Black + mint pattern-mixing

Today’s outfit is VERY simple and yet I still manage to throw in some pattern-mixing. Hi, my name is Jen, and I like to pattern-mix. :D

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Black + mint pattern-mixing

Summer dressing can be so easy! This outfit has just three main pieces — that’s it! — a black + white striped dress, a polka-dotted purse, and black strappy sandals. I really like how the mint strap of the crossbody bag just pops off those stripes. I might already have a favorite for the month!

I also threw in extra-subtle pattern-mixing by wearing these floral cloisonné earrings. I’m so sneaky. ;)

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Floral earring details + lip stains

In case you’re wondering about my lip color, I’ve layered two lip stains together. First is a new lip stain I recently picked up, a purply color called “Shameless” from the Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm collection. I then layered my favorite color, a neutral pink called “Honey” from the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain series, on top to tone down the purple a bit.

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Black + mint pattern-mixing

Details:  Striped dress:  Old Navy, gift-carded last spring  /  Strappy black sandals:  Lands’ End, this spring  /  Polka-dotted crossbody bag:  Fossil via Macy’s, gift-carded this spring

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Repair shop sign in NE Portland

The backdrop is this old auto repair shop around our neighborhood. It’s on a side street, and I thought it made for a cool, contrasting background. It’s got some neat architecture, too, with a rounded roof, as you can see in the picture above.

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Black + mint pattern-mixing

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Black + mint pattern-mixing

You can see other ways I’ve remixed this black + white striped dress, including with orange gingham, an olive cargo vest, a red jacket, and a blue button-down.

Link ups:  Mix It Mondays  /  Monday Mingle  /  Monday Bloom  /  On the Daily Express  /  More Pieces of Me  /  Sophisticated Style  /  Style to Inspire  /  Beauty Buzz  /  Trend Spin  /  Wardrobe Wednesday  /  What I Wore Wednesday  /  I Feel Pretty

SIA: Summer flowers

It’s my turn to curate the Style Imitating Art (SIA) challenge again! This time, I wanted to pick a piece that made me think of summer. I also wanted to pick a piece from the collections of artworks from when I did the “Picture Memory” UIL contest back in 4th and 5th grades. This was a major event in my young life that helped me recognize and appreciate art as ART.

Librarian for Life + Style  |  UIL Picture Memory cards

To participate in “Picture Memory” category — now simply called “Art” — you had to memorize the artist, nationality, and title of 40 major artworks chosen for that year. (And if you got 100%, then you got a special certificate; I earned the special certificate both years.) UIL, which stands for University Interscholastic League, is a series of educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests in Texas, spanning from 2nd grade through high school. I participated in UIL events all through my childhood, and it helped me earn a college scholarship!

I had fun going back through my Picture Memory packets, and I finally picked Henri Matisse’s 1912 oil painting, “Pot of Geraniums,” which you can see on top of the packets in the picture above. Below is a better close-up that I found online. The painting feels fresh and bright and straightforward — it just feels like summer to me (at least, how summer feels to me in Oregon). There are quite a few colors in the painting to choose from or mix together, including pink, green, orange, yellow, teal, terra cotta, purple, blue, grey, and black — or you could go with a floral print.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Pot of Geraniums, 1912. Oil on linen.

So how can you participate in SIA? Just send me a picture of an outfit inspired by this painting by next Monday, July 28 (by 10 pm PST, please) at, and I will post an SIA round-up the following morning. Remember, you don’t have to be a blogger to participate.

I’m honestly not sure what I will put together, but I look forward to everyone’s submissions!


Layering with sports bras

When I mentioned in this recent post that I often wear a sports bra instead of a tank top — a great alternative in the summer! — I got quite a few positive comments about it. It surprised me, as I often deploy this trick, but I never thought it worth mentioning or highlighting on the blog. I was obviously mistaken!

I first started doing this when I lived in the UAE, where it is both hot AND humid most of the year, due to the country’s location on the Arabian Gulf. I get sweaty around my midsection and under the arms, so wearing a sports bra — instead of a bra and an extra tank top — under a cardigan or other top was a way to still stay modestly covered, but to not add extra bulk. I also wear sports bras when I feel like I need some extra coverage up top, like with dresses or tops with v-necks or lower-cut necklines. (They’re also great for traveling!)

