Tag Archives: Stitch Fix

The Amish Nun Strikes Again!

Last night we went to a Gala to raise money for Cambridge Family & Children’s Service, the awesome organization that helped us adopted the Cherubs. Last year, my friend Super-G & I went. This year, Greenhouse Mission sponsored a table. (Next year we hope to WOW THE ROOM with a 40 person roller skating performance to the tune of Stayin’ Alive, but the room has carpet, so we have a few things to figure out…)

mentioned before how I had a bit of a struggle over what to wear to the Gala (and how I don’t do well with dresses generally), and that I turned to Stitch Fix in my hour of need, hoping they’d find me a certain dress. My algorithm/stylist Katelyn tried, she really did. And while I was cautiously optimistic when I opened the box and saw this pretty array of Spring possibility…

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My hopes were crushed in a brutal collision with reality.  Let me remind you…

The dress in a picture:

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The dress on me:

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You know it’s bad when your first reaction to a photo like this isn’t, “I need to delete this immediately…” but rather, “Oh I need to show this to EVERYONE!”

So last night, after trying on all four dresses I own, I went back to the Amish Nun Dress. It IMG_5654really was the best of the bunch, and I knew that I wouldn’t run into the same Everyone  else is wearing a ball gown issue I had with Steve’s holiday party. I wore cuter shoes this time. Honestly, I thought I’d be okay.

I walked into the gala feeling cute & confident. But then, out of nowhere, I was TOTALLY BUSTED.

A nice woman I’ll call D came up to chat. I’ve met her before at other CFCS events, as she’s on their Board. She’s really fun so was excited to see her. BUT THEN she told me, trying not to laugh, that SHE READS THIS BLOG. She even forwards the link to friends (Hi Kathryn!) And therefore she knew that not only was I not wearing the Stitch Fix dress, I was wearing my Amish Nun ensemble. Again.

I was hilariously mortified.

Just as I was struggling to justify my choice (I was working on a line about how Nuns help children, so it was the right thing to wear…) she confessed her own dress struggle, and mine faded far into the background. She gave me permission to share it here, and you should thank her now.

D. told me that, as she got dressed that morning, she thought she looked pretty good. She called to her husband for his take on things, and he (being a wise man of discernment and kindness) told her gently, “Um, something’s not right in the front…” She could see what he meant – things around the tummy area were bunched up in an unusual way. But she couldn’t hone in on the problem and had to get on with her day.

Later, she discovered the problem. She had her Spanx on backwards. 

Her shapewear was diligently doing it’s job in all the wrong directions, lifting and separating her tummy into butt cheeks.

I laughed so hard my face hurt.

I feel like this is a theme of my week – how, when we get together with our hopes and dreams and stories, and lift each other up by sharing the funny things that happen, the atmosphere changes. The world actually becomes a better place.

Thank you, D. for making my night! (I so wish we’d grabbed a picture!)

Here’s part of our Greenhouse Mission crew at our table.

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Behind us you can see some of the young ladies who live in one of the CFCS group homes. The money we were raising will go to support them, and the young men at the next table, as they transition into adulthood. Such a cool thing to be part of. If you want to donate to CFCS and the work they do, click here and be part of the fun.

 

Blergh

I was sick yesterday. You know that weird feeling where it feels like all the blood has been drained from your arms and you just want to go to sleep for the next sixteen days? Yeah, that. Nothing was really wrong. I kept trying to buck up and get with the program. I schlepped Cherubs. I wrestled with an excel spreadsheet for next weekend’s women’s retreat. I thought about how, as much as I love retreats? That’s how much I loathe excel. I sent the wrong spreadsheet four different times to two different people. This is a test of my spiritual fortitude, friends, and I am failing.

Then I scrolled through Facebook and Pinterest until my head swam.

I love the practicality of Proverbs in the Bible, but sometimes I hate it when they’re true. Like the one that says, You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Sigh.

On a funnier note, I peaked at my next Stitch Fix box (you can see what’s coming once it ships). It’s good that the last one was such a hit, because this one contains a pair of jeans in MUTED PURPLE. I can’t even describe how ugly they are, except that the first thought was That looks like something a cat puked up… And there’s a dress. You know how I feel about dresses. And while it’s true, I requested a dress (I have a Gala early next month for the organization that helped us adopt The Cherubs), I requested a very specific sort of dress.

I pinned THIS:

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Notice how the stripes make it almost not a dress, even though it is a dress? I was practically excited about it.

But they’re sending THIS:

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It’s like the striped dress got caught in a wood chipper, then the Duggar sisters pulled it out and added extra fabric to the bottom to make it modest. I’m cringing.

And finally, last night Steve & I discovered that we’ve been using the same toothbrush. For at least a month. Turns out we both like the red one. #Hygiene

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The Best I’ve Looked Since 3rd Grade

In Third Grade, I had a very special outfit, probably my favorite thing I have ever worn.

It began with forest green polyester pants. This was the 70s, so of course they were flares, and they swooshed back and forth as I walked, as if each of my knees had its own skirt. There was a matching white rayon blouse, soft and shiny, patterned with a bucolic forest of pine trees. There were small woodland creatures in those trees, at least as I remember it. The blouse would be cold when I put it on, and then warm up throughout the day in a way that is unique to synthetic fibers of that era. A white knit vest completed the look. I believe it was acrylic. It echoed the trees & creatures theme from the blouse.  My skin couldn’t breath and no sweat ever escaped. But I felt like I was on top of the world.

When I wore that outfit, I felt invincible. Sassy, special, and ready to face life. I remember walking through my third grade classroom watching my pant legs swing around my ankles, thinking there was no better person on earth to be than me.

I’m not sure I’ve felt that way about an outfit since.

In the years since third grade, I’ve had fashion highs and lows.

I was BEDAZZLED for two summers in high school when I worked for a woman from iu-1New Jersey who sold $500 sweaters in her boutique. I looked like an add for Ronco, with sparkly wonder flung across everything I owned. That’s where I learned to wear shoulder pads. And hair accessories. And big earrings.

It was this unique look I brought to preppy Wheaton College in the fall of my freshman year. I thought Laura Ashley was a girl who lived in our dorm, and kept asking, “Why would you buy a J. Crew Field Jacket when you’re never in a field?”

After college, I found my professional look when my roommate introduced me to Ann Taylor. I’ve dressed almost exclusively in black, grey, white & navy ever since. Those years were okay, but a friend from my bedazzled high school days saw me and asked, “What have they done to you???”

I went through a frumpy stage when I became a Christian. I read all these books about dressing modestly until the only attire that felt even remotely appropriate was sweaters handed down from my father. He’s six feet tall. I’m 5’4.’ I spent that first Jesus-ey year swaddled in yards of wool.

Then a few years ago, I discovered Target. It was cheap! As my body, well…GREW, I had some fashion growing pains. My no longer required Ann Taylor-level professionalism, shopping became a chore instead of a treat. I didn’t like how I looked, so the cheaper the better became my motto. Until very recently, my wardrobe assembly process looked something like this:

Spring/Early Summer: T-shirts on sale for $10 each? Great! I’ll take white, a navy, a grey, and a color like peach or green that I’ll think of as “fun” but never wear. The cut is unflattering and makes me look astoundingly wide, and the fabric both clings AND gets little holes every time I wash it. But whatever, it’ll do.

Fall/Early Winter: Sweaters on sale for $15? Great! I’ll take a grey, black, navy, off white, and something with stripes or a cardigan that I’ll think of as “on trend” but never wear. I’ll need to buy all of these new because last year’s sweaters fell apart. The cut of these makes me look like a basketball, and the fabric pills on the sides and where the seatbelt goes (and pretty much anywhere else it touches something.) But whatever, it’ll do.

I spent a lot of time untagging myself from other peoples’ pictures on Facebook.

I had ALL THESE CLOTHES, but they looked terrible. None of them made “outfits.” I understood, suddenly, that when women look frumpy and disheveled, it’s not because they don’t care. It’s because they don’t know how to make it better. Because that’s how it was for me.

So yeah, the past couple of years have been awkward. Especially once we began meeting as a church, and I was speaking most Sundays. The Vineyard is about as casual as churches come. Jeans and flip flops are common. But I just looked sloppy. When the hotel where our church meets remodeled their conference room, I was terrified they’d swap out the giant oak podium I stand behind for one of those tiny clear lucite things made popular by TED talks, and there would be nowhere to hide.

This is part of why Stitch Fix has felt like a miracle since I discovered it last month. I’m a bit obsessed. It’s become my new embarrassing hobby. I’m now a person with a Pinterest page.

My third Fix came last week. I’d asked for a jean jacket, a grey & white striped top, tops in colors other than blue, and jeans in a light wash.

This was the best one yet. My stylist tweaked some of my sizes and found the exact jeans I had on my Pinterest page. In three Fixes, I’ve scored three pairs of jeans, five tops, and a jacket. They all fit. They make outfits!

There are PATTERNS – a floral, a stripe, a sort of dot/splotch, and something a friend described as tribal); and COLOR! Okay, two tops are blue and two are grey. But one is RED, a color I’ve avoided since an unfortunate incident during the Giant Wool Sweater phase, where I donned a tomato-ish v-neck and my sister told me I looked like Gilligan.

But look: I’ve overcome!

If you’re feeling like you’ve been covering your body more than getting dressed, give it a try. Here’s how it works & what I’ve learned:

For a styling fee of $20, they send you five items selected based on a questionnaire about your style and notes you make about your current needs.  (Example: “Summer is coming so I’m looking for a dress to wear to a fundraiser, shorts with a 5″ inseam, and some fun colored tops I can wear to work either alone or with a sweater or blazer.”) In your profile you’ll have a chance to note things like “Please don’t ever send me X color or Y style.”  The more detailed, the better.

(I think of this part as handing a skilled stylist a $20 bill and sending her to the mall to do all the shopping for me. She can use the $20 towards whatever she finds.)

You pick the date to receive your Fix.

When it arrives, you will be horrified by at least half of it. Shut down your inner critic and try it all on. Let yourself be surprised. Don’t overthink it. If you turn around and can’t believe how cute something looks that you were sure would make you look like your grandmother’s couch, trust your first thought, and take a chance. That’s what happened to me with the navy blue floral top in #1. I pulled it out and thought, No way, because I don’t wear florals. But now I do :)

If the style is good but the size is wrong, you can usually exchange it up or down. I just did this with some jeans. I held on to the first pair until the second arrived, then sent back the ones that didn’t work. Quick & easy.

If you keep everything, you get 25% off your total. I’ve only done this once. The other times, the jeans & top I kept were worth the full price, even though they were more than I’d been paying at Target. Your $20 styling fee is applied toward anything you buy.

Once you decide, you checkout online, then put anything you don’t want in the pre-paid bag they provide. Hand it to your mailman or drop it at the post office and you’re done.

If you use my link for your first Fix, I’ll get a $25 referral credit when you place your order. (Thank you!)

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Have a dedicated Pinterest Page for Stitch Fix style with things you are looking for NOW. Put pins for future looks or random ideas on a separate page. Your stylist will look at this page when she’s pulling stuff for you. Update this page between Fixes.
  • Join one of the Facebook groups where people show how they style different items. It’s helpful to see the clothes on real people, and sometimes you can even trade or buy items.
  • Remember that clothes are meant to enhance our lives, not become our lives. We’re still us, whether we’re in a frumpy Target tee or a flowy red top that does not in any way resemble Gilligan. But it’s fun to feel a bit more pulled together.

If you’re looking for a fun and helpful gift for a Graduation, Mother’s Day, or other celebration? A gift card to SF would be an amazing surprise.

And who knows? Maybe you (or someone you love) will find your very own forest green polyester/rayon/acrylic woodlands ensemble, and it will make your whole world glow :)

 

 

Laughing & Crying

I didn’t realize how schizophrenic my weekend was until I sat down to write this post.

First, the funny part:

Have you guys noticed that the way clothes look on Pinterest & style cards isn’t AT ALL how they look on a live body? I think this is a metaphor for EVERYTHING.

This weekend, Steve & I both had boxes arrive from Stitch Fix. I am incredibly in love with this service, ever since they sent me a pair of jeans that fit right out of the box. My round #2 came at the same time Steve got round #1. The results were…mixed.

Here is Steve’s face when he opened his box:

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I laughed so hard I hiccuped. You can’t really tell from the picture, but that plaid shirt looked like it had been made from men’s swim trunks as part of a Project Runway challenge. The look is best described as metrosexual surfer. It even had those loop things on the sleeve with the button!

If you have met Steve, you know that there is no way he would ever wear something like that. The man is a hockey goalie. He buys his clothes at Timberland, NorthFace & L.L. Bean. Next he pulled some grey Sperry-type boat sneakers from the bag and I had to gasp to get enough air.  He tried it all on under protest. The Cherubs were speechless.

We looked at the little style card they sent with the packages and realized something: There is a GARGANTUAN GAP between how things look in 2D, set out flat on a style card with coordinating pieces, and how they look in 3D, on a living person.
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(I’m sad to report that Steve would not let me take a picture of him wearing these items. This shows once again that he is wiser than me.)

Here’s the thing: If you’d shown me this card in advance, I’d have said, “That looks great – he’ll love it!” (Provided I didn’t notice the little sleeve loops). But there’s this collision that happens when we try to transition things from 2D to 3D. Not everything survives the trip.

Honestly, I cannot stop drawing deep metaphors from this experience.

***

Yesterday, I gave a Palm Sunday sermon inspired in part by this Stitch Fix experience. I talked about how disappointing it is when something you hope might be the answer to your prayers comes within reach…and then turns out to be not at all what you expected.

At least 5 people in our congregation have asked us recently some version of the questions, “How do you deal with disappointment? How do you stay faithful to believing God’s promises when you’re in pain?” As silly as it sounds, Stitch Fix gave me a starting point. It was a low emotion example that helped me think this through, and share it in a way that we could all laugh at. Because we’ve all had the experience of seeing something in a picture and thinking, “That would be great!” only to have it collapse when exposed to the challenges of real, 3D life.

