Limericks, Love Letters, and Turning Forty

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

photo: Joshua Franzos

If you'd asked me when I was ten years old, what or where I'd be at by age forty, I'd probably have told you some pie in the sky dream, like, I'd be a big time fashion designer with a gorgeous model of a husband and three kids, and and we'd all wear white clothes and chase each other through the white sheets air drying in the sunshine at our country home -- or something that looks like domestic bliss in a 1980's laundry detergent commercial.

nike vandalized lx outfit, street style, 40+ street style
photo: Joshua Franzos

At age eighteen, some forward-thinking adult made us High School Seniors commit some words to paper. It was loosely along the lines of, Where do you see yourself at age 30? But we were told that we could write whatever we wanted, because only we would see what was written, the caveat being, we'd see it when we were thirty years old. 

photo: Joshua Franzos


In 2010, an email went out, reminding the class of '98 of this endeavor, and would we kindly send our current mailing addresses? Our documents had been sealed and stored for twelve years, and now they needed to be mailed to us.


Meryl Franzos, style blogger, yohji yamamoto
photo: Joshua Franzos

Meryl Franzos, color blocking outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

I held the crisp envelope in my hands, noting the strangely familiar penmanship on the return address, my old home, written in my hurried, all caps (except for a few letters) print. By Jove. I couldn't even remember what I'd written, but I fully expected this time capsule to flood me with wunderkind wisdom and hammer me with blast from the past memories.

 Instead, I got this:


There once was a girl from Nantucket.
Who got a stupid homework assignment, so she said fuck it.
She did what school said, 
and after twelve years wasn't dead,
Then her old, saggy ass got mailed a poem that sucked it.
(By the way. Your thirty now and therefore can't be trusted. Ha HA)


My initial thoughts were thus: Come here you eighteen year old cockadoodie brat. 
Your grammar is poor and Charlton Heston is not a counter cultural icon. You wasted too much time on TV, computer games, and sleeping in until 1pm. You were emotionally gorked. You shirked responsibility. You had talent and potential, but contributed the very minimum because you had zero stamina for hard, uncomfortable, tedious work. As a result, you have very little to show for anything. Eat my whole ass.

Meryl Franzos, turquoise glitter, turquoise eyeshadow, orange lipstick
photo: Joshua Franzos

Thinking of it now, I kind of wish I'd kept this letter from myself. But at the time I immediately crumpled it up and tossed it. I have enough mischief and juvenilia betwixt the diary covers of my misspent youth. 
photo: Joshua Franzos

sooooo. (buttons on your underwear)

As I wind down the elven days I have left in my thirties, I find myself occupied with thoughts about letters written for the future.The kind that are so targeted and poignant in the moment they're read, that the music swells and all readers are reduced to tears because they're filled with love and truth bombs....and a flash of that shining verisimilitude of the beauty, agony, and brevity of life.

pittsburgh fashion blogger, Meryl Franzos, 40+ style
photo: Joshua Franzos

meryl franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

I'd hoped to be the kind of parent that would write one of those read-upon-my-death, time traveling sock-you-in-the-gut-with-love letters. Where I make some anecdotal observances about you as a toddler and as an adult, express my hopes and dreams for your future and the kind of person you'll be, and finally bequeath you with the task of returning an ancient, mystical necklace to its rightful owner. (Or something that would send you on a journey fraught with adventure and intrigue and romance.) I have no idea where this came from. But just after my father died when I was sixteen (going on seventeen) it was my heart's most ardent wish that a letter from him would fall out of leather bound book I pulled off a shelf, or would be delivered to me by a lawyer on a designated birthday like a Wes Anderson film. I would be enveloped in parental love and machinations from beyond the grave - perhaps exposing that naive and fatalistic wish that God was an actual heavenly father and I wasn't the master of my own destiny. It seems like it would be so much easier. Ahhh, but I never got any letters.  Dammit, those unrequited loves and wishes have inspired literature for millennia...the novel I'm writing (editing) is no different, as it is filled with those letters I never got, and so it will also have to be that love letter to the children I never had. But as to me still pining for those letters I never received, well...As I lean from the threshold of thirty-nine into the heathery glen of forty, wisdom and experience are showing me that I am responsible for obtaining what I want. That's on me and no one else.

turquoise tights outfit, turquoise wayfarers, thredup
photo: Joshua Franzos

Without further adieu, here's a love letter to myself for when I turn fifty. 

