Some Illustrated Styling Tips

Thinking about how I put together an outfit got me ruminating on how I add that final touch to a sartorial ensemble to make it stand out or really pull it all together.  Here’s an illustrated list of a few tricks I use to garnish the drink, as it were.  Comment to add yours!

 

Use jewelry to pick up a color or metal elsewhere in the outfit

Cuff pants for a different/more versatile length, or to give it a casual touch:

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Roll or cuff sleeves to adjust for warmth/show off a bracelet

Roll blazer cuffs once or twice to show off contrasting liner or bracelet.  You can also scrunch ’em up to similar effect

Leave hair down to use it as a contrast color to your outfit (I often wear my hair down with grey for that reason – the yellow tones help warm up the grey):
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Put hair up to highlight a neckline or earrings (or to keep it out of your way):

Part hair in a new place to freshen up a tried-and-true outfit

Untuck the back of your shirt for a casual, cool vibe

Belt your natural waist to bring some interest to a solid color dress or tunic top:
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Scrunch socks to add some volume/texture in the gap between pants hem and ankle boot

Extend cuffs past your topper and roll ’em back once to create drama and contrast between your shirt and your cardigan/blazer

Try out different scarf ties to get shawl/poncho/necklace/collar effects.

 

FYI, Caroline at UnFancy is great at demonstrating simple styling tricks like this.  Nicole of The Spirited Thrifter can teach you how to throw an arm party (she’s also great at layering necklaces which I rarely do), and Dina of Dinatokio models some excellent ringage (as well as chokers).  Susan of Une Femme d’Un Certain Age also does both necklaces and bracelets well. Janice of The Vivienne Files will help you think through coordinating jewelry without making it too matchy. Also visit Susan and Janice for scarf tips, or check out this old favorite video of 25 ways to wear a scarf featuring mindboggling visual logistics.  If you wear a headscarf or a hair wrap, get thee over to Dinatokio NOW.  I have never seen anyone style a hijab so creative-mazingly. She wears hers rather less conservatively than many people, which means a lot of her styles also work for hair/head wraps.

 

What are your favorite styling tips?  Anything new here you’d like to try?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Putting Together an Outfit: Cords + Popover Tunic + Duster

Nicole from The Spirited Thrifter wrote a few weeks back about helping a client discern how to put together new outfits from her existing clothes  She included some handy rules and tips along the way, which got me thinking about how *I* put decide what goes into an outfit and whether blogging about it would be useful for others to read about.

So today, I’m going to grab an outfit pic off of Instagram and walk you through how I put it together.  I’m no expert, but I do love clothes and am usually pretty happy with my looks, so if you struggle with how to finish off an outfit, how to pair accessories or top layers with base clothes you’ve already chosen, or what “goes” together,  I hope reading about my thought process is helpful.  And if it works out I’ll do it with some more outfits.  Maybe you can even request faves from my IG!  Whoa, getting carried away here.

The outfit in question:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

And now, how I got there:

Weather? Cool in the morning, warm by afternoon – I’ll need to layer.

Any activities at work that require specific clothes (e.g. big meetings with outside clients or funerals or cleaning out storage rooms requiring a dress (fancier) or pants (more casual/flexible)?  No.

So what do I feel like wearing for my base piece (the skirt/pants/dress I’ll use to build my outfit)?   Yesterday was a dress so today I’ll go with pants for a little variety.  I haven’t worn my newly tapered cream cords yet, let’s bust those out!

What top would go with that?  Hmmm…I haven’t worn my dotted cotton popover tunic in a minute, and that pattern will contrast nicely with the solid cream down below.
Now to add that layer… The shirt’s patterned, so let’s get my one and only solid cardi out – a blue duster.  That matches the darker blue in the top and will keep the outfit from feeling all over the place color-wise.

What shoes do I want to wear with this?  Hey, those blue-grey boat shoes I just painted would be perfect for the  chambray color of the shirt.  Plus this outfit is on the casual-but-put-together side and nice boat shoes can do that.  I’m still wearing them in, though, so I need some socks…these striped ones perfectly marry the colors in my top and cardigan.

