Real French Woman Style: A Case Study

Much has been made of the inimitable French woman’s style and how chic, understated, classic, minimalist, etc. her wardrobe is.  Black features prominently in this depiction, as do basics.  You can Google myriad examples where this is the case, but from the time I’ve spent living in and visiting France (particularly not-Paris), this depiction is a pretty narrow take on “French” style.

Case in point:

The other evening my family attended a community holiday party where a French woman I’d met at the same party the year before was attending with her family.  The husband and their 4 sons wore homemade bowties while their tiny daughter was dressed exactly like Princess Charlotte but with bolder color.  Their children’s given names are gilded with old-fashioned patina – think Bénédicte, Marisol, and Thibault (not their real names, but a good idea of them). In short, they are charming and full of personality.

And the mother of this family?  She was dressed nothing at all like the “typical” French woman:

french-chic

(Items recreated below so you can get a better gander)

Let’s start with her top.  Okay, yes, a black base layer, but one that served as a neutral canvas to showcase her other two layers: a dark teal paisley blouse, peasant-ish, topped by a (faux?) fur vest and a multicolored scarf featuring blue, aquamarine, and copper threads.

On the bottom: bootcut jeans which aren’t particularly trendy at the moment (although wider flares are), and Timberland boots with wedges.  Timberland wedges, I tell you!  To top it all off, she had accessorized with a pair of big metallic drop earrings.

Her look was mostly boho, but those Timberland wedges said “street.”  Her look communicated both her unique taste and her complete confidence in wearing things others would never have put together.

(Her hair and makeup, I admit, did look typically “French” – nothing much besides black eyeliner and mascara, plus sideswept gamine bangs in front, with the rest of her hair clipped back in a way that looked like it had taken 2 seconds but was nonetheless full of unstudied elegance.  Am I waxing overly poetic?)

Since the photo is partial, I did some googling to bring you similar (and in the case of the boots and earrings exact) pieces so you can marinate on this combination yourself:

il_570xn-1095070998_1ym8
source

img-thing
source

scarf-2

source

2358745_fpx
source

50389959
Source

 

Honestly, her funky mashup looked more “French,” according to French women I’ve known, than most things I’ve seen in the pages of Vogue.

To wit – here are style snapshots of several French women I know well:

One has a daughter living in America and has a soft spot for her Ralph Lauren navy sweater with the American flag on it. But when a wedding is on the calendar, it’s fascinators and textured silk suits all the way.

Another is an ashram-frequenting, reincarnation-believing goat farmer, and she dresses the part: work pants and boots below, Indian-inspired prints and colors on top.

Another is basically Catherine Deneuve – same age, same coqeuttish preference for dramatic makeup and feminine dresses with flair.

Another lives in Paris but has a villa outside Toulouse and, when there, stuns in a simple caramel-colored sleeveless dress and subtle gold jewelry. (She was the inspiration for the dress in this post.)

Another few dye their hair with henna and don’t appear to pay any special attention to style.

Admittedly I have often felt uncool next to my French counterparts, but I think it has had less to do with their wearing black and moto jackets than it did with a certain confiance en soi that made them seem self-assured.  Thrifting and writing this blog have helped me hone my style to the point where I feel this confidence in my own dressing – although I’m sure I would still see a difference between an American aesthetic vs. a European one.  Something I need to spend more time on to fully articulate, but generally having to do with cleaner lines, a little more quirk, good tailoring, etc.

 

What do you think of our case study’s look?  And what’s your take on the much-touted “French woman style”?  Geographically speaking, where have you been particularly impressed by people’s style, whether it matched the stereotype or not?  Scroll down to comment!

 

My Current Winter Wardrobe

I started out my winter wardrobe with a color palette of navy, cream, grey, and touches of gold and blush pink.  3 months in, I’ve added some more color (thank goodness!), my pants have multiplied like rabbits, and I’ve axed the blush pink and some pieces I wasn’t wearing.  Let’s take a look!

Tops

Still on the team:
img_4228 IMG_2788 IMG_4160 img_4234 IMG_2782 WP_20160826_15_14_58_Pro img_4236
From top left: Merona, Ambiance, Japna, Coldwater Creek, Piazza Sempione, Meadow Rue, Pull & Bear

The standouts in this category have been the velvet floral (above) and the leopard print (below).  No surprise there, I can’t say no to delicious patterns and textures.

Although I had previously proclaimed that this would be the Year of the Turtleneck, I’ve only strated wearing them recently as layers for the cold because I’ve had such fun with my sweaters.  I also haven’t worn the blue/taupe plaid at all, except for our trip to Michigan, but I still love the pattern.  I wore it every weekend last winter so it may just need a rest.

