Spring Wardrobe

Since I broke up with (strict) capsule wardrobes last summer, this post does not contain every. single. piece. of clothing I will wear for the next few months; but it’s pretty close! My goal with a seasonal wardrobe like this is to have a curated closet full of things I love to wear that play well with one another; you’ll see that idea reflected in the color palette, style, and limited number of clothes shown below.

So here’s what I’m working with for work outfits this spring – a glorious season of never-ending flowers and pollen dust when the Atlanta temps can go from 50s up into the 80s on any given day. I’m really proud that I got good photos of (almost) everything this time around, so you’re getting full-sized pics.  Enjoy! :)

PS For anyone new to the blog – everything below is thrifted except my sandals (marked “retail”).

Tops 
I’m going to list all my long-sleeved lightweight tops here and all my short-sleeved/sleeveless tops in my summer wardrobe, knowing that I’ll likely move back and forth between the two as the weather changes.

IMG_5563 IMG_5564 IMG_5572IMG_5565 IMG_5566 IMG_5562IMG_5567 IMG_5568 IMG_5569 IMG_5570 IMG_5571IMG_5600  Red/pink/white floral – no label; muted red linen/cotton button down – Banana Republic; coral/blue/white popover – Dolan; peach leopard print – Forever 21; white popover – Old Navy; grey polka dot – Loft; emroibered cotton popover – Lucky Brand; white with blue floral tunic – Chico’s; tropical popover – Loft; blue/turquoise/yellow floral – Land’s End; cerulean snakeprint popover – no label; leopard print – Banana Republic heritage (straight out of wash and thus wrinkly!)

Jackets/Blazers/Cardigans

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navy blue blazer – Charlotte Russe; pink/blue marled blazer – Cartonnier; grey marled blazer – Merona; white denim jacket- J. Crew; navy dress coat – Arthur S. Levine; white/gold chrysanthemum cardigan – Isaac Mizrahi Live!; blue pattern wool cardigan – Talbots 

 

Pants

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I hope to add some dressier navy pants like the Vince Camutos above, but I’ll have to wait ’til after Easter when my thrift fast is done.

 

Skirts
I have really been in skirt-wearing mode lately so just squint and pretend these have all been freshly laundered…

IMG_5585 IMG_5588 IMG_5584Taupe – H&M; navy – J. Crew; white – Ann Taylor

I had a camel skirt too but guess what?  I hate camel. (Somebody remind me of this next time I try to get a camel skirt!) Also it was too big.

 

Dresses
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Caramel shirt dress – New York & Co.;  blue long-sleeve – Land’s End; turquoise/pattern colorblock dress – vintage; orange creamsicle sheath – Ann Klein; white sheath – H&M; blue sheath – Ann Taylor

That vintage dress feels a little more special occasion to me than every day; but I plan to wear it to work occasionally so I included it.

 

Shoes
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Clarks sandals (retail); Bandolino wedges (more about these here); Champagne flats (more here); Floral sneaks (more here)

 

That’s it! I’ll likely have a few tweaks/edits/additions along the way which I will share when I’m getting ready to transition into full-on summer wardrobe in a month or two (spring is short here!).

What do you think of my spring wardrobe?  What’s yours looking like this year?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Spring Closet Cleanout

I like to clean out clothes at the end of a season (as opposed to the beginning) for two reasons. First, I can remember clearly what I did and didn’t reach for in the last few months; no chance for my memory to get fuzzy. Second, I find it a lot easier to say goodbye to clothes when I’ve just put them through their paces and know what they’re worth to me rather than at the beginning of a season, when wishful thinking (“Surely I’ll make use of it this year!”) can cloud my judgment.

So here’s what I’ve let go of as I’ve transitioned from wintry wardrobe to spring sartorial.

Puffy vest of yore, Kirkland (Costco brand)
This was an impulse buy right before a trip (the worst time for impulse buys!) 6 years ago and has not had a lot of wear since; just too casual.

