Thursday, December 28, 2017

Trench flowers

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Trench: Forever 21, years ago (similar)
Shirt: Mossimo (similar)
Skirt: thrifted (similar)
Earrings: not very visible, but they are thrifted antiqued sterling silver knot studs (similar)
Scarf: Ann Taylor, on clearance in store earlier in December (similar, similar)
Necklace: Ann Taylor, also on clearance in store in December (similar in green, in red)
Tights: Merona, Target - discontinued (boo!)  (new Target brand, I haven't tried yet)
Shoes: Nine West via ebay (similar)
Bag: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)

My patience was rewarded for this outfit.  I had been stalking this necklace for several weeks, but $49 is just too much for costume jewelry, in my opinion.  So, when it was 1/2 off the sale price of $20, I leaped upon my prey.  This gorgeous scarf was also on sale, and 50% off the sale price, and when I used my credit card reward certificate, both items set me back a whopping total of $2.  I paired it with classic items so the accessories would really stand out.  

Share one of your great deal stories!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Minimal classic (plus, styling a white bag!)

Activity: Volunteering at Gavin's classroom

Coat: Lands' End, thrifted (similar)
Top: LOFT (similar)
Pants: LOFT (similar in this color, same cut in velvet, in corduroy)
Shoes: David Tate via ebay (similar) (Brief review: These shoes run $90-200+ new, but can be often found new on eBay for less than $50, including shipping.  Mine are very comfortable, well-made, have arch support and can be worn all day.  For NWT $38 on ebay, I was pleasantly surprised!)
Bag: Kate Spade, gift (similar - on sale!)
Earrings: Ann Taylor (similar - these are the most similar I've seen, if you like mine, check these out!)

The starting point for this outfit was this beautiful new bag, gifted to me by a generous tall friend (the cross-body strap was too short for her).  The clean lines and white color needed a simple, minimal outfit.  To be honest, I was a little scared by the white color - it's not anything I would ever buy myself, because I'm  nervous about staining it - but also excited, since it was a way to try a current trend - the "white bag" - without real risk.  I thought that if I paired the "scary" item with classic favorites, I wouldn't feel too much out of my comfort zone.  

It worked!  Of course, it helps that this bag has such great lines, but pairing one new trend with some trusted favorites, whatever yours might be, is a safe way to test the waters.

Also, can't stop, won't stop wearing these earrings, purchased on clearance during the summer.  I thought they'd only work for summer, with the raffia fringe, but I feel like they a great finishing touch to fall outfits too!  I call them my one-stop accessory item.  Add them, and you're done.  Here are some similar options for you below:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

How to layer bell sleeves

Activity: Meeting for worship

Coat: Kensie, thrifted (similar)
Top: LOFT (similar)
Skirt: J. Crew (exact)
Shoes: Mossimo via eBay (similar)
Bag: Burberry, gift (exact)
Earrings: Robin Undira (similar)

I mostly like bell sleeves, though I have a couple of challenges.  First, it's hard to wear them in (my) regular at-home life, since I'm forever getting my sleeves caught in dishwater. Second, it can be a challenge to layer them, so it gets harder to wear bell sleeves as the temperature dips...  

My solutions? For the first issue, I usually wear my bell sleeve tops only for my "out-of-the-house life" anyway, I often change into my comfortable "house clothes" when I get home, whatever top I'm wearing (I'm just messy at... life).  Secondly, I've realized that shorter sleeved jackets and sweaters make good layering options for bell sleeves.  This jacket has cropped enough sleeves that both layers of the ruffled sleeve show, so I often combine them in cooler weather.  An elbow length sleeved cardigan like this one could also work as a top layer with a bell sleeve top, or an open sleeve kimono similar to this.

And you know what I just thought of?  A cape would totally work over a "statement sleeve" top (check out this super versatile one, or this lighter trench coat style one).  The pattern on my cape wouldn't work with this top, so I hadn't thought to pair it together, but depending on your top/cape color combination, it could totally work for you!  I was eyeing this cape in store the other day, but did restrain myself....

Any other layering ideas for bell sleeves? Do share!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Millennial pink corduroy pants, statement earrings and statement sleeves...