For the sake of transparency, I gave the exact Swiss dot tunic pictured above (first pic) to a friend because it was just too small, and thrifted the same thing in a shirt version, one size up.

Note to self: wear the Pull & Bear chain top more or out it goes!

New Recruits:
wp_20161102_16_52_10_pro
I’ve behaved myself fairly well in this category – just one addition, this leopard print shirt by Banana Republic, which I LOVE. Pats self on back. Expect to see this well into spring/summer.

Axed:
img_4255 IMG_3753
The left top, by Banana Repbulic, was too structured and scratchy.  You can read about axing the Madewell shirt here.

Relegated to workout/loungewear
IMG_2824
This Faded Glory turltneck is a great color but, true to its name, its glory has faded a little too much.  It had a couple holes and I like my turtleneck sweater, below, better.

 

Sweaters

Still on the team:
IMG_3668 IMG_3677 img_4241 IMG_3673 img_4240wp_20160505_15_06_57_pro img_4254
From top left: Gap, Liz Claiborne, Liz Claiborne, Mossimo, Loft, French Connection, Express

The stars here have been the new-with-tags navy turtleneck sweater (so delicious and so chic) and the gold-trimmed cream v-neck (my holiday go-to).

I love the two-tone oversized sweater but I don’t love the oversize-over-flares look that I get when I pair it with my new jeans. I think I’ll slim those down (see below).

The athleisure Mossimo sweatshirt I thought about scrapping has earned its place as my weekend staple, just not for work. And I’ve recommitted to the robin’s egg blue zipper detail sweater (last pic) since recently discovering it’s great on its own (not with a layer underneath).

I haven’t worn my snow leopard (a favorite last year) or the cowl neck much (at all?) even though I still like both of them, in theory.  Is this a sign that I have…gasp…too many sweaters?!  I may tuck them away for next year and see if they feel fresh in 10-12 months.

 

New recruits:
wp_20161102_16_55_01_pro img_4497 wp_20161205_14_35_29_pro-1
J. Crew, Joan Vass, Gap Designed & Thrifted

Read all about the first two here and here.  The third is VERY soft, short sleeved, and has a split hem, all of which I like.  But it also makes me feel like a millenial style blogger who wears nothing but expensive, organic neutrals.  Since I have so many sweaters, I’m waiting to see if I wear it enough to justify keeping it.

Axed:
IMG_3680
Forever 21

SO soft, but just too washed out for my newly warmed up, colorful wardrobe.  Kinda sad about it, but someone else will love it.

 

Toppers

Still on the team:
IMG_4153 img_4229 img_4259
Old Navy, Loft, Haberdashery Collection by Personal

I have worn the heck out of the first two.  The third I put through the washing machine and still haven’t ironed. :/  I’m feeling lazy/guilty about that since I probably should have just combed/brushed it…but it collects hair and fluff really easily and I’d love a navy velvet blazer in its place, so maybe I’ll just donate it.

Made a comeback:
wp_20170103_13_55_02_pro

This merino cardigan by Talbots was sitting out this season until I suddenly had an urge to pair it with my Swiss dot button down.

New recruits:
wp_20161027_15_25_29_pro wp_20161021_14_49_29_pro wp_20161205_14_31_59_pro wp_20170107_14_04_40_pro-1 
Merona, Isaac Mizrahi Live!, Kate Hill, Old Navy

I LOVE the plaid – so funky, unexpectedly goes with a lot of my wardrobe – and the red – it’s a wool/cashmere blend and is so soft and the cut is <insert A-okay or 100 emoji here>.  The snakeskin… well, I still feel kind of tacky wearing it.  But it’s almost sweatshirt-like and goes with a lot of what I have, so I’m committed to wearing it more to see if I can learn to love it.

Post to come on the vest!

Axed:
img_4261
Merona
You can read about our breakup here.

Relegated to spring wardrobe (for the most part):
img_4262
Cartonnier
I LOVE this blazer; the colors just go better with my spring/summer wardrobe.  But it’ll probably make an occasional cameo, thusly.

 

Pants
Remember my core silhouette (skim over slim) vs. my fringe silhouette (fitted over flare) – core being what I mostly wear, fringe being my alternate? (More about core vs. fringe here.)  I’ve divided my pants up accordingly.

Still on the team – slim:
img_4472 img_4470 img_4266
Banana Republic, Lauren Ralph Lauren Jeans, Chico’s

Love these, going strong.  Got the waist on the cream pants taken in a bit so I didn’t have to hike them up all the time.  And I wear the Chico’s skinnies (with an elastic waistband!) pretty exclusively on the weekends since they read so casual.

New recruits – slim:
wp_20161021_14_31_40_pro  img_4504 wp_20161020_14_04_27_pro
Jessica Simpson, Style & Co., Gap

Love the first two; love the third but they’re pretty darn lowrise.  Looking for a thrift upgrade so I don’t have to worry about exposing my backside to the world.

New recruits – flare:
wp_20161222_16_45_47_prowp_20161028_17_37_51_pro
I’m keeping the caramel velveteen as they are since I’ll wear them mostly with slimmer tops, but I’ve taken the jeans to the tailor to have the legs tapered.  (I know, I know, y’all encouraged me not to, but I have passed over them too many times for having not as formal/chic a silhouette as I wanted.  These babies deserve to be worn!)

Relegated to spring/summer (left) or to storage ’til I love them again (right):
IMG_4157 IMG_1765
Uniqlo, Old Navy

 

Dresses 

Still on the team:
IMG_2760 wp_20160307_17_09_29_pro IMG_2750 IMG_3172 IMG_3186
Merona, Land’s End, Merona, Jacqueline Ferrar, George

I haven’t worn my off-white sheath or my leopard much.  In fact, haven’t worn many dresses at ALL because I am so enjoying my new pants.  A happy problem to have.

Two new recruits meant for summer but which, when layered, also play well with winter:

wp_20161205_14_27_15_pro img_4799
Talbots, Jones New York

You can read about my red & caramel love affair here (same as links above).

 

Coat stayed the same – although it doesn’t look quite this fresh and is in need of some de-pilling:
IMG_2748
J. Crew

I did add some cold weather accessories:

6tag_241216-123751No label

 

There it is!

Looking over everything: wow, I like blue.

Overall, I am happy to claim victory over the winter wardrobe revamp pickle in which I found myself 8 months ago.  To wit: I have found a core winter silhouette I love – slim pants with skimming sweater on top; and some great fringe options – dress over leggings, turtleneck with big thick cardigan.  I thrill to get dressed in the morning instead of floundering around with too many disparate pieces and incohesive outlines.  Yippee!

Also, I have PLENTY of things for the rest of our (very short) winter.   Not counting gloves/hat, pieces I’ve barely worn but haven’t put away, and pieces that are primarily for warm weather, I have about 35 solidly “winter” pieces.  Even though that’s right in line with a lot of minimalist wardrobe recommendations (e.g. Project 333), it feels kind of overwhelming to look at them all laid out like this.

I’m no longer trying to create a silhouette I love or fill holes, so I expect to keep this wardrobe relatively static through the end of this winter, when I’ll refine things a bit and donate some pieces I’m not excited about keeping around for next year.  I pledge to be satisfied with what I have, but not so stingy that something delicious won’t sneak its way in…

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Congrats if you made it to the end of this post; I hope it was informative, or at least entertaining!  What are your winter wardrobes looking like these days?  Scroll down to comment.

 

What I Wore & How I Styled It: Steve Urkel Chic

Last week, without realizing it, I dressed like a great style icon of the 90s – Steve Urkel:

urkel-dance

I subbed a belt for suspenders, but otherwise I had his look down: coordinating cardigan, high-waisted pants, high hems on those pants, and ankle socks:

wp_20170103_14_59_33_pro

Swiss dot cotton button down by Merona – thrifted
Wine corduroy pants by Style & Co. – thrifted

Merino wool cardigan by Talbots – thrifted
Leopard print hair belt by J. Crew – thrifted
Socks by Target – retail
Shoes by Clarks – retail

How’d I get to this fabulous combination?

First up: base pieces.  I started off wanting some warm hues after a week in my travel wardrobe‘s polar palette, so I paired this button down with these pants:

wp_20170103_13_56_35_pro

The current iteration of this shirt, you may have noticed, is a true button down instead of the former popover tunic. I swapped the tunic version (too narrow in the chest/hips) for this same brand/print in a slightly larger size.  Yes, I cried a little to lose the popover cut and length, but I wanted to wear this great textured pattern more often than the constant tug-and-reposition act was inspiring me to do.  Comfort over style, people – or rather, style informed by comfort.

Next: a topper. My workplace is chilly in some spots but the temp outside was supposed to hit 66 F – hey Hotlanta, I love you so much this time of year! – so I decided to add a thin cardigan I could layer/unlayer with ease.  I went back and forth between the one on the left (from my spring wardrobe), which would have made for an interesting contrast in hem lengths, and the one on the right, which brought some extra punch in the pattern department:

IMG_3466 wp_20170103_15_13_00_pro
Hmm, the outfit on the left is basically this same outfit, translated for warmer weather.

