Summer Staples: Stripes, Shorts, and Sneakers!

Casey leans against a concrete wall in a boxy, structured, black and white, cropped top with classic high waist jean shorts, and bright white Stan Smith sneakers with green accents.
I can’t tell you if I was dancing or jumping an invisible rope in this shot.

In my last post, I talked about falling out of love with my closet. As promised, this story has a happy ending, or at least a happy next chapter. In the last few weeks, I’ve been focused on exercise and enjoying the gorgeous Seattle summer days. As a result, I’m feeling a lot more satisfied with many aspects of my life, including my body and work-life balance. While I still have some things I’m looking to add to my wardrobe, my empty closet syndrome has mostly dissipated. In time for summer, I found a few key staples — stripes, shorts, sneakers!

Casey's fine hair is swept back into a small bun and her hands rest on the back of her neck as her head tips back.
Stripes and small buns make for easy summer style.

Stripes

While I don’t usually go for boxy cropped tops, the thick yet cool fabric of this striped Madewell top makes it a little more special. The boat neck is also rather wide, so I sized down for a narrower, less bra-strap-revealing neckline. The setlist boxy tee in murphy stripe comes in two colors, and I’m wearing a size XXS.

 

Casey walks by in a boxy, structured, black and white, cropped top with classic high waist jean shorts, and bright white Stan Smith sneakers with green accents.
Summertime, and the styling is easy: stripes, jean shorts, and crisp white sneakers.

Shorts

I don’t see a need to sell you on jean shorts for summer. That said, I actually only grabbed these to try on with another top, but then they fit so well. Even better, I remembered that the last pair of jean shorts in my closet didn’t exactly fit any more. Needless to say, they came home with me! I went for a classic look with the J. Crew High-Rise Denim shorts in Brixton wash (size 25) but if you’re looking for a little more, this paint-splattered pair is pretty fun.

Hands on hips and a shoulder-wide stance show off the proportions of a striped, cropped top and high waist jean shorts with glaringly white sneakers.
This pairing of boxy crop top and high waist shorts isn’t my usual style, but it’s a fun one to mix it up.

Sneakers

In the spirit of full disclosure, I held off on buying these sneakers for quite some time for the exact reason that my mom had Stan Smiths the entire time I was growing up. Sometimes green, sometimes navy, these iconic shoes, Birkenstocks, and high-waisted mom jeans are high on the list of things my mom always wore that are now considered stylish.

That said, when these Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers went on sale at Nordstrom, I decided to go for it. I’ve worn them almost every day since. With my mostly-neutral wardrobe, the green is a fun pop of color, and they lighten up work looks, even when I’m still dressing for a cool office.

 

There you have it, a simple formula for easy summer style! What’s your summer style formula? Join the conversation here.

Stay hydrated and sunscreened this summer; nothing ruins an outfit like a headache or a sunburn!

– Casey

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

Recommendation Recall: Kodiak Boots and Madewell Denim

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.
Two of the items in this photo have let me down in a big way.

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post, but I believe that it’s important to admit when your opinions have changed. So here it is, the post on which items haven’t retained my initial enthusiasm. That isn’t to say that these items might not be a good fit for someone else or that we didn’t have some good times together. Nonetheless, in the spirit of informed purchasing, here are my recommendation recalls.

The Bad News

Ammended Recommendation: Kodiak Arcadia Boots

First post here.

I purchased these boots at REI after realizing I was completely unprepared for a slushy winter day in Seattle. These insulated boots seemed to be just the thing, and I was drawn to the gorgeous coppery color. Clearly I wasn’t alone; I’ve noticed many REI employees sporting them as well. Why am I recalling my recommendation? They scuff horribly.

As one particularly annoying salesman explained to me, all leather shoes scuff (insert eyeroll here), but these Kodiak Arcadia boots age exponentially faster than any leather shoes I’ve ever owned. Within a day, I’d tripped over my own feet, introducing a long, pale gash down the side. Within a month, the boots look as though they’d been industrially aged for a vintage look. It might have been fine if that was my thing; spoiler: it’s not. Even shining the boots only improved the look temporarily.

Therefore, I’m amending my recommendation. The boots have kept my feet comfortable, warm, and dry. They have not kept their exterior style. If you’re looking for a vintage exterior look, these might actually be a good choice.

Rear view of Madewell radio tee, Quncy wash 8" skinny jeans, and Hinge Drea blush leather sandals.
These jeans may be comfortable, but they won’t last much longer.

Recalled Recommendation: Madewell Denim

First post here.

This one is especially painful. My relationship with Madewell denim goes back to my very first recommendation on Dressed to Code and extends to three different pairs of jeans (overalls so far not excluded). The first pair to go were my 8″ skinny jeans in Lakeshore wash. At the time, I thought there was nothing quite putting on your pants for work and realizing they’d worn through in the rear — with no idea when that happened. I was wrong. A few weeks later, my black 10″ skinny jeans (purchased several months after the Lakeshore pair) split down the inner thigh. Even better, it was Monday morning as I was en route to a special trip for work. Awesome.

After the first pair, I figured it was a fluke. After the second pair died in a different, yet spectacularly embarrassing way, I checked my third pair. The fabric in the seat is discolored and thinned; time’s ticking before it also wears through. Now, I get that all items wear out. That said, the oldest pair was about six months old. I don’t know about you, but I expect my jeans, of all items, to last longer than that. As an example, my beloved demi-curve Levis wore out after five years.

Now, before any denim experts start in, I don’t over-wash my jeans or put them in the dryer. I addition to losing ground on my intentional wardrobe, I’m now desperately seeking at least one replacement pair, preferably 99% cotton or higher. I’ve ordered a few pairs and have my fingers crossed for a winner or two. Otherwise, I’ll be out of pants in about a month. Yikes.

To be fair, Madewell’s customer service has been excellent, offering to refund my full purchase price both times. However, I’d rather have jeans I don’t need to replace every few months. I believe the wear might be mitigated if Madewell decided to offer a fit cut more generously through the hips, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Black and grey/gray Eddie Bauer Women's Flightplan II Cardigan Sweater rear/back view.
Thankfully, this Eddie Bauer has been a pleasant surprise.

The Good News

To leave you on a more positive note, I’d like to also note items which have pleasantly surprised me, items which have exceeded my expectations.

Strong Recommendation: Eddie Bauer Flightplan Cardigan Sweater

I wear this sweater at least once a week. It’s chilly in my office, so this sweater keeps me warm but not too warm when layered over a cotton tee and jeans. Remember, my workplace is rather casual. The fabric has held up well and (knock on wood) hasn’t gotten fuzzy.

Which items have been your greatest disappointments or unexpected favorites? Have a denim recommendation of your own? Let me know in the comments below.

 

It’s better to be right eventually than wrong forever.

-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