Nothing to wear? It’s not about your closet.

Casey of Dressed to Code is pulling her hair back from her face with both hands. She is gazing down and wearing a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans.
Even within the bounds of black and denim, there is so much to play with in terms of shape and texture.

We’ve all been there. You open your closet and there’s nothing to wear. Okay, so not literally. There are a million reasons why you might feel that way, and in my experience, they’re accurately summed up by this quote:


“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

— Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman


 I’ve been in a nothing-to-wear funk for a couple weeks, which means that I have to be careful to not do two things. First, I ban myself from cleaning out my closet. In this kind of mood, nothing in my closet seems satisfactory, and I’m frequently tempted to empty my closet and whisk it all off to Goodwill. Not good. Second, I (mostly) ban myself from shopping for new pieces. In this kind of mood, I’m more likely to shop desperately, in the mindset that if I find that magic piece or two, my current feelings about my wardrobe will completely turn around. (Spoiler alert: It never works that way.) Together, that means that when the mood strikes, the wardrobe stays fixed. No additions. No subtractions.

Casey of Dressed to Code is smiling off to her right. In addition to a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans, she is wearing blush leather lace-up sandals.
Just a girl standing in front of a closet, asking herself to love it.

The truth is, when I’m frustrated with my closet, it’s almost never about my closet. There isn’t a magical piece to pull everything together because it isn’t about the clothes. At all.

Three months into my new job, I’m starting to feel like I can tread water. However, I’ve been spending a lot of time at work, and not enough time on the rest of my life. It’s not the closet that I’ve been discontent with so much as my current work-life (un)balance — and the weather. This Seattle winter has been rough. To combat it, I started by focusing ten minutes a day on getting back to a healthier state. Ten little minutes a day: doable. In ten minutes, it’s amazing what you can do: writing in a journal, reading, setting up plans with friends, writing letters, etc. The list goes on. A realistic goal is often better than a big one. You can always upgrade your goal later, and the better you feel, the more energy you’ll have to do some of these things.

Casey of Dressed to Code has her back to the camera with her right arm extended upward to a peace sign. A black t-shirt is tucked into snug jeans with a black leather belt.
Find peace with your life. Then turn to your closet.

Black and Denim: A Closet Classic

Additionally, I asked myself to focus on what I like about my wardrobe. Clearly, there was a reason I bought these things in the first place. Eventually, I came back around to appreciating the theme that dominates my wardrobe: black and denim.

Black

This Madewell Musical Tee is a little snugger than my other black tees, and the boatneck neckline really shows off those collarbones. Altogether, it’s a little bit sexier than my other black tees.

Denim

If you read my review-recall post, you know that I’ve had terrible luck with Madewell denim after initially loving it. That said, having one presentable pair of jeans that might rip at any moment was anxiety-inducing, and after some truly awful attempts, bought another pair as a stopgap. These are the 9″ High Rise Skinny Jean in Larkspur Wash and still tint my legs (and sometimes hands) blue. They are, nonetheless, very comfortable.

Sandals

There’s something about working in such a male-dominated industry hat has me craving heels like never before. Thankfully, these Hinge stacked-heel beauties are comfortable!

Casey of Dressed to Code is perpendicular to the camera with her right sandal crossed over the left. Her right arm is at her waist, and she is wearing a ribbed black boatneck t-shirt and dark denim skinny jeans.
Yes, it’s that Madewell monogram again.

This post does have a happy ending! The sun is shining (hallelujah!), I have some fun activities planned this weekend with the wonderful people in my life. With things picking up, I also scored some truly exciting wardrobe additions, but that’s a story for another post!

(Spoilers on Twitter if you’re interested!)

Let me know what you’re doing to fix or maintain your life balance in the comments below!

Fight for your balance, friends.

-Casey

Overalls: Not the Uniform Anymore

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs light denim overalls with black and silver accessories: a wool hat, statement silver disc earrings, and a black and silver Apple watch.
Amp up a casual outfit with three accessories.

