• Style by Joanie

    dressing monochromatically

    Let’s discuss dressing monochromatically! It happens to one of my favorite ways to pull together an outfit and I find it to be very chic. I love to layer lots of white/creams together (as you can see in the photo below), or a tonal blue outfit with navy pants and a light blue sweater, a soft pink paired with a brighter one. I think there is some confusion as to how it’s done and if the idea is to pair the same exact shades of a color together. Which does work, but unless you bought the pieces as a set you will have a hard time finding an exact match. To me, it’s more fun to lean into the shades of a color. I like to match the undertones, so if a red is warm (leans orange) I wouldn’t pair if with a cool tone (that has a blue feeling to it). If the undertones are the same, they’ll work well together. I’m also pro denim on denim and neutrals on neutrals together like brown and black.

    Notice how often these monochrome looks include mixing different textures. For example, a thick pair of denim with a light chambray top is going to work better than thin jeans with that same top. A sleek red leather skirt looks good with a chunky red sweater, thin silk pants looks pretty with a cotton button down shirt, etc.

    (This is a post by my sister Joanie! All links are affiliate where applicable.)

    Let’s look at a few looks and why they work.

    This first one has three shades of white and they are also mixing textures, denim with a t-shirt and some type of linen blazer. I really love pairing a white t-shirt with a pair of cream pants. It feels simple but very pulled together. (photo from J.Crew)

    This second one in yellows gives you an instant calm when you look at her and that’s because tonally the outfit makes sense. If you were pulling together a look and laid two items side by side you could tell by looking at them if they worked together. Let your eye lead you. (photo from J.Crew)

    One way to rework our wardrobes when we’re getting tired of everything we own is to pull out a piece and pair with something you’ve never worn it with before. We tend to revisit the same looks over and over because it feels comfortable to us. Give yourself a challenge of creating a monochrome look with what’s in your closet, no buying required. You can start with a neutral, like shades of brown (see below) or white.

    Meghan Markle often dresses monochromatically. Notice here how her stylist pulled in different textures, a woven top, satin skirt and velvet pumps. Mixing the textures keeps it interesting and keeping it all in the same color family keeps it sophisticated which is crucial for the type of functions she attends.

    We’re going to be seeing a lot of these looks this fall. Here are a few I’ve noticed around the web.




    #1. Also, note the sweater vest. They’re coming back in a big way.
    #2. Always going to be drawn to a green on green look.
    #3. Pretty shades of grey.




    #4. I know I’ve mentioned this before but H&M really does have great knits and this chunky one is very versatile.
    #5. Sweats elevated by wearing them as a matching set.
    #6. These pants are a favorite. They run true to classic sizing, which for me is one size bigger than Madewell or J.Crew.




    #7. I like the addition of the belt with this look.
    #8. Love love love this purple look. Would be perfect for the holidays, a departure from the classic darker color we tend towards in the winter.
    #9. Okay and this very ice princess look to end on! I guess my next post should be a satin skirt round up because they’re everywhere and so versatile.

    XO, Joanie

  • Homeschool

    more about classical conversations

       We are beginning our fifth year in Classical Conversations (CC) this year. As a homeschooler who resists being pinned to any form or shape, it astonishes me that we’ve stayed with it for so long. This will also be my third year “tutoring,” the word CC uses to describe the parent-volunteer who teaches the three-hour-morning class session to an assortment of ages (there are typically three to five classes in a community, grouped by age from 4-12). I wouldn’t say I’m particularly gifted at this, it’s just a job that needed someone, and I like to help when I can.

    visiting the annual sunflower garden at Billings Farm

         The timing is appropriate to reflect on our years with CC because my family was just at the doctor’s office, having that annual (or biannual, as covid made it) well-visit. A visit where questions like, “What’s your favorite subject in school?” come up as a formal question they’re expected to answer on their own. Our two oldest answered separately (I managed to give them their own appointments this year), “History! I love history.” And, “What’s a subject you sometimes need help with?’ Again, both answered the same: “Geography.” Those answers are a testimony. CC inculcated the love of history. It introduced the language, the characters, the way it arcs in spots, and blurs in others. The way it invites to be understood, and whispers the stories buried within. And CC introduced the challenge of geography. The immense amount to be learned. How great it felt when you knew the names of most of the places on the map. How often you don’t know all the names. How it’s changed throughout history.

        A kind reader emailed me to ask about what she might expect her five-year-old daughter’s first time CC experience to look like. Thinking of a response brought me way back to when we first enrolled, on a lark really. I thought—a four-year-old, what do I have to lose? If she hates it, we won’t go. If she loves it, it will be far more content than I ever expected to introduce this year. I think I experienced whiplash at the first meeting. The tutor was saying facts over and over again, and only asking the kids to repeat after her? No explanations? No graphics to introduce these characters characters? She’d scrawled these facts on a whiteboard? Then she would just move on to a completely new topic, and have them repeat that too?

       But the thing that got us first, a few weeks into it, was their word recognition from the timeline song and the history sentences. In church our kids leaned over and hissed, “Caesar Augustus?! That’s on the timeline song.” A few weeks later, “Jerome completes the Vulgate?! That’s on the timeline song.” We realized that recognizing language out in the world felt incredible to them. Words have meaning, even if they didn’t fully understand what that meaning was yet.

