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helping my girls find life's finer things affordably

Category: shoes

putting together a fabulous wardrobe, part 3

so today we will be tackling (3), which is future shopping maintenance of one’s wardrobe!

this step is just as important as the first two steps, if not even more important; after purging one’s closet, it doesn’t make sense to go and fill it again with things that will just need to be purged again at a later occasion.  thus, how can we establish good style boundaries and purchasing habits that will be sure to keep your wardrobe in tip-top shape?

when shopping (especially at sales), ask yourself:

a) does this piece fit me properly, or will it need to be altered (cost effectiveness)?

this question is directed more at clothing than accessories/shoes….ask if the piece fits you like a glove or gives you the look you want (some people want an over-sized look, so the fit aimed for would be different)…and don’t buy the item if it’s too SMALL.  if it fits well, great!  move on to the next question.  if the piece doesn’t fit the right way, look at the price tag and establish if it’s a worthwhile purchase when you include alterations into the price ($10-15 for hemming, $20 or more for taking in and other changes).  usually the answer is no for items with a >$20 alterations add-on…if that’s the case, PUT IT BACK!

with shoes, if the shoes in question are half a size too big, the pair might be salvageable but putting in some sort of insoles ($5-10 depending on which types).  if the shoes are too snug, DON’T even think about it 😉

b) does this fit into my desired/established style profile (look, color palette, etc.)?

always stick to the style you have already decided upon; the emotional surge that comes from a sale can leave you disoriented and illogical (been there, done that).  focus on the aesthetic look and color of the piece: is it a good fit for your style?  if yes, move on to the next question.  if no, put the item down and run, RUN away!

c) can i make at least 3-4 outfits with the current pieces in my wardrobe?

this last question is especially important because you want to get maximum utility out of your potential piece.  if you can’t think of at least 3 outfits with current items in your wardrobe with this new piece, DO NOT purchase the item!  yeah, it sucks, that feeling but believe me, it’s better than losing your money into the dark vortex of shopping.

with dresses, this may be a little different because it’s harder to go beyond 2 ways of wearing the same dress.  when you buy a dress, i would focus on the shoes or accessories in your wardrobe that already go with it, striving for 2 looks with different shoes/accessories.

if the final answer is YESSSSSS, BUY IT!  yay, finally!

you’re gonna hate this process but it will be for the best, i promise. one of my highschool friends who looked fabulous all the time told her secret to being stylish was that she NEVER bought anything that didn’t look amazing on her–she was super strict about her purchases and had really high standards of what looked good on her–which is why she looked great with such minimal effort everyday.

one of my fav dresses

one of my fav dresses

i buy 95% of my clothes on while they’re on sale. my jeans are typically citizens (off 5th, nordstrom’s rack) or uniqlo (korea, i guess now in SF and online) while i typically get tees, other tops, shorts, dresses, and such from c&c, club monaco, off fifth, jcrew, petit bateau, velvet, michael stars, ella moss, or some random korean brand (bought when i went to visit m. c. in seoul) or from the korean clothes-selling newbury st. boutique (korean styles tend to be more stylish/fashionable, less simple/basic).

if your style profile is similar to mine, you’re in luck!!!  i’ll be suggesting some of the brands i typically look at/love the style of:

  • basics:
    • everlane (good everyday value but they’re perpetually sold out of what i want!)
    • c&c (good everyday value)
    • jcrew (good everyday value for tees, buy everything else on sale with student discount)
    • club monaco (buy on sale but great for basics, tees (fitted or loose style))
    • petit bateau (buy when on sale)
    • ella moss (buy when on sale)
    • splendid (buy when on sale)
    • velvet (buy when on sale)
    • joie and soft joie (more on the expensive end even on sale)
    • vince (more on the expensive end even on sale)
    • i know people are a fan of james perse but i haven’t bought anything from his collection
  • formal dresses (buy on sale at bloomies, nordies, neiman during their semi-annual sales):
    • shoshanna
    • rebecca taylor
    • alice and olivia
    • marc by marc jacobs
one of my white coats that i wore to one of my girls' wedding

