Thrifting Signature Pieces

Thrifting is often great for finding basics – a striped tee, a blend-into-the-background pair of jeans, a coat for when it’s cold and you just need something. In other words, the pieces that fill a hole in your wardrobe without standing out by a mile.

But sometimes, you find a star – an item that adds a signature feel to your style and gives your whole closet more depth and personality.

The first piece like this I can remember finding? A vintage houndstooth fedora I spotted at a small antiques mall in my grandmother’s hometown back when I was in high school. Fedoras have since taken a backseat for me style-wise; I gifted the one in question to a dear friend who has a substantial fedora collection, but have saved two others that belonged to my grandpa:

 

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Like that first checked fedora, thrifted signature pieces usually catch me by surprise. They feel like something I never knew I always needed, pieces that find me instead of me looking for them. That’s at least in part because a signature piece is a bit outside your usual style wheelhouse, like something you would regularly wear but with amplified swagger or boldness:


Have I rocked big, colorful earrings in my mid-20s? Yes. Have I since migrated to subtler, classic gold styles? Yes. Did that stop me from mixing my current gold aesthetic with giant lion’s head door knockers? No.

Signature thrift finds are also often good quality. Cheap pieces with added personality just end up seeming tacky, while high-quality statement items somehow get away with more. They tend to look on-purpose rather than try-hard, flimsy, or kitschy.

For example, I should’ve left this polyester number on the rack; the poor quality fabric made it look less fun-and-funky and more disappointing-flea-market find (you know, the kind of flea market that turns out to be all junky imported fast fashion instead of vintage finds):

Speaking of vintage, vintage numbers (like the aforementioned fedora) are a good bet for signature pieces because they often combine both quality and that feeling of something extra; the right find stands out from current trends without feeling costume-y.

If you’ve been tempted to rock vintage but aren’t sure how to strike that balance, google “how to wear vintage” and read up on suggested strategies. Most advice cautions against head-to-toe vintage, arguing for one accent piece mixed in with more modern staples. I’ll add that while heading to a vintage-focused consignment shop can be a fun time warp, being surrounded by period pieces can make it hard to imagine how to combine them with your own wardrobe, and prices are often sky high. My best vintage finds have been mixed in among the racks at thrift stores:


Oh hi, Diane von Furstenberg silk wrap dress for $15; I SO wish this handmade hexagonal vintage number had fit; a handmade gem I made mine.

Last but not least, if you usually find yourself gravitating more towards solid colors, a print is a surefire way to add signature oomph to your lineup. A blazer, a pair of pants, or a pair of shoes in a print will elevate your look; you can play with the relative amount of color, boldness vs. subtlety, and real estate occupied by the piece to determine how much you want to turn up the volume. (And if your signature print experiment turns out to be a dud, you’re only out thrift prices instead of consignment or retail.)

If you’re new to prints and a bit hesitant to try them out, try a pair of glen plaid pants to add depth to an outfit without screaming at passersby, or use bolder snake print or leopard in small doses (like a belt or shoes) to add pizzazz without overwhelming:

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From my belt capsule wardrobe.

Although these were a gift, not thrifted, I’m going to include them because they are probably my ultimate signature piece, adding something subtle yet unexpected to every outfit:

I wear them to church so often my kid calls them my “church shoes” and was convinced it was Sunday when I put them on this morning. If that’s not signature, I don’t know what is.

And to end, I’ll share the blazer that “found” me last week while thrifting for a nursing-friendly cardigan:

It’s got everything: subtle plaid-like stripes and herringbone, vintage (I’m guessing 80s) quality, and just the right price ($7) to try out the oversized blazer trend once this baby is out and about.

What are your signature pieces and what makes such a piece “signature” in your eyes? Have you had any luck thrifting said pieces?

