Category Archives: Lar’s Style

My ideal closet

One of the reasons Cath and I changed the focus of the blog was to figure out how to dress better. That might sound silly coming from 32-year-old women who’ve spent the better part of nearly three decades dressing themselves, but I think your style evolves all your life.

And I don’t mean how to dress “on-trend” or be “fashionable”, but how to find your own style. That takes time and dedication. It also takes years of giving yourself the freedom to wear whatever you want, like this (holy-moly).

I’m not saying there aren’t some days where I still want to Gaga-it-up, but in general, I love the idea of being comfortable enough in my own skin to wear what I want — not because it looks cool but because it feels like me.

So before I tackled my closet clear-out this past weekend (post to come) I sat down and had a think:
• What sorts of things do I feel the best in (I mentioned this in my Uniform post).
• What do I wear the most and why
• Does my current closet fit my lifestyle (for instance, I bought a pair of Adidas because I thought it would make me feel like a fashion editor if I wore them with a beanie and long, minimalist coat — turns out that “look” makes me feel like a bald hobbit — not the lifestyle or look I am for, though I robustly support elevensies).
• Who are my style icons and why (see photos above)

I then delved into Pinterest with a purpose (no aimless scrolling here, ahem) and made a collage of lovely ladies who fit what seems to be a style that I’ve slowly gravitated toward since the end of my 20s:
• 1960s lines
• Monochrome, clean cut outfits
• Black and bold colors (I look washed out in pastels)
• Very little pattern or accessories
• And a bit of eccentricity thrown in

And I don’t just like this look, it also fits with the way I get dressed. Most of my clothes are solid colors because I think my 5’2 stature can’t handle the busy-ness of a pattern.* I also forget to put accessories on anyhow — and when I do remember I spend all day fiddling with them and clanking my bangles awkwardly on my desk. My closet already has lots of mini-skirts (again, good on a petite frame) and clean silhouettes. I also own a basket that I sometimes use as a purse (thank you, Jane Birkin).

It doesn’t matter what age you are. Any time is a good time to really review your current style. In the past when I’ve looked for inspiration, I would go online and find beautiful images of very stylish women and try to emulate them in order to feel fashionable. But I never did. What works on very tall, skinny models with natural bedhead hair never works for me and will never work for me. But that doesn’t mean you have to eschew your inspiration board, just spend a little more time with your images and really delve into why you were attracted to them.

Find inspiration and then learn how to make that fit your lifestyle and yourself.* Your closet and style will always be evolving, but it will begin to be small shifts that always look like you and no one else (even if you are an identical twin).

*Speaking of which, Cath and I have been discussing this idea of “dressing for your body type.” And we’re not sure this should be rammed down our throats as much as it is. Stay tuned for future posts about “dressing for type.”

Slipper weather*

fall apple-cider robe slippers-sorel slipper-weather

Seattle is known for being rainy and grey, but last week we had beautiful weather. Crisp blue skies and just enough of a chill for a jacket and a warm mug of apple cider. But all the fall loveliness made me realise I was lacking two fall/winter essentials: a cozy robe and fluffy slippers.

I hopped onto Shopbop‘s site and immediately fell for this fleece robe (it has pom-poms!) and these warm faux shearling slippers. I spent all Saturday morning (and — ahem — afternoon) curled up on the couch wrapped in fuzziness. My hibernation skills are going to be on form this winter.

If the cooler weather has you dreaming of a new item or two for your closet, check out Shopbop’s Friends and Family sale. You get to take 25% off your order if you use the code INTHEFAM25. The sale runs from Midnight on Tuesday until Thursday at 11:59pm. Happy cozy-Fall shopping, everyone!

shopbopsale

*Disclaimer: this post promotes our sponsor Shopbop. By clicking on the ad on the right to make any purchases, Cath and I get a small fee — which will help us continue to grow AsianCajuns. Be ready for cha-cha-cha-changes in the near future!

Sister Time

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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!

