January 2017 Stitch Fix Review

Happy New Year!

jan01

After last month’s less-than-stellar fix and a not-so-subtle threat to cancel my subscription, Stitch Fix customer service was quickly in contact. They assured me they understood my frustrations, and offered advice for things I could do to help my stylist make better choices for me. When I pointed out I had already followed every single one of their tips to the letter after my interaction with them in March, they quickly backpedaled and offered to wave my stylist fee for this month, as well as pair me with a stylist with more seniority.

Better late and under threat of losing a customer than never, right?

I kept my requests simple this month: big cozy sweater for a brutal Minnesota winter, good quality black leggings, and anything on my Pinterest board. In her note, my new stylist Heather assured me she paid extra attention to my recent pins, and explained some of her picks.

Here’s what I got.

 

RD Style Lada Cowl Neck Sweater
Light Gray, $68

jan03

Pros: I asked for a big cozy sweater, and this is baggy and super comfortable. I like that it’s a neutral color without being my usual black, and did I mention that it’s super comfortable? Guys, it’s super comfortable.

Cons: For a cozy sweater it has pretty open weave, which isn’t exactly what comes to mind when I think “brutal Minnesota winter”.

jan06

Verdict: Kept. It’s really comfortable, and decently warm despite the extra ventilation.

 

Steve Madden Vanitty Bootie
Black, $99

jan10

Pros: I wasn’t sure if I liked these until I tried them on. They’re a solid winter shoe and fit right in with my wardrobe.

Cons: They’re really tight across the top of my feet, but I figure they’ll stretch out with wear. I was also kind of bummed that I found them for 50% off when I looked them up on the Steve Madden website.

jan11

Verdict: Kept! I mentioned I had found them on sale in my feedback, and they reimbursed me the difference a few days later.

 

Teeberry & Weave Juliah Plaid Back Pullover
Black, $64

jan02

Pros: I loved this as soon as I saw it. It’s a nice heavy knit, but super soft. I really like the contrast of the back pattern, and of course plaid is always a big hit in my closet.

Cons: The sleeves are a little shorter than I’d like, and I don’t ever really need more black clothing.

jan07

Verdict: Kept. Obviously.

 

Rune Porter Legging
Black, $44

jan04

Pros: I asked for quality leggings, and these are quality leggings. They’re not sheer, they don’t sag, they don’t cut off circulation. Basically, these are great.

Cons: After years of $7 Target leggings, the price is hard to swallow. Then again, I go through those Target leggings pretty quickly.

jan09

Verdict: Kept. You get what you pay for, right?

 

Pistola Audrey Moto Detail Skinny Pant
Olive, $88

jan05

Pros: I’ve had different iterations of these pants pinned on my Pinterest board since I started my Stitch Fix subscription. I love them.

Cons: These are maybe a hair too short, but I’ve been wearing my pants short on purpose for the last few months anyway. I read somewhere it makes your legs look longer, but really I just like showing off my socks.

jan08

Verdict: Kept, therefore earning the 25% discount!

 

Obviously they won me back over for another month. I’ve requested to keep Heather as my stylist moving forward, so hopefully she’ll have some more great picks in the future!

If you’re interested in Stitch Fix, check it out! It’s free to sign up, and filling out the style profile is actually really helpful for thinking about what you do and don’t love for your wardrobe.

(Plus, between friends, if you sign up with my referral link, I earn credit with the site when your first fix ships. Win-win, right?)

University of Minnesota: Dance Dynasty, cont’d.

Almost exactly three years ago I published a blog post that quickly became my most popular and widely shared post. I had been upset that I could not find a single article dedicated to the dual national titles earned by the University of Minnesota Dance Team, making them the five-time defending champions of both the Pom and Jazz 1A Divisions at UDA Nationals. I couldn’t believe that in a state so barren in sport titles, the only mention of this victory was a footnote in a single article published quietly almost 24 hours after the fact.

So I wrote my own article, which both called out the lack of coverage and paid tribute to the athletes who had claimed two national titles in one day. Based on the overwhelmingly positive responses and number of views and shares that quickly stacked up, it was evident that I was not alone in feeling let down by the radio silence surrounding collegiate dance team in the media.

Which is why it is so disappointing that I’m writing this post.

umdt5

Source: UDA

Last night, the University of Minnesota Dance Team won their eighth consecutive 1A Pom Division national title, as well as the title for the 1A Jazz Division, their tenth since 2003.

This afternoon I went to look up articles about their wins, and found…one.

The article, published by Minnesota Daily, is a beautiful tribute to the team and is an absolute must-read, and the Star Tribune published a blog post as I was finishing up this one, but that’s still just two articles covering Minnesota’s only team with eighteen national titles earned in the current century. By comparison, the number of articles covering the Gophers men’s basketball loss to Penn State on Saturday is in the double digits.