There once was a woman in Pittsburgh,
who drank like she lived in a vineyard,
she loved with all her might,
and her looks, they put up a good fight, 
but it was her writing for which she would be remembered.


My Dearest Meryl Aja,

You've grown so much since you were a bold and adventurous toddler, and a frightened and anxious teenager. Where you used to be afraid of showing any sign of weakness, you've pushed past that.While it's true, that a few have taken advantage when you showed a vulnerable side, you've found they were an exception to the rule.You've found more comfort and friendships because of your openness than anything else, so you should continue with it. You're starting to learn about boundaries. Keep leaning into that.

You're getting antsy about looking as old as you feel. Right now you feel like you're fifteen years old in the head -- Just some dumb kid that finally figured out what she wants in life. Is that still true? It's pretty difficult looking like you're fifteen right now, if not impossible. You don't really want to look fifteen, you just want it to stop. Though, it won't. It's possible you're still fighting the good fight in maintaining a youthful appearance, you might have taken some drastic measures, or you may be aging more gracefully than a French woman, because you don't smoke, Great Job on that by the way! Whatever you do, always do it for you, and Always Always Always do your research.

I'm so happy you and writing found each other. You came to it with late, but boy have you learned by doing. I don't think you've stuck with anything as long as this, so it really must keep your interest and be special. Please, never tire of it, and keep doing it. It gives so much meaning to your life because you don't process emotions like normal people. When you write, you get so much more clarity for yourself, and then for your loved ones. You're a ways off from publishing at the moment, but when it's time to look for a publisher, don't let rejection derail you from doing something that makes you whole. Keep doing it. Writing is your salvation.

I'm so ecstatic that you found  true love in Joshua. The push and pull of your relationship constantly takes your breath away, keeps things spicy (and you on your toes), floods your being with so much joy and gratitude that you sometimes find yourself weeping happy tears in the shower.You inspire each other aesthetically and to be better people. It is a union you didn't think possible, but you have it. You have no idea how many people walk around looking for what your father in law called "that special kind of sauce" and never find it. But you did. Never stop showing your love and appreciation to that gorgeous man of yours.

And Honey, if there's one sentence I want you to walk away with from all this, it's this:
 I believe in you.




What I wore: 

Sunnies: fake wayfarers, Amazon here.
Trench: Old, Yohji Yamamoto, worn previously here.
Shirt:  from Thred-up.
Denim skirt: Levi's, sourced from Thred-up.
Tights: Amazon here.
Shoes: Nike Vandalized LX, try here.
Quilted patent leather bag: Christian Dior

Meryl Franzos, outfits with turquoise tights
photo: Joshua Franzos






Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,






Achieve Your 2020 Goals With a Morning Routine

Thursday, January 9, 2020

 
red lipstick, pink eyeshadow, red and pink outfit, valentine makeup
photo: Joshua Franzos
If you didn't know I had a day job, let me clear that up for you. I do. In 2012, I left my career in the auction world for a job better at accommodating my desire to write. I have been working in a 30 hour a week administrative position at a nonprofit that primarily focuses on the Jewish community. This outward focusing on the community was especially true in 2019, during the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. But this year, my employer is re-focusing energy on the training, coaching, and mentoring of its employees. We're initiating a work culture of setting both work and personal goals and figuring out how the two can help each other. It's scary and exhilarating. 


photo: Joshua Franzos
In the wake of all this interoffice zhuzhing, there have been a few "lunch and learn" seminars. I attended one called "Creating Powerful Morning Routines," mostly because there would be a free lunch (score!) I was a bit surprised that "Morning Routines" are a thing. Upon further research, I'm noting that the internet loves to fetishize them, as the internet does.

