Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Surprisingly Versatile Skirt

Lately, I just can not get enough of this skirt.  You wouldn't think that a red pleated knit midi skirt would be the most versatile item in the world, but I have found so many ways to wear it.  You can see the other blogged outfit featuring this skirt right here.

I wore this particular outfit to work and then went home and changed into a black lace top for my husband's office Christmas party.  I should have grabbed a picture of that outfit.  It would have made a great day to night post.

You can bet your buttons that I'll be wearing this on Christmas day.  It's so festive and comfy (yay! elastic waist!).  If I can rouse myself from my post dinner stupor, I'll try to get some outfit photos.


Blazer - Vintage, Goodwill
Blouse - Odille, Goodwill
Skirt - Vintage, Goodwill
Boots - Vintage, Cheap Thrills
Necklace - Coldwater Creek
Belt - Vintage Goodwill

2011-12-16 detail

Sunday, December 18, 2011

$50 Professional Wardrobe - Thrifted

If you read last week's You Search, I Answer, you know the drill for this week, the only difference is that this week's post is entirely thrifted!

If you are trying to build a professional wardrobe on $200, you really have two options.  The first is to shop mass-market retail, the second is to buy your wardrobe second-hand.  This week I present to you the second hand version.

For me second-hand shopping extends beyond just the thrift store.  It's any type of venue were you can purchase pre-worn items.  I encourage you to explore all your options.  Look for second hand clothing at:
  • Thrift Stores
  • Resale Shops
  • Consignment Stores
  • Flea Markets
  • Vintage Stores
  • Yard Sales
  • Estate Sales
  • Clothing Swaps

When you're shopping second hand, you should be looking for the same types of items:
  • Blazers
  • Cardigans
  • Blouses
  • Button-Ups
  • Trousers
  • Pencil Skirts
  • Flats
  • Boots
  • Accessories
One thing you should look for in second-hand clothing is quality.  Chances are that for less money you can buy something of higher quality than you would find in the typical mass-market retail store.  When I'm in a thrift store or resale shop, I generally look for "nice" brands, ones I can't afford to buy often at full price.  I also find that vintage items tend to be of a higher quality than newer items.

Once again, I have taken six pieces of clothing, two pairs of shoes, and two belts (all from second-hand sources this time around), and made ten outfits, two weeks worth of work outfits.  I tried to use items similar to last week's post, just to prove that you can dress well and thriftily.

Last week's total for the professional wardrobe purchased retail was $191.59.  This week similar items purchased second-hand ring up at a sweet $51.50.  That's a $140.09 difference! 

$200 Wardrobe 1

Black Blazer - Ann Taylor, Local Thrift Store, $3.00
Maroon Cardigan - Worthington, Local Thrift Store, $4.00
Floral Blouse - Odille, Goodwill, $3.50
Button-Up - Banana Republic, Consignment Store, $5.00
Trousers - Banana Republic, Resale Shop, $10.00
Skirt - Vintage Oscar de la Renta, Goodwill, $4.00
Brown Boots - Vintage Joan and David Couture, Goodwill, $8.00
Black Boots - Nine West, Goodwill, $6.00
Brown Belt - Goodwill, $3.00
Black Belt - Vintage, Goodwill, $2.00

Total $51.50

$200 Wardrobe 2

Outfit 1 & 2

$200 Wardrobe 3

Outfit 3, 4, & 5

$200 Wardrobe 4

Ouftit 6 & 7

$200 Wardrobe 5

Outfit 8, 9, & 10

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifted Fair Isle

When David saw this outfit he said, "Look at you in your 60s outfit."  I'm not exactly sure I'm channeling the 60s, but I do feel pretty classic in this outfit.  Maybe 60s collegiate. 

Does everyone recognize this sweater from my Thrift Finds of the Week?  I thrifted it on Friday and wore it on Sunday (shhh...I don't always post in chronological order).  That's a pretty quick turn over for me.  I also wore the belt on Monday, the cream blazer on Tuesday, and the velvet blazer today.  The J.Crew blazer needs to be dry cleaned otherwise I'd have a 100% "wear within a week" ratio.


