Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Get a Uniform! How to Bring Ease Back Into Dressing!

I was reading "Fashion Confessions of a Mommy" at, from a fellow mom blogger.  In her latest post she touched on planning your wardrobe, and it made me think of all the days I spent looking through my wardrobe trying to pull something together.  I remember all the times I was late to events, not even feeling that great about how I looked.  One day while watching one of those "You really can't dress" shows, I had an epiphany.  CJ - you need a Uniform!

So I got to getting.  First I pulled out my two favorite pairs of jeans.  Jeans that actually fit and looked good on me.  Mid-rise skinny jeans and jeans that fall straight from the thigh to a bootcut.  Dark-wash.  Always Dark wash, nothing screams mom jeans like acid wash, or lightwash 80s Billy Ray Cyrus style jeans.  So I started the search for similar styles to start my wardrobe.  Thank God I stumbled into Old Navy quite early in my process, because I HATE trying on jeans.

Right now I'm into "The Flirt" jeans from Old Navy.  They fit my shape well, and if you catch a great sell, they may only be 10 bucks. 

Then I hit Target for their scoop neck long sleeve tees.  I bought 6 of them in a variety of colors on sale for 7 bucks.  The Jean and Tees are the basis of my uniform, plus two button down shirts.  Here is where I get wild and crazy!  I buy jackets, all different types, I just make sure they fit me well.  Fit is everything women!  I have velvet jackets, denim motorcyle jackets, retro 50s and vintage jackets, and menswear inspired.  I shop second hand, so I pay on average $4.99 per jacket.  My new jackets never cost more than 15 bucks.  So I am talking about a cheap wardrobe. 

The key to not looking like a carbon copy of yourself is in the accessories.  Today, I actually went Chanel style with lots of silver 70s necklaces and a 50s style swing jacket.  It was fun and comfortable.  Tomorrow I might wear my brown velvet Guess jacket, Beatles long sleeve tee and a gold pashima!  Easy Peasy.

So if you are like me (disorganized), get a uniform!  Pick your favorite clothes that fit you the best, duplicate the fit and style - then go crazy with hats, scarves, jewelry and anything else that makes you - You.  They key is to love it all!  Even if your outfit is not perfect, you will still feel pretty good about yourself. 

Here I am in my Old Navy Flirt Jeans ($10), Target Tee ($7), Old Lady Silver Necklaces ($2), Denim Motorcycle Jacket ($12.99). I'm no Lady GA GA or Rihanna, and my jacket lapel is a little cock-eyed - but I looked pretty good for a day out with my girls.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Real Women Sizes are Coming!!

Ok - check out soon, because in a couple of days, I will finally have some sizes for REAL Women!  Listen, true vintage L and XL sizes are a little harder to find. One the sizing standards are WAAAY WAY different and second, back in the day women were strapped up and harnessed in their dresses to the hilt.  So keep checking back, because I am getting in some really great things!  Here are a couple to start...Check out the Genuine Marabou on the Marilyn Monroe inspired wrap dress.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My worst fashion disaster...what's yours!

It was the '70s, I was wearing THE trendy denim wrap skirt and my hand-me down earth shoes (remember those???). They were an orangey-brown and I had the nerve to be wearing pantyhose.

Back in the day there wasn't a whole lot going on in the pantyhose department for women of color, so I was wearing "tan".  Support hose would have looked more fashionable!
I thought I was lookin' good with my wrap skirt and plaid top with a monkey on the pocket.  I was all grown up in my pantyhose and brother's earth shoes.  My confidence was soaring.  I was struttin' along in the mall and felt all eyes on me.  "Solid." I thought to myself and picked up the pace with a switch in my hips.  When I hit the donut stand, I caught the eyes of a man who turned away from me a little too quickly.  He was red-faced and I couldn't tell if he was laughing or embarrased because he was checkin' out such a pretty young thing.  Right On! If Paris Hilton were around she would have said I was HOT!
Seconds later I felt a curious breeze on my legs. I looked down and was mortified to see that my wrap skirt had completely fallen off and was dragging on the floor behind me. Somehow the belt part was twisted in my pantyhose. I thought I would melt into the floor.  When I was getting dressed earlier, I had neglected to extend my fashion sense to include my underpants which were HUGE, bright white granny panties. What made it worst was that my big bubbly, above the navel briefs were stuck up under my panty-hose.  I was paralyzed with horror. I don't know how long I stood there before I hustled to scoop up my dress and re-wrap it.  I never wore that skirt again, in fact I have never worn a wrap skirt since! And it has been decades! 

