fashion help
(J.Crew Rebellious Librarian)

We leave for New York today. There’s packing to be done. And cleaning. No one wants to return home to a fridge full of rotting vegetables. In trying to pack, I can’t help but notice that I’m fine in the cocktail hour department, but what about everyday living? Everyday living here in Austin, for me, means sweat shorts and a stained v-neck tee-shirt with an eaten collar. Yes, I nibble on my clothes when I write. I need everyday clothes for summer, clothes a mother can wear without looking like a mother.

Ever notice how Tim Gunn tells everyone who’s a mother to just say no to mom clothes? No capri pants. No drawstring and pockets on the legs. Nothing short. Elongate your body. I get it, but my closet doesn’t. I own one pair of shorts that fit right now. One. And they’re tight. It makes absolutely no difference to them that I’ve lost eight pounds. I have no idea what to pack. Am I really going to walk around the Bronx Zoo in a silk J. Crew skirt? Really? It’s come to that. I’ve got that or the tight uncomfortable shorts, or the dreaded mom capri pant in beige. I need everyday clothes, casual–things I can wear in public–not yoga clothes. And not all day dresses because it’s hard to frolic with the radishes while worrying if someone might get a glimpse of mine.

Can anyone help? I am going to New York, so there’s shopping to be had there, of course. But aren’t we always tempted to buy what looks pretty instead of what works for everyday life? It’s too hot to put on jeans, and as lovely as the strangle of pearls is come autumn, it’s too heavy this time of year for so much jewelry. It just feels wrong. Everything should be light and full of whimsy. Basically, I need basics. Looks I can pull together that can take me to the duck pond, the zoo, and through city streets without being too weighed down. 

I hate feeling this way. The other day, I was at the San Marcos Outlets, and I breezed through a J.Crew, after shopping for the tikes and the man… and nothing fit, but that’s not the point… there was a woman in a gold and white horizontal striped skirt which she paired with an intense navy silk shell and a yellow long cardigan. Though she might have also wrapped some random long scarf around her whole body, hoping for a clubbing of bohemian. And I thought, "See, people can make casual really work." She looks stylish, dressed down. Except now that I think of it, she was wearing a SKIRT, a silk skirt, with a silk BLOUSE, and then a cardigan. A CARDIGAN. Is this what my life has come to? I don’t want to have to think. I just want someone to dress me… someone outside of this house. "Wear this, Mama," Abigail said to me today, the two of us in my closet. She was holding up a bathing suit sarong. Not exactly appropriate for an airport excursion, but love the for whimsy. I’ll give her that.

This is all a very long-winded way of saying, I’ve got shit to do, and in the coming days I hope to iron out things on this site, too, to dress it. So you find what you’re looking for, so it’s easier to read, so you know where to go when you want to find that post about wedding speeches, or that recipe I put up for the Abigail Rubytini. So I’m still working it all out… which is a fun and miserable process at once… just like shopping. Mostly, I just want to have fun and be playful with it, so I’m open to any site suggestions– or wardrobe suggestions. In the interem, thank you for excusing the untidyness you’ll find here and there with too many fonts, and footers that only work on some of the pages, etc. That’s my personal hell right now. Hence… I must sleep. Feel free to poke about and add any suggestions you have. Obviously I haven’t populated the videos yet, but that’s where they’ll always appear each week.

4 YEARS AGO: Dumbe ReadeShowing Skin
5 YEARS AGO: Sex Of A City



  1. Stephanie, go back to JCrew and buy madras shorts and polo shirts. Buy a plaid skirt while you’re there too. You can wear them with Chucks or flip flops, and when fall hits you can switch out the shorts for jeans and still look more pulled together than drawstring capris without having to break out the pearls.

    1. dear green, madras shorts are even worse than capri pants. Sure, on a radish they might look cute, but anyone over the age of 7 should be panned from madras. plus plaid. most definitely not fashion forward, and while they you may be able to pull it off as a young child (honestly, any clothing for children that isn’t covered in dora the explorer or some kind of action figure is okay by me) or on the golf course, wearing that kind of clothing in manhattan screams “I’M NOT FROM HERE!” Stephanie certainly doesn’t want to project the tourist image when she’s visiting manhattan, especially since she’s a new york girl herself. She may be transplanted to texas for the time being maybe, but sophistication and glamour-a.k.a manhattan style-are part of what makes her stephanie klein. That and the ability to write about fukcing without a moment of anxiety or bashfulness.

