As I’ve mentioned previously, I have this weird thing with leggings. But, this is why I love Le Tote. One of you lovely readers mentioned I should try a tunic or a dress that seemed just a tad too short and see if I could make leggings work that way. Good call! Because one day last week I just wanted to be comfy. Thankfully I had added this tunic/dress to my Le Tote closet and it was perfect.
I really liked this outfit….except my leggings were too big! I never thought I’d need to buy leggings, though, and Old Navy doesn’t have these exact ones any more. I’ve heard good things about the Zella leggings from Nordstrom, though, so I might have to check those out.
Also, I think I might re-wear this exact same outfit for Thanksgiving before I send back my Tote. Leggings plus tunic seem like the perfect combination for eating and lounging, am I right?
I’ve recently noticed quite a few Chicago bloggers getting awesome partnership deals, finding amazing photographers to take their photos all over the city, even appearing on ads around town.
Scarf – gift (similar) | Shirt – Express (same) | Jeans – American Eagle Outfitters (same) | Shoes – Steven c/o Shopbop (similar)
I am not one of those bloggers. My photographer is my husband. I don’t hustle and pitch to brands. I can barely manage to get photos once a week. If you ever needed any proof of that, this post is it. As I previously mentioned, my husband started a job that means we both leave the house before the sun is up and we both get home after the sun sets. Weekends have been full of exciting things which means no outfit photo shoots then, either.
Which is why today we are resorting to photos I took in the bathroom at work. Yep.
I don’t lead a glamorous blogger lifestyle and, you know, for as much as I envy some of those bloggers who have amazing photos and amazing brand partnerships I know that they worked really hard for those and they treat their blog like a part-time job.
It’s a good thing I have a backlog of photos to post. Why? Because my husband started a new job on Monday and I have a feeling that his new schedule and commute, combined with the slowly decreasing daylight hours, means outfit photos won’t happen nearly as often.
And, yes, for those of you keeping track, this is his third job since he graduated with his chemistry degree less than two years ago. The first one was not a good fit and the second one was a contract job with a corporate policy of A. not hiring people with “only” Bachelor’s degrees and B. not keeping contractors for more than a year.
This new job is at least contract-to-hire but, unfortunately, his commute is going to be horrid. Which is why we’re thinking of moving to the suburbs when our lease is up.
Which breaks my heart.
Blazer – The Limited (same) | Dress – Le Tote (same) | Shoes – J. Crew Factory (similar) |Necklace – gift (similar)
There are lots of reasons that it makes sense to move to the ‘burbs. It’s easier for me to commute downtown than it is for Jason to commute out there. We could get a place with a garage where Jason can work on his car and still save money for retirement (which needs to be happening at a much faster pace). And I’m sure there are other benefits that I can’t think of right now. Relationships are about compromise, right?
Nicole at Cedar & Rush recently made a similar move and she blogged about how sometimes we have to “give up things we LIKE, to get the things we LOVE.”
Does moving to the ‘burbs get me closer to something I love? I honestly don’t know right now. But, hey, even 5 years ago I didn’t want to move into the actual city of Chicago! Life isn’t always so black and white, you know?
This past weekend Jason and I drove to visit his parents in their new home in Carmel, IN. I didn’t realize until after the fact that the last time we visited them I wore this same dress, albeit under completely different circumstances.
No more mountains in the background, for one. Carmel, Indiana is quite a bit different than Flagstaff, Arizona.
Other than Jason breaking our car to the point where we had to borrow one of his parents’ cars to drive home and now we have to go back this weekend so he can repair his car, I actually enjoyed my visit. Carmel has an adorable downtown that I hope to feature in future posts. It also has a great biking/running/walking trail that I explored two days in a row. One day while running and another day while biking. I borrowed my mother-in-law’s bike and rode over 20 miles on it. And stopped for Square Donuts.
I may have also boasted that I’m pretty sure I can eat the Big Ugly burger at Bub’s and now I think someone is going to hold me to that. Maybe I’ll run the half marathon there on December 12th. Pretty sure I can eat a one-pound burger after that.
Anyway, Carmel might not have the skiing that Flagstaff does, but I think I’ll find enough stuff to keep me busy. Other than visiting my in-laws, of course!
P.S. It was in the 90s while we were there and I hate wearing shorts in the car, so I went with this dress since it can be dressed up or down. Also, I just noticed that my attempt to photoshop out the HORRIBLE bruises on my shins from deadlifting 215 pounds turns out kind of ridiculous in the last photo. See if you can tell….#humblebrag
I don’t really know how to write this post without sounding like I’m bragging or like I’m vain or, I don’t know, like there’s something wrong with me. Because I’m not writing it for any of those reasons. I’m writing it because I’m proud and I want to share something that’s been working for me.
I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Wait. This is a style blog. Why are you talking about working out?? Don’t you have a fitness blog for that?”
But here’s the thing: working out can change your body. And when your body changes it changes what you wear.
For example, take these three dresses.
Which are all from Le Tote, by the way. Which I love because it lets me try things I wouldn’t think I could wear…until now. Try it yourself for 50% off with code ERIN25. Sales pitch over.
