Packing for an academic conference

carry_on_bagsEverlane weekender bag / ModCloth tote

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to an out-of-state academic conference. I don’t go to out-of-state conferences very often; in fact, I had only been to two since starting grad school before this one (two years at the same conference in the same location plus one year as an undergrad). When it comes to packing for conferences, I will admit that I’m not a pro. I always second-guess what I choose to pack, especially because I have always needed an outfit to present in. However, Earth science-related academic conferences see a wide range of fashion–everything from suits and ties to parkas, worn-in jeans, and sandals (of course, sometimes with socks…haha)–so this lessens the burden of packing the “perfect” outfits a little bit.

This time around, I packed only 16 everyday pieces (not including a t-shirt & leggings to sleep in, sweatpants, and workout gear). That may seem like a lot, but it includes two tops, two tees, two sweaters, a sweatshirt, a coat, a pair of jeans, a dress, two pairs of shoes, tights, jewelry, and my tote. I noticed that when I pack for trips, I tend to pack layers, and this trip was no different. It’s so easy to mix-and-match when you have a couple of tops, a couple of cardigans or light jackets, and everything goes together. When luggage space is limited, it’s the best way to go.

During my trip, I discovered a cool feature of the Stylebook app. (You may remember that at the beginning of September, I posted my current closet inventory and also noted how I had been using the Stylebook app. I love it!) Besides having a photographic inventory of your closet and outfits, you can also create packing lists! Brilliant, right? I always intend to make an actual list that I check off as I pack and then repack to come home, but it never happens; I rely far too much on my memory, which has been known to fail me one too many times (I forgot to repack my pair of sunglasses on this trip, ha).

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After you create and name your packing list, you’ll see a page like this one above. What’s great about the packing list is that you can either add items by adding the items individually and then the looks that incorporate them, or you can do what I did and add the looks first and it will automatically populate your packing list with the clothing in your looks! How cool, right?! I didn’t make my Stylebook packing list until the end of my trip, but I was thoughtful enough when packing that I already knew my outfits ahead of time. (I actually put all of the looks together in Stylebook while on the plane to the conference!) In the notes section, I wrote down where I was headed/what I was doing and the weather to expect.

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Here are all of the items I brought with me! I stuck to a relatively cohesive color palette of burgundy, grey, and black, but I added in my cobalt dress for one of my poster presentations; my cropped navy sweater over that dress has become a go-to for academic conferences. My trench coat is the only coat I brought (thank goodness the weather cooperated!), and my tote was one of my carry-on items on the plane. I stuffed it full with my laptop, notebooks, poster (it was fabric!), my liquids bag, and a container full of cookies! The rest of the items were either worn on the plane or fit into my Everlane weekender bag, as seen in the top photo.

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Here are the outfits I wore! I was there for four full days (three days actually spent at the conference), which are the top outfits. The bottom two outfits were worn on the travel days with my yoga pants and sneakers. As far as dressing for conferences goes, I pretty much wear what I would normally wear on a daily basis. I actually felt slightly overdressed at my conference! If you’re looking to feel put-together, I highly recommend dark-wash jeans, simple blouses, and a nice cardigan. Even my sweatshirt felt nice enough for a conference setting. If I’m presenting, I like to go the extra mile and wear a dress with heels, though it definitely wasn’t necessary at this conference. Be sure to pack pieces that mix-and-match (sticking to a cohesive color palette helps a LOT) and you’ll be set! :) (Below is one of my looks in action–post-conference, of course!)

