Sunday, September 30, 2012

Win $25 to Zara from Shop & Twirl!

Hello, lovelies!

This week Miranda from the style blog Shop & Twirl is giving you a chance to win $25 to ZARA!
Oh how I wish I could win this.

At Shop & Twirl, Miranda features daily outfits that always have a cute twist or touch of spunk.  I mean, just check out her studded bow tie shoes in the picture above!

Visit her blog to say hi and to enter below!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shopping Mistakes I've Made

A couple of months ago I mentioned how I was cleansing my closet from a bunch of "mistakes" I'd made along the way.  Since then, handfuls of emails and comments have trickled in from you guys asking what those mistakes were because you wanted to avoid them too.

So, today I'm opening up to you all the reasons I wasted a bunch of money on the wrong pieces.  Embarrassing.  (Not really, don't worry.  But sad, yes.)  In exchange for exposing the skeletons in my closet, I'm asking you to take these to heart so that you don't waste money either.  Deal?  (And of course, ice cream or boba is always a welcome thank-you gift.)

Before the Mistakes
I started this blog in June 2011 to help me rework my wardrobe and my style.  If you've read the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series you might recall me saying that I was in a "jeans and cute top rut."  While my friends still thought my jeans-and-top outfits were cute, I had a collection of clothes instead of a workable wardrobe.  I also wanted to look slightly more sophisticated and adult-like but not too over the top for my very casual lifestyle.  (I mean, quite honestly, I wear a jersey dress with a belt and get asked why I'm so "dressed up.")

In reworking my style I experimented a lot, resulting in a lot of purchasing mistakes.  Through all that experimenting and trial and error I discovered the stuff I talk about in the BARW Series, but I was left with a lot of unworn clothes and a hole in my pocket to show for it!  And who likes wasting money?  Not moi.

So, let's talk about why I was buying the wrong stuff.

(source - image on left)

Not Specific Enough
First off, I did not have any guides like "How to Shop for Remixable Pieces" when I was making all of these mistakes.  If you use guidelines like that or anything that you've come up with on your own to guide you as you shop, then you're already 10 steps ahead of where I was.  I did have a list of items I was looking for, but that list wasn't specific enough.  My list looked something like this:
  • black blazer
  • skirt in a bright color
  • chambray top
So, I found a black blazer for $30 that fit well and looked great with jeans.  Hooray!--except when I tried to wear it with anything besides jeans.  The cut of the blazer was such that it was pointy at the bottom and slightly longer, going past my hips, and when I tried to wear it with shorts, skirts, or dresses, the blazer's pointy edges made the outfit look awkward as it just didn't work on my frame.  (The same blazer, however, looked great on Hannah's body shape with skirts and dresses.)  Dissatisfied, I searched for its replacement.  

Nowadays, my list would be very specific, like this:
  • black blazer 
    • rounded edges, hits at mid or upper hip, rounded shoulder pads vs winging out
    • works with skinny jeans, floral a-line skirt (or teal pencil skirt), and floral Target dress (based off of criteria in Shopping for Remixable Pieces from BARW)  
  • a-line skirt in a bright color
    • knee length or just above knee, sits at natural waist
    • can tuck a shirt into, can pair with _____, ______ and/or _______  (The blanks would be either a few different tops I wear often or three staple tops for different occasions, also from Part 2 of BARW.)
  • chambray top 
    • hits mid hip; holds structure under a sweater
    • pairs with floral dress, partially tucked with a belt and jeans, looks good tucked into skirt

This seems picky and anal and might not be your cup of tea.  I just cannot personally stand to see in my closet two very similar items next to each other--one being the bad purchase that I *sort of* like and the second being its replacement.  I cringe at wasted money.  I've learned my lesson the hard way--be picky on the front end.

