Earth Day everyday: a resource guide to shopping new-to-you in the Twin Cities

guilt-free style: practicing sustainable consumerism – part 2

Today we celebrate Earth Day. This month’s posts honor the tenets of Earth Day by exploring how we, as clothing consumers, can reduce our impact on the environment in practical, doable ways and feel great about how we look at the same time. Read on – knowledge leads to action.

I heart resale

We shouldn’t have to choose between feeling good about how we look and feeling good about what we buy.

In my last post, I discussed the human rights and environmental implications of the manufacture of most new clothing today. Super cheerful stuff (NOT), but extremely important.

So what do we do about it? Here’s my formula for feeling good about how we look, AND feeling good about what we buy.

We can practice sustainable consumerism with our wardrobes (and the rest of our stuff, really) by:

  1. Maximizing the functionality of your existing wardrobe.
  2. Shopping new-to-you whenever possible when purchasing clothing.
  3. When buying new, shopping ethically.

Below is a resource guide for shopping new-to-you in the Twin Cities – use this as a tool to take action as a sustainable consumer. We are fortunate to have many, many resale shops here, making our choices for new-to-you clothing easy to find and wide in selection.

Resale shops range from non-profit/charitable organization thrift stores to upscale couture consignment shops. Thrift stores have wonderful finds and are economically the most beneficial, but require more searching and patience.

Consignment/resale shops do the editing for us, selecting high-quality, up-to-date garments that are in good condition before putting them on the sales floor. The price point at consignment stores is typically 1/3 or less of the retail price, creating an affordable way to purchase better-made, longer-lasting garments while keeping those garments in the use stream – rather than the waste stream – at the same time. Most shops also carry accessories and jewelry, handbags, and shoes in good condition.

This list gives a good overview of the wide range of consignment/resale shops in the Twin Cities. If you have a favorite that isn’t on the list, please do include it in the comments below. I’ve organized the guide by primary stock categories, typical price range (remember – 1/3 or less of retail prices, so $ means many items are under $10!), how the resale process works, and whether it’s an independent shop or a franchise.

In upcoming posts, I will feature specific stores to give a closer look at the shops I typically choose for my clients and why. I’ll also discuss where to shop ethically when buying new. If you have a favorite consignment/resale shop or ethical brand you’d like to see featured, comment below!

shopping new-to-you in the Twin Cities: a resource guide

women and men

Clothes Mentor (multiple locations)   website

Women’s sizes 0-26 | $ – $$ | Mall brands – designer | Resale Process: cash outright | Minnesota-based national franchise

Elite Repeat (St. Paul)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16 | $$ | High-level and designer brands | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Encore (St. Paul)   facebook page

Women’s sizes 0-26 | $$ | High-level and designer brands | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Encore Designer Consignment Boutique (Eden Prairie)   website

Women’s sizes 0-3X | $$ – $$$ | High-level and designer brands | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Nu Look (Minneapolis)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16, Men’s, Children’s | $$ – $$$ | High-level and designer brands | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Second Début (St. Louis Park)   website

Women’s – all sizes, Men’s | $$ – $$$ | High-level and designer brands | Resale process: donated goods from Goodwill | Non-profit organization

Style Encore (multiple locations)   website

Women’s sizes 0-4X | $ – $$$ | Mall brands – designer | Resale process: cash outright | Minnesota-based national franchise

Turn Style (multiple locations)   website

Women’s – all sizes, Men’s, Children’s | $ – $$$ | Mall brands – designer | Resale process: consignment | National franchise

high-end/designer/couture

Fashion Avenue & Fashion Avenue 2 (Edina, Wayzata)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16, Men’s | $$ – $$$$ | High-level brands – Couture | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

June (Minneapolis)   website

Women’s sizes XS – L | $$$ – $$$$ | Designer and couture | Resale process: cash outright | Independent shop

Mona Williams (Mall of America)   website

Women’s sizes 0-14 | $$$ – $$$$ | Designer and couture | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Rodeo Drive (Minneapolis)   website