When Your Favorite Season of Clothing Is Also the Least Worn

Recently I used a fun feature on Instagram to pick out my favorite looks from the last year: the bookmark-like “Save to a Collection” button. Essentially it lets you create an edited selection of Instagram shots so you can look at all your favorites in one place. It’s also an excellent tool for saving inspirational looks from other people’s accounts so you can get a sense of what you might want to incorporate into your own wardrobe. (Let me know in the comments if you want instructions on how to use it.)

But creating a “My Style Favorites” collection made me realize I have a problem: my favorite clothes are the ones I have the least opportunity to wear.

This is because it turns out that Spring, my favorite season style-wise, is also the shortest season here in New England. So all of my cropped, fun-colored pants and lightweight, funky blazers – the stuff that’s too cold for our long winter, too hot for full-on summer, and odd color choices for our short-but-sweet autumn – get worn for a period of about two months (give or take) a year.

For example:

 

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I certainly have pieces I love in the other seasons, so it’s not that I’m depressed about what I wear the rest of the year. But when I’m at the Goodwill/browsing Poshmark and find a great 3/4-sleeve blazer or a fantastic ankle-length patterned pant, I find I have just about zero justification for adding to the part of my wardrobe that’s already the most populated. There just aren’t enough days of appropriate weather to give my favorites the number of wears they deserve!

To further demonstrate, here are my latest Poshmark crushes:

The plaid shirt could be layered under a sweater (and indeed, that’s a major way I imagine wearing it); but the pants are both cropped and the blazer is lighter weight/shorter sleeved.

Maybe I just need to find ways to style such pieces for the cold – e.g. get a pair of boots with longer ankles that would rise up to meet a cropped-length pant, or add a light blazer over a thin sweater to get enough warmth instead of always opting for thick sweaters.

Can you think of other ways I could wear spring-like favorites through more of the year? Do you have a “problem” where your favorite season of clothes doesn’t match the realities of your climate?

Maternity Capsule Wardrobe Update: What’s Left Standing

I’m rounding the bend here – just a few more weeks (give or take, babies have a mind of their own) before Mini Thrifter #2 arrives. At this point in my pregnancy there are only so many things that a) fit and b) are appropriate for winter weather, so I thought I’d share what has become a truly minimalist capsule wardrobe.

As always, it’s all thrifted or secondhand. Here’s where we started:

                        

 

Here’s what I’m actually still wearing (plus a pair of leggings):

        

Plus this, which I haven’t worn in a few weeks but now that I just reminded myself of it I might wear it tomorrow:

Quite a paring down, isn’t it? It’s almost as small as a 10×10 wardrobe challenge. I am getting a bit tired of this limited fare, but not so much because I want more items; I’d just enjoy some more color – the end of this capsule accidentally ended up very white and grey – and the ability to swap in some favorites that don’t currently fit this belly. It’d also be nice to wear pants that don’t require squeezing my stomach to stay up.

As to what’s next: I haven’t really planned for a nursing wardrobe. I found last time that specially-designed tops and bras were more of a hassle than they were worth and I often just ended up pulling up my top and bra and going for it. (Turns out babies cover a surprisingly large amount of your exposed skin, plus there are always nursing covers.) So for the moment my strategy is to keep wearing tops with some give in them and bottoms with some stretch and see what my body does. I’ll keep you updated!

If you’ve gone through pregnancy and/or nursing, what was your “fourth trimester” clothing approach?

Dressing for the Day

Last week I had a day where I was in casual jeans and an oversize sweatshirt all day, followed by a day of wearing fitted jeans and a polished sweater. The difference in how I felt was remarkable: on the first day, I felt schlubby, had lower energy, and like I had thrown together whatever came to hand; on the second day, I felt put together, productive, and pleased with my appearance.

Day 1, more or less (this was before I changed into jeans):

Day 2:

I’m definitely not the first person to recognize or muse on the power of the clothes we wear to help lift our moods, present ourselves with confidence, and energize us for the day ahead. I’m also not the first person to recognize that having a choice about this – whether to dress down or up – is a privilege not everyone enjoys. (For example, if you have a chronic disease or mental health issue, dressing well might feel like an insurmountable task some days – whereas if you are a person of color or of lower socioeconomic status, you may not feel you can dress down and still be taken as seriously as a white person or upper/middle class person in gym clothes.)

