My Big Aha Moment from the 10×10 Challenge

So I learned some things after wearing the same 10 pieces of clothes for 10 days.

-I really liked concentrating on just a few itens. Paying each piece some one-on-one attention, as it were, gave me a chance to figure out how I really feel about them.  I slowed down and considered, instead of just wearing, tossing aside, repeat.  Taking outfit pics and having to reflect on each ensemble helped with this – so thanks, y’all, for reading and for commenting!

-I’m really feeling the blouse/pencil skirt combo right now (shock):
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-I’m keeping this white sheath dress:
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It just feels good and is super versatile without being blah/shapeless.

-I’m not keeping this red linen/cotton blouse:
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Too baggy in the torso; someone else will love it as is; I have plenty of blouses.  Sorry, fans of the BR Soft Wash Shirt!  (PS it’s a size S; if one of you living in a humid clime wants it I’ll ship it to ya. #thriftsolidarity)

-I’m not as excited about this blazer as I thought I would be:

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It fits dreamily and is so comfy. But the print seemed to clash with my printed tops and the grey was just a little too cool and not a great match for my grey pants. I’ll see how it matches with all the other stuff in my spring wardrobe, but I have a feeling it’ll get donated, because of my last realization.

The Big Aha Moment

The biggest thing I learned was before I started, when I was trying to pick out clothes for the challenge.  I wouldn’t even call it a “thing” I learned, but rather a shift in perspective.  All thanks to a dress coat:

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Tahari by Arthur S. Levine

I was staring at my closet, ruminating on what jacket/cardigan/blazer/coat I would pick as my finishing layer for the next ten days. I figured if I chose just one I’d have more room in my 10-day mini-capsule for other things. My eyes lit on this dress coat (coat dress?) and I said to myself, “That’d go with everything.”

For some reason that little insight swung the door open to a much bigger one. If that dress coat really would work with everything else I planned to include (it would), why did I have so many other blazers/top layers in my closet?

I looked over at my dresses; I had similarly decided to include just one dress in my 10×10 wardrobe so as to have room for more tops and bottoms to mix and match. If one dress, styled two ways, was sufficient to get me through ten days of work outfits, why did I have two dresses I loved but didn’t really fit right anymore and another I never really loved but thought I needed for color variety? This was after I did my spring closet clean out, mind you.

Somehow the lens of a mini capsule wardrobe brought into focus what “enough” really is in my wardrobe. It suddenly felt easy to let go of those three dresses, two blazers I hadn’t fallen in love with yet, and a couple of tops that went with everything but were rarely worn because I had so many others I liked more. And instead of feeling like I needed to go get my thrifting fix after my thrifting fast, I felt myself relax.

I don’t need a dress in every color to “complete” my spring wardrobe.  It’s been a bit strange to look at my dresses and see a lot fewer colors; the rainbow they made brought a smile to my face. Anyone else get that feeling of chromatic satisfaction? But I’m really looking forward to wearing the ones I still have, so does it matter if all that’s in there for spring is white, blue, caramel, and orange?

I don’t need more than two weeks’ worth of dress tops. I do want SOME variety in my life; not repeating a top in two weeks, give or take a few days, is my happy place for now.

I don’t need every color corduroy pant known to humanity just because they look so enticing all lined up on the thrift rack. In fact, having just two seems to work quite well. (But maybe my green ones instead of grey because JOY.)

 

I feel a shift coming on: from buying (or keeping) something because it goes with everything else to keeping just a few pieces that meet my needs and are a joy to wear, not just look at. Maybe I’m headed back towards capsule territory – at least in spirit.

 

So that’s what I learned from the 10×10. Did y’all participate?  Learn anything? Wanna share?  :)

PS Here’s what I donated after this epiphany. Bye:
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Spring 10×10 Remix: Day 10

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. I’m using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 10 – the finale!

I had planned to go with my Delft-blue Chico’s tunic top today to round out using each of my blouses two times, but the navy J. Crew skirt with which I had planned to pair it is out of commission (it needs its lining tacked up). Plus that top feels really summery/casual, more of a Friday or summer slow day top than a mid-week top.

What felt fresh and right again?  This puppy:

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It didn’t hurt that my remix has stretched into a third week (due to not working a few days last week); wearing it three times in two weeks might’ve been a little much.

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Dress, H&M; belt, J. Crew

I’ll tell you a secret, though – I topped it off (or will if it gets chilly in the office) with something outside my 10×10 capsule.  Egads!

