Workin’ It Out

I know Mallory has referenced what her self-care post-cancer looks like, and going for long walks with her 2 adorable pups made the list. Personally, I have never been an athlete in any traditional sense (seriously, have never been on a sports team in my life), but creating time for fitness has been a priority for me since graduating college. Some of this is related to my self-image (I know I do not feel good about myself if I haven’t been running and/or have put on extra pounds), some is related to wanting to be as healthy as I can be (…and to compensate for my less than healthy choices—lookin’ at you, beers & burgers). I aim for a few traditional “treadmill/weights at gym” sessions a week, and also try to get in plenty of long walks around Chicago with my fiance’ and our pup. As long as I could run a 5k with no advance notice, I don’t worry too much (you just never know when a Color or Mud run might present itself!).

I think everyone has very different preferences on their workout wear, but just thought I’d list some of my favorites. I feel like I’ve purchased so many duds over the years (skorts that ride up, bras with zero support), so I always enjoy hearing what works for others people. I have thighs that do not tolerate short-shorts and boobs that can’t make do with a flimsy top, but I think most of these pieces could work for anyone. My go-to place for budget-friendly workout clothes? Target (Of course. I love you too much, Target). I also love GapFit’s and Athleta’s pieces, though they’re not as budget friendly.

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1. C9 by Champion High Support Sports Bra: The only sports bra I’ve found that, for under $25, actually provides good support and coverage.

2. C9 by Champion Women’s Singlet: My favorite top to layer over the sports bra above. I sweat A LOT while running, so if I can avoid sleeves, I do! I bought this one a size big for a looser fit.

3. GapFit gFast cropped capris: I think the exact pairs I have are no longer available, but anything made with the material GapFit uses is my favorite. Again, how much I sweat means that the cheaper cotton-blend Target varieties don’t work well for me as bottoms. Wait for a 40% off sale!

4. Crush Dress Stripe: My Swiss friends introduced me to this brand. It’s not cheap, though their sales can be pretty nice. I obviously don’t go for runs in this dress, but have loved going for long walks in it, feeling a little more put together when my destination might be a restaurant (…but one that is 1.5 miles away). My fiance’ is loving their tees. We got engaged while hiking, and I almost wish I had been wearing this instead. Okay, probably wouldn’t have been as functional as the tank/shorts I had on in reality, but still…

Do you have any go-to stores for workout gear? What do you like to do to work on your fitness?

Back To School

My own “back to work” outfits, 2010-2013

I’ve always had a job that follows the ‘academic’ calendar, so when August rolls around it feels like time for some back to school outfits (okay, “back to work”, in my case) shopping. One of the great things about this part of the year are the deals that come with it.  Cancer treatments are expensive, so let’s look at making your clothing budget go further.

My personal favorites for shopping on a budget? Gap, Old Navy, Target. As a rule of thumb, I’d say never bother purchasing anything from Old Navy or Gap unless it’s 30-40% off (they have these deals on a weekly basis). And if you are interested in a “store credit card”, for me this is the one to get. The rewards are great if you shop at Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy/Piperlime/Athleta. I recently booked my fiancé’s and my summer travel using my Gap credit card and HELLO $200 to spend at those brands. My other “cheap” favorite is, somewhat unexpectedly, JCrew. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s in no way cheap originally….but when you catch the clearance racks (often with my favorite “extra 40% off sale” sign nearby) and tack on a teacher or educator discount (15%)…suddenly it moves into the Old Navy/Target price bracket. H&M sizing rarely works for me, but I’d recommend it for trendier pieces at a low price point (I still love to browse their accessories). Currently, I’ve been stocking up on work basics (for me, t-shirts with a little more interest & new pants).

I enjoy reading and writing about clothes and style, but, I’ll admit it sometimes does feel trivial to post about on Lacuna Loft. I will say, my mom was in the hospital recently (she’s a breast cancer survivor, but spinal fusion surgeries have been the big challenge in recent years), and how to dress did enter my mind. I wanted to look put together and cheerful (and warm & comfy). I think this was partly because of all the “This is my daughter, Elena” intros that happen with the zillion doctors/nurses coming in and out (I get this feeling of representing my mom and family, as silly as that may sound) and because I think hospitals always use a bit more cheer (one outfit choice: a very bright orange dress).

Now I’m getting tangential. In any case, hope you find some great deals in the coming weeks if you’re looking! And if you’re spending a lot of time in the hospital, clothes probably aren’t your priority. But if you’re looking for comfort, Gap’s track pants are so cozy I never want to take them off. And if you’re looking for a smile-worthy dress, here’s one.

A few of my own recent purchases that I can vouch for (all purchased at 30-40% off + reward $)

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1. Tee, / 2. Tailored Crop Pants / 3. Zip-pocket track pants / 4. Shawl-collar cardigan

Do you have some favorite back to school outfits or back to work outfits?  🙂  Any suggestions for shopping on a budget?  Let us know!

Summer Attire: Wedding Guest!

