Category: My Closet

My Closet: Grandpa Sweater + the Art of Staying Warm

My Closet: Grandpa Sweater | This I Wear

When you grow up in New Orleans, you only know two seasons (hot and less hot), wool is a foreign concept, and the last snow you experienced was in the final snoball of summer.

In college, I migrated north to Washington DC, a town that isn’t quite sure if it’s in the North or the South but is undoubtedly colder than the Big Easy. I bought my first real coat, a pair of long underwear, and enough wool socks for a Canadian winter. It took me awhile to learn how to enjoy cold, and even longer, to learn how to look good while cold.

The answer was, of course, knee-high boots, ladylike wool coats, big knit scarves, and cozy sweaters. When I first started dressing for the cold, my newness was apparent: my body was barely discernible under the multitude of clothing layers. But after a couple of years and a move to Manhattan, I got the hang of it. And then I got this sweater.

It arrived at work. I opened the box immediately. My job back then was far from enjoyable, so a package like this could in fact change the outlook of my day. I remember my friend had just arrived, and we were headed out the door together for the evening. I took a quick peek inside the box, was happy with what I saw, and shoved it into my bag for later inspection.

It had been an online J.Crew sale purchase, somewhat impulsive but filled the gap of 100% wool items in my wardrobe. I was still new to NYC, and my wardrobe was starting to drift towards grayscale. But this grandpa sweater makes me feel happy, adorable and warm. I suddenly feel like a Northerner; someone born and bred in the snow, who knows what snow tires are, how to light a fireplace, and does other Northern things. Yes, an octogenarian might be just as likely to wear a sweater like this, but I promise, I look way cuter in it.

Since I’ve moved back to New Orleans, this sweater has hung sadly in the closet within a safe distance of some cedar hangers. But sometimes, when the a/c has been turned carelessly low, I put this sweater on to remind me of where I’ve been. It’s a reminder of colder places, unhappy jobs that I escaped from, and all the ugly sweaters I wore before I found my Northern stride.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear and share what piece you can’t wait to wear this Fall/Winter.

My Closet: The best sandals ever

Naya Leather Sandals | This I Wear

It is truly a rare piece that one might call “reliable” when referring to one’s closet. Me and these sandals? We have that special bond of trust.

In New York, I had one priority when it came to shoes: comfort. But “comfort shoes” and cute often seem to be at odds (can I get an amen, Ladies?). Comfortable, cute, and environmentally responsible in one pair of shoes, therefore, literally defies all laws of nature. But one day I stumbled upon the best sandals of all time, at a DSW no less. Vegetable tanned leather, non-slip recycled rubber sole, cushioned, adorable, and not outrageously priced. Interestingly enough, they are made by the Naturalizer company, specifically their brand Naya (which I should investigate more). In two years, these sandals have never let me down.

Because of their nature-defying characteristics, I originally didn’t want to pack these shoes for India where they’d inevitably get ruined on the backpacking trail. They’ve seen a lot of adventure already – could they handle more? Though their wear shows (and in all honesty, smells), I planned to wear these shoes forever.

But I started packing and realized that I was willing to risk an early death of these sandals. Not only are they reliably comfortable, but they make me feel like myself. And as I’m already in India, I can tell you that these shoes have been a welcome and familiar source of relief in a place where everything is foreign. As of today, they can even count the Taj Mahal as one of their many adventures.

Trust in the things in your closet, in the people that create them, and in the way they consistently make you feel is not to be underrated. It is a great feeling to be able to not have to think twice before wearing something (unlike that cute shirt with the slightly off fit or the jacket whose zipper sometimes breaks, etc.). These shoes make me feel confident that I will get to the next place blister-free and that I’ll feel comfortable in every sense of the word even when I’m out of my comfort zone.

If they don’t make it through India, I may be investigating how I can get another pair. Because me and these sandals? We have something special.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear to share which pieces in your closet you trust the most.

P.S. This is my first post from the road. Please excuse any errors while I get used to using new resources.

My backpack: Stocking up for roughing it

Belize Cargo Pants | This I Wear

In a few short weeks, I’m headed to India for three months. It will be my first time in the country, so I’ve been asking my friends who are local or who’ve traveled to India what I should bring, especially in regards to clothing. Their advice: pants, long(er) skirts, and tops with sleeves, all of which should be comfortable when sweaty and dirty yet still culturally appropriate.

And herein lies the dilemma. The clothes I bring are going to get roughed up – dirt, hardcore bug spray, sweat, aggressive laundering, etc. – and with such little packing capacity, I’ve considered that I may want to leave them there and fill up my backpack with souvenirs for my return journey instead. I did this in 2007 when I worked on a field research project in the wetlands of Belize. I spent less than $100 at a few chain stores and had to dispose of most of the clothes upon my return as the high percentage DEET literally began to degrade the fabric. One of the few things to survive was a pair of green Old Navy cargos. They are one of the most disgusting things I own yet continue to wear. I’d be embarrassed about this, except that when I wear these pants, I remember that summer that I wielded a machete, climbed Mayan temples, and got a fantastically ill, delaying my departure home. But I survived, and I learned so much about myself in those three weeks. Wearing those pants brings back the incredible confidence that comes with proving yourself wrong. I love those pants.

