Advice In Style: Shopping The Men’s Section

In fashion, women’s clothing often seems to take cues from men’s stuff.  Like “boyfriend jeans” or “boyfriend tees” (they really really want us to steal stuff from our boyfriends don’t they??) it seems like the idea of menswear influence never goes out of style.  Like when Diane Keaton wore a white suit to the Oscars so many years ago, it’s just always classy.  So…what does that mean?  Like, does it work to actually buy men’s clothes?  I think everyone has their own answer to that question, but I’m going to answer the way that I tend to shop the men’s section.  The answer is…yes AND no!

I am the kind of shopper that tends to keep an open mind and doesn’t care much for what section clothing has been classified as.  I will shop the pajama section, the costume section, the kid’s section and the men’s section ALL for clothing I will wear out and about.  I also tend to look in ALL sizes, because not only is sizing majorly inconsistent even within brands, but also things often get put in the wrong size category on accident.  Who cares about labels or numbers right?  Well, I guess scientists and mathematicians, but we all know I fall into neither of those categories, so I’m allowed to not care 🙂

So here you go…my tips on Shopping The Men’s Section:

1. Shirts, shirts, and more shirts.  The men’s section of most stores often has the best graphic tees, hands down.  This is true of Urban Outfitters, Target, thrift stores, and basically anyplace that carries tees.  Here’s the rub.  They won’t always FIT great, so you must try them on, and be prepared to modify if necessary.  I have made awesome muscle tees out of men’s tees, because they tend to be nice and long, and often the sleeves are the most problematic area for fitting and flattering a woman’s body.  I have cut off the neckline, stretched out the neckline, and cut holes to add distressing…really it’s up to you what you want to do.  The great thing about them, is they tend to be larger than women’s tees, so you get a great oversized look or can knot them at the waist with extra room to spare!
2. Levi’s & Wranglers. If you’re tall and not super duper skinny like me, Levi’s and Wrangler’s are a great find from the men’s section.  If you’re looking for mom jeans and you’re in the 28-30plus range of waist sizes, this can be your jackpot!
3. Shoes.  Vintage shoes run small, and if you’re thrifting with larger feet, men’s shoes can be a total score.  Vintage cowboy boots, loafers, and oxfords can be a good find in antique and thrift stores from the men’s section.
4. Button Down Shirts.  I have seen people do some pretty amazingly creative stuff with men’s button downs!  You can turn them into strapless tops by tossing the arms behind you and tying them around your waist…you can unbutton the whole thing and criss-cross wrap it on you like a wrap dress…basically you can really repurpose a great men’s button down, as long as you like the fit of the sleeves.  I love a good small vintage men’s button down or flannel, because it gives me the option of knotting it in the front or wearing it open like a jacket!

This button down caught my attention RIGHT away.  The print is so retro and I just knew I loved it enough to figure out what to do with it!  I loved the thought of using this with some bell bottoms and really going with the vibe of the print.  Even though the sleeves on men’s shirts can be a bit big like these sleeves, but in this case, the fabric allows them to drape kind of like a little bell sleeve (I ALWAYS unbutton the wrist buttons on any shirt first thing when I put it on) which makes it okay that they’re large-ish.

Hopefully these ideas will encourage you to at least give the men’s section a tiny peek next time you’re out shopping…you never know what you’re going to find!!

Happy hunting!
Katy

Advice in Style: How To Dress Like A “Have”

First of all I want to clear something up.  I don’t like the whole idea of the “haves” and the “have nots”…this post is most definitely not meant to reinforce this concept!  But, if you keep reading, hopefully you’ll get my point (and have some fun too!).

I wrote an article a little while ago about how Vogue attacked fashion bloggers and attempted to minimize their value using some choice words that seemed a bit more like something you’d say to a close friend instead of making them public to the world.  If you want to get my whole take on what they said, please read the post!  This whole thing got me thinking about the fashion industry as a whole.  So, I love fashion.  Obviously.  I want to go to fashion week, see the famous runway shows, and own some couture of my own.  I love it.  However (you can see the big “but” right?) there are some things about the fashion industry that aren’t so nice.  Fashion has always been an indicator, and sometimes dictator of classes.  I mean, it used to be actually illegal for people of certain classes and incomes to wear some styles of clothing.  That way, you could look at a person and determine how much money they make!  Can you believe this?  I mean, talk about a horrible and judgmental world to live in where you could be thrown in jail for wearing a dress that didn’t fit your wallet size.  Yuck.  Maybe things have changed and progressed quite a bit since then.  But we are still not immune from this whole “judge a book by it’s cover” thing.  I think we can often still size someone up based on their outfit pretty darn easily.  But now, since it’s legal to wear anything really, we can pull the wool over people’s eyes much easier!