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I also gave the bamboo/recycled down Nau awesomeness to a friend from the Pacific Northwest where, according to her, vests are mandatory. I loved how sustainable and different it looked but it was too sporty/Eurocool for my style.  More on my vest choices here.
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Sequined capelet, Joseph Le Bon
This had a lovely stay in my closet; although I never wore it even once (where would I wear this??), it made me smile every time I looked at it.  You better believed I thanked it for that, Marie Kondo-style, as I gently laid it in the “donate” bag.  May it make someone else just as happy!IMG_4880

Blue plaid blazer by Merona
My earlier foray into plaid blazer territory convinced me this would be a good idea, but the colors were just too intense (cerulean) and dark (navy) for my wardrobe/face:
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I reached for LINK this other one again and again, so I’ll stick with its dulcet tones for next year:
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Navy pants – Gap and Uniqlo
Every time I wore my navy corduroys by Gap I asked myself why I hadn’t just worn jeans since they read almost exactly the same – “casual navy pants.” The cords fit perfectly in the legs, but were seriously low cut; although I don’t love the cut of the legs in my jeans *quite* as much they fit superbly in the butt/waist and never make me afraid of giving crack to unsuspecting passers by.

Similarly, although these Uniqlo chinos fit well, they felt super casual due to their canvas-like fabric. Their weight made them great for cooler weather but I already had the cords and the jeans…plus the seam on one leg twists around to the front (poor fabric cutting?).  It’s not super noticeable but was another strike against them.wp_20161020_14_04_27_pro
I could only find a picture of one of the two pairs described above, which tells you how infrequently I’ve been wearing them.

I have concluded from tossing these two but still having a wardrobe palette where navy pants are a workhorse that I need some dressier, lighter navy pants to wear in the spring/summer/fall; something like my Vince Camuto cigarette pants:

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Add it to the thrift list.

Did I mention I’d tossed the snakeprint Isaac Mizrahi Live! blazer? Enough hemming and hawing, I wasn’t reaching for it and that’s that. Reasoning (and pictures) here.

Blue shirt dress by Virginia Hill
This had great flow but it felt like a mismatch for my style.  The smoothness, the completely structure-less collar, the intense color made me feel like someone with bolder taste should be wearing it. (If you are into seasonal analysis this is definitely a color for bright winters, which I am not.)

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In a rare fit of pre-seasonal sorting, I also chucked these spring wannabes:

Sleeveless navy blue rope-detail dress by Uniqlo. (Sorry Uniqlo, you did not fare well this round.)  The cut was too wide in the hips, made worse by pockets I wanted to love but which just bulked everything up. It was also a tad bit short.  Too bad, because the color works in my wardrobe and it felt so comfy while still looking stylish thanks to that textured detail. But I felt like I was compromising every time I put it on.  I’ll be on the lookout for a similar style/hue dress to keep me cool and comfy this summer.

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Grey/camel/white cotton floral tee by Old Navy
I like the colors and print in this tee and the softness of the cotton, but I want some COLOR in my spring/summer wardrobe! …it just felt too neutrally drab. The fit was also a little baggy in weird places.  In short, it was not making me happy to see it in my closet.

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Camel skirt by Merona
This is too big in the waist and therefore my waist is completely lost. I thought it was fine in the dressing room (below) but I wore it to work once and nope. Also I don’t like camel. There, I said it. Somebody remind me of this next time I try to buy a camel/tan/beige skirt!!wp_20161027_15_57_25_pro

Teal leopard print tee by s. Oliver
I just wasn’t reaching for it.  Too intense of a color? Too casual? No matter, I will trust my arm’s resistance to picking it out of the closet lineup.
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The Sebagos I painted.  The color was more blue-grey than the cement grey I wanted; plus they are utterly uncomfortable and I have no patience for wearing them in. Enjoy, Thrift Universe!
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This freed up some good space in my closet and inspired me to move my spring clothes to the fore:

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Excited to show it all to you on Thursday!

