Friday, May 27, 2016

A Farmer's Wife Talks Wardrobe Staples. With Hallway Selfies. Because #blogger.

Hey everyone!  Happy Friday!  I hope your week is going well.  It was the first week of summer break around here, so we are feeling laid back/absolutely insane :)

Writing this post was so humbling to me.  I have a hard time believing that anyone would ever want to hear a farmer's wife with five kiddos talk about fashion and clothes, but I have gotten a ton of questions about it, so I am just going to plunge in, and I hope you will give me a ton of grace along the way!  I do totally understand how hard it is to find your personal style, especially after you have a baby.  I feel like I went through years of being pregnant, then still nursing, over my normal weight, pregnant makes it so tricky to dress yourself well!

For me, the simplest way to always feel well-dressed is to make sure I have great versions of certain staple basics.  It shouldn't feel hard to pull together an appropriate outfit for most days.  In order to make that happen, you have to be prepared and buy what you will need before you go to get dressed.

I am assuming here that if you need work clothes, you already have a good handle on how to dress appropriately for your office, so we're going to talk about weekend/everyday clothes today!

Here are my summer staple pieces, with some extra random tips: (These pictures.  You guys.  It is awful.  I am cringing.  I don't know how fashion bloggers do it everyday).

High Quality TShirt

  • Pick several in the best shape for you (vneck, crew neck, scoop neck)  Not sure which is best for your shape? Try on all three, and take a quick picture. Taking pictures of myself in clothes has helped me clarify my choices so much lately.  It just becomes more obvious which looks best.  Still stumped?  Text the pictures to your sister or a good friend to get feedback.
  • Higher quality brands hold their shape better and look better after many washes.  Sad but true. After many many many rounds of cheap Target and Old Navy purchases, I finally admitted this to myself last year, and my outfits look better as a result.
  • two favorite brands: Caslon U-Neck T, and Gap Favorite VNeck

Caslon UNeck (Trunk Club), Paige Premium Crops (Trunk Club), Saltwater Sandals (Trunk Club)

Great Jeans

Every woman needs a jean wardrobe.  Let's be honest, these are the pants most of us wear more than any other.  You don't need tons of jeans, you just need a few really good pairs.  I would rather have one excellent pair in each shape than a ton of meh choices.  These are my all-the-time wears:


I wear these in the summer with sandals, or in the winter with ankle booties.

dress jeans.  

Find the shape that works for you.  I like mine to be dark petite flares, but I know tons of people who look great in trouser jeans or wide leg.  I have mine hemmed to wear with heels, not flats.

AG Petite Flares, Halogen Double V Shell, Rebecca Minkoff fringe clutch, Louis Et Cie floral heels, Kate Spade Drop Earrings (all Trunk Club but the earrings)


As much as I resisted a few years ago, these are a staple, especially for tall boots in the winter.  I always buy mine cropped, because they fit better under boots without bunching, and then I also occasionally wear them during the summer with a flowy top.  I think you can get away with cheaper brands for leggings, as long as you are wearing longer tops.

everyday jeans.  

In whatever style you would wear the most.  Boot cut, straight, distressed, boyfriend-what looks best with your shape?

white jeans.  

Total summer staple.  I always buy them one size up because white jeans can really accentuate any problem areas you may have.  Also, double check to make sure they are made of thick enough material that you can't see the pocket lining in the front, and anything else in the back.  There are a lot of poorly made white jeans out there.  My go-to brand for white jeans is AG (and I actually had an amazing pair from the Loft that were not see through at all, but that was a few years back and I haven't tried this season's yet).


This would be your 2016 version of the "going out" shirt.  (Go read this piece of nostalgia my friend Gwen sent us).  :)  So these are nicer quality tops that you can wear with jeans, or dress up with a skirt or other pants.  As an adult (as opposed to when we were in college and these definitely should not have done double duty), most of these should be okay at something like church (maybe with a sweater) or a baby shower, and also fun for drinks with girlfriends.


Several sleeveless style tops in different fabrics that could be worn under a blazer, or alone.  You should be able to wear these over and over, changing how they look with accessories.  Once I find a style that works for me, I slowly pick it up in multiple colors.   I really get a ton of use out of the Halogen Vneck Shell (in white, black, blush, and one pattern).  I also own several colors of the Pleione Mixed Media Vneck Tunic, and my one true love lately is the Joie Iva Top.

Halogen Double VNeck (Trunk Club), Anthropologie Linen Pants, Stella and Dot earrings

Pleione Mixed Media Tunic (Trunk Club), White AG petite flares (Trunk Club), Kate Spade statement heels (eBay)

statement or patterned.  

Try to pick up a few less basic choices.  These will be harder to wear to the same places over and over, because they are meant to make a statement, but they make your wardrobe more fun and more you.  This can be a good place to try trends and buy less expensive pieces.