Women’s sizes 0-18 | $$ – $$$$ | High-level brands – couture | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

eclectic/vintage

b.  (Minneapolis)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16, Men’s | $ – $$ | Streetwear and vintage | Resale process: cash outright or store credit | Independent shop

Buffalo Exchange (multiple locations)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16, Men’s | $ – $$ | Mall brands and vintage | Resale process: cash outright or store trade| National franchise

Everyday People (St. Paul)   website

Women’s 0-16, Men’s | $ – $$ | Funky and vintage | Resale process: cash outright | Independent shop

My Sister’s Closet (Minneapolis)   website

Women’s sizes 0-16 | $$ – $$$ | High-level brands, designer, vintage | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

teen/young adult

Gina+Will (Minneapolis)   website

Girl’s sizes 0-3X, Guy’s | $ | Mall brands | Resale process: donated goods from Goodwill | Non-profit organization

NTY Clothing Exchange (multiple locations)   website

Girl’s sizes 1-19, Guy’s | $ | Mall brands | Resale process: cash outright or store credit | Minnesota-based national franchise

Plato’s Closet (multiple locations)   website

Girl’s sizes 0-20, Guy’s | $ | Mall brands | Resale process: cash outright or store trade | Minnesota-based national franchise

children

(Children’s sizes only)
Children’s Orchard (multiple locations)   website

Baby – Kid’s size 16 | $ | Resale process: cash outright or store credit | Minnesota-based national franchise

Kid’s Carousel (Eagan)   website

Baby – Kid’s size 16 | $ | Resale process: cash outright | Independent shop

Once Upon a Child (multiple locations)   website

Baby – Kid’s size 16 | $ | Resale process: cash outright | Minnesota-based national franchise

(Children’s sections)
Nu Look (Minneapolis)   website

Baby – Kid’s size 16 | $ – $$ | Resale process: consignment | Independent shop

Turn Style (multiple locations)   website

Kid’s sizes 2T – 16 | $ | Resale process: consignment | National franchise

Choose-to-Reuse

trends for fall 2015

As the weather becomes crisp and the idea of layering and cozying up in sweaters becomes appealing, it’s time to take stock of your wardrobe to shift into fall. While retailers would like you to purchase a whole new fall wardrobe, there are likely many items you already own that can be paired in new ways to create outfits that feel new and contemporary.

Adding “on trend” accessories, shoes, and colors can help outfits feel fresh in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. And many accessories or statement pieces can be found new-to-you.

Fashion designer Caroline Herrera’s statement, “Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas, but what makes it new is the way you put it together,” is one of my favorites (here and here). I keep coming back to it because it is so. very. true.

what goes around comes around

When you follow fashion trends, you see things come around again and again. Style tweaks or different pairings make them contemporary for the time. Take jumpsuits: very on trend right now, as they were in the 70s and again in the 90s.

trends for fall 2015: jumpsuits across the decades

Jumpsuits – 1970s denim, 1990s floral, contemporary denim : Photos – Pinterest: terrebella*moda; Etsy: Twitch Vintage; Young at Style

The contemporary jumpsuit on the right is full body denim on denim, a trend that is still going strong. I love the trend, but the jumpsuit gives me pause. Perhaps it’s because I rocked both the 70s (good times grade-school fashion) and the 90s versions (remember, Amy?? I know you do), and three times around is just one too many. But that’s just me – if you love the jumpsuit look, go for it! And if you have one from the 70s hanging around in your closet, you’re golden – the contemporary versions are channeling that vintage look.

