Marriage & Monograms

I love a well placed monogram, in fact there are very few monograms I don’t like. I think initials are a simple and elegant way to personalize everyday items and I’m completely on board with it. Let’s first talk about the proper way to monogram:

via the knot

A single monogram is pretty straight forward. My married name is Robin Ashley Crabb, so if the initials are all the same size straight across, I do RAC. If the middle initial is bigger, it would be RCA.

via the knot

When you’re married, you can do a “couple’s monogram”, where the woman’s initial goes first – last name in the middle – and man’s initial last. I have a couple’s monogram on various things, including on a decal above my bed.

Before marriage, I monogrammed way too many things that soon became my “old monogram”. My maiden name is VanNieulande, so RVA was on so many things! Sidenote: my original IG name was @vannieulande, and when I got married I failed to get a version of my new name, so hence my IG name @robinvancrabb. I had a hard time changing my last name when I got married. My maiden name felt like a big part of my identity and it took me awhile to slowly ease into my new last name. My instagram handle is a fond reminder that I’m still a VanNieulande. 🙂

I kept most of my old monogrammed items (minus things that I no longer use), and think they are kind of a fun way to remember that time of my life. I still have a few things that have RVA on them and wear/use them proudly. Since getting married, I started monogramming things with my new initials or a couple’s monogram. I think it’s important to do what feels right when it comes to changing your last name and monogram. It took me awhile to fully go by my married name, but I am now embracing my new last name while keeping my old identity.

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Why I’m Wearing Headbands Again

No headband blog post can be written without mentioning the queen of headband style – the character of Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. When it was airing in the 2008ish era, headbands were everywhere and I wore them all the time. I don’t know why exactly I stopped. I know stores like J. Crew stopped carrying as many of them, and people weren’t wearing them as much as they were. I started to style my hair a little differently and didn’t feel like I needed a headband. I usually just wear it down and do a severe part to the side, and when I did try to wear a headband it gave me a headache after awhile. I ended up taking off the headband anyway so I started to forgo them altogether.

I always admired the style through the years, and recently was inspired to start wearing them again. I heard this style (shown above) from Nordstrom was known for no “headband headaches”. I like that it was a slimmer style vs. the super thick Blair Waldorf ones, and the tortoise shell look would go with almost everything in my fall/winter wardrobe. So I gave it a try and I’m in love!

abby/sydney/carly

These ladies above wear headbands and I think it looks so polished and preppy. I used to think it was a younger style, but I really believe any age can wear a headband. Plus, they are great for second day hair and taming those strays. After having my daughter, I have TONS of the infamous baby hairs around my face that often comes with postpartum side effects. My headband has kept my hair out of my face and helped me style my hair during this period of waiting for them to grow out.

Do you wear headbands? Would you try wearing them again?

The Wool Fedora

wool fedora in navy – gap

Wool fedoras are certainly trendy as you can find them anywhere (even Forever21), and while I usually try to avoid trends, there is something classic about this one. It’s a very Americana western style that I think paired with the right clothes can be very Ralph Lauren – esque. As a fan of hats, I wanted to try this style and am happy I did.

My inspiration for the style originally comes from my dear friend, Carolyn. Carolyn moved from Michigan to Australia a few years back for med school, and she has the best life. She hikes, travels, swims in waterfalls, all while enduring the everyday stresses of med school. Her and her Australian boyfriend (who is silver medal Olympic rower!) wear these Akubra hats that are very authentic to the Australian outback lifestyle. She looks effortlessly iconic every time she wears one, and I adore her style! The style of her hat is slightly different from what I’m wearing, as mine is a wool fedora and hers is the real deal Akubra Australian version.

In order to stay true to my classic/preppy style, and not super bohemian, I pair the hair with more of a preppy-western style like how Ralph Lauren does it (see previous blog post 🙂  ). I like it with short booties, chambray, leather details, and other pieces that are more Americana by nature. The hat needs to compliment what I’m already wearing, not be the centerpiece. Time will tell, but I truly believe this could be a piece I wear for years to come.

Have you ever worn a wool fedora? Would you try this trend?

L.L. Bean Fit Guide

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of L.L. Bean. I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with the company many times, and have come to know and love the products they offer. These items are all what I consider to be staples I’ll own long-term both in style and quality. I’ve never been unhappy with a single thing from L.L. Bean and continue to buy from them for both myself and my family members (my dad is a big fan as well!).

I get a lot of questions regarding the fit of some of their main pieces that they offer year after year. Not having a store nearby to try on their clothes can make ordering tricky, but their reviews help a ton. I’m fortunate to have a store 20 minutes from my house that opened in 2016, but it wasn’t always that way. Here are some of my observations from wearing L.L. Bean for many years.

