Sunday, April 28, 2013

Style Sunday: Spring 2013 Capsule Wardrobe

It feels odd to be talking about what I plan to wear throughout the spring when it's the last few days of April... So late! Oh well... We did have a colder than average spring so far. It's a shame because spring is my favorite season. (In fact, my azuelas that are usually in full bloom for my April 15th birthday are just starting to think about blooming now. It just isn't spring in Maryland until the azuelas bushes bloom.)

I wanted to cultivate a capsule wardrobe because I'm interested in only owning what I need, love and actually use. I like the idea of narrowing your wardrobe to a limited number of select pieces. Being choosy and only using your best means you can always look fabulous. Furthermore, my closet would truly reflect me, just as the rest of my apartment does. I feel that you can't even see and appreciate your beautiful clothes in a packed "American" closet, let alone choose what you want to wear in the morning with delight and ease.

Those who create capsule wardrobes tend to just have ten items in them. This usually does not include t-shirts, tank tops, camisoles, accessories, outerwear, special occasion dresses, things like that. Without a washer and dryer inside my home as well as having two jobs and a life, ten simply would not work. I narrowed it down to 32 items. This would give me enough clothing to wear to my workplaces, patronize my favorite coffee shop, meet with friends, daytrip, date, and otherwise live my life while only doing laundry once every seven to ten days.

While I am fully content with my decisions, I hope that readers are not overly offended that I'm calling a 32-item wardrobe a 'capsule' one. Geez, I guess I can't call it my ten-item wardrobe! I suppose I could call it a small wardrobe, but I simply prefer to say that I'm employing a capsule wardrobe. Most things do work together well and I made a decision on each item I own with the bigger picture in mind. Of my two bedroom closets, I only fill half of one with my capsule wardrobe, with space in between each hanger. I did recently receive some clothes for my springtime birthday so this particular season's wardrobe may be slightly bigger than usual because I can hardly wait to wear my new pieces! Brand new clothes is unusual for me on my shoestring budget. With so many work hours during March, a bit before and after too, my winter-like early spring clothing consisted of many pairs of black pants and three pairs of dark blue bootcut jeans, far fewer pieces than my real spring one. So, I am ready for more variety. With further ado, I am delighted to share my spring options...

Michelle's Capsule Wardrobe:

1. white wrap short sleeve top by Banana Republic Factory Store

2. white short sleeve shirt from Ann Taylor

3. white 3/4 sleeve shirt from New York & Company

4. dark pink sleeveless tank with vertical, central pleats from Ann Taylor Factory Store (ATFS)

5. printed pink short sleeve wrap top from ATFS

6. vibrant pink short sleeve shirt with pockets from New York & Company

7. white short sleeve shirt with lavender vertical stripes from Ann Taylor

8. cobalt blue sleeveless top with scalloped design from ATFS

9. blue ruffled neckline sleeveless shirt from ATFS

10. charcoal gray and white stripe short sleeve shirt rom The Limited

11. green and white printed short sleeve top from Ann Taylor LOFT

12. black lace cross-over sleeveless top from ATFS

13. black sleeveless top with sheer scalloped design from ATFS

14. black short sleeve top with extra fabric on v-neck and at waist from ATFS

15. black tailored top with sheer short sleeves and attached scarf from White House Black Market

16. black sheer v-neck short sleeve top with extra fabric around waist from JCPenney

17. dark gray pants from ATFS

18. black slim ankle pants from New York & Company

19. black bootcut pants from ATFS

20. dark blue bootcut jeans from ATFS

21. dark blue Levi's bootcut 515 jeans from Kohl's
     (to be replaced by dark blue Levi's 515 jean capris with the bottoms folded up once from Macy's when it is warmer)

22. dark blue Levi's jean capris from JCPenney

23. white capris with vertical line texture by Bandolino Blu from Macy's

24. black dress capris with vertical line texture from The Limited

25. dark blue knee-length jean skirt by Liz Claiborne from JCPenney

26. white eyelet A-line skirt from ATFS

27. ivory and blue printed pencil skirt from ATFS

28. black and white printed pleated skirt by INC from Macy's

29. black and white printed full skirt from The Limited

30. black pencil skirt by Banana Republic from a thrift shop called Second Time Around (Philadelphia)

31. black flirty skirt from The Limited

32. black wrap dress from Ann Taylor

That's 16 tops, 15 bottoms and 1 dress. I am very happy with what I have. A lot of black and white clothing hang on my hangers, which I accessorize with pops of color. I list a lot of skirts, seven in fact. That's something fairly new. I want to wear them more often and embrace my femininity. Maybe it'll be more skirts for the spring, but dresses during summertime?