The same goes for culottes and flared jeans: both big in the 70s, flares again in the 2000s, and both big again now. Denim flared culottes are the ultimate mash-up. Wear culottes with a heeled ankle boot, ankle-strap pump, or loafer and flares with wedges or heels to highlight the cut.

trends for fall 2015: flares and culottes

Denim on denim flares, camel culottes, flared denim culottes : Photos – Style is my Pudding; Mango; Anthropologie

fall colors

Burnt orange, oxblood (a very dark burgundy), olive and navy paired together, and neutrals are hot colors this fall. A scarf, handbag or shoes in one of these rich, saturated colors can bring an updated look to a classic outfit, or a single statement piece highlights the trend.

trends for fall 2015: fall colors

Fall colors – neutrals, burnt orange, olive and navy, oxblood and camel : Photos – Memorandum; Always Becoming; Pinterest: Mamabee; Catherine Nicole

Neutrals like winter white, taupe, camel, grey, and oatmeal can be paired with any of the bolder colors or worn on their own in a soft mélange of knits and other fluid fabrics. Be careful to complement skin tone and hair color when wearing neutrals, as they can wash out your complexion if not the right mix for your coloring. Gingham (another classic that’s come back around) continues from spring and summer; navy, oxblood, or black gingham pair well with olive and camel for fall.

 

accessories

Tassels on necklaces, handbags, and shoes. Rope belts (with tassels too). Blanket scarves, silk scarves, and bandanas. Surprisingly, brooches. All are hot accessories this season. Again, many of these are retro – pull out your mother’s vintage silk scarf or brooch to change up the look of an outfit. Tie a scarf or bandana in a classic knot around the neck or wrist or wear a large silk scarf rolled and draped from the neck loose and long. And the stylish Panama hat of summer has morphed into the wide-brimmed fedora for cooler weather.

trends for fall 2015: accessories

 

trends for fall 2015: scarves

Bandana, classic silk scarf, burnt orange blanket scarf : Photos – WhoWhatWear; Pinterest: Style Spy; Still Being Molly

shoes

Ankle-strap pumps, sandals, and flats, ankle boots with a slightly taller shaft, and classic loafers and brogues (aka oxfords) are all over the style blogs right now. Ankle straps that buckle or tie (tassels show up here as well) add a lovely embellishment to classic styles. Ankle boots with a slightly taller shaft and chunkier low or mid-heels appear in classic colors and in fashion-forward prints. Loafers and lace-up brogues in non-traditional colors riff on menswear for a sleek, sophisticated look.

trends for fall 2015: shoes

 

There is a lot of room for expressing your own personal style with this season’s trends. You can go for a classic, clean-lined tailored look, a retro look – both mod-60s or retro-70s, or a softer look with neutrals combined with black or white. And don’t be afraid to mix it up a little and try a color or pairing you haven’t before or even embrace a trend full-on – vintage and new-to-you finds are the perfect way to be bold with styles you’ve never tried or want to wear a second (or third) time around. Maybe I will too.

Yeah. I rocked it.

Yeah. I rocked the jumpsuit.

fun in the sun redux

My last post featured casual dressing for summer fun. Some reader feedback raised the question of “age-appropriate” summer clothing for 50+ women; namely, “Can I wear that?” To which I answered, “YES!”

“My arms are jiggly.” “My thighs have cellulite.”

“My knees look fat.” “My skin is wrinkly.”

I hear these mantras and more from so many women. I grapple with these thoughts too, but have worked hard (and still am) to see them for what they are: social “rules” that are not only arbitrary, but also ridiculous. Human beings are not robots – we are organic beings that age, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We shouldn’t feel shame about it, and we shouldn’t have to hide it.

I feel that clothing should be context-appropriate rather than age-appropriate and that women should feel comfortable, both physically and style-wise, in what they are wearing. Proper fit and cuts are important, because they contribute to feeling comfortable and confident. But a woman should not think she can’t go sleeveless or wear shorts or sundresses just because she is “of a certain age.” If it’s hot out, why should we have to be miserable?

Some choices of more coverage are made because of style preferences. That I embrace fully. If you like wearing breezy linen tops with or without sleeves, great! If you prefer wearing walking-length shorts rather than shorter inseams because they are more comfortable, by all means do.

