Friday miscellany: What I’m wearing now

We didn’t get the record-low temperatures folks out in the midwest did, but this has been a chilly week nonetheless. I’ve still managed to get my 20 minutes outside per day. I am slowly learning to like winter, or at least getting to know its many moods. Ten degrees (Fahrenheit) feels different from 20, which feels different from 30. Flurries feel different from a driving powdery snow, which feels different from a wet, fast-accumulating snow… (which we haven’t gotten much of yet).

My newfound ability to take this analytical approach is partially a function of good gear. Yesterday when I went to pick up my 11-year-old at his middle school, I went a little early and walked outside for 10 minutes. I wore my knee-length Eddie Bauer coat, my Muck boots, plus a hat and gloves. When I keep my hands in my pockets, this ensemble actually leaves me reasonably toasty at 15 degrees. The sun felt nice on my face. For the evening wrestling pick-up hike across a parking lot, I added a scarf. I did not have a scarf this morning for the 10-degree wait for the elementary school bus, and I felt its absence.

My 8-year-old car started in the cold (with a wee bit of protest), but our 5-year-old minivan did not. The battery turned out to be shot (this happened before the worst of the cold, so I think the timing was coincidental). That has now been replaced.

Anyway, since Sarah and I were thinking about doing another superficial things podcast episode, and she’s doing a tour of black work pants over on her blog, I’ve been thinking about what I actually wear. Sadly, there is never a moment when thinking about this is done. My Eddie Bauer coat and Muck boots have lasted for 2.5 winters at this point, but like the minivan’s battery, nothing is eternal. My favorite pair of jeans are crossing into the don’t-wear-these-anywhere-that’s-not-terribly-casual territory. At least, 40 years into life, I’m starting to realize what I should replace things with. My uniform:

Day-to-day. I work at home most days. I wear a rotating set of straight-leg jeans. Currently in the rotation: An “ankle-length” pair of Mother jeans that didn’t need to be hemmed on 5’5″ me, my favorite pair of frayed “ankle length” (normal length on me)  Mother jeans that now have a hole in the knee, a pair of AG Harper straight jeans that I didn’t wear for a while because the post-hemming length didn’t work with my shoes but then I got different shoes, and a pair of Paige straight leg jeans that recently returned from the dry-cleaner at the right length. All these are a mid- to dark wash. I got a pair of the frayed Mother jeans in a lighter color…but I don’t wear them much. Lesson learned.

On top, I wear a rotating set of Gibson tunics. I have 5 of these. I cannot imagine wearing these in the off-the-shoulder version but in the traditional approach they have a small cowl neck that I like. Since they seem to be on sale, I should take my own advice and buy an additional copy of the colors I wear most frequently so when the originals wear out, I can stick with my uniform.

I don’t need a whole lot of standard office attire. When I’m in work clothes, I’m generally giving a speech, which means I need to be in something that is a little dressier and more vivid. However, if I did work in an office, I’m pretty sure I’d wear my Gibson tunics with my two favorite pairs of black work pants. These are my M.M. Lafleur Foster pants (straight leg), and my Theory pants. The Theory ones have a very slight boot cut to them, but it’s pretty slight. You can see them in my TED video.

Also on the TED video: The St. John electric blue top I wear for a lot of speeches, and for TV. I also wear a few blue sheath dresses frequently (see this one on Morning Joe). I have a navy M.M. Lafleur knit sheath that I have been pairing with a red drape-y cardigan for speeches.

I also have an Olian black wrap that I wear all the time if I’m wearing any top other than my Gibson tunics. I wear it so often I had to re-buy it on ThredUp. Fun fact: this wrap is technically a maternity item, so after I purchased it I started getting all sorts of maternity ads. Aren’t cookies fun?

Shoes: I have a pair of Clark’s platform heels in a nude color (pictured) that I wear for almost all formal occasions. Over the years, I’ve bought a number of fancy heels, and I pretty much never wear them. I can’t stand not being comfortable. I wish I could feel differently but I just can’t. So these shoes are somewhere in the Venn diagram overlap between comfortable and reasonably dressy looking, though as you can see, they’re not exactly stunning. I also have a pair of Clark’s nude-ish wedges (re-bought on eBay after I spilled sunscreen all over the first pair). I was wearing those everywhere but then I bought a pair of Skechers slip-on sneaker type shoes that work better with my jeans, so I’ve been wearing those a lot.

That’s the uniform. What do you find yourself wearing over and over again?


13 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: What I’m wearing now

  1. Oh, how I love a uniform! Yours sounds perfect for a writer in a home office.

    My uniform: knee or just-below-knee fitted dress (mostly J. Crew and Boden), fitted blazer (always J. Crew), and a long dangly necklace. Heels: 3-4 inches, bone or black. Same black work bag every day since 2007.

    Do you have any “signature” elements (scent, jewelry, beauty product, etc.)? By default I ended up with a signature scent by wearing Dior Addict pretty much every day since 2003. It seems to be out of production now, so at some point the back stock of botttles will disappear and it’ll be time for a new scent!

  2. I rotate pairs of Betabrand yoga dress pants and a few sweaters in the winter. Plus dressy tennis shoes. I do speech/language therapy, so I need to pull off semi professional but still able to move around quickly/squat/sit on the floor! I’m pretty loyal to my yoga dress pants!