The weather is too warm for my dress coat, and the cool grey of my marled blazer didn’t feel spring-y enough. I perused the rest of my blazers waiting to be put back in rotation after the 10×10; the pink/blue marled one by Cartonnier immediately spoke up and said “I’m lovely and spring-like!” Why yes, yes you are – get on over here:

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Close up on that pattern – I guess it’s more of an orange-y red than a pink!

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As Caroline of Un-Fancy likes to remind us, this challenge isn’t about sticking to the rules for rules’ sake, but learning about our wardrobes and what works/doesn’t work for us.  The fact that my grey blazer didn’t feel spring-y enough is definitely useful learning – a piece of information I’ll save for evaluating the blazer’s place in my wardrobe, since I had planned to use it as a spring/fall workhorse.

Styling: I went with my simple grey belt to keep within a palette of muted colors (yes I know my jacket is pink and blue, but they’re not bright pink and blue, or even particularly saturated).
I notched another belt loop using a tack to tighten my belt up a bit – great trick for belts that fit your hips but that you’d occasionally like to use for your waist. Just make sure to make the hole starting from the finished side – the side that the world sees – so that any rough edges are out of sight.
Finally, I rolled the blazer cuffs to the bracelet length I love, both to show off my cuff bracelet and to make it feel slightly less formal.

Thoughts: This dress feels simple and stylish with its clean lines. My coworker with 20+ years’ retail experience raved about it this morning before I had even added the belt; although I’m a firm believer that your own feelings on a piece are most important, it doesn’t hurt to hear outside opinions! :)
I like its cream/off-white color with the blazer’s muted pink/blue even though I didn’t really need a second layer today – our highs are in the 80s all week.  That’s spring in Atlanta for ya!

 

I’ll be back tomorrow with what I learned from this experience.  In the meantime, scroll down to comment and tell me what you think of this outfit, whether you’re a rules person or a rule-breaker/bender, and whether you’d like to see me do 2 or 3 outfit posts like this per week.  Now that I have a consistent set up (not glamorous but it works!) and a routine going, I’d be happy to do more of these if you all enjoy them!

 

Spring 10×10 Remix: Day 9

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. I’m using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 9 – the penultimate! I paired the white Ann Taylor skirt with the peach leopard print blouse by Forever 21. I don’t think that counts as “high-low” in the original designer/mass market sense of the term…but these two are definitely from the high and low ends of the retail cost spectrum in terms of what I normally thrift! I finished it off with a Monet cuff bracelet and Clarks sandals (retail):

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Pockets!
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Painted nails left over from a weekend wedding – so fancy!WP_20170425_16_29_51_Pro

Close up on that pattern:
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Styling notes: rolled sleeves, natch. Tucked in shirt pulled out just a smidge to give it some insouciance.
I also love the look of more tailored shirts worn untucked over pencil skirts, but I decided to go with just one kind of top in my wardrobe for simplicity’s sake, and this looser version with some lovely drape and roll to it, tucked in to skirt or slacks for a more put-together flavor, feels more “me.”
I think this might look slightly better with my slide wedges but I felt lazy and went for comfort with the flatter sandals.
Last but not least, here’s another safety pin creation – the gaps in the blouse are held together by pins. You can probably see it a little more here than in the previous shirt, because I have one pin that needs some rearranging.  Same trick used on the skirt as well.

Thoughts: I’m a fan. I included this skirt in my 10×10 to establish it as a wardrobe staple instead of something I wish I’d wear but just haven’t gotten over the hurdle yet. And this second wearing got me there!  I like the lightness of these colors together – it’s a palette cleanser, but not so neutral that my eyes are searching for color. And you know I love the subtle funk in that leopard print…

 

One day more! Are you bored of my choices yet? I’m not, but I’m also looking forward to slowly adding some of my other clothes back in and seeing what really fits great with these staples and what can float on down the river to someone else.

See ya tomorrow!

 

Friday ReBlog: Uniform Dressing

Thought you all might enjoy this take on uniform dressing from Kelly at Alterations Needed. If you’re wanting permission to wear the same outfit formula “pretty much every damn day,” this post is for you!  Plus her gentlewoman/garçonne style is so well done and so beautifully photographed. (And she’s got great alteration advice for petite-sized people.)

And here’s a profile of a real-life literal uniform dresser – a real estate professional who wears the exact. same. thing. every day.

Totally unrelated but too good not to share: the story of a thrifted green jacket that ended up selling at auction for almost $140,000.