Lesson: Make a List!
I do suggest you make some sort of list, even if it's not as detailed as mine.  This detailed list helps me stick to my guns.  My guess is that many of us can be "emotional shoppers," where our emotions take over logic.  During those moments when my emotions scream so loudly that all reason and logic has shut down, my list is the sanity check.  

Compromising on Fit, Style, or Quality
Aside from just not having a framework for what I was looking for, sometimes even when an item matched the specific descriptions on my list, I might have compromised in other areas like fit, style, or quality.  I usually compromise for two not-so-good reasons: 1) I give into the lie my emotions are telling me that I "NEED" some piece RIGHT NOW, or 2) price.  Many times I have bought an "almost it" version of what I was looking for rather than a this-is-so-perfectly-amazing-that-I-cannot-wait-to-wear-it version because the former was cheaper.  Sometimes this is okay, depending on what you're compromising on.  If it actually doesn't fit well or I don't love it and am not dying to wear it everyday then that means I will probably never wear it, which means no matter how much cheaper it was than the other version, I just wasted money.  

Also, beware of quality.  Now, I'm not one to preach on clothing quality--I shop at Target, Forever 21, and Old Navy for crying out loud.  But there are some things that are obviously going to fall apart with its thin and frail material, shoddy stitching, or material that seems like it will pill upon washing.  You might have seen the note on Where to Buy My Closet Staples that I've had to replace my mustard cardigan because the Target one I bought last season has pilled.  My H&M cardigans were $2 less and have been lasting for 7+ years through lots of wash and wear!

Lesson: Don't compromise just because you are scratching that itch to buy something or because something is cheaper.  Something can be cheaper without you having to compromise, like how my H&M cardigans were cheaper and better.  And sometimes you might just have to pay a little more for something that you will wear a billion times until forever.

Doesn't Fit My Lifestyle 
You may have heard me say before that I really wish I worked at an office and could wear pencil skirts everyday.  Kinda like Kate.  (--whose blog you need to visit, btw.  I think her blog is one of the best kept secrets around.)

I bought pencil skirts for the "maybe somedays" and splurged on an extra thick coat for the "what if" days (as if I'd ever need one of those in San Diego!)  Dumb stuff like that.  I sold two pencil skirts that still had tags that I had never worn but bought for the "maybe someday" and because they were only $20 each.  "But it's such a great deal!"  Well, seeing as how I never wore them for over 2 years, I wasted $40, which is a bad deal.

Hadn't Defined My Style
The last big thing that caused me to buy the wrong things was that I hadn't done good research to figure out what style I wanted.  I read style blogs to help me evolve my style, but the ones I was looking at made me try to be someone else and dress cutesy and frilly and eclectic.  Like the kind of person that frolics in fields.  Those people looked super cute, and that's why I was drawn to their outfits, but that is not who I am.  I'm not one to frolic.  If you are, that's cool, but I will let you frolic while I make a fast beeline to where I'm going.  I am blunt direct and sarcastic, though you may not be able to hear that through my blog.  (I try not to scare you guys away.)  And in clothing I like straight, clean lines and geometric prints...so why was I buying frilly stuff?!?!

I ended up with clothes that I didn't want to wear because, while they were cute, they didn't feel like me.

Research Your Style
My suggestion is to research your style.  Use Pinterest to create a board of looks you like, or clip pictures from magazines and make a look book.  Then, rather than looking at an individual outfit that you pinned and trying to get that exact item to put together that exact look, broaden your scope and look for general commonalities or themes from the photos you've collected.  That was the big mistake I made.  I looked at individual pins and rushed to get a shirt that I liked to recreate that outfit, but overall, the shirt didn't fit my style.  My pinboard has a lot of stripes and blazers and not a whole lot of jewelry, bows, or frilly things.  Analyzing my own pin board helped me to have a better grasp on the style I was going for.

