My Night with the Barber of Seville – A Met Opera

For my last night in NYC, S. and I got all glammed up and went to see a Met Opera, the Barber of Seville.  It was quite an experience, and not just the part where we were waiting for the D train for 20+ minutes at 1am.  There is something absolutely magical about going to see a live performance: the anticipation on the train, the bright lights of the theater contrasting with the dark night, and most of all the music itself.  This was only my second opera ever, so I was a very lucky novice who got really cheap student seats in the orchestra.  Beyond that, since it was the beginning of fashion week, the excitement and joy in Lincoln Center was almost palpable as we scurried passed the fashion week tents.

The opera itself was very good! Our soprano, Diana Damrau, was absolutely amazing.  She was somehow able to very convincingly channel a love sick sixteen year old Spanish girl while clearly being German and not sixteen.  I was also delighted to find that I knew a lot of the music already, but then again Bugs Bunny always did have a thing for Opera.

Not the best picture, but it was 2:30am and we had just walked a half a mile through the Bronx...

[Dress – Kiyonna ($69); Cardigan – City Chic ($15); Tights – We Love Colors (gift from MIL); Shoes – Madden Girl ($30); Earrings – Sailor Studios (gift from a friend)]

To the opera, I wore my Kiyonna Pin Up Boudoir Lace Dress that I bought last October when Kiyonna was having a 50% off sale.  I had not worn it yet but I knew the elegant black lace would be the perfect for the occasion. (Kiyonna doesn’t appear to stock this particular dress anymore, but they do have this one, which is its twin, a twin with sleeves.)  I paired it with my City Chic Bow Shoulder cardigan because I thought the black and red would look elegant together.  This was the outfit that I had in mind when I decided to pack this red sweater instead of my usual black cardigan.  It was pretty much the perfect outfit, beautiful and very comfortable to sit in for over 2 hours while we watched the performance.  My only complaint is that I didn’t wear enough layers so our late night walk through the Bronx was freezing!  Also, my Madden girl heels need some serious help now. I wore through the caps on my heels and now the pins are visible. At least I now have an excuse to get a new pair of black heels…

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My Trip Packing Philosophy

I am by no means an expert at packing for trips.  Not that I wasn’t taught how to pack, I am, after all, a Girl Scout and learning how to pack your own bag for a camping trip was a big deal.  I learned some good tips: roll your socks and put them in your shoes to save space, keep whole outfits together in plastic bags, always bring extra pants because you will end up having a mud/food/water fight and if you don’t remember your poncho you will be forced to wear a trash bag with holes cut out for your head and arms to go through.  Okay, that might sound like torture but it was really fun; the point is, I was actually taught how to pack for trips, and yet, by the time I went to college I had lost all reason when it came to packing.  Actually, it wasn’t until 2009, when I spent a month in Rome and had to pack everything I was bringing for the trip into one piece of carry on luggage, that I realized I had a problem.

You see, I’m a notorious over-packer.  I always managed to stuff my suitcase with skirts that I never wore and tops that were completely impractical for whatever I was doing while away.  Since my visit to NYC coincided with Mercedes Benz Fashion week, I knew that I would be tempted to bring the most impractical outfits for the sake of “being fashionable.”  I do after all, have a blog.  So I sat myself down and really thought about the trip.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the real point of my journey was to hang out with my best friend and help her think through wedding things and honestly I didn’t need to look fancy to do that.  I did know that I was going to the Opera so I would need one fancy dress and heels, but since S. lives a mile from the D train there would also be lots of walking, including walking around museums, so most of my outfits needed to be practical.  Also, I needed to consider the fact that my first and last days of the trip would be spent running around the city carrying my luggage since a trip to the Bronx to drop it off would take us about 2 hours.

So I packed lightly, although I still manged to bring one too many pairs of shoes. I though I would share with you some of my wisdom with you.

  1. As I said above, consider what you will be doing on  your trip. — If you are going to the Opera, bring an appropriate outfit.  If you are, on the other hand, going to be painting a friend’s house, bring clothes you care less about.
  2. Create a “uniform.” — For New York, my uniform was jeans (black or blue) and a loose fitting but nice looking shirt paired with my oxfords and topped with a red cardigan.  (This did make for an awkward moment when I realized I had on a pink shirt with hearts and a red sweater a week from Valentine’s day.)
  3. Get good insoles for your shoes.  — This is only really an issue if you are wearing non-tennis shoes or if you are wearing old tennis shoes. I picked up these at my local Target and they were amazing!  I chose insoles that had some real structure as opposed to being squishy since my oxford’s don’t have that much arch support. Honestly, insoles are amazing and they are made for all sorts of shoes now a days, even heels, so if you are going to be walking do yourself a favor and buy some.
  4. Consider the weather. — Yes, this one is trite but I spent an afternoon running around stores unsuccessfully looking for a knit hat because I had woefully under packed for New York winter.  I just assumed that NYC was having a mild winter like DC but I was wrong and cold.
  5. Don’t Over pack. —  I found that packing just enough clothes made my life so easy.  There was no agonizing about what to wear in the morning, instead I got up, got ready and was off on my adventures quickly.

