Translating Style from One Season to Another: Tips

Tuesday’s post was an exercise in thinking out loud about my own winter style; I know it’s helpful for some of y’all to read about how another person strategizes about their wardrobe.

But I wanted to do a short reboot with universal tips based on what I learned, because not everyone wants to read my inner style monologue.  If you process best via bullet-points and lists instead of story and narration, this post’s for you!

Tips for Restyling your off-season wardrobe

  • Thrift off-season.  It gives you time to go slowly, consider where your  holes are, and wait for the perfect piece.
  • Figure out what’s not working.  What do you dislike about your current lineup?  Is it the texture, the silhouette, the level of formality?  The way things go together (or don’t)?  Some ideas for getting your juices flowing to diagnose the issue:
    • Write about it
    • Talk about it with a friend who has an objective and stylish eye and knows you well
    • Scroll back through outfit pics to see what worked/didn’t (this is the #1 reason I use Instagram)
    • Go thrifting and try on some different styles to see if a new perspective helps
  • Figure out what works in a part of your wardrobe you love, then apply it elsewhere.
    • Silhouette/cut.  What’s the cold-weather equivalent of the silhouettes you love in your warm-weather clothes (or vice versa)?
      I’ve nailed down my summer work style – tapered pants and looser tops – so for me this would mean slimmer trousers + slouchy sweaters in winter.
      For you maybe it’s loving shorts and a 3/4-sleeve top in summer, so you do a miniskirt over tights/leggings and a blazer with rolled sleeves over a shirt in winter.
    • Color scheme.  What color scheme makes your heart sing in summer?  Find a muted, darker, or bolder version for winter. Or vice versa, lighten up your winter creams into white, navies into sky blue, aubergines into mauves.  Keeping it in the same color family also lets you use cross-over pieces in the transition months.
      (On the other hand, if you’re sick of one color scheme by the end of the season, it’s also a great time to adopt an entirely different palette.)
    • Fabric/texture.  If you love natural woolens or tweeds in the winter, try linen or cotton in the summer.  Silk, depending on the weight, works well across seasons.  If you love you some tencel, modal, or jersey in the summer, find the same fabric but in heavier weights (or just layer what you already have) for winter.

Caroline at Un-Fancy does this whole how-does-my-summer-style-get-winterized-or-vice-versa thing well if you need some visual inspiration.  So does Janice at The Vivienne Files – she visually walks you through putting together and accessorizing an outfit for each month of the year, with all the garments sharing the same style philosophy and color palette.  Amazing.


Do y’all prefer lists and tips, or narrative and story when it comes to thinking about style?

And what are your tricks for revamping a wardrobe you’re not currently wearing?



Restyling an Off-Season Wardrobe

Copy of Winter capsule wardrobe (4)

I wrote last week about why I like thrifting garments off-season: it gives me several months’ breathing room to mull over my wardrobe, figure out what worked/didn’t and where the holes are, and assemble what I want in the lineup for next season.

Thrift shops make this relaxed, thoughtful process possible because they have all seasons of clothing available all year ’round instead of for just 2 weeks before everything good is sold out (thanks retail stores).

Since it’s almost May, that means I’m currently thinking about my winter wardrobe.  (Not that I’m not excited about spring/summer clothes…I was thrilled to break out my first short-sleeved work top and dress last week.)

This may seem counter-intuitive, but the juxtaposition actually helped me get a handle on what in my winter closet needs fixing. Continue reading “Restyling an Off-Season Wardrobe”

Rough Guide to Atlanta Thrift Stores, Part 2 – Goodwill

Rough Guide Pt 2

Part 2 of my (geographically biased) guide to Atlanta thrift stores is all about the Goodwills, baby.  (Click here for part 1.)  Because: SO. MANY. GOODWILLS in Atlanta.  Goodwill of North Georgia is so successful and ubiquitous that I’m pretty sure it’s run by the Illuminati.

No, seriously—I don’t want to devalue their hard work and awesome market strategizing by attributing their success to Satan. (Btw, this is the problem with saying Beyoncé is part of the Illuminati…’cause some people can’t or don’t want to believe an African-American woman would have this much success due to her own hard work and savvy.  /rant over.)

But truly, the Goodwills are EVERYWHERE. And they’re growing.

