Check and Call

When I saw this dress three summers ago, it immediately reminded me of something that Charlotte York would wear. I saw that it came in tall and in that moment, I knew I wanted, needed, had to have this gingham confection. I just could not just pass it up. Along with three other shift dresses, my would-be upper east side gallery director capsule wardrobe was complete.

This dress was re-released this year in both of the original colorways from summer 2017, albeit in a larger gingham. The tall and petite sizing options, however were produced for this season, even in the skirt version. Even though I do not love how popular the gingham has become, I nevertheless love the print.

As with all hemlines, proportions for this dress are key in selecting the ideal footwear. I love that this dress works with a pair of high heels in an office or barefoot on a deck, accessorized with a glass of rose. I would completely skip wearing a pair of ballet flats or flat sandals with this dress, as a zero heel is not exactly flattering with an above the knee hemline, even for those topping six feet tall.

West coast is not exactly a hotbed for the preppy aesthetic, so sporting the style is just another way to stand out. I know I have to regularly rededicate myself to this effort but I am making headbands happen this summer, even if the influence is only evident on my blog and social media channels. I dug out my headbands for our trip to California; any of my sartorial crowns in summer hues made the cut. This is the classic example of minimal effort, high reward.

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Oh Shift!

It is no secret here, that I love Duffield Lane. Due to my obsession with the knit dresses (written about here and here), I wore them on the road trip from Philadelphia to Monterey. Also packed? This seersucker dress.

Did I break the rules and get a jump on wearing seersucker prior to Memorial Day 2019? Fact. Seersucker is a fabric which I relish wearing and four months a year is simply not long enough. With the recent turn in seasons on the east coast, I could not hold myself back. Oh, we are in for a seventy degree day you say? Excuse me while I steam out my Sinclair dress.

Duffield Lane does not release clothing in tall length (or petite length) sizing. Because the Sinclair dress is a classic silhouette, I think a shorter hemline is perfectly acceptable, especially with flats or a low block heel. (#proportions) However, rather than going with the size I ordered in the Sheffield dress or Spring Lake dress (medium, for reference), I went up a size (large in both the Sinclair dress and the Grand dress). Seersucker is a static fabric, typically devoid of stretch and it is less painful to get a dress taken in that having to skip out on dessert.

I said it. I meant it. I am not taking it back. Gimme dat ice cream.

The crochet trim at the front of the dress reminds me of what I love about classic Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses yet because it is such a classic shape and classic fabric, it just feels more appropriate for a woman of my age. What that age is? Mind your own beeswax.

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Pink and Be Merry

Duffield Lane is so freaking good right now. Granted that I am obsessed with their cold weather looks, but the brand just screams summer, joyously and jubilantly. A navy tipped dress, topped with a trench coat? It was an instant transitional weather classic, sure to be repeated throughout the season.

When I saw the Duffield Lane Pre-Spring line sheet, I was immediately drawn to the Spring Lake Dress. What exactly is so appealing you ask? I love the woven white collar detail. While it was available in solids and a palm frond print, I found the stripe to be the most wearable for right this very minute. Since I also ordered the Sheffield Dress (last seen here) and it is only available in navy, I opted for the Spring Lake Dress in the orchid colorway.

My numerical size is a ten and thanks to the insight of the Duffield Lane staff, I opted for a medium. Even though I am teetering towards my heavier side (and I have no shame in that as my life has been very focused on two projects at work and I just have not had capacity to make it to the gym for several weeks), I foresee having a ton of time on my hands in the next four months and therefore more time to refocus on my health.

The cut of the Spring Lake Dress varies from the Sheffield Dress as it is a bit roomier in the bottom half. Real talk: as someone who carries weight in her thighs, the cut provides ample room and avoids clinging to the stems. Ladies, if you also are a pear, then this is the dress for you.

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Skirt Report

Upon news of the collaboration between Vineyard Vines and Target, I was inspired to break out one of my Vineyard Vines skirts (last seen here). While I have a few Vineyard Vines printed skirts perfectly suited for warmer weather, this navy and black striped one is ideal for the colder months. Despite what anyone had to say about the upcoming collaboration, there is nothing like it to increase brand awareness and create buzz.

