Sunday, September 30, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine, I'mmm Baaack!

I'll admit I might have to give up the Goodwill habit, but overall it's pretty harmless, and less expensive than smoking, gambling, or phone sex.

Plus, I'm editing my closet. I know, buying more items from Goodwill seems like maybe I don't understand the concept.

I really do understand the benefit of having fewer clothes so I can more easily get dressed in the morning. I'm buying the basics I need and love, to fit me now, and am moving lots of items out of my closets by swapping via my Swap Stuff (see tab above), passing on items to friends (in person or via mail), giving things to my daughters if they like them, or if all else fails, simply seeing what the local consignment shop will take, and then donating the rest to the Goodwill.

When I was there on Saturday, I actually dropped off an entire trunk load of items for donation before even entering the store. Oddly, that simple act of passing on items or clothing we aren't using made me feel lighter of spirit.

Now for some of the items I scored, all under $4, that you'll see on the blog (not washed or Dryel'd yet, so please 'scuse the wrinkles):

Loft skirt (finally got some polka dots, y'all!)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Paralegal Career Wear: Goodwill Goldmine Day 5

If we did have a strict dress code at work, and it did say no jeans, you could still make a good end run round it by wearing black faux croc pants. I bet the dress code writers haven't thought of prohibiting black faux croc pants yet. Well until now.

The Deets: Cache faux croc pants (Goodwill); MMD obi belt (Megan Mae); Tahari vee neck tee (old, likely Marshalls); Cropped cardigan (Loft Outlet clearance rack last year); Candies pumps (old, Kohls); Cuff bracelet (Jada's Jewels); Big hoop earrings (in a multi-hoop set from a clearance bin at Ross I think)

These pants are from Cache, where normal pants prices start at $98 and keep going up. It may be uncool to share this, but they cost $3.75 from our central Goodwill. They are incredibly comfortable, and made in a stretch fabric that looks like an embroidered croc hide. They made me happy to look at them all day long. I also felt sort of badass, which is an incredibly delicious feeling.

I tried to lighten things up a bit to show the cool texture on these Cache slacks.

These pants also have nice wide belt loops to accommodate one of Megan Mae's obi belts, this time worn as a regular belt and fastened with, yup, a safety pin. Because I'm like the MacGyver of jury-rigging clothes. Fair warning here: if you safety pin yourself into a super long belt, don't wait until the last minute to pee.

The normally pricey pants also said "Dry Clean Only" but did great in a delicate cold water cycle and line-drying. I know, what a rebellious type.

If you haven't already got the invite, please, please, please participate in my Goldwill Goldmine Party (which really includes clothes bought from any sort of charity, mission, or non-profit shop) and celebrate the joy of dressing on the cheap in beautifully pre-owned clothes, plus supporting good causes in your community. The deadline to email me a photo and brief description of the Goodwill item(s) to is October 1.

P.S. I have received packages from some of you! You know who you are. Blogger and swap packages are like Christmas, so I have piled them up and am waiting a few days to open them to savor the suspense. Because you know how it is when you're grown up and married and have kids. You get pre-agreed on stuff like coffee makers, omelet pans, and vacuum cleaners for special occasions, not to be sneezed at of course, but not super-exciting swag like lovely thrifted and pre-owned clothes and bling. God, how I adore a good hand-me-down!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine Day 4

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I started out the day underneath my desk, assembling a Kensington Snaplock Keyboard Tray.

I bought this shirt because the print reminded me of bridles, and anything horsey is in this year.
The Deets: New York & Co blouse (Goodwill); Pencil Skirt (Loft on sale); Etienne Aigner T-strap pumps (Ross last year but rumor is T-straps are seriously in this year, too); Handmade necklace (gift); Plastic bracelets 

I wasn't really dressed for that activity. I was also too proud to ask for help, since I'm supposed to be the tech-savvy one. So I dusted the floor with my burgundy-covered butt, and broke the three remaining fingernails I have left trying to pry the bolt covers off to adjust the tension.

Those bolt covers needed pliers. And a man. Dammit.

I do not recommend this color for dusting.

I give the Kensington Snaplock Keyboard Tray a two thumbs up except the "uses no tools" part.

They lie.

I'm slightly doofus-i-er when The Absent-Minded Professor snaps the pics.

I want to give a shoutout to my friend Rebekah Harman from Legalis, who stopped by the office with a giant box of chocolate chip cookies. Rebekah was rocking a bright green skirt with a white short-sleeved shirt, having wisely decided to stick to her summer wardrobe, while I stubbornly stomped around in tights, like that rebellious act of winter-dressing would make it cooler than 84 degrees outside.