So here’s a round-up of different ways I’ve worn sports bras as layering options:

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Layering with sports bras

Top row, left to right:  1  /  2  /  3  ;  Second row:  1  /  2  /  3  /  4
Third row:  1  /  2  /   3  /  4  ; Bottom row:  1  /  2  /  3  /  4

I realize that wearing sports bras is a more comfortable option for those of us with smaller chests, so this trick might not work for those more well-endowed. There are plain, inexpensive sports bras available, and then there are versions out there that are way more expensive and actually intended for, you know, sports and exercise. I just pick up a regular pack of Fruit of the Loom sports bras every year or two at my local Target or Fred Meyer, as they are in year-round rotation in my wardrobe. I have sports bras in black, red, white, grey, and light blue.

An alternative is to get some of those cami panels that clip on to the sides of your bra. I even have some of those! They work really well, and would work for those who need to wear undergarments that are more supportive than sports bras.

Sports bras

Has anyone else used this trick of wearing sports bras, or alternatives like clip-on cami panels? Leave a comment and let me know! :)

Link ups:  Favorite Fashion Friday  /  Passion for Fashion  /  Fashion Friday


Summer rose garden

Last week, a longtime friend from Texas travelled up to Portland for the first time, and we had fun visiting some local favorite spots, including Powell’s bookstore, the food carts downtown, and of course, the Rose Garden at Washington Park.

I rewore a favorite summer combination — easy, relaxed, comfortable — although I think it’s the first time this particular combo has made it to the blog. When I wore almost the same outfit last summer, a stranger remarked, “You look like summer in that outfit!” :D

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Summer rose garden

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Summer rose garden

This summer, I paired the combo with my new metallic sandals, which are proving to be staples. Soooo comfortable — and no blisters at all! None of that typical “breaking in” period. So happy I got these Naturalizer sandals!

Librarian for Life + Style | Summer rose garden

Details:  Floral tunic:  Dept., Abu Dhabi, old  /  Khaki shorts:  Kohl’s, gift-carded last summer  /  Metallic sandals:  Naturalizer via DSW, last month  /  Fedora:  Stetson, bought at hat shop in Amsterdam, 2010  /  Gold hoops:  Birthday set from in-laws, 2012  /  Yellow colorblocked tote bag:  Gift from my mom

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Summer rose garden

Librarian for Life + Style | Summer rose garden

For other outfits I’ve worn to rose gardens in Portland, click here, here, here, and here.

Link ups:  Summer Style  /  Look What I Got  /  Spotlight Weekly  /  Tres-Chic Fashion Thursdays  /  Third Thursday Threads

Gingham + black

What to wear when you need to go to your workplace, but you’re not actually working? (I am technically off-contract for the summer, but I am still having to do work-related things. Because that’s how life is sometimes.) So I still wanted to look “put together” (as always), but I could definitely be more casual. So this is what I came up with:  a gingham button-down and tailored black shorts.

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

The black gingham wire headband was a last-minute thought, and I liked how the pattern and color played off the rest of the outfit. My husband really liked it, too! :)

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

Details:  Blue gingham button-down:  Old Navy, gift-carded spring 2012  /  Black shorts:  Charter Club via Macy’s, gift-carded last summer  /  Black strappy sandals:  Lands’ End, this winter  /  Canvas tote bag:  The Austin Review, gift from my husband this winter  /  Black gingham headband:  Free gift with purchase from ModCloth, old

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

The backdrop is this cool gate at a local school, with sculpted pencils, protractors, and compasses, and even floppy disks (along the bottom border).

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Gingham + black

And it’s so funny that it turns out I had a similar idea — about what to wear to work when you’re technically not working — almost exactly two years ago! I even went with the same gingham button-down!

Librarian for Life + Style  |  Remixing a gingham button-down

2012  /  2014

Link ups:  What I Wore Wednesdays  /  I Feel Pretty  /  Trend Spin Linkup