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Fashion blogging success comes from you wanting what I've got. That sweater, those booties, that weekend staycation at a hotel. The more I offer, the newer the selections, the more you want it, and therefore, the more money I make. But to constantly offer things that are new, I lose my sense of style. Anyone would. Go up to the five most stylish women in any room and ask them how long they've had the things they are wearing. I'm guessing one item will be their newest acquisition, and one will be one of their oldest. A new dress with a pair of boots that have many years of wear, at least one of those wears owns an amazing story.
Jumpsuit is over a year ago from Kohl's, originally seen in this post. I wore it again to a blogger event, you can see it in this Instagram post. I also wore it this past October to a charity gala. It shows the versatility and power of a very simple, classically designed piece that transforms with the use of accessories.
If I constantly get new, I either go into debt or I sacrifice my personal style. This past year I took this as a style challenge. I examined my analytics and my closet and saw some brands that consistently performed well in conversion (read more about that in this post) and also I enjoyed wearing. I reached out to these brands for free merchandise of my choosing, then I styled it in as Allie of a manner I could as a sort of personal style challenge. I loved when you would comment that my styling of a brand made you change your mind about them, it felt great, it pushed my sartorial boundaries.
These velvet pumps were a gift from White House Black Market that were also worn in this outfit post and the night I wore a black Le Smoking to an evening with friends. I got these shoe clips to attach to these and other shoes in my closet to update the look. Shoe clips never go out of style, take up little space, and you can often find them on Amazon for less than $20.
I speak so much about having a curated closet, a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that works as hard as you do… yet I don't have that kind of wardrobe. Well, not completely. There’re two wardrobes in my closet. One side is brand new stuff, stuff still in stock at online stores, stuff that just got unpacked from partners, steamed and ready to wear. These pieces I look at in my closet to get inspiration on how to style them with my existing wardrobe and my aesthetic. Some never get worn because while I had grand ideas when I saw it on the website or Instagram, once actually in my closet it wasn't a good fit. I wear them, share them, and then I have to decide whether to keep them or let them go. Because some of them just have to go. The bigger your closet, the grander it may look on Pinterest but the less style and more frustration you have when dressing every day.
The other side of my closet is the items that made the cut. And with regular additions to the closet, cuts also happen on this side to keep it a reasonable size. Okay, do I really need three black midi dresses? That one has a great hemline but it digs in the upper arms. Bye-bye. Some of these pieces are one season old, and some are older than my daughter. Some were passed down, and many of them own an amazing story.
I have a large wardrobe of belts because they are so transformative, and you can often find some amazing ones at low prices or on clearance. Go through my archives and you'll see quite a mix of belts; some of my belts originally belonged to my mom and are decades old yet still stylish. This belt is also from White House Black Market; it's velvet with elastic and snaps in back and a rhinestone buckle to match the shoe clips. It's thin and dressy and is the type of thing that can be added to so many different dresses, jumpsuits, or even over a cardigan to add femininity and a dressy element. The elastic makes it comfortable even after a fabulous dinner.
I will be 44 this month, and your girl Allie has no time for items in her closet that frustrate, disappoint, demean, or deride. I know my life, what kind of things I need and the potential things I could need in the future. And I know what I like.
I like jumpsuits. I know wah wah how do you go to the bathroom? Well I take my Zipper Genie with me and I get it done half naked, shoving as much fabric as possible in my fist so nothing drags on the ground. And I do it so often, I find it far easier and quicker than other things I have dealt with in my style past such as bodysuits, rigid button-fly jeans, and Spanx. Because we all know we can't pee through that opening without ending up wearing some of it. But I like jumpsuits, they make me feel sexy and confident and strong and current without being too try hard. I like that a jumpsuit can be worn all four seasons with just a change of accessories. Oh, I also like that you can sometimes find a $30 jumpsuit that looks like a million bucks.