Tell me one of your fashion disaster!

Earth Shoes - Check out Lisa's Nostalgic Cafe - Its a great site:
Also you can purchase the denim wrap skirt and others like it from

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Items at

Here are a couple of my new items at

This Dress and Coat Suit is fantastic.  I have been searching for one of these for sometime.  I can't fit it  - so here it is waiting for someone to give it a happy home.  Very Old Hollywood -   Love it!  Take a look.

Here is a really cute wiggle dress -  Soft green with deep knife pleats.  So visit me at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Build a Great but REALLY Cheap Wardrobe - Part II

In my last blog, I gave you the shopping rules that can help prevent utter wastes of money. And although this installment is a little late - Here is How to Build a Great but Really Cheap Wardrobe - Part II.

Let me first give you The Golden Rule of Shopping: DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE FOR ANYTHING! Your shopping goal should always be to get what you want for as cheaply as you can. You may have to cultivate a little patience and garner some shopping skill, but it can be done. Having said that let's get to it.

1. Shop the clearance rack first: Whether you are in Target, Nordstrom’s, or the Salvation Army, shop the sale rack or clearance first. Period. Walk past all the new stuff and head right to the back of the store. Your shopping Mantra should become "Get to the clearance...get to the clearance..."

2. Combine as many discounts and offers as possible: I bought this two piece dress and coat set from Macy's for $44.00 that was originally about $149.00. The dress (not shown) is a simple black sheath. The jacket is a well made Asian inspired brocade. First, it was already marked down, second they were having an early bird special, and third, I had a coupon. The perfect storm. Check your newspapers and sign-up online for coupons, then shop accordingly. Everything goes on sale; you just have to be patient.

3. Shop the Discount Stores: You can find the same department store styles and designers at discount chains like Ross, Marshalls, Filene's Basement and TJMaxx. These stores host the hot and trendy along with the basic and classic. The great thing is they offer them at all price points. However, even at the discount store, shop the clearance racks first. Where else can you find an Ann Taylor dress for $9.99?

4. Shop the "teen-agery" spots: OK, you may cringe if you are over 35. If you are like me, you walk by those windows with mannequins dressed in ripped up tights and platform shoes and say to yourself, "Hun??" But seriously, these shops have tons of hidden gems and are usually very inexpensive. Let me dispel a myth about quality, just because you buy something at a department store do not think you are getting better quality. Many times you are simply paying a higher price tag.  No matter where you shop, get the best quality you can.

My favorite is Forever 21 where they have a huge variety of styles, sizes and great prices. They also have fabulous clearance racks and most of the store is on sale. Last summer I bought this cotton floral cocktail dress for $19.99 to wear at a wedding reception. Not for everyone I know, but I had fun wearing it. The black dress I bought for $4.99 (including belt) at Rave sometime before and was actually better made than some of my more expensive dresses. I was almost 40 pounds heavier - but I still loved the way I looked. The message is you can shop these stores and still look like a grown woman, unless of course, you don't want to. 
5. Shop the Auctions and Online Sites: The best thing to ever happen to my shopping life was eBay. The best because I simply type into eBay's search engine what I want and watch the hundred of options come up. Until I became addicted. Buying too much at the wrong time is no deal! eBay takes skill, which I will cover in an upcoming blog. But once you understand the rules and best practices for a buyer, you can really get fabulous deals on expensive designer items. Two quick tips: Buy only from sellers with great feedback, detailed listings and photos.

My best find was an authentic $1500 Louis Vuitton Bag second-hand for $200. (which is the most money I have spent on clothes/accessories EVER!!!!) Remember - its all relative. Big ticket purchases are not for novices, but after you get the system down - you can find your dream items for a fraction of the cost. eBay is not the only on-line avenue for deals there is, and Even Goodwill has an auction site. If there is a specific designer or item of clothing you want, go to the auction sites first and do a search. Hundreds of options may pop up! Last online auction tip: Beware of high shipping costs. Your deal can be blown in an instant if you pay $30. 00 in shipping costs for a $10.00 item!