Getting Dressed

When was the last time you got dressed without taking someone else into account? If you’re anything like me, you think about the weather, what’s clean, the occasion, and… societal expectations. I’d like to say that I dress for myself and only myself, but that’s just not true. In a visual world, we use our clothing and style choices to convey who not only who we are but who we want to be.

Fitting In

In case you’re new to Dressed to Code, I’m a software developer. As such, I work at a technology company with other people who also code for a living (Shocking stuff, right?). However, you’re probably already aware that women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, and that the tech industry has a reputation for hoodies, jeans, and sneakers.

Long story short, I’ve been wearing the uniform: jeans every day and sneakers many days. My Madewell Whisper Cotton Tees and Patagonia Better Sweater make frequent appearances. Is it physically comfortable? Absolutely. Is it emotionally comfortable? Here’s the reflective part of this post: I’m wearing these things to blend in. I’m wearing these items because it’s easier to go along with the unofficial uniform. It feels safer to mimic what other are wearing. It has also been raining almost nonstop for the last month.

Pair a classic pair of overalls with black accessories to keep things from straying too far into your childhood.
Seattle has been extra gloomy this year, so even a brief moment of sunshine is worth smiling about.

Standing Out

After hours, I spend plenty of time scrolling Instagram and scrolling the new arrivals at Madewell. Enter these overalls. Blogger Natalie Borton styled them six chic ways. Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam praised them as “Finally… overalls that I don’t hate.” I saw them in store and figured I try them on, get them out of my head, and never think of them again. It didn’t help. Surprisingly, I actually liked them on. They were comfortable but cute. Somehow, these overalls fell outside my norm but right into my wheelhouse.

I’ve bought pieces for special occasions or circumstances before, but I’m pretty sure this pair of overalls is the first article of clothing I’ve bought “for the weekend.” (Maybe that’s another step on the path to adulthood.)

I might be wearing the tech uniform to fit in, but I bought these overalls for me, as a little act of rebellion against the uniform. I styled them with the hat that always makes me feel more put together, and fun earrings that would be minimalist statement earrings if such a thing existed. Oh, and sneakers.

This overall, t-shirt, and sneakers combination is perfect for running errands or to brunch.
This overall, t-shirt, and sneakers combination is perfect for running errands or to brunch.
Whether you're cleaning the house or just dancing around it, these overalls feature pockets and buttery soft denim.
Whether you’re cleaning the house or just dancing around it, these overalls feature pockets and buttery soft denim.

Links:

Overalls – Madewell Skinny Overalls: Dropped Hem Edition (S)

Tee – Madewell Radio Tee (XS)

Sneakers – Nike Free Rn (7)

Hat – Morley Hat from Moorea Seal (Adjustable)

Earrings – Old, from Target

Watch – Apple Watch, 32 mm with Black Classic Buckle Leather Band

Notes:

1. I wear a size 26 in Madewell denim, and I sized up to a small for a more comfortable fit in the overalls. 2. I had them hemmed with a traditional denim hem (for free as a Madewell insider) because I wasn’t a fan of that particular dropped hem. 3. It’s been cool and rainy here in Seattle, so I swapped the hat for a black scarf and threw on my North Face Thermoball to run errands.

 

Be conscious of not only who you are but who you are becoming.

-Casey

Why Am I Dressed to Code? Big News!

Dressed to Code in Moorea Seal Morley adjustable black wool hat with petite-friendly North Face Women's Stretch Thermoball jacket in matte black (TNF black), Madewell whisper cotton tee in black and white hardy stripe, Madewell 8" skinny jeans in quincy wash dark denim, and Kodiak Acadia waterproof insulated boots in caramel leather.
People who code come in all shapes and sizes and look just like everyone else.

Dressed to Code

First, why is this blog called Dressed to Code? It’s more than a play on the phrase “dress code” (I have some strong opinions on dress codes, but that’s a post for another day.). This blog is called Dressed to Code because that’s what I do; I code.

Don’t get me wrong. I do plenty of other things too, like hike, bike, and watch more Netflix than I should. My education background is in physics (probably nothing like the physics you did in high school) as well, and I’ll always love the subject. If you’re wondering why, check out this mind-blowing video on quantum mechanics. (Yes, the little cartoon professor accurately explains the famous double slit experiment.) Your view of the world will never be the same.

