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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shabby to Chic - Buying the Right Pieces

Sprinkled throughout this blog are style tips that aim to help you take outfits from shabby to chic without having to try too hard.  Among some of them are getting properly fitting clothing from the Wardrobe From Scratch series, turning plain basics into an outfit - post #1 and post #2, and of course accessorizing.

Today's style tip is about choosing the right pieces to make feeling put together easier.

The other day I talked about this black lace tank I bought from Target (post here).  I was wearing it nonstop for a while because it was really easy to throw on--just as easy as a normal black tank--but it looked so.much.better.  That made me think about the standard "frumpy" outfits (at least, the ones that you guys describe to me from your "style challenged" days) and which pieces could be swapped out for similar but slightly modified pieces that feel the same but look much, much better.  

For instance, here's one of the "frumpy" outfits that you guys have described to me and that I see often:


Black tank top, comfy jeans and flip flops.  Anyone want to own up to this one?  Don't worry, the real reason I know this outfit is because I used to default to this back in the day.  

But, compare it to this:


Still a black tank and comfy jeans, but way more polished in my opinion.  The pieces are essentially the same as in outfit #1, just modified a little to be the right pieces for a more pulled together look.  When you have the right pieces, it takes much less effort to look pulled together.  I don't have to try harder--I think just as little about outfit #2 as I do with outfit #1.  And honestly the slightly looser fitting tank in outfit #2 feels much more comfortable.


Outfit details (right):
Lace tank: Target (exact)  //  Jeans: Loft (similar)  //  Flats: Old Navy (similar, similar)

Tops - Instead of plain tops go for ones with detail, like lace, embellishment, special seaming, or a little structure.  You can read more about that and see more examples in this post on dressing cute in the summer.  There are plenty of tops out there in t-shirt / jersey material in the same shapes as t-shirts and tank tops that are extremely comfortable.  However, when they have their own details to give them interest they do more of the heavy lifting for you of creating an interesting outfit.  

Jeans - Find jeans that fit you well.  They do *not* have to be skinny jeans.  They can be whatever cut you want, but make sure they fit well and don't "pool" at the bottom or give you a muffin top or a saggy bum.  When in doubt, go with a darker wash.  Medium / dark wash always = more polished.  

Flip-flops - I'm from San Diego, so flip-flops are what's up around here.  But, there are many great alternatives like sandals and flats that are just as comfortable, just as easy to put on, just as easy to walk in, and are just as cost effective but help you look more polished.  For instance, now instead of flip flops I go for a pair of sandals like the ones I wear in so many of my outfit pics.  

You can opt for a neutral flat, like the ones I showed above, ones in a solid neutral like brown or black or colored ones.  Just back away from the flip flops!  Haha.  I'm not even exaggerating, once I stopped wearing flip flops and swapped them for flats I got all sorts of comments about how I looked "so nice" even though I was wearing the same outfits I always wore, just without flip flops.  And my flats were not even exciting--they were plain brown.  So, don't underestimate the power of even the most indiscrete shoe!  



The idea is that dressing decently doesn't necessarily have to mean more work for you.  By buying the right pieces you should be able to reach for pieces in a flash that will look great with minimal effort.  Good luck!

70 comments:

  1. I've started doing this for sure. :-) I love jeans and t-shirts, so I've been trying to get t-shirts that have a little more interest to them. I have one that has tiers of fabric all down the front (Target!) that I love. Another with gathers around the neckline. And a few with deep V-necks that I can wear a cute cami under. All in great colors. Gotta have color. And I took the plunge to wearing dresses casually!!! I got the cutest gray and coral striped hi-low hem dress at Target and have worn it several times - doing touristy stuff around my parents' town on 4th of July, going to a barbecue restaurant with my hubby and kids, and to a friend's two-year-old's birthday party last weekend. I don't know what took me so long. A cotton jersey dress is just as easy as shorts and a t-shirt. And so cute. And my husband loves when I wear dresses and will spontaneously take me out on dates when I wear a dress. ;-)

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  2. Wow! Unbelievable difference without a lot of effort. I also notice that the accessories make the outfit look much more "planned" than the first version. I really enjoy posts like this one, because it shows the exact simple things that can really update an outfit. Great work!

    Megan
    Never Finished

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  3. wow! what a difference! thais looks so gorgeous

    kw ladies in navy

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  4. Great post Audrey and I totally agree about just adding the right piece of jewelry what a difference it can make to an outfit.

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

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  5. Kristen Shaw DezsoTuesday, July 23, 2013

    Not to mention, accessories. Necklace and bag really dress it up, too!

    I know you have heard this countless times before, but thank you for this blog. You have absolutely changed the way I feel about getting dressed each day, not to mention how I feel about myself. No longer am I a mom of three in yoga pants and a tee shirt, I am a mom of three who feels good about myself and how I dress, and having fun doing it. Thanks, Audrey!

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  6. love this comparison!!xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  7. Great post! I am learning the importance of having proper fitting jeans! So you have any suggestions? Thanks! Susan

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  8. Hi Susan...did you follow the link that's in the post on finding jeans that fit? http://www.puttingmetogether.com/2013/02/wardrobe-from-scratch-part-3-basic.html

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  9. Perfection! What a difference!

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  10. What a difference just a few minor changes make! It's probably about time I do an overhaul of my jeans and get rid of the less flattering pairs!

    Lauren

    Fizz and Frosting

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  11. very nice how you switched that look up! www.delightedbylife.wordpress.com

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  12. This is wonderful! It's so easy to update a look and I need to remind myself of this in the summer heat! Please keep doing this series!
    ~Sara
    Sincerely, Sara

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  13. you know what is crazy, you obviously are the exact same person, same size and everything, yet in the photo on the right you look thinner than the one on the left. So the more polished one you look thinner in, one more reason to get 'dressed' than to just wear the frump for me!

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  14. Thanks for this Audrey!

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  15. I was thinking the same thing

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  16. What a huge difference! I love these side by sides. You look so much better in the outfit on the right, it's just amazing! Thanks for all these tips you share. I feel so much more confident about choosing my outfits every day!

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  17. I love when you write posts like this! As I'm getting more and more into wardrobe remixing and trying to look put together, I still sometimes get stuck in a rut. This post will make it easy to look at my closet and end-up dressed in something cute instead of frumpy. I know you've done them before, but I would love to see more of these side-by-side posts. They are SO helpful! Thanks for being such an inspiration!


    -Whitney
    whitneyalamode.blogspot.com

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  18. P.S. I try so hard not to run-out and buy what you have on everyday...but I'm feeling a strong urge to go to Target and buy that tank! So classy!

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  19. I completely agree with you! I would have though to just add a scarf or a statement necklace to jazz up the first outfit, but I like your approach.


    FYI: the link in the last paragraph (you can opt [for] a neutral flat, like the "ones I showed above") sends you to Loft jeans.

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  20. Wow, that does make a huge difference! I never thought to look for tanks or tees with just a little something extra to make them look nicer. I totally understand shoes, they make a huge difference in my opinion. Nothing beats my Rainbows for comfort but I don't find myself reaching for them unless I'm doing a lot of walking or just taking a short trip to the store. I love your simple style tips. Thank you!

    Lauren
    Exploring My Style

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  21. Girl, you need to do a "Shabby to Chic" link up! Think of all the great outfit ideas we could share by posting our own shabby looks (which I'm sure most people around these parts are guilty of) and then chic-ing them up just like you did here. I would participate for sure. Just think about it. Please?

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  22. i don't even own flip-flops. the best way for you not to wear the ugly pieces is to not own them. i switched them for a nice plain pair of sam edelman sandals. and i got rid of all my boring basic shirts and changed them for nicer versions. i live in button downs now.

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  23. Amazing post!! I'll definitely be sharing this post with my readers since you've summed this up way better than I could have!

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  24. Charlotte HanleyTuesday, July 23, 2013

    I'm a new mom in a style rut and on my blog I'm doing no dump day hump day to encourage myself and readers to get out of their style ruts. This post is soooo helpful for me because I just want and need to be comfy while still looking put together. THANK YOU!!

