This morning, I decided to go check out the Ron Mueck exhibit at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Now that I can set my own schedule, I’ve decided to give myself one free day during the week when I don’t work, and to spend that day doing at least one fun and interesting thing around town. Okay, so I’ve given myself two days where I don’t tutor. Well, three, actually. OK, so I’m tutoring Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays only. Moving on.
The point is, I still kinda consider Tuesday my ‘me’ day, for some reason, but so far I’ve just spent ‘me’ days shopping, so I decided to do something more cultural and less expensive this week and go to our world-class art museum that I only visit about once every five years even though it’s only about 30 minutes away. Except today. Today it was more like an hour away, and even when I finally got there, the parking lot wasn’t just full – it was CLOSED due to the lack of spaces. WTF? On a Tuesday at 10:30 AM? And this was after driving in a solid, slow stream of traffic all the way in to town from the suburbs where I live – VERY unusual for late morning driving, at least from what I have learned after driving in to the Galleria every other Tuesday since February. For the life of me, I still have no idea why traffic was so heavy (no accidents or road closures reported or visible at any point along the way) or why the museum was so full (except that I do think Tuesdays are free admission, at least they were the last time I visited five years ago).
The upshot of this is, I made a U-turn once I saw the museum crowds and, since I didn’t have any backup plans, I ended up at the Galleria again. But hey, I at least tried to do something different. Better luck next time, I guess.
This got me to thinking about sharing some favorite things here – mostly because on this latest shopping trip I actually bought duplicates of the stuff I bought the last time I was there, because the things I bought last time were so awesome. So when I got home, I took some quick snaps of a few things, and here they are!
When I first started tutoring, I would still ‘dress up’ to go work with students – I put ‘dress up’ in quotes because my version of dressing up is pretty casual by most people’s standards. Basically, dressing up means not wearing jeans. But – and this really cannot be overstated – I LOVE JEANS. When I was in grad school (which was the last extended period of time when I wasn’t working in a school) I wore nothing but jeans and t-shirts for two and a half years, and I dreaded having to buy a whole new wardrobe when going back to work as a counselor. I’ve always dreamed of the time in the future when I could wear nothing but jeans and tee shirts every day, and as time has gone by, as a tutor I’ve come to realize that for the most part, I don’t see much of the parents whose kids I tutor, and even when I do, they don’t much care what I’m wearing as long as I’m helping their kids. So yeah – I’ve finally gotten to where I can wear whatever jeans and top I feel like wearing every single day, and I gotta tell ya, it’s grand. It’s everything I always dreamed it would be.
So first up is this Free People City Slicker Tunic. It’s soft and light but not transparent, and it’s really big and long but it has these long slits on the side that keep it from looking too big and boxy. The first one I bought has a graphic print on it that kind of makes it look a little like a pajama top, but it’s still cute, and I was wearing it so much that I eventually bought it in solid gray. Then the olive green. And today, I got the white – and yes, I was wearing the gray one when I bought the white one. I usually pair these tees with a skinny jean, and believe it or not, even though it’s just a simple tee it always gets a lot of compliments. And it’s already ridiculously hot here, even though it’s just April, so the fact that these are really soft and light means I can wear them all through summer.
Yikes, you think I’d know by now to never retract my head like that in a photo because it makes my chin disappear, but I still do it at times
Now, a few things about jeans – first off, several months ago I discovered the NYDJ brand at Nordstrom, and yeah, they are kinda mom-jean-ish (OK, so they’re VERY mom-jean-ish) but dang, they are comfortable as hell. And, they really fit my curves well – my hips are much larger than my waist, and most jeans will gap way out at the waist if they fit over my butt, and I have to get them altered. I can always rely on Loft curvy fit denim to fit me properly (and I have some of those on in another photo below) but lately their jeans have been pretty boring. Actually, I find NYDJ jeans to be boring too, but they’re even more comfy and better-fitting than Loft, so that’s something. They stretch like crazy without losing shape, which is key – and I love how lightweight they are (I hate heavy-weighted denim). In fact, it’s recommended to size down when wearing these, and I have found that to be a good recommendation. In a non-curvy fit jean I am a 4, but I can wear any fit of the NYDJs in a 2 and I am good to go – no need to worry about that dreaded waist gap in the back.
She may be a mom, but she’s a comfy mom. And flexible!