When it’s hot, cool comfort is of the essence. Here are some additional choices for summer fun.

fun in the sun redux
Pair walking shorts with lightweight tops and comfortable shoes or sandals. Throw on a hat for sun coverage and accessorize simply with a necklace or bracelet.
fun in the sun redux 2

Choose wide-leg palazzo pants or capris in bold patterns or white/bright trousers for cooler days or evenings. Pair them with a tunic or a gauzy blouse over a camisole, or go sleeveless. Add a flat or platform sandal and bring a sheer cardigan if the night gets chilly.

fun in the sun redux 3
Wear a full knee-length or midi skirt or lightweight culottes with an oversized linen collared shirt loosely tucked or tied at the waist for definition or a sleeved or sleeveless belted shirt-dress. Throw on some comfort sandals, grab a straw tote and enjoy the sunshine!

wardrobe refresh: out with the old, in with the, well, old

caroline herrera quote

Earlier this month, I did a Wardrobe Consult with a client – sometimes these involve purging a lot of clothes that are outdated, worn out, or ill-fitting and replacing them with new to you clothing that offers a lot more fun and functionality for the client. Other times, we purge very little, but the client feels like they have a whole new wardrobe when we’re finished – this was one of those times.

Looking at different ways to pair clothing can increase the options in your existing wardrobe and transform it from a source of immense frustration to one of joy and confidence. By incorporating items that are worn very little because you’re not sure how to wear them, making old standards feel exciting again by wearing them with other items than before, and adding accessories like scarves, necklaces, and belts into the mix, clothing that feels ordinary or boring can instantly become contemporary and fresh.

Following are some of the things I discuss with my clients as we evaluate their wardrobes and re-imagine outfits in new ways:

the third piece rule

The “third piece rule” is something being talked about on many fashion blogs. It is an easy, memorable, and highly effective way to make your clothing go from mere coverage to a polished outfit. Simply add a third piece to what you are wearing. That’s it. You have to put on a top (1) and a bottom (2) for coverage; then add a jacket, scarf, distinctive sweater, or statement necklace (3) – instant ensemble! You can even feel daring and add a 4th and 5th element, like a belt, hat, or bracelet to further express your personal style.

Photo: Fashion Me Now - third piece rule

Third piece rule: adding the scarf makes a simple jeans and sweater combo an elegant casual ensemble. The hat adds even more personal style. Photo: Fashion Me Now

 

look for contrasting and saturated colors to add vibrancy to outfits

Use black to add dimension to outfits by creating a stronger contrast to colors, and use white to add brightness. If the outfit in the photo above included blue denim jeans instead of white, the crisp contrast between the sweater and jeans would have been lost, making the outfit much less striking. Saturated colors tend to bring out the warmth in any skin tone – unsaturated, or muted colors can wash out your complexion.

pair prints with prints

Don’t be afraid to wear prints with prints! Not every print goes together, but many do, and it adds spark and confidence to your outfit when you give it a go. Start small: try pairing plaid or herringbone dress pants with a bold floral or geometric print shirt or jacket. The pattern in the pants serves as texture and adds dimension and polish to the outfit. With all print pairings, one print should be smaller while the other should be bold – two prints of the same size compete rather than complement each other. Finding prints that share a common color can help pull them together as well.

For a bright, fresh look, pair stripes with florals – it is very on trend this spring and is a lot of fun. In the casual outfit below, the small floral print on the scarf becomes a texture next to the bold stripes of the sweater, and the navy and pink contrast each other nicely. In the dress casual combination, blue denim and small stripes pair well with the blue tones in the vivid floral pencil skirt; gray muted stripes complement the bold gray and red floral blouse in the dress ensemble.

