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Vanity + Wearables

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As you may know from my Instagram, we’ve been doing a pretty massive spring cleaning at Door Sixteen—every room (yes, even the basement), every closet, every box—and I’ve been paring down my shoe collection to only the few pairs that I wear with any regularity. I even set up a second Instagram account for a D16 yard sale, where I’ve been selling the many pairs of shoes that didn’t make the cut. (There’s more to come, by the way—shoes and otherwise!)

And what did I do to celebrate my shoe adieu? I BOUGHT ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES. I know, I know. But my goal is to own two pairs of boots, two pairs of flats, two pairs of sandals, and two pairs of “fancy” heels. I’m all set on the boots and the sandals, but I need flats. I’ve also been wanting to add a pair of white shoes to the rotation, but I wanted them to be not quite so white that they looked like golf shoes. Not that there’s anything wrong with golf shoes, but I can’t pull that look off.

So, I’m walking to work, and I pass the Clarks store on Madison Avenue. It’s early, they’re open, and it’s dead inside…so I go inside and take a look. Clarks is one of those brands where you kind of have to see past all of the stuff that’s probably very practical but also very hideous, and just look for the few pieces that really hit the mark. As soon as I walked in, my eye went right to these babies.

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Oooooh, I love them. They’re the Hotel Image style in Cotton, which is very subtly off-white without looking dingy. It’s sort of a super-pale, creamy beige-white. Much less stark than you might imagine white shoes being. The cutouts on the sides feel summery without making the shoes unwearable in at least three seasons (they’d be so cute with black socks/tights), they’re super-comfy right out of the box, and the construction quality is excellent. When I buy shoes, I want to know they’ll be able to hold up over time, and I don’t mean time spent sitting in my closet until I decide to sell them on Instagram (heh), I mean frequent wearing and walking long distances on concrete sidewalks.

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Why yes, I did lie on my back in my office with my iPhone in order to take these photos! All of my coworkers were out to lunch at the time, fortunately. Or unfortunately, since I know they’d have enjoyed the whole thing.

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Here are my new shoes out in the wild! They’re so photogenic. It’s going to take a while for me to get used to looking down and not seeing black shoes, but I’m feeling this look. I’ve only worn them with jeans so far, but I think they’ll work with dresses, too.

For reference, this style runs a little large. I usually wear a solid size 10 shoe, but I had to go down to a 9½ with these. They also come in Light Tan and Honey, which is sort of a mustardy-yellow. (Navy and Mushroom are discontinued, but you can get them on major clearance!)

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(I had to take a blog break for a while. I’m back. Hi there!)

I have a feeling this is one of those things that everyone was into five years ago and that I’m just discovering now, but I’m suddenly digging black-and-white composition book prints. What set me off was spotting these sneakers on the subway (which I stealthily photographed and then tweeted—thanks to Kate for identifying them), which lead me to start searching for other composition book-print stuff. There’s a lot out there, hence my realization that this probably old news…but whatever. These are my favorites!

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1. Notebook Print Saddle Shoes / Band of Outsiders
2. Winie Print Baby Rib Brief / American Apparel
3. Composition Book Knee High Socks / Artisan Socks
4. Composition Notebook Pouch / Out of Print
5. Composition Print Wristwatch / American Apparel
6. Jillian Print Dress / Club Monaco
(discontinued, but check eBay)
7. Dexter Sneaker / Circus by Sam Edelman
8. Composition Notebook Tote Bag / Out of Print
9. Black Static Backpack / Baggu

I get ideas in my head about how certain clothing stores aren’t for me. My bias (OK, stubbornness) isn’t really against the stores themselves so much as it is against myself. I hold on pretty tightly to certain stylistic choices when it comes to my clothing (and my work, and my home, and everything else), and since I still have that teenage “non-conformist” thing hanging around my neck like an invisible chain of angst (OMG, shut up), I tend to write off a lot of options as being for pretty, popular girls—i.e., not for me. Anyone who has attempted to go clothes shopping with me (I’m looking at you, Jen and Jenna) knows how ridiculous I can be. Taking me into J.Crew is similar to taking a small, reasonably polite child to a fancy dinner party: I’ll put on a nice face and try not to throw a tantrum, but really…I just want to get the Hell out.

Aside from dabbling in a few accessories, Madewell is one of those stores that scares me. I don’t want to put my hair in a topknot. I don’t want to wear a chambray shirt. I don’t want to wear navy. I can appreciate these things on other people, but on myself? I don’t think so. Pass the skulls!