In my mind, I look like this. And yes, I enjoy shaking the hell outta that bracelet. 
Cheap thrills, I'm all about them.

Shoutout to the man in Rebekah's office who reads my blog. Not for the pre-owned fashion. 'Cause I'm hilarious. (Right. Oh. God. The Pressure.) But I'm all up for guest posts from men who are stylin' office wear on a budget. (Sorry, this is the wrong blog for Armani, unless you found it at Goodwill.)

Oh, and shoutout to my lovely, lovely friend, Ally, who is sending me the coolest present in the world. Now that I've seen it unwrapped already, I may expire from excitement. I have taken to asking the receptionist every five minutes if the mail is here and did I get anything.



P.S. Bloggers and readers, I hope you'll submit a picture of yourself for my Goodwill Goldmine Party post. As long as the item(s) you're wearing came from a not-for-profit organization store, you're in! Please send the pic and a short description of the Goodwill (or charity, non-profit, or mission shop) item(s) to by October 1.

Bonus pic of Sasha Jane, rubbing it in that she got to sleep in this a.m. 
I B&W'd her to show off her gray on gray stripes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine Day 3

This post will be entirely composed of my random thoughts o' th' day. I know, you've pro'bly got better things to read, like Fifty Shades of Grey or campaign mailers.

The Deets: Talbots tee (Goodwill); Loft pleated skirt (thrifted $10!); Candies pumps (old, Kohl's clearance); Cuff bracelet (Jada's Jewels); Sterling silver pendant (Kohls I think)

" I will die if anything happens to our Keurig coffee maker."

"I will die if I get to work and discover my International Delight Iced Coffee carton is empty."

This is the best hot pink shirt ever. And I still love these shoes after all these years.

"Wow, after the equivalent of six cups of coffee, I see way more clearly than I do with my glasses."

"Gosh, I'm glad my new office is right beside the bathroom."

"Why are you so mad I wasn't here when you showed up without calling first, like I asked?"

"I'm a grown-up. I can eat half a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies if I want. I paid for 'em."

"OMG, I have to show Megan these crazy awesome way outta my league boots I shouldn't have bought during a period of mania, and ask if I should keep them?"

Now, I'm asking you guys, should I keep these? Please vote. (But not if you're married to me.)

And finally, here's what I was car-dancing to so bouncily on the way home that the peeps in the next lane gave me the two thumbs up:

Is it bad to be excited about the new Mumford & Sons album, and still like Boy George, no matter how much fun my family makes of me?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine Day 2

A few caveats here (I know, it's gonna be a terrible post when your opening statements disclaim it), but I finally made some long overdue deductive leaps with my camera and lighting and got some shots I'm happy with - but I cut off my feet in most of them. Considering the shoes I'm wearing came from Goodwill, this is bad.

The Deets: Loft dress (Goodwill); Oxford pumps (Goodwill); "Bubbling with Fun" necklace (Jada's Jewels last year); Megan Mae button flower pinned to necklace

Also, the eye doctor confirmed my worsening vision, so it just makes sense that I cut off my feet in my pictures, and you should expect plenty of footless budget career posts in the future, which is unfair, since I get the creeps from most headless style blogger pics.

I'm tired, you're tired, but I have to share what happened to me at the eye doctor's office, because The Teen and the cat simply don't care about blind ol' mum as long as she's bringing home the bacon and canned cat food in three very hard to find preferred flavors.

Doc asks me to take my contacts out, and I say, "Okay, got some saline and a case?"

Doc: "Nope, they're goin' right in the trash."

Being tight on cash and having just opened these contacts, I'm very reluctant to throw them in the trash, and he can tell.

Doc: "No worries, I got plenty of samples in your prescription. Into the trash they go!"

It kills me to put new lenses in the trash can, but I do. I warn him he'll have to drive me home if he can't find my prescription, because the bifocals aren't with me. The exam itself is long, arduous, and I am extremely grumpy at the end of it. .
He leaves to get some sample contacts that might help with my severe astigmatism. He does not come back. For a really long time. Right before I leap from the chair and start (blindly) pawing through the trash in hopes of salvaging my old contacts, he comes back. Pure relief. I happily put in the new contacts.

But I can't see. Doc: "Blink. They'll settle." I put all of my heart and soul into blinking. No wiser or clear-visioned, I share the same with the Doc. He looks at the lens specs again, and says, "Oh, my bad, wrong strength."