red and pink outfit, red blazer outfit, valentine's day outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

The lunch seminar came and went.I found it interesting to look over how the "successful" and famous people started their mornings. It's so humanizing. Anna Wintour plays an hour of tennis everyday at 5:45am. Eva Chen rises somewhere between 5:45am and 7:30am and starts by checking social media. Oprah starts her day between 6:02am-6:20am by taking her dogs for a walk. So I ask you...Does looking at someone else's morning routine add value or context to our own lives? Other than satisfying low level curiosity and being mildly amusing? 

photo: Joshua Franzos
I already have a structured morning routine. It's pretty rigid, and it's been various incarnations of my current morning routine (shared below) since I started a devout writing habit in 2013. I have to be honest, I didn't expect to learn much. There was one thing that really grabbed my attention at the seminar. Ben Franklin's daily schedule. I was inspired by how he started his day at 5am with the question, "What good shall I do today?" and in the evening, after the day's work was done, he'd circle back and ask himself, "What good have I done today?" I thought I was a jedi master of the morning routine, but it turns out that my obsession with time and efficiency, quite often lacks gratitude. I think it's important to start weaving more of that in because I believe it will help tone down my frustration with my slow progress.

On that note, in case this helps, inspires, or even entertains you while you're on the john, here goes:


My Morning Routine

4:15-5:15 - My get out of bed time varies each day, but usually between 4:30 and 5. I check in with social media while I'm on the toliet. Brush teeth. Put gym clothes on in dark so I don't wake Josh or the dogs.
5:00am-5:30am - grab my pre-packed bag and go to the gym. spend 30 minutes doing yoga/strength training, then move on to cardio.
6:00-7:15am - 30-90 minutes fasted LIIT cardio/ or 30 minutes of fasted HIIT if my back allows. 
     During low impact cardio sessions, I spend this time thusly: 
  • planning outfits
  • listening to writing podcasts
  • watching Outlander on Netflix (obsessed)
  • brainstorming and/or troubleshooting plot and editing snafus in my book
  • making lists for personal projects, packing, grocery shopping,etc.
  • reading books (currently reading The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal) 
  • research
7:00am-7:15am go home, take dogs out, feed dogs breakfast, kiss Josh Good Morning. 
7:30am - shower, AM skincare routine, dress for work, hair, make-up.
8:15am-8:30am - take mirror selfie to document my OOTD for Instagram stories, post it.
8:30am -8:45am- quick breakfast with Josh if he's not at a shoot and we aren't intermittent fasting. 
8:45am-10:00am - edit novel
10:15am - probably still at home because I pushed the editing past 10, and need to leave ASAP.
10:20-10:35am - arrive at work, check and answer emails, check calendar, check list of things to do from prior day, add to that list, prioritize, act.
10:45am-12:00pm - check things off my list.
12pm-12:30pm - lunch. throw a Daily Harvest in the microwave (or blender), go back to my desk, eat while I edit my novel or write for this blog.

photo: Joshua Franzos
I've come to crave my routine. It supports me, my interests, my well being, and my personal goals. I wasn't always like this. In my twenties, anything routine or repetitive would weird me out. It bored me. I lived on chaos and novelty. but I guess in time, I got tired of being reactive as opposed to proactive. When you don't  pursue your own madness, it only seems to invite opportunities you don't want, or worse, a rut. 

