Lessons

How I Thrift Without Buyer’s Remorse

A thrift shop is a treasure chest. You never know what you’re going to find, which is why it is best to visit frequently. I don’t go to secondhand shops as often as I would like. Thus, I have to remind myself to exercise a little restraint on trips like these. How do I shop intentionally in a store full of bargains?

First, I allow myself to pick up any and every item that speaks to me. If I bypass something that piques my interest, someone else might scoop it up (and we can’t have that). I see the other shoppers as my opponents, and from the moment I enter the store, I am competing with them for the best finds.

After hunting and gathering to my heart’s content, it’s time to edit. I’ve found it helpful to research products by brand name on my phone. On my last trip to Goodwill in May, I returned a set of teacups and saucers to the shelf when I discovered they contained lead.

After letting go of items that I don’t have any use for, it’s time to edit again. I hold each item and, à la Marie Kondo’s method, ask myself if it sparks joy. If I’m in possession of any excessive products at this point, I return them to their original places.

Finally, I evaluate how the item(s) I am left with will fit into my life. At the end of my last excursion to Goodwill, I walked away with a Sail to Sable dress for US$ 25. The original tag read $198, and even after paying $50 to get it tailored, I still consider the price a bargain. (The vertical, white inserts on the sides were added to allow for more hip room.) If I factor in cost per wear, the dress was practically free. I’ve been wearing it several times per week and intend to do so for the rest of the summer. It gets washed in a bucket and hung to dry between laundry loads.

Works Sighted

Sail to Sable dress (thrifted) // Superga 2750 Cotu Classic

How to Discover New Brands in 4 Steps

A brand’s products speak to its history and vision. Thus, reading a business’s about page is on par with making a wish list. Recently, I became aquatinted with the following brands: Poppy and Sage, Verve Culture, and Papillon Press. The process by which I became aware of them can be easily replicated. Here’s how to discover new brands in four steps:

Step 1: Make a Map // I started designing city guides to map past shopping experiences and ones on the horizon. Adding pins to the Philadelphia Guide compelled me to make an immediate plan to visit Moon + Arrow, a boutique that had been on my radar for years. Destination: 742 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

Step 2: Go Brick-and-Mortar // Having the opportunity to experience carefully-curated spaces with my senses is a privilege. When I opened the door to M + A, the scent of something pleasant wafted over me. I was transported to a sunny seaside place void of SEPTA buses. A basket tote by Poppy and Sage and a citrus press by Verve Culture further inspired my vision. As did sea-glass-tinted Moroccan glassware (also under the Verve Culture label).

Step 3: Talk to Shop Employees // My conversation with a lovely M + A employee led me to Walter Pine, an oasis and floral studio across the street (729 S 4th St). In a green sea of houseplants, I discovered Papillon Press, a letterpress company specializing in notebooks and greeting cards.

Step 4: Research Online // Upon returning home, I took to the internet to investigate all of the brands I’d been introduced to during my outings. Compiling a mental list of most-liked products provided an opportunity for reflection.

Founders Roll Call: Poppy and Sage: Robert and Carly Waters // Verve Culture: Jacquie Lewis, Jules Vertrees, and Sarah Laping Garland // Papillon Press: Madeleine and Vernon Wiering // Moon + Arrow: Chelsea Pearce // Walter Pine: David and Christina Cavagnaro

Works Sighted: Scenes from my visit to Moon + Arrow

Why You Should Invest in Sportswear

Athleta contender tights, Lululemon back in action long sleeve, Old Navy vest, Brooks ghost 11, Fitbit Alta HR, Kate Spade sunglasses

Adequate sportswear is fundamental to a successful workout. When it comes to shoes, there are a few things that make me cringe: shoes that need to be resoled, price stickers left on the bottom of shoes, and people who workout in shoes that aren’t sneakers. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a woman wearing clogs to my spin class. In the same vein, I was beside myself when two women showed up to my yoga class wearing the clothes they’d worn to work that morning.