Activity: Volunteering in Gavin's classroom

Top: LOFT (exact)
Pants: LOFT, in nostalgia rose color (exact)
Earrings: LOFT (exact)
All LOFT items were at least 50% in store last week and this week, check if the sale is still on!
Shoes: Franco Sarto, thifted (similar)
Bag: Burberry, gift (exact)
Watch: Apple, gift (similar)

I think this may be the first time I bought an entire outfit all at the same time!  I went into LOFT one day, looking for a relaxed black long-sleeved top, something I had recently realized was missing from my closet.  I left the store wearing the top (it looked better with my outfit than what I was currently wearing), and ended up also buying these gorgeous earrings and pants - at least they were all at least 50%.  It is pretty unusual for me to wear one store head-to-toe, so it felt worthy of comment.

LOFT is one of the few retail stores I shop regularly, since most of my clothing is thrifted.  But they are really killing it in their recent offerings!  That, along with some great recent in-store specials made for some shopping easy decisions.  Plus, these modern skinny pants from LOFT work really well for me (I have them in gray denim, too), so it's my go-to store when I'm looking for pants.

This gorgeous bag is also worthy of mention.  I do love my bags, but this is definitely a step up (or two) up from my usual.  While I do love the bag for itself (what's not to love?), it means especially much since it was a gift from my mother-in-law while she herself is going through health issues.  For her to think of me during that time is really meaningful, and I'll remember it every time I use this bag. 

This is totally not sponsored, just my current favorites from one of my favorite stores!  Here's some cute things I saw in store, in case you're interested:




Thursday, November 23, 2017

Great sales for Black Friday - starting today!

I don't usually post much on sales, since I don't get a whole lot of things at retail stores.  But, there are some items I regularly buy retail, including underwear (of course!).  And I always buy the same underwear, these from Soma for everyday completely line free wear, even under workout wear and sometimes these or these (also from Soma) for a slightly prettier look  (but one that does show under formfitting items, so can't be worn every day).  I also like their sleepwear (check out these adorable sleep chemises), and they seem to last a long time, from the couple of items I've bought in the past. And, guess what?  It's all buy one, get one 50% off starting today.  And the panties are on their special sale offer (the only time I buy them), where you buy 3, get 2 free, so they are only $8 each (they are usually $16-18 per pair) - plus you would be able to buy a second set of 5 for 50% those prices.  If you join their free rewards club, you end up earning free $5-10 certificates and free shipping.  It's totally worth it if you end up liking their products.  They also do carry a wide range of bra sizes, which I appreciate, although, in truth, I don't buy bras there anymore, even though it is one of the few places that carries my size. I prefer Bare for bras from other brands than Soma, they seem to last longer and have more consistent sizing (just my humble opinion).  Anyway, I just made my order and thought I'd share it with you!  (Totally not sponsored!) 

Oh, and be sure to check for the deal where you get a free pair of $25 slippers with any sleepwear purchase!  If you don't need slippers, surely you know someone who would love them!  If the deal doesn't obviously show up for your in your cart, just search for all slippers and add the pair that says "FREE SLIPPERS WITH ANY SLEEPWEAR PURCHASE" to your cart in the color of your choice.

I'll add some more sales as I find them.  I have only paid attention to sales on sites of things I actually need, so I'll have to snoop around to find more... :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Creating stylish outfits using thrifted items

Activity: Volunteering in Gavin's classroom

Sweater: Madewell, thrifted (similar - on sale!)
Top: Uniqlo (exact)
Jeans: LOFT (similar splurge - on sale, similar save)
Shoes: Franco Sarto, thrifted (similar)
Bag: Marc Jacobs, thrifted (similar - almost half off!)
Earrings: Ann Taylor (similar)
Sunglasses: LOFT (similar)

Almost any thrifter can relate to the challenge of using thrifted items to style an on-trend look.  It's easy to create classic, quirky, and fun looks using thrifted items, but it isn't always as easy to make an of-the-moment outfit.  How to do it?  

The simplest way is to mix thrifted items with new purchases. For example, while there are always exceptions, lately I mostly find resale jeans with a really low-rise.  Not flattering on me, and not really my style anymore.  So, while I haven't given up completely on thrifting a great pair of jeans, I don't spend much time on that particular project.  The jeans in this look are from LOFT, my usual go-to spot for new pants. The gray color made them feel especially right for this fall, and they update many of my previously thrifted items. 

It's also hard to find thrifted basic knit tee shirts in great condition.  So, I find it's best to find new go-to tees that fit you well and stock up as needed.  My current favorite for long-sleeve basic tee shirts is this one from Uniqlo, worn in the outfit above.  I've already purchased it in several colors, though I wear the navy, black and cream ones the most.  Basic knit tees are a basic building block for so many outfits (see this post for my ode to the basic layering tee), so don't depend on being able to stumble onto them in your size and needed colors when thrifting.  

