Part III: Streamlining My Closet: New and Future Purchases

Part I of this series is here // Part II of this series is here

After cleaning my closet and organizing everything and coming to the conclusion that my wardrobe game was WAY off point, I came up with a plan.

First, color palette. I did a lot of research into capsule wardrobes and French style, because if I know anything, it’s that the kind of wardrobe I was about to shape had to look great, with minimal effort. The goal is a stylish uniform, not a thousand options.

I chose the following color palette:

Color Palette
Apologies for the weird background; I was trying to make the white square show up.

Black, white, and gray will always and forever coordinate. Navy brings in a little sophisticated edge. And olive and dusty plum are nice accent colors that will coordinate with my basic black/white/gray.

Once I settled on colors, I did my research and came up with some new basics I wanted to purchase. I knew I was missing v-neck shirts and solid color sweaters. These are the purchases I’ve made so far that have worked out well:

Wardrobe Finds
 nordstrom rack caslon booties // old navy navy blue cardigan // madewell whispter t-shirt // old navy flannel shirt // express extreme circle cowl neck sweater
The Madewell v-neck shirts are a total winner. I didn’t see the need to spend $20 on a shirt, but I bit the bullet and purchased 1 each in white, black, and heathered gray. After putting all 3 of these shirts on constant rotation, I’m considering picking up a second one in black, and one more in olive.

The Express sweater is definitely a workhorse item – it fits well in petite, is the perfect length for leggings, and the 3/4 sleeves are easy to keep scrunched up. Bonus: it also comes in olive, dusty rose, and oatmeal.

The Old Navy flannel is the closest I could find to the one I bought at Costco a few weeks back. It coordinates perfectly with the green field jacket I own, and I wear both items together frequently. I picked up the navy blue cardigan pictured above while in Atlanta last week on a total impulse buy. Turns out it was the right move. Not only did it get cold and rainy in Atlanta right after I purchased it, I’ve been wearing it non-stop ever since. It’s hard to find long cardigans that fit petite frames without becoming overwhelming; the Medium hits me perfectly at mid-hip.

And the Caslon booties have worked out extremely well; I wear them two or three times a week. They are great for my short legs – because the ankle is cut so low, it’s easier to get that cute exposed ankle look with this style than it is with a traditional bootie.

I’ve also had a few total misses with my orders. I’ve returned the following:

rejected items
madewell kent cardigan // madewell boxy mockneck pullover // express double slash top // express wedge cover-up

Both of the cardigans pictured above were beautiful, but entirely too large and long – it looked like I was wearing a housedress.  The Madewell boxy mockneck sweater was a tad too itchy for me, and made my chest look weird (beautiful color, though). And that Express slash top was just weird; really thin material that was too short. Honestly, I’d say if you are tall, and order a size down, the Kent cardigan would work, but I’m not sure if I could recommend the others.

As for future purchases, here’s what I’m thinking:

futurepurchases
boden silk blouse // boden breton shirt // j.crew factory dress // banana republic pants // banana republic dress

I definitely need at least two more pairs of work pants. The ones I currently own are from Banana Republic, but I ordered more of them last year and they weren’t cut in the same way at all. It was so odd; the pant legs flared out and made my legs look weird. I’m willing to give them one more try in the hopes that the last order was a strange batch.

I have my eye out for a work dress that mixes black and white, like the J.Crew Factory dress pictured. Also, I can’t say no to a black dress with interesting detail. The Banana Republic black dress above looks absolutely awesome. Bonus: this Banana Republic petites dress looks both comfortable, and sophisticated enough for work.

I love the details on this navy blue Boden silk shirt, but I don’t love the reviews. Also, it’s not in petite, and I have literally zero desire to tailor a silk blouse’s sleeves. It’s a beautiful inspiration photo for what I’d like, however, so it’s staying put for now.

I am also purchasing a black and white striped shirt. I like the look of the Boden Breton shirts, and have heard great things about them. However, I’m lusting after a St. James striped shirt. I’ll either have to find a sale, or save up…$75 for a cotton shirt is excessive, even though I’m trying to spend more if it’s a good brand, and appropriate (oddly, this could be appropriate; I know I’ll wear it at least 2x a week).

