Madewell

StitchFix me up

Have you ever noticed that when you want to go buy some really cute new clothes you can never find anything even remotely interesting yet the minute you are officially not shopping, like say because you want to pay off your debts so you can make a lifestyle change, you find about a million things you need to have right now? Because that shit happens to me every time I try to practice fiscal restraint. For months I have not really shopped (Target clothes do not count, especially not the super cute Lilly Pulitzer stuff coming out in two weeks) and then when I did start to check out my favorite stores a few weeks ago there was not one single thing I could muster any enthusiasm for. I mean usually after months of wearing winter gear the first summery item I see in a store I want then and there, even if I have no chance of wearing it for months. Now either I had suddenly aged out of the frivolous clothes shopping experience that I have spent a lifetime cultivating or the stores were the problem, and because I believe very strongly in the theory that it is never me and always them, the stores were to blame and I was going to have to try something different to get my shopping mojo back on track.

Pink and green, a color match made in fashion heaven!

Pink and green, a color match made in fashion heaven

Since I am not a millennial I have not hopped on the monthly subscription box bandwagon, especially not the skin care/cosmetic ones like Beautybox or Birchbox as that seemed like a pretty slippery slope for someone like me who is not only a SephoraVIB times eleventy but has now also achieved Ulta Platinum status in less than a year because Ulta is pretty awesome and not just full of discount store brands anymore. But then I started to hear about StitchFix and was intrigued, I know a couple of people who have received fixes, both with mixed results, but I am a glass half-full sort of person when it comes to clothes and my usual stores were bumming me out so I decided to dip my toe into this new fangled shopping pond and carefully filled out my style profile.

Oops, looks like I forgot to mention that I am not currently pregnant!

Drats, looks like I forgot to mention that I am not currently  pregnant

After you answer a lot of questions you get to look at pictures of clothes and accessories and say whether or not you like them, kind of like Tinder but with clothes so way better and just like I would probably feel about the dudes on Tinder I hardly liked any of them. I also pinned a bunch of looks I liked to Pinterest which is a popular online scrap-booking thing that I try to pretend doesn’t exist like SnapChat yet neither is showing any signs of disappearing from the planet as MySpace and those annoying AOL CD things that used to be everywhere have graciously done. Between the profile and the pinning, I figured my fairly boring fashion tastes would be pretty easy for my stylist to figure out.

 

As Iggy Azalia would say "Fancy" and just like her music this look is not for me

As Iggy Azalea would say “Fancy” and just like her music this flowery lacey look is not for me

 

Now this is a little more like it, except for the scarf, can't do those, my hair just gets all caught up in them

This is a little more like it, except for the scarf because as Darryl Hall & John Oates would say I can’t go for that

Now I might not care two whits about this Aussie wanna-be rapper lady with the Kardashian-inspired inflated ass but I do kind of like this video, because it’s an homage to one of the best movies ever, Clueless which gave the world Paul Rudd and for that we must be forever thankful and I am.

I put the delivery out a few weeks since it was not very spring-like yet and I was working on losing some of my winter weight* all the while maintaining my no clothes shopping/more fiscally responsible existence. Then I got the email that my Fix was in transit and I have to admit I was pretty excited. My mail person usually comes before I leave for work except of course for this day because I actually wanted to go to the mailbox instead of forcing myself like I normally do. I go to work and forget about my box of goodies until later on when I come home and see it sitting next to my door while my mail is jammed inside, which is either super-sweet or super-judgy of my mail person since they obviously know I am not a regular visitor to my mailbox and this may be their passive-aggressive Minnesota way to let me know what they think about my lack of responsible postal behavior.

The box is not very large but has already caught the attention of the two cats who live with me because they can smell cardboard from a mile away like they are supposed to be able to sniff out rodents only they don’t because they suck at doing cat work-related things and are complete and utter slackers.