       The crème de la crème of this out in the world experience came at the end of the year. Our oldest had been following along with the memory work, even though she was enrolled in public school at the time. She couldn’t resist it; from the moment she heard the first sung history sentence, she was smitten. Anyway, the year is finishing up, and the CC kids have memorized the Preamble to the Constitution. It’s one of the last history sentences for the Third Cycle, the USA history cycle. So she goes with her public school on a field trip to the city courthouse. Waiting in line inside, she starts scanning the walls. All of a sudden she realizes she recognizes the words carved into the wall. “We the people, of the United States in order to form a more perfect union…” There was the preamble, carved in marble, larger than her. How cool is that? Second grade, spotting significant and meaningful language in its context, murmuring the lines to herself, before she even fully understood them.

       Fast forward three years. She’s starting her third year enrolled in CC. We also enroll her in an online Latin class—again, on a lark, let’s just try it!. First homework: memorize the first declensions noun endings. Well, that’s easy, because she memorized all—first, second, third, fourth, and fifth declension—noun endings when she was seven, back in CC’s Cycle One. First year Latin homework just became significantly easier!

       It’s a myriad of experiences like that that keep me coming back to the classical education peg-and-hooks theory. The idea that we put these pegs up for them, and maybe they have nothing to hang on the pegs, for awhile. Then they hear an adult they admire mention Martin Luther King Jr. They sort through their memory of memorized words and phrases, find the peg “Civil Rights Movement,” and hang that experience there. Later on, they see a picture of a Buddhist monk. They sort through their mind, find the peg “Founded in the sixth century B.C., Buddhism…” and hang that image there.

    So my answer to the “What is this, what did I sign up for?” would be: give it time. Watch it unspool.

    On a day-to-day basis, the CC curriculum is not the main thing I do with my children. I prioritize reading aloud together, practicing handwriting and spelling, learning to read (for the younger ones), and grammar and Latin for the older ones. I prioritize play and lots of free time. I play the CC cds in the car. If we’re on long car trips, I ask them to review weeks of CC on the app. If they tell me they wished they knew more of the material by heart, I help them practice it. But it’s supplemental, not primary, in my mind.

       But there’s more! There’s the community. Our community has grown to have a number of children the same age as my children. They look forward to connecting with them every week. They love the presentation portion of their class when they can learn from one another, raise their hands and ask questions of one another. They pay attention to which books their friends are reading, and which projects they shared.

       If you were just looking at politics, there would be a vast chasm of difference between the moms’ feelings. I know for a fact I would disagree vehemently politically with moms there that I admire enormously. But we don’t need to talk about that. Instead we talk about what we’re doing at home. How we’re learning together. What we’re reading. What we’re loving. How we’re handling difficult moments and discouragement.

       I find many of the moms are more curriculum driven than I am. They complete far more work with their children—more textbooks, more content. They anticipate homeschooling through high school (I don’t, this is an up-to-middle/high-school plan for me). But that’s fine with me. I like being around that, being encouraged by it, maybe even challenged by it.

       Speaking of challenging, it is challenging. Getting out of the house on time. Packing snacks and lunches. Preparing to teach a class. Helping the girls plan presentations. Writing papers for Essentials (the afternoon program that starts at age nine). Getting my toddler to go into childcare. We’re exhausted at the end of the day. But when I evaluate how we’re feeling on the drive home, which I do every time, it feels like–yes, this was good. And we enjoy our slow Thursday mornings all the more.

       Here’s something funny–I love researching things online. Love to arrive in a new town having already decided the first three things I’m going to do there. However, I do not research people’s opinions about Classical Conversations online. I don’t want to read blog articles about “Why I left Classical Conversations.” It just holds zero interest. I think, if it’s working for your children, if they’re excited and engaged, what more can you ask? Don’t load it with too much importance, you know? Don’t make it your whole ethos.

    Resources/Guidance I’ve enjoyed for digging in…

    Farmhouse Schoolhouse: the blog of an inspiring cc mom.

    Memory Work Coloring Books: on Etsy.

    Zag Homeschool: not cc specific, but this video course is the clearest, fastest thing I’ve encountered to feel like a comfortable, competent homeschooler. You can use the code RACHAEL50 for a 50% discount. (I previewed the whole course before endorsing it but am not being paid in any way to promote it.)

    The Well Trained Mind: this book has been super accessible and inspiring for the overall vision of a classical education.

    Heritage Mom: not a cc mom, but a Charlotte Mason homeschool mom (lots of crossover with Charlotte Mason & cc) that I admire.

    Half a Hundred Acre Wood: what’s gathered here can be a little overwhelming but it’s still a fantastic resource. Check out her booklists.

    Share your thoughts and comments!



  • Style by Joanie

    Skin & Beauty Post

    A reader emailed me a request to do a post on skincare which I thought was interesting because I feel like my approach to skin is almost non-existent. {editor’s note: this is a post by my sister, Joanie, from whom I get all my self-care inspiration! Enjoy-Rachael} Especially when you compare it to the current world of youtubers and bloggers who show their skin care cabinets packed to the gills with products. I felt under qualified to give tips but then I thought maybe it would be helpful to hear what a normal(ish) person is doing for their skin/hair/makeup routine and to talk about things like botox and aging. I feel like everyone has their little beauty secrets and I like knowing what works for people and the strange things they love. I like to keep things simple when it comes to beauty so that means anything I buy/keep around needs to pack a punch. I think that the idea of skincare can get wrapped into the idea of makeup, that they are one in the same, but for me, skincare is foundational and makeup is a far second. I’d much rather invest in a good face oil that keeps my skin feeling hydrated than in a foundation that covers my skin. I also think that our eyes might be used to seeing people made up, but I love a makeup less face. It feels so youthful. My sister and I definitely inherited my Mom’s sense of simplicity when it comes to these things. She taught us to wash our face with water, to put rubbing alcohol on a zit (which really works!) and that we didn’t need to shave above our knees.