Don't get me wrong. I love my eye doctor of 25 years, and we picked out some humongous uber-nerdy new bifocals together, but next time, I'm bringing my own contact lens case.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine Day 1

I'm gonna own my backwoods ways, and admit that when anyone admired my outfit today, I immediately exclaimed, "IT CAME FROM THE GOODWILL!" I dunno if they were more shocked by my loud, emphatic pronouncement, or that something this chic came from the Goodwill.

Either way, it's a win.

The Deets: Boutique Essentials jacket (Goodwill); Loft skirt (thrifted); Liz Baker navy pumps (Goodwill);  Beige vee neck tank, fantastic heavy fabric (label cut out, thrifted); Bangles (Assorted Loft, Jada's Jewels)

Let me explain briefly about all the pictures. I do look rather like a schizoid-type photographer, but I was experimenting with light and exposure today. Also, I am not in love with myself, but I have come a long way from the days (last year) when I refused to be photographed at all. I think my friends and family kinda appreciate that I no longer quietly sneak away from all photo ops.

There's a lot going on in the back, too.

But I am trying really, really hard to improve my photography skills (constructive criticism and tips accepted). I know The Absent-Minded Professor's, followed by The Teen's, photos are the best, but I wouldn't ask The Teen for a bowl of dry cereal first thing in the morning, much less "willyoutakemyoutfitpicsotheywill beinfocuspleasepleasepleaseplease".

At least the picture is straight but forgot to hide the remote. The LizClaiborne purse is also from Goodwill.

AMP teaches long hours, and I work long hours, plus I chauffeur The Teen to her many activities, and I huff around grocery stores freaking out over dinner when I'm forced to, so it's not like there's much time to practice photography. And self-photography is hard. I take much better pictures of other people, and in fact love to photograph other people, many of whom I've discovered don't want their pictures taken either.

Another unimpressed feline member of the family, Sasha Jane

I hope you'll participate in my Goodwill Goldmine Party, blogger or reader, deadline to email a photo of yourself wearing something from Goodwill - or other charity or non-profit organization store - October 1, to Let's celebrate the many reasons to buy gently-used clothes, including being thrifty, unique, and chic.

Random unrelated thought: You may not know this but I am crazy about BBC dramas. The Teen and I have recently been scaring the crap out of ourselves by watching Jekyll (only one season, drat). It's such a delightful psychological terror that The Teen, who's been to way more horror flicks than me, wouldn't watch the next episode last night, "because I don't want scary dreams on a school night." Right. Gotcha. Fine. I will replay the the first three episodes we already watched, and drool over crazy-sexy-scary James Nesbitt all by myself.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Goodwill Goldmine

I can't figure out for the life of me why I've never shopped in the largest central Goodwill in our own city. I've hit up the one closest to our house, but didn't discover the real Goodwill goldmine until this weekend. It's super clean, light, well-organized, and has an enormous selection.

Liz Claiborne blouse (inspired by Lydia's Equipment blouse)
Talbots hot pink tee
New York & Company tunic
ny collection plaid skirt
Old Navy sweater
Liz Baker navy blue low-heeled pumps
tm Oxford heels
LizClaiborne purse

I have a list of items I'd like to add to or replace in my working wardrobe, for many reasons, including inspired by other bloggers' looks, seeking a few fall trends (navy blue, equestrian), or needing clothes that fit my skinny pencil, petite figure better. I've learned a lot from looking at my own outfit pics (many of which y'all will never see, yikes!), and I'm beginning to understand what I feel very comfortable in, what colors and shapes don't like me even if I like them, and that it's really important that I wear clothes that fit me now and not two larger sizes ago.

But we're a family of modest means. The Absent-Minded Professor has a long commute to the college where he works, the teens need funds for something at school every time we turn around, college for two daughters is looming near, and we've had more than our share of medical crises over the last couple of years. Hence, my increased interest in thrifting, and hopefully, doing some clothes-swapping or even just hand-me-down-ing, contributing to The Great Circle of Clothes (and Bling).

Ann Taylor polka dot blouse (lots of covered buttons & pleated hem)
American Eagle green striped button front shirt
Banana Republic extra fine Italian Merino sweater
Loft black dress
Cache black snake skin print pants (expensive brand 'round these parts)
Boutique Essentials navy plaid jacket ("grandma jacket" in my world - love them!)
Evan Picone plaid blazer (nod to the equestrian trend, plus goes with all my winter clothes)

For the upcoming work week, I'm going to wear at least one item every day that came from Goodwill. I'm sharing pics of items acquired in the last two weeks - nothing cost over $5, and some items were unworn and still had tags. My haul included finds for my boss and my buddy Megan, but now that I know some more friends' sizes and wishes from Sheila's super fun Clothing Swap party, I'll be keeping an eye out for them as well.