This was definitely not in my style profile

This was definitely not in my style profile

I take the box into the spare bedroom and remove the tissue wrapped items inside. I make a conscious decision NOT to look at any of the paper work until after I examine the clothes and try everything on. The first thing I see is a black one-button knit jacket thing, interesting. I own about ten jackets and could not remember the last time I wore any of them. Next up is a cute black sleeveless pin-tucked slinky material shirt followed by a bright red short-sleeve blousey-thing that I would never pick out in a million years. When the third shirt is also made of a similarly slinky material I start to wonder if the stylist ever looked at my Pinterest board that I spent like a whole half-hour of my life working on because it sure doesn’t look like it.

The last item in my Fix is a pair of legging-like pull-on black pants that made me wish I had started my one salad a day winter weight reduction plan a whole lot sooner. I honestly was not looking forward to putting any of it on, but I had just bought an awesome shirt at Madewell that the super helpful sales-teen brought me to try on when they did not have the size I wanted in a sweater of the same color and I loved it, so perhaps I should just leave these things in the hands of the professionals, even if they are seventeen?

Shirts, pants and a jacket oh my!

Shirts, pants and a jacket oh my!

Full disclosure, growing up in the fashion wasteland also known as the 70’s, there was one thing I hated wearing more than anything else and that was polyester clothing. I can still remember a fight I had with my mom because she wanted me to wear these maroon pull-on pants to some event that were itchy and scratchy and I hated them yet I wore them but my intense dislike of petroleum-derived clothing has not changed a bit since that day and they are definitely not at all the way I like it.

The black pin-tucked shirt is awkward to put on, the head hole is way too tiny and I don’t even have a larger-than-average head. It’s cute enough, but too tight so not a keeper. I try the bright red short sleeve blouse-y thing next and it too is a little tight and makes me wonder if the size I think I am and the size I really am are two completely different things. Scary thought. Luckily the grid pattern shirt fits fine and is so flipping cute I can ignore its humble man-made beginnings and just love it for what it is now and not for what it once was. I put on the knit jacket and as the Brits would say am gobsmacked at how professional I look which is kind of sad considering I am a professional and have been for many years. After the hit-and-miss sizing issue with the first couple of shirts it is with great trepidation that I pull on the pants and they are AMAZE-BALLS!! Super flattering (even given my obvious problems with winter weight gain), comfortable, slim but in a good non-constraining kind of way. I love these pants so much that if they were a guy (preferably one that looks like Paul Rudd) I would marry them at first sight no questions asked.

So not my normal look

So not my normal look which is surprisingly okay

After I come down from my amaze-balls pants high I decide to look over the paperwork and that is when I find out in a note from my stylist Lily (probably not her real name) that the reason none of the items in my Fix looked at all like what I had pinned was that I forgot to send the link which is kind of a problem yet I didn’t care because had the other two shirts fit I would have kept them as well and gotten the 25% discount you get when you keep all five items. The items in my box ranged from $68 to $98 with the amaze-balls pants being the most expensive and grid patterned shirt the least. You get to set your price limits so there are cheaper and more expensive options to choose from. StitchFix gives you three days to try the pieces on before you decide what you want to keep and what you want to return. You can choose how often you want to get the boxes or just do it once. Overall I was pretty pleased with what Lily the stylist and StitchFix chose for me and would definitely do it again in the future since sometimes it is kind of fun to have someone other than you pick out your clothes once in a while.

* A couple of years back when London had the summer Olympics they also had a very cool David Bowie fashion retrospective at the Victoria & Albert Museum (one of my faves) and Kate Moss did a fashion shoot wearing one of the thin white duke’s jumpsuits but it had to be altered because she was too big for it. Can you imagine how skinny Bowie was in his Ziggy Stardust days for Kate Moss, the woman who epitomized heroin-chic in the modeling world, to be too fat for his clothes? 

 

Just imagine how skinny Bowie had to be in the 70’s if Kate Moss was too fat for his clothes. 

Totally worth it–the life edition

I am a Taurus and like all Taurus’s we like material things much more than say the average Gemini or Scorpio. Taureans like to buy stuff, functional stuff, not so functional stuff, just a whole lot of stuff. When we find something that we want we generally have to have it sooner rather than later which is why none of us is named Warren Buffet, because while we are excellent at finding things to buy, for ourselves and even for other people, some of us are not so excellent at saving money to do so. I honestly can’t remember a time when there wasn’t something I wanted to have which currently is a rather pricey hair dryer, and given my poor track record with hair dryers is probably not a very good investment. I am intrigued though and that is not a good sign for my checking account.

