Tweaking Outfits toward Perfection

Not that one ever achieves outfit perfection….or that one should even hold outfit perfection as an objective. Or that one should talk about oneself in the third person.

But I noticed that in a few of my recent favorite outfits, minor adjustments moved my look from “okay” to “spot on. So today I’m sharing a couple of tweaks to help an outfit go from good to great.

First up: my pinkish Pixie pants by Old Navy, via Poshmark.

I found my size in Tall on Poshmark, and, thinking they would offer more length than the ankle length of the classic Pixie pant, bought them. Just as I had hoped, they turned out to be a perfect match for Light Summer, and they were definitely long enough.

Turns out, though, that “Tall” – Old Navy’s designation for women 5’10” and up (I’m not quite that tall) – isn’t just long, it’s bigger in other areas to accommodate the larger frame of tall women:


Definitely giving off a roomy vibe.

I knew I didn’t want that much extra fabric clinging on me in the warm months, which is when I wanted to wear these puppies, so I went hunting for the classic-sized (aka ankle length Pixie pant in the same color, and voilà – I made one tweak in style and they fit just right:


Definitely ankle-length, though. 

(Online thrifting tip: if you want to find the exact color of something you’ve already seen in person, look at one of the tiny tags underneath the big tag and it might tell you the specific color of the item; if not, it will usually note the season and year – e.g. “SPR 17” – which you can then use to cross-check online listings. If the color/season isn’t mentioned in the listing, just message the seller and ask them to check that tiny tag and report back. That’s how I confirmed this second pair was indeed “Life’s a Peach,” a color variously described and photographed as pink, coral, salmon, etc.)

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the Talls – sell them on Poshmark (something I’ve yet to try) in order to make back some of the money I’ve spent there? Save them for next winter? (Leggings for those extra cold days would definitely fit under there.) What would you do?

 

The tropical shirt (H&M) in that last photo leads me to my next tweak: pants into cutoffs.

These yellow bootcut jeans from Forever 21 were fun as is, but I was having a hard time finding a way to wear them in the cold months. And because the denim was so floppy (read: not super high quality), they didn’t have much shape down below:

So I chopped ’em, rolled the cuffs, and wore them with that same tropical shirt when the temperature hit 80:

Another quick tweak was to wash the sandals in this pic with a damp cloth. Thus dingy-colored Clarks with nothing else wrong with them became gloriously white (and wearable) once again. I wonder if the person who gave them away was truly tired of them or thought they’d passed the point of no return without realizing a quick clean would have done the trick.

To check whether the dirt on a thrift shoe find is washable (in the store), dab a tiny amount of water from your water bottle onto a spare hankie or tissue and gently rub (don’t do this on suede). I did this in the middle of Savers and was rewarded with the knowledge that these shoes weren’t stained, merely dirty:


Ta-da!

Last but not least, a “tweak” that really comes down to styling.

I found this Metaphor blazer at Restoration Project in a pitch-perfect Light Summer pink and in my sweet spot for blazers – long and lean lapels with a pre-scrunched sleeve for added insouciance:


Yes, I know I just said I didn’t need any more blazers, but I was silently still keeping an eye out for a pink blazer unicorn.

The only problem? It was a size (or two?) too large, at least on the tag. Over a long-sleeved shirt, it felt a bit big in the arms a bit big in the armpits:

…but with armpits reined in, it actually looked pretty good on:

and I was so happy to find a blazer in one of “my” pinks (I had plans; see unicorn comment above) that I bought it anyway. Better a slightly oversized look than a too-tight look, yes?

Here is the execution of the first of my many plans involving this blazer, in which the simple tweak of giving the sleeves an extra couple SCRUNCHES made everything look more fitted/on purpose:


My spouse said this outfit made his head explode. I figure that means it’s just right.

 

Conclusion: just a few small adjustments here and there can make a big difference. What are your favorite thrift tweak success stories?

 

Finding Enough for Now

A few weeks ago – I think it was while I was starting to put away some of the really heavy winter clothing (the lighter stuff is still around…sigh) – I realized that I had worn just a few dresses over the winter, some just once.

And although I cycled through a few different clutches of sweaters this winter, by the end I was consistently wearing…three of them.

And really only two main collared shirts under those sweaters, plus two flannels.

And basically three pairs of pants, plus one for the weekends.

And one blazer.

