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

New Year, Old Tricks: Intentional Wardrobe

Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
These staples from my intentional wardrobe are sticking around for 2017 and beyond.

Welcome to the second post in the mini-series I’ve decided to call New Year, Old Tricks. See the first installment here. The year 2016 was disproportionately awful, but there were some personal highlights worth keeping around. Today I’ll be talking about something that has come to be fundamental to the direction of this blog: the intentional wardrobe. I recognized that my free t-shirts and worn out jeans from college didn’t suit my new life or climate. I wanted to revamp my closet in a thoughtful, cohesive manner that would produce a wardrobe I felt great wearing. The latest addition to that intentional wardrobe is a member of my winter layers category: the “Better Sweater” from Patagonia.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
While it’s not black, this dappled grey fleece fits right into my color scheme.

Better Sweater or Fancier Fleece?

I’ve had my eye on this fleece jacket for a while, as it seems to be a Pacific Northwest staple. The “better sweater” comes in a variety of iterations, including a vest and 1/4 zip in both men’s and women’s fits. However, I was willing to pay more for the full zip jacket with front zip pockets. Because the Birch White color in a size XS wasn’t availible in stores, I ordered the jacket online from REI. (As you may have seen on my Instagram story, the jacket arrived with its security tag still on, but the store was able to take that off easily.)

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here you can just see the pocket on the upper left arm.

The jacket is a thick polyester fleece with a woven-looking finish. There are three zip pockets: two in the usual positions on the front, and one on the upper left arm. The arm pocket is larger than it looks, and my entire card holder wallet fits inside with room to spare. I haven’t worn the jacket too much around Seattle, as my North Face Stretch Thermoball is usually plenty warm. However, I have room for this fleece under my thermoball as part of my layering recipe.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Here’s the back of the jacket: fitted but not too tight.
Casey of Dressed to Code layers up with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and the North Face stretch thermoball down alternative jacket, finished with Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
It may be cold outside, but these layers are keeping me nice and toasty.

Layering Up

My layering recipe for tops is pretty straightforward: skin layer + fuzzy layer + fluffy layer + shell. Everything except that skin layer is optional depending on the weather. I wear anything from a light cotton t-shirt to a wool base layer against my skin, depending on conditions. However, a skin layer with even short sleeves will protect your jackets and leave them cleaner for longer. In other words, sleeveless tank tops expose your jackets to sweat and deodorant staining.

Wearing so many jackets can be annoying when you come inside and start melting. As an upside, you end up with enough pockets to often leave the purse at home. Nonetheless, the different pieces allow for a wider variety of options. You probably compile many of these options without even thinking about it. If it’s warm but rainy or windy, throw the shell on over your skin layer. If it’s cold but calm, the skin layer and fluffy layer might do the trick. A fuzzy layer over a skin layer is great when it’s chilly inside. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are seven of them, not accounting for different skin layers.

I tend to use my Madewell Whisper Cotton Tees as skin layers, as they breathe well and are pretty thin. This Patagonia Better Sweater will serve as my fuzzy layer, and my fluffy layer is my North Face Stretch Thermoball jacket. While (shockingly) not in the black/grey color scheme of the other layers, I use my Marmot Gore-Tex jacket as my wind and waterproof shell.

Casey of Dressed to Code is cozy in black and white with the Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket in Birch White and Madewell 10" high rise skinny jeans in black and Hunter original refined rain boots in a matte black finish.
Black, white, and silver – an easy everyday combination from my overall intentional wardrobe color scheme.

Continuing On

The biggest reason why I’ll be continuing on with the intentional wardrobe process? It works. I needed to run out the door the other day and dressed in two minutes. The result? A better outfit than I might have put together in half an hour before starting this project. (I don’t think I’ve been clear enough that I haven’t exactly been a fantastic dresser my entire life. So if you’re seeing all these bloggers and thinking you’d never be able to do that, you can.)

The simple act of getting dressed becomes easier when your closet is well stocked. Rather than having a lot of clothing, I focused on cohesive, quality items that fulfill the needs of my everyday life. I’m still adding pieces, but I’m happy* with the items I’ve selected so far. (*One or two pieces haven’t quite lived up to my expectations, but that wasn’t foreseeable.)

Furthermore, the coordinated closet makes travel packing a breeze! Stay tuned on Instagram stories for updates from my upcoming trip.

 

What works for you when it comes to shopping selectively?

Keep in your life that which brings you joy.

-Casey

Toasting the New Year with a Drink of Water

Casey of Dressed to Code wears a black Women's North Face Stretch Thermoball down alternative jacket with black Madewell 10" high-rise denim and kodiak caramel leather insulated boots.
I’m looking forward to the new year, but I’m also looking back at what I’ll continue from years past.