Surprise surprise – I just couldn’t resist the contrast of two great patterns (one subtle) in related colors and chose the cable pattern one.

I buttoned the top several buttons because, left to its own devices, the top button flops around and doesn’t stay put, but I left the bottom several unbuttoned because I wanted the contrast in patterns to show through:

wp_20170103_13_55_39_pro

Since the hem on this shirt isn’t as long as it used to be, I next had to decide whether to tuck or untuck.  The relatively similar length of the button down and the cardigan answered that for me – I’d much rather have a visual contrast between hem lengths than have them line up in a way that cuts me off:

wp_20170103_13_52_32_pro

Well, then, of course the high waist drew attention to itself and looked funny with no belt.  Out came my trusty leopard belt – a print that functions like a neutral:

wp_20170103_13_49_37_pro

A little less of a closeup:

wp_20170103_13_55_02_pro

Last but not least, metallic bronze flats that would pick up the warm browns in the belt and the shiny gold of the cardigan buttons; and striped socks with all the constituent colors represented (a feat that makes me ridiculously happy):

wp_20170103_13_50_38_pro
That’s a lot of sock showing.

 

So what do y’all think of my high-tide, pattern-mixing homage to Urkel – is it “No sweat, my pet”?  Or more along the lines of “Got any cheeeeeeese”?

wp_20170103_14_58_00_pro

Scroll down to comment!

 

Friday ReBlog: A Year with No Shopping

Janice over at The Vivienne Files is doing another year-long shopping ban.

Her previous year-long ban covered buying nothing new – secondhand allowed – while this time around it’s buying nothing at all except running shoes, using up gift cards, and clothes necessary for any unexpected ultra-formal events. (PS: the comments on that first post are great inspiration for thrifters, while the comments on the second are chock full of solidarity for anyone else who wants to drop shopping for a year.)

Her motivation?  Too many great clothes she already loves – no need for more!

Her approach to getting the most out of what she already owns?  Identifying each month’s “building blocks” – basics she can wear all month long – and then “targeting” certain supplemental pieces to show them some extra love during that same month.

Check out her post, then let me know what you think.  Anyone up for a year of no shopping? (If so, this post might give you some further inspiration.)

 

Happy weekend, Thrifters!

 

Red & Caramel

If you follow me on Instagram – and you should! lots of outfits of the day and delicious thrift finds – you’ll know I’ve gone a little overboard with the red and caramel lately.  (“Caramel” is the name I’ve made up to describe a sort of richer camel.  It’s kind of a honey brown take on tan, if that makes sense – like when caramel has been toasted.)

It started off with these ensembles on the Vivienne Files – particularly the purple sweater/camel pants on the right:

a-pinch-of-plum-with-six-neutral-outfits-4

Source

I LOVED this combination, which surprised me because I had tried several iterations of khaki/tan/light brown pants before and always felt washed out and vaguely 1990s PTA mom in them (mad respect to moms who were on PTA in the 1990s – just lots of beige pants and solid color tops, you remember?).  I thought I was doomed to never wear khaki/tan/beige-ish pants, but then I saw these babies in a more…toasted? take on the color.  Warmer, richer, closer to picking up my hair color than washing out my skin tone.

I didn’t have any purple in my wardrobe so I didn’t feel compelled to recreate the exact look from the Vivienne Files, but a seed was planted.  I started looking for tan/beige-ish pants again – hopeful, though never quite finding the right shade.  Then it occurred to me that I had too many winter pants anyway, and why couldn’t I pick up this color in a top instead?

This first attempt was beautiful in color and in form, but too tight for anything but layering:

wp_20160912_12_59_46_proNo room for lunch!

It was exciting, though, to find the color on the rack and realize I loved it just as much in person as in theory.  It was not too brown (been there, done that); the warm honey tone picked up my hair and made my face pop.

I bided (bid? bode?) my time, and eventually found this merino J. Crew number in November:

wp_20161102_16_55_01_pro

You may recognize it from these previously alluded to Instagram outfits:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

From that initial success, I went a little crazy.  I picked up a skirt (even though I never wear skirts in winter and stick with just one or two in summer…we’ll see how that goes!), a shirt dress, and then pants:

wp_20161027_15_57_29_pro
Skirt by Merona

img_4799

Safari shirt dress by Jones New York

wp_20161222_16_45_47_pro
Velveteen bootcut pants by !iT Jeans

The pants are SO soft, but also appear to be a little on the cheap side, so consider ’em candidates for a thrift upgrade if they don’t hold up.