Last year at this time I wouldn’t have felt comfortable wearing them. In fact, for the longest time I didn’t feel comfortable in a wrap dress at all. I felt like they clung, showed every bump I had (or imagined I had) and just weren’t flattering. Never mind a body-skimming knit dress that could possibly enhance a bulge or two.
Now, I know, you’re rolling your eyes and thinking that I’ve always looked just fine. But, when you’re in your own body and wearing your clothes every day you can tell when something is off. In fact, I noticed it with my red and green pants.
When I replaced my original red pants I had to go up a size. Actually, I had to go up two sizes. And I almost replaced these green pants that I’ve had since 2012 because they had gotten too tight in the waist. I haven’t been a couch potato in years, but clearly whatever I was doing (running all the time) wasn’t doing enough.
But last fall I met a woman in my office who had an enviable physique. I asked her what her secret was and she told it was the book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. So, I bought it. And it became my bible. How to eat, how to workout, what to lift at the gym. I even got a personal trainer that I meet with once a week.
And it paid off. I lost 10+ pounds, I’ve got almost visible abs for the first time in my life. I’ve got muscle definition in my arms that sometimes you guys even comment on. I can deadlift 1.5 times my bodyweight. And I’m even a faster runner! I don’t follow TLS as religiously anymore (I mean, I do have to train for triathlons and try amazing drinks) but I still workout 4-6 days a week, mostly doing strength training.
Journal Menu lets you choose what type of workouts you want to track and customizes the pages in your journal to match
So, believe it or not, I’ve actually had to re-buy those red pants TWICE, getting them in smaller sizes each time (thank goodness The Limited still sold them!) and now the green pants are a tad bit loose. Actually, a lot of my clothes are too loose. Most of my pencil skirts are too big at this point. Thankfully I rarely have to wear them. But, I have expanded my dress options because now I feel much more comfortable in knit dresses!
I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and, I have to say, I’m thrilled that my wardrobe options have expanded! I never thought I could wear a wrap dress but, look, here I am rocking one.
I promise I’m not being compensated to tell you about Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and while I received the Journal Menu for free I’m not getting paid anything additional to include it in my life. I just really think it’s awesome that yes, you can make a significant change to your body if you really want it.
If you want to know more, just ask. I know that talking about weight and body shape and what you look like isn’t necessarily “polite” conversation, but it’s such a huge part of my life right now and has had such a big impact on even my wardrobe that I felt weird not sharing.
Now, excuse me, I’m off to find some more dresses that make me feel like a million bucks.
As you saw on Monday, I received some Alterre shoes to try out. Why are these shoes special? Because you get two pairs of shoes in one. The bottom of the shoes stays the same and you can change up the look by swapping out the ankle straps.
This is the peg that holds on the straps.
You pop the straps off and on using the provided holes. They also have metal discs that tell you if that strap goes on the left or right shoe.
Ta da! You can see one strap attached and the other color strap just above for comparison.
I wore the navy ankle straps with a navy and white wrap dress from Le Tote.
Dress – Le Tote (same) | Necklace – Le Tote (same) | Shoes – c/o Alterre (same)
Initially, I thought I was going to like the navy and grey combo the best but, as it turns out, I enjoy both sets of shoes equally! I like that one is very classic while the other has a bit of trendiness to it. Both ankle straps were quite comfy as well.
Overall, I enjoyed the versatility of these sandals. The only downside in my eyes is that you have to keep track of “shoe accessories”!
And, in the interest of full disclosure, they do cost $180 for the starter kit. But, if you think about it, you’re basically paying $90 per pair of shoes. That may still seem steep but they are made of quality leather and 5% of the profits go to Restore NYC whose goal is to end sex trafficking in New York.
Of course, I did get my pair gratis but I wasn’t asked (or paid!) to blog about them. I just think it’s a neat concept that others might enjoy knowing about.
For my most recent Le Tote order I swapped out a few items for some casual dresses. I chose this blue and white one because it reminded me of a polka dot blue and white dress I used to have and consigned because it got too tight on my hips (and now I’m sad I got rid of it because I bet it would fit again).
Dress – Le Tote (same) | Cardigan – The Limited (same) | Sandals – TJ Maxx (similar)
Use code ERIN25 to get your first month of Le Tote for 50% off!
Unfortunately, while this dress showed off my shoulders (and, unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture without the cardigan), it billowed out strangely in the waist making me look, well, pregnant. Even Jason mentioned that it needed a belt or something. I tried to compensate by wearing the cardigan completely buttoned up but, in the end, it just wasn’t working for me.
I thought about putting this outfit together and posting it as my “Fourth of July” outfit but, as I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t actually wear anything other than workout capris all weekend. But I did wear this outfit to work on Monday.
And, I do have an interesting story to share about the year I wore the blue and white polka dot dress for Fourth of July. It was our first or second summer in Chicago and I’d convinced Jason to donate enough money to the local public radio station to get us tickets to watch the fireworks from their terrace on Navy Pier. That was when I learned you DO NOT go to Navy Pier to watch the fireworks. After walking miles in heels and getting there late and being underwhelmed, we almost got run over by fighting teenagers in one of the public transit tunnels on our way home. Let’s just say that ever since then I’ve been perfectly happy to stay home on the Fourth. At least now we can see fireworks from our balcony!
