Pearls Gone Wild – WSJ.com

Some non-traditional ways to wear pearls:

Pearls Gone Wild – WSJ.com.

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Fall Romance

Fall Romance

My wish list for fall

Since this isn’t my first pregnancy, I already have a very basic but complete maternity wardrobe: dark jeans, black slacks, a few tops, a camel cardigan,  a black sleeveless dress and a burgundy wrap dress. To supplement what I have, I plan to add: a tank, t-shirt and leggings in black– for layering; a couple more maternity tops in rich fall colors; and some maternity workout pants. I’m intentionally keeping my spending on maternity clothing to a minimum, and instead putting more of my wardrobe dollars toward statement pieces that I can continue to wear post-pregnancy. Here’s what’s caught my eye this season:

1. A cape I couldn’t be happier that these are all the rage now. A cape suits my old-fashioned style, and, just as importantly, it will drape over my pregnant belly.

2. Long, open-front cardigan Earlier this year, I bought a lightweight, ruffled gray cardigan. It was an impulse purchase, and not of very high quality, but it made me feel graceful and I could throw it on over anything. Now that it’s been demoted to nightgown cover-up, I need a replacement for the fall.

3. Everyday earrings I’m looking for a pair that sparkles, but more interesting than your standard diamond studs. And not too big– subtle is more my style.

4. Tall boots in black Since I’m limiting my clothing expenses this season, I can spend a couple of hundred on these with an easy conscience. I’m getting them in black because they will go with my favorite black maternity dress.

5. A dash of leopard print As much as I’d love a soft silk blouse in leopard, I’m not likely to find one in the maternity section. I’ll look for a scarf or a headband instead. This scarf from Banana Republic would would really jazz up my camel cardigan and black slacks.

6. A touch of lace I love lace in all its forms, and I’d wear this cardigan over my black maternity dress for the holidays.

7. Statement pearls  I already have a lovely double-strand pearl necklace in classic white; however, I don’t have many occasions to wear it. I’m leaning toward something chunky, maybe in an unusual color. This less-formal take on pearls has been popular for a few seasons, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

8. Ladylike black pumps It’s inexcusable that my wardrobe still lacks a quality pair of black pumps. While my first instinct was to go as plain as possible, instead I decided to look for a pair with just a bit of special detailing. Sadly, the pair shown here is from last fall, and was sold out in my size

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My summer essentials

My summer essentials

Dorothy Perkins maxi dress
15 - dorothyperkins.com

Old Navy v neck cardigan
$27 - oldnavy.gap.com

Old navy maternity
$25 - oldnavy.gap.com

Tote handbag
$138 - canvas.landsend.com

Straw Studios clutch handbag
$38 - endless.com

Old Navy tying scarve
$11 - oldnavy.gap.com

Straw hat
15 - mylabel.co.uk
Fashion-wise, I had an unintentionally inexpensive summer. I started with a navy knit dress that I bought a couple of years ago. It’s from Lands’ End and still going strong– I love their quality! While vacationing with my family, I added another knit dress in an ikat pattern, and a black swimsuit (not shown.) I wore these dresses several times each week, and wish I had picked up some more early in the season. Next year. . .
I found a cotton teal cardigan at the Goodwill Outlet for less than a dollar. I was planning to save it for the fall, but we had an unusually cool summer here in the Pacific Northwest, and I started using it right away. Luckily it coordinated beautifully with both dresses.
Finishing touches One item I used daily was a canvas tote that was only about $10 at a thrift store. I wish I had invested in better quality, however, as it will not make it through another summer. I bought a dressier straw clutch trimmed with a big black bow, two sun hats, and a gauzy pink floral scarf. I bought a red bandana to wear as a headband for the Fourth of July. Actually, I cut it in half diagonally so my daughter could have a headband, too, so the actual cost is half of what’s shown! I made do with my sandals from previous summers, but I wish I had added a couple more fun pairs– since I ended up spending just under $120, there was certainly room in the budget.
Here are the numbers:
Casual Misc.
floral knit dress 18 2 sun hats $15.00
teal cardigan 0.99 canvas tote 9.99
swim suit 32 bandana 2.5
straw clutch 29.71
pink print scarf 10
totals 50.99 $67.20
(Jul, Aug)
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Strategic Shopping: Maternity Edition

I’m expecting a baby in January, so it’s time to pull out the maternity clothes I packed away last fall. Since I began this journey a year ago, I have a much clearer sense of my personal style, and I’m excited to look at my maternity clothes with fresh eyes.

Even though my wardrobe needs have changed, my shopping strategy hasn’t changed much from when I was in weight-loss mode. After I discard anything that’s in bad condition, no longer works for my lifestyle, or just doesn’t feel like “me” anymore, I’ll see what I have to work with, and draft my shopping list from there. This time I’m going to shop with the next six months in mind– that will encompass the last two trimesters as well as the postpartum period. Here is my shopping strategy in a nutshell:

1) Identify the season or seasons I’ll need clothes for. Easy. Just fall and winter. There, I just saved some money– no need to shell out for warm-weather maternity clothes!