This is my closet with the aforementioned capsule wardrobe
along with some of the extras listed below...
The shirts are organized by color and all clothing is hung on matching black slimline hangers.

(I tried to take pictures of single pieces and outfits, but I didn't like how they were turning out. Maybe later.)
Additionally, I have extras, but I did not go overboard there either. I have...

- lots of camisoles (including many white ones from Kohl's and beautiful ones from White House Black Market among others)

- 3 3/4 sleeve cardigans (black, ivory, reddish pink)

- 2 suit jackets (one black from The Limited and one charcoal gray from ATFS), jackets/blazers, trenches

- 13 scarves (recently decluttered, 15 total including 2 for winter, a very low number for me)

- lots of shoes and sandals (...and I only want more!)

- lots of jewelry (I at least wear a pair of earrings and my one watch daily.)

- 3 pairs of sunglasses

- 3 belts (1 black skinny for smallest part of waist from White House Black Market, 1 black wide for smallest part of waist from The Limited, and 1 everyday black/brown reversible to go through belt loops from Target)

- 1 new wine-colored everyday handbag by Coach as well as several clutches for evening

- 9 tees:

     1. white scoop neck tee from ATFS

     2. white v-neck 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from H&M

     3. white cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from Target

     4. Aegean blue tee with a few horizontal pleats below the neckline from Ann Taylor

     5. navy cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from Target

     6. navy boatneck 3/4 sleeve t-shirt with white horizontal stripes (my Parisian top!)

     7. black scoop neck tee from ATFS

     8. black v-neck tee from Target

     9. black cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from Target

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I love Pinterest

This is my 800th pin...

I found this on the blog The Simply Luxurious Life.
Apparently, it's a Parisian home.
I love the old-fashioned details like the floors, moldings, windows, the white
and of course the crystal chandelier.

This image also spoke to me...

I enjoy dining al fresco
...and in an European setting.
I repinned this Friday evening. It inspired daydreaming to help me better get through a 13 work hour day.

I invite you to follow me on Pinterest...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fresh Flowers: A Gift from a Friend

I had Kate from Une Vie Chic over on Saturday night and she gave me a bouquet of flowers.

Aren't they beautiful? I love them. I think she was a tiny bit disappointed that I already had my pink and white tulip arrangement in my apartment, but I told her that it shows that her gift is perfect as I adore fresh flowers and to have that beauty in my home. The more the merrier! Thank you, Kate!

I must start getting ready for work right now, but I want to hint that my upcoming blog posts will be about: my evening with Kate, not seeing the cherry blossoms in DC with her too, an update about my membership, my spring capsule wardrobe, book reviews, and if I ever get around to it, a post about what motivates me to keep my home tidy. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Style Sunday: Shopping Spree

I am delighted to share the pieces I scored on my birthday shopping spree. All are from Ann Taylor Factory Store.

The same top in cobalt (not turquoise) and black.
Note the lovely scalloped design on the sheer part.
Very flattering, the shoulder comes out a bit, balancing out my hip on my hourglass figure nicely.
I found them on the clearance racks.

A refined ivory and blue print pencil skirt and a blue shirt to go with it.
While I do have muscular thighs, the print seems to help create a long and lean line.
The ruffles on the top are so not my style but they do balance my hips...

Another shot of my beautiful skirt.

A white eyelet A-line skirt, which is so flattering.
I cannot wait to wear it on dates!
Any color top would go, but I prefer a black top
with bright or metallic accessories.

Skirt detail.
What's more perfect for summer than white eyelet?

Two scoop neck tees in black and white
plus a pair of black bootcut pants that are already hemmed to perfection for my ballet flats.
The pants were off the clearance racks too.
I like rich neutrals like black and white (or chocolate brown) 
that I can pair with pops of color in the form of accessories.
Very few pastels or even medium tones for me.

I should wear skirts and dresses even more now and embrace my femininity.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fresh Flowers and Have a Beautiful Weekend!

I adore fresh flowers in my home. I picked up two small bouquets of tulips, one dark pink, the other white, on sale at the grocery store this morning. This is my arrangement today...

I have them on my coffee table at the moment,
adjacent to two stacks of books and little things and opposite a pink Murano glass sculpture.

I have the day off today, a sunny Saturday, and it's been lovely. I'm looking forward to my plans this evening. More on that later. For now, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16th: My Birthday Continued

I started off my day as usual, with a couple little cups of caffรจ (espresso). I selected my Caffe Vittoria espresso cup and saucer from Boston this morning as a small commemoration of the recent tradegy.

