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WHAT 6 MONTHS OF A PANDEMIC TAUGHT ME ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP

Pat yourselves on the back if you haven’t broken up with someone during the past six months. I’m kidding… but I think I speak for most of us when I say that this has been an incredibly trying time. I’ve never felt more stress about the world at large and probably never been more stressed in my work life. Add to that the fact that for 3 months Adam and I were both spending almost all of our time living and working inside a one bedroom apartment and even with him back in the office now, our life remains much more insular than it ever was before – and you’re bound to hit a few rocky moments.

This is a truly unique time to have survived with someone and there are a few things that have become even more clear to me over the course of the past 6 months. I think any one of these could apply to any close relationship you have (parents, kids, roommates, friends) not just a romantic partner – so I hope you find something that may feel helpful. Because who knows what the next six months will look like – but I know I won’t be spending it fighting about who should do the dishes.

A little distance goes a long way.

From going to the grocery store to watching TV, Adam and I have always tended to spend a large majority of our time together. So to some degree, the early months of the pandemic were probably not as big of a jolt as they were for some families. But that being said – two humans are not meant to spend every waking second side by side. And during the past six months it’s become more important than ever to be sure that we’re also giving ourselves a little bit of distance. Maybe that means me going for a walk without him or me going upstairs to read while he stays downstairs to play video games. Too much time together can inevitably lead to some quarreling or – equally dangerous – a sense of complete co-dependence on the other person. It doesn’t have to be for long or every single day even, but a little distance goes a long way.

Let them have an annoying habit. Or five.

Adam is a uniquely quirky person. His taste in music for instance – which ranges from deeply experimental jazz to hard core death metal to every song that Hall & Oates has ever recorded. And when the spirit moves him he will play these at a volume that rattles my bones. He also frequently whistle tunes over the mouth of a beer bottle. Come to think about it a lot of his habits are ‘noise’ related. But I stopped labeling these as annoying during quarantine. They’re just him. My life would be painfully quiet without him and I bet I’d miss the sound of him the most. And those habits that can get labeled as ‘annoying’ are bringing the other person some sort of joy – and truthfully not hurting you at all. Plus – just remember that your partner probably has an equally long list of all your quirks and habits.

Carry the extra weight when you’re feeling strong.

Inevitably, one person is usually having a worse day than the other. Maybe something went wrong at work for me or Adam was feeling particularly anxious – if that was the case, the other of us (who was feeling mentally/emotionally/maybe even physically stronger) would just step up and carry the extra weight. Because we are spending so much time together I feel like we’ve become particularly in tune with spotting these signs and no longer need to wait for the other person to come out and say “I’m having a bad day, can you make dinner?” which feels like such a relief when you’re the one struggling. Don’t wait to be asked for help. Who cares if you’ve been the one to do the dishes every night that week. Don’t keep score and just carry the weight when and where you can. I’ve found it never goes unappreciated or unreciprocated.

The only constant is change.

When the world comes along and rocks the boat of your relationship – it can be easy to feel upended. You had your routines, you were comfortable. But the truth is that your circumstances – and with it your relationship – are always going to be in a state of change. Nothing can escape it. All of life is fleeting and no one has a crystal ball. So when the rug gets pulled out from under your feet – it’s important to be with someone that you can weather that change with and continue to recalibrate throughout life. Rather than someone who you are with only because your current circumstances are set up perfectly to support that happiness. This won’t be the most challenging thing that we survive together (and if it is, we’ll count our blessings) – but that’s fine. We’ll be by each other’s side. And he’ll likely be whistling a tune.