IMG_7667Helmut Lang sweatshirt / LOFT top (sold out) / Madewell jeans / Sam Edelman boots / Ignatius ;)

Oversized everything

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When I’m having a hard time thinking of an outfit to wear and I don’t want to wear an outfit I’ve already worn, I turn to Pinterest for inspiration. (Feel free to follow me!) On this particular morning, I was drawn to the loose jean and ankle boot combination in this pin. While I would have loved to recreate it with a chunky grey knit sweater, I decided for the next best option: a chunky grey knit cardigan. You know me and how much I love wearing outfits which are really just socially acceptable pajamas. I actually ended up not changing before going to an evening workshop for school, and I felt severely underdressed when I walked into the ritzy hotel the conference was held at. At least I was in good company with my fellow Earth scientists. ;)

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ModCloth cardigan (similar from Missguided; last seen here) and earrings (old; similar) / Everlane tee / Gap Factory jeans (similar from Gap) / & Other Stories boots (similar in black; last seen here)

Caturday: Feline family

Happy Caturday! It has been a couple of months since I last blabbed about cats. I figured I’d mix things up today and feature some new feline faces: my parents’ cats, Ignatius, Stanislaus, and Aloysius. If you think those names seem a little rich for cats, it’s because all of their pets have saints’ names. I actually named Rosie after Saint Rose of Viterbo, the patron saint of Viterbo, Italy–the city I studied abroad in four summers ago! We aren’t strict Catholics (if you could even call me a Catholic anymore, ha!), but it’s a fun family tradition that my step mom started.


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Ignatius (nicknames: Iggy, Iggs, Piggy, Ignoish, Ignaysh)

My step mom has a thing for brown tabby cats. It all started with her first cat, a brown tabby she named Augie. Iggy is the third brown tabby we’ve had in our family. He’s a feisty boy that loves to hunt, go on car rides, and be close to my dad in any way possible. My dad is his favorite person, probably because he isn’t much of a cat person–they’re always drawn to those people, aren’t they?! You can often find him napping on top of my dad’s convertible. (I’m pretty sure Iggy is why he got a cover for it!) Iggy is the heaviest of the three cats and is currently working on getting down to a healthier weight. Surprisingly, he’s the one most likely to walk away from his food and have it snatched up by one of his brothers! He was best friends with our dog Lucy and even guided her around the house when she went blind. How sweet is that?! Even though he can be temperamental sometimes, he is a gem of a cat. The whole neighborhood knows him and adores him, and we are lucky to have him in our family!

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Stanislaus (nicknames: Stanley, Stan, Stinky Stanley, Stink)

Stanley was adopted from the humane society shortly before I adopted Rosie. He had come into the shelter as a stray with a severely broken front leg; it was apparently dangling, and instead of amputating it, they decided to stick in a metal rod to straighten it out. The $50 adoption fee turned out to be a steal considering his care cost upwards of $6,000! Stan had a limp for quite some time, but now you can’t even tell his leg was ever broken. Stan is the only lap cat out of the three, and when he gets really into cuddle time, sometimes the claws come out as he lays his paw on you. His favorite toys are jingle bells, so Christmas is likely his favorite time of year! He’s a very smart cat and is on a mission to get to any and all cat food. He’ll bite through bags (then knock them over so food spills everywhere) and chew on the plastic containers my parents had to buy to keep him out of the food. Regardless of his antics, he is a very sweet family member!

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Aloysius (nicknames: Al, Big Al, Biggie, Big Stan, Bignatius)

The most recent addition to the family, Biggie is known as Stan’s twin since they have the same coloring as well as the little spot by their nose. My family saw him at Petco and thought for a moment that my dad had surrendered Stan to the humane society! (We know he secretly loves the cats.) My step mom received him for her birthday last year, and as you can probably imagine, they have a full house now! He immediately got along with Iggy and Stan. Biggie is such a sweet cat; he doesn’t sit on your lap, but he will curl up nearby…and his purrs could probably register on the Richter scale. They’re pretty intense, haha. He got the nickname Biggie because he’s a large/tall cat like Rosie (and he’s bigger than Stan). His happy place is sprawling out in the middle of the floor on his back. He loves going outside, but he also enjoys not staying outside for long if it’s cold; he’ll go out the front door and be ready to come in the back door only a couple of minutes later!