It’s easy to see why people love the start of the new year so much. January 1 is the day we collectively start over and vow to do things differently, to make this year better than the last. It’s the time of resolutions and renewal. That said, I can’t remember the last time that a significant change I made started with a New Year’s resolution. Change doesn’t have to start with the beginning of the year, the month, or the week. Change starts whenever you’re ready and willing to do the work. Therefore, this post, primarily covering my drink habits, is the first in a mini-series covering some of the changes I plan to continue into the new year.

Health and Fitness

A new year’s post wouldn’t be complete without some mention of being active and eating right/better/healthier/etc. About a year ago, I was forced into making some dietary changes. It hasn’t been fun, and it certainly hasn’t been easy. Nonetheless, it has been worth it to lessen or eliminate some of the uncomfortable (or even painful) symptoms I was experiencing. As part of this change, I avoid certain foods, eat others in moderation, and maintain a minimum level of activity. To continue feeling better, I plan to continue doing all of these things into the new year.

Please note that I made these changes in consultation with my doctor, a licensed and experienced medical professional.

Gazing out on the lake from Mercer Island, Seattle, Washington.
Our 2nd annual Christmas Day bike ride was much colder than the first, but it was great to get back on the bike.

What I Drink and What I Don’t

Now, in my completely amateur opinion, I’ll quickly share what I believe to be an easy place to start if you’re looking to cut back on sugar or empty calories: what you drink. The habits I’m outlining here have developed over the years for a variety of reasons, but they work for me. Even better, I save a lot of money.

I drink water.

The vast majority of the time, I drink water. I know, we’ve all heard “drink more water,” but it really is incredibly beneficial in a variety of ways. Personally, I’ll drink a lot more water if it’s already in front of me (like at a restaurant) or easily accessible.We have become better at refilling our water glasses at least once during dinner, which has made a difference.

Unless you’re in a poisoned water situation like Flint, Michigan, skip the pre-bottled stuff (it’s expensive and terrible for the planet) and fill up on good old tap water. If you don’t like the taste, install a filter or use a filtered pitcher. Bring a bottle to take with you or keep in the car when you’re out and about; I love my hydroflask water bottle for keeping water cold on hot days. What changes could you inact to make drinking more water easier?

Plus, restaurants and other food establishments in the United States are often required to provide drinking water for free or a minimal “cup fee.” This savings adds up over time, leaving you more for more meals out or your savings account.

I don’t drink coffee.

I know this one isn’t going to be feasible for everyone, but I don’t drink coffee. Yes, I now live in Seattle. Before you try to tell me what I’m missing, I’ve never been interested; too much caffeine gives me a headache; and I save that money for other things. If you feel terrible when you cut back on the coffee (or soda), it’s likely because caffeine is a legitimate physical addiction and you’re undergoing withdrawal. If you do decide to cast off caffeine in the new year, know that the secret to waking up well isn’t coffee — it’s getting enough sleep.

I do drink tea.

Instead, I usually drink tea when I want something warm. Black tea (no cream, no sugar) is generally my first choice. Right now, I’m primarily drinking decaffeinated English Breakfast from Twinings which I bought in a 100 pack from Amazon (an excellent decision).

I sometimes drink fruit juice.

Sometimes I get a craving for fruit juice, especially a nice glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. If I do drink fruit juice, I try to make sure that what I’m drinking comes from an actual fruit and isn’t fruit flavored sugar water. You should also know that a naturally occurring chemical in grapefruits can interfere with certain medications. Check everything you’re taking for interactions before you choose that particular citrus. (Side note: unless you are severely dehydrated from the flu or serious exercise in the hot sun, your electrolytes are probably fine. Skip the sports drinks.)

I very rarely drink soda.

If I do drink soda, it’s on rare occasion and probably at a fancy event. I’ll order a non-alcoholic mixed drink when the occasion calls for it. (Side note: Trader Joe’s pomegranate limeade + tonic water is an easy mocktail.) Maybe once every two years I’ll get the hankering for a Coke and drink half a can. Soda has never been a big fixture in my diet, and that’s something I’m not going to change.

I sometimes drink hot chocolate.

Of course, if you’ve seen my Instagram feed, you know that I also love a good hot chocolate. For those dietary reasons I mentioned, I avoid hot chocolates made with dairy or soy milks and order almond or coconut milk if available. If not, I order tea. I don’t stock it at home, so hot chocolate is a treat usually reserved for cozy coffeehouse meetings with friends.

A croissant, latte, and hot chocolate from Storyville Coffee add a little something special to a meeting between friends.
The hot chocolate is mine. The latte isn’t.

I don’t drink alcohol.