Also this same color is in the details of this fuzzy polar bear of a sweater paired with the above dress a few weeks back, and indeed, the pants and sweater paired together nicely in my recent cold weather travel wardrobe:

img_4229

BAM.  Instant outfit making.

 

I think I was craving some visual warmth in the increasingly short, dark days of winter.  A similar longing for festivity amidst the holidays would also explain the recent uptick in red in my wardrobe:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


This blazer might have been paired with my evergreen corduroy pants on Christmas Eve…

Isn’t that just the RIGHT shade of red?  Not too cherry or too burgundy, plays great with cream, grey, and of course, caramel. I’ve even gone back to daydreaming about red ankle boots, but since my true love in that category retails for $100+ and Santa has already come and gone, I think I’m going to keep an eye out for something similar in the thrift store.

I’m feeling good about all the ways to combine these colors with the rest of the staples in my winter wardrobe (navy, cream, grey) and love that they, along with these and these, have brought more color to what was a fairly polar palette.

 

What do you think of these colors – and what would you call the hue I’ve named “caramel”?  Scroll down to comment!

 

November / December Thrift Finds

I thrifted steadily through November and all the way up through the end of December; in the course of assembling this post I realized these were two fruitful months!  While several pieces that came home with me were for warm weather, all the winter goodies in this haul required some trimming of my cold weather wardrobe (the updated version of which will soon appear on this very blog).

 

First up, the rejects.

It was really hard to say no to this Loft brocade sweatshirt top:

wp_20161102_16_50_09_pro

Because multiple textures!  And neutral/gold!  And a split hem!  But the brocade material made the front super stiff and prone to awkward pointy parts:

wp_20161102_16_50_01_pro-1

 

Gorgeous green silk shirt with cranes and hexagons on it – too big, wanh wannnnnh:

wp_20161102_16_59_19_pro

 

Loved the tunic length on this top by Zara woman, but it was pretty baggy in the arms and the print was too busy for me:

wp_20161205_14_23_45_pro

wp_20161205_14_24_13_pro

 

This Lucky Brand sweater was basically a rag rug in cardigan form – I wanted to love it so hard because who wears rag rugs?  And my great grandma made rag rugs we still have.  It would have been so funky, and it has such great colors, but the drape was just too tent-like.  I think it would be great for someone with a more earth-mama style:

wp_20161215_20_52_42_pro wp_20161215_20_49_00_pro

 

Linen top by Old Navy – too wrinkly, and too big in the armpits:

wp_20161214_13_56_28_pro

Pro tip: how the item appears on the hanger in the thrift store (super wrinkled, misshapen) is a good indicator of how well it will hold up at home.

 

Mustard blazer by J. Crew – I wanted more of a lemon yellow and the cut was too bulky in the chest, plus the sleeves were reallllly long:

wp_20161214_13_54_01_pro

 

Great texture and cream/grey color on this cardigan by Madison Studio, but again, too wide for me:

wp_20161215_20_59_09_pro

Closeup on the texture:

wp_20161215_20_59_15_pro

 

 

And now, the keepers:

Leopard print shirt by Banana Republic:

wp_20161102_16_52_10_pro

More about my quest for leopard here.

 

Red dress by Talbots – great for summer and also for layering in winter:

wp_20161205_14_27_15_pro

 

Wool/cashmere blend red blazer by Kate Hill:

wp_20161214_13_52_32_pro wp_20161205_14_31_59_pro

 

Caramel velveteen bootcut pants by !iT Jeans:

wp_20161222_16_45_47_pro

 

Caramel crew neck sweater by J. Crew:

wp_20161102_16_55_01_pro

 

Caramel shirt by Jones New York – more here:

wp_20161215_20_54_59_pro wp_20161215_20_54_54_pro

(More on my red/caramel obsession on Thursday.)

