Dressing Up a Breton Stripe Tee, Two Ways

My last few Thursday nights have been marked by a distinct lack of sleep. But Mama’s gotta work; wearing this Madewell Breton stripe tee (which is super comfortable – it basically feels like pajamas) is as close as I could get to staying in bed.  How to dress up such a casual-vibe top without completely scrapping the comfort factor?

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Decidedly casual.

I wore the outfits below on two consecutive Fridays to play with the styling a bit:

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Both: shirt, Madewell; blazer, Charlotte Russe; sneakers, City Sneaks. First: pants, Vince Camuto. Second: pants, Bandolino.

And how’s here I added some spit and polish:

The blazer was key to smartening up both of these looks; its touch of stretch kept it from feeling too confining or stiff.

How I dressed it up in the first photo: the “cigarette” pants are in a slim cut and a neutral hue. The necklace (closeup photo below) lends a little gravitas – it’s a focal point with some character.  And my cuff bracelet makes the whole thing look “finished.”

How I dressed it up in the second: the tucked shirt and skinny belt give a pulled-together look. While the sunglasses-as-headband look definitely reads “beach” in parts of the country, they are my first well-made, non-scavenged pair and they made me feel more dressy. (More on these in a later post.)

Admittedly the floral sneakers round this down to the casual end of “business casual.” If I really wanted to dress up, I would’ve combined all the polished elements listed above into one outfit (grey pants, tucked/belted tee, statement necklace, cuff bracelet) and skipped straight to my bronze wedges:
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But the combos above passed muster for Casual Friday in my office and prevented me from feeling like a slob even though I *did* feel like going back to sleep.

Here’s a closeup on the necklace, a vintage number that belonged to my Grandma:
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Do you have any tricks for dressing up t-shirts?  Or for masquerading pj-level comfy outfits as workwear? Scroll down to share!

 

What I Wore: Pink & Wine

I don’t know if the color of this scarf is properly called “wine” but I’m going with it:

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Dress: H&M
Blazer: Cartonnier
Scarf: no label – I think it’s wool
Sandals: Clarks (retail)

Here’s a closeup.  The “wine” color is a bit intense/saturated compared to my normal wardrobe palette, but the pink/gold/orange tones in it lighten things up a bit, as does the pink jacket and the white dress:
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Mmmm, print-mixing…

I don’t do square scarves very often and this is why:WP_20170509_13_05_12_Pro

I can’t get them to stay where I want/showing the part of the pattern I want. Suggestions? Maybe I’ll just pin the sucker to my dress next time…

Here is the outfit sans blazer:
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Side view:
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Styling: I started with a dress; Tuesday = yoga day which calls for a simple one-piece to change into after 90 minutes of down dog. I wanted to warm things up with some red-based tones after having worn navy blue-heavy outfits the previous three days, and I knew the v-neck of the dress would work well as a spot to showcase a scarf; hence this particular number, with colors that make me beam!
I knew we’d have meetings in chilly parts of the building so I added a blazer, with this woman’s wide range of reds as inspiration for my color choice:

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From this post

That way I could also justify keeping my red nail polish on!

I rolled my cuffs and went to work (literally).

Thoughts: the print-mixing on this is my happy place. I really like how the pink/wine (mulberry?)/red all read together and have Costco lady above to thank for that. In hindsight I would have worn a gold necklace peeping through the scarf and my gold cuff to bring a little more polish (and pick up the gold tones in the scarf).

What are your tricks for making a scarf stay in place? What do you think of my smorgasboard of red-based hues?  Scroll down to comment.

A Tale of Two Outfits; or, Context Is Everything

Here are two outfits I’ve worn within the last week. If you were following my 10×10 challenge, I bet you can guess which felt more “me”:
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Left: blouse by Lucky Brand; chinos by Gap; sneakers by City Sneaks. Right: blouse by Talbots; blazer by Charlotte Russe; pants by Alfani; cuff by Monet; wedge slides by Bandolino. Everything thrifted. 

Well, it’s kind of a trick question.  The outfit on the right is definitely more “me” for work. It has clean, polished lines and the pattern and necklace (close up below) give it some interest without being crazily funky. PS It features the pants I thrifted to fill the “navy dress pants” slot in yesterday’s thrift list; together with the blazer I think it a good informal “suit.”

As you can probably tell from the background, though, I wore both to work. And I felt “meh” in the more casual outfit, even though I wore it on a Friday when my work environment relaxes a bit. All day I was wondering whether I needed to donate this shirt since I felt so lukewarm about it, a feeling I’d had before. (Yes I think about my clothes more than is strictly necessary/normal.)