I learned to code, and you can too.

Nonetheless, a few stellar professors got me hooked on coding and the ability to create with your keyboard. I understand why learning to code can sound intimidating. For one, it sounds like a different language, several different languages in fact. The basic idea is that you learn how to communicate what you want in a programming language which then converts those commands to a language your computer can follow. From there, the possibilities are endless.

For example, you want to buy a jacket (like this North Face Stretch Thermoball) if the price goes below a certain dollar amount, your budget. Basic “pseudocode” (a sort of rough draft of code) might look like this:

if price < budget: buy jacket

It really is that simple, at least at the beginning. There are now a plethora of free sites that will walk you through the basics in several different languages. I learned python as my first language and would recommend it as a good starting place. (In my opinion, it’s less fussy than other languages.) If you’re already blogging and want to learn a little more to help you spice up your website, I like the HTML and CSS tutorials over at W3Schools.

The News

Enough already, I know. You just want to hear my news. Well, drumroll please…

I’ll be starting the new year with a new job as a full-time software development engineer (SDE)!

What does that mean for Dressed to Code? That remains to be seen. I am tremendously grateful for the welcoming and supportive community I have found in the Seattle bloggers and am in no hurry to leave any time soon. That said, there will likely be some kind of a transition phase. We’ll see what happens!

Dressed to Code in Moorea Seal Morley adjustable black wool hat with petite-friendly North Face Women's Stretch Thermoball jacket in matte black (TNF black), Madewell whisper cotton tee in black and white hardy stripe, Madewell 8" skinny jeans in quincy wash dark denim, and Kodiak Acadia waterproof insulated boots in caramel leather.
This look would fit right in with my Pinterest inspiration board.

Black, Blue, Brown (and Stripes!)

This look really combines a number of the elements I found myself drawn to in my Pinterest research. Check out my board here, and you’ll notice this black-blue-brown color scheme (I include white and grey as well), punctuated by black and white stripes.

Jacket

This North Face Stretch Thermoball has been sitting under my tree, and I am pleased to finally be able to wear it. With temperatures hovering between freezing and high 40s fahrenheit (4C), this warm layer is just what I’ve needed. Recently, I went walking around the city with a friend, and this jacket kept me sufficiently warm with a t-shirt, beanie, and gloves. When it began to sprinkle lightly, the water drops beaded up on the exterior, but I wouldn’t trust it to go solo in a true rain.

I ultimately picked out this jacket over others for two key reasons. First, the smaller, chevron pattern is fairly flattering. Second, the matte finish means that the black jacket doesn’t resemble a trash bag. The jacket features two exterior zip pockets, and the option to tuck things into their lining inside. A hidden elastic band at the wrist keeps the drafts out of your sleeves.

(Note: This was my Christmas gift from my family, so I didn’t patiently wait for a sale like I normally do. You may have luck finding a better price once the weather warms up, and I’ll let you know if I spot a sale.)

I’m wearing an XS, which fits well with enough room for a bulky sweater underneath. The fit is a little snug around the bottom but would hit in a higher, thinner place on someone taller than myself. I like that the snug (but not too tight) fit means I’m not getting cold drafts up from below.

Dressed to Code in Moorea Seal Morley adjustable black wool hat with petite-friendly North Face Women's Stretch Thermoball jacket in matte black (TNF black), Madewell whisper cotton tee in black and white hardy stripe, Madewell 8" skinny jeans in quincy wash dark denim, and Kodiak Acadia waterproof insulated boots in caramel leather.
The stretch version of the North Face Thermoball has a matte finish.

Jeans & Tee & Hat

You’ll recognize my quincy wash Madewell 8″ skinny jeanswhisper cotton tee in hardy stripe, and Morley hat from Moorea Seal. Follow the links for my reviews in greater detail.

Kodiak Acadia Boots

I finally added a little brown to my wardrobe with these caramel leather Kodiak Acadia Boots. I got mine in person at REI, but Amazon has the full range of colors. These are insulated, waterproof leather boots with a durable sole. I’ve been wearing these regularly since I’ve gotten them and have been happy with how warm and comfortable they have been. I wear them with thick Smartwool hiking socks, so I sized up to a size 7 from my usual 6.5.

