Thrifted Storage Solutions – Or Not

For the longest time, I was keeping my thrifting eyes open for a shoe rack to try to corral this mess:

Every time I opened my closet, I averted my eyes from the horror that was the top shelf. Despite how clean and uncluttered my clothes looked hanging just below, it was kind of ruining my closet mojo.

I pride myself on thrifting anything I need for storage (or repurposing something I already own) – I dislike the idea of paying retail money for storage solutions, probably because there is so much out there designed to make you think you’ll never be organized without splashing out cash. But no matter where I thrifted, I couldn’t seem to find one – or anything that really could work in a pinch. So I let the shoes (and the scarves, and the router, and the…I don’t even know what some of that was?) sit in an inglorious jumble, messing with my feng shui.

Until I realized I didn’t need to thrift, or even find, any storage solution. I just needed to move my off-season shoes elsewhere, and put everything else where it belonged.

So the shoes I wasn’t currently wearing went in the guest room closet where we keep off-season clothes (one pair that was too tight got donated). The scarves went on the scarf hanger thingy that hangs in my closet. And the antennae/router junk (used to very, very occasionally watch network tv and stashed there to keep out of the reach of my kid, who kept messing with it) went in a box and into the guest closet shelves where it could easily be set in the guestroom, where it gets the best signal.

Here is my new shoe shelf:

Ahhhhhhhhh.

What corner of your house has been waiting – so you think – for that perfect storage solution but really just needs a clear out or something as simple as a repurposed shoebox?

Thrifted Maternity Capsule Wardrobe for Summer

Today I’m sharing what I’ve been wearing this summer as I work on my second trimester. With the exception of a pair of sandals I bought retail last summer, everything here is thrifted – and 98% of it is stuff I already owned that I’m making work for my changing body. (Turns out it pays to like looser silhouettes on top and shorts with a little stretch!) That won’t last forever, however, so I’m trying to enjoy living off of what I have before I get into full-blown maternity clothes.

Without further ado, my current wardrobe!

Dresses

 
Talbots (with J. Crew denim jacket); S Wear; Who What Wear; Old Navy; Old Navy

Tops + Shorts

These are the two pairs of shorts that fit – and apparently that’s all I need! The blue tie-dye-ish top is the only shirt I’ve thrifted specifically for my pregnancy (so far). It’s just an oversized tee that feels like pajamas but looks semi-presentable for dropping the kid off at school or lazing around the house on the weekend.

   
Yellow shorts = Forever21 (pants DIYed into shorts); white shorts = American Eagle. Shirts: Old Navy; Banana Republic; Loft; no tag; Old Navy; Ralph Lauren; H&M; Zara

Sandals

 
Clarks & Saltwaters (retail)

That’s it! Short and simple. It’s been lovely to have in rotation a handful of things that fit and make me feel good, all in my closet at a glance.

Are you capsule-ing it this summer?

PS To see how I’m styling these, head over to my Instagram account.

Friday ReBlog: RV Living with 5 People + an Epic Closet Purge and more

It’s been a minute since our last Friday ReBlog, a spotlight on articles/posts/podcasts I’ve recently found interesting. This week I’m sharing some good minimalism-related reads and listens I came across while recharging my enthusiasm for keeping my stuff to a dull roar.

First up, here’s a fun read on the principles of psychological economics behind Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The article puts some words on phenomena we’ve all experienced – like finding it a lot harder to give something away once we’ve let it live in our closet/house/bookshelf for awhile.

Next, here’s a few tips on really paring down in order to live in a smaller space – and some amazing pics of a family of 5 who live in a converted RV: Living simply, going tiny.

These two Brooke Castillo podcast interviews with Shira Gill (episode 216 and episode 217) are short and sweet bursts of inspiration for decluttering. Shira’s approach is basically the opposite of Marie Kondo’s massive tidying spree (while also overlapping in some ways). Some of my favorite parts were the discussion about how much mental space clears up when you don’t have to manage excess stuff; the glory of empty drawers; and consuming as a way to numb our feelings. PS Shira’s blog is full of great decluttering ideas, too.

Last but not least, pop some popcorn for this excess-to-edited account of a closet purge of astounding magnitude. I’d wager most of us have never spent $25,000 on clothes in one year, but if you’ve ever bought something to soothe some unprocessed emotion, you’ll relate.

Happy Friday!

My Kondo-ed Sock Drawer

While I got a lot out of reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – including the ever-useful closet-clearing question, “does this spark joy?” – I’ve never properly Kondo-ed my possessions.

