Sleepy Chic | Put-Together (And Comfortable) in Pitaya

I’ve reached an interesting new point in stress, where if I could wear a cable-knit cocoon nonstop, I would. Without hesitation, I would crawl into my fuzzy cocoon and stumble about my life like some parade entertainment or a Nick Cave sculpture. My hair would be in an unwashed braid, my eyes would be free of the ever-annoying mascara, and my feet would be engulfed in those aloe-infused slipper-socks.

But I can’t have that.

You wanna know what else I can’t have? An affordable wedding, apparently. We’re about one week into wedding planning, and I’ve already been priced out of nearly every venue in the greater St. Louis area — and since the venue determines the date, I can’t move forward with anything else. It. Is. Frustrating. Like, really frustrating. I’ve gotten at least two nausea-inducing price quotes and am sure I’ll hear more. Hand me a tissue and/or pour me a double, because there are few ways to deal with extreme frustration like this that don’t involve panic-tears or panic-booze. For now, all I really want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for the next twelve or so hours.

But I can’t do that.

Nope, I’ve got to go to work. Oh, work! Don’t you always get in the way of everything! Going to work means not sleeping in and not wearing a knit cocoon, no matter how much you want to. And I’ve got to keep looking for venues; there are a few promising leads, and the venue is sort of a big part of the wedding, so I can’t really skip it. No cocoon I guess… If I have to get dressed, the only thing I want is an easy, comfortable outfit — like the office version of the knit cocoon.

That I can handle. Enter the shirt dress.

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (2)

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (5)

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (3)

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (6)

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (4)

Pitaya Denim Shirt Dress Outfit with Boots and Leopard (1)

Currently wearing… Shirt dress c/o Pitaya [SIMILAR] | Belt, second-hand | Oryany bag, c/o Anthropologie [HERE] | Boots, Steve Madden [SIMILAR]  | Bangle, vintage | Earrings, c/o Pitaya

If shirt dresses were a product that required advertising, the slogan would be Shirt Dress – Because Society Frowns on Cocoons. Damn society, always ruining the fun.

Despite my current disdain for real attire, I’m obsessed with my new shirt dress. I recently picked up this chambray beauty (complete with un-pictured tie belt) at Pitaya in the Delmar Loop. I’ve worn this shirt dress twice this week: once belted and once with a loose summer dress layered on top, because I just wasn’t feeling snug anything that day. This frock is multi-season and can be accessorized or simply put on. It barely wrinkles, matches everything, and is perfectly soft. Talk about a wardrobe staple.

In case you don’t believe me, let me end with this: I recently wore the dress from the office to shopping with a friend, then accidentally fell asleep in it with the lights on because it’s that comfortable. I’m about to go to bed and I don’t really care if I find pajamas because of this mad-rad comfort. Don’t you wish you could say that about your pencil skirt?

Comfort, ahoy! (I need some sleep.)

How I Planned my Own Surprise Engagement Party

As this is a fashion blog, I suppose this post could be labeled as an accessories feature — specifically jewelry. But there’s a little more to it than that.

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I would estimate I spend about one-third of my time writing. I write blog posts and I write articles; I write social media promotions, headlines, newsletters, and to-do lists. I write enough that I feel bewildered and short-of-breath when I truly can’t figure out how to write something.

That’s how I feel now. And ironically, that’s how I felt when the story I’d like to tell you took place.

After eight days of pondering leads and format, I’ve determined that the only logical route is the straight-forward path, from start to end. To do so, I need the addition of one extra voice: that of my now-fiancé and boyfriend for more than five years, Lance Cain.

Please enjoy the tale of how I accidentally planned my own surprise engagement party.

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Preface…

In 2011, I once said to Lance, “If and when that time should ever come, you’d have to get me a ring,” to which he replied, “I was going to get you engagement socks!” We have referenced the joke on a regular basis since.

From Julia’s perspective…

“We should throw Lance a surprise birthday party.” That’s what a mutual friend mentioned sometime in November. He talked about how great it would be to really celebrate his birthday — everyone is out of town on Dec. 27, so it has been low-key in the past! — and that we should get a surprise party in the works.

From Lance’s perspective…

That was me. That was all me. In an effort to plan surprise party-Inception, I recruited a few friends to plant the idea in Julia’s party-adoring brain. She’d never turn down an excuse to play hostess — and it meant the decor and food would be taken care of perfectly.

From Julia’s perspective…

After picking a date, I called up as many of Lance’s friends as I thought could fit in our apartment, including a few from out-of-town. I wrote them detailed instructions — complete with notes about all texts being deleted — regarding time and food. Oddly enough, no one ever seemed to have any questions, even when I gave confusing directions regarding parking. After all, nothing gives away a surprise party faster than a million cars out front!

