We all go through periods when we have “NOTHING TO WEAR!” That is just a universal truth.
Well, this winter, I experienced that moment enough that I knew it was time to freshen up my closet. First, I thinned out what I had. My rule is to get rid of one item for each new item. I did that, plus some.
Over time, I have created a work uniform of sorts for myself. Loose top, black pants, ankle boots, earrings as an accessory. It makes getting dressed in the morning easy, and I truly feel good in this combination of clothing. I am a little more creative with what I wear in my downtime – but let’s get real – it’s normally jeans or leggings with a cute top or sweatshirt unless something special is going on. Knowing how my style has progressed, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and needed to round out my wardrobe.
In 2021 I am trying my best to buy used clothing only, so this shopping spree took place in Cedar Rapids at as many Goodwills as I could find and Style Encore. I feel like the prices are way better at the Goodwills in larger cities and Style Encore has high quality/higher end pieces for prices you cannot beat.
I made a mental checklist of what I was looking for so I could go straight to those sections, be efficient, and not overbuy. I had enough pants, work and casual, so I mostly just needed tops. The goal was to find tops of various styles that were “classic” in color, material, and fit. I also ended up following a color scheme that I could easily mix and match, with many of my finds being neutrals aside from a few pops of color.
Here is what I got for tops:
There were a few types of shoes I also knew I needed, and I was able to find the styles I wanted. The black ankle boots are MICHAEL KORS! I was especially excited about that find.
I also ended up getting a few accessories that went with some of the tops I got:
In total, I spent a whopping $146.61 for ALL OF THIS! I think that is pretty darn reasonable. It was worth every penny because I feel great in everything and love getting dressed in the morning again – that is priceless. I will also feel less guilty when I donate these pieces back into circulation for someone else to love. I am considering doing this wardrobe refresh seasonally (meaning Fall/Winter combined, Spring/Summer combined) if I am financially able, because in addition to inspiring me, I enjoyed a nice day to myself exploring.
When I was looking for clothing, I also drew inspiration from my favorite clay earring maker, Formed Designs. I am a sucker for her pieces – all her designs are just gorgeous. Check her out and sign-up for her newsletter (she often sends out discount codes!).
We’re on our third (and worst so far) COVID-19 spike as a nation. It is exceptionally bad where I live in Iowa. So what else are we supposed to do while safe at home? Bring on the dramatic sunset photos! I was channeling Diane Lane in the 2020 movie Let Him Go.
This year was the final year for my beloved camel suede ankle boots, pictured below. RIP. They got thrown into a dumpster we rented to empty junk from our outbuildings since we had some free time on our hands. What a way to go. I remember asking for an Old Navy gift card for Christmas specifically so I could get them. This had to have been five or more years ago. They were good ol’ friends of mine and served me well. Even Joel was bummed they had to go!
There was a short period of mourning, but I got back on the horse and began searching for a new pair. I ended up hitting the thrifting jackpot! My old pair was obviously in shoe heaven, smiling down on me.
The first set I found was a tall brown pair at Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids for $18.00. We happened to be cruising around with no set destination, so this was a lucky find. They actually had many pairs to choose from. The ones I got can be worn with both casual and dressy outfits. I’m always looking for clothing that is versatile. Here is what they look like up close and in my cowgirl glamour shot:
The second and third pairs I found were from Goodwill in Des Moines. Now that’s a good place to thrift. Bigger cities equal better quality and quantity of items. I also felt like the prices were better for what you were getting compared to the store closest to me.
I couldn’t choose between the two pairs because they have different vibes, so at $8.00 each, it was doable to purchase both. Joel was in full support!
Here is one pair. I wear these most of the time:
Here is the other pair. These are suede and so cute! I wear these when I want to look a little more polished:
If it’s Fall, I’m in brown boots. There is no question. I hate accumulating too many “things,” but since these were secondhand and I will undoubtedly wear the crap out of them – I felt comfortable stocking up! What are your “go to” shoes for the fall?
I must say, I was quite upset when Zac Posen said he was closing his fashion label. It certainly feels like something is missing without him (in the little corner of the high fashion world I admire at least). I was very inspired by his creations. So many of them took my breath away. I am still holding out hope that he’ll be back. If you’ve watched “House of Z” on Netflix, you know he is a resilient man and this isn’t the first time he’s fallen down, only to get back up better than ever.
Anyway. What I’m trying to get at is that although I still very much miss Zac, a new designer has caught my eye and his work gives me the same kind of feels (almost) as Zac’s. Let me introduce to you Brandon Maxell (these looks were in his spring/summer 2020 collection):
The first time Brandon came onto my radar was with this dress Mandy Moore wore to the 71st Annual Emmy Awards. I had to know who the designer was. I was in awe. I’m still in awe. The color blocking. The draping. The fit. Pure perfection.
