five things for fall


one | two | three | four | five

can you feel a hint of fall in the air? we’re still getting oppressively hot days in chicago but today and a day earlier this week, there’s been a bit of a snap in the air. I’m pretty good to go for this season clothes-wise, so the items I’m eyeing to add are accessories or the super luxe versions of the basic items I love in my closet.

these shoes are just so, so good. the color blocking is so chic, and I would instantly feel put together if I had those puppies on my feet. I love that they’re responsibly made to boot.

this might be the year that I spring for a cashmere cardigan. I love the color on this one, but I’m keeping my options open.

one of the best things about fall is how rich & cozy the season is. as the air gets chillier, everything intensifies with it. I’m looking forward to returning to heavier scents and layering it with this lotion. it’s apparently the brand’s best-selling scent, and I can see why. it’s warm and sexy and sophisticated and a little bit mysterious.

lastly, I’m excited to add this to my rotation of fall lip options and to finally snag this little guy.

what’s on your fall wish list?

gift guide | valentine’s day for him

v-day for him

James isn’t too keen on receiving presents in general, and especially not for valentine’s day (which he considers more of a holiday for us ladies), but I can’t let the day go by without getting him something small. I won’t share what I’m giving him here in case he reads this post, but I’ve compiled some equally great options above, all under $100, if you’re in need of some ideas for the special guys in your life.

a shirt
representing his newly-minted super bowl champion hometown team ($40)

this quirky beer opener would go with a 6-pack of his favorite beer nicely ($28)

keeping with the alcohol theme, this is a great distillery to pick out a bottle from ($35-$50)

this is the best water bottle for keeping your drinks warm or cold, plus the design is sleek ($35 for 17 oz.)

for all the sriracha-loving men in your life, this is genius ($7 for one)

a refill of his go-to cologne never hurts ($82 for 3.4 oz.)

p.s. for links of everything in my collages all in one place, just click on the link right underneath the images.

the capsule wardrobe, part 3: my color palette



looking back, it’s kind of crazy that I haven’t really done a capsule wardrobe until now because while I definitely didn’t have a capsule wardrobe in terms of number of items, I definitely had one when it came to a color palette. for this fall’s capsule wardrobe, I just went with what I already was doing naturally, so this part was easy for me.

in case it hasn’t been clear, I’m all about the neutrals. I’ve always loved black, for its timelessness and how much impact it creates paired with anything. grey (which in my mind is just the softer side of the same coin that has black on the other side) is my favorite color. I love that it can go from dark and moody, the color of a stormy sea, to light and delicate, like the down of a feather. and I can’t not wax poetic about white, pure and crisp. and there you have it, my neutral trinity.

lest you think I hate all color, I’m also drawn to reds and blues. so many good things are red – wine, strawberries, my go-to bold lipstick. etc. it’s powerful and classic. as for blues, it’s back to the ocean again – I love the water and all its shade of blues. for this capsule collection, I infused some pops of color via some key pieces in cobalt, fire engine red, inky navy, and moody crimson. et voila, my color palette. nothing too crazy, but it suits me to a T, and while I haven’t actually done this, I’m 99.85% sure I could blindly grab any two items from my closet and get dressed in the dark, and I’d walk out more or less as though I had gotten dressed in a well-lit room. this fact has me thanking God every morning at 5:00 a.m. when I’m barely awake and need to get dressed.

what colors made it into your palette?

shades of whiteindigo

pops of red and cobalt

the capsule wardrobe, part 2: where I shop


like a lot of women, I find my body hard to dress. I’m quite short and busty, with athletic calves that are remnants of my long-past running days. petite jeans fit me lengthwise, but petite tops often do not. I have a really hard time with dresses because the proportions of most dresses are all wrong on me (they’re obviously made for a taller woman), and while petite sizing works length-wise, it doesn’t accommodate my top half, unless it’s made of something with some give, like jersey. ah, jersey. where would I be without jersey? I have a love affair with jersey, but that’s for another post. this is all to say that I’ve gotten years of practice in figuring out what brands and stores work for my body and what don’t. this part of building a capsule wardrobe was actually one thing I already did previously.

my list of go-tos won’t necessarily work for you, but maybe some things will and end up on your own shortlist.

where I shop for what

tops | zara, old navy (basic, trendy), gap (classics, i.e. striped shirt), j.crew (something interesting when on sale)

jeans | gap (they’re awesome! I’m partial to the legging jean, the real straights, and sometimes the always skinny)

sweaters | j.crew/j.crew factory (casual), br (dressy), old navy (trendy), gap (casual)

dresses | j.crew factory, old navy (trendy), gap (casual), br (dressy), nordstrom (special occasion, certain brands)

workwear | ann taylor (mostly tops), loft (business casual), br (dressier options), j.crew (mostly shoes and sweaters)

outerwear | nordstrom, h&m (in their h&m+ section), macy’s

shoes | zara (trendy), madewell (boots, flats), j.crew (heels, flats), (dv by) dolce vita (I like pretty much everything they make), nine west (pumps), via spiga (dressy), clarks (comfy!), ann taylor, nordstrom rack

misc | gap (workout gear, underwear), t.j. maxx/marshalls (socks, basics), nordstrom (lingerie), hanes (lingerie)

splurge | nordstrom, shopbop

beauty | walgreens, ulta, sephora, nordstrom, zappos

aside from being tried and true, I also buy a lot of my things from these places because of their shipping and/or return policies. it’s inevitable that something won’t fit right, and when that happens, it’s nice to know that I don’t have to stress about exchanging it or returning it within a reasonable time frame. and lastly, while it’s good to curate a list of places that are pretty much fail-safe, don’t be afraid to branch out to other places if your go-tos don’t come through. sometimes it happens if you’re looking for something very specific or something that might not be in season yet. if a brand you’re unfamiliar with happens to have what you’re looking for, do some research – what are their policies, what reviews do they get, what reviews did that particular item get, etc. also, go back to the basics of the product itself – what is it made of? is it of good quality? I believe you can find good-quality products at all different price points from all different places. you might just have to look a little longer/harder.