Sweater -J.Crew, Thrifted
Lace Tank - Banana Republic
Skirt - Vintage Ann Klein, Thrifted, Altered
Boots - Vintage, Thrifted
Belt - Flea Market

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catalog to Kara: J.Crew, Again

What is it about J.Crew?  So classy, so chic.  So expensive!  Since I can't buy J.Crew at full retail, I must instead ripoff recreate outfits from the website and catalog with clothes I already own.  This week's outfit is similar to last week's

Prim jacket + unexpected shirt + mussed hair = unequivocal coolness.

I recreated this look to infuse my work wear with a little attitude.  So how did I do?  Lady-like jacket? Check.  Striped button-up?  Sadly, un-check.  I would love to have this top, but at $110, no thanks!  I'll stick to my striped tees instead.  Dark skinny jeans? Check.  Messy pony?  Nope.  Ironic smirk? Nope, again.  I'm smiling like a total cheese ball.  Oh well, I had to make it my own, didn't I?  How many question can I ask in one paragraph?  Eight, apparently.


Jacket - Express, Thrifted
Striped Tee - BDG, Urban Outfitters
Skinnies - BDG, Urban Outfitters
Black Boots - Vintage
Necklace - Vintage

I do have some brand new J.Crew coming straight from the website.  Got to love birthday gift certificates.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  My new purchases should be in next week.  I can't wait to share them with you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EBEW - Sequins + Sparkles

Sadly, you are currently viewing one of the few spangly pieces I own.  My life has so few occasions that call for spangle, I've just never invested in any.  The glitter pieces I do own must do double duty, work wear and fun wear.  Granted, I didn't wear this to work (a little too "night on the town"), but this top easily transitions to a professional setting with the addition of trousers and sensible shoes.

Today is a momentous occasion though.  It's the first time I'm worn leggings as pants.  It's only be a fad for, oh I don't know, forever.  Welcome to the 21st century, Kara.

2011-12-13  c

Velvet Blazer - Coldwater Creek, Thrifted
Tunic - Simply Vera, Kohl's
Leggings - T.J. Maxx
Boots - BCBGeneration, Dillards
Bracelet - Antique Mall

Sequins + Sparkles | Everybody, Everywhere

Monday, December 12, 2011

You Search, I Answer: $200 Professional Wardrobe - Retail

This week's "You Search, I Answer" is based on the search term "200 Dollar Professional Dress Budget".  There are two ways to go about building a professional wardrobe on a $200 budget, through retail shopping or through second-hand shopping.  Today, I'll focus on retail shopping and leave thrift shopping for another post.

To build a professional wardrobe on the cheap, you need to buy a few neutral basics and a few pieces with personality to mix and match.

I've compiled a list of essential items for a professional wardrobe (with my recommended sources):
  1. Neutral Blazer   (Gap, Loft)
  2. Colorful Cardigan   (Target, Old Navy)
  3. Print Blouse   (Kohl's, especially Simply Vera)
  4. Button-Up   (Old Navy, American Eagle)
  5. Trouser Jeans   (Gap, Old Navy)
  6. Straight Skirt   (Target)

$200 Professional Wardrobe

American Eagle Outfitters ruffle shirt, $40
Black jacket, $21
Old Navy wide leg denim pants, $35
sweaters, clothing, women : Target, $20
Wet Seal flat heels, $8.99
Wet Seal bow shoes, $15
Dolce Vita elastic belt, $17
Dorothy Perkins tan belt, $8
Simply Vera Vera Wang Watercolor Tank, $9.60
Target:Merona® Collection Women's Waldon Tweed S..., $17

Total $191.59

With six pieces of clothing, you can make at least ten outfits. That's two weeks of work outfits.

$200 Professional Wardrobe

Outfits 1 & 2

$200 Professional Wardrobe

Outfits 3, 4, & 5

$200 Professional Wardrobe

Outfits 6, 7, & 8

$200 Professional Wardrobe

Outfits 9 & 10
Next week, I'll be sharing the $200 Professional Wardrobe - Thrift Version.  So be sure to check back for that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thrift Finds of the Week

My husband was out of town duck hunting, so I took the opportunity to stop in on one of my favorite thrift stores.  I'm glad I did, because I picked up some great finds.


