Sunday 30 November 2014

Dressember Prelude

I have had a pretty Anthro brand dress sitting in my closet for a while now.  It's a kimono-style wrap dress and I just wasn't sure how to wear it with the weather turning chilly... 
Lilka dress $9.10 VV Boutique

It almost seems like a silky robe, so this afternoon I tried, um, wearing it like a robe over my other clothes...
If you look closely, you can see the skepticism in my eyes.
J Brand denim and long sleeve tee from my closet.

A quick Pinterest search showed that dresses over pants - not leggings but bonafide pants - is a legit thing, but most of the pins feature, er, very slim silhouettes and shift dresses...
In other words, exactly opposite of what's going on here...

I will vouch that the fit and fabric of this dress were super comfy... like a robe.
And the colours!!  So many favourites all in one dress!

At least with pants, you don't have to worry about your dress being too short for your VERY young age.
The dress also gave me a good reason to wear my purple boots!

I'm not going to give up on this dress just yet.  I have some other styling ideas in mind and aim to try them out sometime in December... as I head into my second year of supporting Dressember
Last year, my Dressember started out simply as a fashion challenge but this year I know better.  This year, I know that Blythe and all the amazing Dressember women raised more than $165 000 in 2013 to support worldwide victims of trafficking and exploitation.  Now, in 2014, they've already surpassed the fundraising goal they originally set in 2013 - and December hasn't even started yet as I write!!!  Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who've been exploited for their femininity and this year, their fundraising goal is $500 000.
So, this year, I've upped the ante.  Firstly, it will be only dresses for me for the month of DecemberLast year, I allowed myself to wear skirts too, but this year, I'm going to stick to the official rules!!  Secondly, I set up a fundraising page here and a goal of $300.  There is absolutely no pressure to donate but if you've ever been moved by the story of any woman - any sister - dealing with exploitation, consider being one small part of the solution.  I follow Blythe and Dressember on Instagram and these ladies are sincerely moved and humbled by the amazing international support of what started out as a modest cause.  They've captured hope and that is something worth being involved in!  You are also VERY WELCOME to join me and the rest of the international Dressember movement in wearing dresses throughout December, no donation necessary!  Support is support, and it is all good!  Use the hashtag #Dressember, tag @Dressember on Instagram or @DressemberORG on Twitter, and use other hashtags like last year's #youcandoanythinginadress or this year's #itsbiggerthanadress.  This is a perfect excuse to do a little Dressember thrift shopping for dress options, or you can do like Dressember's founder and wear one dress throughout the whole month!!!  Or something in between!  Any participation is welcome and no participation is too small!  Now just one thing left to decide...
Is wearing a dress over pants cheating for Dressember?!!

P.S. My motto for 2014 Dressember:

Thrift your dress and donate the rest!

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Black + Navy = Easy Chic

Let's just pretend it's Monday.  Then when we get to "Wednesday" it will really be Friday and everyone will be happily surprised!!  Or disoriented, but whatev.  A little disorientation is in order after my week got off to a feverish start.  Sunday night I started feeling it and by Monday I was down for the count.  If I had black & navy jammies, I would have embraced the Monday Style Prompt from bed.  Alas, I had to wait till Tuesday to wear black & navy, then till Wednesday to feel well enough to blog about it.  That's a long story for a simple outfit.
Gifted but thrifted black top.
Navy wool skirt $4.90 VV Boutique, tights from my closet
Accessorize necklace, She Does Create earrings and bracelet

There's something special about wearing black and navy together.  All black is okay, but maybe a bit too artsy or lazy or something... but throw in a little navy and suddenly you're daring and intriguing, classic yet bold, midnight and sapphire(Blame the dramatics on my fevered dreams of late!!)  Navy adds interest, depth and layers with very little effort - just swap out one of your black pieces for some navy.
This is supposedly a "power" stance.
I like to call it the "I'm wearing comfy clothes but hey I still have a waistline" stance.