Thanks Adina J at Blue Collar Red Lipstick for those last two recommendations, and Happy Weekend, Thrifters!

 

Spring 10×10 Remix: Day 8

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 8 comin’ atcha. I swapped the white skirt from last week’s outfit for a navy one and ta-da! Pretty different feel, if you ask me. (Maybe some of you are bored stiff by blouse + pencil skirt combos? Obviously I’m not!)

The blouse is Banana Republic Heritage, the skirt is J. Crew, and the slides are Bandolino. Everything but the jewelry (heirlooms) is thrifted. Forgot to put on my cuff this morning but if I had remembered it would be in there too!

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Side view with a senior picture-esque pose:WP_20170420_15_09_06_Pro

Close up on that all-important roll-tab sleeve:
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Styling notes: I rolled up those tabs to keep the sleeves outta my way (same as yesterday) and pinned the shirt closed in the front because the buttons are so small relative to the holes that they spontaneously undo themselves.  Hopefully you can’t even tell.

Thoughts: I hesitated on this combo because the navy and dark grey/taupe combo seemed too dark. I think I prefer this skirt with lighter/brighter tops, but I was actually pleasantly surprised that this didn’t look overwhelming. I think my pasty legs balance it out, ha!

 

So far I’ve really enjoyed this remix and the challenge to take daily outfit pics (at least on work days). What have you thought of the mix (either yours or mine) – too much same-same, or more like hitting a groove?

Next week (Tuesday & Wednesday) I’ll be back with outfits 9 & 10. In the meantime have a great weekend!

Spring 10×10 Remix: Days 6 & 7

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Leave it to me to forget that work would be closed this past Monday (observance of Easter); I spent the first half of the day in pjs and the second half in workout clothes. And yesterday was a whirlwind of meetings, prepping for church council, and voting in a special election, so today you get TWO 10×10 outfits. Aren’t you lucky? :X

Day 6

Post-vote pics at home from a very fore-shortened perspective (thanks to the Spouse for capturing photos):

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H&M dress; J. Crew belt; Monet cuff bracelet; sandals by Clarks (retail); “I’m a Georgia voter” sticker courtesy of the GA elections department (placement courtesy of my preschooler).

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Blazer by Merona

Styling notes: I did the same trick with my belt as last week, turning the buckle part around to the back so it didn’t weigh down the belt below the waist seam. I’ve trimmed up a bit from running more lately; I think it may be time to put another notch in my belts so this isn’t a problem the rest of the summer.
I’ve stuck with a relatively simple necklace here, in a length that fits the v-neck; come full-on summer I’ll probably pair this with some of my bold, shorter necklaces. I could probably also pair this shorter necklace with a longer pendant, but as I’m a fan of cleaner looks that’s probably a stretch.

Thoughts on this outfit: So this dress is a keeper. I love the cut, the length, and the different (for me) neckline. I’m just going to ignore the odd lining around the neck, or perhaps chalk it up to “character.”
The blazer is super comfortable, like wearing a sweatshirt, and I love the silhouette as well – my ideal blazer silhouette, skimming without flaring. I’m going to wear it with my blue sheath dress as well, but if I can’t convince myself it goes with my grey dress pants, I’m not sure how much additional wear I’ll get out of it. Y’all know I love print mixing, but layering this pattern right on top of my patterned blouses doesn’t always look right. And I want blazers that work with most of my wardrobe, not just 1 or 2 pieces. I’ll probably keep it through this summer and then send it on if I don’t find enough slots for it.

Day 7
Today we’re back in blouse-and-pencil-skirt territory.  Huzzah!

I paired the linen/cotton “soft wash shirt” from Banana Republic with my H&M pencil skirt and the same Clarks sandals (retail) above:WP_20170419_12_11_55_Pro

I had planned to keep the same jewelry as well, until I noticed that the (mostly) solid color blocking here felt kind of… boring. The outfit was asking for a little more interest, so I swapped out my gold studs for dangly earrings I made, and suddenly there’s a bit more oomph happening:
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Closeup on those earrings, made from thrifted parts:
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Here’s the outfit in profile:
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Styling notes: added some pizzazz to plain outfit with a little more “out there” jewelry; rolled those roll-tab sleeves ’cause it’s gonna get warm this afternoon.