one of my white coats worn to my girl’s wedding

so where do *i* look for sales? for the brands i *know* my exact sizing for, i get online when there are amazing sales (≥60% off).  a lot of the time, if i’ve seen and have tried on certain pieces that i love but can’t swallow the price tag, i wait until it goes on sale online usually when they’re ≥50% off.  these places include nordstrom, bloomies, and macy’s or directly from the brand’s website.  other places that i frequent include off 5th, nordstrom’s rack, and of course the jcrew outlet.

for super basic basics (tees, tanks, cotton/viscose/jersey tops), my sale bar is set lower, so 25% to 30% off the retail price is okay by me.

lastly, take care of your items…i’ve had some items stay with me for over 8 years now.  i wash my clothes appropriately (with woolite when needed, in laundry mesh bags for delicate/easy-to-snag materials) and try not to dry my clothes on too high of heat to prevent the fabric from dying a premature death.

with this game plan in hand, you’ll be sure to have a fabulous wardrobe for years to come!

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putting together a fabulous wardrobe, part 2

so on to accessories and shoes detox today!

in my opinion, shoes and accessories are just as important as clothing and actually, if i look back to my purchase history, the trend has been that i’m more willing to spend money on good pair of cute but comfortable shoes than on clothing.  typically, my cutoff of basics (tops, bottoms) is no more than $30-50 dollars (depending on the brand) and for formal items no more than $100, 150 depending on how fancy the item is.  but for shoes, i would spend more comfortably around $50-150 on a pair especially if it pays off in comfort (i’m looking at you, cole haan + nike air and stuart weitzman).  these prices of course are the sale prices and not the retail price.  with accessories, my main weaknesses are belts and scarves and since i don’t carry around handbags anymore and can’t really wear costume jewelry (sometimes i get a rash and my taste in jewelry is of the motto “the simpler, the better”), i only have three gold necklaces that i rotate around in addition to my belt and scarves collection.

so now, we tackle (2):

a) paring down one’s accessories:

think back to the style that you have now defined.  find all your accessories and place them on your working surface, be it bed, desk, or whatever.  which accessories that you currently have would go great with the outfits that you have now prepared with the clothes that survived the purge?  do you have scarves, belts, hats, etc. that would fit the color palette(s) you previously established?  do you have the appropriate jewelry that expresses the style that you would like to embody?  any accessories that you can’t answer “yes” for need to be left behind (gifted, donated, dumped, etc.).  don’t hold on to any items that would propel your style forward!

more concretely, for me this means that i only have five different colored spring/summer/fall scarves that enhance my outfits/keep my neck warm, that i’ve learned to wear/drape/tie appropriately with each outfit (i have two heavy duty cashmere scarves that is no longer in use for cali).  i like to wear contrasting colors together like a red dress with a vibrant purple scarf or a white tee with jeans and a grey cardigan with a light pink scarf.  play around with your options and figure out now which colors go well together so you’ll be able to grab-n-go later on.  with jewelry, i don’t wear bracelets because they’re a lab hazard (can be caught on things) and so wear only necklaces. i like really delicate pieces and usually don’t switch my necklaces around.  my current favorite piece is a look-alike of the tiffany’s elsa peretti diamonds by the yard piece (gah look at that pricetag!) which looks something like this:

from google

from google

i also have several belts (stretchy cinched waist belts, traditional thread-into-hole types, in vibrant colors, black, camel, etc.) that i’ve already identified for certain outfits.  do the same for your belts if applicable.  i especially like the patent belts at jcrew in fun colors which go on sale after the season and can be bought for around $8 to $15.  these are perfect for brightening up a dress, for example with color combos like neon poppy red with navy blue, or fuchsia with white, etc.