Think of black and navy as colour neighbours!  There's something edgy about wearing colour neighbours like you mean it!!!
I *really* look like I mean business here, don't I.
Don't mess with Black & Navy Girl.

My shoes meant business.  They are my first and only pair of thrifted Fly London shoes in perfect condition and they make me feel better just by looking at them!
There they are acting all cas' when they're really so fab!
$13.30 from VV Boutique but regular retail $185 or more!!!
You give me FEVER, Fly London!

As it turns out, I don't have many navy pieces (must rectify that ASAP), but when the time came for me to finally get dressed, I was glad that such a simple outfit looked like more than the sum of its parts.  Yep, after my Pinterest research and seeing everyone rocking the Monday Style Prompt in person, I can only conclude that Black + Navy = Easy Chic, a sick girl's best friend!

Monday 24 November 2014

Thrifting Adventures with Riki

The best part about being a self-appointed "thrift shopping ambassador" is the joy of taking people thrifting!!  I love it when they find unexpected treasures and pieces off their shopping list, when they see the bottom line and realize how little they spent for all they got!  That was the case today with my friend and thrift-guiding client Riki who asked me to take her thrifting for some footwear and wardrobe basics.  Riki has been saving up for a thrifting splurge as a reward for accomplishing other financial goals with her husband, so her trip this weekend was long-awaited and well-deserved!  Thankfully, VV Boutique did not disappoint and Riki found many awesome pieces!

Riki's wishlist included shoes, boots, jackets, shirts and skinny jeans.  Her Pinterest style board featured plenty of stripes, plaid, and boots/jeans/belt/scarf looks.  Riki has two part-time work-at-home jobs and two beautiful children, and solo-parents much of the time including taking her kids to the rink regularly.  She needed comfortable, stylish pieces that she can throw together effortlessly.  We started in the footwear section - my recommended starting point!  That way you can wear the shoes around while you shop to gauge comfort and have them available for the fitting room!
Just a *few* options!
Anything Riki liked, we added to the cart - add first, edit later is a thrifting must!
I can't even wait to share these!!

These are mint-like-new-condition leather Clarks boots with a winter tread that fit like a glove!  These may be the score of the day at only $15.40 with a 30% off filled stamp card (applied to Riki's whole purchase).  Clarks tall boots run anywhere from $220 - $410 regular retail!  SCORE!!!
Black leather boots in great condition - yes please!
Suede boho-vibe wedge boots with a great grip!
You can't have too many boot options when facing 7-months of boot wearing,
and thrifting makes many-boot-options possible!
These will give Riki head-to-toe style with skinny jeans and a sweater!
Be still my heart - blue ankle boot perfection!
And if they weren't enough...
Black leather Clarks booties!  LOVE!
Riki had many short boots on her style board too, so these will help recreate her pinned looks.
Boots like these run $180 or so regular retail.  I think they were $7.  Can I get a slow clap?
Riki has been barely shopping for so long, she needed to replenish all seasons of footwear,
so these leather Naturalizers were perfect!
Things almost got ugly with this show-down of the Anns!
Anne Klein vs. Ann Taylor, who will win?!
(Ricki got the lighter snakeskin on the top - slightly better condition and great sole for multi-season wear.)
These classic patent pumps had a generous cushy insole - 
so comfortable and perfect for date night or to dress up denim and intimidate everyone around you.
As soon as I spotted these, I knew they were quality.
A quick search revealed that similar FIEL shoes run $120 - $200 regular retail!  They were $7!!
These were a good reminder to be open to getting off-season scores when you stumble upon them, or into them as it were!