It’s not that I’m against the idea of collecting all my clothes, or books, or kitchen gadgets, etc. in one place and holding each of them to determine how they make me feel. (I think that would be rather invigorating, actually.) It’s just that I seem to accomplish tidying in waves: Hmm. The closet/bookshelf/kitchen drawer is looking a little full. Think I’ll do a quick review to see how joyful I feel about all this stuff. It’s analogous to the “these pants are getting a bit tight” method of weight management rather than the crash diet method.

Regular but small-scale evaluations of my stuff seem more manageable, time-wise, than Kondo’s recommended “tidying marathon.” And it’s nice to have something to tackle when I get the “clean out and organize” itch.

But I think the real reason I like doing it this way is that it lets me work up to letting go of items with which I’m not quite ready to part. Usually this is about an image of myself, an image that’s more fantasy than real life, more vanity than authenticity, more fear-of-the-future based than present-need-based: “This architectural blouse makes me look so hip on Instagram.” Or “What if I need this [insert kitchen thingamabob here] some day? It’s so practical!” Or “What will people think of me when they see the entire collection of Mitford novels on my bookshelf?”

In my experience, shedding those phantasms takes time. When I recently ditched the books from college that made me feel well-read (but that went largely unread), it was because I could finally embrace the fact that I’m much more likely to re-read a good mystery or a cozy, psychologically astute portrait of small-town life.

(Seriously, as a pastor, Jan Karon’s Mitford novels – while occasionally a bit simplistic – and Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series are morale-boosting manuals on how to live life in service to the “takes all kinds” variety of people you find in a church and still keep your sanity and sense of humor. Prayer and whiskey both seem to help.)

I do have a picture frame conveniently placed in front of the Mitford series just in case a guest is feeling super judgmental. So maybe I still have some work to do.

But these prolonged tidying forays have taught me that Marie Kondo is spot on about at least one thing: my wardrobe/bookshelf/kitchen drawers feel the happiest when I focus on my feelings (whether I love something) rather than my thoughts (rationales for why I “should” keep an item).

Oh, and she’s right about boxes for organizing. So helpful.

So since I like seeing pictures of other people’s lovely, neat drawers after they’ve been Kondo’d, I thought I’d share my sock and underwear drawer, where I just axed two pairs of socks (donated) and two pairs of saggy underwear (textile recycling) that were still “practical” but utterly unjoyful. I also just realized I would feel mentally happier if I used one little storage box (from some storage system I bought years ago and then tried to make my spouse use for computer stuff) to give it a little structure instead of letting all the socks and underwear run together:

(Yes, I roll my big socks and undies Kondo-style because it’s aesthetically pleasing but ball the athletic socks because I can’t be bothered. I am a walking contradiction, what can I say?)

Disclaimer: if you don’t count the three-pack of new underwear I picked up at a Goodwill in North Carolina, absolutely none of these clothes are thrifted, because used socks and underwear rarely make it to thrift stores and when they do, I’m not buying them. And because the sleep t-shirts are from my childhood and the bras are retail – saggy used bras that may or may not be my size are not something I thrift. (Oh, the wonders of a proper bra-fitting! High on my list once I have exited the maternity/postpartum stages.)

(Wait! I lied! The King Kong Empire State building t-shirt was a prize find from the Scituate Goodwill in college. Still use it as a sleep shirt because it’s worn so wonderfully thin and comfy.)

Cute and practical but no-longer joy-sparking socks:

Well, that was a heftily psychological excuse to show you my sock drawer.

What’s your psychological approach to tidying? Or your practical approach to organizing your sock drawer?

Why I’m Skipping the 10×10 Challenge This Summer

If you’ve been reading for awhile (hi! thank you!), you probably have become familiar with the 10×10 challenge – 10 pieces of clothing to make 10 outfits over 10 days. Started by Lee Vosburgh and Caroline Rector, it’s a way to practice contentment with your closet, to get creative with what you already have, and to get inspired by other people doing the same.

In the past I’ve had fun with the challenge and learned something (click that 10×10 link in the first sentence to read up on all that). But this time around, I’m skipping it.

It’s not because I don’t think I could pull it off; ironically, I’m pretty much living a 10×10 all the time thanks to an edited maternity wardrobe.


Variations on themes here, people.

As I wrote about here, I’m feeling mighty content with my closet at the moment – to the point of not thrifting in any regular manner (what??).

I’ve also realized that I tend to pick 10×10 pieces that stand on their own, or combine in very specific, well-trod ways (e.g. button down + sweater + pants +boots) that don’t allow for as much creative mixing and matching. As I ran through potential 10×10 outfits in my head this time around, I realized that all I want to wear is dresses and the only way to make “new” or stylistically interesting outfits would be to throw on a white denim jacket or swap out a shirt on the rare day I want to wear the two pairs of shorts that currently fit. Hardly groundbreaking.