Fisherman Sweater

I own the iconic fisherman sweater in the original style (cream) and the washed version (blue). It’s the same exact sweater, but the fabric was dyed different. Before purchasing, I was told to size up two sizes. Since I’m normally an extra small, I opted for the medium. The washed blue version I have in a size small. It may be hard to tell in photos, but the medium is definitely more of a relaxed fit that’s best for layering. Many people like fisherman style sweaters to appear more oversized, and I feel like the medium does the trick without being too baggy. The small is the perfect sized sweater for me! I like it slightly more fitted because I often wear this sweater without layering. I enjoy having two of the sweater in two different sizes, but if I were to buy one more I’d get a small.

Final consensus: Size up one size.

 

Wicked Good Moccasins

The Wicked Good Moccasin is broken up into a few styles, the two above being the most popular. The top is technically the Wicked Good CAMP Moccasin while the bottom is the Wicked Good Moccasin. Same slipper, the difference being the shearling placement on the sides. I owned the top style for 3 straight years before I retired them, but I loved them so much I knew I needed a replacement. I love the look of both, but wanted to try the bottom one with more shearling. When I got them, my heel slipped out of them when I walked. I go up and down stairs a lot holding a baby so this was a problem for me.

I’m a 7.5 and I’ve always gotten an 8 in these slippers so I took them to the store to see if it was the style or the size that was giving me issues. The salesperson told me “slipping out” of the back of the bottom style is common no matter the size. I exchanged them for the top pair and ended up getting a size 7 instead. You truly break these slippers in as they form to your foot so I am glad I sized down!

Final Consensus: Top style worked better for me, and half sizes should size down!

 

Outwear

The Ultralight Down Jacket (left) is super warm, and I reach for it constantly from November to March. The Quilted Riding Jacket is also a favorite of mine that’s perfect for cooler temperatures. My experience with both L.L. Bean women’s outwear is that they are true to size. Most people size up, but I got my regular extra small and found plenty of room for layering and still being able to zip and button up the coat.

Final Consensus: L.L. Bean outwear is true to size!

 

Sweater Fleece

I love L.L. Bean’s Sweater Fleeces! They are the perfect pullover for cool summer evenings or chilly days throughout the year. I love the weight and texture to them and find myself reaching for them a lot. I own one in the “sienna clay” color in a size small, and the one above in a size extra small. I like both sizes, but prefer them to be slightly oversized. This isn’t an item you want super fitted anyway since you’ll find yourself layering it!

Final Consensus: Size up for comfort.

Bean Boots

There are two questions here – what shoe size to get and what height to get?

Shoe sizing for Bean Boots is to size down, and recommends a whole size and half for half sizes like myself. I own several pairs (I’m embarrassed to say just how many), and all but one are size 7 boots when my regular size is 7.5. I’ve always found them comfortable, plenty of room for thick socks, and even the only shoe I could wear with my swollen pregnant feet at the end of my pregnancy. When the red pair went on sale, the store only had a size 6 which is what they reccomend for a size 7.5 such as myself. The size 6 felt great! I haven’t worn them with super thick socks yet, but they felt more like how my regular shoes feel and less like a boot. I’d still order just a half size down to stay on the safe side, but if you live in a mild area and aren’t wearing thick socks I’d definitely go one and a half sizes down!

What height to get – the 6″ or 8″? I own two pairs of the 8″ Bean Boots and have always loved that height. I tuck my pants into them easily, they feel more like a boot, and they’re super photogenic. I recently got the red pair of the 6″ Bean Boots and I don’t mind the height but it doesn’t feel as natural to me. It’s like wearing high top sneakers or short booties. I don’t mind them at all and enjoy wearing them, but I would only recommend them if you plan on wearing your pants over them vs tucking them in. Some people factor their height into this as well – a shorter person may look more proportionate in a 6″, a taller person in an 8″. I don’t put much stake into this and believe it has more to do with how you wear the boot in your everyday life.

Final consensus: Unless you live in a mild climate, size one half size down. I prefer 8″ in style over the 6″.

 

Most Underrated Item

To end this post on L.L. Bean, I want to share what I believe is the most underrated item they sell: The Gumshoe! I wear these things ALL the time. I will slip them on if I’m running outside real quick, or they’re perfect for running errands on a rainy day. While most people love the regular Bean Boot, I don’t see too many sporting the gumshoe. They’re quite practical for everyday life!

Please feel free to leave questions in the comments if you have any more!

Five Fall Staples You’ll Own for Decades

As I turn 28 last week, I can actually look back at some pieces that I bought when I was 18 and still wear today. Some are shirts, sweaters, a pair of shoes, etc., but I’m sort of proud in a way that I made a good choice back then in both style and quality and can still enjoy these items over the years.

Here are five fall staples you can own for decades because they won’t go out of style and with a little care should last.

