Monday, December 23, 2013

O Christmas Card Part 7

After finally continuing my family's stroll down Christmas card memory lane yesterday, I was inspired to soldier on and finish this series once and for all. If you have missed any of the previous chapters in this compelling story of "How I Developed an Unhealthy Obsession with Christmas Cards," then you can catch up on Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six

When we last left, I was finally out of high school, which you think would possibly begin the inevitable demise of my involvement in the family Christmas card. If anything, it just made everything more involved, as we were no longer children who could only be expected to get along and pose for so long.


When I see photo, all I can think is "Giiiiiirl what you doing with that tie?" Like this is post-Avril Lavigne Sk8tr Boi and also, it's Thanksgiving. Yes, I admit- this one was not a staged photo shoot. Even the Scalera's have to recycle a photo every now and then. 


Another fall photo shoot, because nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like being barefoot among fallen leaves. This is another case of my mom wanting us to be wearing similar things but slightly different, you know, to really highlight our personalities. And what better way to do that than with... sweaters!


I'm not sure why the quality of this card is so bad, but I'm guessing that the good ones were sent out to people and all that was left for the book was this reject one. This was another double whammy of a year in the Scalera family, as it was my sister's first pageant title and I graduated from college. Becky had begun her freshman year at Plymouth State University as I ended my senior year, hence the t-shirts. Since I didn't actually walk in graduation, I didn't even have the official garb, which meant I had to borrow this mortorboard from someone. I mean, the tassel doesn't even match the PSU colors! (Again, continuity hasn't always been one of our strong points.) This also marks the first year that we tried to get Felix the cat to be in the picture, which has actually proven to be more work than taking photos of children. First of all, he is completely black, resulting in only his creepy eyes to be seen in pretty much every photo we've ever taken of him. Also he's kind of a jerk and tries to scratch us to get away, so we usually end up with about four usable photos. 


As the years went on, it became increasingly more difficult to schedule the card photo shoot. With me living an hour away and my sister being in college, the day you planned to take the photo was the day you took the photo. I'm guessing the weather must not have cooperated on this day, because otherwise it doesn't seem to make much sense that we were crammed in the corner of our living room when we could have been outside at one of my father's many man-made photo ops. My mom thought this one was really cheeky because you were supposed to question who the "nice" one is (I think we all know the answer to that). There was actually an entire series (complete with costume changes) of naughty vs. nice that, thanks to the age of digital, I have found and created a small collage for your holiday enjoyment:

an afternoon of our lives we'll never get back

Like I said, it only gets worse with age...


Once you get to 20+ years of Christmas cards, it's almost impossible not to recycle an idea here and there. My mom is also a big fan of the "then & now" motiff, as illustrated by the picture in the upper left corner of my sister and I as angels in our church Christmas pageant (which was probably the last time both of us were at a church together). Being on a church budget, we weren't rolling in fancy floating halo money, hence the gold garland that was simply bobby pinned to our heads. My mom had the ultimate vision that we would recreate the photo with the same garland and white tops, but it would be totally ironic because we were all grown up, therefore, no longer "angels." This was also the year we got it together and realized our random living room backrounds weren't going to cut it, so we graduated to posing in front of a curtain. This was another one that involved a series style photoshoot, the likes of which actually made it onto the card as apposed to the 2008 pictures that ended up on the cutting room floor. 

We're starting to approach a very exciting time in Christmas card history... the year that Steve and I started our very own card (but don't get it twisted, we are still heavily featured in the family card, much to Steve's dismay of having to do all of this twice).

Stay tuned!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

O Christmas Card Part 6

Aarrgh. I am so behind on holiday blogging. According to my Feedly, I am supposed to have handmade forty-five glitter ornaments, professionally photographed my entire home filled with festive decorations, shared the perfect Christmas cookie recipe, and crafted at least fifteen super specific and oddly expensive gift lists (for everyone from your significant other to your second cousin's dog walker).

I haven't done any of it. Well, I've done many holiday-esque things, but you know what else I've done? Enjoyed them. Meaning I haven't had a lot of extra hours to hang out and write about them. Not to mention, December was still a pretty busy month for me at work. When I moved to Nantucket, everyone was all, "Get a hobby or start drinking, because you're going to be pretty bored come winter!" I have yet to understand what they were talking about (but I have a feeling it's called... January). So needless to say, my time off has been spent taking in all that the holidays on this little island have to offer, which is a lot.

