No Such Thing

28610976_unknown

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” –Oscar Wilde

It’s been a hectic week so I’m keeping things simple and sharing this beloved quote by literary master Oscar Wilde, a quote that I’ve lived by ever since I first heard it. These words also relate to why I started this blog: having a space where I could explore my love of fashion and literature–where I could share what I love to wear and the countless things that literature continues to teach me.

Wilde is asserting that the notion of being “overdressed or overeducated” is impossible. Wear what you want, dress how you please–and whether others might consider it “overdressed” doesn’t matter. Fashion is a form of self-expression and an outward manifestation of individuality. I always aim to wear what makes me happy and confident.

I mentioned in a previous post that I believe in being a lifelong learner. As much as I loved school and college, I wholeheartedly believe that knowledge can be found in so many places–in travel, in people we meet, in life experiences, in books, in art… The list is truly endless. So being overeducated? No such thing.

In a way, this quote also asserts the concept of being your own person–that no matter what people may say about you (whether it be overdressed, overeducated, or a thousand other things), you are only defined by the opinions of others if you allow yourself to be.

28610736_unknown

img_2147

Kimono: Band of Gypsies (similar here, here, and here)  Tank: Paris Sunday (similar here)  Jeans: Lucky (similar here)  Boots:Blondo  Purse:Prada  Necklaces:6th Borough Boutique  Sunglasses:Ray-Ban  Slip Dress (shown below): Topshop (similar here and here)  Heels: Breckelle’s (similar here) Lip Color:Primrose by Smashbox

Today I’m sharing how to wear a statement piece (this lovely floral kimono by Band of Gypsies!) for two different occasions: casual or dressy. The above casual look was perfect for a breezy afternoon in downtown Portland with my sister. The easy layers were stylish yet comfortable. Spring weather is so temperamental here in Oregon; while it was warm in the sunshine, the wind often picked up, and I was glad to have something covering my shoulders! This particular kimono I bought at TJ Maxx recently, so I’ve linked some similar options.

I love partnering with 6th Borough Boutique; their gold necklaces layer together so beautifully and add that extra chic detail to both the casual look and the dressy version (shown below).

To elevate this outfit for a dressier occasion, I simply swapped out the jeans, tank, and boots with a little black slip dress from Topshop. I also wore a classic pair of ankle-strap heels that were a Nordstrom Rack find from last year, and I kept my necklaces and sunglasses the same.

Statement pieces like this floral kimono are so versatile because they effortlessly go from casual to dressy. Such items are also ideal for travel because they can be worn for a variety of situations. This is especially useful for someone like me, a notorious over-packer!

Speaking of travel: as we head into summer vacation season, for the months of May and June I’ll be doing a travel series—places I’ve been, favorite cities and sites, recommendations, what to pack, and where I can’t wait to go back!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

img_2077

Golden Hours

img_1643

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I’m sharing a short Frost poem this week, but don’t assume that its brevity makes it simplistic. These brief lines are filled with beautiful symbolism about youth, life, and the impermanence of things.

In the first five lines Frost asserts that the beautiful golden colors we see in nature are fleeting; I’m instantly reminded of the gorgeous oranges we see during fall here in Oregon, or the bright yellow tulips currently in bloom in my yard.

Yet I also think that he’s not only discussing nature–these images are metaphors for youth and time. Just as the hardest shade for nature to hold onto is gold, the blissful, golden days of childhood have that same quickness, that same elusiveness. He then mentions the Garden of Eden and how that paradise didn’t last forever either, much in the way that the sun rises, ending the beauty of first morning light.

And the last line–the poem’s title, the summary of it all–is that nothing precious can remain as it is. That’s part of why spring is so beautiful and childhood is so special. In Oregon, for example, we so cherish our sunny days because we get months of constant rain. Some things can’t last, and that’s precisely what makes them meaningful–truly what makes life itself meaningful. After all, if we could live forever or flowers could always bloom, we wouldn’t appreciate them as much, for we couldn’t grasp the true effect of time.

