No Longer Grey

The sartorial experiments and ramblings of a girl named Sarah

Good Jeans

by Sarah on September 10, 2018, 2 comments

That’s not a finger in frame- it’s a pile of peaches!

jeans- thrifted, bodysuit- Everlane

These are good jeans. Really good jeans. Instagram clickbate where-did-she-get-those jeans. I feel comfortable bragging about them, they’re that good. Along with vintage designer handbags and the perfect leather jacket, 501’s are a thrifter’s gold. I knew these had absolutely no chance of fitting, but I also knew I had 10 years of sewing experience to fall back on, so I scooped them up for the low price of $2.50

And oh boy but did they come out well. I followed this tutorial to take them in. Basically, I took off the waistband tag and the back pockets half way, folded the excess fabric in, and sewed right down the back. On the waistband, I wasn’t going to be able to get a neat edge using a sewing machine, so I instead used two earring stud bases to pierce and hold the fabric in place. I sewed the tag and pockets back on, distressed the pockets and front fly, and called it a day.

The jeans teamed beautifully with a bodysuit from Everlane. The back of the bodysuit is really the star. It gives a mostly open back look, then scoops and has a back seam that adds just the right amount of interest. It balanced out the slouchy jeans perfectly. 

I was sewing for most of the day while wearing this outfit, hence the no-shoes look. I’ve been rediscovering my sewing machine, and it’s been so fun to experiment with fabric once again!

Packing Essentials

by Sarah on September 3, 2018, no comments

My two packing philosophies are as follows: stuff ruins trips, and destination dressing is one of the greatest sartorial joys. The first rule stems from lugging around too much stuff. The inevitable shoulder and back ache brought on by overpacking isn’t worth it. Plus, a trip is the perfect time to practice having a capsule wardrobe and squeeze the most utility out of few pieces. My second rule is what keeps me from only packing a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Going away is a chance to explore one’s style, and take tips from the locals. Having fun with the way you dress can translate to fun in the real world.

These two philosophies go against each other. They both promise different solutions to have a great trip, one through minimalism, and the other through a maximalism. So I’ve come up with some tips and tricks to reconcile the two notions! Read on for my travel packing list. 

1. A piece that can be dressed up or down. My go to is a pair of overalls. Granted, these can’t be super dressy, but they work for anything from museum hopping to a casual meal out. A jumpsuit or a dress are also great options. Dresses are especially good, as they can serve as the most formal option you pack while still being totally appropriate for most situations. Choose a material that can take you from the plane to a dinner out (see more ideas here!). You can also go separates, but those take up more physical space, so pack wisely.

2. Casual pants. I’m a big proponent of pants, regardless of the season. In the summer, go for some wide legged linen trousers, and the winter, your favorite pair of jeans. Bottoms take up more space than tops, so even just having one or two pairs should be sufficient for most trips. Joggers, leggings and yoga pants work too, if you’re comfortable wearing them for more than just the plane ride. If you’re concerned about the weather, channel your inner tourist and wear some convertible pants. Hey, functionality is chic.

3. One pair of casual shoes that don’t give you blisters, and one pair that can be dressed up. Just be aware of what you’re going to be doing- if you’re going hiking, bring hiking shoes, if you’re going to fashion week, bring weird shoes. I’m a big proponent of white sneakers, so I’ll normally pack those, and at least one other thing. If it’s winter, black Chelsea boots are my go to, and in the summer, a pair of loafers. I try to bring only shoes I know won’t tear up my feet, because blisters while traveling are truly terrible.

4. A tee shirt. For longer trips, I’ll pack a white, black, and striped tee. They’re good to sleep in, good to throw on with the aforementioned casual pants, and the perfect tee is about as basic as it gets. Truly, your travel wardrobe needs one.

Obviously, you’ll need to pack a little more, but these are my can’t-leave-home-without-them essentials. What are your travel wardrobe must haves? Let me know in the comments!

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The DC Dress Code

by Sarah on August 28, 2018, no comments

  • A typical work outfit. The pants are Aritzia, top is Zara, and shoes and blazer are Everlane. Also, please note that the Windex bottle matches my shoes.