I only managed to do a single load of laundry today. Will have to do more tomorrow! That means more time with my family's very cute 8-week-old puppy named Minnie. She is still exploring her new home at this point, though a bit timidly. She loves tummy rubs so far, simply can't get enough...

May I introduce ...Minnie...

It was difficult to try to get her to stop moving for a proper portrait.
It looks like she getting ready to roll on her back for a tummy rub here.

Enjoying a tummy rub. Classic.

My mom and I visited the clothing store where my sister works as she generously donated a $40 reward card to me. I got to try on armloads of clothing which is something I hardly ever do, ever tempt myself with! My mom (and sister) bought me eight fabulous items; that's also something I hardly ever do. You see, I can barely afford walking out of a store with one item. I plan to share these birthday purchases on my next Style Sunday post. I truly needed new clothes and I love these pieces. After our shopping spree, the two of us had lunch at the fanciest restaurant in town.

I wore one of my new tops to a wine tasting. Both my friend E and I opted for the flight of red, with our Italian feast since they gave us a few ounces in each of the three glasses! We both favored the same one, a wine very similar to what I regularly drank when I lived in Italy, a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Wining and dining was fabulous. Since Pier 1 was a block away and we seem to often stop there during our semiannual outings, we checked it out. Unfortunately, I didn't see those dining cushions I found online in stock. Back at my place, I showed off my new clothing to her before she left; both of us vowing to get together more at her departure, hopefully when my part-time work environment calms down...

I truly splurged and bought myself a new everyday handbag, treating myself pretty well at the time of my birthday. Seeing it in Macy's once months and months ago, I actually recently bought it on eBay. I've been carrying it around for several days now and love it. I like the look on the outside and its organization on the inside.

Coach Chelsea Patent Leather Jayden Carryall in Wine
When you look closely, there's shimmer.
It also features a silver hardware and a light-colored interior fabric.

This is my second Coach handbag.
I believe my mom bought me my first one around 2003, so a decade ago now and it still looks great!
I highly recommend this brand as it's built to last.
This one is a welcome change from my black fabric one with the signature C all over it.

Again, I just love it!

So, my two-day 29th birthday was a fantastic one, both relaxing and fun, just what I needed at this time! Perfect. Perfetto.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Birthday Celebration

Today is my birthday and I had a such a great day!

I started the day reading a book and enjoying a cappuccino and chocolate pastry at my favorite coffee shop. I followed this up with an even more relaxing experience, a professional pedicure. It turned out really well with my favorite nail lacquer, OPI California Raspberry. Next, I enjoyed a picnic/antipasti lunch at home, complete with tomatoes, cheese, proscuitto, bread, olive oil and a glass of Chianti. The tomatoes were delicious for it being mid-April...

My afternoon was low key and I continued to relax, so very content, until I was shook up with the news about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. I celebrated my birthday in Boston just last year. (Read all about it here.) I explored the city that I'd been wanting to visit for years the weekend before the race on Monday, April 16, 2012. Back then, I remember thinking that I wouldn't mind celebrating another birthday in Boston. My friends and I enjoyed lovely weather, spring events started that very weekend, and the Boston Marathon (also known as Patriot Day there) was such a positive event. We saw many runners from all over. Crowds everywhere too. I wish to express my sincerest sympathies to all those directly affected, their families, their loved ones ...even those who were not able to finish the race, fulfill that dream. This violence saddens me.

Anyway, I prepared my pasta specialty (penne pasta in tomato sauce with assorted sauteed vegetables) for dinner, which was accompanied by more antipasti and red wine. After cleaning up, my friend B called and we caught up. A couple girlfriends briefly came over and we enjoyed some birthday cake while watching my favorite show, How I Met Your Mother. The episode even had a major Italy reference. I love cake and it was so delicious, chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

I want to thank all of those who wished me a happy birthday. I was sent wishes throughout the day through so many ways person, by facebook message or wall post, by text, by email, by blog comment, by phone, by mail. From friends near and far (Greece; Italy; Portland, OR;...). Even though I spent much of my special day, a workday Monday, alone, I feel loved.

With the day being a bit gloomy in drizzle and cloudy skies and in the terror event, I've decided to officially extend my birthday through tomorrow. Tomorrow's weather forecast is like 76 degrees and sunny. Plus, the celebrations continue! I have plans for a small shopping spree and a lunch out with my mom during the day and a wine tasting and dinner at an Italian restaurant with my friend E during the evening. Before all that, I'll do some laundry at my parents' while meeting and bonding with their new puppy, a terrier/beagle mix named Minnie. I love dogs.