Jewelry?  An open neck means a standard-length necklace and I don’t feel like making an earring statement today. But I will choose my cream drop earrings instead of my go-to gold studs because my cream cords are starting to feel lonely; picking up the pants color with my earrings will make the whole composition more harmonious.  Bracelet/rings?  The usual – my grandma’s cuff and my wedding/engagement rings.

One last styling adjustment – pulling the collar and cuffs of my shirt out past the cardigan, then popping/folding them back respectively will add a touch of interesting on the edges of that big block of color that is my duster – and make some room to show off my bracelet.  

Et voilà!  Done.

 

The above process probably took about 5 minutes to decide/put on my body.  Scroll down to tell me if this kind of analysis is helpful, and if so, whether you like reading it in present tense or if that’s just annoying.

 

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A Tale of Two Statement Blazers

One of the things on my fall wardrobe thrift list was a statement blazer.  My inspiration for a statement jacket was this toreador bolero number festooned with ribbons, and – surprise – I have yet to come across anything approaching that amazingness.  Instead I have found both a snakeskin print and a plaid in unexpected colors:

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Snakeskin: Isaac Mizrahi Live! (Why does that sound like a talk show? – Googles… – turns out it’s a QVC brand.  Aha.)
Plaid: Merona – It’s the same blazer I own in camel but a size smaller, which I think is actually a better fit.

The first one feels like something a Jersey snowbird would wear to the casino, while the second gives off the vibe of a school blazer featuring oddly chosen spirit colors.  Or maybe your grandpa’s sport coat ca. 1973:

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Why yes, that’s orange, pink, and green all competing on a blue background.

I think I’m more into the ugly-chic of the second one, particularly since it adds more color to my closet than the snakeskin version (see this post on needing more color in my neutral-heavy fall/winter wardrobe).  Although I don’t own any pink of the variety featured in the plaid (or any orange – at all), I DO have that snazzy green in pants!  And I definitely have lots of that blue.  I’m excited to experiment and see how it wears with the rest of  my wardrobe.

The snakeskin version is meant to be kind of a neutral topper vis-a-vis my blue and grey turtlenecks and blue/grey/colorful pants.  (If leopard can be a neutral, so can snakeskin, darnit!)  I’m not sold yet, though: it’s suuuuper soft in that unstructured blazer way I love, but the area where the side seams meet the hem pooches out a little bit (you can kind of see it in the picture) and I can’t decide if getting it tailored will be worth it.  Does anyone have an idea of how expensive that would be?  Currently the seam doesn’t continue all the way into the hem so I think it will involve more Frankensteining than I care to pay for.

 

What do you think of these “statement” blazers?  Do you own any bold, printed jackets like this, and if so, how do you style them?  If not, may I suggest the thrift store as a great way to inexpensively try out the concept?  They always have a wide range of options, from subtly interesting to downright wacky depending on how crazy you want to get.

 

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My Love Affair with Texture

This fall/winter as I continue to restyle my cold weather wardrobe, I’ve been looking for just the right pieces to hit my sweet spot – classic with an interesting detail that makes an outfit go from blah/bland to ooooh, yes!  in short order. An unexpected color/pattern, a fresh hem or decorative seam, metal trim or other embellishment all do the trick; but a particularly easy way to do that in cooler weather is with texture, since a funky knit or some velvet instantaneously conveys that cozy “sitting by the fireside with a hot drink in hand” vibe.

You may have noticed that I started to figure this out last year with this sweater:

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Yes, that’s a literal hot drink in hand.

See the contrasting knits along with the split hem? Yum.

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And this dress:

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Also with the contrasting knit (plus a zipper – bonus!):IMG_2753

 

These were two of my favorite pieces last fall/winter, so I wanted to take what worked here and apply elsewhere.  Thus you saw in my fall/winter wardrobe preview these luscious numbers:

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Chain detail!  And metallic weave!  I’m such a punk.

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Cartonnier blazer with salmon/cornflower marl – I can’t even believe this fantastic update to the boring (to me) ol’ grey/black marl exists:

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Two-toned blue sweater by Liz Claiborne – yes please!

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Colors are more accurate in the pic above but I wanted to give you a closeup on that contrasting knit:

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Toppers with stuff happening in them!

