Wednesday 27 November 2013

Plaid Goes to Work

About once a year, I take a sick day.  Pretty impressive considering all the little children I interact with, not to mention my own kids and all their germ-sharing love.  Well, Monday I was down for the count.  I went out in public with no make-up, glasses and sweat pants (and by that I don't mean cute yoga pants, I mean ugly gray sweat pants) because I needed medicine.  Tuesday was only slightly better, health-wise and wardrobe-wise, and today a little better yet.  Now is not the time for tights and skirts; I need comfortable kleenex-holding pockets and clothes that feel like chicken soup.  So today I wore plaid...
 Eddie Bauer plaid top $5 VV Boutique
Smiling between coughing fits...

Plaid is showing up all over Pinterest and I can't wait to style this top in more creative ways.  As for today, my only aim was to get out the door and make it though the work day.  To be on the safe side, I wore it with a scarf...
My son was so impressed with his "scarf action shot" that I had to include it.
 I love the plaid and heart prints together!
Scarf is a hand-me-down from my sis.

In the real world of a real life working mom, everyday isn't a fashion day.  But hey, I accessorized; I coordinated colours; I mixed prints!  All things considered, I'm content. 
Yep, I even went for matchy-matchy shoes and accessories!

This is a crazy busy week and I have an extra special project on the go that I will reveal next week!  As for Take One and Pass It On, well:

Nov 25 - pass on everything except my pillow and Nyquil

Nov 26 - You'll have to take my word that I wore the cobalt and green sweater again.  In almost exactly the same way as the day before, but I neglected to get a photo.  Come to think of it, TOPIO is great for sick days; you just reach for what you wore the day before when you were thinking coherently and dressing with effort.

Nov 27 - what can I say, everything was dirty so I started fresh unless you count the necklace that I've been wearing for several days straight to remind me that I CHOOSE this crazy, wonderful, occasionally-sick, blessed life!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Selfie Sequence

Mirror self photography is not exactly my favourite but I have had troubles lately wrangling my threenager 3yo photographer and haven't had my work photographer available consistently - the nerve of her not being at my beck and call for non-work related matters.  Since I am doing Take One and Pass It On, I have at least managed a tired selfie before I climb into my jammies and snuggle up to my Kleenex box.

Pass the moto cardi...
 Mixed with chambray, black tank and tweed print trousers $3.50 VV Boutique
I think I was trying to decide whether to look at my phone or the mirror and as it turns out, looking at the mirror is just plain odd.

 Pass the tweed...
Day mix: Kenneth Cole boots, lace top, grandpa sweater
Night mix: black tank, velvet blazer, black Miz Mooz boots and She Does Create pieces.
Who knew tweed pants would work so well for a little musical theatre?!

Pass the lace...
Mixed with raspberry tank $2, J Brand denim and leopard scarf from my closet.
That "serene" expression actually was: 
"Why did I think I could go swimming with the kids then go out? 
How red are my eyes?  Is my "intentionally" messy braid funky or fuddy?
Can I go out in my pajamas?"

Pass the raspberry...
Remixed with pink wool sweater $2.50 and DKNY navy cords, both VV Boutique.
By this point, I'm really not feeling well at all and want to wear a nap.

Pass the necklace...
(*not* cheating) Remixed with $3 sweater and J Brand.

I'm hoping lofty ambitions will carry me right through an insanely busy week ahead, also last week of TOPIO and Whole 30.  That's right, all these outfits you've been seeing in November have been done without wine, sugar, grains, legumes, or dairy.  They suddenly look better, right?  Right?!!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

New Thrifted Pieces

I am blessed to have an ample closet, including a little section I designate for pieces waiting to be featured here!  Even though the purpose of Take One and Pass It On is to remix your wardrobe and make choosing outfits easier, I still want to wear my new stuff!  In the past few days, I managed to do just that and acquire some more new stuff at the 50% pre-sale day on Sunday.  I left off at gold pants then passed the zebra...

Then, I passed the cardi to wear with a new awesome chevron knit dress that feels like a comfy sweatshirt...
Chevron dress $8 VV Boutique, arm party by She Does Create
Necklaces and earrings from my closet

Next I passed the necklace because I wanted to wear this sweater with the pretty lace details.  I loved how it looked antique-y with the scarf...
Sweater $2.50 Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe, scarf $4 VV Boutique
J Brand denim from my closet

I think we, official participants of TOPIO, have concluded that it is totally legit to pass items like jeans, hosiery and I passed the denim because I wanted to wear my new stripe tee!
Nicole Miller stripe tee $1.50 Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe, mustard cardi $2 VV Boutique
Scarf from my closet

I passed the stripes for a Monday work look, embracing pastels in winter...
New items here included the black trousers (rejoice) $3.50, raspberry tank new with tags $2 
and plaid scarf $1.50 from VV Boutique
Blue cardi $5 also from VV and accessories by She Does Create

Passing black pants is also NOT CHEATING so I passed them to today to wear to work with my new gray moto cardi (Jones New York $10)...

