Sales Rack Chic

Despite my love of cashmere, gold jewelery* and fine leather goods, I am most definitely someone who appreciates a good deal. Which is fortunate for me, because while my tastes may be A-list, my budget most definitely is not. Which leads me to one of my favorite things in shopping: the sales rack.

The sales rack is the perfect place to find classics, those staple pieces that transcend time, for a fraction of the full price. A pair of dark wash skinny jeans that fit great are timeless, it doesn’t matter what season they are. The same holds true with a classic black tee. I purchase at least one a year. My eyes may be drawn to the new season’s collection, but my wallet leads me to the rack. I usually have in mind what I’m looking to purchase; this season, it’s been silk shirts, blouses and new jeans.

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The key with sales rack chic is to go in with an idea of what you’re looking for, otherwise you can go overboard with purchases you rarely wear. For me, silk shirts are investments pieces, able to be worn in any number of ways, from work, to dates, to parties. I’ve owned mine for a couple of weeks, and already worn it to work and a networking event.

The moral of this story? Don’t discount the sales rack!

*I recently discovered that I have a silver sensitivity, so I can only wear gold. Problematic for my budget and anyone who may want to give me jewelery.

New (School) Year, New Shoes

When I’m not your caped fashion crusader, I work at a Boston-area university. I mark my calendar by when the students arrive on campus. I get swept up in the excitement of a new year, new projects, and new wardrobe. These days, I don’t overhaul my wardrobe at the start of each and every season, but I add a few pieces when I can.

This year, my shoes were in desperate need of replacement. My combatlite boots, which saw me through two years and two countries, were peeling. My trusty Keds split at the seams. My two pairs of go-to shoes found themselves ready to be consigned to yard work and gardening at my parents’ house.

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Keds, Originals Champions – Black

Like every good fashionista-on-a-budget, I approached my shoe purchase with an eye to save money. There were three pairs of shoes I wanted to replace this year: the afore mentioned Keds and combats, and a pair of elegant heeled ankle boots. My original plan was to replace the ankle boots and Keds, but after thinking about it, I realized that I wear my combat boots all the time and they ought to be replaced. Next, I set myself a budget of $300, total. I lucked out on the new Keds, finding them on sale and having a coupon, scoring the adorable black Champions for $26.

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The Frye Company, Veronica Combat – Dark Brown

With $274 left, I determined that spending more on a high quality pair of boots would be the best way to go. I could have easily replaced all three pairs of shoes for under my budget, but as a young professional who is conscious about over-consumption, I opted for the one pair of boots. I scoured the internet for weeks, thinking of brands and ultimately settling on Frye. I wanted a pair of shoes that would last and could be easily repaired if need be. Frye’s timeless, utilitarian style meant that I would wear these boots for years to come, and never have to worry about them going out of style. After trying on a few pairs, I bought the dark brown Veronica Combat, an elegant-feminine-tough shoe for $263. They feel like heaven on my feet, and I can’t wait to break them in. They are versatile, going with jeans, trousers, skirts and dresses, in a deep, rich brown supple leather. They even smelled like new shoes, with an intoxicating leather smell.

Shoes are the finishing touch to any outfit. For me, it’s the shoes on my feet that dictate my look, which ranges from effeminate androgyny to a modern Jackie O. to Audrey Hepburn meets the Clash. With a simple choice of shoes, my favorite green skater dress goes from dinner party elegant with heels, to danceable/cute with Keds, and no-nonsense badassery with combat boots.

Featured items:

Keds Originals Champions – Black

The Frye Company – Veronica Combat – Dark Brown

A return to the clothes rack

When I first started She Dresses last year, I made the dangerous decision to start it about two months before starting a new job. Managing a new job, new apartments and my burgeoning interests in illustration and comics meant that the blog got set aside.

Today, though, things changed. I decided that now’s as good a time as ever to start up She Dresses again. The mission remains the same, to write about fashion, fit, trends, etc. as I see them. To be a haven to ask questions and get answers.

I’m going to add a weekly “Today I Wore” feature, where I post an illustration of the outfits I wore the previous week. Where applicable, I’ll include links to purchase the clothing/accessories online. And, of course, expect lots of pretty clothing and accessories.

The She Dresses Guide to Your Perfect Suit: Part One

Gray Suit by Robert Sheie

Gray Suit by Robert Sheie

So. It’s time to buy your first suit. This is a big, potentially scary move. Suits, well, they represent business. They’re the sort of thing you wear on interviews, and perhaps never again. Maybe you wear them all the time. Regardless, all people entering the professional white collar world should own a suit.

