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!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Triple Thrifted P (as in Purple)

Anyone go thrifting this weekend?  Even though I went to the beautiful winter mountains, I managed a quick stop at VV Boutique on the way home and good thing because I was running low on my purple-ish footwear options.

Q: How many purple footwear options does one need?
A: As many as you find while thrifting.

I now have three options, which was more than enough to round out my purpley outfit-of-the-day...
It felt like a casting call.
Mantles loafer-pumps $8, light purple boots $9.50, Browns leather boots $7 VV Boutique 

Today was not a Premeditated Purple day.  In fact, here's how triple-purple came to be:
I issued the Monday Style Prompt: rock a blanket scarf.  Then, I learned that my friend and style colleague thrifted a Banana Republic dress this weekend, prompting me to want to wear my latest thrifted BR dress which happens to be purple.  That led me to my blanket scarf selection where the clear choice was the purple one.  Purple purple.  That led me to consider my shoe options and I simply couldn't wait to wear the unworn light-purple suede back-lace-ups that I scored yesterday!  Purple purple purple
BR dress $10.50, blanket scarf $3.50, tights and accessories from my closet 
and Indigo by Clarks grey loafers $10, all VV Boutique.
Wait wha?

I know what you're thinking.  There are only two purples right there.  Well, my 4yo was not on duty this morning which meant that the one shot of my fully purpley outfit taken by my 42yo photographer was blurry so you'll have to settle for adult-segmented-photography...
These boots came with a rather ugly shoelace up the back which I swapped out for ribbon at the suggestion of my knowledgeable-in-all-things-Ugg-and-Lulu friend Kim.  Thanks Kim!  I might even look for some other ribbon options!  
Part of my glamorous life is needing outdoor and indoor shoes, so I wore the suede boots outdoors and the perfect-condition Clarks loafers - also scored yesterday - indoors.  Win win.  But we're here to talk about the Monday Style Prompt and my "blanketmina" (blanket scarf + pashmina = blanketmina, new term courtesy of Chantel's brilliance).
Lazy-girl's wrap, long-tail choker, rolled & looped
Fold & pull, brooched.
 Five variations and I'm not even scarf-skilled!!  

I looked this weekend for a large square plaid blanket scarf, but alas, sometimes life gives you purple suede instead of plaid.  That's the way the (thrifting) cookie crumbles.  Mmmm, I like cookies.  And scarves.  And purple...
I actually wore it like a blanket during a meeting today!
It was chilly in the room!

Anyone else rock a blanket scarf today?  If you find one while thrifting, snatch it up... before I do!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

What the Heck is a Blanket Scarf?

In the good ol' days, scarves were for outdoors and blankets were for indoors and ne'er the twain shall meet...until 2014.  Now, bloggers and stores and mags are all abuzz about the "blanket scarf."  I admit, I'm reluctant.  I get too hot at work to wear a big scarf all day, so if I'm counting on my scarf to make my outfit, I tend to choose a lighter scarfBut, I am a fashion blogger and I am not immune to all the cozy blanket scarf selfies of contentment.  So, I consulted my Style Advisor (Pinterest) then turned to my closet to see if I might have a small blanket to wear...  Lo and behold, I remembered the Burberry plaid-print scarf I bought in 1998 and have barely worn since then because it is as big as a blanket!
If you are 16 years old, you're the same age as this scarf.

Your moment is here Scarf, take the stage:
This scarf makes your standard infinity scarf seem downright flimsy.
Photographed with my JBrand denim, plus $6.30 turtleneck and $7 Chie Mahara booties from VV Boutique

That discovery got me thinking about another scarf that I actually used as a blanket all last winter... My favourite Megan made it for me with love (I added that last part) and I found it the perfect piece to drape across my shoulders at home or the office for an extra bit of cozy.  So, turns out I have TWO blanket scarves!  Woot woot!
Megan was way ahead of the trend when she crocheted this bad boy last winter,
in a great colour I might add!