Black Velvet Blazer - Coldwater Creek, Thrifted, $4.00
Cream Blazer - Casual Corner, Thrifted, $3.50
Fair Isle Cardigan - J.Crew, Thrifted, $3.00
Yellow Belt - Vintage, Thrifted, $0.50
Beige Blazer - J.Crew, Thrifted, $5.00

Total $16.00

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fall 5 Piece French Wardrobe - #2

It's already December and I have only purchased two of my 5 pieces for my Fall 5 Piece French Wardrobe.  I finally bit the bullet and bought those red jeans I've been talking about.  I had my eyes on a pair at Urban Outfitters, but happened to find a pair at Old Navy.  Without further ado, my red jeans!


Sweater - Gap
Blouse - Vintage Liz Claiborne, Goodwill
Jeans - Old Navy
Boots - BDBGeneration, Dillard's
Bracelet - Urban Outfitters


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Catalog to Kara: J.Crew

Today is a special edition of Magazine to Me: Catalog to Kara. Today’s outfit inspiration comes from the J.Crew catalog, which is not technically a magazine, but let’s all admit it. We read it cover to cover like it is a magazine.

What I love about the inspiration photo is that the primness of the jacket is tempered by the casual quality of the half-tucked chambray shirt. It’s equal parts cool and classy.

Who wouldn’t want to be cool and classy? I recreated this look with pieces in my closet to wear to work today. Creamy lady-like jacket with black trim? Check. Pale chambray shirt with white buttons? Check. Black skinny pants? Check. Lady-like flats (That I’m assuming she’s wearing. Either that or killer heels.)? Check. A stance with attitude to prove that the jacket and shoes are just for show? Check.

All this pulled off with a $2.00 Goodwill blazer? Oh yeah!


Blazer – Goodwill
Shirt – Gap
Skinnies – Gap
Flats – J. Vincent

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Who was it that said that you can't find Anthro at a thrift store?  Oh right.  That was me.  I stand corrected.  It just takes a bit of time and patience, but it is possible. As evidenced by:

And the blouse I'm wearing today.  Five pieces definitely disproves my theory.  


Turtleneck - J.Crew
Blouse - Odille, Thrifted
Jeans - James
Boots, Vintage, Thrifted

In hindsight I should have put on some accessories and cleaned up the tree that was cut down in our back yard.  One would have only taken a few extra moments this morning, the other much longer. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Than Thankful

I have so much to be thankful for this year.  A new job, a new house, a new husband.  And health and happiness all around.  Add in my blog friends and I really couldn't ask for more.


Sweater - Gianni Bini, Resale Shop
Skirt - Vintage, Goodwill
Necklace - Vintage, Antique Mall
Bracelet - Mom'd
Belt - Flea Market
Boots - Frye, Resale Shop

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wedding Teaser

I received a few teaser photos from our wedding photographer, Meredith Mashburn, so I thought I would go a head and share them with you.  I'll do a full wedding post once I receive the rest of the photos.

Invitation 1

First up is our invitation.  Since David and I are both in architecture, we wanted to keep things simple and modern.  Two chairs, our names, and the date.  What else do you need?  Alright, the time, place, and directions were on the other side.

Wedding 001

Detail shot of the photo booth, where we used the blackboard trays I DIY'd.

Wedding 002

Miniature chairs holding our wedding bands. These chairs were also used as our cake toppers. No tiny bride and groom for us.

Wedding 003

My facinator perched in the flower of choice for the day, yellow mums.

Wedding 004

The happy couple! 

From Magazine to Me: Jenna Lyons in Glamour

Last week I introduced a new series of posts entitled "You Search, I Answer", where I write a post based on a search term someone used to find my blog.  So far I've covered silk button up blouses and camel blazers.

