Dressing for Winter

A WEEK OF REAL OUTFITS: 1-12-21

I always find myself hitting reset on my wardrobe in January and going back to basics. Usually we’re coming off a season full of sparkles – and although it was more like a season full of sweatpants this holiday season, it still feels good to be getting up these first couple of weeks of the year and putting on a real outfit.

Below – the outfits I’ve worn this past week. If anything was older or unavailable to shop, I linked a similar item.

BACK TO BACK ZOOM MEETINGS:

This dress is quickly becoming my go to for instant polish. I found this lace blouse on major sale and I love the way it adds a little interest to the look while still being neutral.

MORNING WALK AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

I got these boots and high-rise flare jeans back in the Fall and I’ve worn the combo countless times since. A navy sweater and silk scarf feels a little bit retro, a little bit modern.

LUNCH DATE:

Last weekend, we took advantage of a warm afternoon and grabbed lunch outside at one of our favorite neighborhood spots. I can’t wait to wear this dress with bare legs come spring, but until then – tights, boots and a headband for good measure. This print looks to be sold out now, so I linked two other prints still available.

AFTERNOON AT HOME:

While I like a pair of sweatpants as much as the next person, a stretchy pair of jeggings and a simple top is a nice alternative when you want to feel a little more put together. I love the subtle ruffle on the sleeves and peter pan collar details on this shirt.

CASUAL FRIDAY:

My no-fail combo is a simple pair of jeans, t-shirt and a great oversized blazer. I usually pair with my favorite lucky charms (mostly vintage charms and mine + my grandmother’s ring) and throw on a scarf if I’m heading out at lunch to grab a Diet Coke.

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SIMPLE JOYS THIS SEASON

From the general consensus that I’ve gathered on the internet – a lot of us are struggling right now. We’re tired from the election/news cycle, we’re missing our family and friends, we feel daunted by the thought of renewed Covid-19 restrictions (my dear friend in Minnesota just went into full lockdown again in their town), we’re sad that the holidays won’t look like normal this year. I get it. And I feel all of it too.

My family just made the tough decision not to gather for Thanksgiving this year – a first for us all aside from the year that Adam and I were in LA. My brother in law traveled recently so he needs to quarantine, my niece and nephew are still in daycare, Adam still works in the office – so even to have just my immediate family together (3 different households) would put my parents at risk who are in regular contact out of necessity with my two grandparents, both in their 90s. A meal together just didn’t feel worth the risk.

Which means Adam and I will celebrate here in the city for the first time. Since I wasn’t about to attempt to cook a full turkey dinner in our small kitchen, we ordered a multi-course meal from a favorite local restaurant (Friend of A Farmer) to-go. It feels like a great way to support a local business and also get something that still feels special. In a situation that felt like sort of a bummer, I’m now really looking forward to a small, quiet holiday – just the two of us.

It’s that approach of focusing on simple joys that I’m trying to take to heart for the whole rest of this uncertain season. I’m talking Little Women-era basics at this point. The things that you’re otherwise always too busy to slow down and really revel in. Things that feel cozy and content. Here are a few of the simple joys I plan on indulging in this season.

  • Pick up a holiday scented candle (this one is a favorite) and string some lights. Now that it gets dark early I find the warm glow so comforting in the evening.
  • Treat yourself to a new flavor of tea or coffee to make at home. I’ve been loving a cup of peppermint tea in the evenings while I read.
  • Take a long, hot bath – extra bubbles too.
  • Handwrite letters (or holiday cards!) to friends and family that you might not get to see in person this season. Mail like that really makes people’s day.
  • Bake something – even if it’s out of a box. We just got a gingerbread mix from Trader Joe’s I’m excited to try. I love when the whole apartment smells like something fresh out of the oven.
  • Devour a new show – I mentioned on IG stories but The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is incredible and I’m planning to dive into the latest season of The Crown today (Princess Diana here I come!) – or have a holiday movie marathon. Love Actually is always my favorite.
  • Play an old-fashioned board game. We bought Scrabble last year and it’s one of our favorite at-home date nights. We usually mix up a cocktail and put on our favorite records too. Finding an online game to play with a friend could be great too though!
  • Speaking of cocktails – is there anything a homemade hot toddy can’t solve? If whiskey’s not your thing – substitute a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
  • Pick up a new book and get lost in it for an afternoon. I’m currently reading Royal Holiday which is super sweet. And I plan on sharing a whole round-up of other cute holiday-themed books soon!

Sometimes simple joys are the best kind.

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(Wrap + Corduroys c/o Talbots, Ballet Flats c/o Margaux NY – enjoy 10% off your order with code: STEELE10)

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HOW TO SHOP YOUR OWN CLOSET

Is anyone else doing a ‘no shopping’ January? Last year was the first time I ever tried this feat of anti-fashion.. and you know what? It was a cinch. And it effectively helped push me in the direction of truly understanding what my closet needed or didn’t need. What I loved to wear and what I merely owned to own. I’m doing it again this month and quite fittingly, I also happened to have a couple of reader requests for tips on how to shop you closet. So here goes.

My first tip is to clear your closet. I used to stare into a packed closet and feel sort of ‘meh’. And it’s because so many of the pieces were wrong for me. They never really fit right or they weren’t my style anymore (or frankly ever). And so at a glance it felt like I had nothing to wear. I used to try on 2-3 outfits in the mornings before finally settling on something. But then last January I drastically cleared my closet. Essentially keeping only what ‘sparked joy’ if you will. With only pieces left that fit my figure and my style – it made it so much easier to shop my closet and look at what remained with fresh eyes.