I really like that although he has some killer gowns that we’d normally only see on celebrities (like Mandy), he also has a huge variety of everyday pieces that any woman could wear. Even if a person can’t afford his clothing (I know I can’t) – his looks can inspire us to get creative with what we have or can afford! I already know I’ll be doing an “Outfit Imitation” with thrift finds of one or more of his looks. He takes classic pieces and looks at them with fresh eyes, using new fabrics, combinations, and fits.
It’s also commendable that he does menswear in addition to womenswear. I’m wondering if it’s easy for him to do both because his womenswear collections obviously have a strong menswear influence.
I don’t know much about who he is as a person or his backstory yet, but what I found online via Wikipedia is this: Brandon Maxwell (born September 18, 1984) is an American fashion designer, television personality, director and photographer. He is the founder and creative director of Brandon Maxwell, the luxury women’s ready-to-wear label. Prior to launching his eponymous womenswear label, Maxwell entered the fashion industry as a stylist. He began assisting Deborah Afshani in 2009, followed by Nicola Formichetti in 2010, where he was introduced to Lady Gaga, as Nicola was her stylist at the time. In 2012, Maxwell took on the role of Lady Gaga’s fashion director. Many influential women, including Michelle Obama, Karlie Kloss, Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda, Viola Davis, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Kerry Washington, among many others, wear Maxwell's brand.
And he’s on the Bravo’s new version of Project Runway. Knowing this makes me want to get cable!
In summary, I’m completely obsessed with Brandon. He’s rolling out his pre-fall 2020 ready-to-wear line right now and WOW. Here are some pieces I love (I have literally visited his Instagram page multiple times to re-look at these outfits):
I think I like him so much because 1) I didn’t know until I found him that this is my ideal way of styling clothing and is (luckily) close to the way I dress already – only elevated – which makes me want to push my wardrobe further; 2) a lot of his looks are attainable without having to buy his pieces and they’re not so “off the wall” that you can’t find something similar at a lower price point (not saying what he’s doing has “been done before,” of course I would buy if I could, I just can’t, so mimicking is the next best thing); 3) his use of color is sublime; and 4) I’m just extremely inspired by him.
What do you think? Do you like his stuff, too? What designers are really speaking to you right now? I’d love to know! I’ll forever be looking for more designers to fill the Zac Posen size hole in my heart.
All photos on this page are courtesy of Brandon Maxwell's official Instagram page @brandonmaxwell.
I have a large chest, so I never thought cute bralettes would be an option for me. Turns out, I just hadn’t been looking at the right ones for my body type. I found the perfect version at (of all places) Scheels! I hate going to Scheels. There is nothing for me there (or so I thought) – it’s just not my scene. Until now.
My dear aunt invited myself, mom, and sister to a “Ladies’ Night Out” that Scheels in Cedar Falls was hosting. The tickets sold out in four minutes, so that told us a lot about how awesome the event must be. I heard “everyone gets a swag bag” so was in without hesitation. Little did I know I’d find several items I liked enough to buy in the moment, and others I’d like to go back to purchase.
To sum up the evening – it was AMAZING. Below is a photo of the swag bag contents. Completely unreal. The buzz everyone was on from the swag bags to the sales to the prizes was palpable.
As part of the swag bag, we got a $10 Scheels gift card. I also won a $10 gift card at their wheel of chance game. That gave me $20 to spend. There were many sales going on, so we browsed through all areas of the store, including the women’s clothing. I came across a section of super cute bras. Some were half off, making them $10. I had to get at least one. I found this olive green “Women’s Fornia Lattice Front Bralette”:
I loved it immediately, but even more after I put it on. It was comfortable. It supported my “girls.” It was padded. And most importantly – it was pretty! I have styled it two different ways since getting it, shown below.
I wore this outfit to a bar to watch a show. I was feeling myself for sure. It was something I threw together last minute (building the outfit around the bralette) and now it’s all I want to wear!
I wore this to do yoga. I stand a little straighter when I’m in gear that makes me feel good. Trying to embrace my shape, it’s different than what I’m used to, but I’m feeling surprisingly good in this season of my body.
The cut is perfect. It goes down a little further on the rib cage and shows just enough cleavage. And like I said before, it’s just so comfortable. Comfortable and sexy don’t normally get mentioned together to describe a piece of clothing – but this bralette is the exception.
I’ll be back to buy another in a different color and probably check out the other styles Scheels has. My mom picked one up that she really likes with a high neck, I’ve linked it here.
Let this be a friendly reminder – don’t write a store off just because traditionally it hasn’t been a good fit for you. We evolve. So do stores. Second chances are a must.
In case you are wondering what else I got – I picked up this warm, quilted vest that was half off as well. Again, in olive green. That color is one of my favorite neutrals for fall.
We’ve had a pretty quiet wedding season this year but had one in August and have another coming up in October. My closet is pretty stocked with summer dresses and I wanted a dress that had more of a Fall feel to it.
Target to the rescue! I’ve said that more than once in my lifetime...After trying on several dresses from the discount rack, I wandered over to their new arrival area. I was immediately drawn to a floral dress (which is typically the case) with a deep green/olive base and burnt orange/blush flowers. The overall design had a very vintage feel to it, which also appealed to me.
I had a pair of rust mules in my hands (that I have been wanting for sooo long) that matched really well with the flowers, so I thought I’d give the dress a try.
It was magic. I put it on and I felt like the woman I aspire to be. If I had a few drinks in me, I probably would have twirled right out of the dressing room!
I think this picture says it all! I wore it to the August wedding and felt extra confident. When Joel saw me in it, he said it looked like I stepped out of a different era. And I didn’t know I’ve always wanted to hear that until he said it.
The brand is A New Day and I can’t find it online to link it, but found mine in the Waterloo, Iowa Target. The nude heels I ended up wearing with it (instead of the mules) are also still available, find them here!
I really enjoy watching Met Gala photos roll in on social media on the night of the event. Fashion as art. One of my favorite things! Makes me feel all the feels.
This year’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” theme was especially interesting. Camp in this context meant exaggerated, extravagant, gaudy, ironic, kitschy, and tongue-in-cheek. The outfits walked down the carpet were all of this and more.
I wanted to share some of my favorite looks.
The winner of the evening in my opinion was Lady Gaga. I mean come on, she did a full on performance as she ascended the stairs to the gala, showing off 4 different looks!
Loved the colors and cape detail on this look. It definitely matches up with Florence’s ethereal presence.
I thought this was a fun, young look that really stood out. From head to toe Elle looks gorgeous.
I am not a Kardashian fan, but I couldn’t deny how much I liked Kim’s dress. It was beautiful, she looked great, and I loved how the crystals dripping from her dress looked so much like water droplets.
The only time I like Gucci is when this man is wearing it. Harry 4-ever.
I would so wear this! So girly and soft. I really like Emma’s dewy make-up and the floral crown was the perfect touch.
And last but certainly not least, my boy, Zac Posen, killed it with his designs! He worked with GE Additive and Protolabs to create looks using a 3D printer. The results were stunning!
The "I crave new shoes" switch got turned off inside me awhile ago. I used to veer to that section first, buy way too many, would get pairs that were too big or small if I liked them enough, etc. There were several instances where a shoe would be a few sizes to small for me, usually in my sister's size, and I forced her to buy them so I could live vicariously through her. Yeah. I loved shoes that much.
Nowadays, I try to stick to the basics and wear the basics until they literally give out on me. I came to this point with the brown and black pairs of tall boots I bought over five years ago. The brown pair lost their heels. The black pair became so saturated with salt (Iowa life) I couldn't keep them clean anymore.
I heard that Payless was going out of business across the country, including the one in our local mall. I thought this would be a great opportunity to find a deeply discounted pair of one or both of the tall boots I had to dispose of (RIP). If you've ever shopped for tall boots, you know they're not cheap.
I was right! The current promotion they are running in store only right now is 20% of all shoes, 40% all tall boots. Score! I was able to snatch up these pairs:
I wore the black pair to an event my organization had a booth at for 10 hours and they were very comfortable! I even walked on a good amount of ice in them and didn't fall. So I think that speaks volumes about the stability of the boot due to the heel's height and thickness!
While at Payless, I of course checked out what else they had and ended up leaving with two pairs of shoes I had my eye on for a few months. A pair of slip on tennis shoes in a yummy burgundy shade:
And this pair of booties that I'm not going to lie, I dreamt about. I had visions of me in these boots. I had to have them. They will help me fulfill all of my punk rock girl band fantasies (minus me actually being in a punk rock girl band part...). I'll wear these for the first time tonight for a girls' night and I can't wait to pair them with a pair of tight skinnies and a fitted biker jacket.
This is the look I'm going for on girls' night:
Also loving this option for work:
And that's that. Check back in another 5+ years for the post where I share the new shoes I had to purchase because all of these pooped out on me!
I’m going to be candidly honest. Over the past year or so, I have accumulated a little extra insulation. Over 20 pounds worth…Partly due to my own bad habits and partly due to some thyroid issues I’ve been working with doctors on over the past couple of years.
It has been difficult for me to adjust to this new body. I continue to shove my new body into old clothes which is just no good for my already sinking confidence. I keep saying to myself the weight will come off soon enough, like it always does. But it seems to like its new home…
Until I can get my lifestyle worked out and bring a lot more healthy habits into my life, I’ve chosen to look for staple clothing pieces in a larger size so I don’t feel like a loaf of bread overflowing its pan in everything I own!