I find my suit to be my most versatile purchase. I’ve worn it several different ways for job interviews, work days at my casually-dressed internship, and for events with foreign dignitaries. Changing how I wear it (and what I wear it with) alters the sorts of events my suit is appropriate for.

As I’ve got a lot to say on the topic of suits, here’s part one of the series!

Pay attention to the material and where you buy your suit from

Wool makes a good suit. It lies well, and is relatively easy to care for.

My suit is made of merino wool. It’s light in weight but warm, and can be mixed with materials of varying weight. I can wear it with a silk top just as easily as an oxford shirt or a thicker wool sweater. If you hang it up after each wear, it doesn’t wrinkle.

A wool suit, if properly fitted (more on that later), will lie well and compliment your body. It typically isn’t clingy (make sure your suit is lined).

As great as H&M is for fast fashion, this is generally not the place to buy a business suit/blazer. Often the material is a cotton or jersey, or the cut is more of a tuxedo (or both). These are great for clubbing or for casual days if you’re like me and love a good blazer. But this doesn’t work for an interview suit/potential job attire. It comes across as cheap. Jersey blazers can be appropriate for once you have the job, as they are comfortable! They are like wearing classy sweat shirts. But make sure that they fit in your employer’s dress code (either expressly stated or implied).

I recommend shopping for suit separates, especially if you have a difficult to fit body. I find that department store suits, while nice (brands like Calvin Klein and Tahari offer classic, yet fashion forward looks), just don’t fit.

I have had very good luck with suit shopping at Banana Republic. Not only can you buy suit separates, but they offer the same material across their regular and petite departments, so if you really have to mix and match, you can. Their suits are reasonably priced when mixed with sales (and if you buy at outlets, even better). They are still expensive, but when taking good care of the suit, you will have it for a long, long while.

It’s never a good idea to buy black pieces from different stores, as there are different grades of black. It doesn’t match, and your professional look will be undermined by a black jacket that is not the same as the black trousers or skirt. If you do want to mix and match, make sure that they are in a similar colour family and of a similar weight/material. I prefer a matching suit that I can pop with colour and pattern.

It’s about bras!

Want your clothes to fit better? Want to feel more confident, like you can tackle the world?

It’s easy. Wear lingerie that fits.

I know. Bra shopping can be draining, frustrating, even demoralizing. But there’s no accessory that can bring out your confidence like well fitting undergarments. Your bras and panties don’t need to match, just fit well!

Here are three golden rules for finding comfortable bras:

1. Get measured.

I spent years under the assumption that I wore a completely different size and moaned about how I could NEVER find bras that fit. The reason? I had never been measured, and as a result wore bras that were two cup sizes too small.

Many stores offer complimentary measuring, though you may have to make an appointment. It’s suggested that you get measured every six months, as your body shape changes.

2. Find a style that fits.

After I was measured, the first thing I did was find a style that fits. I went for a lightly padded bra to add some shape but not much extra boob area.

Every make and model is different, so when you find a style that works for you, buy a couple of them and make note of the model number.

Key to finding a bra that fits right is also finding a store that carries the styles you wear best. As pretty as they are, Victoria’s Secret bras don’t fit me due to all of the padding and they way that they’re shaped. When living in Scotland, I found that Marks & Spencer’s bras fit perfectly, but trips to Scotland just so I can buy lingerie is out of the question. Fortunately, Calvin Klein bras fit rather well, and I can get them at TJ Maxx.

It’s also good to have bras in several colours. Black and nude are standards in my wardrobe, as they go under everything.

3. Throw out bras that are old!

Nothing ruins the look of an outfit like an old, wrinkly bra. I don’t care if it’s your favourite bra, that you have lots of great memories while wearing it, etc. If it puckers, wrinkles, or is otherwise misshapen, it’s got to go.

There’s some golden number for how long you should have bras, but I’m not sure what it is. I go by ‘if it looks old, if it doesn’t fit anymore, chuck it.’

Floral Lingerie set, made by Novita Estiti (verypurpleperson)

Floral Lingerie set, made by Novita Estiti (verypurpleperson)

A fashion blogger’s origin story

One afternoon in May, I was shopping with a friend of mine. As she hit the dressing room, I stood outside, ready to give her my opinion on colour, fit, etc.

I didn’t expect to be advising a girl on how to buy a blazer that fits, or giving her father suggestions of where she should shop for quality, internship appropriate workwear. I realised a resource that compiled suggestions of fit, material, and transitioning into the workplace (along with cultivating one’s personal style) would be a great asset.

So, I created this blog. To be your guide through the wilds of fashion and style. To help you figure out what the hell Merino wool is. Fit for trousers, shoes that every woman should own, ideas to add some pop to your wardrobe.

As Coco Chanel said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”