Improving My Closet: Part One

I've been following Audrey at Putting Me Together for quite a while now, and I love her blog.  She always puts together stylish outfits, and she is full of great advice about how to create a workable wardrobe.  Currently, she's putting together a series called Wardrobe From Scratch, that has been a valuable tool for me as someone who's still trying to define her style and is constantly trying to improve the contents of her closet.  I currently have a closet full of clothing, so I'm not building my wardrobe from scratch, but the style advice Audrey is providing is proving to be helpful for me in deciding how to better make use of the pieces that I have, and providing me guidance for what to look for as I shop.  In the next several weeks, I'll blog about my journey in improving my closet.

Part One of this series is all about defining your style and lifestyle needs.

1. Identifying your lifestyle needs.  Currently, I am a full-time graduate student.  While most of my classmates come to class in jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts, I like to wear slightly nicer and more professional clothes.  Most of our classrooms are pretty chilly, so layers are necessary.  Classes range from 3-9 hours long, so I prefer to be comfortable.

I also work at my university as a graduate assistant, 20+ hours each week.  I work in our New Student and Family Programs office, specifically with new student orientation.  While I am not bound to a strict dress code (jeans are fine), I do like to dress up a little bit more.  Before coming to graduate school, I worked professionally in college admissions, so I do have quite a bit of business casual clothing in my closet, and enjoy dressing nicer.  I also do a lot of walking around on campus, so comfortable shoes are key (hence all the flats I wear!).

This summer, I will be wearing my university polo with khaki or black bottoms most week days, as I will have orientation sessions for 9 weeks straight.  I will also need comfortable shoes, as I'll be on my feet for 15+ hours each day.  I also will begin my school counseling internship in August, so I'll need to be dressing professionally for that new position.

On weekends, I generally like to spend time with my husband, family, and friends.  I enjoy taking my dog to the dog park, reading, painting, and finding fun things to do around town (we like bowling, playing laser tag, exploring coffee shops, etc.).  I also volunteer at our local animal shelter, so I like to look nice for the guests who come to the shelter on adoption days.  This summer, I know we have three weddings to attend, and potentially one weekend trip away with family.

2. Defining your style preferences.  As I look at my Pinterest boards, I definitely see themes in what I like.  Things I like: simple articles of clothing, less-is-more philosophy with accessories, mix-and-match options, neutral outfits with pops of color, simple patterns like stripes and leopard print, some floral is okay, neutral colors, deeper hues, coral, dresses (usually solid color, a mix of structured and flowy), scarves (chunky knit, printed, solid), blazers (both neutral and colored), skirts (full skirts and pencil skirts), cardigans, white button downs, flats, boots, and jeans (skinny, straight, bootcut, and trouser).

I also find a lot of inspiration in other bloggers.  Check out my Blogs I Love page for a list of some of my current favorites.  I also find a lot of inspiration from Tania at What Would a Nerd Wear - although she no longer updates, her archives are fantastic.

Here are some outfits that really resonate with me:

These are all linked from my Pinterest boards, so feel free to take a peek if you want to see more!

Some time in the next week or so, I'll outline Part Two of the Wardrobe From Scratch series, which is all about choosing colors!

PS. Franziska of Franish fame is also following along with the Wardrobe From Scratch series - if you want to see other bloggers putting these tips to practice, I encourage you to check out her blog, too!!


Space Cadet

Shirt: Old Navy Skirt: Old Navy Tights: Target Knee highs: Target Boots: Target Belt: The Limited

I can be somewhat of a space cadet sometimes.  For instance, I bought these tights at Target because I liked the subtle stripe pattern (which really doesn't come through in my photos at all - I'll try to get a better picture next time).  When I came home and took them out of the package, I realized they were not footed tights, but rather capri length.  I was so disappointed and thought I'd never wear them because the length was awkward.  It took me way too long to realize I could just pair them with knee high socks and boots, and nobody would know the difference...duh.

I'm linking up today with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday and Because Shanna Said So for Random Wednesday :)


Walk Like a Penguin

Sweater: Target Skinny jeans: NY&C Cowl: Kohl's Boots: Guess

On Sunday and Monday, we had lots of slushy rain and snow in Minnesota, but the temperatures were high enough to keep it wet.  Well...today it is a lot colder, so much of the slush has turned into ice.  I didn't realize how slippery these boots are!!  It took me twice as long to walk from the parking lot to my office today because I was so afraid of slipping.  I looked like a penguin...but somehow, I'm not sure I looked quite as cute...[just a hunch.]

Tomorrow, I'll be wearing snow boots to work.


Dark Dr. Seuss

Tee: Target Skirt: Target Cardigan: Target Tights: JCPenney Wedges: Skechers (sooo old) Necklace: F21

My striped tights totally remind me of Dr. Seuss.  They're a little quirky and different, but I love them.  They're actually sweater tights, so they're super cozy and warm.  I also love this skirt.  The front panel is a shiny/suede-like material that adds a little interest to the plain black pencil skirt.  Also, in the back of the skirt is a gold exposed zipper.  You couldn't see it today because of my cardigan, but I'm excited to wear this skirt in the spring/summer with a tee so you can see the fun zipper!

This weekend, Kevin and I did a whole lot of nothing, and it was perfect.  We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings at the gym and spent our days working on homework. We did, as I posted on Saturday, finish watching Firefly.  I really loved the show, but I wish it hadn't gotten cancelled after the first season!  There are so many unanswered questions!  Do any of you have a favorite television short that was cancelled before its time?



Shirt: Old Navy Skinny jeans: NY&C Flats: Payless Necklace: F21

  1. This top (which is actually a really pretty gray-blue color) is shiny...which apparently doesn't photograph well.  Also, it's really wrinkly.  Whoops.
  2. I got my hair cut yesterday and brought in a ridiculously cute picture.  This looks nothing like the picture, so I'm a little bummed.  This hair is fine, but I'm disappointed because it isn't really what I was looking for.  [Luckily, it's just hair and it will grow back!]
  3. Since Kevin and I have time this weekend, we're going to finish watching the series Firefly.  Have any of you seen it?  We're kind of nerdy, so this sci-fi show is right up our alley...plus Joss Whedon, the creator of the show, is freaking awesome.  I titled this post partially after my shiny shirt, but also because the word "shiny" is used by characters in Firefly instead of saying, "cool" or "neat."


Picky Purple

Tank: Target Cardigan: Target Trousers: TJ Maxx Flats: Target Necklace: Gift

You can't really tell in this picture, but my cardigan and flats are a rich plum color.  Purple is my favorite color, but I don't often wear it.  I'm super picky about what hues of purple I wear.  I pretty much stick to the darker plum and eggplant shades.  [Is that weird?  Tell me you're picky about your shades of color, too...]

I'm so happy it's Friday!  I have a whole lot of nothing planned this weekend.  Hopefully, I'll get to spend some good quality time with Kevin, and I'm hoping to grab coffee with a friend who I haven't chatted with in far too long.  What are you all up to this weekend??



Blouse: TJ Maxx Cardigan: Target Skinny jeans: NY&C Boots: Target

Back in high school and college, I dressed pretty much exclusively in bright colors.  My bedroom was bright orange, and I always had colorful backpacks, purses, and shoes.  In the past few years, I've been drawn to more neutral and muted colors.  Today, I decided to go back to my roots and grab a lime green cardigan to keep warm rather than the black blazer I originally intended on wearing.  I like to be a little bit unpredictable on occasion!

Also, you should know that I started off my day in the best possible way: dance party for one to the tunes of Ms. Britney Spears.  Sometimes, you just need to dance.


Not Exposed!!

Dress: Old Navy Leggings: Target Boots: Guess Necklace: F21

I adore the color combination of navy and gray.  I got this dress on super clearance at Old Navy (hm...do you think I like clearance? And Old Navy?) and knew I wanted to pair it with my gray leggings and silver jewelry.  I'm always so nervous wearing a wrap dress because I'm afraid it's going to flop open and expose...everything.  Luckily, this one stayed closed nicely today.  I'm thanking my knee-length winter coat for that, because it was windy outside!

My outfits on the blog, so far, have been a little on the plain/safe side.  I either dress pretty simply, or a little bit more fun.  I'm looking forward to putting together some more of those fun outfits in the coming weeks.  I'm feeling a little stifled by the bitterly cold weather we've been having in Minnesota, so hopefully next week when it's supposed to warm up, I'll be able to wear some more varied outfits!

Linked up to Mix and Match Fashion's What I Wore to Work link party!


Easy Sweater Dress

Dress: Old Navy Fleece-lined leggings: Target Knee highs: Target Boots: Target Scarf: JCPenney

As promised, this Tuesday, I wore something warmer than I did last week to accommodate for a freezing cold classroom.  I love this sweater dress from Old Navy - I have it in three different colors/patterns!  A dress like this is so easy to wear...just throw it on, add some accessories, and you're dressed.

Have any of you watched the movie Pitch Perfect?  It's one of my favorite movies - when I was in high school/college, I would have loved to be in an acapella group like the Barden Bellas.  I love to sing and dance :)  I've been singing songs from the musical for over a month now.  The song of the day for me today was Cups.  Enjoy!!


Freezing Outside, Toasty Inside

Sweater: Old Navy Black pants: NY&C Leopard scarf: Old Navy Boots: Guess

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Today, because of the holiday, I do not have work or school, so I'm working on schoolwork at home.  It also happens to be -6 degrees with a biting windchill that makes it feel like -30 degrees outside...which is why I'm wearing my warmest sweater!  I generally love living in Minnesota, but days like today are kind of tough.  I took Pippin outside this morning to go potty, and while my torso was super warm, my legs were burning with cold after only being outside for about 10 minutes.  I am thinking of all those people who do not have homes today and are exposed to the elements today, and feeling incredibly grateful to have a toasty roof over my head.