This week I'd like to introduce a new series of posts called "From Magazine to Me" where I'll take an inspiration photo out of a current magazine and recreate it using items in my closet.  

First up is this stunner from J.Crew president, Jenna Lyons, featured in the November 2011 issue of Glamour.  I love that she can combine something dramatic (feathered maxi skirt!) with something basic (camel v-neck sweater) and make it look so glamorous.

jenna lyons

Photo: Steven Lovekin/Getty Images

Since I have very few occasions that call for being so dressed up, I decided to recreate this as a work outfit.  Neutral v-neck sweater? Check. Simple overall color scheme? Check.  Red lips for just a pop of color? Check. Dapper companion? Check. Long dramatic skirt? Almost. What I lack in feathers (who really wants to molt all day?), I make up for with a thigh high slit.


On Me:
Sweater - Banana Republic
Skirt - Thrift Store
Boots - Gianni Bini, Goodwill
Bracelets - Kohl's

On Him:
Thermal - Gap
Pants - Eddie Bauer
Shoes - Merrell
Bracelet -

Monday, November 21, 2011

You Search, I Answer: Camel Blazer

This week someone found my blog by searching "camel blazer outfits", so here you go 8 outfits involving a camel blazer, the same $2.00 blazer in fact.  I'd say that I've got my money's worth out of this one.


Blazer - Vintage, Thrifted
Blouse - Vintage, Thrifted
Skinnies - J.Crew
Boots - Frye, Resale Shop
Necklace - Grandma'd
Bracelet - Garage Sale

Camel 1

camel blazer + dark neutral pattern top + skinny jeans + boots = sleek sophistication

Camel 2

camel blazer + rich floral + tights + boots + gold pendant + wide leather belt = funky professional

Camel 3

camel blazer + tweed skirt + grey tights + brown boots + wide leather belt + gold bangle =downtown or scholastic (depends on shirt & accessories)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thrift Finds for the Week - Part B

Today, I was in the next town up and decided to stop in the Goodwill there.  Boy, am I glad I did!  I hit the vintage sweater mother lode with a bit of Anthro thrown in. 

2011-11-20 002

l to r
black belt - Vintage, $2.00
red belt - Vintage, $2.00
rust sweater - Vintage, $3.50
printed sweater - Vintage, $4.00
rust cardigan - Vintage, $3.50
stripe top - Vintage Liz Claiborne, $3.50
floral top - Odille, $3.50
black sweater - Vintage, $3.50

Total $25.50

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thrift Find for the Week

I have literally not stepped foot in a thrift store since my last thrift find, over a month ago.  What can I say?  Life's been busy.  I did manage to stop in Goodwill yesterday after work and picked up this little gem.

Now, I know what your thinking, "Kara, are you crazy?  There is no way you can pull off a floral blouse from the 70s."  Well, you might be right, but I'm going to darn well try.  I'm going to do more than try.  I'm going to write a post about integrating vintage clothing into a modern wardrobe.  Using this shirt.

Thrift Finds 2011-11-19 A

Blouse - Vintage, Goodwill, $3.50

Thrift Finds 2011-11-19 B

Look at that pattern!  Now that's some vintage floral goodness!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Men Want, Apparently

Who would have thought?  What men really want is wool?  Warm, cuddly, generally-not-sexy wool. 

While trying on jackets for this outfit, my husband gives out a little cat call.

Me:  You like this outfit?
Him: Yeah!
Me:  Really?
Him:  Yeah!

This man, who never comments on or takes notice of my outfits, comments enthusiastically on a wool sweater, plaid wool skirt, and thick-knit tights.  Now we know.  Next time you want to impress your husband, put away the negligee in favor of knits.  I'm wearing flannel pajamas tonight.


Blazer - Banana Republic
Sweater - Banana Republic
Skirt - Talbots, Thrifted
Boots - Vintage
Necklace - Antique Mall
Bracelet - Mom'd

Monday, November 14, 2011

You Search, I Answer: Silk Blouse

Today, I'm starting a new series of blog posts entitled "You Search, I Answer".  Each week, I'll pick one of the search keywords that people use to find my blog and write a post based on it.  Today's post is based on the search "button up silk blouse outfits".

