Teaching Outfit One

1523994462324

This is me in my office, trying to get into more frequent blogging! Hello!

I’m teaching a course on personnel selection and performance appraisal this semester. I’m not that much older than the students and I decided to „duz“* them instead of „siezing“* them. I want them to respect me as a teacher but we do a lot of group projects and engage with the material with a lot of methods, so I want them to feel comfortable with giving feedback, expressing controversial opinions, and engaging in discussions. So „Du“ it is. But it was clear to me that figuring out a dress code for teaching was necessary to differentiate myself from them by dressing more formal. Students in Germany are mostly dressed pretty casually, so thankfully I don’t need to go overboard with a full-on business outfit.

I wore this ensemble today and felt very comfortable. Jeans, sneakers, t-shirt, summer blazer, leather belt, watch and cute earrings. I think this will be a good formula for a teaching outfit. My only change would be more formal shoes.

Do you have outfit formulas for special work situations?

* In German we have two different words for „you“, we say „du“ when we know someone or when it’s an informal relationship, and „Sie“ when we don’t know the person or in a formal relationship. However, it’s not always clear what is appropriate, especially when you and the other person are around the same age, so it’s quite common that people are not sure if it’s okay tu say „du“/if addressing someone with „Sie“ would be weird. I think in Spanish the guidelines as to when to say „tu“ vs „usted“ are a bit clearer than in German, but I might be wrong.

Advertisements

Creating a spring slideshow

1522972060164
White linnen blouse and Italian black suede pumps + red belt

I have been really busy with work projects lately (start of the semester in Germany). But one evening last week I had some time for myself and decided to put my winter wardrobe away to take out my spring clothes. I usually get really excited when I do this, since this means summer is almost there. Additionally, my spring clothes feel almost new from not having been worn for a couple of months. This time however, I felt overwhelmed and a little bored at the same time. Not exactly what I was hoping for. After some contemplation I decided to look at my wardrobe with fresh eyes. I would match each piece with everything that could potentially be worn with it and take a picture. This would give me an idea of outfits that work and maybe give me some new ideas for styling them.

Since this would be a massive undertaking I started with one pair of blue summer pants by Marc O’Polo. I thrifted them in basically new condition- they were still in stores when I bought them, but apparently the buyer realized very quickly that those pants would not work for her and brought them to the second hand shop (thank you!). I’ve bought them in 2016 but unfortunately only started tracking the cost-per-wear of everything I have shortly thereafter so I’m not sure how often I’ve actually worn them. I’d say around 35/40 times… The fabric is very lightweight (100% cotton) and the fit is quite flattering, high-waisted, slightly loose and slightly cropped. I started with these, because I thought that those pants are pretty easy to style and look nice with many of my tops and shoes. I think you might be mainly interested in what I learned from creating the slideshow. But first, some pictures!

 

1522972533637
With G.H. Bass Weejuns loafers and red Marc O’Polo longsleeve
1522972613132
With Tamaris sneakers
1522972412470
With Marc O’Polo loafers
1522971601176
Weejuns and Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt
1522971568979
Tamaris sneakers
1522972310021
Marc O’Polo loafers
1522971487357
Weejuns and floral second hand blouse
1522971729961
Tamaris sneakers
1522971406722
Marc O’polo loafers
1522971450333
Italian black suede pumps
1522971918001
Gray Lanius shirt and gray Tamaris sneakers
1522971948264
Lanius shirt tucked in
  1. Always take a photo! Taking pictures of outfits might give you a different perspective of an outfit or the fit of an item. Somehow things look different in a mirror. My best explanation is that in a photo you are observing yourself with more distance than when you look at yourself in a mirror. According to Construal Level Theory distance makes you switch into a more abstract mindset. A more abstract mindset could mean you are focusing more on the general asthetics of an outfit, how it looks overall. When you look at yourself in a mirror, the more concrete construal level means that smaller details might stick out to you, but the overall look gets a little lost. If it’s important to you that other people think you are well-dressed, considering the „look“ of an outfit in a photo that’s not a mirror selfie could help (as other people view you with more distance).
  2. You can’t make something work that doesn’t work. I really wanted the gray Lanius shirt to work. I was so excited when I got this. Lanius is a sustainable, fair-trade brand and a loose gray longsleeve should work for everybody, right? However, I have never felt quite right wearing it. Still, I had decided that this would work for me and even considered buying the same shirt in a different color. I now feel so stupid admitting this. Looking at the pictures it’s obvious to me that the shirt doesn’t look right. In fact, it makes me look quite dumpy, no matter if it’s untucked and tucked. I also don’t like the way the fabric looks when I tuck the shirt – too wrinkly. A nore fitted longsleeve (like the red Marc O’Polo one) look much better on my body.
  3. Red is my favourite color (for clothes). I kind of knew this, but this experiment manifested it. I love an outfit whenever there is a pop of red. 
  4. Shoes make the outfit. While the black Tamaris sneakers are not quite right with these pants they drove the point home that shoes really change the vibe of an outfit. When I look at the first three outfits I’m amazed at how different the same outfit looks with the dressier Weejuns and Marc O’Polo loafers vs the laid-back Tamaris sneakers. After tooking at the pictures I promised myself to consider shoes more carefully when getting dressed.
  5. Experimentation leads to versatility. Just trying out different things gave me so many ideas and made me realize that I haven’t been taking full advantage of my wardrobe. I tend to get into a rut where I wear the same outfits again and again. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I know that I get bored if I don’t switch it up. Having this photo library on my phone will be a great reminder to get out of my comfort zone.

