Outfits
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A Simpler Wardrobe: Summer Outfits + A New Leaf

These are outfits I wore the first summer after I set out to whittle down my wardrobe. Here’s what the fall and winter and spring before looked like. How I used to get dressed. How I got started on wardrobe editing. First lessons learned. An interview on my Nothing New Challenge.

If you’ve visited this blog before or follow on social media, you’re probably wondering where A Native Blonde has off and disappeared to. I’m still here! The thing is, ANB didn’t seem to fit right anymore and I’m not sure why really – maybe it’s that summer itch to change? Growing a bit older? A paradigm shift? Susan Miller’s lunar eclipse hoorah? Who knows.

“Rose & Fig” has grown on me as it’s turned over in my mind for the past couple of weeks. Tonight I finally decided, well, let’s do this already! Going forward I hope to spend more time around here, at any rate, and I am so grateful for your support and thoughts. I hope you find this notebook useful, and am so happy that you dropped by.


SCAD Museum of Art

Apr 29, 2014

“I recall my fleeting instants in Savannah
as the taste of a cup charged to the brim.”
-Henry James

For me Savannah, Georgia is like an old friend: Eternally warm and at the ready for a leisurely walk, ever armed with good stories and a cool gin and tonic. It’s been two summers too long since we last visited, and this past weekend Mr. Ralston and I had a few hours to stroll the cobblestone streets. Favorites:

  • SCAD Museum of Art  I’m in love with everything about this museum, from the lake-drenched c-prints and Boschian collages, to the antebellum architectural heritage and clean concrete expansion, to the pared down landscaping and the illy issimo miscela espresso in the petite museum café.
  • Leopold’s Ice Cream  There’s nothing like a lavender and chocolate-chocolate-chip double scoop waffle cone, served by Mr. Stratton on a breezy southern night. Nothing.
  • Vic’s on the River Vic’s will always be that special place where Chad and I celebrated our first anniversary. The food is always incredible. Ships pass by along the balcony all evening. There’s a corner where Union soldiers sketched a map on the wall 150 years ago. It’s no wonder that during that War Between The States Sherman spared this city from burning as a Christmas gift to the South.

BLACK LEATHER & FAUX LEATHER SHORTS. Thrift & Vintage: Saks Fifth Avenue cropped cream jacket, Banana Republic top, Jennifer Moore sandals, Bangles. Phillip Lim Pashli Medium Black: The Real Real / Shopbop / Nordstrom / Net-A-Porter. Michael Kors “Runway” Watch.


Beach Essentials: We Are Handsome

May 11, 2014

When headed to the ocean: Pack light. Pack well.

Ray-Ban Aviator Classics

We Are Handsome “The Impressor” lion bikini (Shopbop, Revolve)

This past season marked four years since my last bathing suit purchase and almost two years after my initial obsession with Aussie swimwear label We Are Handsome.

In December, Atlanta was working with below zero temperatures, but eBay did not know/care and wondrously sent a note that my saved search for the sold-out “We Are Handsome The Impressor” had turned up a new result. In my size. And favorite style. 70% off. Six months of hibernation later, she’s ready for the beach. How’s that for patient purchasing?


Breton and Bones

May 21, 2014


eBay Paige skyline skinny jeans, Rayban aviators, Michael Kors watch, thrifted top and hat, vintage bone necklace.

Out and about in cozy boyfriend jeans and a vintage bone necklace. Look at those tiny hand-carved elephants and flowers! I always wonder about the stories behind gorgeous old necklaces. I imagine this one came home with some gypsy-souled woman after her holiday along the horn of Africa, adventuring through markets and riding jeeps on wild safaris. Can you tell I’m coming down with a case of summer wanderlust, already?

BRETON TOP: Everlane, Saint James. BOYFRIEND JEANS: Shopbop (also all on sale), Current/Elliott, Wildfox. VINTAGE CARVED NECKLACE: Etsy, eBay, Anthropologie. FELTED HAT: Cuyana.


Minimal Black Sandals

May 23, 2014

Top Row: Frye (Carson), Charles David (Glory), Pierre Hardy.
Middle: Tod’s (Fringe), Saint & Libertine (Celest), Steven (Britnii).
Bottom: MTNG (Annie), Ancient Greek (Alethea), Topshop (Haven).

