Friday, January 11, 2008

Fashion crisis

I've never understood how someone who cares so much about the way things look...

...can allow herself to look so run down.

Lately, I've hit a new low--and that's from someone whose everyday style is already marginal.

The ratty lingerie isn't the only symptom. I've been at the greasy ponytail, no-lipstick level for a while now.

So what's a frugal momma to do?

A friend suggested Missus Smartypants, a online fashion guru. Her writing doesn't live up to the $10 subscription. However, Missus Smartypants did get me thinking about accessories.

I needed a purse to replace the one that was stolen. Instead of neutrals, I picked up this Talbot's leather bag from Goodwill ($2.99) and a hemp version from Thrift Smart ($1.50).

That color reminded me of two long scarves in the coat closet--one pale blue, one chartreuse--with the Macy's beads you saw earlier somewhere in between.

Some combination of the above should brighten my secondhand collection of Chico's black basics. Now I'm down to a couple of jackets, a haircut, some makeup.

Oh, and a whole new body. But that might take a while.

52 comments:

Ewokgirl said...

Just don't let your kids cut your hair this time. ;-)

That Talbots purse is really pretty. I really like that color, but I never wear/carry it myself because I look terrible in lime. But I like to see it on others. Enjoy your new things!

Anonymous said...

The best thing I ever did was to buy a little red purse with "cowgirl" stitching all over it. It makes me feel happy just carrying it! And it spurred a whole little craze of not being scared to pick up a little red in thrifted pillows and art. It's my favorite color and a real pick-me-up! Good luck with your return from the other side of "fashion by Mom". We have all been there, or are still there, or could be there again!

Roslyn
Alberta Canada

Stefanie said...

One step at a time, adding colors adds energy, and before your know it POOF! Remember to be kind to yourself!

Misti said...

I do have to ask; what you put in italics...did someone actually say that to you!? Cause if so...that's just not appropriate, in any setting.

However, I think it's awesome that you're looking to update your look.

And I agree, no more letting the kids wield the scissors!

Domestic Accident said...

A great handbag will perk up any woman's look. Especially in that divine color!

Wendy said...

Great job, Meredith.

Do you have a treadmill? If so, it might be a good idea to post your miles (walking or running) here on your blog, as a way to keep you accountable. Just a thought. Or, keeping a food journal helps too. See dailyplate.com for a free resource.

Anonymous said...

Mommy often takes a back seat in life when children are young! Give yourself 40 minutes a day somewhere if you can--20 minutes for exercise (walking, stationary bike, treadmill) and 20 minutes at the end of the day for a nice, warm bath after the kiddos are down. I have committed to 20 minutes/day on my stationary bike, and it is doing wonders for my energy, stamina, and toosh! It's true when one feels in shape, clothes are not quite as important too. You can just jump into a pair of jeans, grab that lime bag of yours and away you go!

debby said...

I've used the environment and my frugality as excuses not to invest in myself and after Christmas, that thinking had to go!

I now do makeup and hair (not a ponytail) every day. I got a new pair of glasses. I'm slowly working on the clothes.

Good luck, and be kind to yourself.

TracyMichele said...

Loving the additions! I have GOT to get to your thrift stores! :)

No need to save all these accessories for a black outfit.. toss them on with jeans and a white t-shirt. What do you have in the "cute shoe" category. I am SURE you have something tucked away...

Daughter of the King said...

I too am a Thrift shop girl...buy almost all of my handbags there...what deals....
you'll make it...a little liptstick, blush..mascara...
Deby

Shannon@Idylwild said...

I was siting here in my black yoga pants and hubby's tshirt thinking the same thing - when did I start to look like a caricture of the hassled stay at home mom? Well, no more!
I love the colors you picked up. My whole wardrobe is navy and black so tomarrow I'm going on a color quest!
BTW, I haven't forgotten the picture of the dedication gown - it's at the cleaners.

Alexandra said...

I put on foundation, blush and lipstick before I pull the car out of the garage. It's the only time I am near a good mirror and the children are all accounted for, strapped in and quiet.;)

Short hair is the easiest, but if you go with longer hair, there are always pretty clips. I try different quick updo's with different size clips. Easy and pretty, and it hides greasy hair. ;0

Karen said...

Wow, great finds, especially the leather purse. I've always admired people who use color and make color work.. you are wise to think of coordinating items right away, especially with a strong color - now you have themes! Great job!

