Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

Everyday Face – June 2017 edition

I had a post idea bubble up this morning as I was doing my makeup so I thought, let’s run with this inspiration and fire up the good ol’ blog! So here I am with a mid-year update; let’s get down to business, ne? Prepare thineself for the copious selfies–thou hast been warned.

The Glow-Up
I started writing/posting in 2013, and I wore nothing / pressed powder only:

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December 2013. I miss this crazy long hair. I was living out my Zooey Deschanel/MPDG dreams with the bangs and specs.

In 2014 I lost twenty pounds, grew more hair (that remained tangled, lol), and made a little routine called the “Five Minute Face” that began with my brows. It felt pretty good, and I enjoyed doing my eyebrows so I kept it up.

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No mascara, just brows and bb cream and powder.

2015 events brought the introduction of eyeliner and lipcolor, to varying success:

2016– muscle memory and control is a little better. Started looking for a nude lip color and bought a few new brushes to add to the makeup bag.

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Brow game solid by 2016.

2017’s Everyday Face no longer takes a mere five minutes, because I’ve since expanded my skill set. Here’s what I use on a regular basis (some steps optional):

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From left to right:

    1. Lorac Pro to Go Eye/Cheek Palette
    2. NARS Radiance Enhancing Light Optimizing Primer
    3. Rimmel Matte BB Cream 9-in-1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup in Medium
    4. Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara in 001 Black
    5. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Pencil in 005 Nude
    6. L’Oreal Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner in Black
    7. Rimmel Brow this Way Brow Gel in Clear
    8. L’Oreal True Match Pressed Powder in N3 – Natural Buff
    9. Nyx Blush in PB01 Mocha
    10. Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Setting Spray

In general:

    • Moisturizer with SPF (not photographed), NARS primer on eyes, BB cream, pressed powder.
    • Brow routine which is filling in sparse areas with a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow close to my hair color; Rimmel brow gel to set.
    • Eyes. I create my own version of a “cut crease” or what I think looks like a cut crease, but is really just a smudge of something, with the Lorac palette. Or if I’m in a rush and only can do one color, I use single MAC pots in a non-descript brown just to have some color on the eyelids. Optional: I’ll tightline the lower waterline with nude pencil for work, smudge the gold/bronze color if I’m in the mood. Same with mascara or eyeliner. If I’m wearing all of the above, I consider that my “fleekest” for the day. Not really. It still looks pretty restrained.
    • Blush because why not. Concealer if I really need it, but I tend to forget/eliminate this step.
    • Setting spray when done.

I like what I’ve been doing so far:

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Not photographed, on lips: NARS Matte Lip Pencil in Bansar

Hair’s all poofy.

This definitely takes a little longer than five minutes–I’d say about twenty, because I’m a lot more picky about my eyebrows and the eyeshadows when I do this. I’ve had days where I overfilled the brows and looked pretty silly or was sloppy on blending the shadow. But overall I really like where I am right now with the routine and while I am not quite yet a glazed donut perhaps 2018 might be my year! Maybe contouring will be passe by the time I get to it?

Packing 101: Philippines 2016

Packing 101: Philippines 2016

Disclaimer: I’m not about to teach you how to pack for a trip to Asia–there are actual bloggers who do that sort of thing for a living; I just want to talk about what I ended up bringing and what worked or didn’t. 😀

I realize I’m five months late on this but hey! it’s still fun to discuss, n’est-ce pas?

Background:

Left California in December (aka 55F-79F highs/lows) to go to Manila “winter” (mild rain, humidity 80%+++, makes 80F-95F feel like 90-105F)

Activities: city travel, island stay (4 days), exercise (running)

Things I brought:

Tops: cotton short-sleeved tees, tanks (a few each), a light cardigan, rayon long-sleeved split neck blouses

Dresses/bottoms: one polka dot 3/4 sleeve dress, two pairs of Levi’s cutoffs, Uniqlo Ultra Stretch skinny jeans, Everlane culottes

Shoes: brown Saltwater sandals, running shoes, Nike Free RN Flyknit, Sam Edelman ballet flats

Special: three bikinis (to rotate wash/dry), goggles, water shoes

Outerwear: Arc’teryx rain jacket, Uniqlo Ultra Light down jacket

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The winning bits!

What worked:

  1. Arc’teryx rain jacket: you would think wearing what amounts to a huge plastic tarp would be insufferable in humid rain, but it actually was surprisingly comfortable. Not to mention it doubled as an emergency layer when we entered heavily air-conditioned areas. Note to self: you can get sick from the AC-inside, hellfire outside dichotomy. bring scarves too, it gets cold AND dry when a draft is blowing on you all day.
  2. Long sleeved (rayon) blouse/top: counterintuitive when you think about humidity and heat, but I was more comfortable in these blouses (and looked more put together) than in a tee-shirt. As long as the material is breathable and not constricting, I actually did better and preferred to be covered up rather than exposing my arms.
  3. Levi’s shorts: wore these more than the culottes which needed to be ironed every night. They broke into my shape in just the right way and were comfortable as all get. The only downside? full exposure to mosquito bites 😦
  4. Saltwater sandals: an impulse Amazon buy right before leaving. Not the most comfortable of all footwear (there’s a pressure point under the arch for me that kept bugging after 2-3 hours of wear.) but it goes well with the summer-casual dressing. I would have brought my Birkenstocks but I didn’t want to risk getting them damaged at the beach.

What I forgot and wished for:

  1. Tweezers and nail clippers – sounds basic. I thought I’d be able to borrow some from the family I was staying with–which I did eventually, but when my nails broke while at the beach I made a note to make it part of my makeup/grooming kit.
  2. Goggles – this was my fault. I forgot/couldn’t find mine, ended up buying a pair while on vacation. Unnecessary necessary expense.

What I learned:

  • Pack a beanie for the long plane ride (doubles as eye cover) and keep drinking water throughout (bathroom line be damned.) Hydration and sleep so that you feel less beat up when you get off the plane.
  • You really don’t need five tee shirts when three and daily washing suffices. YMMV on what facilities and opportunities are available to you regarding cleaning your clothes while traveling, but I still only used a good half of what I packed and the rest was just sitting in the suitcase.
  • Importance of curating (ugh, I hate that word) your closet IRL so travel packing is less annoying: after a few years of culling (also buzzword) my stuff into the things I really like and use time and again, all my potential building blocks for an outfit are thematically related. All that’s left to do before departure is ensure they are in good condition (I repaired a seam that was coming undone on a top) and you’re done.
  • Whatever you forget or is broken or missing can usually be replaced while abroad (except for special medications, most likely.) Don’t sweat the small stuff and try to relax!

Review: Taylor Stitch Katherine in Washed Black Oxford

Review: Taylor Stitch Katherine in Washed Black Oxford

I’ve had this review sitting in my Drafts forever, but thanks to a lovely (and timely!) comment from a previous post,  I’m finally finishing this! Let’s get to business with a look at Taylor Stitch’s Katherine shirt in Washed Black Oxford.

Taylor Stitch is a clothing company based out of San Francisco, California. I think their crowdsourced method of funding and pushing projects is smart–it allows them to determine and predict demand and only produce as many units as needed. If you sign up for their emails you’ll get notified when new items enter the Workshop, whereupon customers have about two weeks to purchase at pre-sale price. Taylor Stitch started with menswear but has been steadily increasing their women’s offerings throughout the year. When they announced this shirt I thought it would be a good time to try out the brand. From pre-sale purchase to receiving my shirt, it took about 6-8 months overall.

My package arrived in a brown paper envelope with a historical map of San Francisco’s street grid printed in white ink:

Packaging is key.

I had initially ordered a M, but it was soon evident that it was too big in the shoulders (although the relaxed fit throughout the body was good.) I contacted Customer Service to arrange an exchange for a S, which didn’t take more than two weeks to return and receive the new size. Here are some fit pics for the Small size:

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Katherine shirt, old Uniqlo boyfriend-fit ankle jeans, Gap belt, Blondo Valli ankle boots.

