Summer Wardrobe Rehab: Dresses

I’m doing an end-of-summer wardrobe clean out–see tops here and how to fight the fear here.  Today, dresses!  Continue on for cuts and keepers.


Dress from Walmart my mama bought me.  Mom, I love you, but this dress does not love me back.  I dig more structured pieces (see the keepers below), so I hardly ever reach for a dress when I want to be comfy on the weekends because I like to sit, play with my kid, do handstands…and when I do reach for a casual dress, it’s now the J. Crew dress with a dropwaist silhouette that makes me feel less food-baby (thanks, pleats) and more FUN, baby.

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Summer Cleanout, Part 2: Fear

Yesterday I started my Closet Rehab: Summer Edition, aka I Don’t Have a Perfect Wardrobe.  I began with tops: tops that didn’t make the cut, tops that were “Stars of the Summer,” and some that weren’t absolute faves but were worn regularly and without frustration.

The description of that last category, you may have noticed, does not particularly resound with enthusiasm. They were clothes that worked, but not rocked.  And if you’re trying to get to a wardrobe of clothes you love to wear, “not frustrating” is a little underwhelming, no?

You’ve probably been there before: you’ve done a closet cleanout and been pretty ruthless in saying goodbye to clothes that weren’t making you happy…only to find yourself a week later pulling on a shirt or pants you kept but didn’t love, rationalizing that they’re practical, or too cute or original to give away, or that other people like them on you.

That was me yesterday morning, as I donned my navy and white ruffled sailor shirt, already suspicious that I might have kept it for the wrong reasons. As I thought about the number of “hearts” it got on Instagram, or the number of compliments I’d received when wearing it, or how its ruffles added visual variety to my navy-heavy wardrobe and played well with a pair of pants, a skirt, and shorts I own, I realized that I was thinking my way into keeping the shirt instead of feeling my way into keeping it.

The truth is, I like the shirt but I don’t love it.  It’s cut a little funny at the bottom and its fabric is just about starting to pill and collects little pieces of lint and detritus.  I love the ruffles, true–but they don’t really feel like “me.”  It’s like the coral top that just felt “meh,” no matter how good it seemed on paper.

This shirt was originally up on the wall to be cut, and then at the last minute I decided to give it one final run (yesterday’s wearing) to decide–because maybe I just hadn’t given something different enough of a chance?  But my initial intuition was right, and all the reasons I fought to keep it were based in fear.  You know:

Fear of what others will think: “That was so cute, why did s/he get rid of it?”

Fear of missing out: “What if this trend or new-to-me style is really great and I just haven’t given myself enough time to warm up to it?”

Fear of not having enough: “This goes with everything…if I get rid of this, I won’t have anything to wear.”

Fear of not being enough: “My style should be more girly…more professional…more edgy.  This makes me look more like who I think I should be.”

Friends, none of those fears should hold you back.  A wardrobe is, in some ways, a superficial–literally and figuratively–place to talk about liberating yourself from preconceived notions, yours or others’.  But clothing can also be a very powerful visual expression of identity, particularly for people whose style doesn’t fit within mainstream sartorial conceptions.  Whether you’re doing a closet cleanout at the end of a season or embracing your deepest inner truth via the way you dress, it can feel exhilarating to step into who you are in a tangible way.  Even if it’s just by giving up a shirt weighed down by “shoulds.”
So goodbye, sweet shirt.  It’s been fun–now go make someone else happy!



What clothing items have you held onto when you didn’t love them?  Was fear behind it, or something else?  Scroll down to join the conversation!


I Don’t Have a Perfect Wardrobe

So you may think that because I have a style blog in which I advocate for a closet full of nothin’ but clothes you love to wear that I, myself, have a closet full of nothin’ but clothes I love to wear.  You’d be logical to think so, but you’d be wrong.  Turns out, it’s more aspirational than anything.  Did I really just use aspirational in a sentence?


Sometimes I buy and wear clothes I don’t love!  A new find seems “practical,” or I’m caught up in the moment and my thrift lust distorts my style conscience, or I buy something that *should* tick all my boxes but just doesn’t work, for some reason. That’s why, as I mentioned yesterday, at the end of a particular season I like to evaluate whether something really got worn with gusto or whether it sat in the closet feeling neglected and crying “Put me in, Coach!”  (Or kept silently begging to be benched even as I continued to wear it.  Since clothes talk and all.)

I should clarify something, though.  Because I like to give these items a good solid run-through and really make sure they’re not for me before I donate them back (is that the clothes equivalent of catch-and-release?), or because it’s practical and goes with my other clothes and everything else was dirty, I could very well have worn something half a dozen times and still not love it.  So my criteria isn’t so much how often I’ve worn it, or does it go with the rest of my clothes, or *should* I keep it, but rather “How do I feel when I’ve decided I’m going to wear this for the day?  Mediocre?  Fine?  Not great?  or EXCITED?!”  In the end, the keepers are the ones that I keep trying to find excuses to wear even though they already flood my Instagram and others might be sick of seeing me in them.  Those pieces make me feel sunshiney when I put them on, and when part of your closet feels that good, you want ALL of your closet to feel that good.

With that in mind, I give you Closet Rehab, End* of Summer Edition, Part 1: Shirts.

closet Continue reading “I Don’t Have a Perfect Wardrobe”

What I Wore: What I Didn’t Wear

This week I’m cleaning out my closet based on what I’ve worn–or not–this summer. I like to edit my clothes at the end of the season so that a realistic view of my repertoire is fresh in my mind and I’m not tempted by pie-in-the-sky possibility: “Well, I didn’t wear that last year but maybe it’ll find new life this year….” Sometimes I do keep an under-used gem to give it a second chance to shine, either because my style has evolved or I’ve just gotten a little more creative. But for the most part, being honest about how often I’ve actually worn something in the very recent past is the surest path to creating a closet of clothes I love to wear.

