When Life Hands You Lemons…

…turn them into a duster and wear them!

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So, this is a throwback to Memorial Day weekend. Somehow I’d forgotten I had these pictures or, more honestly, I didn’t like my hair that day, ha, so I kept skipping over them. Not quite so critical of my hair now that I don’t have any, ha ha.

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This story is certainly testament to the adage “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” Hair, health, loved ones – I’ll let this be a reminder to not take things or people for granted…and to appreciate and acknowledge the wonderful people in my life. I say this sitting next to an unopened box of thank you cards I’ve been meaning to write out since MARCH, acknowledging all the wonderful, caring and generous things people have done for me this year when I’ve been so…compromised. Ha. I don’t like to say I’m sick because I don’t feel SICK…but I have been compromised by the treatments. And people have been so helpful…or at least they’ve tried to be! I’m not good about accepting help. I always feel like *everyone* has problems/issues/weaknesses, etc., why should *I* get special treatment??

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But preparing for my move this week has really whooped my butt and fortunately I have some wonderful people helping me out so everything can get done. Because *I* am DONE. There’s very little juice left in this body right now and I have another chemo treatment later this week, so…THANK YOU to everyone who is helping me survive this move!!!

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Anyway, I got this dress from Gwynnie Bee, the Alice & You striped button down shirt dress, in a size 26. I don’t really know what I was thinking, but when I got it it was GINORMOUS. I still really liked the look of it, so instead of wearing a striped tent, I rolled the sleeves up, left it unbuttoned, and wore it as a duster over one of my favorite bases: black leggings and tee.

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So while it wasn’t *exactly* what I wanted, I was able to turn it into something I liked.

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And there were some beautiful irises blooming there that day that reminded me of my beautiful friend, Iris 🙂

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So…make some lemons work for you, one way or another…and don’t forget to appreciate the beauty in your life.

AND, a special treat – witnessing me in my utmost embarrassment…before I share the new apartment with you I thought I’d show you where I’ve been living for the past five years. Please Be Kind. It’s been a helluva year, cleaning has not been anywhere near the top of my list, and add “packing” to that and…oofah. The apartment is…well, you be the judge. Ha. The good news (for me!) is that viewing this a week after filming it, I can see how much progress I made in the past week (thank goodness! there was a night last week when I had a little meltdown because I was sure I was not going to be ready in time. But I will. Phew!).

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What Did I Buy?! Plus BKLYN

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Me, owner Alexis Krase and Marcy Cruz

It’s my last week of radiation – yay. It’s a good thing, too, cuz at this point I am beaten down. Life is pretty much work, treatment, home to lay down. But this past weekend I dragged myself up and out, picked up my buddy Marcy, and headed into Brooklyn to a new plus size boutique I’ve been seeing all over social media called Plus Bklyn.

Plus Bklyn is a funky little shop at 455 Graham Ave., Williamsburg, that caters to trendy ladies from size 14-26. Owner Alexis Krase and colleague Ivy were so charming and hospitable when we visited. We tried on bunches of fun things – there were dresses, tops, bathing suits, sunglasses, bags, jewelry and so much more!

So let’s play What Did I Buy?!

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Junarose, size 24
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Junarose, size 22
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Magical Unicorn dress, size 24

What do y’all think?

It’s so nice to have a new in-person plus-size shopping destination, I’ll definitely be back!

Wanted: A Plus Size Miracle

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This cardigan is one of my favorite purchases of the fall/winter. It’s soft and cozy and moozhy* and warm (love) without being overly thick and stiff and bulky (hate). I would love more like this. But here’s the thing – there are *very* few plus size options in the moozhy realm. Site after site, when you search on “sweaters,” there is a plethora of thin knits, mostly crew and v-neck, or cowl neck (a personal NON-favorite)…and they try and pass off jersey-type knits as “sweaters.” I am on the search for more textural knits, chunky knits. It’s like finding a needle in the haystack for this plus-size gal…whereas my straight size sisters have TONS of options. Maybe the designers think the plus size gals are fluffy ENOUGH, we don’t need fluffy sweaters ADDING to our “bulk”?? Ahem. It’s a hard cold world out there. This plus size girl wants all the comfy cozy FLUFFY she can get!

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Question: if the average woman’s size in the US is 16, then why are there SO many more sizes available UNDER size 16 and so FEW sizes available ABOVE 16?. If you search at, say, Nordstrom, which actually HAS a large plus size section (relatively speaking), on “sweater,” in the straight-size section you get 2000-ish results. If you search on sweater under plus sizes….184. Come on! And OF those whopping 184 plus size sweater options, how many are something other than a fine, thin knit?? VERY. FEW. Where’s the boucle? Where’s the chenille? Where are the super-soft chunky knits? Where are the big half-your-face covering turtlenecks? I’m not saying they don’t exist AT ALL, but there are very VERY few of them. I think there are two. And I own them both (funny not funny).

