Capsule Wardrobe for a Toddler

The conventional wisdom is that kids need lots of clothes, but I’ve found the opposite is true – we find keeping kids’ clothes to a minimum simplifies laundry, keeping track of clothes, etc. (The same is true for adults’ clothes, too – and dishes, and sheets, and and and…you’d think more is better but it just creates more inventory to manage, as The Minimal Mom says.)

Today I’m sharing our toddler’s “capsule” wardrobe from this past summer to give an idea of just how little your kid(s) might be able to get by with.

For reference, my kid gets dirty pretty regularly and we wash clothes almost daily, thanks to cloth diapers and laundry for four people. If you do laundry less frequently, you can adjust accordingly.

Without further ado, the Toddler Capsule Wardrobe for Summer 2020:

2 sets of jammies
4 short-sleeved t-shirts
3 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of lightweight pants
1 long-sleeved t-shirt
A bunch of socks (including my favorite pink ones with the pink John Deere t-shirt and the purple socks with the tie-dye shirt)

Not pictured:
1 sweater not pictured
1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of sandals
1 pink John Deere ball cap for sun protection

Plus 2 pairs of pants and 2 vintage John Deere t-shirts as backup at daycare, including this gem (with some soup on it, pre-laundry):

(Can you tell we are a John Deere family? My uncles farm with them/sell them.)

Everything goes together (more or less), and almost all of this was inherited from our daughter. I thrifted the sloth pajamas and was excited not to have to buy anything more for this stage.

My spouse, however, was a bit skeptical about whether this would stretch far enough – it does look a bit sparse in the drawer! But I persuaded him to give it a try, and we never ran out of clean clothes (as long as we remember to check the dryer/clean clothes hamper, ha).

If you’re nervous about making it work here’s how to try it out without committing:

  1. determine the number of clothes you think will get your kid through a few wash cycles;
  2. pick their/your favorites until you reach that number;
  3. put the rest in a box someplace out of sight and inconvenient to access so you won’t be tempted to break it open and will be forced to go check the dryer and the clean clothes hamper first :)

I have since thrifted a few pairs of toddler pants for the coming cold, but I shouldn’t have even bothered because our friends just dropped off a grocery bag full of clothes passed on from their youngest, all in great shape and many that fit my kid right now. Hurray! Now to get my older kid to go through her clothes before the in-person portion of elementary school starts… she has a lot more opinions about clothing than the baby does :)

If you have little people at home, do you have a minimal or capsule wardrobe for them? If you haven’t tried it out yet, would you ever consider it?

 

Two Tricks for Feeling Like Your Closet is “Enough”

Want to feel like your wardrobe is enough? Here are two tricks to help you feel content with your closet instead of itching to shop (thrift or otherwise!):

1) Download a free closet app (or pay for a fancy one!) and go create a new outfit every time you get the urge to shop.

It takes some time on the front end to photograph and upload your clothes (or find similar images online), but for me it’s worth the creative charge I get from playing around with potential looks – and it helps me remember that great outfit idea I had right before falling asleep. (What, you don’t think about fun ways to wear your clothes to help you drop off to dreamland?)

Alternately, you could write down possible outfit combos – or draw them!

2) Write down everything in your wardrobe, grouping by categories (e.g. jeans, dress pants, long sleeve tees, warm sweaters, etc.). Something about seeing that list growing longer and longer as I tally up my clothes definitely switches my mindset from “not enough” to “Wow, I have a lot! Maybe even too much!”

Bonus level: write down everything in your closet from memory. Now go look through your actual hangers, drawers, and shelves to see how well you remembered the contents. And here’s the kicker: donate whatever you couldn’t remember! Because if you couldn’t recall it was there…do you really like/need/wear it?

The donate part is hard core and I didn’t do it because I forgot one of my favorite/most versatile blazers, ha! But even if you don’t donate forgotten items, it helps you realize you have great stuff you don’t even think about, leading to instant improvement in wardrobe satisfaction.

(Hat tip to The Minimal Mom for the “from memory” part. She has lots of great ideas for culling extra clothes from your closet.)

What are your best tips to keep yourself from adding to an already-sufficient wardrobe?