Years ago there was this old hippie guy who worked at my local Trader Joe’s.  He was super opinionated, kind of funny, and liked to kind of talk at you and spout out his political thoughts and whatever was on his mind while he was ringing up your groceries.  I rather enjoyed it.  I would just listen, nod my head, and bag up my own groceries while he told me all the problems with the world and all that jazz.  After a couple months of this, he stopped talking and asked me a question!  He asked me: “so what do you do?”  I answered him (I was a full time worship pastor at the time at my church) and when I gave my answer, he literally did a double take.  He looked so surprised.  “What?” he said, shocked at my answer “oh wow…I thought you were like one of those super rich San Luis girls who…” (his answer trailed off into a lot of things I don’t remember, but were most definitely not things that describe me.  He then proceeded to tell me that because of my clothing, how I looked when I came into the store, he had made these determinations about me.  Yep.  He thought I was a “have”.  I remember what I was wearing that day.  I wear wearing a Juicy Couture dress I had got second hand and a furry pair of slippers from Target that people would literally stop their cars, roll down their windows, and ask me where I had gotten my “boots”.  I think you can tell where this whole thing is going!

It’s not the point I’m making, but hey, let’s attempt to stop sizing each other up by our clothes, ok?  I do it all the time, and I am working on NOT doing that.  I’ve been falsely judged because of what I wear lots of times.  The point I’m really making, is that we never should feel “less than” or shut out of the fashion industry just because we aren’t a mega celebrity with deep pockets and a trust fund.  You can look like a “have” (and BE a “have” just because, hey, you’ve got what matters right??) without spending a lot of dough.  Here are some tips for ya, in case you need them 🙂

Second hand stores and thrift stores are always, always worth a look.  I know many of you already know this, but I cannot even tell you some of the stuff I’ve seen at thrift stores for just a few dollars.  I mean, just because something was expensive or designer, doesn’t mean that whoever is selling it there knows that.  You will often see stuff worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars sitting right next to stuff from Old Navy.
Get out of town.  There’s something about going places you don’t normally go to shop that makes you find great stuff.  Don’t be afraid to drive to neighboring towns or go to the “rich” areas to check their thrift stores.  It’s like trick-or- treating in the neighborhoods who give out king size candy bars instead of just staying close by and getting a zillion “fun size” ones.  Fun size, my ass.
Stay off the beaten path. When you’re in a store like Target, steer clear of the women’s section.  This sounds super not intuitive, which is why it works.  If I were to put together a complete outfit from a store like Target (and trust me, I go there enough to know what I’m talking about) and I wanted it to look expensive, here’s what I would do.  Shoes: slipper section (especially around fall…you never KNOW what furry boot-like treasures await you), Top: boys section (graphic tee), men’s undershirt, or women’s pajama section for a button down pj top, Jacket: men’s or boy’s section for a blazer, Jeans: women’s section, but take a pair of scissors and a razor and modify them, Accessories: little girl’s section.  Do you catch my drift?  Part of why this works is that if you have a Target in your town, every woman wears stuff from the women’s section.  Therefore, if you shop around the women’s section, no one will know that what you have on came from Target.  Plus, I’m gonna say this again.  Those furry slippers got me more compliments than almost anything I think I have ever bought.  And they were like $10.
Be true to yourself.  Don’t buy or wear stuff that you don’t love just because it’s a designer name.  This will never get you anywhere in feeling great about yourself because you won’t feel great in your clothes.  Confidence in one’s outfit goes a long way to conveying that you love what you are wearing and who you are.  So if you don’t love it, don’t wear it no matter what the original price tag is.  Plus, sometimes you’ll find stuff that was expensive originally marked down at second hand stores simply because…it’s ugly.  Designers have “misses” too and often those are the things that people buy, regret, then get rid of.  Make sure that it’s a good find and not just a “used to be expensive” find.

And here it is.  Proof that I don’t iron my outfits when I probably should.  (I hate ironing!)  I love this outfit.  My top is a thrifted silk pajama shirt, jeans are old Levi’s I distressed myself, and my shoes cost $5 at H&M.  You could easily find an outfit like this in a magazine for about 32 times what I actually paid for this.  Looks can be deceiving, you guys 🙂

I don’t care what you have, you are a “have”.  Remember that.  No more keeping up with the Joneses, keeping up with myself is work enough!

Happy Monday
Katy

On Shopping and Homework

Since it’s a holiday three-day weekend, I thought a fitting subject would be “how to do your homework before buying an item.”

Wait just one tiny minute.  You mean that there’s HOMEWORK involved for shopping?  Here’s the easy answer.  If you want to save money, HECK YES there’s homework to be done!  Yesterday, I was doing a little online shopping, and I realized that I have a total process in which I make shopping decisions.  I didn’t even realize I was doing this until then.  I thought since today’s a holiday, why not have a little homework to do right?  I mean, it’s a day when lots of stuff is on SALE so shopping is definitely happening, so let’s talk about how to do your “due diligence” before you commit to buy!

Now for sure, there are a couple of things to consider when you’re shopping.  One of them is this: is the item you’re looking for very specific…like maybe you found it online or you saw it in a store and you know exactly what brand it is…if this is the case, there’s still homework to be done, but it might change the end result.  There have been times that I’ve done all my homework, and not saved a dime because it turns out I really just had found the best deal to begin with!  But more often than not, if I don’t do my homework before buying, I end up overpaying.  Plain and simple.  You want to get an A+ on your shopping skills?  Yeah me too!

