This is going to seem like a really silly post to have on a page all about fashion, but I hope it inspires you to rethink your wardrobe.
I’ve been having a really tough time sitting with the fact that although Joel and I have done an awesome job getting rid of our stuff – we still have so much left. Especially when it comes to clothing. As thrifters and people who truly appreciate the things we purchase or inherit, especially things with history or special meaning behind them, it’s been easy for us to accumulate closets full of clothes. Particularly me. I had one full closet stuffed to the brim plus a few claimed shelves and hangers in Joel’s closet…and then there’s the clothing rack in the basement…and the shoes in the hallway closet…
I sat with the thought of totally gutting my closet for a few months. I read stories and watched videos of others liberating themselves by getting back to the basics in their wardrobes. Every single person said it was one of the best things they’ve ever done, although hard, totally worth it. With each story, I got one step closer to having the strength to dig into my own stash of too much clothing.
I chose a day that I would purge. One whole day when I had nothing else going on. I would clean out every clothing closet and take everything to a donation center immediately after. No hesitation. Bags in car. Car to center. Bags out of car. Easy.
I thought about following a closet “challenge.” Creating a capsule wardrobe, whittling my clothes down to a certain number, etc. – but I chose to do my own thing. If I hadn’t worn it, of course, good bye. If I had similar items, I chose one or got rid of them all. Trendy was out. Loud prints were out. Holes or stains, gone. Too small, never going to fit into it again, in the bag. Too big, I didn’t like wearing it but did anyway, buh-bye. My rampage also included shoes and accessories. Some pieces were easy to let go of. Others, not so much. If I had something for a long time, those were normally the items I hesitated on, but ultimately threw into the pile.
In total, I cut my wardrobe down by 60%. Let that sink in. I sure had to. I surprisingly didn’t cry. I felt relieved. I felt proud. I felt like I was practicing what I preach. Less stuff = more joy.
I kept classic basics. Timeless pieces that 1) will not go out of style and 2) could be mixed and matched. My process was as simple as that.
I feel happy for the clothing items I kept and for the pieces I gave away because now they’ll all live the life they were meant to live: to be seen.
I’m down to ONE spacious looking closet. There is room on shelves, there are gaps between hangers, and it’s a completely new, inspiring space for me now. Before, somehow I felt like I had nothing to wear. Now, the possibilities seem endless. I have so much fun mixing and matching some of my very favorite pieces that were hidden by mounds of other items competing for attention.
This sounds completely backwards, but if you really love fashion, I challenge you to give this a try. I’ll even hold your hand and hold the bags open if you need some support. You’ll take yourself back to the basics, to the pieces that truly make you love fashion, while putting your inner stylist to the test.
Taking bag after bag into the donation center relieved an invisible pressure from my chest. Looking into my simplified closet fills me with both appreciation for what I have and inspiration for what I can do with it. Less stuff = more joy. Repeat.
Here are a couple "after" photos!
For years I heard the name Zac Posen. “Who are you wearing? Zac Posen. Zac Posen. Zac Posen.” I didn’t really start following him until he became a judge on one of my favorite fashion reality shows, Project Runway. In my eyes, that show brought him into the mainstream, gained a ton of new visibility for his brand, and relaunched his House in a way that made him a true, respected “name in fashion.”
I’ve loved watching his style evolve from fitted, mermaid dresses to voluminous, classic gowns – and everything in between. The drama in his vision is outstanding. The draping. The volume. The color. Always classic. Always tasteful. Each gown worthy of a museum exhibit. Full of moments only he can achieve.
Over the years he has certainly found a look all his own. When you see his gowns – you know they’re his. No matter the era of his design, you can always tell that he understands womens’ bodies, aiming to compliment every inch and curve.
He has weathered some very difficult situations throughout his career, which was imminent given his early start in the business. Luckily, he came out on the other side better for it. You can learn more about his history by watching a new documentary about him called “House of Z.” I enjoyed every minute of it!
Here are just a couple of his most recent gowns I rank as some of my favorites. I’ve seen him take an interest in gardening/flowers over the past couple of years and I can see such a floral influence in his most recent designs. Not necessarily always in fabric print, but in shape and volume. A flower reinterpreted – reimagined – wilt-proof. I can’t tell you how much that concept excites me!
I believe the best is yet to come from this one! Also, in case you wondered - we are on our way to becoming BFFs!
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
In my new work role, the setting is much more casual than I am used to. More jeans days, which I was not quite prepared for with just one pair of jeans in my closet!
I'm not really a blue jeans person. Black jeans, leggings, skirts, shorts - that's more my style. In looking around for some denim inspiration, I ran across this outfit from Madewell:
Here's a cost rundown on what's pictured:
I never thought I would be into the denim on denim look. Others around me have pulled it off, I just thought I may look a little hokey. But there was something about this outfit that appealed to me, so I gave it a try.
I visited Plato's Closet in Waterloo with high hopes that I'd find everything I needed - and I did! I hadn't visited this location before. It is a little off the beaten path so I never think to go there, but am glad I stopped by.
Here are the brand and cost details on what I found:
I must say, I am completely sold on the denim on denim situation. I think as long as your denims are different shades, you're good to go. Makes it much less "Canadian Tuxedo"-ish!
