Planning for Retirement: Stepping Into the Void

I know my readers aren’t necessarily in the same boat as I am right now, but I’m hoping everyone can learn a bit from my experience.  I’ll have little to say about fashion per se today – hope that works for you!

In about a week I will be retiring for the second time.  The immediate future will be very busy because Kate and her husband are having a baby (you can follow her progress on Instagram) in a few weeks and moving a few weeks after that AND R and I are moving 2500 miles from the Bay Area to Knoxville, TN.

Yes, I am stepping off a cliff.  No, I don’t know what the future will look like.  R has been retired for a few years and he has been quick to find a million projects to keep him, and more particularly, his brain occupied.  In short, he cannot understand why I choose the expression “stepping off a cliff” to describe how I feel at the moment.

Maybe this is the way I should feel – stepping away from a career that I never envisioned in the first place and in which I had way more success than I ever thought possible.  I’m still the same person as before, but just one stripped of my professional credentials and accomplishments.  It doesn’t bother me that others will categorize me as old because I retired – I dealt with that shock when I first used my Medicare card!  But it is more that I call fall in the “former”/”ex” category.

I’ve taken an inventory of who I am today and I am determined to focus on the positive dimensions of the inventory spreadsheet and maybe that’s all I need to do until we get through the baby birthing, the packing and the move.  I also have a written list of things I want to do in this new stage of life and I can keep adding to that over the next two months.

So for now I am this: humorous, curious, intelligent, grateful, pretty good partner and wife, lucky all my life, pretty good mom, fit and determined to remain so, well-dressed, interested in the world, travel and many, many topics, organized, full of love, a Quaker in my core values, a lover of beauty, gardens, man made beauty and art. That’s what I’ll hang onto until all these life changes have happened.

P.S.  AND the whole process of change has taken a different slat because I took a bad fall last Friday at my daughter’s house.  I fell on and hurt my right hip and won’t know for a few days what will be required to get better.  Until then, I’m basically immobile and useless.  This definitely was NOT the plan.

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What Jeanne Wore: A Dressier Work Outfit

dressy work outfits | Two Take on Style

dressy work outfits | Two Take on Style dressy work outfits | Two Take on Style dressy work outfits | Two Take on Style dressy work outfits | Two Take on Style

Asos skirt (similar), J. Crew Collection shirt (similar), French Connection shoes (similar), J. Crew earrings (similar), old chain belt (similar)

Here is an outfit the likes of which I’ll probably never wear again after I retire in a few weeks. I mean, this is for sure a work outfit on the dressier end of the spectrum.  So today’s outfit is an homage to dressy work ensembles – silk blouse, VERY dressy skirt, heels and fancy costume jewelry.

As we all know, every year work clothes have come more casual.  All the while I have strived to maintain a higher standard of work fashion – the result is that my colleagues have seen me as sort of a “fashion icon”.  It’s sad that business fashion has come this route to the present day – at least sad to to this fashionista!

Shop my picks:

See another way I’ve worn this mint blouse:

cardigans and button ups | Two Take on Style

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What Jeanne Wore: Plaid Coord with Long Vest

plaid coord with long vest | Two Take on Style

plaid coord with long vest | Two Take on Style plaid coord with long vest | Two Take on Style plaid coord with long vest | Two Take on Style plaid coord with long vest | Two Take on Style

Topshop top (similar coord top and bottom, or get the look with a dress), Anthropologie vest (similar), Ann Taylor shoes, Banana Republic earrings

This Topshop combo top and skirt was pretty inexpensive when I bought it a few years ago.  I thought it might last a season, but it has proven to be a real workhorse.

Today’s outfit is my latest ensemble.  I’ve combined it with a long burgundy vest I found on sale at Anthropologie and I think the vest really gives additional punch to the top and skirt. Long vests and dusters work like that for me: they make a standard top and bottom – whether skirt or pants – look chicer and more polished.

Shop my picks:

See how I’ve reworked the top part of this coord:

checks | Two Take on Style

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Packing for Six Weeks in Hot Weather

hot weather

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Well, first let me say that I’ll never look like any of these women in hot weather.

