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

Thinking Thankful Thoughts After Thanksgiving

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with blush leather lace-up heeled sandals, a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch.
It was warm and sunny in Southern California for Thanksgiving with family and friends, perfect for pulling out these two pieces.

When you think about it, the combination of Thanksgiving and the following (now overlapping) shopping days is more than a little contradictory. We spend a day thinking about everything we are thankful for and then participate in rampant acts of consumerism. I say we because I also took advantage of the sales to pick up some things I’ve had my eye on. (Spoiler alert: I think all the things I ordered are black tops. Oh, well.)

In the spirit of extending the critical period of thankfulness, I’m going to talk a little about Thanksgiving as everyone else has moved onto Christmas trees.

I’m thankful for things that work out.

We ended up booking last-minute flights to Southern California to join my family for Thanksgiving day. Long story short, our original flight was overbooked. However, if you saw my Instagram post, you also know that we ended up being upgraded to first class. Thanks, Delta! I can now say that I have successfully eaten soup while experiencing turbulence.

I’m thankful for family and friends.

Miraculously, we managed to pull off surprising my dad! Let’s just say that there were several seconds of stunned staring after he opened the door, followed by hugs all around.

On the big day, the house filled up with people, some of whom have been fixtures at the annual event for as long as I can remember. The kids gleefully frolicked in buckets of Legos, and the adults had a good-natured competition between two similar side dishes. I certainly wasn’t complaining about duplicates of sweet potatoes and stuffing, some of my favorites.

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with blush leather lace-up heeled sandals, a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch.
I ate a lot of pie, but you’d never know with this great dress.

The weather was warm and sunny, so this comfortable, swingy Socialite dress from Nordstrom  was great for the eating marathon. My mom made me a special dairy-free version of her apple pie, which was fantastic. (I think I ate at least 50% of that pie by myself. No regrets.) I was also happy to have an occasion to pull out these Hinge ‘Drea’ sandals again.

I’m thankful for safe travels.

There are so many things I could list specifically, but most of all, I’m glad for this trip. I’m glad to have traveled safely, seen people (and pets) I care about, and had the means to do so. It’s so important to realize every day what privileges we have in this world. I have people who love me and a roof over my head, for starters.

I’m thankful for my homes.

My childhood home will always be home to me, but I’m also grateful for my new home here in Seattle. I have a warm and welcoming place with a person I love, and I’m excited to start new traditions together.

Casey of Dressed to Code pairs a swingy black t-shirt dress with a gold and green pendent necklace, and a silver Apple watch for a casual warm-weather Thanksgiving outfit.
This necklace is a costume piece from my great-grandmother, so it was a way to incorporate a little bit of family into my outfit.

Moving forward in the holiday season, I’m aiming to continue the spirit of Thanksgiving. I want to stop and appreciate what I have and who I love. After all, thankfulness, togetherness, and joyfulness comprise the essence of holiday magic.

What are you thankful for every day?

“It’s not enough to love if you don’t also appreciate.”

-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