Category Archives: Cath’s Style

Fall 2016 Minimalist Wardrobe Inspo

I wanted to keep myself busy this weekend so I wouldn’t get too down about the election and everything that it implies. It really helped to read Lar’s post a couple of times and to spend time away from the news. I busied myself with house stuff like painting an old dresser for my bedroom (follow that riveting saga on my SnapChat: AsianCajunsCath) and cleaning my sneakers (future blog post coming).

I also distracted myself with some fall clothes inspiration. Now that it’s finally getting a little, tiny bit cooler in the south, it’s time to start thinking about long sleeves, cardigans, and boots.

This year, instead of showing you want I want to buy, I’m going to show you what I want to wear. Once I gathered these six images, I realized that I have almost everything in these photos:

fall2016_uniform

I’m a big fan of ankle-showing pants. They might not be practical for other parts of the country during the winter, but there are very few weeks in Atlanta where ankle length pants aren’t warm enough. I need to get some that are work appropriate because right now I just have some cropped jeans, which don’t give off that pantsuit air that I’m going for. #pantsuitnation

fall2016_uniform_casual

I still think white sneakers are the bee’s knees even though white is not traditionally appropriate during the winter. They’re also harder to pull off if you’re not showing a little bit of ankle (see a theme here?), but I think you can pull off that Scandinavian black jeans, black socks, and white sneakers look if you have enough confidence. For the two photos above, I have the slouchy blazer already, t-shirt, and jeans (both boyfriend and skinny styles), but I don’t have a wool 3/4 length coat and that’s definitely at the top of my list. Last year I wrote about how I ended up with this very practical winter coat after Kon Mari-ing all of my clothes. It functions perfectly for the winter, but not for nicer events like going out to a fancy dinner or going to the ballet (both of which I do all the time. . . ahem).

fall2016_fancy_uniform

Now, when I do want to dress up I like simple pieces like color-block dresses (is it still color block when it’s just black and white?!) or black skirts with a statement necklace. I love chunky, big, handcrafted-looking necklaces and am thinking about making one or two for the fall/winter season.

So there you have it. I’m still a sucker for an aesthetically minimalist pieces. If you’re bored with that look, check out Lar’s post, Is Minimalism as a Trend Waning?

In the same vein (and if you’re looking for more post-election distraction), read this article on Racked about how embellishments are back – and minimalism is out.

P.S.: All of the photos in this post are from Cup of Jo. Her blog is another good distraction and I love her Style and Beauty Uniform posts that show what real women wear.

P.P.S.: If you still want to indulge in some retail therapy, purchase one of these shirts or pins that supports Planned Parenthood.

My Spring Capsule Wardrobe

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a capsule wardrobe but felt like I needed to purge my closet before I could focus my brain on a set wardrobe. It’s been over six months since I KonMaried my closet and I’ve gotten comfortable with having a paired-down selection of clothes. Now I’m ready to figure out what I really have left to work with.

A few weeks ago I pulled out all of the spring items in my closet, photographed them, and then took stock of what I had. For the most part, it felt like a pretty complete spring wardrobe. The only glaring hole was the lack of work appropriate blouses. So in the middle of photographing my clothes, I purchased a few more workwear items and I feel pretty excited about the end result.

I’m not aiming for a specific number of items to create a capsule wardrobe. Right now I have 37 items in my closet and I don’t see me needing to buy anything else in the near future. That might change once the weather gets too hot to even wear short sleeves and I’ll address that in a future blog post when that time comes.

Here is my 37-item Spring Capsule Wardrobe:

Tops

capsule_wardrobe_tops_spring2016

Loft pocket shell | Uniqlo oxford | Sincerely Jules t-shirt | Madewell top
H&M blouse | Primark t-shirt | Penfield oxford | Loft pocket shell
Marshalls blouse | Madewell v-neck | Anthropologie blouse | Loft sleeveless top
Secondhand black t-shirt | Primark short-sleeve oxford | Cos short-sleeve cardigan | Everlane cardigan

Bottoms

capsule_wardrobe_bottoms_spring2016

Uniqlo jeans | H&M jeans | Old Navy jeggings | Blank NYC jeans
Isaac Mizrahi pants x 2 | Loft skirt | Squash Blossom Boutique skirt

