Looking for Retail Finds Secondhand – Should I?

If you don’t count the odd trip to Kohl’s to help the Spouse buy pants, I haven’t been in a retail clothing store in probably…15 years.* I’ve gotten so used to thrift stores as my primary source of clothing that it doesn’t even occur to me to look in retail stores, let alone lust after the clothing therein. Don’t get me wrong – when I first went off of retail cold turkey, it was hard to walk into a Target for some other shopping need and just pass by the clothing section. They had cuuuute stuff, and even on a tight budget I felt like some of it was affordable. (Isn’t that how people end up with overflowing shopping carts at Target? Their stuff is all affordable – even $150 worth of it!) I had to learn to peel my eyes away from the racks and content myself with the occasional underwear or sock purchase (both items that are hard to find – at least hygienically – at thrift stores).

I still shop at Target (Tar-zhay, yes?) for laundry detergent, toilet paper, art supplies for my kid, etc. And while I now find some of the clothing on their racks to be in the fugly zone (cold shoulder tops – why? cheap lace in blah muted palettes that look like the 70s threw up – why?), they definitely have upped the chic factor with some of their newer brands. Evidence: see the Queer Eye episode where Tan France takes a dad on a budget to Target to spruce up his wardrobe. I generally still walk on past the clothing sections – mostly out of habit, but also out of the knowledge that it’s just easier not to have to talk myself out of something attractive.

But a few months ago a top just happened to catch my eye – it was the most gorgeous emerald green color, with gloriously large pink poppies scattered jauntily throughout. And lo and behold, it was a perfect match for my Light Summer color palette. (Yes, I tend to carry my color swatches around with me – you never know when the opportunity to thrift will present itself!) Instead of trying to justify a retail purchase (or two), I tried on both a top and a dress to see which size fit me, and mentally committed to tracking them down secondhand, once someone else had bought and then decided to resell them.

So I saved a few searches on eBay and checked in regularly with Poshmark. I kept seeing the longer-sleeved top show up, and both the tank and the dress in not-my-size; but after a few months the dress popped up in my size on eBay and I hit “buy now.”

Ta-da:

Slightly less dorky pose:

It’s very… ladylike? I feel like I could be off to a garden party, or tea. The tie at the waist makes it look pulled together, while the collarless neck balances out the ruffled shoulders, keeping the froufy- to-chic ratio in check. And the whole thing, made out of nice-ish quality polyester, feels light and floaty in this hot weather. I am a fan.

I’m still on the hunt for the longline tank, as it will go great with white or pink bottoms and look fab under my white blazer when it starts to cool down a bit. This is it from the back (yes this comes in a skirt, too, but as I haven’t (yet) gotten on the midi skirt wagon I feel safe saying no to that part):

So here’s what I’ve been chewing on with all of this spotting-a-retail-find-then-stalking-it-online business:

Is it really that different from buying something retail?

I was sort of shocked by how quickly items from this collection turned up in secondhand online sites – maybe just a few weeks after I saw them in store? – with “brand new” or “worn once” on the listings.

(I don’t quite get it – why did the original purchaser (OP) not just return the item if it was still for sale in stores? Had this collection already been marked down and OP figured they’d get more money by selling online? Did they not live near a Target, ordered online, and then not want to pay return shipping – or maybe Target doesn’t take online returns? Or was the OP just really honest and, after having worn it out once but not loving it, they didn’t feel they could rightly return it to the store? Anyone out there who’s done a quick turnaround, retail-to-online secondhand please enlighten us!)

Whatever the case, buying something that fresh from the retail racks, for almost retail price (once you pay shipping), and calling it “thrifting” feels a little disingenuous.

I suppose it would help if I knew the piece I was buying had had a nice long life with someone else first – although in a sense I’m still saving it from a landfill or from sitting unworn in the back of someone’s closet for years. After all, plenty of people who decide to make the transition to a slimmed-down wardrobe give away brand-new-with-tags items and I definitely want reselling to be a more attractive option than dumping them.

But if I can go buy fast fashion at a big box store and turn right around and sell it for (almost) as much as I paid for it, doesn’t that just fuel the fast fashion cycle – the sense that I can continue to buy clothing I don’t really love or won’t really wear because I know there’s enough of a market for it to keep me in the habit? (You could probably make the argument that any online secondhand shopping, where the OP gets paid instead of merely receiving a tax-deductible receipt, fuels this cycle.)