And my final advice, always pack sunscreen, even if its wintertime, because protecting your skin when you are out and about frolicking is really very important.

A Day at the Met

My trip to New York was a much needed and very welcome vacation. I can’t believe I have already been back for two weeks!  I resolved this year to stop complaining about missing people and instead go visit them and I started with my dear friend S. who lives in the Bronx. She’s getting married this summer and so we spent a large part of the trip relaxing in her apartment talking about the wedding (or on buses or the subway talking about her wedding.)  Although I probably would have been content to drink coffee and eat Italian food from Arthur Ave all weekend while we discussed dresses, flowers, and wedding showers, S. had to teach on Friday so I shuttled off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see another dear friend C. who is interning there.

So after a wonderful lunch where C. and I caught up on each others’ lives, including our husbands and puppies who were both friends in Atlanta, I spent a few (5+) hours wandering around the Museum.  The problem with the Met is that there is no possible way for you to look at all of the wonderful art collected there in one day! I had to settle for visiting some of my favorite pieces housed there and accept the fact that I would have to come back to visit the other areas.  I spent a bunch of time visiting the Egyptian art, because William is adorable, and in the European Painting Galleries because EVERY SINGLE ROOM had something amazing in it. As soon as I was tired and ready to head for the exit and visit a different gallery I would find a room full of Vermeer paintings, or Caravaggio, or Rubens and so on.

Then I made my way to the Renaissance Portrait Exhibit, which was absolutely fantastic.  It was very big! Much larger than I was expecting, even though I was warned. The Botticelli, “Ideal Portrait of a Lady” was particularly beautiful, but then again, I do have a soft spot in my heart for early Renaissance portraits of women from Florence.  Maybe one of the most interesting parts of the exhibit was the diverse crowd of people that had gathered to enjoy it; young artists and students sketched paintings and busts beside aged Italian men who argued about the merits of the Medici control of Florence.  If you are in the NYC area I would highly recommend you go see it, and soon; the exhibit closes in a few weeks on March 18th.

Before I made my way upstairs to visit the painting, I did get lost in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Galleries only to end up in the snazzy new bathrooms of the remodeled American Art Galleries where I snapped this quick photo of myself in the mirror.

[Shirt – City Chic ($12.80), Pants – Torrid ($36), Shoes – Miz Mooz Oxfords($50), Purse – Marshall’s($25), unseen – Super awesome insoles ($15)]

This was my uniform while I was in New York, except, of course, for the night we went to the Opera.  I purposefully packed light so it wouldn’t take me forever to get dressed in the morning and so that I would have small luggage to tote around the city with me on the first and last days of my stay. (More on how and what I packed in a post later this week.) This outfit was nothing fancy but it did hold up to miles of walking, was super comfortable, and did not fall into the “terrible tourist wearing a t-shirt and tennis shoes” category that I was so desperately trying to avoid.

Strawberry and mint margarita, over-priced and delicious.

When S. was done teaching she joined me for a drink on the balcony where we listened to live music and people watched. Overall, a wonderful day in the city.

Valentine’s Day Pt. 2 OOTD

My husband and I have a tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day twice. It started on our first Valentine’s day when we had just started dating in college. I had a huge Latin test the next day and needed to spend the majority of Valentine’s night studying my translations, so  I decided to make a quick spaghetti dinner for us in Bot’s dorm kitchen to celebrate and we would do a “real” dinner later in the week.  Thus the tradition began, two Valentine’s days, the first is always a simple(ish) Italian meal made at home and the second is a nice dinner out.  This is what I wore for Valentine’s Day Pt. 2 this year.

Looking at the pictures Bot took with my Iphone.

[DressMonif C (Christmas gift from MIL); Tights – We Love Colors (Christmas Gift from MIL); Heels – Merona/Target ($9); Instant Sleeves – Lucie Lu ($22); Headband – NY&C ($15ish?)]