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And to complicate matters even further…I would like to start moving my grey cold weather palette towards blush, oatmeal, soft soft pink as we head (soon. right? soon?) towards milder weather. I see these colors EVERYWHERE online. In shops, on fashion bloggers, on Instagram. But guess what? That palette virtually Does Not Exist in plus sizes. WTF??? Is it too much to ask for a cozy soft textural blush knit cardigan? Is it? Apparently it is.

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Grr. You know what else is annoying (I’m on a roll now!)?? Going into a store that carries “straight and plus sizes,” and seeing rack after rack after rack after RACK of straight sizes…and I’m talking the LONG racks, like at TJ Maxx or Burlington or Nordstrom Rack or Macy’s Backstage…and seeing two racks – two SHORT racks for plus sizes. IF PLUS SIZE WOMEN MAKE UP HALF THE FEMALE CLOTHES-WEARING POPULATION, WHY DO WE ONLY HAVE LIKE 10% (this is an estimated “eyeballed” estimate) OF THE CLOTHING OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO US??? How does that make sense??

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Sigh. I just want a pretty sweater. I’m not talking a giant miracle here. Or maybe I am. I’d like a plus-sized miracle, please.

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So  if you have been challenged by this same thing, there are some things you can do. When I get those little pop-ups on online shopping sites that say “how’d we do?” or “how was your shopping experience?” I take the time to respond. I say, “Gosh, you have so many great items! I really want to buy Item X but I don’t see it in a Size 24. Where do you keep the sizes for ALL the ladies??” Now I know perfectly well they don’t CARRY size 24 (or 20, 18, 16, 14 and maybe even 12…and CERTAINLY not size 26, 28 or 30), but I’m trying to make the point that MY MONEY IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS THE SIZE 0-10 GIRLS, WHY DON’T YOU WANT IT?

I’ve also been thinking about getting together a letter-writing campaign to straight size brands saying essentially the above “we want your nice things, we want to give you our money, please make this possible.”

Blogger Sara Chiwaya at Curvily started a hashtag campaign a few years ago called #PlusSizePlease…in which if you see a straight size item you wish was in a plus size, you take a pic and put it on social media with the brand’s name and hashtag #PlusSizePlease. Read more about it here . I don’t know how active this is any more but it could (and SHOULD!) be resurrected.

Vent over.

*moozhy: my word for soft, cozy, warm, textural, maybe a little puffy

What I’m Wearing:

Mixing It Up. Again.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know about The Invisible Dress, because I have mentioned it 12,483 times…and have worn it almost as much. It’s just a simple black sleeveless swing dress I got from ASOS Curve last spring and I’ve dressed it up and dressed it down, worn it alone and with other pieces over it. If you’re not familiar with The Dress, you can see it here and here .

Well it occurred to me recently that not only can I put things OVER it, I can also put things UNDER it…and wear it like a proper jumper (not an English “jumper,” which is really a sweater).

So that’s what I did here. I actually had done a little video with the two outfits, but I, in my vast experience, managed to accidentally delete one clip and that was the better one, so…I need more practice.

Enough talking, here are the looks:

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I paired it here with a lightweight polka-dot blouse, sleeves rolled up, collar buttoned up. I would wear this to work or to a professional meeting away from the office.

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I like the juxtaposition of the faux-leather moto “bad a**” (ha ha) jacket over the more, literally, buttoned-up conservative outfit underneath.

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Side note: it’s so funny, when I look in the mirror I feel like I have SO much make-up on…but when I see the pictures later I’m like, do I have ANY make-up on?? Need to work on that.

The second look is more casual. I would wear this to work but also to meet friends after work for coffee or dinner.

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Side Note: I do not own a full-length mirror…and sometimes shoe choices look alright in my mind’s eye or in the bird’s eye view I have of them from above…but if I see myself in a mirror somewhere else later or in a picture…I am horrified. Like right now. In the video clip I talked about how I would really pair this look with a pair of white sneakers but one of my white sneakers has been missing for months (think it’s with the black duster??) so these seemed casual and appropriate. In my head. They. Are. Not. Please pretend I am wearing almost anything else on my feet here.

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Okay, so this blue Tencel chambray blouse dresses this look down a bit I think, to a more casual level. In the video I rolled up the sleeves and it looked better but you’re not seeing that here.