Thoughts on this outfit: blouse + pencil skirt = win. Love the earrings.
Still not sold on the shirt; it is very soft but still has more structure/stiffness than my normally silky blouses and thus doesn’t lay as well when tucked in. Relatedly, the texture is a little too…hmm… rustic? for my taste. I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t look quite as polished paired next to something smoother. But my white skirt is also textured and this skirt is rumpled enough to pass as textured… ha.
I know I want to be able to wear it out over pants, and that would involve tailoring (either by myself – yipes – or an actual tailor), so I might just leave it as is and donate it for someone else to enjoy. When you’re using two paragraphs to convince yourself about a thrift find, it may be time to let it go.

 

How’s your 10×10 going? Whether you’re doing one or not, is your spring weather throwing you curveballs fashion-wise?
I’ll be away from the office this Friday and Monday as well, so look for Day 8 tomorrow and Days 9 & 10 next week.

 

Spring 10×10 Remix: Day 5

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 5: Get excited, no coat today! It was warm enough to wear just this cotton tunic and I am all in. I saved this gloriously Delft-plate-esque Chico’s top for Friday because it felt a little more casual than some of my other blouses… although on closer inspection the print is quite dramatic and that by itself makes it feel a little more formal.
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I paired it with my Vince Camuto pants and flat sandals instead of a skirt and wedges because I knew I’d be doing a lot of carrying stuff up and down stairs as a I break down the altar from Maundy Thursday and get ready for Good Friday. #holyweek #akaclergycrunchtime

Side view, with slits up the side for a little give in the hips:
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You may remember the original had little tassels but they were a different blue and kind of raggedy:
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I thought they made the otherwise striking print and clean silhouette look a little ratty, so I cut them off and just tied the ends in a simple overhand knot. They look weird actually tied together so I just let them hang:
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Closeup on that gorgeous pattern:
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Let’s take a second to discuss the hair. This relaxed side-ponytail is my current favorite hairstyle. It basically comes out of a mindless “agh, I need to tie my hair back to keep it from getting in my breakfast/coffee/toddler’s current art project” and then 20 minutes later I look in the mirror and realize it’s gorgeous so I secure the hair tie one more loop to keep it there.  I can’t make it look this way on purpose if I try!  Sigh.  (PS If you are wondering, I am still doing no poo 18 months in; update post to come.)

Bonus: when I try to do a different pose and it turns out horribly corny:WP_20170414_10_19_24_Pro

Thoughts on this outfit: It’s a win. 3/4 length-sleeves are my fave and the bold pattern, as I noted above, dresses up an otherwise poolside-worthy top (don’t get me wrong, I’d still take it to the pool). So light and breezy but with a great torso-skimming cut. (I’m looking at you, soft wash shirt – THIS is what we’re aiming for!)  Those bright, contrasting colors will feel even more spot-on once the weather heats up.

Happy Passover to those celebrating, and a meaningful Good Friday and Easter to those celebrating as well. (I meant to wish the same for Maundy Thursday yesterday but forgot.)

Scroll down to tell me how your remix is going and what you think of Day 5.  I’ll be back on Monday to start off week 2 of the 10×10. Thanks to all those who have commented for making it so enjoyable thus far!

Spring 10×10 Remix: Day 4

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 4. The dress coat! It’s everywhere!

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This time I wore it over my Banana Republic leopard print “Heritage” shirt and a textured white skirt (cotton/rayon/linen) by Ann Taylor. Shoes by Bandolino; all thrifted.
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Pockets!
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The jewelry: cuff bracelet by Monet
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Necklace = heirlooms from my Grandmother. The dove (Holy Spirit) is by James Avery. Not sure where she got the round rust-colored pendant:WP_20170413_10_10_34_Pro

Thoughts on this outfit: pencil skirt + tucked in blouse with a little drape and give, in classic white and funky leopard = my sweet spot. The leopard print pops against the white and the coat finishes it all off.
I included this skirt in my 10×10 because I was on the fence about it – it’s a little more booty-hugging than I prefer. Maybe I’m just used to looking at it in the mirror and pictures now, but it doesn’t seem as egregious as it once was; just a bit sculpted.  Pockets on skirts are always tricky because they are so prone to pulling; this skirt has a bit of that but not too much. The length is great and the fabric stretchy and soft, plus the liner makes it feel great.  You may have noticed, though, that the lining is peeking out, likely from dryer shrinkage. So after these pics I did my old can’t-get-to-the-tailor trick and pinned it:

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I simply fold the lining over itself about an inch (or however much you need) and then pin it to itself. If it doesn’t lay flat, run a hot iron over it. This will hold you until you can get to the tailor or hem it yourself. (Or you can just leave them in like I do – shhhh!)