However, I still love blogging and I want to be able to keep up with this in a timely fashion. I always thought my reason for irregular posting was because of the nature of my last job, where I had no set schedule and spent the end of October-January mentally and physically exhausted, ready to give up on the human race (mass retail during the holiday season can do that to a person). I always thought that I once I had a job with a set schedule, I would be able to blog on a regular basis, and even if I couldn't, I would write all my posts on the weekends and schedule them, what a concept! But you know what regular people do on the weekends? Laundry. Errands. Activities. Sometimes, they have fun. At this point I've accepted that if I spent all of my time blogging, that's less time I would spend actually doing anything worth blogging about.

So here we are, four days away from Christmas. I am approaching my first Christmas "break" since college, where I will have almost two weeks off. I don't even know this girl anymore, but I like her and want her to stick around. 

Despite my lack of recapping December's festivities, we all have our holiday traditions, and I have been looking forward to sharing this with you all month. I planned to continue this series much earlier in December, but there's no time like the present to continue...

The Scalera Family Christmas Card Anthology. Part Six (take that, Rocky).

You may remember last year, when I started sharing the year-by-year progression of the Christmas cards my family sent out growing up. If you need to catch up, you can check out Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.

When we last left the Scalera sisters, they were showcasing their talents in a musically-themed photo. Also, it was smack dab in the middle of my awkward years. But as we entered the new millennium, my sister and I began to take control of our hair, our style, and our destiny.


Please tell me someone else remembers these sweaters. I know I do, because I will forever be traumatized by the journey it took for me to get one. This was the era of really cool Gap commercials and print ads. The year before, this striped sweater was like, the item of the holiday season that they were peddling to consumer-driven teenagers like me that tried to convince our parents that a $70 sweater was a totally appropriate gift for a rapidly growing high schooler. It was probably the first time I ever asked for something that was kind of expensive (not counting Kirsten, of course, but that doll paid for itself eventually with the education I received from her book series). 

I remember being so excited for Christmas morning, finally feeling like I was going to be one of the cool kids when I rolled into school after break rocking this baby. One of the traditions in my house is that you save the biggest and best gift for last. My parent's would act like gift-giving was over and as you started to throw away the discarded wrapping paper, they "remembered" that there was maybe one more thing left. Gift is pulled out of secret hiding place, children squeal and Christmas is complete. I was absolutely convinced that my Gap sweater was lurking in a closet somewhere, ready to be pulled out at the exact perfect moment. Except that moment never came. 

After about ten minutes, I finally broke down and asked where our "extra" gifts were. My mom told me that we were officially done with gifts and it was time for breakfast and the Disney parade. I thought she was really piling it on that year and gunning for an Academy Award for "Best Performance while Pretending to Hide a Present." She wasn't. She informed us that after all the years of pretending, she thought we had outgrown the need for a secret gift. I.was.crushed. I know, it's totally awful and selfish. I had just opened like twenty other gifts that were awesome and I still wanted more. But I remember even then thinking that it wasn't about the fact that it was an expensive gift. She could have hidden a tube of Bonne Bell lip gloss and I still would have been excited; it was the novelty of thinking that you're finished and finding out that one thing remains. I'm almost thirty, and my mom still hides one gift for us because we never let her forget that year that Christmas was almost ruined (yes, I'm being overdramatic- Christmas was still wonderful and I am not that horrible of a human being). 

As for the sweater, I obviously didn't get it for Christmas '99, so how did I eventually acquire this multicolored masterpiece? 

At an outlet, of course. 

My mom was perusing some discount store probably six months later, when she discovered that the sweater that ruined Christmas was not only still available, it was marked down to a level that a parent couldn't resist. So she bought three- one for my sister and I, and my best friend Hannah (which there is a photo shoot of the three of us wearing, you're shocked, I know) and the matching hat. As much as I loved this pattern, we felt the hat + sweater together was a little much, so why not put it on a random bear?  

This photo was probably shot again in October, which explains the lack of snow. Fun fact: I planted that tree the year we moved into our house when it was just a tiny, twig-like fir. And to this date, I still have the sweater. 


All of our family Christmas cards are stored in this holiday-style scrapbook that you slide pictures into, with room for you to write in your own captions underneath. Under the year 2001, it simply states in my mom's handwriting, "No card due to 9/11." Because when you send out a Christmas card, the terrorists win.


If nothing else, you gotta give Doreen credit for being crafty even in the days before it was so easy to just slap your card together on the computer. While the themes for these cards weren't always something blatantly festive (I believe this one was "turtleneck sweaters"), many of them were centered around just trying to capture a nice moment between sisters. Unfortunately, that moment didn't occur in the same photograph, forcing my mom to superimpose my image onto the existing one of my sister. I swear my photo was taken on the same day, during the same photo session despite having completely different lighting. I refuse to believe that is my hand on my sister's shoulder, even though I know that it is. I'm not gonna lie, there is something creepy about this one. But hey look, my hair is getting better!