I should note that I don’t feel bad about this particular purchase because the wait to find my size gave me ample time to confirm I loved and would wear this piece for many years to come, instead of trying to talk myself into something cheaper but mediocre at the thrift store. (That’s one of the pros/cons about secondhand shopping online – you pay more, but you can find exactly what you want, thus increasing the chance you’ll end up with a juicy cost-per-wear ratio and really getting the most out of your find.)

I don’t particularly want to make a habit out of spotting retail items and stalking them online – I guess it just feels more desire- and consumption-driven than need-driven. (“Need” being relative – filling a wardrobe hole here in the first world is much more often a want than a true need.)

What do you all think? Do you ever buy things secondhand that are still hot off the retail racks? Do you stay away from it for a particular reason?

 

*Wait – there was that one time I went to Old Navy to see in person if a new color of their Pixie Pant was in my color palette – so I could try to find it secondhand online, of course.

The Current State of My Closet

Now that we’ve lived in New England for almost a year, I thought you might enjoy a peek inside my closet situation.

If you recall, in Atlanta our closet was a master bathroom that had been opened up into a walk-in. The shower/toilet was TINY, but the closet was glorious. Here’s just half of it:

My stuff went on the right, with dresses/skirts on one side of the shelf divider and blazers and blouses on the other, top and bottom. (Spouse’s stuff went in the section you see directly in front of you.)

In our current home, there is a small-ish closet in the biggest bedroom (where we are), and a walk-in in the guestroom, which was probably designed as the master but we wanted the better lighting/more room that came with our current spot. So all the spouse’s hanging stuff, and all my “in season” hanging stuff, go in the closet in our bedroom:

 

And all my “out of season” hanging stuff, or things I just haven’t gotten around to wearing for this season, go in the guestroom closet:

It’s a good way to not overload the closet I use most – and to keep track of things I haven’t “reached for” yet this season.

Trousers, tees, shorts, and sweaters (plus PJs and workout clothes) go in the armoire:


Pretty sure I need to pare down my pants collection…

Yes, this makes me realize I have way more clothing than someone like, say, Anna from The Anna Edit. Part of me would love a more streamlined wardrobe; and part of me is just fine with having extras with which I can play and pad my favorites.

(I should note I’m super streamlined in my casual wardrobe – I wear the same 6ish things over and over again and have kept them several seasons. Just check out any time I’m wearing shorts on Instagram for proof. It’s more workwear where my style tends to evolve and what looks stylish doesn’t always translate to practical that I have more fluff.)

Which makes me wonder – if I lived in Europe (or some other locale without built-in closets), would I naturally have fewer clothes – and hopefully better chosen ones? In other words, would I make better use of my closet real estate? Anyone who has lived in this situation, please weigh in!

Embracing Color and Saying No to Neutrals on Instagram (aka Swimming Upstream)

I mentioned a few months back that part of what I was looking forward to about my new Light Summer color palette was embracing color again:

This palette made me realize that I had let myself get seduced by the neutral-heavy palette of minimalist Instagram style mavens. Although there’s a lot to be said for playing with texture and silhouette within a very muted, narrow palette, I came to recognize it just didn’t feel like me. (One of my favorite shirts is bright blue snake print, for Pete’s sake!) When I posted a muted peach skirt on Instagram asking for color suggestions to dye it, someone suggested “rust!” with enthusiasm and I just wanted to run the other way.

It’s been a breath of fresh air leaning back into color with this new color palette and embracing PATTERN beyond just a neutral stripe or dot. (Can you tell how happy those floral pants make me?) I’m excited to share more with you as I finish building my spring/summer wardrobe – whenever spring finally arrives!!

If you scroll through my Instagram feed (on the righthand sidebar, or at www.instagram.com/thriftshopchic), you’ll see I’ve run straight into the arms of the Light Summer color wheel and have barely looked back. Although I wisely followed advice posted early into this journey and got myself some neutrals to pair with my newly found multi-hued treasures, those neutrals have been mostly white and denim/chambray. When I’ve tried to jive with the minimalist-inspired style Instagrammers, the pieces just haven’t worked out. (See the first two rejects in this post.) They feel too…muted for me now.

But I realized a few weeks back that my Instagram feed wasn’t reflecting my rediscovered enthusiasm for color. I was still following cool girls with a heavily edited, highly stylized neutral aesthetic – partially because neutrals tend to make great capsule wardrobes, and partly because the ethical brands I want to, at least in theory, support seem to be allergic to color. (What’s the deal, Eileen Fisher & friends? Give us some rainbows already!)

I will always love the sight of a chic, slimmed-down wardrobe (like this one who is starting to introduce some color to her closet or this one, who isn’t and that’s fine). It makes me unaccountably happy to gaze at a thoughtful, selective wardrobe where you can see all the pieces and dream of future outfit combos – I guess because it exudes contentment: “This is more than enough and I’m happy with it.” Wardrobe goals, as the kids say.

And people who love color? Well, on Instagram at least, they tend to be maximalist rather than minimalist. A few folks I’ve followed recently have a great time with color but do so through repeated trips to outlets and/or internet sales. Splurging on retail ain’t really my thing – and honestly, giant thrift hauls aren’t, either. How do people keep track of/wear so many pieces? To each their own level of wardrobe volume, I suppose!

But if I can skip over the shopping aspect of how folks arrive at their cute looks (hint: don’t watch Instastories!), I find myself a lot more inspired, and having a lot more fun, following color-filled accounts. They rarely convince me to go hunt for specific pieces – I just enjoy the aesthetic, and the inspiration to pair together colors or patterns I haven’t yet thought of on my own. Starting off Friday with a picture of someone’s flamingo-print blouse just makes me smile in a way that cognac + cream + black capsule wardrobes do not.

So without further ado, here are a couple of colorful IG accounts I’ve started to follow recently:

Frances Ayme – a J. Crew-loving mom of 3 who calls Bermuda home:

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

 

Tarilyn – a 50-something Mainer with a passion for skirts and making life in New England look like vacation in Florida:

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

 

Alice – a midlife mom with a flair for pattern:

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A bonus: these women reflect a greater diversity than the young, hip white women who dominate the IG neutral/ethical game. And it’s nice to see women who don’t blog or Instagram for a living wearing their real clothes!

Who are your favorite colorful Instagrammers (or bloggers)? Share the wealth!

Weeding out the Extras

I’ve gotten this curated wardrobe thing down to a science (ha): thrift a bunch of stuff I like and am reasonably sure I’ll wear for the upcoming season, then take them all for a test drive and weed out the extras – anything I’m not excited to wear or have failed to wear completely – after a month or so. And I’m about at that point for my warmer weather clothing.

Though it’s all thrifted, this might seem like a wasteful approach. But for me, it works – I like seeing my picks in play (or not) and learning from that process to make even better, more informed choices next time (hopefully!).

And while I try to gauge in the dressing room what will be too tight/short/chafing etc. and say no accordingly, I’ve found that style-wise, I simply can’t always predict what I’m going to love. Sometimes a cut or color that is a reach for me stylistically ends up being a home run; other times, something that’s right in my wheelhouse ends up curiously unworn.

This dress, for example, should hit all the right spots – it’s a shirt dress, one of my favorite styles, in Light Summer-ish colors (or neutral enough to fudge it):

But I’ve only worn it once and didn’t fall in love:

It’s a bit on the short side, which means I paired it with leggings that are too warm for truly hot days. It doesn’t have as much structure as my two other (beloved) shirt dresses, so it feels a little limp. And the neutral stripes just aren’t as chic as I thought they’d be – instead of elegant or minimalist, they feel washed out. It’s also a tricky neckline to pair with with necklaces; I have one choker I like that sits above the collar, but my other favorite necklaces are in danger of getting lost or clashing with the diagonal lines on the v-neck.

Just… meh.

Here’s another neutral stripe number that underwhelmed:

The charcoal stripes looked like they’d give some great contrast to solid blazers, but the shirt is too tight in the shoulders. (I probably should have noticed this in the dressing room, but I’ll admit I didn’t do a full round of calisthenics in this shirt to test it out.) And it somehow didn’t work as I imagined – I just looked like a referee on a brunch date:

Or a referee disguised as a watermelon (to be fair, my preschooler picked out this ensemble):

I do like the stripes peeking out from under a sweater:

But again, after a few hours, the tightness in the shoulders that felt so mild at first just ruined the comfy-chic of this outfit.

Another neutral denim-y number that didn’t make it because what felt structured and slimming in the dressing room felt like I’d had too much for lunch at home:

In a moment that would do the 10×10 community proud, I used it as an open layer and liked it much better:

I felt very chic in my denim-on-denim outfit with its subtle print-mixing (there’s pattern on the cuffs) – which I created on a whim as I headed out the door. But I want my clothes to be more versatile than just looking chic as a layering piece. If you’re a button down shirt, I want to be able to wear you that way!

