Dressing for Summer


In general, I’m not a very casual dresser. I don’t wear leggings out of the house unless I’m going to the gym and I never got on board with the whole athleisure trend. It’s not to say I don’t think it looks good on other people, it’s just not me. That being said – one casual piece mixed into with other more classic pieces feels right for a hot summer day. Case in point: these jeans shorts paired with a linen blazer, statement earrings and neutral block heels.


I’ve always just felt that life (and especially New York) is worth dressing up for. What if you run into an ex? Or a potential boss? Or a reallyyyy pretty West Village street. Dress for the neighborhood you want to live in, right?

In full disclosure, these jeans were Adam’s and were only slightly too small for him so he gave them to me to cut-off (I won’t dwell on the fact that we have nearly the same sized waist…), but pretty much every thrift store in America has a good pair of vintage Levi’s that you could do the same with. I say that because there are an somewhat alarming number of girls on Instagram wearing $150 cut-off jean shorts and raving about how amazing they are. Here’s an alternative.

And while I’m giving out advice – this bag has been one of my favorites since spring and is now on sale. It will be a wardrobe hero straight through fall. I tied on this vintage Liberty London silk scarf that I bought in a nearby vintage shop about 10 minutes before we snapped these photos. Even my bag’s like to dress up apparently.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately. How we define ourselves and how important or unimportant that really is. On a podcast I listen to (Happier with Gretchen Rubin) they recently mentioned how often we “identify” as something but actually aren’t putting in any real work there. For instance, if you call yourself an artist but haven’t actually set aside time to pick up a brush in years. You’ve got to check in every so often and make sure you’re prioritizing the identities that are most important to you.

I identify as a vintage lover, a classic style-type and a sentimentalist – it’s what makes me love holding on to clothes for years. It’s why I don’t find the idea of Rent the Runway’s unlimited program (where you basically borrow clothes to wear and return for a flat monthly fee) very enticing. There’s just no story there. You wear it once and it’s over. And for awhile I felt a bit of pressure that I needed to be wearing/sharing something on the blog that was always buyable. Something new and noteworthy. But nothing in these photos is still available to shop, and I love each of the items anyway. And I want to share them anyway. That’s what feels true to my identity.

To note, if ‘trendsetter’ is an important part of your identity then maybe you’d feel the opposite when it comes to a shopping strategy. And that’s cool too. Just recognize what feels true to you and follow that lead.

It’s why I also re-prioritized reading in my life, travel over more clothes purchases and spending time with Adam, friends and family whenever possible over quite so much work. At the end of the day, I want to be an avid reader, world-traveler, good partner, friend, sister, daughter and Aunt more than a success at Instagram. And it feels nice to remind myself of that from time to time.

Get a similar look:

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While I’m usually a dress girl in the summer, I do love a good pair of white jeans against tan skin. If you’re hesitant to wear white jeans, I think it’s best to try on lots of different cuts and styles. To help, I wanted to show you guys 3 ways to wear white jeans using 3 different cuts – 1 pair of relaxed fit, 1 skinny pair and 1 wide leg cropped pair. From work to weekend, you can watch my full IGTV try-on video here and hopefully are inspired to mix up your own white jeans look this season! Below – links to everything:




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I can’t quite put my finger on how or why but every single French girl we saw in Paris just looked so damn cool. It’s like this kind of undone, effortless confidence that they just exude that somehow makes everything they wear look better. The outfit above, on our last day in Paris, is probably the closest I got to their certain je ne sais quoi. A linen blazer and white cotton maxi dress (even better with the wrinkles), converse sneakers with cobblestone scuffs and a simple straw bag. We ate breakfast at Cafe de Flore, walked off the croissants across the Seine and then stumbled across this gorgeous little tucked away street. All was right with the world. Aside from studying up on how to master French girl cool and dreaming of a return ticket – here are a few other things on my mind this weekend:

  1. Every summer has its own magic – but doesn’t everyone have 1 or 2 summers in life that really stand out in their memory? I loved this New York Time article where 5 writers recount the ones that left the most lasting impression.
  2. I mentioned these perfect gold sandals over Memorial Day, and then I found them even further marked down here. Needless to say I’m still dreaming of them.
  3. Speaking of pinching pennies – I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing me talk about how much of a financials fanatic I’ve become this year – but if you’re like me and felt really overwhelmed by the thought of it all – I like this post on the basics regarding retirement funds.
  4. This week I’m going to a comedy club on Tuesday night for an all female-comic evening and then headed to the ballet at Lincoln Center to see their take on Jane Eyre on Wednesday. I tend to kind of hole up in the winters here so I like to make up for it in summer and get out and enjoy all this city has to offer every chance I can! I’ll report back on both events.
  5. I’m always way late to the game when it comes to beauty but I tried a hair mask for the first time recently (this one – sold in individual packets – you just apply after shampoo in the shower and leave on for 5 minutes or so then rinse) and it left my hair feeling brighter and softer. And smells so good! I’d recommend.
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My summer bucket list reads as follows:

I’m not going to check in on work emails when it’s a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m lying out in the park.

I’m not going to let it throw me off course if we stay out for just one more cold drink on a hot night and I end up skipping a workout the next morning.

I’m not going to care if I don’t always have a new outfit to post here because I have plentyyy of cute dresses already in my closet (this one included).

I’m not going to stress about spending weekends finishing up the last of our apartment projects by any set deadline, and run off to the lake house any chance I get instead.

I’m not going to compare myself to what anyone else is doing – whether that be having a baby this summer or island hopping off the coast of Greece, and instead feel content with everything I’ve got going on.

You get the point. Less worry, more in the moment, at ease, enjoyment.

And if you’re thinking – ugh, sounds nice but no one is that relaxed in reality.. what a charmed life. Know that last summer I was in such a rough spot I spent weeks, maybe months, not truly enjoying a single aspect of summer. There have been summers where I was so stressed about work and life that I spent sunny Saturday mornings in an anxiety-ridden frenzy in our old, dark apartment. So this hasn’t come easy.

Adam and I are in a sort of funny position this summer as so many around us are having babies this year (no less than 6 couples we know either had a baby this spring or are due by the fall!) and as I watch their lives dramatically change – I feel myself almost giddy with the incredible freedom of our own lives. This summer we’re going to drink margaritas and dance in the streets and go on midnight swims in the lake and sleep in late and get too much sun and anything else we damn well please. Call it selfish if you will. But I hear a lot of new parents say they wish they had reveled in this stage more. So that’s exactly what I intend to do. No aspirational list of do’s. Just a vague list of dont’s.

And while I’m having all of the aforementioned fun, I’ll likely be in simple outfits like this one. A seersucker dress, comfortable sandals (sold-out now, sorry! But they’ve got lots of other super cute options) and a cheap pair of sunglasses. Ready for you summer!



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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.