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MY 10 FAVORITE MOVIES THAT FEEL LIKE FALL

  • You’ve Got Mail – “Don’t you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” Swoon.
  • Goodwill Hunting – Collegiate, New England.. how ’bout them apples?
  • When Harry Met Sally – It’s actually our New Year’s Eve tradition to watch this movie (because of the ending), but it also happens to have some of the most quintessential scenes of New York in the Fall. It’s worth watching twice a year, no?
  • Practical Magic – 90s Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters who just so happen to be witches. It’s also worth noting that the book that this movie is based on is actually part of a trilogy – with the 3rd book coming out this October. I highly recommend the first two in the series and I’ve already preordered the new one!
  • Stepmom – Such a classic to me. It’s a tearjerker but also upstate iconic. And if you’re on a Julia Roberts kick – Mystic Pizza deserves an honorable mention on this list.
  • Moonrise Kingdom – maybe it’s that perfect Wes Anderson color palette but this movie has a definite autumnal feel to me. Same goes for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
  • Hocus Pocus – I was a kid in the 90s – can you blame me? Also SJP never ceases to delight me in her ditsy witch role.
  • Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Featuring Steve Martin and John Candy in an epic and hilarious journey to make it home for Thanksgiving. My family used to rent this on VHS when I was a kid and it still makes me think of watching it in our old living room.
  • The Craft – a must if only for all of the 90s goth-girl fashion that’s totally back in style now.
  • Remember the Titans – I’m admittedly not a football fan, but I do like this movie and for those of you that take your fall with a side of football, watching this would be a fun way to kick off the season.

What’s a movie you love that I should add to the list? I had someone suggest Knives Out which came out last year and I still want to see. Since I doubt I’ll be going to a movie theater any time soon I picture lots of cozy movie nights at home this season.

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PAST SEASON FAVORITES + NEW PURCHASES FOR FALL

The other week, I switched my closet from summer to fall and felt so excited to pull out some of my older favorites to re-wear again. While I always love adding new pieces to my wardrobe, it’s important for me to appreciate what I already have and not fall into the trap of needed all new things each season. Then last week I noticed a post from Meghan of Wit & Whimsy (a blog I always love reading) sharing what she was buying for Fall plus the pieces already in her closet that she was excited to break out again. I loved the idea so much that I knew I wanted to do a similar post. Below – the pieces that I’ll be re-wearing from season’s past (and how you can get the look) along with what I’ve bought for Fall so far.

WHAT I’VE BOUGHT FOR FALL:

  • The striped sweater shown above that is truly just perfect. It has a boxy, slightly cropped fit (I sized down to a XS) and a great weight to it. I like it with a pair of high waisted jeans and loafers.
  • I actually bought this chocolate croc bucket bag way back in summer because I’d been looking for a classic brown bag for ages and this one went on sale. It’s back to full price, but honestly for the quality and timelessness – I think it’s worth it.
  • I’ve been thinking about buying this cardigan for TWO YEARS now. And I finally bit the bullet. It’s so luxe in person and because you can wear it frontwards or backwards I really think the styling options will be endless. Thinking of doing an IGTV styling video showing 5 ways to wear it?
  • Oppositely, this crewneck sweatshirt (I’m calling the color “pumpkin spice”) was an impulse buy, but it’s already proving to be a fall staple. And it’s on sale for less than $30.

WHAT I’LL BE WEARING FROM MY CLOSET:

  • This suede jacket was another higher price point item that I saved up for 4-5 years ago and based on how many times I’ve worn it – the cost per wear is pennies now. It looks effortless thrown on with everything from jeans and a tee to a pretty dress. This year’s version is still a close match.
  • These cropped wide leg jeans were a new addition last Fall and I love the way they’re slightly more polished than my regular denim. As an added bonus they serve to nicely show off a cute pair of shoes. This pair from the same brand looks like a very close match.
The Steele Maiden - 3 Must Have Coats for Fall Travel
  • A lightweight rain jacket and rain boots always come in handy. I love how this bright yellow one has a sort of classic fisherman feel. And you can’t go wrong with Hunter Boots.
  • I reach for this classic leather saddle bag all the time in the fall. It’s big enough to hold all of your essentials plus a book (which for me is actually essential) but doesn’t look bulky. This one is an almost identical match.
The Steele Maiden Fall Style - Talbots Silk Scarf Plaid Blazer
  • A classic plaid blazer is an absolute staple in my fall wardrobe. I got this maybe 2 years ago and I still wear it on average once a week this time of year. This and this are both similar options.
The Steele Maiden: Fall Floral Maxi with Old Navy
  • This floral midi dress is 2-3 years old at this point but I always find myself excited to wear it again. This could be dressed up with heels or layered with a sweater and boots for the weekend. This option looks to be a very similar version.
  • This pink corduroy blazer was an unexpected standout of my fall wardrobe last year. It’s definitely going to be a repeat offender in Zoom calls again this year. The brand is offering a really similar version this season here.