If at any point you were wondering during this series, what is going to be like, the card of all cards, then this is most definitely it. The 20th Anniversary MEGA CARD. It was a big year in the Scalera household- not only was it the platinum anniversary of Christmas cards, but I my sister and I both celebrated our graduations that year, mine from high school and hers from middle school. What better way to capture the biggest year in our history to that point than with this all-powerful collage of every card since the family's inception? Slight hiccup- our graduation dates were a solid two weeks apart. But that wouldn't stop Doreen, oh no, she got out her trusty scissors and faux-Photoshopped images together of us in our white graduation bests. There's a slight continuity error that can be seen only by looking at this in person, when you realize that it's actually my dad's hand that is clutching my sister's shoulder. 


Upon first glance, it may seem like we are overdoing it with the sweater theme, but we totally mixed it up in 2004, with gloves, duh! Not sure if you can tell what season it is in this one- I will give you a hint, it definitely ain't winter- but at the time I went to school six hours away, therefore scheduling Christmas card photo shoot was increasingly more difficult. I think it was like, "Oh my God, it's nice out! Quick! Throw on your sweaters and winter accessory sets and get out there!!!"

I don't wand to overload you with excellence, so I will leave the remainder of the Christmas cards for another day. Hopefully it won't take me a year to write the sequel this time.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

This Is My Grown Up Christmas List Pt. 2

Yesterday I posted the first half of my Christmas wish list. Again, I'll reiterate that I do not need nor expect a zillion presents under my tree, however, I keep getting asked what I want by extended family members, so I figured, why not make a list? I mean, isn't that what most bloggers do three to five times a week anyway and disguise it as "currently crushing" or whatever the hell we are calling it now? (No judgement, after all, one of my favorite days of the week is Friday's Fancies.) 

Not to mention, I had to continue my photo collage list tradition for my mother. She seemed sad when I told her that she could just look at my Pinterest board for inspiration.

I'm all for organization, except for when it comes to like, bills or shoes or whatever. So the theme of yesterday's list was clothes/makeup/jewelry/general girlyness. Today we're going to with books, DVD's, decor, etc.

Nautical office supplies- I have been making small attempts to decorate my first ever solo cubicle with nautical elements. My mom was awesome and actually got me a few of the things I pinned for my birthday, but there are a few other adorable pieces that I would love for my desk. Such as...

A nautical letter opener- I can't explain it, but I have always wanted a nice letter opener. I just think they scream, "I am a totally pulled together adult who efficiently and stylishly opens all the very important grown-up mail that I receive with just a flick of the wrist." A little oceanic doodad would only sweeten the pot.

Assorted whaley things (that are also semi practical)- I may have mentioned before that I work at a whaling museum, specifically focusing on sperm whales. And how cute is this stapler and tissue box?! I think they would be perfect additions to my existing red, white and blue accents. Also I have the ugliest stapler in the world currently and it bends all of my staples in half. (It's a non-profit, we aren't just like, swimming in an excess of fancy staplers.) Steve is offended by the price of the tissue box and claims he could make me one instead, but I feel like the chances of that happening in this lifetime are slim to none (not because he's not talented, just because he's like too busy cooking me dinner and cutting down Christmas trees and stuff).

A chic business card holder- I realize this serves no actual purpose, but this is another thing that I thing makes it you look profesh. It's like yes, I have business cards, and oh, would you like one? How convenient, they're right here. Mine are currently still in the box in my desk. I always love a good monogram but I'd also be happy with just an interesting "thing" that falls into the nautical color scheme.

Decorative folders- Manila folders make me want to die at work. I have one of those holders on my desk so they are always exposed, and every time I look at them, I get the sads. I have been looking all over the place for fun, nautically patterned folders and I am just convinced they do not exist. So even just to get different patterns in red, white and blue would make me so happy.

Kate Spade pencils- I KNOW THESE ARE NOT PRACTICAL AND EXPENSIVE AND THEY ARE PENCILS but I don't know why, I just want them.

CD's... did you know they still make CD's?!- Not sure why, but I still enjoy popping a good CD in the car and cranking the volume up to twelve. I also like monetarily supporting artists that I actually believe in. There's a few new releases that I've been eyeing these days:

               Ever since The Sing-Off came back, all I can think about is how much I nerdily love acapella music. I am mildly obsessed with Pentatonix and when Steve told me they have a Christmas album, I was sold.
               I watched Kelly Clarkson's Christmas special the other night, and not only do I want to be her and wear twenty different dresses in one very specific shade of red, but I want this album. I need this album. Of course, I probably won't get it before Christmas (can you even buy CD's on this island?!) but I have a feeling it doesn't matter. I'll be wanting to be wrapped in red long after the holidays. 
               I am honestly still confused if Lea Michele's actual album is coming out prior to Christmas, or just the single. I mean, she tweets about it every hour, but I still can't figure it out. Whatever. I gotta support my girl no matter what. Especially when Glee is giving me an ulcer right now.
               When "Teenage Dream" came out, I was resistant to buy an entire CD just because I liked one song. Katy Perry ended up having like, seven #1 hits from that album. And now, I'm loving "Roar," but I also have enjoyed some of the other songs I've heard from "Prism" on iTunes radio.
               I don't know what it is, but I just can't get enough of my girl Britney. Oh wait, I do know what it is. SHE'S AMAZING. I've loved her last two albums and I desperately hope for the same for this one. If tickets showed up under my tree to go see her show in Vegas I wouldn't be upset about it, I'm just saying.

Kate Spade's 20th anniversary book- I thumb through this book every time I see it in a store. It's literally all the things I love in one gorgeous little package. 

Bethenny Frankel's latest book- Listen, I know our girl Bethenny has had some rough times lately. But I like her and her no-nonsense advice. And I like her booze. That's reason enough for me. 

Hyperbole and a Half- I have never heard of this book, this blog, or this girl before. But I've been reading a lot about this new book and I think it sounds really interesting. A witty blogger who has also struggled with depression? Color me intrigued. 

Romy & Michele's High School Reunion- The only reason this is on the list is because I used to have it on VHS, it was borrowed by a friend and never given back (to be fair, he refused to return it because I never gave him back his copy of Center Stage...ah, high school). I searched high and low for it the day before my 10th reunion, and I couldn't find it anywhere, not even a used copy! I realized I needed to get this one back in the collection.

The Great Gatsby- Probably the only film I saw this year that I really want to own. I just loved the mixture of the costumes, the music, the visual effects, everything.

Glee Season Four- I know that things have been iffy lately on my favorite program, but I just can't give up on these guys. I have the previous three seasons on DVD and just feel like I have to keep going. Plus I love all the extras. 

So there we have it. The 2013 Christmas Listapalooza. What are you asking for this year? Is your family as crazy as mine about visuals to accompany a written list? Or are you like, this is crazy, it's 2013 and people are just giving each other money and/or virtual gifts?


Thursday, December 12, 2013

This Is My Grown Up Christmas List

Guys... it's that time of year again! Okay, so it was probably that time of year about three weeks ago, when people actually started asking me what I want for Christmas, but anyone who knows me knows that I am never on time for anything. 

I said this last year, but I would just like to reiterate that I know that this is not what Christmas is about. I get it. I am not that selfish, I promise. I by no means think that I should or will get all of these things as gifts. As I said before, I have been making a very detailed visual Christmas lists since I was a teenager and I started asking for things I saw in magazines and my mother was just like, "what is this and where do I find it?!" (This was also pre-internet days, people.) And ever since I got married, I have a whole other family who asks me what do I want what do I want and I just like to be organized about it. Plus you're nobody on the internet unless you have a gift guide these days, I guess the difference is those are usually for other people.

Also I was asked by a very generous uncle-in-law (is that a thing?) to specifically pick out things from certain stores where he possesses credit cards, hence items like a furry Russian hat. Although I do think I really need one of those.

I completely understand that it is crazy that this list is so long that it warranted two separate graphics. I divided things into categories, I like to pick items that are from a wide variety of price points, as well as being available in stores vs. solely on the internet. And since the dawn of Pinterest, it's been very easy to keep lists of things that you randomly find on the internet that at that moment, you just can't live without. That comes in really handy at the end of November when you have to start thinking about stocking stuffers. But maybe, just maybe, this list will help you shop for the super-fun lady in your life, because things like sparkles and lip gloss are totally universal.

A jeweled sweatshirt- I can't click on any of the 100 blogs I read each day without coming across at least seven jeweled sweatshirts. That is probably the thing I am most dying over this winter. Mainly because I want to be warm, but I always want to sparkle too. Of course the J.Crew ones are gorg, but totally ridiculous when you remind yourself that it is an item of clothing that has the word "sweat" in it. Also it's sold out. So at this point, I would be happy with any form of gray heather with a little bedazzling.

Any color of the J.Crew Factory Pencil Skirt in Double-Serge Wool- I have this in tan and it's the perfect weight for a winter skirt. I now want one in every color. The only color available online right now is the cabernet, which I would happily accept.

A fuzzy hat that makes me feel like a sexy Russian spy- Is it weird that I have always wanted one of these hats? Steve tried to find me one before we went to Canada for our first anniversary and ended up getting me one of those furry bomber hats with earflaps. Cute, but I never stopped wanting one of these babies. 

