(this morning…I got up to get breakfast and she stole my spot on the couch. She’s always doing that!)
On the AMA post, you guys asked some REALLY good questions. Of course 🙂 I’m going to answer some of them here, the “easier” ones, and the ones that I think I can address without dedicated posts. But three questions specifically deserve separate posts: Michelle & Charlene’s about not having children, and Dacy’s about my daily routine, which I’m going to integrate into a diet/exercise post since that’s a question that comes up on instagram, interestingly.
The issue/question of not having children is a BIG one, and a tough one to answer/address, honestly, but I think it’s time I write more about it. As an “older” married woman with no children, I long to have other women without children to relate to, and know I would appreciate hearing about other women’s experiences, so I am happy to take the first step. It’s such a taboo topic, and one that women are really afraid to speak honestly about (including me), but an important one, so it deserves to be discussed without fear or judgement. More later, I promise!
Do you listen to music or podcasts or anything when you walk Dagny?
- short answer: no. longer answer: I’ve never listened to music when I’m outside walking, except when I was training for a half marathon about 10 years ago – some music is necessary to get you through 13 mile runs. When I’m outside, I like to BE OUTSIDE. And I am always listening/watching for birds, wildlife, people, etc. and wouldn’t want to miss anything I can’t hear. I also want to be aware of my surroundings and be prepared for anything that might happen. Honestly it’s pretty easy for me to not listen to music though, because it’s not my favorite thing. I like it when I do listen to the limited things I actually like (no “popular” music that was made after 1990 LOL, and any classical music), but my default at home and in the car is NPR rather than music.
Christine M asked:
- My first jobs were teaching pre-school, I started working in a local daycare center and worked my way up to head teacher at a prestigious pre-school, which is what I was doing while going to graduate school at Georgia State University.
- In 1998, I started seeking out other work, something closer aligned with my degree of choice: political science/international political economics, and got a job as an administrative assistant at the Israeli Economic Mission in Atlanta, which was basically working for the Israeli government helping Israeli companies do business in the Southeastern US and vice versa.
- I worked up to the Director of Business Development at the Economic Mission, and by the time I quit I was running the SE office and working with a bi-national research & development foundation providing project and investment advice.
- by 2004 the work wasn’t necessarily exciting anymore, and my work environment was less than stimulating, and I started spending my spare time on message boards, specifically Makeup Alley, and getting more interested in fashion/clothing/style and shopping online.
- Specifically what happened was that I was trying to find an Ella Moss dress that Carrie wore in an episode of Sex and the City and was frustrated at every turn; I thought there should be a better way to search by designers and find all the places online that sold that designer, so I created a database: a designer directory, and built Grechen’s Closet around it. And the rest is history 😉
- From 2004 to 2006 I worked on building up Grechen’s Closet and adding to it, posting outfit pictures, and more, while I continued working full-time. I didn’t start out with an idea that I could make money from this, I just loved it and wanted to do it, so I did. Around 2005 I started to get inquiries for advertising, and working with affiliate companies, and started to making a little money, and then more money, so that I saw that I could quit my job at the Economic mission and work on Grechen’s Closet full time.
- In 2005 I went through a rather unexpected divorce, which was scary, while also trying to start my own business, but I pushed through and decided to go it on my own anyway, focusing only on Grechen’s Closet and started full-time blogging in 2006. Which is what I’ve done since then. For a year or so in there I did work at Starbucks for health insurance until I could afford to buy it on my own, but other than that, I’ve done nothing else since 2006.
- So yeah, a complete lark !! you never know what turns your life will take…
I would like you to address/advice how older women (e.g. 65+) who are youthful but – let’s face it – much older than you are – might take your style philosophy and make it work.
And Lauren followed up with : And for your younger readers, how to begin on this path. Especially if you work in a more conservative field (I work in healthcare). Also, any advice for your taller readers.
- These are really hard questions because 1. I’m not sure what my style philosophy is, and 2. I don’t consider myself a style expert. I’m certainly not very good at telling anyone else how to dress themselves, or what to wear.
- I also have never been an advocate for “dressing your age” whatever that is. You should wear what you feel comfortable in, whatever that is, and however that looks. Comfort means different things to different people, and for some comfortable is what is conventionally flattering, or age appropriate, and for others it’s singularly expressive.
- I should have included these in the questions to be answered later, in a more detailed post. At the very least, I think my “style philosophy” deserves some fleshing out; I should be able to pin that down. So, more later!
How/when did you become interested in fashion, but especially more minimal styles?
- good question – and funny answer: I was not really very interested in fashion at all until my father and sister moved to Dallas in the mid-90’s. My aunt lived here also at the time and was quite the high-end shopper (Neiman Marcus) and that rubbed off on my sister, and then on me.