You may have more success thrifting layering pieces.  Sometimes you can even find items from a recent season, in a silhouette that is still quite on-trend.  The sweater in this outfit, for example, is from Madewell, and felt very current to me (although actually long sweaters are especially popular, the open cardigan look and the neutral color struck me as somewhat trendy).   I've found other layering pieces that were very recent, and those types of items tend to be in better condition when thrifted, as opposed to tee shirts.

Another tip is to at least be aware of what trends are current and those which are predicted.  I don't think anyone should buy something they don't like, new or thrifted, for any reason, but if you're attracted to a thrifted item, you've read that it's a current trend, perhaps you've even considered trying that trend, and it's $5, why not give it a try? Worst case scenario, you re-donate it if the trend doesn't end up working for you.  For example, I had read that red was a hot color for fall, long and double-breasted jackets were coming in and that military details were also on-trend (I usually mostly just check Who What Wear's website, plus InStyle magazine).  I love red (both red heels and red flats have been on my shopping wish list forever!), and thought a long jacket would be an interesting look to try for fall.  So when I found a vintage circa 1990s long, double-breasted red blazer with a hint of military styling in the trim details on the sleeve for $6, I decided it was worth a try.  I'm still not sure if the shoulder pads are just a little too much, or if the look is just trying a little too hard for me, but I figure at $6, no harm, no foul.  In another example, a couple of months ago, I had read that purple was popular, and I had seen it starting to show up at conventional retailers.  Again, I like purple, and armed with that information, I took a little more interest than I might have in purple items at the thrift store.  Soon after that, I found 2 beautiful skirts in purple tones (one in this post, another really fabulous Ralph Lauren maxi skirt that I hope to photograph sometime blowing in the wind on a cliff overlooking the ocean).  These stand-out items are all to be worn with neutral items purchased new, hopefully creating unique items with a nod to the trends.

How do you create outfits with your thrifted items?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thrifted all day long...

Activity: Meeting for worship

Blazer: Larry Levine, thrifted (nothing is super close, but sort of similar, similar, similar)
Top: Banana Republic, thrifted (similar)
Skirt: thrifted (similar)
Shoes: BCBG via ebay (similar)
Bag: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)
Earrings: thrifted (similar)

I knew days would eventually come when I was wearing an outfit comprised of completely thrifted (or secondhand via eBay) items. This was one of those days!

I was wearing this top the day I thrifted this blazer, and I turned out to love the combination of casual denim and dressy wool.  When I got the blazer home, however, I couldn't find any other top I liked with it, which surprised me.  I don't usually buy items I think only go with one look, I prefer more versatility, but I've been stumped on finding another top I like.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears!  :)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Mixing fall trends - husband shirt, glen plaid blazer, loafers


Activity: Wine order pickup with hubby (aka "day date")

Blazer: Trina Turk via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Top: Mossimo (similar)
Jeans: LOFT (similar)
Shoes: Franco Sarto, thrifted (similar)
Earrings: Ann Taylor (similar)
Bag: Marc Jacobs, thrifted (similar)

Several things came together in this outfit. First, I had heard of the "husband shirt", basically an oversized button front shirt from this outfit on Megan Markle, and happened to find a similar version on clearance at Target.  I had also read that plaid was hot for fall, and I've had a beautiful glen plaid blazer for several years, that I had planned to make use of this fall.  It's part of my classic closet, items that fit well and will never go out of style, which I never plan to permanently rotate out - unless they no longer fit or wear out.  These items aren't always in high rotation in my closet, but I tend to have spurts where I reach for them often, and other periods where they only get occasional wear.  But I've essentially pledged to myself to not allow myself to donate those items, even if I'm purging my closet during an occasional wear period for that piece of clothing.  These are the types of items that I later regret donating or selling, so I have to essentially promise myself not to over purge my closet, as I have been prone to do in the past.  (That being said, I limit the number of items I add to that no-purge list.  But, if it's high quality, fits well, and has classic style, it's most likely on that list.)  And even though this season's hottest plaid blazer is an oversized and double-breasted version (sometimes long, like this one), I still feel like my version is on trend.  Plus, since I know it fits well, I feel great when I wear it.

I have also been wearing the heck out of these loafers.  While I still love my black slip-on sneakers, these black loafers (almost a smoking slipper) add such a fall spin to my outfits.  And they are so comfortable!  And my gray skinny jeans are my current favorite casual pant. So adding some trendier elements to items I already love to wear came together to create this look, and made for an outfit I loved!  

What's your current favorite outfit combination?