Oh, and if you've worn a cool "GW Boutique", Dylan's name for Goodwill (or international equivalent if you don't have Goodwill where you live), I'd love to do a post sharing one of your outfit pics, maybe call it "We Struck Gold at Goodwill". I know you're busy, so how 'bout we make the deadline October 1? Send your pic and note the Goodwill item to

Friday, September 21, 2012

Clothing Swap Party Hosted by Style Agent 909

Sheila of Style Agent 909 issued the invitation to her Clothing Swap Party earlier this month. It's a great idea, especially for those of us who don't get to go to real-time swap parties. I'm excited to see who attends and what they bring to the swap table. You don't have to attend Sheila's party or be a blogger to trade items (individuals work out the mailing details between them), but she suggests giving swap party attendees first dibs.

Before Sheila announced her party, I'd already taken a load of clothes to the consignment store, but I'm still losing weight and trying to edit my single closet into a less confusing and more cohesive selection. Anything offered in this swap is likely never worn or worn only once, and it either didn't suit me or is not my size anymore.

What would I be interested in swapping for? Bracelets/bangles for small wrists, old costume jewelry, simple dresses or tops with lots of mix and max potential (size S or 4/6/8), a pleated skirt, unopened tights (S/M), a petticoat (crazy wish, huh?), wide or obi belts (S/M), square scarves (fascinated by them but can't find one to thrift), or surprise me.

Here's what I've got right now (but I plan to copy this post to a Swap Stuff blog tab above to add additional clothes and keep the swap opportunities going, thanks for a great idea, Sheila!)

Jewelry and Accessories:

Jewel Box adjustable statement necklace (never worn)

Orange You Glad to See Me?

I don't mean to blather on quite so soon about the wonders all y'all have to look forward to in middle age, but I was, well, blinded by those subtle creeping changes again this morning. (And I can ignore a subtle creeping change better than most.)

Moving day at work, so obviously it means dress like a Creamsicle. Post pic lesson learned? Do not show my deep love of orange sherbet push-up pops by dressing like one.

The Deets: Talbots faux suede jacket (thrifted); Pewter flats (Loft clearance); Nine West American Vintage jeans (Steinmart last year); Chico's button front shirt (thrifted); Coral skinny belt (Target); Spoon bracelet (antique)

I couldn't see when I woke up.

I mean, it's true I've been legally blind all my life, and never have been able to see things clearly upon waking, but this morning I popped in my contacts - and still couldn't see.

I know, switched eyes, right? Nope, that wasn't it.

So I had to wear my bifocals. Which I both hate and love. I resisted them for years, and then wondered why I was such an idiot after getting my first pair (these). I love the perfect vision I enjoy while wearing them (my contacts do not correct my severe astigmatism), but I hate the glasses themselves. I am terrible at selecting eyeglass frames (as well as decorating houses and arranging food on plates). Why I picked glasses that make me look like my eighth grade school photo I don't know.

I'm going to get new bifocals next week (and an eye exam because obviously the vision thing is a concern). If you wear glasses and look really great in yours, I'd love to hear your tips for selecting flattering frames. I'm afraid my next ones might make me look like my seventh grade school photo.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Stand Up Straight and

Suck Your Stomach In

I heard that all the time when I was growing up from my mom. "Stand up straight and suck your stomach in!" At the time, I felt picked on, persecuted, and generally ill-used, but eventually, I did stand up straight and suck my stomach in, without being reminded.

I know, whoa, that woman looks like she's had too much coffee and sugar.
The Deets: Talbots shirt dress (thrifted, when I thrift one in a better color and fit, I'll return this one to The Great Circle of Clothes); Talbots linen skirt (clearance rack, now too big, but I think it might make a good petticoat); Candies pumps (old, Kohls clearance); Wide belt (old, Steinmart); Cuff bracelet (Jada's Jewels); Cuff links (thrifted in college, real, real old); Glass ring (family heirloom)

I thought good posture was a permanent habit until I saw from my outfit photos how bad my posture has become. My upper back started hurting, too, in a way I couldn't simply ignore. I discovered that not only was my old chair at work contributing to the problem, but that not standing up straight actually causes pain.

The Cat stood on my spot when I walked away. Pretty sure he's making fun of me. 
Or trying to take over the world this blog.

