Sunday, January 20, 2013

Closet Revival - What Happens When You Work With What You've Got


I've fallen victim to that "thing" lately where I'm very sure I have nothing in the world to wear. The timing couldn't be worse.

I was never a frequent shopper or a big spender, but if I was near Old Navy I would stop in and TJ Maxx was my secret lover. I used to stalk clearance racks and buy skinny cords on J Crew's Final Sale annually for $20 a pop.

Yeesh, don't even get me started on J Crew. There was a day when I wouldn't think of going "home" to Ohio without fitting in a J Crew outlet run.

More and more, I've learned to stay away. I've forced myself to stay away. Because as Howard the cat is my witness, I cannot go into one of my favorite stores without walking back out with something in my claws. It's a proven fact.

I can't pinpoint exactly when all of this started to change for me. I have a hunch it was somewhere around March 2012 when I read Jen Hatmaker's book 7. Dang that girl.

Then we moved and reallocated our funds and suddenly, there's just no room in the budget for surprise stripes or impromptu plaid.

A month or so ago I started to tell myself that I deserved to do a little damage. Just the tiniest bit. One hit. A quick fix.

But the strangest thing happened. I started to see what I already have with fresh eyes. And I realized all over again that it's not about needing "something", it's about wanting something new. Different.

If you remember nothing else that I ever say, remember this: Layers are your BFF. They will surprise you, energize you. They will inspire you and make you feel like the genius that you most certainly are not.





 Exhibit A
 I bought the jeans six months ago at TJ Maxx with a store credit. I could elaborate, but I'll only say this: fate smiled at me that day.

The rest of the outfit pre-dates my youngest child.
The button-down and t-shirt pre-date my oldest child.

I dare you to layer a button-down under a t-shirt under a cardigan under a blazer.
You will emerge feeling brand new.
You will emerge with limited range of motion in your rotating joints.

{The bag: my friend Jason Loper made this bag. I can't stop carrying it. It's roomy with a contrasting liner. I can sling it on messenger-style. Adore-adore-adore it. Pretty sure it's no longer available, so go on and hate me.}

Layering tips: Pull button-down cuffs out of the blazer. If you have a lining in your blazer or jacket, roll it! Instant texture and funk. The goal is, lots of layers in lots of places. A bunch of random bracelets tops it off.

Exhibit B

You may have already seen this, but bear with me, because it seemed like the dawning of a new age when I thought of layering this long stripey T under a fleece jacket then topping it with something super fancy.

Juxtapose, baby.

If you worry that it's all wrong, it's probably just right.

 Just gonna put this out there - it's awkward posing for pictures like this.
Also? Cold.
I get impatient and sometimes it shows.
I never know what to do with my arms.

My neighbors across the street are always watching.
It's...uncomfortable when I stand just outside the front door and Cory takes pictures from the porch.
Mostly for them.

Also? My eyes aren't in Kansas anymore.
Reality has come knocking.
 
Exhibit C

Stripes (always, always, always stripes!) with plaid.

Then, what the heck? Tie a 25-cent thrift-store table runner around your neck and pin it down with a weirdo vintage button.

But don't forget the belt! Tuck just 1/3 of the front of your shirt in and let some belt peek out. In a perfect world, it matches nothing else you're wearing.

Sidenote: I bought the jacket 12 years ago at TJ Maxx. Tawelva. When I brought it home my mom laughed hysterically and asked if it was for a 2 year old.

This clearly isn't rocket science. It's not even 7th grade Intro. to Physical Science.


The truth is, most of the time I'm not too worried about all of this. If you know me in real life you question my taste on a regular basis. You wonder why I've given up. You wonder why I had you over for potato soup and I was wearing the blue shirt over the gray shirt, then the next day I blogged about the Chinese Buffet and there I was, wearing it again. You wonder if I might have worn it a third day. (You wondered right.)

Again, I blame Jen.