Lar Hearts Scottish City Life

Lar_Glasgow

By now Lar only has a few more weeks left in Scotland. As much as she hates the lack of sunlight in the winter, she’s going to miss her adopted home of four years so much. When I asked her what she was going to miss the most about living in Edinburgh, she said her friends and coworkers. She and Matt have created a lovely life in Edinburgh and surrounded themselves with amazing people. They’ve also totally become completely at home with the way of life there. Lar walks and takes the bus/train everywhere while Matt bikes to work every day. They live in the center of the city where they’re within a one minute walk of an amazing beer bar (Hanging Bat), corner shops, a coffee shop, pubs, an Indian restaurant, and a chip shop. And they’re totally smitten with how unpretentious and open folks are in general in Scotland.

I have no doubt Lar will create an equally fulfilled life in Seattle, but I imagine this last month won’t be easy. I know she and Matt will make a number of return trips to Scotland and hope they let me tag along when they do 😉

I took the photos in this post while I was visiting two weeks ago. I love how at-home she looks in these photos – but not as much as I love the fact that she’ll be moving back closer to me! (insert maniacal laughter here)

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LarandMatt_machina

Lar_train

LarandMatt_LothianRoad

An Outfit Post!

Denim-shirt

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Shirt H&M (old) | Leggings Marks & Spencer | Shoes Ferragamo

I don’t usually do outift posts anymore. Cath still inspires me with her style posts, but I honestly seem to wear about the same five basic outfits . mainly centred around stretchy trousers.

There are a few reasons for my sartorial shrinkage. Around the time I moved to Scotland four years ago, I really cut back on my shopping. Part of that was just down to having very limited funds after an overseas move (costly things, they are!). I had also started researching how horrendous working conditions are for many of the people who make our mass-produced clothes. I wanted to be more aware of all the stuff I had and think about where my clothes were coming from.

So with all of that, my outfits have become really boring the last few years. And I’m not saying that needs to happen if you start caring about the ethics and environmental effects of your shopping habits, but it did to me. I just really had a lot less interest in having lots of different looks and more interest in buying fewer, higher quality pieces (hence the spendy shoes above — the most expensive items in my closet by far).

I’d love to strike a better balance again where I could be a bit more creative with my style, but still keep my consumer habits humbled. I think these more frugal years in Scotland were an important stage in finding that style and learning about what I could do without very much. My secret hope too is that when we move to Seattle in September, I’ll be able to wear fewer layers year-round than I do here (my next post is all about how I’m still wearing a coat . in the summer — egads, someone pass the vitamin D bottle!).

How do you guys approach the complexities of personal style and consumption?

Sunbathing on a Scottish Beach

bathingroomsNorth-Berwick-ScotlandNorth-Berwickseaside-doorsLobsterruins savoury-muffin beach-chairs by-the-sea  beach-yogi

This past weekend Matt and I took a short train ride east to North Berwick, a lovely little Scottish seaside town. Edinburgh is right on the sea too, but we don’t have a beach and I miss the susurration of waves lapping the sand.

But you can’t be picky when you’re in Scotland. Going to the beach usually means being an intrepid toe-dipper or agreeing to sunbathe in layers — yes, even in spring (and summer!).

We had a beautiful sunny day, but it was wiiiindy! And I shed my winter coat momentarily to take some pics, but generally I was bundled up tight while my hair whipped around my head and I tried not to get it in my butter garlic lobster dipping sauce. A hard life, I know.

Ahhh to be by the sea!

 

Where are my stretchy pants?

Jeans
H&M jacket | (5 yo) Madewell jeans | Cos booties | Baggu leather tote

I’m in a transition phase at the moment. I love a good pair of jeans — nothing revolutionary there — but I’m a little jean-shy these days.

Ever since my first endo surgery almost two years ago, I’ve been a massive fan of leggings because. they are stretchy! Going through two invasive pelvic surgeries in the span of six months meant that anything with a non-spandexy waistband, got shoved to the back of my closet.

It’s now been almost a year and a half since I had my second surgery and I still wear jeans only on occasion. That photo above is from this past weekend. I’d like to say I was contemplating the qualities of suspended flight, but I was actually thinking “oy this waist band needs some elastic in it.” Seriously, I’d love to dress like a five year old all the time: flowy dresses or elastic-waisted trousers. Sounds amazing.

But I’m trying to wear jeans again just because I think part of my hang-up is mental. Leggings have kind of become a comfort blanket to me. And comfort blankets have a purpose, but it’s good to leave them at home once and a while.

