Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Winter Go-To Look

December is here with all it's hustling and bustling.  Is it just me or are stores putting out Christmas decorations earlier and earlier each year?  I wanted to link up my go-to winter look with The Lovely Lookbook hosted by Caitlin and Sarah, but I was sick this week and never got around to it.  Oh well.  Now that I'm feeling better, here's my take:

Jeans: Plato's Closet/Black long sleeve tee: Old Navy/Ankle boots: Old Navy/Hat: Roxy via PacSun/ Leopard scarf: Walmart/Black poncho: Charlotte Russe really old, like 10 years old. 

So ye-ah, growing up in Hawaii...we never had winter.  The coldest it would get was maybe 75 on a dreary day. I never knew what winter really was until I moved to Arkansas.  And even then, we don't really have snowy winters like those of you who live in the northern parts of the country.  Yeesh, I cannot even imagine.

I have to admit, when I moved here I did not know how to dress for winter at all.  I dressed entirely for warmth, not for style.  I remember one of my first winters here, walking across the school parking lot in my sister's snowboarding jacket from her college days at the University of Virginia, wearing a beanie I bought on clearance, long underwear under my frumpy pants and sweater, and frumpy shoes with thick sweater socks.  I walked past one of the native Arkansan teachers who always dressed super cute in her tailored wool coat, stylish skirt with tights and boots.  "How can she stand the cold?" I asked myself.  What I failed to realize was that I was not going to be walking around in the cold all day.  Duh!  It's all about layers!  Cute layers, too!  I really should have paid more attention to that one Cosby Show episode when Dr. Huxtable dresses little Rudy in all her layers.

It was really only last year that I started putting more effort into my winter outfits. Pinterest and style blogs have really helped me up my game when it comes to dressing for winter.  Other than layers, here are a few of my favorite winter pieces:

1.  Boots - When I moved here I only had one pair of tall brown boots that I bought on clearance in California.  Now I own several pairs in black, taupe, and cognac.

2.  Fleece-lined tights - Audrey from Putting Me Together mentioned these and I was sold.  The ones in the ladies section were a little too long for my 5'0" frame, so I tried the girls size and they fit perfect!

3.  Stylish coat - There have been a plethora of blog posts on winter coats.  I realized I already owned a pretty nice black wool coat (it was a gift) and I just need to utilize it more.  I also picked up a camel wool coat with a hood in the same brand from Plato's Closet.  I need to wear these and save my sister's old snowboarding jacket for playing in the snow!

4.  Scarves - These are all the rage so I have acquired quite a collection of these.  From neutrals to colors to patterns, you name it. 

5.  Hats - A lady from my church crochets and takes special orders.  She made me one last year and this year I'm ordering two more. 

6.  Gloves/mittens - No brainer.  This year, I had to buy some that were touch screen compatible though.

What are your favorite winter pieces?  What is winter like in your neck of the woods?

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lessons Learned

Here I am, the day after Black Friday, thinking back to two years ago when I had begun my year-long break up with shopping.  That means it was only one year ago that I reunited with shopping.  I remember it vividly.  It was on that day one year ago that I wrote this email to Caitlin, the one who inspired me to take on the challenge.  So what has it been like, allowing myself to freely venture into stores and spend money on clothes, shoes and accessories again?  As I've shared here before, there were many lessons I learned during my year of no shopping.  Here are just a few of them that come to my mind today.

Lesson #1: Less is more.
One of the reasons why I felt so discontent with my closet was because I had so many ill-fitting, poor quality pieces in my closet.  I didn't want to get rid of them, but at the same time, I never wanted to wear them.  I purged my closet and kept the pieces that fit well and were made well.  I still clean out my closet at times to make sure I'm not holding on to things I don't wear.  A good rule I try to follow is to donate one piece for every new piece.

Lesson #2:  Choose quality over quantity.
During my year of no shopping, I actually did some shopping with gift cards/gift money from special occasions, but because I was limited, I became picky.  No more impulse buying.  Pre-break-up I would just grab a bunch of stuff and not try them on.  The result was a closet full of clothing I never wore.  In order to find pieces that fit me well, I started to shop in the women's petites section instead of the junior's department.  If I'm looking for a well-made timeless piece, I look for quality brands, even if it means spending a little more.

Lesson #3:  Lifestyle defines personal style.  
Pinterest is great for finding style inspiration, however, one day in the middle of winter, I recreated an outfit I had pinned, but soon realized that I was freezing cold. Also, my outfit was made of pieces that were not conducive to my duties as a momma of two little ones.  Another time I recreated a work outfit I had seen, but when I got to my classroom, my shoes hurt my feet and I felt hindered and unproductive the whole day.  It was then that I started deliberately thinking about my personal style.   One word came to my mind: comfy.  At the same time, I didn't want to sacrifice style for comfort.  I became @howcomfy on Instagram and I started the hashtag #comfymommastyle and #comfyteacherstyle to document the outfits that worked for me.  I've met several sweet moms and teachers who really encourage me in my style endeavors.    

