Thrifting Upgrades: Side by Sides

Last week I promised side-by-side pics of my new (to me) and old striped tees. The former I stumbled upon in the thrift store and realized it would make a good thrift upgrade for the latter.

On top, Madewell; on the bottom, LOGG by H&M:
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You can’t really see it in the bottom photo, but I’m pointing to a side seam that twists all the way around to the front – blech. While we’re discussing its misshapen qualities, the LOGG shirt’s neckline has become asymmetrical. Although it’s super soft, I prefer its smaller stripes better, and it looks a little less casual than the Madewell shirt (shorter, more form-fitting sleeves, no overlock stitch on the sideseam), the Madewell tee is the winner in my book. It has higher quality fabric, is better cut (which means no twisting seams or odd necklines), and the silhouette is of the skimming, tunic shape I love.

Also in the name of comparing upgrades to the items they replaced, here is a much better shot of the color on the (grape? burgundy? – by Loft, on the right) cords I thrifted in lieu of the (wine? cranberry? – by Style & Co., on the left) ones that were too short and loose in spots:

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It’s much darker than my other winter colors, but I think it’s actually going to pair very well with the lighter tops I have, tops which will put some distance between the pants and my face so the intense hue won’t overwhelm my pale skin.

What do you think of my upgrades? What have you thrift-upgraded lately?

Reach For It

In reply to Tuesday’s post, reader Carol L. commented:

Like you, I also have a tendency to pick up “great finds” that are “nearly but not quite right”! How can we counter this habit? Maybe remembering the ideal of a streamlined closet? Or one in, one out?

Good question!  I think we find a system or a saying – like “one in, one out” – that works for us. In deciding whether something stays in my (theoretically) well-edited closet, my mantra lately has been “Do I reach for this?” And I think it could be applied proactively in the thrift store; I’ll explain how in a minute.

I’ve found that having a simple question like this keeps me from slipping into a lengthy pros-and-cons analysis – something that is unlikely to give me clear answers or a sense of peace about what’s in my wardrobe. (You know when something is unresolved and a small part of your brain is always paying attention to it? Not worth it.)

The most (in)famous of such mantras for clothing is Marie Kondo’s “Does this spark joy?”  I love this question in theory and find it works well in other areas of my life. But for clothing it doesn’t seem to cut to the heart of the matter. Why?

For starters, more than one closet favorite has started as a closet “eh” that I had to grow into.  Remember my futzing around with this sky blue Loft sweater that wouldn’t seem to layer? I was unconvinced for quite awhile.
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But then I figured out it looked smashing with my caramel pants (particularly when paired with this massive cardigan), and look how thrilled I am to sport it under a navy polka dotted vest! Good thing I didn’t chuck it because it wasn’t sparking joy right away.

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Second, I’ve found that some items that DO spark joy (see: fabulous sequined capelet below) are not things I ever wear.

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In contrast, “Do I reach for this?” seems to be where joy hits the road – do I love not just the piece itself but wearing it? Is it something I don’t have to talk myself into? The question also measures whether I’m being won over by an unlikely contender: “Hmm, I was not sold on this top at first but I seem to be reaching for it a lot lately.”

The concept helped me jettison a few items I’d been on the fence about during my last closet cleanout (post next week!) and I’m keeping it at the ready as I finalize my spring wardrobe lineup. When my Lenten fast from thrift shopping is over, I’m also going to try “Will I reach for this?” as a preemptive question while I’m still in the thrift store, trying to decide about a piece.

Stopping for a moment to figure out how I feel about a piece – am I excited to wear this the first chance I get? – rather than how I think about a piece – it’s so practical, it will fill a wardrobe hole, it has lots of features I normally love – connects me to same the emotional space targeted by “Does this spark joy?” In my emotional lexicon, thinking “I can’t wait to wear this!” or feeling drawn to something I love both fall under “reaching for it.”

 

Does “reach for it” do it for you? Or some other short question/phrase/mantra? Or do you prefer a more data-driven or analytical system?  Scroll down to share!

 

PS “Reach for it reach for it…” There’s your Hamilton reference for the day!  You’re welcome. (Sorry, can’t help myself when it comes to Lin-Manuel.)

 

February Thrift Finds

Let’s take a little trip back in time to some February thrift finds.

First up, the rejects.

Edited – I just found two more dress pics on my phone that I somehow skipped!