There are a few other mistakes I've made while shopping, but those are the big ones.  And this post is getting a lot longer than I expected, so I will stop talking and leave you to curate your pinboards!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Top: Forever 21 (shop, similar, similar)  |  Blazer: Target (similar, similar)  |  Shorts: New York & Company  |  Red pumps: Target (similar)

I don't know why, but I've been slow on the animal print thing.  I know it keeps coming back "in" but in my mind it's a classic.  I started out small with an animal print belt, and then I added a scarf to the collection.  Accessories are great ways to incorporate animal print without going overboard.  Recently I took a shot at animal print shoes, and now this top.  I love this top!  It's thicker than I thought it would be and transitions well for business to casual and summer to fall to spring...and it was $18 from Forever 21.  I sound like a commercial, but this is not a sponsored post or anything.  I'm just always amazed when I find things at Forever 21 that don't seem like they'll fall apart in a year, you know what I mean?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rolling Your Sleeves All Fancy Like

Dress: Target (similar; exact dress in plus size, petite version)  |  Denim Jacket: Forever 21 (similar #1, similar #2)  |  Wedges: Kohl's (shop)  |  Belt: Target

Who am I kidding?  This jacket maybe lasted an hour.  Weather, heat, blah blah, whine whine.

Let's move on to more helpful things.  Thanks to Anne, I pinned an article filled with tips from a J.Crew stylist on how to execute those little touches that make an outfit special.  One of those tips was a modified way of rolling your sleeves.  The stylist teaches you how to leave the cuff hanging out, rather than tucked inward, to give it a more relaxed, and "less sterile" vibe.  I've always wondered how J.Crew makes the sleeves look so dang cute on the in-store displays!  Check out the pin to find out how easy it is.  

I tried it here, buuuuut, as I'm re-reading the article right now I realized that I actually did it incorrectly.  Whoops, haha.  Turns out I don't read things carefully.  Whatever, practice makes perfect!  And someday it will be cold and I will be able to wear a long sleeved shirt and exercise my pro J.Crew stylist skills!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Turning Plain Basics Into an Outfit

Top: Cotton On (similar: one, two)  |  Striped cardigan: Target (similar: onetwo, three)
Shorts: Loft  |  Wedges: Target (shop, similar, similar
Clutch: DSW (shop, charcoal grey)  |  Necklace: c/o Bubble Necklace Co. (shop

I don't know what it is, but when the weekend rolls around I often wear the same outfit multiple times over the short span of a couple of days.  This was my Friday and Saturday outfit, folks.  On Friday night it was actually cold enough to wear a cardigan!  (Then it shot up to 90 degrees the next day.)

But truth be told, on Friday I worked from home just wearing this all day:

Then, once B came home we decided to go out to eat.  It was late, though, and I was HANGRY (so hungry that you are cranky and angry...anyone?).  That meant I had to put together a "real" outfit, stat.  In a flash moment, I quickly turned this into the outfit I initially showed you at the top of this post. 

Many of you have commented on how the "before" and "after" pics that are sprinkled through out this blog have been really helpful for you to see how to create an outfit that looks decently pulled together.  I decided to break down today's outfit for you:

My original combo was very plain, so I contemplated changing completely for dinner, but I knew that would probably take me longer than necessary.  I was too hungry for that.  It was oddly a little cold, so I needed a cardigan.  I opted for my (only) patterned cardigan to give my solid pieces some interest.  A polka dot, floral, or animal print cardigan would have worked just as well.  Even with the cardigan, my outfit was still missing a focal point, so I grabbed my go-to yellow bubble necklace to remedy that and to anchor the whole thing.  I did a quick partial tuck with the front of the shirt (you'll notice it's shorter in the 3rd and 4th pics), and I rolled the sleeves of the cardigan.  The simple addition of a clutch and wedges polished off the look, and we were off to tame the hangry beast.

Then I wore it again the next day for a BBQ, just with the sandals and a cross-body bag.

That's the simple behind the scenes look at this outfit!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Win Any Bag of Your Choice from 2ChicDesigns!

