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

How to Balance Black Leather

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
This black on black leather look could have gone biker chick rather than casual chic, but it’s all about balance.

As my birthday approaches each year, I start to reflect on my life thus far and the year to come. This year, even as I chase my goals, I need to simultaneously slow down and enjoy being in my early twenties. It’s so easy to keep worrying about the next steps and forget to enjoy the now. So when I spotted this faux leather mini on the sale rack at Abercrombie (and it fit at the natural waist with an A-line shape), I figured now was the time to rock a piece like this!

I know that when you hear Abercrombie, you probably think of brightly-colored, branded t-shirts. They still have some of those shirts, but they also have some great pieces, like this satin bomber in black or burgundy. They have also introduced petite and tall sizes online! I’ve actually found enough worth looking at lately to add the store back into my online rotation. If you want to avoid shipping costs, you can pick up online orders in store (and immediately make a return if it doesn’t work out).

Skirt

This fully lined, faux leather mini includes a functional full-length zipper up the front. (That could be helpful if you’re currently rocking a bootie of the medical variety). A tab snaps on either side of the zipper, so I’m not worried about accidental unzipping. I was a little worried about the length, so I put a small pair of shorts on underneath. The waist also comes down to a slight point on either side, which is an interesting touch.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
It’s texture rather than color that really makes this look.

Top

I told you that this staple piece would be making a reappearance! In addition to sitting well under a blazer, this Banana Republic favorite looks great on its own. As I mentioned previously, I never found it online, but if you find a similar piece, let me know! (I’ll buy three more.) I like the simple, flowy top to counteract the leather skirt and add balance. With the black top and bottom, the overall outfit has a sleekness to it while relying on texture for visual interest. The soft nature of the top counteracts the potential harshness of the bottom and keeps the look firmly in my aesthetic.

Sandals

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning or following me on Instagram, you’ll recognize these Hinge Drea Peep-toe Leather Sandals from Nordstrom. This outfit would have also worked well with black sandals, but I love the leg-lengthening effect of the nude sandal. See a close-up here. As it gets cooler, I’ll swap out these sandals for tights and my black INC booties.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, Fossil Georgia leather watch, and Danforth pewter squirrel necklace.
Black and silver (and pewter) accessories tie in nicely together and with the silver snaps on the skirt.

Accessories

I paired this outfit with my black leather, silver hardware Coach purse, which I believe is an earlier iteration of the Dinky bag. This year’s version reimagines the interior slightly with a coin-purse-style pocket, and has more pronounced topstitching in a contrasting color. A well-cared for Coach purse will last for years (my other Coach purse is approaching 40!), so buying a preowned classic is a great option.

I’m also wearing my black and silver Fossil Georgia watch for a little wrist sparkle. (A few years ago, I rarely wore anything on my wrists. Now my Fitbit tan line is pronounced enough that I almost never go without something.) As I have mentioned before, I love the large, readable face of this watch paired with the small band.

Little touches like a charming necklace add a personal element to an outfit and even serve as a conversation starter. The distinctive squirrel I’m wearing here (on an 18″ chain) is from Danforth Pewter, made in Vermont. The squirrel cast shown here is still available in a pin. You won’t find any more charms because but I bought out all their remaining stock after they discontinued production. They made great little gifts!

There are a number of other shapes of charms to choose from, and they have a warm, handcrafted quality in your hands. The best way to pick out your charm is by going through the big wooden chest with all the little drawers in store, but online shopping works as well if you aren’t planning a trip to Vermont anytime soon. (I adore this little tree frog!) I paired this necklace with simple brushed silver studs.

Where nail polish is so much less expensive than paying for a manicure, I don’t feel too guilty about picking up a new color every other trip to Target. This medium berry tone is a Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear polish in 189 – Mauve Over. The color on my screen is pretty true to the color on my nails, which makes a perfect transitional color between the fresh brights of summer and the deep tones of fall.

Banana Republic top, Abercrombie faux leather mini skirt, and Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals from Nordstrom.
This black leather purse with shiny silver details pairs equally well with my everyday aesthetic and special occasions, with plenty of room for the essentials and more.

#onthecusp

I ended up immediately wearing this outfit for an On the Cusp event at Neiman Marcus Bellevue. Five Seattle area bloggers had pulled pieces for the fall season, including Pumps and Plaid, AikA’s Love Closet, Story of My Dress, and xxKarlieRae. While most of their gorgeous pulls won’t be joining my closet anytime soon ($$$$), it was fun to look. I had a wonderful evening meeting other bloggers and thinking about how I could incorporate some of the elements.

IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey from Neiman Marcus
IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey, available at Neiman Marcus

One of my unexpectedly favorite pieces was this IRO Han Jersey-Knit Motorcycle Jacket in Pink Grey pulled by Megan of  Sort of Style and paired with a crisp white shirt. This subdued, neutral pink is popular with many of the bloggers I follow, and the texture was buttery soft. While I’m not going to convert to a light-colored closet anytime soon, this pin-worthy jacket had me giving this color further consideration. If you love the light-leather moto look, this BLANKNYC Faux Leather Moto Jacket in might do this trick!

 

What are your stop-and-smell-the-roses moments? This week, mine was remembering I’ll only be in my early twenties once and rocking a (faux) leather skirt. Share yours in the comments below!

Be even more amazing than you ever thought you’d be.

-Casey

Be Bold in a Blue Romper

ASTR deep V romper with Hinge Drea Peep Toe Sandals in blush leather.
Occasionally, you find that piece that begs you to be a little bolder.

This is one of those looks that turns heads. The compliments come pouring in (some more welcome than others), and you stand up a little straighter.

Romper

I’m an advocate for trying things on, as they often look very different on the rack than on your body. I picked up this ASTR romper at Nordstrom and knew I wanted to buy it the second I put it on.

First, finding rompers for a petite frame can be difficult, and this fit me like it was made for me. The waist hit where it should, the crotch wasn’t too low, and the shoulders were narrow enough.

Secondly, the color was bold, although not quite as vivid as photographed. The Nordstrom photos do a better job of capturing this lively blue-with-a-hint-of-periwinkle color ASTR is calling Bright Blue.

Third, the sleeves were fun. They are full length but slit open from just above the elbow for a fun, floaty effect. It’s not particularly practical (I’m certainly not cooking with them!) but adds to the knockout feeling I had while wearing this.

ASTR deep V romper with Hinge Drea Peep Toe Sandals in blush leather.
This piece might have been a little outside my comfort zone, but it’s great to try something new on occasion — you might just love it!

There was just one problem: The V-neck. Online, this is listed as the Deep V-Neck Pleated Front Romper, and the neckline was certainly plunging. Much of my bra was exposed, and I wasn’t about to rely on fashion tape.

Solution number one would have been to simply wear something I was willing to show off, like a camisole or lacy bralette top. Black, white, and nude are obvious choices, but one of my favorite aspects of the look was the clean neckline.

Instead, I went with a needle and thread! With a fair amount of pinching and turning, I saw that the loose, flowing fabric would help disguise my alteration. Additionally, the open back meant that I could pinch together the front and not worry about the bust becoming too tight. Ultimately, the back is now more open that it was before (showing a little more of my nude bra in the back), but it was a fairly safe alteration to make. I ended up stitching up 3-4 inches, and you wouldn’t notice unless you knew to look (and got inappropriately close to my bust). The result is a more wearable deep V that maintains the same clean lines.

ASTR deep V romper with a bright red lip.
Would you suspect that I’d altered the neckline if I hadn’t told you?

Sandals

One of the other great things about a romper over a dress is that you can have a shorter length without worrying about gusts of wind. That means legs for miles. In taking advantage of the last few warm days, I opted for my blush-toned Hinge Drea Peep-Toe Leather Sandals. (As it gets cooler, I’ll switch to tights and booties.) As the outfit that already had enough bold color going on (just look at that red lip), a nude shoe was a good choice.

Accessories

On another occasion, I paired this romper with sparklier accessories, but I had recently received this delicate silver dot necklace from Silver Cup Studio on Etsy and was having fun pairing it with a range of looks.  The necklace pairs well with a pair of silver button studs I picked up at Macy’s last year.

Have you ever taken a risk and pushed your fashion boundaries? Did it feel like a new you or like dressing up in someone else’s clothes? Share your story below!

Do a happy dance; you’re worth it!

Casey

Beginning with the Basics

Begin with the basics with this petite-friendly Madewell radio tee in black with cuffed Quincy wash 8" skinny jeans and Hinge Drea peep toe lace up leather sandals in blush.
Elevate your everyday jeans and tee look with great fabrics, flattering fit, and simple accessories.

