Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2

Before I go further with this series (you can read the first two posts here and here), I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the man who is my inspiration, both in fashion and in life: my husband. Patrick has perfected the art of the fool-proof everyday uniform, as shown in his fall/winter work wardrobe:

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Sweater: Lands’ End (no longer available in Tall)
Jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: New Balance

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style, same color, different sweater

Same style sweater, different color

Same style sweater, different color

3 sweaters, 2 looks.

But don’t worry, sometimes he cuts loose and does something a little different:

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(Clearly, I’m fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t take himself too seriously and sometimes lets me have fun at his expense.)

So back to my fall/winter uniform:

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My current line-up includes both new and old purchases. I must admit, I’ve been buying things here and there before doing a complete closet clean-out and reassessment. But it worked out okay (with they exception of a few flubs, described below).

For example, this outfit has a Gap Outlet cardigan from 2009. I pair it with a new, striped tee (a (rare) Old Navy clearance rack purchase of recent months) and a skinny belt.

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This next outfit has another cardigan from the same Gap Outlet shopping trip of 2009. I pair it with a floral tank I bought from Lands’ End last summer (no longer available).

Until recently I wouldn’t think of combining a print with argyle, but I like how they go together (also seen with a polka dot skirt one recent Sunday):

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One of these days I’ll clean that mirror.

Here’s yet another sweater from that same fateful Gap Outlet trip of 2009. I pair it with a scarf I found at a yard sale.

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But with jeans.

One of my favorite recent purchases is this sweater (which I wore in this What I Wore Sunday post):

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I’m trying to accessorize more when I go out, but I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. This necklace (discussed in this post) would be good in a different color, but I see red + green and think Christmas tree:

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These earrings look the part, I think, but, I dunno, would you wear them to story time at the library? (And would you trust your toddler not to rip through your earlobes with them?)

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So I’m on the lookout for a scarf or necklace to wear with the polka-dot sweater.

Next in my current line-up, I have a cable knit white cotton sweater:

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This, however, is next in line for the give-away pile. You see, I bought this sweater at a consignment store recently. I wish I had Mary with me because I ignored the fact that it didn’t fit quiiiiiiiite right.

I just love the look of a white cable knit sweater. So crisp.

So Brideshead:

Alright, maybe fictional, effeminate Oxford boys of the 1930s are not the best fashion inspiration. But Kate is!

But mine just doesn’t fit exactly right. And one thing I’ve learned is that fit is everything. If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style. My white sweater would be better a bit longer and preferably a little fitted at the waist. And maybe a v-neck would be better?

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Not quite the right fit.

Also it could use some accessorizing. Since becoming a Color Me Beautiful aficionado, I’m convinced that white and black wash me out and it’s better to wear color near my face.

I thought perhaps a collared shirt underneath would work, like this:

But no.

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Sarah Vickers I am not.

I have a hard time with collared shirts under sweaters. I don’t know what it is.

I also tried it with scarf, but nope. Maybe I’ll try tying the scarf a different way, or a different scarf.

Maybe if I'll try tying the scarf differently.

Maybe if I’ll try tying the scarf differently.

So, a better-fitting white sweater is also on my look-for list. In the mean time, I still wear the sweater because . . . well, I still kind of like it. My new rule for buying clothes, whether at a thrift store or elsewhere, is to buy something only if I’m 100% satisfied. In a world of unlimited wants and limited resources, though, my rule for keeping things once I’ve already purchased them is maybe . . . 75% satisfaction. ;-)

I learned a few things just as I was taking pictures for this post. For example, I have worn this combination a few times. But after taking a picture I mended my ways. Meh.

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Belting it didn’t help much:

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I bought the striped shirt from a thrift store a few months ago (duh duh DUN), and it has now received what most of my thrift store purchases have received (i.e. the boot). The cardigan was a Target purchase and, like most things I’ve bought there, it hasn’t kept its shape. For some reason, though, it looks okay with the chambray shirt, so I’m keeping it around for a while longer.

But with jeans.

But with jeans.