I've definitely been in ruts, 2016-2018, most recently. I don't care to return there, so I'm keeping myself inspired and motivated by adding and slowly chipping away at stuff on my lists. It's quite satisfying to cross things off. I have a lot to look forward to this year, but I have a lot I want to add to that list too:

Some things I hope to accomplish this year: 
  • finish my curtain pelmet project. The fancy mouldings you see in these pictures will be used to box in our curtains on the 2nd floor. I want it to look like an old Parisian flat. 
  • Organize my home and get rid of "junk drawers"
  • cut 30k words from my manuscript and polish it up like a diamond. I'd like to do this in six months or less. 
  • do three unassisted pull-ups.
  • travel more. (we have 2 international trips booked! already)
  • express more gratitude
  • see my family in California
  • if I have time, I'd love to re-brand my blog



Do you have a morning routine? (Or a night routine?) How do you spend that time? Is there something you wish you could do in the mornings? Is there something that is so exciting, it gets you out of bed? Do you have any goals for 2020? Can your morning routine help you achieve them? Let me know in the comments.



photo: Joshua Franzos

What I Wore:
linen blend suit: last summer, Banana Republic.
Blouse: Dusty Daze, ASOS. Last spring.
Shoes: old, Christian Louboutin c/o eBay.
Lipstick: Urban Decay Vice Mega Matte lipstick in color 714
Eyes: Too Faced Pretty Rich Pallette, here. And an old Make-up Forever neon pink blush.
Fancy Moulding: Architectural Depot, here.



P.S. As always, any links I provide here have the possibility of generating income for me if you click or buy something through them, but I haven't been paid yet. Someone bought something once, $100+ pair of Nikes, and I got 15 cents. So like, knock yourself out. It may be ten years before I receive a $30 paycheck consisting of clicks.

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,












Ultra Violent Self Care

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

 
Meryl Franzos, Mrs. Franzos, ray-ban kalichrome shooter aviators
Photo: Joshua Franzos


 I found an abandoned book at my gym. I let it sit on the magazine table by the elipticals for two weeks before I had enough courage to just take it. I get sentimental about books; I assume everyone is the same way. What if someone had just forgotten it? But that wasn't the case. Someone didn't want it. Or, someone put it there to ensure some curious sap, *me*, would read it. I still don't know why someone would abandon this book, but before I tell you of the mysteries and secrets I gained, I want to talk about something else.

Urban Decay party monster glitter gel
photo: Joshua Franzos

Self-Care. It was called grooming back in the day and we just did it. Now it's a loaded word that conjures the memory of our last scroll through instagram. Influencers and influencer wannabes are always declaring #selfcare and #treatyoself for themselves with swipe-up links so their followers can buy the latest potion, unguent, face mask, tooth whitener, dietary supplement, $60+ candle, et alia that so & so is #currentlyobsessed with because, because. 

SCENE I
INT. BATHROOM - DAY 

Influencer content photo on a phone screen depicting a "bottle of whatever" artfully nestled on a fornasetti tray with a sprig of eucalyptus and an artfully folded white spa towel. Extra points if there's droplets of steam on a mirror and a slightly out of focus reflection of an INFLUENCER wearing a white terry cloth robe and towel on her head while she poses like an Avedon model.

 INFLUENCER
(peace sign and sticks tongue out)
Hey Guys! Hashtag selfcare! If this doesn't work, guess a glass of Champs (or three) will take care of the rest. haha LOL JK but literally, OMG, I'm like so shook by this product, I can't. You guys have to try this, I've linked it here for you.

Subtext: this pricey product (that may or may not be snake oil) is definitely the answer to your crippling anxiety and stress.


The benign acts of grooming we used to do on the edge of the toilet seat with a bottle of drug store nail polish (and without a supplicant audience) have been upgraded to a near spiritual status that rivals going clear in Scientology. The more money you spend, the more luxurious, the better a person you must be. We want to simultaneously justify and flaunt it by upgrading its sundry status to that of an ablution. It's utterly endemic to social media. I wish I was immune to it, but I still get caught up in the hyperbole of radical beauty world fundamentalism. Pretty flat lays and teary-eyed, squeal-y voiced IGTV testimonial videos are the silkily cloaked ads that tap into our insecurities and inspires our selfcare fomo.


photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos
The luxurious selfcare movement has pied pipered us to the belief that we can gloss over our myriad problems by lavish coddling. But remember that magical book I was telling you about earlier? It's led me to understand that self care doesn't always feel good. Pssst, wanna know a free and effective secret to glowy skin? We'll do it together. First, let's turn off our phones and set them aside. Now, let's take the palm of our hands and on the count of three. 1...2...3! slap yourself across the face. Snap out of it!