Or maybe I’ll just become a yoga teacher and then I can wear my comfy trousers all day long!

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Summer time?

sweater weather
Necklace Novica | top H&M | leggings M&S | boots Cos | bag Fjallraven

So you know how last week Cath was complaining about how hot it was in Atlanta? Well, I was super jelly. I mean, even though I vaguely remember those swelteringly humid days that made it hard for your lungs to work, I can’t help thinking summer heat is amazing! And I know I’m just saying that because I live some place that doesn’t really do summer.

I’m still wearing long sleeves and trousers and a coat most days. The only difference between my spring wardrobe and my full-on winter wardrobe is I allow for a generous amount of ankle sliver (see pic above) and I don’t wear a scarf or gloves with my coat.

If you are a sweater-weather fan, Scotland is the place for you. Our winters aren’t too cold (but boy are they long and dark) and you can wear layers year round. Yes, year round! Summer is jacket-weather except for those few blissful days (and I mean days, not weeks) where the heat breaks just over 70 degrees . and even then you’ll probably need a jacket at some point because it does still cool down at night.

I’m sure that all must sound heavenly to you guys fighting it out in the heat right now. And I do feel incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful city where even cockroaches don’t dare to tread. I know I will miss this stoney, shadowy silhouette of Edinburgh when I’m living in the freshly scrubbed Pacific Northwest. I will romanticise Scottish rain (because it’s totally different to Seattle rain) and I’ll miss the history and the stoic dreichness of this beautiful place. But, in the meantime, I miss the heat and the sun and the lack of a true summer.

Billy Connelly was so right when he said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.”  And when he says “June” he means “kind of Spring, but not even.”

Good luck with whichever weather you are facing now: sweater or sweat-er. And tell me how you’re coping!

KonMari Your Purse

purse

Dear Cath

You know how last fall I KonMari Method-ed our flat? Well, that Marie Kondo did not lie about her tidying magic. Our flat still stays tidy most of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to put things away — there always seems to be mail sitting on the coffee table or a lone sock sqiuggling its way free of the laundry basket. But the difference is that now there is a place for it all to be put away. And it feels so satisfying! That leads me to this KonMari suggestion:

rule1

I was so resistant to this idea when I first read her book. I thought, “Marie, I’m with you on the getting rid of stuff and the tidying and the empathizing with your socks, but I draw the line at emptying out my purse every night!” My logic was that I need the same stuff in my purse almost every single day: wallet, lippie, tissues, phone, etc. That never changes so why should I just move that stuff around from one spot to another. That just sounded like one more thing I had to do every night after a long day at work.

But even with all my reasoning, I caved and listened to Marie because she was so right about everything else (my socks feel so happy now — I know it!). But I still felt a little grumpy about the whole thing. Come home, hang up coat, and unpack purse.

But the thing is, she was right. I didn’t realise how much extra stuff I accumulated in my purse day-to-day. Even though I’ve always carried a big purse, I always told myself I knew what was in there. Lies, lies! There are those extra bobby pins hiding in the inner pocket and those crunched up receipts that provide a nice crinkly cushion to my wallet. And the worst culprit? That junior mint that snuck out of its box at the movies and got cozy with the bottom of my purse (and everything else within reach of its deliciously minty gooey centre — curses!).

Now that I empty my purse every night, I never forget things that I need that day (and have never had another junior mint episode). I thought the opposite would happen because I used to like to pack my bag at night so in the morning I wouldn’t have to think about what goes in it. Turns out, thinking about it in the morning is better — I’ve never forgotten anything yet. How does this never-forgetting-magic work? Enter: the purse box:

Kon Mari purse organizing

Because this is the KonMari method, you need a dedicated place to put all your purse items. Marie suggests having a shoe box in your chest-of-drawers or on a shelf. I keep mine next to my sock box in a drawer (yes, a sock box). This felt so weird when I first started doing it, but now I can’t imagine not having a purse box. Here’s what it looks like in said drawer (note tidy method sock-folding still intact after 5 months of beginning KonMari):

Kon Mari purse

You’ll notice that my purse items consist of smaller bags. Cath, I learned that from you! I put extra bits like eyedrops, lipstick, bobby pins and perfume. That makes it so much easier to take things out every night: keeping things together in smaller bags.