My biggest complaint is that they seem to scuff easily. I have plenty of leather shoes which don’t scuff quite as much as these, so you’d better be prepared for more of a worn leather look. My S.O. gave me a polishing kit for Christmas (purely because I’d been complaining about these), which I am excited to try out.

I spent quite a while in REI trying to decide between these and the very slightly more comfortable Kodiak Surrey II Boots. I went with the Acadia because they looked a little more like everyday shoes than heavy winter boots. The Surrey II was slightly bigger on, slightly more comfortable, slightly warmer, and slightly more expensive. Both styles are available from Kodiak in a men’s version as well.

Dressed to Code in Moorea Seal Morley adjustable black wool hat with petite-friendly North Face Women's Stretch Thermoball jacket in matte black (TNF black), Madewell whisper cotton tee in black and white hardy stripe, Madewell 8" skinny jeans in quincy wash dark denim, and Kodiak Acadia waterproof insulated boots in caramel leather.
Outside winter shoots aren’t so bad in a warm jacket and boots combination!

Wrapping Up 2016

This has been a roller coaster of a year, with some personal highs and globals lows. The takeaway message for me is that we have come so far but still have so much farther to go. Celebrate the small victories on your way to greater progress. Make the world a little kinder, a little more welcoming, and a little more aware.

Here’s to the next adventure.

-Casey

Stay Cozy Casual with a Classic

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater and lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, both from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Cozy Casual Outfit

Winter has certainly set in here in Seattle (snow!), and that means keeping my daily looks cozy casual. As you may have guessed, cozy casual means layers and warm sweaters.

Classic Cable Pullover Sweater

If you’ve been following along, I put plenty of sweaters on my intentional wardrobe wishlist. That said, I’ve been looking for the right sweater, heavy but not overwhelming. While in store at Madewell to make a not-so-successful Black Friday return, I found this classic cable pullover sweater in heather carbon. I hadn’t bought it during the Black Friday sales because it was final sale. However, after trying it on, I quickly snatched one up in size XS. It has interesting visual detail, and the sleeves are warm without being too tight. The weave is loose enough in places that I wouldn’t wear it without an undershirt. Here, while you cannot see it, I paired it with my grey whisper cotton crew neck tee.

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Madewell Denim

Denim may not be everyone’s first thought when they think cozy. However, the ‘real’ pants keep this cozy casual look from being at-home-in-your-pajamas casual. These 8″ skinny jeans are hemmed and tapered so that they fit like custom-made. They are also warm enough to stand up to some of these chilly days. (I really need to find an indoor shoot space!)

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

Chelsea Leather Boots

These chelsea leather boots were another sale scoop from Madewell. You may have sensed a trend in my shopping lately… it’s Madewell. Right now, Madewell is fitting that sweet spot of fit, budget, and style (more on that later).

Achieve cozy casual with this classic cable pullover sweater, lakeshore wash 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots, all from Madewell and styled on Casey of Dressed to Code.

 Personal Note

I received some good news lately that may, unfortunately, affect the continuation or operation of this blog. I’ll let you know more when I can, but for now, let me thank you for your support. In the few months that I have stumbled into the blogging world, I have learned so much and met some incredible people. A special thanks to Julia of Style and Cheek and Julianna of Blush and Camo for their support and encouragement.

Casey of Dressed to Code models a classic halo diamond ring from Blue Nile and snow-inspired white sparkle nails.
To be clear, this is NOT my news. This was a fun night of trying on the gorgeous baubles at Blue Nile.

Blue Nile

I recently had the opportunity to try on some beautiful diamond rings at the opening party for Blue Nile in Bellevue Square, thanks to Sydney of Gossip & Glamour (#bluenilesparkle). It was a fun night of light bites and sparkling rings. I loved that they had a number of the rings cabled into two tables so that you could inspect and try on rings without the pressure of someone watching you. As much as I love how the halo rings look on, I think I’d opt for something a little smaller when that time comes.

