Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dress yourself, not somebody else

I wanted to take a minute to talk a little bit about style, fashion, and how it is portrayed within our culture. Often, high fashion is portrayed as something for people of high socioeconomic class. Many times, it is. New, brand name, this season, designer clothing is expensive. Check out Rag and BoneFree People, Alice and Olivia, or just about anything on Shop Bop. A lot of great new fashion is not financially available to everyone.  I do not think it is supposed to be. However, sometimes you need to take yourself out of elitism and realize that the things you wear should be representations of you, not what a few people think is the next big thing. After all, being debt free is more attractive than designer clothing.

Someone thought this was great. It certainly is creative, and probably does represent this lady. That doesn't mean you should wear it.
photo credit: <a href="">Urban Woodswalker</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

So, while you are keeping this is mind. Dress your body for your body. If skinny jeans don't make you feel skinny, do not force it. Feel like a clown in bright purple pants even though you've seen other people in them? I don't blame you. Feel like you are drowning in a pool of fabric in a maxi dress? It's okay to dress for a petite body and lose the long flowing dress. Do you wish you were a size 6 when you are a size 12? Don't wear the size 6 even if you can fit it over you. Wear clothes true to size. Wearing something too small or too big doesn't look good. Embrace your size, large or small. Focus on your health, not your size or weight. A healthy lifestyle is more important than dress measurements. On the same note, a well fitting dress will make you feel better than the number on the label. Does shopping at juniors stores and only fitting into a large or extra large size when you are usually a small or medium make you feel bad? Stop going there. Chances are, those clothes are not made for you anyways. Everything doesn't work for everyone. Focus on what works for you. This woman above did and you can just see that confidence. 

Different versions of the same thing.

Today's outfit is pretty much the same as the outfit discussed earlier in the Red, White, and Blue post. The shirt and necklace are the same, together costing $4.25. The cardigan was purchased from Salvation Army for around $4.00. The jeans are Levis and were probably bought around $30.00. So, for what I traditionally feature here, this would be a more expensive outfit. However, I am trying to illustrate that you can re-wear the same essential pieces with minor changes and have something that looks entirely different. Here I wear the same polka dot shirt and necklace, and simply change the pants and add a cardigan (Zara). Suddenly a summer outfit (a little red, white, and blue) turns into one appropriate for fall, or an unusually cold day in July. That's Chicago for you. Summer one day, fall the next.

Total Outfit Price: $38.25

Sunday, July 28, 2013


It's difficult to prioritize. With the different stresses of work, life, friends, family, kids, etc. prioritization and organization may not be at the top of the list. But, it can make you feel a lot better. Prioritize what you need, or will often use, rather than what you want. Functional style is a lot better than a closet full of once were trends.

Key Wardrobe Essentials and Basics to look your best (that you do not have to spend a lot on)

Pearl or faux-pearl necklace: easy, classes up any outfit immediately. The one pictured was a gift in high school that I still have.

Neutral Pants: cropped (summer), skinny ( to wear with boots) , and trouser (classic).
I've featured these skinny black pants in several outfits on this blog. They are originally from the Limited, and I found them at the Salvation Army thrift store. 

These neutral oatmeal pants go with almost anything. They are a traditional bootcut. These pants were purchased new from the Loft on a 60% off day so they were bought around $5.00 brand new. I simply do not believe in full price. 

Black Pencil Skirt: goes with everything  

This is also from the loft. And again from the price tag you can see that it was not very expensive. Now all I need are a few interviews...

The little black dress.
Cliche yes. But this dress has accompanied me to work, been worn casually, made an appearance at a funeral, and been worn to fancier events. Definitely versatile. Add a scarf and its more casual. Add pearls or fancy jewelry and you are dressed to impress. This dress is a basic sheath dress from H&M that was around $30-$40.  

Traditional Long Sleeve Blouse
It looks professional, and is machine washable. This was purchased at ORT resale shop for around $6.00 and was originally from JCrew. 

Patterned blouse and cardigan
This blouse is silk, comfortable and was bought for about $3.00. It is important to wear a tank of some sort if you are at any risk of sweating under a silk top because the fabric will absorb sweat and stink.  The cardigan has been around for a while and is from the Loft (one of my favorite stores for discounted basics). This combination can work for spring and summer. A patterned blouse adds interest while a cardigan can make it wearable in colder temperatures. 

Add some of these things together, and you have a professional, easily changeable outfit with versatile pieces. 