    When we were younger, she took us to have a makeup lesson where they showed us simple techniques for doing our own makeup and the less is more approach which I stand by today. One of the most important thing they taught was how to tell which colors look good on us, how to compliment our personal complexion and coloring. This is something that I still use and think about today, especially when it comes to clothing. Understanding our coloring and what makes your eye pop and your skin glow is a fun part of personal style and gives us an appreciation for our own specific combination of hair, skin, eyes.

    My first memory of makeup (pre-makeup lesson mentioned above) is going to the Bobbie Brown counter at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, MI. I was browsing the products and they asked if I wanted my makeup done, I agreed and sat down. The only thing I really remember is that she told me that my foundation color was the second to the lightest they carry and that they name was “porcelain”. I can tell you that as an 8th grader, this was bad news. There are few things less cool than having porcelain skin which was why we were all hitting the tanning beds on the regular. Growing up, we all wanted to be tan which was not ideal for a very fair skinned Irish girl living in the Midwest where the sun doesn’t shine for 3 months straight. With age, I’ve grown to appreciate my very pale, freckled skin. I have freckles, lots and lots of them especially in the summer months. I’ve been told and taught how to cover them up but I actually love them.

    The point being, is that the pressure to look a certain way isn’t something that comes with age, it’s something that comes with birth. The specific societal demands we feel around our beauty might change as we get older but the messaging is consistent, it is most desirable to look one way, youthful and glowing and we should do whatever it takes to stay that way. We can’t talk about skincare without talking about the ever increasing presence of cosmetic work, botox, fillers, etc. Aging skin is something that I’m coming to learn about, I look in the mirror and see more fine lines than I used to, most of my friends are getting botox or talking about getting it. And the truth is, the ones that are getting it, look amazing. Their skin is tight and glowing and I am not above wanting my skin to look radiant. It can feel hard to live in a city like Los Angeles where every 45 year old looks 25 because of the work of their demonologist. We have started to distort and misunderstand what it means when we say, “they look great for their age.” We don’t understand what age really looks like anymore. Our eyes have been tricked by what we’re seeing. And we all feel that pressure to look “great” as we age too, whether we know it or not. Acknowledging that pressure that’s on us is actually part of what helps us process it.

    I am always all for everyone doing what feels right to them but understanding what we really want to do takes some digging. I think there is a fine line between doing something for ourselves and doing something because we feel like we need/have to, to stay young and desirable. It’s hard to push past the societal and internal pressures we feel. It takes pushing beyond the scary feeling of what if I get older and don’t get the work and I feel invisible? Or, what if all my friends do it and when we’re together I look older than all of them? Why not just do it now, when it’s available and it’s not too late? All of these are real questions and I don’t think it’s about doing or not the botox/fillers/cosmetic work. I think the most important part is doing what feels most honoring to you. And that can take some time to understand. I know it’s something I’m still working on.

    For me personally, I have currently chosen to not get botox or any work/injections done on my face. There are two reasons for that, one is that I don’t like the idea of injecting anything into my body. I’m hesitant to take Tylenol so getting botox feels like it’s going against that strong personal feeling. And the second is that I have seen people who get work and how it has aged on them. These people are in their 60’s now and of course that means that they were getting work years ago and things have improved and gotten better. But there is a common thread with all of them and that is they all think they look like they haven’t had any work done. To the outside eye, anyone could tell in a moment that they’ve had work but because it’s been so many years and they see their face everyday, they don’t see it anymore. And somehow, that idea of losing sight of myself feels like the biggest deterrent. This isn’t to say that someday I won’t change my mind on the subject. And if I do, I’l be sure to let you know.

    In the mean time, below are some makeup/beauty/hair products that I love and use.

    #1. There are two things I put on automatic subscriptions and have never regretted. One was my razor with Billie and the other is tampons with Lola. Both were items that I would run out of/forget to replace and would end up making an inconvenient trip to the store or an expensive CVS. I have the least frequent re-stock option for Billie and that works for me because I’m a recreational shaver, aka, I don’t always do it.

    #2. Dry brushing is one of my favorite ways to care for my skin. The sensation can feel intense at first but after a while you almost get addicted to it. I start at my toes and go in a circular motion up my body. I do it quickly once or twice a week before I shower and I find that my skin feels really soft and smooth. I don’t do this on my face.

    #3. I work at a blog so we get a lot of skin care and I’ve tried many a mask that has been sent our way. For me, there are two standouts. #1. is the Tata Harper Clarifying mask I’ve been having more breakouts lately then I normally do (might be the junk food) and this mask works wonders. It’s expensive but I’ve had it for a year and still have some left. To me, this one is worth it because I see a noticeable difference right away. #2. This is from Leahlani. It smells so good you almost want to eat it. This is less for breakouts and more for when my skin feels tired and dry. I use it for a glow and it works.

    #4. My husband and I share shower products which is interesting because we have very different hair but I like the idea of not having a cluttered shower and sharing means that we aren’t over-buying products and letting things go to waste. We both use and love this face cleaner. I don’t wash my face with it every day, if I’m not wearing makeup I mostly just splash water on it, but a couple times a week I’ll use it and I really like it. It makes your skin feel clean and fresh and never dries me out.