Disclaimer: If this part of the post sounds defensive or overly aggressive, know that complete strangers have voiced very strong opinions on this personal decision of mine over the years, ranging from inappropriate to uncomfortable and even threatening. 

This is for several reasons, including those dietary restrictions I mentioned above. Several of my many reasons for not imbibing are deeply personal and not up for debate. No, avoiding alcohol doesn’t make me a prude or a buzzkill or anything like that. It also doesn’t tell you anything about my religious or political views. Yes, I have tried it, and no, there isn’t any drink out there that will change my mind.

For one thing, it seems that I smell alcohol much more strongly than other people. I’ve had plenty of “but you can’t even taste the alcohol” drinks shoved in my face, and they all reeked of booze to me. (In the spirit of full disclosure, there was a mixed-drink exception, but I’m 99.9% sure that person had actually been discretely cut off by their friends.)

I want to emphasize that I believe alcoholic beverages, in moderation, can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Many of my friends drink alcohol, and I spend time with them when they do. (Built in DD!) I become concerned, however, when people promote alcohol (and a lot of it) as an essential part of having fun. That’s an incredibly dangerous and disturbingly prevalent notion. If you can’t remember the last time you had a good time without consuming alcohol, please consider seeking help.

Some Myths About People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol

Weirdly enough, not drinking alcohol seems to make some people very uncomfortable. Let’s talk about some of the reasons I hear:

  1. Judgement. If you do something unwise or dangerous under the influence of a substance, I’m going to judge you for it. If you do something unwise or dangerous not under the influence, I’m going to judge you for it as well. Your actions factor into others’ assessment of your character. Having a drink or two isn’t going to change my assessment of you. Getting violent, belligerent, or behind the wheel while impaired will.
  2. Fun. Yes, you can have fun without being tipsy or drunk. In fact, you should have non-alcoholic fun on a regular basis. It’s fun, and you won’t have that bar tab at the end of the night.
  3. Social lubricant. This is the one that probably makes the least amount of sense to me. Some people use alcohol to help them relax in social situations. Fine. Somehow, this has been twisted around to imply that people who don’t drink alcohol are somehow less socially adept. While there’s bound to be some overlap between the two groups, this one’s just not true. Maybe it’s really because your sober friend can clue you in as to whether you’re actually funnier while drinking or just think you are.

Being A Better Host/Friend/Member of Society

What can you do to be more conscious of people who do not partake (whether that means ever or just on a given night)?

  1. If they decline alcoholic beverages, don’t question it. Offer the non-alcoholic options. Better yet, offer all the beverages up front.
  2. Have non-alcoholic options. This is just good practice for everyone. (If you’re serving cocktails, include interesting multi-ingredient non-alcoholic drinks.)
  3. Don’t ask them why. There are a million completely legitimate reasons, all of which are none of your business unless they choose to share. Some examples include:
    • They don’t feel like it.
    • They need to drive home. Alcohol tolerance varies wildly and is not a competition. Some people are uncomfortable or not safe driving after even a single drink.
    • They’re taking medication. Many medications are incompatible or unwise to take with alcohol, including antibiotics. Do you really want to be the person who puts someone on the spot over a UTI?
    • They have a personal or family history of alcoholism. Addiction is serious business and very personal.
    • They’re trying to save money.
  4. Reconsider alcohol-themed events. If you make the entire point of the party “champagne” or “beer pong,” you’re making someone feel unwelcome or uninterested. At a minimum, try to provide alternatives and include them prominently in the invitation, like hosting a wine and chocolate tasting event (sign me up!).

Words to Avoid: “Detox” and “Chemical-free”

It seems appropriate here to caution against “quick fix” diets or “detox” products. As any legitimate medical professional will tell you, your body has its own methods of removing “toxins” from your body; their names are liver and kidney. If you want to help them out, drink more water and less alcohol. A juice “cleanse” probably won’t kill you, but that healthy feeling people report afterward is more the result of cutting back on foods heavy in fats and processed sugars. If you want to change what you eat, skip the (potentially dangerous) magic pills and simply focus on foods that are better for you. If you’re still not feeling better, consult your doctor. You may, like me, have food-related or other health issues that require treatment.

Furthermore, anyone who touts a “chemical-free” product has no idea what they’re talking about. Period. This is a fallacy (especially rampant in health and beauty products) easily countered with basic science literacy. Water is a chemical. That isn’t to say that there aren’t chemicals which you should legitimately avoid putting in or on your body; there definitely are harmful chemicals out there. However, if someone tries to sell you a “chemical-free” product, they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

What drinks do you consider worth the money? What’s your favorite mocktail recipe? What would you like to see in this series? Let me know!

We cannot change that which we do not recognize.

-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