An Odd Tip for Avoiding Impulse Buys Online

If you shop secondhand online, you’ve probably bought something you later regretted; perhaps the color wasn’t as it appeared on your monitor, or maybe the fit was off in a way that taking your measurements didn’t account for.

Sometimes the reason we regret an online purchase is simply that we shouldn’t have bought it at all – we didn’t need it or love it, but we were seduced by the thrill of having found something unique or nabbing a sought-after item at a great price. After all, when you can search thousands of people’s closets with just a few clicks, you’re presented with far more possibilities than provided at your average thrift store.

So this tip for avoiding bad secondhand buys online is a bit counterintuitive:

Ask yourself if you would buy this in a thrift store.

This seems illogical; after all, the reason you’re interested in that “perfect” striped shirt from Current/Elliott is because you’d likely never find it in your local thrift store – and if you did, you’d snap it up as an amazing find. And why else are you looking online if not to find a very specific piece or standout stuff that makes your local thrift scene look anemic?

But weirdly, it works – for me at least.

I think that’s because I’m actually used to finding great stuff at the thrift store – and used to saying “no” to it, because I know from experience that a great find isn’t really a great find if it’s not actually my style/doesn’t fit *just* right/is a weird color I never wear. Thrifting for me has become a rather choosy undertaking – I have high standards and know what I’m looking for, and if I don’t find it, I can leave emptyhanded and come back another time.

I also know from experience that items that seem like I’ll NEVER find them again often do crop up again at the thrift store – not always, but often. And that’s doubly true online where the inventory is greatly multiplied.

So when I’ve found the “perfect” pink trench coat on Poshmark, for a very reasonable price, I stop for a minute and imagine it on the racks at the thrift store. Would it be an immediate “nab this and try it on”? Or would it fall into “eh” territory, or “it would be great if it were just a little different” territory, or “I have too many pink coats already” territory? If so, I “like” it so I can come back to enjoy it later, and move on.

Everyone says a good rule for thrifting is to ask yourself if you would pay full price for an item with a cheap price tag on it – and that’s a good strategy. But I’ve found that the reverse thought experiment is true, too – would I spend $6 on this $45 eBay listing, given how often I’ve learned that spending $6 on something is no guarantee I’ll wear it?

 

How do you keep from making impulse buys online?

The Best Advice for Creating a Beautifully Minimal Closet?

I’ve been trying to find a phrase or an idea that will help me narrow down my wardrobe. It’s not that my collection of clothes is too big, per se…I just have this curiosity about winnowing it down to a handful(ish) of things I love and wear all the time instead of always scanning the thrift store/online secondhand scene for items in another of “my” colors just to have more to play with.

I think this curiosity stems from times when I’ve had a very, very small wardrobe – maternity wear, for example, or travel wardrobes – and actually enjoyed the simplicity of repeating favorite outfits and the satisfaction of putting together each outfit just so, like a puzzle with interlocking parts slotting into place.

I’m part of a minimalism group on Facebook that frequently talks about downsizing your closet, and you better believe that that group has a million and one strategies for helping you weed out less-than-stellar wardrobe pieces:

  • Calculate the number of days you need to wear a certain category of clothing (casual, fancy, workout, work, etc.), then pick the number of items in each category you need for those days and donate the rest
  • Empty your closet/armoire and only return your favorites; donate the rest. If that feels hard or you get a bad case of the “what ifs” (what if I need it for X occasion? what if I miss it?), quarantine everything in a box; if you really do want something in the box, you’ll get it out. Donate everything you haven’t retrieved after 3 or 6 months without opening the box.
  • Determine the number of shirts/pants/etc. you can comfortably fit in a given drawer/closet rack/shelf; donate the rest (this is the “container” idea from Dana White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life)
  • Turn all your hangers one way, then as you wear items, turn the hanger the other way; at the end of the month/season/year, donate whatever hasn’t been turned
  • Figure out a clear personal style and color palette; chuck everything that falls outside those parameters
  • Donate anything you bought for your “fantasy self” and never wear – even if you love the item
  • If there’s one thing you don’t love about it – fit, color, weird flappy sleeve things that constantly get in your way – donate it, even if you love everything else about it
  • This one is more maintenance but still helpful to many – the one in, one out rule: if you bring in something new to you, donate something old
  • And finally, Marie Kondo’s infamous “Does it spark joy?”