 

Winter Wardrobe Recap

I haven’t had much time for reading blogs this week so instead of a Friday ReBlog I’ve got a brief winter wardrobe recap before taking a look next week at what I have planned for spring.

Tops
Remember how I thought I’d be all into turtlenecks? The best laid plans of mice and thrifters… I wore turtlenecks sparingly, opting instead for sweaters or thinner shirts under blazers/cardigans. (Well, one of those sweaters was a turtleneck, so I guess that counts:)

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I didn’t wear this puppy at ALL but I still really like it, so I’m tucking it away in my box of classics until I’m ready for it to come back into the lineup:
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(You may recall that’s also where my sailor pants are living. Yes I know they’re back in style now but I seem to have a hard-headed allergy to wearing trends when they’re, you know, trendy:)
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Pants
I converted to all corduroy pants (plus one pair of jeans) and was very happy with the results, particularly after I added some color to the mix.

The hands-down faves for both color and fit – that off-white color (bleached out here a bit) is just so classy for winter:
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The best colorful addition – surprisingly versatile!
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The one I felt “meh” about by the end of the season:
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I got sick of the color and need a break from these to see if I get excited about them again next winter.  If not, I’ll look for a replacement that’s a different take on the red/berry/burgundy family and a bit longer. Those hems are SHORT and I got a bit tired of styling around them.

 

Blazers
For the first time I made blazers (instead of cardigans) a major part of my winter style. I let go a couple of neutrals that weren’t serving me well (camel and a fuzz-attracting navy) and let myself go wild with color and pattern, paring it back down by the end of the season to what I reached for over and over:

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I added a vest for leisure wear and loved how snuggly it was:wp_20170107_14_04_40_pro-1

Dresses
I was too enamored of my new corduroy pants collection to reach for my dresses all that often. I did, however, embrace layering warm-weather dresses, though, as part of falling head-over-heels for caramel and red:
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I have a few dresses about which I need to make decisions.
Pockets always pooch out; give away or cut ’em off and sew ’em up?
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SUCH a good shape, cut, color, thickness; but lining is all wonky (tailor fix?) and it’s too short to wear without leggings:
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Shoes
Still loving my snakeprint ankle boots, bronze flats, and Pumas:
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On the fence about my Coach cognac riding boots. I need inserts to make them not so flat-footed and therefore hard to walk in, and I’m still not sold on the width:
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And that’s the general gist of how things went this winter. Excited to put it all to the side in my closet to make way for spring things!  Next week I’ll share what I’ve tossed from my winter wardrobe (as well as a few things that didn’t make the cut for my upcoming spring wardrobe).

 

Reach For It

In reply to Tuesday’s post, reader Carol L. commented:

Like you, I also have a tendency to pick up “great finds” that are “nearly but not quite right”! How can we counter this habit? Maybe remembering the ideal of a streamlined closet? Or one in, one out?

Good question!  I think we find a system or a saying – like “one in, one out” – that works for us. In deciding whether something stays in my (theoretically) well-edited closet, my mantra lately has been “Do I reach for this?” And I think it could be applied proactively in the thrift store; I’ll explain how in a minute.

I’ve found that having a simple question like this keeps me from slipping into a lengthy pros-and-cons analysis – something that is unlikely to give me clear answers or a sense of peace about what’s in my wardrobe. (You know when something is unresolved and a small part of your brain is always paying attention to it? Not worth it.)

The most (in)famous of such mantras for clothing is Marie Kondo’s “Does this spark joy?”  I love this question in theory and find it works well in other areas of my life. But for clothing it doesn’t seem to cut to the heart of the matter. Why?

For starters, more than one closet favorite has started as a closet “eh” that I had to grow into.  Remember my futzing around with this sky blue Loft sweater that wouldn’t seem to layer? I was unconvinced for quite awhile.
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But then I figured out it looked smashing with my caramel pants (particularly when paired with this massive cardigan), and look how thrilled I am to sport it under a navy polka dotted vest! Good thing I didn’t chuck it because it wasn’t sparking joy right away.

