Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Fresh Start

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog! I've decided to move Cubicle Catwalk to Wordpress. You can keep following my style and data mis-adventures at:

Hope you'll stop by for a visit!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Tale of Too-Many Dresses

Hello! Thought you'd never hear from me again? It's been a strange last few months and, honestly, I have been in a bit of a slump. But, somehow between the first breath of winter cold, good friends, Zycam, and the fact that I finally figured out how to style my leather t-shirt, I'm starting to feel more like my old self.  This is a post I put together a while ago and, while it's almost too cold to be thinking about dresses, I still wanted to share it.

I need to ask a serious question  . . . how many dresses should one person own? Hypothetically speaking (of course), is 49 too many? Does that number become any more acceptable if that person went to say nine wedding weekends last year?

But back to the land of non-hypotheticals. This summer I decided it was time to tackle one of the darkest corners of my closet . . . Dresses. I had an inkling that I owned a lot of dresses (it's a weakness of mine along with shoes, denim, and high-end gin). But, I didn't understand how many I had survived my last closet cleanse. For example, I still owned a dress purchased for my bachelorette party three and a half years ago. There were also three work dresses that preceded Mr. C (which is impressive considering I started dating him a couple of weeks into my first job. . . in 2006).

Obviously, my closet tough love needed to get a lot tougher, which is how I ended up with I have two bags of clothes (plus shoes) to donate. What's left? 38 dresses. A 22 percent reduction but that still seems kind of high, especially since I don't wear that many in my daily life. So, how does one get to 38 dresses?

Step 1: Have all your friends get married in one year (14 Dresses)

Step 2: Obsessively hoard summer/casual dresses just in case global warming turns New York into a tropical paradise (15 Dresses)

Step 3: Try on all your dresses (while drinking wine and watching Gossip Girl) . . . convince yourself you look great in all of them.

The first two steps account for 76 percent of the dresses I own. The last is why I still own 38. Everyone has their achilles heel gown. Maybe this is just mine? Before you judge too harshly . . . Remember, count the dresses in thine own closet . . . there might be more than you expect.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to School

Where has the summer gone? I'm not going to bore you with the reasons this blog has been neglected, but seriously. . .  I can't believe that I started my final year of business school last week and I've only made it to the beach twice this summer. C'est la vie.

Regardless of what the weather is like outside, fall is definitely on my mind. (And, not just because Whole Foods just started stocking my favorite Pumpkin beer). I've been looking to switch things up with a new fall haircut and some serious back-to-school shopping. A recent closet cleanse (I swear these seem to be never ending), forced me to get rid of some trusty basics like my only white-button down oxford and my favorite black jeans.  The plus side . . . I weeded out a lot of items that I don't wear any more or that were completely worn out (you all would be proud, I got rid of four pairs of jeans). The downside? Well, the whole thing about getting rid of essentials, is they need to be replaced. Here are the things I've gotten so far and a few items that are still on my wish list.

Fall Essentials

As you can see, I'm craving neutrals and simple, comfortable silhouettes right now. Maybe it's the casual work environment I was in this summer or maybe it's just fall, but I don't think I'm going to be pulling out my heels and pencil skirts any time soon. Plus, there's something about the craziness of school life that necessitates having an easy uniform you can throw on in the mornings after sleeping through your alarm.

I was able to re-stock most of these through the amazing late summer sales that we had this year. So, check back later for reviews of  some of my favorite new fall additions!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Case of the Casual Dress-Code

As my two regular readers have probably noticed (Hi mom!), the blog has taken a bit of a back seat to life lately. There's been travel, visitors, starting of jobs, catching up with friends . . . life has been fun but it hasn't really slowed down (does it ever?). Plus, while I am really, really loving my summer internship, it's pretty data intensive. It's amazing but sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home is open up another spreadsheet even if it's about my closet. To be perfectly honest, I've even been contemplating taking a permanent hiatus from this whole closet project .  . . until, that is, I ran into my most recent fashion conundrum: What to Wear to Work. 

This is my first time working in an office with a casual dress code and I was pretty excited that I wouldn't have to wear a suit everyday. Plus, I've spent the last 9 months as a grad student, I should have this whole casual thing down, right? Wrong.

When you work in a business professional or business casual environment, there's an unspoken uniform. As a woman, you're wearing some sort of dress/skirt/pant + suit jacket/blazer/cardigan combo. That's it. There's room for some experimentation in terms of colors, patterns, and accessories, but you're all fundamentally following the same rules. Yes, it might be a little boring but at least you know what's expected and you're all in it together. 

In a casual work environment. Anything goes. Drop-crotch acid wash overalls? Check. Shorts? Check. Boyfriend jeans and a tank top? Check and check. All the options can be a little overwhelming. Especially since this being New York and this being the retail industry there's the pressure of pulling off effortless casual while still being unique and fabulous. Or maybe it's just because I sit next to a bunch of people in creative and design, but still . . . the hallway can feel a bit like a runway.

Also, as I quickly realized, my carefully curated school wardrobe that is perfect for Fall-Early Spring doesn't really work for a New York summer. I discovered this the unfortunate day I decided to wear pants in 90 degree weather. Hot sweaty mess, doesn't work well for any office dress code.

So, what does any normal person do when they don't know what to wear to work? Go shopping. Collect data, of course . . . even it means I have to tackle the deepest, darkest corner of my closet, dresses. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

36 hours (to a hangover) in Washington, D.C.

Mr. C and I are a big fan of the New York Times travel section. We even used one of their articles as a guide during our honeymoon and had a fantastic time (tipsily) biking from brewery to brewery. I am particularly fond of their "36 hours in . . ." series. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that they published a "36 Hours in Washington, D.C." last month.  Would they talk about the city's penchant for all you can eat, all you can drink brunches? Would they cover our fantastic local beers, like DC Brau, (that kick Brooklyn Brewery's ass)? Or the widely acclaimed Newseum? Or point out that you can drink sangria in the sculpture garden and pretend to listen to jazz every summer friday?

No. Instead, they talked about the Botanical Gardens and Eastern Market . . . Apparently, anyone visiting DC for 36 hours is either 80 yrs old or boring. The only time anyone goes into the Botanical Gardens is to get some free air conditioning without the hordes of children that plague every other Smithsonian museum. Obviously, the record has to be set straight. I'm by no means an expert, but as someone who frequently finds herself in DC for quick weekend trips, here's my (non-definitive) guide to how to spend 36 plus, cocktail-fueled hours in our nation's capital.  

1. Mini Bar Crawl in Shaw | 6:00 PM 
You've just gotten off the bus at Union Station. After spending the last 4.5 hours listening to your neighbor complain loudly about their boss and draining your phone battery searching for the mysterious "wifi" signal that Bolt promised . . .  you're in desperate need of a libation. And, more importantly, a little separation from your fellow man. You could hit up one of DC's many fantastic happy hours (check out: More likely, however, you need something a little stronger . . . something like a mini-bar crawl. I'd recommend heading over to 7th St NW and checking out Derek Brown's three bars, conveniently all located on the same block. Start with a cocktail pitcher, some raw oysters, and a bowl of the Chowderhead at Eat the Rich (and no, I would not judge if you got a pitcher for yourself. In fact, I'd join you). Next, stumble head next door to Southern Efficiency. You can't go wrong with the White Whiskey and Smoked Cola (I know it sounds weird, but I promise, it's delicious) or if you really want to get serious, one of their mint juleps. Warning: you will have bourbon breath the rest of the night. Finish off the bar crawl with a flight of sherry (just trust the bartenders recommendations) and a charcuterie plate at Mocking Bird Hill

2. H St | 10 PM
At this point, you're probably feeling more charitable towards the world again and are ready to kick it up a notch. Grab an uber and head over to H St. The NYtimes guide did a fairly good job of covering the best H St bars. Though they tragically neglected to mention the dancing and peach schnapps slushies at Little Miss Whiskeys

3. Saturday AM | whenever you wake up:
If it's your first time to DC, you probably feel obligated to see at least a few of the sites. This is where, as your good friend, I would kindly point you in the direction of the National Mall and then go back to sleep for a few more hours while you got all cultural. I kid . . . sort of. Actually, my favorite way to see the monuments is to go for an early-ish morning run around the mall, which lets you soak in all of the key sites (which actually are quite beautiful, especially the Jefferson), while giving you an excuse to dodge around all the tourists. If running's not your thing, you can rent a bike from the Capital Bikeshare.

4. Day Drinking on 14th St | Saturday 3 PM
After touring the monuments (and a shower) if you're really into site seeing, you can pop into National Art Gallery, which is always lovely (and currently has a Van Gogh and Degas exhibit), or forego the free options for the Newseum, which I've heard is amazing and really do mean to visit one of these days. But don't linger too long because you're going to want to head back up 14th street to grab a table at the Garden District Beer Garden (previously known as the Standard) before the post-brunch crowd descends on it. Don't be daunted by all the wannabe hipsters . . .   or the lines for the bathroom. Just nonchalantly perch yourself at the edge of a table and wait for a spot to open up. Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and order a liter of the kostritzer schwarzbier or the heffe-weisbier. Also, make sure you flag down the donut guy making batches of fresh, piping hot donuts for a dollar. If you're seriously brave, or aggressively want to scare away your neighbors, you can also get a whole, smoked hogs head.

Sidenote: If it really is too crowded for you, a solid second option is American Ice Company, where you can sample the local beers (get the DC Brau Citizen) and indulge in pulled pork nachos on their patio.

5. Mediterranean Feast | 8:30 PM
If you haven't fill up on too many pulled pork nachos or donuts, grab dinner at Kapnos, Mike Isabella's (of Top Chef fame) Mediterranean restaurant. It opened last year and has quickly become one of my favorite new spots in DC. Definitely go with a group so you can sample a bunch of their mezzes. My favorite is the whole roast bronzino. Or you might be tempted by the leg of lamb roasting on a spit. The cocktails are pretty amazing as well.

6. 14th St/U St Bar Crawl | Till the wee hours of the morning
There are a lot of great neighborhoods in DC but the 14th St corridor is one of my favorite and has a wealth of options for whatever suits your mood. Craving some more beer? Hit up Churchkey, which has over 500 beers including a huge selection of beers on tap. Last time I was there, the bartenders were also offering their own, homemade fireball-style cinnamon whiskey. Feeling more like dancing? Try Dodge City, which has the added advantage of two large patios. Or, do you want to risk some green-fairy inspired hallucinations? 1905 is a small, but quirky bar that serves absinthe. Just be warned, you’ll have to wait ten minutes while your drink drips over a sugar cube from some elaborate contraption. If cocktails are more your scene, you could try Two Birds One Stone where the menus are freshly sketched and illusrated every week.  Or, my all time favorite bar, Bar Pilar, which quietly has some of the best cocktails (and people watching) in the city without the side of pretention that you might find at The Gibson. Pilar always have something new and surprising. Last time I was there, they were doing pina coladas with a fermented strawberry syrup  . . . or you can’t go wrong with one of their house made gin and tonics.

Finally, you’re probably going to be a little peckish at 3 A.M. (especially after lifting those liters of beer all afternoon). Don’t let anyone talk you into a jumbo slice (google it if you don't know what I'm talking about). Trust me, your stomach and your arteries will thank you. Instead, stop at Taylor Gourmet for a hoagie or check out &Pizza for a chipotle-style, build-your own flatbread.

7. Brunch Like A Champion | 1 PM ('cause who brunches before noon?)

DC is all about brunch . . . especially in the summer when there’s no lack of outdoor patios. So make sure you have a late return flight or bus scheduled and save time (and room) for one of the city's many bottomless brunches. Mr. C and mine's two favorites are are El Centro DF (“Mexican comfort food”) and the less well known, Agora, (Turkish/Mediterranean). The thing these two brunch spots have in common is:  excellent food, served in small or mid-sized portions meant for sharing; excellent brunch drinks (mimosas at Agora and Aqua Frescas at El Centro); and an all-you-can-eat-all-you-can-drink brunch special for under $35. If you go to El Centro, make sure to try the French toast and the Chile Relleno. At Agora, save room for several orders of the Htipiti (roasted red peppers, thyme, feta, and a bit of magic) and the Cilbir.

8. Who's Counting at This Point? 
I'm pretty sure that's more than 36 hours and possibly more than any one person should drink in a weekend . . . 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

T-Shirt Reviews: Everlane vs. Gap vs. American Apparel

Where did the time go? Yesterday I was wrapping up finals and now I'm realizing I only have a week left in DC. I can't really complain. It's been nice to play housewife for a few weeks and soak up all the time I can with my friends and family (not to mention actually live with Mr. C rather than shuttle back and forth between apartments). One of the side effects though is that I have been separated from the majority of my wardrobe. On the plus side this has given me an excuse to go shopping forced me to be creative with the six outfits I remembered to stuff in my suitcase. On the downside, it's made it a little difficult to work on my closet cataloguing project. It's probably not a good sign that I can't remember how many dresses I own off the top of my head . . . 

So in lieu of updating my spreadsheet, I have been taking stock of my summer basics. First up? Solid, cotton t-shirts. After last summer when I couldn't seem to find any breathable (aka sweat-trap) tops. T-shirts quickly became essential. Add a belt, skirt, and some wedges and you're ready for brunch or a casual friday. Or switch it out for boy shorts on those too-hot-to -wear-anything summer days. But, after a summer in DC, my stock of t-shirts were definitely worse for wear. All but one had some combination of stains and tiny holes, or had simply disappeared into the mysterious abyss that also swallows single socks. 

My initial instinct was just to re-order the same Everlane T-shirts that I had last summer. But (because I may have too much time on my hands right now), I thought I'd take a step back and objectively evaluate the three brands I currently have in my closet to see how they measured up against each other: the American Apparel 50/50 shirt, Everlane's Cotton V, and the Gap Essential T.

So how did they stack up? 
Price: In terms, of price, they're all close (and all $20 or less) but Everlane was checked off as the cheapest at $15. The reason Gap got a question mark is that they've been running so many 40% off sales that I actually haven't seen this t-shirt at full price any where in the last month. American Apparel got an "x" because they were the most expensive and because I was annoyed they don't give a student discount #gradschoolproblems. 

Material: Both Gap and Everlane are listed as being made of 100% pima cotton and I can attest that they both feel really soft, without being too thin or at all see through. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the American Apparel shirt I'd picked up was actually their 50/50 poly-cotton blend, so I can't compare it directly to the other two. However, in my un-professional opinion, it's pretty nice though not as soft or quite as breathable. 

Fit: This was where I realized my Everlane t-shirts where falling short. Even in the smallest size, they're baggy on me (this is actually true of all the Everlane products but it's particularly pronounced in their t-shirts). If you look at this year's version on-line, it looks baggy, even on the model, so it must be intentional. But, in my opinion, this makes them look sloppy on me. In contrast, both the Gap and American Apparel t-shirts fit really well--not too snug, but they're easy to tuck into skirts or my new favorite printed pants. I would note that some reviewers found the Gap essential T to run a little large, but this wasn't the case for me.

Style: I was happy with the style and cut of both the Everlane V and the Gap Essential T. The Everlane V is very flattering and not too deep if you're more endowed than I am and showing too much cleavage is a concern. I haven't tried their u-neck style but I assume it's similar. (judging from their baggier cuts and more classic style I don't think overtly sexy is their thing). In contrast, the cut of the American Apparel t-shirt is a little . . . off. It's comes up oddly high on your neck--almost like a kid's t-shirt instead of an adult woman's. It's not terrible but it's enough to make me hesitate before buying this style again. 

Final verdict? While I love Everlane for their silk shirts, sweatshirts, and acceptably adult backpacks . . . I've realized that I'm not really that big a fan of of their t-shirts. At the end of the day, the fit is really important to me. And, given that Gap's comparable shirt is not that much more expensive (and probably on sale as we speak), for me, it's the better buy. The only downside? It comes in a ton more colors, which may tempt me to buy one of each . . . 

*Note: In full disclosure, I will be working for Gap this summer, but that had nothing to do with this post. I just like their t-shirts.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Lovin: How to Pack for a Beach Vacation Part 2

Summer Outfitting

Day 1
1. Easy travel day outfit
2. Birthday dinner with Mr. C at a local spot

Day 2
3. First day was chilly so my printed pants were perfect for exploring our neighborhood. Where we were staying there were a series of docks, each one with their own bar at the end! Our favorite had $2 drafts. Obviously we became regulars. 

4. Shorts and a fun top were perfect for checking out the local night spots (and navigating all the 21 yr olds at the Sloppy Tuna)*

Day 3
5. More exploring! And more $2 drafts. Also, you haven't been to Montauk until you've been shooed off of a private beach.

Day 4
(not pictured) Beach day! This was my favorite :)

6. Evening stroll on the beach, followed by fresh seafood at Sammy's (I tried raw clams on the half shell, delicious!) 

Day 5
7. For our last day, we had a few hours to kill before our train. We spent it tasting beers at the Montauk Brewing Company and walking along the beach on the Atlantic side of Montauk. 

*In all honesty it was freezing that night, so I ended up throwing on something else, but ideally this is what I wanted to wear ;)