Self-Care is masturbation,

now self-destruction...

A bold statement that echoes the words of Chuck Palaniuk and Jim Uhls from Fight Club twenty years ago, but is tweaked a bit for our current culture. (It was self-improvement back then and there were rows, upon rows, upon rows of it at Barnes & Noble. Perhaps there still are in the dwindling stores.) So let's start talking about what I like to call Ultra Violent Self Care.

Meryl Franzos, nike vandalized LX, white lace dress
photo: Joshua Franzos

Back to the book. By now you probably think it's bound with human flesh and its over 200 years old. It's not. It's called Glow15: A Science-Based Plan to Lose Weight, Revitalize Your Skin, and Invigorate Your Life by Naomi Whittel



It literally looks like every other diet book out there. Hell, the first fifty or so pages are as gratingly optimistic and obnoxious as the testimonial portion of a every infomercial on the planet. But the thing the hooked me was a word I'd never seen before in a nest of other familiar words lining the book jacket. Autophagy. A word originated from ancient Greek, and it means 'self-devouring' -- As in our cells houseclean themselves regularly. Old and damaged cells get "eaten" or recycled to create new, healthy cells. Cannibalism! This cellular refreshing happens a lot when we are young, and you'll never believe this, JK, but it slows down as we get old. 
I don't know about you, but when I hit 39, my skin was really starting to show its age, my age...our age, not to mention it was taking a lot longer to heal from the blemishes that seemed to be happening more and more frequently. Also, it took so much longer to heal from sports injuries than it used to. SO. I was quite eager to read how to combat the effects of aging, and this "slowing down" I wasn't nearly ready for via "autophagy." Read I did. I learned it is a very hot topic in the science and medical fields and the study of it garnered a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2016. It's still a largely not entirely understood mechanism, but tests on mice have shown that there are significant inflammation, tumor, and cancer reducing properties to it. I also learned there are things we can do to jump-start and re-stimulate our individual autophagy processes and while they're not all glamorous and soothing self-care routines, they do produce results. In fact, they're more like self work, or self challenges, than what we routinely think of as "caring," or as I like to call it, Ultra Violent Self Care. You remember your tough love high-school track coach that shouted, "pain is weakness leaving the body?" Yeah. It's more like that.

Meryl Franzos, lace dress street style, nike vandalized lx
photo: Joshua Franzos
Okay. so Ultra Violent self-care.  I mean intentionally, challenging, "starving", inflicting micro amounts of damage or stress to yourself to kick start the cellular renewal process. Things like: Intermittent Fasting, Protein Cycling, High Intensity Interval Training, the usual reduction/elimination of simple carbs, and the upping of healthy fats into my diet (in a eye-brow raising way.) Fat isn't the enemy. Going to get micro-needling sessions, which is like aerating your lawn, but with micro-needles on your face.  I dove in, and Josh started noticing my results almost immediately. So he joined out of his own free will. We've both lost body fat and gained lean muscle, our diet has never been healthier, our skin is looking great, and we feel so much more like our mental age. (25) We love it. 

But then this silly "diet" book started me thinking about the many levels of autophagy in our life. Of course on a cellular level, where lysosomes and autophagosomes interact (LMAO sounding like I know wtf I'm talking about), and then there's the body on a body level, kind of it's own cell in the world at large: the body fat-burning autophagy process that is triggered by not eating between the hours of 8pm-12pm every other day and of course the high intensity interval training. Then of course there's the emotional level of cleaning out the old and organizing our lives in order to make way for newer, healthier things in our physical spheres, and how they spread to other entities, and their communities, our social networks...These things have ripple effects. I think science is trying to discover the link and the talking between the ripples, or at least that is what I'm interested in.