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Okay so technically I guess those last few were visual texture (aka pattern) instead of actual texture – knit has a texture of course but these are pretty flat.  I don’t really like sweaters that feature standard Aran knit or cable patterns in the weave – too preppy I guess?  Too expected?  Though other people do make them look lovely…

 

Back to actual texture  – corduroy pants with a wale so soft you’d think it’s velvet!

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And I recently snapped up two more pairs in navy and a cranberry/burgundy/oxblood color featured in these two posts LINK:

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Even the shoes have texture.  PS These pants are also featured in Sunday night’s post.

The navy ones (not pictured) will probably replace my Uniqlo navy pants; even though they are lower rise than I would like, they just feel so much more polished than the Dickies-esque flat texture of the Uniqlo ones.

 

Finally, on the same trip I found the red cords, I also nabbed the rayon/acrylic/cashmere beauty featured here. It’s by Joan Vass Studio and likely retailed between $70 – $90.  I love the rounded hem, the length, the color, and the texture contrast:

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(You can see more pics of me wearing both finds here.)

The tapered vertical lines (a little hard to see in the first pic) and the color reminded me of this top…

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…which I am starting to think is too athleisure for my taste – and also a little too casual for my workplace.  So I’m gonna swap it out and swap in the Joan Vass with a thrift upgrade.

 

As I home in on what I love about interesting, unexpected, contrasting textures – both visual and tactile – I’ll likely fine tune my cool weather wardrobe a bit more.  It might seem like a lot of clothes shuffling, but as I talked about here, I’m a fan of living into my style and trying new things out for new seasons – both weather-wise and life-wise.  Figuring out where my style sweet spot is definitely involves trial and error, but because I love thrifting so much and the price tags are so low, I actually enjoy the process.
What about you – what’s your style love affair?  Do you like the textures I’ve included above or are they too subtle for your taste?  Do you feel like you have to stick with clothes you buy for a season, or do you feel free to swap ’em out as your taste evolves?  Scroll down to comment!

 

 

What I Wore: Adding Color to a Neutral-Heavy Wardrobe

adding-colorMy summer wardrobe has lots of corals, tomato reds, teals, and a dash of cerulean that liven up some neutral pants and dresses.  My winter wardrobe, though?  It’s a pretty stark assemblage of creams, greys, and navies with a tiny touch of blush pink and gold.  I have an open closet and staring at all those neutral cold weather clothes lined up every time I passed was starting to make me feel a little too Ice Queen.

My first thought was to get some red shoes to warm things up.  Because red shoes are SASSY.  They are bold and fun and insouciant and they completely change the tenor of a wardrobe.  And red – either a solid bright red or a darker oxblood variant – would be the perfect winter version of the corals and tomatoes so prominent in my summer closet.

Well, shoes are a bit harder to thrift than other things, partly because our feet come in so many different sizes and partly because I personally have AAA narrow feet and need an arch.  So it’s a rare affair to find thrifted shoes that fit and are comfy, and ankle boots (the style I had in mind) are even harder to come by – as a still-current trend they haven’t really made it to the thrift sales floor en masse yet. (These Sam Edelman suede beauties aside.  I’m still sad they were too big for me.)

I thought for awhile about buying a new pair retail, which is how I have gotten a few pairs of my shoes – either as gifts or bought with my own hard cash – because I care that much about having comfortable, well-shod feet.

But then I started thinking there had to be a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to bring some color into my wardrobe.  I realized I already owned nail polish in oxblood that I LOVE and could easily sport on days when I’m feeling too neutral.  I also already had a scarf in the neighborhood of cranberry and with some gold and coral accents that would make it interesting and translatable to other parts of my wardrobe.  So far I hadn’t spent a cent and my closet already had more life!

I was still hoping for an actual piece of clothing, though, so I thought about thrifting for a turtleneck or thin sweater in burgundy/cranberry/oxblood.  But I was a little wary of wearing the color near my face since it’s pretty robust for my skin tone.

Then I nabbed the Talbots catalogue that comes to my boss at work and spent my lunch flipping through it for inspiration.  (I feel like Talbots is about half twee and half dead ringer for my style…so this little habit is a half-guilty pleasure.)  The color and texture of this “rum raisin” skirt fell in the dead ringer category and I made a mental note that that hue would work as a great “red” for fall/winter.