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I’ve used the silver Claire Vivier pouch that you gave me for years — it’s the perfect size.

Kon Mari AsianCajuns

Oh and this is my new Baggu tote I got a few weeks ago. I love it! Made in the USA with leather sourced in Argentina, it’s like buttah! It’s the perfect size and I don’t actually lose things at the bottom. The straps are the perfect length to swing on your arm without worrying about it catching on your elbow (that should have a name — the elbow swing test).

I know to some people all this tidying sounds extreme, but it has really helped me stay on top of my clutter in my house and in my purse. I feel less frantic living with less clutter. Overall, whenever I follow any of Marie Kondo’s tips, even if they sound silly or extreme at first, I feel much calmer once they are in place and I’ve gotten used to the weirdness of them.

Love you more than Marie Kondo loves reused shoe boxes!

Lar

Hair-story: kinda wavy to kinda curly

curly hair

Dear Readers,

You know that hair the “it” girls have these days? It’s fairly straight with just a hint of wave and volume in just the right places? It’s the key to the insouciant off-duty model style and somehow seems bedheady without even a whiff of frizz.

That is the opposite of what my hair does.

Cath and I have had very thick, slightly wavy hair since we were about 13. Like most people, our hair texture changed when we hit puberty. As wee lassies we had very long, straight hair. I’ve always liked the bit of wave I got once I was older, but I usually would blow dry and straighten it to kill the frizz and not have to worry about the volume getting out of control.

About two to three years ago I noticed my hair was getting dryer and my trusty hair straightener wasn’t taming the fly-aways like it used to. I blamed it on the Scottish water and Scottish wind (when in doubt, blame the weather!) because I figured moving from Atlanta to a place with a considerably different climate would wreck any girls usual hair routine.

I persevered though — more heat! More oils! More hair masks! And still I had a halo of frizz that seemed to get more, not less, tenacious. I also started to notice my hair curling in loose tendrils instead of just “S” waves when I would give my hair a break from heat tools.

The past three weeks I’ve put my blowdryer and straightener away to see what my hair would do left to its own devices. And by “left to its own devices” I mean I googled “how to style curly hair” daily to figure out what to do with this frizzy lion’s mane. And, man, does it want to curl.

This hair story probably sounds really undramatic, but having your hair change is a bit mind-blowing. At times when I look down at my curls I feel like I’m wearing a wig — that’s not my hairs! I send Cath constant texts with pictures of the status of my hair: day two, less frizz, slept with it in a pineapple (I had never heard of pinappling hair before last week). It’s just a bizarre experience that I feel compelled to share with the one person who not only knows me so well, but also used to share my exact same hair.

That’s what makes it even more bizarre — my genetic identical no longer looks like me. Cath’s hair waves but doesn’t curl, and it looks way more slick when she straightens it.

So using Cath as a constant, I think we can say my hair change is environmental, not biological or at least not congenitally biological. I do live on a different continent and eat a different diet from Cath. I changed my diet (mainly vegan and tons more green stuff) drastically when I moved over here three years ago. My endometriosis was also getting much more severe (and was much more severe than Cath’s is now, thank goodness!). So maybe diet and hormones are having their say (Curly! Curly! Curly!).

Quite honestly, a year and a half ago when I was hospitalised because of the complications I had from endo, I thought the stress and the pain of the experience would change my hair. I was expecting a lot of it to fall out (and it did thin out for a while) and/or maybe even go grey. Curly was not on the list of things I thought might happen.

And I do kind of like to think that all that’s happened: the good (beautiful Scotland) and the bad (hospital stays) and the different (I wasn’t even vegetarian before I went vegan) maybe all contributed to this change.

So the question is, have you guys had this experience? Or have your friends? There’s been very little scientific research about this (I know because I’ve been a-Googlin’ like crazy) so it’s great to talk to other women and hear their “hair-story.” I’d love to hear yours!

Xoxox and curls,

Lar

p.s. Cath, I hope you aren’t getting sick of hearing about my hair bafflement! I promise I’ll start culling the curly hair What’s App pics.