Remember those beautiful pink flowers from my post several weeks ago? Already falling off the bush and wilting! But, on the bright side, at least that means we’re heading towards summer.

img_1641img_1642

Top: J. Crew  Jeans: Vigoss (similar here and here)  Boots: Blondo  Bag: Chanel (similarly-sized black totes herehere, and here)

The coming week promises warmer temps and festive spring attire, but until then, I’ve been wearing some favorite basics during this transitional weather (in Oregon that means clouds, sun, rain, repeat–sometimes all in the same hour!).

My top is from J. Crew and currently on sale on their website for under $15! It’s soft and breathable and is a great layering piece for those cooler spring days. J. Crew has such quality staples, and they last season after season.

My jeans are Vigoss and I’ve had them for awhile, but I found some really similar options by the same brand on Nordstrom Rack’s website. I’ve been wearing these Blondo ankle boots nonstop lately–the pointy-toe adds a little edge, and the shiny leather has broken in so well!

The Chanel Medallion Tote I’ve had for a long time and is a beloved piece of mine. It’s a smaller tote that still carries everything I need for day-to-day. I love the shape, the iconic quilting, and the gold medallion zipper. When it comes to handbags, like a lot of bloggers and fashion editors, I’m more willing to invest in a classic style from a high-end brand because I know it will withstand the test of time. And it’s no secret that Chanel bags are my favorite! I linked some similarly-sized black totes in a variety of price points (since Chanel stopped producing the Medallion Tote around 2012, you would nowadays only be able to find it on eBay or in vintage/consignment shops).

Looking forward to sunshine here the next few days! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.

img_1640

Hope Is Where the Heart Is

img_1760

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
 
 
This is one of Dickinson’s more famous poems, and it’s short and sweet. It utilizes a simple–yet beautiful–extended metaphor: hope is a bird. And this bird, she claims, resides in our souls and never stops singing its melody. The bird’s song is sweetest during harsh winds and storms, signifying that difficult days are when hope truly means the most.
 
She’s heard the bird in the worst of times (“in the chillest land” and “on the strangest sea”), and yet this bird has never “asked a crumb” of her, has never demanded to be fed. It’s self-sustaining and sings on in our hearts, warming us from the inside out, even in our darkest hours.
 
I love literature that explores the resilience of the human spirit, the stories or poems that ponder: where do we get our hope? Where do we get the strength to journey on? Despite this poem’s brevity, it explores those very questions.
 
However, I’ll be honest; I struggle a bit with the last two lines–the notion that hope demands nothing of us. The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as the “desire for a particular thing to happen.” It’s a desire for something that isn’t concrete or hasn’t yet come to pass.
 
And sure–I love the image of a resilient little bird singing in our souls, rooting us on, keeping our spirits up. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? A time in our life when something felt hopeless?
 
When I was nine years old, my dad was in a horrific car accident. He hit black ice and went over an embankment. He was ejected from his vehicle, broke his neck in two places, ruptured organs, and was close to death. At first the doctors said that if he lived, he’d likely be a quadriplegic. And of course I wanted him to live more than anything, but I couldn’t imagine him not doing all the things he loved ever again–playing in his basketball league, waterskiing in the summer, going on runs while I rode my little pink bike just ahead of him. At nine years old, those were thoughts that filled my head, because those things were such a huge part of who he was, the things that made him my dad.
 
Months went by, and he had numerous complications. But his neck surgery had been a success, and he slowly learned to walk again. There were so many times when things felt hopeless, but something I admire most about my dad is that he never gives up. He’s stubborn to a fault, and he never loses hope. Yet it’s a choice he makes every day, even now–years and years later–to carry on with a hopeful heart in spite of his chronic pain and ongoing health issues.
 
This is exactly why I would assert that maintaining hope and continuing onward in one’s endeavor, whatever it may be, is an act of courage–because that elusive thing we yearn for is not certain or guaranteed. Though the bird may always be singing, we still have to hear it and choose to embrace its song.
img_1758-1
img_1759
Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here, here, and hereBlazer: Philosophy (similar here and hereHeels: Nine West (similar here and hereEarrings: Chanel Lip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte
 
I really loved the colorful jumpsuit I wore on Easter Sunday! It was chilly here in Portland and–though I briefly contemplated wearing a dress–I was so glad I chose something that kept my legs warm.
 