Maeve Balloons Blouse (Anthropologie, via Buy-Sell-Swap group), AG Petite Flares (Trunk Club), Louis Et Cie floral heels (Trunk Club), red statement necklace (Stella and Dot)

Dresses and Skirts

Truth time.  Many, many of us look far better in a skirt than in shorts.  I know.  It feels too fussy.  But next time you are out in public, look around.  Shorts often reveal parts and problems that most of us would rather hide-even on someone who is in great shape.  Alternatively, a skirt of the right style can be equally comfortable (even more comfortable sometimes), and hide a multitude of flaws.  Someone in a skirt and tshirt and sandals looks put together, while that same outfit with shorts can look sloppy.  Casual skirts are really easy to pick up inexpensively either at a consignment store, or at Target or Old Navy. I wear a skirt instead of shorts as often as possible during the summer.  As long as the length is right, it doesn't make it any harder to chase and play with the kiddos!

By that same token, so many women look fantastic in casual dresses.  The key is finding a fit that flatters you, and that you are comfortable wearing.  You can find tons of styles at the usual suspects, Target, Loft, Gap.  But also try more expensive options, like Anthropologie and Nordstrom.  I take note of which brands fit me well, and then I hunt for them used on Buy-Sale-Swap sites (I belong to an insane Anthro FB site, let me know if you want to be added), or eBay.  I wear casual dresses at home and out all summer long.

Consignment (Twice As Nice), no tag

Anthropologie (eBay)

Limited, several years ago

Dressier Pants and Shorts

See my note about shorts above, but I do like to keep at least three styles of shorts around: jeans, statement, and basic.

jean shorts.

Jean shorts in a good length for your shape (how do you figure that out?  For most women, a length right below the widest part of your leg looks the best.  That will be different on each of us.  If you are in your 30s like I am, I think 4 inches or longer tends be a safer bet than the 2 inch length.)  If you only have one pair of jean shorts on rotation, I like them to be darker wash.  I picked up these Joe's during a Nordstrom sale earlier this spring.  My best tip about shorts is to try them in a size larger than you wear in jeans.  They just seem to look best that way.

Joe's shorts (Trunk Club)

statement shorts.

Statement shorts should be interesting in some way-pattern, shape, or fabric.  My current favorite are striped sailor shorts from Loft.

basic shorts.

For my third style of shorts, I like a navy cotton or linen pair.  Navy goes with just above everything else, and it isn't as blah as khakis.  It can also look dressed up with a pair of wedges and a cuter top, if you wanted.

dressier pants.

For dressier summer pants, consider wide-leg linen (which I have worn over and over), or something on trend, like black joggers.

Statement blouse (Fluegel's), black joggers (Loft), nude heels (Trunk Club), Stella and Dot earrings

Proper Foundation Garments

I know.  But seriously.  Nothing looks good if your bra doesn't fit and you have VPL, and everything looks better if you have your parts tucked in and smoothed out.  Step 1: go get a professional bra fitting, even if you have gone before.  Not at Victoria's Secret, bless their hearts.  Those 18 year olds are not professionals.  Nordstrom and Soma are two larger stores that do it for free.  I went again last year, and lo and behold, I was a very different size than I had been wearing.  This is something you should do every few years, especially after a big body change like pregnancy, weight loss, nursing, aging....If you can only restock a little at a time, it is helpful to have a nude (not white) tshirt bra for everyday, a convertible or racer back, something sexy, and a strapless or stick-on bra for backless and strappy tops.

Next, go through your lingerie drawer and toss all your ill-fitting or cheap bottoms, and replace them with high quality choices.  You will feel SO much better after you do it, and your clothes will look better.  Two brands I find are worth the money are Hanky Panky and Commando (you can get both from Nordstrom).

Other foundation garments that I find a necessity are body shapers, like Spanx.  If you have never had a cause to consider them before, don't let embarrassment stop you from picking some up.  Trust me, most people who look well-put together, no matter how thin they are, find a use for body smoothers.  They leave no lines under clothes, and they help you feel pulled in.  I wear a tank style under many shirts, and either high waist bike shorts or full body styles under many dresses.  This is not about looking thin, I promise!  It is really about helping clothes hang better.

Athletic Clothes, Bathing Suits, Coverups

Not going to spend a lot of time on this, but here are my must haves:

  • black capri workout pants (champion brand at Target are consistently high-quality)
  • tank style top
  • excellent sports bra
  • long sleeve workout top
  • running skirt
  • smartwool socks for running

Lululemon is my all-time favorite for workout gear, except pants.  Their tops and running skirts are super high-quality.  I have washed mine a million times, and they still look great.  It is worth the money.  Their pants, on the other hand, tend to be see-through now.  Go into the dressing room and bend over to find out if the pair you are trying has that problem.