I was forced into purchasing my first new staple piece, jeans, because 1) the one pair I was down to physically hurt to wear, and 2) I bent down to pick up a box and a hole ripped in the knee. (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji here.) It was truly only a matter of time before something burst open…I’m happy it was at my knee since I was at work.
On the evening of the jeans explosion, Joel went along with me to Plato’s Closet to look for a new pair. It is jeans day at work until after the new year, so I had to find something. Plato’s always comes through for me and this visit was no exception. I tried on four different pairs in larger sizes than I have purchased in the past and found my favorite jeans EVER.
These. Jeans. Old Navy Rock Star Mid-Rise Jeans.
To make things even better – they were only 8 DOLLARS! Are you kidding me with this? They are stretchy but have a traditional jeans structure/feel – a step above jeggings. They go up a little higher on my tummy/lower back, which I am all about right now. I really like the dark wash. And the best part? They don’t hurt me when I button them up!
I wore them to work the day after purchasing and I felt like a million bucks. I didn’t need to twist, turn, and suck in certain parts of myself to feel comfortable with my outfit because what I was wearing FIT ME. I actually wore them with a short turtleneck from Goodwill, something I would not have done with my previous pair of jeans, and felt so confident!
With a bandana (that I found in our garage when we moved in) and a pair of ankle boots (from Old Navy that I have had for years) my outfit was complete. I felt like a completely different person.
We must be gentle with ourselves in times when our body image may not be at its peak. There is a level of acceptance that needs to take place at every stage, which is different for everyone.
Even though I may not feel comfortable with my body right now (a lot of the discomfort also comes from accepting the fact that I’m not honoring my body the way I should), I am grateful to it for keeping me alive. Getting me around. Sheltering my mind and soul (and internal organs!). It deserves to be appreciated at the very least. And if I have to go up a jeans size (or two), that’s OK. I am honoring my body as it is in this season, and clothing it in a way that is now comfortable – both physically and emotionally.
When I remember to do it, I'll post photos of me actually wearing thrifted items I find! Here's me before heading off to work in the blazer and pants from my recent Goodwill haul:
I usually buy blazers a size too small. I never need them to button because with my bust size, they look silly worn that way. The "correct" size for me also tends to have sleeves that are too long, so I look like I'm a kid wearing my mother's clothing! I wear blazers to add shape to an outfit. I adore a shrunken blazer with an oversized dress or shirt, sometimes with a thin belt around the smallest part of my waist, just below the bust. This adds an extra level of interest and even more definition to my body shape. My body is of the "potato" shape family, so I have to use smoke and mirrors to create a waist!
I also appreciate a good ankle pant. This is my pant style of choice. I like the retro feel of them (Audrey Hepburn-esque) and they look great with flats or heels. I also feel like this type of pant, which normally flares out slightly at the bottom, helps balance out my body.
These recently thrifted items are neutral, so go great with a wide range of clothing I already have in my closet, like this sweater and pair of snakeskin flats. I'm always freezing at work, so wearing a sweater with the vintage wool blazer kept me a comfortable level of toasty all day. I sit for a bulk of my job. The pants do stretch a bit, but not to the point of getting saggy.
Overall, I'm very pleased with these items. I feel that for being secondhand, they look just as professional as items that are brand new off the rack! Always remember to give thrift shops a chance before shopping new. I think you'd be surprised by what you can find if you take time to look!
Also, here's a look at my flats (very old from Target) and a close-up on the yummy textures of the clothing garments. Cozy neutrals forever!
After admiring Style Encore on Instagram for a few months, I knew I had to make time for a visit. I got off work early on a recent Friday afternoon so took that as my chance!
From the photos on their social media page, my hopes were set pretty high. They exceeded my expectations! After I was finished, I walked towards the car (where Joel was waiting for me) with a huge smile on my face. When he asked me how it was, I said, "I don't remember, I blacked out!" That's how good it was.
What drew me in on this particular day, aside from having the extra time, was the sale they had going on. To give you an idea of how good it was, here are a few of the deals they had going on their clearance clothing: Blazers - $5, Long Sleeve Tops - $3, Jewelry - $1. That's cheaper than Goodwill in a lot of cases!
Since I am a blazer addict, I picked up two. The first one pictured is from Express. The second is from Chicos.
I found a couple of great tops that will be good for both work and casual wear. Check out the label that was on the black top. Loved it!
I'm not a huge jewelry person, but at $1 each, I felt good about taking a chance on some trendy pieces. The necklace is great, I wore it immediately the next day. I think the earrings are adorable. Little flashy, but the neutral tone made them doable for me.
I got all of this for under $20. Understand why I blacked out now? I thought so!
I'll definitely be back, there is no question about that. Even though I scored from the sale, their regular prices are still really good, especially since they seem to be super selective about their items and most are name brand or designer.