Allbirds wool runners review

I have a Nike Free problem…?

So. I’m pretty addicted to Nike Free Runners. I wear them everyday at home and for walking and errand running. I also wear them to work sometimes. I’ve been wearing them since 2006 and I have no idea what number I’m on…my 14th pair? I don’t know. It’s possible.

I started with the black uppers with white soles.

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The OG Nike Free colorway

But I kind of need to mix it up.

I’ve had neon orange, teal with black soles and laces, crazy stripes and dots, and a few pairs of black on black. My current pair is on its way out, and I’m a little sad at the idea of buying the exact same pair of Frees for the third time in a row…that’s a rut, right? I’m really interested in the VaporMax, but I have a hard time with the 2hundo price tag. And I’m not sure how they’ll work with work clothes…so I’ve been stuck for a month.

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Grass shoes, training shoes, life shoes

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Nike Vapormax Flyknit 2

 

But what about those Allbirds, tho?

Then I remembered Allbirds. They’re basically Nike frees with wool uppers. So sneakers, but ones you could definitely pull off at work. Same price point. Expensive for a non-serious sneaker, but justifiable if you wear them every damned day like I do.

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Allbirds look like this

I’m feeling like I need to mix it up in pretty much every way lately, so instead of a black or grey (which to me look kind of nerdy in Allbirds) I went for a bright color. All teal. Woot!

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Teal Allbirds Wool Runners

Allbirds, are you my new friends?

They showed up in custom boxes that are pretty cute. But that’s neither here nor there…I wear a size 9 or 9.5 in sneakers, and their site recommended I order a 9. They were snug, which the Allbirds site also said was normal; wool stretches. But I didn’t like the feeling of my toes being right at the front of the shoe, so I ordered some 10s. The 10s felt a little too big, I couldn’t see myself wearing teal shoes with…well…anything. And I really hated how I could see my toes moving around in the shoe. The wool is kind of flat and low and tight across the tops of your toes, no toe box, more like a sock or something. And it just creeped me out. It felt like wearing a shirt with no bra and nipping out. I don’t know. I’m a weirdo, but I wasn’t feeling it. No toe nipple situation for me. 

Nope.

I sent them back. And I am currently still waffling between trying the pricey (but probably way more durable) VaporMax or ordering my third pair in a row of black on black Nike Free Runners…

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My ride or dies. Which are dying.

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Current version

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Nike Free Run Commuters

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Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit 2

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Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit MOC 2

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Same thing but with HOT PINK!!! SQUEE!

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Pure Barre On Demand Workout Review

I’m a freelance writer. Which means sometimes I’m commuting to the city and sometimes I’m working at home. When I commute to the city, I spend 3.5 hours a day commuting. And when I work from home, I basically wake up, maybe walk the dog, and start working right away because I can. I never know what type of work situation I’ll be in, so a gym membership is dumb and so is committing to any kind of studio unless I only want to go on Saturdays. Also, my super-affordable, on-the-way-to-daycare bootcamp has moved and become a less-affordable F45 on the other side of town, so… I’ve been classless for a bit.

I needed a new home workout. Yes, I still like the Aaptive training app and my treadmill. But I was hungry for something new, and something that didn’t make me feel like a prisoner sweating alone in my basement. And I need to build strength and get results fast, so I researched on-demand barre classes.

Now, a good little blogger would re-do the research for you and post the costs of different on-demand barre classes here, but I threw away my notes over a month ago and I don’t feel like looking all that shit up again.

All you need to know is the best deal is Pure Barre on demand.

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What you need to know about Pure Barre On Demand:

  • $30/ month
  • Access classes on any device
  • A really good amount of classes in any length you could possibly want: 5 minute, 10-15 minute, 30-40 minute, 40-50 minute and full length 50-60 minute lengths
  • They add new classes all the time

And the classes are taught by a mix of instructors, so if you think one is annoying, you can avoid her. What you can’t avoid is stupid pretzel position, which is incredibly awkward and I really, really, really hate it. But they’re videos, so if you’re a lazy piece of shit like me, you can just say “nope” and skip to a less ridiculous part of the workout.

A lot of the classes are “live” which means recorded live in one of the Pure Barre studios. They look like they’re shot with a nest security cam, which is totally fine by me. I like how it feels like I’m in a real class. There are also more “workout video”-type professionally staged and shot workouts. There’s really a lot of content. It’s pretty great.

Here’s what the two kinds of classes look like:

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A “live” Pure Barre on demand class

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A “legacy DVD” Pure Barre class, available on demand.