But then I asked myself why I wasn’t loving it – because on paper I dig the silhouette, the popover neck, the roll-tab sleeves, the color palette, the fabric detail (below), and even the embroidery.  Turns out I simply felt too casual, not polished enough for work.  (I think it was all the cotton – apparently I need fancy synthetic or silk fabrics to feel dressed up.)

Well, then my conundrum morphed into an altogether different question: why couldn’t I just move this shirt from my closet rack to my casual/weekend drawer? I wore it with shorts after I got home to play outside with my child, and suddenly I liked it again. I stored it that night in my drawer and felt a sense of cohesion and relief. (Again, yes, I emote about my clothes a lot – in the name of feeling GREAT about them all the time!)

Funny what asking the right question plus a simple change of context will do for your outfit.

Here’s a closeup of both blouses (necklace up top from a childhood trip to New Mexico; necklace below belonged to my Grandma):

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Which outfit do you prefer?  When has context changed your feelings about a particular piece of clothing or an outfit?

Ireland: What I Wore & Where We Went

If you’re not sick of Ireland posts yet, here’s how I put together outfits from my carry-on suitcase over 9 days (including travel) and everything from tourist sites to hiking to wedding festivities.  Buckle your seatbelt, we gotta lotta pictures in this post!

 

Day one – Dublin

My traveling/wandering-around-Dublin-on-no-sleep outfit, in front of the Táin Mural near Nassau street (hey Queen Maeve!):

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To save suitcase room and travel comfortably, I flew and toured the first day in my pj shirt and pj leggings (not shown under my jeans).  If you’re wondering, that’s Hope and Will, the mascots of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where I was a chaplain resident.IMG_20170225_054730

We ate breakfast at Hatch & Sons, a cozy and charming restaurant that feels like eating at your grandma’s (if she lived in a plastered thatched roof cottage):

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Vegetarian Irish breakfast was very reasonable at €5 and eminently tasty. The full version is pictured here:efea29d91b41b1ed5836bc1d88c30239
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We wandered around and took silly pictures with the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park until it was time to  check in at our Air BnB.  Our host Aoife was absolutely lovely and as a food writer gave us all the downlow on good vegetarian and pescatarian restaurants as well as ideas on things to visit (this is how we found out about the Dublin Flea Market).

That expression on Oscar’s face is priceless.

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Then it was time to meet Joe, our host for City of a Thousand Welcomes.  This free program is genius: if you are a first-time visitor to Dublin, all you have to do is sign up for a date/time and tell a little bit about yourself, and you are magically whisked off by a native Dubliner for a free pint (or tea/coffee) while they regale you with stories about Irish history and recommendations for Dublin places/events/activities that fit your interests.

I neglected to get a picture of Joe, who charmingly brought us guide materials in a TJ Maxx bag from his last visit to see his sister in California because he thought it would make us feel welcome!  But here is the Merrion hotel, where he took us for pints:

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Quite fancy, no?

When you’ve done the City of a Thousand Welcomes, admission to the Little Museum, which sponsors the programs, is also free!  And you also get 10% off your bill at Hatch (if only we’d known).  I’m telling you, this is the best and cheapest way to start off any trip to Dublin.

The tour at the Little Museum was a lively 30 minutes and gave us a great overview of Dublin’s history from the 1916 Rising on.  Everything inside was donated by Dubliners, including the current exhibit on U2.  Super fascinating!

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We spent the rest of the day wandering the picturesque streets.  The signs are all in Irish, then English:IMG_4933

Lots of design shops where all the contents are by Irish designers:IMG_4956

Christchurch Cathedral:IMG_4958IMG_4959

A taste of at least one political view:IMG_4962

Abandoned church for sale:IMG_4969

Busty Molly Malone and a piper:IMG_4968 IMG_4971
Heh heh.

Dinner that night was at a vegan restaurant called Sova Vegan Butcher which had some tasty points but also some not-very-well-seasoned bits, and thus felt a bit pricey for the fare.  Afterwards we walked down the street to Devitts where people our age or younger were in charge of the traditional music (flutes, concertina, guitars) and no one was shy about dancing. We may have ended up with a tile from the floor of the pub kicked loose by a drunken Irishman who insisted we take it home to America as a souvenir from an “authentic” Irish pub…

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In the morning we hit up the Dublin Flea Market (pictures/writeup here) before wandering lots more through the streets and taking care of a few thank-you presents for folks back at home.