All of their prices are the same—they’ve increased in the 6 years I’ve lived here and are definitely not the cheapest around, but still not horrible. Most items are $5-and-change to $6-and-change, with “special items” more expensive and a few categories, like baby/toddler clothes, less so.

Without further ado, the Goodwills of Northeast(ish) Atlanta—chime in with your own experiences of said stores! Continue reading “Rough Guide to Atlanta Thrift Stores, Part 2 – Goodwill”

What I’m Currently Thrifting

In an effort to stick to my own advice about knowing what you’re looking for before you go thrifting, I like to keep a list of what specific items I’m hunting.  I find when I’m surrounded by limitless options—grocery store aisles, say, or movies to watch online, or racks upon racks of delicious secondhand clothes—my memory becomes a sieve and I can’t remember all the food/movies/clothing items I meant to look for.  Is there a name for this??

A list also keeps me on track when I get distracted by—ooh! fun shoes!— or hmmm, I like the look of those skirts…   I can consult the list and (in theory) redirect myself back to the pants/tops/dress section I meant to be combing for finds I actually need.

My list is literal; I tuck it in my jewelry drawer so I see it every time I reach for a pair of earrings.  Seeing it this often seems to combat the aforementioned sieve effect to the point that I can access it in my head even on spur-of-the-moment thrifting adventures.


(Keeping said list in your bag might be a good option for those of you who prefer to consult the real thing in situ; since my toddler likes to clean out my bag a couple of times a week, anything I try to keep track of on paper has a short shelf life.)


My current list:

  • a classic blue short sleeve or sleeveless sheath dress without a lot of embellishments
  • off-white turtleneck to replace the one that was too tight to wear on its own
  • warm winter cardigan that can layer on top of everything
  • tapered thick trousers for winter

Two visual notes re: pants I loved for this last bullet point but that weren’t in my size (I’d tailor the legs on the Talbots to taper); good research reminder for next time:

WP_20160415_13_26_59_Pro WP_20160415_13_26_53_Pro

You may have noticed that 3/4 of the things on my list are winter-related (ideally the shift would be able to go over a turtleneck and leggings, thus winterizable too).  I like to look for things off-season so that I don’t fall prey to last-minute panic when the seasons change and I am COLD and IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT THIS SWEATER LOOKS LIKE A YETI GET ON MY BODY ALREADY.

That’s why I say thrifting is a long game—keep your eyes peeled and your focus sharp and, over time, you can assemble a wardrobe that is perfect for your lifestyle, taste, and body.


Do you keep a thrifting list, whether on paper or in your head?  If so, what’s on it right now?


3 Mini-Tips for Thrifting in Style

Today I’m throwing atcha 3 quick tips that have helped me out recently. (Check out thrifting strategies Part Un et Part Deux and some more tips for a lot more ideas on how to successfully thrift.)  

  1. Start with the special price section.  Easy to overlook, especially if you don’t know where a particular store puts the “designer” items. (Common locations include behind the checkout counter, in racks near the front, and in racks near the back.)  Not all the designer/quality stuff makes it to these racks, of course—employees sorting the clothes don’t always catch all the pricey stuff—but if you’re limited for time and only want quality goods, make the pre-sorted system work for you.
    PS don’t be afraid to spend more on a really excellent pair of shoes/bag/dress if you love something and it’s a luxury/designer brand.  $20 feels like a lot when  you’re used to price tags in the single digits, but if it’s a quality piece you love, it’s worth it—and still a heck of a lot cheaper than retail.


  2. Check the clothes someone else tried on.  That sounds a little gross as I write it…but we are talking pre-owned clothes, after all.  You don’t want to miss the good stuff just because someone else took it off the rack, tried it on, and then put it on the back of the fitting room door or on the rack for tried-on clothes.  If it was in good enough shape and stylish enough for someone else to try on, it might just work for you, too.
  3. Use the couches to minimize buyer’s remorse.  Most thrift stores have a furniture section which you may overlook if you’re focused on clothing.  But it’s really your secret weapon: when your arms are full of “maybes” and you start to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of decisions to be made (this is a thing) and are in imminent danger of committing thrift lust, go sit down on one of the couches (if that’s allowed) and take a deep breath.  You can set your things down and go through them one by one; but more importantly, you can take a mental breather in order to bring to mind what’s already in your closet at home and what among your selections will work well and what won’t (or what you already have 5 pairs of).


What are your favorite thrift tips?  Scroll down to share!