Lesson #4: Look for remixable pieces.
This is the fun part.  Instead of buying outfits that could only be worn one way or for one occasion, I purchased pieces that I could mix and match.  Style bloggers like Audrey from Putting Me Together and Caitlin from Greater Than Rubies, have taught me a lot in this area.  I started buying pieces that I could wear for different occasions.  I've also participated in Caitlin's remix challenges where you choose twenty pieces to remix exclusively for thirty days.  I've learned how to shop my closet, and it has helped me to be a better steward of what I own and to be content with what God has given me. 

Lesson #5: Trust God.  
I am amazed at how much God has blessed me through this entire "style journey."  Never in my life have I felt so content and provided for.  There have been times throughout these past two years when someone would just give me clothes or I'd get a gift card from a student.  Another cool thing that has happened during my style journey has been the clearance sales at the Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor stores here.  Because they are consignment stores, I have been able to purchase name brand pieces (some still with tags) for only $1!  I'm not necessarily saying "trust God and He'll give you clothes" although He does say in Matthew chapter 6: "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?'...For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  What I'm saying is when you trust God with every aspect of your life, He is always faithful.

Sometimes I get really self-conscious about my participation on social networks with regards to "style."  I worry about people judging the things I post and write, thus allowing the enemy to rob me of any kind of joy or peace.  At the same time, I've learned so many things that have strengthened my relationship with God and has helped me minister to others. 

As this holiday season marks another year of my style revelation, I've been reflecting on some of my experiences, and I know that God can use our experiences to point us to Him.  I'm trusting Him to use me in whatever way He wants to use me.  Starting today, I want to share more of my experiences through this blog.  I hope you'll stick around and join me once in awhile.    

P.S.  Linking up with The Modern Austen for Sunday Best!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Lovely Lookbook: Fall Colors Edition

It's fall, y'all!  Living in the south has really affected my vocabulary, among other things.  I now own quite a collection of big pieces of jewelry, and I have recipes for several casseroles memorized.  Growing up in Hawaii where it's 80 degrees year round, I never had that anticipation for fall.  Now I look forward to the cooler weather where I can bust out the jeans, boots, and layers.  Ah yes, the layers.

This past Saturday, our family of four joined Poppy and Grammie How and Mr. How's sister and her family of five for our annual How Family visit to the pumpkin patch: a very sincere pumpkin patch if I may say so myself.  It was the perfect day to wear fall colors for the October edition of The Lovely Lookbook hosted by Caitlin and Sarah of Greater Than Rubies and Tucker Up, respectfully.

We've been coming to this pumpkin patch for the past four years now, but sometimes getting dressed for an outing like this can be sorta tricky.  One year it was incredibly cold.  Another year it was really hot. Last year, it had rained the day before, so it was muddy.  Also, I can't ever decide if I should dress up so as to look cute in family pictures, or if I should dress down because of all the dirt I accumulate on my clothes from the hay ride, the hay bale maze, sunflower maze, petting zoo, corn kernel pit, and the pumpkin patch itself. 

Cute and comfy was my goal, and I think I pulled it off. Because I've pared down my closet, it was very easy for me to get dressed that morning.  First, I knew I needed layers. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a nippy little breeze, so I chose denim jeggings and a white v-neck tee as my base. I then layered a blue gingham button-down shirt over that and then an olive puffer vest as a completer piece.  I chose cognac ankle boots, instead of tall ones, since it was only around 75 degrees.  If it got too warm, I knew I could just remove the vest or tie my gingham layer around my waist.  I also decided to wear blue because I imagined it would look best against the orange of the pumpkins, since blue and orange contrasting colors.  Voila!  

All afternoon I was comfy, and I felt cute and confident at the same time.  We took some nice family pictures, and I didn't worry about my outfit getting dirty!  High fives all around!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday, Get Your Pretty On for I Feel Pretty, and The Modern Austen for Sunday Best!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What I Wore: Tax-Free Shopping Weekend

We had a tax-free shopping weekend the first week in August when my sisters happened to be in town.  I hadn't seen them in two whole years!  I'm telling you, my sisters are my favorite people to go shopping with.  It's too bad we live so far away from each other!  They never hover impatiently.  We all just have a silent agreement to allow the others to browse independently.  At the same time, we don't get offended if one of us wants to check out a different store while another is still shopping.  Do you have your favorite shopping besties?  