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Second, I’ve found that some items that DO spark joy (see: fabulous sequined capelet below) are not things I ever wear.

IMG_4880Alas.

In contrast, “Do I reach for this?” seems to be where joy hits the road – do I love not just the piece itself but wearing it? Is it something I don’t have to talk myself into? The question also measures whether I’m being won over by an unlikely contender: “Hmm, I was not sold on this top at first but I seem to be reaching for it a lot lately.”

The concept helped me jettison a few items I’d been on the fence about during my last closet cleanout (post next week!) and I’m keeping it at the ready as I finalize my spring wardrobe lineup. When my Lenten fast from thrift shopping is over, I’m also going to try “Will I reach for this?” as a preemptive question while I’m still in the thrift store, trying to decide about a piece.

Stopping for a moment to figure out how I feel about a piece – am I excited to wear this the first chance I get? – rather than how I think about a piece – it’s so practical, it will fill a wardrobe hole, it has lots of features I normally love – connects me to same the emotional space targeted by “Does this spark joy?” In my emotional lexicon, thinking “I can’t wait to wear this!” or feeling drawn to something I love both fall under “reaching for it.”

 

Does “reach for it” do it for you? Or some other short question/phrase/mantra? Or do you prefer a more data-driven or analytical system?  Scroll down to share!

 

PS “Reach for it reach for it…” There’s your Hamilton reference for the day!  You’re welcome. (Sorry, can’t help myself when it comes to Lin-Manuel.)

 

February Thrift Finds

Let’s take a little trip back in time to some February thrift finds.

First up, the rejects.

Edited – I just found two more dress pics on my phone that I somehow skipped!

Handmade blue bamboo sheath
This baby was made out of beautiful fabric in gorgeous colors and I loved the notch neckline.  Alas, it was too big:
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Closeup on that pattern/colors:
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Yellow floral dress by Freaks of Go Go Spectators (since this appears to be the name of an album by the group Spiral Life, I assume this is also handmade)
I love the soft yellow and the thistles on the pattern, but it was TOO TIGHT across the hips:WP_20170215_13_41_43_Pro

Agh, that shoulder ring detail!  I die.  So sad this didn’t work.WP_20170215_13_42_08_Pro

Sweater dress by Loft
You know I love a comfy dress and a leopard print; the hem detail on this is great.  But it was pretty short…

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…and the fit was a little wonky near the bottom.  See how it pooches in on the righthand side?
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Plaid shift dress by Merona
I loved the color and the plaid on this dress but the fabric was cheap and the cut was fugly – much more muumuu than mod.

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Striped/colorblock dress by Gap
This may remind you of another dress I own; so when it felt a little too baggy/summer in Maine (where I do not, alas, live), I said no thanks and gave myself a pat on the back for resisting a pattern/color combo I love but already have.

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Colorblock dress, no
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I LOVED the color combo here – so bright and sunny! And I’d love to add a yellow dress to my repertoire. Plus look at how classy those pleats are and how pleasantly they symmetrize (new word?) with the darts in the bust!  Alas, the top was a smidge too tight across the chest (see the pulling?) and too big on the collarbone, and the skirt too short.

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Geometric blouse by The Limited
Cheapy fabric made the lovely color (below) and the potentially chic, loose cut all wonky – see how the hem flips up at the bottom and the fabric puckers diagonally across the middle?
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Ivory blazer
I didn’t get a shot of the label on this one. It had an odd combo of modern-looking lines (check out the shawl lapel!)and vintage length and cuff details:

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Striped shortsleeve blouse, Old Navy
I really wanted this to work as a flowy, chic alternative to my cotton tee of similar pattern, but it was just too big.  Boo.