The fact that there are so very many things out there to want kind of makes life worth living, in fact, if there ever comes a day that I don’t want something in the future than I am either brain-dead or dead-dead because that is precisely what keeps me going. There are many barriers to wanting many things, money being the biggest. Adding to that problem is that given the choice between say a passable, okay version of whatever I might want or the super-duper deluxe version I am pretty much going to want the latter. This started for me at a very young age. One of my earliest memories involves a red velvet coat with mink trim (no judging, I was only three years old), that was at a local department store, the one my father worked for so we got a discount (I learned to calculate 25% off  before I could read) and I remember being pretty upset when it seemed like they were trying to fob off an inferior coat on me. Long story short I got the one I wanted and wore it until I outgrew it and my mother gave it away. Since then there have been many metaphorical red velvet coats with mink trims in my life, some of which I though I would share because they are totally worth checking out. Not all of them are even expensive, but even if they do cost a bit more than their cheaper counterparts, they are better built, better looking and also a much better investment in the long run. Just not the type of investment Mr. Buffet probably recommends.

Loyal, artistic, independent, materialistic but only in a good way

Loyal, artistic, independent, materialistic and just a little stubborn when need be

Sonic Care Toothbrush: My Sonicare toothbrush and I go way back, in fact I can’t even remember how long I have had it, which only goes to prove that while it costs more than a regular electric toothbrush it is worth it. Mine hasn’t been able to hold a charge properly for about a year and now it can’t even make it through a two minute toothbrushing cycle without pooping out on me so it’s only a matter of days before it goes to that great big toothbrush heaven in the sky and I will be super sad because I can’t possibly live without my Sonicare.  That is not even me being all overly dramatic and all because if you ask any hygienist or dentist they will rave about Sonicare toothbrushes too. Did you know that human teeth were only designed to last about forty years, since that was about how long humans used to last before modern medicine, education and science practically doubled our life expectancy? Since forty is in my rear-view mirror I am not taking any chances and a new Sonicare is in my very near future.

There should be an adult version of the tooth fairy for these kind of things. Unless that is what my FSA is for?

There should be an adult version of the tooth fairy for this.

In the years since I bought my last one, the Sonicare offerings have become much more plentiful and even more impressive with prices running the gamut from the not-so-bad to the OMFG that much money for a toothbrush price range. But I swear they are worth it and since I am not really prone to cavities I have to be all worried about my gums and these toothbrushes can be your ally in the fight against the horrors of periodontal disease or your teeth expiring way before you do which would be majorly uncool. Now I just have to decide if I want the one with the UV sanitizer (one less thing for me to clean) or the Diamond one (more attractive but more expensive), hmm, it’s like the Sophie’s choice of toothbrushes. All I know is whichever one I end up with, one thing is for sure, I am going to accessorize the heck out of it.

Tiny Wigs – watch more funny videos

 

Fitbit: Yes it’s true, my Fitbit and I just recently celebrated our first anniversary and what a glorious year it has been. I am not sure what we are getting each other to celebrate (no cake or ice cream, please), but I am sure that this relationship is forever, no more unreliable bad boyfriend-like pedometers for me. The Fitbit was practically invented for people like me who are known to be a bit competitive and slightly obsessive. If I don’t get at least ten thousand steps in a day I will run around my house like a crazy person freaking out all the animals who can only assume that a tornado is imminent (we have practiced this when the sirens have gone off but the cats don’t cooperate and are not even nice about being saved so in the unlikely event there ever is an actual tornado they are on their own, like this kitty). I am not quite to the David Sedaris level of Fitbit crazy, I think the most I have ever had logged in one day was 23,000 and half of those  were done while I was terrified walking across hanging bridges in the Costa Rican rain forest, something I will NEVER do again. The hanging bridges that is, not Costa Rica, I would go back there in a heartbeat but next time I will keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, not swaying in the breeze thousand of feet above certain death.

