Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How I learned to dress for my body

For years, I would find myself skipping over the sections in magazines that explained your body shape and how to dress for it. Are you an Apple? Pear? Or Diamond? What if you were a little bit of apple and pear with a hint of diamond? I have never able to relate.  But this bothered me because I really wanted the tips.

I revisited this idea recently to see if my perspective or body has changed. I still don't fall neatly into a category. But something did change. There was a comfort in knowing I wasn't boxed into a style or color category. Instead, I gained confidence knowing how to choose what is right for me, regardless of what the guides say.

Let's be clear: I don't have anything against these guides because that's just what they are; guides. I don't think they are meant to be taken literally and often times some of  the tips are actually very helpful if you are able to translate it properly to your own body.  Sometimes I'm like "hell yeah, chart,  you were so right," and other times they completely miss the mark. For example, I don't think  women should follow the rule of  loose fitting clothing to "hide their fullness" and completely agree with the charts that tell you to embrace prints, wear fitted clothing and gasp! accentuate your full body with a wrap dress.

I think the key is not to put ourselves in a specific category all the time. It's important to try not to completely eliminate a style because these guides or Pinterest tells us so.

The thing is, I'm wearing the biggest size since college. I'm not at my thinnest and have a good 30 pounds to lose before I'm actually healthy again. So I'm certainly not completely at peace with my body.  Through trial and some terrifying errors though, I've been able to gain the confidence and comfort in knowing how to choose what's right for me.

If I had to strip it all down to the basics, it came down to this:

Trying things and not being afraid to fail at them:
First I made a conscious effort to note what I've personally found works and doesn't work for my body. This meant being totally honest with myself about my comfort level and build. I'm short, curvy in some places, small boned in other areas, and my weight has fluctuated pretty drastically over the  last decade. Being honest with myself eliminated the stress of trying to squeeze into a junior's top when I really wasn't a junior's size.

Practice, Practice, Practice
How do you get good at anything? You practice till you get it right. Comfort and style don't  just happen, it takes a little effort. This meant spending a lot of time trying on clothes and returning things at the store and being okay with that. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all stylists and this all came naturally to us? Instead, I sought inspiration everywhere and spent time in my closet putting things together.

Evaluate your progress.
I took pictures of my outfits and evaluate them (and still do).  I send pictures to my sisters and ask questions. And even more effectively, I actually write down what I liked and didn't like after a long day in an outfit so I can remember how and why I felt about something. The days I found myself physically uncomfortable in something even though it was trendy or cute, I made note so the next time I cleaned out my closet or re-evaluated my wardrobe, I remembered how I felt in that outfit.

And most importantly, I stopped feeling pressured to wear something I really didn't want to wear deep down inside.

For example, I realized that ankle pants make me look more streamlined,  rolling up my sleeves makes me feel comfortable because the sleeves are always way too long. Though I'm not supposed to emphasize my mid-section and bottom half, I actually love printed skirts and adore fitted midi dresses. I feel beautiful in off-the-shoulder clothing and cropped jackets seem to work for me. I'm also not supposed to wear wide-leg jeans but will never get rid of my $5 find. I don't feel comfortable in fitted tops and prefer flowy ones for practical reasons. And the list goes on...

However, With all that said, it's also very important to keep an open mind to branch out, at least once. I always tell my clients at our Goodwill personal thrift style sessions to be open to at least one new thing. If you feel awful in it, then you can at least say you tried it on and gave it a shot.  You'd be surprised at what you find. I used to always skip over fitted dresses because style guides say I shouldn't dare wear dresses that hug my body because of my not-so-flat midsection. But I feel confident as ever in a fitted dress.

How has this helped me? 
I've been able to save money knowing that a certain style doesn't work for me and I stopped forcing things to work. Shopping and getting dressed has gotten so much easier over the last ten years.
 I've spent a lot of time and money on trends (ex. faux leather leggings) because I really liked the idea of them and loved the way they looked on other people. But the reality was they didn't work for me - and not because these charts told me they weren't for me, but because I felt uncomfortable and unproductive in them. I don't feel comfortable in shorts because they just ride up and I get tired of pulling them down all day. I think stilettos are classic and timeless but find them extremely impractical and uncomfortable and would rather rock a stacked heel or wedge all day.

To me, style and dressing for your body boils down to two things: comfort and confidence. If you don't feel comfortable in your clothes, it's going to show. And if you feel good in your clothes, it's also going to show. And confidence is contagious as hell so let's all start spreading it around. 

Outfit details:
Blazer | Thrifted | $7 | Shop Simliar
Jeans | Target | $30
Shirt | Old Navy | $11
Shoes | DSW | $30 | Shop Similar

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to thrift and wear a trench coat

I'll never forget the first trench coat I bought nine years ago. My friend convinced me it would be a purchase I wouldn't regret because it would be an item I will wear for years to come. Nine years later, I still wear it every spring and fall. That's exactly why I included a trench or utility jacket as April's prompt for the 12 Months of Thrifting challenge.