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Old Navy plaid popover blouse
This shirt felt so good on – simple, comfy cotton – and has one of my favorite features – popover! Plus I loved the plaid and the colors.
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From the side, though, you can see that it’s pretty baggy in a not-on-purpose way.  And seeing these pics again I’m glad I didn’t go for it although I was pretty sad at the time because it looks pretty darn casual which relegates it to the weekend, not work-wear territory.  I already have a couple of weekend shirts I love and I don’t care who sees me wear them repeatedly so this one stayed on the rack.WP_20170223_13_49_46_Pro
Collective Concepts blouse
I’ve been looking for a palm print blouse; this had the colors but NOT the pattern.WP_20170223_13_51_55_Pro
Madras plaid shirt dress by Tommy Hilfiger
Great colors, great plaid, great shirt dress!  Just too short to wear without leggings (and who wants to wear a gorgeously summery shirtdress like this with leggings?) and too blocky/baggy in key areas:

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Hexagon sleeveless blouse by Gap Designed & Crafted
Love the colors in this and the pattern, and I definitely could use another sleeveless blouse in my work wardrobe.  But I could baaaarely button this sucker across the chest.  You can see that a bit here:
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…and even more here in the back:
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I’ve seen this one in the thrift store before and now know this size doesn’t fit me, so I’ll be on the lookout for a larger version.

 

Yellow ikat sleeveless blouse by Cremieux
Same story here; just too small.  But wouldn’t burst of yellow look great over white pants or skirt?  Going to keep my eyes peeled for something similar…
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And now, time for the keepers!  We got a lot this go-round.

Orange sheath dress by Anne Klein
I found this dream of a creamsicle-colored sleeveless sheath the same day I had my coat dress epiphany. This dress is a good orange for my skin (I think? at any rate it’s not a bad one) and it will be a great work dress, paired gloriously with my chrysanthemum cardigan and/or my white denim jacket (see below).

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Plus this or this:
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The accompanying coat dress did not, however, make the cut, due both to baggy sleeves and giving me a She-Ra chest that I have in no way merited:WP_20170209_13_59_56_Pro

 

Talbots floral shortsleeve blouse
The accent colors go great with my summer wardrobe, but I’m a bit worried the background color is too close to my skin color and will wash me out.  Also, looking at the thickness and contrast of that neckline I’m not as excited about how abruptly it cuts off… We’ll see how much I reach for it this summer.
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Here’s a slightly more in-focus pic with one of my blue blazers before I removed its extraneous buttons:
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The Savile Row Co. polka dotted vest
I am wearing this as I type, which after wearing it practically 9 days straight is a good sign that I still like it a bunch (and that this sucker goes with everything!). My favorite part is the back hem (which you can’t see here unfortunately) because it’s curved and a bit lower than the front hem and it just makes it look more shapely and less boxy like vests are prone to do.
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Fun2Fun geometric popover blouse
Apparently this blouse retailed for $48. I love the fit – the little pleat under the placket makes it a little flowier than other popovers – and of course the roll-tab sleeves and the open collar.  I’m not sure I love the giant geometric print, though – it just feels too blocky and big for my style.  I may play with it this season and then pass it on.
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See the difference in the way it flows (and in the length) from the blue plaid popover above?WP_20170223_13_48_12_Pro

 

Floral blouse, label cut out
I LOVE the colors on this blouse.  The sage and moss greens, the deep reds and warmer pinks, the little pop of gold in the buttons… it straddles the line between “warm” and “cool” colors but I think I (a person with a warmer – ahem, apologies to artists, more yellow-based – skin-tone) can pull it off. Also shoulder tabs and an open collar for the win:WP_20170223_13_53_09_Pro

Nice skimming fit in the torso:
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Close up on the pattern and collar:
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Marled grey unlined blazer by Merona
Once again Merona brings it with a great-fitting blazer.  I don’t know why these work so well for me – mass-manufactured big box clothing line would not seem to be the place where you’d find great blazer cuts which are hard to do anyway – but they do.  And although it’s stretchy and feels almost like a sweatshirt, the fabric is substantive enough to hold its shape minus the lining.  Win.

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Look at that fit, in both the sleeves and the torso/bust!
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The grey is a little too light/”cool” for my taste, but I couldn’t resist how perfectly it fit.