I’ve tried many of these and, as noted above, they have resulted in a very reasonable wardrobe – one with a clear personal style, clear color palette, no fantasy pieces, and where everything fits in the spaces I have to store clothes. Yet I have definite favorites I wear all the time, and runners-up that I like to play with but could probably live without. And so I’m still curious – would I love my closet even more if it were just the favorites, no runners up? Would it also focus my thrifting so I’d only be buying “perfect” (for me) items to fill an occasional hole rather than adding more runners up just for the sake of variety?

I wanted a neat little phrase to help me get in this mindset, but everything I thought of – favorites vs. runners up, A+ vs. B-, Life’s too short to wear clothes you don’t love – felt clunky or trite. Then I read Olga of Intellectual Minimalist‘s thoughts on this:


Olga is a decidedly neutrals-loving minimalist, very classic/Scandi-cool, with great shots of the details that make a simple outfit special and great advice for creating a minimal wardrobe. The first tip she shared here ^^ jumped out at me:

Only ideal items, no compromises.

There it was – my wardrobe-culling mantra. For whatever reason, realizing some of my clothes felt like “compromises” allowed me to let them go without a second thought: bye sailor pants whose wide leg silhouette I love but that keeps slipping down with no way to belt it. Bye Zara men’s trousers whose slubby chambray texture and actually accommodating pockets I adore but that are too long and chafe my hip bones. Bye gold pleated top I used to wear for special occasions but the armpits of which are no longer metallic. Et cetera.

I’m excited to apply this mantra to thrifting new-to-me pieces, too. I’m sure I’ll still occasionally thrift things that are wacky and fun or that feel fresh – I don’t mind paying $6 for something that will spice up my wardrobe for a month or two or help me experiment with a new style. But hopefully this mantra will allow me to let go of those temporary pieces of clothing candy when the time comes and to bypass imperfect pieces when I’m trying to fill a main course closet gap. (Candy vs. main course – have a I mixed enough metaphors now?)

Stay tuned for an eventual post on my (even more) curated wardrobe of ideals, no compromises.

 

What wardrobe mantra do you use to keep your closet at a reasonable volume of stuff you love?

Thrifting Mistakes, Instagram Edition

We make thrifting mistakes for all kinds of reasons: we’re lured in by cheap price tags and seemingly irreplaceable deals; we buy it for our fantasy lives instead of our real lives; it fit in the store but wearing it for more than 5 minutes reveals that those pants ride down faster than a screaming teenager strapped into the Tower of Terror.

I’ve made all those and more; but my latest thrifting mistakes revolve around dressing for Instagram instead of for me.

I’ve written previously about how the neutral-happy IG aesthetic sucked my color-loving self in; this time, it wasn’t color so much as style. I see something that looks amazing on Instagram, clothing that’s of-the-moment – and looks really good on the person wearing them! – and I decide I should get one, too.

Like this excellent blue plaid double-breasted blazer on Signe of Use Less:

 

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I’d been eyeing the plaid/houndstooth double-breasted trend but all the renditions I’d seen were brown/black/red – colors outside my palette. But Signe’s version was right up my alley – so I went looking for my own. Her Ganni blazer was secondhand but I couldn’t find it secondhand in my size/price point.

This is where I learned about Depop – a clothing marketplace app that’s visually like Instagram and home to a younger, more vintage-y crowd than, say, Poshmark. The perfect place to find a unique version of a trend:

 

Isn’t it awesome? A custom made, completely unique plaid blazer secondhand for $35.

But…it was a little big – just a tad beyond oversized. And it looked funky unbuttoned – it’s hard to see in that righthand photo, because I chose the shot where it was most disguised, but the big overlap of a double-breasted blazer almost gives you wings when it’s unbuttoned. They kind of flop around or drape on themselves – notice where it’s all bunched up near my left shoulder? Plus it had more yellow in the plaid than the Depop listing showed, making it more of an “autumn” color combo than a Light Summer one.

It might have looked better if it had been more fitted, but it might also just be that double-breasted blazers aren’t for me and I got sucked into something that other people made look cool.