Not only does dressing appropriately for the gym serve a practical purpose, but it also raises your confidence. You should invest in pieces that make you feel invincible during the activities in which you choose to partake. I like yoga, interval training, walking outside, and running on the treadmill. I used to wear old tee shirts whilst exercising, but those days are far behind me.

Starting your athletic wear collection is similar to developing your personal style. Begin by trying on tights and tops from a variety of brands. I favor Athleta and Lululemon. Take note of the activities for which each piece is intended. For example, Athleta’s contender tight is suitable for high and medium impact workouts, and I often wear this style to fitness sessions with my personal trainer

Once you’ve narrowed down your selection and determined which items would suit your favorite activities, the next step is simple. Acquire a week’s worth of workout wear (gradually, if you must). Having to do laundry in the middle of the week isn’t ideal (you’re busy enough). You don’t need any excuse not to exercise on a regular basis.

Works Sighted

Old Navy vest (old); Lululemon back in action long sleeve; Athleta contender tight (old); Brooks ghost 11 (old); Fitbit Alta HR; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

How to Establish a Color Palette

Lauren Ralph Lauren dress, J.McLaughlin basket bag, and Superga 2790 Acotw.

Establishing a color palette is an essential aspect of developing your personal style. A wardrobe’s palette is made up of base colors, accent colors, and patterns (note: I’m not going to acknowledge prints on this blog unless they’re on silk scarves). The base colors are the ones that appear in your lineup most often. Unless you are Elle Woods, your base colors are probably neutrals (as they should be). Their job is to anchor your outfits while the accent colors and patterns add interest to the mix.

If you’ve read Develop Your Personal Style with These 3 Habits, you’ll recall that you can discover a lot about your clothing preferences by window shopping. To uncover your color palette, observe the hues that appear in your wardrobe. If you are overhauling your closet, think about your ideal clothing selection. Rank the colors according to quantity in a hierarchy pyramid. Whatever color(s) you see on the bottom of your pyramid is the base of your palette. The colors that appear less often are the accent colors. I’ll illustrate this point using my own palette as an example.

Blue, specifically navy, is my primary base color, followed by black. I incorporate white, cream, camel, and grey into my wardrobe too, but I don’t consider them base colors per se. They exist somewhere between the base and accent categories. I’d wear all navy or all black but probably wouldn’t wear a monochrome outfit in white, cream, camel, or grey. My true accent colors are purple, pink, red, and (occasionally) green. The shades I favor within these five color groups pair well with one or both of my base colors. The same is true for my selection of stripes, seersucker, gingham, and occasional polka dot.

Establishing the base colors of your wardrobe will make getting dressed a lot easier. Not only is navy the primary base of my palette, but it is also the one I feel most powerful in. It’s not out of character for me to wear five navy dresses in one week. In fact, I’ve even been know to wear the same dress on two consecutive days, washing it in a bucket between wears.

Works Sighted: Lauren Ralph Lauren dress (old); Superga 2790 Acotw (navy); J.McLaughlin basket bag; Fitbit Alta HR; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

How to Get Ready for a Virtual Meeting

Warby Parker Jennings glasses, GLDN Yue Necklace; and J.Crew slim perfect shirt in linen.

It has come to my attention that some people aren’t dressing appropriately for their virtual meetings. Although you may not dress as professionally as you did when you were going to the office, I implore you to put an adequate amount of effort into your on-screen appearance. Connecting with your coworkers via Zoom or a similar platform instead of face-to-face doesn’t give you license to show up unkempt. It goes without saying that you should be fully dressed from top to bottom. Please don’t skip the bottom half because you think no one will see it. Anything could happen; you could be asked to stand up for a brief team stretch one day. Footwear is the only aspect of your look that is optional.

For meetings of a professional nature, a button-up shirt will look just fine. I usually opt for a white or blue shirt and an A-line skirt. Aside from my everyday stud earrings, I accessorize with either a dainty gold necklace or a silk scarf around my neck. I make sure my hair is ready for the camera, and if the situation warrants a little extra polish, I’ll take a few minutes to apply a bit of tinted moisturizer, brow pencil, eyeliner, and mascara.