But despite having known what a difference dressing for the day makes and knowing it was a choice I had, I was struck by how strong the contrast was. Thanks to my capsule maternity wardrobe, intentionally picking out clothes that (although not fancy) fit well and looked nice took the same amount of time as throwing on a sweatshirt and scrubby jeans, but felt worlds better.

I once attended an event rather underdressed and let the sense of dis-ease I felt prevent me from connecting with other attendees, only to have a mentor (also my boss at the time) remind me that I can do anything in flip flops (yes, my chosen footwear for said business lunch in downtown Chicago. #collegestudent). I’ve carried that with me ever since and it’s enabled me not to feel frozen or even embarrassed when I run into a parishioner in the grocery store or during school dropoff dressed in sweats and sneaks. But it’s also great to feel like taking 5 extra minutes in the morning – or just being intentional with the five minutes I have – can give me that unexpected boost of being ready to face the world.

Where do you fall on the dressing-for-the-day spectrum? How do you dress if you are working at or from home, or at an office, or if you are retired, or going to the gym and running errands? Have you noticed a correlation between the way you’re dressed and the way you navigate your day?

 

Secondhand Maternity Coat – aka Staypuff Marshmallow Chic

The one thing left to thrift in my fall/winter maternity capsule was a maternity coat. I’m due in December and there is no way I was going to make it through the first part of a New England winter without a proper winter coat that actually zips around my middle. But after several thrift and maternity consignment trips, I had yet to find a coat that fit the bill.

Off to Poshmark, where you can access thousands more listings than any one brick-and-mortar shop can provide – and where you can use specific filters to search for exactly what you want. (eBay is good for this, too. I find ThredUp has too little selection to be worth more than the occasional search.) Plus you can often bargain on the price!

Speaking of price, as I looked at the original retail price on Poshmark vs. the asking price, I quickly discovered that quality maternity coats are expensive. This makes sense insofar as quality non-maternity coats are expensive – if you’re looking for down and good construction, you’re going to pay. Add extra fabric and special features to cater to a burgeoning belly and you’re easily in the $150-$250 range for retail.

Even secondhand you’re looking at paying $65-$100. Maternity coats hold their value well since they tend to be lightly used. After all, most people are only wearing them for a few months…which is also what makes it maddening to pay so much for one. (I will be wearing mine for 1.5 months of my pregnancy, though I plan to stretch it into nursing/baby-carrying territory.)

So I was thrilled to find this Octmami down coat in a Light Summer-friendly gray, retailing for $220, on Poshmark for $50:

God bless you, seller wangdafo, for posting a like-new maternity coat at a very reasonable price.

Octmami is a Chinese brand (“Oct” is short for October, the 10th month, since pregnancy technically lasts 10 months…oy, so long!) and from what I could find online, it’s generally pretty decent quality. I also discovered online that you need to size up in Chinese sizes to approximate US sizes, which meant that the XL sizing on this coat was likely going to fit me fine, especially taking into account some extra wiggle room for the last few weeks of growth.

Another great feature of Poshmark is that you can make an offer and the seller can accept or reject it (your offer is more likely to work if the post has been up for awhile). So I bargained to get to $50 including shipping, the seller accepted, and I crossed my fingers that it would fit and be worth what still felt like a very rich price for my thrift-store blood.

When it arrived…lo and behold, a win!

The fit is good (if roomy); the color is spot-on for Light Summer; and the A-line silhouette, though not in my regular wheelhouse, is very pleasing. I first wore it for a weekend with family in Maine, where cousins were commenting on how chic it looked – rare for a puffer-style coat, period, but even moreso for fluffy maternity wear.

