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.
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.”
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.”
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 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!