Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wardrobe Basics

I thought that I would pass along this list of 50 wardrobe basics compiled by Matchbook Magazine. This is a good resource if you are trying to build your basic wardrobe for the 5 Piece French Wardrobe. I think that I'm going to stick this baby in Photoshop and start checking things off.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

5 Piece French Wardrobe - #1

I took the plunge and bought the first piece in my 5 piece French Wardrobe for Spring. I've had my eye on this pair of jeans from the Gap for a while now. I've tried them on in the store (twice actually) and the high-waist makes my legs look so long. Today, Gap is having 30%, so I took that as my cue. I'll be sure to do an outfit post once they arrive, but I know they're going to get a lot of wear this Spring.

I Thrift, Therefore I Am...

... a shopaholic. I know I just did a huge post about not shopping, but I did. In my defense, it was secondhand shopping and I did find two things on my thrift shopping wish list. I found my lighter-wash denim jacket (Gap) and a black maxi skirt (for April's EBEW). The real prize for the day is another Coach purse. This one is a twin to one of the purses I wrote about earlier. It was $10 down from $20.

Purchases 03.30.11

Sorry for the crappy cell phone photo. I left my camera cord at my parents' this past weekend. That's also the reason I haven't done a outfit post all week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5 Piece French Wardrobe

It is no secret. I love all things French. In high school, I chose to take French, instead of the oh so practical Spanish. My college dorm room was decorated in a French theme. I've been to Paris 3 times. I read all kinds of books on the subject from the "I'm American/British and lived in France for a year" books to the "How to be/eat/dress French" books.

Above all, my fascination is with French girl style. So seemingly effortless. I love the way a French girl can make a simple outfit elegant and stylish. The exact same outfit, piece for piece, would look boring on me. It's really no great secret that what French style comes down to, aside from matching underwear, is quality over quantity.

Several bloggers have recently written about the 5 Piece French Wardrobe. Research or consensus or whatever basically says that French women only add 5 new pieces to their wardrobe each season. This is fashion seasons (two) not weather seasons (four), so 10 new pieces a year. From what I can understand these 5 pieces are signature, investment pieces. Basics don't count. So a new killer pair of heels would count as one of the pieces, but a new white t-shirt would not.

I scoff at buying a $310 blazer, but if you took all the money I spend on clothes in a year and divide it by 10... Well, it wouldn't be $310 (hopefully) but it would be a decent amount. The 5 Piece French Wardrobe is really in line with the goals of NNNY and my never ending quest to reduce my clothing consumption.

In order for this to work, you need a good base wardrobe. Sabrina at afterDRK has already made a good list of basic pieces. Once you have a good base to work from (and I do) you only add 5 pieces each season. When you limit your shopping in such a way, you definitely have to carefully consider what you are going to buy. If you are only going to buy 5 things, you better make sure that you really love them.

So how is this going to work in Unusual Form land:

1. I will only buy 5 new pieces for Spring.

2. I may fill in a few gaps in my basics, or update a few items, but I won't abuse this.

3. I'm still going to allow myself limited secondhand shopping.

4. I won't count anything I make for myself.

I've been working on my list of items for Spring. Here are some possible candidates for my Spring 5 Piece French Wardrobe:

  • Wide-Leg, High-Waist Jeans
  • Paperbag Waist Shorts in Khaki
  • Classic Trench (Technically a basic, but likely to be pricey)
  • Light Weight Cropped Utility Jacket in Olive

My list will likely change, but I'll keep you updated as it progresses. I'm going to keep a running list in the right hand column of my blog. Expect Polyvore sets soon. I love a good visual.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pay It Forward

Since I can't pass up a good blogger challenge, here comes another one. I saw this challenge on Marie's blog Watch Me Dress. I was lucky enough to be one of the first five to comment there, so now I am paying it forward on my blog.

