Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Out in the Cold

For most of the weekend, the weather was disgusting. Too wet to go without layers but too steamy to feel comfortable in them. I spent far too much time on Saturday and Sunday deciding which piece of outerwear would be appropriate. In the nook that branches off of the small hallway near the door of my apartment, there are multiple coats and jackets. At the moment, there might be six. A few options remain on my futon after being discarded this morning as I tried to dress for both the coolish morning and the warmer afternoon. I finally decided on my blue Luella for Target blazer and a thin multi-colored scarf to join the white tank and lightly deconstructed Long and Leans I already had on. Thankfully that ensemble proved to be the correct choice.

Picking the right coat is an art. Well for me it is. I have an aversion to looking lumpy, which can often happen when coats or jackets are combined with top-heaviness. And breasts. And sweaters. All things that either I can't get rid of (breasts are occasionally handy in filling out tops) or can't avoid (winter is cold). When I was younger and much more of a lemming, I was a fan of all things double-breasted. One, because I had to have that camel peacoat from J.Crew when I was a freshman in college. And two, because I had yet to understand how to dress my body to its full potential. Now not a single blazer or jacket or coat has more than one row of buttons, though I'm occasionally tempted. Like when I see things like this:

But like with many, but not all, things that I know are bad for me, I've trained myself to stay away. Nothing is worse than a smooshed chest. Nothing. Okay, maybe hot pink short shorts worn with purple tights are worse, but this is a close second.

Beyond purging myself of the double rows and the puffy jackets, I've tried to increase the range of my outerwear. To move away from the more juvenile items that defined my high school and college self. There's the trench that falls some inches below my knee. The slightly heavier coat with the rose-patterned lining. The green swing jacket for early spring and fall and days when I eat a lot of lunch. The long and thick black for the coldest days. The military-inspired bluish-green from The Gap. And the formal Victor & Rolf for H&M that my mother gave me as a gift:

It's taken me at least the past five years to get my collection to the point where I feel like I have something for every occasion and every temperature. In fact, it's the one area of my wardrobe where I am completely satisfied. I wear my flats into the ground. My headbands fall apart. But I always have something to protect me from the cold.

Photos via, via

Thursday, September 25, 2008

You Look Nice

I have a problem with compliments. It's an interesting situation because I actually love praise. When I was temping, I got a kick out of finding the most efficient way to put together binders of materials for meetings and then watching as my superiors marveled at my speediness. But being organized or knowing the answer to a question in science class are areas in which I've never doubted myself. Areas in which I expected the praise. What I put on my back, however, is a whole other story.

I don't take very long to get dressed. Part of this is because I like to streamline the getting ready process. Outfits are decided on the night before. Shoes are lined up by a wall. The weather is checked to ensure that I choose the right jacket. Sometimes I think about it too much, and it's obvious to those around me. I'm especially bad in the summer time. Having grown up in Boston, colder months are where I truly shine. Summer dressing gives me headaches. And though I've gotten much better at all of this, it still surprises me when someone comments on my clothes in a positive way. I deflect and shy away. I don't perk up like I once did in chemistry class. My insecurity is palpable.

I'm trying to work on that. To stop frowning when people say nice things or shaking my head in disbelief. To some I think it comes across as bitchiness. Or that I'm one of those people who fishes for compliments by tearing themselves down in front of others. Believe me, it's none of that.

I've heard the praise a lot more as I've lightened up and let go. As I've taken to just throwing on a white tank and a long, maroon cardigan with my skinny jeans. I receive more compliments in those clothes than I used to get when wearing any of the many dresses lining my closet. Maybe it's not the clothes themselves. Maybe it's that my not thinking so much removes the stress that seems to hang over me like a cloud most of the time. I am comfortable. And comfortable Samantha looks a lot better than Is this wide, ornamental belt out of place? Samantha.

It's all about caring up to a point and then saying Fuck it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yes, I Am Your Bitch

When I was about to go off for a semester spent in the woods of Vermont during my junior year of high school, I packed many a sweater. Sweaters with patterns. Light sweaters. Heavy sweaters. Turtlenecks and crew necks. Nestled in my luggage was a beige, long-sleeved crew neck sweater that my mother had bought from J.Crew back when most of their business was done through catalog. The years had made it soft to the touch, but it still did its job of keeping out the cold.

One day, while sitting in Physics class and wearing the sweater, one of the boys, more obsessed with sweaters than even I, started to pet one of my wool-swathed arms. It's so soft, he cooed. I just smiled.

And thus began my love of/obsession with a particular store.

For the rest of my high school experience, I mainly stayed out of J.Crew. No girl likes entering a store where nothing but the hair accessories and shoes fit. But during my sophomore year of college, somewhat thinner and marginally more confident, I greeted the opening of Princeton, New Jersey's first J.Crew with a squeal and a bounce. I spent the rest of that school year stuffing my closet with sweaters. The dress I wore under my gown at graduation was from that same store. A soft lilac/pink color and probably too tight at the time as I can still wear it to this day.

When their price point rose sharply after college from around Banana Republic level to closer to the contemporary floor at Barneys, I decided that it was time to end the affair. I scoffed at their now charging $650 for a maxi dress. They're too preppy anyway. That's what I told myself. But I was in denial. They actually expanded beyond their preppy aesthetic in those years. And I have preppy running through my blood. Even when I try to ignore it, it has a way of making itself known.

Over those three years since the end of college, we have drifted closer. None of the painful growing apart that I experienced with another store. They pulled back on the embroidering of everything with small critters, and I accepted that I like headbands with flowers on them. If I could only shop in one place for the rest of my life, this would be it. The smile on my face is always widest when walking among their racks of brightly colored sweaters and beautifully patterned dresses. (Yes, at J.Crew I am actually drawn to, as opposed to and repulsed by, the many patterns.)

My current fall wish list is long and varied and soft and pretty and everything I could ever want in a set of clothes.

I can pretend no longer that I hate argyle:

This dress totally has a Joan shape to it:

My Marc by Marc Jacobs wellies had an unfortunate run-in with a supply closet at The New School. These will replace them rather nicely:

All of my pencil skirts now spin around my frame. A new one is needed, especially if it's in yellow:

I haven't bought a pair of non-denim pants in a really long time. Maybe that's because I haven't had a real job in a very long time. I can find another place to wear these. Perhaps to the local dive bar:

And for the topper. The cake topper, as it were:

Yes, I am fully aware that we have drifted over into little girl wedding fantasy land.

Photos via

Friday, September 12, 2008

In the Navy

Though I have dreams of McQueen and Chloe, in my actual purchases I'm a bit smarter. I'm not one of those girls who will live on credit and survive on Diet Coke and air to insure so that she can have that $1,000 pair of boots. I understand my monetary limits and generally live within them. Yesterday, after a trip to the bank, I walked over to an Old Navy and browsed the racks with no particular purpose but to waste time. As usually happens during such expeditions, I found several things that I wanted to add to my wardrobe.

With my tights ready to make their presence known once again, fall dresses have become a recent obsession of mine. I like this one because it has a pop of color and could work in an office, for that magical day when I actually get a job. And I love things that hide a big lunch or, you know, an evening of happy hour drinking.

And I want it in black too. Hey, for $30, I might as well get two.

More pretend office dressing. More hidden lunches.

School Girl skirt to go with School Boy blazer.

My wardrobe is lacking in the blouse department. One, because I've always thought of blouses as something that grownups wear, and I don't like to consider myself one of those. Not yet anyway. Two, because my breasts make finding ones that fit, well, difficult. This one wouldn't pose that problem. And it has ruffles. I love ruffles.

You know what I love more than ruffles? Stripes. My dresser is currently home to multiple striped sweaters in various shades. I think I spent all of winter 2006/2007 in almost nothing but stripes. It's somewhat unhealthy. I should break the addiction. But this is pink and blue and pretty. Maybe I'll just indulge myself one last time.

Who am I kidding? It definitely won't be the last time.

Photos via

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There are few things that I enjoy more than writing outside. On Monday, after the rain had fled and the last of my beloved tennis was preparing to be played, I found myself sitting in a park in midtown waiting for my colleagues to emerge. Bryant Park. Yes, it was the middle of Fashion Week, and I was wearing heels for once. (I love heels in theory, but I have this weird tall girl, height neurosis that finds me always in flats. Exhibit 1. Exhibit 2.) The anti-fur people were out protesting the Carolina Herrera show. (I don't really support fur, but my recent mantra has been Live and Let Fucking Live. It's part of my Worry Less 12 step program.)

I sidestepped a paparazzo trying to hit on me (he had a ponytail, to which I say nyet) and found a table to wait for them. A woman walked by in a beautiful blue and white maxi dress and a springy blond afro. Effortless in a way that I haven't learned to be yet. Of course when you're as anal retentive as I, effortless doesn't come, well, easily. The Sartorialist stalked the grounds, camera in tow, and I pretended not to see him. It is one of my life goals to wear something worthy of his lens, but Monday was definitely not that day.

With my prop book, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop, closed and my venti iced latte sucked dry, I went back to observing the people scurrying around the park.

I am reserved in general. New places and new people make me hide in corners sipping wine, especially when those places are protected by headset wearing gatekeepers. But sometimes my defensive position quickly melts away. And after the initial stomach flips and toe-tapping nervousness, I began to feel comfortable in my own skin. Or, more appropriately, in my seat with complimentary chocolates at the MaxAzria show on Tuesday evening.