I’m a big fan of jumpsuits–they have a certain cool factor for sure, but probably what I enjoy most is I feel like I’m wearing pajamas! Granted, some of the more form-fitting ones can be a bit constricting, but the wide-legged variety like the one I wore on Easter is so comfortable. When you can merge comfort and fashion, it’s truly a win-win. This particular one was a TJ Maxx find, so I linked several similar striped options above.
 
I think jumpsuits can be a great alternative to dresses for events like bridal showers, birthday brunches, and tropical getaways. They come in so many fabrics and silhouettes that there are countless options available. Since it’s a one-piece, my advice from personal experience is to move around in it before you decide to buy it. I have a long torso for example, and sometimes I have to size up to accommodate that.
 
On Easter morning when the weather was even cooler, I paired it with a crisp white blazer (shown below), which I think is such a versatile piece for spring and summer. (Also, if anyone is wondering, the bunny ears are from Target!)
 
I’m excited about the next several blog posts I have in the works–I’ll be sharing some great local restaurants, what I wore to the theatre, and a new jewelry partnership! Stay tuned, and I wish you all a wonderful week!
28607664_unknown

Stop and Smell the Flowers

img_1617

Today by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

 

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

 

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

 

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

 

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

 

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

 

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

 

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

 

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

The blooming flowers and scattered sunshine have me in great spirits this week! I feel like I’ve shared some rather melancholy poems in past posts; so to mix things up a bit, I found this merry, contemporary gem by two-time US Poet Laureate Billy Collins to celebrate the beauty of springtime.

The first element I enjoy about this poem is its structure (or lack thereof)–it’s one joyful sentence lauding a perfect spring day. The fact that it’s one continuous sentence mimics the way a person might speak when he/she is happy or excited, as each thought and phrase is a lively run-on into the next.

The imagery further captures that exuberance with phrases like “throw open the windows,” “rip the little door”, and “garden bursting with peonies.” The verbs in those phrases are very active and specific, which of course, is the hallmark of a great writer.

However, the image I love most is from the 6th stanza to the end, where Collins speaks of hammering open that “glass paperweight” (aka a snowglobe) and freeing the little figurines that live inside. The notion of releasing them into our world, “this larger dome of blue and white,” is a beautiful, poignant one.

To me, it’s a metaphor for the way we feel at the end of winter, after we’ve been cooped up inside our own little worlds for months and with spring we are reborn–we are welcomed once again into the outside world, full of bright sunlight, warm air, and bursting gardens.

Another interpretation of that metaphor has a lot to do with the poem’s overarching themes of freedom and wonder. In our day and age people talk a lot about being present, and that’s something I think that occurs when we break free of our metaphorical snowglobes–when we notice and enjoy the people and things that surround us. Or, to use the age-old adage: when we stop and smell the flowers.

 img_1618

img_1620

img_1648

Lace Top: (similar here and here)  Floral Skirt: Faith and Joy (similar here and here)  Trench Coat: DKNY (similar here and here)  Heels: Nine West (similar here)  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar hereBracelets: Natasha Accessories (similar here)  Lip Color: Marcia by BH Cosmetics

With Easter nearly upon us, I donned two of my favorite springtime pieces: lace blouses and floral prints. I love a great floral print, and this ensemble would also be perfect for occasions such as bridal showers or birthday brunches. My top and skirt were TJ Maxx finds, so I linked similar versions above. It’s still fairly chilly most days here in Portland, so I also wanted to showcase this look when paired with a gray trench–my DKNY one (shown below) is a few years old, but I linked two lovely options in a similar color palette.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your week! Thank you for stopping by!

img_1652-1

Girl About Town

img_1518

“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere–and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.”

The incomparable Jane Austen has countless words of wisdom throughout her stories and letters. This one ranks high on my list, as it celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and our ability to start anew. It’s from the novel Mansfield Park, which tells the tale of a young girl who goes to live with her mother’s wealthy relatives on their country estate. In a way, it’s a bit of a Cinderella story–a girl who is often mistreated for her lack of status and not valued for her true worth (and I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t read it!).

Amidst the schemes for advantageous connections and romantic affections, an overarching theme of the novel is something that the above passage illustrates well. We can’t fear things not turning out the way we hope they will: “if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better.” We learn, we make changes, and we try again.

