Mighty Life List
Sep 9 2010

Packing Light: Dublin


This is every item of clothing I packed for seven days in Dublin. I’m doing a campaign for L.L.Bean’s Signature Collection and they sent me a giant box of clothes, so I’m wearing a few of those items below. That means you can actually obtain some of these pieces, instead of cursing me when I tell you that everything you love was purchased at a vintage shop in 2001.

L.L.Bean Signature Silk Habutai Dress Polka Dot

For example, this perfectly faded brown dress with polka dots? It’s L.L.Bean’s Silk Habutai Dress, and it’s so Little Orphan Annie. Except it’s made of heavy silk, but who says orphans can’t have nice things? Jerks, that’s who.

Anyway, as I mentioned recently, belts are a challenge for me. I’ve been trying to up my game on that front, so I bought a few from H&M and this is my first attempt. I felt so pulled together, ya’ll. The cardigan I’m belting here is also H&M, but it’s from the men’s section, which is where they keep all the good stuff.

The grey tights are Target, and the magic travel boots are from Argentina. They’ve gotten me through more trips than I can count.

Let’s get a closer look at those blue polka dots:

Hello, little buddies.

This is my travel outfit, hence the action pose. It’s a knit dress I got at a thrift store, worn with an H&M elastic belt and the aforementioned tights and boots. I also wore a grey sweater wrap that I didn’t get a photo of, but you can see it in my New York post from a couple years ago. It doubles as an airplane blanket.

I’m wearing the dress on the way back home too, so I’ll be washing it in the bathtub while I’m here. Airplane germs gross me out. Another reason to do a quick rinse:

This is the dress worn as a top. I’ve cleverly safety pinned the sides to the outside layer of my Express Ultra Skinny Stella jean pockets. You can also use extra large safety pins to do a gathering effect on the sides of your dress, which is slightly more labor intensive, but arguably more effective. There are those boots again. I love you, boots.

The necklace is also H&M, it makes everything a little more current. Unlike these killer sleeves. What’s up 1983? We miss your economy.

I borrowed this sweater from Bryan who got it at Macy’s a few years back. He never wears it, and it’s super soft. His loss. That’s an L.L.Bean Tweed Skirt and army green tights from Target.

The circle scarf is H&M, and I love how easy it is to mess with proportions when you’re wearing it. Also, coziness.

These are my Rudolf Dassler PUMAs, which I adore, so of course they rub away the skin over my Achilles tendon. I’ve been trying to decide whether I strictly need that skin, so I’ve taken to tying them lower. This frees up a lot of extra lace, hence the creative lace tying. I like the way it looks, so I’ve been doing that with all my sneakers now.

This is a packing minimization outfit. We’re revisiting the cardigan, boots, and jeans.

I forget where the shirt came from, but I bought it because I liked the gathering around the neck and cuffs. You have to iron it like crazy though, and I only seem to have time for that when I’m on vacation.

The hat is hand knit, I got it at a thrift store where I get almost all of my hand-knit items. For the record, if someone hand knits you something and you send it to a thrift store? I’m pretty sure you need to go to confession, or sacrifice a goat or something. Or at least learn how to knit things that other people can then throw away — full circle.

I try to pack PJs I can wear as clothes in a pinch, so this is a tank top and cropped sweats from who knows where. I wear the tank under stuff for an extra layer if it’s cold. The comfy pants are nice if I get sick and want to be cozy, or if my flight is delayed and everything I’m wearing is coated in airport goo.

Chic librarian is my preferred look, so this is my favorite outfit for the trip.

These are L.L.Bean’s Cuffed Cropped Pant. They are fantastic. I’d normally wear them with a chunky heel, but we’re walking on cobblestones in the rain here, so these are cheap, destroyable flats from Target.

The cashmere cardigan is from the Alameda Flea Market, the Peter Pan collar top was 99 cents on eBay, and the modernized cat-eye glasses are Dolce and Gabbana. The hair scarf is actually a belt from a polyester ’70s dress I got at a thrift store when I was in high school. Yeah. It’s time to clean out my closet.

Thanks to the team at L.L.Bean Signature Collection for sponsoring this post.
Next time I have a clambake, you are so invited.

Aug 30 2010

Flashback Monday: Women’s Fashion Part II, Color

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

Black is easy. Black is mythic. It can make you look 120 pounds when you weigh 250. Black is the new…well, you’ve heard it. But do you own anything that makes you laugh when you put it on? Not even a pair of ducky yellow boots tucked into the back corner of your closet?

If not, you need more happy clothes. Even in big cities where women tend to be more adventurous with their clothing, you can count ten women in muted colors for every one woman wearing a bright blue raincoat or green trousers. This is why designers have such an easy time hooking us with their color du season. We’re starved for something juicy.