After a delicious and affordable falafel lunch at Umi, we popped over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells (no photos allowed). While that was quite interesting, I think the price of admission was a bit steep.  Good thing it included the Long Room right above the Book of Kells: IMG_4963

I wish I could somehow share with you the smell… the whole place was infused with the aroma of old books.  Glorious!  200,000 books from the 14th through 18th centuries are stacked in those two-story alcoves.  One of the security officials was quite a ham and teased us when we asked when it stopped being an active library and became a museum: “I didn’t get the memo!” Turns out you can still take books out, albeit just into a special reading room.IMG_4964

Oh hey, it’s the harp that became the symbol of Ireland! Cs5HckxVUAAdhtb
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And an original printing of the 1916 proclamation declaring Ireland a free country:

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Dinner that night was at an Indian restaurant called Pickle, with quite spicy and tasty dishes – I got a veggie mix with asparagus in it, which was fun, and the Spouse went a little more classic with chana masala and puri.  A bit expensive; the marquee-sized Bollywood posters were great fun.

Day 3 – Glendalough

We took a day trip down to Glendalough, a valley in the Wicklow Mountains that is home to a 6th century abbey started by St. Kevin (don’t you just love that there is a St. Kevin?) and to numerous walking and hiking trails.

First up, the awkward outfit shot with the spouse cropped out:
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I layered my silk long john shirt and my bamboo tech shirt under my rain jacket and my leggings under my jeans.  The jeans got a bit muddy but luckily we had laundry facilities at our next accommodations.

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Drunken tombstones:IMG_4993

Ruins of the cathedral:IMG_4985 IMG_4980On the right is the bell/defense tower, where the monks would ring the bells for prayers but also hole up inside if invaders approached.

We made a quick pit stop…

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And then got hiking. I thought the little sprinkling of white was some kind of lichen…but no, it’s snow.  (It snowed for a few moments while we hiked!)

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An abandoned mine is tucked back in that valley:IMG_5037

I expected to see a hobbit pop out at any time.IMG_5050 IMG_5051 IMG_5063IMG_5039

It was stark and so beautiful, almost tundra-like.  We picnicked with bread, cheese, and apples at the top of the boardwalk-style path above and felt on top of the world.  Waterfalls little and big were everywhere, and every time we turned a corner there was some new astounding view…  Since we took a wrong turn and hiked on a timber road for half the journey, we had the forest all to ourselves for a good while.  It was such a different landscape from what I see at home and what I expected from Ireland.  This was probably my favorite thing (tied with the Burren) we did all trip.

Day 4 – Galway

That outfit pose where you’re trying to look awake! And excited! This is the navy blue turtleneck under the polkadot vest paired with my cream corduroys and navy Puma sneaks (and yes I’m still wearing leggings underneath): IMG_5066

We ate at Hooked for dinner after our late arrival the night before:IMG_5070

Thatched roof cottages!IMG_5073

The beach right next to the park commemorating all who sailed away from Ireland via Galway during the height of the Potato Famine:IMG_5086

A local harvesting mollusks of some kind:IMG_5090

A side branch of the River Corrib, and schoolgirls who thought it’d be funny to pose in our tourist photo (it was):IMG_5099

Houses on the Long Walk:IMG_5100

Our AirBnB host Rosemary was a treat, inviting us to share Pancake Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) with her friends, meeting us out for a pint, and giving us more great restaurant recs including the best meal (in my opinion) we had in Ireland at the Quay Street Kitchen (pr. “Key Street” for all you Americans – or maybe just me? – tempted to say “kway”).

She also explained all the ribbons tied on the Wolfe Tone bridge over the River Corrib – they had just popped up in the last few weeks as a sort of Pont des Arts love locks thing, with people writing messages on over a hundred ribbons flying in the wind:IMG_5105

That copper dome in the middle is Galway Cathedral, which we visited next.  Built in the 1960s on the site of the city’s former jail, it was such a beautiful combination of stone and wood, classical architecture and modern stained glass, and light play:IMG_5133IMG_5134IMG_5118

My spouse was totally into Jesus’ rainbow comet trails due to stained glass:IMG_5117

So on the left is Pádraig Pearse, one of the Easter Rising martyrs and an Irish nationalist, and JFK is on the right.  Y’know, just chilling, praying to Jesus in an Irish cathedral.  (JFK was EVERYWHERE in Ireland.  Those people are seriously proud of the first U.S. Irish-American president.)IMG_5135

Father P(eter?) Rabbitte has an office here:IMG_5136

Then more wandering…
…into Irish design shops – this time some lovely jewelry:IMG_5137 IMG_5138 IMG_5139 IMG_5140

…past a random medieval castle turned into a bank:IMG_5142

…and ending with some pretty solid buskers whose music we enjoyed with a cup of delicious hot chocolate and some cappuccino:IMG_5148

Day 5 – Galway

I wore the same clothes as Day 4 so we could wash and air dry stuff that was dirty.  No judgment.

This was Ash Wednesday so we started off with an intimate service at St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, where the parishioners were very welcoming and didn’t mind us peering over their shoulders to share prayer books. Then we sat in on part of a tour being given to local students and learned a thing or two about the church’s history and architecture.  St. Nicholas is the largest still-functioning parish church (aka non-cathedral) in Ireland and was built by Galway’s powerful merchant families (one of whom, the Lynches, owned the castle above) in the middle ages.

I loved the yellow walls and ceilings which made the inside glow like the daffodils decorating the church:

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Like many churches in Ireland, you can see evidence of Cromwell’s soldiers’ destruction of all human-like images, considered by the overzealous Puritans of the 17th century to be idolatrous:  IMG_5166

Ironically, the church is now Church of Ireland (meaning Protestant, not Catholic) – so I guess Cromwell got his way?

The Church of Ireland shares space with two Orthodox congregations, who have marked off sacred space with an altar screen featuring lovely icons:

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A beautifully ecumenical thumb in the eye of Cromwell, who probably would have hated these as well even though icons aren’t seen as graven images in Eastern churches.

A little thank-you-gift hunting at O’Maille – they have a great online store full of luscious Irish yarn and woven/knit garments.  Look at the colors on this Donegal tweed blanket! I die.

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And at Wooden Heart, three delightfully narrow stories full of wooden and hands-on toys tucked into a 440-year-old building:IMG_5171

Then lunch at Ard Bia in another ancient edifice:IMG_5161

And off to the (free!) Galway city museum, which featured exhibits on archaeology, the city’s fishing industry, Galwegians in WWI, and the Easter Rising, both historical and in contemporary art.  One of the coolest things was this set of interactive maps of the city from various eras, each with blue dots marking famous sights which you could pull up in contemporary images or vintage postcards:IMG_5173

The sword and scepter of Galway given by the English monarch, which William Randolph Hearst just *happened* to own for years and then returned to the city (imagine that guy’s attic):IMG_5176

Old glass bottles:IMG_5177

A hooker, the classic Galwegian fishing vessel (it says “Galway” in Irish):IMG_5180

Somewhere in there we stopped by Gourmet Tart Co. for delicious raspberry & custard tarts:IMG_5181

Wandered some more, noticing fun window displays:IMG_5182 IMG_5183
It’s a shoe shop.  Go figure.

We stopped for a flight of Irish whiskeys at Tigh Neachtain, and spent an hour gabbing with our AirBnB host who had come there with a book to read.  Thus we learned that in Ireland pubs are basically coffee shops.  IMG_5186

This was the night we ate at Quay Street Kitchen, just across the street.  Afterwards we caught a free singer-songwriter (well, two were bands) showcase at Roisin Dubh (pr. “Ruh-SHEEN Dove”), a famous music club with (of course) a pub attached.  Loud but lively!

 

Day 6- Drive through the Burren to Spanish Point

This outfit is exactly the same as Day 4 (and 5) but with a camel sweater.  And yes, I did change underwear.  And yes, I did get these cream pants quite dirty by the end of the trip.  But they washed clean!IMG_5210

Dunguaire (pr. dhoon-GOO-irra) Castle in Kinvara.  Y’know, when there are just random castles on the side of the road…IMG_5188

A stroll around the castle:
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Next we drove through the Burren, more of which will be pictured below since it was raining this day. We stopped at The Burren Perfumery which makes all of its perfumes/soaps/lotions/etc. from local botanicals through processes that preserve the fragile Burren ecosystem.  They also have a free tea room where you can sample their herbal teas (and where we ate our supermarket picnic with soda bread, smoked salmon, local cheese, and apples. Yum!):IMG_5207

Children who had come to the tea room drew charming pictures representing their visit:IMG_5203

As did Tom, aged 26:
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Day 7 – Cliffs of Moher and a Wedding in Spanish Point

The weather didn’t mess around Day 7 and neither did I – silk undershirt, tech shirt, and the thickest sweater I’d brought (and had not yet worn) prepared me for a rainy, windy morning at the Cliffs.IMG_5212

Here’s a sneak peek of the weather as we drove through Lahinch, a renowned surfing spot, on our way to the cliffs.  Impressively several surfers were out braving the 40 degree temps and the sizable waves: IMG_5218

The cliffs in their misty, 700+ feet glory:IMG_5219IMG_5229

O’Brien’s tower, built for tourists in the 1800s:IMG_5231

Accurate signs:IMG_5236IMG_5241

We made it back just in time to shower and dress for the wedding.  I’m a goober and didn’t take any pics (I was busy officiating, okay?!), but here’s a pic of my outfit in terrible lighting:
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I’m making the W for our alma mater.