From Lance’s perspective…

I knew who she would invite, but to make sure I didn’t forget to tell anyone, I had to recruit her mother. Susan waited to hear from Julia about the party, and then nonchalantly asked about the guest list from time to time. She’d then report back to me, and I’d fill in the unsuspecting guest with the real details.

In case you were wondering, calling friends and asking, “So I hear you’re coming to my surprise party?” is a great way to create an awkward silence.

From Julia’s perspective… 

Lance’s friends took him out for a bro-brunch, of sorts; I advised they go see an action flick, but apparently brunch was the less obvious option. (This puzzled me deeply, but I was too busy to think about it.) Friends Sara and Josh picked up the ice cream cake, while Joe and Becky grabbed some food on their way. I used the empty hour to clean — I couldn’t fully clean until he left, out of fear he’d grow suspicious — and decorate.

When the guests all arrived, each assured unprovoked that they parked in the very back — an area that can fit maybe four cars, but I was apparently too distracted trying to get conversation going to focus on the math. Did I mention the conversation? Because there was none. For the first hour of the get-together, I was convinced I had thrown a terrible party, as many guests were quietly talking to their significant others and no one else.

From Lance’s perspective…

We weren’t bro-brunching; we were down the hall for most of the day prepping for the party. Every once in a while, Julia would text one of the guys asking when we’d return. Spy-sounding code words may or may not have been used.

And no one was talking while Julia was in the room. Everyone was afraid to spill the beans. We heard later there was quick chit-chat making sure everyone was on the same page whenever she left the room.

From Julia’s perspective…

After an hour of semi-awkward conversation, Lance arrived and he looked as surprised as I’d hoped. Success! The party picked up a bit, and a few of us donned funny hats (hence my Minnie ears) and accessories. After we sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed some cake and mini pizza bagels, Lance mentioned that a party guest/our down-the-hall neighbor had some beers out for sampling, but we didn’t have any more room at our table. “If anyone wants to try some, head on down,” he said. Everyone casually headed over, drawing no suspicion from me.

As everyone left, Lance told me to stick around for a second. He thanked me for the sweet party and told me he was so taken aback that he was kind of shaky. There was a knock on the door, and I assumed a guest had forgotten a phone or wanted to come back. Lance told me he needed a moment to come down from the surprise and asked me to answer it. I opened the door, and there was my out-of-state mother… And Lance’s mother, his grandmothers, and my mother’s best friend.

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From Lance’s perspective…

I still can’t believe that all worked out, timing-wise. And that Julia’s poor mother kept the secret from her for months!

From Julia’s perspective…

Dumbfounded, I followed the family to my living room, as they’re mentioning that they came for the party. Lance stopped me as I walk past and begins to place a necklace around my neck.

From Lance’s perspective…

The stupid little clasp was complicated, so she had to help out.

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From Julia’s perspective…

I asked if I could touch it, and my fingers made out a teeny pair of socks. He then got on one knee and said my full name, some sweet things I cannot remember because my brain was going into over-drive, and the four important words: “Will you marry me?” I said yes (I actually had to verify this later, as I wasn’t 100% sure I replied in English), we hugged, the family cheered, and I asked sheepishly, “Did I plan my own surprise engagement party?” Lance sweetly replied, “Well you’re so much better at it!” HA.

Like clockwork, there was another knock on the door, which Lance told me to answer. In paraded the party-goers, screaming “Congratulations!” and wielding nearly 100 question mark-covered balloons and jewel-topped picks for a fun game of Pop The Question. There was also a bowl of delicious Ring Pops, which are wonderful stand-ins when you want to customize your engagement ring and therefore aren’t wearing one yet.

After we accidentally traumatized the cat — apparently, he dislikes balloons — and undoubtedly infuriated the neighbors popping everything in sight,  Lance told me I had a few presents to open — ones I thought were birthday gifts for him. Inside I found pairs and pairs of hilarious socks from friends and family, and even a sock monkey bridal party complete with limo.

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From Lance’s perspective… 

I wasn’t going to buy her a pair of literal socks, but I knew I couldn’t leave the store without that Abe Lincoln pair. We are from Springfield, after all.

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From Julia’s perspective… 

After the gifts, some of the girls started popping Champagne they hid in my fridge. We ordered a few pizzas, played some board games and celebrated until the wee hours of the morning. Everything was perfect. I truly could not have asked for anything more. Hell, I couldn’t have even imagined something so elaborate. Since we have been dating since I was 19, I have wondered from time to time if he was planning to propose on certain holidays or dates. It momentarily popped into my mind a few weeks before the party that maybe he’d ask while we had all our friends over for that — and I actually said to myself in my head, C’mon, that’s a stretch even for you. It could not have been more of a surprise. You’re all such lovely, amazing people who helped with this mind-blowing day. I cannot wait to marry my best friend.