 

Have you ever documented your wardrobe like this? If yes, do you consider it a good use of your time?

The big sweatpants debate: where do I stand?

We recently had a big family get-together. This usually happens only a couple of times a year, even though my parents and sister are the only ones that haven’t moved to Frankfurt YET. Meaning, they are fully to blame for the infrequence of family meetings. As every family weekend, this one was spent 75% at my aunt’s dining table, eating, drinking coffee, talking. In the evenings coffee gets replaced with wine, another delicious vegetarian meal is served, and discussions get more heated. So it may not come as a surprise that a recent debate about what clothes are appropriate for relaxing at home got really emotional. I’m not joking at all! The older generation was appalled that for the young ones changing into sweatpants as soon as they come home is considered normal behavior. „This is the decline of civilisation!“, my mom exclaimed. My aunt might have quoted Karl Lagerfeld with his comment about sweatpants being a sign of defeat. The young ones just cited „comfort“ as the main reason for doing so and refused the requests to stop wearing sweatpants.

My boyfriend is a fervent advocate for sweatpants at home, changing into them immediately when he crosses the doorstep. He is often visibly confused when I wear normal clothes at home: „Why do you look so fancy?“, he asked me just this morning. I was wearing what you can see in the picture below: a comfortable black dress with a dragonfly print, black tights and slippers. After three years together, he still does not understand why I mostly prefer to wear „normal clothes“ at home. Before meeting him, I was firmly team „no sweatpants“, didn’t own a pair, didn’t like them. The idea of changing into something else at home horrified me almost as much as it did my mom.

1522243820553

I have somewhat softened in my stance on this topic, though. I don’t mind it when my boyfriend changes into something comfortable at home, for example. And I do often wear lounging clothes when I’m relaxing at home on weekends or in the evening. Heck, I even own a pair of gray Adidas sweatpants and have worn them fairly often. But I have recently come to terms with the fact that while they are comfortable, they don’t make me feel comfortable. Instead, I just feel sloppy.

But there are certain outfits I find ideal for relaxing at home. Like Claire Beermann I love to wear dresses for this purpose. The dragonfly dress above is just one example. While I don’t have a specific „house dress“, I can see the appeal!

Second, a pair of really nice pyjamas can be a perfect lounging outfit. In my opinion, it’s essential that they are cute and luxurious (instead of ratty and worn-out) if you want to wear them for lounging without feeling sloppy. Even in 1936 a similar distinction was made by Marjorie Hillis in Live Alone and Like it:

Question: Is it permissible for a youngish unchaperoned woman living alone to wear pajamas when a gentleman calls?

Answer: Assuming that she knows one pajama from another, it is entirely permissible. There are, however, sleeping pajamas, beach pajamas, lounging pajamas, and hostess pajamas. The first two are not designed to wear when receiving anybody, masculine or feminine. The last type is correct for wear when your most conservative beau calls, even though he belongs to the old school and winces when a lady smokes. The third variety comes in all sorts of shadings, from an almost-sleeping type to a practically hostess pajama. Those with a leaning towards the bed are suitable only for feminine guests, while the others would not shock Bishop Manning.

I just had to include this tidbit and suggest you quickly acquire this book. It is utterly charming! I would classify my lounging pyjamas as leaning more towards the bed and I’m now very curious about beach pyjamas and hostess pyjamas! My only lounging pyjamas are a 100% cotton pair by Esprit (a German highstreet brand) that have a Ralph Lauren-esque look. I feel like a real lady when I wear these! Right now, I’m on the hunt for a second pair of lounging pajamas that are suitable for warmer months.  Unfortunately, the pair I want is sold out in my size right now. But the brand, Desmond & Dempsey, has lots of amazing options.

1522243591548

Finally, I feel comfortable and presentable in specific yoga pants & shirt combos under certain circumstances. Maybe I’m just fooling myself with distinguishing them from sweatpants? I have two pairs I wear on days when I feel unwell or after unusually exhausting days. I present to you the most laid back look in my closet: purple yoga pants and a blue Adidas sweater.

