Castañer Carina espadrilles

Impulse Buying

Black and khaki outfit

Impulse buying often carries a negative connotation. The act of making an unplanned purchase is generally considered irrational, irresponsible, and something to be avoided. I, on the other hand, disagree. A few of my most loved pieces were acquired through impulsive transactions. My most recently impulse buy: this skirt from Banana Republic Factory. I knew I had to have it the moment I laid eyes on it.

The item is an online exclusive, but I stumbled upon it at the Chestnut Street location. There was only one in the store (probably a return), and after trying it on, I decided that I needed to go a size up. An associate offered to order it for me; the process was incredibly quick and so was the shipping. This skirt fits my personal style to a tee; it’s A-line and has pleats and pockets. Truth be told, I probably would have ordered a second skirt in black if it hadn’t been sold out.

Making impulsive purchases isn’t a habit of mine, but sometimes when an item of clothing speaks to me, I know that we are meant to be. The question remains: How does one impulse buy responsibly? Making room in your budget for these types of purchases is key. You shouldn’t be impulse buying at Gucci if you can’t pay your rent. The maximum amount that I am willing to spend on an impulse buy is somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 USD. If you cannot set a price limit for your surprise purchases or refrain from gifting to yourself too often, impulse buying isn’t for you.

Works Sighted

J.Crew puff-sleeve top (old) // Banana Republic Factory skirt // Castañer Carina 60mm Wedge Espadrille

Color Combination: Black and White

A white and black outfit

Although I own a wardrobe that allows me to get dressed with ease, sometimes assembling ensembles requires a bit of thinking. When I start to overthink the process, I turn to the black and white color combination. My favorite variation: black top/white skirt/black shoes. White top/black skirt/black shoes comes in a close second.

In this context, the term white encompasses off-white colors such as beige or cream. Swapping the skirt out for a pair of pants is also a viable option. However, let it be known that white pants are a point of contention for me. (Perhaps we’ll revisit the topic at a later date.)

P.S. It’s been warm enough in PHL to show a little skin. Ladies, I said a little.

Works Sighted

Who What Wear top (old) // Hobbs skirt (old) // Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille

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

Seersucker in Summer

J.Crew Factory dress, Castañer Carina espadrilles, and Kate Spade sunglasses.

Many fabrics have the ability to transcend different seasons, but seersucker is not one of these. It belongs in summer. You may begin to wear it in spring, but only after the low temperatures have disappeared from the forecast. If the meteorologist predicts snow, your seersucker pieces will have to wait a little while longer for their moment.

Nothing says summer like those blue and white stripes. Although you’ll see seersucker in solid hues and stripes of various colors, the fabric is traditionally worn in its signature scheme of blue and white. The shade of blue and the width of the stripes vary between garments but still maintain a general air of uniformity. The term ‘seersucker’ is derived from the Persian phrase ‘shir o shakka,’ which means milk and sugar, and the material has a texture that is simultaneously smooth (like milk) and bumpy (like sugar). The puckered fabric pulls the garment away from the body, sort of like wearable air conditioning; you’ll have to feel it to get the full effect.

When the warm weather becomes stable, you may wear as much seersucker as your heart desires (caution: during the day, never at night). However, before you run off to scower the web for potential additions, I must inform you that acquiring a selection of seersucker is a rather slow process. It’s not like amassing a selection of white tee shirts. I’ve found that seersucker pieces of quality are far and few between.

I’ve come across some products masquerading as seersucker that were made mainly of polyester. Repeat after me: “Seersucker is made of cotton.” While it is permissible to add elastane or similar fabric for a hint of stretch, the garment should be primarily made of cotton. Swimsuits are the exception to this rule. Bathing suit coverups are not.

Works Sighted

J.Crew Factory dress (sold out); Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

Further Reading

Brooks Brothers striped stretch cotton seersucker dress; J.Crew sheath dress in stretch seersucker; Brooks Brothers striped stretch cotton seersucker skirt; L.L.Bean Vacationland seersucker shirt; J.Crew Parke blazer in stretch seersucker; J.Crew Cameron slim crop pant in stretch seersucker; Brooks Brothers striped stretch cotton seersucker jacket; Brooks Brothers striped stretch cotton seersucker pants; Polo Ralph Lauren cotton seersucker blazer; Polo Ralph Lauren cotton seersucker pant

When Only a Sundress Will Do

Loft Outlet dress, Castañer Carina espadrille, and J.Crew rattan clutch.

When the temperature surpasses 90°F, a sundress is the only option. In case there is any discrepancy regarding the definition of a sundress, I will define it now. I consider this type of dress to be made of a lightweight natural fiber such as cotton or linen. It has skinny straps and a length that hits somewhere around the knee or mid-calf. A maxi dress does not fit this definition. The purpose of a sundress is to keep the wearer cool in the ridiculous summer heat. How can you stay cool in a maxi?

I generally gravitate towards dresses with defined necklines, and I don’t come across sundresses that I like often. In fact, this striped number from Loft Outlet is the only one of its kind in my closet. My friends have dubbed it the Megan dress because it suits me in more ways than one. My personal style is so defined that anyone who knows me can guess whether or not I’d wear a particular item. I can’t resist cotton and stripes, especially when the two are combined as they are in this particular dress that I purchased last year.

Works Sighted

Loft Outlet dress (old); Kate Spade sunglasses (old); J.Crew rattan clutch with chain strapCastañer Carina 60mm Wedge Espadrille; Sunbody swinger 5-inch wide brim Guatemalan palm leaf straw hat

Further Reading

Club Monaco belted A-line dress; Everlane cotton weave picnic dress; J.Crew tie-waist midi dress in seersucker; Tribe Alive linen slip dress; Brooks Brothers floral-embroidered cotton eyelet dress

The Charming Sun Hat

Sunhat by Sunbody Hats, J.Crew seersucker shirt, Hobbs skirt, and Castañer Carina espadrilles.

Although I don’t require an umbrella at the beach, I do need sunglasses and a little bit of shade for my face, otherwise I feel overheated. One summer day, after sitting on the sand with my family for many hours, I vowed never to spend an unprepared eternity in the sunshine again. My sunglasses hadn’t provided enough shade for the cloudless day. Thus, I set out on a mission to acquire a sun hat before our next stay in Cape May.

I’ve never been able to wear one-size-fits-all hats, and finding one that was offered in numbered sizes proved challenging. During the course of my search, I stumbled upon Village Hat Shop, an online retailer with five brick and mortar locations in California. They carry a brand by the name of Sunbody Hats, which is based in Houston, Texas and specializes in palm leaf designs. Village Hat Shop offers an extensive range of products from this brand, and I ultimately decided to purchase one with a 5-inch brim. It was delivered in a rather large box and the packaging inside somehow suspended the product so that it wouldn’t get jostled around whilst in transit. Although I purchased this hat to wear on long beach days, I also wear it in the city when the temperature rises. It provides UPF sun protection in the 50+ range and makes this Northerner look a little Southern.

Works Sighted

Sunbody swinger 5-inch wide brim Guatemalan palm leaf straw hat; J.Crew classic-fit boy shirt in seersucker; Hobbs skirt (old); J.Crew rattan clutch with chain strap; Castañer Carina 60mm wedge espadrille