As far as I can tell, a blanket scarf is just a big scarfTends to be plaid but who's going to argue when you're sporting the most stylish trend of the season?  Then I got to thinking some more that I also have a couple very large solid-coloured scarves previously known as pashminas.  Well, I'm going to go ahead and rename them blanket scarves just so that I can say I have 4 blanket scarves!
I didn't get a shot of this one laid out, but it's even larger than the Burberry.
Consigned from Stasia in Saskatoon for $8
$3.50 from VV Boutique

Blanket scarves are easier to work with than you might imagine.  Just don't over think it!  Throw it on and go forth with attitude!  In case you didn't notice my lack of creativity, I just did the standard scarf-wrap with all four above, but Pinterest has plenty of styling tips.  If you need some inspiration, try some of these blanket scarf styling ideas:

1. Pair with solids, chambray or stripes...
Remember: stripes are the default for any kind of pattern-mixing!

2. Drape it, belt it or add a brooch...
Belt $3.50 VV Boutique and the brooch was a gift from a friend but brooches are a great item to thrift!

3. Finish your look - some makeup touches, sunnies or a nice bag will ensure you look like you're wearing clothes and are not just wrapped up in a blanket!
 scarf tricks / wit & delight Big scarves are LOVELY. I have worn blankets on more than one occasion.
Love this image showing just how chic the blanket scarf can be!

My blanket scarves are rectangular but I have also seen gigantic square ones.  I've even seen some Instagram posts about cutting the square blanket scarf in half to reduce the bulk but keep the look.  If you're handy, you could bribe your friends to make you one make your own.  I would bet there are plenty of blanket scarves to be found at VV Boutique and other thrift shops!  I will add it to my hunting list, just in case I need to increase my collection to 5 or more.
I admit, I now want a big square plaid scarf... I will suggest that for my family for Christmas!

If I learned anything in my research, it's to hang onto quality scarves for a decade or two!  Also, a word of advice: don't rule out your infinity scarves in the midst of the blanket-scarf frenzy.  There are plenty of cold days ahead.  If I conservatively estimate 6 months of scarf-wearing, that's 180 opportunities to give every last scarf you own plenty of wear-time.  Better get a couple more just to be safe!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Winter Style Formula

Winter style is tricky.  At some point (I think it's about -17degrees), you stop caring about looking stylish and only care about surviving the elements - and I'm not only talking outdoors.  I'm talking about going from the frigid cold into the various indoor settings - work and school and shopping and foyers - each with its own climate.  Real winter style can be hot and cold and so my solution, for today anyway, is to wear comfortable layers that I can don and doff (raise the roof for OT terminology...I'm a nerd) as I go about my day.  Today I started with...
Striped tee $2, navy Gap cords $4.20, Clarks booties $13, necklace $3 VV Boutique
Fab navy earrings by She Does Create

This is no miraculous fashion outfit base, but sometimes my work dictates that I must be able to move around, get on the floor, get messy and dirty.  As I've mentioned, I have a VERY glamorous life.  A basic white button-up or chambray would work well in place of the tee and any pattern here would add interest to the ensemble.  Depending on the day, tall boots could easily sub in and since I'm changing from winter boots into indoor shoes like any good primary school attendee, I might wear loafers or flats.  But there will be socks so just deal with it. 

Next, I added a scarf because the school I happened to be working in today tends to be a bit chilly and because, as I've mentioned, winter.
This beautiful Anthro scarf was a birthday gift from a very stylish and thoughtful friend.

In case you're wondering, YES it is fine to wear a necklace with a scarf, mainly because who has time to fuss with such details?  I wanted both so that I would still have a third element to my outfit if I removed my scarf.  Besides, I kinda like the look

Next, I added a soft boyfriend blazer...
Blazer $2 from Goodwill in Montana

This blazer is not exactly your typical winter colour BUT bright colour is on-trend for fall and winter and it reminded me of summer and bellinis and candy.  So there.  I used my style trick of pairing contrasting colours and threw in some neutral default stripes to make it all work.  The finishing layer could also be a cardi, vest, chambray or sweater.