Then there are a few random pieces that are for holidays or just not traditional workwear: work-appropriate joggers //   lace top // velvet dress

Still sorting it all out, and still searching for something in that pretty dusty lilac shade, but I feel like I’m making progress. I’ve already noticed it takes less time to get dressed in the morning, and sticking to the above color palette will continue to make things more manageable. And with holiday sales coming up, I feel good about updating my closet at a nice price, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Surprising Finds At Costco

My husband and I grew up in very different households. While I was busy being an only child and basically getting whatever I wanted, Colin was in Arizona, playing competitive tennis in a family of 5 boys, all of whom were also playing tennis 24/7. They grew up going to Costco and honestly, I can’t imagine feeding 5 athletes any other way. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there I was in New Jersey, getting seconds on dinner, completely oblivious to the resources needed to fuel a big, hungry family.

Pretty much.

You can imagine the conversations we had once we moved in together and needed to go grocery shopping. I had no idea what Costco was; Colin was insistent that a membership was a good investment for us to make. I was skeptical – there was no way a household of 2 would ever need to shop at a place that sold eggs in flats, and butter in pounds.

Turns out, I was wrong. Over the past 4 years, we’ve found a surprising number of things we can purchase or do at Costco that make it well worth our membership fee.

Surprising Finds At Costco

Paper goods: What, you think a household of two shouldn’t buy paper towels in bulk? Do it once, and you’ll weep the next time you forget to replenish your Costco inventory an are forced to spend $6 on flimsy paper towels.

Butter: Finding butter at Costco isn’t the surprise – the surprise is that having 2 pounds of butter on hand is amazing. It’s a free pass for 6 months to make everything from scrambled eggs to cake. Plus, it takes up minimal space in the back of the fridge.

Rotisserie chicken: You can use rotisserie chicken in everything from chicken salad to chicken noodle soup. It’s also the world’s most perfect base for a lazy dinner – just slice and serve with whatever frozen veggies you have on hand.

Cilantro shrimp: Costco sells cooked shrimp tossed in different dressings in the deli section. Where we live it’s roughly $12 for a pound, which means we can eat dinner for $6 per person, which is a great price for seafood.

Deli meats and cheeses: It seems ridiculous to buy three packs of deli turkey, but you can freeze two of them and you’ve got lunch for months. Same goes for their cheese products. The freezer is your friend when you buy in bulk for a small household!

Socks: We buy 6-packs of good quality workout socks at Costco – I’m a fan of their neon Adidas no-show socks.

Workout Gear: I’ve found great workout leggings, tanks, and zip-ups at Costco, all in cute patterns. Costco is where I found my favorite racerback tanks!

Trendy Clothing: Go with me here. Costco’s known for providing the best of the best without any fluff, right? Then it makes perfect sense that their clothing section is both small, and full of on-trend pieces. My favorite black and white flannel is from Costco, and so is my go-to athleisure pullover. I’ve seen everything from cute sweaters to trendy military-style vests; I always make sure to take a detour through the women’s section. Plus, if you aren’t sure about a trend and you see it at Costco, you can try it out for a very affordable price.

Day Dates: OK, this one is a little embarrassing, but Colin and I will do day dates at the café in Costco before we shop. Both of us are apparently 5 year olds, because we’re obsessed with their foot-long hot dog combo (it comes with a soda and is under $2 per person, I mean…). Also, we found out one of Colin’s brothers does this with his wife, too. My theory that Costco runs in the O’Grady bloodline is basically confirmed at this point.

Puzzles and Books: I am dead serious, I have found the best puzzles at Costco, and I’m not ashamed to admit it (it being that I freaking love puzzles). I also have found great prices on current bestselling novels and hardcover cookbooks. Hello, Christmas!

costco finds

 

Please tell me someone else shares my strange obsession with Costco – anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Part II: Streamlining My Closet: Wardrobe Patterns and Gaps

Here is Part I of the Streamlining My Closet series!

It took no time at all to see a pattern emerge from my wardrobe. And I know that because it took about 90 seconds to go through my Work pile. Clearly I needed to rethink work clothing or at least, buy some I liked enough to keep. I had the following:

  • 1 pair of black work pants from Banana Republic that I love and wish I had more of
  • 1 long sleeved maroon work dress with an asymmetrical hem
  • 1 black and white moto-style blazer jacket that is too long in the sleeves
  • 1 very old black blazer
  • 1 white L.L.Bean button down shirt with my monogram on the sleeve

Everything is so specific! The maroon work dress is fine, but if I need to look particularly professional, an asymmetrical hem doesn’t work. Plus I can only wear it in cold weather due to the sleeves and the heavy fabric. As for the blazers…I’ll likely sell the moto one on Poshmark because I’m at the point where I don’t feel like keeping stuff I’m only OK with. We’ll see about the black blazer. That leaves me with: black pants, a specific semi-professional work dress, 1 white button down shirt, and maybe 1 black blazer. Oof. Better work from home.