    #5. I wish it wasn’t the case but the face oil from True Botanicals is the best thing for my skin. I hate how expensive it is and I’ve tried a lot of the cheaper ones but they don’t have the same results. I ask for one for my birthday and I buy one at their black friday sale and those two carry me through for a year. I don’t wear makeup most days so I want my skin to feel hydrated and plump with just being moisturized, no makeup needed. I put it on morning and night and really rub it in which is maybe not recommended but I like giving my face a good massage. I have tried many of their products and to me, this is one only one that it really worth the price. But that’s my personal opinion!

    #6. The most intense beauty treatment I have ever done was microblading my eyebrows. My friend Kristie was about to launch her service and she offered to do them for free. It was too good of a deal to pass up and I ended up loving them. You can see the before and after here. It’s not something I can keep up because of the price but it made me a big believer in eyebrows. I now use Hour Glass Brow Gel and fill them in with Glossier Brow Flick.

    #7. Saie Beauty is definitely my go-to for any makeup related products. I like their Slip Cover that has SPF in it and gives the slightest bit of coverage. And I also love their liquid blush. I don’t use them daily but they would be great daily go-to’s if you wanted a 30 second makeup routine to give you a little lift.

    #8. Lipstick is tricky for me, they never end up staying on right and I worry that I have lipstick on my teeth and no one is telling me. When I got married, I wanted very natural makeup and I was worried about the lip. I wanted it to look pretty in photos but to still feel natural and like me. The makeup artist used “Boy” by Chanel and it has since been my go-to. It’s a beautiful flattering shade and I get a ton of compliments on it. It seems to have a bit of a cult following and for good reason.

    #9. I’m not a big body lotion person. I know I should moisturize but it somehow falls low on my priority list. I recently got this Coco Rose Body Oil and have been throughly enjoying it. I put it on after a shower when my skin is damp. A little goes a long way, it glides on and makes my skin feel smooth.

    #10. It might sound strange but I love my tongue scrapper. I’ve been using it for 5+ years and I have to use it every morning or it doesn’t feel right. I use it right when I wake up to scrape off all the gunk on your tongue from sleeping, rinse out my mouth and then drink coffee.

    P.S. Here is a picture of my face, just as it is. I had to resist the urge to stand in the good light, to fix my unruly eyebrows and to moisturize so my fine lines are less visible. I thought, well I look tired, maybe I should take a picture tomorrow but it’s just a normal face, being normal no Paris filter included.

    A face I know and love very dearly! Thank you Joanie!

  • At Home

    loved lately

    This summer is the first summer our homeschool group made a plan to meetup almost weekly for swimming, hiking, or berry picking. It’s been such a treat to see them, I’m so glad we made that intentional plan together. When it’s not raining, the girls and I are loving swimming in lakes, ponds, and pools. I make it out to the garden every once in awhile and pick my way among the weeds to check on everything. So many of the flowers are blooming for a bit, then dropping, with new ones quick to open. The pearls of green tomatoes are so promising.

    Doing old-normal things like going to outdoor farmer’s markets with the kids, having the neighbors over for drinks, and buying candy at the public pool feel SO special. I am just soaking it all up.

    A podcast, a recipe, a book, a newsletter I’ve loved lately…

    +This old interview with Esther Perel on the goop podcast. Esther is a famous sex therapist, you see her everywhere, speaking wisdom with her warm Belgian accent. But this particular talk was full of great thoughts about monogamy, relationships over time, and refreshing your perspective by allowing yourself to desire.

    +Books. I’m reading so many good books this summer. I absolutely loved Elaine Ferrante’s newer one, The Lying Life of Adults. She’s always incredible on the adolescent perspective, but this one felt modern and irreverent and sexy as well. The perfect summer book. My sister-in-law Hannah let me read some of her copy of Always Home by Fannie Singer, written from a daughter about her famous mother, Alice Waters. I’m looking forward to paging through for notes about her kitchen. I know Alice has a kitchen hearth—a kitchen fire that’s about waist-height—because I’ve seen it in videos. I love that idea and want to know more. But in my brief page-through I was immediately taken by thoughtfully and joyfully Fanny writes about her childhood. If you’re in the mood for an audiobook, I loved listening to Gabrielle Hamilton read her Blood, Bones, and Butter

    + I’ve recommended Younga’s instagram account, kidbookrecs, but now I must recommend to you her substack email Making it Work. She writes about some quirk of parenting and childhood every week or so, and dashes in a few recommendations at the end. It’s the perfect newsletter. I’ll share her opening paragraph from the story of her trip into New York with her daughter Ada…

    • “A few Fridays ago I took Ada to NYC for a day, a self-serving idea born out of my desire to see the Julie Mehretu show at the Whitney masquerading as quality solo time with my elder child. I revealed the idea to her the day before, that we’d be skipping school, waking up early to catch an Amtrak train, then going on an “adventure day” before sleeping over at her aunt and uncle’s apartment in Park Slope. It’s the thing I always wanted my parents to propose to me—joy-slash-adventure prioritized over education—which now seems preposterous to expect as a child of immigrants growing up in the 80s. I remember the envy of having friends whose parents let them take “mental health” days, and others whose parents pulled them out of class 48-hours before February break to depart for their trips to Disney World. I remember once proposing the idea of a mental health day to my mom, and was met with a truly blank stare of confusion, before being shuttled out the door to the bus.” [read it all here!]

    + Lux has a new book series she is obsessed with, Keeper of the Lost Cities. I wasn’t sure if there were any left for her to discover and fall in love with, so this is a treat. We found it sitting innocently on a bookstore shelf in Michigan. We bought the first book, she’s on her fifth re-read of it. She says it’s right up there with The Wizard of Oz series, Harry Potter, and Land of Stories.