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The credit for the last photo of each cat goes to my step mom. (Thank you!)

February budget

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  1. Madewell Dress (sold out): $49 (originally $150; used PayPal money)
  2. Everlane Sweatshirt: $15 (originally $40; used $25 credit and PayPal money)
  3. Everlane Tee: $15
  4. Elegantees Top: $0 (gift)
  5. Penfield Shirt (via Madewell): $49 (originally $80)
  6. Madewell Jeans: $60 (originally $115)

February Total = $124

$566 ($500 quarterly budget + $66 carried over) – $296 (December) – $233 (January) – $124 (February) = -$87

Welp, it’s that time again! I’m shocked at how much I can spend in such a short month. (Well, okay, maybe I’m not that shocked…) Even with some extra money in the budget, I still went over for the quarter. Boo. I was hoping to sell more on eBay than I did. That means I’ll be starting next quarter’s budget with $413 instead of $500. I’m slightly concerned about it because my spring wish list seems like it has been growing exponentially the past few weeks, and then LOFT had to have another flash sale last night…

Anyway, I got some great items this month. I stopped in Madewell on January 31st to try on a bunch of the new arrivals and spotted the silk dress in the sale section. I’m so glad I decided to try it on because it fit amazingly (it fit the best out of everything I tried!), and it was a steal at $49 after tax. Over Presidents’ Day weekend, Madewell ran a 30% off sale promo and I snatched the skinny skinny jeans in boulder wash (they didn’t have my size in stock in store when I stopped in store). I purchased two sizes since reviews were mixed. I think I’ll end up with the larger of the two sizes, but I need to wear them a bit more before making a final decision. I love the dark grey wash! The morning after the promo went live, I checked the sale again and, to my surprise, the Penfield flannel shirt I’ve loved since OCTOBER finally got marked down! I snatched it up in two sizes since reviews were also mixed, and I’m keeping the larger of the two sizes. I wasn’t able to try on both sizes when it was in stores, and I’m so grateful that my order shipped because the size I’m keeping sold out an hour after I placed my order. The shirt completely sold out after I grabbed the link for this post, but check for pop-backs; it was not a final sale item when I placed my order. I adore this flannel shirt and hope to get a few days of wear out of it before it’s too warm.

Earlier this month, Everlane released their marled sweatshirts, which are now available for women and men. I held off on ordering one because I planned on ordering a striped tee with it when those came out, but I was disappointed with the striped tee…and by the time the tee was released, the sweatshirt had sold out. When it came back in stock a few days later, I pounced, and also purchased the box tee since I’ve heard good things about it. The box tee fits similarly to Madewell’s crop tee, which I own and love. I absolutely ADORE the sweatshirt! I’m planning on also purchasing the grey marled sweatshirt since I know both will get tons of wear. As far as sizing goes, I decided on a small in the sweatshirt because of the sleeve length (I have long arms). It fits comfortably loose in the torso. I got an extra small in the tee, which fits slightly loose and I expect it to shrink just a bit once it’s washed.

Lastly, for Valentine’s Day, Chris gifted me the Elegantees ‘Chelsea’ top. It was designed in collaboration with one of my favorite bloggers, Chelsea of Zipped, and it’s available in black and royal purple. (It was also available in grey but sadly is now sold out!) I love this top because it has a loose peplum and super girly silhouette. I can’t wait to style it this spring. :) Plus, Elegantees is a wonderful company that restores women affected by sex trafficking by giving them a safe space and teaching them to make the garments sold by Elegantees (they are currently made in Nepal). I received a coupon code in my order for 10% off a future order. If you’re interested, the code is SAVE10! Let me know if you decided to make a purchase!

Looking ahead to March, I’ve definitely got spring on my mind. I’m on the lookout for light wash denim, white denim, chino shorts, and pretty sandals, just to name a few! I’m excited to start working on my spring/summer wardrobe again. I’m feeling like my color palette will weigh heavily on light blue, navy, white, blush pink (I hope!), and grey…with maybe some olive green and red/burgundy. I can’t wait to see how it comes together!