So then I went through my Weekend pile. And I saw colors come to the surface that I wasn’t expecting. I knew I would find a lot of black, but in addition to that, I started seeing a lot of raspberry and jade. I’m being really specific with my color choices here because my bed was starting to look like a grownup version of Barney…

Go. Away.

I didn’t hate the colors I was finding, but I did think they were juvenile and hard to match with anything except denim jeans. Plus, I had zero cardigans. I was quickly learning that I had a complete lack of sophisticated, neutral colors to layer into multiple outfits – just a lot of loud color that made me feel too young.

At the end of my Weekend sorting, I was left with 3 sweaters:

  • 1 raspberry colored turtleneck (of course), from LOFT
  • 1 chunky “robe” style cardigan from LOFT, in black and gray marl
  • 1 chunky waterfall cardigan from Anthropologie in a black and white pattern

So, that’s one sweater I could wear to work, and two sweaters I could wear during cold weather on the weekends. Not very versatile.

When sorting through my jeans, I also noticed a pattern surrounding fit. I’m 5’1″ and it’s a gamble when I order jeans, even if they’re petites. Currently, I own the following:

  • 1 pair of medium wash skinny jeans from Gap that fit well
  • 1 old pair of light skinny jeans from Gap that fit, but are long
  • 1 pair of dark skinny jeans from LOFT that I’m hiding from because they don’t fit in the waist right now
  • 1 pair of black skinny jeans from Nordstrom that are brand new, because I literally ripped a giant hole in my old ones as I was writing this post

The new skinny jeans I listed above are alright. They are a true black, they’re comfortable and they have some stretch. Problem is, they stretch a little too much. Also, for being a petite skinny jean, I have 2 inches of fabric bunching at my ankles. I’m going to wash and dry them and see what happens to the sizing. If they shrink down and stay that way, I’ll have them hemmed and call it good.

Finally, I sorted through all the tops I owned that couldn’t be categorized as Work. I wasn’t really surprised to see that I have a lot of black, and I wasn’t surprised at all to see that I was missing basic wardrobe staples. I’m always on a quest to find the perfect t-shirt for my frame (petite, boobs, a little extra in the middle). It’s difficult to find a simple v-neck shirt that doesn’t make me look boxy, and the hodgepodge of casual shirts on my bed reflected this effort. Here’s what I currently own:

  • 1 long-sleeved oversized black v-neck from American Eagle (similar version here)
  • 1 light blue and white striped top from Gap (this shirt, but in a 3/4 sleeve)
  • 1 short-sleeved black and pink blouse, purchased at Nordstrom Rack years ago
  • 1 long-sleeved floral blouse from LOFT, in a myriad of random colors
  • 1 long-sleeved black shirt, purchased at Nordstrom Rack a really long time ago
  • 1 red flannel shirt from L.L.Bean
  • A few Shimera tank tops from Nordstrom, which are the best underpinning for tops (They have a few left at that link above, and Halogen makes similar ones here)
  • 1 chambray tunic from LOFT
  • 2 random scoop neck t-shirts from Gap
  • 2 cotton layering tanks in dark teal and navy blue

I will likely donate the scoop neck t-shirts, but since nothing was wrong with them I am holding onto them for the time being. But overall, when I look at this list I see a random assortment of overly casual tops, plus two blouses that are kind of work appropriate, but in reality, I use them so much for going out tops that they fall into the Weekend category. Also, those are some seriously sad going out tops, haha.


OK, so to sum it up, the main colors I found in my wardrobe were:

  • Black
  • Raspberry
  • Jade
  • Blue

And the main gaps I found in my wardrobe were:

  • Lack of appropriate work clothing overall
  • Lack of well-fitting, plain shirts
  • No cohesive color palette that can be layered into different outfits
  • No going out tops
  • No dresses at all, actually (I just realized this)
  • No neutral cardigans or sweaters

Next up is the plan I made to fill in my wardrobe gaps while streamlining my overall closet into a space that is cohesive and stylish – a space that makes getting dressed and feeling put together easy. Being an adult is exciting, amirite??

