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The Dorks Awaken

My Personal New York Fashion Week

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!) 



Sorry, I blanked out when you said "Hamilton" because HAMILTON! We need details, pleasethankyou! I'm so jealous.

Also, the clothes look amazing on you.


Please don't say 'spastic' - it refers to people with cerebral palsy and is highly offensive in any English speaking country outside the U.S.


The rest of your post was great as usual.


Ditto what Resh said, please. I've always felt like that word was pretty offensive, but since having a son with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, it hits me like a punch in the gut when I see people use it to mean awkward, clumsy, or stupid. It's sort of like the CP version of the "R" word. I know you are typically very sensitive to people who are neuro-atypical, so I hope you'll consider eliminating that word from your vocabulary.

But I love the pieces you got, especially the tunic! And pro-tip -- rubbing deodorant streaks with another piece of fabric will take them out. Just did it this morning with my own dress.



I'm sorry, I lost my focus after that one innocuous sentence.


Hot day-um you look good! Love that lace dress, too.

Also, Hamilton? Cannot be oversold.

Stacy Biddinger

I've been using Gwynnie Bee for two years now and love it. It's just like Le Tote, but the clothing sizes *start* at size 10 and go up from there rather than capping at 12 or 16 like Le Tote. It's awesome and I love it and definitely recommend it for those interested in this concept but who need plus sizes.


Please, please, please more Hamilton details!


Totally derailing the comments here, but I had no idea "spastic" was offensive. I'm glad to have been informed though, and will not be using that word again (not that I've been using it regularly or anything).


Oh man I really want to give this a try. I'm the type of person that will buy something and like it, but after wearing it a few times decide I'm really not that thrilled with it anymore. And unfortunately I have to actually wear it to determine if I really like it, which means then it can't be returned (although I have gotten sneaky and just tucked tags in and still returned it later, but then that makes me feel dishonest and like I'm gaming the system even though I'm sure Target has zero fucks to give. It's not like I'm returning haute couture or something with ranch dressing dribbled down the front.) Unfortunately I am currently 30 weeks pregnant so trying this out will have to wait until my boobs, belly, and cankles return to their normal size. Sigh.


This is such a cool concept! I have a NY trip coming up in July and will totally keep this in mind for similar "woe, my wardrobe is not cool enough" purposes!


Have you tried stitch fix? If you have..would love a post comparing and contrasting stitch fix to la tote...


Ok, I have to defend here:

relating to or affected by muscle spasm.

Yes - it is used to describe a type of movement inherent to a disease or condition, but please - she didn't say she was capital P Palsied...and even that means affected by tremors...which she is.

I get it, but let's not get hung up on an innocent use of a word that is not proprietary or owned by those who suffer from neurological conditions.

Amy - you are beautiful, inside and out. Thanks for sharing that with us yet again. Cheers!

Amy X

Interesting idea! I'm like Paige above - need to wear something a few times to figure out if I really like it. This would be ideal. Plus I see that they have maternity rentals too!! That could be very tempting as I'm nearing the end of my first trimester and thus getting closer to the ever-embiggening stages of pregnancy.


FYI, next time you wrastle with deodorant...A clean cotton towel usually will rub out and remove the white streaks. Depends on the material and whether or not the streaks are greasy, but I've had really good luck with that. (Not that I go to work many, many days with deodorant streaks on my shirt or anything because HURRIES WE HAS TO GO NOW!)

Beth Ann

I've never heard it. Great! I'm like you hate shopping, keep recycling clothes 'til it full of holes or falls off. Thanks for the hint.


Reenie, I get where you're coming from, and I'm not saying that either you or Amy is using that word intending to be offensive. However, it's much like the r-word in that there is an actual medical definition (even without cerebral palsy, people can have muscle spasms), and then there is a casual way of using it that has evolved to mean something awkward or dumb (stemming from the awkward movements that some people with cerebral palsy make uncontrollably). Not trying to pick a fight, I just think if people stopped to think about why they're using the word in that particular way, they might see why it has the potential to be hurtful. In fact, it's precisely because I think Amy is a good person who doesn't intentionally use terms that are offensive to disabled people that I thought it was worth saying something to her.


(What are "slightly irregular onsies?")


I have shied away from clothing rental sites before because I feel more like I either want to own something or I don't. Plus I worry that if others are wearing them, pieces won't have that fresh and new feel when I get them. But I do like the option to buy the things you like at a discount. Might have to give it a go. I've been doing StitchFix for about 6 months and really liked it at first, but lately most of the stuff in my boxes have been a bust.


OMG. I thought I was the only one who went from shop-every-day to shop only online when mandatory.


Kathryn - do you mean "dumb" as in low intelligence, or do you mean "dumb" as in unable to speak?

If you are using it to mean low intellingence, please stop using it as people who are unable to speak might find it offensive.

Ok - thems were fightin' words...and like you...I really don't want to fight.
BUT - you couldn't even defend yourself without doing the same thing you were asking others not to do. So - let's all just be a little less "offendable" and a little more accepting.

Otherwise, before you know it, we won't be able to speak at all, and then we'll all be dumb. (I'm using that both ways, FYI.)


I never lost the ability or interest in shopping -- mindless, aimless, how about this one or this one or this one shopping. Maybe it's because I have two girls, both of whom enjoy it as well? I can even still go alone (but my older two are years older than yours). All this to say I would shop with you (i.e. sit you on a bench and bring you things like a personal shopper) and put tiny wine in my purse to make it worth your while.


Reenie, that's an interesting point. However, the word "dumb," much like the word "retarded," is no longer in widespread use as a diagnostic term, precisely because people who have the conditions those words refer to were offended by the informal, disparaging way those words were used. My son's medical charts still say "spastic," though, and it hurts me to think how he'll feel when he hears people making a joke out of his condition. Certainly you're entitled to use whatever words you like, but others are also entitled to feel like it's an inconsiderate or hurtful choice of words.



(Sorry - this is going to get rambly.)

Understood. Every one is different...and every one has the right to feel how they feel. I am a natural "peacemaker" stemming from years and years of hurt feelings between family members...and that lead me to defending someone (Amy) I believe did not mean to cause hurt feelings.

My husband and I are of the mindset that words are just words...and we try to teach our children that words themselves are not's the intent behind the words. We do ask our children to be considerate around others, but it's our job as parents to teach our children that ugly behavior exists...and that just because someone uses a word, does NOT mean that our children are less because of it. Really - ugly exists can't politely ask away all the words that someone MIGHT be offended by. You CAN love someone through the pain they cause.

If I caused anyone any pain with my words, I wasn't my intention. It's been quite a week in my little world, but I'm coming out the other side and saw that my earlier post(s) might have been a bit lets say, rough.

I have no idea if any of that made sense.



Thanks for your explanation and apology, that means a lot to me. I hope you believe me when I say that I know neither you nor Amy nor probably most people intend to be hurtful when using that word. Most people don't know or understand where its common usage comes from, and I absolutely don't hold that against anyone on a personal level. But at the same time, I think most people would want to know if something they're saying could be hurtful to someone hearing it.

You're right that words are just words -- that's always been my justification for my potty mouth. But some words convey concepts that the user might not want them to. I suppose that's my purpose in commenting above, just to let Amy (who has always shown a lot of respect, sensitivity, and compassion when talking about kids who have disabilities) know that that's where that word comes from.

Anyway, I'm getting rambly too, but thanks again for your input, and I hope your week is looking up.

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