Ahh...the button up silk blouse.  So feminine sounding.  Silk!  Blouse!, but generally over-sized, boxy, and distinctly masculine, even in a soft color like blush.

The key to styling the button up silk shirt is simple bold pieces with a touch of the feminine.  Ruffles and florals are too overtly feminine, while trousers strike a "Sally from Third Rock from the Sun" note. (Seriously. Watch a few episodes on Netflix.) Here's my formula for getting it right:

button up silk blouse + sleek skirt + bold belt + boots + 1 piece of statement jewelry = outfit perfection

I used this same formula with this blouse and a maxi skirt.


Silk Blouse - Ann Taylor, Thrifted
Skirt - Banana Republic
Belt - Flea Market
Boots - Vintage, Thrifted
Bracelet - Vintage, Garage Sale 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ruff(les) Around the Edges

Today I got to break out of one my favorite cold-weather wardrobe stretchers: a turtleneck.  Now, I know that turtlenecks are not the most fashionable piece of clothing known to man (the white variety is a prominent feature of most ugly Christmas sweaters), but they do allow you to layer up and get some winter wear out of your warm-weather pieces.

Take this shirt for example.  Thin cotton, short sleeved, open neckline.  Layered with a purple turtleneck (and a jacket), it is now appropriate for a frosty morning commute.

Here are some ways that I have utilized turtlenecks in the past:


Jacket - LC Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
Blouse - J.Crew, Resale Shop
Turtleneck - J.Crew, Goodwill
Skinnies - F21, Resale Shop
Boots - Gianni Bini, Goodwill

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mrs. Unusual Form

Well, I'm back to the blogging world.  Thanks to all the lovely ladies who posted for me last week.  I hope you all enjoyed their posts as much as I did.

I'm now officially married.  We had a lovely wedding and fun-filled honeymoon.  I'll be sure to share some photos soon.  A wedding dress must be the ultimate outfit post.

Today, I'm wearing a necklace that I won from the lovely Marie of Watch Me Dress.  I'm telling you.  I can't wait for this girl to start her own shop.  The jewelry she makes will be selling like hot cakes. I just happened to have a tank top that matched perfectly with the colbalt and minty green of the necklace.  Some things are meant to be.


Blazer - Vintage, Goodwill
Tank Top - F21, Resale Shop
Jeans - Gap
Flats - Naturalizer
Necklace - Won from Watch Me Dress

2011-11-10 detail

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Post - Suze of Miss Vinyl Ahoy

I asked a few lovely ladies from around the web to be virtual guests at my wedding. This week while I'm sunning on a Bahamian beach, these ladies will share with you what they "wore" to my wedding. Hopefully you'll get some great ideas about what to wear to a fall wedding.  Today, we have Suze from Miss Vinyl Ahoy.

Hi guys! Suze from Miss Vinyl Ahoy here, taking over for Kara as she celebrates her nuptials!

Kara asked me what I'd wear if I were attending her wedding, and I immediatly thought of this great new Asos dress I bought and couldn't wait to wear it. Michigan is getting colder, but Kara's outdoor wedding is going to have nice and sunny weather, so I thought this dress would work perfectly. The shoes I've had forever and thought were a nice touch with the aqua in the dress. Toss on some bangles, and I'm good to go!

This is probably the easiest outfit I've ever "worn" to a wedding. Congrats to Kara, and I can't wait to see wedding photos!

Dress: Asos
Shoes: Nine West
Bracelets: Forever 21

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Post - Katie of Fashion Frugality

I asked a few lovely ladies from around the web to be virtual guests at my wedding.  This week while I'm sunning on a Bahamian beach, these ladies will share with you what they "wore" to my wedding.  Hopefully you'll get some great ideas about what to wear to a fall wedding.  Today we have Katie from Fashion Frugality.

