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.


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What to Do When a Favorite Shirt Dies?

The thrift gods must have been having a laugh the day I posted about loving popover tunics, because as I was bending over to put my kid in the car seat after work, I heard an unmistakable rrrrrrip in the region of my shoulder blades. I was wearing the popover tunic I had had tailored just a few weeks before, and sure enough, it now had a big tear right down the back placket.


It had been just a touch tight in the shoulders; nothing to suggest rejecting it at the thrift store or to cause discomfort during the many wearings since, but I guess I can’t be completely surprised. And it was 100% cotton, nothing synthetic that shreds easily….but it was also a Target brand, so I shouldn’t have expected stellar quality.

Still, it’s the first time I’ve ever rent a garment in mid-wear. (Thank goodness it wasn’t pants, in hindsight. Ahem.)

Photo evidence:

IMG_3521 Continue reading “What to Do When a Favorite Shirt Dies?”

Tailoring a Thrifted Shirt

Tailoring is a tool everyone should have in their pockets because there’s no way mass-manufactured clothing will always fit your body perfectly.  Thrifters need it even moreso to mold priceless-but-not-perfect secondhand finds into an effortlessly chic wardrobe that will leave you looking like (but not spending) a million bucks.

(Story time: I once heard someone recount the experience of a Ghanaian woman who came to the U.S. for college and whose healthy self-image began to deteriorate after long term exposure to mass retail shops where her body always seemed “wrong” for the clothes. In her home culture it was the norm for clothes to be tailored or bespoke, so instead of feeling inferior because they didn’t meet some arbitrary standard, everyone felt fab in clothes made to fit their bods exactly.)


I bought this beauty back in the days of chilly weather and knew that its popover style, rollable sleeves, and cotton fabric would be a hit for spring and summer ’round these parts.

The only problem?  It apparently was a shirt dress in another life—one that had an altercation with a pair of scissors: IMG_3182

Wanh-wannnnh: Continue reading “Tailoring a Thrifted Shirt”