If I was going out I might put a denim jacket over this or an olive green utility jacket, to keep with the low-key vibe.

So I now have like 3 dozen different ways to wear this one dress, ha. Do you have one item that you accessorize a gazillion different ways? Can you think of a piece of clothing you have in your wardrobe that you always wear a certain way…that you could maybe do something completely different with? You’d be surprised.

I apologize for all the technical difficulties. Between the video attempts and the fact that my computer has been dying a rapid death for the past weeks and I’ve been working on an ancient laptop without full *anything* capability, I’ve been a little out of blogging sorts. I hope to only get better from here 🙂

What I’m Wearing:

  • ASOS Curve Sleeveless Swing Dress, size 22. Sold out, similar here (this actually looks like the identical dress to me)
  • Who What Wear polkadot blouse via Target, size 22. Sold out, similar here
  • Blue Tencel blouse from Charlotte Russe, size 24. Sold out, similar here

Gwynnie Bee Try-on Haul

So…before I get into the trying on, I wanted to share with you one of my goals for the blog for 2017 – VIDEO. Not instead of the written blog, but in addition to it. I think it’s nice to feel like you’re sort of having a conversation with a person (albeit one-sided) and video can help things feel more like that. Also, it’s helpful to be able to see the movement in clothes – how does the fabric fall and drape, what happens to the dress when you move or sit…all shown better in a video than a still photograph.

My defined goal was to have a YouTube channel up and running with some decent production quality vlogs…by July. But it’s all harder than it seems (!!!) so guess who gets to be my test audience? YOU! Ha. I don’t know if I should say “You’re Welcome” or “I’m Sorry,” but I’ll be sharing short videos here as I practice this new skill. Please share any thoughts or critiques. I know in the beginning these will be pretty rough – I don’t really have proper videoing equipment or lighting or anything, I’m just using what I have for now til I see if this is something I even really like doing.

So. That brings us to today’s post. I hadn’t really meant to share anything so soon, but…I video’d two Gwynnie Bee items that arrived this week for a Gwynnie Bee Facebook group I’m in (we like to share our “try-on’s” with one another so other people can tell if the item is something they’d like to put in their online closet), so I wasn’t thinking of things like, oh, sweeping up the dog hair off the floor, or maybe brushing my hair or putting away all the mess in the line of the camera. But I just had a little fun with it and then thought, you know what? I could use this on the blog with the caveat LOW EXPECTATIONS = SMALL DISAPPOINTMENTS, ha. It’s really a mess. But that’s why this blog is called Fashion SCHLUB and NOT I’m A Pretty Pretty Princess.

So here you go. Note: I don’t always hate *everything,* ha. And pardon my voice, I’ve been on and off sick since Thanksgiving.

SCARY.

Your Mama Ain’t Always Right

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I. Love. This. Dress. I love it almost as much as the invisible black dress I’ve worn 12,657,921 times since I bought it from ASOS last March. Guess where I bought this dress from? ASOS! ASOS Curve, to be exact. They have such a great selection of plus size clothing. I was asked the other day what plus size brands are my favorite, and I have to say if I had to purchase from only one brand forevermore…it would be ASOS (this is not a sponsored post! I just love them that much).

It looks kinda like a sack, you say? HELL YEAH IT DOES!!! That’s exactly what I love about it. It just skims away from my body, there’s nothing to shift or tug or adjust. It’s like wearing your nightgown out in public. And we all know that’s my Fashion Holy Grail 🙂

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In spite of it being sack-like, I think it falls nicely in the category of “minimal.” It has very simple, clean lines…the only detail being the ribbing on the body (the sleeves are smooth), which seems a little spage-agey to me. It reminds me of the Robot’s arms&legs from Lost in Space.

My mother used to say you couldn’t mix black and navy. I happen to think black and navy is very chic. Mama ain’t always right.

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What did I tell you?? There’s always one…

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We shot this in the West End of Long Beach, a charming beachy community. It turns out there’s a story behind this be-flagged box in the street. A resident of the street turned the car-blocking (it’s a narrow one-way street) planter into a memorial when he discovered that a neighbor’s daughter was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He painted the planter, added the flag pole and flags and put a protected September 11 remembrance flag on the base. He regularly updates the memorial with plants or flowers and decorations appropriate to season or holiday.

My friend Marcy of Fearlessly Just Me took these photos. We’ve been taking turns photographing one another for our respective blogs.

What fashion advice do *you* ignore?

