Sid Rana’s Day Off: Part I

It’s finally spring as of today, and it feels like it was just yesterday I was writing about the trends you should style for spring/summer 2016.

I would say, “Time flies,” but that is an understatement. My engineer friends who’ve taken (attempted would be a better word) physics will say “Time dilates because t’=ϒt” but neither I, nor you,  have any idea what that means.  A better metaphor would be, “Time is a 200 ton freight train hurtling at maximum velocity towards you with the expectation that you’ll hop on without missing a beat.”

It’s finally spring break again, but this year I’m in college with two midterms coming the week we return to class. If you go to school with me, you’ve probably noticed you’ve never actually seen me enough times to count on both hands because apparently, “I work too much.” Some fun things I’ve heard about myself (all from real WashU students): “I think I see you more on Instagram than in real life.” “OMG Sid! I don’t think I’ve seen you in forever” (that one actually stung because we live in the same dorm). My favorite remark however, comes from this girl who sits next to me in lecture, who upon learning there would be 5-6 PM office hours the Friday beginning spring break turned to me and said, “Why do I feel like you’ll be going to that?” Well, joke’s on her because she’s the one sitting in the second row of a 300 person lecture hall.

Nevertheless, with all of this in mind, yesterday I decided to take a day off. For 24 hours I did not think about school, I was not at school, and I did not see any friends from school. I literally did nothing productive. To ensure I could be as unproductive as possible, I woke up at 6 AM and decided to drive to Columbia, Missouri to surprise my best friend from high school who probably woke up around 8 AM having absolutely no idea I was driving 75 mph down Interstate 70 to come visit her.


The biggest decision to make when spontaneously traveling like this is what to wear. Did you really expect it to be anything else? Normally, when you plan trips you can take a comfortable outfit to wear while driving in the car, maybe a new shirt to change into upon arrival, and then a few outerwear options to wear depending on the weather at your destination. However, when you decide on a whim to leave right this minute, you have to be more efficient. What we need is one outfit which can simultaneously be fashionable for you to stunt on all the new people you meet and bear the brunt of whatever the environment decides to throw at you that day.  The latter is crucial for us, Missourians.

For the readers who have been following Optimal Outfits since our high school days, we have significant experience with the stupidity of Missouri weather. For the readers who have just joined me this year: Missouri weather is stupid, as I’m sure you’ve started to realize. On Thursday, March 9th I wished chemistry allowed wearing shorts to lab because it was so warm outside; on Saturday, March 11th, it snowed in the morning while I gave a tour of campus.

It might seem like there’s no way to look good (and stay warm) if arriving to 9 AM lecture means traversing the Antarctic Tundra, and exiting at 10 AM means experiencing a pleasant spring morning, but we do have one neat trick up our sleeve. When the weather decides to be worse than the first Chem 112 exam, layering is the way to go.

Chapter 11, Section 1: How to Layer

The concept behind layering is simple it’s actually so simple even senior year me figured it out. Our bodies stay warm by creating a “bubble” of warm air around themselves. Clothes aid this by trapping the warm air generated from escaping; naturally, multiple layers benefit this by providing multiple insulating layers.

Wow, that was so enlightening, Sid. Please tell me more about stuff I don’t care about.

My outfit for the day is probably my favorite and/or most worn outfit for chilly days: my white button down (sometimes I rotate my light blue OCBD) underneath a burgundy crew neck sweater. I really enjoy this outfit. It makes me feel like a sophisticated Peter Parker to be honest. I love this outfit so much, I’ve actually forced myself to limit wearing it (and its imitations) only on of Monday/Wednesday/Friday because I’d wear it every day otherwise. To my 9 AM Chem 112, 10 AM Bio 2960, 11 AM Calc III, 12 PM Chem Lab, and 1 PM Spanish lecture/class members: yes, I am that nerdy kid sitting in the second row dressing like he thinks he belongs in a J. Crew lookbook you may/may not have noticed.

Since it was exceptionally cold – and rainy – today, I added my quilted jacket and knitted scarf on top for extra protection from the elements. A year ago, I wrote a short post on why I love this jacket and why you should prefer them to bubble coats (hint: the answer involves Blake Lively), but it’s nice enough to worth reviewing.

From top-bottom: Gap/J. Crew/APC/J. Crew/Gap
The secretary in Jesse Hall gave me a free parking pass. You’re the best Ms. Heather.

