Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shabby Chic

shabby chic

shabby chic

shabby chic
works cited: vest poached from my sister's closet (hand-me-up?); loft cords; j. crew shirt and sweater; steve madden boots; breda watch

My sister, a snappy dresser herself, seems a little too delighted to point out what she notices as my sartorial shortcomings. Normally she likes to tease me about my penchant for granny items or for wearing my red pants too often, but this week she's found a new target with these boots, which after a winter and a half of salted roads and frequent trips into the snow, look a little worse for the wear. I believe she may have applied the term "bedraggled" to them more than once. I prefer "shabby chic," but unfortunately cheaply-stained leather just doesn't age the way real, nice, expensive, out-of-my-budget leather does, so bedraggled I will have to stay at least until these boots take a restorative trip to the cobbler.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Christmakuh



works cited: j. crew tee; h&m coat; steve madden flats; hue sweater tights; skirt from jeremy's in berkeley; hat c/o seams to be (etsy)

In my family, we celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah. Usually I miss Hannukah at home because it often falls well before Christmas, but this year I'll have spent all eight nights at home, which is a rare treat. I wore this on Christmas Eve (and the fifth night of Hannukah) but with all the candle-lighting, present-opening, game-playing, and eating, I've been pretty well occupied the past few days and am just getting around to posting it now. Hope you all had a wonderful past few days, no matter what you do or do not celebrate.
P.S. What are you wearing for New Year's Eve? Secretly, I really want a dress exactly like this but have had trouble finding it, so I might just go with a black dress and sparkly belt. Most of my closet is just right for a trip to farmer's market or library, but it seems a bit off kilter to wear a plaid button-up and pencil skirt to a club on NYE, so share your ideas and save me from my own vanilla-ness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

home again

home again
works cited: hand-me-down shirt from my sister; UO cardigan and flats; thrifted jacket; bag from etsy; scarf from lost & found; loft cords; blogger staple mac ruby woo lipstick; pictures by my sister :)

I'm back in Berkeley to see my family for the holidays and as usual, this involves rummaging through my sister's and my own leftover clothes in our closets. This morning's treasure was this top, which Rachel conceded could be mine. Given how few stripes I have in my closet, I couldn't very well say no, right? The pattern mixing of scarf and stripes looked great in the mirror, but I'm not sure how well it holds up in photos. One of the funny things about seeing your outfit photographed is you start to realize there's a bizarre gap between things you think look great in person and things that photograph really well. Sometimes an outfit is both, but I think today's leans toward the better-in-person.
P.S. Sorry for the instagram photo, but the best part of the top is the awesome buttons on the shoulders and I couldn't very well let you miss it:

P.P.S. Are you on instagram? Only recently have I gotten obsessed and can see why other people love it so much. My username is whatwouldanerdwear, if you want to find me there.

Monday, December 19, 2011

[CLOSED] Giveaway: $50 to Ruche

This week, you have the chance to win $50 to spend as you like at Ruche, one of my all-time favorite online shops. They have so much great stuff, like this polka-dot top, this pleated dress, and this chunky sweater. Just visit Ruche and leave a comment (with your email address or link). I'll pick a winner at random before Christmas.
Good luck XO!
Update: the lucky winner is Lexie!

High School Crushes

Tues 12/6

Tues 12/6

Tues 12/6
works cited: gap sweater and jeans; boots c/o blowfish; christopher's belt; breda watch; necklace c/o le mode

I am fairly sure I had these exact same jeans in high school. If I were a pack-rat at all, I'd probably still have them--I wore them through much of college and gave them up only when they were in tatters. In fact, this whole outfit strikes me as very similar to what I wore in the late 90's, which is probably why my generation Catalano boyfriend likes them so much--they remind him of what girls wore in high school. Secretly, I still have a major thing for white Hanes tee shirts and hiking boots, because that's what guys wore in middle school and high school when I started having big crushes. Luckily, my grown-up crush wears white tee shirts all the time. Now if I could just convince him to buy a pair of Timberland boots circa 1998...

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Talented Megan Nielsen


Last week, I met my friend Megan and Sydney at the Manassas battlefield in Virginia to take some pictures of Megan's winter clothing. I have mentioned Megan numerous times on this blog because she has made some of my favorite clothes and has been a wonderful friend to me this year (she moved to DC just before I did and has fielded many of my "Why are things so expensive and how do I sell my car?" phone calls). Sydney brought her exceptional photography skills and Megan brought beautifully-made clothes and the only skill I was able to bring to the table was my ability to change clothes in the back of a minivan. Megan's lookbook turned out beautifully and the clothes in her winter line go on sale tomorrow--you can see all the pieces and pictures here. Thanks again for asking me, Megan! It was such a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Extra Special December Book Recommendations


Today's book recommendations come to you from my friend and voracious reader, Dot. I'm farming out my post this month for three reasons: first, I have been on a spree of book posts (here and here and here) and I've depleted my general-recommendation-juices; second, Dot reads much more contemporary fiction than I do and has impeccable taste in good literature; third, the comments are always the best part of these posts. You all have such incredible and diverse ideas for what to read than what better idea than to take one of the best commenters and give her a post of her own? So without further ado...

When Tania asked me to recommend a few books for you all, I was thrilled. There's nothing I love better than bossing people around in a bookstore. Errh, or on the internet. You get it. So here's what you should find in your library / buy for your book-loving cousin JoJo / put on your Christmas wish list immediately:

Silver Sparrow (Tayari Jones). With its opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," we spin into the secret life of Dana Yarboro. And by secret, I mean *she* is the secret--her father's other family frolics around 1980s Atlanta unaware of Dana and her mother's existence. Told from the perspective of Dana and her father's "real" daughter Chaurisse, Silver Sparrow takes us deep into a family, casting our definitions of normal childhoods, love, and commitment aside in favor of the truth: to live in relation to others is complex, risky business.

Once Upon a River (Bonnie Jo Campbell). Enough of wishy-washy Bella Swan, readers. Here comes sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, searching to find her mother (and herself) in rural Michigan. The critics are calling this sharp-shooting, river-navigating girl the next Huckleberry Finn--I say she's just plain great.

The Financial Lives of the Poets (Jess Walter). Matt Prior quits his stable job in financial journalism to start a website that turns out not to be as successful as dear Tania's fashion exploits. The website? Financial advice in poetic verse. After the site's utter failure, we find Matt on the verge of losing everything: wife, house, life as he knows it. And then he meets Skeet and Jamie, the literary world's most darling drug dealers.

The Book of Men (Dorianne Laux). I know, I get it. You don't read poetry. You read Robert Frost in high school and now you are SO OVER IT. But Dorianne Laux is something different--this book's got poems about Mick Jagger, old boyfriends, Superman, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and a heartbreaking soldier she spots in an airport. If you want to remember what life, love, and everything truly feels like, read these poems.

P.S. Dot also has the raddest pinterest boards.
P.P.S. Why I never link to you-know-what.
P.P.P.S. Read anything good lately? Please oh please leave a comment and let us poach off your reading lists.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

History of a Working Vacation

sat 12/10

sat 12/10
works cited: target dress and belt; hue tights; old UO cardigan; steve madden boots

I've returned to the land of the living, in just enough time to frantically pack a bag and hop aboard a bus to Princeton, where one of my best friends and roommates from college awaits, for a nerd-tastic weekend of co-studying and library-hopping. In my family of workaholics, it's not unusual to take work wherever you go. Many family trips have been spent taking copious notes on novels, or huddled around laptops working on grants, so often that we actually have a name for this Type A disorder type of travel: "a working vacation." Friends + good food + getting work done = true nerd happiness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

[CLOSED] Giveaway: Win Glasses from BonLook!

Picnik collage

My bespectacled friends, today you have the chance to win a $99 voucher for a new pair of glasses from BonLook! Or if you are only two-eyed, like me, you can get some snazzy new sunglasses. To enter, leave a comment telling me what model you'd like to win. I would definitely go for these (and maybe if I keep reading in low light, I'll need to). For an extra entry, you can like BonLook on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.
P.S. Or if you can't wait, take 10% off with the discount code BLWWANW10 at checkout.
Update: the lucky winner is Erica!

Denial Is the Best Medicine

works cited: skirt c/o ruche; target tee; MIA wedges; j.crew wool tights; and a coat (not shown but I wore it) from Jeremy's in Berkeley; necklace from etsy

This is another outfit masterminded by Lauren, which I wore yesterday while trying to ignore a fever that kept creeping upwards in order to meet some deadlines and have coffee with Amy and S. You know what they say, denial is the best medicine. Denial, and copious amounts of zinc, green tea, orange juice, vitamin C tablets, hot showers, and over-the-phone dramatic recitations of "Sneezles" by your mother.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Reazles For Sneezles and Wheezles

Mon 12/12

Mon 12/12
works cited: j.crew cords and tee; gap sweater; keds; hat c/o seams to be 

