Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WWW: Cardigans, Trendy Tank, and Wedges

For my next list of wardrobe workhorses, I'm giving you a single type of item I've purchased repeatedly, a single item I've worn repeatedly, and a type of shoe I couldn't live without.

Composition: Cardigans
These cardigans are from Gap, NY&Co, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, and H&M.


I think we led you to believe we'd be talking about single items of apparel that we find ourselves wearing frequently.  Once upon a time, I only owned one cardigan, so that counts, right?  It was the cream one in the upper right hand corner.  Next came a black one and the bright purple one.  Then came turquoise, another black, gray, blue, and coral ones.  I've even got a few that haven't been photographed yet.  So while this is a lot of items, rather than a single item, I'm still counting "cardigan" as a wardrobe workhorse because I could feasibly wear a cardigan with every single other thing in my closet.  If I had to get rid of all but two, I'd keep a black one and one of the colored ones.  I'm always cold, so cardigans are very functional, but I also like how they can completely transform an outfit.  I almost never button them all the way up, and I usually push up the sleeves without realizing it, but any given cardigan can look different depending on how you style it, as well.  Sadly, I don't own any short sleeved cardigans, but thanks to my experimentation with cuffing this summer, I don't need to buy any.  I should do a statistical analysis to see how many days I wear a cardigan during any given month.

Composition: Trendy Tank
This one's from Gap, and I even got it on clearance!

Chances are, you already know how much I love this tank.  I've been singing its praises all summer!  But I wanted to include it as an official wardrobe workhorse to make the point that it's not only "classic" items which can be multi-functional.  Sure, stripes aren't especially radical as far as prints go, but I'll fully admit that I hunted this tank down precisely because breton stripes were on-trend this summer and I loved them on everyone else.  Plus, the tank demonstrates another habit of mine.  About once per season, I buy a new piece that I love, and I wear it to death.  Anne-Marie recently wrote about how her lengthy search for the right romper paid off, and I certainly feel that way about this tank. 

And now that I've said again how much I love it, can we all hold a moment of silence for this tank?  I ruined it this weekend.  After wearing it to a Labor Day weekend cookout, I got bleach on it while trying to bleach my favorite white shorts (also seen above).  The shorts were recovered, and the tank was not.  It feels like a somewhat fitting symbolic end to my summer, no?

Composition: Wedges
The white ones are MIA and the black ones are Lauren by Ralph Lauren.


I'm prepared to make the following admission, with full knowledge that it might make me sound completely stupid: a pair of black wedges was the first thing that made me feel like I might "belong" in graduate school.  My first class was a survey of critical and literary theory (with this anthology: talk about intimidating), and I was pretty sure they were all speaking in a foreign language.  But on the second week, my professor wore the most fabulous pair of black leather wedges I had ever seen.  At that point, I thought, "Okay, maybe I can find a place for myself here."  Anne-Marie was in that class, too, and we drooled over those heels for months.  When the plastic heel split on the pair I'd been wearing from Target, I invested in this pair of wedges (the most expensive shoes I own), and I've worn them consistently for the past two years.  When summer came around, I purchased this pair of white wedges and wrote about how I hoped they would serve as a simple, inexpensive way to rejuvenate my summer wardrobe.  I think the collage of all the looks I've paired them with demonstrates that this mission was accomplished! And two years later, I can clack-clack-clack down the hall with confidence in these black wedges because I can hold my own in almost any conversation about critical theory.

  • What trendy pieces have been in constant rotation in your wardrobe this summer?  Do you have an on-trend piece that you intend to remix frequently for fall?
  • Where's your favorite place to buy cardigans?  (Maybe don't answer that question-- I certainly don't need any more.)
  • How much are you willing to spend on a pair of shoes?  I like to keep it under $40, but I paid almost $100 for these wedges, and they've turned out to be a much better bargain than some less expensive shoes if you consider price-per-wear.
  • What's the most intimidating class you've ever enrolled in?  How did it turn out?


Clare said...

Check, check, and check! These are all such great staple wardrobe items that seem to always look updated and on-trend. I love that striped tank!

I had the HARDEST class ever my first quarter of graduate school. I was way out of my league, with a bunch of advanced Anthro PhD students who talked in that special way that only Anthro PhD students can. In any case, I worked my ass off, met with the professors once a week, and pulled it off. Granted, it still sucked and caused me all kinds of stress, but I did it, which was awesome.

Miss. Studios said...

Cardigans were my another choice I had in mind as a workhorse item! You read my mind again. It is just simply sad that I do not wear cardigans, scarfs, or tights as much because the seasons has not yet quite returned and that I might not be able to include them all. We need to do this again sometime later this year:)

One trendy piece I got the most use out of this summer was my zara beige skirt. This was not my usual type but it became my go-to piece. I might wear this more with cardigans, tights and scarfs in fall.