Hi! I’m Casey. For my first post here on Dressed to Code, I figured I’d be true to myself and show you my go-to look: jeans and a t-shirt! At 5’3″ tall (on a good day), even this staple look can be difficult to put together without looking too youthful. The key to success is to build on quality, well-fitting basics. I’ll admit I don’t wear heels on a daily basis, but these blush leather lace-ups are my current shoe crush.

Jeans

After my well-loved, favorite jeans wore out and ripped (in a not-fixable area), I went hunting for a similar, heavyweight denim in a flattering cut. For me, that meant finding a pair that would fit my hips without being too large at the waist. Jeans are probably one of the most ubiquitous basics and the basis for many classic looks.

Fast forward a couple dozen pairs of jeans, and I found a great pair that fit at Madewell. These 8″ skinny jeans (on sale!) are one of their staple fits, and I love the darkness of the Quincy wash. I’m wearing a size 25 in the regular length, cuffed. The high-quality denim has a substantial feel to it, and doesn’t stretch out throughout the day. You can bet on seeing more of these in future posts.

 

The back of the basics with this view of Madewell radio tee, Quncy wash 8" skinny jeans, and Hinge Drea blush leather sandals.
These dark wash jeans are flattering from all angles.

I loved the new pair so much that I went online and snagged a pair in the Lakeshore wash (now only $50!). I ended up getting the Lakeshore pair hemmed and tapered through Madewell, which I’ll cover in a later post.

T-shirt

While in store at Madewell, I also found a new favorite in the pima cotton radio tee (now on sale for $14 in 3 colors). Tees are other critical basics. However, I often find shirts to be simultaneously too long and wide in the body and too tight in the arms and across the chest. (I call it the too-tight-tent!) This ultra soft tee didn’t have any of those problems.  I wear an XS, which means there’s even another smaller size for you to try. This might be a cropped fit on a taller person, but I like that the hem hits me just below the top of those 8″ skinny jeans without the excessive width of many cropped styles. The resulting fit is a close-to-the-body but not-too-tight tee in a flattering length.

The Madewell radio tee, Fossil Georgia watch, and Madewell 8" skinny jeans are all quality basics.
With a t-shirt that fits this well and feels this good, you might feel like you’re getting away with something.

Sandals

I saw these Hinge ‘Drea’ peep toe leather sandals online and knew I wanted to try them on. As someone who usually saves heels for special occasions, I was happy to find a pair of comfortable casual heels! Although they also come in black, I loved the nearly-nude look of the blush leather on my fair skin. Because of the lace-up style, the leather adjusts to your foot like a second skin. I tried on multiple sizes and purchased my usual sandal size (5.5). I’ll be wearing these with summery dressed as much as I can before cool weather sets in, and then pairing them with jeans and sweaters to get even more use out of them.

The very first time I wore these sandals, I ended up walking over a mile through the city on one of the hottest days in Seattle all summer. When I got home, my feet were a little sweaty (sorry if that’s TMI) but content, thanks to the quality leather and attractive cutouts. Because the laces allow you to get a custom fit, my feet hadn’t slid around, and I had zero blisters. I had a little bit of that muscle soreness from being in heels all day, but I could have walked even farther. Win!

Love the basics with these Madewell 8" skinny jeans in Quincy wash, cuffed and paired with Hinge Drea peep toe lace up leather sandals in blush.
These Hinge Drea peep toe leather sandals manage to be attractive and comfortable, no breaking in needed.

Watch

This black and silver Fossil Georgia Watch (also marked down) balances a slender leather band and large face. The black leather with shiny silver accents fits perfectly into my aesthetic, and it manages to give the bold look of a large face watch without being overwhelming on a small wrist. The large face and notched dial also means it’s easy to read with a subtle glance.

Madewell radio tee in black with Fossil Georgia watch in black leather with silver hardware are basics for your closet.
Can you tell how excited I am about this watch? I could also be excited that it was almost time for lunch.

Earrings

My pearl studs are my favorite earrings and were a present from my grandmother years ago. If you’re looking for a classic pair of pearls with a smaller price tag, these Charter Club imitation pearl earrings are a good choice.

The Madewell radio tee in black pairs well with classic pearl studs for a great version of the basics.
These classic pearl studs are subtle enough for everyday wear and refined enough for special occasions.

Whether you read this post or just scrolled through the photos, welcome to Dressed to Code and thanks for reading! Make sure to follow me on Instagram or your other favorite social media to keep up with new posts. You can also learn more about me or my goals for the blog. If you have your own favorite fit tee, leave a comment below!

May your closet be prepared for whatever you get dressed to do!

– Casey