      1. Whatever. Plaid and madras are cute. Maybe not in Manhattan (apparently the cultural center of the universe), but perfectly acceptable. Just like dressing Manhattan chic (head to toe black with your nose in the air) looks really out of place and stupid in Montana.

      2. Dear NYC,

        Hi. I grew up about 15 minutes from Stephanie, she can wear plaid. The way to look like a tourist in Manhattan is to say things like, “Wow, look how tall that building is!” while gazing up with your mouth open and “Where did all these people come from?” and to wear a t-shirt that has a big apple on it saying “I LOVE NY”, with a fanny pack, a map, camera, and bright white new sneakers.

  2. I’m your Austin neighbor (away for summer) and have heard about the horrid weather. SO UNDERSTAND your post. Moments ago I wrote a post about what I packed for the whole summer. It might be helpful.

    The upshot is a couple of pairs of fine, fine shoes and:

    Black tee
    White tee
    Oatmeal tee
    White pants
    Kelly green tee
    Sky-blue pashmina
    Oatmeal thin sweater
    French blue ultra thin pullover
    Black thing that can be worn a number of ways:
    long skirt, short strapless dress, halter long top and other weird way

  3. P.S. I keep checking your site for a Blogher post. Curious to know about your experiences. Never been and want to her your perspective.

  4. Re summer clothing, I hear you. In the winter, jeans, jewelry and a cropped jacket are my uniform, but too hot for the summer. I don’t have enough of those flirty dresses that everyone and their mother is wearing these days. I love that look you posted–that is basically my winter look.

    What about cotton or jersey dresses that are a little more structured [less prone to expose one’s lady bits? Silk may be too hot for NYC in August. Stores have got to be putting this stuff on sale–recently I was shopping and see that stores are putting out bright woolens for fall. It is in the 90s in DC, so I don’t think so…[am also packing for a week trip to the Hamptons]

  5. What the heck does Tim Gunn know about being a mom with laundry to do, grocery stores, and book club meetings? All of his ideas are wonderful and serve a particular purpose, but aren’t practical at all for real, everyday living. Go buy some clothes that FIT, are comfortable, and don’t be constrained to a particular size. I think women who try to wear clothes that don’t fit because they are a “size XX” trap themselves into feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable, not to mention that kind of thinking severly cuts off their options. For example, I bought an amazing pair of mocha brown linen slacks yesterday that were 2 SIZES bigger than what I normally wear. Bonus, they were on sale and fit wonderfully. In my heart-of-hearts I know that sizes change from one label/designer to the next, and I know what my “balance zone” is regarding clothes. If it bothers me too much, then I cut off the label! The truth is, we as human beings, as women, were never meant stay the same as we go through life; wouldn’t that be boring?

    Get the basics: black, brown, white, then prints that coordinate. Cotton and draw-strings do work if they’re made with quality. Get some really cute ballet flats. Clunky, shabby-chic jewelry. And don’t be stuck to a label or designer!

    1. Maxi dresses are NOT forgiving – especially if you are pear shaped.

  6. how do you feel about leggings and tunics/dressed? usually a great way to hide some belly flab and to look glamorous without trying. I love this look – as its super chic. wish i could add some of those beautiful necklaces that your asia star up there is wearing. but that would require effort on my part. so tunics and leggings.

    1. supercute, but with kids one wrong bend over and everyone sees everything

  7. I know we dress a little differently to our American sisters here in Europe, but what about leggings? Leggings and a tunic/shift in jersey or cotton is a comfortable, chic look thats easy to wear, either with flats or heels, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be wearing it in New York.
    You appear to have a very preppy style, so these may be a little slouchy for you, but they are comfortable, modest and “now”

    ….and upon refelction – given that all these women are American, perhaps this is not such a European style after all!