Outerwear

capsule_wardrobe_outerwear_spring2016

Etsy wool jacket | June leather jacket | J. Crew jackt
Everlane rain jacket | Joie blazer | Zara bomber jacket

Shoes

capsule_wardrobe_shoes_spring2016

Adidas sneakers | L.K. Bennett flats | Yosi Samra slip-ons | J. Crew Factory flats
TopShop flats | And Other Stories pumps | Office oxfords

Some thoughts on my spring capsule wardrobe:

  • I took a page from the Unfancy blog and did not include active wear, lounge wear, underwear, socks, accessories. None of that stuff really changes for me season to season.
  • Most of my spring wardrobe consists of items that I wore throughout the fall and winter and I’m sure there will be a lot of overlap in the summer.
  • A lot of folks who create a capsule wardrobe store their nonseasonal items in boxes. I’ve kept all of my clothes in my closet per Marie Kondo’s advice. You can see my full closet inventory here.
  • I’ve noticed that since minimalizing my wardrobe, some of the items look pretty worn after six months to a year. I usually hold off for as long as possible before giving them away, but this capsule wardrobe project really helped me objectively look at the condition of my clothes.
  • I’m not sure how long this spring wardrobe will last in its entirety. It’s already starting to feel like summer in Atlanta and I might be breaking out my sandals well before June!

My Ideal Closet – Cath

I love how Lar’s ideal closet is full of inspiration from timeless style icons. Mine is not. Currently, my ideal wardrobe is all about comfort, simplicity, and masculinity – in a Katharine Hepburn kind of way.

I’ve always dreamed of a monochromatic wardrobe. Ever since I Konmari-ed my closet that desire has only gotten stronger – and more attainable now that I can see what I actually own. I’d love to have a handful of high-quality pieces that go with each other and don’t require a lot of maintenance (e. g. dry cleaning). If I had won the Powerball two weeks ago (still can’t believe I didn’t!), here are the building blocks that I would have bought for my closet:

Basicsbasics

Madewell turtleneck | Need Supply muscle tee and t-shirt

I don’t need a lot of basics, but a handful of black, white, gray and striped shirts for layering would be the perfect foundation.

Sporty

sporty

Everlane sweatpants | Need Supply dress | Commes des Garcon hoodie

I love a good pair of sweatpants – especially ones that can look a little dressy. I pretty much like anything that is stretchy and forgiving whether it’s in dress, pants or hoodie form.

Cozy Knits

cozyknits

Cos sweatshirt | Everlane cardigan | Madewell cardigan

Maybe because it’s the middle of winter and we just had a little dusting of snow in Atlanta. Or maybe because my current wardrobe is completely lacking in cozy knits, but I have a sudden urge to buy more chunky sweater and sweatshirts. They’re perfect for throwing over anything and something like the double-breasted Madewell cardigan has that perfect mix of comfort and pull-togetherness.

Quirky

quirky

Madewell T-shirt | Need Supply sweatshirt | Cos dress

Yes, that’s a  boob sweatshirt and I love it! I like gray and black pieces that are a little off – either with the pattern (e.g. Madewell t-shirt and boob sweatshirt) or the cut (e.g. the Cos trapeze dress). It shakes up a wardrobe and the look of an outfit a little bit without getting too colorful and trendy.

Accessories

accessories

Bag &Other Stories | Everlane slip-ons | Adidas Stan Smiths

Lar and I keep talking about how someday we want to be able to carry small purses like this one from And Other Stories #lifegoals. I’m sure I’m doing permanent damage to my back by trying to carry around my whole life in my in a giant-tote-bag-of-a-purse. A black pair of slip-ons would be my go-to shoe and I’ve had my eye on those black and white Stan Smiths for ages.

I know my ideal closet might be boring to most people, but I think it’s perfection. Also, most of these items do NOT fit my body type. I’m short/petite so flat shoes, big sweatshirts, white sneakers that cut off the leg line, and shapeless pieces aren’t items that a fashion magazine editor would recommend. The thing is, at the ripe old age of 32, I don’t care.