I took them to a fun shopping area in Little Rock where some of my favorite stores are located.  The kids tagged along with us that Saturday, so we brought along some lollipops and our Nintendo DS's.  Yes, my youngest sister and I both own them. (Anyone else out there?  C'mon, I know some of you do...)  I knew I wanted to be comfortable that day so I wore some comfy gray jeans, a lightweight sleeveless mint top, and a pair of simple sandals; all items that could easily be removed and put back on when trying on clothes and shoes.  My trusty backpack purse would allow me to shop hands-free, and held all the shopping necessities: my wallet, a water bottle, and the treats and DS for the kiddos. 

Middle sister wanted some shorts and was able to find a great pair on sale at J.Crew.  Little sister wanted some tennis shoes but DSW didn't have anything she liked this time.  I went ahead and bought a pair of petite dark wash modern skinny jeans at Loft. I've realized recently how important it is to buy clothes that fit me well, so I like Loft for it's petite section.  All three of us bought necklaces and posted a challenge for our friends on Facebook and Instagram to see if they could match the necklace with the sister.  It was interesting to see what people guessed. 

When I go shopping, I like to look somewhat put together, but not go overboard. One of my friends from college and I would joke when we'd see girls all dolled up at the mall and whisper, "DTK," to each other.  "Dressed to Kill."  As a mom who doesn't have a lot of time to go shopping by herself, I need a simple outfit for those quick changes in the dressing room.  On the flip side, I have also gone clothing shopping in just a t-shirt, shorts and athletic shoes and even though it shouldn't be this way, the clerks in some stores just don't always give you quality service when dressed super casual.  (Imagine the scene from Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts tries to shop on Rodeo Drive for the first time.)

What do you like to wear when you go clothes/shoe shopping?
P.S.  Linking up with Tucker Up for What I Wore Wednesday!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Lovely Lookbook: Dress Edition

I haven't blogged in awhile and I have a good reason.  August is the busiest time of the year for me because it's back to school I go.  I'm a middle school teacher at a private school where I have the privilege of teaching 5th through 8th grade English.  Yeah. You English teachers out there know what I'm talking about.  Don't get me wrong, I really do love what I do, it's just that everything else in my life seems to end up on the back burner when I'm focused on the beginning of a new school year.  Throw in a husband who is an assistant principal, a first grader, and a pre-schooler, and you can imagine how cray-cray life has been these past couple weeks at the How's house.

Now that we are back into somewhat of a routine, I decided that I want to continue blogging here; documenting my style journey as it continues to evolve.  I have to admit that I've felt pretty good about my "comfy teacher style" outfits for work.  I've learned to remix pieces and utilize what I already own.  The best thing is I'm getting dressed in less than five minutes and I haven't felt frumpy yet.  It just goes to show that when you own pieces that you feel good about wearing, you can avoid that moment of standing in front of your closet saying, "I have nothing to wear!"

Today I'm linking up with Caitlin and Sarah's first edition of a style challenge they've entitled "The Lovely Lookbook."  Both of these young ladies blog about style in a way that I can get on board with.  They're all about shopping your closet and making clothes work for your body type.  Check out their blogs and you'll see what I mean. 
This month, The Lovely Lookbook is featuring dresses, so I thought I'd participate in show and tell time.  Here's my steal of a deal: a black and white striped fit and flare dress by Peter Som for Kohl's.  

Original price: $68
Clearance price: $20, minus $10 off coupon in the mail
I paid: $10 plus tax
Eek!  I cannot even begin to express my excitement when I found this dress!  I'm 5'0" and recently figured out that after having two children, I can't shop the juniors department anymore.  Fortunately, many stores that I love carry petite sizing.  The day I purchased this dress I wasn't looking for a dress at all.  I browsed the petite section and nothing really caught my eye, so in hesitation I picked through the regular clearance stuff.  This dress instantly came into view.  I was like: My size? Check!  Modest neckline? Check!  Modest length? Check! Hides my baby belly and scoliosis curvature? Check!  Remixable for every season? Check!  Remixable for different occasions?  Check!  Timeless color and pattern? Check!
I wore this to work on Thursday when we have to wear a skirt or dress for chapel.  I paired it with gold flats and a neutral statement necklace (both purchased on clearance). I chose simple gold earrings, and even wore a gold clip in my hair. 

I felt comfy, cute, and stylish all day.  It was about 90 degrees so I chose not to layer a cardigan or jacket.  I felt like the necklace and the gold shoes were enough to pull the outfit together.  You better believe I'll be wearing this dress again for other seasons and occasions.  Because it's neutral, I can definitely add some color with accessories and completer pieces.  It would also be fun to do some pattern mixing!  