I’ve slowly realized I have an unhealthy obsession with jackets. Whether it’s a timeless, black leather jacket or a wool peacoat, outerwear is my favorite part of every outfit because it’s a great way to make a subtle statement without being too overt. This specific jacket I bought on Black Friday two years ago from J. Crew and the only reason I don’t wear it close to 300 days of the year is because St. Louis decides to become hotter and more humid than anything you can imagine. When buying jackets (especially padded winter weather jackets), neutral colors are the best option because they provide the most versatility with whatever combination of pants/shirt/shoes you wear. I really prefer this piece’s grey color because it allows me to wear it with indigo blue and black jeans whereas a navy or black jacket would look best with the former and latter respectively only.

This jacket is as padded as any puffer jacket and still has comparable water resistance despite not having any synthetic linings on the outside. I can attest to the water resistance myself because I once chose to walk 15 minutes from my dorm to the main library on campus in this jacket through Noah’s flood. At the end of my voyage I found my jacket to be dripping wet on the outside, but underneath my clothes looked as if they’d just come out the dryer.

Chapter 11, Section 2: How gay are scarves?

Apparently, wearing scarves as the proprietor of a Y chromosome means you like men; sounds like solid logic to me. Kidding. Scarves are immensely functional in that they keep your neck warm. Bonus: they look alright too. Sometimes the weather blows 15 mph winds straight at your face which causes freezing rain to whack every exposed piece of your exposed skin. That sounds somewhat unappealing to me so I chose to go ahead and wrap my neck up with a scarf. This scarf I bought from Gap while on a short vacation in Chicago over winter break. It’s made of thick, woven cotton which I didn’t think I’d prefer over wool, but it has been surprisingly durable and warm while still being breathable to my surprise. After this experience I definitely would recommend going with cotton over acrylic (synthetic wool) if given the option.

How do I tell them I’m actually freezing cold in this picture?

Despite loving my jacket and being surprised by the functionality of the scarf, the sweater is what makes this outfit for me. This past winter I think I may have bought more sweaters in one season than I have since taking an interest in fashion. Part of that is because I never paid attention to sweaters in high school and another part is because I “discovered” second-hand shopping.

Close up view of the sweater’s texture
Upper half view: APC/J. Crew

The sweater pictured above is from the French company Atelier de Production et de Création, but that sounds super pretentious to say outloud so we’ll call it A.P.C. for short. This design was made for their fall/winter 2015 season which would have made it stupid-expensive to buy that year. However, from the magic of shopping second-hand online, I was able to find a phenomenal deal on this from a private seller and copped it for at least 1/3rd the original price (APC doesn’t do sales so what you see is what you get).

It’s extremely well woven and works well for insulating your body; occasionally if the weather’s not too cold I’ll skip the jacket and just wear the sweater and button down to class, but unfortunately I couldn’t do that today.

The button down is just a regular white, oxford cloth button down (OCBD) I bought from J. Crew Factory on sale during Fall Break.  For it’s price (~$30) it’s served its purpose well, but I’ve realized that I wear it often enough to justify splurging on a slightly nicer upgrade. Who/where/what/where it’ll be from, I’m not sure yet, but I do know that it will occur sometime in the near future.

Specifically, I chose white over light blue today because I feel they complement my white sneakers nicely, while providing a bit more contrast to the upper half of my outfit (contrast is one of my goals in most outfits I wear).

Lower half: Gap/Adidas
When there’s two chem midterms two days after the end of spring break

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I no longer exclusively wear black jeans every single day of the week anymore. *Audible gasp* To be honest, I wore them so much that they wore down at the crotch and I had to have a friend who knows how to work a sewing machine fix them up for me. Since then, I’ve been looking for alternatives which I think I found in these Gap skinny jeans.

The trend in jeans the past few years has been to include some percent of stretch fibers (elastane, spandex usually) into the composition to allow for greater mobility. I believe in 100% cotton jeans (hence the raw denim I used to wear every day), but these have had me slightly question that dogma. Having 100% cotton is pretty soft and after some breaking in, they become a second skin, but holy wow I could probably run marathons in these stretch jeans. I kind of already have experienced working out in these jeans because I have twice realized I had forgotten my calculator in my dorm while standing outside the door to a chem midterm and quiz. You will never experience just how far and fast your legs can move in these jeans until you’re barreling down the 40 trying to make a half mile roundtrip in less than 6 minutes.

Oh, I still wear my basic Adidas white sneakers nearly every day still.

Bonus Rd: Outfit with and without outerwear

Before I go, I’d really like to thank a really great friend of mine, Gracie, for taking some time out of her busy Monday to hang out with me. Like I said earlier, she had no idea I was coming, and I had no idea she had an orgo exam on Wednesday, but she still went photoshooting with me and is the one responsible for these kickass pics. Thanks for the help Gracie, I’ll be sure to remember your role getting me to the top when J Crew calls and asks me to rep them.

Like always, thanks for reading and keep kicking ass with whatever you all are up to.




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