But remember how I said they were also kinda boring? Because I don’t just love jeans – I love faded, holey, ripped-to-shreds jeans. Unfortunately, the more faded, holey, and ripped-to-shreds a pair of jeans is nowadays, the more it costs, and they generally aren’t very big sellers for a company like NYDJ or Loft. So – back to the photos of me in my City Slicker Tunic up there – what I did was order a pair of NYDJ jeans from eBay (crazy good deals on their jeans can be found there – over $100 at a store or $30 on eBay? I’ll take eBay, thanks) then I cut them to the ankle, snipped a hole in the knee, and rubbed a big ol’ nail file over them everywhere I snipped ’em to get the fraying going, since frayed hems and holes are a big thing right now that I, of course, love. And voila! Non-mom jeans that are super-comfy to boot.
Got these bright blue Birkenstocks on eBay too – $100 at Free People vs. $50 on eBay, and they were brand new!
Speaking of frayed hems and ripped knees, this black pair of favorite jeans I got at Free People, along with the collegiate tee. These were the first jeans to start me on my ripped-hem obsession; most of FP jeans don’t have stretch and don’t fit me very well; they do NOT have a curvy cut and are not made for moms, so I usually have to size way up and then the waist gap isn’t worth the bother (yeah, I can get that altered, but why bother when NYDJ or Loft will fit me better from the start?). Surprisingly, though, these had stretch in them, and my normal size (4) actually FIT and were comfortable. I loved these so much that I ended up buying two more pair online a few weeks later – and wouldn’t you know that both of those, in the same size, were sausage-level tight? Turns out only this color is super-stretchy; go figure. I can actually wear the other two pair, but they’re pretty snug and not all that comfy, so in the end, I checked out eBay again and found a THIRD pair there for a reasonable price in a size 6 and bought those. Then I got the idea to mimic the look of these with my cheap NYDJ eBay bargain pair, so yes – in the past two months I’ve acquired at least FIVE PAIR of frayed hem holey jeans. I know, it’s ridiculous. But at least I can actually wear three of them!
The t-shirt is another Free People one – the Dream Player tee. I’m not sure why I’m into these faux-collegiate tees lately; it makes very little sense, seeing as I’m far from being collegiate or sporty. I think it’s the softness and the worn, vintage quality of them, as well as all these awesome colors. I mean, yellow and blue on one tee? Yes, please. My only complaint about this one is that the neck is really wide and falls down a lot; I’ve gotten to where if I have to wear a camisole under something I just forgo the bra. I’m just an a-cup anyway, so it’s not like anyone can tell, and having bra straps showing from underneath a camisole strap is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, so now I just wear the cami and leave it at that. I actually got into the habit of doing this back when I had shingles and couldn’t wear a bra due to the pain; I found these AMAZINGLY SOFT camisoles at Downeast Basics that you can get for a song; they are very soft, and long so they don’t ride up, and they’re only $9.99 full price but can often be bought on sale for less. Once I realized I could go braless under a camisole and no one would care, I’ve been doing it regularly. So yeah, not only am I now wearing ripped up jeans and collegiate tees while I’m tutoring students, I’m also not wearing a bra. Ah, the joys of being your own boss…classy!
I waited for this tee to go on sale since it was pricey; because I waited, it’s more of a winter tee so it will be too warm to wear it here soon. For now, I can still get away with it, and I’ve worn the hell out of it because it’s SOOO SOFT. And yeah, that is an extra-small – their tees tend to run large while their pants run small. Go figure. I got those jeans from Loft recently, by the way, and they are actually not boring! Frayed hem and a big fat cuff – nice.
Now, let’s talk quickly about shoes:
I am not a huge ballet flat person; they look cute, but it always amazes me how a shoe can be styled after a BALLET SHOE – which has to be the softest, most comfortable shoe in the damn world – and be SO. STIFF. and UNCOMFORTABLE. Ballet flats have let me down one too many times, and for the most part I refuse to even give them the time of day anymore. Not only are they usually stiff and painful, but why are they also so LOUD? What’s with the stiff, flat, noisy soles on those things? I mean, hello – they are a BALLET FLAT, not a TAP SHOE FLAT, amIright?! Anyway, while waiting for a friend to return a pair of shoes at Nordstrom recently, I wandered over to a corner where these Steve Madden flats were sort of shoved onto a shelf with some random Topshop shoes – you know how there’s always a few random shoes stuck on shelves way in the back by the register like afterthoughts, and you just know no one ever even sees them, and when you pick them up you have to blow dust off them and everything? Well, I saw these, and when I picked the shoe up it felt just like a ballet flat – super soft, sole and all – so I had to give them a try. Of course they fit like a dream and felt like one as well, and the black studded straps really give them a unique, punky look. Not only that, but – THEY’S CHEAP, Y’ALL! The ones I got at Nordy’s were around $60, and after wearing them a few times I decided I had to have another pair, which I found online for $45. I love the pink the best, but I also figured having a black pair wouldn’t hurt, and I may grab the gray pair too Zappos has too. I mean, ballet flats really never go out of style, and this is the only kind I’ve ever really liked, so why not?