The roads were terrible and backed up so I had to turn around and come home.  Before I came in to change, I shovelled a bit...
Some of what I shovelled.  Note the Canada flag, so cliche.

The shovelling was good to clear my head.  One of my very best friends is hurting so I had a hard time caring much about style today.  But what I do care about, today and everyday, is living with joy and thankfulness and peace.  So that's what I'm going to keep doing.
Take One Recap:
Pass the zebra
Pass the cardi
Pass the necklace
Pass the denim
Pass the tee
Pass the pants

Thursday 14 November 2013

Shopping Triple Play - Part Three

Corporate Style

Last weekend, I had so much fun shopping!  First, I went with two sisters who found many pieces and stuck to a budget; next I hit a different location with a petite gal who had amazing success; and last, I went shopping with Joanne to help flesh out her corporate wardrobe for work.  I had the opportunity to meet with Joanne ahead of time to browse through her closet and discuss how to take her "business" wardrobe to "corporate."  This is a relatively uncommon work dress code.  Most of us dwell in the "business casual" realm where cardigans rule and blazers are the exception.  Joanne's strictly corporate work environment presented an interesting challenge: how do you meld your work style with your personal style?!     

To tackle the challenge, I turned to Pinterest, naturally, created a corporate style board and found some great corporate style bloggers - The Classy Cubicle and Capitol Hill Style to name a couple.  These are good references for inspiration for shopping or putting together outfits.  Joanne and I came to the following conclusions to guide our corporate style adventure:
  • always wear hosiery (nothing embellished!)
  • stick to closed-toe shoes
  • replace cardigans with blazers
  • look for structured fabrics rather than knit, cotton or jersey, with the exception of structured ponte knit
  • fake a more structured look by adding a classic belt
This ponte knit dress looked more polished with a patent belt rather than the cloth belt it came with.
  • focus on suit pieces and neutral separates paired with button-up tops or blouses rather than casual cotton tops
  • still utilize the rule of 3, but subtler (i.e., delicate accessories)
  • eye wear becomes part of your look - Clearly Contacts is an affordable option for glasses if you want to have corporate frames and casual frames
  • build a work wardrobe of foundational pieces, "fun" pieces that subtly reflect personal style, and finishing pieces such as a pretty watch or unobtrusive scarf...  
  • Finishing includes those final polishing touches as you get ready, like pulling your hair back neatly and wearing some mascara and lip product.  Little touches go a long way! 
As a general guideline, I suggested limiting the more casual or personal-style elements of the outfit to one in order to maintain an overall corporate look.  For example, if wearing a patterned blouse rather than a button-up, stick to straight-up corporate blazer and bottom with classic pumps.  If wearing hair down in a more casual style, that becomes your "one."  If wearing a coloured pump or more funky shoe, that becomes your "one" and the top should be classic.  If the button-up is a vibrant colour, that becomes your "one."  This guideline gives some flexibility for personal style but some parameters to guide your outfit choices.

With these corporate style tips in mind, I met Joanne to shop up a storm!  Joanne's sister joined us and those ladies are so efficient, I missed many photo ops, but I will report that Joanne looked amazing!  She recently lost 25lbs and is a tidy size 6!  Here are a few of the pieces we found:
The pants need a good hem and press but otherwise were a classic fit in classic gray, 
a nice template for this pretty blouse that can be worn loose or tucked with a belt for added polish!
We loved the elegant detailing of this suit top, but the best part was the price: $7 for both pieces!
Styling up a basic black dress with a contrasting blazer and classic belt.
Joanne can copy this look with any black top and bottom.
This tweed suit fit Joanne like a glove and was also $7!
The pieces can be worn with other blazers/bottoms for better wardrobe mileage!

Joanne selected 38 pieces for $177.00 using a 30% off stamp card including great brands like Louben, Banana Republic, Tabi, Ricki's, Cleo and more.  She got:
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 3 skirts
  • 7 blazers
  • 2 dresses
  • 7 blouses
  • 3 shirts
  • 4 camisoles
  • 6 belts
  • 2 pairs of heels
  • 1 pair of boots
The average cost per piece was $4.66 and the most expensive item was $13.99!
Good corporate haul, Joanne!

