The Women Card-igan

Like every other red blooded basic white woman, I am amped af for autumn. The first leaf falling prompts a purchase of a pumpkin spice latte and a cable cashmere cardigan. Though the seasonal drink was released at the end of August, the idea of a hot PSL (iced PSLs are blasphemy!) in 95 degree weather is enough to make me feel nauseous, as is the idea of sweating in cashmere.

Autumn never lasts long enough. I love that in-between weather that does not necessitate a coat. Give me cardigan weather any day. Fingers crossed that this season arrives early and leaves late.

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Bow Way, Bow How

Though many associate the bow neck trend with the current first lady’s bright pink Gucci blouse of choice for an October 2016 presidential debate, my mind goes to a different time frame.

The year 2000. A different presidential election with much more {relatively} palatable candidates, George W. Bush versus Al Gore, monopolized the headlines. Pop culture-wise, Charlie’s Angels starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore was a major trend driving force that autumn. To capitalize on the franchise revival, TV Land aired the OG series around the clock. I distinctly remember taking half of the day off of school after a dentist appointment and drifting off into the nap in the middle of a Charlie’s Angels marathon.

The costume designers outfitted the original girl power trinity, Farrah, Jaclyn, and Kate, in copious bow neck blouses. The trend can be traced back farther. I think the costume designer must have been inspired by Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ style as I have found historic photos of the iconic first lady in which she is wearing the trend.

Along with an updated razor-cut Farrah Fawcett-inspired feathered ‘do and the metal chain belt (DO YOU REMEMBER THE CHAIN BELT? ANYONE?! I distinctly recall the Banana Republic Factory Store that I worked at in high school carrying them and the guy who brought me to my Junior prom who also worked at BRFS encouraged me to purchase one, albeit I resisted.), the bow neck blouse was pushed on consumers during the autumn of 2000. It was in every magazine and in every store and there was nothing anyone could do to avoid it. Not that I did not like it! I remember advising a friend from high school to buy and wear a hot pink knit shirt adorned with a bow on a date.

Trends are cyclical and the bow blouse is officially back. Not that I ever cared about the trend being “out.” I still love the bow neck blouse so much that I purchased a 2009 Milly version off the secondary market circa 2016 and wore it all the damn time, including on the blog. Bow blouses are back and the ones below are proof.

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Thirty Minutes or Dress

I have never been there, but it is hotter than hell in Washington DC this summer. This is my eleventh summer in the District and I recall some toasty moments throughout the years.

2008: Wearing a black BCBG jersey dress to a job interview and working up such a sweat between the Metro and the office that I had to duck into the next door Barnes and Noble restroom and soak off the pool of sweat on my back with paper towels.

2010: Looking for a new apartment in the city. I did not have it in me to sweat it out on the sidewalks so I settled for a studio on the West End. I continued to live in the pad for six years because I could not bear the thought of having to apartment hunt or worse yet, move in the heat again.

2011: The sesquicentennial of the Civil War brought me to several battlefields for work events. After returning to the office from Manassas, I kept my office light off and made an iced peppermint tea. I do not think I left the office that evening until the sun went down.

2012: Wearing the jacquard dot J.Crew pencil skirt that Michelle Obama made famous and chafing like hell on my walk home from the office. By the end of my commute, my legs felt as thought they were in a straight jacket.

2015: My window air conditioning unit in the aforementioned West End studio quit. As it was the weekend, the property manager initially refused to fix it. As I am quite knowledgeable about DC landlord / tenant law, I knew that the property management company was obligated to fix it as the temperature exceeded 85 degrees. Email sent, unit replaced.

I wish I had not missed the spring window appropriate to wear these dresses. Right now, the DC climate is not conducive to anything with long sleeves. Give it a month, though, when the temperature cools and the District gets an onset of autumn and any one of these dresses can make a home in my closet.

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Tunic Time II

If you cannot live like a white wine swilling wealthy housewife, why not dress like one? I have said it before: dress for the job you want.