2ChicDesigns is an Etsy shop filled with super duper cute bags, and this week you can win any bag of your choice from their shop!

They have many different types of bags, ranging from wristlets, totes, clutches, pouches, passport holder, iPhone pouches, and e-reader cases!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Colored Belts and Breaking Up Neutrals

Top: Forever 21 (shop similar: one, two, three)  |  Shorts: Loft (shop similar: one, two)  |  Belt: Target (shop, similar, similar) |  Wedges: Target (shop, similar, similar)

Since it's still in the mid to upper 80s here, I'm pretending it's fall by choosing neutrals instead of crazy brights.  I get weird about wearing all neutrals, especially pale ones, so I added a pop of green.  It's a little trick to help break up neutrals, and while it's really subtle, it makes a HUGE difference.  I was reminded of it while watching a video from Wendy's Lookbook the other day.  I wish I had taken pictures without the belt to show you the difference, but you'll just have to trust me and experiment for yourself.  I've also decided I need a couple more of these cool Target belts in other colors, now that I finally found which local Target has them in stock!  I've already got a yellow one and this green one, but what's next?  Pink?  Orange?  Blue?  Can't decide!

Have you tried colored belts?  What colors do you have?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Choosing Colors

Dress: Target (shop similar: one, two, three)  |  Wedges: Target (shop, similarsimilar,)  |  Belt: Target (shop, similar, similar)

On Friday I asked for advice on what to wear for the 100+ heat over the weekend.  Someone tweeted, "A dress that requires no slip or tank top underneath in a dark color that doesn't show sweat!" Wise words from Texas.

This is the third time I've blogged this dress (first, second), and I like how a little switcheroo of a belt can make something feel fresh again.  I've had a lot of people ask how to know what colors to put together when creating an outfit.  Prints make that really easy as you can take any color from the print and use it in your accessories or cardigans.  There are so many colors in the print of this dress that virtually any color would work, but this time I pulled out the blue-ish green from it and used it in the belt--pretty much the only accessory I can stand to wear in 100+ degrees!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dress Love

Dress: Old Navy (similar: one, two, three)  |  Necklace: Old Navy (similar: one, two)  |  Wedges: Target

Okay, I pretty much love this teal maxi dress.  I wore it on Saturday for a work conference and got compliments left and right.  How can you not love a dress that garners attention like that?  Our conferences are not like professional conferences, sooo I would not recommend wearing something like this to one of your work conferences haha.  Except maybe paired with a blazer, which I cannot WAIT to do, but this weather needs to cool down.

Speaking of weather, it's going to be 100 degrees today and tomorrow.  My wardrobe is totally not equipped for that kind of heat anymore, so wish me luck, or else everyone will be subject to me running around without clothes.  No bueno.  Any tips?  (A/C is not often used around these parts since the need for it is so infrequent.)  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fashion Finds: Pendant Necklaces

Today's Fashion Finds are on pendants!  I've gotten a few emails asking me where my yellow and turquoise pendants are from.  The yellow one is from Old Navy, and the turquoise one is from Forever 21.

I found a few great alternatives for you!

1.  Darkwood Yellow Teardrop Necklace by Good Wood
2.  Ann Taylor option
3.  Teal Teardrop Necklace by Good Wood
4.  Claytona Turquoise Necklace by Aldo
5.  Filigree Leaf Pendant by Tyler Stained Glass Creations

I LOOOOOOOOVE the Good Wood necklaces.  I'm totally contemplating getting that teal one!

The Aldo Claytona option is very reasonably priced and very similar to my Forever 21 turquoise necklace.

