Girl About Town

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“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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!