photo: Joshua Franzos

So let's go back to social media self-care cult of personality. Yes, it's so easy and tempting to do what feels good. We all want to crawl back into a protective womb, but knowing the difference between the self coddling types of self-care and the uncomfortable self-work kind of self care, and the exact moments and durations we need each, is key. You have to do the work, or the coddling types are just band-aids on a spiritual problem. It is also my belief that we should absolutely do things that feel good for the right reasons...a verb that comes up quite frequently in the selfcare world is "deserve." I personally hate the word deserve. I hope to purge the word from my lexicon because I don't possess the omniscience to call it for others, and I hate the entitlement it summons when I use it for my own character. "I deserve this," for good or ill, does not belong in my vocabulary. It implies a quid pro quo relationship, and the power dynamics of such, don't really speak to autonomy, and all of that is perpetually unchic, especially now. However, "I'm doing this." period, without explanation, justification, apology, or social media validation is true and blue.
lace dress, selfcare
photo: Joshua Franzos



What do you think about the self-care movement? Does it inspire you? Enrage you? Make you feel fomo? Make you feel like the beauty standards are impossibly high and ever increasing? Feel class lines? Do you want to hear more about Glow15? Let me know in the comments.

What I wore:
glasses: Hunter S. Thompson range glasses dupes, here.
dress: one of a kind.
moto jeans: dittos vintage 
cuff bracelet: vintage.
shoes: Nike vandalized LX, here.
Purse: Alexander Wang Brenda bag,here.
Belt: Gift from Anna Sui.
glitter eyeshadow: Urban Decay Heavy Metal Face & Body Glitter Gel
 in Party Monster, here.



Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 














Power Suit

Wednesday, October 23, 2019



photo: Joshua Franzos

It was November of 2018 and while scrolling through instagram, I'd spotted the coolest suit I'd ever seen. It was a red leopard suit by R13 and it made every cell in my body quiver. It was so tacky it was intellectual, which if we're being honest about my personal style, is exactly that. The only problem was, it was well over $4K. I'm forever cursed with expensive taste. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

I ducked my head back into the busyness of the holidays, but a Lovecraft-ian elder evil stirred within me. An idea surfaced one day in February like alligator eyeball emerging from the murk of my depression. What if someone else made a red leopard suit that didn't cost so much?

I googled. I found. 

Suit separates. 100% polyester* Jacket in my size. Last pair of pants in a size 14. 

I bought anyway. Pants can be tailored. Total: $66.50 pant tailoring extra: $20

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

The first time I pulled my arm through the jacket's satin lining, a guitar ballad wailed, swear to God.
After a few years of depression, I got my mojo back in an instant and forever set myself down a path of confidence and "out there" style. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

Therefore I feel like I'm uniquely qualified to give you a few pointers on how to find the inner spirit animal of your personal style. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
  1. Ask yourself if you will want to wear it six months or even six years from now.
  2. If something makes you smile, wear it. 
  3. If it gives you joy, wear it.
  4. See #1 and #2  and stop caring what other people think.  
  5. Begin noticing what your joyful things starts attracting into your life. take note. extend invitations if you wish. They'll become your magical companions.
  6. Don't take it too seriously. Make sure you have fun. 
  7. Ask for help from people you trust if you need it. Turns out, people really love to give out their opinions, (but not all of them are valid or solicited.) So make sure you always check back with your inner spirit animal guide, and guidelines 1-4.

photo: Joshua Franzos


Can you guess what my spirit animal is?

What I Wore: 
Suit: ASOS
Band tee: The Doors, some rock t-shirt catalog.
Rings: vintage sterling
Boots: my trusty Sam Edelmans.
Sunnies: Ray-Ban.

Reminder: If you click on any links I provide, there's a small chance I may earn or profit off of it someday. But I honestly haven't yet, but still required by law to say this. I wish I could provide you with more links to find the stuff that I wear, but alas, that is the problem with buying second hand and/or on sale. I post similar things where I can and on occasion, the actual items.



*giddy side note: synthetic, but non finicky fabric that can be thrown in a washer gets me reeeaally excited because adderall makes you sweat and dry cleaners either can't or won't properly clean the stank out the armpits.



Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 







Seasonal Change Denier

Saturday, October 5, 2019

photo: Joshua Franzos

As soon as the calendar flips up to September, I plug my fingers in my ears, pinch my eyes shut, and yell LA LA LA LA LA at the top of my lungs. I don't want to hear, think, or acknowledge that summer is over, not even when it's officially over when the autumnal equinox lands in our laps (September 23). NOPE NOPE NOPE. It's still 86 degrees, NOPE.

Meryl Humphrey, Meryl Lotz, Whiskey

Even though I don't hate fall: changing leaves, fall fashion, and steamy crock pot goodness do make it quite tolerable after all. However, the sheer busyness of the season makes it harder to live in the moment which makes it just a steep, slippery ski slope into the miser's purse of winter. Therefore I must be dragged, kicking, and screaming from summer every year. It is tradition. You got your pumpkin spice, I throw summer time and livin's easy tantrums.



This year, however, as the mornings grow darker, clouds of my breath grow visible, and my 5am walks to the gym start requiring a jacket...I've found myself wondering how my big spring and summer personal style renaissance and subsequent closet overhaul will evolve into the cooler, wetter seasons. So I guess in some way that makes me kind of excited for Fall...for the first time ever.

Oh snap.

We never discussed my personal style renaissance on here did we? *begins sucking teeth.* I wasn't gonna go there today, but ok. Yeah...I guess that needs to be spilled.

photo: Joshua Franzos

Um. It was February. I was trying to lose some weight for my physical and mental health, and it was going well until I injured my lower back when I tried to do some box jumps. Evil explosive movements! So I returned to physical therapy and did a lot of slow cardio on the treadmill. It was stupid slow at first. 1 1/2 hours of slow walking will drive you bonkers unless you entertain yourself, so I started doing a lot of busy work on myself. A couple years ago, I'd flirted with understanding what my personal style was, but that got put on the back burner. So, with phone in hand and the treadmill speed set to a zippy 2.0,  I fell down that rabbit hole.
photo: Joshua Franzos
One of my Pittsburgh blog pals, Sarah (@sawissinger) of the Surznick Common Room wrote this really great post on fashion industry waste and introduced me to the online second hand store thredUP in 2018, but I did not check it out until ASOS royally screwed me on a lost package this February/March. I talked in circles with ASOS's customer service and I'm not convinced I ever "spoke" to a human. There is no hotline option, only chat and email. I did a lot of business with ASOS over the years and they would not give me, a valued customer, credit for the lost package. So. Like a scorned lover, I started researching other fashion forward companies that might appreciate my business more. I unfortunately couldn't find very many retailers in my style with affordable prices and good customer service policies. So I turned my eyes to thredUP.

photo: Joshua Franzos
I used to love vintage and second hand shopping. But when I started my closet overhauling a couple years ago, I found that vintage shopping or thrifting weren't good for my closet. 
I used to go to Goodwill and spend hours sorting through stuff until I found a "treasure." Then I'd buy it, whether I needed it or not, whether it went with anything I already owned or not. Finding a cheap "treasure" in a sea of cast-offs fired off some pleasurable dopamine process in my brain but it also came down to me buying the "treasure" simply because of the time I'd invested in looking for it. Stupid, right? Once I realized this and how badly it cluttered my closet and muddied my personal style, I stopped thrifting.ThredUP is second hand clothing, but it's online (and a convenient app) so you can search for things you are looking for/need, instead of searching endlessly through racks only to find a tepidly cool thing you don't need.