Though I’m only about 6 weeks in, it’s been such a positive experience for me thus far with Shakespeare Loves Chanel. I’ve enjoyed writing regularly again and sharing my thoughts on books I’m reading or poems I’m revisiting; it’s something I’ve truly missed since finishing up grad school. I’ve also loved styling outfits and choosing locations for photos, and it’s been great connecting with new people who share similar interests.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned conquering my fears–when the fear of not pursuing a dream or a goal outweighs the fear of failure. A big part of that fear has to do with what Austin speaks of in this passage. She calls them “those evil-minded observers.”

In that regard, the internet and social media can be a daunting place, when anyone anywhere can criticize your work and simply hide behind a computer screen. Yet Austin’s counter to that is truly just as applicable now as it was in 19th century England: such observers make “much of a little.” Or, in other words, they make a big deal out of nothing. They deceive themselves with their own judgments and assumptions, which is precisely why we can’t let their opinions dictate our lives.

All in all, we cannot fear mistakes, disappointments, or criticisms–instead we must have the courage to keep on growing.

28341472_unknown

img_1517

Blazer: Zara (similar here and here)   Boots: Blondo  Scarf: Burberry (similar here and here)  Purse: Prada (similar here and here)  Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (similar here and here)

I’m a girl who loves pairing classic pieces with statement accessories, and on this particular cloudy spring day, I stuck to some beloved wardrobe staples. I am a huge fan of mixing affordable items with high end investment ones; those in the fashion world call that high/low dressing, and you’ll see it on countless bloggers and celebrities. As such, I’ve linked designer items and some affordable options above.

I wore this look when my husband and I were out and about downtown, though it would also be perfect for a casual business setting. My wool blazer is from Zara (sidenote: hooray, Zara is finally coming to Portland!). My knee-high suede boots are from Blondo and–like all their boots–are waterproof!  Those boots are currently on sale at Nordstrom. My silk Burberry scarf I’ve had for four years but it has held up tremendously well, and I’ll continue to love it for seasons to come. My black Prada purse is made of a beautiful textured saffiano leather. It’s a special piece to me because it was purchased on our honeymoon in Italy. The Ray-Bans you’ll recognize from my last post (and you’ll probably see me wear them a lot in the coming sunny months).

The next few weeks I’ll be sharing more spring-specific looks that are perfect for events like Easter, bridal showers, and brunch. Thank you for visiting, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

28341696_unknown

Reading Lists and Sun Slips

28340528_unknownToday, I’m sharing my spring reading list! I very much enjoy historical fiction, and my step-sister, best friend, and I are all reading Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the Light We Cannot See. His prose is lyrical and precise, and it’s filled with beautiful metaphors and symbolism that are powerfully juxtaposed against the harsh realities of WWII. It primarily follows two protagonists–a blind French girl and a German orphan boy–throughout childhood and adolescence. We’re about halfway through and the pair have yet to meet, but I’m really looking forward to seeing their stories converge. I’ll likely do a full post on this novel in a few weeks.

I’ve also started Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, a fictitious account of Ernest Hemingway’s love affair with his first wife Hadley, told from her point of view. I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring 20’s and have long been a fan of Hemingway’s works, and this novel imagines what the famed novelist was like in his youth and how it might have been to be that first woman who captured his heart.

Speaking of Hemingway, I would like to revisit a novel I haven’t read since my first semester of grad school (has that been 5 years already?): A Farewell to Arms. I have the Hemingway Library Edition that showcases early drafts and how he wrote 47 different endings before finally settling on one! It inspires me that even someone as brilliant as Hemingway did numerous rewrites on his journey to the final product.

We had lovely weather earlier this week, and I was able to spend time outside reading–give me a good book and some sun, and I will be happy for hours! What are you all reading this spring?

img_148228340704_unknownimg_1429

I personally am not a huge fan of all the 90’s trends that have cropped up the last couple years (though I do like some crop tops–pun intended–you won’t see me in “mom jeans” anytime soon). However, one style I am thrilled that has resurfaced from the depths of the 90’s? The slip dress. The slip dress is super versatile, as it’s available in an array of prints, fabrics, lengths, and price points–from velvet options for winter to classic LBD’s for nights out.