Measurements (Women’s Small, after multiple washes)

Sleeve (measured from shoulder): 24 in
Shoulders: 16 in
Body: 27 in

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Because averted gazes are all the rage in the blogosphere.

Things I like (nay, love) about this shirt:
– the fit: I mean you can’t really tell in these pics, since I wore it straight out of the package (gasp! bad blogger) but the shoulders are spot-on. And the slim fit follows my body without making me look cramped. There’s no boob gap on the buttons (good placement?) and the sleeves while technically long aren’t comically unusable.
– the fabric quality: I won’t insult the shirt by comparing its fabric to other retailers’ offerings, but this particular cotton cloth just feels better than my Uniqlo and JCrew oxfords. It’s thicker, but it wrinkles less even though I spend 9 hours in a chair at work. It also irons like a dream. You could wash and dry it and be fine, but it just feels so crisp after ironing.

Not much I don’t like except to wish that it were offered in more colors (oh wait, it is.) Quick check of the other Katherine models available reveal, however, that not all the fabrics are the same weight or type, so I don’t know how that will influence the fit. I wash all my clothes cold/normal cycle and dry on medium. There was no appreciable shrinkage, and in the last 6 months of owning the shirt I’ve not seen any stitching or buttons come loose yet.

Final thoughts: if the folks at Taylor Stitch ever see this post (hi!),  I’d like to see a short-sleeved version like their men’s Short Sleeve Jack but with a tailored fit like the Katherine body. The mens’ line gets such beautiful fabric choices: I want a women’s shirt in this hanami batik fabric! Please share fabric choices over to the women’s side and you will quadruple sales. Short-sleeved versions with collars with men’s fabric as an option. Just a thought. (indigo for ladies too!) 🙂

I hope that helps you shop wisely; if there is anything else I can cover, leave me a note below!

Some thoughts on clothing

Some thoughts on clothing

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these types of posts, mostly because I’ve attempted to do need-based purchasing as opposed to window shopping. Anyway, I don’t live in a minimalist vacuum, so in the last half of the year there have been some purchases and mistakes, so I’d like to talk about those today.

First, the successes:

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1. Arc’teryx Beta LT Hybrid Jacket (REI)
I got it for $250 at REI’s Labor Day sales for the Seattle trip. I am not too familiar with Arc’teryx’s sale prices, but I decided on this rain jacket vs. the orange Marmot Minimalist  because of the fit of the hood, deep front pockets, and the comfortable collar. I’m sure both would have performed adequately, but I have to give Arc’teryx a thumbs up for what it does. I was bone dry in that jacket. The adjustable hood and collar ensured a great seal around my face, and there’s a slight lip or stiffness to the hood which I noticed directed water away from my nose and eyes. That is not to say the affordable Marmot jacket would not have done the same, but I feel extra pleased by the workmanship and quality I get from this jacket. It gave me confidence during the Washington trip and now I have a solid rain jacket for the future; I won’t worry about future travel to the East Coast and/or other locales with inclement weather.

2. Forever 21 Jersey Dress (sold out. pic shown is Brandy Melville’s Alena dress.)
Struck by some inspiration somewhere on the Internet. This is an example of when buying a fast fashion interpretation works out in my favor. The F21 version is opaque, didn’t shrink, doesn’t stink. It is a very basic, flattering cut and there are plenty of versions out and about.

3. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante (2015)
I am so incredibly happy I found a shoe that works with my orthotics. The Fresh Foam Zantes pictured here are from NB’s running category, so it’s not really a #hypebeast or trendy shoe like the Nike Flyknit Racers or Roshe Runs. It’s an actual neutral running shoe. I was clunking around in Lunarglides anyways, so going with another running shoe-as-lifestyle isn’t a surprise. It’s much less cushioned and much lighter than what I’m used to, but the most important part is it is deep enough to house my orthotic inserts and I can lace up tightly for a very secure fit. I guess my review is skewed because I never wear the base insert, but I’d still recommend the shoe for its light weight. There is a men’s all leather version that is very very tempting…but I can wait on that and see what comes out after Christmas.