In the midst of my closet revival I started thinking, This is it! I shan't make another purchase for the rest of the month, nay, the season!

Then I made a fateful trip to Old Navy to buy Cory a pair of much-needed jeans and walked away with a $7 sequined tank. It happens.

So, I'm not making any big proclamations tonight. I'm just here to advocate for looking twice when you believe you haven't got a thing to wear.


Let's wear something ever-so-slightly crazy tomorrow, wanna?? I've so got your back.



*7 link is an Amazon affiliate link.

68 comments:

  1. laughing and nodding along. JUST finished reading 7 and I have an actual physical revulsion to even being in a mall or thinking about spending money on clothing. thank you for the inspiration to work with what you've got.

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  2. Okay, so I am 34 weeks pregnant and you are screaming at me!!! I REALLY feel that I have nothing to wear....that fully covers the belly anyways! Maybe you could raid my closet and pull some things together for me. Wouldn't that be grand? ;) You are just too adorable. xo

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  3. I adore your style. Seriously. I always find it amazing how you can make a t-shirt and jeans look so fabulous. You're a fashion natural, table runner and all!

    I have a whole bunch of hand-me-downs, and now you're inspiring me to try and rework the pieces. I'm in for tomorrow...crazy all the way. :-)

    ~FringeGirl

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  4. Hilly. Harry. Us.

    I wish you'd come spend 5 minutes in my closet. You would weep. 10 things for the Winter. TOPS. That is counting the jeans. I kid not. How could I?

    Come over. It's warmer here, and still sassy.

    xxoo

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    Replies
    1. LOL!
      come teach me your ways, homegirl.
      i need to purge like there's no tomorrow.
      pulleease!!!
      xo

      Delete
  5. I wouldn't even be know how to use a table runner to decorate in my house...much less around my neck! :-)

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  6. Girl, you do more with you quirky wardrobe than Heidi Klum does with her designer frocks. What a beautiful lady you are, just like a real life Cinderella. You help us live our best lives, grateful to our God for what we have and inspire us to be more for others. Your Mama must be so pleased to see who see helped create.

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  7. I especially love exhibit A!
    I'll give C second place and add that your being thin and tall doesn't help! Model!
    Can I tell you something? J Crew is one of the companies that donates closeouts to Goodwill...here anyway...I get lots of J.Crew and J. Jill there..new, unused.

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  8. WHOA hold everything...correct myself...being this and tall doesn't HURT...good grief :/

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  9. Anything I know about layers comes from you.

    I try to avoid those spots and even Target (especially). Kelly told me today we needed toilet paper "like yesterday." I asked if he would rather have a clean butt or a messed up budget. We both agreed the latter is worse.

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    Replies
    1. Dollar General is your friend when it comes to TP and milk! True story: I now have a Target about 6 minutes from my home. I haven't been in there since pre-Christmas. I almost never go in there because NOTHING good happens when I do!

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  10. My sister in law has an eye for the wonky. She can pull of the most ridiculous combinations of stuff. She said once she walked out into the living room before church wearing something extreme and her husband said, "What are you, a peacock?"
    We laugh about that. We use it when we are wearing something ridiculously amazingly crazy. "What are you, a peacock?"

    "Proud like like a peaCOCK baby, right my bologna?"- you know, 30 rock (best show ever)

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    Replies
    1. I am so glad someone mentioned 30 Rock! Your comment about not knowing what to do with your arms reminded me of an early episode when Jack was going to appear on TGS and he was terrible. He said something about not knowing what to do with his hands and then decided to hold two coffee cups because it felt more "natural."

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    2. ELBF: Jacktor!!!!!!! This is our favorite 30R episode of All Time! hahaha! I love the part when he can't figure out how to walk with his arms moving in a "natural" way.

      I heart JD!