Lo and behold, the very next Saturday I had a chance to go to my local Goodwill and flip through the pants racks for something similar.  I found American Eagle Outfitters jeggings (great fit, too casual for work), Talbots cords in a spectacular flame red-orange (my size but didn’t fit and too intense), and some Style & Co. cords in a slightly redder, less purple cast of “rum raisin.”  They were a size larger than my normal and marked “P,” but something told me to try them on anyway.

They fit!  Well, they fit in the waist and had a nice high rise, although a belt may be necessary; but they are too short in the leg for my normal taste.  HOWEVER they are the perfect length for wearing with ankle boots without having to cuff/tuck/overlap:

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I also picked up this Joan Vass top which is a perfect fit for my wardrobe for reasons I’ll write about next week.  This outfit would have read a lot more neutral/monochrome with grey pants or cream pants, but instead the red changes things up completely.  It’s able to bring a little fall to those green green trees you see in the background…10 days into October.  Not complaining though!

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Giving the photographer that “quit making me do weird facial expressions” look.

The split hem draws attention to the two colors playing off each other:

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Which I gotta do whenever I can since even my necklaces are neutral:

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Top: Joan Vass Studio, thrifted
Pants: Style & Co., thrifted
Ankle boots: Lucky Brand, Christmas gift
Necklace: DIY from thrifted parts

 

That’s the saga of adding some color to my neutral-heavy winter wardrobe – and for now, I think it’s enough.  I can’t wait to pair these pants with almost infinite top/cardigan combinations since they will all work together.  I’m looking forward to painting the nails when it gets well and truly cold – that color’s a little dramatic for fall.  And I’m excited to try that scarf out with my white sheath dress – or what else?  Scroll down with suggestions!

If you’d like some more ideas about adding color to your neutral closet, check out this series (link goes to the oldest in the series) and this series (link goes to the newest post in series) over at The Vivienne Files.  I hope my post convinces you that you don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of stuff (thrifted or not) to enliven your wardrobe; Janice’s visual magic might help you envision how one or two pieces could make what you already have really pop.

 

If you have a neutral-heavy wardrobe, do you ever feel the desire for some COLOR?  If so, how do you mix it in?

 

 

Why You Shouldn’t Duplicate What Works (and a sneak peek at my winter wardrobe restyling)

As I’ve been retooling my off-season wardrobe, I’ve been tempted to double down on the one sweater I kept from this past winter’s wardrobe – my snow leopard print beauty:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Here is some photo evidence of my apparent obsession (and/or sartorial laziness) regarding animal print: Continue reading “Why You Shouldn’t Duplicate What Works (and a sneak peek at my winter wardrobe restyling)”

I’m Breaking Up with Sheer

I’ve never been in love with sheer clothing.  It looks sexy on other people, but for me it feels like something I’d have to be 15 and going to the beach to pull off, or at the very least headed out clubbing.  (Nothing against clubbing, you’re just more likely to catch me bowling.)

I have a couple of tops that are juuuuust sheer enough to require a layer underneath to qualify as office appropriate, and I was excited last year to thrift a silk camisole that would serve that purpose grandly while breathing and holding up decently.

But honestly, it’s just annoying. Continue reading “I’m Breaking Up with Sheer”

Signature Accessories

Do you have a signature accessory?

I’m talking about the piece you always wear – or the specific style of accessory from which you never deviate.

They add that recognizable detail to your look, save you time and money – no dithering about what to wear or whether you should buy new stuff! – and, hopefully, they put a smile on your face.

Mine are, in no particular order… Continue reading “Signature Accessories”

The Style Doctor Pays a House Call

This post should really be called “The Style Magician…” because that is what my friend called the process when she talked about it to her spouse. But I don’t think magicians pay house calls, and “The Style Magician” sounded a lot more hokey than “The Style Doctor.”

A few weeks ago my friend Caitlin asked if I would come hang at her house and help her evaluate her style (and her closet).  I couldn’t say YES! fast enough. Continue reading “The Style Doctor Pays a House Call”