Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Things I Love (button-down shirt edition)

This post is for you if:

1. You believe that oxford/button-down shirts are supposed to be the answer to looking 
 a) chic 
 b) professional 
c) casually laid back yet mysteriously pulled together, 
all while being 
d) comfortable. 

2. You have never been able to find a button-down shirt that accomplishes these things. 

Me either.

 Guys, I have zero patience with being uncomfortable. I have a large chest, and I travel a lot. Most oxfords are just not going to work for me. If the buttons aren't gaping, the rest of the shirt is too big. If it's not too big, it's uncomfortable. If it's not uncomfortable, it's still going to wrinkle terribly. Putting aside all of those issues, if I have to raise my arms more than a few inches, I end up with a strange balloon hanging around my neck when I put my arms back down. 

I'm not going to tell you I have the perfect solution, because I don't. But I have discovered an AWESOME shirt that I LOVE and I wanted to share it with the world. 

It's stretchy and comfy and I'm not kidding when I say that it makes me feel casually laid back yet mysteriously pulled together at the same time. It's probably supposed to be for hiking and other ruggedly outdoorsy activities but it can totally work in professional settings. 

My average day can involve driving for six hours on isolated roads, attending meetings in downtown Toronto, flying to remote First Nations communitie, facilitating meetings and exercises in rooms full of firefighters or Heads of Council, meeting people in bars or restaurants, or gulping well-deserved glasses of wine on my couch while watching the West Wing. This shirt is perfect for all those things. 

If you really like the tailored crispness of an oxford, this shirt might not be for you. I totally get that. I wish I loved crispness as much as I love pretending I'm still in my pajamas, but I don't. I do love having clothing that works for more than one purpose. I've worn this with a skirts, jeans, dress pants and leggings. It pretty much lives in my suitcase and it always looks good. 

I bought mine in the dusted indigo, and even though I desperately want to buy one in every colour so I never have to live without this shirt, I actually think it may be the only colour I ever need. It just works with everything. 

Do you have any items of clothing that just "work"? Please share!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Just when I start to feel smug about being a grown up...

I spend a lot of time travelling, especially with my new job. I’ve flown I don’t know how many times in the last few months, plus several times a year since I was born, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make travelling smoother. I want to be able to breeze through security. I want to glide onto the airplane with effortless grace, and place my carry-on in the overhead containers like a pro. For the record, this almost never happens.

With the exception of one day two weeks ago. I had a business trip to Toronto where I was going to be spending my time with all my new colleagues, my manager, his manager, and the head of our organization. To say I was slightly nervous would be an understatement. To my surprise, my trip down went incredibly smoothly. My bag was perfectly packed, I didn’t hit anyone with my carry on, and I was wearing cute, business-y clothes.

Lets contrast that day with my return trip, where I: 

-spilled coffee all over myself in the taxi
-couldn’t find my wallet or ID as I was checking in for my flight
-dropped my L.L. Bean roller duffle I don’t know how many times by trying to lean it up against things even though I know it doesn't stand up on its own. 
-Left my Swiss Army Knife in my purse, which of course, security found. 
-Started crying at the check-in counter when they told me it would be an extra $100 to check my purse as an extra bag.

Yup. Real tears. Which would make it the second time in less than a month that I have cried at an airport. (the other time was the result of a snowstorm, toronto traffic, and a 7-hour delay) 

When I gave myself a minute, I could see there were a million reasons why the morning hadn’t gone smoothly. It was an early flight, at an airport I’d never flown from before. I was up late the night before with one of my stakeholders. It had been a good but stressful week-and-a-half of living out of a suitcase and I had spent it trying to present my best, most grown-up self. It totally made sense that I wasn’t on my A-game. But that didn’t stop my inner monologue from turning completely negative: What is wrong with you how many times have you flown you look like you’ve never even seen an airport this is so embarrassing are you twelve years old.

I think what sucks the most about it is that I was feeling so good earlier in the week. I’d bonded with my coworkers, learned a lot about my job, got to see why everyone speaks so highly of my manager, and just generally felt mature. Like I could hold my own and not only look but also sound and feel professional, too. A lot of times, 25 feels like “two steps forward, one step back”, at least when it comes to my self-confidence.  But then I remember that growing up isn’t a video game with a series of levels that lock once you reach them. Just because I get a high score this week in “using industry jargon” or “rocking a blazer like a champ” doesn’t mean I can’t fall back a few levels in "beverage consumption" or "basic emotional stability". 

Is it just me, or does anyone else ever feel like there should just be some things that get easier as we get older? (like air travel)