From the side you can see the adjustable zip, meant to provide even greater room/flexibility, and the toggles to tighten up the bottom hem underneath a belly:

My only complaint is that the hood is too big to stay up on its own – it needs a scarf tied around the neck to fix that, but luckily I nabbed a decently coordinated scarf at Restoration Project last week:

The coat also has a sweater-like partial lining secured by buttons, which I removed since it flopped all over the place and was an entirely different color, but I may find it useful for snuggling the babe post-partum.

 

If you live in the cold, what are your tips for finding puffer coats that don’t swallow you whole?

Fall 10×10 Maternity Edition: Part 2


Find Part 1 here.

First up, if you’re on Instagram (or even if you’re not!), take a moment to check out the #10x10representationmatters conversation. There is so much good stuff being shared by people who are often overlooked in the slow/ethical fashion community – people of color, gender-non-conforming people, people of varying body sizes, immigrants, etc. – about their experiences living life on the edges of mainstream culture, about the privilege held by so many of us, and about the fact that ethical fashion can be economically out of reach for many. (That includes thrifting, because while thrifting an entire wardrobe can be very affordable, it takes a lot of another precious resource: time, which you don’t have if you’re working 3 jobs to support your family.)

Over the years I have learned the most about my own privilege and about the experiences of people who don’t have it by listening, reading, and then sitting with my own discomfort and “aha” moments about the gap between the two. This hashtag and the ongoing #ethicalfashionrepresentationmatters conversation are great places to do that if you, like me, enjoy the advantages of being white and/or straight and/or gender-conforming and/or able-bodied and/or a citizen of the US, etc. and want to dig a little deeper about what that means and what you can do to spread those advantages to others.

Alright, on to the clothes.

Here’s the second half of the 2018 Fall 10×10: the outfits I wore and what I thought of them.

Day 5

 

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Fine! Functional! Not going to win any awards or spark a fashion revolution, but entirely serviceable and a good use of a warm layer that doesn’t need to be zipped around my belly. (I “cheated” and brought in my Puma sneakers because I planned to walk a bunch that day.)

Day 6

 

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I am a big fan of the chambray + textured sweater look, although you can see in this and in the pink edition that the chambray shirt is too big and doesn’t lay flat underneath the sweater. I will be on the hunt for a chambray base layer to replicate this in non-maternity fashion.

All the “yeses” for the textures at play here:

 

Day 7 

 

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As noted last time, the sweater-over-maxi-dress is not my favorite look, but I am glad I tried out something new. It is eminently comfortable and I think I prefer this version, with the pink popping against the white/gray, to the white version deployed earlier in the challenge.

Day 8

 

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This is not a look I imagined when I pulled these separate pieces into my 10×10, but I decided to be creative and the vest gave me enough warmth to make it work. I love the longer length of the chambray shirt peeking out from under the vest, but again the oversize nature of the top makes it feel a bit sloppy.

Day 9

 

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I really liked this (and so did Instagram) because it let the dress shine more or less on its own. I have shied away from maxi dresses – something about how balloony they look? Or how they hit me oddly in the middle? – but with a pregnant belly those things are actually what make the silhouette work. The longer sleeves and taller boots also change the look – it ends up with more of a Pride and Prejudice feel, almost. (And my expression, I’ve decided, is 100% pure Jill Duggar.)

Day 10

 

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We’re back to “perfectly acceptable” territory, with just enough texture/print to keep it interesting. I’ll definitely be wearing this shirt-plus-sweater-over-skinny-pants combo in different iterations through the end of pregnancy (assuming these sweaters make it, size-wise!).

The skinny cords look black in the photo but the true color is closer to this blue-gray:

Here’s everything, altogether:

 

Thoughts

My goals for this 10×10 were to try out some new-to-me silhouettes and break out some as yet unworn items in my maternity capsule. Done and done! I was tickled to discover legit ways to wear the maxi dress, to take one of my vests for a spin, to use the chambray shirt for unexpected layers – and to get some color into most of the outfits.

