April 07, 2016
This post is sponsored by Le Tote.
Motherhood has changed me in countless ways. Some are profound, while others are superficial. Some changes washed over me the second I saw Noah's face, others have come more slowly, with each child and a million individual experiences building together into a gradual transformation of self.
Chief among those changes: I now hate, and I mean HATE, shopping for clothes.
Before kids, it was probably my all-time top hobby. Jason and I spent way too much of our free time (and disposable income) back in the D.C. shopping neighborhoods. My friends and I would make all-day pilgrimages to the big factory store/outlet malls in the deep 'burbs and spend hours and hours looking for work clothes, casual clothes, party clothes, shoes, bags, scarves, bargains!
Today, that all sounds like hell on earth. Take me to a mall and I would so rather be on the benches with the bored husbands than in a dressing room. Take me to the outlets and I will go full deer-in-the-headlights because I JUST CAME HERE FOR A GRILL PAN AND SOME SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR ONESIES NOW GET ME OUT OF HERE. Take me to one of those "cool" shopping neighborhoods and watch how quickly I find a wine bar instead of a new dress.
Obviously, trying to clothes shop with small children played a big part in my metamorphosis from borderline shopaholic to the sort of person who now owns about a dozen identical t-shirts from the Gap because okay this'll do I'll just grab one in every color because sorry, I have to chase after my four year old who got bored of playing Angry Birds and is about to knock over an entire mannequin display.
Even shopping alone is rushed and irritating, as I've lost my patience with the thrill of the hunt: I came here looking for a pair of black pants and nobody has any black pants and I also need to be back home ASAP and officially have no time for this black pant nonsense, oh look there's a sale on yoga pants.
As a result, my wardrobe is full of holes, literally and figuratively. I wear my favorite stuff until it dies; I have a bunch of rarely-to-never worn impulse buys that don't really go with anything else I own, but I never want to spend time (EVEN ONLINE WHO AM I???) looking for specific, coordinating pieces to complete the outfit.
Since I work from home, this isn't typically a huge problem. Sure, I get pretty bored recycling the same small handful of go-to "going out" outfits and there are definitely days when I see myself in the mirror and am like, GURL. WHAT. But, you know, whatever.
But then! We plan a vacation. Or I have a business-related trip. And I look in my closet and freak out because I have no idea what to pack or how to create maximum outfits from a minimum number of items, because NOTHING GOES WITH ANYTHING AND I HATE EVERYTHING.
Sometimes my freak out actually does result in a tortured, last-minute shopping trip where I desperately try to find some cute new clothes. Where I will inevitably end up spending way too much money on clothes that I may or may not even really love or have use for again.
I was in this EXACT SPOT two weeks ago as I was packing for our spring break trip. To New York City! Where everyone is cool and fashionable (or is at least capable of something besides t-shirts and yoga pants) and the weather is predicted to change at least three times and I need to bring casual travel clothes, work clothes, a bunch of outfits for fancy nights out...and all of it needs to pair with shoes I can actually walk in.
Lo and behold, this arrived just in time to save the freaking day:
So Le Tote is a fashion rental service, a concept I've been super curious about for a long time now. I signed up, completed a style profile and entered my usual size and some measurements, then perused their rental inventory for some personal favorites. I added anything I liked to my "closet" with a click of the mouse and ta da! A curated selection of clothes and accessories arrived at my door.
It's $59 a month, which at first did give me pause until I realized how much money I waste on either cheap crap I only wear at home (i.e. soooo many t-shirts and yoga pants) or when I need a new outfit for a specific occasion or trip and overspend because nothing's on sale, and I'll probably never even wear it enough times to fully justify what I spent. (Plus add in the convenience of NO SHOPPING, some really nice brands, free shipping both ways, etc.)
I transferred everything in the box directly into my suitcase, did not even try it on, did not pass go.
I also did not even need to worry, because everything fit beautifully, and managed to hit the sweet spot of being TOTALLY to my taste while also being unlike anything I currently own -- the sort of perfect-for-me stuff that I would probably walk right by if I saw it at the store, because I'm just so spastic and unimaginative when I shop.
Meanwhile, here is a picture of me, as the Kids Today would say, really feeling myself in this outfit.
Like, so much I even smiled for a photo!
The dress is by Summer & Sage, the bag is Street Level. Boots and moto jacket are my own, and the statement necklace is something I bought probbbbbably two years ago but have never really known what to wear it with.
But I was emboldened to try it after seeing a similar big statement piece included in the Le Tote. I wore that one with this dress later in our trip when I decided to wear it again. (Or more accurately, when Jason requested that I wear it again.)
This Noir dress also got repeat wearings, since it could be dressed up or down pretty easily:
(Clutch and shoes are mine. Flat, frizzy hair also mine, the result of forgetting to pack a single hair styling product.)
(And this is me wearing a super adorable mod-style dress [also by Noir] the next day in my natural wine bar habitat, having grown weary of the posed hotel room photos. The slightly pained/squished-up look on my face is because I fumbled and dropped my bag in the toilet during the intermission rush at Hamilton, completely frying my phone. AS I HAVE ALREADY DONE ONCE BEFORE IN MY LIFE.)
(Luckily one of those cheap-o Fix my Phone type places determined it just needed a new screen, and I had it back 20 minutes/two glasses of wine later.)
Here's a look at everything I received from Le Tote, clockwise from top left:
1) Carsen color block tunic by Noir
2) Street Level mini tote cross-body
3) Lace dress by Noir
4) Dolman sleeve maxi dress by Summer & Sage
5) Clement hammered circle necklace
6) French Connection contrast sheer top
The French Connection top was the only item that didn't get any wear in NYC due to my own idiocy: I pulled it on in a rush and completely streaked it with deodorant stains. My first thought was: Oh nooooo I've ruined a rented shirt now what. But I was then pleasantly surprised to see that everything was machine washable. I came home, dumped it all in the washer on the gentle cycle and hung it up to dry. Everything, including the shirt, came out looking like new. I've since worn it out with my favorite jeans a couple times.
You don't actually have to launder your Le Tote items -- they'll take care of that once you send it back, but I'm in no rush to return any of it quite yet. I am seriously considering buying the maxi dress, because it's soooo comfortable and yet sexy/flattering. (Le Tote members can keep everything for as long as they want, and can buy anything to keep for good for 50% off retail.) I'm still using the Street Level bag full-time because I haven't bought anything but huge diaper-bag-capable purses in so long that I'm loving the freedom of carrying something smaller. And while I wasn't too familiar with Noir before this, both dresses fit me so much better than anything I've tried on at any store lately. I definitely need to check them out.
Then again, I'm supposed to travel again at the end of this month, and could mayyyyyybe use some fun new clothes and accessories again. Clothes and accessories that I totally don't have to go shopping for because shopping is THE WORST.
Thanks to Le Tote for sponsoring this post and for the super fun travel wardrobe. Want to give them a try? First 50 readers can get 20% your first month by signing up via THIS LINK and the discount code AMALAH. (Code is automatically applied when you click, so no need to re-enter it at checkout!)