This one is quite simple. I will make something handmade for the first five people who comment on this post. In return, the first five people must post this on their blog and promise to make something for the first five people who comment there, so on and so forth. If you are one of the first five, be sure to email your info to me: unusualform (at) gmail (dot) com. Oh yeah, you have to finish this by the end of 2011. That should be plenty of time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rebel Rebel

Wow! I'm not really sure what came over me today. This outfit is kind of bad@$$, especially considering my usual fair. I've had this jacket for a while, but haven't been able to style it in a way that didn't look like I had just fallen off the back of a Harley. I decided that the best way to counter the masculine nature of the jacket was with girly items and what is more girly than ruffles and purple lips. No, I'm not wearing purple lipstick, but there are tiny, little purple lips on my shirt.

Outfit 03.24.11 A

Jacket - LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's (1st time out)
Blouse - Gap (1st time out)
Skirt - Banana Republic
Booties - BCBGeneration (1st time out)
Bracelet - Vintage

Outfit 03.24.11 B

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Walk the Line

Sometimes I tread that fine line between fashion forward and freaking nuts. I have a feeling that this outfit is teetering towards the later. I'm sporting plaid, animal print, and purple all in one outfit, not to mention the fact that I'm mixing black and brown. Fashion insanity? I fear so.

Outfit 03B

Cardigan - Gap
Blouse - Gap (1st Time Out)
Skirt - Pendleton Vintage, Thrifted (1st Time Out)
Boots - Lucky
Belt - Gap, Thrifted (1st Time Out)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hot Legs

Today's outfit is part of the Paper Doll Project organized by Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy. Different bloggers were paired up and got to dress each other for the day. My partner is Dana of Curvy with a Side of Confidence. Be sure to head over to her blog to check out the outfit I chose for her.

Outfit 03.22.11 A

Blazer - Banana Republic
Dress - Tucker for Target (1st time out)
Boots - Vintage, Thrifted
Necklace - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)
Belt - Gap
Tights - Hue

Outfit 03.22.11 B

So how does one go about creating an outfit for someone you've never met. Well, all the bloggers were asked to chose a piece of clothing that they would like styled. In my case, it was the Tucker for Target dress. Dana chose a pink blouse. We exchanged several emails about weather, activities for today, etc. as well as pictures of the item to be styled. We then looked through each others archives, and made outfits based on items the person already owned. Both Dana and I happened to use Polyvore to create outfit suggestions for each other, which I think worked out really well.

You can see her Polyvore sets for me here and here.
You can see my Polyvore sets for her here, here, and here.

The entire experience was really fun and I'd love to do it again.


If you are reading this in October 2011, I repurposed this outfit for Everybody, Everywear.

Colored Tights | Everybody, Everywear

Monday, March 21, 2011

Photo Bombed

This lovely little purple number was purchased over Spring Break from a vintage store in an Airstream trailer. I've mentioned it before, but it's called Grey Dog Vintage Boutique and it's fabulous. This was acquired slightly over a week ago, which is a pretty quick debut compared to most of the pieces in my "wearing the unworn" challenge.

Outfit 03.21.11

Cardigan - LC Lauren Conrad (Kohl's)
Dress - Vintage (1st time out)
Necklace - Vintage
Belt - TJ Maxx
Shoes - Payless

Outfit  03.21.11

Speaking of dogs. Yes, I was photo bombed by a dog today. Everyone, I'd like you to meet Hoover, the newest member of the Unusual Farm household. He's a friendly little stray that came up a few weeks ago and has apparently adopted us. Well, the feeling is mutual Hoov. Welcome to the family.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Well, I sprung a little too early. It was a bit nippy today, so I did have to go back to that gray wool sweater (or cashmere in this case). My unworn piece for the day is my skirt. It is from the "We Love Vera" line at Anthropologie, which I've previously waxed poetic about. I really love the print, but the fit is awkward. I've had it for over a year, and I'm just now making it work? Lazy fashion on my part.

