Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Summer Leftover - Layering for Early Fall

I had lined this post up months ago, pictures intact, but never completed it.  This lovely little spaghetti-strap jumper was a thrift store find a while back.  Perfectly translatable into fall with a pair of capris, a t-shirt underneath and a hoodie on top, it would work with any footwear, from Crocs to boots. 
It's funny, I found myself today reading back through old posts here from last winter and realizing, shocked, that I'd forgotten about many of the outfit combinations I had put together in those earlier photos, and was excited at the prospect of pulling all of those clothes out again for fall.  Having thought ahead of time when I purchased those items in sizes slightly larger than she really needed then, I am confident that they will still fit now, and that I will have an awful lot of fun in the creation of new looks this season.     

This little zipper detail is what really sold me on the dress.  Sweet!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What She Wore Yesterday

Another fabulous find from consignment at Little Lords and Ladies.  I used about $50 of my $80-something credit there (consigning is so much fun when you just get store credit to spend later!) and picked up a few things - a short-sleeved sweater (always a very practical item), a denim jacket (Hanna Andersson, $15.00), two pairs of thick, ribbed, sweater-leggings, a cute fleecy jumper and an Oilily dress for a friend's little girls, a ruffle-front long sleeved shirt (to be featured in a future post), and this beautiful and unique Du Pareil...Au Meme dress of exquisitely-lined, purple boiled wool with patchwork applique.  New, with tags, for $9.00.  Similar ones on their website now are going for @28 Euros, and I saw some on eBay for $50.00! 

With so much color, I knew it would be easy to find items to match with it.  I added a pair of pink striped leggings and a multi-color striped Hanna Andersson t-shirt I got at a consignment sale last year for $2.00, and put the most expensive items she owns on her feet - a prized pair of pink Doc Martens, a splurge we made last spring that we hope will fit at least to winter.

Below is the back of the dress.  As lovely as the front, and just as unusual.

The front.

Faux pocket, with a sweet button detail.

Pink DMs - our biggest splurge for Sammi's wardrobe to-date.

Detail, detail, detail!  Love the "buttons" on the front.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Help! Someone Gave This Dress/Sweater/Outfit to My Kid - Do I *Have* to Like It?

I remember, on one of my late-teen birthdays, a friend of the family, who obviously didn't know me at all, gave me a present.  And oh, what a present it was!  Picture this:  a sweater, backhoe goldenrod yellow with large black polkadots and leg-of-mutton sleeves.  I was gracious in my thanks for the clueless thoughtful gift, but I'm sure the look on my face had to have betrayed my true feelings.  I don't actually think I even ever tried it on, concerned about looking like a drunk bumblebee, and I honestly don't remember what ever happened to it.  While I suspect that there was absolutely no hope for that particular sweater, so many of those suspect, seemingly unwanted gifts can actually be re-purposed into something useful

Enter the magic of denim.  And boots.  :-)  At first glance, this dress reminded me so much of the sweater of my youth, but it was sent by someone very well-meaning.  Up to the challenge, I was determined to get wear out of it.  And never, in my wildest imagination, did I think I'd come to love it.  Which I did. 

Remember to think outside the box when it comes to gifts.  Your first impression doesn't have to be your last, and you can breathe new life into clothes with a little thought, creativity, and a good dig through drawers and closets for pieces to complement.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Most Fortuitous Find

I'm baaaaaaack...  I think now that the hazy, crazy joys of summer have subsided and the world again begins to look to the routine of the everyday, I can re-focus some of my energies on reviving this blog.  There was plenty I could have written about over the past few months, but I spent so little time on my computer at home, edited as few images as possible and relied on my new cell phone for the majority of my photos, that I just. didn't.

I'm sure I mentioned it before, but one of my absolute favorite jobs was the 3 years I spent as a Store Manager for Oilily.  Colorful, creative and fun, it introduced me to a side of myself that I hadn't known existed - one that I thoroughly enjoyed, one that fueled a new, inspired passion for the simple joys of childhood, expression of individuality, eye for quality, and a love of life in all its vibrant hues.

Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, I did not have a child at the time that I worked there.  While they did have beautifully-crafted women's clothes, the children's line was unparalleled in its attention to detail, its visible ability to draw people in, and its obvious function to let kids look like kids.  The color black was nowhere to be seen.  The clothing was as fascinating to look at from the outside as it was to turn inside out and inspect from the inside, its layers, seams and linings flawlessly-finished.  Everything told a story, taking you to a magical time and place where childhood reigns eternal.

And then there is the price tag. 

While you expect to pay for quality merchandise, I can safely say I would have been incapable of surviving there if I had a child, even with the generous employee discount.  I enjoyed each day of living vicariously through the wealthy patrons, dressing their children as if they were my own, and ensuring the smiles of happy customers as they departed, bags in hand.

That's why, on my last visit to the consignment shop where I take Sammi's old clothes and purchase "new" ones from the outgrown pieces of other children, I was entirely taken aback by the Oilily jumper that called to me, like a siren from the deep, from out of a rack of dresses. 

Taking a look at the price, I began to jump up and down with joy. 

$11.00.  In perfect condition.

Taking a look at the size, my heart sank.


A size 6.

Remembering that Oilily often runs big, and holding up the magical golden cloth, inspecting it with high hopes, I thought it was worth the chance I would take, and certainly worth the $11.00.  And I still had 7 days to return it if it didn't fit.

Miraculously, it did fit, and, while I know its days on my child's body are numbered, we'll get what we can out of it until that sad day when it's just too small.

The armholes fit just right without another sleeve in them, so I put a pink tank top underneath.  Once the weather gets colder, I may have to just have her wear it like this with a sweater or denim jacket over the top.

Believe it or not, most Oilily clothing is wash and wear.  Dry cleaning is discouraged, as the chemicals used can break down the cloth and cause wear and tear more quickly.  The items are designed to be worn well for dress or play, and then handed down over the years.  

Last year I found an amazing deal on Zulily for $5.00 tights from Jefferies Socks (available only in quantities of 3 of the same style/color through their website, but available individually through retailers such as Zappos or Zulily), with styles and colors so similar to Oilily's whimsical designs.  I snatched up a few pairs, but haven't had opportunity for Samantha to wear them yet.  When I held the dress up to the tights squirreled away in her drawer, I was excited to find that this pair of footless tights matched perfectly!  They're a little big (size 9-11), but hey, they're footless, right?!

I can safely speak from experience that you just never know what you might find if you look hard enough.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Lovin' and the Story of the Dress

So I creep out of semi-retirement here, kowtowing apologetically for my prolonged absence, to say something about the photo above (forgive the watermark from my other blog...had it already prepared). 

But let me make some excuses explain a little first...  Spring and Summer jumped up and bit me, HARD.  I blinked and the time passed.  I turned around, and another season had crept up behind me.  Being super lazy busy during all of my time away from work, being away nearly every weekend, coming home pretty much just to watch TV sleep, made it difficult to maintain two blogs, and even my other blog suffered from my temporary disappearance. 

I'm not saying I'm actually back with my weekly updates, but enjoy it while you've got it, okay?

Now, back to that photo...

One thing about consignment shops is that there's often a very tight window for making appointments to consign your old stuff.  Several months ago, I had made an appointment to bring Sammi's old Fall/Winter clothes to Little Lords and Ladies last Friday.  I had planned to go during my lunch break.  But a short time after setting the date, I discovered that there would be a long lunch meeting at work that day.  I found that there were no more dates to reschedule to, so I just left work early and headed over there with a large laundry basket full of items.  Among those items was a pair of GapKids leggings in the same print as the dress in the photo above.  They were pretty much my favorite pair to put Samantha in, and she'd been wearing them for the last 2 or 3 years, the waistband becoming smaller and smaller until they no longer fit.  I was really sad - they were beautiful and unique, and we always got compliments on them. 

After handing over my basket to the staff, I took a look around the store, scoring, amongst other things, a gorgeous orange velvet Oilily dress for $11.50 (which I will highlight in a future post, once it's cool enough for her to wear it), paid for with credit from my Spring/Summer items that had been sold over the past few months.  I then headed home, stopping at a local thrift store that I rarely get a chance to browse on my own.  I checked out the kid's clothes first, finding a couple of items for Sammi, then checked out the women's racks, finding two skirts and a sweater for myself before something caught my eye... was a dress by GapKids in the same pattern as the leggings I'd just said goodbye to, hanging amongst the women's tops!  I snatched it up, paid quickly (it was a whopping $2.00!!), and rushed home to wash it so Samantha could wear it over the weekend.  It's made of a double layer of cool cotton poplin, probably in a size 9 or 10, but with adjustable shoulder straps ensuring that she'll be able to wear it for at least the next 2 years.  In the photo Sammi is also wearing a pair of poplin and lace detailed leggings from Naartjie, and maryjanes found for $12.00 at a beach store in St. Simons Island, GA last year.  I had considered getting her another pair on our visit again this past June, but alas, they didn't have them anymore.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's All In the Details

Sometimes it's the details that really make an article of clothing.  And some manufacturers are better than others in this department.  I'm not refering to anything tacky, but just fun, quality apparel with unexpected details tend to be just that much more special.  At the risk of making this blog a gigantic commercial for Naartjie, I do have to say that for a lower-priced brand like they are, they can certainly play on near-equal footing with the big boys, like Oilily, whose costs are completely prohibitive for all but the ridiculously-wealthy.  Oilily is known for quality and attention to detail, from a beautiful finish on the underside of the garment, to a secret pocket, whimsical lining or added embellishment that just makes you smile. 

Those are the kinds of things I often look for in clothes.  I still feel you need to have basics to balance the detailed pieces out, and the details certainly don't need to be big or flashy, but I've found shirts with buttons on elbow cuffs, leggings with buttons on the calves, an extra bit of ribbon along a bottom hem or a contrast stitch...those things make the item feel special, make someone stop and say, "Wow, I like that!"    

If you showcase a large amount of detail, make sure you balance it out with something simple.  In the outfit below, I added a plain pink t-shirt, layered with a plain, chunky-knit, hooded pink cardigan for warmth.


The dress below was a bit of a splurge that I just had to have from Naartjie's Spring 1 collection (purchased at 40% off on a Treasure Tuesday a few weeks ago).  I had seen it in their online catalog, and loved the contrasting fabrics and patterns and how beautifully they all worked together.  They were part of a fairy-tale inspiration that reminded me so much of what childhood is all about.  I have paired it with a pair of capri jeggings, but have also purchased the lace-detail capris shown with it online.
Don't be afraid to try different combinations.  Don't shy away from details.  Even with boy's clothing, a cuff in a contrasting color, cross-stitching, fun linings below collars, extra buttons or funky pockets, a pant that rolls and buttons into a capri - just have fun with it!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Look of the Day: Creating Unexpected Layers

Almost everything is "layer-able."  All you have to do it try it, and keep an open mind.  I will often overlook an item when shopping, no matter how much of a bargain, because I think it's not something I would put on my daughter by itself, but have to catch myself and think about the possibilities.  Like the dress in the photos below.  It's an adorable dress, and I got it from Old Navy on a whim when I saw the $5.99 price tag in the clearance area, but I'd walked past it several times before finally deciding on it (and before seeing the price!).  Having such a vast expanse of just one color makes me uncomfortable - it feels too traditional to me.  Things need to be broken up, and adding a shirt that I'd purchased from H&M for $5 coupled with the fun $6.99 leggings from Naartjie, I felt like I'd accomplished just that.  Bear in mind, while the outfit cost roughly $18.00 altogether, these are all items that can be mixed and matched and used with other things.  To me, $18.00 to dress a child can be too much.  If it's only one outfit.  But this is comprised of at least 2. 


The shoes were second-hand from the local thrift store for just a buck or two.  The soles looked pretty un-worn, and they fit perfectly.

Don't be afraid to roll pants, too.  I'm pretty sure I could write a whole post on that.  If they're too long, roll them.  If they're cutting the look off at the ankle and you want to create more emphasis on their shoes, cuff them.  I think the detail from her socks to her shoes is cute enough to highlight, and it looks whimsical to crop the bottoms with a new finish.  But don't cuff them at the ankle - bring them up a bit higher, like capris.

 Make sure it looks like you want the shirt to go with the dress by rolling the sleeves and ensuring the top collar of the dress is still a visible layer beneath the shirt. Otherwise, it may end up looking like you stuck the shirt over it as an afterthought, or for warmth.
Samantha's sitter in the afternoons has proclaimed this outfit to be her favorite.