April said...

Meredith... Have you ever considered coordinating a blogger's clothes swap? Or just posting your size on your blog? So many of us are faithful readers and may have lovely items sitting around our home that we would love to donate to one of our favorite bloggers. I have Talbots shirtdresses in my closet waiting to be used by someone sometime.

Just an idea!

TJ said...

Good for you thinking of yourself! And those thrift shop purses go far! I spent 2.50 or so on my pink snakeskin print purse several years ago. I still get compliments on it today!

Margo said...

yeah, what is it about motherhood that somehow has me looking frumpy?? I always vowed I wouldn't be a mom whose kids looked cute while I looked unkempt. . . Actually, I take conscious steps to look good every day - my rule is no sweats or grungy Tshirts for everyday.
You have some lovely colors collected! I find colors mix well if you have a piece of jewelry or scarf to tie them together (I avoid prints). Best wishes!

mama k said...

Makeup and a decent pair of jeans. I find that I look and feel better when I have those two items on.
I am really loving BareMinerals, but they are pretty pricey. My mom gave me a GC to Ulta for xmas though so I can purchase some more. My starter kit has lasted almost a year now and I only need to currently replace the mineral veil component. Not a bad deal I think. Also, since they are a powder, they will not go racid like liquid makeups.

Jeana said...

I know it's annoying when your readers look past the main focus of your post and fixate on a small detail, so before I fixate I'll say that I love your new finds.

However.

I'm with Misti, I'm all distracted with whether someone actually said that?!

Christi said...

I've fallen into the same trap! I do have a nice haircut, but rarely do I actually style it. And clothes? Yes, they definitely need some updating.

I've already started on the whole new body part - it'll take awhile, but be oh-so-worth it!

Cyndi Lewis said...

I just caught an Oprah show the other day (something I do not partake in often)and she had Sara Jessica Parker on, showing her new line of clothing, "Bitten". Everything in the line: clothes, shoes, coats, acessories, etc. is under $20. I know it's not thrift store frugal but for stylish, brand new clothing that is really good. I haven't gone to the store to check out the quality and I don't know who/where it is manufactured but it did pique my interest. I don't remember the name of the store that carries the line but you can look up "Bitten" on google and you'll find it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Meredith. I feel ya. I also have been a little too comfortable with no makeup and a ponytail. So I had my hair cut - which will force me to do it everyday (it's shorter).

And I've been buying clothes and shoes that are all the same color family (or could all work together). It has made me feel like I have a larger wardrobe because literally everything can be mixed and matched. (I've stuck to browns - black is a little too harsh with my coloring)

And then the fun purses you bought can come in and splash some color. I seriously want to go shopping with you! LOL!

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I thought it was just me! I love purses, shoes, make up too. But, honestly, I haven't washed my hair since Wednesday (although I'm getting ready to shower) and lately my jeans are the fanciest thing on my body.
It's a good day when my sweats dont' make an appearance. I agree with keeping minimal make up in the car.
I did that last year (just keeping a small bag in the car- with tweezers because outside sunlight is great at showing all those wayward hairs) and I looked better than I do now. It's like we seem invisible to ourselves after the kids come. Another good reminder Meredith. Love the lime purses.
I'm going to go get my red Hype purse out of the closet after I shower.

MoneyDummy said...

Missus Smartypants was really helpful in helping me learn what styles look good on me, and why I felt the way I did about certain looks. She also gave me a vague idea of what to look for and think about in the accessory development. However, her shopping picks are NOT for the frugal minded. Heck, they're not even for the middle-class minded. I liked looking at them to see, "Oh! That's how this popular fashion applies to my body type," but in the end I let my subscription lapse.

Anonymous said...

I love the green items and the price I even like better! I know I am currently in a frump and need to get out. It seems when I am changing in a different direction, or something happens is when this happens. I agree with you I could head on over to certain sites claiming that can make a new me or at least help me choose things to accent what I have to work with. But part of me being frugal is the price to pay for this when maybe I can search on the internet for ideas for FREE. or maybe find someone that has great style on the net and is willing to help me through good will. I have some attributes that I really want to hide like a poochy tummy, and I am petite 5'4 so I would look up that. Face shape too is something to look up and figure what cuts, or hair styles look best for my face. We probably can all do better if we strive, at least I know I can big time :)
Renee
Mama to four~ 13,5,3,23 months
rbrown7997@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

oooooo, Fabulous lime purse find! It will go with everything : )

I used to wear tons of blue-reds (remember Color Me Beautiful? I am a winter and LOOOVE reds), but after pregnancies developed rosacea and can only decorate with red, now. If worn near my face, I blaze like a neon sign (and have gotten comments like: Are you okay?! ).

So, cornflower blue, navy, brown + pure white, blue-plum, and most shades of green (no olive) feel better.

I still carry a red purse, though.

dm

Milehimama said...

If you subscribe to Leanne Ely's (free) email newsletter, you get a or article included. They're sisters.
Saving Dinner, Leanne's book and website, has a subscription plan but she does send out a free, eating healthy newsletter too.

Shannon@Idylwild said...

Oprah's website has some good tips. I'm not generally fond of her, but she does have a lot of people on to de-frumpify moms:)

New Mom said...

I think it would be really fun if you took a photo of yourself in one of your thrifted outfits and posted it on your blog. You could list the total cost of the outfit thrifted, and what it might cost if you had bought it all new. You could do it as a one-time thing, a week long topic, or every *Tuesday* for a month. It would also be a great way to get motivated to spruce up a little!

Anonymous said...

Did someone actually say that to you?

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

I highly suggest reading Rebecca's blog, The Space Between My Peers which is about inexpensive fashion, and what looks good on what body types etc. She has fashion labs with pictures posted-look back through her archives.

I also love Angie over at You Look Fab-she is a fashion stylist, and the things she recommends can be pricey, but her information on dressing various body types and what colors and styles are in fashion (and how to wear them!) are easily applicable to shopping in thrift stores etc.

Consider adding them to your feed reader, and it may give you some ideas to spunk up your wardrobe!

Personally I try to make it a point to do eyeliner, blush and lipstick every day, and to put on something other than sweats (although not a lot fits me right now). It does make me feel better.

Marsha said...

I work at home so I'm familiar with the allure of being able to wear comfortable clothes all the time. T-Shirts and jeans? Love 'em! However it's not the most flattering look.

I do two things to battle against looking too frumpy. We have "date night" twice a week. We stay at home but we make a more elaborate dinner than usual. We put on a fresh table cloth and sometimes have candles. We also both dress up. No t-shirts allowed! Since we stay home for our date night there's no cost involved.

I also get the newsletter from http://www.centsofstyle.org/. This gal is all about looking for sales, buying clothes that you're going to wear more than once AND looking great while saving money.

martha said...

Dear Meredith, Congratulations on deciding to make some changes. By sharing your thoughts, you have made a commitment. We've grown awfully fond of you, and are cheering you all the way.

I agree with a previous post. Let us know your skin tone, shoe and dress size. I for one, would be honored to send some lovelies your way.

Meanwhile, even though my weight and confidence always need a boost, let me share a piece of advice I liked. Just try to add a new good habit every few days. Wash or style your hair everyday before breakfast. Don't eat after 7. Meanwhile, dress better than necessary. Don't save your decent things for special, they won't wear out.

Lastly, when you're feeling hopeless, speak frankly to God about it. Ask for His help. Even in matters of appearance. He wants to make you feel like His precious child, (a princess) because your are!

martha said...

p.s. your photos have shown gorgeously thick hair, lovely fair complexion, and good bones. Hold your head high and accentuate the positive!

Tee said...

Treat yourself to a good hair cut with a good style for you to keep you out of the same old ponytail. You can use a little blush and lip gloss with the new hair style and you will be good to go each day. You deserve a good hair cut!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Moneydummy- I tried Mrs. Smarty-pants too and found the outfits suggested were over my meager budget-- but I liked the advice and learned what works and what doesn't- a good foundation starting point.
My Momma dresses real classy and she gets 90% of her wardrobe from Goodwill- I think it would make more sense for me to take her with me and be my personal shopper!
Good luck!
Amy W
www.homesteadblogger.com/homesweetsimplehome

{Karla} said...

i'm workin' on the whole new body too...

Blessings,
Karla

Anonymous said...

The leather purse is georgeous! FYI, Maidenform online is having fantastic sales on bras - many are on clearance for about $7.

Tubo Family said...

Great purse! I was looking for that color but ended up with a copper color. It's wilder than my previous black or tan but I like that it makes me feel somewhat stylish. Good ideas with the scarves and beads, the little things can make a big difference in how you look and most importantly, how YOU feel about it.