So I told them about how, in order to face getting dressed in the morning, most of us have to die to the idea that we’ll look like a supermodel, or a flat style card. We all laughed.

That was the easy part.

Then came the harder part, because some things are a big, pain-filled mystery and we just don’t know where God is in it all, or what He’s doing.

I talked about the pain of losing Princess Peach four years ago – the devastation Steve & I felt then, the hurt look I still see in her eyes when we see her, how she tries really hard not to ask why we let her go. (Two years ago we gave her a doll for Christmas and her first eager question was, “Does it smell like you?”) I’m still looking to God to make this right when it looks so very wrong.

I know it’s obnoxious to compare this loss to an unfortunate Stitch Fix delivery. But I need both examples.

Steve has already forgotten that that plaid shirt ever happened. (He’ll be quite surprised to see another box arrive in June, with selections from a updated style profile and a Pinterest board I made from pictures of clothes hockey players might wear.) This low-bar example gives me space to think through how I deal with disappointment: in most cases, I trust that there is a something better is possible, and that it’s coming.

The challenge is applying this to bigger things; to real hurts where the emotions are  too live for me to figure out what response my faith suggests, because I’m simply surviving. There are so many swirling questions when we’re in pain. How do I trust that this is God’s best for Princess Peach? For us? What do we DO? How do we move forward? Of course, learning about adoption from foster care led us to The Cherubs, which is amazing. But I don’t think God leaves one little girl out in the cold so that two other kids can have a Mom & Dad. I have to believe that the story is not over.

Closing out the sermon, I shared one special memory that helps me:

It was our last day with Princess Peach. We were in the car, driving her to where the social workers were meeting us to take her away. They were over an hour late, so we had a lot of time to fill. Steve prayed a Father’s blessing over Princess Peach, speaking love and a vision for her life. Then we drove around Cambridge, all three of us numb with disbelief. Princess Peach starred out the window and stroked the soft fur of the stuffed puppies we’d bought to take with her to keep her safe. We had the iPod on shuffle to fill the silence. Then a song came on and Princess Peach lit up. “Play THAT ONE again, please!” she said.

It was a song by CeCe Winans, called “It Ain’t Over.” It’s one of those songs where you stand up in church and stomp your feet and clap. It’s a BATTLE song. Princess Peach kept saying “Play it again?” So we did.

So you gave it all you had

And you still came up short

You’ve been faithful through it all

And you answered the call.

Keep your eye on the prize

Don’t give up the faith

God has a plan for you

That’s why we say…

It ain’t over.

It felt like God was right there with is in that awful moment, challenging us to believe.

And so we do. It’s been four years. I still cry every time I hear that song. We’ve seen Princess Peach 3 times in those years. I don’t know what God is doing, but I know this for sure: It ain’t over.

We pray for her every day.

We move forward with life, trusting that God will reconnect our dots someday.

And we take joy in small things, because they add up and make a difference.

One of the hardest things for me after we said goodbye to her was figuring out how to LIVE. To laugh at something funny, or enjoy a good meal, or be excited about cute jeans that fit…it seemed like such a betrayal of her. We lived in a suspended state for months after that, certain she’d be back.

We were surprised when Easter came, so to speak. How Jesus showed up and reassembled us, giving us new life where we were dead inside. It’s been miraculous. The pain hasn’t disappeared. But we’ve grown into the ability to carry it and live on. And in that, I trust that He is doing something similar in Princess Peach, because she loves him and so is covered under the promise of Romans 8:28 (“For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.“) I hang onto this verse like a lifeline. And then I entrust this sweet girl to Jesus, and get on with everyday life.

***

My Stitch Fix box turned out better than Steve’s.

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There was another pair of jeans that fit, which makes me want to hug my stylist “Katelyn,” whether she’s a person or an algorithm. I kept a top that was not at all something I would have picked for myself after Steve walked in and said, “Wow, that looks great on you!”

The other three things – a blazer like one I already own, a top I loved thats didn’t quite fit, and a wool scarf – went back (and made me realize I need to take the cold weather outfit pictures off of my Pinterest style board). I didn’t get the 25% discount you get if you keep all 5 items. But even at full price, it was worth it. I spent five minutes placing an order, rather than three hours at the mall, and came out with a new outfit. I don’t look like the perfection on the style card. But I’m a nicely updated 3D version of me :)

I’m taking every bit of joy I can out of that small, silly win.

To sum it all up…

Listen to this song. Pray for Princess Peach, and for the big questions you still have about what God is doing in your life. It’s okay to clap and have some fun with it. I think part of heaven coming to earth is that it brings a lot more joy than we expect, even in the midst of pain:

And if you need some clothes, or feel like you’re style is hopeless and you can’t face the mall? Try Stitch Fix. If you order for the first time through the link, I get a $20 referral credit, which makes jeans more affordable.

This life is both/and, you guys. It really is.