 

That’s a wrap!  Did we notice a pattern that I said “yes” to a few things I don’t love mixed in amongst with things I do?  That’s part of the reason I took a step back and gave up thrifting for Lent – I was starting to relax my parameters in the rush of thrifting things that were great finds in some way, but not perfect for me and my wardrobe at this moment.

Once something is in your closet it’s a lot harder to let go of. You start to justify its presence and you already feel attached to it in via “shoulds” – “I already have this, I should wear it” – even though you don’t love it.  Hello Endowment Effect.

I’m hoping that this Lenten thrifting fast will not only give me more headspace for all things spiritual but will also restart my relationship with my closet and help me tap back into that feeling of finding a perfect wardrobe match instead of falling for also-rans.

What’d you think of my finds?  Do you have trouble saying “no” to something that’s close but no cigar when it comes to closet love?  Scroll down to comment!

 

Friday ReBlog: Capsule Wardrobe Discussions

Wow, this week had my number – the flu hit my kid and my spouse just as work cranked up. Then my kid got strep yesterday.  Bah!  Apologies for radio silence/skipping my regular Tuesday/Thursday posts – fingers crossed that today marks a return to sanity and routine!

This post by Caroline at Un-Fancy is a few weeks old but I’m still making my way through the comments, which showcase a wide variety of approaches to capsule (or capsule-ish) wardrobes.  I read collections of different perspectives like this like I eat popcorn – I can’t get enough!  They’re great for inspiration both in the particulars (hey, I could try out that idea) and in general – as I read I felt myself getting excited to do a spring wardrobe cleanout, so stay tuned for that.

She’s also done a Q&A about her own capsule wardrobe and a closet tour if you’re interested.

 

Have a great weekend, Thrifters! And here’s to a healthy household Chez Thriftshop Chic.

 

Travel Tips for Packing Light

Last post about Ireland; non-travel-related posts will resume next week!

When we took a 9 day trip (including 2 travel days) for a friend’s wedding I packed entirely into a carry-on suitcase and a handbag. Here are some of the tricks I used to pack light and still have room for possible thrifted treasures and many thank-you gifts.