Do you have a dress that you absolutely love?  How do you style dresses for different seasons and occasions?
P.S. Linking up with The Pleated Poppy What I Wore Wednesday!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Recap

I'll be the first to say that I could have done a little better with this month's summer remix challenge.  Wellllll, maybe I could have done a lot better.  I will give myself some credit for 1) linking up each week - even if I was a few days late, and 2) creating over 30 outfits with my 20 pieces - even if I just swapped completer pieces with basic outfits.  I mean, no need to reinvent the wheel, right?

When I decided to do this challenge,  I had a lot of good intentions.  I even started a blog to document my outfits and have something to link back to.  I wanted to do a good job by posting daily outfit photos on Instagram.  I also wanted to create a uniform layout of a weekly collage of outfits for each week's link up.  Although not all of that took place, I did my best with what time and resources were available to me, because the bottom line is, life happens.  Because I'm a teacher, I get to spend my summer at home with my kids, and that means I need mom-friendly outfits.  Looking back on this challenge, I found that I gravitated towards my t-shirts and my pants and shorts.  Those pieces are just so much more practical when you're bending over tying shoelaces, picking up crying children, and cleaning up all kinds of messes.  I threw in a few dresses for church and special occasions and I guess I could've worn them more, but most days it was a comfy momma outfit for chores and running around with the kids.  I also found that I didn't wear my tanks as much as I thought I would.   

What I love about Caitlin and her blog, Greater Than Rubies, is that she helps women (like myself) to realize that life is more than just a "to do list."  Her weekly "Remix Rewear Restyle" link up is a challenge to do just that: remix pieces we already have in our closets, rewear pieces to get more use out of them, and restyle pieces to create other fun looks!  Because of Caitlin and other style bloggers who have similar goals, I have learned to be content with what I do have.  I don't have to spend a ton of money and I don't have to own a lot of clothes to look put together.  The style tips I've learned have helped me to be comfortable with what I'm wearing, which then helps to motivate me to do the things I need to do, and also frees me up to do the things I want to do.
Before I end with a few more outfit photos to wrap up this challenge, I want to say thank you to Caitlin for being such a great friend (IRL!) and accountability partner these past few years.  I just can't put into words how you've encouraged and inspired me in so many ways.  Your posts and articles are about so much more than "style."  You truly are a woman after God's own heart!

Outfit 1:  white jeans + white tee + olive cargo vest + leopard slides
Occasion: A day at the zoo with the kiddos!

Outfit 2:  navy tee + coral cords + denim flats (added denim jacket)
Occasion: chores at home, then dinner and bookstore with the fam

Outfit 3: olive tee + denim shorts + cognac flats
Occasion:  shopping with my daughter and then family time

Now stick a fork in me; I'm done.

P.S.  Linking up with Greater Than Rubies, The Pleated Poppy, Tucker Up, Get Your Pretty On, and The Modern Austen!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 4

I mentioned last week that I was starting to give up on this challenge.  There were so many things going on and I hadn't kept up with photos or blog posts.  As all of that was happening, I began to notice some things about my life and why I decided to do the challenge in the first place.  Despite all the craziness, I am still here, on link up day with my take on week 4 of the summer remix challenge hosted by Greater Than Rubies.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do this challenge was so that I could learn to be content with the items I already have in my closet.  Taking 20 pieces of clothing and putting together 30 outfits may sound like a challenge, but it really isn't.  I've learned that if you own a variety of pieces, the possibilities are endless.  Today I wanted to illustrate how you can change the look of a basic outfit just by changing completer pieces.  Completer pieces are items like a cardigan, jacket, or vest.  Here are some collages I put together with my summer remix pieces.  All of them start with the same basic outfit.

Basic outfit 1:  black maxi dress
So far I've only worn this maxi dress once with my denim jacket. However, I can easily wear any one of my completer pieces for a completely different look.  Four different looks!  Easy peasy!

Basic outfit 2: white capris + polka dot tank
Because this outfit is black and white, you can pretty much wear any of these completer pieces with it.  First, a denim jacket goes with practically everything.  Olive is considered another neutral, so the vest would look good, too. The coral cardigan would give this outfit a color pop.  Last, the paisley kimono cardigan would be a fun way to pattern mix and because it's also black and white, it wouldn't be such an extreme contrast.

Basic outfit 3: denim jeggings + cream tank top
Once again, because this outfit is so neutral, any one of the completer pieces works.  My first go-to would be the coral cardigan to give it some color.  I also like the olive military vest to mix a masculine piece with the feminine silky top.  Denim on denim is acceptable nowadays, especially when you put a dark and light shade together.  The kimono can also work with this outfit since both tops are drapey and flowy.