I especially liked the cut of the jeans. I'm short and these hit me right at the ankle instead of pooling at my ankles like most jeans. The style was "Ankle Legging, Stella, Low Rise" for my fellow short girls out there!
The added cardigan makes this outfit super cozy, and the shoes will look great with pants, skirts, or shorts.
I wore this outfit the day after I got it, and then the next day (I made sure I was seeing different sets of people! Don't lie - you've done this, too!), and you better believe I'll be wearing it for my next jeans day at work.
For background about my Outfit Imitation series, click here!
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
It's the holiday season and that means it's TIME TO SPARKLE!
Although we don't have any plans for New Years Eve yet, I wanted to have something fabulous on hand just in case. Something sparkly.
I found just what I was looking for at Ann Taylor:
The total cost of this outfit is $365! I knew I could pull together a similar outfit for much less.
I set out for our local Stuff, Etc. store. Stuff tends to have higher prices than other thrift stores, but they also normally have better quality and name brand items because they run on consignment. For this type of outfit, I figured they'd be my best bet.
At first, I wasn't too thrilled with my finds. They had a pretty limited selection of skirts. Because of that, I wandered into their dresses. That's when things really started to come together!
I found a great soft pink and rose gold sequined dress to start:
Then I found this white cable knit sweater:
And to top it all off, I found the most beautiful and perfect (and maybe worn one time) Nine West rose gold metallic heels:
Just look at the combination of these three items together - SWOON - #goals #ootdeveryday #paletteperfection:
This outfit is EVERYTHING. I feel so lovely in it. I want to wear it everyday. Can I wear it everyday? Too much?
Wondering how I styled the sweater and dress? I made the dress into a skirt! The top of the dress was a light enough material that I simply folded it down inside the skirt and tucked the sweater in to mimic the look of the outfit I wanted to copy.
In total, this outfit cost me just $29! Although I think the dress will be reserved for special occasions, I can see myself wearing the sweater and heels on a regular basis.
I'm now ready to ring in the new year in style - even if we don't go anywhere - you better believe I'll be rocking this look!
If you'd like to learn more 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
I am NOT a lipstick person, but I recently discovered I AM a lip STAIN person!
I've wanted to change up my make up routine a little bit, especially when I have evening plans. So along with new eye shadow in a Fall palette, I picked up a lip stain from CVS Pharmacy to see how I liked it. The verdict was in immediately - loved it.
The option I chose was from Wet n Wild, which is traditionally know for being a "low end" make up line. I've always loved this line because the products are inexpensive but always on trend, so if you want to try something out without making a huge commitment, their products are perfect. I would put it up against any of the more expensive brands out there, especially after trying their lip stain.
The lip stain is easy to put on, stays on my lips (and off my teeth), keeps my lips moisturized and the rich color holds all night (or day) long without reapplying.
I chose the color "Truffle in Paradise" which is a deep berry color. They had options ranging from nude to pale pink and true red to dark brown.
If you're like me - looking for a pop of color on your lips but not one hundred percent sold on lipstick - I highly recommend trying lip stain. I'm obsessed with it and plan to expand my collection!
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!
I really like crop tops, but I've never felt like I could pull one off. I'm too "large," too "old," etc. Blah, blah, blah.
Well you know what. I gave a crop top a test run, and I loved it!
I didn't get too crazy with it, but for me, showing any amount of my stomach (outside of wearing a swimming suit) feels risqué!
The crop top I wore was actually a t-shirt knotted on the side to create the look of a crop top. I paired it with a full skirt that hit me in a very flattering part of my stomach. And although it's technically Fall around here, I wore a pair of black sandals because it was a nice, warm day out.
I especially loved the skirt. It is a vintage skirt I bought at an estate sale in Wisconsin this past Summer. It is a light, linen material, buttons up the front, and the print is gardening themed.
If you're like me, and have been hesitant to plunge into the crop top world - join me! No matter your size, age, etc., if styled correctly, a crop top can look good on anyone. I must say, I felt pretty confident, cute, and stylish - it was totally worth the risk!
I'm a Fall girl to my core, but I'm having a hard time accepting that Summer is almost over...Summer at The Farm is the best season. I think what I'll miss most is walking around barefoot in my garden.
To lift my spirits about the inevitable end of this lovely time of year, I put on my new floral dress and had a photo shoot!
This post is for styling inspiration only - I don't have outfit details - and here's why: The dress I am wearing came from a very unexpected place...the Gift Shop where I work, Covenant Medical Center! They have special order, "boutique" style clothing, so I have no idea how to tell you where to go for it! And the booties, I've had for years. They are awful to walk in (I almost broke my ankle walking in our yard with them) but they are one pair that I just can't part with. If I remember right, they were from Target.
I love how this dress is light and easy. It's just the right length and I love the peek-a-boo cutout in the front. I usually shy away from sleeveless dresses because I am insecure about my arms, but I made an exception for this dress! I picture myself transitioning it into winter by wearing an olive green cardigan, black tights and heels with it.
Here's a close-up of the print and of the booties:
Those booties are so cute though, right?! And here's one more, with our new family member, Homer, stealing the show!