Don’t mind me, just hopelessly stalking minimalist black sandals. Same me who’s not supposed to buy new retail until 2015. Who’s developed a mega crush on Charles David. If you have to assemble a new sandal (Clay + Bros, SSeko) does it count?


Layer Cake: Go-To Summer Weekend Uniform

May 27, 2014

For two years, my go-to summer weekend uniform: white tee, black leather shorts, nude minimal sandals, vintage gold and tortoise-shell jewelry. The sheer silk back of this Theory tee is a welcome detail in balmy Atlanta, and the leather shorts have been on heavyrotation since March.

BLACK LEATHER & FAUX LEATHER SHORTS. Thrifted Theory tee. Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel. Vintage necklace and bangles. Rayban Classic Aviators. Michael Kors Ava Sandals.


Everlane Seed Stitch

May 31, 2014


Couple of Thoughts on Conscious Consumption

June 06, 2014

Nearing half a year without a retail clothing or accessory purchase, I’m starting to become more aware of my (complicated) former relationship with my wardrobe and beyond. It’s been difficult to hunt down a few items (like a good used pair of minimal black sandals) but also quite liberating to walk past department store sale signs with no interest in dropping in – especially as I know I’m still able to browse thrift and vintage freely, in person and online.

It’s also shifted shopping interests to other areas that I normally tend to neglect a bit – good lipstick, a manicure set, perfume, candles, face potions. I’m also paying more attention to my diet and skin, hair, and body care routines. No pork or beef, fewer sweets, and lots of hydrating lotions and water. My mind seems to be subconsciously coping with the total loss of retail fashion by taking better care of (er, peacocking?) other aspects of my general presentation to the world at large.

Here’s what I decidedly did not anticipate: The past six months have dramatically increased my awareness of other areas of “new product” consumption and waste. Grocery packaging, coffee cups, new cars, Ikea furniture, junk mail.

And so I find that the subconscious that I’m training to avoid retail clothing purchases can’t distinguish between a dress and a plastic fork and cries foul when I reach for either one. Every Starbucks cup with “Jess” scrawled across it bears a tiny mark of guilt. Throwing away something that could be repaired (even if with great difficulty) starts to feel like cheating. Last week I got the notion to make an Instagram to photograph every item I place in a trash bin for a week, a month, a year – but remembering something isn’t a trade off for throwing it out, is it?

A friend from college once took on the problem by creating a Closed Loop waste system for one year.  H&M is approaching it with dresses like the one above, completely made of recycled plastic. Free People has declared 2014 the Year of Sustainable Fashion and is partnering with sustainable fashion companies. Then there’s always the simple concept of buying less, and buying used when possible. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these actions?

H&M Conscious Collection Dress (2013 Vanessa Paradise edition), Rayban aviators, vintage bone necklace (Etsy, eBay, Anthropologie) and clutch, Free People “Corsica” Heels (last season, similar: Vince, Sol Sana, Saint & Libertine, Steven).


Knotted Details

Jun 10, 2014

On weekdays I sometimes catch myself falling into a rut, wearing the same outfit pairings week over week. Pieces with knots, drapes, and twists provide a bit of easy detail, making life a little more stylish and kind on those frequent mornings where clothes happen before coffee.

Keeper of all things chic and sensible Helmut Lang masters these little details oh so well, and the label’s Spring 2014 Lookbook is full of office-to-date-night inspiration.

KNOTTED SKIRTS: Free People, Theory, Acne, Helmut Lang, Helmut Lang, Helmut Lang. KNOTTED DRESSES: ASTR, Tbags, 291, alice + olivia, Helmut Lang, Theory. STRAPPY BLACK SANDALS: Vince, Sol Sana, Saint & Libertine, Steven. Vintage silk top, Nieman Marcus. Thrifted knotted skirt, Lush. Free People “Corsica” Heels, last season. Rayban Classic Aviators. Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel. Kors “Runway” watch (on sale).


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How to Care for Your Swimsuit

Jun 12, 2014


We Are Handsome “The Impressor” bikini

Good care can add years to the life of your bathing suit, as proven by that time I went four spring breaks without buying a new one. There are just a few cardinal sins to avoid: washing machines, hot water, and too much soap and oil contact.