The Filigree Leaf Pendant is a unique, handmade design, and it's made of stained glass, which means light glows through.  Pretty cool!  You can get it in multiple colors and other designs besides leaves.  Check them out for some unique, but reasonably priced pendants.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Different Bottoms, Same Color

Top: Old Navy (shop similar: one, two three)  |  Jeans: Old Navy (similar under $50: one, two)  |  Necklace: Nordstrom  |  Sandals: Target (shop)  |  Tote: ebags.com (shop)

Green and white again--a combo I recently did.  One great way to build more outfits is to have different types of bottoms all in the same color.  I have a white skirt, white shorts, and white jeans, and now I can wear this same top with all of those pieces in the spring/summer, summer, and fall/winter, respectively.  Because I know the combo works, I don't have to give much more thought about the combination!  (But then again, many things work with white, haha.)  I might add a colorful scarf and boots to this look for fall, too.  

Do you buy different types of bottoms in the same color?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back From the Dead

Top: H&M (similar #1similar #2similar #3)  |  Navy skirt: Forever 21 (similar #1, similar #2, similar #3)  |  Cap toe flats: Old Navy (similar #1, similar #2)  |  Tote: ebags.com (shop)

I put this top in the "donate" pile like...an embarrassingly long time ago.  I thought that particular wave of clothes had already been donated, and I was kind of sad because I pinned this outfit a while ago and thought it'd be the perfect top for it.  One of those times you wish you hadn't been brave and cleaned out your closet.  You can't see it in these pics, but the top has buttons and puckering at the bust, giving it more character than a plain white tee, which is what I was planning to substitute with in its place.  But as I sifted through my giveaway piles to figure out what I could maybe sell (more to come soon!) there was the top, back from the dead!  Booyah.  So, here it is.  An outfit too simple for me to ever think of on my own (which is weird because my style is simple...), but one that I love.  

Are there pieces you wish you hadn't gotten rid of?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September Sponsor Love

It's time to introduce you to our lovely sponsors for the month!  If you haven't yet, check out these sites to say hello!

Go Chic or Go Home is an AWESOME, friendly, down-to-earth style community, and it is definitely worth checking out if you are trying to work your own closet!  You can find tons of real-life outfits to inspire you, post your own outfits for your reference (without having to maintain a blog), use the virtual closet to help you create ensembles for later and help remix your wardrobe, and earn points towards SHOPPING(!!) at stores like J.Crew, ASOS, and Madewell simply when you comment or upload your own pictures.  Why wouldn't you want to be part of this community?

Here's a peek inside:

GCOGH is definitely something worth checking out if you are trying to work your own closet!  And it's totally free, so give it a shot!

P.S. Check out their Facebook page--they give away free stuff like $50 gift cards to any retailer GCOGH works with--like J.Crew and ASOS to name a couple!

Bonnilu is an Esty shop filled with SUPER DUPER CUTE earrings!  And prices are reallyyyyy affordable.  (Like $8!)  I mean, how cute are the ones below?  Shop owner Bonnie takes delight in creating simple, but colorful jewelry.  I LOVE how her color choices are playful yet sophisticated.

I am definitely getting a few pairs for my friends for Christmas!
Shop at Bonnilu now!

Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook

Miranda blogs at Shop & Twirl, a style blog that has recently entered the scene!  She posts outfits that show her playful and colorful style.  And in a recent post, she gives some helpful advice for How to Buy Shoes Online.  Pop over to her blog to say hi!

Blog  |  Twitter  |  Mariage series

Morgan blogs over at Mama Loves Papa about marriage, family, faith, and her four adorable children.  Read about their adventures over at Morgan's blog!

blog  |  twitter  |  refashions

Here's the bottom line: If you haven't read Merrick's Art yet, you need to go do that right now.  Merrick is a whiz with the sewing machine and offers fantastic, EASY tutorials on how to refashion garments or how to make your own clothes.  Check out one of her latest tutorial on a refashioning a blazer!

If you're interested in sponsoring Putting Me Together, check out the Advertise page for more info!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Styling a Basic White Tee

Have you guys ever seen those "Closet Must Haves" or "10 Pieces Every Woman Must Own" lists in style magazines?  I used to get suckered into them, ending up with pieces that I have NEVER worn.  And while I would probably display a list of my personal closet must haves, I don't think I'd ever endorse a list that I'd claim everyone MUST have.  I think it depends on your lifestyle and your taste.