Then the underutilized:

Black Crane Pleats Dress (gray)
I didn’t wear this dress as often as I thought I would:
1. the fabric is a bit scratchy (wool/rayon mix) and for me, is a bit too warm
2. caring/cleaning for the dress is a bit complicated–I hand washed it and it shrank from a glorious full length, dragging skirt to just skimming the bottom of my feet. I kind of killed the fit I wanted from it by hand washing.
3. The daringness/oddness of wearing an extremely long, kind of sack-like dress was daunting. My coworkers just didn’t get it, and my family, bless their heart–didn’t say anything but I also get the vibe that if I want to avoid unnecessary commentary, I shouldn’t wear these dress to certain functions.
4. the 3/4 sleeve + dolman effect bothers me. I already know I don’t like either of those two elements, and yet I still bought the dress, entranced by the sale price and the excitement I felt at the store I bought it from.

I still like the dress, but there’s certain things I need to do to make it more me. I want to see if I can chop off or trim off those sleeves, but I’m a little afraid of editing it so permanently. The other half is just to wear the dress until it rips/dies–the fit is already irrevocably changed because it shrank–so I just need to wear it and stop babying it. Clothes are for the wearing, not storing, Kristina.

Muji linen dress
This is a case of I didn’t want to put the work in to maximize this dress (aka too lazy to iron.) I would take the dress out of the washer and hang it up to dry but didn’t fix the collar wonkiness and wore it to work pre-wrinkled. Not my style. I am getting ready to wear this dress later this week and yes, it has been pressed. Lesson of the day: don’t shirk the care for your clothes and reap the rewards of feeling #onfleek to work.

And the fail:

Forever 21 Chambray Shirt Dress (mine is gray)
The fit is fine, but it STILL stinks like preservative and rubber even until now. I Febrezed it, I soaked it in straight vinegar (maybe with a splash of water) for 3 hours. Still smelled after 5 washes and rinses. I should know better, but I gave into the urge after seeing a cool girl at a coffee shop (because where else) wear sleeveless shirt dresses with hoop earrings (which you could say is where my current IG pic inspo is from.) Holly if you ever read this, you’re a dope muse. What a disappointing use of $20, but I really should have known better, especially with fast fashion.

Upcoming guidelines for shopping F/W 2015:
1. no more sweaters/outerwear
Let’s face it, I live in a desert with little to no hope of really experiencing the proper temperatures for lovely cashmere sweaters and the like. I’ve already got a wool coat, tall and short boots, and now a rain jacket. I’ve also got several sweaters to choose from so remembering these and being realistic about the actual weather I live in should keep me from acquiring any more items. I barely have a week in January or so as it is to really properly wear what I own, during the season they are meant for. I own enough.

2. only shop for what I actually wear
What does Kristina reach for time and again?
– Cotton button-downs. My little collection of navy and white button downs are on heavy rotation for work. I also would like some short-sleeved ones like the Muji checkered one I got last year.
– Black pants and blue jeans (I own enough jeans for the moment, but I could always use fade-resistant black straight pants. The Gap ones I got earlier this year attract too much lint.)
– Black running shoes. I bring loafers or flats but I bail out into the running shoes when my feet start to hurt, or if I’m moving a lot between the two buildings at work. My health and strength come before fashion, every day.

Above is my no-brainer work uniform. Occasionally I’ll throw on a different topper–olive jacket, blue soft blazer, or a cardigan, but the base uniform doesn’t change. Some days I’ll wear skirts or have a few dresses to change it up, but rarely. If anything I would like more tops and perhaps one or two more work-appropriate dresses. I tried on this Gap floral print one that apparently just sold out (but here’s the cut with a different print.) Something easy going like that, with a nice understated print would be great. Could wear it to work and into the night.

I also would like some real sandals (not just Crocs) and some flats to replace the Gentle Souls Gabbys I have, which are 3+ years old and no longer have true arch support.

