A sneakerhead is born

I've always owned a pair of classic black & white Converse Chuck Taylors. They were my signature look until a few years ago when they fell out of constant rotation. They just didn't quite look right with most of my outfits. Oxfords, refined flat boots, and the like took their place.

But, comfortable shoes are great. And the thing is, I'm really a casual person, just not sporty. I needed sneakers that fit my minimalist aesthetic and had a bit of edge. And I ended up with not one, not two, but four new pairs of sneakers. I can see how people fall into the rabbit hole of sneaker collabs... there's always some new limited edition.

I'm wearing all of these happily but I really need to stop here and NO MORE SHOES until these are worn into the ground. After my moth incident, I tidied up my "closet" (aka half my bedroom) and bought an Ikea shoe rack to contain the shoe situation. With the rack and the white shoe-filing cabinet, I have just enough space for my current collection -- and no more.

1. Puma x En Noir Clyde in nubuck. So comfy. These have become my go-to shoes for travel. A little more casual than my usual. My boyfriend liked them so much that he bought his own pair.

2. Puma x Stampd Clyde in perforated leather. Uh. I know I don't need two pairs of Pumas but these are all I've ever wanted in a minimalist sneaker. They're more refined than the other pair, with unlined leather and a pared-down look.

3. Converse Modern Lux. They were stupidly expensive for Converse, but the minimalist touches really called out to me. And they're perfect with all my new cropped wide-leg jeans. Unfortunately they're a little narrow, but I cut the tags and wore them today with no real discomfort. (While creating the Find for this post, I discovered the price had dropped from $140 to $70, and I got a price adjustment from Nike!!)

4. Atelje71 Emerald. These were probably a mistake, bought from Gilt a few months back. I like the retro 90s style but they're too big (I was between sizes) and my heel slides up and down. They don't work with cropped jeans the way I was hoping, but they're cool with skinnies or boyfriend jeans.

No more sneakers allowed. (But if any of you are looking, the Puma Stampd shoes also came in a dusty rose that might still be available in some stores, as well as white-ish and light grey that you can still get at Puma. Sizes are men's/unisex.)

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Monochrome essentials

With everything one color, it was a fun and surprisingly easy task to group things into essential categories. My wardrobe is more coherent than I realized. And the things that don't fit in these categories don't get worn very often.

  • button-down shirts, sleeveless and long sleeve (silk, cotton)
  • shirt dresses worn as tunics (silk, denim, cotton)
  • low-neck tees (the deep v adds some structure to outfits)
  • tunic-length tees and tanks
  • long cardigans, boxy cardigans (cotton, wool)
  • light v-neck pullovers (cotton, silk)
  • sleeveless or short-sleeve wool pullovers, often structured felted fabric
  • three jeans silhouettes: skinny, relaxed skinny, and boyfriend.
  • biker jackets (leather, denim, wool)
  • not black: white buttoned shirts and tees

I'm currently adding wide-leg jeans to the mix -- we'll see if it sticks. To go with the new jeans, I think I also need to add fitted knit tops, and maybe some grey or white options for contrast. I could also use a few more summer-weight cardigans of different shapes.

I can pick out some details that make these things feel like essentials, not just basics. The heavy wool sleeveless tops (eg, Helmut Lang felted wool funnel neck) and silk shirts are really my go-tos. My cardigans are interesting, almost architectural shapes.

This list is going to be really useful for packing!

Things that aren't represented at all, even though I own plenty of them:

  • skirts (ok, a denim skirt probably should be on the list)
  • pants that aren't jeans
  • pullover crewneck sweaters
  • grey (never wear it, except today, as it happens)
  • blazers (I LOVE my blazers but I guess I just never wear them)
  • dresses
Edit: On statements: I think my leather jacket and the structured wool tops might actually be statement items, come to think of it. Same with one or two of the shirt-dress looks. And the blazers and dresses would fit in that when I do wear them. But I think my overall look is a statement silhouette made out of essential items, rather than statement items, if that makes sense.

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My faculty interview clothing! Decision time.

I have a faculty job interview at an med school in New York, on Wednesday and Thursday. Eek. Luckily most of my interview capsule still fits and I have a lot of good options. I just need to decide today before I fly out tomorrow morning.

Job talks are the only time you'll see a biologist in a suit, and a suit can be overkill, especially in the basic research departments that are full of mad scientist types who wear jeans and old t-shirts to lab. My friend there said most candidates didn't wear suits - but I'm not sure he'd notice what someone wore! As a woman I have a lot of leeway to wear what I want, but I also have to think about blending in (there are no women in this department yet, which I know they're trying to improve!).

So my goal is:

  1. True to my personal aesthetic
  2. Something I feel confident and relaxed in
  3. Snazzy but not standing out too much

Notes:

  1. I do not have time to hem or alter anything. :(
  2. I'll wear my hair down as in these photos, and just a touch of makeup
  3. On Wednesday it will be 60 degrees(!) so I can wear open shoes, but I'll have ankle boots in case of rain.
  4. These photos are awful, sorry!

Option 1 (photos 1-4): This is my default.

  • Everlane wool trousers (need a good steaming, which I will do at the hotel)
  • Milly silk shell (omg I love this HEWI, found at Crossroads last month)
  • Theyskens wool blazer
  • LD Tuttle shoes

The trousers are too big but the silhouette under the jacket is better than other black trousers in my wardrobe. I like the slim cut of the legs. I plan to keep the jacket on.

Option 2 (5-8): 
Same, with grey wool Rag & Bone trousers. I found these at the Rack for $40 and they fit quite well (other than the length? which is passable). I'm not sure I like the black jacket, grey trousers combo. I only wear black normally, so I actually feel uncomfortable in this outfit. But the all-black suit in option 1 is also rather stark, so perhaps this is a nice way to tone it down.

Option 3 (9-10):
Same, with R13 jeans. Friends in similar departments say the jeans would be fine, but I understand why you all said no on this. The appeal here is that the skinny legs work very well with the bold, wide jacket; with wider pants, the jacket just makes me look larger than I am.

Day 2 (11-12):
This is what I'm wearing for the second day of the interview, meeting with all the faculty individually. R13 crossover jeans, Uniqlo silk shirt, Allsaints ankle boots. Also adding my favorite dressy cardigan because it'll be cold, but I accidentally deleted that photo.

Random other things:
I am not going to wear a skirt (it's a bad idea, fair or not), but I like these looks. The silk DeMeulemeester skirt needs to be steamed. The wool skirt is another Rag & Bone Rack score, also $40, and I love it so much that I'm keeping it even if I never need a professional skirt.

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When your formal capsule... is covered in mildew!

The title says it all. I'm heading to a wedding this weekend. The other day I pulled my fancy Theyskens Theory fishtail skirt out from the guest room closet, and the bottom is covered in little spots of what must be mildew. Damn it. I don't know if there's a leak in there, or if I put it away wet, or what.

It might be clean-able, but not this week.

The wedding is a very out-there crowd, all bright mohawks and techno-goth finery, and the clothing suggestion is "elegant but non-stuffy" (black is fine, even encouraged). And it'll be sort of chilly at the venue. So I fell back to a different plan, a simple LBD, fishnets, and this amazing silver leather coat that I found at a thrift store right when I joined YLF: http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....oween-look

So I'm not sure what the moral of this story is. Either, check your formalwear capsules occasionally for moth / mildew / fit issues, unlike me. Or, good thing I had a good formalwear capsule, with a few other options ready to go!

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Uniqlo has taken over my wardrobe!

I just updated my Pinterest boards with some new purchases and had a strange realization: 2/3 of the clothing I've bought since summer is from Uniqlo! I guess they really are the new Gap for me: versatile, high-quality, natural fibers, and most things come in black...

Have you found one brand taking over? Do you try to put the brakes on it before it goes too far? I go through phases of focusing on basics and it might be time to seek out a few special items to balance it out.

Basic or not, I love almost every one of these and they're basics with a bit of style. A lot are from the recent Uniqlo U line which was directed by Lemaire in some way. They filled a lot of niches in my wardrobe. So, I'm putting this all solidly in the positive category -- I just hadn't quite noticed what a trend it was!

(I'm including Finds for images but alas, almost all are sold out.)

Uniqlo U:

  • wool milano-knit sweater with a distinctive boxy cut that is somehow flattering
  • 70s-esque crewneck tee of the most amazing thick cotton - I wish I could have bought four, and some in white, but they sold out
  • fitted button-down shirt, something I'd wanted for ages
  • long button-down tunic, ditto
  • denim A-line midi skirt - I don't know yet if this one is in the "love" category, as I waffled too long on keeping it and missed the return window

Regular Uniqlo:

  • men's flannel shirt that I could wear every day
  • sleeveless tunic-length tee that is instantly flattering
  • v-neck tunic tee, same (not shown because I couldn't make a find)
  • boxy boiled-wool sweater coat that is admittedly not (conventionally) flattering but I wear it at least once a week

If I added my new R13 jeans to this set, it would almost be a perfect capsule wardrobe!

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Getting with the program: wide leg crops and PPL

Happy Election Day, US folks!

My jeans wardrobe needs an overhaul. One coveted item is a pair of black wide-leg cropped jeans. I dislike flares / bell-bottoms on myself, so I'm going for straight wide legs. Crops are hard on my very short legs, so I'm looking for some tough love on PPL.

Here's my jeans pinterest board, things that have caught my eye whether they're in my price range or not:
https://www.pinterest.com/monochro/jean-ome/

I can't decide between a few different styles. I bought two, but I may keep neither of these. 

1. Madewell high waist wide-leg jeans. They're an affordable duplicate of the pricey Rachel Comey Legion jeans. 70s-style at the top -- this is honestly something I have a poison eye for, on myself. Tight through the rise -- one size up is probably too big, but I should go back to the store and try it. I would cut them off to get the intended look on my short legs, maybe where I've folded them in the third photo?

2. Rag & Bone wide-leg jeans with a 2000s look to them. The low waist is less trendy but much much more comfortable on my fussy tummy. They're new, but do they look too dated? Could I crop these to modernize them or would they work best floor-length like we wore them back then? How short should I crop them, if so? 

The other contender is the straighter CoH crops in finds. Honestly I sort of love them. They're more my style, if they fit: medium rise, weathered denim, a bit grunge. I always go for grunge over 70s. But are they too much like boyfriend jeans?

Other jeans suggestions appreciated too!

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Ask Angie: cropped tops and high waisted pants

With my long torso and short legs, high rise pants could be a great idea. But I am often at a loss for what to wear with higher rise trousers.

And, on the flip side, slightly cropped tops are everywhere this season. That seems like a good solution, but I can't quite make it work. My torso is long and a bare midriff isn't acceptable for work, so I have to be careful. Even mid-rise jeans are far too low on me for these tops.

So I'm in a bind. I would love to introduce both silhouettes into my wardrobe, but I never seem to find the right way to wear them.

I bought the lovely Banana Republic shirt in Finds below, then tried it with everything in my wardrobe and nothing quite looked right. Similarly, I'm not sure what to wear with the high-waisted Alice + Olivia trousers that I bought. They do work together, I think! A few other examples below.

I'd love to see ensembles that combine these shapes in interesting ways! Anyone have favorite inspiration photos or items? Do you all wear cropped tops?

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The interview suit: advice needed! (K/R)

I have an interview for a faculty job next month. I'm going to wear a suit for the first day. I have a lovely Club Monaco black wool suit that has appeared on YLF before, but when I tried it on a few weeks ago, disaster! The pants were too small and the blazer is getting a bit tight.

So I started an orgy of pants-shopping. Then I tried the first pants on again yesterday, and they fit! I hope that persists for another month.

Now I have a few other options that I wanted opinions on, plus fit and length questions about the original pants. Everything is solid black, so in a few cases I adjusted the photos to make details more visible. I will probably wear my LD Tuttle ankle-strap d'orsay flats that are roughly the same as the shoes I'm wearing here.

1-4: Beloved old suit. Club Monaco "Abbie" blazer and "Meredith" pants. The pants are a touch tight in the butt but my boyfriend thinks they look perfectly work-appropriate. Do you agree? Should I shorten them? They were meant to be ankle length but I think this might be ok as is. The blazer probably looks better unbuttoned, as it's getting a tiny bit tight, now that I look at these photos. A shame, because until recently it was a fantastic fit.