  8. From the work-at-home mom of a two-year-old tomboy living in NYC:

    Stephanie, girl, it is hot right now! Sweltering, humid, clothes-soaking hot. What I am opting for is light jersey cotton dresses. Sometimes belted if I can stand it. But mostly not. Because they are cooler (temperature-wise) than any kind of short and top combo, because they are chicer (but not with flip flops – think flats or gladiator sandals, think metallics as neutrals – there is an amazing sale going on at Plaza Too on Hudson St. right now, by the by), because you can throw them in the wash, and they are forgiving, esp. with a nice empire waistline. For after-five smart-casual, I am doing something like a Calypso tunic top with wafer light white linen trousers and sky-high platforms. I think of it as sexy-soignee.

    Good luck! Feel good about yourself! And have a wonderful trip!


  9. I was at TJ Maxx yesterday and they have racks and racks of maxi-dresses for $25. I tried on 6 different styles (with the baby belly and all) and thought the Baileyblue brand was the best. No high-end fabrics, but what do you want for $25? They’re cut well and hang in a flattering way.

  10. Hi Stephanie! OK….this is an excellent post! I live UES (5th/75th)….and my response is more about shoes….I have been searching forever for the perfect summer shoe (no flip flops…no sneaks…) I am in heels all week…(and weekend evenings, of course…)….and would pay anything for the perfect summer shoe that looks cute…but that can last! The perfect shoe should be able to help one run after little ones…..or for a weekend in Italy! Three summers ago….don’t tell a soul….but I put my manolos down…and bought a cute pair of stacked rockports. I kid you not. If you or any readers can add to your quest for the perfect summer day outfit…..I would love to hear any ideas about the quest for the perfect summer day shoe!!! Please, ladies….no more jcrew flops!!!!! :)

  11. I find long cotton skirts – a variation of the broomstick skirt, but not as yecch – to be plentiful, inexpensive, and in a variety of great prints in the stores this summer. Very comfortable, and you can do anything in them, dressed up or dressed down. Oh yea, elastic waist. Add a tshirt, great belt and funky jewels. I think it’s a good summer look.

  12. When I’m feeling fat and none of my clothes fit, but I’m back on the wagon exercising and eating well, I think it is important to still feel good about how I look or I’ll get demotivated. So, since I hate to spend money on fat clothes, I head to Target to tide me over. Their Merona line is cut for those of us with hips and they have some really cute cardigans, linen pants, v-neck tees, maxi dresses, knit shifts. For little money, you can get a whole wardrobe till the clothes in the closet fit again and you feel like celebration shopping.

  13. Wendy is right-it is absolutely brutal in the NYC area right now. You need to get things that are light and comfy and FIT. I had a “come to Jesus” moment a few months ago. I went to Old Navy Plus (only on line) and purchased quite a few cute things. It was tough to deal with the larger sizes, but HOT DAMN! they fit and looked nice. Go forth and shop! And if you don’t need the plus size, there are plenty of options in regulars.

  14. Am LIVING in drawstring linen pants and fitted strappy tank tops this summer. With badass sandals, a cool necklace or earrings it goes everywhere. Actually found good ones at Victoria’s Secret (in a variety of lengths) — good luck!

  15. Get some khaki green linen pants from Theory (less wrinkly), a stack of gauzy cotton tanks (jersey as well as something cotton + embroidered), some gladiator sandals (black or dark brown, up to the ankle), and earrings, (neutral dangly at Urban Outfitters).

    If you want to wear the capris, wear them with a loose very embroidered cotton tunic.

    The perfect summer shoe is the gladiator sandal. When I want to look like a Parisian, I wear a black and white striped T with them. Makes me feel like drinking very tiny cups of coffee.

    Have an awesome time!

  16. Head over to Martin&Osa at the Domain and shop the summer sale – there are lots of cute summer looks there that don’t consist of t-shirts or silk dresses.

    I’m not a huge fan of the leggings/tunic combo because I’m only 5’4 but if you’re taller that would probably be a good option. It would be comfortable and let you easily haul the kids around NYC.

    If you’re tall enough for a maxi dress to not drag the floor, that can be a cute option. I’ve worn one with tight knit shorts underneath to keep my thighs from touching and that made it fine for all day.

    Also, a pair of tailored walking shorts (I wear my black ones to death) looks cute with tanks and long necklaces and sandals.

    There are lots of options right now, you’ll find something you like!