of course for summertime, sunglasses are a must so figure out what shape flatters your face the best (for me, only aviators) and purge your collection accordingly.

i have a collection of handbags that i don’t use since i’ve switched to wristlets (i have 3 i alternate)…i’m waiting to decide what to do with them.  if you are a handbags gal, be sure to include them in your assessment!

also take the time to identify what accessories may be missing for your collection.  write these things down so that later on when sale season comes, you can tailor your search just for those pieces and be focused (instead of buying indiscriminately).

b) shoes re-vamp:

be honest with your shoe collection.  which ones don’t you wear at all?  which ones are your favorites?  identify the attributes and jot them down for future reference.  any shoes that are falling apart but you love need to go to a cobbler to be fixed.  can’t be fixed?  trash them and write down the type as a “future sale” purchase and actively look for a replacement pair.  identify which gaps you may have in your shoe collection.

i’ve whittled down my collection to 20 pairs (including winter shoes):

spring/summer/fall shoe collection:

  1. black leather flats from jcrew with small gold studds
  2. black leather flats with bows by coach
  3. black patent coach heels for formal business attire
  4. black leather wedges by cole haan (with nike air!!!!) for business attire
  5. black and gold flat coach slingbacks
  6. rose gold leather flip flop-style wrap around sandals (weird i know but prevents accidental loss of shoe when stepped on)
  7. nude bcbg sandals
  8. peach suede flats from jcrew (new unworn recent purchase =D)
  9. magenta criss-cross, peep toe flats from cole haan
  10. gold stuart weitzman flats (sporty look)
  11. two pairs of random brand prada-look-alike baby wedges in coral/blue/nude and also in blue/nude (bought when on vacation in taiwan)
  12. formal gold and crystal strappy stuart weitzman heels (my baby!)
  13. brown leather minnetonka mocassins (a gift from a. e. s.)
  14. running shoes

winter shoes (in storage):

  1. heavy duty cole haan waterproof/snow dark brown suede lace up (hidden zip) boots (bday gift from mom)
  2. brown leather cole haan riding boots
  3. dark brown leather cole haan low wedge heel, knee high boots
  4. black coach leather knee high boots
  5. black celine leather round toe, knee high, wooden stacked heel boots (so very sexy, my special splurge for my 25th birthday)

man i’ve accumulated many pairs of shoes over these past five years!!!!  the last five i don’t even really get to wear in california except for the brief november through january period…it’s definitely not cold enough to warrant wearing.  additionally, i have a pair of stuart weitzman formal crystal and black strappy heels and a pair of valentino pink satin heels that i’m trying to decided what to do with; i most likely will sell them at a consignment store.  as you can see from the list above, i should not buy any more black shoes (or shoes for that matter)!  usually for the more expensive pairs, i get soles put on the bottom to extend their wear.  so worth it!

alrighties, it’s time for me to head off to bed!  have a great night peeps and until tomorrow for part 3!

putting together a fabulous wardrobe, part 1

since i’m moving up to berkeley for my new job in june, i’ve been inspired lately to reassess my wardrobe because moving unnecessary things is always painful.  that and after reading about wardrobe rehab on this blog, i’m inspired to write a little about how to put together and maintain a FABULOUS wardrobe in which you can grab-n-go and look awesome (because YOU’RE awesome, HIMYM-style, lol).  sale season is also coming up and reevaluation of one’s wardrobe will prevent you from making that unwise extraneous purchase that you couldn’t stop yourself from buying because it was ON SALE (hahah been there, done that many times).  having a game plan will help you shop smartly and not waste your precious moolah on stuff that won’t make you absolutely gorgeous.

now your wardrobe is a reflection of your personal style and tastes and differs greatly from personal to person.  i know i tend to gravitate toward simple, clean lines, very few layers and accessories (fans of the sartorialist are gonna hate me!), great cut and fabric, and skin tone-enhancing colors.  over the years, i’ve figured out a few tricks that i will establish here as guidelines in three parts and will try to write as generally as possible, giving concrete examples where applicable.  the three parts are:

[specific aim] (1) defining one’s look/style and clothing purge

[specific aim] (2) accessories and shoes purge

                       (3) future outlook: future purchasing habits after the purge

(…sounds a bit NIH grant-like, no?  i couldn’t help it)

today, we will tackle (1)!

a) defining one’s style:

(a.1) pick a look

(a.2) pick your color palette(s)

why do we need to do this?  because it will prevent you lots of grief and crying over spilled money later on.  also, it will make your wardrobe more fluid and easy to put together so that you will match in a good way and look nice without spending tons of time.  i have decided that my “look” is very much like this except with less heels.

mind you, my “look” is also decided by what looks good on me.  i know that i look better in simpler styles that have great cut and shape.  i actually really love and appreciate the boxy, oversized look, the rich girl preppy look, and also the sensual, sexier look but don’t have the body type for any of those styles (i look swallowed up by my clothes or with the last two options, really, really awkward and out of place).  an example that i will give is that i don’t buy blazers, oxford shirts, etc. ever (except for one interview outfit) because they look HORRID on me.  but most people can work the oxford/blazer look and look amazing.  similarly, i can’t pull off the leather jacket/cool sexy look ’cause i just look stupid.  it’s taken some honest, self-evaluation to arrive here but now i know even when things of those type are on sale, i’m not tempted.

so far we have “defining one’s style”…now we need to consider color palette.  i wear a lot of grey shades as well as purple/navy shades (no bright blues for me), white/creams, and pops of reds/pinks.  even though these colors are not my favorite colors (except for grey, but that’s more of a lack of color), i know that i look best in these colors so i buy my clothes in these colors.  i don’t own any green because i look awful in green, even though i actually really like green…my bathroom and kitchen would totally channel fresh green tones!  i also try not to wear too much black because i tend to look bony and anorexic in black, even though i know that black is a holy grail color for most.  figure out which colors you always get complimented on when you’re sporting it and that should say something.  i know a lot of fashion experts say stay with neutral colors in your wardrobe (black, grey, camel, navy, white, etc.) for ease of wear but i think that it tends to be boring and drab.  if you look good in a certain color, buy different items in different shades of that color so they would automatically look good when worn together.

trendy colors i sometimes buy but at h&m and sometimes zara only because it’s cheap and it won’t wear well for very long.  as for color pairings, i strongly agree with what aspairandaspare has said about 3 colors per outfit (*SUCH* great advice!).

b) clothing purge!

pretty self-explanatory for this sub-heading.  when you have a free few hours, buddy up (or if you prefer to do this alone, it’s cool too) and try on allllllll your clothes.  be honest.  anything that doesn’t fit anymore [too small, too big], not the right color on you, not fixable by hemming/alterations, or just doesn’t make you look awesome NEEDS TO GO.  ever seen “what not to wear?”  your ill-fitting, unbecoming (on you) clothes *need* to be thrown out/donated/gifted to a friend.  we’re gonna do this clinton and stacy style!  also make sure your bras and underwear fit you properly and don’t make you lumpy because if they do, no amount of beautiful clothing will save you.  after all this, put/hang/fold all the clothing that you will be keeping in your closet again.

SOOOOOO…what happened with my closet?

yay!  all my clothes fit into these two pictures

IMG_0637 yay! all my clothes fit into these two pictures

my summer basics are now whittled down to:

  • darkwash jeans (in skinny and bootcut)
  • fitted scoopneck tees (black, peach-ish pink, and grey)
  • loose scoopneck tees in multiple styles (mostly in white, and some in peach/pink and purple)
  • cotton tanks in white, oatmeal, black, pink
  • printed silk skorts in navy with white polka dots and pink floral print on black (actually looks like a skirt but are really shorts)
  • white and ombre dolman sleeve short sleeve shirts
  • mesh slightly oversized knit pieces in oatmeal and black to go with the corresponding tanks
  • shorts in white, pink with small purple flowers, vibrant chambray blue, dark grey, and jean
  • tank dress (white and black)
  • grey maxi dress kind of like this with the draping but mine is racerback and has more coverage in the front
  • many different dresses in white, chambray, various purple tones, peach-ish nude, cream,  orange-red, and navy in various materials and prints (cotton, silk, eyelet, lace, viscose, with crochet detailing, etc.)
  • light merino wool v-neck cardigans in grey, red, and white
  • navy cotton cardigan

in part 3, i’ll let you know where i shop/which brands i look for.  hopefully this gives you a sense of my style and the process i go through to revamp/reevaluate my wardrobe.  until tomorrow for part 2~

sexy (but comfy) summer sandals

it’s definitely summer weather here in cali!  while it looks like boston weather is still struggling to get there, i’ve already received a request from w. w. to look for her new summer sandals.  she, however, has a few special caveats; the sandals must be (1) heeled (she wants to look tall[er]), (2) must not cause her pain under the walking/biking needs of boston (understandable, if you had to walk/bike everywhere like in boston, you too would fear “high maintenance” shoes), and (3) not get caught/make her fall flat on her face on the dreaded COBBLESTONE.  see the (unfortunately) blurry picture from the movie “the wedding planner” in which jennifer lopez’s character lives out every girl’s stiletto heel-in-hole/grating/cobblestone nightmare:
the wedding planner heel scene
i personally always look for shoes with (2) and (3) in mind because foot pain and falling down both make me grumpy.  i rarely wear heeled shoes because i am tall enough (5′ 8″) to get away with non-heeled shoes and i’ve been genetically blessed with long gams (hah, finding skirts/dresses long enough to be decent is often an issue though, can’t win them all).  cole haan has been an all-time fav of mine because they make sturdy, cute shoes often with nike air in them.  they are a bit on the expensive side and i always wait until they go on sale, usually at the end of the season (nordstrom, macy’s, cole haan store) before i buy them.  as for my friend w. w., she is in luck because cole haan shoes happen to be on sale right now!

for an everyday shoe option, these gold cole haan “amari OT” wedge pumps are cute and functional.  there is just enough toe cleavage room to show off newly polished toes and they’re fitted enough to not come off when biking or walking around.  at $100 they are a bit more expensive than normal sandals but for the comfort i think they are well worth it.  on piperlime, i’ve found a marc by marc jacobs option at $170 which is a very steep price for shoes but boy are they are cuuuuuute.  these taupe faux leather heels from aerosoles are really cute too AND are on sale for $50.  another option at $70 comes from aldo and is called marcelline. i personally really like the stacked wooden wedge heel detail and the colors on “bone” and additionally, these look like they would stay on pretty well.  i haven’t tried them on in person though so i’m not quite sure about the comfort level…hmmm.

as for dressier options, once again i am going to start by suggesting one from cole haan…man, i just can’t help it!  the irving wedge with glorious NIKE AIR wheeeeeee, now on sale for $160, would look really cute with a summer dress.  i especially love the different color options with sandstone and the orange option being my two favorites.  i can already picture w. w. prancing around in a lovely white dress with the orange wedges or a stunning blue dress with the sandstone wedges!  as for a cheaper but still dressy option, a pair of aerosoles “bronze age” wedges sold on sale at $60 a pop on the aerosoles website would still be wonderful with that nice summer dress and comes in black, gold, or silver colors.  for someone looking for espadrilles, which would be nice for either a picnic or casual date (in boston common, wink wink w. w.), i would suggest jcrew’s maribeth espadrilles which come in navy, flax, and neon persimmon.  they are now $96 with the 25% off online code and would be even less if you can get them somehow in stores with your 15% off student discount.

obviously there are many, many options i have yet to go through and suggest.  hopefully these options here will provide my girl w. w. enough “motivation” to go out and find her favorite pair!