1. Quilted Riding Jackets are the first item that comes to mind. I have owned one since 2009 and I still wear it today – in fact I wore it last week. I’ve added a few more colors to my collection, but they are something I have already been wearing for 9 years and am confident I’ll wear for years to come.

 

2. Riding Boots are another item I’ve owned for almost a decade, as I remember receiving them years ago from my mom for my birthday. They are real leather, and with a little bit of TLC each year, they have held up wonderful. Leather riding boots will never ever go out of style. They’ve been around for centuries and aren’t going anywhere. Overall, they’re a sound investment.

3. Your favorite jeans are a personal decision, but I’ve always found it cool to find someone who has an old pair of jeans that still fit. I have one pair of Ralph Lauren ones that are my go-to, but I think Levi’s would wear well over time. I would go for a slim fit medium wash with no holes for a style that will age well over time.

4. A Neutral Watch is a must in the accessories department. Whether it’s a leather or a metal strap, I always think neutral tones are a necessity for at least one watch in your closet. It’s something you’ll wear year after year and your children will want to wear someday. Again, go as classic as possible, nothing too large or small.

5. Cream Fisherman Sweaters are another timeless piece in any wardrobe. I like them slightly oversized and highly recommend the one from L.L. Bean. I have had it for a few years, and I’m always impressed with the quality. This is an item I’d love to pass down someday!

 

Do you own any of these staples? What would you consider a fall staple you’ll own for decades?

Taking Your Closet From Summer to Fall

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know I like to talk about how to transition your wardrobe from season to season. That in-between time when it’s not quite the next season but you’re sick of the current one is by far the hardest time to know how to dress. While summer doesn’t technically end until mid September, you’ll see half the population in flip flops and tanks, and the other half in scarves and boots. Let’s talk about how to transition flawlessly into the next season.

Consider the weather and the time of year. This is my number one rule for dressing in between seasons. If it’s still really hot out but past Labor day, I’m forgoing my Lilly Pulitzer dress in favor of a navy shift. If it’s unusually cold, I’ll wear a sweater with pants, but I keep my pants white and my sweater more neutral. It’s a skill learned over time that becomes easier to master when you’re trying to dress both for the weather and the time of year.

Adding in items slowly is key to making this process smooth vs. shorts and a tank one day and pants and a sweater the next. I store my off season clothes, so this time of year I’ll go through them and pull out a few things I can see myself incorporating into my summer wardrobe, and then I’ll put things away I know I’m not going to wear again.

Speaking of adding in items, I used to change over my wardrobe from summer to fall in one day. It was a big task that was time consuming since it meant making a million mini decisions, taking things off hangers, and taking the time to properly store the off season clothes. Now I break it up into smaller tasks and I have an order I tend to follow. I start first with shirts and sweaters since they’re easiest to tie into my summer wardrobe (think olive green sweater with white pants). Next I do handbags and accessories since they’re smaller details that also transiton nicely. After that I usually add in pants one day, skirts another, dresses after that, and then I finish with outwear and footwear since coats and boots are the last thing I’m wearing when the weather turns cool.

Shifting your color palette is an easy change to seamlessly take your outfit from summer to fall. I’m tending not to wear bright colors and leaning more towards deeper, neutral tones. I find this approach makes it simple to build an outfit around when you take out things that scream summer colors. I still wear bright colors but they look different – I have a thick yellow cable knit sweater that appropriate for fall, whereas my bright pink cardigan isn’t going to be worn until next spring.

Easy layers make a smart outfit choice. Much like the rest of the country, Michigan can have very unpredictable weather throughout the day. Layers are important to making sure you’re dressed comfortable and appropriately. I especially like layers that are easy to remove throughout the day, such as a light zip up jacket, long sleeve cardigan, quilted vest, or silk scarf.

 

What are some tips you have for transitioning from one season to the next?

September Five

Here are five items and looks I’m loving for September.

  1. Larger, leather details are having a moment right now but also fit great into a classic style wardrobe. I love the look of the thicker leather belt in the photo above as it elevates the dress to be high style and understated. I own a camel toned leather belt similar to the one above and enjoy adding it to my outfits. I also love to carry a leather satchel as well as it goes with almost everything I own.
  2. Wool fedoras are everywhere this season, but my interest has been peaked by my friend Carolyn who moved to Australia and has been sporting the original Akubra hats. She looks amazing in them and has inspired me to try the style as well. Look for a post in the future about them!
  3. Chambray is the workhorse of any wardrobe as it creates a nice base to let other items shine. The color and texture of the fabric is what sets it apart in your closet. I’ve been choosing chambray button down shirts over my normal blue ones o compliment the autumnal colors I’m pairing it with.
  4. Gingham/large check lives in my closet year round but I am seeing it quite a bit in many brand’s fall collections. The L.L. Bean one above looks great with a thick cardigan over it, and I’d also wear a vest over it for a easy fall outfit.
  5. Tortoiseshell accessories are a neutral that’s meant for the cooler weather. This time of year I break out all my tortoise accessories, like my favorite fossil watch. While some materials can often look cheap, tortoise is hard to mess up. It looks authentically high end wherever you style it.