From there – every time the season changes and I’m tempted to fill my closet with say, all the new pretty spring things, I do this trick instead. I look at some of my favorite brand’s websites and instead of thinking of the individual items I’d buy – I look at the styling of the clothes. So many times I realize that I have similar items and can just style them in a new way. Maybe a long cardigan would love totally new belted over a dress. Or I’ll get an idea for a new color combo (seen here – light brown, teal and sky blue). I swear so many times when you walk into a store or browse a website, what you’re falling in love with is the styling and you don’t need the individual pieces at all.

And after that – it’s all about accessories. Dig out a silk scarf and tie it around a bag you’ve had for ages. Put on a fun pair of statement earrings with an everyday sweater. I find when I’m really utilizing all the tools in my arsenal so to speak – the options feel endless. Pro tip: organize your belts, scarves and jewelry in a way that you can actually see them and easily access them. It will make all the difference.

Happy shopping (the things you already own)!

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THOUGHTS ON SUBSCRIPTION SHOPPING + AN HONEST REVIEW OF NUULY

If you have been following along, you already know that last January I made a major shift in how I viewed money and shopping. I overhauled my personal finances, completed a “no shopping” January (which led to 3 other “no shop” months throughout the year) and donated or sold probably a quarter of my wardrobe.

Now, when I add a new piece to my wardrobe it’s thought out and strategic. Can I wear it multiple ways? Does it reflect who I want to be? If I waited a couple of weeks would I still want it? If it was full-priced would I still want it? It’s been a strategy serving me well this past year and it truly helped to break that unnecessary urge to always have something “new”. Not to mention it’s far more sustainable as I wasn’t constantly picking up fast fashion that I probably wouldn’t wear for more than a season or two.

But what if you could have that something new feeling without financially committing? I’ve heard plenty of people (blogger’s especially who always want to have new things to wear) rave about shopping subscriptions like Rent the Runway and I have to admit – I was curious. So when Nuuly – from the geniuses behind Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters/Free People – reached out to offer me a free 3 month subscription, I knew I wanted to give it a try. After 3 free months I paid for one additional month so far just so I’d have a true customer experience.

The Pros: You get to pick 6 items of clothing each month for $89/month. They handle all of the dry cleaning, repairs etc. so what you get looks brand new. Overall, I thought the selection was great with brands you’d find at Nordstrom and Shopbop plus new arrivals from Anthro, Urban and FP. I gravitated towards more fashion/trend pieces – a fun coat, a statement dress – that I otherwise would have been tempted by on a trip to Anthropologie, but saved myself the $200 price tag and the need to make permanent room for it in my closet. And usually at the end of the month, I was fine returning the pieces.

The Cons: I’ve mentioned before but I’m a sentimental person, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. If I have a particularly great memory while wearing something – it’s very hard for me to let it go. Which means after I wore this perfect sequin dress to a holiday concert with Adam.. I couldn’t part with it. The upside is that you can buy items at a pretty good discount and don’t have to ship them back. However, if I hadn’t been trying this service – I likely would have not been tempted to get something new for the concert. So if you’re someone who is going to be easily tempted – this could actually end up make you buying more.

Overall? I like the concept. For something like a vacation or the holiday season, I think it’s a really great way – for a relatively low cost – to have a fun assortment of pretty new things to wear. Like this cute minty fresh jacket. Or if you’re in a transitional phase like a new mom or someone who is kind of figuring out there style – I think this is such a great way to get to try things on and see what you like before committing your closet to a direction or size.

But if I were to do it every single month, I kind of feel like it would eat away at the mindset I worked so hard to achieve – which is the feeling that what I have is enough and I don’t always need more, more, more… new, new, new. And, for someone who is set on building a closet full of things I love that carry memories I want to hold on to – the fleeting nature isn’t really in line with that. I’m going to hit pause on my subscription for next month, but may use it again in March when we’ve got a warm weather trip planned!

I’m curious if any of you have tried subscription shopping and what your thoughts have been? P.S. If you’re interested in trying Nuuly they gave me an offer code to share that gets you $20 off your first month. – this post wasn’t sponsored, but as mentioned my first 3 month trial was gifted.

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A WEEK OF REAL OUTFITS: 12-11-19

I’ve been asked before if how I dress “on the blog” is how I dress in real life – and the answer is, about 80% of the time yes. I’m not photographing the days I’m in leggings on the couch (which has been basically the past 4 days since I got hit with a cold/cough that wouldn’t quit), but other than that – these outfits are the things that I truly reach for in my closet. And since between the cold and the rainy New York weather I didn’t take any proper “blog” photos last week I thought it would be fun to share some real life snaps of my outfits. While I’m not sure I can keep up with this weekly, I think next year I’m going to try and include a real life outfit recap at least once a month!

OUTFIT 1 (ABOVE) FOR SUNDAY SHOPPING + ERRANDS:

OUTFIT 2 (ABOVE) FOR A BUSY TUESDAY AT THE OFFICE:

OUTFIT 3 (ABOVE) FOR WEDNESDAY MEETINGS:

OUTFIT 4 (ABOVE) FOR A CASUAL FRIDAY AT WORK:

OUTFIT 5 (ABOVE) FOR A FESTIVE HOLIDAY CONCERT:

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.