 

 

About Barre

Not gonna lie. Barre sucks. It’s painful, awkward, and uncomfortable. And super hard. BUT, I’ve found that it is a really fast way to change your shape and get strong. And that’s what I need right now. I think of it more as physical therapy than a fun workout. Wow, that’s depressing, isn’t it? OK. It’s not that bad. It’s a CHALLENGE. Is that more positive? And I get to do different video every time (so far) so that makes it feel a little more special.

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All barre workouts are based on the same principles from The Lotte Burke Method: proper alignment, a large number of small movements done to failure, then you stretch that muscle group. “Failure” means your legs will not only burn, but they will literally quiver and shake, and that’s the goal. Yup. (“Shake to change” is the mantra in Barre Amped.) And all barre workouts use similar exercises and follow the same patterns (core, arms, legs, butt, abs).

 

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Look at my arm! A result! 

The vibe is a little different from brand to brand, and Pure Barre has the vibe that I like the best, but it’s up to you to see what you like. Pure Barre, for example is a little more casual/city and they work out to a beat. Dailey Method feels slightly more formal, closer to a ballet or yoga studio vibe.

They all have a little bit of equipment involved: light weights, a small inflatable ball, something to use as a “support” (barre substitute), sometimes tubing. Overall, I like doing barre at home better than in the studio because I don’t feel looked at, and most importantly, I don’t have to wear those stupid barre socks that lose their grip and become useless the first time you wash them. I hate working out in socks.

For home workouts you really only need the light weights. A ball is a bonus. I have a barre, which I ordered from Amazon, and it’s fine. But there are some moves where they hold on to the barre and lean back, and for that type of stuff you actually need a counter, so don’t feel like you have to buy a barre. But if you want one, this one’s the one I have. It’s pretty cool except you get a big box on your doorstep that says VITA VIBE. Oh hey neighbors! I promise it’s not a four-foot dildo! Link here, too: https://amzn.to/2qazoQ7

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Vita Vibe 4 foot portable barre

 

Oh, and Pure Barre sells apparel with a lot of good cuts (meaning: long, not skin-tight tanks). I would totally order some if they didn’t have Pure Barre logos on them.

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New fitness fashion brand: JoyLab by Target review

Target has been sniping successful brands and making their own versions for a few years now, but this spring they’ve really stepped on the gas in the fashion brand style-biting department…

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I get that they have to follow trends, but it’s a little blatant. And as a card maker who’s had one of her designs low-key copied by Paper Source and who has a few other maker friends who this has happened to…I can only imagine how these big, established brands feel about Target copying their whole entire vibe. Eeeeeesh. Not very cool. Anyway. Tabling the issues of brand-swiping and business ethics and moving back into FITNESS FASHION REVIEW LAND…

Target now has a fitness fashion brand called JoyLab that’s kind of like Outdoor Voices + all the other cute fit fashion brands rolled into one trendy package.

JOYLAB REVIEW

The quality is pretty good. Better than Target’s terrible Champion/ C9 stuff (so thin, so clingy, makes me so angry), but not as thick as “real” fitness brands. Then again, what do you want for under $35 per piece? Basically, if you have cellulite, you might be able to get away with their pants, depending on the color and how few fucks you give. But I only found one pair of pants that I felt OK in, and they have a distracting pattern.

But the bra tops are all really cute. They cover a lot of different trends in color, pattern, and cut. Mostly I noticed a lot of “long line” bras/ bra tops which means they go further down towards your waist and *some* people can wear them as tops with high-waisted leggings. ICYMI, this is my formula to find out if you are one of those people. (From my post about jog bra trends from a while back.)

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And JoyLab has a lot of cute jackets and sweatshirts. A few different takes on bombers (mesh, scuba, sweatshirt, etc.) and a lot of cute sweatshirts. But the sweatshirts are mostly pretty cropped, so I only tried on the (totally predictable for me) big baggy long one. I’d put pictures of the jackets and sweatshirts here, but the pictures online don’t even come close to doing them justice. You have to see them in person.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOYLAB BY TARGET

  • Affordable. Pants $35. Bras $20.
  • You get more than what you pay for in the style dept.
  • You get about what you pay for in the quality department.
  • 900 times better than C9.
  • Check out their jackets.

Here are some JoyLab things I bought:

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Here are some other JoyLab things I tried on:

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Here are some other cute JoyLab things:

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And Imma just put this here…

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Sole F80 Treadmill Review

An ode to Sole.

(Specifically the Sole F80 Treadmill.)

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One of my favorite things.