Additionally, when I went to check UMDT’s official website to verify the number of titles they’ve won, I found this:

umdt7

I’ll ignore the fact that the 2016-17 season finished before their webpage was built out, and instead focus on the header text not being updated in over two years.

Anyway.

Led by senior captains Kelsey Sutter and Alli Woodbeck, the University of Minnesota Dance Team earned their seventeenth and eighteenth national titles at UDA Nationals in Orlando, FL on Sunday, January 15th.

UDA – that is, Universal Dance Association – was founded in 1980 to help handle the need of educational training for what were called “drill teams” at the time. UDA helped spearhead the name change to “dance teams” to better promote the activity. Today, they run camps nationwide to provide quality training to high school and college dancers, and host the national championships for college dance teams competing in Pom, Jazz, and Hip Hop in three different size divisions.

UMDT competes in 1A, the largest, and most competitive division. In the weeks leading up to Nationals, the team practiced up to 30 hours each week, run by coaches Amanda Gaines and Ashley Hanne — both alumnae of the team. Each minute of every practice was dedicated to perfecting the intricate choreography, turns, leaps, tricks, and spatial elements critical to their victories.

Source: UMDT

Source: UMDT

Their Jazz, titled Element, was a deftly emotional routine that achieved edgy choreography with superior strength and unity, and featured highly difficult turn and trick combinations executed with near perfection, ensuring their reclamation of the 1A Jazz title after coming in second to the University of Tennessee last year.

In Pom, the team showed off their signature jumps, outstanding fouetté combinations, and overall excellent synchronization in a style reminiscent of cheerleading, but mainly known for its high-energy routines and military-like precision. UMDT was a clear crowd favorite in this category, and secured their eighth consecutive 1A Pom title.

Several other Minnesota teams competed as well over the weekend. The University of St. Thomas won the Open Hip Hop division title, and  Minnesota State University Mankato and St. Cloud State University came in third and fourth, respectively, in the Open division for Pom. In Open Jazz, the University of St. Thomas placed second, the University of Minnesota Duluth placed third, Minnesota State University Mankato placed sixth, St. Cloud State University placed seventh, and the College of St. Benedict placed fourteenth.

A post on the UMDT’s Facebook page from Monday morning thanks the fans and the team that helped with their victory:

“What an incredible weekend! We are so thankful for the love and support we received from our choreographers, consultants, spirit squad, alumni, friends, and our families. We couldn’t have done this journey without you! It was an honor to take the floor and compete against the INCREDIBLE teams in D1A–the talent on the stage (in all the divisions) was so inspiring, and to see everyone’s hard work come to life reminds each of us why we love what we do.

Winning our 8th consecutive Pom National Championship and 10th Jazz National Championship in team history is the icing on the cake for a memorable season. We are so proud of the fight and passion and pride we showed on the floor, and will cherish the memories from this weekend forever.

Thank you Gopher fans for everything!! #onelove”

Source: UMDT

Source: UMDT

The Star Tribune article marvels that the University of Minnesota has a “dance team dynasty” that “deserves recognition”. The fans have thought so for awhile, but we’re glad the rest of the state is slowly starting to take notice, too.

UDA 1A Pom Final Rankings

  1. University of Minnesota
  2. The Ohio State University
  3. University of Iowa
  4. University of Kentucky
  5. Rutgers University
  6. University of Cincinnati
  7. University of Colorado
  8. University of Nevada Las Vegas

UDA 1A Hip Hop Final Rankings

  1. University of Cincinnati
  2. University of Kentucky
  3. Universtiy of Memphis
  4. Louisiana State University
  5. University of Nevada Las Vegas
  6. San Diego State University
  7. Arizona State University
  8. Temple University

UDA 1A Jazz Final Rankings

  1. University of Minnesota
  2. The Ohio State University
  3. University of Tennessee
  4. Arizona State University
  5. University of Michigan
  6. Rutgers University
  7. San Diego State University
  8. University of Arizona
  9. Florida State University
  10. Louisiana State University
  11. University of Wisconsin
  12. Washington State University

UDA 1 Pom Final Rankings

  1. Hofstra University
  2. Cal State Fullerton
  3. Saint Joseph’s University
  4. North Dakota State University
  5. Long Beach State University
  6. George Mason University
  7. Stony Brook University
  8. Tennessee Tech University

UDA 1 Hip Hop Final Rankings

  1. Northern Arizona University
  2. University of Delaware
  3. Saint Joseph’s University
  4. Southeastern Louisiana University
  5. College of Charleston
  6. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

UDA 1 Jazz Final Rankings

  1. Cal State Fullerton
  2. Hofstra University
  3. Northern Arizona University
  4. University of Delaware
  5. Southeastern Louisiana University
  6. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  7. Stony Brook University
  8. Missouri State University
  9. Long Beach State University