1522243491488

When I look at this outfit right now, I think I might have to retire it! While it’s not quite sweatpants, it feels too close. I’ve actually worn these pants when I’m out and about as they are actually very flattering and can look quite nice when paired with a fitted top. But in combination with a baggy sweater? Looks quite sloppy to me.

So where do I stand in the sweatpants-debate? Somewhere in the middle, I guess! While comfort is obviously more important to me than to my mom and aunt, I don’t feel like myself when I wear a baggy sweatpants and sweater combo. Apparently, even yoga pants and a sweater is too casual for me!

What do you wear at home? How do you feel about sweatpants? Do you own a pair of hostess pyjamas?

Power Pusher, a first review: when magic happens

When my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas there was only one thing I could think of: a pair of Closed jeans. Closed is a denim label from Hamburg. Their denim is handmade in Italy under fair labor conditions. They mostly work with family enterprises, aiming for sustainability in materials and production. It’s not an organic label, but they do check almost every box I want checked. But the reason I wanted a pair so badly is because of a memory from the year before.

I tried a black pair on in the store the year before, liking them, but shying away from the price in the end. My mom, usually a reliable source for fashion recommendations, thought one did not need to spend that much on a pair of nice jeans. I hadn’t started my intense hunt for a pair of new jeans yet, didn’t know how difficult and annoying it would be. (Her assessment might have been accurate a couple of years ago. I have jeans from a couple of years ago that are accidentally 98% cotton. She doesn’t wear jeans anymore, judging them inappropriate for someone her age. I disagree, but this is another topic to discuss in a different post.)

Let’s continue my story. I would realize how badly I had been mistaken a couple of months later, regretting my decision not to hand over my money whenever I tried on a pair of black or gray denim and discovered them lacking. If – and that by itself was almost impossible- after looking at every single pair of jeans in a store I would eventually find a single style that fit my most important criterion (max 2% polyester/elasthan), the fit was completely off, nothing compared to the comfort and sturdiness of that pair of Closed jeans. A short sting, a rueful thought „THAT is how I want denim to be like.“ I thought of these jeans often.

I don’t even remember the style I tried that year, just my surprise at how nice they felt immediately: sturdy, comforting, flattering. But it was clear to me that the next time I would visit my parents, my mom and I needed to head to the Closed store in Eppendorf again. I tried several styles on, but quickly discovered that the Power Pusher and Pedal Pusher styles were my favourites by far. I chose one of each style, as I was simply unable to decide and fearful of regretting not purchasing the one left behind. Looking back one pair would have sufficed but as they are quite different I also don’t regret my temporary decision paralysis. My Power Pusher pair is the one you can see in all of the pictures.

Even though most pairs I looked at in the store felt well-made and sturdy not all of the pairs are 98% cotton.  Even in the two styles I mentioned (Power and Pedal pushers) material composition varies. I also want to add that both of the pairs I eventually chose (links above) have 98% cotton but feel completely different. The Power Pusher feels sturdy but has some stretch to it. In contrast, the Pedal Pusher is a lot stiffer. I will focus on the Power Pusher in this post, as I had far fewer chances to wear the Pedal Pusher (explanation at the bottom of this post).

The Power Pusher is the more conventionally flattering pair of the two, cut a bit slimmer and more fitted at the butt. A guy who was waiting for his daughter in front of the changing rooms was visibly confused when he realized I was unable to decide between the two pairs as it seemed obvious to him that the Power Pusher was the „right choice“. I also asked my mom and another female customer for their opinion and both could understand my decision paralysis as both pairs have their unique appeal.

After owning the Power Pushers for close to three months it’s time for a first evaluation. I have worn them 34 times, only washing them three times. They spent several nights in the freezer though, so don’t worry about my hygiene! Looking at this number makes it apparent that they were a good buy. They have not stretched out or sagged (yet? I hope not!). I love wearing them and intuitively reach for them whenever I open my closet. I have even coaxed myself into wearing something different a couple of times. („No, Clara. Wearing the same pair of pants five days a week is not appropriate!“). As you might infer from looking at the visual evidence, I love tucking sweaters and shirts into them. I strangely never did this with other denim, though I always loved the look on others. I now know that all my other jeans are too low cut and/or not stiff enough to hold a sweater in properly. The Power Pusher however is perfect for tucking. I am in love with the unique stitching in the front – you can always recognize a pair of Power Pushers and Pedal Pushers by this detail. The front pockets are incredibly comfortable. I love standing there with both hands in the pockets, relishing how nice it feels. I can’t put my finger on why exactly this feels so comforting, I just know it does. And I guess, that’s all you need to know to realize I have a full-fledged love affair with the Power Pusher. In fact, I could wax on and on, but I think I will restrain myself until I give an update on them at 100 wears. I’m confident they will hold up well, but let’s see.