 

Here’s Instagram-inspired mistake number two: a grandpa cardigan. Awesome on Orla Sheridan:

 

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Also awesome on me, in this pink Nordstrom version I got secondhand on Poshmark:

I actually really love how this looks, and it’s super easy to throw on over whatever I have underneath. But it has two problems: despite how it looked on Poshmark, the color is more Bright Winter than Light Summer – a bright, slightly purplish pink that’s outside my color palette and washes me out a bit. I did look up several pictures from various sellers and asked which showed the color most true-to-life to try to avoid that color mismatch, but when shopping online, sometimes it happens.

With the other problem I should’ve known better: it’s 100% acrylic, which always feels artificial to me, and which started pilling not long after I got it. Boo.

It’s still in my closet for now, because I haven’t had much luck with cardigans lately and I’d like a layer to be able to throw on over lighter stuff when the weather gets cool. But I honestly don’t reach for cardigans that often – I’ve had trouble finding the perfect one, plus I don’t have many thin base layers and I hate trying to squeeze cardigan sleeves over sleeves that invariably scrunch up (that’s something the balloon sleeves on this did a good job avoiding).

I’m thinking about just going a fall/winter without a cardigan at all, relying instead on my bajillion blazers and on sweaters with short-sleeve tees underneath. Anyone else already do this?

 

What thrifting or clothing mistakes have you made under the influence of what’s trendy or what looked good on someone else?

My Current Color Palette

Pretty much everybody who writes about building capsule or edited wardrobes recommends that you start by choosing a color palette.

Some of my favorite posts on this topic, also included in the recently updated “Resources” page: Anuschka ReesUse Less; oodles of examples you just might want to steal on The Vivienne Files 

Choosing a limited number of colors to focus on goes a long way to narrowing down your clothes to a manageable amount that plays well together (aka a capsule wardrobe), and helps you hone your shopping when you want to fill a wardrobe hole or augment what you already have. Color theory goes a long way towards ensuring the colors you choose actually work together; the first two posts linked above will help you get your head around the basic principles.

Seasonal color analysis (aka finding “your” colors) also hinges on color theory, and if you choose to get analyzed (and the analyst is skilled enough to get it right!), you’ll automatically end up with a color palette that goes well with your natural coloring. Here’s mine from my personal color analysis:

See that “three dimensions of color” chart at the bottom? That’s color theory at work – all these colors share about the same level of hue (warm to cool – or in artist speak, yellow to blue), value (light to dark), and chroma (soft to bright – more or less muted). And that’s why they all look good together.

But that’s still a lot of colors to choose from. And while they technically go together, you might not personally love every combo these colors can make. Maybe you hate green or love neutrals or don’t want to look like an Easter egg.

I mean… (and yes, that pink is more bright winter than light summer…the perils of thrifting online where colors in photos can be deceiving)

So a lot of color palette advice suggests narrowing it down to a few core colors, a few neutrals, and maybe an accent or two. Like this:

Ta-da!

This is a general approximation of the colors I’m currently using in my wardrobe – I eyeballed them from the color-picker on my graphics maker. (And of course monitor colors vary – so if these don’t look precisely Light Summer to you, that’s why!)

Most of the clothes in my wardrobe are pink, blue, or green – with a good dose of neutral-friendly white, gray, and a purply-grey sometimes called faded wine (?? I didn’t make it up…). There are just a few items, like the shoes or pants above, that are purple or yellow, which end up giving a little visual interest to my basic color palette:

 

Personal color analysis did most of the work here for me, but narrowing down my color palette even further has kept me from trying to thrift pants or shirts in every color of my Light Summer palette. And committing to some neutrals, as a wise commenter suggested early in this process, has helped me avoid looking like an Easter egg – except when I want to :)

Do you have a color palette for your wardrobe? Does it help you thrift better/maintain a more coherent closet? Or do you go for whatever color strikes your fancy?

 

Thrifting in a Pandemic

There are, of course, so many more important issues to be working on right now than what’s in our closets. (Hello COVID-19, dismantling white supremacy, preserving GLBTQ rights, the national mental health crisis, voter suppression, natural disasters, and and and…)

But taking a page from JVN’s wise words about the new season of Queer Eye, maybe thrifting is a bit of a refuge in the strange and hard landscape we live in, a place where you can be creative and have fun and recharge your batteries so you can keep doing that crucial work for justice, sanity, and everyone’s well-being.

