Sunday, January 23, 2011

Style Insurance

This outfit really reminds me of Erin from Work With What You Got - not because of the way it looks, but in how it came together. The two main pieces (blouse and jeggings) are both off-the-rack items from Target's house brand. Now, when i think of places to shop where i'm likely to find pieces along my aesthetic, Target ain't the first retail establishment that comes to mind. Yet, i felt at ease in this look and it fit nicely inside my style spectrum.

Now, even nine months ago if you'd told me i'd be dressed head-to-toe in mass market off the rack pieces and like how i looked, "skeptical" would've covered my reaction. But here it had come to pass. Pondering how this could be, i boiled it down to two factors. One, i know my own style well enough to be able to pick items which either express my style or will work harmoniously with it (the neutral colors, the feminine-detailed voile blouse) without those items having been presented to me in the context of my own style. In other words, i have enough experience to see an item in, say, the Land's End catalog and recognize that it would really work for me - even though i personally find the Land's End aesthetic deadly boring and unattractive.  Two, accessories carry a lot of weight in any look. In this one especially the boots and belt really bring my 'Amelia Earhart' factor into the equation. Seriously, a pair of grey flats with bows on the toes and a little silver rhinestone belt would blend perfectly well with the blouse and jeggings. But that look wouldn't really come across as 'me'. Adding accessories that encapsulate and/or reflect your personal style to any run-of-the-mill look can turn a ho-hum base into an authentic expression of your style.

Erin seems to have a real talent for picking out just the right pieces that she can use to project her style, from even the most mundane of retailers (Target, Walmart, and so on). However, i have noticed that she seems to dig deeper in order to find those special pieces that finesse her looks (a wolf claw or hummingbird skull necklace from an etsy vendor, for example). Seeing as you can wear a good pair of boots for ten years or more, and jewelry lasts decades, it's a prudent strategy. Not to mention you can wear a trademark pendant, say, every day without causing comment - it's a different story with jeans or a sweater.

The older i've become (always a scary way to hear a sentence begin, no?) the more important i've found these two factors to be in building a reliable wardrobe.  It's FANTASTIC when you waltz into some new store and everything fits and flatters and goes together in just your own personal dream fantasy style, and it's all on sale and never needs dry cleaning or ironing.  (Well, i'm guessing it would be fantastic, it's never happened to me so i can't truly say.)  But over here in the real world you gotta deal with the hand you're dealt. Weird colors are the only thing in stock, clothes don't fit, money gets tight, your feet can't take heels......even if you make your own clothes, you have to make them out of the limited fabrics which are available.

Building a stock of accessories that you can rely on to bring your own personality to your outfits and being able to spot clothes that will work for you in even the most unlikely of places - both of these strategies help immeasurably in getting through style tight spots.

Grey Sweater: Tweeds
Blouse: Target Merona
Jeggings: Target
Belt: ??
Necklace: gift
Boots: Bass Lamont


  1. I have not tried the jeggings, but your post makes me want to give them a try! There are so many bloggers who feature items from Target...that is one retailer who should be rejoicing over fashion/style blogs!!

  2. I get a lot of my "cake" at Target -- simple t-shirts and sweaters that make my fancier things wearable. Target and Old Navy. I think the key is not expecting those places to provide your statement items (accessories, but also clothing), although Target is certainly trying with their designer collections and Old Navy always seems to have a striking patterned cardigan when I need one.

  3. Stef--you are giving me courage. DH gave me jeggins for Christmas and I am expected to wear them, but I feel as self-conscious in them as I do in blue tights. I totally agree about having characteristic accessories that give a look your own personal "brand." A hummingbird skull! I read somewhere that people in the 19th century pressed these little birds between the pages of books. I can't imagine.

  4. There's that Tweeds cardi again - I love how versatile it is!

  5. I like your blouse and dark gray sweater! I don't usually buy clothes from target, but I got a fun hot pink/magenta-ish dress to wear to a friends wedding. I do enough damage there with everything else they sell.

    Jen Hemming and Hawing Again

  6. Hello Pam! (who landed a spot on The San Antonio Express News' City Brights Blog Page: hot diggety Pam!)

    yeah, for some reason i wear jeggings as pants and i NEVER thought i would - maybe it's the wash? they sure are comfortable on my legs! and Target definitely comes off a lot more fashionable on style blogs than anywhere else!!

    Hi Cynthia! that's a good point - knowing where to get what, and that's definitely how it worked with these jeggings. but i find it's worth my while to keep my eye out for more statement-y pieces in unexpected places, since my style is so particular and non-mainstream that there's no places i can rely on for that part of my wardrobe.

    i sure wasn't looking for a cotton voile print blouse at tar-zhay!

    Hi Terri! oh, go for it! you have great legs, nice and long, so you have plenty of room to 'play' with them. try 'em out at home first, and/or you can wear a tunic length top over them to start (they're generally pretty lightweight, so it's not bulky). or for a date nite with your Clint Eastwood look-a-like husband? ; )

    i'm a birder and outdoors-y lady, i've actually held a live hummer in my hands once (he'd gotten in the house when i was reading/thinking about the hummies on the nazca lines). they are indeed very tiny - you'd need a big book, but.....just rotten to kill them, though. much more fun to feed them so they get a little tame and they come close to take a look at you.

    Hello P! yeah, i didn't expect it to be so versatile, but i liked it so much and needed sweaters so i went for it. who knew?

    Hello Jen! that's a brilliant dress on you, great color and cut. '...enough damage....' oh boy, they do have many opportunities for spending, don't they!

    have a great one, steph

  7. Hi My muse!
    I actually find the clothing at Targei' to be high-end :) There stuff usually lasts forever and is pretty good quality as well!
    I love to find a piece, then makke it my own with accessories ( which you are a master at !)
    You also looked great yesterday as well!
    I too am on the prowl for a better , smaller hat for spring, though the thirft stores in Cincy are pretty much gone over by the time I get there!
    I am off in a few weeks to the country, maybe
    I'll find on at the antique mall ;)

  8. I love that I can run into Target to buy, oh say toilet paper and dog food and come out with a little something to jazz up an outfit. Its like finding a tiny gold nugget in a stream. You look great as always with a style that is totally unique, and thats why its so darn cool.

  9. Oh Reva, you are so kind (blush) hmm, that's no good that people are picking over the good stuff before you can get there.....although the antique mall sounds highly promising!! *fingers crossed*

    Hello NEChic! that's a great way of putting it - it IS kind of like a treasure hunt. and thank you!!

    have a great day! steph

  10. Thank you SO MUCH for the kind words. I love when you rock those jeggings, they look amazing on you! <3

  11. Wow, those are jeggings? I would never have guessed!

    I very much agree with what you've said. I love that I know my own style so well that I rarely have buyer's remorse. I can zero in on stuff that looks good at me pretty quickly - and obviously so can you! You look smokin' cute in this, Steph!

  12. Hi Erin! you do a great job with 'curating', i guess you could call it - i've learned a lot thru reading your blog!!! i hope your neck is doing better - take care!!

    Hi Sheila! yeah, i tried on a bunch and these looked a lot nicer than i thot - who knew? & i think you are one of the bloggers out there with a very nicely defined personal style - it's just fun to look at, and it really gives me a lot of inspiration to aspire towards that type of consistency myself. (kiss inigo for me!)

    have a great day! steph

  13. Hi everybody, here every person is sharing such experience, so it's fastidious to read this blog, and I used to go to see this webpage daily.

    Also visit my web page check this out