I absolutely love this Monif C dress! I begged, pleaded and bargained for it as soon as it went for sale on Monif C’s site. I loved how dramatic it is with the black velvet, lace and gold and I stalked it online.  But Bot and I had just revamped our plan to pay off our debt and the end of my car payment was within my sight so I resisted purchasing.  Then before Christmas, Bot kept dropping hints about the big gift he had gotten me and I dared to hope again. On Christmas morning, when we first opened gifts, there was no dress.  Other fabulous presents, but no dress.  I wasn’t disappointed because, let’s be honest, it was Christmas morning and I was surrounded by my family and many fabulous things.  So, later that day, when Bot and I headed to his parent’s house to celebrate, I was snuggled on my In-Law’s floor, basking in the presence of the whole family together for Christmas this year and opening presents with reckless abandon, I did not expect the soft velvet of this dress to slip over my hands.  Let’s just say I freaked out. Maybe not outwardly, because I am aware that a grown woman screaming and jumping up and down in excitement about a Christmas present is a bit much, but inwardly I was stomping my feet and screaming my head off.

The dress is everything I hoped for. It is so dramatic without being too over the top. I wore it to Valentine’s dinner Pt 2 at our favorite Thai Restaurant and while I was certainly more dressy than everyone else there, I was by no means over dressed. Looking at these photos, I thought maybe I should have gone with a size 3 (22/24) as opposed to the 2 (18/20) you see me in because the dress clings to my hips a bit much.  However, it fits perfectly in the chest and I’m afraid the 3 would have been loose there.  I added my Lucie Lu Instant sleeves because VA weather was attempting to be a bit like winter this week, though not enough to necessitate a coat until the sun went down. Otherwise, I kept the outfit simple wearing no jewelry other than my wedding rings and a simple headband in order to let the dress take center stage and shine.

Gratuitous Instagram shot.

Many Thanks to my Mom and Dad (in Law) who made this outfit possible. Love you both!

New York, New York, Here I Come

This week I’m visiting the bright lights of New York City for the first time ever. I know, I know, it is kind of blasphemy that I’ve lived in Virginia for the majority of my life and haven’t been to the Big Apple.  One of my best friends has been living there for three years and I haven’t been to see her yet.  It is tragic, I know. Since I am finally working on remedying this fact, all I can think about is what I want to do and see in the city.

It might surprise you that my daydreams have little to nothing to do with fashion or shopping.  I figure I would share with you my top things to do in New York, in case any of you will be in town this week and looking to escape the crowds of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

  1. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Not only is it one of the best museums in the world but it also currently has an exhibit on Renaissance Portraiture. Take a break from 21st century ideals of glamor and beauty to admire the lushly painted brocades and fantastic hair styles of the 15th.
  2. Take time to savor some really great coffee – find a local, Italian run coffee shop.  I’m told that the quality of the espresso is directly proportional to the number of old Italian men in the store.
  3. Visit the Cloisters – Yes, I’m staying within the Met family here but honestly after all of that rushing to and fro wouldn’t it be nice to chill in a very peaceful place for a few hours? And bonus, I bet you could take some excellent outfit photos there.
  4. Visit the Frick Collection – Are you shaking your head in dismay at yet another museum? Well, before you give up on me consider that the Frick is currently showing an exhibit about Renoir’s full-length paintings.  Not only are Renoir’s portraits my favorite thing about Impressionism, but comparing the impressionist ladies clothing to the outfits walked on the runway that day could make for an engaging and probably hilarious afternoon.
  5. Take in a Show – I am going to get all glammed up and see Il Barbiere di Siviglia, at the Met, with my best friend. If you are not a fan of opera then head to Broadway, or Off-Broadway or one of the thousand other performances that will be happening this weekend.

I’ll see you all next week with some post for NY.

The Outfit that Almost Never Was

I normally have two types of outfits, the ones that I just threw on because I needed to put on clothes (and those are not not particularly share worthy) and then there are those that I laboriously put together (which is normally what you see in these posts.)   But then, out of no where, I walked into my room one day and pulled these pieces out of my closet and put together this outfit, and it was just that easy.

[Shirt – Actually a dress from Forever 21+ ($30ish?); Skirt – H&M (found in my boxes of forgotten clothes); Jacket – Torrid (Christmas Gift from Bot); Heels – Madden Girl ($30); Necklace – Yochi (Gift from Bot); Bracelet (found in my jewelery box, honestly I have no idea)]

This is an outfit mysteriously made up of gifts, hidden gems from the back of my closet and my trusty black heels.   The bottom half of the dress is a grey pencil skirt that is a little too tight so it acted more like a shaping slip for this outfit.  I think there is something about the combination of the cowl neck top, structured blazer, and floofy lace that works really well.

I’ve recommended at least once on this blog that everyone should regularly go through their own closet and clean out old clothes that they haven’t worn in a while or that no longer fit.  Well, obviously I did not follow my own advice.  If I had, I would not have found this beautiful H&M skirt squirreled away in a box of unworn clothes from high school.  Still, I wouldn’t recommend hiding clothes from yourself for over ten years but in this particular case it worked out for me.

Sorry for my absence the past week or two I am busy planning for my upcoming trip to New York.  It’s difficult to be a minimal packer when traveling to one of the most fabulous cities in the world.