Thirties’ Two Cents: A new adventure into blogging
Jen blogs at Thirties’ Two Cents and uses it as a creative outlet, challenging herself to keep her closet interesting. Never a fashion maven growing up, Jen discovered other fashion blogs and was instantly inspired to start her own to bring her lessons learned to the blogsphere. Meet Jen …
Where I’m based: A high rise in downtown Chicago. My readers frequently see boring views of my balcony (even though I have a pretty decent view behind the camera, especially at night—but the angle doesn’t work for my “snazzy” outfit photos).
How long I’ve been blogging: Four months. I have learned so much in that time, but I’m definitely still a newbie.
Blog/business basics: I write the blog to share a bit about myriad aspects of the life of an urban corporate mom. I share about my style (at home and in the office), simple recipes I prepare, occasionally a few of my favorite Chicago start-ups and restaurants, and, periodically, my one year old son has a cameo. I’m enjoying dabbling in lots of different things, so the array of topics reflect my personality.
What do you enjoy most about blogging? I love always learning and exploring new things and getting to know a whole new part of the Internet into which I’ve never ventured. I truly enjoy hunting down instructions and teaching myself how to take each next step to grow my blog. Each victory or accomplishment puts a smile on my face and makes my day, always leaving me thinking “how cool is that? I never thought I’d know how to do that!”
Other blogs I love: I read several, probably too many, but a few of my favorites are: Merrick at Merrick’s Art, Janssen at Everyday Reading (Merrick and Janssen are sisters), Mary at The Classy Cubicle, Christy at Sunny With A Side of and Independent Fashion Bloggers.
Guilty pleasure: Chocolate — I indulge way too often.
Last thing I bought: A new domain name for my blog! Ok, that doesn’t count (but seriously, that was a pretty exciting little step in continuing to build my blog). On a more fun note, last weekend, I visited The Salvation Army to peruse the racks for some ‘diamond in the rough’ dresses, skirts or blazers. I brought home three dresses, four blazers and a skirt for less than $100. When thrifting, I try to focus on higher quality brands, and the collection of items I purchased last weekend came from Ann Taylor, Tahari, The Limited, Gap and Banana Republic.
Fav stores: Aside from thrift stores, I like Nordstrom Rack, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Target. Since I spend many of my days dressed for the office, a large portion of my closet houses business casual attire.
What’s been your favorite stop on your style journey? Definitely this blog! Documenting my style each day teaches me so much about what fits my body type well and what styles I should avoid, what colors better suit me, and thereby, which items in my closet are gems and which have been hoarding valuable space for far too long. Every time I donate a box of items and make physical space in my life, I feel I create emotional space in my life as well. It sounds silly, but it’s true. And this blog has played a large role in helping me to continually curate my closet leaving it filled only with things I love. (I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer every day.)
Does living in Chicago influence your style? Absolutely, for two reasons. First, the weather. The crazy, all over the place weather that varies dramatically throughout the year, and even from day to day, requires a diverse wardrobe and a creative outlook on each item in my closet to find new ways to wear it no matter the season. Checking the weather is the first step in putting together an outfit each day, because the weather changes quickly and is fairly unpredictable from day to day. Additionally, tights and blazers transition so many skirts and dresses from summer right through fall and into winter. I own tights in just about every dark, bold color you can imagine (I don’t wear too many bright colored tights because they do not fit my corporate dress code), and I wear them almost every day from October through April (at least). My blazer collection continues to grow as I add new styles and colors, because they suit my corporate needs while providing layering options to be flexible with changing weather.
Second, I live and work right downtown so I walk everywhere! My entire outfit from shoes to bags to outerwear must be suitable for commuting on foot and stand up to rain, snow, wind, and even the occasional summer heat wave. When moving here four years ago, I invested in a couple of great North Face winter coats, a pair of killer tall North Face boots, and a pair of great Hunter boots, all of which I still have today and take great care of me in heavy rain and the ‘arctic tundra’ Chicago winters. I also keep the little bags that cover new designer shoes or purses and use them each day to carry my heels to work. My commute is about three miles round trip so I certainly need more appropriate “walking shoes” to wear to and from the office. Like most of my fellow urbanites, I wear Toms, sandals, winter boots, or whatever the day’s weather calls for to stay comfortable, and then slip on my heels upon arriving at my desk. Ultimately, each day’s outfit must be functional and suitable for a solid walk in the day’s conditions.
What’s the worst outfit you’ve ever sported? Oh man, can I plead the fifth? Honestly, I did not care too much about what I wore up until a few years ago. So I bet I threw together quite a few sad ensembles over the years. I recall one day, many years ago, wearing an outfit to work that clashed so terribly, I vowed for many months after that to wear only black with pops of color. At the time, I did not own a full length mirror (which was the case for many years) and did not realize until seeing myself in the office bathroom mirror how terrible my outfit looked. I’ve recovered since then, as you can see in my blog posts, but fashion and trends certainly don’t come naturally to me so I keep my style pretty conservative and safe (to avoid any major misfires).
What have you learned since starting your blog? You can learn how to do anything on the Internet, especially with a bit of help from fellow bloggers. Before starting this blog, the thought of creating websites and discussing HTML made my head spin. I remain far from an expert, but it’s been incredible to realize how much I could learn in such a short time and how much information is available on the Internet. Any time I want to try to create something new on my blog, I can perform a quick search and find detailed, easy-to-follow instructions. And fellow bloggers provide so much great advice whether it be through posts or a quick email. On a couple of occasions, I have emailed other bloggers whose work I admire and have received kind and very helpful responses or advice. Maintaining a blog can be challenging, time consuming and hard work, but it has been so rewarding and worth all the energy dedicated to it.