Embracing Color and Saying No to Neutrals on Instagram (aka Swimming Upstream)

I mentioned a few months back that part of what I was looking forward to about my new Light Summer color palette was embracing color again:

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!!

If you scroll through my Instagram feed (on the righthand sidebar, or at www.instagram.com/thriftshopchic), you’ll see I’ve run straight into the arms of the Light Summer color wheel and have barely looked back. Although I wisely followed advice posted early into this journey and got myself some neutrals to pair with my newly found multi-hued treasures, those neutrals have been mostly white and denim/chambray. When I’ve tried to jive with the minimalist-inspired style Instagrammers, the pieces just haven’t worked out. (See the first two rejects in this post.) They feel too…muted for me now.

But I realized a few weeks back that my Instagram feed wasn’t reflecting my rediscovered enthusiasm for color. I was still following cool girls with a heavily edited, highly stylized neutral aesthetic – partially because neutrals tend to make great capsule wardrobes, and partly because the ethical brands I want to, at least in theory, support seem to be allergic to color. (What’s the deal, Eileen Fisher & friends? Give us some rainbows already!)

I will always love the sight of a chic, slimmed-down wardrobe (like this one who is starting to introduce some color to her closet or this one, who isn’t and that’s fine). It makes me unaccountably happy to gaze at a thoughtful, selective wardrobe where you can see all the pieces and dream of future outfit combos – I guess because it exudes contentment: “This is more than enough and I’m happy with it.” Wardrobe goals, as the kids say.

And people who love color? Well, on Instagram at least, they tend to be maximalist rather than minimalist. A few folks I’ve followed recently have a great time with color but do so through repeated trips to outlets and/or internet sales. Splurging on retail ain’t really my thing – and honestly, giant thrift hauls aren’t, either. How do people keep track of/wear so many pieces? To each their own level of wardrobe volume, I suppose!

But if I can skip over the shopping aspect of how folks arrive at their cute looks (hint: don’t watch Instastories!), I find myself a lot more inspired, and having a lot more fun, following color-filled accounts. They rarely convince me to go hunt for specific pieces – I just enjoy the aesthetic, and the inspiration to pair together colors or patterns I haven’t yet thought of on my own. Starting off Friday with a picture of someone’s flamingo-print blouse just makes me smile in a way that cognac + cream + black capsule wardrobes do not.

So without further ado, here are a couple of colorful IG accounts I’ve started to follow recently:

Frances Ayme – a J. Crew-loving mom of 3 who calls Bermuda home:

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

A post shared by Frances (@francesayme) on

 

Tarilyn – a 50-something Mainer with a passion for skirts and making life in New England look like vacation in Florida:

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

A post shared by Tarilyn (@talizat) on

 

Alice – a midlife mom with a flair for pattern:

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A post shared by Alice (@happinessatmidlife) on

A bonus: these women reflect a greater diversity than the young, hip white women who dominate the IG neutral/ethical game. And it’s nice to see women who don’t blog or Instagram for a living wearing their real clothes!

Who are your favorite colorful Instagrammers (or bloggers)? Share the wealth!

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. :)

Putting Together an Outfit: Cords + Popover Tunic + Duster

Nicole from The Spirited Thrifter wrote a few weeks back about helping a client discern how to put together new outfits from her existing clothes  She included some handy rules and tips along the way, which got me thinking about how *I* put decide what goes into an outfit and whether blogging about it would be useful for others to read about.

So today, I’m going to grab an outfit pic off of Instagram and walk you through how I put it together.  I’m no expert, but I do love clothes and am usually pretty happy with my looks, so if you struggle with how to finish off an outfit, how to pair accessories or top layers with base clothes you’ve already chosen, or what “goes” together,  I hope reading about my thought process is helpful.  And if it works out I’ll do it with some more outfits.  Maybe you can even request faves from my IG!  Whoa, getting carried away here.

The outfit in question:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

And now, how I got there:

Weather? Cool in the morning, warm by afternoon – I’ll need to layer.

Any activities at work that require specific clothes (e.g. big meetings with outside clients or funerals or cleaning out storage rooms requiring a dress (fancier) or pants (more casual/flexible)?  No.

So what do I feel like wearing for my base piece (the skirt/pants/dress I’ll use to build my outfit)?   Yesterday was a dress so today I’ll go with pants for a little variety.  I haven’t worn my newly tapered cream cords yet, let’s bust those out!

What top would go with that?  Hmmm…I haven’t worn my dotted cotton popover tunic in a minute, and that pattern will contrast nicely with the solid cream down below.
Now to add that layer… The shirt’s patterned, so let’s get my one and only solid cardi out – a blue duster.  That matches the darker blue in the top and will keep the outfit from feeling all over the place color-wise.

What shoes do I want to wear with this?  Hey, those blue-grey boat shoes I just painted would be perfect for the  chambray color of the shirt.  Plus this outfit is on the casual-but-put-together side and nice boat shoes can do that.  I’m still wearing them in, though, so I need some socks…these striped ones perfectly marry the colors in my top and cardigan.

Jewelry?  An open neck means a standard-length necklace and I don’t feel like making an earring statement today. But I will choose my cream drop earrings instead of my go-to gold studs because my cream cords are starting to feel lonely; picking up the pants color with my earrings will make the whole composition more harmonious.  Bracelet/rings?  The usual – my grandma’s cuff and my wedding/engagement rings.

One last styling adjustment – pulling the collar and cuffs of my shirt out past the cardigan, then popping/folding them back respectively will add a touch of interesting on the edges of that big block of color that is my duster – and make some room to show off my bracelet.  

Et voilà!  Done.

 

The above process probably took about 5 minutes to decide/put on my body.  Scroll down to tell me if this kind of analysis is helpful, and if so, whether you like reading it in present tense or if that’s just annoying.

 

PS Click here to take the ThriftShop Chic Reader Survey and help improve your blog experience!  Under 10 questions in less than 2 minutes.  Thanks!

Love It or Leave It – or, Learning to Say No to Clothes at the Thrift Store

I went thrifting with my friend Caitlin the other weekend – she racked up several items to try on and I struck out, so I ended up in the very spacious dressing room (thanks Newnan Goodwill!) giving her picks the thumbs up or down.

(Shoutout to my mom for training me to think it’s fun to help someone else try clothes on – Ma, you would have been proud of my re-hanging garments and sorting into yes/no/maybe piles while my friend kept zipping through her selections.)

My friend mentioned at the beginning of the process that she always tries things on twice, to give herself some time to marinate on a selection before sealing the deal.  I nodded in agreement – sometimes you just need to revisit a piece to decide if it’s coming home with you.

But then she found this purple, leopard print dress by Soprano (retailed for around $50).  My friend’s face lit up and we both oooohed and ahhhhed – it was love at first fit.  “I won’t have to try this on a second time!” she gushed. Continue reading “Love It or Leave It – or, Learning to Say No to Clothes at the Thrift Store”