Lar mentioned that we’ll be digging deeper into the whole discussion about dressing – or not dressing – for your body type. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems. Yes, heels would elongate my line and short skirts look more proportional on me than midi skirts, but I’m over it. I’m over the rules and those limitations. Bring on the sweatpants and boyfriend jeans!!!!

Cath’s Winter Uniform

Alright. I don’t really have a uniform. I just have a version of what I would wear every day if I didn’t have to go to work and could just bop around town eating at restaurants, visiting museums, going to see movies, and hanging out at bookstores.

Here’s my uniform math: skinny jeans + loose-ish top(s) + flat boots or oxfords.

cath-smiling

At some point, I would love to develop a work uniform like Matilda Kahl. If I ever find the perfect work blouse (looks like silk, but is machine washable, doesn’t bunch in weird places when sitting down, doesn’t wrinkle, is fitted but not tight, etc.), I’ll buy it in bulk. Same goes for black trousers that fit perfectly. These pants are close to perfect, but they get baggy around the knees throughout the day. If you have the perfect work uniform, leave me a commit. I need some inspiration!

Favorite Item: Gray T-Shirt

I ran out and bought this gray t-shirt last August when I was visiting Lar in Scotland and my luggage was lost for two days. I was trying desperately not to spend too much on the trip, so I grabbed the cheapest t-shirt I could find at Primark – I think it was on sale for $5. I never thought I would love it so much. It’s not cut like a cheap shirt. The back piece is slightly longer than the front so I never have that annoying gap between my shirt and my jeans when I’m sitting down and the sleeves are the perfect length. Plus the folded sleeves make it feel more pulled together and the level of non-snugness is perfection.

I know it’s silly to love a t-shirt so much, but it’s rare to find a gem when you’re in a rush and just desperate not to wear dirty laundry for the second day in a row while traveling. If only I had known how much I would grow to love this shirt – I would have bought five more to replace my other t-shirts. Since Primark doesn’t have an online shop in the states, I don’t think I’ll be getting my hands on another beloved t-shirt anytime soon. Although, come to think of it, that’s probably for the best. Primark represents the whole fast fashion world that I’m trying to get away from. While they’re not the worst company as far as ethics go, they’re not anywhere close to the best either. So, I’ll love this shirt to bits while it lasts and then try to find a more ethical replacement for it down the road.

The KonMari Method: My Closet

Konmari_method

After visiting Lar in Scotland last month, I was so impressed with how organized and spacious her 550 square foot flat felt. It’s all because of her devotion to Marie Kondo’s “life changing tidying-up” techniques. Read Lar’s original KonMari post if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. So I decided it was high time for me to jump on the tidying-up bandwagon and get started with the hardest category (for me, at least): clothes.

I’m totally embarrassed to show these before photos, but without them, you wouldn’t get the full “life changing” feel. So, here you go. My “closet” before:

Before_Konmari

before_hangers

My house was built in 1947 and has teeny, tiny closets by 2015 standards. Troy uses the small closet in the master bedroom and I use the second bedroom as my closet. I always imagined getting built-ins one day, but not anytime soon. So my closet consisted of two Ikea clothing racks, a Target cube storage unit and piles of shoes. Yes. I was ashamed of my closet.

before_drawers

So I spent one Sunday sorting through all of my clothes category by category and deciding which pieces “sparked joy” and were worth keeping. Marie Kondo believes that you have to sort through similar items all at once. So that means going through every item of clothing in your house – winter/summer clothes, coats, pjs – everything. It was pretty overwhelming to see exactly how many tops, pants, bags, scarves, jewelry, shoes etc. I had.

before_bottoms

Before_bags

It took at least five hours: sorting everything, deciding what to keep, bagging up everything to give away, deciding what to fold and hang, folding almost everything (another Marie Kondo technique), reorganizing, and putting everything away. I gave away over nine trash bags full of clothes, shoes and jewelry to Second Life, my local thrift store. And after all of that, this is what I have left:

After_konmari

The photo above includes all of my clothes (minus jackets and coats), shoes, and scarves that I currently own and it feels amazing! Everything except some blouses and four dresses are folded KonMari style:

KonMari_folding

Including my socks and underwear. Yep. Underwear gets folded.

after_socks

The fascinator is the only hat I kept and out of 20+ scarves, I only kept three:

Konmari_hairpoducts_scarves

Apart from five rings and three bangles, this board contains all of my jewelry:

after_jewelry

And these are the bags that I kept:

after_bags

Part of me can’t believe I gave away so much and the other part of me can’t believe I kept so much stuff for so long. It’s been a week since I’ve done my big clean-out and I still feel great about it. The only items I’m missing are a good black cardigan (the one I owned got a lot of use but it didn’t spark joy because it was shapeless and worn-looking), another pair of jeans (I only kept one pair!), and a winter coat.