First, let's define a few fashion terms. A trench coat is a lightweight rain jacket, often lined on the inside.  Originally worn by officers in the army, trench coats have been around for many decades. They are classy and timeless.  A utility jacket is a military inspired cargo jacket. They often come in hunter green and tan. Because trench coats are such classic fashion pieces,  you will always be able to find them secondhand. Although utility jackets emerged much later as an everyday trend, you can still find plenty of utility jackets but maybe not as easily as a trench coat.

How to thrift a trench coat

  • A good fit: This is an item you're going to have for many seasons so look for a classic fit. I try to stay away from  embellishments or trendy features. Classic style trench coats will have a belt but you can also find some modern styles without belts.  Trench coats look best when they fit properly. You want to be able to wear it open or tied with its belt comfortably. If you have trouble finding the right fit, consider thrifting a jacket and having it altered. This is one of those items where alterations are worth it, since this is going to get a lot of wear. 
  • Shop vintage: Vintage styles are also readily available at Goodwill. Play around with these styles and see how you can incorporate them in your wardrobe. Vintage styles run bigger and are a little boxier. 
  • Check out the men's section: the men's section has a huge variety of jackets and are especially great for those who need a little extra room in their coat. 

A neutral trench is a must-have for any wardrobe. It's classic and styling it is truly a no brainer.  I also seek out pretty spring colors like pink, green, and blue to brighten up a simple outfit.

How to wear a trench
A trench is such beautiful and structured piece that it often becomes the focal point of your outfit. It's the last piece you wear that ties everything together. The beauty of the jacket is that it can be dressed up or down. Here, I wore my $6 cobalt blue trench from Goodwill Akron with distressed jeans on the weekend and with a sweater dress for work. Make sure the trench hits right at the hem of your dress or skirt for a more streamlined look.

You want your trench to be perfect so be patient until you find the right fit. Already thrifted a trench? Show us how you styled it by using the hashtag #12MonthsofThrifting. Next month we're thrifting a maxi skirt or dress to usher in summer!

Outfit Details: 
Jacket | Goodwill | $6
Jeans | Target | $30
Shoes | Target | $11
Shirt | Old Navy | $11

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Style File: Cat Eye Sunglasses

There are so many retro and vintage style sunglasses coming back and these Cateye Retro Cat Eye Sunglasses have to be one of my favorites for warmer weather. It only took me about five minutes to sit on them in my car. That's exactly why I don't spend more than $10 on sunglasses. Who's with me?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thrift Night Out

Join us at the next Thrift Night Out at Goodwill Akron on May 7 during Goodwill Week.

We’ll start the evening at Goodwill Akron on Waterloo Rd. with a lively presentation where I will share my best thrifty tips for creating a stylish home and wardrobe. I’ll teach you the basics of thrift shopping and how to find things at the thrift store like this dress, this coat, this shelf, or how to replicate your favorite celebrity and Pinterest outfits.  After the workshop, we’ll hit the racks and fill our carts with amazing thrift finds! To get prepared for the night, put together a list of items you’ve been wanting to buy for your wardrobe or home, then I will help you try and find them at Goodwill.

Light dinner will be provided by Goodwill. The event is free. Bring a friend for a night of thrifting fun!

Date: May 7, 2016
Time: 6:00 dinner and workshop / 7pm shopping in store
Location: Goodwill | 570 East Waterloo Road | Akron, OH 44319
Register Here

Saturday, April 9, 2016

#12MonthsofThrifting: Reader Round Up

We're wrapping up the third month of the #12MonthsofThriftingChallenge. This challenge is designed to help you build a thrifted wardrobe, piece-by-piece over the upcoming year. Each prompt represents a staple item you can wear for seasons to come. In January, we set out to thrift a cozy sweater from Goodwill Akron. In February, I shared my favorite tips to thrift a striped shirt, and in March we focused on thrifting an essential blazer.  I encourage you to submit your photos throughout the course of the month using the tag #12MonthsofThrifting. We love to hear your techniques and thrifty tips. If you're local, tag @goodwillakron in your photos! 

Here's how you all wore your blazers!

Janine thrifted this blazer for $5. 

Love Tara's layering!

Carly knocked two #12MonthsofThrifting essentials in this outfit; stripes and a black blazer. Double score.

A photo posted by Carly (@gracenote30) on

Lastly, here's my take on a $4 Madewell blazer

See more on social media by searching the #12MonthsofThrifting tag. April's prompt is one of my absolute favorites: trench or utility coats. Check back for tips on how to thrift and style these pieces.