3. Support local artisans/boutiques
While it’s not always possible or financially prudent to buy 100% handmade, ethically sourced/produced goods–I can do a little bit by buying accessories, gifts, and goods by local makers. I love the LA Printer Fair for buying birthday and Christmas cards, and I’ve been to Unique LA’s December events for two years now. Last year was great–I bought some cards, candles, and jewelry as Christmas presents. I liken it to shopping Etsy but in person 🙂 This year I am going to try and go to a Patchwork show in Long Beach or Santa Ana.

That’s the longest you’ve heard from me in months now! Whew. That’s my little shopping update in the last quarter of 2015. How are you all faring with the annual #omgFALL marketing? What are your shopping thoughts for this time of year?

En route

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Personal picture. Grand Central Station, New York, November 2014.

I need respite.

These last few weeks have been full of #adulthood–the daily stresses of work, construction and disruption at the house, increasing responsibilities. I am doing my best to respond to all of them with poise and efficiency, but I need recharging time.

As for blogging regularly, that seems to have gone awry these past couple months. It’s a combination of avoiding shopping/thinking about material goods, to shifting of resources: I’ve been spending a lot more on food and drink. I’ve also been back at climbing and running with a vengeance and have achieved some modest gains in both hobbies. These are all things that have pulled me in other directions and made me better equipped to beast at my own life–with perhaps the exception of greasy food and coffee. Those are purely for fun.

With all that a-brewin’ (hah), I’m looking forward to the upcoming travel this week to  Seattle, Washington–follow my photo diary (of sorts) on Instagram. Stay in touch!

Effort expended

Effort expended
Coast Modern in Seal Beach, CA.

Dori who writes over at Dorigamii brought up some points in her recent post about shopping that made me think back on my own evolving values. I found the exercise interesting. She talks about the price vs. quality conundrum while shopping (“…how hard it is for me to come to grasps with dropping a lot of money on nicer clothing”), avoiding using specific items because of cleaning costs or fear of damage,  and a desire to pinpoint weak areas of her wardrobe to be addressed in future purchases. These are all things I have done and still touch upon sometimes when I shop.

I think a good reason why this post interests me is how it calls to mind the changes I’ve undergone with regards to my own shopping habits. I’m not at all “enlightened” or have become some minimalist minion touting restrictions left and right. But I’ve cut down on a lot of extraneous browsing “just looking!” window-shopping trips. I’ve also used my somewhat detailed (read: obsessive) research of items more efficiently–the time spent trying everything on those browsing trips showed me where to shop first for a higher rate of fit/quality/price success; a steady stream of promotional emails means a sale is ALWAYS around the corner, and I’m practicing daily on that mental fortitude needed not to impulse buy. If I do slip up and pull the trigger on something, I try to figure out why. It’s almost always an emotional reason. Feelings of inadequacy is a frequent one.

I would even hazard to say that even as we “bloggers” (really, regular people over here) write our own wardrobe philosophies, it does not neatly apply to everyone. I started with goals to look professional and appropriate and “me.” But that last variable, me, is still rapidly changing! How can I effectively shop for a me I haven’t met? Luckily, most of what I bought when I first started my now full-time career is still a favorite and still fits. There were a few items that faded poorly and a few sizing mistakes that became apparent with weight loss (they were non-salvageable–I’m not going to spend half the cost to tailor a wool coat I can donate. Chalk it up as a lesson.) It’s hard to preach any one specific school of thought with regards to how to edit and replenish your wardrobe. So much can happen. Needs change, bodies change, circumstances change. There is no universal “wardrobe staple.”

The last thought fragment I want to discuss is the growing awareness of the effort it takes to shop. I noticed that I came home from browsing trips less happy, and more somber (because inadequacy: “I can’t afford it” or “It didn’t look good on me.”) I also knew for a while that the euphoric feeling after new purchases grew shorter and shorter. Why such little payoff from so much money and effort expended? Looked online because you saw a sale. Spotted a potentially cute shirt with enticing 30% off code. Made plans after work to check out the shirt. Drove 15 miles to the mall, parked the car, walked half a mile to where the specific store is. Found the item on the rack, tried it on in the dressing room, mulled it over for fifteen minutes. Lined up at the counter, paid for it, walked back to the car and drove home. By the time I got home and hung up the new shirt I’d already lost the excitement of new item!!! and it had visibly and mentally joined the pile in my closet.