Bathing suits: again, toss all your suits that are old, too small, or from before baby.  Even if you fit into them again, there is a good chance they won't look the same.  There are SO many cute suits out there, including one pieces!  Check Miracle Suit and Magic Suit brand for some suck-it-properties along with the cuteness factor.  Rash guards are also really trendy right now, and they are a mama's dream: they cover all your parts while you are active with the kids!  No more accidental flashing thanks to a grabby toddler at the neighborhood pool.


This is my all-time favorite style secret: most of the clothes I wear are very, very basic.  But if you pair it with interesting accessories, nobody ever notices!  I very rarely buy tiny and delicate jewelry, for this exact reason.  Most of my collection is either statement necklaces or earrings.

My favorites come from Stella and Dot, because they are so versatile.  (I have nothing to do with SD, I just love their jewelry).  The great thing about their pieces is that many can be taken apart and worn in several different ways.  The jewelry I get the most compliments on and wear the most often is SD.  I do have a friend with a booming SD business who is running a specials group for me right now, so if you want to shop with that deal, you can find that here, or message me and I will add you to the FB group she created for us.

Kate Spade Drop Earrings (gift from my awesome Arbonne team)

Stella and Dot Totem Tassel Chandeliers (these can be worn 4 different ways, and I LOVE them)

Stella and Dot favorites.  I tried to show pieces that come apart to be worn in different ways.  Clockwise from the white necklace at the top: Havana Pendant (versatile-can be worn four ways), red necklace is old but Bliss Statement Necklace is close, Utopia Statement Necklace (6 in 1), Pegasus Necklace, Zinna Split Ring, Totem Tassel Earrings (4 in 1, plus get at 50% with purchase in May), Aida Chandelier Earrings (4 in 1) Nancy Studs in green and gold (on sale!), Signature Engraveable Necklace, Pave Ear Jackets.  Phew.  I really love SD.  Obviously.  And I've never even had a party until this week.

Another great way to find inexpensive statement jewelry is to search "statement necklaces under $10" on Amazon and Etsy.  The pieces you find will often come from Hong Kong (so you have to decide if that is for you or not), but I have had great luck finding fun things that way too!

Shoes and Bags

After many hours spent with InStyle and US Weekly in college (ha!  Seriously though), I came to the conclusion that you can wear just about any sloppy outfit you want, as long as your shoes and bag and sunglasses are beautiful.  A good bag and shoes make any outfit look better than it is. (On the flip side, a cheap-looking bag can ruin an outfit).  And the best part is...great bags don't even need to be expensive.  Don't get me wrong, often an expensive bag is costly for a reason, like the quality of leather and the stitching are much better,  But if you are careful, you can get a quality looking canvas or vegan leather purse for not much.  On the pricey side, Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch are my favorites.  On a more frugal budget, check out Madewell's Transport Tote or Sole Society bags.  Both are really well-made.

As for shoes, in the summer, a well-rounded shoe wardrobe needs:
A neutral sandal.  Nude or metallic sandals help lengthen the appearance of the leg in shorts, skirts, and dresses, and they go with everything.
A statement sandal.  If you already have neutral sandals, don't let yourself buy another pair.  Instead, choose something more interesting!  I am partial to red Saltwaters.  They are flat and comfortable, but they elevate a boring outfit.
A wedge.  Wedges are great because they easily walk the line (pun intended) between casual and dressy.  I also use mine to be able to wear my dressy jeans with more casual tops during the day.
A nude heel.  Nude heels are the one dressier summer shoe that you can wear with anything, from cocktail dresses to weddings to jeans.  
A statement heel.  My Nordstrom stylist Whitney picked up those floral heels (above) for me earlier this spring, and I have gotten a surprising amount of wear out of them already.  If your outfit needs a little pop, statement shoes are such a simple way to do that!

Geesh.  Apparently I had a lot to say about clothes.  I hope that was a helpful basics tutorial!  I am the last person on earth that most people would consider a fashion expert, but I have gotten more skilled at editing my choices to reflect my body shape and style in the last few years.

Honestly, one of the ways I have done that is with help from a stylist.  Nordstrom offers free styling, in stores, and online.  I use Whitney Roberts, through Trunk Club (referral link, because I really want to support Whitney and help her get her new business off the ground!  She has been so helpful to me.  She even sent me a handwritten thank you note for sending her a referral.  Who does that anymore?!  Such great customer service!).  Trunk Club is a great free styling service that hunts down specific pieces or helps you define your personal style.  No subscription fee, no monthly boxes, none of that.  Just one stylist who sticks with you and helps you curate your personal look.  So for example, when I needed a fresh pair of white jeans this spring, I told her my requirements and preferences, and she sent me several pairs to try.  Whatever you don't like, you ship back in a prepaid box.  Nothing at all is charged until you send your box back.  I love it.  It is such a huge help for a busy mama!

Tell us, what is your biggest style struggle?  For years, mine was feeling like my body didn't look my own, so I had a hard time dressing it.


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