These jeans, though? They all look pretty nice.

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A couple of months ago, I mentioned something on Twitter about needing new jeans. I’ve lost a bunch of weight this past year, and after wearing my old jeans from the last time I lost weight (HAHAHAHAHA…ugh) into the ground, I needed to find at least a couple of pairs that would fit me really nicely and help me to feel good about myself. My former favorites (these and these) have been discontinued, so those options were out. Pretty much immediately, several people (including Jaime, who knows my body type and gets my style) recommended that I try Madewell jeans.

So I got over myself, went in, and tried on a bunch of pairs of jeans. I’ve gotta admit, they are pretty swell. I tried on the High Riser Skinny Skinny fit in several washes, but settled on the classic, dark-blue Davis wash. They’re high-rise, yes, but not in a too high, costume-y way—they come to just below my belly button. The length is a little shorter than what I’m used to (and this style only comes in one length, weirdly), but I actually kind of like that in jeans that are this skinny. I have a feeling I’ll be going back for these black cut-edge skinnies, too, because apparently I’m just enough of a loser that I’ll pay $128 for perfectly pre-ripped denim. Sigh.

I also tried on a few pairs of Alley Straight fit jeans, which are a bit longer (they’re available in two lengths, too) and slightly looser around the leg. They’re more similar to the jeans I usually wear, and if they were available in a dark rinse, I’d probably have bought these instead. If I find myself needing a pair of plain black jeans, these will be my go-to.

For reference on fit, I’m 5′6″, about 145 lbs, with a high waist-to-hip ratio. I usually wear a size 6 or 8 (or even 10) depending on the store. Madewell jeans are pretty stretchy since they have a little spandex in them, and between that and the usual vanity sizing ridiculousness, I find they run pretty large. Depending on the wash, either a 27 or 28 works perfectly for me. Happily, my jeans can go for numerous wearings without stretching out or bagging at all, and they come out of the wash without any weird twisting or anything. And yes—they make your butt look nice.

Maybe you’re not so bad after all, Madewell.

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Here’s what I wore to work today:

1. T-Shirt: Madewell, Slub v-neck pocket
2. Necklace: Madewell, Stonehold pendant (On sale…still!)
3. Sunglasses: Free People, Kensington
4. Blazer: Lucky, coated cotton (On sale! It looks like the product photo here, not like it does on the model.)
5. Scarf: Block Shop Textiles, Zipper
6. Jeans: Madewell High Riser Skinny Skinny, Davis wash
7. Boots: Frye Jackie Button Short
8. Belt: Wood & Faulk, Matchstick
9. Clutch: Renna Deluxe, gold coated & initial-stamped

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There’s a giant photo of my head on my blog. Bye-bye, comfort zone!

I didn’t start wearing brightly-colored lipstick until I was in my mid-30s. I was into deep reds in my teens and early 20s, and then I pretty much just moved on to sheer, pinky-natural glosses. The lipstick that brought me around was hot-orange MAC Lady Danger, which I wrote about in 2010. And for about four years, that was the only color I wore when I wasn’t opting for a gloss. (By the way, I’m still on my first tube—that’s how slowly I go through lipstick. Please don’t tell me it’s expired and that my lips are probably coated with invisible fungus. I don’t want to know!)

Late last summer, I started to branch out…but just a little. After seeing Jenna wearing a beautiful shade of hot pink lipstick, I went for it: I picked up a tube of NARS Funny Face, and suddenly I had TWO brightly-colored lipsticks that I feel good in! I’m kind of shocked that it works with my skin color, since cool-toned makeup is usually Bad City on me.

I really like the texture of NARS lipstick. It doesn’t wear quite as long as MAC’s matte formula, but it’s a little kinder and less drying to my lips. It’s also a bit more forgiving during the application process. When I run out of my MAC Lady Danger, I may try NARS Heat Wave for the sake of the formula since it’s a very similar shade.

I still only wear real lipstick once or twice a week, but it’s fun to have two to choose from. I don’t feel like I’m wearing a costume, I just feel…fancy. I guess that’s the lipstick look that’ll define my late 30s. (Hey, I still have a few more months before I have to say “my early 40s.”)