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Ta-da! No more lining peeking out:

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I’ll get to try out this skirt one more time next week. Right now I’m thinking I will keep it, but I also did a thought experiment about donating it and realized I wouldn’t miss it that much – my navy and taupe pencil skirts go with everything, plus I have white trousers for a pop of white against my fun spring/summer blouses. Those puppies are lined, though, and get pretty hot on 90 degree days, so having a white skirt on hand is tempting.

What do you all think of this skirt?  The outfit?  How’s your remix? PS There’s lots of inspiration and ideas on Instagram #Spring10x10 – great for inspiration even if you’re not participating this go-around!

10×10 Spring Remix: Day 3

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and the clothes (all thrifted)– here.

Day 3: You may be getting tired of this Tahari by Arthur S. Levine dress coat (coat dress?) but I’m not! It goes with everything:
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Sandals by Clarks (retail); shirt by Banana Republic; pants by Vince Camuto; bracelet by Monet; necklace = heirloom

I actually thought about wearing my grey marled Merona blazer pictured in the post mentioned above, just for some variety; but the grey in it is juuuust different enough from the grey in these Vince Camuto pants that I wasn’t feeling it. There goes my idea to pair its pattern with these solid pants for a “casual suiting” look! (Don’t worry, the blazer will still get plenty of wear in this 10×10, paired with skirts and my dress.)

The action shot – long-haired people, you know that move where you untuck your hair from the coat/jacket/cardigan you just put on?
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Without the coat:
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This is the “Soft Wash Shirt” by Banana Republic – a mix of linen & cotton. I love how soft it is and how it combines that softness with some clean lines – see those seams on either side of the placket? They give it a little polish that brings its relaxed linen texture from “weekend” to “work wear”:
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And check out the roll-tab sleeves (y’all know I love a good roll tab):
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But. (Why does there have to be a “but”?!) The “fitted” look those seams give it is just not fitted enough for my torso:
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Meh. Now we’re back in weekend territory.

See the difference when I pin it behind my back?  Don’t know why I didn’t see this in the dressing room.
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It’s not terribly noticeable (especially when I’m wearing a coat/blazer), but not ideal. I’m not sure if I should re-donate it as-is so someone else can enjoy it, or take it to my tailor and see how expensive it would be to bring it in a little. With a spot of tailoring it could be a wardrobe star this summer when Atlanta hits 90+ degrees and 90 percent humidity every day.
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My overall feeling about this outfit? The color palette is right in my wheelhouse, and I love the way the coat looks over the blouse. I am not happy with the fit of the blouse, but since I included it to get a better feel for how it plays with the rest of my wardrobe, I see that information as a win. I’m looking forward to pairing it with a skirt next week to see how it does tucked in, since the fabric is stiffer than the blouses I usually tuck.

What do y’all think of the outfit? Would you donate the shirt or take it to the tailor? How’s your remix going?

 

10×10 Spring Remix – Day 2

I’m doing the 10×10 spring remix hosted by Un-Fancy and StyleBee. All this work week and next, I’ll be using 10 pieces of clothing to create 10 different outfits, using self-imposed limitations to spark some creativity. All the details – and all the clothes – here.

Day 2: white H&M shift dress paired with the same dress coat (Tahari by Arthur S. Levine) as yesterday, Clarks sandals (retail), and a little added interest with a leopard print belt by J. Crew and my new (to me) cuff bracelet (Monet):

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This dress. I love the length, the neckline is new (to me) and fresh, and the sleeves aren’t so cap they feel like afterthoughts:
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It has interesting structural details – 2 subtle pleats up front, diamond-shaped bias seams on the side (I’m making up these terms as I go along), and a strange, Jessica Rabbit-reminiscent lining showing through at the bust :
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Styling note: I turned the belt around because the weight of the metal buckle was pulling down in the front and keeping it from lining up with the very obvious waist seam. Ta-da:
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It’s hidden when I wear the coat but makes for an unexpected detail even when not hidden:WP_20170411_11_23_23_Pro (1)

This outfit is my sweet spot – a classic sheath dress with something a little funky to keep it from being boring. The coat is, again, super elegant and I dig that it’s not the exact same length as the dress, which keeps the pairing from looking too matchy-matchy or cutting me off at the knees.

Though I’m still not sure how I feel overall about this dress (that weird lining!), I’m excited to style it a different way next week to get a better feel for  whether it’s a keeper – which is, after all, why it’s in my 10×10.

What’s your Day 2 look like? What do you think of this look? Scroll down to comment!