    + And Joan has lately fallen for the audiobooks of How to Train Your Dragon. Few things as soothing in this life as a busy afternoon in the sun, followed by an audiobook and a snack, in the dim of the house.

    + This one-pan recipe for pasta tossed with ricotta, corn, basil, and brie. The kids loved it! It comes together very quickly, and I’m looking forward to subbing in zucchini for the corn. Our kids eat ricotta on toast with olive oil, so we always have it kicking around in the fridge.

    Well, that’s all for now. Anything you’re loving? Hope your summer is feeling sweaty, hydrated, and relaxing (or maybe just one of those?). A few things I’m in the market for, if you have any recommendations…a/ waffle iron b/ a one piece bathing suit c/ a ceramic stovetop pan.


  • Style by Joanie

    wedding + party attire


    & other stories

    Banana Republic




    Banana Republic

    Clare V


    just a time, a little inspiration for those social (gasp!) events this summer. Thanks Joanie! All links are affiliate.-Rachael

    Have you ever had this experience: you don’t have an event or party to go to and you see 50 fancy things you’d love to wear to party. but as soon as you have a reason to buy something fancy, suddenly not an item in sight interests you?

    This nameless phenomenon has happened to me more times than I can count (which is why I’m an advocate for always buying something you love, even if you don’t have a specific occasion for it!). However, there are some tips that can help with the major outfit block that can happen around events that have a looming deadline, i.e. ‘I have to have something to wear for a July 15th wedding.’ If you’re attending a wedding/party this summer and are looking for some ideas on how to find something to wear, this post is for you! – Joanie

    For starters, I always like to have some frame of reference for what I’m looking for before I start shopping. Even if it’s vague. If you have no idea what you want, it can seem like an endless fruitless scroll. Reference points can be anything, here are some ideas:
    – It can be the shape of the dress, maybe you want long and flow-y, or short and straight, or fitted at the waist with a skirt. Knowing the style of dress you’re looking for is helpful because you can narrow searching down by maxi, midi, mini, etc.
    – If you have something you’ve worn before and want a different version of that, maybe you wore an off the shoulder dress and felt like a million bucks and want something similar. Or you know you have a yellow dress that you always love in photos. Those are great jumping points. You can search by those key words too, i.e. yellow maxi dress.
    – Using other people as inspiration is also fun. I’ll often clock something that I see someone wearing and make a note to myself to visit it in my own life at some point. This could be someone in real life or a pinterest photo you saw. Recreating a look you love is fun and can narrow down your choices quickly which is great.

    It also helps to shop broadly and early. It can feel tempting to put the task off hoping that something will just magically fall into your lap to wear. Unfortunately, that will most likely not be the case and you’ll end up panic shopping closer to the date which usually ends up being more expensive and less satisfying.

    Borrowing a dress from someone is also a great option especially if you remember something they’ve worn that you’ve loved. “Hey, remember that green dress with sleeves you wore? Can I borrow that please.” I’ve loaned clothing to countless friends and I’m always happy to do so and I’m pretty sure the friends in your life will be happy to as well. It’s a compliment, you like their style!

    I also want to recommend pushing yourself just a little bit and trying things outside your comfort zone. It can feel soothing to wear something familiar but it can also feel liberating to wear something outside of your norm. If there is something you’ve always loved and thought you can’t pull off now is the time to give it a try. We didn’t live through a global pandemic to come out on the other side wearing black knee length dresses to every party!

    Here are somethings I’d wear to celebrations this summer!

    a/ Banana Republic

    b/ & other stories


    a/ Hot pink is the color I love to see anyone in. It’s vibrant, fun and looks great on everyone. Banana Republic has some really great dress choices right now. I love this dress and the fact that it’s an extra 30% off right now.

    b/ If you feel like trying out the oversized trend, this yellow dress is such a cute option. Also a great one for high heat days as nothing sticks to the skin. I recommend ordering one to two sizes up with items from & other stories. This dress from Free People is also a very pretty oversized easy fit option.

    c/ This linen dress with sequin detailing is so beautiful. I love the dramatic sleeve and the color palette. An outside the box option!

    d/ DVF


    f/ Sika

    d/I have a soft spot for DVF dresses. There is a reason she’s such a legend, she really knows how to cut a flattering dress. They are classics and something you’ll keep in your closet forever and also hold their value if you want to resell it. I love the bodice detailing on this one and the print. So much of what we’re shown these days is the same cut and style over and over so anything that branches from that is welcomed.

    e/ Short and structured is a great option, especially if you like to show some leg. When you’re shopping it’s nice to think about what body part you want to show off. That can help to narrow your options and buy something that feels fun and exciting to wear.

    f/ This is a great style if you like to show collarbone but don’t want any cleavage, something I’m always looking to find. This has a very structured bodice with a full skirt which makes it a great dancing dress. Make sure to read size chart as it’s in UK sizes. Also love this one shoulder option.

    g/ Banana Republic

    h/ Clare V

    i/ Mango

    g/ I love that Banana has two bias cut dresses, it’s a surprisingly hard cut to find. A slip dress should only exist in bias cut. It shouldn’t be cut straight up and down, it doesn’t lay right against the body correctly. This dress is beautiful and if you want the bra friendly one get this version. These dresses are easy to dress up or down, you can tie a sweater around your waist and head out for the day or pair it with a shawl and strappy shoes for evening.