2) I will put most of my dollars toward things I can continue to wear after the pregnancy, like shoes and accessories. This last year has really opened my eyes to how a different shoe can change an outfit.  It also means I will look for ways to use non-maternity items whenever possible. I’ve had good luck wearing regular cardigans (unbuttoned, of course) during other pregnancies. Something else I want to try this time around is wearing regular tops under a dress or jumper– no one will see that they’re riding up over my belly! I have a sleeveless black maternity dress that would be perfect to use this way, as the neckline has always been too low for me.

3) I will continue working with the capsule wardrobe concept, using a limited color palette, and coordinating new purchases to what I already have.

Finally:

4) I’ll use hand-me-down and thrifted items selectively. In the past, I accepted pretty much anything that came my way– I didn’t want to spend a dime on what was essentially a temporary wardrobe need. I’m MUCH pickier about what I’ll be seen in now. I’m not going to sacrifice style just because something is cheap or free. Now, this advice isn’t universal– someone who is a dedicated thrifter might be able to build a maternity wardrobe exclusively from secondhand finds. Since I’m short and wide– and short on time– I struggle to find clothes that don’t make me feel dumpy even at full price. If I do stumble upon something I love in a thrift store, or if something comes to me via the great, informal mom network, I will see it as a bonus, not as the backbone of my wardrobe.

Believe it or not, I’ve always enjoyed wearing maternity clothes. I feel soft and feminine when I’m pregnant, and my biggest fitting challenge (my belly) is eclipsed by that glorious bump.  But this time around I also relish the creative challenge of dressing to express my personal style even during pregnancy. Bring it on!

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UPDATE: Winter, refreshed

I waited too long and many of the things on my list were sold out. Next fall, I’ll plan on buying these transitional items before I need them, when the stores are still fully stocked with cold-weather items.  On the bright side,  I was able to find some less expensive options than what I had originally picked out. That silver scarf– from a church rummage sale– really was only 50 cents! Here’s what I ended up with:

Casual Daytime Dressy Accessories
black skechers 34.99 gray wool blazer 52.78 sequin coin purse 7.00
ivory cords 9.99 white ruffle blouse 47.70 lace evening bag 4.99
black twill jacket free striped silver scarf 0.50
metallic clutch 4.99
gray booties 39.99
tights 8.50
2 headbands 6.97
black leather clutch 44.24
totals 44.98 100.48 117.18

Photos coming soon!

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Winter, refreshed

No need to replace my whole wardrobe this winter– my fall clothes will see me through the rest of the cold season. However, I am looking for a few things in shades of taupe, ivory, and gray. Since they are lighter versions of the neutrals that are already in my wardrobe (black and brown) they will blend seamlessly with what I am currently wearing. However, unlike black and brown, they will inject some welcome lightness into my winter wardrobe, and will also provide a soft backdrop for the clear, bright colors I will be adding in the spring.

I start by adding two pieces that can go from casual to dressy:

1. an ivory turtleneck, in a silk blend for subtle sheen

2. a gray jacket

I add three pairs of casual pants, since my dark jeans are getting droopy:

3. taupe corduroy

4. ivory corduroy

5. gray denim

Finally, in these dark days of winter, I crave things that sparkle and shine (think of a snowdrift):

6. pewter flats

7. a sequin handbag

8. crystal and pearl earrings



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The Pocket Stylist

In early December, when I was ordering Christmas gifts for my family from amazon.com, I put something for myself into the shopping cart, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve read several books on developing personal style, and this book touches on the topic, but it also goes more into the nuts and bolts of how to dress well and look great no matter what your style. It’s The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look by Kendall Farr.

As I look ahead to my spring and summer wardrobe, I’m relying heavily on Chapter 2, What’s Right for your Body Type? in which the author describes six basic body types, A through F. I’m an E: a full-figured hourglass. (She does not use the term “hourglass,” that’s just the way most people think of it, with balanced shoulders and hips, and a defined waist.)

What distinguishes this book from others is that each body type (A through F) gets its own section in which the author describes exactly what cuts of clothing best flatter each shape, and even explains what fabrics are best for each cut, what construction details to look for, and what pieces to put together. For example, in the body type E section she recommends several different pants styles that work. Here is what she has to say about bootcut pants specifically for type E girls:

Bootcut: A full-cut leg; subtle widening at  hem offers flattering hip balance in fabrics that drape like the lightweight stretch wools, narrow wale corduroy; hemmed to wear with heels. (p. 52)

Or skirts:

Thin, stitch down pleats: In lightweight silks, cottons; knits worn at knee length with a top that hits from high hip or just below your bottom for a streamlined effect. (p. 55)

That is just from chapter 2! Other chapters cover how to shop like a stylist, the importance of tailoring (something most women neglect,) accessories, and undergarments. I cannot to justice to the wealth of information in this book, but I forsee many future posts in which I apply her advice to my evolving wardrobe


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