Plummy said...

Great staples! Cardigans were on my list too, although I haven't collected quite as many as you. :) As for shoes, I find recently that I will either buy them at the Goodwill (usually for a grand total of $4!) or I will buy them at an expensive store, like Nordstrom. I have feet and ankle problems, and am working in a classroom, so I need comfy shoes. While I love finding the great deals at the Goodwill, I also find that those buys tend to be less practical ('only $4' can be a great motivator!) and if I save up for the real deal, then I tend to get a better workhorse shoe--one that will last longer, that I will wear more often, and will eventually get a super low price per wear. I just bought a pair of $4 oxford flats from the Goodwill (leather Naturalizers!), but I am also saving up for a pair of Frye boots (which will probably run me at least $150 even if I buy them used). If I do get the Frye boots, they will be my most expensive shoe to date, but from what I've heard they will last me at least 10-15 years and will be super comfy. I move a lot, so a nice pair of shoes that will last me forever is very appealing! It's an interesting balance!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Clare, I had a hard time with the transition back to grad school, as well. At first it felt like a huge disadvantage that I had been out in "the real world" for four years between, but as I got more acclimated within the discourse, I ended up being very glad I took that time away.

MS, a beige skirt sounds totally versatile! And Plummy, I share your love for Frye boots! But I'll admit I'm a snob when it comes to shoes- I can't imagine wearing them secondhand, so I don't even look at them when I thrift shop. I'm sure I'm missing out.

Considering AM's post on blazers yesterday, I can't help but notice that I wear cardigans in much the same way that she wears blazers. I like blazers, but I consider them "too expensive," so I don't own any that I wear regularly. (Though I have a few non-blazer jackets in rotation.) I have so many cardigans, though, that I surely haven't saved any money by making that choice versus buying a few staple jackets. Does anyone else feel like they've done this? I think I might hold off on buying cardigans for a while and buy a really great jacket instead.


A-Dubs said...

These are excellent work horses, to be sure. And I enjoy your story of shoe-related grad school solidarity.

The one trend besides stripes - but you've already covered those so very, very well here - I've had surprising luck with this year is the blazer-as-cardigan-or-wrap. I switched out my formal occasion wrap last summer and brought in a satin-finish cotton blazer with 3/4 sleeves. And that was just the beginning of my ongoing blazer love. Sadly, however, they do NOT fit in or around a clutch as well as the once popular wrap. . .

Anonymous said...

I really love how you're focusing on the workhorse categories in your closet. And cardigans are definitely workhorses in my closet. They are perfect for transitional months, they quickly change the look of a whole outfit, they're warm and add the instant interest of layers.

I was slow to get on the wedge-loving train, but I'm definitely on it now. I can't believe I lasted so long without a pair of wedges in my closet, because they work with just about everything. And as you demonstrated with your pictures, they bring such interest and polish to any look.

Great post!

E-Jo said...

Another great set of workhorses! Your black wedges story is a great example of the way style mentors can actually be intellectual/ academic mentors. I remember my advisor for my Master's always had wicked shoes to match her wicked smarts. It made me realize that my liking shoes didn't mean no one would take me seriously intellectually.

I always thought I wasn't a fan of wedges yet I realized this summer as I bought my 5th pair of wedges that that probably isn't true. They're clearly a sort of sneaky workhorse for me.

Also, I like how all the pictures allow for lots of cute Oscar shots!

Miranda said...

I love the idea of the shoes helping you feel more like a graduate student back in the day! As someone who studies material culture, I really believe in the importance of these items as things that help us to narrate ourselves and culturally situate ourselves.

But I also have to own up: your link to the Norton made me feel good and remind me where _I'm_ coming from. Because back when I was a grad student, I wrote 2 of the critical introductions and did all the annotations/footnotes for 2 of the textual selections for the second edition. And it reminded me of a moment when I got to feel like a professional early on!

Scholar Style Guide said...

Ladies, thanks for making the point about the portability of cardigans. This is one of the main reasons I love them, too, but I forgot about it! It's so easy to throw one in my bag in case the weather cools down while I'm out. (And I keep one in my office, which I actually needed in class last night!)

Miranda, will you email me and tell me which introductions you wrote? I'm fascinated. And to pay you a compliment, my professor (who is even more brilliant than she is stylish, hands down) told us that she selected the Norton precisely *because* the introductory glosses to each article were so good. And I can't overstate how helpful they were to me when I was a fledgling grad student, nor could I count the number of times I've gone back to skim them before I read something else one of the theorists has written.


Michelle said...

Sorry, Liz, I might be tempting you when you don't want to be...but have you looked at cardigans at Boden? They are very soft...and colorful! (But either dry clean or flat dry & iron--I do the latter because I'd rather not pay a hefty dry cleaning bill for all my sundry Boden items.)