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  11. Love that outfit in Exhibit A. And that cuff. Can I ask about the cuff? x

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  12. I love your layers...but let me just say that, unless one is as slim as you are, layers ARE NOT your friend. You slim folk take that for granted. If I put on the layers you have on, I would look like a sausage. I can only admire your layers and hope for someday (for the record, I am not obese or even really fat, but I am not slim like you. just saying..and I have almost finished "7" and It has screwed up my shopping mojo..in the best way possible.

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    Replies
    1. Okay, okay. I'm listening. BUT! I believe ALL can layer. Maybe not 4 layers. Perhaps not. But two thin layers? Yes you can! A table runner scarf? Why not!

      ;)

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  13. love it. and that ms hatmaker she gets us, doesn't she....gets us thinking and wondering and rethinking.
    today i was convinced i "needed" a new pair of jeans...so i stayed away from the shops and watched football instead. i do not need new jeans.

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  14. A. What color sequin tank? I got three of those puppies at the seven dollar price point.

    B. Table runner scarf. Fab.

    C. I still remember what you were wearing when we first met up at the gas station in Ohio. It was grey stripes and a mustardy colored necklace.

    D. Miss you, Farmgirl.

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    Replies
    1. I bought the gray shirt in exhibit C FOR OUR TRIP! That was the inaugural wearing.

      You're sharp as a tack, Farmgirl. I miss you back.

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  15. Girl, have I got things to say about THIS! I used to be a stylist (like 'what not to wear' but I was never mean. There's no reason to be mean! I digress...). Your layers are fab!! L to the O to the V to the E. It's key to throw in a punchy color which I will note you have done in each exhibit. See?! you're a natural. I love your style. You've inspired me to add an extra layer tomorrow. The table runner is just too cute. You could've said it was a scarf from Anthro and I would have believed ya.
    Confessional time: I'm afraid to read '7' because I love my stuff. I know it will change me (for the better) but...! It's a little scary. I only know myself the one way and that's the way I am now.

    Ps. stripes + plaid FOREVAH! My favorite pattern-on-pattern combo. Have you tried floral+stripes yet? It's giving plaid a run for his money.

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    Replies
    1. I die for florals and stripes. Years ago (like 10?) I came out for church in a small patterned aqua floral skirt (still have it) with a wide mustardy yellow striped t -- think rugby stripes. My sister took one look at me and died laughing. SUCCESS!!

      ;)

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  16. I am just thinking here...but I do believe you could wear a plastic garbage bag and make it look FANTASTIC! The thing I notice the most is that you are a master at wearing what looks GREAT for you and your youness (new word...your welcome). And...you do it with what is IN your closet. Brilliant. It took me a long time to figure out that when I felt like I need to go shopping what I really needed was to like my body that I was living in...not new jeans. That has been a long, hard journey. I have found that polka dots always help....always. =)

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  17. I find that I just continually wear the same things, regardless of what's in my closet. I gravitate back to La kozy Knits time and again.

    Point that must be made: you can layer four shirts and look amaze balls because you're so thin. If I did that, my blazer would not fit and I'd look like roly poly turkey.

    I've also worn the same thing a few days in a row... My neighbors know! I've wondered if they wonder why I'm always wearing the same black leggings... I do wash them , and perhaps that is enough. ;)

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  18. I think you are totally spot-on about the desire for newness - it's boredom of what we already have and wanting the frisson of something unfamiliar and new - but the dumb thing is I find that thrill is over the first time I wear it! So mixing up the old stuff in new ways makes sense to me - I am now eying up my tablecloths but fear it may only be you that can wear a table runner so elegantly! Love to you, Bx

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    Replies
    1. I agree! You wear it once, the magic is gone, and then you're right back where you started. When I do shop now I try really hard to ONLY buy what I love and what I know will work with other things. I have wasted SO much money over the years buying "cheap" stuff that I don't really love!

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  19. I smiled through this whole post. Oh Jen Hatmaker, for the love! Yep, rocked my world too.
    I love the layers and the boots but my problem is range of motion.... Sister cannot move my arms enough to bend down and pick up one of my babies. I try, oh do I try.