What I Wore:

  • Asos Curve Ripple Stitch navy knit dress, size 26
  • Black faux leather moto jacket by Bongo, via Sears, 3x
  • Black footless fleece-lined tights from Maurice’s, 3x
  • Faux black leather booties from Avenue

 

Winter Cardigan Style Guide

I love cardigans. I love wearing things over other things. I like adding a “topper” of some sort to the base outfit. In the cold weather: cardigans, blazers, light jackets. In the summer, kimonos, lightweight dusters, oversized blouses.

But for today, I thought I’d share some style tips I’ve learned (or made up!) about wearing cardigans.

One of the easiest cold weather outfits is pants and a light sweater or knit top. To me, that feels a little unfinished, so I like to put a cardigan over top.

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Charlotte Russe blanket cardigan 3x, Old Navy Rockstar jeans 22, silk-trimmed long-sleeved tea from Avenue 26/28, Avenue booties

With pants I always like a cardi (or blazer, kimono, etc) that’s at least a little longer than what you’re wearing underneath.

I also prefer when the top layer is darker than the underneath layer. This might just be me, but to me colors have weight. Dark colors carry more visual weight than lighter colors, and wearing the lighter over the darker just always feels “off” to me. In this case they’re kind of close, they’re both grey, but the long sleeved tee base top is a lighter grey than the cardigan over top.

Here’s an example of the opposite…and it’s not TERRIBLE (fortunately my closet is not full of too many “don’ts”!). Lighter over darker. I’d have to really be down to just a few things in my closet to opt to wear these pieces together.

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Another favorite outfit of mine is a cardigan over a dress. In this case, I like the two to be almost exactly the same length. This can be more difficult to arrange unless you’re buying both pieces at the same time, so it’s especially nice when it works out like it does here.

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Michael Kors blue cardigan 3x, Alice & You swing dress 22/24

I didn’t have a good example to show from my winter closet, but I really only like shorter or cropped cardigans over a dress with a defined waist. With a loose trapeze or swing dress like the one shown here, I opt for an equally long, loose and swingy overpiece. I feel like when the bottom hem lengths of the two pieces are too disparate that it can cut the body horizontally too many times – and most bodies don’t benefit from horizontal chopping. Does that make sense?

Here’s an example of wearing a top that is shorter than the bottom piece. Again, imagine the bottom piece as even longer, like a tunic – I had to work with what I currently have!

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Mustard yellow cardigan old, 3x; Avenue cream silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28; Charlotte Russe Refuge jeans 24 short

Who wants multiple horizontal lines cutting across their butt?? Not this girl!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really enjoying the athleisure trend. In the past, I would have only thought of a sweatshirt or zipfront jacket over leggings but now there are darling hoodie cardigans to wear. My “rule” in this case, is to be sure that either the under or over piece covers your butt when you’re wearing leggings. That said, if you’re tall and slim this rule does not apply 🙂 But for us mere mortals it’s nice to have some guidelines.

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All items (except Adidas sneakers) from Avenue: grey waffle-knit hoodie 22/24; cream silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28; navy cropped pima cotton leggings 22

Another type of cardigan is the oversized wrap. My little rule with this is: baggy on top, snug on bottom. If you’re wearing an oversized piece on top, then wear skinny jeans or leggings or slim tailored pants or a pencil skirt on the bottom. Below I’m showing another “don’t.” These jeans are just too baggy and wrinkled at the knees to look their best with this oversized cardigan. My black skinny jeans would be a much better choice.

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BB Dakota blanket cardigan via Gwynnie Bee 3x; cream Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans 24; Avenue grey silk-trimmed long-sleeved tee 26/28

It’s important when putting outfits together to not just think of what colors go together, but what scales work together, and what the lines of the clothing are doing to your body.

All that said, WHO THE HECK AM I? Ha! Anyone who knows me knows that “Bettye Breaks the Rules,” so read what I’ve written and then put your own spin on it. These are just things I’ve learned that work for me, that when I can, I apply to my wardrobe. But you do you 🙂

I like to really analyze outfits I see that I like…and try and understand WHY I like that one, and not another one. It’s more complex than just “ooh, that baby pink looks so pretty with camel.” Color can be the most obvious characteristic of an outfit but I wouldn’t say it’s the most important. Scale, balance, ratio, fabrics, line, style: all extremely important. And ha, this is “do as I say not as I do!” With this body I often have to take what I can get – based on what fits, so even *I* am not able to follow all my guidelines all the time. But I’m always mindful of them. And I hope after reading this you will be too.