Further outfit inspiration came from Eric of yesterday’s Style Survey. Discussing style with Eric made me want to incorporate more menswear into my outfits. Not only did I “borrow” one of my husband’s Brooks Brothers button downs which I have been known to “borrow” time and time again, but I took it a step further. I love the Repp stripe and on the way out of the apartment, I grabbed one of my husband’s ties.

I admit that this is not an everyday outfit. The skirt and the shirt and the slingbacks? Yes. I would wear that combination everyday because I cannot say no to a men’s button down or an a-line skirt or a pair of comfortable heels. The tie is where I went a bit over the top. I am constantly looking for a way the Repp stripe into my outfits. While I have a silk tie fabric belt that I incorporate into my outfits whenever possible, I could use it in more colorways other than the navy and red as it coordinates with a limited number of outfits.

Is this lewk Gordon Gekko? Annie Hall? Avril Lavigne? Britney Spears circa Hit Me Baby One More Time? Walk of shame?

Does it matter?

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Velvet Score

A few years ago, J.Crew’s tall assortment put this year’s to shame. It did not help that the collections from 2008 to 2013 were chock full with my favorite styles, fabrics, and colors: hacking jackets, tipped blazers, tweed sets, matchstick pants in 36 inch inseams…herringbone, madras, seersucker, corduroy…acid brights, pastels, jewel tones. I stand by those years being under the golden influence of Jenna Lyons.

Back then you could get a velvet, tweed, corduroy, or wool blazer in tall and in a variety of colors. I am glad I took advantage – orange hacking jacket, the wool schoolboy blazer in pearl gray, navy, cobalt, and cherry red, pink tweed skirt suit – and my only regret was not adding more to my collection.

I do not love that the Parke blazer succeeded the Rhodes blazer, which succeeded the Schoolboy blazer. The closest thing left is the Legacy blazer and it is unfortunately not available in tall. The Parke blazer is a paired down, minimalistic blazer and it just is not as extra as one could hope. One neutral button replaced the two brass buttons. The third small pocket is wiped from the blazer. I was not even impressed with the lining; rolling up the cuff any one in my collection of blazers exposes a perfectly preppy striped lining.

This past year is the first year in series of a few that any non-suit blazer was available in tall; albeit not in my favorite cut. I got over it and ordered the Parke in the most vivid color available. An acid shade of mustard yellow this blazer is not, but desperate times call for desperate measures and this muted rose shade will have to do until J.Crew gets it’s balls back.

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Wavy Navy

All too often I forget that standard length clothing brands can work on a taller frame. I do not pay attention to brands that cater to different lengths enough. This year I set out on being more open minded when it comes to trying new brands and new styles.

I decided to try Duffield Lane. The brand sent me two dresses. The verdict? I should have shopped there earlier. This first dress is called the Sheffield and I was sold on the white trim on the wavy hem and the three quarters sleeves. (Also, it is available in mini me versions.) Though it was the shorter of two dresses, I did not find it especially revealing especially for the forthcoming warmer spring weather. The fabric is stretchy, but certainly not flimsy or as thick as ponte knit.

With shorter dresses, I tend to wear a flat shoe. It is the oldest proportion trick in the book and conversely why I always wear heels with pencil skirts and other long hemline skirts and dresses. Typically, I would wear the Sheffield dress with a pair of Jack Rogers or my navy Tory Burch Minnie flats, but I went with my lower height navy wedges.

Second to the Sheffield dress is my trench coat. This is an item that I could not sacrifice length. Before finding a trench coat that was made in tall, I just never loved any style that I tried. While my trench coat is no longer available in tall, several other trench coats including three tall ones. You are welcome.

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Old Books and a Vintage Look

Old City Philadephia is home to my favorite vintage stores. Primarily known for being the gallery district in the city, it is also home to several goldmines when it comes to thrift shopping. Shopping the secondary market is something in which I have been engaging more often, as it is a sustainable practice, especially when it is from a local outpost rather than an online source. For the past few weekends, whenever I am in the area, I inevitably drag my husband into any store which has a secondhand rack. Count me in for any vintage frock from a classic label.

I bought this dress from Meadowsweet (47 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106) several weeks ago. It is a Brooks Brothers and from the looks of it, I would guess it was released circa 1982. Though the snaps and hook and eye closures were in less than perfect condition, those were easy enough to reinforce and more importantly, the pleats were in pristine condition. I was instantly smitten and at 72 dollars, can you blame me? Like my vintage concert tee shirt collection, this dress was instantly one of the most priceless items in my closet.