Oh, and in case you’re curious, here’s a list of the rest of what’s on and around my head today:
✚ Lipstick: NARS Funny Face
✚ Mascara: Ardency Inn (I wrote a review of this magical stuff a while back.)
✚ Dress: H&M (Looks like they don’t have this exact print anymore, unfortunately.)
✚ Black earrings: & Other Stories
✚ Gold earrings: Madewell
✚ Necklace: Madewell (Oh hey, it’s on sale! You can see much of it in my photo, but I love this necklace. I wear it almost every day.)

p.s. Semi-related, since this is the “vanity” category: This interview with Fran Lebowitz in Elle is so fantastic. I adore Fran.

(Giant photo of my head by John Vairo Jr.)

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For as long as I can remember, my father has worn striped indigo workwear—Wabash stripes, engineer stripes, hickory stripes, ticking stripes. Along with low-top Converse All Stars, denim blue jeans, chambray shirts, and a specific type of wire-framed glasses, those stripes are what I most associate with my father’s personal style. The man loves a stripe. Last Hanukkah, I gave him a hickory-striped Workwear Tote from Wood & Faulk.

He particularly likes to wear a certain style of striped shirt when he paints. He paints a lot, which means wearing—and washing—theses shirts a lot, which means the shirts get worn out after a few years and need to be replaced.

The shirt pictured above is the one he’s currently wearing in the studio. It came from the now-defunct company Smith & Hawken, and was marketed as a “gardening smock.” Sometimes I see them called “chore coats,” too. Aside from the stripes, the key features are really the fit (structured, but loose enough to wear over another shirt) and the lower pockets. It wasn’t specifically pointed out to me by him, but I imagine the straight/square hemline is important.

Internet friends, I need help finding a new painting shirt for my dad. Can you help?

There are a ton of striped shirts with pockets out there, but most of them seem like they’re probably too heavyweight, more like a coat. Or they’re overly-fussy, with rivets and snaps everywhere. Or they’re too fitted. Or they’ve been discontinued (oh man, SO NICE). Or they cost $500 and are only sold in Japan. There are so many gorgeous, expensive, “American-style” work clothes available in Japan.

Here are a few contenders I’ve found that I’m planning to send along to him. I’d love to know about any other options that could fit the bill! The closer they come to his Smith & Hawken shirt (above), the better. And if by some miracle you have a warehouse full of of Smith & Hawken deadstock…I’ll take three, please, size large.

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1. Hudson Hill Wabash Chore Coat
2. Pointer Brand Hickory Stripe Chore Coat (Banded Collar)
3. Levi’s Skateboarding Hickory Stripe Chore Jacket
4. Pointer Brand Hickory Stripe Chore Coat

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Medicine Cabinet from Habitables

This sweet medicine cabinet reminds me of the one I painted for my own bathroom years ago—only much nicer. The size is perfect, and I love that the cross is a cutout. Perfect for small bathrooms! (Madrid-based Habitables makes all kinds of other great stuff, too.)

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White Plus tea towel from Cotton & Flax

Oh Cotton & Flax, how I love thee. I received this lovely tea towel in gray as part of a limited edition collaboration Erin Dollar did with AHeirloom last fall. Both the tea towel and the cutting board are very gorgeous.

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First Aid utility pouch from Apple White

I have a zippered pouch obsession, and this guy is next on my list. How perfect would this be for stashing bandages, hand wipes, and a little sewing kit in your bag? So perfect.

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Cement cross ornaments from LaNique Home

I have no idea what I would do with these, but I want them anyway. I keep picturing them turned into some kind of mobile. I really like the soft pink paint, but they’re also available unpainted or dipped in black if that’s more your thing.

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Safety First earrings from Melanie Favreau

I couldn’t wear these earrings because my ears are lame and I can only wear gold-filled jewelry these days, but I really wish I could. I have a whole bunch of ear-holes, and I love the idea of a whole line of these in black or brass running up my lobes.

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Muslin Swaddle Blanket/Scarf from Modern Burlap

Fritz and Bruno aren’t really into being swaddled, but this sucker is huge (47″ square!), and in my estimation, it would make an awesome scarf. If course, if you have babies or swaddle-loving pets, I’m sure it’s great for that, too…

EDIT: Sometime between last night and now, this item disappeared from Modern Burlap’s Etsy shop. Weird! It’s still available directly from their website, though.

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Cross wood bangle from Voz Collective

I’m not a chunky bracelet person. I’ve tried to be, but as much as I love how they look, they get in my way any time I try to use my hands for anything—which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is not an infrequent occurrence. That said, if I were a chunky bracelet person, these would be first on my list!

