Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Black-Out Challenge


purple satin-ish dress and belt (sister's closet)           
pink button-down (NY&Co)                                     
brown wedges (Old Navy)                                       
antiqued gold earrings (Charlotte Russe)
green striped and yellow tanks (sister's closet)   
khakis (Old Navy)                                          
antiqued gold bangle (Ann Taylor Outlet)
white wedges (Mia via
turquoise beaded necklace (Kohl's)                           
white button-down (NY&Co)                                   
stone belt (NY&Co)                                                  
cropped stone trousers (NY&Co)                              
rose gold flowered sandals (Old Navy)                    
red jacket (sister's closet)
white cami (Old Navy)
brown belt (Kohl's)
cropped jeans (Gap)
red flats (gift from my mom)

The alternative title for this post should be "Shopping My Sister's Closet."  My sister is storing her "nice" clothes at my house while she works at a summer camp for the next few months, which of course means I'm wearing them!  Best idea ever!  As I mentioned in my last post, I accepted Sal at Already Pretty's black-out challenge!  At first, I thought this would be easy, especially since I had access to so many extra items of clothing.  Over the course of the week, though, I realized I'm much more dependent on black apparel, accessories, and shoes than I had realized.

On Tuesday, I wanted to embrace bright colors to get away from Monday's neutral experiment.  This purple dress has the same cut as this one I love, and I originally tried wearing the button-down underneath the dress, like a jumper.  It didn't look right, though, so I put the button-down over the top and liked how the wide belt created a color blocking look.  In this outfit I felt bright and cheerful, and I noticed that being in a colored skirt gave me a little more pep in my step than my usual black pencil skirt does.

On Wednesday, I thought I'd try this almost-breton-stripe tank top I discovered in my sister's drawer.  (I love this look, which Anne-Marie styles here, but I haven't been able to find a breton tank top I like.)  I was feeling a little adventurous for my shopping excursion, I didn't have to go to work, and I was excited about my new white wedges, so I thought I'd try this cuffed khaki look I have liked on other women.  Verdict?  I still like this look on other women.  On me, I think it looks stupid.  Plus, I couldn't help feeling like the early 90s childhood version of myself who lived in pegged-legged jeans.  I had intended to use the yellow tank underneath to give the outfit a little more color, and the gold accessories to make it look more polished, but I still think the outfit looks too blah.  (If I cut out the jeans from Friday's look, and place them over the khakis paper-doll style, I think I'd have a MUCH better outfit!)

On Thursday, I thought about how one of my cold weather fall-backs is a combination of black and gray with a pop of color.  I decided that the summer alternative to this ensemble would be a combination of light khaki/stone items and white, and I added my turquoise necklace to serve as the pop of color.  I'm not sure that worked (it's mostly obscured by my hair), but I still liked this opposite take on my winter neutrals.  I felt refreshed and crisp in this ensemble.  Katie and I also agreed that the belt brought out the safari-like look of the button down, which has two chest pockets.  I can definitely see myself trying out different iterations of this color(less) scheme this summer.

On Friday, I was beside myself!  I couldn't think of anything to wear that wasn't black!  I wondered why I had ever accepted this challenge!  I wanted to get back in bed!  So I went back to my sister's closet and discovered this great red jacket/top.  It has some fantastic structural details that I'm not sure this picture really captures.  I know how I would have styled this any other time: with a black belt and black cami.  (I love red and black together.)  I was surprised how much more "summery" this outfit felt when I put on a white cami and brown belt instead.  I'm afraid the shoes might be taking me into matchy-matchy territory, but since they don't match the belt, I still felt safe in coordinated but not over-coordinated territory.

Thanks for this challenge, Sally!  It helped me realize that part of my problem with styling "summer appropriate" looks is that black is my default neutral.  Staying away from black helped me realize that I can use the clothes I already have to put together looks that feel right for warmer weather, whereas before I would have said that I have very few clothes that I like to wear during the summer.  I thought I would run out of steam when it came to avoiding black, but the looks from Thursday and Friday are actually my favorites, which suggests I was learning to think about my clothes even more creatively as the week went on.


  • Has writing or reading "style" blogs helped you to identify blind spots in your styling tendencies?  Which ones?
  • Have you ever tried "trendy" styling techniques like the cuffed khakis?  Can you execute them or do you fail miserably, like I did?
  • Did anyone notice that I'm not wearing any prints? (Unless you count stripes, which I don't.) What's up with that?  Looks like I might have my next styling challenge.


Katie from Interrobangs Anonymous said...

So hard to pick a favorite! I really like the pale-on-pale ensemble, but I think my favorite is the red jacket combo. Ah, to have a sibling you can share clothes with - I'm jealous!

What reading style blogs has done for me is give me new eyes with which to examine what I wear and a new appreciation for what clothing can be positioned to represent. It's no longer just what covers me, it's an outward extension of who I am and what I need to do that day. Plus, blogs helped me learn to love patterns.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Wow, how great do you look in that red jacket? And your new white wedge sling-backs will serve you well this summer, I have a feeling.

Reading style blogs has taught me to maximize the range of my closet! Style bloggers are so resourceful, and I admire them for it. I so often perceive of articles of clothing as one-trick ponies, merely able to strike single notes of expression. But style blogs remind me that single garments can have varied valences of expression, if only we wear the clothes creatively. I love that! Plus, to me reading style blogs is similar to dabbling in a sister's closet. :)

- Anne-Marie

Scholar Style Guide said...

*sisters' closets, ahem

- AM

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

I really like all of these outfits. I totally hear you on the "missing black" part. I was so happy to be able to throw on a simple grey tee and black pants today.
I don't think you failed at the cuffed khakis. In fact, I thought you look awesome. Try it again on a "low" exposure day (like a reading or studying day). I can see this same look with a cute jacket or 3/4 length skirt.

Vickie said...

I wasn't even gone 24 hours before you were wearing my clothes. Oh how the tides have changed in the last 10 years. I do love the red jacket and found it's missing belt in elle dub's closet last week, so hopefully I'll wear it more often when I get back.

That purple dress was a steal at H&M, which is why I also own it in pink, but I never did anything other than adding a sweater or switching belts- I like this look a lot.

You've definitely gotten more creative with my closet than I usually am, and I'm excited to raid your huge closet when I get back. :-)

Nate C said...

Yay for heels. And Yay for trying new things. I find that looking slightly-to-exceedingly ridiculous from time to time helps me to expand my fashion forte' as well as forcing me to remember that I wear the clothes, not the other way around.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

Rad, I'll think about trying the cuffed khaki look again sometime. Maybe if I'd worn them with a brighter top they wouldn't have rubbed me the wrong way.

While it is great to have access to my sister's clothes, I also like the way that style blogs help me to think of new ways to style the clothes I already have.