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.
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!
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.
I love the changing of seasons for many reasons, but updating my wardrobe is the best part!
Below I shared a few Fall inspired outfits I’m excited to pull together this year! I’m hoping to thrift a few new pieces, get myself a brimmed hat, and rock a pair of tall boots. I’m into the cozy/sexy vibe of many of these outfits. Balancing oversized pieces with tighter ones, maybe showing a flash of skin here or there.
I’m equally obsessed with all of these looks. Which one will you try out? Tell me in the comments!
Take a breath before buying new!
It was a good weekend for thrifting at Goodwill in La Crosse, Wisconsin!
I wanted to share a few pieces of clothing I found as well as a couple of home décor items I couldn’t pass up.
Sheer Top - $2.50 (50% off clearance item – extra score)
I instantly fell in love with this top. The color is great and the fit is perfect. I will pair this with a black tank top and skinny jeans.
Vintage Wool Blazer - $11.99
The reason this was a little pricier is because it came with a wool skirt that unfortunately didn’t fit me…darn women from the past having smaller waists than we do now…and darn me for allowing a little too much cushion to form around my mid-section! Anyway – the blazer fit me so well it was worth taking the skirt that didn’t. (I'll probably use the skirt for an upcoming DIY project!) This blazer will be great for throwing over just about anything to add some shape, but my original plan is to wear it with the dress pants shown below.
Dress Pants - $5.99
These pants are a Target brand. Really well made, good fit, and are pixie cut – my favorite! They have good stretch to them as well, so I feel like I’ll be able to hold onto these for a long time. They are casual enough to wear with a t-shirt and can be dressed up with the blazer pictured above (after the wrinkles are ironed out of course).
Fall Table Cover - $3.99
I am living for the color pallet of this table cover! What a great décor piece to transition our home from summer to fall. It looks really nice in our dining room alongside some light blue and teal accent pieces I have collected.
Afghan - $1.99 (clearance item – extra score)
What is better than an oversized afghan as it starts to get chilly outside? Not much. I plan to use this afghan for Fall outdoor parties we host, but it has already made its way into our living room…so I think it is already a family favorite!
Joel and I spent a full day going to stores that offered both old and new items while in La Crosse. We hesitated on buying new items because we know we can normally find something less expensive from a thrift shop.
When shopping, especially when it’s aimlessly, try to practice patience. It’s better for the environment and your pocketbook to buy secondhand items. In many cases, what you find at a thrift shop can be close to if not brand new. I now normally go to retail stores that offer new items to look for inspiration. What’s in now that I could put my own twist on with thrifted finds? It brings more creativity into your wardrobe and has made me more excited about putting outfits together.
Sometimes I can’t resist a new piece because brand spanking new is nice once in a while. But, I feel guilty immediately afterwards because I know if I had just taken some time to think the outfit through, I could have done better at a secondhand shop. That’s just life. Resisting temptation isn’t any fun, right?!
I also like to think this way when faced with buying new items: There was a new shirt at one of the stores we visited that was $25.00. For about that same amount – I got five items at Goodwill. Spreading the joy around not only within my wardrobe but our home as well.
What are some of your favorite recent thrift store finds? Where do you like to go? I need some new Iowa shops to visit!
Although it's still August, that hasn't stopped me from thinking ahead to Fall. Because you know, I'm THAT girl!
How can I help it when I ran across this combo at WalMart?
I'm a huge fan of mustard, so the pants were a must. For some reason, peplum tops have never spoken to me, but a peplum top with a flower print, I can get into that!
Both pieces are really comfortable. The shirt is loose and flowy. I've gained a bit of weight over the past few months so I appreciate how forgiving it is. It is also a little bit longer, which I like, especially with a tighter pant. I am going back and buying the pants in EVERY color available. They are stretchy and forgiving and hit at the ankle - my favorite pant length. The fabric is really nice so these pants can easily transition between casual to business wear.