Stepping Outside the Box

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I am normally a pretty basic dresser. Solids, neutrals, limited palette, that’s my usual wardrobe. And then THIS happened. This floral tunic by American Rag that I’ve rented from Gwynnie Bee. I feel so HAPPY in it! I felt a little like a Matryoshka – those brightly painted Russian wooden nesting dolls. In a good way!

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Sometimes you just have to take a little walk on the wild side, try something new, step outside your box. It’s so interesting to me how *difficult* that can be with something as seemingly insignificant as clothing. Yet sometimes wearing something DIFFERENT…in PUBLIC…can be The Most Terrifying Thing.

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But it’s a good thing to slip a little strange into your normal routine, know what I mean? Don’t dress and live The Same Exact Way day after day after day. There are just so many days. Explore, adventure, spread your friendship wings, wear a brightly colored blouse.

LIVE.

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What I’m Wearing:

Do you think you might like to try Gwynnie Bee? It’s a clothing rental service for sizes 10-32. And the first month is FREE! If you want to give it a try (and you know you want to), just click the banner ad below. I’ve been a member for almost 2 years and it has helped me on the road to finding my fashion style because I can try so many different things without filling up my closet or emptying out my bank account!

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If you do join through this affiliate link, I will get a small commission (thank you!). But I wouldn’t recommend the company if I didn’t REALLY love them (and I do).

My new friend Marcy of Fearlessly Just Me was my photographer once again – thanks, Marcy!

One Dress: Three Outfits

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a) HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Okay, so, one of my requirements for new items to be added to my wardrobe is that they must be versatile. I ask myself if an item I’m coveting can be worn three different ways. If not…it has to REALLY have something else going for it. I especially like pieces that can be dressed up *and* down just by switching out accessories.

This is one of those items. I got this dress from JC Penney’s Boutique+ plus size line. I love the fabric and fit, it floats across my body barely touching it and has a lot of swing and movement when I walk. And it’s simple without being boring – the lace-up detail at the neck gives it a little sumpn-sumpn. And it dresses up and down very nicely. I’ve styled it here for a date look, out for a drink with friends, and a comfortable work look.

For the date look, I’ve worn it with over the knee boots and a slightly sparkly cardigan…some swingy earrings and a little arm bling.

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I would wear the next look out in the evening for cocktails with friends (anyone wanna go out for cocktails?), with my faux leather moto jacket, black booties…and dangly brushed silver earrings that I forgot to photograph. Bad blogger. Bad!

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And lastly, a comfortable work or afternoon at the coffee shop outfit. A cozy longline cardigan, low-heeled booties and this darling ring my daughter got for me.

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I’d like to thank my new blogger friend Marcy of Fearlessly Just Me who took these photographs – she did a really good job, don’t you think?

What I’m Wearing:

  • Wine swing dress, 3x, JC Penney Boutique+
  • Black sequin cardigan, 3x, TJ Maxx (old), similar here and here
  • Black boots, Avenue (old), similar here
  • Black Bongo faux leather moto jacket (old), similar here
  • Black faux leather Myla booties, Avenue
  • Taupe longline duster cardigan, INC from Macy*s (old)

Simple Formula for Umpteen Outfits!

How many is umpteen? A LOT!

Like my favorite summer dress (seen here), an “invisible uniform” is a wonderful thing to have. Over the summer it was a simple black dress. Now in the fall it’s black leggings and a black tunic top. That’s the base. It’s comfy, it’s easy…and it’s invisible. It’s so…unremarkable…that people really won’t notice if you wear it again and again. It’s what you wear *with it* that makes it an outfit.

In this case, for fall, I’m layering several lightweight pieces over the base.

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A lightweight chambray tunic from Avenue creates one look…

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An army green rayon waterfall vest from Target creates another.

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And lastly, a faux suede fringed Cuprio vest over a chambray blouse from Target makes up a third look. I would also wear the vest alone over the leggings and tunics but I was trying to see how many looks I could create from my closet.

The only “rule” I give this, is the “over” piece should be at least as long as, if not longer than, the tunic.

As the weather gets colder I can switch out the thin leggings and flats for black skinny jeans and booties or knee-high boots and cozy long cardigans. I’d love a plush, deep wine longline cardi over the black base.

And a more casual “base” can be as simple as jeans and a white tee. The same “invisible” rule applies. You can put so many things on top of those two pieces to make completely different outfits – a colorful kimono, a blazer, bomber jacket, cardigan, etc.

This is just an easy way to make many outfits out of just a few items.

Forgive the ucky photo setting. I’ve lost my “after work daylight hours” with the time change and will need to resort to indoor selfies from time to time.

Do you have a “uniform” you change out with different items? I’d love to hear about it…