So if that’s the case for you… let’s talk thrifting in a pandemic.

Many thrift stores are open now – hurray! – but their fitting rooms aren’t. What’s a thrifter to do?

If you’ve been thrifting for awhile and you’ve gotten good at eyeballing fit, you’re in good shape. It’s such a helpful skill given that the size printed on a tag doesn’t really tell you much about how a piece of clothing will fit your body.

Here are all the things I’ve thrifted during this pandemic that I wasn’t able to try on but that fit beautifully anyway:

Why yes, that is a new with tags Ann Taylor blouse and some J. McLaughlin lemon yellow jeans that retail for close to $100.

But what if you haven’t honed that skill yet, or if you don’t feel comfortable shopping in person yet (or your local stores aren’t open)? Don’t worry – just get out your tape measure.

Knowing your measurements allows you to successfully buy secondhand in person and online. Simply get out your best-fitting shirt, pants, dress, skirt, etc., and measure the key bits: shoulders, bust, waist, hips, hem, inseam. Note these down on your phone or a piece of paper and head to the thrift store with a portable tape measure to measure promising clothes in the aisle – or head to your favorite online secondhand site and ask sellers to share measurements (if they aren’t already listed). Don’t feel like you’re inconveniencing a seller by asking for this – it’s basic groundwork sellers will do if they want people to buy their stuff, because sizes vary so much across brands (and even across styles and years within the same brand).

 

Are you thrifting in person? Only online? A mix? Can you eyeball a good fit, or is that something you’re still working on? Do you bring a tape measure with you to the thrift store?

 

Friday ReBlog: My Current Favorite Minimalism and Style People

Long time no see, fellow thrifters! Turns out life with two little kids and a full-time job is…well… full! In lots of good ways, but also in ways that don’t leave much time for long-form creative pursuits.

These days I’m more likely to have time for an Instagram post. To get a more regular fix, you can find outfit pics and thrift finds at www.instagram.com/thriftshopchic. (You can also see my latest IG posts – at least the picture part – on the sidebar at right.)

But I did want to pop in here to share a few resources I’ve been really enjoying lately.

First up, in the category of simplifying your home, closet, and life (aka minimalism), there’s The Minimal Mom on YouTube. Dawn has a sunny, down-to-earth personality with loads of pithy questions and game-changing shifts in perspective to help you get rid of all the stuff (literal and metaphorical) that gets in the way of how you want to spend your time and energy. She’s married with four kids and thus knoweth of what she speaketh re: streamlining your life.

Oh! And her house has color in it! Rare for minimalist types with an online presence.

Read the comments on this post for great tips on simplifying your closet.

Then, in the category of personal style inspiration, are two people who’ve put some thought into a small wardrobe with COLOR.

Remember when I thought I could/should fit into the IG capsule wardrobe look where everything is neutral? Ha:

 

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Orla Sheridan is an Irish stylist who shops retail but very thoughtfully, encouraging her clients and followers to only buy pieces they can see themselves wearing at least thirty times. (If that number seems really low…like we should be wearing well-made pieces for 30 YEARS instead of 30 times…well yes, we should. But since the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothes each year, I think aiming for 30 wears is a good step in the right direction for many of us.)

What I like about Orla’s style is the clean, unfussy lines paired with beautiful colors. She looks current but not overly trendy; patterns are well-chosen and not too visually distracting; and she does oversize blazers SO well.

Signe at Uselesswardrobe.dk is similarly skilled at blazers. Personally, she tends toward the neutral cool-girl aesthetic, but she did us color-lovers a solid and made a color-heavy capsule wardrobe I can’t stop staring at (I even bookmarked it for easy reference #stylenerd):

    

All the heart-eye emojis for this smorgasbord of color! I would wear almost all these outfits (especially if that mustard sweater magically morphed into more of a lemon shade of yellow).

Signe is also doing a “low buy” challenge for 2020 as a way to push back against the consumerism of influencer-driven style climate. Because, speaking of climate, she is committed to sustainability via secondhand and ethical shopping. (Watch this delightful thrift-with-me video!) I’m joining her in this challenge (hashtag: #2020wehaveplenty, awww, it rhymes) because I realize how often in the last year I’ve used perusing Poshmark or Etsy as a way to kill time and how much I’ve ended up buying (even secondhand/vintage/handmade) as a result. Time to take a break!