I know a chambray shirt would look great with my pink pants and my green ones, though, and with my yellow shorts and red shorts. So I’m keeping my eyes out for a chambray popover tunic – a silhouette that I know from experience will fit my body better.

Alright, here are two more I haven’t even worn yet:

This cute tee with a little neckline embellishment is too cool to be Light Summer, and although I should probably just break the palette “rules” and wear it, every time I look at it I think “nah.” I’ve realized I like some pattern in my casual tees because my shorts never have pattern.

Which is one reason I haven’t worn these spot-on Light Summer shorts:

Plaid Bermudas were my shorts style for a minute back, oh, 8 years ago? But I have long since given away my last pair, which should have clued me in that these wouldn’t get worn (not least because I don’t have many solid tops to pair them with). In these I feel a little too tomboy – a formally beloved aesthetic which no longer does it for me. That’ll teach me to thrift something just because it’s in my color palette!

 

What about you – do you thrift a bunch and then weed out, like I do? Or do you only thrift a few, carefully selected items – but maybe sometimes go home wishing you’d bought that one out-there piece, just to see if you’d grow to love it?

Thrift Finds: May 2018

This month was super-light, thrifting-wise, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how correspondingly light I feel. “You were so thrifty,” said my spouse in response to my minimalist tally. Except I wasn’t, Spouse! Ha.

Alright, bad puns aside, here’s the one piece of clothing I thrifted:

A perfectly Light Summer-colored blazer by Metaphor that runs a size big but styles just fine with the sleeves scrunched up:

Ta-da! Next up for styling it, I plan to pair it with my linen men’s Zara trousers – although the whole look might be too baggy – or the grey Express jeans that read like trousers. I’ll be sure to share over on Instagram (@thriftshopchic) when it happens.

The other two items thrifted this month? Wooden hangers – from Bermuda, no less:

Because I like looking at my clothes on wooden hangers over plastic ones; it’s just aesthetically pleasing and makes me feel chic.

And two fun-colored small plates, since we’ve broken a few at our house lately. A few years ago I brought home a similar plate with red and blue stripes that I found in a bamboo forest on a hike once (but how did it get there??), and I realized how much joy it brings me to eat on plates with color. Thus:

The pastries were my birthday breakfast, provided by my thoughtful aforementioned spouse; yum!

 

That’s it – short and sweet! I’ve settled into my late spring/early summer wardrobe and am feeling mostly content with it (more on that later), so I’ll probably be light on clothes thrifting for the next little while. In the meantime, though, I’m on the hunt for a rack to put all my shoes on… Goodwill’s houseware section, I’m coming for ya!

Thrift Finds: April 2018

April was good to me thrift-wise. Let’s do this chronologically.

First up, a trip to Savers in Framingham.

This denim button-down dress by one of the Gap companies (no tag at the neck but the RN number on the side tag goes with Gap co.s) was a great color and perfect sleeve length, but a leetle tight in the chest and short in the hem:

But then I realized I could wear it open, as a duster (one of my favorite lengths) for lightweight warmth and a great silhouette:

Can’t wait to wear it over grey trousers and a white blouse!

This coral dress gave me no shape – pass:

Some bermuda shorts that are perfectly Light Summer, which I bought but probably will rarely wear since Bermuda shorts aren’t my preferred short silhouette… turns out I still sometimes get swept away by a color palette match:


As always, take colors in photographs with a big ol’ grain of salt. For one thing, dressing room lighting is horrible.

Big winners on this trip – Clarks sandals in excellent condition:

They needed a quick damp cloth to get off dinge and dirt when I got home, and now they make perfect Sunday (church/work) warm weather footwear.

 

Next up, Restoration Project in Belmont.

This Marnie West top is vintage – I’d say late 80s/early 90s. The fitted silhouette (thanks to the bodice darts) makes a great contrast with the more voluminous sleeves:

The buttons are down the back.I brought it home but still haven’t decided how to wear it – probably with my linen blue Zara man jeans. Ideas?

 

Later in the month I made it to Sister Thrift where I found some great stuff (with a side of mini-celebrity, if you remember).

