Although I bypass many formalities of traditional travel during my virtual ventures, I like to pretend that I’ll be boarding a flight. This means packing my virtual suitcase, listening to music by artists from my destination country, and establishing a list of places that interest me. (Lately, I’ve been expanding my Italian playlist beyond Pavarotti.) Although I’ve been to the capital city of Rome before, I haven’t visited other areas within the Metropolitan City of Rome. Visiting Nonna seemed like the perfect place to start.
Here are a few online sources that helped me visualize this medieval town and the people I’ll soon be meeting:
I’ve spent an unbelievable amount of time shopping for footwear to wear around the house; I needed something backless that didn’t require any effort to put on or remove. Prior to the current state of things, I would change into flip-flops at the end of every workday. I’d wear them from the time I returned home until the time I went to bed. In the fourteen years that I’ve worn them in this fashion, the style has never caused me any issues. Things started to go downhill this year once quarantining became a reality. After assuming my new role as a homebody, I began to wear flip-flops more often.
When considering a shoe to wear indoors, I know now that flip-flops aren’t the answer. I speak from experience when I say that wearing flip-flops constantly over a long period of time will cause damage to your feet. Thank goodness I was able to reverse mine. Heed this warning: you may not be so lucky.
In my quest to discover why flip-flops are so damaging, I came across the website of a leading New York podiatrist named Dr. Miguel Cunha. His practice, Gotham Footcare, has two locations: one on 5th Ave and another on Broadway. Not only has Dr. Cunha lent his knowledge to outlets like Health magazine, PopSugar, and Refinery29, but he also writes blog posts to benefit the general public.
As you can see, I’ve worn my mules outside for photo-taking purposes. I wiped the soles down later for the sake of cleanliness. Although I love how they shine in the sunlight, I don’t wear backless shoes outside unless I’m leaving the nail salon or going through airport security. They’re not appropriate to wear whilst actively working towards my daily Fitbit goal.
Adequate sportswear is fundamental to a successful workout. When it comes to shoes, there are a few things that make me cringe: shoes that need to be resoled, price stickers left on the bottom of shoes, and people who workout in shoes that aren’t sneakers. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a woman wearing clogs to my spin class. In the same vein, I was beside myself when two women showed up to my yoga class wearing the clothes they’d worn to work that morning.
Not only does dressing appropriately for the gym serve a practical purpose, but it also raises your confidence. You should invest in pieces that make you feel invincible during the activities in which you choose to partake. I like yoga, interval training, walking outside, and running on the treadmill. I used to wear old tee shirts whilst exercising, but those days are far behind me.
Starting your athletic wear collection is similar to developing your personal style. Begin by trying on tights and tops from a variety of brands. I favor Athleta and Lululemon. Take note of the activities for which each piece is intended. For example, Athleta’s contender tight is suitable for high and medium impact workouts, and I often wear this style to fitness sessions with my personal trainer.
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection and determined which items would suit your favorite activities, the next step is simple. Acquire a week’s worth of workout wear (gradually, if you must). Having to do laundry in the middle of the week isn’t ideal (you’re busy enough). You don’t need any excuse not to exercise on a regular basis.
I bought my Fitbit Alta HR in September 2018. I have to say, our two years together have been quite productive. First and foremost, it helped me get the most out of my gym membership. I joined my current fitness center (now temporarily closed) in July 2017. Prior to wearing my Fitbit, I felt obligated to visit the gym every day and to maximize every workout to its fullest potential. That was too much pressure, so I hardly went at all.
After I started tracking my physical activity, I realized that every step I took improved my overall fitness. I initially set my goal to 10,000 steps (~4.25 miles) a day but raised it to 15,000 (~6.25 miles) one month later. The walks to and from the gym and on the treadmill were opportunities to get more steps. The thrill of meeting my daily goal incentivized me to take walks at every opportunity. Determined to see the victory rocket fly across the screen before midnight, I’d pace in my kitchen or hallway in the evening. (In fact, I’m pacing in my kitchen as I draft this post on my phone.)
My steps serve as the base of my daily physical activity. Unfortunately, I stopped using my Fitbit for about four months whilst getting acclimated to working from home. I’ve since recommitted. Oh, how I’ve missed its benefits: lower resting heart rate, pounds easily lost, and toning in unexpected places. I’ve started back up with a goal of 10,000 but anticipate aiming higher when the time is right.
Establishing a color palette is an essential aspect of developing your personal style. A wardrobe’s palette is made up of base colors, accent colors, and patterns (note: I’m not going to acknowledge prints on this blog unless they’re on silk scarves). The base colors are the ones that appear in your lineup most often. Unless you are Elle Woods, your base colors are probably neutrals (as they should be). Their job is to anchor your outfits while the accent colors and patterns add interest to the mix.