I will continue to update on my now-extended birthday and the rest of my vacation. Also, stay tuned to find out the big birthday gift I gave to myself...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Style Sunday: Ankle Pants and Dining Cushions

Back in this post, I expressed my curiosity with ankle pants. I tried them on Monday morning and liked enough to purchase a pair of black dressy ones from New York & Company.

I do have muscular legs, but the silhouette isn't bad... even in the slim style. For being average height, my legs are on the shorter side, so I have to make these work for me. While picking up my winter coat at my dry cleaner/tailor's tomorrow, I will ask for her to take them up a bit so they hit me just above my ankle instead of at my ankle, nearly gracing my feet. Generally, the length is versatile for any shoe. I was wearing my black leather ballet flats (with a very small heel) in the dressing room and they paired nicely. ...and I like a pointed-toe pump even better. I will have to try on more tops with them to decide what looks best. Overall, I feel a bit trendy and polished yet comfortable and casual in my ankle pants.

I showed you my new balcony chairs in my last Style Sunday post. Tuesday night, I wandered onto the Pier 1 Imports website and found these cushions...

I adore the quatrefoil and this similiar Moorish pattern. My living room rug and bedroom duvet both feature this particular design. I wonder how this lattice print would look on my floral chairs and how the square cushion would look on my round seats... Plus, I love the colors. Very bright and fun for enjoyable evenings on my balcony. I should check them out in store...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What I'm Reading

This is my small stack of books to savor during my vacation days next week. (Believe it or not, I have four days off (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!) from both jobs, starting with my birthday on Monday. (This time off follows a 34 work hour weekend (Friday through Sunday) but oh well.)) 

I purchased these on Amazon. I typically splurge on books at my birthday. Don't you just love books from Amazon?

The top one is a novel set in Paris that I don't want to set down but, on the other hand, want to read during my vacation. It's called Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz.

The middle selection is Italy travel narrative, my favorite! It's entitled Saints and Soccer Balls: My Seasons in Italy by Clare Fleishman. It promises to reveal the real Italy beyond the stereotypes. I'm thinking it will inspire future blog posts.

The bottom book is Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in The Je Ne Sais Quoi by Olivier Magny. Maybe I can be cool in Paris next April...

I also have the following still left on my wishlist...

Chanel, Set of 3 by Francois Baudot. The coffee table book (set) that I've previously blogged about.

Audrey in Rome by Luca Dotti, Ludovica Damiani and Sciascia Gambaccini. Another coffee table book that documents Audrey Hepburn's 20 years in Rome. Luca Dotti is actually her son. This is to be released on April 16th.

The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti. I own and love another book by this author called Big Night In. I love to prepare the olive oil-roasted potatoes side dish from this cookbook and look forward to perusing this other one.

I also have two titles on my queue at the library...

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist. It's a collection of short stories about mealtime... making it an event, sharing it with others. This book was released today.

The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy. This former Brat Pack member travels, sometimes on quite the adventure, to try and comprehend why he can't tie the knot. I devour travel writing and didn't realize that he was a travel writer as well...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Style Sunday: New Balcony Chairs

I love my balcony. Unwinding there after work with a glass of red wine is nice. I needed new chairs for it since one broke last year and it's getting warmer now. So, immediately after work last night, I picked up two metal chairs from an antique shop in the next town.

Flower detail

Aren't they lovely?

Luckily, I scored them for cheap because I would like to refinish them. Green simply isn't my color. Maybe spray paint them the brown black of my bistro table and chair. I haven't looked how to do this online yet. Any suggestions, dear readers?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Discovering a New Place

I've been in search of a independently-owned local coffee shop lately ...and I'm excited (and a bit wired) to report that I found it today! It turns out that I only have Starbucks and Panera locations in my town. So, I did a quick search on yelp one day a couple of weeks ago and printed the address of a local place ...although not so local, two towns away! It's a 17-minute commute door-to-door. One small segment of the way is 50 mph, but the majority is 30 and 40. It's a pretty pleasant drive though.

This coffee shop has a nice ambiance. It's skinny with two long rows of square wooden tables and their chairs, one row regular dining table height, the other bistro height. One wall is brick and the other behind the counter is a deep red with the menu on chalkboards. One corner of the front wall had photos tacked around the handwritten question, "Where have you been?" The guy working there was very nice. To top it all off, my large cappuccino and chocolate croissant were delicious!

"In a ceramic cup?"
"Yes, please!"

I will definitely patronize this place regularly. Perhaps every Monday morning? Including the Monday morning of my upcoming birthday!

(If we know each other and you want to learn the name of this place, feel free to ask me privately.)