Unfortunately, neither of the items I found are available online!! So here's what I can tell you:
Here's a little bit more of a close-up with my fashion assistant:
If you were to buy similar items (including the booties I'm wearing, which I got at Old Navy and have had for years - always shop your closet first!) at a place like Maurices, instead of $22, you'd look at spending over $117!
Each of these items look super close to what I found for WAY cheaper at WalMart! Yet another reminder to thrift or look in stores that normally offer good products for low prices. I've watched WalMart's fashion evolve and I feel that right now is a really good time to keep your eye on them for fashionable, reasonably priced items if you're looking for something new vs. used.
Happy deal finding my fellow fashionistas!
For background about my Outfit Imitation series, click here!
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
One of my biggest personal goals is to lead a more sustainable life. Rethinking. Reusing. Repurposing. A place I have really been honing in on is my closet. What do I really need? What can I rework into a new look? What can I use for something entirely different?
Because of this, I wanted to rethink this area of my blog. I don't necessarily want to encourage readers to go out and buy brand new things. Because that's not what I do. If I see something new I like, I normally ask myself, "Can I find it used or can I create it myself?" Many of my fashion posts already feature items that can't be linked because they're not new. They're deep discount or thrift shop finds that I've had for years.
I'm going to start a new series called "Outfit Imitation." The only new items you'll see featured in this series will be included in the outfits I'm copying because they inspire me! I'll visit a variety of different thrift shops to create the looks I'm after and share all of the details with you.
I can only hope that through this series others will begin looking at used clothing or the pieces they already have in a different way, finding that imitating the items we think we "NEED to have fresh of the rack" can provide the same level of satisfaction, if not more.
The first outfit I'm imitating is from my previous post about LOFT:
I love this outfit because it's very much my style. A long skirt belted at the waist with an oversize cardigan is my dream uniform for the upcoming winter months.
In one stop at the Crossroads Goodwill in Waterloo, I was able to find all of the pieces I needed to duplicate this outfit:
Here's more of a close up:
The total cost for the cardigan, belt, skirt and shoes was $15.50. If I were to purchase all of the items pictured in the LOFT photo, I would have been out around $300!
When I'm "over" this look, it will return to circulation in a thrift store for someone else to discover and love. It gives me happy feels when I think about clothing having a long life span with several different owners. It's pretty special when you think about what an important role clothing plays in how we express and feel about ourselves.
Show me what outfits are inspiring YOU. I'd love to see the thrift store gems you find to recreate your favorite looks! Tag me on Instagram (@countrywrennest) or email me at email@example.com. I'll feature any looks I'm sent on the blog within this new series!
I've seen ads for LOFT all my life, mostly in magazines. Nice stuff, but I never paid close attention. I recently visited Tanger Outlets in Williamsburg, Iowa with my aunt, Rachel, and stopped by the LOFT store. It was great!
I really loved the variety of clothing they had. Most of it would be considered professional wear, but because that's something that is hard to come by anymore, I got really excited. I always have a hard time finding structured professional clothing that doesn't look "old." I'm a young professional and want to express myself with fun colors, prints and cuts!
I also think that a lot of their pieces could go from day to night really easily. They show a lot of their items paired with jeans and it creates a really polished look.
Here are a few of my favorite pieces from their online collection:
They're slightly out of my price range, which probably explains why I haven't bought anything from them before. But, if I'm looking for a special piece, I know where I'll look. Until then, I'll just draw styling inspiration from them so I can wear my thrifted finds in new ways!
Although I like really busy (normally floral) prints and bright colors, there are times when I love pairing classic black and white pieces.
Truly, nothing beats a tailored button-up tucked into pixie pants that fit just right. I wore this outfit to work and felt effortlessly pulled together.
The shirt was given to me, the pants are from Old Navy, and the flats are from JCPenney. All three pieces are items you can find anywhere, at anytime. If you enjoy thrifting, I can guarantee you could pull together a look similar to this at a place like Stuff Store or Goodwill.
Here's a closer look:
If you're like me and gravitate towards the "wild side" of fashion - don't forget that classic pieces of clothing exist for a reason - they are timeless examples of how to look chic at any age, during any period in time!