The Last Sweater: My Year of No Shopping

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Wherever you stand on resolutions (you love them, you pooh-pooh them, you think they may be an impetus for change, you don’t subscribe because you don’t see any value) I think that there is merit in examining your life periodically, and setting goals and intentions which move you forward as an individual.

This year I have one main goal I am focusing on. I am setting out on a year of not buying clothing. There are many who have trod this path before me: Colleen Bordeaux, Ann Patchett, James Clear, Cait Flanders, and more. Each one of these individuals had their own structure and set of rules for their shopping furlough. For me, this quest is one I’ve toyed with for a very long time. So why now?

I have enough clothes

I have pursued style and fashion for the better part of my life. While I don’t see anything inherently negative about this, I haven’t been as careful about cultivating my personal relationship with money as I have my wardrobe. In short, I have enough clothing. I want to take a year to evaluate my wardrobe.

Shopping mindlessly wastes time and money

I can’t tell you how much time and money I’ve spent shopping, but I can tell you that it has been a lot. One thing that Ann Patchett found during her year of no shopping was that she had time for other more important and even pressing activities. One of the reasons I initially began blogging was to spend more time writing. Yes, I did write more than I otherwise would have in the last two years if I did not run a blog, but I also used the fact that one of my intended focuses was “style” to shop– a lot.

I want to take a break from the online marketing circus. Constant shopping and buying in the realm of clothing drives the machine of wasteful fashion, one of the world’s largest polluters. The industry is all built on the backs of underpaid, often over-worked people in third world countries. I hope to take this year to evaluate my approach to buying, spending. I really need and want to learn to spend more thoughtfully and responsibly.

I want to realign my relationship with my money

In all honesty I have next to no understanding of money. I have jokingly explained my relationship as one where when the water is running (the money is flowing, there is cash in the bank) then I feel free to spend until the water runs dry. Dry would obviously mean that the money has been spent, the cash is gone. I have never used a budget, and I have certainly never examined how my money could be working for me, i.e. in investments, savings, and other forms of return.

I have to say that this is one of the hardest posts I have written. Not because I am not looking forward to the challenge of “no new things”, but because I am a person that does not like to set goals and then fail and I am a bit afraid of failing this challenge!

I’ll have more of my “rules” and some updates on this first month soon! Have a beautiful Thursday!

XX,

Megan

Dickson Family 2017-367

Holiday Party Wear: Your Vote!

Look 1 : Velvet Camisole, Black Denim, Gray Cardigan, Leopard Flats, Gold Drop Hoops

This may have been one of my most fun social media interactions to date. On Thursday I asked my friends and followers on Instagram and Facebook which outfit they would choose for an upcoming holiday party I was dressing for.

The first look is linked above, the second look is linked below. In the end, I wore a combination of your comments, suggestions, and votes. I can’t lie, crowd sourcing made dressing for this soiree so much more enjoyable! I didn’t have any qualms choosing my outfit. Do you crowd source your looks? Come on, please tell me that you have called your sister, your best friend, your mother, or even pinged your partner to find out what to wear.

Look 2: Sequin Top, Mid-Rise Jeans, Nude Sandals, Pearl Studs

The winner! This is what I wore to our holiday party– sequin top, dark rinse jeans, leopard heels, black topcoat, pearl earrings, and red cross-body purse. I had so much fun asking you all what I should wear, that I’ll probably do it again!

I posted these looks to share my holiday dressing inspiration– from me to you and you to me. Thank you for liking, sharing, commenting, voting, and following Refined + Rugged. What other content would you like to see in the coming year? I’d love to know, so feel free to comment below or post your thoughts to Instagram or Facebook. Have a wonderful Wednesday and a bright and beautiful holiday season!

XX,

Megan

Procrastinator’s Gift Guide

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Gifts for Her:

 

Fair Isle Sweater, Dark Rinse Jeans, Sequin Camisole, Black Ankle Boots, Striped Bow Shirt, Velvet Heels, T-shirt, Pink Cashmere Sweater, Down Bomber Jacket, White Sneakers, Velvet Purse, Pearl Earrings, Slippers, Velvet Slides, Velvet Dress, Fleece Pull-over

Gifts for Him:

 

Plaid Shirt, Dark Rinse Jeans, Danner Boots, Cashmere Crew-neck Sweater, Cologne, Leather Messenger, Lotion, Ultra Light Down Jacket, Slippers, Beanie, Black Hole Duffel, Wool Topcoat, Topo Bracelet

Gifts for Boys:

 

Fleece Jacket, Beanie, Ski Parka, Ski Pants, Electric Scooter, Watch, Legos, Book Set, Boggs Boots, Wool Ski Socks

Gifts for Girls:

 

Down Jacket, Fleece Jacket, Ugg Boots, Legos, Lace Dress, Dino Sweater, Jeans, Faux Fur Bolero, Plaid Shirt, Bogg Boots, Robot, Meri Meri Necklace and Braclet

Gifts for Grandma:

 

Alex and Ani Bracelet, Stadium Cloth Coat, Buffalo Check Throw Pillow, Silver Charger, Slippers, Llama Dishcloth, Jeans, Red Ski Sweater, Star Sweater, Red Slippers, Turtleneck Sweater

Gifts for Grandpa:

 

Family Tree Portrait, Print and Block Frame, Barbour Classic Bedale Jacket, Shaving Kit, Robe

Gifts for the New Mom:

 

Baby Book, Cashmere Robe, Cashmere Sweat Pants, Tiffany Necklace, Boppy Pillow

Gifts for the Tech Savvy:

 

Apple Watch, Bose Wireless Headphones, Bose Micro Bluetooth Speaker, iRobot Roomba, Drone

Gifts for the Gym Goer:

 

Nike Shoes, Racer-back Tank, Wireless Headphones, Leggings, Gym Duffel, Zella Zip Jacket, iTunes Giftcard, iPhone 8, Swell Water Bottle

Gifts for the Tool Man:

Gerber Mutitool, Klein Tools, Pendleton Crater Lake Throw, Spyderco Tenacious Knife, Dewalt Wireless Drill, Dremel, Best Made Hatchet, Deerskin Insulated Work Gloves, No Bull Bottle Opener

Gifts for Beauty Junkies:

Naked Eye Palette, NARS Lip Gloss, Benefit Mascara, NARS Blush in Orgasm, Clinique Quickliner, NARS Velvet Lip Glide, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Tom Ford Lipstick, NARS Multiple Stick, Tom Ford Lipstick

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Bike Commuting: 7 Facts

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Image by LL Creative

Twenty-five days. This is the number of days I’ve commuted by bike. Far fewer than some, and perhaps more than most. This journey has been a cleansing one for me. Each morning I get the chance to send my gratitude out into the world as I roll along. Each afternoon, I have a moment to reflect on my work day and prepare for a good evening at home.

Even these small moments of meditation have added to the power of my zen. I thank bike commuting for this. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband for enabling this great adventure. He chose the perfect bike, got me set with panniers and lights, and has generally championed this enterprise from the very beginning.

After an exciting, and rather frozen, entrance into bike-commuting (my second ride began at 16 degrees), I thought a post about some of the myths and truths of using two wheels as a viable form of transportation was in order. If my skeleton doesn’t end up looking like the Victorian cyclist specimen below, I’m going to be glad I began this journey.

Image via The Victorian Cyclist

True: Bike Commuting Takes Planning

One of the very first and most obvious facts about bike commuting is that it does take additional planning. My planning usually begins every evening when I set out my gear, prep my panniers, and make sure that I have all the things I need for the following work day in their proper place. The reason that planning is the key to success is that once you get where you’re going, you probably won’t have time to return to where you’ve been (ostensibly to pick up something you’ve forgotten).

However, I want to emphasize that planning, in and of itself, isn’t a negative! In fact, I’ve eaten more healthy meals, been more on-time to my job, been more happy to return home to see my kiddos, more active physically, and more balanced emotionally since beginning to bike commute.

There have also been a couple of uncomfortable moments due to my poor planning. Like the day when I forgot my pants at home. Yes, I said pants. Add to this the fact that I was being evaluated by my administrator later that afternoon! (Insert laugh-crying emoji here). The crisp white tuxedo shirt, black thermal biking spandex, and mid-ankle duck boots was a fun look, for sure. But my husband saved me from evaluation embarrassment by bringing my pants to me after first hour class.

Bekka Wright, a long time bike commuter in Boston, MA, sums up what bike planning sometimes looks like at my house below– DO I HAVE IT ALLLLLLL? Her bike comics can be found on her website, bikeyface.com , and she’s become a real inspiration as my commuting continues. The important part of planning is that you will get into a groove. You will get better and better at prepping for your day. You WILL remember your pants (most of the time), and you entire day will be better because you rode your bike!