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  20. All your outfits and tips- maaahvekous!

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  21. Adorable! Wish I could even attempt to pull it off.

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  22. You are so cute! When we moved back home a few months ago, I got rid of a lot of clothing. I don't buy much, ever. too cheap. I have scrubs and turtlenecks that are 10 years old, so I gave myself permission to purge. Problem is- now I have nothing. BUT- I have Kohl's gift certificate in my purse, and I'm going to be choosy! And cool- like you. Sorta.

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  23. That gotta go shopping feeling is like a whispered craving ... it starts somewhere deep in my belly and spreads upward to my brain ... I know exactly what you're talking about. I WILL try layers this week - right after I confess I did some markdown shopping at both TJ Maxx and Target.

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  24. I just love you!! And your quirky style!!!! You've got the magic touch sista!!!!!!

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  25. I am totally good with your style, but my body is not in the right shape...right now. I'm working on that! I am all about polka spots and stripes and florals and animals and any thing. I love polka spots!

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  26. You are too cute!
    I hate to shop. Always have. I never really do shop, and now it shows. I believe I have some style, other than the one pair of jeans, hoodies, and converse. I just need to go get some stuff.
    Blah.
    Totally afraid someone is going to submit me to What Not To Wear.

    -Angie

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  27. Yay! Good for you! I had to cut out my thrift store addiction there for a while too. It was as bad as any J Crew addiction, even though the prices are obviously not the same. It's a bit more in control now and the other day I went and spent my Christmas money there and restocked my wardrobe. It was fantastical fun and now I've got all these ideas you just gave me which should give me some new looks on top of my second hand new looks!!!

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  28. You always look cute :) If I were a little girl like you I would be a layer queen too!!

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  29. Love this! My step-mom (whom I adore and has great fashion sense) taught me to shop-the-closet when I am wanting something new. This essentially is going into your own closet with the pretense that you are actually in your favorite store (throw in J Crew here), seeing your own clothes and accesories with the eyes of a fashion merchandiser and coming out with something "new." Basically the same concept you just described in looking at your already existing pieces differently and putting them together in new exciting ways. We also look at the fashion catalogs new clothing lines and see how they are putting outfits together and then recreate those things using stuff we already have. It's fun to do and saves oh so much money to boot! Loved all your outfit combos. Thanks so much for sharing! :-)

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  30. I have two friends who didn't buy clothes in 2012. At all. One even expanded it to include all accessories. I am amazed at their willpower.

    I think most times my dissatisfaction with my wardrobe is because I am not creative enough. There are plenty of clothes in there. So I'm taking your tips with me to my closet this week. We'll see what I come up with.

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  31. hello!
    you are adorable and i'm TOTALLY up for layering.
    but alas, my over active sweat glands are not.
    give me THREE minutes with a long sleeve shirt and blazer and all eyes are on the ginormica sweat rings protruding with their beady little eyes. gross, i know.
    uh....."tissue please"!
    i speak truth. and yes, i wear deoderant.
    how do you cute people do this? :)
    xoxo
    again, you are the cutest!

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  32. Your words and the way you juxtapose them make me happydance. Thank you! Plus I can finally be a fashion girl now. You've helped!

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  33. Yes you skinny pickle you look fab....in ALL of it!

    I don't feel skinny in layers. I will try though. For you. After all, fashion advice is fashion advice.

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  34. You're so stinkin adorable! Although all those layers make me think your elbows are stuck in a barbie-like position.