 

 

 

 

 

Lately: Just All Over The Place

 

hendra-pontomudis-70551
Photo by Hendra Pontomudis on Unsplash

All over the place as in, I’m becoming an expert in mentally tying myself up in knots. Currently I am in a gray area regarding a few big choices, and it’s giving me some anxiety, which is embarrassing to admit. I dislike drama, and here I am, all wrapped up in drama that exists inside my own head. I haven’t had much fear or anxiety when it comes to other large life choices I’ve made, and I recognize that is incredibly lucky. It’s also probably why I’m so uncomfortable right now. I keep telling myself that this is how everyone feels, and I’m just late to the game.

I also know that part of the anxiety stems from the fact that, even with factoring in the opinions of those I trust, only I can pull the trigger on my current choices. It’s maddening. I keep waiting for a sign to tell me what to do but honestly, there isn’t anything except my own circular thinking. So what now? (The answer is a gigantic pro/con list, but that still won’t spell everything out for me).

BVH-20523152
via Daily Mail UK

On a completely different topic – we booked a trip to Amsterdam and Cologne, Germany in December! I’ve been blabbing for years about how cool it would be to experience part of the holiday season in Europe, and then a deal came up for seriously cheap airfare. A few hours later, Colin and I had made a list of European cities famous for their Christmas markets, and a few hours after that, we had booked tickets to Amsterdam, with plans to take a train to Cologne for 2 days to experience their gigantic Christmas market and, just as important, their multiple stalls of mulled wine and gingerbread cookies.

It’s going to be a short trip, but both of us feel that our years of being able to do what I call “traveling stupid” (aka weird flight times, odd layovers, short international trips, etc.) are limited, so hey, might as well go for it if we can!

joanna-kosinska-434867
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Speaking of the holidays – for the first time in my adult life, I have a crazy urge to start celebrating like, right now. I’ve never been one of those people who keeps a big box of Christmas decorations, or holds onto a thousand holiday traditions, and now I want to start. If I get deep into my head (and let’s be honest, I’m already living there full time right now), I can think of a couple reasons why I suddenly want to get elbow-deep into sugar cookie dough, but the main reason would be because for the first time in my life, I feel old. And I mean that in a good way. I feel old in the sense that I feel like this should be the year I commit to establishing those thousand holiday traditions.

Our current Christmas tradition is to buy a tree and decorate it, and I make sure to find at least one new ornament for us throughout the year. Sometimes more…there’s a weird level of turtle-themed ornaments on there from our honeymoon to Hawaii last year. Oh well.

Aside from the tree (which was a first for me; I’m an expert in fake trees and Colin insisted on real and damnit, it’s so much better, I was tricked as a kid), we don’t have anything else. I think this year I’m going to start a cookie making night, and also get a wreath for our front door. Small steps. We aren’t super organized in the apartment, so I think the most decorating I can do is easy things like scented hand soap, and maybe some kitchen towels and good-smelling candles. I’ll take it. Also, I’m definitely finding some ridiculous Christmas-themed pajama pants for us to wear because hello, COZY.

 

Tell me: are there any Christmas traditions you do that I should do, too? And if anyone has visited Cologne or Amsterdam during holiday season and has any tips, I’m all ears!

 

 

 

Part I: Streamlining My Closet: Organizing

I am not a fashion-savvy person. For awhile I thought I just couldn’t figure out how to put together the right combination of trends. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that there is a difference between trend and style. And since I’m not running out to buy every new “it” item, it’s safe to say I lean more toward looking good, than looking of the moment.

What I’m pretty sure fashionable people do in front of their mirror at home.

That being said, I struggle to keep a wardrobe that is cohesive, confidence-boosting, and stylish. I’m always pulling out items that don’t go with anything else I own, it takes ages to get dressed, and the result of all this unnecessary stress is general dissatisfaction with how I look. Which, of course, translates into poor confidence, and that definitely isn’t a good look on anyone.

I decided to do an audit of my closet to figure out where the gaps are in my wardrobe, slim down what I own, and discover what I could purchase to make a more cohesive closet. I also promised myself that I wouldn’t get cheap once I figured it all out. I’ve seen too many H&M tops go in the trash by now. I know better.

