ve made purchases from Hackwith House Design, Finisterre, People Tree, Everlane, Need Supply and Mean It Ethical Fashion over the last year and a half (among others like Nudie Jeans). I’m aware now that the Zara, GAP, JCrew & H&M worlds do not support what I believe in. They aren’t paying a living wage,  checking to make sure children aren’t working in the factories, and making sure the people who are making our clothes are doing so in a safe environment. These things matter to me, and hopefully they matter to you.

I’m going to continue to do fashion challenges, 7×7, 10×10, 30×30, 1 dress/30 days. All of these have taught me about figuring out what my style is and how to get creative with the things I already own. As I need to, it’s okay to add pieces to my wardrobe, with the idea that it needs to be a responsibly made item, it needs to serve a purpose, and whenever possible, it needs to replace something that wasn’t working for me. And that old item can be donated or sent to consignment to be worn by someone else. I’m excited to get to the day where I stand before my closet and I can’t decide what to wear because I love every single thing in it.

By doing these small challenges, they are preparing me for a really big one coming my way this summer: 1 suitcase, 6-8 weeks. Because that’s about all I’ll have while all of our possessions move by slow boat from London to Seattle. It will be my ultimate challenge, and I want to do it on a minimal piece count (under 25 if I can).

Have you thought about doing a 10×10 or capsule wardrobe? What would yours look like?

Thanks to Lee at StyleBee and Caroline at Un-Fancy for making this such a fun event!

 

Half-way: Days 4-6, Winter 10×10

Weekends! Who doesn’t love the weekend? The house is full of people on the weekend, and it’s not the easiest to get any pictures, so Sunday is quite light with only one picture. My daughter, The Chick, did take some pictures for me though, both outdoor and indoor shots. A mini budding photographer!

Outfit 4:

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I love this dress! It’s ethically made from PeopleTree, and has pockets. It’s also very comfortable and warm. I sat at the bus stop unsheltered for 30 minutes on Friday (with a coat, obviously), but I wasn’t cold at all, which was surprising since it was about 35 degrees. I don’t ‘love’ the way the scarf looks, but I can never figure out tying them. Something goes inherently wrong every.time. I talked about the boots in my previous post. They will be replaced. asap.

Outfit details: dress, PeopleTree; boots, Sonoma (old); scarf, Nordstrom (old); hobo bag, Tommy Hilfiger.

Day 5: I had two looks for day 5. In the morning my daughter had a dentist appointment (and the office is always overheated), but after lunch we went out to Kew Gardens because cold or not sometimes you just need to get out of the house. I added a sweatshirt and changed to trainers because it was wet/muddy. It wasn’t super cold, and the gardens were busy people who had the same idea we did. My daughter took the outdoor pictures.

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For the first time using the big camera, she did pretty good! I cropped these quite a bit, but Chick certainly enjoyed playing photographer. And she works cheap. I paid her in a hot chocolate with marshmallows from Nero. (Coat & hat: Eddie Bauer, old;  you can find the rest of my outfit details in my previous posts from Winter10x10)

My Kew membership expires at the end of April, and I am seriously debating paying the £79 to renew it even though we will only be here through the end of June. I really do go that often because it is such a relaxing place (and so big, you can easily move deep into the gardens and be all by yourself with the squirrels!) Now that I have found a place to be in nature (which has always been my favorite place), I’m looking forward to visiting Bellevue Botanical Garden, which I just discovered online the other day. Even though we live in the suburbs in Seattle and there are fabulous walking trails through the trees (literally) steps from my door, I do enjoy seeing all the flowers. Maybe it’s because I can’t keep flowers alive, so I visit those who can.

Day 6: Sunday I spent the morning cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry, changing linens; always a fun way to spend a Sunday. I added wellies for a trip to the grocery as it was raining elephants. All you need to survive in England are wellies and a good mac. Maybe a brolly or two. It’s a simple phone snap by the Chick. Sometimes uncomplicated is good. I did ‘cheat’ by pulling on leggings from White Stuff instead of jeans, and wellies instead of trainers.

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The boots are from Hunter but I have to say, they won’t be staying. While excellent quality, they give me a terrible blister on my heel even just walking the 700 feet to the M&S. Why can’t that ever occur when you walk around in the store? As these were *pricey* they will be going to the consignment store back in Seattle (along with other wrong, expensive clothing choices). I’ll stick with my el-cheapo’s.

If you read all of this and don’t know what the Winter 10×10 is, head over to StyleBee or Un-Fancy for all the details! You can also search these hashtags on Instagram #winter10x10 #stylebee10x10 and #unfancyremix to see who else is playing along and get some inspiration of your own!