Tall, warm socks- It has only taken me 28 years, but I have finally figured out that even though I have four different styles of boots, wearing paper thin ankle socks still doesn't keep me warm when I'm out and about during those chilly winter months. I would love a few pairs of thick, neutral colored socks that I could wear peeking out of my less practical winter footwear.

A gray blazer- I have two of the J.Crew Factory schoolboy blazers and they are just the most perfect wardrobe essential to throw on any outfit to make it a little more profesh. This one is a slightly different cut, but I tried it on in the store and it was still to die for. I have to go a size smaller in these because the arms are kind of long on me, so it's one of the only times in my life where I can pretend I'm a size zero. 

Duck boots- I may have just mentioned that I have about four pairs of different types of boots, but half of them came from Payless and its a miracle they are still in one piece. Also, I live in New England, on a windy rainy island to be exact, so I think a girl can never go wrong with another pair of practical shoes. I know that the L.L. Bean Bean Boot is a classic, which I wouldn't mind, but I just loved that these have a kicky color- I envision it being the perfect thing to brighten up a slushy day.

Statement necklaces- I mean really, I just can't get enough. I would love a blinged out crystal version or a multicolored one that could go with lots of different things. All jewels, all the time. 

A cheeky sweater- I mean, cause why not?

Kate Spade earrings- Because they are always fun. And sometimes cheap. Okay, well cheap in comparison to the other stuff they sell. But wouldn't these be the perfect accessory for New Year's Eve? Or you know, a Tuesday?

J.Crew Super-Opaque Tights- I love wearing tights but no matter how trim I keep my toenails, I always rip them. I got a pair of these at the outlet last year and they are amazing. They are just stretchy enough that they stay up but aren't like wearing head-to-toe Spanx.

Nars Lip Gloss in Orgasm- There's a reason this is one of their most popular lip colors. I tried it on the last time I went to Sephora and it was heaven. But my sister-in-law talked me out of it, because she is after all, related to my husband, and knew that he would not be so convinced for $25 a tube. Also the name. It's hard just getting over the name. But

A super cool folding board- Yes, I'm a nerd. Yes, I like my clothes organized. And YES, I WANT A FOLDING BOARD. My father-in-law got one last year and I was totally jealous. I have so many things that are folded now with the storage situation in my apartment and I just imagine myself whisking out one perfectly folded sweater after another with this baby.

Sparkly sneaks- Steve keeps telling me I need to wear more practical shoes now that I'm almost 30 (come to think of it, he's probably been saying that for a few years). Since sneakers are ugly and boring, I am requesting these. 

Smokin' social media slippers- When Kate posted these on her blog a few months ago, I knew I had to have them (and use them in one of my Friday's Fancies). They are a fabulous price point and mom's love shopping at Kohl's. 

Mac Small Eye Shadow in Sumptuous Olive- This may come as a shock, but I previously owned this shade of eyeshadow, and I broke it into a million tiny pieces on my bathroom floor. I cried because this was my favorite shade and I got compliments on it every time I wore it. I just couldn't swing spending the money on it when I have hundreds of lesser eye shadows that I could use. Also, I am not within stalking distance of Sephora anymore. 

Vineyard Vines Winter Whale Mittens- Yes, I get it. These are ridiculous. They are $50. But they have whales on them. And I work at a whaling museum. Get it?!

A pair of brightly colored leather gloves- I got a cobalt pair last Christmas and I love them so much, I would love a set in a bright fuschia or purple. 

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain- Guys, I might have a problem. I have four of these already, but I want them in every shade. They are just the perfect amount of color and they last for hours. I have read a bunch of reviews online and it seems like Honey is an all-around flattering color for every skin tone. 

Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for eyes in Ample Amber- Okay, this is a very stupidly named product. But I do love Clinique bronzy eye shadows, and I always have to use some sort of cream/stick thing underneath to make it last longer. This looks like the idea shade for a little bit of shimmer or as a good base for blending multiple colors.

Stay tuned for part two!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

American Baby

If you've been round these parts before, you might remember last summer when I took my first-ever maternity photos for my friend Tim and his wife, Cassie. In addition to photographing their wedding, I have known Tim since high school, and for the past few months, he's been heading up our ten year high school reunion planning committee, so he's a busy guy. I was shocked when he told me that the whole Buck family was willing to take a day trip to Nantucket for me to do a family shoot, their first since Maddie was born (who is now a year old). I said yes (duh) and we made arrangements for them to travel to my little elbow of sand.

