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

Stay Cozy Casual with a Classic

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

Cozy Casual Outfit

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

Classic Cable Pullover Sweater

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

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

Madewell Denim

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

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

Chelsea Leather Boots

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

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

 Personal Note

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

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

Blue Nile

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

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

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

May your toes stay warm this winter!

-Casey

 

(Net)Work It with these Networking Tips

Go networking casual with this Nordstrom BP piped blazer with Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
Black and denim is my default aesthetic for a reason. Here, I mixed it up with a blazer for a conference-casual look.

For a day-long women in tech conference, I opted for a classic look: a black blazer with dark jeans. In my experience, people at tech events will wear everything from jeans and a tee to full business professional attire. I like to stick to a middle ground, wearing some of my professional pieces while showing a little more personality. For networking, you need comfort and confidence, and I share some tips for getting yourself there at the end of this post.

Blazer

This blazer is a high quality find from Nordstrom’s B.P. brand. Although it’s a few years old, a classic look is always relevant. I love the addition of the white piping to add a little interest. The front pockets, although smaller, are real, and are well-suited for quickly stashing my phone or having business cards handy.

The cropped fit means that this blazer is also an excellent option to add a little definition (and warmth) to wear a summery dress in the slightly cooler days. I also like how a white shirt can make the piping pop, but for a professional event, I opted for a higher neckline and don’t have one in white yet.

Top

This black top from Banana Republic serves as a professional base layer in this outfit, but it’s an all-around staple piece, so you’ll see me wearing it again! Here, I have it tucked in (so as not to hang out below the blazer), but it also looks great untucked. I’d link to it, but it was a purchase from fall 2014, and I never found it online. If I did, I’d buy a few more in all the staple colors. I’ll let you know if I find anything similar.

Perfect for a casual networking environment, this Nordstrom BP piped blazer hangs well over a Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
As you can see, this blazer has a cropped fit, which makes it better paired with higher waisted bottoms or a dress. This top also has great movement to it, and I would buy it in many more colors if I could.

Jeans

You’ve seen these Madewell 8″ skinny jeans in Quincy wash before, as they are my current default pair. While I had previously rolled the cuff, this time I tucked the cuff on the inside to keep the dark line (okay, so slightly broken by my very fair skin in these photos).

Boots

Depending on the size and format of your conference, you may be standing on your feet all day or even walking miles around the location. These INC International Concepts boots look classic from the front, with smooth black leather, and a short stacked heel. I like the 1.5″ height as an everyday shoe.  Not shown: the metallic gold band above the stacked heel, which adds something special to an otherwise unobtrusive pair of shoes. See it here.

Side note: As in a typical shoe-buying experience, I saw these in Macy’s, liked the look, and tried on a pair. I walked around the (carpeted) shoe department, did a little dance, and decided to buy them. However, when I wore them out, I discovered that they were loud. The heels made the classic high-heel noise on any sort of hard surface, but it was magnified to the point where I became self-conscious wearing them. Thankfully, when I had the heels resoled, they became much quieter. They still make that classic heel clack walking down the street but at a much more reasonable volume. Lesson learned: take a three second spin on a harder floor material before checking out!

Accessories

I finished off the look with my classic pearl studs (read my recommendation for a dupe) to complement the white piping. This black leather belt with gold buckle coordinated with the gold heel on the boots. (When belt shopping, remember that your “waist” size according to your pants doesn’t directly correlate to how long you’ll want your belt to be. My belts vary several inches between those I wear at my true waist and those I wear in my lower to mid rise pants.)

Additionally, I usually wear a watch (or a Fitbit) to these events, but I forgot this time. I can’t tell you how many times I glanced down at a bare wrist!

Networking doesn't have to blow you off course with this Nordstrom BP piped blazer with Banana Republic black shell, Madewell skinny jeans, and Ralph Lauren black and gold leather belt.
It’s easy to feel a little frazzled at networking events, especially when you enter a huge room full of people. If step 1 is a great outfit, step 2 is a game plan.

Networking

One of the reasons I began blogging was that I believe the right clothing can help you feel a little more comfortable in your own skin. However, there does come a point when you need a little more help than a great outfit can provide. Networking events are certainly one of those cases for me.

At conferences, I am regularly reminded that I can be introverted when faced with large numbers of unfamiliar faces. This is different from shyness, as it mostly manifests in how exhaustion. After hours (or even days) of meeting new people, I feel drained and need some alone time.

One of the biggest things I do to combat this people-fatigue is to hit the networking first, while I’m still fresh. If the schedule allows, I’ll make my rounds before going to the talks. In my experience, it’s better to feel drained while sitting and listening to a talk than when trying to make intelligent conversation with an important connection or potential employer! That said, conferences are usually very loud, so if you zone out for a moment (it happens!), asking someone to repeat themselves is perfectly normal.

I also recommend taking a moment for a deep breath before entering the room. Remind yourself that you’ve got this. Shake hands, introduce yourself, and make eye contact.

If you’re currently talking and notice someone nearby attempting to enter your little circle, try this easy trick. First, reintroduce yourself (and everyone else if you’re sure you remember their names). Then, briefly recap the conversation. This can be a welcoming way to bring in other people and give off a more confident vibe. (On the flip side, we’ve all been there, outside a conversation, waiting for the right moment to jump in!) It only takes a few seconds, but can make you look good, make someone else feel more comfortable, and briefly take the pressure off you. A win-win-win! Try it out: “Hi, I’m Casey, and this is Laura and Alex. We were just talking about how great the keynote was this morning. What did you think about her conclusion?”

Do you also get exhausted after being “on” at these types of events? What are your best tips for networking events? Share your stories and tips in the comments!

You’re amazing. They just don’t know it yet.

-Casey