Lastly, I needed to verify the outfit would work in the event of scarf removal...
Looks fine to me but it's a good reminder to always accessorize.
If I forget earrings, I might as well be naked.

Sure enough, my day saw me employ each and every one of these looks and I'm betting that the next bajillion months of cold will see this winter style formula in action many times over!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Lady In Red

A while ago, one of my friends commented that she was surprised to see me wearing red and had assumed I didn't like it because she didn't see me wearing it very often.  Well, nothing is farther from the truth!  I love red!  I was born on Valentine's Day so I believe I have an innate love of red (and chocolate).  But it was true that I had only a few red pieces in my wardrobe, for no particular reason, and ever since then I've been building up my red options!  I now have a beautiful Ann Taylor wrap dress, a "new" wool-cashmere red coat, red leather bag, red blouse, red belt, red kimono-style dress, red shoes, red pants and more than a few red accessories.  All that red and not a red sweater... until recently.  It is harder than you'd think to thrift a nice red sweater.  I finally found one at a VV Boutique in Ontario and decided it was the perfect piece for today's Monday Style Prompt: lady in red!
Red sweater $8, polka dot pants $5.60, Clarks booties $10 VV Boutique
Chambray $6 Salvation Army Thrift Shop

I love red and blue together so this was a natural pairing for me.  
I wouldn't normally wear polka dot denim to work on a Monday, but today is a day off so I'm just hanging out with my kids doing quality activities
Other "quality" activities included getting them to take blog photos, blogging while they played iPad 
and reading about how iPads "should" be banned for children under 12 written by a pediatric OT...etc.

I *might* have been running a bit late after a leisurely morning finishing my book, so I grabbed the first pair of socks I could find and ended up with some triple polka dot action...
River thinks sitting down is an invitation to be a 6-month-old 70lb lap dog.
Or maybe she likes polka dots.

Anyway, I like the poppy hue of this red sweater and foresee it getting lots of wear this winter.
The open weave adds warmth but doesn't feel as bulky as some sweaters.

Speaking of poppy red, the most important red you can wear this week has nothing to do with the Monday Style Prompt and everything to do with showing gratitude and respect...
Wear poppy red for style, and a poppy in honour of those who fought and still fight for freedom.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Thrift Haul Saturday

After more than two years of full-time thrifting experience, I have developed a keen thrifting intuition.  Call it a gift if you will, but today, I had a strong sense to go to the Sherwood Park VV Boutique and the experience did not disappoint.  Though I did not find the cognac boots and olive cardi that I was hunting for, I found several other great pieces AND got a good start on my Christmas shopping(Shhhhhhhh)  Instead of just whisking my finds to the blogging queue, I had my expert fashion photographer snap some shots so I could share a bit about my thrifting haul - what I bought and why!
This Club Monaco blazer is ponte knit in the front and fine ribbed-knit in the back, like a cardi (even though it doesn't show well in the photo).  I loved the long length, the long sleeves and the colour!  Best of all, like all blazers from VV, it was inexpensive - only $8 less the 30% off I had for my entire purchase thanks to a filled donation sticker card - that's a sweet score for $5.60!
It snowed today where I live and this time, it's not temporary.  It's here to stay and I'm cold and looking for some new sweaters to get me through the next 7 months.  This $8.40 burnt orange beauty is Merino wool with mother-of-pearl buttons up the sleeves.  The neck isn't quite cowl and isn't quite turtleneck, so I'm thinking I can make it through a day at work without overheating and go out-and-about without freezing.  I love the colour and Merino wool is usually an indication of fair quality.  I think people buy wool pieces for that reason then end up not liking the feel of them.  As for me, I don't mind wool one bit so their loss donation is my cozy winter gain!
Okay, I got another wool sweater - a wool/silk toggle-cardi (there's a first) with a detachable faux-fur collar.  This sweater reminds me of the Aritzia TNA brand sweaters, but much more affordable at only $7!!
This Gap piece might be an actual dress on a smaller person but on me, it is a perfect pocketed long sweatshirt that I plan to wear with leggings or skinnies!  It was $10.50 which I found a bit pricey (!) but then I remembered how I've been wearing my grey heart sweatshirt to pieces, and I did mention there are SEVEN months of cold weather ahead so I'm sure I'll get a great cost-per-wear from this in the end.
Next up, an actual dress!  This classic plum Banana Republic dress was also $10.50 and will be perfect for Dressember and Black-Out Style!  It is a smidgen roomy but that might come in handy as I turn to baking and books for comfort in the winter months. 
Last up, this tweed blazer for $2.80!!  I almost passed it up before I glanced at the price tag and decided that I couldn't live without the purple and mustard accents for winter layering!!