Last night I attended a preview opening of the new Bucketfeet store in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago. Bucktown is known as a hipsterish haven and, as an owner of an original pair of Bucktfeet shoes, I was totally a fan before they were popular. Which makes me hipster, right?
And, yes, I was totally that person who wore the shirt of the band they were going to see. Except in this case it was the shoes to the store I was going to visit.
Bucketful believes art is for everyone so they work with artists to design the art that goes onto the shoes they sell. Their latest Chicago store front (only the third in the world!) has an art studio in the back and a spot where you can create your own shoe design and upload it so their head of design can review it. If he likes it you can bet you’ll see it on shoes on their website and in their stores.
I totally brought home those lavender shoes c/o Bucketfeet. I lurve them.
I learned a lot about the Bucketfeet history, though. While drinking a cocktail created by Chop Shop I met the Bucketfeet founder and the head art director/co-founder. Turns out the head art director drew on a plain pair of canvas shoes that the eventual founder wore all around the world and got tons of compliments and questions about. When he got back to Chicago he decided to start a shoe company that would give artists another place to share their art. Bucketfeet’s slogan is Art is for Everyone and their Bucktown location aims to embody that philosophy with not only shoes but a whole host of coloring books and other art-related stuff for sale.
To be honest, I wear my original Bucketfeet all the time in the summer and I wore them with this dress before I even got the invite to their store opening! Kismet, right? Everyone who works for Bucketfeet was so excited to see my “OG” shoes.
I also learned that Bucketfeet shoes are machine washable which is good because my teal pair need to be washed something fierce.
Cleary, since I spent my own money on a pair of Bucketfeet, I recommend them as a nice casual shoe that is a compromise between a sandal and a running shoe. And since patterned casual sneakers are very on-trend this year I definitely think you should invest in a pair if you need something to fill that gap in your shoe wardrobe. My husband thinks I’m adorable when I talk about shoes with such enthusiasm but, look, I love shoes. And I love my Bucketfeet. And I’m excited to have another pair to wear this summer!
A few Sundays ago, on a warm humid day in Chicago with a threat of rain, I joined my triathlon training friends for a 40+ mile bike ride. Even though it drizzled on us for the first few miles, we ended up having one of those perfect bike rides that gives you a bit of a high. We all stuck around the bike store after the ride chatting and drinking beer until I left to get ready to meet my friend Kelsey for brunch.
I tossed on this outfit because I’d worn it to work earlier that week and it was handy.
It’s interesting because Bri at Work Clothes, I Suppose, also got this scarf from Le Tote and thought it was a strange material. However, I really liked it! The only thing I didn’t like was that the dots seemed to be painted on instead of part of the actual fabric. It did give it some texture but I worried that they would eventually fade so I sent it back to Le Tote after wearing it twice.
I also recently got an email from Le Tote inviting me to be part of their ambassador program. I said yes because the requirements are what I’m already doing! Wear items from my Le Tote subscription, blog about them, and share those outfits. What do I get? Purchase credit so if I decide I love something from my Le Tote I can keep it.
In fact, I’m thinking about not doing any more shopping and only using Le Tote for the rest of the summer. Might be a fun experiment! Want to try it yourself? You can get your first month for only $25 if you use this link.
I realized that I basically went almost all of May without sharing outfit photos with you. I hope you’ll forgive me. Thankfully, as I mentioned in my last post, Jason has started his new job and I have him back on weekends. This means this past weekend we were able to do a photo shoot. I recreated outfits I’ve worn in the past few weeks and now you get to see them.
Anyway, I wore this particular outfit about two weeks ago to meet my friend (and neighbor) for drinks at a new restaurant near our offices.
The weather was a bit chilly for bare legs but I didn’t care. I’d gotten this dress in my latest Le Tote and was dying to wear it. At first I thought about pairing it with my black blazer but decided that was too expected. Gray knit moto jacket to the rescue!
Also, because the dress has a fun metallic jeweled neckline I didn’t need any extra jewelry.
I did need my new watch, though. JORD contacted me to see if I wanted to review one of their wood watches and of course I said yes. I love that their styles can be dressed up or dressed down. In fact, tomorrow I’ll show you how I wore it with a more casual outfit!
Anyway, I chose this dark wood one with a black face because I thought it was the most classic. Although they have so many fun ones that it was a tough choice. This zebrawood and turquoise one is amazing, right?
Other tough choices? Which drinks to choose at Prime & Provisions. My friend had gotten us tickets to a preview event and, as such, we each got three free drink tickets.
I had two drinks and then had to cut myself off because I was meeting Jason and his parents for dinner. I didn’t want to show up too “pre-gamed,” if you know what I mean. Those drinks were strong!
Those drinks also helped keep me warm on my walk to dinner. Weather in Chicago is crazy and one day it can be a high of 50 and the next day it’s a high of 80. So, you just never know. But, it’s May and I refuse to wear tights! So, suck it, weather. I’m going with bare legs if I want.