The best part was that I didn’t buy any new organizational items. I used all the furniture I already have. Yes, someday I would like to own a proper dresser, but I’m fine spending my time saving up for something I really like. Until then, the Target cube unit will do just fine.

If you want more KonMari inspiration, read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, peruse Lar’s KonMari purse post and follow my friend’s KonMari-devoted Instagram account. Also Goop has a pretty great KonMari folding guide complete with videos.

Sorting through my clothes is only the beginning. I’d like to spend one to two weekends a month tackling different categories. I think books are up next followed by all of my papers. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary

Tipple_and_Rose

Remember last week when I said my trip to Edinburgh made me we want explore more cafes/eateries in Atlanta? Well, done and done! Tipple & Rose Parlor and Apothecary opened up last week in Virginia Highland and I made my way over there on Saturday. I love tea shops – the promise of warm scones with clotted cream or, at the very least, a quiet place to have a cuppa and read a book. Tipple & Rose does not disappoint. It’s got a great airy, laid-back vibe with a hint of Victoriana.  You have a choice of 80 kinds of tea (you can smell each one at the counter before ordering), crumpets, house-made scones, clotted cream, cakes, pies and a number of salads and sandwiches including vegan options.

Since it was so hot out on Saturday (and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and forever in Atlanta), I ordered a rooibos over ice, vegan kale salad and a blueberry and white chocolate scone. Yes, it’s a weird combination, but it was perfect for the mood I was in and it was all so good. I can’t wait to take Lar here when she gets into town in September.

Iced_rooibos

My friend Brittany joined me and fell in love with the giant Victorian arm chair she’s sitting in (note, we both got iced teas because it’s so unbearably hot):

Tipple_and_rose_interior

These are all the teas at the counter that you can take a sniff of before ordering:

Tipple_and_Rose_tea

Since it’s part apothecary, Tipple & Rose carries a number of all-natural, locally made bath products. Little Barn Apothecary is one of my favorite local brands. I was really tempted to buy a bottle of the jasmine ocean water:

little_barn_apothecary

Bathroom selfie, had to do it because the natural light was so pretty (outfit blog post coming soon):

tearoom_selfie

My very last semester of grad school starts up in a few weeks. I might spend my weekends studying at Tipple & Rose – that would make me actually look forward to all of the work I have to do!

Sister Time

HM_home

When Lar and I were little, our mom would dress us up the same. I mean, we were twin girls, what mom in her right mind wouldn’t? Lar and I never minded. Growing up as a twin and dressing like else was normal. We didn’t start dressing differently until we started picking out our own clothes at the mall – anyone remember Limited Too?!?!

Now that we’re full blown adults and are hardly ever together (sob!) we love wearing the same thing – or at least similar things – when we’re together. It just feels right! Of course we don’t look super twin-like now that Lar’s hair is legitimately curly and I can never come back from over plucking my eyebrows in the 90s – damn you, pink Tweezerman tweezers! But I still love looking similar – if not exactly alike.

Devils_Advocate_Edinburgh

Where: The Devil’s Advocate
Wearing: Old Navy tops

Hanging_bat

Where: The Hanging Bat
Wearing: H&M black cardigans, Truly Madly Deeply tanks from U.O.

RoseLeaf_Leith

Where: Rose Leaf
Wearing: Not really wearing the same thing in this pic, but we are drinking the same thing – Coconut Crunch juice (so good!)

Lar is still holidaying in southern England (check out her IG pics here), but I’ll get to see her again in a month. She’ll be visiting Atlanta before moving onto Seattle in the fall. That means I get to see her twice in one season – that never happens!