As I get ready to enter my fifties, I think about issues I never did as a younger woman. (Younger women, listen up, so you won't be as shocked as I am.) I can see myself 20 years down the road, as an increasingly stooped little old lady. I know the medical science says I 'll start shrinking in height during this next decade, partly due to deteriorating posture. Quite frankly, that image of a frail woman with a hunched upper spine and constant back pain scares the bejesus out of me.

Now I'm the one constantly reminding myself to stand up straight, doing the back exercises, and modifying the time I spend sitting at a computer, with better ergonomics and more stretch breaks.

First time I've ever layered a skirt under a dress. Thank you, Sheila and Megan. But now I need to know how to look tall.

Regaining good posture is more of a struggle than I thought it would be. So much so, I've actually asked my family to tell me to stand up straight if they see me slouching.

Sometimes a little persecution can be a good thing.

Warning, dear readers. My mind's starting to focus on very middle-aged things. I might talk about the Dread Whiskas next week. Don't say I didn't give ya the heads up.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Oh So Blue

I may have mentioned the law firm where I work is undergoing some interior remodeling. In particular, several attorneys got to pick their own paint for their new offices. The wall colors are all different, and to quote my one of my supervising attorneys regarding reactions to the final product, "Everyone definitely has an opinion."

The chain to my longest adjustable necklace kept moving to the front, so I just left it like that. 
The Deets: Agenda shrug (old); Mossimo long-sleeve tee (Target); Necklaces (Jada's Jewels); XAppeal boots (old, Rack Room); Etcetera skirt (GoodWill)

If you notice a little debris around my feet in these pictures, we're still crawling over furniture covered in plastic in some of the offices. Friday is the big move day, which I am dreading. Not because I mind moving, but because I have to clean out the desk where I've sat for seven, maybe eight years. It may be time to part with those time sheets I've still got from 1996...

I got so many compliments on the back of this skirt today. This was $4 well spent.

This is the first day it's been cool enough to wear the skirt I bought in a Nashville, Tennessee GoodWill store when Megan and I got together in June. It's extremely well made (ergo, the butt shot), and the snake skin print lining is so beautiful that I'm thinking about wearing it inside out next time.

I'm also thinking of doing a new feature in my posts called "Panic Attack of the Day". Yesterday's occurred in the powerless medical center. Today's occurred on the way home from work, because I had to stop by the grocery store and figure out something for the Teens to eat. The Absent-Minded Professor usually cooks but he had to work tonight. I'm fine with a sandwich for dinner, but I can't convert the rest of the family. They all seem to want their food cooked.

I melted down a little more when I couldn't find the ready made fried chicken, but mentally slapped myself into a semblance of sanity, and then followed the other mothers to the new section where it had been moved. Gave myself props for major-problem solving skills.

One of my friends loves having beer and popcorn for dinner if she doesn't have to cook. If you don't have think about anyone else, what's your favorite food for dinner?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Galoshes for the Office

While I think everyone must own galoshes, I don't highly recommend them for office wear, and therefore never intended to wear mine all day long.

The real shoes are in my hand. Thrifted for $8 this summer.
The deets: Galoshes (Target); Cropped ankle pants (J. Crew Factory Outlet); Boatneck top (J. Crew Factory Outlet); Cardigan (old); Necklace (Jada's Jewels)

I was just going to skip posting today's outfit altogether, since I somehow got galoshes stuck on my feet, like nine hours straight, but while recording The Paralegal Voice podcast with Vicki Voisin, I admitted I had them on all day, and she said there must be pictures. Well, I did tweet one this morning as a joke, but they were supposed to be temporary.

Photo Credit: The Absent-Minded Professor

When The Teen and I left the house this morning, great sheets of hard rain were pounding the pavement. Driving her to school was like slogging through the longest car wash rinse ever. My first stop was a large medical center, which had lost all power. I was asked if I wanted to stay and see if the electricity came back on, but I sort of had a panic attack because the lobby looked like a post-apocalypse bunker, complete with wailing people. Um, nope, no thanks, just write my name down on that pad, and reschedule me.

This Maybelline Color Show Metallics in Bold Gold turns my nails into extra jewelry.

When I got to work, it was still raining so hard the only items I could get out of the car were my purse and my umbrella, and I still got soaked. I figured I'd go back out and retrieve my real shoes when the rain lightened up. Which it never did. We had a lot of guests at the law office, and I did get some funny looks, especially from my bosses.

On the fashion front, my beloved J. Crew cropped ankle pants clearly took a beating today. I'm wondering if I bought them a size too big. I hate to be squeezed, but I don't think I took into account the amount of stretching out some pants do when you get them wet and then sit all day.