Check back tomorrow and the rest of the week for what made the cut and what’s getting donated.  Here’s a sneak peek–you tell me if it’s a keeper or not!



Ask Me a Question!

A friend posted on my Facebook page this week asking for thrift styling advice.  She mentioned it would be great to have an “Ask Leah” feature where readers could send in queries re: thrift store strategy and thrifting dilemmas, how to style your thrift finds, how to make the most of your closet on a budget… anything to do with thrifted style!

Ask me a question! (3)


So send me an email at leah at thriftshopchic dot com and I very well may feature your question in a post.  Pictures happily accepted but not necessary.


Happy Weekend already–is it just me or has this week been a looooong one??


Buyer Beware: Wardrobe Exponents

It sounds more mathematical than straight-up chic, but in the quest for a capsule, uniform, edited, or otherwise minimalist closet, a wardrobe exponent should not be underestimated as a force that can derail your game plan faster, and more unexpectedly, than anything else.

So what exactly is a wardrobe exponent?  It’s an item of clothing that has the potential to exponentially increase the size of your wardrobe.  At first glance a wardrobe exponent appears like a wardrobe asset; on closer inspection, however, you’ll find that it necessitates acquiring at least one and usually several other items in order for it to play well with your existing wardrobe.  Think of it as the style equivalent of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

If you buy a sheer lace top, chances are you’ll want something to wear underneath it…

Continue reading “Buyer Beware: Wardrobe Exponents”

Thrift DIY: Replacing a Lost Button

On Tuesday we rehabbed the spouse’s closet.  You may remember we ended up with a few shirts that were button-deficient:

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Here are some simple, photo- or video-illustrated, button-restoring tutorials to get your beloved shirt/pant back to its well-deserved spot in your closet of things you love to wear!

How to Sew on a Button: Instructables (includes flat & shank buttons)

Two Easy Ways to Sew a Button: Wiki-how (includes 2-hole and 4-hole)

How to Sew a Button Quickly and Correctly: Art of Manliness

Video: How to Sew a Button on Dress Pants


Ta-da: slightly different thread color, but no one (but y’all) will know!
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Since the regular-sized replacement button had mysteriously disappeared, I had to use the large button from the neck for the shirt front and swap in the tiny replacement button at the neck:IMG_1878

(Yes, my spouse knows how to replace buttons, but since I was going to use this for a blog post I did it myself. :) )

Get amongst this easy fix, Thrifters, and get back to wearing your favorite clothes!



Closet Rehab: Spouse Edition

A few months ago I heard the familiar cry: “I can’t find a shirt to wear!”

It was my spouse, standing in front of his closet.

He was so frustrated by the array of holey, frumpy, button-missing, baggy, and/or too-small shirts confronting him that he couldn’t get dressed.

This is exactly what a capsule wardrobe is designed to avoid; if you have in your closet only things you love to wear, dressing is a breeze–even fun! It was time to do a very quick, low stress closet rehab and return my spouse’s closet to what it should be: a source of enjoyable sartorial inspiration.


Continue reading “Closet Rehab: Spouse Edition”

Amazon: Another Good Reason to Thrift

Did y’all see last weekend’s scathing portrait of Amazon’s workplace culture in the New York Times?  It’s a fascinating and stomach-turning read detailing crying at one’s desk as a regular occurrence, marathon conference calls on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving Day, confidential hotlines where you can “evaluate” your coworkers without them ever getting to face their accuser, and being put on “performance review” status immediately after returning from maternity leave or cancer treatment.  Basically it’s a no-holds-barred approach to creating and implementing profitable ideas–extreme capitalism with nary a nod to the well-being of one’s workforce.

In the work-life balance conversation, I lean decidedly towards a “work to live,” not “live to work,” approach.  Reading this article made me really uncomfortable about continuing to patronize Amazon–the convenience and competitive pricing are seductive, for sure, but once you have a mental picture of a woman spending her entire vacation at a Starbucks answering work emails or a dad being told to spend even less time with his kids or coworkers conspiring to throw each other under the bus lest they themselves be culled, it’s hard to get it out of your head.  I’d rather pay more or wait longer for my goods than support that kind of workplace culture.

How does this relate to thrifting?  If you are in the habit of shopping for clothing through Amazon, this article will make you think twice–and hopefully thrice–about continuing to do so.  As an alternative, look into your local thrift store’s work climate.  You can tell a lot, although not all, by just shopping there and paying attention to how employees are treated by supervisors.  Ask for an appointment with the manager or research the store online.  See how well it aligns with your values* and shop accordingly.


What are your thoughts, Thrifters?  And please point us in the direction of decent alternatives to Amazon!  To get the ball rolling: Netflix’s recent decision to provide unlimited paid parental leave over the course of a year to either mothers or fathers.  It does not cover non-salaried employees, but it’s a start. (FYI: we do not pay for or use a Netflix account.)


*I’m planning to look into Goodwill of North Georgia’s labor practices, since Goodwills often pay disabled workers less through the Federal Labor Standards Act–controversial legislation dating from the 1930s that allows businesses to pay disabled adults, who might otherwise not have the opportunity for paid work, under minimum wage.