China Through the Looking Glass

Exhibit at the Costume Institute

I recently went to NYC to spend time with family. While I was there I saw “China Through the Looking Glass,” at the Costume Institute in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I hadn’t planned on going. It slipped my mind that the exhibit was still up. (Total mistake on my part. How could anyone forget Rihanna’s dress or Beyonce’s grand entrance to the Met Gala?)

It was a perfect NYC day (the weather was gorgeous) and I had no pressing deadlines. A free day is such a luxury, isn’t it? I went on a walk, and that walk led me right in front of the Met. And I thought, “Oh! The Met! Let’s go in there!” Once I entered it dawned on me, “Oh! The Costume Institute!”

Sometimes bumbling into things works in my favor.

I took a number of photos so I could give you a quick look into the exhibit.

My favorite part was this dress by Guo Pei. (Note: The same designer behind Rihanna’s yellow dress.)

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

If anyone ever doubts that fashion can be art I would like to submit this as Exhibit A.

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

Stunning doesn’t begin to describe it.

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute A large portion of the exhibit juxtaposes art forms. A historic object from China is taken and placed next to a modern ensemble. The visitor can see the direct result of Chinese influence on design. It’s clever, and it works.

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

The exhibit changes tone with this section:

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

Mannequins are placed in a bamboo “forest” made of lights. The audience walks around the structure in order to see the clothes.

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

It’s so different in form and concept from other sections. But, it is a welcome surprise.

Other moments –

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute


China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

China Through the Looking Glass - Costume Institute

If you are in NYC I highly recommend going!

Are you planning on seeing China Through the Looking Glass? Do tell!

Shop When You Travel

Buy Indie & Build Your Wardrobe

Travel is a great way to build an eclectic wardrobe.

Instead of going for the usual tourist swag, check out local shops. Purchase something within your budget that makes you happy. Every time you wear it you will be reminded of your trip.

Necklace from Tarnish in Chicago


This necklace is from Tarnish in Chicago.

I started the “add to your wardrobe when you travel” trend when I went to Guatemala in 2008. The purchase of a darling white-trimmed-in-red maxi dress was a lovely experience. Every time I put it on I’m transported in time and space to that trip.

Have you purchased wardrobe items in your travels? Do tell!

OOTD – Pattern Play

Easy Dress on a Hot Day

It’s a hundred and twenty degrees out with two hundred percent humidity because this is a stupid swamp town. – Leslie Knope talking about DC

Guys, I know I talk about the weather constantly, but I can’t help it. Weather is closely related to how I pull together an outfit. Right now I’m picking out anything that feels at least somewhat breezy and pulled together.

But, honestly, if you take the time to get dressed up and do anything on days with 100% humidity I think you should earn a badge. It would say something like this:

“YOU DID IT!! You got dressed even when it is completely UNBEARABLE outside! Good job!”

Sometimes I think we should get badges for just adulting.

At any rate –

Outfit of the Day - Pattern Dress

Here’s my outfit of the day! I love anything that can be put on in 2 seconds. People automatically put dresses in a “dressy = fussy” category. However, sometimes it is the easiest solution around. Pull it on, zip it up, and you are out of the door in two seconds.


This one is a thrifted new purchase, and I’m loving it’s playful pattern. It’s a bit easier to see close up:

Outfit of the Day - Pattern Close Up

It’s just a fun summer ensemble.

Outfit of the Day - Pattern Play

How about you? Is it hot where you live? What are you doing to keep cool?

Outfit of the Day – Coral Love

Does This Look Like a Vintage Bathing Suit to You? 

When you own enough brightly-colored clothing (especially in variations of pink), some of it is inevitably going to match. I thrifted this skirt a number of years ago. The top became part of my wardrobe last year.

Coral Vintage Inspired Outfit of the Day

The corals are perfectly color matched, so I decided to try it as an outfit. (As a person who loves studying color theory and color story, this made me very happy. In other words, I’m a big dork.)

It’s a quirky outfit, and the outcome reminded me of the silhouette of bathing suits from the 1900’s.

Image: Library of Congress LC-DIG-ggbain-01346

Image: Library of Congress LC-DIG-ggbain-01346

Image: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-100442-1898

Image: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-100442-1898

Are you guys seeing this, too? Or, am I making it up?

I would typically pair a full skirt with a fitted top, but I couldn’t resist this navy/coral/bow pairing. It’s just fun to try different outfit combinations with clothes that are already in my closet! I highly recommend it.

Outfit of the Day – Featuring 4Love Clothing

Clothing that Empowers Women

Today I’m wearing a dress by 4Love Clothing.

Outfit of the Day Featuring 4Love ClothingIt’s an amazing organization that provides stable, fair-wage jobs to women in Panama. The handmade embellishments on the dress incorporate design elements from traditional dress of the indigenous (Ngobe Bugle Indians) people.

A portion of sales goes to supplying children with a school uniform, shoes, and supplies.

Over this past year I’ve gotten to know the CEO of 4Love clothing, Lindsey Parry. She’s a woman with vision and complete dedication to ending the cycle of poverty in that region.

To learn more about 4Love Clothing go here. 

To shop this dress and others go here.


Outfit of the Day – J.Crew Lighthouse Dress

To the Lighthouse 

It’s summer. It’s hot. The humidity is at that tipping point where you can almost bite the air because it is so thick.

I found this J.Crew dress at a local thrift store and fell in love with the lighthouse print.

Outfit of the Day - JCrew Lighthouse Dress

It’s also a cotton / linen blend, which is perfect for this type of weather. Natural fibers breathe in the heat, and linen is an absorbent textile. During summer months it can be a lifesaver. This type of ensemble makes me feel dressed up, but in actuality is quite practical.

Outfit of the Day - J.Crew Lighthouse

Plus, an A-Line dress looks great on every body type.

Do you tend to wear dresses in the summer? Or, are you more of a shorts person? Do tell!

DIY Wardrobe Helper: Button Book

Button Book DIY

Many apparel items come with extra buttons. The thing about extra buttons, though, is that they are a nuisance to keep up with, especially if you don’t sew. When you pop a button you need a replacement one pronto, otherwise that shirt / dress / skirt will remain in your closet unused for years.

Enter the Button Book! It’s a simple way to keep track of the extra buttons that come with your clothes.

You just need a photo album that has a) pockets b) space to write information.

I picked this one up at Marshall’s for $7.

DIY Button BookHow cute is it that the cover talks about little things?

The inside of the book was exactly what I was looking for – pockets and room for a description on the side.

DIY Button Book Wardrobe Helper

I gathered up all my extra buttons:

DIY Button Book Wardrobe Helper


DIY Button Book Wardrobe Helper

Put buttons in pockets and wrote the name / a description of the item on the side.

DIY Button Book Wardrobe HelperThis project makes life easier. When you purchase a new outfit just throw those extras (buttons / thread) in the album and everything is waiting there whenever you need it. In the meantime it will look nice and tidy sitting on a bookshelf.

DIY Button Book Wardrobe Helper

I’ve made Button Books as gifts when I didn’t have a lot of money. If you keep an eye out for photo albums at your local thrift store this gift can sometimes be made for as little as $1.

Most of all, I like anything that encourages us to take care of our clothes. That way we don’t have a purchase-and-discard mentality. If something is an easy fix, let’s fix it! You don’t need a lot of skill. Sometimes you just need to put your hands on that extra button.

Have you ever heard of a Button Book? Do tell!



Outfit of the Day – Garden Party Dress

Vintage-Inspired Dress

A sweet friend had a garden party this weekend. I wore this bright floral dress to the event because it made me happy.

Outfit of the Day - Garden Party Dress


I love that it has a 50’s vibe, but the fabric is soft and breathable.

Do you wear vintage or vintage-inspired clothes? Do tell!