    By the way, for a good strapless event bra, this is a good option!

    h/ I have to throw in one accessory because I love this Clare V. strawberry print bag as your party bag of the summer. I have this style in purple and it fits all the important things like phone, lipstick and wallet and has a very chic chain strap which make is a great evening option.

    i/ Let’s not forget separates! I personally plan to wear wide leg pants with a a high opened toed shoe to some parties this summer. I also love a good skirt moment, something with a soft drape that you can wear with a t-shit and a sparkly or denim jacket depending on the occasion. Like this one.

  • Style by Joanie

    Summer Staples







    Old Navy



    (a style guide post by my sister Joanie. All links are affiliate. Thanks Joanie!)

    What are the 10ish piece that you can reach for over and over again this summer? The simple sandal that’s great for the beach/pool but can be worn with a long dress to a fancy party. The swimsuit that works as a top paired with shorts or a skirt. The stripped button down shirt that is equally as cool as a cover up or half tucked into jeans when the sun goes down. A great pair of sunglasses that will be in style forever. I’m all for heavy hitting pieces, especially this summer when most of us are going to be traveling for the first time in a while.  




    To begin: a-go-with-everything sandal. When I travel in the summer I like to pack only two shoes: a running shoe and one sandal that can be worn for every occasion and this one fits the bill. 

    Remember when I mentioned that I was on a big Gap kick? I still am. I love their updated basics. This striped shirt is the perfect summer staple, I’d order up one to two sizes. Wear the heck out of it, it’s 100% cotton and can handle it. If you’re looking for a solid color option, I like this one

    It’s not all shorts and skirts for summer. An easy breezy pair of pants will get a lot of wear. I like to pair them with a bathing suit or a slim tank top. If I’m wearing it with something oversized you can full or half tuck it in to give the outfit some shape. They shouldn’t be tight so if they are, go up a size. People should look at you and think, “Wow, that girl looks so comfortable.” I love the white, flax, navy and green. 



    Old Navy

    A lot of summer things can be semi-sheer or you might want to undo a few buttons as the temps increase showing a bit more skin. When something is sheer or showing, our first thought can be to pair it with a flesh colored bra, which is fine but I think that pairing it with a white bra can be really pretty. Especially a lace one like this that can peek out from under your striped shirt. 

    I have a big soft spot for J.Crew swim. I’ve been wearing them since high school and they just fit. Their underwire option needs a call out. Swimsuit two pieces can be so tricky to fit in the top but this once goes by bra size and fits so well. This is also great to pair under your clothes if you know it’s going to show a bit. 

    A plus of a smocked dress is that I wear them bra-less which is especially nice when it’s hot and sticky in the summer. I like this one in black which might seem like not a summer color but I think it’s very chic paired with a classic sandal or a pair of sneakers. You can also wear this with a button down and tie it at the waist, a very 90’s move that is currently in vogue. This is also another great black dress option




    If you haven’t embraced summer as the time of the sun hat, it’s time to start now. Not only are they fun and chic to wear but they protect your face and shoulders when you’re running around outside all day. I love that this one is canvas which makes it really durable. I have some beautiful straw ones but they are impossible to pack and therefore don’t end up getting as much use. And this one comes in head sizes which is such a gift for large headed people like myself. I just ordered it! 

    I love a lightweight sweatshirt that you can stuff into your bag or leave in the back of your car for those unexpectedly cool evenings. I have one very similar to this and I wear it all the time. It’s slightly oversized and looks cute thrown over a dress, with shorts or pants. I love the grey and the purple. Order your normal size, it is cut to slightly oversized. 

    I am a proponent of investing in a pair of sunglasses that you love. They are basically the only accessory of the warmer months. You wear them everyday and having a pair you feel great in feels really good. I’ve had these Ray Bans for 5+ years and they are timeless. Order several pairs from a place with easy returns like Nordstrom and find your pair. If you’re looking for the polarized version you can find those here for only slightly more money. 

    Let’s pack in carry ons, throw together beach bags without too much thought, and embrace returning to life that is calling us out from our living rooms! -Joanie

  • At Home,  Baby,  garden

    A Summer at home goals list

    I’m in my two-week countdown toward full immunization. I’m planning monthly summer field trips with homeschool friends. I expect to host once or twice this summer. The girls are signed up for overnight camp. There’s a wedding on the calendar. So yes, it feels like things are “ramping up/opening up,” alll the euphemisms we use to describe the normal none of us even remember all that well now.

    One particular aspect of the former normal, I’ve been thinking about friendships and how much it seems like the terms have changed. The primary and most important elements for friendship right now are patience, understanding, empathy, and…patience again. Speaking from the experience of finding myself with an irrationally drained well for sympathy, I suppose it will take pathfinding to get back to that cool meadow where we understood each other fully and felt comfortable leaning on each other.

    a couple things of I’m looking forward to this summer, be it what it may…

    Contemplating an outdoor shower. A meditational experience that requires no action, only imagination.

    Foraging more. As each season I ends, I realize which plants were the plants I was looking for, like, “ooo that was blood root” after seeing the peppy tiny white flowers by the roadside all spring. Then, the following year I come into it so ready. This year, for the first time, I was prepared for ramps and fiddleheads. I was prepared to ask my friend for nettles before they went to seed. And to ask for rhubarb at the point in the season when there was plenty to share. Forestbound’s forage pinterest board is full of dreamy wandering inspiration.

    To make: day pickles. Cucumbers sliced really thin, sprinkled with salt and vinegar, and refrigerated.