Like their bump pics last year, this was my first time photographing a baby outside of the occasional mini-wedding guest. It was definitely more challenging than I had thought! I had done all kinds of research of what poses I wanted to get and made a list of possible locations that we could walk to on the island. Well, a lot of that goes out the window when you have a one year-old calling the shots! She was super sweet and totally well-behaved. But the best laid plans are no match for a toddler with their own agenda, with priority number one being to play with everything. So you just have to kind of follow their lead, go where they go. It was a wonderful experience, and once again I am so thankful for Tim and Cassie, who are always so willing to let me experiment photography-wise with their family. 

So here are some of my favorites from our nautical Nantucket photo shoot. Enjoy!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Fancies: Back In Black (Friday)


I'm so excited that I got my stuff together enough to do another Friday's Fancies entry. Not only because I love picking out clothes and accessories with zero budget constraints, but also because I so enjoy being a part of the FF community, started by the wonderful {av}. Whenever I write a post, I race to my computer first thing on Friday morning to see what the other participating bloggers have come up with, and it's just such a fabulous group to be a part of. 

Now, on to this week's theme: Black Friday. Probably my least favorite day of the year (besides the day after the Oscars, when realize awards show season is over and a piece of my soul dies). After spending the previous four day-after Thanksgivings working at an extremely large mall, I am overjoyed at the thought of not going anywhere near a store this year. I really can't complain, as the store that I was employed at did not even have those insane hours (like opening at midnight or three A.M., which is just inhumane). It's just the idea of year after year, spending an entire holiday in which you should be able to be with your family and friends, and instead you're trapped at a cash wrap, fighting for parking spaces and just generally hating the entire weekend. It's not what this time of year is supposed to be about. 

So I knew that no matter where I ended up, I would spend my Black Friday not doing a single thing that is even remotely Black Friday-esque. Which is why I will be nowhere near a store, shopping center, or anywhere where traffic is affected by any of those things. I will sleep in, I will relax, spend time with my family, and most importantly, get my hair done (which I have avoided on Nantucket, giving the expense and absence of my stylist/bff extraordinaire Ryan), since it's the day before my tenth reunion

We were told to pick out an outfit that you would wear shopping or lounging (in case online spending was more your style). Well, this is a mixture of both. This comfy sweater dress would keep me warm if I were crazy enough to be dashing into the mall from my car sans coat (because no one wants to schlep around a winter jacket during a marathon shopping session) and of course, a reusable tote to stash your purchases in. And since this is all imaginary, I dreamed that a $600 over-the-knee boot was totally appropriate footwear to spend the day traipsing around in, whether it's down the length of the mall or on a relaxing holiday stroll.

There's no Friday's Fancies next week (because there are actually other's out there who believe that you should enjoy the day!) so I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and get to do exactly what you want that day, whether it's enjoying your leftovers or standing in line for 80% off a blender. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Dress Has Always Been My Strongest Suit (but not dressy casual)

Guys, it's happening. A mere two weeks from now, the Pinkerton Academy Class of 2003 will be gathering to celebrate our ten year reunion (along with probably every other class of '03 in the continental U.S., it is the weekend of Thanksgiving after all). 


I was first approached about the idea of the reunion back in March when I got an email from Tim, one of our class liaisons (that's right, because when you go to a school as large as Pinkerton, you need more than one person who agrees in their senior year that they will write updates for the alumni magazine for the rest of their lives, bless their hearts) asking me if I wanted to be involved in the planning of the reunion. My heart cried out "yes!" as I live for party planning, but my head reminded me that I just accepted a job a week before on Nantucket and would soon be moving even further away from Derry, N.H. than I already was. 

I told Tim that while I would love to help, I wasn't sure if it was practical to dive into such a responsibility when I was moving somewhere that required multiple methods of transportation just to return to the mainland. I got no response, until 24 hours letter a message popped up in my inbox that simply read, "I decided. You're helping."

So for months now, myself and the other members of our little committee have been putting together this shindig (thank you, Internet) that will take place on November 30 at the Thirsty Moose Taphouse in Portsmouth, N.H. As happy as I am to have been a part of the experience, there has been one thing that has been plaguing throughout the planning process:

What the hell are we supposed to wear to this thing?

Because I base everything that I am unsure of on things I've seen in movies, I originally pictured a gorgeous dress because I assumed that all reunions take place in fancy hotels. I should have known better, as we had our prom in the gym, but moving on. I immediately thought that I would probably just wear some version of this:


But wouldn't you know, you just can't find any quality marabou trim anymore. 

So I was left only with the minimal guidelines that I was given via an email thread sent out to the planning committee: dressy casual.

Can we talk about what that even means? The only parameters I was given was no jeans. Also, let's remind ourselves that it is being held in a taphouse. What's a girl to do?