Because of all of these worries about if what I bring will survive, I’m leaving my favorite pieces safe at home in the States and getting back in the shopping game after a few lovely months of little to no consumption.

But is it ok to buy clothing, and in this case cheap clothing, with the intention of getting rid of it soon after purchase? What is the alternative in this situation?

Here’s what I’ve bought so far:
– Cotton capris from Old Navy (less than $10)
– Two knee-length cotton skirts (less than $10 each)
– Two knit skirts (less than $30 each)

I’m also bringing:
– Ankle-length Forever 21 dress
– Leggings which I’ll pair with locally-bought tunics
– Various t-shirts and long-sleeve tops
– Rain poncho
– Large pashmina for covering up and using as a travel blanket

Over the next few months, I will share what does end up in my backpack, what happens to it along the way, and what comes home with me. I don’t know what to expect quite yet, but this should be an interesting experiment.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear to share what you think: Have you ever bought something knowing it would be ruined and you would dispose of it shortly thereafter?

My Closet: Gold Scarf + Adventures with Becca

Gold and Black Scarf | This I Wear

Do you remember in middle school when your best friend would go on a family vacation and bring you back a keychain with your name on it or one of those pens that has a hula girl floating up and down like a snow globe you can write with? Maybe you were lucky and got a rock from a national park?

Lucky for me, when my friend Becca studied abroad in Spain, she brought me back a souvenir that trumps all floaty pens.

The scarf itself is beautiful. Gold metallic thread woven into a black background creates patterns similar to the intricate designs of Damascene jewelry, famous in the Toledo region. It is my best friend on an airplane, because I can stay warm, actually look more stylish, and avoid those unfortunate airplane blanket fuzzies that always seem to linger behind.

Becca and I were Resident Assistants together for a year in college. We both go by “Rebecca” and “Becca” but for clarity’s sake with our staff, she was Becca and I was Rebecca. We were incapable of shocking each other with our quirks, and she never flinched when I suggested we do something ridiculous.

One time, Becca won two Halloween costumes: a giant King of Hearts card and a giant Queen of Hearts card. Obviously, we put these costumes on and ran around the building (she even let me be the King). A year later, Becca helped me stage a live version of “The Office” Olympics for my residents. She was in charge of drawing the tilde (~) on the snack table’s lemonade.

There are other things that remind me of Becca: carrots that she eats by the bag full, Sufjan Stevens after a frostbite-filled night of camping out for concert tickets, and every time I lose The Game. But there’s something about wearing a gift from a friend that makes them seem a little bit closer, even when life has separated you by hundreds of miles.

While Becca may think of other things when she recalls her adventure in Spain, I love wearing this scarf because it reminds me all of the crazy adventures we have shared together.

This post is in honor of Becca’s birthday today! Since I can’t be there in person, I wish her the happiest birthday ever and many more adventures (hopefully some we’ll have together!).

My Closet: Black Silk Tunic + My Alter Ego

Equipment Black Silk Tunic

I have a specific style. At this point, I think my outfits are pretty predictable. But, occasionally, I like to try on other personalities by trying on something different for the day.

One of those personalities is the Parisian. I am not a Francophile by any means, but there is something effortlessly cool about a Parisian girl. Londoners are quirky and New Yorkers try too hard, but I am pretty sure that every girl in Paris wakes up looking amazing. And if she doesn’t look amazing, she doesn’t care. That attitude is the source of the complicated but effortless cool the rest of us have to work for. Some days, I want to wake up with a view of the Seine, eat dessert for breakfast, and then browse through bookstalls, head over to Merci, or sit for hours at the Musée de l’Orangerie. On these days, I default to classic black ballet flats, some skinny jeans, maybe a little red lipstick if I’m feeling bold, and my black silk tunic by Equipment.

I found this shirt at a discount designer store in New York City, and I instantly loved it. It was priced as an investment, but I am otherwise frugal and I have a rule that if I really love something, I buy it. (This rule works for me, because this rarely happens. It might not work for you.) I also knew it would be something I would still be wearing many years from now. I can’t wait to be 40 and rocking this shirt while my bilingual children whisper, “Notre mère est très chic.”

Clothing can help us dream. Little girls love to play dress up for a reason. Even as adults, we can try on different personalities and different lifestyles to see what they feel like. Maybe we even use clothes to see how people react to us. From one day to the next, we can be an entirely different person with no commitment. This experimentation is not an escape from reality but just one way of discovering who we want to be and what life we want to create for ourselves. When I wear this shirt, I am a cooler version of my current self, and it’s fun. It reminds me to stop rushing and to travel more. It helps me dream that one day my whole closet could be filled with things just like it, and I might have the life to go along with it.

Comment below or tweet @ThisIWear to tell me your style alter ego.

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