Depending on your age, this season might hit you harder (or not so much), but I know I’m in the midst of WEDDING SEASON! At this ripe old age of 28 (ha), I don’t tend to have quite so many to attend over the summer/fall months (I “only” have three this season), but I know I had a record 6 on my calendar a few years ago. Either way, I find it’s the time of year when I need a few reliable dresses in my closet for the actual big days, and for all the events that come with them (bridal showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners!). I won’t deny that attending weddings can be expensive and time-consuming, but I love them. Celebrating those close to me finding their partners…it’s pretty great stuff! I’ve found that, even if my own personal life was feeling challenging at the time, I truly enjoyed being surrounded by love and good wishes for a happy couple.

As for what to wear, I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite sources for special dresses. I like to believe that most dresses can be transformed into “wedding guest” apparel through the magic of accessories, so I might only buy one new dress a season and work within my wardrobe for the rest. For the wedding my fiance’ and I attended recently, I went for this dress, knowing that I could also wear it more casually for date nights and future wedding events. I love to stalk Banana Republic (especially when I have reward $s to spend and they’re having 40% sales!), ModClothNordstrom (free shipping and returns!), Anthropologie (these have higher ‘re-wear’ potential for me), and to scour the outlets (BCBG and JCrew’s outlets make their pieces much more affordable). I’ve also seen friends gussy up dresses from Target with ease (my height makes their dresses more challenging, but their bridesmaid-oriented options intrigue me). For this tall lady, heels aren’t my favorite option, but I make sure to have at least one pair of fancy, wedding-ready flats on hand throughout the year (this is my current pair; $30!).

If you have any specific summer wedding attire questions or challenges, feel free to send them my way. A few current options that catch my eye are below (and a few of my own wedding-guest looks of yore are above).

assorted summer dresses

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I got engaged a few weeks ago (whee!), so I’ve justified a few new nail polish purchases (this cornflower blue is my current favorite).Working with preschoolers (and, um, being a nail biter), my nails don’t look great for very long…but there’s something soothing to me about painting them. Personally, I prefer lounging in my own home (sometimes with friends, a bottle of wine, and a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress) and doing it myself, even if it’s less than perfect, but either way…there’s something about having your nails painted that makes you feel a bit fancier. More polished, one might say (I couldn’t resist). And it’s an activity that forces you to take some time to just sit back and relax, which I think we all can benefit from. As summer approaches, I gravitate more toward bright colors on my fingers and toes. Do you have any favorite brands or shades? Do you prefer to go to the salon or stay at home?

Essie nail polish

A few Essie brights: serial shopper, big spender, fashion playground, play date

Hair Styling

I am not good with hair and—especially on a busy, not so good day—it is the first thing to drop out of my ‘style equation’ when I’m short on time or energy. I’ll spray with dry shampoo and throw it into a pony tail, twist it into a wet bun straight out of the shower, blow dry and not bother to straighten. I’m not saying these choices always leave me feeling my most professional, pulled together self, but I think having some go-to hair accessories certainly helps. I am all for a sparkly headband, a bejeweled barrette, a high sock bun to elevate not-so-perfect hair.

Anthropologie is my absolute favorite spot for hair accessories (I just nabbed this and this with my birthday discount), and I’m guilty of wearing a beaded gold headband from there very regularly (I’ll admit that I think they’re on the pricey side, but the cost-per-wear on mine is down to about zilch). ModCloth also has a pretty stunning collection. Target is upping their headband game, and sometimes you can find unique ones in rather surprising places (CVS & Walgreens, I’m looking at you).

I should say that I think head scarves/wraps that one may choose to wear because of hair loss due to chemo deserve their own post (and I would not be the best one to write it as I have no experience selecting them), but I am loving this turban from Anthro and this etsy shop’s many prints/styles.

Especially with summer approaching, here’s to finding ways to elevate easy, lazy hairstyles!

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My friend Cait inspired this post by sharing that she often went for easy up-dos & head scarves/head bands when her mother was going through cancer treatments to help herself feel pulled together while getting her hair out of the way. Thanks, Cait!

Embracing Color

Building an outfit around bright colors (or adding a great pop of one) is another way to boost your mood and feel ready to face a more challenging day (it’s right up there with statement accessories in my book!). Neutrals can look very chic and professional, but I’d argue that brights can, too (I wore a hot pink pencil skirt to interview at my current job). Vibrant hues also do more to cheer you up, and I’d say they can look more intentional. Black pants, white shirt? Just fine, but coordinating the colors of your blouse with your shoes and earrings? It takes a bit more effort (or at least looks that way). And, truly…when you’re wearing bright yellow, I feel it impacts your mood and that of those around you.

Flipping through InStyle or Glamour, hot new color combinations always seem to be featured. Personally, I say go with whatever colors you love and have in your closet! An outfit can be monochromatic (have a shade of blue exist in every part of your look), marked by one big pop of color (enter: shoes, necklace, purse, scarf, tights!), or playful (why not pair yellow and coral? navy and magenta? orange and blue?).

