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

 

 

What I Wore and How I Styled It: Snow Leopard + Wine and Navy

This weekend the morning temperature dipped down below 50 for the first time, so I went looking for a cozy ensemble for church/work.  I often wear something to church on Sunday AM and then redo it for work on Monday since I don’t wear my church clothes hard and the only person who will see me sporting the exact same outfit is my spouse. I figure if an ensemble worked once, I should milk it for all it’s worth, no?  (Fun fact: the first picture is from this morning and the rest are from yesterday.)

Pants: My wine-colored cords were freshly back from the tailors, where they had gone for a little nipping in around the waist, and I was itching to wear them.

Top: It was cold enough for a proper sweater on top so I opened my sweater drawer to see what looked inviting.  Light blue sweater – too lightweight.  Pink/grey/white sweater – wrong color palette; the wine would drown out the blush pink and soft grey.  But the off-white with snow leopard sleeves?  Yes ma’am.

Shoes: I grabbed my dark grey/white snakeskin ankle boots to echo the off-white/grey palette of my sweater and add some interest, and we were in business:

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Sweater: French Connetion, thrifted
Pants: Style & Co., thrifted and tailored
Boots: Lucky Brand, gift from my sister
Necklace: DIY from Goodwill parts
Blazer (blazer): Haberdashery Collection by Personal, thrifted

Jewelry: I wore cream-colored earrings to complement the sweater and boots.  Did it need a necklace?  Not necessarily, but it would dress up the soft textures a bit.  The pendant with a stylized flower fit better with stylized flower earrings than my large “stone” pendant, so that’s what I chose:

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Note: This is about 20 minutes after pulling it out of the drawer where it had sat, more or less Kondo-folded, since last year.  Not bad wrinkle-wise, eh?

Socks: Since these cords went in for a trim up, they sit where they should on my waist…

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Ahh, fit so much improved!

…which means the short legs are now really short and expose some ankle above the top of my boots.  So I put on my thickest wool socks to give a cozy, chunky little layer there and keep my ankles warm:

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Blazer: Last but not least, I had no idea if I’d be chasing my kid outside for half the service, so I went looking for a topper.  With so much pattern going all already (including the texture of the sweater), my all-navy blazer was a nice neutral option.  Plus the saturation/temperature of the color played really well with the color of the corduroys:

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Initially I cuffed the sleeves because it gives blazers a fresh, modern look – but my sweater arms were long enough to peek out from underneath the blazer sleeves uncuffed and I liked that contrast, so I unrolled ’em.

Ta-da!

What’d y’all wear this weekend?  Do you ever redo an outfit from one day to the next when you know you’ll be in a different context with a different audience?

 

 

What I Wore: Skinned Knee Chic

When your spouse is sick and you are singlehandedly making the church run with a toddler and you are preaching and you are LATE, you only get three outfit photos and you are HAPPY with them:

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Do you like how I turned a last-minute snack for my kid into an autumnal-colored accessory?

 

And when you have recently face planted while running and skinned your knee (and your elbow and your wrist) pretty significantly and your household has run out of band aids so you can’t wear pants or leggings (plus you ruined your favorite pair of leggings in said face plant) but it’s too crisp to go completely bare legged, you put on knee socks and pretend you meant to wear this all along (skinned knee not pictured out of consideration for the faint of heart):

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The print mixing, it is out of control:

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Color block/striped dress: Gap, thrifted
Blazer: Haberdashery by Personal, thrifted
Belt: J. Crew, thrifted
Scarf: my mama’s Kohl’s shopping spree
Socks: Target
Ankle boots: Lucky Brand, gift from my sister

 

Seriously though I did buy these socks for just such a look, hoping to encourage myself to wear skirts through fall and thinking that, with the ankle boots, it would read sort of like a tall boot (of which I have yet to be convinced I need to buy a pair although I would be happly to thrift some). Don’t worry, these socks came in a two-pack with plain navy so I don’t have to be in a 5-billion-patterns mood to wear them.