I also realized that my snakeprint boots go with eeeeeeverything. They are one of the few retail items in my wardrobe (though they were a gift from my sister) and I am glad to be getting so much wear out of them.

It’s funny – I’m so content with (and also limited in) my maternity capsule wardrobe that I think I could be happy wearing this same group of clothes through the end (or until the weather/my belly necessitates further changes). But coming back to my full wardrobe, I am looking forward to swapping two other sweaters (gray and cropped white) into some of these outfit combos and having a few more dressy options for Sunday mornings.

 

Did you participate in the 10×10? Have you ever had a wardrobe this size, and if so, what did you learn from it?

Thrifted Fall/Winter Maternity Capsule Wardrobe UPDATE

So as soon as I published my thrifted fall/winter maternity capsule wardrobe, the universe delivered a boatload of secondhand maternity clothes from a very lovely and generous parishioner (thanks, N!!). I laughed at the irony of having just publicly declared I didn’t plan to add any more clothes to my closet and then gleefully dug through two bags’ worth of maternity clothes. It was awesome.

Here are the pieces I kept (and with N’s blessing donated the rest):

 
LED; Motherhood; Jessica Simpson; A Pea in the Pod; A Pea in the Pod

(The striped tee is relegated to weekend wear as it is quite pill-y. PS I guess I like blue and stripes?)

Plus these black pieces for Black Fridays:

In the meantime, I nixed these pieces from the original capsule as too tight, not interested, and too big, respectively…

 

…tucked this one that no longer fits away for non-pregnant wear next spring…

…and demoted these to weekend wear:

The jeans are a good casual fit but the band won’t stop folding double in a way that squishes my belly; plus I’m preferring the slimmer legs of my other 2 maternity pants. I LOVE the color and cut of the sweatshirt, but it has a couple stains on it (I think both are my fault, boo) and some pilling that take it out of office-appropriate rotation.

I also added a super snuggly secondhand winter maternity coat, which I’ll post about next week.

If you don’t count the Black Friday pieces, I clock in with the same number of work-appropriate capsule pieces, so I’m calling it a win. :)

PS Here is a great post from Adina J at Blue Collar Red Lipstick featuring $5,000 worth of clothes thrifted for $65 PLUS great tips on thrifting on the regular. Enjoy!

Fall 10×10 – Maternity Edition

Monday was the first day of the Fall 10×10 Challenge. For those unfamiliar, the 10×10 style remix is a wardrobe challenge that uses limitations to spark creativity. Originating with Lee Vosburgh of StyleBee and now cohosted by Caroline of Un-Fancy, a 10×10 remix takes 10 pieces of clothing and makes them into 10 outfits over 10 days.

What you count as an item is up to you (I’m not counting accessories, workout gear, outerwear), and so is the outcome – maybe you want to be satisfied with what you have instead of fighting the urge to shop, maybe you want to find new ways of wearing what you already have, maybe you don’t want to have to stand in front of your closet agonizing over what to wear.

My goals
Since I am already dressing dress from within a maternity capsule wardrobe, my goal this time isn’t to find contentment with fewer pieces of clothing or to curb the urge to thrift; rather it’s to try out some new-to-me combinations. (You may recall from previous 10x10s that I’ve sometimes found myself pigeon-holed by tried-and-true silhouettes that didn’t create many opportunities for unexpected combinations.) I have a few pieces in my maternity capsule that haven’t yet been busted out and are different enough, style-wise, to make for a fun 10×10. (I’m looking at you, long-sleeved maxi dress with a bubble-ish hem!)

My picks
All the pieces are from my maternity capsule wardrobe, which has had a few additions and deletions since I first posted about it. (Update on that soon.) Everything below is thrifted or secondhand except for the ankle boots, which my sister gave me for Christmas lo these many years ago.

Two pairs of pants (turns out maternity pants photograph horribly on the hanger!):

 
Grey corduroy skinnies by Gap + dark denim skinnies by Jessica Simpson

Two shirts:
 
H&M; Motherhood

Two sweaters:

 
Loft; Sonoma

One dress:


By Comfy.

