How to: Create the Perfect Holiday Uniform

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I sat down to write a post on festive wear, but to be honest, I've written it like every year since I've had the blog. Here are some of the past things I've had to say about dressing up for Christmas:

5 Ways to Rock a Holiday Party Like it's Your Job
Non-Scary Festive Party Wear
Dressing Festively Without Looking Like a Christmas Tree Barfed on You
Reader Question: Frigid Fashion

This year has been uber busy. And really, who isn't busy right now? Yesterday I went to read a Christmas story to Andrew's class, and when I came in, the teacher was like "Let's all thank Mrs. Curtis for coming in when she could have been out shopping" and I wanted to scream because if it were only shopping, I would be a happy camper. Instead, it's shopping and baking and working and party prep and food and shuffling around to various children's programs and oh yeah, I have to be sworn in as an American citizen on Friday.

So it's probably not all that surprising to find out that instead of doing the whole "OH CRAP what am I gonna wear?" to everything, I've created a basic uniform. This uniform has – thus far – been perfectly appropriate for every holiday-related event and errand I have to run, so I'm feeling pretty smug about how easy getting dressed has been this time around. Of course, you can talk to me next week, when I'm sick of wearing it.

The thing about having a basic uniform isn't that you wear the same thing to every event, but that you have a general template in mind. It's stuff that looks good and walks the line between dressy and casual, especially with simple swaps that can dress it up and down. Here's what I'm living in this season.

Start with a chiffon top. They're pretty universally flattering, a little dressy and can be worn tucked or untucked. If you're like me, you already have a bunch kicking around your closet anyway. Also, they're looser, which means you're not wistfully looking at the bacon-wrapped scallops all night.

Once you have that, you can (obviously) add pants. Dark jeans are usually kosher for anything casual or dressy casual, but I'll admit my leather pants are getting a workout too – they're a nice bridge between casual and dress. Not into leather? A pair of cropped skinnies are pretty perfect for parties, since they look great with heels or flats. If you prefer a straight leg, just remember that length matters: If you're wearing heels, the pant leg should fall an inch or two above the ground, not above your shoe.
Now, it's time to add a jacket. For day, I wear my fave leather jacket as a standard. For night and parties, I'm wearing blazers. These are not the same as coats, which are for warmth. Jackets are outfit toppers. I just make my husband go warm up the car first. Also, if you're doing a pretty standard black jacket, you can have more fun with color in your top, shoes and accessories. Also, lazy.

Yay, it's shoe time! I'm positively living in these White Mountain boots that I bought after my friend snagged them on Black Friday. They're uber comfy and have been perfect for errands and kid stuff (and they have actually grippy soles, so I'm not sliding all over the place).

For parties at people's houses, I always default to heels, because if you wear boots and the host wants you to take off your shoes, it can ruin the whole outfit. If you're doing a low heel, your outfit will look pretty much visually the same if you have to take them off.

I do wear my trusty black Fryes for casual events where there's a lot of standing, since they're super comfortable. Otherwise, have fun with shoes! The best part about this uniform is that it's pretty standard, so you can add pattern and texture with your footwear, booyah. Also, you should have one pair of entirely ridiculous pumps to wear to at least one event where you're sitting down. Please, for my sake.

Finally, top it all off with your accessories. You have free reign because your uniform is pretty basic. I'm really into my tassel necklace right now, which I've worn for EVERYTHING. It's interesting without being gaudy or too trendy. But a big pair of earrings, a cuff or a sparkly clutch will do, too. Just remember that if you're wearing multiple accessories, you give a little visual space: Wear earrings and a huge cuff, or a necklace and cocktail ring, not earrings and a necklace. I like gold for the holidays, just because it's out of the ordinary for me.

If you're more into dainty jewelry, just layer it up for a more festive look. So pretty!

Super easy, right? By making a basic holiday uniform, it takes a lot of the guess work and stress out of all of the events you have to juggle. Instead of coming up with a new outfit each time, you tweak your basic uniform and away you go.

Loose top, skinny pants, structured jacket. It's my Christmas present to you.

What I Wore: Early Bird

Monday, December 15, 2014

I would just like to take this moment to announce that I am officially done Christmas shopping. It might not sound like a big deal to people who are actually organized and have a plan, but for me, it's major. I was having lunch with friends last week and they were pointing out my weird way of Christmas shopping: I literally just throw things in my cart and sort through them when I get home. 

I also get really surprised when I order things online and then forget about them. On Saturday, my husband and I made our last big purchase and declared ourselves done, and then I went through my bank account and was like "OH CRAP I forgot we ordered snowboards for the kids." 

Of course, despite finishing Christmas shopping early on Saturday, I slept until 8:20 and was very late on Sunday. I can only do so much, you know? I was so glad I had an easy dress to throw on as I dashed around and shrieked at my family. 

Dress: Tribal (similar)
Jacket: Guess (similar) (similar) I had rolled up my sleeves to keep them out of the way while I put something in the oven and forgot to roll them down again. Let's pretend it was on purpose. 
Boots (I had planned on heels and then we got like, six inches of snow) Dollhouse (here) (similar) (if you prefer a wedge)
Earrings: From my mama (similar)

My main goal was to get shopping done early this year so I had a week to unwind before Christmas kicks in, but I just looked at my calendar and it doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Plus, my husband routinely has an episode on December 23rd when he becomes convinced that we haven't gotten our kids enough and will go and get more. 

Ah, t'is the season! 

Before and After: Immigration Edition

Thursday, December 11, 2014

 I know this really has nothing to do with fashion, but you guys are my friends and I thought you'd want to know that I officially passed my citizenship test yesterday. Go me!! I'll be sworn in next Friday, after which I'll be a very proud dual Canadian/American citizen.

It kind of made me nostalgic for a few different reasons. I was super nervous about the interview and test, just because I have a generally pretty nervous personality. Talking to the guy at the post office makes me nervous. I get freaked out when the cashier at Walmart wants to make small talk, especially when I'm buying feminine products.

When I handed in my appointment letter at the USCIS office, I had nearly chewed off all my nails and spent a half hour focused on all the other applicants in the waiting room with me. And then, the immigration officer (IO) called me back and I followed him through the winding halls back to his office and when I sat down in the chair and looked at his desk, I seriously almost started crying.

See, like, 12 years ago I started the process of getting my Alien Resident Card (green card) and it was the longest, most awful and frankly, degrading process of life. Not only are you (and your relationship, if you're obtaining residence through marriage) put under a microscope, but you're basically treated like a criminal from day one. The old INS building was also mostly glass, so you would be sitting in the waiting room and watching people being escorted out for deportation, which was horrific. There were many, many times I left the USCIS offices in tears because it was scary and mean and I felt like I'd done something wrong and I hadn't.

Until my actual green card interview. The IO who issued my interview was the sweetest, kindest IO I'd ever worked with. He was a Russian refugee and knew I was nervous and he cracked jokes and even gave me a temporary green card to use to travel when I told him I hadn't been home in a while so I could book a trip immediately. Seriously, I loved him.

So, when I sat down for my citizenship interview and read his desk plaque, I realized that it was the very same officer. After 12 years! He automatically started in on the jokes and I was totally fine for the rest of the appointment, even when he said I reminded him of Homer Simpson because I had made a huge, dumb mistake on my paperwork. A Russian IO that watches Simpsons? How could I not love this man to pieces?

Anyway, I just thought it was very full circle: The only person who made me feel calm during the green card process was the same person to issue my citizenship. Doesn't that just make you feel fuzzy and warm and like, American?

I also dug out a picture I snapped of myself going through the immigration process 12 years ago and couldn't believe how much I'd changed (and learned my angles) (and dyed my hair).

Now that it's all over with, I can get back to focusing on shallow things like shoes and what eyebrow pencil works best. I apologize for being deep and distracted for the last couple of weeks. Getting your citizenship is very weird, especially when you're from a very similar country. It's like, can I just have this waived because I'm Canadian, even though I'm pretty sure I spelled "Columbus" wrong on the test? 

So there's my news. I promise that my posts with still have a hefty Canadian theme, especially if they include the word "cheque" which I completely refuse to ever spell as "check."

I still have my dignity. 

What I Wore: I'll Have a Faux Christmas

Monday, December 8, 2014

My family is all over the world right now: I have one brother holding down the fort in our hometown (watching the familial dogs, natch) one in Japan with his wife and her family, one in England for school (and complaining about the food) and one in Vancouver. And unfortunately, no one is going to be home for Christmas this year, so my parents came down to pre-game and throw a faux Christmas with my kids for the whole last week.

We used to call it "fake Christmas" but my mom didn't like it. 

It's funny, because I feel like it should be like, December 24th already: We've done all of our holiday traditions in one week so I'm confused. Yesterday, we did a full present exchange, complete with the part where I fall asleep on the couch while my mom cooks an enormous ham dinner. It was glorious. We've also seen lights at Temple Square, done a crazy amount of shopping and played with my kids' Zoomer Dinos (from Gigi and Poppy) for roughly eight hours yesterday. 

One of them nuzzled me and I've developed feelings for it. Her name is Zoe.

Anyway, this is what I wore for our day of faux Christmas merrymaking on Friday. We headed up to Salt Lake to shop at City Creek, have dinner and see the lights. And remind myself why I live in the middle of nowhere because I don't like people or public bathrooms.

It was blissfully balmy, which was new: Usually you're rubbing up against strangers in Temple Square in an effort to stay warm. I only wore a green military jacket over this at night; otherwise, I got to go coatless and it was lovely for December. 

Top: kensie (here and on sale!)  (I really wanted it in leopard but everything I own is leopard so my friend bought it instead and I can still love it from afar. That's a good friend.)
Pants: Calvin Klein (here). I lost a couple sizes and my beloved H&M leather pants don't fit anymore so I had to buy new ones because life without a pair of leather pants basically isn't worth living. Also these have an elastic waistband. AN ELASTIC WAISTBAND.
Shoes: Call it Spring (sold out, sad) (similar) (similar)
Necklace, yes I'm wearing it again I can't stop: Cara, via Nordstrom (here) (cheaper option)
Watch, on sale!! 

My parents go home tomorrow and I guess we'll go back to celebrating mainstream Christmas which is like, a hipster's nightmare. And THEN!! I have my citizenship interview this week, because nothing says holiday spirit like getting grilled on questions Americans don't even know the answers to. After the 10th, I'll either be primed to be American or being deported, so get ready for that.

Hey, I might be home for Christmas after all. 

Freaky Friday: Deck the Halls

Friday, December 5, 2014

I've got family in town, so I'm reposting. Please forgive me. Let's pretend it's still funny a year later?

 The more I look this picture, the more I laugh. It's not so much the sweater, but the "I have no idea what I'm doing" look on Rudolph's face.

 Ugh, who even started the whole "Team" thing? You don't need to be on any team. It's the holidays. Can't we all just get along?

 How can a festive sweatsuit make me feel so sad inside?

PS I can't see the bottom of these pants but I just KNOW there's elasticized cuffs. 

 Oh... OK, that's cool.

 This is my favorite festive sweater of ALL TIME. Look at those happy dreidels! They're all like "You don't have to celebrate Christmas to have a good time" and I'm like "You're right I totally want in on this Hanukkah thing!"

 I love these mopey teenager "Things I love" pictures. They are so freakin' specific. Wearing sweaters around the house? Are we just naming things we do every day that aren't special at all?

"Paying bills."

"Waiting in line at the grocery store."

"Pumping gas."


Wow. So true.
 Aw, look! You get loneliness for Christmas!

 That's one way to spread Christmas cheer.

 OK, the cat's paws look like saggy boobs and now I can't unsee it. It's like how my husband says that Sara Bareilles song "Brave" sounds like it's saying "I wanna see you pee-pee" and I can't unhear it EVER.

 Feeling festive? Do some pattern mixing, wear your husband's socks and then look reeeeeally unimpressed and you can spend Christmas alone.

From the "Every 2nd grade teacher ever" collection.

Speaking of which, the other day my little brother was sending me pictures of my first grade report cards and they said things like "Jacqueline is an excellent galloper" and "She reads from the dictionary and wrote a story about blisters."

I was a really cool kid is what I am saying.

 Let's finish strong and not forget that leaving out cookies is like, soooo mainstream. If you really want to impress him, leave some indie music on the record player and Santa might leave you a corded phone and some bangs.

Gift Guide Refresher

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I am still in the throes of gift shopping right now. This is the time of year when the mail girl hates my guts because I have something coming to the house every day. Also, I'm terrible at keeping track of everything that I order, so it's like a tiny Christmas for me each time a box shows up at my door because I don't remember what it could be.

So, since I'm in RoboShop mode right now, I thought I'd link up to last year's gift guides. Since I focus on specific types of gifts (rather than a specific product) it's kind of an easy way to match the right person to the right prezzies.

For Coworkers and Neighbors
For Your BFF
For Your Husband 
For You
For Your Kids 

Hopefully that helps narrow down choices and relieves a bit of the stress that comes with gift giving. And hey, it's only the 3rd: You have plenty of time to drive yourself crazy for the next three weeks. Enjoy!

What I Wore: Burnout

Monday, December 1, 2014

How was everyone's Thanksgiving week? I'm not gonna lie, I was in pure burnout mode last night. After five straight days of family festivities, all I wanted to do was hide in a quiet room and read a book by myself. Which I totally did, by the way. 

I also came down with a cold over the week, which means I have a man voice low enough to impress Barry White himself. I have three conference calls tomorrow and I can't wait for my client to be like "No, I needed to talk to Jae the woman." 

Shopping-wise, I did OK. I'm already Cyber Mondaying it up but I don't feel as prepped as I usually do at this point in time. My parents are flying in the day after tomorrow, so I plan on dragging my mom around to every store in the valley until I feel like I'm done. Or burned out. 

Top: Adrienne (local boutique) I'm obsessed with this green! (similar) (similar)
Skirt: Arden B. (from like, three Christmases ago) (cute and cheap!) (plus omg so cute)
Shoes: Steve Madden can you tell they're blue? (similar) (similar)
Necklace, which I bought Saturday and am super excited about (here)

I looked polished and put-together yesterday, but never fear: Burnout has a way of finding me in my husband's pajama pants, a bun and glasses come Monday morning. I just need to get my hermit on for a couple of days and I'll be fine.

Tis the season, right? 


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