6. Frequent Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops: I must admit that at least 80% of my clothing is second hand. The first rule of second hand shopping is still - go to the clearance rack first! You may think the Salvation Army would not have a discount section, but they do. Many large thrift stores have customer appreciation and/or discount days. I only shop Mondays and Thursdays at my fav thrift store because I get 25% off!! Can you believe I actually have a VIP card? Thrift stores are the PERFECT place to stock up on your favorite designer and labels. Sometimes you can also score items normally may be out of your price range. Tip: Try to find secondhand shops in upscale neighborhoods, some of the donations are unbelievable. Remember, most thrift stores support great causes.

Consignment shops are great for people who do not like the thrift store environment. They are usually well organized, clean and have a knowledgeable sales staff. Consignment shops always have a sales rack that is usually stocked with designer and high-end labels. Be warned however, some are notoriously overpriced for non-designer items. I once saw a Target purse for over 20 bucks. Come on?!?!?  Really?  Other great second hand options are church thrift stores, school flea markets and estate sales.

Stores you wouldn't be caught dead in: Okay, all those stores you pass by in the strip malls, next to the beauty parlor or favorite Chinese place may have hidden bargains. These small independent shops always have sells going on and surprisingly some beautiful inexpensive clothing. These are also great places to find accessories and cheap costume jewelry.

In summary: Never pay full price for anything ever again! Shop those sale and clearance racks! Laugh in the face of 20% off and step away with something great on the cheap. It absolutely can be done. You can build a cheap beautiful quality wardrobe for little money. 

Next Blog - Do your clothes tell people who you are?  See ya then.


Monday, March 1, 2010

How to Build a Great but REALLY Cheap Wardrobe - Part I

Recently I read a magazine article titled something like, "Dressing for under 100 Dollars!" It took me a few mintues to realize the bargain was that each garment and accessory in the outfit was under $100.00. Added up, the spotlighted outfit cost more than my first car. Some bargain! 

So let me give you some REAL advice on how to build a really cheap wardrobe that is great and will last you longer than a season of "Gossip Girl."  

This will be a Two-parter.  First I wanted to present some "rules"  that will save you from wasting a whole lot of money on a whole lot of nothing.  Check back Wednesday for Part II which will be actual shopping tips.

1.  To your own size be true:  Let's cut to the chase.  Buy clothes that you can wear TODAY!  Not for when you lose those last 10 pounds, or the first 50 for that matter.  The biggest waste of money is to buy clothes that you can't wear.  Sounds crazy right? Well, it is! 

2. Buy what fits:  This may sound redundant, but its not. Fit is not about size or weight.  Determining the right "fit" of your clothes makes shopping easier and can save you gazillions of dollars in the long run.  Unerstanding the cut and fit that best suits you is key in making sure your body looks it best and that you are comfortable.  If you feel like Harry Houdini in a straight-jacket - then you probably won't wear it.  If wearing a long nubby sweater makes you look like a Lilliputin - you probably won't wear.  Fit is everything.

3. Bust those myths: The average american women is between a size 10 and 14.  The marketing industry has convinced us that we can't be happy or look good if we have a little more "meat on our bones" than the airbrushed size 0 cosmo girl.  Whatever!  Look at Queen Latifah and the plus size model Emme.  They have some "junk in their trunk" and still look healthy, happy and beautiful. You can express yourself and look and feel wonderful at any size.
Sidenote: Throw away those foolish oversized clothes you wear because you don't like your body... they are ugly. You are in fact creating the image you fear so much. 

4. Buy what works: There is a big difference between allowing "fashion" to inspire you and imitating some crazy fashion trend.  Buy what looks and works for you. Not everyone looks good in harem don't waste money buying buying a pair.  (no one looks good in Harem looks like a pouch for a big poop)

5. Create a Uniform: This sounds a little backwards for someone who stresses self-expression - but having a uniform, a set of basics that you can wear daily is great for your budget.    My uniform is simple.  Dark-washed jeans, long sleeve tees and a variety of  jackets and accessories.  It makes shopping easier and I still have a creative and original wardrobe.  (that's not me, that's Halle - but you get the idea.).

6. Discover who you are:  It is my philosophy that clothes should represent externally who you are internally. I mean it doesn't have to be that deep...its not rocket science as they say. Your clothes should be a reflection of who you are.  They should inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.  What they should not be is a costume hiding who you really are.  If your clothes do not "direct" people to the real you, and all they see is a costume or an image, your clothes aren't working for you.  Develop that inner vision of yourself and get going!

If you try some of these simple rules - it may take the anxiety of shopping and help save your money.  Tomorrow we will get into the actual shopping tip - the first being - NEVER PAY FULL PRICE!