In 2011 I broke up with the 24-7 full-time advertising life in San Francisco and moved back to the Midbest to live the dream. What is the dream? The dream keeps changing, but at the time of departure, the dream meant parking in a garage with a garage door opener (!) somewhere that didn’t involve getting out of my car to unlock a gate or run away from violent homeless guys and hurriedly, horror movie-style, try to unlock another gate without dropping my keys. (Only happened once, but it happened.) The dream meant not working every night and weekend. The dream meant buying a house. And having a yard. And some private outdoor space. And a dog. And not having to get on a freeway to go to Target. And most importantly, the dream included having a treadmill.

Living the dream included having a treadmill. 

When we bought a house, I bought a treadmill. I did my research and ordered a Sole F80. (Free shipping. No tax. 10 year warranty on motor.) They delivered and assembled it and I could run or walk inside, anytime I wanted to like friggin’ lottery millionaire. BAM, LIVING THE DREAM.

Then, there was a huge storm and our stupid house got two feet of stupid water in the stupid lower level where my brand new dream machine treadmill lived. Pro tips: don’t shop for homes in the winter, don’t buy a house at the bottom of a hill, and when the mailman says the property you just bought “gets water” he doesn’t mean the backyard gets puddle-y, he means it capital F floods in your house. Often.

Pro tip: When the mailman says the property you just bought “gets water” he doesn’t mean the backyard gets puddle-y, he means it capital F floods in your house. Often.

We trashed mostly everything in the basement, but crossed our fingers and let the treadmill dry out. And get this: it worked! I can’t remember if it worked and then something went wonky, or if it was wonky from the get-go after the flood and we had a repair person out, but whatever the order of events was, the treadmill was under warranty, a repair was made, and it worked.

AND IT HAS worked, since then. I do a little maintenance. And aside from being slow to get up to speed, it’s been kickin’.

Well, until last week. It stopped starting. No power. I checked all the things, and opened it up and checked all the things. Nothing. “Uh oh,” I thought  “Is this the big one? Is it over now?”

Well, I just had a technician out, and guess what. He didn’t replace the circuit board ($250 part). All he had to replace was a $15 on/off switch. HALLELUJAH!!!!

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Granted, the tread is wearing out ($175). And the deck will wear out ($250). And the hesitancy getting up to speed is probably the $250 circuit board. BUT.

As far as I’m concerned I’m running on a WALKING DEAD TREADMILL. A free treadmill. A magical ghost treadmill. Because we lost 1/3 of our HOUSE in the flood. And this thing SURVIVED. (OK, not 100%, but still.)

I could pay for the new parts. But it doesn’t make sense to invest in something that went through a flood. And I’ll have to buy a new one or give up that dream and run outside eventually. BUT FOR NOW, fuck yes.

And if you are shopping for treadmills, the Sole F80 is a survivor.

At least mine is.

For a little while longer…

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Me and my Sole F80 buddy.

 

 

 

Stink like a girl / Vapor Fresh sports laundry detergent review.

 

#FitGirlProblem: The stinky jacket.

The stinky jacket is the jacket you wear to and from the gym, or put on after your workout before you take a shower. The stinky jacket could also be the layer you start your run in, but eventually peel off, about three minutes after you’ve sweat into it. I have 1.5 stinky jackets. I wear them because they’re my coolest, longest, best jackets. They make me feel like a superhero badass person. They’re the ones that made me say “really? over $100 for a hoodie?” when I bought them, but I reach for them every single day and they make me realize how absolutely unflattering and shitty the cheap ones are.

But I also hate wearing them as stinky jackets because they’re the kind of jacket/hoodie things that I like to wear in athleisure situations, too. (This is where the .5 comes in. One of my stinky jackets I very rarely use as a stinky jacket, mostly as a running around jacket, but all it takes is one time and…yeah. I think it’s probably a stinky jacket.) It would be nice if stinky jackets didn’t have to be stinky jackets only, and I didn’t feel like I had to buy yet ANOTHER expensive fancy hoodie jacket thingie for everyday use because the other one and a half fucking reek. And they do. They fucking reek. I don’t think other people can necessarily smell them, but I sure can. Because they get jammed up in the armpits after workouts when I’m wearing sleeveless tops, grinding stinky deodorant wax and weight training funk all up in that fabric…not their fault. They’re armpit thongs, basically. How could I expect them to not fucking reek?

And yes, of course I wash them. I wash them all the time. And yes I use my special detergents. But that’s not cutting it. Them shits still stink.

MEANWHILE, as I was pouting about my 1.5 stinky jackets and trying not to buy another expensive workout jacket…Vapor Fresh sent me a new sample of their detergent! So I thought I’d tackle two birds with one post.
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What’s this Vapor Fresh you speak of?

