Well, we’ve reached the day where we get to count down the final hours and minutes of 2016. It’s absolutely crazy to me that another entire year has gone by, and at the same time I find myself feeling as if an entire lifetime has passed since January of this year. It’s like the paradoxical feeling of putting your feet into a hot bath and feeling cold.
Although I’m one who tends to look on the bright side of things, I’m sort of happy to see the back end of 2016. A lot has gone down this year personally, politically, and emotionally. We’ve been called to soldier on through some pretty tough stuff – and I like to think we’ve come out the other side still smiling, with resolve.
It can get so easy to dwell on past mistakes, when 2016 carried with it so much good. I feel so fortunate to have this blog as a memory reel of the good things – to look back on this year and not just see the dark spots, but some of the very best moments I can remember. And so, as has become a yearly tradition, I went back through the archives to find my favorite looks from each month of 2016.
With a bit of fanfare and New Year’s stardust, here’s a year in the life of 2016…
I must admit, we started the year with a bang. Just a bit of a silent one. 2016 started with us coming to the realization that our time in Perth was very likely coming to an end. Up until that point, I still had hope for a variety of possible solutions (and a little bit of head-in-the-sand action). In December, I put on my big girl shoes and really dedicated myself to job applications. I had put in a few others the year prior, but admittedly didn’t put in my whole heart, because I was so sure Australia was home.
And without knowing it, as I donned this amazing 1950’s dress from Minxouri Vintage and grabbed the cutest novelty purse from One Sweet Thread, by the time January rolled around, I had set in motion a series of events that would rock our world. I just didn’t know it yet. Truth be told, all I knew as of January was that I had a new year to start fresh, with vintage to buy and science to do!
February dawned and it was all business as usual! I had a massive closet clear out and we kicked off an intensive marine neuro course. I was basically a blur, giving lectures, running labs, all the while trying to keep my head from exploding. The great thing about an intensive course is that you really get to know the students. And though it also means chaos, this was the fourth year we had run it and luckily I had it down to a science by that point. Pun intended.
This was also the month that I had a few nail-biting Skype interviews and was moving up a notch or two on the list for various academic positions. I was pretty shocked to not just get the “thanks but no thanks” letter that is pretty common in such a competitive job market. And just like that, I started booking flights and frantically preparing for multiple trips overseas in the months to come…
March is always one of my favorite months. First of all, my birthday falls in March. Secondly, it was my one year blog-a-versary! It was such a huge milestone to hit, particularly because when I started this adventure I really had no idea what went into it. I once heard that starting a blog is easy – maintaining it is the hard part. Ohhh so true. There was a steep learning curve of self-taught HTML and getting organized with some really useful online tools. But, before I knew it, I could hardly imagine a time when I wasn’t clattering away on this blog. It became my sanctuary.
So, how might I commemorate such a good month? Well, apologies to all of the other things I wore in March – but hands down my favorite is my handmade Jane Austen dress. I suppose it’s rather telling – this was a month of job interviews. Of a whole lot of hard work cultivating in one month of explosive madness. And this dress completely epitomizes when hard work comes to fruition. I can’t imagine a more fitting dress to represent March…
I hate to admit it – but most of April was spent waiting by the phone. I know. I know. I am SO not that girl. And yet, in the context of waiting on my future employer, I really was that girl. Luckily, I had some beautiful vintage to keep me company during my vigil!
This Jerry Gilden beauty arrived on my doorstep from a friend who I made through the blogging world – the lovely Mikala, prior proprietress of Greater Goods Vintage and now onto life’s next adventures. Every time I slip this dress on (and there have been a great many times since April), she serves as a never-failing reminder of all of the good in the world. Of the connections we make every day and the community that we’re building. Of the wonderful people I’ve met who are trying to make a difference, one dress at a time.
And so, with a lot of nail biting and tearful discussions, the flick of a cyber pen, I had officially been offered and accepted a job. It hadn’t really sunk in yet that we would be leaving. And in a lot of ways, I got to live in a merry world of make-believe. For one, we weren’t telling many people at that point. Until I had a contract in hand and all t’s crossed and i’s dotted, it’s best to keep it under wraps. Save for our family and closest friends, I kept it zipped. It was so hard to keep it off the blog…and in looking back at my posts around that time, it’s pretty obvious (to me at least) where my head was at.
It was also the month of a really exciting collaboration, where I partnered with Etsy to shine some well-deserved attention on small businesses. Etsy also generously sponsored a giveaway, and one lucky reader walked away with $100 GC to spend. It was a great reminder that the heart and soul of the blog is really about sharing my love of vintage and supporting small businesses along the way. One of my absolute favorite small businesses was the lovely gal who sold me this skirt, Nicole Elaine Vintage.
I mean, does it get any better than this print??
Ohhh June. June feels like a blur looking back. It was a month of crazy travel (yes, more). I somehow thought it was a totally doable endeavor to attend two conferences (and give talks at each), catch up with friends and family on both coasts and attend a family wedding. This involved over 5 weeks of travel across 12 flights, 5 cities, 2 coasts, and an exhilarating but exhausting mix of work and play. This started in June and leaked into July, and by the time it was done I was a big pile of mush. Well, really all that happened is I walked through life in a jet lagged haze for about a week and caught a wretched cold.