 

I wore a suit for 3 months. Not a bathing suit, not a body suit, a button down shirt and blazer ensemble that could only be described as “western business attire”. Terrible, right? I was interning in the U.S Senate, a place where legislature and good fashion go to die, and those three words were my dress code.

All jokes aside, it wasn’t that bad. Stifling, yes. Uncomfortable, yes. I know how to dress up, and I’ve worn some crazy looks- dresses over shorts, two skirts at once, a prom dress in the middle of November- but it takes a certain kind of confidence to wear a suit. You’re always buttoning and re-buttoning, adjusting your pants, or pulling up a sock. It’s exhausting.

Dressing professionally is hard. It requires a certain level of investment into good clothing, and a willingness to dress monotonously. And working in a place where most people wear ill fitting and uninteresting (though incredibly expensive) suits stifles any creative dressing urge. To fit in, you have to look put together, but not like you tried. It’s the ultimate French girl paradox, except the goal isn’t to look Parisian but to look like you belong on C-Span.

Throughout my internship, and with a good deal of trial and error, I uncovered a few fashion gems, and a few tricks. Read on for a few, and be sure to let me know what you think!

  1. It doesn’t really matter. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. I spent hours agonizing over my work wardrobe. Did I have enough blazers? Were my shoes too fun? Should I bother with pantyhose? In the end, how I was dressed wasn’t super important. For most of the day, I sat in a cubicle and absolutely no one saw if my pants matched my jacket. The quote “If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable” seems to be the header on everyone’s fashion moodboard.
  2. But dressing well can help. On the last day of my internship, I got a compliment from the senator I was interning from (and she asked where my blazer was from). It was tiny, but that little recognition that I was dressing well was something other people did notice. Plus, enclothed cognition is a thing.
  3. You don’t need a lot. If you’re working as a staffer or as an intern, a blazer is a must. You have to wear a blazer on the Senate floor, even if you’re a baby. I had one black fitted blazer, and one grey herringbone oversized one. That was plenty. Nobody cared if I rewore them, and the two allowed me to play with proportions and have different looks. Most people in the office would take off their blazer once they were in (there are actually special cabinets meant to hang jackets). Plus, on days when the senate is out of session, staffers all wear jeans and no blazer is necessary. When the cats are away, the mice decide to stage a fashion coup.
  4. Bags also don’t matter. Some interns carry backpacks (if you’re a staffer, this is something I would not do. It makes you look like an intern). Most male staffers carry an atrocious black messenger bag. A leather or canvas tote works well.
  5. When in doubt, a suit is the best way to go. The dress code for my office was not too tight and not too short. I had no idea what this really meant- who’s to decide? Lots of women in the office wore pencil skirts, but I don’t love that look on me, so I stuck to trousers, a button down, and a blazer. It was very Hillary, very Annie Hall, very Miranda. It made me feel cool.
  6. Buy quality, but don’t spend a lot. I got most of my pieces from Everlane (with an employee discount), Aritzia (on sale) or in vintage shops. It’s important to get pieces that look nice, and will be comfortable enough to wear for eight hours while sitting in a dinky office chair, but there’s no need to get a $200 blazer. I scored a couple of higher end pieces while thrifting, but places like Everlane, Aritzia, Uniqlo and the Gap have great workwear for not a lot of money.
  7. Don’t let the bad suits get to you. Sometimes it was all too much for me, and I would have to put on my bright red heels and look at pictures of Nancy Pelosi rocking an orange suit.

Thoughts? Feel like strutting your stuff in a suit? Let me know in the comments!

What would you do if you were not afraid?

by Sarah on August 21, 2018, 2 comments

I started the scariest year of my life safely tucked away in the Green Mountains. I was working as a camp counselor teaching pottery, which is perhaps the least scary activity one can do. But in a twist of events, after camp I was not to go off to college, as originally intended. I had a whole year to do with what I wanted. For an 18 year old who had been at work or school for four years straight, that much time was terrifying.

The best piece of advice I got this year, when I was first deciding whether or not to take a gap year, was to do what I would do if I was not afraid. It was even better advice than to take the R to the Barclays center and then transfer to the N in order to shave 20 minutes off of one’s journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and when asked like that, what I would do if I were not afraid, there was only one way forwards.