What styles are you eyeing this fall?

West by Southwest

Western meets preppy? It’s hard to imagine the two styles colliding, but Ralph Lauren did the impossible in 1981 when he came out with his Santa Fe collection. Although western and preppy seem distant at times, they’re closer in style than one may think. Both are based on the all American style unique to the roots of our nations culture.

I have always admired the blend of western and preppy styles, and own a few items that lend towards that such as my large belt buckles, brightly woven sweaters, medium wash denim, and aged leather boots. I especially became inspired a few years ago when I visited my best friend Ravae’s family ranch in Wyoming, and then again two years ago when Joe and I visited Arizona. The western/southwestern style has a rich history of hard work and ingenuity that comes alive in the patterns and textures. My favorite item in my outfit above are my earrings –  a vintage Native American style pair that belong to my mom.

Ralph Lauren is featuring their southwest style again this year in their Polo Ralph Lauren Collection. I highlighted a few pieces below and also recommend the article they wrote in their magazine about Ralph Lauren’s 1981 groundbreaking Santa Fe collection.

Do you own any western inspired pieces? How do you blend them in a classic wardrobe?

 

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something

I’ll be the first one to admit there has been more than one occasion where I’ve made a mistake shopping. Maybe I bought something I didn’t really need or wasn’t great quality, and I get rid of it the next season with the disappointment that I didn’t make a wise decision. The tips in this post come partly from things I’ve read and the experience of finding out the hard way, but I’m still need to remind myself of this advice when I’m shopping. It’s very easy to use shopping as a fun hobby/activity and cashing in on those good endorphins you get when you make a purchase (whether online or in real life), but in the long run it can be hard to maintain. It’s called retail therapy for a reason – shopping can make you feel good, however, it can create a closet of chaos and confusion. The more random things you buy, the more you’ll say “I have nothing to wear”.

source: time magazine

I’m trying to get in the habit of asking myself these three questions before buying any clothing item:

  1. Can I picture it 3 different ways? My goal is to create a cohesive wardrobe where I can get multiple uses out of each item. This means before I buy something I try to image three different outfits I can wear it with. This helps me avoid buying something too crazy that I won’t find myself wearing because it’s hard to wear. If I can visualize it being apart of my wardrobe then it has value to it. There are some exceptions to this rule – I have a pair of red cowboy boots I only wear once or twice a year but they’re a fun item I look forward to wearing when the occasion arises.
  2. Do I love it? Or do I love the price? Ouch, this one hits home for me. Too often I’ve found myself buying something because I kind of liked the item, but loved the price even more. There is something so fun about getting a deal that we often don’t use our best judgement in whether this item checks other boxes. My first thought goes to a blazer that wasn’t quite my size but bought it because it was a good price. It sat in my closet rarely worn because it didn’t fit correctly until I donated it.  Ask yourself if you really love something before you buy it, or do you need to save up for the best version of the item? (Example: Do I get the cream sweater at Old Navy for half off, or do I save up for the L.L. Bean version that I’ll wear for years?)
  3. Does it fulfill a purpose in my closet or do I have something similar? If you’re anything like me, you probably have way too many of a certain item in your closet – for me it’s striped shirts and blue oxford cloth button downs. Ask yourself if the item you’re eyeing actually will fill a “hole” in your closet, meaning it will serve a purpose to help you wear your other items more practically. Maybe you have a lot of boots, but you don’t have the right pants to wear with them. Investing in a pair of pants that tuck into boots nicely will serve a purpose more than just buying another pair of boots. I fall into the trap of buying similar items to ones I already own, so I’m trying to be more strategic with my future purchases to get the most out of my wardrobe.

 

Practical advice for shopping:

When I’m in a store, I will pick up items as I walk around that I would consider purchasing. After either trying them on, or simply making my way around the store, I take a second look and them and decide if I really love them. This has always given me that joy of shopping “love at first sight” and then I can do a practical run through after I’ve seen everything in the store. More often than not, I leave empty handed or with one item.

It’s also wise to be discerning about who you shop with. Do you have something whose judgement you trust? Or do they love and support everything you pick up no matter what? I find my mom is my best shopping partner because I can trust her to tell me the truth about whether or not I should purchase something.

If I’m online, I will keep items in my cart and leave the website. If I’m still thinking about them the next day, then something tells me I should take a second look. More often than not, I forget all about it!

Do you have any practical advice for shopping? What are some ways your stop yourself from over spending or buying things you don’t need?

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