Nordstrom’s Clearance Sale starts today and goes through September 7. I spotted this cute Zella half-zip for $40 (from $68) and my favorite pair of Zella leggings—the space dye print—for $43 (from $58). See all the Zella markdowns here

What I’ve Read:
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas - Daniel Kelly is a talented swimmer who hopes one day to win Olympic gold. He receives a swimming scholarship to an elite boys school and attempts to shrug off his working class upbringing and prove he is The Best. The Fastest. His competitive drive is all-consuming and his intense anger at any slight—perceived or real—starts to create big problems for him in the pool, in class and at home. The story is good, but exhausting. Tsiolkas’ free-wheeling chronological narrative, taking huge leaps in time and space, is not my favorite. Kelly is a flawed protagonist—almost too flawed. I like the honesty of creating a really unlikable character, but it’s hard to cheer for him, whether he’s swimming or screaming or thinking. The strength of the main plot could have benefited from this being a trimmer, more cohesive book. Tsiolkas tried to tackle too many themes and characters, and that, along with the choppy narrative structure, made the book more tiring than thought-provoking. I received this book free in exchange for a review.
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead - This is a great example of where a back-and-forth chronological structure can really work in a book’s favor. Astonish Me is about Joan—an American ballerina—who helps a Soviet ballet star defect to the US. The Soviet dancer, Arslan Rusakov, remains a constant fixture in Joan’s life even after the years pass and she marries and has a child with another man. This book—about ballet, love, marriage, friendships—is a treat to read. The chronological structure I mentioned above allows Shipstead to continue revealing crucial back story and context as the novel progresses. Most important: This doesn’t feel like a cheap maneuver to keep the drama high. I really enjoyed this one. 
The Loyal Lieutenant by Georgie Hincapie - You look at the cover of this book and you think, “Great! We can finally hear Hincapie’s side.” That’s the book I wanted to read. I always loved watching him ride. His long, celebrated career was exciting and interesting. This book is not. Once I cracked the cover, I started to quickly figure out the more juicy parts of his story by what he didn’t include. If you don’t sniff out the same thing right away, you certainly will when you open to the sparse and carefully curated picture section in the middle of the book. Hincapie wants to write the “let’s play down the doping and Lance Armstrong association” game here by talking about everything else instead. When he does mention the reason most people will pick up the book (he put Armstrong on the cover, come on!), it either comes off heavily edited or is a rehashing of what we already know. Let me put it this way: I would have read this book even without all the doping scandal revelations of the past few years. And, yes—I know there are only a few ways you can say, “That climb was fucking hard and I was pedaling as fast as I could.” But George. GEORGE. First: The ghost-writing sucked. The voice doesn’t feel authentic and there is flowery, splashy prose to back that up. Second, he eagerly speeds through the US Postal and the Tour de France years to get back to his more singular accomplishments in the classics. Understandable, okay, but annoying for the reader. He didn’t have to expunge one for the other. If you’re going to tell your story, tell the whole thing. Which leads me to my third issue: He really wants to lift the doper mantle right off his shoulders. He tries several tactics to make this happen. He downplays it. He talks about his naturally high hematocrit level which limited the amount of dope he could do. (This is fair, but reads like a “I did it but not as bad as that other guy” whine.) He talks about when made the decision to ride clean in the late 2000’s. He talks about this a lot. What he doesn’t talk about is anything that could potentially tarnish the good guy reputation that he hopes to preserve. The funny thing is that the more he pleads his case, the more he tries to strategically skip from Tour to Tour in order to move on to other things, the more I began to believe that he was instead an integral, upper level cog in the US Postal doping machine.
Have you read any of these?

What I’ve Read:

  • Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas - Daniel Kelly is a talented swimmer who hopes one day to win Olympic gold. He receives a swimming scholarship to an elite boys school and attempts to shrug off his working class upbringing and prove he is The Best. The Fastest. His competitive drive is all-consuming and his intense anger at any slight—perceived or real—starts to create big problems for him in the pool, in class and at home. The story is good, but exhausting. Tsiolkas’ free-wheeling chronological narrative, taking huge leaps in time and space, is not my favorite. Kelly is a flawed protagonist—almost too flawed. I like the honesty of creating a really unlikable character, but it’s hard to cheer for him, whether he’s swimming or screaming or thinking. The strength of the main plot could have benefited from this being a trimmer, more cohesive book. Tsiolkas tried to tackle too many themes and characters, and that, along with the choppy narrative structure, made the book more tiring than thought-provoking. I received this book free in exchange for a review.
  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead - This is a great example of where a back-and-forth chronological structure can really work in a book’s favor. Astonish Me is about Joan—an American ballerina—who helps a Soviet ballet star defect to the US. The Soviet dancer, Arslan Rusakov, remains a constant fixture in Joan’s life even after the years pass and she marries and has a child with another man. This book—about ballet, love, marriage, friendships—is a treat to read. The chronological structure I mentioned above allows Shipstead to continue revealing crucial back story and context as the novel progresses. Most important: This doesn’t feel like a cheap maneuver to keep the drama high. I really enjoyed this one. 
  • The Loyal Lieutenant by Georgie Hincapie - You look at the cover of this book and you think, “Great! We can finally hear Hincapie’s side.” That’s the book I wanted to read. I always loved watching him ride. His long, celebrated career was exciting and interesting. This book is not. Once I cracked the cover, I started to quickly figure out the more juicy parts of his story by what he didn’t include. If you don’t sniff out the same thing right away, you certainly will when you open to the sparse and carefully curated picture section in the middle of the book. Hincapie wants to write the “let’s play down the doping and Lance Armstrong association” game here by talking about everything else instead. When he does mention the reason most people will pick up the book (he put Armstrong on the cover, come on!), it either comes off heavily edited or is a rehashing of what we already know. Let me put it this way: I would have read this book even without all the doping scandal revelations of the past few years. And, yes—I know there are only a few ways you can say, “That climb was fucking hard and I was pedaling as fast as I could.” But George. GEORGE. First: The ghost-writing sucked. The voice doesn’t feel authentic and there is flowery, splashy prose to back that up. Second, he eagerly speeds through the US Postal and the Tour de France years to get back to his more singular accomplishments in the classics. Understandable, okay, but annoying for the reader. He didn’t have to expunge one for the other. If you’re going to tell your story, tell the whole thing. Which leads me to my third issue: He really wants to lift the doper mantle right off his shoulders. He tries several tactics to make this happen. He downplays it. He talks about his naturally high hematocrit level which limited the amount of dope he could do. (This is fair, but reads like a “I did it but not as bad as that other guy” whine.) He talks about when made the decision to ride clean in the late 2000’s. He talks about this a lot. What he doesn’t talk about is anything that could potentially tarnish the good guy reputation that he hopes to preserve. The funny thing is that the more he pleads his case, the more he tries to strategically skip from Tour to Tour in order to move on to other things, the more I began to believe that he was instead an integral, upper level cog in the US Postal doping machine.

Have you read any of these?

Fall Picks Under $60

I love Emerson Fry’s fall/winter collections each year…

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…but the only problem is that they are crazy expensy. 

Here are some similar items from Forever 21. (And they’re all under $60!)

  1. Heathered Open-Front Cardigan, $24.80
  2. Pointed Slingback Flats, $22.80
  3. Zippered Faux Leather Tote, $24.80
  4. Heathered Knit Hoodie, $17.80
  5. Classic Woven Trousers, $17.80
  6. Striped Knit Top, $13.80
  7. Collarless Textured Knit Coat, $52.90
  8. Distressed Skinny Jeans, $19.80
  9. Textured Knit Varsity Sweater, $24.90
  10. Cable Knit Sweater, $19.80
  11. Paneled Scuba Knit Pants, $22.80
  12. Faux Suede Strappy Wedges, $29.80
  13. Faux Leather Carry-all, $29.90
  14. Buckled Faux Leather Booties, $32.80

This post was sponsored by ShopStyle in collaboration with Forever 21, but the items included are things that I independently chose based on my personal preferences. 

Slowly replacing all items in my closet with their Everlane counterparts. 
Everlane Drape Tee
Old Navy The Rockstar Ankle Zip Jeans
Steve Madden Sneakers (Similar from Target)
Cuyana Tote

Slowly replacing all items in my closet with their Everlane counterparts. 

Things I’m enjoying

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  1. Lindsay sent me some BeautyCounter samples last week and I was hesitant to use them because my skin is finicky and two of the samples were oils. To put on your skin. Voluntarily. It seems so dumb to put oil on my skin—the skin that I am constantly trying to DE-OIL. But Lindsay’s letter was VERY persuasive. My two favorite products so far are the Every Day AM Hydrating Cream and the Lustro Face Oil 2 (Jasmine). You put a bit of the hydrating cream in your palm (you don’t need to use a lot to cover the whole face), then mix in a drop of the Lustro oil and apply. I hate the word “dewy” for skin (it seems like something Lucky magazine would say about skincare products) so I will instead say that I have a J.Crew-catalog-skin-glow going on and it’s very delightful. My skin is soft and more hydrated/even-toned. I’m running out of samples so I need to buy the full-size products ASAP. 
  2. [See above]
  3. bareMinerals Mineral Veil SPF 25, $21 - I’d been using the Original version of this but recently got the Tinted one and LOVE it. It blends into the skin so well that you hardly notice any color—it just evens out my skin tone and kind of airbrushes over all the things. I also like that it has SPF 25 because I am the worst when it comes to applying real sunscreen on a regular basis. 
  4. SheaMoisture Olive & Marula Baby Lotion, $9.99 - For a long time the Olive & Marula stuff was so hard to find but now it’s readily available on Target and ships free with my Red Card of Doom. This scent will never stop reminding me of Baby Iz and that’s why I’ll keep stockpiling it just in case. It is one of the best-smelling things ever. The shampoo is pretty great too. Trust me.
  5. Aveeno Positively Radiant Makeup Removing Wipes, $6.50 - SO GOOD. I will probably buy the entire Yes to Carrots wipes line for the rest of my life, but they are pretty shitty at removing eye makeup so I cheated on them with Aveeno. These took off my waterproof mascara, smell great and are perfect for post-gym laziness. 
  6. Suave Moroccan Infusion Color Care Shampoo, $2.89 - I got my hair dyed and as I was driving home I realized I only had blond shampoos/conditioners and had to take a detour to Target. I was like, okay, let me grab the first color shampoo I can find and then I’ll go get an Stupid Expensy Fancy one later. So—I got the one that was less than $3 and it turned out to be pretty fantastic. My hair is SUPER soft and easy to style. Seriously—the softest it’s been in a long time. It smells good too! 
  7. Organix Sulfate-Free Repairing Conditioner, $5-$11 - I started using this repairing conditioner about a week before I dyed my hair and have been using it since. It has a subtle, pretty scent. Out of all the super-moisturizing conditioners I’ve tried over the years, this is one of the few that hasn’t weighed down my hair or made it limp/difficult to style. 
  8. Honest Shave Oil, $15.95 a la carte or available in a bundle - [That is a referral link. Thank you if you use it!] We don’t use Honest for diapers/wipes anymore, but I still buy the Essentials bundle about once every two months to stock up on cleaning supplies and such. This shave oil was an impulse addition to the bundle and it worked like a charm. I got a really close shave that lasted longer than shaving with my normal gel did. I loved the fresh scent and my legs were so soft after. 
I bought/loved a few jackets last year from Target’s C9 line and I spotted this one on clearance while buying dish soap and instant rice (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). It’s REALLY long and lightweight and I am excited about it. It’s not on clearance on their website (it’s $28 there but $19 in store) so do the find in a store thingy.  

I bought/loved a few jackets last year from Target’s C9 line and I spotted this one on clearance while buying dish soap and instant rice (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). It’s REALLY long and lightweight and I am excited about it. It’s not on clearance on their website (it’s $28 there but $19 in store) so do the find in a store thingy.  

Love this gray sweater from H&M. It’s just $14.95! 

Love this gray sweater from H&M. It’s just $14.95! 

This is nice.

A couple days ago I talked to a mom friend at Iz’s daycare. Her kid is the same age as Isobel (they’re only 30 days apart) and she just had their second baby. I congratulated her, asked her mom questions. How’s the baby sleeping? How are you feeling? She said, “I think the transition from none to one was harder than one to two has been.” I smiled, nodded. She asked: “You guys thinking of having any more?” 

I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about how many of my friends are trying for a second or third. I was thinking about it when I wrote this four months ago. I’ve been thinking about it because I realized the other day we’d long passed the 2-year-interval window that I always said I wanted between the two kids I figured I’d have. (My sister and I are two years apart.) I thought about it when my hairdresser gave me an update on how her third baby is doing and asked if I was going to have another. I was thinking about it after a friendly cashier at the grocery store was “chatting” with Iz and then asked her, “Do you have any brothers or sisters at home?” A family member also said, “When you have another kid, you’ll want to [blah blah blah].” 