And you can be juicy. Oh, yes.

Now in Technicolor

Color gets you noticed, especially when everyone else looks as though they’re in mourning. Think of who gets photographed at the Oscars: Nicole Kidman in her chartreuse Galliano, Gwyneth Paltrow in her glowing pink Ralph Lauren, Kate Winslet in her flowering red Ben de Lisi. Remember Helen Hunt’s black Gucci cloak dress? Or Julianne Moore’s sheer black Chanel? Yeah, neither does anyone else.

Get some glad rags. If your closet lacks color, refuse to buy any more navy, beige, brown, or black until your wardrobe is more vibrant. You may hear the inner voice that your mother so cultivated, shouting, ‘A pink suede skirt? That won’t go with anything!’ Perhaps. But it will make you want to shimmy.

Don’t wear green if green makes you look dead. How can you tell? Stand near a window in the store so you can see the color and your skin tone in a natural light. Now hold the item in question up to your face. Do you glow a little, or do you look hungover? If you are hungover and you still glow a little, snap that baby up. Also pay attention to people’s comments. If they ask whether you’re feeling tired when you wear your green sweater, chuck it. If they ask whether you’ve just had your hair cut, buy some more skirts to go with your fabulous green sweater.

Eschew black for special occasions. Consider your little black dress a standby for events that catch you off guard, not a default. If you know a fete is coming, find an outfit that will own the room, something that snaps. This will make you easy to find in a crowd, which makes it easier for charming strangers to hit on you.

Invest in a bright coat. It looks fantastic with an all-neutral outfit, and can make even a T-shirt and jeans look stylish. A colorful coat also adds some flare to more conservative work outfits.

Wear more red. It’s the only color that’s both bold and classic, and every woman can find a shade that flatters her. If you’re not sure what looks good on you, go to an upscale makeup counter and ask them to help you find a red lipstick that works with your complexion. Once you’ve found something attractive, you can buy red clothing with the same base shades. Nothing beats a red dress for sex appeal. If you don’t believe me, lick your finger, press it to your hip, and make a sizzling sound. Now isn’t that more convincing when you’re wearing red?

Mix and Match

The best way to figure out what colors work well together is to pay attention to fashion spreads and imitate the combinations you like. Hard-and-fast fashion rules on what matches and what doesn’t are somewhat naive. Styles are in constant flux. While neon pink with lime green would have been fine in the ’80s, today it would be a cause for concern. Some basic guidelines:

Stick to two or three colors per outfit. The rainbow effect hasn’t worked since you were six. If you’re pairing solids, choose two colors and work with those, perhaps adding a touch of a third color in your earrings or with a pair of strappy shoes.

Dress in color families. When you’ve collected enough pieces in a single color family, consider wearing them together once in awhile. Of course, they should be shades that match, mint green isn’t so hot with olive drab, and they should also be tones that vary. Wearing exactly the same shade of a bright color from head to toe can be an assault on passersby, but pairing a barely turquoise angora sweater with a robin’s-egg wool skirt looks smashing. Avoid an undesirable schizophrenic effect by offsetting a monochromatic outfit with a swingy little jacket and shoes in neutral shades or accessories in a complementary, but distinctly different, color.

Pay attention to color tones. Pastels work better with other light colors, while saturated colors work well together. Pale pink is beautiful with beige, but dark pinks are nicer with a chocolate color.

Pucci Over Pinstripe

Patterned clothing isn’t nearly as versatile as solids. There are a few exceptions—pinstripes, Burberry plaid—but patterns are often a liability. They hang forlornly in your closet because they don’t go with anything; they’re the reason that your white T-shirt is always in the wash.

Still, patterns are fun, and fun is the point. So if you’re going to buy a few things that don’t match much, buy outrageous things. See that bright green ’60s print with huge blue barracudas swimming all over it? That’s what I’m talking about. See that little tank top with the giant spiky flowers in fuchsia, and red? There are forty others like it on the sale rack, because no one else was brave enough to wear them. You don’t have those kinds of hang-ups. Vintage shops and deeply discounted sales racks are the best places to find striking prints.

Those who feel exposed in a crazy, dramatic pattern can balance it with classic clothing in a conservative cut. If you’re not particularly adept at choosing colors that work together, select a neutral or a shade featured prominently in the pattern. Your new barracuda pants would look great with a slate gray T-shirt. Your floral tank would be sweet with a little red skirt.

Tennis Bracelets Are for Sissies

If you’re not a brave girl, or you don’t have enough extra cash to invest in a fuchsia section of your closet, start with accessories. You can dress as conservatively as you like and still look dashing if you wear bold jewelry. What do I mean by bold? Colorful, and big.