Outfit 03.20.11

Sweater - Banana Republic
Skirt - We Love Vera (1st time out)
Tights - Eddie Bauer
Heels - Gianni Bini
Necklace - Vintage
Belt - Abercrombie and Fitch (from high school)

Outfit 03.20.11 Umm...Yeah

Okay. This picture is a bit of a joke. My father took my outfit photo today and thought that I should have my picture with some of our farm equipment to prove that I'm a real farm girl. He would also like to be referred to as the Unusual Farm household from now on. My mother thinks that I look like I'm posing for some trucker calender. Say hello to Miss Big Rig December.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Even if the official first day of Spring is not until tomorrow, it's already feeling like Spring (or even early summer) around here. The temperatures are in the mid-70s, sun shining. Why should I hid behind gray wool any longer? Break out the Spring attire! Bright colors, light fabrics, sandals. Bring them on. Long time, no see my warm weather buddies.

Outfit 03.19.11

Cardigan - J.Crew via ebay (1st time out)
Tank - Banana Republic
Skirt - NY and Co.
Flats - Calvin Klein
Necklace - J.C. Penney

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Promised Pics

I dug through the pictures at my parent's house and managed to find the photo of my outfit from the first day of sixth grade. I didn't realize it, but outfit photos have been a long standing tradition in the Unusual Form household. Every first day of school. Outfit photos. New Easter dress. Outfit photos. New Christmas dress. Outfit photos. My childhood fashion proclivities were well documented.

First Day - Sixth Grade

"Clueless" inspired first day outfit. Yes, I actually wore knee socks in a non-ironic way.

French Safari?

When was the last time you wore French cuffs? Mine was probably 6th grade. I was going through a Clueless stage. I don't necessarily mean that I was clueless (though I probably was). "Clueless" was my favorite movie at the time and very much influenced my fashion choices for the year. I remember meticulously planning my outfit for the first day of school. White polo shirt with pink argyle accents, matching pink mini skirt with suspenders, white knee socks, and black mary janes. I'll definitely have to dig that picture up the next time I'm at my parents'. It would be good for a few laughs.

I like to think of this outfit as more "militant safari". The shirt was purchased in the aftermath of the Fall 30 for 30 challenge. Based on my "lessons learned", I thought it would be great to stock up on printed shirts that would look cute under things, add a little pop of pattern. I found this silk shirt from The Limited at Goodwill. I had mixed feelings about it for a while. It didn't feel very "Kara". I guess that's why it's been hanging there unworn for several months. I finally decided to take the plunge and wear it, mostly due to my mini challenge. I'm glad I did. I think that it could be surprisingly versatile.

Outfit 031811

Cardigan - J.Crew
Blouse - The Limited, Thrifted (1st time out)
Skirt - Banana Republic
Flats - Naturalizer
Belt - Thrifted

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bikes and Fishes

What do bikes and fishes have in common? Absolutely nothing! Except for the fact that they both make an appearance in my outfit today. Those little splotches on my sweater are actually people on bikes. If you don't believe me, check out the detail shot below my outfit photo. I purchased this sweater from my handy, dandy local "upscale, resale" shop. It was originally from Anthropologie and I snagged it for a cool 10 bucks.

The little fish necklace (also in the detail shot) is very special to me. It belonged to my grandma. I love vintage jewelry, but vintage jewelry that once belonged to a family member is tops.

Outfit 031711

Sweater - Moth via consignment (1st time out)
Shirt - Gap
Pants - Banana Republic
Flats - Naturalizer
Necklace - Vintage (Grandmother's)

Outfit 031711 Detail

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Thrift Store Miracle

Okay. Miracle is perhaps too strong of a word. How about fortuitous coincident? Serendipitous event? Over Spring Break, I took the opportunity to hit up some thrift stores in a part of the state I don't get to very often. I'm perusing Goodwill and low and behold I find a blazer, not just any blazer, but a blazer that is an exact match to the maroon skirt from my Winter 30 for 30 challenge previously worn here, here, and here. It's the same fabric, same brand, and perhaps miraculously it fits.

What are the chances of finding two halves of a vintage suit more than 350 miles apart? I would be less surprised if it were more recent pieces, like 5 year old Gap or something, but vintage? Both pieces did come from Goodwill, albeit two different Goodwills in two different states. Maybe there is some kind of big Goodwill clearing house and these two pieces were separated. Well regardless of their past lives, they're together now and together they will stay.

Miracle Suit

In the spirit of wearing the unworn, the blazer made an appearance today. Pretty close to the day of purchase I might add. I did break the pieces up, which seems sad so soon after their reunion, but fear not, they shall be worn as a suit eventually.

Outfit 03.16.11

Blazer - Vintage, Thrifted (1st time out)
Blouse - J.Crew (1st time out)
Pants - Banana Republic
Boots - Thrifted
Belt - J.Crew, Thrifted (1st time out)

If I keep doubling up on unworn pieces, this challenge may not last quite as long as I thought it would. Ha!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What am I waiting for?

Starting this week, I'm doing my own mini challenge. I have decided to refrain from shopping until I have worn every unworn item in my closet. Today, I counted all the items that still have tags or were vintage/thrifted and unworn (by me) and came up with at least 25 pieces. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a few other items lurking in my "extra" closet at my parent's house.

The rules of this challenge are quite simple. Each day I wear at least one previously unworn item, freely mixed with all the other items I already own. Until all said items have been worn, no shopping. I'm limiting this to seasonally appropriate clothing. Those new bikinis are just going to have to wait. And to items that fit. Come on. I know everyone else has a few of those "aspirational" items, or thing that just plain don't fit.

If most of us would admit it, the reason we go shopping is not out of need, but instead for the thrill of the new. Well, I already have that thrill hanging in my closet, 25 times over. New thrill (already paid for thrill) just waiting to be worn.

Alright, I'm asking everyone to fess up. How many unworn pieces do you have in your closet? I can't be the only one with this problem.

Outfit 03A

Cardigan - Gap (1st time out)
Blouse - Anthropologie (1st time out)
Pants - Banana Republic
Shoes - Banana Republic
Glasses - Kate Spade
Necklace - Banana Republic
Bracelet - Mexico

All previously unworn items will be marked "1st time out", just so you can know which gems I'm finally putting into rotation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

On the Road Again

Please excuse my road weary look, because I am road weary. This photo was taken after a 5 hour drive back to my apartment, but a girl's got to take her outfit photos. Right?

I had to stop by one last architect's office on my way out of town this morning, so I wanted an outfit that looked professional, but was also comfy for such a long drive. Observant readers may notice that this is a remix of the top from Friday. Isn't that what traveling is all about? Remixing what few items you can fit in your travel bag of choice. I once traveled 2.5 weeks in Europe with only a school size backpack. Let's just say it involved lots of washing of items in hotel sinks.

Outfit 031411

Cardigan - Gap
Blouse - Gap
Pants - Banana Republic
Flats - Banana Republic
Necklace - Banana Republic
Bracelet - Mexico
Glasses - Kate Spade

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Wow! Direct sunlight does pasty girls no favors. Well unless you stand it a long time without sunscreen, then you might actually get some color, or just freckle.

This shirt is one of my miraculous Goodwill Half Price Center finds. It's a brand-new with tags silk shirt from Chico's. I generally consider Chico's as a store for slightly more mature women, but this was cute and $1.00 (down from the original price of $78.00), so I took a chance.

Outfit 031211

Blouse - Chico's, Thrifted
Pants - Banana Republic
Boots - Lucky Brand
Necklace - Dillard's
Bracelet - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)

More camera/grill awkwardness. Got to love it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pick Me! Pick Me!

This is my "I'm a responsible and talented designer, and you should hire me" outfit. I'm contemplating a move across the state to be closer to my bf. This week is Spring Break, so I've made the cross-state trek in the hopes of finding a job. Today, I'm planning on stopping in on some architecture firms in the area. Wish me luck!

Outfit 031111

Blazer - Gap (Seen Below)
Blouse - Gap
Trousers - Banana Republic
Necklace - Banana Republic
Bracelet - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)

Outfit 031111B

Please ignore the awkwardness of these photos. I had my camera propped up on my bf's grill. Should have brought my tripod.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sew, What's New? (Oh, that's so corny.)

Yesterday, I did something that I have never, ever done in my whole entire life. I made a piece of clothing based on a commercial pattern, and I did it all by myself. It was a long process. I'm unfamiliar with "proper" sewing techniques such as binding seams. The piece in question is the floral tank I'm wearing below. You might recognize the fabric from this project. If you ever see me wearing this in public, please don't examine the craft too closely. It looks good in photos, but the details are sort of rough, kind of like a room makeover on HGTV.

Outfit 03.10.11

Cardigan - Anthropologie
Tank - Self-Made
Jeans - Anthropologie
Boots - Nurture
Accessories - Vintage

Outfit 03.10.11 Detail

See that twisted neck detail. Fancy. Oh, yeah.

Outfit 03.10.11 Pattern

I used a Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern. The tank I made is letter "A". If you watch your local sewing supply store, you can occasionally find these on sale for $1.00. Getting the pattern on sale makes it easier to take the plunge and actually attempt to use it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Save Faves?

Why is it that we feel that we have to "save" clothing we love? Why not break out our favorites more often? I absolutely love this top from Anthropologie. It's We Love Vera, based on the work of textile designer, Vera Neumann. My favorite store, one of my favorite designer, and I've worn it once in the six months I've owned it. Well, today makes two. Crazy. Loco. Bonkers. That's all.

Outfit 03.09.11

Blouse - We Love Vera (Anthro)
Jeans - James (Anthro)
Heels - Gianni Bini
Bracelet - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)

Bananas one day, Veras the next.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Double Dots

Today's outfit is part of Everybody, Everywear's Polka Dot Tuesday. I've had this outfit in mind ever since polka dots were announced as the item of the month. Do you like how I went for a double shot of dots?

Outfit 03.08.11

Cardi - Gap
Blouse - Banana Republic
Shorts - J.Crew (Thrifted, Altered)
Tights - Target
Boots - Vintage, Thrifted
Belt - Gap
Jewelry - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)

Be sure to head over to EbEw to check out everyone else's take on polka dots.

Polka Dots | Everybody, Everywear

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Miracle of Miracles

So while I was on my 30 day shopping hiatus, something exiting happened. My local Goodwill turned into a "Half-Price Center". Everything is half off the regular Goodwill price. Skirts are $2.00 instead of $4.00, etc. I don't know if that means we'll be getting the rejects that don't sale at other stores, but I'm up for the challenge regardless.

My first shopping expedition yielded 6 pieces for $10.50, including a J.Crew striped button up and the silk shirt that I'm sporting today, both for $2.00 a piece.

Outfit 030511

Blouse - Jones New York (Thrifted)
Jeans - James Jeans (Anthropologie, $20!)
Shoes - Thrifted
Bracelet - Vintage, Mom'd
Belt - Vintage, Thrifted

This is another one of my affordable outfits. I'm pretty sure it rings up at $27.00, including shoes.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Five a Day

After a month of funky, casual outfits, I was ready for a more professional look. How's this for "I'm a responsible yet stylish adjunct professor/intern architect"? Did I hit the right note?

Outfit 030411

Cardigan - Gap
Blouse - Banana Republic
Slacks - Banana Republic (via consignment, $10 baby!)
Flats - Banana Republic
Necklace - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)
Bracelet - Vintage

I'm a little Banana heavy today. I know you're supposed to have 5 pieces of fruit a day, but I'm pretty sure the experts weren't talking about this kind of fruit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shopping Secondhand - Vintage Patterns

Patterns 1

Ahh. Vintage patterns. One of the few bargains truly left. These little slices of fashion history can be yours for mere pennies. The six patterns in the photo above were all purchased over the weekend at a flea market, all from the same booth. They set me back $0.50 each. I've seen vintage patterns at thrift stores for as low as $0.10. Almost every store has at least a basket of patterns.

With all the revivals of various styles, buying vintage patterns makes sense. The 70s are going to be huge for spring and all these patterns just happen to be from the 70s. Look for whatever decade interests you most.

What to look for in a pattern:

1. Ideally you want one that is uncut (unused). Barring that, having all the pieces would be nice. Chances are you are not going to pull all the pieces out in the store, so if you like it and the price is right, I say go ahead and risk it.

2. Make sure the pattern is your size. Remember, this is vintage sizing, which is similar to modern day pattern sizing. Know your measurements and check them against the back of the pattern. I'm a modern 2/4 and a vintage pattern 14. Talk about 40 plus years of vanity sizing.

3. If you're new to sewing in general, look for patterns marked "How to Sew", "Simple to Sew", "Super Simple", "Learn to Sew for Fun". These phrases indicate that they are for beginning sewers and should theoretically be easy to use.

Also don't forget your family members as a resource, maybe your mom, grandma, or aunt has some patterns stashed away from back in the day.

Patterns 2

One of the first pieces I will attempt is the brown dress in this nubby yellow fabric. I'm thinking I'll make it a little shorter though.

Patterns 3

I also think that I'll make the flutter sleeve dress in this vintage Hawaiian fabric. Hopefully I can alter this pattern and have a boat neck, not a square neck. I may have to call back up reinforcements (aka Grandma) on this one.

Patterns 4

I'm totally obsessed with these pants. They aren't included in the pattern, but they are the exact high-waist, wide leg jeans I want for spring. What goes around truly does come around.

30 for 30 Final Roundup

All Weeks

The Break Down:

How did each piece fare?

- Black Blazer beat out Camel Blazer by one wear (4 to 3)

- Mustard Cardi won with 4, while other sweaters had 2 or 3
- Blue Stripe Button Up won with 4 to the other Button Ups 3
- Green Blouse won 4 to other blouses' 3
- Stripe Tee won (5) just beating out Concert Tee (4)
- Jeans clear winner with 6
- Most skirts worn 3 times except Blue Stripe (2) and Black (1)
- Shoes neck and neck: Frye (10), Flats (9), Black Boots (8), except for Short Boots (3)

What I Would Have Done Differently:

- I could have done without the turtleneck. Who knew it was going to be 70 degrees in February?

- I would have picked less neutrals, probably leaving out the grey silk blouse and the black skirt.
- In place of neutrals, I would have picked one more colorful cardigan, a colorful skirt, and one more printed skirt. More color!

Which are your favorite outfits for the challenge? I like 3, 13, and 23, all the ones with colorful cardigans, of course.

30 of 30 or The End is Here!

See that big smile on my face, I'm sporting it because this is my final outfit of the 30 for 30 Winter Challenge. In honor of my final outfit, I broke out my final unworn piece, my black skirt. Last challenge, a black skirt was my most worn skirt. This time I wore a black skirt once. What gives? Last time, I seemed to have more colorful tops to pair with the black skirt. This time I picked so many neutrals, it wasn't really needed. Oh well, lesson learned. I'm toasting all my fellow remixers with my morning mug of coffee. Here's to being done!

Outfit 30

Shirt - J.Crew (via Plato's Closet)
Skirt - Urban Outfitters
Flats - Banana Republic
Necklace - Vintage (Gift from parents)
Belt - Vintage (Flea Market)
Bracelet - Vintage

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

29 of 30 or The End is Near

I don't know about y'all, but I'm going to be glad to see the end of this 30 for 30 challenge. This time around there has been less revelation and more work it seems. The not shopping part was easier to handle, but my outfits seem less inspired than the first time around. Let's just chalk this one up to a sophomore slump. IF, and a big emphasis on the if, I do the 30 for 30 challenge a third time, I think I will finally be about to make exciting, useful choices in my item selection.

Outfit 29

Blouse - Banana Republic (via consignment)
Pants - J.Crew
Flats - Banana Republic
Accessories - Vintage

Be sure to check back tomorrow. It will be a busy day around here on Unusual Form. I'll have my final 30 for 30 outfit, my 30 for 30 Roundup with all the outfits of the challenge, and a new Shopping Secondhand post.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

28 of 30 Two More Days!!!

Upon reviewing today's photos, I realized I should have worn a belt. I ran out of my apartment in a hurry this morning. What can I say?

Outfit 28

Cardi - Anthro
Blouse - Banana Republic
Pants - Gap
Boots - Thrifted
Necklace - Simply Vera Vera Wang (Kohl's)


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