    1. @Katie- I am intrigued by the dress/yoga pant concept. It seems like it could work great. Of course, it could also fail – so glad to get your vote for a particular brand.

  3. I second the Betabrand dress yoga pants. They are my go to travel work pant. I mostly work from home so my uniform is a rotation of Paige jeans (they’re one of the few brands long enough) and a Costco Tommy Bahama v-neck T-shirt in black or white. When I travel I pair a draped blouse with the Betabrands and I don’t have to iron.

    I highly recommend AllBird shoes too- they’re super comfy but can also be paired with slacks when needed.

  4. I love theory pants. My most recent pair I purchased last year. They are black wide leg. They go with everything. I recently discovered I can wear fleece leggings under them and they still look good. 😮. I pair them with one of five Boden cashmere sweaters that I got half off at the end of the season over the past few years, or a JCrew cardigan that I got about… 8 years ago? I wear pikolino booties with this outfit. I wear wool compression knee socks in argyle patterns. This when I’m not in scrubs. For summer I have some dresses and cropped theory black pants I got about 5 years ago. I pair that with the Boden ravello top that I have in a variety of colors, and a pair of snake skin colored Tieks flats. I’ve been thinking that I should get a pair of pumps but I HATE heels and have terrible feet so have been putting it off. I did buy a pair of Stuart Weizmann heels for going out about a year ago and they’ve been about 1000x better than the plastic crap shoes I used to get at DSW. The rest of the time I’m in scrubs, or if I’m out and about this year I’ve been doing fleece leggings rather than jeans, which has been soooooo comfy (athleta). I really like sweatshirts haha which are probably more informal than I should be most of the time. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  5. I loved this post! I live in a very cold climate with snow all winter, so I can’t bear to wear anything but merino wool sweaters. They feel warm without being thick. United Colors of Benetton has my favorite one and I have bought it in lots of colors. Sometimes I mix it up with a knit dress and thick tights. I am a doctor so I throw a white coat over it all to protect my clothes from icky stuff.

  6. Hi – you mentioned in a previous podcast that you have put on weight. Yet your running streak is unbroken. SHU has lost weight even though she hasn’t been running as much. Why is there no correlation between exercising and weight loss? I’d love to you guys to explore this is a forthcoming ‘superficial’ podcast.

  7. Ooh, my Nordstrom Trunk came with one of those Gibson tops and I think it was just way too big, so I sent it back. I might have to try again in a smaller size so it’s not quite so shapeless.

    I am enjoying “winter” in Northern California. It’s actually in the 30s here in the morning, so I get to wear a lot of my cold weather stuff from Seattle. Eddie Bauer is my go-to for coats. Even though I work from home, I wear a lot of casual dresses and leggings. It’s just so comfy. I have been wearing boots nonstop because next month it’ll be too hot to wear them, so I have to grab the opportunity now 🙂

    I was SO TIRED of my warm weather clothes which I wear from mid March – early November, so I realized I actually do need to put together a seasonal wardrobe so that I have some “fall” stuff that’s really just summer clothes in fall colors so I have something different to wear before it gets cold enough to wear long sleeves.

    I have been surprised to find we actually have 4 identifiable seasons here, unlike in Seattle which had 2 😉

  8. Yes – dress for the weather! I am Canadian (living in the Midwest) and so people always say “you must like the cold.” I then quickly inform them that I in fact HATE the cold, but that as a Canadian, I know how to dress for the weather, and that is the difference. In Canada, we can function in – and, with the right clothes/mindset , even enjoy – the cold weather. Proper coat, additional base layer (sweatshirt, vest, etc.), mitts/gloves, hat/hood, decent boots, and even long johns or snow pants when it’s really cold (this can be key). I’m not a huge fan of scarves, and prefer just having a hood that zips or draws up over your neck/mouth that you can kind of hide your face in. It’s just not that big of a deal if you’re dressed properly… just takes more time/planning.

    As for uniform, I mostly wear stretchy skinny jeans (Express) with some sort of nice-ish shirt and a cardigan. And boots. Always flat. I would actually be happy to wear more flared pants, but I find it challenging to match with appropriate footwear since I’m not interested in heels and flats just don’t work so well in the winter or with wider pants . I have a pair of “clogs” that I will wear maybe once a week with my nicer flared work pants. In the summer I’ll wear jeans or 3/4 pants with sandals/flats and similar shirt/cardigan combo (always cold inside office regardless of outdoor temp!!!).

  9. Those nude heels look like they’d go with everything AND they elongate the leg, so that’s a great choice. (And I’ll add to the chorus of Betabrand yoga pant fans!)

    I’ve been looking for more cowlneck sweaters so I ordered the one you mentioned in dark purple. I love it so much I’m ordering it in more colors but the care instructions say handwash. You don’t seem like someone who’d do a ton of handwash, Laura, so I’m curious if you’ve found a workaround? Do you dry clean them, throw them in the wash or actually handwash and line-dry as the care instructions state?

    1. @Susan – sorry about the hand-wash thing. I should have warned people in the post! You’re right that I’m not a good hand-washing person. I was reluctantly hand-washing my sweaters…infrequently…and then I decided screw it and now I send them to the dry cleaners. I have 5 of the Gibson cowl-neck tops, so I wear each probably 2-3 times, then send them all in once a month. They seem to come home cleaner than I was getting them. This may shorten their life, but they’re really not that expensive so that’s probably OK.

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