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Swiss Cross quilt from Sazerac Stitches

Ooooooh. I don’t know anything about quilting other than that it looks like a lot of work. This pretty quilt is available in six sizes, from lap all the way up to king. Something for the Chihuahuas, something for the Great Danes.

What’s on your Etsy wishlist right now?

Until very recently, I had a rule about what kind of shirts I’d wear and wouldn’t wear outside of the house. In the “wouldn’t” category, I had (mentally) listed t-shirts with things printed on them, especially slogans. Much like my issues with “affirmation” posters and the like (though there are some that don’t make me want to puke), I’ve always kind of seen message t-shirts as being attention-seeking and obnoxious. And maybe they are, but maybe I’ve also kind of started to love them a little. Maybe I’m an obnoxious attention-seeker, and I need a uniform.

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I think what triggered my recent obsession was purchasing two DON’T BE BASIC t-shirts from the clearance rack in the teen girls department at Target (I can’t find them on their website, sorry) for me and Daniel. We were getting ready for our trip to Wisconsin in October (somehow I never blogged about that—oops), and we thought matching shirts would be a good idea. Because really, what’s more obnoxious than one person wearing a DON’T BE BASIC t-shirt? That’s right, two people wearing DON’T BE BASIC t-shirts.

And yeah, Daniel looks way better in teen girl clothing than I do, which is unfair.

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1. My Spirit Animal Is a Goth Teenager
Heather Gabel’s awesome, truth-speaking t-shirt is perpetually out of stock (I was on a wait list for months before I snagged one!), but she has a tank top version in her shop right now.

2. Sad Dude Fan Club
Stay Home Club basically has the best t-shirts ever and I want to buy EVERYTHING THEY SELL. I also love sad dudes, and I’m not ashamed to let the world know.

3. Be Kind to Animals or I’ll Kill You
Oh, Morrissey. You fight with your right hand, and caress with your left hand…and I wouldn’t want it any other way. (This shirt is a nod to one worn by Doris Day.)

4. I’m So Tired
I am. It’s true. That vertical apostrophe is giving me hives, but I want the shirt anyway.

5. I Just Want to Drink Coffee Save Animals and Sleep
Kind of puts everything important right there on one shirt, doesn’t it? If ever there were a message shirt for me, this is it. Thug Life has a number of cool shirts, and a number of lame ones as well. I’ll let you sort out which are which.

6. Feck Perfuction
Maybe it’s unfair for me to include this shirt since it’s no longer available, but it’s one of my favorite recent acquisitions…so I really had to. It was made by heroic designer James Victore and sold through Cotton Bureau, which means all sales were pre-orders. There’s always a chance that it could be re-listed, though, so if you really want one, put your email address on their notification list. UPDATE! Straight from the horse’s mouth: “‘Feck Perfuction’ will be available in January from Cotton Bureau” Excellent!

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Sweetness I Was Only Joking
I can’t not mention my own design from my K Is For Black shop! Modeled here by my handsome designer friend Richard Yoo, this fine shirt is available as a women’s fitted tee, men’s fitted tee, unisex v-neck, long-sleeve tee, tank top, biker tank, or onesie. I mean…that’s a lot of options. (And there’s even a sequel.)

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A couple of months ago, the nice people at Herbivore Botanicals contacted me asking if they could send me one of their soon-to-launched facial oils to try out. Uh…YES, that would be just fine. I fell in love with Herbivore’s products earlier this year when I bought their Coconut Bath Soak, which got me addicted to taking relaxation baths on a regular basis. Since then, I’ve ordered a number of other products from them, and all have been wonderful. Evan is a devotee of their Mens Face Elixer, and is currently on his third bottle (!).

My bottle of Orchid Facial Oil arrived on November 12 (about 5 ½ weeks ago), and I’ve been using nightly it ever since. My friends, this stuff is heaven.

My skin has not looked this good since…I don’t know, since I was a child? I’m not kidding. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent a long time trying to find a combination of products that works well for my sensitive, dry, adult acne-prone, and generally cranky skin, and while the prescription medications I use (Retin-A Micro and Aczone) have gone a long way toward keeping breakouts at bay and reducing clogged pores, I’ve still had issues with texture, discoloration, and dryness. I’ve had good results from Huile Prodigieuse and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex, so I wasn’t actively looking for anything else, but I am so glad that this stuff made its way into my life. I had no idea my skin was capable of improving so drastically, and in a relatively short period of time.