Thank you for the surprise of a lifetime, Lance. And thank you for letting me secretly plan my own engagement party. You know how much I love hostessing.


The next day we took my mother’s ring to the jeweler to have it made into the gorgeous piece seen at the top of this post. Look out for details on that process — and more wedding fun on the way to the alter! — in future posts.

Second-Hand Score | Le-Le-Le-Leopard!

I was half-way done with this blog post when the craziest thing happened. (Okay, I wasn’t actually typing at the time, but I had planned to finish the post that evening.) Needless to say, things have been a bit bananas since. We’ll have more—plenty more!—discussion on that epic evening soon, but for now, here is the post that almost got lost in the surprise.

I found this amazing coat new with tags for about $20 at a secondhand store in Chicago. I think leopard can make a great neutral, but we were visiting a realtor the day we snapped this photo, and I didn’t want to give the impression that I wanted a house quite as crazy as my outfit—which, now that I really think about it, is pretty stupid, because I’d love a house with some pizzazz. Nevertheless, this is what I wore, and it was equal parts style and comfort. Isn’t that all we really want on the weekends?

Leopard Print Coat (1)

Leopard Print Coat (5)

Leopard Print Coat (3)

Leopard Print Coat (4)

Leopard Print Coat (2)

Currently wearing… Coat, thrifted | Pullover, Target [SIMILAR] | Jeans, AE [HERE] | Boots, c/o Francesca’s [SIMILAR] | Bag, c/o Anthropologie [HERE] | Earrings, Nordstrom Rack [SIMILAR] | Bangle, c/o Santa Claus [;-)]

Okay, there aren’t a lot of words for this post. I can’t remember what I else had planned to write. Perhaps this time, I’ll let the outfit mainly speak for itself… and now I’ll go back to obsessing over my latest accessory.

Stay tuned!

The Booties to Beat All Booties (And a brief guide to visiting Springfield, Ill.)

So, funny story: Two young men walked by Lance and I while we took these photos in our hometown of Springfield, Illinois, the Sunday after Christmas. They looked and stared and laughed a bit, which is one of the odder parts of blogging, but we’re used to it. But then he said the best part: “Fuckin’ tourists.” With full judgement, he scoffed those words and made a pretentious head nod to his friend. 

Tourists? Tourists?! In our hometown?! We burst out laughing. It was the highlight of the afternoon. His smug look made the whole experience funnier. Thanks for your help getting a real smile, Tourist Patrol!

I’ve never understood why people dislike tourists. Tourism is great news for a city, and it helps to support the things everyone loves (zoos, museums, you get the idea) because out-of-towners visit in addition to locals. The money from hotels and food trickles down into jobs and taxes… It’s a great big system that really loves tourism. Be nice to tourists. Don’t be ashamed to be a tourist. The whole stigma is silly!

Since we’re on the topic of tourism, Springfield is a great place to visit — especially if you like history. Plus, most people there are very nice and aren’t friends with that guy. It’s about a 90-minute drive from St. Louis, so it’s a great place to spend a day, or a weekend, if you have time! Looking for a few things to do while there? Here are some of the best…

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (4)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (5)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (1)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (6)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (2)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (7)

Outfit - Cowl Neck Sweatshirt Tunic with Naturalizer Leopard Booties and Anthropologie Satchel (3)

Currently wearing… Bromstad Tanya booties, c/o Naturalizer [HERE on sale!] | Cowl neck tunic, Target [HERE in limited sizes/SIMILAR] | Jeans, AE [HERE] | Senlis Satchel by Oryany, c/o Anthropologie [HERE] | Necklace, c/o Pitaya | Anne Klein wrap watch, Nordstrom Rack [SIMILAR] | Earrings, Pitaya | Bangle, vintage

And don’t forget about the Old State Capitol; that’s the pretty building in the background.

Please make sure to note the amazing (tourist-friendly!) booties; they’re my second pair of Naturalizer shoes, which means they’re my second pair of travel shoes. (Comfort is key!) These animal-print booties are part of HGTV star David Bromstad’s second Naturalizer collection. As a huge HGTV fan, this was enough to send me to dork heaven. The company commissioned a painting, on which Bromstad combined four different animal prints, all of which were used as inspiration for the collection. Extra perk: it’s on sale now. Your feet will thank you for shopping at the Naturalizer an hour into exploring a new city.

Happy travels!

Hello, 2015!

Rad people?
Check.
Extra snacks?
Check.
A ridiculous amount of noisemakers and silly hats?
Check.

Blue margaritas that somehow ended up in wine glasses?
You know it.

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I hope your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were as fun as ours! Hooray for 2015!