 

Cream heathered sweater by Gap Designed & Crafted:

wp_20161205_14_35_29_pro-1

Split hem on this baby (also a little pilling I need to take care of):

wp_20161212_17_03_44_pro

 

Cold weather accessories:

6tag_241216-123751

 

Jones New York black party dress & Chico’s two-tone blazer – more here:

img_4772

 

 

Neutral mod dress – more here:

img_4702

 

White skirt by Ann Taylor:

wp_20161102_17_02_08_pro wp_20161102_17_02_18_pro

With pockets!

wp_20161102_17_02_24_pro

 

Pink/blue popover by Dalton:

wp_20161102_17_00_51_pro

I’m thinking this is pretty tribal-inspired and might have to get re-donated – what do y’all think?

wp_20161102_17_00_26_pro

 

Navy floral blouse by Loft:

wp_20161205_14_22_13_pro

I love the colors and can’t WAIT to wear this in spring, as I’ve been keeping an eye out for something with a bold floral print:

wp_20161205_14_22_00_pro

 

Bamboo tech shirt by Tasc Performance to replace an old one I’ve had since high school:

wp_20161205_14_24_53_pro

With thumb holes:

wp_20161205_14_25_07_pro

 

 

What thrift finds have you scored lately?  Scroll down to share in the comments!

 

Travel Wardrobe: Cold Weather in a Carry On

No Friday ReBlog today because I haven’t been reading enough (any?) blogs over the holidays to find good stuff for ya.  It’ll be back next week; in the meantime, send me your favorite thrift- or style-related blog posts at leah AT thriftshopchic DOT com or leave ’em in the comments.

We went to the Great White(ish) North for a week over the Christmas holiday and I had to figure out how to pack for cold weather in a carry on. The limited parameters on my wardrobe were not as dramatic as this trip when I packed my stuff and my kid’s into a tote bag (which I promptly forgot), but I did need to think practically about how everything would go together since warm clothes take up more space and thus afford fewer slots to play with.  Everything is thrifted unless otherwise noted.

Using the template from the How to Pack a Travel Wardrobe post, I’m factoring in:
-length of trip (6 days);
-weather/activities at destination (cold; family time + church + exercise); and
-laundry facilities (check!)

Knowing it would be cold, I started off with this wool/cashmere/angora sweater from the Loft, which is as cozy a garment as you’d hope to find:

img_4229

Then I picked out tops to go underneath:

img_4234 IMG_2782 img_4240 wp_20161102_16_55_01_pro

4 tops, with plans to either rewear or wash depending on how many living room dance parties were to be held.  L to R: Coldwater Creek, Piazza Sempione, Loft, J. Crew

I also tucked in a sleeveless undershirt in case it got REALLY cold – didn’t need it but was glad it was there.  And I wore leggings (see below) under my pants when were going to be outside for a significant amount of time.

Then pants that picked up the colors in the sweater and would serve as great neutral bases:

img_4472 wp_20161222_16_45_47_pro

L to R: Banana Republic, IT! Jeans

I wasn’t keen on the grey at first, since I had a grey turtleneck; doing too much grey because it’s just depressing when it’s dark and cold. But the corduroy on the dark grey ones is almost like velvet, making them so chic I knew they would dress up my otherwise comfy outfits.   I thought about bringing my navy cords, too, but since I couldn’t justify 3 pairs of pants (no room!), I decided to keep the grey and just not wear it with the grey top.  (Look for a post next week introducing the caramel velveteen pants.)

Jewelry:
Same ol’ earrings every day, plus one pendant necklace, the cream and dark taupe of which would jive nicely with my sweater:

wp_20161226_11_01_23_pro

Necklace DIYed from Goodwill parts.

Shoes:
I went for one these two, to cover church (bronze flats by Clarks – retail) and everything else (navy Pumas):

img_4801wp_20161027_16_08_08_pro

Plus sneakers for running (retail).

 

Workout clothes:
Luckily my sister-in-law is pretty devoted to her running schedule so I knew I’d get a chance to run with her – motivation!

I packed a silk undershirt to layer and keep me warm:

WP_20160826_15_20_36_Pro

And a bamboo tech shirt to layer on top:

wp_20161205_14_24_53_pro

It wasn’t cold enough to need more than that – I just had to run about 5 minutes to warm myself up and the silk kept me nice and snuggly.

I also brought bulky but oh-so-worth-it track pants from highschool to keep my legs warm while running.

I brought two pairs of leggings, one for sleeping and one for layering under the track pants, both American Apparel (retail).  Here was my shirt to sleep in (and to wear one day before I slept in it):

IMG_2824

Faded Glory.

Sadly, I discovered ANOTHER hole in it, so it’s hereby consigned to winter sleepwear with no daytime cameos:

wp_20161226_11_04_17_pro

 

Outerwear
I wore my trusty red wool peacoat on the plane (well, used it as a blanket) and packed my freshly thrifted winter accessories in the outer pocket of my carry on so I could get them out first thing after landing:

IMG_2747

J. Crew

6tag_241216-123751

No tags.