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  25. Janet @ Unique IndieTuesday, July 23, 2013

    Dude...this is such a helpful post. The side-by-sides are so similar clothing-wise, but have drastically different effects!

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  26. Love this Audrey, thank you so much. I have been reading your blog for a couple of months and it's definitely having an effect, I'm slowly starting to look more presentable! Plus I'm saving heaps of money not buying clothes as I realise I have lots of great remixable options already in my wardrobe. The side by side comparison in this post is VERY useful to learn how to put a smart outfit together. More of these please!

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  27. Great post! I love how you put them side by side for comparison. I usually wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt everyday but I wanted more polished look. This really helps. Thanks Audrey!

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  28. Love that idea! I'd so be down for that link up!

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  29. Love this post Audrey~!

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  30. I love posts like this! I just figured this "more polished" thing out. The other day, I had some errands to run in the middle of my workday and quickly threw on a clean t-shirt and jeans (I'm a dog groomer and work in gross old tanks and jeans). But I grabbed a patterned tee and well-fitting dark-wash jeans, and put on cute flats instead of my old Birkenstocks. 3 separate people said, "what a cute outfit! You're so stylish!" Yet I put in no extra effort. Go figure!

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  31. I've been reading your blog for several months now and posts like these have changed my style. I've been applying tips like these to my daily attire. This summer it's mostly been interesting tees and tanks, colored pants, and sandals too! It takes me 5 minutes to get dressed and look polished because I only have clothes I love and fit me well in my closet. Thanks for the practical advice!

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  32. Yeah- lets do it!

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  33. This is an awesome post! I've been trying to be more mindful of just this exact thing since starting to read your blog. It's amazing how easy it is to pull yourself together when your clothes already do most of the work. Think smarter, not harder!

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  34. Great post! Just shows how much difference an outfit can make if you pay attention to little details! Definitely something I will put in practice....thanks for showing the way Audrey :)

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  35. Love this idea!

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  36. Hehe I confess to still wearing something similar to outfit 1! I do usually try add a few accessories, but sometimes laid back and relaxed is all I need for the day. I like how you're showing the difference the right pieces make though :)

    Away From Blue

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  37. Thank you so much for this post Audrey! I also loved the post about how to be sure your clothing fits properly! I really needed that! You had some great tips. I think I need to go shopping with you for denim. Your is always the perfect fit! Thanks friend! Susan

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  38. maria @ me in the kitchenWednesday, July 24, 2013

    This post really speaks to me. I have also been trying to update my style with class without all the hassle. Thanks Audry, this picture puts it all into perspective for me.

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  39. Fabulous! Ditto to all the compliments everyone wrote; this post is super-helpful!

    Next, can you re-do the stay-at-home mom uniform of yoga pants, tee/hoodie, and slippers/old tennies? What do I wear that's super-comfy and looks nice, even if my husband's the only other adult who will see me? THX!!!

    :o) Becky in Oregon

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  40. wow! So simple to change! LOVE this!

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  41. Totally, Becky! On my list of post ideas I had something for moms...like 5 easy pieces for moms. But I love hearing your idea for a side-by-side type of thing and knowing the exact uniform to tweak. I'll work on it!

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  42. Amazing post!!! You are a genius!! I love reading your blog! Lots of helpful tips, i have learned so much since i started reading a few months ago. I love that you don't sacrifice comfort to be fashionable and you wear stuff that is affordable :)! I have a list of things to pick up at Target now, thanks to you ( prior to reading your blog i never shopped for clothing at target)- adding those lace tanks to my list!!

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  43. Thank you for such posts! These posts are the reason I faithfully follow your blog. I remember reading a line by you in a similar post - "The problem is never you, but the clothes". I believe it was written in the post where you mention about finding clothes to fit the heavier part of you say thigh, and altering the rest :) It was such an eye opener for me... I never ever thought of it that way. Until then, it was all about how I had to lose more weight to fit better into the clothes. Thank you so much for changing the way I look at my wardrobe. You are an inspiration to me.