- Incidentally, both of my parents are very brand and quality-conscious shoppers. Growing up with my mother we always shopped Loehman’s, TJ MAXX etc., but for specific brands; she was extremely loyal to Liz Claiborne petites. And my father has a pair of Gucci loafers and Versace jeans that are at least a decade old and still going strong. In high school I didn’t have a lot of clothes; I rotated two pairs of Guess jeans (tapered with zippers at the ankles) and some Esprit shirts. So my parents are where my undying brand loyalty comes from…
- In the mid-90’s I started shopping a lot at Armani Exchange (haha!), then bought Theory for work, then discovered Robert Clergerie shoes on a business trip and never looked back.
- I’ve always had quite a “clean,” simple, easy style. I’m not sure I’d even classify my style now as minimal. Whatever that is…I’m not really sure HOW I would classify my style, honestly, since it changes every day. What does remain constant is the color palette, which is black/white/gray 😉
Mamavalveeta03 asked a LOT OF QUESTIONS 🙂
I know you have moved a lot, I’m assuming because of Leo’s job, but as one who has also moved a lot (due to Bill’s job!) how do get yourself integrated into a community? Make friends? Even though I’m an extrovert, it’s not easy. In some ways, it gets harder every time.
What’s the most you’ve ever spent for an item of clothing, shoes, or handbags? And how did you decide that the purchase was worth it?
What is your all-time favorite piece of clothing? (I think I might know…) shoes? handbag?
- Moving/integrating into a community: I haven’t done a very good job of that AT All here in DFW. When we first moved to Texas (Austin) in 2010 I jumped right in and actually created my own community by starting a “fashion bloggers who lunch” group so I could meet people and learn more about the city; after a year or so I truly felt completely integrated in the fashion community in Austin – I knew many people and they knew me. Then when we moved to DFW in 2013 I didn’t make any effort to integrate at all. It’s SO HARD anyway, especially not having kids, and not being religious, but we also moved to the suburbs, where I didn’t (don’t) feel entirely comfortable, and my beloved Ozzie died shortly after we moved. I wasn’t feeling it. I still feel quite out of place here, like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m lucky that my closest friend from Austin actually moved up here a couple of years ago for work, and I’m friends with a long-time reader and her husband here, but I haven’t made other friends outside of that. Making/keeping friends isn’t my strong suit either…I’m not very good at nurturing friendships to be honest. I’m working on that, and hopefully getting better at it, but I’ve left a wake of ex-friends everywhere I’ve gone. Sadly.
- The most I’ve ever spent is $1495 on a Chloe bag about 10 years ago. I really didn’t even think about if the purchase was worth it, because I used a credit card, which I didn’t consider “real money,” first of all, and back then I just didn’t think in those terms. I just wanted it, so I bought it. I also bought another $1000+ Marc Jacobs bag around the same time, and afterwards vowed that I’d never spend that much on a bag again. Needless to say, I have neither of those bags.
- My all time favorite piece of clothing?? that is IMPOSSIBLE to answer. I’d love to know what you think it is! It would have to be something by James Perse, but I’m not sure what. All of them?
I would like to know some of your favorite style bloggers who are 40+ or have a minimal style.
- Excellent question, but the general answer is that I don’t read other bloggers. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou, or whatever, I just learned many years ago, when I tried to read ALL THE FASHION BLOGGERS that I would too easily get sucked into the comparison and jealousy trap, so I quit reading blogs cold turkey. Over the years, I’ve added some back in, and now I only read blogs that are engaging and that I feel some connection to, ask good questions, talk about real life, and do it for the same reasons I do: because they truly love it, not just to make money. I don’t specifically read any other “minimal” style blogs because they’re minimal, per se, in fact only two blogs below are “minimal,” and they’re not over 40….
- Blogs I read regularly (every day):
- I do feel like this is a good “quest” though, and will try to seek out other minimal 40+ bloggers to take a look at. Does anyone out there have any to suggest? I do follow some on instagram, like Deborah from Stylish Murmurs, and have found that a better resource/inspiration sometimes.
For myself, I’m interested in a James Perse dress. I love how you style them and would like to incorporate some of that, however, I don’t know what to wear underneath? I know you’ve talked about this a little (maybe a lot?) previously, but can we get the nitty gritty? I worry that my ‘bits’ might be a little too ‘mobile’ in some of the bodycon styles but I also really like them…
- I love this question! I have talked about it before, to a certain extent, maybe not each time I wear a JP outfit, but I almost ALWAYS wear a “girdle.” My favorites are by Wacoal, and mine are very old so I can’t point to a specific current style, but I prefer Wacoal because of the lower rise and better fit; I’ve always found Spanx much more uncomfortable. I always wear a mid-thigh shaper under all my James Perse dresses. I do this because I just find the whole outfit infinitely more comfortable that way. As for the nitty gritty, here it is: I have a VERY bumpy lower body LOL. After so many weight fluctuations, and because of my body type, I have “extra” skin at my hips and saddlebags, and it’s weird, it’s flabby, like you could grab it with your fists and yank it off (I wish). Because of this, almost no underwear works well for me under dresses/skirts other than spanx because nothing stays put (under jeans that fit at my hips, I can wear nearly anything). With skirts/dresses bikinis, thongs, even high rise panties shift around and become bunched up either above or below those “bits.” Obviously, I also find that the “girdle” holds everything in like I like it (makes everything less “mobile” as Dawn put it, which is a very good way to describe it!) and evens out the bumps a little bit. You can still see them, because I don’t wear my girdles extremely restrictive, not so I can’t breathe, but the “bumps” are minimized and more pleasing to my eye.