So once again, I took to the Internet. I put an APB out on Twitter, contacted my most fashionable friends, reached out to my Boston Blogger cohorts, and stalked the Pinterest boards of super-stylish people to determine what the true definition of "dressy casual" is. It turns out... I still have no idea. There is still no concrete definition of what dressy casual is, just many people's interpretations of it. I am by no means an authority on what everyone should and shouldn't wear, I will leave that to the professionals and the gays. But I do love fashion as a form of self-expression, and when are you more concerned about how you're presenting yourself than at your high school reunion?

So here are some inspiration pictures I put together of some fun ensembles that I would love to see anyone rocking when they roll up at the Thirsty Moose that Saturday. Some of these need some slight modifications to account for New England weather (I don't see how anyone could ever forget the snow on Prom day), but overall I think there are definitely some great pieces that anyone can work into their look, no matter what your fashion comfort level may be.

True Colors


I still don't understand when people tell me that they are afraid of color. Are you also afraid of going outdoors?! Because color is everywhere, and it should be embraced. I'm slightly biased, as I recently left a job in which I was required to wear almost head to toe black and everyday, a little piece of my soul died. That is why I am the number one cheerleader of color and think that every person should have one shade that makes them feel amazing (and no, neutrals like tan, gray and black do not count). If you're shy about it, you don't have to pile on more than one bold pigment like in the middle photo and the one on the right. What I love about the picture on the left is that the rest of the outfit is relatively simple- you can never go wrong with black and white. But you gotta show a little personality somewhere, whether it's a bright lip color or a jewel hued clutch. Start with a basic ensemble and accent it with one (or three, go on with your bad self) piece(s) that really pops for a standout moment.

Smells like Team Spirit


I can't ever resist a good theme. If you find yourself feeling fashionably uninspired, look no further than the PA's classic colors. Not only is red, white and black one of my favorite color combinations (always chic, in my opinion), but you can never go wrong paying homage to the Astroman at a school function. The look on the left is super on trend with the leather mini, but a striped long-sleeved shirt is the "casual" to the skirt's "dressy." As with many of these skirted options, you might have to thrown on a pair of black tights, but this brightly hued coat will keep you warm on that sure to be chilly New Hampshire evening while making you easy to spot across the bar. Win win. If you don't have a pair of red pants by now, you need to get off the computer and go get a pair now.  I'm serious- you can finish reading this later. I am obsessed with my red pants, and I got them at TJ Maxx for $16 when I was weary of the longevity of the colored-pant trend. They can be worn in a multitude of color combos, like with this Dalmatian print top or later with a more nautical scheme (my other favorite). The girl on the right is definitely a little more formal, but again, with a pair of black patterned tights and some ankle booties, this look can be dressed down to be taphouse appropriate. 

Crazy Pants


Ladies, want to ensure you're not totally overdressed? Wear pants. Pants are by default, a more casual look than a dress or a skirt. Now sure, you could go and throw on a pair of black trousers that have been kicking around in your closet since you got a job at Applebee's, or you could live a little and mix it up with one of these fun patterns or bold hues. If the leopard is channeling Peg Bundy a little too much for you, go for a more attainable pattern like polka dots. And maybe the harem-style slacks in the middle aren't your cup of tea, but the drapeyness takes away a bit of the formality (and it's sort of like wearing socially acceptable pajamas, if you really think about it). The one thing that all these looks have in common is that everything else is super simple- when you break it down, these are neutral tops and a solid pair of heels. So don't be afraid- WEAR THE PANTS and show them who's boss.

Liquid Leather


Another trend I'm super excited about right now is (p)leather leggings. Let's be real. As much as I love clothes, I spend the good majority of my days off in leggings, and even when I am in real clothes, I spend 100% of my time thinking about how I'd rather be wearing leggings. Am I the only one? So when I got a pair of these, I was super excited because a) they are amazingly smooth and I couldn't stop running my hands across them, and b) they are just like regular leggings, but are acceptable to wear to the bar. Target has some great hybrid pairs right now like the ones in the photo on the left- half shiny, half regular stretchy material. I love all the different ways you can dress these up- just look at the three different options here! A sequined moto jacket, a neon coat, or a white tuxedo blazer are all winners in my book. Just please ladies, follow the cues of the stylish women in these photos and wear a shirt or blazer that is long enough to cover your ass. I beg you. In fact, do this with all forms of stretchy pants. I don't care how fat or thin you are, it just needs to happen. Let's all raise our right hands and swear on our 500-page yearbooks, okay?