What do y’all think of the knee sock/ankle boot look? Or the tuck-your-scarf-into-your-belt look? (Very handy for showing off your belt and keeping the fringe out of reach of handsy toddlers/your coffee mug.) Or the print party? Scroll down to comment!

 

What I Wore: Head Scarf with Fall Florals

This accidentally posted early so if you’ve subscribed but are now reading on the blog, you’ll notice there are a few revisions and the links are live, yay!

I’ve been looking for an excuse to wear this scarf and this weekend it finally happened: I washed my hair (with honey, don’t worry) right before church and wanted to disguise the not-properly-dried, not-yet-renourished-with-luscious-sebum look. I spent a fair amount of time scrolling through Dinatokio‘s hijab-chic IG account last week and spotted a Lebanese woman rocking a similar look at the zoo on Saturday, so I thought I’d try my hand at a similar hair-hiding style. Though obviously my motives derived much more out of vanity than modesty.

Bonus: my new cranberry/burgundy/oxblood pants got to play along!

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Mmmm, the texture on this top is simply medieval:img_4521

 

I folded the scarf in half like a triangle, then folded it in a narrow strip but left the tail (the triangle of fabric on top) out so it wouldn’t cover the part of the pattern I wanted to show off.  I tied it around my head like a giant headband, then looped the ends around my bun and tied them in a little knot, the made sure the triangle up top was tucked securely into the main band so I didn’t look like a milk maid:img_4525

Texture galore!img_4526

 

Parting your hair on the side, then pulling a bit of the longer side out gives your ‘do a little oomph:

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Yes most everything is still green here.

The champagne metallic shoes picked up the gold in my top:img_4520

A little sass for the camera:
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Top: Meadow Rue, thrifted
Pants: Style & Co., thrifted
Flats: Trotters passed on from my mother-in-law and repainted
Scarf: no tag, thrifted

I rarely do head scarves or hair wraps so this initially took a little convincing myself that it didn’t look weird in the mirror, but I ended up loving it.

What do y’all think? Do you wear scarf-like things on your head or usually sport them elsewhere? Scroll down to comment!

PS you can see some more of the scarf’s pattern here.

 

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?

 

 

What I Wore & My Secret Weapon for Keeping My Wardrobe Focused

A quick What I Wore from our long weekend here in the states:

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I don’t typically wear necklaces over button-downs, but it seemed to work here – something about the delicate nature of the necklace and the way the leopard pattern broke up the strong lines of the shirt:

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Speaking of leopard, turns out I do own a leopard-print top…but in such a subtle, almost gentle color combo that it still does not solve my leopard conundrum.  (More on this later in the month.)

Top: Forever 21, thrifted
Pants: Banana Republic, thrifted
Sandals: Clarks, gift from family
Necklace, earrings: DIYed from thrifted parts

 

And now, as advertised, my secret weapon for keeping my wardrobe in hand.
Continue reading “What I Wore & My Secret Weapon for Keeping My Wardrobe Focused”

What I Wore: Never Say You’ll Never Wear a Maxi Dress

Last week I spotted Nicole of The Spirited Thrifter wearing this striped maxi dress and thought it was perfection on her. I commented that it made me want to wear a maxi dress even though I never wear them and don’t even own one.

Ah, the maxi dress: I love it on other people but am not a fan of the empire waist and spaghetti straps look on me, a combo integral to oh-so-many maxis. (This is why I loved Nicole’s dress – it had neither.) Or how hot they can be on the bottom during summer or chilly on top in the fall.  Also, is it just me or does “maxi” always makes you think of maxi pads and that diaper-like feel? Yech.

Anyway, the thrift gods must have been laughing at me, because I had forgotten that I do, in fact, own a floor-length dress* which I did, ironically, end up wearing this past weekend to church:

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Continue reading “What I Wore: Never Say You’ll Never Wear a Maxi Dress”