Packing for a Not-So-Summery Vacation

travel shoes

In less than two days (TWO!!!) I’ll be on a plane heading towards Lar/Scotland – woohoo! I’m so excited, it’s going to be impossible for me to concentrate at work for the next few days. Lar and I haven’t seen each other in person in almost 10 months. I never thought there would be a time in my life when I wouldn’t see my twin sister for more than 10 weeks let alone 10 months. Ridiculous.

Do you know what else is ridiculous? The whole week that I’m in Edinburgh, the high temperature will hover around 60 degrees (48 is the low) – and of course it’s suppose to rain the whole time. After experiencing weeks on end of 90 degree weather in Atlanta this summer, my brain can’t really remember what chilly weather feels like.

I studied abroad in Edinburgh and have visited Lar a couple of times since she moved across the pond so  you’d think I’d be more prepared for the difference in climate. But it wasn’t until I looked up the weather in Edinburgh for the next week and a half that I realized the cute, summery shoes I was planning to pack for my trip were not going to cut it. Add that to the fact that most of my suitcase is going to be filled with goodies for Lar, I don’t have tons of room for bulky boots (read: Hunters).

I’ve finally narrowed down my shoe selection to the four pairs pictured above.

1. Sneakers – I don’t even know what kind of Nikes these are. My friend gave them to me because they didn’t fit her and now they’re my favorite shoes to work out in. I plan on wearing these on the plane, so that’ll free up some room in the suitcase, and I’ll wear them on days we’re going to be doing a lot of walking as long as I can style them with an outfit that makes me look more like this than this. Also, Lar and I plan to go to her gym at least once while I’m visiting, so I can’t not bring sneakers.

2. J.Crew Factory Flats – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q1 Favorites post and I still love them. These are the most impractical shoes I’m bringing. They’re not great to wear when it’s raining and after walking around in them for hours my feet begin to hurt on the bottom, but I needed something that kind of looks fancy.

3. Mossimo canvas sneakers – I mentioned these in my 2015 Q2 Favorites. They’re not as on-trend as some of the other Van-like sneakers, but I think they’re perfectly generic. I know that doesn’t really sound like a selling point, but I like wearing non-statement shoes.

4. Mossimo boots – I know, I have a thing for Target shoes apparently. I just bought these, but I can’t find them online to include a link. I might be too old to pull off these suckers, but they’re really comfortable and have a little bit of a heel. Plus, they’re shorter and more compact that my winter boots. If I do end up pulling them off, I’ll include an outfit pic in a future post.

Holy moly. I can’t believe I just spent so space writing about four pairs of basic shoes. I haven’t even figured out what else I’m going to pack for the trip. I’m the type of packer that makes lists for everything – so much so that I don’t think I could physically pack without a list.

Here’s hoping I won’t get so caught up in list-making that I end up throwing everything in my suitcase at the last minute!

P.S.: I’m hoping Lar and I will find time to blog together this week, so there shouldn’t be a break in blogging. I’ll also try to Snapchat/Instagram the trip as much as possible so make sure to follow me at AsianCajunsCath.

A Summer Wedding Outfit

Summer Wedding

 

I totally love how Lar has simplified her wardrobe. I’m trying to do the same, but I’m going at a much slower pace than her. I did pretty well with my last trip to the mall, but I did break down two weekends ago and buy this dress for a friend’s wedding.

BB Dakota blue dress

 

BB Dakota dress | Michael Kors purse | Luxury Rebel heels | Jennifer Zeuner bracelet | Topshop ring

summer wedding accessories

 

summer wedding shoes

 

Just like Lar, I’m struggling with finding a balance between simplifying my wardrobe while also being creative stylistically. If I was more disciplined about simplifying my closet, I wouldn’t have purchased this dress and would have worn the same summer wedding dress I wore last year. The only problem was that I was bored and uninspired with last year’s dress, so I bought this BB Dakota one. Yep, #firstworldproblems. I know. But I do find it hard to stay inspired with a limited wardrobe. Although, at the same time, I’m also tempted by the idea of an everyday uniform – like this woman who wore the same outfit everyday for 3 years. Hmmmmsomething to ponder over the holiday weekend.

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July!