For a quick coffee run to Tryst (where you can find some of the best americanos outside Seattle) on Sunday morning, I went for wintery layers, corduroy, knits, and slightly-chilly ankles. My desire for a dose of coziness with my caffeine is unfortunately rooted in the onset of my yearly early-winter cold, which I spent the day trying to ward off with vitamin C, lemon water, and time on the couch working on my advisor's book index. Whenever I don't feel well, I start to miss being a kid and having my mama bring me toast with jam and peppermint tea, and read me A.A. Milne's poem "Sneezles" from Now We Are Six, which we reserved as a special treat for sick days. She also would feed me lots of vitamin C tablets, which remains a strange family placebo remedy for colds. Any magic cold-dispensing remedies in your family? (Not that the vitamin C isn't working, Mom, I'm sure I'll feel better any second now...)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thrice as Nice

thrice as nice

thrice as nice
works cited: anthropologie dress; banana republic sweater; belt from my mom; hue sweater tights; steve madden boots

I've been known to like a sweater or two, so today I wore three: sweater dress, cardigan, sweater tights. There's no such thing as too much knitwear when the mercury drops. Usually I am not so bold with color, but I got a little help with this outfit. I tend to get in ruts with the way I wear things, and in college I used to beg my stylish friend Jen to come over and pick out different outfits for me; lately I've been missing having a nearby girlfriend to help me figure out how to wear certain items of clothing. Foolishly, my friend Lauren (from my closet in sketches) mentioned to me that she's started to do closet consultations and I immediately began buttering her up to spend the afternoon in my closet in exchange for my best lentil soup and homemade bread.  It was great to see my clothes through fresh eyes, and Lauren helped me think of ways to style a few tricky pieces and basically catapulted me out of my I-can't-decide-what-to-wear rut that I always fall into early in winter. It was so much fun and made me miss living with girlfriends.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


cold as shit

cold as shit
works cited: dress c/o spotted moth; madewell sweater; hue tights; j. crew boots (and puffer coat)

Just as I was beginning to believe that D.C. doesn't have winter, a 30-degree day with whipping winds arrived to tell me otherwise. The bizarre-ness of taking photos of oneself every day is especially striking in the cold weather, when it seems not merely vain but downright masochistic to head outside into the chill and take off one's coat just to get a picture with great natural light. So to answer my mother's inevitable question: yes, I'm wearing a coat when I go outside; yes, Christopher has to cajole me to take it off; yes, I'm freezing when we take these pictures no matter how cozy my wool sweater keeps me indoors; indeed, the relaxed face you see above is a mirage (evidence below for something that better captures how I feel right before Christopher takes my picture in December weather). Now if only I were a bit more like Wim Hof...

cold as shit 

P.S. Kayley's post yesterday on winter photos cracked me up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inspired by...


Thurs 12/8
works cited: loft cords; sweater c/o ruche; j. crew tee; not sure where scarf is from but possibly target or a street stall; breda watch; boots c/o blowfish; socks i'm not sure either (gap maybe?)

I pinned these two pictures a few weeks ago (from this post at Calivintage) thinking that I would try to make a slightly-updated 90's grunge outfit at some point. I loved the thick sweaters, tights, and boots in the photos and the combination of several neutral colors at once. In general, I go for structure over slouch but lately I've really been in the mood for thicker sweaters, cords and jeans, and boots. And this is pretty much made for a drizzly day reading, writing, and grading.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pass the Egg Nog, Please

Tues 12/13

Tues 12/13

Tues 12/13
works cited: dress by megan nielsen; hue sweater tights; very old urban outfitters sweater; belt swiped from my mom; bonvelle boots c/o blowfish; breda watch

I wore this to our building's holiday party this weekend, which was an awesome and eclectic mix of west African food, hip hop dance music blasting over a boombox, several toddlers wearing princess dresses and playing hide-and-go-seek between the banisters, and very heavily spiked homemade egg nog. I loved this outfit of Jane's, and went for a similar vibe with a sweet full dress, dark tights, and boots. Cozy for sipping all the egg nog I could get my hands on because 'tis the season in which no one looks at you funny if you want to drink what amounts to straight-up cream out of a plastic cup while chatting with 3 year-olds about Disney movies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Plagiarism, Round Two

Mon 12/5

Mon 12/5

Mon 12/5
works cited: gap jeans and vest (gift from my sister); steve madden boots; cowl c/o five bamboo; thrifted jacket and brooch; breda watch

While putting together this post, I discovered that I unintentionally plagiarized my title for these posts from the ladies at Academichic (RIP, favorite blog). I was busy searching for pictures of S. wearing a pink cowl neck top (found here), which I had long admired when I discovered my crime. So here are my belated apologies to S., who remains dear to my blog reader heart because she rides cute bikes, makes cute babies, and still rocks the birkenstocks.
P.S. And just in case this post didn't have quite enough links already, here's another to the guest post I did for S. on bike dates.