Riki nabbed a couple other pairs of shoes as well and now has options for all her real-life style activities!  Next we moved onto denim.  Shopping for denim at VV Boutique requires some patience!  There is a huge selection and you have to try on A LOT in a variety of sizes to find a few that fit (as is the case for all pants in my experience, #afraidofpants).  It certainly helps to have someone to throw them over the fitting room door and hang up the rejects.  Also, immediate success never hurts, and so it was for Riki with these FIDELITY beauties, the first pair she tried on!
Buttery soft boyfriend-denim goodness.
These retail for around $188US and Riki got them for $7!!!
And if these weren't enough of a good start, the next pair she tried on were...
You can't wear skinny jeans all the time!  
These 7's had light distressing, just enough to be chic without showing any skin, a desirable denim-feature for rink-dwellers!
Both of those pairs were $7 with the 30% off.

Riki scored a couple more pairs of jeans...
Nice worn-wash and pocket detailing on these, and no need for hemming!
This pair of skinnies fit perfectly and had a nice dark wash and pocket detailing.
And they were new-with-tags!

I always feel like I'm "doing my job" when I choose pieces for clients that they wouldn't have chosen themselves yet end up loving them!  Riki wouldn't have grabbed these purple textured skinnies but...
She loved them!
And I loved the vintage floral sweatshirt but it didn't make the cut amongst all her other top options!

Speaking of tops, Riki found many tops in a good variety of patterns, colours and styles.  She can mix and match them with the scarves she also found, like the leopard print above and these beauties, plus a few more!
Remember what I said about scarves...we have ~ 180 scarf-wearing opportunities, so we need lots!

A good winter style formula for Riki is: denim/bottom base + top + scarf + some other element to achieve the "Rule of 3" - you need 3 elements to your outfit to have a cohesive look.  Denim as a base is a neutral so doesn't really count as an element, just like basic black trousers wouldn't, but those purple pants would count, or a patterned skirt!  So for the style formula above, Riki's 3rd element may be her boots, a necklace or earrings, a belt, or a third layer - layering tank, cardi over a long-sleeve tee, blazer or sweater over a collared-and-cuffed button-up.  Here's an example of a completed outfit:
The scarf finished off this look!  Without the scarf, it's meh.
A necklace would also look fab!

We didn't focus on the Rule of 3 while snapping shots of all Riki's tops, but she knows what to do!
Stripey light-weight sweater!  I would finish the look with big hoops!
Loved the button detailing on the shoulder of this Cleo sweater!
You CAN layer a necklace with a scarf - and what a gorgeous blanket scarf that is!
Riki could also wear the fuchsia one for a little colour-neighbour action, and she could wear the blanket scarf with the stripes above for some pattern-mixing action!
This pretty cotton coral sweater was a perfect match to the coral stripe in the blue leopard scarf!
I might try the blue-striped long sleeve tee under the sweater for a contrasting third layer!
The jersey gray top had a ballerina feel to it and looked like it was meant to be with the grey/black striped long-sleeve tee.
This dark floral sheer sweater will be perfect in all seasons, and it had a nice high-low hem line!
Couldn't resist this alphabet-print sweatshirt!
The purple belted vest didn't look like much on the hanger but looked great on!
Pieces like this are nice for that third layer, especially with default stripes!
When you live in Canada, sometimes you layer a motivational sweater under a blazer.

Riki also scored a couple dresses...
Grey Zara perfection!  
Riki is a petite so could get away with this without tights in the summer but it will look great over tights or leggings in the winter!
AND she scored a couple staple belts including a brown braided leather and this leather tan belt.
Which I have been hunting for.  #thriftenvy
This high-low jersey dress is the same as my mustard dress which I wore in every season!
It's surprisingly easy to layer - I could see one of her striped tops underneath!
BTW, it was great for working with kids - very forgiving, little flashing. (at least, I think so)

Riki scored a nice coat - warm enough for the rink and mild winter days... 
Loved the feminine tailoring of this coat... which is something you can't always say about winter outerwear.

And to finish off her trip, Riki got two bags including a brown Danier leather bag and...
$7 for this Matt & Nat that retails for at least $100!
Good size, fabulous colour - great score!