Sparkle Queens


I don't know if I can even express how in love I am with these looks. A little sparkle is always a good thing, and even more sparkle is like, the best thing ever. J. Crew has been all over this lately, which is perfect because I think it is the definition of dressy casual. What's more dressy than a sequined skirt, and what's more casual than a worn-in chambray? The knit hat can obviously go, we are going to be inside, after all. I like how both the outfits on the left and the right work in a colored shoe and a statement necklace. As for the middle photo, I get it- none of us are Blake Lively. She is an Amazonian-ly tall freak of nature that could probably do a high kick over my head. I chose this picture because I am all about dress shorts for events, especially in the colder months with a pair of tights underneath. I like how she balances out showing five feet of leg with a slightly over sized blazer and button down that have more of a men's cut to them. 

Sweet Tartan


While I love that we were never forced to wear uniforms at Pinkerton, there is still a soft spot in my hard for a good plaid skirt. It's like a little school girl, a little L.L. Bean, and a little early 90's grunge. But wouldn't you know, plaid is totally in right now, and like sequins, it's all about working it in with a contradictory element. A plaid skirt could totally go all Baby, One More Time on you if you pair it with a boring button down, but a chambray shirt gives it a more casual feel (accented with a good pair of heels and a few baubles to keep it from going too woodsy). While Hermione's look is a little more formal than what we are going for, I like how she paired it with a cropped leather jacket. If you're thinking of wearing a dress to a reunion and it feels like you're too done up, especially depending on your location, a cute biker jacket is a great way to take it down a level and make you feel a little less princess, a little more rock and roll.

The Jumpoff


Hear me out on this one- I know a jumpsuit is like, WTF, as it is one piece and how are you supposed to go to the bathroom? But I think there is something so chic about this, and you could not ask for a ensemble that requires less effort than this. Think about it- there is only one thing you have to put on! No time spent trying to figure out which top and bottom go together, or whether you should wear a skirt instead. It's easy breezy, put it on and you're ready to go. Well, not without some fun jewelry, because as you can see, many of these jumpsuits are super simple. I bought a strapless black jumpsuit and every time I put it on, I feel like I am channeling Bianca Jagger at Studio 54, without the ridiculous drug use, of course. These short ones might be a bit scary if you're new to the jumpsuit thing, because you have to have just the right shoe depending on where the bottom of your pant leg hits. I personally prefer the wide-leg version, as it makes you feel like you are floating across the room with every step. Just make sure they are hemmed correctly- I haven't worn mine in forever because I took a horrible digger in them when a heel got caught in a seam of my pant leg. The things I'll do for fashion.

Winter Whites


Did you guys know we can wear white after Labor Day? Yeah- turns out it was just a rouse all those years by our mothers, who were sick of trying to wash stains out of our clothes. Now that doesn't mean that you should wear your white linen beach cover up out and about in December, but it turns out, it's not so much about the hue as it is about the fabric. Go ahead, wear white freely all year long, just take cues from your environment. You should not be traipsing around in January in a pair of strappy white sandals (as a matter of fact, you probably shouldn't do that during any month, ever). However, it is socially acceptable to wear your white jeans with boots and a cardigan or stock up on sweater dresses in shades of cream and ivory. Or take a cue from this lady on the left and work it on a night out with a sparkly top. Add fun accents like leopard accessories and shiny gold jewelry.

As for my ideal reunion ensemble? I actually have no idea. In looking at these photos, I actually felt overwhelmed with options because I JUST WANT TO WEAR THEM ALL. And short of doing Academy Awards host-style costume change every hour (don't tempt me), I need to narrow down my options a bit. But seriously, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. Be yourself. Show off your assets that make you feel amazing and downplay what makes you feel eehh. Really, just wear what you want. As long as it's not jeans. 

Oh and guys? I didn't forget about you. But I can't tell you how to dress, because half of you could care less and the other half are dressed by their significant others. Since you're not supposed to wear jeans and it's a little unnecessary for you to show up in a full suit (unless you are dying to, then hey, go for it), your options are slightly more limited. Here's a little inspiration for you too:


Yes, I understand. You are not a male model, and therefore will not look like this in clothes. That's cool, because like I said, none of us are Blake Lively. So I guess we're all even. But there are definitely some elements that you guys have to work with. Like the ladies, I encourage you not to be afraid of color. Did you know there are other shades of pants besides khaki? My husband has recently acquired a few primary color shades of pants (red, blue, yellow) and he gets compliments on them all the time. I'm serious- it's hard to go places together because he sometimes appears to be better dressed. Add a pair of fun patterned socks women will think that you spent hours putting together your outfit. And I'm not saying you have to wear a scarf, but it will be almost December, and some sort of cardigan or sweater over a button down is like, the epitome of men's winter style. Jackets aren't necessary, but definitely gives off the vibe that you put a little more thought into it than the average Schmo. And finally, I get that it's Movember, and you might be excited to show off your scruff that you may not have had in high school, but try giving the facial hair a quick trim before heading out for the evening, eh? 

That's all for now- see you at the reunion!