On Thrifting Maternity Clothes


My advice:

Do it.

Pregnancy is the perfect time to thrift clothes because you’ll only need them for a finite time and you don’t want to lay out a fortune for a new wardrobe—you got a baby coming, after all!

Except for a couple of gifts and one pair of jeans on clearance, all my maternity clothes were second hand—passed on or lent out from other mamas, thrifted, or consigned—and I did just fine.

In fact, my maternity wardrobe was pretty ideal: cute, coordinated, and stylish without being overwhelming (because, see above, I didn’t buy a ton!).  Essentially it was a maternity capsule wardrobe, and as such, it was also a great chance to try out a different color scheme from my usual—instead of muted reds, navies, and neutrals, I got to play with springy greens, heathered purples and some fun plaids and corduroys.

Read on for ideas on how to thrift yourself some maternity clothes. Continue reading “On Thrifting Maternity Clothes”

Friday ReBlog: Thrifting Off Season

Dina Younis of Dina’s Days posted this on Instagram yesterday (let us appreciate the delicious fall colors and beautiful composition—y’all should follow her!):

Her observation is totally true.  While I did just find a winter coat in November (note: still not truly cold weather here in the ATL), I typically find great stuff off season.  I start looking for spring/summer things in January and for fall/winter stuff in the middle of summer—not coincidentally, just about the time I start getting sick of whatever weather we’re in the middle of.  It just brightens those seemingly endless, nasty, slushy days to browse through bright florals and cools down a hot August day to contemplate warm knits in leopard prints.

Click here for more on why this makes sense/how it works (and pics of the leopard print sweater in question).

What luck have you had thrifting off season?  Scroll down to comment!

Happy Friday!


Strategies for Thrifting Trends

The Friday re-blog a few weeks ago about thrifting runway trends got me thinking about thrifting trends in general.

In some ways, I like to think of thrifting as a second-run theater where all the movies show up 2 months late but the tickets are $1.50 so you don’t mind waiting; plus 2 months is enough time to hear from other moviegoers whether that new blockbuster is really worth your money. (This is how I ended up seeing Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 only last week.)

So it goes with clothing trends–there’s a definite delay in their arrival at your local thrift shop, but you get them for a lot cheaper AND there’s a buffer between you and any short-lived, ill-considered trends (personally I’m thinking of all things neon).  You have some time to let new trends, colors, etc. marinate and decide whether they really fit your style, instead of just succumbing to fashion peer pressure–“everybody’s wearing military parkas, so I must, too!”

Military parkas--a trend I've studiously avoided
Military parkas–a trend I’ve studiously avoided

Full disclosure: I tend to be a late adopter for the reasons stated above plus the fact that sometimes it just takes a while for something to grow on me (slim-cut pants come to mind…), so I’m biased.  You may not be as patient, or you may be more adventurous or spontaneous, or you may just want to be able to do the fashion equivalent of talking about The Martian in the staff lunchroom the Monday after it comes out.  No judgment here!

So if you want to enjoy trends but also shop secondhand, how quickly do trends cycle through the buy-donate-resell cycle–that is, when can you expect to find them in thrift stores?  Well, it varies.  A really popular trend can take awhile to show up on thrift racks because EVERYBODY is buying them and actually wearing them, and the greater the trend’s staying power, the less likely folks will want to donate their own pair (I’m looking at you again, slim-cut pants and skinny jeans–took forEVER for them to show up in thrift stores).  On the other hand, the more popular a certain style, the greater circulation and the greater chance you’ll see it come through eventually, and probably not before the trend has completely jumped the shark.  But it’s a guessing game.

My advice to navigating the trend/thrift rollercoaster?  First, since (almost) everything old is new again, look for donations from a few years (or decades) ago and repurpose those vintage items for today.  I guarantee you that chambray existed before J. Crew picked it up, and flared/wide-leg pants have definitely cycled in and out a few times just since I’ve been paying attention to clothes–which is not counting the bell bottoms of the 60s and 70s.  Thrift stores can be the best places to find those newly-repopularized items because it’s the first place they go after they’ve been evicted from someone’s grandma’s closet or childhood bedroom.  Maxi dresses, cross-body handbags, cashmere sweaters, sequins, velvet, palazzo pants, silk scarves, riding boots…this ain’t their first rodeo.