Whenever she has the opportunity, she can quickly browse by the suits, dresses, pants and skirts to look for classic structured pieces in her size.  This approach of confining your hunting zone helps to avoid becoming overwhelmed and saves time!  Joanne doesn't love shopping (I don't get it, wink wink) but she now knows that VV Boutique can supply her corporate wardrobe at an unbeatable price!

Gold Pants Go To School

While I put the finishing touches on my final post in the shopping trilogy, I thought I'd catch up my Take One and Pass It On outfits.  We left off with a sweater skirt and landed on gold pants today!
 Gold pants $3, navy sweater $2, sheer top $2 Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe
Clarks she-booties $10 VV Boutique

I wasn't exactly searching for gold pants, but when they run across your path for three bucks, you gotta get them!
"Ooo lala, I'm wearing gold pants to work!"

I styled them with a casual top to dampen the bling and kept my accessories simple.  It took a while for some of my colleagues to even notice my gold pants.... I was highly offended. 
But really, they look like khaki pants at first glance!  Fooled ya!

I am pretty lucky to work in a flexible wardrobe environment!  I loved this ensemble, even more so knowing it cost only $17!!  Here's how I got to the gold:
 Pass the cardi.
Pass the necklace.
Pass the purple cords.
Pass the navy sweater.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Shopping Triple Play - Part Two

VV Boutique and the Petite

I spent all last weekend shopping and had so much fun!  Saturday, I went with two sisters and helped them score some amazing pieces!  Sunday, I went with another fast friend, Elizabeth, who was concerned we wouldn't find enough things to try for her petite frame...
 Two carts full of options!  I love being right!

Elizabeth is 5'1" and a true petite fit up top yet she has muscular legs from dancing and a more rectangular shape.  We tackled those carts with some petite style tips in mind:
  • look for small prints rather than large prints that may overwhelm her frame
  • pencil skirts and sheath dresses that hit just above knee
  • straight leg pants
  • "two-thirds rule" - the bottom or top at a glance should cover 2/3 to create a longer line
  • tuck in shirts and belt to define waste, elongate leg line and create that two-thirds 
  • a monochromatic palette tends to lengthen
  • use narrow belts to define the waistline
  • avoid oversize handbags
  • fit is important so tailor as needed
  • generally, pieces should be proportionate to her frame and to each other
Elizabeth works in a business casual lab environment leaning more towards casual, though she wisely aims to dress more like her supervisor who tends to be a bit more business!  She loves heels and can wear them all day but has to have closed-toe and pants.  She also needs clothes for being a mom to her adorable 13-month old and something nice for hubby to see never hurt anyone!  Elizabeth recently changed her diet due to allergies and has lost some weight and now has what she describes as "skinny guilt."  I get that, but regardless how you feel, ya got the body ya got and might as well dress it stylishly!  This goes for all of us!  There's no point lamenting over where you are body-wise; instead equip yourself with a closet full of clothes that fit and that you like!  Then getting dressed each day will be much more enjoyable!  To that end, Elizabeth did her homework and cleaned out her closet and gained a 30% off sticker card.  Here are some of the pieces that worked:
 Behold the find of the year - Citizens of Humanity jeans for $6.30, styled down/mid/up.
These jeans retail for $200+!  So jealous happy for Elizabeth!
These trousers can be dressed up or down depending on her work-wear mood.
Demonstrating the power of interesting pieces and the rule of three.
Scarves and different styles of tops add interest to the basic pants + top fashion formula.
These black pants had a contemporary fit and easily matched everything!
 Pretty plaid and unique jackets add the fun and finishing to her foundational pieces!
 As if the Citizens of Humanity weren't lucky enough, Elizabeth also scored a perfect chambray and a leopard-print cardi!
Click here for some ways to style that chambray or search Pinterest.  It is a versatile piece!
$7 for pink suede she-booties is reason enough to Google how to clean them up!
And black wedge boots?!!  Hullo!

Elizabeth edited some of these pieces out but in the end got 7 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 scarves, 4 necklaces, set of bangles, basic black hoops and many awesome tops...
Elizabeth's new threads waiting patiently to go home with her!

She selected a grand total of 48 pieces for $227.81!  That works out to $4.74 per item or $7.35 including my fee.  I would call that a rousing success!

I don't know about you, but when I look at all those ensembles, I would never guess Elizabeth is a petite.  All I notice is a serious style presence!  I had so much fun and most importantly, Elizabeth now knows she can turn to VV Boutique any time to find pieces that will work for her at an affordable price!