And then last night, I had a weird dream. I remember it very clearly—that was one of the weird things about it. I usually forget dreams by the time I’ve blinked away the fog of sleep. Anyway, it was Isobel and me, in our jammies, reading. There was a big bowl of popcorn. A window was open. She was older, maybe pre-teen? I don’t know. Just older. The room was quiet except for the pages turning. I knew in the dream that it was just her. There was no baby in the other room or toddler playing nearby. Just an older Iz and me, being lazy. In the dream, she stopped reading, turned to me and said, “This is nice.” I woke up. 

I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. Life is hard to predict and assigning significance to dreams is a fool’s errand. (I mean, she might hate reading. She might hate me.) But I keep thinking about that dream today. “This is nice.” It was. It is. 

emmafolds asked: Hi Jaclyn! I've got a friend's 30th birthday party coming up next month, and I want something with sparkle! I tend to wear fit and flare/50s silhouettes, but add sequins to those and it looks full-on prom! Could you help me find something, knee length or longer, that will flatter my pear shape and also be slightly OTT glam?

Yes! The first one I found is this French Connection dress, marked down to just $70 (from $328!!!). Lots of sizes are still available. It still nips in at the waist and has some volume through the skirt without being a true fit-and-flare. SO pretty. 

Another option is this super-hot black sequined Vince Camuto on sale from Amazon for $40! I like the longer sleeves and it will still give you a defined waistline. I’m not sure what size you are and I know a sheath dress probably isn’t a style you’re interested in, but I had to include this David Meister sequined dress because it’s marked down to $142 (from $408) in sizes 4 and 6. This Mango dress might be a little shorter than you want, but because it has such a defined waist, you may like it! It’s on sale for $70 (from $120). 

I’m not sure how you feel about the silhouette of this TFNC dress from ASOS ($87), but the faux top + skirt is fun and I love the bright silver sequins. 

This Max & Cleo fit-and-flare style doesn’t read prom to me because it’s all black and only sequined on the bodice. It’s just $43! A similar—but longer—option is this chic Hayden dress ($119). 

If you want to go really over the top, this Jovonna maxi dress from ASOS ($73, sizes 4 and 6 available) is amazing. You could also do this sequin and jersey long dress from Jessica Simpson on 6PM for $98 (from $168). You could do FULL SEQUIN GLAM with this Badgley Mischka from RTR ($80). (Or do the shorter version for $40). 

RTR also has this (pretty amazing) Kate Spade fit and flare for $40. I feel like you would feel comfortable in it, and depending on how you style it, it wouldn’t look prom-ish at all. If you want something less voluminous, this pewter Milly dress ($30) has a great nipped-in waist. 

sliu asked: Hey Jaclyn, I bought the Maeve lattice dress in red from Anthropologie and as much as i love it, I have no idea what color shoes/bag to get with it. It's for a wedding so I'm shooting for flats (or flat sandals) and a small clutch, but what color? gold? silver? white? Do I match the flats to the bag? Am I asking too many questions?! Thanks for your help!

This is exactly why I hardly ever wear red dresses—even though I own a few that I very much like. The shoe/bag conundrum is always a fun sucker.

ANYWAY, I have two ideas:

  • Nude shoes + neutral clutch, maybe a light leather (like this) or one with metallic/hints of metallic (like this or this) OR a b&w clutch (like this or this or this). I think nude D’Orsay flats would look really great. Examples here, here, here
  • White shoes + beaded/textured clutch. Matchy-matchy is usually bad news, but you can toe the line a little bit by bringing in the dress color on the beads or stitching, like on this one from Anthro.You could also do something real wild, like this one from Aldo. Here’s another fun option that you could wear practically any shoe with. A textured bag like this would work well with white shoes. For shoes, something like these Report sandals ($60) would be great. An ankle strap helps sandals look a little more dressy (these are $70). If you have some wedges like this ($90)? PERFECT. (I know you said flats or sandals, but wedges are close.) You could also do a very, very small baby wedge like these ($70). 

Hey, you could always do leopard shoes like these! :/

I’m sorry, I think I’m probably just confusing you more now.