Sometimes I wear the chambray shirt (another recent Old Navy clearance find) on its own with this scarf:

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I also have a heavy wool sweater for very cold days, like this past Thanksgiving:

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Just recently, when I should have known better, I bought a $9 striped, dolman sleeve top from what is truly the dregs of the retail market: Ross . . . in the junior’s department {hanging head in shame}. I don’t have a great picture, but you get the idea here:

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When I bought it, I didn’t notice the tag saying “HAND WASH ONLY.” Right, like that’s gonna happen. I machine washed it in cold water, hung it to dry, and it didn’t fit as well afterward. Now, a couple more cold-water washes and drip-dries later, it’s pilling, it has threads coming off, and it’s lost even more shape. $9 down the drain.

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Well, there you have it: my everyday uniform for the colder months.

Except that I haven’t discussed, you know, the entire lower half of each outfit. That is a post in itself, (make that two posts or three) for next time . . . .

14 thoughts on “Style and the Stay-at-Home Mom: Building the Uniform, Part 2

  1. ZOMG thank you for posting this! I can’t tell you how long I have been shopping in the bargain bins and clearance racks, and as a result spent years surrounded with things that didn’t really work for me. Thanks to you I’ve finally brokn the shackles of my own spendthriftiness and spent a little extra money (not even that much more!) and got something I could really get some use out of! Of course I’m talking about laptop computers (maybe I should reread the post a little more carefully and make sure this isn’t totally if topic…)

  2. I cannot tell you just how hard I laughed at Pat’s last pose! Pat, you honestly do model clothes quite well. If programming doesn’t work out, perhaps JCrew will hire you for their next Fall Line.
    Also, I agree with the color/style/find your color thingy you were talking about: you look great in bright colors! They look really good and are a great contrast against your dark hair, too.
    Lastly, there is no way I would have passed up that striped shirt, it looks super cute. But alas, Ross is nothing if not a big huge gamble. I feel your pain.

    • “It’s the J Crew Bald ‘N Baggy Super Sale! It’s all the clothes you need to program in a dark basement in style this fall! Use the coupon code COMPILERERROR during checkout to save an extra 10%! But wait, there’s more! Buy any 10 sweaters in the same style and color and get the 11th free! This sale won’t last so hurry!”

  3. Ok, I am just now seeing this post (I’m woefully behind on my blog reading after these last two weeks of surgery) and all I can say is that I am so, so glad that I didn’t miss it. How in the world did you get your hubs to pose for you? Anyways, love it!!! And I agree that fit is everything :) Also, I am realizing that I have way too many handwash/dry clean items and I am trying to be more discerning on looking at the wash instructions…

  4. Your husband is a great sport! So adorable. I love these posts, especially all the cultural references, so hilarious! And this weekend, as I was reorganizing my closet, I thought of you and came *this close* to throwing out something I know I will never wear again. Maybe next time.

  5. Thanks for the idea of mixing argyle with a print. I have an argyle sweater from years ago I was about to toss in the giveaway pile but maybe I’ll give it one more attempt first! And those pics you chose of white sweaters — perfect. Why don’t I look like that in mine?!?

    • Thanks Sarah! I hope your argyle works for you.

      And that’s what I ask too, why don’t I look like that in my white sweater? I think the answer is two-fold:
      (a) my sweater doesn’t fit me well, and
      (b) I’m not a fashion model.

      I can work on (a) but not (b). ;-)

  6. Great post! I found myself saying ‘yep!’ to most of the “issues” . And I have the same problem w/ my cable knit- the fit is all stretchy in the middle, but I throw a scarf over it & say good enough for now.
    I like the red necklace w/ the greenish sweater. Maybe some fashion blogger will soon come out w/ some red + green outfit post and declare the colors to be not just for Christmas. ;)

  7. I saw yes to the red necklace!! DO it!!!! Poor complementary colors keep getting associated with holidays and sports teams. My art teacher in high school wore black and orange (just shy of blue and orange complimentary colors, I digress) year round and looked AWESOME cause she rocked it with confidence!!

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