One vest (not sure which color yet):


Gap; Land’s End

Two pairs of shoes:


Target; Lucky Brand (not thrifted)

Plus leggings as a layer under the dress, which I’m not counting.

Here’s how I’ve combined these pieces so far:

Day 1

 

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This felt like a typical day-at-the-office outfit. I liked the subtle combination of stripes and snakeprint, and the fact that this swing-ish non-maternity sweater is still going strong. It has good texture. Not so thrilled with the monochromatic-ness of it all, but we’ll get to the color soon enough!

Day 2:

 

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This is a completely different silhouette for me, as I rarely wear maxi dresses and definitely don’t layer sweaters over them. It has a boho or perhaps even a steampunk vibe that is reined in a bit by the edge of the snakeprint boots:

I like the silhouette from some angles, but from others it looks like a reverse bustle:

 

The comfort and the fun of the stripes save it for me. Ultimately I dig the long sleeves but not the weird bunting-like hem, so I don’t suspect this dress will last past the post-partum stage. But you never know; maybe it’ll grow on me.

 

Day 3

 

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I love the pop of color here as well as the denim-on-denim contrast. I grabbed this raspberry textured sweater off the Goodwill rack last weekend at the tail end of a Halloween costume shopping trip for my kid and eyeballed that it would fit/be in my color palette. Very pleased that it does both and that it’s a dressier version of the pink sweatshirt I had planned to use in its place.

I do wish the collar buttoned so you could see more of the chambray on top, but it’s a small quibble. Here’s a closeup of the texture:

Day 4
I wore the same chambray button-down as yesterday but this time as an open layer over the striped shirt (which you can barely see under the sweater from Day 1):

I hadn’t planned this combo but wanted to wear the striped shirt with something warmer that wasn’t the same as the sweaters from Days 1-3, so I tried it out, and I love it! The stripes + chambray combo is a big win, plus the cords made for a good contrast in texture and color. The boots bring a bit of extra visual interest, print-wise (as do the striped socks, which I wish I had thought to photograph!).

Here’s a closeup of the stripe/chambray combo:

 

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So far I’m enjoying this 10×10 much more than I thought, mostly because I’m having fun trying out new-to-me combinations (which is the point, after all!). A few times I’ve thought “Eh, not sure that’s really me…” and then I’ve gone ahead and worn it just for the novelty and the fun of it, and been pleasantly surprised by how much I like the results. It’s a good reminder that for me, a 10×10 doesn’t work if it’s just swapping out the same ol’ pieces in tried-and-true combinations; rather, choosing pieces I can layer and wear in new ways makes it all tick.

You can follow along with the remainder of my current 10×10 here or check out previous 10x10s here. Get inspired by the entire challenge by searching Instagram for #10x10challenge or #10x10friends. (Whoops, just went down a rabbit hole there…) Many of the people participating have a very minimalist, neutral-heavy aesthetic, which may not align with yours; but with a little searching you can find folks sporting more colors, fabric other than linen, etc. Also check out the #10x10representationmatters hashtag to see people of color and from across the gender ID/sexual orientation spectrums rocking some slow fashion. Then fall down another rabbit hole of reading the comments on those posts, where some really important and powerful conversations are being had.

See you next week for a recap of the rest of my 10×10 outfits!

Minimalist Bedding

One way we’ve pared down over the years is to get rid of excess bedding. You know – the kind that somehow takes over your linen closet and makes you feel overwhelmed on laundry day. Or the kind that drives you mad when a guest comes to visit and you can only find one clean pillowcase of a matching set.

Searching out secondhand, thrifted, and ethical linens and donating or recycling what we don’t truly need or love has allowed us to feel organized and streamlined.