Anyway, I'm saying that because a plain white tee is usually on those lists, but I never understood why.  It was always just a plain white tee to me, which then translated to me as a plain outfit.

But after like a year of "learning to work my closet" I finally figured out the secret sauce to the specialness of a white tee: accessorizing.  Duh, Audrey.  DUHHH.

Like I wrote in the last part of the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series, I had no idea how to accessorize beyond earrings, so of course plain white tees never amounted to anything more than that for me.  

So, if you have a plain white tee lying around that you only wear with jeans, here are some tips for getting more usage out of it!

(White Tee: H&M - shop similar)

There's not really a step-by-step guide here.  It's mostly a jumble of tips to think about to give you some ideas for how to make more outfits with your own white tee.  

Basically, get some color and/or pattern in there!  Whether it's by pairing your tee with colored or patterned bottoms, layering on a colored cardigan or blazer, or simply adding a colorful necklace or patterned scarf, you can maximize that plain white tee to no end.  

Here's a breakdown of each outfit.  There is no rhyme or reason to this collection of outfits; they are just whatever I could think of from my closet.  And warning--it's kind of repetitive information, but my hope is that the more the tips get broken down and demonstrated, more of your creative juices will flow to help you think of ideas from your own closet.

This outfit is the only way I would have worn a white tee, sans scarf.  Snoozer.  It was made special with a simple addition of a patterned scarf.  Easy peasy!

Even though the shorts are a neutral grey, the red blazer gives the outfit some character.  I added the necklace down the middle simply because a completely white center column seemed like it needed just a bit of an extra touch.  This will be true or many of the outfits to follow.

Yes, I really took a picture with boots, a scarf, and a cardigan even though it was like 87 degrees in my house.  Just for you guys.  Buy me ice cream and we'll call it even.  I figured you guys would appreciate at least one fall outfit, though you can recreate many of these outfits for fall by adding a a few more layers and some boots.  Anyway, I loooove this outfit and cannot wait to wear it in the fall.  I added color with the cardigan, but the pattern in the scarf really made it.  

(shop green skirt: option #1, option #2, option #3)
No pattern here.  Instead, we have a bright green skirt and a necklace to fill the otherwise plain white space.  Again, the secret sauce is in the accessories.

Grab a patterned skirt and, again, fill in that white space with a necklace.  The necklace doesn't have to be as substantial as this one.  It could be a simple colored pendant, too!  Also, easily copy this for fall with a cardigan and boots.

(shop polka dot pencil skirt: option #1option #2option #3)
Another example of pattern and color, but this time without a necklace or scarf.  Big deal for me, I know.  Honestly, it took a lot for me not to throw on a big ole necklace!

(shop: black blazer)
This outfit is kind of outside of the rest because it only has a small drop of color.  I love how a white tee can be dressed up with a blazer and pumps!  Again, I filled the white space with that simple yellow pendant.

Grab your favorite colored pencil skirt, add a statement necklace, and you're done.  Am I sounding like a broken record yet?  This is the same formula as outfit #4, but the silhouette of the skirt changes it up.  Exchange the wedges for pumps and add a blazer, and I think it'd be pretty work appropriate.  

This is the exact same formula as the first outfit--white tee, jeans, and a patterned scarf.  However, it is made completely different just because the jeans are a different color and it's a different scarf.  Wear it with boots and a cardigan in the fall, and you'll have the formula for outfit #3 in a new way!

And there you have it.  Hopefully this helps give you some ideas for utilizing your white tee instead of letting it collect dust like mine did for so long.  Dust is not a good accessory.  Now, get to working those white tees!

For a list of where you can buy similar items to some seen here, check Where to Buy My Closet Staples.

My white tee is from H&M for $10!  Here's a similar one.
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