Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Wardrobe Upgrade

Here is a look at four new pieces that I bought to mix and match in to my summer closet.

I love shopping, but believe it or not, I don’t really do much of it because I try to be frugal and live well within and even below my means. (Credit card debt is so not chic!) Although trying on, buying and creating different outfits is a lot of fun, I just feel too much guilt afterwards with what I spent, regardless of the actual cost. So the fact that I actually broke down and bought myself some summer clothes is a double rarity because I don’t really buy many new clothes, and when I do, they’re usually for work. However, after several of my summer clothing staples literally fell apart, I realized that it was time to upgrade.

Another motivating factor for my sudden shopping spree was that, for the first time in several years, my summer is relatively open. After wrapping up my first year as a college professor, I'm enjoying the lightened summer workload of the education field, teaching just one summer class and tutoring just one day a week. So now I have plenty of time during the week for my own interests and activities. What to wear during it all?

Here is what I bought:

  1. A flirty summer dress. This item is a wardrobe staple for any woman of style. Dresses are just as comfortable and simple as gym shorts and a tank top (my other, not-so-chic summer uniform), but infinitely more versatile and more chic. I already have a few summer dresses, but the ones I own have endured heavy wear after several seasons. For the most part, I've maintained a consistent weight and size, so I can wear basics for several years without needing to buy new ones. However, extended wear is beginning to take a toll on these items, in addition to the fact that photos of me dating back several years document how often I tend to wear these items. So, in the interest of keeping my style fresh and extending the life of some of my favorite dresses, I decided that it was time to add a new outfit into the rotation.
  2. A maxi skirt. I used to have a beautiful, long, flowy white skirt that I bought many years ago at a "fast fashion" store at the  mall. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, fast fashion is actually the opposite of chic. These are stores that tend to sell very trendy, up-to-the-minute clothing styles at an extremely low cost, but the clothing itself is usually of a poor quality. As a teen, I used to frequent these stores a lot, but my fashion priorities now have changed. (Quality over quantity!)
    A decade ago during the bohemian style resurgence, I bought a flowy white skirt from one of these fast fashion stores. The skirt was just a size too big and the stitching in places was off, but at the time, I didn't have the appreciation that I do now for quality over quantity. But because the skirt was so cute (and cheap), I bought it for something like $6, and I actually got a lot of wear out of it during the next several years! The white color was perfect for summer and matched with nearly everything, and it was breezy and comfortable in the heat. But as I matured, I began to be more self-conscious of the fact that it didn't fit perfectly, and I started to notice the uneven hems and stitching. Also, years of casual wear left telltale signs-- a dirty hem from brushing the floor as the skirt was too big in the first place, as well as coffee and other miscellaneous stains on the white fabric. Even though I once loved this piece, after a healthy decluttering and purging of my closet, I had to part with it once I accepted the fact that it no longer seemed very stylish or chic.
    However, I really missed this skirt! It truly was a great basic around which I could build many comfortable and stylish outfits. Multiple times throughout the spring I found myself looking for it in my closet. So when I saw a similar white maxi skirt on sale from a better quality retailer, I jumped on the chance to upgrade this piece. 
  3. A denim shirt. Although timeless basics are the foundation of a chic wardrobe, it is important to not be totally oblivious to the styles of the season! This was a clothing trend that I've noticed in several magazines and catalogs. Denim is a versatile fabric that can be mixed and matched with a lot, so I figured this might be one trend worth investing in. Also, summer nights in the Mid-Atlantic can be chilly, so this piece could be a great outer layer for a summer outfit. As far as trends go, this piece meets two important criteria for me: it's both versatile and functional.
  4. A pair of skinny jeans. I've already mentioned that I tend to wear clothing until it's ready to fall apart, which is a drawback of being frugal. Although this may save me money in the long run, it really isn't chic to wear clothing that's in poor shape-- even if it was expensive or of a good quality when you initially bought it. So, when my extra pair of skinny jeans ripped at the rear seam, I knew it was time to get rid of them. Summer is actually a great time to buy jeans because many retailers are clearing out their winter inventory and offer deep discounts on great clothing items. So, I was happy to snag a stylish basic-- skinny jeans in a dark wash. For the summer, I can pair these with a flirty summer top and sandals, but they'll still be a great wardrobe staple throughout the entire year.

Buying new clothes for the summer was a fun and welcome change. I enjoyed looking at sun dresses and jeans, rather than button-down blouses and pencil skirts (although those can be fun, too)! I spent a few days browsing and considering what I liked in addition to what I could get the most use out of, and this gave me extra time to monitor sales and coupon offers. Taking the time to plan my purchase in advance allowed me to avoid the buyer's remorse of getting something that I don't really like or wear, and it helps me to alleviate the guilt I associate with personal spending. I'm looking forward to a fun and stylish summer!

Here are two questions for your Tuesday:
  1. What are your summer wardrobe basics?
  2. Denim shirts: are they a fashion "yes," or "no"?


  1. I love the denim and chambray shirt look! i think it's easily dressed up or down, and i think it is one of the safe "trends" you can rock without feeling too much like you're trying to be "trendy." Plus, the chambray material is perfect for cool summer nights :)

    1. I totally agree, Natasha! That's a perfect way to put it-- a chambray shirt is stylish, but not too "trendy." Glad to have a second opinion from another stylish lady!

  2. Just don't wear your denim shirt with denim pants or skirt. "Redneck tuxedo" that's called ;)

    1. Hahaha! Yikes-- thanks for the tip, Tess!