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Image via Bikeyface

False: Bike Commuting is Impossibly Difficult

I realize that bike commuting seems fraught with difficulty to the outside observer. There are a lot of working parts to get this baby rolling. First there’s the mechanical aspect of the bike– tires, chain, pedals, seat, derailer, etc. Then there is a fair amount of gear– helmet, shoes, Lycra, gloves, work clothes, panniers, toiletries, etc. But the goal is not to over complicate something that can become a habit, and really just a way of life.

I shrugged bike commuting of as inconvenient, difficult, and even untenable after we moved farther from my work. I let fear of mechanical difficulties keep me from bike commuting for a long, long time. I’m the first to admit that I really don’t do a good job changing a bike tire. Heck, I’ll be honest that I also didn’t want to show up at work a hot sweaty mess, and never be able to recover my composure.

I also have to come clean that in the mechanical realm, I have a fall back– my husband. Any of you who know Perry, know that he is a bicycle guru. If I’m in a bind, I know that I can call on him at any moment. Additionally, I have a co-worker who has agreed to be my emergency contact at work. She has said that she’ll pick me up and get me to my classroom on time.

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Image via Bikeyface

True: Bike Commuting Brings You Health

Cruising on the interwebs a few days ago, I saw an article in the New York Times that listed a nine ways to make 2018 your most healthy year-to-date. One of the items listed there was “Bike to Work.” There are scads of articles that support this finding– bike commuting will make you a happier (we’ll talk about that below) and healthier person.

Honestly, how could it not?!? I went from working out sum 0, to instantly incorporating 50 minutes of ride time: read work out time into my day. If you read my article “New Balance” you know that I was really struggling to find the time to work out. Now I am feeling fit and sassy once again. I cannot praise and preach enough about how this one simple change in my life had brought me a new level of health and wellness.

False: Bike Commuting Takes Too Much Time

For me, this was one of the greatest factors that kept me from bike commuting in the first place. I told myself over and over that I was a busy human. I had commitments to fulfill and schedules to keep and things to do, and biking to work was not one of them.

I really felt as though I would be taking way too much time out of my day. But here is the math. It takes me 25 minutes to bike to work. It takes me 10 minutes to drive. BUT it also takes me two minutes to park, plus a couple minutes to warm up the car in the morning. I have to haul all of my stuff out of my car and into my classroom if I drive, and I often don’t take the time to pack a lunch so I am leaving campus to grab food in the middle of the day.

The truth is, it really does take almost as long for me to get to work in my car as it does on my bike. Yes, I have to build in a little extra time to get to work. Yes, I do have to make sure I have time to get dressed when I arrive at work. Yes, there are times when the unforeseen has made being on a bicycle a little bit inconvenient. But I find that driving my car can actually be pretty inconvenient, too!

True: Cars Do Not See You

When I began bike commuting, my sons also began riding their bikes to school more frequently. Partially this grew out of moving a little bit closer to their school, but it also did feel as though our commitment to bike was a family affair!

I’ll never forget the first time I felt like a car was actually going to hit me. I was turning left out of the school parking lot. A driver was turning left into that lot. They didn’t have their blinker on, didn’t move into the turn lane, didn’t see me until my front tire had nearly met theirs. Scared me half to death.

Cars simply don’t see bicycles. Most drivers didn’t grow up accustomed to watching for cyclists, and I would say that only in the last ten years has bike commuting taken off (but I haven’t done a lot of research to this effect, so that may turn into a future post). Every morning that our boys take off for school my husband reminds them, “Be careful. Cars don’t see you.”

The reality is that as a cyclist you need to ride defensively at all times. I’ve caught myself daydreaming more than once on my bike, and then I am pushed back into reality by a car that comes far too close behind me after I’ve crossed an intersection, etc. The point here is that as a cyclist, I try to be hyper-aware of the vehicles around me. I have lights, and bright clothing, and  a really loud orange bike. But sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough. I hope I never have to face a bike accident caused by a car. In fact, one of my constant prayers is that cyclist won’t get hit by cars. Period.

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Image via Bike Boom

False: Bike Commuting Is Dangerous

Now beyond the fact that bicyclists are hard to see from larger vehicles, I also have come to the conclusion that bicycling to work is NOT the most dangerous choice you could make. I am pretty sure that you are more likely to be in a car accident than you are a bicycling accident.

Heavens, you’re probably more likely to step off of a curb and spiral fracture your ankle than you are to be in a bicycling accident. Dave Walker’s cartoon really made me smile as he supports this claim. Almost everything we do has an inherent risk. So I’ll take the risks associated with biking if it means I might poke my ear (or even my eye) when putting on my sun glasses (see below).

Practically all of us crazy homo sapiens live, and love, and have joy despite the fact that we will drop dead at some point along our journey. So instead of hiding from death, which not a lot of us are afraid of, let’s live and celebrate life with each breath.