When it comes down to it, I think getting dressed should be fun, and color can be a big part of that. I paired a few similar (currently available) items below with outfits I’ve enjoyed in the past. Here’s to enticing spring to stick around by dressing for it!

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Shoes. /   Dress. /   Pants. /  Tights.


My mom had major surgery on her spine a couple of years ago, and during the weeks she was in the hospital I remember what felt like ever-fluctuating temperatures (frequently more on the chilly end). My best advice for dressing for an environment like that is to be all about the (cozy) layers. My favorite dressing in layers piece is a long, open cardigan that can be worn over tees and jeans/leggings (or a dress). My sister bought me this ridiculous, blanket-like one a couple Christmases ago, and it’s been perfect for days when I would prefer to be under the covers. It’s also ideal because it can be shrugged off in an instant if I’m no longer shivering.

It’s not prime sweater-buying season, but a few that look like they’d fit the bill are below. I tend to splurge on one nicer, incredibly cozy sweater a year (JCrew Factory and Gap are two of my favorite sources), and I’ve never regretted it; the cost-per-wear tends to be incredibly low. I swear, I actually do love color, but—as with sandals—I like getting cardigans in neutral colors I can wear over and over (perhaps without anyone noticing!). That said…oh, how I lust after unique pieces like this one or this one from Anthropologie.

Other ways to stay warm (and be able to easily remove a layer): soft scarves, leggings under tunics/dresses.


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Dressing in layers is the easiest way to ensure that you’ll always be a comfortable temperature, whether at the hospital or at home!

Best Feet Forward

We had one of those magical “first days of spring” in Chicago yesterday (we all know what a fun, never-ending winter this has been). The boyfriend and I made it to rooftop bars and patios after work and walked a few miles around our city…so I got to test out my first pair of 2014 sandals: these ones from Target (they were on sale for $13 when I nabbed them a few weeks ago!). They passed the can-I-wander-aimlessly-for-hours test, and now of course I also want them in mint.

Personally, I’m not a big shoe person, at least not in the traditional sense. I don’t like heels, and don’t get too caught up in cool athletic shoes (just give me the ones that correct for my apparent over-pronation) or flats. But I do love the two seasonal extremes: sandals and boots! Warm weather style feels easier to me in a lot of ways—throw on a dress, grab a pair of sandals, add necklace, GO. Very little effort and I can still feel put-together and ready to face the day. With that ease in mind, I tend to stick with sandals in neutral colors (there’s usually a black pair and a gold/metallic pair in my closet every year) and that aren’t too pricey. No matter the make of the sandal, I honestly feel like I wear them out in a year or two, so staying well under $50 works for me.

A few of my favorite pairs right now are below. The transition into warmer weather is on my mind, especially with a few events coming up this week (bridal shower, baptism, Seder dinners, Easter, oh my!) and the realization that my usual tights/boots/dress combo might not be an option with a 70 degree forecast. Hope you’re enjoying the surge of higher temperatures and are slowwwwly starting to put away the wool sweaters and down jackets and bust out the skirts & sandals.

P.S. Worthy of partnering with any summer footwear? Essie’ new minty shade (fashion playground).

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Making A Statement

One of my favorite ways to pull an outfit together is by adding on a statement accessory or two. 

I try to look presentable on most days (…sometimes this just means saying ‘no’ to sweatpants and yes to jeans), but it’s the tough days (whether heartbroken, visiting a family member in the hospital, or getting ready for a stressful meeting at work) where I lean on my closet the heaviest. And—whether short on time or on budget—statement pieces of jewelry can be the easiest way to help me feel more like my best self. Necklaces don’t care about your weight or the weather (or the fact that I spend a lot of my day chasing after preschool students), they add something to a jeans/tee combination or elevate a little black dress.

A few of my current favorites are below. Do you have your eye on any statement pieces?

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Welcome Elena!

Lacuna Loft is excited to start introducing some guest bloggers! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Elena!


Hi! I’m Elena, and I’ve known Mallory since college (and this year we’re gearing up to be bridesmaids together in our friend Shelly’s wedding!). I’m a speech-language pathologist in an early childhood program by day, but I also have a love for clothes and personal style (I used to have a personal lifestyle blog over here; now I mostly stick to instagram).

While I’m the daughter/granddaughter/friend of people who have battled (and triumphed over!) cancer, it hasn’t affected me directly, so I will be very open to your feedback and what you’d most like to see here. From talking with Mallory, I’m planning on writing about style 1) on a budget and 2) for changing bodies. I’ve always had a firm belief in the way I dress and present myself affecting how I feel, and I hope to come at my posts from this perspective. Is the right pair of red flats or pair of earrings everything? No, not at all, but sometimes it is that extra baby step that helps me approach my morning with a cheerier perspective; that gives me an extra jolt of confidence when the day ahead is looking rockier than usual.

Thanks for having me at Lacuna Loft! I’m looking forward to a return of sorts into the world of style blogging.