I realize that I wore a very similar outfit to this on Thursday.  I have this sweater in three colors (you've already seen the oatmeal and blue colors), but they are so snuggly and warm.  Plus, these black skinny pants are probably the most comfortable pants I own - perfect for a day full of reading.


Statement Necklace

Turtleneck: Target Jeans: Old Navy Flats: JCPenney Necklace: F21

It is bitterly cold outside today in Minnesota...and tomorrow, it's only going to get worse!  I think our high is projected to be -2 degrees tomorrow.  Yuck.  It's the perfect day to do homework, though!  I was in class for 9 hours yesterday, and while it was a marathon of a day, I loved my class.  Today, it's all about hitting the books while snuggled up on the couch with some hot apple cider.

As for the outfit, I wanted to keep it fairly simple, as I'm not planning to leave the house today (too cold!).  I've had this black turtleneck for a while, but for whatever reason was afraid to wear it.  After putting it on, though, I do really love it.  Be prepared to see more of it - paired with skirts, under dresses, with scarves, etc.  I've usually been more subtle with my jewelry choices, but I really liked this green necklace.  I love that it is chunky and bold, but it still is really light on my neck.  I can hardly tell it's there!

PS. It is Pippin's birthday today!  She turns two years old today.  Happy birthday to my spunky pup.


Sleepy Stripes

Dress: Old Navy Leggings: Target Boots: Bare Traps from DSW Necklace: F21

I've worn a slight variation of this outfit several times, and I totally love it.  I got this dress at Old Navy for $7, and it is so perfect.  I love that it hugs my body but doesn't make me look lumpy and bumpy.

I'm so exhausted today.  Kevin is out of town, so Pippin slept with me last night.  However, she woke up about every hour to growl at sounds she heard outside.  It was quite the restless night!  Since I have class at 8:00 am tomorrow (for 9 hours!!), I am planning to go to bed early tonight...and Pippin will probably have to sleep in her kennel.


Cozy Knits

Sweater: Old Navy Black skinny jeans: NY&C Cowl: Kohl's Flats: Payless

Thursdays are my days off of work this semester, but I have a class in the evenings.  I wanted to wear something comfy for a day full of reading and an evening full of learning, but I also wanted to look "put together." [Can you tell that I really like to be comfortable?  I think I've mentioned it in almost every post so far...]  I hunted for a pair of black skinny pants for ages, and when I found these at New York and Company, I had to buy them - they fit like a glove!  The color of this sweater kind of washes me out (oh hey pale skin), so I usually wear a scarf or bold necklace with it to break up the color.

Fun fact about me: I'm passionate about animal (particularly dog) rescue.  I began volunteering at our local animal shelter about two weeks ago, and I'm actually heading out the door shortly for another "on the job training" session today.  It's so much fun to help animals find their forever homes, and I love seeing the look on people's faces when they find their perfect match.  I hope there are some new cats and dogs there today for me to snuggle!


Stripes and Red

Dress: Old Navy Belt: Old Navy Tights: Target Shoes: Payless

I had a completely different outfit planned for today, but changed my mind this morning.  I decided I wanted to wear this striped dress - it's easy to wear and flirty but still appropriate for work.  I loved wearing my red tights with this outfit, but on my university campus where leggings and UGG boots are rampant, I got some funny looks with my vibrant tights.  Whatever, I liked it :)  What I didn't like, however, were these shoes.  They are so cute, but incredibly uncomfortable.  I may be putting them in the "to donate" pile...I'm a flats girl through and through.


First Day of School

Ruffled tee: Old Navy Blazer: Target Jeans: JCPenney Flats: Payless

Today was my first day of school for the spring semester!  I wanted to plan an outfit that was professional enough for work, but comfortable for 3 hours of sitting in class.  I wish I had worn long sleeves, though, because our classroom was super cold!  Next Tuesday, you'll be seeing a warmer outfit from me.


Navy Lace

Dress: Target Cardigan: Target Tights: Target Shoes: TOMS Belt: Thrifted

My first outfit post!  I am a graduate student and work at my university as a graduate assistant.  Today was my first "real" day back at work after a 5 week winter break!  I wanted to wear something comfortable but cute, so I chose this new lace dress I got on major clearance at Target!  This dress is already a favorite.  It has short sleeves, so I can wear it all year round.  I love the rich navy blue, and the lacy detail is beautiful!

Kevin bought me these gray wool TOMS shoes for my birthday (he buys me a new pair each year).  I love them because they're comfortable, versatile, and just plain darling!  It's nice to have a pair of TOMS that can be dressed up a little more (as opposed to the classic TOMS style).  I also really like and support the mission of TOMS shoes.  Have you ever purchased a pair of TOMS shoes?

Here we go...

For the last two years or so, I have been reading fashion and style blogs to help me refine my own personal style.  My sense of style has definitely changed for the better since then, but I'm finding myself wanting more.  I want to document my style with outfit posts and become a part of the blogging community.  I'm looking forward to embarking on this journey!