Vapor Fresh by Raw Athletics (rawathletics.com, vaporfresh.com) is a sports laundry detergent that says it has stain and odor lifting technology and is designed to clean sports apparel and everyday laundry. Perfect, because that’s how I roll. I wash everything together and just use my fancy delicate detergent for the whole lot. Which I shouldn’t. See my earlier post about washing your workout wear here.

FYI: liquid detergent = usually bad for stinky and/or sweat-wicking things. Why? Fragrances, dyes, softeners and brighteners can clog fabric, trap the stink, and jam the wicking fibers so they can’t wick anymore. (Read more about it in the drop-downs here.)

What’s good about Vapor Fresh Sports Laundry Detergent:

  • not liquid
  • fragrance and dye-free, hypoallergenic
  • eco-friendly, biodegradable
  • no harsh chemicals
  • uses cold water compatible surfactants (soapy sudsy things that break down oils)
  • a lot smaller than a box of Tide or a jug of Cheer or whatever
  • can be used with regular and HE washing machines
  • made in Illinois!

Did it make your stinky jackets not stink anymore?

No, and then yes.

First pass: no. They still stunk. Then I read the directions on the package of Vapor Fresh, and it said “for heavily soiled laundry, allow laundry to soak with detergent for at least 10 minutes prior to washing.” And the website says to do it for “at least 30 minutes (!)” So technically, I didn’t give the stuff a chance to do its job on those deodorant-filled stinky jacket armpits.

So I dug out my washing machine manual, learned that I have, of course, been using it incorrectly for years, and figured out which settings have extra long soak times. Alternatively, you could just pre-soak the items in question Woolite-style in the sink like this.

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Pre-soaking is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it’s worth it to save an expensive jacket from stinky jacket doom, right? Now we know.

DID IT WORK, THEN?

YES. They came out…NOT-STINKY JACKETS!

Shit. Now I don’t get to go buy a new fancy workout jacket. 😦

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VAPOR FRESH: THE VERDICT

I know that Vapor Fresh won’t harm the performance (wicking, stretching, compression) of my workout clothes, and I am happy to report that does remove B.O. when you follow the directions. Which you think would be, like, the definition of any laundry detergent’s job, but you tell me. How many of your workout shirt and jacket armpits can you stick your nose into? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Available on Amazon , $22 for a 5lb tub, which is good for 36 regular/ 72 HE loads of laundry.

 

 

 

Striped Stretch Pant Fail

Striped Athleta Chaturangas

When they came out last year, I was like “Whaaaaa? Those are cyuuuute.” But I own at least 4 pairs of Chaturangas already, and sort of doubted horizontal stripes across my widest bits would be a good idea.

But I have seen them on different ladies with different body types, and they do kind of look cute on a lot of people, so I kept them in the back of my mind…

Then I was out negative-shopping last week (returning things) and saw a pair on the sale rack at Athleta, so I had to try them on.

If you were wondering if striped leggings are for you, (and you’ve got a booty) here’s your answer: 

NOPE.

Oh well. A few more notes on them:

FABRIC:  much less stretchy than the other chaturangas I have.

FIT: the cut and rise are the same.

#PearShapedProblems : training tops and running pants

Here’s what happens when I get dressed for bootcamp: I spend ten minutes trying to figure out which pair of black workout pants is tight enough to stay up during jumping jacks and such, thick enough to camouflage cellulite and sweat, but not so tight that my saggy double butt or lady bits are on full display.

 

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This chart is from YouBeauty, click on it for their butt-type specific exercises.

THEN, I put on whatever flowy top makes me feel least gross and goes down the longest.

THEN, I go to class and either my pants fall down the whole time, or my top flies up during burpees and mountain climbers and hip hikes.

The pants issue, I’ve figured out. I needed to 1. stop wearing Athelta Chaturangas and LuluLemon Wonder Unders to bootcamp, because both of them shits is designed for YOGA. Stretchy material, wide waistbands, basically designed to slip down and give you penguin crotch and muffin top if you dare to jog in place in them.

So I dug out my tub of workout clothes that are a size smaller, and (yippee!) some of those pants fit now. And most of them were intended for running and training, not yoga. So we’re good there. Also: don’t be afraid to wear something that feels “tight” because basically, if it feels “comfy” when you’re not working out, it’s going to fall down when you are. And nobody cares about your butt once the workout starts. Everyone’s busy either worrying about their own butts or trying not to quit and walk out in the middle of class. Just like you. (Want the full education on workout-pant types? I wrote about it here.)

Now the tops: that’s a little harder. You know I loathe clingy, roll-showing, muffin top maxing, tech tops. And I’d rather not wear a wife beater type tank top in public just yet. (mushy middle) So I basically have ONE TOP that really works for boot camp. The Athleta Breathe tank, which has a shit-ton of ruching and is really long, so it stays in place pretty well, but also has some distraction/camo action. Well, they don’t make that tank top anymore. So…sweet.

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Athleta Breathe Tank

What about bubble tops, Aimee?  Fuck bubble tops, that’s what. I’m a pear, so they balloon out at the one place I’m small – my waist, and also, because of my shape, they just slide up towards my narrowest part anyway. Also, I think they’re ugly. Unless you’re a super apple. Then, they’re probably your best option.

So I’ve been on the lookout for something that might work, and I sort of found something. It’s called the Sweat it Out top from Lucy. It’s sort of a straight cut, so it is snug-ish at the hip, but doesn’t cling anywhere else. So the cut is working in my favor. But it’s not perfect because the fabric is slippery. It’s better than a lot of tech fabrics because it’s thick (awesome) and seamless and doesn’t look cheap and tacky as fuck. But, it does slide up a little. I even made a point of wearing it with a more brushed cotton type of pant rather than a slippy slidy pair, and I still had to pull it down a fair amount. I will say it never rode all the way up, though. Just a few inches. (PS, they’re on sale now. Probably because you can’t tell the quality from the photograph.)

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Lucy Sweat it Out Tank

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I’ll keep my eyes open. And I might try some other kind of ruched top from Athleta like the Fastest Track or PR Tank 2 or Pure Tank. I don’t know. They look pretty tight-fitting. Might just have to suck it up and wear my Old Navy tank tops. They might not wick or anything, but at least they’re the right shape and they’re not slippery…(FYI, some of the shittier colors of the Fastest Track are on sale for as low as $18…)

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Athleta Fastest Track

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Athleta PR 2 Tank

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Athleta Pure Tank

 

 

 

Pretend Shopping Spree: Olympia Activewear

Olympia Activewear: the coolest sports bras in town by a San Francisco-based designer. Good job, Ms. Kaili Lickle.

Let’s pretend for a second that my boobs aren’t “I have a baby”-sized. And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that my ass isn’t “I have a new baby”-sized either. Here’s what I’d love to wear from Olympia.

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Tough, hardcore and beautiful. Perfect.

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Sporty with a sophisticated softness. Perfect.

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Awesome details on the waistbands and knees.

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Perfect proportions on the trim of the shorts and where the calf fabric starts on the leggings.

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And then this is actually something I could wear IRL.

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Also, cute headband. 🙂

Love love love the Olympia.

Fabletics Breezy Top

FABLETICS = subscription-ish fitness fashion company associated with Kate Hudson’s little ass. You join, and every month you have to buy or skip. They show you outfits based on your shape/style preferences. If that’s your thing, fine. I prefer to shop by piece. But you can do that too.

I have ordered four things from them, but I’m only talking about the Breezy Tank today because it’s my favorite. IMG_5343

This top is cotton-ish, thin, and super-drapey on one side. It’s a long tunic length and asymmetrical.  The left side is longer, has a bigger arm hole, and has more fabric that kind of drapes under the waist. I totally dig it because I like the big-armhole-shows-a-sports-bra thing but I can’t rock too much exposure because I’m not little in the middle right now. (And I have much back.)

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The quality is good, especially for the price. The draping is great. If you get it big enough it won’t be too clingy. (I’m getting better at buying for the size I am, not the size I think I should be…two tricks to that: 1. Telling myself this is a temporary state of affairs and 2. telling myself that I prefer a drapey fit, so I have to size up. You know. For style reasons.)

I’m not sure if it would be flattering on all body types, but I’m stoked for anything drapey and flowy in a new shape. I keep on buying baggy tanks on repeat and it’s getting silly. So FUCK YEAH for the Breezy Tank. Thanks, Kate Hudson’s sort of company!

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Psst: Athleta Sale!

Athleta has a ton of stuff on sale, my pretties. Right here.

Scoop up some sweet clothes to sweat in for your New Year’s New You resolutions.

Please. Somebody buy cute things, because I’m 30 weeks pregnant and I can’t.. Waaaaaaah. Do it for me!

If I could fit into real clothes, here’s what I’d get: Plie Tights, Embodiment Tights, Stripe Crop Tee, Shanti Tie-Dye Tank, Bhakta Sweater, Cashmere Crave Sweater, Some grey Plattan Headphones by Urbanears, and yeah, sure, a Rope Belt for the fuck of it.

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