5-9: Alice + Olivia "Anders" high-waisted wool slacks. I love the proportions on my waist, but I don't know about the length (should I alter them?) and the topheavy shape doesn't go as well with the long blazer. Keep or return? For the interview? For other use? I rarely wear wool slacks to work, but these are so nice.

10-12: These had such potential, but I think they're a no. Alice + Olivia "Arthur" pleated silk slacks. They're lovely, and I thought they'd be an interesting soft contrast to the blazer. I was all set to buy them from Saks when I found a pair used at Crossroads for $30! They're a 2, my size in all my other A+O pants, but in the photos I realize I'm swimming in them. Probably not worth buying the size down ($$$) for the interview, right?

13-14: A wildcard that will probably be returned: Theyskens' Theory silk blazer. Identical to a different wool blazer that I (and shedev) own, but somehow more fitted. Ignore the pants here. They were summarily rejected.

I also have to decide what to wear for the second day of the interview, and I have a few other wildcard options for either day. I also have two styles of Everlane wool slacks arriving tonight. But, I am leaning towards the original suit pants after all, unless I re-gain a few pounds before June.

Your opinions are greatly appreciated.

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Travel capsule for Berlin

I'm heading to Germany for a week, leaving tomorrow. The first few days are a conference in Heidelberg (at which I am giving a talk) and the second half is tourism in Berlin. I think I can manage with a single carry-on. I collected everything I might bring into a pinterest board:
http://www.pinterest.com/monochro/travel-capsule/

Items:
shoes: flats, ankle boots, tall boots (comfortable for walking, good for rain)
bottoms: 3-4 pairs of jeans, knit skirt, leather shorts
dresses: shirtdress, t-shirt dress?, drapey knit dress
tops: assorted
warmth: lightweight wool cardigan
jackets: denim, leather?

Scenarios:
wandering the city: jeans with tall boots, basic top
low-key nightclubs: leather shorts, silk blouse or wool top, ankle boots
giving my talk: white button-down tunic, black straight jeans, flats
hanging out with scientists: assorted
restaurants: assorted

I love everything in my list right now, but I worry that I'm overlooking something. E.g., will I be too cold? (Probably not. I run hot.) Will my ripped boyfriend jeans be inappropriate? (Again, probably not - Berlin is full of young hipster types.) Will I fit into my jeans? (A good question but I am ignoring that problem.) Am I bringing too much? (Probably.) Will I be underdressed for clubs?

If anyone has favorite edgy boutiques, etc, in Berlin, let me know! I'm looking forward to visiting COS in person, and I also noticed that Zara prices are much lower there than here. But those are both chains I can get here...

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Does basic get too basic?

Yesterday, I went to an open studios event at Everlane. They're an online clothing line that designs basic clothes and works directly with factories to make high-quality items for less money (by keeping their line very focused and cutting out the middle layers of wholesale->retail).

They're based down the street from me, and they had an open house to let people try on their not-yet-released fall things and also the items they have available for 1-hour delivery in SF. It was nice to get a sense of the sizing on different items. Though it was one of our hottest days, so trying on chunky merino was painful!

Anyway, here's the thing. My wardrobe - tops, especially - is becoming full of basics, often repeated. I have 5 or 6 black Uniqlo drapey cotton tees that are perfect with everything. I could happily wear black sleeveless silk shirts three or four times a week. I have a new one from Everlane that is amazing thick silk, as good as Equipment, so I might duplicate it - or triplicate. I was tempted to get a few of their black silk tank tops, also, and another long-sleeve silk blouse to go along with my two Uniqlo Ines de la Fressange silk blouses (another duplicate...).

But, with my current obsession with Uniqlo (for cheap basics), Everlane (for minimalist staples like silk tops), and COS (still haven't bought anything) - am I going to become too boring? I'm trying to give myself permission to stock up on the silk tops but I worry that I'm going to get stuck in a rut.

I guess I rely on all-black for impact, and I think that's ok. I have high-quality shoes and a selection of crazy pants and skirts. Maybe I should just recognize that tops are not where I want to be crazy. I get enough drama from basic silhouettes. I also recognize that this is fitting a trend shift towards luxe basics. It feels hipster (in a good way) and French (also in a good way).

Some of the tops in question:
https://www.everlane.com/colle.....cket-black
https://www.everlane.com/colle.....tank-black

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