Here’s the dress in better light, a pic from when I first bought it as a possibility for another wedding:

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Day 8 – Lahinch, Hike in the Burren, drive back to Dublin

It was cold enough that this, plus jeans, is all I showed to the world.  I wore the same leopard-print sweater underneath.  Apologies for disembodied spousal hand:

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We returned to Lahinch in better weather on our meandering drive back to Dublin:

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Particularly to get my sister a gift from a woman-owned, designed, and printed T-shirt shop:IMG_5260

Her screen printing setup:  IMG_5245

I took a class on screen printing in highschool and was madly impressed with the intricacy, color, and cleanness of her prints.  You can see/order them here.

What a difference a day makes – this is the same beach as before:IMG_5261

Surfing spectators.  There was definitely a surfing subculture going on here that I would never have associated with Ireland – which shows you how little I know about surfing, particularly in colder climes!IMG_5257

We stocked up for lunch at a small grocery shop and headed back to the Burren to enjoy a day hike in much better weather than when we first drove through.  First though some obstacles in the road:IMG_5265

The views!IMG_5268

 

Below is where our 3-mile walk began.  The seemingly barren limestone landscape is called karst and was created in large part due to humans overgrazing livestock in the Stone Age.  Ironically this now-tundra-like environment is home to a fragile ecosystem full of rare wildflowers (hence why the Burren Perfumery set up shop there) for which there is a considerable conservation effort. Human influence on the world around us is so complicated…

PS check out that limestone wall:IMG_5276

Hazel trees:IMG_5292

Cows in dramatic lighting: IMG_5294

More ancient walls:IMG_5296IMG_5303

Karst, worn away by wind and rain, up close:

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We walked around a turlough, a kind of seasonal lake that occurs when the karst can’t drain rainwater fast enough:IMG_5336

Cow with attitude:IMG_5357

Overgrown walls (I’m sensing a bovine/wall theme here):IMG_5369

Did I mention we had canine companions herding us for the entire 3 miles?  No nipping, just gentle herding whenever I stopped too long to take a picture (which was frequently):IMG_5374

Informative signs:IMG_5377

One of the karst hills in stark contrast to neighboring green fields:IMG_5393

A cow we surprised when we had to pull onto the verge to let another car squeak past (driving on narrow-to-the-point-of-one-lane Irish country roads is not for the faint of heart!):IMG_5399

Stream next to Dunguaire, which we passed again on our way back to Galway/the highway:IMG_5412

And that’s the end!  We drove three hours back to Dublin, scarfed some Pakistani takeout, and crashed into our final AirBnB before getting up at the crack of dawn to catch our flight back to the States.  What a grand adventure!

Gold star if you made it to the end.  I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. :)

 

What I Wore: Cerulean Plaid Blazer

You may recall my first foray into plaid blazer territory:

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Last week I found another plaid blazer by the same brand (Merona), same size, featuring some gorgeous blues:

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It came home with me, of course, although I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to wear it. Those are some pretty striking hues:

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It’s hard to tell but some of the skinny lines are pretty much purple.

But I figured I could use it in place of the lint-collecting navy blazer that had lost its shape in the laundry. (Yes, I know, not a good idea to wash a blazer. Sometimes I am lazy and foolhardy.)

My first attempt at creating an outfit with it turned out rather Dionne and Cher from Clueless:

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The high contrast plus the turtleneck made for a very 90s vibe. I wasn’t really feeling the throwback look and figured I could fix it with a crew neck top, but I was already dressed and was feeling the late-to-work look even less.

I tried again on Sunday, a grey and cool day that practically shouted corduroy and plaid – style notes as you scroll through:

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Why is it that Merona blazers fit me better than most fancy-pants brands I find at the thrift store?  Not that I’m complaining…just curious about their spot-on fit, which I associate with higher quality stuff than Target brands.

 

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Sweater: Gap Designed & Crafted, thrifted
Corduroy pants: Style & Co., thrifted and tailored (waist taken in)
Blazer: Merona, thrifted
Socks: Target, retail
Ankle boots: Lucky Brand, gift from The Sister
Necklace: DIY from Goodwill finds

This time I think the softer oatmeal shade and the crew neck on this Gap sweater made things a little less eye-popping. The marled texture and split hem on the sweater also gave it a more current feel:

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As did the snakeskin print ankle boots:

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Next time it’s truly chilly I’ll be excited to pair this blazer with my navy turtleneck sweater to see if tamping down the contrast but leaving the high neck will work as well as I imagine.

 

How would you wear this bold blazer – if you would wear it at all? Was Clueless a cinematic touchstone of your youth?  If not, what’s your favorite stylistic movie reference? Scroll down to comment.