Total Outfit Price: $17.00

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bring it on home

 Your home is an important part of your style; it's a backdrop to your life and influences your mood. Your home is something you can style cheaply as well as your wardrobe. The photos included in this post include some of the things that have been fashioned or found for my home. The above picture is an art display over my couch. The large frame was purchased for $10.00 from Ikea and was in their "slightly damaged" section. The slightly smaller ones I had around from some old art projects. Inside of the frames are pieces of building/maintenance plans from 1943 for streets in Chicago including Willow Rd., State St., Cicero Ave., and Howard St. I bought these plans for $5.00 at an antique market. The woman I purchased them from said that they were found in her friend's basement when she purchased a house. I like having a piece of history displayed in a modern way in my living room. I think this could be done easily with personal artwork, maps, old posters, etc. Art $15.00
Chairs $20.00
The furniture pieces featured here are the greatest chairs known to man. They are the epitome of comfort and style. They are brown leather modern chairs. Each chair was $10.00 on Craigslist. I placed a sheepskin rug over each of them. My point in showing these things to you is that you can get nice, stylish furniture and decor without breaking the bank, and that I also like scrabble. I plan to sit on these chairs for as long as possible. What are your best home finds? Any creative projects in your home?

Chevron it


I'm trying to channel my inner Audrey Hepburn here. All items are from Salvation Army down to the shoes. Unfortunately, the turquoise necklace I'm wearing does not show up well in these photos. The top is from a brand called Gianni with which I am unfamiliar. I'm pretty sure this top came right from the 70s and turned up just in time for the return of this chevron trend. It was $3.25 and I wear it all the time. The pants were $5.25, originally from the The Limited. The shoes were an amazing find. I am pretty sure they are brand new based on there being pretty much no wear or tear on them and that they smell like new leather rather than feet. I know...the idea of second hand shoes is pretty questionable, but these seem like they've never touched anyone's feet. Why someone would buy a pair of Cole Haan shoes and donate them nearly new is beyond me. But, because of that I got them from $8.99 and can break them in myself. It looks like these shoes are on sale at Neiman Marcus if you want them for yourself at $60.00.  Or there are lots for sale on Ebay. What is your best recent find? Comment below.

Total Price: $17.49 including shoes

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Free Haircuts? A Review of Salon Apprentice

I needed a haircut. I had not had a haircut in months. However, I did not really have the $50.00 or so to shell out. So, I looked to Salon Apprentice. This website has stylists and students looking to give free salon services as part of furthering their education or certifications. This past Monday I set up an appointment with a stylist at Art and Science Salon in Wicker Park in Chicago. Haircuts there start at $53.00 for the least experienced stylists at this salon. I will say the set up was easy. I sent an email two days in advance and I had an appointment. Many are looking for specific times during the week such as Monday when many salons are closed for training. I received a long layered haircut free of charge aside from a tip. It took the stylist two hours to do, because he checked everything he did. I do not think I have ever had a more even haircut. Now, I was definitely antsy after two hours of sitting in this chair worrying about parking tickets, but because the haircut was being evaluated, the stylist took his time and did everything with care and precision. So, I have a pretty great haircut for a fraction of the cost that was done with extreme attention to detail. To anyone considering this, I recommend it without hesitation. The stylists are trained professionals doing continuing education or seeking more advanced certification. They are not students who have never done a cut before. Also, if they do not get a hair model. They have to cut a weird fake head of hair. They shouldn't have to do that...

A little red, white, and blue.

Red, white and blue. Being born on the fourth of July, this is one of my favorite color combinations. This top was purchased from Salvation Army for $3.50. It was originally from Banana Republic. The bottoms were also from Salvation Army, at a price of $5.25 and also originally from Banana Republic. The necklace was from a garage sale and cost $1.00. The belt came attached to a dress. The shoes are black flats (not included in total price) with a patent toe purchased from Payless, buy one get one half off for $25.00. I also have a nude pair.

Total Outfit Cost: $9.75

This outfit is easy to put together and is appropriate for almost any situation while still being fun. When I first bought this shirt and it was way to big. However, with some minor sewing machine alterations I was able to bring it in. I never knew how to do this but it is actually pretty easy. Put the shirt on, pinch the fabric to where it should be. Measure. Turn inside out. Mark where you want it brought in using the measurement you took on each side, for example 1 inch. Pin or draw straight line. Sew along those lines on both sides using a sewing machine or by hand. Done. You have a shirt that fits.

Monday, July 1, 2013

T-shirt and shorts

Today's outfit is a dressed up version of a t-shirt and shorts. This pair of denim cutoff black shorts is $12.80 from Forever 21. The top is a lime green tee with a unique square neckline and a zipper back detail not shown here. It was $10.00 from Target. The silk floral scarf was $2.00 from a thrift store. The black and white earrings were $1 from a flea market. The vintage look sunglasses are from Dollar General ($1.00). Sometimes I think the greatest outfits are ones with that take minimal effort. Minimal clothing items and a couple easy accessories should be all it takes. Anything else is too much work. If you cannot get ready within the hour it takes before you start your day, you probably are going to be late. Thanks for reading...Style me Cheap.

Total Cost of Outfit: $26