I like overalls. I feel artsy and boho with a touch of the wild girl I was in my early 20s when I wore them last. I like them classic and slouchy but a bit crisp, or I like them tailored and cuffed short. I like them with ribbed tank tops and cashmere turtlenecks. I thought I'd like them with Breton tees, but I feel too juvenile. I've done it, and I likely will do it again but the combination needs to be juuuust right to not look like Fisher Price or Chucky.
I like striped shirts. They’re a way to be comfortable while looking polished. Not sure what to wear with that cardigan, that blazer, those chino shorts, that floral skirt, those green pants? Try a striped knit top, I bet it’s just what you needed to complete the look. Striped shirts make pattern mixing easy, they look expensive even if they came off the clearance rack, they add interest without making any strong statements, they don’t go out of style and work with anything from a rocker aesthetic to the most preppy of closets.
I like pantsuits. I like them with legs that taper to my ankle bone, have pockets, a jacket that has one button so it gives me an hourglass shape. I feel strong and fierce in them, they're sexy and successful and eternally chic. They can be demure with a silk blouse or sexy with just a bra. I love a pantsuit with a clutch purse, and a purse that owns an amazing story or is ready to earn one.
I love off the shoulder sweaters. No, not the one with the wide cuff and not the one with the straps over the shoulder so you can wear a traditional bra. No, I want a devil-may-care one shoulder exposed in cashmere, in a soft sweatshirt material, in a heavyweight jersey. I feel sexy, feminine, bold, in my element. And I wear this bra, which gives me a good six comfortable hours of support and shape.
I like slouchy drapey silk button-down shirts but have yet to find The One. If they drape nicely at the bust the sleeves are a mile long and the shoulders are at my biceps. I like them tucked into things – ankle pants, slim high-waist jeans, silk pajama pants, wide-leg drapey trousers that evoke Katharine Hepburn.
I like a classic shirtdress that nips in at the waist and has a full skirt that hits just below the knees. The sleeves are cuffed, or there aren't sleeves. No chest pockets, but definitely skirt pockets.
I also love maxi dresses, especially in fabulous prints, fabrics, and colors. I would be happy as a clam with a closet full of Pucci-printed silk wrap maxi dresses with a variety of sleeves, a full skirt, and of course, pockets.
I'm drawn to sequins, but I only wear them once. However, a Le Smoking or a silk dress with a skirt that loves a dance floor will reside in my closet as long as it fits. I'm always on the hunt for the perfect black leather Moto jacket and the perfect vintage Levi's denim jacket that fits my bust, my arms, and my shoulders.
Sometimes I feel completely at home in a blazer and jeans; other times that sounds like the most uncomfortable and awkward thing to wear. Sometimes I like to pretend I am a classic prep, regularly I like to pretend I am in a rock & roll band.
I like slim heels and an almond toe. I used to prefer silver to gold but now I like and wear both. I like lush lashes, a thin line of black-brown liquid liner, and a matte warm red lip. I like bangs, sometimes they like me and sometimes they don't. I like the way a molded cup bra makes my bust look in clothes. My jewelry of choice is a statement earring and I wear Ray-Ban's 62mm aviator.
These earrings were maybe $25 from Cristabelle; I have many pieces of jewelry from this brand and find them a great price and great quality. I even added these earrings to my dressy capsule wardrobe. The bracelet is from Banana Republic and is a few years old. Banana Republic is a great place to stalk for jewelry; the quality is good, it's often unique and fun, and the quality is excellent. I like collecting silver and rhinestone jewelry, they easily mix and match and add sparkle to simple looks. If you're needing to get dressed in a jiffy, a simple black dress has instant drama with a rhinestone bracelet and earrings.
Sparkly Costume Jewelry From Brands I Own:
It's a new year, and I am going to wear what I like. I am going to be better about walking the talk. And maybe you won’t be able to buy my outfit from head to toe, but this will be my new challenge – offering items that I think provide a similar effect. No, not the look for less or any old whatever in the same color, but pieces that accomplish similar and explaining why. Sure, I’ll still have new because who doesn’t love to update their wardrobe and have fun with fashion? And one of the best things about blogging is introducing you to new brands and collections. But my outfit posts will go beyond shopping the look to explaining the why behind it. And I look forward to hearing what you think.