  17. I gave up shorts once I hit 32. I just don’t think they are flattering on anyone unless you are a model. In their place I stocked up on basic skirts, some from Nordy’s some from Target, plain linen ones and cotton ones. They serve the same purpose as shorts but are not as horrid looking. Throw on a cute tshirt or tank and a cardigan… and some earings. I’m no cover girl but it is working.

    ps the weather is miserable here so it might not be as bad as austin but it isn’t going to be a reprieve either. :(

  18. I got some white, organic cotton jeans from Gap recently (ugh @ Gap, but they were on sale for $15 so it works) which are wide-leg and loose-fit, and I’ve been loving them for my NY summer. They’re not really heavy like regular jeans, and the wide leg is flattering — even on me whose widest part (by far) is hips.

    You could also look for breezy linen pants, light khakis, etc?

    Anyway have a great trip!

  19. i’ve searched all summer for the perfect, casual, maxi dress….but why is it that they all have small bits of fabric to cover my tatas. WE ARE NOT ALL A SIZE 32B!

  20. I’m enjoying leggings and tunics or leggings and short dresses this summer. Comfortable and forgiving and stylish if you do it right and accessorize properly.

    The site is looking great, btw! Can’t wait to explore the changes you’ve made.

  21. If you have a couple of hours to yourself while in NY, i would definitely suggest heading to Century 21. Just remember only 6 items in the dressing room at once, so yeah…head to the dressing room every 6 items, lose what you don’t like, and head to the floor again.

    Oh and if anything appeals to you the slightest bit, try it on, they clearly don’t spend time trying to make the clothes look good on the hanger and seriously…what DOES look good on a hanger? so yeah…try it all on. It saves you “thinking” time. Trust.

    also as far as the website goes. Can you please make it so that when comments contain links and a reader clicks on them, the links open up in a new window?

    good luck with everything!

  22. Hit madewell on broadway for some shorts and tanks. Absolutely loove their stuff.

    1. Holy cow, I couldn’t love Madewell any more. Seriously! I just bought about a million of their v-neck tees, which are amazing and so comfy. I pair those with their slouchy, boyfriend jeans (which may not work for my 5’2″ frame, but who cares!). Cute and casual look for summer, and with sandals, it’s not super hot. I found a cute cotton/knit dress from Old Navy and bought it in a million colors, too. Short-sleeved, cinchy at the waist, throw on sandals. Good to go!

      Amen to Madewell. Love it.

  23. I always dread summer, because, even though I’m thin, I have very muscular legs and I HATE them. I’ve stocked up on light-weight, wide-leg pants, in a variety of colors and patterns (seersucker, khaki, black, off-white), and pair them with layered tanks and a long “statement” necklace (but nothing too chunky). Throw on a pair of embellished flat sandals and I’m done. It’s my summer uniform. The pants keep me much cooler than jeans, but still cover up my legs (and look generally more presentable/30-year-old-appropriate than shorts) and I can add a light cotton blazer to deal with chilly air-conditioned places.

  24. bo’em sandals are cute, comfortable, true to size, and well made. whenever i wear them, women (i live on the ues as well) stop me all the time. i have the bronze “june” and am ordering the white leather “capri”. look great with skirts, jeans, dresses, shorts….

    a little costly but worth it!

  25. Angie over at has some really good “Mom on the Go” wardrobes worked up. My weekend mom look is pretty much the denim pencil skirt + sleeveless shirt + cropped cardi combo, but she has combos with knee-length shorts and dresses as well. My personal experience is that I like wearing casual skirts better if I’m wearing bike shorts underneath, both for modesty and chub rub, and for this I like 100% cotton, not Spanx (though I love Spanx on work days.) Yes, I would wear this to the Bronx Zoo. I’ve worn it to the Oakland Zoo too many times to count.

  26. I forgot to say congratulations on losing those first eight pounds. Your shorts will start to notice very soon.

  27. Whoa. It looks fabulous up in here. Nice.

    You and Jen behave yourselves in the Hamptons. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  28. Tim Gunn can bite me. Flat front khakis from Jcrew or Eddie Bauer, (cropped or full length) and a few varieties of good quality tee’s in black, white, or navy. If you take a fitted navy sweater, or light trench for rain, and some cute sandals or espadrilles, you’re in business. I travel a lot, and keeping the colors nuetral and mixable gives me more options.

