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.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

All Hail Stripes!

Back in my gothy days, I foolishly stated that my future children would wear black.  Haha, of course, I did!  Silly, I know.  But I think we all go through thoughts of such folly at one point or another during our lives.  I'm a huge fan of stripes, on leggings in particular. And not just your basic 2-color palette, either. Color is one of the basic concepts in dressing children to look like children.   

I discovered color during my 3 years as Store Manager at Oilily, and learned how beautifully incongruent tones can work together, complementing what would otherwise be a rather ordinary outfit.  While multi-color stripes can be paired with certain floral patterns (be careful with that - I'll address it in a future post), they can also liven up something bland or ordinary, and can help pull together a random piece you have in the closet that seemingly has nothing to go with it. 

I can never have too many pairs of striped leggings for my daughter.  Under dresses, under skirts, with a tunic top, they are versatile, fun, and practical.  Denim tends to really pop when paired with colorful stripes, as in the photo below from Christmas (also paired with floral, btw). 

I see striped leggings often in stores, but for some reason, some just don't jump out at me, don't appeal to me.  You have to keep your eyes open for them.  The ones below are from Crazy 8 (the lower-priced little sister to Gymboree), Target, and Old Navy.  I'm pretty sure I never paid more than $6 or $7 for any of them.  And they're well-worn, as you can see, but they never lose their appeal.  I worry about the day when she outgrows a pair or rips out the knee during recess, and am always on the lookout for backups when I'm out and about.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Salvaging Damaged Goods

Samantha is usually pretty easy on her clothes.  Usually.  But there have been a few instances of irreparable damage to favorite items, occasionally of the dry-erase-marker variety, about as permanent as a Sharpie, if not more so. 

Remember this sweater? 

The one I got from consignment for $6.00 that I was so excited about?  It goes with so many things, and transitions between seasons, so I really knew I had a winner. 

Until the very first day she wore it.

Dry erase marker.  Or Sharpie. Or something else.  Whatever it was, it did not come out in the wash, and I was sad.  I happened to mention it to my friend and neighbor, who said, "Give it to me, and I'll fix it!"  She happens to be the craftiest person I know with a love of embroidery, and once I'd procured thread of the correct color, she worked magic with a few quick passes of a needle and voila, it went from its original state of this (sorry, no pics of the two marker dots):

to its new state of this, with two new little butterflies in the garden:

So there can be solutions to salvaging damages, you just have to think outside the box a bit.  Patches, embroidery, even just adding a new layer overtop to hide the issue.  And, in this case, the job was good enough that I should be able to re-consign it once Samantha is done with it, provided that the garden doesn't completely overtake the sweater in the future...

Many thanks to Laura for her quick thinking and her deft skills!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Look of the Week: Staying Warm

With a quick glimpse of the outdoor thermometer this morning, I shivered at the 20-something degree proclamation.  I know that's not all that cold for some of you, but for us here in the mid-Atlantic, it's pretty chilly.  That being said, with the changeable nature of this climate, tomorrow could very easily be a balmy 70 or 80 degrees, only to snow again the next day. 
As humans, we learn to adapt.  Like some creatures molt at the change from cold to warm, and others add an extra layer of soft, thick fur, our bodies have not yet learned to do those things on their own, and layering clothing is our way of adjusting for the weather. 
Below, my little model shows off some appropriate layering, which could easily be modified for colder climes by adding a pair of knit tights underneath the leggings, or a wooly skirt overtop.

*  Leggings from Naartjie, purchased for $7.99 on sale on a day they offered free shipping. 
**Hooded sweater was $3.00 from a local thrift store 2 years ago, and is layered under a basic pink tee.  This oversized bargain just lives new life again and again, and given that the sleeves are still needing to be rolled, I suspect we may get another year out of this great find!
***Boots were purchased for $8.00 from Off Broadway Shoes.  I'm the farthest thing from an extreme couponer, but the boots were $15.00, I had a $5.00 off coupon I got in my e-mail from being on their mailing list, and I had a receipt coupon for a few bucks (they give you a coupon for the dollar amount of 10% of your purchase every time you buy something!), taking it down to $8.00!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seasons, Schmeasons...

Who says a girl can't wear a sundress in the middle of the winter?  And who says a boy can't wear short sleeves?  Capris?  No problem. 

I preach layers.  Not only can layers make a bold and eclectic fashion statement, but they can also serve to maintain warmth.  We know this from all of the turtlenecks and sweaters we (okay, not me, but many people) pile on in the winter.  I figure you can always add more.

Be practial, but still get some extra mileage from out-of-season-but-still-in-size items already stored in the closet. 

Last weekend I found this great little red cardigan from Gymboree at a local consignment shop for $6.00.  Although I'm not really a huge fan of red, I was immediately struck by the pink and orange embroidery on the front, and knew it would have a very practical place in Samantha's wardrobe.  Wanting to bring new life to a pink sundress (purchased 2 years ago at a thrift store for @$2.00) that I don't even recall if my daughter worn last summer, I layered it under the sweater to bring out the pink embroidery, and over a pair of jeggings (oh, how it pains me to type that word, silly as it is, but eh, what else would I call them?).  I just love ruffle details, and I love experimenting with layers!  Topping the outfit off with a pair of boots, she looked as ready for school as any other child this time of year.  The cardigan is made of a lightweight cotton that will carry through to the summer months, and this look would have worked just as well over a regular pair of jeans, with the cuffs rolled to just skim the tops of the boots.


Of course, you may be saying that you live in the frozen tundra of the north, and that's fine, too - like I said, you can always add more.  Put a long-sleeved shirt under the sundress, or just layer for the outdoors by adding a fleece hoodie before putting on a heavy winter coat.  I'm reasonably certain it is not a frozen tundra inside the classroom.

Got a favorite short sleeved shirt of your son's that you'd like to get more mileage from?  Layer a long sleeved tee underneath, ala Big Bang Theory (only without the geek factor), and a hoodie over top.  (Can you tell I love hoodies?) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's Naartjie's Treasure Tuesday!

Each week, Naartjie features items in each department at 40% off on their website.  You have to search the department to find the items and uncover the deals.  Let me tell you, there's some good stuff in there... 

I'll list today's great finds here, but going forward, I'll be posting the Treasure Tuesday reminder under the Upcoming Sales and Promotions tab of this blog, above.

Today you can find:

Newborn Girl

Mikayla floral pants (now $7.77)

Pieced sweetest spot print cardigan (now $10.17)

Baby Myra soft shoe (now $13.77)

Newborn Boy

Giraffe print one piece (now $11.97)

Baby Girls

Aston floral belled capri leggings (now $9.57)

Aston floral ruffled car applique tunic (now $10.17)

Lil Winona strap ballet flats (now $16.17)

Baby Boys

Marrakesh print cracker shirt (now $10.77)



Cracker pants (now $16.77)

Kid Girl

Aston floral ruffled car applique tunic (now $10.17)

Aston floral belled capri leggings (now $9.57)

Winona strap ballet flats (now $16.17)

Kid Boy

Adjustable waist cracker pant (now $16.77)

Marrakesh print cracker shirt (now $10.77)

Happy shopping!