So, I went though my clothing earlier this month. The process took a week, and included actually unpacking the stuff I let stay in moving boxes over the past 6 months (note to self: figure out a better system for moving clothes next time around).


Here’s how I organized my closet audit:

Wash everything. I started with throwing my laundry pile into the washing machine. As it was being cleaned, I pulled everything out of my drawers and closet. I kept whatever was clean and folded as-is, and made a second pile for all the crap that was hiding in the back of the drawers because guess what? It was my second laundry load. And third.


Break down clothes into keep//sell//donate//trash. While I ran the laundry, I sorted everything that was clean and on my bed. Keep stayed on the bed; Sell got folded into a pile for my Poshmark closet; Donate went into a designated garbage bag; and Trash got chucked across the room because, who cares? It’s trash.


STOP and regroup.  Once all the laundry was done and my 4 piles were created, I stacked my Poshmark items into a large bag for storage. I tied my donation bag and put it aside for Goodwill. And I threw all my ratty old clothes into the trash. This sounds obvious, but cleaning before sorting allowed me to only see what was worth seeing.


Sort Keep clothes into work//weekend//workout//sleep. I then took all my Keep clothes and sorted them into easy to understand, broad categories. Sweatpants will never go in the Work category and a tailored suit will never make it over to Sleep, right? Right.


Break down categories further. Here’s where I got to see the full extent of what was in my closet, as well as my buying habits:

I sorted my Work clothes: dresses in one spot, trousers and tops in another. I made different piles for sleeveless//short sleeve//long sleeved shirts, and, most importantly, I stacked clothes in color order to see how many pairs of each thing I owned.

Then I did the same thing to my Weekend clothing. Again, I sorted by sleeve length, color, and style. I also paid attention to my jeans and sorted them as specifically as possible, so I could see if there were any style patterns (dark wash, ripped, etc.)

Workout clothing and Sleep clothing were easy – it’s all about quality, less about style preference.  I sorted both categories by sleeve and pant length, and tossed anything that was ratty or stretched out.


At the end of the sorting madness, I was left with a bed full of folded clothing, grouped by style and color. I put my Workout and Sleep clothing away, and geared up for the actual auditing portion of the process – going through my Work and Weekend clothes to figure out, once and for all, what kind of style I really have.

And since this post is now entirely too long, Work and Weekend are what I’ll be covering in Part II: Streamlining My Closet: Wardrobe Patterns and Gaps!

#2: The Places I Would Like To Live

  1. A Craftsman bungalow in Seattle, Washington
  2. Portland, Oregon if the bungalow is a no-go
  3. Charlotte, North Carolina – just because
  4. A large, rural house somewhere picturesque but not murder-y or ghost-y
  5. London, as an alternative for those crazy 4 years people spend in NYC in their 20s
  6. Maui, to live out our honeymoon forever, and no shoes
  7. Paris, lots and lots of shoes. And coats. And gorgeous things everywhere.
  8. #4 but in the French countryside, replace “rural house” with “operate a winery”
  9. Phoenix, Arizona, so I could continue falling in love with the desert
  10. A tricked-out cabin in Montana, with views upon views

Lately

A few thoughts from all over the place:

Living Space

When we moved into our current apartment, we signed a 6 month lease. We had no clue where we might be and since we hadn’t planned on moving (thanks, condo owner who decided to sell), we just didn’t feel right about committing to a new space suddenly. Now, we’ve upgraded to the full year. Why is this important? Because for those first 6 months, we unpacked 40% of the apartment, and left everything else to linger. Now that we’re here for real, I’ve finally started to get my act together on creating an organized home. Or at the very least, a fully unpacked one…like I said in my post here, we aren’t the best at unpacking. Last week we donated 2 bags, a beach chair, a box of stuff, and 2 wicker baskets to Goodwill. It was also our wedding anniversary weekend, and you know you’re getting old when a drop-off at Goodwill was a legitimate highlight of the day.

Mary Poppins: organizing life since 1964 (yes, I know it’s 1934 if you want to be technical).

Yesterday I ordered a 2 pack of these 4-drawer storage towers in the hopes of getting our closet organized. I like them because the wicker fronts look nicer than those clear, plastic bins everyone uses to store clothes in their college dorms. My hope is that the towers can hold linens, towels, and bulky winter items. Especially since my bulky winter items are currently folded on top of a giant rolling cooler (um, yeah. We also have enough outdoor stuff to warrant a garage, but that’s a topic for another day).