 

Dualit Toaster: Never underestimate the power of good toast, and while you are at it never underestimate the beauty of a good-looking toaster. Sure, there are about as many toasters to choose from in the marketplace as a certain Minnesota football player with the initials AP appears to have children (roughly a thousand), but there is only one truly gorgeous toaster in the world and it will set you back a bit, $250 to be exact, However, just like Stonehenge, the MINI Cooper and Tom Hardy, there are just some things design-wise that the British do better than anyone else and the Dualit toaster is one of them.

How much for Tom Hardy AND a puppy?

Perfection. The puppy is not bad either

One of my friend’s father was very particular about his toast and would routinely send it back at restaurants if it was not up to his standards. He wasn’t rude about it, he just had toast expectations which I think we all do. Some people like their toast barely toasted, some people like theirs charred (I like mine somewhere in between) but no matter, this baby can handle anything, even bagels and other super chubby bread products, no problem. I have had mine for ten years and it still looks brand spanking new. If its good enough for the Barefoot Contessa it is good enough for you too.

Definitely cheaper than Tom Hardy but probably more expensive than the pitty

A little bit spendy but a whole lot of sexy

 

Madewell High Riser Jeans: shopping for jeans is not the most fun thing in the world to do and while perhaps not as self-deflating as swimsuit shopping can be it nonetheless requires a certain mindset. For the last decade or so the only jeans you could find were low rise, sometimes so ridiculously low that the zippers were about two inches long. Now there are only a few people in the world of billions who look good in those kind of jeans and none of them is named me. I don’t care what you weigh low-rise jean gives most people, even skinny ones, muffin tops. I am kinda short but I have a long waist and absolutely none of those jeans ever felt very comfortable to me. Really it’s no wonder people dress like slobs on airplanes these days, tiny space + uncomfortable pants = very low fashionability.

Low rise jeans were the bane of my existence and while they have gotten a bit less low over the years, they still were not my idea of perfection. That is until I got one of the seventeen emails a day I get from Madewel that said they had new high riser jeans. I was intrigued, could these new jeans actually come within the same area code of my belly button? I went to Madewell the very next day and tried on the Alley Straight High Riser jeans even though it was still hot out and I was not even remotely ready for fall let alone jean wearing weather.

Man, I have legs for miles in these things!

Man, I have legs for miles in these things!*

For the first time in forever I put on a pair of jeans that not only fit but were also super comfortable, it was like jean nirvana had finally been achieved. I hate to admit I have spent more on jeans than these cost me ($128) but I would rather not pay that much again so here is a tip for you, Madewell will give you $20 off a new pair of their jeans if you bring in an old pair of yours for them to recycle into insulation. They can be as low-rise and as ratty as you currently have shoved in a closet somewhere so while the low-risers might not have been very good at keeping your bottom warm they will soon turn into something that will keep multiple bottoms warm. And that my friend is a very good thing.

 

Roku: As you can tell by the amount of blog posts dedicated to non-American episodic television shows I am a major streaming queen. In a pinch I have watched shows on my phone (desperate), on my computer (less desperate, still not ideal) but I much prefer to use a Roku. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to watch TV on a TV. I liked my original Roku so very much that I bought a second one when I replaced my big old tube TV this summer.

1000+ channels? What are you waiting for!

1000+ channels? What are you waiting for!

One of the nicest things about Rokus is that you can pick and choose from a bunch of different channels, some for pay and some for free. Lots of basic cable channels have their own Roku channels as well as PBS (Downton Abbey fans will love that feature), and there are also some obscure quirky little channels where you can find things you can’t on Amazon or Netflix. The new streaming stick is super cheap, less than fifty bucks ($49.99) which is pretty reasonable and half the cost of Apple TV, which I still want in the near future though so I can get rid of the great Satan in my house otherwise known as Comcast.

Replacements: twenty plus years and 150% worth the wait. Yes, it was a not-so-balmy 52 degrees out and there were now two replacement Replacements since I last saw them but that did not matter to me, the band or the other 13,999 people at Midway. The ‘Mats were so good that even if I would have had to pay a scalper to be there (which I did not), it would have been worth every penny and a privilege to do so, which is why if they ever play another show I highly recommend you attend.

 

 * not really Oh-Amy’s legs in Madewell jeans, but she can dream, can’t she?