Just down the street from Meadowsweet is a two story bookstore, The Book Trader (7 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106). It is a secondhand bookstore and to say it is epic would be an understatement. I have left there with some amazing finds, my favorite being a coffee table book on contemporary art. Whenever we have guests in town, we always make sure to bring them to this two story bookworm gift from above. Two weekends ago, my husband and I happened to wander into a previously undiscovered room on the second floor that housed a collection of records that rival my father’s collection. And that my friends, is an extensive collection.

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Good Girl Gone Plaid

I am always baffled at how late Philadelphia restaurants open for brunch. Cut to nearly three years ago and our first Sunday in this city. My husband and I wandered our neighborhood during the 9 am hour, during which I opted to get a manicure as the nearby nail salon opened prior to any bruncheries.

Having lived in Washington DC proper for eight years, I was accustomed to restaurants opening extra early. Let’s blame it on the maximizing-your-time-Type-A District culture. Saturdays and Sundays during those years consisted of an early spin and/or yoga class – love a back-to-back – followed by eggs and mimosas.

All of this is to preface that I was shocked at how late the restaurant where we brunched  last Saturday opened. It was only second to how shocked I was in regards to how cold it was. So much so, that when we went shopping at CVS – mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, makeup wipes, candle, you know the necessities – we waited until about three minutes until the restaurant was to open, only to arrive before it opened. Luckily there was a store next door that was opened. Unfortunately it was a sex shop. Desperate times.

A pair of tights would have been a good call. To break down the rest of the outfit, the coat came in tall, albeit eight years ago (linking a similar one, below). It has held up well and the style is a classic. I look forward to wearing it for years to come. The lace top (last seen here and here) is marked down with an additional percentage off and is available in tall and several colors.

This skirt is everything. It is tartan but does not scream holiday. Even though it is not available in tall, it does not have to be because the hemline is a modest one. Since there is so much fabric to the skirt, much like a pleated one I wore late last year and last week, going down a few sizes looks more flattering than my usual size.

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Marooned

My husband and I took a tour of the Lord Baltimore Hotel with the Director of Sales last week. I love any insight I can get into historic architecture and being granted the opportunity to look at elements that are not necessarily open to the public.

Did you know that this hotel is owned by Mera and Don Rubell? This couple are well-known art collectors and their passion shines via the art in the hotel. (Fun fact: Don Rubell is also the brother of the late iconic nightclub owner Steve Rubell. Yes, the very same Steve Rubell of Studio 54 notariety who was later portrayed on the big screen by Mike Myers.) Even though they own this Baltimore property, they split the majority of their time between New York City and Miami. The latter of which is home to the Rubell Family Collection / Contemporary Arts Foundation.

In the Lord Baltimore Hotel, a series of solid painted canvases in an array of colors were a standout. Initially I only noticed red and the yellow painted squares but as soon as they were on my radar, I started seeing them everywhere and in different colors and square dimensions.

This art inspired me to reflect upon my introductory graduate course in historic preservation. There is a debate within the field regarding objects within historic structures which are not necessarily original to the building. In an historic house museum, for example, should the stewards seek to replace original objects that were once part of the larger material culture experience? Or would it be confusing?

On that note, I appreciated that the paintings did not take away from the historic interiors. It was clear that the paintings were of the contemporary variety, so the context of the art within the architecture would not cause confusion. It was crystal clear that the paintings were not original to the Jazz Age hotel, and yet they were subtle enough not to disrupt the historic interior.

When Jamie and I found that we (the lining of his pants, my socks and shirt) matched the maroon square, we were clearly into it.

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Pleats on the Street

Last weekend was spent in Baltimore where my husband and I stayed at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Regardless of the purpose, any trip to Charm City must include catch up time with my bestie from graduate school, Jamie. As is always the case, we indulged. This weekend it was copious craft cocktails, brunch, and Italian food. Also scampering around downtown and architecture-peeping.

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Have I already worn this sweater? Yes. Have I already worn this skirt? Of course. Although the marketing image showed them paired together, I had never worn them together before this day.