And I hadn’t even combined them all yet in all the different ways they could go together – I kept wearing the same few combinations that were easy and I loved. So why did I have so many clothes in my closet?

That moment was a good reminder that thrifting – and the sweet prices that go along with it – can often lead to a closet full of things I love, but too full to wear them all as much as I’d like. (I suppose I could theoretically end up wearing all those clothes over several seasons…but my winter style has been distinctively different each of the last three years, so I’m not going to pretend I’m going to wear that entire drawer stuffed full of sweaters for years and years. Plus stuffed drawers – ugh, too hard to find what you want and keep it unwrinkly!)

I’ve pondered this before; it’s a cyclical thing, and I’m okay with that. Although it IS really enjoyable to discover exactly how much I need and have the permission to love those pieces and let go of the rest.

For example, I’m happy with one blazer right now:

It goes with everything and is cozy on chilly New England spring days. (We’ll see what I do in the warm months with the couple of lighter blazers kicking around my guestroom closet.) I’ve told myself I “need” more blazers in other colors for more versatility, but every time I’ve tried to add other blazers, they just….flop.

So I’m aiming for joyful appreciation of what’s right in front of me. Contentment, if you will.

And constantly reminding myself while thrifting that I am incredibly picky about blazers I will actually wear with any regularity, so CHILL with buying them already.

 

Where is “enough” for various clothing categories in your closet? Do you ever go over the threshold, just to have variety? Are some categories easier to rein in than others?

Random Bits of Style Goodness – Mary Berry and Norma Kamali

A couple of bits of style goodness for your Tuesday morning.

I’ve been watching two seasons of The Great British Bakeoff (aka The Great British Baking Show on Netflix). I cried at the end of one of them. Just the right mix of interesting (I know nothing about baking), dramatic (the natural drama of “Will this sponge cake set in time?” instead of manufactured interpersonal drama), charming (love the hosts), and stylish – Mary Berry is my new blazer inspiration:

 

She even does moto jackets & bombers:

 
Scarf game = 100.         PS that’s host Mel Giedroyc stuffing pastries into her pocket. Charming, yes?

 

What a badass. She’s 80 and wearing stuff 20-year-old models sport – much of which sold out as soon as she wore it on TV. Here’s a fun read on her style icon status.

And from Norma Kamali (a 70-year-old designer and fashion maven in her own right), in an interview by Garance Doré, speaking about style in the 60s:

“If somebody liked what they put together, it would not be strange for them to wear it for 48 hours…people wouldn’t just change their clothes everyday; if you liked what was happening, maybe you’d add another scarf.”


Source.

Thank you, Norma, for validating my habit of wearing an outfit that works two days in a row – either with a change of shoes or without.

Enjoy your day!

Living into Light Summer – Four Months In

Hey all,

It’s been four months since I got my colors “done“; time for an update!

I’m settling into this new season; I see when my face “pops” with a good color; I can now see plainly that a few old pieces I initially thought were Light Summer are not; and it’s becoming a lot easier for me to pick out some of the Light Summer colors at a glance (I then confirm with my handy dandy color palette).

Greens and purples are probably the easiest – they jump out at me:


Can you tell I’m having fun with this?

Blues don’t jump very much but there’s some flexibility there. I’m getting better at yellows and pinks (which are really mostly corals); and I’ve even found a few good browns – though I haven’t thrifted them:


Too big.

 

I see when my color palette (the actual samples of colors I take with me when I thrift) pops against colors in my season when I didn’t used to:


Pop! As always, take photos of the palette with a large grain of salt due to lighting etc.

I thrifted these Bermuda shorts even though they’re more where my style 8 was years ago. I couldn’t help myself – they were so perfectly Light Summer. That’s actually been a challenge – it’s still novel and exciting for me to find something that’s a perfect palette match that I sometimes buy things I normally wouldn’t because IT IS MY PALETTE. Working on that.

 

Amazingly, I’ve even had success finding my colors online, which can be a tricky proposition since lighting and monitor settings affect things. Knowing it’s hard to match colors in some ways makes me more restrained – I’m less likely to buy something unless I’ve seen it in person.

Otherwise, I piece together a variety of photos from the seller and the original retail site (these are usually pretty accurate) and make an educated guess, which is how I ended up with these pants – SUCH a good match for Light Summer:


Glorious. The Pixie pant from Old Navy via Poshmark.