Handmade blue bamboo sheath
This baby was made out of beautiful fabric in gorgeous colors and I loved the notch neckline.  Alas, it was too big:
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Closeup on that pattern/colors:
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Yellow floral dress by Freaks of Go Go Spectators (since this appears to be the name of an album by the group Spiral Life, I assume this is also handmade)
I love the soft yellow and the thistles on the pattern, but it was TOO TIGHT across the hips:WP_20170215_13_41_43_Pro

Agh, that shoulder ring detail!  I die.  So sad this didn’t work.WP_20170215_13_42_08_Pro

Sweater dress by Loft
You know I love a comfy dress and a leopard print; the hem detail on this is great.  But it was pretty short…

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…and the fit was a little wonky near the bottom.  See how it pooches in on the righthand side?
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Plaid shift dress by Merona
I loved the color and the plaid on this dress but the fabric was cheap and the cut was fugly – much more muumuu than mod.

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Striped/colorblock dress by Gap
This may remind you of another dress I own; so when it felt a little too baggy/summer in Maine (where I do not, alas, live), I said no thanks and gave myself a pat on the back for resisting a pattern/color combo I love but already have.

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Colorblock dress, no
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I LOVED the color combo here – so bright and sunny! And I’d love to add a yellow dress to my repertoire. Plus look at how classy those pleats are and how pleasantly they symmetrize (new word?) with the darts in the bust!  Alas, the top was a smidge too tight across the chest (see the pulling?) and too big on the collarbone, and the skirt too short.

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Geometric blouse by The Limited
Cheapy fabric made the lovely color (below) and the potentially chic, loose cut all wonky – see how the hem flips up at the bottom and the fabric puckers diagonally across the middle?
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Ivory blazer
I didn’t get a shot of the label on this one. It had an odd combo of modern-looking lines (check out the shawl lapel!)and vintage length and cuff details:

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Striped shortsleeve blouse, Old Navy
I really wanted this to work as a flowy, chic alternative to my cotton tee of similar pattern, but it was just too big.  Boo.

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Old Navy plaid popover blouse
This shirt felt so good on – simple, comfy cotton – and has one of my favorite features – popover! Plus I loved the plaid and the colors.
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From the side, though, you can see that it’s pretty baggy in a not-on-purpose way.  And seeing these pics again I’m glad I didn’t go for it although I was pretty sad at the time because it looks pretty darn casual which relegates it to the weekend, not work-wear territory.  I already have a couple of weekend shirts I love and I don’t care who sees me wear them repeatedly so this one stayed on the rack.WP_20170223_13_49_46_Pro
Collective Concepts blouse
I’ve been looking for a palm print blouse; this had the colors but NOT the pattern.WP_20170223_13_51_55_Pro
Madras plaid shirt dress by Tommy Hilfiger
Great colors, great plaid, great shirt dress!  Just too short to wear without leggings (and who wants to wear a gorgeously summery shirtdress like this with leggings?) and too blocky/baggy in key areas:

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Hexagon sleeveless blouse by Gap Designed & Crafted
Love the colors in this and the pattern, and I definitely could use another sleeveless blouse in my work wardrobe.  But I could baaaarely button this sucker across the chest.  You can see that a bit here:
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…and even more here in the back:
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I’ve seen this one in the thrift store before and now know this size doesn’t fit me, so I’ll be on the lookout for a larger version.

 

Yellow ikat sleeveless blouse by Cremieux
Same story here; just too small.  But wouldn’t burst of yellow look great over white pants or skirt?  Going to keep my eyes peeled for something similar…
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And now, time for the keepers!  We got a lot this go-round.

Orange sheath dress by Anne Klein
I found this dream of a creamsicle-colored sleeveless sheath the same day I had my coat dress epiphany. This dress is a good orange for my skin (I think? at any rate it’s not a bad one) and it will be a great work dress, paired gloriously with my chrysanthemum cardigan and/or my white denim jacket (see below).

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Plus this or this:
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The accompanying coat dress did not, however, make the cut, due both to baggy sleeves and giving me a She-Ra chest that I have in no way merited:WP_20170209_13_59_56_Pro

 

Talbots floral shortsleeve blouse
The accent colors go great with my summer wardrobe, but I’m a bit worried the background color is too close to my skin color and will wash me out.  Also, looking at the thickness and contrast of that neckline I’m not as excited about how abruptly it cuts off… We’ll see how much I reach for it this summer.
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Here’s a slightly more in-focus pic with one of my blue blazers before I removed its extraneous buttons:
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The Savile Row Co. polka dotted vest
I am wearing this as I type, which after wearing it practically 9 days straight is a good sign that I still like it a bunch (and that this sucker goes with everything!). My favorite part is the back hem (which you can’t see here unfortunately) because it’s curved and a bit lower than the front hem and it just makes it look more shapely and less boxy like vests are prone to do.
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Fun2Fun geometric popover blouse
Apparently this blouse retailed for $48. I love the fit – the little pleat under the placket makes it a little flowier than other popovers – and of course the roll-tab sleeves and the open collar.  I’m not sure I love the giant geometric print, though – it just feels too blocky and big for my style.  I may play with it this season and then pass it on.
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See the difference in the way it flows (and in the length) from the blue plaid popover above?WP_20170223_13_48_12_Pro