I’ll be spending five or six weeks between Washington, DC and Knoxville, TN this month and next.  I grew up in the humid hot muck that is the east coast in summer so I am not a newbie. But I haven’t been in that weather for an extended period since the days when I wore lots of shorts, sleeveless tops, and cute little sundresses.

I’ve been developing the criteria for my hot-weather wardrobe knowing that I have to fit everything into a 22″ roller bag and a smaller carry-on bag and my trip won’t involve any “dress up” occasions.   I, of course, want to take all my favorite cute clothes but there is no way I’ll be able to do that.  Here are my guidelines:

  •  Four pairs of comfortable pants – no tight skinny jeans which will just be too hot.  But here I’m talking chinos like these:

  • One pair of cropped flared jeans and one pair of denim midi culottes so I can get my “trendy” on.
  • Six tees – two long sleeved (good for wearing over exercise clothes to gym) – given my proclivities these will probably be striped or white.
  • Two dressier tops – I just bought this, for example:

  • One button front midi dress or a long vest – I can wear the former as a dress, a tunic over pants, and as a duster.
  • One skirt – probably my Shoptiques version of this one because I love it so much and it screams summer:

  • One long sleeved crisp white shirt
  • Outerwear – my light apple green Eileen Fisher anorak
  • Two sweaters – undecided here but one will be black
  • Three sets of exercise clothes

I cannot even think about shoes (could take up 50% of my available space!), jewelry, or other accessories – I’ll report back on that next week!   What have I missed here?  What tips do you have for hot weather packing?

Check out these beautiful on-sale hot weather clothes from Banana Republic and H&M!

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What Jeanne Wore: Plaid Tunic and Black Skirt

plaid tunic and black skirt | Two Take on Style

plaid tunic and black skirt | Two Take on Style plaid tunic and black skirt | Two Take on Style plaid tunic and black skirt | Two Take on Style plaid tunic and black skirt | Two Take on Style

Zara tunic (similar), Gaultier skirt (similar), Zara shoes (similar), Natori necklace (I paid much less!)

Today I am taking a leap and showing an outfit that did NOT work.  So, for Heaven’s sake, don’t try to copy this look!  The idea was to wear my long tunic over a black top and column skirt.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  What went wrong?

  • The tunic fabric clung to the skirt fabric so the outfit had no “flow”.
  • Nothing delineated my waist and the result is very unflattering.
  • The necklace I chose is too bulky for these light fabrics.  The collar of the tunic slipped around, so I buttoned the top button.  Also a mistake.

Many lessons in this outfit for me… the biggest one:  if I have doubts when I first put the outfit on, TAKE IT OFF and try again!

Shop my picks:

See a way I’ve worn this tunic that worked better:

check tunic with leggings | Two Take on Style

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What Jeanne Wore: Mustard Lace Skirt

mustard lace skirt | Two Take on Style

mustard lace skirt | Two Take on Style mustard lace skirt | Two Take on Style mustard lace skirt | Two Take on Style mustard lace skirt | Two Take on Style

Ann Taylor skirt (similar), J.Crew shirt (similar), Anthropologie belt (similar), Sole Society shoes (similar), old silver earrings (similar), old silver bracelet (similar)

This is an interesting outfit for me to analyze.  I love, love, love this mustard skirt but I find it hard to combine with other items in my wardrobe.  I mean, I love the mustard color and the lace, but mustard is a hard color to combine with other other colors AND the skirt is a sort of feminine cut, i.e. not a harder-edged pencil skirt.

So I attempted to go a little ethnic/bohemian (I mean – what else can you call this belt?) and I’m still not sure this worked.  Maybe the skirt needs to skew more casual (pair it with tees) or dressier – I just don’t know.  Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten the skirt in the first place.  What I do know is that it will be much more casual in the future when I launch my re-retirement!