Basic outfit 4: black shorts + "radiant orchid" crocheted tank top
I've only worn this top once so far.  Because of the vibrant color, I personally wouldn't wear it with all these completer pieces, but you definitely could. Again, the denim jacket is a no-brainer and the masculine olive vest would contrast the feminine crocheted top.  The coral cardigan would be a fun way to play with color blocking, and the kimono would be a subtle pattern mix.

And there you have it!  Sixteen different looks!  Well, really you have twenty different looks when you count the basic outfit.  You can multiple the number of outfits just by adding a few completer pieces!  This the kind of math an English teacher can handle!

Linking up with Greater Than Rubies for Remix Rewear Restyle and Fizz and Frosting for Mix It Monday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

My First Sewing Project: Kimono Cardigan

I lied.  This is not my first sewing project.  However, this is my first sewing project in over two decades.  That should count for something right?  I haven't touched a sewing machine since 8th grade Home Economics when I almost failed the "threading the machine" test.  I learned how to sew an apron and a drawstring bag that semester, but it was such a tedious, time-consuming, altogether frustrating experience that I subconsciously told myself I would never sew anything again.

My mother-in-law (my kids call her Grammie) has always enjoyed sewing - especially quilting.  My sister-in-law and her friends started meeting for a sewing class with her once a week.  I was, of course, invited, but I had no intention of ever joining.  Until now.  Actually let me clarify.  Until Pinterest. 

To make a long story short, I kept seeing all these super cute DIY/sewing tutorials getting pinned on the boards of the crafty people I follow.  One of my favorite style bloggers is Merrick of Merrick's Art and she posts a bunch of amazing sewing tutorials.  One that really caught my eye and looked simple enough was her kimono cardigan tutorial.  All you had to do was cut some material, sew some stitches in a few places and voila!  For a beginner like myself it wasn't that easy, but once Grammie taught me the basics - she really is an outstanding teacher - I got the hang of it and had a lot of fun!  I can't wait to start on another sewing project!

Since I already have a black and white paisley kimono cardigan, I chose a colorful floral material for summer, but could also be worn in the fall.  What I also love about this trend is that it's a lightweight cardigan, perfect for summer weather when they crank up the AC indoors and it's sweltering hot outside. 

Yes, I really did wear this outfit today.  Our local Friends of the Library is having one of their huge book sales downtown this weekend.  It's something that our little family attends almost religiously.  I wore my kimono with comfy momma style basics: a white tee, denim shorts, and neutral sandals.  Adding the kimono gave my outfit an artsy feel; perfect for browsing books at the eclectic used bookstore pre-sale party for Friends of the Library members only.

Do you sew?  What is your favorite DIY project?  

Linking up with  The Modern Austen, Get Your Pretty On, Mix and Match Fashion and Phiphi's Blog!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 3

Week 3 of the summer remix challenge proved to be a challenge indeed.  I fell behind on my blogging schedule because of some unexpected circumstances, but they were good surprises that helped me to remember why I started this blog in the first place. 

Last Monday, Mr. How whisked us away to Oklahoma City for a spontaneous road trip to celebrate our ten year anniversary. (Here in "Blogland" I will refer to my husband as Mr. How because I called him that for four years before we were married. You see, we met while teaching at the same school; he taught second grade and I taught third grade.  My reference to him as Mr. How is an affectionate one.)

Why OKC you ask?  Our good friend, J.T., who performed our wedding ceremony now lives there, so we were able to spend some time with him and his wife.  On the morning of our anniversary we went to a little park near our hotel and J.T. performed an intimate (read: just us) ceremony and we renewed our wedding vows.  It was a gorgeous day - 80 degrees in the middle of July is unheard of!

You can probably tell from the photo above that I was in tears, as J.T. gave us the chance to remember our wedding day and reflect on the things that God has taught us over the past ten years.  Since then we have moved from the West Coast to the South, changed careers, and purchased our dream home.  Our biggest and most significant change has of course been the addition of two children to our little How family.  As we renewed our wedding vows, we also had the opportunity to tell each other what we have learned to appreciate about the other.  One thing I appreciate about Mr. How is that he provides for our children and me.  Even though I work and my paycheck contributes to our family finances, I still submit to him as the head of our household.  We make many of our decisions together, however, he ultimately carries our burdens, and I'm thankful for the wisdom he uses to decide what is best for our family.  Because of this, I want to be a woman/wife/mother who uses wisdom, too.  I need to use my time wisely and also spend wisely.  