These also were a perfect match, which is great since I’ve been looking for pink pants to set off my warmer weather tops:


Also Pixies from Old Navy via Poshmark.

 

As far as denim goes, I’ve been happy to stick with my darker Paige jeans because we so easily read jeans as a neutral; plus pants are far from the face, where it’s most obvious if you’re wearing something outside your palette. And I had found some “Best Girlfriend” jeans that were right in my color palette; but they are baggy, weekend, laze-around-the-house jeans that don’t give the cleaner silhouette I like for more polished outfits.

Lo and behold, the thrifting gods sent me the first pair of J Brand jeans that didn’t feel like sausage casing around my legs; they have some stretch (I know that’s antithetical to denim purists and I don’t care). They are a lovely light blue wash that is squarely Light Summer denim territory:

They’re a tiny bit cropped but since I plan to wear them now through fall, that should work just fine.

 

I think I mentioned before that this palette made me realize that I had let myself get seduced by the neutral-heavy palette of minimalist Instagram style mavens. Although there’s a lot to be said for playing with texture and silhouette within a very muted, narrow palette, I came to recognize it just didn’t feel like me. (One of my favorite shirts is bright blue snake print, for Pete’s sake!) When I posted a muted peach skirt on Instagram asking for color suggestions to dye it, someone suggested “rust!” with enthusiasm and I just wanted to run the other way.

It’s been a breath of fresh air leaning back into color with this new color palette and embracing PATTERN beyond just a neutral stripe or dot. (Can you tell how happy those floral pants make me?) I’m excited to share more with you as I finish building my spring/summer wardrobe – whenever spring finally arrives!!

15 Seconds of Thrifting Fame

I had the slightly surreal experience this week of being recognized in public as a thriftstagrammer.

Here’s how it happened.

(Prepare for a short story to be made long.)

I’d figured out rather recently that I should be tagging not the brand of my clothes in Instagram posts, but the store where I thrifted them.

I started off tagging brands because I thought people would be inspired to thrift by seeing the great brands that can be found secondhand. This was…pretty pointless. If people search IG for, say, Banana Republic or Vince Camuto, they’re likely looking for retail looks they can buy now, not thrifted looks they’d have to scour online secondhand stores to find.

BUT. Thrifters want to know where they can find great stuff, regardless of whether they nab a specific item I showcase (which, after all, is pretty unlikely). And for people who do want to search for one of my finds, they can ask me for the brand in the comments.

Plus, it’s more fun to be connected with the people behind store brand accounts – they’re more likely to leave comments and to invite you to special events, and if you develop a relationship with them, they might be willing to hold an awesome find from their IG feed for you.

And as I discovered last Friday, they might even recognize you when you patronize their store:

I was browsing the racks at Sister Thrift in Watertown when an energetic blonde woman came up to me and asked, “Are you Leah?” As a pastor I run into people I know every time I get groceries, but I had no idea who this woman was. “I’m Tiffany, one of the co-founders. I saw you shopping and thought, I recognize her from Instagram!” She proceeded to thank me for mentioning Sister Thrift whenever I sport items from their stores.

“You’re welcome,” I said. “Thank YOU for having such awesome stuff at really good prices.” (True. I visited another store after them and was not impressed, price-wise.)

Well that had already made my day – how delightfully unexpected! And then Tiffany asked the cashier to give me 20% off my purchases. Uh, yes please! The thrifter’s dream.


What I found that day – Gap & J Brand.

So if you’ve ever wondered whether it’s worth it to post all those outfit pics on Instagram – it could earn you celebrity status and a discount. Just be sure to tag those hard-working thrift store IG accounts!

The end. :)

Thrift Finds: March 2018

Long time no see, Thrifters! You know it’s been awhile when my last post was also thrift finds… from a month ago.

I’ve been happily busy with work (Lent, Holy Week) and thus away from the blog. To jump back in, I thought about doing the Spring 10×10 (click here to read about what a 10×10 is) but it was scheduled to start on Good Friday (hello people, busiest time of year for a pastor!) and also it snowed yesterday. So nope.

But I did have some good March thrift finds and I would love to share them with you all. I’ll classify them by thrift excursion so I can keep track of what’s what. Here we go!

First up: Global Thrift in Waltham.
I did a quick run through just before closing and didn’t find anything I wanted to try, but did find a gorgeous J. Crew linen dress in a Light Summer coral not remotely my size:

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Wanh wannnnhhhhh.