Here are some options for you, if you want to try this particular combination:


Husband shirt:

Skinny jeans:


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ruffles for days....

Activity: Meeting for worship

Top: Ann Taylor (similar)
Skirt: J. Crew via ebay (exact in current colors - on sale!)
Shoes: Pour la Victoire via DSW (similar)
Earrings: via ebay (similar)
Watch: Apple, gift (exact in current band color)
Bracelets: street vendors (similar, similar)
Bag: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)
Lip: badly applied Colour Pop in Creeper, attempted to be wiped off and topped off with pale gloss (exact, exact gloss in berry brown)

Let me start by saying that this outfit did not photograph the way it looked in real life - or at least, how it made me feel in real life.  Not to mention the giant forehead crater completely visible these days...  Such is life.  

I'm sure for many of you, the weather has already changed for the cooler, but we were having a seasonably warm day last week (early fall being our warmest weather here in the Bay Area), so a sleeveless top was perfect.  And, while I didn't wear this to a formal occasion (I would have made sparklier accessory choices...), this would be an example of a possible "party top" to find on sale (as I did, for $15 at Ann Taylor), and stash for a potential special occasion (discussed more in my last post).  It's a little more versatile than one dress, more forgiving to weight loss and gain, and a lot less expensive...

What's your take on "party tops"?

Here are some options:
In ruffles:

Other options:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Special occasion...

Occasion: friend's wedding (our son participated in the ceremony)

Dress: Teri Jon via Nordstrom Rack many years ago - my best sale find ever! $40 for a $400 dress (similar)
Bag: thrifted (similar)
Shoes: Pour la Victoire via DSW (similar)
Earrings: gift (similar)
Necklace: Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Bracelet: via ebay (similar)

My husband's suit is J. Crew, from several years ago (similar)
Gavin's suit is Zara, from the spring 2017 collection (similar)

Can you tell these photos of me were taken by the love of my life, instead of via a timer? I feel like that may be why my smile has a special zest....  

Anyway, let's talk special occasions.  What do you wear when you've got a special event to attend?  Since my family and community are already dressed up on a regular basis for our twice-weekly meetings for worship, to dignify a more formal occasion, I tend to choose dressier fabrics: silk, perhaps a tulle layer, embroidery, or perhaps a touch of lace or sequins.  I personally tend to shy away from patterns for formalwear (but then again, I shy away from patterns most of the time!), mostly because a solid dress can be worn again and again in different ways with varying accessories, often without even being noticed as the same dress.  Especially if I'm buying a dress for a future occasion, rather than an event that's about to happen, I also look for a timeless, rather than a trendy silhouette.  No point in having that great clearance dress stashed for a special future occasion that turns out to be dated by the time you wear it.

While we're on the topic of buying dresses for a future occasion, let's just say I'm a fan.  Nothing is worse than desperately searching for a special occasion dress when you're rushed just before the event - that's when you can't find ANYTHING you like or that fits you well.  Having one or two things that fit well, in classic colors, stashed in your closet breeds confidence.  Even if you do go looking for something new, you don't have that desperate urgency stemming from knowing you have absolutely no options in your closet and an approaching deadline.  Knowing you got those great dresses on sale when you happened to come across them is even better!  But, be reasonable - for most of us, our lifestyle only requires one or two of these items, don't waste good closet space or money on items you'll rarely wear.  Shopping for your reality is important, too.

Another confidence building option for dressy occasions is keeping on the lookout for a dressy top or two (sequined, ruffled, beaded, etc.), and/or dressy skirt (silk, satin, sequin, etc.).  When you find a good option at a good price, think of it as special occasion insurance.  You can always pair a beaded or ruffled top and black pencil skirt, or a simple black top and sequined skirt for a quick and easy event look.  You don't need lots of these items, even just one will do.  You can remix it endlessly for lots of options, and you won't have lots of money -or closet space - invested in clothing you don't wear very often.  (Plus, this is a great strategy if you tend to vary in size.  If you have a great top, you can pair it with whatever black pencil skirt you fit into at the moment.)

On a last practical note, finding cute, block heeled dressy-looking sandals is an investment your feet will appreciate!  I felt just as cute in these shoes as I would have in stilettos, with the added bonus that I could wear (and dance in) them all night.

