For me, that "usual" is black slip on flats, black slacks, print polyester top and black suit jacket - every time. Some days I'll mix it up and swap out the black for brown - whoopie! Living life on the edge for sure! But I find that I just don't have the energy a lot of mornings to really get passionate about my attire.
And then, when I go shopping, I find myself gravitating toward the same styles and color that I wear day-in and day-out. I have found that if I don't buy "the usual" and start getting more comfortable with different looks, I'm more apt to put a different twist or variation on my daily suit. Now, when I hit up the thrift stores and clearance racks, I focus on two things: Color and Cut.
Color: First, I look for colors I don't normally gravitate toward. I try out yellows, pinks and other pastels instead of the deep, dark purples, reds and blues that blend in with a black suit. Let me tell you, yellow pops on black like you wouldn't believe! So anyway, I buy the colors I wouldn't normally buy.
Cut: I think this is the most important thing when you're shopping, no matter what you're shopping for. If the cut isn't right, it turns out being a crapshoot all around. Tailored blazers are the love of my life; I have about 10 different blazers/suit jackets that are black, but all have different cuts that give each their own personality. My problem is that you can only cut a blazer so many ways, and then you wind up buying the same cuts over and over again, hence the rut. To get out of this rut, I keep an eye out for the cuts I like in blazers, but rather in a shirt. Women's button ups are great for that suit structure and darting; Poncho style jackets are a nice, comfortable variation on the jacket as well.
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Now, to my reason for this post to begin with - I used these two key points today when out with my friend Kelly at the local Salvation Army. Like all of us, she has been stuck in the so-called rut. Kelly mainly gravitates toward neutral colors like black, grey and white. She also feels comfortable in looser clothing that sometimes can lack the shape she needs to show off her beautiful frame. So she asked me to head into the racks on my own, without her opinions on color and structure, and put a few outfits together. Then she would try them on as a set rather than separates to help her get an idea of how to pair different types of clothing.
I happily dove into the racks, knowing exactly what I wanted to see her in. I hit up the short-sleeved tops and found some great prints that had her neutral colors, but still had a little pop of color somewhere. I also pulled tops that were solids like a beautiful light olive green one I found. I then headed over to the blazers (you know, because I'm addicted to them!) to see if I could find anything I thought she might be open to trying.
I spaced out the different tops I had found on the blazer rack and got to digging. I chose to stick with her solid neutrals for the most part, but tried to find subtle uniqueness in them as well. For example, I pulled a black knit poncho jacket and put a red printed top underneath. I then pulled a turquoise colored suit jacket that matched a green print I found. And then I pulled a darted, lightly pinstriped black blazer and put the olive green top with it. Then I grabbed a couple colorful scarves and added those to what I had picked out.
I have to say, I am so proud of Kelly for her openness. I had so much fun watching her come out of the dressing room in the different combinations, and she was pleasantly surprised by the different looks, I think. She would up liking the pinstriped blazer (HALLELUJAH!), and ended up purchasing that as well as several of the printed tops and one scarf! I was SO happy to see her smile when she came out of the dressing room each time, and I was happy to see her liking what I had picked out for her.
In the end, I was able to pull just a tiny bit of her personality out of the rut she feels like she's in for work, and I hope she uses that in the future to push herself to gravitate toward colors and styles she wouldn't normally buy.
Everyone deserves something different from "The Usual."