  • First things first, rub on your sunscreen and tanning oil at least a few minutes before you suit up as the oils can break down stretchy fabrics and elastic quickly. Whether tanning or swimming always rinse your bathing suit in cool water before you hang it to dry.
  • When washing I find clothing detergents to bit a bit harsh on most suits and instead use the gentlest body wash or shampoo I can get my hands on. Aim for the fewest ingredients possible and naturally-derived formulas; avoid anything with moisturizers. 2016 update: Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap is my favorite for washing swimsuits. It’s so gentle and natural that you can even brush your teeth with it.
  • Always, always hand-wash your suit with just a couple drops of soap. Knead and soak it under cool water for a few minutes, then rinse completely and gently wring and hang or lay flat to dry.

Happy swimming and sunning!


Asheville: North Carolina

Jun 23, 2014

Earlier this month we loaded up overnight bags and dogs for a weekend drive to the mountains. Between a friend’s wedding, brewery hopping, and hiking we had the pleasure of staying at an urban micro farm in West Asheville called The Roost. Nestled in a century-old farm house, the bed and breakfast was an absolute dream from the warm dinner table and laughter of new friends to a cozy front porch swing for afternoon coffee, homebrew tap in the kitchen, and waking up each morning to fresh crepes and waffles.


Cut + Copy Concert: What to Wear

Jun 25, 2014

One of my favorite parts of summer is catching concerts and festivals around town. Last week we bicycled to Cut + Copy (my very favorites) so I opted for ride-friendly jeans, cross-strap bag, booties, minimal black silk shirt, and a pop of lip stain.

Opening with Classixx, the whole show was incredible, as is the whole of Cut + Copy’s new album – made even better by the bromance story of how Alexander Skarsgård ended up in the Free Your Mind video.


H is For

Aug 8, 2014

When I added this gold letter pin to a thrifted crossbody bag, H stood for Hunt. Yesterday as I carried it with me from Plywood Presents I realized that H can also stand for helpfulness, hopefulness. Honor, humility, honesty. For hard work. From J.Crew to Ralph Lauren to their matching shops, this credo has led Sid and Ann Mashburn as they build a family brand in the heart of Atlanta. Sid said something that resonated with my own credo as I continue to whittle down my own wardrobe – We don’t want to sell you a lot of clothes. We want to sell you the right clothes. Sticking to neutrals and this shark tooth necklace CPR gave me from Le Fortune in Barcelona, I’m on my way.

BLACK LEATHER & FAUX LEATHER SHORTS. CHARLES DAVID ‘GLORY’ SANDALS. Thrifted monogram bag and Eileen Fisher silk top.


Summer Style Shifts

Aug 25, 2014

Hudson Horrigan Booties. Thrifted dress, jewelry, and straw market tote.
Milly Dresses: Nordstrom, Shopbop, Bloomingdales. Little white dresses: ASOS, Shopbop.

One month left of summer. Transitioning into cozier pieces, falling back in love with old Bon Iver and Junip playlists. Campfires, longer nights, and those two weeks of the year when you can get away with wearing a sundress with boots. Fall in Georgia will forever be my favorite place.

I’m living in my beloved Hudson Horrigan booties and wearing the threads off this Milly dress. I’ve also started another wardrobe cull as I plan out this year’s cool weather gaps, and was surprised to see how short my shopping list has become. Most wishlist pieces are replacements of worn-out clothes I’ve loved to bits, like a certain J.Crew grey merino sweater and half-decade-old black suede wedges from Target. The remaining items are more practical or more “me” versions of an item, like the search for a flat-heeled black riding boot to replace Cole Haan high-heeled ones that don’t see much wear anymore, and a black felted hat for days I’m not wearing brown.

Looking at my wardrobe I feel happier with my closet than ever before. Getting dressed is easier with every morning, even though my total number of items has dropped with each season I’ve worked to cull, shop with strategy, and save up for better quality items. If you’re interested in doing more with less, here’s how I got started:

2016 update: Here’s how I’ve edited my wardrobe
in the years since my first clean outs.