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  44. Thanks for all your style tips. Keep them coming...your blog is one of my favorites.

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  45. This makes so much sense. Simple swaps really make a huge difference. I find myself getting dressed and thinking, "is this blog worthy?" If not, then I have to step it up and add a pop or color or a great necklace or tuck in my shirt. Little changes make huge results. Part of why I started blogging so that I could be more accountable to look better :)

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  46. Autumn RosenbaumWednesday, July 24, 2013

    Love this!

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  47. Great post Audrey! Seriously, easy changes like that are so simple but until you really visualize it, you don't realize how small changes can make a huge impact! I'd love to see more posts like these!

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  48. Is there something particularly "shabby" about the first pair of jeans? They look like they fit you well... is it because they are a wider leg than the second skinny pair?

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  49. They do fit me pretty well--they're actually a pair of trouser jeans that I always wear with heels. The problem is that jeans shouldn't clump or "pool" like that at the bottom because it's sloppy. They clump like that because they're too long.

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  50. Brilliant post! Amazing what a difference subtle changes can make.

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  51. Wow... nothing the other posters haven't mentioned already but this topic was SO helpful! I went and purchased the black lace tank from Target because the outfit on the left is my current go to. (I add a cardigan for work.. I pair it with shorts on the weekend).. I think the nicer tank with a few added accessories is going to make a HUGE difference. THANK YOU for sharing!! Also.. I just purchased this YELLOW tank on clearance at Target..

    http://www.target.com/p/mossimo-women-s-tank-top-yellow/-/A-14342102?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=Google_PLA_df&LNM=%7C14341893&CPNG=Women&kpid=14341893&LID=PA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=14341893&gclid=CMbFvcGAy7gCFUkV7Aodj1cAbw

    Any ideas for mixing it up? Would you ever consider pairing animal print with yellow or is that clashy??

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  52. Awesome, Lauran! I totally wear the black lace with shorts too. I had side by side pics of outfits using shorts as well but just didn't post them.

    I would pair yellow with animal print, but I would probably do a black/white animal print instead of brown/black. Keep all of your accessories neutrals though!

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  53. The right fit makes such a difference, especially in pants and denim! I'm also a big fan of dark wash for jeans when you want to look more polished--I like to call it a Style Upgrade :)

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  54. Definitely a pair of dark wash jeans--they can transition easily from more casual with the kids to Date Night. Cute flat shoes. A great tee; you can't go wrong with a classic striped one. A casual skirt, like a khaki pencil, or even a maxi; pair it with a tee (and a denim jacket in colder weather/climates) for a cute, casual look. And one fun accessory, like a necklace or scarf, to add a bit of visual pop.

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  55. That sounds like a great idea! What's your blog?

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  56. Charlotte HanleyThursday, July 25, 2013

    123-chachacha.blogspot.com. It's a work in progress almost two years in the making...)

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  57. Love this post, Audrey! Such simple tricks, but it makes a huge difference! :)

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  58. Audrey, I am in LOVE with this post! I have a lot of basics or staples in my closet but I love how you dressed them up and how just a simple change in fit and structure made such a dramatic difference. Looking forward to more of these shabby to chic posts (hopefully!). :)

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  59. Really helpful! Thanks!

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  60. And THIS is why I LOVE your blog!!!! So simple and so easy, yet makes a HUGE difference!!! Thank you!

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  61. Brilliantly explained. I always get at least one golden nugget from your posts, Audrey. Love them! In other news, I heard they're taking WNTW off the air (I hope it's a lie) but I think you should be the next style show host. You'd be AWESOME.

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  62. New reader here who just discovered your blog. You do a great job of styling your outfits, and combining pieces multiple ways, but what I REALLY appreciate is your ability to break it all down and explain it. Thanks so much!

    Also, I have to mention that you look 10 lbs lighter in the 2nd photo (not that being or looking smaller is, nor should be, the most important element of style!)... BUT proper fit is a wonderful thing!

    xo, Susan

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  63. Thank you, Susan! And welcome to the blog! :)

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