That’s all for now, folks – hope your year is off to a great start!

 

 

Thrifting Current Trends

One reason you might hesitate to thrift is the worry that you’re going to look dated. I mean, if everyone is donating their worn-out (or never-worn, sitting in the back of the closet for years) stuff, aren’t thrift stores just full of clothes that are out of style?

Short answer: nope. And there are a couple of reasons why – both negative and positive.

First up, the sad trombone: fast fashion has made retail clothing so cheap it’s become disposable. Consumers can afford to buy a pair of kick flare jeans – that’s trendy speak for cropped & flared jeans that make you look like you had an overnight growth spurt ca. 2000 – decide they don’t like them, and donate them two weeks later. Then you find them new with tags or barely worn at the thrift store while they’re still on sale at the retailer. Not great for the planet or for workers who aren’t paid a living wage to make the clothes; but if you happen to like a current style, it’s a way you can give those items a new life instead of sending them straight to the landfill.

Behold, new with tags J. Crew light-blue-and-white striped button down. This style was making the style blogger rounds this past fall, and I thrifted mine just a week after I saw it on Instagram:

Poshmark and eBay are great for this – I saw this floral midi dress in Target, stalked it on eBay, and found it a month or so later, in time to wear in the warm-weather portion of my pregnancy:

 

Second, on a happier note: everything old is new again, so if you are thrilled to see spaghetti straps and choker necklaces make a comeback, head to the thrift store and see what 90s (or older) treasures have recently made there way to the sales floor. Your vintage finds will look on trend but also unique, because you’re not buying the mass market current version.

I give you the oversized blazer trend, in a unique vintage pinstripe style instead of the houndstooth or glen plaid I see everywhere:

And the wide-stripe shirt trend, still for sale online at J. Crew:

which I first saw styled (and fell in love with) on Frances Ayme:

 

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My 100% cotton vintage version has long sleeves; I could keep it that way for cooler weather or decide to chop the sleeves for a hot weather look:

 

There’s also always the option to DIY a current trend out of a thrift store find. It wouldn’t be hard to take a pair of scissors to some seriously flared jeans and make your own kick flares, for example, or, if you have sewing skills, to turn a giant muumuu into an off-the-shoulder maxi dress.

What current trends have you thrifted? Were they new-with-tags, or vintage-turned-trend?

 

 

Turning Style Inspiration into Real Life Outfits – Using Clothes Already in Your Closet

Not long after I gave birth, I decided I wanted to recreate a favorite pre-pregnancy outfit formula: a white blouse under a blazer over slim pants. I was thrilled to be making my way back to some of my old standbys and knew that finding a white top that fit my postpartum chest (hello breastfeeding!) would allow me to wear blazers both old and newly thrifted, because who cares if they don’t button? Worn over maternity pants (and eventually regular pants), this combo would slide me back into my style groove.

So I went thrifting and found this Uniqlo tunic-style top:

Lovely, yes? But then I got home and opened my drawers and realized that I could have created a very similar look using this long-sleeved white J. Jill tee from my maternity wardrobe:

Sure, there would have been no interesting collar, but I planned to cover the collar up with a fun scarf anyway; same with the 3/4 length sleeves to be covered by the blazer. And yes, the split hem on the tunic had more personality than the tee’s straight hem, but I could easily fake that by tucking in the front of the tee and letting the back hang out, like this:


Ta-da!

This lightbulb moment has inspired me to take other looks I’ve been lusting after and recreate them with pieces already hanging in my closet instead of buying something new to make it happen – a particular temptation when following style influencers whose job, after all, is to try to get you to click on affiliate links. I’m scouring Poshmark or eBay instead of clicking retail links, of course, but I’d still rather get creative than consume. Because at its heart, that’s what thrifting is all about.

So here’s how I’ve been flexing the recreate-the-look-without-shopping muscle:

Catalogue your inspirationI do this in two places: Instagram, by saving images of IG outfits I love; and Pinterest, by saving images from the wider web to an inspiration board. This way I can easily refer back to a look without scratching my brain, trying to remember where I saw something or what I liked about it – or just obsessing about the one piece that stuck in my mind.