Hi, Unusual Form readers! I'm Katie from Fashion Frugality and am honored to be here today in place of Kara. When Kara invited me to guest post here while she is off getting married (you know, no big deal and all!), I was elated! Kara always looks so put together, classy and chic, doesn't she? It is absolutely the icing on the cake that all of her outfits come together at such a great low cost! My kind of lady!

Here is what I would wear to her beautiful outdoor fall wedding...

Fall Wedding @ Unusual
Dress: Vintage (possibly handmade - no tag!), Thrifted, $5
Scarf: InetSilk, Won in giveaway from B. Jones Style
Necklace: Vintage, Bought in grab bag from Vera Grace (small boutique in Michigan), $5
Shoes: Metro7, Walmart, $7 (on sale years ago)
Purse: Fossil, Thrifted
Glasses: SEE Eyewear

Here's a little backstory on this fantastic dress: Over a year ago, I was shopping at one of my favorite local thrift shops (on a half off sale day, no less!) when I saw it on a mannequin in one of their displays. Actually, I was already in line when I saw it from across the store. Pretty sure I went from 0 to 60 and made a beeline over to this very pretty piece! It had to be mine. Now, the only problem was that this store display was on a stage type area where I would have to climb and attempt to get this off the mannequin. Doing this quietly was not going to happen so I very politely asked a nearby worker if I was allowed to take it off the mannequin. She told me no.


Deflated, I headed back to the register to purchase the rest of my items. Pouting was included. Once I got to the register, I decided to bite the bullet and ask again. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again - right? So, again, I very politely ask the cashier. She told me I could absolutely go take it off the mannequin. Pretty sure I almost leaned over the register and hugged her.

Fall Wedding @ Unusual

We've been living in bliss ever since. I am so happy to get her out and wear her to Kara's wedding! Well, sort of. Kara, we're with you in spirit!

Fall Wedding @ Unusual

Add in one of my absolute favorite necklaces and I am so good to go! Can you believe I bought this in a grab bag of misc necklaces from one of my favorite locally owned stores? Never underestimate the goodies you can find in small corners! Vera Grace is a small store in Michigan that my mom took me to a few years ago. I became a fast friend when I realized she had a box full of jewelry grab bags in the back for $7 and under.

Fall Wedding @ Unusual

Oh! Don't forget the purse! I used to be the type that would hunt down a pretty, perfectly matched purse for each special occassion I would attend. Can you say wasteful? Eesh. I've since changed my ways and find that adding an accessory like a scarf or pin to a simple purse can really dress them up and add a little pizzazz (yeah, I said it) to your outfit. Use what you have already and save yourself a lot of time, money and space. Why hold on to five zillion different purses that you only wear once, right?

Well, folks, that about does it for me! I have a wedding to catch and some dancing to do!

Fall Wedding @ Unusual

Kara, I wish you all the best for your wedding and every day thereafter. I am so happy for you and thankful that you've included me in on a small piece of the fun!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Post - Jenni of Pixie in Pumps

I asked a few lovely ladies from around the web to be virtual guests at my wedding.  This week while I'm sunning on a Bahamian beach, these ladies will share with you what they "wore" to my wedding.  Hopefully you'll get some great ideas about what to wear to a fall wedding.  Today we have Jenni from Pixie in Pumps.

2011Oct20 1

Fall weddings can be a tricky thing to dress for, especially if they are held outside. I've been to my fair share of outdoor fall weddings and can attest to the unpredictable temperatures. So my live and learn lesson is this: Layer.  Never forget your coat because chances are there will be a place to check it or at the very least a chair to hang it on in the even that it is too warm for a coat, but if the weather is cold you're not often going to find a spare coat laying around at wedding to warm you up! And you really don't want to be THAT girl thrown' back to cocktails to keep you warm… that never ends well. So here is what I would wear to Kara's wedding if I were a guest. Something simple, special, and multilayered.

And naturally I would not have this many wrinkles in this dress for a wedding. This is what I get when I wait till the end of a work day to take pictures.

Dress: Calvin Klein
Cardigan: 525 America, via Piperlime
Tights: Target
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Nail polish: Milani (Juicy Glo), via CVS
Jenni || Pixie in Pumps


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