Here’s another Light Summer number in the weird college-student-party-dress length that always cuts off people’s legs while simultaneously threatening to show their assets:

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Why do people wear such short hems?! #rantover

 

Next up, the Goodwill in Seabrook, NH on the way to visit my inlaws. I have one complaint against New Hampshire Goodwills: they sell a bunch of new stuff alongside the secondhand things, and while this is handy when I want to buy underwear or socks and still support a non-profit, it just kind of spoils the feel for me. Plus the way they display it sometimes makes it hard to distinguish between new and not; the new stuff is usually cheaply made; and I didn’t find good undies this time.  #rantnumber2over

Nope on this cable-knit sweater – the overly bright white and the cheap quality overrode my love of cowl necks:

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Too small:

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This pleated dress with attached camisole-like liner actually looks better in retrospect than it did in the dressing room – it was a bit baggy on:

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Great colors on the stripes; wonky neck:

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Despite the picture which makes it look sort of milk-chocolatey, this NY & Co. blazer was the exact right brown for Light Summer. Too bad it was so baggy in the chest/armpit area!
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These two t-shirts came home with me as they were simple but with details that added a twist. Ralph Lauren Jeans is on the left; on the right is No Boundaries (a Walmart brand that almost never passes the quality test, but this one did).

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Despite the awful lighting, both are good Light Summer colors. You can see the yellow shirt (which is a tad big and looks better under a blazer) featured in my Easter outfit:

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Those pants, btw, are also a new-to-me find off of eBay – they arrived on Good Friday so it seemed clear the universe wanted me to wear them on Easter. More about them in a post to come.

Last but not least from Goodwill, this cheeky little shirt by Express which is also super comfortable. Pretty sure I can’t wear this to work so it will be my leisure shirt (or I can wear it under a blazer to look like I’m in on the shirts-with-words trend while obscuring the actual words).

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A quick Saturday-before-Palm Sunday visit to the Garment District to rent a donkey costume:

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I hadn’t been here in about 15 years… last time I was a college student on a budget, digging through the pay-by-the-pound section:

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I’ve since graduate to the racks, where I found some great patterns…

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…and consignment store prices. I tried on three Light Summer finds.

I’m on the hunt for a chambray dress, but this one was too baggy, and for the prices I wanted something just right:

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A yellow cashmere(!) Lord & Taylor sweater that was great except for being too short – when I raised my arms, out came the midriff: IMG_20180323_121255582

And a pink top in which I absolutely swam:

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Last but not least, a quick stop into Restoration Project in Belmont. This is a small store supporting a non-profit that trains adolescents & adults with brain disorders and injuries in the furniture restoration trade; as you might imagine, they have a great selection of furniture. So it’s already a great cause; and somehow, unlike many other small stores linked to deserving local charities that end up with a hodge podge of meh selections, this store is packed full of modern, fresh, quality finds. I buy something every single time I stop in, and often come home with a new closet favorite.

This time:

Nope – great rise on these Kancan jeans but sausage calves down below:

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Practically no-rise on these otherwise great white jeans (insert rant number 3 about lowrise pants – and get off my lawn!):

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Such a fun, mermaid-y look in great Light Summer colors…

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…that was too big. Plus the yoke was a dingy, cheap-looking white:

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The colors on this silk Ann Taylor button down were glorious, but it was a size too big (fixed by a tie in the front) and had a few snags. What do you think – should I have bought it and styled it thus?

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This Eva Mendes skirt is pretty awesome in terms of feel – very lush – and architectural detailing. I love the built-in belt for definition:

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But it was at least a size (maybe 2?) too small.

Here are some shorts that hit me in all the wrong places and are way too baggy in the legs:

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Here’s on I brought home – great drape, length, and detail with that center pleat…

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…but although it has Light Summer colors in it, the grey in the pattern makes it feels so…muted…compared to my recently re-chromatized look:

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Meh. We’ll see how I feel about it, maybe over my purple pants.

Speaking of purple, Restoration Project was in rare form with the Light Summer purples. Check out this strapless gown I wish I had somewhere to wear:

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And this purple men’s v-neck sweater in Italian merino wool by Express that became my Good Friday outfit:

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And this sleeveless crop-ish silk top by Bloomingdale’s, two sizes too large:

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I feel like all the cool Instagram kids are wearing crop tops likes this with highwaisted jeans. I think maybe I could pull it off, especially as a fun (and inexpensive) experiment, except for the fact that it’s so wide:

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What would you do with this top if you were me? Try to tighten it up with some hand sewing, while still leaving enough flex room to get it over my head? Wear it as-is and pretend it’s on purpose?