Thursday, December 1, 2011




works cited: h&m dress and scarf; thrifted jacket and belt; j. crew boots; hat c/o seams to be

Happy December! I had to break out a hat and scarf to celebrate the last month of the year, even though I needed the hat more to cover up my unwashed hair than I did to stay warm. It's been beautiful and perfectly crisp outside--just the kind of weather where you want to ride your bike and take walks and play football in the park. That, or sit inside working all day staring at the sunshine outside the window. Now, please pardon me while I sniffle self-pityingly and get back to my computer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stolen Goods


works cited: UO pants; gap shirt; steve madden boots; DIY necklace from this tutorial

Pairing denim with the red pants was entirely inspired by this picture of Natalie from the other day. I don't have her excellent accessory--a chubby-cheeked red-headed baby--but I do have a very silly necklace made of pipes from the hardware store (not quite the same, right?). Speaking of Natalie, nothing made me laugh harder (or feel more relieved) during our apartment hunt earlier this summer than this post. The reference to Azkaban sent me into a paroxysm of giggles.
P.S. DC fall weather is out of this world. 62 at the end of November! Should've moved here years ago...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Magic

holiday magic

holiday magic

holiday magic
works cited: vintage thrifted christian dior sweater (yes you read that right...booyah!); anthro skirt; thrifted oxfords and watch; necklace from who knows where in high school

Just before Thanksgiving, freshly-relocated Carrie and I went to Unique Thrift, this crazy gigantic Wal-Mart sized thrift store in Virginia. I've been super-careful with my budget this fall but have been itching for a thrift store trip to spice up my winter closet a bit. Santa must have known I've been good this year, because I stumbled upon this Christian Dior striped sweater right away. It's quirky and in perfect condition and 3 dollars later and it was mine, all mine. Now that's what I call holiday magic.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shine On

Shine On

Shine On

Shine On

Shine On
works cited: UO skirt; j. crew sequin tank; cardigan from jeremy's in berkeley; target scarf and boots; hue sweater tights; thrifted belt

The day after Thanksgiving seems to be the marker of the beginning of the holiday season, so yesterday I broke out my festive-and-much-neglected sequin tank top which Jenna Lyons told me to buy last winter swearing by its versatility which I have yet to discover adequately. However, I did see a really cute girl a few months back wearing a sequin tank top with a similar-toned scarf and cardigan, and it seemed to mellow out the sequins a bit by blending them into a neutral color palette. I tried her trick yesterday and liked it, even if I ended up looking a bit like a brown bear preparing for a disco ball. The weather was gorgeous, so I rode my bike to Georgetown to meet Kelsey, Eric, and Megan for lunch and to do a little holiday shopping for family members. Then I lugged my sparkly self back up the hill for a quiet evening preparing for the madness of end-of-term grading, dissertation editing, and freelance work that awaits me in the next few weeks.

Cyber Monday Sponsor Spotlight

For "Cyber Monday," I thought I'd spotlight a few great picks and great deals from the sponsors that help me keep my blog running. I'm unusually particular about sponsors, and try only to pick shops from which I have shopped or would shop on my own. In other words, they tend to be budget-friendly small businesses, often with great missions or ethical underpinnings. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite picks of the holiday season:

Ruche sweater (left); Hand-knit cowl from Seams to Be(right)
10% off Ruche with code "CYBERMON" and free shipping on all orders over $50

Spotted Moth ring (left), Le Mode necklace (right)
10% off Spotted Moth with the code "NERD"; free shipping from Le Mode with code "CYBER"

Charlotte's Web shirt from Out of Print (left); Five Bamboo fireside cowl (right)

Ruche sparkly shoes (left); Blowfish Bonvelle boots (right)
25% off everything at Blowfish with the code "CYBER25"

And for the very best deals, Go Chic or Go Home has an amazing link list of over 20 sales and codes, including 30% off GAP, 25% off J. Crew, and 30% off Steve Madden and many others. It's going to take all my willpower to stay away from J. Crew online today! Go here to find the full list.

Or if you're not in the mood to shop at all and you'd like to strengthen your resolve against holiday binge spending, might I send you to this incredible article?