Nana's House of Style - Three Days of Pins and Polka Dots


I am an only child. There were times, growing up, that I absolutely hated it. Siblings looked like fun, and I felt like I was missing out.

Now, as an adult, I understand that I am who I am because I'm an only child, and why would I want to be someone else?  Plus, while some kids had siblings, I had something better: my grandparents. 

I grew up in a house that overlooked my grandparents' orchard, next door to my mom's childhood home. My grandparents were always only a driveway away. My grandma (Nana) and I would take trips to the Antique Mall (still my favorite activity!). My grandpa (Poppy) famously saved me from a giant rattlesnake and taught me to drive a tractor when I was twelve. While some kids were having gum stuck in their hair and mud thrown at them (that's what siblings do, right?), I was baking with Nana or learning how to differentiate cherry trees by their bark from Poppy. Looking back, my childhood was like an idyllic Shirley Temple movie. (I also loved Shirley Temple, so life goal achieved!)

Flash forward to today. Today is momentous! Today is the birthday of my Nana, who deserves every form of celebration. She is a cancer surviver, defeating two different forms of cancer simultaneously. (Her doctor calls her amazing, and I do, too.) She is giving and kind and has fantastic comedic timing. Nana is also the epitome of personal style. She knows what she likes and it works wonderfully for her.

This experiment has put my own personal style into flux. The shapes and styles I used to love don't sing to me anymore. That's certainly not a bad thing, but I do miss having touchstones - those items or shapes that I know I love and that work for me.

For inspiration and guidance, I hosted my own celebration of Nana's style. I took a long weekend and embraced two of Nana's touchstones: pins and polka dots! Each outfit needed to have one or the other or both.

Here's what I came up with:



Peering into the windows of a second-hand furniture store - definitely a Nana-approved activity.

Peering into the windows of a second-hand furniture store - definitely a Nana-approved activity.


NANA ITEM(S): Golden cat pin with green eyes, a gift from Nana! (The lining of my blazer is polka dotted, but that doesn't really count.)

THE OUTFIT: Black racerback tank + black collarless blazer + mom jeans + adidas + cat pin + green earrings that matched the cat eyes + a half-up top knot, in an effort to hide my horrible roots.

THE EXPERIENCE: Do you remember that scene in Aladdin (Disney version, of course), when the cave of wonders comes alive and it's eyes glow? (Here's a video.) The combination of my cat pin plus the matching earrings reminded me of that scene, and I felt like I had a magical secret all day.

Magic aside, I really enjoyed this outfit. It was the perfect combination of put-together and comfortable. I got compliments on my hair and the pin, and I felt ready for anything, whether it be work errands or our evening walk.

NANA RATING: In past Mini Labs, I've rated each outfit or item. I'm hoping that after Nana reads this she can let me how she'd rate my pins and polka dot choices! 

Making a new dog friend, also Nana-approved.

Making a new dog friend, also Nana-approved.




NANA ITEM(S): Elephant blouse with polka dot background and polka dot socks

THE OUTFIT: Blouse + Madewell skinny jeans + high top Converse

THE EXPERIENCE: I wore this outfit to attend a Prairie Underground sample sale with my friend Stephanie, and a had wonderful time! We wandered around the racks of clothes, piling more and more options on our arms. There was a large communal dressing room, which sounds awful, but was actually great. There are not a lot of places in Seattle where people who don't know each other interact, and it was really fun to be in a room with a bunch of women saying, "No, really. You have to buy that dress. It's perfect on you." In the end, I walked out with a jacket, top, and that perfect denim dress. 

Stephanie and I headed to grab some caffeine to refuel, she headed to work, and I went back home with my bag of treasures.


Attempting to get Christian to understand

Attempting to get Christian to understand

how absolutely perfect

how absolutely perfect

my new denim dress is. 

my new denim dress is. 

Outfit #3


NANA ITEM(S): Black and white polka dot purse and a pin from London's National Theatre that says "Make Sound"

OUTFIT: Flowy, poppy-print Free People dress + denim vest + blue slides + pin + polka dot purse

THE EXPERIENCE: This was Seattle's only foreseeable sunny day for awhile, and I felt like I needed to take advantage of it. I wore my most summer-day of dresses, and these sandals that (much like this shirt from a few posts ago) remind me of retired man in Miami. The mix of the patterns in the dress and the purse felt like a lot, but I really liked it. I checked in with Christian and he approved of it, too. We'll have to see what Nana thinks. :)


The corgi pajamas!

The corgi pajamas!

I intended for there to be one more Nana-inspired outfit but, alas, I woke up on Sunday feeling rather horrible. I spent most of the day curled up in my corgi pajamas which, while they're not pins or polka dots, I think Nana would approve of them. 

THE CONCLUSION: What I loved the most about these outfits also surprised me the most: the pins! Wearing pins made me feel powerful, like, "Hey, you! I'm so ready for today that I accessorized, so watch it!" I felt like the pins gave my outfits an extra boost of personality, too. Nana, is this how it feels when you wear pins??

Powerful pins aside, I loved this Mini Lab! In past mini labs, eventually, the constraints of the lab became challenging or tedious (No-pants week, I'm looking at you.) but I loved every second of choosing these outfits. I imagine this is for two reasons: 1. pins and polka dots add more fun to any outfit, and 2. being reminded of Nana by what I'm wearing makes any day better.

Nana, I hope you have a happy, happy birthday, and treat yourself to a special birthday pin! Thank you for all of the love, guidance, and for being one of my bridesmaids! We are all so lucky to have you (and your style!) in our lives. :)