I also bought this shoe organizer for my side of the bed, and 2 of these larger underbed organizers for both of us to put overflow/seasonal clothing into. It’s sort of ridiculous how much clothing we have, when neither of us shops regularly, but here we are. I think once it’s all out of sight, we’ll be able to focus on getting everything else pulled together.

Using Poshmark to balance my wardobe

Oh, but just because I don’t go shopping every week, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be more in the know regarding fashion. I am fully invested in trying to look like a stylish person. I just want to do it my own way – meaning, I don’t really feel the need to jump on every trend as it comes down the pike. I’d much rather find quality, lasting pieces that are laid back but still stylish. No need for massive amounts of fringe, or ankle crop flared jeans in my closet.

Each time I’ve gone through my clothes I find a surprising amount of good quality items that I don’t use. It’s a byproduct of when I did spend time shopping, and of having a lot of quality hand-me-downs from a mom who looooves a good handbag (don’t we all). The last time I used Poshmark I made nearly $200 in sales, and I was able to use that money to pay for almost every meal we had on our trip to Thailand that year.

This time around, I’m cycling my sales back into my own wardrobe. I did a clothing audit, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds, and found out that the majority of what I own is…workout clothing and pajamas?! I have one pair of work pants I love. I own one pullover sweater, and no cardigans. It was a hot mess. Anyway, I overthought things as I typically do, Googled a ton of capsule wardrobes, pretended I was French for a minute, and came up with some basic colors and clothing items I wanted to purchase to make a more cohesive wardrobe.

OK, this is where Poshmark comes into play. I was able to take the sales I made, and combined them with a $100 Express gift card I randomly found while cleaning (see, THIS is why you clean). All together, I was able to upgrade my fall wardrobe with the following pieces from Express and Nordstrom Rack:

Fall Purchases

marled cowlneck sweater//mauve cardigan//berry double-slash longsleeved shirt//black ankle booties//ripped skinny black jeans

I’m excited about all of it – everything works together in some way, I already own a ton of black, and I feel like each piece has something slightly trendy going on, without being so trendy that I’ll hate it in six months. AND I still have $21 in Poshmark credit leftover, so I spent exactly $0 on this haul. I just posted some new things on there, and will likely use whatever sales I make next to invest in a better handbag, or possibly a good quality pair of dark denim jeans. I plan on writing more about how I’m going to streamline my closet soon.

Hobbies

I’m one of those people who constantly feels a need to do something creative, but has problems committing to a process. I feel energized when I see raw materials – a blank piece of drawing paper, loose beads, yarn – but for some reason, I blank out when I finally get my hands on them. Then I get frustrated, and I stop attempting to draw/make jewelry/knit/etc. I’m going to try to change this, and the first step was to promise to myself to finish one full round of a craft before passing judgement. I ordered an embroidery hoop kit online as my first attempt.

In my fantasies, I find something I love so much that I HAVE to start an Etsy shop to sell it (I know this is like…the fantasy world of every slightly #basic Millennial woman, but go with me here). I would love to create some side income, particularly if I can do it in a way that is creative. Plus, I like being able to have control over it – I’ve already started my own LLC for some freelance writing projects, and for someone who isn’t into fine print, I enjoyed setting everything up and getting it done.

So let’s hope mixed media projects are my secret heartsong, and maybe in a few months, there will be an Etsy link posted here and we can all celebrate the genius of my abstract embroidered hoop projects. Or something like that.

And that’s it for me – what about you? Am I missing out on some hot fashion trend (that isn’t cropped ankle flares)? Have you ever created a side business out of something you love doing?

On Wedding Blues

On October 22, 2016, I got married to my boyfriend of 7 years. And seeing as our 1 year anniversary is right around the corner, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on something I hadn’t expected to happen after the wedding: a complete roller coaster of emotional letdown I wasn’t prepared for. That whole “wedding blues” thing people tell you about, and then you laugh at them because that sounds so high maintenance and WHY would you cry after your wedding weekend? IT’S REAL.

After dating for 7 years, our families finally met, I put on a lacy white gown, and we tied the knot.

And everything was great, forever and ever, amen.