 

Floral blouse, label cut out
I LOVE the colors on this blouse.  The sage and moss greens, the deep reds and warmer pinks, the little pop of gold in the buttons… it straddles the line between “warm” and “cool” colors but I think I (a person with a warmer – ahem, apologies to artists, more yellow-based – skin-tone) can pull it off. Also shoulder tabs and an open collar for the win:WP_20170223_13_53_09_Pro

Nice skimming fit in the torso:
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Close up on the pattern and collar:
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Marled grey unlined blazer by Merona
Once again Merona brings it with a great-fitting blazer.  I don’t know why these work so well for me – mass-manufactured big box clothing line would not seem to be the place where you’d find great blazer cuts which are hard to do anyway – but they do.  And although it’s stretchy and feels almost like a sweatshirt, the fabric is substantive enough to hold its shape minus the lining.  Win.

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Look at that fit, in both the sleeves and the torso/bust!
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The grey is a little too light/”cool” for my taste, but I couldn’t resist how perfectly it fit.

 

That’s a wrap!  Did we notice a pattern that I said “yes” to a few things I don’t love mixed in amongst with things I do?  That’s part of the reason I took a step back and gave up thrifting for Lent – I was starting to relax my parameters in the rush of thrifting things that were great finds in some way, but not perfect for me and my wardrobe at this moment.

Once something is in your closet it’s a lot harder to let go of. You start to justify its presence and you already feel attached to it in via “shoulds” – “I already have this, I should wear it” – even though you don’t love it.  Hello Endowment Effect.

I’m hoping that this Lenten thrifting fast will not only give me more headspace for all things spiritual but will also restart my relationship with my closet and help me tap back into that feeling of finding a perfect wardrobe match instead of falling for also-rans.

What’d you think of my finds?  Do you have trouble saying “no” to something that’s close but no cigar when it comes to closet love?  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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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

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Closeup on the texture:

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And now, the keepers:

Leopard print shirt by Banana Republic:

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More about my quest for leopard here.

 

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

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Wool/cashmere blend red blazer by Kate Hill:

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Caramel velveteen bootcut pants by !iT Jeans:

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Caramel crew neck sweater by J. Crew:

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Caramel shirt by Jones New York – more here:

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

 

Cream heathered sweater by Gap Designed & Crafted:

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

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Cold weather accessories:

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

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Neutral mod dress – more here:

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White skirt by Ann Taylor:

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With pockets!

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Pink/blue popover by Dalton:

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

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Navy floral blouse by Loft:

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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:

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

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With thumb holes:

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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:

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Then I picked out tops to go underneath:

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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:

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And a bamboo tech shirt to layer on top:

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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):

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Faded Glory.

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

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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:

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J. Crew

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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:

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(worn twice)

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(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!

 

 

What I Wore/How I Styled It: Rainy Day Wherein I Fail at Button Downs Under Sweaters

This is what I wore to church yesterday.  Can you tell it was a rainy day?  (Hence the indoor photos and strong overhead light.)

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Plaid button down by Japna – thrifted
Blue sweater by Loft – thrifted
Blazer by Cartonnier – thrifted
Cream corduroys by Lauren by Ralph Lauren – thrifted new with tags, then tailored from a wide leg to a slim leg
Rain boots – thrifted, no label

I was, in theory, happy with this outfit.  I started it out (in my head) with these rain boots, knowing I would be corralling a small person in mucky, wet weather:

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This is the closest I own to riding boots.  Ha.

I wanted to pick up the pink, the light blue, and the dark navy, and this button down and sweater did the trick:

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My pink/blue marled Cartonnier blazer was the obvious topper.  (And I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to wear it this season – because these ain’t exactly wintry hues.)  Close up on the colors/patterns:

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The cream corduroys provided some nice neutral real estate between all the color and pattern on top and in the boots.  Navy pants would have worked, too.

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So here’s the problem: in theory, I love the idea of a button down underneath a sweater.  It seems so chic – little pops of pattern at the cuffs, neckline, and hem to contrast with a solid (or even not-so-solid) swath of sweater.  And the warmth!

But in reality, this pairing drives me nuts.  The button down never lays properly under the sweater (see all pics above except the first one, which I made my spouse retake for the sake of my vanity).  It looks lumpy and pointy and things pop out in unfortunate places. And even though this plaid shirt is decently long, I’m forever tugging at the hem to make sure it’s peeking sufficiently chic-ly below the sweater.