Along with caftans, tunics are the ideal article of clothing to keep cool on a roasty toasty day. They are perfect over swimsuits in between daytime dips in the pool or with a pair of white denim while sweating it out on the sidewalks. White wine goblet optional.

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Mellow Yellow

Though we technically moved back to DC at the end of June, between finding an apartment (and within a mere two business days!), moving our stuff out of storage, unpacking, and going on vacation, we had not prioritized anything other than nesting the new flat. Last weekend before a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond, we made time for brunch. Any occasion is the right occasion for Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown. Ironically, I have been on numerous occasions with different friends and family, but before Saturday, never my husband. It is a buffet brunch so an outfit without a static waistband is crucial. Never forget the time I wore skinny jeans to Farmers Fishers Bakers brunch.

I scored this fantastic vintage Lilly Pulitzer frock via eBay back in June. Thanks to the tag, I dated this dress to the 1960s. Vintage Lilly Pulitzer has been my style obsession of this past spring and current summer (see here and here and here and here) and though I am still attempting to decrease my shopping and keeping a discerning eye on my consumption, secondhand shopping is my weakness because with it comes a feeling of scarcity.

When I buy a vintage item, I cannot help but wonder about its provenance. Not whether or not it is actually vintage; I know my Lilly Pulitzer labels well enough to determine an item’s approximate age. Rather, I think about the woman or women who owned it before me. Who was she? Where did the former owner wear it? Did any formative events happen to her while wearing it? More importantly, did she accessorize it with a gin martini?

I love the a-line cut of this dress because these days, I am quite the pear shape. Elevating the comfort of this dress, especially during the dog days of summer, are the dual vents on either side. Not only do they make the dress roomier, but this feature of the design make it quite the ventilation system.

I linked several yellow vintage Lilly Pulitzer dresses below. As always, exercise diligence when it comes to sizing (I always ask for measurements, if they are not posted) and item condition.

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Sideways

While Jamie and I were in Palm Springs, I found the most fantastic vintage store adjacent to the place we had Sunday brunch. The Frippery is a vintage lover’s gold mine.

Post-brunch, I dragged Jamie and my maid of honor who was also in Palm Springs, in the store. While Jamie went out on a mission for cold brew, Amanda graciously waited for me to seemingly try on dress after dress, giving me the honest feedback. In addition to scoring a dress, Amanda discovered several concert buttons circa the 1980s: Adam and the Ants, The Cars, The Clash, and the Stray Cats. (The latter reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Informers mom character wondering what a stray cat was.)

About the dress: I do not know the brand and I do not care. The acid color fever dream of the print was enough to sell me. I love that it is cut generously though the midsection. I know what you are thinking and before you say it: It is not a maternity dress. I carefully inspected the cut and can confirm that there is not extra fabric at the stomach; it is simply a trapeze cut dress.

After Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Atascadero, and Monterey, Jamie and I concluded our friendship roadtrip in Napa.

My husband and I are members of several wineries but our favorite is Gundlach Bundschu; we even celebrated our engagement weekend there. After the friendship roadship wine tasting, we wandered the grounds. Though my husband and I used to visit all the time, it occurred to me that we had only been there in the winter. Running from the car to the tasting room without considering walking the grounds was standard. This time, we walked the grounds and am kicking myself that we had not explored it sooner.

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Toile Spill

I have noticed an uptick of styles offered in toile (pronounced: twall) fabric. This inspired me to research the pattern. Toile is the {typically} blue illustrations on white or off-white background. From Fabric Museum (www.fabricmuseum.org):

Toiles — printed fabrics of historical or pastoral scenes — are once again popular in home decorating, just as they have been, on and off, for two hundred and fifty years.
First produced in Ireland in the 1750’s, they spread quickly to England and then to France, where they became known as toiles de Jouy. (Toile is French for cloth and Jouy was the factory in Versailles where they were manufactured, becoming the favorite fabric of Marie Antoinette.)