When I started this blog I wasn't exactly sure what I would write about.  I knew I wanted to document my "style journey" and I never thought I'd learn so much along the way.  For example, this summer remix challenge is teaching me, in more ways than one, to trust Him and to be content. It's also helped me to live a simpler life and to be a better steward of what I own.  I've also met some really neat women/wives/mothers who have similar situations (read: struggles) as I do and we've been able to encourage each other and provide accountability. 

I did not take outfit photos during the 3 days we were out of town.  Two of those days were spent traveling so I wore other pieces, although I did pack several of my summer remix challenge pieces.  (I'll try to do another post about travel outfits and packing another time.)

I wore this first outfit on our actual anniversary which was on Tuesday.  I've had this dress since our first anniversary.  It's one of my favorites because it's a simple design and I love all the colors in it.  I've been able to wear it with several different colored completer pieces for several different occasions.  I paired it with my denim jacket because it was cooler that day and it was what I had packed.  It dawned on me that a white denim jacket would have been appropriate for a wedding vow renewal and would also make a good addition to my closet.
Outfit 1: denim jacket + printed dress + neutral sandals
Occasion:  wedding anniversary vow renewal and sightseeing with family

I don't know about y'all but it was kinda overcast and rainy in our neck of the woods this week.  On Thursday I was happy to have this 3/4 sleeve tshirt in my remix. I paired it with white capris and yellow flats to keep myself cheerful on such a gloomy day.
Outfit 2: white capris + striped tee + yellow flats
Occasion: chores then Bunko ladies night

Again, it was kinda chilly most of the week so my trusty denim jacket made its appearance in several of my outfits. 
Outfit 3: denim jacket + coral cords + polka dot tank top + leopard slides
Occasion:  day with the family then evening with visiting relatives

Easy peasy comfy momma style right here.
Outfit 4:  denim jacket + tshirt dress + neutral sandals
Occasion:  sightseeing downtown with relatives including the splash pad for the kids

This was the first time I wore this maxi dress.  I picked it up at the Loft Outlet on our road trip to San Antonio.  It was an extra small petite and fit me perfectly so I snatched it up.  I'm looking forward to remixing it for other occasions. 
Outfit 5:  denim jacket + maxi dress + sandals
Occasion:  church

Because I did choose a lot of neutral pieces for my remix I knew I was going to have to incorporate accessories for color.  I've been adding more colored shoes to my wardrobe and thought red would go well with this black and white outfit. 
Outfit 6:  black shorts + polka dot tank top + red flats
Occasion:  hanging out with family

Again, it took me a few days to get this post out because more unexpected things happened this week.  And again, it was all good, so I'll share more next time!  Have a great rest of the week!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy and Tucker Up for What I Wore Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Remix Challenge Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of my summer remix challenge!  Please allow me give you a little recap of what I'm doing here.  For the month of July I'm challenging myself to take just 20 pieces of clothing and create 30 different outfits.  I love challenges like these because they help me realize that I don't need a lot of clothes and that I can shop my own closet and be content with what I already own.

This week I volunteered in the kitchen at my church's VBS, so my mornings were busy prepping snacks and serving the kids.  I needed comfy clothes every morning and for 4 of the 5 days, I put on clothes from my 20 pieces.  I wasn't feeling 100% though, so I didn't get around to outfit photos every day.  But because this challenge is about coming up with 30 outfit from my 20 pieces, I was still able to do that so I do have a week'a worth of outfits today.  Here ya go!

I did wear this olive tee and black shorts to VBS.  (We wore a costume over our clothes all week.)  Even though this is a super casual comfy outfit, I dressed it up with yellow flats, a yellow statement necklace, and my fedora for running errands later that day.

I did a blog post here on the next few pictures.  I decided to do a "one outfit three ways" dealio by changing out my shoes and completer pieces with a basic white tee and striped skirt. 

I also did a blog post on the next two outfits here.  Another thing I've learned is how to find "remixable" shirts that can be worn with jeans AND colored bottoms.  Here's my take using this gray and white striped tee:

This last outfit is not put together in this photo but I wanted to share how I've learned to dress for occasions like this.  On Saturday a friend and I were able to spend the majority of the day at the nearby amusement/water park - sans kids - something I have not done in 6 years!  (By the way my son is 6 years old.  So yeah.)  We spent the day in our comfy momma swim suits then changed for the Steven Curtis Chapman concert that night.  It was super hot that day so I wore my white tee and black shorts.  Then that evening when it got cooler, I wore my kimono.  I was able to tie it on my purse like a scarf until I needed it.  I felt comfy and cool as we sang  praises to God under the stars that night!

I apologize for not getting this post up earlier this week.  Mr. How took us on a spontaneous road trip to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!  It was really easy packing for it because all I did was throw some of my summer challenge remix pieces into a suitcase and we were on our way!  You'll see those outfit photos next week!