Shop my picks:

See another way I’ve worn this floral print shirt:

sleeveless trench and cropped flares | Two Take on Style

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What Jeanne Wore: Mixed Stripes

Mixed Stripes | Two Take on Style

Mixed Stripes | Two Take on Style Mixed Stripes | Two Take on Style Mixed Stripes | Two Take on Style Mixed Stripes | Two Take on Style

Banana Republic top (similar), Banana Republic pants (similar), Zara belt (similar), Ann Taylor shoes, Banana Republic earrings (similar)

Stripes galore!  Yes, I could have put a navy top with these pants – expected AND a little dull. Instead I decided to do multiple stripes.  Now, I will tell you that no one rushed up at work to tell me how great this outfit looked so it may be up to you, dear readers, to validate my decision.  But I’ll own my choice because I love pattern mixing!  What do YOU think?

Shop my picks:

See another pair of striped pants I love:

striped culottes and denim | Two Take on Style

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What Jeanne Wore: Oversized White Shirt

Oversized White Shirt | Two Take on Style

Oversized White Shirt | Two Take on Style Oversized White Shirt | Two Take on Style Oversized White Shirt | Two Take on Style Oversized White Shirt | Two Take on Style

Asos shirt (similar), Banana Republic pants (similar), Mango necklace (similar, wear two at once), J. Crew shoes (similar), old bracelet (similar)

I. Love. This. Shirt.  I actually ordered it twice from Asos.  The first time I returned it, believing that it was just too extreme.  But then I continued to think about it – and quickly reordered it!  I won’t admit how many times I’ve done that before – ordering an item, returning it, and then re-ordering.  Certainly a case where in-person shopping might be more economical!

Anyway, this shirt is such a statement and looks great with practically any pair of skinny pants.  The pants almost match the shirt’s extremist nature – and the whole ensemble made me very happy.

Shop my picks:

See how I styled another oversized white top:

gilded ankle pants and floaty top | Two Take on Style

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Updated Closet Staples: The Essential Black Pants

essential black pants | Two Take on Style

essential black pants | Two Take on Style

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We addressed this topic early in the life of our blog and it seems like the right moment for an update.

First I must confess that it would be impossible for me to have a single pair of black pants – I mean, there are the perfect black JEANS, then the perfect black TROUSERS, and also the perfect black dress up PANTS.  Then there are four seasons and different climates and it goes on and on.  For the current season, I have four pairs of black pants I rely upon.

But I only have one pair of what I call the truly “perfect” black trousers.  Their characteristics:

  • The perfect shape – in my case these are narrow, but not too skinny, ankle pants. In general it is important that they are stylish but not TOO trendy.
  • The perfect fabric – For me, this is always wool crepe which can be worn three seasons a year, at least.  Wool crepe, if it is good, holds its shape and easily drops any wrinkles.  But your taste may be different; the best rule of thumb: know your fabric and how it wears and washes.
  • The perfect fit – I can get this with certain pants right off the rack, but you may need alterations.  Don’t shortchange this step – you want your essential black pants to look chic every time you wear them.
  • The perfect price – for me, this ends up being $150-$200 on sale in order to get all the characteristics I’m seeking.  Decide ahead of time on your price point.

Below are some black pants that have the potential to be perfect – and at a reasonable price!. Check them out!

See a few ways I’ve styled my black pants recently:

orange and olive | Two Take on Style

long layers | two take on style

patterned jackets | Two Take on Style

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What Jeanne Wore: Tunic and Pencil Skirt

Tunic and Pencil Skirt | Two Take on Style

Tunic and Pencil Skirt | Two Take on Style Tunic and Pencil Skirt | Two Take on Style Tunic and Pencil Skirt | Two Take on Style Tunic and Pencil Skirt | Two Take on Style

COS tunic (similar), Banana Republic skirt (similar), Jeffrey Campbell shoes, BaubleBar earrings, Tory Burch bracelet (similar)

I’ll admit it – I have a love/hate relationship with tunics.  You have seen me wear them before, but I am never entirely sure I like them.  They look great with skinny pants, but with skirts? I was completely seduced by the tomato red color of the top you see here, BUT I’m still not sure whether it looks like a sack or not.  Maybe a longer, tighter skirt?  Hmmm.  Well, this fashion blogging game is full of uncertainties.  And don’t get me started on the fringe on these sandals – the jury is still out!

Shop my picks:

See another of my tunic outfits:

mustard and purple | Two Take on Style

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