Sidebar: I typically do not recreate brand-envisioned outfits as I find it to be lazy and uncreative. This habit goes way back. Growing up, if my mom treated me to shopping, I always picked out something that could mix with copious items already in my closet. Low bill, high reward.

Expect to see both pieces make future appearances on the blog because they are phenomenal. My 2018 obsession for finding the perfect tennis sweater is no secret (I blame Charlotte York) and I just love a skirt in which I can go down two waist sizes.

As for Jamie’s ensemble, IDK. He is always the best dressed man in the room and this is one of my favorite outfits on him, down to the hot dog socks and tassel loafers.

dsc04574dsc04585sI am a sucker for a historic hotel and the Lord Baltimore Hotel was no exception. The pair of revolving doors on the side entrance are original to the 1928 hotel. Throughout the weekend, every time I passed through them, I reflected on how many people before me walked through them. The hotel has been open for over ninety years – it just celebrated its anniversary – and there were 700 guestrooms (now over 400). That is a lot of door rotations.

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Windowpane Crush

On a recent unseasonably warm Sunday morning, my husband and I took a walk around Independence Mall. With our days in Philadelphia numbered (I officially, albeit regrettably, put in my two month notice two weeks ago), it has become all the more a priority for us to savor every last minute we have in this city.

Often it is forgotten that Philadelphia was the OG capitol of the United States. Only three centuries ago was this area bustling with brilliant ideas. One of my favorite classes in undergrad, taken during my last semester, was The Early American Republic. (Shoutout Dr. Haley!) I feel lucky – and to be honest I know I take for granted – that I so easily can walk down the street and stand within the vicinity of where so many visionaries who shaped the modern government of the United States several centuries prior.

About the outfit…

The jacket and the skirt do not come in tall, but even though the latter is mini length, it does not feel especially short. I was wearing it high on my waist and it still felt appropriate and comfortable for warm winter daytime. The jacket has a massive pleat in the back that contributes to a swingy silhouette. The cropped length and the cut reminded me of 1960s Britain, especially when paired with a short skirt and ankle boots.

The sweater is cashmere, it was available in tall, and it is everything. While it is available now, it is not longer available in tall. (Sidebar, I got your covered. Peep the tall cashmere here.) Thank sweet baby Jesus, I bought it in three colors back when it was available in my size.

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On a serious note, as I am writing this, the Federal government has been shuttered for fifteen days. That is fifteen days too long. It makes me sick. It makes me sick that so many people whom I worked with and learned from while I interned at the National Parks Service circa 2009 are on furlough. It makes me sick that my best friend from elementary school is preparing budgets for our nation’s Navy and in doing so working without pay. All of this was highlighted by the copious signs around Independence Mall, notifying would-be patrons that facilities are closed. Tourists walking on disappointed, from cultural resource to cultural resource.

We are better than this.

America is better than this.

In 2020 we will make the decision to collectively be better than this.

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Stay Fair Isle Longer

Y’all last Saturday in Philadelphia was freezing. Philadelphia phreezing. Filiadelphia freezing? Let’s just say it was epically cold. I had an appointment in Center City early in the am and by early I mean, 9:30.

The week prior was especially tough. Monday I had a meeting with a potential client on site and thanks to a shower of wintry mix, I scooted out of work earlier than I wanted to. This collectively cut out four hours of time in which I could have been working on deliverables. I was at the office for a solid ten hours on Tuesday only to be outdone by thirteen hours on Wednesday. Cut to the eight o’ clock hour that night, two hours after my last mug of coffee, I ran out of steam and had to leave work. And apparently I did not set my alarm that night because I overslept on Thursday morning and did not make it in until nine am. As I keep the six-to-seven to three-to-four schedule, I was starting late. Since I started so late, I ended late, at seven. I capped off the week of insanity by an eight-thirty to five-thirty.

Shall we never do that again? Me thinks yes.

Let’s break down the outfit. After my hellish weekend, it had to be easy. Count me in for any fair isle sweater. Count me in for both colorways if it is available in tall, which this one is. Now that it is marked down to $22, get yourself on board. Every time I wear it, I am pleasantly surprised as how toasty it keeps me. Completely necessary when you opt for a bare legged look.

As for the skirt, it is available in tall and out of the four original colors of which it was initially offered, there are three colors left. Two of which I added to my closet. Right now the skirt is yours for $79 with an additional percentage reduction. Act now, y’all!

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