Here’s my usual disclaimer…this is just MY process, you may have your own AND you may have some hot tips I don’t know about, so PLEASE share with me if you do!  I’m always looking for extra credit! 🙂

HOW TO DO YOUR SHOPPING HOMEWORK:

  1. Google the item you want.  This may seem simple, but how many times have I happened upon something I want, and not taken the two seconds it takes to just google it before buying it from the first place I found it??  OR maybe you are looking for a Free People dress and you just go straight to the Free People site without checking other retailers.  Here’s something I’ve found.  Often, places you don’t even suspect may carry a brand or an item that you want.  Once I desperately wanted a Novella Royale jumpsuit and I googled it, only to find it had gone on sale half price on freepeople.com.  Boy I was glad I googled it!  When you find what you’re looking for, google the exact name of the item, and who knows? You may even get lucky and find it listed on hautelook.com or gilt.com!  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  It kind of surprises me how simple this is, and yet how few people actually do it.  I have purchased things for a fraction of the normal price that it’s listed for AT THE SAME TIME as it’s listed for more…simply because I googled it.  This is also SUPER helpful if the thing you want is sold out in your size.  Sites like swell.com, revolve.com, shopbop.com, zappos.com, lordandtaylor.com, asos.com, as well as all the standards like Nordstrom and Macy’s, ALL carry a variety of brands and sometimes they will have a sale specific to their store that applies to that item!  Did you know that Minnetonka is also carried by American Eagle Outfitters and Urban Outfitters?  Yep.  Google will be your best friend!
  2. Do a search for the item…in different ways.  Sometimes things go by different names.  There’s really nothing new under the sun, we just often call things by different terms than they did in say, the 1960s.  I’ve often run into people who were teenagers during the original time a clothing item was popular and they always say: “in MY day, we called those dungarees” or something like that.  So, say you’re looking for a kimono.  Search for “kimono” of course, but don’t forget to use the term “robe” because often they are synonyms for each other.  This is VERY useful if you are looking at vintage items because people from different generations will call things by different names, so depending on the person selling it, you may need to use different key words.
  3. Check other sites for knock offs or similar items.  I have a few places that are my “go-tos” for this.  I’ve learned that as much as I love Free People, not all of their stuff is unique.  Not only do people knock them off very quickly, but some of their stock is not really unique to their store.  So, I check a few places first.  I check second hand retailers like thredup.com and poshmark.com…this is a great way to find what you are looking for, for less…and sometimes it’s even new with the tags!  I always check zara.com too, because yes, they can be just as expensive, but they often have similar items or sometimes things I like more for less money.  vicicollection.com has had items IDENTICAL to Free People for under $20!  I do a quick scan of their site to check.
  4. Search for a coupon code.  This actually works a lot of the time.  When I find something I’m looking for, I do a quick search for the name of the retailer and “coupon code” and I’ve gotten codes that save me money.  If it’s a smaller retailer or seller, check their instagram or Facebook feed for sales.  Get on their email list to save off your first order AND to get deals.  Once I was ordering something from England and was just about to click the magic “place order” button…when I thought I’d better check my email first.  I did, and since I had subscribed to her emails, I saw that she had sent out a code for free international shipping.  Yep, I just saved myself like $30 just by checking my email first.
  5. Look for the item that inspired the piece you want.  This is kind of interesting to do.  Sometimes I will be obsessed with something…and then I actually find a vintage piece that is virtually identical to what I want.  Um, I’d rather have the original thanks!  Sometimes it’s expensive yes.  But SOMETIMES it’s a fraction of the price.  Here’s a great example.  I bought this dress from Spell Byron Bay that is gorgeous.  I literally had not seen many things like it, so I went for it, shelled out the big bucks, and of course it’s beautiful.  Then I went down to Venice Beach and walked into a vintage store and they had four dresses on the wall that were virtually identical to my dress.  The owner of the store informed me that the Spell girls had just been in their shop to get inspiration!  The dresses were the same price as the Spell one I purchased.  Do you get my drift?  This is the reason I chose this kimono for today’s post.  I have been in LOVE with a Spell kimono that is quite similar to this one, but haven’t been ready to shell out the money for it.  I was on poshmark.com a week ago, and I could not click BUY fast enough when I saw this.  It is almost the same thing, at 1/4 of the price.  And it’s vintage, so it’s the original!  Yep.  Homework pays off you guys.

Okay so this kimono.  I’m freaking in LOVE.  And again, having a little patience and persistence really saved me some money in the long run!  These necklaces are BOTH handmade by amazing women, please support them if you need some new jewelry in your life that really wows people!  The choker is from Desert Mermaid on Etsy (it comes in white too and it is really the most comfortable choker I have ever worn) and the leather fringe one is a BRAND NEW creation by my DEAR friend Jessica of Hillbillygypsy Boots.  She’s selling them on Poshmark too!  The boots are Sam Edelman (they’re like almost completely sold out, so if you want them, I’d shop NOW for them), and even though I own so many fringe boots, boy am I glad I bought these babies.

Argh.  It is most definitely a Monday.  Will someone please tell my kids it’s a holiday?!?
Katy