Find two or three bright colors that you love—a lipstick crimson, Tiffany’s blue—and begin to collect scarves, pins, and bracelets in those colors. Bright, dramatic jewelry is especially nice with clothes that take no chances. A beige T-shirt, jeans, and sandals looks ho-hum until you add a chunky orange necklace. Your little black dress stands out if you added aquamarine chandelier earrings or a pink tassel necklace that falls to your waist.

The extra bonus with dramatic jewelry is that you can always remove it and stuff it in your purse if you feel overdressed or silly. This is not as true of thigh-high leather boots that lace up the back.

Bold and Brave

Nothing looks good on a woman who isn’t brave, and it takes a brave woman to wear orange pants. Not everyone will like what you’re wearing, but a few people will love it as much as you do. Those people are the correct ones.

Fashionable women are willing to wear what other women won’t (yet). They have a sense of humor about what they put on their bodies, and they’re often respected less for their artistry than their chutzpah.

What the rest of us need to figure out is how to be daring without being reckless. Playing with color is the most foolproof way to do that. Next time, buy the pink suede skirt. It’s practical.

Aug 18 2010

Failing My Black Belt Test


Obi Belt

Does anyone else suck at wearing belts?


ASOS Square Buckle Skinny Boyfriend Belt

I must be missing the gene, because every time I try to add a belt to my outfit, it only seems to make things worse.


Super Wide Elastic Belt

Belt mastery is the highest form of fashion-fu.

Jun 24 2010

Party Hat

This star headband from Giant Dwarf is for birthday drinks with your girlfriends. You might need one.

(via My Vanity Fair)

May 21 2010

New Bag!

I used to have a perfect travel purse that was just the right size for toting a magazine, a snack, and little purchases while I was knocking around a new town, but then it disintegrated. I’ve been looking for a new one for years, and had given up hope of getting one without spending $500 (no way), and then I spotted this amazing vintage saddle bag from Hollie and Jane at Ainslie Wood Co.:

I love it. Hollie and Jane have become Internet friends, so they tucked a special treat in the bag for me:

Aw. Buying stuff from people you like is better than buying it other places.

Speaking of which, someone needs to buy this poncho, which I would be all over if the color didn’t make me look undead.

May 6 2010

Mighty Closet, Pam Daghlian, Outfit 4

I think Pam and I look like we’re related. I was telling her that when my camera acted up. The colors went all wonky, the lens laughed at me when I tried to focus, the battery started making rude jokes about my mom.

Pam was very patient through it all.

Really. Seriously patient.

But I wasn’t able to get a good full-length shot of her outfit. So we’ll have to piece it together.

This is what the top of her dress looks like, it’s also by Sunhee Moon.

This is how it looks when she’s sitting down. The patchwork bag was a Renegade Craft Fair purchase. It’s by Raeburn Ink.

And here’s how the dress would look if Pam were headless.

Her footless black tights are from Hue, and the Mary Janes are Dansko.

Pam, everyone wants to know where you got your glasses. Let us know in comments and I’ll update here. Her jade beaded necklace was a gift, as was her bone structure.

Tomorrow, tune in for Pam’s cocktail outfit. Are you ready, Pam?

Please. Pam was born ready.

May 3 2010

Mighty Closet: Pam Daghlian, Outfit 1

This is Pam Daghlian, and she is fun. Pam is the type of person who makes lists of things to do on Post-it Notes and sticks them to the wall so she and her husband have ideas when they have a little free time. She laughs a lot, and she has a great smile. See?

Pretty great.

I met Pam because she runs events for Adaptive Path, which used to be one of my freelance clients. Pam looks so sharp every time I see her at an event. She chooses clothes with clean lines, and isn’t afraid of color.

Her simple apple-green skirt is by San Francisco’s Sunhee Moon. You can never find this perfect A-line skirt because Pam bought them all. She says, “I have this same skirt in black, denim, and light blue, and they’ve got my number to call when new colors come in.”

Tip! Try a simple skirt as your base layer instead of throwing on yet another pair of jeans. Well played, lady.

Her denim jacket with zipper detail is Anthropologie, and the colorful scarf is Oilily.

Her peacock feather bracelet is Ambience.

Watches are so much more convenient than digging out your cell phone. This one is Red Monkey.

When I asked Pam if she’d do a Mighty Closet, she looked baffled, even though she was dressed impeccably when I asked. Perhaps it’s because Pam is a woman dedicated to sensible shoes. She has to be on her feet all day for events, so she needs practical footwear. Exhibit A:

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These Dansko shoes aren’t objectionable, and they work pretty well with the outfit, but some wedges or bright pink ballet flats would pull the look together much better. I told her we’d post her crazy cute clothes and then go out for a shoe makeover whenever she said the word. Shoe makeover! Pam, I’m waiting by the phone.

Tomorrow, join us for Pam’s lazy Sunday look.