And, of course, the packaging is gorgeous. The square bottle is heavy and solid, and feels noticeably more luxe than their other products. It looks great on display in the bathroom, and yeah, that matters to me.

Herbivore’s full line of facial oils includes three different blends: Orchid (youth preserving/normal skin), Phoenix (cell regenerating/mature or sensitive skin), and Lapis (oil balancing/combination skin). I didn’t choose with variety to try, but Orchid seems to be the exact right choice for me. The directions say to use it twice daily, but I’ve only been using it at night—as nicely as it absorbs into my skin, I haven’t yet done a test drive to see if it would play well with my face makeup during the day. I apply it immediately after washing my face, before the Retin-A and Aczone. It provides a really nice buffering layer, preventing dryness while still allowing the medications to do their jobs. My skin feels so unbelievably soft and looks clear and luminous. I’m happy.

Since I was sent my bottle at no cost, I wasn’t sure of the price until I started writing this post. Turns out it’s a bit spendy—$80 for 1.7oz. Judging by how much I’ve used in 5 ½ weeks, though (I took the photo above about an hour ago), I estimate this bottle will last me the better part of a year. Taking that into account, it’s not so bad…and I will definitely be purchasing a second bottle when the time comes.

Oh, and! There are also miniature-sized, roller ball versions of Herbivore’s facial oils available—both singly and as a set with the larger bottle. Perfect if you want to do a trial run, or if you’re traveling and don’t want to deal with packing a large glass bottle of oil in your carry-on. So smart.

Disclaimer: Herbivore Botanicals sent me this product at no cost, but they did not ask for anything in return. This review was written entirely out of my own enthusiasm and remarkably positive experience with said product. Thumbs up.

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Just a quick note to let you know that EVERYTHING (prints, shirts, iPhone cases, mugs, pillows…everything) in the K IS FOR BLACK shop is $5 OFF this weekend! There’s also FREE shipping (yes, worldwide!) on almost everything.

You must use this link in order to activate the promo discount. (Or just go to doorsixteen.com/kisforblack, which will automatically redirect you.)

I’ve been supporting Small Business Saturday (that’s the day after Black Friday, of course—this year it’ll fall on November 29th) for as long as I’ve known it’s a thing, and for many years now I’ve chosen to do all of my holiday shopping with independent artists, crafters and designers, both locally and online. One of my favorite parts of having a blog is opening up the comments to those independent sellers in my annual D16 handmade posts, and I love promoting my favorite sellers here and on my Etsy page.

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Little Paper Planes, San Francisco

It goes without saying, then, that I love what Etsy is doing this year in conjunction with Small Business Saturday: They’re connecting small shop owners with local Etsy sellers to host trunk shows, bringing products from the online realm into the brick & mortar world! This is such a great way for boutiques to draw in people who are curious about discovering things they can’t see anywhere else, and of course it’s wonderful for bringing local retail visibility to Etsy sellers. Very, very cool. The list of small businesses who have already signed up to host Etsy trunk shows in their shops this year is impressive, and includes a bunch of my favorite folks—including the ones I’ve pictured here.

I’ve been asked to help support this movement by promoting the event and encouraging other small business owners to participate in the Etsy trunk shows, and I am more than happy to oblige!

Are you a small business owner?
Would you like to host an Etsy trunk show in your shop on Small Business Saturday? Yes? I thought you might! Participating shops will receive a trunk show kit* that includes bags, promotional materials, presence on Etsy’s Small Business Saturday event page, and more.

Here’s how to participate:
1. If you haven’t already, apply as a member to Etsy Wholesale
2. Connect with a local Etsy seller to showcase their products and host them in your store for a trunk show
3. Complete the trunk show enrollment form, here
4. Start planning your November 29 trunk show

You can learn more about Small Business Saturday and Etsy trunk shows on the Etsy blog! And if you do participate, either as a shop owner or as an Etsy seller, be sure to let me know—I’m looking forward to attending the trunk shows local to me.

*Merchandise is only available to eligible small businesses through 11:59 P.M. ET on 10/24/2014 or while supplies last. Limit one order per business. Subject to Merchandise Terms. See Merchandise Terms at etsy.me/sourcesmallmerchandiseterms.

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Radish Underground, Portland

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Fair Folks & A Goat, New York City

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Olives & Grace, Boston

This post was written in partnership with Small Business Saturday and Etsy, but I support this endeavor wholeheartedly, and all words are my own. Yay!