X-ray Vision

I haven't done outfit posts for a while...my GorillaPod kinda broke and I have yet to buy a new one. Not to mention I've been coming home at the end of the day with no energy to speak of. Hopefully I'll pick up the pace soon.

I've never been into wearing anything approved by Jolly Roger (I find them a bit macabre for my tastes), but the scientist in me just couldn't let go of this find from the H&M Boys section. For one, it's much cheaper and more practical than the Rodarte for Target sequined ribcage dress, which appears to be available no more. The sweater is also surprisingly soft and comfortable. I ended up getting another sweater (much more work-appropriate one) from the boys section too, but it's in the laundry. Maybe next time...

Hebden, who incorporate the skulls ever so skillfully in her outfits, inspired this one, which was worn sometime in December when it was a bit chilly but not that cold:

[H&M Boys sweater, Marc by Marc Jacobs neon yellow watch, Geren Ford shorts, J. Crew wool tights, Bloch London flats.]

While I was Christmas shopping at the Fossil outlet in Cabazon, I came across a bunch of M by MJ watches, including the fruit ones that I thought was long gone! They weren't cheap, but they were much, much more affordable than the full sticker price. Since they had a promotional deal, I went a little crazy with buying watches. I gave a white guitar-on-a-chain watch to my sister for Christmas, and she loves it, so it worked out. =) This neon cuff watch is just what I need to perk up all that black I've been wearing--it's bold, but not too wacky for work.


The Long Run

Happy 2010! May a new decade bring positive changes and strengthen lasting bonds. I still can't believe that it is now Year 2010; it seems like one of those years in science fictions from long ago that would never arrive. We still use roads, fossil fuels, and don't around Jetson-style in pods yet, but technology has been developing on an exponential curve, so the fictional visions of the future may become reality sooner than I think.

A lot of people make New Year's resolutions, which is good--it gives some goals to work toward. Not all of them may be fulfilled, but we all need some impetus to get started. Here are a few of my resolutions (in no particular order), which I hope will last beyond just this year:

1) Become more financially savvy--I'd like to think I do pretty well in saving. However, there's always room for improvement, and it's important to do more than just save. Given the uncertain economic times, and unexpected expenses, it's good to have a good financial cushion around. It's not just enough to save put money into a 401(k), which tanked for a lot of people. In addition to the retirement accounts, it's important to build up savings that is readily accessible.

Once a particular savings goal is reached (say, a year's worth of living expenses), the next step is to learn how to make some of that money work a little harder. That's something I really need to learn to work on. A savvy friend of mine recommended Motley Fool as a resource to start with. Now that the markets are starting to recover, it is as good of a time to think or rethink investment strategies.

2) Evaluate and/or revamp habits and customs--it's easy to fall into bad patterns without knowing it, especially when there are competing priorities. It's important to notice what's been going on, what's been going wrong, why it's been going wrong, figure out the root of the problem, and replace the bad patterns with good ones.

In the last couple of months, I've noticed that my eating schedules and habits have gone awry, I've practically stopped exercising, gotten a bit nonchalant about getting things done/getting to places on time (which is really not me), just stopped caring about many things in general (like watering my plants), etc. Most of these problems stem from being tired, and sometimes sick, which eventually lead to laziness and apathy. A very basic way of fixing the problem is simply getting regular and comfortable sleep, which often went by the wayside on my quest to do as much as possible with what little time I have. Sleep is not a waste of time--it's quite essential. Without energy, discipline and willpower will eventually wear away.

3) Exercise--my Wii Fit is completely underutilized. I need to pop in fresh batteries and start getting on that thing again.

4) Learn when to take a break--this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I've always known one speed in life, and that's fast and furious. However, life is a marathon, not a sprint to the finish; there will be no victory lap if the tank is out of gas. Since there are no summer or winter breaks in the life after school, it's up to me to learn when to schedule in vacations and use them wisely.

5) Edit my wardrobe--the growth of my closet has finally hit the hilt of rate-determining factors called time and space, which seemed infinite until now. There's no more room to store things, and there is an inversely-proportional amount of time to look through all the stuff I have. This means I need to reduce my inventory of casual things that I don't wear much anymore (I'm not a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl anymore), be more selective about things I acquire, and replace worn-out clothing with quality, professional pieces that will last for a long time. Given my professional development, it seems like my style has changed permanently from "all kinds of crazy" to "subtly grown-up with a few funky elements."