Summer ended. I got home from camp and my life slowed down. I loved settling back into my old routine, a routine I though I had lost forever. But as I was rediscovering old habits, going back to my old job, and slowing my pace, my friends were speeding off to college. While I was happy, it felt like I was the one watching from behind while they all went on to have the time of their lives and grew up.

                                                       A shoot I did early in this year, mid job application anxiety

I spent the first month at home furiously rewriting my resume, applying to jobs, thinking and planning for the year ahead. I was jealous of my peers, all of whom I thought had seamlessly transitioned to college and were having bigger and better lives than mine could ever be. I had no foresight, no end game, and by the end of the month, greatly depleted hope of ever getting a job. It felt like I was wearing glasses with the lenses taped over, rendering me in the dark and fumbling.

With October finally came change. I started working a lot more, which gave me something to do. I threw myself into blogging. And then, finally, something clicked. I got an email from two companies, asking me for an interview.

Twice in one week I made the trek to New York. I was offered two jobs; the first good, the second my fantasy. The best feeling I know is walking through Washington Square park after getting your dream job with autumn air hitting your cheeks.

                                          I did this shoot minutes before receiving my official job offer from Everlane

I packed my bags and moved to New York. I lived alone. I was scared out of my mind. My first night when I turned out the lights, I found out that it’s never truly dark in New York. The lights of Brooklyn were my new nigh light, the streetlamp my new moon.

I won’t pretend living in New York is easy. It isn’t. It’s expensive, noisy, crowded, full of unidentifiable sludge. I worked long hours, all on my feet, in a largely customer service oriented role. I was the youngest of all of my co workers by four years. When I moved to the city, I knew less than 10 people. Even on my second to last day in New York I took the wrong train and ended up 50 blocks south of where I wanted to be.

                                                             My third day in New York City, with Laverne the Fern

It’s hard to explain why I loved it so much. All I can say is if you love New York, you’ll understand. It’s the only place I’ve been where people can complain all day about the city but could never imagine wanting to live anywhere else.

But then, in a twist of fate mirroring my unexpected Everlane interview, I was offered a position working in DC as a press intern for a senator. I thought politics could be interesting- what’s better than getting to change the world? Even as an intern, I would get to see it happen.

So I took another leap. At the end of January I left New York, and moved to DC. I was starting over again.

                                                   My last day in New York. Clearly I had yet to pack up the kitchen.

In a lot of ways, DC is much better than New York. The museums are free. There’s lots of room on the sidewalk, lots of paths and parks made for pedestrians. It’s a city built to be beautiful and inspiring. My job in DC didn’t involve standing for long periods of time, or working with tricky customers. I was reading the news, drafting press releases, working in the senate building.

My charger died at this point, and so I have a lack of photos from DC. This is one of the only ones that made it. My face says it all.

But it wasn’t right for me. I knew that from my first week. I loved parts, but the city itself never quite felt like home. And so I got to learn from that, to see what I don’t like, just as much as I got to see what I did like. I’ll forever be grateful for the experiences and knowledge gained in my time there.

And then it was over. My internship ended, I moved back home. Except this time it didn’t feel like a regression, but like a privilege. It was the same place I knew and loved, but I could see why I loved it so much after being away from it.

                                                     One of my last days at my internship! And some lemon socks too.

The next months were the easiest. I traveled, I saw friends. There were moments of stress, times when I wished I was back in New York, and very occasionally DC. But I tried to hold onto the sense of gratitude I had, for all that I got to see and learn and experience throughout the year.

                                                                       A New York visit, taken on my 19th birthday.

And now it’s time for the next chapter. I’m headed off to college. When this post is published, I’ll have just gotten onto campus for the first time as a freshman, to drop my bags and then head on an outdoor adventure. It’s scary.

                                                                  Ready to take on the next challenge

It’s not that I’m not afraid anymore. And it’s not that I’m magically someone who jumps at every chance, who loves the feeling of taking a huge risk. It’s that I know I can be scared but end up alright, or even better than I was before.

I’m so excited to see what the next chapter will bring.

What I Would Wear if it Weren’t 90 Degrees

by Sarah on August 6, 2018, one comment

Out of the office, because it’s summer, and my outfits for the past week have consisted of a bathing suit and a healthy plastering of sunblock. Here’s what I will be wearing once it’s cool enough to actually put on clothes again:

What’s your cool weather outfit plan?