Saturday, January 17, 2015


Nearly 5 years ago, after graduating high school, I left for a year of service in Haifa, Israel. This was not only a crash course in culture- at the Baha'i World Centre where I was serving I was immersed in cultures from all over the world- but this was also my first time out on my own, managing my own life. One of my big take aways from that experience was style. Not my own style, I was fresh out of high school and from the Mid-West, what style was there to have? Being surrounded by people with all kinds of fashion sense, some of which I admired and attempted to emulate- I realized that I really had no sense of style to speak of- I wore jeans and t-shirts and the occasional dress. My clothing was generally from Target. Wisely, my mom took me shopping a few weeks before I left. We got a few nice button ups from Eddie Bauer, a cardigan from Gap, and a few pairs of reasonable shoes (in Haifa we pretty much walked everywhere, something a Kansan was not used to!) This was not only a great mother-daughter experience, but an opportunity to think about how I wanted to look for the next year. When I got to Haifa, I was definitely a little intimidated by the fashionable (to me) crowd I was suddenly surrounded by. I quickly decided to take some cues from the people I admired most and began to explore the options I had- namely cheap clothes from the Hadar (market) or I could go to one of the malls and be dazzled by places like Zara. Oh Zara. Even now I become unnecessarily excited by that store. Zara became my ideal of what it was to be fashionable. If I could shop at Zara then I could be fashionable. Again, I was 18.

 When I returned home from Haifa I was determined to dress better. This would require me to go shopping, as I had about 6 shirts I thought were up to par and maybe one pair of pants. The problem was that, even after about 25 applications, I had no job and therefore very little money in the summer between coming back and university beginning. This was the summer I discovered thrift stores and began the ongoing love story between these musty overstocked shops and ever-wanting self.

One of the best things about thrifting is that it offered you so many different kinds of clothing- vintage and new, full of different patterns and materials that you would likely never choose for yourself unless you had a chance to experiment with it beforehand. Silk, leather, tweed- these were not things you found in Forever 21 and Target.

After spending more hours in thrift stores and in front of my sewing machine than I care to admit, I had created a wardrobe inspired by the people I had most admired in Haifa. I had huge baggy button ups and pencil skirts, loose silky crop tops and harem pants (this is also when I realized that Australians and Europeans were way ahead of the fashion game than those in the Midwest. I know. Shocking!)

By the time college came around, I was dressing how I wanted. I would take my meager earnings from working at the university day care and spend it on things that I liked without worrying whether or not my classmates would also be wearing similar things. This was mostly because my clothing was thrifted, but also because I didn’t want to dress like them anymore- I didn’t want to wear Northface jackets and Uggs, I didn’t want to wear denim miniskirts (yes this was still when people wore those) and flip-flops. After a few months, I got a better job working as a teacher aide at an elementary school, so my clothing needed an upgrade. Instead of scouring the loaded thrift store racks for funky vintage prints, I trolled for Gap slacks and Ann Taylor jackets. Instead of going to work in jerseys and cheap cotton, I felt so confident walking in with decent wool trousers and silk-blend sweaters, all for less than $5. You can probably tell this, but thrifting gave me a rather overinflated ego. Anyone can go into LOFT and buy some full priced trousers, but I felt like it took a special skill to go into Goodwill and find the same pants one size too big and craft them into a killer pair of pants. This skill, no matter how border-line superfluous it might be, allowed me to get the clothing I felt professional in.

Fast forward to today- I have a well-stocked closet (maybe a little too well-stocked) full of thrift finds from stores I could have never afforded as well as a handful of random vintage pieces that add some funk to my style. I also discovered that a lot of the brands I love have both great sales (stuff like 60% of clearance- which is both awesome and unfortunately seductive) and teacher discounts (because teacher salary). I got married a year and a half ago I moved to Texas, where I now go to school full time to become an elementary school teacher, and work full-time as a Pre-K teacher aide. I’m continuing to develop a professional style and a consistent off-duty look so I can have a focus in my shopping and styling. This blog is my remedy to my slight shopping addiction- by sharing my outfits I hope I can be more creative in my assembly instead of simply buying more! I'll share mostly what I wear to work, but also a few weekend looks.


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