Editing is easier said than done. I've been clinging to the idea that one doesn't have to choose between quality and quantity--which was fine and all until a certain point. I think the space factor pretty much disproves my theory, much to my chagrin. If my days as a law review editor taught me anything, it would be to preserve as much of the author's intent and underlying character of the piece as much as humanly possible, while tossing out excessive words or florid language that distract the reader from the main point. Translated into sartorial applications, it means figuring out what my style really is (which I've done), and getting rid of things that really don't fit the bill.

I've been paying more attention to the frequency with which I wear certain things to determine what the true closet staples are. Those are the ones I'll stick with for years to come and worthy of investment. Here are my observations:

-One can never go wrong with leather (or pleather)--my leather hoodie gets worn the most because it goes with everything. It doens't hurt that the jacket has garnered the most compliments of anything I've worn.

-One must also have a pair of well-fitting black bottoms--they go with everything. My black slacks get worn the most during the week, while my black faux leather leggings are worn practically all the time on the weekends during these colder months (ironic given the fact that I've eschewed leggings for the longest time). My black wool tights allows me to wear practically any sort of dresses, skirts, and shorts these last few months.

-Long- and short-sleeved T-shirts in a couple of colors, patterns, and cuts will do wonders. My fitted gray Gap crewneck t-shirt is perfect with cardigans and blazers for work, and goes with literally everything I wear on the weekends. A slouchier v-neck t-shirt in a lighter color is great for a more casual weekend look. A few graphic t-shirt breaks up the color-block humdrum. That's pretty much all I need.

-Signature accessories--in a professional setting, accessories provide personality to otherwise standard fare. I wear fairly bland colors because it's easy, safe, and classy to do so, but I don't think I ever look boring. In the winter months, scarves are my friends. My black and white Gap scarf with bold stripes, which I got as a gift, is one of my best assets; it keeps me warm and looks great year after year. I have a few vintage scarves for the summer as well. Patterned and/or colored hosiery, ranging from subtle and loud, definitely add a pop to any outfit. Various combinations of jewelry can make varying degrees of impact, whether in the form of a single statement piece, a stack of mix-and-matches, or a few simple pieces together.

-Great shoes--the importance of great shoes can never be understated. People do notice these things, as shallow as it seems. They don't need to be expensive at all (plenty of my shoes come from Payless or Target), but they have to look solid and feel comfortable. It's hard to go wrong with patent leather (real or faux), even for the cheap ones (at least initially; they look great until they get scuffed up). While the stilettos are sexier and more artsy, the real workhorses are the ones with the thicker but not too chunky heels.

On my trip to Hong Kong, I had to pack for occasions ranging from formal to casual, and I narrowed down the essential footwear to 4 pairs: a pair of black Marc by Marc Jacobs mary janes with a shiny star and martini heel (for the formal occasion), an old pair of black knee-high boots with a blocky heel (to go with practically everything), a pair of classic flats in white with black captoes (for a dressier outfit on a day that requires a lot of walking), and a pair of blue and yellow Nikes (for a casual outing). Ankle-length boots are also great to go with slacks for work or something shorter for play. Not that I'll kick my shoe habit anytime soon, but I do recognize that if I really have to limit myself to as few pairs of shoes as possible, these are the true "needs."

-A good shift dress is a must. My blue DvF wool shift dress goes with everything--blazers and cardigans for work, leather jacket, boots, and a funky scarf for weekends.

-One or two good bags--a chic bag in a medium size, with some structure (either a tote or a satchel), and solid classic color (black, something neutral, blue, or dark red), without bells and whistles, will carry you everywhere. If it has an additional shoulder strap that could be readily put or or removed, then all the better.

-A good coat, a few cardigans, well-fitted blazers, light-weight silk blouses (in solid colors, a few bold prints, and a couple with asymmetric details), and undergarments (of course) round out the true "essentials."

What are your goals for life and style, for this year and beyond? Any particular essentials you can't live without? Discuss.