Next up, the Teva flatform:
Much like ballet flats, I love the look of flatform sandals and have tried many variations of them over the years; all of them have been awful. They tend to be clunky, heavy, and hard to walk in, but these Tevas are super-light and quite comfy. I first saw them at – where else – Free People, but ended up getting mine from Zappos for faster shipping. When it comes to sandals, my Birkenstocks are still my go-to shoes, but these are nice for something different. They come in this style, which is only $60 and has the standard cloth-ribbon velcro straps of a regular Teva, or, for $40 more you can get the ‘crafted’ version which is leather. I opted for the cheaper ones at first, figuring I could get the leather ones if I decided I liked them, but I actually prefer these cloth ones as the straps are comfy with a lot of give, and I suspect the leather ones would be more stiff and heavy. The only down side to these is the plastic buckles can kind of rub into the skin after a while, and the velcro on the straps can get itchy, but so far I haven’t had too many issues with either one of these things. I just probably won’t wear them anywhere I’m going to do any major walking.
And now – Pom Poms!
You can’t really see it, but that’s another Free People tee I’m wearing
Much as I love comfy jeans and tees, I also love comfy necklaces made out of interesting materials that are light and fun – one of my favorite necklaces is in the very first pics on this page; it’s several strands of braided cloth, and even though it’s big it’s super-light to wear and loads of fun. I stumbled across the Bauble Bar turquoise pom-pom necklace at Nordstrom (again) on one of my recent Galleria outings, and instantly it became a favorite. So of course, I had to go online and see if there were any more. I just got the black necklace in the mail, and picked up the bracelet when I was out today. I’m seeing quite a few pom-pom details on jewelry and hair accessories and purses (as Catherine mentions in this blog post) lately, so perhaps I’m just too easily influenced by advertising. Who knows – but in my latest perusal of the Free People website (which I visit for updates at least once a week) I spied this little number and just HAD to snag one, for photos if nothing else.
OK, almost done now, I swear. Last item:
Recently I discovered I had enough hair to pull into a bun, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done with it ever since. A few weeks ago when I was shopping at – you guessed it – NORDSTROM, I picked up a few of these little hair bands called invisibobbles, just because with my baby-fine hair I’m always on the lookout for hair accessories that can actually get a grip on it and hold it in place. And man, I really love these little thingies.
I didn’t really get why the company called them “traceless” at first, but apparently that means these don’t leave a big ‘dent’ in your hair when you wear them all day and take your ponytail out at night. That’s never been a big problem for me anyway, since my hair is so fine, so I can’t really speak to whether or not they actually do that (or don’t do it, I guess). But I do find that they have a hell of a good grip and will keep my hair held in a bun all day long without fail, and their claim to not give you a headache seems to hold up, too – although again, wearing my hair up all day is new to me in general, so I don’t know if other hair bands would have given me a headache more than this one does. But I can definitely say I don’t have a headache with these, and I love them. The “invisi” part of the name is confusing to me, though, since it implies it’s supposed to be invisible in the hair, I think (?), but I mean, you can see them. So there’s that. And they also come in a really cute little box that has all sorts of cute artwork and stuff all over them, so there’s that too.
In closing, I also bought a really cute pair of denim (of course!) flares today, at (of course) Free People, but I had to take them in to get them hemmed since they’re too long so I don’t have a photo of them. Instead, I stole a screen shot of them from the FP website, so I’ll close this post out by showing you a photo of a teenager’s butt. You’re welcome.
Oh and also – I did finally decide to buy that Jon Renau Sarah wig that was so crazy expensive but also looked soooo pretty, and it turns out it’s already on backorder until June 30th. So that’s a no-go for me. Oh well. You’ll have to find your review of Sarah elsewhere!