Stripes and Florals

 

accessorize, accessorize, accessorize

Adding a belt, scarf, necklace, bracelet, or a combination of the above to an outfit adds polish and shows that you think about what you are wearing, which ultimately conveys confidence. All of us have jewelry in our drawers – be they vintage pieces from our mothers and grandmothers, costume jewelry, or gorgeous handmade works of art. Don’t let them languish! They are a perfect way to add interest and balance to an outfit. And scarves can add a pop of color, texture, or pattern to bring energy to what you are wearing.

shoes can make or break an outfit

Shoes are really important. Yes, for comfort; and also for how an outfit comes together. The shape of the toe, the vamp (covers the top of the foot), and the weight and height of the heel can change the balance of visual lines created by your outfit, whether you are wearing pants or a skirt/dress. The level of dress of the shoe can dramatically change an outfit, as can the color.

it’s all about balance

This is the statement I make most often with my clients. It’s not about looking tall, or looking thin, or looking whatever. It’s about balance. Proper fit and cuts for your body create balanced lines, which look beautiful. Working with items that fit your body well makes dressing so much easier and so much more fun.

With these ideas in mind, try shopping in your own closet for new outfits – there are likely many items lurking in there that could feel new again when worn in different ways. Want help? Contact me today to set up a Wardrobe Consult.

fresh for spring (yes, SPRING!)

Spring arrives slowly here in Minnesota. We’ve been getting a taste of spring the past few days, and it is delicious. It never lasts in March, but we enjoy every moment when it’s here. And it puts me in the mood to think about warm weather wear.

Spring is all about newness; it makes you want to throw off the woolens and down coat and look fresh and bright, just like what’s beginning outside. It’s a time to look with clear eyes at your warm weather wardrobe and ask, “Does it make me feel great? Does it reflect what I want my personal style to be?”

Pairing items from your existing wardrobe in new ways and adding just one or two new key items or accessories can make outfits feel brand new and exciting to wear. Two trends for spring this year to try are denim all over and floral prints. Neither of these are new things, but how they’re presented this season feels contemporary and fresh. And they are classic, which appeals to me and to many of my clients – I want to feel current, but not buy a bunch of clothes that will be out of style in a year. And these may be items you already have in your wardrobe.

Spring Denim

First the denims. For a long time, it was passé to wear denim with denim – you were considered a cowboy wannabe. Now it’s all about the denim on denim! To avoid the cowboy look, pair two different washes together, like a dark wash jacket with a lighter jean, or a chambray shirt with a dark wash jean. Or pair any blue wash with another color denim jean – white is a particularly lovely contrast.

Add a bright accessory – a silk or faux-silk square scarf in a classic wrap-and-knot tie around the neck peeking out from a collared shirt or a lightweight gauzy long scarf with a denim jacket. They add color and a little warmth while the temps are still brisk. Ankle booties in lighter colors are a great transition shoe as well, and as the weather gets warmer, switch to a bold print flat or fun sneakers.

Spring Florals

Florals, particularly vintage-style bold patterns, are making a comeback. I’m starting to get past the slight shudder I have whenever I remember the many upholstery-like floral dresses I owned in the 80s and early 90s. Seeing floral fabrics in contemporary cuts is helping. A bold floral pencil skirt feels very sophisticated rather than like being swallowed in draperies, as does a pretty floral classic-cut A-line or shift dress that falls right above the knee.

Sheer peasant, or “boho” (short for bohemian), blouses are feminine and fun. These prints tend to be a little less bold and are great paired with jeans for a casual, polished look. Floral tunic-style blouses in heavier weight fabrics (not sheer) paired with narrow-leg ankle trousers or pants and flats or low heels make a great spring outfit for work. With both of these styles, it’s important to pair the loose, flowy top with a more tailored, close-fitting pant to add structure to the outfit.

When wearing floral prints, choose only one statement piece. Too many florals together gets too busy – one on its own stands out and shines. Or try pairing a large, bold floral with a smaller stripe – look for a common color, like navy, in the two prints that pulls them together. And add a floral bag, scarf, or flats to a denim on denim ensemble!

Consignment stores are a great place to find one or two new to you pieces to freshen your spring wardrobe. In the Twin Cities, Nu Look in Minneapolis and Elite Repeat in St. Paul are great places for finding designer denim pieces at a fraction of the retail cost. They both have great selections of scarves as well, as does Turnstyle (various locations) where you can also find many beautiful handbags. For high-end fun, try Fashion Avenue in Edina.