Linking up with Franish & my fellow budgeting bloggers

Textural

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I had a totally different outfit in mind when I woke up yesterday morning, but after throwing everything on, I hated it. It’s always a bummer when an outfit I had in mind doesn’t end up working out. It took me entirely too long to put a different outfit together. Thankfully, I remembered this one–another one I had thought up and saved in my list of outfit ideas. And, thankfully, this one worked out! Even though we were in a high wind warning in the morning, I still went with the dress (yep, it’s a dress under that sweater!), assuming that the wind would die down after the warning expired. Did it? No. Of course not. Downslope winds are a breed all their own and I’m sure more than one person saw my dress fly up in the wind. Thank goodness for thick, fleece-lined tights (the BEST).

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Chelsea28 sweater via Nordstrom (last seen here) / Uniqlo shirt (long-sleeved version; last seen here) / Target dress (old; similar) / LeGale tights via Nordstrom Rack / Sam Edelman boots (exact) / Anthropologie sunglasses

My Ankle Boot Army

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much I love my ankle boots! They are my favorite shoe to wear during the fall, winter, and spring months. (Unfortunately, it’s too warm here in the summer to wear them comfortably!) I figured it was high time to do a post featuring my army of ankle boots, why I love them, and some outfits I’ve worn including them.

modcloth_laced_bootsModCloth ‘Expert Spokesperson’ Laced Booties by Chelsea Crew

Back when I ordered all the things from ModCloth, I ordered these boots. I had a coupon, and at the time, that meant I could not let it go to waste. I’d say they aren’t my normal style, and I can’t really pinpoint why I adore them so much…I just do! Maybe I like them because they are so different. Them being different does come with some challenges, though. I have a harder time styling these shoes, but I love when I come up with new outfits featuring them. They tend to make me look shorter since they stop just above my ankle bone. However, I think it’s the oxford style that really speaks to me, and the wing-tip adds something extra. I hope to style them more this spring and try something new since I tend to wear them with cuffed jeans. Thank goodness for all of the style inspiration on Pinterest!

Outfits: with high-rise jeans, with a Peter Pan collar & skirt
{similar style}

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ModCloth ‘Strut the Strut’ Heeled Booties

I love these adorable booties! Aren’t they cute?! They are so girly, but because they are grey, they go perfectly with my wardrobe and add some flair to whatever outfit in which I include them. I can tell they aren’t the best quality, but they weren’t very expensive at less than $50. I’ve owned them for over a year, though, and they are still holding up well after light use. I love wearing these with dresses and skirts the most. These did have the highest heels in my closet until I purchased my most recent pair of ankle boots, but I find these easy to walk in. Because they have a faux suede exterior, I don’t wear them when there is precipitation falling to avoid staining them. I’m glad I bought these to spice up my shoe wardrobe. I find myself buying very basic, highly versatile pieces nowadays and I think it’s necessary to add a fun piece every once in a while if it makes you happy!

Outfits: with a striped dress, with polka dot jeans
{similar style in black, similar style in burgundy}

madewell_billie_bootMadewell ‘Billie’ Heeled Boots

My ankle boot obsession truly kicked off after I purchased these beauties. I had first heard of Madewell after I started blogging in the fall of 2013, and in December, I stopped in a store for the first time…and that was how I blew my budget before I even started budgeting (ha!). I remember drooling over these boots and wishing I had $228 to drop on them, and I remember walking out of the store behind a lady wearing them and feeling SO jealous of her. Three months later, these babies went on sale for a more modest $143, and I HAD to make them mine. They took a very large chunk out of my March budget, but it was so worth it. I adore these boots. I baby them, so they don’t get out as much as my black ankle boots, but I love wearing them when the weather is nice. The heel is surprisingly comfortable, and cognac is a beautiful neutral that looks great with everything, even black!