You can see more of the sleeveless top’s extra fabric in this pic of a vintage maxi skirt I nabbed. The skirt is super comfy with its flat front and elastic waistband and I liked the kicky little pleats in front:

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I plan to wear it with my Saltwater sandals and a tank this summer, but in a better color. I want to dye it a color other than this 1980s peach, which is not Light Summer (or particularly appealing). Thoughts on a color to choose?

And last but not least, a vintage Maggy London dress I considered wearing for Easter for about a minute – and rejected, mostly because I couldn’t figure out whether the shoulders would look good once I removed the shoulder pads:

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Happy Easter/chag Pesach sameach to those who celebrate!

 

Thrift Finds: February 2018

As I continue in my Light Summer wardrobe overhaul, February has been a month of delicious thrift finds!

I stumbled upon an incredible wonderland in Waltham called Global Thrift with a huge selection, decent prices, and a friendly, fun-to-be-around staff. (Seriously, if you get into a discussion with the cashier about how your cousins dolled you up and made you lip sync to Linda Ronstadt songs when you were little, it’s a good day.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught my IG story showcasing the racks and racks of clothes, which are color-sorted, neat, and uncrammed (I’m looking at you, local Goodwills). They have several well-lit dressing rooms that don’t need to be unlocked because they’re right by the cashiers (looking at you again, GW). Between a visit on Monday and a visit on Friday (can you tell I love this place?) there was new stuff on the racks.

They are a for-profit, locally owned business; they support a foundation working to end homelessness and they give vouchers to folks at a local shelter in need clothes. My kind of people.

Let’s start with the misses, just for fun.

I’m on the hunt for light-colored blazers; this cool Zara number with no collar looks great buttoned:

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But I like my blazers to look good unbuttoned, too, and alas, it bells out in a way I do not care for:

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The baggy sleeves and special item $15 price weren’t doing it for me either. I had faith I’d find something better.

This green blazer was a perfect match for Light Summer’s palette but was made out of cheap, stiff, shiny stuff – nope:

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Too bad, as it fit decently.

 

Next up, some blouses – looking ahead to spring!

The color is just a bit too muted on this salmon number, plus it was baggy and mediocre quality fabric

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Which is too bad, because look at the cool button details on the back:

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I’m not a huge fan of color blocking, and the fabric was cheap; but the green on this blouse was a perfect Light Summer color:

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Too tight in the chest!

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Lovely blues, great cut, but that slick/stiff feel of cheap…poly? in this Liz Claiborne shirt – I’m used to better from her. Plus it was a little

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Can you tell by my smile that I love the print on this Van Heusen tee? It’s a perfect Light Summer hue, its Provençal-style fabric reminds me of happy days in the south of France, and I dig the split hem and navy blue back (hard to see, sorry!). It is about two sizes too large, though, as evidenced by its hospital gown chic:

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I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on online secondhand sites for it in a smaller size.

This tee had a great mix of Light Summer white and pink with some darker Winter pinks in there – but too big:

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Baggy, saggy fabric made this Banana Republic top in a great purpley taupe a NO:

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A dress with awesome pleats & salmon color, a not-awesome stain, and a size (or three) too big:

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The awesome Light Summer green of this Gap vest – which, sadly, was too big – is just making me beam:

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Plus how adorable is that faux fur hood? I’ll be looking for you on the internet in a better size, green vest:

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Corduroys by D. Jeans in a great soft grey that fit fine in the legs but were a little too loose in the waist:

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I’ve learned that that give, while it feels minor in the fitting room, equals constant hitching up in real life, and I want to spare my congregation & my colleagues from clergy crack. You’re welcome.

Still on the misses, here’s a sweater by Pink Rose that was both too warm in color and too see-through – I want to be able to wear my sweaters without a layer underneath:

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And now, on to the hits!

First up, some amazing drawstring pants by Zara Men. I’ve thrifted a pair of Zara Men pants before and loved the slim but slightly slouchy fit and the huge POCKETS that men’s pants have. (There’s a whole rant in there about why women’s pockets are so tiny – sexism + keeping the handbag industry profitable being the short version. I’ll spare you.)