    I think the biggest mistake we moms make is to think that “bigger is better”. Flowy dresses and linen drawstrings just make us look frumpier. Get a bigger size if you have to, but go for the fitted look vs. muu-muu’s. Also- tiny little flowery prints make us look frumpy too. Have a great time, Stephanie!

  29. Ugh! Where did my comment go! In reply to Madewell, love them, love all their clothes. Per my other comment–v-neck tees, boyfriend jeans (which I’m not sure work for my 5’2″ frame, but whatevs), cute cotton dresses from Old Navy, love, love, love what the Gap is throwing out at me lately. Lightweight sweaters, wide-leg pants, all great for summer. It is hot here in NYC, but not broiling (yet), so you can still get away with looking semi-put together. Give it a few more weeks until every woman’s hair is piled on top of her head and we all don’t give a damn anymore.

  30. Hello everyone,

    I never liked lined trousers but this year I am going mad for them. Comfy and light, etc. I love some tops from Gap as they use a very light material. Whenever I fly home in the summer, I take tons of dresses with me that are only tight (but still comfy) in the book area and then fabric just falls straight down…great way to hide flabby bits. H&M have some nice ones. Else I always wear Ballerinas but when I can’t be bothered anymore I opt for flip-flop style sandals.

    Oh and my friend is wearing cut off tights under her skirts and dresses.

  31. I live in cotton knit items from Land’s End. I highly recommend them and they are easy to wash & go AND pack well. I live in Dallas where it’s been enormously HOT for most of the summer, so get you to and get some summer casual knits.

  32. Ok Stephanie, I just watched your little fashion show video and I cannot believe you are stressing out over your shape!! You look amazing!!! If I was your size I would be wearing short skirts with cotton t’s, black capris with a little denim shirt, and dare I say walking shorts???
    Sweetie, shake what your mama gave you!!!

  33. OH MY GOODNESS! Stephanie, my daughter is going to NYC the same time you’ll be there, she’s 20, and this is her first trip away, alone! Well, not alone, with her boyfriend, but alone-not with our family! So, reading your post, and now thinking, I’ve got to help her pack, she isn’t ready for New York!

  34. Was just in NYC WITHOUT my own 2 1/2 year old twins. (THANK GOD.) Read your tweet and I recommend getting a Metro Card and taking the bus. The bus has a ramp that you can roll your stroller onto. On the subway, you have to take the stroller down lots and lots and lots of stairs. Bus is cheap, and you get can get free transfers if you get on again within two hours. I always wanted to live in NYC but now am glad… what a pain to have kids in the city!

  35. Agreed, Carolina. Tunics have saved my life this summer! Also, fitted T-shirts with scoop necks, cute printed skirts and ballet flats. And Jen Lancaster has the right idea – khaki shorts/capris (suck it, Tim) with Lacoste always fits.

  36. Geez…..what the hell is wrong with capris? Can someone honestly tell me? If you are not 17 anymore and can’t wear the short shorts, what is wrong with some stylish cute capris with a cute sandal?? Not the mom jean type but something cute and light and summery.

  37. How about a knee length a-line denim skirt – Martin and Osa has a cute one that is reasonably priced. With a cute tank and short sleeve jacket or something like that you will be good to go even in the heat. And as long as it isn’t silk, you can go to the zoo, sweat, have ice ream spilled on you and you can just wash it off. add a long necklace and cute flats and you will look very put together, even though everything is really easy to wear.

    to EZ-Friendzy – the problem with most capris is they hit at the most unflattering place – where the calf is widest, it’s just not a good look for most people. It’s best to go with solid colored, knee length, flat front bermuda shorts that fit properly, they are much more flattering.

    1. I don’t know, most of mine fall just a little below the knee, but I do love the skirts too, they are so much more comfortable.

  38. hi.
    cute video. the first two tops look like maternity tops (i know that’s the style now) but with your pretty lady-shape why do yo want to hide it with those tent dresses? blech.

    that ‘military’ dress as you call it looks so nice on you…with the belt especially stylish and classy.

    you have thin long legs and proper curvy lady-hips. show it off ho! come on now…otherwise what are they for!

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