The bag is from Loeffler Randall. I did a campaign with eBay a couple years ago and with it came a gift card. I had some left over after buying what was needed for the campaign and looked at dressy clutches. I loved that this one was not silver, not gold, not sequined, just shimmery and pretty and seasonless. I've loaned it out more than I've used it myself because it's that perfect size and amount of sparkle for so many dressy occasions (and because mi armario es su armario if we're friends IRL).
I would love to see more of styling your old pieces in current ways! I have enough stuff but sometimes I lose track of *how* to wear my items and look current, or at least not noticeably dated. (ie, I had no idea that it was out of date to wear layered tops with the bottom layer pulled down over your pants, apparently you’re supposed to tuck everything in now including sweaters!)
I am SO looking forward to reading your blog this year! So much blogging has become links links links, and while I get the economics of it, one of the things I’m looking for in fashion blogging/ influencers is people who can point me toward quality and durability. So I love to hear how people’s purchases have held up over the years, what works and what doesn’t. Thanks as always for your hard work and thoughtfulness 🙂
Alie – I LOVE the WHY!!!! That’s why I read fashion bloggers. I learn so much. Things I couldn’t learn just looking at a pretty picture in a catalog. Love your blog either way, but looking forward to learning more in 2019!
I look forward to this new angle because what I most love is you breaking down what you are wanting from a piece and how one meets that, or doesn’t–sometimes what doesn’t work for you is exactly what I would need!
I remember that post/ jumpsuit! That was my inspiration for buying the J.Crew poplin wrap jumpsuit which I loved so much I own it in two colors! So, yes for showing an outfit and the whys and why nots.
Thanks for all the fun fashion and thoughtful discourse. Looking forward to another year of wardrobe oxygen.
…. and THIS is why I read your site. Thank you!!
I always appreciate that you are a writer who is a blogger and not just a shopper who is a blogger! You always have interesting and purposeful content in addition to links and sponsored posts. I even appreciate your sponsored posts and links because of the informative way you present the clothing. Some “shopping blogs” became so formulaic that I eventually lose interest and only do a cursory scan. I really like reading about the business of blogging as well. I look forward to stopping by the blog and actaually READING!
L H Carter says
In that jumpsuit you look like you could be a diamond thief or sports car rep or super secret spy slinking around Monte Carlo leaving exhausted, drooling billionaires in a heap behind you. Wowie-zowie! Your 2019 edition of WO is off to an excellent start. I have full confidence in your creative ability and writing talent.
I’m looking forward to hearing the whys! I find it so interesting to understand the reasoning behind things.
Yes to all of this!!! I am really looking forward to hearing more about the why and the style of the pieces and how they come together to make the outfit. I never feel the need to buy what a blogger is wearing and I hate it when they wear one brand head to toe. I’m looking for style inspiration and how to remix my closet in ways I did not think of. I like hearing about why you thought something would work but then ultimately realized it didn’t or why things did not make the cut. I’m looking for honest and real — if you don’t wear the outfit in real life why not and why did you show it to me? I’m not looking for a shopping guide. I may be in the minority here but I would pay for high quality, non-shill content much like I sponsor podcasts.
LC Bat says
I think that it’s excellent that you’re taking that curation more into your hands, and all the more so that you’re up for being so honest about it. Good reminder that even the role models out here don’t have it all figured out a hundred percent of the time.
I could not agree more, if you only wear new things you can lose your essence and personal style just to make room for the new….
Also you look magnificent in this jumpsuit.
Thanks for an honest and informative post. Definitely inspires me to shop my closet and take a more critical approach to buying new pieces rather than restyling my current ones. Also enjoyed reading about your unique likes/dislikes (lol, the eternal jumpsuit/bathroom conundrum!).