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Image via Dave Walker

True: Bike Commuting Makes You Happier

I can speak to the happiness that bike commuting brings like a trumpet! I have absolutely, positively LOVED commuting on bike to work for this past few months. I know that I still have a long way to go to make those 1,000 decisions, properly made, that Specialized Sequoia’s encourage. But I have been uplifted, lightened, zenned by bike commuting.

Image via Bike Radar and Bikeyface

So I don’t have much more to say than, keep bringing on the zen! A huge shout out to my hubby who really gave me the push that got me out on the road, and to our lovely local bike shop– Slim and Knobby’s— who has taken such good care of me every pedal stroke along the way!! I hope you have a fabulous Friday, and a gorgeous weekend. What are your thoughts on bike commuting? I’d love to know! You can comment below, or give me a shout out on Facebook, or head over to Instagram to see more of my pictures and posts.

XX,

Megan

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Image via With All I Have 

Eye Spy: Warby Parker Winter Core and Resort ’17 Collection

Warby Parker Winter Core

As winter’s shadows lengthen and the days grow shorter (at least until mid-December), it’s not too early to think about welcoming the New Year. In 2017, I tried to maintain a better balance– both mind and body. I’ve taken to bike commuting to get (and keep) me outside and moving, I’ve focused on making sure that we’re eating whole and healthy meals here at home, and I’m making sure that I take care of each aspect of me so that I am more prepared to be a strength to my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my students, and the world at large.

One of the things that’s been on my update list for a long time is a new pair of eye glasses. In 2018 I’m going to bite the bullet and get a new pair of specs, and I think Warby Parker is the ideal place to find a new pair! I am very excited to help Warby Parker announce their Winter Core and Resort ’17 Collections.

One fresh way that Warby Parker makes it easy to pick out a pair of new glasses is with their free in-home try on. This is such a bonus for a busy, working professional and mom who doesn’t have much time to break away for a visit to an eye glasses retailer. Instead, I can try them on in the comfort of my own home, make sure I love them before I order them, and the price point won’t break my wallet– see for yourself!

In terms of eye-wear you could call me an 80/20 lady. I wear contacts eighty percent of the time, and glasses around twenty percent of the time. But the reality is that as my eyes have matured, my eye doctor has encouraged me to wear my glasses more frequently. In fact, if you see me some weekend cruising around my neighborhood, chances are I’m wearing glasses.

Here are a couple of new frames I’m considering from Warby Parker’s Winter Core. First up, Violet:

 

Violet is equal parts quirky and quintessential– perfectly retro-modern. The metal frame is rose gold, and I’ve considered a subtle cat eye like Violet vaunts for YEARS. Maybe now it’s time to pull the trigger. Violet has that cool girl vibe that can be dressed up or down. The look I’ve pulled together is casual with a pretty pink cable-knit sweater, chartreuse beanie, my ALL TIME favorite jeans, and a peachy pair of golden goose sneakers.

My other winter pick from Warby Parker’s Winter Core is Lowry:

 

Lowry in jet black fade has an edgy, more masculine look that I can really get behind. My outfit would definitely include a cozy, sherpa-lined denim jacket, rockin’ ruffled plaid top, and chewed hem jeans. With Lowry as my outfit topper, I’d add a sweet pair of velvet Mary Jane’s just to lean a little back toward girly, and call it a day!

The other fabulous news about Warby Parker is that they not only have eye glasses, they have a gorgeous collection of sunglasses, too! A few of my new favorites from their Resort ’17 collection are Wyatt and Cleo.

 

Our post-Christmas plans include more snow, i.e. Tahoe, this year. But if we were headed to the beach I’d be sure that I packed a couple pair of Warby Parker sunnies. You don’t need much to enjoy the sand and the sun so I’d duffle-up this adorable striped romper, a new bright one-piece, some sassy slides, and a packable hat. Paradise, here I come!

Alright, this post has been a really fun one to create. Now I’m headed over to really give Warby Parker’s home try-on a go. I’ll be posting the try-on results in a month or so, but I’m also wondering if any of you have had experience with Warby Parker? Comments, questions, and conversation are always welcome here. Happy Tuesday, fabulous humans!

XX,
Megan

Caitlin Louise Small Blush Tortoise Warby Parker Winter 17

*This post is in partnership with Warby Parker. All opinions and views expressed are my own. Thank YOU, dear readers, for supporting brands that support Refined + Rugged. The glasses frames pictured above are Lousie in Blush Tortoise.