 

Here’s what we’ve done to simplify our bedding:

Get rid of extra sheet sets. Currently we have one set of sheets for our bed; one set for the guest bed; one extra in case either of those first two needs a tight turnaround; and one set for our preschooler’s bed. For the thrifter-on-the-way, I’ve kept 2-3 fitted crib sheets from our first go-around and don’t plan to buy more. (We were gifted/secondhanded 5 with our first kid and never used them all.)

We find that even when factoring in occasional accidents, this is enough, because it motivates us to wash sheets as soon as they become dirty. Knowing we need to put them back on the bed that same night propels us to get them out of the washer and into the dryer ASAP – which means no manky clothes that sat too long in the washing machine. And when they’re dry, it saves us the chore of folding them because they just go right back on the bed. (Because let’s be honest, who wants to fold fitted sheets? No one, that’s who.)

To donate sheets in good condition, drop them off at your nearest thrift store (check first to make sure they take linens). For sheets that have gone hole-y, take them to the nearest textile recycler or cut them into rags.

Nix the top sheet. This was initially controversial at our house, since I could care less about top sheets but the spouse was rather attached to them. When we got a down duvet, however (see below), he was converted, mostly because sleeping with just a down duvet feels like sleeping on a cloud – ahhhhhhh. Our preschooler also loves going without a top sheet because she’s much less likely to get tangled up in a blanket than a sheet.

No top sheet also cuts down on washing/drying/folding. Plus making the bed is 1000% easier – we just shake out the blanket or duvet into a semblance of smoothness and we’re done.

We do put a top sheet on the guest bed because we assume that not everyone who comes to stay will want to go top(sheet)less. And we also keep the top sheet for our bed folded neatly in the linen closet for the hottest part of the summer when a duvet would roast us alive.

Consider secondhand. Unlike mattresses and pillows, which should not be bought secondhand (hi bedbugs and dust mites!), sheets and washable blankets make for great thrift store finds. You get a sense for whether the item wears well; you can feel the goods before purchase; you save money; and it’s an ethical option since you’re not creating demand for new linens that might be made in environmentally or ethically questionable ways.

We got our backup set of sheets at Goodwill; they’re a pleasing blue and are 100% cotton from IKEA. We also got our duvet cover secondhand from a parishioner who thought we could use some extra bedding as we moved into the parsonage. Pattern-wise, it wouldn’t have been our absolute first choice, and we may eventually buy something we like better; but in the meantime it’s actually kind of grown on me:

Consider ethical retail options. If you have access to a Costco membership, they sell quality sheets and down duvets at great prices. (It’s where we got both our duvet and our main sheets.) While you need to check individual brands on offer for their labor/environmental practices, Costco as a company has great labor practices including paying employees a living wage with benefits.

IKEA also offers sheets that are made with sustainably grown cotton and/or lyocell, both of which reduce water, pesticide, and fertilizer usage. (Check the “materials and environment” tab on a particular product on their website to learn more.) If we get a new duvet cover one day, it will be one of these.

Etsy also offers US-made duvet covers but usually for a heftier price. Be sure to check whether the listing explicitly says “Made in US” (or other country with good labor practices). “Ships from US” might mean nothing more than that the US seller imported it from a wholesaler before sending it to you.

And nix microfiber when possible – it feels super comfy but is made with petroleum-based polyester fibers, tiny bits of which break off and pollute the watershed every time you wash. Try cotton sateen or a cotton/lyocell combo for a luxurious-feeling, plant-based alternative.

 

Tips to make life with linens easier:

For that backup set of sheets, learn how to fold a fitted sheet.

Learn how to easily put your duvet cover back on the duvet after washing it.

Speaking of duvet covers – if in doubt, get a duvet cover that is smaller than your duvet. Duvet covers often come in different dimensions than the duvets themselves, which can be a huge headache when trying to find the right size. You might be tempted to size up on the cover for roominess, but a duvet that is the same size or smaller than the cover will use that extra space to move around a lot more, leaving you with flat, empty edges and weird lumps. Our duvet cover is a few inches shorter than our duvet in both dimensions and you can’t tell – it just fills the space instead of looking overstuffed.