  1. Do laundry. Whether you’re visiting family/friends and can use their washer and drier, staying at an AirBnB with laundry facilities, in a hotel with in-house laundry services, or just using the sink in a hostel, washing mid-trip is the best way to halve the amount of clothing you bring. Some folks opt for a travel steamer but with space considerations and the voltage change I opted to forego it. We stayed in 3 AirBnBs and one bed and breakfast and made sure at least one had laundry (no dryer, but we were there 3 nights so air drying was no problem).
  2. Fold KonMari style. You may not be into the “magic” in your regular life, but this technique – even my lazy approximation of it – saves space in your bag and makes it easy to see everything once you arrive. (Nothing like packing super carefully only to dig through your suitcase for something… and then having to re-pack it the next day.)
    The-KonMari-Method-Pants-Folding-512x680 The-KonMari-Method-Shirt-Folding-536x680
    Source of these rad visuals
    It’s also wrinkle-reducing – my floor-length dress unrolled after a week of resting in KonMari with nary a crease!
  3. Stuff your underwear and socks into your shoes. Unless they’re collapsible, your shoes are going to take up a certain amount of room no matter what. Why not make use of it? (If the idea of your underwear coming into contact with naked foot territory weirdos you out, tuck them in a plastic or cloth bag first.)
  4. Wear your heaviest layer. Leave that bulky sweater or coat out of the bag and use it as a pillow or a blanket in transit. It can be tied around your waist or tucked on top of your carryon handle while you wander through terminals or train stations.
  5. Travel in your pajamas.  Obviously this depends on what type of pjs you wear (no nightgowns please), but if you wear leggings or a t-shirt to bed you can easily wear these in transit. If you don’t sweat through you’ll still be okay for sleep and you’ll save a fresh outfit for your destination while not bulking up your baggage with your long johns.
    Sporting my PJ shirt and leggings (under jeans) in Dublin:
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  6. Use a kid’s toothbrush. This makes the most difference for a backpacker or someone who’s counting every ounce of weight, but even a conventional traveler will save a little space this way. Bonus: the bristles are super soft so your dentist won’t accuse you of scrubbing off your gums.
  7. Pack travel versions of your essential cosmetics. Duh. But the emphasis here is on the “essential.” You likely do not need every cream and applicator you use in the course of a year (or even a normal week) while traveling. Usually use one lotion for face moisturizer and another for your body? See if one can pull double duty. Normally use two different brushes to get just the right do? See if a comb can stand in the breach. Sharpen that eye or lip liner before you go so you don’t have to take the sharpener.
  8. Bubble wrap. I mix my own face toner and oil moisturizer and keep them in small glass spray jars. To keep them from breaking in transit, I slip them into little bubble wrap sleeves (either the ones they shipped in or ones I make out of bubble wrap from other packages). Then into the quart ziplock bag they go:IMG_4917
  9. Exfoliate with a baby washcloth.  These suckers are super thin, kind of micro-fiber-y, and dry easily overnight. Unlike packing your clarisonic, you’ll never even know it’s in your suitcase but your skin will thank you. (Cutting up a microfiber cloth meant for dusting computer screens works too.)
  10. Save those soap nubbins. You know when your soap dwindles to such a small size it’s annoyingly impossible to get a good lather? Save these and melt them into one slightly larger nubbin (yeesh, even that word is annoying) or just take one nubbin and be slightly annoyed for the week but don’t worry about taking a soap case with you. We weren’t staying in hotels and couldn’t guarantee free toiletries so I took along the end of my savon de Marseille bar in my toothpaste curl tin: IMG_4914 (one curl = one brush; less waste and none of the chemicals of regular toothpaste. Yes I’m a hippie.)
  11. Binder clip your headphones. If you’re like me and still haven’t gotten on the noise-canceling headphone bandwagon, keep track of your spaghetti-like ear bud cords with binder clip. This will save you inordinate amounts of frustration, preserving your sanity for figuring out an unfamiliar transit system or converting temperatures. Just make sure the cords go through the triangle and aren’t pinched by the black part of the clip, which could damage them:IMG_4918
  12. Take clothes you can toss. We packed, wore, then tossed: socks with holes, a ratty undershirt, a bra long past the end of its life cycle, and my crapped out running shoes.  So many caveats to this last one… like being a runner, being near the end of your shoes’ life but not so near it you’ll injure yourself, and finding a place to donate or recycle your old pair. But if it works out, you’ll save a bundle of room on your return trip.

What are your travel-light packing tips? Scroll down to comment!

 

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:

merrionhoteldublin imageSource, source.

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!

Room 2 of the tour:tour-back-room-1Source

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…

Day 2 – DublinIMG_4935

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. :)

 

Street Style: Ireland

Inspired by Janice of The Vivienne Files and Susan of Une Femme, I was determined to capture some street style shots for you on our trip to Ireland.

First up, this woman in the Newark airport en route to Dublin was wearing the chicest version of overalls I have ever seen:IMG_4922

The slim cut, the suspender-like straps, and the color paired with simple black (and boots that tie up the back!) were quite striking.  I only ever saw the outfit from the back but that was enough to convince me.

There was another woman in the airport sporting a super chic ensemble (I’m going to be using “chic” a lot in this post…) that I didn’t get a snap of, but it looked something like the photo below. Color the tunic sweater camel and chop the cowl collar in favor of a very structured white dress shirt collar peeping through; then morph the pale messily-coiffed white woman into a woman of Asian descent with an elegant updo.  I was struck by how structurally elegant but also livable the look was; and by how the pants were not skinny pants (as often seen in tunics-over pants looks), but more trouser-like.  Her ensemble stood out in a sea of business travelers.

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Now on to Ireland itself.