With regards to the Pedal Pusher, I discovered that even though they felt a lot stiffer than the Power Pusher they stretched out quite a bit after the first wash. Fortunately, sending them back was not an issue as the Closed customer service is pretty great. Closed reexamined my pants to verify the amount of stretching – they are not allowed to stretch out more than 1 cm, which they did. I asked for the same style but one size smaller. It did only take a couple of days to figure this out, but then UPS lost my shipping, and it took forever until UPS found it and re-sent it to me – close to 3 weeks! Because of this delay I haven’t worn the Pedal Pushers as much.  

Saying goodbye to a favorite pair of pants

img_0988

Sunday is usally sort of a „catch up and prepare for the week“ day for me (more on that later this week). This means doing laundry, ironing clothes, taking care of my shoes and clothes in general. Ironing a big stash of freshly washed laundry I finally had to face the truth about my favourite pair of pants: they look really shabby.

As you can see in the picture above they are curdoroy pants in a shade of red that leans a tiny bit towards orange. They are from a German brand called Marc O’Polo, that used to be known for their use of natural fabrics and amazing quality. I have this blue skirt my mom bought from them in the 90s and one black dress that I’ve had for 15 years and still wear several times a month! It has gone downhill in the last year or two, and I’m now at the point where I don’t want to buy anything from them as they decided to add polyester to everything (while still advertising with their natural/sustainable image of course). But my red pants are 98% cotton, fit like a glove and made me feel confident in the best way.

img_1024

I LOVED these pants. Whenever I wore them they added a little spring in my steps. However, a few weeks ago I was confronted with the fact that they were becoming a little threadbare and saggy, but chose to ignore it. After all, I’ve only had these for one and a half years! The truth is I wore them a lot during the 20 months they had a place in my wardrobe – 76 times. While I really hoped they would last me longer, I also don’t want to walk around looking shabby.

Looking at the battered knees of my favourite pants in my living room made me quite sad. As Mari Kondo advises, I wanted to thank them for their service, but not downgrade them to loungewear. I wore them for one last day at home, fully appreciating how comfortable they are and how much I liked wearing them.

img_0987

I really wish I had known more about how to care for curdoroy properly when I bought these pants. During the last 18 months I learned a lot more about caring for your clothes and I’m confident a new pair of curdoroy pants would last me a little longer.

  • Always wash them inside out.
  • Don’t was them too often – this goes for all clothes but curdoroy and denim especially! If you are worried about odour or bacteria, put them in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer overnight.
  • Be careful with ironing! Put a thin cloth over the fabric before ironing as the structure is easily damaged. Steaming them is even better.

But I’m still learning and also looking for more advice on curdoroy care! So please tell me how you care for it! Any secrets to making them last longer?

Rediscovering joyful dressing in winter

1519070177853

I’m probably not the only person who is completely OVER winter – to be honest, I was never excited for winter to begin with. Dressing in winter has always been something I disliked. I used to avoid buying a winter coat for so long I would go without one until spring and freeze to death in the process. In fact, winter 2016/2017 was the first time I had a proper coat. I’m a little embarassed to admit that I still can’t bring myself to buy really warm winter boots. I make do with booties and sneakers that get cozied up a little bit with a wool insole. It’s completely silly and I can’t quite explain it. I guess I’m in denial every year and don’t learn from my mistakes?

However, a year ago I discoverd the magic of a warm sweater (yup, you guessed it, I was never too crazy about them either) when I thrifted an amazing orange Tommy Hilfiger sweater. You can see it in all its glory in the picture above. Regularly wearing it made me realize how much I like a pop of colour when it’s freezing outside and everyone is dressed in black. So this year, I decided on another warm investment. I deem myself really lucky to have bought a colorful Acne cashmere sweater second hand. I was unsure about the sizing and fit, but since Vite en Vogue has an amazing return policy and allows you to return all items for cash back for 30 days, I decided to go for it. It was love at first sight! To my surprise, even my boyfriend approved of it. He usually only likes the most basic (read: boring) pieces, but this one he absolutely adores. It comes in the most amazing coral color and is slightly oversized in a way that works very well with my figure. I don’t have much of a waist and a pretty sizeable butt so oversized rarely works. The Acne sweater was a nice suprise in that regard.

Having two orange-ish sweaters in your closet might seem excessive, especially when you admit to not really owning many other warm pieces, but both sweaters just make me so happy. Every time I wear them winter gets a little more bearable. This might be because I’m all warm and cozy for a change, but I’m convinced it also has something to do with being a colorful dot in an all-black environment.

1519069365256

My tip of the week: Wear something colorful this week and observe if it affects your mood. If it does, don’t feel guilty about adding something in a similar color to your closet. It obviously works for you and makes your day a little happier.