Thursday, May 20, 2010

Out of Season


green blouse (Marshall's)
jeans (JC Penney's)
bracelet (gift)
boots (DSW)

This is the outfit I wore on the day my last seminar paper was due.  I went to the office for a morning of proof-reading, footnote writing, and incredibly incoherent conclusions.  I like this flowy top because of the bright colors and jungle-ish(?) print.  Sometimes I belt it, sometimes I don't.  I wanted to be super comfortable in the midst of final madness, so I wore it unbelted.  This outfit has more of a fall feel, but even though it's springtime, but for the past week or so, it sure hasn't felt like it here.

I'm chagrined to admit that before about two weeks ago, I did not own a pair of knee high boots nor a pair of flat boots, only a pair of black ankle boots.  I love this classic and ubiquitous style, but one main factor derailed my 8-month long journey to find them: price.  Pairs that fit well were out of my price range, and though I knew I would get a lot of wear out of the boots, I still couldn't justify the cost.  I just couldn't bring myself to bite the bullet and buy them.  As I said in my profile, one of my biggest style hurdles, as I think it is for any graduate student, is income.  The cost of living near Scholar Style Guide Headquarters makes living within my means nearly impossible; the fact that I've managed to not go into debt over the past few years is almost miraculous.  So even "investment pieces" must be bought on sale.

So when I found these boots, marked down a total of about 80%, I immediately snagged them, even though I knew that I wouldn't get much use out of them until the fall.  Buying items out of season means that you can get great deals, but you don't usually reap the rewards until much later, and you're robbed of the rush that comes from taking your new items out for a spin soon after you buy them.  For me, though, the trade-off is more than worth it.

  • Do you ever buy items out of season?  What kind of items do purchase during their off-season?
  • What are some other ways that you dress for your budget?
  • Do you shop at thrift stores?  I have shopped at thrift and vintage stores before, but I've never quite gotten into it.  Have any tips? 


La Historiadora de Moda said...

Yay for having turned in your final paper!

I buy things out of season fairly often. Next to thrifting, clearance sales can be the best. In terms of thrifting, I think you just have to do it regularly to get the hang of it (like most things). You have to be patient and willing to try things that might not be your usual size or style.

Scholar Style Guide said...

I am the worst person to comment on this post, because, when it comes to shopping, I am blissfully budget unconscious. Blissfully, that is, until I see my monthly credit card statement.

Anyway, I shop a lot of Marshalls, Target, and TJMaxx. I am also working my way through a brand addiction, which my budget appreciates.

I always note the color of your pieces. But seriously: green! on you! is fabulous!

- Anne-Marie

Scholar Style Guide said...

A second thought: seems like we're seeing a revival of the spring/summer boot, so you may not be as out of season as you think. I'm wondering, though, does color matter? Size? Boot height? What constitutes a transitional boot?

Ok. Back to work!


A-Dubs said...

Huzzah! I add my congrats to the others' for your having handed in that final paper! Are you done with course work, then? Or is there more to come?

When I finished my last course a few years ago, a very pleasant mentor-type congratulated me, and added that I would never be evaluated in that forum, and in that manner EVER again. For me, this was yet another reason to celebrate!

I, too, shop out-of-season out of necessity as well as my own general cheapness. I agree it's sad to miss the rush of debuing (hmm. is that a word?) a fabulous new find. But I love the process of finding new things in my closet when the appropriate season finally rolls around.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for the congrats! A-Dubs, I have one more year of course work left.

Anne-Marie, I have never worn a transitional boot, though I would def like to consider what makes a boot transitional :) I think that color is important, but that height is as well - more ankle boots and such. Though of course there are other factors to consider...


Christina said...

I shop at thrift stores pretty regularly (usually at least once a month) so here's my take on thrifting.

Don't go to get items you need. I'm the kind of person who plans shopping fairly meticulously. So when I need a new coat, I decide on the color, cut and material beforehand. I don't need a coat, I need a hip-length, camel peacoat. It's very unlikely that you'll find something specific among cluttered thrift stores that fits and is well-made. If you look at it as a fun way to spend the day instead of a necessity, it's less likely that you'll end the day frustrated and more likely that you'll feel like you've stolen some gems.

I also like to go between looking at store items and purchasing store items. You'd be surprised at how many similar items you can find. I found a dress very similar to Anthropologie's Vappu dress at a Goodwill for about 3$. Not only was it 95$ cheaper than the store version, it's a cute print AND in my favorite color, brown. A lot of silhouettes are repeated in fashion and you can save a lot by checking thrift stores first.

Get to know your thrift stores. I go out of my way to go to stores in wealthy neighborhoods because they tend to have better quality donations, such as leather and fur coats for 30 some dollars. Also, you can take advantage of certain sales. For example, in my area at least, clothing at Goodwill is half off the last Saturday of the month. I also found a thrift store that arranges tops by color, which makes shopping sooo much easier! If you didn't have a good time thrifting, try other stores until you find some you love.

I try to keep in mind how the clothes will work with my wardrobe, and my body. Usually what you'll find at thrift stores are classic or older silhouettes in either solids or prints (and many laughably atrocious things, too), but rarely super updated looks or new trends. Most jackets have shoulder pads and most pants are of the "mom jean" cut, but most cardigans, tops, and shirts are fairly timeless. I really prefer longer length skirts to micro-minis, but can't seem to find much in stores, and thrift stores tend to be great for that sort of thing.

If you can do a small amount of sewing, you can really get some mileage out of thrift stores. Sizing is so diverse among the racks that you may find something you love that's a little too big, so being able to slightly alter things helps. Also, sewing on bead, appliques, trim or just different buttons can transform a well-made and well-fitting but blah cardigan into your favorite sweater. This is how I cope with loving Kate Spade while being broke :)

I think of thrifting as more of an outing than shopping. Bring some friends (definitely at least one) and a camera. If you can, plan to go to more than one thrift store so you're bound to find something you love. Then go through everything (Usually a necessity since racks are often jam-packed and disorganized). I generally pick up a few well-made, versatile pieces (You can find some great designer things if you know where to look), some statement pieces in fun prints to work into my wardrobe, and some utterly crazy, horrible pieces. Take tons of pictures, especially of you trying on a pair of hammer pants made of patchwork American flags. Afterwards, marvel how your new dress cost less than a movie ticket, or how, in stores, that exact top costs as much as a fancy lunch. Then go out to lunch together and see a movie :)

Sorry this was so damn long, brevity isn't my strong suit.