 

What’s your sheet situation? Any suggestions for how to slim down your linens and/or creatively source them?

September Outfit Roundup: What Worked, What Didn’t

I post my outfits on Instagram for two main reasons: 1) the creative challenge of putting together an outfit I like and capturing it half-way decently on camera; and 2) to keep a visual record of what I wear – the successes, the failures, and the patterns.

It’s a nice (and weird?) bonus that 500 people follow along – but they rarely comment, so there’s not much feeling of community. (That’s what this space is for – thank you!) It’s mostly me, my outfits, and the reality-serving lens of the selfie setting on my camera.

Which makes my IG feed a great place to look back over my outfits to see what worked and what didn’t – especially since it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which until you look in a full-length mirror (which we don’t have) or take a full-length photo.

So here are some hits and misses in my maternity wardrobe from the last month.

First up: made-for-pregnancy tops with ruching in the side seams to accommodate a growing belly. These are super comfortable and practical – no worries about whether the belly is poking out – but I’m not in love with the silhouette they create:

 

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It’s funny, because I love snugly-clothed bellies on other pregnant people…but seeing it on myself makes me realize I prefer skimming silhouettes, not tight ones. (If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you will not be surprised by this revelation.)

Which brings us to some of my favorite looks from this past month.

The silhouette here is great – not clinging, but not a shapeless blob, either:

 

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I dig the contrast in colors: a kind of glowing medium blue – thank you, Light Summer – with very, very light grey makes for some visual interest, as does the juxtaposition of bigger-on-top, slimmer-on-bottom. The on-trend thin-white-stripe-on-blue look made this a “fan favorite” as well, receiving the most likes in the past month.

Anything with this wider-striped, non-maternity top was a win for me:

 

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It’s my ideal stripe ratio, skims instead of clings, and provides great visual contrast for solid-colored blazers:

 

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I’ll have to get a shot of the back because it has buttons running down the middle, making for an interesting touch of detail.

Contrast that with this blazer look, which chopped me off right at the middle:

 

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I should know by now that the length of this blazer makes it prone to creating this effect, but it’s so snug on cool days and it’s made out of such lovely fabric that I consistently reach for it and don’t realize the problem until I take a photo and can’t be bothered to change. (That hard break across the middle may also be why I’m not loving the ruched maternity tops – they tend to create a strong horizontal line at the hem.)

Returning to the success of skimming silhouettes: I love the way this swing sweater from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe looks over ma belly – it has interesting shape without clinging too much, and the scallop overlap at the sideseam breaks up the line of the hem. I layered a blue maternity tee underneath for warmth & coverage:

 

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It was super comfortable and fit right in with my Light Summer palette. And since most of my fall sweaters from last year are packed away, I was thrilled to get to wear a favorite.

This made me realize that I could probably pull out a few other favorites from last year and layer them over maternity tops, so I’ve put them through the wash to clean off the dust and they’re in my sweater drawer, ready to rock and roll. We’ll see how it goes as the weather gets chillier and I layer more!

Throwing back to warmer days at the beginning of the month, I finally figured out how to do a maxi dress – with a slit! Good for ventilation, ease of movement, and some visual interest:

 

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^^This one will be great for nursing as it has a snap-button wrap v-neck.

I’m hopeful these will both be stars of my summer wardrobe next year, though I don’t really know yet how they’ll look without a belly:

 

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A couple of reminders that non-maternity sweaters make you look like you’re about to erupt:

 

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But I do like how the stripes look underneath the solid here – adds a bit of Venetian (or otherwise Italian) menswear flair:

 

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And last but not least, a non-maternity favorite that somehow looked even more fetching, pregnant:

 

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I’d keep wearing it all fall with layers, except I’m not sure how much stretching it will take before it no longer wants to return to its original shape.

What were your favorites in my wardrobe over the last month? (Visit www.instagram.com/thriftshopchic to see everything.) What styles did or would you wear, pregnant? Any tips for stylish dressing while growing a human?