SHOP NEW + PAST SEASON FALL FAVORITES:

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BROWN CROC ACCESSORIES FOR FALL

There’s something infinitely chic to me about brown croc print accessories – and I’m seeing them pop up everywhere this fall. I sadly don’t think I’m going to have all that many occasions to get dressed up this season, but even a bag like this one (a bit of a higher price point but I love it and know that I’ll be carrying it for years to come) dresses up a simple pair of jeans and sweater in a way that feels sophisticated and effortless. Below – my favorites that I’ve spotted around the internet.

10 Brown Croc Accessories for Fall:

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LET’S CATCH UP 9.4.20

Perhaps a little worse for the wear, but we’ve made it to the unofficial last weekend of summer. Adam and I have been in the throes of some really demanding work weeks lately and are more than ready to blissfully check out at the lake house all weekend. Hope you all have equally relaxing plans. Below – what’s on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my shopping cart.

ON MY MIND:

  • I think we are all in agreement on how crucial voting is this year. I just submitted an application to be a poll worker. As someone with flexibility in my schedule and in good health – I want to make sure that I’m doing anything I can to help the in-person process at my local polling sites go smoothly. Apply here if you’re interested.
  • Museums have finally reopened here in the city! You need to buy tickets in advance and there are plenty of safety measures in place, but I’m already planning on a trip in late September or early October so that I can see the leaves of Central Park in all their glory from the rooftop of the Met. It’s one of my absolute favorite spots in the entire city.
  • The other night Adam and I spent several hours indulging a vivid fantasy in which we buy a cottage in the English countryside. I’m talking Google maps street view down rural roads, floor plan comparisons – the whole thing. I blame @hillhousevintage and the entire #cottagecore trend.

ON MY BOOKSHELF:

  • Truly one of the best things to come out of this strange year is the fact that I started two book clubs. And we’re into our second sessions already! The virtual group is reading The Paris Hours by Alex George this month and my NYC-based group is reading The Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson.
  • I tragically once ran out of books to read at the lake and I’ll never not overpack them again. I’ve got my library copies of The Chelsea Girls and The Topeka School in my weekender bag – just in case.
  • Claire – my other half @prettwords – has been reading and raving about Andr√© Leon Talley’s (former Vogue Creative Director) memoir: The Chiffon Trenches and I’ve promptly added it to my list. In a year of sweatpants, we could all use a dose of high fashion, no?

IN MY SHOPPING CART:

  • One of my goals this year was to invest in basics. Not that they necessarily needed to be expensive – but just to put a focus on filling in the holes in my wardrobe with good, solid staples. I always find myself wishing I had a dark brown leather belt – and this one could finally solve that problem.
  • I just switched over my closet from summer to fall and have plenty of great dresses to wear again this season. But if I do add a new one to my rotation, I think it will be this Seventies-inspired floral midi dress (30% off sitewide). Belted with boots for a stroll through the park or barefoot on the couch for Saturday napping – it works either way.
  • We’ve been using this year to tie up the loose ends around the apartment. Case in point – finally getting around to hanging curtains. We worked with Calico Corners on a quick home office update back in March (see that post here) – and loved those draperies so much we moved them down into the living room. Meaning we now need to replace the office/bedroom panels. They’re running a 25% off sitewide sale right now and I can’t tell you how much it elevates a room to have true, quality window treatments. It makes me feel like a real grown-up!
  • I want to add another pair of non-denim pants to my rotation for the fall and these wide leg cropped khakis are less than $40 now and look super flattering. I like the olive green shade.
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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.