    To make: Popsicles, always a riff on Molly’s recipe, which itself is a riff on David Lebovitz’s recipe. Please don’t try to skip the sugar. There is something about tart raspberries mixed with chillingly sweet sugar that can’t be replicated by honey. (I don’t bother to strain out the seeds.) Her recipe makes more than enough for our six small molds. So I  either put the extra mixture in the fridge and re-fill the popsicle molds after the girls have eaten them, or serve the extra as a sweet smoothie while we wait for them to freeze. Speaking of popsicles, we have these IKEA popsicle molds from eight years ago, and I thought I was in the market for an upgrade. But actually, I think I may just want a second set of those same IKEA ones. I like the size (small, very kid friendly amount), they are easy to pop-out, and the reusable sticks.

    Visiting a friend’s garden. Once you begin gardening and have made a healthy amount of mistakes, you learn SO much from seeing friend’s gardens! I like to plan stop-bys in late June when everything thriving.

    So. much. reading. Lux is in an online reading group this summer. Theme: Growing Up is Hard to Do. I think I’ll read all of the ones they are reading, just a week behind. A couple of the titles on the list are: The Red Pencil, Wonder, and A Monster Calls.

    Potato chips with sour cream. This is the snack I put on the table outside when I’m watching adult education things on zoom. The children descend and eat until the bowls are empty, stare at the screen for a bit, stare at me to see if I’m actually interested in this stuff, and then disappear. Classical Conversations has online tutors training that I’ll be working through, notebook at my side. I’m also thinking about signing up for this natural wine conference, since we’ve been learning about growing grapes here in Vermont. Are there any online education events you’re looking forward to?

    To order: a takeout burger, with fries. Thankful thankful to have an excellent burger and fries available at the Brownsville Butcher, not far from us. Soft serve too.

    Making dinner in the afternoon when it’s hot and sleepy, so you can settle into your evening and enjoy the best time of day.

    Watching butterflies.

    Staying too late at the water (pond, lake, etc). Staying through dinner because the light and the temperature are perfect. Even if everyone cries in the car on the way home.

    summer photos from Ashleigh Coleman, last year. 

  • Style by Joanie

    What Will We Wear This Summer?



    Iris & Ink


    BB Dakota


    Three Dots

    James Perse



    lemlem x H&M

    Farm Rio

    a style post by my sister Joanie. I usually try to post in between Joanie’s style updates, but she had this done and I thought it had such gems, it couldn’t be delayed.

    We’re entering post-covid life and if your world feels anything like mine here in LA, the energy and excitement is electric. This summer and fall are going to have more weddings, outings, beach trips and vacations than we’ve seen in a while and I’m ready for it. Most of us have probably spent the last year not getting dressed up and not buying many clothes but that’s about to change. My brother is getting married this summer which means a great excuse to buy a fun dress and I’m also looking forward to wearing lots of color and patterns. Below is a collection of some fun things I’m into and are fit for everything from a wedding to sitting poolside. Also, as a follow-up to the last Everlane post, the bike shorts and the barrel pants are both stand out items that I’ve been wearing often. The bike shorts feel like the lululemon align shorts, which I also love, but at a better price.



    Iris & Ink

    My friend Julie was wearing this dress a couple of weeks ago and it looks even better in person than it does online. A total steal at $25. It is meant to be oversized, almost mumu like so know that going in. I bought my normal size, small, and it has a great oversized fit PLUS pockets! I also like the vibrant purple of this dress.

    I know everyone is hesitant to buy from an online shop you haven’t purchased from before but there is a reason I always like the outnet, it’s such a great digital shopping experience. I love the elegance of this velvet trimmed dress and it can be worn all year long. It has a really beautiful pleating detail, a timeless dress.


    BB Dakota


    Ganni is known for their flattering wrap dresses and I love the sweet green print on this one. These dresses are very wearable, meaning they are comfortable and simple to throw on and you can wear them on a Wednesday with sneakers or a fancy sandal for a wedding/party. I also love the same print but in this version with buttons down the front, there is something very chic about buttons.

    Hard to resist the combo of blue and white stripes in the summertime. This dress is a classic that you can wear a hundred different ways. Those long vertical stripes will also make you look very tall!

    Am I the only one who has noticed how many cute things Gap has right now? This skirt is a combo of two trends that are in full force: tiered and gingham. It is currently on major sale and would be an example of something you can pair with one of the simple tanks below. Also, while we are at it – this linen shirt dress is ace.

    Three Dots

    James Perse


    I’m planning to wear lots of separates this summer and I’m always on the hunt for simple tanks that I can tuck into skirts and pants. Investing $50 in a simple top might seem crazy but they will become one of your most worn items and a great fitting basic is worth a little investment. I like this one because it would be easy to wear a bra with it, this is jersey so it’s going to feel fitted which will give you a nice clean line, and this ribbed option that comes in a pretty neutral shade.


    lemlem x H&M

    Farm Rio

    Captivated by this red dress! Great color, good price, 100% cotton and has the nice detailing of the laced up back.

    Lemlem did a colorful (and affordable) collaboration with H&M. This slip dress is under $20 and can be worn as a swim cover up or dressed up.

    My cousin introduced me to the brand Farm Rio and now I’m hooked. I love their bright colors. This is the happiest mini dress.

    Thank you Joanie! Another thing I love that Joanie does–she also (ironically?) writes a finance column on instagram for designlovefest.

  • Style by Joanie

    everything Everlane

    a style guest post, from my sister Joanie.

