I’m going to tell you a secret, Internet: I hate to shop. Haaaaate it. I like clothes, and I like to have nice things to wear, but the actual going to the store and shopping for the clothes makes me crazy. Craaaaazy. Ugh.
I’m not kidding.
In order to make the actual shopping less painful, I do a lot of online browsing; that way, I know what’s out there before I commit myself to driving to the mall or paying for shipping. And before I’ll buy anything, I have to be 100% sure I will wear it. Otherwise, forget it.
(That’s the secret to the tightly-edited closet, you all: Don’t buy anything that, as my friend Rachel says, you cannot wait to wear. Ambivalent about that dress? Put it back! In fact, I like to give myself a little time to think before I pull the trigger and buy. You’d be surprised how often I decide that I don’t really need whatever it is I thought I couldn’t live without. Truly.)
Recently, in my online wanderings, I saw this dress — at J. Crew, of course — and I totally fell in love.
Eventually, I realized that what I really loved wasn’t the dress itself but the way it was styled. I’m all about layers — so easy to do — and putting the collared chambray shirt under a tunic or tee dress, like this one, totally changes the look.
Over Memorial Day, I picked up a t-shirt dress at Old Navy (sorry, no longer available on line!). I’m not a huge fan of the t-shirt dress — I don’t really have the right shape for that style — but this dress had potential, if only because the colors were terrific and the price was right ($15, you all! Score!). The dress would need a little restyling, but that would be easy; I could layer it over my chambray shirt and get exactly the look I was — well, looking for. Perfect.
Despite the crazy low price, this dress is a good investment piece, because I can restyle it so many ways: over a button down or tee, under a cardi or pullover, with sandals this summer and tights and ballet flats in the fall. Love.
The next time you’re in a shopping mood, think less about looking for individual pieces and more about searching for looks you like. Catalogs and magazines are a good source of inspiration, as are sites like Pinterest. Instead of assuming that a specific garment is itself appealing, really dissect the details: Are you drawn to the color? the shape? the styling? Try replicating looks with your current closet — add a belt to a dress or layer a short sleeved tee over a long sleeved shirt. Mix colors and patterns. Take pictures so you can look, objectively, at your outfits. You’ll be surprised at what’s already in your closet and what you can do with it. I promise.