 

What I Wore & How I Styled It: Steve Urkel Chic

Last week, without realizing it, I dressed like a great style icon of the 90s – Steve Urkel:

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I subbed a belt for suspenders, but otherwise I had his look down: coordinating cardigan, high-waisted pants, high hems on those pants, and ankle socks:

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Swiss dot cotton button down by Merona – thrifted
Wine corduroy pants by Style & Co. – thrifted

Merino wool cardigan by Talbots – thrifted
Leopard print hair belt by J. Crew – thrifted
Socks by Target – retail
Shoes by Clarks – retail

How’d I get to this fabulous combination?

First up: base pieces.  I started off wanting some warm hues after a week in my travel wardrobe‘s polar palette, so I paired this button down with these pants:

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The current iteration of this shirt, you may have noticed, is a true button down instead of the former popover tunic. I swapped the tunic version (too narrow in the chest/hips) for this same brand/print in a slightly larger size.  Yes, I cried a little to lose the popover cut and length, but I wanted to wear this great textured pattern more often than the constant tug-and-reposition act was inspiring me to do.  Comfort over style, people – or rather, style informed by comfort.

Next: a topper. My workplace is chilly in some spots but the temp outside was supposed to hit 66 F – hey Hotlanta, I love you so much this time of year! – so I decided to add a thin cardigan I could layer/unlayer with ease.  I went back and forth between the one on the left (from my spring wardrobe), which would have made for an interesting contrast in hem lengths, and the one on the right, which brought some extra punch in the pattern department:

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Hmm, the outfit on the left is basically this same outfit, translated for warmer weather.

Surprise surprise – I just couldn’t resist the contrast of two great patterns (one subtle) in related colors and chose the cable pattern one.

I buttoned the top several buttons because, left to its own devices, the top button flops around and doesn’t stay put, but I left the bottom several unbuttoned because I wanted the contrast in patterns to show through:

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Since the hem on this shirt isn’t as long as it used to be, I next had to decide whether to tuck or untuck.  The relatively similar length of the button down and the cardigan answered that for me – I’d much rather have a visual contrast between hem lengths than have them line up in a way that cuts me off:

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Well, then, of course the high waist drew attention to itself and looked funny with no belt.  Out came my trusty leopard belt – a print that functions like a neutral:

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A little less of a closeup:

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Last but not least, metallic bronze flats that would pick up the warm browns in the belt and the shiny gold of the cardigan buttons; and striped socks with all the constituent colors represented (a feat that makes me ridiculously happy):

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That’s a lot of sock showing.

 

So what do y’all think of my high-tide, pattern-mixing homage to Urkel – is it “No sweat, my pet”?  Or more along the lines of “Got any cheeeeeeese”?

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Scroll down to comment!

 

What I Wore: Thrifting an Outfit for a Party with a Dress Code / New Years Eve

This post is about an outfit I thrifted for a birthday party with a dress code, but could easily work for a New Year’s Eve bash or other one-off fancy holiday party.  

My fabulous friend Sheena had her birthday party a few Saturdays ago (Sagittarians in the house!) and the dress code was “all black.”

If you have been reading for any length of time you will know that I decided awhile back that black washes me out and that therefore I have almost no black in my wardrobe. The few items I can think of that involve black use it as a pattern on top of some other non-black base color:

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Plus a pair of black leggings that I use for running.

Everything else you see in my closet that might look like black is, in fact, dark grey or navy.

Sheena knows this and knows that I am thrifty and didn’t want me to have to buy a completely new outfit, so she graciously offered to let me go with navy. But what is thrifting for if not being able to rise to the occasion/dress code on short notice and small budget? Challenge accepted.

Our staff holiday party was Friday and everyone went home early afterwards, so after doing some necessary chores I was off to the Goodwill to see if I could put together an ensemble tout noir. My strategy was to start with the black leggings I already own, add a black dress (quite abundant in the thrift store) and finish off with a topper to keep me warm. I had previously donated my black flats that I wore very infrequently, so I got permission from the birthday woman to wear my cream and dark grey snakeskin print ankle boots. They’d add some nice contrast but easily crop out of a photo.

Tip: When thrifting a dress for something one-off, first figure out your parameters – color? hem length? sleeve length? fabric? – and sift through the options on that basis.

For the dress, I was pretty sure I wanted to go with long sleeved (for warmth) and just-above-the-knee, so I skimmed over the black dress section starting at the bottom and looking for shorter hems.  When I found a hem I liked, I pulled it out by the fabric (not the hanger) to 1) get a feel for the fabric quality and 2) see the sleeve length.  It turned out there were not a lot of long-sleeved dresses and I didn’t like any of them, so I switched to short sleeved/sleeveless and figured I’d just keep my topper on.