So, let’s just call it a month of stepping outside of my comfort zone. And I thought – what better outfit to commemorate that than embracing a time when I stepped outside of my personal uniform and fell in love with a pencil skirt? And as it happens every time – I found myself wondering why I don’t wear pencil skirts more often?
New Years Resolution perhaps…
One of the best stopovers in my own personal Odyssey was a trip home to visit my family and attend one of my very best friend’s wedding. It was the most beautiful Indian-meets-Western ceremony, with a morning Indian ceremony, with all of us bridesmaids resplendent in our colorful saris, to a quick change followed by the American ceremony. Like a true fashionista, I’m just not happy unless there’s a costume change…
Being home also gave me the chance to hang with this little chicklet. Being around Brynn makes all other worries fly out the window. And she nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw I had brought my dress that matched her own. Naturally I indulged myself in a little Mini Me photoshoot. What’s a proud aunt to do?
Once August hit, it was all hands on deck prepping for The Move. The June-July trip had acted as a bit of a buffer (one of those “I’ll think about that after I’m back.” kind of deals). The problem with that strategy is that once I was back, things took a turn for the insane. I started working crazy hours trying to finish off experiments, finalize grants, and organize my students, and every evening was spent booking flights, coordinating movers, setting up temporary accommodations in North Carolina, and trying (in vain) not to let our emotions get the best of us.
Despite the crazy, Mr. Dressed and I did manage to stop and take the time to celebrate our 6 six year wedding anniversary. Although there was a To Do list a mile long, we took a night off, donned our vintage finest, and toasted to 6 years of unbridled married awesome.
I found it rather fitting that I was wearing this dress the day I announced our departure on the blog – the perfect blue gingham Dorothy dress, with bows and ribbon trim, to ease me into finally saying out loud: there’s no place like home.
When it comes down to it, there really is no easy way to say goodbye to people you love. To a place you have called home for more than 5 years. And September flew by all too quickly in a flurry of details, and before we knew it, we were attending our own send-off parties and investing in a lot of tissues. And no matter how inadequately I was able to express just how much Australia worked it’s way into my soul, I am forever changed because of our time there. I am a better version of me.
And just like that, we were back on US soil. We had wisely planned a stopover in San Diego, to let the pets get a break from flying and to let Mr. Dressed’s parents look after us for awhile. True to form, my travel-weary, emotionally spent self needed some comfort. Needless to say, I made a beeline for my favorite San Diego vintage stores.
I love this Pat Premo dress from The Girl Can’t Help It, a hybrid of a wiggle and a swing dress, with her row of tiny dancers on the front. I also loved having the chance to hunt down new photoshoot locations for the blog! This was probably my favorite, with the columns of trees giving this dress the regal elegance she deserved.
In truth, November was a very conflicting month. On one hand, some of my very favorite things happened: we found our home here in NC (with the world’s perfect guest-room-meets-walk-in-closet), hosted my sister, brother-in-law and niece for our first US Thanksgiving in over 5 years, and my sister wrote the most inspirational guest post. We finally started to feel like our new city was home. On the other side of the coin, the election results leveled me. I have never been so wrecked by an election and its aftermath before. The outpouring of hate and intolerance was red and hot and scary. But I saw a lot of good rise from the ashes – I saw people fighting back, speaking out. I saw a future fraught with uncertainty, but also one that was going to show us what we were made of.
So, I chose one of my new favorite Pretty Dress Company pieces to represent November – I was needing some color to burst forth from the gloom of this month. But more than that, the rainbow has always been a symbol of acceptance. Of being free to be you and me. Because whatever comes in this new year that is dawning, I am ready for a fight. Heels and all.
And then, before I knew it, December was here. It was our first Christmas in our new home. And though we were both frantically working to prep for the year ahead, we found time to get a Christmas tree, decorate the house, and send gifts zipping around the world. It wasn’t a White Christmas the way I remember from my childhood, and it wasn’t the swelteringly hot Christmases from Australia, lounging by the pool. It was something new.
And that’s what this year has been about for me – moving towards something new. This Hearts and Found dress might be one of my favorite new pieces to cross over into my closet. And that’s what I’m doing with 2016: taking the good new and letting go of the bad new. Rolling up my cuffs at the potential new negativity to come this January, but staying safe in the new friends, new connections, and new experiences to come.
This time of year I think we will all be asked the inevitable question: “What are your New Year’s Resolutions?” I admit I don’t really have them (aside from: don’t suck at your new job.) Personally, I’ve never really been a fan of resolutions, because it puts a bit of unnecessary pressure on a decision to do better. Be better. Which is a year-round goal for me, now more than ever.
I wanted to thank you all for following along with this blog. I am continually humbled by the community we’ve created and the people I’ve met. I had no idea how much comfort this blog would bring me through all of the craziness 2016 introduced us to. But I am grateful every day for it. Despite the madness, I strongly feel we are all better people for what we have endured this year. This coming year may call on us to get scrappy. To be more vocal, less complacent. To stand up for what’s right and face our demons head on.
So bring it on, 2017. We’re ready for ya!