All total, Riki scored 47 pieces for an average cost per piece of $8.07 including my fee!  Those 30% off cards make a huge difference to the bottom line - Riki saved $113.53 and still found hundreds of dollars worth of quality pieces that will add tons of mileage to her wardrobe!  It was a pleasure shopping with Riki and I can't wait to see her "new" pieces in action!

P.S.  I am compiling all my thrift-guiding adventures on one page - coming soon!

Wednesday 19 November 2014

First Impression Fashion Formula

Sometimes the best laid outfits don't end up working out the morning you intended to wear them.  That's what happened to me this morning.  I was scheduled to meet and work with a new client for my private OT practice and laid out what I thought was the perfect outfit then as I was brushing my teeth with about 40 minutes till departure-time, I started thinking about my Michael Kors cobalt blazer and had a last minute change of outfit plans...
Michael Kors blazer gifted but thrifted for $7!!!

You can't really blame me, right?  Look at it - it's gorgeous!  
Mustard strand $3 Salvation Army Thrift Shop

My wild Wednesday behaviour got me thinking about why I changed my mind.  I had selected a grey blazer and neutral top but I wanted my new clients to see me as colourful not neutral; as fun, passionate and engaging; not too stiff but still professional; willing to crawl on the floor (or down the stairs as it turned out) but still polished.  Basically, I expected my outfit to convey quite a lot.  To break it down:
  1. A blazer is a must for any professional first impression.  With thrifted prices, blazers are affordable for everyone and I have always found an excellent selection.  If you are facing a more conservative first meeting, choose the neutral that I tossed aside today.  I work in pediatrics which is anything but conservative, so colourful was totally acceptable and even preferable.  Children really are drawn to colour and if you follow me on Instagram, there are always "colour days" so it never hurts to have a rainbow of options!  This particular blazer is cut and tailored impeccably and in perfect condition.  I have no idea why someone would donate it, but whoever you are, THANK YOU.  Another blazer bonus: pockets!  You need somewhere to keep your phone tissue in case of emergency.
  2. Patterned under-layer.  Floral doesn't scream November but dark floral is a Fall trend so I went with it.  I liked that the shell didn't add bulk and that the length allowed me to create a short over long over skinny look.  I don't necessarily need a coordinating colour in my pattern, but first impressions call for matchy-matchy rather than mix-not-match
  3. Neutral bottom.  In my cobalt-blazer research, I noted that black pants or denim were the most common bottom pieces.  Well, denim is obviously out -  NEVER EVER EVER wear denim to an interview or professional meeting no matter how casual - and my black pants are meh.  These cords on the other hand are stretchy and comfy yet structured.  Plus it's cold.  
  4. You could skip 2 and 3 by wearing a dress.  But I needed to leave my options open for sitting on the floor, lifting, transferring and what have you.  Also, sometimes people get the wrong idea about dresses.  They think you're uppity but really, you just don't like waistbands.  #afraidofpants  In any case, I didn't want to chance it today.
  5. Quality footwear.  No sneakers or even Toms.  #sorrynotsorry  Opt for closed toe closed heel, not too flashy... unless I'm interviewing, then wear your most fantastic shoes because they might just seal the deal and next thing you know, we're friends for life.  Shoes can do that. 
  6. Finishing touches.  You know how I feel about accessories.  You wouldn't walk into a first meeting naked, so don't walk in without at least earrings and a necklace.
A scarf is a nice finishing touch, especially if it's mustard.

I think I made a decent first impression.  I fit in with the general vibe of the other staff - young, hip and accessorized...  Shush about the young part, just let me fit in.  I wasn't over-dressed and I even got hugs from a few kids including a girl in a sequins purple top.  I told her to come see me in twenty years for a job.
Love you, Cobalt Kors!
Last look at colour-wheel opposites hanging out amongst the flowers in perfect first-impression fashion harmony!