April 13, 2012

Spring Uniform: Work and Play

I think my style is progressing backwards. Right after college, one of my dear friends got a job at American Apparel. I remember sitting on my stoop talking to him on the phone about our low-paying jobs, and asking him what I needed from his new gig. “You’re kind of beyond t-shirts,” he said. And let’s just say that I smoothed my hands over the perfectly cheery vintage sundress I might have been wearing at the time and agreed.

But today I’m in love with a t-shirt (that lilac-colored one up there), and it’s the cornerstone of my spring uniform. Tuck it into a pencil skirt with a blazer and go to work. Tie a scarf on your head, slap on some jeans and platforms, and you’re ready for any kind of fun. Allow me to introduce you to my new muse, the Daybreak Tee. It’s linen jersey which feels a little grown up, and gives the fabric a streaky, almost space-dyed quality. It’s got an uber-flattering v-neckline, a scooped hem, and sweet little cap sleeves. It’s also $40: the most I’ve ever spent on a t-shirt. And this is where the cost-per-wear calculations come in. By the end of the summer, I think these little singlets will have proved themselves a great value.

And so for spring, at work and at play, I’m gravitating towards super-flattering basics punched up with quirky, personality-filled accessories and a swoop of liquid eyeliner to channel that ’60s starlet feeling. I find putting together collages like these so instructive both for shopping and getting dressed: once you have the template laid out, it’s much easier to pull it together in real life. A word about these Polyvore collages: I often choose items based on their color or shape, not because I’m actually going to buy a $500 A.P.C. trench coat. (Just felt the need to get that out there.)

What’s your uniform in this hard-to-dress-for season? Do you rely on the perfect cardigan, or a beloved trench? What do you wear on those days when a t-shirt is too little but a jacket is too much? And why did no one tell me how amazing a great t-shirt can be? (This feels like the moment when I discovered down was a bajillion times warmer than wool.)

April 6, 2012

Run On Playlist

Discovering I liked hip hop was like tasting ice cream for the first time. It came during a stretch of time where I was dipping my toe into all kids of newness (swimming lessons, playing guitar) that made a life of same old, same old feel wondrously new and fresh again. Despite creaky geriatric knees, I’ve tried to get back into running in the last several weeks with better form. After a day trapped in my own head and sitting still at a computer, it makes me so happy to cue up this mix and start moving. And if I were being completely honest, I would probably have to tell you that some part of me likes to channel Wonder Woman when I’m working out. I stop just short of the wrist bands, but I imagine that I am very tough and about to kick someone’s ass with my ferocious intensity. I am fit! I am a hero! I really wish I were wearing a tiara! It makes the moments go by with a bit more fun, and these songs are the perfect background to my toughness. (Also recommended for pre-going out mode, while you’re primping in the bathroom!) Happy weekend!

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March 30, 2012

Spring Air, and Blossoms

photo: raceytay

The spring air has been like a character in my life this week, like a messenger. It started to follow me first on Monday, a bright, cold, wind-whipping day. I trudged up a long tunnel of an avenue to get a bowl of spring soup: sweet peas and feathery dill tucked among dark, earthy mushrooms.

Twice this week, as I’ve been out and about after dark, coming home from an appointment or the drugstore, the air has felt nostalgic and a little out-of-season; I smelled a fire burning. It made the night seem snug and welcoming.

Wednesday night I walked home from the gym. I had been listening to the This American Life, “Switched at Birth,” and was feeling a little sad for it. Imagine being the mother who knew another woman had your baby. Imagine being the daughters who, after a lifetime of feeling out of place in small, needling ways, discover there’s a very big reason why.

And then I stepped outside. I was bracing myself for cold, maybe just out of habit. The air really felt like spring: warm, fragrant, sweet.

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March 26, 2012

What Are Your Favorite Books for Spring?

I spent the better part of a lazy weekend in bed reading Come to the Edge. It was one of those rare I-can’t-put-it-down books with the added appeal of being about first love, complete with riding on bicycle handlebars and romantic trips out of town.

I felt inspired to hunker down into someone else’s world: on Thursday evening, I overheard a group of three women at a bar drinking Miller Life High and discussing Jane Eyre at their first book club meeting. And then on Friday night, at a dinner party uptown where we ate off plates on our laps, I met a fellow whose book club was also reading Jane Eyre. He had just seen Jane carried from the bed of Helen Burns in the gray light of morning.

Winter is my favorite reading season: it calls for mysteries, the Gothic, Barbara Pym, and soothing childhood favorites. Fall comes next with its crisp back-to-school feeling, and summer is juicy, with paperback pages greasy with sunscreen. But what kind of reading season is spring? What books feel right in spring? Farm life? Paris? I’m ready for something new, ready to fall into a new favorite and another world. What are your favorite books for spring? Let’s get another ultimate reading list going!

Photo: WPA poster via