Linking up with Greater Than Rubies and Fizz and Frosting for Mix It Monday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shopping Haul: Plato's Closet

During my year-of-no-shopping, I was still shopping.  Let me explain.  My rule for the year was that I didn't spend money on shoes, clothes, or accessories.  However, gift cards and gift money were okay to spend. Hand-me-down items and gifted items were happily accepted, too.  You better bet I asked for gift cards and gift money for Christmas, my birthday, Mother's Day, and my anniversary.

It was also during that year that I discovered Plato's Closet.  Sometime in January, my sister-in-law wanted to use her Christmas money to buy some designer jeans at a reasonable price.  One of her friends had told her about Plato's. I went with her one Saturday just as another set of eyes to help her pick out a pair, and we happened to be there on the last day of their $1 clearance sale!  Because it was the last day of a week-long sale, the pickings were kinda slim.  I had already spent the majority of my Christmas money at after-Christmas sales, but was able to pick up 7 pieces for $7!  One of the pieces I bought on that day was the white denim capris I chose for my summer remix challenge.  

I was so happy!  I mean, other than getting clothes for free, $1 a piece was not too shabby.  I marveled at the faithfulness of God.  I really felt like God was provided a way for me to use gift money to still buy clothes that I wanted at a very reasonable price.  He spoils me, I tell ya!

Honestly, since then I almost (I say almost!) cannot bring myself to spend money at retail stores knowing I can shop  at Plato's Closet $1 clearance sale every season!  The same owners just opened a Clothes Mentor in the same shopping center and I'm praying they have similar sales, too!  I follow their store on Instagram and you better believe when they say their $1 clearance is about to start, I am there when the store opens!  In fact, they just started their sale last week on July 3rd.  Here are some of the things I picked up!

As you can see, I went for a lot of patterns!  After my year-of-no-shopping and through wardrobe remix challenges like the one I'm doing right now, I've been able to purge my closet and rebuild it.  I pretty much have all my basic pieces and now I can add a few (or a dozen) trendier pieces.  I don't mind spending $1 on a trendy piece because even if I only wear it once or twice, it was only a dollar!  

Making a list of things you want to add to your wardrobe really helps when shopping. I've gone to huge malls and walked away with nothing because they didn't have any of the items on my list.  At this particular sale, they had mostly shorts, skirts, dresses, and a ton of tops.  I didn't need shorts - I picked up several (brand new) pairs at Old Navy for $1 on Black Friday.  Although I already did some skirt shopping at a couple of thrift stores earlier this year, I couldn't pass up the polka dot pencil skirt.  Dresses are hard for me to find because of my petite frame, but I did find three that fit well.  Even at $1 a piece I still tried everything on and only bought what I knew I would wear.  The "pre-clothing-fast-me" wouldn't have done that.  Since they had so many tops and I knew I didn't need any more knit t-shirt type tops, I decided to focus on nice patterned tops for work and church, but could also be worn on the weekend or for a night out.  I ended up picking up several designs: floral, Aztec, color block, striped, animal print.  All of these tops could go with any of my basic bottoms and a completer piece.

I am pretty much set for going back to school this August, which is technically back to work for me being a teacher!  I can't wait to wear all my "new" clothes!

Do you shop at consignment stores or thrift stores?  What about garage sales?  I will be writing more posts on more of my past and future frugal shopping experiences soon!

Frugal Style

Today I have two more outfits with pieces I chose for my summer remix challenge.  I've been busy this week with VBS and yesterday I wasn't feeling 100% therefore I didn't take any pictures.  So today I kept the same top and remixed it with different bottoms and voila!  Two outfits done!

I haven't told you how much I paid for some of the pieces in my summer remix challenge.  I will do that in this post and also explain why I get so excited about it. 

One of my revelations during my year-of-no-shopping was that when I do go shopping, I don't have buy full-priced retail name-brand items.  I know, I know, such a simple concept, but it's difficult to realize sometimes.

I grew up in Hawaii where you can wear a t-shirt, shorts, and slippahs (a.k.a. flip flops) every day, all day, year round and from year to year.  It never goes "out of style."  Sure, the "mainland" trends would  reach us too, but everyone is pretty content to wear super casual clothes. Like if you decided to wear jeans, people would ask you why you were dressed up.  Locals usually own one pair of tennis shoes (usually white) and one jacket (usually black) to match everything.  Okay, I may be exaggerating...then again maybe not.  