If you're in the market for some classic, versatile special occasion dresses, bags or shoes, here are a few options:

Monday, October 23, 2017

Trusty fall fashion pieces


Pants outfit:
Trench: J. Crew via ebay (similar - on sale)
Top: LOFT (similar)
Pants: Duluth Trading Company, thrifted (similar)
Shoes: Franco Sarto, thrifted (similar)
Bag: Marc Jacobs, thrifted (exact)
Sunglasses: LOFT (exact - on sale!)
Earrings: craft fair (similar)

Skirt outfit: (not my favorite look, in all honesty - or at least not my favorite photos)
Blazer: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)
Top: LOFT (similar)
Skirt: Old Navy (similar)
Shoes: Banana Republic, thrifted (similar)
Bag: Gigi New York via ebay (similar)
Earrings: craft fair (similar)

As I've been culling my wardrobe of items I can donate to friends who lost their homes in the wine country fires, it's got me thinking of which core items I would actually keep as a usable capsule wardrobe, while freeing up lots of great items to share with others.  Two of those capsule items are pictured today: a short trench coat, and a navy, brass-button double breasted blazer.  I feel like these items, which combining with many other pieces, also actually provide a distinct look for each outfit.  For example, I'm wearing the same top in both outfits, but it looks quite different depending on which layering piece it's combined with.  Those are the kinds of pieces that make a capsule wardrobe go further.

There are various times in life when it may be time to think of starting a core capsule wardrobe - some good: new job, weight loss, travel opportunity; others not so great: losing everything in a fire, weight gain (been there), et cetera.  Whatever the occasion, it's interesting to think about which items in our wardrobe - or potential items we're considering for purchase - give us the most "bang for the buck", or complete the most outfits.

I plan to dedicate an entire post to this thought soon (with photos and clothing layouts), but in the meantime, please check out Audrey's thoughts at her post, and share your own thoughts!  As a preliminary list, here are some of the items I personally find indispensable for a versatile wardrobe:

Classic two-button black blazer
Double breasted navy blazer
Gray cardigan sweater or hoodie
Button-front chambray or denim shirt
White plain fitted tee
Cream loose-fit longer top (almost tunic)
Bright colored top (one or more colors)
Striped tee
Relaxed gray tee
Graphic tee
Peplum top
Bell-sleeve top
Dark "dressy" skinny jeans
Distress/faded cropped black jeans
Olive pants
Black leggings
Black knit pencil skirt
Gray maxi skirt
Mustard color dressy pleated or pencil skirt (I have and use both a LOT)
Plaid blanket scarf
Silk or other draped fabric large scarf
Small silk or cotton neckerchief scarf or bandanna
Black tights
Wide belt
Narrow belt
Straw hat
Wool brim hat
Bright knit beanie 
Puffer vest
Denim jacket
Trench coat
Wool coat
Ankle boots (I prefer darker colors like black or charcoal gray)
Tall knee-high boots (black or cognac would be my picks)
Ballet flats (black or red if I had to choose just one pair, but cognac would be great)
Slip on sneakers (black or taupe are my go-tos)
Neutral pumps (black, nude or metallic can be great options, depending on your palette)
Hoop earrings
Stud earrings (diamond or silver or gold ball)
Statement earrings
Long necklace and pendant
Cuff bracelet
Small cross-body bag
Top handle bag
Tote bag

What are your must-have items?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Checks, braids and hats...

Tried it tucked in for one photo - tidier but too much black... Didn't wear it this way, guess that's good?

Activity: Volunteer ministry

Sweater: LOFT, thrifted (similar)

Tee: H&M (similar)
Skirt: thrifted (similar)
Shoes: Madewell via ebay (similar)
Hat: from Ecuador vacation (similar)
Earrings: sterling hoops (similar)
Watch: Apple watch, gift (exact), leather band via eBay
Scarf: thrifted (similar)
Bag: Kelsi Dagger, thrifted (similar)
Sunglasses: LOFT (exact - on sale!)
Lip: NYX lip cream in soft matte in Sao Paulo (exact)

What is it about approaching fall that puts me in the mood to wear black and white outfit combinations?  Am I the only one here?  Looking back on my summer outfits, it was a pretty neutral season for me, but mostly ivory, olive, brown, blue, black, etc.  Now I suddenly crave the crisp combination of black and white, especially with a touch of cognac.   

I'm not gonna lie, this was my favorite outfit to wear of any outfit over the past several months.  The funny part is, it was all based on this scarf, which I had completely forgotten about until I was rummaging around in my (giant) scarf collection for a separate reason the night before.  Finding that one piece made my next day's outfit an easy choice (love that!).  Adding the cognac accessories gave the outfit a little more interest.  And can I mention that I'm happy fall is here so I remember to wear my oxfords again?  So comfortable!

What's your favorite part of dressing for fall fashion?

Here are some options for you: