Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts on the 5 Piece French Wardrobe

At the end of 2010, I resolved to follow NNINY, Nothing New in the New Year. It proved to be a little too restrictive and not that realistic for me. I moved on to the 5 Piece French Wardrobe, which I more or less followed for 2011. (Any “cheats” were wedding/honeymoon related.) So, what’s my angle for 2012? Do I repeat the 5 Piece French Wardrobe, or move on to something else?

5 Piece French Wardrobe (Spring)

I've found the 5PFW works best if:

a. you really are French.
b. you have a fabulous wardrobe to begin with.
c. you buy $500 couture items.
d. you mostly buy statement pieces.

The pieces I bought mostly qualify as basics. The 5PFW makes more sense when applied to statement pieces.  "Updating basics" is allowed under the 5PFW, but where do you draw the line on what is a basic? You could spend hundreds of dollars on "basics".

5 Piece French Wardrobe (Fall)

This is no specific item I regret not buying, but I do feel my wardrobe missed out a bit on "trend".  You can find a lot of on-trend items at the thrift store, but let’s face it, there are always some things you just can’t find at a thrift store.  I have trouble finding t-shirts, sweaters, or jeans.  All tend to be in bad shape by the time they make it to a thrift store.

I don't necessarily want to follow the 5PFW again, but I need some kind of filtering system. I have a weekly budget of $25 for fun money, which goes towards anything that is not a necessity: a new book, clothing, eating out with friends, etc.  The weekly budget already limits what I can spend, but I don't want to get back in the habit of buying tons of shallow clothing from mass market retailers.

So how do I find balance between new shopping and thrift shopping, between building a wardrobe and over stuffing it?  I feel like I'm somewhat wiser for experimenting with the 5PFW, but I don't have it all figured out.  I still make mistakes. 

All that I can promise for this new year is that I'm going to continue to curate my own personal style and to favor thrifted over new and quality over quantity.  Any thoughts on my style resolutions past or current?  What are your own style resolutions?   

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Camel is the New Grey

Can you tell that camel is my new favorite neutral? I've worn some version of it in my last three outfit posts (see the other outfits here and here).  Camel is just such a warm, flattering color and goes with everything.  Not to mention how sophisticated I feel when wearing it, even if it's paired with polka dots and a bright colored blocked skirt.  Umm, I'm also wearing the same boots in the last four posts.  At least I'm getting my $8.00 worth out of them.  

Camel is my new grey.  Navy is my new black.  And polka dots are my new stripes.  What can I say? I'm all about breaking convention here on Unusual Form. 


Cardigan - Banana Republic
Tank - J.Crew, Gifted
Skirt - Elle, Kohl's
Boots - Vintage, Goodwill
Necklace - Vintage, Flea Market
Belt - Flea Market

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Search, I Answer: Colored Jeans

Today's You Search, I Answer came in the form of an email from Missey. She states:

"I love all of the skinny colored jeans that are out right fact, I own three pairs(cobalt blue, eggplant, fuschia/red)! My problem is in styling; I seem to only wear black, white, or grey tops with them for fear of looking too "busy". Do you have any suggestions?"

I sure do! Let me introduce you to my fail-proof equation:

colored jean + new neutral + touch of interest = bold, but not busy

The color of jean is up to you.  Add one of my favorite neutrals: navy, camel, or chambray or one of the patterns I consider a new neutral: polka dots, stripes, the list goes on and on.  For the final touch, a bit of interest.  This can come in the form of color, pattern, texture, or shine (I'm pretty sure I just stole this from Clinton and Stacy).  The key to balancing bold jeans is to keep the other pieces sleek and simple with a dash special.  

Cobalt Jeans

Outfit 1 - Cobalt + Chambray + Touch of Pink
Outfit 2 - Cobalt + Navy + Touch of Red
Outfit 3 - Cobalt + Navy + Touch of Turquoise

Red Jeans

Outfit 1 - Red + Chambray + Touch of Rugged
Outfit 2 - Red + Navy Stripe + Touch of Turquoise
Outfit 3 - Red + Camel + Touch of Equestrian

Eggplant Jeans

Outfit 1 - Eggplant + Chambray + Touch of Print
Outfit 2 - Eggplant + Camel + Touch of Berry
Outfit 3 - Eggplant + Navy Dots + Touch of Turquoise

If you have any styling questions of your own, feel free to shoot me an email at unusualform (at) gmail (dot) com.  Who knows? You may see your own question answered here on the blog.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dots and Dotty

I bought these tights after seeing Dotty wear them on her blog.  I find rust much more wearable than red.  I have a pair of red tights, but I've never worn them.  I'm afraid it would come off too Christmas-y.  Rust is just right.

I paired my Dotty inspired tights with a dotted skirt, plus a birthday gift sweater and Christmas gift locket.   Overall, I feel classic and a little quirky.  Perhaps that should be my new m.o.


Sweater - J.Crew, Gifted
Skirt - Vintage, Thrifted
Tights - Target
Boots - Vintage, Goodwill
Locket - Vintage, Gifted

I did wear this to work, once again proving that polka dots can be professional.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Different Day, More of the Same

Do you ever find yourself reaching for the same items or types of clothing over and over again?  I guess it's that whole "20% of your clothes, 80% of the time" theory.  I wear these exact jeans two or three times a week (I fell and tore a hole in the only other pair in rotation).  I wear the same 4 pairs of boots all winter, despite a closet overflowing with shoes.  Two tie-neck blouses, two enamel brooches, two days in a row?  Yep.  What can I say?  I'm a creature of habit.  What clothing habits have you picked up lately?

2012-01-18 a

Cardigan - Gap
Tie-Neck Blouse - Old Navy, Resale Shop
Skinnies - BDG, Urban Outfitters
Boots - Vintage, Goodwill
Brooch - Vintage, Antique Store

2012-01-18 b

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Can You Keep a Secret?

This shirt is about three sizes too big, but when I saw it at Plato's Closet (vintage among the mall brands!) I just had to have it.  The little navy specks give an outfit the perfect combination of neutral and interest, plus I have a weakness for tie-necks.  When I saw it was Halston III, a line they did for J.C. Penney's, I was sold, or should I say the shirt was sold.

I paired the blouse with classic pieces, like my tweed blazer (the better to hide the excess fabric with, my dear), and threw on an enamel brooch for a little fun.  I think it hits the right note between vintage and modern. And nobody is the wiser about my oversized shirt.

2012-01-17 a

Blazer - Vintage, Goodwill
Blouse - Vintage, Halston III, Plato's Closet
Skinnies - BGD, Urban Outfitters
Boots - Vintage, Goodwill
Brooch - Vintage, Goodwill

2012-01-17 b

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wishes Do Come True

Sometimes the thrift stars align and you find exactly what you are wishing for.  Observant readers will note that I have had "red blazer" on my Thrift Wish List for a few weeks.  I'd spotted some cute outfits around the web and wanted to follow suit.  Now granted, a red blazer is not a rare specimen, but to find a high-quality red blazer, in good condition, in the perfect size and fit, for $4.00?  Now that is a miracle to behold!

2012-01-16 a

Blazer - Vintage, Thrifted
Striped Tee - Rodarte for Target
Skinnies - James Jeans, Anthropologie
Booties - Gianni Bini, Dillard's
Necklace - Vintage
Scarf - Simply Vera, Kohl's

2012-01-16 b

Side Note: Lately, I've been tinkering with blog layout, photo sizes, etc. so please bear with me through my blog improvements.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fall 5 Piece French Wardrobe - #4

I've really gone with the neutrals for my 5PFW, haven't I? I thought I would buy more statement pieces, but apparently when faced with limitations, I play it safe.

I just couldn't resist this sweater though, especially after I saw the back. In true Kara form, I didn't just go pay full price. I bought this Kimchi Blue sweater for $10. Originally $50 at Urban Outfitters, I picked it up at Name Brand Clothing just before Christmas.  It was perfect for the family Christmas dinner paired with my versatile red skirt (I told you I'd wear it, I just didn't get a picture until now).

2012-01-11 b

Sweater - Kimchi Blue, Name Brand Clothing
Skirt - Vintage, Goodwill
Heels - Gianni Bini, Dillard's

2012-01-11 c

Check out that back!

2012-01-11 d

With vintage-inspired bead work like that, who needs jewelry?

2012-01-11 A

This sweater can go sweet or sassy. Paired with a vintage high-waist skirt (Oscar de la Renta, btw), it's much more Joan Holloway. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll never be Joan, Peggy maybe... but never Joan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

EBEW + 5PFW #3

Today's post is a twofer. It combines my black and white outfit for EBEW and the introduction of the third piece in my Fall 5PFW, the tuxedo blazer.

When the EBEW theme was announced I immediately thought of my new blazer. I can't think of a better time to introduce what is sure to be a wardrobe staple.  It's neutral, it's classy.  What more could you ask of a garment?


Blazer - F21
Top - Actually a skirt
Skinnies - Banana Republic
Boots - Gianni Bini, Dillard's
Necklace - Thrifted

Black + White | Everybody, Everywear

Sunday, January 8, 2012

You Search, I Answer: Polka Dots

Today's You Search, I Answer is based on the search term "Is polka dot professional?". My answer is an unequivocal "Yes!".  No matter where you work you can incorporate polka dots into your professional wardrobe.

If you are polka dot shy:
  • Start with tiny dots
  • Wear them in neutral colors
  • Wear them with neutral, classic pieces

As your dot confidence increase:
  • Wear larger dots
  • Integrate your dots with color
  • Mix your dots with trendy pieces

I own a whole range of dot sizes from micro dots to muffin sized dots. Below are several outfits with a gradient of dots arranged small to large i.e. easiest to pull off to more daring. 

2012-01-09 1a

Classic Suit + Micro-Dot Blouse + Black Tights & Pumps = Even an Investment Banker Can Pull Off Dots

2012-01-09 1b

2012-01-09 2a

Classic Suit + Lady-Like Blouse + Dotty Tights + Classic Pumps = A Little More Daring

2012-01-09 3

Camel Blazer + Dotted Blouse + Black Skinnies + Riding Boots + Chain Necklace = Classic with a Twist

2012-01-09 4

Black Blazer + Lady-Like Blouse + Polka Dot Pencil Skirt + Black Tights & Pumps =  Quirky Professional

All of these outfits are in neutrals for the dot shy.  I'll do a Part 2 "You're Comfortable with Dots, Now What?" post later.  In the mean time, if you are feeling brave you could go for larger dots or even polka dot pants.

 So what do you think, are polka dots easy to pull off for work?  Do you wear them?  If so, how?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Local Love

When I began the 5PFW early last year, one of my goals was to be more sustainable in my clothing purchases. I made provisions for buying second-hand, but I did not take into account items that were made locally and/or by independent craftspeople. This t-shirt is one such item. I purchased it before the holidays at a local crafts fair featuring independent artists. The tee was made by Erin of ArkieStyle. Be sure to check out her website and etsy shop. She has more than just Arkansas themed items, but you have to admit, the t-shirt is pretty cute.

2012-01-04 B

Blazer - Ann Taylor, Thrifted
T-shirt - Arkie Style
Jeans - BDG, Urban Outfitters
Boots - Lucky, Dillard's

2012-01-04 a


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