what are your go-tos?





the capsule wardrobe, part 1


I mentioned last week that I had done a major overhaul of my closet, an overhaul that was completely inspired by Caroline and her lovely blog. you should read about the idea of a capsule wardrobe on her blog here, but the main idea is to limit yourself to a concise edit of clothes for every season. I’m tweaking her system a little bit and changing it to my own, partly because of weather differences (she lives in Texas and I live in Chicago) and partly because we’re two different people. I love that Caroline encourages each of her readers to make the system his or her own and advocates the capsule wardrobe idea as one thing to try if your current system isn’t working for you. this is what sold me on giving it a try, since she wasn’t proscribing that it was going to be the solution, just something worth giving a shot if the status quo wasn’t something you were satisfied with. that’s where I was at. I had plenty of clothes, but I always felt like I had nothing to wear. I was overwhelmed by all the choices hanging in my closet and 95% of the time, I ended up wearing the same things over and over. after reading Caroline’s blog, I realized that the 5% I reached for constantly were either the things I loved or the things that worked best for my life, or both. they were literally where form and function met in my closet. was it any wonder that they were the ones kept in heavy rotation and everything else was neglected? then I thought about how I didn’t like having things I neglected, how I didn’t want to be someone who had more than she used. so…

…I did a major edit of my entire wardrobe. since I’m an overthinker and partial to sentimentality, I went with my gut when selecting what to keep or not keep. when considering an item, if I immediately remembered that I loved it or used it frequently, it stayed. if I hesitated a little, it went into the maybe pile. if I hesitated a lot or flat out hated it, it went into the gone pile. the majority of the items that didn’t make the cut were either donated to goodwill/savers/the salvation army or packed to be sent to my family in the Philippines. a handful of things I ended up consigning or selling on the spot. I revisited the maybe pile and edited it further down, with most things being added to the give away pile. the 8 things I was still undecided on got put into storage. if I come looking for something in that box during the fall/winter, then it stays. if come spring, I haven’t given any of these pieces a thought, they’ll go. although I didn’t do an accounting of how much exactly I had before the edit, judging by how clothes look in our new (smaller) closet and comparing it to how they looked hanging in our old apartment, I’d say I cut at least 50% of my wardrobe, if not close to 2/3.

from here, I tweaked Caroline’s 37-item, season by season capsule wardrobe to my own 56-item, somewhat seasonal capsule wardrobe. I chose to do a combined fall/winter capsule wardrobe, because in Chicago, fall lasts for about a month before things get really cold for the next 5 months. I chose 56 items because it seemed like a happy medium between 37 and 74 (37 x 2). like Caroline, I chose not to count such essentials like underwear, socks, hosiery, pajamas and workout clothes in my 56-item count, but like her, I did go through these categories and edited them down as well to amounts that felt generously limited. unlike Caroline, I chose to not count coats/jackets as part of my 56 items since by my logic, coats and jackets are not primarily fashion choices (though they can certainly be fashionable) when one lives in a place that gets cold for over half the year – they’re essentials. how many items do they amount to? 10. I have a puffer coat, a parka, a jean jacket, an army green utility jacket, a khaki utility jacket, a light fleece, a black topper, a rain jacket, and a classic trench. if you’re keeping count, that’s 9, but I am planning on adding a peacoat/car coat to my fall/winter wardrobe, so including that that comes to 10. 10 seems like a lot, and it is, but all of these are of different weights to account for all weather between -30 degrees to 60 degrees and some are multi-seasonal, so I find 10 to be a good number for me.

the last of my tweaks comes to shoes. I’ve decided to keep the total number to 40 and under, which if spread throughout the year, is about 10 pairs a season. my current total is at 36, including flip flops.  if I do add a pair or two that I’m considering, they will most likely replace a couple of pairs from the 36.

whew. that took awhile. but enough about the prep work and onto how I put my capsule wardrobe together. below is a collage of what I’ve been tossing around in my head for the upcoming season. some of the items aren’t actually items I’m considering purchasing but represent a color or a shape or a texture that I’m intrigued about and thinking of incorporating in my wardrobe for the next 6 months. some things aren’t even things at all – pencils, hot chocolate, scenes – but things I’d like to be doing in the next season. a little bit of the things that speak to my style, a little bit of things that speak to my life and who I am and who I want to be – that mix is what I’d like my closet to reflect (again, Caroline inspired me with this post when I was creating the collage). this is my inspiration board of sorts and the springboard from which I picked my color palette, which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post.

fw inspiration

what are you wearing this fall?

images via one | two | three | four | five | six | seven