This striped dress was too small:

Not my style, and not great colors on me:

Two winners – a Gap striped shift dress and J. Brand jeans in the perfect casual stretch:

BAM.

A very quick stop into Global Thrift in Waltham where I really wish these Yoshi Kondo pants in perfect condition had fit – they had so many great details and they retail for something like $250:

Sigh.

Undeterred, I headed to the new Goodwill in Danvers to inspect their wares.

Fun moto blazer in a great color (I think it was Forever 21?):

But too small to zip without looking like a space-aged functionary:

Great color on this Talbots blazer that was also too wide/short for me:

Awesome vintage windbreaker by American Eagle – sort of wish I had bought it but it was in pretty rough shape in several places:

Love me a neck bow and the metallic accents on this top are totally fun, but my bra showing through isn’t:

These Express jeans had a finish that made them look dressier:

And the little slit on the inside hem gave them a little extra interest (sorry my feet are in focus instead of the pants):

Though I kind of wish they were on the outside, where other people can see them! They came home with me and will be my dressy jeans for Sunday mornings/the office. I love the visual texture of the fabric – makes them pair well with solid tops without being boring.

This Miami chambray top had a nice clean silhouette and fun contrast on the cuffs and collar (I failed to get a shot but will show you all later). It came home with me for the same reason as the pants – great texture in a neutral color to play with other solids. (Really drawing here on the advice I got about bulking up my wardrobe with neutrals so my Light Summer pieces can shine.)

I so wish these sandals had been my size – a great combination of light cognac and Light Summer colors:

This gingham shirt would have been a great Light Summer staple (and I love the floral collar lining) but alas, it wasn’t my size:

This tie-shoulder dress in a great, subtle print by Marled (a brand sold at Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus, dresses retail for $100+) would have been a fun silhouette for some summer barbecue/wedding situations, but it was too big in the bust. Wanh-wannnnh:

A Newport News (vintage?) dress I seriously considered – but ultimately decided the purple was too pink and the silhouette a little too fitted:

Could have been fun as a dress-over-pants look…

Last but not least, I finished up the month at a church rummage sale where the best finds weren’t even clothing.

Would make the cutest cup of tea ever:

I don’t know who thought to paint Michael Jackson on a matryoshka doll, but that person was a genius:

He gets younger as you go further inside:

Jackson Five days – the cutest:

I brought these two sweaters and pair of pants home in a $5 bag (the Duplos I snagged for my kid were more than worth that 5 bucks) but later decided nah.

Too fitted in the middle, too baggy in the sleeves, not sure about the color:

Too tight in the sleeves to wear over any under layers:

Gorgeous vintage Harvé Benard lined wool pants in a purple-y Light Summer neutral that fit if I planned to never eat again:

And also if I wanted to wear all my sweaters tucked in. Love that silhouette; don’t love being cut off in the middle. Sigh.

 

There ya have it! What do you think of my finds – and what did you find this past month?

Tweaking Outfits toward Perfection

Not that one ever achieves outfit perfection….or that one should even hold outfit perfection as an objective. Or that one should talk about oneself in the third person.

But I noticed that in a few of my recent favorite outfits, minor adjustments moved my look from “okay” to “spot on. So today I’m sharing a couple of tweaks to help an outfit go from good to great.

First up: my pinkish Pixie pants by Old Navy, via Poshmark.

I found my size in Tall on Poshmark, and, thinking they would offer more length than the ankle length of the classic Pixie pant, bought them. Just as I had hoped, they turned out to be a perfect match for Light Summer, and they were definitely long enough.

Turns out, though, that “Tall” – Old Navy’s designation for women 5’10” and up (I’m not quite that tall) – isn’t just long, it’s bigger in other areas to accommodate the larger frame of tall women:


Definitely giving off a roomy vibe.

I knew I didn’t want that much extra fabric clinging on me in the warm months, which is when I wanted to wear these puppies, so I went hunting for the classic-sized (aka ankle length Pixie pant in the same color, and voilà – I made one tweak in style and they fit just right:


Definitely ankle-length, though. 

(Online thrifting tip: if you want to find the exact color of something you’ve already seen in person, look at one of the tiny tags underneath the big tag and it might tell you the specific color of the item; if not, it will usually note the season and year – e.g. “SPR 17” – which you can then use to cross-check online listings. If the color/season isn’t mentioned in the listing, just message the seller and ask them to check that tiny tag and report back. That’s how I confirmed this second pair was indeed “Life’s a Peach,” a color variously described and photographed as pink, coral, salmon, etc.)

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the Talls – sell them on Poshmark (something I’ve yet to try) in order to make back some of the money I’ve spent there? Save them for next winter? (Leggings for those extra cold days would definitely fit under there.) What would you do?

 

The tropical shirt (H&M) in that last photo leads me to my next tweak: pants into cutoffs.

These yellow bootcut jeans from Forever 21 were fun as is, but I was having a hard time finding a way to wear them in the cold months. And because the denim was so floppy (read: not super high quality), they didn’t have much shape down below:

So I chopped ’em, rolled the cuffs, and wore them with that same tropical shirt when the temperature hit 80:

Another quick tweak was to wash the sandals in this pic with a damp cloth. Thus dingy-colored Clarks with nothing else wrong with them became gloriously white (and wearable) once again. I wonder if the person who gave them away was truly tired of them or thought they’d passed the point of no return without realizing a quick clean would have done the trick.

To check whether the dirt on a thrift shoe find is washable (in the store), dab a tiny amount of water from your water bottle onto a spare hankie or tissue and gently rub (don’t do this on suede). I did this in the middle of Savers and was rewarded with the knowledge that these shoes weren’t stained, merely dirty:


Ta-da!

Last but not least, a “tweak” that really comes down to styling.

I found this Metaphor blazer at Restoration Project in a pitch-perfect Light Summer pink and in my sweet spot for blazers – long and lean lapels with a pre-scrunched sleeve for added insouciance:


Yes, I know I just said I didn’t need any more blazers, but I was silently still keeping an eye out for a pink blazer unicorn.

The only problem? It was a size (or two?) too large, at least on the tag. Over a long-sleeved shirt, it felt a bit big in the arms a bit big in the armpits:

…but with armpits reined in, it actually looked pretty good on:

and I was so happy to find a blazer in one of “my” pinks (I had plans; see unicorn comment above) that I bought it anyway. Better a slightly oversized look than a too-tight look, yes?

Here is the execution of the first of my many plans involving this blazer, in which the simple tweak of giving the sleeves an extra couple SCRUNCHES made everything look more fitted/on purpose:


My spouse said this outfit made his head explode. I figure that means it’s just right.

 

Conclusion: just a few small adjustments here and there can make a big difference. What are your favorite thrift tweak success stories?

 

Finding Enough for Now

A few weeks ago – I think it was while I was starting to put away some of the really heavy winter clothing (the lighter stuff is still around…sigh) – I realized that I had worn just a few dresses over the winter, some just once.

And although I cycled through a few different clutches of sweaters this winter, by the end I was consistently wearing…three of them.

And really only two main collared shirts under those sweaters, plus two flannels.

And basically three pairs of pants, plus one for the weekends.

And one blazer.

And I hadn’t even combined them all yet in all the different ways they could go together – I kept wearing the same few combinations that were easy and I loved. So why did I have so many clothes in my closet?

That moment was a good reminder that thrifting – and the sweet prices that go along with it – can often lead to a closet full of things I love, but too full to wear them all as much as I’d like. (I suppose I could theoretically end up wearing all those clothes over several seasons…but my winter style has been distinctively different each of the last three years, so I’m not going to pretend I’m going to wear that entire drawer stuffed full of sweaters for years and years. Plus stuffed drawers – ugh, too hard to find what you want and keep it unwrinkly!)

I’ve pondered this before; it’s a cyclical thing, and I’m okay with that. Although it IS really enjoyable to discover exactly how much I need and have the permission to love those pieces and let go of the rest.

For example, I’m happy with one blazer right now:

It goes with everything and is cozy on chilly New England spring days. (We’ll see what I do in the warm months with the couple of lighter blazers kicking around my guestroom closet.) I’ve told myself I “need” more blazers in other colors for more versatility, but every time I’ve tried to add other blazers, they just….flop.

So I’m aiming for joyful appreciation of what’s right in front of me. Contentment, if you will.

And constantly reminding myself while thrifting that I am incredibly picky about blazers I will actually wear with any regularity, so CHILL with buying them already.

 

Where is “enough” for various clothing categories in your closet? Do you ever go over the threshold, just to have variety? Are some categories easier to rein in than others?

Random Bits of Style Goodness – Mary Berry and Norma Kamali

A couple of bits of style goodness for your Tuesday morning.