Anyway, look at this linen chambray! I die:

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Here’s a better pic, just so you can glory in them with me:

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Come warm weather, I’m getting my steamer out and these babies are getting WORN.

I surprised myself by liking this Old Navy dress with a pleated skirt. The pattern was simple and fun, the blue can pass for Light Summer; but mostly the fabric felt uber-soft and lovely against my skin. It’s a tad bit big in the bust, but I have plans for that:

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Another linen summery item, this time a charcoal-and-white striped Girl Krazy blouse with roll-tab sleeves (my favorite). I can’t wait to wear it with trousers and a blazer for a menswear/gentlewoman chic feel. Bonus: it’s new with tags:

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And a smooth-as-silk poly tunic with brass studs and ace tailoring by Pomelo – SO excited to wear this one:

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A couple of Light Summer sweaters to improve my winter sweater palette – Gap Designed & Crafted followed by Loft:

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I love the texture of both of these:

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The side seam with overlapping hem is a great detail:

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And let’s finish this where we started, with a couple of Light Summer blazers – yes!

First up, a slightly iridescent grey number by Oasis with a dramatic, long ‘n’ lean lapel and a couple of tucks in each shoulder for an understated pouf:

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Look at that trim line! So refreshing when the vent on blazers so often sticks out funny in the back:

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Another long and lean lapel with some funky notches happening in this Kenar light oatmeal blazer – yes please on that smooth silhouette!

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Again with the good fit on the vent:

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Let’s see those two in better lighting:

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Yes. Please.

Thanks thrifting gods – I’ll see you next month. Mwah!

Light Summer Colors: What’s Hard (and Easy) to Find

One of the joys of a PCA (personal color analysis) is knowing exactly what “your” colors are – the ones that complement and enhance your skin tone. The burden is that sometimes *your* particular colors aren’t on trend; if your purple is softer/darker/lighter than Pantone’s Ultraviolet, you may have to wait another fashion cycle (or three) before you can buy purple clothes retail.

Enter the thrift store, where the colors of seasons past all live together in glorious harmony, and where you are much more likely to find “your” version of blue, purple, yellow, etc.

But. I’ve noticed that even with a veritable rainbow of colors at my fingertips, it’s still harder to find some Light Summer (my palette) colors than others. I suspect this is due in part to what particular kinds of colors have been popular over the last several years; it’s mostly due, though, to different seasons wearing different colors more easily.

I’m no expert here (dive into the delightful rabbit hole of Christine Scaman’s 12 Blueprints for that), but as I’ve dug into the subject of personal color analysis a bit, I’ve picked up that, say, Light Summers can rock a wide variety of blues (even fudging some that aren’t our best), but that orange will likely never be our friend. A special warm/cool blend of coral, yes, but that can be hard to find, since coral tends to err on the side of warm. Likewise, the very muted, cool yellows in Light Summer’s palette are tricky to find – fashion has favored mustards or warmer, lemony yellows for years, so that my yellows are more likely to be found in grandpa cardigans or strangely cropped pullovers or cableknits from an unfortunate slice of the 90s:

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Likewise, ALL the pinks that hit that elusive warm/cool spot beloved of Light Summers seem to be cable knits or cardigans, neither of which are my favorite. Why, fashion designers, why?

On the other hand, greys are pretty easy to fudge, and teals and blues call to me from the racks like beacons of cool, soft, lightness:

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These are some of my “easiest” colors to wear, and end up therefore being the “easiest” to spot – even if they don’t all come home with me.

If you’ve been analyzed – or if you know your best colors – which are the easiest to find? Which are harder? What’s your take on the magic of finding “your” colors?

In Which I Try Girlfriend (or Mom?) Jeans

When I was at Restoration Project last month looking for some neutral pants for my Light Summer wardrobe, these pants looked like just the light, lovely color of blue that would light up my new (to me) wardrobe:

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They’re by Gap and they’re labeled “Best Girlfriend Jeans.” Huh?

(This article will help you make as much sense as possible of all the jeans named after relationships in your life. Which is not much, because as the photos included show, what one brand calls a Girlfriend jean is someone else’s Boyfriend jean, etc. I still have no idea what makes jeans borrowed from your best girlfriend better than jeans borrowed from just your regular girlfriend. Le sigh.)