I have suddenly become obsessed with finding some nice but not super expensive button down shirts…I love the JCrew plaid ones but their size 16 gaps on me in bust area …plus for some reason they are really short…I am 5’6 and don’t want a tunic length (looking at you Foxcroft from Nordstroms as well as the Chico ones, both look so matronly) but would like the shirttails to show under a blazer. Any recommendations? I need either an XL or XLL depending on the fit/cut. Thanks in advance for any recommendations.
Alison Gary says
Whew, that’s a tall order because so many are cut so straight! Not all Chico’s and Foxcroft are tunics, I have a linen shirt from Chico’s that is perfection and some old Foxcroft ones (they have a website with more selection than is what on Nordstrom). I’ve also had hit and miss luck with Lands’ End; have a button-front shirt from there that fits like a dream. I do know there’s brands like Campbell & Kate that makes custom shirts for women to fit their bust but may be out your pricerange: http://campbellandkate.com the quality is excellent and the woman behind the brand is awesome!
Suzanne Cross says
I’m currently traveling overseas and have had the good fortune to have some clothes tailor made at prices that would not be possible in the US. It’s made me realize that, I’m fact, I will splurge on a few items a year when I find a reasonable tailor in the US to either make blouses that button without gaping and skirts that close the gap at the waist but fit my hips OR modify those that can be modified. The look of tailored clothes just doesn’t compare!
How about Lands’ End?
Great piece Ali. If it weren’t your job to constantly monitor new styles and trends, I wonder how often you’d actually be shopping. You’d likely have most of your closet be the tried and true pieces and only a few pieces to experiment with. You’d probably only select a few items each season (and some seasons nothing!) to add to your wardrobe. In other words, my wardrobe goals.
I’m still working on replacing the “not so great but okay” items. I’ve long been on the hunt for a white or cream fisherman’s knit sweater as my current one is due for replacement. I’ve pulled the trigger several times but wound up shipping them back because the fit wasn’t right or it was too long or contained wool and I itched like crazy. I’ll keep looking …
Alison Gary says
Have you tried the Lands’ End Drifter? I also have a similar one from LL Bean but it doesn’t seem like they have it this year.
One of the sweaters I bought (and shipped back) was a Lands end sweater. That one had enough wool to make me itch like crazy. But I am pondering the combed cotton cable sweater right now … Thanks for the suggestion.
I love wool sweaters even 100% wool. But some of them do make me itch. So I wear a light weight, slim fitting cotton or silk tee under the sweater. i wear my pullover sweaters relaxed but not baggy. The tees don’t show at all under the sweaters and no itch.
is it bad I love cardigans and simple sweaters. I work in a maintenance shop as their coordinator. My clothes have to be able to handle the washing machine. I have learned that piece of funky jewelry or fun top under my cardigan makes it or breaks my day. I have clothes for going out but my capsule is basic and simple. I wonder if I’m in a rut.
Alison Gary says
Sounds as though you’ve found the perfect style uniform for your job. It’s only a rut if it feels like one to you. Otherwise it’s a capsule as you describe it, and it makes every day far easier!
Alison, you are correct. It is a capsule as you describe it. I do try to make sure I have more than jeans in the closet to wear with the sweaters, tops and cardigans. that way I keep myself from being bored with it.
Love everything about this. Can’t wait to read along with you.
Alison Gary says
Yes! I agree with everything in this post. Your outfit posts inspire me to “shop my closet”. It hit me today reading this that I can try to recreate the jumpsuit look with my black separates and a wide belt… love your jumpsuits but I have a long torso so the fit is tricky.
Alison Gary says
Jumpsuits are tough in that regard, I know even though I’m short waisted I need to buy regular not petite jumpsuits. Glad I could inspire!!
Jaymie Ashcraft says
I have pieces in my closet since before I had my oldest and he will be 17 in 2 months!
Alison Gary says