Eh. Life goes on. So what's the worst thing you've ever gotten stuck wearing an entire work day?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Dating Myself

I've been working on my post for Sheila at Style Agent 909's virtual Clothing Swap Party, and realized I have a lot of heirloom and antique brooches I'm not wearing, as well as a lot of scarves that aren't seeing much action either.

The Deets: Purple scarf (surprise! didn't recollect owning it); Anne Klein pin (likely Belk late 80s or early 90s); Ollio faux suede wedges (Amazon); Pencil skirt (Loft sale); GUSB Collection tee (Ross)

To be honest, I wasn't sure where to pin my brooches. I always think I look like a flight attendant when I put them on jacket lapels. But when I saw Catherine wearing a brooch and scarf as a sort of a necklace, the urge to be a copycat inspiration struck.

I mixed my jungle cats. There's pro'bly some kind of rule against it.

I bet I haven't worn this Anne Klein lion pin from the late 80s or early 90s in 20 years. Looking up old Anne Klein lion jewelry on eBay and Etsy was a cool trip down career wear memory lane. I so wish I hadn't given away the Anne Klein lion earrings I owned. But maybe it's for the best. They were so heavy they made my ears feel like they might fall off.

Photo credit: The Absent-Minded Professor of course. My first pose is always "I'm not ready!".

To be honest, I'm kind of Catherine's fangirl. Because of her, I paint my nails in colors I would never have tried (ever) and joyously pile on the Arm Candy. Which is actually handy when dealing with cranky babies. You see more of those than you'd think in a law office.

Are you wearing anything now you wouldn't have worn a year ago, because of your favorite style bloggers?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: My Life is Half Over

"I'm ten years old. My life is half over and I don't even know if I'm black with white stripes or white with black stripes!" ~ Marty the Zebra (Madagascar 2005)

If I haven't figured out my signature blog pose, I sure haven't figured out how to hide the remote.
The Deets:  Zoa cardigan (old, likely Marshalls); UK boatneck blouse (Sears two years ago); Vintage Key West pants (thrifted and cropped); Softspot flats (old); Multi-chain necklace (old, Burlington Coat Factory)

I'll be fifty next year. Even though one of my grandmothers lived to be 101 years old, I'm pretty sure my life is well over half over.

Even the dog needs coffee. Morning might provide great light, but I find it hard to open my eyes and mouth.

I'm not griping about being middle-aged, but recently, I had to reluctantly admit I still don't have a definite personal style, say like WendyB, Amber, Judith, Dylan, LisaAlisonCatherine,  Megan, and many other fabulously real and stylish women whose blogs I follow. What evolved from a paralegal news blog into a budget career style blog to show it really is possible to have your total work outfit cost less than $50 on most days, and that thrifting can stretch a limited budget, like, forever, has turned into an exploration into my personal style.

What's definite is I can't afford a whole new wardrobe if most of what I wear isn't really me, or me anymore. I have lost some weight, though, and could definitely afford to swap or thrift a few smaller-sized key pieces that might pull it together more than it is now.

Normally I delete the bloopers so the family won't use them in a slide show at my funeral. Because that's just who we are.

Some days I think I have a clearly defined style I can live with, other days not so much. For example, I think I thrifted these zebra pants, heavily influenced by animal prints on other style bloggers. I do like them, and I'm pretty sure they make quite the first impression, but I'm not sure I would have bought them if left to my own devices. Maybe I shouldn't be left to my own devices...

So are they my personal style now, or did I just adopt someone else's?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Oh Horrors, This Dress!

Nah. This dress is the mostest wonderfulest evah.

The Deets: Andre Oliver sheath dress ~ Steinmart Red Dot Clearance with 40% coupon; Loft scallop cardigan ~ Loft Outlet sale; XAppeal Zeena wedges ~ Rack Room; Necklace ~ Jada's Jewels

So I'm submitting it to Sheila's Dress Week of Horrors or Dress of Horrors Week (there are so many ways that this can be interpreted that I had a little linguistic meltdown and my family forbade me to use the computer, but I snuck on for you, dear readers, all for you), and hoping this was not an invitation to wear a dress I look beastly in. 'Cause that's way too easy.

On the other hand, finding a $120 dress marked down to $16, pre color-blocked (yay, no thinking!) and cleverly ruched to flatter a pencil figure is much harder.

A year ago, no way would I have worn orange and fuschia together. Or at all.

I even wore my orange "statement" necklace for the second day in a row, because I love wearing orange, even though it doesn't love me. I've tried to avoid being a style blogger cliche and haven't posed with a clutch bag (yet), but oh how hard it has been for me to resist the statement, sometimes in the form of a bubble, necklace craze. I studied the J. Crew knockoffs on eBay for hours. Hours of my life I will never get back, I know.

Best ruch detail ever.

But when this statement necklace popped up in a Jada's Jewels daily deal email, so cheeky and orange, yet dainty, I thought now maybe I can wear a statement necklace that won't wear me. So that's how it went down.

Plus, orange goes with everything, right?

It's still hot and in the low 80s here in the Deep South (the high 80s in our office, and no, it's still not menopause), so I can't give up my fave gladiator sandals yet.

Have you put away your summer sandals and busted out that wonderful first pair of fall tights yet?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Proof that Lawyers Really Do

Hang Emergency Jackets and Ties for Court in Their Offices

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll already know I was an Office Orphan today. Walls are going up and walls are going down, and offices are being painted lots of different colors. I was booted out of mine this morning for painting, so I'm not responsible for anything that happened after that.

Hey, I worked in three different offices today, and I feel comfortable saying that I left one-third of my brain in each of them.

The Deets: JCPenney vintage dress ~ thrifted; Anne Klein pumps ~ left at my house; obi belt ~ practically free with Limited coupon some woman handed me the one time I was at the mall; Zoa cardi ~ old, old, old; Necklace ~ Jada's Jewels

I probably won't get in trouble for taking a picture in one boss's office, because he doesn't read the ol' blog. Even though I post pics of his dog on it all the time.

I discovered that several of my co-workers are sadly lacking in desk snacks. I'm sorry, co-workers. I was starving, and I did rifle through your drawers. Now I know why you're always rifling through mine. Because I am one prepared paralegal and always have food, to the extent that my other supervising attorney asked me for a big favor at lunch, and then ate the other half of my Jimmy John's sandwich. She promised I can eat half of hers tomorrow.

Look at all the bokeh on that pickup truck!

Today is the Absent-Minded Professor's birthday, so gotta go eat Thai!

Prepare to see much future idiocy with this thang - if I can keep it hidden from The Teens...

Thanks, Joni and Curtise, for the Pic Monkey lead. This will highly improve the quality of my blog photo layouts, as will our new wireless remote. I know you guys will miss the askew interior shots.

Hey, are any of you participating in Sheila's virtual Clothing Swap Party? I am gathering up the goodies. I love participating in what I like to think of as The Great Circle of Clothes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Water Not Quite Falling

The first few times I saw blog post comments from Secret Squirrel, I thought one of my close friends was having a bit of fun with me. Because if I can only pick one adjective to describe me, squirrely is the only one that fits. I've described myself that way for years. Yes, I know it's not an actual adjective, but it's who I am, peeps, who I am.

Cardigan - Loft clearance; Nine West Vintage Jeans (Steinmart several years ago); Candies pumps (Kohls many years ago); Camisole (Rue 21); 1928 3-way locket (decades old); Strap watch (gift)

Then I clicked on Secret Squirrel's Blogger profile and realized she has her own style blog, fashion maths, and that she is the epitome of simple chic, which I admit can be hard for me to pull off. I think knowing what to leave off is as important as knowing what to leave on.

In a recent post, Secret Squirrel is wearing a cardigan similar to one I bought on super clearance at Loft but struggle to style. I thought I'd try Secret Squirrel's cool skinny jeans and striped shoes effect. Our office is currently undergoing interior remodeling, so I have to be dressed to haul boxes and bail out of my office at any moment.

I think the secret to Secret Squirrel's really flattering combination is the longer striped cardigan with the narrower stripes, plus a darker shirt. Her sweater looks like a long beautiful waterfall, with black jeans and shoes lengthening the fall even more, while mine looks more like a Walmart bird bath. I'm giving up on this cardigan and passing it on to The Teen, who is three inches shorter and has narrower shoulders than me. It will flow more on her. Plus she already likes it.  She saw me this morning and said, "You're wearing an outfit I'd wear!"

Hence, my submission to Everybody Everywhere's Back to School theme this month, even tho' I didn't know about it in advance, because I'm so far behind on my blog-reading.

Do I need black skinny jeans like Secret Squirrel's? I think I do.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Paralegal Career Dressing: Fried Bologna

Today it was all about the shoes, which I plan to wear every day, so you might want to unsubscribe now...

During a conversation I had today with a lovely man I've known with for years, he mentioned that his significant other had taken a nasty spill in a parking lot, but went to work anyway.

Sleeves have come a long way, baby. This shirt, purchased in 2009, debuts at the office.

I said, "Tough lady! I sure hope you're gonna have dinner ready when she gets home tonight."

He replied, "We've got some bologna and some bread up in here somewhere - she can fry it up into a sandwich!"

Never one to let anyone have the last word, I said, "You sure know how to spoil a woman!"

Work is crazy. These photos took seven and a half minutes, with the camera sitting on the edge of my desk.
The Deets:  Kenar blouse (Marshalls); Handmade amythyst necklace (gift); Megan Mae Daily obi belt; J. Crew cropped pants (on sale outlet store); Ollio faux suede wedges (Amazon); mixed bangles and antique rings

I think he was joking. I know I was.

But darn, if I haven't been craving a bologna sandwich since our conversation. I haven't had one in years. You're probably thinking who would want one EVER. My dad used to fry bologna up every now and then, when I was a kid.

Have you ever had a fried bologna sandwich? (Vix made me google marmite last night, so I'm hoping I make at least one of my international buddies google fried bologna.)

Recommended Read: I devoured The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield last week, staying up until the wee hours to finish it in one sitting. The premise is the best-selling novelist in the world has a mysterious past that biographers have attempted to unravel for decades. When she finally reaches out to a young bookseller with a mysterious past of her own, to share her life story, the gothic creepiness is beyond compare.

Budget Career Dressing Deal: Faux Suede Pumps

If you lived with me, you'd know I've driven myself almost completely 'round the bend, and I keep myself from getting all the way there by focusing on Quests of the Moment. Not being possessed of great wealth, or any wealth at all, the objects of these Quests can't cost much, and lately have been thrifted.

The last Quest of the Moment was centered on a search for a colored pair of heels for fall. I wanted them to add pop to my conservative and sometimes dark winter wardrobe. Plus, you've probably figured out by now that when the days get long at work, I entertain myself either with my shoes or my Arm Candy or both.

I found so many beautiful pumps in blues, pinks, and purples, but could not justify their cost right now. It's the beginning of the school year, and we have to cough up hundreds of dollars in extracurricular activity fees for the teenage daughters. I can't even look at the Fluevog clearance sale. I did see colored pumps in a price range I could live with in JCPenney circulars, but hadn't had a chance to get to the local store.

When I found these Ollio colored pumps in an Amazon search, for less than $20, I decided to give them a try. After all, Amazon makes returns easy.

Readers and fellow recessionistas, I know these shoes won't last forever (or maybe even two weeks), but they are so comfortable and well, the bomb-diggety. My feet like them, and they haven't liked any online shoe purchases I've made this year. Now let's hope my office wardrobe likes them, too. They come in many different colors, and I had a hard time choosing between the blue, brown, or purple.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inspired by Curtise

When I saw this 1970s maxi dress in a thrift store in June, marked down like crazy, I thought I would just try it on for grins and giggles. Because I've never bought anything remotely close to this orange or, er, this print, in my conservative office dressing little life.

In truth, I got the jacket stuck on the bracelet, and had to leave it on for the picture.

But when I tried it on, the empire waist made me feel like a princess, and I was suddenly reminded of how much I enjoy Curtise's wildly beautiful vintage maxi dresses. So in it went with the rest of my amazing thrift haul. I didn't know where I would wear it exactly - except probably certainly not to the law office. (Robin, all of the attorneys I work for are not as fashion forward as your boss :)

I thought this dress would be a killer photo op on the beach, where my mom took me for a short getaway last week. (We got caught after two days and had to come home. I also discovered the world does not end with no WiFi signal.) But the wind was blowing so hard, and dear hubby had cautioned me so much about taking the Nikon out in the sand, that I chickened out. Plus, I was so chillaxed, I couldn't be bothered with make-up or heels high enough to keep the dress from dragging.

Or even shampoo after swimming in the ocean. Because I forgot it. True story.

Instead, I decided to blow the minds of the three elderly people we'd likely see in the local restaurant, and trailed out to dinner wearing just my adult acne and flip-flops, plus my $4 thrifted denim jacket 'cause I was cold. My mom urged me to get a picture of the dress anyway, so we found a very glamorous blue boat trailer to stand in front of instead of the blue ocean.

Photo credit: My mom who reads this blog and will be so pleasantly surprised!

To my fave style bloggers, thank you for inspiring me to step outside of my quiet little comfort zone every once in a while, even if I do chicken out and run right back in. Still, those exciting moments on the bright and beautiful side feel amazing.

This one is definitely going into Not Yet Dead Style's  weekly feature for ageless, stylish peeps,Visible Monday.