UDA Open Pom Final Rankings

  1. Orange Coast College
  2. University of Central Oklahoma
  3. Minnesota State University Mankato
  4. St. Cloud State University
  5. The College of New Jersey
  6. Northwest Missouri State University
  7. Endicott College
  8. University of California San Diego

UDA Open Hip Hop Final Rankings

  1. University of St. Thomas
  2. University of Puerto Rico Bayamon
  3. Lindenwood University
  4. University of Puerto Rico Carolina
  5. West Chester Universty
  6. St. Joseph’s College
  7. Avila University
  8. University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras
  9. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
  10. Georgia College
  11. Westfield State University

UDA Open Jazz Final Rankings

  1. Lindenwood University
  2. University of St. Thomas
  3. University of Minnesota Duluth
  4. Orange Coast College
  5. University of Central Oklahoma
  6. Minnesota State University Mankato
  7. St. Cloud State University
  8. Grand Canyon University
  9. Avila University
  10. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
  11. Bridgewater State University
  12. Northwest Missouri State University
  13. St. Joseph’s College
  14. College of St. Benedict
  15. The College of New Jersey
  16. University of Puerto Rico Carolina
  17. University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras

Congratulations to all the teams that competed!

2016: A Year in Review

That’s right, I write about stuff besides clothes!

As most of us concluded quite a while ago, 2016 was an awful year.

Just the worst.

Just the worst.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Antonin Scalia, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Arnold Palmer, Leonard Cohen, Alan Thicke, and John Glenn are a small handful of the icons we’ve lost in the last twelve months. Massive terrorist attacks occurred in Nice, Istanbul, Orlando, Brussels, Berlin, and Aleppo. Alligators attacked people at Disney, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti hard, hate crimes and ocean levels are up, and Zika keeps spreading. The presidential election and all the madness that goes along with it happened. Same with Brexit.

My intention for this post wasn’t to be depressing, but a recap seemed necessary, and as I was first drafting this, I learned that Carrie Fisher died.

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. RIP, space mom.

Drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. RIP, space mom.

Yes, 2016 sucked. It started as a pile of hot garbage that turned more and more rancid until it burst into flames in early November and did its very best to consume everything in its path before it burnt out.

Dumpster fire metaphors aside, I think deep down we all know that the year didn’t really do anything to us. It’s not the calendar’s fault that people in power ignored scientific fact in favor of their personal feelings, or that the law decided it was totally cool to sexually assault people as long as you’re a really good swimmer. Logically, we know that the year had nothing to do with it, but it’s so much easier to pretend that it did because as human beings we thrive on having a common enemy to subtweet and whine about on Facebook.

2016 is our scapegoat, and that’s not inherently bad (I much prefer it to mankind’s habit of blaming different ethnic groups throughout history), but it still leaves us with pointless blame. 2016 didn’t end because we called it on its bullshit and held it accountable for its crimes — it ended because that’s what years do.

Bad things happen regardless of the year on the calendar. Sometimes there’s a reason for those things, and sometimes there isn’t, but how we let them affect us is what’s important. I hope we don’t have another year like 2016, but I know we can’t spend another twelve months reacting like we did to 2016.

We’re going to have losses and setbacks and devastation, but we cannot let those define 2017. We fight back, we keep moving, we change the things we can, and we don’t for one second point our fingers at the calendar and blame the number we see. We have to be better than that.

Furthermore, despite corporate greed being seemingly more important than access to safe drinking water, and hundreds of unarmed civilians getting murdered by police in broad daylight, good things did happen in 2016. Every year has its high points, even one that’s basically the Attack of the Clones of its decade.

So much wasted potential.

So much wasted potential.

In 2016, poverty fell at its fastest rate since 1959, veteran homelessness dropped 50% since 2010, and the unemployment rate was down to 4.6%. International negotiators agreed to phase out hydrofluorocarbons to help curb greenhouse gases, 24 countries and the EU decided to establish a 600,000 acre marine reserve in Antarctica, and giant panda and tiger populations are steadily increasing. The US teen graduation rate reached a historic high with Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, low-income, disabled, and English-learning students accounting for 83.2% of the graduation rate as a whole — meanwhile, teen birth rates are down 61% from the early 1990’s.

Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Michael Phelps, and countless others helped team USA bring home 121 medals from Rio, and the Chicago Cubs won the world series for the first time in 108 years. Beyoncé released LemonadeHamilton won 11 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and US and Canadian currency are getting a long overdue diversity makeover.

In 2016, I went to five weddings and saw my friends start new lives with the people that make them the best versions of themselves. Four more friends became parents, and can’t believe how amazing every single day is. This year, the incredible people in my life pushed themselves, faced their fears, earned degrees, changed careers, moved across the country, battled illnesses, made scary decisions, and supported each other.

My year wasn’t perfect, and not everything went according to plan, but that’s how life is. In 2017, I know I’ll need to work a little harder to see the good that’s happening, but if all else fails, I know I can make good happen. Everyone can make good happen. How’s that for a resolution?