Megan

Basket à la Birkin

You may recall that my Kayu tote played an essential role in my efforts to savor the remainder of summer. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve gotten ample use out of it; I’m now content with moving into autumn. In my search for a simple bag that was appropriate for all seasons, Jane Birkin’s signature straw basket came to mind. The actress purchased the item in Portugal (so the story goes), and it was always seen dangling over her arm. It’s evident from photographs of the singer in the 70s that there wasn’t a place the basket wouldn’t go. It accompanied her on errands, to the seaside, and even on nights out with Serge Gainsbourg. It was with her no matter the season.

I considered a lot of baskets before selecting one of medium size from AlbaATN (on Etsy). It’s lightweight, and I’m pleased with its size and shape. I intend to pair my new addition with outfits that don’t require tights (they’d snag). I’ll certainly bring it on errands that don’t require me to carry too many items (e.g. picking up a lemon or two from the grocery store; not on days when I’m due to retrieve my alterations). I doubt I’ll be carrying it to dinner at Parc, but we’ll see. I’ve personalized the handle with a Ratti-print scarf to give it un certain je ne sais quoi.

Works Sighted

AlbaATN (on Etsy) Jane Birkin basket (medium); J.Crew Ratti print scarf (sold out)

Further Reading

At 70, Jane Birkin’s Style Is More Iconic Than Ever (Vogue)

Upgrade Your Summer Bag Game With Jane Birkin’s Signature Basket (Vogue)

Packing for Palombara Sabina

I’ll be making lasagne with Italian nonnas next month. Yes, I’m leaving Lisbon and heading (by virtual means) to Palombara Sabina, a commune located in the Metropolitan City of Rome (about a 60-minute drive from the capital city of Rome). Pasta with the Grandmas was started by Nonna Nerina and her granddaughter Chiara. As I’ve previously mentioned, prior to the current situation, Airbnb Experiences were only conducted in person.

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:

  • This stunning visual compilation.
  • An aerial view of the hilltop town. (The older part of town is located on the top of the hill, and the newer part of town is situated farther down the hill.)
  • The municipality’s history as stated on its official website.
  • A video by travel vlogger Christine Kaaloa documenting her visit to Palombara Sabina and her experience cooking with Nonna Nerina.
  • An American mom’s commentary on her family’s experience cooking with Nonna Nerina (2:06; previously aired on TV2000).
  • An Italian talk show segment featuring Nonna Nerina and Chiara (previously aired on TV2000).

Works Sighted

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (white); 3.1 Phillip Lim + Space for Giants belted asymmetric pleated cotton-twill skirt; Margaux Demi flats (black)

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (French blue); Officine Générale Kendall belted pleated wool skirt; Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Navy

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (navy); Gucci houndstooth wool-blend tweed wrap skirt; Gucci Marmont logo-embellished leather loafers

J.Crew 2011 icon coat; Cuyana alpaca scarf (heather light grey); Italic Annie mini trunk bag; Longchamp le pliage shoulder bag L (black)

Italic boxy cropped cashmere sweater (ivory); Grace Karin vintage pleated A-line midi skirt (navy); Margaux Demi flats (platinum)

J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen (French blue); Loewe pleated linen and cotton-blend midi skirt; Margaux Demi flats (cerulean)

Slides vs. Flip-Flops

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.

The three most important points that I’ve extracted from his writings concerning the topic of this post are as follows: 1) you should have a pair of indoor shoes 2) wearing flip-flops puts too much pressure on the forefoot and can lead to conditions like hammertoe 3) slides tend to cover a generous portion of the forefoot, which may keep unwanted conditions at bay (provided that you don’t wear them excessively). After months of searching for shoes to wear indoors, I’ve ended up with a pair of gold mules from J.McLaughlin and a pair of slide sandals from J.Crew (the Cyprus sandal in roasted pecan).

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.

Works Sighted

J.McLaughlin mule (no longer available); Spanx Perfect Black Pant, Ankle Backseam Skinny

Why You Should Invest in Sportswear

Athletic

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.

Works Sighted

Old Navy vest (old); Lululemon back in action long sleeve; Athleta contender tight (old); Brooks ghost 11 (old); Fitbit Alta HR; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

My Fitbit Alta HR

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.

How to Establish a Color Palette

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.

Works Sighted: Lauren Ralph Lauren dress (old); Superga 2790 Acotw (navy); J.McLaughlin basket bag; Fitbit Alta HR; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)