If you’ve read Develop Your Personal Style with These 3 Habits, you’ll recall that you can discover a lot about your clothing preferences by window shopping. To uncover your color palette, observe the hues that appear in your wardrobe. If you are overhauling your closet, think about your ideal clothing selection. Rank the colors according to quantity in a hierarchy pyramid. Whatever color(s) you see on the bottom of your pyramid is the base of your palette. The colors that appear less often are the accent colors. I’ll illustrate this point using my own palette as an example.
Blue, specifically navy, is my primary base color, followed by black. I incorporate white, cream, camel, and grey into my wardrobe too, but I don’t consider them base colors per se. They exist somewhere between the base and accent categories. I’d wear all navy or all black but probably wouldn’t wear a monochrome outfit in white, cream, camel, or grey. My true accent colors are purple, pink, red, and (occasionally) green. The shades I favor within these five color groups pair well with one or both of my base colors. The same is true for my selection of stripes, seersucker, gingham, and occasional polka dot.
Establishing the base colors of your wardrobe will make getting dressed a lot easier. Not only is navy the primary base of my palette, but it is also the one I feel most powerful in. It’s not out of character for me to wear five navy dresses in one week. In fact, I’ve even been know to wear the same dress on two consecutive days, washing it in a bucket between wears.
I always end up mentioning Hearts and Found to strangers who compliment me on my Madeline dress. This style suits me so well that I own it in five colors: light grey, black, navy, red, and lavender. Although the Vietnam-based shop offers designs in standard sizes (these are returnable), the tailors will produce custom sizes upon request. All of my Madeline dresses were sewed with my measurements in mind. You may think it’s risky to order a nonreturnable dress that you can’t be fitted for, and I’d agree. But, I decided to do it anyway.
I discovered Hearts and Found on Etsy in 2016 when I was in the market for a new A-line skirt. The Lola skirt was the first item I purchased from the shop, but I bought my first dress shortly after that. Ordering the skirt was less of a risk because, with the exception of the length, the tailor only required the waist measurement to make it. Ordering the skirt first gave me an opportunity to see the fabric and the brand’s craftsmanship before committing to a more expensive purchase. I’d give the sewing 4.5 out of 5 stars; the imperfections are really minute.
I measured myself several times before ordering the Madeline dress. I even had a friend double-check my results. When I submitted the order online, I made sure to type the measurements correctly. Shortly after submitting them, the shop confirmed the numbers with me prior to the production stage (an added layer of precaution indeed).
My grey Madeline dress arrived three or four weeks after I’d placed the order, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it fit. I ordered four more (although, not all at once). Before you run to get your measuring tape, we have to go over a few points. The first Madeline dress I ordered is essentially the Elizabeth dress with two bows on the back (a component of the Madeline style). It has a sweetheart neckline instead of the bateau featured in Madeline’s description. Perhaps the tailor made the executive decision to construct my dress this way because he/she thought it would be flattering. I didn’t ask questions because I was pleased with the product. I order my second and third dresses in navy and black, and they arrived with the bateau neckline. Once again, the fit was perfect.
Things started to get a little dicey with my fourth and fifth dresses, which I ordered in red and lavender. The first, second, and third dresses all have adjustable straps. Each strap has two buttonholes, and I decide which one to pair with the corresponding button on the inside of the dress. Although I always wear the straps at their shortest length, having the option to adjust them gives me peace of mind. If the tailor in Vietnam had made any error with the length of the straps, the adjustable feature would have enabled me or a tailor stateside to sew the straps to the dress with ease.
The red and lavender dresses were too small and arrived without adjustable straps. The red dress was the smallest of the two, and I couldn’t zip it up. Additionally, the neckline was too high and rested uncomfortably on the base of my neck. I managed to zip up the lavender dress, but it was too tight and the straps were too long.
Communicating with the shop was easy, and we reached a resolution after exchanging several messages. I agreed to pay for shipping, and the shop sent two replacement dresses. They came with adjustable straps (a feature that is now available only by request), but the sizing was still off. I’d added half an inch to my shoulder to waist measurement and 1.75 inches to my bust measurement. I’d gained a little weight, but not so much that the first three dresses (made with the original measurements) didn’t fit. The toros of the replacement dresses were too long and the busts of both garments gapped at the sides.
At present, I have two red and two lavender Madeline dresses hanging in my closet. The original red and lavender dresses suit my current size. I’m planning to have my tailor lower the neckline of the red one and shorten the straps on the lavender one. I’ll have two appropriately-sized dresses at the end of it all. Although I have a few dresses in mind for future orders, I haven’t decided if I’ll be requesting custom sizing or settling for a standard lettered size.