When the time comes to turn on the webcam, I utilize a white wall with decorative molding for the background. I want people to pay attention to me (not my belongings) when I speak. I level my laptop with my face and shoulders for the best vantage point. My standing desk has been particularly useful to this extent, but, even when the desk is raised fully, I still require a few books to elevate the computer the rest of the way.

I realize that most people who started working from home due to the current state of things may not have a home office or a space that lends itself to a makeshift one. As with everything in life, you’ll have to do your best. You may not be able to orchestrate every aspect of your setup perfectly, but you can put on a clean, wrinkle-free outfit, do your hair, and make sure your face is presentable. With a bit of creativity, you should be able to raise your laptop or webcam to a height that flatters your face. Also, I shouldn’t have to point this out, but I will for good measure: attending virtual meetings whilst in bed is not professional behavior. Your coworkers shouldn’t have to look at your bedsheets, no matter how nice they are.

If you’re congregating with friends, no one should care what you or your background look like; a friend is someone who accepts you regardless of your appearance. However, I suggest that you show up to your virtual happy hours looking presentable so that those closest to you aren’t left to unnecessarily question your wellbeing. Of course, if you haven’t been doing so well in the current situation, it’s a good idea to confide in trustworthy friends and family members. But, if you’re thriving, there’s no need to give those closest to you the impression that you are unwell.

Works Sighted

Warby Parker Jennings glasses (old); GLDN Yue Necklace; J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen

Develop Your Personal Style with These 3 Habits

J.Crew dress and Castañer Carina espadrilles

Window Shopping

Window shopping is one of my favorite pastimes and an essential first step in surveying the world of retail. Window shopping online is an effective tool for browsing a large quantity of products efficiently. If you decide to visit a store in person, utilizing the company’s website to establish your interests in specific items in advance will add purpose to your visit. Whether you decide to browse online or in store, both means of window shopping will help you determine your clothing preferences. Don’t be afraid to look at items outside of your budget. You won’t be able to find a reasonably-priced version of the $3,000 Chanel skirt you discovered if you’re not aware that the Chanel skirt exists in the first place.

Keep track of your favorite outfits and items in a way that works for you; I use Pinterest. A visual reminder of your tastes will guide you through racks of endless merchandise. The term ‘window shopping’ implies that the customer is browsing without the intention of buying. Don’t allow overly-eager sales associates to upend your time of self-discovery. You’re allowed to say, “I’m just looking.”

Many brands roll out new pieces every month. In order to determine which items are worth trying on in the fitting room or ordering online, evaluate how each item on your list of favorites would complement your lifestyle. It doesn’t make sense to try on something that you can’t see yourself wearing on a regular basis (unless you’re doing it purely for fun or for a wedding).

Trying on Clothes

A visit to the fitting room enables you to try on multiple sizes and styles before making a purchase. If something doesn’t work for you, it is best to find out before you pay for it. Don’t overlook the importance of selecting the correct size if you opt for online ordering instead. It is a good idea to order multiple sizes at once if you are unsure about fit. It’s not wise to keep an incorrect size or an unflattering item because you don’t want to be bothered with returning it. Returns really aren’t that arduous if you are familiar with the process and policies of the retailer you’re dealing with. Companies will oftentimes offer free shipping with a spending minimum and flat-rate returns. This means that if you spend above the minimum, you won’t pay for shipping, and all of your returns can go back in one box at a flat rate (usually between $5.00 and $7.50). Once you’ve tried on enough clothes, you’ll eventually curate a mental list of your favorite retailers and learn what sizes fit you best within each brand.

Remaining True to Yourself

You’ll know that you’ve grown into your own style when you spot an item of clothing and think, Aah, I have to have this. Your wardrobe should be a labor of self-love, and you should feel good in your clothes. Never settle for something that doesn’t suit you. If it is worth the money and effort to have a piece of clothing modified or tailored for you, by all means, do it. However, if you don’t have any intention of taking an ill-fitting piece of clothing to the tailor, don’t buy it. Quality over quantity, my friend.

Works Sighted

J.Crew dress (sold out); Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille