Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

by JessieAnne D'Amico

I haven’t written in months, maybe almost two years looking at the last one post I made.  I want to delete it because I feel it’s not written by the same person I am now.  I don’t look the same, I don’t think the same, but maybe that’s important to remember.  As I begin writing this, I have lived in New York City for seven days, one hour, fifty-six minutes and twenty-seven seconds.  Last night was the first alone in my 342 square foot apartment.  I have found myself 456 miles from home.  Meg Ryan’s voice in When Harry Met Sally and a cooling fan are acting as my background noise for the moment — in addition to brakes and horns and construction worker’s yells from the window, that is.  The combination is about all I can stomach yet.

    I haven’t been able to play any records because I haven’t been able to so much as sort through them without the memories they uncover. The smell of a circa-1971 Honey Cone album cover sparks memories of the dim lighting as I sat cross-legged on a man’s mother’s living room in mid-November — the Japanese writing on a karaoke album invokes the same.  Dark Side of the Moon’s art brings me back to the taste of cheap tequila on my breath in the parking lot of a local bar where it was given to me the week before Christmas.  The Carpenters sound rings like my mother’s voice above me as I sat in the bathtub as a child.  Any Grateful Dead song tastes like my favorite drink the coffee shop I frequented and worked at for solidarity, gossip, and comfort.  Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors feels like my rough steering wheel at three in the morning, on my way east or west down the island I called home.  These albums smell, look, feel, taste, and sound like my hometown.  

    Those albums are painted in sand and saltwater; in the thick humidity of July and crisp dry oceanfront winds of February.  Everything is.  The beer I’m drinking as I write this is an ode to my birthday a few months ago and to my beer snob of a friend whom I send a picture every time I have one.  The watch I’m wearing is the same one that notoriously always slipped to the underside of my wrist just for the guy I was seeing to get annoyed and flip it around. Most of my books were read within the walls of my high school or the restaurant where I worked for two years and made some of the best friends and memories. Everything that is new is cold.  A new bed, a new table, new keys without the burden of my genuinely awful 2004 forest green Ford Explorer.  If I close my eyes and sit on my couch covered in my favorite blanket, things are old.  I am home.  My feet on the wood floor here still feels like the wood floor of my family’s home.  So many things are the same, but everything is different.

    My lips are already chapped and my skin dry from the change in air.  The dry air here is taking its toll, physically and emotionally.  I deny it all I can and I may have a “Yankee” mind but I have a small beach town heart.  As much as I hate it. I “adapt well to ever-changing environments,” I mean, it says so on my resume.  I suppose that calls for an apology to every business I’ve ever applied to because the claim is proving not to be true.  All I want now, all I’ll I’ve wanted for days, is to be home.  My emotions temper when I feel like I’m just on vacation here, in a hotel room thinking about how much I’d love to live in this city I’ve always longed for.  The thought that I don’t know what’s changed keeps crossing my mind, but that’s not true, I changed.  Always thinking I needed more to be happy, needed something different.  At what point I realized it, I’m not sure, but somewhere along the way I saw I was content.  Maybe what I always dreamed isn’t what I’m still dreaming.  

    I cried a lot today. I've cooked three times now and have yet to be able to eat anything. Last night I made chicken and cooked it to the point it was bone dry, the meat thermometer never reached 165. I ended up not eating it. A few minutes ago, I tried to make a sandwich but nothing about it was right. Fairway doesn't carry the bread I've eaten as every homemade sandwich of my conscious live, the deli doesn't carry the right turkey, the cheese was too thick, and you can bet your ass you won't find Duke's mayonnaise in Manhattan. Nothing feels right. Nothing feels like home. There's suddenly a sense of longing in me to rush to Food Lion before ten at night and see three people I know before I get in the door. I'm longing for an island that comfortably holds less than four thousand people. God, do I want to see stars.

    In an essay I wrote a few months ago, I pointed to the year taken to stay home as what made me appreciate Emerald Isle. But I never knew the things about it that I would miss.  I miss sitting on someone’s front porch with the door to the house open while we drink margaritas.  I miss driving home past nine at night in the winter and not passing a soul.  I miss stopping by work just to tell everyone hi.  I miss bonfires and beer in a friend’s backyard and passing every police officer in town on the way home.  I miss the way the air catches your breath at the end of a dock in any month past November.  I want to be on the beach when the sun rises and the fishermen move in front of the run down convenience store to the front of the tide.  I want to sit in the “Bluewater Chair” and Geocache and laugh with my friends. I want to honk at my people I know running, biking, driving down the street.  I want to drive past the bar after work and know if my friends are there by scoping out the cars in the parking lot.  I want to breathe.  I want to take a full breath, and I haven’t since I left my home.

    Henry David Thoreau said “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I want to live deep and I can’t do it here.  Maybe it’s that October and November are my favorite months on the beach.  They’re quiet, cool, the most calming state, and some of my best memories are from just after the air got cool.  My fear to go home at this point is because I feel that constitutes failure.  But especially as I wrote this, I realized there’s no failure in figuring out what I want.  I want to live for my happiness instead of living for an idea of a lifestyle I’ve conjured as being the same thing as happiness. I don’t know when I’ll be home, but I’ll be back.  New York is a dream I conquered, even if in the simplest sense of getting a key in an apartment.  Part of me still thinks this is proving right the people who thought I couldn’t do it, who smiled knowingly at me and jeered “you’ll be back” but they’re wrong, the person I was a year ago wouldn’t have been back.  But I’m glad to not be that person anymore. I’ll admit I’m proud of myself for getting here.  But I may be more proud of myself for swallowing my pride and fear of failure and following my path wherever it takes me.  Or takes me back to.

Say It With Me Now...Layering for Snow

by JessieAnne D'Amico in

(Outfit details at bottom of post)

I always forget about the beauty of layering until rare situation like the current polar vortex.  Living in coastal North Carolina, it's a sparse opportunity, being allowed to dress for snow (which happens to be my favorite type of weather).  It also isn't often that I find myself in the position to pair a minidress with pants which I think is an underrated trend of the moment.  There's nothing I love more than finding the most random articles of clothing possible from my closet and somehow piling them on my body in a [sometimes] conceivable way.  I also took a much-appreciated note from a Man Repeller article yesterday on belting coats which, again, I am not able to experiment with much because of our lack of cold weather.  One of the best parts of snow is it makes for an almost-constant white backdrop perfect for contrast.  Black in a snow-cover makes for even starker contrast than usual.  That being said, it's also easy to overdo contrasting as I talked about in my black monochrome post.  Being a huge fan of fuchsia lipstick and often without cause to wear it, I took advantage of today and paired that as a statement element along with one of my favorite Matt & Nat bags.  So while my outfit may have been slightly uneventful otherwise (well, if you look past the fact that I'm wearing a dress, pants, turtleneck, and a t-shirt), with just my lipstick and purse I attempted to make it something else.  Also taking influence from one of Leandra Medine's past posts, I paired a sock with ankle length cigarette pants for a tiniest show of skin between my shoes and pants.  In spite of my mother's request, I wore one earring from a pair of my H&M earring/cuff combo and a similar stud for the other ear.  

Unconventionally layering clothing can also be an excuse not to give away that shirt you bought on impulse three years ago and have yet to wear.  Layering allows you to conceal your least favorite elements of a piece (say, ruffle sleeves) and emphasize the best parts (hello, mock turtleneck).  Sometimes even if only a hint of the piece shows, like my dress today which is on display for its neckline and mid-thigh hem, it can give the outfit a sense of closure and make it look more refined.  

Come to think of it, layering in clothing is a lot like layering in personality.  We tend to cover up what we see as flaws (I can't be productive if I know anything in my room is out of place) by compensating the positives of said attributes (because of that, my room is almost always perfectly neat).  I guess that means that snow days are kind of the comparative equivalent awkward first few weeks of a relationship—be it friendly, romantic, or professional—when you try to hide your quirks (the personality equivalent of a ruffled-2007-esque sleeve) and emphasize your best qualities.  Literal layering can do the same in the terms of emphasizing your best qualities, it provides an outlet for wearing pieces you may not be very comfortable in but still love by pairing them with something overpowering to their intimidating features.

Coat: Ralph Lauren (similar from Cycle via Farfetchsimilar from Blk Dnm via Farfetch)

T-Shirt: Silence & Noise (similar from Raquel Allegra via NET-A-PORTER, similar from Rag & bone via NET-A-PORTER)

Turtleneck: Borrowed (similar from Banjo & Matilda via Net-a-Porter)

Dress: H&M (similar from H&M, similar from Versus via NET-A-PORTER)

Pants: Gap (similar from Topshop)

Shoes: Borrowed (similar from Fendi via Bluefly, similar from Kenneth Cole Reaction via Lord and Taylor)

Hat: H&M (similar from Topshop, similar from H&M)

Socks: Unknown (similar from H&M, similar from H&M)

Gloves: H&M (here from H&M)

Belt: Vintage Fossil (similar from Miu Miu via NET-A-PORTER)

Necklaces: H&M

Earrings: H&M

Purse: Matt & Nat

Lipstick: Estee Lauder Pure Color in Fuchsia Fever (Amazon link below)

Almost Monochrome

by JessieAnne D'Amico

My harem pants and Ivanka Trump pumps are making a reappearance, and a variation on yesterday's baseball cap.


Shirt: I.N.C. (similar from Victoria Beckham Denim via NET-A-PORTER)

Crop Sweater: Vintage (similar from Zara, similar from Proenza Schouler via NET-A-PORTER)

Coat: Ralph Lauren (similar from Cycle via Farfetch, similar from Blk Dnm via Farfetch)

Pants: Silence and Noise (similar from CLU via NET-A-PORTER)

Gloves: H&M (here from H&M)

Shoes: Ivanka Trump (similar from Ivanka Trump via Lord and Taylor)

Bag: H&M (similar from H&M)

Hat: H&M (similar from J. Crew)

Scarf: H&M (similar from TopShop)

Watch: Casio (here on Amazon)

Necklaces: TopShop, Lilly Pulitzer

Bracelet: Custom

Rings: Vintage, H&M

I am all for wearing all black, I might even consider it a pastime, but I’ve noticed that sometimes people wear all black as an excuse to just not put effort into an outfit and assume it looks okay, which isn’t always the case.  In honor of my [almost] entirely black outfit I’ve decided to include my personal “rules” for entirely this often abused trend.

  1. Take the fit of your clothes into special consideration when wearing all back, the color itself is slimming but articles that are unintentionally ill-fitting can have the reverse effect.  Personally I like to contrast something more form fitting with the opposite (like today’s crop sweater, harem pants combination).
  2. A lot of people will say if you wear all black to have elements like accessories that are brightly colored for contrast but I couldn’t disagree more.  When I see the cliche black with red combo all I see is a sixth grader who attempted an Olivia Newton John look for a Halloween party.  I think the look is so much more refined and generally more “I put thought into my ensemble” when paired with subtly contrasting accessories like tan, grey, or silver accessories.  Often, though, a perfect contrast piece can be as easy as a bold or severely nude lip.  I’m also a fan of using a statement shoe, even if it’s black as well, as a contrast piece.  Today, mine was my white shirt.
  3. Occasion is important because while a perk of entirely black outfits can be the versatility of the look, it’s easy to make a daytime appropriate outfit something only acceptable post-nine p.m.  In the daytime it’s better to stick to more neutral tones and hues of pink rather than deep reds or purples when it comes to accessorizing with lipstick.  Similarly, hemlines and accessories can make something office worthy rather than club worthy.  It’s easy to find a comfortable middle and it isn’t hard to notice when something becomes inappropriate to wear during the day.    
  4. Wear various [seasonally appropriate] textures or fabrics, all black cotton looks overly-drab and completely reverses the chicness of wearing all black in the first place.  Today, I’m wearing a wool crop sweater, silk pants, and a cotton hat with a leather brim.