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  35. You are speakin' my language!!!! I think sometimes it takes some of us reading "7" or going through a financial "crisis" to realize that you can work with what you have and something new here and there won't hurt a girl BUT the lots of somethings new all the time will hurt! I truly believe that you can pull off some fab stuff that I might not be able to, howeva, I have changed my thinking, buckled down a bit and you know what!? GOD honors that and he blesses us fashionistas!!! I got a shopping spree with my work posse this last Friday and spent a couple Ben Franklins :-) I spent cash only and let me tell you another thing, parting with the cash hurts alot more and you think and ponder and pace over whether or the not the cardi is worth it!!! I had a blast being thrifty and buying staple pieces and fun inexpensive pieces! I admire your passion about fashion!
    xoxo
    heather p

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  36. Well, anything looks good on a skinny gal. ;) Layers are not your BFF if you are chuffy. ;) Love all your outfits though!! I have lots of clothes...now if I could just lose weight to wear them. =P

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  37. I LOVE all your just-put-together outfits! Random pieces can all come together and look like they were meant to be together : )

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  38. Table runner. You go girl.
    Tawelva. Reminds me of Tawanda? (Fried Green Tomatoes,of course)Say them together. It's fun.
    Your mom cracking up.
    The blazer for a two year old.
    Hilarious.

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  39. Love the TABLE RUNNER!! Guuurl, you WORK those layers! ;)
    Totally in one of those weird fashion ruts lately, so thanks for the inspiration! I will be shopping my closet (and table decor) promptly upon returning home this afternoon. I plan to layer with abandon and to "emerge with limited range of motion in my rotating joints".
    xo
    -Shaina

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  40. well, i am a consistent sock-layerer. stripes w polkas, a herringbone thrown in if i'm feeling saucy. can that get me a day-pass into the Land of the Hip and Fashionable? of course, maybe it's all for naught since one cannot actually SEE my layers beneath my jeans...but i'm bold with the undergarments, WATCHOUT.

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  41. I was laughing SO HARD at the table runner! I am a thrift store crazy person but I have NO talent at putting together what I bring home in the cute way that you do!

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  42. i love layering, always have. amen!
    haven't bought clothes for months, and my closet is sad.
    i feel like i need a thrifted table runner for my neck, maybe?

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  43. I really do appreciate you sharing your journey through all this. I was asking the other day HOW to stop nickle and diming us to death...I physically cannot go into target or tj Maxx or even Walmart without putting a $3 candle or clearance shirt or something. So basically I have stopped going into stores as much as possible. I'm getting a lot of groceries from azure standard, amazon and aldi. I just need to stay out!!! And sometimes people don't understand this.

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  44. I suspect we can all agree that all clothes look better on tall and skinny but I think no matter your shape, if what you're wearing is interesting and pretty and especially if it draws your eye away from what you're trying to hide it's successful. The last thing I need are few clothes that don't hide what's underneath! So, although I'm not skinny nor young I'm going to remember your rules.

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  45. GREAT POST:)
    Your blog is so wonderful and Im following...I hope you follow me also:)

    If you want some cute swedish decor inspiration...check out my blog:)

    Have a great day dear

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis.se
    (sweden)

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  46. I'll wear a shirt three days in a row. What's wrong with that??? ;)

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  47. I LOVE your style! It's not my style, it's yours. Although, it could be mine if I try :-D

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  48. i really love the necklace in exhibit A.=)

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  49. Oh you're just so cuteee!!! I have to tell you that Brooklyn is a style-loving trend setter. She will say things like "I can see Shannan wearing this." (Besides the clothes she has that you actually have worn :) ) Your style is so refreshing! And so are you! xo

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  50. Oh, hai. I just came across your site via Finding Magnolia. I like you. I think I'll stick around. Can you do this again when the sun blazes (equatorial living, you know) and tell me how to wear my clothing that I have dutifully dragged through three countries has been sitting at the back of three consecutive closets? Because I sure could use a little help.

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  51. goodness. so much GOODNESS here at this url. love it so much.

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  52. You are an inspiration! I am grateful for your example of woman with a heart seeking after God's things in big, bold ways, who still feels a bit weak in the knees at TJ Maxx. Thank you for your reminder that we have a lot, and your ideas about how to shake it up in interesting ways!

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  53. Please tell me about the leather cuff you are wearing? Where could I find one? X

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