In honor of the snow, I opted for a sparkling white manicure using polishes White On and Disco Ball. I like that it ended up as a sort of neutral but festive and bright look. Try this combination if you’re looking for an alternative to the classic red manicure this time of year. That said, I recently ran out of my Revlon Red polish, which works wonders for a classic red manicure in a single coat!

If you’re looking for more cozy casual outfit inspiration, check out my other sweater purchase or my Pinterest board.

May your toes stay warm this winter!

-Casey

 

It’s All There in Black and White Striped

Simple, minimalist, classic, striped, black, white, denim, striped, wool hat, chelsea boots, outfit, idea, inspiration, looks, red, lipstick, lip, lips, bomber, satin, jacket, apple watch, Casey, Dressed to Code.
I’ve crossed short sleeve striped shirt off my intentional wardrobe wishlist with this 100% cotton score.
This classic, minimalist look on Casey of Dressed to code pairs a satin bomber jacket from Abercrombie, black wool Morley hat from Moorea Seal, Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe, and 8" skinny jeans for the best outfit inspiration.
There’s something about a black and white striped shirt and a red lip for that classic French outfit inspiration.
This classic, minimalist look on Casey of Dressed to code pairs a satin bomber jacket from Abercrombie, black wool Morley hat from Moorea Seal, Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe, 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots for the best outfit inspiration.
This look is mostly Madewell, with the exception of the Abercrombie bomber and Moorea Seal hat.
This classic, minimalist look on Casey of Dressed to code pairs a satin bomber jacket from Abercrombie, black wool Morley hat from Moorea Seal, Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe, 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots for the best outfit inspiration.
Because it’s getting cold in Seattle, I zip my jackets all the way up more often than not.
This classic, minimalist look on Casey of Dressed to code pairs a satin bomber jacket from Abercrombie, black wool Morley hat from Moorea Seal, Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe, 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots for the best outfit inspiration.
Additionally, I wear a belt with my jeans, a black leather hand-me-down from my mother. Thanks, Mom.
This classic, minimalist look on Casey of Dressed to code pairs a satin bomber jacket from Abercrombie, black wool Morley hat from Moorea Seal, Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe, 8" skinny jeans, and black leather chelsea boots for the best outfit inspiration.
Altogether, I’m please with how my intentional wardrobe is allowing me to create more outfits I love.

Intentional Wardrobe Update

This striped cotton tee is another item I can happily check off my intentional wardrobe wishlist. The further I get into the list, the easier it becomes to throw together memorable outfits. As much as I expected shopping carefully and strategically to produce a more cohesive closet, I underestimated the impact of sitting down and thinking through how I want to visually represent myself  long term. If your shopping history has been anything like mine, you have traditionally assembled your closet a few items at a time, maybe with more thought given to a particular outfit for a special occasion. While I’ve never been one for drawers of unworn clothes, the overall amalgamation left me with that nothing-to-wear feeling more times than I’d like to admit. Now, I find myself in that position less and less, usually when I should throw in a load of laundry. Long story short, I’m very happy with how this experiment is going.

If you’re looking to get started on an intentional wardrobe of your own, start here.

Striped Cotton Tee

Of my Black Friday/Thanksgiving sales purchases, this Madewell whisper cotton crewneck tee in hardy stripe was the first to arrive. For reference, I’m wearing a size XXS. Even as I’ve admired striped shirts from afar, finding one that wasn’t too-tight or transparent in the white stripes took time. Fundamentally, this shirt is the same style as my grey t-shirt, with the curved hem and luxurious cotton feel. (Although it wasn’t on the wishlist, I couldn’t resist ordering a whisper cotton crewneck tee in ‘cabernet’ for under $15.)

Unfortunately, the second item to arrive wasn’t the cozy-cool sweatshirt I was hoping it would be. (No fuzzy lining!) For that reason and the fact that it was really cropped, you won’t see me rocking this mockneck sweatshirt anytime soon. Oh well. You win some, you lose some, and you thank goodness for free returns!

What was your best Black Friday find? Let me know in the comments!

“Be many things, but most of all, be yourself.”

-Casey