As far as I can tell, what Gap means by Best Girlfriend is jeans with a midrise waist and tapered but not skinny legs, that are rather roomy in the hip/thigh:

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So….Mom Jeans. But cooler. (I think.)

(I should note that depending on the style, I wear two different sizes in Gap jeans and this is the larger one, so the fit might not be designed to be quiiiiite this loose. Yet they were such a dreamy color, and incredibly comfortable – very soft, good stretch – that I decided to branch out, style-wise.)

Mind you, this is only the second pair of jeans I own, the first being skinny jeans (the Paige Skyline – thank you thrift gods), so I feel like quite the cool kid in my slouchy denim. I’ve worn them a couple of ways so far: around the house when I want to look dressed but still want to feel pajama-level comfort, over leggings for some added warmth…

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Distributing ashes outside for 2 hours in Boston in February is cold!

…and on snowy days when I’d rather stay at home and want to bring that comfy feel into the office:

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The transition to New England style is complete.

I actually really dig them with the white button down shirt I wore to get a good picture of them for you – I guess it’s a case of good lighting + colors in the same season really lighting each other up:

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The only negative is that I have to keep yanking them up as they work their way down my derriere – we’re not risking crack territory here, but of course it makes things look slumpier. I’m excited when sweater season is over to pull out a belt and wear them hitched up and styled with button downs and tucked in blouses for a relaxed look that maintains its lines.

Do you sport any Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Mom/Dad/Grandpa/whatever the newest person-related style is? Why or why not, and how do you style them?

 

Getting Stains out of Thrift Store Finds

Many an article on thrifting advice will advise you to skip the stained, torn, snagged, or otherwise damaged thrift find. In some ways, this makes sense – you shouldn’t let thrift prices (“But it’s so cheap!”) lure you into buying something that is poor quality or damaged beyond repair.

But stains, tears, and snags are often fixable. Can you sew by hand? Great, you can fix that hole in the armpit or along the side seam. Got a crochet hook (or a bobby pin or a tapestry needle)? Great, you can fix the snag in that sweater. Have a box of powdered oxygen bleach? Buh-bye, stains.

Which is what I’m going to show you today.

I present to you this lovely Y-neck tunic by Atmosphere:

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It’s made out of the kind of high quality polyester that’s a decent dupe for silk; it drapes well; and it’s a good polished but not uncomfortable blouse for Sunday mornings (aka work).

It came with some sort of coffee-like stain on the hem, front and back:

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(It’s a little hard to see; one day I’ll learn to take close ups of stains before I fix them.) I figured someone had spilled on it, washed it, and then donated it when the stain didn’t come out of that first wash.

The Goodwill cashier very thoughtfully pointed out the stain to me and asked if I was sure I wanted to buy it; when I said yes, she replied, “Well, we do have a 7 day return policy if it doesn’t come out.”

O ye of little faith!

Actually, I didn’t know if it would come out, but I figured $6 + the possibility of a return were good odds.

I dumped a little powdered oxygen bleach (I have this brand – not an affiliate link) in a bucket I keep for soaking stained stuff (great for baby/toddler stains!) and added some lukewarm water to dissolve it. Then I stuck the offending hems into the water, draped the rest of the shirt over the side of the bucket, stuck it on top of the washing machine where my kid couldn’t tip it over, and let it sit overnight.

The next morning I checked to see if the stains had disappeared – they had! – and then stuck the shirt in a regular load of wash, taking it out to hang dry as soon as the cycle stopped.

Et voilà:

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No more coffee stains!

Lest you think this was a fluke, there were also the white shorts that I thrifted knowing they had period stains on them (yes, yes, you may throw up in your mouth a little if that skeeves you out). I applied a paste made of the above-mentioned oxygen bleach + water and let sit overnight, then scrubbed out with an old toothbrush and water. I did that a few times as the stain got fainter; I also let it soak just like I did this blouse and I think that worked better than the paste. Just soak/wash/air dry/repeat until the stain has faded away completely. Hanging to dry in the sun also helps.

Here they are, clean as new:

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I can’t say this will work on any/all stained thrift finds; I’m sure some items get donated because their previous owner has already tried EVERYTHING, to no avail. But if $6 of your money is worth the possibility of ending up with an unstained, new-to-you piece you love, give it a try. Especially if there’s a return policy. :)
What minor mishaps have you successfully fixed – and what kinds of defects are you willing to thrift?