Outfit of the Day – Thrifted Florals

Thrifting for Floral Finds

I always consider thrift shopping a big treasure hunt. You never know what you are going to find, and sometimes you strike gold.

I fell in love with this wild, floral print maxi.

Outfit of the Day - Thrifting For Deals

Annnnd, it was only $1.

Thrifting always expands my style and keeps me on budget. Those are two things that I can definitely get behind.

I think this dress was only $1 because it is very unlike what people normally wear in DC. It isn’t that wild – it has a boho vibe, but is still very wearable. But, you don’t see too many people wearing large, bright prints here. That’s where experimentation and taking risks can make a big difference!

The necklace is actually a belt. I couldn’t resist the feathers, and it called to me after I put on the dress.

Do you thrift in order to stretch your style? Do tell.

Fashion Blogging: Instagram vs Reality

Outfit Photos Are All About Polish & Perfection, But What’s Really Going On?

I’ve recently started posting more outfit photos on Instagram and this site. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for years, but I felt way too shy. Plus, I was having technical problems with space and lighting. A couple of weeks ago I figured out a sorta-answer (my pics aren’t perfect) and decided to go for it. The result has been quite fun, and I see the posts as an outfit diary – an artistic project that centers on apparel.

Fashion Blogging: Instagram versus Reality

My outfit of the day! I’m wearing this as I type.

Then this week happened. It’s been difficult past few days.

I have nerve damage in my left leg. I’ve had it for years (more info about the source of the nerve damage is here), and have been on a daily regimen of medication. The pain is chronic, and the medicine lowers the pain level enough that I can function in my daily life. It’s a new normal, and I don’t see it as a hindrance or problem – it’s just the reality of my life.

A number of days ago I realized that I was running out of my medication. I have zero refills left on pills that make a difference between walking versus being in so much pain that walking is an impossibility. No problem – I’ve been going to the same neurologist for years, and I should be able to get a refill without complications, right?


My doctor is amazing, but getting through administrative red tape to request a refill of medication has turned into an ordeal. I’ve been working to try to get in touch with my doctor for days, and my phone calls / emails are not being answered. I’m watching the number of pills decrease. And, my panic is rising.

This morning I thought about taking an outfit photo and completely dismissed it. I’m not in a great mood, I’m scared, and I’m SO FREAKING FRUSTRATED with the GW hospital system. In short, I’m not my best self.

Then, I did some thinking about fashion blogging. I love fashion bloggers, I love outfit photos, I LOOOVE Instagram and watching women show off what they are wearing. On the surface fashion blogging might be dismissed as being self-involved, but I find it empowering and subversive. It’s freaking fantastic to watch body-positive women take those photos and say, “this is what I look like!” Rock it, girl!

But, fashion bloggers can give an impression that everything is always perfect. Pictures are photoshopped, put through filters, and curated. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. But, I do think that picture after gorgeous picture gives the false appearance of perfection. Fashion bloggers have imitated magazines in many ways by showing a world that is dazzling and continuously pulled together. But, sometimes life just isn’t that way. Sometimes it is difficult and sad and lonely. Sometimes life just throws a sucker punch. I have always wished people would show reality a little more.

Today it hit me – I can show that reality. So, here it is:

Fashion Bloggers: Instagram vs reality

These pics are much closer to my reality right now.

The picture on the left shows the Instagram version of my outfit.

The picture on the right shows the reality of how I’m feeling. I’m in pain. I’m frustrated. And, I am just angry and tired.

And, that’s what is really going on in this fashion blogger’s life right now.

I know my pill situation will be solved. I’m confident in it. Why? There is no other choice. I can’t function without the medication, so it will work out – even if I have to go and camp out at my doctor’s office. Right now, though, I think it is more important to talk about the reality of my life versus the curated, edited version. I want to show an outfit photo, even in the middle of my pain.

When I get the medication I will update this post.


Update: Got the meds. It was a panic right up until the end, but I got them. Thank goodness! I received so many sweet messages in person, through social media, and via email. Thanks for all the kind words and support.