Look at all these options!  The black section is definitely the largest part of the dress rack.  L to R: Loft, Zara Basic, Calvin Klein, H&M, Liz Sport, BCBG Max Azria, H&M, detail of back, H&M.

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If I had been thrifting something I’d also keep to wear to work, I would’ve gone with the last one – it’s my favorite silhouette (sheath) with pockets and an interesting neck detail:

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But since this was a party, and I don’t wear black on the regular, I went for something more fun!

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It’s a sleeveless v-neck high quality polyester dress with a flare skirt that felt very festive to me.  As I was walking past the blazer rack a new-with-tags Chico’s blazer with sleek lines and contrast collar/side panels jumped out at me, and I realized pairing it with the dress would bring a modern touch to the more 90s ice skater feel of the dress.

 

See the incredible contrast details on this blazer?

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The final outfit:

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Dress: Jones New York, thrifted new with tags, retailed for $100
Blazer: Chico’s, thrifted, new with tags
Leggings: American Apparel, retail (made in USA)
Ankle boots: Lucky Brand, gift from my sister
Necklace: DIY from thrifted parts

 

I LOVE the jacket.  It is so damn modern and clean-lined, and it fits like a glove.  Chico’s, I have wanted to be old enough to buy your stuff since I was 12, and you have proven my preteen longing right (again).  I wish, a little bit, that this blazer were navy and…whatever the charcoal equivalent of navy is.  Textured navy?  Heathered navy?  But since this baby is in perfect condition and so sleek, I’ll quit complaining and start thinking of ways to style this wardrobe outlier.  Thoughts?

And the dress – I love the neckline and how gorgeous it feels (high-end polyester for the win!).  The cut of the skirt is not super-current BUT feels very party-ish, and I think it would be perfect for an evening wedding or a super fancy cocktail party.   Except I never get invited or go to such things.  That being the case, I feel like this BRAND NEW WITH TAGS, $100 dress should go to someone who will glory in it, especially since thrift stores are the best place to find swanky duds that fit your unique style and not just whatever silhouette the retail world has dictated must be sold.  So I will likely donate it – after the holidays, in case I get invited, unexpectedly, to some fancy New Year’s Eve bash (and assuming we can find a babysitter).

For $13 I had a great outfit that fit the party parameters and which will not kill my bank balance even if I never wear it again.  Win!

 

And now for the fun, with the lovely Sheena in all her birthday glory!  We celebrated at an upscale bowling spot, hence the ugly-chic velcro shoes:

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Please to note Sheena’s fabulous sparkle top and hoop earrings.  Not thrifted, but still.

In some photos (like the above) my sleeves have un-scrunched themselves, but for most of the evening I styled it with sleeves scrunched up, which made it feel more current:

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In the background, Sheena’s delicious cream-black handbag in the back (also not thrifted, but still) and a bottle of birthday champagne.

A little later, a little sweatier, and with my offending charcoal grey jacket (because it was ALL BLACK, Leah, DUH) gone:

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PS I am a bowling fox:

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Have I convinced you that thrift stores are the perfect spot to pick up a one-off outfit?  (Or am I preaching to the choir?)  What do you think of my finds?  What have you, dear readers, thrifted in one-off fashion?  Scroll down to share!

 

What I Wore/How I Styled It: Summer Dress in Winter Weather

I thrifted a lovely little number this week and felt inspired to wear it right away – the sign of a good thrift.  There was just one problem – it was a cotton shirt dress.  Even in Atlanta, December is not always friendly to warm weather clothes.  But I was determined.

My biggest tip for wearing warm weather clothes in cold weather? Layer both over and under.

So I started with a sleeveless undershirt to keep me warm.  (If it had been even colder I would’ve gone with my cream turtleneck.)

Then I put the dress on and tried out a few different leg-coverings: regular thin-ish cream leggings, cable-knit white leggings.  The first seemed too summery, and the second were too white – not the warm cream tone I was going for to pair up with this delicious caramel dress.  Then it hit me that my cream corduroys would be the perfect color and warmth.  Et voilà:

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I spy an undershirt:img_4804

I nabbed two of these rings at the Goodwill the other week and popped one on as a necklace and wore one as a ring:|img_4805

Hello glorious safari details:  img_4796

Then I popped my big fuzzy sweater on top to make sure I was cozy.  First wear of the season for this baby:img_4794
Sorry it’s a little blurry – I’m still not great at taking outfit selfies!

And here’s a sassy little bow:img_4791

My favorite – roll tab sleeves!  This sweater is kind of like a shedding polar bear, though:img_4803

 

Last but not least, textured socks and bronze snakeskin flats:img_4801

Shirt dress: Jones New York, thrifted
Undershirt: Cuddleduds?  Can’t tell for sure; thrifted
Sweater cardigan: Loft, thrifted
Corduroys: Lauren jeans by Ralph Lauren, thrifted (new with tags) and tailored
Socks: Target, retail
Shoes: Clarks, retail

 

What warm weather pieces do you wear in the cold, and how do you style them?  Scroll down to comment?