Tubo Family said...

Andy Paige at Cents of Style http://www.centsofstyle.org/default.aspx has a free newsletter that is bargain minded, though it's more along the lines of a good dept. store sale than Goodwill. But still nice for learning about the latest fashions and getting ideas.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hey annonymous!-

Here's another idea- go find someone else's blog to harass! And leave all of us here, who GET what it means to live within a budget, alone!!

Another Annonymous!

(And while you're at it, why not post a picture of YOUR body so we can decide whether or not YOU need to go to the gym.)

Anonymous said...

Dear Meredith,
You are a beautiful lady, whether or not you need to lose a few "baby pounds." Your beauty shines from inside - graciousness, kindness, generosity, hospitality.
Blessings.
Vicky

Anonymous said...

You write a terrific blog, and you are an inspiration to me... Now, you have inspired me to take stock of my closet. Thanks for the encouragement!
~Dana

TracyMichele said...

Don't you love when people have the guts to write something absolutely rude and offensive, yet not enough _____ to sign their name!? Sorry.. they just hit a nerve with me tonight.

You are an inspiration, Meredith And there are more of us cheering you on than there are who sit back and judge! You GO girl!

Amy said...

I love the thrifty finds you got! That color doesn't look good with my fair skin, but I love it on other people.

I know it is hard when we stay at home to keep up with our looks. Don't be too hard on yourself and just keeping look for inspiration from the pieces you already have. A good basic black set, like you have from Chicos, is a great start and a good place to build from.

Everyone had excellent suggestions, but I just want to say I appreciate the beauty in all the things you do here!!

Gina said...

CUTE! I haven't been to a thrift store in years. You're making me want to go find one!!!

I'll say it again!
CUTE!!

Michelle Smiles said...

Purses are one thing I don't mind spending a little more on because it is one accessory I carry daily and it gets more use than just about anything else.

Love the Talbot bag - great color!

Meredith said...

Wow! I never expected this to be such a great discussion!

I'll have to keep you all posted as I work my way through looking better on a budget.

Thank you for all the kind offers and suggestions. I took the liberty of deleting a couple of the nastier comments.

I don't mind criticism if it pertains to the discussion at hand, but plain old ugliness gets deleted at this blog.

Anonymous said...

You should check out Paula Begouin's Cosmetic Cop site and new book! She exposes that most makeup is the same so you don't need to spend mega bucks for good looks. Her site has lots of helpful info on skin care. I love love love her ideas and products!http://www.cosmeticscop.com/
Laura

majellamom said...

What great finds!

I am in dire need of a new purse (strap broke on Thursday on my only purse!), but I'm planning on holding off until mid-February so that I can go to some thrift stores in the big city while I visit my SIL (and have a built in babysitter, woo hoo!)

You've definately inspired me to look for something a little more colorful than I normally would (I tend to be all about the black and brown accessories). You have got some great thrift stores you visit!

Anonymous said...

I think this is funny [coordinated home rennovator], and I hope you won't take offense:

The day after I read your lime-and-black blog, DH got a new Worx drill [local store closeout at 40% off]. Take a look at the color scheme:

http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=Promos/worx.html&lks=hpb23b&semsite=google&sembrand=n&semcatg=Tools&semsubcatg=Tools+Brand+KWIworx+tools

Our drill is much brighter lime than the picture shows.

Jora

Giovanna said...

Dear Meredith
I’d really like to take some long entry to you, as you have been an inspiration to me in so many ways I can’t begin to list, but in the mean time, here a couple of links that have helped me A LOT over the last year on the same subject (I did not care at all at how I looked liked, but put a lot of effort in beautifying my surroundings, just like you) – what I found was key is to learn what looks good on you – once anything in your closet flatters your body shape you gain confidence and can get by with just very few –yet fabulous for you- clothes (a bit like your using only your best stuff everyday and not needing to have second set or a plastic version of the real stuff).
http://womanwardrobeneeds.blogspot.com/
http://sahmstyle.blogspot.com/
You need to take some time and go look around in the archives and will find some really useful articles on how to look polished with little effort.
Oh! And this lady is very useful as well:
http://janelmessenger.blogspot.com/search/label/Fashion
Good luck to you and yes!, please keep us posted on your progress.
Giovanna