Outfits: with a trench coat, with earth tones, with a dress, with double denim
{on sale in size 11 or similar style from J.Crew}

samedelman_petty_bootsSam Edelman ‘Petty’ Heeled Boots

I received these boots as a birthday gift last year after wanting them for a couple of months, and let me tell you: I wear them ALL of the time. They are my go-to boots when I’m not sure what shoes to wear because they seem to go with nearly every outfit. (I wouldn’t wear them if it was below freezing outside because I always have my ankles exposed, but we haven’t really been below freezing that much this winter!) The leather is beautiful, and I haven’t had any problems with quality in the few months I’ve owned them. These replaced my original pair of black ankle boots (the Wanted brand boots I purchased from Delia’s two autumns ago, which I still own and wear to concerts since I don’t mind if they get a little beat up). At over $100 full price, these boots are on the upper end of what I’m generally comfortable with spending on one item with my grad student budget, but I can say that I 100% recommend these boots if you’ve had your eye on them.

Outfits: with a skirt, with a blanket scarf, with shorts
{available at Zappos or Nordstrom}

stories_ankle_boots& Other Stories High-Heeled Boots

My newest addition, these ankle boots were a love-at-first-sight situation. I had never heard of the brand until Taylor Swift started wearing their boots regularly last fall. Of course, I had to check out & Other Stories, assuming it was a high-end brand (though I love that T. Swift wears more affordable brands, too), and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the prices weren’t outrageous. It’s a little sister of H&M but the aesthetic is less fast-fashion trendy and more high-fashion with some abstract details thrown in for good measure. I snatched these beauties up on sale, and while I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the heel height, they aren’t as bad as I thought they would be even though I am still getting used to them (they are my highest heels!). The leather is gorgeous and supple. I’m glad I went with the dark red color because it’s different, yet goes with pretty much everything in my closet! I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on & Other Stories for future fun purchases.

Outfit: with a monochrome palette
{similar style in black}

Lack-of-snow day

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We still haven’t seen snow in over a month, though that could change this weekend (at the least, the temperatures are expected to drop back down to normal for this time of year–ha!). While I’ve been enjoying the way-above-average temps, I knew it couldn’t last forever, and I’m already dreading feeling cold again. (Cold is relative; I know to many of you in the Midwest and along the East Coast, 30s and 40s would feel balmy!) Want to know something crazy (but that totally makes sense)? According to this article, the U.S. has been having an above-average winter on average despite all of the cold happening east of the Rockies! You can thank all the crazy warm weather we’ve been having west of the Rockies for that. ;)

Here’s the outfit I planned after spotting this pin on Pinterest about a year or so ago. Simple and casual. That pretty much sums up my style, haha.

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J.Crew Factory sweater (old; similar; last seen here) / J.Crew pants / Sam Edelman boots (exact) / ModCloth scarf / Anthropologie sunglasses

Belted trench coat

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I think I missed the belt-all-the-things phase that happened in 2012 (was it 2012? 2011? I’m not even sure…I did not follow fashion at ALL back then except for mimicking what I saw my peers wearing). I’m quite glad that I did, actually, since I cringe looking back at those looks! Even though belting may be a little outdated now, I still like belting dresses every once in a while, and I’ve found a few belted looks that caught my eye–one of which I wore last month and one I’m planning on wearing as soon as the weather cooperates!

In addition, I’ve seen lots of outfits which include belted coats. At first, I didn’t understand why you would belt a coat with a regular pants belt, but then I fell in love with the look and had to give it a try myself. I think this look works best when you’re out and about but not planning on removing your coat (or even undoing the belt). Plus, belting coats doesn’t seem as outdated as belting dresses or tops (but what do I know, I don’t live in a “fashion capital”). Of course, I felt the need to match my shoes to my belt. Matching belts and shoes won’t ever look outdated…right?

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Ellen Tracy coat via Nordstrom (similar; similar long trench) / Madewell jeans, boots (on sale!), and scarf / J.Crew belt (on sale!) / Anthropologie sunglasses / Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in soft raspberry

Three ways to wear a blanket scarf

I know there are countless blog posts that suggest how one should wear a blanket scarf. I wasn’t planning on writing a post like this because of that, but I did get a request for a how-to after the first time I wore my blanket scarf…and now that I’ve worn it a couple more times, I thought I’d explain each way I’ve worn my blanket scarf. Two of the looks are pretty self-explanatory, and I did throw in a couple more resources in case you’re interested in more ways to wear a blanket scarf. So, let’s get to it!

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Scarf beard/bib/neck wrap: I like to call this a scarf beard, my boyfriend calls it a bib, and the only other way I thought to call it was a neck wrap; take your pick! This method is a little more involved than the other two methods, but it doesn’t take long to do–trust me. Start with a square scarf (if your scarf is rectangular, try to fold it into a square first). Fold it half diagonally so it becomes a triangle. Wrap each end around opposite sides of your neck so that the main point of the triangle is below your chin. Make sure each end is wrapped around your neck, and then take the ends and loosely tie them under the main point of the triangle so you can’t see them. Finish by fluffing and rearranging the scarf as necessary. It will look ridiculously giant, but own it! It will keep your neck so warm. You can also wear a modified scarf beard and leave the ends untied, as Joelle wore hers.

Draped over the shoulders: This method is only very slightly more difficult than the final method I’m sharing. I created this look by basically grabbing my scarf off of the floor, making sure I had it bunched in a way that it was long and skinny, and draped it over my shoulders. You can also think about it like this: Make a triangle out of a square scarf as you would above, but then “wring” it together to make a long scarf thing and drape it over your shoulders. If you want a neater look, just make nice, even folds, as Liz did with her blanket scarf.

Poncho: So easy, I hardly need to explain this to you. Create your triangle from your square scarf, then drape it so the main point of the triangle is against your back and the two ends are over your arms. This method kept me surprisingly warm, though I will admit that it’s awkward to wear a coat over a poncho scarf, so this method is probably best for the warmer winter days.

Let me know if you need any clarifications and I’ll try my best to explain more thoroughly! Other ways to wear a blanket scarf include belted and knotted. (I tend to tie regular scarves more “fancy”, such as with criss-crosses; blanket scarves seem to look best when you really embrace the blanket aspect of them and try not to manipulate/fold the scarf too much.) Stay warm, friends! :)

Original outfit posts: scarf beard / draped / poncho

Monochrome valentine

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Happy Valentine’s Day! This is a holiday I typically don’t go all-out for. It definitely had more appeal when I was younger (does anyone else miss exchanging Valentines with classmates?!), but it’s fun every once in a while to use it as an excuse to go out on a special date with a special someone (or someones…you know, friends and/or family!). This year, Chris and I decided to go to The Melting Pot for some cheese and chocolate fondue. YUM! We went out last night mostly because they didn’t have any reservations for tonight, but it ended up working out well; today was a relatively lazy day, though we did decide to soak up one of the final warm days before the cold arrives again next week by going for a hike. (And cleaning the house, because that needs to be done regularly!)

I showed a sneak peek of this outfit on Instagram a few days ago and ended up going with it! I’m all about the monochrome outfits lately but I have a hard time putting them together and liking them on myself. I previously wore an all black outfit, which I think is easier to pull off than other colors. What I really liked about this look was how the colors get darker from head to toe. I felt like a walking valentine all day yesterday and did not mind one bit. :)

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Everlane sweater (last seen here; my referral link) / Madewell pants / & Other Stories boots (similar in black) / Halogen bag / J.Crew earrings / Anthropologie sunglasses / Zoya nail polish / Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in soft raspberry