Here are my outfits.  There’s not a lot of variety, but I liked the formula.  Furthermore, I had no one to impress and just wanted to look put together and feel WARM.  Mission accomplished:

wp_20161222_12_21_55_pro
(worn twice)

wp_20161226_11_02_50_pro

wp_20161227_16_19_43_pro

wp_20161226_11_00_48_pro

 

wp_20161229_15_31_51_pro

(worn twice – except for the bowling shoes, those were just worn once)

 

What are your strategies for packing sufficient cold weather clothes into a small space?  Do you ever just pick one simple outfit formula and wear variations of it to keep packing super simple?  Scroll down to comment, and Happy New Year!

 

 

My Fantasy Style

And now, a little bit of sparkle leading up to New Year’s Eve…

If I could dress however I wanted, with no limitations due to boring things like jobs, budget, or practicality, I would dress like Luke Spiller, lead singer of The Struts, on stage:

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

Essentially: lots of gold, lots of sequins, glitter makeup, metallic pleats, and lots of leather.

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

Please dress me, too, Zandra Rhodes. (She dressed Freddie Mercury and Brian May and her clothing for Luke is discussed in this T Style magazine interview with the singer.)

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

We are thrifting kindred spirits: “The Struts are regulars at Los Angeles thrift stores when they’re not on tour, where Spiller has developed an eye for picking out the kind of special pieces — like an all-in-one white kimono from Max Mara — that have become his calling card onstage.”

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

A photo posted by lukestruts (@lukestruts) on

 

This style affinity is how I end up with things like this in my closet:

wp_20160805_14_47_38_pro

And this:

img_4236

And regrets about passing up things like this:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


The last of which I would rarely (ever?) wear IRL.

I think it’s healthy, though, to keep a little glam in your life, even if just in your imagination… what’s your fantasy style?  Scroll down to comment!

 

What I Wore: Thrifting an Outfit for a Party with a Dress Code / New Years Eve

This post is about an outfit I thrifted for a birthday party with a dress code, but could easily work for a New Year’s Eve bash or other one-off fancy holiday party.  

My fabulous friend Sheena had her birthday party a few Saturdays ago (Sagittarians in the house!) and the dress code was “all black.”

If you have been reading for any length of time you will know that I decided awhile back that black washes me out and that therefore I have almost no black in my wardrobe. The few items I can think of that involve black use it as a pattern on top of some other non-black base color:

IMG_4153img_4229IMG_3186

Plus a pair of black leggings that I use for running.

Everything else you see in my closet that might look like black is, in fact, dark grey or navy.

Sheena knows this and knows that I am thrifty and didn’t want me to have to buy a completely new outfit, so she graciously offered to let me go with navy. But what is thrifting for if not being able to rise to the occasion/dress code on short notice and small budget? Challenge accepted.

Our staff holiday party was Friday and everyone went home early afterwards, so after doing some necessary chores I was off to the Goodwill to see if I could put together an ensemble tout noir. My strategy was to start with the black leggings I already own, add a black dress (quite abundant in the thrift store) and finish off with a topper to keep me warm. I had previously donated my black flats that I wore very infrequently, so I got permission from the birthday woman to wear my cream and dark grey snakeskin print ankle boots. They’d add some nice contrast but easily crop out of a photo.

Tip: When thrifting a dress for something one-off, first figure out your parameters – color? hem length? sleeve length? fabric? – and sift through the options on that basis.

For the dress, I was pretty sure I wanted to go with long sleeved (for warmth) and just-above-the-knee, so I skimmed over the black dress section starting at the bottom and looking for shorter hems.  When I found a hem I liked, I pulled it out by the fabric (not the hanger) to 1) get a feel for the fabric quality and 2) see the sleeve length.  It turned out there were not a lot of long-sleeved dresses and I didn’t like any of them, so I switched to short sleeved/sleeveless and figured I’d just keep my topper on.

Look at all these options!  The black section is definitely the largest part of the dress rack.  L to R: Loft, Zara Basic, Calvin Klein, H&M, Liz Sport, BCBG Max Azria, H&M, detail of back, H&M.

wp_20161215_20_38_52_pro wp_20161215_20_38_37_pro wp_20161215_20_38_25_pro wp_20161215_20_39_29_pro wp_20161215_20_39_15_pro wp_20161215_20_41_41_pro wp_20161215_20_40_13_pro wp_20161215_20_40_24_pro wp_20161215_20_39_50_pro

If I had been thrifting something I’d also keep to wear to work, I would’ve gone with the last one – it’s my favorite silhouette (sheath) with pockets and an interesting neck detail:

wp_20161215_20_39_57_pro

 

But since this was a party, and I don’t wear black on the regular, I went for something more fun!

img_4779

It’s a sleeveless v-neck high quality polyester dress with a flare skirt that felt very festive to me.  As I was walking past the blazer rack a new-with-tags Chico’s blazer with sleek lines and contrast collar/side panels jumped out at me, and I realized pairing it with the dress would bring a modern touch to the more 90s ice skater feel of the dress.