photo: Joshua Franzos
I approached thredUP convinced I only needed a handful of tops to zhuzh up my work wardrobe, but I was extremely wary about finding myself back in Closet Clutterville. I really tapped into the filters on thredUP to help me limit my endless wading. I really liked that I could search for clothing by color or material on thredUP, because I have this new-ish policy. I'm seriously limiting my Dry Clean Only clothing purchases, and nothing I buy will be rayon, modal, viscose (et all Rayon aliases) anymore because I cannot stand it when I shrink clothing, and Rayon ALWAYS shrinks. whhhhyyy. I'm also limiting my color palette so more things can be worn with each other. However, being spoiled with free shipping and returns on ASOS, I was not thrilled with thredUP's $1.99 re-stocking fees, so I also downloaded a closet app, used screenshots of any prospective online purchases and things similar to articles of clothing I already own and love, and played around creating outfits for hours (maybe even days at this point) while I was on the treadmill. You know, to make sure whatever I was interested in buying off of thredUp worked with what I already owned. The closet app consumed me like the most thrilling game. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

At first I downloaded the ClosetSpace app, (don't download this, I'll explain later). This app was so user friendly and really made me think about outfits in a weather context. Hot-Warm-Mild-Cool-Frigid and Dry-Rainy-Snowy. I quickly discovered the closet MVPs and the gaping holes. For instance, I learned that I had 35 pairs of shoes, but only one pair of shoes that I'd wear in the rain, which drastically limited my outfit choices. I grew so fascinated by the closet app and what it showed me, that I created a digital facsimile of everything in my possession, just so I could see how it all played (and if it played), or, if I didn't want to take the trouble to upload something into the app (that meant it should be donated.) I added things I was considering buying to see if I should buy it. I began asking myself so many questions whenever I had a tickle to own something cool that I saw, but mostly it always came down to these two questions: Does it go with anything I currently own? How many other ways can this be worn? -- I wanted everything in my closet to be loved and used and in circulation. Turns out I needed to "zhuhz" a lot more than I thought, alot more than a handful of new tops anyway. I also needed to get rid of the stuff that didn't work with much and buy more shoes that could be worn in the rain. Once I started posting my daily outfits on my Instagram stories, in part to share, but also in part to keep me accountable to this personal style project, I became hooked. Not only did I get great feedback on Instagram and from my  real life friends, acquaintances, colleagues (and certainly my husband), but I could also see myself beginning to grasp a unique personal style through this documentation process. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

Then the unthinkable happened. The ClosetSpace app stoppped working. It had become my daily ritual on the treadmill, to create or re-work outfits for the variety of weather Pittsburgh was throwing at us. I reached out to the app makers for support and heard nothing. I could see outfits I'd already created, but I couldn't make any more. And I needed to make so many more. I could not do it without this app. The thought of living without it brought me to tears. So I did the unthinkable. I bought The StyleBook app (another closet app) and re-created my digital closet ALL OVER AGAIN. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
As if it wasn't enough to do it once. Ugh. you guys. I was some kind of combination of crazy, motivated, and bored on that treadmill. I have to say there was more of a learning curve with Stylebook, but I basically kept the same weather centric outfit categories that helped me so much from the other app (the app that betrayed me). So in summation, getting dressed in the morning is a breeze, I haven't re-worn the same outfit twice all spring, summer, and now...fall...goddammit. I'm also happy to report that I've walked myself fit, walked myself recovered from my back injuries, and I daresay walked myself into a much more stylish me. The most unbelievable result out of all of this is I don't feel the need or desire to shop. I'm happy and content with my closet and myself right now. It's such a weird feeling that I've never before experienced. I hope it lasts as the weather changes, but if it doesn't, I know I'll be stopping at thredUP first. Thursday was the last 90 degree day we'll have in Pittsburgh for awhile. It's finally cooling off. Now please excuse me while I go throw a temper tantrum. It's tradition after all. 

 What I Wore: 
Hat: Jack & Lucy (defunct brand) bought on thredUP
Whiskey Muscle shirt: Express, old sorry!
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity, via thredUP
Platform sandals: Gap, via thredUP
Bag: vintage Carlos Falchi via The RealReal
Cuff bracelet: Chanel, gift from my sister-in-law
Sunnies: Chanel, "half-tint" as made famous by the Olsen twins. Scored on eBay for a bargain.


P.S. Here's a link to a personal style interview I did with Christina Imberlina, of Style by Christina.




Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,


 




















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