 

 

What I Wore: Liturgically Appropriate Advent Wear

Warning: this post contains liturgical nerdiness in the extreme.

This past Sunday was the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (Latin for “rejoice”) Sunday. In many Catholic and Protestant traditions, the candles on the Advent wreath – one lit for each Sunday leading up to Christmas – are all purple except for the one representing joy this Sunday, which is rose.

(Many other Protestant and a minority of Catholic churches [since it’s illegal under Catholic law] use a color called Sarum blue, derived from the liturgical palette of Salisbury cathedral, for all of Advent.  The idea is that since purple is the color used for Lent, a penitentiary season, something different and more joyful should be used for Advent.  But old schoolers reply that this is 1) liturgical wishful thinking and/or 2) that Advent IS penitential in some ways as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child into a beautiful but messed up world.  As I promised – definitely more than you cared to know.)

Anyway, Episcopalian and Catholic clergy get to rock some pretty rad vestments on this day:

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My dear friend Sarah (2nd from right) at her former parish rocking the rose vestments.  (Butterfly headpiece optional.)  Source.

 

Sadly the only thing I own in this hue is strictly for warm weather.  But I did try to communicate some joy with the blush pink in this sweater:

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Sweater: Forever 21, thrifted
Corduroy pants: Banana Republic, thrifted

Snakeskin print ankle boots: Lucky Brand, gifted to me by my sister
Necklace: DIYed from Goodwill finds
Cuff: heirloom from my grandma

 

Close up on the very, very faint blush pink in the sweater:

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Pretty lousy attempt at a joy-filled color, no?  So I stuck these fun socks down below, which are both closer in hue to “rose” and make me smile every time I wear them, particularly so in cold weather:

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Socks: Target

Now that you are equipped with obscure trivia for sherry hour at the rectory, scroll down and tell me about the last time you dressed in a particular color for an event.

This post brought to you by the Vicar of Dibley, whom I sure has rose vestments somewhere…

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…and who would invite you over for scotch, not sherry.

 

What I Wore/How I Styled It: Rainy Day Wherein I Fail at Button Downs Under Sweaters

This is what I wore to church yesterday.  Can you tell it was a rainy day?  (Hence the indoor photos and strong overhead light.)

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Plaid button down by Japna – thrifted
Blue sweater by Loft – thrifted
Blazer by Cartonnier – thrifted
Cream corduroys by Lauren by Ralph Lauren – thrifted new with tags, then tailored from a wide leg to a slim leg
Rain boots – thrifted, no label

I was, in theory, happy with this outfit.  I started it out (in my head) with these rain boots, knowing I would be corralling a small person in mucky, wet weather:

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This is the closest I own to riding boots.  Ha.

I wanted to pick up the pink, the light blue, and the dark navy, and this button down and sweater did the trick:

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My pink/blue marled Cartonnier blazer was the obvious topper.  (And I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to wear it this season – because these ain’t exactly wintry hues.)  Close up on the colors/patterns:

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The cream corduroys provided some nice neutral real estate between all the color and pattern on top and in the boots.  Navy pants would have worked, too.

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So here’s the problem: in theory, I love the idea of a button down underneath a sweater.  It seems so chic – little pops of pattern at the cuffs, neckline, and hem to contrast with a solid (or even not-so-solid) swath of sweater.  And the warmth!

But in reality, this pairing drives me nuts.  The button down never lays properly under the sweater (see all pics above except the first one, which I made my spouse retake for the sake of my vanity).  It looks lumpy and pointy and things pop out in unfortunate places. And even though this plaid shirt is decently long, I’m forever tugging at the hem to make sure it’s peeking sufficiently chic-ly below the sweater.

In short, this combination looks chic on Talbots models and in my head, but NOT on me.  Even this combo had to be pulled and adjusted all day, and flattened for this photo (and some button or other pointy part still looks mysteriously like an errant nipple):

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Enlighten me, readers!  There have to be some of you out there who wear this look with aplomb and nary a stray scrunch.  What’s your secret?  Is my sweater too thin (it’s a thin cotton knit)?  Do I need to wash and dry it to shrink it up a bit or iron it before each wearing to get that smooth look?  Is my button down shirt not long enough or form-fitting enough?  Do you secretly safety pin or tape the whole thing in place??

 

Scroll down to comment – and don’t be afraid to wear rain boots as legit footwear, especially since there are so many fun patterns and chic styles to be found in the thrift store:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on