Monday 11 November 2013

Shopping Triple Play - Part One

I don't know what you were up to this long weekend, but aside from taking time to remember and be thankful for my freedom today, I shopped for THIRTEEN hours!  Which means, I'm tired but happy and also feeling like I deserve some wine and chocolate (but since I'm doing Whole 30 I will settle for tea and figs; practically exactly the same).  I had the privilege of having three thrift-guiding appointments this weekend at different VV Boutique locations.  I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy sharing!  First up:

Saturday Savvy Do-Gooder and her Sassy Sister
(say that 5 times with a mouthful of crackers)

I met Nadine, the Savvy Do-Gooder, and her sister Michelle at the 34th Avenue Value Village (having learned a valuable lesson in specifying "south side"!) for some much-needed shopping!  If you recall, Nadine prefers a small wardrobe but has almost no clothes, particularly after donating six bags in order to get 30% off her purchase.  Michelle needed to shop to replenish her wardrobe after recently losing some weight.  Both sisters are on a budget; both value shopping second-hand as one step to take towards doing good for the community and environment.  We gathered not one, not two but THREE carts full of options then hit the fitting rooms.  And by that I mean, I stalked the end stall then surprised the gentleman exiting with a big greedy friendly smile and mumbled something about good timing.  We needed priority fitting room privileges to manage all the pieces!  Basically, we took over half the fitting room area for a couple hours.  Thankfully, the staff is always friendly and accommodating!  Unfortunately, trying to keep outfits going in two different directions meant I did not get near the photos that I intended but here is a taste of Nadine and Michelle's success!

Nadine was looking specifically for casual pieces for her mom-uniform.  She's back down to size now that her baby is all of about 14 weeks old, and turned in her maternity pants for VV stickers!  (My youngest is 164 weeks old and I'm almost back down to size.)  She was looking for an elevated version of jeans and a hoodie.  We found several hoodie-type sweaters that were structured with interesting details and colours, including this knit moto sweater... 
This sweater fit Nadine like a glove!  
I think she's a little like a savvy bad-a$$ in it, in a good way!

She also scored some pretty cardigans that elevate a simple momming-around look, like this one which Nadine described as "self-aware."
Well, I hope it's aware of its awesomeness, because you don't see pretty details like that for $5 every day!

Nadine plans to return to work in January and needed to fill some holes in her work wardrobe, including skirts and a printed dress.  This one had leather piping to make an amazingly flattering cut!  She may hem it or embrace the midi-length trend...
With details like this, you don't even need a necklace.  Or two.  Or three.

All in all, Nadine spent $150 and got:
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 2 dresses
  • 3 skirts
  • 6 sweater/cardigans
  • 3 shirts
  • 1 belt
  • 1 pair of leggings
That's an average cost per item of $7.89 or $11.58 including my consultation fee.  I should note that this final tally doesn't reflect all the "yes's" that Nadine found but she carefully edited her stack to stick to her budget.  I admire your self-control, Nadine!  Even still, she had fabulous pieces and quality labels (Roots, Nine West, Tristan, etc.) that are well worth a price point of $11.58, and can be remixed so many ways with each other and her existing wardrobe.  Nadine did great!
The cart as we finally stumbled to the tills!

Michelle was looking for pieces for work and casual about-town activities.  She has a business-casual work environment and prefers easy-to-wear dresses.  She embraces colour AND necklaces (at least someone in the family does, wink wink), but isn't crazy about sitting all day with a belt on.  She looked so good in every dress!  Some bodies are built for dresses...
This basic sheath dress was so flattering and can be styled a million ways!

Michelle has beautiful dark hair and pretty skin tone that looked perfect with this black/gray/blush floral print...
That little cardi was $3 if I recall correctly.

All in all, Michelle spent $130 and got:
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 5 cardigans
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 4 shirts
  • 1 necklace
Michelle's cost per item was $7.22 or $11.11 including my fee.  Like Nadine, she had many more yes's but edited her cart to stay on budget.  She found some key pieces like great-fitting jeans, black and oxblood cardis, and other fun pieces that reflect her style and can be worn in different seasons.  She is a great example of thrift shopping when you are transitioning through sizes, for whatever reason.  Most people suffer through ill-fitting clothes, which is a shame when you can get so much for so little and easily get your value in cost-per-wear.
Sigh, the sight of this beautiful mustard blouse makes me happy.

I had so much fun shopping with these sisters and think they look smart, savvy and stylish!  Enjoy your new clothes, Nadine and Michelle!