Growing up, my parents never had a lot of money to spend on clothes for us.  My sisters and I usually wore hand-me-downs from relatives, and we only went shopping for school clothes.  In high school and college I had part-time jobs to help me buy things that I wanted.  I even worked at Gap and especially enjoyed the employee discount.  After college I moved to Southern California where some people dress casually and others don't.  I got my first job as a teacher and finally had a steady income.  It was easy for me to want to buy clothes at the hundreds upon thousands of malls and retail stores literally everywhere.  I was in debt with college loans and yet I would go shopping for "work" (and "play") clothes almost every weekend. 
I tried to be frugal by shopping at outlets and cheaper retail stores.  I always looked for what was on sale or on clearance.  I remember shopping one day with my cousin at the mall and after browsing a few stores, I said to her, "What are we doing here?  Let's go across the street to Ross and Marshall's!"  Sadly, I never learned how to shop wisely.  In my attempt to save money, I would buy poor quality clothes.  Sometimes I would buy pieces that didn't fit me well just because they were on sale.  The result was a closet of unwearable clothes because they were either faded or pilling or ill-fitting. 

I have a whole different mindset when I shop now.  I try my best to only buy items that fall under these categories. 
A.  I look for quality classic pieces that are comfortable and will hold up well when washed and worn. 
B.  I look for pieces that can be remixed for my lifestyle: work, weekend, church, etc.
C.  If I buy trendy pieces, I try not to spend a lot of money on them knowing that they'll only last a season. 

Outfit 1: striped t-shirt $3 at Old Navy + Levi's jeggings $1 at Plato's Closet

Outfit 2:  same striped t-shirt $3 at Old Navy + coral corduroy jeans $2 at Old Navy

Okay so here are two outfits under $5!  Isn't that crazy!?  Our Plato's Closet here in North Little Rock has these awesome $1 clearance sales pretty much every season.  (Stay tuned for a shopping haul post from the last sale!)  I've gotten some steals there because it's a consignment store that carries some really good quality name-brand stuff.  The Levi's jeggings are a prime example.  The shirt and coral jeans are from Old Navy. I love Old Navy for the fact that I can get brand new (as opposed to consignment which is usually worn) trendy pieces on clearance. 

I've already worn all three of these items a bunch of times because of their remixability.  (Is that even a word?)  I get so excited knowing that I only spent a few dollars on cute comfy clothes.  It also makes me feel good that I'm being a better steward by wearing these pieces over and over again by remixing them with items I already own.  That's why I love remix challenges like these.  They show me how many outfit options I really have and remind me that I don't need to go shopping every weekend!  I can be content with the things God has given me. 

How do you feel about your closet?  Are you a frugal shopper?  What are some things you do to be a better steward of what you already own?

Linking up with Tucker Up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Outfit Three Ways

Versatility.  It's what draws me to certain products, retail stores, and style blogs.  I want more bang for my buck.  A  kitchen utensil that can be used to mix AND chop ground beef AND cold rice.  A pair of shoes that can I can wear to work AND on the weekends.  A style blog that shows me how to wear the same outfit for day AND night. Yes please!

I wore this outfit today.  I have been very busy this week volunteering at my church's VBS every morning and by the time I get home I am wiped out.  I don't know if I'll get around to outfit photos for each day of this week for my summer remix challenge so I've decided to give you three looks with some of my pieces since the purpose of the challenge is to come up with 30 different outfits.  Without further ado, here are three ways to wear a white t-shirt and a striped skirt!

All I did to change up these outfits was change shoes and add a completer piece.  When I put together an outfit I almost always start with shoes that match the occasion.  I want my feet to be comfy.  Then I pick bottoms, a top, a completer piece if needed, and jewelry/accessories if I feel like it needs more. 

(Please excuse the amateur photography. I had to interrupt Mr. How and K.D.'s precious Super Mario Brothers game three times to achieve these bad boys.)

This first outfit is my comfy momma style.  I wore my Converse for a super casual vibe.  I can easily run around with my kids in this outfit, plus this knit skirt from Savers feels like sweats. 

For this next outfit I chose my utility vest and my camouflage flats.  I've only worn this vest a few times and I added it to my remix to force myself to use it more.  These camo flats were a birthday gift and I've been wanting to wear them more too.  When you want to try out a current trend, an easy way is with something small like shoes, a belt, or a purse.  I ended up wearing this outfit out to dinner this evening with my family. 

This last outfit is a comfy one, too.  My denim jacket is like my security blanket.  I feel like it dresses up my outfit a bit but because it's denim, it's still casual.  I would probably wear this on a date night.  I don't normally wear wedges but I couldn't pass up these brand new Toms when I saw them at Savers!  Another casual but dressy piece for 50% off, too! Score!

So there you have it...three outfits from one.  That's three days of my remix challenge done!  Yay me!