Second, if you’ve discerned what your style is really about and what colors/cuts/fabrics/detailing are your jam, you can determine, with a certain amount of cool-headedness, whether a trend is something you even care about at all.  If this year’s Pantone color doesn’t do it for you, but you’d buy one of everything in 2013’s color Emerald if given the chance, then avoid this year’s trend and snatch up all the donated Emerald merchandise you can find.  True style is knowing what’s you and wearing it with confidence; if you truly love something but it’s no longer “on trend,” it’ll stick in your wardrobe and become your signature; when people see you wearing it, they won’t think it’s behind the times but rather see it as part of your look.


What trends have you skipped–or wished you’d skipped?  What trends have you embraced because you know you’ll love them forever?  Or do you embrace new fashions, using thrifting to add some inexpensive trendiness to your closet?

How to Winterize Your Wardrobe

Way back when, my friend Sheena asked for a post about how to winterize your wardrobe.  Many of you are heading from the pleasant, crisp, colorful wonderland of Fall into the time of nasty winds, chilling rain, and grey skies I like to affectionately call November.  And some of you Northerners have already seen snow (perish the thought!).  So it’s high time to tackle her question.

Ya dig the slightly 70s Winter Wonderland vibe?

When you are creating a capsule wardrobe (read: curating your closet so you own only things you love and wear), one of the benefits is having fewer clothes to clean/maintain/fold/store.  To double down on that benefit, it makes a lot of sense to bridge some of your warmer weather clothes into fall and winter.  Fewer overall items to care for, and fewer $$ out the door!  Read on for my tips on how to make it happen.
Continue reading “How to Winterize Your Wardrobe”

Sunk Costs – or How My Spouse Uses Baseball to Understand Thrifting

In honor of the World Series…Congratulations Royals!!!

Ours is a baseball family–our kid’s first baseball game was at 6 weeks (unless you count the one in utero…) and we all own hats and t-shirts of our respective teams.  We follow the Red Sox and the Cubs (gluttons for punishment, anyone?) and enjoy games live, on tv, on the radio, on our phones…there’s something special about the steady rhythm of pitches, at bats, and innings punctuated by the excitement of incredible sporting moments and the magic of beating long odds (see: Red Sox 2004, 2007, 2013 and Cubbies…well, next year??  Wanh wannnnnh).

What does this have to do with thrifting?  Normally nothing (other than that my and my kid’s Red Sox outfits were both thrifted.  My spouse is very jealous of this).

But a few weeks ago, while watching the Cubs face off against the Cards, the Spouse was talking about the sunk costs of investing in certain players and then feeling like you have to hold on to them even if they’re not doing well, because you already spent a bazillion dollars on their contract.  Rick Porcello’s 4-year, $82.5 million contract extension—partly responsible for Jon Lester now playing for the Cubs—comes to mind.


Thank you internets.


And then he said, “You should write a post about sunk costs.  With thrifting.”  When I asked for more, he said, “You know, if I bought a $7 pair of pants and they’re not quite right for me, I’ll still hold onto them because I paid $7 for them.”  He then reflected that this might be a principle that applies more concretely to shopping in general (e.g. if you spent $70 on some pants you’d be MUCH more likely not to give them away…), but since we mostly thrift in our house, $7 was his frame of reference.

If you’ve already invested money in something—whether $7, $70, or $170—you’ll be tempted to hold on to that item because it makes you feel like your money is still WORTH something.  But here’s the truth: if ya ain’t wearin’ it, it’s got zero value for ya anyway!

It’s all another way of saying:

Don’t throw good closet space after bad.

List an item you don’t love but are hanging on to for sunk-cost reasons on eBay, ThredUp, or at a consignment store to recover part of that value. Or, use it to create new emotional value for yourself by passing it to a friend whom you know will love it or donating it so that someone else can love it.  Marie Kondo‘s thoughts on this are very helpful in this process: thank a piece for teaching you something (I don’t actually wear that color/style/type of garment; I already have/am enough; I live a different lifestyle than the one in my head…), then free it to go make another thrifter happy.

And now to decide if Lester’s subpar post-season performance is a sunk cost we’re willing to absorb or if it’s time to let him go…ahh, baseball…


Have you ever had trouble letting go of something that wasn’t right for you because you paid so much for it?  Does this way of thinking about clothing investments help free you up to let things go?  Scroll down to comment!