Now, I must share that I WASHED all of these pieces even though most tags said to dry clean.  I decided it was worth the risk, so I washed them all on cold in the delicate cycle, took them out of the washer immediately and laid the sweaters flat to dry.  So far, it looks like nothing shrunk.  And one other thing I'll mention while I'm talking about shopping: I just want to clarify the term "popping tags;" when I say this, I mean I'm thrift shopping and can't wait to get home and "pop" the tags offSome people mean that they switch the tag with a lower-priced item and to be clear, that is NOT OKAY, that is stealing.  Thrift shopping for fun is an awesome privilege, and thrift shopping because you need to is a blessing that no one better mess with by stealing.  If you think an item is priced too high, you can:
  • wait for a sale
  • use a discount card (sticker card from donations, stamp card from purchases)
  • ask a manager to reconsider the price if it truly seems unreasonable
  • choose not to buy the item
With four reasonable options, there is no excuse to "pop tags" EXCEPT in the VV Boutique Style manner.  Agreed?!  Okay, I'll stop now.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I also scored some winter boots for $10.50 that remind me of the latest cool Sorel boots I've been seeing everywhere.  That's not all.  I found a pair of unworn Koolaburra boots for my daughter for about $50 less than regular retail...
and a pair of ruby slippers just in time for the holiday season (and this week's Monday Style Prompt!). 
When you get a 4yo with "heart and soul" in ruby slippers to take a bunch of photos, you have to expect some payback.  And so, she went and gathered a bunch of pieces from her closet then had me take pictures of her! 
We were basically playing "fashion blogger."  I will count that as a successful conclusion to my thrift haul Saturday!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

My Inner Anthro

If you're a regular reader of VV Boutique Style, you know that I love love love Anthropologie!  I love online window shopping, browsing the Anthro pins and Instagram feed, and reading through their magazine even when it features silly baking scenarios.  As a dedicated thrifter, I don't actually shop at Anthropologie often but I love finding thrifted Anthro brands and I have been known to copy Anthro looks with thrifted pieces like this time and this time.  I must have had Anthropologie on my mind this morning because I ended up in an outfit that reflects my inner Anthro!
Dress $11.90, Merino wool cardi $7, lilac shell $1.40 VV Boutique
Mustard Frye boots second-hand from Kijiji, handmedown leggings
Let's pretend there is a wind machine or I'm cavorting in nature and that's why my necklace is askew.
Accessories from VV Boutique and Accessorize back in the day.

I have had my eye out for pieces with a nature pattern, particularly butterflies, so I was thrilled to find this dress in soft colours that can easily be worn in Fall.
I didn't have a specific Anthro look in mind to copy, but the flowy dress-boots-necklace trio screams Anthro if you ask me.  An example or two or three...

You don't need to copy a look exactly for it to work.  Instead, I look for inspiration and the overall general vibe...
This has an Anthro vibe, non?!!

I can't wait to wear this dress again!  I have other boot options (green, purple, brown... all thrifted!) but today, I wanted to wear my mustard Fryes as an example of non-store second-hand shopping!  Should I wear my butterflies again tomorrow?!  I am seeing different people... 
Only time Instagram will tell...!