 

See the incredible contrast details on this blazer?

img_4775 img_4774

The final outfit:

img_4772

Dress: Jones New York, thrifted new with tags, retailed for $100
Blazer: Chico’s, thrifted, new with tags
Leggings: American Apparel, retail (made in USA)
Ankle boots: Lucky Brand, gift from my sister
Necklace: DIY from thrifted parts

 

I LOVE the jacket.  It is so damn modern and clean-lined, and it fits like a glove.  Chico’s, I have wanted to be old enough to buy your stuff since I was 12, and you have proven my preteen longing right (again).  I wish, a little bit, that this blazer were navy and…whatever the charcoal equivalent of navy is.  Textured navy?  Heathered navy?  But since this baby is in perfect condition and so sleek, I’ll quit complaining and start thinking of ways to style this wardrobe outlier.  Thoughts?

And the dress – I love the neckline and how gorgeous it feels (high-end polyester for the win!).  The cut of the skirt is not super-current BUT feels very party-ish, and I think it would be perfect for an evening wedding or a super fancy cocktail party.   Except I never get invited or go to such things.  That being the case, I feel like this BRAND NEW WITH TAGS, $100 dress should go to someone who will glory in it, especially since thrift stores are the best place to find swanky duds that fit your unique style and not just whatever silhouette the retail world has dictated must be sold.  So I will likely donate it – after the holidays, in case I get invited, unexpectedly, to some fancy New Year’s Eve bash (and assuming we can find a babysitter).

For $13 I had a great outfit that fit the party parameters and which will not kill my bank balance even if I never wear it again.  Win!

 

And now for the fun, with the lovely Sheena in all her birthday glory!  We celebrated at an upscale bowling spot, hence the ugly-chic velcro shoes:

15390727_10101471749678667_6888415096578964126_n
Please to note Sheena’s fabulous sparkle top and hoop earrings.  Not thrifted, but still.

In some photos (like the above) my sleeves have un-scrunched themselves, but for most of the evening I styled it with sleeves scrunched up, which made it feel more current:

15380355_10101471751654707_2512749747961985853_n
In the background, Sheena’s delicious cream-black handbag in the back (also not thrifted, but still) and a bottle of birthday champagne.

A little later, a little sweatier, and with my offending charcoal grey jacket (because it was ALL BLACK, Leah, DUH) gone:

15338704_10101471776150617_6476716348129190180_n

PS I am a bowling fox:

v__e1231-1

 

Have I convinced you that thrift stores are the perfect spot to pick up a one-off outfit?  (Or am I preaching to the choir?)  What do you think of my finds?  What have you, dear readers, thrifted in one-off fashion?  Scroll down to share!

 

Friday ReBlog: No Sew DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Arm Warmers

Yes this is a day early.  If you get inspired by these awesome arm warmers, I want you to be able to go get supplies TODAY and make them TOMORROW in time for any last-minute Christmas shenanigans.  Or, you know, they’d make a nice DIY Saturday AM to cozy up your arms for Christmas Eve.  Your call.

My friend Tracy is an avid thrifter (surprised?) but also much more of a DIY badass than I am.  We went to a holiday party at the house of a mutual friend last weekend and instead of merely thrifting an ugly Christmas sweater to wear (or completely missing that part of the invitation and showing up in regular clothes…whoops, that was me), she thrifted two ugly Christmas sweaters and MADE ARM WARMERS OUT OF THEM.  WITH SAFETY PINS.

It’s like an ugly Christmas sweater had little arm-warming babies with a punk rocker.  Check this out:  v__d4d6

She basically measured the width of her forearm, doubled it, and cut a piece that size from the parts of each sweater she liked.  Then she cut thumb holes (the best) and instead of sewing, she thought “Why not use this pile of safety pins I have lying around?”  Why not, indeed.

v__0a70

If you were looking to make them last awhile, you could sew instead of pinning and reinforce the thumb holes with hand stitching.  BAM.

v__a043

If you and yours are looking for an easy, thriftable, warm, no-sew, and (most importantly) rad Christmas project, get amongst it.  Thanks, Tracy, for sharing!

What are your favorite holiday-related things to thrift?  Scroll down to comment!