- I also wear spanx, or spanx-type garments under other dresses that aren’t body con, but that may require a slip. Also since my thighs still rub together, I find wearing spanx less abrasive…
- I’ve been wearing girdles since I started wearing James Perse 10 years ago, and I recommend trying them out. I have always found spanx to be way too tight and restrictive, which is why I prefer Wacoal, but there are so many brands out there, you have to try them in person, then buy multiples when you find one you love. Nordstrom is a good place to shop for shapewear in person.
I’d love to know more about how you plan your posts. Do you always start the week with at least a couple of ideas that you know you want to write about, or do you plunge right in and see what happens? Regardless, it must take discipline to keep going and also stay fresh, relevant, and conversational. I’m impressed!
- Boring answer, but I don’t plan posts. I never have. As you say, I just plunge right in and see what happens! I have tried over the years, to keep an editorial calendar and posts in the “works” for moments I’m not inspired, but that never works. I guess I still blog like I’m just doing it for fun (which, even though it is my “career”, I still only do it because I want to (have to) and because I can’t NOT do it. So every morning, I get up and write, about something, anything that catches my eye. So far, I’ve not skipped many days, or felt completely uninspired to write. I always manage to find something to say.
- In the past I thought if I wanted to be a “real” professional blogger I needed to plan posts, and always have something ready to publish, but I’ve learned better than that lately. I thought if I wanted to be a “big” blogger I needed to have an editorial calendar, do sponsored posts, and accept more free stuff. Maybe that’s true, actually, because I’m not a “big” blogger by any means. I am happily mid-tier 🙂 and wouldn’t have it any other way.
- I know this will sound trite, but other than getting up in the morning and sitting down at the computer, I don’t have any other discipline, and I don’t find it difficult to do what I do. I write about what I want to write about, when I want to write about it. Maybe I’m lucky that I keep wanting to write about things that you guys find relevant and interesting, but even if you didn’t, I’d still write about them LOL. I just have to. That’s the only way I can describe why/how I do this. I just have to.
One of the things I admire most about your style is its cohesiveness. It seems to have really come together when you started wearing James Perse. Or at least it seems like this brand’s aesthetic became a foundation for your style at some point. (Am I correct in assuming that?) So I guess my question is, how did you discover James Perse designs, and how did you know that the JP “look” was for you? Did you intentionally decide to focus on this brand, or did you just happen to keep finding pieces that you liked from the line?
- I did not start becoming intentional about my style/shopping until just a few years ago and I’ve been wearing James Perse for 10 years (my oldest piece is 10 years old – a cami dress). I honestly just stumbled into it. At first, I appreciated James Perse’s very basic, but still interesting styles, fit, and that most pieces were made in the US. Back when I started wearing James Perse, I was a size 12-14 and wore a size 4 in James Perse. I still have almost all of my JP pieces from over the years, but many of the older ones are relegated to home wear or layering.
- You are definitely correct in assuming that James Perse’s aesthetic became a foundation for my style – and nearly everything else flows from that. JP pieces are excellent foundations, and “starting points” anyway, since you can build easily on a slim skirt, fitted dress, or t-shirt.
- I’ve thought a lot about what makes James Perse my favorite designer, and without a doubt it starts with fit. Even when I was heavier, I appreciated the way James Perse fit my body (short legs, short waist, short arms). JP t-shirts are never too long on me, the dresses never too long; at this point, I can assume that most anything JP will fit me well, if the sizing is correct.
And to answer later:
Also I’m intrigued by the fact that you don’t have children as you have mentioned. I’m in the same boat and might want to keep it that way. I wonder how do you feel about not having children or any thoughts you have about that?
And Charlene followed up with:
Specifically, am curious about what friendships look like with other women as we get get older
what’s your daily routine and how did you develop it? What keeps you tied to it? Basically, how do you stick to things/schedules when it’s all self determined and no one is waiting on you to meet a deadline
What type(s) of job(s) did you do before blogging full time? Was throwing yourself into this a logical extension of the kind of work you’d been doing previously, or was it a complete lark?