By the 19th century, roller printing replaced copperplate printing and Americans began producing their own toiles, based mainly on eighteenth century European designs. Present-day toiles also follow classic patterns.

But in the twentieth century, designers were inspired by a unique American vision, creating fabrics that retold our history and our simple pleasures (or at least our yearning for them).

Not surprisingly, toiles were especially popular during the Colonial Era in the United States and are particularly associated with preserved towns and historical areas. The historic nature of toile makes it a total classic in my eyes, ranking the pattern among seersucker, madras, tartans, and gingham.

Since toile has landed on my radar within the past three weeks, I have found dresses, skirts, tops, and pants in the pattern at a variety of price points, ranging from the relatively modest to four figures.

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Frock Star

Did anyone else catch this particular Lilly Pulitzer dress showing up on their Instagram feed on more than one lady’s Easter post? No doubt it is a great dress, so great in fact, that I purchased the Goop version of the style just last year and when the collection went on markdown. Luckily the general public’s aversion to Gwyneth Paltrow and Gwyneth Paltrow-related product kept the dress from getting too popular.

At the end of April, I discussed my own growing aversion to matching all of the gals sporting Lilly Pulitzer on my own Instagram feed. {No doubt that they all look adorable; I just feel resistance to looking like everyone else employing #resort365.} Only after I drafted this post discussing my reservations did my awareness hit an apex over Easter with the Maisie dress.

It was perfect timing because I had just shopped eBay like a mad woman and stocked up on vintage Lilly Pulitzer. Stocking up may be a bit of an understatement, actually. More like, I cleared out shift dresses in my size. Five shift dresses later and I satiated my need to not only go shopping and sustainably so, but also updating up my Lilly Pulitzer supply sans looking like everyone else.

Pro tip: when it comes to the Lilly styles from the 1960s and 1970s, go up a number size; this is especially crucial when shopping the online secondary market because oftentimes returns are not accepted.

Can we talk about the design of the dress? It is unlike anything that the brand currently carries. I am living for the fact that the hemline is longer yet it is still a shift dress. Rather than feeling constricted in the bottom half of the dress, the side slits provide ample room to move, walk, run. It is the perfect dress for someone who is a pear like myself. Cut to me scouring the secondary market for more.

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Frock You!

As mentioned in my Shopping Moratorium four weeks ago, I starting poking around on eBay for vintage pieces in my favorite preppy brands: Lilly Pulitzer, J.Crew, Vineyard Vines (or at least as vintage as I could get as it is barely twenty years old), and Brooks Brothers. Ever since I found the best Brooks Brothers dress from the 1980s via my favorite Philadelphia vintage store, I have been addicted to finding my next vintage frock. Compound that with the fact that I started noticing many people that I follow on Instagram wearing the same Lilly Pulitzer style. I am not ready to give up on one of my favorite brands yet, I do not want to wear what seemingly everyone else is wearing either.

Cut to me going on an eBay shopping spree for vintage Lilly Pulitzer. Shopping the secondary market embodies the quadruple bottom line. The prices, at least for this brand, tend to be lower. Shopping secondhand has social and environmental benefits as it keeps garments out of landfills and does not create sweatshop demand. Call it inspiration from the last sustainability documentary I watched. Lastly, I happen to love the vintage aesthetic, whether it be the period of the 1960s or 1990s.

The dress is secondhand Lilly Pulitzer and judging from the tag, likely from the 1990s. I will take a pass on the flannels and the chokers; this is the 90s revival that I can get behind. I bought the Gemma Redux (an aughts jewelry brand that has since sadly shuttered) earrings and Lilly Pulitzer bangles from eBay, too.

The sunglasses, watch, flats, and coat is still available and is linked below. Both the stone and navy versions of the coat come in tall. As for the dress, I link similar Lilly Pulitzer patchwork dresses. Bid on, y’all!

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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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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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