In short, this combination looks chic on Talbots models and in my head, but NOT on me.  Even this combo had to be pulled and adjusted all day, and flattened for this photo (and some button or other pointy part still looks mysteriously like an errant nipple):

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Enlighten me, readers!  There have to be some of you out there who wear this look with aplomb and nary a stray scrunch.  What’s your secret?  Is my sweater too thin (it’s a thin cotton knit)?  Do I need to wash and dry it to shrink it up a bit or iron it before each wearing to get that smooth look?  Is my button down shirt not long enough or form-fitting enough?  Do you secretly safety pin or tape the whole thing in place??

 

Scroll down to comment – and don’t be afraid to wear rain boots as legit footwear, especially since there are so many fun patterns and chic styles to be found in the thrift store:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

 

Fall Closet Clean Out

I mentioned in a recent post that I had been making room for new thrift finds by chucking some things that weren’t getting worn.  Since we all love a good closet clean out, I figured I’d give you the run down.

First up: Coral Loft dress.  This baby got a lot of high fives on Instagram (below), but it gapped in the shoulder blade area, the fabric was stiff and draped more like an A-line than a sheath, and it cut under the armpits just a bit.  I didn’t thrill to put it on and that’s all that matters.  I’ll keep an eye out for a true sheath in a similar color since it looked so great with my blue patterned cardigan and with my fresh white denim jacket.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Next: when something is so right on paper…  My two-toned striped tee by Madewell.  This had it all: colors in my color palette, an exposed zipper on the back, my favorite sleeve length.  I thought I would wear the heck out of this, but I’ve only reached for it once (pictured below).  Why?  It was a little too casual for work and a little too fitted for the weekend.  And it was two different tones of blue in a wardrobe that already had a lot of blue in it.  I don’t need to be THAT monochrome.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

Two textured tees from last year – one of which I wore a lot but which just feels too frilly for my style (blush lace overlay tee by Loft) and one which felt like something I should wear on dates, not to work (sheer polkadot sweetheart tee by H&M):

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

I was on the fence about both of these but then realized they weren’t getting worn and someone else would find JOY in them instead of me holding on to them in lukewarm fashion.  Passed ’em on to a friend (more on how to do that here.)

 

Old jeans: I wrote about this here.  I realize the below silhouette fits the on trend “boyfriend jeans” look, but although I like that look, I don’t have a particular interest in creating it on myself…maybe because I’ve spent the last several years wearing these jeans and it doesn’t feel fresh to me anymore.  I *might* keep these for things like Habitat for Humanity work days or hiking in cool weather, but I could probably just as easily go buy a “new” pair of Dickies at the Goodwill that have a higher rise and thus involve less risk of crack.

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Palm print maxi dress: I was ambivalent about this even the one time I wore it and have not worn it since.  If I could magically have made that sheer palm print into a top (without paying the tailor a fortune), I would’ve.  But instead I left it intact for someone to find it who will fall for it just as hard but who will actually wear it.  (And spotted it back on the rack at the Goodwill!)

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Camel blazer: as I posted here, I ditched this puppy in favor of two statement blazers (one of which is the same brand/style but a better size and more visually interesting).  Haven’t missed it yet.

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What have you cleaned out lately?

 

 

Travel Wardrobe: Chicago Sightseeing & Lake Michigan Dunes

Ahhh, two of my favorite places: downtown Chicago and the Michigan dunes.

Last week we took time out to visit family and celebrate our anniversary, and although we had access to laundry (thanks Mom & Dad!), I wanted to pack light and bring versatile pieces that could do double duty for sightseeing in the city and the beach.  I also wanted things that could layer since the weather was about to take a dip into cooler temps – real fall!  (Although sadly the trees were all still green because that part of the Midwest has had such a warm late summer/early autumn.) Continue reading “Travel Wardrobe: Chicago Sightseeing & Lake Michigan Dunes”

Summer Wrap Up

Time for a quick retrospective on the summer wardrobe before we turn the corner into fall – or, more accurately, before y’all turn the corner into fall. It’s gonna be hot here in Atlanta for awhile yet but I’ve worn these clothes four and a half-ish months already and I’m probably just as ready to put them away as you all are ready to get your autumn on.

So. Summer review today, and more on what I’m thrifting and wearing for fall tomorrow and next week (including how I’m incorporating little tastes of autumn while still dressing for highs in the 90s). Continue reading “Summer Wrap Up”

Thrift Finds: June Edition

As I mentioned in this post, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a “Thrift Finds” post – partly because once my summer capsule wardrobe was set, it felt like I should quit shopping for warm weather clothes.  That’s part of the point of a capsule wardrobe, after all; you confine yourself to a certain set of clothes to help you realize that you need fewer duds than you think. (The punnery.  I die.) Continue reading “Thrift Finds: June Edition”