This micro-floral print by Billabong is a Nordstrom Rack find from several months ago (still available in a few sizes on Billabong’s website and currently on sale for less than $25!) and is perfect for spring and summer. I plan on wearing lots of slip dresses in the months to come, and I love the lightweight fabric and super flattering midi-length of this one.

28340288_unknown

Slip Dress: Billabong  Denim Jacket: Levi’s (similar here)  Sneakers: Jack Purcell   Heels: Nine West (similar here and here Sunglasses: Ray-Ban  Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar here and hereLip Color: Birthday Suit by Tarte

The great thing about a slip dress–and this floral print in particular–is the ability to dress it up or down. I paired it with a lace-up pair of Nine West heels for a dressier vibe, though I also enjoy the laid back feel when worn with a classic pair of Jack Purcell sneakers.

As it was mostly in the high 60’s on our sunnier days this week, I threw my beloved Levi’s denim jacket on top. My Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses and gold Marc by Marc Jacobs watch finished off this cheerful spring look.

Thank you for stopping by, and I’d love to hear what’s on your spring reading list!

The Edge of Spring

img_1292A Light Exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring

Not present on the Year

At any other period –

When March is scarcely here

 

A Color stands abroad

On Solitary Fields

That Science cannot overtake

But Human Nature feels.

 

It waits upon the Lawn,

It shows the furthest Tree

Upon the furthest Slope you know

It almost speaks to you.

 

Then as Horizons step

Or Noons report away

Without the Formula of sound

It passes and we stay –

 

A quality of loss

Affecting our Content

As Trade had suddenly encroached

Upon a Sacrament.

 

This Emily Dickinson poem captures that moment when, in early March, we’re on the cusp of spring–the days are growing longer, the nights not quite so cold, and some flowers are already in bloom.

Dickinson specifically discusses light in this poem and the powerful effect it has on both nature and people come springtime–the very word is in the title, and it’s the “it” she speaks of in the third stanza that “waits upon the Lawn,” “shows the furthest Tree,” and “almost speaks to you.” This repetition highlights the word’s importance: light is life-giving. In spring it renews our health and our spirits, and nature is reborn.

In the final two stanzas she refers to the loss of light and how its absence breeds discontent–sometimes how we feel during the gray, gloomy days of winter. As such, the poem seems to end on a more somber note, especially contrasted with the hopeful tone of the earlier lines.

This makes me wonder, quite simply, “why?” Why end a poem about the special light of spring in such a way? Looking at the poem altogether, Dickinson appears to be contemplating the intricate relationship between nature and people (something that is truly a common musing amongst poets–all three of the other writers that I’ve discussed on past posts have numerous poems on nature and our place within it).

Seasons change and affect our moods, our activities, our lives–and how we choose to spend them. I feel that she’s commenting on the impermanence of things–light comes and goes, just as all seasons do. But there’s something unique about the bright light of spring after the darkness of winter because of all the hope and beauty that it brings.

img_1305img_1290img_1334

Ruana: BP (similar color palette here and here)  Pants: Jolt (similar style ponte pants here and here)  Hat: Kyi Kyi Classic Faux Fur Beanie  Boots: Ugg Australia (similar here)

With one foot in winter and one in spring, it’s that in-between time of year when the weather is at its most temperamental (especially in the Pacific Northwest!). Yet this in-between time produces some of my favorite conditions up in the mountains–blue sky, scattered clouds, and fresh powder. My husband and I took advantage of these perfect conditions to hit the slopes earlier this week at beautiful Mt. Hood. He’s a far better snowboarder than I am, but we always have a blast!

This is what I wore on the drive up there, and this soft ruana (also known as a poncho or wrap) I purchased on sale from Nordstrom after Christmas. Wraps are ideal attire for that awkward transition from winter to spring, when layering is key for unpredictable weather. I love the black and gray checkered pattern of this one, and it also happens to be reversible! I will definitely be wearing it on future travels because it looks stylish but has all the coziness of a beloved blanket.

I adore beanies with oversized pom poms, and this faux fur one by Kyi Kyi was a Nordstrom Rack find over the holidays (I found it still available online directly from the Kyi Kyi website). My waterproof ankle boots are by Ugg Australia and are unfortunately sold out, but I linked a very similar Ugg option above.

Happy Friday, everyone!