In some ways I kind of want that shopping high back, like yeah! I bought the thing. The thing in the nice color and cut I always wanted. But if it means that the importance of material objects is diminishing, back to its proper place (IMO, to where 1. the item serves its purpose and is the best at doing so 2. ideally it also satisfies the aesthetic I want to project) then I’m OK with that too. It’s just funny that it used to be such a thing–yay new stuff because new stuff. Now it’s yay new stuff, now I can go to work feeling comfy AND on fleek in these new black sneaks (I am waiting to acquire said black sneaks. Another story, another time.)

I hope that wasn’t too convoluted to follow. Nothing I’m saying above is revolutionary; to me, however, it feels somewhat cathartic as well as a sort of way-marker for the person that I am in this point in time. It is also possible, as one of my dear friends likes to remind me, that I am overthinking things as usual (isn’t that what a blog is for? I can just blahg ad nauseam to my little heart’s desire.) What is the most you’ve ever done to shop for or buy something? Was it worth the effort? What (if any) sort of experience do new purchases give you?

Back to order

As we head into summer days (is it really the second week of the second half of the year already??) admittedly, not much changes here at Uniformly Dressed. I still wear the same shirts and shoes, except I’m a little bit sweatier and deflated at the end of the day, perhaps. Such is life. However, I’m enjoying a bit of refreshed inspiration with my limited color palette thanks to these two Instagram accounts I just recently followed.

Yuka (@yuka_____i) has all the things I’d ever want in my closet. She does some really simple, very clean midi skirt-and-breton stripe combos I wish I had the height to do justice to. (I think midis make me look a bit frumpy.) I like that a lot of her looks could be work-appropriate; I own a few pieces similar to hers so I’ll see if I can whip something up that evokes the same aesthetic.

Jiang Lilun’s (@walilizhou) indigo game is SO strong. She doesn’t have too many captions, but I believe she must dye some of her own textiles as well as possibly sew some of her outfits. Reminds me of Black Crane with the way she plays with loose silhouettes (think culottes and oversized shoulders/flowy tops) except she features mostly indigo-toned outfits. I would like to try and capture some of her style in my weekend outfits.

Here’s my beginner’s take on a “Yuka-like” work outfit:


Shirt: old Gap 1969 bell-sleeve indigo blouse
Pants: old Target Mossimo ankle pants
Shoes: Cole Haan penny loafers

Fun story on that Gap blouse: it was in the sale section maybe three years ago, and I picked it up on a whim. At my heavier weight, I wanted something that would skim over my torso. It didn’t work–it made me look bigger than before (why doesn’t that logic ever work–hide your body, and it’s actually less flattering for you than finding something fitted?) It laid fallow in the closet until I had this resurgence of appreciation for the swing cut and the poof sleeves. It’s also great for the summer; despite the heavier cotton/denim fabric it flows away from the body and feels airy.

hoho hello sleeves

A coworker and I were discussing Gap as a brand, and we wish it would put out more pieces like this. [Kristina-ramble] Gap has been trying to keep their denim game up, but more often than not I see tons of chambray and denim oxford/blouse experiments end up on the sales rack, ignored. I’ll thumb through them and nothing really stands out OR it has an element I do not want: a few years ago everything had roll-sleeve tabs, or it was Western-themed double breast pockets. Droopy single-breast pockets. Popovers (button-downs that do not open all the way). Now put them all together on a shirt at once. To be fair to that shirt, it’s not even that egregious design-wise. But I know I like to slip into my shirts, not drag them over my head, and I do the JCrew roll on my sleeves, so I don’t really need sleeve keeps/tabs.

What looks, colors, or ideas have captured your attention lately, and how are you planning to execute/interpret them? Share with me your inspiration!