Leggings: A Basic that Doesn't have to be "Basic"

 

Madewell knit leggings. Outfit one: TNA Brisco shirt, Aritzia. Madewell Outbound jacket (water resistant version). Nike Skateboarding snapback. Chelsea boots, TJ Maxx (similar here). Outfit two: Tommy Hilfiger button down (old). Madewell Transport tote. Sanctuary faux fur vest (similar here). Kendra Scott Elle earrings, c/o. H&M boots.

 

     Before my trip to the UK last January, I went shopping to find a few cold weather basics that I could easily pack in my suitcase and not get sick of in my three weeks of travel. Although the trip was a few months away when hitting up the Black Friday sales, my mom and I looked around J. Crew during their 25% off everything deal of the day. I picked up a pair of ponte leggings to try on that actually had a side zipper and more than three seams. Hey, they were almost pants.

      As a die hard lover of all things denim, going from raw Imogene + Willie skinny jeans to a stretchy pair of "pants" just wasn't going to happen that day. They were just not structured enough for me, and obviously way too long. I've worked retail myself, and I happen to know that J. Crew employees do get commission pay, so I didn't roll my eyes when the girl helping me suggested that I could hem them.

     Instead, almost a year later, I stumbled across a pair of knit leggings at Madewell during my trip to New York that fit perfectly. I didn't care if I wore them to do laundry and nothing else. But slowly, the idea of pairing them with more than just lounge wear started to worm its way into my mind.

     I know. There are much more important debates in the world than whether or not leggings are pants. But with a favorite insult of my generation being to call someone "basic"...I proceeded with caution. First leggings, then next thing you know I'm wearing over-sized long sleeve tees and Nikes while ordering a pumpkin spice latte. There's nothing wrong with those things and I stand by that. But I've never been able to make the whole leggings-as-pants thing feel organic to my style.

     It took me a while. I reached for my favorite black skinny jeans instead of the leggings to get the same look. But finally, one morning when I got up for my 9:30 class at 9:15 (small campus perks), I threw on this flannel that I literally wear everywhere and leggings and called it a morning.

     Now that I've shown myself that both the explorer/90s bro vibes and the more put together side of my style can be satisfied with leggings, I'm willing to experiment a little bit more. These are actually two of my favorite outfits of late which just goes to show that getting out of your sartorial comfort zone can be beneficial.

(Almost) Sweater Weather

 

Loomis sweater, c/o Addison (available here). Slouchy pants, TJMaxx (similar). Tote bag, Madewell (free gift with purchase). Steve Madden Galleria platform.

 

     In Tennessee, it isn't truly sweater weather until late October. Yes, we will get teaser days of sixty degree weather. I bask in those. I've finally come to the realization that I might be better suited for somewhere with weather akin to the Pacific Northwest...rainy and cool most of the time. Instead, I'm graced with temperatures in the seventies well into what is considered fall.

     On one of the cooler mornings recently, I was pleased to be able to pull out this sweater from New York based contemporary brand Addison. As with their entire collection, the sweater is a more luxurious twist on a simple cream colored number. While I chose to dress it up a bit with slouchy trousers and heels, I can just as easily see this paired with lace up boots and jeans.

     I know I'll probably rue the day when actual winter finally rolls around, but there are so many separates in my wardrobe that beg for cooler temperatures. Changing favorite seasons with age is an interesting phenomenon; after all, as I get closer to entering a world where summers aren't all vacation, I prefer fall and winter (and especially the clothes that come with those seasons).

American Spirit

 

Women's Cardigan Sweater, Target. BDG Twig High-Rise Jean, Urban Outfitters. J Crew denim popover (similar). R. Riveter Reveille collection crossbody, c/o. Trask Madison boots, c/o.

 

     My mother was in town for just one weekend until I get to see her again for the holidays. She came to my last cross country race on this great campus and afterwards, I got to show her one of my favorite spots in the world. It's a bit rough around the edges, this old wood shed. But the walk we took to get there reminded me of what a good life it is. We swung our hands together and sang along to country music while the last few hours of autumn light lit my memories on fire. We talked about what we wanted, what we had, and mostly how proud we were of each other.

     This instance, more so than any over hyped media scandal or bloated statistic about how wrong America is at something, encapsulates the American spirit to me. It's a sense of optimism about where we are going and pride for where we came from. It's a new version of the old American dream, where instead of a white picket fence and a two car garage, people want to create companies, content, and lives that contribute something.

     R. Riveter is one such company. I first spotted the bags at shopSCAD on vacation about three years ago. What caught my eye was the earthy tones and sturdy construction of the bags. No nonsense attitude but with beautiful aesthetics. After leaving the store empty handed, I did my research and became even more determined to own a bag. You see, not only are R. Riveter bags made in the US, but every employee is a military spouse.

     The name, as you probably guessed, stems from Rosie the Riveter. Despite Rosie being a fictionalization of so many women during the WWII era, I grew up considering her something of a role model. R. Riveter was founded on the "We can do it!" attitude and seeks to allow military spouses meaningful and gainful employment despite being relocated so often. The handbags themselves are made from recycled military materials such as duffel bags and shelter halves.

     In 2014, they've been finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made awards as well as the West Elm Local grant (you can vote for them here). I'm pleased to be collaborating them to promote their Kickstarter campaign. There's a week left to donate and with some seriously killer pledge rewards, I highly recommend checking out the campaign. After all, isn't supporting the American spirit in others part of the spirit itself?