Zoom out. Instead of finding out exactly where pieces are from and obsessively tracking them on online secondhand platforms (guilty…), I try to take a broader view and figure out the general strokes of the outfit – e.g. fitted sweater + loose pants + short boot, or long skirt + floral blouse tucked in – and brainstorm what I have that could fit those slots. (Scroll down for real-life examples.) Then…

-Zoom in. Maybe I don’t need to replicate the entire look – maybe it’s just a styling detail I love and can apply to items I already have. Rolling a cuff, tucking in a pocket square, inverting a collar, or pairing sneakers with an otherwise dressy outfit – any dressy outfit, not just the one in the photo I admire – can all transform an outfit’s vibe.

Okay, let’s see how this works in real life:

Look 1
This is the first look I really thought I could replicate; my success with it propelled me to try others.

Inspiration: Keila Tirado-Leist

 

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Zoom out:
Blue-and-white striped button down shirt + dark blue puffer vest + plaid blanket scarf

Zoom in:
While I have a dark blue puffer vest and I want a white-background plaid blanket scarf, I realized that what I’m really drawn to in this look is the white and medium blue stripes on the shirt. So often striped shirts are white and black or white and deep navy blue, both of which feel too stark for my color palette; this variety, though, is just luminous.

My Take:

In the shirt slot, I could probably have used a solid, luminous medium-blue button down shirt I already own, but it doesn’t fit my current chest (thanks breastfeeding!). So when I spotted a new-with-tags J. Crew version at the thrift store that did fit, I “cheated” a little and bought it, then paired it with the dark blue vest I already had. Success!

 

Look 2

The Inspiration:


Garance Doré via Pinterest

Zoom out:
Colorful head wrap + light neutral blazer over light blue shirt + pocket square + sunglasses

Zoom in:
I do love a good head wrap (what is the right term for this??) but I think what really does it for me here is the dark pocket square in a light neutral blazer; it reminds me of the numerous well-dressed Southern men I encountered when living in Atlanta and how they embraced light neutral suits and played with color.

My take:

I grabbed one of my grandma’s vintage handkerchiefs and folded it so the corners stuck up, then tucked it into the pocket of my blazer. I haven’t been as drawn to my white blazer this year as I was last year (maybe because it got so much wear??), but I’m sure it will look just as good if I decide to try to replicate the inspiration photo more closely.

 

Look 3
Also in the scarf category – neckerchiefs!

The Inspiration: Adele from Simple Life Musings does this look on the regular:

 

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Zoom out:

White tee + scarf tied at the neck. It feels fresh and fun, and it’s a great way to accessorize an otherwise plain shirt and vary your look using whatever scarves you already own.

Zoom in:
I love the monochromatic + red look on Adele, but don’t like it for me. So I didn’t particularly strive to replicate the color scheme/other details, although I did decide to go for a layering piece, swapping the cardigan for a blazer.

My take:

I rolled and tied another handkerchief from my grandma (this one’s a map of the United States!) around my neck instead of using it as a pocket square. Since the scarf-at-the-neck thing is a big current trend, it’s an instant update. Success!

 

Look 4

Inspiration:


Orla Sheridan on Instagram (swipe to the 7th photo)

Zoom out:
Solid pink blazer over white tee + light blue jeans + pink velvet pumps

The shoes could be classed several ways for our purposes: pink shoes of any kind, particularly in a different shade from the blazer; velvet shoes of any kind for a pop of texture; heels of any kind as contrast to the casualness of the rest of the look, etc.

Zoom in:
I love the velvet heels and the monochromatic contrast – and could have recently snapped up pink Keds in my size at the Goodwill to fill the “pink shoes” slot – but I decided that what I really liked about this look was the combination of solid pink-white-blue up top and how the blazer elevated an otherwise casual look. Thus…

My take:

I used my existing pink blazer (hi, that’s in almost every look here…), white tee mentioned at the beginning of the post, light blue jeans with a very similar cut, and block-heel shoes which, although not pink, added just as much interest thanks to their metallic weave. Bam!

 

Which look is your favorite? Are there any looks that inspire you and that you could recreate from things already in your closet?