    I have never done an entire post dedicated to one brand but Everlane is a favorite of mine, and judging by these columns, a big favorite of yours as well. They recently launched swim which sent me down a rabbit hole of looking at all their new releases and there are a lot of good pieces right now. i ordered a bunch of things to try and i’m excited about many things but especially two new pants. Do you have a favorite Everlane item that you swear by? Do tell.

    a/ For starters, this black square neck one piece. i love swim in classic colors like white, black, red and navy. A square line is always very chic and i appreciate the full coverage underarm. i don’t like pulling and adjusting my suit for side boob and full coverage will solve that problem.

    b/ This is a great classic top option. Again, they nailed it with the under arm coverage. I can’t tell you how many suits have too much center coverage and not enough on the sides. I also like that this is a tie-back which will let you adjust as needed. Excited for this one to arrive. I got the black.

    c/ Better act fast on this one, limited sizes left because of the deep discounted price! This reminds me of the denim jacket I have and love from Sezane. A wear with everything all year round kinda coat.




    d/ I was shocked to see that these boots went to the sale rack because I own them and absolutely love them but then I remembered that the sizing is off and that’s definitely why they got discounted. Sizing aside they are an excellent boot and I highly recommend them. I ordered a half size up. I’m wearing them in the photo below along with the super straight jean.

    e/ I’m very excited about these pants and ordered them in the bone and cashew color. I ordered a size 2 and 4 to try. I don’t want them to be tight. I’m hoping for fitted in the waist, loose in the leg and tapered at the ankle. I’m always looking for a pant alternatives that aren’t denim and these are perfect.

    f/ Also very excited about these barrel pants. To me, a green pant is as versatile as any pair of jeans you own. I am looking forward to trying them in the green and black. I love a lightweight black pant for summer. These are cotton/linen which makes them perfect. Black with a pair of tan sandals, is timeless.

    g/ From the men’s section, I’m into this deep brown half zip sweater. I like the structure of a half zip, the collar really stays in place and this one is a great weight. I like it oversized and half tucked into pants or paired with denim shorts. Many of the sweaters I own are from the men’s section.

    h/ Half zip mentioned above would be very cute with these bike shorts. Bike shorts are the summer version of leggings. They are a bit on the nose as far as trend but they are so comfortable and surprisingly flattering.

    i/ The detailing on this white henley is very similar to the one sold by Doen. Both are strongly inspired by 1970’s long underwear, and I love them both! A white long sleeve shirt is great for warmer months when you want something to wear after a day at the beach that isn’t heavy and feels fresh.

    All links are affiliate. Thank you Joanie!

  • Homeschool

    This Summer: All About Book Clubs

    I’m feeling very inspired by the idea of summer book clubs. Planning for summer things in advance, as our other commitments are winding down, is always pleasant for me, whereas coming up with anything particular in that moment summer has arrived–forget about it. There’s also the urging to mark the end of something and celebrate, and herald the beginning of something else–that takes planning too. So I’m thinking through which books we may like to read and invite friends to read with us. Last summer for Lux was all about the four-volume Green Ember series, a family-friendly fantasy series about warrior rabbits. It’s no Tolkien, but kids love it and it has positive messages about integrity, friendship, and honesty.

    Listening to this podcast interview with Amber Johnston, I was so surprised to hear she read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as a 4th grader. I read it in middle school, and didn’t really understand it. Or maybe I just had no understanding of where Jim Crow laws, lynching, and sharecropping placed in American history. Either way, the opportunity was missed. Amber discusses how influential it was for her, and how she is now reading it to her daughters in their elementary years, and I would like to do the same!

    (Definitely listen to the whole interview with Amber, linked to above, it is excellent.)

    Do we homeschool year round? Of a sort. Classical Conversations ends this week. Online Latin ends at the end of May. That’s just in time because with the change of seasons and the sudden pleasure of being outside, we’ve all grown terribly tired of memorizing…anything. But we seem to do best* when we have about three things we’re doing all the time–reading something aloud together, working on reading lessons for those who need it, keeping up with handwriting practice or copy work (as I type this, two of the girls have printed off the first page of wikipedia on *wolves* and have carefully copied out three handwritten pages from it. Their idea, but nonetheless it counts towards all sorts of things academically), and working on something specific, like science experiments, categorizing rocks, identifying plants in the woods, or meeting up with homeschool friends to discuss a book.

    *By “best,” I mean that interacting with each other around some structure each day results in the most pleasant interactions and better expectations, on both sides, of what those interactions may be.

    A friend of mine remarked to me that her boys enjoyed the the transition from summer to fall because she starts paying attention to them again, after a heady summer of managing her thriving vegetable and flower gardens. That kind of seasonally inspired neglect fascinates me, but it’s not really the case in my house. And I find with homeschool, it’s often the case that all you need to do is switch up the routine a bit and you’ll still enjoy “doing things” year round.

    You can preorder what looks like an amazing title about Summer Book Clubs from Wild & Free. Reading through the list of books they’ve planned activities, themed gatherings and discussions around is inspiration enough. I am a wary follower of Wild & Free because they have a lot of magic childhood phrasing, all the time, which isn’t the best influence on me when I’m scrolling social media for affirmation and encouragement (isn’t that why we’re usually on that app?). Personally, I don’t feel the pysche of childhood is all that magical, but rather grounded in boredom with omnipresent pursuit of stability, and habit. But Ainsley does an incredible job of gathering influential mothers as writers and encouraging them content creators, and I really admire that.

    Last thought on summer titles…and I’m thinking about suggesting The Martian to Joe as his next read aloud. I think he can manage the sage contextual work of editing out the curses and f-words as he goes! Perhaps they can celebrate with NASA shirts at the end.