Lent. 40 days and 40 nights of depriving oneself of temptation and vice. I’m not a big one for omitting things from my life. Saying no. Self control. Which isn’t always a good thing. So, in an effort to streamline my life, I’m going to try to give up shopping for Lent. 40 days with no UPS special deliveries. No tissue wrapped goodies. Nothing bright, shiny, new and unsullied by its presence in my life.
So here are the rules: From yesterday, March 5, through Easter Sunday, April 20, I’m going to try not to buy any new clothes, jewelry, makeup, beauty products, books, CDs*, DVDs, fancy wine or other nonessential items. Exceptions may be made if a staple item becomes unusable or if I run out of something and don’t have a viable replacement. I mean, if I rip a hole in my dark skinny jeans, I’m not going to go through Lent without them. That’s just not OK.
I’m also going to try to post regular updates here on what I’m not buying and what I’m digging out of my closet instead. Meanwhile, pop into the comments and tell me: Are you giving anything up for Lent? Do you think I’m crazy for giving up shopping for 40 days? The comments section is also the official spot for placing the over/under on when I’ll crack.
*Yes. I still buy CDs. Physical ones. Usually at Starbucks, but sometimes I make a special trip to Best Buy. 90s revival!
The other night, I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed and saw a couple of pins from my friend Jenny featuring women wearing chambray shirts over white tees and black leggings. One was captioned “no pants?” and the other, “again with the no pants?” And I feel her pain. Every day, I see girls with otherwise cute outfits, ruined by the lack of pants.
So let’s have a little clothing refresher, shall we? Leggings are not pants. Leggings are not pants. Leggings are not pants.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, there’s a way to wear leggings, and that way usually involves a tunic long enough to cover the upper thigh area, even with arms raised overhead. If your top is shorter than that, it’s too short. And the tops in these pins? Were too short.
But there’s hope. In the form of pants. Specifically, J.Crew Pixie pants. They’re skinny enough that they create the look of leggings, but they’re thick enough to wear as pants. Plus, they have a zipper, a defining quality of pants. Plus, the fabric has a kind of spanx-y quality that keeps everything pulled in, which, let’s all face it, leggings lack. Plus, unlike jeans or pants with straighter legs, the knees don’t bag when you’re wearing them with boots.
There’s a reason they’re named after something magical.
You read Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletters, right? They are fantastically, absurdly wonderful guides in how to live Gwyneth’s life to the fullest. It’s really not for us mortals, who have things like “bills” to “worry” about and occasionally indulge in cookies. But it’s fun, nonetheless, and sometimes there are really useful tips, like how to give yourself a blow-out.
Last week’s email was all about snacks, one of my favorite topics. You see, Gwynnie doesn’t really eat meals. She just snacks throughout the day. But unlike me, she’s snacking on zucchini fritti and bite size chicken caprese*. I mean, seriously, if she has enough time to make fried chicken canapes, she can make herself a sandwich.
Anyway. I snark, but there was a useful recipe in there: slow-baked kale chips. And, as it happened, I had just gotten a bunch of kale with the intention of chipifying them. The bunch of kale I got was big enough for two batches of chips, so I decided to do a little test. I figured Gwyneth’s technique (baking for an hour at 200 degrees) would either be exactly the same or far superior to Refinery 29’s technique (baking for 30 minutes at 300 degrees). And, yes, I get recipes from the same website where I get hair tips.
So what was the verdict? As with everything she touches, Gwyneth’s version was pretty fantastic. They were more consistently chip-like than the non-slow-baked version.
Of course they were.
*Um, yeah, I will totally make this the next time I have a party. Get excited, people.
A few weeks ago, I told you about Birchbox, where, for $10/month, you get a customized box of beauty samples. It’s amazing. I love it. It’s vastly improved my life.
I’d heard through the grapevine about similar services in other genres, if you will, of life necessities. But I never really bothered to look into them. I figured Netflix brought me movies, Birchbox brought me beauty and I figured I was set.
But when my friend Mindy told me about Stitchfix, I was intrigued. Apparently, it delivered to her friend G a romper that changed her life. Life-changing rompers? SIGN. ME. UP.
Unlike Birchbox, Stitchfix is a one-time $20 fee for the box of five items. If you like what you get, you can use that as a credit towards buying it. Otherwise, pack it all up and you’re out $20 for the experience. You fill out a general questionnaire about your size, your body type and your tastes. Hopefully you’ll love something in the box and maybe there will be something that pushes the edge for you.
Now, onto the juicy stuff: What I got.
1. A necklace
2. A mesh top
3. An open-knit sweater
4. A floral tunic
5. A dress
And what did I think? In all honesty, I hated it and I wish I hadn’t wasted my money. But, on the other hand, $20 isn’t that much money to satisfy my curiosity. I’ve spent much more on terrible Jane Fonda movies (I love you, Jane, but Georgia Rule was atrocious).
Buuuuuut, I’m absolutely the wrong person for this service.
See, I have a pretty good sense of what I like and what I don’t like, as well as a pretty restrictive dress code at work, where I occasionally get free clothing. Likewise, I have a hard time paying full price (minus $20) for something I’ll only wear on weekends, especially if my reaction is, “meh, it’s OK, for the things in my box.”
So who do I think it’s right for? If you’re in a style rut, I think it’s great. Likewise, if you have a job where you can wear what you want, it’s a fun way to add something unexpected to the mix. Same goes for people who want more clothes for the weekend and have trouble balancing style and trends. And if you’re a dedicated boutique shopper, it might help introduce you to new brands.
And what would I do if I worked for Stitchfix? Well, first off, I’d ask how old people are and/or how “mature” they like to dress. I’m in my late-20s and, well, I like to dress like that. The dress I received would look great on someone 10 years younger, but it was a dress for a girl and I’m not a girl anymore and don’t dress like one. I’d also pay closer attention to the opinions of the brands. I received two pieces from a brand I’m familiar with and dislike, for many reasons. It’s not my style, it’s a little young for me and I think the quality is out of line with the price. Nothing in my stitchfix did anything to change the opinion and, from their perspective, they wasted 40% of my box on something I warned them against.
Will I order a stitchfix again? Probably not, at least in the forseeable future.
I’ve always felt a connection to Anne Hathaway. It’s hard not to; I’ve been hearing comparisons to her ever since “The Princess Diaries” came out, prompting my friend Erin to proclaim, “She stole your essence!” And not only do we share big eyes and dark hair, but neither of us have managed to shake the, “Please, let me entertain you!” earnestness of our musical theater youth, even though we’re well into our 20s.
Which is why I feel a responsibility to call Annie out on her horrific shoe choices.
While Annie generally looks fine-to-great on the red carpet, thanks to the yeoman’s work of stylist Rachel Zoe, her street style generally leaves something to be desired, especially when it comes to her feet.
I get that she wants to be comfortable and casual, but, seriously, Annie, velcro sneakers? VELCRO? SNEAKERS!?
It’s time to stage an intervention.
The other day, while catching up with the Birchbox blog*, I came across a call for bloggers to write about combining neutrals with pops of neon (or neon with pops of neutral). While I realize that for me, this concept is known as “Tuesday,” it’s not something everyone is so quick to embrace. But the beauty of this trend is that it’s an easy–and cheap!–way to freshen up your existing classics and look trendy without looking like you’re trying too hard.