on watching yourself grow up

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Having a blog to document arguably one’s most formative years is weird. Having a blog to document what one wears during those most formative years is way weird.

Thankfully I decided early on this little piece of internet would not be a public diary. I saved the majority of my juicy first date night stories and weepy first days in a new city rants (most of them, at least) for spilling into the ears of close friends. Instead these four-ish years of Ragged or Well-Dressed has documented what I look like. Just great.

My relationship with the way I look has, for the most part, been pretty simple.

LOL JK.

My relationship with the way I look was solely determined by men until one broke up with me and I cut off all of my hair and started this blog.

My heart was halved and with it my long tresses. But instead of the cliched break-up bob I went full on Miley, letting the hairdresser determine my fate. She said I would look great with the sides buzzed. I followed her lead blindly, leaving my confidence on the floor along with my severed locks. I loved my new do, but no one else really did, leaving me to determine my own worth, my own beauty standards by myself.

The hair was gone and with it the confidence that had once come so effortlessly. My first task in my forray into singledom: I would attempt to style a “going out” look for the downtown Tuscaloosa scene. Turns out I had no “going out” tops for drawing a strategic gaze, my shortest shorts were denim and frayed—and forget dresses, my new hair made me look like a prepubescent boy playing in his mother’s clothes. After multiple outfit changes and with my floor covered in every tank top and sparkly skirt I owned, I chose my denim shorts, a striped SWEATER, and platform sandals. And I looked good. Not one boy looked my way, but I loved what I was wearing and I was happy.

Since then I’ve rocked, no attempted, nearly every trend imaginable and settled somewhere in the middle. Culottes, tulle, crop tops, sequins, boyfriend jeans, leather. But mostly boyfriend jeans and sweaters. And behind each outfit post spewing fashion how-to’s, there was an event I overdressed for, a date scared away by billowing fabric, a Sunday afternoon dress-up session grabbing the closest cousin, friend, crush to catch the twirling half smile I never could figure out. Each outfit takes me back to a very specific story, a specific moment documenting varying levels of confidence.

I was most “me” in a fluffy tulle skirt and mink stole jaywalking across University Boulevard. I loved the way I looked and didn’t think twice about the girls gawking in their athleisure or boys baffled in ill-fitting khakis. Today I don’t think I would be caught dead (Scratch that. Please bury me in that tulle skirt) in tulle or really skirts for that matter. But cheers, old Abbey. That confidence is inspiring to this new, not so confident Abbey swathed in mostly neutrals and ankle-grazing skinny jeans.

My hair has grown out and I’ve learned to not balance my levels of confidence on what I’m wearing or what my hair looks like. But along with hair growth, this blog has also documented adult acne, the death of my high school metabolism, and this chunk of grey hair that has appeared fiercely in my cowlick.

It’s weird to be able look at your physical transformation over time. It puts your body in perspective and it’s not always kind. But it’s kind of really amazing to look back and see how I found myself beautiful in shirts with “GEEK” emblazoned on the front and humongous sweaters that turtlenecked up to my nose, overtly feminine skirts and masculine trousers.

So maybe I just wanted to acknowledge and thank my old self; who discovered at 21 her worth is not in her hair, or how many boys buy her drinks at bars she doesn’t really even want to be at, or in the tag of her new skirt she had to exchange for a larger size. She would love my grey hair. She would love that I found a new minimalist look valuing comfort over style. But she would also want me to love it too. After all this new look, this new body, and this grey hair got her to her dream job in her dream city.

Thanks girl. Love you too.

I think I may be falling for you

My boyfriend accuses me of being too gloomy on here. I prefer "real," and real life is sometimes gloomy. But In honor of this perfect weather/my favorite season/almost Thanksgiving/this mustard turtleneck that is giving me life right now, I'll hit some high points. Note: it in fact does take at least one year to feel on top of New York. 1. I scored the above mint green coat from Banana Republic. I bought a petite medium in case you're wondering. When they say oversized they mean it.

2. I don't think I've ever experienced such beautiful fall weather in my life. The highs have been in the 60s!

https://www.instagram.com/p/9rHk1QFR2H/?taken-by=abbeycrain

3. I got a job at The Wall Street Journal.

https://www.instagram.com/p/8boesZFR4x/?taken-by=abbeycrain

4. I turned 24 since that last time I was here. That was cool I guess.

5. I am going home TWICE in the month of December. I can't wait to see my mom's new chickens. (and my mom)

6. My soul sista is getting married and I will complete my maid of honor trifecta. Y'all sure do know how to make a girl feel appreciated

https://www.instagram.com/p/2ePNzilRyF/?taken-by=abbeycrain

7. My beau is staying in New York on Thanksgiving to make just me dinner when I get home at midnight. I'm a lucky lady.

https://www.instagram.com/p/wUlNpAFR28/?taken-by=abbeycrain

8. I still live here.

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
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[coat-banana republic, sweater-loft (similar), boots-gap, bag-aldo]

photos by the lovely Alex Wood.

new york kicked my ass

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2014 brought way more self-discovery than I asked for.

I thought I'd discovered all my insecurities already, and for sure I figured out already what I wanted to do with my life. Go figure, all that changes when you're on your own for the first time. Most of all I miss my family and feeling like I'm worth something. New York has a funny way of making you feel pretty worthless. The homeless person doesn't thank you for the dollar on the subway; the esteemed publishing houses that invite you in don't invite you back; and there's always, always somebody doing/living/looking better.

I figured I was one of those "adventurous" ones who could leave her friends, family, and hopeful job connections 915 miles behind her (without crying) to pursue, ever so gracefully, a career in what she loved. It's just too damn bad for me it doesn't work like that.

I was sure of my decision to move to New York from the beginning. I still am. I think. I figured since I could dress the part and plaster a fake smile on my face someone would love me. But that just isn't the case, my friends. Everyone in New York knows someone's cousin, or went to an ivy, or looks more like an off-duty model. No pity party for me though. I get it. In time it will happen. But my life looks a lot less like Jack Karouac sipping black coffee and writing world-changing literature and a lot like Hannah Horvath, penniless, manic, not shaving her legs, etc.

I promise I value hygiene as much as the next person; it's just much harder to maintain your self worth where you can count the number of people who could bail you out of jail on one hand, aren't making a steady income (freelancing doesn't count), and want everyone else to think you're having the time of your life. It's a tough life out there for those dumb enough to leave behind their entire support system along with perfectly-apt job opportunities.

I know, no pity party. This city is beautiful. In every nook and cranny there's a talent waiting to be discovered and a story ready to be told. I intend to both be one of the talents and tell all those stories.

I may have to crawl in my bed to get new panties out of my dresser (mesh drawer from IKEA) and getting a new flavor frozen burrito from Trader Joes may be one of the most exciting parts of my week, but I chose this. I picked the hard route. The long windy route. The route that won't even let you off to pee. The route that glares when I ask "are we there yet?" But it's mine. This apartment is mine, this journey is mine, this mattress is mine, and this dream is mine.

2015 will bring good things, but I will anticipate the bad. New York may have kicked my ass, but I came up smiling and ready for more. Really. It takes borderline psychos to live here. So bring it on. I'm here and I'm staying.

*So much for a fashion blog, but this post has been on the tips of my fingers and needed to be written. Here's me in my dream neighborhood (Williamsburg) wearing a few Christmas presents.

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[sweater / jeans-zara, bag- kate landry, jacket- my beautiful grandmother's, necklace- jcrew]