Last but not least, the style of the folks who participate in the 10×10 tends to echo Lee & Caroline’s – minimalist patterns and silhouettes that, while aesthetically quite pleasing to my eye, bear no relationship to how I dress in real life (as opposed to in Instagram-influenced fantasy land).

So I’m good on my usual reasons to do a 10×10.

What about you? Where do you fall on the goals for a 10×10? Are you participating this time or sitting it out – or curious to try it? (If it sounds intriguing to you, though, hop on over to www.stylebee.ca to learn more, or search the #10×10 hashtag on Instagram for inspiration.)

Maternity Wardrobe without Breaking the Bank, Part 1

Hey all! So, I’m pregnant, due in December with Mini Thrifter #2:

We’re really excited, especially Mini Thrifter #1 who will get to be a big sister:

Thrifted shirt, natch.

When we started trying to conceive, I admit I was super psyched about the idea of thrifting a maternity wardrobe. It seemed like a great excuse to go thrift a whole bunch of clothes without having to think about whether I really needed them.

And then a funny thing happened – I suddenly had no desire to thrift. I mean, if a friend had suggested we hit up a Goodwill, I would not have said no – but I didn’t feel the need to initiate anything myself, and even inside a store, didn’t feel much desire to buy. Proof: the last time I went thrifting, all I grabbed was pants for my kid because I had neglected to bring anything but shorts for her on a trip to Maine. (Note: even if it’s the middle of summer, Maine always requires pants. And a sweatshirt. Always.)

In other words, I suddenly felt content with my closet. Hormones?

In part I just couldn’t be bothered, so I started looking for ways my current wardrobe could stretch (pun intended) to cover at least part of my maternity wardrobe. I already favor looser, fall-from-the-shoulders type silhouettes, so tops were pretty easy to find in my closet. And thanks to growing up in the 90s and feeling like waistbands anywhere near my actual waist are anathema, my shorts all button closer to the hips and a few are still doing maternity duty:

Pants only made it the first couple months; I am now done with them until the cold weather comes back. Dresses have picked up the slack and are doing a great job of keeping me cool on hot days:

I have one new (to me) piece which is not actually maternity but regular Uniqlo – a skirt with a nice wide elastic waistband, on hand for days when the shorts are too casual or don’t want to button:

And I have one new (to me) dress waiting in the wings for August-September when things start to get a little bigger around here:


Pockets! By J. Jill, found in the regular dress section.

I have no doubt I’ll need to thrift more for colder weather; I don’t have any pants left over from last time and the few maternity sweaters I needed in Atlanta are in eye-burning color combos like electric purple and chartreuse (what was I thinking??). I’ll keep you all up to date!

 

Tips for building a maternity wardrobe

Thrifting (or shopping secondhand in other ways) is a great way to save money on a wardrobe you won’t need forever. Here are some strategies to help you thrift maternity clothes:

  • Shop your closet – don’t assume all your current clothes won’t work, particularly if you favor roomier styles.
    • Pull out the pants/skirts/shorts that have always seemed a little loose or needed a belt – they’re your friend when your waistline starts to expand!
    • Dresses with any kind of stretch in the fabric are your friend – they can bridge from pre-pregnant through your first few months and give you time to scope out maternity clothes for when things really start popping.
    • Use the rubberband trick to keep regular pants in rotation longer.
  • Hit up maternity consignment stores. This is what I’ll do for my winter clothes because they have the advantage of a) a lot more selection in one place and b) more modern, up-to-date styles. If you don’t want to abandon skinny-cut jeans, for example, go consignment. All I ever see in thrift stores are bootcut styles. Pro tip: many children’s consignment stores have a maternity section that’s worth checking out.
  • Shop secondhand online. Same as consignment, you get a wealth of current style options. Downside: you can’t try on for size and often can’t return, so look for pieces like dresses and stretchy tees that can afford to give a little either way.
  • Look beyond the maternity rack at your local thrift store. You can easily find pregnancy-friendly tunic tops/dresses and skirts/pants with elasticated waistbands in the regular racks; empire waists are also great at adapting to pregnancy. Look in the PJ section for cute shorts for sleep or play, or fashionably oversized pj tops. Size up for regular shirts/sweaters, or snap up one of those normally frustrating pairs of jeans that leaves you swimming in the waist but fits everywhere else. Shoes that are wider than your normal size (particularly sandals, mules, clogs) are a cheap thrift score to give those expanding feet more room.

If you’ve thrifted for a maternity wardrobe, what are your strategies and tips?  Or any specific season in your life – when you’ll need clothes for a certain purpose but you know you won’t keep them forever?

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?