Maybe it’s because I owned an Old Navy track jacket in similar colors in college, but I couldn’t resist this jacket with corals/greens/browns and hummingbird/flower applique, spotted at the Dublin Flea Market:

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This woman was a chaperone on a high school field trip to Glendalough which involved a good bit of walking in some cold, muddy-ish conditions.  Yet her ensemble, with its bright colors and details like pompons and red gloves, was eminently cheery and stylish:

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Well done, Teach!

 

I saw quite a few of these plaid blanket-style capes, worn both inside and outside to add extra warmth:

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Our waitress at Ard Bia in Galway (where we had the most delicious poached eggs and avocado on toast) wore this great mix of chambray/washed out denim in two shades plus a marled cardigan in a muted red over a soft white tee that hit “late winter/early spring by the sea” so perfectly:

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It also worked really well in the airy, light, almost minimalist interior of the restaurant.
Here’s a very luxe neutral coat – look at that popped collar! – with a punch of flame via her bag:

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A shot of the boots (get it?):

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Overall I noticed a lot of joggers on young men; shorter skirts over tights on young women; and dark or neutral colors when it came to outerwear – I definitely stood out in my red wool coat.  I also would’ve stood out if anyone had known I was wearing leggings under warm corduroy pants – clearly everyone was more accustomed to cold weather than I was!

Ah, and I almost forgot – I was the only woman (besides the nun with whom I co-officiated, and she had her own headgear) to miss the memo on wearing fascinators at the wedding we attended.  I’d previously attended a wedding in Europe that involved hats so I shouldn’t have been surprised that all the Irish women had head attire, but even the American women had all figured it out. From vintage emerald green velvet pillboxes to flapper-style feathered headbands to more sculptural numbers, they were stunning.  I’ll just have to deal with my disappointment by reassuring myself that my job was to keep all the attention on the bride – who looked absolutely stunning!

Congrats Ashley & Dave, and many blessings on your married life ahead!

 

 

Friday ReBlog: Decluttering by Color

Janice over at The Vivienne Files is doing a two-parter on decluttering, and her first method is based on color. (No surprise given she’s a master at building capsule wardrobes based on color palette!)

It’s worth the read-through on your own, but a few highlights that caught my interest:

“You’ve got to WANT to accomplish something – your own personal something – when you plunge into this process. If you’re currently perfectly happy with your wardrobe as it is, don’t do this; there’s nothing to be gained!”

I think where the impact lies in this great insight is not avoiding a cleanout when you’re happy with your wardrobe, but defining your “personal something” when you’re unhappy with your closet but don’t know why. No one wants to spend a lot of time and effort decluttering according to someone else’s rules or approach only to still be unsatisfied with the results!  Take a few minutes to write down (or talk through, or Pinterest, depending on your style of learning) what you’d like to achieve from a closet makeover: a consistent color palette, a style refresh, to end up with only clothes you thrill to wear, etc.

That brings us to her second observation I want to engage:

“With all the respect in the world to Marie Kondo, I’m NEVER going to feel joy from a black tee shirt, but having a handful of them is really important to being well dressed, in my life.”

I don’t particularly care about defending Marie Kondo, but I do think (depending on your personality and style) that it’s possible to have an entire wardrobe composed ONLY of things you love – right down to your knickers. (Maybe underwear’s especially important in this category since only you will see it, but it can brighten up your whole mood to know you’ve got Animal underpants on under an otherwise somber or formal ensemble!)

An undershirt I thrifted at one point comes to mind. No one was ever going to see it, since it was designed to be worn as a base layer.  But it was made of the softest Pima cotton, and it felt luxurious every time I put it on.

My point isn’t to be dissatisfied with your wardrobe if your really practical pieces don’t “spark joy,” but to encourage you not to settle if you feel rather “blah” about a practical piece – it’s scratchy, worn out, cheap, doesn’t fit quite right… There’s likely an alternative out there just waiting to be thrifted that will give you, if not joy, a little more pleasure when getting dressed.

 

What are your thoughts on making sure you have figured out your raison d’être before decluttering, or about having your mundane pieces “spark joy”?  Scroll down to comment!