I’ve been watching two seasons of The Great British Bakeoff (aka The Great British Baking Show on Netflix). I cried at the end of one of them. Just the right mix of interesting (I know nothing about baking), dramatic (the natural drama of “Will this sponge cake set in time?” instead of manufactured interpersonal drama), charming (love the hosts), and stylish – Mary Berry is my new blazer inspiration:

 

She even does moto jackets & bombers:

 
Scarf game = 100.         PS that’s host Mel Giedroyc stuffing pastries into her pocket. Charming, yes?

 

What a badass. She’s 80 and wearing stuff 20-year-old models sport – much of which sold out as soon as she wore it on TV. Here’s a fun read on her style icon status.

And from Norma Kamali (a 70-year-old designer and fashion maven in her own right), in an interview by Garance Doré, speaking about style in the 60s:

“If somebody liked what they put together, it would not be strange for them to wear it for 48 hours…people wouldn’t just change their clothes everyday; if you liked what was happening, maybe you’d add another scarf.”


Source.

Thank you, Norma, for validating my habit of wearing an outfit that works two days in a row – either with a change of shoes or without.

Enjoy your day!

Living into Light Summer – Four Months In

Hey all,

It’s been four months since I got my colors “done“; time for an update!

I’m settling into this new season; I see when my face “pops” with a good color; I can now see plainly that a few old pieces I initially thought were Light Summer are not; and it’s becoming a lot easier for me to pick out some of the Light Summer colors at a glance (I then confirm with my handy dandy color palette).

Greens and purples are probably the easiest – they jump out at me:


Can you tell I’m having fun with this?

Blues don’t jump very much but there’s some flexibility there. I’m getting better at yellows and pinks (which are really mostly corals); and I’ve even found a few good browns – though I haven’t thrifted them:


Too big.

 

I see when my color palette (the actual samples of colors I take with me when I thrift) pops against colors in my season when I didn’t used to:


Pop! As always, take photos of the palette with a large grain of salt due to lighting etc.

I thrifted these Bermuda shorts even though they’re more where my style 8 was years ago. I couldn’t help myself – they were so perfectly Light Summer. That’s actually been a challenge – it’s still novel and exciting for me to find something that’s a perfect palette match that I sometimes buy things I normally wouldn’t because IT IS MY PALETTE. Working on that.

 

Amazingly, I’ve even had success finding my colors online, which can be a tricky proposition since lighting and monitor settings affect things. Knowing it’s hard to match colors in some ways makes me more restrained – I’m less likely to buy something unless I’ve seen it in person.

Otherwise, I piece together a variety of photos from the seller and the original retail site (these are usually pretty accurate) and make an educated guess, which is how I ended up with these pants – SUCH a good match for Light Summer:


Glorious. The Pixie pant from Old Navy via Poshmark.

These also were a perfect match, which is great since I’ve been looking for pink pants to set off my warmer weather tops:


Also Pixies from Old Navy via Poshmark.

 

As far as denim goes, I’ve been happy to stick with my darker Paige jeans because we so easily read jeans as a neutral; plus pants are far from the face, where it’s most obvious if you’re wearing something outside your palette. And I had found some “Best Girlfriend” jeans that were right in my color palette; but they are baggy, weekend, laze-around-the-house jeans that don’t give the cleaner silhouette I like for more polished outfits.

Lo and behold, the thrifting gods sent me the first pair of J Brand jeans that didn’t feel like sausage casing around my legs; they have some stretch (I know that’s antithetical to denim purists and I don’t care). They are a lovely light blue wash that is squarely Light Summer denim territory:

They’re a tiny bit cropped but since I plan to wear them now through fall, that should work just fine.

 

I think I mentioned before that this palette made me realize that I had let myself get seduced by the neutral-heavy palette of minimalist Instagram style mavens. Although there’s a lot to be said for playing with texture and silhouette within a very muted, narrow palette, I came to recognize it just didn’t feel like me. (One of my favorite shirts is bright blue snake print, for Pete’s sake!) When I posted a muted peach skirt on Instagram asking for color suggestions to dye it, someone suggested “rust!” with enthusiasm and I just wanted to run the other way.

It’s been a breath of fresh air leaning back into color with this new color palette and embracing PATTERN beyond just a neutral stripe or dot. (Can you tell how happy those floral pants make me?) I’m excited to share more with you as I finish building my spring/summer wardrobe – whenever spring finally arrives!!