Month: March 2015

This Skirt is Everything

Zara box pleat skirt
Skirt, Zara; blouse, J. Crew (via consignment); necklace, J. Crew; shoes, Ivanka Trump

I mean, obviously, that is a slight exaggeration, but c’mon – how lovely is this skirt?

Zara box pleat skirt
who needs a pencil skirt?

I used to be a die-hard pencil skirt fan, but after returning to work from my last mat leave that started to change. I think a big part of the reason is that, unless a pencil skirt fits perfectly, it can be such a fussy garment. My weight has fluctuated quite a bit in the last 6 months and, well, you can start to understand my frustration with the old standby silhouette. Enter this Zara number. I’ll be honest: I paid way too much money for it (full retail price!) … aaaand I have no regrets. It’s incredibly flattering, notwithstanding the high waist and the past-the-knee hemline. It has a lovely, almost bell-like shape, but without any extra pouf around the mid-section (on the contrary). It is, quite simply, a skirt I could wear every week. And I plan on doing just that.

Zara box pleat skirt
textures and prints, oh my

I was a little concerned at first about how the skirt would work with blazers given its silhouette (high waist, midi length, full skirt), but I think I’ve hit on a good pairing. This J. Crew Factory tweed blazer nips in at the waist just enough to give the outfit some structure and help me avoid looking like I’m wearing a sack. Agreed? .

Zara box pleat skirt
blazer, J. Crew Factory

Clothes Swap 2015

NOTE: I was overwhelmed by the support and love that you guys sent my way after my last post, so I just wanted to write a quick note saying: thank you. THANK YOU. You guys rock. I’m still going through all your comments – and doing my best to respond to each one of them – and taking stock of your suggestions, and figuring out where the blog goes from here. I will probably do a follow-up post at some point, but it may take me some time to articulate all of my thoughts in some sort of coherent manner. In the meantime I’ve decided to run a few posts that have been kicking about in the drafts folder for a while. Hope you like them.

It’s March, and that means it’s time for another clothing swap. I host one every year (20142013, 2012) and every year I am amazed by (a) how many clothes I manage to accumulate (despite swearing up and down the previous year that it would not happen again), and (b) how much fun the whole thing ends up being, despite my twenty kinds of unnecessary stressing beforehand. Truly, the hostess power is not strong with yours truly. It’s probably because I don’t have a Pinterest account. Or perhaps why. (It’s a chicken or egg thing, really.) But, I do try:

clothing swap party
Setting up (with a sneak peek at our living room remod)

This year’s theme was East Meets West (think sushi and hot wings), so I had to add some fortune cookies to the mix. On bunny plates that had absolutely nothing to do with the theme, because why not. (For the record, my husband picked those out at Winners. I bet you didn’t see that coming.) Anyway, it looked cute:

clothing swap party
flowers & fortune cookies
clothing swap party
bunny guarding the fortunes
clothing swap party
one more photo because my Costco flowers look pretty nice

Some of my guests asked about the floral arrangements, so I’ll share my “secret” here as well, in case someone hasn’t yet discovered it for themselves: Costco flowers, peeps. Four hydrangea stems, and two dozen roses set me back about $30, and they are ridiculously easy to arrange at home. And here’s my mom’s tip for getting the roses to open up nicely: when you get them home, cut the stems down and add ice to their water. Easy peasy.

Also easy? Store-bought dessert. Keeps the party prep time to a manageable level, and is delicious to boot.

clothing swap party
the sweet loot

Since we’re talking about a clothing swap, I guess you might be curious about the clothes. Here is what left my closet (and my mom’s!):

clothing swap party
those are not ALL mine, ahem …

And here is what came in:

clothing swap party
LOFT lace top (sleeveless version)
clothing swap party
AG “The Club” flares

The LOFT eyelet sleeveless top is perfect under my work blazers, and the cream colour will be very versatile, I think. I decided to take the AG jeans, despite not being a fan of flares, because they fit me incredibly well in the waist/butt/hip area. These jeans have a definite 70s vibe to them, which seems to be a big trend again this year, so I figured this would be the cheapest way to try a new look. Because they are also extra long, I decided to keep a pair of super high platform sandals I had planned on purging. To balance out the shoe equation, I also got a pair of strappy Zara flat sandals. Oh, and some ginormous Cavalli sunglasses.

And then, there was this:

clothing swap party
H&M green sheath dress

I remember seeing this dress on Jean, two or three years ago, so obviously it made an impression on me. I don’t really shop at H&M for myself anymore (I do buy some kids’ stuff there), but I figured this one was worth keeping around … at least for a while, especially with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner (and a client event where we’ve been encouraged to dress to theme). If it doesn’t end up getting a lot of wear, well, there is always next year’s swap!

This marked the 8th year that I’ve hosted a clothing swap, and it has never not been a ton of fun. Getting some awesome new-to-me clothes is a big part of it, for sure, but it is even better to get a chance to catch up with friends, old and new. So, if you’ve ever thought about hosting (or attending) a clothing swap – do ittttt! I mean, you probably won’t have a terrible time or anything.

And if you’ve done it before, tell me what you thought about the whole experience.

So, We Need to Talk

Uh oh.

That’s always my first reaction when I hear that phrase. But, don’t worry: this is not going to be that kind of talk.

At least, I don’t think it is.

The truth is that I’ve been feeling a lot of, well, negative feelings about blogging, and this blog in particular, lately. I’m not so much burnt out, as bitter. And that, you guys, is not a good feeling. It’s not the feeling I want to get from something I do as a hobby – a distraction from everyday stresses. I’ve asked myself numerous times why it is that I periodically get to this point with the blog, and the truth ain’t so pretty.

I get jealous.

Jealous of the fact that other bloggers have more traffic and more reader engagement. More followers on Instagram. More comments. More recognition. I hate to feel like I’m failing, and after almost 5 years, this blog seems like an exercise in perpetual failure. And it pains me to say that, even if it reflects what I’m feeling, because I don’t want to sound ungrateful – truly. I am so proud and honoured that each of you takes the time to read my blog, and I don’t want to sound dismissive of what you have contributed to the small community that has developed here. I don’t know why, at times, I start feeling like that’s not enough – and that’s on me. I’m not sure if I can work through it and get past it, or if the only answer, ultimately, is shutting down this blog for good.

But! (And this is why I started writing this post in the first place, in case you were starting to wonder.)

I’m trying. I was bitching about my feelings of inadequacy on a bloggers’ forum recently, and someone brought up a really good point. Who am I writing this blog for? Not me. I mean, let’s face it: I’m not posting photos of myself on the internet for my own benefit. (Instagram exists solely, I think, to satisfy our innate narcissistic tendencies.) I am writing for someone. For you, hopefully. I am writing because I want to connect with people who understand and share my love of clothes, and dressing up. There has to be a way that I can re-define “success” for myself in that context – a way that doesn’t involve comparing myself, and this blog, to people I don’t actually want to be (or emulate). Part of that, it was suggested to me, might have to do with better understanding what kind of audience I want, and what they would want from a blog like this.

So I would like to ask you for a favour. Whether you’ve been a long-time reader, or you’ve just stumbled onto BCRL yesterday, please take a moment or two and tell me: what are you looking for in a personal style blog? What are your deal-breakers? What can I do (content-wise, or blog design-wise) to make BCRL better? If you want to throw in what you love (and hate?) about the blog, all the better. What I hope your comments will tell me, ultimately, is whether there is still a reason for BCRL to exist – whether there is an audience for it (amid the bazillion other style blogs out there), and whether I can deliver whatever it is that, well, you are looking for. I don’t know what the answer is … but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Thank you.