Until the morning after our wedding, when I found myself sobbing in our kitchen in between putting my bouquet into a vase, and trying to figure out where to stash all the wedding decorations we were now responsible for selling or donating. I felt like a cracked glass; holding it together till you pushed too hard, then everything started leaking.

I was upset that all the people we loved were leaving to go back home. That was compounded by the unsettling feeling of everything going back to being as it was before. This sounds so superficial, but wedding stuff is addictive; everything you do is labeled as “special”. You want a certain menu font? You can buy it on Etsy, and no one will think you’re weird. You like a specific tablecloth?? Go rent it, it’s fine! And this is coming from a person who tried to keep everything simple; no themes, no tablescapes. I still spent hours dissecting candles and napkins to try and get the perfect balance of elegant and simple, without overspending. And I LOVED it.

For the first time in my life, I spent a lot of time and energy on pretty things. I’m not a natural decorator and I’m not fashionable (though I want to be). It was like I could finally let out my aspirational, Pinterest-y energy somewhere. Then it was gone, and I was back to wearing jeans and an oversized button down, and the pretty stuff was literally wilting.

Now, I’m no dummy. I know what we wanted most – to be married to each other – is the main point, and I’m ecstatic to have Colin as my husband. Like I said, 23-year-old me knew he was the one, and he’s definitely shown it over our first year of marriage, which was full of surprises (I’m pretty sure God was waiting for us to get married before He laughed and then dumped a bunch of hard stuff on us at once).

I can’t deny that weddings still hold a special place in my heart. It was, after all, where I got to unleash my glittery inner designer. And honestly, if I could handle planning weddings for a living, I’d be so into it. But I know better.

So fair warning to everyone who is currently engaged: wedding blues are real, and they happen to all of us. Even the chick wearing comfortable flats and skinny jeans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Live Your Life In Boxes

Good morning! Here is a new piece I have up on 30OnTap:

boxes

The first time I put all of my possessions into boxes was right before I left Washington, D.C. for a summer internship in London. I rented my room to a friend of a friend, and needed to make the space look inviting. I needed to make it look neat. At the very least, I needed to get my crap out of the spaces her crap would inhabit for the next two months.

I wandered around the room, picking up knickknacks and shoving them into boxes, layering everything on the left-hand side of my closet. Picture frames, sweaters, an embarrassing stuffed animal giraffe – all thrown together into the dark abyss behind the sliding door.

What was left in my room looked pleasantly blank. I marveled at how nice my bedspread was, lovingly smoothed over my mattress and tucked in at the corners. The parquet floor shined. And all it took was a myriad of boxes, stacked up and out of sight.

From that summer in 2008, up to this very moment, I have partially lived in boxes. No matter where I move, no matter how much I get rid of, there are boxes in my living space. It’s ironic, because halfway unpacking provides both a sense of cleanliness, and complete lack thereof. I get the satisfaction of a mostly neat space, but the boxes still lurk in the doorways. Rigid, cardboard corners contain what would otherwise be a full, but messy home. It’s tidy chaos.

My husband and I have lived in three apartments together, and we quickly discovered that partial unpacking is something we have in common. One of the memories I have from our first apartment together was his discovery of an old, large, plastic drawstring bag. It was full of outdated financial paperwork he was afraid to throw away. Paperwork and old college team gear are his weaknesses. Mine is clutter – the hand painted box from Argentina with dancers on the lid; the pretty picture frame I bought on sale. The makings of a home that live in our house.

Our boxes are a running topic of conversation. We wonder how we have so much stuff when we keep culling it down and no one is impulse shopping. We debate the merits of unpacking, but why bother if we’re just renting, and we don’t want to stay here long anyway? Then we’ll just need more boxes. It would be wasteful to throw out the ones that are so kindly holding our possessions within their walls.

One day it hit me. The boxes weren’t a testament to laziness, but rather a manifestation of where we are in our life together. Both of us would love to be homeowners, but we don’t have that yet. We have rentals on top of boxes, and neither of us likes putting holes in the walls of places we already know we’re leaving. Neither of us wants to settle in until we know the effort we will make will be worth it. And neither of us has that enviable design gene that allows our more stylish friends the ability to set up home wherever they live.

We often ask each other what would happen if we threw away all the boxes. The problem is, our home lives inside. We just have to find our permanent space to unpack them in – embarrassing stuffed animal giraffe included.

–Originally published at 30OnTap